Game 1 (08/31/2014)
Game 2 (10/04/2014)
Game 3 (10/18/2014)
Game 4 (11/01/2014)
Game 5 (11/15/2014)
Game 6 (11/29/2014)
CJ Pleasure, Cabbie (Joe)
Mamma G, (Robert)
Mortimer Shoeshine, Shoeshine man (Jeff)
Larry Crawford, Sanitation Worker (Darren)
Dwayne Snyder, Building Superintendent (Alan)
We began the day by trying out the combat system, not with an ad hoc combat between the characters. First we did a brawl (with added knife and screwdriver) and when we got some feel for the system we did a quick one with a gun, discovering that teaming up on a single target and grabbing are two useful ways to go.
First a disclaimer: Some things I don’t fully have the details on because there was copious note-passing. So I don’t always know why some people do what they do.
Then we did the real game. It starts with us at a poker game. Our host, Janice, excuses herself to get her snacks, when suddenly we hear something that sounds like two gunshots, a pause, then a third gunshot. There’s a brief rumble, bringing to mind the Boston Marathon bombing of a year earlier, but before we get traction on anything, Janice shows up, looking frazzled, and after saying she didn’t need any help earlier now wants some help getting her snacks. CJ and Larry take the elevator with her, but when the elevator gets to about 3 it goes back up to 6, as if it looped. We get out on 6, so we decided it’s time to use the stairs. That is just as weird. We get down to about 5 then loop back to 7 then down to 6. We come out of the elevator and are discussing it. Larry goes to the nearest window on the floor and looks out and discovers we can see the floor below and then nothing at all below that, and overhead are sparks of light. Everything else is an endless abyss. CJ looks out and gets queasy as a result. We go back to discuss it and when Mort decides to take the stairs down, he opens the door and finds another person there.
This is a kid who looks disheveled and who looks at Mort and shrieks loudly before attacking him. There’s a fight where we use our new-found tactic of tackling to be the best response. When she turns her head in 360, Larry decides he wants his baseball bat and goes to get that. CJ is tackling the girl low and trying to tie her up with whatever line he can find (extension cord or something), Mort is assisting, Mama G is doing nothing (since Robert had a computer to work on), and Dwayne is just sort of complaining a lot. SIDEBAR: Larry knows that Dwayne has been recently fired and why. Seems that he recently installed a peep cam in a lady’s apartment. So, back at the fight, Larry shows up and swings his lucky bat at the backwards-head girl’s skull in hopes of spinning it back the correct direction. Dwayne decides that she’s just on drugs or something and should not be hit with a bat and so they struggle over the bat. Prompting the lines, “Oh, so now you’re the defender of women?” and “I’ve seen the exorcist: Hit her before have to start dodging pea soup!”. Dwayne wins the bat war and confiscates it just as they have the girl fully subdued in line.
We’re deciding what to do next when more of them show up at the stairwell, so we improvise blocking the door. Larry runs back to his room to get some supplies and comes across a woman in the corridor dusting a painting and who proceeds to bubble and catch fire. He ducks into his room and barricades because she’s pounding on the door. While he’s in there he gets a text saying YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. He replies, “Who is this?” and then has to toss the phone because it’s smoking and it explodes. Not long after, a lump appears in the carpet and begins to scurrying across the floor.
Back in the hallway, things are getting worse. CJ, panicky Janice, and Dwayne have retired to Dwayne’s room (undoubtedly for a three-way). However, CJ has had something happen that has caused him to change from one of us to one of THEM! He draws a knife and tries to stab Janice and Dwayne. Janice runs out of the “safe” room and winds up back down at Larry’s door, banging on it. He decides to come out to her (not wanting to stay in with whatever is under the carpet) and they make for a window at the end of the hall, but about then, Mort’s door flies open. He’s gone in there and due to circumstances he’s encountering. With his door open, Larry calls to him but gets no response (Mort is inside waiting behind the door). At that point Dwayne catches up with Janice and Mort’s door slams shut and locks. Then CJ shows up and no one seems to trust him. He tosses down his knife and apologizes, Dwayne picks it up.
We decide to head upstairs because we haven’t done that yet. On the seventh floor it’s eerily silent. On the penthouse floor, there is a dead man in the hall, whom we recognize. Seems he’s a friend of the old guy who lives in the penthouse. He has a bullet in his brain and there’s blood everywhere. The penthouse door is open. We consider it and decide to go to the roof as planned. We open the roof door and blood comes pouring in because there’s a veritable hurricane of plasma going on out there, complete with lightning. Hey, remember that door we passed? Let’s go back there.
