Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Lonely Hope -- Scene 7

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 7

In the last post, Hanson finally got some much-needed information. The prompt for the next scene is:

Suffer betrayal by an Actor; face a fight as a you try to escape or avenge yourself.

Using Mythic, I determined that the Actor in question is Blaine, the well-connected Toreador who serves as Dona’s “patron.” Finally, I use Covetous Poet’s Adventure Creator to determine where the scene takes place.

It was a good thing it was a weeknight. From Thursday to Saturday, the Voodoo Lounge was one of the most popular places in the city, at least for the young, beautiful, and rich. And even Hanson didn’t meet the requirements. But fortunately, tonight was a “quiet” one, at least by their standards. Which meant the line didn’t extend too far out the door, and that once Hanson was in, she wasn’t crushed by the crowds.

Blaine was there, of course. Like she expected. She had done a check on the place a while ago, and, from a legal point of view, Blaine had nothing to do with it. Not a single piece of paper related to Voodoo had his name on it. But everyone, mortals and vampires, knew it was his. It wasn’t an unusual situation, and Hanson had investigated dozens of dealers and wannabe mobsters with similar arrangements. But she could never figure out why someone like Blaine would go through all the effort to not own something.

She strode into the VIP section, where Blaine was holding court with a handful of finance types and a bunch of girls who seemed barely out of braces. She parked herself in front of him, and he waved his friends away, saying he needed a minute. Hanson watched them walk away.

“Meagan!” He smiled his million dollar smile at her. “We were worried about you.”

Hanson avoided the smile and looked out at the girls. “I thought you guys carded here.”

“I thought you had stopped being a cop.”

“Same gig, different jurisdiction.”

“Well, then it is no longer your concern, is it? Still, if it eases your conscious, I can personally vouch…”

Hanson didn’t let him finish. Moving her eyes over the club, she asked “Where’s Dona?”

“Dona? I’m not sure. Probably at home, working on a new sermon or planning an even greater revival. Why do you ask?”

“Anything odd happen the past two nights? Anyone harassing her? Anything out of the ordinary?”

“Not that I know of, at least since the church. But, it’s not like she needs to report to me, or anything. I’m a friend, not her father. Like I told…”

“Are you?”


“Her friend?”

“Meagan, what is this all about?” his smile remained unchanging, and she had to force herself not to look at him.

“Do you know Adrian Clark?”

Hanson is attempting to Fast Talk Blaine, keeping him off his feet with rapid fire questions, hoping he’ll screw up and reveal the truth. To accomplish this, she needs to roll Manipulation[3]+Subterfuge[0]. I set the difficulty to 10, based on the Story’s Social Threat level.

Manipulation[3]+Subterfuge[0] 6,5,7 With 0 successes, she fails.

“Adrian? Well, yes, I guess.” He rolled his eyes as he attempted to do some calculations. “He’s my sires broodmates childe’s childe, I believe. Which makes us…cousins? Once removed? I’m not sure how all this works.”

“Religious fella, ain’t he?”

“What is this all about?”

“Is he religious?”

“Well, I suppose. He has a thing for nuns, I can tell you that. And monasteries. You wouldn’t believe how much he paid for a former convent, it was absolutely…”

“Does he know Dona?”

The smile was starting to show signs of fatigue, but to his credit he kept chatting as amiably as ever. “Everyone knows Dona. After all, isn’t that why you’re always watching? To see who shows up?”

“Personally, though.”

“Yes, I suppose so. It’s not big secret. He’s the one who actually brought her to the city. Wanted to lock her up in some convent, make her a living saint or some such. Can you even imagine? I mean…”

“Why are you helping her?”

The smile finally cracked, giving way to a perfect frown. It was disappointed, but also understanding and forgiving. How long did he practice to nail that look? “Meagan, what is this all about?”

“You’re not a religious type. What is Dona to you?”

“Is it really so hard to think that even a creature such as myself might yearn for some form of transcendence, for some glimmer of hope in our otherwise meaningless…”

She leaned over and casually drew her Glock and pressed it against his knee. “Don’t fuck with me, Blaine. I’ve been shot, beaten, and nearly set on fire because of this bullshit. I want some honest answers for a change.” She pulled the hammer back. “And don’t fucking call me Meagan.”

