Thursday, January 28, 2010

Slaughter City: Spilled Blood, Chapter 1

I should note that I tried to record the session, but ended up catching less than half of it, so alas, I cannot podcast this like I might have liked. Instead, I'll do my best to simply describe it. Also please forgive me for not listing the full descriptions I gave for each scene. I can't imagine anyone wants to read 6 hours of description

While I've advertised this game as a "Sandbox" game, you'll note this game is fairly straightforward.  I'm trying to give the players "something to do," introducing them to the setting and characters.  Hopefully, the next session will involve less listening and more playing.





Introduction

To put myself in a proper, storyteller frame of mind, I generally orient my imagination on a point within my fantasy space, most often the sun (sometimes the feel of the wind). But, of course, because this is a Vampire game, I describe instead the darkness and the denial of the sun, sweeping my words through the night-clad city of Metzgerburg, and finally settling on the waking dreams of a vampire.

Stray awakens to discover her head lies in the lap of the Outsider, her sire, who gently strokes her hair from her face and calls her one of the strange, Algonqian nicknames he has for her, and then seems to snap from his reverie, and asks her "Where is your brother?" To which she casually replies that "He's probably at work." And off they go to find him.

At my request, Phillip rolls for initiative and loses to his opponent. He finds himself in the middle of a qualifying cage match in an undeground fighting club as he returns to his former professional as boxer, and after taking a solid blow from his opponent, he retaliates with an attack that essentially floors his opponent in one shot. The fight actually lasts a couple more turns, but this basically consists of Phillip beating the guy until he finally fails his stamina check and falls into merciful unconsciousness. Phillip licks the blood from his knuckles.


(Actual interaction: Myself: "He's already into lethal damage. Any further damage you do will break ribs and crack bones." Phillip's Player: (All excited): "Ok!". Bloodthirsty bastard. This earns him a point of Willpower for his Vice of Wrath)

In the shadows outside the ring, only a few people observe, including a panicked referee who rushes in to keep Phillip from permanently disfiguring his opponent, and Danny Devlin, the leader of the criminal underworld. Danny recognizes him as the man who wouldn't throw a fight no matter how much "leverage" Danny applied, and expresses some surprise that Phillip is still alive. After a bit of banter, Phillip's sire, the Watcher, approaches under the cover of the Familiar Stranger, and draws him away, informing him that they must meet with the Prince of the city.

I begin Matthew's scene by describing what he's wearing for him. His sire, Daisy Bel Canto, dresses him in an old fashioned suit with waistcoat and anscot tie, and often touches him possessively, nails to skin and scalp, even going so far as to rearrange his hair to her liking. She finishes dolling her childe up by giving him a well-worn swordcane ("At least one hundred years old, well-used, has seen blood. You can almost smell the blood, in fact"). She then explains the three traditions to him, giving him a pocket mirror as a symbol for the Tradition of Masquerade, a silver ring as a symbol for the Tradition of Progeny, and a rose for the Tradition of Amaranth. Then off they go to meet the Prince.

Jie Kuei travels to Silk and Satin to meet the head of Chinatown's Triad, Qingren "Master Tiger" Xiao, who is accompanied by a sultry and dangerous companion and a sullen, attractive young man. First, Qingren tries to bribe Jie Kuei into serving him as a personal investigator, which Jie Kuei declines. Then Qingren suggests that they declare a ceasefire, that the Triad will get in his way, if Jie Kuei avoids messing in the affairs of the Triad. When Jie Kuei further demures, Qingren grows angry and subtly suggests violence, when Jie Kuei's sire, Nathaniel Lynch aka "Spider," interrupts (also hidden under the mask of the Familiar Stranger) and informs Jie Kuei that "the Prince will see you now." Jie Kuei bids Qingren a good day, resulting in the master of the Triad smashing a tumbler against the wall after Jie Kuei has departed.

Officer Alister McDermott, after a week of "being sick," returns to the police department to join the night shift. He immediately bumps into the police chief, John Beckham ("Alister, you look awful, are you sure you don't want to take another week off?"), who informs him that they're considering him for a promotion to detective, and as a result, he's been assigned a new partner, and he adds that an "someone from Forensics was looking for you, something about an EMT guy who wanted to get in touch with you"

(That would be his hospital contact for access to bags of human blood, and so he says "I run down there, trying not to look like I'm hurrying.")

He can only find one person downstairs, a willowy, shy goth girl/lab technician by the name of Granya, who immediately takes a shine to him. She smells really good to him, more than one might expect from a normal human. She tells him "I have some blood an EMT guy said I was supposed to give you, something about a medical condition. I can get it for you if you'd like."

