World of Darkness 20th

Introduction

It is the year of our lord 1044. Thirteen people have received a personal invitation to Lord Giovanni’s mansion for a banquet, rarefied entertainments and an unforgettable night. To some, such an invitation is not out of the ordinary, but for others – it is the cause of wonder, perhaps even fear. Why have they come to the attention of a noble from a far distant land? A carriage will be sent to transport them to the Transylvanian Keep of Lord Giovanni on the evening of the 3rd of April. They will stay at the Inn of the Red Lamb overnight, before being summoned to the Lord’s Castle the following evening.

View
Session 1

The Characters are travelling in luxurious horse drawn carriages from all across Europe.

Individually, they arrive at The Red Lamb Inn. One of the first to arrive is Wilfric, a bold young man who is the unwanted and unacknowledged bastard of an English noble. His skills with a sword are outmatched only by his lack of manners, his taste for wine and women, and the elation he feels while spilling noble blood. His initial hopes of a pre-banquette night of drunken debauchery are swiftly dashed when he meets what seems to be a procession of religious figures. Benedict – a studious religious student, Burtold – a monk who travels from region to region selling religious relics and artefacts and Barnabus Spers – a wondering debunker of the supernatural. The only bright points for Wilfric are the arrival of Maria Monomachina (until he learns she is a noble, and will not dally with a mere bastard), Helzabub (witch of a local village), and a mysterious woman named Marianna. He finds a drinking buddy in Frankie – a reformed criminal, looking for a new start in life after fleeing his homeland of England.

They meet the other patrons of the inn: Synovea – an old gypsy woman, Paul – a crippled soldier looking for work, and Brother Clements – a wrathful monk.

Paul approaches the group and introduces himself; he asks if they will introduce him to Lord Giovanni’s steward, because he has heard The Lord is hiring a large number of household soldiers to defend his manse. Meanwhile, Brother Clements rants about the evils that are carried out at Casa Giovanni each night, but (after careful examination of what he has to say) he knows no actual specific details – just rumour and rhetoric about Lord Giovanni cavorting with the devil.

Lothar (Lord Giovanni’s steward) enters the Inn. He is flanked by Roderigo, and two of Giovanni’s men at arms. Lothar ‘introduces’ himself to the characters – this is achieved by stroking their hands, tracing the veins in their wrist, sniffing at them, and even licking the truly unlucky. Wilfric puts in a good word for Paul, and the crippled soldier is taken with Lothar when he leaves.

Brother Clements is unable to contain himself and begins ranting at Lothar for his evil ways, and for being the steward of a man who cavorts with the devil. Brother Clements’ outburst sees him dragged from the Inn, hog tied and left in the stables – until Burtold unties him while Lord Giovanni’s men eventually leave the inn for the night.

Unfortunately, Maria’s poor behaviour and disrespectful attitude result in her invitation being revoked by the Lord’s Steward. He takes much pleasure in telling her that a carriage will be sent for her after the others have departed for the banquette. She is eventually escorted to a carriage – as she steps into the dark carriage she is unaware that a common thug is hiding in the darkness, awaiting her arrival. As she enters the carriage, she is bludgeoned from behind, hog tied, and taken to Casa Giovanni in a most unladylike manner.

The rest of the party, unaware of Maria’s fate, travel to Casa Giovanni, little expecting the night of hellish torture that awaits them. They pass crucified figures of the enemies of Lord Giovanni – Roderigo explains that ‘The lord is a hard task master’. After hours of travelling by carriage, they eventually arrive at the Lord’s castle.

The session ends with them waiting in the main corridor of the castle, awaiting their hosts and their destiny.

View
Session 2

The group are sent into a large, exquisitely decorated and furnished waiting room. They soon notice armed soldiers patrolling the balcony above their heads, after a time they are moved to the banquet hall – where they meet their hosts. They are an unlikely collection of individuals. Some are obviously lords and ladies, some are commoners or of foreign blood, while others are from religious orders. There even seems to be an unfortunate individual afflicted with the pox. The Group are each paired up with a member of their hosts, and each carries out a bizarre, often frightening, test or initiation. These harrowing incidents are ended when a servant interrupts to announce that the banquette is ready to begin.

