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

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

    I have been directing an elder campaign for about two years, and finding myself with some free time at work, and having been lurking these forums for a good while, I have decided to share what has transpired so far, hoping it would amuse, entertain and maybe, only maybe help other GMs with my experiences. This is going to be a first long post...

    First of all, this campaign was designed as a rebound from a years long Exalted campaign that had been going on for years also (we are quite the veteran crew) and that got abruptly interrupted as the GM (one of my players) got depressed because of events in his own RL (justifiably so, I must add). At first the idea would be giving more breathing space to the exalted sessions, but of course, we ended up just playing my campaign. Also the whole ambience and background was reworked quite differently from canon (I made a full age by age progression of kindred, indicating the working of every antediluvian from the second city, and the cities tend to be much more clan organized, the norm is that cities are usually controlled by a single clan, and sometimes by a single line of blood in that clan, with some notable exceptions such as Constantinople and the cities influenced by Constantinople's triunvirate).

    I used some very wacky house rules in some very specific areas, while following the system mostly on the rest. The main difference is that I totally eliminated the experience system. I have designed a system where attributes and age can only be gained with age, the direct passing of years (at a first rate from 0 to 200 years, then slower 200 to 1000 years, then much slower from 1000 forward), and only influenced by generation (lower generation gains power a bit faster with the years). The rest of the sheet was accorded and would vary directly according to the background and actions of the character. Oh, and abilities would always top at 5, no matter the generation.

    And the premise of the game was crazy enough, but we had come from the uber-epic sensation that Exalted provides and I wanted to keep a bit of that: the start would be at 800 AD, with characters craeted in the city of Constantine, in the aftermath of the destruction of Antonius (basically to replenish the city after the deaths happened at the infighting). I allowed generations between 6th and 8th, and that depending on the clans of choice of the players. A core family character (Toreador, Ventrue, Tzimisce) would start at 6th, a secondary family character would start at 7th, and the rest would start at 8th.

    These were the starting characters:

    Ariadne: an illuminated young nun with visions, embraced by Gesu of the Tzimisce.
    Zoe Konmena: a young and enterprising widowed noble lady, embraced by Septimia of the Ventrue
    Nikodemos Diogenes: an aspiring talented poet and philosper, of noble origin, embraced by Petronius of the Toreador
    Vincenzo Tabola: an ambitious and ruthless venetian merchant embraced by Narses of the Lasombra
    Young Thomas: a rough guard embraced by Baron Feroux

    The starting roster at 800 ad was roughly adapted from the setup of WW's Constantinople by night (their sheets completely redone according to my new power system), adding prominent characters that had been killed in the official book by that time (Septimia of the Ventrue, Trebonius of the Brujah, for instance) and making a very earlier birth date for some others that had not been embraced at 800 AD (like Thomas Feroux of the Gangrel, but keeping the same age he had in the book).

    And this is how it went... Probably a lot of this will only make sense if you are familiar with the source material of Constantinople by Night.

    0. The Fourth Council (796 AD)

    This was the starting point where all the initial characters were embraced, in the chaos of one of the worst ichonoclastic revolts in the Eastern Roman Empire capital. After the destruction of Antonius the triunvire and their allies, some key kindred in his defeat were allowed the right of embracing new kindred to replenish the cities, and the characters, with a few others, were the ressult of this. As Narses the Lasombra had returned to the city to aid against Antonius, he was rewarded with his own family and a the right to embrace a new vampire. Something that truly angered Magnus of the Lasombra, head of the until then only Lasombra family of the city, and of course quietly backed by Belisarius the Ventrue. What proved an even bigger challenge for the newly embraced Lasombra, as after a pair of years later Narses would leave his new childe alone in Constantinople to fend for himself and show he was strong enough to survive. Magnus clearly made his new objective in his (un)life to ruin and destroy this new upstart family.

