innocent_man: (coffee)
OK, so! I finished God-Machine Chronicle yesterday. Now Michelle just needs to get the last edits done and it's officially out of my hair for a while. What else is going on?

Well, lots of things. I gotta say, I lament the death of LJ. I really miss being able to post something and get a lot of responses and comments. I can do it on Facebook now, of course, but that's not the same. It's too public, too open, and I can't control the discussion enough (which for certain topics is necessary). But at the same time, it's too impermanent. Once something's off your timeline, you'll probably never see it.

I think sometimes about porting this over to or something, but I dunno. I like the interface here. Ah, well. It is what it is.

Stuff I gotta do:

  • Get edits back to Road to Hell on Earth authors: this week.
  • Get Demon outlined and to authors: As soon as I get the bible.
  • Get my bit of Tragedy done and to Michelle: this week.
  • Do write-up from the game last freaking Monday: momentarily.
  • Notes for tomorrow's game: today.
  • Make a character: today.

Let's get started! The Key, Part III. )
innocent_man: (buttons)
Monday night I ran a World of Darkness game using the rules revisions from the upcoming God-Machine Chronicle. So here's what we've got.

The characters are all law enforcement...but from different cities:

  • Ashton King, behavior psychology and profiler from Detroit.
  • Khandi Cochrane, medical examiner and forensic expert from Tulsa.
  • Ryan Mallory, fresh recruit and crack shot from Columbus.
  • Walt Lundy, FBI agent and the team's handler from Washington DC.

Here's what happened: Three nights ago, three murders took place (Tulsa, Columbus, Detroit). Each murder happened at the same time, in exactly the same locked or closed rooms, with no witnesses. The prevailing belief is that this has to be a group pulling some kind of trick, but the powers that be, after a lot of media exposure and talk about the "Phantom Killer" or the "Tri-State Ghost", put together a task force, one officer from each city, and put a plane at their disposal. This is mostly show for the media, and the departments have their own investigations ongoing as well.

So the characters meet up, introduce themselves (in Tulsa, which is where Cochrane's lab is, of course) and start going over data. The three victims were Rosa Kerby (Tulsa; female, 43 years old, husband was home at the time); Craig Lowder (Detroit, male, 26 years old, lives alone, multiple locks on door which weren't disturbed); and Gloria Ault (Columbus, female, 35 years old, husband was out of town, house alarm wasn't tripped but was armed).

The victims had nothing in common. They hadn't moved recently, they'd had no common cable or repair companies, and they never met each other. They were different races (Kerby was mixed Hispanic/white, Lowder was black, Ault was white), different ages, and different socio-economic status (Kerby was lower-middle, Lowder was blue collar, Ault was upper-middle). Each had been killed by a single puncture wound to the throat, piercing the carotid artery; they bled to death in seconds.

In all three crime scenes, a strange doodle was found on the wall in black marker. The actual marker was found in Columbus. Put together, the doodles resembled a key. CS teams also found a set of fingerprints at each scene, one that didn't match any of the inhabitants and (thus far) hadn't turned up in any databases).

Cochrane and Lundy went to the lab to go over data and assist with the autopsy of Kerby, while King and Mallory went to the local hospital's psych ward to interview her widower (he was still in severe PTSD and shock).

Cochrane discovered that the wound on Kerby's neck was thin and narrow; her best guess was an ice pick. There was one wound, forceful and decisive, but very precise, probably delivered while she was standing or sitting up by an assailant in front of her using his left hand or behind her using his right. There was some kind of residue in the wound, probably from the blade; analysis revealed it was rust. Blood toxicology came back negative, and her stomach contents revealed she'd eaten dinner and nothing after that.

Cochrane made some calls and found that Detroit was dragging their feet on the Lowder autopsy, so she called the airport and had them make the plane ready; she'd just go do it herself.

Meanwhile, King and Mallory were at the psych ward. They questioned Bill Kerby, Rosa's husband, and learned that he'd had trouble sleeping so he'd left the bedroom and gone to the living room to read. About midnight he heard a thud from the bedroom, rushed in (thinking she'd fallen) and discovered her on the floor, bleeding to death. He hadn't seen or heard anyone, and the door the bedroom was still closed. He had, obviously, been the first suspect, but King felt his grief was genuine. The forensics didn't match anyway.

The characters regrouped at the crime scene and studied the initial photos and the room. The doodle (the top of the key) was scribbled on the mirror next to where Rosa had fallen. Based on the blood splatter, the group concluded that she had been sitting up in bed, had thrown the covers off (maybe to get up), and had been stabbed from behind by a right-handed assailant who was slightly taller than she was. The arterial spray hit the wall, she fell right out of the bed and onto the floor...but that's where it got weird.

There was no way someone could have gotten out from behind her and out of the room without leaving footprints, and there were none, not on the bed or through the blood. The killer had, apparently, simply vanished.

At this point, the characters decided they'd head to Detroit and look into Lowder's murder. So that's where we pick up next time.

System notes: Honestly nothing to report. We used the new system for extended actions, but since the new stuff only comes into play when you fail or exceptionally succeed (neither of which happened), that didn't really change much. The group wasn't crazy about Aspirations, but that was mostly because it was the first session and they're hard to set until you've played the character once or twice (which I've amended the text to reflect).
innocent_man: (aurum)
Blargh. My kids are sick. The child support agency in Lucas County really needs to pull its head out of its ass. Beyond those things, things are peachy.

Need to get some writing done (that's not the first time I've said that this summer, but it's close!), but today ain't the day. Need to be better rested and not quite so annoyed.

What I will do, though, is this Promethean write-up. Now, on the off chance you're playing in the 3PM "Play with a Developer" slot on Friday, 8/14 at GenCon, don't read this, because this is the game I'm running there.

I remember...pants. )
innocent_man: (geist)
Thursday night was the final session of my Geist playtest. You'll recall that last time (which was way back here), the characters had taken a trip to Lethe and learned that some guy named Victor was eating the ghosts that the Order of Saint Quirinus was sending into the Underworld via an Avernian Gate in a church (got that?).

The characters decided to gear up and track down Victor. The priests could wait.

They did so, timing it so that it would be far away from 2AM when they got there. They hunted around for a while in the vicinity in which they knew he was trapped, and found a rockslide. They went to work with pickaxe and whatnot, and it took an hour or so but they finally cleared it.

And then the gargoyles jumped them. The shotguns they had brought with them, though, made fairly short work of those critters. Victor was standing in this alcove, and fell back to start praying. About then, the characters noticed that their shots were missing. Victor closed on them and smacked Alec with the chains he'd been spinning around, but by that time the last of the gargoyles was dead and the characters unloaded at him. He fell, badly wounded, and dropped his chains.

At this point, they talked to him and found that he had been a Sin-Eater, but he had lost his geist and become stuck in the Underworld. Pre-Bargain, he said, he'd belonged to a group called Aegis Kai Doru, and this was one of their store-houses (hence the Witch-Candle, which I modified a bit, and the other artifacts). The AKD hadn't been back, but he admitted that he'd been trapped here in 1934. He said all he wanted was a geist, so he could become whole again, and the characters, having died themselves once and understanding the desperate need to survive, agreed to take him out of the Underworld and help rehabilitate him.

Alec, having used Phantasmal Marionette to manifest his hulking geist, smashed up the artifacts (at Victor's request), including a heavy mirror-table that let Victor communicate with the priests. Victor warned the characters later that until he was better acclimated, he shouldn't be allowed out into the world - everything that made him human was gone, and a geist would have no constraints on it after the Bargain (Synergy 0, you see).

There was some interest in revisiting the quest to find Victor a geist when the book actually comes out, but that's not playtest anymore. :)

Anyway, if anyone's still reading, that's it for now. No real mechanical concerns, and the "spend plasm to prevent damage" thing seemed to work just fine in play.
innocent_man: (buttons)
Last night was the fourth session of our Geist playtest, and involved a foray into the Underworld. Read on.

Last time, the characters spent the time doing research, and I totally should have had the scene in which Alistair got info from his church contact happen, y'know, not over the computer so we could've rolled some dice and everything. But I was deathly ill last week, so I had to have some slack for that.

