Mortal Stakes | Vampire: The Masquerade – L.A. By Night | Chapter 1

Mortal Stakes | Vampire: The Masquerade – L.A. By Night | Chapter 1

Good evening, I’m Jason Carl from WhiteWolf and welcome to Vampire the Masquerade fifth edition chronicle, Los Angeles by Night. Chapter one, Mortal stakes. Let’s meet our vampires. Hey, my name is Alexander Ward, and I’m playing Jasper. Hi, my name is Cynthia Marie and I am playing Nelli G. B. Dave Walters playing Victor Timple. Erica Ishii, she will join us at a dramatically appropriate moment in just a little while. So. Special thanks and shoutouts. I’d like to thank DogMight for this beautiful storyteller’s screen, which has the Los Angeles skyline on it, very appropriately. And also for beautiful dice boxes, which reveal the clans of our vampires, for those of you who are playing in the poll. We’d also like to thank Elderwood Academy for this fantastic vampire tome dicebox. That holds your blood dice, your vampire dice, and your hunger dice very safely. Let’s tell a story about vampires. Alright, minute 15. (downtempo music) LA By Night is a city in turmoil. In the 1940s, young vampires rebelled and the streets ran red with elder blood. And the Anarch free states were born under the leadership of the legendary Jeremy McNeil. The Anarchs carved the city up into neighborhood Baronies and they claimed that this was a city of new promise for all vampires. A city of equality and justice among the undead. But as with all kinds of justice, your mileage may vary. And that’s doubly true when you’re a vampire. (laughing) So tonight, the Camarilla has abandoned the city of San Francisco and Prince Vannevar Thomas has claimed a praxis over Los Angeles. The Anarchs, not having any of this. But they must respond, quickly before the Camarilla takes over the city that they call theirs. So that’s the situation. And now, I’m gonna start our story. This morning, when the sun rose over Los Angeles, people of the city, the mortals, woke up and they went to work. They took care of their children, they went to school, they did their shopping, they drove places, they met for lunch, they had dinner. But our vampires didn’t do any of these things. While the sun was in the sky, they were comatose. Their lungs didn’t breathe, their eyes didn’t blink, and their hearts didn’t beat because they’re dead. But when the sun sinks below the horizon, their eyelids flutter open, they awaken into the night. We’re gonna start our scene in Griffith College, a location common and important to these particular vampires, where they have discovered something upsetting, a poacher. (sighs) So what do we do? Well, Jasper darling, it’s not you is it? I don’t think it qualifies as poaching if I’m the one doing it. And I think we know that he would cover his tracks much better than this. There’s missing blood, there’s what six students? Like what do we even know so far? I mean, we know that there’s a rash of anemic students, flulike symptoms, people missing. That explains a couple of my fashion students missing classes, hm. Have you heard anything, anyone on your blog or whatever? What is it that you?
Oh don’t worry about it, it have a ton of things that I do, but right now we need to focus on how many students are missing, there are six of them. Six.
Focus. Has anyone seen anything? Well according to your contacts on campus at the infirmary, there are a number of blood plasma bags missing, maybe as many as seven or eight and six or seven students who are all reporting the same unusual flulike symptoms accompanied by unusual anemia. Over roughly what period time is this taking place? Barely a week.
Whoo. So either someone is very hungry, or you have multiple poachers. Ah, that sounds good. (laughs) Well, I guess that’s why we’re here, to go take a look. Yes well where do we start? Well I’m not going to be the one going onto campus, now am I? I’ll go, I mean I always like to spend some time with the people, find out what’s going on make sure that, you know, record sales are up. Would you like to accompany me, my darling? Oh I suppose, if I have to. And I’ll keep an eye on you from elsewhere. As you normally do.
Always do. So Victor and Nelli, you’re going to leave the sanctum and head out onto campus to make some personal inquiries? Yes.
Yes. Jasper, how do you intend to handle this, it’s difficult for you to go out among the mortal populous, without a little preparation. Without a little preparation. Looking as you do.
You’re beautiful, darling. Well seeing as I have no hair and am very corpseish and veiny and gross, I think I’m gonna try and follow along the roof of buildings and to be, myself, unseen. So you want to traverse the rooftops of the college, do you wanna try to keep them in sight? Keep them in sight, but also maybe a little bit ahead, see if I can spot anything out. Hmm, sounds like unseen presence to me. It’s gonna need a rouse check.
Alright. Okay, so you’re going to call upon the unnatural power of your blood to conceal yourself. That’s just one, correct?
One die. Alright.
Check. That is a failure. Your hunger increases by one, you started at one, and so already, not even an hour into the evening, the best in your gut begins to stir and gnaw and rattle at its cage, hungry. It wants a snack. This is going well. What could possibly go wrong? So you’re gonna go from one hunger to two hunger. Okay, but, go ahead and make the unseen presence check. Alright, and that is going to be a (tsking). So we’re not so old, we also have access to these newfangled tools like cell phones to text and call each other as well, correct? Unlike the Camarilla, which has begun to reject technology as a significant threat to the Masquerade, the first edition that demands that all vampires disguise themselves from mortals, lest they risk the wrath of retribution from the human populous, Anarchs have no such qualms. So yeah, you’ve got smartphones. You can even have an Instagram account if you want to. Technology worked out very well for us. But of course. Alright, so wits plus my obfuscation score, here we go. We’ve got three successes. Okay, when you look for him, unless you’re using a special power, you don’t see him. He’s out there somewhere, in the shadows. At least you hope he is. Okay, when you emerge onto campus, it’s a familiar sight for you. Griffith college takes up several city blocks of East Hollywood, it’s a small private university, crowded with a diversity of young people even at night. Students going from dorms to the student union building to the cafe, to the pub, to the library. Or just walking around the quad. The architectural style is unusual, a cacophony of old and new buildings. It used to be a movie studio, built in the 1930s during the silent film era and then converted in the 40s when the talkies came along. But it fell into disrepair and now it’s being slowly renovated with modern glass and steel. Asphalt paths winding their way through the manicured trees, grass, all illuminated, pale, almost ghostly light by streetlamps. Easy access by car, train, and bus. And students always seem to be ready to talk about what is going on. So Victor and Nelli, when you emerge from your lair, where do you go? Do we know anything about the anemic kids? Like were they any particular dorm, any particular side of campus, or is it completely random? Well you haven’t examined the records from the infirmary yet, and they might tell you something if you check them out. There might be a pattern. So that’s a good avenue of investigation. I say we go to the infirmary. Keep your hands off the bags, please. We’re here on business. (scoffs) As if. Remember what happened before. (grunts) I was hungry, I lost control, I’m sorry. To the infirmary please. Jasper, roll me four dice, including your hunger and tell me what you get please. Okay, so the infirmary’s a quick walk across the quad, it’s part of the student union building. One success.
One success. No beastial failure?
No beastial failure. You’re all good. One success it is for Jasper. Word.
‘Kay. You follow along the rooftops, moving stealthily and skillfully through the shadows, completely unseen and you observe from across the quad as they enter the infirmary building. Alright. So the infirmary is not quite a hospital, but it’s not really a emergency medical center either, somewhere in between.
A health center. Hmm, pretty much a health center. It’s got a few beds for emergency cases, the night staff looks like they’re all overworked and would like to be someplace else, like maybe home, watching a movie or sleeping. Everybody looks pretty tired and overworked. The desk clerk looks up at you with an exhausted half smile and wants to know how he can help you tonight. Would you like me to distract him so you can look around or? I think I’m better as the distraction while you look around. I can be quite enthralling, but please by all means, after you. I’m gonna walk up.
(chuckling) You’ve got his attention, suddenly he sits up a little straighter and opens his eyes a little wider trying to appear a little bit more alert and a little less tired. Miss, what can we do for you? Darling, we heard that there’s a few students here who have been reported of being a little under the weather, a little lacking in sort of iron or deficiency? Oh wow, no, we can’t give out medical records, we can’t talk about cases like that, privacy rules. We’ve gotta protect people’s privacy. I’m sorry I’d love to help you, but I just can’t. I’d like to activate awe. Okay.
(laughs) It’s free, no rouse check. Yeah.
The clerk is mortal, so. So it isn’t a rouse check? There is no rouse check at all for this, it’s a level one power and you don’t have to call upon blood to activate it. No.
So, any dice pull that you could possibly summon would easily overwhelm any resistance that this mortal has, so the power takes effect. And you get to add your presence and persuasion or charisma based rolls, anything that’s about being friendly and charismatic. What do you wanna tell him? So I just lean in and I just say, what my associate here isn’t saying is we think she might have picked up the same bug that’s going around and we just wanted to know if maybe there’s some pattern? Yeah, you guys wait right here, wait right here. Yeah. Make a charisma plus persuasion check and add your presence to it. Okay, and I do have my, I include my one hunger die, correct?
Include the one hunger die. One hunger by default, let me know what the hunger die comes up, success or failure. Charisma plus persuasion, correct? Alright, I think that’s it. Jasper, four dice please, include your hunger dice. One, two, three successes. The hunger dice was blank. The hunger dice was a failure, okay. So your hunger stays neutral. Three successes total?
Yes sir. Okay, right away, right away. If you’ll just make yourself comfortable, I’ll get someone to talk to you, just, he covers his hands with his mouth and backs away really quickly. I understand, yes. You’re gonna be alright, we’re gonna get this fixed. One success?
Mm-hmm, one success. So you’ve accumulated a total of two. I told you I was the one, that I should do the… Okay. From your vantage point on the rooftop, you can see that there’s an impromptu performance going on down at the quad, a couple of students have got some instruments, a saxophone and a guitar and they’re starting to play out in the night air. It’s terrible, it’s absolutely awful. It’s some sort of weird mashup between Simon and Garfunkel and Chelsea Wolfe? Oh man.
It’s really, it’s just grating on the ears, it’s bad. Alright, great.
It’s very distracting, too. Okay.
So they are beginning to attract a crowd outside the infirmary. Meanwhile, back inside the infirmary, the orderly, the clerk has vanished and has now returned instead a young woman in hospital scrubs comes out carrying a clipboard and walks up to you. Who’s got the symptoms?
(coughing) You um, come on into the exam room. Thanks.
Mr. And Mrs? G.
Yes. Mr. And Mrs. G, I see. You’ll have to excuse me, but you don’t look like students. No, and in fact we’re not necessarily seeking treatment, we’re really just trying to figure out where she might have picked this up, we’re just more curious. Is it the athletes that are getting sick, is it a dorm, is it some food poisoning? Is it the fashion students? Who are you people and why are you asking these questions. I mean, golly, we might as well just actually tell them who we are. (sighs) I didn’t want to, but. She looks very skeptical and she isn’t moving towards the exam room. Do you look at Instagram at all, or YouTube? Miss, I don’t have time.
Do you listen to the radio? We’ve got sick students here, I’ve got problems of my own.
Oh no, he’s a famous music producer, you probably have seen his work. Well that’s wonderful for you, sir, but we’re vary busy here.
He donates a lot of money to the school. My name’s on one of the buildings. I didn’t wanna be that guy, but please, ma’am. I have a vested interest in the wellbeing of the student body here. Charisma plus persuasion again, add your presence to it, include your hunger die, please. Jasper, it’s just gone from bad to worse. The band, they’ve kept the Simon and Garfunkel, abandoned the Chelsea Wolfe, and they’ve added REM to it. (groaning)
Yeah. But the students love it. There must be at least a dozen students outside the infirmary now, digging the impromptu concert. So disappointed. So one success and one of the skulls on my blood die. One success, one skull, ohh okay. Well your roll didn’t fail, so you don’t get a beastial failure, so that’s merely a failure but you do get a success, okay so. All good there. You look familiar, you both look a little familiar. Alright, so you’re a member of the board maybe and you don’t want it to get out, I mean? I’m not trying to waste your time, but I’m also not trying to have you waste ours. So if you could just let us know so we could have some idea so that we can kind of help the kids. Step inside the exam room. After you.
Sure, sure. So she steps in after you and shuts the door. Okay, sir, I understand that you’re somebody very important, but I need some sort of authorization to release these records, what’s your name? I don’t need records, just even roughly, roughly. Roughly on the east side of campus, roughly on the west side of campus, that’s all we’re asking. Well I shouldn’t do this, but if you’re a member of the board, then maybe it’s okay. (sighs) It started about a week ago and all the students share the same symptoms, it’s like the flu but it’s not responding to the normal drugs. And they all exhibit extreme tiredness and lethargy almost as if they were anemic, but that kind of illness really isn’t indicative of anything that is usual. I suppose that the long shot dark side is some sort of pernicious encephalitis, but they don’t respond positively to those tests, so maybe it’s a kind of flu that we don’t understand. That we haven’t seen before. We’ve sent blood samples to a larger hospital and maybe they can tell us something in a day or two. All we can do really now, is just wait and see. Do we know if it’s more male population or more female population? Well it’s male and female students. They are all enrolled in classes here, some are freshmen, juniors, sophomores. No seniors. They all have jobs on campus through the work study program. All of them work in the evenings, they’ve got evening jobs. I suppose, if you could show me some sort of credentials or some way that I won’t get in trouble, I could give you their names, maybe let you have a look at the records. Can I take a look to see if there’s anyone who’s watching the student body more intently than they’re watching the band? Super good question, okay. So please make a wits plus investigation roll. Okay, including my hunger die? Including the hunger die.
Alright. (quiet crosstalk) (clatters)
That is one success. Only one?
Only one. The only individual watching the gathering intently is a security guard. He looks a little bored, maybe amused, doesn’t seem like he’s upset or inclined to interfere though.
Right, alright. If you wanna try again, you’ll need to move to a better angle on the roof, maybe get a little closer, maybe hang over the edge a little bit, like some disgusting gargoyle. (laughs) I will do that. Okay, you wanna try again? Like. Alright, I’m gonna give you an advantage here, I’m gonna lower the difficulty to only two. So two successes is all you need. Two successes.
Yes. Fantasic, that’s perfect. In addition to the security guard, on the other side of the crowd, you do notice somebody who’s looking at the students really intently. It’s a young man with short black hair and a Griffith College hoodie, he looks pissed off, angry, like this is some kind of affront to musical propriety. I’m gonna keep my eye on him. You’re gonna keep your eye on him. What’s going on inside? Darling, I don’t have time for this anymore, my name is Nelli G, or Nelli Griffith, I am the founder of the fashion department here. Oh, Miss Griffith, yes.
Thank you. I should have recognized you. Yes, yes you should have. I’m sorry, I apologize. I understand, you probably didn’t want anybody to know you were here. No, that’s why I wear very big sunglasses. It’s all clear to me now.
Excellent. Here, I’ll call up the records on the monitor for you. Perfect, thank you so much. She sits down at the monitor and makes a few hurried keystrokes on the keyboard and she begins calling up student records from the infirmary database. I just take pictures basically. On your phone?
Yeah. (laughing) So the three students with the worst symptoms are a student named Louann, who works on the campus coffee shop. And two students who work in the library. I text Jasper these pictures. Right in the middle of your intent observations, your cellphone buzzes. Do you have a special tone for Victor? (laughing) (imitates a sad trombone)
