Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Simple Plan, Scene 2

A Simple Plan

Scene 2

I got out of there as fast as I could. No one seemed to be pursuing me, and I'm not sure I blame them. I figure none of them understood what they had just seen, or why they were fighting. But, it’s not like they would just shake it off and think it was a hallucination or anything. They knew someone had been there.

So, I was now screwed two ways. First, I hadn’t been able to get the files I had come here for. Two, they had seen me. Which is the biggest “no no” I can think of. I managed to make a nice mess of things, and I hadn’t even been able to figure anything out. I just wanted to get out there, crawl up back home, and put the night behind me. But as I was walking away—well, ok, creeping away—a thought hit me. What if they call the cops? What if I they had tapes? What if I had managed to screw up the Masquerade?

And then I thought, what if they don’t call the cops? I knew whoever had hired me wanted information on vampires, which means this quarry was somehow tied up with our kind, in a way I couldn’t yet figure out. So, they wouldn’t call the cops. They’d call someone else. And who they called, and what that person did in response, could still be pretty useful. At least more useful than just skulking away.

So, instead of leaving, I decided to stay. I curled up in the nice dark shadow of a dumpster and waited to see what would happen next.

The prompt for this scene is:

Stake out an Actor or Location. Whether or not you win the check, your opponent gains a Victory point due to delay.

As a Nosferatu with Obfuscate, it’s pretty easy for Terry to stakeout a location. So long as he’s in a shadow he is, for all intents and purposes, invisible. But, there’s still the question of him picking the right spot to see, and maybe hear, what he needs to see. So, that will be his challenge for the scene.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Simple Plan, Scene 1

A Simple Plan

Scene One

See, I wasn’t really sure what they were after, just that I had to get to it before “they” did. And I wasn’t even sure who “they” were, other than the lawyers. But I was sure they were a front, of some sort. Some were involved, probably, but I had no way of knowing who. Not then, at least.

But, whatever, that’s not important. Yet. I had no idea how to get into the Vulcan facility, so I had to hitch a ride on one of their cement truck things. It went pretty well, got me all the way to their quarry. In through the gates, no problem. No one even thought of looking back there. Though, I suppose that’s not surprising. Have you ever been in one of those things? If it was on, or even kind of full, it would kill you.

So, thanks to my brilliant plan, I was inside the gates. Of course, what I hadn’t thought about was that they don’t park the working vehicles near the office. The office gets the sedans and pickup trucks. The construction gears gets parked way on the other side, right by the quarry itself. So, after we parked, I just sat there, probably for a good twenty minutes, freaking out, trying to figure out what’s next.

The place was huge. Like a mile or two across, or something. Lights everywhere. And it’s night, but there’s still people around. Not a lot, sure, but some. So, I’m sitting there, crammed inside this damn mixer, trying to figure out what I’m going to do next. The problem is, I’m decent at
staying hidden, so long as I’m still, but if I move, the jig is up. Given that, just walking across wasn’t an option.

Well, it took me a bit, but I manage to pull myself out of the mixer. Step 1 complete. I figure I can at least look around the garage, maybe find a uniform or something. No luck. I’m stuck with my now ruined suit.

Yes, I wear a suit and tie when I’m working from home. Work is work.

I did find a hard hat, though, so that’s something at least. And then, after a bit more digging, I found a clipboard. Now I’m set. I attached some random pieces of paper to it—receipts, work orders, pretty sure a Chinese menu, whatever I can find. I figure so long as you have a clipboard or a file of folders or something, and you walk like you know what you’re doing, most people won’t look at you twice.

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Simple Plan, Prologue

A Simple Plan


Winter was the best time of the year.

When he was alive, Terry despised the winter. It was cold, and dark, and slick with snow and ice and the dirty sludge that covered the city after every storm. But ever since he died, winter had become the only time he felt even somewhat human.

The cold didn’t bother him anymore, and he had seen far worse things than the filthy sludge. Even better, with his hood pulled up and a scarf covering his face, he could actually go out in public, and be around the happy, normal people who still had their lives ahead of them.

He had slowly and carefully made his way to the park. The wounds were still raw, and would take time and blood to heal. But for tonight, there was nothing more he wanted to do than to be around people. They may not speak with him, the cold driving them to move quickly to their destinations. But he could be at least near them, as if he were one of them. And, for now at least, that was enough.