Anyway, the characters waited around until close to 2AM, and then Allison used Pyre-Flame Oracle to astral project (and we realized how HOLY-SHIT powerful that power really is, though I think it's countered by the fact that it can screw you if you do it wrong and it does take some set-up). She flew off to St. John's Cathedral in Lakewood, which was a church that had come up in the characters' investigations last time. Meanwhile, Amber used Spectral Howl to find a ghost being exorcised - and found one near that same church.

The characters loaded Allison's body into the car and headed for the church. Allison got there first, and saw five priests, one in a white robe holding a length of black silk, chanting. They were upstairs in the balcony (I'm sure it has a churchy name, but I don't know it), and there was a music box sitting between them. Allison felt a trail of Essence from it leading to the opening to the opening that was now an open Avernian Gate.

Suddenly, one of the priests seemed to sense her, and the head priest started praying to Saint Benedict. Allison, worried, lit out, and caught up with the other characters. And the clock struck two, and Allison died.

Well, not quite. But her geist went away, and that was what was letting her project. Without that, she was just a disembodied soul - and we call those ghosts. She managed to hold on for a full minute (every roll bought her 10 seconds) until the geist returned and offered her its hand, and pulled her back into Twilight (where was she? sliding down). She jumped back into her body and told the others what she had seen.

Amber went and jacked the door with a crowbar. Robert, not wanting to rush in guns blazing but definitely wanting to disrupt the ritual, tossed in a flashbang, and the krewe left. They figured that the music box was an anchor, and that the ghost that the priests had banished was probably still in the Underworld, near the opening. They went to their own Gate and spent the next three hours working their way back to the Gate they'd seen, and found a very confused ghost.

She was a teenager, accidentally shot by her little brother (Allison remembered the news story). Alec attempted to comfort her, but she flipped out (probably because he introduced himself as "Father Alec"). They calmed her down and infused her with smarts, and she told them that she remembered her anchor being at a Goodwill store and the priests buying it and chanting over it, and she felt herself dragged into the Underworld. After promising to look in on her brother, the characters helped her Pass On, and discussed their options.

They noticed that there weren't any ghosts in this area, which is weird for the Underworld. They figured that something was eating the ghosts that the priests were putting into the Underworld here, but didn't know what that something might be. They'd heard of Underworld things, but needed some answers.

Amber remembered stories about the Rivers of Death, and how a sip from the River of Memory could answer any question. They decided to give that a shot, and found a drunk ghost who claimed he'd taken that drink - yes, it could answer any question, but it also numbs your mind. He led them to Lethe (making this group the second to visit this river). They saw a ghost on the banks who did nothing but sit and stare - no memory or mind left. With that cautionary tale in mind, Amber took a drink, and learned what was eating the ghosts.

It was a Vacant - a Sin-Eater with no geist. The only name it had was Victor. Amber learned that it was trapped in the Underworld, behind a kind of rockslide, and that it was consuming ghosts just like any Sin-Eater might. It was quite mad, and it wasn't really just a Sin-Eater anymore. It was...Victor. Amber also lost a dot of Intelligence (she only had 2 to start).

Amber started giggling, and acted quite drunk and happy. It took some doing before the others could get anything out of her, but she finally explained what she'd found. The characters weren't clear on how Victor was interacting with the priests or why their geists were being affected, but at least they know - Victor's in the area around the Avernian Gate. Now, they're headed home to rest, before hunting Vacant Victor down.

Next time.
innocent_man: (geist)
Would've posted this Friday, but I was too busy attempting to become one of the Stricken.

Mostly research. The characters looked into the Order of Saint Quirinus, and discovered that it mostly gets referenced in books and sources of a decidedly nasty nature. That is, the bad guys warn "steer clear of these fuckers." The characters also learn that the order has been linked to Saint Benedict of Nursia, who is (among other things) the patron saint against witchcraft (also the patron saint of gall stones. And Europe. Ain't kidding).

This all just sounding better and better, the characters argue about how these people are doing what they're doing. Alistair finds a contact in the Church who tells him that he heard something about a fire in London a few years back that might have been related, and also that the Order of Saint Quirinus isn't something that the Vatican is prepared to acknowledge...but not for the reasons Alistair might think. It's not so much "secret conspiracy" as "one guy's pet project that the Pope doesn't know about," a group shrouded in secrecy across the board. That's the rumor, anyway.

The characters put out word on the Twilight Network for a Sin-Eater in London who was around during the time to contact them, and do more digging. They found an online video of a young man, apparently a reporter, claiming that this might be his "last broadcast" but that he was going to try to expose "them." One of the people caught in the background of the video was the Bishop of the Youngstown, OH diocese. They looked into that bishop, and found out that he was the Bishop in the Virgin Islands for a while, moved back to the States to take over the Youngstown diocese, and was photographed not long after arriving by a Catholic watchdog group in a decided seedy part of town. He'd later offered plausible explanations for it, but it got the krewe looking at Bishop Murry. They figured that with as many Catholics in his diocese as there were (more than 200,000), he could probably find enough to power a ritual, if he was, in fact, in on it.

At this point, the characters got a ping back on the Network. Alistair took a call from a fella in London who told them about the night he made the Bargain. There was a fire, and he saw four folks stumbled from the building, burnt and dying, and then one of them threw a box in the Thames. One of the burnt guys shot this other one, but the box sank. They retrieved it, though, and the vehicles that were waiting to take the box (about briefcase size, not terribly heavy, apparently, but heavy enough to sink) had Vatican plates.

The English Sin-Eater also told Alistair that to affect a krewe with a ritual, it might not be a matter of raw power. It's just a matter of getting to the krewe as a whole.

With this food for thought (and I apologize for how totally random this all seems; my memory of that night isn't the best), we called it for the night. Next time, they fight orcs.
innocent_man: (geist)
So, two weeks ago tomorrow, [ profile] newbis ran the finale of his Geist story. I didn't do the write-up then because I was leaving for vacation, and haven't had internet access consistently enough to do it. But here we are. I also didn't sweat it because honestly, we didn't find any more niggles that we felt needed to be addressed. So this is just story-stuff (and it's what I can remember, though if John or [ profile] summerschilde want to jump in and correct anything, feel free).

Last time, we drove into town to find zombies killing people apparently at random. Appalled by the horror of watching people we knew getting chewed up, we decided to rally the townsfolk at the church. There, Merisol could use the Stigmata Boneyard to ward ghosts and keep zombies out. We split up, fought off some zombies (I used Cold-Wind Caul and got a bazillion successes again, meaning I floated above the ground and could freeze water on touch, which is just fun), herded people back to the church. We saw people leaving in cars, and tried to get a good count of how many folks were left alive and all.

Merisol, meanwhile, got to the church and discovered that in the tradition of zombie movies, the priest was One of Them (he did not, evidently, kick arse for the Lord). She beat him back, using her kick-ass training dog, and locked him in his office. She set up the Stigmata Boneyard, and he de-animated (presumably because the effects of the Numen animating him ended).

Bobby and Bill got back with some townsfolk, and we herded them down to the basement (after checking it for zombies). We tried to get on the phone and get some help, but a recording told us that we were under quarantine. And then a black helicopter swooped overhead...TFV, perhaps? Anyway, we weren't getting out.

We instead went back to where we'd lost Betsy's trail, and tracked her back toward our house (and the Avernian Gate therein). We engaged in some combat; turns out she was a Sin-Eater, probably Wretched, so we grabbed at her veil (keystone memento), but of course she just pulled it back. Finally we tried talking to her, and she told us to open the gate. We told her to drop the souls she had with her; she refused, and finally we allowed her to take with her the two souls of the people who'd betrayed her in life ("Take only your fair share"). She let the others go, we opened the Gate, and she disappeared through it, leaving Betsy Vargas' body behind.

This leaves the krewe with the question of whether we can continue to live here now, but I think we decided some travel was in order.
innocent_man: (geist)
Next session of my Geist playtest.

First of all, much rejoicing all 'round at the binary Keys. Good call.

