Masters Of The Prison
The System: (New) World of Darkness (Mortals)
The Setup: The story takes place at a fictional prison called New Vigilance State Penitentiary – a men’s maximum security prison. You will create a mortal who is a prisoner, a guard, or a visitor come to see a prisoner. A riot will cause the prison to be put on lock-down, causing your characters to be stuck inside for the duration. While a desire to escape is rational, if your character actually does escape before the resolution of the plot, you will be rewarded by getting to make a new character. Also, some curiosity on your characters’ part will be expected. If you just decide to crawl into a hole and hide until things calm down, you will be in for a very boring game. Because there will be no significant “downtime” between sessions, I will be adopting the Marvel system of sudden manifestations of XP expenditures (i.e. Oh, yeah. I used to date this chick that was real big into the occult. I had totally forgotten. [Now character has Occult x1.]).
Character Creation: You will be creating a 0-point mortal. As mentioned above, you should either be a prisoner, a guard, or a visitor. The game itself will begin in the visitation area, so guard characters will be stationed there while prisoners will be there to see a visitor (NPC or PC) and vice versa. If you are playing a prisoner or visitor and the person you are there to see is not a fellow PC, you should come up with a general description of this NPC. You do not need to create a separate sheet or stats for them, but some idea about how they’re related to you (sister, friend, lawyer, etc.) and what their strengths and weaknesses are (is your cousin a thief who pushed his luck too far, or the world’s worst con-man, etc.). While it might be tempting to write this NPC off as someone you don’t care about (a reporter doing a story, a pro bono case your boss stuck you with, etc.), having it be someone your character genuinely cares for, or should care for but doesn’t, gives you a chance to reveal more about your character (i.e. would your character go to bat for his brother, or sell him out the first chance he gets). A word on Social Merits – your access to and benefit from your ‘influences’ like Allies, Contacts and even Resources might be limited depending on the form they take and the scene you’re in. Keep that in mind before purchasing a bunch of influences and then complaining that they aren’t helping your character. I’m not saying you can’t, just that you should remember you may not have access to them or your access may be limited at certain points. You may have Media Allies x5, but that doesn’t mean they’re gonna fly a station helicopter into the prison yard to rescue you. However, you might be able to affect aspects of how the riots are covered…assuming you can find a phone. For prisoner and guard characters – you cannot be the biggest bad-ass of your ‘caste’. Beyond the Chief of Security (who is an NPC along with the Warden), guards don’t keep track of shit like that, and prison culture is too fractured for there to even be a biggest bad-ass of the whole prison. You might be awesome with one of the Latino gangs, but the white supremacists just see you as a bigger target. Statistics wise, you should keep any Status to 3 or less. Exceptions can be made depending on back story and circumstances. A word on the supernatural – this should be your characters’ first real big run-in with the supernatural. You will not come in knowing all the Vampire clans or having apprenticed to a Mage or anything like that. If your character had any previous run-in with the unexplained, it was brief and offered no real evidence or answers of what you saw. An example might be that you once swore you saw a guy walk through a wall. Maybe there’s some rational explanation, but then maybe it really was a ghost. You don’t know; you didn’t get to chat it up with him after the fact and get the 4-1-1. You might have begun to believe there are other things out there, but you don’t KNOW.
What you do, er, might know: The following is in-game information your characters may or may not know. You are experienced role-players, so I trust you to decide how much of this your character would know and act accordingly. The first section is information readily available to the public, if you care to look. The second section is information typically only known by those who work or live inside the prison walls. That’s not to say an outsider couldn’t have this knowledge – maybe their jailed son keeps them informed about what goes on inside, maybe a reporter has a source so she isn’t going in blind, etc. Like I said, you decide how much your character does and does not know.
What the public knows: Clint Harper – Prison Warden, Bruce Dillon – Chief of Security. New Vigilance State Penitentiary is a state-run maximum security prison in Georgia. Like many such facilities, New Vigilance suffers under such problems as under-funding and over-crowding. What sets it apart is a fewer number of incidents between prisoners and guards. The Warden credits such good prison behavior to excellent guard training and programs and activities that the prisoners enjoy. Many politicians have thus tied themselves to the prison’s relative success. So while New Vigilance always says it could use more resources, the facility typically has more than most.
What those on the inside know: Amos Bronson – Religious/Cult Leader. For years, New Vigilance State Pen has suffered under rumors that it is haunted. Unlike many places, however, the rumors do not stem from increases in injuries or death. In fact physical injuries and deaths are among the lowest of their type. No, what the prison takes from the prisoners that dwell there are willpower and mental and emotional health. An unusually high number of prisoners, past and present, have suffered mental breakdowns leaving them weak-willed and/or mentally unstable. A sense of unease and fear seems to permeate the prison, and there are countless accounts of belligerent prisoners who spontaneously become docile or even cower in fear for no apparent reason. Despite the grim assessment by the voiceless prison population, a curious bit of hope (or, possibly, further exploitation) has begun to spread. Prisoners and even guards have been talking about the possible presence of a guardian spirit. One prisoner, a charismatic gang leader named Amos Bronson, has named this spirit Inteus and has claimed to have been in contact with it. He now leads the growing religious movement (or cult as some have called it). Meanwhile, the guards have been more skeptical about this “guardian spirit” and only a handful have adopted Inteus’ faith. Most of those that have claimed a personal experience that convinced them something supernatural is at work. Astute observers have noticed tension between the believers and non-believers rising. Rumors have begun circulating that even the Warden is considering joining “the faithful.”