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  • #46
    Innocence in Blood 2 [Events] part 2 [Milwaukee by Night]

    Type: Location, By Night Book

    Synopsis: A description of Milwaukee for 5th Edition

    Analysis: This part of the book is basically the cliff notes version of a By Night book and as close as we're probably going to get for an update on Milwaukee for 5th Edition. The thing is that "close as we're probably going to get" is pretty damn close. It's got a lot of the fluff removed but if you have the original Milwaukee by Night city book then this is pretty much all the information you will need to run a successful campaign there. Given MbN is still on sale in POD and PDF form from DriveThru RPG for $9.99, there's also no reason Storytellers can't have access to this information.

    Milwaukee by Night: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...y-Night-WW2105

    Even if you don't have the information, this section also nicely gives you everything you need to know about how to run it for this adventure. It's a broad description of a very interesting domain and has enough material to describe most of the vampires living there. It also gives a rough description of the past twenty years plus the city's previous history. Honestly, while you might be missing a few details, I think you could run a decent chronicle off the paragraph descriptions of the vampires here without even owning the original supplemen. I wouldn't reccommend it versus the alternative but it's a compliment to the writers for mastering brevity.

    Milwaukee Song from Pound Puppies



    So what is Milwaukee like in 5th Edition?

    Milwaukee's Long War against the Lupines and death/suicide of its Prince due to the latter's frenzying with his lover (something a lot of Kindred have histories of I'm sure), resulted in Mark Decker being put in charge of the city per Clanbook: Gangrel Revised. I have the feeling the original book had the idea the PCs might try to be Prince, years before Chicago by Night 2nd Edition but that's obviously not something that can be canonized.

    The book doesn't confirm it but if they established that Mark Decker fought the Sabbat off during the 1999 Crusade and was one of the Gangrel Loyalists (perhaps with a desire to doubly-prove his loyalty to the Camarilla) then a lot of Decker's subsequent actions make sense. He's a soldier unlike the majority of Princes and leads from the front or at least frontlines. Milwaukee is run like a police state because it's in a state of constant war and a harsh hand helps against the threats opposing it.

    Mark's rule is stated to be "Orwellian" but, honestly, it seems this is a bit of an exaggeration. Mark basically says for Kindred not to gather in large groups and to be required to participate in the defense of the city. Yes, he has a "one strike and you're out" policy regarding the Masquerade and "No, Anarchs Ever" but I'm not sure that is a policy most Princes are high up on these days. Perhaps the most telling part of the city's description is the sidebar that says that Milkwaukee is one of the better cities to live in if you're a mortal.

    I would say this is why Mark's rule is probably destined to fail. A Prince does not exist to reign in his subjects, but to cover for their asses. There may not be an organized Anarch movement in his city (and there is, Mark just doesn't know about it) but plenty of people are probably plotting his death. Safety against the Second Inquisition means nothing if a vampire can't murder Kine with impunity. Probably not the lesson I'm supposed to take from here.

    Theme and Mood

    A lot of detail is spared to making sure people understand this is a city with a draconian legal system that actually makes it seem fairer than most Kindred courts. There's actual Judges after all and the law is spelled out fairly quickly. However, so much effort is talked abotu the system for crushing and oppressing Kindred that it also underscores how very little effort is made to really solve the city's systemic problems.

    Mark has no plans for dealing with the Lupines like Kevin Jackson did [making a treaty]. He just plans to keep killing them forever, even though most don't actually die in their dust ups with them and they keep removing lone Kindred. Mark also has not dealt with the FUCKING ELDER WIGHT wandering around his domain. The Null Zone. House Carna. There's also a movement to overthrow him gathering strength.

    Like most dictators, Mark's rule is actually rather fragile and the irony is that the more he oppresses the Kindred in his domain, the less safe they really are. Mark is an Elder and genius warrior but he's apparently a victim of the Peter Principle because he has no real rulership skills other than, "Do what I'm good at [killing people], more and harder."

    It's good for humans but, well, Mark doesn't care about them either.

    Updated Milwaukee Residents

    Some highlights and missing fates:

    * Akawa: Defected from the Anarchs to Decker's service, probably during the 1999 Crusade but now one of the Anubi.

    * Anastasia: Someone who lucked out well given her sire was a Sabbat. She's now one of the Judges and probably has lost that Humanity 9.

    * Barth: Working as Decker's messenger/herald now.

    * Carna: We know has gone off to become leader of her own House. She also murdered the Victor, the assassin who used to work for her.

    * Doctor Mortius: DA DUM. He's doing his own thing as of Cults of the Blood Gods.

    * Edward Scott: Like Al Capone, a bit too "Beethoven was an Alien Spy." However, he has to have been Beckoned or killed as he's too powerful an Anarch to be otherwise. I wish they'd canonized his ending.