So back downstairs we find in the penthouse that the resident does indeed have two bullets in him. As surmised by many of us, his guest shot him and then shot himself. As we look over the body a glow emanates and the ghoustly figure of a far younger man appears. He apologizes to us for what has transpired. It seems he had something stolen from him and as a result everything has gone to hell. He talks about “the wards” falling and how Josiah Hill, who helped build the original building on this site, is his adversary. He had a pocket watch that this guy (Brian Sullivan, old corpse) had custody of until his friend became possessed by Hill, shot Sullivan and stole it. We need to 1) Find the Watch, which is down on the 5th floor, a floor that has been far noisier with strife than even our own, and 2) Take it to the roof and let the lightning destroy it by attacking it to the lightning rod. We are warned that as the innocent denizens of the hotel are killed, Hill gets stronger, and the wards are weakening. When the wards fall, Hill’s evil is unrestrained.
He provides for us some minor help. These appear to be totems and trinkets that we can use to bash the spirits out of the enemy.
We set up a plan that involved splitting up, something that Janice reminds us endlessly is what “they say not to do”. Which is fine since the plan takes a dozen sidelines as we keep running into obstacles we don’t want to wrestle with. The dwellers of the building are maiming themselves to death so we need to move fast. We encounter crazed denizens, a river of blood in the hallway which is far deeper than it appears, sprinklers raining blood, and all sorts of good badness. CJ is first to test at trinket when Janice starts to lick the blood off of her own arm. He touches the object to her and she snaps out of it, although she’s still horribly hungry. Just now she realizes how horrible licking blood was.
The watch is found in a room on the fifth floor and by now some of us are getting pretty effective at disabling attackers. And the objects are helping. Strike a possessed being and the spirit bounces out of him, and if you do it enough he/she stays out. We head back up stairs and all rendezvous to head to the roof.
Guess who is waiting! Josiah Hill is there in spectral form and he proceeds to take turns ordering us to attack one another. Larry had the pocket watch but that gets passed off several times as people try to get it closer to the lightning rod. We keep using the objects to release each other from our various possessions. Larry weakens the ghost of Josiah by hitting him a few times with one of the objects. Mamma G and Dwayne work together to secure the watch to the pole and do it before the next lightning strike. The watch shatters and Josiah fades away, angry.
The building reverts to normal, the spectral blood gone without a trace, though lots of damage was sustained. We all hate it there now but none of us can afford to move on. We are having nightmares about that night. Lots of people died. It was written off by the authorities as unexplained mass hysteria.
Amidst the nightmares of horror, we see small slivers of hope in the form of a radiant fountain. It’s not long after this that one of us spots the fountain in a publication that shows it as the Bellagio fountain in Vegas. We are never going to get rid of our crazy nightmares until we confront this so we will be having a road trip to Vegas next game.
I doubt I will have all the name right, but let's see what I remember...
Dr. Jones, geneticist (Master)
Natalia Pestova, gymnast/acrobat (Guardian)
Dwayne Schneider, Building Superintendent (Grog)
Grant "Don't call me doctor" Test, GovThinkTankGuy (Master)
Tom Monroe, Smokejumper (Guardian)
Mamma G, busybody (Grog)
The Dean, polyester superstar (Master)
CJ Pleasure, Cabbie (Grog)
Dr. April Cutler, Astrophysicist/Minor Celeb (Master)
Lev Holtz, bomb disposal specialist (Guardian)
Larry Crawford, Sanitation Worker (Grog)
We backtrack to the grogs and their trip to Vegas. We do a drawing of random
encounters as we did the previous game and have a few issues. Larry has a
run-in with a girl who is pissed that she hasn't called him back after they
hooked up a few weeks ago. The others didn't seem to have much except for CJ,
who had a black-out drunk night and woke up with a dent in his car and a note
left on the fender saying that someone saw him hit-and-run and that they'd be
in contact for some payoff money to keep quiet about it. Mamma G convinced him
to go to the police, which he did. They took a statement, a couple photos of
the car, but they didn't have any hit and runs so things were fine.
We (grogs) go to the fountain and when standing there before it some of us get the feeling that we are there are the wrong time. We need to come back at sunrise.
The Guardians are in town for a big convention of first responders. They too draw a random event and generally, as far as I recall, they seem to be inconsequential (lucky for us).
The Masters are here for, I dunno... BrainiacCon! Biggest genius event of the year, where they cosplay as sub-atomic particles and former nobel winners, and people stand in line to touch the guys who made the hubble telescope!
What ultimately happens of course is the convergence of the characters. Our army (of 12) are in the same proximity to one another when the bad guys show up in the form of armed thieves with automatic weapons. Now one might argue that choosing to rob a place based on the weekend that emergency response people from all over the country are present is pure madness, but then how else do you get action?
A couple FBI decide to "be heroes" and fire on the bad guys. The bad guys return fire and break the tesla coils. Oh, did I not mention them? For some reason, in the middle of this big convention hall, are four big tesla coils shooting sparks. And when shot full of bullets, they shoot eve more sparks. The electricity reached out and touched us all!...
And we find ourselves in a room not unlike the one we were just in, but it is more refined and constructed in white marble. There are four pillars where the tesla coils were.
