Radio Free America
A Chronicle Concept for Vampire: The Masquerade
created and run by yours truly
Any small American city
located between a major Sabbat
city and a major Camarilla
city. I used Bellingham
(the city where the chronicle was being played) as it meets those requirements quite nicely -- it's right between Vancouver, Canada
and Seattle, Washington
. The Kindred population
should be of moderate size -- no more than twenty-five individuals.
The city in which the characters make their home is affiliated with neither the Camarilla nor the Sabbat. It has no set rules, and no fixed ruler, only individuals who are more or less powerful than others, and occasionally make alliances. The city was once Camarilla; the last Prince was diablerized, and Anarchs overran the city a decade ago.
The Camarilla used to have this city; it wants it back. The Sabbat wants this city because of its strategic location between the nearest sect stronghold and a fat, juicy Camarilla town. Each sect, not wanting to commit itself immediately until it knows the situation better, and wanting to conserve its resources for the primary
target, sends an emissary or two to try and convince the city's population
to join one side or another. Failing that, the emissaries must use any means necessary to ensure that their sect takes the city.
The big theme
of this chronicle is freedom
. The characters have lived free from the stricture
s of Sabbat and Camarilla for years. They might chose to fight for their freedom, or take a chance on one side or another, but no matter what they do, their lives will be affected.
The NPCs who act as the two sect emissaries are particularly important in the motivation of the characters. If both emissaries seem equally unpleasant (the Sabbat too bloody, the Camarilla too stodgy) the characters will be inspired to try to retain their freedom. Otherwise, the storyteller can make the choice fairly obvious (I would warn against this, as it would make for a dull chronicle!).
There will be tremendous opportunity for double and triple dealing, as characters and NPCs try to play both sides. Also, there will be desperation and fear -- after all, how can a tiny group of Anarchs, cut off from other Anarch cities, stand against the might of the major sects?
Stage One: Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt
-- The characters learn of the impending arrival of the emissaries. Opportunity for discussion and creation of alliances before the big guns
Stage Two: Contact -- The emissaries arrive. They might ignore one another; they might break into a bloody fight then and there -- it's up to the storyteller. The characters get to meet them.
Stage Three: Decision -- The characters will probably decide what side they are on at some point. Meanwhile, the emissaries bring their diplomatic and temporal resources to bear on the city, trying to force the inhabitants one way or another. Each emissary circles the other, seeking a weak point, using both player-characters and NPC's as tools in a long political battle.
Stage Four: Détente -- The city hangs in the balance, or falls one way or another, Camarilla or Sabbat. It's unlikely that it will be able to remain Anarch. Depending on decisions made, the characters might find themselves exalted as new rulers of the city... or destroyed.
Assamite: This whole thing looks like one big business opportunity. The Assassins will do what they're paid to do, no more, no less.
Brujah: The Brujah of the city will be incensed by the thought of sect rule. This clan will staunchly support freedom. On the other hand, every Brujah looks out for herself, and you never know what you might accomplish given a suitably tantalizing offer.
Followers of Set: A city of easy pickings! The poor little lambs will be dazed and confused. Let them hold onto the tail of the snake, and let it carry their dreams of freedom for them, until it can lead them into the jaws... of whatever side it feels like currying the favor of. Just don't end up in charge. That'd be very bad.
Gangrel: The woods sound nice right about now, don't they? Let the Brujah sort it out. On the other hand, what was the old saw about "not in my backyard"?
Giovanni: Independent cities tend to be friendlier to Giovanni, and thus it is to the Giovanni's advantage to preserve the status quo. Taking the opportunity to curry favor from the sect emissaries wouldn't be bad, either.
Lasombra: The inhabitants of this city are misguided, and the Lasombra feel they will be needed as shepherds to guide them into the arms of Caine. What Lasombra wouldn't want to be at the spearhead of such a spiritual quest, with such obvious temporal benefits? I recommend the Sabbat emissary be a member of this clan.
Malkavian: Depending on their mood, the pattern of birds in the town square, and the bloody-mindedness of their derangements, the Malkavians could go either way -- or clinch the winnings for any side, 'accidentally' or not.
Nosferatu: Again, this is a marvelous business opportunity. The emissaries will need the services of the Nosferatu, as will the residents. No matter who wins, this clan will stand to gain.
Toreador: Anarchs. Ungrateful, uncultured creatures. They're in desperate need of some culture -- and whether that culture will take the form of skin-paintings or marble sculpture depends on the individual. Or they may sit back and watch as this dramatic story unfolds. As an emissary, Toreador would make obvious but surprisingly poor choices, as they are so prone to listening to the heart rather than the head.
Tremere: The likelihood of any Tremere being in this city is quite slim. Anarch Tremere are rare, and any such creatures would have fled as soon as they learned that either sect had a serious interest in the city. However, a Tremere wouldn't be a bad choice for a Camarilla emissary. Their legendary organizational skills, their thaumaturgical ability, their deadly craftiness, and their tendency to win (or at least survive) against impossible odds would lend an advantage. On the other hand, the Tremere reputation can be off-putting to the average Anarch... not to mention the Tremere attitude. And if a Tremere is sent to take a city, that Tremere will claim praxis upon victory. Who in the Camarilla really wants that?
Tzimisce: Anarchs make fit subjects for experimentation. The Tzimisce will likely look forward to dealing with the prisoners, and otherwise leave things up to the rest of the sect.
Ventrue: Of all the Camarilla clans, the Ventrue will be the most gung-ho for taking the city in the Camarilla's name. They know that the Anarchs cannot stand against the Sabbat, and if the city is going to fall, it is better that it be to the Camarilla. As for the Ventrue antitribu, they too will seek the city for their own sect -- for the same reasons.
Character and Group Cohesion
Who knows which side the players will choose? The Storyteller
might be faced with a divided group, and distrust between the PC
s will flourish. This can make for interesting role-playing
, but it will make the storyteller's job difficult.
On the other hand, the PCs might band together against the overwhelming odds, and guide the direction of the city's rebirth. Working together will be the only way for characters to keep the city free for any great length of time. Of course, fractiousness amongst the local population will make the emissaries' jobs harder as well -- how can you lead those who refuse to decide who to follow?
A Final Note
This chronicle was originally designed as a LARP
for 20-30 people
. While it adapts nicely to tabletop
, it works most elegantly in a live-action setting