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[WIR] The Gary Chronicles (Forged in Steel, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust. etc)

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  • [WIR] The Gary Chronicles (Forged in Steel, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust. etc)



    Hey folks,

    We've just finished our enormous Chicago by Night 5E review and it was one of my most well-appreciated works. We analyzed the characters, changes, and additions to the classic setting of Vampire: The Masquerade 1st Edition updated to the 21st century. It was a six month long project and similar to some RPG.net threads I did on the original Chicago by Night and Los Angeles by Night (before I was banned because I talked about what was in the "What's next on Game of Thrones" thread).

    It turns out I'm not completely done with writing reviews of the classic creations of 1st Edition Vampire: The Masquerade. This is going to be about one of the best locations in the history of the game and all-too-often-overlooked region. Yes, I of course speak of Gary, Indiana. We're going to analyze the Forged in Steel Chronicle, Baptism by Fire, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, and Rusted Veins. Hopefully, we're also going to maybe analyze the Gary section of Let the Streets Run Red too but Is suspect I'll be doing a WIR of those as well.

    Gary has a special place in the heart of Vampire: The Masquerade because it was the first campaign setting for the world, being included as a "how do you do X" in the back of the original green book Vampire: The Masquerade as well as the 2nd Edition volume. It also served as our first introduction to Chicago. Even more so, it was the inspiration for Mark Rein Hagen to create Vampire: The Masquerade as a concept since he came up with the idea while driving through Gary, Indiana while on the way to Milwaukee.

    In any case, I hope everyone will participate in this thread as it's not just going to be me going over the various characters and ideas but also making my interpretations and suggestions to it. We all know Modius, Juggler, Sullivan Dane, and others after all.

    Articles

    Forged in Steel

    Concepts
    Premise
    Setting
    Character Contacts
    Antagonists and Mood
    Modius (NPC)
    Allicia (NPC)
    Juggler (NPC)
    Michael (NPC)
    Evelyn Stephens (NPC)
    Blood at Dawn (adventure)
    Danov (NPC)
    Lucian (NPC)
    Sullivan Dane (NPC)
    Agent Shepard (NPC)
    Is Modius as helpless as he appears? (analysis)
    Gregory Stephens (NPCs)
    Baptism by Fire part 1 (adventure)
    Baptism by Fire part 2 (adventure)
    Baptism by Fire part 3 (adventure)
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-17-2019, 02:58 AM.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

  • #2
    Forged in Steel

    Forged in Steel is the introductory "sample chronicle" of Vampire: The Masquerade that basically gives you an idea how to build your own city, population of vampires, and some brief adventure hooks. It also tells you how to establish your mood and ambiance that are the key things that seperate D&D from V:TM.

    Interestingly, this chronicle is separate from the Baptized in Fire adventure that is at the end of the book. This was written by Mark Rein Hagen for his players but it's interesting to note that BiF has a fairly infamous aspect: It's an adventure without an ending. Seriously, it ends with no denoument but a sequel hook for an adventure module that doesn't exist yet.

    Forged in Steel is a surprisingly well-written work because it packs in a staggering amount of setting detail into a very small amount of space. It tackles the big issues of the fact that Gary is really too small for vampire intrigue and is really a "starter zone" for Kindred to cut their fangs before they move onto Chicago (which is completely undetailed so far). It also gives a short history of the setting as well as some ways of playing interactions with the characters.

    I think Forged in Steel should be a free sample PDF from Modiphus and/or Onyx Path because it is a perfect example of how to play things. Like the Keep on the Borderlands or Ravenloft, it's something that is as fresh today as it was 27 years ago.

    Concepts

    The opener of the campaign is Mark Rein Hagin showing a method that he used in V:TM and werewolf to basically give a Storyteller a checklist of things he wanted to incorporate into his chronicle. They're just random images and ideas that are designed to give you a sense of what a place is like. I do this myself with my campaigns and I've transcribed the complete list from the book.

