Category Archives: White Wolf

I-Con 31 FTW!

I-Con was a blast! Not only did I support the economy by spending far more money than I should have, I got to see some people I don’t get to see nearly often enough, met some new cool people, and oh yeah… there was gaming!

There was lots of gaming.

And the gaming was good. Nay… great!

In my Hunter game alone we had a folks bribing their way through the “indigenous inhabitants” of the undercity with pain pills, fun with flamethrowers, the building of a staircase down to the bottom of a sinkhole using accident wreckage and discarded construction materials, an officer of the law shooting someone in the face for trying to prevent his friend from being possessed by an Azlu, a giant demonic creature being attacked by a crazy woman with a wrench, cleansing fire, an ambulance driver who decided to “stay here to keep an eye on the accident victims… in case, you know… they might need help or something” (his Vice was Sloth), did I mention the flamethrowers?… and these weren’t even the prize winning moments!

Though charging the enormous half-human half-monstrosity with a wrench did deserve an honorable mention!

Ultimately though we all agreed that the Paramedic using her knowledge of chemistry to turn her jury-rigged “flamethrower” into a massive ball of explosive, fiery death (GM Approved!) and the Subway Worker who attempted to flamethrower the face off of someone with a nosebleed because it may (or may not) indicate an Azlu possession in the name of the Lord were simply too awesome to not walk away winners!

Although, honestly, the Paramedic deciding that it would be a great idea to try to dig an Azlu out of someone’s head with an epic sized pair of tweezers was also incredibly entertaining! (Brava Paramedic!)

And that was just one game! That doesn’t even begin to cover the Mastigos who twisted up the meanings of “Vulgar Spell” and “Covert Spell” to try to get a Seer of the Throne to unleash Paradox on himself, the Obrimos who turned gravity on and off to slam the guy into the ceiling and the floor, and then the ceiling, and then the floor… over and over again… or the fact that this time I was the Acanthus, and my Acanthus was the GM! Revenge is mine! Sayeth me baby!

Demons were slain, Canopic jars filled with fresh human entrails were hurled out of penthouse windows (sorry pedestrians!), I told my Cabal Mate in the future to leave a note in my wallet so I would have it in the past and naturally didn’t actually flip the card over to see said note until it was too late to be of use (and I still say it was all that purple-haired Acanthus’s fault we wound up three days ago and not mine but the memory bit was absolutely all Lyric’s fault!),  and sweet sweet stuff was purchased. With all of the tables of gaming going on around me (had to be a few dozen tables) I can only imagine how many crazy stories unfurled last weekend. A successful con indeed!

Now I’m looking forward to doing it all again for RetCon!

Hope to see you there.

Mages Make Me Cry

Of Mice and GMs

As GMs we were faced with a problem. On the one hand we had a lot of great material to work with that was nothing short of brilliant. I do not in any way exaggerate when I tell you that hearing about the events of the second session from the other GM’s perspective made me laugh so hard that tears streamed down my face, I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t stop! How do you not abuse that? What kind of GM would it make me if I let that go? I have a responsibility to make the PCs miserable at any given opportunity, and this one was given on a silver platter with a side order of steel toed boots and an invitation to kick hard and often.

The problem is that all those hilarious things went down in the second session of the campaign. Sure, now I’m not against a TPK, but at the time I had only just invested in a bunch of books to GM this bad boy and I wasn’t sure I was quite ready for a TPK in the third session.

How the times have changed!

As a result we decided to teach these people a lesson about being discreet, while leaving at least some of them alive to play another session. And so we decided that the news guy who had been at the club that night, the one who got sent home from work the next day ranting about monsters, did his ranting in front of a Hunter who also worked at the station. This particular Hunter is not of the “all monsters must die!” variety. This guy is a member of Network Zero: The Secret Frequency. (See: Hunter the Vigil) The fine folks at Network Zero are all in favor of vicious uncontrollable monsters meeting violent ends, but they understand that not all “monsters” are monsters. Mostly what Network Zero wants is to prove that they aren’t insane. They want to prove that the monsters are real.

