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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

  • #2
    Love it but short on time right now. I shall,, hopefully, return with a longer reply.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Gurkhal View Post
      Love it but short on time right now. I shall,, hopefully, return with a longer reply.
      Thanks for the kind words. English is not my first language (we are a group of Spanish gamers) and sometimes I am worried things might sound a bit odd.

      Probably we will not play again in one month or two, but I have already outlined the future in the following steps for their next century, that I have called the part of the 'War of the Princes' and should go from 1205 to 1307:

      1. The taking of Geneve (1205-1208): in which the players should arrive and take for their own the domain of the city of Geneve and start dealing with all their dangerous neighbours (which would be the Toreador queens in the west, the Lasombra in the South and the Ventrue in the East). Their real hope of survival is to convince them that Geneve would be better as a 'buffer' state, and better in their hands than in the others'. Of course, given that a Hardedstadt descendant had the city before they arrived probably he is the one that will complain more... but he has a big war to fight in the east against the Tzimisce and things can be worked out. We will see, I am kind of worried that my PC ventrue is not the best diplomat...

      2. The Toreador War (1208-1214): the unavoidable clash between Tolouse and Paris, with the victory of the later, but that will no doubt try to influence Geneva into helping each side. And the winning side of Paris will no doubt try to at the very least side force concesions from Geneva. That if they did not make the mistake to side with Helene of Aquitaine, queen of Tolouse (yes, that would be our beloved canon 4th generation diablerist... in a very non canon situation, but this is the conflict that will put her into hiding and rush to escape to the Americas centuries later).

      3. Iberian Echoes (1214-1240): More of an interlude, as this conflict will not hit them directly. This is the moment where the Christian Lasombra decide to end for all their muslim brothers, and enforce a progrom all down the iberian peninsula. A succesful one, and one that will mark the apex of the Lasombra power in the Kindred world. I have been making clear that with the decline of Constantinoples power, it's clear the Lasombra have been moving the pieces, basically taking over all the mediterranean (with the exception of Egypt and the Outremer domains in my campaign all other main ports of the mediterranean are in Lasombra hands, specially now that they have taken Constantinople in 1204). At this point it will look as if no one can escape the Lasombra schemes and their courts of Shadows. The rest of the high clans are starting to take notice and worry to this... In any case for the characters it will be the time to consolidate their domain.

      4. The German War (1241-1298): This will be the main conflict of the century. Hardedstadt will be finally victorious against the Tzimisce, and carve huge new domains, but his arbitrary and tyrannical ways will make his rule die of success. His most succesful sons will rebel, and soon a full escale war between the german princes will erupt, the kindred fighting against each other, showing in the night and directing petty armies city against city to shamelessly destroy their rivals. The unashamed breaking of the sixth tradition will propagate in different ways to the north of Italy, where the princes of Milan and Rome will try to destory the upstart Narses in Venice, and vie against each other (albeit more subtly), and in Paris, where the Queen of Paris, the so called Toreador's first daughter (now that Michael is off the picture) will indulge into orgies and abuses that would have put to shame Septimia Severa in Constantinople.

      The next part after this would be 'Inquisition' and it should last from 1308 to 1395, starting with the fall at the hands of the new hunters of one of the most unseemingly targets: Queen Alexandria of Paris. The Inquisition will then spread like a plague, and I will shameless plan to put the characters in mortal fear of them (they had a taste of that when they investigated the murder of Septimia and made them clear how the vampire powers were clearly useless before these 'mortals').

      And then, when the ashes of the inquisition start ot settle, and most of the surviving princes have done so hiding and sacrificing half of their progeny to the inquisitors, the anarch revolt will start with all its fure, with a new killing that will again shatter the kindred: Hardedstadt will die at the hands of one of the cabals stablished around by Lugoj and his new blood breaking ritual (remember them from the very first adventure? I hope the players will ).

