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

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  • #61
    Baptism by Fire part 1

    Forged in Steel concludes with the single most important adventure in the history of Vampire: The Masquerade. It is the first example of "how to play" that changed the nature of gaming for me and many other player characters. The actual game itself is not so important but what it represents and that is hard to convey in words. Nevertheless, I'll try and explain why Baptism by Fire is the greatest adventure idea of all time.



    It's the adventure about nothing.

    No, seriously, that's the best part about BbF. It is a adventure where nothing happens. It is the ULTIMATE adventure where nothing happens and defined V:TM for me. The premise is a bunch of vampires get together for New Years Day and hang out for about four hours then the adventure ends with an invitation to go meet another vampire. It is an amazing because it perfectly encapsulates the ethos of V:TM in that the adventure is the fact you're playing a vampire. That, by itself, is interesting enough to sustain the premise. It's no wonder LARPS became popular with V:TM (they existed before) because it's a perfect model for them.

    "Show up at the Succubus Club/Prince's Court/Annabelle's Party and talk with the eccentric cast of weirdos within."

    Modius invites the player characters to attend his New Years Eve party in his crumbling mansion, the player characters meet the Kindred of Gary, one of the players gets laid, you can possibly have Sullivan Dane watching the party (which I can't find in the actual adventure but I swear has happened three or four times in all of the games I've played), Juggler crashes the party with Evelyn, and then Annabelle shows up to tell the PCs they have to go meet with Lodin.

    The game opens with the player characters acquiring a meal and I think V5 was correct that this is something that almost everyone overlooks in a game but can be a source of great interest. You can tell a lot about how a character is supposed to be run with how they acquire their meals. When I first ran this game, this is what we got:

    * A vampire feeds on muggers that he courts by walking around bad neighborhoods and searching for the worst of the worst.
    * A vampire feeds on his girlfriend (he has six)
    * A vampire feeds on the employees at his accounting firm that he runs where everyone is perpetually sleepy and overworked.
    * A vampire feeds on the Homeless and leaves them a couple of hundred each time.

    Each of these little bits of information is a great potential source of knowledge for our characters. I'm glad Mark Rein Hagen opened this adventure with this bit because it'd never be better otherwise. However, it's weird to say but for the majority of games that I've run, the vast majority of player characters have to be updated in order for me to find out how they feed. A lot of players don't really give much thought into the process and that's a shame. It's just a thing that the vampires are never built for unless prompted. Usually, it's either animals or beautiful women and it's a shame really.


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

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    • #62
      Baptism by Fire part 2

      Modius' Mansion

      For Modius' mansion, I always try and draw inspiration from The Munsters or Addam's Family to an extent except highlight that this isn't deliberate. Modius' place is really the kind of place you can go hog wild on describing what a cariacture of a rich person's mansion it is. Generally I use this general combination of describing it.

      * Leaky Pipes when not outright rusted to complete disuse
      * Rats (not necessarily a bad thing for vampires)
      * Peeling wallpaper
      * Creaking floorboards
      * Water damage
      * Norman Bates stuffed birds and animals because Modius actually thinks that's never going to go out of style
      * Leaky Roof (Modius has pans, don't worry!)
      * Gas Lamps (potentially dangerous)
      * Flickering lights (maybe replaced by candles)
      * Cheap Walmart-bought food since it's not going to be eaten anyway (Cheetos, Kraft and Cheese cracker packs, 2 liters of generic cola, and maybe one really nicely done casserole for any ghouls that show up by Danov)
      * A nonfunctioning televison set from the 1970s when Modius still had it good
      * Really shitty original paintings by Modius and some actually once-valuable ones that are now too damaged to be resold. These were gifts from Annabelle.
      * Modius being a tightass about the Masquerade might hypocritically have plenty of pictures of him and Allicia in the 1930s to 1970s lying around.
      * A book case of first editions that some of which have been stolen (but actually were sold off by Modius to pay for his "lifestyle")
      * An apartment for the two servants that is the only fully functional room in the house and shows signs the two men love each other (and hate Modius).
      * Newspaper on the ground for unclear reasons (Modius is sometimes a messy eater)
      * Flooded basement
      * An actual gramophone that has a decent collection of jazz music and some actual classics (Allicia's collection--she's also on a few of them and this will cause her to cry blood)
      * A completely dead conservatory or completely overgrown one with stray cats living there (also a potential snack source)
      * Two bottles of blood that Modius killed a pair of hobos for that no one really wants to be the first to touch since it's by far not enough for the meeting (he ended up drinking most of them himselves--the bodies are hidden in the cellar).

