Here's the first of my Vampire stories. The view taken on the WoD here is my own and may contradict WW-Canon or metaplot. Although the adventure is written for Vampire, it does not contain too many vamps-only story elements and can most likely be modified to work in most systems.
Many of the NPCs in this story belong the a middle ages/renaissance club and use a different name in the club than they do in real life. I thought of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) when I wrote the Middle Ages club -- they do the right kind of fighting.
Stranger in Town
inge and tanja
Place: a Camarilla city of decent size
The Story in ShortThe characters are asked/ordered to find a creature who's probably guilty of breaking the Masquerade (in a wider sense) and disturbing the peace. After some good, old fashioned detective work, maybe aided by some mystical insight, they find the perpetrator -- but that doesn't mean they can fight him...
Background StoryNikos, a 600 year old Tzimisce Autarkis (what the called anarchs before there was an Anarch movement), lives in the city under an assumed identity (Marco, a Brujah Ancilla) and mostly minds his own business. He has a tattoo studio ('Dragon and Phoenix') in a seedy part of town and is known to produce superior work.
One day when he's out hunting he walks into a party a Middle Ages Club is throwing. This reminds him of the Old Times and appeals to his sense of the absurd, so he stays to watch and is invited to join. He borrows an appropiate costume (something outrageously renaissance, flashy colours, ruffles and tight hose, which he doesn't mind, since he used to wear this occasionally in the olden days).
When asked for his name, he introduces himself as 'Antonio', which is a private joke -- he knows an 'Antonio' (a Ventrue) from his early time as a vamp and considers him a pompous social climber. What he does not know is that said Antonio is an archon to the Ventrue justicar by now. This will most likely not effect the story, but can pop up somewhere/sometime else.
He plays his role at the party while sniffing out the guests (he's still hunting), gets in an argument with a person known as 'Sir Geoffry' (on weekdays: Kevin, a software consultant), who is a big fan of the Crusaders and the Knights Templar, both of which Nikos despises. He watches a tourney with wooden swords, flirts some with Lady Eirene of Cloverdale (on weekdays: Tammy, a college student) a sweet and somewhat shy young woman who's very suspectible to flattery.
Tammy's boyfriend Lars Hammerfaust (on weekdays: Brian, a never-do-well) doesn't take well to this, and after some angry words challenges Nikos to a duel. Nikos borrows Kevin's armour, shield and wooden sword, although Kevin warns him that it would be better to back off -- usually, these 'duels' are all in good fun, but Lars is not only a competent fighter, but also known for hitting harder than the rules allow if he thinks he can get away with it.
The 'duel' is a massacre -- the weekend fighter has no chance against a vamp who was a knight and a mean fighter even before he died. Carl, the referee (on weekdays he's also Carl), calls off the fight before someone gets hurt, because Lars refuses to yield although he's clearly outmatched.
Generally content with the evening, Nikos prepares to leave the scene, having decided on Brian for dinner after the party -- more fun than Tammy. But he runs into Brian on his way out (and in front of witnesses) who's mad as a bull and drunk as a lord and waving around a cheap metal sword that's part of his costume. Nikos taunts him some, Brian feints in his direction, stumbles and runs Nikos through.
Nikos looses his temper, goes into Zulo form [Horrid form, Viccissitude 4] and rips Brian apart. Then he disappears into the shadows, leaving a sword with traces of his blood, a ripped renaissance costume and a pair of black jeans and boots.
He is quite angry at his lapse of contol but does not have any Humanity issues.
The InvestigationThe Prince or an Elder in whose good graces the characters want or need to stay asks them to investigate a breach of the Masquerade. It took place last Saturday night in a local high school where 'a bunch of kids were throwing a party'. Obviously, some kind of 'monster' appeared out of nowhere, killed one of the guests messily and disappeared again. The characters should find out what kind of monster it was and stop this kind of thing from happening again. (Optional: They are informed that they can call upon help should they find the perpetrator beyond their power to deal with.)
At the High School the characters find out that the 'party' that took place was hosted by a Middle Ages Club [insert your favorite or least-favorite group here -- I used the SCA] and was 'members only'. The organizer, Ms. Catherine Jones has good connections to the school board, so the club could use the school on that weekend.
Catherine Jones (on weekends: Mistress Caitlin) is a fourtyish woman with a no-nonsense attitude, who's currently at the end of her rope because of what happend, but she tries to stay calm and reasonable. She knows a lot of people in the town/district and is used to dealing with authority. She won't give out personal data without convincing reason, but she has an adress book (the paper variant) with her all the time. She didn't personally see what happened, but can give a good description of 'Antonio'.