We know instantly that we are at our home in Atlantis. We are made to draw a random encounter thingy. ALL OF THEM ARE BAD. Yes, this is the railroad-y part of the game. Forget what kind of character you made: All of our Masters are horrible people who've done horrible things that now are hanging over our heads. We now proceed to pass inquiries about our horrible things and pass them to the GM.
Here's the penny explanation of where we are: Atlantis is the greatest city in the world. The rest of the world live in mud huts, but we have gathered our best and brightest together to achieve. Our primary goal as a society is to build a ladder to heaven.
For the rest of the game, I have this song going through my head: https://www. Youtube. Com/watch?v=tVM3O6zOhIU Ooooh nine-eleven nine-eleven, nine-eleven nine-eleven...
Anyway, our job as scientists and such is to put achieve a ladder to heaven, and we're just days away. The ascension! We'll go up and we'll be gods. Uh huh. Cuz nothing but good things happen in Mark's games.
Also important to note is that we randomly determine who our guardians and grogs are through randomness. Most of us were diverse, but a coincidence of draw put both Joe's characters under Alan. This worked out well since Joe had to leave early because then the people who reported to Joe automatically shifted to Alan and the re-organization was done.
WE PICK POWERS. Well, sort of. We get to pick form the nine or so power groups that MAGE is built around. I'm not sure I've got them right:
DR. JONES: Life and Matter
THE DEAN: Fate and Spirit
GRANT: Mind and Fate
APRIL: Space and Prime
We also pick one power set that we suck at. Most of us pick DEATH. Which I'm absolutely certain will not come back to bite us right on the genitals at a later juncture.
There is some grumbling among the lesser folk that the ladder is doomed to failure. In fact, when one of the characters goes to sleep that night (I think it was one of Alan's... so Dwayne or Natalia?) they try to dream about the ladder. They see portents of doom!
Our masters try to contact their contacts and get nothing but rebuffed with reassurances that things are fine. Come the day of the catastrophe--I mean the Commencement, there's a speech given and then people start going up the ladder in order by societal station, and in the midst of it the clouds go dark overhead and faces appear of the nine... or was it eleven... nine-eleven nine-eleven!... Anyway, a bunch of faces appear over head and proceed to mock us for our belief that we would get anything. We get nothing! And in fact, if you want to blame someone, blame THOSE FOUR PEOPLE! And we are highlighted amidst the crowd as the betrayers who helped the evil ones steal heaven.
Then there's a tremor, the ladder collapses, and we have to try to survive the fall. April gets lucky (she failed her roll but managed to do a spectacular job of soaking).
We awaken back in the Bellagio amid the gunfire and sparks. We still remember everything and we realize that because of whatever metaphysical phenomenon there is, we are bound together, masters to their servants, and as such, if the master dies the servants do too! Accordingly, all the small folk try to find their boss.
The groups coalesce into their trios. Under this setup, all the women wound up on the same team! They adjourn to the ladies room together, as all women do. I'm sure later they be shoppin'. April spies on what's happening outside using her Scrying ability and realizes that the damage caused by the catastrophe has blocked everyone into the hall and that their leader is radioing for assistance to his outside folks, and they are reassuring him that they'll be out soon. Team Grant shutdown the big electrical thingies. Someone in all this (I missed who) finds out that they are also clearing the Bellagio's museum.
The standoff ends when SWAT breaks in and lobs tear gas. The ladies are safe upstairs. The others get out. Grant starts sending information about the assailants and the other PCs to the think tank he works for. When finally assembled, we make arrangements to meet up later. The only guy who is out of the loop is Larry, who botched his roll for resisting the tear gas and is hospitalized.
Phone numbers are exchanged, arrangements to meet are finalized, and then in the space of a day everyone's life seems to turn to shit. Natalia discovers her husband has been cheating on her, which seems impossible to her, but she caught them. Dr. Jones discovers his lab is locked down by the government authorities. Lev has been prevented from returning to Israel and is on a government watch list. Grant has had his privileges revoked under his government contract. April has had her university projects defunded. Don't know about Tom Monroe. The grogs got off lightly, because they're grogs and their life is already misery. Grant's special senses tell him that this is all connected to THE CURSE.
THE CURSE: when the 9-11 9-11 gods did their thing they cursed us and all of our brethren. Now why they singled us out is unknown. But curse seems to entail that connection between masters and servants in which is the head dies the rest of the body shall too. Also, it's worth noting that WE ARE LIKELY BOUND TO MORE THAN ONE MASTER. You see, each game session, we'll be redrawing minion associations based on who is there. The result will be that each game the grogs and guardians can be beholden to an entirely different master. We're all part of some great big jigsaw puzzle of sadness.
Lev finds out from a government Ally (something he got randomly off of one of the random encounter chits) that the SWAT who came in to rescue us were not here to rescue us. They were there to rescue their friends. They were not real SWAT but were instead working to get the other robbers out.
