Monday, April 20, 2020

Vampire: The Pandemic

So... the first episode of the Vampire: The Masquerade Chronicle. This was supposed to be a nuanced exploration of how a group of Kindred might manage in the midst of an epidemic. Except that, well, this is this group so... no. It's going to be chaos.

The Cast:
Willard: Brujah, Professional Wrestler/Luchador, ex-soldier.
Mario: Toreador, Professional Wrestler/Luchador, background still unclear.
Jack Grey: Tremere, stage magician, was a stage magician in mortal life too.
Bianca: Opera Singer, very rich, also a Toreador.

The Scene:
We open with Willard, a professional wrestler, in his house in the suburbs with one of his wrestling buddies, Austin "The Chaos" Watts - bright blue dreadlocks, the word Chaos tattooed across his chest. He doesn't look too good tonight. Chaos has a bit of trouble in the middle of a bench press, and says he isn't feeling well. Willard looks him over, flubs a medicine roll, and decides that clearly what he needs for medication is... women. So Willard drags Chaos out to the truck and tries to swing by the service station for some Red Bull; it's closed. He heads to the grocery store instead.

The grocery store is doing distancing and there's a guy in front of the store. "Where's you mask?" Willard returns to the truck and grabs a Luchador mask, which happens to be sufficient to cover his mouth, and gets waved in; he buys red bull and gatorade and gets Austin hydrated and hyped up and heads to the club and-- it's closed.

Willard: "Oh, shit. Whoa." He calls his other, vampiric wrestling buddy: Mario. "We got a real problem. Austin's going to die if he doesn't get laid, and the club's closed!"

Mario: "Hell. Bring him by here."

Austin: "Okay, I'm fine, let's do this."

Willard: "Drink the Red Bull. Drink the whole thing."

Austin is not intimidated into drinking the red bull; he passes out instead. Clearly, he's in desperate need of sex and it's so acute that he's passed out. Willard unzips his pants to administer emergency first aid... while driving the truck towards Mario's place. He manages not to crash, and quickens his companion.

Traffic is awfully light. That, and people get out of the way of that truck. Parking is also super-easy, which is not at all usual. Carlos the doorman opens the door.

Mario: "Send him up."

Carlos: "This man has no pants."

Mario: "I owe you a cerveza, brother."

Carlos passes him through to the elevator, and Willard carries Austin up to Mario's apartment.

Willard: "We have to got to get this guy laid. I had to give him some help on the way over."

Mario (making a rather better medicine roll): "This man is really sick. Look at him: he's running a fever."

Willard: "Pussy fever!"

Mario: "That's not how this works, man."

Willard: "You know, now that you mention it, maybe we should take him to one of those human doctors."

Mario: "You should know this. Let me hit up one of the EMTs that work our shows."

He calls Dr. Josh Fletcher. "Willard just brought me this dude that I think is sick."

Dr. Fletcher: "Well, I'm down at the hospital. How's he look?"

Mario: "Well, he's hot, and he's not responding and shit, man... He does not look good."

Dr. Fletcher. "Oh, God. Bring him down to the hospital. I'll see what I can do to bring him in. You guys know what he has, right? You're wearing masks?"

Mario: "Well, Willard's wearing his show mask. I've been inside watching this Tiger King thing, did I miss something?"

Fletcher: "Watching what? Never mind. How long's he been sick?"

Mario: "Recent, like he was okay when he showed up to work out."

Fletcher. "Good, okay, bring him down. And wash your hands."

Mario gets them both into scarves to cover their faces.

Willard: "Are we gonna rob something, Mario?"

Mario: "No man, I ain't gonna rob no bank, man. But he said to wear masks, so we're gonna wear masks."

Carlos gets out of the way as they pass.

Next up: An apartment in west Seattle. Jack Grey and Valeria are out of supplies so they put on masks and head to the grocery store. We grab staples... but there is no toilet paper. This isn't a problem for Jack, but it's a pretty big deal for Valeria. We head back to our apartment. We return to find Master Brachetti in our apartment. We greet him, and Master B waits on the balcony while we put the groceries away.

Jack: "What brings you here?"

Brachetti: "The prince has been called to an official conclave at the ivory tower itself."

Jack "That sounds serious."

Brachetti: "Cross is the preeminent strength in Seattle, but there are some who might take advantage. Amelia is also essential, but... I think her heart is in the right place. That bodes ill for the use of power."

