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[V5] [WIR] The Chicago Folios - Completed 9/19/2020

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  • CTPhipps
    started a topic [V5] [WIR] The Chicago Folios - Completed 9/19/2020

    [V5] [WIR] The Chicago Folios - Completed 9/19/2020

    Hey folks,

    I admit I have been waiting for this for some time. I was an initial backer of CHICAGO BY NIGHT's Kickstarter and it is a major reason that I returned in full force to Vampire: The Masquerade. Beckett's Jyhad Diary had brought me back after a ten year absence but the characters of Chicago are some of my all-time favorites. They're as close to me as Luke Skywalker and Frodo are to other fans.

    One of the things I loved about CBN5E's Kickstarter was that it succeeded enough to have two supplement books added to it. As much as I love V5, I have to say it has been a bit dry on the content side. This is because they've been exploring multimedia options but every additional book is something I appreciate. There's still a lot of subjects ranging from the Sabbat to the Tzimisce and Ravnos that still need to be covered.

    As of this post, LTTSRR hasn't been released but it seems close and it seems like a good time to crack open my physical copy of TCF and review it. I hope people will join me in this WIR as well as share their own thoughts on characters as well as concepts. I also welcome commentary as well as criticism or discussion of points.

    FYI - Starting commentary but the guy on THE CHICAGO FOLIOS has no respect for the Masquerade. Wait until they're in an alley!

    The Chicago Folios

    Modern Times (Fiction)

    The Camarilla

    Introduction and The Camarilla
    The Once and Future King, Bottom Rung, and I Live with Bread Like You
    The Tortoise and the Hare, Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf, and In and Out
    Iron Fist: Velvet Glove, Fountain of Knowledge, Long Live the Prince
    From the Ground Up, Grindstone, and Impresario
    Good evening Nightwalkers, Nightwalking
    Barroom Brawl and Handling Gengis
    The Unfortunate Embrace, More Complicated than it seems, and Shut it Down
    Chance Encounters with Hunters and Beware the Huntsmen
    Dearest Club Member and Exclusive Invitation
    Help for Hire - Warehouse Rebuilding, Seeking Employment

    The Anarchs

    The Anarch Account
    Beckoning Whispers and Reopening a Cold Case
    Outrunning the Past and a Desperate Rescue
    Flowers in the Garden, The Lilies, and Words from the Blood
    Changeling Allegiance, An Explosive Entrance, Flames Spread
    Boyce's Advice and An Anarch May look at the Prince
    Mendoza is Dead and Mixing it Up
    The List of Ten, Who Made the Deal?, What Would Tyler Do?
    Revenge is Sweet, The Plan, The Attack
    The Traditions: A Feminist Perspective, At the Rant, About the Data Stick

    Independent and Mortal Perspectives

    Independents and Mortals
    Bad Medicine, Light Up The Night, Surgical Strike
    Unholy Autopsy, Factory Farmed Fangs, and Captured!
    Oh Brother and an Errant Childe
    Severed Ties, Whizzkid, and Opportunity Knocks
    Waking Nightmares and Haunted House

    Heretical Threats and Observations

    Heretical Threats and Observations
    Church of Caine, Divine Intervention, Our Brother's Keeper, and Rebuilding the Church
    Joshua Tarponski by Ruthven
    Joshua Tarponski rebuttal
    The Church of Set and Eating its Own Tail
    The Black Water, Auguries, Snatch and Slash
    The Ashfinders, The Most Dangerous Game, The Little Village Inferno, Reign of Ashe
    The Seven Fires
    The Bahari
    The Cult of Mithras
    The Cult of Shalim


    Banu Haqim
    Ventrue part 1
    Ventrue part 2


    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3


    Love be an Anarch (adventure)
    On the Way to Ford's Theater (adventure)
    Joliet Corrections Center (location)
    The Fate of Lorraine (NPCs)
    Human Resources (adventure)

    WIR Links

    Anarchs Unbound
    Beckett's Jyhad Diary
    Chicago by Night 5th Edition
    The Chicago Folios
    The Gary Chronicles
    Project: Twilight
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 03-03-2021, 12:51 PM.

  • CTPhipps
    Co-posted with the Discussion thread despite normally not allowing that:

    The Chicago Folio Final Thoughts

    Overall, I think this is a really solid supplement that reminds me a bit of the old Succubus Club one for 3rd Edition. That was a collection of short adventure hooks as well as Chronicles for the player characters to experience. As such, it's kind of split between this and LET THE STREETS RUN RED but this has an excellent collection of NPCs to supplement it.

