Friday, March 24, 2017

Night 6 Stealing from the Thieves

Night 6
Stealing from the Thieves
Thursday, November 12th, 1992

As the 6th night begins, the Chaos Factor is set to 6. No random event (Roll 7), and no planned encounter with local vampires (1-10 chance, rolled an 8.)

Daron, Maya, and Trent awaken in their makeshift basement haven, having safely survived another day. They’re all mildly hungry, but after feeding heavily on cattle the previous night, the hunger isn’t overwhelming. They all decide to wait until later that night, particularly since they’ve found a safer way to feed. Instead, they discuss what they want to do now. They are following two major plans.  The first is the investigation into Prestor, his origins, and his mysterious visitor. The second is Maya’s still vague idea to rob the dealers. Given that, what does each character want to do?

Daron: Antagonize Evil
Maya:  Kill Pleasures
Trent: Passion Attention

A strange madness seems to come over the characters, and they are all too eager to go after the dealers, tonight. Now. Perhaps it’s the realization that they need they have a need for the cash, that their resources are not up to their needs. Perhaps it’s their latent predatory nature. Perhaps they’re just feel the need to DO something after the relative peace and inaction of the past few days. Or, perhaps they’re just bored.

It doesn’t really matter, they’re eager for action, and choose to hit them earlier, rather than later. Yes, they know it’ll be more difficult earlier, but they’re feeling down right cocky, and they figure there’s more cash earlier in the evening. They need the money, and they’re ready to bust loose. They’ve been cooped up to long, and a lust for violence overcomes them.
NOTE: I really figured Maya’s plan would be a multi-night thing, as they slowly figure out where the money is going and the best place to hit it. But, nope, they’re going after it.
They don’t have weapons, and have neither the time nor the cash to get any. So, what’s the coterie’s plan? Overthrow Joy. Daron and Trent will disguise themselves as buyers, while Maya sneaks into position, as close as she can to the stash. Daron and Trent will cause a commotion to draw attention, and Maya will grab the cash.

How much does Maya know of the crew? I have her roll Int + Streetwise, and she gets no successes.  She’s not actually sure how many there were, or how each filled which roll—unfortunately, she didn’t have the best vantage point. No matter, they’ll just need to improvise.

They leave their haven, successfully avoiding the notice of their neighbors. They decide to drive together, and all pile into the Ford. They drive near the dealers, allowing Maya to hop out of the car and creep into position, then drive a few blocks away and park. They give her about 10 minutes before they’ll show up to make the “deal.”

With Maya moving into position, I roll Mythic, and get “Altered Scene: NPC Action (Bothwell) Extravagance Masses.”  As Maya sneaks up, she’s surprised to see a white man talking with crew, seeming to give them orders. Does she recognize him from Trent’s Description? 50/50. No. How well does she hide? With Bothwell present, the difficulty goes back up to 8 for her Wits + Stealth roll, and she gets 2 Successes. Can she overhear what Bothwell is saying? She’s deliberately hanging to the flank, hoping to avoid attention. Perception + Alertness, dif 8. 1 success. She hears…something about “keeping your eyes open” or the like. But she’s not sure what that means. She hides, and waits for the boys, who should be walking up soon.

Is Bothwell gone by then? Likely. Yes. Maya is hidden, Daron and Trent walk up, trying to blend in. Cha + Streetwise rolls, and both Succeed. They seem like normal buyers, even if clearly not from the neighborhood. The “negotiator” walks up to them, bragging about their product. Does he recognize them? He just heard their description, but the odds of them walking up 10 mins later is so bizarre, he might not notice. 50/50 Yes, he does.

He tenses. Daron and Trent sense something is off, but they don’t know what, or why.  Stick to the plan? 50/50, No. They attack immediately, figuring the plan is blown anyway.

This is the first “real” combat of the game, so I’m going to go round by round.  The core book doesn’t include a generic “gang member” stats, so I base them on a Police Officer (Physical Stats of 3, all others at 2), but drop their Firearms to only 2.  I’m not sure how many there are in this crew, so I roll a d10 and get 6. There’s probably a few others, mainly look outs, who won’t get involved in any direct confrontation.

Both Daron and Trent roll Wit’s + Brawl to attempt a “surprise” hit on the “negotiator,” who is somewhat shocked to even see these guys here. They fail.

Round 1.  In 1st Ed Vampire, combat is handled a bit differently than in later versions. Each attack is handled with opposed Dexterity + Brawl (or melee) rolls, with only the character with the most successes actually dealing damage. Damage and Soaking also have variable difficulties, but I won’t bother going that deep. However, only Vampires can soak in this system. I’d probably allow mortals to soak vs. mortals, but will keep this rule for Vampire on Mortal battles.

Daron and Trent will attack the negotiator (now dubbed G1), while G1 focuses on Daron. Both G1 and Daron get 4 successes. They tie, so neither deals noticeable damage. Trent lands a weak blow, to no noticeable effect.

The rest of the gang see the commotion, but are initially more amused than alarmed.

Round 2.  Daron and Trent both spend 1 BB each, increasing their Strength, and spend a Willpower point to accomplish this. G1 still focuses on Daron and succeeds, but Daron Soaks the damage. Trent successfully hits for 4 damage.

Seeing the turn of the fight, the rest of the gang moves in, intending to beat the ever-living shit out of the characters.

As they move, Maya leaps from the shadow to attack one. She succeeds, and thanks to her Potence, she deals 7 damage—he’s out, broken and bleeding. He’ll need to get to an ER, but he should live. Do the others notice? No. 4 members left, not counting the Negotiatior/G1.

Round 3. Everyone is involved. Daron and Maya spend 1 Blood Point each to increase their Dexterity (and spend the necessary Willpower), while Trent spends 1 to activate his Celerity (no Willpower needed). The 4 new combatants divide up—1 (G2) goes to help G1 take on Daron. The other three focus on Trent. Maya moves up behind this group.

Daron ignores the wounded G1, and focuses on the new threat. G2 and Daron each get 3 successes, while G1 lands a lucky blow, which Daron Soaks.

Trent has enough Celerity to take on all three of his new foes (G3, G4, and G5).  With his inhuman speed, Trent is able to keep them off of him, and deal some minor damage. They are unprepared for the whirlwind they find in front of them. G3 1 success to hit vs. Trent’s 2: no damage (bad rolls), G4 1 success to hit vs Trent’s 2: 1 damage, and G5 2 success to hit vs Trent’s 3, 1 damage.

Maya picks G3, who is both unaware of her and out of dice. She hits, deals 7 damage, and he crumbles to the ground, a moaning pile of broken bones and torn, bleeding skin.

Round 4. Trent again spends blood on Celerity, Daron and Maya again increase their Dexterity value.
G2 and G1 keep up on Daron, and he’s finally able to land a solid blow on G2, for 5 damage. Trent easily handles G3 and G4, and is able to deal 6 damage to G3, whom Maya quickly finishes off.

Round 5 Things are bad for the crew. This has gone from a “kick those punks’ asses” to a real, dangerous fight.  Do they draw their guns? Likely—yes. They draw, deciding to end this shit, now.

G1, G2, and G4 all draw their light automatics (9mm), back up, and begin firing at the coterie. I decide to make them but need to “split” their die pools, figuring the “draw and back up from the fight” takes half their dice for the round.

Trent spends 1 Blood Point on Celerity, the others do not spend Blood this round.

G4 fires at Maya, who dodges out the way.  G4 gets no successes, and the shot goes wild.

G1 aims at Daron, but misses. G2 aims at Trent (who attempts to dodge, but fails), hits and deals 1 
damage after Soak.  With his two remaining actions, Trent is able to hit and drop the G1 and G2.

Only one member (G4) of the crew is left, holding his gun. Daron looks at him—“Drop it.” He does, then runs for his life.  Trent and Daron pick up the weapons, and hold the broken and bleeding gang members at gunpoint while Maya grabs the cash. Once secure, she approaches the crew and asks “who was talking to you earlier?”  They refuse to say anything, so Daron sticks his gun in the face of the most lucid seeming one and attempts to intimidated him Manipulation + Intimidate, dif 6. 2 Successes.

“Bothwell,” he spits. “Said to keep an eye out for you fucks. What the shit, man?!?” They all look at each other.  Fuck, this ain’t good. Rolling Perception + Alertness, Trent hears running in the distance, gradually getting louder. “We need to go, there’s more coming.”

The coterie run away from the scene. The chaos of the scene seems to imply that something might happen, so I roll Mythic. With a result of 10, nothing unexpected happens. But, are they pursued? Unlikely, with a result of YES.  Other members of the gang or at least people “friendly” to the gang are coming after them.  I have each side roll Opposed Manipulation + Firearms rolls—neither is going for a “kill shot” as much as trying to pin the other side down. I use Trent's pool—no PC has the firearms skill, and with his Dexterity he has the best chance.  He will also spend a Willpower point to guarantee at least 1 success. Players get 2 net vs 1 success. There’s a running gun fight, but the players are able to get to the Ford and speed off.

After all the shooting, I decide each gun only has half its normal number of rounds left. (27 total rounds left, if it comes up)

How much cash did they get? I first roll Mythic, and get Separate Rumor. That doesn’t help me or inspire me, so I toss the result and reframe the question as an “odds” one. Did they get a lot? 50/50 Yes. I assume it’s equal to a “liquidated” value for Resources of 1--$1,000.

