Friday 9 July 2021

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session Eighty Nine - 'The War Council' (Part Four)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. Over a year of plotting allowed the coterie to gain control of two North-Eastern Baronies and a large part of a third. Now they are moving on to the final stage of their campaign and have their eyes on taking over the entire city, either directly or by proxy.
The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real             peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Nineteen - 'The Marius Contracts' - Part One and Two
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part SixSevenEightNine and Ten
Interlude Session One - After Griffith Park
Interlude Session Two - Divide and Conquer
Interlude Session Three - On the Brink of War
Chronicle Four - 'Conquest L.A.'
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part Six, and Epilogue
Story Twenty Two - 'The Unbound' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Story Twenty Three - 'The War Council' - Part OneTwo and Three

The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'

The Storyteller
Garreth - Everyone else...

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. 

There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

If I think something needs a bit of out of character explanation then those will get a storytellers note that will helpfully be in red. Where particular NPC's have a mention in a faction profile you will be able to reach it by clicking on their name or faction beneath their picture.

The meeting of the Barons 'War Council' has made even more progress. It has been agreed that Harvey Caplan will take over the absent position of Baron of the South Coast and that baron Boyd of the Crypts Sons must be revived from torpor in order to lead the fractured remnants of his gang. Meanwhile, Gary Golden, leader of the Hollywood Nosferatu, has agreed to consult with Bertram Tung to discover exactly how such a thorough infiltration of Los Angeles was undertaken.

Scene Twelve - Questions of Loyalty
Therese Voerman - Malkavian
Baron of Santa Monica
Therese Voerman, Baron of Santa Monica raised the status's of the several nominally independent groups of kindred who operated within the city. Of specific concern was the United Chantry of Los Angeles which contained a number of blood sorcerers who were, at least in theory, still loyal to the Camarilla. Also of concern was Ike's Brujah Fight Club, The Bahari and the Circulatory System. The latter of which was generally regarded as an organisation that was primarily associated with the Ventrue of the Camarilla despite it's claims of autonomy.

Michael agreed that at the very least these organisations should be approached by whichever Baron controlled the territories that these organisations were based in.

The usually taciturn Vin chose to speak on Ike's behalf. "Those Brujah who attend the 'so-called' Fight Club are mainly Anarch Brujah. Outside guests are rare but carefully vetted and monitored. Now that my clan is, for the most part, separated from the influence of the Camarilla the membership of the club is Anarch, if not in name, then certainly in outlook." He paused briefly, knowing that Michael and Daniel would be observing the reactions of the assembled kindred. After a moment he continued. "To cast doubt upon the integrity of it's members would be a slur upon all Brujah. something I'm sure no-one here would consider..."

Isaac 'Ike' Griffith - Brujah
Founder of the 'Fight Clubs'
Michael and Daniel could see that the Brujah present all agreed with Vin. It seemed unlikely to either of them that Ike would be a threat to the Free States. Despite him also operating in Camarilla held cities, his status as apolitical was well known and respected.

The chantry's status was more complicated. The Tremere clan was now split into at least four houses though only three had any significant power. House Tremere and House Carna were still part of the Camarilla. The status of House Goratrix was more complicated as it was still broadly considered to have some influence within the Sabbat.

A fourth faction called House Ipsissimus could be found amongst the Anarchs but as far as anyone was aware it had only a single member resident in Los Angeles. Alessandro Kaye was an advisor to Gloria Martinez and his loyalty to her was without question. As the chantry was located in Downtown, all eyes turned to Marius.

"My childe Eleanor has acted as my liaison with the chantry since her arrival in the city. In her opinion they are still respecting their agreement to keep out of Anarch politics and limit themselves to their researches and experiments. There has been no sign of their influence in Vannevar's invasion and their movements outside of their Chantry are carefully monitored."

Eleanor Braun - Gangrel
Childe of Marius, Blood Sorceress
"All visitors have announced themselves upon arrival within my domain. I see nothing to be gained by antagonising a group who have honoured their word. In fact questioning it may well push them into the very direction that some here suspect them of."

No-one truly trusted Marius. He was notoriously unpredictable, constantly plotting and spread his influence and personal agendas at any opportunity. In this matter however he seemed sincere in his belief that interference in the chantry's activities would cause more harm than good. Though not exactly vouching for it's inhabitants, this was the closest Marius ever got to taking actual responsibility for something.

"...and the Bahari?" prompted Michael. He knew much about the Bahari of the city, but their darker impulses caused him considerably concern.

Vampire adherents of the Path of Lilith, otherwise known as the Lilin, Lilitu, or Bahari, revered the progenitor vampire. They believed Lilith was the first, usurped vampire, the mother who births the vitae, and that all Kindred are her children.