    * Hrothwulf: The chief of the Anubi and the guy who should probably be Prince. He hasn't been Beckoned yet but is feeling it or torpor coming on.

    * Jacob/Esau: No update for him and we can assume he was Beckoned. Shame as we know he's Therese's sire now.

    * Julia Calvin: Still in love [Blood Bound] with Decker and wildly jealous of Honor. She's working for the Anubi still as well.

    * Lucina: Now one of the city's judges and possibly it's executioner.

    * Parovich: Apparently, he's now a wight wandering around killing people. I'm actually curious what the story here is because this is a MAJOR Masquerade breach and exactly the sort of thing other Kindred Princes would be handling. It's a big sign Mark's rule is not as secure as he pretends. Still, couldn't have happened to a nicer Sabbat Elder.

    * Thomas Gerhieren: Still up to what he was up to before.

    I'm assuming the Anarchs like Turk and Wrecker are toast.

    Conclusion: Overall a fantastically developed city and cast that could be the basis for any number of Chronicles. It passes my personal test for a By Night book. "Would I be interested in roleplaying a game here?"
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 03-25-2021, 04:05 PM.


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

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    • #47
      What did everyone else think of the Milwaukee update?


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

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      • #48
        I really wish we got more detailed write-ups for the Milwaukee Kindred, especially Julia and Thomas as I think they could both provide a *lot* of insight on Decker, his praxis, and what has all happened in Milwaukee since we last had any detail on the Domain.

        Parovich surviving, Edward Scott MIA, and Hrothulf (a legit character mentioned in Beowulf) not feeling the Beckoning are all super interesting hooks that I want to explore in my own chronicles as well.

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        • #49
          Milwaukee by Night always struck me as an odd bird in terms of supplements. It's not odd in the way of Dirty Secrets or bad in way of Berlin, but... why Milwaukee? Chicago is a big city with a big reputation for vampire like things; organized crime, urban blight, drug abuse, corruption, and the giant silver bean in the down town. But Milwaukee has none of that general public perception or draw and is mostly know for mediocre American beer and being the setting for Laverne & Shirley.

          Even so the original book's writer worked to make it interesting by making the city home to Jacob/Esau and their war. But even so I never felt it to be compelling. It mostly felt like a mild alternative to Chicago and what was going on in the Windy City.

          The current depiction is a bit more interesting, in that Chicago is still Chicago but Milwaukee is a sem-fascist state. No one in Chicago can decide that if Prince Jackson is being a hardass they can just go to Milwaukee (or Detroit,Gary, and so on).

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          • #50
            Originally posted by DifferentJustin View Post
            I really wish we got more detailed write-ups for the Milwaukee Kindred, especially Julia and Thomas as I think they could both provide a *lot* of insight on Decker, his praxis, and what has all happened in Milwaukee since we last had any detail on the Domain.

            Parovich surviving, Edward Scott MIA, and Hrothulf (a legit character mentioned in Beowulf) not feeling the Beckoning are all super interesting hooks that I want to explore in my own chronicles as well.
            1. I agree that Julia and Thomas would have been good choices to add to the game as they provide an opportunity to give more information on Honor's "home life" as well as the situation in Milwaukee as a whole. I actually think you might be able to improve the adventure by removing the FBI and Dawn Nakada to replace them with these two. It makes it a more personal family-orientated affair.

            2. I wouldn't say Parovich survived as becoming a wight effectively eliminates everything that made him who he was. However, I actually had an interesting use of him as the PCs were the ones to eliminate him on behalf of Paul Sterri in my LTTSRR chronicle. It turned out that Mark Decker was furious as Parovich was a boogeyman he was using to terrify everyone and had planned to take out only after he'd caused more havoc.

            I do think the 1999 Sabbat Crusade is probably when he made his move and LOSING drove him over the deep end. Remember you can still lose Path points on Botched frenzies and through other methods like cowardice or betrayal. Not everyone has the mental fortitude to stay on their path perfectly.

            3. Edward Scott is the perfect sort of leader the Anarchs might have if he ever got motivated, sort of like a Midwestern Jeremy MacNeil. It's just he's way too level headed. So having the Camarilla target him or betray him during the Sabbat Wars is a good potential fate for him as is maybe Akawa betraying him. The Beckoning is another obvious choice. I don't see Decker being able to kill him given their power differences without some suitable treachery. However, it's also possible he fell due to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time with some Lupines.

            The SI taking him out during the daytime (possibly with a tip from Jacob/Esau or the Camarilla) is another one.

            4. I think Hrothulf is probably feeling the Beckoning and may be thinking he can wait it out by going to ground for a few decades to a century. Whether it works or not is an interesting question but him vanishing would seriously impact Decker's power base, IMHO. I could also see an interesting story where Hrothulf realizes (or thinks) that the Beckoning is Gehenna and decides to go on a "Last Dance" where he invites the PCs to come with him into Lupine territory to kill as many as possible before dying.

