Gloria Mundi

A Walk in the Park

This is our bonus session, making up for the death of Jack. I gave the player two options which would be the fastest: Take Amelia (already statted, Acanthus, invested in the plot) or Colin, the vampire (not statted, but the group like him and are willing to use him as a contact). He went with making a new Mage, who Awakens in Quincy and therefore is affected by the quarantine.

I made a relatively simple plot and went from there, especially when he said his Vice would be Wrath as no one else had it in the group. When I got that e-mail, I admit, I cackled a bit. I told him that he starts in a park. That’s it.

A WALK IN THE PARK

The nameless Cabal told me what they were doing to commiserate Jack’s death. They watched the films Jack wanted them to watch rather than go out and get killed. Maybe Fate was telling him that’s what he should have done.

Morrigan kept visiting the Hallow now that Jack’s infused to it. Niamh started seeing Benny for some mental help, as has Tony. They all went through his room, which was constructed mainly from found possessions and the group’s wallets, keys, clothing and so on.

Meanwhile, at the park, Nick Sharp collides with a jogger. An attractive red-haired woman who seems a bit out of sorts. She comments on the beauty of the day, refuses to take Nick’s card, then jogs off. Nick hears a gunshot nearby and goes to see. The woman, Amelia, is on a bench, her backpack with books on meditation and countless antipsychotic drugs spilling out of it. She’s sat there, gun in hand, having just shot herself in the head. Nick recoils at that, and sees a nearby couple throttling each other. Parents killing children, everyone attacking and killing everyone. Except him. Nick takes the phone he sees in Amelia’s bag (even though she told him she didn’t have one) and runs away, trying to call for help.

As fate would have it, he rings Naimh’s number, getting the beach house. Benny tries to scry for Amelia and sees her dead on the bench, people going berserk in the distance. Back in the park, Nick can’t get away, as the edges of the grass have some sort of invisible border around them. He flees.

It takes the group an hour to get to the park, and sod the Consilium’s rules with this kind of emergency. After a lot of lollygagging before, worrying about the Consilium, they ignore it and race off. Morrigan’s “no magic in the car” rule holds and she uses her normal wits to find the smartest route to the park, instead of having something blow up her car. Again.

The park has been shunted into Twilight when they arrive. The ghost realm, not the terrible book and film license, although ugh, being transported to that’s a horror story of its’ own. Morrigan opens a gateway and they enter, seeing the surviving families from the park are covered in blood and have gone feral. They find the body of Amelia and take the gun. The wrath-urged citizens attack, but Morrigan’s zombies hold some off and Tony uses a lighter and Forces to set one alight. That’s when they realise these are normal people and have to put him out. Benny’s emotional urging seems to stop the Wrath in them for a time, so they spam that.

Nearby, Nick’s on top of a gazebo, trying not to be noticed. He tries turning the ground under some wrath-urged into sand, but paradoxes and transmutes the Gazebo instead. This is going to be a theme for Nick. He uses it as cover and uses Forces to move it in a lump with him in, finally fleeing to the group. They have the customary introductions and try to work out where the Wrath spirit is, given that everyone except for Nick is raging out. Niamh realises it’s in Nick, then it travels into her and we get into the panic of “a player’s about to get possessed and kill another player”. I love that it’s become a genuine worry that this could happen. The Spirits are not just an idle threat, like when Sloth happened, but they could do terrible, terrible things. The group weaken the Spirit enough to contain it in the gun which killed Amelia. They postulate about whether, like the Greed Spirit in Jack, Amelia was forced to kill herself, or if she was really suicidal with being trapped away from home and drugged out of her mind.

Back at the beach house, Nick’s offered a room as he’s burned his house down by accident. A white Rolls turns up with Chain, making a rare visit while the quarantine stands. He doesn’t like the idea of being here, but there’s a new Mage in town and Sisyphus has been asking after the group, after Jack, specifically. Nick likes the idea of the Consilium and Chain suggests he speak to Tony as the group aren’t allowed out of the town, especially to the Consilium headquarters. We leave, as does Chain, after having the group ask after how his new car radio’s working out.

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Made Men
Wherein we lose the direction, a character, and a character's face

MADE MEN Wow. I screwed the pooch here. Admittedly that wasn’t what killed a player’s character, but it didn’t help matters. The prelude to Made Men has the group looking into Adam’s off-screen reappearance. His presence is felt, but the problem was foreshadowing without the players poking at the scab repeatedly. What I did, really didn’t help. I tried to be smart, and they ran around in circles for hours. Some fun was had, but also frustration. Made Men itself… Wow. Things went bad. I’ve been reading Fiasco and things went Fiasco bad.