View
Session 3

The group reconvenes for their meal. The lord’s band of musicians strike up their song and Lord Giovanni enters, Marianna obediently in toe. After taking his seat at the head of the table, he summons Paul to the banquette hall. He is ordered by Lord Giovanni to take a weapon and beat Wilfric. Paul feels he cannot honourably do so, because Wilfric put in a good word for him when he needed it most. Lord Giovanni flies into a rage by this slight. Marchettus the Bold rises, walks to Paul and seizes him roughly by the throat. He beats Paul savagely, leaving the poor young man nothing more than a blood splattered heap upon the ground.

The worst fears of the group are realised with the revelation that they are to be the meal for their ‘hosts’. They are forced to undergo another horrific ordeal – metal collars are fitted around their throats, a dagger plunged into a hole in the collar, and a keg tap fitted. This painful indignity is followed by their hosts gleefully sampling their blood – toasting their successes and the downfall of Japeth and Hardestadt.

An unexpected disturbance heralds an attack by parties unknown. It is swiftly discovered that Hardestadt’s forces are assaulting the castle, and will soon be upon the Conspirators.

They choose to embrace their meals, to serve as a distraction and cover their escape as they slip out of a secret exit. Their parting order to their new children is to defend them. Within a few moments the front door of the banquet hall splinters open and a giant of a man strides into the room, followed by a score of armed men-at-arms and Roderigo.

Roderigo is revealed as a double agent, working for Hardestadt and The Founders. He helps ensure the Group are captured rather than killed. Unfortunately the NPCs attempt to put up a fight and are slaughtered for their arrogance. The only exception is Maria, who was embraced by Lord Giovanni, she vanishes in the confusion of the melee.
The Group are transported all day and most of the following night to Hardestadt’s Castle, for interrogation. The old woman from the Red Lamb is revealed to be Durga Syn – a wise and powerful Kindred. She is the lone voice of reason during The Founders deliberations. She suggests that the Group should be spared and used as spies against their sires. After all, they are the children of The Conspiracy of Isaac. She prophesises that the Group will play an important part in the long and bloody drama that is unfolding, but she is uncertain exactly what part they will play. Her words stir The Founders into sparing the Group and using them as spies.

Some of The Founders strike up conversation with their newest spies. Milov Petrenkov talks to Helzabub. He is happy for the opportunity to discuss recent events with a fellow Gangrel. He speaks of how the animals are disturbed; they are becoming more skittish, as before an earthquake. He doesn’t know what to make of it, but he fears it. He witnessed something similar in 1000ad, when spirits walked the earth and a Maelstrom of dark forces lashed the earth.

Josef von Bauren warns his brother Nosferatu, Benedict, ‘The fellowship of Kindred be hanged. The important thing is to stop these fool abominations’.

Eventually the Group are given new clothes, supplies and fresh, warm blood. They then set off to a known hideout of The Conspiracy of Isaac, with the cover story that they Dominated Rodrigo into taking them there. En route, bandits attack the Group. The mortals cannot long survive the onslaught the Group inflict upon them. One particularly unlucky bandit is taken alive and tortured for information – he reveals that Lothar tipped them off that ‘rich travellers would be coming this way shortly, if we trap and kill them, we could keep their possessions’.

View
Session 4

The Group enter the Inn of the Lion. At first the place seems deserted. After a few moments, their sires reveal themselves. They meet their children, this time they treat them almost as equals; A far cry from their previous ‘meal’ together. Lord Giovanni reluctantly believes their tale of escaping Hardestadt and dominating Roderigo, but he has his doubts about their loyalty. To prove their loyalty, the Group are given a test by Claudius – to take a letter to Japeth Cappadocian asking for a meeting – this will be the cover Claudius needs to diablerize Japeth and restore balance to their clan before their founder, Cappadocian, carries out his bizarre plans to bring life and death together.

The Group leave the Inn and head towards the monastery. En route, they are assaulted by Brother Clements and a handful of Templars. They wield ‘Goliath Killers’ – stones wrapped in rags and soaked in buckets of holy water, which are spun overhead and thrown at Vampires. Even with this secret weapon, they do not last long against the combined powers of the Kindred.

