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Dark Ages Elder Campaign - 800 AD to 1205 (so far)

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  • #16
    Great read(except the Spanish part, because I don't speak it) I especially like the origin story of Caine. Is there a reason why the elders forced Christianity on the young vampires or was that just a malkavian inspired move for the lulz?

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    • #17
      Spanish part? I thought there were only a pair of titles. My group is Spanish, obviously, but I wrote all the background info in English for the laugh of it, and also so if my players stumbled upon it, since English is not their strong point, so they would not read anything secret.

      About Christianity in my world the prime cultural movers are the mages, not the vampires (who are more in the military/politics side rather, human influence wise), so the elders did not quite enforce Christianity as such. Basically the two main movers of Christianity were Montano from one side and Michael from other. Montano because he felt it would be a great thing to monopolize by the Lasombra clan before other clans would get into it (and he was quite right here, at least, in my world the Catholic church is corrupted by the Lasombra to the very bone), and Michael at first to give a 'higher' call for the mortals in his new Roman dream city (which of course put him at very bad relations with the Lasombra, and only kind of got into an unstable truce just because he allowed the day to day handlings of orthodoxy to the Magnus Lasombra family in Constantinople).

      But as I mentioned, the true drive of Christianity are the Religious traditions, the pre-celestial chorus and then the Cabal of Pure Thought. One of the prime factors of the creation of the inquisition is when the Gabrielites find out how deep vampiric corruption is invading church and then by extension society. In this environment, inquisition is not a matter of true faith and mortals, it's more religious mages and enlightened mortals, since I consider a 'mortal with True Faith' basically a 'religious' mage.

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      • #18
        The Spanish part is on the last pages were you discribe byzantium.
        Thanks for the quick explanation on the Christianity part.

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        • #19
          Ah, alright, I see, that shows how long ago I reviewed that document

          I think it actually just are the main laws of the City, which were translated to Spanish since it was part of the material that was included in the initial documentation I handed the players, which was (obviously) in Spanish.
          Last edited by CathakJordi; 09-08-2015, 04:02 AM.

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          • #20
            THE FLAMING SHADOWS OF TURIN

            In 1237 the players were in the unenviable possition of having to oust the Lasombra inhabitants from Turin, securing the Alpine route in the South, and get it ready for Ventrue rule. Even they agreed they should have probably not accepted the deal with Hardedstadt. They had managed to more or less secure if not the friendship at least the respect from their Toreador neighbours, and to a lesser degree even the southern Lasombra. But they had no idea of how much Ventrue wrath they could attract if they rejected the deal. Confident in their own capabilities, after such a smooth taking of Geneva, they felt indeed confident they could pull this off and gain a clear alliance with the Germanic Ventrue lines, which after all were nominally allied with Paris.

            As with Geneva, the prince of Turin, Berengar of Montecarlo, from the line of Xarca of Massilia, was mostly just ready to face either an outright Ventrue attack, with an approach to the mortal authorities and then a stranglehold on the city resources, or rather a shadowy assesination by his own 'clan colleagues'. Berengar had been one of the prime researchers on Obtenebration, and while ambitious, he was not ambitious in the sense of temporal and territorial power, but in occult and vampiric lore, deriving his own personal prestige in the clan through his wisdom and counsel to others. He knew himself valuable to the power structure in southern France and northeastern Italy of Xarca, his grandisire, and while dosed with the usual healthy paranoia of a Lasombra prince, he did not even imagine a strike into his realm by a group of such heterogeneous vampires such as the group of players.

            That is where similarities with the late prince of Geneva ended. While Count Gerin had been basically a royal prick, disliked by his peers and superiors and only tolerated because of his useful possition in a city that was not considered valued by itself but by its possition in the frontier of the regional powers, and who had an overblown consideration of his charisma, intelligence andimportance, Berengar was a respected, intelligent Lasombra, who knew well which his limitations were and had a clear idea of his personal goals in the grand scheme of things. He had his city well administered, and his family was ordered: his two younger children were the public face that handled the mortal pawns, and he and his right hand and child focused his efforts in their occult research, just communicating with the two younger and less valued Lasombra when a decision was important enough. His haven under the Cathedral of Turin was a well protected and secured underground complex designed to only be accessed normally through with shadow form, and even then designed to confuse and lead to sealable rooms with burning oil traps to potential Lasombra assaulters that would try to attack the underground.

            So when the Ariadne (the Tzimisce Auspex specialist) and Marko (the Malkavian Obfuscation specialist) moved to the city, they went careful, and spent months going step by step to probe the defense systems of the city and gathering intelligence to manage to know how the city worked. They managed to find soon the two Lasombra that at first glance seemed to run the city, but the lack of other kindred made them delve deeper while keeping undetected to realize how the two Lasombra were getting orders from another source. It took them a lot of time and effort to realize the source of the these orders: the Cathedral. And even more time to realize that they had no way to explore the undeground complex themselves. Ariadne would not risk going down in Astral form, having already some clues the guy 'downstair's maybe had defenses or ways to realize such intrusion.

            When they got back to Geneva, the conclussion was clear: they could take out the two Lasombra managing matters in the city, but to assault the Cathedral's catacombs, they needed raw force they did not have, having only a very faint idea of what awaited for them down there.. They had managed to see there was a pair of possible entries through walled doors, a way out that prince Berengar himself had left just in case shadow form was not a viable way out when trying to escape an assault, for some reason or other. That would be their entry point.