      There's a lot of fun to be had with just how crappy Modius' haven is yet also strangely compelling. It's a character in its own and the fact it's the home of a guy living just shy of a Nosferatu is something that could be used. I make it so that it's a serious storm hitting the city during the time period because that just makes me think it's appropriate for a "Dark and Stormy Night."

      My theory is that none of the vampires at the party HAVE to show up but they consider it something they WANT to show up for two reasons.

      1. It's the price of doing business in Gary. For a Prince who literally doesn't not care if they kill the Mayor anywhere short of on live television (a rare luxury in the Camarilla), they just have to indulge him for one night. They don't even have to flatter him, they just have to tolerate him trying to impress them.

      2. Quite a few of the vampires actually like each other. It's sometimes difficult to find other Kindred in the city and there's no Elysium so this is a place to catch up and exchange numbers if you absolutely must. You also get to meet any newcomers that have arrived in the last year. Despite the whole "need 100K for every vampire" most vampires would never run into each other if they didn't search for the best vessels and amusements in the same rough area.

      3. A rather nasty fact is that Modius' parties aren't just bad. They're INFAMOUSLY bad and Lucian as well as Danov find them hilarious. They've both attended hundreds of GOOD Toreador parties but it's much more memorable to attend one that goes disastrously wrong. And Modius' always do.

      4. Annabelle doesn't normally show up and shows up maybe once every three years. She doesn't throw New Years Galas due to the fact Maria disappeared at one (or just because everyone is doing them). Still, she likes to check up on her wayward childe even though its increasingly clear he's unsalvagable. Once a year is enough for her. Still, the oft chance of her being there is probably the best time you could ever ask her a favor or get her attention for more than 5 seconds at a time since it's not like anything else is worth staying for. She'll probably only stay an hour anyway and that's out of the novelty of being surrounded by such grotesquery.

      Either way, everyone is here and the smart ones already ate since Modius isn't providing refreshments (which is an infamous faux paux right there).
      Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-17-2019, 02:32 AM.


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

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      • #63
        Baptism by Fire part 3

        I try and pull from the movie Clue for this adventure and I've often spruced up the actual adventure. It's a meeting of strangers and none of them have anything better to do but chat it up for as long as it takes to fulfill their social obligation before they can leave. Basically, everyone is waiting until the grandfather clock chimes midnight and if Modius is feeling particularly high-tech then when the Ball is heard dropping on the radio.

        There's plenty of ways of sprucing up the actual adventure if you want to go off script. I've seen players adapt Baptism by Fire in ways that make it something that isn't a plot about nothing. The most common being that Sullivan Dane is watching the entirety of the party and may have the player character's faces as well as the IDs of other Kindred in the city.

        Here's some potential ways of doing it that I've experimented with or jotted down ideas for:

        1. There's someone taking pictures of the guests at the mansion with a high tech lens that someone may see the flash of or catch a glimpse of. The reporter is either working for Joseph Peterson (working for Lodin) or is actually a normal guy trying to get a photo of Annabelle for the society pages. Modius gives permission to kill the reporter and drain him dry.

        2. Modius decides to be "funny" and has Allicia discover him with a stake through the heart and pretend to have been killed. It's actually driven through his heart and it is meant to test how long they believe he's actually dead. The thing is that Allicia hates him enough that a part of her wants to kill him while he's disabled. You could truly end up with a "who killed the Prince?" scenario.
        Lucian would reluctantly step into the role of temporary Prince.

