Penny Dreadfuls II: Frost

by Timothy Toner

It ain't my best, but I have quite a bit on my mind. I promise to do better next time. Let the criticisms pour forth.

Karen wiped the blood from her lips in a vain attempt to be civil. The creep she had waylaid back there in the alleyway was still thrashing from the knifewound she had given him to cover up the bite marks. Who needs to lick wounds, anyway?

She noted a few strangers on the streetcorner, their trenchcoats sseming out of place despite the cool October evening. Not wanting to run into one of the Camarilla so close to one of her feedings, she slipped into another alley and increased her speed.

The concrete canyon echoed at the sound of her feet plopping on the asphalt. She checked her watch, and noted that she would arrive a few minutes late for her date with her "fiance." The color the fresh kill gave her was neccessary to continue this ruse. She needed a steady flow of cash, and the occassional mugging just wasn't cutting it.

A sound, behind her. She whirled, and noticed that the four figures with trenchcoats had come around the corner, and one was drawing back the bolt on his Ingram. These assholes meant business...

Fears raced through her mind. What had she done wrong? Who was after her? She was just Caitiff trash, not worthy...she ran faster.

Having over half a block head start gave her a sense of hope. This soon evaporated when she exited the alley into the next street. Silver vans stood, blocking off the street at both ends, and she heard doors opening in each. The situation had gone from bad to worse.

Not bothering to wait and see the troops pouring out of each, Karen ran in the only direction she had left...the alley across the street.

As soon as she hit the midpoint of the alley, she noticed just how quiet it had become. She turned to examine her pursuers, expecting a small army, but found only three men, dressed in strange silver suits, apparently insulation. Each held a large cylinder cradled in their arms, pointed at her. The smoke that issued from the tip told her what that was...

She turned to continue her flight, but found another three men had entered the alleyway from that direction. Trapped, she began gazing around for a bolt hole. When none presented itself in the darkened alley, she pumped her limbs full of rich, warm blood, and waited for the end to come. Even if they transformed her into a infero, she was going to take at lest two out.

The first canister struck just to the right of her. It reminded her of a smoke grenade she saw in a movie a long, long time ago, when she was alive. The second one struck her in the shoulder, and the spray it issued forth hissed loudly in her ear. She could no longer visually see her attackers. She switched to the Eyes of the Beast, as she released her claws.

Nothing. All shades of blue. What the hell? She was going to die here, and for the first time since Charlie bit her once too often, she was damn cold.

Cold. That's what was wrong! She looked at the icicles forming on he leather jacket, and noticed a few crystals of frozen blood she had not wiped off her hand. It was _damn_ cold! But that wasn't going to stop her. The first one moved in range. She attacked.

She had once seen a friend of Charlie's fight with lightning fast reflexes. It was like that now...except _she_ was the one trapped in time... She could barely move enough to try a lunge, and fell forward, as her body groaned. One of the attackers shot a burst of smoke at her, and she felt her arm stiffen.

She panicked, wanting to cower in a corner, and wait for them to go... Charlie had told her. No sun. No fire. Stay away from other vampires. But that asshole said nothing about cold!

She allowed more blood to flow, and, for a time, feeling returned. Enough to launch an attack. But then she had to get away. The blood it took to stay warm was _enormous,_ and the Hunger was gnawing at her insides.

She moved as best she could, and planted a talon right below the attacker's ribcage. Catching hold of something warm and moinst, she pulled... hard. The hunter buckled forward, trying to catch hold of what she had drawn out. Karen bolted through the opening thus made.

She didn't even stop to lick the talon, slick and steaming with blood. She was so caught up in her flight, she forgot the original pursuers. They were waiting for her.

One levelled a weapon too big to be a shotgun at her. It fired with a muffled blast, and something hard and cold (oh so cold!) slammed into her chest. She fell to the ground, her body slipping into the clouds the cylinder had ejected. As the warmth disappeared from her body, so too did the fight. Sleep crept over her face, and the look of agony she had expressed as the grenade had hit her chest solidified, etched in frost.

"Let's get the hell out of here!"

The man holding the modified grenade launcher pointed at the men in the thermal suits. "Hose her down, while the other two get the van back here! How's Paulie?"

One of the men looked at his fallen comerade, who lay on the ground, unmoving. He shook his head. The leader winced.

"All right, Tommy, drop Paulie in one of the cold storage units. Maybe Hauser has something for him..."