    The relations of the players with their sires were very varied. Nikodemos and young Thomas, for instance, were quite taken and totally loyal to their sires. Ariadne was loyal to Gesu, and fascinated by his religious visions, but there was a big part of the blood bond in that. Vincenzo was... a bit angry with the 'rough love' upbringing sort of his sire. And Zoe was the new complete sex slave bitch to her sire Septimia, unable to escape because of the blood bond. And yes, I decided that in such ambience, blood bonds were the norm in medieval Europe from sire to childe.

    1. The Fortress of Emona (800 AD)

    Magnus kept consipiring those years, and managed to send the newly embraced kindred to what he thought a too dangerous mission. The northern frontier of the Empire had been constantly pushed by the bulgarian tzimisce voivodate, and when a fortress that was nominally protected by the Empire had been invaded and fallen to the northern Tzimisce, destroying the local Malkavian (childe of Constantinople's own local malkavian Gregorius) he pushed forward the idea that the new kindred should prove their worth to the city retaking the fortress. Privately he had the (bad) report that it was a full Tzimisce infestation, so he was hoping to get rid of one of his rival Lasombra (and well, if the other new kindred died, well, he would help all but Narses to embrace someone new again).

    The players were faced with a mission in the north, not really knowing what to expect. Fortunately they were lucky, as of course Magnus own actions had been influenced by a much powerful player for them to find something far more interesting in that lonely fortress. The Dracon, with the death of Antonius, had decided that with the death of Antonius the dream of the city was lost, and his plans switched to a very long term plan to finish his own sire, the Tzimisce Antediluvian.

    As such, the characters not only found that the fortress was only occupied by a single Tzimisce named Lugoj (left there in the same way they had been sent there: to be finished by Byzantine reprisal) and his ghouls, but that the Tzimisce had good reasons to attack and destroy the Malkavian that had occupied the fortress before, as he had been researching the nature of vampire blood... by regularly riding north and capturing Tzimisce (and some passing Gangrel and Nosferatu) neonates, using them for horrific and lethal experiments.

    After succesfully infiltrating the fortress and defeating Lugoj (and be nearly about to kill him), they discovered the research of the Malkavian, and found that among a lot of garbage there was a little gem: he had found a way to break the blood bond. Basically he had found what would came to be called eventually the Vaulderie. Despite some protrests from the toreador player, who honestly thought that the blood bond was for their own good, they ended up doing it... and breaking the blood bond their sires had on them. While there were not much difference in the attitude of those who had been well treated (Nikodemo and Thomas), the others could suddenly see the bowls of shit and abuse they had to eat for the last 4 years out of the 'love' they felt for their sires (specially Zoe). Since Lugoj was there in similar grounds (he had been sent to die as he had belonged to a defeated faction in a voivodate power struggle that his sire had dragged him to), they ended up becoming friends with him, helping him to escape towards the West and promise to communicate regularly to keep a contact out of the city

    To Magnus' chagrin, they returned to Constantinople victorious and without the knowledge of their sires free of blood bond with them, but decided to behave as if the blood bond was still active, and secretly and privately meeting each month to keep the vaulderie going to keep themselves free of any future blood bond (even when they noticed they felt quite friendly to each other because of it).

    And of course they are painfully aware that if their sires knew they have broken the blood bonds, or if elders in general knew that blood bonds can be broken, they would be killed in an instant to keep that knowledge extinct.

    2. The Pliska Disaster (811 AD)

    The next decade saw the players stablishing themselves more firmly in Constantinople, becoming respected neonates, despite the hate and enmity of Magnus, who kept conspiring to destroy at least Vincenzo, and finding it much harder given his friendship to the children of two kindred that outranked him: Gesu and Petronius.

    In any case, Caius, the new leader of the Ventrue, saw fit to reaffirm his new possition as triunvire with military conquest. The Roman armies would come north to recover the territories north of the Danube, and the kindred of the city would be there to defeat the voivodate of the Tzimisce.