    * Old tattered billboards
    * Run-down
    * Beyond hope, beyond despair
    * Rust-Rust Belt
    * Steel mills, factories
    * Pollution
    * Chain-link fences
    * Poverty stricken, deteriorating streets
    * Abandoned houses
    * Lake Michigan
    * Run-down harbor
    * Container ships
    * Gothic cathedral among the slums
    * Squalor and lethargy
    * Empty warehouses
    * Pool halls
    * Abandoned urban renewal projects
    * Burnt-out street lights
    * Greed
    * Drugs
    * Gangs
    * Graffiti
    * Projects
    * Abandoned stores
    * Unemployment
    * Opulence and decadence
    * Zombie people
    * Aging, decaying mansions
    * Filth choked rivers

    In simple terms, Mark Rein Hagen is describing Gary as a shithole. Given the real-life version is one of the few cities in history to have actually died in the modern era this isn't exactly inaccurate but it's less an issue of a dying city in 1992 versus the "city that is now a highway going to Chicago" that it is today. What the concepts here do are more important than their actual substance, though.

    They're the groundwork for the World of Darkness as a whole. The description of Gary above is pretty much how the entirety of the world is going to be from now.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

    Comment


    • #3
      Premise

      Mark Rein Hagen explains that while he had the mood, he also needed to figure out how he would make Gary an interesting place. One of the big things about starting in Chicago was the fact that he didn't have all of the NPCs necessary to populate it and V:TM was a very different sort of game than Dungeons and Dragons. It was meant to be a smaller, more intimate affair where everyone knows everyone.

      One of the things that makes V:TM click, especially 1st Edition is that you know more or less every vampire in the city. It's more like high school rather than an endless series of orcs and monsters or Necrons or whatever. Like in Superman, you can build a Rogues Gallery of vampires you despise but don't necessarilly kill because there's actual consequences for doing so outside of kindred law.

      So, the idea is to create a small group of vampires that inhabit Gary but still are enough that you can generate a reasonable number of plot hooks until things are established enough to move onto the big leagues (and purchase Chicago by Night). If you can guess, I have a somewhat cynical view toward marketing but I'm not saying it's not good business sense.

      So what does the Premise say about Gary?

      * Gary is in worse shape than our world

      This is a different thing from Gary in the real world because Gary, Indiana has effectively ceased to exist and is now a highway to Chicago plus all of the fast food joints, strip clubs, gambling parlors, and gas stations leading to Chicago. It's actually not a bad domain for Kindred because if people have to stop to eat then you can stop and eat them. In other words, the From Dusk Til Dawn method of Kindred domain. However, back in 1992, it was a city on the verge of death versus a city that had died. Here, the implications are that it's like something from an Post-Industrial
      Mad Max.

      * Gary is ruled by a prince who is less than a Prince

      Modius is one of my all-time favorite Storytelling System characters and he is a fascinating idea because he's created as a "Starter Prince" for player characters to deal with. Basically he has the title of Prince but not much else. Lodin has destroyed his power base completely and left the American steel industry in shambles. Modius is STILL an Elder, though, and that's important to remember. He's a pathetic manchild and psychopathic "House of Usher" lunatic but he's all the more dangerous for that. In other words, a person the PCs can conceivably beat if they want to.

      * Lodin won over Modius when he won a Conclave over him

      Modius has a nice little bit which demonstrates what an enormous screw-up. Modius pulled every string (and by strings, I mean Annabelle) to get a Conclave held at Gary, Indiana in 1970. You know, before the city had collapsed. Unfortunately, Lodin managed to sabotage it (or Modius just made it fail on his own) so the Conclave collapsed in one day and reconveined in Chicago after 24 hours. It also resulted in Lodin having the power to force Modius to "consult" with him on all major decisions.

      * The Prince of Chicago has banned all new Neonates in Chicago

      So what was the reason anyone would come to Gary? I mean, if it's a crappy dystppian urban hellscape (in-universe) then why would any vampire stay there? Well, it turns out that Lodin has banned new Neonates in Chicago in order to cut off support to the Anarchs as well as consolidate his power. However, that just means the Elders went to Modius and turned Gary into a training ground for them.

      * Chicago is known for its vehement intrigues

      Well, duh.


      Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

      Comment


      • #4
        Glad to see your insights into the Gary setting. It has always been one of my favorite kicking off points in my campaigns. Can hardly wait to see its update in LtSRR.

