When the kids expressed interest in playing Vampire, I told them that I hated the subsystem. Mechanically it's not any different from Changeling, it's the lore that I don't like (there's nothing wrong with it per se, just not my style), and while you can be combat heavy with it (which given the insane strength and speed vampires have can be quite entertaining and occasionally interesting to manage), it's generally geared towards more political intrigue which I am absolutely terrible at because I'm lucky if I have Wits 1.
I eventually agreed to run a Vampire game for them only because I figured out a way to run it concurrently with Mercenaries and put them on a time limit to get some characters happening. Three of them met the challenge easily and came up with some interesting enough characters that it made me hate Vampire slightly less, and then I had to give C a hard time for not even making a vampire as he had been one of the ones more vocal about it. He told me he had been joking, joke's on him as I'm a bit hopeless at picking/understanding jokes unless they're blatantly obvious.
- Tony "Big Tony" Salvadore: Mind/Connections Mage (played by C)
- Senator Archibald Armstrong: Ventrue Vampire (played by T)
- Nathan Fawkes: Assamite Vampire (played by 16yo)
After spending an unexpected "month or two" in Turkey (in his prelude, Nathan had gone there to deliver a shipment of illicit drugs and was only supposed to stay there for a week or so, the drugs got delivered and he ended up getting turned into a vampire) trying to learn how to be an assassin (the character concept is along the lines of an assassin that doesn't have some of the key assassin abilities such as stealth), Nathan's sire Sehrazat informs him that she is sending him to New Orleans, and that she would like him to help out Senator Armstrong (she explains that "Senator" is his first name not a title, who knows what his parents were thinking) in any way he can. Nathan tries to press for more details but Sehrazat is not forthcoming with them, but does indicate that she and Archie's sire Leon Ahlers know each other. She also warns him that one of Archie's main subordinates is a mind mage and teaches him basic mind shielding techniques, and also adds that he is extremely sensitive about his height and to not tease him about being short no matter how tempting it is. She hands him files on the two and says that he is going to be shipped back in a coffin and will likely end up in a dark room with a locked door, in which case to just remain there until someone comes down.
Nathan gets shipped back and when he's not snoozing he plays games on his phone and studies the files.
Tony attends a meeting containing mostly ghouls and a handful of humans who manage the business affairs of their vampire masters during business hours.
C rolls way more successes than he needed to.
Being the charming fellow that he is (his Charisma specialisation is literally "charm"), he very quickly finds out that Sabbat vampires have been trying to make headway into New Orleans (which is currently very securely Camarilla territory), and a decent chunk of the meeting had been dedicated to spitballing ideas and forming loose political factions. Tony is enticed to committing to any given group but manages to fob them off til he can talk to Archie. He is able to excuse himself from that side of things and overheard a conversation about a new drug which he (being a Mafia boss) immediately involves himself in that conversation and impresses the right people enough that he finds out that it was originally developed by a Tremere as one of the multi-pronged attacks to deal with the Sabbat. It is acknowledged that it's highly addictive to both humans and vampires, and that vampires actually get a much better high if they feed off a human who has taken it than taking it themselves, and that there is no way to make sure only Sabbat vampires are affected but they're willing to risk the collateral. As an added bonus, due to the aforementioned addiction level, it's highly lucrative for Tony's normal day to day Mafia operations. He also finds out that the Fera (particularly the Garou) have increased activity around the city but no one has figured out why yet.
On his way out, Tony racks his brain trying to remember where he's heard of "Glamour" before, but can't quite put his finger on it. He places a call to one of his goons to get the ball rolling on production. He sees Allegra, his old flame/magickal rival/friend with privileges walking down the street and after recognising her and wondering what she's doing there, sends her a telepathic greeting. She pauses, turns and looks at him, then smiles, returns the greeting and continues walking. Tony stares after her for a while but figures "not today" and leaves her to it. Shortly after that decision he gets a call from a subordinate at a funeral director he owns, letting him know that they received a coffin addressed to Archie. Tony says he will be along tonight to look at it, and confirms that the subordinate's decision to lock it in the vault was a wise one.
Tony then calls Archie to let him know what's going on.
Archie is grumpy when he answers the phone as it's too early for him to wake up. Tony imparts the information that he learned at the meeting, and adds that he thinks he may have received a vampire in the mail for Archie. Slightly confused, Archie says he will be around later to check it out. After hanging up, Archie checks the time and realises that there's no point trying to go back to sleep now and busies himself until his wife Ceciliana gets home. She heads downstairs to the vault that they sleep in and starts getting changed for an Elysium dinner engagement that they're going to, and she fills him in on what's been going on where she works at the mayor's offices. She describes how Mayor Aleppo is initiating a "war on drugs" which involves bumping up police presence in certain areas, fines and jail terms for dealers and rehabilitation and community service programs for offenders, all of which is heavily opposed by opposition leader Verna Pickle. Archie is mildly exasperated saying wars on drugs never work, and expressing some sympathy for Tony who is going to have to deal with the increased police presence in certain areas.
