When we started up VtM: Pathogens, the hope was to introduce some people to V5 and make the most out of the system and updated metaplot. We did a pretty good job inventing a rolling campaign about the gothic American South–often filling in some negative space left by the official fluff, sometimes veering away from it.
Let’s start with the map!
I went ahead and made this map, stylistically. Feel free to snatch it up–I think it looks plenty cool. I wanted to keep the game boxed into the South, so the coterie–who are agents of an invented NPC Archon to Justicar Lucinda–are given the major campaign task of bringing the Southern Cities that are no longer properly under Camarilla control into the fold of the Ivory Tower and those that are back into a renewed relationship with an ascendant Chicago.
The threats (because all RPGs need threats) to this mission and story, in proper Vampire fashion, are numerous:
- The Anarch Gangs – self-interest reigns after the wars of the late 90’s, after the fall of SchrekNet, after London gets properly stomped, after the Beckoning takes the parents (and grandparents) away, etc. The campaign should have self-important coteries of Kindred with very modern ideas and very little respect for this old boys/girls club called the Camarilla. This is a world where Theo Bell is no longer a Cam thumper. One where the rules really are what we make them. The Sabbat is largely gone. The Cam has concentrated their power into strongholds, leaving the poverty and war-torn territory in the South ripe for unaffiliated domains.
- Anarch Cities – When the gangs get a plan and start rolling it up into a government, you get an Anarch city. In Pathogens, there really is only one major Anarch City to contend with–Miami. In our story, Miami was the choice location for Losambra powers to flex under an old model of putting the Church to the front and ruling from behind it. More on that later.
- Former Sabbat Strongholds – while there are still packs running around, there is no structure anymore. Sabbat cities that were are now just territory with a lot of bad history. They’re perfect places for lingering old Cainites with old fashioned notions of their importance or obstacles to “civilizing” those cities.
- Camarilla Cities That Want Something – New Orleans features large in the game, as does Birmingham. These cities have their own rivalry between them (the Princes largely hate each other). NOLA is a Camarilla gem in decline, though they don’t acknowledge it–they dine and promenade while the city is eaten by the Hecata and others. Birmingham is in the middle of rough country and ruled by a madman. Chicago and New York and other major Cam cities not even in the South have an interest in what comes from a settled Dixie. Power, pawns, and prestige. Everyone wants to get their taste.
- Camarilla Cities That Want Nothing – some cities, like our Nashville, feature Camarilla Kindred that found their place as being loyalists removed from politics. They don’t care who rules Atlanta. They don’t mind helping. They’re safe, but quiet. They’re never allies, everything comes with a price, but they also have no interest in the Cam being a larger presence in their cities, specifically.
- Humanity – ever present. Ever dangerous.
- The Coterie Themselves – not everyone plays Vampire like I like to run it. I’m an old LARP boy. The best stories are the ones that focus on the truth that there are no real Vampire “friends”. Only allies. Only those you trust more than others. The coterie is in it together, but everyone is still truly in it for themselves. No killing each other, no kneecapping each other socially, per se… but the Coterie should be a conflict unto themselves. Some will be friends with some NPCs and hated by others. They may interfere with your plans, if they think them bad. This is the best source of conflict.
I will no doubt go through the characters more individually–and my last post covered a lot of the early concepts. Suffice to say, we had an interesting selection of off-brand characters. The wealthy, rather non-political Nosferatu with interest in tech and the one “carrying” most of the rest of them–with axes to grind with Chicago and Capone (specifically). The wheeling and dealing social Brujah–all gracious southern twang and appropriate schmoozing with Kindred of almost any stripe with a real penchant for populism when needed. The “eldest” of them, a sixteen year old girl that’s really a Tremere from the wars of the 90’s–one part Greyhound riding iconoclast, one part loyalist to the Clan. And the Ventrue soldier, brought up through a program of creating a Vanguard of Blue Blood rule in the 21st century by the late Jan Pieterzoon–the blood of Hardestadt running through an Alabama militia trained true son of the Camarilla.
I loved these characters and I appreciate the players that played them within the bounds of the game I had invented. One where, yes, nobody trusts the con-artist Tremere and constantly mistake her for being a child half the time and everyone worries about the Compound the Ventrue keeps building out in the Florida wilderness. Where they can actively struggle and rage at each other, only to keep having to operate together. It’s the sort of game that ends with the right kind of Vampire ending (for me)…
The characters go their separate ways having completed some arcs–they become the NPCs of a new game, the Kindred that know each other from “back then” and have petty rivalries and friendships about. Inscrutible history for young vampires that have to cross paths with them.
Why does nobody ever want to talk about Richard Warren–the Nos? Why should you “avoid London and don’t ask about Warren” as a new character? What history is that?
What’s wrong with seeking favors from Tiffany Davidson in Tennessee? Why do you not want her to know about your ghoul?
Wheats Vandermont is a genial and surprisingly helpful Brujah politoco travelling between cities and making deals in the South–so, why am I not welcome in New Orleans or Orlando if I’m friendly with him?
There’s a whole county in Southern Florida owned tip to tails by a Ventrue–sheriffs, truck stops, tracts of swampy land with no record of any aerial or otherwise footage of the contents of it. Why do State police dismiss reports from there? Why should I fear the black truck? Aren’t we all allies? If I mention the wrong name–even one that’s a Camarilla loyal vampire of standing–why am I at risk of never leaving that swamp?
More later… I think the next post up will go into each city (in more or less Chronological order they dealt with them).
But, first… just some assets. These were, by and large, scraped off of general image searches by various people (I asked for some examples for a personal game and got a deluge from fans of this site). I’d love to credit the original artists as I share more about the game and how it went (just know I’m not excluding that information on purpose). The character art for the Coterie was done by Toni–an artist I’ve worked with on some things before–and I could not more heartily recommend paying her a ton of money to do art for you. Worth every penny. https://www.instagram.com/kumigumii
Any attribution for the rest? I’m happy to include and even feature here and will be working as I go to do some myself.