Nights of the Kindred
Ever analytically examining the events going on around him, Richard is not the be trifled with. After being part of practically ever major event to shape Pendros in the past ten years, Richard is the leader of Pendros's Invictus.
Former: This Ventrue used to be one of the most ‘in the know’ Kindred, until a series of events left him disenfranchised. He’s rapidly on his way back up.
Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid.
Richard is an older vampire with an introspective (though certainly not introverted) bent. Most of the supernatural community in Pendros knows him or knows of him, but very few could actually tell you what he does or where he comes from- he just seems to drift at the fringes of power and intrigue. He’s the most easygoing, agreeable fellow you’ll ever meet until you’re between him and something he’s set his sights on. Often he’ll have “overheard” some bit of difficulty and offer an introduction to a friend of a friend in exchange for some trivial favor, and sometimes those who snub him find that their friends and associates somehow know entirely too much about their various embarrassing indulgences.
Richard is on the tall side of average and is marked by the pale complexion that most of the Kindred share. His most distinguishing physical feature is the mustache, which has gone in and out of fashion over the years. After hours of grooming and primping before his embrace, he decided to keep the soup strainer and in the decades since he has alternated between thinking it lends him a dashing bit of flair and hating the thing and shaving it off every evening. Richard carries himself with authority and has all but given up on keeping up with street fashion. He usually wears a well-tailored business suit, but may ‘dress down’ to a casual blazer and high-thread count collared shirt from time to time. He is quite up-to-date on the fashion trends for formal wear, but one of the things that he loves about living in Pendros is that he can indulge his nostalgia and dress in ‘proper’ suits while conducting business in Underpendros and wear the same thing on the city streets and only be thought somewhat eccentric.
Rumor has it that Richard was once seen at a costume party wearing a zoot suit, but he refuses to comment on it.
Survive and Thrive (completed)
Life in the Fast Lane – With Nikos’ death and the chaos that is threatening to envelop the city, it’s time to go big or go home. Richard plans to secure the position as head of the Invictus and from there gain control of a district- and perhaps more. The race for the Priscus seat will test him in many ways, but Richard feels that he’s up to the challenge. Specifically he will have to navigate the minefield of John and Ruth’s support to maintain some degree of independence, find a way to resist compromising the principles he’s built his new life on, and manage to pull the whole thing off well enough that the covenant unreservedly elects him to his seat.
Genealogy for Fun and Profit – About a decade back Richard bought a meal for a hooker he encountered on his way back from a speaking gig at the university. He ended up sampling her goods, but not in the manner she had been imagining. He was startled to find that her taste was… familiar. She was a distant relative- a great-great-great-great-great granddaughter or God-only-knew how many times removed niece. Richard hadn’t been aware of any mortal progeny, but he had certainly sewn his share of wild oats, and he’d had seven siblings when he left the farm for good. Richard befriended her and tried to track down her origins, but it was difficult since she had been raised as a ward of the state and shuffled between a dizzying number of foster parents and group homes. His curiosity piqued, he tried working the problem from the other direction and realized to his mixed pride and embarrassment that he’d done entirely too good a job of hiding his past. Courthouse records had been burned, property transfer records had been deleted, he’d even taken care of records of his christening as he periodically uncovered more cruft from his mortal life while perfecting his masquerade. He’s had a small army of genealogists look into the matter for him over the years and private investigators trying to turn up Cassie’s birth parents. He hasn’t had any success yet, but he has all the time in the world… (inactive)
Virtue – Charity
Richard’s forays into charity began entirely as a matter of pragmatism. Bribes were a vital tool in the Invictus arsenal; aside from strengthening one’s masquerade as an upright member of the community, being able to identify those who were in need and providing a timely helping hand could be a valuable foot in the door when it came time to request aid in the future. During negotiations to secure a rather large swathe of mineral and water rights back in the 30s, Richard agreed to a stipulation that the families that had worked the farmland before the drought would have preferential hiring as miners and for providing services to mining claims incorporated in the area. He considered it a trivial concession and was able to cut a rather good deal for himself before turning the matter over to subordinates and forgetting about it.