    Long story short: despite the initial success of the campaign, with half the kindred of the city in the army, and after sacking the enemy capital and destroying several tzimisce nests, they end up badly ambused in the way back, with a huge army of Tzimisce and a *ton* of war ghouls of all kinds and sizes. What ensues is a terrible defeat in which a lot of the Roman kindred are killed, including the player Thomas the Gangrel and the Toreador player also nearly died, rescued at the last time. The other three decided to fight their escape before the ambush and managed to break through just with some difficulties. Belisarius the Ventrue is one of the presumed dead kindred, but actually was rescued by his assamite lover and decided to roam the world.

    3. 1st Long Interlude (810-950 AD)

    The shame of the defeat pushed the kindred of the city to start working toguether and put their differences behind despite all, now for real. The Ventrue suffered the blunt of the shame here, and their influence greatly declined, but despite all the Tzimisce triunvire, the Dracon, after the situation had stabilized enough, left finally the city, leaving his son Gesu in charge. There were several one-session modules here, one investigation about getting a book for the the hidden library, a brief adventure in Antioch, a gangrel kievan rus raid into the city, etc. But the collaboration of Petronius the toreador and Caius the much more humbled ventrue brought the city back from its knees, greatly expanding its influence and putting a golden era of peace and prosperity in the city.

    After the griveous defeat at Pliska, again the city allowed several embracings of new kindred, and accepted even kindred from outside. The player that died heroically in Pliska was rewarded with a 6th generation Brujah (Rolfus of Asturias is his name), that had been fleeding a purge of his clan in Iberia, at the hands of Ventrue and (specially) Lasombra. Nikodemos, the Toreador player earned a lot of prestige in the city and become the right hand of his sire Petronius, and also Zoe earned some reputation through her merchant dealings with the West. Vincenzo the Lasombra becomes highly frustrated with the lack of help his sire Narses provides at the continued humiliations he suffers at the hands of the local Lasombra. Without the blood bond, he starts to conspire against him. And likewise, slowly Ariadne becomes more and more detached from her sire Gesu and much closer to the much more reasonable and much less mystical Symeon (brother in life and childe in undeath to Gesu, and the reason Antonius was destroyed in 796AD).

    Also the players will keep contact with Lugoj and his new band of roving kindred mercenaries and anarchists, that practice vaulderie on their own and start to spread the knowledge that blood bonds can be broken...

    4. The Relief of Crete (961 AD)

    Suddenly, all the Toreador of the world suffer a calling. The antediluvian herself is pleading the help of her children, of her whole clan, as her hidden refuge in Knosos, Crete, is attacked by an ambitious Assamite Methuselah and about one third of the Assamite clan. Of course, the first to answer and organize a massive rescue mission is the most important and ancient Toreador mehtuselah in the world, Michael of Constantinople. He makes a calling, inviting other clans to help, in exchange for a book from the Toreador clan.

    The whole adventure was basically a war scene, from the taking of the beach, to the fight to the besieged palace of Knosos, to the attack into the palace itself. During the attack, my toreador player's Nikodemos lost his head in a combat against some Assamite warriors, but the other characters managed to survive to enjoy the victory. The assamite clan is greatly weakened by the defeat, and that allows the muslim Gangrel to much more influence in the muslim controlled lands and the raise of the Turks as the dominant muslim faction. The Toreador Antediluvian, that the (surviving) players briefly see, is taken to an unknown location by her loyal childe Michael. During the attack in the palace they see very valuable background information but being PCs they of course mostly ignore or forget it.

    The Lasombra player asked as his boon to be granted his own family apart from Narses, throwing out the 'legal' control of his sire over him, and earning the immortal enmity of Narses (but earning the friendship of the local Lasombra and the rest of the city). The other PCs reserved their boons, and as part of the background of the new character of the Toreador player, a 7th generation Malkavian was granted citizenship in Constantinople. As part of his background, heTwo down, three to go.