The Bahari sought enlightenment through pain and conflict, turning these masochistic urges into the strength to endure and overcome. As Lilith rebelled against God’s commands and fought against her curse, her followers defeat the weaknesses and curses upon them to become something else. Some Bahari led other Kindred to enlightenment, others become perfected predators. 

'Mary' - Bahari Gangrel
'Mother' of the Chosen of Ennoia
Bahari deprecated compassion in favour of fleshly pleasure, transient love, and strict parenthood over Kindred they deemed to be 'lesser'.

The Bahari believed it was their duty to fulfil the roles of torturer, student, teacher, or lover to other Kindred. Bahari theology was largely built around the idea that pain leads to revelation and that chaos is a creative force. It is these beliefs that have resulted in their less than savoury reputation amongst other kindred. That and a tendency to diablerise their own childer...

The 'Mother' of the Bahari within Los Angeles was another childe of Marius known as Mary and she had established a cult of kindred and mortal followers around her. Though her sect appeared to be still relatively small, her followers were fanatically loyal to her and eager to show their devotion too.

The Bahari within the so-called 'Temple of Enlightenment' are often referred to as The Children of the Wolf as they are exclusively Gangrel though they more often refer to themselves as the Children of Ennoia or sometimes the 'Chosen of Ennoia'. This indicated to Michael's research that they were not simply Bahari, but also ancestor worshippers who venerated the Gangrel Antediluvian.

Michael's musing was interrupted by Marius's reply.

Marius Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown
"Mary is mistress of her own affairs and answers to no-one but herself..." Began Marius. Michael and Daniel could clearly see that Louis Fortier, Isaac Abrams and Therese Voerman doubted this statement though other Barons seemed to accept Marius's word. "...that being said, she is still my childe and may accept my guidance on this matter if the concerns of this council are put to her diplomatically."

The coterie had, over the last two years, discovered a considerable number of Bahari within the city. Many of these were childer, grandechilder or followers of Marius. Despite the Bahari being traditionally matriarchal, the coterie was convinced that Marius was the driving force behind those within Los Angeles who devoted themselves to Lilith, the Dark Mother. They were also certain that he himself was an ancestor worshipper of Ennoia.

The only chink in the relationship between Marius and Mary seemed to be that he pledged himself to Ennoia first and Lilith second, whereas Mary's first loyalty was undoubtedly to Lilith rather than the antediluvian. The coterie had also witnessed first hand that Baron Walker had a hold over his kindred descendants that went beyond blood bonds or mere loyalty. Though they had never discovered it's source, his ability to impose his will over childer, grandechilder and beyond was without doubt.

Marius continued "However, I'm certain that the Bahari have no more desire to see a Prince rule over this city than any kindred within this room." His phrasing seemed slightly odd as if he was implying that there were those at the council who actually might welcome the presence of a Prince. Further conjecture was however interrupted by Gary's return.

Scene Thirteen - Under Construction
Gary Golden has returned from his consultation with Bertram Tung and is clutching a handful of documents and what appears to be a large rolled up map.

Gary Golden and Bertram Tung - Nosferatu Information Brokers

"You are to be complemented on your computer systems and Bertram's considerable collection of databases." began Gary. "I believe that between us we have located the base of operation of Vannevar's forces. Or should I say, the twelve bases of operations we suspect we have discovered so far..."

Between Gary's explanations and several pertinent questions put forward by various of the present kindred the following information was revealed.

Vannevar Thomas - Prince of San Francisco and San Jose

A company called Harper Construction, based in San Francisco, had been responsible for a number of building projects around Los Angeles. Gary and Bertram had traced this corporation to several businesses under Camarilla control that Vannevar had heavily invested in. Broadly speaking there was at least one of these projects in each of the Anarch baronies within the city. These sites had allowed Vannevar to transport whatever he wished into the city without raising suspicion. They had also discovered that the logistics wing of Harper Construction, Harper Logistics, currently had a container ship in Los Angeles docks.

Los Angeles Docks at Night - South Coast Barony

This information had created some dissent amongst the kindred present as each suspected that such an operation could not have been implemented without the cooperation of traitorous elements amongst the Anarchs. Seeing that the delicate alliance created could easily begin to unravel, Michael rose from his chair and spoke.

Louis Fortier - Ventrue
Baron of West Los Angeles
"It is natural for us to think of our personal interests in light of such a discovery but let me remind you what we have already accomplished through cooperation rather than competition. Vannevar's plan was clever and innovative but together we have discovered it and are now in a position to counter it as one. Now is not the time for petty is the time to plan a decisive blow against our mutual foe."

Storytellers Note - Michael's player rolled spectacularly well to persuade the assembled kindred to put away their differences. Normally I would have simply let the fact that his speech was well roleplayed be enough but with thirteen Barons to persuade I figured some dice were necessary too.