When he swung through a year later to check on his investment he was surprised to find he was treated as a local hero. Everyone seemed to know his name and he heard story after story of how the job at the mine was the only thing that had kept a family from starving. The sight brought back memories of growing up on a homestead Illinois and after seeing their plight he doubled his investment despite the mediocre market for gypsum at the time. Over the years he came to know the miners and went out of his way to learn their stories and call them by name. He built a school, brought doctors through town, and made sure the people were paid a good wage. The occasional trips to the mine were probably the only reason he stayed sane considering the things he did and the company he kept in the 50s and 60s. For all he knows there is still a ghost town out in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains where the signs marking “Twidwell Street” haven’t rusted away yet.
Vice – Greed
At his worst Richard demands too much from those around him. After Danette fled him she was lost to him forever and he made sure that he would never lose anyone like that again. He reveled in the power of the blood and the beast egged him on. He would twist people to his side with the his disciplines or with the vinculum and be blind to the consequences as long as he got what he wanted from them. In the 50s and 60s he left a trail of broken people as he took ghouls whenever had use for them, dragging them away from friends and family to serve at his side performing all sorts of unpleasant acts only to leave them adrift when he had no further use for them. To say he had trust issues would be an understatement, he wanted everything a person had to give before he would let them anywhere near him- devotion, respect, compliance, and complete loyalty.
Richard has turned away from what he used to be, but the fear is still there, and with it the temptation. He’s developed a lighter touch over the years and because of that he sometimes thinks of himself as compassionate when he bends people to his will, compared to how he would have done it before. He’s always hesitant to join a coterie or share a genuine relationship with anyone because of the seductive nature of the Majesty discipline and how it blurs the lines with his natural winning personality. It’s so damn easy to push for just a little more, to really turn on the charm and draw people to him, then then suddenly realize that he has his audience in the palm of his hand and that he could get them to do anything with just a little nudge.
Usually when he slips into that situation he finds himself terrified and humbled by just how fallible he is, and quickly makes an excuse to leave or change the subject. If the situation were particularly dire though it would be ever so easy to start back down that path, and the beast is always lurking to suggest an excuse…
Survival – Richard has eternity to look forward to and he wants to live to enjoy it. He’s not one of those Midwestern bunker survivalist nuts, but he always tries to have an escape plan… he’s had plenty of time to learn just how easily even elder vampires can be targeted if they get in the way of the wrong person. While he tells himself that he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure he sees another century, he’s not the same person he was before. These nights there are (at least a few) things he would not do, friends who he would not sacrifice and trusts he would not betray.
During Sasha’s ascension and the difficult years that followed he was fairly gung-ho about the Invictus keeping what was theirs and doing what they could to essentially divide the city into two independent domains to limit the power of the bitch queen. By 2014 he could see the writing on the wall, and he mostly kept his head down and assisted with diplomacy, money laundering, and teaching the new recruits enough to keep themselves alive and out of trouble. After the Invictus elders burned he went into full retreat for a decade and only did the minimum necessary to meet his obligations. Depending on who you talk to this has given him a reputation as either something of a pragmatist or as a rank coward.
Glory – Deep in his heart, Richard wants power and he wants to use it to build something that will last. In general he’s perfectly happy being a big fish in a small pond as long as he can look after what he sees as his- the motivation for seeking more power would likely be so that he can better take care of the people and things that he “owns”. He doesn’t just want the power or wealth or adulation of being at the top, he wants to be recognized as the best person for the job; to have the responsibility and legitimate authority that come with people looking to him for leadership. It’s a motivation that he doesn’t like to admit to himself, because of the mistakes he made last time he pursued power for its own sake.
