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TC, part 12: You went full Hellsing, man. Never go full Hellsing.

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  • TC, part 12: You went full Hellsing, man. Never go full Hellsing.

    Last post was here. All things aside this was a pretty quick and straightforward game session, as most of the decisions that needed to be made had already been made, and all that was necessary was for the dominoes to fall. The skinny of it is it's 1314, and Vykos, whom the party owed big time, called in those debts for them to "escort" Goratrix back home to Ceoris in the wake of his failures over in France. Meanwhile, the group volunteered their services to help Zelios complete his geomantic web to bind Kupala, the Lasombra PC was the one in possession of the Libram Terram and Goratrix found out about this, the Gangrel PC for some reason brought the artifact sword personally wielded by Samiel to destroy [Tzimisce]'s body and Goratrix found out about this too.

    Except Goratrix isn't Goratrix, Goratrix is Tremere...but the only individual who knows about that is Saulot in Tremere's body. Naturally. Also Vykos had been manipulating and betraying the party for nearly a century, care of having a mole in the group drip-feeding him just enough information to outplay the group at every turn while managing to appear helpful. Now that Vykos had consolidated control over most of Wallachia personally or through pawns, it was time to start tying up loose ends which meant the group had to go, and an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone happened to fall in his lap.

    Thus, the game starts with "Goramere" doubling over in a fit of hysterical laughter and ranting about the vagaries and ironies of fate. Because, you know, every last thing he needs to execute a plan to destroy Saulot and consolidate control over his own clan once and for all is literally in arm's reach, but he can't do anything with it because every last iota of his will is going to resist the Antediluvian's summons. After calming down, Goratrix inquires about the geomantic web, the runes, and where they need to be inscribed, and discusses with them how they can avoid Ceoris and Alceditz by simply dropping him off at Alba Iulia; a faster and safer route that terrminates at a Tremere chantry anyway. Before long the sun starts coming up, and the vampires retire for the day.

    During the day the mortals continue riding, because they were being bidden to do so by Goratrix, but the weather takes an even worse turn and a rather nasty blizzard starts. By the time the vampires rise, snow had accumulated deeply enough they were contending with chest-deep drifts and progress had all but stopped. At this point Goratrix drops into what appears to be torpor, but not quite since he occasionally rouses to make the occasional quip and smack the Nosferatu PC on the nose with a thaumaturgical rolled-up newspaper for getting cheeky about weather control.

    Meanwhile, two players couldn't make the game session. That would be the players of one of the two Gangrel PC's (the one with the habit of running away), and the player of the Toreador PC. The Gangrel decided he'd scout ahead and try to find a way through the snow drifts, and the Toreador decided to go with him to ensure he wasn't just chickening out...again. The two players who couldn't make last game session, the (warrior) Setite and (sorcerer) Assamite (formerly the Giovanni), did make it this time, intercepting and joining the PC's during the daytime after a late start.

    So, it's at this point I realize exactly how Potence-heavy the group is. The Lasombra and Nossie speak for themselves, and the Setite's a warrior which means in-clan Potence as well. Both Gangrel, naturally, have Potence out of clan, and so does the Toreador. In fact, the only PC without it is the Assamite sorcerer (but god damn is the DAV20 Assamite sorcerer discipline spread amazing). So, deep-ass snow isn't exactly a problem thanks to the combined efforts of four befanged snow plows. They make good time that evening, but the blizzard doesn't abate.

    On the other hand, after nearly two days' extreme physical exertion without rest or a hot meal, the mortals, ghouls, and horses accompanying the group are beginning to look a little ragged. They have to stop completely during the day, for the non-undead among them to rest and eat. The reality they may end up stranded and having to go Donner party sets in, which means they're Goratrix Chow™. So, when they wake to find their wagon partially buried in snow, the drifts up to seven and eight feet, and all the mortals and horses huddled around a bonfire built in desperation, they're not happy.

    The Gangrel and Setite devote their entire efforts that evening to hunting and bringing game back to the wagon, while the rest of the group digs the wagon out and tries to proceed. They make notably bad time, but the two hunters are able to bring just enough blood back to mitigate blood expenditure for that evening. Towards the end of the night they end up in a "good news, bad news" situation when the Gangrel realizes they're being stalked by a pack of lupines.

