Dirge of the Dragon
You awaken in your tiny brown brick chamber, within Trinity Cathedral. A burning candle next to gives the room a warm glow. Father Bernard kneels next to your bed, meditating.
Everything looks and feels… different somehow. You are lost in is this incongruence. It is different in look, touch, taste and sound. Everything is amplified. You hear the flickering sputter of the candle, Father Bernard’s nearly imperceptible chanting, voices beyond the wooden doorway. What is wrong with you?
Father Bernard’s reverie is broken and he looks up. He tries to explain, but realizes that you must adjust before being able to take in new information.
“You are one of US, now. A true member of the Brotherhood of the Damned.”
Over the next day, he explains that before you could perish, he changed you so that you would be able to survive the attack of the drunken misfits who invaded the chapel:
“… I understand your question, child. The change is a miracle of sorts, but also a curse. Know this: You are now one of the creatures of the night. To dwell in daylight means death. You have been marked a devil with a dark destiny: to consume the blood of the living as a vampire.”
He offers you a heated decanter filled with warm liquid. As you drink deeply from it, you feel a resurgence in your limbs, and a strange warmth come over you.
“I must take you to Lord Rod. Before he finds out through other means what I have done.”
You are taken across the city into a home that appears to be a small fortress, butressed by gargoyles looking down on you. Welcomed by a doorman, you find a new world beneath the mansions dark recesses. An opulant palace where you meet Lord Raden, the Prince of the Boston. As one of the Kindred, you are now one of his subjects and must abide by his will.
Distracted by your new senses, you are barely able to focus, but Father Bernard is with you, answering the questions set to you.
All is well, though, as Father Bernard explains: “Fortune is ours, lad. You have been accepted. Not all are. I have had to pay a cost though… but I do not regret it. I am responsible for you now though. See that my faith is well-placed in you.”
You are taken back to the cathedral. There, through a ceremony called the anointing, you are inducted into the Lancea Sanctum as one of the sanctified.
In private, Brother Bernard speaks of consuming sins as one consumes blood. You learn that the blood is not always equal among the Kindred, and that powers differ amongst them. Coming from his blood, you have abilities others do not. He vows you to secrecy concerning the Order of Sin Eaters, and recommends you not reveal your powers lightly.
Over the next 3 months, you learn that Brother Bernard, though a low-ranking priest, has special priveleges within the Lancea Sanctum, due to his status as one of the Black Vespers, a coterie of well trained protectors of the church.
He has begun training you to become one of them, many years from now. This involves many rites, vows, training with the blade, the Vespers weapon of choice, as well as self-control.
Octavian takes well to the training, but due to his status, he is kept within the cathedral walls, his access to humans limited, so that he can learn to temper himself by degrees.
After many requests, Father Bernard has relented to let you join him on a special task that has been entrusted to him by Bishop Anthony, the head of the Lancea Sanctum in Boston, and one with much power within the city. Several Kindred have been slain within their territory. His grace would like to see the perpetrator tracked down and captured before Prince Raden learns of it.
As you step out into the rainy streets of Boston for what seems like the first time in ages, you have the opportunity to ask Brother Bernard questions that I may have missed in the introduction. (I have made his first name Wilhelm, with your approval.) Also remember that our story takes place in 2009.
“Father Bernard, I was just curious as to who would be killing these other kindred? And why is it the Lancea Sanctums responsibility to track down this murderer and not the Prince?”
“Also Father, how do we determine when and when not to eat a sin? And the Black Vespers your training me for, what exactly are our duties as one of them?”
As the two vampires walked out to Father Bernard’s ancient brown VW Karmann Ghia, parked on the street just outside Trinity Cathedral, Octavian found himself trying to make sense of the situation. “Father Bernard, I was just curious as to who would be killing these other kindred?”
