Chronicle Concept: A New Eden
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A forward note on this chronicle: This particular story is recommended for experienced players and storytellers only, as it requires the group to play elders well versed in the ways of Kindred society. It also requires the players to possess an intimate knowledge of Kindred politics, and it is best if the storyteller has past experience with the players.
Setting: This chronicle takes place in a post-apocolyptic world. All the cities still stand, but 90% of the world's human population is dead. The number of Kindred have been seriously reduced as well. The setting for many of these events should be a modern Mecca, a city that many humans are migrating to because their cities are ceasing to function.
Plot Overview: The end has come... and gone. Most of the neonates are dead, having become sustenance for hungry elders when the mortal supply ran low. Now the Kindred that remain are convening in one city, following their food supply to this new Mecca among the ruins. There are no longer enough vampires to consider the Sabbat and Camarilla in existence, and the laws of both have been rent asunder by kindred desperate to remain alive and awake.
Those Kindred who remain must determine the new course their race will take and what they will do about the slim number of warm bodies to feed them. In essence, the next great period of Kindred existence is beginning, and the characters are the ones trying to decide what shape the future will take.
The characters should be between 5th and 8th generation, the eldest of their clan that is both 'living' and awake. The primary elements of this story will be control, leadership, and savvy political skills as each character tries to come out the winner.
Character Motivation: The characters are the oldest of their clan that can be accounted for, and hence they must represent their clan in the upcoming convergence. (Two characters of the same clan should not be allowed, and the storyteller should create NPC leaders for the clans not represented by the players. Some clans may, however, go unrepresented - perhaps none of them survived.)
The characters must seek to control their own clans, while at the same time trying to win favor for their ideas among other clans and other leaders. Each character should seek a place of importance in this new world, working to achieve the highest position - both for themselves and for their clan - that they possibly can.
An extreme air of compromise should surround the characters; they should be acutely aware that they must weigh every option carefully so they never give away too much and never receive too little. It should also be impressed upon them that some compromise is inevitable - any clan that directly challenges to many of the others may find themselves extinct quickly, especially when it would stand to even out the ratio of kindred to kine. On the other hand... if they can make just the right compromises - they don't really have to give up anything at all.
Story Outline: A vicious disease has eliminated most of the human beings in the world in a frighteningly short period of time, as well as many pigs and primates. Why some of them managed to survive remains undiscovered - perhaps it is genetic immunity. No one knows yet. Once the feeding stock became slim, the Kindred began to experience difficulties. Many were killed in fights, many more were used as food by their betters. Now, there are far fewer kindred in the world, too. As the humans migrate to one city, so do the kindred follow them. A convergence is suggested, and the eldest of each clan is located so that they may be a representative. The Kindred - whether they admit it or not - are afraid. Vital decisions about the fate of every vampire must be made, and they must be made now.
The clans have collected in various parts of the city, and the once defining factors of Sabbat, Camarilla, Antitribu and Anarch have been forgotten... at least to some extent. There is strength in numbers, and every clan knows it.
This is where our chronicle begins.
The characters must meet with the other representatives of the surviving clans. They must decide what to do now, what form their continued existence will take. They must decide what rules they will honor and which they will discard. They must decide who will lead, and who will follow. They must strive for unity, for none are strong enough to withstand war. Unimaginable alliances will be made, and long time trusts may be betrayed. In the end, the game is politics and the prize is the new world.
This story should unfold in four stages:
Stage One: Out of the Ruins - this stage should be handled individually for each player, away from the other players. The characters should have the events that have led up to this moment described to them in horrific detail, and should find out that they are the eldest of their clan. They should be made aware of the number of their clan that remains, and informed that they are - at least for now - the de facto leader of their clan. They should be made aware of other clan leaders in the city (which ones is the storyteller's choice), and they should be informed of the negotiations they will be expected to attend on behalf of their clan.
If the storyteller so desires, another stage of the game can be inserted here - the trip to the new city. Some of the characters may encounter each other on this trip, some may hinder the arrival of others, or at the very least learn who else is on their way. Adding this stage could make the game more interesting, though it could also make it more difficult.
Stage Two: A Meeting of the Minds - this should be the first meeting of all the clan leaders, where they learn what they can about those who will be their allies or adversaries. An NPC clan leader should be the one 'conducting' the negotiation, allowing the storyteller some control over the direction of events. The discussion will no doubt become heated as age old enemies air their dirty laundry and old hatreds boil to the surface. These negotiations will not be resolved in one meeting, but valuable introductions will be made in this stage. Secrets may surface, myths may be dispelled. Each character should walk away realizing that they must act wisely and quickly to rise to the top of this newly forming structure.