A helluva of a lot of blood and carnage for such a sum.

The coterie drive for a bit, making Perception + Drive rolls to make sure they’re not being followed.  Once they feel they’re in the clear, the tension seems to lift from the car.  It was bloody, it was rough, but they succeeded, laughing and congratulating each other, proud of themselves, and their abilities. But, they are also very hungry, and need to feed. They peel off into the country, looking for some fresh, easy blood.

Chaos Roll 6. Move toward thread (The Investigation), Failure Possessions.

Suddenly, the car is bathed in flashing blue and red lights, and the coterie looks back in fear.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Night 5

Night 5
Wednesday, November 11th, 1992

Duke

Duke
Duke strides into the Broadstreet, the trendy jazz club that serves as the center of the regime. While most nights, even during the week, the place would be packed with mortals, tonight it was empty. Edward, his lord, had used the forced downtime to make some improvements to the place, and the ladders and drop clothes of the workers still dominated the stage and bar area.

Up on stage, Edward thoughtlessly tunes a guitar, while Don Alonzo speaks quietly to him, too quiet for even Duke to make out. Probably trying to convince him of this or that course of action. Alonzo had his fingers throughout the mortal realm, and they danced to his tune. But like Duke, he follows Edward. The three were referred to as “The Council”—a gathering of equals, but Edward was the Prince. And the Prince, no matter what else, was the Prince.

Duke’s presence is acknowledged with a quick look from both vampires, before they resume their discussion. “Yes, things have calmed down, but we’re far from out of the woods, Edward.” Alonzo was saying, trying to get him to focus on what felt was the more important situation. “I’m not saying we need to go on the warpath, but….”

“Warpath?” Duke interjects. Force was his domain. Alonzo’s job was to provide the money and the cover with the mortals, and to stay out of Duke’s way.

Alonzo
“The missing childer. The ones you failed to take care of.” Alonzo says disdainfully.  “A failure which has caused this mess, I might add. We can’t just let things go unanswered. We’ll look weak, and weakness is one thing our Kind cannot abide. Remember the chaos of the 50’s, when we didn’t…”

Edward cuts him off, quietly. “I understand, Alonzo. We need to resolve this mess.” Taking his gaze away from the guitar, he asks Duke. “And what happened? Why is this even happening?”

Duke sighs. “As I said sir, it was a bad situation. When we got to Prestor’s house, the place was a mess. If I had to guess, I would say that someone had already ransacked the place. Perhaps Prestor, himself, for some reason. Perhaps someone else, we don’t know.  He was almost in a Frenzy when we arrived, and attacked us practically immediately. We didn’t have a chance to do it right. We couldn’t interrogate him, not in that state. And the fight, well, we put him down. But he didn’t go down quietly. Per your orders, we took him out and torched the place and left. We didn’t examine the house.”

“And why not?” asks Alonzo, accusingly. “I mean, how does one miss a frat party in the basement?”

“Per my orders,” Duke says evenly. “We had no reason to assume he had grabbed anyone, and we didn’t want even rumors of what he was up to getting out. Prestor was just further along than we could have known.”

“The past is past,” Edward sighs, returning to his guitar strings. “What are we going to do about it now? Do we have anything to worry about with the mortals? What about this survivor they have.”

“The cops are in line,” Alonzo says proudly. “They attribute all the deaths to Prestor, labeling him as a deranged killer. As for the girl, the psychiatrist has convinced everyone that her story isn’t to be believed, the result of stress and smoke inhalation and the 'drugs' that Prestor fed them. Even she is doubting her own sanity. We have nothing to fear on that front.”

“And the missing ones?” They both look at Duke.

“We don’t know. We think we know their names, based on what the police have told us. But we don’t know much else, unfortunately. We think Bothwell ran into one, but his description doesn’t match any of the missing students. I have my guys looking into them now.”

“But we’re sure they’ve been turned, yes?” Edward asks the two of them. Neither responds. “So, Prestor has created a brood. Perhaps to ensure his vengeance would take place after his demise? Or to carry out whatever insane scheme he was plotting. They must be found, and they must be destroyed. Prestor’s rebellion ends. Now.” Edwards eyes flash angrily at both of them.

“Edward, if I may,” Duke says, hesitatingly. Edward glares at him, but Duke takes his silence as permission to continue. “We don’t know exactly what they’re up to. Our timeline suggest that Prestor grabbed them on Friday, and turned them either late that evening or early, very early, on Saturday. That doesn’t leave him a lot of time to ensure their loyalty, or to give them any sort of instructions or plans. It’s possible that they just don’t know what they’re doing. They might not even know exactly what they are.”

Alonzo laughs harshly. “Don’t know? Please. If they didn’t know, why haven’t they come forward? If they had come anywhere near the police or the hospitals, we could have snatched them up, smoothed things over.”

“Perhaps they ran out of fear, striking out on their own,” Duke suggests.

“On their own?” Alonzo mockingly replies. “Have you seen the degenerate youth of today? They are cowards and helpless lambs. They would run to their parents, or their teachers, or anyone with authority and cling to their legs, crying for help. Or, they would rush to the nearest camera, hoping to get on the MTV, desperately eager for attention and fame. No, they ran for a reason.”

“We don’t know…” Duke attempts to stay.

“We do!” Alonzo says, triumphantly. “If they didn’t know, where are the bodies, as their uncontrolled hunger drives them to kill? No, instead they rob a Blood Center. A Blood Center! We all know there are only two reasons any of us would ever consume such blood. Either they’re leaving town and need it for the journey, in which case they are no longer our concern. Or,” he adds, with emphasis. “they are going underground, hiding out, waiting for us to let our guard down.”

“There was the one woman,” Edwards notes, thoughtfully.

“But that only proves my point,” says Alonzo. “One victim, stolen right out from under one of us. A clearer declaration cannot be imagined. They wanted us to know they were there, that they were here to take the city from us, and they wanted to rub our noses in it.”

“It’s also entirely possible that they just don’t like Bothwell,” Duke adds, which brought about the desired laugh from Edward. “In any case, we don’t know what their intentions are or what they’re trying to accomplish. Not with what little we information we have.”

Edward, Prince of Denver
Edward raises his hands, bringing the conversation to an end. “It doesn’t matter what their intentions are. Their very existence as uncontrolled Kindred is a threat to all of us. Agree?” The two others nod. “If they are gone, so be it. If not, we must find them. Alonzo, pull your strings. If they are in hiding, where are they? Check their accounts, and their parents accounts, and their girlfriends accounts, and her parents and anyone they may know. Have they rented a cabin or an apartment recently? Where are they laying low? Find out where their money is being spent. If they intend war, they will certainly turn more—find out if anyone else is missing, particularly fellow students from their university. It is our nature to strike closest to our hearts, after all. Duke, you will scour the city. Find any victims they may be leaving behind, any potential victim they are grooming, any rats nest they might be sleeping in. Turn the city over, and find them.

And I want this done now.”

Dukes gets up to leave, ready to enforce Edwards will. He pauses to add one thing “That’s a lot of ground to cover. And if we’re running around, our friends will start asking questions. Things might be easier if we make this public.”

“Fine,” Edward says dismissively. “Spread the word among us. Prestor’s brood are to be found at all cost. I want them brought in alive, is possible. If not, well, there are limits to even what we can do accomplish. “

As the initial heat and attention over the fire and kidnapping dies down, the threats to the players increase. The vampires of Denver are after them now, officially. Per the module, there is a 1 in 10 chance per night of them having an encounter. I keep this rule, but also add them to the Mythic NPC list. I also change the Chaos Factor—the past few nights, the players have been working well, and accomplishing their goals. As of Wednesday night, this changes. The CF had dropped to 4, but I unilaterally increase it to 5. And until the characters resolve the challenge with Edward and his Court, it can never decrease, only increase. Also, I wasn’t sure what the NPC’s were going to do, so I rolled “Recruit/Intrigues“—the above is my interpretation of that.

Maya

While curious as to what Trent and Daron find out, Maya is still focused on practicalities. She’s not convinced their make shift haven is viable for long, and she knows they need money. They can’t risk using their savings or writing checks, as she assumes that the police must be monitoring them. And she doesn’t want to turn to her family, even her Uncle Diego. She can’t bear the thought of having to lie to them anymore than she must.

So, they can’t use their savings, or get a job, and they can’t borrow or beg—therefore, they must steal it. But she’s not going to rob houses or mug somebody or knock over a liquor store.  However, stealing from other criminals is something different. She knows enough to have sympathy for those forced into the drug trade, knows that most of them are struggling and barely able to survive. Despite what the music videos show and the news reports say, the majority of street dealers are among the most exploited workers in America.  Taking them from their bosses, though, would be a form of justice.

She heads to the Five Points neighborhood, the most drug and crime ridden part of Denver. She had only been here a few times, as part of social outreach project. But that was during the day. Even then, a palpable sense of despair and menace hung over the area. And at night, it was even more acute.