He glared at her. “You used to be more fun. Fine, you want to know the truth? She pisses off the Elders, and that means I like her. I don’t give a shit if a bunch of Nos and Caitiff flock around her, and I don’t care if there’s a heaven or a hell. I just like seeing our betters squirm. Now put that fucking gun away.”

He gave her a partial truth, but not all of it. Can Hanson figure it out?

Perception[2]+Subterfuge[0] diff 10. 4,3 0 Successes

She gently released the hammer and slid the gun back into its holster.  Grudgingly, she filled Blaine in on what she had learned from Brittany, about the tattooed assassin and Adrian’s efforts to discredit Dona and her message. When she has finished, he sighed deeply. “All right, Hanson. We should probably warn Dona, have her stay in for a few nights. Then we’ll go talk to our sires. Come on, there’s a phone in the office we can use.”

She was glad to get out of the main floor. The place reeked of desperate decadence, and even on a quiet night the off kilter beat of eruo-trash dance music. It was enough to give her a headache.

And since when were the dead supposed to get headaches?

They walked back through the kitchen to a small, cramped office. The place had clearly once been a storage room of some kind, and still partially was, she assumed. There were a few metal shelves full of random supplies crammed haphazardly in with a desk and a few chairs, forming something like a crude office. The manager had his own, they had walked passed it, so Hanson figured this was for Blaine’s personal use. Pretty spartan for Blaine, but he probably did most of his work in the VIP section.

Blaine is leading Hanson into a trap, but can she see it coming. The mental challenge is a default of 8, but she’s failed both previous Social rolls, so I increase it by 2, to 10.

Perception[2]+Alertness[0] 6,1 With no successes and a 1, she botches.

Blaine sat at the desk, beckoning Hanson to take the seat across. He picked up the old rotary style phone and dialed, then began speaking. Whoever answered wasn’t Dona, and there was a delay as they waited till she came to the phone. When she finally did, Hanson heard Blaine filling her in on what was going on, followed by a number of noncommittal grunts and “uh huh’s.” Finally, he passed the phone to Hanson, but the phone cord was too short. She had to get up and move around the desk. He vacated his chair, and squeezed past her, whispering “I have to take care of something, be back in a sec.” She ignored him, and sat in the chair. “Dona, it’s me.”

There was no answer, only silence. “Dona? Dona are you there?” She clicked at the receiver, but heard nothing. Then, the door slammed shut. Confused, she looked at the door. There was something missing. Something wrong. Then she saw it. There was no handle.

She rushed to the door, and began banging on it. How did she not see it? What kind of “storage room” has a door that swung out, and had one made of steel? And lacked a handle.

“Blaine, you fucker. Open this door or I’m breaking it down.” Not even waiting for an answer, she kicked, hard, at the door. But the damn thing didn’t even budge.

Feats of Strength in Vampire are handled a bit differently than most other rolls. I’m not going to go into the details, since Hanson’s Strength of 4 and Potence of 1 should allow her to easily break through a metal fire door. But anyone competent wouldn’t even try locking her in a cage if they weren’t sure it would hold her. So, I’ll just declare the door is too sturdy for her to break through with raw personal power.

She paced like a caged tiger, unaware of and unconcerned with how long she had been trapped. Only knowing that she had to get out. She had cursed and ranted at the door, bludgeoned it with her fists, feet, body. She had slammed the door with the metal storage shelves and the desk, but the damn thing just stood there, dented but unbowed. She had torn into the walls, only to find them made of the same material as the door.

As she paced back and forth, a small slight sound made it past her rage. A delicate squeak at one particular point of the floor, a quiet noise that betrayed a potential weakness. She ground her heal into the spot, grinding through the carpeting and revealing the wood that existed beneath. She kicked into it, and slammed the shelves onto the spot. It was giving, slightly. It was dented and pitched, but still held too strong. She needed to weaken that spot. She looked around the room, searching for something she could use and saw the supplies. She had tossed them casually to the floor, not thinking they would be worth much. But looking at them now, she saw a half-filled container of Acetone. She picked the jar up and looked at the spot in the floor. “I hate my fucking life.”

