Welcome to the next installment of the
Danse de la Mort
chronicle. By this point in the chronicle, the characters haveeach confronted their sires, learned about the dark sides of their clans, advanced in the use of their Disciplines and dis-covered some of the covenants into which Kindred groupthemselves. And yet, greater mysteries await them. Some of these mysteries are very general: What was the creature theysaw on the way to John Harley Matheson’s mansion in
? What other covenants of Kindred exist? Othermysteries are personal to the characters, and the main one of these is bound up in one woman: Sarah Cobbler.In this story, the characters have a chance to meet Cobbler,but she slips away before they can do more than thwart one of her plans. They do come face to face, however, with the mys-terious Mezzo, who provides some of the last pieces in thepuzzle of Sarah Cobbler and sets the stage for our final story.Throughout
, the characters get to enter further intothe dark shadows of Kindred existence. Having proven theirworth to the elders of the city, they can join the dominant cov-enant in New Orleans. They also see in stark terms the sicklyeffect certain vampires can have on a city. Ultimately they mustask themselves, are they plague bearers of a kind as well?
The twin themes of
are freedom and consequences.The characters are experiencing their first taste of real freedom inthis story: no longer under the yoke of their mission to find theirsires and about to be officially accepted into the Kindred commu-nity, they should feel as though they are truly beginning their Re-quiems. They have lost their mortal lives, true, but all that theyhave seen has shown them that they are not powerless and caneke out an existence by night, just as so many other Kindred do.But with freedom comes choices, and with choices come inescap-able consequences. The characters must decide whether they willjoin the Lancea Sanctum and what doing so (or refusing to) willmean for their survival. What’s more, when they thwart SarahCobbler in Act One, they must deal with the consequences in ActTwo. There are no easy choices for the undead.
The mood of
is, appropriately, diseased. In Act One,this mood is subtle — the city seems strong, but the Byzantineagendas and conflicts of the Kindred act as social sickness. Every-one should be furtive, hiding their true motives and looking forothers (like the characters) to make mistakes. By Act Two, sicknessbecomes literal as a disease grips the city. Everyone the charactersmeet looks ill, either physically (gaunt, drawn, pale, coughing) ormentally (darting eyes, near-catatonic). The fever that sweepsthrough New Orleans is at least partially supernatural in nature,and the Kindred should be able to feel its presence everywhere.Even though vampires are largely immune to illness, you mightoccasionally tell a player that her character feels a tickle in theback of her throat or a stiffness in her joints, and let the characterwonder if this is merely a psychological effect of being near so manysick people, or if the character has actually contracted something.
Up until now, we’ve told you in the text of these storieswhere to use the dice and which dice pools to use. The fullscoop on what all of the Skills and Disciplines can accom-plish is presented in the
World of Darkness Rulebook
Vampire: The Requiem
, of course, but after this many sto-ries, you should be becoming fairly conversant in what thevarious dice pools represent and when they apply. Let’s take amoment and consider when it is appropriate to ask a player toroll — and, more importantly, when it
, we mentioned that when a character is meantto have a chance to shine, it might be appropriate to forego dicerolls and remove the chance of failure. This is true not only inthe case of a “central character” but also whenever a failed rollwould derail the storyline. In
Danse de la Mort
, we’ve tried notto create situations where if one particular roll fails, the charac-ters are left high and dry with no way (save perhaps for
) for them to find their way to the next plot point. Asyou move from our published chronicle to telling your own sto-ries, consider whether you are prepared for the consequences if aplayer fails a roll. Even if a player has an impressive dice pool, it’squite possible for the dice to all turn up under “8.” If you findyourself asking for rolls that the players need to succeed on, skipthe rolls in favor of moving the story along.
In some situations, however, the story can progress differently basedon whether certain rolls succeed or fail. If the characters notice acertain subtle gesture that the Prince’s lieutenant makes to his mas-ter, they might be suspicious and therefore prepared when the Princelater betrays them. If they miss this red flag, the betrayal comes asmore of a shock, but this presents its own drama for the story.