GAP WEEK The group recover from the previous night. Tony’s on the front doorstep, Benny’s in a cupboard with a scuba suit and far too many bodily fluids. The only one with any dignity seems to be the worryingly well-rested Morrigan, followed by Jack, who’s up despite his best wishes. The phone goes off and a message is left for Benny, from a cop he helped out a while back. When Ben’s recovered enough to talk and move, he checks his e-mails and finds out that Paul Kresham was at the Saxons Hotel in Boston. With the quarantine still up, the group speak to a PA saying that Chain’s not openly giving his blessing, but he’s willing to look the other way for this visit, as Adam/Paul really needs to not be in Boston. The Saxons Hotel is a skeevy joint with an old fellow working the reception. He vaguely remembers shouting but can’t quite tell what went on. A look in his mind shows something went down and has since been edited from his memory. Investigation of the room shows that it’s been cleaned physically and magically. The group see a bloodstain outside and discern with magic that it’s Jack Thompson (yes, I only remembered after saying it, that’s the name of the ex-lawyer who hated computer games. This is where I was trying to sow seeds for the future, as he’s the brother of Michael Anthony Thompson, one of Tony’s old friends involved with ‘family’ business. They found a pocket of magic put there to draw attention to a bronze disc which can help them with trapping spirits in the physical realm. With the vague link to the Licavoli family, the group went to Jack’s parents place and scoured for evidence. They went to the hospital and grilled people. Tony and Jack flirted with a nurse, Benny took on Niamh as a patient. Morrigan had the most eventful time of it. She went to the morgue and checked out the sheer number of ghosts kicking around there. Jack’s ghost had been perving on nurses in the changing room, according to an old guy who Morrigan released into Twilight via another door to the spirit world. She chatted with the kid and using magic to compel him she ended up ripping him in two, then kicking him into Twilight to end the suffering, but everything went a bit mad. The ghosts were almost all going in, too, apart from a formless one, evidently almost a Geist rather than a ghost. It didn’t want to go, and grew bigger and bigger until Morrigan managed to force it away. The interrogation hadn’t been successful. With no leads and having spent most of the evening doing this, and with nowhere else to go, I decided to call time on the session. Fun was had and I got to scream like crazy pretending to be a ghost torn in half, but people left unsatisfied.

MADE MEN This is the beginning of the end for the cabal. Three weeks of game-time have passed and we start with a phone call to Tony from Michael Anthony Thompson, brother to the late Jack Thompson and a member of Quincy’s premiere mafia family, the Licavolis. He’s got information. Apparently some do-gooder journalist is asking the family for blackmail money. Even worse, he keeps hiking up the cost, and he’s pissing the money away gambling. At this point, I need to point something out. Tony is not Tony. In the three weeks, he’s been abducted by the Greed Spirit and replaced. A week before the last session I told Tony’s player this. As this is his first WoD experience and his first time being the mole in the group, I wasn’t sure if he’d have what it takes to keep everything to his chest and act accordingly when the moment struck. Wow, I was so wrong. I used the narrative tool of the unreliable narrator to have this exposition delivered by a phone call, when really it was just Tony and there wasn’t any of that information, he was providing it all for the group. Given the issues of player/character knowledge, I figured this would be funny. Jack was saddened that he’d miss film night, but they decided to meet the journalist, Dick MacManus (cue sniggering from the group), at a warehouse pre-arranged by Tony. The player of Tony and I had discussed tactics a couple of times. He was going to keep his phone on and whistle to signal gunmen who could kill the journalist (who had photos of Tony disposing of a body) and the cabal. The whistling was the signal because the Envy Spirit had told the others of Jack’s ban, where I get dice against him if someone whistles, making things even more funny in the ensuing fight. It would be such a mad combat I wouldn’t need them, but we didn’t know. He knew Morrigan had a gun and had to get rid of that as he couldn’t have the group fighting back. Tony/Greed even tried stealing the gun before the meeting, but it seems the group took that as possessive concern of the meeting rather than suspicion of him acting against them. The group went to the meeting place, a warehouse near some parkland and an old quarry. Nothing nearby, barely even light pollution. Morrigan stayed in the car with one hand on the glove compartment so she could get the gun quickly. The others went inside. Tthe group met and the journalist was sounding confused about the blackmail (he wasn’t blackmailing, but he had to jump at the chance to see one of the Licavolis and record the ‘transaction’). As Jack patted him down, finding a wire, he heard Tony whistling and everything came crashing down. At that second, Jack knew what was going on before everyone else. Inches away from him, the journalist’s head popped as a silenced gunshot came from… somewhere. The group went into initiative. The other Mafiosi rolled really high on init and opened fire from hiding places in boxes of Russian defective soft toys. Tony started running, which I expected as I figured his goals were to disarm Morrigan and flee, possibly in her car. Benny ran to the lights and hit them off, plunging the warehouse into darkness. In the ensuing fight, Jack got shot, Niamh got shot, they fled as the gangsters were firing wildly through the warehouse, bullets hitting walls, the corpse of the journalist, and occasionally a player character. Benny covered the door out in a block of darkness so the enemies couldn’t leave, but Jack and Niamh were stuck, too. Injured and trying to get out, Jack failing repeatedly to turn on magic night vision, while Niamh was keeping Jack upright. Outside, Morrigan thought Tony was fleeing for a moment, before he tried influencing her to murder the others. He failed and she realised what happened, as Benny ran out of the shadowy doorway. Tony, now using the Greed Spirit stats, possessed Morrigan and was going to use the gun to shoot her in the head. Given the haste, the madness and all of that, Morrigan’s attempt did mean she shot herself in the face, but somehow didn’t quite die. Still possessed, she attacked the others who made their way outside, too. The gangsters in the dark were yelling about not being able to see or get out, and Mikey panicked, setting light to the flammable toys. They were going to either burn down in the warehouse or find their way out. Either way wouldn’t be good. Benny made more shadows to envelop Morrigan/Greed. The Greed Spirit jumped from Morrigan to Jack and while he was injured, while he was vulnerable, he grabbed the gun and shot himself in the head, dying instantly. The Greed Spirit was thrown out of Jack’s head, re-forming until the group could get the bronze disc from Jack’s body and bind it into this realm. He couldn’t get in anyone else or vanish. The mafia goons found their way out of the darkness, led by Johnny Licavoli who, for an NPC, was on fire with his dice rolls. As Johnny left the darkness, he shot Benny who threw a playing card back, doing hideous damage, lodging the card in his neck, up under the jaw. Tony’s player had been burning through Essence like there was no tomorrow, so when they decided to rid him of his possessions, this is what would do it. They stole his blackjack, his trousers and finally his jacket & shirt, so he was stripped to nothing, weakened enough to Niamh to use her gorgeous purse which had been made into a soul jar. The lack of will the Greed Spirit had left meant it accepted its’ fate. The group had won. Kind of. Jack was dead. Morrigan’s face was blown apart. Tony was missing. Things weren’t good. Using Space, Benny found where Tony was; naked and chained into a shipping container with only a bag of long-life doggy chow to sustain him. He was in the dark and surrounded by enough bodily waste to show he’d been there a while. Morrigan reanimated Jack’s body so it would get into the car and they could bury it correctly. The mafia guys were confused, but knew Johnny needed the hospital desperately, bleeding from the chin and with the glint of the sharpened card visible inside his mouth, having gone that far up him. The cabal (and zombie Jack) went to the docks where they eventually talked their way past the dockside goons and to Tony. He had been locked away for twenty days, so he’d been abducted just after the last session. Malnourished, naked and amongst his own waste, Tony was not in a good state (admittedly he was the third worst off of the group, or the best off if you count wounds). The group each had at least three damage (possibly each with at least three lethal damage if I remember correctly. Rather than go to the hospital they decided that mana would help them, so they’d remain injured in the beach house until they could get better. Morrigan buried Jack at the Hallow, which I ruled upgraded its’ Mana given out by one and changed the mysterious song into whistled tune, sad but chaotic.