And so, when they heard about the events at the club they saw a golden opportunity to not only meet some monsters in a social setting but maybe get some Werewolves on film!

And so they made some fake invitations. And they made a fake club (heck, these guys work in TV Production they know how to build a set), and they got the cameras and the sound equipment in place and they waited.

One of the Hunters posed as a bouncer outside of the “club”. The previous night the Werewolves transformed when they were refused entry into the club. This is why their bouncer was, under no circumstances, to allow them to enter the club.


She stroked his arm, she flipped her hair, she cast Perfect Moment and he let her in. If he hadn’t allowed himself to be so distracted by her maybe Matteus wouldn’t have gotten the drop on him so easily. If he hadn’t been trying to show off what a big tough man he was to her maybe he wouldn’t have decided to let Matteus get the first shot in free.

If he hadn’t been trying so hard to show off maybe he wouldn’t have gotten his ass beat before using that silver sword cane he was leaning on to trigger a wolf-out like he was supposed to!

Ultimately the Hunters ran out as fast as they could leaving some of their camera equipment behind. The Mages and Werewolves, instead of ripping each other’s faces off and roasting each other on spits like we had hoped, used it to discredit them by filming an attack by “fake” Werewolves. How did they do this? One of the Werewolves went into Gauru form and Rex, the Matter Mage, made a fake zipper to stick to his back like it was just a costume that looked real good from the front, and real ludicrous from the back.

They then posted the videos online and headed to the bar for a few brews together.

I ask you, what did I do to deserve this?

Mages Make Me Cry

Sick Sad World of Darkness

The second session of the campaign closed with The Loquacious Grimoire happily in the hands of Mysterium Librarian Meijis (and for the record, it is both the book and the librarian that were happy), and our budding group of Mages starting to look like people you could come to trust the safety of the city to. This is why late that night (or early that morning, depending upon your point of view) resident Guardian of the Veil, FBI Agent Argus Guille, received a message indicating that he should go to CNN*s home page immediately. Upon confirmation that he granted the request of the ranking Guardian in the city, I handed him the following:

No Good Can Come Of This

Clearly it was destined to be one of those days.

The text is as follows:

Gruesome Murder May be Work of Serial Killer, NYPD says

The body of a murdered woman was found near Central Park. The woman, who remains unidentified at this time, was found posed behind the steering wheel of an SUV wearing an evening dress. 5 More bodies found in a nearby alley. 

Successful WITS+INVESTIGATION rolls would draw their eyes to the following headlines deftly inserted along the side of the picture among the actual headlines of the day by yours truly:

Latest News:
Report: Violence Breaks out in Illegal Manhattan Casino
NBC Production Employee sent home after Wild Ravings

Naturally, since this was printed on a piece of paper (and since I didn’t actually create a website for any of this) the links didn’t go anywhere for them – nor will they for you. They were, and are, for the sake of a realistic effect only.

And so, Argus decides to rouse the rest of his Scooby Gang and investigate. The following Mages were at the Sanctum at the start of Session 3:

Argus: Guardian of the Veil – Obrimos
Neils: Free Council – Obrimos
Marissa: Apostate – Acanthus
Nokoni: Adamantine Arrow – Thyrsus
Rex: Free Council – Moros

They arrive on the scene to police putting up barricades and trying to get the lookie-loues out of the way.  They also spy amid those lookie-loues a young woman with green hair and the aura of a Mage. The decision is made to keep her close since they don’t know who she is or how she might be involved. It is at this point that new player character Molly Carpenter – Mastigos – Apostate joins our intrepid group of adventurers!

Argus does some mad bluffing (MANIPULATION+INTIMIDATION) and amid many successes he convinces everyone that he is currently with the beaureau, and that he is in charge here.  Since he is in charge he orders the NYPD officers present to just keep people out of the immediate area while his cracked team of Crime Scene Investigators begins the hunt for the killer!