Ceciliana reminds him that they need to get to the Elysium for the dinner engagement, gives him a kiss and says she will meet him upstairs as she correctly figures he's going to feed off one of the staff (T bought herd and we decided that the herd was the mansion staff who agree to this as part of their employment terms). As she's on her way out, Archie starts foraging around and then asks her if she's seen his list (he rotates through the staff to make sure they're all fed from equally and with a decent gap in between). She replies it should be in the drawer of his bedside table as per usual. Archie looks again and finds it, thanks her and continues perusing when she leaves. He then goes upstairs, summons one of the staff ("Jimmy! It's your turn today."), feeds, and then goes back to find Ceciliana to work out logistics for fitting in everything they need to get done. The dinner engagement is late enough that he decides he will go and see Tony at the funeral home first, and brings Ceciliana with him as they don't have time for him to double back to pick her up and being a reasonably powerful mage and generally sensible, they're not concerned about her being in too much danger.
Archie and Ceciliana are driven in their nice car to Tony's funeral home, where they meet Tony and a couple of his goons all armed with flamethrowers. They agree that Archie will go in and check out the coffin and confirm their suspicions that there's a vampire in there, and Archie can talk to him, and if the vampire turns out to be hostile, Archie is to run out and Tony and the goons will roast him.
16yo looks mildly concerned at this as he's the vampire in the coffin.
Archie heads in. Nathan is chilling in the coffin covered in packing foam and with his earbuds in so doesn't really hear any of this going on. Archie knocks on the box. Nathan takes his headphones off and listens, Archie knocks again and when Nathan doesn't answer but has moved a bit from taking out his earbuds, Archie mentions that he can hear him in there. Nathan pretends that he can't speak English, but his attempt at Spanish is so terrible (16yo actually attempted Spanish but garbled it with such hilarity we all decided that was canon) that Archie isn't convinced in the slightest and just rips the lid off the coffin (did not make him roll because Strength 4), revealing a very startled Nathan.
This was much funnier in person as they mostly acted it out.
Nathan stares up at Archie in stunned silence for a moment, then quickly compares him to the photo in the file that he happened to have been reading at the time. After looking back and forth for a moment, Archie exasperatedly says that he supposes Nathan has a photo of him and asks if it's at least a good one. Nathan replies that he looks very different and what happened to the handlebar moustache. Confused, Archie calls up to Ceciliana asking if he ever had a handlebar moustache (I'm pretty sure I rolled to see if he did and that she answered but can't remember what the answer was), and then asks Nathan if he's sure he didn't get a photo of Hulk Hogan instead. Nathan looks up Hulk Hogan and wonders if he did accidentally get a picture of him instead of Archie.
Tony calls down something and Nathan once more compares the pictures, expressing some surprise that Tony is there too. Archie asks Tony to come down and join them, Tony flat out refuses ("NUP.").
They check the time and need to head into the Elysium. Archie decides that Nathan is coming with them so they can do initial introductions and make sure he isn't immediately hunted down for having the audacity to be a new vampire in town and an Assamite to boot.
16yo says good thing he dressed in a suit and makes a great show of straightening out his t-shirt and pants like his character might straighten out the suit that would be rumpled from lying down in it for several hours.
Tony likes to gad about in a limo and both limo and driver are at the funeral home because that's where Tony currently is. Archie decides that the whole group of them will take the limo to Elysium and sends his car and driver home. While the decisions are being made, Tony attempts to mind probe Nathan to verify that he's been telling them the truth about who he is and why he's there (which was very vague as Nathan wasn't given enough information to begin with), and gets waterfalls. He tries again.
C fails the roll and goes "Oh no...he notices."
Nathan picks up the second mental probe as something tapping lightly on his mind. Having remembered that Sehrazat had said that Tony is a mind mage, Nathan thinks harder about waterfalls, and then just to mess with Tony, dreams up a very badly drawn and animated (16yo described it as having no joints so kind of "waddling") stick figure caricature of Tony fleeing across the waterfalls from a bear, accompanied by a very obvious label of "SHORT" with a big arrow pointing to the stick figure Tony.
Tony decides that it would be prudent to sit up the front with the driver instead of in the back where he would normally have sat with Archie and Ceciliana. He uses Connections to keep a magical ear on any conversation that might be happening in the back, but not a lot is going on as despite Archie's efforts Nathan is not very conversational.
