Category Archives: WoD
So the Mages manage to rescue Aenaiyah’s sister from the Fae Wild, and they return Sara to her family of Seers. Everybody wins!
Everybody except Narsil that is. He’s still under oath to the Seers, which isn’t exactly the way he wanted things.
Narsil has family members too, you see. He has a mother and a younger sister, his father having passed away some years ago. Narsil’s family was not well off. They got by, don’t get me wrong, but college isn’t cheap and his sister isn’t THAT much younger than he is. Narsil decided to sign up to be a reservist in order to supplement the scholarship awards he won by being a really smart kid in order to study linguistics with a minor in archaeology. He earned his Masters, and then September 11th happened.
Narsil was called into active duty, and wound up serving with army intelligence deciphering coded transmissions. He was very, very good at his job, and finding that he enjoyed it he earned a position with Special Forces. He was not Awakened at that time.
Glamdring is also with Special Forces. She can kick ass and chew bubblegum without needing to wait until the bubblegum runs out. She is a helicopter pilot and uses her Shadow Name as her call sign. On a trip up into the mountains of Afghanistan one of the soldiers asks what the hell kind of name Glamdring is, earning himself a look of imminent death from the no nonsense red-head in the pilot seat. At this point a certain linguistics expert being brought up the mountain on that very flight points out that it is probably not a good idea to antagonize anyone who chooses to go by the call sign “The Foe Hammer”.
Glamdring had Awakened many years earlier, and not seeing any indications that this man was Awakened (though knowing that she was masking such signs for herself) she simply went back to the controls without killing anyone that day.
The two got along well while they were stationed together, though not knowing much about him or having any way to find out more Glamdring kept a certain distance. She suspected that he was not Awakened because he spoke openly about his relatives back home, but for all she knew he was making it all up. For her part she kept mostly to herself until several months later. Narsil (though he wasn’t using that name at the time) was arguing that they needed to move because somehow or other they had been compromised. It wasn’t what was being said in the messages he intercepted, it was in what wasn’t being said. The chatter had changed in tone, and it felt like they knew that they were being listened to. The man in charge laughed right in his face until the bombs started falling on them. Maybe it was simply luck, maybe it was Fate, maybe it was Glamdring’s Thyrsus abilities to pump up her strength and agility… or some combination of these things… but Glamdring managed to shove her favorite linguistics expert into a supply cave before it was blasted shut. On the one hand, it sucked because they were sealed in and Space Magic had never been Glamdring’s strong suit. On the other hand they had plenty of supplies and she could deal with the air situation without the non-Mage being any the wiser. Hopefully someone from the Arrow would catch wind of what had happened and figure out how to get them both out of there covertly eventually.
Fortunately they didn’t have to wait for that. At some point (hours…? days…?) Narsil Awakened a Mastigos. Mastigos Awakenings tend to be unpleasant, and considering what had just happened to everyone that the group had been stationed with Narsil’s Awakening was no exception* but it did give him access to the Space Arcana. It also gave him access to Glamdring’s memories of a Space ArchMaster’s attempts to teach her to use Portal spells.
These attempts were most certainly not a triumph. There was no success.
There was, however, enough of those lessons buried in her memories for Narsil to figure out how to get them both somewhere safe though. This is how Narsil came to join the Consillium as an Adamantine Arrow. He chose his military nickname as his Shadow Name: Strider.
Strider was an apt pupil, and quickly made a name for himself in the Arrow. He was the ideal person to send along as a bodyguard for Mysterium Mages on relic hunts because he could not only handle the physical demands of the job, he could also decipher languages and knew a bit about archaeology as well. Strider, Glamdring, and a Mystagogue called Reenie made quite the name for themselves besting the Seers to relic after relic, which you might bet would make the Seers quite mad at them. You would win that bet.
A Seer Operative named Morgan who had ties to the military (and the FBI, and various other groups under a variety of names and appearances) figured out who he was. He arranged for Strider’s younger sister to be kidnapped, and then pushed the Guardian’s claim on him. After all, as a member of an intelligence agency the Guardians should have had the Right of First Refusal as per various treaties that kept the Consillium Orders working together instead of at odds. Morgan pointed out what a pity would be if some accident were to befall this poor, innocent young girl. What was Strider to do? The threat was only implied, but clear. He reluctantly joined the Guardians, and in return his sister was given a cushy job in the offices of a medical research facility. It was at this time that he took the name Narsil: the sword that was broken.
The Seers, or rather The Guardians, had been under the impression that they had broken up a swearing in ceremony. They had thought that he was not yet a fully pledged member of the Arrow. (The Arrow do love their pomp and circumstance!) That’s because they didn’t catch sight of what Glamdring was wearing. Morgan didn’t see her because he was talking to Narsil and it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding.
So how do you think Glamdring reacted when she was casually informed by one of the Mages that they told the Seers that they knew that Narsil was compromised and that the Guardians were really the Seers in stealth mode? Do you think she was pleased to find out that this secret knowledge, which they had been using to turn Narsil into a (willing but by necessity unknowing) triple agent was now formerly secret? Did she leap for joy at the thought that The Seers could now use his sister as leverage to force him to take overt action against the Consilium since the jig was up anyway?
