Elysium: The Elder War

The Price of Death
Rome, 363 - 364 AD

When Marcus encounters the beautiful Fulvia in the Forum, he senses immediately that there is something amiss. When she confesses that she is fleeing for her life, Marcus offers to help her and, in doing so, he gets his coterie mixed up in a deadly plot involving stolen ingots, dangerous and dark political machinations, and, most hazardous of all, one Lasombra named Alba. Brash and indomitable, Alba is connected to the very traitors that the coterie has sworn to expose. 

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The Messenger
Rome, 363 AD

The Inconnu survives thanks to the blessing of the gods on Rome. The Emperor is the personification of the Roman Empire, it's heart; Rome is the Emperor. If the Emperor is Christian, pagan institutions have no meaning. More, the Christians see there being no place for the dead and the ancestors of the living in the world. Neither do the Christian vampires. Ergo, the Inconnu under a Christian Empire is defunct. 

The last pagan Emperor is dead. His successor? A Christian. The Inconnu are so convinced of the connection between the Emperor and the Inconnu that Julian's death drives the Propinqui into a panic, and from panic into the first real civil strife since the Great Fire — the one that consumed Rome in the age of Nero. 

The emperor is dead. The man who came to Rome with the news, the first messenger, lies dead in the streets of Rome, and the first bearers of the news to Necropolis are the characters. 

Panic overtakes the Inconnu. Thascius and the Sanctified gloat. In an ill-timed jest, a voice from the back of the hall names some little-known peon in the Kindred ranks as a better choice for leadership of the Senex. He doesn't mean it, but talk is cheap. The cry goes up: Herennius for the Senex!

The vampire Herennius Lanista takes the same course as the Emperor's cousin Procopoius: he decides that whatver happens, he's doomed, and like that other ill-fated chancer, he decides that he'll make his play for the throne, for he has nothering to lose. 

The characters find a man in the rich livery of the Imperial courier service, dead in an alley, murdered for his purse. That's how it begins. It's up to them to decide whether or not to tell the Inconnu. 

When the Inconnu finds out and dissolves into conflict, the characters have to decide what to do about Herennius the would-be-usurper. Do they fight him? Do they join him? And if they join him, do they take the chance to betray him when it presents itself? 

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The Age of Toleration
Rome, 362 AD

The new Emperor Julian has declared himself pagan. The pagan vampires gloat. Octavius was right, they say: the Christian Emperors were just a short-lived novelty, and the worshipers of the gods of Rome once again lead the city. 

Julian ushers in a new age of toleration. All sects are legal. Let them kill each other and save me the trouble, he thinks. Mirrorings this, the pagan leaders of the Inconnu find that the Sanctified are too many to make illegal. They have to agree to accept them. No one's happy. But the pagans have an Emperor again. The Sanctified manifesto seems to have been a dream. If the Senex breathed, they'd breathe a sigh of relief. 

The Legio Mortuum, meanwhile, begin to have doubts. The Inconnu is too fractured to do its job properly. Helvidius Bassianus, the War Crow begins to talk with Hostilinus; TertiaJulia and Octavius Magnus and Flaviana Galla don't seem to have the same influence anymore. Maybe it's time for new leadership. 

In the midst of this, two vampires who deal with humans make small mistakes; the Inconnu faces the beginnings of a disaster. 

Eupraxus comes to the characters' hunting ground looking for help. If they've sided with the pagans in the past, he comes because they're the only pagans who haven't disowned him; if they've sided with the Sanctified, he comes because they're simply the nearest and he's desperate enough to trust anyone. 

He's being hunted by his own cultists. In turn, they're being hunted by the Cainites, who, still led by Narses, wish to destroy the heretics of the false prophet. Narses, in turn, doesn't know that there are those among his Cainites who know him for exactly what he is and plan to make their move, striking when he least expects it. 

In a period of order, the Legio Mortuum would be able to crush these people before they  became a problem. But now? There is no one to tell them what to do. The humans escape, melt into the chaos that even ow begins to engulf the Empire, ready to emerge in future nights. 

The characters find themselves landed with the desperate Eupraxus. Do they leave him for the misguided cultists, who, blinded by Vitae-inspired love for him, have taken it into their heads to crucify him that he might rise again? Or to the War Crow, who demands his head? Or to Narses and his followers, who curse Eupraxus for a heretic? 

And what of the Inconnu? They've disowned him. Characters who try to offload him on other vampires find that Eupraxus has no friends. Will they stand by him? 

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Saint of Whores
Rome, 357 AD

Among the living, society has changed. Witchcraft brings a charge of death; pagan sacrifice is outlawed. The Christian martyrs are heroes of the past; those who would suffer and die for their faith must inflict it upon themselves or each other. 

In the meantime, the Christians fight amongst themselves. Constantine stood by the decision of the Nicene council and most of his sons are Nicenes. But the last son of Constantine, the current Emperor Constantius, is an Arian. He's made enemies in the church and advanced his own faction, even going so far as to exile the Bishop of Rome for failing to condemn the troublemaker Athanasius. Constantius has installed his own "anti-Pope," Felix. The two major Christian factions exist on a knife-edge. The city could erupt at any time. 

All it needs is one small event, one tiny moment that could start a citywide war. 

In the middle of all this, the Emperor comes to Rome. By day, he rides in procession through the streets; by night, he holds court in the long-vacant Palatine. He's not one for revels, and the music is somber and reverent: the sound of hymns travels across the South and West of the city, that and the screams of the tortured hundreds who suffer from accusations of witchcraft and treachery. 

