Category Archives: Werewolf Forsaken
One of the harder things to deal with as a GM is when your players decide that something you made up on the spot as a means of dealing with some ridiculous thing that they came up with for reasons you’ll never know is in fact the whole point of the campaign.
For example, the Werewolves decided that if they were up against a Promethean they needed to know something about Prometheans. OK, that makes sense. They also decided that they needed to summon an information spirit to find out about Prometheans. OK… the GM covers that. Fortunately their GM is well versed in the Promethean game! Now they need a Gargoyle… well it’s New York City and there are Gargoyles on some of the buildings (and in some of the museums) so that will have to happen. So they show up to fight the Promethean with a Gargoyle and this pleases the Promethean not at all and so he needs a plan. This being NY he grabs the nearest homeless person to make the Gargoyle turn to stone with but a glance. Fine… if only it ended there.
Apparently the whole point of this campaign has now become finding out why this man is homeless, and how they can get his life back on track.
THERE IS A CRAZY MAGE-MAN MULTIPLE-MURDERING (RELATIVELY) SANE MAGES LOOSE IN THE CITY AND YOU WANT TO PLAY HAPPY HOMEMAKER FOR SOME HOMELESS GUY YOUR GM MADE UP IN THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT?
YOU HAVE EVIDENCE THAT A HIGH-RANKING MEMBER OF THE CONSILIUM MAY BE BEHIND THESE MURDERS AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN THINK OF TO DO IS RP OUT TAKING A DRUNK TO A DINER FOR COFFEE AND PIE?!
So the Werewolf GM gives them what they ask for. (This is entirely his fault so I’m not dealing with it.) They take this guy to a public place to talk to him about his problems. Apparently his problems will soon involve waving a gun around in the middle of a crowded diner in Mid-Town Manhattan. As you might predict, this is about to become a problem for a certain group of Werewolves… and Mages. This will ultimately be the kind of problem that leads to a press conference, and I’m sure you can guess how much the Guardians of the Veil LOVE IT when Mages hold press conferences!
Oh yeah… they just love that all to pieces, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The visions haven’t even started yet!
Meanwhile, back at the hall of Werewolves…
Trouble is brewing in the city. Isn’t it always? Rumor has it that the person behind Sick, Sad World has been murdered in his home. The Werewolves went to investigate and found… a human eyeball in a jar. They found out, the hard way of course, that this eyeball was part of a Promethean. The hard way involved the eyeball using its retina to unscrew the lid of the jar from inside, scramble out of the jar, and open all the gas jets on their stove.
The Werewolves’ GM is a sick twisted jerk, which is why we get along so well.
With their lair nearly blown up in a massive gas explosion, the Werewolves were in need of a place to crash. Argus, our Guardian of the Veil, was (understandably, in my opinion) less than eager to have the Werewolves crash at their Sanctum. The Werewolves are, after all, possibly being chased by a Promethean of unknown origin and power. I can understand how that’s a matter of some concern. As a result the Mages cast a time bubble at a certain abandoned monastery so the Werewolves can get a bunch of sleep in a very short time, after which Argus keeps an invisible eye on them to make sure they don’t wind up in over their heads.
Which, naturally enough, they do.
It is at precisely the point when Argus creates a gravity well the size of a football field centered on the Promethean practically pinning it to the ground (did I mention that it had just kicked the crap out of a party of Werewolves?) that the Werewolf GM realized what I am up against. In the decades of GMing I have seen him do I have never seen him speechless as a GM before that moment. Keep in mind: this is the kind of horse-puckey I put up with every session.
Damn You WordPress Formatting!
You make me use garbage text!
I facepalm at you!
The Werewolves had been smart enough to track down a gargoyle to help them fight the Promethean and the Promethean was still kicking their asses! You see, the Promethean countered by grabbing a homeless man and forcing him to look at the Gargoyle causing said Gargoyle to turn to stone. (The Werewolf GM rolled a WITS+COMP for the Promethean to see if it could spot a likely candidate nearby. Since our setting is the World of Darkness version of New York City it succeeded!) This left the collective group of players with an important decision to make two rounds after the Mages showed up and slaughtered the poor monstrosity without breaking a sweat: what do we do with this homeless guy? Argus argued in favor of leaving him be on the street with a bottle of his favorite beverage to compensate him for his time. This is not a terrible plan as far as the Guardians are concerned since he isn’t really a reliable source in any case and the Consilium has bigger issues to worry about. It isn’t an awesome plan since he is aware of the Supernatural and who knows what ill may come of this, but it isn’t a terrible plan. The Werewolf Alpha Female takes issue with this plan however. She wants to help this man. She thinks they need to find out why he is on the street. She feels like maybe they can help him.
As GMs it is our solemn duty to make her regret that decision.
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:
- The Werewolves had never met Marissa, and had no idea that the Mage’s knew this child.
- 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.
- Marissa did cast several spells asking Fate for something interesting to happen during the last session she attended. Challenge accepted!
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.
As one of my Mages correctly pointed out last week (everyone say ‘Hi Neils!’) I ended the previous game session on a pretty tense note. Everyone saw (through their varying Mage and Werewolf sight abilities) that things were about to get real. There was a heavy weight of Death shrouding the city, the Spirits were fleeing the area as best they could, Fate was all a flutter, Time was both wibbley AND wobbley, big happy bursts of Prime were glowing all over the height of the New Year’s festivities, and it was likely to be a hot time in the old town tonight! To Be Continued…
…but wait… there’s more!
Before leaving the Werewolf Alpha, Aldous, wanted to monologue. I have to give credit where it is due and say that he was F&@# Brilliant! He could easily have waited to open the next session with a rousing speech to give himself some time to prepare, but he shot from the hip and even I was inspired to stop the evil from happening!