        3. Modius' two ghouls are lovers that have grown old together in the horror of being enslaved by a madman. They are going to attempt a suicide pact to burn down the mansion and kill their master at some point.

        4. A police officer shows up and is asking about an empty car (Clue reference) that is nearby. Modius has actually kidnapped the family who owns it and is holding them prisoner downstairs as party favors. The police officer actually is Gregory Stephens and wants to quietly rescue them without alerting Modius.

        5. The mansion becomes impossible to leave for some reason. This is because a mage has put a barrier around the place. They are hoping either something else results in violence among the guests or as part of a greater plan. It will disappear in the morning.

        6. Modius is not smart enough to get a Tremere to ward his house or not feed there as a number of ghosts have turned his house into a haunt. Individually, they've just been trying to harrass Modius for decades but now they're strong enough to break through.

        7. An old frenemy of Modius shows up to crash the party from London and spends a good hour minutes laughing his ass off at the circumstances of the Prince. Modius then proceeds to frenzy on the man (possibly with an old baseball bat or golf club) and chase him into the basement. He then calls a Blood Hunt on the Ancilla and offers his blood to whichever Neonate kills him. The other Kindred are horrified but will do nothing to protect the visiting vampire.

        8. Bobby Weatherbottom, in an uncharacteristic display of assholery, decides to SWAT Modius' New Years Day Party and it becomes a potential clusterfuck. Normally Modius has control over the police but this group is outside his control because of re-zoning (that Modius didn't keep up with). Agent Shepard may also know Lucian as an international smuggler.

        9. A visiting Anarch wants Juggler to kill Modius and take the city for the Anarchs. He'll try to encourage the PCs to do it for him as not to piss off Anabelle.

        10. One of Evelyn's friends from high school has tracked her down to try to find her and rescue her from what she assumes is drugs. Juggler is fully capable of Presencing her, taking her up for feeding, and leaving her for dead or dying.

        Any of these could be interesting developments if you want to go a difficult direction with Baptism by Fire as it's a great little toolkit adventure.


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

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        • #64
          Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
          It is an amazing because it perfectly encapsulates the ethos of V:TM in that the adventure is the fact you're playing a vampire. That, by itself, is interesting enough to sustain the premise.
          I agree. A big part of the appeal of the entire WoD to me is that you are trying to navigate the setting and learning about it as a new vampire, werewolf, or whatever. I think the game actually loses something if you put aside mundane humanity as a major obstacle/anatagonist and treat the setting as if it is some kind of high fantasy.

          Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
          Modius invites the player characters to attend his New Years Eve party in his crumbling mansion, the player characters meet the Kindred of Gary, one of the players gets laid, you can possibly have Sullivan Dane watching the party (which I can't find in the actual adventure but I swear has happened three or four times in all of the games I've played), Juggler crashes the party with Evelyn, and then Annabelle shows up to tell the PCs they have to go meet with Lodin.
          It's mentioned in the Shy Michael portion.

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          • #65
            Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
            Any of these could be interesting developments if you want to go a difficult direction with Baptism by Fire as it's a great little toolkit adventure.
            I'm not sure how many of these would add to the actual first adventure. But if for whatever reason the ST wanted the PCs to come back again to Modius's parties every year, they'd be great to spruce things up and make each one memorable.

            One thing about the stake through the chest, is that Modius could stake himself, yet not have the stake actually in his heart. He'd merely look like he's staked, but be completely conscious and active. He'd just be playing dead. That's something which Edgar Allan Poe as Modius might actually do. Like he'd be waiting to see who would mourn for him, and how well they'd do it.

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            • #66
              Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
              I am in some general agreement with your opinion on Modius, but disagree with a lot of specifics.
              Good, I love discussion.

