Monday, August 7, 2017

Clash of Wills Introduction

A World Lit Only by Fire
Great World of Darkness Chronicle
Clash of Wills
(Written by Steve Miller, developed by Justin Achilli, and illustrated by Leif Jones, with cover art by Dan Brereton.)

For the first story in "The Great World of Darkness Chronicle" I will be playing Clash of Wills. Spoilers, naturally, follow. The story in question involves a group of British vampires dispatched by Mithras, the Prince of London to the small County of Galtre. It's monstrous and aged Earl is dying, and planning to will his lands to the church. As the British church is controlled by Mithras' rivals, he desires the lands to pass to the Crown. The players have been dispatched to see that Mithras' will is enacted.

First of all, I will be making a few changes to the established setting.  I want to incorporate as much of my ideas on how to redo the Long Night as possible given the module-focused nature of this campaign. To summarize quickly, the Dark Ages are a time of confinement, isolation, and ignorance. Even the story of Caine and his relationship to vampires is little known in most of the continent. Instead, various Elders rules their progeny with an iron fist. Even the term "Prince" is an anachronism for this time period. And much of the power of the Elders comes from fantastic and self-aggrandizing myths they tell about themselves, and to which the childer have no reason to even question.

So, in this setting, "Mithras" goes by Joseph, claiming to the be the Joseph of Arimathea. But instead of bringing the Holy Grail to England, he instead brought the very blood of Christ with him, and was thus the First Vampire. There were few vampires in England during the Roman times, and fewer still who survived the chaos that accompanied its Fall. Even those who know better accept the lie to further their own power, seeing no need to tell the childer anything by stories to ensure their obedience.

In addition, the society is extremely status and class conscious. Those of "better" Clans--Ventrue, followed by Toreador, and then Brujah--are superior to those such as Gangrel or Tremere.  In addition, those of lower (read: better) Generation are superior to those of higher. This is the society that exists, and none have thoughts of questioning it.

Secondly, the rules used are a bit of a mashup. Combat and derangements are from the 1st Edition of Vampire, the Roads and Disciplines are from Dark Ages: Vampire. As such, I try to clarify which rule I'm using when they come up.

Next, I wanted this to be the springboard for some future adventures in the Chronicle. The first is the Ventrue Chronicles, so I made sure to include the character creation advice in that book for these characters. Otherwise, characters were generated randomly--the of course one was going to be a Venture, and the childe of the Prince of York. Each character has a decently elaborate backstory, but I'll include only the highlights here.

Here are the characters:

Godfrey--the Maimed Lord. Ventrue, childe of John of York. As a mortal, he suffered terribly from a malformed hand and constant nightmares. His frailty ensured he was passed over in favor of his younger siblings, and he made his way as a Seneschal for other, greater Lords. His ruthless efficiency and cunning drew the attention of John, the "Eldest" of York.  His feeding requirements are virtuous, beautiful, and virginal peasant girls (his favorite target alone on passed over manor). FLAWS: One Handed (actually, he has both, but his right is malformed and useless) and Nightmares. MERITS: Lightsleeper. ROAD: Kings (6)

Johann--the Penitent Crusader. Childe of Eyolf of York. A peasant boy rounded up for service in the Third Crusade, Johann was shocked and horrified at what he was forced to do in the name of the lord. When the Crusade ended with Jerusalem still in the hands of the Saracens, he and his companions were abandoned by their Lords, and it took him years to return to England. During that time, his faith was challenged and tested, but he emerged stronger for it. Now he seeks to return to the Holy Land, but must first serve his betters before being able to depart. MERITS AND FLAWS: None. ROAD: Heaven (7).

Samuel--Vengeful Madman. Childe of Lucius. A child of a prosperous village craftsman, Samuel was well suited to take his fathers place. But a series of tragedies ruined his life, forcing him to a life of petty banditry and crime. And then, the real horror began. One by one, his gang was killed off, until only two were left. Each was convinced the other had been behind the killings, and Samuel was barely able to kill his once true friend before he himself was slain. Lucius, his sire, then revealed himself as the killer of the gang, and forcibly embraced Samuel. Samuel now hunts his sire, believe him to not only have been the killer of his gang, but the source of all the tragedy in his life. His sire, he is certain, is always just behind him, waiting to strike. FLAWS: Infamous Sire and Sire's Resentment (Lucius isn't actually hunting him, yet). MERITS: None. Derangement: Compulsive behavior--he always takes a trophy of some sort from those he feeds on.

Godfrey, while hailing from York, is in London serving Joseph and his court as a "squire"--part of his coming of age as a proper Ventrue. Johann the Court, hoping for permission and aid in returning to the Holy Land. Samuel has no where else to go, but feels safe from his sires wrath among the elder vampires. Both of the later are viewed as nothing so much as disposable peons by their betters. As such, Godfrey will be the "main character" of the story, the one making most the major decisions. At least, so long as he is around. What the other two get up to behind his back in their own business...

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