The Police/Coroner Reports tell that witnesses said something about a 'monster', and that the boy was ripped apart, seemingly by giant claws. They are in the process of making up a reasonable explanation. (A bear. Or a madman with a chainsaw, or with a sword with a serrated edge.) On the site, a real sword with some blood on it had been found, as well as a ripped costume. Both are evidence and kept by the police.
The Costume is something outrageously renaissance -- tight hose, ruffles and everything. Most males today probably couldn't be persuaded to wear it.
The Sword belonged to the victim. It is a common decoration sword. On the hilt are the victim's fingerprints. The blood is not the victim's.
If the characters try to speak to Tammy, that's going to be difficult -- she's not in the flat she shared with Brian, which is her known address. In fact, she's staying with her best friend, Lizzy, who was at the party, too. (On weekends, she is Imej Jharin, a traveller from the land of the moors.) Lizzy will gladly tell the characters the whole story in colourful detail, but she won't let them talk to Tammy. (In fact, Lizzy's account of the event is far more useful than Tammy's, because she's a good observer and very tough-minded.) Tammy herself is tearful and panicky.
The Witnesses saw what happened rather well, but are reluctant to repeat their stories after the police looked at them as if they were all on drugs:
"We had a party, in medieval costume and playing at being courtiers, and there was this guy -- we thought that someone else had invited him in -- he wore a costume borrowed from Mistress Caitlin, but his behaviour was... just perfect, he was so in character. He said his name was Antonio and that he portrayed someone from 15th century Italy. He talked to Lady Eirene a lot, and then Eirene's boyfriend, Lars, became angry at him and challenged him to a duel -- we do play at having duels with wooden swords, you know. Antonio beat Lars at the duel effortlessly, made a right fool off him. Fought as well as he played. Carl, the referee, nearly had to drag those two apart since Lars started to loose his temper. Later, when we all were packing to leave, Lars appeared, obviously drunk, and attacked Antonio with a sword. It really looked as if he hit, that's what we all thought, he couldn't have missed on such a short distance, and we all freaked, but Antonio obviously wasn't hurt. And than a monster was there and ripped Lars apart."All witnesses emphasize that this is not what normally happens at their parties!
Depending on how competent your group is, you can make the witnesses' description of the monster more or less accurate. Other ways of finding out: Auspex 3, competent Investigation (Sherlock-Holmes-like). Further research shows that the 'monster' is a Zulo-form -- it seems as if the unknown guest at the party was a Tzimisce, and possibly an old one.
Now should be a good time to panic... an old (powerful) Tzimisce loose in a Camarilla city! Good time for some false tracks, too: Maybe the unknown guest was a Sabbat spy? Or something else but equally sininster?
There are several ways, depending on how much magic and/or crossover you want in your campaign, and how difficult you want to make it.
Anyway, the person to whom the evidence/talisman/ritual points, is Marco, a Brujah Individualist Ancilla of 11th or 10th generation. He is irreverent and enjoys Ventrue-baiting, but he never caused any trouble. When he came to the city about 10 years ago, he presented himself to the Prince and was allowed to stay. Most Brujah respect him, although some Iconoclasts consider him a sissy. He has a tattoo studio in a seedy part of town, hangs around with bikers and drives a heavy bike himself. He does not act or behave like you would expect of a Tzimisce.
Proving to the prince that he has been fooled won't be easy... And entering the Tzimisce's lair to gather evidence would be unwise.
A Possible SolutionThe usual solution when I play it is that the characters convince the Prince that something's fishy about Marco and give him enough info to instigate some research of his own. The Prince finds out who 'Marco' really is. He decides that he's rather have this guy as an ally, if possible. He sends the characters to get 'Marco' (one last chance to mess it up!), then has a private talk with him. After that, Marco leaves, and the Prince tells the characters 'good work' but at the same time forbids them any further accusations against Marco.
There isn't a single fight in this story unless the characters start one.
Most of the Middle Ages people know how to use a sword, a knife, a club, a bow or a crossbow reasonably well (2-3 dots) and own several of them, but basically they're 20th century people who'd run/drive away and/or call the police if dangerous things happen.
Nikos is a 6th Generation Tzimisce with good (5+) Auspex and Obfuscate, decent (4) Vicissitude, Fortitude and Animalism and some Spirit Sorcery, plus some other tricks up his sleeve. He's also a very good swordfighter (6). He didn't get 600 years old outside the Camarilla power structure by being careless or stupid.
If Alys is attacked, treat her as having high levels of Dominate and Auspex with some Dementation and Chimestry thrown in the mix. She's also able to do very efficient curses. Her bodyguard is a good fighter and will most likely give her enough time to use her own abilities. She is extremely hard to dominate.
If your characters absolutly want/need a fight, let them run into some thugs while going to Marco's shop, or make Lizzy a shadowy figure with some unsavory types at her heels.
Use this story, change it, play it -- but if you sell it, we'll have Alys curse you!