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

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  • Bluecho
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
    Private Jordan Lynch: Jordan Lynch is a female military veteran who lost her leg in the Iraq War before returning home. Embraced by Anita Wainwright, she's a die-hard Anarch who is less than trusting of Juggler. She's presently on a "mission" to help Juggler carry out the drug deal. Its implied that she's still missing a leg despite the fact most Kindred would have regenerated it with blood beforehand.
    .
    I assume that's only true for a "fresh" wound. A missing leg that was allowed to heal isn't a "wound" anymore. It's Private Lynch's new "normal". Maybe if she'd been caught and Embraced shortly after getting wounded, it would be a different story. As it stands, the Embrace could do nothing for her that it couldn't do for a person who had scars. I don't know how it works in V5, but in previous editions this would be handled by giving the woman a Flaw (probably Lame).

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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Rusted Veins part 2

    The Gentleman Gamer

    The actual adventure is written by Matthew Dawkins and I've never not been entertained by the Gentleman Gamer who has managed to really bring back a game that I had long abandoned. In general, what I think of as the "Mathew Dawkins style" is a combination of continuity porn (always fun for Old Timers), a somewhat more grounded style than 2nd Edition, and a bit more darker edge than previous editions. I like to think it's a more adult Bloodlines-style as a good way of explaining it and Rusted Veins is no different. I've never read a bad product he's been involved in and everyone usually has some duds.

    The New Gary

    Gary is re-imagined for the V5 era by stating that it is a urban warzone between Modius and Juggler, who have gone from having an irrelevant rivalry with no subjects to an actual struggle. According to this module, there's 10-20 Kindred living in Gary at any given time with the majority being exiles from other domains like Milwaukee and Chicago. They don't last very long as either they eventually leave or die. Modius is actually powerful on a personal level and while he struggles to assert his control over the other Kindred in the city--he can at least try. Juggler, by contrast, mostly just wants to build up his own Anarch army even if it doesn't seem like he wants to use it for anything. He's the Baron of Gary and has much claim to it as Modius has Prince but most of the Anarchs think of Juggler as "too old" to be a real leader.

    This is actually a really good re-imagining of Gary and makes it the kind of place you can legitimately conduct a campaign that's interesting. There's enough Kindred that you can have adventures in it but you have Modius and Juggler as both politically irrelevant but STILL DANGEROUS. Which is a nice contrast to Gary.

    Modius V5

    The Modius of V5 is identified as a French African colonial, which is a good bit of background and about 200 years old. It's noted that he has numerous spies among the Anarchs of his domain so has as much claim to the loyalty of them as any other Kindred. However, the Camarilla no longer apparently recognizes his Praxis (ouch) so he's completely isolated. He and Juggler actually worked together to revitalize Gary but have recently had a falling out.

    Juggler V5

    Juggler is revealed to now be the Baron of Gary due to the fact that he did a zombie movie (the one from Dust to Dust with obvious signs of tampering that somehow mocked the Camarilla). This resulted in Isaac Abrams and Velvet Velour requesting that he be formally acknowledged as a Baron. Most Anarchs stil don't like Juggler and call him a "self-serving criminal" which is admittedly not that big of an insult among the Anarchs.

    The Drug Deal

    The heart of the adventure is the "Drug Deal Gone Bad" that is a classic storyline for criminal tales, only this one being for vampires. It's a deal for about 30K worth of cash in exchange for a bunch of high-quality heroin. This is where the author makes use of some of the original Baptism by Fire humor in the joke that Modius is actually the person respnsible for the drug deal and is going to screw it up every bit as much as he did Gary. Modius could sell his high quality heroin for a lot more than he's doing so but is willing to dramatically lowball it (and he gets even less than 30K) for the money.

    We find out the reason why later in the game.
    The premise is that Juggler has decided to disrupt the deal by informing the Gary police. Being the World of Darkness, the cops who decide to interrupt a high-value drug deal aren't particularly GOOD cops and are here to steal both the heroin as well as the money for themselves. This is meant to be just one of those minor moves in the Jyhad (even by Juggler and Modius' standards) but is something that can lead to a shoot out that will get a bunch of mortals killed. Either the cops and gang members or the homeless people in the area caught in the crossfire.

    Despite the fact that they're all Neonates, they're still ****ing vampires. They can and probably will trace the cops back to their stash house (obviously not the police station). That way they can get back the money as well as the drugs for either themselves or to theoretically continue the deal that was supposed to go down before. Personally, though, it'll be the rare Kindred who won't keep one or the other.

    We get another Dust to Dust reference with a "Dead Zone" in Gary where the amount of cancer and other conditions have skyrocketed due to a "Giovanni plot." So, apparently, there was an affect by her ritual--just not much of one. Well not much of one in the context that may have caused massive continuous misery and death far beyond most Kindred will do by them. Most Kindred are murderers and will kill dozens of people across their unlives but this could be hundreds of people stretching across generations.
    Modius will then contact the player characters and demand they get back his money as well as heroin. He promises rewards but obviously can't give them money (or he'll offer them an IOU--which no prince normally would be caught dead doing. A Major Boon? Yes. An IOU? Never). Sullivan Dane will then contact Zion and ask to set him up with Modius because, well, Dane and Modius are mortal enemies. I suspect Dane has killed many stronger vampires than Modius over the years and more dangerous ones but as lame as the Prince of Gary is--he's still a 200 year old Elder and is one of those Elders with dozens of bodies behind him if not a hundred or more.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-09-2019, 12:46 PM.

