Vampire- Dark Ages – Return to Badajoz pt 3

I’m rather happy how the session turned out all in all. There’s some weaker parts for sure, but mainly because I had decided o condense a lot of things in one week-end that could have warranted an entire session each. I’d figured, if we were doing this once a year or so, no need to slowplay it. Also, I was rusty rulewise but vampire (white wolf) has a very forgiving system (it has been said that its lack of clarity is also its weakness) and so, it could have been worse.

Player Characters (PCs)

  • Harold Necros (Ben), 7th generation Cappadocian ancilla, Road of Bones, contacts with the Lazarenes
  • Johan Grimes (Pascal), 7th generation Malkavian ancilla, Road of Sin, member of the Ordo Enigmatis
  • Krad McClaleen (Chris) , 7th generation Gangrel ancilla, Road of the Beast, multiple diablerie
  • Adhémar (Jason), 7th generation Kiasyd ancilla, Road of Caine, member of the Cainite Heresy


  • A snake comes to Harold and delivers/expels a scroll, it’s written in old aramaic. With some research at the University of Lisbon and the help of his Hand of the Humble Scribe (the severed and preserved hand he found at Merìda), He successfully decrypt the message. It’s from a group of outcast cappadocians based in Egypt named the Lazarenes (after their enigmatic leader Lazarus). Harold accepts their invitation and go to Egypt where he’ll stay for 12 years.
  • Rodrigo (lasombra), a neonate but less of a fool than his sire Vicente, will be the PCs’ contact in Oviedo, as part of the Silver Road’s commercial cooperation.
  • The Jardines de la Galera, a place where criminals condemned to death can have a brief respite before leaving this world, serves as a feeding ground for Badajoz’s vampires.
  • Prince Johan (Juan Grimeso), sponsors an orphanage to serve as his own feeding ground.
  • Anastasio of Pampalona, a fellow malkavian, asks Prince Johan to stay in his city for while. He wants to find and study some esoteric arab texts in the area.
  • Harold comes back from Egypt, all he says is that he laid down in the sands and learned quite a few interesting things.
  • Pretty much at the same time of the return of Harold (can’t be a coincidence, can it?), the Black Plague strikes the Iberian peninsula, causing immense suffering among the population.
  • The PCs learn that Prince Macario has been ousted in Lisbon and has left for the city of Coimbra further north. They soon learn that the new Prince, Calypsia of the toreador clan, doesn’t have them in good esteem…

Portuguese Attack

The year is 1336, war is unleashed upon the land! The Portuguese have crossed the border (and the river) and are preparing to assault both Badajoz istelf and Barcarrota castle not far south. Envoys are sent to ask for help and the city have its gates closed. The PCs quickly learn of the irrititating presence of dominican Inquisitors within the enemy’s camp, limiting their actions (i.e. slaughtering an entire army) less they attract undue attention to themselves.

Badajoz is besieged. The city is heavily fortified, with one side against the river, it cannot be easily taken. The meagre castillan garnison and militia will be hard pressed resisting the portuguere assault for a long time.

The PCs have a plan, cutting the snake’s head so to speak. Krad will to try to kill Prince Calypsia of Lisbon, the one who controls these events in the shadows. Krad is the only one of the group who can reach Lisbon fast enough (in bat form) and not worry during the day of being disturbed by marauding soldiers. Fortunately for Krad, Prince Viriath of Cacerès will join him as he knows he would be next on line if Badajoz falls.

The two gangrels fly to Lisbon and reach Calypsia’s tower. The prince is surrounded by her court and Krad and Viriath immediately fall prey to her powerful presence. She laughs haughtily at them, she will have her revenge for the death of her grand-childer Baldomar! She compels the two gangrels to fight to the death! Viriath wounds Krad severely with his claws but the latter willingly enters frenzy to break the enchantment put upon him and jumps on Calypsia with a supreme effort of will. He manages to wound her but her bodyguards put hard steel into Krad’s body, downing him. Viriath, who also recovered his senses with the attack on the prince, seizes Krad and jumps off the tower into the night. The commando mission is a failure…

But in a incredible turn of events a Sevillan messenger announces the arrival of a large moroccan fleet landing an army in the South with the aim of attacking the christian kingdoms! The Portuguese abandoned the sieges and, with the soon-to arrive Castillan army, that had been previously levied to defend against them, they went to fight the invaders. The Moroccans were defeated and Badajoz was saved.

