Berlin by Night
FULL DISCLOSURE - Introductory adventure (Serpent Heart)
Introductory adventure (Serpent Heart)
- The campaign will begin with a car being sent to each character, taking him from his sire with the only words of explanation being, “On behalf of the Prince I have been sent to ensure that the fledgling, [kindred’s name] now pay his respects as is proper in accordance with the tradition of Hospitality.”
- The kindred will be driven around for a good hour, any kindred with knowledge of the city might notice that the driver seems to be going in circles or seems to have no certain destination in mind, though he is primarily heading west and they will wind up at Glienicke palace. Peter Kleist will see them into the palace where they will be brought to a security room to be thoroughly searched for weaponry or bugs.
- From in that room they will be able to see multiple monitors, most of them showing the palace grounds with various armed men walking about in severe dark suits. One monitor will show two gentlemen who seem to be in deep discussion, each of them sitting on fine wing-backed leather chairs and each sipping from crystal goblets of blood (there is no sound on the monitor). Any making a DC 8 perception check will notice two feet barely visible from behind a counter. This is a staked settite.
- For the next two hours they will get to hear Peter Kleist confer with his guards speaking through head sets. Every now and then he will turn off the monitor offering a view of the princes, but will turn it back on again a few moments later.
- About two and a half hours before dawn the coterie will be brought in to meet the princes. They will go over the formalities of introduction, with each prince trying to seem in command without seeming like squabbling children. They refrain from using presence or other such disciplines in each others’ company. Peter and Timur will be on hand as well, though they will remain quiet unless any are rude to his respective prince.
- With formalities out of the way the princes will leave, letting Peter Kleist explain that he believes that a priceless art artifact, a piece that brings much pride to the city, is in danger of being stolen. Starting tomorrow night and for perhaps the next week the coterie will be placed in charge of guarding the bust of Nefertiti. The group will sleep the following day in comfort at the Palace (both princes will leave but a young venture, Rochus, will stay and make sure that the group gets everything they require.
- At no point will it be let on that some fear that the bust may contain the ancient heart of Nefertiti herself, a daughter of Set. At the end of the week the statue will be boxed and transported (under guard) to the Bode Museum where they possess the technology to determine whether anything is stored within the bust. In actuality, 5 different faux busts are being escorted to various museums throughout the city. The actual bust is being transported underground through various methods, under guard from several toreador and their retainers.
- At one point, while Wilhelm is entertaining the visiting Ravnos Natalia, the group will notice Johann watching them, and his eyes will flash a golden hue for a brief instant. When alerted, Wilhelm will give Natalia a playfully scolding look and warn her to stop using her chimestry in Elysium, an accusation which she will just as playfully deny.
The Aset Ka
- Before leaving to transport the bust the group will be assigned the task of seeing it there safely, they will be told to escort one of the busts (which they will assume to be the true bust) eastward along a vacated ubahn tunnel until the tunnel junctions with the active ubahn tracks somewhere below the Kreuzberg district. From there they will be on their own as to how they bring the bust to the Bode. Their purpose for this is unknown. Of all these false busts the one the coterie is transporting is leaving the museum first and most publicly.
- The stretch of ubhan track is a ghostly passage, wide and dark; what remains of the tracks are twisted and littered with filth, debris and gathered rain water. The ceiling overhead often times seems unstable and marked with decay and signs of weakness, and empty stations seem like ghost towns, often peppered with forests of columns and unused kiosks, the countless shadows of which could hide untold dangers. Rats and other vermin skitter away, their claws and squeaks echoing like those of ghouls through catacombs.
- Be it paranoia or justified fear, but there will be sounds, sights or shadows that imply the group is being followed, they will have the sense they are being trailed the entire way, which they are, but from a very safe distance.
- The actual ubahn tracks runs very near to these old lines at times and every 6-12 minutes the thundering of a train passing in tunnels below or adjacent will cause the earth to shake, debris and dust from the ceiling will rain down, cloaking them in a mist of powdered concrete and wreaking havoc on those activating the auspex discipline.