(laughing) Appropriate.
I’ve got my phone on vibrate.
(laughing) But if there were sound, it would be sad trombone. How do you really feel about Victor? How I really feel, alright. I get back over the edge and I flip open my flip phone. (laughing)
I have a flip phone. You have a Nokia.
It’s canon now. I open my phone and I look and I go oh. So you see three pictures flash across the screen, one is a young redheaded woman wearing a green leather jacket, are you including the hospital record information in the picture or just the photos of the students? Whatever’s on the screen.
Whatever’s on the screen. The student works at the campus cafe, Grounds for Coffee. The next one is a student named Juan, who has short black hair and he’s wearing a hoodie. In fact, you have seen him just a few moments ago. Ahh. And the third photograph is a freshman named Chen, who works at the library media center. I text back that I have eyes on Juan. Well you did have eyes on Juan, but somewhere between the buzzing of your phone and texting back, he is no longer in the quad. (growls) Ouch
Fuck. Meanwhile, back in the infirmary, the doctor is apologetic, she hopes that you’ve got what you need and she can be of any further help, you just have to call her, she gives you a card. I take her card and then I put my hand on her shoulder and say don’t worry, we’re going to forget all about this. Are you using cloud memory?
Yes. I am going to cloud her memory of talking to us. Okay, cloud memory is free, it does not require a rouse check, but you do need to make a charisma and dominate roll. Okay, is it just those two things together? Mm-hmm. Okay. (clatter)
Two successes but one of the successes was on my blood die. That’s fine, it’s still a success. So she blinks, her eyelids flutter, she’s about to say something and then forgets what she said. I hope you both have a very good night, I’ve gotta get back to work.
Ta-ta darling. Call me if you need anything? She seems confused and puzzled, she shrugs and maybe chocks it up to lack of sleep, long day. Okay.
Back into the interior of the infirmary she goes, are you leaving? Yeah.
Mm-hmm. Alright, you get two texts from me. One says I have eyes on Juan, the second one says no I don’t. (laughing) Are you looking around for him? Yeah, I’m gonna see if I can see him anywhere, if I can’t I’m gonna head off the roof and try and go on the ground. Okay. That’s a great idea. You don’t spot him, so you’re gonna descend? I’m going to descend. Climbing down? Quickly? No.
You find a fire escape on the far side of the building, descend as quickly as you can, still using unseen presence. Do you want me to make a stealth check, see if I can do it quietly? Yeah, those old fire escapes can be pretty rickety and make a lot of noise and this would not be the time to attract attention to yourself. No it would not. You’re exiting the infirmary? Yes, but on the way out, I just look at the guy that was at the table, and I’m like I’d appreciate if you could keep this, we weren’t here. Are you going to use cloud memory on him, too? No, no, just words. He shrugs.
Okay. Five successes.
Whoa, yeah. Nobody’s hiding from you tonight. It’s just too bad you were only looking for Juan, ’cause this would’ve been the time to go look for the Loch Ness monster, right? (laughs) On the far end of the quad, you see him disappearing into the library.
Gotcha. That’s the time when Nelli and Victor emerge from the infirmary, when you descend the fire escape. Can we see him? Super quietly. Okay. He’s nowhere to be seen. Okay.
You could call him maybe. I’m going to, so I see them coming out of the library? Mm-hmm. Can I swoop up behind them and then just go, library, and then leave. (growls) I hate it when he does that. Never get used to that. (sighs) Yeah, the library, yes quickly. He’s got the library taken care of, let’s go to the coffee shop. No, he can’t go in the library. (sighs)
Who says? Oh this should be outstanding. Shall we say that you rendezvous at the entrance to the library? Yes.
Yes. Okay. You meet them there?
I meet them there. Okay, under the sickly glow of the orange sodium streetlamps, his hideous features are revealed in all their glory. Oh, it’s, hmm. I know what I look like. The ointment’s working, please keep that up. Are you sure you aren’t gonna mess up your suit or your shoes?
No I’m not sure. (laughs) My shoes got ruined last time because of you. Ah, Juan, one of the men you sent me a picture of, is inside the library, just thought you’d wanna know. Shall we go speak with him? He looks upset. At least he was when the music was playing. Hm. Never hire that band to your label. (laughs)
It’s true. Are you not a fan of their musical stylings? Yeah.
Is that fair to say? We may revoke their scholarship. Hire them to annoy him. That’s a good point. Into the library, after you, my lady, after you. You enter the college library, it’s exactly like you remember it from last time. Big building, full of books, but with a modern computer database instead of the card catalogs of your college days. Oh this place is such a yawn. Knowledge is power. Well, money is power, but second to money, knowledge is power. It’s late enough at night that the building is starting to empty, even the most studious of the young people are beginning to pack up and make their way home, so there aren’t that many people around the library lobby and at the reference desk, right inside the front doors, you see a young man who, you think pretty much fits the description that Jasper gave you. Kind of thin and tall, short dark hair, and with a Griffith College hoodie, he’s at the reference desk, he looks like he works here. This one is yours. (scoffs) Use this. Meanwhile, outside the library, the agony assaulting your ears has not abated. Still with the Simon and Garfunkel. But it might be the Police, you’re not sure. (laughing)
Really, that is cruel. These people are gonna make a million dollars, you just know it, because there is no justice in the world.
None, none whatsoever. None whatsoever. I’m not above citing it, it’s true. Now that they’re inside the library, I look back at the pictures that I was sent and you said two of them were from the library and one was from the coffee shop, correct? That’s right. I’m gonna head over towards the coffee shop. Okay, other side of the quad. Okay. Sure, Grounds for Coffee is still open, it’s a popular meeting spot. I’m just gonna observe people. Do you want to go back in stealth mode? I do. (chuckles)
A rouse check? Mm-hmm. (clatter)
And a success. Hey, how about that. Yay, I don’t get hungrier.
(laughing) So go ahead and make the check for this.
Yes. And you include your blood die. So to be clear, our hunger increases when we have more of the skull results than successes? That is one success. One success?
Mm-hmm. Okay, that should be enough. Skirting the line on a lot of these rolls here. I believe in you, I believe in you Jasper. Yeah. So back over to the library, Nelli. Yes, well I’m gonna activate awe as well. Okay. So I’ll walk up to Juan. So you are inhumanly alluring and friendly. You’re gonna be able to add your presence to any social skills involving persuasion or performance, right?
Mm-hmm. Okay, it’s free. What do you wanna tell Juan? Darling, I love your hoodie, who designed it? You know, it’s from Target. It’s from the campus store section. Hi, how are you. Hi, that hurt my heart. (laughter) That’s a new form of aggravated damage. Whoo, gimme a second. I’m gonna take a point of willpower. (laughter) We’ve both been wounded by the experience. Tar-jay you say. You look really familiar. Yes.
Do I know you? Well I’m whipping out my glasses and putting these back on again.
Like what kind of book do you want? I was looking for a medical book about anemia perhaps. He looks suspicious immediately. You know you’re pretty and all, but. How close are we? I don’t know, how close do you wanna be? Pretty close, I wanna put my hand on his chest. Okay, he leans forward across the reference desk and lets you touch him. Puts his hand on your hand. You’re gorgeous and all, but I don’t wanna talk about this. What do you mean you don’t wanna talk about this? I don’t wanna talk about it. Well what’s wrong, sweetheart? Look, the library is closing really soon, maybe you should go, but can I get your number before you do? Only if you tell me about this thing that you wanted to talk about? Make a manipulation plus presence roll. (chuckling and vocalizing) You can add the same number of dice because you have dots in presence skill. Yes.
Okay. One, two, three successes. Three up, okay. (sighs) Yeah, uh. Okay, the person you wanna talk to is Annabelle. Annabelle? Yeah, you wanna talk to my friend Annabelle. But don’t tell her I said so. Why, you seem so nervous about this? Well, it’s really complicated, so when am I getting your number? Pulls out his phone.
Oh sweetheart, you actually thought that I was… We need to find out where Annabelle is first and then… Oh, she works at Grounds for Coffee. Grounds for Coffee, I text Jasper, while to him I’m like that’s awesome, Annabelle at Grounds for Coffee. Are you serious, no? No number?
No? How about I give you a kiss on the cheek, would that help? He cranes his head, expectantly. Mwah. Alright. Is that better?
No, but you know, it’ll do, so you come here often? I text back, I’m already there. Relatively, probably more than you think. Okay, I work Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday nights here. And I also tend bar down the street. Wow. At the RoundUp. What’s your favorite drink to make? Dark and stormy.
Dark and stormy, I don’t think I’ve ever had that. What does that entail? It’s dark rum, and ginger beer, and lime. You’d love, stop on by, it’s on the house. It’s all on the house. I haven’t ever tasted that… Actually, I’m glad to see that you’re feelin’ better. We’re gonna go say hi to Annabelle. Don’t tell her I sent you. No, in fact, we’re gonna forget this all happened. (laughs)
But I was having fun. I’m gonna cloud his memory also. Cloud his memory also. You like a vampire or something? Something, like that.
Very handy. We don’t leave a trail. Make it happen.
Four successes. (sighs) As you leave the library, he’s still shaking his head trying to move the frozen glob of chili that’s passing through his brain tonight. You just have that effect on people. Yes, darling, I do. Yeah, are you heading over to the coffee shop ahead of them or are you waiting? Ahead of them. You’re gonna get there first. Yeah.
Okay. As soon as they went in the library, I was on my way. Okay. That’s why the Ventrue were in charge. Why the Ventrue were in charge. That’s why the Ventrue were in charge. We’ll see about that, right? Yeah.
Okay. (laughing) They can be unknown.
You’re a few minutes ahead of them.
Okay. Grounds for Coffee is the only cafe that’s actually on campus. Of course, in the neighborhood around, there are others, but this is the most convenient, so it stays open late and it’s always pretty busy. Tonight is no exception, and here, finally, you do not have to listen to the guitar and the saxophone. Good. It’s blissful musak. Oh.
(laughs) Yeah. You know, if those are your choices. I mean, I’m gonna go with musak. Alright. So I guess I’m going to find an out of the way spot just to be and then look for anybody who could be named Annabelle. Gimme four dice again, please. Okay. (clatter) That would be one success. Still riding.
Still riding that vibe. Not much in success, but still squeaking out the victories.
Story of my life. Story of your life, that’s a total of four, isn’t it. So how would you go about finding someone named Annabelle if you don’t know what she looks like? That’s a very good question. Yeah. I’m gonna look for anybody who may be sitting on their own, or standing on their own, watching people. Not doing anything to occupy their time other than looking at everybody else around them. In other words, you’re looking for a vampire. I see.
Yeah. Okay.
(laughs) Hold that thought. Going from the library to Grounds for Coffee, no stops along the way, okay. Scanning the crowd, couple of dozen students, lot of them studying, big piles of books, papers, highlighters, post-it notes, or what passes for studying. Mm-hmm. Students involved in deep conversations, some of them very very serious. Some of them very very lighthearted. But you don’t see anybody that you would think of as a predator. That’s the time when you arrive. Through the doors, into the musak of the cafe. Hey, at least it’s not what’s happening on the quad. Okay, we should talk to the administration about playing some of our music in the cafe, like we could send them some MP3s. What’s so wrong with the music? That’s why you’re never gonna make it in this business. (laughing) Look here, Victor, let’s talk about this imitation suit you’re wearing. Imitation. (laughs) Exactly. Is it an imitation suit? No, it is not.
(laughs) I pay an excessive amount, it’s Egyptian cotton, thank you. Well you’re paying the wrong tailor then. Oof, will you two get your shit together, please. (laughing) (clears throat)
He’s right. Business first.
Fine. Apparently she works here, so I look around, do I see anyone that’s clearly serving drinks, clearly clearing tables? Well, actually, the person that you recognize is Louann, you know, the redheaded student, the sophomore from the medical report? She also works at Grounds for Coffee. Green leather jacket? Green leather jacket, she’s behind the counter. I walk up to Louann and I say, excuse me, is Annabelle working tonight? She looks at you. Yeah, no, maybe? And then she looks over your shoulder as though she’s trying to attract somebody’s attention without you seeing, but she’s failing miserably at it. When she does, I give like the full swivel and I’m like, is that her? (laughing) Look we’re here to give her a scholarship for the university, we wanted to give her a couple of questions and actually see her place of work to see if she qualifies.
Okay, charisma plus persuasion. (clears throat) I rotate and I look that direction and I text him like, that corner of the room. You’re gonna try to text and swivel at the same time? Yeah.
That’s pretty amazing. You don’t even have celerity. (laughing) I am keeping my eyes on them so. Okay.
Four successes. Four, okay. Scholarship, okay. That’s great, she’ll be really thrilled, because she’s had some problems lately and could really, really use the money. It’s her lucky day. Yeah, I didn’t realize they gave out scholarships in coffee shops, but. Well we’re working on it, we wanna see her place of work first. Okay, she doesn’t actually work here, but whatever. As you turn your head and look and what are you texting Jasper? I think Annabelle’s over, roughly if it’s near a window, near a table, however I need to do the triangulation. I’m like Annabelle’s near the restroom or something, yeah. What you see in the direction that Louann was looking is a young woman with long black hair, wearing a red leather jacket and her head partially shaved and she’s sitting at a table by a window, and she’s talking to another student, a young man, who’s got a blonde crew cut and he’s wearing a lacrosse sweatshirt. Before I approach, is there anything about her that says kindred to me? Hmm. It’s gonna be difficulty of five. This is really hard, so. Would you like me to help you? Always.
Oh darling. I’m gonna activate auspex sense the unseen. Sense the unseen lets you see things that are hidden or invisible, so you might pick up Jasper. Okay.
But it isn’t the same as heightened senses. Let’s do this, go ahead and activate it, because there might be other things for you to see here. I will defer to my lady here, because she’s the perceptive one. Is your wits or resolve better? Wits. Go with wits plus auspex. (clatter) Whoa, zero success.
Gauge is nothing nothing. Nothing nothing?
Nothing. Complete failure?
Complete failure. Might as well have stabbed yourself in the eyes with your beautiful fingernails. We’re not gonna go that far.
No nothin. Nothin.
Nothin at all. Could’ve been worse, literally could’ve been worse. It could have been a lot worse. (clatter) Are you sure that’s what you want? Yeah. Well okay, but we can’t do that here. No, of course not, it’s okay. Like just, a couple of hours. Do you wanna go back to my place? Okay, yeah.
Sounds great. So let’s go. Okay, okay.
Okay, alright. Yeah, sure. The person you believe to be Annabelle stands up and so does the young man with the blonde crew cut and the lacrosse sweatshirt, they look like they’re getting ready to leave. We should follow them, we don’t want this in the coffee shop.
Mm-mm. I text Jasper, I’m like she’s leaving, we’ll take her outside. Yes, let’s go.
Yeah, let’s kind of just brood about it, right.
He pulls out a wallet and throws a few bills on the table, doesn’t count ’em. Like yeah, okay, cool.
Awesome, thanks. With awkward chivalry, he offers you his arm. What a gentleman, look at you. Yeah, yeah. (chuckles) Yeah, should we go?
Yeah. Okay.
But definitely, we’ll keep this on the down low so I know that your team and your teammates and everything aren’t gonna talk.
Oh I don’t think they’d understand, but I do, I understand. I know that you do, you’re different. I totally get it, I appreciate the position you’re in. I’m happy to help.
‘Cause you’re awesome, did you know that? You know, I’ve heard that before. You can never hear it often enough though. Yeah. (laughs)
Alright, let’s go. Let’s go.
Okay. Arm in arm, they’re going to exit the coffee shop. You are not interfering? I’m not interfering, but I’m going to tail them and slip out the door before the door closes so I don’t have to physically touch the door. Right, we’re gonna let him get 15 seconds or so ahead and we walk out also in sort of like, you know. Just walking normally. ‘Cause otherwise the door would open by itself. Right, it’s like electric, man. (laughs)