He made his was to an empty bench, and settled on it. From here, he had a view of the frozen lake, and the people skating on it. Families teaching their small children, and tending to their bruises. Friends laughing and joking. Young couples flirting and “accidently” bumping into each other. In the cold and the dark, life played out in front of him.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Session 0 for A Simple Plan

Last time, we created the character of Terry. Now it’s time to figure out what the world has in store for our poor Nosferatu. For this, I’m going to bring in some additional tools, specifically the Storytellers Handbook.
First, I roll for Theme and get a 6, for Pursuit. Rolling on the subtables, I get an 8—“A new witch-hunter has come to town and has managed to find out something about the character.” Huh, guess Terry’s going to have to come to grips with his nature real fast then, won’t he?

I also wanted to make Backgrounds more of an element in the story. Rolling on those tables, I get a 9, for Resources. Rolling on the subtable, I get a 6, which leads to “Unless the character takes prompt action, she will likely suffer a great loss of Resources.” Maybe the hunter is doing the old “follow the money” play book?
I think I have a pretty good setup for a story, but I roll on Scarlet anyways, just to get some inspiration. I roll a 2 and get
An Antagonist seeks to steal something precious to a Target

I’m not sure how that fits with the Witch Hunter element, but let’s see what else we can get.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New Story, New Character

Getting ready to create the next character for my ongoing Solo vampire game, and I realized that I need to do a little bit more book keeping. I can’t keep calling the city “City” or the Prince “Prince” and the like. Riffing a bit off of the background elements from the first story, I’m going to go with the following.

Chronicle Name: Promised Land

City Name: New Canaan

Location: Fictive. Somewhere north of Boston alone the East Coast of the United States.

Prince: Matthew Parker. A Ventrue (seriously, I rolled a 7 on the Clan Chart). He has ruled for the past 50 some odd years, and tends to have a very “hands off” approach to the affairs of his city. Indeed, his tendency to veer between extreme laxity and harsh crack downs is a major source of complaint for the Elders.

Situation: For decades, New Canaan was racked by constant infighting and conflict, and Princes rose and fell with an alarming regularity. This ended when Parker took sides in the last great war. Upon victory, he ruthlessly purged almost half the vampires in the city, eliminating any and all who had the strength or will to oppose him. Since then, though, he has become an almost disconnected Prince. He allows others to embrace freely, and welcomes almost any outsider who comes to the door.

As such, the city is full of rebels, dreamers, artists, anarchs, refugees, exiles, visionaries, and prophets. All mix uncomfortably in the decaying city, and the Elders (as the “native” Kindred call themselves, regardless of age) struggle just to maintain some semblance of peace. When the Prince does intervene, his wrath is legendary. But, more often, he chooses not to.  And for every new vampire who is permitted into the city, another is lost forever thanks to the constant violence.

With that out of the way, it’s time to focus on our new PC. I know a few things going into this. First, per request, the character will be of the Nosferatu Clan. They are a particularly loathsome breed of vampires, whose appearance is uniformly revolting and horrifying. Secondly, I want the character to be somewhat different from Hanson. If Hanson is the classic pulp “tough as nails” P.I., I want this character to play and act as something else. Not sure what, yet, just not Hanson.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Threat, reassessed

With the A Lonely Hope story having come to a close, I'm thinking about where I want to go next in my Solo journey. I definitely enjoyed the heck out of playing Hanson, but there were some growing pains involved in it. The "Scarlet Rules," as a base line, worked out pretty well I thought. Though I did run into some issues with the Threat element of the mechanics.

Now, these rules are of course taken from Kevin Crawford's Scarlet Heroes, an excelled OSR style game. In those rules, Threat is, roughly, related to the character's level. Well, that may not be entirely accurate, but it's close enough for now--I recommend checking out the book on it's own, as it's really an excellent game in its own right. The point is, for my game, I altered how Threat was determined and utilized, to better reflect Vampire and how its mechanics are implemented.

My changes worked decently, but not wondrously, so I want to tweak them a bit. One of the challenges is that Vampire is not a strict level-based system. And so judging challenges and risks is far more of an art than a science, and is entirely subjective based on the character in question. A bad ass Brujah might dominate in a given fight, but fail miserably trying to convince someone to change sides in a struggle. A highly social Ventrue might have the exact opposite problem.

So, instead of assigning a fixed die pool or difficulty derived from Threat, I've decided to use it as subjective guide compared to the character in question. Threat values will still be determined by 1d10, divided in half.

