Friday, September 9, 2016

Making Boffer LARP Classes

I've spent the past few months working on a new set of boffer LARP mechanics for a Science Fantasy game involving a "interdimensional solar system" where several inhabited planets (plus one uninhabited planet) rotate not only in their own systems and dimensions but also, when looked at through an inter-dimensional cross-section, around a strange celestial body of ropey flesh known as the Writhing One.

Thus each world belongs in it's own universe with its own rules on how reality operates -- ranging from the utterly magical to the entirely technological with all kinds of variations in between.  I'll be starting off with a year of theatre style LARPs in various locations to help do some world building and exploring a variety of different LARP types.  You can check out my poll on which games to run over here.  Please don't vote unless you actually plan on attending them though feel free to comment in the General forum threads.

So I have 150 pages of rules, background and GM thoughts (i.e. monster traits, modules) and I'm in the process of editing and changing them to bring them further in line with my plans.  You see, I initially had the semi-typical fantasy list of classes that included: Alchemist, Artisan, Diplomat, Exorcist, Hexcaster,  Ritualist, Mesmerist, Merchant, Outdoorsman, Performer, Physicist, Ranger, Thief.  Outdoorsman was kind of like Ranger but with non-mystical abilities.

Later I realised that those roles didn't really fit my ideas of an inter-dimensional colony settled by citizens of other worlds as part of a scientific research facility that included both magical and non-magical representatives (as this world allows both magical and technological sciences, so long as the technology is "hidden" from whatever runs this place).

For starters, when you're selecting new personnel you'd never choose "Thief".  That's far too antisocial.  And yes, you could create a Security Ops person but that wouldn't work for certain skills such as Pickpocket. So I traded Thief for Journalist.  Same abilities: Stealth, Pickpocket, Escape Artist and Lock Picking but an entirely new vibe.  Now the person breaks and enters for the big scoop, picks pockets to find scandals, and sneaks about to get the news for their next article.  Not only does it create a more prosocial position but it's one that's deeply embedded into the colony and suggests a wide range of goals.

As for how classes work, well, each one is sort of like a specific skill-set that is tied to a particular role.  When you select a "class," you gain a core ability for free and must spend one of your three skill-slots on a class skill.  From that point on you never need purchase another skill from that class again.  You can mix-and-match!  But you can never get a core ability from a different class.

I'll give more information as I think of it.  Just thought it'd been awhile and I might as well put in my thoughts.  You ever dealt with boffer LARP classes?  Got any handy tips for me?  Any thoughts on what I've put up?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Demonic NPCs

I've re-read the entire Masks book with an eye for demons and I've decided on who will actually be a Fallen and who won't be.  I've also decided to muddy the waters by having the Grand Ritual allow for the escape of every fallen in the pit alongside additional power to the more dangerous and utterly insane Earthbound.  This will give the players some conflicting motivations.  Do they unleash Hell on Earth?  Or do they leave their ancient family trapped?

So I've decided on a few changes to the cast list because as things work out in play I come up with better ideas than the usual.  Initially I was going to have Belphegor as M'Weru, but then I read about Markeeva who was responsible for the water in the womb and that ties in too much with the Spawn of Nyarlathotep. 

I also figured that Belphegor, the Defiler Twinsoul of the Radiant Champion, would make for a very interesting Ambrose Mogens so I came up with a complicated tale of time travel and horror.  Basically in the Victorian Era, Ambrose Mogens is Belphigor (the Radiant Champion) but by the mid to late 1890s he is pulled out of his body by his sister who assumes his place.  As a Defiler of Transfiguration, she has the special power of being able to appear as any other Fallen while in her true form so she can better masquerade as him.

What does she do with her brother?  Well, desperate to finally make him understand her she used Zipacna to use one of her gem's to allow herself to impregnate a woman with a nephilim and then used a dark ritual to place her brother's fallen essence inside that baby shortly before it were born.  It took a few tries but she was eventually successful using the assistance of the London Raveners to whom she now owes a great debt.

She then reared this nephilim-brother at one of the places of business controlled by Mogens Institute.  I'm thinking inside the Half Moon Hotel so that he was right under Gipontel's nose the whole time.  Due to the similarity between her name and her brother's, it was a relatively simple matter to hijack any invocations meant to go to him, but she cut out her son's tongue as a baby just to be sure.  This is also a good idea because he can control people with his words.

Belphigor is more confused than most fallen as his memories are all the more buried.  He is growing up institutionalised, monitored by Zipacna and the trusted few in sections of the hotel that Gipontel never explored (since the tour convinced him that he saw all he needed to see).  His nephilim heritage also pulls him in dark directions as he lacks a normal mortal physiology to fall back on *and* he has no host memories to shroud his own.  He'd be completely mad, if not for the fact that his body is human enough.

His twinsoul now acts as his father and is trying to groom him in a particular direction, to become like her, but he is at his core so very different to her and that's starting to show.  The poor boy ages slower than mortals, though, as fallen do not age if they have any faith within them.  Thus she has had to use a Drain Power spell to remove that from him, costing him mental torment here and there, while he was a baby, or cutting him so that he would be forced to heal it.

She also used a few links from the Devil's Chain, an ancient artefact that prevents a fallen from using their magic and keeps him constantly cuffed, though the cuffs themselves aren't always meeting in the middle.  So that's going to be an interesting change.

The other Fallen you will find in the campaign (not including several fallen whose names and summoning rituals are included in scrolls and tomes) include:

Micky Cohen - Kel Asuf the Deceiver (Devil Faustian-Turned-Cryptic).

M'Weru - Markeeva the Crucible of Shaping (Defiler Faustian).

Egyptian Priestess - Mythocht (Devil Luciferan).

Carl Sanford - Sauriel the Releaser (Slayer Ravener).

High Priestess of Bast - Bastet the Playful One (Devourer Cryptic).

Ssathasa - Ga Gorib (Devourer Ravener).

Justin Geoffrey (author of the People of the Monolith) - Valac (Slayer Cryptic).

Then I realised that Ho Fong, in one of the fictional accounts, returns from the dead when slain, which matches the Fallen.  I randomly rolled for Ho Fong and got Devourer which works because as I don't want to unveil the Deep Ones yet (want some surprises left for Innsmouth), I can instead gift him with the ability to warp people's forms toward aquatic ends.

The Bloody Tongue - Ladon (Devil Reconciler).

The Black Wind - Riyazgor (Scourge Ravener).

Cthulhu - Belial (Defiler Ravener)

The  Sphinx - Abaddon (Devourer Faustian)

The Dark Pharoah - Asmodeus (Fiend Cryptic)
The Bloated Woman - Befana (Malefactor Cryptic)
The Sand Bat - Fossegrim (Devil Reconciler)

Sleeping Thing Beneath The Australian Deserts - Tiamat (Defiler Ravener)

NOTE: I include the factions of some of these people simply because the Fallen might recall them from the pit and not because the Bloody Tongue God holds any connection to Reconcilers (or indeed, to Devils) or the like.

Trail of Demonic Cthulhu (Devil - Draclan)

Fallen Name: Draclan

Titles: Angel of the Burning Voice (Devil).

Sub-House: Flame (Nusku).

Legion: Ebon (War At Any Cost).

Faction: Luciferan (Military).

Demonic Powers

Draclan Personality Traits and History: He always wanted to be somebody and strove to be the best devil he could be.  Initially he worked for Fossegrim the Bright Eternal, and followed him into the Ebon Legion where his liege soon became Fossegrim the Unyielding, Ravager of Innocents, after the Cainite atrocity.  They worked to enslave humanity from mortal villages where his master would often assuage his own lusts or making them fight and die to entertain his troops. 

Yet when his master heard of a nightmare spawn of the chaotic outer reaches was preying upon mortality, he armed himself and sought for months to destroy it.  After a week of constant battle, he managed to keep the Beast obey until the threatened mortals escaped their ruined citadel … then destroyed the beast. 

