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  • CajunKhan
    started a topic Please help me brainstorm a scene

    Please help me brainstorm a scene

    I'm running a siege where the Sabbat, hopefully, conquer New Orleans. My players are hunting Cammy touchstones, kidnapping them, and bringing them back to base to be fused into a vozhd. I've decided that one of the Tremere primogen's touchstones is the owner of a small magic shop. Once the player characters discover that he is one of the Tremere primogen's touchstones, they will likely go to the shop and try to grab him.

    What I need help with is making this challenging. One idea I've had is for the Tremere to have warded the shop. But that's just one static thing to get around. I could use some more ideas to make this a challenge.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  • Devidramoth
    replied
    My apologies, I got myself caught up in binary thinking. Like, only between exploration-investigation-politics ttrpg and indiana-jones-but-with-vampires pulp high-action ttrpg.

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  • CajunKhan
    replied
    Originally posted by Devidramoth View Post
    I comprehend now that you are seeking the penultimate sabbat game: wherein blood-hungry supervillains throw police and firefighters into the blades of flying news helicopters to crash them into museums and zoos; then you kidnap the children of those first responders and fleshcraft them into tooth filled toilets to which you feed orphans so that your flesh toilets themselves excrete vitae filled feces that your player characters smear all over themselves to enter some kind of Vaulderie-woad berserk state and throw-themselves headlong into an army of wave after wave honor-bound ventrue knights clad in silver armor.

    The bad guys in a very pulp sense whose actions bear no reprisal beyond the immediate.

    With that in mind, consider the bygone bestiary. A master of Thaumaturgy might summon up some kind of dragon of night-black scale and firey breath that could be like a "heat meter" for your PCs, from the moment you raise the alarm at a location you have XX turns (wod turns being like 3-10seconds) before a fire-breathing, spell flinging, nigh-invulnerable dragon starts tearing the building down looking for you in particular with auspex 5 eyes.
    No. Much of the game is about debating Path ethics, and attempting to save Camarilla neonates from themselves by seducing them away from their controlling slavemasters and teaching them paths of enlightenment. And the Cathari, who would so the sort of thing you are talking about, come across very poorly in my games, to the point that their stupidity is causing the slow buildup of a Sabbat Civil War. The Vozhdification of touchstones serves a specific purpose in my games: eroding the humanity of Cammies, and doing so in the specific context of a siege.

    If it seems otherwise, it's because I don't need brainstorming help with the quieter moments of Path debate and political debate over which Path should dominate the sect. I don't need brainstorming for a scene where someone asks the Pack Priest whether it is acceptable for a Feral Hearter to make political allies, so long as she is only doing so for survival, and not part of a larger ambition to rise in political power. The fine line some vampires walk when attempting to advance on their path is often deep and quiet, and takes a lot of satisfying work on my part.

    That said, these touchstone kidnapping missions also serve the purpose of breaking up the quieter political moments, and allow players to cut loose on the embodiment of a new game mechanic the players dislike: the touchstone mechanic. So my requests for what are essentially dungeon-design help probably make the game seem much crazier and bloodier than it actually is. In reality, the craziness is largely restricted to touchstone missions, and those defending touchstones, and only during a siege that has been building up for some time. It also allows the players to undo something else my group hates: the Sabbat not owning cities anymore.

    So there's a lot quiet path of enlightenment discussion, and quiet political maneuvering to undermine the Cathari and build up an alliance to topple them. But periodically, there are essentially dungeon-crawls the purpose of which is F touchstones, and F not holding domain anymore. The latter just sounds like a bigger part of the game than it is because that's the part I need brainstorming help with.
    Last edited by CajunKhan; 05-04-2022, 03:42 PM.

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  • Devidramoth
    replied
    I comprehend now that you are seeking the penultimate sabbat game: wherein blood-hungry supervillains throw police and firefighters into the blades of flying news helicopters to crash them into museums and zoos; then you kidnap the children of those first responders and fleshcraft them into tooth filled toilets to which you feed orphans so that your flesh toilets themselves excrete vitae filled feces that your player characters smear all over themselves to enter some kind of Vaulderie-woad berserk state and throw-themselves headlong into an army of wave after wave honor-bound ventrue knights clad in silver armor.