Humanity – It used to be that Richard considered the beast something of a partner in crime. He’d follow his instincts in a given situation and generally he’d come out on top… never mind the mess he left behind. When a situation called for violence, the beast would goad him to callous cruelty. When threats and insults were the tool for the day, the beast brought out the basest in him and whispered soul-piercing barbs to make his enemies hide their faces in shame. And there were enemies aplenty- everyone was either a threat or a victim, master or slave. When that particular road to power left Richard’s hands covered in the blood of a reporter and his 10 year old son he started to realize that he’d made some mistakes, and he agonized over those transgressions during his decades in torpor. The beast was hungry when he woke and it took every last reserve of willpower not to kill the first of the kine he encountered. It was a long battle to unlearn the beast’s habits; not years but decades.
These nights, he’s learned to question his first course of action. Old habits die hard and often the most efficient path he’ll see toward getting results will be something like threats, arson, blood bonding, or murder. Hubris only barely loses a tie with greed for Richard’s most characteristic vice; he considers himself a pragmatist and sometimes considers that drastic measures are the only viable way to get something done. He tries to surround himself with good people to talk him out of the worst excesses, but the beast can be patient and subtle…
The Will to Power – Richard is simultaneously drawn to power and afraid of it. He’s appalled at himself with the lengths he’s gone to in order to achieve it and hold it in the past. At one time he was considered incredibly adept at manipulating minds and twisting people to his will; he was a well known fixer for the Invictus who could make problems go away. He began with a very light touch but as his duties and influence grew he became less and less tolerant of anything less than perfection and would twist people to the breaking point to get the outcome he wanted. Since crawling his way out of the Beast’s clutches Richard has utterly forsworn exerting his Dominance. From time to time events have conspired to make him consider throwing his hat back in the ring and taking on some sort of leadership responsibilities, but he’s always found an excuse to sidestep the matter. If Richard ever found himself facing off against any of the powerful interests working behind the scenes in Pendros it goes without saying that he would be tempted to use every tool at his disposal to achieve his desired ends, and the road to hell is paved with good intentions… (inactive)
Unlucky in Love – Objectively one might not think it was so bad. Richard enjoyed more than twenty years of wedded bliss before things went sour. Sure, in retrospect, it was all his fault but he was in a bad place back then- that’s not who he really was. The next woman he embraced was a fiery, spirited woman with ties to the mob who he thought he’d get along splendidly with; the next ten years were pure torture at times and a small part of him was glad when the hunters gunned her down. Of course there was the constant stream of kine- whores, housewives, party girls, calculated seductions, casual flings… and Deelia. That was a fun fling, an aging debutante with more money than sense who knew a surprising amount about what went on behind closed doors in ‘polite society’. Sure, they’d had their fun after he turned her but ‘love’ was the last thing on his mind after he woke up and it was just something to pass the time and ward off the boredom that always threatened to rob the nights of their savor. For a time after that he abstained entirely while he pulled himself back together. Then Lana went and got herself shot. He’d been working the grad student for a while and had built her into a fairly reliable contact to keep tabs on the situation at the university, and then all hell broke lose when those Luddites tried to destroy the lab. Being shot was annoying but seeing Alana there at death’s door, well he turned her more out of a sense of responsibility than the love that she seemed to take for granted. Truth be told he ended up resenting her at first, with all the flack he took from the Queen for siring her and then the demands on his time that a neonate required. And the puppy love. It seemed the cost of simply mentoring her was putting up with her constant come-ons and clumsy seductions. His attempts to quell her enthusiasm were perhaps a bit to harsh and cost the Invictus a potentially useful insider in the university. She ran off to join the Circle, and God only knew what she did there these nights.
…and through it all there was Tina. They’d shared some wild nights and bitter fights, helped each other hide bodies on occasion and gone at each other tooth and nail at other times. What was left to say? They’d had their hookups over the years, and their falling-outs, but they kept seeming to drift back into each other’s orbit. There was a certain trust and a certain comfortable familiarity. It’s wasn’t love- hell, it wasn’t even much of a friendship. But eternity was lonely and whatever it was, maybe it would be enough.
Richard has a long and sordid past. Born 1889 to large family of sharecroppers in rural Illinois, he got away from the farm as soon as he could and never looked back. Life was rough in the big city and he eventually fell in with organized crime. He was a resourceful fellow and after paying his dues at the bottom he came to run a moderately successful operation of his own. His prowess at money laundering did not go unnoticed; he was contacted by a well connected investment banker about moving some serious cash. After proving himself competent, Richard was embraced in the spring of 1923. It’s been a wild ride ever since.