The body is posed in a van, as can be seen in the “photo” on the website. What can’t be seen in the picture is that the keys are in the ignition, the headlights are on, and the door is wide open resulting in that godawful “ping ping ping” noise going on…and on… and on…

Rex and Nokoni are able to determine that there is no muscle tissue in the body, nor are there any internal organs. Only the skin and bones remain. As can be seen in the “photo”, the eyes are also completely gone. The skin is leathery, and it is difficult to pinpoint a time of death. The usual smell of decay is absolutely not present, but there is an acidic odor present. There is no blood in the body, and as such there is no bruising. “Forensic Gaze” reveals that the cause of death is a deep “V” shaped wound at the base of the sternum that is mostly hidden by the dress that the body still wears.

Neils and Argus detect no magical resonance, and so it would appear that this is not the work of a Mage. It didn’t really look like the work of a Mage, but it’s always important to rule that out! Getting his hands on a fingerprinting kit from the NYPD officers on the scene, Argus is able to determine that there are fingerprints inside the van and on the body, in all of the places you would expect to find them considering the fact that it isn’t bloody likely that this person happened to die while waving hello to someone.

Molly scans the mental state of the crowd of gawkers and doesn’t sense that anyone present is aware of what happened here. She also keeps an eye on young Marissa, who seems to have found something interesting lying in the street.

CNN isn’t the only ones reporting on this:

MONSTER IN MANHATTAN: A Sick Sad World** Exclusive!

(Yes, you can click this link!)

Argus arranges for the body to be removed by a police officer who happens to be in the confidence of the Consilium, and taken to a coroner who happens to be a Moros Mage. This taken care of the group heads to their base of operations at the New York Public Library to figure out their next move, where a young woman with a British accent, the aura of a Mage, and spikey purple hair happens to be sitting in their path.

(*GM’s Note: With all due respect to CNN! I asked myself, what would be the most frightening place for a story like this to turn up, and CNN’s solid reputation for quality reporting made it the only choice.)

(**GM’s Note: When challenged to come up with a name for my campaign’s conspiracy tabloid I could think of no finer tribute to some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work alongside than naming it “Sick Sad World”. Truth.)

The Old Posed Body in the Van Trick

What Child Is This?

Shortly before the second session of the campaign I was tossed a curve ball. Two people I had never met before signed up for my game, and I would be seeing their character sheets for the first time at the game table. Mage is a complicated game, to put it mildly, and as a still newbie GM (having only GMed once before – the first campaign session) I can’t pretend I wasn’t a bit unnerved. One of my promised regular players who had been unable to attend the first session was going to make it this time. This gave me the following cast of characters for the session:

Argus: Guardian of the Veil – Obrimos
Neils: Free Council – Obrimos
Marissa: Apostate – Acanthus
Nokoni: Adamantine Arrow – Thyrsus
Rex: Free Council – Moros

The session opens with Argus and Neils called into Narsil’s office to figure out what to do with the child they rescued during the first session. Narsil is a quietly menacing kind of Guardian who helps to herd the freshly Awakened and try make sure they don’t unleash massive Paradoxes or put on grand displays of Magery for the average Sleeper on the street. The first image that came into my mind when I needed an NPC to send the players on missions was the scenes of Aragorn at the Prancing Pony telling Frodo he needs to not do things like put The Ring on in the middle of a crowded bar. As a result the character absolutely has that Viggo Mortensen “Fellowship of the Ring” kind of thing going on with the long dark hair, blue eyes, and you really hope he’s on your side because he means business for whichever side he is on.

Anyway, Narsil has figured out that it is safe to wake the child up, and he’s whittled things down to a simple dispellation to do it. Since the younger Mages found her, and since it’s a good learning opportunity, and let’s face it – since they are the player characters, Argus and Neils get invited to Narsil’s office to be there when he wakes the girl up. Argus arrives at Narsil’s office first, mostly because Neils’ player was a little late that day.

When the girl wakes up she is disoriented to say the least. Everything is strange to her, and she doesn’t know where her parents are. The last thing she remembers is being lost at an amusement pier for days and days and days… she’s very confused, and speaks of a “magic man” who likes to play spell games with her. She tells the others that her name is Marissa, and it just so happens that Marissa is a very young Acanthus Mage.

