Friday, February 1, 2013
The Old Haunt
In the 1920s there was a thriving casino in Santa Fina. Built on a hill overlooking the ocean, it provided the well-heeled a place to gamble and drink during the Prohibition era. Local officials rarely enforced the Volstead Act in light of the fact that visitors from the Bay Area injected much-needed money into the local economy. The casino fell on hard times during the Depression and was abandoned during World War II. The grand edifice still remains on city land.
Despite decades of decay, the structure is reasonably intact. Its interior offers glimpses of a gilded era whose crimes—such as simply having a martini—pale in comparison to the horrific events reported on the evening news. Due in part to the rising popularity of ghost hunting shows on television, the casino is occasionally invaded by small groups of amateur videographers. Each pack of urban explorers hopes to capture a video or spirit of a spirit to post on the Internet. This, of course, is terribly frustrating to the pair of Nosferatu who have made the casino’s basement their home.
The eldest of the pair is known to Santa Fina’s Kindred as Barnabus. His childe, Persephone, is his constant companion. Together, the duo forms a very small covenant of the Circle of the Crone. While they spend a great deal of time alone, they are visited on occasion by Barnabus’ ghoul, Sherry Horst.
Barnabus Barnabus doesn’t talk about his life prior to his Embrace. When asked, he will simply reply, “Before the Kiss, I was something else. Now I am this.” “This” is emphasized with a flourish of outstretched arms to accentuate his tall, gaunt frame. As he does so, he’ll cock his head to the side and smile broadly to reveal a mouth crowded with sharp teeth. Perhaps one of the city’s vampires knows Barnabus’ history, but fear would keep him silent. It’s not wise to spread the secrets of a Haunt.
Regardless of his origin, Barnabus was lurking in Santa Fina long before the Prince of San Francisco sent one of his Invictus lackeys to lay claim to the city. Barnabus has played along with the charade, content to let the First Estate pretend that they run things. In fact, Barnabus treats all of the Kindred in the city with equal disdain.
The abandoned casino is a perfect place for Barnabus and his childe, Persephone, to practice Cruac, the mysterious blood magic known to some Kindred. The basement of the building—with its dark chambers and eerie corridors—is secure and quiet. A heavy steel door, locked from the inside, keeps urban explorers out of the stairwell that leads into the bowels of the building. Most visitors assume that the city is responsible for the lack of basement access.
Although the city owns the casino and the land, officials rarely concern themselves with it. It’s out of the way along a narrow, neglected road, so patrol cars might only drive past once a month and that is always during the day. The road is difficult to navigate at night, and no cop wants to waste his time hassling drunk teenagers having sex in the backseat of a car.
Barnabus is careful not to feed upon any humans who explore the casino. On those nights when his sanctuary is invaded, he and his childe will drink from a human captive they maintain in a wretched state. The captive's sanity is shattered, the result of being chained to a wall and fed just enough to stay alive. When the vessel eventually dies, the Nosferatu duo will simply go out and abduct another hitchhiker or runaway.
Barnabus has cordial, yet cool, relations with the other Kindred of the city. He despises the members of the Lancea Sanctum, humors the Invictus and finds the Carthians to be rather dull with their revolutionary views on the Danse Macabre. Nevertheless, he is always polite and will take the time to entertain callers provided they mind their manners.
Barnabus would like to see the covenant increase in size, so his amenability to visitors stems from his desire to recruit. However, his door is always closed to the Lancea Sanctum. Whenever he meets a member of that covenant, he will say things like, “I see that no one has yet nailed you to a cross like your beloved martyr. Pity.”
When life became unbearable, Rebecca Cline went to the cliffs near the old casino looking for death. It was dark and as Rebecca stared at the jagged, moonlit rocks a hundred feet below, tears streamed down her face. Rebecca’s pain was unimaginable and she dearly wanted it to end. As she stepped off the ledge and into space, she was suddenly jerked back to land. Before she knew what was happening, Barnabus drained her, cut his wrist, and poured his Vitae into Rebecca’s mouth. A childe was born.
