Murder in the Pines Update

Last time, the characters were gearing up to go challenge the spirit. As we opened this time, we kinda got bogged down in prep. Echo, BTW, was strangely silent and inactive this session because her player was out and I wasn't feeling clever enough to come up with something interesting for her to do.

Anyway, remember the scene: The cabal, plus Legion and Emory, at Valence's house, cooking up a plan to go fight the strange spirit at Gannon Biomimetics. Whim, low on Essence, decided to go for a walk. Fin offered to go with her, and she asked Legion to go (remember, she's still in Disquiet).

The others talk about spirits and how to fight them for a while, and Asmodeus tries to scrye for the spirit again. He lets Falstaff look through his scrying window, but the Thyrsus can't see the spirit...but it apparently notices the peeking.

Up the road a ways, Legion stiffens up, and then electrocutes Whim (she was holding his hand at the time). He knocks her unconscious and then changes to liquid form and slips into the sewers. Fin calls the others, and they pick Whim up. They decide to head to the werewolf pack's house to talk with Blake, since Blake is the one who knows the most about spirits.

When they walk in, Blake and Emory have words in First Tongue, and they don't sound happy with each other. Asmodeus scryes again, and includes Blake in the window so he can use Read Spirit to find its ban, but he comes back talking about blood from Legion being involved. Whim, tired and injured, goes to nap (and use the Dream Merit). Falstaff, meantime, drives out to the graveyard Hallow to oblate, and stops in on the murder-spirit. He explains their situation, and the murder-spirit says that bans are always more literal than you'd think. If someone says "blood," then blood is surely involved. The spirit repeats his usual offer (you kill, I transport you somewhere safe), but Falstaff once again refuses.

Back at the house, Whim dreams of holding Legion (during the last session) and sees part of the strange fluid he's made of change to blood. Falstaff arrives and shares what he knows, but makes the mistake of mentioning the murder-spirit. The werewolves tense up a bit, especially when Whim mentions how much she likes that guy. Falstaff, noting their concern, says, "Oh, I know how to handle him." It's at about that point that Blake makes it known that the mages aren't welcome anymore, and that the werewolves won't be helping them on their little quest.

The mages leave, a bit perplexed (and, in Whim's case, hurt, though she notices that Emory doesn't seem to agree with his pack alpha's decision). Asmodeus scryes for Legion and notes that he's flowed up into a bathroom at the building at Gannon where he was "born." As he watches, he sees Legion in pain, saying "We're not yours," but beginning to liquefy again (remember Legion speaks of himself in plural). The mages head out toward Gannon, but find Legion on the side of the road. He attacks immediately, but between Whim's Fate magic and Fin's Mind, they manage to free him from the spirit's control.

The characters go back out to the graveyard and get some Mana, and decide to open a portal into the building so that they can confront the spirit and save Legion. During this, Asmodeus and Whim enter the second stage of Disquiet. Growing more fascinated, Asmodeus uses his Legacy Attainment to give Legion the Vice of Envy. It's subtle, but it comes out when the characters speak of leaving him behind when they go face the spirit - Legion wants to be there, too. He bleeds into a jug for purposes of the ban, and Falstaff finds a weed-killer spraygun to use.

Asmodeus opens the portal. Meanwhile, Bolg puts armor on everyone to better resist electricity. Whim casts some luck spells, but the first one misfires and hits Fin (and reverses itself, for that matter). Armored up, they enter the portal and exit into the Gannon building.

Fin psychically projects and finds four guards in the vat room - no sign of the spirit. He mentally controls the guard, forcing them to stand still and keep their eyes shut. He reenters his body, and the characters enter the room, Bolg checking on the guard bands to see if anyone's approaching. Falstaff looks across the Gauntlet and sees the spirit, but it doesn't seem to have noticed them. He pushes the spray can through the Gauntlet and fires, but the spirit responds.

The first thing it does is trip the alarms, but Bolg uses Transmission to call this off. Then it locks down the room and shuts off the lights. Again, Bolg counters this by creating light. But the characters realize that the spirit is in the Shadow, and unless they can lure it, they won't be able to beat it.

Legion, though, knows what it wants. He instructs Fin to drop the Mental Shield protecting him. Whim enchants a bracelet she's wearing to help him resist the control if it sets in again...and then the spirit shoves through the Gauntlet and attacks.

The first attack hurts, but it isn't fatal. Fin orders his slaves to shoot, but only one does (the other guns fail). Echo shoots it, Bolg throws fire at it. Its next attack nearly kills everyone in the room (except Legion, immune to electricity). The characters all remain alive and active by spending Mana to heal that one last box. Asmodeus strikes with his sword, and the spirit discorporates.

Realizing that it's still alive (Falstaff can see it reforming, separating the "blood" from its own fluids), the characters move quickly. Bolg rushes back through the portal, finds his supplies, and makes a bomb. As the characters discuss where to set it off, spirit or physical world, Loki informs them that there are gremlin-like spirits eying the bomb. They decide, with input from Loki, to blow up the physical vat so that the spirit doesn't have a place to reform, and then they all run (Fin orders the guards to run away, too).

They all make it through the portal in time, and the vat explodes. Injured, the characters regroup and Falstaff heals them a bit.