Last time (here) the characters had just gotten their asses kicked (drenched, really) by a nasty ghost, and then felt their geists leave them for a moment at the strike of 2AM. Panicked, they went the heck home. They decided to do a little digging and found that the area in which the ghost was lurking had been a big Hooverville back in the Depression, which didn't surprise them much. They decided to head back the following dusk with better gear and little more prep, and see what they could do to calm the old bastard down.

They did so, did the reverse possession thing before approaching (just in case). Robert unlocked the Phantasmal Boneyard to see through ghostly tricks, and as they approached they saw the ghost standing on the water looking pissed. Alistair used Passion Marionette on it to calm it down, and the Sin-Eaters talked to the ghost.

He revealed that he'd been stabbed by the guy whose confession the characters had heard for the food he was carrying, and that he'd still been alive when he'd been dumped into the grate. He died there staring up at the bridge, and over the years he'd come to hate the people driving over it - they, at least, could leave. The characters popped open the grate and took his skeleton, and then Alec used Stigmata Marionette to anchor the ghost to him so he could ride in a car over the bridge, resolving his anchor. The krewe took the ghost back to their Haunt, entered the Underworld, and Alistair and Amber performed the Pass On Ceremony to help him...well, pass on.

During this, the other three characters felt their geists go all distant. Alec got a better read on it (exceptional success on the roll to notice it) and asked his geist what was happening. The geist told him that there was chanting, and that something was calling it away, something hollow...or vacant. Alec, creeped right the fuck out, basically hustled everyone out of there when the Ceremony ended. He spent the rest of the night combing the Twilight Network, looking for information on geists going AWOL.

The other four Sin-Eaters did basically the same thing, but did so by looking through books. They discovered that it might be possible to sever a geist from the Bargain, but it would take pretty powerful magic of one kind or another. The word "Vacant" came up as a way to describe such Sin-Eaters, and at that point, the characters decided to sleep on it.

Not Alec. He stayed up and heard the clock strike two...and away went his geist. The other characters just experienced a weird dream. Rather, their dreams ended and went utterly dark and formless for a while. Alec, again creeped out, prayed and then fell back on a more rational solution: bourbon.

Next morning, Alec, still drunk, came down to breakfast and related what had happened. The characters talked over what they were experiencing, and tried to recall other Sin-Eaters in the area. Alec mentioned he'd put out feelers on the Twilight Network, and Alistair checked the obits for a response (I love that, BTW). Indeed - a fake obit mentioned that the deceased had belonged to the Order of Saint Quirinus.

Next session, they'll be looking into that a little more.

Playtest Notes:

  • Do you get Defense against Stillness Rage? You shouldn't.
  • Does Haunt (or rather, Haunt Fluidity) automatically grant you an Avernian Gate? It implies so, but that should probably be made clear.
  • Why can't you bring clothes and so on into the Underworld? I'm of the opinion that that's a kind of lame holdover from Umbral travel, and it was always more of a pain-in-the-ass than a story quirk there, too. Also, I totally didn't take it into consideration when I wrote crossover stuff for Book of the Dead.
  • Can you Teamwork Ceremonies?
  • The exceptional success for Pass On gives you plasm back. Which isn't that great, since you regain all your plasm for helping a ghost pass on. :)
  • Elemental Marionette: Last paragraph before "Marionette Activation" header: "If the Sin-Eater’s concentration waivers..." Just a little typo to fix. :)
innocent_man: (buttons)
OK, so, last night was [ profile] newbis's Geist playtest. We did some stuff that my playtest didn't; added XP to the characters (50), built a krewe, that kind of thing. Behold, the characters:

  • Bobby Wren (Silent, Pilgrim): My character. Everything you ever wanted to know can be found here.
  • Merisol Elwond (Forgotten, Celebrant): Died in a freak car accident (hit a tree, and then the tree fell on the car). Her geist is this odd, broken-boned thing. She makes ball-joint dolls and sells 'em, and she owns the house that serves as the Haunt.
  • Bill Knoll (Torn, Bonepicker): Devout Catholic who made up his mind to commit suicide by sticking his arm into a press at the factory where he worked, and then changed his mind. He wound up losing his arm at the shoulder, but becoming a Sin-Eater into the bargain. His geist used to be a Mafioso from back in the 20s - contract killer, violent fella.

We took some time to think about our krewe ethos, and what we came up with was that ghosts and geists happen because of excess. Excess desire, hate, whatever, but it's because they just can't let go of enough to pass on (add to this a notion of ebb and flow; if you die during the wrong point in your spiritual life, you linger, but since that could come at any time, it's beneficial to find that point and try and remain there).

We kind of glossed over Aspects a little; Bobby's was the Murderer, Bill's was the Killer (there's a difference) and Merisol's was the Victim. All of our geists are, in their way, cautionary tales about greed, violence or just indifference (Merisol's got sick from an industrial situation, we reckon).

So, anyway, John gave us some Krewe Merits to play with, and here we are out in rural Ohio.

At the start of the game, the krewe had heard that this old abandoned brick schoolhouse, which had heretofore been a hangout for teenagers looking to snog, now had a rep for being haunted. We decided to trek out in the afternoon and have a look. We found the ghost in fairly short order; a schoolmarm who had died in 1917, presumably of a heart attack, waiting for her husband to come home from war. She treated us like naughty students at first, until we infused her with blood and plasm, and then she snapped to and told us a little about herself. Melinda Brubaker, and she just wanted to know if her husband (Robert) had gotten home safely. We told her we'd look into it, and pulled up a floorboard to find her old fountain pen (her anchor). We took that with us so that she wouldn't go back to haunting the place when the smart-making effect wore off.

En route home, we saw a bus overturned in a ditch. Some investigation revealed it was a prison bus, and the driver and cop riding shotgun were dead (apparently they had started bleeding from the ears, eyes and mouth - most peculiar). Someone had left, presumably the prisoner. Bobby saw a ghost started to hightail it away, and used his rope to knock the ghost down. The ghost still wanted to flee, so Bobby gave him the blood/plasm treatment, but he only referred to "her" and vanished.

And about then, the dead bodies got up and started shambling toward us. We beat on them a little, but Merisol noticed the ghost riding them and so we pulled him out, and the zombies collapsed. The ghost ("Mark") claimed that he had been cheating on his wife when a woman had burst in and killed him with an ax, and then was commanded his ghost, apparently. He said that she was summoning him, and we finally let him go when we realized he wasn't going to be any help.

Merisol's cell phone had shorted when she tried to call 911 when we saw the bus, and now Bill's ghostly errand boy, Snitch, showed up and told us that there were dead bodies getting up, and they'd killed the sheriff. We headed into town, Bill using his computer to figure out who this "Betsy" person was.

Turns out Betsy Vargas was a woman who started out by killing her husband and his mistress, and had moved on to killing other unfaithful sorts. She'd been shot by the police, and otherwise "killed," but always revived, and she now had a kind of urban-legend status (or just plain Legend, if you prefer). We got into town...and saw the zombies.

They were killing apparently at random. We've got our work cut out for us. Combat ahoy!

Further Geist thoughts/issues:

  • There was some feeling that the Krewe creation section was a bit...well, thick. Esoteric, you might say. Not easily understood by the casual gamer. Some templates or examples would be helpful.
  • Ethos Commitment should be an advanced action (you roll twice and take the better roll), not a rote action (you reroll any dice that aren't failures so long as one succeeds), because rote actions only work if you get a success, and multiple successes don't matter on degeneration rolls.
  • If the Stigmata Caul lets you go without food or sleep, it needs to last longer than a scene to be useful. Now, one way around that would be to say that it lets you ignore penalties associated with hunger and fatigue, and you just use it when you start to get tired or hungry.
innocent_man: (geist)
OK, last night was our first session (last week, recall, we made characters). We had a hard time getting started, which is nothing to do with Geist per se, just the usual gamer stuff and reviewing a lot of the crunchy bits of the game.