(As she turns to go, I inform Alister's player that I will give him two blood XP if he feeds off of her. He replies "Ohhhh you bastard." My wife kibitz's with "Don't do it! It's too good to be true!" Matthew's player starts chanting "Drink! Drink Drink!" Alister decides to let a Willpower roll decide it for him, and refrains from nibbling)

So she gives him the blood and he runs off to the bathroom to gobble up all the blood he can for a grand total of one vitae. Woo. ("Shoulda drained her dry, dude," says Phillip's player. His humanity's not gonna last >.>)

As he comes back upstairs to continue his duties, he senses the presence of his Sire and brood sister, who are currently discomfiting John Beckham. The Outsider informs him that they are looking for Alister and adds "I have a note!" presenting an official document that excuses Alister from work that day, and off they go to meet the Prince




Gathering



The player's travel to the cathedral in the Campbell Ridge part of Metzgerburg, where the Kindred of the city have secured some privacy for their meeting and rituals. Matthew (with a unique weakness for things like Holy Ground) passes his Rotschreck, and then everyone makes a brief Predator's Taint check, mainly to illustrate the nature of Predator's Taint when meeting new Vampires. Everyone passes except Jie Kieu, who panics momentarily when he sees the mass of shadowed, hungry, unliving vampires who watch their entrance hungrily.

The Prince of the City, a Daeva named Palmer Jackson, and the Bishop, Avalyne arrive. The Prince asks for the characters to recite the three traditions, and they do so. Then the Prince informs them that their very existence violates the second Tradition, and orders their execution. After suitably dramatic reactions and an upbraiding of the various sires, Lily Fontaine, Daeva Oracle, interrupts and demands that the execution be halted, offering a prophecy that declares the importance of the player characters:

“Five together as one, lest the city fall.
Beast, Angel, Prince, Demon, Shadow, answer the call
Blood spil't between kindred and kind
Sins of the Past burn ties that bind
Consume the void within, or it shall consume us all”


Palmer Jackson agrees, and Avalyne offers a "compromise," revealing that an extraordinary number of mortals have gone missing, and that this draws undue attention to the activities of the Kindred. He suggests that if, perhaps, the players can solve this problem, the Kindred of Metzgerburg would accept them as one of their own. Palmer adds that all Kindred in the city must pay him tribute, and thus must bring him a blood doll before the month is out (He prefers intelligent, pretty young men).

With the melodrama over, the vampires swarm the character, introducing themselves, trying to get a feel for what the players are like. The Invictus express immediate interest in Matthew, competing to gain his attention; The Lancea Sanctum suggest that Alister might do well to join them; and Lily Fontaine reveals that she has strong feelings for the Outsider (who does not remember her), and expresses unsubtle jealousy at Stray.

I allowed the players to investigate one vampire that interested them. Jie Kuei investigates a Mekhet named Jasper Schuyler, a slim vampire with white hair, a high-collared coat and blue tea-glasses. Jasper lives with his three ghouls in Chinatown, which he rules (in theory. In practice, Chinatown belongs to Lily), and while he's a member of the Invictus, he spends little time with them and some suspect he has a secret agenda.

Matthew wanted to know more about Havard Tyrson, a tall Ventrue with Nordic appearance, broad shoulders, a nice suit and white gloves. He's the childe of Sebastian Caine, a vampire who is no longer with us, and the Sire of Marion Ethanson (In the words of one of the players a "Sexy librarian!" businesswoman) with whom he seems to have no relationship. Havard rules over the local university, where it is rumored he has romantic relationships with the students, but this is likely an urban legend that sprang up around his feeding habits. He's very intellectual.

Phillip investigates the Inquisitor, a Nosferatu who wears mask of bone and leather strapped over his body, but fails to get any successes.

Alister investigated the Bishop, Avalyne, a beautiful boy reminiscent of an altar boy wearing black robes and cowl, and a blood-red rosary. Avalyne is old, though not as old as Alister's own sire, sometimes called "the Blood Saint" and a worker of "dark miracles," the most powerful of which turns day into night.

Stray investigates Lily, the gorgeous, snow-haired Daeva who moves so lightly on her feet she seems to almost float. She came to the city with the Outsider and his sire (though he doesn't remember this), she lives in Chinatown, and she's a practitioner of blood magic.

Finally, after everything has finished, the Sires advise the players as how best they might solve their problem. Daisy tries to insinuate herself into the project until Spider reminds her that it isn't her place to assist them. The Watcher recommends that they investigate the projects ("the Shambles,") Daisy suggests the nightclub district ("Silverside"), and Spider likes taking advantage of Alister's police connections. The Outsider offers no advice, and merely leaves, allowing them to sink or swim on their own.