Or is she?

Meanwhile, an altercation is taking place in the main area of the Mysterium Library. Someone has given Meijis, the head librarian and steward of the library, some very upsetting news. The normally mild mannered librarian is looking about ready to give a serious ass kicking to a French Mage who has entered the room through a portal direct from a Mysterium library in France.

(GM Note: The Portal in question is a pretty complicated affair. It is actually two Portals that meet somewhere deep under the ocean, one leading directly into the other.The two Mages had to coordinate to open them simultaneously while on different continents. It is constructed this way for two reasons: on the one hand it prevents anyone from reopening the Portal later on without winding up taking a swim, and on the other hand this manner of construction means that neither side had to breach the other side’s protective wards with a spell. It’s the kind of detail that I didn’t have reason to go into at the game table – but that’s what blogs are for!)

Nokoni and Rex, my two unexpected additions to the group, happen to be in the library for reasons of their own when things get ugly. Neils is running into the library and into Narsil’s office just as the French Man is stepping through the Portal with an obvious lack of a certain package under his arm. Neils reaches Narsil’s office and opens the door when the screaming starts. (See how cleverly I work in the fact that my player was late to the table? Yeah, I’m awesome like that.)

Naturally, Narsil runs outside to see what in hell is going on to get Meijis (think Winifred Burkle when she first joined the team on “Angel“) angry enough to yell like that. He asks Argus to mind the child as he dashes past, who naturally passes the buck to Neils, who (being an absent minded professor) tells the child not to cause any trouble and leaves her alone in Narsil’s office. Her player promptly informs me that she has wheeled Narsil’s chair over to a book case and has used it like a step stool to pull his books off of the highest shelves she can reach and use them like blocks on the floor. She alternates this with spinning in his chair until she is dizzy. (As you might imagine, he is not amused when he gets back to his office later.) As she tires of this she wanders out to join the others – because when do children ever do what they are told?

In the main room the players are discovering that the French Mysterium Librarian was supposed to be bringing a very special book with him. The Loquacious Grimoire (See: White Wolf’s “Grimoire of Grimoires“) has chosen its next reader, and it has chosen Meijis. She has been hoping for a chance to be a reader for some years, and is more than a little upset to hear this story about the book having been allegedly stolen from the French Reliquary. People have tried to hold on to the book after it has chosen a reader before, and she has some concerns that this may be another of those times.

Who will be stupid… err cowardly… I mean selfless and honorable enough to step through the Portal to France to find out what really happened?

I’ll give you five guesses.

It was either go to France or still be in New York when Narsil sees the mess in his office.

They chose… wisely.

Mages Make Me Cry

In The Beginning:

I had been playing Role Playing Games for more years than I’d like to admit to, and I had at times played antagonist NPCs. It is not nearly the same thing as GMing your first game though.

My first session as a GM was the first session of the Mage campaign, back in May 2009. There were issues from the start. For one thing, the game formed at my friendly local game store Ravenblood Games. Ravenblood is hands down the best place to play games ever, but the challenge was running for a public group. Because this was to be an ongoing campaign people signed up if they were interested in staying in the campaign for the long haul, not as a group of one shots with different players each week. Some of the people I had gamed with before, some I hadn’t. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, some of the people who signed up couldn’t make it to the first session, which gave me a smaller and more manageable group to start with than the one I wound up with. At least there was that!

So, at the start of the session I had two people who would become Mage campaign regulars at my table, and one person who intended to play a Werewolf, and ultimately wound up taking over as GM for that group. Argus, an Obrimos Guardian of the Veil, and Niels, an Obrimos Free Councillor, were my regulars. Macabre, a Moros Free Council Mage, was being played by the future Werewolf GM.

My idea was fairly simple and straightforward. The Consilium has noticed that a Ley Line is being corrupted. They want it investigated, but quite frankly New York City is a big place and they have more urgent matters to deal with. As a result, they have called on a few Mages who have been deemed reasonably trustworthy (and not irreplaceable) to investigate.  The Ley Line lead them to a house that was so nondescript that it could only be deliberately so, and they did some poking around. I had intended that they decide to stand a watch outside of the house, hoping that when they decided to enter it the cabal of Mages using it would be in the midst of their ritual and have all of their protective wards up. It would be a big, flashy battle and ultimately at very least the leader of the cabal would escape by teleporting away.