        Comment


        • #5
          Setting

          This is a fairly straight forward example of chronicle design. We've already got the Concepts that tell us what we want our setting to feel like. Gary is going to be as close to a post-apocalyptic urban setting as you can get without actually being post-apocalypse.

          We've also got the premise where the game is set around the idea of Gary as a "Starter Zone" ala Santa Monica or the beginning of Stormwind in World of Warcaft. The player characters aren't meant to stay in Gary forever but it is potentially a place they could take over themselves if they become annoyingly attached to it. Many of my players have, over the years, decided they wanted to be Baron or Prince of Gary.

          "It may not look like much but it's ours."
          "You mean mine."

          -Typical conversation five minutes after killing Modius.

          Now, the thing Mark Rein Hagen chooses to instruct us in is "making places for player characters to go," This seems like an obvious thing to do but it's actually part of what separated Vampire: The Masquerade from Dungeons and Dragons as the focus not only isn't on combat but the social elements BUT ALSO that you're not a nomadic character. In D&D, the vast majority of adventuring parties are nomadic. They moved from dungeons to dungeon, town to town, threat to threat. They were the Man with No Name crossed with the Fellowship of the Ring and every new adventure began somewhere new. In V:TM, at least initially, you were restricted to a single location -- usually a city. Vampires were territorial creatures and creatures of habit. You could spend centuries in one spot and that was perfectly normal.

          * LUPINES ARE OUTSIDE CITIES
          * PLANES ARE DANGEROUS FLYING MACHINES
          * WHAT IF THE BOAT SINKS

          In any case, the Setting lists a number of points of interest.

          * The Wasteland: The charmingly named collection of burnt out, abandoned, and empty factories as well as warehouses. It is here that Mark Rein Hagen goes a little bit overboard as he mentions barrels of toxic waste are just lying around the place. At this point, I fully expect the Ninja Turtles to jump out at any moment. This is prime hunting ground for the players and they can pick their own haven that no one will give a crap about if they turn it into a supervillain lair. I'm a bit uncomfortable with the idea of labeling any real life location like this but A Nightmare on Elm Street filmed its factory locations in Gary, Indiana's factories so that may just be truer to the text. This reminds me a bit of Mike Pondsmiths' "Combat Zone" in Night City but that may just be Gary itself.

          * The Dockyards: We're starting to resemble Gotham City here and I'm fairly sure that's deliberate. Batman with Michael Keatpn has already happened by now and so has Frank Miller's Daredevil. Basically, the docks are a place you're going to go if you have anything interesting happening to beat up crooks for information or intercept whatever crooked cargo is entering the city like an Antediluvian or 1st Edition Book of Nod. Gary Exports Co is a separate entry but basically is the one solvent business in the city that is run by the vampire Lucian.

          * The Auction: This is a surprising bit that is more an adventure hook than setting element. There's an actual slavery ring here in Gary that is operated by a ghoul named Williams. Williams kidnaps men, women, and children and holds weekly slave auctions every Saturday at an abandoned church (for added irony). Many Kindred in Chicago come here to buy the former street people (and also flat out citizens of Gary kidnapped from their homes) for their meals. My assumption is quite a few of these Kindred don't outright KILL their purchases but brainwash them to add to their herd--which isn't any better.

          This is a VERY easy adventure hook and one that nicely does "showing" rather than "telling" for how bad the World of Darkness is. There's also a bit unsaid here that the vast majority of Gary citizens are black ("White Flight" was invented as a term to describe the sudden removal of so many of Gary's richer families) so if you wanted to play this as a racially-charged storyline you can as well. The police clearly don't give a shit and I'm of the mind Modius is probably a regular customer here.

          MRH feels the need to suggest it's better for the players to shut down the Auction than participate in it (Conscience roll, difficulty 10). I'd say "No shit, Sherlock" but I've had plenty of players determined to be the biggest monster they can be.

          Next Up - Preludes!
          Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-05-2019, 04:20 PM.


          Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Redwulfe View Post
            Glad to see your insights into the Gary setting. It has always been one of my favorite kicking off points in my campaigns. Can hardly wait to see its update in LtSRR.
            Thanks. I hope people will pop in with their thoughts and how they used the various NPCs. Plenty of characters here have been wildly different in different hands.


            Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
              * The Prince of Chicago has banned all new Neonates in Chicago

              So what was the reason anyone would come to Gary? I mean, if it's a crappy dystppian urban hellscape (in-universe) then why would any vampire stay there? Well, it turns out that Lodin has banned new Neonates in Chicago in order to cut off support to the Anarchs as well as consolidate his power. However, that just means the Elders went to Modius and turned Gary into a training ground for them.
              What's more, it's not just that vampires in Chicago go to Gary and use it as their personal playground.

              It's that Modius lets them. Indeed, he counts on it.

              Modius is the defeated, broken Prince to a depleted, brittle city. Lodin won, and Modius never got over it. But he's still a Prince, with all that entails (at least on paper). Modius probably couldn't stop Chicago residents from coming in, feeding on the citizens, and Embracing as they like. Modius can make it legal, though, as far as the Camarilla is concerned. He lets these things happen, and responds to questions with "yes, I allowed it, for it is my right as Prince of Gary".

              This is Modius's revenge, as petty as it is. This is how Modius sticks it to Lodin. Lodin may have taken everything else, but Gary still belongs to Modius, at least on paper. That's not nearly enough to win, since Gary is such a hellhole, of worth to almost no one. But it's enough to be the fly in Lodin's ointment. The "vassal Prince" that undermines Lodin's authority and edict against the Embrace, and who is so pathetic that LODIN would look bad if he struck back. It would make the mighty Prince of Chicago look weak and petty, if he stooped to wiping Modius from the earth, because Modius already looks weak and petty.

              That's what makes Modius interesting. He's already lost, and could be unseated easily. But no one wants to take Gary - a squalid, rusted hellhole - and they gain little else from taking down Modius. Unless, of course, you're a vampire or vampires who already have nothing going for you (like the PCs). He's a gnat to the giants of vampire politics, but a dangerous foe to those on the bottom rungs...as well as an opportunity.

              As a "Starter Prince", he's brilliant.
              Last edited by Bluecho; 06-05-2019, 09:25 PM.


              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                What's more, it's not just that vampires in Chicago go to Gary and use it as their personal playground.

                It's that Modius lets them. Indeed, he counts on it.

                Modius is the defeated, broken Prince to a depleted, brittle city. Lodin won, and Modius never got over it. But he's still a Prince, with all that entails (at least on paper). Modius probably couldn't stop Chicago residents from coming in, feeding on the citizens, and Embracing as they like. Modius can make it legal, though, as far as the Camarilla is concerned. He lets these things happen, and responds to questions with "yes, I allowed it, for it is my right as Prince of Gary".

                This is Modius's revenge, as petty as it is. This is how Modius sticks it to Lodin. Lodin may have taken everything else, but Gary still belongs to Modius, at least on paper. That's not nearly enough to win, since Gary is such a hellhole, of worth to almost no one. But it's enough to be the fly in Lodin's ointment. The "vassal Prince" that undermines Lodin's authority and edict against the Embrace, and who is so pathetic that LODIN would look bad if he struck back. It would make the mighty Prince of Chicago look weak and petty, if he stooped to wiping Modius from the earth, because Modius already looks weak and petty.

                That's what makes Modius interesting. He's already lost, and could be unseated easily. But no one wants to take Gary - a squalid, rusted hellhole - and they gain little else from taking down Modius. Unless, of course, you're a vampire or vampires who already have nothing going for you (like the PCs). He's a gnat to the giants of vampire politics, but a dangerous foe to those on the bottom rungs...as well as an opportunity.

                As a "Starter Prince", he's brilliant.
                Agreed 100%

                One thing I'm going to get into the issue is also that while Modius is a weak prince, he's still fairly solidly an Elder and if he wasn't 9/10ths of the way to becoming Roderick Usher (Edgar Allan Poe reference ftw!) then he'd probably just abandon Gary and take up position among Chicago's Elders. There, he'd be close to Annabelle and function reasonably well among the Harpies. Being an anachronistic scheming bitter old coot is pretty much what the Camarilla exists to fawn over and soothe the egos thereof.