    I felt like the Anarch section of the book was the best part and I'm a bit biased there. However, I really enjoyed giving them the kind of attention they deserved. There's a lot of things that can change the status quo of the main game like the death of Genghis, the discovery of the List, and the decision for the Anarchs to go a lot more militant by destroying a major Kindred business. Honestly, I'm inclined to think that if the Anarchs (as is) go to war with Kevin Jackson, it'll just result in their complete destruction.

    Right now, Duncan MacTavish aside, they are in a seriously weakened state and at their most divided. It doesn't help that Critias is toadying to Jackson despite their 2500 year age difference. I also like the somewhat more nuanced portrayal of Kevin Jackson's rule in this book. Chicago V5 showed that he's arguably the most powerful Prince that has ever existed in Chicago, dwarfing Lodin's control over the city due to having a weak Primogen and Helena's full support with no Menele to oppose him.

    This book shows that he's alienating allies like the Wolf Pack, though, and also has his subordinates refusing to obey his orders like "Kill Al Capone." I actually think the fact that they didn't do it is more a sign of KJ's weakness than Al's actual threat to his regime. Al never was KJ's enemy the way he is Ballad's. It's only KJ who thought they were (probably because I can't imagine Al being the most respectful to KJ given his historical racism and treatment of rivals).

    The book provides a write-up for a Ravnos in 2020 and also a way to use the Sabbat in-miniature that I think are desperately needed things that make the book a "must buy" even though it's only a single write-up and short section. The Seven Fires are relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things but they EXIST and give us our first real information on the state of the Black Hand outside of the Middle East.

    The NPCs were well-done with most of them being extremely believable and not too overpowered. While they did add a couple of Elders to the story, the majority were just a diverse collection of Neonates or Ancilla that can have a variety of interactions with the PCs. I mentioned I wish they had updated Joshua Tarponski fully but the Wolf Pack and Al Capone are enough. I think Lianna Miller, Mateo, Devin Boyce, and Zal are the standouts. Devin Boyce and the Parkie Boys, in particular replaces the Nihilists from Chicago 1st and 2nd Edition, with "rowdy but kind of dumb Anarchs in need of PC help. Zal is the perfect LI for my PCs because, well, Goth girl Caitiff.

    The Loresheets were fine.

    I think the Ritual section actually was VERY needed for this game and the fact its here is kind of strange but important. It makes this book even more of a must buy.

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  • CTPhipps

    The last portion of the book and one which I don't have much to say about is a collection of Thaumaturgical rituals that are adaptations of ones from the original Chicago by Night supplements as well as some original ones. This is an interesting part of the book since, as far as I can tell, this is the only place in the V5 line so far that ANY Thaumaturgical Rituals have been described. [Edit: Correction, there's plenty in Cults of the Blood Gods but that hasn't technically been released yet.]

    It's not exactly a supplement but it works.

    And with that, THE CHICAGO FOLIO is done!

    Thanks for everyone following me to the very end.

    The End

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  • CTPhipps
    Loresheets part 3 of 3

    The Pony Express

    I always wondered why the V5 writers decided to make the Camarilla ditch cellphones and other modern technology. Part of it was brought home by John Wick, of all things, where they had pneumatic tube systems and old fashioned telephone operations lines. Just the visual and weirdness of it made the Camarilla justified. The Pony Express is another cool thing and I think it's going to be the basis of Night Road that's coming out next week.

    Sheriff Damien

    I love Damien as a villain of V:TM and his betrayal was one of the few genuinely shocking moments I've felt in serialized fiction. At least for RPGs. This basically is a standard mentor Loresheet where you get access to him, his contacts, and his music if you help him. There's a bit of irony here because Damien thinks it's his job to protect "his own" now but except for Kathy Glens, Damien doesn't have any friends and he's actively persecuting the Anarchs who looked up to him as a hero.

    The Wolf Pack

    The final loresheet is you being a member of the Wolf Pack, perhaps fallen away from the group but still able to wear the Patches. You're not an Archon but you are a member of the gang and thus Archon adjacent. That provides you a lot more cover than you might normally possess as a hard drinking, hard fighting Gangrel. Mind you, it's not nearly as much cover as you might have possessed when the Gangrel Clan was still part of the Camarilla.

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  • CTPhipps
    Loresheets part 2 of 3

    Khalid al-Rashid

    This is actually less interesting as a loresheet and more for explaining what exactly happened to our perpetually Humanity 1 Golconda seeker. It seems very likely that Khalid didn't just go to the Middle East like so many others believed him to but actually may have been murdered by Nerissa Blackwater. Say what you will about Khalid but he was a faithful Muslim (just terrible at following its dictates) so I see no chance he would have accepted any bargain with the followers of Lilith at Lake Michigan. Perhaps in a martyr's death he may have found the peace he so desperately desired.