    The bad guys in a very pulp sense whose actions bear no reprisal beyond the immediate.

    With that in mind, consider the bygone bestiary. A master of Thaumaturgy might summon up some kind of dragon of night-black scale and firey breath that could be like a "heat meter" for your PCs, from the moment you raise the alarm at a location you have XX turns (wod turns being like 3-10seconds) before a fire-breathing, spell flinging, nigh-invulnerable dragon starts tearing the building down looking for you in particular with auspex 5 eyes.

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  • CajunKhan
    replied
    This is V5, so some of that doesn't apply. I did use much of it for inspiration, though. I had lots of ghouls with with Resilience and Unswayable Mind in the building. They were alert for vampires who didn't have blush of life up, which the players almost never do. The doors where reinforced and all lockable from administration. Security was armed with high-caliber weapons and molotovs. There was a helicopter with 50 cal sniper rifle hunting them through the windows. The final guard had a minigun, heavy armor, and an entrenched position. And the touchstone herself was hidden in a panic room.

    I thought the helicopter might be too much for them, but the Country Gangrel managed to soak the sniper fire just long enough for the Lasombra to get line-of-sight and tentacle the pilot into wrecking.

    Our Toreador is a social beast so even against Unswayable Mind she managed to do a lot of damage with clever use of Presence. She did burn through all of her willpower on rerolls by the end, though.

    The funny thing is after all of that, they almost failed to find the panic room in the end. The dice-gods did not love their investigation rolls. But in the end they did, and now the Prince's touchstone is a tentacle on the vozhd's face. (They are going for a design that is basically a cross between a walking-stick-bug and a squid)

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  • Devidramoth
    replied
    What springs to mind is 1.) The touchstone is bait. Someone leaked the plan to the Cammies and they are sacrificing this mortal: trying to lure the pack into a situation that will slow them down enough, so a Nos/Malk spy (or the like) can get a good look at the pack and their relative strengths & weaknesses, so that on the next raid they can respond with immediate crushing force.

    If the mortal is sacrificial they may have been mesmerized to set off a bomb or have been loaded with poison vitae intended to wound the pack but which might kill the nascent vozhd if it isn't detected. For a tremere it would be simple enough technologically or thaumaturgically to have the touchstone marked in such a way as to make them traceable.

    In terms of making the scene interesting... dude is a magician right? Borrow from now you see me, dude throws out birds or confetti or some distraction to make Perception+ Alertness rolls difficult, then some larceny type roll and failure means your character is in a lucite box, or wearing handcuffs, or loses line of sight to a cloud of smoke :-p The ultimate version of this being when the dude throws flash powder that checks for rotschreck. He doesn't even have to know what he's up against for that, he thinks he's using it as, like, a flashbang. He ducks into a cabinet, and after a (very one sided) strength contest the players rip open the doors to discover the cabinet is empty. They see him running away behind the cabinet, but that was a pepper's ghost in a translucent mirror and he's actually running the other direction because he was hidden in the cabinet the whole time (sorry you wasted three celerity actions grabbing a mirror)

    If it boils down maybe he's hiding somewhere in the shop using smoke/flash/mirrors to get away earlier and there's an alarm (mundane alarm or maybe an albino macaw with blood red eyes that the shop owner yells, "go! tell [tremere primogen's name]" and it flies into the night, not responding to bullets or Animalism) and now it's a game against the clock to find this guy, not let him escape, and get out with him before reinforcements arrive.
    Strike all that, I wasn't paying enough attention.
    Ventrue prince. Consider the very limits of what someone can do as an act of will. People who lie on shards of broken glass, or set themselves on fire, or go so long without eating or drinking so as to mummify themselves. Moms who lift cars off of babies, athletes whose muscles shatter their own bones or who burst their own hearts getting that last little bit of cardiovascular power out of their mortal frames. And think about what a true master of command and mesmerism could do to set up defenses for the one he loves. Every mortal might suddenly, on the presence of a kindred, have a rush of instinct telling them exactly how to fight against them. A crowd of orderlies, blackmailed, bribed and brainwashed into latching hold of an intruder so hard that if they die during the grapple, they die in rigor mortis still hanging on as literal dead weight to slow down the intruder.