                However, Modius is a great example of an Elder who can't let go of his existing title and domain (as worthless as it) because while Modius is a shitty Prince, he is still a Prince and "To reign in hell is better to serve in Heaven." Except, of course, he's serving in hell as well. And while he's such a shitty prince, the players are likely to underestimate that while he's not a "real" ruler, he's still an Elder and has power far vaster than any individual of them has. Pride is the sin of Modius and the more he has nothing to be proud about, the more he clings to the trappings of power.

                Dust to Dust also gets into the fact that he needs Juggler as much as Juggler needs him because if he has an enemy (other than Lodin) then at least he has someone who cares about him. One of the possible endings for Modius I had was the players find him in the basement of his mansion, completely insane and with a dozen mindless servants feeding him and pretending he's the Prince. Also potentially hitting wassail with no one caring he kills a different every night in the Gary streets.
                Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-05-2019, 09:47 PM.


                Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

                Comment


                • #9
                  My friends and I were from the Chicago area when Vampire came out, and we started our PCs in Gary as well because that's what the book had. And we liked the idea of a game placed in "our" hometown city. But we all thought it was a little ridiculous that all these white PC and NPC vampires were in Gary since the city was around 90% black at the time. So while we accepted the premise and understood that Gary really didn't have a population of vampires itself (since everyone is actually there to be in Chicago, and this is just some strange waystation), it was very difficult to accept how even the few vampires who lived there could hunt and feed without it causing a racial stir of some kind. For people not from the Chicago area, this might not have been known.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                    * The Auction: This is a surprising bit that is more an adventure hook than setting element. There's an actual slavery ring here in Gary that is operated by a ghoul named Williams. Williams kidnaps men, women, and children and holds weekly slave auctions every Saturday at an abandoned church (for added irony). Many Kindred in Chicago come here to buy the former street people (and also flat out citizens of Gary kidnapped from their homes) for their meals. My assumption is quite a few of these Kindred don't outright KILL their purchases but brainwash them to add to their herd--which isn't any better.

                    This is a VERY easy adventure hook and one that nicely does "showing" rather than "telling" for how bad the World of Darkness is. There's also a bit unsaid here that the vast majority of Gary citizens are black ("White Flight" was invented as a term to describe the sudden removal of so many of Gary's richer families) so if you wanted to play this as a racially-charged storyline you can as well. The police clearly don't give a shit and I'm of the mind Modius is probably a regular customer here.

                    MRH feels the need to suggest it's better for the players to shut down the Auction than participate in it (Conscience roll, difficulty 10). I'd say "No shit, Sherlock" but I've had plenty of players determined to be the biggest monster they can be.
                    I've never actually seen this story hook come into play. It didn't happen in either of the Chicago setting chronicles I played in. I don't know if it was because it bothered the ST too much, or if it simply wasn't intriguing enough.

                    One possible reason might be because as early players of the game, we were very stuck in D&D mode. The idea that something like this would be an ongoing setting element to interact with, as opposed to a "dungeon" to encounter and "solve" (meaing we go in and kill Williams - and that obviously was not hard for a group of vampires), was something we only painfully learned as we adjusted play style. We really liked the idea of playing Vampire, but hadn't figured out how its style was different than other RPGs we had played.

                    Now it's something I see a lot more potential for as a setting element. When I finally started my own Chicago setting chronicle, it was something I intended to use. But I started the players in 1920s Prohibition era Chicago, and any ruined Gary with an Auction was many decades into the "future" of the chronicle. And we ended the chronicle well before that.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                      My friends and I were from the Chicago area when Vampire came out, and we started our PCs in Gary as well because that's what the book had. And we liked the idea of a game placed in "our" hometown city. But we all thought it was a little ridiculous that all these white PC and NPC vampires were in Gary since the city was around 90% black at the time. So while we accepted the premise and understood that Gary really didn't have a population of vampires itself (since everyone is actually there to be in Chicago, and this is just some strange waystation), it was very difficult to accept how even the few vampires who lived there could hunt and feed without it causing a racial stir of some kind. For people not from the Chicago area, this might not have been known.
                      (looks up information about the city)

                      In 1992, 13% of Gary's population is white and 87% is Black with a less than a third of one percent as Asian.

