Monday, November 27, 2017

A Lonely Hope -- Scenes 8 & 9

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 8

Exhausted and drained, Hanson stumbled into her haven, a small apartment in the basement of the offices she shared with Gina. Dawn was less than an hour away, and the desperate need for sleep was ready to overpower her. The lights suddenly came on, and a voice said to her “pushing it a little close, aren’t you?”

Gypsy sat smugly in the only chair in the place. She was not only Hanson’s sire, the vampire who had turned her, but also her “boss”—the Prince’s top enforcer.

“What the fuck do you want, Gyp?”

“Just to make sure my favorite childe is alive and well. Oh, and to ask you just what the hell you think you’re doing?”

“My damn job.”

“Really? Your job? Since when does your job entail getting into a brawl in front of a cop? Or mixing it up with Cora of all people?”

Hanson merely shrugged. She didn’t feel the need to explain herself to anyone. Her childish defiance only increased Gypsy’s annoyance. “Why didn’t you check in? Get some damn backup? You’re not some anarch, for God’s sake.”

“Spare me the bullshit, Gyp. What the hell do you want?”

She stood up and walked up to Hanson. “Whatever is going on with Dona isn’t your damn job. Observe and report, that’s it, childe. Anything else is none of your fucking concern.”

“They threatened the Masquerade.”

“Did they? Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot when you became the Prince. It’s not your damn call, so don’t get delusions. So drop it, you hear me. Drop it.” Then, softening, she said “come by the club tomorrow night.  I have something else I need you to work on.”

Following the events of last time, Scene 8 is a rest scene, and Hanson is ordered to drop the case. While only a single scene, I decide that several days will pass before Scene 9 begins. Things remain quiet, and Hanson is kept busy with bullshit work. In fact, she’s kept busier than she ever has before, which makes her all the more suspicious. Which leads to the next scene.

Scene 9

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

The question, of course, is just who is the Actor. I roll on Mythic, but it’s not anyone we’ve met already. Still, they would obviously be related to Adrian in some way, either as a Clan member or one of the few members of his little cult. I decide it’s a 50/50 chance, and with a 62 they end up being a cult member. I decide to turn to not only U.N.E but also the Covetous Poet’s Adventure Guide. Here are the results I get.

From U.N.E.
Hopeless Charmer who is comparable to Hanson and whose motivation is to Maintain Lies, Administer Composure, and Possess Family.

From Covetous Poet

Action: 392 Fail
Thing: 355 Important Family
Plot: 426 Thought you were dead!
Opposition: 99 Femme Fatale
Location: 657 Physicians Office

He is Percy Nowack, a Ventrue neonate and a charismatic fool. He was a terrible disappointment to his mortal family, but managed to charm his sire enough to convince them that he had potential. He didn’t. He hides under what little protection Adrian can provide. I decide that the Femme Fatale is going to be Cora, even though she is FAR from the classic definition. Still, she’s a woman, and she’s lethal as hell. The doctor’s office is where the encounter takes place. Not sure what to do with “thought you were dead!”—I’ll say that everyone assumed that Percy had been run out of town, and his sudden reappearance peaked Hanson’s curiosity, hence why she hunted him down.

I decide that the first challenge for this scene is actually the “key” one, actually tracking Percy down. I decide to “front load” the mechanics for this scene, as it will take part over multiple days. These will be a combination of Social (at a difficulty of 10) and Mental Challenges (difficulty 8), derived from the story's Threat

First, she needs to become aware of who Percy is. How much does she know about him, really? This will be a Social challenge.

Charisma[2]+Etiquette[1] 10,4,9, 1 Success. Not a lot, only that he used to run with Adrian and has supposedly fled the city.

Next, she needs to ask around and see what the word on “the street” is to find out that he’s back in town.

Manipulation[2]+Streetwise[2] 5,10,5,10, 2 Successes. She knows he’s back, and laying low. It’s pretty clear her rep on the Street is better than at Court.

The next challenge will be a proper investigation. There really isn’t a system in place for this, so I decide a simple variation on the tracking rules.

Perception[2]+Investigate[4] 1,9,9,6,4,3 1 Success. It takes her a while, and so she locates Percy. Mechanically, the scene is done, but I would like to play it out a bit.

