A Killing Frost

by Timothy Toner and Scott Nash (3 Mar 93)

It all begins when two Ventrue decide to finally have it out in London in 1790. Gabriel Thompson, a 6th generation Neonate loses quickly to Harold Gordon, an 8th Generation Elder. Disgusted by the politics which robbed him of his victory, Gabriel knowingly breaks the Masquerade, and tries to frame Harold for it. At first it works, but Gabriel realizes it isn't forever, so while his foe is being hunted, he decides to travel to America, and set up shop there.

To make the long ocean journey undetected, Gabriel realizes he must not leave any evidence that would be left in a log book. He voluntarily enters torpor, and orders his retainers to put him on a ship bound for Boston. Harold, with a Blood Hunt called on him, decides to pay his friend back in the worst possible way. He pulls some strings, and has Gabriel's coffin loaded aboard the HMS Northern Traveller, a ship trying to find the legendary Northwest Passage.

Soon, the evidence surfaces that it was Gabriel and not Harold who broke the Masquerade. All paper trails lead to Gabriel boarding a ship to Boston; which one, however, is unknown. Only Harold knows the truth. Nevertheless, papers are drawn up by the Prince, angered by Gabriel's betrayal, that any who should find him can diablerize him. The Ventrue Justicar, an old friend, approves.

Harold then sends spies out to listen for the Northern Traveller's return to port, after an unsuccessful search. There is no sign, and the ship is listed as Missing.

Time passes. Gordon travels to INSERT AMERICAN CITY. Over the intervening 200 years, he has used his influence to keep close tabs on any Arctic expeditions, but not even the new satellite technology can find signs of it. He realizes soon after World War II that the Arctic will be richly contested between the Soviets and the US, so he keeps his influences deep in both countries. It pays off.

A spy, the grandson of the first he established, intercepted and suppressed a top secret communique between Ubystveny Moroz and their superiors. Ubystveny Moroz is a top secret biological warfare laboratory, a floating monstrosity, kept above the Arctic Circle. With the fall of the Communists, internal security has become very lax. Men want to go home, but with no government to issue replacements, or to insure that Ubystveny Moroz remains secret, none can leave. Besides, there is no available transport, and it's a long hike back home. A transport drops off food and supplies, but does not even land

The men are taken to hunting and fishing on the permafrost in their prodigious spare time. One uses some top secret sonar equipment to estimate the best areas. He accidentally finds the ruins of an ancient ship, the HMS Northern Traveller. Realizing that there could be items of great value on the ship, he and a group of close friends bring out ice breaking and digging equipment, and uncover the ship. Everything seems to have been plundered for firewood, except for a long box still in the hold. It had been soaked with a fireproof, waterproof, and airtight substance, which would have made it impractical to burn.

They sneak the box back on Ubystveny Moroz, hoping to find the corpse of a rich man. Instead they find Gabriel. Angered because of his long unexpected torpor, and hungry, he slaughters his rescuers for their blood. He then realizes that he is in a world very different from the one he left behind 200 years ago, and needs loyal brood. He Embraces all six men, and immobilizes them, waiting for the three days to pass for the blood bond to take.

The absence of the six men worries the security officer, and he sends out patrols looking for them. At this point, the ship is discovered, and word is sent to Moscow asking for instructions. Enter Harold Gordon.

He instructs his spy to suppress this and all other communique between the base and its superiors. He realizes that he is too heavily engrossed in local politics to take care of his old enemy, so he calls forth a group of Neonates to get the job accomplished (the troupe). He promises them boons, favors, riches, and, if they desire it, the opportunity to diablerize a 6th generation Cainite, all with the blessing of the Ventrue Justicar.

If they still quail at the thought of assassination, he reminds the Troupe that there could be Vampires running around on a top secret Soviet base. If the Soviets discover the Kindred threat, the cover would truly be blown off the Masquerade. The Troupe needs to infiltrate the base, and take out any and all who are Kindred, or who have had conclusive evidence of the existence of vampires. A computer specialist will be sent with the troupe to erase any incriminating data, if they don't have one already. As a final bit of enticement, Gabriel took with him a legendary Ghulblade, one with powers far beyond those of the normally potent blades.

Back on Ubystveny Moroz, a stalemate has been reached. Soviet forces have responded well to the kindred threat, sealing them in three of the 27 compartments. Unfortunately, two of them are the communications center and the medical laboratory. Neither will budge, the commander of the base waiting for reinforcements (that will never come), Gabriel waiting for their time to run out. Although insane, Gabriel is no fool. In the medlab, he discovered a sample of the biotoxin the base was developing, and released it into the air system. Everyone now living will be dead in a week, and Gabriel can easily wait that long.

The Troupe will be flown in, using Gordon's Army contacts (he was prepared for this eventuality). They will be dropped off in a cargo box, two miles from the base. The drop will be masked by a sudden storm that sprang up for no apparent reason. They will be picked up in three days time.

Getting to the base is a fight for survival, as the killing winds sap the warmth and unlife from their bodies. Once at the base, Gordon has arranged, through his spy, that the Troupe will be let in as a group of "specialists." Their cover is that the United States has developed a form of "supersteroids" that greatly enhance the strength and endurance of a soldier, but which renders the subject into a berzerker, intensely loyal to the one who administered the dose.

