Saturday, July 4, 2015

Beast: The Primordial - The Skull Beneath the Skin

I'm running this game at GenCon, so if you're one of the six people playing, or you're thinking of, like, subduing them Hitman style and disguising yourself as one of them, don't read this.

Our game is set in Pittsburgh. The Hive-Trait, up until recently, was Swarm (little crawly-bugs in everyone's Lair). Over the last week or so, though, it's changed to Slick (black mold covering surfaces). The Beasts haven't been too worried; lot of times that means the Apex has changed, which can happen for any number of reasons. But the vampires in the city have been concerned. Rumors are going around about a disease spreading among the Kindred that leaves them dead and decaying, but slowly.Vampires are going to ground, like they do in such situations.

Our characters are:

  • Bethany Bartok, a Mekhet of the Ordo Dracul and a night technician at the hospital. She's a bit of a hypochondriac, and so this "disease" is freaking her out quite a bit. 
  • Roland Franklin, Eshmaki Predator. Roland is a mortician's assistant for the Pittsburgh PD. He considers himself a scholar of carnage; he investigates murder sites, but goes after human killers to sate his Hunger.
  • Dragona Pavric, Namtaru Tyrant. The sister of a Croatian mobster, brother Adam calls Dragona in when he really wants to scare someone. She's a professional sadist and aspiring urban legend. She has a crush on a butcher.
  • Stuart Lensley, Makara Collector. Stuart is a beat cop, and steals drugs and other things from people on the street that they don't really need
  • Britt Edwards, Anakim Nemesis. Britt tends bar at Scarpaci's, a little dive bar in the Croatian section of town. She reads Tarot cards for people when they ask, but has been known to visit punishment on people who confess sins to her. 
The characters had a nice little thing going; Stuart and Roland are co-workers, of course. Dragona is Croatian and knows the folks in the neighborhood, and they meet up at Scarpaci's when they need to talk. 

Tonight, Bethany calls up Roland and asks whether he's heard anything about a weird fungal infection. Roland hasn't (he wouldn't, until it killed someone), but agrees to ask the others. They meet up at Scarpaci's and do a little checking around, and remember that a couple of hipsters got jumped near a restaurant called Marian's a week or so back. One of those hipsters is still in the hospital. Bethany does some checking - he's there with a fungal infection, and there were hazmat guys there earlier in the week, but he seems to be improving, but slowly. 

Marian's is a local place that's become popular with the hipster crowd wandering in from the next neighborhood over (which has become gentrified), Muggings are not uncommon, and neither are vampire attacks disguised as muggings. The Beasts wonder if maybe the hipster passed the fungus on to a vampire, or vice versa. They decide to look into it as a favor to Bethany (and since it's apparently affecting them at least a bit; their Lairs are getting moldy). Britt and Dragona go looking around the neighborhood to find another vampire to chat with, and Roland and Stuart go to the hospital to talk to the stricken hipster. 

They visited Bethany in the lab first, and talked with her about taking samples. They access the hipster's history and learn that he came in following a mugging, and looked anemic at first. His fungal infection nearly killed him and samples were sent to CDC and USAMIIRD, but he seemed to be responding to antifungals now. Stuart and Roland decided to get some fresh samples (Bethany was very much of the "fuck that, staying in my nice sterile lab" opinion). They went up at talked to the guy. He had a hole in his memory following the mugging; Roland noted that this was a common vampire feeding tactic. They took samples and sent some info to Dragona and Britt. 

The two ladies, meanwhile, looked around the neighborhood and found a vampire hanging out and texting. Dragona used Passing Resemblance and struck up a conversation with him, and learned he was from Philly and was supposed to meet a local Kindred called Ivan. Dragona knew Ivan, but hadn't seen him around lately. The visitor, when he heard about the fungus, said that something similar had happened in Philly a few years back - the fungus would build up in abandoned buildings and move like it had a mind, keeping Kindred undead but dissolving them over a period of nights. He then took off. 

Figuring that Ivan might have been the vampire that fed on the hipster, either contracting the fungus or spreading it, they kept looking about. Back at the hospital, Stuart and Roland talked with the patient and learned that he had been attacked near Marian's, but couldn't remember what happened afterwards. He was doing better now, but had come in with a high fever and fungus under his nails. The Beasts took samples, but figured that humans, at least, could be cured given medical intervention. They brought samples to Bethany, who confirmed that he was on the mend and asked them to incinerate the samples immediately. They did, mostly (Roland kept one for himself). 

Dragona and Britt went looking for Ivan at Marian's (he hung out there sometimes after feeding). He wasn't there, and the cook said he'd gotten a call from Ivan few nights back, but figured he'd been butt-dialed; all he heard was a weird noise, like someone pouring jelly from a jar. Figuring that Ivan had succumbed to the fungus, and realizing it had happened in the area, they looked around and found an abandoned building. Dragona recognized it as a Chamber - something had happened here, maybe Ivan's attack. 

Stuart and Roland on the way, Britt took an aerosol can and a lighter and lit the fungus up. It burned, but it parted to get away from the fire. They backed up a bit - they'd need something bigger. 

The others arrived, and Stuart used his Siren's Treacherous Song Atavism to coax the fungus out of the building, whereupon Roland poured gas on it and lit it on fire. Back in the building, Britt sensed danger - a Beast dripped down out of the fungus and solidified. Dragona recognized him as Amon, the Apex, but instead of (or rather, in addition to) being a swarm of bugs, he was now displaying fungus in his eyes and fingertips. He apparently took the burning personally. 

He lashed out with bugs, and injured the characters, but Britt hit him with All Your Teeth Are Falling Out, Stuart hit him with his Makara birthright, and Dragona and Roland took a turn to study him (Eye of Heaven and Killer Instinct, respectively). Roland lashed out with Limb from Limb, and Dragona followed up with a blow from a piece of rebar she found, and that split his skull open. Mostly it was just fungus in there; Amon was almost entirely gone. 

With the Apex dead, Dragona took on the mantle. The fungus in the Beasts' Lairs dried up, but was replaced with everything shrinking (Lairs took on the Cramped Trait). 

They left the fungus there to burn, and headed back to Scarpaci's, several of them needing to feed their hungry Horrors. Hopefully, that takes care of the fungus.