Epilogue: A French executive in a Gannon meeting. "The Genesis Material Project is a complete bust. We've lost millions of dollars and we've lost at least four personnel. We need to trace these explosives and figure out who did this. No, don't bother. I'll send my own team"

Murder in the Pines Update

You might recall that last time, the characters were on the trail of...well, something. They knew there was a powerful spirit cooling its heels and electrocuting other spirits in a now-empty vat labeled GM-1 at Gannon Biomimetics, and that something had killed Mr. Jones of the Empty Suits, but that was about it. Bolg had received his quest from Valence - to destroy the aforementioned spirit - so he went out to the werewolf pack the characters had met once before to ask their advice.

The cabal visited the pack in the morning of June 12, and they noticed a little tension between the werewolves when Whim (who had been seeing Emory, one of the werewolves) arrived. They talked about spirits for a while, and Asmodeus used his newly-acquired Adept-ness of Spirit to scry the vat and allow Blake (the pack's leader) to see the spirit. Blake analyzed the spirit with that funky "left-eye turns starry" thing he does, and said that it was strange, not something he'd seen before. It was the spirit of whatever had been in that vat before, but that thing wasn't easily explainable. The spirit's name, as close as he could translate, was "Legion," and it was a whole made up of a lot of individually aware parts. He didn't, however, get a sense of how to destroy it.

Whim wondered if she could use Fate to lead herself to the being that had escaped (presumably, the physical analog of whatever was in that vat). She started wandering off, but Emory grabbed her and told her not to wander away from her "pack" like that. After explaining what she was thinking, she tried it out, and Asmodeus, Fin and Emory went with her. Meanwhile, Bolg, Echo and Falstaff went to visit Ad Infinitum, to see if he could hack into Gannon.

He could, as it happened, but there wasn't much useful material available from where he could reach (though his use of Time magic did speed things up considerably). He found that "GM-1" stood for "Genesis Material," and that Gannon apparently is apparently tied to the European medical supplies company Jones-Klein-Beauchamp (dandelionclock, you paying attention?). But that combined with what the characters already knew about Gannon made sense - they were trying to "go Frankenstein," as Echo put it, creating life.

Echo used Divination and saw an image of a beautiful man with electric blue eyes. He was watching another man, this one Hispanic-looking, while the latter was cooking. Echo called Fin and told them to be on the lookout for such people. Bolg called Blake and updated him, and then called Mr. Smith from the Empty Suits and tried to get his thoughts...but this was new to the mages of Cincy.

Most of them, anyway.

Whim's magic led her to a house. She knocked...and Valence answered the door. He invited them in, and Whim beelined for the kitchen, where she met the Phoenix Lure's cook and housekeeper, a Spanish man named Martin. Fin sent a text message to Echo, but it was garbled - Valence explained that something was messing with the electrics, and he hadn't quite figured out what it was yet. Asmodeus mentally contacted Echo and told her where they were, and Valence filled his fellow mages in on the recent events in St. Paul (that's the beginning of the story, though Valence doesn't actually show up until later).

A note: The creature in the sculpture in St. Paul was, of course, the swarmer from Intruders: Encounters with the Abyss, which is entirely separate from Legion (whom you can find in Saturnine Night). They do dovetail nicely, of course, though that wasn't deliberate.

Anyway, with Valence's input (especially with his story about Marty, who leaked black stuff from his eyes and mouth - much like the being that Whim had seen in her viewing of the past last session), the mages pieced together that whatever escaped from the vat must have been similar to Marty and his compatriots in St. Paul. Magical attempts to pinpoint the being's location weren't working, but Fin knew it was there (Sense Consciousness). Finally, Whim addressed it as "Legion," and everyone's phone rang at once.

Legion spoke to them (referring to itself in plural), and explained that they couldn't come out and be seen, because then the mages would hate them and try to contain them. They spoke of regretting what they had done to Mr. Jones, but that they were still being controlled and they couldn't escape that. Fin used his magic to put up a Mental Shield on everyone (per Valence's instructions), and Whim convinced Legion to come out. They flowed out of the vents in a gel-like form and then solidified into the man that Echo had seen. Whim took their hand and held them (you could practically hear the Vitriol flowing). Emory wasn't pleased.

And then there's that whole Disquiet thing. Three of the people there slipped into first stage Disquiet - Echo, Asmodeus...and Whim. But first stage is subtle, and all that happened immediately was that Whim used Occlude Fortune on Legion to help prevent whatever was controlling him from doing so.

As the mages spoke with Legion, they revealed their greatest desire - Unity. Asmodeus and Bolg agreed that Gannon, or at least the vat containing the spirit, needed to be destroyed so that Legion could be free. Fin used Know Thyself (Thyselves, I guess) on Legion and saw their nigh-infinite minds, but then saw them start to change. Whatever was trying to control them, it was trying now.

The mages saddled up and called up the werewolves, who agreed to go along as backup (though more because Emory was going no matter what, so now it's pack business).

Next session: Carnage.

Muder in the Pines Update

You know, for this continuing storyline. Well, Falstaff was absent (player had family things), doing an interview as part of his new "good journalist" thing he's got going. The other characters were at Mr. Jones' house, and met up with the other Empty Suits to drop off Jones' stuff. Bolg got a call from Valence (who just made an appearance - well, kind of in flashback - in my Promethean game). Valence told him: "Here's your quest. Go to Ganon and defeat the creature lurking there." Then he hung up.

While Bolg puzzled over that, Whim left and went walking. That caused a little friction; Echo would rather her not wander off alone, but Bolg pointed out that when she does wander away, she tends to learn things.