Father Bernard did not answer the question right away. Patient, Octavian awaited an answer. Father Bernard strapped himself into the little car, adjusting the hand woven black scarf he always wore over his left shoulder. Tavi also did up his seatbelt. With the turn of the key, the automobile grumbled to life. Father Bernard carefully guided the car into the street and began traveling down Washington. He then spoke, “I have tried to protect and to shield you as best I can. But my duties draw me away and I may not always be at hand to assist you. You must become self-reliant. I think you already are more so than you know. So let me speak candidly: These are dark times, Octavian, and Boston is not the safest place to be one of the damned.”
“What do you mean?”, Tavi asked.
Father Bernard made a left turn down another avenue, and replied, “I mean that vampires are not the only predators who stalk the streets at night. Boston is home to powerful witches and mages who control much of the city, to say nothing of spirits, rogue kindred, and demons of all shapes. Luckily, we don’t have a problem with lupines.”
Confused, Tavi asked, “What are lupines?”
“Trouble.”, Father Bernard’s replied vaguely. He continued before Octavian had a chance to speak, “What I’m saying is that we don’t know what killed Corvus. It could be anything that slew him, and we don’t even know if he’s really destroyed. We just have anonymous reports and we have been tasked to investigate.”
Octavian pondered this as the little car meandered amidst the many mid-nineteenth century bowfront apartments. “Why is it the Lancea Sanctums responsibility to track down this murderer and not the Prince?”
Father Bernard chuckled lightly at this last question and smiled. “Indeed.” He elaborated quickly: “We live in a… fluid political landscape, childe. Lord Raden is a fickle prince. He has granted the Lancea Sanctum power in the city, and territory under our regent, Bishop Anthony. Were we to upset Lord Raden, that could change. So the wise bishop does his best to keep our Lord content.”
Taking that in, Tavi listened as the priest continued, “Kindred are not slain lightly. If Corvus is gone, the Prince will want answers. It would be best to have them at hand than suffer his wrath.”
Not knowing exactly how to respond, Tavi redirected the conversation, “Father, how do we determine when and when not to eat a sin?”
“Full of questions today, eh?” Father Bernard asked. Not awaiting an answer, he continued, “When you consume the sins of others, you take everything with it, the guilt, the experience. It overwhelms some, who wallow in their perceived misdeeds. Others become addicted to it, and transformed into the very beings they are trying to heal. It is vital that neither of these fates consume you. You must learn to protect what remains of your humanity. Due to your very nature, you will find enough blood at your hands then to go looking for more. So… in answer to your query, I would recommend that you absorb others sins sparingly.” He pauses before continuing, “As to the rightness of it, that is something only God can answer. As long as your motivations are pure, your intent to bring absolution, then your cause is right.”
Octavian hoped he would know the right moment when it came. Using his dark gifts still caused him pause, even scared him to a degree. Drinking in another’s sins had terrified him, made him think – just for a moment – that he might be going insane. As he thought about it, he realized he had not fed in some time and found a hunger gnawing at him. He suppressed the craving for the time being and focused his thoughts, addressing his superior once again.
“What about the Black Vespers you are training me for?”
The Father’s eyes narrowed, and Octavian realized that he was on dangerous ground. Dauntless, he launched into his question: “What exactly are our duties as one of them?”
Father Bernard speaks sternly. “You are presumptuous. You are not one of their number yet. Nor shall you be for many years to come. I should not have mentioned them to you. You will not speak of them again. Especially not among our brethren. For now, all you need to know is that we do the Bishop’s bidding, just as you do mine as a deacon.”
The priests intensity passed almost immediately, as though the question had not been asked. When he spoke again, it was to announce their arrival. “Here we are.”
Father Bernard parked on street, and the vampires stepped out among more of the five story bowfront apartments common to the area. Unlike much of the South End, this particular tract of buildings did not appear to be in good repair. On the front of the building were blackened marks, evidence that fire of some kind had scorched this area at some point. Broken brick lay scattered on the walk, and the wooden boards covering the opening appeared to have been shattered. What little of them remained lay in pieces with the broken brick. The opening was narrow, with just enough room to squeeze inside.
Within was a blackened husk. Looking about, Octavian noticed burnt papers, the melted remains of a mattress, and broken television. Several of the walls appeared to be smashed. Whether by fire or something else was not known. Tavi remained in the first room, while Father Bernard moved deeper into the place, searching for answers.