Annabelle. Can you make a roll for me, please? Let’s go with wits, three dice, and awareness with one die. So four dice, but add your hunger die in there. How’d we do? One success.
One success. Okay. A shiver goes down your spine, you can’t quite place it but something’s wrong.
(laughs) So you exit the coffee shop, arm in arm, with your new friend. He’s talking on excitedly about the lacrosse team’s chances this year, he’s super excited for practice to start and they think they have a real chance at taking the state champs.
Oh absolutely. Absolutely, yeah.
Absolutely. How do you? Is it kinda?
No, it’s okay, it’s completely hygienic and I’ve got a needle and a bag and everything, it’s not like. Whoa, okay.
I mean if that’s what you’re if you’re still into that and everything. I’m up for anything.
Okay. Yeah.
Okay. He looks a little nervous.
Yeah, that’s okay, don’t be nervous. I just text Jasper, I’m like as soon as they’re out of sight, like we’re just looking for a dark corner basically. (laughs) So he leads you outside the coffee shop. Jasper, you’re tailing with unseen presence. Yes.
You don’t have that advantage, so what are you doing? And you’re not exactly inconspicuous. No not at all.
Nope. Dressed so well.
We’re just talking. That’s up for debate about being dressed so well. First of all, we can both be beautiful, you don’t have to put me down to lift yourself up okay, we can both shine.
I’m just talking about the suit, you’re beautiful. The suit’s incredible, thank you very much. (clears throat) Wasn’t designed by me. Students turn their heads to look at you both, you get a couple of long looks, especially you, Victor. Hey what’s up. People think they know who you are, maybe, you look familiar. A young man gets in your way, and says hey, hey. That last album, freakin’ awesome. I just wanted to, I mean. Do you want a selfie, you wanna get a picture? Yeah, yeah, can we do that? Yeah man.
So he leaps right up, puts his arm around you. And I’m like West Side.
Grins, big cheesy grin. Would you like me to take a picture? Yeah, totally.
Oh yeah. No, no you should be in the picture with us. I’ll take the picture, don’t worry. I give him a card from the club, I’m like, come by later, bring your friends. Yeah, yeah.
Girls get in free. Absolutely, definitely.
Yeah. He gets the picture, he goes on his way happily and you’ve lost some ground on your target. Mm-hmm. You’ll have to hurry to catch up. It’s fine, it’s fine, Jasper’s on ’em. Jasper’s on it, not that you can see him. I have faith that Jasper’s on it. He’s just doing a look.
He leads you off campus. About a block away, where there is a modest apartment building. Fumbles with his keys for a few minutes and unlocks the front door. Holds it open for you. You’re so sweet. Thanks, thanks. You know I never really got how lacrosse works and stuff, maybe you can explain it to me. It’s totally cool, it’s super awesome. He launches into a really unnecessarily detailed explanation of the finer points of lacrosse. (laughs) Yeah, leads you on.
Yeah, great. Into the building and up the stairs. Jasper? You wanna try to get in? You’re gonna have to be quick. I’ll be quick.
Dex and athletics. Dex and athletics, okay.
Before that door closes. Difficulty, make it three. One, two, three, four successes. You have just amazing luck this evening. It’s almost like you’re good at this stuff. What? (laughing)
Wait ’til I have to do other things.
(groaning) So you make it in the door before it closes. You’re about a minute or two ahead of the duo behind you. So they ascend the stairwell. Okay. And at the top, he turns left with his keys, opens an apartment door. Okay, and you are cool with this, right? So he stops outside. This is where we make sure, right? Yes, I mean, I will be discreet and I know that you’ll definitely be discreet. I just wanna make sure that you’re still okay with everything. I’m totally into it, yeah.
Okay, awesome. I wanna help, I wanna help. It really, really means a lot to me, thank you. Okay.
Awesome. Alright.
You can overhear this from your vantage point in the stairwell. They enter the apartment and close the door. Okay.
Alright. And you hear the sound of the bolt being shut, click. Okay. So to be clear, you made it through the apartment gate, but not into the apartment. I’m not in the actual apartment, I’m in the hallway right now. In the hallway.
Okay. So. You entered the apartment ground floor door, you don’t know where Jasper is, and you don’t know where your target is either. As soon as they shut the door and I’m locked outside, I wanna text him what apartment I’m at. Okay. So he can direct you.
To the door, yeah. Maybe like I’ll kind of stand like conspicuous a couple doors away so you know and I’m like, so how do you wanna go in? Jasper’s the concealed one. I mean, we can’t let her hurt this kid. Not on our watch. Why would you think she’s, oh okay. Yeah, got it, great, uh-huh. Do you have any particular lockpicking skills? (sighs) I would like to attempt to pick the lock. (laughs) You are particularly well-suited to do so. Yes. So let’s go ahead.
Plus larceny? Larceny.
Alright. But there’s a deadbolt. (groans) It’s a cheap modest apartment. You are good at this. Oof, no, wow. That’s one success and a lot of blank die. Well if you want to, if you think it’s important, you have the option of spending a point of willpower to reroll any three dice. Now, if you do that, you take superficial damage to your willpower and you don’t have it to spend on something else. It depends on how important you think this is. (sighs) Yeah, I’ll burn one. Burning willpower, okay. So, gritting your fangs, flexing your disgusting fingers. You said any dice? Up to any three. But I have to include my blood dice in that? You can’t reroll hunger checks. You can’t reroll hunger dice. Okay, great. That’s great. But he does not have to include the hunger dice. Normal dice.
Just normal dice. Normal die, up to three.
Excellent. Two.
Two successes. That’s three total though, isn’t it? Oh, that’s a total of two now. Total of two. Unfortunately the lock resists your best attempts, you may have to break it down or knock on the door. Yeah. (sighs)
You’re supposed to be good at this.
Yes, it doesn’t always work. Obviously interacting with physical objects removes… No, I’m visible now. So he’s visible and you can see him. Gonna try this the old fashioned way. Okay. (knocking)
Meanwhile. He’s in the middle of taking off his shirt when there’s a knock on the door. Hmm.
Well. Hey, hang on, I’ll find out. Maybe it’s the landlord or I don’t know. Can’t it wait?
Landlord. (laughs)
Man. Hang on, make yourself at home. There’s stuff in the fridge, I’ll be right back. Okay, okay cool. Yeah, it’s fine, it’s fine. Okay. A few moments later, the bolt slides back and the young man whom you were tailing opens the door. Yeah, totally back against the wall. Yeah, I’m around the corner. (laughs) You’re trying not to be seen? Yeah.
But not supernaturally. Not supernaturally.
Out of the line of sight. So it’s just Victor that he sees? Yeah, not out of the peep hole, but when he opens the door he can see me. Sure, he just opens, he doesn’t even bother checking the peep hole.
Sure. He opens it right up. And he’s struggling to put his shirt back on. I’m a little busy, you’re not the landlord. He opens it all the way.
Yeah, wide open. I walk past him.
Hey, stop. He tries to get in front of you. He’s gonna try to push you out. Chris?
Yeah, do I see her? Do they see you or are you in the bedroom? Yeah sitting on the bed.
Sitting on the bed? So you don’t see her yet. But he’s gonna try and physically interpose himself between you and the rest of his apartment. He’s gonna try to shove you. Sure, he’s a lacrosse player. It’s an opposed roll, it happens at the same time. Okay. So I need you to either dodge or get into the combat. So my fortitude doesn’t effect this though, right? ‘Cause I’m kind of like the immovable object. Yeah, the fortitude would come into play if he would actually damage you. Right. But he’s just trying to shove? He’s just trying to shove you. So it’s an opposed strength plus brawl roll. Okay. Highest number of successes wins. Okay. If I wished to activate my blood potency, how does that work? Do you wanna use blood surge to increase your strength capability? I’m askin’ I’m not telling, but I mean. (laughs) What are the odds, is that what you’re asking? How would I go about doing that? ‘Cause speed is not my forte. If you wanted advantage, you can call upon the power of your blood, you can rouse the blood, tempting the beast by making a check roll with a hunger die. Of course, you potentially could increase your hunger for blood. But regardless, you will increase your strength by one die in the roll. And I would increase it by another blood die, right? No, just a regular die. Okay, well I would like to do that. I would like to activate my blood. Go ahead and make the rouse check. That is blank.
Okay. Okay, yes and then I would like to increase my physical strength. Whaa. Just a skull, no success. You know what, I’m going to consume my willpower point, if I may? You want to blow a willpower and reroll? ’cause I would rather not splatter this kid. Okay, so reroll three normal dice. Yes, sorry. (laughs)
What did you do, What happened? Still nothing?
Is it a messy critical? No, it is just a single skull. A beastial failure.
(laughing) A beastial failure. (groans)
This thing is off the walls. Let’s play some vampire.
It’s not going well for us. That was after attempting to reroll, no less. Wow.
I tried to fight what I am. So Chris got two successes. So he actually beat you on the contest of physical strength. Gets in front of you, shoves you back a couple of steps and he says, run Annabelle. Chris? And you let the beast out. Does he come back out the door? Into the hallway?
Yeah. No he’s still inside the apartment, but he shoved you back a couple of steps and the beast is not having any of this. How dare he lay hands on your very expensive suit. How dare he command one of the Ventro. It’s not gonna be pretty at all. You’re gonna go for him. Okay. Go ahead and (laughs).
Am I hearing this at all? You can hear what’s going on, you can hear the sounds of a scuffle. So go ahead and make another strength plus brawl check to keep the augmented strength. Okay. Two successes this time. Your fangs are in his throat. Can I try and grab him off of him? Okay, so many things happen at once. (laughing) Annabelle, from the bedroom, hears run Annabelle. The only way out of here is the the window, so what do you wanna do? I grab the lacrosse stick in the corner, and I go run towards him. I hear they’re made out of wood. (laughs)
That’s what I thought. (groans)
Jasper. From the hallway, you hear, run Annabelle, and then the distinctive sounds of (snarling) and then there’s a terrible scream and then (groans).
I’m gonna flip around the corner and grab Victor. You’re gonna try to pull Victor off. Yeah. Okay. Nelli, what’s your intention here? Okay, but I’m the third one back, so. You just kind of wanna stay out of the line of arterial spray?
Oh yeah, I’m trying to keep my eye on where Annabelle’s running off to. Yeah, okay. So you wanna make sure Annabelle doesn’t get out of the apartment?
Correct. Okay. And Victor, you’re a little busy right now. So strength plus brawl?
Strength plus brawl. He’s not in any position to pay attention to you, so I’m not gonna give him a resistance roll right now. Two successes.
Two successes. This isn’t really my thing, yeah. How many hunger did you have at the time being? My hunger had not actually increased. So fortunately, fortunately. Jasper manages to grasp you by the shoulders and pull you physically off Chris before you can actually drink enough to slake your hunger. Which is a good thing, because the only way to get rid of your final hunger die is to kill your victim. What is wrong with you? Chris sinks to the floor and is bleeding and moaning and clutching his hands to his throat. The ecstasy of the kiss is over. And now he’s in pain, you emerge from the bedroom, brandishing your lacrosse stick to find this person wiping blood, Chris’s blood, from his mouth and that, whatever it is, the most horrible thing you have ever seen, looming over him. We need to talk. Well first off, I’m gonna step into like actual, you need to calm down. And then it’s the gothic diva version of Morticia Adams in the apartment, do you close the door behind you? Yes. Alright.
Deadbolt (clicking). Is he?
He’s still kicking and moving, but he’s in terrible pain. Well we’ve gotta help him. You fix him.
(growls) Fine. And I do, and I get down there. And you get down there, you get the blood in your face. What are you doing, get away from him. We’re cleaning up your mess. Calm down, breathe.
Just sit down. No. Annabelle, before your very eyes, the wounds, the puncture wounds that his fangs put in Chris’s neck, completely vanish as if they were never there. And Chris just moans, half comatose, half conscious, laying on the floor. How far is she from me? A few paces. Okay. (chuckles) Chris, are you okay?
Annabelle, Annabelle, are you alright?
Yeah, yeah yeah. Are you okay? Well I’ve felt better. Okay, you’re making jokes, that’s a good sign, just stay conscious, okay? Just stay conscious. Contrary to present events, we’re not immediately here to hurt you. Oh don’t frighten the poor child, come here. We’re gonna sit down and chat. (groans) Chris flips over onto his hands and knees and tries to begin to crawl away from you towards the sofa. I’ll let him. You’ll let him do it? Where’s he going?
Toward the sofa. Mm-hmm.
Stay. Just go away. Just lie still for a minute, everything’s gonna be okay. He sinks back to the floor. You guys had better start talking. Right now. Are you going to hit me with that lacrosse stick? It depends on what you tell me and what you’re gonna do next. Just don’t move. Well I wouldn’t talk to him, as such. Put the stick down, come on. I’m not gonna hurt you, do you think I can actually hurt you? I mean I assume you’re like… No. Like what? Oh come, out with it already. What do you think? Actually, and I point at him, Chris on the floor, and I’m like let’s not have this conversation here. That’s a very good point.
Right. Why don’t you do the thing? Yeah. I kinda set Chris up, and I look him in the eye and I’m like, Chris, I’m gonna need you to forget all about this.
(laughs) You wanna cloud his memory?
Yeah. (laughing) Coming in pretty handy this evening. This is an unusual night for you, you’re not accustomed to it. This isn’t how I usually like to do business. (laughing) Are you sure? (laughing) Yeah, uh huh. Okay. I don’t like to admit it to myself. It’s charisma plus presence, correct? Mm-hmm.
Sorry, a lot’s happening. Many things are happening at once. Two successes. Two successes is enough for him to forget what has happened in the last minute or two. I turn around away from him. I look over at her and I say… What the hell is going on here, who are you people? Annabelle, are you okay? Hey, that’s my lacrosse stick, don’t break that. Oh, sorry. What happens next depends on you. We need to leave, leave him here now. You okay? Uh, yeah, is this really what you meant though? ‘Cause I thought it would be different. What would be different? We can have coffee another time and chat. Here’s your lacrosse stick. Thanks, so I’ll call you? Yeah, see you in Soch.
Uh huh, bye. Mm-hmm.
Weird. Bad darlin’.
Really weird. Bye Chris. Yeah, I actually text my driver, Eve, where we are and I’m like bring the car around, we’re leaving. Right away, sir. Like, Annabelle, we’re gonna answer all your questions, we just cannot do it here. Are you guys gonna hurt me or? That depends. (snickering) What?
Where are you having this conversation?
No, we leave. We leave the apartment. So you’re leaving the apartment, are you walking with them, Annabelle? I haven’t gone in front of her, I’m staying behind her. Still in the doorway. Haven’t left the doorway yet. I do the hair flip, come on, darling, there are better ways to meet lacrosse players, if you want, come. We’ll teach you, I’ll teach you. I’m better than they are. You’ve got blood on your suit, your shirt, your tie. (groans) Annabelle. Sociology student Annabelle. Yeah? Are you dating a guy named Mark? Annabelle, I need you to make a roll please. Would you please roll wits and awareness. Difficulty is one. Two. You’ve seen him, you’ve seen a photograph of him. You’ve seen a photograph of him in the dorm room of a certain young man. (sighs) It is her. Mr. Timple? (laughs)
She knows you? What? She’s dating my son. Ah.
Oh, I’m sorry. So who’s, let me get this straight… In the car, in the car, in the car. We’ll talk in the car, we will talk in the car. Let’s go. Does he know about? He will never know about this, we will talk in the car. We’re not gonna hurt you, we’re not. We’re not gonna hurt her. We’re not gonna hurt you. I didn’t do anything. Yeah, you’re the one with blood on your suit. I know, which is why I wanna leave. I don’t have blood on my suit. You’re not wearing a suit. It’s a type of suit. Oh dear Lord, let’s okay, alright alright. Let’s go.
(scoffs) Leaving the apartment building? Yes, wherever Eve’s picking us up. Got it.
(laughing) Glasses on.
It’s effective, it’s effective, yeah.
Hair perfect. It’s hard to see, it’s hard to see your faces. Out of the apartment building, out onto the street where the car is waiting, what kind of car is it? A large luxury SUV that won’t get us sued for naming. Hmm.
(laughing) Okay, is it black?
Of course. Are the windows tinted?
Incredibly tinted. Like they’re some other kind. Like beyond legal tint. (laughing) Right, okay.