Note: the siege of Badajoz, the Moroccan invasion and the subsequent alliance of Portugal and Castille were all historical events. I had a hard time following these events and still letting the players have their own agency.


  • A few weeks later, the war ends
  • The PCs confront Inês the lassombra on her role vis-à-vis the recent events, she begs for mercy and is allowed to stay
  • Anastasio the malkavian is slain by Inquisitors
  • His thaumaturgical studies are picked up Johan, who will add them to his repertoire
  • Prince Johan is attacked by Inquisitors but is saved by his companions

Chess Game: Prince Johan vs Archbishop Monçada

Prince Johan seek counsel with Archbishop Monçada in Madrid. As is his habit the powerful lasombra gives cryptic advices through the analyses he makes in a game of chess… As Johan isn’t much of a chess player, Monçada chooses to remove his own queen and will even « guide » Johan to victory. Removing the black queen is some sort of approval to Johan’s query abou his enemy Calypsia, no doubt. Monçada also makes the point of letting the king be checkmated by a bishop… Foreshadowing some important events to come.

The Black Queen

The PCs are on the loop for a Castillan attack on Portugal. Nastasio the ventrue, second-in-command to Silvester de Ruiz, the lasombra leader, leads the attack against Calypsia’s domain. After some intensive fighting, the castillan army is finally ready to besiege Lisbon. The agreed role of the PCs will be to infiltrate the city amidst the confusion and eliminate the toreador elder. The latter is no longer at her haven but they soon learn that the prince is preparing to flee aboard a ship. The PCs hurry to the port and reach the ship just before it could leave (of course!). Some of Calypsia’s minions are sent to slow down the attackers but Adhémar (in shadow form) and Harold get through while Krad and Johan deal with them. One knight in front of Krad, another grand-childer of Calypsia, is a very good swordsman and gives some difficulties to the gangrel but he ultimately succumbs to savage claw attacks. Harold is surrounded by enemies and defends himself by inflicting withering touches to whoever approach. Johan slashes at defenders with a sword that seems too big for him and provoques confusion with his dementation to many.

Meanwhile, Adhémar use obtenebration to plunge the area where Calypsia is on the ship in total darkness, and then proceed to swing his 2-handed sword at her, crippling her with a fury of attacks. She’s an elder vampire though and she heals herself back enough to make a mighty jump outside of the ship and darkness. Unfortunately for her, she’s intercepted by Krad and Johan who strike her down again. This time Krad jumps on her and plunge his fangs on her neck and add another diablerie on his résumé…

Calypsia suffers final death. Her minions lose the will to fight their implacable foes.

In the aftermath of the siege, Nastasio his installed prince of Lisbon. In Madrid, Monçada shock the vampire world killing his sire, the elder lasombra Silvester de Ruiz.

The end.

Coming next: the Age of Conquistadores

Vampire – dark ages – Return to Badajoz pt 2

The default date for the vampire dark ages rpg is 1212, centuries after what the historians have traditionally dubbed the dark ages period. In the same vein, the Inquisition (along with the infamous spanish variety) wasn’t set in motion until much later than the canon of VtDA. Of course we’re talking here about the World of Darkness (WoD)’s history, where real world historical events have almost always supernatural actors in the background. In such a world it seems perfectly reasonable to have an Inquisition as soon as the 13th century (and they’re kind of the good guys too, or at least vindicated in torturing and burning people?). But what I meant to say is that, as an history buff myself, I find it oddly pleasant to take real events and put a WoD stamp on it, i.e. there’s an earthquake in Seville in 1356? That’s an andalusian mages’s retaliation against the vampire shadow reconquista, et voilà!

Player Characters (PCs:

  • Harold Necros (Ben), 7th generation Cappadocian ancilla, Road of Bones, contacts with the Lazarenes
  • Johan Grimes (Pascal), 7th generation Malkavian ancilla, Road of Sin, member of the Ordo Enigmatis
  • Krad McClaleen (Chris) , 7th generation Gangrel ancilla, Road of the Beast, multiple diablerie
  • Adhémar (Jason), 7th generation Kiasyd ancilla, Road of Caine, member of the Cainite Heresy

No stone left unturned at Merìda

Reunited in Badajoz after Harold’s diplomatic tour, the PCs decided to investigate what was happening in nearby Merìda. The small town (around 5000 pop) had many impressive roman ruins. The citizens were obviously fearful and they had organized night patrols. Evading those, the PCs first went to the ancient necropolis. There they found some evidence of occupation and a well-hidden pouch of almohad coins. Inside the pouch was also a severed hand, perfectly preserved, that Harold kept for study. Leaving the necropolis. They were followed by a black cat but Johan jumped on it using obfuscate and killed the poor creature. They then went to the amphitheatre and found an entrance blocked by a huge granite slab. Krad used potence and moved it aside without a sweat.