      ​It's curious that of my five players, I have killed all the male ones once... and the two ladies (which are the two female players too) have not. But I swear it's just coincidence I honestly thought I was going to kill off the Ventrue when I started the Fourth Crusade sessions.

      Oh, and of course, the reason behind many of their acts is the Dracon, half what happens is his attempt to destroy his sire the Tzimisce Antediluvian... creating and fostering subtly the anarch revolt during the centuries to give him a good shot at it.
      Last edited by CathakJordi; 06-19-2014, 04:18 AM.


      • #4
        This all sounds absolutely fantastic, it seems that you all had good fun. I love your various additions and changes to the plot, it certainly makes for an interesting tale forming within the history of the game. I look forward to reading more in the future
        I do love Dark Ages vampire, it's a shame our current game which has gone from 1180-1440 (so far) has been on hiatus since march, I'm getting some serious cravings for DA after reading this.


        • #5

          And so, it has been nearly a year since we paused this campaign, the first big act finished, and we went to Exalted lands. But this next act of Exalted has already finished and thus we come back to the Dark Ages, where we left our Constantinople elders scrambling to flee the sacked city in the worst day of the 4th Crusade.


          A big difference since the end of Act I: the brujah player can't make it any more to our sessions, so his character has left the stage. Since actually his character was the only one getting out of the city through a different place and route (he was with Belisarius during the final attack) they other characters just don't know his fate. While they had made a pact with Symeon (who had made his own pact to eliminate Gesu in exchange from free pass away from the city), the Brujah character Rolfus of Asturias also had a confrontation with Belisarius, who had grown up as friends for the last century. The three traitors of Constantinople were one for each main family in my story (Symeon for the Tzimisce, Belisarius for the Ventrue and Gregorius the malkavian for the Toreador), and when we played it Rolfus agreed with Belisarius that the city was lost and his offer to not fight and just leave the city in peace. Wether Rolfus, now an NPC, agreed to this really and left to unknown routes (probably back to Iberia for another war...), or just fought (and died) in the desperate last moments of the city is something I have not really decided yet, and the characters know no one that can tell them (since Belisarius also left to lands unknown with his Assamite lover).

          In the previous day the malkavian character Marko had diablerized one of Michael's sons, the esculptor, taking advantage of the confusion (and masquerading his attack as an attack of some invaders, in the confusion and the madness, and the fact Petronius and the rest had just no time to properly investigate, they could not guess the real killer). When Symeon and the party defeated Gesu, Symeon declined to take advantage of the situation (because he thought that somehow his old lover was inside there and he wanted nothing to do with it...), and Zoe the Ventrue took the chance to diablerize Gesu. Something that took me quite by surprise (I thought Marko was going to be the one doing this instead of risking his neck for the Toreador attack the previous day). Which means I suddenly had a 5th generation ventrue in my hands. Oh well. Such is life. From the character I most expected to die in the siege to this.

          Well, all in all they escaped the siege lines with Symeon and they were allowed to go with him to take a one year refuge to the city of Zara. Symeon offered Ariadne (her sister in blood), to come with him to carve a new domain in the Transylvanian area now that the northern Tzimisce were quite weakened with their war with the Tremere and the Ventrue, but she declined, valuing more her relationship with Zoe and Marko.

          It is here where the Tremere enter. They had collaborated with the Lasombra in their taking of the city, and in fact, prince Antonio had very ostensibly a Tremere bodyguard that actually saved his life during the Latin Quarter riots. Still, the Tremere found themselves, now that the Lasombra had won the city that they were no longer wanted, and felt they were playing a game they no fully understood. The Order of Hermes had finally discovered the full vampiric corruption of clan Tremere and they suddenly the clan Tremere was fighting a nearly desperate three sided war against the Orderrof Hermes and the Tzimisce clan.