Dark tint. At the wheel, is a very attractive young woman with long black hair, wearing what you would describe, I guess as sort of mechanic’s clothes. She looks like she might’ve come from a workshop or maybe an automotive situation. You can smell the car oil and grease. Her hands are dirty as though she’s been messing with an engine. Mr. Timple, where do you wanna go? Eve, in the car please. Okay. We all hop in and I’m like. ‘Round the block, sir? Just away from here. (laughs) When all the doors are shut, I take off my hood and you see that there are dark veins running all up through my head and everything. Sorry. What?
It’s rude, sorry. It’s really not. Well out with it. This is really stupid, this is really, really stupid. Is there a name for what is happening? One thing before we get to that question. I was following you for a little while, what have you been telling people is a better question. Just that I have a genetic disorder that’s starting to manifest and that I need blood. You know there’s a lot of things that you can do if you can edit Wikipedia properly. Alright, as long as you didn’t use any words? Maybe related to books? Maybe related to things? I can’t say vampire.
Oh good. That’s not, that’s not. I keep extra shirts like in the glovebox, like shrunk wrap.
Just for these occasions? Yeah.
Does this happen to you often? I mean, in rounded numbers, how many times a week have you been? More often than I would like, I like to stay crisp. Maybe wear darker colors? Yes.
Black is good. Yes. You wanna change while you’re driving? No, while Eve’s driving.
While Eve’s driving. I’m, yeah, new shirt, new tie. Oh my gosh.
For my own edification, When we have situations like this messy critical, like generally how long does it take to come down? It’s variable, it depends on the situation, the stress factors, but by now, you should be coming back to yourself and regaining your usual aplomb. (laughs) Okay, so Mark doesn’t know. How long have you been hiding this from him? I think he thinks you just don’t, like you haven’t seen him in like a year. No, we’re gonna talk about Mark, later, but. Why did you do that to Chris? Have you done this to Mark yet? Have you done that on Mark? All of you.
No. Before we get into all of that. Thank you, Jasper, go ahead. So yeah, that worked. Yes, please Jasper, you have the conch. What?
(laughs) Don’t worry about it. Yes, so that word that you used, don’t use that word, we don’t use it either. Vampire.
Yeah we don’t. That’s not a thing. I mean it is a thing, it’s a word but it’s not a thing. Look.
(laughs) It’s not our word.
It’s not our word. Oh my God, oh my God, okay. No, no, okay, I understand. What is the preferred term? There are a couple, but the one we usually use is Kindred. Kindred.
Kindred. Okay.
Yeah. I mean don’t go around saying it, but that’s what we call each other or Licks if you’re not feeling particularly nice. Okay, alright, Kindred.
Yeah. Now look, why am I doing this? (laughing)
That’s a good question. Yeah. Eve continues to drive smoothly around Hollywood, she takes mostly side streets to keep out of the traffic, she just keeps going until you tell her otherwise. Yes, drive casual, Eve. (laughs) We’re having a moment in here. You can hear her eye was rolling. Who is your sire? My what? Your…
Maker. Who embraced you?
Your vampire daddy. (laughing and crosstalk)
I thought you just said that we can’t use that word. Great, great, great. Do you think she knows what sire means? No.
Thank you. I don’t know. I don’t know. So I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the reasons there have been these flulike symptoms that we’ve heard so much about around the campus is because you’ve been feeding. Yes.
Yes. Okay, wait, no this is fine. You didn’t say vampire, you got permission, you haven’t killed anybody, this is good. We can do this, this is good. We have to take her to the Baron now. We have to take her to the Baron. The Baron? Not yet.
You’re putting me on. Our boss. Your boss too. Yeah.
I don’t have a… Oh you’ve got a boss.
You do now. You’ve got a boss. Annabelle, your phone rings, it’s Elanor’s ringtone. Who’s that? Hey. What would her ringtone be? It’s our song. Okay. Hang on, I need, just all of you be quiet. I need to take this.
(growling) Hey babe.
Hey, hey. Are you done, are you coming back? (quiet conferring)
Um, no. Belle, are you okay? No, no I am not.
What’s going on? I’m in a car with some people. Where are you?
(coughing loudly) I met Mark’s dad. Mark’s dad?
(grunting and groaning) How close are we to her? Jasper, Jasper. I’m gonna, I rip the phone out of her hand. Hey. Do you wanna try to stop him? Yeah.
Okay, it’s an opposed roll. So let’s make it a brawl, so strength and brawl for each of you. And potence if relevant, right. If relevant. It’s not really a contest of strength. So strength plus power? Strength plus brawl. (clatter) That is four successes. Okay, Annabelle. If you can beat four successes, you can have your phone back. (clatter)
I cannot. He beat me by one. He’s got your phone, he hung up. One of the very first things you need to know is we don’t talk to people about this. We don’t talk about this. We don’t tell anybody?
No. No, you can’t tell me what to do. I think we can. No you can’t. I am a grown ass woman and you are deadbeat father. Whoa.
The Baron. Sir shall I call ahead?
Shots fired. Very well. We might just take the long route. That’s gonna take some time. There’s bad traffic on Sunset. Good.
Can I handle this? Are you guys done?
Sure, why not. Wonderful, woman to woman. Talk to me darling, grown ass woman to grown ass woman. Thank you.
You’re welcome. What you are experiencing is quite the tragedy, and I understand. We all went through it. It fucking sucks.
Yeah, feel that. It’s rough, everything that you’ve ever known is gone. Oh, great, okay. Good talk, good talk. Good talk. But the good part about it is, we still have to keep face. So you get to go out and do what you like to do under the moonlight, but you can’t tell anyone your secret. You don’t have people that you tell about this, what is the point of living if you don’t have somebody to share it with? We’re talking about it now, do you feel any better? I’m getting a couple of answers, so a little bit. But also things are very confusing, so no, I don’t know, it evens out, I guess. There’s no way that you as a student would understand. Think about it this way, you being what you are, have people you love, right? In your life, then people, other people like us, who may not like you so much find out you have other people in your life that you love. What do you think happens to them? You wouldn’t.
I wouldn’t, I don’t care. Other people might.
You wouldn’t, you wouldn’t. Now you understand why you haven’t seen me hanging around my son, because the last thing I need is someone trying to get to me through him. Why would somebody… Because we, as in Kindred, most of the time do not like each other. This level of cooperation is unusual. Yes, well when you work for the Black Baron, it happens. We also, I mean hey, plus side. As long as you don’t do anything stupid, you get to live forever, yay. Yay. (laughing) I’m almost 70. A lady doesn’t speak her age. (laughs) They’re older than me. Jasper, what did you do with Annabelle’s phone. It’s in my pocket. Okay, I know that you hung up, you left it on? Or did you turn it off? I left it on.
Left it on, rings again, it’s your song. Now, smooth this over and don’t tell her, please? And it wasn’t Mark’s dad. I’m not gonna lie to my girlfriend. Girlfriend? Oh right, you haven’t talked to Mark in a year. Great, great, great. Hey sweetie. Hey, hey, I love you. I love you too. I need you, I need you.
I am so yours. Forever?
Forever. Yeah, now what’s going on, are you okay? You sound awful, you sound upset. It’s been a rough night.
Well, come home and talk to me about it. Okay, I’m gonna be out for like a couple more hours maybe. Out, what are you doing? I just…
Fine, don’t tell me. No no no no, it’s okay. Look, just trust me, I may be getting some answers about the thing, okay? Oh wow.
Yeah, wow. Really?
Yeah. Really?
Yeah. Okay, okay I get it, I understand. You do what you have to do, babe. Okay.
I’ll be here. Call me if you need anything, I’ll leave my phone on. I love you.
Just be careful. I need you.
I’m yours. Forever, babe.
Okay, I have to go. Seriously? Have you told Mark about the thing? No. I need you to understand something very, very clearly. The place we’re going, if you repeat in front of them that she knows about a thing, she’s dead. Everyone she knows is dead. Anyone she might have texted is dead. So you’re gonna have to learn from this exact second how to keep a secret. There’s a little show we have to put on, you might call it a sort of masquerade that we all have to live into, that none of this is real. Never in your life did you think this is real. And it has been the entire time. So learn to lie to your girlfriend if you want her to live. Or if you wanna live. That too. Bonus, you get to go out in front of people, just sayin’. There’s a bright side. You don’t look like that, there is an upside. I didn’t always look like this. I haven’t even talked to you. I always looked like this. (laughs)
You always will, too. Hahaha, yeah, great thanks. Eve’s taking the long route into Hollywood and there’s a lot of traffic on Sunset, so she’s gonna go all the way around. Glad you can all joke about this. Well we’ve been this way for a while. Yeah.
We’ve gotten used to it, so, we’re on the way to meet some very important people that literally will decide your fate. So do you have any questions you’d like to put to us before we get there? I know it’s a lot, but here we are. Why am I always hungry and what, where do I start, like what happened, and who are these people, and why do they think that they can be my boss? How did you find me? So you don’t know who, we call it embraced, but you don’t know who your sire is, your creator, your maker. Sire means the person who made you what you are. Yes, you don’t know who that was? What do you remember? What did they look like, what were you doing? I was (sniffs). I was closing up at the coffee shop and there was a I think it was a man, I can’t be sure. I just heard a voice and then I felt so good, but then the rest of the night is like a kaleidoscope and I just remember little snatches of things. And I remember his voice, I remember the smell of, what was it, citrus or pine or something. I just, I’d know it if I’d smell it and then there was a room and there was a young man in the corner. He was young and the voice through the door said that it was a snack. (sobbing) And so I (sobbing) I was so hungry. I don’t remember if anything happened or what, I just remembered there was a high window and I got out of it. (sobbing) And I just ran and all I thought of was home and I went home and Elle was there. And then she (sniffles) she said I was cold. I don’t remember anything else. Annabelle, the tears that you’re crying, you realize with dawning horror, are not tears. Oh my God, what is happening? (sobs)
That’ll happen. Oh my God.
I hand you a handkerchief. (sniffling)
Or that. Now look, so I guess (clears throat) in the most base way I can put this, you’re dead. You died, that’s why you’re cold, that’s why she felt you being cold. That’s why you’re crying blood right now. ‘Cause you don’t have any other fluids in your body. What we are, what all of us are, is hunger, yeah. Five minutes to the Baron, sir. Sweetheart, as a grown ass woman, you need to cry us a river, build a bridge, and get over it now. Otherwise, you’re gonna have to face the Baron like this. You don’t wanna do that. This is not a safe place. Yeah, okay.
Yeah. Okay. Five minutes? For what it’s worth, I personally think we’re the essence of humanity. I think we’re the essence of the passion and the strength and the beauty and the power that makes humans humans, personally. Let me ask you something. Do you kill people? Did we kill that boy in his apartment? No. I’m gonna say I don’t kill people. You, from what you told us, your sire was nicer than mine. He left you something to eat. Mine didn’t. So bonus, but you can go your whole life or unlife without killing a single person, if you’re good at it. You don’t have to, but you will have to live with always being hungry. The only way to not be hungry, at least for a little while, is to kill somebody. It’s the only time you’re not hungry. The final, final beat of the heart is the only thing that fills us for long. We’re there, sir, shall I park? Yes please. So let me tell you as quick as I possibly can, we have our own government, we have our own rulers. The person we’re going to meet is the person that rules this area of Los Angeles. Be as respectful as possible, because if you offend them, you will die and we cannot stop it. How am I supposed to know what offends them? Just keep your mouth shut.
Yeah. Talk to them like they’re a loaded weapon, because they are. And if they ask you a question, answer it but don’t talk to them. Just let them do the talking. Yes. Short as possible, yes and no. Respect.
Don’t look them in the eye. Respect.
Okay. Respect, don’t look them in the eye. You might wanna do a little bit of a bow as well, when you see them? Are you serious? Don’t do that, don’t do that. Follow our leads.
Okay, alright. Okay, okay, okay. She’s gonna die.
She’s so gonna die, and I’m not, okay, Mark’s not gonna forgive me if you die. I want you to know, I’m vouching for you for the sake of my son. He has told me good things about you. Please do not get yourself killed. Did you tell me you had a kid, by the way? No. Okay.
Wow. I guess I didn’t just forget it. Right, yes, we’re ready. We’re ready, we’re ready, we’re ready. Respect.
Yeah, head down. Bow.
Mm-hmm. This seems like a really good place to end the second scene, take a short break. And when we come back, we’ll talk to the Baron. (laughing) Welcome back to our chronicle, LA by Night. Chapter one, Mortal Stakes. If you’re just joining us, you’re watching Vampire the Masquerade, fifth edition. With our vampire cast and in part two of tonight’s episode, the vampires have just arrived at the headquarters of somebody they call the Baron. With a brand new fledgling vampire in unwilling accompaniment. Baron Abrahams, Isaac Abrahams makes his headquarters in the very living, beating heart of Hollywood. His office, you’ve been here before, Hollywood and Highland. Craziest part of town, right next to the Chinese Theater, thousands of tourists out in the street on a Friday night. An absolute riot of sensations, colors, sounds, scents. It’s almost overwhelming in that scent. The warm, delicious scent of fresh blood just waiting under the skin. Yours for the taking, if the beast has it’s way. This is where you have to negotiate and navigate your way through the people. Most of them don’t have any idea what you are, except some of them react as though they’ve seen you before maybe, the two of you, look a little glamorous. But here in the heart of Hollywood, everybody’s famous for a few minutes. Nobody’s really sure if you are who you look like or if maybe you’re one of those people who are dressed up and are making a few dollars on the side by impersonating Victor Timple or maybe a famous movie star or a fashion model. So no one interrupts you as you make your way through the crowd. Jasper, Nelli, and Victor, you’ve all been here before. So you know how to get to the Baron’s office. You know that you have to go to the very top level of the Hollywood and Highland center, you’ve gotta go around the escalator, past that weird statue of the winged thing, no one seems to know exactly what that is, looming over Hollywood. You need to go to a particular elevator, you need to ring the bell twice and twice only. You need to skip the first car and wait for the second. And even though you pushed up twice, it takes you down. Annabelle. This is fine.
(laughing) So we’re probably already being monitored, but we’re just gonna introduce you to the boss. Be cool, and this will be the first day of the rest of your unlife. How long have you been waiting to use that one? And don’t forget to bow. Respect, respect. He will use every thing you can think of. Every joke, every pun, will be used by that man over there, just get used to it. Dad jokes.
Oh wow. I mean, you’re dating his son. Not in here. I like motion towards the camera. Excuse me, I have to make a note. What could possibly go wrong?
Secrets, secrets. So the elevator stops, opens and you find yourself in a long, vacant corridor. Two men, mortals. You’ve seen them before, greet you. They’re wearing dark tracksuits, and they have rather vacant expressions on their faces. They nod to you respectfully, and indicate that you should follow them. Victor, is Eve still with the car, or did you tell her to go someplace else? Historically, is she accustomed to accompanying us, or is she accustomed to waiting with the vehicle? She’s accustomed to following her employer’s instructions. Then I would ask her to wait with the car. Wait with the car. Yeah, Eve is with the car, I don’t need any more people hearing more things tonight than they already have. Okay, two security guards lead you down the corridor. At the very, very end is a very familiar door. One of the guards opens it and ushers you inside. Annabelle, this place looks like it could be a movie set from the 40s, it is unbelievably historically posh. It has overstuffed leather couches and easy chairs, big potted ferns, palms, a lot of brass, a lot of glass. A lot of lighting designed to make people look their very best, a lot of mirrors. Inside, sitting behind a very large mahogany desk, is what appears to be a middle aged man with strong handsome features, like an old time film star would have, what was considered handsome 50-60 years ago. He stands up from behind the desk, nods at you all. Nelli, great to see you again. Darling, it’s always a pleasure. How are you?