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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Rusted Veins part 1

    Rusted Veins is the climax of this thread, at least until the release of Let the Streets Run Red. Basically, it was a convention adventure that I was lucky to get a copy of the PDF for and it's unfortunate that it's not available anymore. The Alpha Playtest of V5 at Gencon August of 2017 was written by Kenneth Hite, Jason Andrew, and Matthew Dawkins with insight from Jason Carl, Karim Muammar, and Martin Ericsson. So it's a pretty prestigious set of writers there.

    The majority of the 104 page document is basically the Starter Kit.for Vampire: The Masquerde 5E. It gives the basic rules for the game right up until Page 55, where we're introduced to the Sample Characters that give us a sense of what the Adventure will be like.

    The Pre-Gens

    Makayla "Malort" Elliot: A black female cop who was corrupt and dirty in the Gary PD. She ended up shaking down the wrong Kindred and ended up Embraced for her efforts. She's now a woman covered in fingernails. She's trying to keep her new condition secret from her mother and children that she stays in contact with and is presently on police disability. Makayla sells the locations of elderly residents to her fellow Kindred so they can be eaten--which is delightfully evil. She's also strangely afraid of a local police man who is blackmailing her and I'm kind of wondering why that is a problem unless they're Kindred themselves.

    Jeremiah "Padre" Jefferson: Another black character (which is appreciated and reflects the actuality of Gary), he's a former veteran who returned to Gary to become a self-appointed servant of the Lord. One of his actions resulted in him being Embraced by a Nosferatu. He hasn't lost his faith as his severe burn scars actually allow him to operate in regular society. Sullivan Dane has made contact with him and promised him redemption if he can help him get to Modius. This seems a bit out of character for Sullivan and more like Nathaniel Borduff (who could be using Dane's identity).

    Both Makayla and Jeremiah might made good children of Danov but Nathaniel Borduff might be a good substitute for Jeremiah.
    Zion "Snowman" Middleton: A vampire drug dealer that was embraced by a Gangrel attempting to figure out how to substitute street drugs for the cravings. The Gangrel also had designs on Modius' praxis (HA!) but Zion ended up turning him over to the Prince for a Blood Hunt. Now Zion is in Modius' favor and might as well be Modius' Sheriff since I can't imagine anyone else caring. Snowman plans to eventually eliminate Modius and take his place since, bluntly, Gary is a good place for a man like him. He's also the brother of Sydney Middleton.

    I don't think Lucian would be this one's sire since he could have the Princedom of Gary at will and isn't a drug addict. My inclination was that he was probably sired by Malcolm. Malcolm probably would be able to bargain with Modius to escape.
    Sydney One-Round Middleton: Gary's answer to Ronda Rousey and an MMA fighter who managed to escape the town, only to get Embraced by Juggler in order to give himself another fight. She's continuing to fight but has badly injured some of her opponent. Sydney is a legitimate Anarch believer but believes (correctly) Juggler is full of shit.

    Private Jordan Lynch: Jordan Lynch is a female military veteran who lost her leg in the Iraq War before returning home. Embraced by Anita Wainwright, she's a die-hard Anarch who is less than trusting of Juggler. She's presently on a "mission" to help Juggler carry out the drug deal. Its implied that she's still missing a leg despite the fact most Kindred would have regenerated it with blood beforehand.

    Elijah "Baggie" Franklin: A drug addict Embraced by Zion after he was invited with a bunch of other users to a party where they were massacred. Apparently, Zion felt enough guilt to turn him. Baggie is officially Zion's sidekick and childe but he's actually answering directly to Juggler. Juggler may not be a Ride or Die Anarch but he's got more experience managing coteries and local politics than some Elders. So he's assigned Baggie an assignment as a spy to undermine Zion until he's forced to make a deal with Juggler. Baggie is playing them both against one another as while he's not fond of them--he's grateful to both Juggler's help and Zion making him a monster. After all, he was a junkie before but now blood satisfies the cravings while being manageable.

    Overall, this is a pretty good coterie.

    I also appreciate that they're all African American even if a couple are stereotypical.

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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Personally, I agree that making Dellisle more than just a savage snarling Beast and a more rounded Humanity 1 character that is still totally evil is a much more interesting use of a 200 year old Samedi Elder.

    Good use of the Third Man quotes there.

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  • Grumpy RPG Reviews
    replied
    I would have Delisle attempt to hire the coterie to destroy Vargo because he is a fool, and a showboating pillock.

    In any case, the “killing a city” thing should not be run in a theatrical manner. I see her interaction with the coterie being close to DELISLE Lime speech on the big wheel than the rants of a final boss.

    DELISLE
    What do you want me to do?

    COTERIE
    (overlap)
    You can get somebody else...

    DELISLE
    You would just be hear, arguing for them in that case.
    Do you expect me to give up?

    COTERIE
    Why not?

    DELISLE
    It's far better thing that I do... you and I aren't heroes, the world doesn't make any heroes...

    COTERIE
    You've got plenty of contacts.

    DELISLE
    I've got to be careful.
    I'm only safe in the family...
    I'm safe as long as they can use me...

    COTERIE
    As long as they can use you

    DELISLE
    I wish I could get rid of all of the vampire politicking, but I can’t.

    COTERIE
    Oh, so that's how they found out about Dane...
    You told the Camarilla, didn't you?

    DELISLE
    Don't try to be a policeman, old man.

    COTERIE
    What did you expect me to be – part of your...