Hanson wasn’t happy. She had been kept busy the past few nights, which didn’t do much for her happiness, but at least kept her from spending too much time focusing on it. Every night, some new task was dropped in her lap. Escort this important vamp to a meeting, guard the Princes new favorite, do background checks on strangers in town--that sort of thing. Just enough to keep her busy, and out of the way, keep her distracted. But not distracted enough to see that she was being played. And now, tonight, she was finally free from being distracted. For the past two she’d been shadowing some fledgling puke as he hid in alleyways and kept almost, but not quite, bringing himself to feed.

The Elders liked to leave the new fish alone for a few nights, see how they handled things. Were they too cowardly? Too vicious? Could they survive? Did they immediately blabber to their friends and family? They may have been left alone, but they were always watched. Most of the time it was by their sire, but sometimes others stepped in. Now it was Hanson’s turn, and it was just about as boring as you can imagine it. Watching this fledgling skulk in dumpsters gave her time to think, far too much time.

She knew she was on the outs, that she had pissed people off. But that wasn’t what she was thinking about—she was used to having people pissed at her. It was Cora that bothered her. Cora was a bad-ass, and everyone knew it. On top of that, she was a true-blue independent. She obeyed the Traditions, and the Prince, and that was it. No one owned her.

So why the hell was she working for Adrian? She couldn’t have given a damn about his “crusade.” Money? Maybe, but it’s not like someone as old and nasty as her needed to work for a living. He might have had something over her, or more likely called in a lot of favors to get something over her—but why? Why would Adrian need someone like Cora to fuck with Dona. Dona is a neonate, and honestly couldn’t fight her way out of paper bag. Why spend the time and resources hiring someone like Cora?

There was more going on, and it was scratching at her thoughts. No matter how many times she tried to ignore it, to close the damn case and focus on what was new, the damn scratch always brought her back. It had always been this way ever since she was a kid and reading Encyclopedia Browns books and things didn’t add up. She couldn’t just let them be.  And so, despite being told to let things go, Hanson hadn’t. She had asked around about Adrian, both among the vamps and the mortals. He was keeping himself pretty clean and isolated these days, but word was that an old buddy of his, Percy, had been seen back in town. Last time Percy was around, there had been some bullshit attempt at a coup against the Prince, and Percy had fled. No one had ever officially linked Percy to the coup, but when that shit happens bodies tend to drop faster than questions.

In theory he was back, but no one was sure what he was up to. He was definitely laying low, even, apparently, avoiding feeding. Or so everyone thought. Hanson had run the numbers at the hospital and the Red Cross, and one particular blood donation site was delivering less than half of what they used to. Percy was using it to get his fix. Hanson was sure of it.

And this damn fledgling had just let a nice, drunk frat boy walk right past him. Hell, if he was still worried that it might be “gay” to feed off a guy, he was pretty far from frenzying and doing something stupid. She could let him be for a few hours. She turned the engine over and headed to the outskirts of town.

It took her less than half an hour to get there—one of the perks of being nocturnal. Traffic was something others had to worry about. There was a generic row of two story buildings in some off-brand “corporate office park.” Half the office were doctors or dentists or chiropractors.  The rest were accountants and lawyers—everything the mortal world needed to keep functioning. The one she wanted was “CBM Plasma” – a nice, quiet and out of way blood bank. Just what a vamp on the run would want.

She parked her car and cautiously approached the building. It was quiet and cold on the door. She thought briefly of forcing her way in, but decided to err on the side of caution. She moved her car down several rows of offices, till she could just see the doors through a mess of trees and a gap between buildings, then settled down to wait.

One upside to being dead, she thought. Stakeouts are much more pleasant. She never got bored hungry anymore, her muscles never got sore from sitting for hours, and she never had to pee. There were plenty of downsides, of course, but this was a plus.

She didn’t need to wait long. Only an hour or so had passed before a car—looked like a luxury sedan of some sort, but she couldn’t tell from this angle and distance—pulled up right in front of CBM. They must be pretty confident, to be so brazen. And then she saw why they were so confidant. Some weasely little nobody crawled out of the driver’s seat, Percy most likely. But out of the passenger seat, came Cora.

Fucking Cora.