- An aside: The coterie will pass a group of five vagrants sitting around a small fire, heating up canned sausages and shooting up heroin. These wastes of humanity reek of dirt, urine, booze and stale sex. Those with heightened smells might catch the burnt smell of a crack pipe or those with superior sight might detect the needle tracks marring the flesh of dirty, wrinkled flesh.
- As the coterie comes into view one of the vagrants will call out to them, asking, “Did ya come down to see Marlena?” If the group inquires into Marlena they can discover she’s a “tasty bit of sweets guaranteed to stick to the roof of yer mouth and fill your ears with screams of bliss.” The vagrants are offering an hour of Marlena’s time for 100 marks.
- If the group pursues this at all they can discover that Marlena is a 9 year old little girl (Sabina Janker) recently abducted from her school in Tiergarten. Sabina is currently being held in an abandoned ubahn car in a mostly obscured and forgotten side tunnel.
- If the group looks into locating Marlena they can find an obscured entrance into the old tunnel behind a large aluminum beer sign partly hanging on the wall. The ubahn car has been stripped clean on the inside save for a handicap railing. A dirty, smelly mattress rests in the center of the car along with little Sabina cuffed to the railing, dressed and made up like a pin-up model.
- If the group spend the time to help Sabina they may spend xp to raise their humanity or conscious; however, the Aset Ka cultists will be able to move ahead of the group and lay in wait for them at an advantageous spot.
- Along the way a group will make a run at the bust. Well trained members of the Aset Ka will assault the group in as stealthy a manner possible. These mortals are fanatically dedicated to their cult and will gladly lay their lives on the line for their beliefs, knowing a ritual has been performed on them that will grant re-birth.
- They will have tattoos of ankhs or other Egyptian symbols, particularly those sacred to Isis, crocodiles, scorpions, lotus flowers, winged female. Only two of the 8 knife wielders will be ghouls and each of these will bear a “dark mark,” a scarab beetle engraved into their wrists.
- These knives will each be blessed by a theurgist of the cult and has been coated with a mixture of lotus extract, pitch, sacred ash and the foul blood of a sacrificed assamite. The first strike from these blades will be at fortitude roll difficulty 7 or be at -2 dice until these wounds are healed.
The 36 Boys
- Shortly after the attack by the Aset Ka the group will hear the throbbing pulse of music ahead. Loud Turkish metal is blaring from an abandoned ubahn station where members of the 36 Boys are gathering to celebrate their merger with a smaller local Turkish gang, Simseklers (thunder in Turkish).
- There is some drinking, plenty of hash, acid and heroin (the gang’s primary import and money-maker).
- The group can decide to handle this any way they want, anyone who speaks Turkish can handle themselves ok with the group and allow the group to pass through without incident with a charisma + streetwise check difficulty 8 (as you are trespassing on their area). Failing this roll results in being warned to turn around, botching this roll will lead to a fight, but the Turks will not pursue if the characters flee. Three successes or more will lead the boys to assume the speaker is a member or a friend to the 36 boys, though they are unlikely to remember him.
- Those wishing to intimidate their way through must succed at a manipulation + intimidation also difficulty 8. Failing this will result in a fight, botching this roll will mark the player as an enemy of the 36 boys until he is able to undo that damage. Three or more successes will impress the hell out of the gang members, just at the sheer balls to so forcefully and boldly present yourself despite the numbers.
- Other than several boom boxes, some rows of chairs still partially intact, and a few tipped over cigarette machines there are also many grated trash cans with small fires within them to illuminate the area.