I’m fantastic, how’re you? Top of the pops, top of the pops. Victor, looking hmmm. Hmm?
Yeah, hmm. Hmm.
Hmm. It’s fine.
How are you keeping? As well as can be, sir. Wonderful, wonderful. Jasper.
(growls) Nice to see you too.
Nice to see you. And who do we have here? We have a new visitor to your domain, sir. Bow.
A new visitor to my domain. I’m Annabelle, and I would like some answers. Or that.
Sir. Would you indeed, hmm. Where’d you find her? She was on the campus of Griffith college, she has not breached the masquerade. But she has not been taught our ways. And so we wanted to bring her to introduce you formally and find out how you would like us to proceed with her education. She does not know her sire. She doesn’t know anything. That true, Annabelle? You don’t know the one who made you? No. Annabelle, when did this happen to you? Around, what is it, Friday? I have no idea. Yes, it’s Friday. Nine days ago? I see. You’ve been busy. I expect you’d like some answers. Yeah. Hmm. Well, let’s trade. I’ll answer your questions, if you’ll answer one for me. Okay. What did they tell you about me? That I was supposed to bow to you? (laughing) I see. (laughs) I wasn’t supposed to bow to him, was I? Great, cool, alright. That you are the big boss? That’s pretty much it, I have a lot of questions and I’ve got a lot of not much. Everybody have a seat, make yourselves comfortable. You too, Annabelle. Thanks. My name is Issac Abrahams. I am the Baron of Hollywood. I know how it sounds, but that’s the title we use. Also, seem to have become the Baron of the Valley as well, recently, which I’m really not all that enthused about, but it’s just extra work. We’ll figure that out later. Okay, great. You’ve met my associates. These Kindred have rendered a very effective service to me in the past several times. And in return for their help, I have given them control over Griffith College, where they met you. Control? Hm, it’s their domain. They’re supposed to keep it free of trouble. So you answered my question truthfully, what do you want to know? I guess anything? Why did I, who did this to me? I don’t know, but I intend to find out. What was done to you was wrong. And whoever did it must be found and punished. Even among the movement, the Anarchs, that sort of thing isn’t done. Okay.
Well at least not in my Barony, not now, not with the Inquisition breathing down our necks, there was a time when we embraced rather freely, almost casually. But not any more, it’s too dangerous. So I don’t know. But I’m going to help you find out. Great, okay, I don’t know what embrace, Anarchs, or Inquisition is, but I guess I could probably get a glossary or something later from these people. Okay. We don’t have a textbook or a primer, but we do educate and we’ll get to that in a few minutes. Great, okay. What else do you want to know? How accurate are Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned? We did a lot of research and there was a lot of confusing information and I did wake up half in the sun and it really hurt, but. Annabelle, who is we? We did a lot of research, who is we? Oh, I was just watching movies with friends and stuff. But they don’t know anything like. You wanna lie to him?
Yeah. Are there any candles on the table, by the way? Candles, there are, but they’re not lit. Okay. Do you wanna lie to the Baron? Yeah. Hmm, well how do you wanna do it? Do you wanna be evasive, do you wanna use your natural charm, do you want to? I would like to activate awe. Ahh, I see.
(laughing) Okay.
It’s worked on other students before.
It’s free. There’s no rouse check for you. It might work. (laughing) You never know. I’m gonna roll for the Baron. And you’re going to build your pool. Make sure to add your hunger die. We’ll see you later, Erica. (laughing) This is fine. (growling) Ready?
(clattering) Okay, so it’s gonna be?
Charisma plus presence. Charisma.
Plus presence. Oh.
And whatever your blood is. Charisma plus…
Hunger, rather, sorry. Hunger
Presence, kay. Ready, gotta have the hunger die. Yeah. (clatter) (exhales)
Six. Oh my God. I’m going to use a willpower. Gonna spend a willpower point, you can reroll up to three normal dice, not the hunger die. (clatter) Four.
(exhales) So close, so close. Well, we’ll come back to that, later. In the meantime, I need to make a phonecall. Why don’t you talk amongst yourselves and explain a few things about our condition to your new friend, after all, you’re going to be in charge of her education for the foreseeable future. (sputtering)
Excuse me. I’ll be back after I’ve made my phonecall. (laughing)
He turns around and exits the beautiful room through another door. Okay.
Okay, first off. No. Respect.
Respect. I don’t owe him or you guys anything. I don’t know you. Like this happened to me and nobody’s giving me answers. I’m gonna kill her. And it seems to have this whole political system that I don’t understand. You seem reasonable, like what am I supposed to do? Why do you follow their orders? Why do I follow who? His orders?
Yeah. I follow his orders because if I don’t, I get left in that sun that hurts so much. That’s why I follow his orders. I work with them because if I don’t, I get introduced to the dawn. I do a lot of things so I get to keep living. Why do you accept that? You don’t have to accept it. Would you like to do the alternative? We can show you right now. And speaking as someone that has been feeding, I think you understand the need for self preservation that flows through all of us. So if you want to preserve yourself, get it together.
Okay, alright. It’s a game that we all play. So that we get to keep doing this. Talking, living, walking. Seeing our loved ones? From afar.
Well some of us. From afar. I told you if they find out, if any one were to know anything, that person’s life would be forfeit. Therefore it is important that none of us ever tell anyone anything. The baron returns through the door he exited from a few moments ago. Sorry, I had to take that call. Where were we? Business is business, business first. The films, I love films. I was in the ‘biz you know. Still am in a way, but more indirectly now. Speaking of which, I’ve got a proposal for you later, a new property I think you might be interested in. Absolutely.
These investors, but we’ll cover that.
Yes sir. In the meantime, you have arrived on the scene at a rather awkward time for Los Angeles. As I’m sure your new friends will be happy to tell you later, this city was once controlled by our faction, Anarchs, and a good name for us too. The movement goes back hundreds of years. To the 15th century, actually and no, I’m not that old. You don’t look it. Thank you. Times are difficult and the Camarilla, another faction of vampires, a sect, if you will, has decided that it would like to take back what it lost. Back in the 40s. I just got off the phone with Therese down in Santa Monica, there’s some disturbance, I don’t know. She said there was a wild animal, a cougar or something running around at the docks. I’m gonna loan her some people to check it out. Things are a mess, nobody’s heard from McNeil in forever, Rodriguez is just sitting downtown, refusing to get involved, even as the jackbooted thugs of the Camarilla breathe down our necks. (sighs) Is there anyone you would like us to motivate? Well, I would like some answers, what I’m hearing is that Vanavar Thomas has left his seat in San Francisco and has set his sights on this city. Including my Hollywood. And that he’s brought his whole court with him. The word is they’ve abandoned San Francisco. Have we retaken it? They haven’t abandoned it to us. No one seems to know what’s going on. (groans) In the meantime, we can’t afford to have strays. But until we know who committed this act, I’d like you to stick around. That’s very gracious of you. Yes it is, I don’t have to. But I think that we’d all be intrigued to know just who you really belong to. So, my friends, meet your new pupil. You have the rare privilege of being her teachers. Her educators. Her saviors, because if she learns, everybody’s happy, including me. If she doesn’t, I guarantee you nobody will be happy, in particular, me. So I’d like you to take her to see the witch. (inhales) By the intake of breath, I take that that’s not… Clan Tremere, they’ll explain. Mm-hmm. Okay.
Totally fine. I’ve made arrangements, Griffith Observatory. Tonight. Now.
Soon. Do you object? It should be outstanding. Yes.
You object. No, I do not object, sir. Not at all, I just. That would surprise me. No.
Victor, Victor. Don’t worry. Sir.
I’ve asked her just to find out a few things about our friend, Annabelle. She has no reason to be curious about you, does she? No sir, I just like to keep things calm and smooth. Calm and smooth.
Calm and smooth. (chuckling)
Calm and smooth. Yeah.
Yes sir. Before we say goodnight, Annabelle, is there anything else you’d like to know. I don’t generally answer a lot of questions like this, but I’m feeling particularly generous. (sighs) How do I go back? What do you mean, back to campus? (chuckles) No. Oh, she’s so young, she’s so young. (laughing)
Let her speak. Nelli. Let her speak. Go back? How do I go back to being human? Hm. That is a question that many of us have asked over the decades. I’m very sorry to tell you that you can’t. At least there is no method that is proven. One hears things, rumors. There is something called Gallcanda, I don’t know much about it, but some Kindred believe that if you can reach that mythological state, there is a way back. You’ll have to ask other kindred who are better educated in that particular philosophy. Okay. I’ve heard it said that some Kindred who manage to slay their sires quickly enough can sometimes find the way back. Even more incentive for you to cooperate. Okay, I’m not feeling generous any more. So.
Sir. Good luck, and report in before sunrise. I wanna know how it goes. Yes sir.
Will do. Thank you.
Okay, goodnight. Enjoy your evening. You are left to find your own way out. I’m assuming you leave?
Oh yes. (laughter)
Not sticking around? Back to the car, yeah.
You sure? Put on unseen presence, maybe hang out in the Baron’s closet?
No, we’re gonna get to getting.
Byee. I like living.
Yeah. Ish.
Yeah, unliving, yeah. No, I don’t even say anything like on the way back to the car. (laughing) Just go?
Mm-hmm. Back out into the Hollywood night. September’s still warm, the night is almost sultry. It feels good on your undead, cold skin. There’s that scent again, all the thousands of people and all the riot of color and sound pressing up against you as you make your way out of the elevator and back to the parking garage where Eve is waiting. Although, as we’re moving through the crowd, I do lean over to you and I say, it’s not so terrible once you find your place in it. You just have to learn the way it works. Don’t you miss Mark? I see Mark all the time. What are you talking about, he says he hasn’t seen you for a year. Yeah he says that. Oh my God. Oh my God, you did the, oh my God. (laughing)
(groaning) Do I need to do it to you? Can you? That wasn’t like a, I’m curious. Can you actually? How do you know I haven’t already? Oh my God. Yeah, get in the car, thanks. (laughs)
Jasper. Four dice. (laughing)
Clued you out. Get out of my way.
Literally. What could go wrong?
Right. What am I doing? There, six dice.
(laughing) Gonna make a smoke bomb. One success again.
(laughs) Five times in a row, okay. Okay, you’re solid, duly noted. Fates are smiling upon you. I don’t know if I would go that far, but we’ll see. At least on someone, over here, it’s like. It’s true. Any stops between elevator and the SUV? Not for me, there’s not. No, he said go see the witch, we’re gonna go see the witch. Okay, no worries. So Eve is waiting for you. Sir.
Yeah, Griffith Observatory. Sir. Would Eve know, would we have been there before together? Probably at least once. I’d give her the address I don’t explain it any more. She looks it up on the GPS. She looks in the rearview mirror at all of you, her eyes linger on Annabelle, she shrugs, she sighs. And you realize she’s breathing. She’s not Kindred. She puts the car in gear and drives. Slow getting out of Hollywood and Highland, lot of traffic. So that, all that there was not awful, so you’re still alive, great. Yeah, it went rather well. (groans)
Don’t use the word we again. At all, ever. Yeah that was, mm-hmm.
Okay, yeah. Yeah, he definitely caught that, hm? Yeah.
Yeah. 100%, so this whole witch thing we’re going to go do is because of that we. You tell her. Who’s the witch? Okay look, there’s a reason I look like this and they look like that. Well there are several reasons. I still think you’re beautiful, man. Thanks.
The veins works. Now in Kindred society, there are what we call clans. Okay. These are vampires, not vampires, I’m sorry. You’ve got me saying it now.
I know, right? It just rolls off the tongue. It’s like, think of us as bloodlines. Yes.
Okay. Different things.
So like different teams? A little bit, yeah, but not. Each clan isn’t necessarily on it’s same team, they don’t all work together, but different abilities. Things like that, different looks. I am, for better or worse, what’s called a Nosferatu. I know what that is. No it’s not.
You do not, you do not. No, you don’t. Oh. There is a reason he’s called that. (clatter)
As the SUV turns northward and begins to head toward Griffith Park, Eve clears her throat. Sir, I think we’re being followed. Should I lose them? Attempt to, yes, casually though. We don’t need to have to bribe any cops tonight. Lose them casually, sir? Ideally yes.
Bribe cops? The car accelerates, not fast enough to lurch you out of your seats, but she definitely speeds up and begins making faster turns. Nelli, would you do me a favor, would you roll five normal dice, please and tell me what you get. The unfortunate part about your situation is this, we don’t know what clan you belong to. Because even though each clan has its own abilities, they aren’t necessarily all the same. Okay, well I can run pretty faster, I can I’ve got the balance, I can I’m a little more charming than normal, I was actually pretty charming when I was alive, too. You’ve basically described a cat. Or just a very gifted human being. So we don’t know.
Or any of us. Nelli, five dice again, please. Another hairpin turn, faster this time. No no please, you continue, oh oh oh. This person we’re going to see, she’s called a witch. So three criticals, so one pair counts as a critical success so that’s four five. So it’s a total of five, right? Five successes, nice, nice. So Kindred are real.
Yes. Witchcraft is real. Well, in a way, it’s just something that these particular ones can do. It’s kind of.
Sorcery. Is that the word you all use, sorcery? There’s a book with the boy.
Harry Potter? Is it like, is it really, oh my God oh my God. It’s not.
Here’s what you need to understand, all of the movies. Look at me, look at me, I’m gonna tell you something important.
Just let me have this. Don’t dad out.
(laughing) Don’t dad out.
Don’t, don’t. Hey you told us you were a dad. I didn’t, she did, okay? So we, the movies, we make the movies. We own Hollywood, we tell a half of a half of an eighth of our stories just to sprinkle a little bit in the consciousness. Oh God, so vampire movies are propaganda. It’s a cover up.
More of a misdirection. The masquerade that we talked about. So that when you tell someone I saw a Nosferatu, they’ll say. And before she turns and looks at me, I’m gone. Just with cloak of shadows.
Yeah. You gonna be unmoving in the car? Yeah, I just sit. He was there a moment ago. Magic. People will think you’re crazy. Okay, oh my God. Sir, I think we’ve lost them. Excellent, excellent work, just keep an eye out, just in case, maybe still take the long way to Griffith. Yes sir.
Just in case. So would you like to explain where it is that we’re going, what’s happening? Well we are going to Griffith Park to see another clan that has an air of mystery about them, no? They’re known as the Tremere. Tremere, okay. They dabble in magic, much like that movie that you seem to think that you know all about, except that they use something very vital to our kinds of people. Any guesses what you think they use? Just tapped his artery, so I’m assuming it’s blood. How much? Depends on what they’re doing. Okay, alright. Macbeth, remember the Macbeth? Double, double, toil, and trouble? Yes.
That, think that, that. Okay great.
Not Harry Potter. You have to excuse me while I make another note. Yeah, okay. That’s gonna go well.
(laughing) Okay. They’re not that, anyways. I just need to parse this in whatever way that I can. The SUV begins the steep incline into Griffith Park. Normally the park would be closed at this time of night, but somebody must have known you were coming, because the gate is open and Eve drives right on through and up into the dark, dark hills above Hollywood. What a coincidence. Yeah, that’s not at all suspicious, right? Well they knew we were coming. ‘Kay. It’s fine, it’s fine. A few moments later, you’ve reached your destination. So Annabelle, again, you’re smart, you’re tough. That’s all well and good, do not lie again. There are some of us that can see through you. You just said that I have to lie about… To people, to mortals, yes. Not to each other. We’ll figure it out. Yeah.
Okay. And there’s a difference between lying and just not mentioning your girlfriend. ‘Kay. They have ways of tracking, you know. Yeah. Some of the old ones say they’re all watching us through our cellphones, I don’t believe that, though. I don’t think that’s a thing. But still, you should just assume you’re being listened to all the time. That’s just it.
You really don’t need just a cellphone.
No, right, yeah. I’m sure there’s some dude at Virginia or something, it’s fine, it’s fine. I mean, mine’s fine. (laughing) Griffith Park Observatory. (laughing)