                      Interestingly, this came up within both my games as well as the official supplement. I always found it somewhat notable that there's only two black characters in the supplement with Evelyn and Detective Stephens. Evelyn's art, however, is as white as anyone else's. Not in the description, though, I wondered if that was because of an artist's mistake or the assumption that all vampires would be on the paler side.

                      It's not necessarily an issue, though, because the player characters if they're playing white characters are visitors from Chicago brought there to be sired and there's only seven vampires in all of Gary. Modius and Allicia have to be white by nature of their background as relics of different white-privileged times. Lucian is a Methuselah from Rome and Danov is Russian. However, I do think making Michael or Juggler (or both) black wouldn't be a bad change to the setting. This notably also makes Agent Shepard and Sullivan Dane stand out like cue-bals (to quote "Live and Let Die").

                      Rusted Veins picked up on this element and all of the starting characters for the game are black.
                      '
                      As for how this affected my own work, it was thinking about this paradox when making my Detroit game that I was inspired to do Straight Outta Fangton.



                      Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                      I've never actually seen this story hook come into play. It didn't happen in either of the Chicago setting chronicles I played in. I don't know if it was because it bothered the ST too much, or if it simply wasn't intriguing enough.

                      One possible reason might be because as early players of the game, we were very stuck in D&D mode. The idea that something like this would be an ongoing setting element to interact with, as opposed to a "dungeon" to encounter and "solve" (meaing we go in and kill Williams - and that obviously was not hard for a group of vampires), was something we only painfully learned as we adjusted play style. We really liked the idea of playing Vampire, but hadn't figured out how its style was different than other RPGs we had played.
                      Actually, I don't think the Auction is meant to be more than a one shot adventure and an ongoing part of the setting. As I've explained to my players and fellow STs, there's nothing wrong with a one shot session as that's still an adventure. I very much think you ARE intended to simply go in guns blazing, rescue the slaves, and kill Williams.

                      The difference is in V:TM that is only the BEGINNING of matters because you have ticked off the following people:

                      * Annabelle who no longer has her brainwashed gardening staff.
                      * Son who has lost his torture victims.
                      * Gordon Keaton who is eating people regularly that won't be missed.
                      * Whoever else.

                      Now it's something I see a lot more potential for as a setting element. When I finally started my own Chicago setting chronicle, it was something I intended to use. But I started the players in 1920s Prohibition era Chicago, and any ruined Gary with an Auction was many decades into the "future" of the chronicle. And we ended the chronicle well before that.
                      I've adapted the Auction multiple times in various stories but the actual nature of it being something that requires a ruined Gary isn't necessarily major, IMHO. Vampires and slavery are easily justified due to the nature of their powers as well as constant need for blood.
                      Variations on the theme are the following:

                      * Williams is actually Lucian's ghoul and not a renegade at all. Lucian is from Ancient Rome and sees nothing wrong with the chattel slavery trade. He's also the one who mesmerizes and uses Conditioning to make the slaves pliant in a way that leaves them useful servants of vampires.

                      * Williams is actually Modius' ghoul that serves as the chief source of income for Modius in a city that no longer has a steel mill. Modius will be furious if the players disrupt matters and use his powers to wreck a terrible vengeance.

                      * William is a ghoul slave of a master he destroyed and sees the irony of slaving when he was a former slave himself but refuses to let himself die (he's old enough that losing the blood will kill him).

                      * Variation on the slaving can be done as Mafia III did it at the hands of the local KKK stand-in who was deeply amused at the act and Wach Dogs 3 made it a purely sex-trafficking business.
                      Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-05-2019, 10:27 PM.


                      Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        Actually, I don't think the Auction is meant to be more than a one shot adventure and an ongoing part of the setting. As I've explained to my players and fellow STs, there's nothing wrong with a one shot session as that's still an adventure. I very much think you ARE intended to simply go in guns blazing, rescue the slaves, and kill Williams.
                        That's certainly possible, but it is at most 30 minutes of a game session and not at all challenging.

