Category Archives: WtF
As Arrow’s player correctly pointed out on last week’s post:
You forgot my crowning achievement of the session. When the Thyrsus magically jacked up his strength, berserker rushed a Pure, completely botched to hit, kept running, aced his Stealth (crowds) roll, deftly maneuvered through the tear gassed people, quietly sat down in the police office lobby and said “Hi Damien” as though nothing had happened.
And you thought I was lying when I said that actually breaking Brewer out of prison was the easy part!
Inside of the station was a model of efficiency, which is even more incredible when you realize that Aenaiyah was just making shit up as she went along in there. That’s the part that went well. Go fig.
Outside in the middle of the street outside of the precinct we have Forsaken Werewolf on Pure Werewolf action, tear gassed pedestrians, and ordinary folks just trying not to lose their minds. Is it any wonder my mind is desperately attempting to repress these memories of carnage? I seem to recall a grenade (the explodey kind, not the tear gas kind) turning up at some point, and a standoff between armed police officers and insane Werewolves. That may have been the point when the Hunters turned up.
That’s right, there were Hunters around. And why wouldn’t there be? They too had an interest in Brewer. He was talking openly and honestly about having tracked a bunch of Werewolves after all. Any group of Hunters could use a guy like that. Somewhere in the midst of the fracas our new Werewolf brothers wound up with a beaten senseless Hunter on their hands, and instead of either killing him at the scene, or leaving him where he was, they decided to bring him back to the rendezvous point where the Werewolves and Mages were meeting to figure out how to handle Brewer’s impending first change and kill him there, in front of everyone, because you know… it was the Hunter who was senseless.
Naturally, this lead to a bit of in-fighting among the players. After all, Argus had been a hunter once upon a time (before he Awakened), and so he understood why Hunters did what they did. He also understood that some Hunters combine their Hunting and killing to those Supernaturals who are doing harm to the community (insert glare at the Werewolf Brothers).
And have I mentioned that Aenaiyah clearly has a thing for Argus and will defend him on this point even though outwardly she insists that she doesn’t “LIKE like him”, he’s just… you know… a mate. (not THAT kind of mate!) She in fact likes him so little that she is willing to defend him to the Werewolves who are not convinced that eating his face would be a bad thing. That would give most sane people pause. Then again, this is Aenaiyah we’re talking about.
One of the Werewolf brothers decides he’s going to sneaky sneaky over to the unconscious Hunter and slit his throat, at which point Arrow uses his powers of Thyrsus Awesomeness to make the guy get dizzy and trip so he can get the knife away from him. Neither Werewolf brother likes that very much, so they gang up on Arrow while Shannon is trying to calm them down. Argus is accusing them of being savage animals which is a sure fire way to help the situation. Rex, Riff-Raff, and Neils are trying to get between Argus and the brothers. Damien is trying to use Mind magic to figure out how ugly this is likely to get. Hot-headed knife-wielding brother decides to throw the knife up his other sleeve at the Hunter from where he’s standing. Calypso gets in the way of that knife, at which point the knife in Werewolf Brother’s boot goes winging its way at the unconscious Hunter’s throat. Aenaiyah tries to get into its path but stumbles, and then uses Shifting Sands to go BACK IN TIME to get stabbed in the gut with a thrown knife. (Paradox AND stabbed in the gut. Win-Win!)
I believe it was the sight of Aenaiyah bleeding out all over the ground that finally convinced folks that maybe this wasn’t the most productive way that they could possibly handle the situation, which was a pity since I had just grabbed fresh pop-corn from the snack shelf. I was enjoying watching her bleed out, dammit!
Ultimately they decided to let the Hunter live (boooooring), and deal with the fact that Brewer was rapidly growing fur. Mother Luna descended to have a chat with the gathered Uratha, and not being part of that Arrow excused himself because he had an important phone call to make. Previously he had convinced the Werewolf Alpha to give him a lock of his fur, and it seems that Arrow’s retainer has found an interested buyer.