View
Session 5

The Group dispose of the corpses of the Templars by hiding them so they will not be seen by any other travellers. They then travel onwards to the monastery. They are nervous about walking upon consecrated ground – how will it affect them now they are damned? They pluck up the courage to enter and eventually speak to Japeth. They deliver the message, a troubled Japeth feels the need to speak to his sire, cappadocious. The founder of the Cappadocians appears before them, and asks them for an act of contrition – they are to return to the site of the templar’s ambush and give them a Christian burial.

They return, and carry out this request. They are astonished to see the knight’s climb from their shallow graves and begin wordlessly praying. Upon returning, they are given an audience with Cappadocious himself. He speaks to them, but they are not reassured by his words.

Despite his reservations, Japeth agrees to the meeting with Claudius. Cappadocious will not allow a brother of the blood to be turned down in a time of need.

Frankie and Wilfric return to Casa Giovanni. Frankie gathers earth (which he needs to sleep because of his clan weakness), Wilfric searches the Castle, and discovers Paul, he survived his severe beating, but is dying. Wilfric gives him some of his blood, and Paul takes the first step towards becoming Wilfric’s ghouled servant.

Benedict and Helzabub talk to some local animals, convincing them to try to track the movements of the members of the Conspiracy of Isaac. The birds are able to lead them to an abandoned building. Following tracks left by their sire’s fellow Conspiracy members, they eventually come to a large farm compound.

View
Session 6

The Group search the farm compound. They find two buildings which they believe contain Members of the Conspiracy of Isaac.

They barricade the door of the older house, pile straw around two of its sides and Wilfric sets it aflame. Wilfric, Burtold & Benedict hear the sound of children screaming and sobbing, but choose to do nothing to help them, each finds justification for their actions.
Wilfric is able to overwhelm and murder Lady Theophana (with a little help from his cohorts). They also kill two of Lord Bajazet Al-Nasir’s ghouls.

The lady’s high dementation abilities leave Wilfric in a near catatonic state. He is rescued from approaching reinforcements by Benedict, who won the friendship of a horse who had been stabled in the farm. Benedict returned them both to the Cappadocian monastery, where monks tended to Wilfric until his abnormal mental state subsided.

Maria and Burtold make their own way back to the monastery on foot, and are able to arrive slightly before dawn.

Japeth Cappadocian makes an offer to most of the party, he is willing to teach many of them the founding concepts of the Road of Bones, Burtold and Benedict are also offered the opportunity to learn the first level of the Necromancy Discipline, and the Knowledge Thanatology (the practice of preserving corpses, and the metaphysics of death).

View
Session 7

The Group take the opportunity to talk to The Founders. Wilfric spends the night chatting to Adana de Sforza, a powerful Brujah member of The Founders. Benedict seeks the council of Josef von Bauren, a small, hideously deformed Nosferatu. Maria searches the library of the monastery. While reaching for an interesting looking tome, she meets an old monk, Brother Yackmann. They begin a conversation about theology and Maria is able to glean some intriguing facts from the elderly monk. He tells her he is haunted by terrible dreams of a coming maelstrom. He feels that important facts about maelstroms are buried within the book. Maria takes the book with her and studies it whenever possible.

The group travel to the gypsy village Durga Syn calls home. She’s happy to see them, and feels vindicated that her premonition about the Group seems to be coming true. They take the opportunity to talk to her about many subjects, but crucially Maria does not ask her about Maelstroms. As such they do not learn the secrets the wise old kindred knows about them.

The Group travel to the Inn the conspiracy of Isaac use for their meetings. Frankie and Burtold take a disliking to Burtold’s sire – Sire Wenceslas. Frankie reshapes the hooves of the mounts of Lord Giovanni and Sire Wenceslas (to make them easier to track). Meanwhile, Wilfric nearly comes to blows with Frankie’s sire, the Imperious and Haughty Lord Miecyslav. Wilfric’s sire, Marchettus the Bold, steps in to try to calm things before they come to blows.

View
Session 8

Wilfric is troubled by strange dreams – he witnesses the farm building burning again, but this time he is in the fields behind the back of the farm compound. He is not alone; something is there – watching him.

Upon waking, he discusses this with Benedict. Meanwhile, Maria chats with Brother Yackmann – the monk she met a couple of nights ago. He has nothing new to tell her.

