Author Archives: Mage Mistress
Eventually the Mages decided that they had done enough damage to one poor woman’s psyche, and decided it was time to attempt the arrangement of a prisoner exchange. Finally, a plan that makes sense!
What they managed to learn in the Seer’s brain:
- Damien was stabbed in the chest because life-or-death situations tend to trigger Awakenings. Sara (AKA: Hannah) stabbed him herself for two reasons: 1: As a Fate Mage she thought she could maybe help to tip the scales in his favor. 2: Damien had been kind of a douchebag to a lot of people as of late and she was afraid that if she let someone else step in and do it they might kill him… “by accident”. (Sara actually did love Damien. Love Stinks.)
- Aenaiyah’s sister is taking a nap in the Fae Wild. She hasn’t been harmed, but she has been there for a bit. She’s likely to be a bit confused when she wakes up and a week has gone by that she can’t account for, but otherwise she should be fine.
- Arrow has recently sold Werewolf fur to the head of the Seers of the Throne. (Or at least the head of this particular Pylon of Seers anyway.)
- Sara herself dumped Aenaiyah’s sister, Betsy, in the Fae Wild. She cast a bunch of protective spells to see to it that Betsy doesn’t get scooped up by True Fae or anything (like her annoying sister Aenaiyah). A special Thorn was used to prick the foot of anyone needing to be passed through a particular Hedge Gate, and without the Thorn to get through that particular Gate it would be difficult at best to navigate through the Fae Wild to where Betsy is sleeping. Sara can get Betsy back, but not while she locked up in Mage Prison.
- The Consillium has been riddled with spies since the confusion caused by the events of September 11th. These spies include:
- The group’s Guardian of the Veil contact (and extremely powerful Mastigos Arch-Master) Narsil. Sara herself sanctified his “Guardians of the Veil” Oath using an extremely powerful Ancient Silver Coin. His avatar’s yellow clothing at The Pyramid indicated that he is unaware that he has been compromised. (This is, in fact, not true. He is aware of it, they simply think he is not.)
- A. Morgan: The A has stood for many names over the years: Alex, Andrew, Allan, Anthony, etc. This is not because he has lived an incredibly long life-span; he moves in a lot of circles and uses a lot of different first names. You’ll learn much more about him in the coming posts, but for now let’s just say that he is somewhat unstable.
Armed with the knowledge that they do know how to contact the head of the Seer Pylon that is holding Aenaiyah’s sister, and that he has in fact established a rapport with Arrow, one of the Player Characters, the Mages decide to go off half-cocked and have someone else contact him. In fact, it isn’t just any Mage who contacts him, it’s Aenaiyah herself. Clearly she is the most level headed among them, and her ability to remain calm and seemingly impartial during this process makes her the best choice for the job. Not only does she decide to take it upon herself to contact this man, Dr. Blair, she decides that it would be a marvelous idea to make a bunch of demands of her own because they have his granddaughter. Her demands are as follows:
- Return Betsy unharmed
- Release Narsil from his “Guardian of the Veil” oath
- Remove all the spies from the Consillium
- Make no moves against the Consillium ever again
- Make no moves against us ever again (corollary to “Make no moves against the Consillium ever again” – above)
- Stay out of Damien’s life
- Give us The Thorn
- Give us Sara’s Ancient Silver Coin.
In return the Mages will:
- Return Sara in “very good” condition (There may be a few barely noticeable dings in the corners of her brain.)
- Deal with A. Morgan – which is to say “Kill Morgan”. It is important to note here that Morgan has been a powerful and successful Seer operative for decades. Even if he is becoming slightly unstable, as an Arch Master of Mind (which the Mages know for a fact that Dr. Blair is) it’s likely that Dr. Blair would have an easier time dealing with Morgan than they would anyway, and Dr Blair could probably deal with him without killing him, thereby retaining his services.
Sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it?
Now I know what you’re saying: why in F@&% would anyone give the Seers that much information? Why, when you know that the Seers don’t know that Narsil is aware that he is compromised would you TELL THEM this? God knows it’s a question I asked myself several times as this plan was being hatched. I even asked it aloud at the table in the hopes that the rest of the Cabal would step in to stop this from happening! And to their credit, some of them did point out that this would be a spectacularly bad idea. Sadly they were not listened to.