I have revived from the turkey coma! I hope the holidays are treating everyone well so far. Now, where were we?
So now they have a guy who there has been a nationally televised press conference about, who is in lockup, who is about to turn into a Werewolf for the very first time, who is somewhat insane.
This sounds like the perfect time to introduce two new players to the Werewolf table! The new players (incidentally, both excellent role players who I enjoy gaming with) are playing Irish brothers who are Werewolves. One is a priest, and the other… well… the other is not a priest.
So everyone arrives at the precinct to scope the area out and see if there is some way that they can get Officer Brewer out of his cell and away from anyone that he might potentially hurt (or drive insane) when he turns into a Werewolf for the first time later this evening. While most of the players are trying to come up with a plan, the new brothers discover a van with a cartoon wolf painted on the side of it and the realize that the people in the van are Pure. Forsaken Werewolves (PCs) hate Pure Werewolves like I hate Mages. This should be amusing!
In the sparsely populated area of Ireland that the brothers are from being a Werewolf isn’t that big of a thing, so the not a priest brother decides to go harass the people in the van. This ends with him punching the Pure in the passenger seat in the face, which naturally leads to a large scale fight involving the police (since they are right in front of a police station), which leads to some of the Mages facepalming and heading into the police station under cover of stupidity.
The quick thinking Acanthus casts Perfect Moment and rushes up to the desk implying that she’s a US Marshall and needs to get Officer Brewer out of his cell and into witness protection before the people outside who are trying to kill him (hence the extreme levels of violence outside) make it inside and succeed in killing him. Argus, who is a consultant with the FBI, and Damien, who was just on TV as Brewer’s lawyer, are with her. Since she has Perfect Moment cast which allows her to act perfectly in an unplanned situation (no one had planned on the lunacy outside), and she happens to have been followed by people who make the situation plausible, and Damien is using the Mind Arcanum to pull a Jedi Mind Trick on the desk guard (‘she’s the US Marshall you’re looking for’) I give it to them. I figure they earned it this time.
The rest of the Werewolf Pack (Shannon, Calypso, and Matteus) along with Riff-Raff (a police officer on leave) are trying to calm down the various parties involved out front while Arrow and Neils play “innocent passersby” who got caught in the middle. Rex wanders through yelling at whipper-snappers to get off of his lawn. Calypso, after a successful INTELLIGENCE + COMPOSURE check, goes to get their van to drive it around to the back of the station figuring that the missing Mages (Aenaiyah, Argus, and Damien) are already inside getting to Officer Brewer.
Meanwhile, inside the station, Damien wound up realizing that one of the prisoners in a nearby cell is also a Pure Werewolf, undoubtedly the inside man for the Pure in the van. The ability to read minds can come in handy that way. Fortunately for the Mages he isn’t in a good position to do anything at the moment as he doesn’t know who they are or why they are taking Brewer out of his cell. All he can tell is that they aren’t Werewolves. Damien is sure to keep his mind away from any thoughts involving breaking out of his cell and ripping them all limb from limb. Aenaiyah tweaks Fate a bit to prevent anyone from happening to walk past at a bad moment and as soon as they make haste through the rear exit they get picked up by Calypso and driven to the rendezvous point. The easy part of the mission, breaking Officer Brewer out of prison, is now complete.
You’d think that would be the hard part, and it would have been, if not for the fustercluck going on outside.
What the Mages didn’t know:
The Mages decided to clear up whatever it was that Neils had unleashed in their basement as quickly as possible. Part of this was owing to Aenaiyah’s somewhat dramatic insistence that they would destroy all of Manhattan if they didn’t fix the problem within 48 hours at the latest. Aenaiyah was off by a few weeks, but everyone took her word for it and instead of playing around with this effect and maybe learning something about the nature of magic they shut it down with soul stones right away.
The effect in question actually comes from a book called “Intruders: Encounters with the Abyss” and it’s called “The False Demesne”. Where the book gives you a lot of “some theorize that”, I filled in my own explanations for what was happening and why. The solution to the problem was taken directly from the book though.