We’ve lost our first player character. It was hideous, but brilliant. I was sure Morrigan was going to die when Greed first possessed her, then when Jack went, it was an even bigger surprise. We need to make a character for Jack’s player, and then we’ve got the last three sessions.

POST-GAME This isn’t entirely how things were meant to go. There was supposed to be a poker game. I don’t care, this way was better, but then I’m not a good poker player and don’t overly care to, so I was wondering how best to represent poker with dice rolls. Still, the player being Greed was fantastic. For a newbie player (well, a year of role-playing now, mainly 4E and Fantasycraft), he did amazingly, possibly even overtaking me for perceived evil. There are two issues though, both to do with souls. Jack was buried with Sisyphus’ soul stone, and I don’t know if Tony’s player remembers what I told him about what the Greed Spirit did to him, but that could have funny repercussions.

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Siren's Song

This session was always going to be a touchy subject. It even says so in the book. My group has a very different threshold between them, so I knew I’d have to go a lot of the way with the story, but at the same time be considerate of some group members. This is probably not the first time someone in my group has beaten someone with a dildo, so I knew we’d probably go into some random places.

The biggest problem was with proactivity. Between the amount of time in-game since the last session, and the issue of trusting players to be proactive in what they do… We started a little slow.

SIREN’S SONG

The session begins with the group re3capping what they’ve been up to. Jack and Tony have been misbehaving, Niamh’s been using “looking for the lust spirit” as a reason to hit the clubs, Morrigan and Benny have jobs, damn it. A course of action’s decided when the group try to get rid of the existing spirits. Wrath’s a touchy subject and the group are torn between killing her, putting her into a mental home, giving her anger management courses and sending her to a nunnery. Adam’s been out of contact for a month or so, and Amelia’s somewhere in Quincy, and contactable. The group have a few things they could have done (Tony’s Dream merit and Jack’s three favours) but haven’t yet. Still, they decide to pass time with the nearer issues of the Envy and Sloth spirits. Understanding that Adam and Chain suggested embodying the antithesis and then destroying the item, they started planning what to do. Envy was already talking to Jack again, telling him that he should take Benny’s food, how dare he have so much, he didn’t need it. Jack went off to deal with that while the grown-ups planned. The Envy-infested car radio was always playing Benny’s smarter, better older brother, a radio show host. It was decided he was to phone in and reconcile with his brother. There was a tearful reconciliation over the phone which drove the spirit crazy, only to get destroyed by Tony’s blackjack a moment later. Sloth was more difficult. It was an argyle sock and initially, Niamh thought she’d go for a run in it. She got to the door before collapsing. Tony, much to her annoyance, took the sock and ran. About a hundred yards. The group started the strangest relay race ever, running from ten to a hundred yards before sloth took over, getting better and better as they went, then they burned the sock.