Apparently Aenaiyah had forgotten that Seers are fanatically devoted to the Exarch they worship, and little things like holding their family members hostage aren’t going to sway them from this devotion. Keep in mind, throughout all of this the Mages have been trying to play the good guys, which has been difficult enough for them to pull off without killing a prisoner. In the eyes of The Great Eye this particular Seer has screwed up on more than one occasion. She picked the wrong Mage to marry… he wound up joining the Consillium… she was captured by the Mages… at this point is she worth giving up all of the things the Mages are asking for? Sure, Blair loves his granddaughter, but he’s also a fanatic. He has faith that if he does not sell out his Exarch, and Sara has been faithful, she will be saved by The Eye. As a result, and completely expectedly, he tells them no. He says that he would be willing to trade Betsy for Sara, since grabbing Betsy had only been a spur of the moment thing anyway. In fact, grabbing her may have been merciful considering as she was wandering around Manhattan crying to everyone she saw that she was in the city alone, with her family across the ocean, looking for her missing sister with the shocking purple hair. Aenaiyah’s Cabal has made enemies in the city, and another Seer group might not have been so kindly toward the girl. They decided to give him “time to think it over”, but it really wasn’t possible that he would have any other answer for them. Ultimately Sara was given back in order to secure Betsy’s release. Sara may have some small neuroses to deal with at this point, but that’s all part of the joy of being Awakened.
At least nobody else in the Consillium knows that the Mages told the Seers all that stuff about Narsil realizing that the “Guardians of the Veil” aren’t so much working for the Consillium anymore…
Disclaimer: “I like to think I’m a pretty nice guy, but Damien… he’s a jerk. He’s a really big jerk, but that’s Damien… the character… not me… I’m the really nice guy who plays a character who’s a total jerk.”
When a brand new player player you’ve never met before joins your game with a disclaimer much like the one above, you have a right to be a tad concerned. Sometimes it isn’t just the character who is a big jerk. Sometimes there is an even bigger jerk hiding behind that character and using that character as an excuse to be… well to be a big jerk.
Damien started the campaign with the reduced Wisdom score of 5 (down from starting Wisdom 7) so that he could buy up a few other things with the points he gained from the lower Morality score. Ordinarily this would be a huge red flag for me, but he sent me his character concept and such and I really liked it. Additionally he was well recommended by other folks who had met him, so since he was starting in the campaign late I decided to let him go for it. Let me tell you, I dodged an extended burst from a machine gun on this one because Damien’s player really is a nice guy, whereas Damien could hide a plethora of jerks behind his jerkiness.
Damien’s back story was a goldmine of GM hooks. He mentioned an ex-wife who he cheated on, a wide array of people who had “allegedly” committed all manner of crime and never been convicted due to his efforts as a sleazy lawyer, the powerful and “well connected” law firm in which he was a rising star in addition to being the senior partner’s (now former) son-in-law, the possibility that there was a significantly powerful Mage keeping an eye on him (he might want to purchase the Mentor merit at some point down the road) who he might be having random flings with in a “don’t call me Damien, I’ll let you know when I’m bored” kind of way until such time as he might purchase that Merit, and someone who tried to kill him by stabbing him in the chest with an odd looking brass knife when he had his Awakening. He wasn’t all scum-bag though. He and his wife divorced when he had his Awakening, and partly because he realized that he had been a total ass-hole to her and her father. He didn’t fight her on the things she wanted in the divorce, and mentioned that it was entirely possible that the relationship could be mended if Damien stopped being a douche-bag and actually tried.
That last bit is why I was a bit surprised by his decision to use his ex-wife as bait when she indicated that she might be in danger. He really was making efforts to have Damien become a better person for a while there, but wound up dropping another morality point along the way (I honestly can’t remember why he lost that point so if one of my players can remind me that would be appreciated) and decided to just give in and embrace his inner bastard.
Still, his player is indeed a nice guy and I thought that when he figured out that she really did love him all along, and really was trying to make him happy, and really didn’t want to see him wind up getting stabbed in the chest but she at least wanted to make sure that whoever did it didn’t wind up killing him “by accident” (did I mention that he’s a big jerk?) I thought he might show some remorse.
And then we got to The Pyramid. Damien arrived with a plan.