          Fortunately for them, so were their enemies. The Order of Hermes had started a war with the new and budding Order of Reason, and soon they were faced with the destruction of Mistridge in the Pyrinees. And the Tzimisce were fighting a losing war with the Hungarian and German Ventrue. Still, the clan had an important decision to make, were they vampires that had managed to preserve some of the art with their experiments, or mages that had lessened themselves with vampiric abilities for immortality. The former was chosen, and the council of the Order decided it was time to build bridges with the vampiric communities. The unsteady Alliance with the Lasombra had been a first step, but the Lasombra had taken full advantage of it without giving anything in return but scorn and laughter at the naivete of the newcomers. The Ventrue seemed more approachable, but the Hungarian and German Ventrue had just heard rumours and second hand news of the monstruous experiments the Tremere had performed on the Tzimisce, Gangrel and Nosferatu and thus were very wary of making any alliance with such abnormalities.

          Take in mind, I play setting very differently from the normal stuff. First of all, so you get an idea, the light of the sun does *not* burn vampires, just nullify the effect of any of their disciplines save fortitude (and it provokes somnolence too). There is NO thaumaturgy of any sort for any clan, what the Tremere has brought to the table is genuinely new to the vampiric field. Which has quite a specific reason in my ambience, but goes into Mage theory and the base of my... cosmology and it's not a good place here to discuss. Just let's say that in less than a century the sun will suddenly start to burn vampires... and it will be as if it *always* had been that way.

          Anyway... at least their involvement with the Lasombra in the build up to take Constantinople had given them intelligence on the kindred and clans involved, and the powerful elders awaiting in Zara gave them an idea. A Tremere initiate (the player whose Lasombra died in the fall of Constantinople) was sent with a proposal. Intelligence on the town of Geneva, in Western Europe. A town that after years of thought was considered 'possible' by the Tremere strategists. If the Greek elders would accept their proposal and help, the Clan Tremere just would ask in exchange recognition and domain under the new princess authority. And privately the rights for the magical node that lied in the core of the city, under the new Cathedral, but of course that was something they were not going to share with their new friends.

          The new character, a Tremere ancilla origined from Viena itself (which is not yet under Tremere hands, the Tremere is just based so far in Ceoris, they will acquire Vienna during the Anarch Revolt), was sent with intelligence about the city and the Ventrue prince that governed it, and also why it was possible to take it. He was not particularly liked by the German Ventrue, and the city itself lied in a crossroads between three powers: the Frank and Occitan Toreador, the German Ventrue and the Italian Lasombra. The Lasombra had tried to besiege and take the city 80 years ago, and they had come quite close to take it, leaving the Ventrue prince (Count Gerin du Chartres) power structure quite weakened. Still, an open Lasombra (or the least likely Toreador) takeover would mean an unavoidable Ventrue reprisal. If the characters, very visibly with a Ventrue leader, would just... replace the current government and played their cards right, the German Ventrue would just consider it in public as 'an internal clan ventrue affair'. The Toreador and the Lasombra would just be glad that an inssuferable neighbour was removed.

          After some negotiations, quite satisfying to both sides, the players agreed, and planned the taking of the city.


          I had planned for many ways of taking the city, and the consequences to each possible way I could foresee. And to my utter surprise, the players took what I had thought the most efficent way: the surprise, surgical strike. In a way it was unavoidable... with the loss of the combat powerhouse that was the Brujah, they could just not make an open invasion. And our Malkavia is quite... the... 'city Gangrel' Malkavian (his main discipline is obfuscation, and has developed protean to 2, and all three physical disciplines more than Auspex or Domination).

