Chronicle Concept: Sleeping Lion
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Setting: This chronicle could take place almost anywhere with a considerable Kindred population. The plot outline here is detailed for use in a Camarilla held city, though it could easily be adapted for a Sabbat chronicle.
Plot Overview: The essence of this story is a waking Methuselah who has spent a considerable amount of time hidden away somewhere in the city. This will not be readily known, however - the strange happenings and mounting disruptions will present a mystery to be solved. The characters will find themselves embroiled in the events surrounding the resurfacing of this ancient vampire, with the focus primarily on a daunting mystery and a sense of urgency and valuable time slipping away. Elements of the story should allow for intrigue and subterfuge, as well as several direct conflicts. This chronicle is designed for neonate and ancilla characters.
Character Motivation: There are several possible reasons for the characters to be involved in this story, and to be involved with one another.
1.) The characters are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
An elder has a fit (thanks to influence exerted by the Methuselah) in a public place such as a club where all the characters happen to be that night. The breach of the Masquerade is taken care of, but the powers that be want answers and charge the characters with finding them lest they be considered accomplices to the breaking of the first tradition. (This may be unreasonable, but who said Princes were reasonable?)
2.) The vampires closest to the characters are being affected.
Sires, childer, and perhaps even one of the characters is being influenced by the waking ancient. While the characters may not be terribly inclined to work together, it becomes apparent they cannot solve this mystery without the help of the others.
3.) The characters are ordered to uncover what's going on.
The city's controlling powers have convened and determined that there is a problem. Because of the lack of trust between the clans, each has agreed to send representatives on this fact finding mission (i.e., the characters). Using this motivation allows for an even greater sense of urgency, since having nothing to report back to your elder can be a wholly uncomfortable experience.
Other motivations exist also - these are just a few examples.
Story Outline: A Methuselah has been sleeping beneath the city for longer than anyone can remember, but now the ancient kindred stirs. This powerful creature begins to exert influence on kindred that unknowingly draw near to their resting place, and strange events begin to occur. Some kindred simply disappear, drawn to their death to feed a Methuselah's thirst. Other kindred begin to disrupt the balance in the city, sometimes even endangering the Masquerade. Though it is not apparent to begin with, the Methuselah begins to weaken the power structure of the city in preparation for the time when they will rise and assume control.
Kindred who are normally quite subtle are driven to extreme acts, yet have no recollection of their motivation afterward. A powerful elder attacks another powerful elder, foolishly and without provocation. The sixth tradition is broken when one of them is killed, and the other is weakened to the point of being temporarily inconsequential. Tension among the young grows, and the number of conflicts grows with it. The stability of the city is threatened and the local kindred society appears to be coming apart at the seams, possibly posing a threat to the characters in both the short and long term.
The Story should unfold in four stages:
Stage One: The Gauntlet is Thrown - this is when the first of the bizarre events begin to occur, and the characters discover that there is a plot to be uncovered. This stage should conclude with the resolution to find out what's going on, or the order from their superiors.
Stage Two: The Search - this is the period when the characters are following leads and discovering clues, even while the pace of the strange occurrences quickens. Each answer found generates whole new questions, and they should feel the increasing sense of urgency.
Stage Three: The Answer Is? - this is the stage when the characters have come to a reasonable conclusion about what's going on, even if it is entirely incorrect. It is more interesting if they have managed to uncover the truth, though certainly not necessary. If they offer any decent answer other than the correct one, their elders should believe them implicitly and act on their findings - making the discovery that they are incorrect that much more devastating. If they present the correct answer, their elders should dismiss their claims as the fancy of the young, if not as outright lies. This should come as a severe blow, an unforeseen peril that serves to make matters that much worse.