I had decided that Paradox simply didn’t ever happen… ever… and I was having no more of that. Much like Mages can cast extended spells, I decided that the Abyss can intrude over time as well. Neils’s tampering with magic in one location, repetitively, with no protective measures, and pushing the limits of his skill all the time… this sounded like ideal conditions for an Extended Paradox to me. The way to shut it down was in the book, and the effects of it were in the book, but what I had to decide was how to handle it if they didn’t shut it down.
Yes, I could have let it kill them all and honestly I wasn’t going to rule that out! That said, killing them all would kind of end the campaign and then I wouldn’t be able to continue torturing them. What to do, what to do?
It is at about this time that I picked up another book in the line: “Book of the Dead“. Now, White Wolf listed it as a generic World of Darkness Book even though the book itself seems to be pretty clearly related to Geist. That said, it makes one Hell* of an awesome book for Mage! Book of the Dead talks about how the underworld works in World of Darkness, and how Supernal Magic works there.
So I decided that the Mages had a few choices:
- They can deal with the event horizon in the basement before it gets out of hand.
- They can attempt to manage the event horizon in the basement by feeding it mana periodically (much like one would mitigate a regular Paradox dice pool by using mana during spell casting) which would not shut it down completely but would prevent it from spreading and growing stronger.
- They can make some poor decisions and an explosion will indeed happen… and that explosion will drag them to the edge of the Abyss (as close to it as a sentient mortal can go) right at the corner of the Abyss and the Underworld.
I had a rough sketch of what they would encounter in the Underworld in my head in case that looked like it would be used, though of course my players smashed my dreams asunder by not letting me kill them all and continue torturing them too. Inconsiderate Bastards!
I had also decided that to the rest of Manhattan it would look like a gas explosion had occurred in their Sanctum. The Consilium would be able to figure out that this was much more than a simple gas explosion (any reasonably competent Mage would), but that doesn’t mean that they would be able to trace the group to wherever it was they wound up, or bring them back. They would however be able to deal with their magical transgressions appropriately when/if they ever did return.
But no… instead my players don’t try to harness the untold power being unleashed in their home and get a call from the Werewolves telling them that Officer Brewer, who you may remember as being a police officer who saw a bunch of Pure Werewolves transform and went a little Werewolf Paranoid but remembered the whole thing, may actually be a Werewolf who is about to go through his first change. And where is Officer Brewer right now? Why, he’s in prison… like any crazy person waving a loaded gun around in a diner in Manhattan for no good reason should be.
What makes the Werewolves think that this man is about to become one of them, you ask? It might have something to do with the recurring visions of a moonless night, prison bars, a shield, and a furry fist punching through that shield that Shannon has been having. You know: police officer/ shield… he’s in prison/bars… there’s a blue moon that night/moonless night… and as an added extra: his name is Brewer, and Blue Moon is a beer! Honestly, their GM and I thought that they would figure it out much faster than they did. (Especially since it seemed like every time the group went out to eat in real life between Shannon having the vision and her player figuring it out there were ads for Blue Moon Beer on every surface of every restaurant!)
So now they have a guy who there has been a nationally televised press conference about, who is in lockup, who is about to turn into a Werewolf for the very first time, who is somewhat insane.
Clearly subtlety will be the buzzword of the next session.
*Hell… the Underworld…See what I did there?
Generally speaking, it is unwise to tell your friendly neighborhood Guardian of the Veil representative that you are about to hold a press conference on behalf of a man who watched a bunch of people turn into Werewolves. It is a widely held belief that going on to tell him that the whole thing was in fact your idea is… less wise.
At least Damien chose his moment well: as they were about to leave the graveyard from which the body of a young woman said Guardian representative had been accused of murdering was recently stolen.
It could only have been worse if Narsil, the Guardian in question, only found out because Damien accidentally mentioned that he’d like to get some sleep before having to head over to the steps of City Hall for his press conference.