  • Alistair Benjamin Hodge (played by [ profile] docelboze): Silent, Gatekeeper. Ever see The Order? Basically Heath Ledger's character at the end. His geist was once bonded to another Sin-Eater, and he took on the mantle in an elaborate ceremony involving getting stabbed in the heart (the Silent thing made sense, but damned if I can remember why just at the moment). He now hears the last confessions of dying folks who want absolution but who can't get it from the Church officially, for whatever reason. His Archetype might actually change to Pilgrim once the player reads it again. His keystone is the dagger that was used to symbolically kill him.
  • Alec Emmerson (played by [ profile] danieltallon): Torn, Reaper. Shot at Columbine, Alec went on to become a Catholic priest (this is pure coincidence, I swear). He ministers to folks in poverty-stricken areas, trying to prevent senseless, violent deaths. I pointed out that it's interesting that he's working specifically with gang kids, as that's a very different problem than the sort of violence that killed him; perhaps some kind of avoidance on Alec's point. His keystone is a crucifix.
  • Robert Houser (played by [ profile] jadestrick23): Torn, Advocate. Robert is an ex-cop who was murdered on the job protecting a woman from a rapist. The geist that bonded with him was the ghost of a raped and murdered woman, and is a great deal more violent and vengeful than he'd probably like. His keystone is the ring of keys that she was holding when she died.
  • Allison St. James (played by [ profile] hot493): Forgotten, Bonepicker. Trying to work her way through med school, Allison got into the business of cooking meth, not because she had a habit, but because other people did and she wanted to make money off it. Then the meth lab blew up and killed her, and a geist born of a long-dead alchemist bonded with her. Her memento is his mortar and pestle.
  • Amber Thompson (played by [ profile] magicloaf): Forgotten, Necromancer. OK, I need your help here, Lori, because I know Amber died in a car wreck and I know she's working toward occult ghostly knowledge, but because your character concept switched a bit, I've lost some details. Help me fill this in. Anyway, Amber's geist was burned as a witch but first burned with red-hot pokers. Her keystone is one of those pokers.

The game is set in Cleveland (January 29, 2006), because we wanted something that the players knew well and had a good-size Catholic population. Alistair is filthy, stinking rich (inherited from his predecessor), and so he's bought a large house in Lakewood that the characters all use; there's a cemetery attached that forms their Haunt (Utility 0, Fluidity 4, Residue 3).

Tonight, they were headed into one of the crappier areas of the city so that Alistair could hear the confession of one John Slipinski before he died. His krewe was with him for backup; bad neighborhood. They arrived to a beat-up house, and an old woman answered the door, speaking in Polish. Her son guided the characters to the basement, where the old man was basically being ignored as he died. His left eye was swollen shut, and the whole place stank of rotting food. Alistair asked for John's confession, and with labored breaths he told the Sin-Eaters his story.

He'd come here in the 1930s, and had killed a man under the Carnegie Bridge, apparently for food and money. He'd left his body in a grate under the bridge, and now wanted him to have peace and a proper burial, but was too sick to do anything about it himself. He received Eucharist from Alec and died, passing on.

The characters decided to head out to the bridge and have a look around. They searched the area until they found the old grate. They found a death-stain, but because it was so old, they couldn't tell how old it was (even with modifiers for a violent death, it's still better than 30 years old, meaning a -30, which drops it down to a chance die - what I figured is that Sin-Eaters often deal with deaths that are old enough that they can't pinpoint age with any accuracy).

Figuring that this was it, they started talking about ways to pry up the grate and retrieve this guy's body so they could summon him up and help him pass on. But he didn't give them that chance. The characters sense Numina, and suddenly the ghost appeared, using Telekinesis to throw them backwards into the freezing water of the Cuyahoga River.

Several of them pulled themselves out of the river. Alec used Stigmata Marionette on the ghost, imposing a -3 on its attacks and so on. Alistair did the Reverse Possession thing so he could engage it.

Next turn, Alec forced the ghost pull his friends out of the river (that'd be Alec, Amber and Alistair, who'd failed to swim to shore). It did, but tossed them down the bank a ways. Robert use Stigmata Rage on the ghost to hurt it, and Alistair ran up and swung at it (and missed). Alec, at this point, realized that beating the ghost to "death" would give hypothermia time to set in, and commanded the ghost to stand down (these commands are using Stigmata Marionette 3, BTW). The characters left, figuring that the ghost would still be here tomorrow night and they could come back a little more prepared.

As they drove off, a nearby clock struck two and they suddenly felt slow and drugged. Their geists just went away - they had no connection with death, their keystones faded...and then a minute later, it was all back. Needless to say, this freaked them all right out, and they headed back to the mansion with all due haste.


  • The Manifestations/Keys section needs some serious format clarification. Right now, some of the powers have their own headers, but some of what you can do at various dots is buried in text.
  • Also, we have Bestial/Primeval, Silent/Stillness. Terminology needs to be fixed.
  • Haunt Utility needs to be clarified. What exactly does it do? It gives you effective dots in Resources that get used on the Haunt? I'm not at all clear how that would work.
  • There was general feeling at the table that the "spend 1 plasm a turn until Psyche 4" was a bad idea, and considering that Sin-Eaters' main healing trick is to ameliorate damage as it's happening, I agree.
  • Starting plasm is listed as being half your maximum + any dots in "Haunt Liquidity", which I'm pretty sure should be "Haunt Residue", since that's the bit that gives you plasm.
  • Does Clinical Precision work on Sin-Eaters?
  • 1s canceling successes is, in my opinion, a bad idea. I know Vampire does it, but that was a result of the writers not knowing the WoD system yet (remember it was written concurrently with the WoD core). Some of the Keys' drawbacks put this little wrinkle into play, and not only is it another rule to keep track of in an already crunchy game, it strips successes, which is a big deal in a system with a high target number and where 1 success is all you normally want. My recommendation would actually be to drop Key drawbacks altogether; it's not like Sin-Eaters are real uber as it is.
  • One suggestion a player had, if we keep the current Manifestation/Key setup, was to just give people a pool of six dots to start with and let them spread it through Manifestations and Keys as they see fit (obviously taking at least one of each). I think that's got some merit.
  • However, people were very receptive to the idea of Keys being binary rather than scaled.
  • Keystone Mementos: When you're using a Key from your memento, do you get the +3 on the initial activation roll or any subsequent roll? I assumed the former, but it needs to be stated.
  • Does Passion Marionette work on ghosts? Stigmata Marionette explicitly does, but Passion Marionette controls emotions, and ghosts have those.
  • The Manifestation/Keys systems need consistent-making! Stigmata Marionette 3 is Manipulation + Intimidation + activation successes + Marionette. Normally, you wouldn't add the Manifestation dots after initial activation, right?
innocent_man: (geist)
My character was a young man who met his ladylove at college at Duke University in 1998. Bobby Wren wasn't a local boy, he was an Ohio lad, born and bred, and was down at Duke using his rich uncle's kindness to fund his studies.

But then a few short months after he met her (her name was Mina, and she had a smile that fair sparkled in the North Carolina sunshine), his uncle died and he had to go back up north for the funeral.

Now, Bobby Wren had always been a little funny. Said he saw things that weren't there, ghosts in the haystacks, that kind of thing. Said they weren't mean or unfriendly, just hungry, and so he'd leave out a bit of his food for them, even when his folks tanned his hide for failing to finish up dinner. Now that Uncle Gene was dead, Bobby's "sight" came into full focus - he could see and speak with ghosts, and Gene wanted him to clear a few things up about the will. The will, the one that the lawyers read, said that Gene's money was going to Bobby's cousins, the ones that hadn't spoken to their "hick" father in 20 years. Bobby found the real will, the one that named him as the beneficiary, and he was all set to present it.

But life has a funny way about it. Bobby found that will in Gene's old summer home, miles from the ass of nowhere. And while he was out there, a man running from the law found the old cabin and decided to hole up. He crossed paths with Bobby, didn't like the idea of a witness, and shot him in the stomach. Bobby crawled out of that cabin and tried to make it to the road, but he got turned around and headed into the woods. He died miles from home, and his last thought was of her smile.

Hovering over him was something not quite human. Once, it had been a man that died at the end of a noose as a crowd spat and screamed "Bluebeard!" and "Murderer!" Now, it was just Bone Cold, the song on the wind that makes you glad you're indoors, the shadows outside that make you remember just how thin the glass in your windows really is. Bone Cold liked to watch people die, but even though he'd guided the criminal that had shot Bobby Wren here, he'd never seen anybody die with a need in his heart like that. It wasn't too unlike the need that Bone Cold felt, the need to see life end and light fade. And so he brought Bobby Wren back as one of the Silent.