          Under the obfuscation of the Malkavian, the Tzimisce (who is an Auspex specialist) Ariadne and him just travelled a month before, and started to scout the town for refuges, sanctuaries and moving patterns of the Count Gerin and his retinue (his lover Celsa of Padania, a Ventrue refugee from the full Lasombra takeover of northern Italy a century ago) and his childe and seneschal. What they found was that Geneva was very very sorely unprepared for the sort of attack they planned. Gerin was quite the physical badass, and he counted that any surprise attack he could fend off personally before using his Majesty and his army of ghouls. He was mainly prepared for a long mortal powerbased siege, as the one he had endured against the Lasombra, and he disregarded the sort of attack a Nosferatu or a Malkavian (or god forbids an Assamite) would pull, and if anything was just prepared to detect low level scouts.

          Certainly a Malkavian with Obfuscate at level 6, and a Tzimisce with Auspex at level 6, scouting his domain, finding the places his slept and the forces he had did not enter his mind. He of course knew that such things were possible, but he did not consider kindred with those capabilities interested in a small town like Geneva.

          When the other two characters arrived, all was in place. Gerin did not actually sleep within Geneva, but in the count's castle in Annecy, feeling safe behind an army of dominated or outrought ghouled mortals. With astral form, the Tzimisce girl could scout... wherever she wanted, with no possible chance of detection, and had found the easiest route to Gerin's quarters. With the high obfuscation of the Malkavian the group could go undetected (and anyway nobody in the city had Auspex had enough), and with the high telekinesis path level of the Tremere they could even fly themselves to the right spot in such a way, neutralizing or avoiding altoguether the few mortal guards they found on the way.

          They managed to neutralize the two personal ghoul guards of the Prince... but not as flawlessly, making some noise, but still had time to catch poor Gerin unaware and overpower him within two rounds, giving him the final death.

          With proof of the death of Gerin, they went back the following night to Geneva (the locals had realized the death at the removal of their blood bond) and confronted them simply. The childe of Gerin nearly shat on his pants (I made rolls of the reactiosn, and he fumbled very badly), but the lover (Well, ex-lover) just cooly confronted the newcomers... and offered her help in the case they were not allies of the Lasombra (which they were not). The new Princess of Geneva, Zoe Konmena, accepted Celsa's offer and allowed her to stay as her new seneschal (from Celsa's point of view, it was a good move... all that mattered to her was revenge on the Lasombra, and someone that could take out Gerin so easily and swiftly was going to be a better help for her to get such revenge... and this was a Ventrue after all). I rolled for... ahem... sexuality and Celsa was *very* ok with Zoe's advances (as a childe of Septimia from Constantinopla... well, Zoe leans that way, and in fact her Ventrue weakness feeding habit is actually ladies of elevated birth). Which was perfect for all involved.

          It could barely have gone better. With Celsa staying in place, they have an invaluable guide and stablished contact to the local costums and authorities, and when Hardedstadt receives the news, he will be a bit upset but a bit relieved to know she is there, knowing she would not be collaborating with enemies of the clan. Of course, that means for the neighbours that it will be basically business as usual, and that the previous Alliances of Geneva will be kept... which makes the Lasombra still hate them.

          And here we are... the next sessions will deal with the new diplomacy. The Lasombra and Ventrue will feel out (and spy) for the new princess and the Toreador courts will scramble... as their civil war is in the verge of exploding. The choices and relations they make will stablish their chances on this time of the War of the Princes that is coming upon them. And ultimately, on the inquisition attacks next century.


          • #6
            This is excellent, and the way you're able to describe it all is very nice.


            • #7
              Thanks the problem is that we can barely scratch a long day of gaming every month... so it goes a bit slower than I would like. But hey, if you like it I will keep you updated


              • #8
                I look forward to reading, not sure how I missed this before.


                • #9
                  Good Chronicle. I played in Constantinople and Transylvania time ago and I keep good regards about. I wrote a Chronicle "Los hijos del pecado" (Childrens of Sin) in the aftermath of the Bitter Crusade in Constantinople.


                  • #10

                    And with Geneva conquered, the transition eased by the Ventrue turncoat Celsa, things started to progress again.

                    Oddly enough (I know my players), the three Eastern Roman elders managed to distribute quite smoothly the areas of power in the city, without any heated discussion.

