Caveat Acanthus

Before the face of the child in the ritual circle could even reach the Mage’s retina her throat was torn out by a Werewolf. I blame several factors for this:

  1. The Werewolves had never met Marissa, and had no idea that the Mage’s knew this child.
  2. The Werewolves were all hopped up on acceleration spells and there was Great Danger to the city here: the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few (or the one) and all that.
  3. Marissa did cast several spells asking Fate for something interesting to happen during the last session she attended. Challenge accepted!
  4. Werewolf

Now I know what you’re thinking here. You’re thinking “Wait a minute, did you just imply that the child in the ritual circle was a player character?” Why yes, yes I did. In fact, I am flat out stating that the child was a player character. I fully understood the danger inherent here, but had contingencies for enough potential outcomes that I felt OK with it.

You see, in my original plan this scenario was going to play out over the course of two game sessions: one in which the group’s legal drinkers wreak havoc on Liberty island and ultimately get sucked through a portal while the “meddling kids” have “something interesting” happen, and one in which they deal with the terror that is about to take place on New Year’s Eve.  The first part of this plan worked like a charm ending with an awesome monologue… EXCEPT… the people playing the underage characters were not able to make it to the session. This caused a slight kink, but only a slight one. After all, there was no reason for the players to not meet up on the roof tops, and there was no reason in my mind for Marissa to already be in the ritual circle when the others arrived. She and Molly could just as easily have been talking with the people on the roof.

Incidentally, the people on the roof were Marissa’s Mother, Father, and Brother. The intention here was to reveal chunks of the backstory that I had come up with for Marissa, and hit her player with some interesting decisions to make. Was Marissa going to continue to be an eternal child, or would she start to age? Would she take conscious action to remain young, or would it be something she was doing unknowingly? What would the repercussions be?

Sadly, once again the players did not attend.

At this point a sane and rational GM might have changed their plans. After dealing with this troupe month after month I could no longer lay claim to those adjectives. Still, I tend to think it’s pretty bad form to kill someone’s character when they aren’t at a session. I could just as easily have made this some other child, and had the group of Scelesti Mages on the rooftop have been some other group of Scelesti Mages who had nothing to do with Marissa whatsoever. Instead I figured that since the ritual was not intended to kill the child (her parents had been keeping her alive, unharmed, and unchanged for 40 years or so by this point) so chances were that she would live through the fight. After all, when you see a child in a ritual circle in a movie you try to save the child, don’t you?

Enter the Werewolf.

With the kind of Intitiative roll that only a 4th Dot Time Mage can grant one of the Werewolves tears ass  across the rooftop they are on, leaps the narrow alley, shoulder-rolls his landing back onto his feet, and springs up through the air hitting the child’s throat with his teeth and ripping her esophagus out. No one on the rooftop that night saw that one coming.

I however was not on the rooftop.

I know my players, and if there is one thing I know it is that they will make the worst decision possible. That kid was going down, and I knew it. I had absolutely planned for the demon that was to be summoned with the addition of the child’s blood to the circle to decide that her body looked like a nice cozy home now that she wasn’t using it. The moment the thing’s round came up and it turned her head (still in the jaws of a Werewolf) and asked that Werewolf “Are you my Father?” was priceless.

Clearly that player has seen Ghostbusters, because he knows that when someone asks you if you’re a god (or their Father) YOU SAY YES! This is why, throughout the fight, when the demon was stealing hit points from the other PCs and giving them to the Scelesti Mages, it was giving them to the Werewolf too. Even as he fought against it the demon was giving him his friend’s hit points. The demon wasn’t about to let its father stay hurt!

At the end of the day the players beat the hell out of the Scelesti. It was a tough fight though! The players had the Scelesti badly outnumbered, but Marissa’s Mother, the head of their cabal, was a ridiculously powerful Thyrsus Mage who was able to do some real damage, even to the Werewolves while also healing herself and her cabal. What she couldn’t do was teleport or portal herself out of there because that accursed Guardian of the Veil (ARGUS!) killed her Space Mage outright in the surprise round in one lucky shot.  If that hadn’t happened, if he had randomly picked anyone but the Space Mage, they would have been able to leave the fight and live to summon demons another day. It simply wasn’t meant to be.

As for Marissa… as I’ve said, it’s poor form to kill off someone’s character when they aren’t at the session. This is why I would have been quite happy with the idea of Marissa being at the next session (or some later session) and showing up to knock on the Sanctum door because she had lost her key. The player wouldn’t have known why everyone at the sanctum would be surprised to see her, hich would be consistent with the character having not one single clue about what had just happened. They could have dealt with explaining it to her (or not) in character. It could have been an interesting way to explore her backstory. What really happened on that roof? Was that a random child altered by Life Magic to appear to be Marissa for some reason? Did Marissa have an identical twin? Was it a clone? Was that some “future Marissa” Brought back in time to serve her purpose here and now, still alive and unchanged at some point in the distant future? Was the Time Line messed with in some other way? (The child IS an Acanthus Mage after all.)

I really did have multiple possibilities for Marissa’s return planned out, but due to schedule problems the players who played the underage characters weren’t able to continue with the campaign.  As such, Marissa died that night on the rooftop, and Molly disappeared into the night as was her way. It was a pity, but it certainly was an interesting way to end her story.

The Moral of the Story: Be careful what you wish for, especially if your GM is the MageMistress.

Mages Make Me Cry


Posted on May 18, 2012, in Campaign Summary, Games, Gaming, Mage Awakening, MtAw, NaNoWriMo, RPG, Werewolf Forsaken, WoD, World of Darkness, WtF and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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