“Vampire: The Masquerade – Pathogens” or “Some Resources and Things From my Recent V5 Game(s)”

I love Vampire: The Masquerade. It was the first actual tabletop RPG I was introduced to and the first real “nerdy” fandom I ever discovered. Not that I was a sheltered kid or anything, but I moved a lot growing up and didn’t have any real grasp of either pop culture or nerdy culture. I kinda grew up with ole Disney movies (old, on VHS re-recorded stuff… Pete’s Dragon and Robin Hood and all that), John Wayne westerns (not even Clint Eastwood), and a loose collection of 80’s action movies.

When I hit college? Vampire had already been around for a long time–I was rather at the tail end of it’s WoD 1.0 run.

Still, out of the blue? Here was this deep and wide metaplot and really fascinating juxtaposition of life and unlife, what’s real and surviving, moral choices, etc. I adored it. I devoured the Clan Novels and still recommend them to people to this day (although, honestly, the reorganization of them into the Clan Novel Saga books is a better way to read them–more orderly).

So, when V5 hit, I was all over it. It’d been years and years since WoD 1.0 ended and I missed it.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Over the last year or so, I’ve toyed with a few V5 games–to feel out the mechanics and new modern nights (consider when I last played, cell phones weren’t smart and bitcoin didn’t exist… a game in the modern nights now? It has to consider these kinds of things and how they fit). I did a pair of games using the Chicago by Night materials–which are fantastic and I recommend you pick up if you can–and finally felt ready to take on the World of Darkness without crutches again…

My current V5 game is set in 2015–so just BEFORE the events in the Chicago by Night chronicle (which allows me to give some of those characters a bit more of a place in the world than them just showing up… like what was Malenkov doing before? How do emphasize the outside-the-system feel of Flyboy and others like him? What do other Princes think of Kevin Jackson? Or the Blood Disco?

I read through Beckett’s Jyhad Diary when it came out, which did a good job of helping me think about what had happened “in the world” after the late 90’s and early 00’s through about 2010-ish. But it doesn’t take you to today. I’m glad it doesn’t, as well–I think there needs to be some room in there. So, while there’s a chapter for what’s going on “in Dixie” (the American South), it really just gives us what’s going on there during the 2000’s. A sort of epilogue of a weakened and modernizing Camarilla. Then, looking at the very popular and complete Vampire Fandom Wiki, we get a lot of ideas about what could be true in 2015 through 2020.

So, I took it upon myself–being in the South and played Vampire in the South (in and out of character) and pretty deeply soaked in what it’s like and what pop culture has made of it… I wanted to make a V5 “setting” or game that emphasized the barren feel of the Gothic American Deep South. The world after Atlanta fell, after Miami was all but abandoned by the Sabbat. Where New Orleans is more and more deeply it’s own planet (kind of like how it is now… and I say that with affection; New Orleans is New Orleans–300 years of history and every bit it’s own cultural Primarch as Boston or New York ever was).

So… for your enjoyment (whatever enjoyment you might get) or use? Here’s some of what I’ve been using. I’ll likely post new things up from time to time as more happens in the game.

To start? Maps. And feel free to take or borrow any of this if you want… just let me know how it went!

West Pullman – Chicago

For my Chicago game, I did up a map of West Pullman–really a non-standard chunk of a few neighborhoods. This was the “bottle” for my Chicago games. The players were a coterie tasked with “settling” the domain for Kevin Jackson. While doing that? I wove in the Chicago by Night chronicle. To keep a certain unity and “MCU” feel to my games, I try to have them all take place in the same world… peoples’ old PCs are my NPCs where I can use them and their accomplishments are the history of the game and world. So, my current V5 game’s coterie has a Mawla (Mentor, Handler) that is in Chicago.

I also printed the map out on laminated poster stuff 4′ by 3′. Vistaprint was great.

Gabriel – Archon to Lucinde (Justicar for the Ventrue and Red Alastor of the Camarilla). Gabriel is the “hands you the mission” NPC. He is based on a PC a friend used to play. A Ventrue spymaster. Gabriel is only there to drop rumors onto the coterie and take up the work of helping cover their asses when things happen. Imagine Frank Langella‘s character from The Americans (the name is a coincidence, believe it or not).

The Coterie are charged with exploring the American South.

