Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dystopic: Arrival In Miami

There's been two sessions since the last write up but I'll try to be brief (this will still need a few posts).  Nice returned with a new guy called Oxford who wasn't all that well briefed on the situation although the other characters assumed he knew at least as much about being a demon as they did.  As I hadn't had a chance to brief the new player, the character had to be a real newbie as well.

They arrived in the city of Miami (will refer to the city in red text and the character in black) by way of a few islands and other places where the characters made a point of inflating the bill because Prometheus was paying.  That later bit them on the bottom when they found out they had a budget line assigned to them and they'd wasted a big chunk of it on a holiday.

Once in the city of Miami, the rest of the team gave Miami a chance to meet up with his family once more and fully reunite before looking at the question of where to live and what to do once they'd gotten there?  Miami met his mother-in-law and father-in-law as well as his eager daughter and autistic son in their occult / Santeria equipment store.  As far as they knew, he'd gone to a specialist hospital in New York (which his mother-in-law was unsure about consenting to) due to his comatose (in fact, braindead) condition. 

They were happy to have him back but his mother-in-law had some bad news.  Although Miami's host and his wife had paid off the debt on their shop / home, the banks claimed that they were badly in debt and that the place would have to be foreclosed.  His mother-in-law tried to prevent it but she had no proof since his home was ransacked, his computers stolen and his last years worth of receipts (including books bought / sold) were stolen. 

The father of one of the four Fraternity brothers who had kidnapped Miami's host and wife before raping / killing the wife and beating him to brain death was on the bank's board of directors and obviously wanted revenge against the shaming of his family brought on by the police investigation and subsequent mysterious death of his son in custody.

Miami also discovered five books missing from the collection of books that his mother had managed to salvage from the foreclosure:

The Sette of Odd Volumes" A London monthly dining society of wealthy bibliophiles, membership somewhere between 21 and 100, founded in 1878 by rare book dealer Bernard Quaritch. They are closely associated with the Athaneum Club. There is usually an after-dinner address by a guest speaker (past speakers have included Oscar Wilde, Samuel Clemens, W.B. Yeats, and other notable authors) on some erudite subject. The address is commonly privately printed for members afterwards, and these volumes occasionally enter the market, fetching good prices. This is one such volume. Past prominent members and office-holders in the Sette have included Sir Edward Sullivan, John Lane, John Todhunter, George Charles Haité, Sir Alfred Edward East, J.W. Brodie-Innes, Edward Heron-Allen, R. T. Gould, A. J. A. Symons, Alec Waugh, Vyvyan Holland, and Burton.

“The Book Of The Thousand Nights”
Volume 4 of the subscriber-only 1885 first printing of Richard Burton's The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, and looks to be in excellent condition. Furthermore, it is signed. The frontispiece says "To J.C. - from one Odd Volume to Another - Richard Burton".

“An Investigation into the Oracle of Sidon”
Ludwig von Domenstein, 1843
Whilst many of his peers and contemporaries dismissed the writings of Méric Casaubon (1599–1671) in "Credulity and Incredulity" as fanciful nonsense, informed more by wine and madness than by science, the Frenchman, whilst somewhat lacking in scientific method, seemed to describe with accuracy and good intent a valid phenomenon. Having spent many years investigating the legends surrounding the Oracle of Sidon, even visiting that region of the coast where the temple had previously teetered on the edge of a cliff only to fall to its ruin 600 years ago, the author, Ludwig von Domenstein, divorced due to his studies divulges in this work his findings.

“The Wooden Book”
The book is a curious miscellany; a large number of unevenly cut leaves, crudely bound with string and pressed between two hand-carved wooden covers. The front depicts an angel weeping; a small figure below catches the tears in a jug. The back shows some kind of flowering, spiky plant; perhaps a scotch thistle? It is written in Latin and contains leaves from a herbal book and some alchemical works as well as some theology tied in there (written in a late medieval hand) but has been bound in with a series of other peoples’ notes. It seems to be almost like a grandma’s cookbook with each generation adding their own recipes. The man who penned it was a Friar John Cor, ex-monk, Dissolution Period, who wanted to prove Trans- rather than Co-substantiation and attempted to distill Communion wine into the Blood of Christ, claiming to be acting on the orders of a ‘Hidden Pope’. The book has been handed down through generations and culminates in classic Victorian spiritualism where one traps spirits in bottles and asks questions by means of a pendulum.