                    While the newly anointed Princess Zoe started to keep a tight hold on the city itself and it's main figures (by dominating the main guild leaders and key characters of the city guard), the task of controlling the count of Geneva himself was delegated in Celsa of Padania, as Zoe decided to govern rather from the city itself and not detached in the countryside as the previous ruler did. Still, and unlike Gerin's approach for a full puppet count, Zoe decided that a more competent mortal ruler was preferred and thus the much more intelligent younger brother of the current Count would be encouraged to take the county by killing his older brother and his sons, and then privately blood bonded to Celsa.

                    The actual direct ruler of the town (rather than the county around it) bishop Robert von Zahringën would be controlled via blood bondage by the Tzimisce Ariadne, with the specific task of building a new monastery outside the city where she would make her haven. Marko the Malkavian would keep his haven and his personal guard on the merchant and workers quarters at the north of the city, and started up his 'cleanup' of the district. The head of the guild of distillers was found out crucified with his severed penis hanging from his own mouth and a biblical quote hanging from his neck, after our good old Marko had discovered he had a taste for abusing little servant girls. Zoe admonished him, but understood his 'special needs' and just asked him to be 'more discrete in the future not to further disrupt trade'.

                    They had a healthy dose of paranoia, and measures to avoid the very fate that they had imposed in the previous ruler were taken. Marko periodically patrolled and checked obfuscated and checking auras the main routes of the city, and kept an ear for rumours of people being exsanguinated or any possible signals pointing to that. Ariadne also astral travelled throughout the city to check in key points undisturbed. And finally the two Ventrue lady lovers made sure to condition and dominate key figures in the country side to send pre arranged signals and messages in case a quite wide number of 'alarm' points were met, to be warned of any try of external supernatural influence towards the city. Marko also roamed the neighbouring cities and found his mix of (very high) obfuscation, (high) auspex and (moderate) dominate the perfect mix for infiltration, leaving little conditionings and locating 'safe places' to warn of any possible Lasombra advances from the south. He was caught when trying to do the same in the West, as a Toreador elder did locate him, but he could weasel his way out of the situation posing as just a wandering Malkavian (and thus low clannish) promising to just bugger off swirftly (which he did).

                    The Tremere just dug out himself to stablish a first Chantry under the nearly finished Cathedral, and was congratulated by Ceoris on stablishing so successfully the first Tremere permanent presence in Western Europe. But knowing that he had basically betrayed his elders by performing the proto-vaulderie with the other player characters, and not wanting to tempt fate, he just decided to keep a low profile and carry out his own personal private research on developing Thaumaturgy.

                    Since everybody agreed that Geneva was still a bit too small, there was no pressure for embracing any new childe, so no conflict about embracing rights ensued. Also Zoe admitted that Marko proto-anarch connections could use safe houses in the city if they would not call any attention to themselves and would not stay for long.

                    All in all, I was quite surprised to see all four of my current players working in agreement as they had bever done in 400 years in Constantinople (Marko the Malkavian and Vincenzo the Lasombra were always... big centers of discontent...).

                    THE WAR OF THE (COURTS OF THE) ROSES

                    Anyway the Toreador clan had its hand full in the most bitter inner conflict. After the death of Michael in the East a few years ago, the clan of the rose had been divided in France in two big fronts: at one side Alexandria of Paris and Helena of Tolouse, both similarly aged ancient 4th generation methuselahs that claimed sole primacy in the matters of the main stronghold of the clan in France.

                    The balance had already been very difficult in the last century, and little conflicts had drove each bloodlines into each time more and more bitter hatred. The northwestern iberian Lasombra had an informal alliance with Helena, while Alexandria mainly traded and exchanged protection treaties with the Rhine Ventrue cities, and lately with the rising star of Mithras in England, that was mercilessly taking over all the isles, city by city.