Which is, as I imagine you have already deduced, precisely how Narsil found out about this press conference.
Narsil was displeased.
I did enjoy playing out Narsil’s reaction to this news. Watching Damien’s player squirm as he tried to spin how this would ultimately work in the Consilium’s favor by painting a picture of a man suffering from PTSD due to the stresses of his job. He went on at length about how this would not only discredit the “supernatural” elements of his story, but he could pull it off in a way that would gain sympathy for the police from the public, thereby gaining the trust of both the public and the police! It made sense, and he rolled well, and as GM I did know that this was the player’s plan going into the whole thing so Narsil (also a Mastigos) wouldn’t detect anything but sincerity from Damien. This is exactly the kind of mass manipulation (for the people’s own good of course!) that the Guardians like to see, and resulted in Narsil asking Damien if he had ever considered a career with the Guardians. He never dreamed that Damien would take it as an offer and accept it, though I’ll admit he had been hoping Damien would for a variety of complicated and conflicting reasons that will become clearer later on. (No Spoilers!)
Of course, as much fun as that was, the press conference was my favorite part of the day. I absolutely made Damien’s poor player (a lawyer in real life as well as in game) play this out. We gathered both tables together (Mages and Werewolves alike) and let people fire questions at Damien. He was then on the spot to answer them. Fun! He was a bit perturbed when I told him that was the plan. He had already augmented his mental abilities (well, his character’s mental abilities anyway) with some spellcraft, but he decided to ask if he could use his skills in the Mind Arcana to split his mind, almost like the Multi-Tasking spell, but instead of keeping track of different mental tasks he would look at the questions from opposing viewpoints while being charming for the cameras and assembled reporters. He would effectively be playing Devil’s Advocate with himself while he stalled. I decided that there could be little in life that would be more hilarious than allowing him to choose from among his Cabal-mates to represent different parts of his psyche and allowed this.
Much to my amusement he chose Aenaiyah (to represent his creative side: she’s a writer), Rex (his grumpy side: Rex is a grumpy old man), and Riff-Raff (Riff-Raff is a cop and so would know the law, and Riff-Raff’s player is also a lawyer in real life).
Argus’s player got to be one of us mean people pelting him with irritating questions. Excellent!
Throughout the conference Damien dealt with belligerent questions like “are you asking us to believe that there are Werewolves in the city?!” He was asked if he thought that the officer in question was mentally unstable to begin with and never should have been handed a badge and a gun in the first place; if this clearly currently less-than-stable individual should be handed a gun again at some point in the future; if it really is a good idea to have people who believe in Werewolves on the police force; if the public can expect more mental breakdowns and instability from the people who are supposed to be protecting them; if he was thought it was OK to let this person get away with endangering innocent people in a diner by waving around a loaded hand-gun because ‘any of them could be Werewolves, even you*!”; what kind of disciplinary action he thinks this officer, who endangered innocent people, should be facing; and all manner of irritating questions. One of my favorite parts though: while most of the players were a wide variety of reporters (you had to say a reporter’s name before you could ask a question), one of the Werewolves had apparently (and I did not know this beforehand!) been saying that his character was planning on starting up a website of weird goings on in the city and so he was asking questions as his character, a character that Damien knows, and randomly being a total pain in his ass. Matteus asked questions like:
- “Do you believe in Werewolves?”
- This may require Damien to lie since he knows Matteus is indeed a Werewolf
- “If Werewolves really do exist, and I’m saying if here, why would that necessarily be a bad thing?”
- OK people playing my brain, how do I answer this diplomatically without sounding crazy? GO!
- “Don’t you think Werewolves would make really good police officers since they are really strong, and heal really quick, and have an incredible sense of smell that they can use to track criminals? If they existed I mean, of course!”
- People playing my brain, remind me later to punch Matteus in the brain repeatedly until he is in a permanent coma. Or dead. Dead is OK too.