His lieutenants wondered at his actions, and he replied, "Mortals are our playthings, our property, and that makes us responsible for their preservation and their destruction.  No misbegotten aberration of chaos may be permitted to prey on humanity, for such is our province and may not be usurped.  Those mortals saved from this monster now know that their lives belong to me - not to God, nor to some abomination - and thus is the pride of the Ebon Legion preserved."

Draclan served his master well, though partially out of fear alone, and when he reached the Abyss he did what he could do distance himself from that master by professing his allegiance to Lucifer alone. 

Host (Lewis Mackintosh): Draclan came into the body of a privileged young adult in Liverpool whose parents bankruptcy in 1922 left him with such rage and spite that he assaulted a wealthy older man walking down the street and stole his money and his watch.  That older man was the one who benefited the most from his father's losses, stealing in to purchase his business and properties and becoming quite wealthy from them. 
Unfortunately he was recognised and the wealthy man had the police call in to pay him a visit, beating him bloody while the old man watched and being forced to grovel and kiss the man's boots or else be arrested.  He was arrested anyway

While in a jail cell awaiting trial, he gave another police officer some lip and was beaten bloody.  Left to choke on a ruptured lung, his prayers sang out at the unfairness of it all and Draclan answered.  Draclan rose from the floor, spat fire into the face of the officer who had jailed him, and then walked on out.  No one wanted to mention what they saw.  Few could truly remember it.  So no one went after him.
He had been on the run ever since until Sir Aubrey Penhew heard of him through Edward Gavigan's surveillance of odd things in England.  Penhew didn't trust Gavigan to meet with the young man and so had an invitation sent out for the boy to meet him in Shanghai.  At a loss and desperate to meet people, especially a likely other fallen, Draclan went.  There he gladly gave his celestial name and was quickly ensnared by the Earthbound (Great Old Ones) that encircle this conspiracy.  Now he serves them, grudgingly, and waits for a way out.  Whether that comes before or after his sanity dwindles to 0 will depend on the PCs.

He will be sent to kill Theodore's family once the investigators start sniffing around as a means of distracting them.  It will take a week for him to arrive in England, however, from the point they arrive in England so unless the investigators stick around for seven days they will miss him.  No matter.  Inana is ready to counter his actions with water and Belphigor retains a few links of the devil's chain with which to undo his magic.

Physical Form and Powers:

Aruru Power (Flaming Death): Draclan can set fire with a thought to anything flammable and may spend a point of Faith to set fire to typically non-flammable materials like concrete *or* to create a burst of intense heat and size (effectively doubling it).  He can also create and hold flame in his hands though can't do much with it that one couldn't do if they were holding a burning torch but it makes a neat party trick.

Namaru Ability
(Wings): A pair of eight-foot-long golden wings extends from his shoulders which allow him to take off from a standing position and glide up to three times her running speed.  These wings have long pinions that are sharp as razors and quite flexible (+1 damage), which allows the Devil to attack opponents in the middle of a movement which will likely leave them out of reach of melee opponents.

Nusku Form Ability #1 (Burning Spit): Draclan can spit burning liquid that counts as a +0 weapon and otherwise acts as a thrown weapon in terms of range and usage.  This liquid can melt through thin metal with constant exposure (i.e. if he can bring handcuffs to his lips).

Aruru Form Ability #2 (Creature of Flame): He suffers no damage from heat or fire, whatsoever, and those who are within Scuffling range will take 1 point of damage every time they damage him.


Abilities: Athletics 7, Health 11, Sanity 4/9, Scuffling 6, Stability 7, Weapons 3

Faith: 3; spells - Summon Fire Vampire.

Hit Threshold: 3

Alertness Modifier: +0

Stealth Modifier: +0

Weapon: 0 (Burning Spit).

Armor: 0

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Gangrel Thing

FatherMother, Skully, Siobhan and Talitha, again from the
Cassandra session as I have no Split Session pictures,
but both Siobhan and FatherMother are Gangrel.
And then we had the Gangrel meeting…. Kindly enough, the hosts (Gustaf Freya'barn and FatherMother) allowed non-Gangrel to attend so long as they were willing to get involved in the festivities. We set up the big hall so that the little stage at one end was the fire pit, the big painted circle on the floor was the bear pit for later duels, and the cross hatched paint work to one side stood in for two cages - one cage filled with animals and the other filled with unconscious humans with nasty back stories (i.e. bad guys) who were doped with particular drugs.  The Gangrel had etched the name of said drug into their foreheads. There was also a set of chairs in a circle that people could move around as they pleased.

There was no music and there really didn't have to be.

When Siobhan rocked up with Seamus and Walther, she immediately punched FatherMother under the mistaken impression that she had blood bound Bennett (whom she had a crush on). FatherMother thought they were playing and put her in a painful headlock and then when Siobhan kept going in the fight, she threw her in the bear pit and leapt in as well. Soon enough Siobhan frenzied (she was hungry anyway) and that just increased FatherMother's gloating though she did take a little damage.  Eventually, Gustaf threw in a dog that Seamus had used Animalism on to force the dog to attack Siobhan (a poodle) and distract the frenzy.  FatherMother then ran up the wall of the pit to clamber out. Siobhan's frenzy redirected to the dog (she was hungry) and she drained it of blood.

Then she grumpily left the cage and ate all the other dogs in the dog cage out of spite. She didn't touch the humans.

Other highlights included a series of cage matches with Peter Walsh:
  • First the human, Torvald, from the Freya'barn ghoul family. Torvald found Peter Walsh's massive defence (9) annoying and also his irritating lack of interest in actually throwing a punch at a human. Torvald scored a couple good punches, took a few weak ones, and was rewarded with ghouldom from the family's vampire leader (Gustaf) for his efforts.
  • Crowley entered the ring and threw some solid Vigor-backed punches but Walsh managed to get in some cheeky shots and - mostly due to an inability to hit each other - Crowley left with a few bashing damage.
  • MaidenLad entered the ring with her dog and was far more successful once the dog dragged Walsh down in a grapple. MaidenLad clawed him across the face several times, damaging the Daeva's pretty face in a way that worked on him, though he healed so fast it barely lasted. Walsh hadn't fed yet kept healing. How much blood did that boy have in his system? Walsh won in two surged strikes. One involved hauling up the dog and body slamming MaidenLad into the wall (before being dragged down again) and then later lashed out with a kick against her ankle. She hobbled away with her dog and drank a guy spiked with all of the drugs to death.
  • Finally Walsh fought with Bats (after Bats kindly told him to go and feed which he left for five minutes to pretend to do). When they entered the ring, Bats stayed in the shadow of the bear pit. The two had difficulty hitting each other until Bats got him in a grapple, damaging him a few times in spine crushing hugs, until Walsh decided enough was enough and erupted bone spurs that would have damaged Bats if not for Celerity. Bats knocked Walsh on the ground in a pin, foot planted beneath the spines, hands gripping Walsh's wrist and pulled back, demanding Walsh yield. With an inhuman snarl, Walsh twisted the bone spurs out of his back, wrapped them around Bats leg and managed to sever it with another strength surge (lethal not aggravated damage).  This was the first visible sign that Walsh wasn't a vampire but few of the other vampires actually twigged to this -- or perhaps they didn't care and merely accepted that Walsh was an enigma too bothersome to uncover.
  • At that point, a high on PCP FatherMother leapt into the cage and elbow dived onto Walsh. Bats quickly Obfuscated the two of them. Worried that someone might die, Bats Obfuscated the two of them and FatherMother was left to wander the place in confusion. Walsh and Bats then merely sat there, talking, and then they clambered out as FatherMother tried to attack Seamus who had been walking on the walkway to tell Walsh to stop and who now simply faded (Ignore Me type of spell) out of there.
Gustaf jumped over the fire pit while naked (flashing off his Giant Size + Striking Looks combination) and used resilience to avoid taking any damage.  He managed not to frenzy from the flames.

