Thursday, May 30, 2013

Character Creation: Lady's Rock

Well, I've finished with my edits for The Road to Hell on Earth, and have done the summer con update over at the Growling Door site, and I just did the write-up from Saturday's game, and I've got better than an hour before folks get here for chargen tonight, so I think I have time to make a character.

I also just updated the list of games, and I'm sure I'm missing a few, but I've gotten a bunch of things from Kickstarters so I had more games to add.

Anyway, today I decided to do a game on pdf, one from that original bundle waaaaaay the hell back years ago that I'm still picking my way through.

The Game: Lady's Rock
The Publisher: Erisian Entertainment
Degree of Familiarity: None
Books Required: Just the one.

So, the preface to this game does not fill me with the desire to run it. It starts off assuring us that this is game, it's just a game, it's got no political overtones or "hidden messages" (wtf?), and that Firefly should be put back on the air (I'd say that dates the game, but it really doesn't). This reads like it might be an admonition against those kah-razy fundies that think RPGs are real...but that's not real topical, is it? Even a few years ago when this was released? I find that some RPG designers are still stuck in the 90s that way, which is too bad.

The other problem is that the preface seems to be trying to assure us that this is all in fun, we don't need to think too hard, and that's OK, I guess. But it comes off as a big "whatever." Like, it doesn't read like the writer really cares about the game, or maybe he's trying really hard to show that he doesn't care? This may be my own experiences at White Wolf, where people made RPGs while looking down on them, but I've cracked open this pdf a half-dozen times, and I never get any further than the preface.

The intro fiction is likewise off-putting. There's a lot of trying to write in dialect: “Lights mang. Everythin‟ is lights. Are you all afraid a the dark or sumsing?” the voice asked. Stuff like that. So yeah.

Oh, and the cover is a woman who is just boob-arffic. Now, she looks piratey, so at least she's not wearing an armored bikini, and her pose is not submissive, so that's a plus. But she's totally tits-out, and at this point in my life it just makes me go "seriously?"

Whatever. Let's get to it.

So obviously this game owes more to D&D and like games than to the story games currently occupying my brainspace. Just a look at the character sheet shows that. Also, the book explains everything, from currency to law to noble houses (25 pages of them) to deities. For a game that's so "la, whatever" in the preface, someone sure put a lot of work into it. So OK, let's skip to chargen.

Chargen proceeds in steps:
1. Come up with a character concept
2. Select a race
3. Determine attributes
4. Select skills
5. Choose Merits and Flaws
6. Purchase equipment
7. Add the finishing touches

So far, so good. I'm told that concept is the most important thing, as is typical. Hmm. Well, I guess I'll do what I usually do when I'm confronted with a game with a lot of setting detail but no easy points of reference to glom on to (White Wolf with its clans and so on): find something I like in the setting and go from there. 'Scuse me a moment. You know, there's a lot to be said for a game that says, right up front, "here are the characters and here's what they do." I'll remember that for M0arpigz.

OK, holy shit. I'm reading through the "Director's Cut" (GMing) section in an attempt to get a sense about how this game should work (a mistake a lot of writers make is putting general GM advice into these sections, rather than talking about the game they're actually writing). I see this:

Do not plan around your players. I don't know how many times I've read that you should tailor adventurers to your players. Stop for a minute and think about how utterly ridiculous that is. Why would a maniac bend on world domination intentionally build an impenetrable fortress with a flaw designed to be exploited by his or her archenemies? They wouldn't. (Building a thermal exhaust port that leads directly to your reactor system is just asinine, even if it is just the size of a womp rat.) Don't hand your player's victory; let them earn it. It'll mean more to them.

I don't even know how to parse that level of thickness. Dude, we're not talking about the villains in the game tailoring their plots to the characters. We're talking about you, the GM, the actual real human being who has seen Star Wars (thanks for that, by the way, very cute), making up an adventure that the players would enjoy based on their characters. If I'm playing an archer, I want to shoot things with arrows. If I'm playing a diplomat with a secret poison ring, fucking give me something to poison. And so on. Argh.

Anyway. I'm coming up empty, here. This game seems to present a lot of information on the setting and the Empire, which a lot of BS about Eris and Discordia (which, to me, is about as much fun as people who are "random" because they say "monkey tacos"), but doesn't tell me anything about what the characters should be done. At a guess, I think we're supposed to be murderhobos, but let me read a little more (and this would easier if I had time to read the whole thing cover to cover, but I don't and it's boring anyway).

Oh, this is funny. Back under chargen, we get this: a well-written character history also lets the GM
know what sort of adventures you would enjoy. But I thought we shouldn't tailor adventures around the characters? Anyway.

OK, so I need a character concept. I feel like making someone big and burly and earthy. There have to be miners, right? Ooh, are there dwarves? Hang on. OH CHRIST THERE ARE CATGIRLS. AND THEY'RE NAKED. BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY ARE.

You know, at least Michelle's enjoying my outbursts as I read this. Anyway, yes, there are dwarves, and dwarves as a race have this real racial superiority thing going. Not in a creepy white-guy way, but more "Ha! You think that's a big dragon? You should've seen the one that ate the mountain I grew up in!" kind of thing. I can get behind that. The sub-races all suck, though, so I'll go pure dwarf. There are three pages of character questions, but I can't be fucked (plus, they don't tell me anything about this game, the way the character questions in, say, Don't Rest Your Head do). On to step two. Well, three, actually, because picking a race was step two.

Step three is Attributes. But actually, the next step is build points. I get 100 + 2d10, so hang on. 15, so I get 115 points. Plus the ones for my race; I wonder where I'd find that. It wasn't in the race write-up. Yeah, it's not there. It does say I get Darkvision, Resistant to Toxins and Poison Resistance (which I guess are two different things) for free.

OK, moving along to Attributes. Here's a hoot: the attribute section mentions racial modifiers. They are not in the book. They're not under the races, and I sure don't see them anywhere else. Holy shit.

OK, fuck it. No racial modifiers, because I don't have all day. I can't spent more than 12 on any one attribute (so 6 is the highest I can go), and I can't spend more than half my build points on attributes.

Well, I want a high Strength, so let's dump 12 there (103). 3 in Coordination sounds fine (97). 4 in Quickness, since dwarves are good sprinters (8, so down to 89). 6 in Constitution (bet I'd get a racial mod there, if these guys weren't such fuckups), down to 77. For mentals (Reason, Insight, Psyche), let's just go 2, 2, 4, or 16 more points, so I'm down to 61. Oh, wait, Charisma (which isn't mentioned with the rest of the attributes). I'll put it at 2, for four more points. Down to 57.

Oh, I just found their errata page. Turns out racial costs and racial modifiers got cut. Duh. Nice editing. Anyway, moving on.

Had to quit for the day yesterday because people came over to do chargen for new games. Now getting back to this. Oy.

OK, so, I got the attributes for my dwarf done. What's next? Skills! Oh, no, wait, derived traits. OK. These are equations based on some attributes, but they don't tell you to round up or down. Hrr. Let's assume down, as in thumbs.

Action pool is therefore 5, vigor pool is 10, willpower pool is 5. I have six body hit points, four mind, and two soul (each hit point has five tracks, "five for the Sacred Lady," the book says. Seriously, there is all kinds of call-out to weird Discordian shit, talking about pinneal glands and whatnot. It reads like a crazy person's manifesto in places).

OK, now skills. "Active" skills cost 1 build point per level, up to the linked attribute, after which it's doubled (so just like Savage Worlds). I can't go higher than double the attribute. Hokay. And then I get knowledge skills as well, but they're a separate pool (7 x Reason, or 14 for me).

Oh, hey. Spellcasting rules on page XXXX. No one is ever allowed to fuck with White Wolf ever again.

Here's the writeup for Unarmed Combat: Unarmed Combat (QCK) Unarmed Combat is used to
measure the character‟s aptitude for hand-to-hand combat. Street brawling, Boxing, or mastery of the ancient spoonerian martial art of Yuck Fou are all specializations of this skill. Yeah.

Oh, and then there's this: WI-AT Operations (RSN) – An indispensable skill, WIAT Ops is a measure of a character‟s aptitude for using a Wireless Image & Audio Terminal. It is used to search databases for valuable data or the ERP for suitable “reading material.”  WHAT THE SHIT. I'm using dwarves and swords and shit! See, this is what I mean; the setting doesn't remotely make clear what game we're playing, here.