A stair led beneath the amphitheatre. Adhémar, with his heightened senses, saw a part of the stone wall that was more recent, despite the fact that it was expertly crafted to blend with the rest. Using again his supernatural strength, Krad pushed the wall down, revealing a treasure cache with andalusian coins, precious carpets, silver plates and other valuables. There was a prayer room which showed recent activity but not much else. The inhabitant(s) proved to be elusive. The next area they chose to investigate was the roman bridge, still intact after all those years.

They saw that the bridge’s arches provided perfectcly serviceable hideouts and proceeded to inspect the alcoves one by one. Krad transformed into a bat to accelerate the search but was soon swarmed by angry non-vampire ones. Krad just ignored them as they couldn’t bite through his fortitude-enhanced skin. But then, a thin figure got out of an alcove further along the bridge and jumped into the river. Oddly, use of auspex couldn’t reveal any aura in the river.The PCs tried to see if it would reemerge somewhere but at this very moment another figure, this one seriously ugly and bricked up, appeared from nowhere and attacked Johan from behind with a heavy hammer! Johan still managed to get out of the way and the mighty blow hit the pavement instead with a loud thud.

Meanwhile Krad just ignored the fight and chose to dive after the fleeing figure in the water, he saw it at the bottom, one arm stuck deep in the river bed and otherwise just being like a dessicated corpse, pushed one side by the current. Krad, tranformed back, seized the corpse with one hand but immediately felt an unholy force draining his strength away while the « corpse » (a cappadocian vampire using a mortis power) tried to push him away. Drained or not, Krad was still way stronger than his captive and kept a firm grip to bring him back to the surface.

The combat with the bricked-up figure, a nosferatu in fact, was concluded almost as soon as it started as Adhémar took two big swings of his 2-handed sword at him, struck him down and lopped his head off just like that.

The PCs wished to interrogate the vampire that Krad had fished out of the water but he proved adamant in his refusal to cooperate as they had just killed his companion. They kept him captive and brought him back to Badajoz.

Note: I had quite a different idea in mind for these two (Jakeem and Hamad) vampires of arabic descent. Those were survivors of Cordoua, in hiding in Merìda. I thought that if given the chance they would be useful allies if offered protection, Jakeem was a scholar and Hamad an architect, with the conundrum of having to, possibly, go against the wishes of a faction of christian fanatic vampires that would want them eliminated. It is true that the nosferatu attacked first, but only because they were aggressively pursued out of hiding. Without presence or dominate to help them, the two exiled vampires had caused much distress in the human population but they weren’t evil per se.

Vampire – Dark Ages – Return to Badajoz pt 1

I’ve hosted a bunch of vampire rpg sessions (both masquerade and dark ages) between 1996 and the early 2000s but it went away after that for the usual reasons (people moving away, trying some other game, less time, etc.). Until now!

I think we could do this once a year, we’ll see…

Back then, I had two parallel campaigns going on, one was set in the Iberian Peninsula (the kingdoms of what is now Spain and Portugal during the Reconquista era) and the other in England, with two group of players. There was a bit of intermingling when my hometown friends or more often, my brother Jason, could come to see me. Anyway, according to my 20 years old notes – I wish they weren’t so sparse, it was fine for regular thing but not for such a long hiatus! – the last time we played the player characters were in England. Where they killed a whole bunch of people, no doubt about it.

I’ve also noted that they had a « haven » in Badajoz. What’s Badajoz? It’s a city in the Extremadura region which is part of the Kingdom of Castille. I had no idea before googling it (and now I know a lot about this city and a lot of other things too). Last date noted was 1317 so here we go. They’ll have to go back to this particular haven, because I need a starting point and that will do. And then they can do what they want, interacting with the NPCs I present them and the events happening around.

Player Characters (PCs:

  • Harold Necros (Ben), 7th generation Cappadocian ancilla, Road of Bones, contacts with the Lazarenes
  • Johan Grimes (Pascal), 7th generation Malkavian ancilla, Road of Sin, member of the Ordo Enigmatis
  • Krad McClaleen (Chris) , 7th generation Gangrel ancilla, Road of the Beast, multiple diablerie
  • Adhémar (Jason), 7th generation Kiasyd ancilla, Road of Caine, member of the Cainite Heresy


The almohads musulmans have one last bastion in the south centered around the fortified city of Granada, officially at peace and a vassal of the crown of Castille. Tensions and wars are more often between competing christian kingdoms, the reconquista has slowed down.