            Alliances were considered: gathering some Toreador mercenaries, asking for a ventrue war party from Hardedestadt, or even asking Felix of Barcelona for muscle. But finally they opted to use the combat hardened anarch party of Patricia the Brujah. Patricia's price was free pass through Geneva from there on, having refuges in the domain of Marko the Malkavian... and a personal recommendation to Hardedstadt, with a faked background to work for Hardedstadt in the future. And yeah... a Brujah named Patricia. Gaining the trust of Hardedstadt the elder. You can do the math for the future and gather what Patricia is aiming here for.

            In any case, our group accepted the conditions and they readied for the assault. To cut to the chase, they managed to neutralize the two 'external' Lasombra and get in possition to assault the two workable entrances of the Catacombs. They managed to enter it, but not without grave difficulties. The entry the group of PCs used was more difficult than expected, and Patricia's group managed to get into one of the fiery traps laid by Berengar, half of the Anarch group perishing in the flames. Only Patricia and two of her gangrel companions survived, and one of the Gangrel with sever burns. Still, the group went on, negotiating other traps and managing to reach the inner sanctum of prince Berengar.

            Berengar managed to observe and evaluate the strength of the group attacking him. He realized he had no chance to fully defeating him, specially since he had no idea until hours ago that he was going to be attacked by such a party. As the rational, dispassionate elder he was, he decided to just cut his losses. He sent his last and remaining child to sacrifice himself against the players (and in the process he managed to nearly off Patricia herself, nearly changing future history) and when the players arrived to his room, he still had the time to speak with them and politely ask them who the hell they were (and he was oh so damn polite that the players were proud and stupid enough to actually tell him) and after asking them to take care of his occult library, he escaped through a pipe system in shadow form and leave his city as soon as he could. And privately swearing revenge on princess Zoe of Geneva

            At the end the players were left in control of Turin and hurried to signal Hardedstadt to move his appointed progeny to take control of the city. Hardedstadt's envoy accepted gracefully the help of the Brujah and the two Gangrel to start stablishing defenses before what was expected as the unavoidable future Lasombra attack. Which will take its time, since the Lasombra, and specially Xarca's branch of the clan are still busy in their progrom in Iberia and in Xarca's personal vendetta against Felix of Barcelona (which he will manage during this next decade). But if anything Berengar is patient, and decided to learn from the past.

            The stage is set now. The toreador civil war in France and the crude Lasombra progrom against the muslim kindred in Iberia has introduced a new tactic in nocturnal warfare, even when it's one that violates the laws of Caine: the indiscriminate embracing of new kindred 'en masse' to overwhelm defenders. This is the tactic that indeed Berengar will use to exterminate the Ventrue in Turin in ten years time, and the sheer disregard of Hardedstadt of his own family will be a factor in the coming storm: the implosion of his rule in the Holy Roman Empire. Unfortunately for the players, soon they will realize that their newfound alliance with Hardedstadt is only going to give them more troubles than it is worth.
            Last edited by CathakJordi; 09-15-2015, 04:30 AM.

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            • #21
              Awesome story, , can't wait for the next episode.

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              • #22
                I am now getting to the point that I am going to start building up to have the characters play the Giovanni Chronicles... but as either the conspirators or the proto-camarilla elders that go against them.

                Also probably going to see what I can salvage from the Transylvania Chronicles as adventure ideas.

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                • #23
                  WAR NEVER CHANGES

                  It's 1241, and the characters are still reeling from their attack in Turin, getting (properly) paranoid that the Lasombra they ousted from Turin and whose progeny killed and his collection of books looted will have... a 'small' desire of revenge against them. Even when it's a bit assumed (ex-)Prince Berengar will first try to reconquer Turin back from the Ventrue, measures thus are taken to enforce the security of the city, and the detection of any intruding kindred into their domain.

                  Stilll, news come from the East. The huge war of conquest that Hardedstadt and his Ventrue were faring has ended. And it seems Hardedstadt has won.

                  Of course, not all is as clear cut as it seems. Hardedstadt had been steadily advancing through Prussia and Poland, carving new domains for his childe, the warlord Jürgen, now Jürgen prince of Berlin. Nosferatu, Gangrel and specially Tzimisze have been losing city after city, pushed by the superior tactics and coordination of the two lines of Ventrue, Hardedstadt and his line, and then Gregor Arpad and his line from the Hungarian domains. And then, the Mongols came.

                  The Mongols seemed... unstoppable. And they came with not only a enormous horde of Gangrel that seemed not only seasoned warriors, but leading them was no other than Enkidu, the Gangrel Primarch, a beast of destruction. At first they received just echoes of his fight against Baba Yaga en Kiev, the powerful fight of both Methuselahs ending with a rotund Gangrel victory, Baba Yaga herself barely able to escape as far to the north as she could, to the lands of Novgorod. And then, the Horde turned their attention to the battered lands of Transylvania, seeking to get into the Hungarian plains. The first attacks pierced through the not so long war-weary sides like a hot knife through butter.

                  Reeling from such a disaster and realizing the huge danger that the Gangrel supposed... all four sides of the previous war met and decided to unite against their new common enemy: Hardedstadt and his German Ventrue, his very reluctant allies from the Ventrue Hungarian lines, a part of the bloodlines of the Tzimisce that recognized the danger led by the new Voivode of the south Symeon Lascaris (previous of Constantinople, now the main kindred in Bulgary after the city's destruction) and finally even the Tremere of Ceoris, feared and hated by all decided to lend their assistance against the Horde.