Damien decided that if she was going to manipulate him (pretending to be other women for him so he could “cheat on her” and not give him any grief about it, see to it that he had every opportunity to shine at her father’s prestigious law firm maybe tweaking Fate to help pieces of evidence wind up missing or tainted for him if the prosecution just had way too solid of a case, landing him in a sinfully opulent condo in Manhattan, and on and on and on… yeah she really made his life miserable) he would return the favor by planting certain manipulative images in her Oneiros. He goosed up how incredibly awesome and attractive she finds him (because the fact that she had been in love with him since childhood just wasn’t enough) and then did grisly, horrible things to completely freak her out. He controlled not only her mental image of him, but puppeteered one of the Onerios manifestations of some random person who happened to be in The Pyramid into spilling some red wine on the pristine white suit her mental image of him was wearing and then had “himself” scream unmercifully at the man and beat him to a pulp in front of her. After this he soothed her by telling her to relax, he would never have to harm her because she would never be that stupid and careless.
Needless to say she was completely freaked out and intimidated by the time he was done. Of course, this is after he abandoned her in her memory of saving her from some schoolyard bullies that represented the moment she fell in love with him in the first place… leaving Argus to rescue her now. So at this point, she’s feeling comfortable around Argus, and drawn to him in a safe and reassuring way – while still being in love with Damien even though she’s kind of afraid of him now.
If his Wisdom hadn’t already been so low he’d have been sinking like a stone after that session.
Wen they finally did work out the prisoner swap it was a very different young woman who was returned to her Seer family.
Remember kids, the player characters are the good guys!
Of course everyone’s favorite Friendly Neighborhood Mage Cabal couldn’t spend this much time in someone’s head without trying to turn them into a drooling idiot.It’s sort of a specialty of theirs. Wandering around in Damien’s ex-Wife Sara’s head was no exception.
One of the things Damien wanted to know was whether or not Sara had ever loved him. I’ll be honest, it was a question I struggled with myself earlier on when I was putting the whole story line together. Ultimately I thought it would be more interesting if she really did love him, and I think that was the right choice. It’s very easy to play the scheming conniver who was simply using him, but it muddies the waters a bit if she actually loves him.
Or, so one would think.
Damien recently hosted a press conference on behalf of a police detective who had been publicly ranting about Werewolves, and had actually done a great job of convincing people that this was clearly a sign that the police needed more funding, so that they could not only not be so overworked but also get the help they need to deal with the things they have to see at crime scenes and such every day. He absolutely won over the cops at the very least.
How his ex would feel about it was a different matter entirely. Yes, he did a good thing, but his name is now forever associated with Crazy Werewolf Guy, and as his ex-wife she is forever linked to him. What she really wants is to find a way to turn this to her advantage. Of course, she’s also pretty mad at him for attempting to cheat on her a few times (and only failing on a technicality – those women were actually her in Supernal Disguise) and even more so than being angry she’s hurt. She needs to figure out how to play this off. She goes with “What happened to you? You used to have a respectable career, you had the world in your hands? What is going on?” This, rather quickly, degenerated into “you know, everyone knows I’m your wife. They all see you saying this stuff on TV, and I’m the one who has to put up with the snickering and the ‘poor, pathetic, Sara’ looks from everybody! I still live in the same building you know! What do you think my father thinks of all of this? And you aren’t the one who has to put up with it! Tabloids are calling me now! Because of you!”
And yes, he took the bait and asked “tabloids? which tabloids?”
And she pulled the old “I dunno, crazy stuff with weird names like Sad, Sick… somethingorother.”
“Sick Sad World?”
“Yes, I believe that was it: Sick Sad World. What does it matter? I don’t want to be getting calls from tabloids about you!”
Sick Sad World would be the conspiracy rag that was used to tell Aenaiyah that her sister had been taken.
Stupid me, I expected Damien to think he’d have to… I dunno… maybe PROTECT his INNOCENT CIVILIAN EX-WIFE who was only DRAGGED INTO THIS BECAUSE OF HIS ACTIONS.
You know, like a normal person who might feel some sort of remorse. Because up until now he has no idea that she too is a Mage.
Not so Damien. He decides that it might be a great idea to set her up to be bait! He figures that if someone decides to show up to kidnap her they can use that opportunity to find out more about the kidnappers.
So they break into her apartment, and backtrack through her phoneline to find out where the call from “Sick Sad World” came from. On the one hand, I am completely unconvinced that it actually works that way (I declare shenanigans!), but the fact of the matter is that no tabloid called her. Confused by finding no way to traceback a call to “Sick Sad World” Aenaiyah does some Post Cognition to see Sara’s side of her conversation with Damien, and what she was doing before that call. Aenaiyah by this point has oodles of dots of Time Magic so she can watch quite a bit of Sara’s day. She does not get the impression that the phone had been ringing off the hook. When she gets to that part of the day where Sara is about to call Damien she finds that Sara has left a message for her. It goes something like this:
You see Sara pick up the phone. She’s about to dial a number, and then she stops. She looks into space (she is the only person in the room) and says the following: “OK… so… if you’re seeing this then I guess the jig is up. Yes, I can do that trick too.” Sara then proceeds to call Damien and has the conversation she had with him on the phone.