NPC Compared to PC
Difficulty changes for fixed values
Significantly worse
-2 (Default 4)
Slightly worse
-1 (Default 5)
Roughly equal
0 (Default 6)
Slightly better
+1 (Default 7)
Significantly better
+2 (Default 8)

I think this setup is a bit more useful and accurate to the play style that I ended up using. It still allows for extreme danger, as there are times when "Threat +2" comes up as an option in the charts. This at least gives the PC a chance to succeed.

I originally thought of using "2" as the baseline for the levels, with 5 being extremely better than the PC, making for some really intense challenges. But, the +2's still have their place in such cases. Also, in theory this should give each Story it's own flavor--in Story A the Physical Threat is minor, but the Social one is rough, while in Story B it's the Mental Threat that's the real challenge. It's possible that there will be times when the Threat is low across the board, but not every story needs to bring the PC to the point of death, and a less lethal story can still challenge the character morally and personally. Also, in such cases, the minimal experience gained should help balance them against the more extreme stories.

Or, maybe I'll throw the whole thing out and start from scratch. We'll see.  

A Lonely Hope

A Lonely Hope was a Solo Vampire: The Masquerade I played between October 2017 and February 2018. While I have done Vampire games before, A Lonely Hope was a bit of an experiment. For this game, I combined the "urban adventure" rules from the Kevin Crawfords Scarlet Heroes game with Vampire. The result, while rather scatter shot, did end up creating a pretty tense and thrilling pulp-style game.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Lonely Hope--Scene 15. Final

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 15

Blaine had pulled the car to the edge of the back alley, and Hanson and Dona quickly made their way to him. As they got closer, Hanson headed to the driver’s seat and Blaine, reluctantly, moved over. Dona hopped got into the back.

“Where are we going?” She asked.

“The Prince is bringing in everyone, wants to settle this once and for all. I know Marko has been questioned, and the Prince is pissed. Not sure if Gypsy has tracked down Adrian yet or not. “

“Adrian? What does he have to do with this?”

Hanson sighed, forgetting how out the loop with everything Dona was. She turned around to face her, and noticed the cops were gone. It was time they got out too.

She threw the car into gear and took off down the road, starting to fill Dona in what had been going down. Blaine kept interrupting with his own color commentary, and the explanations quickly descended into an argument. An argument that was only ended when the read wind shield suddenly exploded!

There were cars behind them, rapidly gaining. They must have discovered the missing Dona sooner than Hanson had anticipated. The Camry whined and skidded as Hanson threw it into a turn and slammed the accelerator.

“Jesus, you’re going to get us killed. Let’s just pull over and let them come to us. We can take a bunch of mortals,” Blaine said, confidently holding Hanson’s shotgun.

“I’m not worried about them. Cora was there. She’s what I’m worried about.”

“Cora?” Blaine looked back, an awareness of his own mortality creeping into his dead heart.

Hanson sped on through the rain soaked night.

A Lonely Hope --Scene 14

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 14

A cold rain drummed mercilessly on the roof of the Camry. Hanson and Blaine were parked at a closed service station, her beat up car blending in well with the others needing attention. Across the street, they could just make out the Quick Stop Shop and, more importantly, the bar near it. The bar where Hanson had run into Cora, and nearly died. The place seemed quiet, or at least less busy than it had been on Hanson’s last visit. Whether this was due to the time of the week or for some other reason, they couldn’t tell.

“I don’t get it. Why would they bring Dona here, of all places? Why not Adrian’s monastery or, hell, somewhere no one knows about.”

“Pretty sure no one knows about this place. Except for me, and I don’t think I count very much. But more importantly, do you remember your little ‘office’ at Voodoo?”

Blaine turned to look at her. “I remember,” he answered, carefully.

“Well, it wasn’t the first time I saw a setup like that. I didn’t understand it at the time, but last time I was here I saw something similar. Didn’t even strike me as unusual until after I got out of your club. ‘Course, in my defense, I was a bit distracted by Cora.”

“Cora? Cora’s here? Fuck, Megan! Tell me you’re fucking kidding. Jesus! Ok, look, maybe…maybe we should back off, call in some backup or something. I mean…Cora?”

“Calm down Blaine,” Hanson, replied evenly. “We don’t know if Cora is here, she could be off doing…whatever is next in Adrian’s little scheme. Doubt he’d waste her on guard duty. Besides, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we are the backup.