    DELISLE
    Part? You can have any part you want, so long as you don't interfere...I have never cut you out of anything yet.

    COTERIE
    Have you ever seen any of your victims?

    DELISLE
    Do you know, I don't ever feel comfortable on these sort of things...Victims?

    (He opens the door of the big wheel carriage.)

    Don't be melodramatic. Look down there...

    (Long shot from Coterie' eye line of the fairground far below and the people now on it.)

    Would you feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?
    If I offered you $20,000 for every dot that stopped - would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man......free of income tax.
    It's the only way to save money nowadays.
    Even for immortals – supposed immortals because we all can still die – anyway, even for supposed immortals, there is only so much time to spend on grieving. For most sad little old lady not long for this world anyway. Or for one measly, mostly-dead-already city.

    COTERIE
    Doesn’t the Giovanni family have enough money?

    DELISLE
    It’s never about the money, it’s only ever about the power.
    And doing something for the sake of doing a thing.

    COTERIE
    I should be pretty easy to get rid of.

    DELISLE
    Pretty easy...

    COTERIE
    I wouldn't be too sure.

    DELISLE
    Oh, my friends, what fools we are, talking to each other this way...
    As though I would do anything to - or you to me.

    (DELISLE closes the door of the carriage.)

    You're just a little mixed up about things...in general. Nobody thinks in terms...of human beings. Governments don't, so why should we? They talk about the people, and the Proletariat... I talk about the suckers and the mugs...
    It's the same thing. They have their five-year plan, and so have I.

    COTERIE
    Did you ever believe in God?

    DELISLE
    Oh, I still do believe in God, old man... I believe in God and Mercy and all that... The dead are happier dead. They don't miss much here...

    The actual ritual should be almost perfunctory, and it should not produce a stupid zombie apocalypse.




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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
    Personally, I disagree with this, though I can see the value. I disagree because I think it's at odds with the overarching themes of a Gary chronicle.

    Namely, that Gary, Indiana does not matter in the grand scheme of things, and neither does any vampire who chooses to operate there.

    Whether Modius or Juggler succeeds in their plans, it makes little difference. Even if they pursue their goals as rivals, they aren't really mutually exclusive. Nor is anyone likely to take notice except as a minor matter of convenience for Kindred who happen to be in the neighborhood.

    Maria, I think, is meant as much the same. Her plan probably won't work. Nor, I think, does Clan Giovanni as a whole know or care about it. They have their own grand strategy for ushering in the Eternal Night. Sure, some might find the theory of "killing a city" interesting as a potential solution, and would take notice if it actually worked. But I think it works better for the chronicle if Maria's plan is done on her own initiative. Both because it would feed into the idea that nothing that happens in Gary has much significance in the greater Jyhad, but also because it makes individual actions more meaningful.

    If the "murder Gary itself" plot is something handed down from higher up, then it's just another example of Clan Giovanni being bastards. The death of one old woman is a trifle compared to the larger spiritual implications of a city being killed. But if it's not a plan from higher up - theory devised by ancient and powerful necromancers, that just needs to be tested - then it's about one vampire murdering an old woman on a hunch, in service of her own ambition. The murder becomes the moral issue and the driving motivation to stop Maria, not a big plan to damage the fabric of the Gauntlet.

    Ironically, by making the stakes smaller, it causes individual action to have more weight.

    That's what a Gary chronicle is about, really. That's what Gary chronicles have always been about. The PCs being witness to very petty dramas and very small moral dilemmas. On a scale where a single human slavery auction, or one vampire hunter tracking down a Humanity 1 monster, or one woman being trapped in a possessive blood bond to her sire, or the collateral damage of two vampire posers actually MEANS something.
    I'm inclined to agree and think that's a bit of a weird disconnect with Dust to Dust as it's two very different chronicle themes that are awkwardly grafted together.

    1. Low Key Dust To Dust: There's the first chronicle, which is the nostalgia factor for 1st Edition that shows that Juggler and Modius are irrelevant to any rationale Kindred's plans. Gary, Indiana is a city with no Kindred but thw two individuals who want to rule it and don't necessarily even appreciate it as a source of feeding. Then there's the old and past-his-prime Sullivan Dane who may be suffering from dozens of injuries that he's recovered from thanks to the power of God as well as determination. The guy who is here for "one last hunt" and probably doesn't expect to make it out alive even if he has the help of a bunch of Satanspawn to deal with another Satanspawn. There's also the "Zombie Walk" B-movie director who is in town precisely because it naturally looks like a post-apocalypse hellhole.

    2. Video Game Dust to Dust: This is contrasted to the second chronicle where we have a plan to make an undead city that could dramatically change the fabric of the Tellurium by killing an old woman at the moment of a city's economic death. But that's not even the big video game element as I've been kind of ignoring that Jean Delisle isn't even the main villain but more like the Final Boss as Lazlo Vargo is the "actual" villain that is a 1-dimensional Necromancer that wants to turn a bunch of the Zombie Walk participants into actual zombies using a dead(ish) vampire's ashes as part of a ritual to achieve ULTIMATE POWER. The guy doesn't even have a backstory or how, somehow, he was in the area at the exact moment Sullivan Dane "killed" a Samedi then stuck it in a funeral urn that Jean Delisle was trapped in as a source of ritual magic power. Because it doesn't matter--as Vargo only exists to create a threat for the PCs to stop. To justify zombie fighting at the climax.

