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TC, part 14: Will the real Christof please stand up?

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  • Theodrim
    started a topic TC, part 14: Will the real Christof please stand up?

    TC, part 14: Will the real Christof please stand up?

    Last part is here. Last night's game session was mostly dialogue and combat, so hopefully this will be short.

    Long story short, to date. Plague's on, Tremere and Ventrue are capitalizing like gangbusters on the dual threats of Inquisition and plague to swindle younger and weaker vampires into essentially selling themselves into prestation slavery in exchange for protection and plague curing. Two new challengers appear: Christof, who knows Thaumaturgy and can cure the plague as well, and a really powerful and nasty Inquisitor, who for some reason has a major hard-on for finding Christof. Of course, so do the Tremere (Christof has Very Dangerous Knowledge) and Tzimisce (who are after Christof because the Tremere are); the Prometheans meanwhile want Christof protected because he's one of them, and can fuck over the Tremere with his knowledge of how to cure the plague.

    The PC's are contracted to help protect Christof, and everything goes to hell when half the coterie is captured by the Inquisitor. They escape and take out a different Inquisitor in the process, but the one they really need to watch out for gets samples of their blood which she uses to nail them with the Mind bat. The PC's manage to rally at Bistritz, Radu tells them he wants none of an open conflict with the Inquisition on their domain, but suggests to shit on Nova's doorstep and offers help to do it. The Tzimisce Prince of Schaasburg has different plans, however, and arranges a meeting between herself, Ecaterina, and Christof in a village near Mediasch. Radu sends two of his childer along for immediate aid.

    I was also down two players unexpectedly who I had planned on being there, so I had to improvise somewhat.

    So, the coterie goes to the hamlet, which has already succumbed to the plague the Lasombra PC deliberately spread in Nova's domain on his way to Bistritz in the first place. They meet Ecaterina, who tells them Christof was stricken with a sudden bout of Lawful Stupid and fucked off while she and Delya were still asleep to Mediasch, to surrender himself to Nova so no one dies on his behalf. With the plan to send a fake Christof to Mediasch to draw out the Inquisitor already well fucked, they find themselves with the prospect of a rescue mission and split up.

    Radu's childer fleshcraft themselves, and go with the Toreador PC (who is not a known entity) straight through the front gates on a typical "we're here to introduce ourselves to the Prince" auspice. They get there, and the gates are shuttered and barred, and the guards tell them the city is stricken with the plague and no one is allowed to enter. While the guard outside the gates is occupied arguing with the Toreador PC, one of Radu's childer creates a flesh homunculus (I love DAV20 Vicissitude 5) which climbs the wall, kills the guards inside, and opens the gates; the other guard is quickly dispatched, and the gates opened.

    When they get inside the city, shit's completely fucked. Dead silent, except for the occasional wailing of the dead and grieving, the occasional body in the street, everything you'd expect from the plague. Some signs of fighting here and there, and they run into a "leper" who isn't a leper at all but instead a Tzimisce in disguise (who has marks of diablerie) who warns them the Tremere are alert, out, and about. They stumble upon a tavern filled with exsanguinated bodies, and a Cainite hunkered in the back of the tavern waiting for one of them to stir and rise as he's obviously just Embraced.

    Getting closer to the city's keep, they hear fighting and investigate. They find a knight in Templar regalia fighting several of Nova's city guards, who matches Christof's description. Christof dispatches the guards, they introduce himself, and Christof announces his intent to surrender himself and challenge Nova to single combat, as Nova is a petty tyrant with false aspirations of honor, of a clan of tyrants, aligned with a clan of honorless manipulators, and it is past time she met justice. Elated at the prospect of whacking Nova, they go with him to the keep.

    While this is going on, the remainder of the coterie (the Lasombra, Gangrel, Nosferatu, and Setite) and Ecaterina decide to sneak into the city by scaling the walls. The Setite botches the utter dogshit out of his stealth roll (again) and they're spotted trying to climb the wall. The Lasombra, Nosferatu, and Setite climb the wall and start fighting the individual who spotted them, who is attacking with daggers and torches manipulated via Movement of the Mind, and who is immune to physical attacks thanks to Incorporeal Passage. Meanwhile, the Lasombra notices Ecaterina is giving the stink-eye to a statue on the ramparts that wasn't there five minutes ago, and adds two and two they're about to get a Gargoyle up the ass.

    Unexpectedly, the Gargoyle flies down and lands between the Gangrel and Tremere, and yells for them to stop. As it turns out, the Tremere didn't get a good look at who was trying to sneak into the city and went into Attack Mode; the Gargoyle from its improved vantage point did, and realized they're clan friends of the Tremere. Everyone holds off long enough for cooler heads to prevail, and the Tremere ushers them into a tower and explains to them the city's under attack and that they need to regroup at the chantry and speak to the Regent. He sends the Gargoyle to relay the information, and before the Tremere can say much more he takes an arrow to the back of the head and dies.