All right, Hanson needs to get Percy alone, and that means getting rid of Cora. She grabs the shotgun from the back seat and creeps up to the building which houses CMB Plasma, and ducks into the shadows by the entrance. Her plan is to wait for them to come out, then hopefully take out Cora quickly, before grabbing Percy for a little “talk.” She’ll go ahead and spent 2 Blood Points to increase her Dexterity to 5 (6 with Celerity).

First, Hanson needs to make a Stealth check to remain hidden when the two come out. As Cora has already been generated (her sheet is here), I’ll use her Perception+Alertness (7) for the difficulty, rather than the standard Threat.

Dexterity[6]+Stealth[2] 10,9,4,6,1,9,1,1,7. A whole mess of 1’s there, but still enough to get 1 Success. It’s enough.

Cora opened the door, and casually scanned the parking lot. Once she was certain the coast was clear, she waved Percy forward. He was still licking the damn plastic bag clean, slurping hungrily at the drips of blood that remained. He was a disgusting, petty creature, and the sooner she was done with him, the better.

She let the door close behind her, knowing the lock would catch automatically. She hadn’t made it more than a few feet before she heard a voice behind her. “Hey Cora! Fancy meeting you here.”

She knew the voice. It was Hanson. What the fuck is she doing here? Cora thought, spinning around to face her. She had made it halfway before she saw the shotgun pointing at her knees. And then the flames spewed forth.

Since Hanson remained hidden, she automatically gets a surprise round on Cora. Determined not to waste it, she spends a blood point and activates her Celerity.  Due to the sudden speed of the ambush, Cora will not be able to attempt to dodge (not that she would…). Due the closeness of the attack, this a point-blank attack and the difficulty is only a 3. The base damage for the shotgun is 6. The first attack is particularly important, and Hanson will spend a Willpower point to get an additional success.

Action 1

Attack: Dexterity [6]+Firearms[3] 3,6,7,8,5,10,4,10,10 + 1 for 10 total successes.
She hit well, but hitting Cora isn’t hard. It’s hurting her that’s tricky. The base difficulty is 3+Stamina[4]+Fortitude [5] for a total of 12. This means Hanson must roll against a difficulty of 10, and the first two successes don’t count.
Damage: Weapon[6]+Successes [10] 10,10,2,10,4,1,2,10,3,7,4,9,10,5,10,6,8 5 total successes for damage. Which means that Cora faces 3 of them. She needs to roll her Stamina and Fortitude against a difficulty of Weapons Damage[6]+3, or 9.
Soak: Stamina[4]+Fortitude[5] 6,4,8,1,7,3,8,3,1 Not only does she fail, but this is a botch, which means one of the wound levels is Aggravated.

Action 2

Attack: Dexterity [6]+Firearms[3] 4,5,9,8,1,10,6,5,3 7 Successes.
Damage: Weapon[6]+Successes[7] 10,10,7,5,7,3,6,8,4,10,4,10,3 4 Successes.
Soak: Stamina[4]+Fortitude[5] 2,4,10,2,2,5,2,6,1 Not a botch, but still a failure. She takes all 4 levels of damage. Combined the first wounds, Cora is reduced to Incapacitated.

You fucking bitch! I’m going to rip out your goddamn lungs.”

Hanson racked another round and leveled the barrel at Cora’s face. “Shut up. If you behave yourself, maybe I won’t dump you into the goddamn sewer.”

Percy was taking panicked breaths, and making as if he wanted to run. Keeping her eyes on Cora, she lifted the shotgun in his general direction. “And you. You I want to have a word with.”

Now is the time for some information, and Hanson is done playing nice, so he’s going to try and scare the information out of him. The standard Social difficulty is 10, but after taking out his body guard so quickly, I reduce Hanson’s difficulty to intimidate Percy by 2, to 8.

Manipulation[3]+Intimidate[2] 6,3,9,8,7 2 Successes. He squeals.

But what does she learn? To determine that, I decide to generate the next scene, which will be an Action Scene.
Sabotage a tool, evidence, or ally of the foe so that it betrays their attempted use of it.
Whatever she learns, Percy points her in the direction of the tool/evidence/ally, and that exposing it would be embarrassing at best for Adrian. I have a few ideas, but I’ll hash them out in the next post. For now, it’s time to update our chart.  As this was an investigation scene, Adrian gets to roll against the current Count and gets a 1, increasing his Victory Points as well.

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
Sabotage a tool, etc., to betray the foes use

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

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