    If anyone knows me, they know I much prefer the former over the latter even though I admit to have done MANY MANY apocalyptic demon-killing games. I just feel that they don't really blend together too well here.

    Rusted Veins is going to be much more what I think Dust to Dust was SUPPOSED to be like and actually feels like a do-over to an extent.

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  • Bluecho
    replied
    Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post

    Funny you should put it that way, because my read is she is totally a would-be world ending monster.

    I would tweak this portion of the module so the attempt to murder the city is not only something the clan leaders ordered her to do, but it is part of their overall plot to murder the world.

    They need to test portions of their final night plan and magic before they are ready to unleash it - in much the same way that the Atomic bomb came together is steps and phases, before it was tested at White Sands and well before use on Japan. So what she is doing is one such test. It may fail on its own, at which point the Giovanni go back to the notes and the lab and start planning again. Or it may fail because of PC intervention, in which case the Johns will just try it again somewhere else, and mark the coterie as enemies.
    Personally, I disagree with this, though I can see the value. I disagree because I think it's at odds with the overarching themes of a Gary chronicle.

    Namely, that Gary, Indiana does not matter in the grand scheme of things, and neither does any vampire who chooses to operate there.

    Whether Modius or Juggler succeeds in their plans, it makes little difference. Even if they pursue their goals as rivals, they aren't really mutually exclusive. Nor is anyone likely to take notice except as a minor matter of convenience for Kindred who happen to be in the neighborhood.

    Maria, I think, is meant as much the same. Her plan probably won't work. Nor, I think, does Clan Giovanni as a whole know or care about it. They have their own grand strategy for ushering in the Eternal Night. Sure, some might find the theory of "killing a city" interesting as a potential solution, and would take notice if it actually worked. But I think it works better for the chronicle if Maria's plan is done on her own initiative. Both because it would feed into the idea that nothing that happens in Gary has much significance in the greater Jyhad, but also because it makes individual actions more meaningful.

    If the "murder Gary itself" plot is something handed down from higher up, then it's just another example of Clan Giovanni being bastards. The death of one old woman is a trifle compared to the larger spiritual implications of a city being killed. But if it's not a plan from higher up - theory devised by ancient and powerful necromancers, that just needs to be tested - then it's about one vampire murdering an old woman on a hunch, in service of her own ambition. The murder becomes the moral issue and the driving motivation to stop Maria, not a big plan to damage the fabric of the Gauntlet.

    Ironically, by making the stakes smaller, it causes individual action to have more weight.

    That's what a Gary chronicle is about, really. That's what Gary chronicles have always been about. The PCs being witness to very petty dramas and very small moral dilemmas. On a scale where a single human slavery auction, or one vampire hunter tracking down a Humanity 1 monster, or one woman being trapped in a possessive blood bond to her sire, or the collateral damage of two vampire posers actually MEANS something.
    Last edited by Bluecho; 07-07-2019, 11:22 PM.

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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Dust to Dust part 3

    There's a fairly interesting set piece with the zombie walk, Lazlo Varga's plan to turn the population into real zombies, and Jean Delisle's resurrection from the dead. However, it's something that I think honestly would work better in three different parts with maybe a loose connecting thread of tissue between the stories.

    1. The player characters get contacted by Modius or Juggler about their plan then the other makes them a counter offer.
    2. The player characters meet with Maria Dematto about doing her movie here in Gary that can make a lot of money for the city in a short time. Also, potentially, start a cottage industry of b-movies. Lazlo Vargo is her ghoul.
    3. The player characters get contacted by Sullivan Dane about investigating Jean Delisle
    4. The hunt for the Samedi happens.
    5. Sullivan Dane will either turn on the players or they depart peacefully. He mentions that he's captured a necromancer (Vargo) who then coughs up about Maria's plan.
    6. The players stop her human sacrifice plan.
    7. Modius and Juggler both confront each other with the players picking one side or another.

    That's just how I'd run it at least. It's not a big and grandiose adventure, plans to conquer the city of Gary, Indiana aside but it's a decent enough series of events.

    One bit that does stick with me is the fact that Sullivan Dane actually can depart peacefully with the PCs, either telling them that he's hoping they turn their life around or encouraging themselves to destroy themselves--which would be awful under any circumstances than being a murderous vampire. Plus he can even play the violin! I like this older and tired version of Sullivan Dane who isn't as fanatical as his younger self. He knows there's no way to kill the PCs in a direct confrontation. He's also not someone who is inclined to go after every one of them mindlessly. He has learned to pick and choose his battles as stopping someone like Jean Delisle takes priority.

    If I have any real issue with this adventure, it's the fact that it feels like a low-stakes character driven adventure that has some quirky interesting characters that got tacked on with a wacky 2nd edition high-stakes adventure that doesn't quite fit with it. Lazlo Vargo is a 1-dimensional evil necromancer that plans a large scale massacre of humans that turns them into literal zombies to fight with the help of a magical urn as well as a 1-Humanity vampire. Maria Dematto plans to "kill" the city of Gary and resurrect it as an undead city that may have apocalyptic consequences when it's much more interesting, really, if she just ends up killing an old woman for no good reason.

    I feel like the fact that Modius and Juggler are irrelevant relics that are trying to suck the PCs into their petty feud contrasts if you have Gary at the center of a conflict that could result in an undead city.

    Overall, this was kind of a farewell to the Chicago Chronicles (and Gary Chronicles) as well. There's no further reason to continue on in the city and its last two "important" vampires engaged in a futile struggle for a dying city. As a final installment of the Gary Chronicles, I think it actually lacks punch and would have preferred something a bit more oomph wise.