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        The difference is in V:TM that is only the BEGINNING of matters because you have ticked off the following people:

                        * Annabelle who no longer has her brainwashed gardening staff.
                        * Son who has lost his torture victims.
                        * Gordon Keaton who is eating people regularly that won't be missed.
                        * Whoever else.
                        This is completely true, but requires to have both Chicago By Night and an ST willing to make those connections since there is nothing in the text itself (that I recall) that makes anything like this explicit.

                        Now, making those connections isn't difficult for me (or I assume my old gaming buddies) 25 years later. But it was a bit beyond us at the time. And if the ST did hit us with all these repercussions, we'd have probably thought them unfair since it was completely beyond our expectations. We had very definite expectations of what an RPG was supposed to be about, and it took some time to understand how Vampire was "meant" to be played. As we slowly adopted a gaming stance in Vampire that was more appropriate for the setting/genre, we definitely lost some gamers (while gaining others - Vampire was hugely important at the time at attracting new people to RPGs who had never played before, generally fans of Anne Rice and Neil Gaiman who were both immensely popular at the time) who didn't like that style. Nothing wrong with that. But it was a conceptually leap that this was not a dungeon crawl type of game. A lot of early game sessions was us inadverently trying to figure out a new style of play that didn't mean the entire group of PCs went into a place to kill the baddies.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well I'm not trying to punish you on it. Hindsight is 20-20 and it took me years to think bigger than, "Well the game is almost over and I have no more plots...MORE WAVES OF ZOMBIES!"

                          Generally, though for how I would run The Auction with just FORGED IN STEEL as a resource. The result of my skill as a Storyteller growing over the course of decades.

                          1. The player characters know someone in a vaguely friendly capacity, either a homeless person or a social worker, and they witness them getting kidnapped in broad moonlight by the shoved in a black van method.

                          2. Whether they derrail the van or manage to track it down to a local gang hideout is anyone's guess but the player characters can bluff, bribe, intimidate, shoot, or sneak into the gang's headquarters to find that their friend has been shoved into a literal cage.

                          3. The player characters presumably rescue their friend and the other captives but also find out from any survivors that they had been rounded up to be sold to a mysterious man named Williams. You can either leave a trail of breadcrumbs to the Auction in notes with the gangs or just know its going to happen soon.

                          4. The player characters are then contacted by Danov or Allicia as the resident non-shitty Kindred in the area. They warn the PCs that the Auction is conducted for and by Lucian or Modius and they run the risk of pissing off sme very powerful Kindred if they disrupt it.

                          Drop hints they can contact either the police (Stephens is the only cop who cares), Shepard (The FBI would love to get involved), or even Sullivan Dane (who shall spare thee Kindred in exchange
                          for helping these poor wretched souls).

                          5. The issue with the Auction being that you can go guns blazing and sadly this will probably endanger the subjects with Williams fully willing to burn the church down with everyone inside to prevent evidence of his crimes coming to light. Bringing in the mortal authorities might result in the players having to deal with customers frenzying and a potential Masquerade breach.

                          Either way, Modius and Lucian will both be furious.
                          Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-06-2019, 09:39 AM.


                          Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                          • #14
                            Character Contacts

                            Preludes were one of the things that early V:TM stressed heavily but sort of fell off the radar. The idea that you should be slowly ease each individual character into the story instead of the tried and true D&D method.

                            MRH: You should give each individual player an intro to the story so they can get comfortable with the setting, politics, and your character's arc.
                            Me: You all meet at the Succubus Club when a mysterious stranger tells you of a treasure map to Al Capone's vault.

                            Needless to say I've improved since then when I was doing exactly what I did before V:TM. The Preludes are pre-generated for the various characters here in Gary and give you a lot of insight into not only how you're expected to progress in this story but also the Gary NPCs themselves.

                            Character Contacts basically are a way to follow up the Prelude by having the characters establish a relationship with one of the Gary NPCs and how things might change. The big difference between V:TM and other roleplaying games was always in the way I described it, "V:TM is the game about nothing...and vampires."It's Seinfeld in the primary appeal of the game, at least in 1st Edition, is that you don't HAVE to adventure to have a bunch of games. A lot of games can consist just of interacting with NPCs and that's fun because they're an eclectic cast of characters while also vampires. That's interesting enough for some games.