                  The first battles were bloody and exhausting. And in the final battle to drive out the invaders,the new allies found that not only Enkidu and his more powerful sons has disappeared back to the East for unknown reasons, managing to entrap and give the final death to the remaining mongol Gangrel. The Enkidu Gangrels still managed to keep the Russian and Ukranian domains, but the menace for Europe was over. The former enemies, now improvised allies, found themselves bloodied and exhausted. It was time for peace.

                  And soon they found a new war would be coming. While the Tremere just struggled to consolidate their claim and representation, struggling to turning their collaboration in the alliance into a full recognition from the other clans, the german and hungarian Ventrue, and the Tzimisce still struggled for the domains of Silesia, Bohemia and Moravia, And did not seem to find an accord: Hardedstadt figured himself the main victor and claimed the lands for his own for right of Conquest, the Tzimisce reeled against the lands that are... actually very close to the Cathedral of Flesh itself and menaced on renewing the war before losing some of their most ancestral domains, and the Arpad Ventrue had found a new hate for Hardedstadt and his insatiable greed and arrogance, while still wanting to claim as much land as possible from their Tzimisce neighbours.

                  After months of negotiations in the outpost of Wien, the new capital of the Eastern March of the Empire, it was clear that no advance had made. Both the Tremere and the Tzimisce, arguably the weaker sides, claimed for arbitration, and a name emerged, a name that was amiable to both of them: the new princess of Geneva, the Ventrue Zoe of Constantinople. A name that Hardedstadt could hardly argue about, after all she and her greek coterie of elders had managed to make a break into the Lasombra defense of northern Italy for him, and the Arpad... well, with three out of four of the factions agreed in favour, they could hardly argue.

                  Of course, the Arpad Ventrue felt they were about to get screwed. And they were not alone in that. It seemed that lately clan Ventrue could be started to be called clan Mithras. With the primarch Mithras managing to be at the brink of total victory in England and Wales, and Hardedstadt having claimed such an impressive set of victories in the East, the other Ventrue bloodlines felt... menaced. And not only the Arpad line... the other Ventrue lines living in the Empire, specially the Methuselah Cret in his Lorraine domains in Köhln and the descendants of ventrue roman refugees in the northern cities of Bremen and Hannover, felt they had been shafted in the Prussian 'crusade'. Their lines dying in the war alongside the other... and yet every new domain falling without fault in the hands of a descendant of Hardedstadt himself. They realized enough was enough, and finally the war of the Princes would be born out of the greed of the self-proclaimed Ventrue 'Emperor'.

                  Still, our intrepid characters received the invitation for Zoe to come to Wien and arbitrate the final peace deal in the East. With a proclaimed blood pact that anybody who would attact Geneva during the negotiations would earn the ire of all four parts of the negotiation, Zoe, Ariadne, Marko and Otto felt some time away from the city and the prestige that they could get from managing to broker a succesful peace deal would do more for their hold of Geneva than staying and prepare for a Lasombra reprisal. Journey preparations were done, and soon they visited the wonderful new city of the Danube, that one day would house the capital of an Empire... and the most feared Tremere center of power in the world.

                  (more to come soon, this is basically the background to understand what the characters actually played)

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                  • #24
                    WAR NEVER CHANGES (cont.)

                    Our intrepid characters, once assured that the safety of the city would be assured by the parts (with letters sent not only to their French neighbours but also to the Northern Italian princes), just left for their journey to the East, with Zoe leaving the NPC Celsa of Padania, her current lover, as her seneschal in the city during her absence, and with a renewed Gargoyle 'garrison' sent by the Tremere. I made sure to make them see a countryside and cities in peace. From a reception in Zurich and then in a little detour to Aachen, where they could meet a certain Heinrich von Salian, also the elder childe and Seneschal for Hardedstadt (and one who I commented was mockingly known behind his back as 'Hardedstadt the younger' as a critic to his supposed brown nosing an imitation to his sire), they were briefed on the current state of negotiations and then journeyed east to Wien, passing through the rich lands of Bavaria and then the new Eastern Marches of the Empire.

                    While they did notice that the continued pressence and concentration of several vampire contingents was being already a strain on the land and the human population (specially with so many Ventrue among them), Zoe started to try to see which was the situation.

                    Hardedstadt, pure and simple, wanted all the lands in contest. He was the victor, he was the leader, and he had all the rights by conquest to anything he could grab. Plain and simple as that. Jurgen von Verden though, privately told Zoe that even when the official possition of the bloodline was that they claimed everything, they would support any treaty that would make clear they would be getting more than any other parts.

                    It was a warmer reception with the Tzimisce delegation, led by no other than Symeon Lascaris, that not only had parted with them and eased their way out of the city during the Bitter Crusade, but in the way they actually helped to destroy (actually Zoe diablerizing him) his Sire (and Ariadne's sire) Gesu. Ariadne and Symeon still communicated from time to time in the last decades, and Symeon still insisted that Ariadne should return to the fold of the clan and aid him in his rule of the new Obertus Tzimisce in Bulgarian lands.