Meanwhile, Asmodeus (whom you'll recall wasn't here last time) was driving back into the city from Erie, PA (where, perhaps, he spent time with some of the characters from this one-shot?). Almost inside the city, he spotted a wrecked car off the road. Stopping, he walked down to the car and was immediately jumped by a creature wrapped in rags. It beat him unconscious before he could get to safety.

The other characters talked about Valence's proposal and regrouped. Bolg called Asmodeus' cell phone and something answered, talking about tocks and signposts and clocks, then hung up. Echo scryed for Asmodeus and saw him knocked out, so the characters saddled up and headed out. They found his car, pulled up next to it, and Fin scanned for minds. He found one under Asmodeus' car, but then it attacked. The car, not the mind.

It lurched forward, knocking Whim over. Bolg shot out the tires and then electrified the undercarriage (not the best move, as it happens). Fin attacked mentally, and the creature leaped out and jumped on Whim, biting her with a mouth in its chest that looked rather like this. Echo shot it, Fin shut down its senses and it turned into a block of wood.

Scanning the wood of resonance revealed pure entropy, stagnation, breaking-down. Whim looked back in time, focusing on the moment of this thing's creation (Fate/Time) and saw a man with no eyes and rents in his skin pouring black stuff onto human body parts. Confused, she asked if it was possible to find the pocketwatch it had been wearing around its neck...and noted that she could see it in the grain of the wood. Fin used Destroy Object to wreck the thing and then smashed it up, and Whim grabbed the watch.

The mages headed back to town, stopping by the Guardian Angels HQ to get Whim healed up (Falstaff was incommunicado and there aren't many other Thyrsus, so they went to see Mirror). They chatted with Bailiff, too. Bolg told him about his quest, and Bailiff mentioned Joseph Campbell. Bolg went to the old graveyard Hallow to read, and learned that the next step in the hero's journey is the Refusal, followed by Supernatural Aid.

So he called up the werewolf pack to talk with them about the big ol' spirit out at Ganon, and that's where we're going next time.

Murder in the Pines Update

New story! We join our cabal on 6/11/05. In the month or so between sessions, many interesting things have happened. Shabriri, concerned that the Mysterium's representation in Cincy was down to himself and Freya (a new mage and a flighty one at that), called some other members of the order looking for a cabal that needed a home. He got a cabal from the St. Paul area, one called the Phoenix Lure. I've added them to the Consilium page.

Falstaff, unable to reconcile lying about the supernatural with journalistic integrity, left his old job as a tabloid-style reporter and moved up to political reporting. He's making better money and following more important stories. He's also become an Adept of Spirit and is looking for a Legacy (seriously, there is no reason not to join a Legacy as a mage).

Freya, for her part, is getting more capable. She's an Adept of Fate now, meaning she's got access to that kickass rote-action spell. She's also changed her Shadow Name to "Whim," which is a much better reflection of her and her magic. She's also been seeing Emory, the werewolf she met back here.

Echo is now a Disciple of Space, and spent some time in Chicago over the downtime. At some point, I might road-trip this chronicle out there, just to delve into Echo's sordid past a bit (I'm sure she has one).

Fin now has Gnosis 4, and is working toward Gnosis 5, which would give him his second attainment through the Uncrowned Kings. He's been working at the university as it gets into summer session.

Bolg has been kicking around the idea of joining the Tamers of Fire, now that there's one in town. More on this below.

Asmodeus wasn't present for this session, as his player was dying of ebola or something. I figure he was off on some Clarvicularis business with Patience.

Anyway, the news was that on the sixth of June, a Cincy-based company called Ganon Biomimetics blacked out the whole city. One of their labs starting drawing too much juice from the lines, and the kill-switch didn't engage, for whatever reason. Cincinnati lost power for 12 full minutes. Places like hospitals with backup systems were OK, but the city was plenty ticked. Ganon, a private company, has been under scrutiny ever since - some of it from mages.

Falstaff has tried to get an interview and some info, but all he's learned so far is that GB employees get paid far more than they should and they signed absolutely unbelievable NDA forms. The company seems to be domestic, but it's not publicly traded, and so information is hard to track down.

The Empty Suits, too, have taken an interest, but while looking into it, Mr. Jones (a Thyrsus) was electrocuted. He was found by passersby before he could heal himself and hospitalized, and since a miraculous recovery raises too many eyebrows, his cabal was letting him heal naturally for a while.

As today's session begins, Fin and Echo were going to visit Mr. Jones in the hospital. Whim was out walking the city, looking for information about the blackout. Bolg went to see Ad Infinitum to talk about Ganon. Falstaff, unable to secure an interview, went out to Ganon to take a look around.

Bolg's meeting with Ad Infinitum left him with information he already knew about Gangon; they worked with biomedical technology - really next-gen stuff, like creating life out of base materials (what, you think I'm kidding?) and they paid very well, but expected crazy non-disclosure in return. He'd worked with a woman who'd interned there, but had left over "ethical disputes." He didn't know why.

From there, Bolg decided to go talk to Valence, the Tamer of Fire from the Phoenix Lure. They discussed leadership, Helen's possible motives for suggesting the Legacy to Bolg, and whether 6s and 7s really needed a "leader." Valence said that he'd train Bolg if he wish; Bolg said he'd think about it.