- The leader of this particular group of 36 Boys is the cagey old veteran of the streets and the gang wars, Ilhan, a 33 year old Turk with sheared hair and a wild look in his blue eyes. He acts as if he is high or fucked up on something as he holds long-bladed and highly polished knives in each hand and he waves them around carelessly, and he is prone to accidentally slicing people. It is Ilhan who will have to give the word to let the coterie pass. Ilhan is a ghoul to the Malkavian, Aytac (Ozzie). If he sees any signs that the group are vampires, he will report back to Aytac about all that transpires here, also he will call off his boys and allow the group to safely pass through.
- If any in the group discovers that Ilhan is a ghoul and try to enlist his aid, he can be persuaded with a charisma + leadership roll at a difficulty of 7. He will send three gang members per success on this roll with the group to act as guardians. But he will consider the group to be in his debt.
At the Bode
- Upon arriving at the Bode Museum a ghouled retainer will bring the group around back to an enclosed loading and unloading bay along the river. Waiting there will be the East Berlin Toreador elder Thomas DeLutrius.
- DeLutrius will see that the crate is safely inside where it will be set down in a warehouse beside two identical crates, each opened with packing straw and stuffing hanging out. Thomas will personally crack open the crate, remove the bust of Nefertiti with obvious awe and excitement, he will then be about to address the group when a second retainer will announce, “There is a gentleman by the name of Gustav on the phone for you Sire.”
- Thomas will be away on the phone for several minutes in another room, the group is free to talk or mill about the warehouse but the two retainers present will ask that they not enter the museum itself or leave.
- When Thomas returns his expression will seem troubled and he will insist that the group follow him, the prince wants to see all of them. Together the group will leave Museum Island on foot and travel along Unter Den Linden to the Berlin Palace, where Gustav waits.
Meeting with Gustav
- Antoinette has contacted Gustav with the information that two works of art are missing from the West Berlin Egyptian Museum, gustav has brought Thomas and the coterie to him to subtly question them about the missing works.
- He will begin politely enough, asking about their time as guardians of Nefertiti, asking if any other works of art caught their interest and asking if they feel they’ve earned their right to remain citizens of Berlin’s night-parade.
- He will then ask about their journey from the Egyptian Museum to the Bode, and will pick them for all details. Anyone withholding evidence from Gustav will most likely be discovered, either from the prince himself or through Thomas DeLutrius who will be present during this questioning.
- If the prince, at any time, has reason to believe that any or all kindred are withholding information from him, he will have the Komissar sent for to more thoroughly and painfully question the whelps.
- If all goes smoothly Gustav will relate to the group the information about the two missing pieces, the blue hedgehog guardian statuette and the Spirit-frog figurine. He will show the group photos of each and ask what they know about these missing treasures. He will also relate to Thomas, Antoinette’s implication that DeLutrius is responsible for the theft.
- Timur will be present during these conversations at some point and his questioning of the party will be more thorough and accusatory. At some point, if the coterie seems to be withholding information, he may even lead the coterie down to a dead end in a parking garage’s basement level where a team of four ghouls armed with flame throwers will be waiting behind steel doors with muzzle slits.
- The coterie will be told to retrieve the stolen art works and return them to DeLutrius so he can see them safely stowed in the Bode or Pergamon Museum’s Egyptian galleries.
The Investigation Begins
- The coterie returns to Charlottenberg Palace where they are made to wait until about 10:45. The sires present will inform them that the West Berlin Primogen is currently meeting. After the meeting Anntoinette and Peter Kleist will send for the coterie to meet them in a council chamber – Hans Vroenick will arrive roughly 20 minutes after.
- Before Peter summons the group a retainer will present himself to Gregor letting him know that his sire is waiting to see him in the sub-levels of the palace. Gregor will be led to the familiar council room near the apartments, Rasputin and Wilhelm await and at this time Rasputin will formally introduce Gregor to the prince, ending his time as a fledgling and ending Rasputin’s responsibility for the young vamp.