    Kindred Dueling

    This is another odd man out of the Loresheets. I don't think there's any hint of kindred dueling in any of the adventures here. However, it's a cool enough concept for Kindred to enjoy and adds to the somewhat aristocratic decadent feel of the Camarilla. They're back to the old school Dark Ages rules. Pre-Thorns.

    Malkavian Family

    This is a Loresheet I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. You are part of Son's coterie of Malkavians and that strikes me as so awful that no one would think this a good idea to take. Bronwyn?
    Certainly. Son? Fuck no. Even the Loresheet seems to think this is the case since most of the benefits are about avoiding Son's wrath and having someone who is powerful enough to keep him from screwing up your life.

    Occult Artifacts

    You have a magical item, which is pretty cool. I do find it weird it says only Tremere and Banu Haqim, though. Surely it's possible for them to gift your character with one of their strange artifacts.

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  • CTPhipps
    Loresheets part 1 of 3

    Loresheets are something that I've felt were a good addition to the game but are basically just Merits with a lot more backstory to them. I also feel like they're something confusing since you're really only supposed to take one specific level of them.


    A solid loresheet that allows you to be one of the Camarilla's direct agent in the city. Being an Archon is a pretty big leap for player characters at creation but in the diminished Camarilla, it may actually be plausible. The Wolf Pack is a Camarilla Archon group but with no Justicar to back them, they're in a weird gray area of authority and no authority.

    Convention of Chicago

    I feel like this Loresheet is just confusing as I have no idea what Convention this is referring to and feel like it would have been a bigger deal in CBN5E if it was something I missed. There's apparently a full-blown CONCLAVE that succeeded but I have no idea what they discussed, what legislation they passed, or what qualifies as a success.

    Descendant of Menele

    This is an obvious one even if Menele is now in Carthage or some other part of the Middle East. One of the things I do like about this is the fact that it makes clear Critias wasn't the only vampire Menele was mentally dominating. There's an entire bunch of enlightened, sophisticated, and humane vampires who were his mind-slaves. I like that. It makes you wonder if Menele thought he was doing them a favor.

    Goblin Roads

    I wrote an entire short story about a Malkavian Goblin Driver in "Year of the Road" and I suggest people check it out. The Goblin Roads are just the most 1st edition, 20th Anniversary idea ever, IMHO. That between Milwaukee and Chicago there's this Outer Limits-esque stretch of land where the laws of physics and realitry goes completely out the window. I approve.


    I'm not sure why the loresheet for Justicar Lucinde is here. She's not tied to any of the characters in the Chicago Folio. However, this allows you to buy a slot as an Alastor, which I think is an even bigger deal than the Archon status you can purchase.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 09-18-2020, 09:54 PM.

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  • CTPhipps
    Very solid interpretation, Grumpy.

    I'm inclined to think, in retrospect, Gabriel Alphonse Capone should have died at the hands of the Second Inquisition as a suitably grandiose way of bringing the threat of the organization to the heart of Chicago while also tying up loose ends. He's too big of a character to ignore in Chicago but I also feel he represents the past of the V:TM line that has since been moved on from.

    While it would be silly to imagine him going down with a Tommy Gun in a burning building, I also feel like that would be the story that the vampires of Chicago would tell about him. I don't think Kevin Jackson killing him really has the same "oomph" that the SI doing it would and there's few other vampires I think would have resonance for it.

    Maybe diablerie by Olaf One-Eye and that's why he's regained (some) of his faculties.

    Sadly, I can't think of an Anarch who could have pulled it off.

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  • Grumpy RPG Reviews
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
    I'd love to hear your thoughts about Al Capone's survival and character, Grumpy RPG Reviews
    Capone is too big to ignore.

    Capone is arguably a perfect vampire in the setting, and at once almost comical as a vampire. A violent criminal who destroyed many lives, Capone thematically makes a great vampire, a kind of American thematic answer to Dracula. He is also utterly part of the culture and history of Chicago.

    On the other hand, having Capone as a vampire in the setting can feel a bit like having Lestat de Lioncourt as a vampire in the game as a Toreador – it is a bit too on the nose. And of course he is a legacy NPC, one left over from first edition. Keeping Capone around is problematic, but having him die or just disappear would be a waste of a character.

    Perhaps the best use of Capone is as a background figure which slowly emerges into the existence of the PCs, as a patron who tries to rope them into his growing war with Ballard. Even after the party meets him – which should take a long time – Capone should never be identified as Capone. Determining his identity should be entirely in the hands of the PCs.