She parks her Uncle's car in a lot, figuring the few dollars well spent to secure it. She walks the rest of the way, looking, waiting for the right target. With her hood pulled up, none can see her face, but she seems to radiate an aura that keeps the few other pedestrians away from her.  She rolls Perception (2) + Streetwise (1) to find dealers. With 1 success, she finds a small crew dealing out of a park. She then seeks a spot she can watch them unobserved. Normally, this would be almost impossible, as the crew's various watchers, some hidden and some obvious, keep a look out for anything unusual. But, her Obfuscate comes in useful once again, and she gets to roll her Dexterity + Stealth. With 2 successes, she finds a decent location.

She watches for a few hours, and sees where they keep both the cash and the drug stash. Around 9, a classic white Cadillac Coup de Ville pulls up, and the apparent leader of this crew gives it something. Due to its size and the fact that its being handled by him directly, she figures it must be the cash. Around 1, they come back again. By then, business had dropped off significantly, and the darkness, cold, and snow drives the crew indoors.

She believes she has seen enough, and heads back to the lot, then drives to the gas station to meet Trent and Daron.

Daron and Trent

Trent and Daron, masquerading as interns with San Jose Mercury News (Daron is from LA), head out to Prestors neighborhood, doing “follow ups.” Most of the neighbors want nothing to do with them, having grown tired of the media and the police over the past few days. They spend hours knocking on doors, asking the same questions, hoping for any new information they can find.

Daron is the one talking, Trent keeping himself in the back and being the “photographer.” Daron rolls his Manipulation + Subterfuge at a difficult of 6. The module says that a “good idea” should be at a difficulty of 5, but I bump it back up to 6 due to the general fatigue the neighbors have. He still manages to get 4 successes.

Naturally, they get the get the routine “quiet, nice gentleman, moved in two years ago, kept to himself” answers, and other tidbits they already knew. But, one particular dog walker has something new. Prestor apparently had a regular visitor, a blonde man who drove a yellow Jaguar with the vanity plate SC13NC3. Do the cops know this information? I assume that this is Very Likely, but the result is No. When they inquire why the dog walked didn’t tell the police, he says “Well, they didn’t ask, honestly? Hmm…do you think it’s important? Maybe I should call them.” They try to talk him down, emphasizing that this information is already known and of no particular significance. Manipulation + Leadership (dif 8, as their initial excitement might have betrayed its importance) , and 1 success. The dog walked isn’t sure, but won’t call the police. At least not tonight.

As the night grows late, Trent and Daron stop their inquiries. They feel they’ve learned what they can for now, and no one is likely to welcome them knocking at such an hour. They drive to the gas station early, and discuss future possible avenues to investigate. They want to know where Prestor came from, and that means tracking his money. Also, they need to find some way to track down his visitor. Neither has any Contacts that they think will prove useful, so they plan for a number of phone calls tomorrow night. Then, they wait for Maya.

With the scene change, a Random Even occurs. Remote Event: Extract Wounds. I decide that this refers to Zoe. She and Suzanne have teamed up. While she would like nothing than to forget that horrible night in the basement, the fact that someone, anyone actually believes her is enough to tie the two together. They have managed to read a copy of the autopsy notes, Suzanne distracting the attendant while Zoe quickly reads the forms. They discover that both Vince and Mavis were found exsanguinated, but that this information didn’t make it to the final results. Instead, their deaths are listed as being from “unknown causes.” Zoe feels that Daron’s story has been confirmed, and Suzanne feels, finally, vindicated. The two begin looking for more answers…

Once they all meet up, they all get in Maya’s car, then drive to a better location, as she explains her plan. Daron and Trent are somewhat skeptical, but anything is better than having to murder someone, so they’re at least willing to try it.

Each rolls Manipulation + Stealth to sneak up and get a cow. Trent gets 3 successes, and Daron 2, enough with Maya’s guidance. They both are able to feed. While they find the blood disgusting and unsatisfying, they are forced to admit that it might be possible for them to survive in such a fashion.  They spend the rest of the night hunting and feeding off of various cows in the and around the area, careful never to kill too many from any given heard. They also begin practicing on NOT killing their prey.

Maya is now able, with a Self-Control roll, to only feed a little off of her prey. Daron and Trent need significantly more practice.  Despite the poor quality of blood, they all feel quite satisfied with their night. They’ve learned some information on their captor, found a safe way to satiate their hunger, and are starting to learn how to feed without killing.

In a better mood than they’ve been in a while, they drive back to their new home, laughing and singing along to pop songs on the radio. And the Chaos Factor increases to 6.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Night 4 -- Part II Reaching Out

Night 4, Part II
Reaching Out

Daron and Trent

Tossing the paper to the side, Daron asks skeptically, “Ok…how?”

Trent, thinking out loud, says, “First, we need to ditch this car. If the cops are looking for us, it’s just sheer, dumb luck that we haven’t been picked up yet.” (He’s right. I’ve given the police a 25% chance to find the car every “scene change” and the characters have gotten damn lucky.) “Hang on, I need to make a few phone calls.”

Where only the best plans are formed.
Now that the characters are turning more pro-active, they start to tap into their so-far unused Background traits. Trent has Contacts of 4, as he knows a lot of people, even if he isn’t really friends with them. Maya has Contacts of 3 and an Ally of 1. Both have a Resource of 1, which they’ve pretty much had to sacrifice due to being on the run. Daron has a Resources of 3, though that's also more or less unavailable
.
Trent calls some acquaintances (contacts 4, 3 successes dif 9), and yeah, he can get them a loaner car, for a price (Daron makes a Resource roll, 1 success. Enough) When he comes back, Maya is gone. She left quickly, claiming she needed to take care of something.

“What,” he says to Daron. “You just let her go? I thought we were going to stick together?”

“Hey, I didn’t ‘let’ her do anything. She needed some time, and it’s not like she asked for my permission. She said she’d meet us back at the place.”

“Fuck. All right, fine. We gotta go, but stay to the side roads, ok? No point drawing more attention than we need to.”

Trent and Daron head out. While driving, Trent digs through Daron’s car, looking for a pen or a pencil or anything.  They’re college students, so of course there’s a couple of pens and a notebooks somewhere in the car. Trent also fishes out a textbook to use as an impromptu writing surface. Seeing the title, he glances at Daron, “Art History?”

“What? There’s a lot of things you don’t know about me.”

“Guess that’s true of all us,” Trent says, flipping through papers and scribbling notes, stopping only occasionally to give Daron directions.

“What are you doing?” Daron asks, eventually.

“Trying to figure out exactly who knows what. Who has spoken to the papers, who spoke to the cops. What they said, and what that might mean.”

“Ok, sure. But why. I mean, we all read the articles, what’s the big deal?”

“What’s the big deal? Dude, did you read the same shit I did? It’s all…thin. There’s no background here, nothing in-depth. Just fire, murder, kidnapping, the big headlines.”

“Yeah, so” Daron said, keeping an eye on his rear-view mirror, looking for anyone taking an interest in them.

“Look, these articles wouldn’t surprise me on, like, Sunday, when there wasn’t time yet to figure something out. But by today? By today, Prestor’s entire life story should be out there. But it’s not. It just the same basic information, re-written over and over again. So, that means either A) there really isn’t anything else. And that’s bullshit, so we can ignore that. B) No one knows anything else, which is also bullshit, since we all know neighbors love talking shit about everyone else. C) The reporters are all hacks. Now, that’s possible, granted. Or D) there’s something else going on. Since we know we’re vampires, and we’re pretty sure this Prestor asshole made us, and we know there’s at least one other vampire out there, I think assuming D is the case is a pretty safe bet moving forward. Given that, I think we need to talk to some of these people and find out what they actual know.”

“Brilliant plan, really. Let’s have two murder suspects start interrogating the neighbors,” says Daron, dismissively.

Trent, frustrated, says “Look, I haven’t worked everything out yet. Right now, I’m just trying to figure out what’s ‘out there’ already. We’ll worry about Phase II once we know what everyone else knows, and we get rid of this damn car. By the way, you do still keep a backup stash in your spare, right?” (this is the result of Daron's resource roll from earlier)

They drive out to Sean’s place. He and Trent worked together briefly last year, before Sean got fired for showing up to work blatantly high. Trent never really liked Sean, but he remembered the kid talking about how his dad would buy these wrecked cars and fix them up, get them running again. A couple hundred bucks for the car and some parts, and he could sell them for a few grand.  Sean doesn’t think his dad will notice one missing for a few days, at least not for the right price. They don’t have any cash, but they do have Daron’s backup stash, a mixture of pills and grass, which Sean is more than willing to take off their hands. And of course, they need to leave the BMW as “collateral.”

As they check out the car, Trent’s attention is drawn to a pile of old, ruined parts. In the pile, he sees a big, scary looking camera.  “How much for that?” he asks Sean.

“That? Nothing, I guess,” Sean says, confused and wanting this to be over. “It’s just junk my dad got. Sometimes when he buys parts and shit, he has to buy the whole lot. It doesn’t work, like, at all. I think He’s planning on tearing it apart for spares, if he ever has to. But it’s useless.”

An idea comes to Trent. “Great. We’ll take it.”

They drive off in a 1978 Ford Fairlane, Daron griping about the performance of the vehicle, but Trent feeling significantly safer. He spends the first part of the drive gazing out the window, thinking. Daron is focused on driving, and after his few attempts at conversation are met with non-committal responses, he too lapses into silence, turning to the radio to fill the void.