So now what? Looking at police records, Benny and Morrigan (him with contacts, her without) found out about a prostitution sting which turned out to be a sex party on a boat in Boston. Names were kept out of the loop, but more poking between the group found the boat, The Sir Stephen. More research found the connection between Chain Parris and Gilbert Lancaster, the owner of the boat. Their reactions went from “typical priest” to “now we know his true name and where he lives” to “we should speak with Chain”. Their curfew was allowed to pass, letting them in to meet Chain and Gil. The group ingratiated themselves to him easily, Niamh’s flirting and Tony picking up a waitress and going into a back room at the cafe during the meeting. They got their invites and we had a montage of them preparing, both oblations and clothing.

The big night arrived and the group boated to the Boston Harbour docks. They entered the Sir Stephen with Tony trying (unsuccessfully) to smuggle his blackjack on board. Tony saw his cousin (“Hey Tony, eeees your cuziiiin!” Yeah, we’re GTA fans) who was saying about the family being on the rise again, and good for them. The others made their way to the ballroom after the exposition from Cousin Paulie about the layout. They decided that the hired dominatrix in the dungeon’s probably the spirit. The group… get distracted. Jack absconds with twins. Benny tries participating in group sex with some men, but is too self-hating to join them. Morrigan finds a whip, a leash and a weedy guy to help be her cover while she wanders about. Niamh sees a vampire in a private room with an open door. He’s draining some girl and Niamh decides it’s best to leave him alone, closing the door. The group (in and out of character) know vampires exist and while they don’t know specifics, knew to keep away from them. Tony interrupts what he thinks is a rape but turns out to be very rough play between a married couple. As the others near the dungeon, Niamh follows lines of spirit energy going from most rooms to the locked group room. The guards are easily convinced to let her in, especially because she looks like Anne-Marie and what’s better than one of her? Two, of course. The room is aquatic-themed (being a clone of Niamh, after all) and huge. Anne-Marie, looking like a red-haired Niamh, is being massaged by a pair of guards while another few await instructions. The group find their way to the room where Anne-Marie is trying to persuade Niamh to join her, to take this act on the road (Vegas, baby, Vegas). Tony cuts the stem of the Essence going to Anne-Marie, but not enough. Morrigan hangs her weedy guy in the bedroom’s shower as he’s just getting in the way. The group try to talk Anne-Marie down, but they try to stop all sex from going on in the room and the boat (Morrigan setting out to trigger sprinklers) which is opposite to one of her bans. Now it’s over I can say that she’s unable to act when other people are screwing in front of her, also if she’s reminded she’s a spirit. The back and forth between Niamh and Anne-Marie comes so close to reminding her about being a spirit, I had my pencil on the tick-box for her Essence. Not once, damn it. Still, we’re back in the room. Tony is focussing on stopping the flow of Essence, Morrigan’s off looking to set off the sprinklers (although it’s argued that it would have a mixed effect rather than stopping everyone outright). Niamh finds the vampire heading towards the group room and takes the opportunity. Morrigan tries using Death to persuade him to go in there and sleep with Anne-Marie while Niamh uses Life to make Anne-Marie appear more appealing, more ‘full of life’. The vampire, Colin, doesn’t need persuading and goes along. Niamh runs ahead, saying about changing wigs (to a red one). She hides in the bathroom in Anne-Marie’s room and waits for the inevitable, as the vampire drains the spirit. What ensued was a bizarre threesome, as Jack, a vampire, and a lust-spirit made to look like another member of the group, all go at it until the vampire tries feeding. Anne-Marie bleeds light into his face, scaring and annoying him. He threatens Jack who hits him with a dildo and jams it into his fangs, to try and stop him from being a threat. The vampire’s understandably annoyed “Do you know where this has been?” and fights back as Anne-Marie tries to escape. Grabbing anything for a soul jar, Niamh grabs a condom from a basket in the bathroom, channels it in and Morrigan makes the sprinklers go off. People do or don’t leave, and the group flee with the people who are getting off the boat, picking up the confiscated blackjack, giving their cards to the vampire (as he seemed like a laugh) and boating back with a condom full of evil. Says it all, really.

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Nest of Vipers

It’s been a couple of weeks so the group’s a little rusty, I’m a little rusty. I was hit by novel-based inspiration and couldn’t let the RPG take up any of my mental processes. I was prepped as I’ve been looking forward to running this since it came out, but still, it might have distracted me.

The new mechanics this session:
  • New character sheets. There are updated character sheets with a little bit of a bump on them. The group checked them out and admittedly I threw the old sheets out with some notes on them, but luckily what’s needed was (hopefully) all recovered. In addition, in trying to get the group to play with Obsidian Portal, my new best friend, I’m planning on bribing them with a level one rote each if they make their character pages. So far the player of Morrigan has made her page.
  • The Duel Arcane. I was not looking forward to this in the least. Iaijutsu in L5R is my most loathed minigame and the duels in Houses of the Blooded are the things I’m the least familiar with. I did fence in the past and I love swordplay, so these things should come easy, but minigames rarely work without adding more stuff. I went through the rules on the train and while I sadly couldn’t print my abridged bullet points in time, it heralded the start of my use of my netbook, the Netronomicon, at the table.
  • NPCs. Listed as a new part of the rules for n00b players, but I’ve been playing WoD since 1993, so that kind of thing’s old hat. Wow I feel old.

It had been a week since we had played and we were gaming at a different venue for the evening, so things took a little while to get going.