That may have been something of a mistake. Bobby Wren hated Bone Cold from the first second that Deathsight slammed home, but he was grateful to be alive. Bone Cold hated that feeling of love that he got from Bobby Wren, but he was glad to have a body with real fingers, capable of holding a gun. So they made some deals, the two of them.

Bobby Wren agreed that some folks did need killing, and those folks, he'd kill and let Bone Cold enjoy it. Bone Cold then agreed that he wouldn't nag Bobby Wren about killing the innocent. Bobby Wren agreed that he'd avoid situations that would lead to him getting arrested (Bone Cold, having been through the justice system once, has no desire to do it again), and Bone Cold agreed that should Bobby Wren ever return to Raleigh, he could die without fear of Bone Cold raising him up.

With those agreements, Bobby Wren went after the man who'd shot him, and threw him off a bridge in front of a semi truck. Bone Cold watched, and then the two of them - the Sin-Eater - went home to collect Bobby Wren's inheritance.

After getting the money, Bobby Wren packed a bag and headed out. He avoided Raleigh like the plague, and he never saw his ladylove again. In point of fact, he'd never told her how he felt. He'd meant to, but he'd been pulled away by his uncle's (and then his own) death. Now, the love he'd felt for her, the need that had inspire Bone Cold to bring him back, was more abstract and wistful, and Bobby Wren knew if he ever found her and told her the truth that Bold Cold might do something drastic (he isn't sure what). So he's never been back, but he knows that if he ever wants to lay it all down and cross the Avernian Gate again, that's where he needs to go. If he dies in Raleigh, at least he will die free.

Bobby's theme song:

innocent_man: (beast)
Links to Hunter and Innocents playtest logs, in order to make it easier for folks from WW Marketing to find it all. If you can't access them, don't worry. You will eventually.

Innocents playtest
Hunter 1
Hunter 2
Hunter 3
Hunter 4
innocent_man: (redcaps)
Tonight was the final chapter of our Hunter playtest. That said, I wouldn't be too surprised if we wind up revisiting these characters at some point in the future. They're fun. :)

Right, so, we left off in a hotel room following the revelation of the curse of Ashwood Abbey and Julian's decision to go out to the camp tonight and face the music for betraying Scissor-Man. The characters decided that a) they should all go with him, and b) having some way to combat emotional manipulation would be good. So we got to try out the "learning Tactics in shorter time periods" rules. Burning some Practical XP to raise Empathy ratings, they practiced, and bought, the Moral Support Tactic.

They spent most of the day - about six hours - on that. Then they headed for dinner. While there, they discussed their options, and figured that if Marcus Ogilvy had set up bank accounts and the like back when he was alive, they might be able to track him that way. Julian made some calls and learned that Ogilvy had, in fact, set up numerous accounts that would sustain themselves over the years, and that he'd just cleaned one out in Detroit not long ago.

Meanwhile, Graham, wanting to find some cold-forged iron, figured that checking the antique stores in the area might help. He and Dyson went shopping and found a set of fireplace irons that were apparently iron enough to count. Graham also asked the shopkeeper if anyone had come in to sell something recently. Someone had, in fact, and he fit Ogilvy's description. The item he sold, which Dyson promptly bought, was a mantle-piece clock.

They gave that to Alice, who, entranced, moved the hands to midnight. The back of the clock popped open, and there was a note that only she could read. "If you are well-disposed toward Spring," it read, "contact me at the following number. I won't be here long." Alice called - and Ogilvy answered. He agreed to meet with the characters, and they trucked out to what turned out to be an abandoned diner.

About then, Dyson and Julian got a text message saying that the archives in London had been breached. Julian called Katherine, and she told him that as far as she knew, something had entered the room, either flew or climbed around on the ceiling, opened the safe and made off with one of Marcus Ogilvy's old journals. Julian had a sneaking suspicion that this was the work of Vellum, but of course didn't mention that.

They arrived at the diner. There, Ogilvy told them a little about what had happened to him, and answered some of their questions. He'd never heard of a "curse" on the Abbey, and more and more the group started to suspect that Katherine was either wrong or lying about that. Ogilvy also related that famous story about how he and his friends were attacked in the midst of an orgy at a standing stone, slaughtered for no good reason. He told them that it wasn't about just getting drunk and fucking - sure, that was part of it. But it was about being free, standing up for the right to have pleasure and not being defined by the mores of the day. He felt that he had been ahead of his time, but compared the Victorian society to modern-day America in some ways. Julian, now meeting the founder of the Abbey, saw the organization it was meant to be, rather than what it had become.

Ogilvy offered to help them defeat Shuck and his crew (whom he referred to as "Loyalists"). He made a pledge with them, ensorcelling them, but making them swear not to hurt or betray him. The Mask fell away, and they saw him as he was now - wrinkled, yellowed, and smelling of burnt wax and sex. He also offered to accompany them. When Lex questioned that, he said that going to face Shuck now, with allies on his side, was better than waiting until he was all alone.

Out at the camp, the characters noticed a new car in the lot that hadn't been there before, but figured it for Shuck's. They walked up the hill a ways and saw Shuck, Scissor-Man and Razor Molly standing in front of the lodge doors. As they approached, they heard a gunshot and saw a puff of earth. "That's far enough," called Shuck.

The two groups negotiated a bit, but it was tough - the motley could hear the hunters, thanks to Scissor-Man's enhanced hearing, but the hunters had no real bead on the changelings. Finally, it become obvious that the changelings would be just as happy killing them all, so Graham made ready to shoot at the sniper (whom he'd seen on the roof of the lodge - the hunters, BTW, were wearing flak jackets and had night-vision goggles). But just before he could, Alice whispered to Scissor-Man that they were about to attack...and Scissor-Man sadly told Shuck.

The cell enacted the Synchronicity Tactic, which I'm sad to report has been cut from the book ("a damn shame," according to one playtester, though I see Chuck's point in doing it). The sniper (Pretty Bill) shot Graham. Gunplay ensues, and Dyson charged Shuck with his poker, wounding him. Shuck responded by giving Dyson a severe case of agoraphobia.

Graham shot the sniper and disabled his weapon. The sniper switched to an automatic weapon and sprayed the characters in view. Ogilvy yelled, "Gun!" and Lex tossed him one. He shot...and Shuck slumped to the ground, smoke coming out of his mouth (yay for Shooter's Bargain!). Dyson, free of the magic, took a razor hit from Molly...but with Shuck dead, Scissor-Man was free. He used his Cat's Cradle on Molly, and she fell immobile. Dyson bashed her head in with the fireplace poker. John, the bird-changeling, leapt through the window into the lodge and vanished into the Thorns. Pretty Bill, presumably, did likewise.

The characters regrouped, and Scissor-Man thanked the hunters for freeing him. Then he tensed up - someone was coming. The group looked west and saw Katherine, of all, people, and two bodyguards walking toward them. She greeted Ogilvy, and Julian mentioned that there was something she should see, and asked Ogilvy to open the door. He opened a gateway to the Hedge, and then things got weird.

Katherine started muttering in Latin - "Open the book and see the page." Simultaneously, Julian whispered "Redtooth, Redtooth has two teeth." And both Fae appeared. Vellum crashed through upper window, flying and night-black wings (yeah, I know he doesn't fly in Autumn Nightmares, but I thought he should). Redtooth, Redtooth appeared in the main doorway. Two flicks of his tongue, and Razor Molly and Shuck's bodies were gone into his massive gullet.

The battle was now joined. The bodyguards protected Katherine. Vellum vanished from sight. One bodyguard grabbed Alice and put a gun to her head, but Ogilvy leapt in and touched the gun...which promptly fell apart. Lex held the bodyguard at gunpoint.

Meanwhile, the other bodyguard fought with Dyson, but didn't do too well. He took a blow to the head and tried using his stun-gun, but Dyson was too strong for that and knocked him down.

Meanwhile, Katherine started muttering in Latin, too. Graham noticed that she was finishing the rhyme that Vellum had started. About then, Argus stabbed her in the chest with a needle full of tranquilizers, and Katherine passed out.