    Oh, and so you can get an idea of the sort of new character we have, he is basically a low class vigilante that has a very sharp sense of his own justice and a hatred for things like the blood bond and domination. And as he puts it in his own words: 'I'm Batman!'. Which will make him either very dead or eventually the Malkavian justicar... His name

    5. Septimia's Murder Mistery (1001 AD)

    One night, after a wild party, the powerful Ventrue Septimia, second in rate in her family, appears destroyed and nobody has any idea of who has done it. What is more, considering the abuse that Septimia piled up on her own children, one of them Zoe (the Ventrue player), they are clearly the prime suspects.

    Again, long story short, after a long deal of intrigue and political maneuvering, and several parties investigation, the players find out but not reveal that a group of human hunters were the ones responsible of the killing, but they were at least partially aid indeed by the youngest childe of Septimia. An unknown party of assamite assassins is given the blame, and Zoe ascends to the possition as second in charge and Caius right hand in the Ventrue family.

    6. Second long Interlude (1001 AD - 1071 AD)

    Again, many things happening, and several little plots unfolding. For once, the revenge against the Tzimisce Voivodate is planned, and this time done well. Belisarius reappears alive (well, uh, unlife? unliving?) and helps the Brujah character and Caius in finally finding and defeating the Great Voivode of the Tzimisce, a powerful 4th generation methuselah. Still, Belisarius returning to the city puts in doubt the possition of the Ventrue player Zoe. Everybody expects a great political fight... but to everybody's surprise, Zoe just surrenders without conditions nor any sort of opposition and fight to losing power, so loses a lot of face for her family and the city. Oh, and my malkavian 'batman' has stablished several 'targets' in the most 'depraved and criminal' kindred of the city. The top of the list has the toreador artists (completely maddened with the blood curse their sire carries), Myca Vikos (childe of Symeon), and the family of followers of set accepted in the city. He finds a chance during the invasion and manages to kill Myca Vykos. Yes, he kills one of the main canon characters... but he played it really smooth, I swear. His next plans are for the toreador 5th generation of the city (well, except Petronius, who is pretty decent).

    The madness of Michael starts to worsen and it starts to get noticed. Not only that, but it's affecting the rest of the Toreador, and even the kind and reasonble Petronius, one of the true keystones of the city's stability appears a bit... 'off'. The characters, though, did not choose to investigate this but superficially. Petronius descends further into depression and overwork, truly accumulating too much work in his shoulders, not daring to trust anybody with it since the death of his childe in Crete.

    The main drama happens in the Tzimisce family. Symeon acquires a mortal lover that plans to embrace. But surprising everybody, Gesu not only embraces his own childe's lover, but actually diablerizes her in a very disgusting vicissitude-using process. Symeon is outraged, but once contained, he decides to submit to his sire and swear bloody revenge...

    One little fun module we did is that nearly all the players (I think only Rolfus the Brujah missed it) escorted Alexia Theusa and her children to the Cappadocian convocation, and are outside witneses of the terrible events, the terrible in-clan purge, that happened there.

    And finally the Tremere enter the game, the players sent to investigate the north after the defeat of the Voivode, where rumours of an unknown third party was attacking the tzimisce, to find out they are really... odd. An attempt of contact is tried on the part of the PCs, but due to some misunderstandings, they end up fighting with the Tremere envoy, both retreating without casualties.

    7. The crusades and the latin neighbourhood massacre (1072 AD - 1180 AD)

    After the unexpected and terrible defeat of Manzikert, the muslim Gangrel and assamite controled turks exile or exterminate the constantinople influenced Anatolian kindred, and drive back the Caius and Belisarius lead armies. As one ressult, the western powers convocate a crusade, and behind it it's the powerful methuselah Mithras, old enemy of Constantinople before he was thrown out from his persian domain by the Assamite, trying to recover what he considers his.

    The old enemy asks for help and supplies to his old enemies, via Narses the Lasombra, and despite the firm opposition of Belisarius who advocates for an alliance with the assamite against the west, finally it's the 'western' party who wins and accepts to help the new crusade. There are quite the parties during the stays of the crusader kindred in Constantinople and some not so fun encounters (and so you can have an idea, since I illustrate NPCs with pictures from the net, I use Peter Capaldi to show who Mithras is...).