Don’t worry, I got over it before the next session started.
First things first: The Mages have to get from Liberty Island (where the Statue of Liberty is) to Manhattan Island (where all the evil is going to take place). It’s getting pretty close to midnight, so there are no ferries now. There are a few security guards that they will have to hide from or deal with though. The Thyrsus, Nokoni, yells “CAW!” transforms into a large bird and flies toward Times Square, leaving his friends stranded.
Neils, one of our Obrimos Mages, whips a small raft out of thin air. He doesn’t roll as well as he could have, so he casts again and they lash the two things together with belts that the Moros Mage turns into rope. The Werewolves, being showoffs, act as onboard engines: they swim and push the rafts that carry the Mages.
The Fate Mage casts some hoodoo to keep the security guards from wandering near enough to see all these Paradoxalicious goings-on.
The Guardian of the Veil Facepalms, but makes no effort to stop any of this. Good job!
The paradox dice fail me again. (I know you’re as stunned as I am.)
As the Scooby Gang floats across from Liberty Island to Manhattan Island the Bloody Acanthus starts casting Acceleration on people to get them there faster. They are going to be reaching Manhattan at a point that is not exactly close to Times Square (near the center of Manhattan for those who are unfamiliar) no matter how they cut it, so they are going to need speed on their side.
Everyone is now moving at Ludicrous Speed!
For once the Paradox Dice don’t fail me and Aenaiyah winds up taking a few bashing damage. I believe those dice hate the Acanthus as much as I do, which is why I haven’t smashed them to bits yet. For the record, it is at about this time that I realize that Paradox really needs a stronger bite, and let’s face it a stronger bark wouldn’t hurt either, because with all this crazy vulgar stuff going on I think I managed to stub Aenaiyah’s toe, and maybe break one of her nails.
And so the Supersonic Werewolves run through the streets of Manhattan at about Mach 10 carrying the Mages on their backs. One of those Mages is furiously waving her hands casting fate spells to keep people out of their way. Yes, she took negatives and had to make RESOLVE+COMPOSURE rolls to cast under those circumstances. Of course, this being New Year’s Eve most eyes were in Times Square and so they really didn’t have any problems until they got near that area. This was an easy explanation for her dratted successes.
When they were close enough (and still out of site of people… damned Fate Magic) our Guardian created a Portal to get them to the top of a building. He did this because, you know, he’s a Guardian and that isn’t Vulgar at all. (Note: Space is his third Arcana. There was no Mastigos Mage present at this session.) I believe he took a bashing for that one… so there! Nokoni had already done a fly by (CAW!), and they met to discuss what he had seen.
What he saw on that rooftop was a surprise to all of them. The group of Arch-Mages was to be expected under the circumstances. The ritual circles, arcane chanting, and general feeling of dread were likely accompaniments.
The young child standing in the center of the ritual circle… that they didn’t expect. Sacrifices are not unusual components for these sorts of gatherings, and you pretty much do have to make them younger and younger every year to meet all the purity and innocence requirements.
What was shocking was that they knew this girl.
This girl had been living at their house since the day they rescued her.
This girl was one of theirs.
This girl was the Acanthus Child, Marissa.
Scaling battles is one of the most difficult parts of GMing World of Darkness. At least, it is for me. In a “leveled” game system you can gauge the challenge by the level of the characters in the group and the number of characters in the group. In “World of Darkness” I have no such luck. Yes, I can (and do) take into account the number of experience points I have handed out up until the session with the fight, but those XPs don’t always get spent on things that will help the characters in combat. This is only compounded by the way that dice pools work in WoD. I have way too many times seen someone with a 10+ dice pool roll zero successes, or even a botch. Now, technically you can only roll a “botch” (aka: dramatic failure) with a chance die, but I have always felt (and my players tend to agree) that botches are part of the fun as long as the GM doesn’t go overboard with them.
On the other hand, I have seen the exact opposite on at least as many occasions. I can’t count for you the number of times I have seen someone have 2 dice and get three or more successes due to roll-ups. It becomes difficult as a GM to have any feel for how a combat will go. This only becomes more difficult to estimate when you’re dealing with a mixed group of Werewolves, which are built for combat, and Mages, which are built to make me weep. I thought that a Mythical Beast with multiple heads that was so large it caused earthquakes by walking around would be a bit of a challenge. (Note: the Mages had jumped through a portal and were not in Kansas anymore at the time.) Instead I wound up with monstrosities with 16+ Dice Pools, Supernal Luck (8 again), and Force fields protecting them as they ripped poor Cerberus to shreds in the first round of combat.
1) In the World of Darkness it is always, always, always preferable to have your players squaring off against a group of baddies rather than one Big Bad. Yes, Cerberus (if that’s what the creature truly was) made an impressive entrance. The problem is that when you are facing off against multiple attacks per round your defense decreases by one for each attacker. When you have some purple-haired person who shall remain nameless casting Acceleration on her combat-monster buddies so that they can kill things at ludicrous speed your Big Bad will be a Big Bloodsplat before everyone even has a chance to get a shot in. On the other hand… fill a house with acid-vomiting zombies and the players will start hosing each other down with cleansing fire in an attempt to escape the building.
2) Pit the Player Characters against each other. This is a tried and true method for making your life as a GM much more fun and easy! Not only are you dealing with less attackers on each side because you have split the group, if they kill each other’s characters they’ll whine at each other and not you! You just get to sit back, relax, and gloat.
3) When your friends ask you if you’ll run Mage… YOU SAY NO!