That’s OK though. I mean, Narsil seems like a nice enough guy and all, but if we have to kill him so be it.
*If you’re all very good I’ll post Narsil’s Awakening here next week.
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…
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.
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.
As it happens I only coughed up one lung last week, which is fortunate because I only have one spare!
So we’re wandering around in Damien’s ex-wife’s dreamstate… and of course our Thyrsus Mage Arrow is naked. Nothing at all awkward about that!
Among the questions that Damien wants answers to is precisely who is working for the Seers of the Throne. Now his ex, true name Sara, isn’t all that high ranking as of yet. Her grandfather is pretty much at the top of the food chain in NY, but she’s still fairly young and hasn’t earned her rank just yet. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a pretty powerful Acanthus with some sneaky tricks up her sleeves, but these things take time. As such, she doesn’t always know who everyone is, or what all of the Seers plans are at any given time. She has seen a bunch of people however, and her brain is collecting its impressions of those people in a setting rife with symbolism.
Because honestly, where else would the Seers of Panopticon hang out? Am I right?
As a side note, when I was writing this campaign I came up with a bunch of NPCs named after weapons from the Lord of the Rings. (Narsil, Glamdring, Guthwine, Orcrist, etc, etc). I did not yet have the Seers of the Throne book, and as such had not chosen the Seers of Panopticon as the main adversaries of the Consilium in NY. It was completely random chance that the Seers in my campaign are represented by an all seeing eye… much like some other main adversary we all know and love…
Apparently I just can’t be not awesome.
In any event… the Mages are wandering through Sara’s Oneiros looking for clues as to who in the Consilium might be a Seer spy, or simply be being used by the Seers unbeknownst to them. They have as their guide (in one of the smartest moves my players have ever made <~ Truth) the part of Sara’s psyche that likes to tell secrets. This was a move I hadn’t specifically planned on, and so I had to come up with how this part of Sara would manifest itself to them. I decided it would manifest itself as a child, because we all know that when kids have secrets they LOVE to tell them to everyone. There will be more on this in my next post (NO SPOILERS ARROW!), but for now simply understand that the Mages are wandering around Sara’s dreamspace with a part of her that really, really, really wants to tell them everything they want to know if she can – and especially if she shouldn’t tell them about it!
And at her side they walk up to this enormous Pyramid with an eyeball floating above it. Sara tells them that if they want to find out who the Seers are they have to go inside. She doesn’t know all of their names, but if she’s seen a face and they are somehow working for the Seers they will be here.
It’s a crowded pyramid.
So for their next trick the players have to figure out who is working for the Seers without realizing it (Sleepers in their employ would have no idea what is going on); who may be being coerced into doing things for the Seers without knowing for certain that it’s the Seers pulling the strings (for example, if someone’s sister has been kidnapped and made the subject of the Bad Stuff that will result from a broken Geas); or who may be very happily bowing and scraping before the Exarch. There are a lot of people in this pyramid, and trying to talk to all of them would take a great deal of time. This is where the next Smartest Thing The Players Have Done Ever comes in!
Aenaiyah turns to young Sara and asks her if she knows who is working for the Seers because they want to, who is working for the Seers because they have to, and who doesn’t know that they are working for the Seers at all. Sara says she can’t be sure, but she can make some guesses. Aenaiyah says that would be swell, and then asks Sara to color code the clothing of everyone in The Pyramid as follows:
- RED = Willing Seer Supplicant Mage
- ORANGE = Unwilling Seer Pawn who is Aware of being manipulated by Seers
- YELLOW = Unwilling Seer Pawn who is Unaware of being manipulated by Seers
- BLUE = Not Working For The Seers At All
And suddenly the clothing of everyone in The Pyramid, including the Player Characters, becomes color coded to indicate their status as far as Sara is herself aware of it!
Aenaiyah makes careful note of her own Cabal Mates who are standing where she can see them. Herself, Neils, Rex, Riff-Raff, and (much to Sara’s dismay) Damien are all wearing BLUE.
At about this point Argus walks over and asks “does anyone know why my clothes just turned Yellow?” Aenaiyah explains the color scheme, and tells him that his YELLOW clothing means that he is an unwitting pawn of the Seers. He replies “Well, then shouldn’t my clothes be ORANGE now?” Sara exclaims “GOOD POINT!” and Argus’s clothing turns a lovely shade of ORANGE.
Various of the characters wander around looking for people in The Pyramid to interact with. Riff-Raff has a very interesting conversation with Sara’s mental image of her grandfather, who explains to him why it would be a very bad thing indeed for all of humankind to Awaken. “Can you imagine what would really happen should that come to pass? Why, should that much raw power be handed to every individual on Earth the world would surely be ripped apart by the resultant clashing of wills. Humanity is ill prepared to handle the magnitude of even a small fragment of what we can do. It would be chaos, and ultimately annihilation. The Lie is all that stands between us and the Abyss. Surely you must see that?”
He actually makes an extremely convincing argument.
And then we get to Arrow, who has indeed dressed for his trip to The Pyramid, and his clothes turned a lovely shade of…
…To Be Continued…