    I also like the think the vampire Capone serves as a vector for syphilis.

    Edt: I just remembered that one of the old books, probably CbN 2nd, had a plot hook involving Capone potentially seeking Golconda. That, Capone the vampire gangster, seeking redemption, would have been an interesting take on the character.
    Last edited by Grumpy RPG Reviews; 09-18-2020, 09:16 PM.

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  • CTPhipps
    Ventrue part 2 of 2

    Amelia Locke

    Amelia Locke is a "new and improved" version of Joseph Peterson in my view, a bit like the second Ventriloquist. Joseph Peterson is the kind of smarky smug little git that you can imagine is probably on Pentex's RED Network in the World of Darkness ever since he got fired from the Princedom in Chicago. The fact he shares a name with Jordan Peterson also makes associations that may not have been intended originally but fit perfectly with the kind of Roger Stone and Roger Ailes-esque character he was intended to be all along.

    Amelia Locke is an interesting contrast to that being effectively a good deal more like Lois Lane rather than the embodiment of Right Wing tabloid journalism that benefits the Masquerade. She's a genuine reporter and that is something that adds an interesting layer to Joseph Peterson as you wouldn't think he'd actually be interested in something like that. She's also a lesbian which is not really worth mentioning except for the fact that it does reflect on her mortal days as well as how it might influence her opinions.

    Amelia is a good character that I can see the PCs dealing with and at the start of adventures. She's still a cold blooded Ventrue and I'm sure has killed a few stories in her time but there's the benefit of her being on the outs with the Prince now. Kevin Jackson is nasty to anyone who even has a whiff of opposition to him and poor Amelia had nothing to do with her sire's ill-fated run for Prince (despite being manifestly unsuited for it).

    Milena Aronyan

    I have to say that while I bought The Chicago Folio to get Al Capone, Milena Aronyan is my favorite character in the book. I just love the idea of a Ventrue plumber and think she's easily the most entertaining character in the book. I also love that she's the childe of Alan Sovereign, too. Like Amelia Locke and Joseph Peterson, Embracing Milena actually enriches their sire because it makes them less of a stereotype.

    Alan Sovereign as the closest-thing to a "real life" version of the Clock King respecting a self-made working class immigrant woman building a successful business from scratch reflects interestingly on a vampire WASP who has never met a law he couldn't break in order to make an extra buck. It also influences her in the fact that Milena has an entirely wrong image of the Camarilla because she actually is the American Dream rewarded versus betrayed--at least from her perspective.

    I also note that Milena has a "Project Mayhem" network of janitors across the city that give her access to any building she wants as well as information. They're also pragmatic people who aren't organized crime but are exactly the kind of people who Al Capone would have recruited in his heyday as they're willing to kill to get ahead for themselves as well as their families. It's just that they are Eastern European rather than Italian. She's not a "good" person but is better than most.

    Sadly, she's completely misread Kevin Jackson as she thinks he'll be more egalitarian than most Ventrue versus being MORE conservative to preserve his power. Kevin Jackson has to be twice the Ventrue to get half as far.

    Tatyana Makarova

    Not much to say about her, she's Amelia Locke's lover and a fighter pilot who looks like an old woman. A very unique character but one I don't quite know how to use.

    Last edited by CTPhipps; 09-18-2020, 03:35 PM.

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  • CTPhipps
    Originally posted by Pleiades View Post
    I thought we were done using real life figures, smh
    Al was one of the earliest vampires in the series, showing in CBN 1st Edition.

    Not quite as old as Ballard or the Gary crew but close to it.

    And yes, his Broken BaseTM reception is explicitly due to being such a famous figure.

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  • Pleiades
    I thought we were done using real life figures, smh
    Last edited by Pleiades; 09-18-2020, 03:08 PM.

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  • CTPhipps
    I'd love to hear your thoughts about Al Capone's survival and character, Grumpy RPG Reviews

    Leave a comment:

  • CTPhipps
    Ventrue part 1 of 2

    This is the end! At least of the NPC section. I will say that they saved the best for last.

    Al Capone

    Honestly, this entry is like 90% of why I bought this book.

    Al Capone is a character that breaks a lot of bases among vampire players and has since his first appearance. He's pretty cool to have as a character when you're 14 years old and are doing your first bit of STing but he's a character that feels increasingly silly to have as you get older. After all, why would the Camarilla allow one of Chicago's most famous citizens stay in his original hidey-hole and engage in the exact same activity as before. Maybe Elvis could get away with being his own impersonator in Graceland but you'd think that was a terrible idea all round and probably why he was staked and beheaded in my games (Elvis, not Al Capone).