“Besides, did you notice anything odd?”

“Odd? I don’t know. This isn’t exactly my scene.”

“We’ve been here almost 45 minutes, and I haven’t seen a single patrol car come by.”

“Yeah? So. Maybe their busy. I mean, they are trying to track down the ‘evil cult,’ remember?”

“That’s not how it works. Different jurisdiction, different departments. Different priorities. No, a shithole bar like this, in this area? There should be a patrol car coming by every 10 or 15 minutes, looking for an easy DUI or in case a fight breaks out. Someone told them to stay away. Which means she’s here, and they’re expecting trouble. They can stay in as long as the like, but we can’t stay out here forever. We need to get in there.

“Alright, here’s what we’re going to do…”

Friday, February 2, 2018

A Lonely Hope--Scene 13

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 13
In the last scene, Hanson scored a victory and was able to capture one of Adrian’s pawns and bring her to the Prince for questioning. After the raid, though, the city is still on edge…

“What the hell are you doing here?”

Hanson was leaning contemptuously in the doorway. “Funny. I was going to ask you the same thing.”

She brushed past Blaine and walked into the barely furnished apartment. It was a second floor unit in a “garden style” building, out in the middle of the suburbs. Ever since the raid, Blaine had made himself scarce. No one knew where he was hiding, and this little slice of “post-college suburban” life must have been torture to him. At least he had a lovely view of the parking lot.

“No, I mean…SHIT,” he looked out into the hallway, apparently figuring half the vamps in the city were out there, waiting for him. Seeing no one, he closed and locked the door. Double locked, just to be sure. “I mean, what are you doing here? How did you find me?”

Hanson was walking through the combination living room/kitchen, checking drawers and cabinets, finding the nothing she expected to.  “Find you? I never lost
you. Besides, you’re the one who wanted to talk. So, talk.”

Thursday, February 1, 2018

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 15

Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf, alongside their friends Kiro and Sergei, steel themselves for the fight to come. With sunrise not too far off, the Fell are going to make their move. With reckless abandon, arms and legs flailing, the Fell race towards the long-hall in which the Men have decided to make their stand!

The men wait in the dark, as they have for the past few hours, hearing the rain growing louder as time has gone on. The Fell build up in a huge mass surrounding the long-hall, clamoring against the walls trying to climb up and once again creating ramps of themselves. While they may only have three flasks of oil left, the opportunity won't get much better to affect as many Fell as possible as this one. With that shared thought, Kiro removes a flask from his pack and Deirik goes to light a torch. In the faint light provided by the sparks of flint, Ygvard focuses his eyes and notices something. The amount of dust in the air from all the activity on the roof, but more than dust, there's a mold that's come floating down, has created a dangerous situation.

Ygvard races towards Deirik and starts to say, "NO, WAIT!", but he's too late! The longhall EXPLODES as the dust and mold spores ignite from the flame! The Men are flung in all different directions and inhale unsafe amounts of burned, toxic mold.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Lonely Hope--Scene 12

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 12

In the last scene, Hanson tried and failed to find evidence to unravel Adrian’s web of blackmail. Instead, his scheme to lure the mortal police into a direct conflict with Dona and her followers resulted in death and a near rupturing of the Masquerade so necessary to keep the vampires safe.

It had been three nights since the raid, and the city was still on edge. The raid happened near dawn, and there was little the vampires could do to mitigate the disaster. They had their allies and their pawns to limit as much damage as possible, but police officers were dead, and no amount of political pressure would ease their fury.

Or the media’s thirst for a good story. And police officers in a gun battle with “drug fueled cultists” was just too good of a story to be buried in section C9. Everyone needed their pound of flesh.

So, a pound of flesh had been provided. A few heavily dominated drug addicts and a convincingly appointed “Satanic lair” helped. Some subtle dominate and a hot new story about some teen popstar having an affair with a married movie star got people looking the other way again. But despite all that, the city was on edge. Even the slightest push could crack it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Lonely Hope--Scene 11

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 11

Hanson has failed to intimidate Marko, Adrian’s inside man. Instead, she needs to head to Adrian’s haven, a converted monastery, and recover the tapes that are the key to his blackmail.

Hanson sat in her Camry, watching the old monastery. Trying to think of how to get in, and how to find the tapes. Her thoughts, though, kept going back to Marko.