                    Symeon of course knew that the Tzimisce possition was the weakest. They were losing badly and driven away with their war with both Ventrue factions, and they had failed to drive away the hated Tremere from Ceoris. Not only that... he did not even represent all the Tzimisce factions, many still hating the Ventrue too much after so many loses after a century of war against them. But he said that if him, the representative of the 'reasonable' Tzimisce was sent back empty handed from the negotiations, the war would endure... and that the current Tzimisce lords would even consider opening a gate again to the Horde. Not only that, but the southern part of the lands in dispute were... in the supposed vicinity of the Cathedral of Flesh, where the antediluvian rested. If such ancestral lands of the clan would be occupied, the Tzimisce would fight to the bitter end, and the Ventrue should be wiser to be in the vicinity of an angry antediluvian.

                    Then they visited the Hungarian Ventrue, the Arpad line. Gregor and his childe Nova were just... not hostile, but outright mistrusting as the mediator was not of their choice. Still, they appealed to solidarity with their clanswoman Zoe. They warned her that if things went on as they were, clan Venture should be called rather clan Mithras. If the Arpad Ventrue would get their due, she would gain sympathy from all over the clan, and the influence that would come with it, and show she was not a simple puppet to Hardedstadt and his cronies.

                    And finally they went to the smallest delegation... headed by Meerlinda, from Ceoris.The Tremere just wanted no lands. Just what they held in Ceoris and the surrounding countryside, a land that was not in contest because they had shown everybody they could hold it with their own power, even under massive assault by the other clans. They wanted acceptance and recognition. Just including the Tremere as one of the signataires of the treaty would be enough for them, but of course they would aspire to formal recognition to their current domains. They were just *too* happy with Zoe and her already stated acceptance of their fellow clan brother Otto (whose sire was sired by Meerlinda herself, incidentally), and she knew that of course Zoe would do what she would consider best.

                    I will not tire with the rounds of back and forths, bribe and subtle coercion attempts, the gist of each legation was clear, and the players arrived to a final conclusion: while Hardedstadt would receive indeed the lion share of the contested lands, and the Tremere should get their recognition (but not a stated recognition to their land domains), it was the Tzimisce and the Arpad claims whcih were outright incompatible. It was the southern part of the lands the ones that the Tzimisce considered ancestral lands, and such lands would be the ones that would be the natural to give to the Hungarian lords. So it was either to screw the Arpad Ventrue or the new Obertus Tzimisce.

                    Favouring the Tzimisce was giving an old friend a boost, and a huge help for Symeon's work of stabilization of the Tzimisce clan. If he returned with such lands assured by Hardedstadt, the Tzimisce would consider themselves not slighted, and he would gain prestige in the clan. But the players would gain nothing real. Just not screwing a friend, and a connection that could only possibly benefit them in the long term.

                    Favouring the Arpad would benefit Zoe directly. She would be consider as a true Ventrue and arbitrator for all the clan, and denying the hungarian lords would mark her as untrustworthy and 'not sound' by the clan, something quite bad for a ventrue with her possition. Actually worse considering what was about to explode in the Empire, but even when the Arpad knew and were ready to join soon enough into the new fight they wouuld not if they had gains in the treaty. Of course, this was something that Zoe would not know until too late. The Arpad could not let any of the rising rebellion in the clan get to Hardedstadt ears.

                    Zoe finally opted to favour Symeon. The Arpad were... livid. Well, apart from being already undead and all, they did not make a fuss, but they basically told Zoe that she would regret her decision 'sooner than she expected'. Still, they signed and quietly left, ready to prepare for... the new war.

                    Just as they had left and the other three parts were congratulating themselves for the hard peace finally accomplished in the Easter lands... news came. Lorraine and the norther part of the Empire had rebelled. Repressentatives of Hardedstadt in their cities had been slaughtered, the lords that were not from Mithras line openly rebelling. Aachen itself was being besieged by Cret himself, and Heinrich had finally managed to make his desperate plea for relief to his sire.

                    The situation was... grave for Hardedstadt, who had been willing to compromise realizing that he needed to consolidate his gains, and then finding himself with a war that was far worse than the previous one, half of his Courts of the Black Eagle outright rebelling against him and attacking the other half. And even his new domains in the hands of his own line, but many times in the hands of kindred he considered unreliable and too young. He rushed to gather his troops, and Zoe, finally realizing the danger Geneva was suddenly in, rushed with the rest of the characters back to Geneva.

                    The countryside that they had seen peaceful has erupted in outright war. They barely managed to avoid the cities, even when Zoe had to survive in blood supplies Otto had kept for her. And when they arrived to Geneva, they found the worst was true: the city was being besieged and attack. Of course with Marko's ofuscation they could reach to the city... to find out the city was barely ressisting. The attacking ventrue was using the new tactic of the time, one that was abhorrent in the past: mass embracing and using the new dominated and blood bound children to mass attack the walls during the nights, causing slaughter and despair in the invaders. The characters were shocked to know that there were no less than 25 ventrue neonates in the attacking camp.

                    What was worse: Celsa had died in the first unexpected attack, and the Gargoyles and Zoe''s ghouls had been struggling to ressist the night after night of attack: of the four gargoyles, two already had been killed, and of the other two, one had received too grave attacks to function for a long time. But finally they were home.

                    They studied very seriously the situation and they realized that still what was true in the past was true yet now: vampires were herarchical beings. The neonates were puppets, and while an open confrontation with such an horde of neonates would overwhelm them, if they could take out the head Ventrue controlling them, they could at least break the attack on the city. Liberated from their sire's control, they could be dispersed, uncoordinated.