Anyway. I have 57 points left. I'll take:

Appraise 4 (costs 6)
Athletics 5 (costs 6)
Awareness 3 (costs 4)
Climb 4 (costs 4)
Demolitions 5 (costs 8)
Impact Weapons 4 (costs 5)
Interrogation 4 (costs 6)
Unarmed Combat 4 (costs 4)

That's 43, leaving me with 14 points. Let's do knowledge skills, where I also coincidentally have 14 points.

Alchemy 4
Architecture 4
Chemistry 3
Geology 3

So there ya go. I actually do like that knowledge skills get their own pool, because it sucks playing a tough character who doesn't know anything.

Now we do advantages and disadvantages. The steps in chargen say Merits & Flaws, but hey. Can't have everything.

I'll take Internal Compass (seems a good choice for a dude who hangs out in mines), for 1 point. Quick Healer sounds good (5 points, so I have 8 left). In Tune is good, giving me a better chance to notice things, and I kind of picture this dwarf as being pretty on the ball. That's 3, so I have 5 left. For those left few points, I go back to Skills and take 4 points in Sneak and 1 point in Sing, because I enjoy the thought of rousing dwarven drinking songs.

I could take disadvantages at this point. Ah, hell, let's see if any of them are interesting.

Heh. Well. Fear the Reaper is interesting; the GM rolls your Constitution and determines how many game sessions your character lives (but actually, when you hit the limit you just make a CON test [contest?] to see if you die, so with a good CON score you've got an excellent chance of outliving the campaign and getting some build points for free). Anyway, I want Blowhard, because it'd be fun to play. That's only one point, though.

Sigh. OK. Overweight (+2 pt): The character is “big boned” though as many times as I've heard this expression, I have yet to see a “big boned” skeleton… including my own. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN.

Good grief. You can take "Paralyzed," and be, indeed, paralyzed from the neck down? Why...would you even include that in the game? What possible fun could that be? Jeez.

You know, I think I'm good. No, wait, I want one point more, so I can raise my Insight. Actually, I'll take "Cycloptic Vision," which is a really roundabout way to say "one eye." That actually gives me 3 more points, so I'll put my Insight and my Charisma up by 1. That probably raises my Willpower pool and/or wound pools, but I frankly don't care enough to refigure them.

OK, so a little history! My dwarf, Ulrich, was the son of an alchemist named Larin (his mom, not his dad - dad was a miner). Larin taught Ulrich some of the basics of chemistry, but mostly Ulrich liked to blow things up. One day he mixed his chemicals wrong and the formula blew up in his face, destroying his right eye. He wears that eye patch as a sign of humility and caution - check your damn mixture.

Ulrich is brash, loud, and arrogant. He's not just a dwarf and proud, he's proud of his family and the careful smarts he gets from his mom, as well as the humble persistence from his dad (whether he actually has either of these traits is up for debate). His depth perception being what is is (not great), he prefers to fight with hammers or fists, or, if he has time, bombs. He would really prefer not to use explosives to harm people, though; they make a terrible mess, and he feels there's something unfair and un-dwarven about using bombs as weapons.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Night's Black Agents - Bullets Everywhere!

Saturday was Night's Black Agents. Let's watch, shall we?

The characters took a week in scenic Budapest in order to let some Heat bleed off. They were also waiting on Hanover's contact, Janos, to put together a couple of armored Mercedes so they could drive them to Zurich. That took some time.

Rousseau made contact with her handler in the Police Nacionale, Celeste Sarobcade. She requested money at a drop in Zurich, and made her aware of what was happening, including people throwing sinks around.

Smith received a message from Milrod, the arms dealer that he got his guns from way back at the beginning of this story. Milrod had information about the paymaster in Zagreb (whoever it was that was supposed to send money, but that Anton intercepted) and wanted to meet. The agents chose a nice restaurant, and Smith and Lockwood went along to talk with Milrod. Hanover watched from a table, David from the bar, and Rousseau did overwatch outside.

Milrod was obviously injured. He carried himself like he was in pain, and he acting scared and traumatized. He said that the paymaster's name was Klobucar, and that he was in Zagreb; they ran in the same circles. The characters got the feeling that Milrod wasn't saying everything he knew, so they pressed a little. He admitted he'd been tortured into setting up this meeting - someone was after the characters, someone absolutely brutal. The characters left, and regrouped at a cafe some distance away.

They decided that Milrod was their best asset, here. They discussed grabbing him and interrogating him, and decided that their best bet might to follow him, since they knew where he was. Lockwood (with Preparedness) revealed she'd put a tracker on him, so they followed it back to a hotel. Smith and Rousseau waited in the van, while David, Hanover and Lockwood went up to the room to collect him.

David (more Preparedness) pumped gas in under the door to put Milrod to sleep, and then picked the lock. Inside the cramped room, they found Milrod sitting at the desk...dead, with two holes in his neck. And then David heard the slide on a gun, and told everyone to get down.

Outside, Rousseau noticed a man walking behind their van with a knife. She pointed that out to Smith, and Smith, not wanting to screw around, shot him in the neck. He dropped, and Rousseau backed the car up (to conceal the body/finish the job), but didn't hit anything. Instead, a tire went flat.

Inside the hotel room, someone shot through the door at David. Lockwood opened the main door to the room to give them an out, but another man, standing across the hall, shot at her. She returned fire, and Hanover leaned over her shoulder, shooting and dropping the guy across the hall.

But the guy in the bathroom left, moving fast enough that David didn't see him do it (and assumed a third shooter). He fired at Hanover and Lockwood on full auto, wounding them both, but David shot him down.

Outside, Rousseau smashed the van into the dude, but he reached back and punched through the windshield. Smith shot him, and Rousseau hit the brakes, sending him tumbling out of the car. And then Rousseau ran his ass over again.

Upstairs, David did some quick first aid on Lockwood (who was pretty injured) and then looked at the bodies. The two shooters weren't bleeding - the blood was just kind of pooling. Milrod, too, had obviously died of blood loss, but there was no blood around. Hanover mentioned the word "nosferatu", and the others agreed that this somehow, impossibly, looked vampiric. But now there were sirens on the way.

Smith checked the body of their assailant, and found a business card for an escort service called Hi-Klass. He also grabbed the guy's knife, because why not. Rousseau stole a car, and pulled up in front of the hotel, just as the cops arrived. David tried to pass himself off as a doctor, and Lockwood as a woman he was getting to the hospital, but the cops didn't buy it (Rousseau's player blew the Heat roll), and so they took off.

We used the Thriller Chase rules, and it was pretty exciting. Rousseau took a strong lead (Smith, with Preparedness, had place a small explosive charge in the discarded van, just enough to distract), but she blew through her Driving spends pretty quickly, and then it was just dice. The others helped (Traffic Analysis, Urban Survival), but in the end, it took Digital Intrusion to control traffic lights and Conceal to hide the car. But they got away.

They laid low until morning, and picked up the Mercedes from Janos. David, with one more Preparedness use, had moved their stuff out of the hotel (which was good, because the duplicated laptop was there), and so they headed out of town. They decided that running to Zurich would put them too far away from the problem...and they wanted to figure this out. They decided to go back to Osijek, since the medical school there was obviously involved.

Once there, they rented a house (courtesy of Hanover), and looked into Hi-Klass a little more. It was basically a prostitution ring, headquartered in Gyor, Hungary, and (digging deeper) probably a front for human trafficking out of Paris. This made Rousseau perk up, because that's her turf, but the characters wanted to figure out why the med school is involved.

So next time - next week! - they'll go looking for Dr. Radovan Macan.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Movie #192: Ghost

Ghost is a 1990 supernatural romance/drama starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg and Tony Goldwyn. It came out when I was, what a sophomore in high school, which might be why I can't remember who I saw it with.

Anyway: Sam Wheat (Swayze) is a banker, living with his artist girlfriend Molly (Moore). They apparently just bought an amazing fixer-upper in what Michelle called and "up and coming" neighborhood (meaning it's kind of crappy) in New York, and with their friend Carl (Goldwyn) make it amazing. Swayze is a good guy, if a little superstitious and thick when it comes to how other people think. Molly is ambitious and talented, and they seem to have a pretty good thing going. When we see them in their fabulous place, they have that famous scene where she's working the pottery wheel and he comes in all shirtless and "Unchained Melody" plays and they make out in a very tasteful and erotic way. (And actually, because I saw the movie when I was a clueless teen, I really never put together how skillful the eroticism in that scene is.)