            The PCs not realizing he has no exit strategy and he expects them to die with him.


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            • #51
              Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
              Milwaukee by Night always struck me as an odd bird in terms of supplements. It's not odd in the way of Dirty Secrets or bad in way of Berlin, but... why Milwaukee? Chicago is a big city with a big reputation for vampire like things; organized crime, urban blight, drug abuse, corruption, and the giant silver bean in the down town. But Milwaukee has none of that general public perception or draw and is mostly know for mediocre American beer and being the setting for Laverne & Shirley.
              I imagine Milwaukee was developed because it was the largest city near Chicago, and they could develop a larger setting around that section of the Midwest. Since Vampire was still a young game, they were probably unsure what would sell. They might have the concern that fans of CbN might pick it up for possible use in their games, but might not pick up a city setting too far away from Chicago. White Wolf's products were only slowly expanding into game shops during first edition VtM. None of the shops I knew carried their products until after the release of the second edition corebook of VtM.

              Really, the only cities with a public reputation as big as Chicago were New York and Los Angeles. In terms of iconic depictions, Milwaukee isn't any less or more known than Denver, Cleveland, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, Phoenix, or any other American city at the time. To most people, they might know one building, a TV or movie set there, or the biggest industry in any of these cities. New York was likely already reserved for the upcoming Werewolf book, and they likely did not want to tackle the challenge yet of depicting the Anarch Free State.

              BTW, the "silver bean" wasn't built until 2006, long after both books were written. In 1991 most people would have mentioned the Sears Tower as the iconic structure of Chicago.

              I think Milwaukee had some interesting ideas, but felt it didn't congeal well unlike Chicago. The stronger ideas of the setting tended to overwhelm things and force the players into one plot, as opposed to CbN which allowed the STs and PCs to explore the setting and decide for themselves what to do. I think its main purpose was to test drive some of the ideas that would lead to Werewolf.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
                Milwaukee by Night always struck me as an odd bird in terms of supplements. It's not odd in the way of Dirty Secrets or bad in way of Berlin, but... why Milwaukee? Chicago is a big city with a big reputation for vampire like things; organized crime, urban blight, drug abuse, corruption, and the giant silver bean in the down town. But Milwaukee has none of that general public perception or draw and is mostly know for mediocre American beer and being the setting for Laverne & Shirley.
                Much like Black Fox , I believe they hadn't yet latched onto the idea they could move beyond the Chicago area and Midwest. Rather than attempt to split the fanbase by showing multiple cities that could never be used, they did a more "Ravenloft" thing by having a place you could visit if you had a Chicago game without having to leave the general area.

                As we know, plenty of people didn't buy later BY NIGHT books because they never were going to run games in New Orleans or Berlin. As such, it's why I think these sorts of Chronicle updates are probably the best we're going to get for classic locations. I hope we get updates for Washington D.C. and Los Angeles by Night at least. I would love to see a Chronicle set in the Princedom of Marcus Vitel and how he rules as the "Emperor of the Anarchs."

                Even so the original book's writer worked to make it interesting by making the city home to Jacob/Esau and their war. But even so I never felt it to be compelling. It mostly felt like a mild alternative to Chicago and what was going on in the Windy City.
                Milwaukee is a city with the big hook of being "The Lupine War city" but that didn't really work for me because the Lupines are wholly undefined. I think it might have worked better if they'd included plenty of Lupine characters to contrast against the Anubi. The fact that W:TA not being out yet was obviously an issue there, though. If it was done today, you might have the Lupine conflict detailed more like UNDER A BLOOD RED MOON where there were factions that could both be interacted with so you knew who was which side.

                One thing that I made in my campaign was the idea that Milwaukee was actually something of Lodin and King Jacob Morningkill's personal Afghanistans or Vietnam. Like Willerton was described, Milwaukee was my place for where Chicago and several other Camarilla cities exiled Cainites who had royally screwed up. You had the option of being given Domain and a chance to prove yourself in battle! However, the reality was you would almost certainly be killed by Lupines instead. Possibly on the way into the city in the first place.

                Simultaneously, Jacob Morningkill sent werewolves who had offended him to hunt vampires in MIlwaukee to kill one another in what was a fairly pointless front in the conflict between the Wyrm and Garou Nations. While there were no end of low-level leeches to kill, the Anubi knew the proper tricks to killing Garou like picking them out of humans, bugging kinfolk homes, and hitting them in their civilian identities with silver drive bys.