Amelia is the primogen of the Nosferatu, and also the Prince's Seneschal. Master B reminds us that we are indebted to the Prince, and suggests that the conclave is likely concerned with the pandemic as well. After the master departs, Valeria expresses some concern over such a sudden visit; Jack reassures her that there was no particular warning given, just that the court is apparently reacting to the situation and extra caution should be exercised. It's enough warning to know that Master Brachetti came to check in on them in person. Valeria heads into the living room to watch the Late Late Show.

Bianca, meanwhile, is screaming at her sire about the latest cancellation of her show. Bianca is... a diva from a previous century, so using The Google to hire new staff does not go well for her. Bianca gives up and settles in for The Real Housewives of Seattle.

During a commercial break, the phone rings. (Hers is still rotary.)

Bianca: "Hello?"

Evan: "Miss Cavallieri? This is your handler over at the concert hall. We were just checking in to see how you were doing."

Bianca: "I am doing well, except that THERE IS NOBODY TO PERFORM FOR IN MY HOUSE."

Evan: "Times are difficult for the Hall as well."

Bianca: "Have you perhaps had to lay some people off?"

Evan: "Well, um, all of them."

Bianca: "Excellent! Can you contact them and let them know that I'm looking for some staff for my house?"

Evan: "I, um, sure. Actually, we were hoping you could make a donation?"

Bianca: "Certainly, if you can help me find a staff."

Evan: "So... how much does a Gentleman in Waiting make?"

Bianca: "What do you make now?"

Evan: "...Never mind. I'll wait on that."

Bianca: "You see, this way your people will be gainfully employed and won't be cast out of house and home..."

Evan: "And in return, a donation?"

Bianca: "That can be arranged."

She's very convincing, and Evan agrees to go look. Then she convinces Evan to walk her through using The Google, starting with turning on the computer. The MacBook belongs to Lucien; Bianca selects the Guest account. The troubleshooting... does not go well. Evan gets her as far as Safari, then gets her to Google. Bianca: "I'm going to write a check for $100 dollars right now for your assistance Evan, what is your last name?"

Evan: "Grant, same as yesterday."

Bianca: "Ah."

They finish up and Evan gets off the phone. Once the dial tone comes up, Bianca hangs up the phone.

Lucien: "So, are we done with our little fit now?"

Bianca: "Fit? What fit? If you want to see a fit, I can show you a fit."

Lucien: "So what did the Kine want?"

Bianca: "A donation. And also to get me some STAFF. And he showed me how to use The Google."

Lucien: "So, this staff... you know they are not as we are."

Bianca: "Yes, they are much tastier."

Lucien: "..."

Bianca: "They can have the upstairs rooms."

Lucien: "Very well... can we agree that we must be careful?"

Bianca: "Oh, if we must."

Lucien: "You know I am uncomfortable with the plebian masses being here during the day."

Bianca: "Just because they are peasants does not mean you should fear them."

Lucien: "You recall that peasants beheaded my sire?"

Bianca: "This was two hundred years ago, yes? You will be getting over it sometime?"

Lucien: "...I suppose that might be the beginning of a plan. When does your Mister Tasty intend to put you back to work?"

Bianca: "I assume it's when our food quits dying of natural causes."

Lucien: "I will watch the news, then, and see what there is to know."

Bianca: "It will have to wait until after Real Housewives."

So, back to Mario and Willard. Evergreen on Tenth is a shitshow at the hospital.

Mario: "Why are there so many people here?"

Willard: "Maybe they're all wimps?"

There's this very long but weirdly spaced-out line heading towards the waiting room. Mario approaches the cop who's monitoring the situation and directing people. Mario tries to talk his way inside; Willard practices his patented professional glare. The cop is convinced; he sends them inside."...And get an actual mask from one of the nurses!"

They head inside.

It's organized chaos: very crowded, a lot of coughing, and one charge nurse who's trying to hold everything together. (Mike: "Is she hot?" Dm: "No." Mike: "Does she have soft hands?" DM: "Roll Perception + Investigation.") Willard: "You're like a doctor-lady, and he's like really horny, and I see you have very nice hands. Can you help him out?"

She slaps a clipboard against his chest. "Just fill this out and sit the hell down."

Mario approaches her: "Dr. Fletcher said we should bring this guy in, he's important to some of the checks you must do?"

Her: "I'll let Dr. Josh know."

Mario: "Also: real masks?"

She hands some over. Mario straps one on Willard's dumb ass, *over* his Luchador mask. He puts the other one on The Chaos.

Chaos: "Hey, Mario, what's up-- where are we?"

Willard: "Drink a Red Bull."

Mario: "Hey, good idea man."

Chaos: "Man, I hope I don't have the thing everyone has."

Mario: "Thing?"

Chaos: "The Pandemic? The China virus?"

Mario: "What, like it was made in China?"