- Peter will calmly chastise the group for leaving drained bodies where they could be found, he will inform them that they should thank Stefan Rutigar for handling their mess and that any punishment they receive will be at the hands of their sires, seeing as their sire’s will face Prince Wilhelm’s ire for failing to teach you the basics of the Masquerade. He will let slip that at least one primogen member has approached the prince requesting those in error for this breach meet the final death according to Jus Noctis (The Law of the Night – wherein fledglings are said to be beholden to their sires and their sires responsible for their transgressions).
- Anntoinette will put away her ultra-kind façade and take on her customary personality as an unfeeling ice queen. Hans will watch quietly but will give sympathetic looks to the coterie from time to time. Peter will show firmness and disappointment but will not hold the group responsible for what happened. He will be curious why they are so eager to investigate the stolen art work, and he will ask each kindred their reasoning, possibly privately.
- If the coterie convinces these elders to let them pursue the investigation (which might include convincing their sires) they will allow the group to view the surveillance tapes from the night of the 7th but will not let the group leave with the tapes in their possession.
- The coterie will be given their old suits and resume their role as investigators hired by an insurance firm. Across the street at the Egyptian Museum three gentlemen are currently waiting to be questioned in separate offices. The night time guard commander Helmut Knoppler and a long-serving guard Friedrich Schmidt; however the elders will be wary about allowing the group to investigate this matter until they get assurances that all information will be shared with the West Berlin primogen and that all retrieved art works will be returned to the museum from which they were taken.
- The tape will show a group of eight armed men swarming into an unlocked front door at the Egyptian museum seconds after the Malkavian Gretchen Pfeffer arrives. One gun man holds a guard hostage at the front entrance (A newly hired guard named Erik Grauber – Kord’s ward), while three others fan out on the ground floor making all guards lie face down at gun point. The other four make a bee-line to the old stables, seemingly grabbing at random the first two hand-sized items they came across. Helmut will explain that he hired a few new guards and rotated the positioning of the guards to keep them fresh and alert.
- Peter will let the group know that they will not be permitted to question kindred. He does not want to offend or insult any residents of Berlin by forcing them to respond to fledgling vampires. He also is worried the kindred will manipulate the coterie into serving them – but he will not say as much (Man+Sub 1 on 3 dice). The West Berlin Primogen has decided that Hans Vroenick will do the questioning, the coterie will have to submit their questions to Hans and he will inform them of answers – mostly via fax.
- What Helmut has to say: Explains his reasons for re-assigning guards. He wanted to avoid the possibility that they might take things easy with the company-team departing. He hired an extra guard so he could put his best man (Schmidt) on an all-night vigil with Nefertiti. He admits that he made an error assigning the rookie to watch the main entryway and should have explained better the necessity of re-arming the alarm after each late night visitor. Helmut was at the video consoles (Man+Sub: 2 successes on 6 dice).
- What Helmut knows: Helmut is neck deep in this plot. About three month ago a very attractive young Portuguese woman (Octavia) moved into the apartment across the hall from his. The two struck up a friendship and eventually became lovers. For a man in his mid forties the young, energetic and sexually creative woman was intoxicating and very quickly he felt as if he was in love with her. Gradually she got him to become more and more adventurous, experimenting with drugs, going to wild clubs and even minor crimes. Soon enough she convinced him to take part in this museum heist, promising that after one night they could make off with millions worth then fly away to Brazil together. He was told that she would contact him within a week.
- What Schmidt has to say: Told Helmut is was not a good idea to move him from his usual place. He knows he is sometimes lax with the alarm, but he certainly could have done better than some old-timer rookie. When he heard the commotion downstairs he figured that someone was really making for Nefi, so he drew his firearm and took a position in the room waiting to fire on anyone coming to claim the bust. Within 1 minute the crew from downstairs had sounded the alarm.