NEST OF VIPERS I doled out the new character sheets and asked for a brief description of what happened in the week. The group either tried to help Amelia (having finally learned her name) or in Benny’s case, profit from it. He decided that doing a fake study on her would help hide the Wrath Spirit, especially if it was in her for the duration. Between them the group worked out that as long as she remained calm she wasn’t a threat, and they preferred that she stay in Quincy until they all saw the Boston Consilium on Wednesday. Benny’s attitude toward Amelia had Niamh saying that she knew he liked men, but could he not be one of those gays, the first time one of the cabal acknowledged that they all know, even if he tries to cover it up. Other than that, the growing allegiance between Jack and Anthony had the latter getting a guy who knows a guy who mugged a guy to sort out a nice suit for the Consilium appearance. I explained a little about the Mage government, which was aided by the fact I’d only understood it after playing with Obsidian Portal to layout the way they worked. On the day of the meeting, the group were getting ready, Benny was ordering a take-out lasagne, Niamh was dressing and Morrigan was ready hours ago, thank you very much. Adam showed up at their door, asking rather pointedly if the cabal had attempted to cover the evidence of the ritual by burning his house down. Specifically that Jack had. They said no, although it was one of the plans they had, and it certainly sounded like Jack could have done it. Despite the Time vision of Adam, the group persisted that he was watching Godfather I & II (although the sequel made Anthony angry), they’d refused to watch the third. The girls and Benny took Morrigan’s SUV and after a little faffing, they rented a car for the boys). Salem was more touristy than historical, witch mascots, kooky ‘magic shops’ and a few museums. They made their way to Cormant House, an Addams Fanily-looking building which was closed to the public right now. The upstairs had a glaringly sterile-looking meeting room with a striplight, big wooden table and the overly-polite Chain Parris pouring coffee. A bespectacled man was in the room and all the group who had empathy (so not Morrigan) could tell he was angry, Jack got the most successes which was fitting as he was evidently hiding his contempt specifically for Jack. Chain smiled his way through hearing what went on in Quincy, politely ushering Adam out of the room once he was up to speed. The man who evidently hated Jack mentioned his business, challenging Jack to the Duel Arcane for stealing an item of his. Again, this sounded plausibly like Jack, so the group didn’t help his case with their acknowledgement he could well have done it. His defence was that he owes money to the bartender at the place the man, Enoch, says they met in Boston. I took Jack aside after failing a Resolve + Composure roll, rather than saying anything out of character I launched into jealousy and hate. He got it right away and while the group were trying to logic their way out of a fight, Jack instantly accepted. Anthony eagerly squared the circle (and gave his card to Anacaona, the security for the event). Jack’s stats weren’t as good as Enoch’s, so it wasn’t an easy battle. Mainly as Enoch’s Gnosis and Willpower were better. The duel started with no one willing a contest of wills, then Jack started the fight, missing terribly. Jack, sadly, started as he meant to carry on, whether he liked it or not. He took a hit, gave a lesser one out. He got himself right down to the ground, then dropped his shield and believed in his own ability, regaining his Willpower from having Faith as his virtue. It didn’t help. He took a really harsh hit, then tried burning Willpower to beat Enoch in a final blaze of glory. He grabbed Enoch’s blade of time which he was still impaled on, pulled himself up it and stabbed Enoch in the face. A second later and Enoch’s blade wasn’t there, but thrust through Jack’s neck, draining him and leaving him open for possession from the Envy Spirit. During the fight Chain was beside himself at making these young Mages fight. He tried to start Adam’s judgement, but Jack’s possession was noticed by everyone in the room. Jack made a dash for the window and jumped out with the aim of stealing Chain’s gorgeous white Rolls Royce. Anthony in the player’s traditional, tactful style, jumped out but aimed to hit Jack. He ended up on top of Jack but taking more damage from the fall. They fought while Chain freaked out, having never fought a spirit before. He caused a Paradox by messing with Prime, dispelling everything including the possession. The spirit solidified inside the car, the other side of Jack. Benny’s emotional urging helped again, while Morrigan incapacitated the car with death magic decaying the spark plugs. The spirit was cast into the radio of the Rolls, which happened to be playing the chat show of Benny’s much, much more successful brother, as it will for the rest of time now. They removed the radio and left Chain the broken car (it’s okay though, thanks to Forces). Chain decided to forgo the extreme judgement The Nemean had already planned, but instead he quarantined the cabal and Adam from Boston and Salem. They’re not allowed out of Quincy and no Awakened are to go there, in case these spirits following the cabal around do anything else harmful. Amelia said she would return to Quincy once the messages she had were delivered. The cabal wondered what idiot let Adam go from the Consilium & the Silver Ladder in the first place, and now they have a pair of strange, possessed items. A sock and a car radio.

The first spirits are fairly formulaic in their methods of destruction. The group didn’t really do much with bans, so I had Adam point that side out to them. People are getting there with the magic, but I might be playing too fast and loose now. I’m not sure. If it advances plot, I’m generally more lenient. The cabal are wondering if it’ll be a pattern of get Benny to use his mind powers, then Niamh to draw it out and seal/kill it. Things will be different from the next sessions as these are all Spirits who are a bit more feckless. The others have goals. The others… We’ll see next week.