    At first the collaboration goes pretty well. Mithras promises to return Antioch and the rest of Anatolia to Byzantine influence and just keep south from there, and the double push of the byzantine armies and the 1st crusade sees how Constantinople recovers most of what had lost. But of course, Mithras and his allies don't return Antioch after it's recovered, and the tensions start again.

    Narses meanwhile had restablished his pressence in Constantinople through his new childe Alphonso, but this time the relations are much worse, as he takes advantage and abuses the terms of his citizenship and the treaties with the western powers, harbouring in his domain inside the city latin kindred that had not been properly welcome and presented to the triunvirate. The italian merchant kine controlled by the Lasombra also greatly abuse the trade treaties that had been put in place to aid both the crusade and the byzantine own military effort in Anatolia.

    When things start to go military worse both for the crusades and for byzantine armies (who suffer again a really bad defeat in 1175), both the kindred and the kine of Constantinople start to get really angry and move against the latin 'invaders'. Finally there is a conspiration to exterminate them once and for all. The conspiration is organized by Magnus the Lasombra, but of course my Lasombra PC participates quite enthusiasthically. The other PCs are not lured into it, though, from having doubts to outright thinking it's a terrible idea. Only the Malkavian agrees to help a bit, in the end, and that only because it allows him to 'punish sinners' in that side of the city.

    The plan goes pretty well and the kindred and kine of the latin neighbourhood are destroyed... except their leader Alphonso saved with the powers of his new ally Abetorius the Tremere.

    Magnus and his allies honestly think that after this the triunvirate will accept things as 'fait accompli' and just accept dealings with the Western Powers were a no go.

    They are very surprised when they find Petronius livid with rage, and when the triunvirate brands the conspirators as savage murderers and in violation of the city's laws.

    As a ressult Magnus and his Lasombra and his allies are executed. Rolfus the brujah has to use his boon to change the sentence of death to exile to his own kindred lover (another Brujah that had survived the disaster of Pliska) Natalya. And to everybody's surprise, Gesu declares that Vincenzo did not participate in the killing but was with him in 'religious meditation'. Even when many saw Vincenzo participating in the massacre, the weight of the testimony of the Tzimisce triunvire carries the word of law, and so he is declared innocent. The rest die, though. Constantinople is hit with a wound as big as the Iconoclast revolt and the disaster of Pliska, but this time they will not be able to recover.

    8. The Fourth Crusade (1181-1204)

    Well, so many things happen... again to make the story short, the city is betrayed from within and without, besieged by a crusade supposed to just go through the city that gets entailed with local politics, and in the end the western kindred and inner collaborators (which would be Gregorius the Malkavian, Symeon the Tzimisce and Belisarius the Ventrue) invade and exterminate most of the kindred of the city. All three triunvires die, Michael at the hands of the Baali Mary the black, guided by Gregorius, Gesu by his own childe and brother Symeon, and Caius being hunted down by a group of powerful western elders, and most of the families with them.

    Vincenzo the Lasombra PC is hunted down by Alphonso, Narses and a party of western Lasombra, his blood claimed by the young and promising neonate Lucia of Aragon (Lucita in the canon). Zoe barely escapes a plot that her own childe had organized to take advantage of the chaos to claim her blood... while helping Symeon, Zoe and our Malkavian Batman (his actual name 'Marko') to... take advantage of the chaos to hunt down and diablerize their targets. Marko actually claims the blood of one of the crazy 5th generation Toreador artists (which makes him 6th), and when Symeon rennounces to diablerize his own sire Gesu, it's actually Zoe the one taking his blood (which makes her 5th generation).

    It was pretty wacky for me, I even had made a list about the PC's from order of chances of survival. And Zoe was clearly in the bottom of it (her childe had a *very* good plan, but she escaped on sheer luck).