In life Rebecca never believed in Heaven nor Hell. She certainly had no idea that vampires really existed. In the first few months after her Embrace, she struggled to accept what she had become and why. Persephone had no idea if she was in Hell or if she had gone mad and was living in a catatonic state. Perhaps everything she saw was her imagination?
This confusion was compounded by the fact she spent so much time alone with Barnabus in the basement of the casino. She listened to him endlessly recite Cruac rituals and slowly felt her soul slip away. She was even given a new name—Persephone. Barnabus explained that he was not unlike Hades who had abducted a lovely woman to be at his side in the Underworld.
In those days Barnabus urged Persephone to let the Beast take control. There is no confusion or identity crisis when the Beast takes the reins. He wanted her to experience the single-minded determination to feed. When Persephone finally succumbed to Wassail, things became much easier for her.
In the three years that have followed, she is starting to understand that through the mastery of Blood Magic, she can transcend the echoes of her human pain and the limitations of the Kindred. Like Barnabus, she is disciplined and never lets herself get so hungry that she loses control. There is no longer any need to binge when feeding. Persephone has learned a more deliberate, philosophical approach to the harvest and use of Vitae.
Because of a deep devotion to improving her mastery of Cruac, Persephone is rather hard for other Kindred to be around. She cares little for social niceties, Kindred politics or petty dramas. She craves secret lore and little else. This intensity alienates Persephone from the other vampires in the city and some, especially the Lancea Sanctum, wonder if she isn’t some kind of mad dog that may have to be put down.
Of course, any such action would invoke the wrath of Barnabus. The aged Haunt is quite fond of his protégé, elated that his childe has moved beyond her petty human neurosis and is showing promise as a sorcerer. Perhaps, given enough time, Barnabus will send Persephone away to study with his own master. Under such tutelage, Persephone could be molded into a terrible force with which to harass the Lancea Sanctum.
From the Kindred perspective, what makes humans so wonderful are their weak wills and eagerness to do just about anything in order to feel pleasure. When that vulnerability is exploited with the intoxicating power of a vampire’s blood, a loyal servant can be created. Sherry Horst is a prime example of this.
When Barnabus first located Sherry with the help of a mortal contact, she was a recovering meth addict doing community service at a homeless shelter. With her unremarkable rap sheet, plain looks and limited social connections, Sherry made an ideal candidate for Barnabus’ needs.
In short order he abducted her, locked her in the basement and repeatedly fed her his own blood over the course of a few months. When he finally released her, Sherry was his emotional slave. Sherry was always amazed at how powerful her meth addiction was. She quickly realized it was nothing compared to what she would do to drink from the Nosferatu’s slashed wrist.
As an employee of the homeless shelter, Sherry is often responsible for giving rides to transients who might have to go to the local free clinic or to a VA facility in the Bay Area. Other times, she might help relocate a resident to another shelter when they cannot conform to the rules and regulations of the facility Sherry works at. On those occasions, Sherry might not transfer the itinerant at all.
If she is transporting an individual with a reputation of being particularly violent or aggressive, she will take him or her to the casino, park the van and tell them to get out. If the homeless person resists, she will spray them with mace until they exit. Sherry will then speed off. Barnabus and Persephone take care of the rest. When Sherry returns to the homeless shelter, she will say that the transient became violent and she almost crashed. She’ll say that when she pulled over, her passenger threw open the van door and fled. With the flood of homeless at the shelter, no one ever follows up on the wayward individuals.
In regards to her facilitation of murder, Sherry feels nothing. She loves the rush she gets from the blood she drinks. She no longer does drugs nor even thinks about it. She doesn't have to. She has the best drug available and her skin tone, attitude at work and health have never been better. Indeed, she’s been the Employee of the Month three months running.