Stage Three: Enemies and Empires - this should be the stage when the characters must struggle not only to gain support among their own clan, but with other clans as well. Alliances and enemies will be made, as every Elder knows that in the end superior numbers will win the day. This is also the stage where those Kindred opposed to most of the other clans (such as the Assamites, perhaps) will begin their crusades - introducing a deadly element to an already volatile situation. It will be a race, but one that can only be won with precision and planning.
Stage Four: The Council Reconvenes - this is when the elders meet again, and the proverbial hole cards are played. How many leaders have betrayed others, and did they choose their allies wisely? The deals made in shadow come to light, and final score is tallied. Did an elder secretly promise aid to one clan, but when it came time to stand and be counted deliver it to another? Who is the new ruler of Kindred, and what have they agreed to in order to become that leader?
What will actually happen in this meeting is anybody's guess. Perhaps one clan agreed to support a leader in return for the elimination of another clan. Perhaps the clan to be eliminated had no idea, or perhaps the clan that swore support will find their boon unfulfilled. This stage should be the unveiling of the twisted masterpiece, a serious of shocks and revelations that bears all the suspense of the answer to the $64,000 question: Where does everyone stand?
Clan Generalizations: Voice of the Rank and File
(These clan generalizations, because the characters are the highest authority of their clans, are the thoughts of their lessers and clanmates. Of course there will be as many unique opinions as there are clan members - these are just guidelines intended to encompass majority opinions. Two distinctly differing views are offered for each clan, as part of the challenge for the characters will be to reconcile their clan support to one ideal - or risk half their clan supporting another leader. Feel free to construct more or different opinions if you see fit.
Not all clans are mentioned here, though the storyteller is free to create the views for any additional clan or bloodline they choose to include.)
Assamite: Now is the time to strike! The enemy is weak and vulnerable, and has so graciously gathered all in one place. They are ripe for the plucking, and we can finally rid ourselves of these infidels. Join them in peace? Never!
On the other hand...
We are few in number also - perhaps it is time that we take a hand in the shaping of this Kindred world. Those who can be taught honor should be, and those who cannot will perish at the hands of a new leadership - us.
Brujah: Pencil pushing and reserved aplomb is exactly what has gotten us where we are now - the new world must take a new shape! Kindred must be strong and fierce, not petty little dictators hiding in shadow. We must control the kine as we should the Kindred - with force and superior strength. The Ventrue led us down this stinking alley, and now you see what we have known all along - they were never truly fit to lead. Damn the man! Let might make right in this new era!
On the other hand...
Have you not had enough of pointless war? When will you have shed enough kindred blood to sate empty desires? Look back to Carthage, to a vampire city of knowledge where we found better use for eternity than the pursuit of invented parlor games of espionage and intrigue. Do not let this opportunity for catharsis pass us by - we have the chance to remake ourselves into something better. We created it once, and we can succeed again. The Ventrue cannot use their vile politics to topple us this time - not when all the Kindred world has seen their true colors.
Followers of Set: At last the great lie machine topples - let them look upon the retribution of Set! They have suffered now, and we must make certain they know it. We must deter a peaceful solution, hinder it at every turn. Our day has come, let us not overlook it! Now they will enter the time when they will know no peace, no refuge. Let them suffer as our great leader was made to suffer. Let them know only pain and fear in this new age. Let Set's legacy unfold for those who betrayed him!
On the other hand...
The game has not changed, only the number of players on the field. We must use the tools given to us by our great Father to choke our adversaries as the python chokes its prey. They struggle for dominance as they always have, and they will be blind to the snake in the garden as they always have. Let us promise favor and support to the largest of their number and let them think us their friend - in this way we will drag more of the betrayers to their own end. Now our opportunity to enslave the others is greater than it has ever been, for they are all in dire need. Let us deliver them from this lacking state into a damnation of fulfillment.
Gangrel: Bah! We are done with your psuedo-human governments. You have failed! For years you have failed! You're just too wrapped up in your own self image to see it. Join in peace talks? Meet like a city planning commission? Why?? So you can just make a mess of all of it again? No thank you. The law of the jungle is the true law of the beasts - if you can finally accept the beasts that you are. Eat, survive, make more of you - these are the only true goals of the beast. You want us to put another weakling on the throne, but we will not. We honor the King of the Jungle! If you want to rule us, you must prove yourself or die trying.
On the other hand...
The clan must survive, and the time of opportunity is upon us. One city, one people - no longer are the kine soiling every square inch of land, sea, and air. The others will struggle for the city - let them have it! We will trade the wilds for our support in the city. The world will be our domain, save for this one place - and so what? We will not want it anyway. Let them have their empire and count us among their subjects. Our empire will be everything beyond these city limits. Perhaps finally we will have the peace we have long sought.