                    And then, Helena basically screwed it. Starting to manipulate the christian dogma for her own porpouses was something that had been tried a pair of times, with mixed success, the most prominent and recent examples being the Obertus Tzimisce in the east, and the Cainite Heresy that seemed to start getting some success from Narses in Venice. And thus, Helena and some of her children decided their own take to more fully control the herd and push their own ideological agenda, by pushing forward the ideology that would be later called Catharism. Thinking that her Lasombra allies would not mind that much (specially as it was clear they were doing some of that, read Narses) and did not expect the reactions.

                    Obviously Princess Alexandria of Paris, when noticing the chance, started to dennounce the whole thing. And she found not only sympathetic ears in her own allies... but princess Camilla of Rome and the Castillian Lasombra rulers of Iberia, pushed by the internal Lasombra new policy of pushing for extreme Catholic orthodoxy, grew angry with such heresies (and there is a certain someone named Ambrosio Luis of Monçada as one of the main dennouncers of the Catharism heresy). Emboldened by the support by the Lasombra, that had been neutral or hostile to her up to this point, she pressured until a Crusade was declared to invade the Occitan southern lands.

                    Helena took some time but realized the possition she had dug herself into. She tried to react, but not only it was a bit too late to stop the inertia that had been directed towards her (and admittedly, she had a well desserved reputation as a Grade-A bitch in the last centuries), but her own Lasombra allies were a bit reluctant to move against their own clan. Desperate attempt to negotiations were started, but Alexandria would have none of those. The taking and massacre of cities such as Nimes, made Helena realize she had to fight to simply survive.

                    And what a bitter war it would turn. Once the southern Toreador realized the trouble they were in they fought desperately, and some of the new tactics that had been just carefully approached in the huge taking of Constantinople some years before were exploited to the top in fights that were quite lesser in escale to the fourth crusade, but much drawn out as the fight carried on for four full years, bitter siege after bitter siege. The first mass embraces for combat uses, defying and ignoring the acknowledged laws of Cain up to that point, were first practiced by the southern forces, but quickly the norther Toreador took note (and their Lasombra allies took also a *very* good note of those). Kindred publically using their disciplines, getting in frenzies and feeding during the night battles were clearly seen and only barely covered up, in a trend that would mark the conflicts of the next century.

                    And Geneva laid in one of the main routes towards the East from the conflict. Both sides would send their own diplomats to Geneva to ensure the city would not help the other (namely Paris would send a certain Rafael de Corazon, and Tolouse would send a certain Melinda du Galbair... that would turn to Galbraith in the future). As a result, smuggling and contraband of people and goods by the besieged Helena's forces was agreed with princess Zoe, while keeping a facade of formal alignment with Paris. As the beautiful little snakes my little Ventrue is she carefully played both sides against the middle to get maximum benefit from both. And thanks to *flawless* roles, both sides were honestly convinced the Ventrue lady was aligned with them. The new monastery would be financed in a big share thanks to Toreador bribery and goods.

                    At the end all the south of France laid in ruins, even when Helena's allies from Barcelona tried to help at the end, they suffered a huge final defeat at the battle of Muret. Helena and a pair of his children would be the only survivors of the debacle, and that just by running *really* fast (Helena and Melinda du Galbair taking refuge in the Lasombra courts of the south, and Eletria would actually flee east through Geneva itself).

                    EXTENDING THE CONFLICT

                    The inmediate consequences, apart from the fact that Alexandria of Paris was now the indisputed ruler of France and the Toreador, of such a merciless war and the success of the open and ruthless tactics used would enter fully the next big conflict. Orders came from Sicily that such a thing as a 'Muslim Lasombra' would no longer be recognized by the antediluvian. And with the same tactics learned in this Albigesian Crusade against the Cathars, the Spanish Christian Lasombra fell like wolves against his own southern brethren. Each time the law of the Silence was more open disregarded or outright held in contempt during the cainite conflicts. And again the internal cleansing of the clan Lasombra made just the other clans fell even more allarm about the fact that the Clan Lasombra was now more than ever the undisputed most powerful clan, only a handful ports in the Mediterranean, and at that only in the southeast not in their hands.