And then he gets shot during a mugging. He dies, but chooses to stay with Molly when the little beads of light come down for him. He has to learn to be a ghost, which means dealing with the discomfort of going through doors and the heartbreak of being around Molly, who can no longer see or hear him. And then the dude that mugged him (Rick Aviles) comes back, looking for something, and he follows the dude home (after an encounter with a paranoid subway ghost, played amazingly by the late Vincent Schiavelli). In the killer's neighborhood, he finds a fraud artist psychic named Oda Mae Brown (Goldberg)...who can actually hear him.

Of course, he uses Brown to try and warn Molly, but they don't do it very smartly. I'll come back to that. Anyway, it turns out Carl orchestrated the whole thing; he's laundering money at the bank for drug dealers (and probably has a habit himself) and he's creepy-hot for Molly. By the end, of course, Willy (the killer) and Carl are both dead, dragged off to Hell in a sequence that was creepy as shit when I first saw it, but hasn't aged well.

The movie is really good, and all of the performances are amazing. Goldberg won an Oscar for her performance, but Swayze, to me, really sells the pain and anger he feels at dying unfairly, as well as the love that keeps him on Earth.

So, what I mentioned before: OK, so, you've got a psychic that can hear ghosts but not see them, and a ghost with unlimited mobility. So what you do to prove that is, you put Molly in one room with a set of dice, and Brown in another room. Molly rolls the dice. Sam watches, then goes through the door and tells Brown what she rolled. Molly can fake it if she wants, but Brown can't profile what Molly might choose to write down or say (the numbers are random).

I brought that up to Michelle, mostly mentioning that if Sam was a gamer this would be a shorter movie. But mostly, I think the issue is that Sam doesn't have great theory of mind. He doesn't understand the way other people think, and he doesn't predict reactions well (another observation I made: If Sam hadn't started fucking with Carl after the money disappears, Carl probably would have stayed at the bank all night and then OD'd in panic, rather than going after Molly). He's not malicious about it, just kind of clueless, and that to me makes him a good character - his flaws drive the plot, but this virtues let him resolve it.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium.

Next up: The Ghost

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The WoD Timeline

A timeline for my World of Darkness chronicles. Probably missing some things, but if I ever get some free time I'll fix that.

  • October 1990: Herbert Powell stalks six students at an upscale prep school. All of the students survive (with some injury); Powell escapes. 
  • Late spring-late autumn 1994: Werewolves of Philadelphia disappear, one pack at a time. Last survivor is Blaine Werner, Elodoth of the Blood Talons, who flees the city and goes to his family in Youngstown.
  • Winter/Spring 1995: Red Hand Killer murders 20 people in Mississippi and Tennessee, including two VASCU agents. Agent Mike Hadrian follows this killer into a gateway he creates through a wall and is never seen again (events of Draw Down).
  • April 21, 2003: Adam summons the Vice-spirits in Quincy, MA. Events of Gloria Mundi begin.
  • April 22, 2003: Quincy cabal (QC) finds and free Amelia from the Wrath-spirit.
  • April 30, 2003: QC called to Salem to answer to Consilium. Meet Nemean, Chain, Enoch, Anacaona. Envy-spirit influence Enoch to set up Duel Arcane. Magical quarantine placed upon Quincy and QC until Vice-spirit matter is resolved.
  • May 30, 2003: QC sails aboard the Sir Stephen, destroying the Lust-spirit. 
  • June 2, 2003: The Greed-spirit kidnaps Tyrrhenus and removes his soul. It then uses Tyrrhenus' position in the Licavoli crime family to make money and gain influence.
  • June 19, 2003: The Greed-spirit lures the QC into bringing reporter Dick McManus to a rendezvous, and then assassinates him. The cabal tracks down and frees Tyrrhenus, and then destroys the Greed-spirit. 
  • August 2, 2003: QC receives postcard from Waltman's Neck. Sisyphus visits and asks that Jack use his favors.
  • August 3, 2003: QC ventures to Waltman's Neck. That night they are drugged by Jules Bagron and presented as prey for Wendigo. They break free, kill Wendigo and Bagron and discover and banish the Gluttony-spirit.   
  • October 30, 2003: QC discovers and enters the Obsidian Palace. Morrigan sees, but ignores the Pride-spirit, with the result that it escapes and damages the cabal's Hallow.
  • December 17, 2003: QC investigates a break-in on the Harvard campus. In the course of the investigation, they meet a young unaffiliated mage named Clint Zellner and a Seer of the Throne named Dr. Benjamin Imes.
  • December 18, 2003: QC battles Imes, recovering a powerful artifact called the Mask of Hecate and banishing the Pride-spirit. They also discover that Adam had been murdered by Banishers some time ago. 
  • December 2003 - January 2004: QC turns Mask of Hecate over to the Consilium. With the Vice-spirits banished, the quarantine is lifted. 
  • April 2004: A series of arson fires in Philadelphia. 
  • May 1, 2004: Events of Silence of Time begin. Gun battle with druggies at one of the arson sites, and discovery of Quietkin.
  • May 2, 2004: Scylla goes boom.
  • May 3, 2004: Philly pack discovers bloody basement locus, the Barrens, and the Nihar.
  • May 4, 2004: Pack finds and kills the arsonist. End of first story.
  • June 2004: Over the course of a month, the vampires of Corpus Christi, TX are destroyed.
  • July 8, 2004: A small coterie of vampires tracks down and destroys the Kindred responsible for the deaths of vampires in Corpus Christi (events of Texas Roses). 
  • August 2, 2004: Philly pack leaves PA for Denver.
  • August 7, 2004: Bill Freedman runs afoul of a vampire in Philly, is shot in public several times before fleeing. Two cops wind up killing the vampire later, though they are both hospitalized.
  • August 8, 2004: Philly pack breaks into BMX's home and fights them briefly.
  • August 10, 2004: Battle with Su'ur pack and Walker-Breaker. Bill Freedman dies in battle. Pack hunts down and kills Su'ur with the help of the Scar Angels. End of second story.
  • August 12/13, 2004: Philly pack ventures to Propserity, CO, destroys the undead husk of Edith Brown, (mercifully) kill her tortured husband. Phil Harman wishes to the knowledge to destroy the Barrens in Philly at the Swimming Hole. End of third story.
  • August 14, 2004: A coterie of vampires in Detroit steals a Mask of Hecate, and in the process incurs the notice of the Persephone Unbound cult. They destroy the cult's home and killing its leader, Christina Morrison (events of the The Blood Mask). 
  • Early September, 2004: Promethean refugee camp established outside of New Orleans.
  • September 16, 2004: Philly pack attacks a street gang and surprises a DEA team on stake out. In the ensuing firefight two agents and several gangstas are killed, and two members of the pack are badly wounded.
  • September 22, 2004: Philly pack, along with two other packs of Uratha, close the four "Barrens" in Philly with massive Essence expenditure. Autumnal equinox. End of fourth story.
  • September 24, 2004: A lock-in at a middle school in Cincinnati turns violent when two students start shooting at classmates. A cabal of mages breaks up the violence. Events of Murder in the Pines begin.
  • September 25, 2004: Cincinnati cabal travels to Kentucky and confronts a murder-spirit, a werewolf and the werewolf's brothers, killing one of the latter. Several mages are wounded in the process.
  • October 4, 2004: A truck carrying raw silver is robbed outside of White Haven, PA, by a group of heavily armed men.
  • October 14, 2004: Pack of werewolves of the Lodge of Harmony is attacked near a subway entrance by a creature they can't identify. It badly injures their Irraka (Andie "Wolf's Grin" Currin) and flees, but they track it down and kill it. 
  • October 15, 2004: QC attends an event at Boston Museum, during which they meet Lynden Chambers and discover a mirror with magical properties. 
  • October 18, 2004: A zombie attacks the Quincy cabal in their sanctum, but it is destroyed with no injury. Later that night, the cabal battles similar zombies pouring forth from the mirror. Ogma is badly injured but is healed at the hospital by Angerona of the Shadow Chorus.
  • October 19, 2004: Judge Napier jumps off a bridge in Boston (actually murdered by a mage and then reanimated by Morrigan).
  • October 20, 2004: RE cabal fights and kills Lynden Chambers at museum in Boston.
  • October 29, 2004: Virus unleased in Philly as 150 at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Pack meets Wise Lost.
  • October 30, 2004: Phil Harman leaves Philly for Russia. Myrtle Rosebaum killed in her home in Cleveland (events of All Cats Are Gray).
  • October 31, 2004: Pack in Albany, NY fights and kills several rogue DEA agents. Henry Gilleli becomes a vessel for a Halaku (events of Eyes).
  • November 1, 2004: Alchemist Calogero sends out a summons for any Prometheans in the city of Chicago; five answer (events of Water of Life begin). 
  • November 2, 2004: Chicago throng fights and destroys a Pandoran at a pawn shop; owner is killed, but leaves a ghost.
  • November 3, 2004: Chicago throng meets Sleepless William at the house where Al was created and kept prisoner; later they burn the house.
  • November 12, 2004: Crucible goes to Fire-Touched territory to find info on the Virus.
  • November 19, 2004: Gordon's First Change (half-moon). In Russia, a train falls into a sinkhole. Russian pack aids Phil Harman in recovering a weapon against the Mother (events of In Dark Places).
  • November 13, 2004: Damon Buckley, Jr. and his brother Neil travel to Cincinnati, where both are killed by the cabal.
  • December 12, 2004: Closing night of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Gravenor Theater in Boston. Jack disappears during a Time Paradox. Gwendolyn Spelling Awakens.
  • December 13, 2004: WoL throng arrives in New Orleans and meets Josue and Baron Cimitiere.
  • December 17, 2004: Nathaniel Shaw (aka Midnight) meets with Dr. Charles Vasil about the theft of the Mask of Hecate from his Harvard office. A Firestorm arises in New Orleans and animates the bodies of dead in a small area.
  • December 18, 2004: Coterie of vampires in Detroit discovers strange occurrences on Wayne State campus (events of Nothing to Give).
  • December 20, 2004: Dr. Liam Turner's (aka Hades) wife is murdered. In Philadelphia, thousands of people "space out" for a moment and walk toward downtown (as Crucible destroys the Virus).
  • December 24, 2004: Kali attacked by Grigor Swanncott in Boston, but survives (two policemen do not). Rogue Element cabal, with Grigor's help, removes an Abyssal creature from Mariah Gravenor's brain. 
  • Late December 2004: Kali leaves Boston to go on a trip to meet other Moros. Niamh goes on a spiritual pilgrimage with Seraphim. Winter leaves Boston with her mentor on a theatrical tour.