Giovanni: Fools! If they only knew what we intended... they would hunt us all. So many dead - surely we can bring about the long, dark night now! Everywhere souls are ripe for the picking, all we need is a little time to harvest. We must keep the others distracted while we collect the last of our army. Peace talks are the ideal way to stall for time. We must work to keep all the others off balance, draw these negotiations out for as long as possible. We will have no need of temporal power - the whole world will be ours!
On the other hand...
There is no need to count our chickens before they are hatched, or to put all our eggs in one basket. The long, dark night comes - that is inevitable as it has always been. Still, why must we waste an opportunity? The majority will rule when this convention sees its end, and what if we're not ready? Better to plan, to account for everything. We will use our influence as we always have. We will build our emperor, and topple those who might be his rival. We will continue about our true work unhindered, because the throne will reside firmly in our breast pocket.
Kiasyd: We don't care who's in charge really - we have no desire to walk among you. We do not need you to recognize us as equals - our equality has nothing to do with your perception. Have your little meetings, make deals to your hearts' content. We want nothing to do with you. In case you hadn't noticed, we have never needed you.
On the other hand...
We cannot afford our own misanthropy at the moment. Here is where the food is, and the right to be here is the topic of the discussion at hand. Perhaps we can insinuate ourselves as the lore keepers and historians of this new world. We should give our support to those who will agree to our terms of seclusion and privacy, and perhaps we can bargain for more knowledge in the process. We have lived in the shadow of other Kindred for so long - now is our chance to own some of those shadows.
Lasombra: The time for the Masquerade has passed. Let us drive the humans into submission while they are few! We must be the ones to lead the Kindred into this new age! No more cowering in the shadows that are rightfully ours to command! Let this be a world where vampires rule, and let us finally take our rightful place of dominion over our human lessers! See what the Ventrue offer you? Obscurity, slavery, humbleness - is this what you want? To be as a child whimpering in fear of its own powerless reflection? Do not settle for one iota less than you deserve! We are vampires, and we bow before no human stock. Let the humans feel our reign and our wrath, let them breed to serve and feed us. Look to the day when no human alive can remember a time when we were not their masters!
On the other hand...
Our own nature reminds us that our place is in the shadows. Let the humans think the world is theirs, but let our hands hold the puppet strings that makes their race dance. We must admit our disadvantage, that they can still destroy us if they learn our secrets - and do not fool yourself into thinking that no human spirit will not seek out our weakness. You chose to throw off the chains of slavery placed upon you by the Antediluvians - do you think they would not resent the same kind of slavery? No - our rule must be subtle and invisible, but nonetheless all powerful. They will never choose to fight if they never know there is a force to be opposed. We must lead this enclave and teach them the way of true vampires - neither pretending to be human nor underestimating the potential enemy that humans are. In this way - and only in this way - will be masters of our new world.
Malkavian: Silly, silly, silly. Look at you go, taking yourself way too seriously all over again. What good is eternal life if it's boring? Peace talks? Bah! Just be peaceful if that's what you want. Of course, these aren't really peace talks, now are they? They're war talks. You're determining the acceptable terms of warfare for the future. Well, Bah! again. Stick your flag in your tiny mound of dirt and piss in your corner. It hasn't done you one bit of good in the past and it won't do any now. When you're ready to hear a REAL plan, come talk to us.
On the other hand...
Tsk tsk. We did warn you, you know. It doesn't matter if it was our fault, or someone else's fault... or no ones fault. Here you stand in the middle of your precious ruins, and here we stand saying I told you so. So, people aren't important, huh? Well how important are they now, hot shot? That's what I thought. If you're ready to pull your head out of your nether regions, I'll TELL you what you need to do next. Oh, yeah... okay... don't listen to me, I'm crazy. Riddle me this, oh bright and brilliant one - how is it you can hold the evidence of all your failures in your hands and tell me you know what you're talking about? You don't, and you never have - we just went along because we knew how insignificant it was. So, it's our turn now. Shut up, sit down, and listen for a change.
Nosferatu: In our hands lies the exact opportunity we have so diligently worked to create. All Kindred must now look to the other clans, and eventually to us. Let us choose our king, and build him as we see fit. We must be the liaisons, we must learn what the others want and what they can be persuaded with. Let the others think they control the shadows, for those shadows are our homes. Let ours be the voice that whispers in the dark. We must keep the books today, we must be the ones who have support to offer. We will bargain with the others, and we will secure their support while the face men are still smoothing their hair and delinting their jackets. Then we will decide who will rule, and when he ascends the throne he will have no illusions about who put him there.