I’d like you to roll to examine the area. (I presume that’s what you are doing?) That’s Wits + Investigation. (Looking at your character sheet, you don’t have the Investigation ability. So, you have to go by Wits alone. You have 4 in wits. As this is a mental challenge, without the requisite skill, you get a -3 modifier. So, instead of rolling 4 dice, you just roll 1. Let me know what you get. Also, I love the picture you uploaded. =)
Oh – as always, let me know if you are doing anything else.
Ok, I rolled a 5. I would also like to use my Discipline Auspex.
Okay, a 5 is a failure (Just a heads up) You are ALWAYS looking for an 8 or better. As for Auspex, you always need to be specific. You have two abilities there. I am guessing you are using Heightened senses rather than the Aura Perception? If so, I’d say that’s worth a +1 as it will let you notice things easier. So, roll one more die and give me that.
I rolled a 7.
Octavian looked around the trashed place. A fight of some sort had obviously occurred, as evidenced by broken plates on the other side of the kitchen, turned over desks and shelves, papers scattered all over, broken locks and smashed doorway locks. The trail ended in a ruddy little white bathroom with a single pull light and a bare light bulb. Tavi stepped inside just as he pulled the semi-transparent shower curtain aside. A body lay in the tub, it’s head decapitated. A bloodline ring remained in the tub, although no water was present. The body was lifeless, bloodless.
Father Bernard rubbed a finger to the tell-tale blood, then to his lips. He spat it back out. “Too old.” He watches as the priest searched the naked body of the slain vampire. Nothing was evident other than the carnage.
Octavian’s blood surged as he heightened his senses, looking for any clue. They were after the proverbial matchbook, but it didn’t look like it would be that easy.
The only thing Tavi’s heightened senses picked up was the random whistled tune of a passing citizen outside – that suddenly stopped as a figure dropped inside like a careless panther, clad in black. Tavi only had a moments glance: longcoat, fedora, black mask like a stain of oil. He felt the rise of terror that confronted him every time he saw another of the undead. Then the beast was on him.
They smashed through a wall, the powerful things hands around his neck. Tavi had no weapons. His blood pulsed as he put everything he had into throwing his attacker off. No use. It held him like a struggling infant.
A blade flew through the air, followed by a second. The first embedded itself in the dark figure’s shoulder. The second somewhere in it’s neck. It choked blood, which spewed onto Tavi’s face. In a flash, it was gone, fleeing the way it had come.
They gave chase, but whatever it was was gone.
“We’re going to need more men.” the Father said, looking back at Octavian, who was still recovering from the attack.
What are you doing? Oh, I forgot. While you were pinned by the figure in black, it spoke in a threatening, gleeful voice saying, “Welcome to my humble home.” You were scared shitless.
“Father Bernard, our attacker said this was his home, maybe if we kept somebody on watch we could gather more information on this suspect? Also, how could he have lured a kindred here? The way he spoke to me filled me with dread, as if he were from the Malkavian clan, did you notice anything that would give us anymore information Father?” I’m also going to check the kindred corpse for any kind of identification. Wallet, I.D, Phone, Misc. pocket items.
Cool name drop for Malkavians, but that’s Masquerade, not Requiem. There’s no Malkavian clan in Requiem. We’ll just omit that little bit. =)
The two vampiric clerics watched as the black figure disappeared down the street.
Octavian spoke. “Father Bernard, our attacker said this was his home, maybe if we kept somebody on watch we could gather more information on this suspect?”
The elder vampire nodded his assent. “Good thinking. It’s unlikely he’ll return – but maybe there is something back there he might want to come back for.” He flipped open his ancient silver Nokia and called the cathedral, asking for backup.
Once he’d finished the call, Tavi had more questions. “How could he have lured a kindred here?”
Father Bernard grimaced, and said, “You seemed to be rather self-absorbed on our way here. You weren’t paying attention. This was Brother Corvus’ haven. He has not joined us for mass for many nights, and rumors indicated that he may have been destroyed. We were just sent to confirm it. If this Kindred was using Corvus’ haven as his own, he’ll have to find a new one.”
