Monday, October 23, 2017

A Lonely Hope -- Prologue

Scarlet Vampire
A Lonely Hope

With all the prep work out of the way (here), I'm ready to start playing. I've gone ahead and created a brief chart to keep track of all the various narrative elements for the game, and I'll be updating it after each scene. And with that, we're ready to start. 

Victory Points
Investigation & Action Scene Count

Scene Number


This was all wrong, Hanson thought to herself, looking over the small gathering before her. They should have been meeting in some crypt somewhere, or perhaps that old Catholic church off Washington Boulevard. Somewhere old, and decrepit. Someplace full of dust and decay, and the remnants of proper medieval faith. Someplace suitable for the damned to confront their souls and stand in front of God and be judged.

Instead, they were in the "multi-purpose" room in the basement of a damn Methodist church. The room looked like any cheap conference room. Beige walls, indistinct carpets. A whole mess of chairs stacked along one wall. Someone had even started a pot of coffee, for Christ's sake. Coffee! As if this was an AA meeting. Hello, my name is whatever, and I'm a vampire, she should say, as the group chimed their response back. I've killed a whole lot of people, but I feel really bad about it, so don't get mad at me.

Still, she had to admit that the meeting seemed to be going well. Dona was up front, having just finished telling her story. Hanson had heard it almost a half dozen times now, and could recite it almost as well as she could. The mundane life in a small town in Mexico. The subtle seduction by her sire. The embrace. The change. The lust for blood and destruction. The vision, the call to seek the "Light" and others. It was a good story, all things considered. Hell, it even might have been true. Or, at least a cleaned up version of the truth. And Hanson wasn't the only one who could recite it. At least half of the vamps here had heard it before, often retelling it among themselves afterwards. It was a simple story. Most of the elements could have applied to any of them. But the way Dona told felt real. Felt like it was happening to you. Like you were there with her every step of the way.

And it wasn't her gifts. Hanson had been around long enough to know how vampires can mess with your emotions and thoughts, but Dona was different. There was no dark magic about her, no cruel manipulations. There was just...her. Direct, open, and present. She was real. All around her were monsters acting like people, and in the middle was just Dona, being real. And kind, and good. Words that Hanson had been forcing herself to forget ever since she had been turned.

The group was now moving on to the participants stories, and Hanson turned her attention to the new folks. She had heard most of the stories they told already, and knew most of it was self-serving crap. None of them were really being honest. Half of them would find any excuse to justify what they had done, and the other half were practically bragging. And most of the brags were lies anyways. At least two of them have "confessed" that they killed DJ Deadboy last year. He had been a proper "artist" who hid pretty blatantly under his stage makeup. When he started draining fans, the Prince had taken action. And by that, he had sent Gypsy and Hanson to send Deadboy a message. Gypsy had just taken his head off. But still, there were these nobodies crying tears of blood out of guilt for killing him.

Everyone wanted to be something they weren't.

As she was scanning the room she noticed Blaine strolling in casually. He was a neonate, like Hanson. But his sire had some serious pull in the town, so while Hanson had to work to stay on the Prince's good side, Blaine just got to do whatever he damn well pleased. And for a reason Hanson still couldn't figure out, his current project was Dona. Why was a spoiled, self-involved prick like Blaine supporting someone like Dona? Boredom? A goof? Was he up to something? Her thoughts threatened to wander off, analyzing various potential theories, until Blaine walked up to her.

"You're looking as lovely as ever, Meagan," he said, grinning his million-dollar smile at her. Hell, it might actually have cost him a million dollars. It was a great smile.

"Fuck off, Blaine," she said, turning away from his smile. "I'm working."

"Of course. Couldn't allow any gathering in the town without the Prince's duly appointment representatives present. How foolish of us to think otherwise. However, I do find it odd that it seems to be always you. Isn't that strange? I mean, I know you're the low woman on the totem pole, but couldn't they send anyone else? Raoul? Mikey? What about that Fowler kid? Nope, it's always you. You wouldn't be volunteering for this gig, would you Hanson?" He stared at her, waiting for a response.

