Category Archives: Gaming

Morgan’s Happy Place


If you read last week’s post (Scientists: 1 / Minotaur: 0) you know why Neils is my favorite Mage. His player is always a good sport about having to stab his fellow PCs in the back, and between you and me I’m pretty sure he enjoys it almost as much as I do.

His fellow PCs enjoy it a bit less than that, so when we last left off Damien was bitch-slapping Neils in the real world to wake him up and drag him out of astral space. (And also because it was fun.)

Fortunately I had already come up with a nifty way to keep the players together even if some folks had missed a previous session or they had taken Astral Damage (Willpower drains) and wound up knocked out of the realm. I didn’t want to leave anyone in the unenviable position of being removed from the action for an entire session or more, so I gave them an artifact called the Rings of Astral Unity. (Note: this artifact actually exists in the Astral Realms book.) It’s the kind of thing it makes sense for the Consilium to have, especially since one of the members of their star relic acquisitions team is a Mastigos. There are a lot of stats involved which I won’t post here because you should visit your Friendly Local Game Store and buy the book! In essence, there are twelve rings which help to bind twelve characters’ Astral Selves together. If you are wearing one of the rings in the physical world, and someone else is wearing one of the rings in the physical world, you will be able to home in on each other in Astral Space. So miraculously, just in time for the next session to begin (the bitch-slapping was the closing scene of the previous session), the characters that have been knocked out of Astral Space can start recouping some Will Power (they are in the Consilium stronghold so there are options available to them) and join those who are still there. This is a fortunate thing because not everyone was able to make the next session, and those who could were largely those who had been knocked out of Morgan’s Oneiros.

Aenaiyah managed to stay in Morgan’s Oneiros because she wasn’t directly involved in the fight going on in the observation deck. Thinking quickly, she tells Morgan’s True Self that this is HIS MIND DAMMIT and as such he can impose his will over it. He shrugs in his best “that’s lovely, but I have no idea what to do” way, and Aenaiyah forces herself to calmly ask him to think about his happy place. This was an excellent plan! It takes him a few beats because he hasn’t been very happy just lately (there were some RESOLVE+COMPOSURE rolls involved), but when he really thinks about it he realizes that he was happiest in the time shortly before his father died: when he, his Mom, and his Dad would go for picnics at the lake.

Fade To: Family Picnic at the Lake!

There are a whole bunch of kids and families around. There is a tire swing positioned just perfectly to get a good swinging leap into the water. There is a dock that kids are also using to jump into the water, and loads of running, splashing kids with their sandwich chomping parents. This is a place just filled with happy little trees. Good times!

I don’t quite remember the exact particulars of what came next. (Aenaiyah: feel free to fill us in with a comment.) I remember Aenaiyah wanting to visit the time when Morgan was in the service, thinking that this would be a good idea because he would be strongest then because he had gotten away from the abusive situation and was a soldier. I remember consulting my notes and knowing in that black hole where my heart should be that this was the worst idea possible because the time period she had chosen was smack in the midst of his being experimented on, and thus actually being his weakest state, and laughing a bit inside. I remember Aenaiyah casting a time spell to look at all of the times that Morgan had spent at the Lake overlapping each other – though for the life of me I can’t remember what the goal was. I do remember that whatever it was had been a good idea, but that it left her with a horrible timey-wimey headache. I had decided that such a spell would cause an effect like the WORST LAG EVER in World of Warcraft – characters doubling up and moving in a glitchy “mouse-trail” fashion, sounds being overlaid an insane number of times, and all sorts of other strangeness. It was a lot of fun to describe, and I really wish I could remember why she had done it because, like I said, it had been a really good idea! (And this group doesn’t have those very often!)

It was at this point that the other Cabal Mages arrived, and were… confused. They had a hard time finding Aenaiyah and Morgan in the chaos, but eventually Aenaiyah got everything sorted and the group had a discussion. They decided that with Morgan’s True Self now freed from the drugged stupor, it was time to put him back in charge. To do that they would need to break into the fortress from whence Morgan’s Alter-Ego was ruling his mind.