Tavi was still shaken. “The way he spoke to me… filled me with dread.”
The elder vampire thought at this a moment. “… The living nightmare.”
“What?” Tavi asked, perplexed.
“The living nightmare. It’s a discipline commonly possessed by the Nosferatu.”
Octavian didn’t know the word, so Father Bernard elaborated. “The Nosferatu are another clan of vampires. Just as we are both turned under the Mekhet line, so there are other vampiric lineages. The Nosferatu are known for their terror, overpowering strength… and grotesque features.”
Octavian suddenly came to a realization. “… He was wearing a black mask…”
“Yes. To cover his face – likely to hide his abnormalities.”
“Did you notice anything else that would give us anymore information Father? Did you find any identification, like a wallet, or cell phone back inside?” Octavian asked.
Father Bernard shook his head. “No, the body was naked, so there was no…” He suddenly looked up, his eyes realizing. “He must have taken Corvus’ things. His money, his ID, and we can only hope…”
“… His cell phone?” Octavian finished.
“Come lad. Locating a cell phone isn’t hard if you know the right people, but it does mean we have to call in a favor.”
The two hopped in the priests Volkswagen and sped off into the darkening night.
Good idea to bring up the personal items! Even though they weren’t there, it led you in the right direction.
The church was not happy to learn of Corvus’ fate. He had filled a position of importance in the Lancea Sanctum, serving as the order’s Archivist, a position that would now need to be filled. It was said that Saint Dhurban, Captain of the Vespers, had raged in his quarters for an hour before he emerged again, the mask of impenetrable calm once again in place. It was he that gave the approval to contact Corvus’ cellular provider, and he that had sent Father Bernard and the newly anointed Deacon, Octavian Reid to ascertain the whereabouts of his killer.
There, they met with a Janice Arnett, who was honestly troubled to learn of the suicidal Jonah Welkins, a fictional character Father Bernad had told her of, and had asked her to help them track him down, as a favor, before anything horrible happened. It didn’t even take five minutes.
The cell phone was in use. Though Janice could not tell them the phone number he was calling, she did give them its whereabouts: Just outside a lounge downtown, called Moodswing.
After reporting their findings to Dhurban, he promised to send help. The priestly pair then exited the building, entered the priests car and drove off.
Anything you want to do before you get there?
I’m guessing my character has a dagger or two? If not I would like to ask Father Bernard if i’m allowed to carry one.
“Father Wilhelm, Maybe if we ask people at this Moodswing place if they have seen anybody with a black mask on, we might be able to get more information. I’ve always been able to tell when people are lying to me at our church, if I catch them in a lie, we keep an eye on them and work from there”
Yes, you have two daggers: One is a standard dagger, about 10 inches in length, the other is covert, hidden as a crucifix with a very narrow blade, only 6 inches in length.
The two priests sat in the car, watching the front of the high-class lounge, Mood Swing. It was a busy night, filled with traffic. It was dark enough that any of the people moving freely in and out of the club could be the one they were after. Octavian looked at Father Bernard. The elder vampire had just finished explaining how Prince Raden was very liberal with his rewards for bringing in new vampires. Since this particular monster would surely be destroyed by their liege, the bearded vampire had little doubt that justice would be done. They had to bring him in alive though. The punishment was for the Prince to determine. Octavian knew one thing: blood would flow this night.
“Father Wilhelm, Maybe if we ask people if they have seen anybody with a black mask on, we might be able to get more information. I’ve always been able to tell when people are lying to me at our church, if I catch them in a lie, we keep an eye on them and work from there.”
The priest thought about it. It was a simple, but effective plan, and their very presence may flush out their quarry. He nodded his agreement. “Very well. I’ll let you take the lead. I want to keep an eye on things.”
With that, Father Wilhelm gestured towards the club across the street, waiting for Octavian to lead the way.
What ya gonna do? Also – give me 5 rolls of Wits + Investigation to see if you can find this guy. That’s not 5 dice total. Each roll should be made from your dice pool, so give me the sets with results, like this:
Roll 1: # # # #
Roll 2: Etc.