We try to get everyone together, but we fail because Dr. Jones has no interest in including his minions in things. In particular, Larry is completely out of the loop. And Jones wants to go home to fix his problems with his lab. He has no interest in our nonsense, despite being warned that the curse needs fixed in order for his problems to go away. Instead he wants to just use his new abilities to analyze things and continue his genetic research. When he jumps town to go check out the lab, we are forced to follow. Fortunately we pick up Larry on the way because it's not until we're all together briefly that the bad tides ebb. Now that we've all gathered, the immediate flood of bad luck subsides and we can do some things.
Forgive me for not remembering exactly where we left off. I know that we got XP: Masters get 1pt. Guardians get 3pts. Grogs get 1pt. And we get six months of study time in which to develop further (See the XP rules on the website).
In all, a fun game. It's definitely a challenge for someone with a small attention span such as me. I even started to make some notes on the computer and then aborted that when I realized how incoherent they were. Everyone else seemed to grasp things just fine.
This week’s configuration:
Grant Test (Robert) > Natalia (Alan) > Larry (Darren)
Dr. Jones (Alan) > Lev (Darren) > Mamma G (Robert)
Dr. Cutler (Darren ) > Tom (Robert) > Dwayne (Alan)
So we discuss experience and how to earn/spend it. Then we do so as appropriate. It’s a season later when we are soon about to reunite in St. Louis. In the interim, the Test/Lev/Dwayne team of last game have been putting together a “safe house” at which to gather and do our thing, whatever it is we need to do.
A couple days before this happens, we all have dreams that are quite vivid.
We were in Japan and we were masters of Shinto, right at the coming of Buddhism.
New people have come to our land with a strange new religion and god(s), and we
are the protectors of the old ways. We put forth a challenge that the new guys
overcome and in the process we are disgraced for not having upheld the old ways.
We will likely be executed for our failure. But then we wake up.
While here this took place over the course of a dream, we lived another lifetime in that dream. As a result we built new bonds because the guardians and grogs had different masters.
We gather in St. Louis and discuss this. Some rearrangement of locations of people and who they work for is done, but a few people still tend to answer the ones from last game, even when it’s not appropriate. For example, Test and Lev got along famously before, now their relationship is shuffled, but their skills still naturally mesh so they’re still working together, albeit less directly.
During our faux party (we had to make it look like a party was taking place, much the way that the building we’re in is a warehouse disguised as an artist colony), we are interrupted by the arrival of a woman. Her name is ROSE and she’s a representative of The Consortium? Constituency? Continuum?... I’ll try to remember what they were called before the end of the recap. Just know that there is a large overarching bureaucracy of magical people who are fighting for the liberation of… well… US… from the Exarchs (the bad guys) who subjugate us all. This… Conglomerate (no that’s not it), is made up of cabals that oversee smaller regions. Some of them are in the same territory and while overall they have the same mission (defeat our overlords) they do fight over resources, turf, and personnel. Rose is part of the Fire Cabal (whose exact name escapes me). There are two other cabals locally. ROSE (not her actual name) is here to extend a welcome to us. She would like for us as “newly awakened” to meet with the Cabal and perhaps join if appropriate.
She points out that our facility may look secure but anyone with magical abilities can see right in. So there’s that. She also says you should never use your real name. Thus it is recommended that everyone use a pseudonym, because knowledge of someone’s true name gives them power over you. Thus she would like us to give her our new pseudonyms in a few days that she should give to the Cabal. What’s more, we should TOTALLY ABANDON our old identities, we’re told. Keeping links to them just gives away our names here in this world (giving them some power over us) and gets people one step closer to knowing our names in Atlantis (our TRUE names, and pretty much absolute power over us). To make things more complicated, there are fake ID’s on the way courtesy of Grant.
So now we have: A True Name (name from Atlantis), our name Here, our “mage name”, and our fake identification name. For 3 characters each.
Dr. Jones rails against this. He refuses to dump his research, family, and anything else for this nonsense. He’ll give the guild a name to call him but he’s never going to use it for anything.(While Alan whips out the random name generator and selects something, ultimately due to his continual playing of “She blinded me with Science” on his cell phone, it is recommended he go by THOMAS DOLBY. Alan agrees.)
Thus our mage names are: Thomas Dolby (Alan), Vincent Caine—I think (Robert), and Europa (Darren). We’re mages: Have some flair! Also, I got enough names; I don’t need another last name too!
Hereafter I will refer to them by this name because using 2 to 4 names per character will get exhausting otherwise. Though I’m tempted, due to a verbal slip-up by Robert, to call his character Vincent Price, which would make his mage FAR COOLER. Sorry, Caine.