The Camarilla largely lost control of it in the late 90’s and, with a few exceptions (Birmingham or New Orleans), the Sabbat heavily fortified most cities. With the Beckoning and departure of the Sabbat over the last decade… these cities have either fallen to Anarchs or are “dark”–the Camarilla needs recon and information about what’s become of them. What Kindred are there now? What are their loyalties? Can some be brought into the fold of the new Ivory Tower (a more elite club than it used to be) or exploited? Are they dangerous wastelands?

White are Camarilla strongholds… purple are “last known as Sabbat territory” from years before… orange are “known Anarch states” either as unified cities or cities with lots of independent anarch packs operating

The Coterie – “The Vanguard”. They have a reputation as forward recon agents, sometimes diplomats and sometimes operatives-taking-down-targets. The Camarilla treats them well, though they’re odd for vampires given that their world is travelling between places rather than staking a domain and haunting it forever.

Varlan Ketch – A Ventrue pilot program started by Jan Pieterzoon in the 90’s sought out capable young men and women who were susceptible to a certain level of indoctrination. Trained like rural militia in camps, never knowing about the Kindred connection, they more or less resembled any other “getting ready for the coming fallout of civilization” types. The camps gave them discipline and purpose, and the Paragon Program hoped to take the most valuable of the recruits into the clan as the new field officers in what was certain to be a more prepared Camarilla. But, the Sectarian War died down and the Sabbat all but vanished–and Jan was killed. In the end, Varlan, a recent embrace of the Program was taken in by Lucinde’s archon, Gabriel, and put to work on the Grand Plan… the reconquest of the South.

Varlan Ketch – Ventrue Militia

Wheats Vandermont – a low level politician in Louisville, KY, Wheats rode his ambition to real reforms and a passionate attention for detail in the troubles of the city. Over time, he came to believe there were people in the shadows, manipulating elements of government and bureaucracy, at the core of strange disappearances or deaths. His personal investigations exposed him to the very creatures he’d been studied, directly and indirectly. His embrace was one of punishment. Taken in a rage by an unknown Brujah, Wheats represented a political talent with just enough mistrust of his own kind to be useful. And that’s when Gabriel found him.

Wheats Vandermont – Brujah Politik

Tiffany “Tiff” Davidson – the oldest member of the coterie is also the youngest appearing. A teenage runaway embraced in the mid-90’s, Tiff’s quick mind and almost effortless resourcefulness turned her on to the Tremere. They thought to train her to be a more conventional thaumaturge at the Chicago Chantry, but didn’t count on Tiff’s iconoclasm. Having taken “unauthorized leave” from the Chantry several times, Tiff was punished with deep blood bonds… until the bonds of the Tremere all broke. Gabriel found the wandering con artist and made use of her talents. The rest of the coterie have been embraced for only 5 or 10 years; but Tiff remembers some of what the world was like in the 90’s… there were wars. Fear. Now? She’s got purpose, freedom, and authority… and flexes all of them.

Tiff Davidson – Tremere Con Artist

Richard Warren – perhaps the most “independent” of the coterie. A finance and investment guru, Warren amassed a considerable fortune by his forties and likely would have enjoyed growing it conservatively in New York had it not been for some sweeping political demands amongst the Kindred. The Nosferatu of New York, hoping to expand their influence and defend their hard won gains from the last century against the avarice and envy of other ambitious licks, wound their way deep into Warren’s portfolio. By the time they approached him openly, he was already hopelessly in deep with the enterprises and networks of financial instruments the clan had been using. Warren’s embrace was one of choice. What do you get the man who has everything? Eternity. Eventually, he was approached by Gabriel to join a coterie that would give him some new opportunities down South. Warren’s fortune and corporate expertise is the backbone of the operation, whether anyone admits it or not.

Helping them with this work are their retainers.

As you can see, I like the very 90’s era “character cards” with old school art styles.

The coterie makes their way with a mobile 2 point haven in Varlan’s truck. Pitt and Holder are Varlan’s “bandits”… while the Ventrue moves the truck (every night, new place–no exceptions), the ghouls scout the areas and head off trouble. A cop thinks to pull over the rig? Suddenly, two joyriders swerve and speed, doing 130 mph recklessly, and “pulls” the smokey off.

Feel free to swipe any of these images or other stuff we make. I’ll start posting up things that have happened in game and what I have envisioned the cities of the South to be now.

The coterie’s first stop (by choice) was Memphis, TN.

(to be continued)


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