              Lodin is a weak Prince in so far as he is under the thumb of the Primogen. But I don't think he's their puppet. The books make it clear that while Lodin is at a disadvantage versus the Primogen, that he wins a lot of battles. Lodin seems to be a very good politician - he constantly divides the Council so they sometimes vote his way, and he seems to be very effective participating in Conclaves. Lodin is also very persistent - willing to fight a stalemate for years or even decades while waiting for that one opportunity to eliminate his opponent. And Chicago is filled with the rivals he's defeated - Maxwell, Modius, Maldavis, Ventrue of other lineages, Anarchs in general. This doesn't seem like a puppet to me.
              Lodin was notably only about twenty years old when he first became Prince of Chicago. It's not just that he's a weak prince compared to the Primogen but the levels of power that differentiate them is incredible. My view is that Lodin is technically more akin to a Sheriff for much of his reign in that he exists to enforce the Primogen's will. The thing is that the Primogen's will is often divided as they don't agree and Lodin has some wiggle room as a result. Also, by 1992, he's got such a large brood that he controls virtually everything in the city. I'm inclined to think the Anarch Revolt was meant to remind him who was really in charge versus any idea of Maldavis really becoming Prince herself.

              This is a great point, but it is important to remember that Lodin has means available to him to destroy Modius and not have it be worked back to him. So Annabelle's vengeace complicates things, but not an impossible extent. On the other, in the scenario I mentioned, regardless of who has the credit for destroying Modius, Lucian is there to potentially step in.
              I'm inclined to think Lodin might arrange things so Modius is destroyed but he'd prefer to encourage someone else to take the shot for him--classic Elder politics.

              Completely true, but there are always pretexts. As long as Lodin waits for the right opportunity, this obstacle too can be overcome.
              This is true.

              I don't think that's the case. He potentially could pull himself together, but I always gathered that Modius is now a broken shell of the man he once was. His many defeats have left him demoralized. He'd need to go through a serious psychological turnaround before he'd be truly capable of operating in Chicago's ruthless political climate.
              Like I said earlier, I don't think Modius is actually terrible at his job so much as he's suffering some serious Kindred malady of the mind. He still has an incredibly high Politics score and I'm inclined to think that it's mostly Pride mixed with despair that keeps him from being a very dangerous shark. I've enjoyed a few times reminding people that while Modius is a terrible Prince, he's still a personally potent and dangerous Elder. Recovery is unlikely for Modius but not impossible.

              What would inspire him is anyone's guess, though I wouldn't be surprised if it would require someone to fiddle around with his brain with Dominate or Dementation.

              In my Chicago by Night game, I had Son decide to make Modius a project and oddly enough, the sadistic psychopath actually proved a fairly decent therapist for him.

              I too think it's more playacting than real, but for subtler psychological reasons. I don't think there is any real connection between them at all. Instead, I think each of them THINKS they are successfully manipulating the other, and that the other one in reality is serving their own plans. So yes, Modius thinks by tolerating Juggler he is playing a deep game against Lodin, but in truth he's just a weak prince and Juggler won't do anything. And Juggler thinks by challenging Modius publicly, that he can easily demonstrate to the other Anarchs that he's a strong leader. But to do that, he needs Modius to stay as Prince as when he's gone, he can't do that anymore and actually has to do something.

              But neither is as clever as they think they are. I imagine most of their interactions can often be seen as farcical as that between Captain Amazing and Casanova Frankenstein. The first 90 seconds is probably how much of their internal monologue goes
              Good call. In simpler terms, they're about each other's speed as archenemies.


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

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              • #67
                CTPhipps, great thread. I'm planning a Chicago by Night chronicle and plan to revisit Gary. I've been thinking about the ghoul human auctioneer and the events in Rusted Veins. In the original storyline, the ghoul was independent. I'm thinking though, of giving him a connection to the Circulatory System, and using elements of Rusted Veins as an evolving storyline, eventually connecting it to a Hunt Club within the area. I think Son makes the perfect nemesis and central figure for the Hunt Club.