It’s some time later that we get to meet another individual. Apparently we put out the MAGES WELCOME doormat. This guy is John Damme (sp?), a detective who is familiar with the magical world and who is looking into a situation. It seems a woman has been reported missing and this woman works at the same animal shelter that Thomas Dolby sends his cats to in order to be looked after. He has memory of this girl (being Eidetic memory man). We agree to help though I can’t recall a specific reason why we got into this—it’s just that we’re gamers and we know that’s where adventure is, though there was probably an in-game reason too that escapes me.
We end up trying to break in to the now closed-down facility. Lev has a terrible time picking the lock at the front gate, but while he’s doing that very slowly (because he was too dumb to remember to bring lockpicks), Vincent is doing his mage site and sees that there is a presence of magic nearby. In fact, a being of some sort is standing in front of his car and scrutinizing him, unseen by others. That being leaves us alone eventually. We end up going in to the facility anyway and discover that inside the place is still active with animal smells. As we discover the young woman who was missing (Mallory) we find that she is now far, far older looking that he actual age is, and that hordes of cats are there to keep her from us!
She doesn’t want to leave, but we want out of there because the cats are on the attack! Those present are Vincent Caine, Lev, and Natalia. We start smacking and shooting cats and retreating.[Paul has shown up and is now acting as a horde of rabid cats for dice-rolling purposes]. Lev grabs the frail Mallory and drags her out against her will, but she can’t resist much. We get to the car, though Vincent got pretty scratched up and the rest of us are dinged a little bit. We speed back to base, but analysis by Europa using her mage sight tells us that they are coming still, so we’ll be overwhelmed with cats soon.
We go through a bunch of plans, but the simples ones are the best ones: trap them in one area and either burn or gas them. We decide gassing them would keep us from burning down our building. So… I’m trying to remember if it was Vincent or Thomas Dolby who calls an ally and asks him about how to make a chemical agent using household chemicals that will kill small animals. We throw something together, use the box-like entryway of our building to hold the cats in place, and then we gas them when they arrive. Some still claw their way through and we have to shoot/stomp/bash them. Turns out the best item for this in-game was the shotgun (used by Larry) who got at least one cat per blast.
Ultimately we are victorious and quickly dismantle the entry way and other things because we’re certain cops will be here soon. The do arrive and talk with Vincent but ultimately leave with the impression that we heard the same thing and had no idea what it was. Mallory is recovering, her chewed-up soul being... unchewed?
After this, we are settling in when someone shows up later at the door. They are here to deliver messages to Doctors Cutler and Jones (I revert to the older names here because that’s what he called them). He gives each a piece of paper and as he does he whispers to each their TRUE NAME. And that’s where the GM ends it.
During the pre-game “drawing of the random slip of paper”, I drew a paper which had me discovering an ancient tome the night before we re-gathered in St. Louis. We know “Pattern Scouring” (Converting health into mana). This book, Le Dragon Rogue (that’s for you Alan) or Red Dragon, can teach the inverse (Burning mana to heal yourself). Now all we need is time in which to learn it and a desire to do so.
[Relationships from last game are still in effect. This doesn't change until the 1890's section below, but who we're paired with there is less important.]
Last time around we ended with the stranger showing up at the door and delivering a message to both Thomas Dolby and Europa (individually) and whispering their TRUE NAME to them. The paper messages end up being "invites" to two separate meetings. It's Monday... Dolby's meeting is on Thursday at 9am at a bagel shop, Europa's is Thursday 12n at Starbucks.
We let the messenger go. I'm not sure we could have done much with him if we'd detained him. But in retrospect we probably should have tried.
Meanwhile, Rose, our contact from last game with the Consilium, gets us in to the next meeting. We show up and are introduced, they take a quick vote to rubber stamp our applications (should we elect to join) and then there's a Q&A. What we find out is a condensed version of the very long document Mark handed out (and that is posted on the website). Whether you join the Consilium or not you are subject to its laws, but if you do not join then there are unscrupulous members who may elect to pray on you and you won't have the consilium's protection. You aren't required to join a cabal. All deals for goods and services are done by trade. The organization of the consilium is very much the way that Atlantean society was organized.
We have a week during which we are protected in which to decide if we will join.
We dream of China and our Chinese selves and the society that we sabotaged there.
At our place we get another knock on the door. (Those are always good.) It's a homeless man who calls himself Homeless Joe, who wants to speak with both Dolby and Europa. <--NOTE: this should have been a clue that he was involved in our problems--the fact that he asked for the same two people that were talked to earlier. He's grilled a little bit by Natalia before he's allowed to speak with us. Whatever he was going to say however is cut short when the Dean decides to scan him with his magesight. At that point he freaks out because apparently we're not supposed to do that. We find out later that yes, that's against some rules of decorum in the Consilium. Incidentally, he's carrying a host of weapons in his pockets. All we know is that he wanted to join us.
Back to the instructions that were delivered earlier: The instructions say to come alone, and Dolby intends to, but the rest of the group get together and decide to scope out the site and show up in the neighborhood to keep an eye on things. Problem is, his guardian tells him (which, being his guardian, makes sense) and he become irritated, cancels the meeting and decides when he reschedules it he's going to not tell anyone when or where.