FatherMother wasn't so lucky and frenzied during her first attempt to vault the flames.  So Gustaf used his web ability from Protean to stop her from killing folk and Walter brought her out of it by grabbing one of the prisoners and throwing it at her (under orders from Gustaf).

Siobhan convinced FatherMother's ghoul, Daryl Whicker, to proposition Seamus O'Baoill whom she had recently discovered was gay. Daryl put a hand on Seamus' shoulder and asked him if he'd like to go off with him.  Seamus first used Auspex to figure out what kind of woogie was being put on him, and when he realised the man was genuine, Seamus simply let him down gently - admitting that he had envisaged his first time being different than a random pick up and one night stand.

Walsh and Bats spoke telepathically for awhile (Bats' power) and then Seamus told Walsh to come with them to leave as Seamus had had enough of all of the Gangrel shenanigans and low Humanity hijinks. Walther Hawke and Siobhan followed the family patriarch as they left with Walsh quickly trading numbers with Bats before leaving.  Everyone leaving at his command gave Seamus that little bit more of a status boost. Like he needed it.

I waited until after the session to roll Humanity for people, querying if anyone wanted to cancel out any breaking points in exchange for banes, as I felt the vibe of a Gangrel gathering should be one where you don't really pick up on your loss of Humanity until afterward.  I did pre-warn the players that this would be how it worked before they entered the session.  There were a lot of banes earned that day.

NOTE: In the new vampire rules a vampire can adapt to monstrosity by choosing to gain some supernatural flaw in exchange for no longer caring about a particular inhumane act.  Since vampires can otherwise lose humanity when they do nasty acts, becoming closer to the Beast, if they don't do this it creates quite the incentive.  Of course not caring about an inhumane act has its own problems as certainly occurred with Seamus who gained the Bearing Witness bane so that he no longer cared about the horrors around him until he made a point of getting involved.  This made him colder indeed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Covenant Meetings

Picture from the Cassandra session but it shows three of the Crone
and the now deceased Ordo Dracul, Gary Dodd.

After the events of the last session, there was interest in running a few split "faction-specific" sessions which included the Ordo Dracul, the nascent Circle of the Crone and then finally a Gangrel-led clan celebration. Rather than attempting to go through all of the details on a forum that would be quite slow or an IRC chat room which would creak and sag under the weight of a dozen players, I thought it best to combine them all into a single day.

Since one of our players had to leave for hockey at 1:00PM, we began with the Ordo Dracul game at 11.00AM with people advised to attend as early as 10:00AM for pre-game chatter, meetings and conversation. The fellow who had yet to play a vampire (namely because he was playing the human, Henry Peterson, in the last game) sat in as Louie Bonaldo, the castellan's security minded ghoul.

I'd printed out several copies of the Agenda and after chatting to a few players of the Unsworn, I found the only person happy to MC the meeting was the player of Siobhan O'Baoill. So with that settled she sat down with the Agenda and started going through the following items:
  • Preliminaries
  • Present
  • Welcome to Kettral
  • Apologies
  • Business Arising from Previous Meeting
  • Juris Draconis
Most of the business passed easily, until they reached the heavy weight of the final item.  Michael Novichkov declared a Juris Draconis on Thomas McAllister based off Seamus O'Baoill's testimony that he had seen diablerie marks (basically soul eating) on Thomas McAllister aura. Shortly before Novichkov could even declare the Major Judge, McAllister said "Bye-bye Darling," and dropped Feral Infection. This meant that every person in that room had to roll versus frenzy (had the pre-rolled frenzy checks sorted in secret with the online rolls available to be seen on the forums because doing a dozen rolls in-game kills tension dead). Even the humans risked an anger frenzy!

Rather than telling people the results of their rolls, I instead informed them that they could spend a willpower point to avoid a frenzy for a round and that such willpower points would give them each a +1 bonus to their final roll. While typically you would pre-declare just how many points you would spend at the beginning, I decided to keep to the one-willpower-spent-per-turn method as it felt more organic and gave more leeway. Only once they ceased to spend willpower, or after things settled down, did I inform them of whether their bonuses were enough to go anywhere.  This matches how the game normally progresses as typically you don't make your roll until after you stop spending willpower.

Talitha immediately frenzied on her sire.  Professor Jasmine Hadley barely managed to get out of the way - she scrambled over the table but tripped over Walsh at the end due to a bad Athletics roll. Siobhan also immediately frenzied, having no willpower to spend, and she turned on Hadley and scratched her with her Gangrel claws. Walsh slipped out from under Hadley and went for a loose floor grille in preparation to slip away and hide.  The new vampire, Walther Hawkes (Siobhan's brother whom she only learned was her brother at the meeting itself), sensibly hid beneath the table.

McAllister dropped into Obfuscate on his next turn (good Initiative check) which meant that Gary Dodd (who had used both Coil of the Wyrm to immediately Ride the Wave of frenzy which allowed him to pick an objective to attack in a frenzy) could only pace the room and search for him. Novichkov ran to defend one door. Regrettably Kettral, Taylor and Epcott decided that retreat was the better part of valour and rather than block the other door they opened it -- though this gave McAllister a chance to escape the room it may have also saved everyone's unlife when Novichkov finally succumbed to his frenzy after almost everyone else had left.

By the time Novichkov stopped spending willpower, everyone had cleared out of the room.  It was only then that I informed him of his natural 1 on the roll.  So then he went in an anger frenzy after the other vampires.  First he ran toward the exit, damaging the locked door in its frame, in his efforts to locate someone.  Once that were done, he came charging through the haven looking for prey.

At this stage, Taylor was hiding in Gary Dodd's room behind his desk. Kettral was in his room. Siobhan had come after her frenzy only after Hadley Dominated her into draining Hadley's ghoul to death -- and the two had slipped through the bilge to the security office. Epcott was hiding in a hot desk office that anyone could access which had two doors.

And Gary Dodd had tracked the Obfuscated McAllister's movements into the library where a pile of folklore books sat in a pile ready to burn. McAllister set off a flare (still in obfuscate) to burn the books as Novichkov stepped into the room. Gary tried to kick the flare into Novichkov to distract him but failed to dislodge it from the books and burned his foot instead. Novichkov charged over to him, struck him a blow that stunned him, and then proceeded to shatter his skull. On the second Vigor punch, the Blood Potency 6 frenzying elder managed to hit him so hard that Gary Dodd immediately ashed upon the blow.

Then Novichkov came out of frenzy. McAllister set the alchemy lab on fire and snuck around before finally using a crowbar to pry open the exit and escape. After an hour of searching the Chapter House for him, they went to finish off the meeting. Important things needed to be spoken of.

First there was discussion of the need to call a blood hunt against McAllister. But there was no Prince since Harry Saeed had left the country in a previous downtime period. And so Professor Jasmine Hadley opened a discussion about the possible Praxis.

And then on to other Agenda items. So many of them were meant to be covered by Dodd and again and again there was a moment's silence when these items came up.  All knew that Novichkov wouldn't have stopped until one had died and all knew that Dodd had sacrificed his unlife in the line of duty. People kept as upbeat as shock allowed them and even Walsh seemed relatively peppy as he discussed his own agenda item.

That was to change later during the Gangrel meeting.

Dr. Jonathon Taylor also mentioned a certain fellow he had kept in torpor … who was awoken after being found in the Women's & Children's Hospital as a "patient" and was staked and put in a barrel.  A fellow called Marco Giovanni....  The  meeting ended with his revivification and introductions to the rest of the court.  And no, Marco wasn't a replacement character for Gary Dodd.  None of us really knew what the outcome of that diablerie accusation was going to be.