                    Again, it was risky as hell, but they used their proved tactic of a surgical strike, preceded with the distraction of a night sortie (and the Tremere throwing fire into the siege structures the attackers were starting to build from nearby forests) to infiltrate the general's tent and try to dominate the Ventrue leader.

                    Again, they had the luck of the devil. The plan was at the verge of disaster... but they were fast and lucky (and at this point, considering I have killed three of them during this campaign, they knew I had no trouble of killing them right there if they were not), sending to torpor the Ventrue leader's bodyguard and manage to lock him in place with Zoe's domination. He outright possessed him through domination, and then he went to use his own powers to send the troops north and disperse the troops. Then, thirsty for vengeance for the death of Celsa and the attack to her city, Zoe executed him and sent his remains north with a warning to not fuck with her.

                    The neonates... went crazy when their leader was slain... feeding like crazy on their own troops, frenzying... and dispersing like a plague upon the land, the ones that did not die. But Geneva was safe. For now.

                    The War of Princes had started, and soon it would extend, as the web of alliances would extend west, and south, the ventrue lords calling their allies... giving opportunities to other grievances to surface. Soon fire would engulf more than half of Europe.

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                    • #25
                      We will probably not play again in a while, next time we can gather it will be Exalted for sure. Last session, with the siege of Geneva was really fun. I had the players truly on their edge, actually standing by the table as they made their attack on the Ventrue command tent. I must say it was the first in-game use of Majesty that was fully succesful and had not been performed by super powered individuals (like Michael, Petronius, Caius or Mithras). They could feel the weight of every roll, but apart from a pair of the sneak attacks of the Tzimisce Ariadne (in horrid form) against the ventrue lieutenants, it went really smooth for them. The key was to keep them locked without asking for help, specially the leader, and Zoe kept him locked with domination flawlessly. If a single roll had failed, he would have cried for help, and then about 10 ventrue neonates would have got into the tent and could have easily overwhelmed them (specially the Malkavian is a bit of a glass cannon).

                      I'm slowly adding signature characters during the game:

                      Mica Vykos was killed in Constantinople by Marko, actually (to my eternal hate for the player, I love that character)
                      Lucía de Aragon (I hate 'Lucita', I am Spanish and it sounds abominable, specially for the time period, and specially since I happen to be born in lands that belonged to the Crown of Aragon in medieval times) actually participated as a neonate in the attack on Constantinople in the 4th crusade, and was awarded the right to diablerize the Lasombra player character, sponsored by her Sire Monçada. Actually if she was a daughter of Alfons I of Aragon, her proper name should be 'Lucía Jiménez de Aragón y Roury' or maybe 'Lucía de Jiménez y Roury'.
                      Anatole has just been embraced... by Marko the Malkavian. He was French and I thought that not only Marko was the right generation, but that he would love the sort of attitude he had. And I fancy calling Marko 'Pierre the Imbecile'. I think it fits him And anyway that can be one of the multiple alias he uses to roam the land in his recon strolls.
                      Heinrich von Salian, seneschal of Aachen is destined to become, of course Hardedstadt the Younger.
                      And part of the legations they met during the Toreador civil war and that visited Geneva from Paris was Rafael de Corazon.
                      Of course, they know two key figures of the Anarch revolt: Patricia de Bollinbroke, they have helped to get a trusted possition as a mercenary leader by Hardedstadt the Elder (that will go well, right?), and their first adventure they met Lugoj, first as a desperate neonate trying to hold a desperate possition in the southern frontier of Tzimisce power against Constantinople, and now a budding Anarch leader, starting to acquire dreams of assaulting the eldest one himself, subtly manipulated by the Dracon, in his atempt to kill his sire.
                      Helena the Toreador Methuselah was of course the head of the losing side of the Toreador civil war, and the players allowed her escape through Geneva to Italy and her Lasombra connections, keeping hidden in Italy and then Spain until she can move to the new American lands.

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                      • #26
                        THE REASONABLE LASOMBRA

                        After quite some time, we have finally got back to the lands of Europe in these really dark ages. We left our coterie of elders having just returned to their city of Geneva and managing to fend off the attack of one of the lackeys of the Prince of Köln at great cost. They took warning of this, and readied themselves to withstand future assaults.

                        Not only our princess Zoe finally decided to start a family (preferring to embrace a single lady to be her contact, seneschal... and lover, but then making her embrace two male ventrue with martial abilities to manage in a more public way the military aspect of the country), but the Tzimisce Ariadne also has worried enough at the close shave they had, and worried that the spiritual legacy of the Obertus she finally decided to embrace a young and promising monk of the city. Our Malkavian has already his own childe, Anatole, but he is used more as a messenger... and the approach of Marko to parenting is... *very* loose (while our two ladies are extensively grooming their new descendance).

                        By now the players are 4 centuries old elders, feared and respected by their peers, and of course the new neonates are in awe to them. We will see how things will evolve in the future. I still have to flesh them out truly well.

                        A new attack to the city never materializes. Hardedstadt grip on the courts of the black eagle has been shattered, but his loyalists have remained steadfast even in the face of ambush and defeat. After the first cities are lost, the campaign focuses more in relieving the sieges of Zurich and Aachen, which will hold for nearly five years before Cret is managed to be finally turned back. The malkavian player, Marko, was sent as aid to Hardedstadt in the final stages of the siege, and he got a taste of how big vampiric sieges really happened and are manages (of course, in a Ventrue vs. Ventrue fashion). Still, while Hardedstadt has lost the north of the German lands fully to his enemies, and the princes of his own families in the new domains basically become independent, he manages to restablish his core in the south and the upper Rhine. And after that, he pushes up directly to Köln, thinking the origin of everything is Cret the Methuselah.