                With regards to Michael's Sire being "unknown", I think Son once again makes for the perfect monster to commit such a sick "prank". I'm thinking of drawing from the accounts of HH Holmes to flesh out Son a bit more, maybe setting up his haven, where he runs his hunts like HH Holmes so called "murder castle". Unfortunately there's no Gordon Keaton around, but he'd make a perfect member of the Hunt Club too, I'm tempted to bring him back for this story line, and have Priscilla ( I think it was Priscilla) as a forced participant, and the weak, and hopefully sympathetic link that leads the players in the right direction.

                My group this time around is large. I've eight players. I think I might need to add to members of the Hunt Club. I'm still thinking on whether to add some canon characters or make a few up on my own that I'll introduce during the course of other events, perhaps one will be a close and trusted mentor of a PC. I think at the climax of the story, the PCs are racing to either save Priscilla, who Son suspects as a rat, or some other Kindred from a hunt that's intended to end with the Amaranth.

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by Ruthven View Post
                  CTPhipps, great thread. I'm planning a Chicago by Night chronicle and plan to revisit Gary. I've been thinking about the ghoul human auctioneer and the events in Rusted Veins. In the original storyline, the ghoul was independent. I'm thinking though, of giving him a connection to the Circulatory System, and using elements of Rusted Veins as an evolving storyline, eventually connecting it to a Hunt Club within the area. I think Son makes the perfect nemesis and central figure for the Hunt Club.
                  Nice combining with Requiem. Elements of Requiem I've incorporated is Ashwood Abbey and Task Force: Valkyre (as a Technocracy front). The Hunt Club is a group that I think would do very well for Camarilla sadism and decadence.

                  With regards to Michael's Sire being "unknown", I think Son once again makes for the perfect monster to commit such a sick "prank". I'm thinking of drawing from the accounts of HH Holmes to flesh out Son a bit more, maybe setting up his haven, where he runs his hunts like HH Holmes so called "murder castle". Unfortunately there's no Gordon Keaton around, but he'd make a perfect member of the Hunt Club too, I'm tempted to bring him back for this story line, and have Priscilla ( I think it was Priscilla) as a forced participant, and the weak, and hopefully sympathetic link that leads the players in the right direction.
                  Random factoid but the cow that caused the Chicago Fire was named Son, so presumably Son is a serial arsonist who helped Lodin murder a bunch of Kindred. I have some ideas for how to update Chicago by Night 1st Edition and 2nd Edition characters to my games. Priscilla was also a character I very much enjoyed.

                  Gordon Keaton: In my games, Gordon actually made contact with the Sabbat and became a member when he heard that the Caitiff were considered equal. It wasn't true, of course, but he became a fairly potent member anyway. He's also begun a relationship with Wendy Wade due to their shared sadism and an unusually strong Vaulderie bond.

                  My group this time around is large. I've eight players. I think I might need to add to members of the Hunt Club. I'm still thinking on whether to add some canon characters or make a few up on my own that I'll introduce during the course of other events, perhaps one will be a close and trusted mentor of a PC. I think at the climax of the story, the PCs are racing to either save Priscilla, who Son suspects as a rat, or some other Kindred from a hunt that's intended to end with the Amaranth.
                  One thing I'd do is simply have some Elders participating with full Fox Hunt wear and you can say that they were told (truthfully or not) that their victims were all murderers, rapists, or otherwise people the world was better off (and hate that their fun was spoiled).

                  Annabelle makes it look so fashionable!


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

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                  • #69
                    Baptism by Fire part 4

                    The actual adventure doesn't really have much in the way of events as we've gone over. Basically, you arrive at Modius' House and I can fully imagine him reciting some Dracula bits to look cultured (unaware that Dracula is no longer quite the popular but not especially noteworthy book that it was in his youth). The player characters have an opportunity to talk with multiple Kindred as events go on: Michael, Danov, and Lucian.

                    You don't have to spruce up these encounters because they're inherently interesting characters to begin with. You can talk about Golconda, politics, and trying to befriend the child-like Malkavian without spooking him. There's also the possibility of chasing off Sullivan Dane (who doesn't want to get into a fight here). The seduction scene with Allicia is probably the most interesting moment in the game for me. If your player characters were anything like mine, the vast majority of them were young straight men interested in the prospect of even fictional sex. So, whether they were interested or not, they were all ready to share blood with her.