Europa goes to her meeting. The guy's name is Marshall and it turns out he's one of the folks in the audience at the consilium meeting. He tells Europa he's putting together a network of contacts and that I should participate. He also wants whatever money she has on her and she declines, at which point she declines and he calls her a bitch and tells her she'll regret this and that he'll call her again to set up another meet and at that point I'd better say yes or else he'll sell my true name, thus causing all kinds of problems.
Europa phones Dolby to let him know this is the score and that he shouldn't meet with him. Dolby is already out looking for raw materials with which to do away with Marshall.
Vincent suggests we contact Rose, which is what we do. We lay the whole thing out for her and she has questions about whether this happened before or after we were put under their protection and had we been "scanned" by anyone that we noticed. Europa mentions homeless joe giving them the once over when they arrived in the neighborhood. It seems that the two times that we had the sense of being watched we missed our perception rolls or are too dumb to recall. (I think one time was inside the pet shelter around the time that crazy cat lady showed up.)
Rose does some research and asks if Europa would "press charges" against Marshall, and absolutely she would. So an emergency Consilium meeting is held. Charges are leveled against Marshall. During the proceedings it is discovered that Homeless Joe scanned us and let the Consilium know we existed, but he also told Marshall in exchange for some protection. Marshall then used his talents to figure out our true names which is strictly against their bylaws once we are "protected". He is sentenced to have the names excised from his head. He is not happy.
Our guardians dream of 1890's Boston. OH WAIT... we aint dreaming. We're back in 1890's Boston. Guardians draw from the bowl of harm and it seems each is some kind of turn-o-the-century action man but also has a "dark secret" which turns out to be some sort of compulsion. Over the course of the game we discover they are: Tom is lazy, Devon is an over-eater, Natalia has anger management issues, Lev is a junkie. But to start we don't know each others' issues.
We work for the masters who are all women and work out of the same facility, and are there to champion the rights of women. We are their protectors (naturally) and we have been tasked with investigating some murders of women that are possibly magically delicious. We hear a scream and run to the scene. A man is standing over a prone woman, we order him to stop but he moves to attack again and so he's shot. Upon investigation the woman is already dead, and he is dead as well though not seemingly from the gunshot. We talk to the cops who are suspicious of us but we all give the same story individually and are freed. Talking to the cops it turns out that in each murder so far (and there are several) there have been two bodies: The Victim AND the Attacker, who dies seemingly of something cardiac in nature.
We get access to the bodies and use some senses lent to us by our masters. Problem is we're short on dice since we don't have the same dice pools as our masters, so we're having a little trouble finding info. OH... and the first time you ever use a Magesite you must basically make a SAN check. Two guardians tried it this time, one failed the SAN check. So it is randomly determined that LEV has "vocalization"...
Mark: "You will speak your internal monologue whenever you're under stress." Darren: "Oh, I'm not going to do it JUST under stress."
The team notice Lev's pupil reaction and his more laid back demeanor and he's asked what he's smoking and he denies it, but when they are examining the bodies Lev says aloud to himself "I think he knows about the heroine!" Which sends the GM into hysterics.
We talk to some bums, winos, vagrants, transients, tramps, and hobos (they were not "homeless" back then), because they seem to be the ones being controlled by some exterior force. This is reinforced by Lev's one successful roll with his magesight in which he sees a second resident spirit flee the body of one of the vagrants.
We also went downtown to a tavern because a local pointed us to someone there. A patron picks a fight and this is where Natalia would naturally love to fight him (though he's huge) but forgets we're ALL action men and Lev takes a swing at the patron. He then says he'll take on both of us. A fight happens between the three people, taunting us PIRATE STYLE. Turns out all of Mark's accents are pirate. The duo win the fight with the bigger man and the bartender (the man we came to see) tells us about what he's heard. He refers us to yet another party.
PROBLEM: Here's where taking too long to write a recap causes issues. I can't remember what we did next or who we met, though this is very close to the end of the game right here.
The guardian team continues by gaslight in 1890s Boston. They actually have other aliases in this time but I can’t remember them. I think I’m Herb, Alan is Lieutenant something, and Tom is just continually called “doctor”.
Not an easy week on many fronts. Alan was trying hard to propel us forward. I was trying to come up with alternate methods. Ultimately did a lot of wallowing in our own confusion. A lot (and I mean A LOT) of this could have been mitigated by either of us having a single dot of Occult, because then our borrowed sensory abilities would have allowed us to actually make successful rolls. And ultimately we succeeded on some fronts by virtue of the fact that Mark misspoke and gave me a better roll for sensory ability than I actually had (a full 1D rather than a chance Die).