Aenaiyah, being Aenaiyah, freaks right the F%&@ out and tells everyone that they need to leave this apartment NOW!
Damien is sure to use his mind mojo to make sure the dog leaves a present on Mommy’s bed before leaving the apartment. Really mature guy that Damien is.
So I was kind of hoping that he might actually feel guilty about the fact that Sara had always loved him. For the group’s trip into her brain I represented this by something that happened in Damien’s and Sara’s youth in school. Sara’s family has always been ‘religious’ (they believe in an Exarch really, but most people would see it as a religion) and Sara was being picked on for it. Sara firmly believed in her own specialness (young Acanthus that she was) and some of the kids were unkind about it. Damien (or Simon, as he was known back then) told the other kids to leave her alone. More than that, he punched a bully in the face for her, which made the other kids disperse. He instantly became Sara’s hero, and Sara decided to pull any strings necessary to keep them together. Fortunately for her Damien’s family were also Seers, though he himself had not Awakened just yet. His Fate Aura looked promising for an Awakening though, and she convinced her Father to let her choose him. A little tweak of Fate here and there to keep them in the same classes and whatnot, and ultimately Damien and Sara did get married. In reality.
In Sara’s Onerios Damien saw the kids ganging up on her and said “F%&@ her” and walked away.
Argus on the other hand used Forces Magic to fly her out of there, thereby becoming Sara’s new hero!
And then the group got to The Pyramid.
Damien’s actions at The Pyramid can only be described as “disturbing”.
Clearly he earned that low Morality score somewhere along the way.
Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re a Mage. You’ve made a habit of acquiring “rare antiquities” for people, and somewhere along the line you had an Awakening. Your Awakening has granted you Supernal powers over Life and Spirit, and you’ve come to realize that some of the people you were acquiring these antiquities for have the ability to impose their will over the fallen world as well. They call themselves the Silver Ladder, and they welcome you into their midst as one of the chosen leaders of the Awakened Community.
Let’s go on to say that you have been introduced to a Cabal of Mages, and that this Cabal has become friendly with a pack of Werewolves. Furthermore, you have displeased their Guardian of the Veil by pick-pocketing him within moments of finishing introductions. Or was it during introductions? Either way, as a result he has “politely” asked you to step out while the Cabal takes care of some business. Having met their Werewolf friends, and having no other pressing business at that particular moment in time, you decide to go on a little road trip to the Spirit side of the Gauntlet with your new found furry friends and while there you manage to acquire, completely above the boards, some Werewolf fur. Being the entrepreneurial sort you figure this has a street value and contact your retainer. Your retainer, a Sleepwalker who can’t use magic himself but has “somehow or other” recently become aware of it, dutifully lines up a deal for you. You set up an appointment with Dr Blair from Angmar Medical Holdings and meet a distinguished, grandfatherly gentleman who is very concerned that this fur was not ill-gotten, that it is indeed pure Werewolf fur, and if he artfully dodges the question of which Order he is with well, who can blame him? He certainly seems nice enough! And he’s doing important work to attempt to help people avoid the many ravages of time. Who doesn’t want that? He has offered to open up to you the mysteries of the Mind Arcanum, which clearly means that he is an ArchMaster of the Arcanum, but that is certainly no cause for alarm.
You complete the transaction in an afternoon, and leave the building thinking that this is someone you wouldn’t mind doing business with again.
Flash forward to later that very evening: your new Cabal friends (and their Werewolf BFFs) get their asses beat by Sangre Santo. Arrow is one of the last two standing. (Matteous the Werewolf is the other one.) Without any coaching from me whatsoever (honestly, I hadn’t even had time to form the idea in my mind) Arrow suggests that he take everyone to the healthcare facility of this new doctor friend of his.
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?!
This was one of those moments you dream about as a GM. Here is one of the players voluntarily (and completely unwittingly) handing ALL of the players’ characters into the hands of the enemy, while most of them (except himself) are unconscious and near death. Containing my glee at this suggestion was nigh impossible, though in retrospect I think I did a reasonable job of playing it cool. Sadly, Matteous talked him out of this brilliant plan, but I still periodically amuse myself by coming up with ways this could have ended.