Eventually, Trent looks at Daron and asks “Do you have a suit? Like, a real, proper suit. Not something you’d wear to a club.”

“What?” Daron asks, surprised by the sudden question.  “I mean, yeah, of course. Got a black one, had to wear it to my uncle’s funeral. I didn’t bring it with me, though. Why would I?”

"Hrm, a tad too formal, just a bit inappropriate," Trent says, more to himself than to Daron. “Sounds perfect.”

Trent explains his plan to Daron. They’ll pretend to be reporters following up on the story. Like, interns or something, sent for a brief checkup. Daron will be the actual "reporter," Trent will carry the camera and be the “tech.” Trent doesn’t have a suit, but he does have a solid blue denim work shirt that should fit for a technician. Daron points out that they’re still wanted, which Trent corrects. They’re not actually wanted, but it is possible the cops might have asked the neighbors about them. They’ll need to do something about that.

They stop at a convenience store; the only place open this time of night that might have what they need. They’re short of cash, so they’ll have to steal what they want. Normally, this is fairly challenging (requiring a Dexterity + Streetwise roll at a difficulty of 8), but they decide to work together.  Daron will distract the clerk and buy some minor things, a hot dog and a pack of cigarettes and the like, while Trent will do the actual shoplifting. Neither would normally even consider this, but extreme situations and the horrors they’ve already committed has inured them to such sins. 

Daron talks to the clerk, doing his best to make it seem like he’s not trying to distract him, just another late-night customer heading home from the bars or a party with too much energy. He rolls (Manipulation + Subterfuge, diff 8) and gets 2 successes. Each success he attains reduces Trent’s difficulty by one. Trent casually walks around, looking like he’s trying to pick the right thing, while grabbing what he needs.  Dexterity + Streetwise diff 6, 3 successes. They easily swipe what they came for – hair dye, razors, and a pair of reading glasses.

Next, they head to Daron’s place for his suit, and to clean up.  Fortunately, (Mythic Rolls) no one is awake and no one notices them coming or going. The cops don’t have a watch on the place, just word with the super and neighbors that they’ll call if they see Daron. They shower and clean up, grab Daron’s suit, and dye Trent’s hair. They don’t bother shaving. Monday night was a rude shock to Trent, when he awoke and saw his beard had grown back, and they figure it’s better to wait until tomorrow for that. But the dye, in theory, should last. And hopefully the shave, suit, and reading glasses will change Daron’s face just enough to confuse anyone who sees them. With that, their night is done. Dawn is soon approaching, and they have just enough time to stash the car and sneak into their basement haven, hoping Maya will be there.

Maya

Maya wasn’t sure what Trent was planning, exactly. But, if it involved talking to people, she wanted no part of it. Besides, she feels that there’s still too much uncertainty in their life, too many questions they haven’t been able to answer about what they need and how they can survive. She ditches the boys and heads off on her own, reaching a payphone a few blocks away. She calls up her “uncle” Diego. She knows they’re only distantly related, through her grandmother, but it doesn’t matter. He is the closest family she has in the area, and she knows he would help her. He had been a thief and gang member in his youth, and claimed to be straight these days, but Maya has suspicions otherwise. (Maya is using her Ally of 1, and I roll “Conservative Outlaw” for him.)

He’s of course happy to hear from her, and wants her to come to him and talk things over. While her name isn’t in the paper, her parents called him after not being able to get in touch with her, especially with the news of the missing college kids and the fire. Everyone is the family is worried sick about her. He is relieved to hear her voice, and is willing to help.  And, with his own…colorful…past, he’s willing to help her however she needs.

But, Maya can’t come to him. She needs a car, and no questions. He presses, but when she refuses, he relents. He always loved her, and understands that somethings have to be done in a certain way, no matter how odd it sounds to someone else. He agrees to help, so long as she promises that she'll come to him before things get bad.

A half-hour later, a car pulls up at a nearby gas station, and a man she doesn’t recognize gets out. He stands by the car, smoking cigarettes for a few minutes before another car pulls up nearby, and he gets in. Once they’re gone, Maya waits a few minutes, scanning, making sure no else is around. She then gets in the car, and finds the keys in the ignition and the gas tank almost full. Thanking god for finally one thing going right, she drives away from the city, deeper in the county.

Who's hungry?
It’s late at night in November, and it takes her a while before she sees a field with some cows in it. She drives past, parks well off the main road, and then walks back. She had been a vegetarian in life, but even still she feels that killing an animal is a different order of crime than killing a person. And she has to know if it’s an option. She knows they must feed, and it’s something she accepts, but she can’t keep murdering people, and robbing blood banks will only get them so far.

The animals seem aware of her presence, sensing her unnatural existence. But, she does have preternatural stealth, which allows her to slowly creep up on them. (Manipulation + Stealth to approach them, 1 success.) She succeeds, and feeds. The blood is bland, and gross, tasting like week old cold soup and flat soda compared to the heady rush of the blood of humans, but she is able to keep it down. And her hunger abates, at least somewhat. She was sure that a cow would have much more blood than a man, but she was still hungry. She continues to prowl the ranches, taking a few cows, until she is completely satiated.

I actually have no idea about proper cattle ranching practices in Colorado, let alone how they would operate in the fall. But, the module includes “cow tipping” as an option, and so I include it in this game. Normal hunting is 1d10 per hour, with a difficult varying based on the neighborhood where one is looking for prey. For cattle, it’s 2d10 per hour, with a set difficulty of 4. It’s clearly the safest, if least satisfying option. 
Also, I introduce a new rule. Vampires in Vampire don’t need to kill their prey, being able to only consume a few blood points from any given victim at a time, a skill the PC’s haven’t learned yet. Now that Maya has found a less stressful way to feed, she can begin working on her self-control. I decide that each character needs to practice to figure out the sweet spot. Since they’ll probably be working on cows (which are just different enough from humans), they need to make an Intelligence + Medicine roll at a difficulty of 8. Once they accumulate 10 successes, they can figure out when to stop. Though, they’ll still need to make a Self-Control roll to pull this off (with a variable difficulty based on how hungry they are, based on 10-Current Blood Pool, with a minimum of 4). 
Maya is able to spend two hours hunting and gets two successes, for a total of 10 blood points, more than enough to satiate her. In addition, she accumulates 7 (3 rolls over the course of the night) to figure out how not to kill. She’s well on her way to not being a mass murderer.

After drinking her fill, and feeling better about herself than she has in a long time, she heads back to their basement haven, being careful to take side roads and making odd turns on the rare times she sees another car on the road. Satisfied that she not being followed, she leaves the car in the parking lot of a nearby grocery store and meets Trend and Daron shortly before dawn.

They lock themselves in, and Trent and Daron are eager to hear where she was. Maya claims she was just clearing her head, but she did get a hold of her Uncles car, lying that he is out of town for the month and won’t even notice it missing. Daron comments that he really wishes he had known that was an option, but Maya points out that having two unknown cars is a lot better than one hot one. Also, she might have an idea or two, but she wants to check something out first before she discusses it with them. Neither Daron nor Trent are happy with her secretiveness, but leave it alone for now. They describe their plan, and invite her along, at least to see and hear what they do. Maya waves them off, pointing out how useless she’ll be in interviewing people. But, she has something to share with them, and they agree to meet up tomorrow night at around 2 at a gas station at a particular intersection a way out of town. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Night 4 -- The Heist

Night 4
The Heist
Tuesday, November 10th, 1992

Maya wakes up, darkness filling her vision. She had never been in a place so utterly devoid of light, and could never have imagined herself choosing to be in such place. But, she was alive and unharmed, and that made the darkness something to welcome.

What wasn’t welcoming was the vague scratching sound coming from somewhere close, accompanied by vague, half-heard mutterings. “He’s been at it for a while now,” she hears Trent say, quietly. She shifted her head towards the sound of his voice. “I woke up a bit ago, and he was already up. Scratching at the door. Talking about how he hears their heartbeats. How they’re calling to him.”

“That’s…not good,” Maya offers, lamely.

“Yeah, and check this out,” Trent said, and she could hear the rustles of his moving. “Close your eyes, I’m gonna turn on the flashlight.” The light momentarily seared Maya’s eyes, until they again adjusted. Ugh, how come they got the enhanced sight. What kind of vampire needs a damn flashlight? Trent aims the light at Daron, who was leaning with his face pressed again the door, whispering quietly at it, while his fingers dig lightly into the wood. And he looked horrible, his eyes almost completely sunken into his skull, his flesh the color of pale, dead ash. His skin seems to have shriveled into nothing, and could almost see each of his bones, straining to break through.

“Is he going to be ok?”

“It’s bad, Maya. I don’t think he’s going to last. Remember, he hasn’t fed since Saturday, not like us. If he gets out, I don’t know what he’s going to do. And if we stay in here…I don’t think I want to see what he’s like tomorrow. Maybe it’s three days…maybe that’s the limit? Like, three days of Christ being dead?”

“What? What are you talking about?” Maya asks, utterly baffled by his train of though.

“How long we can last? Maybe it’s linked somehow with three days. The Trinity? No, no, that doesn’t make any sense?”

“But it does with Easter?”