Griffith Park Observatory. Beautiful art deco building overlooking Los Angeles up in Griffith Park. Which is a vast expanse of trees, grass, boulders, steep ravines, hills. It’s the closest thing to wilderness that Los Angeles gets. They even say that there are cougars roaming through the park. The building is dimly lit. At this time of night, it’s closed and yours is the only vehicle in the parking lot. Up here, aware from the light pollution, you can actually see the stars. Eve cuts the engine, says we’re here, sir. Actually, leave the lights off, but the engine on. Just in case whoever was on our tail comes back. Yes sir.
But we’ll be inside. She does as you’ve asked her to do. Right, let’s go. ‘Kay. You’re gonna get through this, we’re all gonna get through this. Yeah, this is fine.
Yeah, it’s fine, yeah we’re good, yeah. I’m gonna proceed to where we know the witch is. Everybody out of the car? Yes.
Yes. Nelli? Witch is, sorry, not are. Wits plus auspex, please. (clatter) Hey.
Three successes. Three successes. But two, yeah, the messy critical. Aww, yeah. Did you get a messy crit?
Yeah. Okay. Three total but a messy crit. That’s a thing. As you exit the SUV, shut the door behind you, you see something out of the corner of your eye. Deeper into the park, as you turn to look, you see a white shining gossamer-like shape. Vaguely like a person. Maybe wearing a dress, a long dress, it’s not really quite there though and you find yourself completely absorbed in this apparition. To the point where you forget your friends. Friends.
Your colleagues, your associates and begin to move toward it. She has left the SUV and is walking intently deeper into the park, away from the Observatory. Her stare fixed on something that only she can see. Is that normal? I don’t know what she’s doing. Nelli, Nelli. No.
The figure reaches out a pale limb and beckons, beckons towards you. Follow her, let it happen. I get out and I follow. Still walking. Okay, still walking forward, your arms are outstretched trying to touch it. Nelli, Nelli.
(shushing) It’s over there. You see absolutely nothing. We don’t see anything either, it’s okay. She’s wearing a dress. She is wearing a dress, it’s very difficult to make out the details even with your preternatural sight. But you would say that the dress is long out of fashion. Maybe by a century or more. Is that a thing her clan can do, or is there a ghost? I don’t know what she’s doing. The apparition, at the sound of her voice, the apparition just kinda fades into the night, it comes apart like so many tiny particles of white luminescence and melts into the night air. What happened?
We should go inside. Let’s go inside. You’re being weird, I mean. Excuse me?
I’m sorry. Me, weird? Weird, oh you wanna talk about weird. If you point at me, I swear. (mumbling and crosstalk) Just, let’s okay, inside. I’m just gonna go…
Okay, let’s go, let’s go inside, inside, inside, yeah. Okay.
Inside. So you approach the Observatory. Mm-hmm. Within about 50 yards of the front door, you are intercepted by someone that, three of you, Jasper, Nelli, and Victor, have at least seen, perhaps in the Baron’s office or near there, but have never spoken to. You only know that her name is Eva and that she is a Kindred of the Tremere. Eva is tall, slender, and she has hair that is so blonde it’s almost white under the starlight. She’s extraordinarily pale, like chalk. Like bone. Even her lips are colorless. Her eyes, however, are a deep sapphire blue. And she’s wearing a very long, shapeless dress and a vest that looks like it might have flower appliques on it, you’re not sure. Maybe they’re stitched on, maybe they’re patches, you’re not sure. Little tulips and daisies and roses. Hello. Ava.
Ev-a. Eva.
Mm-hmm. Victor, Nelli, Jasper. And this is Annabelle. The Baron has sent us to speak with you. Yes, yes, he told me what he wanted. You’re Annabelle, I’m Eva. She holds out her hands. Hi. Do you take her hands?
Yeah. They are like ice, they are freezing cold. You might as well have stuck your hands in the freezer, they’re so uncomfortable. She grips your hands tightly though. And she looks at you, intently. I’m very much head on a swivel during this whole thing. I’m like who’s. I’m not, I’m watching very closely. Yes, yes I see, I see. Oh you poor thing. Mm, well. Let’s get this done, shall we? Mm-hmm.
Mm-hmm. Right, right here out here? Well, over there. It’s better under the stars. Please, lead on.
Mm-hmm. Eva leads you away from the parking lot and toward the side of the Observatory building. Do you follow?
Oh, absolutely. Mm-hmm.
Okay. Annabelle, too?
Yeah. Yeah. She leads you to a small grove of palm trees near one of the Observatory wings and it’s just barely illuminated by a splash of pale yellow light from the Observatory dome. It’s no good in there, better out here. So, Annabelle. I’m gonna help you. The Baron and you have questions and this is how we’re going to get answers. It’s not very pleasant, but it’s necessary. I’ll do what needs to be done. I was hoping you would say that. From somewhere, you’re not sure where she was hiding them, she produces two objects. A very small knife and a silver cup. She hands you both. Fill it. Aww man, okay. Do you need help? No, it’s just I guess we don’t need to worry about… Diseases, no.
Okay. Actually we do, but not here like this, no. Okay, sorry.
I assure you, it’s quite sanitary. Great, okay, thank you. Mm-hmm.
Cool. We don’t have all night. Oh, I can do the.
I don’t think that works on them, yeah, yeah, okay sure. Okay, so I open up, I guess, I would know instinctively where I can get a lot of blood from pretty quickly and painlessly? She points at your arm. That’ll do.
Alright. What’s that knife made out of? It’s made out of silver.
I slice. I slice into my arm. The knife isn’t as sharp as it could be, silver doesn’t take an edge, very well. So this hurts.
(grunting) You move the blade along your forearm, and you find that you can will the blood to do as you want, the dark crimson liquid wells out of the wound on your arm and drips into the cup. In a few moments, the cup is full. Okay. Oh that’s not going to work, because you didn’t bite. It only works with biting.
Damn it. These are the kind of things you need to tell me. I tried.
She said do it anyway. Okay, alright. You can just relax, relax. Relax. Look at your arm and imagine the flesh closing and knitting, mending together, do it. She’s never gonna get this. She will. She’s a survivor. Okay. And as you think about the image in your head that she has described, the wound does close. The edges creep forward together, closer and closer and closer until they meet. And in a few moments, the wound is completely gone. But you need to make a rouse check. (chuckles) Yeah, ’cause you just lost some blood, girl. Failure means your hunger increases. That’s a beastial failure. Yeah.
(laughs) So it’s not part of a dice pool, so it’s just a hunger. Okay.
So, your hunger does increase, you were at one, now you’re at two. The act of giving up part of your vitae, your blood and then mending the wound? Tempted the beast and it does claw at your gut. It almost whispers in your ear. Eat. Fuck you. Fuck you, too. (laughing) A beast we are, lest a best we become. Eva takes the cup and the knife. That’s really well done.
Thanks. So. Normally this would take a lot longer, but we’ve perfected a few things. Ready? Sure. She holds the cup up to the night sky, raises it, first to the north, then to the east, then the south, and then the west. With the silver knife, she touches the side of the cup, again, on the cardinal points of the compass. And then she takes her finger and stirs the blood leftward, counterclockwise. Faster and faster and faster and faster. And as she stirs, the blood begins to smoke and burn in the cup.
Hmm. Smells wonderful. As good as mortal blood tastes and smells. It smells like it would taste even better. Soon the blood is all burned away, leaving just a black rime on the inside of the cup. Which Eva scrapes away with her fingers and tastes. Hmm, mm-hmm. Then she looks at Annabelle, okay. Annabelle, of the 13th generation. Child of the Bruja clan.
(exhales) That explains a lot.
And something else. There’s dormant magic here. What? Blood magic has been used upon you since your embrace. I can see it. We’ll help get rid of that. This cup is all we’ll need. Come back and see me in a few nights. Tell the Baron what you need to. Okay. It’s up to us to report this, won’t… I believe those were his instructions. (sighs) Thank you, Eva. Anything we can do to be of use, please don’t hesitate to ask. Is there anything you would like to ask Eva before we go? Victor Timple, I accept the offer of your favor. A boon has been offered and accepted. This all seems like very serious business, what is going on? It is very serious business.
Okay. Eva takes her cup and her knife, turns around and walks back toward the Observatory. Roughly what time is it? That’s when the automobile comes barreling up over the ridge of the hill, gunning it’s motor and heading for you. So what do you wanna do? The one that is not ours? Unseen presence.
Unseen presence. Vanishing, rouse check? I’m hungry. Mm, a little bit more than kin and less than kind. Gone before your eyes, Annabelle? I grab Annabelle and I’m just like, hide. Like push her towards the Observatory. There’s a vehicle coming towards you at high speeds. What’s going on? Just listen to him, Annabelle. There’s no time to talk, it’s going to be upon you. I literally like push her towards the Observatory, like do we have time to try and get to our car? You get to do one thing before it’s upon you. So I asked you each individually what you wanna do. Annabelle, what do you wanna do? I follow his instructions. You follow his instructions. Head towards the Observatory. Head towards the Observatory, Nelli? Following. Following, okay. The three of you are racing as fast as you can go toward the Observatory. Jasper on the other hand is remaining on scene, okay? Yeah. The car doesn’t hit you. Instead, it slams into your SUV. (hisses)
There’s a huge crash, a squeal of brakes, wrecks its own engine block, moves your SUV, I don’t know two dozen yards along the parking lot and you hear Eve scream in pain. Your driver, we’ve gotta go back for her. (shushing) You’re booking it toward the Observatory? (affirming crosstalk)
I’m still standing right where I was.
Right. I moved out of the way of the car, but I’m watching.
Standing still. Okay, you’ve reached the doors of the Observatory. No one’s gotten out of the vehicle yet, what do you do when you get there? She’s not like us, she’s not gonna be okay. I will go look, just.
You’re standing, whispering at the door of the Observatory? No, pushing through, past.
Open the door, yeah. Opening up the door?
Yeah. It’s unlocked, it shouldn’t be, but it is. Right. And you’re entering?
Yes. Okay. Try and find a window though. Oh, to look out, okay I understand. So this is the entrance of the Observatory, correct? So giant swinging pendulum is happening there? Great, so we’re gonna veer off to the left side, because there’s some more museum type things that way. There’s the Tesla coil there. Yes. Meanwhile, out in the parking lot, two doors open. One in the front and one in the back. The driver of the car is a squat, misshapen individual. Long arms, really long arms. Unnatural silhouette in the night sky. The individual emerging from the backseat is tall and athletic. But you can’t tell in the dark who they are, really what they look like, they’re just shapes, just shadows. The tall one that got out of the backseat says, she dead? And the misshapen, squat figure said, I dunno, I’ll go check. Goes around to the front of the SUV, I can’t tell, hold on. There’s a sound of rending metal as he rips the driver side door off it’s hinges and discards it behind him. Like a hubcap or a Frisbee, like it weighs nothing. You still watching? I’m still watching.
Okay. It’s really hard to see from the lighted interior of the Observatory out into the parking lot, you can see the vehicles, you can see that there are shapes moving around and the streetlights, but you’re not getting a lot of detail. Something big and metallic just went flying across the parking lot and lands with a crash. We’ve gotta go back out there. No, we will not do such a thing. We will sit here and we will wait. No, she’s right. Back out in the parking lot. We have to go back out.
You hear Eve shout. And there are several gunshots. (gasps)
(sighs) Now, that’s our cue. The muzzle flash comes from inside the SUV, Eve is shooting.
Okay. Eve is shooting.
Okay. I take off and I run back towards the SUV. You’re headed out?
Yes. I’m gonna go out, too.
Racing out? Yes.
Yes. Sauntering. Sauntering, a little bit more slowly, taking stock of the situation. Yeah, yeah.
Laying back in reserve. So let me know when I get close enough to jump, ‘Cause I actually wanna jump to land in between Eve and the one that is trying to hurt her. Okay. So I’ll like run, run, run, run. You’re gonna race and then jump in? Mm-hmm.
I’m positioning myself behind the tall one. You’re moving around to get into position behind that tall figure. Do you want me to make a stealth check? Please do. My specialty. Now you’ve jinxed it. (laughing) Kind of literally. (laughing) (clattering) I love that sound.
Right? That’s three successes. Three successes, okay. The figure doesn’t turn around, as you get closer, you can start to make out some details. Short dark hair, military style haircut. He’s wearing a longish coat that is too warm for this time of year, really. Jeans or maybe cargo pants, you’re not sure. Boots of some kind, you can’t tell if they’re work boots or Doc Martens, he is clearly ready for action, but he’s paying no attention to you. Is he breathing? Hmm, from behind, through clothing, it’s too warm to see breath in the air, that’s a really tough difficulty and you don’t have any auspex, right? No I do not. Okay, so let’s make it wits and insight.
Wits and insight, got it. Okay. (clatter) That is four successes. Ooh, that’s incredible visual acumen, especially at night in these conditions, amazing. Breathing. You’re an apex predator. Annabelle, racing across the parking lot, not making really any attempt to remain unseen, you’re just moving toward the fight, right? Mm-hmm.
Okay. You’re moving toward the car, where Eve is? Yeah, what can I see, can I see what’s happening? I’m going towards the car.
You’re gonna run behind? Yeah, until I can gauge the jump, yeah. Yeah, I’m moving towards the car. You’re running towards the car, so multiple things happen all at once. You race close enough to see that Eve is crouched inside the car, she’s got her back against the passenger side front door. She’s got a pistol leveled at the shape on the other side. She’s getting ready to fire again. Victor, when you’re within about 20-25 feet, you think you can make it. Okay, ’cause I want to jump so that when I land, I land basically between her and the guy, so he’s got to go through me to get to her. Some pretty precision jumping, soaring leap definitely lets you cover the distance, but if you wanna control the exact spot, I’m gonna need dexterity and athletics. Neither are my thing. (laughs) Unlife is difficult, they say. This is challenging, you need four successes. Nope, I get nothing, no successes. You wanna boost your physical abilities with willpower? No, I can land like nearby, even if I don’t land where I mean to. You make the leap, you land on the hood of the car, looming over the guy and he is misshapen. At first you think he’s a Nosferatu, but maybe not. He’s got super long arms, unnaturally long. But his features are relatively normal even if they’re unattractive, well on the human scale of unattractive. He’s wearing a dark hoodie with the hood down so that you can see his face. And he looks up at you, surprised. Nelli, you have sauntered your way, fashionably, slowly. With my hand in my pocket, I have something in my hand and I’m actually standing out, hopefully near some shrubbery and maybe potentially looking for a spider of some sort. A small arachnid. As you’re looking around, you’re the only one who has the vantage point to take notice of something that nobody else has seen yet. Wits and awareness, please. That’s a thing. (humming) two, three. (laughs) That’s not a lot, guys. I’m sorry. It could be worse.
It could be worse, we could raise the difficulty if you want to. No, two successes, that’s great. Two successes is enough. You can see the glare of headlights just under the lip of the far hill, there’s another car waiting over there. Ooh.
500 yards away. Jasper. You’re in position if you wanna be, what do you wanna do. This is a living person? It’s breathing. I draw my knife, and I reach around and put it to his throat. So you wanna step up and threaten him with the blade up against his throat. And just hold it.
Okay, do you say anything? Can we help you? (laughs) He stiffens, and there’s a sharp intake of breath, you feel his muscles tense as though he’s gonna make a break. Do not move.
The knife presses against his throat and he freezes. Annabelle, you’ve reached the car. What do you wanna do? I yank open the passenger side. Eve scoots out, lands on her feet, still pointing the gun through the SUV, now it’s got both, one door’s torn off, and one is wide open. And she fires three more bullets, loud gunshot reports echo through the night. Do they seem to be effecting the guy in any way? Let’s find out. You can’t tell whether or not she’s hitting him. (clatter) A couple of her shots slam right into him, he staggers back a couple of feet, he doesn’t drop though. You think he should have. Can I tell if he’s breathing or? Do you wanna make an observation? Yes.