Benedict asks Japeth if they may conduct a summoning of a recently passed soul, to reassure him that the practice of Necromancy is not inherently evil. Japeth acquiesces, and arranges a Necromantic summoning in the catacombs of the monastery. The spirit of a recently departed monk is summoned, and Benedict asks it some questions. He is happy to see for himself that the spirit is not in any pain or duress, and he feels reassured that the practice of Necromancy isn’t inherently evil. The spirit of the monk becomes agitated and imparts a warning to Benedict – that something is coming, something that disturbs the forces of the spirit world. He warns Japeth ‘beware the betrayer. Beware!’ before vanishing.

Wilfric returns to the Inn, to meet his sire for sword training. Marchettus the Bold presents Wilfric with one of his two bastard swords while they walk to the edge of the forest besides the Inn. Unbeknownst to The Founders, Benedict has been busy in the forest – he has summoned an owl (One of the animals that helped him track two of the founders to the farm compound), and Ghouled it by feeding it his blood.

As Marchettus and Wilfric began to duel, Benedict gave the word for his newly created owl to attack. It swoops down and attempts to attack Marchettus, but the powerful kindred easily avoids its swooping attack, before dealing it a wicked blow with his bastard sword. Wilfric was waiting for an opportunity to pounce, but he didn’t feel the time was right. Obfuscated, Benedict leaps upon Marchettus’ back and attempts to wrestle him to the ground. Marchettus easily throws Benedict to the ground, but the distraction is enough to allow Wilfric to deal a series of savage blows upon his sire.

Marchettus calls upon his reserves of will and stolen blood to deal with the wounds. As he prepares to deal a death blow to the prone Benedict, the wounded owl flings itself at him. This unexpected attack catches Marchettus completely by surprise – the savage creature uses its newly gifted strength to pluck an eye from Marchettus’ head. This grievous wound distracts Marchettus long enough for his childe to physically overwhelm him and drive a stake through his heart. As Marchettus slips into Torpor he balefully stares at his childe and managed to say ‘coward’. Wilfric drains his sire dry of the last vestiges of his vitae, then continues to suck, until he consumed the very soul of Marchettus. The corpse of his former sire withers into nothing more than a pile of dust, to be blown away by the wind. Wilfric and Benedict took his few worldly possessions, including his horse. As Wilfric consumes the soul of his sire, Benedict offers the owl enough of his blood to heal itself of the wounds inflicted upon it. He names the bird Minerva, and keeps it as his Ghoul.

During this time, Maria was stalking the night for prey of her own. She searches the lonely, windswept roads for something, or rather someone, that suits her specific needs. She happens upon a dying man lying in the side of a lane. He tells her that he is a disposed earl. He had been ousted from power by his brother many years ago. He was attacked by brigands and left for dead while travelling to a meeting of locals to build support for a popular uprising to restore him to power in the region of Galtre. Before dying, he tells Maria that his daughter is at the Inn of the Lion, his last request was for her to deliver his signet ring, the only worldly possession he was able to hide from the brigands, to his daughter.

Maria travelled to the inn. After talking to the nobleman’s daughter, she discovered that the young woman had no inkling of the identities of the people who were supposed to lead this uprising, or even her own uncle’s name. Maria decided such a simpleton didn’t deserve to live, and slew her – by consuming her life’s blood, and stealing her possessions; a beautiful hairbrush and hand mirror, and three exquisite ball gowns.
They return to the monastery, to sleep away the daylight hours in safety. But they are each troubled by powerful nightmares; Wilfric’s seems especially troublesome. Benedict and Wilfric discuss what they can do to resolve this puzzling problem, while Maria pretends she was unaffected. Benedict and Wilfric agree to return to the farm compound, to visit the site of their dreams. Maria feigns indifference. After they depart, she discreetly follows them from a distance.

When they near the farmland, Benedict sends Minerva the owl to search the area, but she doesn’t check the path behind them, so she is unaware of Maria. She sees nothing she deems important and tells her master so. Wilfric boldly strides forward, and Benedict obfuscates; all the better to watch his friend’s back. While keeping watch from his vantage point, Benedict spots an unexpected figure – Maria. He creeps behind and grabs her. She keeps her cool, swiftly grabbing him by the testicles and begins squeezing. After a tense moment, they agree to release one another.