  • January 4, 2005: Remnants of Persephone Unbound steal the Mask of Hecate from the Cincinnati cabal.
  • January 5, 2005: Kali visits Philadelphia and meets Crucible. Together they investigate a strange house, enter the Hisil, and fall under the curse of the Empty Room. Cincinnati cabal tracks Persephone Unbound to Cleveland. The cabal and the cultists wind up in a dreamscape of Pandemonium; rescued by Untold Stories cabal. All cultists Awaken as Mastigos and form Cincy-based cabal. 
  • January 7, 2005: Vampires in Corpus Christi go to war as a new coterie of Carthians starts wantonly murdering people.
  • January 8, 2005: Crucible pack kills Krista King in Ann Arbor and escapes the curse of the Empty Room.
  • January 9, 2005: Dreams of Death cabal leaves Corpus Christi (events of The Ghost of Galveston).
  • January 10, 2005: Caucus of Moros mages in New Orleans investigates zombie activity (events of Wreckage). Crucible hunts down and kills the Bale Hound Caleb Montgomery, retrieving Paula Jennings' soul.
  • January 10/11, 2005: Clint Zellner and Kathryn Arthur attacked on Harvard campus; Zellner is kidnapped. Kathryn finds Rogue Element and they invade the Asylum, defeating the Gray Pope and rescuing Zellner (though he is possessed by an Abyssal spirit for a brief time). 
  • January 14, 2005: Kali escapes the curse of the Empty Room.
  • January 25, 2005: Gray Waters cabal, Niamh and Seraphim discover the Living Temple off the coast of Florida (events of Song of the Deep).
  • Februrary 8, 2005: Hangman, of the Company cabal in Boston, is murdered by an unknown assailant and his heart, liver and kidneys taken.
  • February 11, 2005: Babbage, of the SMG cabal in Cambridge, is murdered by the same assailant who killed Hangman. His heart is removed. Later that night, Rogue Element fights and kills (with heavy damage) a Promethean called La Tempestad.
  • February 12, 2005: A mage named Sandro, a part-time professor at MIT, is murdered in Cambridge, with several of his organs removed.
  • February 14, 2005: A man is captured at Boston airport carrying a suitcase with a bomb. Reports say it is a dirty bomb, but these reports disappear from the media quickly.
  • February 15, 2005: WoL throng arrives in Boston and meets with local vampires. Sorry Charlie is murdered shortly before midnight. 
  • February 16, 2005: Rogue Element assists WoL throng in destroying Grigor Swanncott in the Fens. Later that night, a small section of the Big Dig is flooded by a small explosive device. Ishamael is murdered outside the Emerald Scroll, his liver removed.
  • Februrary 17, 2005: Mama Desta causes a Firestorm in Roxbury before being killed by WoL throng.
  • February 18, 2005: WoL throng rescues Mister January from HomeSec, killing one agent. The mage Silentium is killed by the Thief, who is in turn destroyed by Morrigan. Morrigan (aka Cecelia Arthur) is shot by police in Salem and officially dies at the hospital some hours later. 
  • February 17-20, 2005: Vicious race riots start in Roxbury, raging northeast across Boston until finally stopping during a terrible winter storm. 
  • February 23, 2005: Gordon of the Crucible pack is nearly killed in a shootout with drug dealers in Philadelphia.
  • February 24, 2005: Crucible pack triggers a trap in a house occupied by a spirit impersonating Reese. The police responding discover the remains of several people, cut up with an ax.
  • March 2, 2005: An unnamed Promethean causes havoc and destruction in Chicago before being burned by the local vampires.
  • March 3, 2005: Crucible pack leaves for northern Wisconsin.
  • March 5, 2005: Crucible pack battles the Devil's Daughter, killing her and leaving her "family" bound at her house.
  • March 10, 2005: Knit murders the Gray Waters cabal and Summer, the Hierarch of the Archipelago. She flees to Boston thereafter. Bob Gantz abducted in Chicago.
  • March 12, 2005: Crucible pack fights and kills several Sworn of the Locust north of Philadelphia. The drug "Solace" hits the streets of Chicago, but is only sold to vampires.
  • March 16, 2005: WoL throng arrives in Chicago. 
  • March 17, 2005: Crucible, Scar Angels and other Uratha in Philadelphia slaughter the Mother's spawn in the physical world. Reese of the Crucible kills and eats Mike Harper.
  • March 21, 2005: Rogue Element fights a cabal of Seers of the Throne in South Boston.
  • March 24, 2005: Crucible fights the Mother's aquatic spawn and prime-roaches on Michael Ladon's boat on the Schuylkill River (conclusion of Silence of Time). 
  • March 25, 2005: Hank Heneba fights a gang of bikers in Ivers, IL. WoL throng arrives in Bone Valley. Al goes to the wastes.
  • April 10, 2005: Holocaust Education Center in Cincinnati damaged in battle with Abyssal spirit. Police list it as a hate crime. 
  • April 28, 2005: WoL throng steals five bodies from a hospital in St. Louis. Julia causes a car accident on the way back to Bone Valley that badly injures a man.
  • Late April, 2005: Aaron Magnus infects Dr. Matthew Crane with Dark Angel Aphasia to drive him away from the Golden Flame society. He is expelled from his cabal for this action and turns to goetic magic for revenge. 
  • May 2, 2005: Kathy "Knit" Veldmont is arrested in Boston for the murder of her parents in 1999. 
  • May 5, 2005: Anthony "Tyrrhenus" Licavoli kills the Nemean and becomes Hierarch of the Boston Consilium. Ebon Noose disbands and most of the Shadow Chorus dies (conclusion of Gloria Mundi). 
  • May 6, 2005: An unnamed Golem murders a cabal of mages outside of Commerce, MS. 
  • May 7, 2005: Al of the WoL throng reaches the New Dawn.
  • May 14, 2005: Timothy Dade, a Proximus in service to the Guardian Angel cabal in Cincinnati, shoots a bus boy at a Consilium function under the influence of a spirit. 
  • May 23, 2005: 66 Pack confronts Last Mile and Redstone family in Kansas (events of The Mother Road).
  • May 28, 2005: Mob from Round Lake, IL charges into the woods and enters a firefight with the WoL throng. 
  • May 29, 2005: Network 0 posts an online video showing a "flying man."
  • May 31, 2005: WoL throng arrives in St. Paul.
  • June 2, 2005: WoL throng destroys the statue in St. Paul square. Network 0 posts a video online.
  • June 6, 2005: Cincinnati suffers a city-wide, 12-minute blackout. 
  • June 11, 2005: Mr. Jones of the Empty Suits cabal dies during another blackout in Cincinnati. Later that day, the 6s and 7s cabal battles a strange creature just outside the city.  
  • June 12, 2005: Explosion at Gannon Biomimetics lab in Cincinnati. 
  • July 9, 2005: WoL throng arrives in Denver.
  • July 13, 2005: Cave-in in Victor, CO. Spence and Jesse created. 
  • July 16, 2005: Group of changelings in Miami returns DJ Hamlyn to his Keeper (events of The Piper's Payment). 
  • July 19, 2005: Hank attacked in Indianapolis by Network 0 and his Vitriol stolen.
  • August 5, 2005: Romanov learns that Red Jester of Abbatoir is a survivor of the Guiding Hands cabal, tries to flee Chicago but is stopped by 6s and 7s. 
  • August 16, 2005: Moses Moon murdered by David Dunleavy in Detroit.
  • August 26, 2005: Changeling captives of the Duchess emerge from the Hedge in Syracuse, NY (events of Paths Ever Winding begin).
  • August 27, 2005: Phoenix of the WoL throng achieves the New Dawn and gets on a bus for Missouri. Blackout engulfs Detroit.
  • August 28, 2005: God-Machine Infrastructure activates beneath Detroit.
  • August 29, 2005: Hank and Marty of the WoL throng achieve the New Dawn (conclusion of Water of Life). 
  • September 14, 2005: 6s & 7s cabal confronts the murder-spirit in the pine forest. Whim dies, but the murder-spirit is destroyed (conclusion of Murder in the Pines).
  • September 21, 2005: Devourer destroys and devours a Goblin Market outside of Traverse City, MI. Four changelings confront Redtooth, Redtooth there, but escape with their lives (events of Late to the Feast). 
  • September 23, 2005: Ashwood Abbey hunts down and kills a vampire outside of New York City.
  • September 26, 2005: Ashwood Abbey arrives in Traverse City. 
  • October 26, 2005: Dr. Eric Rasoletti collapses at a talk on demonology in Cleveland (events of Fallen is Babylon).
  • December 8, 2005: Trauma doc at U of Michigan hospital is murdered (mistaken for Gloria Nimble-Fingers). Queen Karolinda of the Winter Court killed. Events of Snowblind begin.
  • January 19, 2006: Agent Mackenzie murdered in a camera store outside of Ann Arbor, MI. VASCU Agent Hailey Tice badly injured.
  • January 21, 2006: Aldous Blackwell and agent Hailey Tice die as Blackwell's mansion burns in Massachusetts.
  • January 29, 2006: Krewe hearing confession in Lakewood, OH, and proceeds to ghost under Carnegie Bridge (events of Dying Confessions begin).
  • February 1, 2006: Flash-bang detonated at St. John's Cathedral in Lakewood, OH.
  • February 18, 2006: Jaya murdered by Iron Gates pack in New Orleans.
  • Februrary 21, 2006: Cabal investigates Jaya's murder (events of Catching Smoke).
  • March 3, 2006: Group of changelings in Cleveland is nearly abducted at the Market-That-Isn't (events of Safe Words).
  • April 1, 2006: Redtooth, Redtooth is freed from his imprisonment in the Hedge near Toledo, OH.
  • April 9, 2006: Nox kills one of her fetches in Ann Arbor.
  • April 25, 2006: Firestorm in Arnold, PA following excision of a human soul from a Promethean named Lurch (events of Burning Bright).
  • May 3, 2006: Group of Prometheans in Tennessee destroy a Centimanus named Charles Bowde (events of Family Reunion).
  • May 5, 2006: Group of people in Erie, PA battle what seems to be a ghost in the Warner Theatre (beginning of Cold Feet).
  • June 23, 2006: Cassie Lawrence is struck by a cart in Greece and becomes a Sin-Eater (events of Into the Dark).
  • July 5, 2006: Water in Ann Arbor turns to blood.
  • July 10, 2006: Camp Innisfree in Traverse City burns.
  • July 12, 2006: Motley of changelings destroys the Devourer in Traverse City. Gloria Nimble-fingers dies, but is saved by the Death Clause.
  • July 17, 2006: Amy Stevens jumps from the roof of the Bellaggio in Las Vegas (beginning of The Show Must Go On).
  • July 23, 2006: Amy Stevens' ghost laid to rest by John Marconi.
  • August 10, 2006: Lisa Cooper hear stories from several mortals in Tucson, AZ (events of Ripples).
  • August/September 2006: Murders of several unconnected people in Seattle, WA.
  • September 6, 2006: Sin-Eaters in Seattle confront Halaku and destroy the spirit following it (events of Sin Number).
  • September 8, 2006: Coterie of vampires changes the supernatural condition of vampirism worldwide (end of the "Week of Roses"). 
  • September 22, 2006: Gloria and Mickey return from the Underworld.
  • September 23, 2006: Group of changelings capture the Last Man Jack and restore him to lucidity (events of Jack's Court). 
  • September 25, 2006: Two children injured in a drive-by shooting Cleveland.
  • September 26, 2006: Ai'tahe freed from the church in Cleveland. Vivian sets a minor demon of Wrath free in downtown. Property damage and casualties result.
  • September 30, 2006: Crematorium explodes in southern Georgia. Reports of strange, emaciated monsters in the swamps (events of Dress-Up). 
  • October 1st, 2006: Three Sin-Eaters confront the Devil's Daughter in Half Moon Bay, CA (events of Bitter Tears).
  • October 8, 2006: Wisp, Ellie Graves and Inaya visit Rockland Island, ME (events of Lost Cub).
  • October 26, 2006: "St. Peter," an Acanthus mage, murdered in Las Vegas.
  • October 31, 2006: Mysterious mask discovered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • November 1, 2006: A mysterious woman steals the purse from a poker tournament (won by a vampire named Nathan Vest) in Las Vegas (events of "Six Cards, Six Shots" end). 
  • November 11, 2006: Hank's Journal by Henry Letheson is published.
  • November 27, 2006: Group of women practicing parkour in Erie, PA battle a vampire (events of Jumping Off).
  • December, 2006: Massive snowstorm cripples Ann Arbor, MI. Conclusion of Snowblind
  • December 4, 2006: Serial killer Johnny Jackson apprehended in Seattle, WA. Rain begins later that day.
  • December 6, 2006: Events of Johnny's Banjo begin.
  • December 8, 2006: Shots fired at 9lb Hammer in Seattle, WA.
  • December 10, 2006: Rain stops in Seattle (conclusion of Johnny's Banjo). 