Whim followed her threads to Ganon. En route, she saw lightning striking repeatedly but always at the same place - one of the buildings at the Ganon complex. The rain felt thick, and a droplet caught on her finger revealed a single, pale blue eye that winked at her before falling. At the complex, she used her Attune attainment and saw the blackout spreading out from one particular building - the same one that had been hit by lightning in the vision.

Falstaff, also on site, parked some distance away and entered the Shadow. In the Shadow, the walls around the complex were higher and stronger, and the wire more forbidding. He used Spirit magic to open a hole in the spirit-wall, but was immediately attacked by metallic flying spiders (a big swarm of them!). He canceled the spell, and wound up back in the physical world, talking with Whim. Whim wanted to sneak into the complex, and was probably lucky enough to do it.

Echo and Fin, meantime, were in the elevator en route to Mr. Jones' floor when the elevator stopped. The power hiccuped, and then died. They jimmied the door and crawled out onto the floor where Jones was staying. The power came back on as they neared his door, but there was chaos - as they arrived, the doctors performing CPR were giving up, and writing down his time of death. There were other Empty Suits in the room, but they were stunned, too, as though injured. Fin scanned the dead mage's brain for his last memories, but a powerful electric shock had scrambled his mind, making such retrieval impossible.

Echo, meanwhile, used Postcognition to look back in time. She saw the mages in the darkened room and then a powerful surge of electricity. She saw the one ray of sunlight into the room strike something iridescent on the floor, which then started to move away. Electronics shorted out, and then it was over. Scanning resonance in the room, Echo noted a saturating resonance of "ozone," an artificial, technological feeling that was actually breaking down electrical devices over time. That resonance was so powerful, it was drowning out everything else. Fin noted, though, that the energy that killed Mr. Jones was tinged with spite.

Talking with Mr. Davis, Fin learned that when he'd been electrocuted, Mr. Jones had been readying a report on Ganon and what happened. Fin got Jones' address, and headed out.

Whim, meantime, had snuck onto the base. She blew a Stealth roll, but when the guard noticed her, an exceptional success on a Perfect Moment spell let her find a dropped ID badge. She sneaked around the base to the building she wanted, but it was heavily guarded. She waited, and a scientist approached, looking to get in and retrieve a planner he'd left. The guards refused, telling him to take it up with management. He crept around the side of the building (Whim followed) and slipped in through a Biohazard tent set up against the side of the building. Whim had Loki follow him.

He walked into a huge room with mesh floors, and a great glass vat in the center. The vat was cracked open, and the side was stenciled with GM-1. But it was empty. The man got his planner, but then collapsed - a guard had shot him dead with a silenced rifle. Whim, horrified, told Loki to check the vat. He did, and a burst of electricity nearly killed Whim (who experienced it through the Familiar bond). She limped out of the place without notice, and Falstaff kindly healed her. They left and called Fin and Echo.

The mages arranged to hook up at Jones' place, minus Bolg, who headed out to the werewolves to let them know about spiritual weirdness. They said that if the mages needed help rousting a spirit, they were in.

At Jones' apartment, Fin sensed several conscious beings inside and waited for Falstaff. Falstaff confirmed they were spirits, and picked the lock. A dog-spirit snarled and barked, protecting the place for "Master," but Falstaff (rather callously) told him that Master was dead. The dog-spirit sat back and howled with grief until Whim comforted him.

Fin found a hidden compartment beneath the carpet, but it was guarded by a scorpion-spirit. Falstaff commanded it to leave, and it pretended to, but stung Fin when he opened the compartment. Falstaff healed him up and ordered the scorpion-spirit out again. This time it left, and Fin found several rotes and a journal detailing the spiritual activity of the city and Jones' investigation into Ganon. His notes indicated that something had escaped from Ganon, but it wasn't a spirit - though it rather behaved like one.

Meantime, Whim had heard the dog-spirit mention the "bats" in the bathroom. Falstaff opened the door, and the bat-spirits attacked, trying to possess him. He fought them off and commanded them away.

The characters still aren't sure exactly what escaped from Ganon, but they know the company is willing to murder its own to cover it up. Also, something out there is capable of electrocuting mages, and it left behind a powerful spirit at Ganon that apparently also has that capability.

Next session, we'll see where it leads.

Murder in the Pines Update

The characters all sank into meditation in Ad Infinitum's Demesne, casting themselves into dreams. But to get to the Tenemos, you have to go through the Oneiros, and there's things waiting for you there...

(This session, BTW, would probably have focused entirely on the astral journey if I had that Astral Realms book. Since I don't, we skimped a little, but I'm hoping that the players do this again sometime. I love spirit journeys.)

Bolg found himself back in the war, kicked in a door while clearing a building and found a bomb. He set about disarming it - not enough time to get everyone out. He went on instinct, not using magic, and defused it. (The important decision here was: Use magic or not?)

Echo and Fin were in the same dream (his or hers?). They were under the bridge again, but this time the people weren't just talking, they were lurching about like the infected in 28 Days Later. Echo shot them, slaughtering them all, and Fin destroyed the bodies and wiped the area clean. The essential question: Kill or rescue?

Falstaff, who Awakened while pursuing a guy who was killing Ridden folks and went to jail for it, found himself sitting in prison talking with this guy (as a visitor). The guy asked him if he was out there doing the work that the killer had started; Falstaff answered that he wasn't killing people, anyway. The killer called him nothing but a voyeur, and bristled at rotting in jail for doing something necessary. He said that Falstaff could free him by revealing magic to the world, but Falstaff wouldn't do that, and left the guy in prison. The question here was a little more complex; it's about Falstaff and pride, but more specifically, is he willing to get famous for being the one to expose the Supernal to the Fallen? Guess not (probably for the best).