    Thanks to Symeon's connection with the invaders, the surviving players manage to escape the city, taking refuge in the city of Zara and planning their next movie...

    And there I left them. With the idea of the dead Lasombra character's player (who is making now a Tremere) to contact them and for his own porpouses advice them to travel west and stablish their own domain in the Ventrue controlled city of Geneva...

    Hope you liked the story! Right now we are retaking the Exalted campaign (finally!) but maybe this time we will be able to alternate for real between both

  • Vintz
    Awesome ride thanks

    Leave a comment:

  • CathakJordi
    Not with a bang but a whimper: the end of the War

    The entry of the Toreador court of Paris full head in expansionistic agression took all the previous participants of the War of the Princes by surprise. And it should not have been. That Alexandria, princess of Paris and self styled Primarch of the clan of the Rose was a megalomaniacal narcissistic bitch was something that was pretty well known. Her moments of vulnerability during the Toreador Civil war that marked the start of the War of the Princes (with the Transylvanian wars), were duly forgotten, and she got a sense of invencibility and self-righteousness that at first was difficult to contradict.

    The forces that had kept her contained had been defeated or weakened. Helena of Tolouse had been utterly defeated. The Lasombra in Iberia and in Italy had been spending in a terrible fraticidal war, and so had the Ventrue in the Holy Roman Empire. Hardestadt had triumphed against the other Ventrue lines in their bid for ascendancy within the clan, but the loss of so many of his line in the war had weakened his resources in a way that would take decades, maybe a century to recover from. And Alexandria would not even give him that chance.

    In a self-serving proclamation, Alexandria informed the princes of the lands that were ‘by natural right’ the dominion of Francia, by history or simple geography that they owed her allegiance. Or else. Which included all the western side of the Rhine, and the regions of the crown of Aragon in Iberia. Acceptance of the Parisian dominion would include accepting a new Toreador prince and its dominance, when not outright expulsión from their lands.

    By now the vampiric dominion of the crown of France was absolute. King Philip le Bel, the Iron Prince, was completely dominated by Alexandria, and the resources of the kingdom, the most healthy and powerful one of Western Europe were put at the disposal of the ambitious Toreador’s Methuselah’s ambition. In the case of the invasión of Aragon, the old catalan counties, it was even an outright french army invasion directed by the brother of the King. Royal demesne troups started to occupy Flanders and the northern dutch countries, and the lower course of the Rhine. The usurpation of human authority at the hands of the kindred was full. And, yes, at some rate this had happened quite a lot during the previous fights in the Empire, Italy and Iberia, but to find a precedent for vampiric interference and direction of mortal affairs, one had to go back to the raise of Rome itself.

    The ressults of the invasion were mixed. What remained of the Ventrue frontier tried to oppose conventionally and conventionally were defeated. The Lasombra, after the initial setbacks and the lose of Gerona and the siege of Barcelona son realized that the Toreador had come in power and strength, and soon adopted a much more succesful guerrilla and assasination tactics.

    And, to return to our intrepid protagonists… Geneva would be one of the cities that would receive the demand to bend the knee before Paris.

    Needless to say, the PCs were not amused. Not at all. They had managed to reach an agreement to recognize nominally that they belonged to Hardestadt’s court of the Black Eagle. They had paid blood and suffering to finally reach an agreement with the Lasombra of northern Italy and stay away from their overcomplicated internal blood feuding. And now came the bloody Toreador, who they honestly had nearly forgotten about and considered trade partners if not friends.

    If anything they had an advantage: they were the last in the Toreador hit list. The two axis of advance for Alexandria would be Iberia on one side and swiping from Flanders up the Rhine. They would only be in real danger once the mid Rhine and the Palatinate had fallen, and Hardestadt was slowly mustering what remained of his defences there.

    If anything this was the last inch of the coffin for Hardestadt’s imperial ambitions. He had to hurry to acknowledge and pact rather than defeat the remaining rebel princes, or the young or even not Ventrue princes that had raised with the chaos of the Ventrue war in the Empire.