  • April 13, 2007: An unidentified man is murdered in an alley in Erie, PA (events of To a Dark Place begin). 
  • May 4, 2007: Massive dust storm hits Tucson, AZ (events of The 7th Angel begin). 
  • May 7, 2007: Military quarantines the town of Corona, NM.
  • May 15, 2007: Four people rescued from the basement of Byron "Red" Odell in Truth or Consequences, NM. Bodies of Odell's two sons also found; Odell himself presumed at large.
  • May 16, 2007: Unexplained, localized storm on Fisher's Peak, near Trinidad, NM. Witnesses report seeing human bodies fly off the peak, but no bodies are ever found. 
  • August 2007: Burning Man. Avalon and Enoch attend. 
  • August 30, 2007: Synod in Denver. Sebastian Licavoli attends.
  • September 2007: Avalon stops in Las Vegas. Feather attends Hebrew school in Denver.
  • October 5, 2007: Tommy Red Hat attacks two students at a high school football game (events of Time of Our Lives begin). 
  • December 24, 2007: Grimm intervenes in a fight between Justine Berry and a vampire in Erie, PA. 
  • January 5, 2008: Wedding of Babi Singh and Serena May in Colorado (conclusion of 4th story in The 7th Angel).
  • March 15, 2008: Skip emerges from the Hedge in New Haven, CT (events of The More You Struggle).
  • March 30, 2008: Lake Monster sinks in Lake Erie. Rachel Penn assumed lost.
  • April 25, 2008: Gordon Reardon murdered in Fremont, WA (beginning of How an Angel Dies). Charles Rivers murdered in Chicago.
  • April 28, 2008: Grimm arrested in Chicago. 
  • April 29, 2008: Fremont Troll damaged by lunatic with a hammer (conclusion of How an Angel Dies). 
  • April 30, 2008: Chicago mansion of Devon Parker attacked by Promethean throng; Parker is killed. 
  • May 20, 2008: Three people in three different cities are killed, apparently by the same person, within an hour of each other (events of The Key begin).
  • May 25, 2008: Officer Kondrilik and Officer Mallory injured in Hackensack, NJ, by Wesley Cote. 
  • May 26, 2008: Wesley Cote dies in Utica (conclusion of The Key). 
  • June 1, 2008: Throng arrives in New Orleans.
  • June 5, 2008: Blackout in New Orleans.
  • June 17, 2008: Fire in Little Croatia in Pittsburgh. Dragona Pavic becomes Apex (events of The Skull Beneath The Skin). 
  • June 22, 2008: Firestorm in Lexington, KY.
  • June 25, 2008: Throng arrives in Lexington, KY. Task Force Valkyrie safe house invaded in late afternoon/evening. 
  • June 27, 2008: Phosphorum Athanor discovered in cemetery, two minor Firestorms result. 
  • June 28, 2008: Throng arrives in Columbus, OH. 
  • November 20, 2008: Ben and Lori Dennis murdered in Las Vegas (beginning of "Graves in the Desert"). 
  • November 24, 2008: Binion's casino burns in Las Vegas. 26 people die in the fire (conclusion of "Graves in the Desert"). 
  • May 22, 2009: Dillon Markway is found with second- and third-degree burns in an alley in Parma, OH. He refuses to say what happened. (Events of Roots in the Community begin.)