Baron Fortier also rose and added his weight to Michael's opinion. "Michael is correct. Mr Golden, please continue with your briefing..."

"This is where it becomes more concerning." stated Gary, as if there being multiple enemy bases in the city wasn't concern enough. "This particular company is licensed to use explosives and has a permit on record for their use within Los Angeles. I doubt they intend them for the recommended purpose..."

"What about other weapons?" interrupted Daniel. "Do these companies have any military or security connections?"

"Unfortunately, Yes." replied Gary "So we can expect the infiltrators to be heavily armed. Especially as they have had over a year to gradually bring in whatever equipment they may require, via Harper Logistics." He then rolled out a detailed map of the city upon which he had marked the known locations of Harper Construction sites and depots. There were indeed, at least one per Barony. The corners were weighed down by bottles and glasses as the barons perused their own domains to see exactly where the threats to each of them were located.

'Rosa' - Duskborn Visionary
"They'll have a leader for the offensive aspects of the invasion, either a Nosferatu or a Brujah if they have any who stayed loyal to them. And another overall leader, probably a Ventrue." Stated Vin, looking at the map and noting that the base bear to Pasadena was actually to the North and closer to the mountains than to any area of importance to them. "We just need to work out which of these locations is their primary base..."

A surprisingly powerful yet cheerful voice cut through the noise. "It's that one..." said Rosa gesturing to one corner of the map. Though clearly insane, the duskborns talents as a seer were well known. the information she provided was as random as her own thoughts but she rarely made a proclamation that was less than 100% correct. She skipped over to the table and planted her finger firmly on a location in the barony formerly ruled by Steve Booth, and now the domain of Harvey Caplan.

"Are you sure?" asked Allison Maller, concerned that the specified location was also close to her own border.

"She's sure." answered Therese Voerman. None questioned the proclamation. Therese never made definitive statements unless she knew she was right. Therese and Rosa exchanged a brief but knowing glance. Evidently there was some connection there that none present had been aware of previously.

Fortier also took Rosa's statement at face value though in his case he had experienced the accuracy of her fortune telling in the past so had some personal experience of her periodic bouts of reliability. He then took control of the meeting to lay out some ideas of his own.

'The Circle' - Gangrel
Downtown's Sweepers
"Firstly we need to monitor any further comings and goings into the city to these locations and any contact between them. As Marius already passes information between our baronies via the Gangrel 'Oratory', I suggest that he be given...temporary...control of our various domains own sweepers in order to ensure that we know exactly what's been transported across our city."

Storytellers Note - As most of the cities sweepers are Gangrel and their method of passing on information is generally verbal, the other kindred of Los Angeles have taken to calling this 'The Oratory' and the name has stuck.

Michael was surprised to note that Marius didn't seem as keen on the responsibility as he would have imagined. "I'll get it arranged." he replied, before turning to his ghoul assistant Victoria. "Tell 'The Circle' that I need to meet them immediately after this meeting. I have some work for them..."

Marius then addressed the gathering once more. "This will have to be done carefully. Vannevar has undoubtedly prepared his forces with counters to kindred methods of observation. Countering his countermeasures may take a little time but I'm sure it can be done."

Vin leaned down and whispered something to Michael. "It's getting Marius's claws out of them when the Barons want their own sweepers back that's going to be the real problem." Michael nodded noncommittedly. The thought had occurred to him and no doubt also to many of the other Barons present. Still, under the circumstances, it was a sound plan. Marius was a skilled war leader and strategist and had a talent for organisation and creative problem solving. Getting him to relinquish control once the battle was done was a problem for another night.

Harvey Caplan - Ventrue
Baron of the South Coast
Marius however hadn't finished. "I suggest that Vinicius and 'The Hunters' be allocated to Harvey Caplan to help with his consolidation of the South Coast. They are conveniently located, have experience with coastal operations and have their own resources so would require no support from Harvey other than mission parameters."

Harvey nodded his thanks. The Hunters would make his job of bringing the South Coast to some semblance of order significantly simpler. His own followers were competent enough but only two were formidable enough to bring rogue kindred into line. Vinicius's pack would add considerably to his offensive options.

Harvey also assured the gathered Barons that now he was aware of the Harper Logistics vessel within his dock that he would ensure that it was monitored carefully. If necessary he could use his influence to cause it any number of difficulties in loading and unloading any cargo that might be a threat to the councils actions against Vannevar.

Some other minor issues were discussed, including using mortal influence to assist with their surveillance and to create problems for Vannevar's legitimate operations within the city as well as which Barons would take on what responsibilities.

"It's obvious that we need to prioritise reconnaissance of the site indicated by Rosa." interjected Michael once the conversation had settled down once more. "Daniel has shown considerable skill in that area and I suggest him for the task.