    The Gangrel parleys with them; the lupines are just hungry, drawn by the bonfire smoke, and had no interest in starting a fight with vampires in the middle of a life-threatening blizzard. They agree to go their separate ways if the Gangrel brings them the exsanguinated carcasses of the animals he killed; the Gangrel comes back to camp incredibly pleased with himself at managing to parley peacefully with lupines, and informs the other PC's of the development. Goratrix promptly vanishes and causes a brief moment of "dude, where's my methuselah?" before reappearing a few moments later licking blood off his fingers and picking bits of fur out of his teeth.

    Sidebar conversations near a methuselah with Auspex rarely go as planned, but on the other hand the methuselah now has a yummy-tummy and isn't likely to eat them soon. "Soon" being a relative term, because for him to be hungry enough to pull that stunt means he has to be burning through an elder's entire blood pool every evening. But at least they don't have to worry about being double-crossed and attacked by lupines anyway, right?

    On the third evening, Goratrix pops out of his "torpor". He asks to see the runes again, and the Assamite gets an eyeful of them and recognizes them being derived from an older-form Dur-an-Ki. One only still practiced by -- you guessed it, Baali. The group adds two and two together, that bare minimum Zelios had to have been manipulated by the Order of Moloch into binding Kupala, which means yet again the group is the unwitting and unwilling pawns of the Baali. But, this isn't what really pisses the group off...what does, is the Baali just might have a point after all Kupala is too dangerous to be left unbound.

    It's at this point Goratrix reveals what he'd been doing the past two evenings: fighting "Tremere's" summons while considering alternatives deep in his own mind, and he finally came upon one. But, to execute the plan means the expenditure of the last of his will, after which point he will no longer be able to resist the summons at all, and no attempt to stop or slow him would be tolerated. He offers riches, artifacts, and boons beyond the group's wildest imagining, and the group offers to hear him out.

    He draws variant runes to be inscribed on Vintila Basarab's castle and Ceoris, that will grant him the ability to draw upon Kupala's might to destroy his master and seize control of the Tremere clan for himself. He gives one to the Assamite and tasks her to travel ahead to a nearby hamlet, to which he has summoned Malgorzata; the Assamite's job is to deliver the rune to Malgorzata, who will teleport back to Ceoris and inscribe the rune beneath the clan's notice. He gives the other to the Lasombra PC, and tasks them to ride ahead to Basarab's castle and inscribe the rune there. Meanwhile, Goratrix will ride to Alba Iulia with the Gangrel, and provide a distraction.

    The Assamite rides ahead and meets with Malgorzata, who teleports her to Basarab's castle to meet up with the rest of the group. The group heading to Basarab's castle has a much rougher time of it, and the Setite nearly dies along the mountain paths when a lightning strike causes his horse to rear and fall off a cliff. They get to Basarab's castle, discover Dragomir has gone quite mad and eaten Vintila, and request to inscribe the rune to Dragomir's ecstatic agreement...because he wants to see the conspiracy's demise to Kupala's full might.

    Meanwhile, Goratrix...well, Goratrix goes full Hellsing. He and the Gangrel take horses, and he starts blasting snow out of the way with Lure of the Flames, Movement of the Mind, bursts of wind, conjured boulders, and the like. They make the last twenty miles or so of the trip to Alba Iulia in an hour or so despite the weather, and he blasts the gates of the city apart. But, this is the highlight for the Gangrel's player:

    "Goratrix buffs you. For the next hour you're fourth generation, you have Potence, Celerity, and Fortitude 9, consider yourself under the constant effect of Flower of Death and an Auspex 8 power that allows you to preempt attacks against you with your own attacks, and you're under the effect of Perfect Zen which reduces the difficulty of all actions by two and makes you immune to frenzy."

    Distraction, indeed. More like "medieval Grand Theft Auto/Devil May Cry murder frenzy through the diocese of Transylvania and a Society of Leopold stronghold". At this point Goratrix -- or more appropriately, Tremere -- believes himself at the cusp of godhood and on the verge of eliminating that little "Saulot" problem once and for all, so who really gives a fuck about subtlety? Goratrix and the Gangrel indiscriminately murder their way through the city and breach the chantry...to be confronted by the entire Council of Seven and "Tremere", himself. Goratrix banters a bit with the Council, gloats a whole lot, and delivers a Big Bad Guy Speech about how he'll reveal the truth and the Council will all go to their Final Deaths with the knowledge of how deeply they've been betrayed and manipulated. As if this all wasn't melodramatic enough, Goratrix Thanos snaps...

    ...and nothing happens.