Promethean: Death in the Junkyard

Gotta start doing these the day after. It'll be easier over the summer.

OK, first, dinner!

Rockfish, Frank's Hot Sauce, orzo, baby carrots.

I swear to god, I'm so sick of carrots.

Anyway, I made a batter out of some (gluten-free) flour, some orange pop I had left over, and the hot sauce. I batter-fried the fish. I cooked off the orzo and made a lemon-basil butter for it. And then I wrap the baby carrots in foil with some grapeseed oil, some bourbon, salt and pepper and put 'em in the over.

Good stuff. The rockfish wasn't universally loved, but that was more down to individual tastes, I think.

OK, so, the characters went to the junkyard. They got there in the middle of night, and Matt and Grimm walked the perimeter. Big fence, guard dogs, a house in one corner, a tower of cars stacked in a circle, and a big mobile crane with a magnet. They'd brought along some butcher bones, and Feather figured she'd climb the fence, and toss the bones to the dogs, maybe make friends.

She climbed the fence to land on the kennel...and went right through the roof of it. The dogs came running in from the junkyard. She tossed a bone, and one of them went for it, but the other attacked.

The other characters started heading over the fence. Skip jumped up to the roof of the garage (I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the junkyard, I just forgot. Maybe next time, since I still have it drawn on my map). Enoch climbed the fence, as did Matt and Grim. Skip went to the other dog and tried to make friends, but it snapped at him. Enoch tried to touch the dog with his poisoned hand, but missed and touched Skip instead, giving him the Poisoned Tilt (off a failure converted to a dramatic failure for the Beat, and that was not the last time). Grimm came over and tried to pistol-whip the dog, but missed and broke Enoch's nose (see?). The dog snapped at them, but Skip punched it and broke something, and it ran, yelping, into the junkyard.

Avalon, meanwhile, stayed on the other side of the fence, watching the house, making sure they weren't going to get jumped.

Feather grappled the remaining dog and tried to established dominance, but failed, and it bit her up pretty good. Enoch walked over and touched it, killing it.

That bit of excitement over, the characters spread out, looking for whatever it was they were supposed to find. Nergal wasn't being forthcoming (or maybe he just wasn't asked). Skip heard something behind him, but didn't see anything. Matt looked at the crane - it was well-used and maintained.

Feather and Enoch popped the hoods on some of the cars there from towing (rather than being junked) and drained their batteries to heal up. That made some sparks and noise. Avalon used Transformation to turn a window in the garage to water, and then pushed over the object blocking it...which crashed to the ground and made a lot of noise. The lights on the house went on. Avalon approached, and a boy of about 15 opened the back door, armed with a rifle. Avalon told him she'd lost her keys (a milestone for her: Tell a Lie), and he told her to come in while he got a metal detector. He opened the basement door, and Avalon, Trusting and Optimistic (her Vice and Virtue, respectively), didn't realize what was happening until he'd thrown her downstairs and slammed and bolted the door. In the dark, she heard "Hello?"

Out in the yard, things were going about as well. Skip searched for the source of the noise, and found a man hiding in the stacks of cars...who promptly shot him with a shotgun. Skip tried to strike back, but didn't manage to do much. Grimm and the others sprinted over, and Grimm shot at the man, but he shot Skip again (nearly killing him) and retreated back into the yard. Matt, standing on the crane's cab (to get a better look), jumped off the crane toward the fight, and something shot at him, but missed. The Prometheans rounded the stack (not Skip, who was taking over and heading for the untouched car batteries, because he had no desire to die again), and the man shot at them...but Grimm shot him down. And then the sniper on the house roof shot Grimm, and Feather, grievously wounded them both.

They ran between the stacks to get cover. Matt, figuring he could use the crane to do some good, here, started it up and tried to drive it. However, the roll failed, and (again) the player took the dramatic failure.

The magnet swung low, knocking over a stack of cars. Grimm jumped clear. Feather did not.

In the basement, Avalon felt Feather's Azoth vanish. She also found four people down there - two men, two women - some of whom had been there months. They told her that they'd been thrown down and then giving the choice to chain themselves to the wall, or letting the others starve. Avalon, able to maneuver somewhat in the dark by using the people's auras, touched the chains and rusted them with Transformation, and had the people pull themselves free. They started up the stairs, and Avalon realized the door was reinforced with metal. She could destroy it, of course, but then they heard gunfire outside. "We'll be fine," said Avalon. "My friends are coming."

Outside, Matt saw what he had done and entered Torment (as it happens, Succumb to Torment is a milestone for him). His Torment consisted of his Azoth inverting itself, growing cold and dark, and drinking in Pyros around him.

The sniper shot Grimm again, and he entered Torment, becoming horribly and viciously spiteful. He was going to kill that fucker. He picked his way around the house, using the cars as cover, and shot out the lights on the house.

Meanwhile, Enoch, Skip and Matt approached from the other side. Skip ran behind the crane, but failed a Perception roll and took the Beat, and fell into a hole, concealed, up to then, by the crane. He found himself in a steel "cauldron." Nergal woke up, gleeful, and told him to wet his finger and touch the edge. He did...blood. This thing had been filled with blood. The others helped him out, and they continued around the yard toward the house.

Matt charged the door, and the boy stepped out and shot at him (but missed). Enoch grabbed the dead dog and used his Chimera Transmutation to take its form, though he kept his frog-like coloration (Feather's player: "Damn, that's a striped-ass collie.").

Grimm, meanwhile, managed to draw a bead on the sniper and shoot him in the head. He fell off the roof and smashed onto a car.

The Prometheans entered the kitchen, and the boy was there, with a gun. But he gave up when they entered. Matt used Nameless Dread on him (which he'd learned from the milestone) and Enoch approached him in dog form, and changed up to human form as he did, which well and truly broke the boy. They opened the basement and let Avalon and the prisoners out. The boy said that his father (Red Odell) kept people in the basement, and then once a year he took them out into the yard. Grimm, still in Torment, informed the boy that his father and brother were both dead. dead, dead?

In the Underworld, Feather appeared on the banks of a river. Next to her was Red Odell. They talked a little, but he made it clear that he was going back; this wasn't the end for him. He wouldn't say how that worked, though, nor was he the least bit apologetic. The only thing that seemed to get to him was when Feather reminded him that he had kids, and what he did hurt them, too (she wasn't aware that his son was dead, of course). But at that moment, he started bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, and said, "Well, here I go."

Feather, not one to be fucked with, kicked him into the River of Woe. His face turned from rage to regret and despair, and he floated away. She made a milestone (Win a Fight By Herself), and then, just out of curiosity, tasted the water. We'll get to that.