Richard’s nights have been quite eventful:
- He traveled the country as a troubleshooter for the Invictus, building relationships with uncooperative politicians and keeping his ear to the ground for new opportunities.
- He came down on the wrong side of the civil rights movement, seeing it has having been bad for business. In Pendros he was outmaneuvered and drummed out of town as a communist sympathizer. Eventually he admitted he’d been backing the wrong horse, but he made himself some enemies with long memories.
- He’s been involved in high-level politics and various newspapers, in a nebulous capacity that is hard to pin down without talking to the people who were there. One rumor is that he knows where the bodies are buried and could point to several embarrassing skeletons in several prominent closets, so has managed to buy himself a quiet retirement from the political scene.
- His sins caught up to him in the early 70s and he spent almost 30 years staked in torpor… he woke up in time to see the Sabbat running wild and the Camarilla stretched to the breaking point.
Richard’s current residence is much more humble than he’s accustomed to. When the storm of lawsuits tied up his funds, he fell back on one of the corporate-owned executive housing units traditionally offered to VIPs who were visiting for a few months. It is a modest townhouse in a sleepy neighborhood of the residential district that has met his needs but is hardly luxurious. It is furnished and decorated in an art deco motif. The ground floor has a bathroom, two closets (one of which holds a laundry machine), and a cozy living room separated from the kitchen by a counter. Upstairs are two bedrooms and a small office space.
Every window has shutters and thick, heavy blackout curtains. In Richard’s room the windows are painted over and boarded up, and a realistic-looking mannequin with his features rests in the bed; Richard sleeps in a hidden compartment below the bed, in the interstitial space between the levels. He hates the feeling of vulnerability that daytime brings, but has grown accustomed to it over the years. He generally keeps a shotgun close at hand while he rests during the day.
A contractor was brought in recently to improve the house’s security. This renovation includes a strong, kickproofed security doors, new locks, bars on the windows, and a few security cameras.
Tina Smalls– Richard and Tina have met several times over the years, having been introduced by a mutual friend who has long since passed. They’ve had their flings and they’ve had their fights, but for some reason neither quite understands they keep drifting back toward each other’s company. At some level they can just be comfortable around each other, even though they’re obviously not compatible and don’t get along particularly well for any length of time. There are very few people left who Richard thinks of as peers, but he and Tina have seen each other at their best and worst and there’s not much left unsaid between them. They are comfortable approaching each other for tasks that aren’t important but do require a certain degree of trust, and once in a blue moon they go out for a drug-fueled bender and paint the town red.
Tyrone Williams – Richard looks at Tyrone and sees himself, a hundred years ago. He’s not really sure whether to be jealous of the man or to thank God that he didn’t end up as a magistrate in a city as fractious as this one. They’ve met socially a handful of times, Richard’s impression of him is that he’s somewhat competent, but probably was installed as magistrate so someone more powerful could operate behind the scenes without drawing attention. Tyrone’s impression of Richard is that he’s an occasionally useful has-been who doesn’t have the balls to make a power play of his own, but who knows where all the bodies are buried and has bought peace for himself with his discretion… an image Richard cultivates. If Richard were to make a bid to return to prominence amongst the Invictus, it seems a foregone conclusion that he and Tyrone would be seeing much more of each other.
Danette Twidwell (deceased): The 30s were a busy time for Richard as he learned from Mr. Hanford and came into his own. Once he’d learned enough about the way things were to be independent of his sire, he set to living large and making a profit off of the great depression. He’d launder money and bust up the New Deal unions for the Invictus, and attend to long term investments by snatching properties abandoned during the dust bowl for a song. While he was scouting out some of these properties that were due to come up for bank auction he met Danette. She was a con artist, her husband an artilleryman who had died in a training accident and left her with little to her name. She tried to hustle Richard and he was so amused that he played along. She worked her wiles on him while they discussed everything from John Dillinger to the market for silver futures and Richard found himself enthralled with this hellion; he was more than capable of charming her in return. At first he drew her closer to him and treated her as he would any of his conquests, but the the idea occurred to him that here was someone he could enjoy eternity with, and he set to making plans. He invited her back home, explained his ‘circumstances’ to her, and invited her to share the future with him. Faced with such an interesting offer, backed by Richard’s sheer force of personality, she could hardly refuse. They were married the next night, and he turned her after the honeymoon.