The Circle of the Crone covenant meeting, on the other hand, was mostly a meet and greet between the new and old players as well as some natural discussion about the problems of the city and the way forward for the covenant. Since no Kindred died, I feel it best to let them keep their secrets. They initially wanted to have a Chorus meeting for those interested in the covenant but whom belonged to another covenant but by the end of it they didn't really have a plan of what to do with them -- the Chorus that is -- and decided to worry about that later once they had more time to discuss things and get to know each other.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Taylor's Special Door Session

Dr. Jonathon Taylor was coming down off a red pill stolen from the fae realm in the second door session and it left him feeling pretty down, as fae pills tend to do.  He was feeling so depressed he chose to activate his stone to see where it took him.

We held the game in my house so that it looked nice and homely, put a roast in the oven, took out a Christmas tree and put birthday decorations around. When he first stepped into the realm, a set of warped Christmas songs (Very Scary Christmas) was playing and everyone but Seamus O'Baoill (actually a representation of Seamus possessed by the Taylor demon) was pretending to be dead around the table.

When Seamus encouraged Taylor to sit, everyone popped up with a "Surprise!"  There was much laughter and mirth from everyone but Taylor.  Then Siobhan had to blow out the five candles on her deathday cake and Taylor was invited to cut it into slices for them … slices which oozed with jam (representing gore). Although it was ostensibly Siobhan's deathday, Taylor kept being invited to do things as the guest of honour.

There was a rousing game of Pass the Parcel with a note from one of Taylor's old patients beneath each layer which Taylor was invited to read to the table no matter who got to unwrap the layer. The patient notes were sad because they were from children in a palliative care cancer ward but they were also inspiring because they were patients he had legitimately helped as he had never harmed any children.  As you may be starting to realise, the entire thing was a play on his old miseries and horrors designed to either break him or motivate him to actually accomplish his dreams.

His guests tied into such guilt.  His prior self (or rather the Strix he had become) was responsible for Embracing Siobhan (using Dominate on Seamus), torturing and killing both sire and sibling (Hadley and Talitha), and creating the demon that possessed Seamus in Campaign one, everything tied into that. There was also an NPC called Julia Dannenburg who had been spying on him under the guise of a depressed Suicide King present for these festivities.

The final layer of the Pass the Parcel was blood stained and when he opened it he found Nurse Cassandra's skull with a little identifying note. I was also portraying Nurse Cassandra, fetching knives and bringing out the cake, giggling and never speaking (my character's tongue was ripped out but he never really looked at me long enough to notice).

Then there was a game of Musical Chairs. Taylor was very reticent about playing and tried to fail on several occasions but the second-to-last person kept refusing to sit or even walked away saying they'd already lost.  Only a few people were allowed to win on their own.  Siobhan "won" the first time and was really excited for her present but when people started saying her prize was to be tortured, she became very scared and started begging Taylor not to hurt her. When Taylor refused to harm her, Talitha went to do so and when he Dominated her to not hurt her, he instead had to allow her to cut off one of his thumbs.

And then Siobhan eagerly said that they should play Musical Chairs again!

And on they went, though this time the winner was Talitha.

The final time it was Taylor himself who won and Talitha Salvatore tortured him quite well under the gentle instruction of "Seamus O'Baoill" who had dropped his Irish accent in favour of Taylor's odd style of speech. I went off to get dressed as the final NPC (the Evil Queen Fae) as the rest of the Cast poked and prodded him emotionally to see if he would break or harden his resolve. After he made a heartening speech about doing better, the Evil Queen arrived and spoke with him awhile, gave him clues as to how to break Cassandra out of the core and he was allowed to leave.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Welcome Session 2

Gustaf, Gangrel Crone.
The first session of Season 2 was a bigger session than usual and was most similar in form, function and structure to the very first session.  In other words all of the vampire characters were spirited away to Cassandra's realm to be tested and littered with various clues as that ghostly figure determined what to do with them.  As it was a new season, it was a good time to advertise and include new players.  After our advertising campaign, we had a total of 12 expressions of interest from new players though only six could make it in the end.  This brought the total number of players up to 20 though only 15 could attend.

 The new characters included:
  • Two humans who had been trapped in the Mirror World for a few years which in the real world equates to seventy years (both NPCs);
  • Hex was one of the proto-vampires called larvae who had been beaten into torpor during Session 7.  Prior to this session he was uplifted into Clan Daeva by Lewis Epcott;
  • Gloria Brown, cousin to Amity Fine, sister to Lewis Epcott and niece to Duchess Alicia Brown;
  • Kettral, sire to McAllister and grand-childe of Yzador;
  • MaidenLad, childe of FatherMother
  • Crowley, childe of the infamous Grandma Hollis of FatherMother's initial circle who was also an uplifted larvae from Session 7
  • Gustaf, new character from an existing player, had newly arrived to locate some family members in the city.
Many of the new characters were designed with a strong degree of inter-connectedness as it eases participation in the game and gives people a quick vested interest in the new characters.  Many of these characters were pre-generated with the option for players to either adopt them or give them back in the end.

So what happened during the game?

In short, a lot!

We had five hours in two main rooms.  The session started with the Circle of the Crone plus humans in one room and the Ordo Dracul in the other room plus the one Carthian PC.  The doors between those two halls were locked (padlock image blue tacked to the door on each side to represent this) and the doors would only open when it was unlocked by both sides (padlock image removed from the other side). You needed Larceny to do it so it gave the thief-types a chance to shine and it allowed the two groups to moderate when they would mingle.  There were other ways to cross that barrier individually (shrinking down to spider form or using Auspex 5 or even Acute Senses).

In each room there were two projectors showing a static blurred figure and occasional text in Typewriter font interspersed with lengthy periods of ambient music.  I'd learned my lesson from last time by using a change from ambient to lyric-based music to signal when the text would display but made the error in having the text move too rapidly (it reads differently when you're sitting at a computer screen compared to reading a projection).  I also made all of the clips add up to six rather than five hours so I had to skip ahead occasionally through the blank spaces between text clips. This also meant I accidentally skipped some text. Luckily that text, while cool, wasn't strictly necessary and can be used again.

There was also an alchemy lab set up which had the ingredients necessary for a couple puzzles and which could be used to forge one of two styles of love potions -- one made with Changeling blood and one made with Vampire blood.  I won't say how many were made, only that far fewer were made than expected and none were given to player characters, which is nice of them.

There was also a blood bowl people could drink to replenish their blood, though no one did, and a back table set up with nice snack foods and sweets that would only taste good for the mortals or those who bought MaidenLad's Flowers of Demeter (which had been given to MaidenLad by Grandma Hollis).

Three of the characters arrived high as kites on special fae drugs, which led to some interesting scenes.  A Major boon was spent by one high character to force another character to take a drug.  This was poor Dr. Jonathon Taylor who really needed more conditions to deal with.

The characters soon discovered that Nurse Cassandra wasn't giving them Strix to glean information from and exorcise like she had last time.  Oh no, instead they had a certain amount of time to solve certain puzzles around the room which would summon certain individuals in to talk with them.  These individuals would slowly deteriorate over time in unique ways and the other characters could either save them or destroy them. Leaving them too long without a decision would cause terrible repercussions … like madness leading to pyromania or spontaneous combustion.

Each time someone was summoned or something similar happened, the bell would ring.  Each bell that rang those who were out would find their curse progress.  This ensured that there were never too many cast out at the same time.

How did I get the cast? Well, I pre-arranged with some players that when a certain puzzle was solved I would appear them with a bell as the ghost of Nurse Cassandra, tap their character on the shoulder and lead them to the summoning sigil. They would disappear, a mask would appear in their place, and the player would then leave to dress up as the NPC. No one knew what arrangements had been made, what NPCs would arrive or which players would disappear.