Freya found herself walking the city, and then found a bloody pine needle in her ear. The murder-spirit appeared and asked what she was doing; she said she was looking for Aaron Magnus. It said it could help her find him, if she wanted to kill him; she didn't, but she invited him to come along. The question here (quite apart from "was that murder-spirit the real one, or just a part of her dream?") is, again, can Freya look past abstraction and see people?

And, finally, Midnight. He found himself at the mouth of a cave and heard a voice calling him in. He followed it, and just before falling into a pit, used Space sight (dark in there) and realized it was there. He tried to jump it (Fortitude!) and missed (no Athletics!). Since you only take Willpower as damage in a dream, he woke up when he hit, out of Willpower. He went back into the dream (Fortitude) and confronted and killed the two-faced lion. The question here was simple Virtue vs. Vice - class goetist stuff.

After these vignettes, the characters met up in the Temenos. They each contributed a feature: Fin made the sun rise, Bolg gave us a thunderstorm, Echo made an armchair, Freya a one-person flying machine, Falstaff a newspaper, and Midnight a road (interesting how some folks change the weather, some folks give themselves comfort, and some folks make objects). The murder-spirit was also present (he contributed a pine tree).

Midnight scryed for Aaron Magnus and found him, or his dream, anyway. He was sitting with several of the Golden Flame members and talking about how "these people" needed to burn, and then threw down photographs of the Choir Invisible, including one of Midnight. Then he noticed the scrying window and threw fire back threw it. Midnight closed the window, but not before the murder-spirit turned into a column of pine needles and poured himself through it.

They chatted for a while about how to find Magnus' dreams, and then used various methods. Freya looked for his threads. Bolg looked for ley line convergence. Falstaff talked to the spirit of the road. Midnight searched for the direction of what he'd just seen. Fin called up a taxi to get them there.

They arrived at his house, and Freya used her Attune attainment to see its history. She saw protesters here, something about zoning laws...Falstaff remembered this from the 80s (the point here was just learning where the house was in Cincy). Fin figured he could pierce Magnus' own dream-bubble and force him out, but as he was an Ascended Adept they weren't sure what he was capable of here. Freya knocked, and the golden wrath-spirit answered the door. She asked it some questions, and it told her that Aaron wasn't annoyed with Fin (not trained by the Choir Invisible) or Echo (not local), just with the Choir and thus Midnight. She asked why he was doing all of this, and he said it was because the Choir had destroyed his masterpiece (the Golden Flame labyrinth).

The cabal woke up, and split for a while. Echo, Bolg and Midnight went to visit Crescendo, but he told them pretty much what he already had: Magnus had been expelled from the Golden Flame because of what he'd done to Matthew Crane, but he hadn't been kicked out of the Guardians (he'd left).

Falstaff, Frey and Fin went to Magnus' house. They found it empty and with a "For Sale" sign. Falstaff talked to the house spirit, and wound up having to command it to give him information, but learned that Magnus came back once a week or so to maintain the place. They broke in and went downstairs. Freya looked back in time and saw him writing a list - the list of the Golden Flame members. She also saw a note to "Contact Golem." Recall that last time, Golem had mentioned an unsolicited contact from someone in Detroit...

Fin found a box under the stairs, aged and dusty. He scanned it with Death and Mind, but failed the one that mattered (Matter). He opened it...

boom. (Hey, how else would a Master of Forces trap a house?)

OK, an aside: The bomb rules in NWoD are weak. Chuck, am I missing something here? An ANFO bomb does 2 base damage and then 2 dice more? Yawn. You can't die from that.

Anyway, I upped the damage, figuring it was magical anyway. Fin was OK, but Falstaff was badly injured (no armor spell up). Like, all lethal, wrapped around to agg. Freya stabilized him (she'd been in the next room and not injured), and Fin turned off his pain receptors and woke him up so he could heal himself. Good thing, too - not enough burn units anyway.

They contacted Midnight and told him what happened, and the six of them went to see Golem (it was getting on 6AM, that's time to be up, right?). He showed them the letter, which was focused on his Awakening and the strange nature of it, and Midnight found on lone thread on it that seemed promising. He strengthened it, and then scryed. It took him some time, but he figured out where Magnus was - Ember's library.

The cabal raced to Ember's house. Midnight, Freya, Echo and Falstaff went around back and Falstaff started messing with the door. Fin just knocked on the front door...but then the wrath-spirit appeared at the back door and attacked Midnight with fire. Freya tried to talk with it, but it was all burning wrath by this point. She, Falstaff and Bolg raced inside and headed downstairs, while the three Guardians engaged the Wrath of Aaron Magnus. Midnight had to devote much of his action to not dying from fire damage, but between Fin's Psychic Sword and Echo's Time-enhanced gun (I figure it's a Weaving Time spell to make a gun auto-fire for a turn), they discoporated it.

Downstairs, meantime, they found Magnus. They tried to question him, but he was sullen and morose. They asked if he felt he was beyond redemption for what he did, and he said he was now. He had no better answers to the "why" questions - he was doing all this because his life's work had been destroyed. Since the mages downstairs weren't targets, he didn't attack them. He just used Control Fire and set the library ablaze.