                        But in many ways, he is sorely mistaken. While Hardedstadt spends resources in a bitter fight to fight Cret in Köln (Cologne in French), he loses more and more control over Germany and his own line. Not only does the younger of his clan ignore his authority in a way they would not have ever dared just two decades before, but the tight control that Germany presented to the entry of 'Low Clan' savages is broken fully. Bands of rogue Gangrel, Nosferatu, Malkavian and others start to plague the lands... and what is more, the mass embracing tactics that Hardedstadt and his enemies are forced to take in the savage multiple sieges of the towns through germany leave a population of wild neonates, mostly Ventrue but also from other clans, that are left in the wild and barely educated in the laws of Cain, and as such start to ravage the land, and manage to destroy or at least damage the cities that even the war had not touched.

                        This is the main problem that the players face in the next two decades... their control over the region becomes tenous as they have incursions of neonates trying to infiltrate through the chaos, and respecting no tradition of Caine. In a way, it ends up embittering the elders, that are forced to slaughter again and again the roving bands of kindred that arrive to their lands or try to feed in the city. The war is slowly but clearly eroding the traditions that held the vampires through the dark ages, and many humans start to fear the dark and the monsters that suddenly reveal themselves so much more freely to them. Tales of slaughtered farmhouses, of little villages destroyed and drain to the last children start to sound through the realm. And the worse it goes, the worse the elders ignore the traditions and rules that had kept the world of the Dark Ages safe in the grasp of the kindred. Mass embracings keep happening, and mass slaughters and the bitterness they provoke in the survivors as they flee to new domains just make the vicious new cycle keep repeating itself.

                        Of course, this is not something the player characters can even see. As many, they just care about their own domain, and if anything makes them collaborate with the princes around them to try to control better the tide of wild neonates.

                        And just as Cret is finally ousted from Köln, and it seems that Hardedstadt might regaint he control of the situation... the Lasombra strike. An alliance of princes from the north of Italy see the chance to oust fully the Lasombra from the Italian imperial cities that still were not Lasombra. Turin, the city that the players managed to reconquer for the Ventrue, falls at the onslaught and the Ventrue are slaughtered, and cities that had been for centuries in the rule of the Lasombra, such as Verona and Triest, are overwhelmed by the Lasombra driven armies. Hardedstadt... can only barely react to this. He still has a lot of enemies he has to take care of in the North, and his oldest son Heinrich barely manages to organize a defense, and evacuate the first cities.

                        Of course, of the two main routes north... one goes *straight* through Geneva, and the players are suddenly aware of that. When the neighbouring Duke of Savoy lays claim to the county of Geneva, they know it's finally their turn. Marko goes to start scouting and verifies that an army is getting assembled to go up the pases to Chambery... then to their castle at Annecy... and finally to assault the city of Geneva, that having been protected by them, had even swollen in population as the rest of the imperial lands was immersed in chaos. And of course, they know well that prince Alberico, the Lasombra elder they ousted from Turin, and whose kin they slaughtered, is the driving force behind that army.

                        But Alberico is a reasonable enemy. He is a scholar, not a warrior or a soldier, and while he loves power, he is just content on reclaiming what is his. He has of course made an example of the Ventrue that were occupying their city, and knows by now that the Byzantine elders ini Geneva are not only each one as individually powerful as he is, but also were basically acting on behalf of Hardedstadt. So he can really forgive and forget. Well, he *could* if it was not for something... they had ramsacked his library and taken valuable relics (including the supposed true Shroud of the Christ). And that is *his*. So when he plans the attack he always has in mind that his target is not the city of Geneva, that he does not want to occupy or take care of, or revenge, that he has taken already against Hardedstadt's ventrues, but to recover his stuff. He calls in favours owed from the Lasombra in Rome... and he gets the services of none other than Trajan the Nosferatu. The killer of Caius of Constantinople, that my players so 'fondly' remember.

                        So the army invades the county of Geneva... and despite the terror tactics that Marko and Hans (our Tremere) start to employ to delay and detain the invading army, a siege is stablished around the castle of Annecy (the seat of the count, and the perfect supply point to secure a siege against the city of Geneva). Marko is... a bit surprised that he can't actually see any vampire directing the invading army behind the scenes... and even while he keeps ruining supplies, killing sentries and the Tremere keeps using weather control to make the lives of the invading soldiers *really* miserable, and he sees fingerprints of vampiric activity in the army itself (the leaders are clearly dominated to keep going despite the terror tactics, for instance). His each time bolder raids into the attacking army seem to have no supernatural reply.

                        But of course, that is just according to the plan for Alberico and Trajan. Alberico is just keeping a distance from the army... and Trajan is counting that his obfuscation is good enough to not be noticed by the attacking parties. Instead, he just watches the patterns of attacks that Marko and Hans have each night, noticing also that while they can't see him... his own auspex is not good enough to detect Marko until he strikes. So they remain patient, until he just becomes *too* bold. After all, if they attack, Marko can use his obfuscate to just vanish before them. And again, what Alberico does not want is to take a useless city as the PCs fly away with his books and the Shroud to god knows where.