The characters and their puzzles were:

  • Nicks (necromancer) could be summoned by setting fire to an offering bowl full of bark chips (LED candles hidden in the bark chips to represent fire) at which point his pyre-flame marionette egg would appear in the middle.  He could be saved by convincing him without mystical power to give someone the orb or slain by stealing it from him (which sped up his death).
  • The Blue Girl (true fae) could be summoned by playing her deck of cards "Love Letter" in the usual manner.  She could be healed by giving her the warming potion (she was growing increasingly icy) or harmed by giving her the sleep draught (which had a warning label that it would worsen the symptoms of hypothermia).
  • Skully could be summoned by opening the safe (whose combination was a letter riddle for OWL which could be converted into numbers using the telephone beside it which had say ABC listed over the button for 1, etc.) Skully could be saved through tears of genuine guilt or damned through being shot with the phosphorous rounds.
  • The Maid (Rider -- weaker custom variant of a Geist) could be summoned by answering the riddle put forth by the four paintings that were placed on the window sills (which luckily enough actually had a number permanently etched into them) and then finding a nail which was described via the riddle.
  • The Oracle (Rider) could be summoned by getting the deck of faux tarot cards (actually language teaching cards) from under the scorpion in a box contained in the safe. Normally a riddle had to be answered from the scorpion but the person using Animalism was so polite that they managed to convince the scorpion to simply hand it over. He could be saved by someone giving him a guilty secret powerful enough that it could get them killed.
  • The Cultist could be summoned by three people drinking out of the communion cup but instead of that technique she was pulled out due to a request given to the Blue Girl who simply wove her magic into the sigil to retrieve the woman.  This happened right before the end so that no one really understood what the cultist was raving about.
  • There was also changeling who could be summoned by a game of Gloom (native to Wonder City) but no one got around to finishing that game.
Strangely enough, each and every NPC summoned was saved and their information largely delivered.  I'd expected that the Blue Girl would be purposefully slain and Nicks accidentally killed when no one bothered to gain his trust.  Instead, full win conditions all round!

This time they dealt with Compassion rather than Mercy as the angels sent by the God Machine.  Compassion's shawls fell off her as she ran through the room, sporadically pausing in a seizure mid-speech as she babbled at them about all kinds of matters. Finally she stopped by one table and held out her hands and told them to vote for either Order (the Throne) or Chaos (Cassandra). Each person who had a stone (new characters) had to vote by placing the stone in one of her two hands.

The characters who had been around awhile all encouraged them to vote for Cassandra in the hopes that by empowering her enough they could remove the gloom walls.  When they left they found the gloom walls were all still intact.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Masks of Demonic Nyarlathotep (Telegram from Mr. Elias)

Books, character journals and NPC sheets.
SATURDAY, 10th January

WARNING: These are the session summaries of my Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign adapted for Demon: the Fallen but using much of the Mythos in a similar capacity.  Thus if you are a player eager to play in that campaign you really shouldn't read along due to the inevitable spoilers.

Lady Gwen and Lord Theodore (Gipontel) manage to convince their parents that another trip to New York is in order.  Sincetheir previous trip and visit to the Mogens Estate proved so lucrative, and since the twins are now eighteen, it was agreed upon though their mother, Countess Pettinghew,  was to come along with them as a chaperone.  Especially since the exuberant Letty Harrinton, youngest daughter of Lord Harrington, would be coming along.

They travelled on the Mauretania shortly before New Years Eve and arrived to a very cold and snowy New York.  Lady Gwen and Miss Letty remained as excitable as ever as they disembarked and went to the two taxis provided for them by Ambrose Mogens.  They are taken to the Waldorf-Astoria where they meet with two guides provided to them by Ambrose Mogens - one very sophisticated guide for the countess and a very nervous Ingrid Kensington (Nithriel) who was feeling all the more self-conscious in the dress she had been given for the occasion.

They have two days of tourism which pass by very nicely.

MONDAY, 12th January

Nithriel returns to work and finds Rupert Harper, feeling very smug about a particular telegram he'd been sent by an author who worked for Prospero Press (owned by her parents).  A certain Mr. Jackson Elias who wanted an investigative team to help him with an expedition and who had seen fit to telegram an acquaintance rather than his employers.  Nithriel managed to convince him to hand over the telegram, which he happily did because he didn't want to get messed up in any additional work.

A corpse arrives for their investigation who turns out to have died from drowning.  Nithriel attempts to resurrect him but the man just lies there, catatonic.  It seems that her powers have a certain time limit in freshness.  Nithriel simply covers his face with a sheet.  Mr. Harper forces her to spend the night in the morgue, in case he wakes up and starts doing anything crazy.  He then heads home early.

Nithriel has to sleep on the chair not far from that creepy not-dead man.  After several hours, the fellow expires again.  Thankfully.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Rodazy and the Domovoii

Vampires have such complex feasting tables....
This gathering was held at the Apothecary (in-game venue not real world venue, unfortunately) and it was relatively quiet social gathering.  Little did the other vampires know but it wasn't the Elder Mekhet Primogen running the event but his reflection, Rodazy (Yzador backwards).  You see, Yzador had made a deal with his reflection to allow him to host the event in exchange for providing some information in return on the Mirror World.  Yzador also had five Flowers of Demeter sale for a trivial boon apiece (courtesy of Grandma Hollis) and some reasonably priced Lacrima for sale.  As always, we used Ferrero Rocheres as Flowers of Demeter and iced tea for Lacrima.

The main leaders of the vampire court spent the entire session in a back room as they have a wont to do so people didn't really see Prince Harry Saeed, Seamus O'Baoill, Michael Novichkov or Professor Jasmine Hadley very often at all.
The lower ranks enjoyed their drinks, purchased Flowers and Lacrima, and had themselves a party.  Rodazy (whom they thought was Yzador)  encouraged them to indulge their vices, messed with the spirits of the house (who had already been awoken and inspired to act) and otherwise kept those in the main rooms thoroughly entertained.
At one point a drunk Siobhan O'Baoill convinced most of the room to go with her to the state museum to steal their meteoric iron to better combat the fae.  Sheriff FatherMother (I believe, it's been awhile) went to the back room to rouse the elders to stop them and it was left to Seamus O'Baoill to go and fetch them back in.
I'm sure more happened but, as I said, it's been awhile.  Hopefully my players will tell me if I miss anything significant.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Demonic Trails of Cthulhu: First Downtimes

As the last session took place in July 1923 while the next session will begin on the 9th of January, 1925, we have almost two years of downtime.  So what do the characters get up to?  Well they each get two free skill points they can sink in any skills and this is a great time to justify those spends.

Nithriel does some work for the Mogens Institute, bringing a few dead individuals back to life who died from some of the pharmaceutical tests, as well as some individuals of importance to the cult. She's also told to bring likely bodies to be frozen in the Institute's own morgue to be reawaken for possession by a demon once the summoning rituals are complete.  After all she can still raise them even if they've been dead a day, they're just mindless and therefore perfect hosts.
She also gets to know the other two Fallen who work for Belphigor and the only two other Fallen known to him in this world.  These included Zipacna (earth forging angel called an Annunaki) and Ezurial (angel of the wilds called a Rabisu).  She mentions their names to Gipontel during an invocation one night, though both are Faustians, Gipontel is eager to know that another Annunaki was on this world.
She reveals herself to her boss, Rupert Harper, who freaks out and wants her to stop and doesn't take kindly to her raising a random dead person in her true form.  He tries to make sense of her history lessons on a chalkboard but later keeps forgetting many of the details (partially on purpose). 
During her speech she made a point to invoke Haruta while bitching about him and so later on after she had dropped the connection, she kept getting invoked by a mad Haruta in the abyss (or so it seems). He demanded she find a way to free him, and she agreed so long as he ceased invoking her, though to begin with she had no desire to do it.  Until she found out Gipontel's plans and then figured why shouldn't she invoke her oldest friend?