                Later, I would take advantage of the fact it's Milkwaukee and revealed that this pointless pissing contest between races was actually arranged by KING BEER of all people. Its Wyrm-corrupted kinfolk, vampire, and independent ghoul employees had sabotaged peace overtures between the two factions for decades. In my hypothetical chronicle I never got to run, the vampire players would wonder, "Why the fuck does a BEER company want a perpetual war between Garou and Kindred?" They probably arranged for Decker's princedom with the right money gifts to the right Kindred. Maybe end it with a revelation that Jacob/Esau was behind it because they couldn't wrap their mind around the Wyrm servants and its not like he hasn't been adding fuel to the fire forever.

                Now I'd probably pick a different corporation since Krogers and Kohls are the ones based in Milwaukee versus Budweiser.

                The current depiction is a bit more interesting, in that Chicago is still Chicago but Milwaukee is a sem-fascist state. No one in Chicago can decide that if Prince Jackson is being a hardass they can just go to Milwaukee (or Detroit,Gary, and so on).
                Yeah, the contrast is actually much more interesting just because Milwaukee isn't anything like the way Jackson runs Chicago. Jackson wants to exterminate the Anarchs but is doing so in a way that is just as happy having them LEAVE Chicago and take up residence in East Chicago. Also, he's using a divide and conquer strategy with the "List." Lots of cloak and dagger activities as well as bribes as well as personal betrayals. Mark just ordered them out and killed anyone who said no.

                One might also note that Mark is a Gangrel and probably very friendly to the Wolf Pack (albeit they'd probably see him as way too heavy handed--none of them are stupid enough to point that out as his gifts). Kevin Jackson has already been quite nasty to them, probably because of their lengthy history with the Camarilla and Clan. You could imagine that Jackson feels a bit uncomfortable with the fact there's a 200 year old Elder and Anarch crusher right next to him.
                Ironically, were Mark interested in it and not someone with a reputation as a lunatic oppressor, there would be people who'd support him as Prince of Chicago.
                Last edited by CTPhipps; 03-26-2021, 04:56 AM.


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

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                • #53
                  In retrospect, I'm really surprised they didn't lean into the Socialist history of the city and make Milwaukee into an Anarch Free State in any of the published material, with the city having a strong history of socialism and supporting socialist-adjacent works (lots of parks, a once state of the art sewage system, etc.). The old "Council" idea teases at it a little bit, but having Milwaukee be "just" the Lupine War City does get a little old in that it doesn't really seem to interact with the rest of the Camarilla plot lines (for better or worse).

                  I'm also really surprised at the lack of Toreador in the city overall, considering how prevalent the arts are. The city has an incredibly vibrant and renown coffee culture along with countless micro-breweries, art galleries, concert venues, theaters, etc. While the festival doesn't attract the kind of names that something like Bonnaroo or Coachella do, Summerfest is a gigantic music festival that's just one of the city's festivals throughout the Spring-Fall festival season.

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                  • #54
                    There are some interesting plot seeds in Milwaukee. The feud between Gracis and Hrothulf. The residency of an Assamite there who is hired to perform all sorts of assassinations for any side, probably throughout the entire Midwest or even beyond. The true nature of Parovich (hampered at the time by people not having real details on the Sabbat). That the book is written to take place at a time when there is no Prince and the Council rules (but which is undermined by an adventure that details what happened to the Prince, and thus could derail the setting as depicted). And the under siege mentality could theoretically lend itself to Milwaukee being home to any number of Kindred who wanted to hide or drop out of the vampire rat race to escape their enemies. Unlike Chicago where the population is so large that vampires may not know everyone, Milwaukee could be a much more intimate setting. So it could be a potentially interesting scenario based on personalities.

                    But in practice, it seems everything becomes about the Lupines and Anubi because the conflict just hijacks everything. It can't be avoided.

                    I also think the setting fails to really show how it can be dangerous to travel to and from Milwaukee. It is just mentioned that it is the case, but it is actually hard to run as an ST. Travelling between Chicago and Milwaukee is only a 3-6 hour drive. There are trains, airports, and even water travel on Lake Michigan. In practice, most travel for Kindred should end up being safe. We should be given some kind of system that allows us to determine how the Lupines patrol entry into Milwaukee, so we can decide when it is dangerous. If there is something that notifies the Lupines of what is coming in and where/when like some kind of magical radar, it needed to be shown. I put this down as one of those ideas that may sound good upon first hearing it, but falls apart when you try to put it in practice. The book just does not give an ST adequate tools to run this without it becoming ST fiat, and that usually alienates players.

                    It also hurts that the Lupines here are definitely the alpha version of werewolves, and doesn't match how the Garou later developed. The details are too different, though you can clearly see the concepts behind WtA being worked out. STs can overcome that, but it is another obstacles to overcome.

