Operation: Blow-up Doll

Have you ever had one of those sessions where there is something so completely obvious that the players should do and they just completely refuse to do it?

One of the earlier incidents of players behaving oddly (I have many from which to choose) has since come to be known as “Operation: Blow-up Doll”

It was simple. The Mages (Aenaiyah, Argus, Marissa, Molly, Neils, Nokoni, and Rex at that time) had just captured a group of Mages running a dojo who were causing people to be tainted by the Abyss. The thing of it is, they really didn’t intend for that to happen! Had anyone thought to actually talk to these people they might have found out that they really did believe that they were helping people find their paths to a Supernal Watchtower. The problem is that they had been duped by an Abyssal Entity. It was an honest mistake!

I had planned for these characters to be recurring. I had the Mage cabal find various things in the dojo that they took home with them including Busy Bea’s watercolor paintings (she was actually quite talented with solid scores in Crafts and Dexterity!), and Master Wu’s diary. I found some nice watercolor images online that I downloaded as examples of her paintings, and I even wrote out part of the diary! In Japanese! (OK, it was English printed in the Japanese font… but it looked neat dammit.) Hidden in the diary were hints that this man may have information regarding Marissa (the mysterious Acanthus child) and her family. I went so far as to determine levels of success in translating the diary as its writer was a reasonably powerful Mastigos Mage who had protected his diary against Supernal decryption. I wrote the passage in English, converted to the Japanese font, and then printed multiple copies of it with larger sections translated (printed in Calibri instead of Japanese) each time. I ranked each section by how many successes they would need to roll to unlock that stage of the translation. I thought it was cool enough to be worth the work. Hell, I even wrote a Haiku! And I gave the Haiku the same treatment!

I made it clear that this particular Mastigos had performed at least one (and quite possibly more…) Goetic Summoning. He had pulled a Vice out of his head, and then found himself unable to bring himself to destroy the demon. As a result he found it a home instead. That home was a lovely Japanese Stroll Garden in upstate New York, based on the very real Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden.

So the Mages knew that there was a Goetic Demon living in a garden, they knew that it was based upon Master Wu’s jealous rage, and they didn’t know which garden. I figured they would ask him. After all, they do have him conveniently locked up in Consilium Prison. If, by some chance, they figured out which garden on their own (as it happened they guessed correctly), I was smart enough to choose a large garden in the hopes that they might think it a good idea to ask whereabouts in this garden the Goetic Demon might be. (Note: when I ran this scenario there was a map of the garden at the website that does not appear to be there now. I used the actual garden map for the scenario.)

Clearly good ideas and my Mage troop have never been formally introduced.

The problem with this is that I had figured an interrogation would take some time during the session. I was hoping for a little Mastigos-a-Mastigos action! A battle of Wits in the truest sense!

Instead they said “it’s a Goetic Demon. How hard could it be to track it down?” and tried to scrounge up enough money for bus fair. (Except for the Thyrsus, Nokoni, who opted instead to turn into an eagle and fly there.) As it happened I did pick a precise location for the demon, and as they wandered to every area on the map EXCEPT THAT ONE… well nothing happened. They wandered, and wandered, and eventually they stumbled across the demon. Mind you, it took some doing before they figured out she was there, and she got several great mind attacks off on them before they did. Suddenly Neils was jealous about Argus being the de facto group leader, Rex was jealous about the other folks being so much younger than him, Argus was jealous of everyone else’s freedom from responsibility on account of they let him make all the decisions, Molly was jealous of Aenaiyah’s slut-tastic wardrobe (Molly was a 16 year old Mage) and they went at each other’s throats like they were actually related!

Ultimately however the characters did realize that this was the doing of a certain Goetic Demon. The players figured it out but their characters apparently aren’t all that bright. (I imagine you’re as shocked about this as I am.) One player eventually did something I expected and walked up to the demon (it had manifested by this point) and asked “Are you my Mother?” What she didn’t realize was that this time (this had been her running gag of the campaign) it was! This particular demon was a manifestation of Master Wu’s desire for the woman he loved, and that woman went on to become Marissa’s mother! Marissa’s player had let me make up the character’s backstory any way I wanted on the grounds that the character had been trapped in a chronic hysteresis for a couple of decades and had no idea why or how. This should have been a revelation of some kind. This was a clue to the mysterious character’s past. This man might know who she is… and why she had been trapped… and…



My other Acanthus, despite the fact that she couldn’t actually see the demon herself at the time, decided to go off an a rant (shocking!) and inform the demon that when it really came down to it she was really nothing more than a fancy blow-up doll for Master Wu to get his kicks with when he felt like it. I will admit that I had never figured on that particular phrasing, but I did make the demon’s bans include:

  • The fact that Marissa was the daughter of the human she was based on
  • The fact that she wasn’t actually the woman Master Wu loved, but was merely a copy

These things played upon the demon’s own jealousy and drained it of essence. Aenaiyah, noticing the demon’s reaction to her insult, ranted through the whole fight! Even after the demon manifested in her face! It was in the middle of this ranting about sex toys that the child Acanthus Marissa asked the thing if it was her mother! And when it raged and started shrieking in pain Aenaiyah realized that she had been calling Marissa’s mother a blow-up doll for the past half hour! PRICELESS!

Eventually, using Spirit Magic and the Demon’s bans they did manage to defeat it. Then they had to find a way home after the buses stopped running for the evening. With only one dot of Resources between them at the time Nokoni once again turned into an eagle and flew away. (Clearly he was the wisest among them, not that he had much competition.) The others rented a moving van because the dice were on my side for once so I deemed it all they could afford that would fit all of them.

Let’s just say that for those in the back of the van it was a long… dark… long… way home….with an excitable purple haired Acanthus…good times.

Mages Make Me Cry


Posted on April 13, 2012, in Campaign Summary, Gaming, Mage Awakening, MtAw, RPG, WoD, World of Darkness and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Classis Aenaiyah. I think she was the only one who resisted the jealousy thing.

    I believe after this we had our first Cabal pub crawl.

  2. Don’t forget Argus trying to kill his cabalmate. And Niels getting pissed off at him for it 🙂

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