    Oddly enough, the raising star of the Iberian Lasombra, a certain Monçada would only benefit from the toreador invasion. Sure, his lands in the crown of Aragon were invaded, but he was in the right place, right moment to head the Lasombra resistance. Many of the clan who were about to challenge him in Iberia after his previous stunning successes recognized that the damn fat bastard was the right son of a bitch to stop the Toreador. And they were right. The Toreador kept advancing, but the bloody price they would pay for each conquest was terrible. Shadowy and not shadowy assasins striking the main leaders of the Toreador advance, specially the direct childe and grindchilde of Alexandria herself, sent to stablish their domains over the cities of Barcelona, Zaragoza and Pamplona would be murdered, and when the chance was given, even horribly butchered and made an example of.

    Still, the news that arrived Geneva were still very discouraging. Alexandria was meeting opposition, but still was advancing. One after one the cities of northern of Iberia and the Western reaches of the Rhine were falling, as months and years passed. And thus more apremiating petitions for them to become vassals of Paris arrived, sometimes at the hands of their usual liason from Paris, a certain Raphael de Corazon.

    They had a limited but clear number of options. First, they could accept the dominance of Paris over them. But this was the first option discarded. Not only our princess Zoe Konmena would lose all prestige, but also her possition as ruler of the city at a more than likely toreador line. Second they could say nothing and wait, hoping to remain neutral until the situation forced their hands. After all their previous relations with the Toreador had been good and they had appeared to be possitioned on the Alexandria side in the previous Toreador war, maybe at the end, their neutrality would be respected. But this option, with the Toreador advancing relentlessly this soon stopped becoming an option.

    And finally they could invoke the fact they had accepted to be vassals (even very clearly nominal) of the court of the Black Eagle and join the Ventrue effort, facing the Toreador when they would come.

    This was the option they decided for. They declared for Hardestadt and readied their defences for a future attack. And this was the option taken because they had a *huge* ace up the sleeve. Princess Zoe was the only one of the group that still had not spent the Toreador boon.

    You probably will not remember the action of Crete centuries ago, in the 10th century. But in the relief of Crete, Michael, the then first and foremost member of the Toreador Clan had promised a boon of gratitude of the Toreador clan to those who helped save the Toreador antediluvian from the assualt of the Assamite Clan. From those of the party that took part in that action, three remained. Marko the Malkavian had immediately spent his boon to gain citizenship in Constantinople. Ariadne the Tzimisce had spent it to gain full and unrestricted access to the Toreador libraries in Paris and freedom of pass through their lands. But Zoe the Ventrue had not spent it yet.

    And thus, if they could defend the city they would not. But if the Toreador would be in the verge of victory, her boon would be to allow the neutrality of Geneva to stand. Of course, this would not be a full ‘out of jail’ card. This was a boon made in the name of the Antediluvian, and Alexandria could hardly ignore it, but still it would leave Geneva dangerously (and probably commercially) isolated. And if it came to that, it was clear the Toreador would strangle and starve the city through other ways. But it would buy them time.

    But in the verge of Toreador full victory, even with the bloody price they were paying in Iberia, an actor entered and shattered the War of the Princes, one that no one counted for.

    The news that somehow Alexandria, the great, the primarch of her clan, the victor apparent of the War of the Princes had been vanquished by unknown party, in the heart of her power in Paris reached through confused reports. And where it reached, the Toreador offensive and advance stopped. The loss of the Methuselah was unexpected and devastating for the Toreador cause. And the worst is that nobody had the faintest idea of who had been responsible.

    Nobody but the PCs. As details of the misterious murder arrived, it was not difficult for Zoe to recognize nearly the same exact circunstances and misteries that surrounded the death of her own Sire, Septimia of Constantinople. And then after some months of confusion, the misterious murders of more prominent figures all over the land started to unfold like an unseen plague.

