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? Is 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.

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