Although the animal hunts and games go on far into the night, soldiers, priests and cenobites fill the streets. It's no good time to hunt. 

A preacher and a woman who may be some kind of saint appear into the midst of the characters' hunting ground. There is a brothel, a reliable and frequent source of sustenance; within a day of their arrival, the madam and her girls renounced their sinful ways and decided to follow Christ; they cut their hair and burn their dresses, smash jars containing their make-up and perfume and white-wash the brothel walls. 

They publicly renounce their past lives. Each reads out a confession of guilt; each lists her clients; each burns her possessions. Then they retire to the former brothel, now a convent under the care of the preacher and his saint, and then they starve themselves nearly to death; they submit themselves to confinement and torture, the better to be pure. 

The vampires watch with interest. Some consider that perhaps a convent would be a fine toy, a pretty thing to play with and use for pleasure. Others think that it's an abomination, a means of keeping prey out of the claws of the Kindred. And some of the Sanctified think it's how things should be, that the new nuns are doing the right thing, and that it's the duty of the true believers among the dead to perfect them further by terrorizing them, by adding to their divine sufferings. 

The city's Arians, too, represented by the deacon Damasus, watch the development with horror, reasoning that a Nicene saint and a redeemed brothel gives the Nicene heretics too much credit, too much power. And the talk of miracles that can't be true! They're not supposed to do that. It has to be some kind of Satanic perversion, some deception. 

Or maybe it's witchcraft. 

The conversion of the brothel happens in the middle of the characters' rightful territory, and the area around the brothel, if not the brothel itself, was a prime hunting ground. The characters have to decide what to do: their land, their hunting ground has been compromised. 

Meanwhile, the Sanctified vampires are moving in. Narses wants to gain control of the place, and characters may object to having their former hunting grounds overtaken by the Sanctified, whether or not they're members of that faction. 

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The Illustrious Childe
Rome, 326 AD

Constantine named his eldest son Crispus as his successor of choice. The court favorite, Crispus, gave Constantine a grandson and acquitted himself more than adequately during the war with Licenius. And then, in 326, the histories say that Emperor had his son killed and his named excised from all records and monuments. And that's all they say. No one will ever know for sure why. No one living, that is. 

The story begins in medias res: the characters are among those present in the Inconnu when Thascius Hostilinus steps forward and declares the end of the Inconnu and the beginning of the age of the Sanctified. The characters have an opportunity to contribute to the debate, on either side. 

The issues raised in the debate disturb many, leading plans to be made. Hostilinus knows that the son of Constantine has come to Rome. He decides that he must meet the man, and reveal himself. He wishes to control the future and has absolute confidence that Crispus will do what he asks. Flaviana Galla wants to make Crispus a vampire, to show him that his father's devotion is futile, that the God of the Christians couldn't save him from the dead, and to show the Inconnu that the old gods, represented by the Augurs, still have the power of life and death over the grandees of Rome. 

The characters become embroiled in several plots surrounding a young man staying incognito in a caupona—he is Crispus, favorite son of Constantine, and his position as heir apparent to the Empire and champion of the Nicene Church means that his ultimate fate changes the course of history for the living and the dead. 

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The Doomed Heresy
Rome, 322 AD

Another year passes. They characters have now firmly entrenched themselves in Kindred society and weathered the first attack on their reputations. Now, they are presented with a fortunate opportunity. 

The characters happen to see Silberic, an infamous foreign troublemaker and rumored treasure-monger, behaving strangely and opening a secret door in one of the corridors of Necropolis. They are offered the opportunity to follow him and discover his secrets. 

If they do so, he leads them on a long, circuitous chase, eventually assuming he's lost them and taking them straight to a meeting with a heretical offshoot of the Lancea et Sanctum. There they witness the formation of plans to stage a rebellion, and may decide whether to join in or expose and destroy the plot. 

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The Missing Vampire
Rome, 321 AD

A year passes. The characters, now beginning to establish themselves in Roman society, come under an oblique attack. A vampire disappears, and rumors begin to surface accusing the characters of foul play. 

One night, a low-Status Julian vampire named Caius Julius Cuncator wandered unawares into the arms of a waiting Strix. The Strix, visiting Rome for the first time, intended to beat Cuncator into torpor and steal his body, but the young Julian proved more resilient than the Strix expected, and it accidentally slew him. In an effort to defend itself from detection (and protect the Strix's co-conspirator), it possessed another mortal body and started rumors. The characters were not specifically targeted—they just happened to be there for the Strix to point to. 

They characters must investigate the disappearance and destruction of Comitor, then argue their case and clear their names before the Senex. They may or may not choose to fix they outcome of the debate by engaging the services of the Cult of the Augurs beforehand. 

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Drawn into the Web
Rome, 320 AD

The story starts at a party, bringing the characters into the orbit of the Roman vampire elite so that they characters can establish themselves and get noticed. Sever Kindred of note, including Camillus, Julia Sabina and Tertia Julia Comitor, notice the characters and initiate dealings with them. 

With a little encouragement, Camillus makes overtures to taking the characters into his service and sends them on a courier's mission to nearby Mediolanum. There, the characters learn about the operation of the Inconnu away from Rome and the extent of Roman Kindred decadence. 

They return to find that their association with Camillus has benefits and consequences: they are now embroiled in the politics of the Inconnu's upper strata, but are also associated with a vampire of questionable moral character. 

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