                            * Romance: The Allicia Story Path is that the player characters are stalked by Allicia and eventually she wants to share blood with them. She can't communicate with them via her voice but there's no talk about using paper and it's years before texting became a thing. Still, I think the Allicia character suffers from the major flaw of the fact the Storyteller has to communicate entirely by expressions that the players can't see. Even so, I've always been fond of the Allicia character and think she's full of potential. Modius has kept her as his slave-childe for decades and the fact she's a beautiful willowy Mia Farrow type that is being used as a femme fatale is very Gothic. Obviously, any relationship that turns sincere will mean that she is now an enemy of Modius.

                            * Charity: The Michael path results in the player characters befriending the mentally-challenged vampire. Michael is a character that brings up a lot of questions and I'm going to bring those up in his write-up. However, he's meant to be an innocent character and a vampire who is lacking the horrors of the Beast. The player charactrs have a choice of protecting him from the horrors of the undead life but I think an equally interesting option is going for the "Rain Man" option. Michael is a potential Masquerade breach and a danger to the undead as a whole that may have to be put down for the greater good (of the damned).

                            * Dangerous Friendship: The Evelyn Story Path is about befriending a beautiful (and more talkative) vampiress who has a bit more emotional heft. She's broken the Masquerade, she's an illegal Embrace, Juggler's childe, and many other potential ways to hint things. There's a lot of room to go with Evelyn and I think she makes a more interesting love interest as well. Brujah girl for the win.

                            * Adopted Son: The player character is "adopted" by Modius who manages to hide his deep well of crazy long enough to become their Malwai. Honestly, I think "Mentor" sounds better and wish that 5th Edition hadn't gone with that. Modius also tries to set the player up with Allicia, only for it to fail miserably (probably because she hates Modius underneath her Blood Bond). Modius says that if ONLY Lodin wasn't a problem, he'd give Gary to the players and step down. There's all sorts of interesting ways that this can fall apart and fall apart this will.

                            * Sinister Secret: The player character is actually Juggler's childe and another illegal Embrace he made. This requires them to be a 9th generation Brujah but is a pretty interesting angle. Given the way we see Modius do a "non-reaction" to the Embrace of Evelyn, it seems that Juggler is probably less afraid of Modius than Lodin. It also is a decent insight into Juggler's character as he is not actually interested in rebelling so much as the APPEARANCE of rebelling. It's interesting that the first Anarch we meet in the game world is also the first sellout.


                            Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                            • #15
                              Antagonists

                              We're almost to the NPC section of Forged in Steel but it's interesting to take time to talk about how different the situation was in 1st Edition. The Antagonist section of Forged in Steel basically says that the majority of conflict the players will have will start with Hunters. This is an interesting fact that plays right into 5th Edition.

                              We have no less than three vampire hunters in the relatively small Forged in Steel supplement with Sullivan Dane being the hardass Society of Leopold Inquisitor, Agent Shepard as an FBI agent investigating the existence of the supernatural, and Detective Stephens who hates Juggler but isn't necessarily against all Kindred (let alone his sister).

                              What I need to pause a second and discuss is the fact that while it'd be easy to execute a vampire hunter, all three of these vampire hunters are not people that the PCs should find it easy to do so. Sullivan Dane is full of True Faith and runs rather than engages in a direct fight. Gregory Stephens is a cop and the brother of a friend. Killing an FBI agent shouldn't have to be explained as something that is a bad idea for a vampire.

                              The Chronicle also said that this is going to build up to a massive confrontation with the Kindred of Chicago (that aren't detailed here). Apparently, something is going to eventually trigger Lodin to decide to finish off Modius the Prince of Gary as well as his tiny coterie of minions. MRH encourages Storytellers to have the players develop a hate of Chicago.

                              Which? Wha?

                              I'm not sure the oddball collection of Gary's Kindred (note: not the people of Gary themselves) are a hill worth dying on.

                              Mood

                              Decay.

                              Well, no shit. I don't actually have anything to add to this but they mention that Gary's mood is decay. I can confidently say that has been established.

                              Very established.


                              Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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