“Look, I don’t know, ok? I’m trying to figure this out!” He yells, exasperated. The shouting takes Daron’s attention away from the door, and his corpse eyes focuses on them. “The point is, I don’t think he’s going to make it, we need to get him blood.”

In the light, Maya could see Trent's face, too. He was bad off. Not as bad as Daron, maybe, but bad. Shit, she thinks. 

“Maybe” he says, his voice growing quiet as he looks at the door. “Maybe we could share one. That way we only need to hurt one person.”

“No,” Maya says, firmly. “I get it, he’s hungry. You’re hungry. Hell, I’m hungry. But we’re not killing, not anymore. We’re not monsters. We still have our brains, we need to think our way out.”

“Blood” Daron says, in a harsh whisper. “All that matters, is blood.”

Maya silences him, “Shut it, crazy. Ok, we need blood, and we’re not killing anyone, right? So where can we get blood? Maybe…we go to the hospital? I’m pretty damn sneaky, and you’re fast and Daron,” she says, looking at the wreck her friend has become. “Well, Daron might need to wait with the car.”

“Hospital?” Trent says skeptically. “Won’t there be, like, cops and security and stuff there.”

“You have a better idea?” She responds.  He shakes his head, admitting defeat. “Ok, get him up and let’s get out of here. “

Trent gets Daron to his feet, and looks at him, trying to get him to focus. “Daron? Daron, buddy? Look pal, we’re going to go get some blood, ok? But you gotta come with us? We need to be ready to go, ok?”

“Ok,” says Daron, his voice barely audible.

“Ok?”

“Yeah, I’ll be…ok,” Daron says, walking with the unsteady gait of the drunk or the dying.

“Right,” says Trent, giving their haven a quick look over. “Guess I’ll be driving.”

They sneak out, unnoticed by the neighbors, and pile into Daron’s car, Trent and Maya up front, Daron laying in the back. Trent and Maya debate which Hospital they should go to, or even where one is. Neither is from Denver, so they stop at a payphone to look up where the nearest Hospital is. While flipping through the Yellow Pages, Trent idly looks up “blood,” more out of macabre curiosity that anything else. “Wait,” he says, looking at the listings. “We might have another option.”

They decide a blood donation center will be a better target. Not only will it be smaller, and thus easier to find the blood they need, but many of them are closed at night—which means no staff and no security. Feeling better about the new plan, they pick one on the opposite side of town from where they’ve been staying. Looking over their meager supplies, they both realize that they don’t exactly have the ideal tools for such a job.

They drive a bit out of their way to a home improvement store, figuring that’s their best bet. The plan and activity helps them to push their gnawing hunger deeper inside, as they finally feel some sense of control and direction back in their lives. Trent heads in, while Maya keeps an eye on Daron. He picks up a crowbar, wire cutters, and a few other odds and ends, spending most of what little cash they have left. After they leave, they spend the remainder to fill up Daron’s car. They have only a few dollars left between them, but that’s a concern for later.

The one they choose was part of corporate park, practically empty this time of night. Fortunately, the blood bank is on the outside of the complex, facing a small group of trees with a small trail running through it. On the opposite side of which was a thrift shop.

“You said you know how to pick a lock, right?” Maya asks. Trent nods, having, maybe, slightly, overstated his abilities (Security 1). “Ok, here’s the plan. I’ll go first, check the place out, make sure it’s empty. If there’s a problem, I’ll come back. Wait, say, ten minutes. If I don’t come back and you don’t hear anyone screaming you come over. Daron? Daron, honey? Daron, we need you to stay with the car, ok? If anyone comes, just honk the horn, ok?” She takes Daron’s vague grunt as an affirmation, and heads out across the sparse trees.

Maya needs to make a Dexterity + Stealth roll to remain unnoticed. I reduce the difficulty to 5, due to her ability to remain unseen so long as she is still. With 3 successes, no one in the practically empty office park notices her. Is there anyone in the building? No. Is there anyone nearby? Exceptional Yes, a police cruiser idles past. She is hidden by her Obfuscate, but Trent is not so blessed.

Trent is following behind Maya a few minutes later. He needs to make a Stealth roll as well, but at a difficulty of 8, due to the presence of the cop. 2 Successes—he sees a car driving through the parking lot, and takes his time, waiting for it to pass, before he comes to the tree line. Maya’s there, they whisper at each other, and then decide to go ahead with the plan. The cop, they assume, is on a routine patrol, and probably won’t be back for a while, if at all.

Is the building unusually secure? Unlikely. Yes. They do have confidential information, after all, and don’t want to risk anyone messing with the blood supply.

This is going to be tough for Trent, as I set the difficulty to 10. 8 for their quality of locks, and two more due to him using the wrong tools. He fails, but he does get a good look at the security (5 success), and notices the alarms. He heads back to Maya and reports what he saw, but he thinks he might be able to disable the alarm. He tells her to wait while he checks out the rest of the area.

As he creeps around the area, I roll Mythic to see if anything happens—Altered Scene “PC Positive Dominate/Misfortune.” Well, what’s bad for one is good for Trent, and he finds the junction box easily. Not only that, but it looks like someone was working on this recently. If anything goes wrong, they’ll probably assume that it’s just another short in the system. His difficulty to bypass the alarms drops to 6. Intelligence + Repair: 3 successes.

Reuniting with Maya, he signals that they’re ready. She grabs the crowbar and forces the door open. It opens easily, thanks to her preternatural strength, and they head inside. It looks like a typical office, though with one large room dedicated to taking donations. The soon find the refrigerator containing the blood, and it takes little effort to force this open as well.  Is there enough blood stored? 50/50 odds (EXCEPTIONAL YES 6d10, Yes 3d10, No 1d10, and EXCEPTION NO there is none currently stored here): No, so there is only 1d10 (8) Blood Points worth of blood stored. Maya and Trent stare at each other, disappointed. There’s not much, but it’ll have to do. They gather up what they have and head off. Do they do anything else before leaving? No. They’re still worried about the cop coming back and get out as fast as they can.

Once back in the car with Daron, they tear into the packs, depressed at how little the stolen blood satiates them.  It’s still early, far too early to go back to their haven. What do they next?

(Intolerance/Expectations) They fall into bickering, their ever-present hunger urging them to say vicious and cruel things to each other, each blaming the other for their current predicament. They consider robbing another blood bank, but worry that they’ve already done too much to draw attention to themselves. They drive idly for an hour or so, until they calm down and can begin speaking again. Now what do they do? 

(Develop/Rumor.) They need to figure out what the hell is going on, especially with the investigation. Can they go home? Is it safe? What exactly do the cops know?

They stay to the outskirts of the city and stop at a diner, looking for some place to grab the news. There’s a couple of newspaper boxes outside the restaurant, and they grab one of each of the local papers, but decide to avoid entering the diner—they don’t eat, can’t afford to throw money away looking normal, and could never explain Maya anyway. Sitting in the parking lot, they flip through the papers, trying to sort things out.

On the plus side, they find out they’re probably only being looked at for questioning. Their names haven’t been leaked to the paper, nor their photos. They think, for a while at least, that they might be able to go in and explain things. But, they also find out that Suzanne is alive, and that alarms and terrifies them. FUCK, they had forgotten about her, and she witnessed everything.  Another round of accusations and recriminations follows. But…why aren’t they looking for them? They also find out that three men were seen nearby the night of the fire, and the police are looking for them as well. What do the players do? 

(Refuse/Prison) It's too risky. Sure, they figure, the cops aren’t saying they’re after them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not. And there’s too much to explain—they don’t know what Suzanne told the cops, they don’t know what the cops found, and they don’t know who these other guys are. What if the cops hold them for questioning, into the day? What if they do even a basic physical examination? None of them can stand up to that kind of scrutiny. No, they decide, better to stay on the run.

One thing strikes Trent—Jacob Prestor.  There’s hardly anything in the papers about him. Sure, they acknowledge it was his house, and they blame him for a number of things. But there’s no background. No relatives saying how nice he was, and how it couldn’t have been him. No other relatives saying he always a bit odd. Who the hell was this guy? What do they do next? 

(Oppress/Randomness) They have a decent place to lie low, and they’re starting to figure out what they are. No need to change things up now. The cops are looking for them, but they’re not being actively hunted. They just need to stay away from campus and their homes until they can figure everything out.

“Fuck this,” says Daron. “We should just leave, get in my car, and go. Just get out of town, somewhere the cops aren’t looking for us, somewhere safe.”

“No,” says Trent, cutting him off. “We need answers. Running around blindly has made shit much worse for us. Besides, if there’s any hope of undoing this,” he says, glancing at Maya, “the answer is here. And it starts with us figuring out exactly who Jacob Prestor was.” 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Night 3 -- The World Around Them

Night 3
Monday, November 9th, 1992

The main characters (Daron, Trent, and Maya) are finally reunited, and starting to come up with some sort of plan for how to handle the changes that have befallen them. While they remain the “PCs” in this game, there are a number of other characters at play as well, with their own motivations and plans. In a standard Solo game, I wouldn’t worry about these, instead zeroing almost exclusively on the PC and letting the GM Emulator worry about the rest. Likewise, in a typical table top game, I would either follow the module or just hand wave, based on the needs of the story. However, I’m really enjoying using Mythic to guide the characters, so I intend to work with the tools I have to see how everyone is responding to what has been going on.