- What Schmidt knows:
- What Grauber has to say: The guy who grabbed me was a pipe smoker, I could smell the Wintergold blend of tobacco that I have smoked from time to time. Good quality stuff that I can’t afford any longer. Clothes looked like off the rack sweats and stocking mask, black sneakers – Adidas I believe, probably about size 10 – black socks. He was covered up but what skin I did see had an olive complexion. I was able to see his wrist watch, high quality Tag Heur Pilot’s model probably from the mid 80’s. Sucker must have cost about 500 bucks back then. Collector’s item so if he bought it recently he might have paid as much as 7 to a grand. Real nice time piece. He was about an inch shorter than me, so 5’ 10” probably weighs about 160 to 175. Right handed, strong, firm and athletic but a bit fidgety and didn’t seem fully comfortable with a gun. This happens ten years ago and I wipe the floor with this scumbag, but given my slowed reflexes,my back problems and the gun at my head I decided to let things play out. Only spoke a few times, Middle eastern or North African accent, but good German, may have been educated here.
- What Grauber knows: Grauber has told all he knows in great detail. He was looking for part time work to give him some extra cash and to fix his boredom, didn’t expect to be hired as a guard at his age, but it was what he wanted to do. Has no comment concerning whether he feels it was an inside job or set up, says he doesn’t know his place of work or fellow employees well enough to make that determination. He’d like to keep his job but understands that he may well be terminated for failing to re-arm the alarm (Man+Sub 1 on 7 dice). . He was given a reference from Friedrich Schmidt, but he will not mention this, but if his application is looked at it will easily be discovered. If mentioned he will say he has played some chess with Schmidt on weekends in the Tiergarten. (Man+Sub 3 on 7 dice).
- What Gretchen has to say: She received a message from a man saying he worked for Rochus Strokirch. The man said that Rochus wanted to meet her at the Egyptian Museum at 10 PM to discuss her ongoing investigation. Gretchen was on the third floor looking for Rochus when the commotion occurred. She hid back in one of the corner rooms for nearly twenty minutes, only coming out when she heard Peter Kleist’s voice in the hallway.
- What Gretchen knows: Gretchn is highly confused, she is still under the belief that Rochus has information for her, which he does not. She knows the voice on the phone did not belong to the Ventrue, but she figured it was a retainer who made the call.
- What Rochus has to say: Rochus was at an engagement from 9 until midnight; he received Peter’s paige around 10:30 but did not respond until near midnight. After a call with Peter he returned to West Berlin to answer some questions. Rochus was with the Tremere Dominique St. Pierre and the Brujah Leo Petrov at Humboldt University.
- What Rochus knows: Rochus honestly knows nothing about all of this, he is annoyed to be being dragged back into the museum fiasco. He assumes that one of the fledglings and/or their sire(s) is behind this.
- Through researching tattoos and marks of cultists in subway tunnel or by following Helmut’s lead, the group will learn of the Aset Ka; with enough leg work they may even discover the remaining few of a cell located in Spandau, but this will take some doing.
- The kindred authorities will be having agencies monitor airports and keep an eye open for this Octavia, but as she is not on a current watch-list or wanted for any crimes in Germany, it is unlikely they will get a read on her or find video footage of her at an airport or train station unless it can be determined if and when she left.
- At some point in the investigation the group will be approached by a waiter, attendant or other such lackey with a message to meet Mr. Denarsson for information about art. Denarsson and his associate can be found at the Junction bar, which is featuring DJ Raw-D with his blend of hip hop, soul and electronic. The junction bar is in the basement, below the junction café, it is a candlelit room with black and red furnishings. The club is located on Gneisenaustrauss in Kreuzberg, West Berlin.
- The two Misters will be at a candle-less table in the back of the bar, each nursing a beverage. They will present the group with their offer then wait for the band’s next break. At that time they will exit the room through the curtain and go to a room backstage leading to a staircase going up to the streets. At the top of this staircase a latino man who claims he is the band’s roadie will bar any from exiting, he claims the band’s van is parked back there and is loaded with expensive equipment. He is physically seated with his back against the door to keep any from opening it and following the Misters without physically moving him. This, of course, is Mr. Merham.
- A night after this encounter Heinrich and Garek will receive the letter from the lawyer.