Concept: Reclusive Haunt with little to no interest in the outside world
Covenant: Circle of the Crone
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 4, Wits 3, Resolve 3
Physical Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 2, Stamina 3
Social Attributes: Presence 4, Manipulation 3, Composure 4
Mental Skills: Academics 3, Investigation 2, Occult (Cruac) 5 ,Politics 1
Physical Skills: Brawl (bite) 3, Larceny 2, Stealth 4, Survival 3, Weaponry (sword cane) 2
Social Skills: Empathy 2, Intimidation 3, Persuasion 2, Socialize 1, Streetwise 2, Subterfuge 2
Derangements: Depression (mild), Fixation (mild)
Blood Potency: 5 (14/2)
Initiative Mod: 6
Merits: City Status 3, Contacts 1 (Kindred of Santa Fina), Clan Status 3, Covenant Status 3, Cruac 3, Haven 3, Herd 2, Language (German) 2, Language (French) 2, Resources 1, Retainer 2 (Persephone)
Disciplines: Nightmare 4 [Monstrous Countenance (p. 133), dice pool 11 vs. Composure + Blood Potency; Dread (p. 133), dice pool 9 vs. Composure + Blood Potency; Eye of the Beast (p. 134), dice pool 10 vs. Composure + Blood Potency; Shatter the Mind (p. 134), dice pool 9 vs. Composure + Blood Potency]; Obfuscate 3 [Touch of Shadows (p. 135), dice pool 8; Mask of Tranquility (p. 136); Cloak of Night (p. 137), dice pool 11]
Cruac Rituals: Pangs of Proserpina (p. 143), dice pool 11 vs. Composure + Blood Potency; Cheval (p. 143), dice pool 11 - subject's Composure; Deflection of Wooden Doom (p. 144), dice pool 11
Bite, 0(L), dice pool 6
Sword Cane, 2(B*/L), dice pool 8 (*bashing damage when sheathed)
Page numbers refer to Vampire: The Requiem.
Concept: Socially undesirable neonate with a knack for blood magic
Covenant: Circle of the Crone
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 4, Wits 3, Resolve 2
Physical Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3
Social Attributes: Presence 1, Manipulation 2, Composure 2
Mental Skills: Academics 2, Computer 3, Investigation 3, Occult (Cruac) 2
Physical Skills: Brawl (bite) 1, Larceny 2, Stealth 3, Survival 1, Weaponry 1
Social Skills: Empathy 2, Intimidation (mortals) 2, Persuasion 1, Stealth 3, Subterfuge 2
Blood Potency: 2 (11/1)
Initiative Mod: 5
Merits: City Status 1, Contacts 1 (Kindred of Santa Fina), Covenant Status 1, Cruac 1, Haven 3, Herd 2, Mentor 2 (Barnabus), Resources 1
Disciplines: Nightmare 2 [Monstrous Countenance (p. 133), dice pool 5 vs Composure + Blood Potency; Dread (p. 133), dice pool 6 vs. Composure + Blood Potency], Obfuscate 1 [Touch of Shadows (p. 135), dice pool 6], Vigor 1 (p. 141)
Cruac Rituals: Pangs of Proserpina (p. 143), dice pool 6 vs. Composure + Blood Potency; Rigor Mortis (p. 143), dice pool 6 – subject’s Composure
Bite, 0(L), dice pool 5
Page numbers refer to Vampire: The Requiem.
Concept: Blood addict who trades transients for Vitae
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 2, Wits 3, Resolve 2
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 3
Social Attributes: Presence 2, Manipulation 3, Composure 2
Mental Skills: Computer 1, Academics 1, Crafts 1
Physical Skills: Brawl 2, Drive 2, Larceny 3, Weaponry 2 (stun gun)
Social Skills: Empathy 2, Intimidation 2, Socialize 2 (drug culture), Streetwise (drug dealing) 3, Subterfuge 2 Health: 8 Morality: 4
Derangements: Irrationality (mild), Suspicion (mild)
Initiative Mod: 4
Merits: Ally 1 (Circle of the Crone), Barfly, Toxin Resistance
Disciplines: Vigor 1 (p. 141 in Vampire: The Requiem)
Stun Gun, dice pool 5 (See p. 36 in Armory.)