Julian was dragging her toward the gateway when Vellum appeared and grabbed her in his claws. Alice shot, aiming at Vellum's claws, and he dropped Katherine. Once again, Redtooth, Redtooth opened his maw...and Katherine was gone. The gluttonous Fae returned to the Hedge, his bargains fulfilled.

Vellum, meanwhile, was furious, but Dyson threw his poker at him. He missed, but Vellum apparently decided he didn't want to stick around and fight foes armed with iron. About this time, too, Alice started singing ("How Can I Keep From Singing?") at Ogilvy's request. Enraged, Vellum flew back into the window and into the Thorns.

Lex, about now, tried to shoot the remaining bodyguard. He shot him in the chest, and the bodyguard grappled him (the characters aren't the only ones wearing vests). Lex wrestled free, but the bodyguard ran in the trees, out of sight. The other bodyguard, now bleeding from the head wound that Dyson gave him, related that Katherine had told them that the cell was in league with those things from the Thorns...which apparently they were.

They offered Ogilvy the opportunity to come back to the Abbey, but he didn't want to make himself a target for hunters or the Fae. He and Scissor-Man got in Shuck's car and headed out. All Ogilvy asked was that the characters make the Abbey what it was always supposed to be.

The characters picked up their shell casings and cleaned up a bit, and headed out, Alice's song still in their heads.
innocent_man: (Default)
I find that if I do these write-ups quickly, they come out with more detail. Besides which, I'll be busy this week.

So, last time, I said the first words today would be "roll initiative." That didn't turn out to be exactly true, but it was pretty close.

There was a knock at the door - it was the bellhop from downstairs, saying that the characters had a package waiting. Dyson, who'd answered the door, said to bring it up. The strange creature in the bathroom stepped backwards and vanished again, and Argus ran out into the room to keep everyone informed. Alice, meanwhile, had seen the bellhop somehow leave his image behind as he walked away. His real image was a white guy in a black shirt, with big weird eyes.

Dyson ran across the hall and knocked on the door. A guy in a robe answered, apparently flushed from sex. Dyson offered him a grand to let him in to look out the peephole; the guy agreed. The girl he was with got her robe on, and recognized Dyson from his Olympic days...and then Dyson felt the razor blade at his throat. The girl had pulled a straight razor, of all things.

Dyson disarmed her, but she pulled a second razor and sliced him. He screamed for help. The others rushed out, but suddenly there were two more in the hallway - a man in dark glasses fiddling with a cat's cradle, and the man in a black shirt that Alice had seen.

In the room, the man with the claw-like fingers emerged again from the bathroom and grabbed Argus. Julian responded by shocking Argus with his cattle-prod, dropping him to the floor.

In the next room, the man in the robe shot Dyson (yelling to the woman, "Molly, duck!"), but his vest absorbed the blow pretty well. Dyson slashed at the woman with the razor he'd taken off her, and then bolted out the door. The man in the black shirt gave a loud whistle, and then the attackers left. The dude in the room backed into the bathroom and disappeared again.

Argus shakily tended to Dyson, and the characters packed up and headed for the parking lot. There, though, they discovered that their cars had been disabled (distributor caps removed), and Lex called the front desk to discover that their packages (with all the gear they'd ordered) had already been picked up and signed for.

(About this time, we stopped and did the Practical Experience thing, winding up with 11 points, I think. The group had already spent some points on Skills and whatnot, and had used Synchronicity during the fight, so that was neat.)

The cops arrived. Julian, Lex and Graham stood off to the side, but Alice, Dyson and Argus got noticed. Alice started bawling that her car wasn't working, and Argus claimed to be Dyson's doctor (but Dyson still got taken away in an ambulance). Alice wound up getting a ride to a parts store to replace the caps, and then joined up with the other folks.

Dyson and Argus, meanwhile, got separate questions at the hospital. Dyson claimed to have stalker problems, and that Lex (who'd rented the room) was his buddy and sometime employer. The cop later called Lex's corporation and got through to Lex, who claimed not to know Dyson. Yi.

Meantime, Argus got paged and wound up talking with Ogilvy. Ogilvy said that his former master - Vellum - was looking for him, but that Argus and the others were members of the Abbey and should be able to figure this out. Back in Dyson's room, Argus noted that Ogilvy had apparently slipped him another of those thorns, and jammed it into Dyson's hand, which healed up his wounds. He then helped Dyson check out of the hospital and the group took off.

They checked into a cheap motel and did some research. "Molly" turned up a story from Detroit about "Razor Molly," a kind of urban legend that sounded very much like a vampire - pale, seduces men and leaves them drained and in pain, if they're ever seen again. Alice also found a page with a bunch of latitude and longitude points, along with "keys." Included was the "key" at Innisfree. Doing that key backward, as Alice had, summons "Them," whatever that meant. Alice continues to worry.

With that, the cell looked for a nightclub and found one down by the docks that looked promising.

Arriving at this club, they saw the man in the dark glasses at the bar. Julian and Alice approached him and he seemed willing to talk with them. He was drinking tea, and showed them the leaves. "Betrayal," he said of their future, "betrayal and pain." He introduced himself as the "Scissor-Man," and showed Alice how that cat's cradle worked - he could use it to immobilize her. He warned them against direct action, and demonstrated his skill by looking into Julian's mind and pulling out something that scared him - the song that Mr. Powell had sung all those years ago.

Scissor-Man told them that he wasn't sure what Shuck (his boss) wanted with them, but that Shuck might be willing to talk with them. He made a call, pulling out his earplug (apparently he's got sensitive ears), and then he and Razor Molly (who'd been hunting to heal up the damage that Dyson had done) took the characters for a walk through the Hedge. Scissor-Man warned them to stay on the path, and told them the story of why he made a deal with the "Gentry," as he called them (if you've got Changeling, check out the full-page fiction before Chapter Four, and imagine that going horribly wrong - that's what happened to him). He also told Alice, if "They" take you, shoot yourself. It's better than going to Hell.

They arrived at a bank of thorns and Razor Molly opened it with one of her straight razors. Inside, they saw Shuck (the man in the black shirt, now inky-black himself) and John Capp, the bird-like man. The fourth guy, Pretty Bill, wasn't visible, but Shuck indicated that he was nearby and armed with a rifle. And they all sat down to talk.

The crew was working for Vellum, Shuck revealed, trying to recapture Ogilvy. Shuck had reckoned that by ruffling the character's feathers a little, he could send them back to the Abbey and made get lead to Ogilvy, but that hadn't worked out. He said that he bore no malice toward them, though, and agreed to have Scissor-Man show them back, though he couldn't promise that there would never be problems between them. He did mention, though, something that chilled them. "If we want to kill people like you," he said, "we wait until you sleep and then Molly comes out of your mirror and slits your throat. Or Pretty Bill pops you in the head when you walk out your door. Or Scissor-Man reaches into your dreams and drives you crazy. We don't need to fight you."

Before they left, Dyson gave Molly her card. Molly, it seems, really is a fan of Dyson's.

(Another note: They got a few points of Practical Experience for this exchange.)

Back in the Hedge, Scissor-Man talked with Alice (she held his arm, afraid in the Thorns). He mentioned seeing his soul hanging on the thorns as They took him away. He was leading them back to the club, but at that point Julian very quietly started muttering, "Redtooth, Redtooth has two teeth...".

Scissor-Man, of course, heard. He's a Cyclopean. And he wasn't pleased. He tried to leave the path, but Alice, with strength belying her dice pool, kept him there. Lex tackled him, though, and sent them both off the path into the Thorns. Lex released him and Scissor-Man said that he'd seen betrayal in the characters' future, but hadn't expected this. He showed Lex back to the path and buggered off.

Redtooth, Redtooth arrived. Alice was hysterical with anger and fear, and promised the hungry Fae two meals if he'd go away. He agreed, and even opened a gate for them. They emerged back at Innisfree.

Alice stomped away into the woods (Graham followed). Julian explained what he'd done and why (he was trying to repay his debt), but admitted he'd screwed up horribly. The characters hotwired a car and went back to the hotel, where Alice took another room and called Katherine at the Abbey.