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                      There are some interesting plot seeds in Milwaukee. The feud between Gracis and Hrothulf. The residency of an Assamite there who is hired to perform all sorts of assassinations for any side, probably throughout the entire Midwest or even beyond. The true nature of Parovich (hampered at the time by people not having real details on the Sabbat). That the book is written to take place at a time when there is no Prince and the Council rules (but which is undermined by an adventure that details what happened to the Prince, and thus could derail the setting as depicted). And the under siege mentality could theoretically lend itself to Milwaukee being home to any number of Kindred who wanted to hide or drop out of the vampire rat race to escape their enemies. Unlike Chicago where the population is so large that vampires may not know everyone, Milwaukee could be a much more intimate setting. So it could be a potentially interesting scenario based on personalities.

                      But in practice, it seems everything becomes about the Lupines and Anubi because the conflict just hijacks everything. It can't be avoided.

                      I also think the setting fails to really show how it can be dangerous to travel to and from Milwaukee. It is just mentioned that it is the case, but it is actually hard to run as an ST. Travelling between Chicago and Milwaukee is only a 3-6 hour drive. There are trains, airports, and even water travel on Lake Michigan. In practice, most travel for Kindred should end up being safe. We should be given some kind of system that allows us to determine how the Lupines patrol entry into Milwaukee, so we can decide when it is dangerous. If there is something that notifies the Lupines of what is coming in and where/when like some kind of magical radar, it needed to be shown. I put this down as one of those ideas that may sound good upon first hearing it, but falls apart when you try to put it in practice. The book just does not give an ST adequate tools to run this without it becoming ST fiat, and that usually alienates players.
                      By contrast, I feel like the Lupine vs. Vampire War is something that was insufficiently developed. Yes, there should be seeds for other non-Lupine related storylines but that it had a central premise I feel like each of the city books should have their own thing to differentiate themselves from the others. Still, the power difference between vampires and werewolves means that it was pretty unusable once Werewolf: The Apocalypse came out.

                      I think that BECKETT'S JYHAD DIARY does a good job of also explaining why travel between Chicago and Milwaukee is so perilous. Making it an explictly magical Lovecraftian thing that makes it difficult to travel is a pretty good one. I may be biased because having the Garou having cursed the highways and byways to get between them is the basis for my story in Darkened Streets.

                      It also hurts that the Lupines here are definitely the alpha version of werewolves
                      *ba dum ching*


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                      • #56
                        Innocence in Blood part 2 [Events] part 3 [Milwaukee adventure]



                        Type: Adventure

                        Synopsis: The player characters meet with Decker and hunt down clues about Honor. This includes meeting with the local Anarchs, meeting with her friend Tessa, and checking her havens. They may hunt Lupines, run across Kinfolk, or encounter Parovich the Wight.

                        Analysis: There's an interesting statement from David Lynch about Twin Peaks where he said he never would have revealed who killed Laura Palmer if it had been left up to him. His belief was that the tension of her murder and missing status provided the atmosphere for the show so that when it was solved, the entire story changed in a way that could never be recovered.

                        Milwaukee isn't Twin Peaks but there's an entire campaign's worth of events that could be done searching for her among the city that never actually would have to solved. Seriously, the book gives multiple weeks or even months of adventuring just in the Milwaukee section. You could very much do an entire storyline with characters that have meaningful character arcs that never leaves Milwaukee and never actually finds Honor Mercer. Indeed, she could be killed by one of the factions, herself, or by happenstance with it being a serviceable end to this Chronicle. Maybe Honor chose to meet the Sun, trusted the wrong mortal, or ended up being killed by Lupines in a way that could start another war with them.

                        One interesting thing about the whole thing is that Honor Mercer is very much a character being held up as an "innocent" by both her friends, sire, and the Primogen Lucina among others. My reading of her character sheet shows that, by and large, Honor is no more good or worse a person than any other Neonate you'd create from some random person on the street.

                        Mark Decker is projecting onto her and so are the people who have bought into his use of her. In a very real way, she's his attempt to create a Touchstone but you can't do that out of a vampire. The act of siring soils whatever humanity you're attempting to mythologize and have turned them into a killer ("It is inevitable, Mr. Anderson." - Agent Smith).

                        Indeed, the start of this entire affair is the fact that Honor has accidentally murdered a guy during a feeding and was caught on camera by a blackmailer. While it's a Setite here, I'd actually tie it into Power Prey and have her be someone that Redwood blackmailed. She cooperated until she couldn't and he then sent on the information to the Ministry because, well, he's an asshole. That's my suggestion, at least, and even if you don't then using him as a red herring is a good idea for an extended campaign.