This would ultimately be the final battle of the storyline. I wanted it to be epic. I wanted it to be memorable. I wanted to SUCK THEIR WILLS TO LIVE!

I didn’t quite get everything I wanted that day, but I think I did manage to make it memorable… and maybe just a bit epic. As always, the only will to live that got sucked that day was my own.

Tune in next week for the Exciting* Conclusion**!

Mages Make Me Cry

*Opinions may vary
**Until the “next book” starts. Coming Soon[tm]! 

Scientists: 1 / Minotaur: 0


You may have noticed that I am a fan of making the Player Characters fight each other. There are several reasons for this, first and foremost being that the Player Characters in Mage are tremendously overpowered. Or maybe the fact that if the PCs are fighting each other I don’t have to stat any bad guys comes first. It’s pretty much a photo finish. I mean, take last week’s Minotaur for example. I spent all kinds of time tweaking his stats to make sure that he had a good chance of hurting those pesky PCs while at the same time not being likely to one-shot kill them. (Slow death is always more fun.) I give him a solid range of interesting powers that make sense to his concept, and how does he repay me? NOT ONE SINGLE SUCCESS!

So the Mages manage to make their way into Morgan’s Oneiros. Now it’s true that I wanted them to get there, because if they didn’t I did all that planning for nothing, but they should have been beaten up a bit when they got there.  Instead they roll outta that morgue drawer fresh as daisies*!

And why wouldn’t they roll out of a morgue drawer? One of the defining moments of Morgan’s life was the death of his father. Furthermore, I really want to send these jerks a message that I want them dead. So yeah, morgue drawer. In fact, when the Mages were using Matter Magic to scan around the labyrinth I had them pick up the presence of some pockets where the dirt around them was missing… regularly spaced pockets that are roughly 6 feet long by 3 feet deep by 3 feet wide.

But I digress.

As they pile out of the morgue drawer Damien attempts to summon one of Morgan’s Daimons and fails miserably. This failure will come into play shortly.

What they enter is a corridor with a very military feel to it – think Stargate SG-1:

Many Thanks to RDAnderson.com for the SG-1 Set Pictures!!

Very grey, but with colored lines on the floor that can help you to not get lost if you happen to know which colors lead where. Fate magic leads the troupe down the blue line to a room filled with a bunch of scientists. Exactly Neils’ kinda place! There are all manner of dials, and flashy lights, and buttons to push – FUN! There are also loads of guys in lab coats. As always, Aenaiyah casts Perfect Moment and then brashly runs in to ask for status updates and such. Riff-Raff and Argus cover the door. Argus is naturally invisible. Neils starts looking over a scientist’s shoulder and acting like he should be there. Damien, Arrow, and Rex move toward the observation window.

Aenaiyah finds out that the patient is fully under, and that his vital signs are stable. She insists on heading in to check on him physically to make sure everything is in place. That Perfect Moment spell she cast earlier lets her get away with this. She heads down the spiral staircase into the operating theater.

Damien, Arrow, and Rex look through the window to see a man who looks suspiciously like the Morgan they saw at the zombie house lying strapped to an adjustable medical gurney with a bunch of IV lines sticking out of each arm, each hooked up to a large IV bag. A woman is sitting next to him, holding his hand, and saying soothing things like “Rest dear, you’re safe now. It’s OK, you just need to get some rest. It will all be better when you wake up.” Damien and Arrow covertly start casting buff spells on the sleeper to make him resistant to the drugs (Arrow) and to increase his mental alertness (Damien). Rex is holding an action in case Aenaiyah winds up needing some help. None of them has done anything that would alert the scientists that anything is amiss, so no one is paying any attention to them.