    However, Al Capone is a character that is iffy because he's actually the kind of person who would have thrived in vampire society. He's a thug and a killer but also a guy who knew how to play the games of politics, power, and social justice. If not for the fact the book says he looks like his "classic" appearance, I could also say that he could get away with being a vampire because like Bela Lugosi (a Toreador Embraced by Ed Wood in my games), he wouldn't look like his heyday but an old syphilis-ravaged man.

    V5 actually redeems Al Capone here by addressing the primary problems with the character head on. He's a guy who can't go out in public and who can't hold the mob under his rule without people spotting him. Al is also a guy who the Camarilla has declared a Blood Hunt against because his very existence does violate the Masquerade and he has too many political enemies to press the issue. The Italian mob is a shadow of its former self, too, so it's not like he has the influence necessary to make his problems go away either.

    I also believe the Special Affairs Division (SAD) would crap themselves with joy (it's possible, or so I hear) if they discovered not only Al Capone was a vampire but that they were the ones to finally cap him. It would be their greatest achievement and something they would constantly bring up at Second Inquisition water coolers. Indeed, if anyone is the one to finally put a stake in old Al then it's my recommendation of William Shepherd versus someone like Sullivan Dane or Gregory Stephens. Bonus points for hunting him down via forensic accounting.

    But for the time being, someone who funded Kickstarter bought Al Capone's fate and decided to let him live. It's like that 1900 number that DC comics set up to see if fans wanted Robin to die or not. Al was spared by popular demand and if I'd bought Al Capone's fate, I would have done the same thing. Al is just TOO INTERESTING of a character to die off-handedly and if he did die, it should be at the hands of the PCs at the end of a Chronicle.

    Even so, Al's prospects aren't great. The new Al Capone is living like Osama Bin Ladin in Pakistan with complete isolation save from what I presume to his most loyal followers and brainwashed minions. He's living underneath a hostile Prince, the Anarchs hate him, and I've mentioned the Second Inquisition would absolutely love to kill this guy. Any sane vampire would skedaddle (there's a word I don't use often) and it's not like Al Capone would be the kind of guy you'd look for in, say, Kansas City or Spokane. Maybe Florida if he needs familiar climates.

    But vampire Al Capone isn't a quitter.

    I also like what it says about how tenuous Kevin Jackson's reign really is that all it took for the richest and most powerful of his opponents in the city to get away from a sting was just to bribe his most trusted scourge. If KJ had sent the Wolf Pack after Al instead of his "personal" assassin, Al would be dead. Personally, Al Capone doesn't have many options but if he were to escape from this permanently, I'd have him seek out Erzulie and have a little Vicissitude applied.

    Either way, when he DOES bite it, it needs to be to this song.

    Last edited by CTPhipps; 09-18-2020, 03:00 PM.

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  • CTPhipps
    Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
    I can see Canty being brought in to Chicago Tremere circles, but mostly so they can pump him for information about the Sabbat, Tremere antitribue, and the Lasombra. His prospects beyond that become dim, however.
    An Anarch Tremere is already a hard sell in Chicago. A RELIGIOUS Anarch Tremere might as well be a White Howler in a Black Spiral Den.

    Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post

    What you did there, I see it.

    I mean, given Bartelby's object of obsession...
    It's funny because the "Cult of the Bloody Tongue" is a major antagonist in MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP. A campaign I just finished recently.

    In any case i like Bartelby and he is the kind of Tremere character I might have made. For all that "most" Tremere are bookish wizards of the Hermetic take on magic, the clan should have members who work support in some manner. That is there should be room for Tremere characters whose work make the standard Tremere possible. Bartelby is such a vampire, someone who gets them items, books and information even if he is not much of a magician himself. That everyone dislikes him is just a nice touch.
    One of the tricks of making a good NPC isn't just making them cool and interesting but making those that aren't cool or interesting but very useful to a chronicle. Bartelby's Peter Lorre-esque quality is something that makes him stand out from the many other beautiful and terrifying vampires out there. Also, "sneaky Tremere jerkass who isn't very powerful or connected" is actually a very useful guy as an antagonist as the player characters can fight against him without necessarily bringing down the Pyramid or what's left of it.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 09-18-2020, 02:40 PM.

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  • Grumpy RPG Reviews
    I can see Canty being brought in to Chicago Tremere circles, but mostly so they can pump him for information about the Sabbat, Tremere antitribue, and the Lasombra. His prospects beyond that become dim, however.

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