                    Later, with my older players, they were more intrigued by the mysterious and dangerous woman. Either way, the whole point of it is to do a "shotgun wedding" where Modius plays the aggrieved party protecting his lady's honor. All in plans of making the player character more likely to be Blood Bound to Modius. This can go very badly and compound the insult to Modius' honor as well as derail the adventure.

                    I'm inclined to believe Allicia is both humiliated and disgusted by this use as Modius' honey pot. It's possible for future adventures that you might encounter her past lovers that were either successfully bound to her (and Modius) or who have broken free but have the mistaken impression she's a willing participant in all this.

                    I'm also of the mind that Modius' plan here isn't actually that smart. Because while the player characters may love Allicia and Allicia loves Modius, that doesn't mean the player love Modius. Indeed, they may be jealous and possessive. Modius is powerful enough to probably allay those feelings with Presence and Dominate but I'm inclined to believe he's equally likely to have destroyed many of these individuals--further making Allicia hate him as well as love him.

                    Eventually, Juggler arrives with his block party designed to infuriate and humiliate Modius during his one time when everyone is paying attention to him. This is a great scene for establishing Juggler because this whole thing is completely pointless and can get the entirety of the human party killed. Juggler certainly doesn't care about that happening and there's absolutely no benefit to any Anarch "Movement" to screwing with Modius. The adventure presumes that the players will try to help the people stay alive but I've known some who would be all about being glad Juggler brought party favors.

                    Evelyn gets her plot hook resolved in this book with Juggler presenting her to Modius and she's reluctantly accepted. Modius may hate Juggler and loathe he's been disrespected but I don't believe he's someone who actually dislikes Embracing new Kindred in his domain. Unlike the vast majority of Princes, Modius craves new subjects and would probably let anyone Embrace if they asked him because a larger population benefits him. It makes him RELEVANT. In my games, he immediately sets out to figure out a way to either Blood Bond Evelyn (impossible) or turn against her sire (unlikely again but it's what he wants).

                    Annabelle proceeds to arrive and she's portrayed as a far classier figure than the majority of Gary Kindred. It's interesting to note she's a representative of the Chicago Kindred. It's a good choice to make her Modius' sire as it not only shows the power of bloodlines but also how far Modius has fallen. This is where the adventure goes a bit off the rails and becomes a bit like the Village of Hommlet. Annabelle is here to inform Modius and the player characters that Prince Lodin wants to meet with them. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it means that the adventure, as published, is incomplete. It's lacking a final scene where the player characters go to meet Lodin and have their encounter with him.

                    We won't get our answers until ASHES TO ASHES.

                    We have now reached the end of FORGED IN STEEL.
                    Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-20-2019, 03:46 AM.


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

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                    • #70
                      One thing about Juggler is that while most PCs will immediately recognize Modius as a pathetic and ridiculous figure (albeit one that is likely more powerful than they are), it is not at all obvious that Juggler is a poor excuse for an Anarch.

                      It should take the PCs many, many game sessions of not only hanging out with Juggler, but also hanging out with other Anarchs before they realize he is all bluster. In the meantime, he is just the classic charismatic bully bad boy.

                      Not only is that something that escapes PCs at first, I'm sad to report that even some STs don't seem to realize it either.

                      One reason is that all of Chicago's Anarchs are pretty damn poor. The Socialists are probably too prone to debating philosophy at this point, and the group around Maldavis have experience defeat and bitter, and don't realize that Uriah is an informant, and that Maldavis is actually a puppet of some of the Primogen. Juggler's band of punks may look good in comparison.

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                      • #71
                        Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                        One thing about Juggler is that while most PCs will immediately recognize Modius as a pathetic and ridiculous figure (albeit one that is likely more powerful than they are), it is not at all obvious that Juggler is a poor excuse for an Anarch.

                        It should take the PCs many, many game sessions of not only hanging out with Juggler, but also hanging out with other Anarchs before they realize he is all bluster. In the meantime, he is just the classic charismatic bully bad boy.