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Driving Angry

Okay, session two. Mostly things went well. They went a little off track, but that’s kind of the thing with role-playing. Cat-herding and all that. This is why I love the more open games like this.

Last time I wrote a little about the set-up I have. Now for something house-rule-wise that I use. I like botches, so having the “one on a chance die” rule for botches isn’t anywhere near as fun for me. I use the old rule of “if you roll no successes and a 1, then you botch”. The group seem okay with it and there’s a lot of fun to be had in botching. I bring this up because the session was rife with critical failures. And Paradox. I love Paradoxes. There’s been a whole thing about being manly enough to take the full dice roll of Paradox instead of soaking it through bashing damage or Mana. It’s not like the group have the Mana to spend after the last session of magic-draining spirits.

At the end of this session I added the note about High Speech and how they can boost their rolls with it. I’ve also been trying to increase my giving of Willpower as we’re all a little off with those rules. I’m a bit stingy and they’re less inclined to point out that they deserve it, mainly as they don’t want to be seen as pushing their luck or playing just for the Willpower. Fair enough. This session saw some changes to that in the final scenes, so that was good.

Driving Angry

We last left off with the group at the edge of a park. Their mage sights all bee-line to the centre of the park, drawing them in. Walking to a little-league field, Anthony leads the way and Morrigan sees a ghost on the bleachers. Anthony, being the nearest, feels compelled to sit on them. Okay, not compelled, just tired. Benjamin (Benny, to Niamh), sits down before I can ask the players to roll. Only Niamh succeeds her resistance and doesn’t feel tired at all. She was about to go out partying after all. Jack is in a far worse state than the others, botching (yay!) his resistance and being completely drained of Mana. As they sit, the group see days and nights rushing past them, the grass on the neglected pitch growing longer and longer with every breath. The others make their resistance and start getting up, but only when the players make the active decision to. They climb or fall off the bleachers, Morrigan listening to the yelling of the ghost that she needs to get away. Her grim sight reveals apathy and neglect both of the homeless man living by the bleachers and people watching him waste away, it all led to him dying. Then a few hours ago the Hallow this place once was got corrupted. He knows he’s staying there for eternity, stuck in the pitch, but with THAT… He needs it gone. The group’s vision sees an entity in the grounds, but they’re not sure what to do with it. The existential issue of spirit vs ghost is brought up again and Morrigan opens a door to let the ghost leave this plane. That’s one thing gone. Next, it’s the Sloth Spirit. The group twigged the identity pretty easily. The only issue left is what to put it in. The book says that Paradox could dislodge it, but sadly they work away their Paradox with bashing damage (the coward’s way out!) or avoiding vulgarity. The main decision is now to move it somewhere else. They come up with some good ideas, but five voices at a table move things back and forth again and again. A broken watch? No, that’s not working because it can’t. A segway? Perfect, but it’s the middle of the night and nowhere’s open. Is there a person? Wha… Huh? You want to put a person? That’s not cool. There aren’t any. The last person sat down a couple of hours ago and is now a desiccated skeleton. Time vision shows this is definitely a Hallow and Adam’s been pursuing it. Yet more pondering. Benjamin gets one of his gloriously decadent socks and they funnel the spirit into it, then put it in an evidence bag with a view to safe disposal. As they put it in the boot, sirens blare as the emergency services whiz past.

Now we’re kind of done with part one. The group follow at a safe distance to a diner. A happy couple are being wheeled away by paramedics, having been shot through the window by a red-haired crazy lady on a Japanese bike. Jack’s time vision goes back to the moment and sees her rewinding and fast-forwarding time to get a different shot. A better shot. She has crazy red Sydney Bristow wig-coloured hair, and she’s a Mage. That can’t be good. Anthony grills the diner folk and gets the number of a waitress who gives an exact description of the events. Using the police scanner with reports of random violence on the roads, then Jack’s fate magic on a map, Morrigan smartly drives to a location near enough where the angry Mage is. She’s cutting around cars on a bike, way faster than Morrigan’s SUV. Anthony takes the easy way and throws a bolt of electricity at the bike, breaking it. She rolls a ton of successes and drops into a roll. Cars flickers and break at the lightning bolt. No Paradox, but aesthetic stuff. The Paradox happens when Anthony uses his lighter to go all Pyro and coax the flames into bursting out at the Mage. She’s walking towards them all Terminator in a beaten leather jacket and a shotgun. His fire goes everywhere, destroying two cars, but leaving the woman intact. Niamh unlocks the glove compartment in the SUV with Morrigan’s gun in it, hoping someone else can use firearms. Everyone else is busy right now and the Mage has cursed Morrigan to be unlucky with her next action. Benjamin uses Emotional Urging and freaks out the Wrath Spirit, but he’s still on over half Essence and ready to rock. Morrigan rusts the shotgun and the angry Mage still uses it. She fires on Benjamin (the most lethal to her currently) and blows her hand up, too. The glass to the SUV shatters. Benjamin’s coat is ruined! Oh yeah, by his blood, but the jacket’s the main thing. Niamh shoots the Mage in the leg and freaks out about having never fired a gun, dropping it in the car. Jack tries rewinding the bit of time where the shotgun blew up in the Mage’s hand but keep time in the same space, causing a Paradox. He rewinds the moment Benjamin was shot instead. Double ouch! Anthony also Paradoxes, making his blackjack deal lethal damage. He develops an… ahem, problem, for a scene but it doesn’t add enough to do anything here. Oh well. Benjamin’s final Emotional Urging brings the Wrath spirit to almost no power. Morrigan tries to convince it to leave, but it’s Essence is too weak and it recedes into the Mage. She collapses on the floor. The emergency services arrive as people are looking for a pistol the woman had before her tumble. The attempts to contain the scene (and Benjamin trying to get a fireman to fancy him) mean that Benjamin trying to use his clout with the police backfire and they take his ID to check up on him. Jack pickpockets the guy and gets the ID back. Niamh does manage to pull a fireman (and earns willpower by abandoning the others for the evening). Anthony finds a cop who’s a contact of his family’s and uses him to get out of the scene, along with Jack. They go off drinking and gambling with that cop’s wallet which Jack stole (succeeding the first Wisdom roll of the game). Morrigan remains to make sure the woman’s put in hospital instead of a cell. She’s obviously on drugs (the coke Anthony had on him was put into her bloodstream with Niamh’s Life magic). Morrigan recommends she be sedated so that the Wrath Spirit won’t wake. The group are going to the hospital in their own disparate groups. Niamh calls Anthony while screwing a fireman to make him jealous, but Jack answers instead. After Anthony and Niamh talk, they plan to use his Prime magic to help create a sealed box to put the Sloth Spirit (and when they can free it, the Wrath Spirit) into. Anthony gets a call from Fran, the Consilium secretary. The Nemean’s heard about all the news and wants an explanation at the next Consilium meeting, on Wednesday. It dawns on the group that Quincy is their responsibility and they have a lot of explaining to do, and a lot of problem-solving, too.