At this point is the first apology to the players for it being my first time with this style of game, I have never played nor run it before, and that coupled with my general desire for the players to be the main characters was mostly responsible for the highly sociable Ceciliana to not join in the conversation at that point.
A little bored on the drive, Tony casually probes his driver's mind and finds him silently panicking as Tony had warned him when he got in that "there's leeches in the back." Tony tries to reassure him and calm him down, only for the driver to panic more remembering that Tony can read minds, and he starts repeating "don't think about anything" inside his head. Tony says "that's...not really helping..." or something along those lines which causes the driver to continue panicking, repeating his mantra and silently screaming. Tony probably gave up at that point.
They reach the Elysium, which is being held in a beautiful concert building, and make their entrance. They are given many sideways suspicious glances and leave whispers of "...is that an Assamite...?" in their wake. Tony is extremely uneasy being among so many vampires, and after they've done the rounds and introduced Nathan as Archie's new bodyguard, he looks around to see if he can spot Allegra. Failing, he thinks it unusual that she wouldn't be at something like this, and tucks himself into a corner with a bottle of water that he brought with him.
I apologise again as I am really struggling to come up with the casual conversation that would be going on at this sort of nonsense never mind the political intrigue which I'm pretty sure is actually out of my ability, and end up just describing a lot of what the characters are talking about rather than roleplaying the conversations, but continuing to encourage them to try to roleplay it out anyway as occasionally their conversation is able to prompt me.
All of them do abysmally on their dice rolls so none of them find out any more than Tony has already told Archie, which is the news about the Sabbat trying to invade and this new drug called Glamour.
After finding out about the Glamour drug, Archie is quite sure that the term "Glamour" sounds familiar, but like Tony he can't quite put his finger on it. He goes looking for Ceciliana hoping that she might have some insight on it, and sees her deep in conversation with a couple of vampires who are just high ranking enough that he doesn't feel comfortable butting into their conversation. He hovers around looking for a break in the conversation.
Not too far away, Tony is approached by a vampire named Mark Stojanovski, who strikes up a friendly conversation.
Once more I apologise profusely for not having the wit and charm of Mr Stojanovski so I really fall flat at what's supposed to be a rather tense conversation. From the reactions I was getting, I think I got at least the tension across if nothing else. I tell the players that Mark has approached Tony three or four times previously and Tony has worked out that Mark is trying to poach him from Archie. C hypothesises that Mark wants to Embrace Tony, avail himself of the resources Tony controls or some combination thereof.
Feeling slightly terrified, Tony does what he probably did in the pre-game previous times and fobs Mark off as politely as possible.
I tell C that Tony has an almost overwhelming feeling that he needs to avoid Mark outside of Elysium if he can.
Fortunately for him, Archie notices during his scans of the room while waiting for Ceciliana to finish her conversation and makes his way over. Tony sees him coming and very deliberately brings up what they were talking about and saying he can't accept Mark's offer at this time as he still has business to take care of for Archie, making sure Archie is able to overhear it. Archie very politely berates Mark for making things difficult for his subordinate and injects very strong subtle hints to back right off. Mark engages in civil discourse with Archie before taking the hint and backing off for now. Having gotten a similar impression to what Tony had from the end of the conversation, Archie quietly says to Tony that he can "use Nathan to take care of him if you want".
Archie and Tony chat quietly after dispatching Mark, finding out that they each know as much about Glamour as the other, and Tony has the same idea about asking Ceciliana. Archie comments that she's talking to some high ranking vampires that he doesn't feel comfortable interrupting and "you know these undead ladies, they can talk for centuries." Archie then notices that Ceciliana has finished her conversation and is making her way across to some other people. He beelines and intercepts her, she is slightly amused by him casually latching on to her and asks him what's up. He asks about Glamour and is told aside from the new fangled drug that's cropped up, it's Fae magic. Tony pops in and out of their conversation in a slightly comical manner and at one stage leaves the building altogether and hangs outside near the limo. Archie tries to make sense of the information that he's gathered so far.
While all this has been going on, Nathan has been looking for the next highest gen vampire in the room, probably looking for an excuse to diablerise. He strikes up a conversation with a likely looking fellow dressed like a Georgian and after a bit of an awkward start (16yo said he was trying for as offensive as possible to as many people as possible but in a way that the character would do cluelessly rather than intentionally), the vampire finds him amusing and they have entertaining pseudointellectual conversations.
My session writeup notes ended rather abruptly but I am pretty sure I left them cheerfully (or not so cheerfully in the case of Tony) socialising at Elysium to finish off.
This work by bek (ryivhnn) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.