On the other hand...
Now is the time to watch and listen only. While the others will seek to swindle and deceive, they will unknowingly be flying the flags of their true colors. It is these flags we must observe and be wary of. We would do well to abstain from this particular game of politics, for inevitably it will be the beginning of bloodshed. We will agree to the terms of the winner when one presents itself - after all, it's not as if any rules truly govern us beyond our own. We would do well to keep ourselves informed, and of course we may share insights with whomever we see fit. We should not, however, ask to be dealt in to this particular hand of cards. The stakes are inevitably higher than any of the others yet realize, and when blood is spilled on the pavement it should not be ours.
Panders/Caitiff: The others will be forced to recognize us now. They'll be handing out voter's rights to any and everyone they think will vote for them. That's where we come in - finally. They need us now. We can declare ourselves a clan if we want, we can state our list of demands in no uncertain terms. Let them come to us for a change. We need to figure out what we all want, then speak with one powerful voice. If we play our cards right, equality will finally be ours.
On the other hand...
We can petition to join a clan now - if we choose the right ones, they'll take us. We can't stand on our own - we never could. It doesn't matter if we are as strong as they are - there are just plain more of them. Don't you see? They're going to be looking for a way to bump off some feeding competition, and who do you think will be public enemy number one? Us, that's who. The clanless, the lost ones - US. Yeah, they do need support and help... but they're not going to just decide to recognize us as equal partners all of a sudden. The best we can hope for is to finally be adopted into one of the pure clans, and if we bitch and moan about Caitiff rights we're going to blow that chance straight to hell. We had better start trying to find out who's willing to take some of us in, and start taking them up on it before they change their minds.
Ravnos: So gaje has a party and invites us to come. How thoughtful of them. Did they forget we have no love for them? I would rather die final death than grovel at their feet for a morsel. Let them hold their little meetings, and let them promise us the moon and the stars - it wouldn't be the first time. It wouldn't be the first time they didn't deliver, either. Do they really think we believe their lies? They take us to be as gullible as they are. Idiots. If this wasn't where the people were, we wouldn't be here at all. And as soon as we can convince some of these people to leave... so will we.
On the other hand...
We are a broken people. There are few of us left, and whether we like it or not - we need the others. We must have blood and shelter, and those things are here with them. We do not have to like them, only cooperate with them. Let them think we are their puppets, let them think they have finally tamed us. They cannot tame the gypsy heart. In time, we will be strong enough to do as we please again. We will be able to come or go on our whim alone. For now, we must allow those who offer to protect us to do so - if we do not, the children of Ravnos may disappear forever.
Toreador: The tedium of government has no artistic value, and we covet no senatorial seat. We must choose our candidate wisely, then advocate him all the way to the throne. While the mantle of leadership comes with a certain attractive amount of prestige, it comes with far too many droll responsibilities. We would do better to see that our future leader is one that is completely sympathetic to us, and in turn make a grand show of support. Popular opinion is our domain - let us use it to our own advantage now.
On the other hand...
We tire of the iron hand of the Ventrue and the Lasombra. Yes, they are politicians to the core - but now is our opportunity to change the very face of politics itself. Life imitates art, and unlife imitates life. If we change the way the kine govern themselves, we will change the way the Kindred govern themselves. War powers are gone, big business is no more, the Church is but a memory held dear in the hearts of the few who don't question if this plague was God's punishment of their Sodom and Gomorra. - don't you see? The old tools of power are dead, vanished in the midst of the thinning population. The others seek to stand on ground that is simply no longer there. The one institution of power left is popularity - beauty and status - and this field has always been ours. Let us nurture this among the kine; elevate this ideal to religion. Then it will be the Toreador who govern society, and we won't even have to learn any legal terms to do it.
Tremere: No matter what the others may say, they are weak and they are afraid. If we sew the seeds of trust now, we will reap the benefits of dominion in short order. We can give them things they need as no other can. Over the years they have suspected us of everything, so much so that it would be easy to convince them that's all it ever was - unfounded suspicion. Let us pat their cold hands and show them it will all be all right. Let us show no fear and offer them comfort in our complete confidence. No corner of this arena is closed to us. We can continue to support the Ventrue as temporal leaders, and in the process endebt them to us eternally. We could side with the Lasombra, offering to stay the tongues of any who would oppose their rule. I tell you we need only choose who will be the lamb and who will be the lion, and with the power at our fingertips it will be so. This is the time we have waited for always - the time when all Kindred are at our mercy. We need only decide what form our mercy will take.