The players decide to take advantage of all three suggests, sending Alister to the police station, Jie Kuei and Matthew go to Silverside (Matthew's player is pretty intent on nomming a chick), and Stray and Phillip head off to the Shambles.





"Investigating"


Alister stops off at a local (late night?) butcher to get a bottle of pig's blood to try to sate his seemingly endless hunger (Too many of his powers cost him Vitae), and in his rush to feed, he manages to spill some on himself. Uncertain, now, if he should return to the police station ("I, uh, cut myself shaving..."), he uses the computer in his car to do some investigating and learns that most of the victims are seemingly random (mostly at night), or attractive young women (at all times of the day). Finally, lacking further resources, he buckles down and makes his way back to the station.

There, he finds Granya is getting ready to go home for the day, that she lacks a car, and that the buses don't run this late. He also, finally, meets his partner, a tough Chinese woman named Serenity Liu. Torn between his concern for Granya's safety, his need to use police resources to investigate the vampire problem and Serenity's ferocious gaze, he finally decides to ditch work (great first impression with his partner) and offer Granya a ride home.

During the trip to her home in the wealthy Campbell Ridge district, near the cemetary ("You have to promise not to tell anyone where I live," whispers an embarrassed Granya), she opens up to him about her job and interests, but he remains silent, struggling to control his hunger as her intoxicating scent permeates the car. Finally, when they get to her house, the temptation for more vitae and the offer of Blood Experience grows too much for Alister's player and he "chooses not to resist frenzy."

What follows is a dark scene involving fangs, hunger, a trembling woman, and a broken door. He finally manages to control his beast after he'd taken three blood points from her. The scene grows awkward and Alister tries, very unsuccessfully, to "comfort" (His words) the traumatized woman, who is torn between the ecstasy of the kiss and OMG you're a vampire. Finally, she chases him from the house, and he leaves with slumped shoulders and guilty conscious.

He passed his Humanity roll.

In Liquid Blue, a club in Silverside, Matthew quickly makes himself the center of attention among the local clubbers with judicious use of Awe, and takes advantage of Revelation to gather some information (though he seems more interested in dazzling the pretty asian drug-user/raver, Jayde Liu, then figuring anything out about the actual mystery), and Jie Kuei slips into Obfuscation to keep watch over him, see if he catches anything that Matthew misses. A pair of women enter, a stripper from a local club and her friend, a doe-eyed, empty-headed bumpkin girl, Peggy, who is instantly enchanted with Matthew, but any possibility of romance ends when her younger brother slips past the bouncer and tells her that "Mother is looking for her."

In the Shambles, Phillip and Stray meet a mechanic and his assistant, Charley Clark and Emma Bayman, and talk to them about any unusual events that might have occurred. Emma complains about this "creepy guy with a big belly and a bad smell" that keeps stalking her. A friend, Tommy, brings his truck by and joins them for the discussion, but gets uncomfortable, even defensive, after some of the questions, and then tries to leave.





Channeling Raymond Chandler


Suddenly, Phillip and Stray spot a group of rough men approaching the shop with a pair of dogs, and their leader, skinny and half-naked, triggers Predator's Taint. Stray flips out and "climbs the big one like a cat climbs a tree." She proceeds to drag him to the ground and devour him. Phillip goes toe to toe to this mysterious, enemy vampire while the other men try to run off with Emma, and after taking four aggravated damage, wrestles the vampire down and diablerizes him (and loses 2 humanity as a result of the battle. Wow). Stray manages to comport herself enough to lock gazes with the dogs and command them to fight the rest of the men and runs off with Emma, to keep her safe.

Nobody sees Tommy leave. Stray expresses her distrust of him.

Back in Liquid Blue, a man with a shotgun, another vampire (one that is described as "Lower in blood potency" than the players, despite the fact that they are Blood Potency 1), and a couple more rough men, take down the bouncer and start to cause chaos in the club as a couple of men make a bee-line for Jayde. Jie Kuei "reveals" he'd had an obfuscated shotgun the whole time, pulls it out of thin air, and takes down the man with a shotgun, and then goes toe to toe with the vampire, inflicting enough damage with repeated shots to take the vampire's leg off, and then ash him. Matthew draws his sword cane and launches himself in Jayde's defense, and in a spectacular roll, one-shots one of the thugs in a dazzling display of swordsmanship.

Jayde rests on her knees between the slain men, covered in their blood and so high on ecstasy and adrenaline that she practically launches herself at her Majesty-wrapped savior and they hurry off for some, er, porn. And feeding. He manages to feed her some of his own blood and steal about 3 vitae from her, and she's so drug addled that she doesn't really remember most of it, just how happy it all made her, and how good it felt.

And there we ended the game.
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