Upstairs, Fin had found Ember's corpse, shot through the throat. As the fire consumed the house, he took her outside and changed her cause of death to smoke inhalation. The house, and the Athaneum of the Consilium, burned, taking the body of Aaron Magnus with it.

Aftermath: Midnight joined the Claviculari formally, and changed his Shadow Name to Asmodeus. Helen was upset about Ember's death, but she and Crescendo both were glad that the characters had been so diligent in running all of this down. They were, however, worried about the murder-spirit. Seems there's a dearth of Spirit-capable mages in this city, and that murder-spirit is getting a little too dangerous to keep around.

Something for next story, perhaps.

Murder in the Pines Update

Last session, you'll recall, Midnight wasn't there because his player was off fighting llamas or something. So he showed up early and we nailed down what had happened to Midnight.

He'd gone to visit Patience (member of the Hecatonchire, the cabal of the former Hierarch, Silas). You'll recall that Patience is a Clavicularis, and Midnight wants to be. So Patience gave him a rundown on the point of the Legacy, and asked if he really wanted to join the Legacy, or if he just wanted to learn goetic magic. He said he wanted to join, so Patience took him to a local police station. They snuck into a room where a woman was looking at a lineup, and Patience told Midnight that recognizing motive - especially in oneself - is crucial to the Legacy (you'll note the "Empathy 3" requirement). He told Midnight to pick out who was dangerous, without using magic. Midnight did, and raised his Empathy to 2 (he bought it up to 3 at the end of the session).

Back at Patience's cabal's sanctum, Patience said that the next step was an initiation involving powerful hallucinogens. Normally this would be presided over by the Legacy's representatives, but since Patience was the only Clarvicularis in the city, Midnight needed to pick three other mages to question his demons. He chose his cabal-mate, Fin; Mayfly and Golem (all Guardians, you'll note).

At about this point, Silas, the former Hierarch, and Elixir, another member of the Hecatonchire, barged in. Silas was annoyed that Midnight and Patience were dabbling with this "goetia" stuff - couldn't they see it had already gotten people killed (he's referring to the mess that's currently happening with Aaron Magnus and so on; not necessarily goetia, but Silas has that on the brain)? He accused Midnight of using Mind magic to pump Patience for Silver Ladder secrets, but it became clear he was just spoiling for a fight. He finally challenged Midnight to the Duel Arcane, and since Midnight wanted this put to rest rather than lingering, he agreed.

He did, however, go into the fight with no Willpower. He lasted a good long while, considering, mostly because I was rolling like crap. Finally, though, Silas brought the pain and knocked Midnight out. He woke up on Patience's couch, and then headed home. Patience told him that he'd be in contact about the Rite of Castigation later.

Meanwhile, the rest of the cabal, having talked the folks under the bridge down from dark angel aphasia, met up for dinner. Midnight joined them and told them why he looked like hell. The characters discussed what to do next. Sleep was on the docket, first off, except for Midnight and Fin, who had that rite to do.

Fin, Mayfly, Golem and Patience went to Midnight's club. Midnight took the big quaff of hallucinogenic stuff and passed out...and then his skin tore open and a gigantic lion with two human faces emerged ("Don't worry about it," said Patience, "we're just see his hallucination."). The mages then questioned this manifestation of Midnight's Vice. They learned that about the only thing he wouldn't sacrifice for "power" was his own soul, but that he didn't have a good grasp of what "power" was - when asked who he envied most, he replied "Oracles." He also seems to value his work for his order over his cabal, which worried Fin a bit. Patience warned the other mages that they were seeing something very personal, and they weren't seeing the best parts of Midnight - his wisdom and morality weren't represented here. That said, he had work to do - but that's the point.

Golem gave Fin a ride home. En route, he asked Fin if he knew a Guardian from Detroit named Laroye. Apparently this guy had written Golem asking about his weird Awakening. Fin didn't know him, but asked for Golem to keep him in the loop.

That night, Echo dreamed. She saw Ember reaching through a gold fire to get a chalice, but kept burning her hand. Finally, she cut herself open, pulled out a gem, and set it in the fire. That put the fire out, and she grabbed the chalice and left.

Echo and Falstaff dropped in on Ember the next morning and learned some interesting information. Seems that Aaron Magnus was, previously, a member of the Guardians of the Veil who went by Pianissimo. He also holds Ember's soul stone. She'd needed to get her hands on "something" that required her to break the Lex Magica, and Magnus had looked the other way in exchange for the stone (which gives him the usual three favors). He'd called the first one in just recently, looking for something that would prevent another mage from talking. She gave him the book infected with dark angel aphasia, but claimed that she didn't know how contagious it really was. She also said that she'd tell the mages if he contacted her again, unless he told her not to.

Fin went to work, and looked in on the University archives (remember, there was a break-in a few days ago). He wasn't able to find anything out of place, but did sense a lingering resonance of frustration. He tagged it magically and decided to bring Echo back later so she could look in on the break-in with Time magic.

Bolg contacted Helen and asked about looking into Dr. Crane's mind to see if he could shed any light on this "inverted tower" thing, since Bolg was wondering if the golden-flamey-man might be an Abyssal spirit. Helen worried about reactivating the aphasia, and recommended that Bolg look in on an Arrow mage named Mirror, who was fairly knowledgeable about Abyssal manifestations.