Katherine asked about Ogilvy and Alice told her that she'd seen him. Katherine told her that Abbey was cursed - the members would die horribly, aging beyond their years, if the Abbey stopped recruiting. She also mentioned that Julian's family had a special history in the Abbey, but not what. She said that Ogilvy - or perhaps Vellum! - knew something about the Abbey's history that might help break this curse.

Julian and company called her, too (she called back; she was talking with Alice, after all) and they told her much the same as what Alice had. She asked if she could help, and Julian tried to lure her out there with wondrous tales of the Thorns.

Graham went into Alice's room and kept her company. While she slept, he looked into the Abbey's records and found stories of creatures that behaved this way - faeries. He learned about their association with iron, and that they apparently don't go back on their word.

Everyone else slept. Julian dreamed, of course, and in the dream he met the Scissor-Man. The changeling showed him Alice, changed into Powell and Katherine, and basically tormented him, but Julian stood firm and apologized for what he'd done. Scissor-Man said that he couldn't hide anything from Shuck, and Shuck would insist on revenge. He arranged with Julian to come out to the camp the next night, and there they'd put things right - whatever that might mean. Julian said he was willing to face whatever punishment that meant.

In the morning, Julian told the cell about the dream and said he was going to the camp that night. The others, of course, insisted on going, too. Today, however, they want to try and find Ogilvy.

Next week: The exciting conclusion!
innocent_man: (morbo)
No point in posting Matt-stuff in this space, because it's filtered. With that in mind, let's get to Hunter!

Last time, the characters killed a vampire in Argus' first hunt with the Abbey. They got some Practical Experience out of it, and so the first thing we discussed tonight was spending it. The group really wanted the Harvest Tactic, but were having trouble with the pre-reqs (which doesn't stop them having it, just using it).

I think, BTW, that this is going to be a good check on the problem of "getting PXP and loading up on Tactics", because making sure that everyone has the necessary pre-reqs is going to require spending PXP or normal XP on those traits. Bears noting also that tier-one and tier-two hunter cells are going to get Tactics more often, because they don't need to buy Endowments, and all hunters are free of that pesky Blood Potency/Gnosis/Wyrd/Prima-Urge/Azoth thing.

Anyway, moving on. With that intention (Harvest) on the table, the characters trekked up to an Abbey mansion for Argus' coming out party. Lots of congrats, and Katerine O'Boylan was there (see under the cut for the fic that [ profile] nearside wrote to meet Katherine). Julian had warned Alice about Katherine, but tried to stick near her (Alice) anyway, just to keep her safe.

Katherine talked with Lex and then Alice about the future of the cell. Dinner is served, and the cell is seated near Katherine. They mention their desire to get scientific data and samples and whatnot (and drugs to give the Abbey; remember Julian's looking to destroy the Abbey from within). Katherine tells them that Lt.-Col. Colhurst down there (the gruff-looking fellow missing his left eye) pretty much pioneered that trick, so he'll teach them tomorrow.

Katherine finds them and says that she has a good assignment for them. Marcus Ogilvy, the founder of the Abbey, was supposed to have died in 1855 in a fight with (she opens a book and shows them a sketch of a three-armed goblin) this. But now, we've got a photo from Toronto taken a few days ago that indicates he's alive and well...or at least walking around. If it is him, as Julian thinks, he stands to do a lot of damage or provide a lot of information to the Abbey. If not, as Lex thinks, he's still wandering around with our founder's face on, and that's not cool. But we don't know where he is, so no point leaving now. Go rest up.

Tomorrow rolls around, and we try out the "learning a Tactic" system with some RP thrown in (allowing me to do a quasi-John Cleese in Eric the Viking for the Lieutenant). The characters practice all day; meantime, Argus has bought Occult 2 (normally I don't allow going from 0 to 2 so quickly, but we've only got three sessions and it'd be nice for them to have a useful Tactic, and Argus is really best suited to be the primary actor). At the end of it, Julian, Graham, Argus and Alice can participate in the Tactic. Argus can be primary actor and Graham (now with Occult 4, since Occult is an Asset Skill for him) can be the secondary who calls out what to cut off.

After the training, we make the "finalization roll," and the player comes up with 7 successes. The Tactic costs a whopping 6PXP, plus all the points spent on getting individual folks' traits up to snuff, of course. That leaves enough left over for sundries later.

Katherine finds the cell and tells the hunters that Ogilvy was spotted heading for Traverse City, MI, but no one's sure why. The hunters spring into action, getting flak jackets and various weapons geared up and chartering air travel to the city (remember, two of these people have Resources 5).

The cell, drained and wasted from being thrown to the ground 1000 times, goes to freshen up. Alice goes and gets a massage. Katherine comes to visit her, and gives her a taste of her special port (see fiction). The two of them wind up, well, doing what the Abbey does best.

Julian, meanwhile, is doing research with Graham, Argus and Lex. They discover that Traverse City and the surrounding area have a weird pattern of missing people. Folks go missing, and then return a few hours or days later, but with "lost time." This especially seems prominent from a now-defunct summer camp called Innisfree (now, where might I have seen that name before?). In fact, the camp director went missing once a few years back...and is missing now.

That's the only lead the cell has, so they follow it. Gearing up, the hunters fly to Traverse City, rent a couple of vans, and truck out to the camp.

Weirdness ensues almost immediately. They find a lot of cars parked here, from all over the country, but no one's gotten into them in a few days. Graham finds a bizarre scrap of paper, reading: "KEY: 12, 3, 6, 9, step forward, turn around, step back". Graham, Dyson and Lex track people's movements from the cars, while Julian, Alice and Argus walk down to a house they spotted on the way in. That house belonged, apparently, to Eric Schultz, the now-missing onetime director of this camp.

In the house, Argus finds a swath of discoloration on the doorjam. Looking closer, he realizes it's from a gigantic tongue. Alice finds that the room upstairs has been broken into from outside (Larceny 5, remember) but nothing's missing and the only damage is from the wind. The phone's off the hook, so Argus redials, and gets a woman who hands the phone to her daughter when she hears the word "Innisfree." When Argus says something about investigating missing people, the daughter hangs up. Also in the kitchen, the trio finds bloodstains as though someone entered bleeding, but no blood on the doorjam or outside. Julian and Alice hotwire some of the cars and move them to block the road, just to deter others from coming in.

In the lodge, things are just as weird. There's evidence to suggest that people left their cars and walked up the hill to the lodge, but in the dust in the main room, there are only a few sets of prints. And, it looks like someone climbed straight up the wall. There are notches in the doorjam going out, at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock.

The hunters regroup and discuss this "key." Finally, Julian taps at the four points, and steps forward. Alice sees the room behind him get muted, as though fading away. He takes a step back, and flies up into the air, trapped by a snare. The hunters start forward, but he stops them and cuts himself down. He steps forward across the threshold...and vanishes. The GPS doesn't find him. He doesn't answer his radio. He's gone away.

Meanwhile, in a land of briars and thorns, Julian hears something horrible and heavy trudging around in the background. "Redtooth, Redtooth, has two teeth," it says. "Redtooth, Redtooth likes to eat." Julian converses very politely with Redtooth, Redtooth, and he reveals that he has seen Ogilvy (not by name, but by picture) and that yes, he can help Julian find him - if Julian gets him a meal before the next full moon. Julian agrees, and the giant creature tells him that the door will reopen in an hour, as long as the sky stays blue.

The cell, meanwhile, is going nuts. They can't find Julian, and now it's starting to cloud up. Alice, in desperation, performs the knocking key backwards, and is rewarded by a thump and a ripple, like an earthquake. She feels it, and Julian, now checking out the carnage in the field (remember that?) feels it, too. Redtooth, Redtooth shakes its head, and mutters that Alice is in trouble.

Finally, the portal reopens, and Julian steps out. Redtooth, Redtooth is standing behind him, and everybody makes a quick Morality roll to keep their heads on straight. Argus fails, and gulps down his entire stash of pain pills in an attempt to get the image of the giant toad-beast out of his head. He collapses, stoned to the point of being comatose, and Dyson (who as a professional athlete knows a little about medicine) gives him a shot to counteract the effects. But he fucks up the dosage, and Argus goes into shock and starts convulsing.