    Secret ghouls in the long term care ward that can be activated with the Posession powers at the first sign of trouble, and now you're facing a diluted version of the Prince themselves blasting awe and command from behind a ghoul with Fortitude 6. All this without breaking the masquerade on the prince's part so they're still free to do things like, set the building on fire or call the cops.

    Put the touchstone on the roof with a helicopter as mesmerized mindslaves set the 4th floor on fire, shut down the elevators and block the stairwells. Police won't let firefighters in until after the snipers (headshots are lethal damage) say that the roof is clear. The spotters have thermal and have been warned that the assailants may look cold against the rising smoke and flames due to advanced camoflauge.
    Last edited by Devidramoth; 04-26-2022, 06:37 PM. Reason: I didn't read the whole thread

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    Originally posted by CajunKhan View Post
    Well since it's part of a coordinated siege, that could be a good thing. If they are chasing the players, they can't defend the parts of the city the other packs are attacking.
    It may work during a coordinated siege, but raising all the alarms too soon would actually break coordination, or risk forcing it to happen while the Cam is still too strong, or intel still insufficient to attack worthy targets. It is also complicated once some of the relevant targets are actual vampires, which is usually the case in vampiric warfare, as now they're all up and at arms, so getting enemies in a vulnerable position becomes far harder.

    Also, it doesn't means they're literally all following the pack, it means they're all active, searching for clues of what happened and attentive to new attacks, probably trying to secure their Touchstones and, if they get some evidence that the Sabbat is involved, prepare to fend off attackers. While the Sabbat may be prepared to fight in such conditions, the pack's mission would still be a failure if they let out info instead of weakening the target first.

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  • CajunKhan
    replied
    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post

    Heck, even if they're successful, messing with the Prince's Touchstone is a surefire way to have the entire city on your heels before you can get to your Haven. Even a complete failure of a Prince like La Croix would be able to assemble everyone to hunt you down if such a thing happened, as it not only piss off the Big Guy, it also sends a very clear message to everyone else that no Touchstone is safe until you're deader than Final Death.
    Well since it's part of a coordinated siege, that could be a good thing. If they are chasing the players, they can't defend the parts of the city the other packs are attacking.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    I think the Prince's touchstone is a pretty good measure of failure for the mission. If they got word of them so easily, it is the most likely to be a trap where any investigation they make towards them also leaks information about the pack to the Prince. If they want to play against the Camarilla big time, they must learn that paranoia is the name of the game. If they're already playing, they have no excuses to not know it.

    What I would do in this case is to give them a fair warning, be it through an Intelligence or any relevant check, or through an NPC giving them some advice. On the worst case, talk to them OoC to make it clear that in this kind of mission you don't get to know that things are going sour until it is too late. The smart choice is to not mess with the most obvious target too soon.

    Heck, even if they're successful, messing with the Prince's Touchstone is a surefire way to have the entire city on your heels before you can get to your Haven. Even a complete failure of a Prince like La Croix would be able to assemble everyone to hunt you down if such a thing happened, as it not only piss off the Big Guy, it also sends a very clear message to everyone else that no Touchstone is safe until you're deader than Final Death.

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  • CajunKhan
    replied
    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    Another option is that if they're doing this systematic targeting of Touchstones, then they're probably being noticed and making a lot of enemies already. So they may start to find active investigations on their activities and specific protections against their attacks. You can tune up or down how much information the Camarilla has on them based on their actions, on how you see local relations between the Camarilla vampires and how hard and dangerous you want it to become.

    This can go from "only knows there are serial kidnappers at large" to "know the individuals involved, including their clans, Disciplines, Generation, age, where they're sleeping through the day, and are going customized traps to weaken the pack thoroughly".

    Personally I think that such a bold and direct move should require exceedingly exceptional preparation and care, or target a very insular and small community, to work in the end. It is simply too obvious a strategy once noticed, and not that hard to notice as the disappearance of Touchstones deeply affects many vampires already, and their independent investigations on their own Touchstones is likely to bring up the fact that more Touchstones are being targeted. It is a high-risk, high-pay strategy with the most probable outcome of ending up with the entire pack captured or killed, but the longer they can avoid even minor mistakes the bigger the blow they'll cause before going down.
    True. That's why I need this brainstorming thread more than ever.