                    And what about the Ventrue? Certainly Hardedstadt was not pleased at all when he learned that his own 'grand-child' Gerin had been murdered in Geneva and would have liked to take reprisals against the attackers. But the fact that the new princess was a Ventrue (even from nearly as hated Antonian bloodline), that the coup had been relatively bloodless and the rest of the Ventrue in the city had been allowed to serve under the new ruler or allowed to exile peacefully, and that any weakness could be exploited by the southern Lasombra to take Geneva and gain the valuable trade nexus on the lake and into the German and Paris trade routes held his hadn. Also, from a more external point of view the fact his hands were filled with his eastern war to carve out domains for his very abundant line into Tzimisce territories, and when Geneva had (publically) supported and earn the gratitude of Paris, he realized it would be foolish to try an outright attack.

                    He did maneauver to send a diplomat with two specific 'demands': that the new princess should pay public (but privately being told that it would be just nominal) homage to Hardestadt and that the Tremere 'diabolist' should be expelled from the city by any means.

                    The players did not cave in. They admitted that they would not break any trade flow with the Black Eagle's domains, and accept all the previous arrangements... but homage was completely out of the question: Zoe belonged to a different bloodline, after all, and it would be a humiliation for her, and the Tremere would stay in place. Gifts were sent anyhow to Hardestadt, and a petition of mediation was sent to Alexandria of Paris (guessing correctly it would please her greatly to be put in such a possition of influence). At the very end, Hardedstadt knew well that 'better another Ventrue than a Lasombra', and thus just counteroffered privately with a very special offer: he would pardon the murder of one of his line... if they would collaborate in the taking of the very Lasombra city of Turin and the securing of the south side of the Geneva lake and the county of Savoy. Offering as an argument that it was also in the interest of Geneva to push the frontier furhter back south of any possible attack.

                    And after much hesitations, the players agreed, not realizing (or maybe half realizing) that they were starting to become more and more involved in the deadly and grand mess that would be what later would get known as the War of the Princes.


                    • #11
                      Since it will be some time (a pair of players are high school teachers and they are in exam time these next weeks) until we can play the next session (which will be the whole mess with Torino, Lasombra reprisals and then the start of civil war in Hardedstadt domains and bloodline), I will give you a bit about the way I 'quickbuild' elder characters and that I work with experience in such a long winded campaign, time wise.

                      The way I deal with experience is basically... I don't deal with it. I don't award experience after sessions. The whole management of the character sheet goes just through the passage of time and is adjusted by generation.

                      For character creation:

                      - Initial attributes go by the usual rules: Primary (7), Secondary (5), Tertiary (3), and you can't go to 5 points in one.

                      - Skills are completely agreed given character background with me with each player. This will follow through the game. If in game the character learns a language, they gain a dot in linguistics. As time passes if I feel some skills are getting obsolete (specially knowledges) or unpracticed (specially skills and talents), I revise the sheets and reduce them. Same goes with 'personality' treats, such as Willpower, Virtues, etc. My players know I am merciless, so they know better than arguing . Also Skills can't ever go over 5 in my rules, no matter the generation.

                      - Disciplines start at 0, by I give a new concept called 'power points'.

                      - Initial characters get 8 power points. These points can be distributed as follows:

                      * Disciplines up to 4 cost 1 point
                      * The 5th dot in a discipline costs 2 points , the 6th 3 points, the 7th 4 points, etc...
                      * Attributes up to 4 costs 1/2 (half) point. This means that with 1 point you can up two attribute points, if the attribute does not go over 4.
                      * Attributes 5 or more cost 1 point

                      Initial characters can only spend power points in their clan starting disciplines.