It’s Monday night, roughly two days since the character’s fiery rebirth. The police investigation is in full swing, and the media is currently running with the story. None of the characters involved has a full picture of what is happening, and each are reacting as best they can to what little they know. For each character or group (I’m not following every member of the Denver Police Department, just for the “police investigation,” for example), I give a Mythic Event Roll, and we’ll see where they are as of Monday. In this situation, “PC” refers to the character in question, and NPC refers to someone else.

Suzanne (PC negative -- Mistrust/Power). The cops don’t trust her, and few seem willing to believe her story. Granted, they know she was kidnapped, and they know she was found in the basement, and they certainly don’t think she killed anyone. But the rest of her story? They attribute it to drugs and the weird experiments the crazy man who captured her had done. Her shock and near catatonia when they first found her make it easy for them to dismiss her story.

For now, she is being kept away from campus, and away from the media, much to their chagrin. Her parents (divorced) both flew in, and they are currently staying with one of her father’s friends in Aurora.  She doesn’t know what to do. She knows what she saw, she knows that something horrible happened to her friends, and she knows that no one believes her.

Zoe (NPC negative -- Imprison/Outside) She believes him, Daron that is (the NPC in question). She actually, honest to god, believes him. She might have made a mistake, she knows. She’s not a nurse or an EMT, just a pre-med undergrad. But, she believes him. She felt his skin, his lack of pulse, remembered seeing him not breathe, his dead eyes, and the way his voice compelled her. Oh, yeah, she believes him.  She knows better than to share what she knows with the police, of course. Not without actual, physical evidence, at least. But, does she tell them that she spoke to him? No.  She’s not exactly sure what Daron is, but she intends to find out.

Has anyone ever won the Noble Prize before they completed their Bachelors?

Audrey (Move towards a thread -- Ruin/Intrigues) There are actually three threads that dominate the module (Police Investigation, Dealing with Local Vampires, Discovering What Happened to the Characters), so exactly which thread is a question. I roll a d3 and get a 1, so it ends up being the most obvious. She went to the police on Sunday, after her encounter with Maya. She doesn’t remember seeing her roommate, but SOMETHING happened to her bed, and she believes Maya is still missing.  After she heard about Suzanne and the other students, she had to do something, after all. The cops came, gathered the sheets as evidence and did a quick search of the room. They’re not sure what to make of what they have, but this is an “all hands/investigate everything” sort of case.

Unlike Zoe and Suzanne, she has no reason to be afraid of Maya. At least, none she remembers. She is still worried about her, and will do whatever she can to figure out what happened.

On Monday, during the day, Zoe meets up with Audrey. Realizing the girl has no idea what’s going on, Zoe pretends to also just be a concerned friend, and she’s able to draw conclusions that Audrey can’t.

The Police Investigation (PC negative -- Communicate/Environment). The cops can’t quite figure out this case, and it looks like they won’t have time too, anyway. Word is coming down from the Mayor, City Council, Church leaders, anyone and everyone of importance in Denver, to wrap things up. The whole media firestorm is just too much. And honestly, they’d love to. This crazy guy Prestor kidnaps a bunch of kids, does weird things to them and then gets himself killed. They’re not sure how he died, but Suzanne says there were more down there. Granted, she’s crazy, but that doesn’t mean she’s entirely wrong. Maybe they killed him? That’d be nice.  He grabs a bunch of kids, kills some of them, a couple get out, kill him in self-defense…all nice and neat and case closed.  Hell, there’s even some older disappearances and deaths they’d love to be able to pin on this Prestor guy, make everyone’s life easier.

But it’s not so neat. Daron, Trent, and Maya are nowhere to be found. They’re not sure if they’re dead or alive. Hell, they’re not sure they are even involved, really. Granted, they knew the victims, and Suzanne said they were there but…but they can’t find them. One officer spoke to Daron, or at least someone claiming to be Daron. Trent’s roommates said he was home last night. And Maya is still unaccounted for. Still, they are under a lot of pressure to wrap things up, fast, which means certain things are going to be ignored or overlooked.

The longer Daron, Trent, and Maya stay on the run, the worse things will look for them. Right now, they’re “persons of interest.” In a few days, they’ll be either suspects or assumed victims, depending on what the police learn.

Alien Hunger leaves the exact course of the investigation pretty open, and each groups actions and reactions will determine a lot about things play out. For this Play, the characters made some BIG mistakes, but this is what happens when you’re operating in a panic mode and not thinking things through. Granted, it’s really the luck of the dice in this case, but I like to think they’re short-sighted mistakes are more “realistic” than a typical veteran players cold reason. Not everyone gets to read the rulebook before the game begins…
The Media (PC positive -- Harm/Masses) They’re just in it for the ratings, and this story is damn sexy. Kidnapped college kids kept in a torture basement, suffering unspeakable cruelty. Mysterious and dangerous pycho-killer.  And, to top it all off, a beautiful, blond “final girl” to be heroically rescued. It’s got everything! They don’t care about facts or reporting what actually happened, so they’ll gleefully call random rumor and gossip as “sources close to the investigation” and the like. Once the story dries up, they’ll move on to the next grisly murder or teen star sex scandal or whatever will get them ratings, the truth be damned.

Basically, so long as the characters can stay off the radar for a few days, the media will dissipate, and with them, most of the pressure for the characters to be found.

The Vampires of Denver (PC negative -- Abuse/Death) Man, sometimes these Mythic results are just TOO perfect! Ok, the Prince of Denver was behind the hit on Prestor. He didn’t know him personally, but he had solid intel the man was crazy, and up to experiments that threatened every vampire—not just in Denver, but throughout the world. So, he had his enforcers take him out and burn his house to the ground, to make sure no evidence survived. They all knew there would be a police investigation. It’s hard to avoid when you go that loud, after all. But they weren’t prepared for this. He was grabbing college kids? Couldn’t he have grabbed homeless people or…hell, bankers? But no, it had to be a bunch of nubile teens, and then the one who makes it out is straight out of Central Casting. And now the media is crawling all over town, poking their noses everywhere.  And the cops are right behind them, launching major crack downs and shows of force and racing all over town with their sirens blaring.

It’s a bad time to be a bad guy.

The Prince issues his orders to the vampires…stay low. No one is to feed, no one is to do business, no one is to do anything that might, no matter how slightly, draw any sort of attention to anyone. They figure this will all blow over in a few days, but until then, everyone is on lock down.

Bothwell (Move away from a thread -- Carelessness/A plan) Bothwell is the only member of the Court (those actively loyal to the Prince) to be aware of the characters. And he wants to find the punk who “sucker punched” him and poached his meal. Of course, he’s a very junior member, and with the recent crackdown by the Prince, he has no way to get in touch with anyone. Secondly, he doesn’t associate Trent with Prestor, instead thinking he’s part of a new gang from Boulder coming to muscle in on Denver. And he has a completely reasonable why this would be the case. Of course, he’s wrong, but that won’t stop him from heading out on his own to find Trent.

Tony (No roll). Tony’s role in these nights is actually pretty well established in the module, and I don’t really want to mess with him too much. He’s watching the character’s, trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing. He knows about the fire and the college kids, but as an outsider in Denver, he doesn’t know that the Prince ordered the hit, and therefore has no idea they’re linked. Still, he’s a positive ally for the characters. He has no real reason to help them, but he’s old, and bored, and they’re something different and interesting. Also, if they keep screwing up, the might be a threat to the Masquerade, so by helping them he also helps himself.

So, this is where everyone else stands as of the third night. I’ll be tracking the various NPC’s and groups, but offline.  If something interesting happens to them, or they directly interact with the main characters, they’ll show up. Until then, the stay to the background.

Night 3
Monday, November 9th 1992

CF roll 5 – Ambiguous Event, Abandon News

The coterie wakes up in their motel, their sleep undisturbed. They’re all hungry, but not overwhelming so. The previous night, they had agreed that the first thing they need to worry about is learning and understanding their new forms—what they can do, and what they can’t. They check out of the motel, and drive off to a park, officially closed after dark, which will hopefully provide them the privacy they need.  Despite Trent’s plan the night before, he doesn’t even bother checking the Post or any other paper before heading out, to distracted by his friends and their new sense of focus.

They once again go over what they had done, at least physically. Daron describes his mental command of Zoe, Trent his speed, and Maya her strength and stealth. They push and challenge each other, testing what they can and can’t do. The quickly find out that Daron’s mind control doesn’t work on them, and presumably other vampires in general. But how much do they learn? I decide to make a group check, each rolling Wits + Occult at a difficulty of 8. 3 Success will let them get the basics—what Disciplines they have and what works “automatically”—they can’t do anything that requires blood expenditure. Except for Trent and his Celerity. If they have 5, I will allow them to learn how to spend blood points to increase physical attributes and heal. However, any usage of “vampire powers” will require a Willpower point be spent, to force their bodies to behave in bizarre and unnatural ways. If they get 10, I will allow them to use their abilities “at will,” just like the book says.

Daron (2 dice) 1 Success
Maya (3 dice) 1 Success
Trent (6 dice) 4 Successes.