    I think we get that in the last installment of this series --- RUSTED VEINS.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-08-2019, 01:24 AM.

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  • Grumpy RPG Reviews
    replied
    I probably would not ever have the Wraithpocalypse happen, but make it a tense thriller; the coterie knows more than they should, but can't prove a thing and no one in a position of authority with the Camarilla either believes them or gives a damn. It would be a bit of Hitchcock feel to it, expect for all the blood shed and ending in horror and evil.

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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
    If I were running the adventure, I'd probably include a chance for the PCs to walk in on her prior to the ritual, and see her trying to psyche herself up for the sacrifice. Because while "do a human sacrifice" seems simple on paper - seems trivial in theory, compared to the scale of "necromancing" a whole city - she's never actually killed anyone before. Least of all on purpose.

    It's a really weird thing, for both a vampire and a Giovanni, but it would be a real "human" moment. And one that's entirely appropriate for Gary. The "villain" of the story is working up the strength to murder an old woman, in service of a ritual that may not work, just to control Gary, Indiana. That is peak "small scale Vampire problems".

    Plus, it gives the PCs a good opportunity to convince Maria Dimatto not to go through with it, if the players are so inclined. At the moment when her killing urge is most fragile, it wouldn't be that hard to make her think "you know, maybe this isn't the best course of action". It's further nice to remind players that Vampire doesn't always need to go Grimdark. It's one thing to reaffirm the PCs' own Humanity by preventing an old woman from getting killed. It's another to remind the villain of her Humanity, and that she's not obligated to go down the same road as other Giovanni.
    That is a very interesting way to potentially handle this and while I'm pretty sure that every vampire has killed someone by the time of their second or third year (even Annabelle in La By Night), that's a very different thing from something premeditated for such a nebulous project. I think that would also go well with the themes of this module. It would also be a better ending than just attacking Maria and driving her off or not.

    Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post

    Funny you should put it that way, because my read is she is totally a would-be world ending monster.

    I would tweak this portion of the module so the attempt to murder the city is not only something the clan leaders ordered her to do, but it is part of their overall plot to murder the world.

    They need to test portions of their final night plan and magic before they are ready to unleash it - in much the same way that the Atomic bomb came together is steps and phases, before it was tested at White Sands and well before use on Japan. So what she is doing is one such test. It may fail on its own, at which point the Giovanni go back to the notes and the lab and start planning again. Or it may fail because of PC intervention, in which case the Johns will just try it again somewhere else, and mark the coterie as enemies.
    That's another way to handle it. Mind you, I'm not sure whether the Wraithpocalypse was ever a great idea for the setting but they've also always been easy adventures to make too.

    Sometimes you just need a world-ending bad guy to slay.

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  • Grumpy RPG Reviews
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
    I like Maria Dimatto because she's a quirky character who is evil but not of the world-ending monstrous variety.
    Funny you should put it that way, because my read is she is totally a would-be world ending monster.

    I would tweak this portion of the module so the attempt to murder the city is not only something the clan leaders ordered her to do, but it is part of their overall plot to murder the world.

    They need to test portions of their final night plan and magic before they are ready to unleash it - in much the same way that the Atomic bomb came together is steps and phases, before it was tested at White Sands and well before use on Japan. So what she is doing is one such test. It may fail on its own, at which point the Giovanni go back to the notes and the lab and start planning again. Or it may fail because of PC intervention, in which case the Johns will just try it again somewhere else, and mark the coterie as enemies.

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  • Bluecho
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
    The Giovanni Plot

    Maria Dimatto is a Giovanni B-movie producer who creates horror movies on the sly and isn't a very good necromancer. Like the producers of A Nightmare on Elm Street, she knows the ruins of Gary are a perfect filming location if you know the right spots. It's actually, somewhat tackily, a place that is known for
    Ruin Tourism in RL. Maria mostly goes to failing cities ala that episode of the Simpsons with the Radioactive Man movie and films her cheesy movies there that gain a bit of prestige and a brief boon in economics. Here, she plans a big zombie walk and a lot of fun The Walking Dead style antics.

    Maria has a plan based around the idea of attempting to "kill" Gary with magic and then proceed to control it via Necromancy. The people of Utility Muffin Labs were very confused by this plot and how to run it (especially since whether her ritual works or not is undescribed). Honestly, I'm inclined to go with the idea that Maria's ritual is going to be a complete failure. Not the least because of an apocalyptic necromatic event being out of genre for most V:TM games (as well as Gary related ones) but also because I like demonstrating the difference between theory and testing.

    Maria has the theory that cities have souls (true) and that it is possible for cities to die (true). Therefore, it should be possible to use Necromancy to bind them (false). My idea is that Maria's animism is on the right track but she's essentially operating way above her paygrade in terms of the magic she's describing. She has a Necromancy 3 and no Spirit Thaumaturgy. You could say she's trying to split an atom with a sword. At the climax of the adventure, the PCs will be able to participate in her ritual where she attempts to sacrifice the oldest woman in Gary to complete her ritual attempt to "kill" the city.

    So her failing is actually interesting because player characters can determine there IS something to her views and might be persuaded to go along with it but the ritual requires a human sacrifice. It's a neat little moral test for player characters as they will end up killing someone for nothing and trying to prevent that is it's own reward.

