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.