And then Neils goes to touch a dial. And the scientist who is manning that panel realizes he shouldn’t be there and stabs him with a needle.

Roll for initiative!

The scientist has a surprise round on Neils because he plays it cool and doesn’t start yelling or anything. He simply acts like he’s going to tell Neils what something does and then injects him full of a mind altering drug. I ❤ Neils.

The other characters do not know that Neils has been drugged, and go about their business. Aenaiyah is talking with the woman sitting next to Morgan’s true self and discovers that this woman is his mother. (or, to be more precise, his concept of his mother. Which is to say, she is his negative Daimon of Complacency – as per my previous post.) Aenaiyah, thinking “Oh! Damien tried to summon Morgan’s Daimon to help us before, this must be her!” engages her in conversation, which leaves her feeling very soothed and calm indeed.

Despite the fact that all hell has not quite broken loose yet, Riff-Raff pulls his gun and tells everyone to stay where they are.

The scientists, on their respective rounds, listen to the gun-toting maniac and stay where they are.

When we get to Neils’ round he rolls a reflexive RESOLVE + STAMINA save versus the drug, and Neils being the favorite absolutely fails to save versus PC-on-PC action. As such, I describe to him what he sees:

You see colors swirling all around you. You have an extreme sense of clarity of purpose. There are three people standing by the observation window who really shouldn’t be there. Additionally, there is a crazy person standing in the doorway waving a gun in people’s faces.

And Neils’ strikes the gun wielding psycho with magic lightning.

As Neils attacks Riff-Raff (the gun wielding psycho) one of the doctors who has a held action makes a break for it and runs into the hallway. His goal is to pull an alarm and get some backup down here! Sadly, Argus was quicker (and invisible) and tackled him before he could get to the alarm. The doctor was caught completely off-guard (no defense) and can’t actually see Argus to stab him with psychotropic drugs.

Riff-Raff crumples to the ground with multiple points of aggravated damage from Neils’ vicious attack. (I love that guy!)

Aenaiyah needs to roll some RESOLVE+COMPOSURE to shake off the soothing effects of Morgan’s mother. (Thanks Damien!) She somehow manages (fiesty wench) and starts pulling IV needles out of Morgan’s arm, much to mother’s distress. Mother has no physical prowess whatsoever, but does continue to work her manipulative abilities on Aenaiyah to convince her that Morgan needs these medicines to get better and that she’s hurting him by ripping the needles out of his arm, and his arms are indeed bleeding because she isn’t being all that gentle about it.

Damien is continuing his attempts to use Mind Magic to wake Morgan up, and now he can very definitely feel the presence of another mind here working against him from outside.

For the record kids: this is why we shouldn’t tell the bad guys when their best operative might start working against them!

The scientists (who are really mental constructs themselves) are attempting to re-stabilize Morgan’s drug induced sleep while Neils continues to roast Riff-Raff with some sweet, sweet lightning. Argus continues to grapple with the doctor in the hall (who is in turn trying to stab him with psychotropic drugs) so that reinforcements don’t get called.

Neils has just blasted Riff-Raff into unconsciousness (and right out of Morgan’s Onerios). Arrow took his round to scoot downstairs to help Aenaiyah with Morgan (he is trying to purge the drugs from Morgan’s system), which leaves Neils with one target in the room: Damien! Neils Mage Lightnings Damien, who is getting way too close to waking up Morgan because the GM can’t roll for SH*T this session. Damien hangs on and attempts to help waking Morgan. Argus bests the doctor in the hall and goes in to find out what the hell is going on in the other room. Aenaiyah continues to rip needles out of Morgan’s arm while Arrow heals up the bleeding wounds. Scientists are unconscious. Morgan’s poor old Mom is begging Aenaiyah to stop hurting her son! Damien is struggling Braino-a-Braino with his ex-wife’s grandfather in a tug-of-war over Morgan’s mind!