Nithriel also gets to talking to Jackson Elias at Prospero Press about his cult investigations and gets some information (Text Can Be Found Here) on how to deal with cults.  She starts reading his books and gains two temporary 1-point pools to help her in her next adventure.  Sons of Death gave her a 1-point History for how previous regimes have tried to stamp out cults while Way of Terror gave her a 1-point Assess Honesty for identifying cult-like behaviors.
Gipontel returns to his boarding school where he must spend the next year and a half learning how to be a gentleman until his host finally reaches the age of eighteen.  Unfortunately it takes him awhile to realise that his body won't age while he has Faith in his system and so he still looks quite young by the time the trip back to New York takes place.  He makes a point to pick up Arabic and learns some tidbits on occultism and theology from the library as he seeks to summon forth his old friend, Ahrimal. 

Learning that Belphigor has successfully summoned Zipacna, he invokes Belphigor from across the way and demands all of his research materials on that summoning ritual.  The two debate a little bit, politically rubbing up against each other, before settling on Gipontel having access to those materials -- but only in New York.  Belphigor also offers access to his library and laboratory, and limited access to his cult, in order to do it.

Naturally Gipontel can't therefore work on this ritual until he has completed his studies, but what is a year and a half to an immortal being?  Occasionally he invokes Ahrimal who rambles madly, occasionally bursting into harsh barks of laughter or sudden sobs.  It's a very depressing process.  At least he can have socially awkward conversations with Zipacna where the two talk at each other about their own fixed interests while knowing the other won't judge them and is kind of listening -- as is the Annunaki way.
Gipontel also arranges toward the end of 1924 to celebrate his first year free from university.  He even gets permission to go back to New York for a month or two, which his father approves of since his business trip and visit to Ambrose Mogens certainly gave him many financial advantages in the New York sector that he's eager to ensure.  His sister, Gwen, and her friend, Letty, also manage to get permission to go with him so long as he chaperones them.  Their mother also accompanies them.
Finally Gipontel is told by his father, the Earl, that he must have a valet, even as the youngest son.  Since his own father's valet is due to retire, Gipontel arranges to have him as his valet -- with a difference.  He grants his valet his youth again in a demonic pact.  It turns out his father's valet was quite a handsome man back in the day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Destiny's Scythe

The session began innocently enough with everyone invited to attend Yzador's festivities.  There were five Flowers of Demeter available (actually cup cakes) and some bottles of whiskey and wine (actually iced tea and cordial) that could only be truly enjoyed by those who ate one of the flowers.  Since Yzador was only charging a trivial boon for them, it didn't take too long for all of the flowers to be sold.

Most of the upper echelons were in the back room for much of the session, barring the prince whose player couldn't attend and so the character was away on other business.  Yzador spent much of the time as a charming host who had some strange quirks that were unusual for those who knew him.  He also had the chance to introduce everyone to the Crone neonate, Contrary Mary, who had been rescued from the Undercity within the past week during the downtime phase between sessions.

Contrary Mary (a Non Player Character) got to impress everyone with her huge great sword that was too heavy for a regular person to even carry and which certainly drew the attention of the supremely strong elder, Michael Novichkov, who was one of the very few who could swing it.

Professor Jasmine Hadley declared that her childe, Talitha Salvatore, was now the Lesser Harpy and that people could register their boons with her.  The current harpy, Amity Fine, was aware of this development and though she didn't attend the gathering her approval had been sought.

The gathering was plagued by strange spiritual activity which included a bizarre knee-high fog, doors that wouldn't open unless asked nicely, and strange illusions written on mirrors and other reflective surfaces.  Finally Yzador quietly sang that "Alas he cannot stay" and then dove into the tall mirror that had been brought into the event for the purpose.  (Well, the player made the motion and described his action in front of the tall mirror - glass hurts.)

This left the neonates on their own so in typical neonate fashion, they decide to break into the museum to get their hands on some cold iron meteorites as Siobhan O'Baoill was currently obsessed with gathering information and tools against the fae.  Their attempts were interrupted as Jonathon Williams went and told on them and they were chased down by Seamus O'Baoill (well, he hurried up to them as they stumbled drunkenly down the street).

It turns out there were plans in the wings to finally take out the Delphin Island demon.  Everyone was brought together, armed up, and headed over to Delphin Island.

Unfortunately I have no picture of the battle map so you'll
need to make do with a picture of the Pathfinder Pawns from Paizo.

Now since large group combats can be an exercise in prolonged agony and hours of waiting, I've developed a few tricks to speed things up.  I had already pre-rolled Initiative for everyone and so I had them sit in a circle of chairs around a coffee table in Initiative order so that they had a visual reference for when they would be called upon.  I placed a map with some miniatures (from the Inner Sea Pathfinder Pawn collection) on the coffee table.  This was to ensure that everyone had some idea of where they were to cut down on the descriptions and re-descriptions, especially since I knew I would be terrible at remembering where 9 PCs, two dogs and 11 NPCs were standing.

I used a Stone Golem of Deskari from the Worldwound Bestiary Box to represent the demon from the pond which only came up after five rounds of fighting the vampire larvae (near mindless mob of recently made and weaker vampires).  There were three players who didn't have combatant characters so I gave two of them five of the larvae apiece to control and the third got to run Contrary Mary.  He even wore her mask.  I kept control of the Big Demon as I'd been surprised by the sudden assault and didn't have a write up explaining all of the creature's powers to hand.

Some key moments in the combat included:
  • Seamus' two zombie dogs dropping bag loads of salt into the dark ponds to kick things off.
  • The ten zombies standing up in the ponds (ponds represented by plates).
  • Everyone tensely holding their actions so that the two snipers could aim for five rounds.
  • Novichkov staking a larvae with a thrown stake.
  • The larvae mobs tearing the two zombie dogs apart.
  • FatherMother being slammed by a larvae mob to the ground - then Earth Melding away.
  • Yzador being slammed by a larvae mob to the ground - who ignored his Nightmare.
  • FatherMother joining the pile on the ground to help Yzador by smashing larvae into the dirt.
  • While Talitha picked them off the both of them using a rifle.
  • Contrary Mary being slammed by a larvae mob to the ground - who ripped her arm off.
  • The demon rising from the depths of the pond with a giant scythe.
  • Siobhan failing a save and thinking the demon is actually a possessed Monroe (human boss).
  • Siobhan begging everyone not to hurt him and then trying to stumble in the way.
  • Professor Jasmine Hadley being uncertain of her claims and so shoots the larvae.
  • Jonathon Williams using Celerity to tear across the field to the demon.
  • Jonathon Williams using Parkour to run up the demon to reach its head.
  • Jonathon Williams slamming a holy water balloon down its gob.
  • Jonathon Williams being knocked to the ground and then implanted with a parasite.
  • Jonathon Williams arising as a controlled vampire, pops the equivalent of Greater Darkness.
  • Contrary Mary frenzying and feeding on two larvae.
  • Yzador running out of blood and feeding on a downed larvae.
  • Yzador slaying that downed larvae to remove the blood bond.
  • Talitha Salvatore growing wings and flying above the field.
  • Talitha Salvatore getting ten successes plus four damage on a shot that kills the demon.
It was a pretty good combat and while it did take a couple hours, we got through almost twenty rounds and no one seemed bored.  For a mass combat, that's pretty amazing.  For a LARP combat, that's pretty spectacular.

NOTE: Neither the other players nor characters knew of this, but the Yzador they saw for the first part of this session was actually his Mirror Reflection Rodazy that was a sentient and malicious spirit ever since his post-mortem Embrace (see Shadow Mekhet in the Mekhet Clanbook for more information).  Yzador had made a deal with his own reflection to allow him his own party so long as he assisted with spying on the other supernatural creatures in the city.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Rex Rutilus

Siobhan, her cop partner and the criminal snake.