Wilfric returns to the site of his nightmares, where he discovers a large old oak tree with a pagan alter carved into it. Figures crafted from straw and carved wood are scattered about the altar. Offerings of food surround the tree. Someone has desecrated the altar.

Behind the tree is a family graveyard. It is obvious that many generations of the farmer’s family are buried here. Wilfric calls the others over. They notice that the children they saw burned to death in the fire are not buried here.

Benedict begins digging up one of the oldest graves, as he is doing this he notices the wind intensifying in a most unnatural way. He stops digging, but the wind intensifies further still. He begins piling the dirt back on the grave, but the wind increases more and more. Benedict turns around and discovers he is standing in a field. Rows of plants bearing succulent fruit and vegetables stand either side of him, blocking his path. A large ominous figure stares at him from the distance. It watches him, waiting.

Wilfric and Maria find themselves in the same place, surrounded by rows of plants, being watched by the figure, but unable to see one another. Maria begins to consecrate the ground, but her attempts are stymied by the growing winds buffeting her, making it almost impossible for her to speak. Benedict experiments by walking backwards, then forwards, to see how the strange figure will respond. A heartbeat later, the creature stands behind him, his voice coming from the winds rustling through the undergrowth of the hedgerows.

The entity blames the group for what has happened to the farmers. It reveals that the family were pagans, that for generations they lived on the lands, worshipping the old gods and leaving many offerings. Since their children died, the family have lost their faith. They have turned their backs on the old gods, embraced Christianity and moved away – to escape the constant reminders of their loss.

The figure will only forgive the group if they perform three tasks. The first of which is to find a pagan family to move into the farm, work the land and honour the elder gods. He will not tell them what the remaining tasks are until the first is completed.

View
Session 9

The Group set off to Durga Syn’s village, to ask if she knows of any pagans looking for a new home. They find Durga Syn inside her hut, making healing poultices for the villagers. She is delighted to see the Group, and chats with them about what has occurred since last they met. Maria mentions her on-going research into maelstroms. Durga Syn elaborates on Maria’s discoveries thus far. She warns the Group that a soul storm is coming that threatens both the lands of the dead and the living. Furthermore, she explains that Giovanni is planning not only to diablerize Japeth, but to trap his soul. To accomplish this, Giovanni will require an animal, directly after the diablerie he will bind Japeth’s soul to the animal’s body. This must not be allowed to occur. His plan may be thwarted by spilling the blood of a Giovanni on the animal’s body before the diablerie takes place. She reminds the Group that Marianna was embraced by Giovanni at the time of their creation. If she can be found, her blood may be used to thwart Giovanni’s plans.

The Group discuss their nightmares with the wise old kindred, and ask if there is any way they can protect themselves from having their dreams hijacked in the future. Durga Syn doesn’t know of any methods to accomplish this, but she recommends that they team speak to a Malkavian, as they deal with madness, dreams, illusions and delusions – so a skilled Malkavian may be able to help. She also shares her thoughts on the entity – she believes it is a member of the Fae; a powerful spirit attached to one of the four Fae courts. These courts are based upon the seasons of the year. The Spring and Autumn courts are most likely to pay attention to the lands of humans, so she believes the entity belongs to one of these two courts.

Durga Syn informs the Group of a band of homeless travellers that she believes are pagan. They have been driven from their lands by Lord Giovanni. They are making temporary residence in a forest an hour’s ride from the village. She gives the Group some of her healing poultices as a gift for the pagans. They will recognise the pungent odour and know the Group can be trusted. Benedict helps her with the preparation of the poultices, because of this she is able to make more poultices than usual and makes a gift of these extra poultices to Benedict.

Benedict opts to travel to the farm to ensure it is ready for the villagers and to see if there is anything the Group missed last time. After travelling to the forest and following a trail deeper into the woods, the Group find the makeshift camp of the dispossessed villagers. The camp seems deserted, but the more perceptive members of the group call out to the villagers until a spokesperson emerges. The villagers are delighted at the opportunity the Group present to them; they are packed up and ready to travel within the hour.

When Benedict sees the villagers being led by Wilfric and Maria, he obfuscates and watches them from the treeline. The villagers are delighted by their new lands, and promise to continue worshipping the old gods and tend the land.