Chaos: "No, it just came from there."

Mario: "That's a super racist thing. There was a thing called Spanish Flu and it came from right here in America." (Mario was around when it happened, and it's a bit of a sore spot for him.)

He rolls to maintain self-control and botches, so now he's going into Frenzy in the ER.

Willard notices that Mario is super-pissed. He grabs Mario in his signature hug. "It's okay! It's okay!"

We're! In! Combat!

Mario moves first. Willard is going to try to grab him into a clench, but... Mario grabs and shakes Chaos. Willard grabs him with a hold... successfully! There are now three large, burly men in the middle of this HR who are hugging each other with absolutely no regard for social distancing. Mario tries to break loose, but fails. Willard: "Calm the fuck down, son!"

Mario tries to control himself, and goes back being coherent again. "Man, every time somebody brings that up, I always have to explain that shit."

Austin/Chaos: "Sorry man, I didn't know you were into China."

Willard: "All right, be cool. Where's this fucking doctor?"

Nurse: "Paperwork???"

Willard starts filling out the paperwork, in the equivalent of a toddler scribbling on it in Crayon. The nurse tries to hand it back. He tries to intimidate her. She's... not terrified, but subtly cowed. "Yes sir, I will get his doctor as soon as you get me his paperwork."

Willard hands it back: "It's good enough."

Nurse: "All right, but I'll have to have it later."

Willard: "...Mario will do it."

The fourth floor has been converted to an overflow for the ER. It's over capacity; there are some people in the hallways.

Doc Fletcher arrives and starts looking Austin over. He's... not in good shape. "Willard took my pants off for some reason..."

Willard: "It was battlefield triage!"

They find him a spot, and Josh just lights up a cigarette right there on the ward. "You guys are feeling all right?"

Mario: "I mean, we're good, but shit man, has it been like this for a while man?"

Josh: "Yes."

Mario: "I been watching Tiger King, and I missed like everything."

Willard: "We should get a tiger!"

Josh: "Okay, you guys take care, I've got to get back to work."

Willard: "Back in the army, I was almost a medic."

Josh: "So you have combat training?"

Willard: "Fuck yeah!"

Josh: "Can you help? We are slammed. We need more nurses, dude."

Willard: "I told my handlers: no dresses."

Josh: "We wear scrubs. What the hell is wrong with you?"

Willard: "So you want me to like triage people with like bullet wounds and knife scars and..."

Josh: "I need somebody who can run IVs. You can do that, right?"

Willard: "It's kind of boring. Is it good press?"

Mario: "Yes. It's good press."

Willard: "...Okay."

Josh: "Thanks. You're a lifesaver, man." (Everyone, OOC: "We'll see about that.")

So... Willard gets off to a rough start; it's been a while since he's done this. He's not real fast, but he makes it work. Mario gets spotted by a couple of fans, so he stops to give autographs from as much of a safe distance as they can manage. "Take your vitamins, drink your tequila, take care of your grandma..." His bedside advice could use some work.

Willard, meanwhile, is struggling with his self-control. To other mortals, these are people; to Willard, they're more like... Caprisuns. Willard uses Willpower to resist the urge to nibble on any veins.

Willard: "Mario, man, I think we need to go."

They leave.

Willard is hungry, so they take advantage of Mario's Herd. They're mostly guys looking to get in on the circuit, or roadies who are really into the scene. They pick a particularly chunky guy, and Willard tries to convince him to take one for the team. Guy: "I don't like the way he's looking at me, man. He's making me real nervous. Sorry Mario." He shuts the door.

Mario: "You got any pets, man?" A moment later: "Willard, you got anybody in town?"

Willard comes up with this sad teenager who's one of his fans, but it's a bit of a drive. Mario: "You can drive? You're good?"

Willard: "I'm good!"

Well, he can drive. But navigate? Not so much. So... it's 5:00 a.m. and they're not in Bellvue yet. The sky's looking a little pink.

Willard: "Hey Mario, we gotta shelter in place, man." He's miscalculated and he's over in Southlake Union. They turn back for Mario's apartment. Or at least they try. Annnnd they're still lost.

At 5:30, they're still not there. They park the truck and call an uber. A dude wearing a face mask picks them up in his Prius. Willard is pouting. The make it just in time; sunlight literally chases them into Mario's apartment. Carlos backs up against the wall as they pass, giving them well in excess of the six foot distancing. Mario drags Willard past him, and finds him a blood pack. It's not much and it's not good, but it's enough. They drift off to sleep.

Everybody gets 3 experience points. Once we get to the end of the story, we can use them to buy more dots in things. Or something.

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