All told, I absolutely endorse allowing players to hold press conferences. I also absolutely endorse letting the other players grill them like a rack of ribs! Screw the whole “we’re a team we should help each other bit”. Deep down somewhere in the sub-cockle region they enjoy torturing each other and as you know I always say “let them!” Make sure that you have a few good juicy questions ready and then let the group dig in with you. You’ll be glad you did!
*You may recall that the “you” Officer Brewer was speaking to at the diner that night was in fact two Werewolves: Calypso and Matteus. (See: Regrets, They Have A Few)
It turns out that the somewhat unstable gun-wielding person in the diner with some of our Werewolf friends was a cop. He was a good cop, until that night he got mixed up in what he thought was a drug deal, but wound up being a bunch of Pure Werewolves who he witnessed going full on scary monster causing him to be shaken… not stirred.
Since his chats with the station psychologist involved people turning into Werewolves he was advised to take a little time off, away from his badge and sidearm. Naturally, being not dumb, he had more than one sidearm (legally) and kept his private piece close at hand. When his nice quiet, calm, chat over a cuppa joe with a couple of our Werewolf friends takes a detour onto ‘Waving A Loaded Gun In A Crowded Diner’ street while shouting about how his companions “don’t understand, anyone in this place could be a Werewolf right now and we wouldn’t even know!” the hilarity of the situation is not lost on me. Unsurprisingly Officer Brewer is brought in by a couple of his former co-workers to let off some steam behind bars. They treat him well, after all he’s one of theirs and he didn’t actually hurt anybody and his gun is legal, but they can hardly just send him home with a pat on the head. It sounds like he’s going to need a lawyer. Maybe our Mage friends know a lawyer. That’s right, our Mastigos friend Damien is a lawyer!
Calypso and Matteus (Officer Brewer’s newest Werewolf companions) go over the details of what just happened with Damien. Damien loves nothing better than showing off his own special blend of epic greatness (he has the Narcissism derangement) so he decides that what they need to do is hold a press conference to engender sympathy among the public for these poor overworked, underpaid, over stressed public protectors! Officer Brewer didn’t hurt anyone. He’s a victim in this! He has clearly been traumatized by his work, and he needs help from the very people he has risked his life protecting and serving for years.
While this is going on, our favorite Guardian of the Veil Argus Guile gets a phone call from a Moros Mage named Macabre. It seems someone has stolen a body from the cemetery. He wouldn’t mind so much if they had told him first! The particular body they nabbed is a girl who got murdered not long ago and sometimes the police come back and exhume those. He’s hoping that maybe Rex took it and can bring it back. If it was Rex, and he does help put it back, Macabre can point him to some ‘slightly used’ bodies that won’t be missed. When he finds out that it isn’t their friend Rex who stole the missing dead girl he asks if maybe Aenaiyah can come take a glance back to see if she can figure out who did so he can get it put back before he gets into trouble on account of it being missing. What she sees in that Post-Cognition is someone in very concealing black clothing whose face is obscured by a Guardians of the Veil mask.
As a GM I completely expect Damien’s player to start putting two and two together right about the time when he starts to hear about these details from his fellow Mages, but as I see the dawning of utter cluelessness in his face I allow him an INTELLIGENCE + COMPOSURE roll (thankfully a successful one) to remind him that when he joined the campaign he had asked me if he could have found himself placed in this particular Mage House after helping out a certain Guardian of the Veil (Narsil) with a legal problem… a legal problem which involved a dead girl, and his alleged hand in her death. Damien’s player had made a point of telling me how Damien had amassed those dots in Resources on his character sheet by defending a wide assortment of unsavory types as long as they could afford his rather exorbitant fees. He didn’t care of they were guilty or not, as long as they understood that freedom wasn’t free it was all the same to Damien. He also specifically told me that Damien wouldn’t have cared if Narsil had actually been guilty of this crime or not (after all, Guardians are called upon to do some unkind things in the name of public safety from time to time) and so as a player he didn’t really need to know.
I reminded him of that when he rolled those successes.