The men slipped the rock solid vampire in the waiting van, and placed her in one of the two freezer units. This they locked, just in case.

The men were done in a matter of minutes. The vans rode off, into the night. The leader turned to the other three draped in trenchcoats. "We almost lost her...lucky _I_ was riding backup." Two of the men looked down, ashamed. "Do a sweep of the alley. Get all the cartridges. I'm getting me some cocoa and marshmallows. John, you're coming with me."

The two with the downcast eyes began searching for whatever little remained of the altercation. It was only ten minutes since it began, and already most of the evidence was melting away. The third caught up with the leader.

"What we got, John?"

"Not sure. I'll be able to do a complete blood type check when we get back. Probably a mongrel. The blood is too weak to figure out right."


"Eleventh. We got that right on."

"Nothing extraordinary. We're lucky if we cover expenses alone on this one."

"Hauser will take this one on looks alone, though."

"Good point. Call ahead, and tell them to put her in the room with the two Toreadors we got last year. Y'know, the one's in bed." John nodded. "Hauser ought to get off on that alone.

"And did you call the contractor? With the rate we've been acquiring, Hauser will need a whole new wing..."

The two figures slipped away into the night. Somewhere, below them, a squat, skulking figure shiverred, half in the cold that drifted from above, and half in fear of what was to come.

Game Stats

Freon rifles: Contains enough charge for 10 "rounds." Needs to be recharged at a special station, taking over five minutes. Treat as "Heavy weapons." Effective range: 4 meters.

Freon grenades: Fills a 10' cube with the equvalent of three bursts of freon gas. Good for only 4 turns, then canister is useless. Treat as normal grenade for purposes of throwing. Can be fired from most grenade launchers.

Effects of extreme cold on Kine: Every freon burst does a certain amount of aggravated damage, much like fire would. Depending on what is being worn, as well as surroundings the damage could be as little as 1 health level / 15 minutes (as per VTM p. 121) or 3 aggravated levels from full exposure to liquid nitrogen.

For puposes of the freon rifles and bombs, think of it this way:
1 burst = three health levels

Clothing, because it can be used to store body heat, can give the person "auto-successes" as per this chart
No clothing or very lightly dressed 0
"Warmly" dressed (for a warm winter day) 2 successes
Heavily bundled (Arctic man) 3 successes
Thermal Suits 5 successes

Kine rolls stamina + fortitude (if any) plus autosuccesses
3 Freon blast in sahara
5 Freon blast on normal spring day
7 Freon blast on "chilly" day (late fall-early winter)
9 Freon blast on winter day / In area of effect of freon grenade
10 Freon blast on winter's night / In a freezer

The main difficulty is determining whether the level of exposure is aggravated or not. Follow this simple rule of thumb. If you can imagine recovering by simply "warming" the area, it's normal. If it's frostbitten, or damaged in any way, it's aggravated.

Effects of Extreme cold on Kindred: According to p. 121 of V:TM, characters must roll stamina + fortitude, over a time period relegated by how cold it is. This is usually 15 minutes at 0 c conditions, and modified accordingly. Difficulty starts at three, and then increases by one at every check. Most would argue: hey, I'm _dead._ What's a little COLD gonna do? Well, your life force revolves around Vitae, and vitae is mostly water. WHen the vitae in your veins freeze, you freeze. Clothing really doesn't keep you warm, since the main function is trapping body heat, something a kindred only gives off after feeding or by burning a point of blood. All clothing can do is protect your body from the effect of direct freon contact. Much like normal armor, heavy clothing gives you extra dice rolls. Most "heavy" clothing is 1 die, and the most hard core would be worth three. The true connisseur would go for thermal underwear, or some other product that generates its own heat. This could be worth as much as 6 dice, depending on how much.

Freon blasts work like this:

Each blast does 3 points cold damage. This is exactly like normal damage, in that blood can "heal" it back (by warming the body). Difficulty is as per the Kine guide. Roll stamina + fortitude + whatever bonuses clothing gives you. For every point, a level is taken off the health meter. Penalties only apply to dexterity, however. The moment dex is take to zero, the character falls into a state akin to torpor. The blood freezes in her veins, unreachable after 5 turns. This torpor lasts as long as the character is frozen. During this time, he may use any "mental" disciplines, but anything involving movement is not allowed.

This whole idea came to me last night, and I recognize most of it won't be used, but the idea of taking out a vampire non-conventionally, using science, fascinates me. Sure, the system has a lot of problems, so tinker it, and make it work.