That’s where we call it. My homework (other than a second re-read of the next part) is to check out the future character sheets and see if I’ll give out XP so they can develop in their own, very different ways, or if they NEED anything they get in the future. I want to keep things simple for now, but if their characters go vastly differently from how they are now (Jack’s only using Fate & Time, no other Arcana, yet he bemoans not having Spirit yet) then maybe I’ll either sort out additional bumps or guide them in their progression a bit. Not sure yet. We’ll see what the week brings.

So far it’s two sessions for two parts. Not entirely contained two one of those parts per session, but Vampire was the same.

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Gazing Into You

The group were all of varying levels of experience with the World of Darkness, and no one had played Mage before, so I decided to go back to the start. I gave out the characters in a random fashion, with the following results:

  • Shaun = Benjamin Kent/Ogma, a psychologist
  • Josh = Cody Gunn/Jack, a chancer
  • Alex = Cecilia Arthur/Morrigan, a mortician
  • Lee = Anthony Licavoli/Tyrrhenus
  • Steve = Lira Hennessy/Niamh

There were a few questions, mainly about keywords (such as Sleeper) and how to pronounce Niamh (Neve, by the sounds of it).

The premade information was kept, but the following facts were added:
  • Cecilia is called Cece by Niamh, who is her co-founder. The money of one and the property of the other went together like a glove.
  • Niamh’s mother didn’t like her wild, youthful ways so she hung out with her uncle, whose house this is. They got on and time’s tempered Niamh, so she’s less of a reckless party girl. In theory.
  • Niamh is scared of spiders. She once used her Life magic to sense all life in the house and not just humans. The sheer amount of spiders terrified her.
  • Cecilia is good at what she does, but quite lazy, not above summoning zombies to run errands (not actually seen in this session).
  • Jack’s only been with the group a month, he Awakened in Quincy and by chance found his way to the cabal. Also by chance he has a man’s soul in a stone, keeps up with each month’s issue of Batman, got his second set of clothes and has only half a deck of cards (not a metaphor).
  • Anthony cooks, not a huge amount, but it gets him by work-wise as he’s no longer directly affiliated with his family. They work in Boston and are well-known there (but not anywhere else).
  • Benjamin only responds to Benjamin, is blatantly gay although he doesn’t admit to this. He’s a foodie by a long way, and discussed fashion with Niamh.
  • Benjamin and Cecilia worked together on a case once (being a psychiatrist and a police mortician, it must have been an odd case) and discovered each other that way.
  • Anthony and Niamh were f-buddies for a while and they still hang around as friends. Anthony’s also been sleeping with Fran, the PA to the Boston Consilium, but not recently.
  • Jack was an army brat who refused to go into the family line of work and travelled after then. He shifts accents regularly.
  • Benjamin has a dog called Samson and a brother, Carl Kent, who is a radio show host, an actual doctor, and more popular. The girls both love his voice. Benjamin hates him with a passion.

The first bit of time was just gathering more and more facts like that. Getting the group comfortable in their new skins. Not everything went smoothly, like having to add my own bits of information on the Orders and trying to quickly mention the keywords without having the group more baffled by the stat side of the sheets.