                      After this point, things go by time and generation, following this table:

                      GEN 0 to 200 200 to 1000 1000 +
                      1 5 15 40
                      2 7 20 45
                      3 8 22 50
                      4 10 25 60
                      5 12 30 70
                      6 13 33 80
                      7 14 35 90
                      8 15 40 100
                      9 18 48 115
                      10 20 60 130
                      11 22 75 150
                      12 25 90 175
                      13 30 110 200
                      The numbers in the cells are the years that must pass before the players receive a new point. For instance, a player of the 7th generation and 100 years of age after the embrace gets 100/13 points: 7 additional power points to spend. I round up in the 'change' areas (200 and 1000). These would be the points that characters would get (apart from the initial 8) at certain times, so you can see the progression:
                      GEN T200 T1000 T2000 T3000 T4000 T5000
                      1 45 99 124 149 174 199
                      2 34 74 96 118 224 162
                      3 30 67 87 107 203 147
                      4 20 52 68 85 172 118
                      5 17 43 57 71 143 100
                      6 16 41 53 66 131 91
                      7 15 38 49 60 123 82
                      8 14 35 45 55 110 75
                      9 12 29 37 46 91 63
                      10 10 24 31 39 74 54
                      11 10 21 27 34 61 47
                      12 9 18 23 29 51 40
                      13 9 17 22 27 44 37

                      Yes, that means later generations are fucked. World is unfair. Oh, and Torpor Time does not count for age.

                      Basically, to reach these numbers, I first got my hands on all the elder characters I could grab from all the books I could get and start working means and statistical analysis on the 'power point' by 'age from embrace'. That made for instance aberrations such as Gesu (who is 5th generation but is really overpowered for his age) or Magnus (who is 7th but has *ridiculously low* stats for a guy his age and possition) disappear.

                      And yes, I did all this work just because I was sick about players arguing about experience points (and because I find the system is inherently unfair in principle, and inadequate for a campaing I am planning to get from 796 to 2015).


                      • #12

                        Thank you CathakJordi! It's the shit!

                        I am planning to shift chronicle and yours would be perfect for me - well, I am thinking about some British Isles chronicle, too - if you could share your stuffs with me. I mean NPCs, stories....

                        My team is about 3 crusaders atm (Brujah, Nosferatu, Ventrue) who are struggling in Jerusalem (1197). Using the Jerusalem by Night book for NPCs and ideas, but making stories by myself.

                        They said they would be willing to go into a new chronicle/campaign. Nosferatu and Ventrue is 100% (they will keep their clans, but make a new character), but the Brujah player wants to shift to another clan, to which he has not figured it out yet.

                        So I want you, of course if it is not a big problem for you, to share with me your chronicle more deeply


                        Have a nice day,



                        • #13
                          Sorry, I have not checked the forum in forever, as during summer we only have had a game (the adventure in Turin to take it from the Lasombra and for Hardedstadt). I will try to post about it once I fully come back from holidays


                          • #14
                            Love the story so far!!!


                            • #15
                              Thanks for the comments

                              Before I focus enough to write about the strike in Turin, since a few people have asked about the background I have designed, here it is the link to my drive document.


                              Be warned that:

                              - This is very close to batshit fanwank. A lot of stuff I made up and has no relation and actually contradicts a lot of stuff, and even mechanics.
                              - I know many will find this silly or even blasphemous. Really, this was just for private use, and a lot of stuff will probably just make sense in my head
                              - The aim of this was to clarify my ideas about historic background, and provide a much clearer set of bloodlines in each clan, so when the characters would meet someone new, or travel to some place I could easily make up characters with the right connections to the world they would know already
                              - Again, this was for private consumption only. I even expect that there will be some inner inconsistencies that I really will not care about. At the very least, there are some minor details I have even changed from this material, once I have put myself hands on the actual gaming sessions.