She waited a few seconds, then shifted her gaze slightly from the group, who were currently discussing something she couldn't quite follow about motherhood and unconscious blood ties. "I'm sorry, did you say something?"

"Touché, Meagan. I will leave you to your solemn duty." He gave her a slight bow and walked off.

He just needed a fuckin' fedora, she thought. She didn't like Blaine, not as a person, and not as a vampire. She didn't like anyone who wasn't her family calling her Meagan, and that was enough to make sure she hated you. But she would have hated Blaine no matter what he called her, and no matter how nice his smile was.  He was an asshole as vampire, and was probably an asshole as a human. The Change never really changed anyone that much.

No matter what Dona said.

Her thoughts were cut short by a vague sound off in the distance. A police siren. She immediately knew there was something wrong. This was a cleared meeting. Things had been arranged, no police were to come anywhere near this building. No city workers, no reporters. It was subtle, the influence the Prince wielded. Hanson was part of his organization, and even she was amazed at how he could fit the dominoes together. If a meeting was happening, and the Prince approved it, that meant there was a goddamn wall around it, and no mortal would even think to cross it. They wouldn't even know it was there, just all their attention and focus would be pointed somewhere, anywhere else.

And this was important. Vampires are, by nature, a bunch of superpowered serial killers with anger issues. Dona would have a problem with that though--hell, most vamps would. But Hanson had seen enough to know the truth. All their civility, and fashion, and manners, and subtle mind games were just illusions to hide it. The truth was that they were all murderers who, at the very base of who they were, liked killing. Get a group like that together, and you're running a risk. Most of the time everything is fine; there's bitching and gossiping and everyone trying to push each other’s buttons. But once in a while, someone pushes just the right button, and then all hell breaks loose. And you do not want a bunch of mortals around when that happens. You want someone like Hanson around.

So, no cops. That was a given. But then why the hell were they nearby? Why were the getting louder? They might just be passing by. They could be en route between points A and B and don't care about the non-descript Methodist church or it's all purpose room or it's "Thrombocytopenia Survivors Meeting." They could be, but she wasn't here to take chances.
She stood forward "Everyone! I'm sorry, the meeting is over. Please move to the exit. Now."

They stopped and looked at her, like idiots. She drew her gun "If I need to start putting bullets in you, I will." That got them going. She never knew why you had to threaten violence to get a vampire to do anything. Not like the bullets would hurt them, at least not permanently. And it's not like she would actually fire the weapon, not with the cops nearby.
But for some reason, she always had to at least threaten before they would do what she said.

They all quickly left by the emergency fire exit, which had had its wires disconnected earlier just in case this was needed. Hanson was the last one to leave, turning off the coffee pot and the lights as she did so, then reactivating the fire door as she gently closed it. Most of the group had gone, vanishing into the shadows or up roof tops or seeking out cars parked a few blocks away. Even when a meeting is approved, certain precautions are still necessary. Blaine and Dona were standing together near his car. A Lamborghini, naturally. The sirens were getting louder, and the first squad cars were already pulling in up front. Dona started walking towards Hanson, wanting to know what was going on. Out of the corner of her eye, Hanson saw...someone. Someone who didn't belong. Someone who was walking just slightly too quickly, like they were trying to "walk natural" but wanted to break out into a run. Someone walking away from a pay phone.

She pointed at Blaine and ordered him to "get her out of here and off the streets." Before he could reply, she was, crossing the street by keeping to the shadows. She was going to find out who this person was, and where they were going

Each Scene in Scarlet is either an Investigation, a Conflict, an Action, or a rest. For the first Scene, I roll on the Investigation table. I had actually done this before I started writing the prologue above, so I knew where it was going. My result is a 3, and I get the following:
Tail an Actor who might have a Clue. On a check failure, face a Fight.
I decide on a whim that the Actor is not a vampire, as any vampire worthy of the name would have a better method to get out of there besides "walking fast, but not too fast." I also decide that Hanson has 5 turns to follow this person before something happens. I'm not exactly sure what yet.

And, we stop there. The Prologue ran on longer than expected, and I think I've reached the limit of for this post. The proper first session begins next!

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

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