    Progress report: they gained information on the location of the Tremere touchstone by seducing a local vampire neonate on the verge of becoming a wight with the offer of teaching him a path of enlightenment and of joining a sect where he would have freedom from elder tyranny, and the loyalty of a pack to watch his back. The usual Sabbat pitch, which Camarilla elders aid and abet massively with their arrogance, cruelty, and suffocating authoritarianism.

    Getting around the touchstone's defenses was fairly challenging, but they eventually succeeded, and now the Tremere Primogen's touchstone is a Vozhd's anus.

    I've also given them clues to the Ventrue Prince's touchstone, a doctor working in a New Orleans hospital. I think she should be heavily guarded, both because one touchstone has gone missing, and simply because she's the Prince's touchstone. In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to give them that information that quickly. The Prince's touchstone should probably be the penultimate mission, before the siege itself.

    Maybe I'll use the ideas you guys have given me to make this mission TOO hard for now, forcing them to hunt for easier touchstones first. It's just that I only had the Tremere Primogen's and Ventrue Prince's touchstones imagined for the last game session. So now I've got to flesh out seven more touchstones and funnel the players towards those. One of the player characters is a former mafia princess, so I'm thinking I could make the Brujah touchstone a mafia princess as well.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    Another option is that if they're doing this systematic targeting of Touchstones, then they're probably being noticed and making a lot of enemies already. So they may start to find active investigations on their activities and specific protections against their attacks. You can tune up or down how much information the Camarilla has on them based on their actions, on how you see local relations between the Camarilla vampires and how hard and dangerous you want it to become.

    This can go from "only knows there are serial kidnappers at large" to "know the individuals involved, including their clans, Disciplines, Generation, age, where they're sleeping through the day, and are going customized traps to weaken the pack thoroughly".

    Personally I think that such a bold and direct move should require exceedingly exceptional preparation and care, or target a very insular and small community, to work in the end. It is simply too obvious a strategy once noticed, and not that hard to notice as the disappearance of Touchstones deeply affects many vampires already, and their independent investigations on their own Touchstones is likely to bring up the fact that more Touchstones are being targeted. It is a high-risk, high-pay strategy with the most probable outcome of ending up with the entire pack captured or killed, but the longer they can avoid even minor mistakes the bigger the blow they'll cause before going down.

    Leave a comment:


  • Karos
    replied
    Likewise sticking with V5 (most shouldn't take too much tinkering for V20):
    • Rival Pack - Simplest option possibly, is to have another group of Sabbat going after the same target. If you want to make the Touchstone themself a challenge consider a chase scene. The mortal might use a car, magic, escape tunnels, etc. Then the two packs begin the chase, battling each other for the prize.

      It lets you test the dynamics of the Sabbat involved in the attack. Neither pack will want to back down but if they harm their comrades then that could reflect poorly on them, or make them vulnerable to the enemy.
    • Police/Hunter Protection - Especially if you're doing anything at all with Hunters or the SI consider throwing in some goons. A few different options here:
      1) Regular Cops - The Primogen pulled some strings and got their Touchstone genuine police protection under the pretext of threats to their person. The pack arrives as the touchstone is packing and getting ready to flee whilst several officers stand guard.

      Do they slaughter the policemen? Try to sneak around them? Perhaps social disciplines offer a solution?

      2) Hunter Escort - Riff from bloodlines, have a hunter group (whichever best suits your chronicle) take the Touchstone into 'protective custody'. If a Sabbat invasion of the city is happening even the strongest Masquerade will be starting to fray, one slip up from an overly concerned Primogen and suddenly the hunters are looking for a shop-owner.
    • Bait - If the Primogen is especially ruthless they might use their own Touchstone as bait for opportunistic Sabbat. Few options here:
      1) Dangerous Touchstone - The Touchstone is the bait and trap in one, they are either a True-Mage that has been blood-bound (see Night Road for a good example) or simply cares about the Primogen; or perhaps a Hedge Magician (the SI book has some good stats).

      2) Third-Party Assault - The Touchstone is the bait, but the Primogen is going to kill two birds with one stone. They tip-off local hunters/SI/rival criminals/rival Sabbat, etc, as to what's happening. The Touchstone has direct orders to only linger long enough to draw the enemy into conflict with each other before escaping.

