Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Demon: Tautology Forecast, part 1

Last Monday, we played a playtest game of Demon: The Champaggin (didn't know you were such a coin-assuer). I didn't get the write-up done before now because I've been busy writing Demon. So yeah.

I actually got to play in this one, which is a rarity. The game is set in Cleveland, and our characters are all aware of each other and more or less friendly, but largely unaffiliated. Our characters:


  • Lee Colvin (Messenger/Integrator): Lee is a big, burly, bearded preacher. He was sent to build up a following as a kind of guerrilla minister, doing sermons out of the back of his RV. He was then told to deliver a sermon of apocalyptic portents, and Fell rather than (as he saw it) end the world. It never occurred to him that his portents might not be true. (My character, so I might wax long-winded a bit.)
  • Yuri Ivanov (Destroyer/Saboteur): After the Fall (he Fell for love, or at least appreciation of human beauty), Yuri was a hitman for the Russian mob. He cashed in a soul pact to take on the identity of a tattoo artist in Cleveland. 
  • Anton Gaspar (Guardian/Tempter): Anton is our other "connected" guy, but he's rich and trades in favors and pacts. (I don't know much about his backstory, 'cause I'm not running this game.)
  • Mnemosyne (Messenger/Inquisitor): She goes by Harriet now, and she works at a library in a lousy part of Cleveland. As I recall, her library was supposed to be destroyed (it was part of her angelic mission), and she Fell to preserve it. 
  • Shawn King/Krispie (Psychopomp/Tempter): Krispie had been a demon once before. She Fell, was recaptured, recycled, and some part of her remembered the freedom. Her catalyst for Falling on her character sheet is listed as "No Disassemble/Fuck This!".
So, we begin our story in Cleveland one evening. Anton, in his office, gets a phone call. The caller ID doesn't register it, and his secretary (when asked) didn't hear the phone ring or route the call to him. The caller just says a series of numbers (which Anton memorizes, being a demon) and hangs up. 

The numbers don't mean anything to him, and he can't figure out where the call came from, so he calls Harriet. She checks the numbers and, sure enough, she finds that they correspond to two books in her system. One is Cyberbullying by Lucia Raatma, and the other Wanted: Alive or Undead by Kerrelyn Sparks. Harriet had no idea whether they had any demon-related relevance. Anton, still wondering, called up Krispie (who is a hacker and information junkie). Krispie drives an RTA bus and her line stops right in front of Harriet's library, so she decided they'd get together once her shift was over. Anton played with the numbers some more, and figured out that they also worked as a coordinate: in Lakeview Cemetery.

Anton let Krispie and Harriet know, and then called up Lee and Yuri (in case he need muscle or, like, someone preached to, since Lee is no great shakes in a fight. Unless he goes making Hellhounds, but that's another story). They all arrived in a lot across from the cemetery entrance, and wandered across to look for the site. And indeed, they found the coordinates - a gravestone. The name on it was Lucia Sparks (note the authors of the books). The grave was also obviously Infrastructure.

Now worried that they might be intruding on some angelic operation, the demons decided to dig a little further. Literally. Yuri and Lee grabbed shovels out of the back of Lee's RV and started digging, figuring that it was in keeping with the God-Machine to bury a Lynchpin. The others looked around a little further, and felt Aether coming from the ruins of a building that had been recently torn down. Looking in, they found a demon...in demonic form. She was very short, almost child-sized, and obviously frightened.

She told the characters that she'd been sent to seduce a minister at a nearby Baptist church, but when she'd gotten there, she had been unable. She felt nothing for him, just a revulsion for the situation, and Fell. But she didn't have a Cover, which was strange - most of the time, when an angel Falls, the keep whatever Cover they had (which is why Lee is still a street preacher, Harriet is still a librarian, etc.). Exposed like this, the demon was a liability for all of them - demons in demonic form attract angels, and no one was in a hurry to fight angels tonight.

Meanwhile, Yuri and Lee dug to the grave until the shovels went clunk. They opened the coffin and found no body, but a scroll. Unrolling it (because if there's one thing you should always do in a horror game, it's unroll scrolls you find in graves), it turned out to be a soul pact. Yikes. But actually, this turns out to be a bit of serendipity, because the Cover-less demon could use this soul pact to get herself a Cover...if we can find whoever signed this pact.

The characters all got back together and the demon rode in the RV with Lee. She asked some questions about Falling and what this all meant, and the other players reflected that maybe this wasn't the smartest idea, letting her ride with the Integrator (Lee just wanted to go home). Lee asked her name; she said she didn't have one. Lee named her "Tamar."

The demons all got together at Yuri's Safe Place (his studio, I believe) and talked this out. They decided that they should go talk to the minister she was supposed to seduce and try and figure out what was going on. Lee and Harriet went (they're kind of the most socially adept of the characters). They talked to the minister, who was an older, and kind of obese, fellow. Trying to get information on this required some finesse ("Say, anybody try and seduce you lately?"), and neither of us have any of the powers that make people talk, but eventually Lee got an exceptional success on a Persuasion roll and I put the Trusting Condition on him. So he opened up.

The minister told us that he'd been outside one evening recently, and had seen a beautiful light, and an angelic vision in it. It had come toward him, but then it vanished.

This made some sense; if that was Tamar, and if she was sent to seduce him as an angel, then she wouldn't have a Cover per se. It's still a strange set of circumstances, and we still have a demon with no Cover.

Next time (which is a week from tomorrow) we'll finish this up.