The following is written diary style by one of the players involved in the game:

"So yesterday, which was a month ago but still kind of yesterday, I told Seamus, Amity and McAllistair about my deal with Blue Girl on our way to see ThreePenny Jack. I didn’t mean to, it just kind of happened because Seamus was on my back about something and I wanted to annoy him. So after being lectured for a while, and after heading through the tunnels, seeing Nickz (And hearing about some Serial Killer thing) we went to go see Three Penny so I could find out a little more about the Fae. 

It was a good thing I told everyone because they pointed out all the flaws in the ‘contract’ and Three Penny made a deal with me so that I could get what I wanted out of the deal initially. Me - 1.  Blue Girl – bitter nil. Unfortunately for my deal with ThreePenny I had to have another stone to let him into Rex’s realm which meant I had to ask McAllistair for his stone. I offered a Major boon – MAJOR. But noooo I had to be all touchy feely and he traded me. I’m still not sure who got the raw end of the deal…

After aaaall the yelling, we had to head over to Rex’s domain straight away in case the Blue Girl found out somehow, and Amity went home. Or she was supposed to but she came anyways – more on how that went later.

So we went through the door at Himeji Gardens and I woke up in some old timey kind of office after the cigarette I was apparently smoking fell on my shirt and I was being yelled at by ‘my boss’ about not filing some crappy paperwork or something, I dunno, for pretend it was strangely reminiscent of being at my actual work… Anyways we were all playing our roles or some crap. I was Jack something-or-rather, a detective that didn’t play by the rules, McAllistair was some drunken PI, Seamus was a nosy reporter and Amity was a singer at a club...  Anyways, I had to investigate some stupid murder that happened but didn’t.

Two vampires chatting to a changeling bartender.
Fucking Changelings, I swear. 

“You have to investigate a murder!”

“What are you questioning them for? No one got murdered, they’re still alive right over there, see? But I’ll tell you about someone else that got murdered”. 

“Oh that person's not murdered silly – they’re right over there – but that first person you were investigating…”

Well in the beginning I thought I had to solve the murders to get out. But I didn’t have to solve the murders, the real crime was that they’re all fucking insane changelings and they just murder people because they don’t play their part.

The worst part of not playing your part is when Rex comes and scares the absolute fuckery out of me when I open a door, then just staring at the wall until the bastard disappears because if you look at him you’re dead. Not before the people around you die first. Rule of three or something.

So on my “investigation” I was paired up with newbie cop. Which was good because it was easy to shake her once I told McAllistair to distract her, then told her she needed to question him. I went back to the office try and find some of those onyx stones I needed. All in the safe – freaking win. It took forever to find the combination and I thought I almost got busted but luckily it was only Seamus so we shoved everything into his pockets (including Rex’s ledger, a bunch of random blue rocks and and a crane with Fae-d written on it). 

Gangsters and cops playing card games.
Every time I got back to the Red Room Amity gave me a piece of information as subtley as she could. The first time was about the Red Pills, thinking it was a cure to Rex’s blood disease affecting few of the Changlings, we all went to find out what that was all about. Turns out they weren’t a cure and it was just a party drug made in a changeling murder factory. Out of changelings. Eww why am I only remembering this now. I better not tell Tal – Seamus knows what he ate… It’s no different than the Flower of Demiter right? Grown out of dead bodies / made out of dead bodies. It’s a very fine line. 

I’m going to have to flush this out of my system with a whole lot of alcohol.

Anyways, arrests were made, interrogations were poorly done. Amity told us that the Changelings were plotting to kill us all so we decided to stick in pairs from then on wards. Luckily we did because Seamus wigged at his “boss” and tried to bite him. I’m not even sure what was going on there…
Anyways we needed a certain amount of Onyx stones to summon ThreePenny (We thought it was to escape at the time) and the only person I knew who had what we needed happened to be one of the Changelings I tortured or interrogated, I dunno. He was happy to make the deal with me anyways. (That makes 3 deals in total - aww yeah). 
We summoned ThreePenny, he wrote his name in the wall, some creepy shit happened and Rex came out. I’m not sure what happened to him because I didn’t want to look just in case he could still make us sick and die. 

The Blue Girl came straight away, just like Jack said she would with Changeling Bennett by her side ready for the swap. So as soon as Fetch Bennett appeared behind me I quickly reached into his chest and ripped out his heart and pushed him into the Blue Girl so she couldn't stop me from giving it to Changeling Bennett.

Wow too many Bennett variants. Well, maybe only two but its confusing to write. But that's okay because they're only one Bennett now.  

(GM Note: Fetch Bennett is the one Siobhan knew before who was stolen away from her and who kept flipping into Angel Faced Killer mode which was a serial killer who would crush people's heads using a baseball bat.  Changeling Bennett is who he was originally and essentially a part of his soul had been stolen to make Fetch Bennett.  Combining the two was Siobhan's best chance of saving either of them and allowed her to give Changeling Bennett her Bennett's memories.  Siobhan's initial deal with the Blue Girl was for "Bennett" rather than the "Angel Faced Killer" so she was going to lose her fetch to the Blue Girl and end up with the Changeling instead.  Her later deal with Threepenny Jack to bring in the fetch at the right moment allowed her to take both.)
The Blue Girl, two vampires and a GM / Bennett.

So the Fetch collapsed to the ground and Recombination Bennett opened a portal out of there and we all followed. Including all the Changelings so no one got their memory back and they were all weird and Seamus was too high to do anything, I was freaking out because I killed Bennett - See: ripping his still beating heart out of his chest - Amity was comforting me and McAllistair is McAllistair so Bennett is now the leader of the Changelings and we all went home.  The end."

PCs include:
  • Siobhan O'Baoill (Hardened and Reckless Police Detective)
  • Thomas McAllister (Alcoholic Private Investigator)
  • Amity Fine (Jazz Singer)
  • Seamus O'Baoill (Plucky Reporter)
NPCs include:
  • Drug Dealing Bartender (Ram horns, black veins)
  • Angry Police Chief Bull (little horns and forehead veins)
  • Innocent Cop undercover as Adorable Newsboy/girl (cat ears, whiskers and fake nails)
  • Corrupt Business Executive & Media Mogul (grey skin, frown lines, stoneskin) 
  • Mobster Kingpin (Coldscale, snake, grey with black edged scales) 
  • Mob Enforcer (black and red hair wig, fox ears and whiskers)
  • Rex Rutilus (Fae, hands dipped in red dye to the wrists) GM aaaaaand fill in for one role.
Basically each of these "characters" was actually a role and when one of the character's died, someone else would be stolen to take that role.  This is why a murder could have happened, yet not happen, as the old Jazz Singer is murdered ... but then there's a new changeling in that Jazz Singer's role.  Does that mean they count as dead?  Or not?  Each role also has their own motivations and expectations toward each other which created quite the web of deceit.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Demonic Trails of Cthulhu: Prelude (Part Two)

My husband who plays Gipontel.
I took the first half of the "Drawn From The Water" adventure from Issue 2 of the Arkham Gazette and tacked on the Colours Out of Space from H.P. Lovecraft's own works.  Thus the mission involved the players tracking down a missing artist.  There were several modifications.  Walton's address was moved to Arkham, as were all other Kingsport locations.  Walton was the son of a cultist who belonged to Ambrose Mogen's "Half-Moon Cult" (which worshipped Belphigor as the Black Man rather than an Avatar of Nyarlathotep). 

Instead of using a scrimshaw piece connecting him to a Yugg, I had him commissioned by some scientists with Arkham University to try and capture the colours coming off the meteorite fragment they had taken from a certain farm which I placed not far from Annie Pernell's farm in Innsmouth (which I called Rowley, so my more knowledgeable player wouldn't automatically guess it, though he did in the end anyway).