    The group that went to Basarab's castle, nearly dying in the process to lightning strikes, wind, and razor-sharp hail, inscribed the original rune.

    Goratrix immediately goes into full meltdown/mental breakdown mode, screaming at the Council and the Gangrel PC about how all he wanted to do is save his House from damnation, how he was betrayed at every turn, and how everyone who has screwed him over will pay for what they've done. Meanwhile, Mutant-Man-Baby-Antediluvian is laughing its ass off and allowing Goratrix to impotently rant. However, that smile gets wiped off its face real fuckin' fast when Goratrix grabs Samiel's blade from the Gangrel's scabbard, doesn't immediately catch on fire, and charges Tremere screaming about how this thing isn't actually Tremere. Mutant-Man-Baby-Antediluvian wiggles its finger and Goratrix immediately drops into torpor.

    "Tremere", all of the Council save Etrius, and Goratrix vanish. Etrius sends a Tremere to summon the rest of the group to Alba Iulia via Thaumaturgy, and Etrius declares the Tremere's vendetta against then over, and offers each of them a clan boon to be repaid at the PC's leisure. Etrius apologizes on behalf of his clan for the PC's being wrapped up in clan drama, and laments Goratrix's madness which led to his downfall. He offers them hospitality and sanctuary inside Alba Iulia until the aftermath of Goratrix Murder Party subsides, after which they'll be safely smuggled out of the city.

    Also the Lasombra notices Etrius doesn't match the description given to him, of the vampire claiming to be Etrius who violated Hospitality and Domain to whack the Salubri elder in Brasov way back in 1241. He thinks better of asking Etrius about this, but keeps the info in his back pocket for now. After the conspiracy's six-star wanted rating times out, they get smuggled out of the city and return to Bistritz. Radu welcomes them back, exchanges information, and offers the Assamite PC the location of Ceoris in exchange for a boon owed to him which she can trade to her own clan for cash and prizes.

    As a last gesture of goodwill and repayment for aiding in the "demise" of the Tzimisce's most-hated enemy, Radu arranges a meeting with Constancia for the group. Constancia reveals Vykos, thanks to the information leaked to him by the Giovanni PC, has ultimately been behind every last PC woe in the past century:

    1. He manipulated them into capitulating and allying to Rustovich, betraying their Ventrue sponsors and particularly Nova Arpad, while manipulating Nova and her anger towards the conspiracy into throwing them under the bus for concessions in Wallachia.
    2. He killed the Salubri elder in 1241, masquerading as Etrius with a combination of Vicissitude and Obfuscate, implicating the Tremere and initiating hostilities between the PC's and the clan.
    3. He leaked Operation Fuck Bulscu to Nova Arpad, and told her the Lasombra PC was the one that had the Libram Terram.
    4. And throughout all this, Vykos has allied himself with the Giovanni, Ambrogino in particular, and is exploiting that alliance to move himself further to his ultimate goals (of which Constancia doesn't share with the PC's...yet).

    Basically, fuck Vykos. The PC's agree allying with Constancia is in their best interests for now, and that's where the story ends.

    Next story, 1348.

  • #2
    Poor Tremere : (

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Anarade Relle View Post
      Poor Tremere : (
      Never thought I'd say this, but I agree. I mean, it'd probably be bad if he achieved virtual godhood, but it's kind of an ignoble end to his schemes, if not his unlife.


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      • #4
        I wouldn't feel too bad for Tremere. He wiped out half the city without a second thought, including its guard and most of its Inquisitors in the city, just because he could. I made it beyond clear from the way I portrayed him, he regarded the PC's as a necessary tool for now to be disposed the moment they ceased to be useful, and in fact he made open attempts at the unlives of those he judged he wouldn't need to execute his scheme. Half the players at the table -- the metaplot-savvy ones -- suspected (OOC) what was going on, and it was obvious to them by the time he confronted the Council.

        Binding Kupala to Tremere would be a Really, Really, Really Bad Idea. And, for a moment, the group had a massive "oh...FUCK." moment when Tremere buffed the Gangrel to badass methuselah level, then started busting out "is that even possible?" levels of blood sorcery during the murder rampage. They legitimately thought the Lasombra PC had inscribed the altered rune by accident or manipulation, or he'd done it under the table and only told everyone else he was inscribing the original one. Nope, just an Ante in a methuselah's body swinging his dick around.

        Once a Hermetic, always a Hermetic, especially if you're the "no items Fox only Final Destination" Founder. So fuck 'em. Goratrix, on the other hand...now there's a right piece of tragedy.