Frantically, Alice goes to get one of the cars they used to block the road. As she hotwires, a man taps her on the leg. It's Ogilvy. He warns her that now his master has been alerted, and will come for her to lock her away in the labyrinth for 100 years, just as happened to him. Alice asks what that did to him, and he shows her - he's wrinkled, yellowed, jaundiced and gray-eyed, but only for a moment. He hands her a thorn and tells her to jam it into her wounded friend's palm, and then he runs off.

Alice does this, and manages to do it without drawing any notice...except from Julian, who lets it go for the moment. Argus wakes up (the 6 lethal damage he took converted to bashing), and feels nauseated but alive. The hunters retire to their hotel room to discuss it.

What has happened to Ogilvy? What is happening to Alice? And why, whenever anyone says "Redtooth," does she hear the correction "Redtooth, Redtooth?"

In the bathroom, Argus lifts his head from the toilet and sees the shower door open. A man with a hook-like nose and claws steps from the shower, and behind him Argus sees the thorns. They fade, and the man becomes normal-looking. He holds a threatening finger to his lips and sends a text message with his phone.

There comes a knock at the hotel room door.

We'll see who's there next time.

Julian's Meeting )
innocent_man: (Default)
Please note: This is a playtest. Some of the aspects of Hunter: The Vigil that you read about here may have been removed from the final product. Just lettin' ya know.

This chronicle needs a name, but I ain't thought of one yet.

You'll recall that these characters had a really bad night back in 1990. Let's update:

  • Julian's father died on the job some years back, leaving Julian fantastically wealthy and in his Dad's old job as a recruiter for the Abbey. He's been working on finding real monsters in high society, and getting them admitted to the Abbey. This way, they die and the Abbey is weakened. Profession: Socialite.
  • Alice has become a socialite and a high-class thief. She gives away or fritters much of what she steals; she's not in it for the gain. Julian's been keeping a very close eye on her. Profession: Criminal.
  • Alexander (Lex) has made his money working for a weapons company, testing new engines of death and firearms and so on. Profession: Professional.
  • Argus has become an infectious disease doctor and diagnostician, and has also become hooked on pain pills to control the pain from his leg (yes, [ profile] matrexsvigil is playing House, which is better than playing Smith from Shoot 'Em Up). Profession: Doctor.
  • Dyson's father was murdered some years back. Throat slit and head bashed with a tire iron. That drove Dyson away from his Olympic career and into kicking ass for the Abbey. He and Julian are some of the local bigwigs. Profession: Athlete.
  • Graham, over time, has become a professional ghost-hunter and easily the most knowledgeable person in the cell about the occult. Profession: Occult Investigator.

We spent most of the evening spending XP (I gave them all 75) and talking about Tactics. At the end of the expenditure, a couple of them had Professional Training 5 and Resources 5, which means that they'll be able to afford just about whatever technological apparatus they need. I gave them one Tactic; they chose Synchronicity, because it was the only one that they had the pre-reqs for (though they were interested in Net, Staking and Harvest).

And then, the hunt! We started off in medias res, chasing a vampire north from New York City. This guy had been shooting people with a 12-gauge, and then draining their blood. Local cops had tipped off the cell (several of them have contacts in the police - OK, Professional Training 5 makes you obscenely well-connected), and so they found the dude and pursued him. This, by the way, was Argus' first hunt.

They pursued the vampire out of the city, and his car left the road and rolled down an embankment into some trees. They peeked over the edge and saw him hide, and looked to Argus for advice. They hemmed and hawed a bit too long, and finally took off down the hill, but Argus tripped (Lame Flaw) and rolled to the bottom. Julian grabbed his cane on the way down, and they found the vampire's trail. Note: Tracking is hard when no one has much Survival.

They followed the trail into the woods, and heard a gunshot. Dyson rushed off and found a dude bleeding from a gunshot wound and in shock. Argus arrived and patched him up, and Lex called the police (which got some grousing from the other hunters, since it meant they had to haul ass). They followed the vampire's trail down the dirt road, trying to stay near Argus, but Dyson and Alice got ahead. Dyson heard a noise and crouched, and the vampire shot him.

The fight was joined. The players put it to Argus' player about whether to use the Tactic, but they decided not to. Dyson ran over to the vampire and tried to disarm him with his sword (remember, Olympic fencer) but failed. The vampire cocked the shotgun, but Graham took a shot with his pistol and knocked the gun away (probably saving Dyson's life, as a shotgun blast at point-blank might have finished him). The vampire frenzied, but Alice ran over and grappled him, and Julian followed suit. Lex, who had been hiding and waiting for a shot, ran over and put two rounds (Gunslinger) into the vampire at close range, and Dyson, recuperating, risked some Willpower on his sword attack, gaining 9-again.

He got, oh, about 11 successes, and took the fucker's head off.

The vampire crumbled to ash, its head rolling over and landing at Argus' feet. Argus, now finally believing in vampires, did not wind up with a derangement, but did pop some pills. He patched up Dyson, and the hunters got the hell out before the cops swarmed the area. They also remembered to chase their brass after the fight, removing traces (exceptional success on Julian's Investigation roll to find said brass helped).

OK, so, for that scene, they got 15 Practical Experience. I'm interested to see how they divide it up and what happens next time, which will be 11/11.
innocent_man: (funtime)

Your Score: The Intellectual

57 % Talent, 45 % Exuberance

Your the type who tries to dominate the screen with one or two well placed monologues. Nobody expects anything crazy and you don't deliver. You make people think or, at least, you think that you do. But really, someone is still thinking. So good enough.

Link: The What is Your Type Cast? Test written by Icarus__ on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Teh Playtest: Innocents )
innocent_man: (funtime)
Tonight we got together to make characters for the eventual Hunter game. The characters are starting out as kids in the year 1990, students at a prestigious boarding school in New England (probably Massachusetts, but I dunno yet). [ profile] dandelionclock, that probably means I'll be using your scenario.

If you're on this filter, it's because you are a playtester or an author on one of the books involved, and in any case you're NDA'd up. So, here's the list of character:

  • Alexander LaCroix (played by [ profile] danieltallon). 10 years old, 5th grade, this kid plays soccer for the school team and is darned quick on his feet. Manipulative and dishonest, but will cover you if you need an alibi (and, y'know, you're his friend). Asset: Calm. Fault: Dishonest.
  • Alice Devereaux (played by [ profile] ulaliya). 9 years old, 5th grade, wants the attention her parents won't give her so she skips out of class and otherwise gets in trouble. Handy with lockpicks. Has the Guardian Angel Merit, which I'm fully intending on having fun with. Asset: Creative. Fault: Hyperactive.
  • Julian Forsythe (played by [ profile] nearside). 12 years old, 8th grade, the oldest of the bunch. A well-known nice guy at school, equally at home in most cliques. His dad is a member of Ashwood Abbey (though Julian doesn't know the details, he just knows Dad's into some weird shit). Merits are spread the heck out, but this kid's got lots of friends. Asset: Optimistic. Fault: Egotistical.
  • Argus Castle (played by [ profile] matrexsvigil). 11 years old, 6th grade, the boy genius (to the point of the Mental Prodigy Merit with the Study Skill). Likes to read college-level textbooks, already wants to be a doctor. Has an aide that his parents assigned to "help him in class." A loner by choice. Asset: Calm. Fault: Egotistical.
  • Graham Walker (played by [ profile] hobbesthetiger). 10 years old, 5th grade. Knows some shit about ghosts, but mostly he knows shit about everything (Trivia Hound Merit). New money, and catches some shit about that (his dad struck is big investing in this rising computer thing; hope he gets out before the dotcom bust). Asset: Creative. Fault: Brash.
  • Dyson Neely (played by [ profile] rook330). 12 years old, 8th grade, an Olympian-in-training (fencing). His dad pushes him to WIN, and he's got a local coach who comes to the academy to train him while other folks have gym class. Got a pet dog named Duke who would die for him. Asset: Brave. Fault: Brash.

That's what we've got. The first game is schedule for October 7th, and then we see what weirdness has infected the boarding school.


innocent_man: (Default)

January 2013

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