On the other hand...
We are as few as the others - do not kid yourselves. To make a move as bold as an outright seizure may come with a far higher price than we can afford, and such things have never been our way. No clan would wish us as an enemy, and we must use that simple fact to our advantage. Do not dispel their suspicions! Do you think they have some altruistic quest to rid the world of its evil? It is far more accurate to believe they only wish to be the one in control of the evil. Let us bargain for the destruction of our remaining enemies such as the Salubri - perhaps even the Assamites - in return for our support. When the dust of this selection process has settled, we can set about our old task again. Let them lay this worry of 'what to do now' to rest, and when they have dropped their guards we will truly be able to insinuate ourselves beyond the point of their redemption. Yes, a great opportunity lies before us - and to chance it on a daring move that could lead to war would be insanity.
Tzimisce: We believe a great reckoning comes, greater even than the one that has just passed. We cannot say why, but we feel it in our bones. These negotiations are a lovely way to kill time, and the parlor game is certainly interesting - but somehow we know a greater challenge comes. We must ready ourselves for this challenge, for we will be key elements in this incident. So join them in the meeting, bandy words of politics and policy, make it seem as though we care. We will remain here, and prepare for the coming siege.
On the other hand...
We fought for the Sabbat once - why should this change now? We require our freedom, not the scrutinizing eye of the Ventrue bearing down on our every action. Perhaps the Lasombra were annoyingly arrogant, but at least they have never tried to tell us where and when we cannot make use of our abilities. You know as well as I that these 'negotiations' are little more than a bid for the Camarilla to swallow the Sabbat whole. We have no intention of submitting to the Traditions or the notion that our elders are infallible. We do as we please. We will feed when we want, perform our experiments when we want. Everyone seems to think that the path before is the path the Camarilla has always walked, but why? We are vampires, not squeamish children. We believe in our freedoms. We believe in the ideals of the Sabbat. This is what we agreed to before, and it is all we will agree to now. Let them bring their peaceful solutions and plans to fade into obscurity. We will see who walks away from it whole.
Ventrue: Our mettle is being put to the test, and we cannot afford to fail. We must lead them, and we have always known it. The old ways are truly the best ways. There is no reason this so called new 'era' should change things. We must keep the Camarilla alive, and we must preserve our ways. These Traditions are what have kept us safely hidden from the prying eyes of man for so long. Perhaps now the former Sabbat will see things clearly, that this is not about Antediluvian fantasies or behaving like undisciplined children - it's about survival. As for the others, despite their quarrels and petty complaints, they know we must lead them. They know they need us now as they always have. We need only remind them.
On the other hand...
We have been too lenient with our charges. What do you think will happen once the ridiculous ideals of the Anarchs and the Sabbat begin to infect the population? We have always known that stupidity was contagious. Every Kindred prefers to imagine themselves master of all they survey, and in their hubris they often fail to think about their own preservation. We must keep a firm grip on those clans we already rule, and lay down harsh lines for the other clans. We must take this new city and new age by force of superior numbers and with the tools we have always employed. If we allow these negotiations to proceed 'with liberty and justice for all,' what will come of them is a farce that may well cost many of us our unlives. We must force them into agreement, coerce them into cooperation, and dominate them into submission if that is what it finally requires. From the very outset there can be no question who will lead these Kindred, and no mercy for those who refuse to come aboard.
The basic character guidelines are laid out in the description of the chronicle: they are here to represent and act in the interest of their clan. What form this takes, however, will be up to the characters. Will they play the politician and try to reconcile the differing beliefs of their clanmates in the effort to unite them? Will they side with some of their clanmates and risk the alienation of the others? Will they take the road that many elders do and simply think they know what's best, ignoring the ideas of their clanmates in favor of their own goals? And that's only the interclan relations...
Every character should be trying to secure the largest powerbase possible, no matter what stand they intend to take. This is not as easy as it sounds, however, and every player should be acutely aware that a promise made is no sturdier a foundation than the air used to make it. Characters should be seeking the upper hand in the situation, even if it requires blackmailing, coercing, or outright dominating others to their way of thinking.
The game afoot is essentially the greatest political coupe of all time, and the prize is no less than the world itself.
Further Notes For the Storyteller:
This chronicle can be a single story that ends with the revelation of how the players have managed to shape the new world, or it can be the beginning of many more stories. Surely all will not be well on the home front once the new power assumes the mantle of leadership, and all the complaints of the others will not vanish. If you choose to continue the chronicle, an entire arsenal of future plots lays at your command based on those that didn't get what they wanted - and what they intend to do about it.
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