        The funny thing is, the Lasombra's player was also in my TC group when I ran through as a player, so he knows what happens later and is not particularly optimistic at his character's prospects knowing out of character he's directly and personally screwed over an Antediluvian. Funnier thing is, fifteen years after the fact and until game night he never knew I pulled the same stunt (altering the rune) way back when. Still, he's not remotely as screwed as the two Gangrels, who came into direct contact with [Tzimisce]'s vitae to commune with it a few stories ago, and unwittingly made a devil's bargain in the process.

        The biggest implication of the entire story, though, has to do with Samiel's blade. One of the two Gangrels is in possession of it, but during the downtime they did a little experimentation with the sword, handing it to the Nosferatu PC. The Nos is on the Road of Humanity, and they discovered it grants the ability to use Warrior Valeren to wielders on the Roads of Humanity or Heaven. It also compels the wielder to slay enemies of the Salubri -- namely, Baali, Setites, Tzimisce, and Tremere. In fact, being a vampire of those clans and merely touching it incurs a metric fuckload of Faith damage; something the Setite suffered firsthand during the game session they got the stupid thing.

        So how was Tremere able to wield the blade against its own creator -- Saulot, himself? For now, the players are free to speculate, but I'm keeping a pin in that for a few hundred years.

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        • #5
          As a post-script...

          Those who have played TC before will recognize I omitted a bit from this story...namely, the inadvertent discovery and recovery of a certain artifact relevant to the Gehenna prophecy. The "inadvertent" part being why I omitted it.

          Part of what I set out to do from the beginning with this play-through of TC, is address several issues those at my table, and across the Internet based on my own research, have with the chronicle as presented. That being, TC is more of a whistle-stop tour through major historical events in the VtM timeline, that takes a "look but don't touch" perspective on character agency, and sacrifices room to breathe and adapt to the massive shifts in society for expediency. The latter is understandable; TC is already a massive chronicle, and it's always in ST's and players' hands to add stories here and there to provide the experience for which they really look. But, the presentation has an unintended consequence in delivering exposition and MacGuffins in a very scatter-shot manner, that's more confusing and confounding to the chronicle's core themes than any other potential reaction.

          Thus, I'm handling one thing at a time, trying to give matters of import proper place and attention in the chronicle as it develops, and tying everything together as I go. The "Ark" will come up next story, when the PC's deal with the Black Death and the point divisions between clan, age, and generation become irreconcilable in the face of the Inquisition. Meaning, the Anarch Revolt.

          The short version of events is this. The Lasombra and Toreador taught faithful mortals how to hunt and kill vampires during the Albigensian and Waldensian Crusades, and Shadow Reconquista, and with a breathy "what could possibly go wrong?" pointed them at their enemies. The mortals decided that was a shitty deal and decided to just kill everyone and let God sort 'em out; that was the birth of the Inquisition. Meanwhile, surviving Cainite Heretics and refugees made uncomfortable, but workable, side deals and alliances with the Prometheans.

          When the problem spread beyond Italy, Spain, and France, the Tremere and Ventrue managed to stick a band-aid on it by weaponizing Thaumaturgy against the Inquisition's greatest new power, this newfangled "bureaucracy" thing, and controlling the flow of money in and around the Church. Meanwhile, playing prestation out the ass to keep the heat off connected and valuable vampires. The minor kerfluffle with the Knights Templar being the end of that arrangement (thanks Goratrix!), the Inquisition is now free to cowboy their way across the rest of Europe.

          So, enter the Black Death. The mass kine die-off triggers a Cainite food crisis, leading to a lot of neonates and ancillae being ejected from their domains. Many of those are plague-bearers, causing the plague and refugee crisis to snowball; making matter even worse, many of those refugee neonates and ancillae fall to Wassail or degenerate to inhumane or bestial Roads. Ultimately most elders close their cities, and in the middle of it all the Inquisition has a mother fucking field day.

          That is, except for...the Ventrue and Tremere. The Ventrue are Really, Really Good at Prestation and Maintaining the Silence of the Blood, and the Tremere can cure the plague in vampires. So, they're more than happy to accept newcomers...as long as the newcomers are useful and willing to sell themselves into slavery, that is. All the better if they can be made easy targets for murder-happy Inquisitors, or shipped off to the Balkans to be some pissed-off Assamite's dinner.

          Needless to say, practically everyone not an elder is going to have a problem with this, least of all the Prometheans.

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