While Benedict, Wilfric and Maria busy themselves with the entity’s demand, Burtold follows up on something he and Frankie set in motion a few nights previously. But first, he disguises himself and frightens some locals, guiding them to a nearby monastery – so as to alert the Templars to the vampires nearby. Next, he follows one of the modified horse tracks – and discovers the daytime dwelling place of Sire Wenceslas. It is the Monastery of St Stephen (the same monastery about which Maria was able to get detailed information, from one of the Templars who attacked the Group with Brother Clement some time ago). This is the same monastery he guided the frightened villagers just a few hours earlier. He accidentally alerts the guards, and decides discretion is the better part of valour, so he retreats for the night.

The following morning, the Group have a strange dream. As before, they are surrounded by lush trees bearing fruit and vegetables. The entity is observing them still, but it seems less hostile than before. It tells them that it is pleased with their efforts, and gives them their second task. They are to travel to the bridge of stone and brass, an hour’s ride south from the farm, and step upon the bridge ‘when the shadows of the tallest trees touch the end of the bridge’. Then, walk along the shadows to be transported to the spirit realm version of the bridge and slay Redteeth – a foul creature that lives under the bridge. It delights in torture and murder; especially when it involves children.

The following night, the group discuss what to do: Should they attempt to slay Redteeth now? Should they search for Marianna? Should they follow up on the information about the lair of Sire Wenceslas? Eventually it is decided – they will focus on the most important of the three tasks – discovering the whereabouts of Marianna before the meeting at the Cappadocian monastery tomorrow.

They return to Giovanni’s mansion – where they were deceived, abused, brutalised and eventually turned into vampires by the conspiracy of Isaac. Paul elects to stay outside, he cannot bear to return to the place where he was beaten and left for dead. The Group find evidence that Marianna followed the Conspiracy, and made her way to a main road. Unfortunately, they lose her track at the road, and elect to follow up on the second of the entity’s tasks and slay Redteeth. They follow the Fae creature’s directions, and find themselves standing on a bizarre reimagining of the bridge of stone and brass. What was once a small bridge which would struggle to hold two carriages side-by-side is now the largest bridge the Group have ever seen. It stretches off into the distance, disappearing into the horizon. Flickering fires are housed overhead in brass braziers. As they glance around, a deep rumbling laughter emanates from under the bridge. A huge corpse white fist slams onto the ground from underneath the bridge. Redteeth hauls itself into view. It easily stands 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide, with dark, disgusting tusks and horns protruding at obscene angles from its squat face. Its immense gut drags upon the ground between its obese legs. Some of the Group attempt to talk to Redteeth, but find it has a one track mind – food.

Redteeth hauls a massive weapon in front of it. The object is immense, battered, broken and rusted. Redteeth heaves the immense sword over its gut while eyeing the Group hungrily. As it lumbers towards them, Benedict runs towards it and dives between its legs, somehow squirming past its gut to come up behind it. Wilfric unleashes a dazzling flurry of blows, and Paul, his ghoul, joins in the fray – giving Redteeth a wicked wound across its gut. Even Maria produces her dainty dagger and joins the fray. She is unable to pierce the foul, corpulent flesh of Redteeth, but her presence is a distraction it can ill afford. Bertold uses his powers of Domination to cause Redteeth to stumble in fear, reducing its ability to fight.

Redteeth screams its anger while attempting to bring its weapon down upon Paul’s head, luckily the crippled ghoul scrambles out of the way, and a flurry of sparks shower the group as Redteeth’s weapon glances off the stone floor. Wilfric takes this attempted assault upon his ghoul personally, and cleaves through Redteeth’s arm. The severed appendage flops upon the ground. Foul ichor gushing from its stump.

Minerva, benedict’s ghoul owl, circles overhead, looking for an opportunity to strike, but sees no such opening. Benedict lunges at Redteeth from behind, but his punches glance off its fat hide. Wilfric senses Redteeth is struggling to cope with the unexpected ferocity of the assault and launches a punishing assault upon the monstrous creature. With a huge effort he rams his bastard sword through its throat, neatly separating its squat head from its foul body.

The creature collapses upon the ground, a flood of rotten ichor spilling from its corpse. Chunks of fat and rotting meat float in its foul blood. Some of the braver members of the party decide to sample its blood. They find it makes their Disciplines easier to perform or more effective.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.