Back at the house, Skip searched Red's room and found a leather-bound book, obviously not written by him, in which the construction of the steel cauldron and the principle of immortality was described. Once a year, "on the eve of your greatest woe," the bather had to immerse himself in pure blood. If he did, "death shall have no hold on him." Enoch, reading this (Skip hadn't), asked the boy what night the ritual took place. "May 16."

"What happened that night?"

"That was night my mom died."

The boy asked the characters to just kill him, but they refused. What they did do was put him in the basement, and give the prisoners medical attention. They weren't quite ready to call the cops just yet, though. They still needed to figure this place out.

Grimm used Sense Pyros and felt a tingle from inside the ring of cars. He, Enoch, Matt and Skip wriggled in, and Grimm found a Pilgrim Mark - enlightenment. There was a hole below a car, leading to a cavern - small, but Enoch used Procrustean Shape and slipped in. What he saw made his jaw drop...but we'll see it next time.

Up in the ring, the others felt a massive flare of Azoth from the pileup of cars Matt had caused. Feather was back from the dead.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Race is Run

Yesterday was the final session of my Dresden Files game, Let It Ride. Let's watch, shall we?

The day of the race, everyone prepares. Lou, his job nearly done, relaxes at the casino. Georgina Valentine approaches him and asks for, effectively, early access to the race, to check out the horses. Lou, knowing something's amiss, denies her, but eventually tells her when the horses will be presented and when the security folks (Rusty and Clive) will be around.

At the race, Opal puts a contract together, stating that the signatories will not interfere with the other contestant and that everyone's to keep it sociable. Lou tells the security boys not to admit the Valentines, and folks start arriving. Alice is in the stables with Bo, who's nervously awaiting his jockey (and his transformation).

Billy Ray arrives just after sundown, and cheerfully signs the contract (it protects him as much as anyone). The Fae Ladies arrive from the NeverNever at the same moment, and glower a little at each other before signing, but they do. Albert, Leroy, Jeannine, and Anthony Lucredi arrive, one by one, and signed (Jeannie obviously out of her element).

Arthur Bingham arrives...with the Valentines. Opal tells him that they aren't allowed in, and he effectively threatens to pull his horse from the race. She calls Lou, who eventually says that if they sign the contract, things should be OK. They do, and things proceed.

In the stables, Leroy arrives, and Alice recites the incantation and turns Bo into a horse. She heads up to the VIP booth, with the other folks, and the horses take their marks.

The starter pistol sounds, and bang! The Fae Horses take a quick lead! As the horses run up to the first turn, Clive, who's there watching for shenanigans, feels Phobos urging him to stay visible (trying to spook the horses). He doesn't fight it, and the horses shy away a little. Warden's Wings (the White Council horse) and April Showers (Arthur Bingham's) falter and back off, losing enough ground that they're effectively out.

But then Phobos gets more aggressive. He wants Fireball, the Black Court's horse to win, because that will put the fear into Lexington. Clive decides this is quite enough, and fights the spirit's attempt at possession. The spirit beats up Clive pretty good, mentally, giving him the Tempted, Confused and finally Ridden consequences, but Clive literally punches himself in the head and stuns the spirit long enough for the horses to ride on.

Now on the second half, Alice sees Bo start to falter...and change back into human form. Knowing that he'll be crushed if that happens, she runs up to the announcer's booth and yells into the mic, "The bridle, the saddle, the bit in your teeth!" and changes him back. But he's stumbled, and lost too much ground. (Fun fact: If she'd spent a Fate chip for another +2, she'd have kept him in the race. She chose to let him lose, to keep him safe.)

Now rounding the third turn, the horses run toward where Lou and Rusty are standing. But then, Shuck, the giant fae-wolf, leaps the fence and charges at the horses. Rusty changes to wolf form and runs at it, but doesn't quite make it before it reaches the horses.

It bites and guts Veni Vidi Vici (the White Court horse), and the others scatter around it. Rusty slams into it, and bites at it, but it bites at him right back. Lou shoots it, and Clive runs down from the other end of the field and grabs the wolf in a big bear hug, and the heaves it over the fence.

Lou, having had enough weirdness, activates the circle he set up earlier. Magic stops flowing into the place. The Winter Court horse has lost enough ground that it's effectively out - now it's down to Derek's Fall (Jeannine), Sleipnir (Albert), Inferno (Summer Court) and Fireball (Black Court).

Derek's Fall and Inferno fall back, suddenly, as their jockeys clutch their heads. The fairy ladies turn to Opal and glare at her. Clarence, furious, asks her what's going on (but Opal doesn't know what Lou did). Clarence says that without magic from the NeverNever, the fairy horses don't have the power to race. Opal, thinking quickly, opens a gateway into the NeverNever herself, and lets magic rush in.

Lou, seeing, this, figures she's got it under control and breaks the circle.

The last four horses race for the finish line. I made some rolls, but let the players spend Fate chips and tap aspects to affect those rolls. Opal pushes to Sleipnir, Clive for Fireball, but Rusty pushes for Derek's Fall and the other folks push Fireball back. Derek's Fall races across the finish line.

The fairy ladies are pretty pissed off. Opal tells them they're welcome to file a complaint, but they're not amused. Albert gets his father and the other mortals out, figuring things are about to get nasty. But the fairy ladies just leave, perhaps each secretly glad that the other didn't win. Billy Ray, too, doesn't look too hurt. And the Valentines bet on Derek's Fall (so did Rusty), which is a nice payout.

Jeannine realizes that she's won. Shuck, over the fence, collapses into fur and dust. Every tree around the track bursts into bloom. The 99 Year Race is over.

The characters go out to the Horse & Barrel for whiskey and dinner, and Jeannine asks what she should do. The characters mention that she could probably improve her own station a bit, at the very least. She says that, otherwise, she just wants things to change.

And on that note, we leave the characters, toasting Jeannine with bourbon (apple juice, in Alice's case).

And that's a wrap! We may revisit these folks again, as the players were interested to meet Alice's kid and follow that plotline.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Game Prep!

Changes in gaming afoot!

John got a real job, so he'll be dropping out of the Monday group (working nights). That'll mean changes for Promethean, but I've got a few weeks before it becomes relevant.

Today should be the exciting conclusion of Let It Ride, so that's really what I need to focus on. Let's do that!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Movie #191: The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep is a 1946 detective movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and a whole bunch of other people who aren't quite as well known anymore.

Bogart plays Philip Marlowe, hired by a rich old dude named Sternwood (Charles Waldron) to find out who's blackmailing his youngest daughter, Carmen (Martha Vickers). Carmen, as it happens, is flighty and has trouble with gambling, drugs and liquor. Her older sister, Vivian (Bacall), has her own issues with gambling, and maybe the blackmailer knows her, too?

The movie, from there, spirals into an absolutely labyrinthine mess of subplots, characters, murder, crime and general noir-ishness. The knots don't get untangled so much as more tightly wound around Marlowe. If you want to know the plots, go read the wiki or read the novel, because no way am I qualified to explain it after one viewing.

What you need to know is that it's really well scripted and acted, and although it's busy as hell, it doesn't feel confusing (even though it is). It reminded me in some ways of L.A. Confidential (I suspect the screenwriters of that movie were, kind of successfully, looking to emulate Chandler). And Bogey and Bacall have some fun dialog and chemistry like whoa, so it's very much worth your time.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Ghost

Monday, May 13, 2013

How an Angel Dies, Part 3: Into the Past!

So! Last time, the characters met Comrade West, learned that they had an angel en route that they could theoretically jack, and learned that they could travel back in time.

Yeah, that last one was kind of weird for everyone.

Well, the next evening (I'm a big fan of treating games like TV series, so fading out and then fading back in when it would be most interesting, rather than tracking every minute of the characters' lives), they all got together at the bar again. Jamie called up Comrade West and asked him about the portal to the 60s. He came to the bar, rather than talk about it on the phone.

West strolled in, wearing a new Cover (he later mentioned that he goes through Covers like some people go through condoms), and talked with the characters about the portal. He told them that Seattle has a few of these "fractures," places that allowed for travel into the past - but it wasn't really time travel. These places seemed to go in cycles, and folks in these pasts can't change things in the present, because the fractures reset themselves (for example, in 1962 it's always the World's Fair). West did say, though, that some manipulation of the past is possible - a clever demon can established a generational aspect to a Cover, making the Cover harder to blow. The demons discussed the implications of all this, but it sounds very God-Machine-y to them.