I also included a private investigator as evidence of the Half-Moon cult's first foray into finding him.  Unfortunately the private investigator had attempted to interrogate Joe Sergeant of the Innsmouth bus and so when his blue hire car was spotted heading into the heath, the hybrid police officers pulled him over, arrested him and then took him to the jail to await ritual sacrifice.  Regrettably the players never spoke to Joe Sergeant, avoided the bus and missed all of that.

So they follow the adventure pretty well, though they don't get any of the written handouts because they all refer to scrimshaw that doesn't exist in this story, and even manage to track down the private investigator's blue hire car and find out that he was quite a paranoid fellow who slept in the car (more spy than private eye, as Mogens used him often).  They even hire the very same model.

They then head out to Falcon's Point, track down the address of Walton, and head over to the little abandoned farm. They pause along the way to try one of the marvellous blackberries which are so big and lush, almost impossibly so, only to find they taste acrid like an ant landing on your tongue (side effect of the Colour).

He warns them to stay away, and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, Gipontel opens the door and takes a bullet to the shoulder (3 health points).  He slams the door shut after that and Nithriel has to try and patch him up without a first aid kit.  Then Gipontel crawls underneath the building (risen up on short stilts to keep it out of water) and uses his powers to split the floor beneath the ranting madman.  Walton refuses to leave, cannot even countenance it in fact.

Once the man falls the foot (misfiring), he tries to drag him down and under, just about managing to do so while Walton fires blindly into the dark (missing with every shot).  Then the man gets back up the hole with an empty gun, and the three converse about the mural on the walls which depicts his rendition of the farm and the Colour out of Space.  He has to keep painting, or so he believes, or the Colour will come for him.

They head directly toward that farm and see that the flora really is more marvellous and full, and then that it gets greyer and more brittle towards the buildings themselves.  I made use of the various skill use suggestions from the Bestiary in the Trail of Cthulhu book and Nithriel even gets to perform a little autopsy on a dead dog by the side of the road.

They arrive at the farm and head inside only to find a man on the couch calling for his middle son to fetch him some water (when Nithriel tries the kitchen tap, she finds the water is oddly grey and rasping like dry paper).  Much of what follows is taken straight from H.P. Lovecraft's short story.  The wife became deranged and so they locked her upstairs, where she crawled about on all fours and spoke in some ungodly tongue.  And then the same happened to their eldest son, also locked upstairs in a different room.  The youngest son disappeared over by the well, and where is the middle son?  He calls for him but he doesn't come.
They head upstairs and find the eldest son as little more than fragments of skin and desiccated flesh beneath the covers of his bed.  They go to see the mother and find her sitting on the bed, face crumbling inwards, but only as she raises her arm do they see she is still, in fact, alive.  So they rush over to her, Gipontel thinking he maybe should put her out of her misery with the poker he took from downstairs.  Just then they fill something brush past them, and realise (with an Awakening spend) that there was something in the room with them.  Something departing.

My friend who plays Nithriel.
Gipontel heads down after it while Nithriel considers how to save the woman.  In her true form she can provide a little health points, enough to keep her alive enough to move, though the woman is still badly mutilated.  Gipontel merely grabs the man on the couch and drags him outside.  The entity seems to avoid the light, which gives Gipontel the false idea that perhaps it is actually afraid of light, so when it starts upstairs he instructs Nithriel to rip open the window.  Which does nothing.

So Nithriel gathers up the woman as best she can and hurries out the window, gliding down on her wings.  But the motion has undone all of her healing, and the woman now verges on death, requiring the last of Nithriel's faith to heal.

Gipontel takes the roof off the car and forms it into a stretcher for the woman, then reconnects it to the top of the car, hoping that she can survive the bumpy ride up the hill and back into town.  Luckily they took the right road and passed Dr. Bloom's office.  Dr. Bloom was quite a strange sort of fellow, and his mix of alchemy and occult books, and mention of his loss of license, certainly caught Gipontel's eye.  They had to return to him twice more to check on the adults and each time Dr. Bloom forgot who they were (more he didn't recognise them as he knew them once they pointed out the connection).

They rent to the Bar and Grill for dinner (and it was quite late in Real Life) and so I pointed out what they had for dinner both in and out of game that was quite themed.  They had a choice of baked beans, spaghetti and meatballs, devilled ham or tuna, all canned.  The look in their eyes when I brought out all those cans after their very fancy lunchtime made it all worth it.  Though as it was quite late one of the players was just hungry and got the joke more after he'd eaten it.

I played up everything smelling of fish, but I didn't describe the Innsmouth Taint as I still wanted to hide the location.  The well-read player figured it out anyway but here's hoping when they finally return he'll have forgotten his assumptions.  Maybe.

So at the Bar and Grille, Moira Brooks, a hybrid who works there, tries to chat up Gipontel despite his young sixteen years of age.  She convinces him that she'll show him the smuggler's tunnels, using quite dirty metaphors for other things that he didn't quite realise, but that she'd only show him alone.  He went away with her into a nearby empty house and she tried to put his hand on her You Know What.  He snatched his hand away, scolded her, but she was pretty unrepentant.

Gipontel marched off to find Nithriel and the two headed back to Arkham for the night.  Nithriel stated they would be exploring the well tomorrow morning, and when Gipontel tried to explain the reasons why they shouldn't, she told him that she'd go with him or without him.  The two younger kids were still missing after all.  So they returned to the tainted farmhouse and Gipontel spent a couple hours (Relentless, Forge Power) digging a hole down beside the well in the hopes that there might be a cave system beside it, but finding only groundwater.  So he breaks through at the bottom and the grey raspy water rushes over his hands and brings with it two small skulls.  Cue more stability loss!  It gets even worse when he feels the cool draught and sees the slight phosphorescence of the Colour out of Space.

So he flashes his light on it but it really doesn't seem to care, so he gets the hell out of there.

They go back to Walton whom Gipontel sealed into his farmhouse (think I forgot to mention that) and he's still unwilling to leave.  He can't.  He just can't bring himself to.  So they head to Eliot's Drug Store to get some sedatives.  While there they see some rather lovely orchids out the front for sale that seem rather out of place (bred by Lester Davies) and find out a bit about the florist. 

Gipontel is figuring that perhaps this Lester Davies is draining the good health out of the farmlands for his own plants but when they drive by his address (after bribing Eliot) they find the street is still pretty weed-racked and figure it for a red herring.  A shame because Lester Davies is a Cryptic Rabisu (angel of the wilds) and a meeting with Gipontel might have slowly teased that loose.

Before heading back to Walton, they stop by the telephone booth to contact Ambrose Mogens at his estate but as he's no longer at home (busy entertaining the Ashburnes), they end up having to invoke him.  Or rather, Nithriel does while Gipontel stresses over what they have learned to date and how best to proceed.

Luckily Belphigor has had a few hundred years as Ambrose Mogens and is a dab hand at both the Occult and History.  He recalls a few legends of strange natural disasters, fey things of strange colours, seen in medieval Europe and that in one instance they got rid of it by feeding it lots of pigs. He also warns Nithriel to keep an eye on Gipontel because who knows what these stresses could do to a Silver Legionnaire fresh from the Abyss?  "He's seen some things…."

To make it even better, Gipontel's player kept roleplaying his character's thoughtful distress and so when Nithriel's player slid him a sidelong and appraising look it was quite a beautiful moment.

They head to Newburyport to purchase some pigs from a local farmer who had been to the Sunday market (it's Sunday now) and have them dropped off in the barn.  They shut the doors on the place as it grows dark and the well begins to glow.  They head over and drug dear Walton's food and then put him in the back of the car and then drive their hire car all the way to New York.

A week later Nithriel goes back to check on it and finds the whole area surrounding the farm is little more than a blasted heath with two small holes in the ground where Gip's efforts and the well had stood.  And things go back to normal.