In the middle of combat? It’s gonna be super hard, go ahead and what did we say earlier, for Jasper, wits and insight. Wits and insight. Grunts in pain, grimaces, hands clutch his chest, but he doesn’t fall over. Two successes and one beastial, one skull. One skull?
Mm-hmm. But it’s overall a success, right? Overall a success. Okay, so beastial failure if the full roll is a failure, otherwise it’s just another failure. So two successes?
Mm-hmm. You think this guy is alive, too. He’s breathing, he blinks, he’s got some color to his skin. Whatever these guys are, they’re not exactly human, but they’re not vampires either. Eve says thanks, appreciate it. No problem. Reaches into her waistband, pulls out a second pistol and hands it to you.
(sputters) I just yell point and click. (laughing) Okay, Victor, you’re on top of the SUV, your SUV.
Yeah. Which is now smashed to pieces and missing the driver’s side door.
Not okay with. It’s not been a great night for you actually. I also draw my gun and ta-kow. You’re gonna fire point blank at him? Yeah, I’m not gonna say anything to him. Ranged combat, go ahead and fire. While he’s firing away, and Annabelle’s trying to figure out which end of the gun to point, what’s Nelli doing? I’m keeping eyes on that second pair of headlights. Okay, so you’re making sure that? How far is she from me? From you, maybe 10 yards, not so far. Did I find that spider? Make a hunger check. One success. One success.
Mm-hmm. Okay. (clatter) All this guy can do is dodge, ’cause he has no weapon and he is not in combat range. I got a success on that.
One success. Okay. You missed, bullet slams into the asphalt of the parking lot and goes clanging off into the night. You got his attention though. I mean he’s no longer looking at Eve. Nelli, there is a cobweb, a spiderweb, in a rosebush near the Observatory wall as you’re walking out. There’s a big, fat black spider sitting in it. Put my hand out. Do you wanna take it? Oh yes.
Okay. What do you wanna do with it, once you get it? So I’m gonna grab what was in my hand, a vial of blood. Mm-hmm.
Smash the spider and the vial, do the thing, so yes. I’m gonna start scaling some walls. You’re gonna climb the Observatory wall? Oh yeah. She goes straight up it, just like a spider. Like a lizard. It’s really uncanny. Do you plan to fire the gun or? I crawl through the car and launch myself at the guy. Going through the SUV.
Yeah. Nevermind the gun, you’re just gonna use fists? Claw, well, I use the butt of the gun and I slam it into his head. So you’re basically launching yourself like an inhuman missile through it. Yeah.
Okay. Strength plus athletics. Let’s see if you can hit him. Jasper, this guy’s not moving. What do you want with us? Yeah, we were just told to make sure you don’t get out of the park. Ah, how’s that going? Could be better. Two successes? He was so fixated on dodging the bullet, he didn’t even see you coming through the SUV, you rocket through it like an undead missile and slam into him, using the gun as the club. So use the gun as a club.
Driving your fist right into his midsection.
And I try to angle it. (laughing)
That’s not how that works. He groans in pain and sits down, doubled over on the pavement, clutching his stomach, the wind knocked out of him. You’re on top of him.
Yes. You wanna keep using the gun? Yeah, I’m gonna keep hitting on him, I don’t wanna kill him, but I just wanna make him stop. Okay. (quiet crosstalk) Oh man, this is not good, not good at all. No it’s not.
Yeah. Hmm. Can we make a deal? What’s the deal, what do you want? I tell you and you let me go? Sure. Shit.
Let’s do it. Okay, okay. McNeil sent me. McNeil, great, and I slam his head against the car next to us.
Ohhh. Bounce it off, strength plus roll. You’ve got one down, being beaten to a pulp by Annabelle, who is finally working out some of her issues, maybe on this whatever it is.
I don’t intervene. Two successes. Two.
(laughing) He slides bonelessly to the asphalt. Annabelle, it’s a few minutes before you realize he’s not moving.
(scoffs) Did I? He’s still breathing, but he’s badly hurt. Okay. We should go. Yeah. Yeah, I’m sure Eva’s people have already cleared out. Uh huh.
There’s another. Annabelle is no longer, excuse me. I beg your pardon. It’s okay.
Nelli, is no longer on the ground with you, she is on top of the Observatory wall and she’s pointing off in the distance where you can see car headlights glowing from the top of the hill. Have we seen her do that before? I don’t think so. Hm. That’s cool, can I do that? Is their SUV still drivable? ‘Cause they T-boned mine, and totaled it, but does theirs seem functional? Their car, you think, was probably capable of driving out of here. I pick Eve up and put her in the passenger side of their car and I’m like, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. Okay, are they gonna be okay if we leave them here? It doesn’t matter. Just get in the car. I’m jumpin’ down.
Yeah. Okay.
The side of the wall? Yeah.
Okay. Spiderlike, lizardlike? Very spiderlike. When you hop in the car, I’m like. Drive.
(laughing) You’re in the driver’s seat? Yeah, I’ll drive. You’re putting Eve in.
Buckle her in, of course. Annabelle, your hand your palms, the butt of the gun, your sleeves. They’ve got his blood all over them. Jasper what about you. I’m very hungry. How hungry are you? I’m at three right now. You can feel the beast coiling and uncoiling in your gut. It’s painful, it’s hungry, it’s ravenous. You think you can hold on, but you’re not sure. I say we split up once we loose them for a second. Yeah, I mean they can’t follow us both, right? No, as soon as we get down from that windy hill that leads from Griffith Observatory. We haven’t got there yet. I was about to say.
Not out of the parking lot so far. I’m like, we’re all locals, we know there’s only one way out. Once we get there, we’ll do the thing. So Annabelle, do you also get in the SUV? Yeah, yeah.
You climb in also? Once everyone’s in, yeah the engine sputters to life, there’s some instability in the wheel, you think one of the front tires might be rubbing up against some metal, but it’s gonna go. Mm-hmm.
It’s probably not gonna do top speed, and it probably won’t take another hit on the front like that, but it’s drivable.
Okay. So again, to be clear, there’s only kind of the one hill down Griffith Observatory, are they down basically where we’ve got to pass them or were they higher up, watching. Below and pass.
Okay. Okay. I just say put your seatbelts on, ‘cuz we might hit them on the way out. Okay, dad.
Jasper, though. Mm-hmm.
What are you doing? As they begin to drive away. Go. I jump out and shut the door and ffth. Wait, wait, Jasper.
(scoffs) He can take care of himself, he can take care of himself. When he jumps out of the car, I do punch it. I know him.
Just go. You can try to see him if you want to, you have that talent. Yes. I succeeded my hunger check. You succeeded?
Yeah. So I’m good. You’re okay, your hunger has not increased. Wits plus auspex, versus wits plus (dice clatter).
Okay. Two success. Like hopefully he’s gonna deal with that other car, otherwise. (laughing) Three successes. Ohh.
Try as you might, you don’t see him, the night hides him perfectly. What’s your plan? I’m gonna stay here for the moment and watch what happens when they pass. Okay. Did you have anything in your car that might be useful in this instance? Well he’s probably got spare tire, tire iron, maybe a hauling rope or chain. I’m certain we probably would’ve had a couple blood packets, ’cause it’s not our first rodeo, kind of in a cooler in the back. You know, they don’t do you any good. So probably not. You also have my phone. Yeah, he’s got your phone, for sure. Oh yeah, I do. (laughs) He’s got your phone, yeah. For sure. Okay. Yeah, besides like ultra high grade tint, no. It was just a nice ride.
I’m gonna wait and watch for a minute.
I will miss it. Okay, what’s your plan? My plan is to try and get down the hill, but if they try and intercede, I’m gonna try and hit ’em in the door. So I do mean to go around, but if I can’t, maximum damage.
Got it. So make a drive pool here. (laughing) Oh no.
It’s just Dex and drive? Let’s see here.
(laughs) I’m used to having people do this for me. Victor’s not accustomed to driving. No, I don’t. Yeah, dex and drive, so ooh boy. (groans) If you’ve got more hunger dice than you do regular dice for this? I have a die and that one die is a hunger die. So you can roll it and hope for the best. Or you can take a rouse check. I’m going to do that.
and improve your dexterity. I’m gonna summon the blood to improve my dexterity. Alright, make the check. That is a success, so is that? That’s good.
That’s good. You’re good yeah, your hunger stays stable. Add a die. Yep. That is one success. Alright. I’m not awful.
(laughing) It’s not a really very familiar, you don’t have to push the gas quite so hard, and maybe don’t hit the brake quite as often, but you’ve got it. (laughing)
The car’s in motion. Yeah.
I rolled no successes. Ahhh.
You careen down the hill, the driver’s side door scrapes their driver’s side door. There’s a howl of protesting metal, but before they can react, you are past them and rocketing down the drive. Yep.
Okay, you can hear the squeal of brakes up there as they turn around and try to tail you. How far away from me are they? About 100 yards. Okay, so I’ll do that. Okay, so I see them get away. You see them go down the hill and you see the car’s headlights turn, you think they’re gonna try to follow them. Okay. 100 yards, with soaring leap, I can get five meters. Mm-hmm, so almost 30 feet. Yeah, which is not enough to clear that distance right now, so . You could do it three times. Depends on how fast you’re movin’ relative to them. True.
A few leaps and you would cover the distance in under a minute. I’m gonna try and see if I can ff-ff-ff, and get and land on top of their car. Catch ’em comin’ down the hill. (laughs) They’re probably going to be in motion before you can get there, but you can certainly close the distance. Close the distance, even if I can’t, maybe just grab onto the back. No rouse check necessary for soaring, so you don’t risk hunger, so the powerful undead muscles of your legs send you bounding across the asphalt of the parking lot, propelling you horizontally, as you try to essentially leap your way to the enemy vehicle, is that right? That’s right.
Okay. Let’s go with strength and athletics. Strength and athletics. Do you want to increase your chances of success? You’re pretty hungry already. Yeah, I’m not gonna risk that. Well, it’s five times your potence horizontally. Mm-hmm. Yes, so that would be five meters. (clattering and quiet conferring) Two successes. Two successes. Okay, so you clear the distance in under a minute. Anyone who is here to observe would see you leaping almost gazelle like with unusual grace through the night. Pretty interesting sight to see, a Nosferatu leaping like a kangaroo. Yep.
But there’s no denying that it’s effective. You reach the enemy vehicle just as it’s beginning it’s descent the hill. Okay, and I landed next to it or am I still in air when I reach it? You are landing right next to it. Okay. What kind of car is this? It’s an SUV. Okay. Is it one that has a tire on the back of it? Yeah, big spare tire. Yeah, can I grab onto that? You can try.
Okay. This is going to be very difficult. Alright.
Okay. This is strength related, so make it strength and athletics, but I gotta put the difficulty at five, this is super hard. (clattering) You got enough dice, you need five successes. Oh yeah.
Okay. (laughing) I believe in you.
Oh no. Four successes. Four successes. Willpower? So since it’s a failure, but you did get some successes, you can succeed at a cost and I’ll tell you what you can do. And you can decide if you wanna succeed at this cost or if you’d just rather fail, if you think the price is too high.
Alright. Okay. Yeah, you can grab it, no problem. There is almost no way you’re going to be able to hang onto a high speed car chase. Yeah.
At some point, you are going to fall off and take some considerable road rash damage, but you might get all the way down, you might stay on long enough to get a look at who’s in the car, you might get some sense of who they are or where they’re going. So you might be able to gather information that will help you later. I’ll risk it, I’ll take it. You’re gonna take it? I’ll take it.
Okay, alright. So clinging desperately to the tire, as the car speeds down the hill, trying to take the hairpin turns as safely as they can, left, right, left, right. Squeal of brakes and you can hear them behind you as you’re gunning the accelerator on your vehicle, moving down Griffith Park as fast as you possibly can. Mm-hmm. At some point, you’re gonna fall off. Okay. And I’ll have you roll your own damage. Alright.
Okay, so. But while you’re there, you get a decent look at the driver and the passenger. Okay. And in the glow of their dashboard instrumentation panels, you notice that the passenger is a woman and when she smiles, she’s got the longest, prettiest fangs you’ve ever seen. And you would recognize that profile when you see it again.
Okay. And that’s when you fall off and smash into the pavement. Let’s see here. Roll against me four dice. Including blood? Including your blood. (clattering) Your hunger. Mm-hmm. (clatter) Two successes. Oh, you are the luckiest Nosferatu. (laughing) You take two superficial, which is halved, so it’s only one, so. The left side of your face meets the pavement, very very painfully and only some of your undead skin is left on the road. And you tumble to the side into the ditch without taking any further injury. Am I still in the park technically, or am I on the street? You are in the park still. Great, I into the bushes. Okay, so. We’re nearing the end of our story for the night, so let’s go ahead and decide on some closing scene actions so that we know where to pick it up in chapter two. Victor, where are you headed? Eve are you with me enough to be able to call the Baron? She says, I’m fine, I’m fine. They just took me by surprise, I’m sorry, sir. I tried to take him down, but I think they were Servators. I call the Baron, because we were supposed to report back and tell the Baron all of this, like mid-high-speed-chase. (laughs) You’re trying to keep your hands on the wheel, conduct the escape, and call on your cellphone? No, I need Eve to make the call. You want Eve to make the call. Yeah.
Okay. But I will talk, I mean, you can feel free to talk too, but call in, like this is what’s up. Speakerphone.
Yes, speakerphone. Yeah.
Speakerphone. Nelli, what are you doing while this is occurring. I was gonna grab the phone from Eve and dial the Baron. She knows better than to try to resist you and just hands it to you.
Thank you. Mm-hmm.
Appreciate it. Dialing furiously.
Going to make the call? Yes. Annabelle, anything here? What the hell is a broo-ha-ha? (laughing) You’re gonna be alright, you’re gonna make it. Yeah, you’re good, you’re good. (chuckles) Mr. Timple, you hear Baron Abraham’s voice is on the other end of your speakerphone. What’s going on over there? Did I hear when the man told him who had sent them? Mm-mm.
Weren’t anywhere close. Right.
And it was in the middle of a firefight. Sure, I’m like, we were attacked at the Observatory. Attacked, by whom? I think Eva got out clean. They looked like mortals.
Mortals attacked you? Yes, and we have a tail currently that we’re escaping. Hmm.
But we did manage to find out Annabelle’s clan. Uh yes, we do have a baby Bruja on our hands, but sir, would you like us to redirect somewhere else or return to your sanctum? A Bruja, how typical. And she is fairly cliche, yes sir. Be that as it may, no don’t come back here. Lose them and we’ll talk tomorrow night. Yes sir. We should go to Mulholland Drive. (sighs) that’s far from where we are, if we’re leaving Griffith Park. We should try Mulholland Drive. Once we get back into like normal streets, I actually slow it down, like again, I’m not trying to pick up police. Make another drive check.
(hisses) (clatters) That is no successes. No successes at all? Uh, so question about the willpower, I know we’re almost out. Willpower does not come back automatically, I have to do something to regain it, right? Actually, willpower, or at least some of it, depending on circumstances will refresh at the start of the next chapter. Then I’m gonna go ahead and spend that willpower. That seems wise. I need to keep us alive, one success. Well you beat them flat. (laughing) You lose them in the traffic coming out of the park. (laughing) Thank God for that traffic right on Los Feliz. Yep, I’m like, Eve, you’re getting a raise. (laughs) This is a lot harder than I gave you credit for. If I can, quickly. One, I’m heading home.
Home home? Home home. Or college home? Home home. Home home it is. And two, I make a phonecall to the Baron. On your own? On my own. Jasper. Yes.
I thought you were with Victor?
No, we split up. I see. It made more sense than all sticking together in that car chase, so I ducked out. I’m gonna assume they called you already? Yes, we’ve spoken, what do you want? I just want you to know that I have some information they didn’t, and that those men that I’m sure they told you about.
Yes? McNeil sent them. McNeil? That’s what they said. Under coercion. We’ll talk tomorrow night. Thank you, Jasper, I won’t forget it. Goodbye.
Goodbye. This seems like a very opportune place to close the chapter tonight. (sighs)
You manage to get away, and live to fight another night. Yaaay.
So. Congratulations, thank you very much for watching chapter one, Mortal Stakes. A Vampire the Masquerade chronicle, Los Angeles by Night. (clatter)
Join us next week for chapter two, and Jasper’s home. Are we gonna see your logo, ’cause now we know. That’s it, yes. Beautiful, beautiful.
There it is. Thank you all very much.
Thank you. (cheering and clapping) (upbeat jingle)