Grabbing a piece of the wrecked shelves, she tore up as much of the carpeting as possible, exposing the floor. She poured the acetone over the spot, and moved as far as possible from it as she could. She reached into her jacket and pulled out her zippo. Spinning it between her fingers, she repeated, like a mantra, “I hate my fucking life. I hate my fucking life. I hate my fucking life.”

Fire is a particularly nasty foe to vampires, and one of the few things that can truly kill one. As a result, vampires have a primal terror, called either Rötschreck or the Red Fear. A vampire exposed to sudden flames will shred the skin from their fingers trying to crawl away.

And Hanson is about to light the room up.

So, she’s going to need to make a Virtue roll to see how she handles this. In base vampire, virtues are rolled reactively. You do what you wanted, and then roll to see how you respond. For a solo game, I often use them proactively—you roll to see if you can really bring yourself to commit such an act.

She needs to make a Courage roll against a difficulty of 7 (the listed value for “being burned,” which sounds about right). This is a key roll, so she’ll add a Willpower point.  Despite only having 2 left, this is one she cannot afford to fail.

Courage [3] 10,8,10 +1 for a total of four success. Easily the best she could have hoped for.

She tossed the lit zippo into the center, and flames sprang up immediately. The heat and the pressure worked themselves deep into her, and all she wanted to do was run and hide, even though there was nowhere to go. She forced a swallow and made her body focus on what was needed, pushing the terror away. Something to worry about later.

The room began filling with smoke, and even the flames provided little light. She realized then that there were no vents in this room, the perfect vampire prison. She thought of biding her time, letting the flames burn themselves out, but she didn’t know how long she had, nor what damage the smoke and heat would do to her. Instead, she picked up the mangled remains of the metal desk and threw it at the  dead center of the flames. If broke through a few inches, then remained stuck. Gritting her teeth, the flames lapping at her feet, she picked it up and slammed it down again. And again. And again, until it finally broke through into the basement.

The sudden onrush of air kicked the flames into overdrive, and fearing the soon to be raging inferno, Hanson leapt unseeing into the void below.

Fire is nasty, and Hanson just spent a few rounds dealing with it. To simplify, I decide that she risks damage three times. Round 1 will only be 2 dice of damage, and she is near, but not in the flames. Round 2 will be 3 dice of damage, and she stands in the smoldering flames. Round 3 will be 4 dice, as she jumps through the now fully fueled conflagration.

All of this damage is aggravated. As Hanson lacks the discipline of Fortitude she cannot soak any of it.

Round 1 10,2
Round 2 3,9,9
Round 3 4,1,9,7

She takes a total of 4 levels of aggravated damage, though as soon as she lands she spends 5 blood points healing one of them. Still, she is reduced to Injured. She will have a -1 on all future die rolls (except Virtues and Soaking)

She landed, hard. Something was broken, though she couldn’t say for sure what it was. Wasn’t anything important. She could still feel pain everywhere, so that was reassuring. She watched the flames dance above her, as the blood slowly made its way through her, seeping into her bones and her skin. Doing what it could to make her whole again. But it wasn’t enough, her body was still wrecked. She didn’t let it bother her. She laughed and thought of something her mother had told her.  Time heals all wounds.

The sounds of the boots on the stairs brought her around. Three men, mortals by their sweat and panic, had come rushing down. Dressed in the black t-shirts and slacks of bouncers everywhere, but carrying guns. Blaine must really not want her to leave.

She laid still, her hand just far enough from her gun to not be suspicious. Unbreathing, unmoving. The boldest of them gradually approached her. They didn’t know, or apparently understand, what she was. They should have just shot me as soon as they saw me.

I’ve gone through combat is pretty exhaustive detailed before, so this will be an abbreviated example. The bouncers have 7 dice for their combat pool, based on the Story Threat. Hanson has initiative because Mythic indicated that the bouncers weren’t genre savvy.  Hanson spends blood to use her Celerity.