Stage Four: The Sleeper Awakens - this should be the point when the Methuselah rises fully to bring his or her plans to fruition, and when the strange occurrences become deadly for everyone involved. Will the characters support the usurping Methuselah, hoping to find a favorable place with the new power in the city? Will they side with the existing powers in an attempt to banish or destroy the ancient vampire? The winner of this struggle should be left to the dice, since the outcome will be vital to the continued existence of the characters. If they sided with the Methuselah only to find their new liege beaten, there could be severe repercussions from the existing powers. If the Methuselah is successful, however, they may find they didn't quite get what they bargained for. If they side with the existing powers and the Methuselah is triumphant, they may find themselves a casualty of the battle or a spoil to be taken by the victor. If the existing power prevails, however, they may find themselves hailed as champions - or they may find another kindred taking the credit and robbing them of the proverbial brass ring altogether.
Clan Generalizations - Players and Pawns
Assamite: While the Kindred on the inside of the structure may not notice it steadily weakening, these savvy assassins will. Such an opportunity to eliminate the opposition will not go unnoticed, and the Assamites may make use of this good fortune.
Brujah: These Kindred are notoriously high strung, making them perfect pawns for a Methuselah looking for ways to stir the nest. Skirmishes between clan members as well as with other clans may reach an all time high, serving not only to weaken the structure but to turn suspicious eyes to a more tangible - and punishable - threat.
Followers of Set: While the Setites would be offering all the information, refuge and protection they could (for a price, of course), they'd have no desire to risk their necks in what they would consider an internal matter for the Camarilla. They would, however, be pulling stings where and whenever they could in an attempt to use every misfortune to their advantage.
Gangrel: These Kindred will most likely be trying to keep their heads down and their necks off the chopping block. They have no more desire to turn up dead or diablerized than the next vampire, but they also don't want to end up owing anyone at the end of what could be just a plot to create a situation where people need help. Getting anything out of the Gangrel may be only slightly less impossible than getting them to lift a finger.
Giovanni: They too would see this as a grand opportunity to endebt more Kindred to them, and favors and information would be made available to anyone who was willing to meet their price. They might offer manpower in the final conflict, though this would be the costliest boon of all.
Malkavian: Who ever really knows what the Kooks are up to? Perhaps they will begin behaving even more strangely than before, or perhaps they will carry on as if nothing has changed. Perhaps they will unite in the final moments to rally under the banner of one of the two sides. No matter the broad choices made, in the meantime the children of Malkav will delight in the glorious chaos in the city, and add their two cents whenever possible.
Nosferatu: This clan usually has more answers than any other, and the same is true now. While they might not know what is behind these terrible events, you can be sure they have the most pieces of the puzzle. What they choose to do with them, however, who can say? Perhaps they will barter information to the characters, or perhaps they will gift a character with insight if it suits their own purposes.
Toreador: Struggle, conflict, bloodshed - ah, the drama of it all. Many of the Toreadors may start out seeing this chaos as a thing to be marveled at, though as they begin to be affected this view will change. They will use their natural talents of influence to protect themselves, and those talented in manipulation may contrive to use the heightened tension to rid themselves of a few enemies.
Tremere: The Warlocks are quite likely to recognize the work of a powerful force in the city, and quickly set about trying to harness it. They will also be trying to take advantage of the weakened state of affairs, shifting the balance of boons and favor to their own advantage where possible.
Ventrue: The Blue Bloods will be scrambling to restore order, while at the same time attempting to downplay the problem. On the outside, the clan will either laughingly attribute the 'minor difficulties' to some passing trend, or they will choose this time to exert their wrath and influence in full. Internally, however, they will be struggling to regain power and equilibrium in the city. Fingers will be pointed among them, and accusations of incompetence will fly.
General: There is more than one way to solve a mystery, and characters that make ample and savvy use of the skills and sources at their disposal will find themselves in fashion. Whether the character is on this mission by orders from the above, whether they have taken up the personal crusade for other reasons... those who make progress will gain favor. The sheer sense of urgency and impending doom should be enough spur any Kindred to action, and the feeling of fate breathing down the necks of the characters should be plenty of motivation.
Extra Note: It is up to you to select the clan of this sleeping Methuselah. If there is a player character of the same clan, this leaves even more room open to influence that particular character as well as play on clan loyalties.