    I like Maria Dimatto because she's a quirky character who is evil but not of the world-ending monstrous variety. She's probably pretty moral as Giovanni go and wouldn't even normally kill someone as a human sacrifice if she didn't think it was worth it--but she will and does unless stopped by the PCs. The thing is, I think it's a good idea to make her someone the PCs can actually befriend.

    The pretty quirky fun movie director of a geeky subject who is still, at the end of the day, a murderer.
    If I were running the adventure, I'd probably include a chance for the PCs to walk in on her prior to the ritual, and see her trying to psyche herself up for the sacrifice. Because while "do a human sacrifice" seems simple on paper - seems trivial in theory, compared to the scale of "necromancing" a whole city - she's never actually killed anyone before. Least of all on purpose.

    It's a really weird thing, for both a vampire and a Giovanni, but it would be a real "human" moment. And one that's entirely appropriate for Gary. The "villain" of the story is working up the strength to murder an old woman, in service of a ritual that may not work, just to control Gary, Indiana. That is peak "small scale Vampire problems".

    Plus, it gives the PCs a good opportunity to convince Maria Dimatto not to go through with it, if the players are so inclined. At the moment when her killing urge is most fragile, it wouldn't be that hard to make her think "you know, maybe this isn't the best course of action". It's further nice to remind players that Vampire doesn't always need to go Grimdark. It's one thing to reaffirm the PCs' own Humanity by preventing an old woman from getting killed. It's another to remind the villain of her Humanity, and that she's not obligated to go down the same road as other Giovanni.

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  • CTPhipps
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    Dust to Dust part 2

    Dust to Dust despite a pretty good opening with Modius and Juggler is something that I think is actually a parody of Baptism by Fire. This isn't to say it's not coming from a place of love but I feel like the module has the idea that the time of the characters has come and passed. The cool thing about the conflict between Juggler and Modius is that it's completely meaningless. It doesn't matter whether Juggler or Modius emerges victorious over each other because Gary is an even more meaningless prize than it was twenty years ago. This isn't to disparage the people of actual Gary but it lacks vampires living there and unless you wish to live alone then there's no point.

    Canonically, from Rusted Veins, we know that Juggler emerges triumphant from their conflict. He becomes Baron of Gary and technically Modius' "Equal" but it feels like this was a joke gift like a Razzie. After all, again, who is he Baron OF? I think this actually may be a bit dismissive of the territory as while it may be economically depressed (to say the least), it's still about 76,000 people. That may not be enough to sustain even one vampire technically but I think that depends on your feeding habits.

    Interestingly, Juggler is named the Baron of Gary by Isaac Abrams and Velvet Velour. This implies that Juggler has really misunderstood the nature of Barony in that it is something that is bestowed rather than simply acknowledged. Juggler is so desperate for any prestige by the Anarchs that he's wanting to be proclaimed Baron of a city no one really wants versus just saying, "I am Baron of Gary. Anyone who comes here answers to me." Then again, given he is a Gang of OneTM, maybe that's all he could hope for.

    We get a sense of how the author Matthew McFarland meant for us to feel about it because the climax of the adventure is Juggler and Modius getting into a slap fight. The player characters can help Juggler or Modius but the implication is that there's no point in doing so, so the ideal solution for the player characters are just to walk away and put the entirety of Gary behind them. It's a swan song to Forged in Steel and it ends not with a bang but a whimper.

    Not sure about that.

    The rest of the chronicle is divided into roughly two parts with Maria Dimatto's plot and Jean Lisle's pseudo resurrection with Sullivan Dane on the sidelines.

    The Giovanni Plot

    Maria Dimatto is a Giovanni B-movie producer who creates horror movies on the sly and isn't a very good necromancer. Like the producers of A Nightmare on Elm Street, she knows the ruins of Gary are a perfect filming location if you know the right spots. It's actually, somewhat tackily, a place that is known for
    Ruin Tourism in RL. Maria mostly goes to failing cities ala that episode of the Simpsons with the Radioactive Man movie and films her cheesy movies there that gain a bit of prestige and a brief boon in economics. Here, she plans a big zombie walk and a lot of fun The Walking Dead style antics.

    Maria has a plan based around the idea of attempting to "kill" Gary with magic and then proceed to control it via Necromancy. The people of Utility Muffin Labs were very confused by this plot and how to run it (especially since whether her ritual works or not is undescribed). Honestly, I'm inclined to go with the idea that Maria's ritual is going to be a complete failure. Not the least because of an apocalyptic necromatic event being out of genre for most V:TM games (as well as Gary related ones) but also because I like demonstrating the difference between theory and testing.

    Maria has the theory that cities have souls (true) and that it is possible for cities to die (true). Therefore, it should be possible to use Necromancy to bind them (false). My idea is that Maria's animism is on the right track but she's essentially operating way above her paygrade in terms of the magic she's describing. She has a Necromancy 3 and no Spirit Thaumaturgy. You could say she's trying to split an atom with a sword. At the climax of the adventure, the PCs will be able to participate in her ritual where she attempts to sacrifice the oldest woman in Gary to complete her ritual attempt to "kill" the city.

    So her failing is actually interesting because player characters can determine there IS something to her views and might be persuaded to go along with it but the ritual requires a human sacrifice. It's a neat little moral test for player characters as they will end up killing someone for nothing and trying to prevent that is it's own reward.

    I like Maria Dimatto because she's a quirky character who is evil but not of the world-ending monstrous variety. She's probably pretty moral as Giovanni go and wouldn't even normally kill someone as a human sacrifice if she didn't think it was worth it--but she will and does unless stopped by the PCs. The thing is, I think it's a good idea to make her someone the PCs can actually befriend.