World of Darkness: The Iberian peninsula has a younger vampire population than most places in Europe. If there is some visigothic or even roman and phoenician elders still around, the vast majority is newly established. Clan Lasombra is by far the most powerful, the war of princes has led to the preeminence of the dark magisters in this region. Among them, Silvester de Ruiz, in Madrid, is the current leader, but his childer, the Archbishop Monçada is rising fast and may eclipse him before long…

Re-claiming Badajoz:

  • Year 1319- The PCs booked a passage from England to Spain. Their contact was a portuguese vampire based in Lisbon named Vicente de Cardona (lasombra).
  • Vicente’s agents tried to sneak a blood bond into the voyage’s refreshment. It mostly failed though Johan felt they should not so hastily accuse generous Vicente of such a misdeed.
  • The PCs arrived in Lisbon where they met with Prince Macario (brujah). They also met Vicente in person (he’s a fool) and expressed their displeasure and imposed on him their own blood bond and essentially cowed him made him their pawn.
  • They left Lisbon and went East and reached their destination a week later or so, the city of Badajoz in Spain, just across the portuguese border.
  • Adhémar still had his villa to accomodate them but they soon learned that the city proper was now claimed by a certain Prince Baldomar of the toreador clan. At the Jardines de la galera, the Prince made it clear that they weren’t particularly welcomed. Things got sour very fast when following a verbal joust, Johan countered a presence with a dementation power, confusing the toreador for an hour and humiliating the newly-minted prince in the process.
  • Inês, a lasombra resident, was happy to let the PCs know that Baldomar wasn’t well entrenched in his leadership and that he hadn’t much support from the powerful of Castille (i.e the lasombra).
  • Krad challenges Baldomar to a duel, but the latter refuses saying that Krad is no knight
  • The PCs raid the Alcazaba fortress and kill Baldomar and his 2 childers (and quite a few human guards).
  • Johan Grimes the Malkavian proclaim himself Prince of Badajoz.
  • Prince Johan sends messages to Prince Roque of Pampalona (malkavian) and Prince Macario of Lisbon (brujah) to let them know of his claim to princedom. He sends Harold and Inês, with Krad for protection, on a diplomatic tour while he and Adhémar take control of the city’s agents and ressources.

Ambassador Harold, Prince Johan

  • Harold & cie make a quick stop to nearby Merìda. They find the mood of the town to be fearful. Something is up but they can’t find what without an investigation.
  • Prince Johan receives an ambiguous reply from Prince Macario of Lisbon who wishes him well but also tells him that he can’t garantee that the Portuguese armies won’t cross the border in the future.
  • Harold & cie are in Caceres where they meet Prince Viriath (gangrel). He expresses his displeasure at the aggressiveness of his new neighbours (the PCs) and also insist that his domain is neutral in the peninsula’s politics.
  • Nina, an apostle of the Third Caine, does some proselytism in Badajoz but she’s met with a could shoulder (the PCs later learn that she was also spying for a portuguese vampire)
  • Harold & cie are in Toledo where they meet with Elieser de Polanco (lasombra), an erstwhile ally who seems focused on rekindling the war against Granada in Al-Andalus.
  • They also meet with with Jorge Crespo (nosferatu) who informs them on an actual who’s who among the iberian vampires in exchange for a future favor.
  • Harold & cie are in Madrid, the influent Silvester de Ruiz doesn’t have time for them but they meet with his seneschal Nastasio (ventrue) who tells them that the lasombra clan will acknowledge Prince Johan if he accepts to let them have Badajoz’s mayor under their control. This deal won’t happen.
  • They also meet with Archbishop Monçada:

And a game of Chess

  • Monçada challenges Harold to a game of chess, he accepts. Harold with the white pieces. White establishes a cautious control of the center while black advance from the sides (Monçada comments: don’t attack where your opponent is strong). White’s position begins to crumble under Black’s pressure and decide to sacrifice a piece in order to gain a tactical advantage (Monçada comments: sacrifice is good, foolhardiness is not). Black accepts a lesser position but gains the advantage of quality and proceed to slowly grind white with his pawns and ultimately wins the game (Monçada comments: be patient, use your advantages and wait for your foe to make a mistake).