Freya visited Eye of the Storm, having recently raised her Gnosis to 3. She asked about joining the House of Ariadne, and Eye of the Storm took her to a point in the city and told her to follow the thread. She did...for three hours, without complaint, and Eye of the Storm stopped her and told her that the Legacy requires patience. It takes years for a city's destiny to unfold, and you can't apply the Gordian Knot solution - you have to untangle the threads. Freya agreed, and joined the Legacy.

The group re-convened and shared some information. Midnight contacted Crescendo and learned more about Magnus. Seems Aaron Magnus was paralyzed by an assailant's bullet a while back, but couldn't have the damage magically healed because doing so would blow his identity (he'd been taken to the hospital and treated, so according to Sleeper records, he's paralyzed). He could have reinvented himself, but doing that would have required him to give up his beloved Golden Flame labyrinth, so he kept the wheelchair. And then he infected Dr. Crane with dark angel aphasia in order to keep him out of the labyrinth (probably not knowing how contagious it was, but the response was still inappropriate), and so Crescendo took the Golden Flame away from him (which is why he was "expelled" from the organization). Magnus retreated from mage society entirely, and here we are.

The group split again (they do this a lot). Bolg went to see Mirror, and they kicked ideas around for a while. Mirror said that this thing sounded more like a spirit of wrath than an Abyssal creature, and the subject of goetia came up. Mirror, noticing Loki (Freya was with Bolg), theorized that Magnus had summoned up a spirit of his own wrath using goetia, and then bonded it to himself using a Familiar spell.

Meanwhile, the other four mages went to the university. Echo looked back in time and saw a frat-boy shoulder in the door and pawed through a file, but he didn't find what he wanted, and suddenly seemed to realized where he was and bolted. They assumed he was mind-controlled (a good bet), and Fin did a quick sketch. Midnight scryed the kid, and they found him at the frat house. A few Imposter spells and claims to be cops later, they had him alone and Fin used Read the Depths to find what he'd been looking for - a file for a former student named Grady Parks.

Bolg was still interested in getting more information out of Dr. Crane, so the whole group plus Mirror trucked out to the home of Ad Infinitum, a Free Council mage, a Master of Time, and a Councilor. He'd been meeting that day with Dr. Crane, as it happened. The big group of mages talked and shared information. Midnight called Crescendo and mentioned the name "Grady Parks;" Crescendo told him that was Patience's real name. Midnight called Patience and told him that someone was looking for him. Patience figured the only reason for that was his practice of goetia.

The mages kicked theories around for a while. Fin mentioned Golem's letter, and the conversation turned to the Mask of Hecate. Midnight called Enoch out in Boston, and in the process got the scoop on the recent power shift. With this information, including rumors of a nuclear blast in a pocket realm, some of the madness that Crane was spewing made horrible, horrible sense. But was it relevant to what was happening here?

Midnight called Enoch back for more information, and he called Rogue Element and got Knit. Knit called Midnight back (the same dude who plays Fin also plays Knit), and she teleported to Cincy to chat. She gave them the lowdown on what really happened in Boston, as well as the story on Dexter Nuremburg. Could Dexter really have "tagged" the nuclear blast, to access it whenever he needs it?

Anyway, as Knit's also a Sphinx, she was able to read the book containing the aphasia without catching it. She learned that it was a direct connection to the Abyss, but that it imprinted on the language centers of the brain of anyone infected and slowly pulled them out of the Fallen World, into the Abyss. A mage could get great insight while infected, but was probably screwed in the long run if not cured. The consensus was that the information from the aphasia wasn't immediately relevant to Magnus.

The suggestion was made to find Magnus by entering the Temenos, the astral realms. Of course, that would put him on home turf - he's a capable Mind mage, obviously, and an Ascended Adept to boot. But it's easier than scrying him, because he's got a real knack for avoiding that kind of detection.

Ad Infinitum offered up his Demesne to meditate and thus enter the Astral space. Next time, the journey to Aaron Magnus' dreams!

NOOB is me

Hello everyone, I have an intrest in Mage, and White Wolf games in general. I have just ordered a copy of the core book, and was wondering if I needed all the other books, or certain ones, or you know what else? I am still searching for a few others in my area interested, found a couple Vampire players, they are a little iffy.

I will be looking into an online 'chat' too, I know White Wolf has one, maybe somebody knows of another?

Anyway. Hello all.
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Awakening quick reference

Hi guys,

I'm just about to set up a M:tA game in Gosford, NSW, Australia. Does anyone know where I can find some quick reference spellcasting sheets - I'm an experienced player/GM but the PCs are not. I'd like to not have to answer the question 'what can I do with space 2?' every 5 mins :)

x posted to spysdemise

Murder in the Pines Update

This chapter contained elements from Tome of the Watchtowers, Intruders, Legacies: The Ancient, Legacies: The Sublime and of course the core. Some of this will be obvious, some of it hasn't come up yet. Oh, Tome of the Mysteries, too.

The cabal had split up a bit after meeting the werewolves in the last session. Falstaff went to his office with the book he'd snagged from Brinkely's house, and looked up the members of the Golden Flame. He found 10 members, and all of them were rich and entrenched in Cincy society. There was another man who showed up in the pictures he found fairly often, an older gent who was standing in the older pictures, but sitting in the newer ones. He was never named in the pictures, and some of the photos looked blurry.

Fin went to the morgue with Brinkley's body. He psychically projected and used a Read the Depths/Death combo to look at Brinkley's last few thoughts. He saw a young man standing in front of Brinkley, but the man burst into flames (and collapsed Brinkley's lungs). Fin used Corpse Mask to change cause of death to heart attack before leaving.