Round 1
Action 1
Hanson shoots at the nearest bouncer.

Dexterity[4]+Firearms[3]-Wound [1] difficulty 3 (point blank) 10,5,3,8,7,5 for 6 Successes
Damage. Glock[2]+Successes[6] 4,10,5,3,9,8,9,4 for 4 levels of damage. As a mortal, he can not soak.

Bouncer 1 attempts to shoot back at her. 2 and 3 will hold their fire, as the two are far too close together.
Dexterity[4]+Firearms[3]-Wound[2] difficulty of 3. 2,5,4,1,2 for 1 success.
Damage. Glock[2]+Successes[1] 5,1,10 for no successes.

Action 2
Hanson fires at him again.
Dexterity[4]+Firearms[3]-Wound [1] difficulty 3 (point blank) 10,9,3,6,5,9 for 6 Successes
Damage. Glock[2]+Successes[6] 7,8,9,10,9,7,3,9 for 6 levels of damage. As he can no soak. Bouncer 1 dies.

Round 2
Initiative needs to be rolled this round, and the bouncers win. Hanson will drop her gun and close in her baton, while they attempt to shoot her. As Hanson is still on the ground, their difficulty is increased by 1 to 8.

Action 1
Bouncer 1
Dexterity[4]+Firearms[3] 1,1,1,8,5,6,9 technically a botch, but I’ll just rule that it’s a miss, and give him a complication later, if needed.
Bouncer 2
Dexterity[4]+Firearms[3] 1,1,3,4,3,2,4 another botch. Damn, I swear I’m rolling these straight. I guess they’re rushing around and firing in blind panic, and this will allow Hanson to close in with them without a penalty.

Hanson attacking Bouncer 1 with her baton (difficulty 4, damage Strength+1)
Dexterity[4]+Melee[2]-Wound[1] 8,1,4,9,5 for 3 successes.
Damage. Strength[4]+Weapon[1]+Successes [3] 6,1,7,4,10,4,8,7 +1 Potence for 6 levels of damage.

Action 2 Hanson turns her attention to Bounce 2.
Dexterity[4]+Melee[2]-Wound[1] 5,8,1,10,10 for 3 successes.
Damage. Strength[4]+Weapon[1]+Successes [3] 4,8,10,5,10,10,10,1+1 Potence for 5 levels of damage.

Round 3

Hanson has more or less won the fight, and there is no need for another round.

The two men writhed on the ground, grasping their shattered limbs and crying. Seeing no more threat from them, Hanson cautiously headed up the stairs. Seeing nothing but cooks and dishwashers studiously looking anywhere but at the basement door, she walked as casually as possible out the back door. Her car was still in the parking lot where she had left it—away from the rest of the cars, and angled to leave quickly. She hopped in, and got the hell out of Vodoo.

Hanson has successfully completed the scene, and thus gains 1 Victory Point. In addition, since this was a Conflict scene, her foe loses 1 Victory Point. This is only a small comfort, however, since after spending so much Willpower and Blood, and taking so much damage, Hanson will need to Rest for the next scene (which will automatically grant the foe a Victory Point). To see what comes next, however, I decide to go with another Investigation Scene. I roll a 1 and get

Hunt up an Actor whom you have reason to suspect can give you a Clue.

See you guys next time!

Victory Points
Investigation & Action Scene Count
Willpower (max 6)
Blood Pool (Max 11)
Health (Max 7)
Scene Number
Tail an Actor who might have a Clue. On a check failure, face a Fight.
Failed to Tail, succeed on Fight
Face the foe's best warrior
Hanson hunts, feeds, and heals
Trick an Actor into revealing a Clue.
Waylaid by hostile Actor
Convince an ally of the foe to betray them
Suffer betrayal by an Actor.
Rest and Recover

Hunt down an Actor to provide a Clue

Rules and Mechanics
Not familiar with Vampire? Check out the Primer
Story StructureScarlet Vampire

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