                        Either way, the point of this part of the campaign/chronicle is faffing about until you find the evidence that Honor has fled Milwaukee for Indianapolis. It's not that hard to figure out really but you could do a bunch of one-shots following up dead ends before you get there. There's encounters with a Kindred living in a flooded bank basement, a talk with Honor's bestie at a lesbian bar, a possible investigation of Lupines, a possible encounter with Parovich, an encounter with Mark Decker at his special place, and even discovering that there's more than 10 vampires who want to see Mark killed. They're not Anarchs but that's because being an Anarch will get you killed. You can even meet the ferryman who moves people in and out of the city, Mike the Ghoul.

                        My favorite part is probably the mounting series of annoyances that turn out to be the primary dangers of traveling from or two Milwaukee. Things like annoying passengers, inquisitive mortals, and so on. This is something that could be used for great humor, especially if you hint that it is something spiritual messing with them like Gremlins vs. just the bad luck of traveling on the open road.

                        There are about a half-dozen adventure seeds for one-shots and that's the best part of this.
                        Last edited by CTPhipps; 03-27-2021, 01:52 AM.


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                        • #57
                          Innocence in Blood part 2 [Events] part 4 [Indianapolis by Night]



                          Type: Location

                          Synopsis: A town dominated by cults, religious fanaticism, economic devastation, and predatory vampires.

                          Analysis: Indianapolis is an interesting case of an Anarch city because it is actually a theocracy that is in many ways far more repressive than the Camarilla ever could be and I include Milwaukee. It's just repressive in a way that the public has agreed to and thus can think of as their own kind of freedom. I would argue that it has probably the closest similarity to a Sabbat city with its dismissive treatment of mortals, fanatical religious establishment, and ostensible alignment to the cause of "freedom." It is, for all intents and purposes, sort of a Montreal Lite and that makes it an interesting location to do adventures.

                          The basic history of the city is that it was originally established as a Ministry domain but was under the control of the Sabbat for the majority of its history. Father Melvyn Ramsay eventually turned to mortal Hunters to get rid of their Sabbat problem and created lynch mobs that purged the city of its undead infestation--allowing it to be settled by a NEW infestation of undead. Ramsay was all about the Camarilla and excited about them joining, only for the Camarilla to betray the betrayers and accept the Banu Haqim instead.

                          Father Ramsay was not big on this change, nor on the Ministry breaking away from the Followers of Set, and ended up disappearing soon after. In all likelihood, Melvyn was murdered by Freddie Montgomery who didn't like the fact that their spiritual leader wasn't a fan of giving up orthodox Church of Set ways or the Camarilla for Ministry flavored Anarchism.

                          I have thoughts on this but think that it's very likely Keisha Phelps and Tyrone Soros are incompletely trained as Followers of Set (being on Humanity instead of Paths if this were a V20 game) as a result. Which means that Indianapolis' spiritualism is utterly fucked. I think I'll even do a whole separate post on this. But basically, the vast majority of Kindred who live in Indianapolis are Ministry or Ministry converts who treat the local mortals like shit while engaging heavily in Christian fundamentalism.

                          Nathaniel Borduff would actually thrive in this environment and with someone able to teach him a way to thread the needle of being Damned and serving God, probably finally get himself out of his 100 year funk. He'd never accept Set and Christ as one but perhaps would be interested in Church of Caine Gnosticism or the Path of Heaven, "I am a monster to punish the wicked." Hell, he might make a decent Prince or Baron of the place. As such, there's no real leader to Indianapolis and that's an interesting hot take.

                          The only really non-Ministry Kindred in the city are Eletria and Marion Davies who run the Lhiannan Club. There's a joke a LDS friend of mine made that you can tell when a town is intensely religious because it will have one punk club in town that is incredibly good. Eletria is 2000 years old and now that her Blood Bond to Helena is broken is probably the only person in the Midwest who could slay her (not counting Nerissa Blackwater). Why? Because the few centuries between them is no longer nearly as relevant. I have the impression Eletria finds the idea of the Camarilla new and exciting so Anarchs are still a new thing to her. Still, who is going to screw with her?

                          There's a sidebar that calls Indianapolis a "Utopian Hell" and the idea is that it's pretty much an idea of how the Anarch idealogy can go horribly-horribly wrong. The Kindred here are allowed to do whatever they want and explore their spirituality but that just tends to result in them becoming wights versus gaining Paths of Enlightenment or Golconda. Notably, Golconda is not forbidden here and the Ministry encourages seeking it--which is something the orthodox Followers of Set have forbidden. Probably because the orthodox FoS know what the hell they're talking about. One cannot serve Saulot and Set both. Combining the two is a nonsensical intrafaith smoothie.

                          What do I think of Indianapolis?

                          It's kind of bizarre to think of Indianapolis having a massive murder rate given that it suffers 154 homicides per year in RL. I mean, theoretically, every single one of those could be Kindred but that's just one of the things that you have to ignore for the World of Darkness. My neighboring town of Huntington, WV has twice that. Still, the place is the kind of one that you could run a very Sabbat-like game in with the fact the players are surrounded by religious fanatics and weirdos. It has the spooky club to hang out, the beautiful Janette (see Forever Knight) bartender, and lots of weird conspiracy going on. I think Milwaukee is more interesting really but you can't really compare a city that had its own book.