With a total of 6 successes, the characters figure out enough. They know how to increase their attributes and to heal wounds, and they know what disciplines they do have and a rough idea of what these limits are. All this practice, however, leaves them hungry. Granted, they had been hungry when they first woke, and the hunger seems to be an ever-present companion in their new life, but after expanding so much blood in practice, they are all near ravenous. None of them, however, are eager to kill again, and they once again fall into debates and discussions—do they need to kill their victims? Does the victim need to be a human? Must they feed every night? Daron’s experience seems to answer that question with a No, but how long can they wait?

They’re still focused on figuring out what being a vampire means, and so how to hunt and feed is the obvious next question. What do they decide to do? I roll against Mythic and get “Struggle/A Project.” This is one time where Mythic fails me, as I already know they’re struggling with the challenge. With the emphasis on struggle, though, I decide that they are going to wait, to see how long they can go without feeding.

None of them understand the concept of “Blood Points,” after all—just feeding or not feeding, and Daron has been able to not feed since Saturday. Which raises the obvious question of, just how much blood does each character have? I’ve been tracking it on the side, but now it becomes “story important”—the characters are going to do their best to not feed for as long as possible, and how much blood they have will determine how long can they last.

First, their generation, and how much blood they can have. They are of the 13th Generation of vampires, which means they can carry at most 10 blood points at a time. They each awoke on Saturday with 3 in them, the result of their transformation. Each human has, on average, 10 blood points for a vampire to feast on. Daron was able to kill Mavis, bringing him to a full 10. Maya and Trent shared Vince, giving them 8 each. But, Trent also unconsciously used one in his initial fight with Vince, so as of Saturday night, he only had 7. They all lose a blood point when they wake each night, so on Sunday, they were at 9/7/6, respectively. While this isn’t particularly unusual for a vampire, my own interpretation of vampires (see this post), and their utter inexperience with the cravings led them to many rash and deadly actions.

Daron spent 1 blood point showing off to Zoe, leaving him with 8. Trent burned much of what he had in the fight in the parking lot, but was able to feed soon thereafter, bringing him to 10. Of course, he immediately spent 2 of those blood points in the fight with Bothwell, leaving him with 8 as well. Maya successfully hunted, and spent no more, so she ended Sunday night at a 10. Monday night, they all lost one when they woke up. Their experiments and testing result in some blood loss, just how much varies based on what they were doing. I roll a die (d10, divided in half) to see just how much they all spend—Daron and Maya both spent 4 points, while Trent only spent 3.

As such, Daron currently has 3 blood points left, Trent 4, and Maya 5. Despite their intense hunger, they all agree to resist it for as long as they can.

The next issue in the “surviving as a vampire” agenda is to figure out where to sleep. The motel worked, but they will quickly run out of cash relying on such extravagance. And none of them feel like committing more crimes than they need to. Daron, of course, has access to plenty of more cash—a child of privilege, he has credit cards, a well-supplied checking account, and a trust fund to refill this when needed.  But, they’re also aware that they’re all, at best, “persons of interest” who can’t reliably stand up to even a cursory police investigation. With Maya being in particular danger. So, what do they do?

I roll Mythic, and get “Transform/Weapon.” I think for a while, but this does little to answer my question, no matter how much I twist it. I could roll again, but then I decide that characters already have a potential answer—Trent. While Trent doesn’t have many friends, his work and experience in the community outside of the school does give him a number of Contacts. In addition, as a part time home renovator, he might know places that are under construction, particularly those that are currently on hold due to the coming of winter. I decide to have him roll his Contacts background (4) to see if he knows anywhere the coterie can safely hole up. The better he rolls, the safer it is. And if he botches, well…that would be interesting.

He gets one success. Well, at least he won’t lead them to their sudden demise.

He knows a place, a home that the owner kept changing his mind on, that’s no longer being worked on. But, it’s only partially built, and it’s in a fairly populated neighborhood in the suburbs. The won’t have a lot of privacy, and neighbors very well might notice them coming and going, but no one should bother them so long as they stay in the completed basement.  They also won’t have any water or power, but they’re dead—the cold and dirt doesn’t bother them, and it’s not like they sweat anymore, so what do they need besides shelter from the sun?

They spend the rest of the night checking the place out, exploring various ways to get in and out of the house, hopefully without drawing attention. I decide that each night as they come and go they’ll need to make a Wits + Stealth roll to avoid being seen, difficulty of 6. If they fail, they get 1 “mark” as someone notices something. At 3 marks (or a botch) enough people are convinced something is up to do something about it. Most likely call the cops.  

They also head to 7-11 and grab some additional items—locks and the like. There’s enough scrap laying around to be useful, and Maya has her Leatherman—more than enough for Trent to get the unwindowed “crafts room” decently secure, locking and barring it from the inside. The work helps distract them from their hunger, and after an hour or two, they’re as secure as they’re going to be. 

They have a locked room to hide in during the day. Daron’s car is safely parked in a nearby shopping center, and they should have everything else the need. Shortly before dawn, Trent secures the door.


“Great, locked in another basement.  Just what we need,” Maya thinks. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Night 2 -- Never Alone

Each character has woken on their own trying to find their own way, and have been met with failure. Daron revealed his secret to Zoe, a friend whom he thought he could trust, but who reacted with horror and terror at his revelations.  Trent unleashed his powers against a group of mortals, but couldn’t bring himself to kill them, leaving them bloody but alive. Maya was able to kill, but has also been forced to quickly abandon her own life, and confront her own mortality. Each is on the run, and the question is: what happens to them now?

Daron: Oppose Joy
Trent: Betray Illness
Maya: Lie Good
Daron

Daron quickly turns away from the Biology building, trying to walk casually but purposefully. He heads opposite the arriving police officers. He’s not sure why they’re on campus, be he figures it means nothing good. He heads for the parking lot to pick up his car, but when he sees a news van setting up nearby, he turns a different way. He walks for a while, sticking to little used paths, hoping to avoid everyone. He’s brought up short when he hears a voice call out to him—it’s one of the cops.

Is the cop looking for him? No. He’s just one of the officers canvassing the campus, looking for any information. The officer tells him they are looking for anyone who might know Vince or Mavis. Daron feels panic, but is aware that his dead heart doesn’t race, that no sweat escapes him. Despite his reaction, he knows he looks utterly calm. 

Does he lie? Yes. He claims he has been out of town all weekend, heading out of state to see a band, Rage Against the Machine, playing in San Jose. Yes, it was a long ass drive, and he just got back in town a little while ago. How well does the lie work? With a Manipulation of 3 and a Subterfuge of 3, Daron has 6 dice which equals the difficulty, and the cop has no real reason to challenge his story, so he succeeds with a minimal success. He deliberately keeps some information vague, but for now it’s fine. Does he include the others? Yes. When the cop asks if anyone was with him, he claims that Trent and Maya were there as well. After all, he needed someone to trade off driving duties with.
Walking away unmolested, Daron begins to realize just how bad things are starting to get.

Maya

Maya runs from the dead body, running for blocks, stopping only when she can no longer feel its eyes on her.  She pauses to get her thoughts together. Now that the raw, primal hunger is no longer gnawing at her, she can think straight. Whatever is going on with her, she can’t go home. Not now, not for a while. She needs help, and she’s not so proud as to not acknowledge this. She needs to find Trent, and Daron. Trent has at least some idea of what the hell is happening to them, and Daron, well, Daron has money. They’re her friends, true and she does trust them, but they also have things she needs, that she knows she can’t do herself. They need to talk, get their damn story straight, and come up with a plan of some sort.

She has her victims cell phone. Does she dare to use it? She’s never had a cell phone (It’s 1992, and such devices are still somewhat exotic), but she’s certainly aware of how cops can abuse information in an investigation. She rolls her Wits + Investigate at a difficulty of 8, and she scores 2 successes. She knows better than to use a dead man’s phone to call anyone she knows. In fact, she tosses it in the trash, berating herself for even grabbing it in the first place.

She knows of a late-night coffee shop/bookstore, the Tattered Covers, a place just far enough from campus that there would be few students there that night. She goes to a payphone, and calls Trent and Daron. Neither are home, so she leaves a message, telling them that their order of the special edition of I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings has arrived, and is ready for pickup. She hopes even these dumbasses will crack her code. She then heads towards the bookstore, and finds another nearby pay phone. From this, she calls Daron’s pager and leaves the call back number. With no other ideas, she settles herself into the shadows of a doorway, and waits, again amused at how easily she escapes notice.

Trent

Trent falls to the ground, the hunger and desire overwhelming him, driving him to desperation. Thoughts of logic and survival and morality and guilt all get pushed aside by the primal need to feed. He needs blood, desperately, and I give him a hunting roll, but only a single d10—he’s not yet ready to plan out his hunts in any reasonable matter.