                        So when the moment comes, Trajan attacks. When finally he guesses where Marko is attacking next... he manages to send him into a violent frenzy through his animalism discipline so he will not be able to just vanish, and then proceeds to beat him into a pulp. He barely succeeds. Wounded and about to be defeated, Marko manages to finally get a grip of himself. But just as the fist of the Nosferatu crushes his face.

                        A more vengeful Lasombra would have made sure that one such as a Marko would pay the price for having attacked his city. But not Alberico. Now he has a hostage. And his first idea is to just ransom him for his stuff. And to his delight, it works. Zoe and Ariadne hate it... but no matter how much they hate the humiliation and to have their bounty from Turin taken from them... they accept the exchange.

                        With his stuff back in his hands... he is ready to just call things off. After all, he knows by now that the Clan Toreador has a debt to at least Zoe and Ariadne (for their actions in Crete, 300 years before) and he has no intent of bringing that onto him. With the token recognition, from a mortal point of view, that the count of Geneva owed feudal fealty to the Duke of Savoy, he retreats his forces (and also with the justification of the miserable weather, actually the Tremere in action, and the savage guerrilla war that the swiss were inflicting on his army, actually the work of Marko). He also knows that something is going to happen in northern Italy... being away from Turin while dealing in an extended siege with the elders of Geneva might be really unwise. And it has impressed him also that Marko's friends are loyal enough that they prefer to save his existence rather than keeping the treasure. He makes good note of that.... not as a possible weakness, but actually realizing they could be trusted in the future.

                        And he is not wrong. While the princes of Milan and Genova are busy conquering the southern ventrue, Narses of Venice strikes and betrays his 'fellow Lasombra'. A new inter-clan war erupts in northern Italy... and soon the web of favours, of alliances that the clan Lasombra has been building during the last succesful century will suddenly collapse and explode in an all against all power grab. And when they have been laughing at the way the Ventrue were destroying themselves, now they are going to taste the same medicine.
                        Last edited by CathakJordi; 01-18-2016, 01:25 PM.

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                        • #27
                          It has been some time, we have been playing Exalted during the last half year... but we are back at this.

                          THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY...

                          During the following decade, the reports from the south of the players' domain in Geneva are confused. Those Lasombra are a secretive bunch for sure, and if anything they just know that Hardedstadt is trying his best to defend his Tirolese and Bavarian domains as well as he can. Which is not much, considering he still has 'traitors' to hunt in a through out purge of clan Ventrue through the Empire, and an explosion of low clans population throughout his domains. If anything, some of those can be useful, and he finds himself relying more and more on the group of expert mercenaries led by that female Brujah named 'Patricia of Bollingbroke' that came highly recommended by the Byzantine elders in Geneva. Sure, that is going to work out well.

                          Still, the offensive is lacking momentum, and no important city is taken. That is because the daring attack of Camilla of Rome against the Ventrue has been betrayed nearly simultaneously in every front at the hands of the major Lasombra powerholders. All is smoke and mirrors, feint over feint, and a gambit pileup that shows that the main actors of the Lasombra clan had been planning for quite some time. While Camilla and his minions attack the south of the Empire and purge the last remains of Ventrue authority in northern Italy, the rest of the clan begins to move. Monçada finally moves in Iberia and daringly assassinates the prince of Barcelona and ousts his rivals from the eastern coasts of Spain that was in the hands of his enemies in the clan. Still, he has to pay the price and in the confusion, there is a low clans uprising led by a charismatic Brujah who ousts the Lasombra and names himself prince of Lisbon (a certain elder from Constantinople... that is, this is my Brujah PC from the first act of my campaign, whose player no longer plays this second act). But overall, Monçada rules most of Iberia now. This would have normally be countered by the princes of Marseille and Genova. But they have been stabbed in the back by Narses from Venice, who under the pretense of helping the northern offensive infiltrated and then tried to take for himself and his Cainite Heresy the northern cities of Italy, some of them freshly conquered from the Ventrue and thus still weak.

                          This seems to weaken the offensive of Camilla from Rome on Ventrue lands. BUT, suddenly, out of nowhere, she appears in Sicily and makes an attempt on Montano himself to try to put herself as second to the Antediluvian only. And when the attempt fails that provokes again an attack by Nahir of Milan on taking Rome itself. Like a domino, the chips of vengeance and ambition are falling on top of each other in the Lasombra clan. And unlike the Ventrue civil war, with two clear sides (basically, Cret vs. Hardestadt) sides fighting directly in the cities of the Empire, this looks like everybody against everybody. There are at the very least in this phase five different factions at the same time fighting against each other (the Iberians of Monçada, the Milanese of Nahir, the Roman of Camilla, the Venetian of Narses and the Sicilians of Montano), and everybody is completely and utterly unsure of who to trust. I hope the whole thing really feels difficult to follow, because that was exactly my intent here.

                          As it stands, it's soon a deadlock, specially among the supposed bigger players: Camilla is locked in Sicily against Montano and Nahir is locked in Rome against Camilla. Monçada has been victorious in Spain and knows he is holding to his gains because of the fact the three most powerful and influential Lasombra (Montano, Nahir and Camilla) are fighting each other for clan supremacy. Narses is attempting the same maneuver in Northern Italy, and so far is succeeding. So far he has managed to assassinate Nahir's main allies in the region.

