I’m generally not a fan of making the players decide to do any particular thing. Sadly, when you’re at the start of a campaign you have few other options. Over the course of time the characters start to have agendas of their own, but in the second session, with new players joining the table that session (and more new players to come in session three) that kind of thing just hasn’t had time to happen yet.
As a result the players quickly came to the realization that if any of them decided that they just didn’t feel like helping Meijis, Mysterium Librarian and Steward of the New York Public Library based reliquary/sanctum, retrieve this grimoire it was going to be a very short session.
And that very short session would likely end with Narsil, our NPC Guardian of the Veil, making people’s heads explode when he saw the results of leaving an unattended Awakened child in his office. This would have also resulted in it being a very short campaign.
And so our player characters are off to France!
In his pre-Awakened life Argus Guille was an FBI agent, currently on a leave of absence, and so he knows how to conduct an investigation. Let’s go to the video tape! I know… I know… it hardly seems likely that a French Consilium Reliquary would make use of anything as mundane as security cameras, but with as many successes as he rolled I pretty much had to give it to him that they did. There are spells that enable Mages to transfer things that they have witnessed to transferable media (Flash Drives… DVD’s… video tape…) so I suppose that some French Mages took care of that after some careful Post-Cognitive work (none of the players at the session were capable of casting that spell) while our guys were en route. Since he did have a great many successes on his roll (more successes than he had dice in his dice pool if memory serves correctly) I allowed for a few different things:
- There was indeed a recorded record of the book being stolen.
- Someone else had previously viewed the tape and queued it to the point where the book was removed from the shelf saving him some time in the viewing room.
- He was observant enough to realize that the books on the shelf had been fairly tightly packed, and that one of the books moved slightly “all on its own” before the grimoire in question floated off of the shelf and out of sight rather ungracefully.
In fact, I even pointed out that it almost looked as if someone had cast an invisibility spell and then taken the book while they were invisible!
It seems that Player Characters aren’t the only ones with access to that spell, eh Argus?
While Argus is going over the tape, his fellow Mages are trying to come up with a list of potential suspects independently. They figure that if they come up with different lists using different methods, then the names that are on both lists are the short-lists. It isn’t a bad plan at all. Our Fate Mage, the 9 year old Marissa, is wandering aimlessly about and stumbles upon a list of known french bibliophiles thanks to the successful application of a Fate spell. Our Prime Mage, Free Councilor Neils, is looking for evidence of portals or teleportation magic. The Morose Mage, Rex, is carefully examining the walls to see if it’s possible a door was created using plasticity, or some transmutative spell. If spells were used to enter the area then there will be resonance left behind that can be carefully scrutinized to help pinpoint the thief. Adamantine Arrow Mage Nokoni is looking into possible ways for the thief to have entered and exited the premises that do not involve the use of portals, teleportation spells, or alteration of matter, in case Neils and Rex find no evidence of those things – which as a matter of fact they don’t since the French Mysterium carefully warded their library! It seems as though the most likely case scenario here is that either our thief is someone whose presence would not be questioned who became invisible only to sneak the book out after arriving normally, or the thief was smart enough to sneak in invisibly behind someone else who had access.
Meanwhile, Argus rolls about 8 million more successes to lift fingerprints off of the book that was pushed aside on the shelf because, apparently, our thief is not a very good thief and didn’t consider the possibility that simply because he was invisible that didn’t mean he wouldn’t leave fingerprints behind.* The fingerprints point to a man named Jean-Claude DeLacey. His name also appears on the short-list of people who might have an interest in the grimoire that our young Acanthus stumbled across. You see, this particular grimoire dates back to the days of the French Revolution, and DeLacey is a scholar of the period. DeLacey is also fabulously wealthy, and well known to be a lover of antique books in general (though the revolutionary period is his specialty), and a wealthy patron of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France – home of the French Mysterium Library. If this isn’t handled discreetly the Mages could wind up with an international incident on their hands!
Good thing the American Consilium sent their best and brightest! </sarcasm>
*GM Note: I had actually pre-decided that an exceptional success would result in this very thing happening. Our book thief really was never intended to be very good at thievery. It is way too menial for a man of his means! A simple investigative success would have resulted in a partial print that would have narrowed the list of suspects, no successes would have resulted in blurred prints, and on a botch the only prints on the book belong to Argus who would have forgotten to put on gloves before picking up the book to fingerprint it.
It’s the perfect hook. One of the characters works at a bar, and there’s a dead body in the parking lot. At a glance: alcohol poisoning. It isn’t difficult to believe with the number of nights she’s seen him there when she arrived, and kicked him out at closing. All the same, she calls her Adamantine Arrow cabal mate to examine the body. He’s a Moros Mage, so he can get a bead on the cause of death with a simple covert spell called “Forensic Gaze” without the need for her to use Post-Cognition and actually watch the poor guy die. Just to be sure.
When her cabal mate arrives he thinks she’s just being paranoid. After all, these things happen at bars sometimes, and this guy clearly has a history. That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to humor her by casting the spell. He breaks out the dice and calculates his dice pool, all the while suspecting nothing.
And then I tell him that there’s a -3 dice modifier to his role.
Nope, nothing to see here!
This is why I hate, and I do mean HATE (all caps – no holds barred – can not stand!) negative dice modifiers to rolls. Give me a contested roll that gives me a dice pool against, give me an increase to the number of successes needed to ascertain certain information, but once you whip out a negative dice modifier there is no way the players are going to buy into the perfectly logical explanation that presents itself at first glance.
Furthermore, it makes even less sense on attack rolls! OK, I can expect my players to not overly meta-game and accept it if they know something strange is afoot at the Circle K but their character doesn’t. I’m a lucky Story Teller like that. Of course, once I tell them how many defense dice to pull out of their attack pool they start using that information to figure out all sorts of other things about their opponent. They may not be trying to do it, but rest assured that somewhere in their devious little plot-wrecking brains they ARE doing it. It’s what they do. It’s ALL they do!
What’s a GM to do? #sigh
What happens when a young Obrimos Mage in his prime joins an order that’s seen too many episodes of Alias?
Hilarity Ensues, that’s what!
I bring to you:
Top 10 Changeling Pickup Lines
(to use if you never want to get laid again)
- 10. Do you like Arcadian Games?*
- 9. Stop hedging, you know you like me!
- 8. Like the song says, “sooner or later it comes down to Faete… I might as well be the one!”
- 7. You can Contract me any time!
- 6. Give me a chance… have a Changeling of heart!
- 5. Looking for the right person can be a thorny situation. Luckily you found me!
- 4. I may be Wyrd, but I’m fun!
- 3. What a Glamourous dress!
- 2. You hair looks quite fetching!
IF YOU NEED HELP FROM MAGES CALL ME!
*Yes, this was his first line. Clearly he has forgotten that Arcades went out of style decades ago.