Our last tip was from the bartender that a Madame was a common denominator between the deceased ladies of the evening. We went to talk to her and as we arrive we witness an incoming bum with a knife. It sees her, then sees us, shouts “YOU!" and charges at us instead. Tom’s kung-fu is best as he puts the man’s cartilage through the brain, which is not necessarily good since he’s a poor possessed man. We help the lady to her friends’ place and she wants to “thank us” at which point we realize that the synergy between Lev’s vice and his virtue almost ensure that he get Willpower whether he accepts or declines. Meanwhile Tom isn’t spending willpower and Natalia won’t punch people just to get hers back.
The Madame mentions to us that another person they all had in common was that the ladies all went to the same doctor, the only one in town who works pro-bono.
We go visit the guy with a fairly upfront discussion of what we’re looking for and their connection to him. He denies knowing anything about them other than their health issues and he sees them because he’s the only one who will help them for free. We leave without much information.
There’s a vampire attack that we run into (coincidence, we think). We save the hooker and the vampire escapes into the darkness. We’re very good a this point at smacking people into escaping.
We break into the doctor’s office after hours to look for things. Junkie Lev takes pills, and Natalia finds hidden away a list of goods which seems to be possibly a list of stolen goods. This guy might be fencing stolen goods in addition to his normal work, meaning his work is less “pro-bono” and more of an “in trade” proposition.
We speak with the police (because they send for us). They mention a body they found and we kind of not bother to mention it was us. We tell them about the doctor and the cop recognizes the name because he read about the Ripper killings and knows that this doctor was a suspect in England 4 years ago.
Low on ideas we go to the doctor’s other facility which is actually his house, where he treats his richer patients. We come up with a way to get inside the house that involves being flower delivery men with a display to set up. Alan’s idea, but I do the dice rolling and fail to charm the butler into letting us in, so we elbow our way in and start looking for a place to set up (and we search the house while doing so). The butler is freaking out and calling for help. Lev spots an urn with the doctor’s wife’s ashes, and pictures of her and him. My one good roll nets me that she has been gone about 4 years. We hurry out of the house before the cops show up.
At some point we discuss with our masters what their senses can do for us. Seems it can be used for getting a kind of psychic “fingerprint” and if we study longer we can find out if the person is a mortal, dreamer, or awakened (or worse).
We’re called downtown because Natalia’s fame has netted her/him recognition with the Butler. Sure enough off two of us end up in jail. We’re released only because we’re brought face-to-face with the Doctor and Natalia confronts him in a roundabout way with the fact that he’s fencing stolen goods, which prompts him to drop the charges. But obviously we’re burnt now on that guy and both of his places. One fact we find out is that while he did come here to the US after his wife died 4 years ago, THE LAST VICTIM OF THE RIPPER, he also brought his butler. So now we’re focusing not he butler.
We convince the cop to let us examine the murder weapons, and Lev gets a bead on the psychic fingerprint of the killer and that it’s the same on two of the items, so we extrapolate from there that they’re all going to be that way. We then came up with a way involving one of our friendly ladies of ill repute that we saved that gets the doctor to pause in the streets while I examine his aura using my skills and the 1D bonus lent by an object our masters lent us. He is mortal.
We get a look at the butler in a similar way by getting our cop buddy to ask the butler a few questions where we can get a look at him. Turns out: Also mortal. Amazing! We’re biting on every false lead. This takes us to the idea that maybe we should get a look at the urn with the ex-Mrs. in it. Maybe she’s doing this from beyond the grave or the ripper somehow transferred himself to her body which is now dust. So we set up a new invasion plan: This involves Lev contacting his buddies at city hall and getting an inspection order for the house because of potential gas leaks, since it’s a gaslit home. Then Lev disguises himself barely enough to fool the butler and gets inside. He leaves the maid to show us around, which Tom (who hadn’t been seen by them before now) convinces lures one direction while Lev checks out the urn. Natalia is outside in the carriage.
When Lev scans it all hell breaks loose! The room rumbles and then an indoor hurricane breaks out. A voice says “YOU!” and slams Lev into a wall. The maid and Tom come around the corner and she shrieks and runs away. Lev takes a shot at the Urn through the ghost, hoping to hit both (a called shot) and succeeds. The urn shatters but doesn’t seem to stop the ghost, but he does seem to harm the ghost. Tom shouts “Gas Leak!” to get everyone else away and Natalia runs in and runs back out telling everyone to flee. However, having actually hit the damn thing and hurt it, Lev wants to hurt it some more. And Tom grabs handfuls of the ash and tries to run out with it. However, the spirit tries to possess him. He decides to run out of the house and toss his gun to Natalia so that he does’t have one in case he gets possessed. Now Natalia has two guns… when she gets possessed by the ghost. Natalia puts down Tom with, who was injured already, with her knife and comes in to find Lev.
“Tom is injured outside. He needs help!” The hurricane has stopped so Lev runs out… I mean, why not? When he does, Natalia stabs him and puts him well into unconsciousness.