Brujah: You'll find your cronies and clanmates testier than ever, and perhaps you will be affected by the violence as well. All Brujah will become the object of scorn, and you may find that you must solve the mystery at hand to prevent a near-impergium on your clan.
Caitiff: You will be prime targets for the Methuselah, as the disconnected kindred make wonderful shock troops. If you play your cards right, however, you may find this your golden opportunity to impress a Primogen and be adopted into a clan - if you can only be the one to get that information to them first...
Gangrel: You don't really care if the Blue Bloods are having trouble ruling the roost, but you do care when members of your clan start going missing or being subject to suspicion. You already think the Camarilla just uses you, and you'll be damned if their going to have the Gangrel for a target or a scapegoat - whoever is behind all this chaos must be brought to light.
Giovanni: Your superiors have an interest in this, too - though it's not the solution of the problem that they work towards. In this time of distrust and fear, the strong hand of protection is a welcome comfort. What better way to stay on the front line than to be a part of the party seeking the source of this chaos, and who better to offer aid than the Giovanni?
Lasombra Antitribu: Somehow, you're not surprised the quibbling Ventrue are losing their grip on this situation. The Lasombra are the true rulers, and you've always known it. To bring this chaos to an end and restore order requires the skill of a true leader. If you can solve this little conundrum and return things to normal, surely the Ventrue will finally see your value and elevate you to the position of honor you deserve.
Malkavian: See Dick run. See Jane run. See Dick and Jane have a nervous breakdown. You love all this confusion! Okay, maybe you are supposed to be helping to find out what's going on - but there is no situation so serious that a few pranks and a little misdirection have no place in it. It may make the rest of your coterie a little mad when you feed them red herrings, but that's just more testimony to how much they need these little jokes - an underdeveloped sense of humor is a tragedy.
Nosferatu: You know more than the others, of course - but you're not sure you know everything they do. You were asked - or you decided - to join this mission, but that doesn't mean there's no room for your bartering skills here. Besides, you're right where people need information the most.
Toreador: This unsupervised mayhem has created quite enough problems already, and you're certain it has worn out it's welcome. You're not sure how you got stuck with these troglodytes on this tedious mission, but you are sure that it can't hurt your reputation to be a hero. Now if you can just figure out how to come out looking like the hero no matter who does what...
Tremere: Something powerful is affecting the kindred of this city, and in simplest terms your clan wants it. It would be quite an attractive feather in your cap if you were the one to acquire it for them, too. The rest of your associates on this mission are lucky to have you along, really - it's highly likely they wouldn't know what they had found when they found it. Fortunately, you're here to help solve their problems AND benefit your chantry.
Ventrue: Damnit, Damnit, DAMNIT! If it isn't one problem, it's another. How you got stuck taking care of this particular problem you're not sure - but your elders seemed quite serious about what might happen if you didn't succeed. To make matters worse, you're yoked with a troupe of idiots and troublemakers who have laughingly been deemed your 'aides.' This must be a test.... hmm, yes... and if you can pass this test with flying colors, then you'll be moving up in the world. Yes, that's it - this is a test of skill. Now if you can just convince these ne'er-do-wells to get their acts together and listen to your brilliant suggestions...
Group and Game Cohesion: It is a time of acute distrust, and suspicion is being tossed around like a flaming dodgeball. Getting characters from different clans to work together won't be the easiest task imaginable. As it becomes clear that they all have something to lose in this game, however, they will come to realize that success may depend wholly on their ability to work together.
Given that this chronicle is designed for the 9th-14th generation, all characters will find themselves in the same position of being low on the totem poll, and that trickle-down theory puts them in the same boat - in deep water.
It will take a wide range of skills to put this problem to bed, and it will quickly become apparent that no one character has all it takes to complete this mission.
Of course prejudices, distrust, selfishness, personal ambition, and possibly even outright betrayal will inhibit the group at every turn... but that's all part of the fun.
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