And then Neils zaps Damien with Mage Lightning just before Damien can wake Morgan up! (GO NEILS GO! GO NEILS GO!)

Aenaiyah rips the final needles out of Morgan’s arms and he begins to wake, while Arrow makes his mother fall asleep using Life Magic.

Argus is about to shoot Neils in the face when Neils disappears without warning. In the waking world Damien has just full on bitch slapped Neils’ body so that he will be dragged out of Morgan’s Oneiros too. (And also because he was really pissed at Neils.)

To Be Continued…

Mages Make Me Cry

*Daisies… Morgue Drawer… yeah, I went there.

We’re Off To Free the Wizard!


The Mages have stumbled upon a powerful Seer operative who has a hidden, subjugated personality. This personality is not entirely happy with the things he has witnessed himself doing as a Seer. This personality could be a great help to the Player Characters with little things like freeing people from the oaths that they made to the “Guardians of the Veil” who were really Seers in disguise. After a little heavy-handed arm twisting they have finally decided that freeing this personality might be a good idea.

Well, most of them decided that. Others are not entirely convinced, but they’re all going anyway dammit!

Sadly for them they decided to let slip to the Seers that their star operative hidden in the Consillium is losing control of his inner Mage. Naturally this means that the Seers, headed by the Arch Master Mastigos who was directly told of the potential containment breach, devoted some energies to improving security around this guy’s psyche. Go Team Mages!

The Bridge:

First the Mages have to find a way in to Morgan’s Oneiros. This won’t be incredibly easy as they haven’t invested a great deal of time in getting to know him well. In fairness, his dominant personality has been kind of a douchebag. He did lock them in a house filled with a horde of acid-vomiting zombies, a whirling silver chandelier of death, a flame-throwing stove, staircases that turn into slides that dump you into pits of even more acid-vomiting zombies, and other assorted fun.

Morgan knows how to throw a party.

There is one thing that they do know about Morgan for certain though – Morgan is the one who brought Narsil into the Guardians, and as it happens the Consillium Library’s Chief Relic-Hunter, Reenie, was there when it happened. That she was there brings this particular moment in time into the Temenos, a shared piece of Astral Space where memories held by more than one person exist, and makes her a bridge to that moment’s place in the Temenos. If the Mages can get there they might be able to use it as a  bridge into Morgan’s own dream space. It’s a risk, but it’s one they will have to take.

The Bridge Memory happened just before Narsil and Glamdring’s Wedding was supposed to happen. Glamdring was busy getting ready to walk down the aisle when Reenie just happened to wander into the hallway in time to hear raised voices in the groom’s room. Curious to know what was going on, Reenie stayed in the hallway and saw Narsil leaving with a black-robed Guardian of the Veil. Narsil did not look pleased. The black-robed guardian was Morgan. This is the point where the Mages can jump into his Oneiros, if only they can figure out how to do it.

I pictured it happening in much the same way as Sally possessing someone in the US version of Being Human. (Sadly, I am woefully behind with the UK version.) For those who haven’t seen it (like my Players, as it turned out):

http://www.syfy.com/videos/Being%20Human/Clips/Season%202/vid:17763682

I figured they would worm their way in through his back just the way it happens at about the 35 second mark. Since they hadn’t seen it it took them a few tries to figure it out, but ultimately figure it out they did and away they went!

The Labyrinth:

Anticipating a potential problem with his operative, Dr Blair (aka Brahms, aka Head of the NYC Seers of Panopticon), constructed a Labyrinth at the edges of the man’s Oneiros. And what Labyrinth is complete without a Minotaur I ask you? And so the players need to make their way through the Labyrinth into the main part of Morgan’s psyche. In game mechanics terms, they had to hit a target number of successes to find their way out by whatever means they could come up with that would make sense to the situation. Fate could have them happen to turn the right way, Matter could take “walls” out of their way, Prime could give them a line on the floor to follow, Space could help them keep their bearings, etc, etc. Successes would accumulate over multiple rolls, and botch rolls would reduce the number of successes they had already accumulated. Along the way there are pit traps filled with punji sticks, tentacles reaching out of the walls to grab them, nasties crawling along the floor, and the heavy breathing of the Minotaur.