    The most prominent of those killed in the next waven would be the powerful Lasombra princess Camilla of Rome, still locked in the war. And then Nahir of Milan. Jurgen, the childe of Hardestadt barely escaped as a group of ‘friars’ invaded his castle, and soon the news of a force of priests, many clad in the dominican and franciscan order, started to extend. But no one was sure. Humans? That surely was not possible, right? Right?

    The killings of the most prominents and high profile kindred extended through all Western Europe, and even northern African cities. Nearly the entire Parisian court, still confused and baffled, was cornered and exterminated in a single stroke, and only some ancillae stragglers managed to escape. And only the hurried warnings of a certain princess Zoe of Geneva to her closes allies in Turin and Zurich managed to save, barely in time, the princes there.

    But suddenly entire courts of kindred were exterminated during the nights and days. The war of the Princes suddenly ground to a halt, as in the first decade since the killing of Alexandria about half of the so called ‘high clan’ population was exterminated, and it was clear that, yes, humans with misterious abilities to negate completely the kindred’s power had managed to locate and were hunting them like beasts. A new era had arrived. And only hiding and running would help.

    With the advantage of their foreknowledge, my players managed to cut most of their ties with the mortal players of their city just in time. And the safehouses that the malkavian player had stablished to harbour privately his anarch friends were going to prove invaluable for their survival.

    But this looked like the ends of time. Slowly their informants and contacts stopped to report, and soon they felt isolated, having to even hide in their own city as reports of groups of friars arrived to Geneva…


    And so the second phase of my campaign ends, again with my characters basically on the run. The first being 'Constantinople by Night', this second being 'The War of the Princes'. The third one, of course, is 'Inquisition'.
    Last edited by CathakJordi; 11-03-2016, 08:49 AM.

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  • CathakJordi
    What I am pretty sure that will happen is that the Tzimisce involvement in the anarch revolt will change a lot, and the Tzimisce clan will be one of the founding clans of the Camarilla. I am really tempted to put the bulk of the Malkavian or the Gangrel in the Sabbat, in their place. But we will see. Still more than a century to get to that.

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  • Meldok
    Originally posted by CathakJordi View Post
    That would be waaaay too much

    Any character trying to avoid the plan against Constantinople would be probably assassinated. Too many powerful individuals behind that, and a character with enough power to avoid that is just way too powerful to work in a campaign.

    And there's no way they could have avoided Manzikert or the like. The thing with planning a campaign to go to modern nights, is that... I kind of need to have history unfolding moderately normally up to now. It's just too good to have history books to illustrate periods, and a radical change in that goes in detriment of my efforts there.

    Anyway, they are entering now the inquisition era, and there they will have a pretty good reason to not interfere with mortal affairs at high scale. I must say in any case the PCs are still pretty low profile for that sort of thing on their own free will.
    Well in this case it's pretty good for them because that will increase the chances making it out of the inquisition alive.
    And I would also not alter to many things in history. Maybe something in line with the city, that the characters control, is a little more important than it was in reality or the kill of a later important npc like in your chronicle. But nothing to major like inventing technology 200 years ahead or winning Manzikert.

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  • CathakJordi
    That would be waaaay too much

    Any character trying to avoid the plan against Constantinople would be probably assassinated. Too many powerful individuals behind that, and a character with enough power to avoid that is just way too powerful to work in a campaign.

    And there's no way they could have avoided Manzikert or the like. The thing with planning a campaign to go to modern nights, is that... I kind of need to have history unfolding moderately normally up to now. It's just too good to have history books to illustrate periods, and a radical change in that goes in detriment of my efforts there.

    Anyway, they are entering now the inquisition era, and there they will have a pretty good reason to not interfere with mortal affairs at high scale. I must say in any case the PCs are still pretty low profile for that sort of thing on their own free will.

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  • Alucard
    I think I'd want to play a Salubri and cure Michael's derangement. Totally blow up canon.

    Oh, and win at Manzikert, goes without saying.

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


    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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  • CathakJordi

    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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  • CathakJordi
    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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  • CathakJordi

    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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  • CathakJordi

    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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