Bolg went home and read about the Tamers of Fire. You can read up about them yourselves in Legacies: The Ancient. I've even got a copy for sale if you want.

Echo went to talk with Crescendo and learned a little about the Golden Flame. Aaron Magnus had been a member of that society, but also a Guardian, tasked with keeping the Labyrinth intact. A few weeks back, a neurologist from Cleveland named Matthew Crane had joined the Golden Flame, and Magnus had...done something to him. Crescendo didn't know what, and attempts to find Crane had failed. The Guardians had ousted Magnus from the Society as punishment, but then he disappeared. Something was up and the Choir Invisible was playing its cards close to its chest until they knew what (and Crescendo asked Echo to keep information to her cabal on a need-to-know as long as possible).

Freya, finally, went wandering the city. Underneath the Ohio River Bridge, she found a group of people listening to a man speaking. All of these people looked disheveled, but only about half looked homeless. The rest looked like working folks who just hadn't showered or changed clothes recently. One was still wearing his pizza delivery outfit. Freya listened, but couldn't make sense of what they were saying - something about blackness and towers. She tried to puzzle it together...and it clicked! The man was talking about the Abyss. Freya started gaining Arcane Experience, but she also refused to do anything but listen to the man.

He said, by the way, that the five towers have inversions, reflections, and it's possible to visit two in succession, or either one. Freya asked if the Abyss had grown wider lately, and the man said it hadn't around here, but north of here there was a nuclear blast that happen on another plane of reality, and "he" tagged it. Now "he" can open it up whenever he wants. With no context, this was just confusing, but Freya didn't mind.

The others had gotten back together at Falstaff's office and shared some of their info, but they couldn't find Freya (she wasn't answering her phone). Loki, her familiar, arrived and said that she had gone crazy, and the characters headed out.

They arrived at the bridge and Fin scanned the people mentally. He found that they were suffering from some form of aphasia, but a Life scan from Falstaff showed that it wasn't physiological. Bolg noted that the man speaking was a mage, but he was suffering from the aphasia, too. The characters tried to drag Freya out, but she resisted (and Echo wound up on her ass after a dramatic failure). Finally, Fin Augmented her mind and she snapped out of it.

The characters threw some spells around, including a Postcognition that showed Freya the speaker at the right moment (Time/Fate, I really need to write that spell up). She saw him speaking with a man in a wheelchair. The man gave him a book, and said "If you're going to be a member, you need to read up on our bylaws and practices." The man started reading...and couldn't stop. A quick description later, and the mages made the connection: the man in the wheelchair was Aaron Magnus.

Echo called Crescendo and described what was happening. Crescendo's response: "Kill them all. It's called dark angel aphasia, and it's highly contagious." Fin was in the process of talking to Mr. James from the Empty Suits (who knew nothing about this) when Echo started attaching her silencer to her gun. The other mages talked her down, and Freya called Ember. Ember said that she'd look into it, and Echo agreed to keep everything contained (but there was some friction between Guardians there for a minute).

Freya noted that the man apparently had the book on him, and Falstaff nicked it and gave it to Echo. Echo looked back in time on the book and saw it sitting on a shelf, near a sparkling red gemstone about the size of a fist. She looked ever further back than that and saw it...on Ember's bookshelf.

About then Ember called Freya back and said that a Making Mind spell might work, but that required a Master. Fin called Helen (you know, the Hierarch) and explained the situation. She said she'd be there directly, but that the characters needed to choose who to save. After all, she wasn't sure that she could save everyone. They all looked at Freya, who used a Knowing Fate spell on the people to see who was destined for great things. What she saw...well, might change her a little.

If every given person has 10 possible destinies, and you look at the possible destinies of 12 people, that's 120 different threads. Now imagine you're looking at the threads of the the people those people will interact with, and in what way they'll change based on those 10 possibilities. Freya fell into this sea of potentiality, and rode the wave, as it were. Now more than ever, she understands what Eye of the Storm means when she's talking about the destiny of a city. But as for the task at hand, she couldn't choose a person to live or die, so when Helen arrived, she filtered out the homeless folks and picked one other person at random.

Helen cured her, but it was difficult and took a lot out of her. Crescendo had arrived by now, and the mages decided to work this out a little more. Crescendo incapacitated the people with a Matter spell (knockout gas), and they dragged the leader back so that Helen could cure him. When he came to, he told them his name...Dr. Matthew Crane, formerly of the Cleveland Clinic.

He described his Awakening to the Watchtower of the Golden Key, and said he'd come to Cincinnati to seek out this "Golden Flame" society that he'd heard of. They'd admitted him, but Aaron Magnus had given him this book, and that's where the trouble started. From the information they gave him, though, the mages guessed that they could cure the dark angel aphasia by getting the people to talk about something else for a while - Crane reported being briefly distracted by a medical TV show before the curse really set in. The mages took the people back to a safe place, and over the course of the rest of the day, talked them down.

Questions abound, of course. How did the book containing the dark angel aphasia (now sealed shut with magic) get from Ember to Magnus to Crane? Crescendo knows about this because Echo told him, but that's it (don't think she's even told the other PCs). Why did Magnus do this to Crane - if he wanted him gone, why not just kill him?

And where was Midnight through all of this? (His player was out.) We shall see.