In 1st Ed, you get 1 die for each hour you spend hunting. Wise vamps budget a decent amount of time, as you only need a single success. The characters are currently rolling one at a time, since they really have no idea what they’re doing. He rolls a “1”—a botch.  I’m not sure what happens, so I decide to generate a Mythic Event “Move towards a thread -- Spy/Leadership.” Given that, I decide to introduce the character of Bothwell from the module—a weak coward who is also one of the cockiest vampires in Denver.  However their interaction plays out, word will spread to the leadership of the city, somehow.
He stealthily makes his way further into the city, keeping to alleys and back streets, a sheer, primal need driving him forward. He sees them, a man and a woman, leaving a closing bar, taking a “short cut” to his car. They seem entirely focused on each other, and do not sense Trent as he slinks ever closer. A part of him revolts at what he knows he is about to do, but the rest of him shuts that part off, using his newly enhanced senses and agility to sneak up until he is almost right upon them. The man…pauses, for a moment. As if he had just remembered something. He looks her right in the eye, and asks her to stay put, while he checks something out. The moment he is out of sight, Trent leaps at the woman, his hunger and need casting his moral qualms aside, not giving her a chance to gasp out the slightest of sounds before he slakes his thirst on her.

“What EXACTLY do you think you’re doing to MY vessel?” calls out the man. Trent looks up, and sees the man, closer, and, with his hunger receding, more clearly. The man’s skin seems to match the snow falling gently upon him, and dead eyes stare at him. “Don’t you know who I am?” Confused and alarmed, Trent glances around, looking for others, or perhaps an escape. “Yeah, that’s right Lick, you just made the worst mistake of your pathetic ass excuse for a life!” 

What does Trent do? Oppose a Representative. For too long, Trent has been bullied, and pushed around. Too long he held himself back. No more, no longer, he vows.

Besides, he wants to see just what he could do, and this seems to be the first real test for him.

Bothwell
The two battle, going at each other with brute savagery. This other is far more skilled than Trent, and tougher, so damn much tougher. Every blow is like hitting a brick wall. But, Trent is faster, making up for his lack of skill with such raw, natural speed that the other couldn’t hope to keep up. Eventually, by seeming mutual agreement, they stop, glaring at each other, hissing like feral cats.

“This isn’t over, punk ass!” the man screams at him. Trent, his rage calming, understands that he is in great danger, that there is more going on than he knows, and he takes the break to flee as quickly as he can. “Yeah, you better run! If I see you again, you’re DEAD! You hear me, DEAD. I’ll leave your corpse out for a SUNTAN, asshole!”

He runs deeper into the alleyway.  But to where does he run?

Close a Thread – Overindulge/News.

I interpret this in a bit of a convenient way. Trent is shocked that there are other vampires, though he’s not sure why he should be. He needs to know more, and thinks to head to the university library to figure out what’s going on. While walking, he realizes that the university doesn’t have the local papers, and instead thinks to go to Tattered Covers, the only late night bookstore he can think of. He’s not sure if they’ll still be open, but it’s the best bet he has. He need answers. Is this other vampire like him? Another victim of what had befallen him and his friends? Or, was this other vampire involved in what happened to them? Have other people gone missing? Other mysterious deaths and disappearances? He needs to find out.

Tony
Is the store open? It’s “late night”—but it’s getting very late. The answer I get is NO, but also a random event—NPC Action Spy/Food. For this, I introduce another NPC from the module, but one the characters don’t meet yet. Tony picked up Trent’s tail after the fight with Bothwell, and will begin keeping an eye on the characters, gauging them, trying ot figure out what their game is. He’s a relative outsider to the vampires of Denver, and quite possibly the best hope they might have of getting some real answers. For now, he waits.

Trent approaches the store, cursing that it’s closed, and starts looking around for a local newspaper stand or something when he hears a voice. 
“Good, you got my message.” 

He spins, alarmed, seeing a figure in a hoodie and buttoned up coat behind him. “Who?” Taking off her hood, Maya reveals her new face. “Uh, yeah.” He lies, poorly.

“Well, you’re here. I’m still waiting for Daron. The place closed like a bit ago, and I was thinking I might need to head off, find a place to crash for the day. This night has been…” she lets her voice trail off.

“Yeah. Mine too.” He says, not looking at her.

With the silence between becoming more noticeable, Maya says “Well, I guess we should try Daron again.”

“I doubt he’s home. Unless he’s hiding.”

“Probably out, which is why I’m trying his pager.”

“Oh, I didn’t have his pager number,” says Trent, surprised and annoyed. He didn’t even know Daron had a pager.

“I thought everyone…doesn’t matter. I’ll try it again. He might be ignoring the number, cause he doesn’t recognize it. Or he can’t get to a phone. Or he didn’t bring it with him, or he’s been caught, or…shit, I don’t know. Have you seen the cops? They’re all over campus.”

“Campus? Why?”

“I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count. At least, I’m assuming that’s the case, I didn’t think to go talk to anyone. But, even the best case is bad, and if they got Daron, or if something else happened to him, well, you know.”

“Something else!? Like what?”

“Fuck, I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t wake up, maybe he didn’t make it home. Maybe he left his curtains open, or...”

“Or, if SOMEONE got him,” Trent says, flatly.

Maya’s attention snaps to Trent, “Wait, what?”

“I’ll explain later, we just need to find him. Or find out what we can.  Call him again, but like…leave a code or something? 911 or…wait, is there a code for rehearsal or some change with the play or something? Use that.”

“Not really a code, but, let me think, last time Suzanne had a party, she had me text him the code for her dorm. Maybe that?”

“Whatever, just something to let him know it’s US.”

A few minutes later, Daron finally calls back. He’s distant and questioning initially, but is quickly relieved to find out that it's Maya. When she proposes meeting back at the theater, he cuts her off, telling her no. He has no idea if the cops would even think to look that way, but it’s not something they can risk.

They agree to wait for him behind the bookstore, and head off to conceal themselves from the main street. While waiting, Maya is amused to discover that her blending in the shadows trick seems to work just fine on Trent, despite his seemingly better than normal eye sight. He loses her when his back was turned, and is honestly alarmed when he can’t find her.

Eventually, Daron pulls up in his BMW M3, and they all pile in it.

They quickly start talking over each other. Are they honest with each other? Very Unlikely: No, they leave out the important stuff. Trent and Maya don’t mention their murders, Daron doesn’t mention Zoe, and they focus more on the cops and the media and figuring out what the hell are they going to do next.

What the hell ARE they going to do next? Assist/Illness. Daron still seems to think they can get help, and wants everyone to hunker at his place. With no roommates or RA’s to worry about, they should be safe during the day. Maya doesn’t think that’s smart, that they’re too exposed. Trent agrees, thinking they need to find somewhere to lay low, to figure things out. Daron relents, though driven by other motivations than his friend’s arguments.

First, they go to Trent’s to grab him some basic stuff. Anything happen? Fate roll of 5 leaves me with a Remote Event—Trick a Project. I’m not sure what this means, for now. And since it’s a Remote Event, I leave it on the back burner.

Next, to Daron’s for his belonging. Anything happen? 2—Interrupt. PC Positive, Create Fame. As he’s about to leave his apartment with his bag, he hears voices in the hallway. Someone is leaving a nearby apartment, and he listens, ear pressed against the door, waiting to hear them leave. “Thank you again for your time, miss,” says the voice, older and with an air of command behind it. “And, just to be clear, you are certain he went to go see this band play in California?”

“Oh, yes, Detective. He’s always blaring that rock music, and I saw him heading out Friday night wearing that Rage shirt and carrying a backpack. I’m sure he was going.”

“All the way to California?” the cops asks, skeptically.

“Well, yes, that’s what you said, right?”

“Hmm…right. Well, thank you for your time.”

Daron laughs quietly to himself. He wasn’t wearing a Rage Against the Machine shirt, but he was wearing his Raging Bull shirt a few days earlier. Thank goodness for busybodies who don’t pay as much attention as they think they do.

He gets in the car, and they head out. He mentions the cop, but assures Maya and Trent that everything is fine.  They head just outside of town, hoping to escape any direct investigation, and get a room at a Motel 6.  Daron has little cash, but both Maya and Trent have…recently come into a decent amount, and they decide to err on the side of safety, and not paying with a credit card. Trent also volunteers to get the room, figuring he looks the plainest of all of them.  He gets a room, and pays for two night, hopefully ensuring they’ll be ignored during the day.

They pile into the room, two full beds seeming to invite them to rest.  But the curtains, while thick, do not seem thick enough. They all feel the beds would be to exposed, to dangerous, and they decide to sleep, all of them, in the windowless bathroom instead. With not much else to do, and with a couple of hours still before dawn, they talk. Their conversation meanders from topic to topic, threats real and imagined, plans both elaborate and mundane.

What is going to be there plan moving forward? They have a number of issues to contend with. Survival as vampires, avoiding the police, dealing with other vampires, figuring out who made them and why—each of these is brought up in their circular discussion. Was it other vampires, like the one Trent saw? If so, why didn’t that one know what they are or what they were? are there more than one? Is there a way to undo what has happened to them, or is it permanent? If it wasn’t permanent, did they already damn themselves by killing? Do they have to kill?

I use Mythic and get “Starting Tactics.” After talking in circles till almost dawn, they decide that they need to figure out how to survive before they do anything else. They can’t keep killing people, and they need to find out just what they can and can’t do before they start worrying about cops or other vampires or anything else. Tomorrow, they decide to work together, and start at ground zero.

Night 6 Stealing from the Thieves

Night 6 Stealing from the Thieves Thursday, November 12 th , 1992 As the 6 th night begins, the Chaos Factor is set to 6. No rando...