    The pretty quirky fun movie director of a geeky subject who is still, at the end of the day, a murderer.

    Lazlo Varga and Jean Delisle

    This is a rather weird little storyline and unnecessarily complicated. Basically, Jean Delisle is a 200+ year old Samedi and probably the strongest member of their bloodline except for Baron Samedi himself. He's also a complete monster with Humanity 1 that leaves a trail of bodies behind him that is probably literally a mile long by now.

    Years ago, Sullivan Dane managed to finally track him down and destroy him (or so he thinks). This is implied to be Sullivan Dane's White Whale or Life's Work AchivementTM moment since a vampire that reaches Humanity 1 can either reach wassail quickly after this or last centuries. Delisle seems to be one of the latter since he's not got that sadistic edge most vampires need to push them that final bit into pure Beast but will murder every night until put down.

    Having Sullivan Dane in town hunting an Elder Kindred that is utterly irredeemably evil is a pretty good plot hook by itself. However, the plot gets really weird as mentioned in that apparently Sullivan Dane ALREADY killed Jean Delisle but it was actually him using Mortis to pretend to be dead--only to have his ashes taken by a (hedge mage?) Necromancer to use as a Foci.
    Man what?

    This is apparently so Lazlo Varga, who is a flat character that wants NECROMANTIC POWER can use zombies and more to liven up the final confrontation with Jean Delisle. Were I Storytelling Dust to Dust, I would remove Lazlo Varga or make him a comic relief ghoul for Maria Dimatto (to tie the stories closer together). Basically, make him a Giovanni family member who wants to become ALL POWERFUL but is a joke that was passed onto Maria as a gift.

    Keeping the story tight with Sullivan Dane works well for me as the idea of him working with Kindred to destroy a much worse vampire is a great Enemy MineTM situation. Dane is aware that vampires aren't fond of their kind being as overt as well as attention getting as Jean so, he might be willing to make use of them while also being aware they'll probably turn on him (or vice versa).

    Oddly, Sullivan is remarkably friendly in this book and kind of the better character for it. He encourages the characters to destroy themselves but seems to acknowledge they're people cursed by God rather than demons. He's even aware of Golconda.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-05-2019, 07:57 AM.

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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Dust to Dust part 1



    Dust to Dust holds a special place in my heart as it is the book that caused me to check out V20 and along with Beckett's Jyhad Diary is what sold me on them. While V5 is my favorite edition of Vampire: The Masquerade, V20 is tied with 1st Edition for my second favorite and it's because of books like this. This is because of the amazing work of people like the author here. Which is interesting because I actually think DtD isn't the greatest. It has a special place in my heart but I'm not blind to the module's flaws. I admit, nostalgia plays a big role in this work, but I also really enjoy "Where are they now?" stories.

    The premise of the module is that Gary, Indiana has continued along for the past twenty years since that fateful New Years Eve party in 1991. Unfortunately, what was a city on the brink on collapse has become a city that has collapsed and there were no vampires to rescue it from urban decay. Most of the Gary vampires, which weren't that many to begin with, moved out even in victory Modius managed to find himself facing defeat.

    Basically, the final nail in Gary's relevance (for Kindred at least) was the death of Prince Lodin. Modius managed to outlive his archenemy (though not really as we learn in Chicago by Night 5E). The problem with that is that without Lodin to enforce an edict on no new neonates, there was no reason to go to Gary whatsoever. Modius may have been nobody but he was a nobody with enemies before and there were people who'd give him the time of day. Without Lodin, Modius had nothing to get others to return his phone calls--probably not even his sire.

    It's implied to be the same for Juggler as well. I'm kind of saddened we don't get more information on his fall but it's stated that he made "compromises" with both the Camarilla and Sabbat that resulted in him losing all of his credibility with the Anarchs. Later in V5, it's stated that Juggler also attempted to make a play for Prince of Chicago but it fizzled out miserably when no one was willing to actually fight for him.

    The Fall of Juggler

    My inclination is the fact that Juggler tried to win support the old fashioned way with Patricia Bollingbrook behind him but she got Beckoned, Juggler was willing to be "prince" rather than make an Anarch Free State, tried to get the Sabbat to raise hell, and planned to sacrifice a lot of Anarch lives in the process. My inclination is that this resulted in Anita Wainwright taking over the Anarchs from him and Gengis (of all people) calling him out. It also resulted in Damien becoming disillusioned with the Anarch movement as a whole. If Juggler, their leader, could be no different than a Prince then why bother? Maybe the PCs of the 1st and 2nd Edition Baptism by Fire were also involved--maybe not.
    Either way, Modius and Juggler ended up being each other's only friends in a weird Homer Simpson/Monty Burns sort of way. The two ripped into each other on a regular basis and it actually managed to make each other's days better. IMHO, both Allicia and Evelyn had escaped by this point so that makes their relationship even more important. Without Lodin, they have no enemies and a good enemy is better than a friend to most vampires for justifying them getting out of the coffin every night. Inevitably, Modius eventually won one of their insult contests because Juggler is a Brujah and Modius is a Toreador--the latter will always have the edge in verbal sparring. Even with "Yo Mamma" to fall back on.

    So Juggler frenzied.

    Because of course he did.