Why the tapes? Assuming Adrian was even halfway competent, he of course had duplicates. Maybe he wanted to verify exactly what they said. Maybe there’s more Kindred trapped in the web, and he wants the leverage for himself. And if that’s the case, should she give them to him? She wasn’t sure. It probably depended on what was on the tapes, and how many people were affected.

Not that it really mattered. Until she had the tapes, this was all theoretical. And finding the tapes was going to be an issue all its own.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Lonely Hope -- Scene 10

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 10
In the last Scene, Hanson was able to track down an ally of Adrian’s, Percy, who gave up some key intel. The prompt for the next scene was

Sabotage a tool, evidence, or ally of the foe so that it betrays their attempted use of it.

Ok, so, Percy gave her something good, and Hanson is going to try sabotage it, to expose Adrian’s shenanigans to the wider vampire world. Now, I just need to figure out what exactly it is that Hanson is going to try to fuck with, and how said fucking will expose Adrian. Time to turn to Mythic!

One of the reason I like Mythic so much is its ability to not just answer yes/no questions (a feature most of its derivatives have), but also “complex questions.” So, I begin with the question of “What asset of Adrian’s is Hanson now aware of?”

99 Oppress 98 Fame

Thinking about this for a moment, I decide that he has been blackmailing a notable Kindred. Since the key is “Fame,” this isn’t necessarily a powerful vampire, but one that is well known and well liked. Whatever blackmail material he has, I assume it would be something very, very bad that he discovered either directly (perhaps this vampire was once a part of his little “church”) or indirectly (via one of his “congregation”). Vampires, of course, don’t really care that much about many things that humans would consider a “crime”—but actions such murdering another vampire or creating a new vampire or anything that violates the Traditions is an option.

So, who is this vampire?  It could be someone we’ve met before—Conservation of Detail and all that. On the other hand, getting this intel was pretty rough, and that implies that it’s something Hanson didn’t know before. So, I set the odds to 50/50. 63, No.

So, someone we haven’t met before.  I could go to the Random Vampire charts, but I think I’ll go with the U.N.E.

Habitual steward whose motivation is to refine the church, achieve the wealthy, and secure ghosts.

I then go back to Mythic to try and fill out some more details.
Is this character a vampire? [Very Likely, 85%] 19, Yes.
What is this characters “sin” (7 Tradition traditions, so I roll 1d7] 7 Destruction. He killed someone he shouldn’t have.
Is this “sin” related to a character we’ve already met? [Likely, 75%] 33, Yes.
Which character? We have the following established characters: (1) Dona, (2) Blaine, (3) Cora, (4) Samuel, (5) Sophia, (6) Gypsy, (7) Percy. I again roll 1d7 and get 2--Blaine.  
Is it Blaine’s sire? [Very Unlikely 25%] 20.

Finally, I turn to Covetous Poet for the final details.
Action: 726 Punish
Thing: 431 Last Will
Plot: 100 Bad Partner
Opposition: 29 Evil Businessman
Location: 426 Hidden Chamber

Long story short, Adrian knows that Marko, Blaine’s sire, has killed a fellow vampire many years ago. The two of them were allies and coterie mates, but Marko killed him in a fit of jealousy and rage. He then blamed the killing on the anarchs of the city. In fact, the vampire in question was named Thomas, and was a childe of the Prince. When the Prince heard of his death, he launched a series of reprisals against the anarchs, a purge that none of them have forgotten. If either the Prince or the anarchs heard of this, Marko’s life would be short lived.

Friday, January 26, 2018

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 14

Having finally seen the true danger of Rulla, Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf, with their friends Kiro and Sergei, immediately race around the longhall. Eirik uses his woodworking skill to brace the larger barn doors on either end. The other men throw debris and wood planks against the other doors and barricade the windows. They grab dried goods and any kindling they can find an pile it up near one of the walls, planning to burn the longhall as a last resort. It's not long before they can hear the screeching, croaking, and growling of the Fell as they make their way through the town and come just outside the longhall.

The Men make their way to the upper level and look out the large window at the scene: it's one out of a nightmare. The entire town is crawling with undead. They hear a gentle rattle of one of the doors downstairs, as if the Fell were expecting to be able to open it. It's immediately followed by a more insistent rattle. Then, other doors begin to shake, as the growling outside increases in volume. The Fell are realizing they're not alone.

A Simple Plan, Scene 2

A Simple Plan Scene 2 I got out of there as fast as I could. No one seemed to be pursuing me, and I'm not sure I blame ...