So tell me, if you were me, and one of the PCs HAD INDEED handed his entire group into the hands of the Big Bad (who is at the very least an ArchMaster of the Mind Arcanum and possibly others), how would you have abused this situation?
Inquiring minds want to know!
Arrow came to our Cabal through way of RetCon.
Aenaiyah’s player was running a Doctor Who adventure, and Arrow’s player was her Captain Jack Harkness. He was fabulous! We had to assimilate him.
So he dreamed up Arrow. Arrow is a Thyrsus Mage, and when he was initially described to me White Collar’s Neil Caffrey immediately came to mind. Like Neil, Arrow is a lovable miscreant. He isn’t a bad guy really, he just doesn’t let little things like the law stop him from having a good time. In fact, the very first thing he did was pick Argus’ pocket and steal his badge. Now, he didn’t look at Argus’ badge mind you, he just took it because he wanted to prove that he could do it.
And then he wondered why Argus wasn’t sold on the idea of him moving into the Sanctum right away.
So he spent some time hanging with the Werewolves. Being somewhat silver tongued he managed to convince the Werewolves’ Alpha, Aldous, to let him have some Werewolf fur. Arrow then proceeded to contact his retainer and have him post notices that he had some Werewolf fur to sell. This was Arrow’s first session with the group.
Now, as GM, I had to come up with a buyer for this fur. On a whim I decided to Google the word “Angmar”. Go ahead… Google it… I’ll wait…
Did you Google it?
Did you see how 99.999999999% of the entries are about The Witch King of Angmar… aka The Leader of the Nazgul? (Remember kids, my Adamantine Arrow NPCs have a tendency to name themselves after Tolkien weapons.) Did you notice that one other link snuggled in there about a Home Healthcare Facility, acting all warm and fuzzy like?
Folks: WE HAVE A WINNER!
And so Dr. Blair was born. Dr Blair is Arrow’s customer, and he isn’t about to insult Arrow’s intelligence by offering him something gauche like money. Oh no. Dr. Blair offered to teach him the Mind Arcana. Of course, that meant Dr. Blair would wind up with some access to Arrow’s mind, but that’s a small price to pay. Don’t let the fact that his medical company is named after a prominent figure in Saurons’s army bother you. So what if Dr Blair is deftly ducking the question of what Order he belongs to? He’s buying Werewolf fur on the black market he must be on the level!
Seriously though. He runs a healthcare facility. He has devoted his life to caring for the elderly. He’s trying to figure out how it is that Werewolves can heal so rapidly. If he can harness that regenerative power he can really help people!
He can also make an army of Awakened Werewolves to carry out his every whim, but would he do that?
So we’re in the dream space of Damien’s ex-wife, and Arrow is blissfully wandering around naked, and yes I absolutely had him roll against Damien to see who was better endowed. (Damien’s ex would know. Sorry Damien.) The Mages are conversing with that part of Sara’s mind which enjoys telling secrets. Damien is totally going all lawyer on her ass, and since this is a childish part of her she’s having none of it. So then Aenaiyah gives it a shot, and talks to her like a children’s book author (a subject Aenaiyah is familiar with), so she and Sara’s desire to gossip totally hit it off! The conversation goes something like this:
Aenaiyah: So, tell me Sara, do you know who the head of your Seer group is?
Sara: uh-huh! (Shakes head yes vigorously)
Aenaiyah: Good! that’s very good, Sara. (Sara beams with praise.) What do you call the head of your group?
Sara: I call him Grandpa!
:::Aenaiyah shoots a dirty look at Damien, who shrugs as if to say “I didn’t know!” and then turns a smile back to Sara:::
Aenaiyah: You call him Grandpa….
Sara: Uh-huh! (More vigorous nodding)
Aenaiyah: What does everyone else call him?
Sara: Lots of things!
Aenaiyah: Lots of things?
Sara: Yeah, he has lots of names he uses.
Aenaiyah: Is there one particular one he’s using right now?
Aenaiyah: It’s alright, you can tell me. You can whisper it right in my ear.
Sara: (Whispering, but loudly) Dr. Blair
:::Arrow slides down in his seat – I try very hard to not notice this but I really can’t stop myself:::
Aenaiyah: Dr. Blair… that’s good, that’s very good Sara…
:::Aenaiyah notices that Arrow has slid all the way down in his seat and is trying in vain to hide under the table:::
Aenaiyah: ARROW! WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DID YOU GIT DO?!
And that is why Arrow was wearing RED at the Pyramid.