Then came the tutorial level. Mainly as a reminder to the whole group and an introduction for Lee.
  • Morrigan rolled an Int + Occult to study the undead and demo a Skill Roll.
  • Benjamin and Jack rolled a contested Gambling check (Man/Dex + Larceny/Subterfuge) to show a contested roll. I also had Benjamin use Willpower, then also mentioned about him taking the last cookie to get the Willpower back.
  • Then onto the magic. Niamh improvised a Covert Life spell to see who was in the house.
  • Finally Anthony made a vulgar Forces Spell to ‘click on’ the television with a spark of electricity. Sadly no Paradox, but that’d come later.

Gazing Into You

It’s a cold night in April, a Monday. The weather’s become worse since the weekend stopped. Still, the group didn’t care. Anthony and Benjamin were cooking in the kitchen, Jack was reading a comic book, Morrigan was on the porch reading a large medical book and Niamh was getting her makeup ready to go out.

The familiar, haunting, singing noise from the Hallow outside Niamh’s beach house suddenly stopped. The group made their way outside and checked out the resonance. It had gone all freaky and strange blob-like shapes were tethered by a kind of spiritual umbilical cord to the Hallow. Only Niamh could see them as they started taking on humanoid form and rushed into the group. Jack saw a car full of happy, rich people. Morrigan was revelling in raising the dead. Benjamin was widening his belt after a lovely meal. Anthony was accepting rewards for lying to the police, from his own uncle. Niamh was on this very spot, waking naked with unknown men either side of her.

The spirits tried to wrest control of the Mages’ bodies and only Anthony succumbed at first, then Benjamin. Niamh chased after the fleeing Anthony, Benjamin ran to the house for food and Morrigan stressed about not being able to physically help despite all her power. The spirits became physical with the features of their opponents. Jack’s demanded the cap his original had been wearing. Anthony’s was thrust out of his body and attacked, too. Niamh’s wanted only sex with her original self rather than fighting, although the original used her keys to make the spirit uglier than her .Morrigan hit her copy in the head with a book, before running to her SUV for a gun. After a fracas broke out, the Morrigan/Pride Spirit shrieked, signalling that they should all leave. They vanished, leaving a confused group. Niamh tried to seal the Gauntlet to make sure the Spirits wouldn’t return, but Paradox struck and she sealed the Hallow in the spirit world for a day or so.

They thought about what to do and started using their abilities to sense where the spirits originated from. A nice, small house in a suburban neighbourhood. They drove there by random thanks to Jack, with Anthony acting as a ‘weird stuff detector’. During the drive, the group turned on Carl Kent’s radio show and Jack tried to use Forces to make the radio say different things. He also hit a Paradox and broke Morrigan’s car radio. Oops.

At the house, the group started thinking about magic use to get in before Niamh broke in through a window and Anthony booted a door open. In the basement was Adam, who had been seriously wounded, while his apprentice, Allan was dead in a secret room in the house. Before Adam could respond, Morrigan called an ambulance and started removing evidence so it looked like a failed burglary turned into a stabbing. Benjamin found out Adam was a goetic Mage and trying to summon his demons to fight them. After years of doing this, he tried one last push to purify himself and it turned out his demons were just repressed, hidden until now. They tore Allan apart and near fatally-wounded Adam. The group worked out under their own steam that Sloth and Wrath were the missing pair of Vice Spirits after the five who attacked and imprinted themselves on the Cabal. Adam insisted that they find the pair as they could imprint anyone, especially people far less prepared. Jack took Adam’s wallet and discovered he was called Paul Kresham. He also now has a wallet, probably for the first time in years.

The ambulance turned up, Morrigan lied about the burglary and the group left. They followed the trails and found their way to Faxon Park, where all their magic seems to be sucked into. We left at the edge of the treeline, where the group’s magical shields have just been plucked off them and deeper, deeper into the park.

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Prelude
Are we sitting comfortably?

Quincy is a small town near Boston, home of ancient and mysterious cabals of Mages.

A cabal is a small group, normally of four or more Mages, each working together for their own good, and the good of the Consilium, the Mage government.

This cabal is no different, although they have yet to think of a name for themselves. All but one have taken their shadow names from Irish mythology.

Ogma, named after the god of eloquence and learning. A therapist by trade, the Watchtowers deemed him to be Magistos, a master of the mind and of space itself. He is part of the Guardians of the Veil, sworn to keep magic secret from society, at any cost.

Tyrrhenus, named after one of the brothers who founded the Etruscan cities. Formerly a petty criminal, now he’s working his way up the heirarchy of the Silver Ladder, a made man for the Obrimos, a path of light, elemental forces and the ability to control the flow of magic at its base level.

Morrigan, named for the Irish war goddess. She still works as a forensic specialist, in fact, it often gets her the resources and information she needs. As a Moros Mage, she can make death do what she wants and as a member of the Adamantine Arrow, she’s fine with using the dead as tools or weapons.

Jack, fate’s bitch, is a man who is just passing through, honestly. He won a man’s soul in a card game, one of many games of chance he takes part in as both part of the Acanthus mages and the Free Council. He is an adept at both fate and time-based magic.

Niamh shares her name with the daughter of an Irish water god. She is free-spirited and loves the sea. Her path of that of Thyrsus, nature mages. She is also a member of the Mysterium, who are dedicated to find out as much as they can about magic.

Despite their differences, these five have become friends and are the only official cabal in Quincy. They are currently staying in Niamh’s large beach house which has a hallow nearby for them to draw magic power from.

We begin on a Monday night in April…

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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