    They look and see one of Nova's guards, who smiles and nods to them before walking away. Then they notice the arrowhead stuck in the back of the rapidly-ashing body is made of serrated bone. As if this wasn't strange enough, they hear a voice calling out for anyone in need of help from below...and see a knight in Templar regalia, who Ecaterina recognizes as Christof and yells out to get to cover. They all meet up in the tower, and Christof explains he's not going to let any good Cainites die in his name and intends to surrender himself to Nova. An argument ensues about exactly how stupid this is, but Christof won't budge and eventually Ecaterina just says to let him go if he's that intent on being an idiot.

    Of course, the Nosferatu's mental command to bring Christof to the Inquisition kicks in, and he decides to go with Christof to the keep. This is one step too far for the rest of the coterie, and a brief fight ensues with the Nosferatu ending up staked for his own good. This pisses off Ecaterina, who blinds and deafens the Nosferatu with a bag over his head before telling the rest of them this Christof isn't Christof, but rather a Tzimisce fleshcrafted to look like him. They weren't about to send the real Christof into Mediasch, and were sending a decoy to draw out the Inquisition, but the real Christof was having none of that and left all the same.

    Enter the "why weren't we told about this?" part of the conversation. Which, of course, the four who are there were the four who had been mentally attacked by the Inquisitor, and none of them had any way of knowing who had been compromised and who hadn't, except for the Nosferatu who had actually been bidden by the Inquisitor herself to divulge his own compromised status to the rest of the coterie in an attempt to divide and conquer. The Lasombra had the most objection, to which Ecaterina asked him as a member of a clan with Dominate, is it possible to command a Cainite to do something without them remembering it? Cue the "...oh." response from the rest of the group.

    Had the Nosferatu been able to get away with "Christof", the cover would have remained intact with no one being the wiser, least of all the Inquisitor; in lieu of that, they had to stage an "escape" whereby "Christof" managed to fight the rest of them off, un-stake the Nosferatu, and let them run.

    So, "Christof" and the Nosferatu make for the keep. The Lasombra, Gangrel, Setite, and Ecaterina follow, comfortably out of sight. That is, until they spotted the Gargoyle flying around looking for them, and realized Mass Tzimisce Fuckery wasn't a good look, at least until they get a better grasp of the situation. So they attempted to hide, and once again the Setite fucked his Stealth roll. Having been spotted, the Gargoyle landed and told them they were summoned to the chantry to meet with its Regent to discuss matters of import; the scent of bullshit thick in the air and being on the clock, the coterie decides they don't have time for this shit and, they gank the Gargoyle before going to the keep.

    Two thirds of them sneak into the keep, while the Toreador PC, Radu's two childer, and Christof more or less walk right in through the front door. They are admitted to meet with Nova, who is there with her full guard, three Tremere, and...Christof. Just so we're clear, at this point in one room is the entire coterie, two of Radu's childer who are disguised, Ecaterina, Nova, her guards, and three Christofs none of whom are apparently the real one. This is where things get weird.

    Nova goes on this stereotypically Ventrue overlord monologue about how she's been betrayed once again by this group, who come to her city with obvious Tzimisce infiltrators at their back, while nodding upwards and pointing up behind her back. The coterie notices something is up, and luckily so do the Tzimisce who don't immediately attack the Tremere in the room. Then she proclaims she's judged them all to Final Death by staking and leaving them on the ramparts for the sun, and makes grand theater of having them all escorted upstairs...where they find the Nosferatu's sire and Gangrel's mentor, staked, with all sorts of Inquisitorial torture implements and blessed items laid out. Clearly, the Inquisitor had been there and had something planned, but fucked off in quite the hurry.

    All hell breaks loose. The Tzimisce start attacking Nova, her guards, and the Tremere; the coterie start attacking Nova's guards, one of the Tremere disappears, and the remainder along with Nova and her guards start attacking everyone; the PC's take the Tzimisce's side, and start attacking Nova's guard as well. The Lasombra keeps his head and unstakes the Nosferatu's sire and Gangrel's mentor, and the Gangrel's mentor tells him the Inquisitor is still there, waiting for them all to kill one another before finishing off those still standing. The Lasombra calls this out, but by this time Nova's down, her guard are all dead, and only one Tremere's left begging for his life claiming to be able to counter the Inquisitor's magic. Or at least it looks like Nova's down; the Nosferatu PC notices the body's blood is warm.