100 thoughts on “Mortal Stakes | Vampire: The Masquerade – L.A. By Night | Chapter 1

  1. I used to play this like twenty years ago or longer. We played in the back of a comic bookshop. It was the size of a small warehouse. There eould be like 50 plus people per game. It was more like a gothic emo party. I did not even have a character sheet or know how to play the game. I just mainly hung out and talked or started some bullshit until the local vampires woyld kill me. It did not matter. I did not have a character sheet so they could not really kill me. Man, those were the days. I had way more fun than these fakers.

  2. Wouldn't she have gone to the griffith hospital when she first got sired and noticed an unusual craving for blood? And wouldn't the need for blood get around among students? I'm a little confused as to how it took them a whole week to find out about this 'poaching'? Or did I miss something?

  3. Just started watching and I'm already in love with this playthrough. My own Vampire experience is extremely limited, but I've always always wanted to get into the game, and this seems like a great way to at least feel like I'm playing. Plus, the cast is extremely loveable.

  4. New to this form of “dnd”. I’ve watched the normal dnd of mostly 5e. Examples: critical role 1&2, tfs table, and others that I have stop part way through out for reasons. What’s the system of this campaign?

  5. And the best pun/ Dad joke of the series goes to ….Jason Carl lady's and gentleman! (Clapping Hands together and giveing standing ovation)

  6. i know this comment is coming up late but just finally caught wind of this while looking up world of darkness memes and i gota say for chapter one this sounding like a great story line. also got to give some nods first and foremost to the story teller jason carl your detailed story telling was amazing loved every second of it and made me even think back on some of the vtm games i played in the past. second jasper oh my god man you do the nos clan proud from the stealth spying to the comment about your phone being safe love it also the creepy factor you tossed to your own in the game well done good sir well done. with out a doubt i will be watching all there is on this game and maybe check out if there are more that has come out lately.

  7. Ok I'm only about 10 minuets in but is anyone else getting Marty Feldman vibes from Jasper? I think I have already found my favorite character.

  8. Nelli and Victor: bickering about clothing
    Jasper: "Would you two get your shit together please?"

    I already love Jasper as a character and I'm not even an hour in.

  9. 0:45 i just listened to a dramatic reading of 'my immortal' and for a second i thought he said "special fangz" and a piece of my soul died

  10. "Your vampire daddy-" "Ough. That hurt my heart." "What the f#$%'s a brouhaha?" "she is fairly cliché
    , yes sir" Great start to the show. thanks guys.

  11. I really hope this improves because the Camarilla rejecting technology is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

  12. how do i follow jasper on social media, he looks like a genuine vampire, i want to see this man in his natural environment

  13. Yo, I've noticed, that it is some kind of sequel. I was struggling with finding the episodes of the previous story but without success. Could anyone link me the previous seasons?

  14. I think Werewolves have it better than Vampires, at least they get
    to eat "Real Food". I would miss "Chocolate".

  15. This is simply amazing! I am not even mad that it took 10 hours of watching Vampyr's let's play for youtube to recommend me this high quality content.

  16. You know I've been watching and rewatching when I can but I always miss something. Why did annabelle not go to the health center or see a doctor when she first noticed that she had a blood disorder?

  17. I came here just after watching the last Episode which was in Paris in the 18th century – 'Beauty and Decay' Season 3 Episode 6 – and its so nice to see how it all began. Jason Carl smiles and laughs much more than he does now. Everybody does I think. Its definitely interesting:) Thank you!

  18. 56:00 even the physically weakest vampires are still MUCH stronger than an average human, no? Does he really need to use the power of his blood to push against a guy?

  19. the dm is the only one who does not have a great voice, why cant you be more like MATTHEW MERCER!!!!

  20. Jason Carl, 5 minutes into this and I want to play V:TM. 10 minutes in, and I've already crafted a backstory! I'm hooked. Well done, dude!

  21. Rewatching after the season 3 finale … it's so sweet watching their first steps <3 to everyone who just started: KEEP WATCHING – this is the stuff of legends <3

  22. This is my furst d&d- style ANYTHING, and you made it both memorable and highly enjoyable. Ill have to try it for myself. Thank you

  23. I had genuinely always wanted to play this game. Watching this makes me want to even more! I just wish I had the friends to.

  24. Played vampire the masquerade bloodlines. Did not know it was actually a table top rpg pen and paper. This vids really makes me want to play this version of VTM and craft my own story just like in dnd. Definitely interested in vtm from this vids and gonna watch more of it!!!

  25. This is the first time i've seen these videos. This seems like its the middle of a story. What is the first story/ video?

  26. I dont know how i got here but i ended watching the whole thing and i love it. The five of you made this so enjoyable! Jasper i love you

  27. Superb episode, thoroughly enjoyed it! I have seen one or two random episodes, but this one has really sucked me in!

  28. A pleasure to watch: great storytelling, great roleplaying. Story is captivating, the characters likeble and convincing. Bravo.

  29. I've been playing p'n'ps since the 80ies and I must say I don't really understand all the fuzz about let's play videos. Why would I want to watch other people sitting in a studio playing an RPG when all of it is supposed to happen in your head. BUT this show is brilliant, not the video but the podcast of the show. I really suggest you listen to it and let your mind do all the work for you and not your eyes 🙂 It' so much more immersive!

  30. "Are you including the hospital information?"
    Oh man, the hospital is going to have a field day with this massive HIPAA breach.

  31. It's amazing how much of a total face change contacts can make. Even though he is wearing a bit of make-up, its the cloudy eyes that really solidify the monsterous presence about him and it really makes him look almost ethereal and corpse like. It's really cool.

  32. Oh my god, Jasper.. I'm really new and have a bad memory, I don't remember the player's name, but his chracter, I love it. Also, the way he looks is fantastic. Jason is the kind of GM I thought was gonna be boring, but he's pretty cool too. Annabelle's breakdown was well played out, I love when characters are played at the table 😀 I think I might binge the entire thing now lol

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