The story soon falls apart, and the troupe is caught in the middle of a three way war between them, the Soviets, and Gabriel's minions. They must find a way to contain and/or kill Gabriel, erase any evidence of the Masquerade, and get off the base in three day's time.

If it were only that simple...

Ubystveny Moroz is designed with a failsafe. If the installation is ever seized, or if a biotoxin is ever released, a countdown is started. In three days after Gabriel releases the toxin, the nuclear warhead positioned at the center of the base will explode, eradicating all life in a ten mile radius. The Troupe knows that it will never get that far in this cold. Gabriel has no concept how powerful the bomb is, and merely commands his own men to shut up when they warn him. He will not be dissuaded.

The only person who has command authorization to turn off the missile is Dmitri Protorov, the commander of the installation. He is an old guard Communist, who would sooner have the base be vaporized than let it fall in enemy hands. He has Unbondable and Iron Will: not even death will make him turn it off.

Further, the troupe must realize diablerie is out of the question. To do so would spread the menace of the biotoxin outside this base, perhaps condemning the world to a slow death. One woman knows the cure, but she was part of the group that Gabriel initially Embraced. The serum must be passed through the blood for it to infect a vampire. Thus, standing in the base will not infect the Troupe, but feeding from any infected personnel will.

Finally, the storm which so conveniently covered their arrival was no coincidence. They were going to let the abomination pass, to dwell in their r pristine paradise, but the release of the biotoxin has poisoned the air here. Now, in the name of Gaia, it must fall. The Wendigos are coming.

We admit the plot is a lot like Aliens, but unlike Aliens, all four sides are reacting with a great deal of cunning, and as we all know, the best roleplaying moments are those generated under stress. Further, although it seems to be a "mean street" scenario, much like Diablerie Mexico, the players must be cautioned that 90% of the installation is under water. Any grotesque abuse of firepower will bring the freezing Arctic Ocean in, and immediately terminate play. It is a race against time, something uncommon for those who are used to living forever.

Comments by Louis Granboulan and answers by Thanatos:

I hope that all this story takes place in winter. The vampire could be awake during all the scene!

Yes, it will take place in the "winter", which would make marathon sessions fun...

The biggest problem in this story is that Gabriel Thompson was a 6th generation Neonate: If his Sire is a 5th generation Ventrue, he should have had some influence in the life of his son. The probable reason is that he diablerized his Sire, and then flew to London. He tried to install himself there, and loses to H. Gordon. If this is the case, nobody should know his actual generation...

Very perceptive... it works well. My thinking was that his Sire wanted Gabriel to eke out an existence in the true Ventrue fashion, i.e. power plays galore. When he failed, in true Ventrue fashion, his Sire abandoned him until he could save face. This is what drove him over the edge. It is important to see that this diablerie is free and legal. His sire and the Justicar Ventrue at the time approved of it.

You've got me thinking. Would it be better to have him, as you say, diablerize his Sire, and escape to London, and then when the Blood Hunt has been called on him, all this about his past comes forth (i.e. wicked former life?) The generation can be easily discovered (what generation was his sire?). Yes... I like this a lot.

And if he was a neonate, how did he find a Ghulblade? The concept of this item is a good one (I believe it's the best of your items, with the Book of Shadows), but it does not fit with the rest of the story. It adds an artefact for the winning side, and a bit of magic in a rather technological place, but it is not needed.

Recall that a neonate is someone who has lived less than 100 years. The item could have been his Sire's. The Ghulblade can be a MacGuffin (a plot device, lost at convenience). The fact that it works on mental command means that the player won't know how to make it work, unless they take out Gabriel more or less intact, and learn the word. I added it as an afterthough, since it does play a critical role in the story. If the Troupe learns the word, then they may take blood through the sword, and the biotoxin won't infect them. If the troupe THINKS, they'll realize that perhaps this is what Gabriel has done, and ergo, he is freed from the toxin.

The precise placement of the sword may be in a soldier's room. After one of the fierce battles, Gabriel goes into frenzy from the pain, and his followers, fearing the demise of their sire, drag him away. He has left the sword embedded in the body of a soldier. HIs friend takes it, not realizing what it is, and hides it in his room. Thus, the bad guy will have no idea what it is, but the party and no one else will know that, unless the party asks...

You said Alien, but another movie fits better: The Thing, where people find the monster in an arctic place like here. And the fire destroys everything at the end...

Right. This originally started as a concept for a movie, and I pictured the scene with the Russians surrounding the silhouette of the ship. One says, "I've seen this in an American movie. We shouldn't go in. Some horrible monster lives in there." "Sergei, you watch too much TV..." Very perceptive of you...

How can you hope that this group of neonates may win the fight ? They can only side with the Garou, if they want to fulfill their mission... You must be very precise, since the 4 sides must have comparable power.

Well, there will be 100 Soviets to begin with. They control the installation (lighting, doors, etc). They can keep the vampires stalemated, no problem. The lupines are unthinking monsters. A three way alliance will have to be made, but whether it be Troupe-Gabriel-soldiers, Troupe-soldiers-lupine, Troupe-Lupine-Gabriel (to stop the detonation of the bomb...), or even soldiers-Gabriel-Lupine (hey, it could happen...) is up to the players. The Garou, once told of the bomb, will immediately try to form an alliance to stop it, since the damage to Gaia would be immeasurable (can we say polar ice cap melting...?) The soviets are scared (wouldn't you?) The only people who have a chance to see the whole picture is the troupe, and THAT will allow them to survive.