We awaken at the coven house of our Mistresses. We tell them the story as we awaken and they heal us (to varying levels of ability… Lev was still very injured). In the middle of the discussion of what should probably be done, there’s a knock on the door, which is always a good thing, and Mamma G answers it. She screams and our cop buddy comes into the room holding her head. The possessed cop comes after our masters and as said masters try to cast spells, the guardians try to defend them.
But all for naught. One-by-one we go down and the bad guy wins! He cackles maniacally and we awaken back in our modern time and it was all a “bad dream”. Oh, except for persistent nightmares of the time and LOSS OF ONE WILLPOWER. Yup. We lost a willpower, which costs 8xp to replace.
NEXT GAME: Unknown. Mark may not be available in two Saturdays because it’s Turkeyday weekend.
XP: Guardians got 3xp and lost 1 WP.
REGARDING THOSE WHO WERE NOT THERE: The question came up… “Should a guardian who wasn’t present lose a willpower?” Mark wasn’t sure. “Bring it up in the Email” he said.
WHAT I THINK: While I hate to penalize someone who wasn’t there, I have to give the opinion YES, you’d lose one. Why? Because if you’re gaining XP when you aren’t there then you probably gotta suffer too. But I can easily live with it if this is not the case.
We pick up from last game, having had our butts kicked by the spirit of the ripper. We’re back in our own world, guardians 1wp weaker.
We do some prep-work on our facility WHICH HAS CHANGED. Seems something we did in the past has altered the “present”.
The Conscilium has ruled that we can be a Cabal of our own. (We still need a name for it don’t we?) We would be ceded a part of St. Louis that is not already specifically assigned someone, but which includes our current facility. It is mentioned that there’s one magical disturbance on the property that we should check out. It’s guardian time again!
There’s a short argument about carrying weapons in case we’re rousted by the cops but we go in anyway. The place with the magical phenomenon is a bar with a wacky name like Kelly’s Kill Room (I know that’s not it but that’s the gist). We go in using two teams. Natalya (Alan) and Lev (Darren) go in as a couple. Tom (Robert) and Devon (Joe) come in later to play some pool. Through various maneuvers we come up with the following information: The stairs downward lead to a locked door but there’s definitely something magical down there; The bartender is possessed, most likely by the place itself or by something connected to the place; and people seem to like the bartender who is nicknamed “Priest” because he listens to your confessions and makes you feel better. Also, the sign out front appears to have magical significance in that it has a powerful glow.
At some point, Natalya decides to go talk to the bartender. Analysis of their interaction shows that there is some sort of spiritual back and forth. No possession though. But it turns out she’s spilled something personal to the bartender. When a discussion of what she said to him comes up, she declines to tell us what they discussed. Her mistress (Europa) assures the party that it’s nothing, but ultimately Europa has to tell them to get them off of the needless fixation on this minor point of information. It’s decided that whatever this guy is, he’s able to compel people to tell their stories and to feel better for it.
We do TONS of research on the place, the sign out front, the bartender, the former owners, spirits connected to the river, deaths near the river, etc etc etc. We also consult with our mentors who wind up consulting with Rose, who points out that we should go through our new conscillium mentors first rather than going straight to her. In all this research we find out the following:
So we’re working on this plan of attack when our grogs go to sleep one night and SURPRISE… we’re in the past. It’s 1928. We are all folks who are part of the same clan… Crawford! Sound familiar? Well it’s the last name of one of the grogs in our time… Larry Crawford (my grog). The four grogs fit archetypes.
We are assembled at the Crawford ancestral estate in butt-fuck kentucky or wherever. All you need to know is: It’s remote and isolated, we’re there for the reading of a will, and a storm will help keep us isolated. We are in a living game of clue!
The terms of the will have us being required to stay on the premises all weekend. If we leave, we forfeit our share of the estate. If we stay, it’s split between us.
During the night, the lawyer is murdered. The butler points this out. There’s some battening down of the hatches and assembling into one place or another. The murder was grisly and left more of the lawyer outside him than inside. This leads to the best moment of this game: Lord Crawford insists on seeing the body and botches his roll to resist the horror. He has a heart attack! Better yet, the “doctor” has only a chance die to do anything and thus seems to think he’ll be fine and really does nothing to help him with the three points of lethal damage he’s taken. Lord Crawford is down on a fainting couch. Some investigation of the place yields blood drops on the sill in the maid’s quarters.
We’re all holed up in the sitting room when the butler insists on going to the restroom. Since we go in teams to everything, Joe’s character goes along, as does the maid. Maid goes in, comes out, then butler, then when he comes out and Joe’s grog goes in, he comes out to the sight of the two of them awaiting him in ambush. He shoves the door closed and screams. The rest of the scene is two crazed employees of the estate trying to stab us but getting shot and beaten by the characters.
So currently we are on the estate grounds. Lord Crawford (Robert) is down a few points. The maid and butler are defeated. The lawyer is dead. We are deciding what to do next.