At first, it was bliss. They got along well for the a few decades, but eventually started drifting apart as she grew restive and frustrated with a husband who only seemed to care about plotting the next scheme or pandering to the elders. As she grew more distant, Richard tried to cling to her harder than ever. Whenever she was in his presence he’d turn the full force of his attention on her, and she would forgive everything and feel like she was in love again… only to wake up disillusioned. He couldn’t help himself, and tried everything he could think of to sway her to stay. The first time he tricked her into tasting his blood she didn’t notice, at the second taste she realized what he’d done and what she was in for if she stayed. She left in a fury and headed West. Richard chased her, but she was cunning and had done her share of running away during her mortal life. He chased her for the better part of a year before feeling a terrible burning pain at dawn as he settled into the day’s rest. He searched for any stories of her or any remains, but could find nothing- he assumed she had met the final death.
Sometimes though, he’ll swear he feels a stirring. A scent of her perfume, the sound of her laugh, a half-remembered dream of her in modern clothes- walking through a modern city. Drams can be so cruel.
Music references: Dani California (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Chasing the Sun (The Wanted), Every Breath You Take (The Police), Because of You (Kelly Clarkson)
Abigail McLaughlin (deceased): Abby came of age in an Irish mob family during prohibition and thought she knew about dealing with “problems”. Then she met Richard. He had been trying to get his hooks into a politician who assumed he was untouchable due to his mob contacts, and Richard came to her acquaintance while he he was scouting out the mayor’s political support structure and figuring out the best way to subvert the mob’s backing. He seduced her and pumped her for information about local politics then later made her a ghoul and used her connections to set up some lucrative deals. One time when a meeting went bad Richard discovered that she was handy with a Tommy gun. He kept her close after that, and while he was traveling she served as his bodyguard and occasional mistress.
He was considering embracing her for several years, but her talents as a mortal agent who could act during the daytime were too valuable. It was an aesthetic choice that eventually caused him to turn her after ten years- he disliked seeing her age after they were unavoidably separated and she couldn’t get the vitae she needed to maintain her condition. Unfortunately, she took to her new existence like a fish to water and did very little to hold back the beast. Her time as a neonate was challenging for them both and when he released her she went on to carve out a brutal and effective criminal empire… that lasted all of a year and a half. Her excesses came to the attention of a cell of hunters who were eventually able to ambush her, gun her down, and leave her exposed to the morning’s light.
Musical references: #1 Crush (garbage), Chains of Misery (Iron Maiden), I Fought the Law (the clash)
Joe Macintyre: Say what you will about them, the Invictus have an eye for talent. At one point in the late 60s almost all of the shady deals that were struck in Colorado’s sixth district were brokered through his office; he seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to figuring out who to bribe and who to flatter and and who to bully, which deals were serious and which were more trouble than they were worth. He lined his pockets with bribes and by the time he retired he was widely considered one of the most powerful men in the state. He was a natural for The Invictus and they sent Richard to recruit Senator Macintyre and bring him into the fold. He proved a difficult man to win over, since he was actually slightly older than Richard and after the first year as a neonate he felt like he’d learned all there was to learn from Richard and it was time for him to be running things. Richard dissuaded him from planning a coup against the Invictus elders by introducing him to some of the more unpleasant things the night held, but while Joe agreed not to do anything rash he considered it a mere delay while he learned more about the world he’d been reborn in. Through three more grueling years Richard guided him through the steps of the danse macabre, until Richard had troubles of his own. Once Richard was staked and buried, Mr. Hanford extended his condolences and offered to finish Joe’s education and help him to claim his place in the Invictus.