“An Account of the Ottoman Kingdom, and select locations in the Holy Land”
1911 English translation from the eighteenth-century German edition of a previously unpublished manuscript from the 1580s. The author was a Burgundian mercenary who was hired by some vizier or other to train Janissaries to use heavy guns. This fellow, de Chaut, was also a student of religion. He spent his time investigating little known sects and denominations in the Ottoman Empire - Dervishes, Zorastrians, Miaphysitians, Rodnovers... those sorts of individuals. This tome collated what he had found.

Perhaps they were stolen?  But to what end?

The team then came back together to look for a bookstore site to purchase (they decided against renting) so that they could set up their cover as bookhounds.  I had the players describe what they were looking for, what suburb they wanted to live within (they chose Little Havana to be closer to Miami's family) and to describe certain aspects of it to give it some additional character.  Each one had to come up with two things about the place that were a little different.  The players really enjoyed that.  They decided:
  • The bookstore has four storeys and a basement.  There is a shop on the ground floor.  A bathroom / kitchen / dining room on the first floor and two living levels filled with bedrooms.  I totally have to create a Sims 3 map of it.
  • The store is occupied by a family of cats (mother and kittens)
  • It has a resident ghost of a former tenant who was into HAM radios
  • It has a funny burned out socket in the basement
  • It recieves terrible radio signals but good internet access
  • It has an excessive amount of power points
  • It has lots of shelves made out of railway sleepers
  • Mark's room is straight out of an IKEA catalogue
  • Tokyo's room is straight out of a Hello Kitty catalogue
  • It has a lot of roof access points
  • It has a courtyard/helicopter parking space out the back which is only accessible by air (no driveway)
  • It has a number of mirrors well-placed to make it easier to see people entering / leaving
When they were talking to the real estate agent, they tried to talk him down from the amount he demanded.  Oxford decided it for them by using his Crafts to figure out the right spot to gently thump the wall where a dent was likely to form.  He got over an exceptional success, so instead of a dent, part of the wall came down.  That certainly dropped the price!

I also had the players decide on a type of genre that they had a lot of books for.

Leningrad chose Russian Folklore.
Miami chose Ceremonial Magic.
London chose Victorian to Golden Age Crime Novels.
Tokyo chose programming manuals.
Oxford chose non-fiction on electronics.
Nomad 6 chose comic books.

Nice then offered for Dallas to go and live with them now that he was more settled in this brave new world.  She also apologised to Miami for having secured a scholarship for his daughter at a better school within this suburb without having sought out his permission but they wanted to set it up a few months ago before he was out of the pit to ensure that he wouldn't return to any more bad news.

The characters had two weeks to set up their bookstore.  Oxford, being a Malefactor, turned old railway sleepers into bookcases and fixed up the walls and Tokyo set up some pretty epic security (they all went in to purchase Haven Security 5).  They all made a promise not to check into Oxford's true name syllables as he cast his Lore of Forge (one can detect syllables from casting fallen magic). 

At their level of Torment (3 - 4), breaching a promise is a serious thing and could earn them further Torment (basically a sliding scale of how far they've fallen from grace which affects their ability to cast non-Evil versions of their spells).  Nice kept a look out for other Fallen using Awareness and, doubtless, a Fiend ally or two (Lore of Patterns can seek out the future or the past) though she also promised not to seek syllables and stated that one can ignore one spell while looking for the presence of others.  In fact, it's easier to do so.

At the end of the two weeks she gave them dossiers on their own deaths so that they can investigate it, should they choose, now that they are more settled into their lives and hopefully less likely to go off the deep end.  Of course, Tokyo has already solved her death.  Now Miami is gearing up to solve his own.

I'll post up the information found in their dossiers in a later article as there's a lot of information there, naturally, being as it reports on four people's deaths.  I haven't done Oxford's dossier yet.

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