Monday, October 30, 2017

A Lonely Hope -- Scene 4

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 4
At the end of the last Scene, Hanson was dumped into the sewers, after being beaten to near death by Cora. She fed as best she could from the rats that crawled around her, barely sustaining herself. At dusk, she crawled out and fed as best she could. Each victim gave her more strength and helped her to heal. Finally, she made her way back to her apartment, grabbed a quick shower and a change of clothes. Gina was of course worried for her, and Gypsy has left multiple messages. Hanson placated Gina, and ignored the phone calls. She grabs a good-sized satchel to complete her ensemble, and disconnects the sawed-off shotgun she keeps under desk and stashes it in the purse. She’s not sure when, or if, she’ll run into Cora again, but she’s going to be ready.

As Hanson took a “Rest” for the last Scene, allowing her to heal all her wounds, and replenish her Blood Pool and all spent Willpower points. The still-unknown Opponent, however, gained a Victory Point. They currently have 2, while Hanson has only 1. She needs more information, and her goal for the next scene is:
Trick an Actor into revealing a Clue. Roll a die; on an odd result, you face a Fight whether or not you succeed on the check.
For the Actor, I relied on a “Human Oracle” through the LoneWolf Group and got the following:
A Malkavian who is totally disconnected with reality, but is immensely potent in Auspex, although it's largely uncontrolled. He acts out a mishmash of all of the constant input he receives from thousands of minds he uncontrollably reads.
She needs to convince the mad man to help. This is going to be tricky. The Social Threat for this Story is 5, which means a base difficulty of 10(!) for Social rolls. Oh, I also didn’t know WHERE she would be meeting this scene, so I rolled on Covetous Poet’s Horror Location chart and got Memorial.

Hanson took a cab to Memorial Park, a 27 acre pocket of green amidst the concrete and steel of the city. It was, as ever, under “renovations” as the play areas and walkways were always destroyed or tagged by the gangs or bored teenagers or merely made “unsightly” by the constant presence of the homeless. One corner was always left alone, however. No matter how nihilistic the city was, there was still just enough respect that the small Vietnam memorial was left untouched.

As she walked through the park, she felt numerous pairs of eyes fix on her. To some, her presence seemed to invite opportunity. But others saw her walk that of a cop, got glimpse of the sidearm on her hip, and saw a threat. And to a few, it wasn’t her walk, or her gun, or her looks that scared them. They could tell she didn’t belong, that there was something wrong with her, something dangerous. So the weak stayed away, intimidated by the warnings of the strong, and the fear of the mad.

And it was to the mad she now sought. She needed to know what Cora was up, why she was working against Dona, who she was working for, and just what the hell was going on in her city. There was enough pressure to exile Dona already, and the threat of a Masquerade breach would be enough to push the odds. She couldn’t turn to Gypsy, or any of her other “official” contacts—they would turn against the girl as soon as it was viable for them to do so. She needed to go off the books; and there was no one more off the books than Samuel.

She found him sitting on one the benches, starting at the Memorial and muttering to himself. She knew he liked coming here, as far from others as possible in the city. His gift, like all of them, was also a curse, and getting him to help wasn’t going to be easy.

Before she even stepped into the circle of commemorative benches and statues, Samuel ceased his babbling. He stood and, his back still to her, said in his quiet, almost childlike voice, “I don’t have what you need.”

All right, Hanson has to convince Samuel to leave his protective park and come with her to the hustle and chaos of the city, back to the bar where she met Cora, and get him to “read” the area, to pick up all that he can.  Before she begins talking to him, I need to find out if a Fight is going to break out. I roll a d10 and get a 2. Even, so no fight is guaranteed to break out in this scene.

While Vampire has a number of rules for a variety of encounters, “convincing a crazy person to come with you and do what you want” isn’t one of them. Putting on my Storyteller hat, I decide that this is a complex task, requiring three different rolls, and that Hanson needs to accumulate 10 total successes.

The three most reasonable tasks would be:
Manipulation+Etiquette: to establish her presence and calm the agitated Malkavian
Perception+Empathy: to understand what his concerns are
Charisma+Leadership: to convince him to come with her

There’s a problem, though. Social skills are NOT Hanson’s forte—she’s better on her own than she is asking others for help (see her character sheet here). She has no points in either Empathy or Leadership. Instead, she’ll try a Wits+Investigation roll to make a snap judgement about what might be bothering him, then go for the kill with a Manipulation+Intimidate roll, as she attempts to pressure him into helping her. She can either help him with what’s bothering him, or make it worse—that sort of thing.

The standard difficulty is 6, but since she’s going the hard way, the difficulty will increase by 2, to 8. Given the odds against her, she will also spend a Willpower for each roll, guaranteeing her at least 1 success.

Here’s what happens:
Manipulation+Etiquette [4] difficulty 6. 10,2,3,7 + 1 for 3 successes. She is able to calm Samuel and get him talking.
Wits+Investigate [6] difficulty of 8. 5,5,4,1,2,10 + 1 for 1 success. Not much in the immediate area threatens Samuel, so Hanson is scarping the barrel, trying to use her street knowledge to imply that the local gangs will soon use this spot for their deals.
Manipulation+Intimidate [5] difficult of 8 7,9,1,10,9 +1 for 4 successes.

With only 8 total success, Hanson fails the challenge.

Hanson stormed out of the park, the insane ramblings of Samuel still echoing in her ears. He refused to budge from his “sacred space,” no matter what may come. But there was something else. He was scared. Scared of something more than the thoughts of others that plagued him. Something he refused to share.

She was tired, and frustrated, and getting nowhere with her investigation.

Hanson has failed the challenge again, and her Opponent automatically gains a Victory Point.  In addition, as this was an Investigation Scene, the Opponent gets to roll against the ongoing Count and gets a 4. She really needs a Conflict scene to start chipping away at their total, but she also needs information. I decide to go with another Investigation Scene. Here’s what she’s facing next:

Be waylaid by a hostile Actor with a Clue. Face a Fight instead of a check.

Good. Hanson has some frustrations to work out.
Victory Points
Investigation & Action Scene Count
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

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

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