Richard has only met with Joe a handful of times since he woke from his torpor. Their relationship is distant but cordial; Joe spends most of his time in Europe these days and for the most part both men prefer to forget that the other exists.
Music references: Lock and Key (rush), Let’s Work Together (Canned Heat), Money Talks (the kinks)
Deelia Flores– Richard sired Deelia in 1999 to help give him get his bearings in the new millennium, after emerging from almost 30 years of torpor. When Richard met her she was a patron of the arts who was always crusading for some cause or another- putting on charity balls to sponsor orphans in Chile, sponsoring a grad student for a tour of European museums, and following other pursuits that Richard found utterly frivolous. She was his friend in the 70s and was still doing much the same when he looked her up in the 90s. By that time she was a well-to-do dowager in her sixties and when Richard offered her a deal that would let her live for ever she jumped at the chance. Somewhat to his surprise she took well to the Invictus, who were very enthusiastic to take advantage of the extensive list of contacts she’d made during her frequent benefit parties and ‘tea socials’. She currently lives in Pendros’s historic district and enjoys lulling people into her confidences with a stereotypical image of a lonely, harmless old woman with a matronly bent and more money than sense.
Alana Makaiau, “Lana”: Through the years, the University of Pendros’s Department of Geological Science has occasionally been a very dangerous place to work. Intrigue surrounded the school from the start with it’s charter to explore and exploit the area’s uranium deposits and the terrible genie that was let out of that bottle, and extending into modern times with the occasional mortal who stumbles across magnetic anomalies created by the powerful ley line nexus or the agents of radical Carthians who enroll in mining science courses to learn about explosives. Alana was a grad student and her troubles began about 10 years ago with her professor’s discovery that the caverns below Pendros might be much more extensive than currently believed. The city’s supernatural population took notice as word spread of plans to map out the caverns in excruciating detail with modern seismic surveying techniques, and dozens of hasty plans were hatched to either thwart the mapping effort or to control it. Lana got caught in the crossfire (literally!) of a particularly aggressive faction that was attempting to break in and vandalize the equipment; Richard was in the area pursuing his own interests in the affair and stumbled across the young woman bleeding to death. On the spur of the moment he Embraced her to save her life.
Alana’s life was thrown into chaos. She had classes during the day, and she’d only planned on staying in Pendros another year or two to finish off her degree before returning to the islands to study volcanoes first hand. She was adrift, cut off from family and friends with nowhere to go and nobody who could understand her. Nobody but Richard. He was always there for her. He’d saved her life and taught her so much, and that feeling they’d shared that night when she’d been shot… surely that meant something to him? Alana has had a difficult time being around Richard, simultaneously blaming him for stranding her on the mainland, loving him for saving her life, admiring his culture and refinement, and resenting the way he keeps her at a distance. As for Richard, he treats her with a genial hospitality that she finds infuriating. She wants more from him than he’s willing to give but she’s sure there’s a way to win him over.
Musical references: That Man (Caro Emerald ), Black Heart (Stooshe), La Isla Bonita (Madonna) Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (ABBA)
Richard is a crooner… Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis Jr, and the others had a bigger influence on his musical preferences than anything that came afterward. Richard did a fair bit of catching up in the 21st century and finds that while he doesn’t care for a large percentage of modern music there’s so much music out there that he was bound to find a few musicians who agreed with his tastes.
In roughly chronological order, beginning when Richard met Nelson, these are a few of the songs that would show up in the soundtrack of Richard’s life.
Evil Man by Abney Park
Guest List by The Eels
Don’t Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger by Iron Maiden
Vampire by People in Planes
Dancing in the Dark by Frank Sinatra
Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley
Vampire by Dr. Dog
The Wrong Side by Abney Park
Vampire by Bobaflex
V is for Vampire by Powerman 5000
Nugget by Cake
Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen
Why Was I Born by Frank Sinatra
Man Against the World by Survivor
Let’s Face the Music and Dance by Nat King Cole