    Modius and Juggler had knock-down, drag out, supervillain brawl in the middle of the streets that would have broken the Masquerade utterly if not for the fact there was no one to watch for blocks. Eventually, it's stated that Modius managed to beat Juggler but not into torpor (and the two actually only did superficial damage to one another). Their fight stopped mostly because Juggler ran out of juice but also the realization they'd been fighting in literal ruins for hours. What started as a battle became an inspiration as the two of them realized that without a city to fight over, they didn't have ANYTHING and needed to have a plan to revitalize the city.

    Which needs other vampires.

    I'm giving all of this backstory because, for better or worse, the relationship between Juggler and Moidus is actually the best part of this book. The Giovanni ritual to make a Zombie City and Jean Lisle the Wight parts are kind of "funny in a Bloodlines Boss Battle" sort of way but I really think the module's meat is here.

    Juggler vs. Modius' Plans

    The book gives Modius the shaft again by not really detailing any plans for him but I think there's quite a bit of potential by having the player characters have an option of choosing between two detailed but consistent "Kindred plans."

    Juggler's plan is to Embrace the fact that Gary, Indiana is not necessarily a city anymore as people define it but a highway with fast food, gas station, strip clubs, gambling parlors, and the like all along it as the "heart" of the city. These are places that people can be fed from with impunity and then go along their merry way never to be seen again (or not go along their merry way). I call this the "From Dusk Til Dawn" plan and am not entirely disinclined to think Juggler was inspired by the Tarantino movie. In real life, this is pretty much what happened to Gary and is continuing to do so.

    Modius' plan is not spelled out but in my games, I had him realize that Chicago was only 30 minutes away and if he couldn't beat Lodin in a contest of cities then he could beat them as a infection inside a host. Like New York and New Jersey, the urban sprawl are not so terribly far apart that you can't actually just walk between the two places before sunrise. Modius plan would be to make communities alongside the Gary and Chicago border as well as Lake Michigan that would slowly expand Modius' powerbase as well as giving Kindred gated community territories. This happened on Gary's beachline actually so isn't entirely unbelievable either.

    Modius' idea is that if he can't be Prince of Chicago then he might as well be a Duke and "Prince of the Suburbs" isn't so bad a position to be in. It would be premium new territory for Kindred and far enough from the centers of power that he could get away with it. But both Kindred need others of their kind to invest--not just money and Disciplines but simple respect since no one will trust either of them.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-05-2019, 07:23 AM.

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  • CTPhipps
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    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
    The Sabbat pack in this adventure reminds me of the titular Lost Boys, or Toecutter's gang from Mad Max. They're interested in causing mayhem for the lulz, and not for any higher purpose. To them, being vampires is FUN, and will follow anyone who keeps finding fun stuff for them to do.

    This is why I like CTPhipps's retool of the adventure. The pack follow with Jefferson because driving a Camarilla Ancillae nuts is a good time...for a while. But when it goes on for an extended period of time, requires a great deal of coordination, and often leaves them sitting and waiting until Neally shows signs of cracking, it gets old. As the plan goes on, the pack should be getting bored. The PCs may get involved in the pack's shenanigans simply because they're looking for something else to do, and these PC Neonates seem like they could be fun (one way or another).

    And I do agree, Jefferson's fixation on a mortal woman should be a major point of contention. Revenge is perfectly reasonable, as far as Sabbat mentality is concerned, but love of a mortal is practically obscene. There should be moments in the story where members of the pack start accusing Jefferson of "going soft". Especially if Jefferson tries to convince Emily to become a vampire, and she refuses. Jefferson gets put into a tough situation, because he's either reluctant to turn her against her will, or at the very least reluctant to subject her to the creation rites. And the rest of the pack knows he might not have the stomach to turn her or let her go through being buried (un)alive.

    One way the PCs could resolve the situation is playing the pack against Jefferson. Convince them that he needs to be taken down or abandoned (more likely, since leaving doesn't violate their Vaulderie), or even "re-educating" Jefferson, "for his own good".
    This is pretty much my thinking, 100%

    I also have a note that this could actually be less Final Death-y than other Sabbat adventures potentially. The Sabbat here are perfectly willing to engage in the PCs and rumble but aren't here on orders, just helping out a pack mate with a personal project. The Sabbat for all of their claims to freedom are a military and know what kind of hell that will rain down on them if they expose the operations of the Sabbat going on in Chicago (which may lead to being ordered to destroy the PCs if Phillipe gets involved). It could also result in Jefferson turning on his own pack if they decide that, yes, they just need to kill Emily and diablerize Neally.

    In that case, they'll probably have to destroy him and the PCs may have a very interesting question of what to do with him afterward if they kill or drive off his pack.

    So yes, there's a lot of good that can be done RPGing wise if you cut the strings and let Jefferson potentially lose.

    Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
    The only thing I found interesting about Blood Bond is that the Sabbat as portrayed here are all about FREEDOM. Very different than the Sabbat we'll be introduced to in CbN or in the original Guides. These are like Anarchs, but even more so. In terms of the game, this a nomadic pack that is firmly on the Loyalist faction. But which does make it strange they are associated with Jefferson since he is so much more evil.

    I completely agree with your write up. This is extremely railroady, and I consider it unplayable. Taking the main points of the scenario, and simply running it as a sandbox with the PCs thrown in, like you do here, is probably the only way it could be done.
    No, I agree and considered making him lesser in his three Disciplines even moreso but I think there's a Peter Pan/Hook quality there that he's the only person Sheriff outright fears among the Anarchs.

    You're completely right otherwise.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-01-2019, 09:22 PM.

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