                        Not only is that something that escapes PCs at first, I'm sad to report that even some STs don't seem to realize it either.

                        One reason is that all of Chicago's Anarchs are pretty damn poor. The Socialists are probably too prone to debating philosophy at this point, and the group around Maldavis have experience defeat and bitter, and don't realize that Uriah is an informant, and that Maldavis is actually a puppet of some of the Primogen. Juggler's band of punks may look good in comparison.
                        Agreed.

                        Juggler is a good character because you can play him multiple ways as an Anarch and each of these has potential insights. The way I prefer Juggler is that he's a Anarch who has the desire to appear like he's rebelling but is more interested in ruling over the Anarchs than he is in actually fighting the Camarilla. The quintessential Baron in my view. What they've been doing with Gengis in V5 is pretty similar to what I always did with Juggler. Juggler has a pretty sweet thing going on as leader of Chicago's Anarchs and has position, power, wealth, and cronies. He isn't the kind of guy who would want to throw that all away for challenging Lodin (a fight he'd almost certainly lose).

                        So, I figure Juggler does a lot of the "Anarch pranks" from 1st and 2nd Edition like destroying art and vandalizing Elysium. Stuff that doesn't actually do much than irritate Elders. I've always felt that Lodin is the kind of guy who knows what's a real Anarch threat (Maldavis, Modius) versus a poseur. But one thing I did with Juggler in my games is the fact that just because he's a poseur and willing to talk the talk but not walk the walk, I also think he's pretty damn dangerous--especially to an ambitious coterie.

                        Juggler is fully capable of stomping anyone who threatens his position as Anarch leader, framing them, or sending them out like Uriah the Hittite to be killed. Like, "Go kill Lodin! Its your glorious mission!" Possibly even calling Lodin ahead of time.


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

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                        • #72
                          Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                          Juggler is fully capable of stomping anyone who threatens his position as Anarch leader, framing them, or sending them out like Uriah the Hittite to be killed. Like, "Go kill Lodin! Its your glorious mission!" Possibly even calling Lodin ahead of time.
                          Yes. He's just the criminal element so often found among the "revolutionaries."

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                          • #73
                            Ashes to Ashes part 1



                            I don't have the release schedule for when Ashes to Ashes came out in 1991 but I can't help but think it was meant to be the first product after the rule book, before Chicago by Night 1st Edition, The Succubus Club, and Blood Bond. It is meant as a very clear introductory adventure to a lot of the concepts that would become classics of the setting. There's also bits and pieces that don't quite fit in with the later canon.

                            I don't think this is actually a module and the difference between one of those and a campaign is a nebulous one with ATA falling somewhere in the middle. This is, as it's defined later, a Chronicle that basically can be summarized as, "You will probably have the equivalent of a television series season from the events depicted in this game." Adventure (Episode)--> Chronicle (Season)---> Campaign (Series)

                            Indeed, Baptism by Fire is explicitly described as the first "episode" of this game. There's no Chapter One because Chapter One was included in the main book. I always found that a little weird and think it implies BBF is "cut content" from Ashes to Ashes or they wrote this later but wanted to segue directly from it. There's almost no reference to Modius, Annabelle, or other elements from that game, though so it's almost pointless to connect this to the Gary Chronicles.

                            Almost.

                            The premise of the game is the player characters are wandering into Kindred politics well above their paygrade. It is an adventure that will introduce you to the Elders or Anarchs and help you choose one of those two groups to side with. You will also meet Sheriff and Ballard, who will show themselves to be complete assholes.The backstory of this scenario is actually one that I'm kind of deeply amused by because it's so perfectly encapsulating of Lodin's flaws. It's easy to make a diabolical mastermind who never gets anything wrong but if you're setting up Lodin to be the enemy of your player characters then this is a great game for showing how the PCs could win against him.