But if this "Simon" character is going into the past and shoring up an apocalyptic cult (the Fellowship of the Final Awakening), that probably bears investigation, because nothing good ever comes of doomsday cults. The characters therefore spend some time hunting down vintage clothing, and then head down to the Troll.

There, they find a couple of tourists climbing on the Troll and taking pictures. Jamie and Saskia grab cameras and start taking pictures. Jamie winds up taking a dramatic failure on a roll for a Beat, and when Saskia takes her picture on her smartphone, a man in a black suit walks around the corner, wearing shades. He doesn't speak, and the characters realize that he's probably an angel (remember that Jamie has the Flagged Condition from the little incident on the bridge, last session).

Everyone else Spoofs, appearing human to the angel, but Jamie doesn't risk it (she also has to convince it that she's human without Spoofing to resolve the Condition). She takes its picture, and sees, instead of skin, a blue circuitry pattern - definitely an angel. Will, noting this, puts a hand on his gun, but Jamie is chatty and vivacious and eventually the angel leaves, apparently believing that they're all human.
During all this, Edgar notices a ticket stub on the ground. Picking it up, he sees it's from the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, dated September 2, 1962. It's got some grime on it, looks like it's been here a while (but not 50 years). This might give the characters a starting place.

The couple leaves, and they crawl through the window of the Beetle into yesterday. Now they're in Fremont, which in 1962 is pretty unpleasant. They walk up the hill into a more civilized area and find a newspaper - it's Saturday, September 1st, 1962. The ballet is tomorrow night. Edgar uses In My Pocket to pull out some money from the era, and they hop a cab to the World's Far. Jamie uses Lucky Break as they enter a hotel lobby - someone just cancelled their reservation, allowing Edgar to book a room. With accommodations handled, they head to a bar and start drinking.

Saskia finds a rich-looking business man and chats him up. As they talk, she uses Addictive Presence on him, fascinating him (but not completely addicting him yet, because it's an extended roll). The businessman, named Roland Wright, is here from Chicago scouting new technology for his company. This, to the characters, seems like a good person to follow, since they're worried that members of the Fellowship in the 60s might wind up being influential people in the modern day.

Will talks with the bartender, and learns that a guy was in here earlier looking for a bodyguard (Will asked the bartender if he knew of anyone looking for such). The bartender produces the guy's card. It just says a name and a number.

Saskia goes upstairs with Roland, the others share their suit. The next day, they decide, they'll head to the Fair and scout around. They do that, and Saskia finds Roland talking with some other businessmen. She goes over to talk with him, and Roland is pretty mortified and doesn't speak with her (giving Saskia an unfortunate lesson in the social mores and gender roles of the day).

The demons go up to the observation deck of the Space Needle, and several of them sense something weird. Not Aether, just...odd. Trying to pinpoint it, they realize it's coming from a window on the lower deck. Amy feigns a fainting spell, and Luke (a doctor, remember) and the others draw the crowd around her. Edgar, meanwhile, opens the lock, opens the window, and sticks his head out.

He's looking out over modern-day Seattle...but only with his head through the window. The window is another portal, but not an easy on to access, apparently. Edgar can't fly, and doesn't wish to crawl out and climb down, so he closes the window, Amy "recovers," and life goes on.

Saskia had asked Roland to get them all tickets to the ballet, but when she goes back to the room (he gave her a key in the morning), he's moved his stuff out. Feeling perhaps a little salty, she rejoins the others, and they go to procure their own tickets. That's easy enough, though they wind up split, three on one side of the auditorium and three on the other, but now they need evening wear.

They head to the Bon Marche, get fitted for tuxes and gowns, and Jamie goes up to pay, and uses Lucky Break. She's only charged for her dress, which is good, as the characters don't have enough old-timey money for everything, but they also don't have a huge ethical problem with this, so they take their clothes and go.

That night, at the show, Amy, Jamie and Will sit on house left, while Edgar, Luke and Saskia sit house right. They watch the show, and Luke spends a point of Aether and sends out a "ping," looking for other demons (this is risky, because if there are angels around they might notice, but they figure it's a calculated risk). A man in the center of the house, near the front, perks up and starts looking around. Edgar activates Sense the Angelic, but doesn't sense anything, so they figure the man is either stigmatic or some other kind of sensitive. Jamie uses Across a Crowded Room to whisper to Luke "Everything OK?" Luke signs back (since demons all know sign language, as we realized yesterday) that the man in question seemed to notice the Aetheric "ping."

Intermission comes. The man gets up, and the characters notice that he's apparently talking with a half-dozen other folks sitting with him. He walks out, followed by a younger, tougher-looking guy - Will figures this is the guy that was looking for a bodyguard yesterday. They follow him out, and into the men's room, but the bodyguard is just standing watch.

Jamie talks with a couple of the other guys at the bar, and winds up Spoofing instinctively (meaning one of them has a way to check her for being non-human). They don't say anything useful, though, and then head back to their seats. Amy uses Eavesdrop on the group, and realizes that one of them is concerned that this ballet will take too long. But no, the older one reassures him, they'll have plenty of time to get to the site in time for the ritual.

Oh. This, then, would be the Fellowship of the Final Awakening. But what "ritual" are they performing? And does it have anything to do with the Lesser Key of Solomon? Will theorizes that the 35th demon, Marchosias, is the one to watch because JFK (currently in office) is the 35th president.

We shall see.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Promethean: Wanderings

Been meaning to do this all week, keep forgetting. Let's go!

Last time, the characters confronted an angry ghost, helped her move on, and then bedded down in the desert. They all dreamed. Everyone but Matt dreamed of pedestals. The first two held the angels they'd already seen (Angel Costas and the Living Creature), but the others were empty. The seventh one, though, the pedestal was black and cold, drawing light and heat into it. Matt, meanwhile, dreamed of fire, and only escaping the fire by joining it and burning. In the morning, they got their sunrise-Pyros hit, and then headed back to where they'd left the van.

The van, however, was gone. They were miles from town, and another 30 miles on top of that from their trailer. They quickly figured that the van had been loaded onto a flatbed, and they started walking back into town. They came to a truck stop with a diner, and sat down to have some breakfast (remember that Avalon had sold a bunch of her drawings, so they had some cash). The characters talked a bit about what was going on, and Skip made faces at a little boy in a booth (getting a milestone for Playing with Children, but scaring the kid somewhat).

Skip, Enoch and Grimm decided to hoof it out to the junkyard lot where their van had likely been towed, and see what it would take to get it back. Matt decided to hole up somewhere and draw/write in a journal he purchased. Avalon and Feather took showers (actually, I think they all did) and then Avalon got to work on drawing. She also wrote out the word on Feather's forehead.

At the lot (Red's Junk and Towing), the characters discovered that the van was boxed in. Red intimidated Enoch (putting the Bamboozled Condition on him), and charged several hundred more than the characters had. Dejected, they started walking back. Grimm intimidated Skip into admitting that it had been Nergal who crashed the car, but he took a very defiant, unapologetic tone about the incident.

The characters headed to the library. Feather looked up the word on her head, and discovered it was "sister." She remembered being created as a guardian for a young child, so this didn't make any immediate sense. Matt, noticing a librarian staring at him, asked for help finding a book. The librarian noted that Matt looked like a guy who used to be on a TV show called Alabaster Gates, but was unable to remember the actor's name. Matt, now having someplace to start, spent some time searching through the IMDB listing for the show and found...himself.

He had been created from the body of an actor named James Canaday. James had a history of depression, and had jumped off a building in a small town in Pennsylvania while on a location shoot. His body, strangely, had vanished from the morgue there (but we know why that is; he was turned into a Promethean by Lurch). He gained a milestone (Learn His Body's Name).

Skip and Avalon went back to the lot and Avalon challenged the junkyard owner about the bill. He relented, and Avalon used Suggestion and got an exceptional success, so she just got the van back for nothing. On the way back, Nergal talked with Skip, and told him that they should have brought "the guy with the guns." Why? There was something here, something that Nergal felt was important but that he couldn't identify ("it's really more your thing.").

Skip informed the others of this when they all regrouped, and due to his uncommon honesty in explaining where he got the information, the characters decided to go back to the junkyard that night. Maybe pick up some butcher bones on the way to appease the dogs.

Now, the question is, have I ever used the Junkyard from World of Darkness: Mysterious Places in one of my "official" games, or just in cons? I need to check through my records....