                          How would I improve Indianapolis?

                          They touch on it later but the obvious thing to do for this city is to make it a Ministry vs. Hunter place. I would have dozens of hunters active in the city and trying to make contact with the greater Second Inquisition. I would have some of the Hunters even supported by vampires to help deal with their extensive wight problem as that's something they don't have a Prince or Sheriff to deal with. EIther that or the Hunters are cleaning it up for them. The Night's Cross is an easy group to include as would be local hunters.

                          This is something that is also commented on from a friend of mine but the conflict between black and white Christianity might also be something you might touch on. The book mentions "tribalism" but (probably wisely) doesn't really get into the fact there's racist militias and Christian Identity churches that conflict very strongly with the 30% African American population of the city. It could be something that separates the groups of hunters and keeps them from allying against the undead. Not a topic I'd handle LIGHTLY but one I might if I had a group mature enough to deal with RL themes.

                          I would also either make Keisha interim Baron or highlight that it is a city without obvious leadership, for better or worse. Eletria could take over with a single speech and Presence but doesn't want the job.

                          Mistake

                          * A minor one on page 110 is Keisha Phelps is listed as a devout Catholic when he write-up shows her as a Protestant gospel singer.
                          Last edited by CTPhipps; 03-29-2021, 08:35 AM.


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

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                          • #58
                            Is it possible to serve both God and Set? [Answer: No]



                            An interesting element that the book presents that I find interesting as both an academic and religious person is the presentation of both fundamentalist Bible Belt Christianity as well as orthodox Follower of Set doctrine. I grew up in a fundamentalist area and embraced (no vampire pun intended) the attitude in my high school years before a mystical experience that led me away from it to a more liberal Christianity. This is relevant because I can tell you that it gives me an interesting perspective on cults, mysticism, controlling traditionalist religion, and chaotic free hippie based faiths.

                            Basically, Keisha Phelps and the other Ministers in the city are attempting to combine fundamentalist Christianity and Set worship in the city. There's also a bunch of wights in the city as its implied that their attempts to break down Kindred are resulting in them losing themselves to the Beast. The Followers of Set have a religion based around the idea of corruption as a way to lower one's morality so that you can build it back up as something inhuman.

                            As much as I love the Sabbat, I've always felt the Followers of Set have had a somewhat bettle handle on the nature of Paths of Enlightenment. They've been doing it since 3150 B.C. years and their religion of evil is actually something that is deeply thought out. You don't have many "Caine Bro" or "Path of Whatever I Would Do Anyway" Sunday Setites. It may take awhile but 90% of the Followers of Set are eventually brought into the fold of being an inhuman predator of the night who thinks like a monster not a man but can debate in fluent evil genius.

                            They are very good at it. So much so that the Sabbat probably isn't even closer to indoctrinating their followers with the same level of consistency. The majority of shovel heads burn out and fade away and even most of the more carefully regulated Embraces because its on you to adapt or die. The Followers of Set slowly guide you step by step into becoming a monster that is beyond good and evil (or willingly embodying evil). There's a reason cultists separate you from your old ties and life and that's because they need to control everything about your life to rewrite your mind to believe up is down or left is right. That is how you get someone to follow a Path.

                            Which is why I have an interesting suggestion for the Indianapolis Ministry: these guys don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

                            Rarely do I suggest that villains become more interesting by being incompetent but I actually think there's a reasonable Alternate Character Interpretation (see TV tropes) that Keisha Phelps and Coach Soros are spouting gibberish. To quote C.S. Lewis' Aslan, Tash and Aslan are not the same but opposites, but there was an entire philosophy in The Last Battle that attempted to combine them that just ticked off both of them.

                            Both characters come from Evangelical Christian backgrounds and are clearly drawing heavily from it in their teaching but they also are people who are Humanity 5 as well as Humanity 7. While Humanity doesn't mean the same thing in 5th Edition as it did in V20 or Revised, I actually argue neither of them were "properly" initiated into the Followers of Set and are trying to reconcile their old beliefs with their new to poor effect. It doesn't work and without that firm center the Kindred they're "helping" are losing control of the Beast. Melvyn Ramsay was probably GOING to initiate them into the Path of Typhon (or Ecstasy or Warrior) but he was nowhere near done when he disappeared. The breakaway from the Church of Set also didn't leave anyone above them to take over their training. So they fell back on their mortal religion to fill in the gaps despite the two being diametrically opposed.

                            If you stated "Set is Love and Peace" for example, you're speaking nonsense. Same if you said God wanted you to indulge the Beast because he made you that way. To make a Cult of the Blood Gods comparison, they're trying to combine the Church of Set and something similar to Cult of Mithras' teachings and they don't mesh.