“Father Bernard, how can we capture this abomination alive? The strength he proved at the murder scene far surpassed my own.”
(Chris, I was wondering if entering into Torpor from being staked or loss of blood is used in Vampire: The Requiem. Didn’t see anything on the Obsidian Portal site about it.)
I’m going to take off my deacon robes and leave them in the car so I don’t stand out so much. Underneath i’m wearing a white undershirt and khaki pants so hopefully I’ll fit into the crowd.
For my rolls I hope I’m doing this right. My wits is 4 and I don’t have an Investigation skill so I believe I get a -3 modifier correct?
From what I read on the Wiki page, I think this is right.
Roll 1: 8
Roll 2: 5
Roll 3: 8
Roll 4: 6
Roll 5: 2
Also before I enter MoodSwing I’m want to use my discipline Auspex – Aura Perception blood cost is 0. Takes 2 turns to activate. Just to see if any Kindred are in or around the lounge.
Yes, Tavi has been learning about his new nature of the course of the last few months, including supposed vampire ‘mythology’. Father Bernard would have explained that a stake to the heart will cause a vampire to enter torpor until the stake is removed. Back to the story…
Octavian shirked off the black robes of his order, tossing them back into the vehicle. He could see that Father Bernard did not approve, but said nothing. Underneath, he wore a loose fitting white shirt and khaki pants.
As they crossed the street together, he turned to his mentor. “Father, how can we capture this abomination alive? His strength far surpassed my own.”
Father Bernard did not appear phased. “With faith.” Octavian’s nerves tensed until the elder vampire added, “That, and we aren’t alone.”
Having just gained the far side of the busy street, Octavian looked about, searching for others of their order. He didn’t see anyone, but then noticed a black sedan, parked further down the street, it’s blackened windows completely obscuring the interior. Mostly unadorned, he just caught the glint of the stylized gold cross that was the symbol of the Lancea Sanctum. (Successful notice check.)
Knowing they weren’t alone burgeoned his determination, and he strode toward the entrance confidently, calling on the blood in his veins to enhance his senses. The world around him immediately dimmed. The humans passing on the street subtly glowed around him as he strove to perceive their auras. At the moment, they were moving too quickly for him to catch anything distinct.
(To be played in the background on this part: Music that plays as Octavian enters the lounge )
Octavian entered the club, followed shortly by Father Bernard. Moodswing, despite being a small place, was posh, which made the two of them look out of place. It had dimmed lighting, and cushy-looking couches which lined the walls where people bunched in cliques, drinking the night away. A stage in the center was lit by a cast of blue and violet lights, where a lone violinist stood, backed by a synth crew, where he played an upbeat version of Robert Miles’ Children. The place was packed.
A waitress carrying drinks passed by Octavian. Father Bernard was already moving towards the main bar area on the right, leaving Tavi alone. He surveyed the crowd. With this many people, it would be tough to find a specific individual.
Octavian wasn’t yet skilled in reading auras yet. People’s emotions were so dynamic that their colors pulsed and glowed in ways he couldn’t identify, and took a moment to hone in on any one individual. He knew how to look for a vampire’s aura though: humans auras were bright, and shone with life. The undying didn’t have such vibrant hues. Their nimbus was more pale.
His first subject made him start with surprise. The violinist was one of them. Suspicious at first, he quickly realized that the vampire playing the violin didn’t have the physique of the individual who attacked him previously. Strange that he would be here though. His mind raced for some kind of connection.
Octavian continued to scan the crowd for anyone wearing a mask or a fedora. He couldn’t see anyone like that in his immediate vicinity. He began to walk through the crowd to sift through people more quickly. At the conclusion of the song, amid much applause, the violinist politely bowed, then left the stage, walking away, toward the bar. It appeared that he was collecting his things to leave as a new female musician took to the stage with an acoustic guitar.
Just a heads up: Aura Perception can only be used on a single subject at a time until you grow a little more in power, but its useful to have actively on. What are you doing?
NOTE: This is where we started playing with our first sit-down session.