Scene Fourteen - The 'K' Team
Jean 'Jax' Thomas - Elder Ghoul
Ghoul of Louis Fortier
"It seems a lot for a single kindred to accomplish, especially under these circumstances." said Baron Fortier. "If he is to undertake this task then he will need a team of operatives with complimentary skills to ensure it's success. I suggest my own ghoul 'Jax' for a start. As a mortal he can perform tasks at times that would be out of the question for kindred."

It was very obvious that Louis's support for the idea, hinged upon the inclusion of his specified operative. "He sounds perfect." said Daniel diplomatically. Daniel had actually met Jax before and had briefly been forced to engage him in combat. 

As neither he, nor Jax were meant to be where they had fought there should be no recriminations if Jax recognized Daniel. They had in fact both failed in their task as another Baron's operative had already removed the hard drive they were both seeking.

Storytellers Note - The encounter occurred in this session HERE.

"I'd also like to add 'Chick' from Baron Voerman's commando coterie to assist with any required infiltration of the facility itself. her skills in this area are well known, if she can be spared that is?

Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
Santa Monica 'Commando Coterie'
Therese Voerman raised no objections. Charlie 'Chick' Abbott was a Banu Haqim and one of the few kindred in L.A. who knew that Daniel was also of that clan and not Brujah as he claimed.

"I'll also need skilled spotters who are also able to give covering fire should it become necessary." he turned to Marius. "Does the budget for this operation extent to acquiring the services of the Pale Lady?"

'The Pale Lady', or Emmanuella Booth to use her given name was one of the foremost kindred assassins in the world. She was known for removing targets at range but was equally as deadly in close quarters. 

Her main rival for the title of premier killer amongst the kindred assassins was Fatima Al-Faqadi and they had been competitors for some time. Daniel knew that she was of Marius's bloodline and that he could access her services if he so desired. He also knew that she didn't give discounts, even to family.

"I presume you'll also require Rebecca?" asked Marius. Daniel confirmed that this was indeed the case. Rebecca was also an accomplished sniper though not in the league of her sire Emmanuella. 

Emmanuella 'The Pale Lady' Booth and her childe 'Rebecca'

She was also notorious for getting herself into trouble that Marius or her sire then had to extract her from. Hopefully she could be relied upon in this operation given the stakes involved should they fail. Daniel suspected that she gained a perverse enjoyment from inconveniencing her sire and grandesire in such a manner and that they in return were less annoyed by her activities than they actually pretended to be.

"I'll also need support of a both technical and sorcerous nature." He continued. "Bertram's protégé Eric will be ideal for the technical aspects and and Baron Martinez's House Ipsissimus advisor, Alessandro Kaye should be of assistance should we encounter defences of an occult nature."

Alessandro Kaye - House Ipsissimus, Eric Moore - Nosferatu

Daniel was understandably reluctant to ask assistance of any blood mage associated with the Camarilla so his options were somewhat limited in this area. Alessandro had served Gloria well over the last few years and so should be able to fulfil the role required of him.

Velme - Toreador
Suspected Daughter of Cacophony
"I'd also like to take Hope Romero from our own Barony of Pasadena as back-up should we need someone to engage any potential pursuers on the ground." Michael of course had no objection. 

"Perhaps Baron Martinez would also be willing to lend me the services of Velme? They seemed very capable during our last joint venture and had some interesting talents for distracting guards..."

"Not taking Vin?" asked Marius conversationally.

"No..." replied Daniel. "I'll be busy protecting our own Barony." responded Vin

"I think that concludes our business for the night." concluded Fortier. "Daniel. You have a day to undertake any reconnaissance you deem necessary via your own agents. This council will expect your operation against Vannevar's South Coast facility to begin the following night. Agreed?"

Daniel nodded though in his own head he was hoping he hadn't bitten off more than he could chew.

In Conclusion
I like to do a round-up of how the session went in these features but if you couldn't give a shit what I think then feel free to skip this bit...

Well the players got what they wanted and managed to keep any of the meetings kindred from declaring war on one another so that's not bad going. Now they just have to keep the alliance together long enough to purge Vannevar's Camarilla from Los Angeles.

And not get themselves destroyed during the process of course...

Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved.

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Therese Voerman is Whitney Moore, Isaac 'Ike' Griffith is Jason Statham, Eleanor Braun is P.J. Harvey, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Vannevar Thomas is Bryan Dechart, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Rosa is Mahafsoun, Harvel Caplan is Harvey Keitel, Jean 'Jax' Thomas is Jean-Claude Van Damme, Charlie 'Chick' Abbott is Lena Headey, 'The Pale Lady' is Anastasia E.G., Rebecca is Amy Acker and Velme is Ruby Rose

Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement.

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