    They ask the Tremere where Nova is. He tells them she fled with her court when the Inquisition showed up, and what they killed was a mortal lookalike that had either been conditioned to act like her or possessed by her. This was the final straw for the Tzimisce, who decide that if the Inquisitor were still here and if she was as powerful as the PC's claimed her to be, she would have already attacked. Their job -- slaughtering the city's Tremere -- is done anyhow, save for one simpering coward who isn't worth the risk of waiting for the Inquisition. Moreover, realizing they all had a key trait in common -- being disaffected or disfavored childer who wouldn't be missed had the attack gone awry -- they simply leave the others, and the Tremere, to whatever fate awaits them.

    Then, the Lasombra commits the act that, unbeknownst to them, saves all their unlives. He tells the Tremere he can live, provided he divulges how the Usurpers have managed to elude the Inquisition's grasp thus far. The Tremere makes his roll to overcome the blood bond...and tells them about how the Inquisition uses detailed investigatory methods, tracks via magic and interrogation, and keeps diligent records and correspondences about the Cainites they hunt. The Tremere have sorceries that allow them to manipulate records and correspondence, and therefore have managed to turn the Inquisition's greatest strength against them for the Usurpers' benefit.

    That is, before the poor bastard immolates and dies. Then, the four PC's that had been mentally attacked by the Inquisitor in the previous game session receive a mental message -- their service to the Inquisition will be thanked by allowing them to continue existing...for the moment. They're left to ponder this, while the realization dawns upon them they're likely the only Cainites left standing in the domain Nova Arpad abandoned. Ecaterina suggests to them, seize her domain for themselves; she will send for the real Christof, and put the word out far and wide the city could become a haven for the disaffected, disavowed, and abandoned childer who suffer the Inquisition and plague, and those who chafe under cruel and heartless elders will come to their mutual defense. One unspoken word shines clearly through her suggestion; to those in the know it needn't be said, but to those not in the know it best not be.

    Carthage.

    The coterie accepts her offer.

  • Anarade Relle
    replied
    Makes a lot of sense!

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  • Theodrim
    replied
    Accidental double post, please disregard.

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  • Theodrim
    replied
    Originally posted by Anarade Relle View Post
    What's the story with that Cainite in the Inn?
    I threw that quick scene in there for a couple reasons, there's no deeper meaning or story behind it. One, is that NPC's have lives too and the world doesn't necessarily revolve around the PC's, and two, for a bit of world-building and push the sense the PC's got to Mediasch after the "real" shit went down.

    Remember, at this point Nova has long since been disgraced, her support from the Eastern Lords has mostly waned, and even were the Arpad Ventrue in a healthy strategic position she's a rival to Vencel Rikard. Her station and clan identity is the only reason for other Ventrue to nominally support her, and even then they'd prefer see another Ventrue in her position; her last fallback is her extensive ties to the Tremere. Ergo, she's heavily involved in the Christof-hunt.

    At this point, the Tzimisce involvement in this should be obvious. They don't care about Christof as much as they do punching the Tremere and Ventrue in the nose; Delya (the Prince of Schaasburg) is allied with the Prometheans, but it's an alliance of convenience thanks to mutual enemies. Ergo, when an opportunity arises to attack, the Tzimisce are going to seize it with both hands and run.

    Nova and her Tremere allies are distracted by fending off the Inquisition and hunting down Christof, and the Lasombra PC made his side visit to Mediasch to deliberately spread the plague. It was the perfect opportunity to attack Mediasch and take down Nova, and the Tzimisce took it. What the PC's walked into was the aftermath of that attack, with vampires walking the streets openly, Embracing as they will, and declaring open season on the city's guards and Nova's mortal puppets.

    It was also a nice opportunity to present the myriad of ways the Tzimisce and their allies are changing tact in the face of being on the back foot versus the Tremere-Ventrue alliance, and the Inquisition. The glory nights of elders taking the field with armies of szlachta and vozhd, their childer leading the charge, against equally-emboldened opposition in combat; of koldun performing fantastic feats of sorcery; and other grandiose displays of power to terrify and cow, are dying, and the champions of the old ways fading into the night or meeting Final Death. That the most successful campaign against Nova in centuries came at the hands of low clans (the Gangrel and Nosferatu) did not go unnoticed, and certain visionaries (Radu, Delya, and Dragomir, the other party to the attack) look to incorporate those "underhanded" strategies to secure a brighter future for the Tzimisce.
    Last edited by Theodrim; 05-08-2019, 10:25 AM.

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  • Anarade Relle
    replied
    Alternative title: "The many Nova Arpads..." They escaped the Inquistion, that's good! What's the story with that Cainite in the Inn?

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