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

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  • Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
    The one major fault that Chicago By Night had was incredibly weird stats for its characters. Many simply did not make sense. Damien is one of those I remember whose stats caused me to scratch my head. He had WAY too many Disciplines. I understood that he was of potent blood, and therefore had the potential to be an extremely powerful vampire should he survive to be elder. But as a neonate, he just had way too many.

    Lots of NPCs in CbN were like that. They were either under powered or over powered for their age in years. It is a case where many STs should just create their own NPC stats on the fly while keeping true to the character concept.
    At least according to V20 (p. 79), a Neonate should have anywhere from 0 to 35 extra experience points to spend. It makes a point of saying they are "Experience Points", not "Freebie Points", so they are subject to the scaling of higher level traits, especially Disciplines.

    Even CTPhipps's spread of 4/4/3 Discipline dots, all in In-Clan Disciplines, seems a bit high in this regard. Even if Damien were given 35 Freebie points, not just EXP, and spent it all on Disciplines, he would still fall short by 3 whole Discipline dots (3 starter plus 5 dots converted from freebies). He really should be lower than that.

    [Edit: I forgot the normal 15 Freebie points a vampire gets at char-gen. Even so, it doesn't give him THAT much more to work with.]

    The only explanation, of course, is that Damien's comparatively short unlife was more "exciting" than an "idle" Neonate of similar age. It would make sense for a Player Character, since their high-activity unlifestyles lead to them getting more unlife experiences (and thus Experience) than those actively avoiding unnecessary trouble. In that case, CTPhipps's spread would be more reasonable, assuming Damien was really active as an Anarch.

    Having read the books long enough ago that my memory is spotty, I don't know if even that 4/4/3 spread is warranted by Damien's stated level of activity. Let alone whatever his actual spread is.
    Last edited by Bluecho; 07-01-2019, 08:13 PM.


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    • 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.

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      • 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.
        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".


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        • Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
          At least according to V20 (p. 79), a Neonate should have anywhere from 0 to 35 extra experience points to spend. It makes a point of saying they are "Experience Points", not "Freebie Points", so they are subject to the scaling of higher level traits, especially Disciplines.

          Even CTPhipps's spread of 4/4/3 Discipline dots, all in In-Clan Disciplines, seems a bit high in this regard. Even if Damien were given 35 Freebie points, not just EXP, and spent it all on Disciplines, he would still fall short by 3 whole Discipline dots (3 starter plus 5 dots converted from freebies). He really should be lower than that.

          [Edit: I forgot the normal 15 Freebie points a vampire gets at char-gen. Even so, it doesn't give him THAT much more to work with.]

          The only explanation, of course, is that Damien's comparatively short unlife was more "exciting" than an "idle" Neonate of similar age. It would make sense for a Player Character, since their high-activity unlifestyles lead to them getting more unlife experiences (and thus Experience) than those actively avoiding unnecessary trouble. In that case, CTPhipps's spread would be more reasonable, assuming Damien was really active as an Anarch.

          Having read the books long enough ago that my memory is spotty, I don't know if even that 4/4/3 spread is warranted by Damien's stated level of activity. Let alone whatever his actual spread is.
          I don't necessarily think that you should ever follow an "average" spread for vampires because in real life you have people who do the same thing over and over again. While other people are very good at learning new things and studying their areas of expertise. I think it's a major part of Damien's character that he's meant to be exceptionally powerful for an Anarch and I sometimes imply that lower generations have an easier time learning new Disciplines but this is just flavor-text on my view.

          Some vampires are just stronger than others and that helps mean that things like PCs are less weird.

          But that's just how I handle it.


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

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          • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

            I don't necessarily think that you should ever follow an "average" spread for vampires because in real life you have people who do the same thing over and over again. While other people are very good at learning new things and studying their areas of expertise. I think it's a major part of Damien's character that he's meant to be exceptionally powerful for an Anarch and I sometimes imply that lower generations have an easier time learning new Disciplines but this is just flavor-text on my view.

            Some vampires are just stronger than others and that helps mean that things like PCs are less weird.

            But that's just how I handle it.
            Yes obviously, vampires vary wildly. It's why we use "average", instead of an absolute rule. And why the values given in V20 p. 79 are a range of numbers, not fixed values. Neonates (that are "idle") have between 0 and 35 experience points, with 35 being on the high end of a spectrum that itself assumes minimal activity. There's even a gap of 40 points in that range between "idle" Neonates and "idle" Ancillae (75 to 220), giving a wide wiggle room.

            It's ultimately up to the Storyteller to decide how experienced a given NPC actually is.

            My contention is that even in the spread YOU gave, Damien's total experience value would come out much higher than the range for a "typical" Neonate that is "idle". Implying he's either more active or has greater potential than his "peers". I leave it up to others to decide which, and run Damien accordingly.


            Comment


            • 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.


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

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              • 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.


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

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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.


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

                  Comment


                  • 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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                    • 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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                      • 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.


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

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                        • 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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                          • 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.


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

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                            • 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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                              • 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.


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

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