I built the Minotaur to be impressive. He had massive, sharpened, blood-stained horns on his head and a vicious ramming attack that gave him oodles of dice to beat them with! He also had a massive hammer that he could whomp down on their heads. His hide was thick enough to give him some natural armor points, backing up a large number of hit points. His roar could induce fear en masse!

And yet, every time his initiative came up that stupid SOB would F@%$ing whiff! He didn’t do A SINGLE POINT OF ACTUAL DAMAGE TO THESE JERKS!

 

The GM was not pleased.

 

That’s the last time I bring in a Minotaur to do a mind-altering drug’s job.

Mages Make Me Cry

Well, That Happened


MageMistress is a sad puppy this week. Just when I thought that things would settle back into a normal routine and I could start scheduling game sessions again I got the bad news.

My beloved Friendly Local Game Store is closing.

Ravenblood Games is one of a kind. It’s spacious, and clean, and filled with great people who just want to hang out with other great people and play some games. RPGs, board games, CCGs, miniature warfare, deck-building games – chances are if it’s a game then someone at Ravenblood Games would be willing to give a try. (if they weren’t already enthusiastically familiar with it)

If you’re in the Long Island Area and you want to see what a game store can be, what it should be, then head over to Ravenblood Games before it’s too late. You have until Memorial Day weekend, and then it will be gone forever.

Mages Make Me Cry

I Love My Friendly Local Game Store


So…it seems that the World of Darkness will no longer be available in my Friendly Local Game Store. This saddens me tremendously.

On the one hand – I get it. The production of print books isn’t cheap. Shipping them around the country isn’t cheap either. I get it – I do.

And yet, I had no idea that there even WAS a new World of Darkness until I walked into my Friendly Local game Store (FLGS) some years ago. That’s where I purchase my books. That’s where I ran my very first game. It’s where I run my campaign. It’s where I met the people I game with, all of whom have become very good friends of mine over the years. I have spent hundreds of dollars on World of Darkness books, and the players at my table have snapped them up too. I have run World of Darkness at local conventions, and people have come up to me afterward (at future conventions) and mentioned that they have their own campaigns going now because they had so much fun at my table. It’s what I talk about on Twitter, and the inspiration for this blog. If those books hadn’t been on the shelves at my favorite place I would never have known they existed. I wouldn’t have spent my money on them, my players wouldn’t have spent their money on them, and they wouldn’t have been able to tell other people just how much fun they have playing in this system. Without my FLGS none of that would have been possible.

Now, my understanding is that retailers can get the books – but there’s a catch. The books will wind up costing the retailer more than the cover price. So if my FLGS wants to have World of Darkness books on the shelves they have to lose money on every single book. Alternatively, I suppose they could charge more than the cover price for each book but that’s kind of ridiculous isn’t it?

The whole thing makes me sad.

In the end my loyalty has to go to my Friendly Local Game Store. Will I continue to run my campaign in the World of Darkness? I imagine so, for a while at least. After all, we did buy the books and it is fun. Will I continue to write one-off modules to run at game conventions in the World of Darkness? Not so much. Part of why I run one shot adventures is to support my FLGS. What that store has given me goes beyond the books and dice and GM screens and assorted gaming paraphernalia that I’ve purchased there. That store introduced me to some great people, has provided me with countless hours of fun, and I’ve walked out the door after each session with great stories to tell. If I can help to bring a new customer through the door that’s my way of paying for all those priceless, intangible things the store has given me free of charge. So I’ll be looking for a new game system for my one-shot adventures, and I know just where I’ll find it: on the shelves at my Friendly Local Game Store.

Mages Make Me Cry

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