Naturally, my players decided to break in right away. A little invisibility, and boom I can pick the lock with no one seeing me. Stupid Mages!

I did hit them with a problem once they got inside though. The Mages using the house had bricked over the way to get into the basement. As high powered Mages they didn’t need it. Clearly, this meant that the basement was where all of the action was happening. Now, how do the players get down there? They are new Mages and don’t have fun spells like create portal, teleport, or plasticity just yet. Various ideas were discussed. These ideas included:

  • Creating a workforce of zombified rats from the New York City subway system. After all, we all know that NYC Subway Rats are a special breed, and they should be able to dig through the distance between the nearest subway tunnel and the wall of the basement.

The Guardian of the Veil stepped in and said absolutely not. (Good on you, Argus!)

  • Calling upon the Consilium to see if they can help.

This seems like a good idea on the surface, but the Consilium sent the players here for a reason: they simply don’t have time to deal with something this trivial and that’s why they sent the PCs. They are supposed to find out what’s going on, not call in to ask the Consilium to do that for them.

  • Using the Atlantean Backhoe that the Moros Mage had written on his character sheet under “Merit: Artifact” to tunnel into the basement.

The GM did not approve this artifact, and that player was summarily thwapped upside the head.

Eventually the resident science guy, Niels, decided to use his Mage sight to see if he could detect any existing shortcuts to and from the basement. After all, Mages have all kinds of abilities that tend to support laziness, and so it might be a good idea to have something that triggers a portal into the basement on your second floor so you don’t have to keep bothering to cast the spell. Sure enough he found a full length mirror that did exactly that, and they went downstairs to investigate.

As GM I figured they would take some notes on what they found, maybe pick up an item or two to bring to an Acanthus Mage (the “regular” Acanthus Mage was away that weekend and couldn’t make it to the session) to see what was probably going on down there. That would seem to make sense.

The players decide to camp out down there, invisible (too many Forces Mages dammit!), and wait to see if anyone shows up. So much for my glorious battle!

While they are waiting the Moros Mage decides to zombify the corpses of any rats that might happen to be near by and I have to come up with rules for that on the fly because the average Moros Mage zombifies people, not rats, and I didn’t have any rules for that handy. We figure something out and he gets a bunch of rats, which makes him all happy.

Eventually the Mages who are using the place do wind up portaling into the basement. They portal in because one of them is carrying a young child who is to play a key role in the ritual they are about to perform. First the security guard of the group comes through to make sure everything is clear, but the dimwit carrying the child botches his timing role and comes through too quickly after him. As he is coming through my Guardian of the Veil, who is invisible, blows the head off of the first Mage through the portal.

Having the brains of his cabal mate sprayed all over his face scares the second Mage coming through more than a little, as it might be expected to do, and he winds up dropping the child and heading back through the portal.

It is at this point that the Moros Mage decides to order the zombie rats to go after him through the portal, and then return. Sadly the portal snaps shut as they leap through after the Mage that is running away. Clearly someone on the other side of that portal heard the gunshot, saw the brain-splattered coward leap back, and decided that closing that portal might be a good idea.

The Player Mages try using the rats as an anchor to scry on the location of the antagonist Mages, but this only leads to a severe headache and a confusing image of a rickety building overlapped with a shopping mall.

Upon returning to the ground floor the players discover something near the kitchen door. Just inside of the dog flap is what appears to be an old flyer, being held by a nearly destroyed skeletal rat. The flyer is for a new tourist attraction in Long Branch, New Jersey: “The Haunted Mansion”. It clearly dates back to the 1970’s.

The players have some mysteries on their hands now. Who are these Mages who are powerful enough to portal through Time? And more immediately, what are we going to do with the sleeping little girl they left behind?

Mages Make Me Cry

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