                          But while Monçada is despised by the other powerplayers of the clan, Narses is *hated*. Him turning into a major player is something that neither Montano, Nahir or Camilla want, and they tacitly agree that something must be done about him, finally. The whole Cainite Heresy thing is a thing they could agree to hate with a passion and this was the chance to at least crush its main focus point. Even the antediluvian seems to take a personal interest in this, and his choice to have embraced a northern Italian man, a certain Gratiano de Veronese, seems to have steemed to have a man in place for this occasion.

                          As it is, though, an open move from one of them is still something not possible. One of them grabbing the powerbase of Venice is something that the others can't allow. So... why not invite a third party to do the legwork and to put the face in this attempt. Someone that would also hate Narses with a passion, that has no territorial ambitions in Venice and that can be trusted not to turn on their employers? And yet who owed no allegiance or favours to any of the current Lasombra factions? Why... who could that be? Of course, the very elders that come from that big city that Narses betrayed, nearly a century ago.

                          Alberico of Turin, the very elder they ousted from Turin for Hardedstadt and that managed to recover his city and then go to attack Geneva itself (actually getting the better of the players) is part of the Nahir faction, actually... and contacts the PCs for supposed peace negotiations. With the Parisian Toreador guaranteed mediation (this took some negotiation...) they gather in Lyon to discuss frontiers. Of course, this is an excuse. Narses has infiltrated his heretics through northern Italy and suberted many lasombra agents, and this attack on Venice should have the benefit of surprise. Once he feels sure that Narses can't be watching them or this can't arrive to him, he makes the real proposal to the PCs: an opportunity of vengeance against their old enemy. After some hesitation, my players accepted. There was no denial that they would be used as the 'face' of the attack once everything was said and done, to not worsen the Lasombra infighting. They were also ok with this.

                          There was first a secret meeting to plan the attack. Alberico and Gian Galleazo (yes, I know he was embraced in canon much later but... *shrug*) came to represent the Milanese faction. Monçada and his best agent Lucia of Aragon felt confident enough of his control in Iberia to come directly, and the Montano/Sicilian faction was represented by Gratiano Veronese (who while 4th generation, was just 100 years old). Only Rome was not represented, but they truly were the faction in most trouble at the moment in their two front war, besieging in Palermo and getting besieged in Rome. And finally, from Setite lands their old 'friends' the followers of Set Sarrasine and his sire Khay'tall, one of their few fellow survivors from the fallen city, came to help for their share of revenge.

                          Long story short, since this is basically a dungeon crawling part, I will not bore you with the details. Lots of cultists, some blasphemous altar, quite some stuff obviously stolen from Constantinople during the 4th crusade that specially my Tzimisce PC recognized (and made her blood boil with anger). At the end, they trapped and fought bitterly with Narses and his lieutenants, Khay'tall himself falling at Narses hands before he could be finally finished. Even then, there was a tense standoff with the spoils, with Monçada insisting in burning all the 'heretical' texts that Narses had, many of them stolen from the hidden library of Constantinople, while my PCs tried their best for this not to happen. They failed and Monçada burnt it all, while they could only rescue some precious artifacts and works of art... including the matching headpiece, a black helmet that clearly belonged to a certain strange set of black armour they first had seen in Crete, so many centuries ago...

                          All in all, the situation in this very intense war of the princes seemed to be finally quietening down. France was in peace, with the princess of Paris in full control of the courts of the Rose. Hardestadt was finally cleaning of the Empire, as the attack of the Lasombra had just been a feint to initiate the Lasombra infighting. Mithras was about to crush the last opposition in England. The sieges of Rome and Palermo seemed stalled, and it seemed that now that Narses had been utterly eliminated, and the Monçada 'young Iberians' seemed to be accepted, an agreement could be reaches.

                          Of course, this is the moment that the princes (Queen) of Paris, thought it was a good moment to extend the influence of the Courts of the Rose onto the weakened Ventrue and Lasombra domains...

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                          • #28
                            I was wondering if there is some way to edit the tittle, being the O.P... since this is no longer to 1204 (they are in 1284 rright now, in fact).

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                            • #29
                              Read the opening post through thr 1204 fall of the city. I'm sure this was game fun, but as a history nerd, I think if I was a player I'd be annoyed that history rolled on unchanged despite beginning the game in 800.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Alucard View Post
                                Read the opening post through thr 1204 fall of the city. I'm sure this was game fun, but as a history nerd, I think if I was a player I'd be annoyed that history rolled on unchanged despite beginning the game in 800.

                                Well, I had the advantage that the players had no idea at all of how it was supposed to happen, so that was not that bad. From the human history point of view, the characters did not possition in ways that they could change things more (I think I would have allowed that to happen if they had gone that way). From the vampiric point of view they have changed some things, but still they have not been on the power level to bring really significative differences, but they have produce some key changes (I think the main one is one the Malkavian character killed Myca Vykos, that is going to have some pretty heavy changes in the Sabbat and in Simeon's fate in the Carpathian region).

                                Now in the war of the princes they are becoming major players, and they are possitioned to heavily influence the upbringing of the Camarilla (since they really don't look like Sabbat material), and at the very least, specially given the last events (first the eastern peace treaty that they arbitrated in Hardedstadt favour, and the events that unfolded until this very last weekend, that I still have to describe), they are in really good relations with Hardedstadt's court and they have a good contact with other of the founders, Rafael de Corazon (right now a simple ancillae in the court of Paris).

                                I will try through this week to post the last part of the war of the princes and the end of this second part.

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