      3) Sheriff & Hounds - Quite the escalation but if the Primogen has power in court (which Tremere should during wartime, given the versatility of Thaumaturgy) they demand the assistance of Camarilla troops. This can go a few ways depending on whether you want the Pack to succeed or not. (A slaughter for either side, difficult battle, etc.)

      4) Boons & Favours - The Primogen goes all out and calls in either mercenaries or powerful members of the Camarilla. Really depends on how dangerous you want the mission to be. You could break out anything from: Banu-Haqim assassins, Hecata mercenaries with attendant spirits; or alternatively, move up the Camarilla hierarchy and have an Archon and their Servires lying in wait.
    • Illusion of Perfection - A blood sorcery ritual, works as per Mask of a Thousand Faces. Have the pack arrive as a group of mortals are leaving.

      If they're paying attention maybe they notice something's off. Try a description like 'You see four mortals leaving the shop', then only describe three of them in detail. The fourth is the touchstone, rendered unremarkable by the ritual.
    • Escape to True Sanctuary - Have the pack corner the touchstone in a room somewhere in the shop. It looks like the true Hedge-Magicians workshop. Strange books, pendants, sigils everywhere, ritual circles on the floor, etc. Have the Touchstone try to subtly gather everything they need to activate Escape to True Sanctuary (teleporting them from the shop to the Primogen's haven).

      If they notice they can try and stop them, else the seemingly vulnerable touchstone can make their escape.
    • Priest Hole - The Tremere Primogen has had a reinforced hiding spot of some sort built into the magic shop. The Pack arrives in the shop to find no initial signs of the touchstone. A thorough investigation reveals the shop was recently in use (still steaming mug of tea, candles still lit, unfinished meal, etc) and with diligence (or judicious use of disciplines) they can discern the touchstone's hiding place.

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  • Vilenecromancer
    replied
    Under the assumption this is a V5 game, at which case I'll limit my suggestions to things available in V5. Here are some ideas:
    • Protean Curse. The Tremere gave his touchstone a special potion which imparts the effects of the Protean Curse ritual (The Chicago Fiolios; Page 173). After the players approach the building, they may trip some motion sensors, and some thermal sensors may confirm the PCs lack of body heat. The player's may even notice the equipment and hurry up on the kidnapping attempt. By the time the players enter the back room they'll find the target next to a pile of shattered glass, and watch as they slowly transform into a horrific half-man half-bat like abomination!
    • A Family Man. More of a punch to the player's hearts but make the touchstone a father of a child. Maybe a single father, or happily married. Either way, make sure that the child hears the commotion, and witnesses the players kidnap the father.
    • He's a WHAT?! Make the touchstone linked to some other supernatural camp as well. Maybe their the kinfolk of a local Garou tribe, or a practiced hedge mage. This makes the target a higher risk then normal, and may invoke the wrath of the other forces.
    • Empty Fort Strat. According to legend, a Chinese general defended an empty fort by psyching the enemy out. Have the front or back door be unlocked, and the touchstone sitting right in front of the doors. DO NOT WARD ANYTHING! Have the touchstone act calm and collective, a book of spells to his right, and dangerously sharp knife to his left. Have the touchstone invite the group inside for a couple of drinks or something. Describe the man as having an extremely unhealthy pallor, and wearing a extremely well tailored suit. The players may think he IS the Tremere primogen, and either be so intimidated they run away or attack. If they run, watch as they begin to plan excessively about finding the "real" touchstone. If they attack, have the touchstone not even flinch. Here's the kicker, this guy is a Weak Mortal!
    • House Sitting. Have the touchstone be out for the moment, and a friend of his home/shop until he gets back. Player's will trigger the usual ward, kidnap the guy and walk away. Moments later, the real guy will walk in just as they leave. Make sure the players hear this. From there let the scene happen naturally.
    • He's already dead?! Have the players enter the store? Make sure they notice the ward was already activated. Have them stumble onto the touchstone's body, completely drained of blood and his store is a complete mess. If they investigate the store they'll find little useful evidence as to who did this. Have the murders continue in the background. You now have a compelling side plot.

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