                            The premise of the game is Lodin has been captured by his own ghoul, Roarke, who is holding him hostage and planning to feed him to giant ghoul rats. Lodin managed to piss off his equivalent of Mercurio, a ghoul who was absolutely loyal to him as well as a consummate professional, to the point that it broke the Blood Bond. I'd argue it's more likely such a deep and pointlessly motivated betrayal TWISTED the Blood Bond in the same way that love can be turned into hate.

                            I've always preferred to go with the idea the Blood Bond is not absolute. Heather Poe in Bloodlines demonstrates how it is obsessively devoted and slavish emotion-inducing but it's really up to the player to sculpt and mold how a ghoul is likely to turn out. Abuse and forcing them to act against their nature is likely to result in them becoming incredibly degenerate while their own beliefs may cause them to change their interpretation of love. If you somehow manage to ghoul a witch hunter, for example, they may want to destroy you to save your soul. And yes, in my mind, it's possible for pure HATRED to replace the Blood Bond.

                            As Willow said to Buffy, "[Angelus is still like Angel in one way]. All he thinks about is you."

                            What motivates Lodin to betray his ghoul like this? To turn him against him in such a way.

                            The book never says.

                            I think the implications have always been Lodin did it on a whim. It's not that Lodin did a lot of soul searching and decided Roarke had to die because: 1. He knew too much. 2. Roarke had done some terrible offense. 3. Some master plan. It's said he went to Lodin one day and tried to have Roarke killed. The answer probably being that Queen Anne took offense to him not bowing low enough or Lodin just wanted to promote one of his other ghouls to replace him or get someone more in touch with the Modern World.

                            Roarke was furniture.

                            Furniture Lodin felt he could easily replace.

                            A dot of Retainer on a sheet he had plenty of.

                            This really illustrates just how shitty a boss Lodin is. But by this time, Roarke is already over a hundred years old and he's no longer a weak-minded mortal. Even if the Blood Bond could be twisted, his feelings for Lodin even under the Blood Bond are...complex. I really think Ashes to Ashes could have done deeper with it and they actually went pretty deep. This adventure contains a bit where we get to roleplay out a "Upstairs, Downstairs" scene from the perspective of the ghouls.

                            Now if the player characters don't royally fuck up, they have a Life Boon from Lodin and that will lead to a very interesting situation for them if they're Anarchs. It also creates the possibility that the ST can have a vested interest in why Lodin will cut them slack like kings do adventurers. Not because Lodin likes them or is even grateful. Because it would just be BAD FORM for Lodin to kill the people who saved his life.

                            In the TV show Wynonna Earp, Doc Holiday made an excellent speech that I wish I could get a video for. Bobo the Big Bad promised he would deliver the Stone Witch to Doc. When it looks like Bobo is going to back out, Doc reminds him they come from a time when a man's word was binding; and if Bobo backs out of this, even his own men wont be able to trust him to keep promises he made with them.

                            Honor isn't about how good you are, it's whether your men can trust you to pay them.
                            Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-24-2019, 02:02 AM.


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

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                            • #74
                              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                              Not because Lodin likes them or is even grateful. Because it would just be BAD FORM for Lodin to kill the people who saved his life.
                              I don't disagree, but I also think vampire ancille and elders should try to murder their own minions more often. A dead minion is a minion you do not have to pay with money, blood, favors, access to your Netflix account, whatever. And vampires are all assholes. This doesn't have to go so far as Shadowrun in terms of inevitable betrayal, but I can see Lodin trying to arrange to have someone wack the coterie in a way that leaves Lodin's own hands apparently clean.

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                              • #75
                                Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post

                                I don't disagree, but I also think vampire ancille and elders should try to murder their own minions more often. A dead minion is a minion you do not have to pay with money, blood, favors, access to your Netflix account, whatever. And vampires are all assholes. This doesn't have to go so far as Shadowrun in terms of inevitable betrayal, but I can see Lodin trying to arrange to have someone wack the coterie in a way that leaves Lodin's own hands apparently clean.
                                Oh yes, I totally think part of the appeal of Lodin is that he is a complete sonofabitch. I'll get into that in my write-up of him.


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

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