                            I think that adds a very interesting twist to the story of Honor Mercer. Basically, the biggest danger she faces is that she's dealing with people who don't know nearly as much as they think about how to control the Beast.
                            Last edited by CTPhipps; 03-29-2021, 08:46 AM.


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

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                            • #59
                              Innocence in Blood part 2 [Events] part 5 [Indianapolis Events]

                              Type: Adventure

                              Synopsis: The PCs arrive in Indianapolis, meet Eletria and Marion Davies, look for Honor, find her, and decide what to do.

                              Analysis: I'm going to be honest that I think this section of the Chronicle is a bit lacking. It's all exceptionally well written and has some truly great moments (Coach Soros' speech is hilarious and awesome) but I don't think that it comes together in a suitably dramatic way.

                              This might be deliberate as the Milwaukee by Night section was more about presenting the setting as well as offering a lot of things that can happen. However, Indianapolis isn't a place where much adventure happens and there's a bit of an anticlimax with the discovery of Hope. Part of this may be deliberate as V:TM is a game where there are often not particularly "dramatic" moments and everything is structured like a movie. Roleplaying as a vampire is, by itself, pretty cool. The moral decision of the game's end is its primary issue where you choose to leave Honor with her Ministry cultist exploiters, attempt to take her back to Mark Decker, or seek a third option.

                              For whatever reason, there's not much focus on trying to find the person who took a photo of Honor drinking from a vampire, setting her up, and then exploiting her. I feel like doing this will improve the adventure's climax a bit. Basically, the PCs getting the opportunity to win Honor over to their side by exposing the Ministry's plot but not necessarily turning her against the Ministry itself.

                              Suggestions for Fixing the Climax

                              1. Have a Nosferatu, Eletria (who casually reads the minds of Kindred), Djedefre, or Dawn Nakada reveal the truth of Freddie Montgomery's plot to the PCs. I'm inclined to have Dawn be the one to do it if the PCs don't get the information another way as it would be a justification for killing Honor.

                              2. Have Dawn Nakada ask the PCs to kill Honor as her hitman and also Freddie. It will make things easier when she explains things to Decker. The PCs could theoretically persuade Honor to return but Dawn feels Honor is an incredible fuck up.

                              3. If the PCs confront Keisha, Soros, and Freddie about the plot with Honor then the first two will actually throw Freddie under the bus. Surprisingly, in her capacity of pseudo-Baron, Keisha even will encourage the PCs to kill Freddie. Why? Because if blackmailing a vampire to join their cult goes out then they're bound to lose massive influence. Keisha will then try to persuade Honor to stay on still.

                              4. If the PCs DON'T kill Honor Mercer then have the FBI launch a sting operation for something suitably dramatic. The PCs will have to flee with Honor in a hail of bullets and get her alone in whatever place they hold up to persuade her to whatever ending they like. She doesn't want to go back to Mark Decker but might be perusaded to anyway.

                              5. Weirdly, if the PCs DO bring her back to Mark and have evidence of the plot to frame her, they could persuade him to either banish her (which she wants anyway) or go lenient on her. You might even have Mark hand over the city to the PCs because, insane as it sounds, he hates the job and thought he was honestly doing the best job he could.

                              6. If they do try to help Honor escape then I encourage her to meet a tragic but understandable end at the hands of Dawn's assassins, the Second Inquisition, or a random bounty hunting Kindred trying to curry favor with Mark Decker. The PCs can actually win favor if they kill the last one because, obviously, Decker wouldn't reward him for it.
                              Basically, I think there needs to be more boom-boom at the end of the adventure but that's just my style of Storytelling.

                              Random Thoughts

                              * Why kill Honor Mercer at the end?: Much of this story is about everyone trying to save or damn Honor's soul? Making it so it was all pointless in the end is something that I feel adds a nice tragic twist to it.

                              * What did I think of Eletria?: I like her character and am glad the people who bought her fate chose to save her. She's very similar to Janette from Forever Knight now but also living a life as a discount Helena. It's kind of sad for a being older than civilizations but this is her first bit of free time.

                              * I like the romance between Soros and Marion: I kind of ship these two and wish there was a way to incorporate this into the story. Maybe Dawn Nakada kidnaps Marion and has Soros spill the guts about the plot with Freddie or orders him to kill Honor (which he'll do).

                              * Any use for Julia Calvin and Thomas: You could also throw these in at the end too. They probably know Mark will want Honor alive, though.
                              Last edited by CTPhipps; 04-01-2021, 07:33 PM.


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

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                              • #60
                                I'd be interested in how you think the Chronicle should end with Honor's fate and what party she should end up with or how the ST should resolve it.


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

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