Thursday, April 19, 2018

Promethean: Leaving Lexington

Monday we ended a story in Promethean. I think we may actually have lit a fire under some collective asses, but I know that I'm definitely more hype to run the next story than I was, so that's good.

Last time, there was a lot of water and some sapped Pyros and some visions. This time, we had to wrap up those visions, because recall that last time Matt and Feather didn't get to have their collective vision. So!

Matt and Feather find themselves walking in a cave. They follow a light and emerge from an archway into an immense mineshaft with gigantic gears in the walls. Feather recognizes this...she punched it at one point. From behind them, they hear a voice and turn to see a searing light.

The light speaks to them, and reveals that since Feather stood up to "the Machine" and Matt is generally into angels, the Principle is showing them something a little "behind the curtain." It tells them that the beings they've talked to haven't all been qashmallim - the skull cowboy dude that they saw waaaaay back in Tuscon was an angel, a servant of the God-Machine. The light also reveals to them something that happened in the past. It shows them a throng of Prometheans walking to the edge of the pit with the gears. One Promethean is big and deformed, and they hear him called "Cancer Boy." And then they witness another one shove Cancer Boy off into the gears. "Don't shed any tears for Cancer Boy," says the voice when Feather expresses concern.

It reveals that by greasing the gears this way, the Machine changed something. The Principle isn't sure what exactly happened, but the Machine is looking for something and the throng appears to be involved somehow. Matt and Feather ask a couple of questions, and the voice says that the Machine and the Principle have a complicated relationship and that the Machine is much more rigid. The Principle wants Prometheans to complete the Great Work, and it's flexible on how that happens - it has to be, that's the nature of the Pilgrimage. The voice tells them, too, that they'll meet a rebel angel soon, and what they do to or for him will shape their path.

The two of them come back to the present. The throng reflects on their visions (and the players make the "interpret an Elpis vision" roll), and they take their various steps. Skip (whose player got a dramatic failure on that roll) sees himself with bloodied hands and decides that he needs to continue breaking things, so he resolves to learn Cobalus from Avalon. Avalon, for her part, thinks about the universal milestones and realizes that she's not really any closer to one than the other (she's only got ceratio and multiplicatio to go), it just depends what she does next.

The throng (and Lurch) talk about the God-Machine and the vision. Enoch recalls that Hank's memoir (which, remember, is the fictionalized account of a Ramble) mentions Cancer Boy, and Avalon recites the relevant bits. The throng actually threw two Prometheans into the gears, but the first one jumped willingly (and came back from the River, as Prometheans do) while Hank pushed Cancer Boy because he was angry. And, lo and behold, one of the other Prometheans present was named...Jesse. The same Promethean who'd created the Athanor at which they were presently sitting? Probably.

Matt goes into the crypt and meditates at the Athanor, trying to get back the Pyros it had taken. He winds up learning the secrets of Phosphorum, and learning that it was about risk, passion, death, and ephemerality - life is fragile, and that fragility is beautiful. He realizes he could learn more, but only by embracing the Refinement. He does, and in so doing achieves his milestone for Explorer (find the Phosphorum Athanor).

The throng talks about what they'd experienced so far, what the various ephemeral beings they'd seen might be, and the implications of what they'd read in the Ramble. They wonder if they could find Jesse, but they aren't at all sure where he might be and the Ramble didn't give a clue. Virgil mentions that one of that throng, Marty Black, at one point created an online resource for Prometheans, so Avalon gets online and finds it.

Jesse had, in fact, logged on, and not all that long ago. See, in-game, it's June 2008, and he logged in back in May, talking about how three people were killed on the same night, in the same way, in locked rooms...in three different cities. He mentions going to investigate, but the throng doesn't know if he went to Columbus, Tulsa, or Detroit.

Detroit, of course, is where all the craziness with the God-Machine went down, but Columbus is closer, so the throng decides to pack up and head out there. Lurch, though, asks a favor - could they take him to a hospice, first?

They drive him to such a place, and Enoch asks if he wants anyone to go in with him. He says no, but maybe wait around, since he isn't sure how this is going to go. He goes in, and then a while later walks out, stops, and stares up at the sky with a strange look.

Feather, feeling the stirrings of Vitriol, gets out and approaches him and asks if he's OK. He says he is, and he understands. She asks what it's like, and he says "Someday, I think you'll know," and bursts into flames.

When the fire subsides, he's a little shorter (but still very tall), and he's dressed in scrubs. He asks if Feather is there to see someone, and she says that yes, she and her family came here in the RV to visit someone. The orderly, Larry, tells her that maybe she ought to come back a little later - they just lost someone.

Feather tells Larry it was nice to meet him, and gets back in the RV, having achieved the Pilgrim Role (Witness the New Dawn). The throng watches him go back into the hospice, where he works, apparently. They head off, and decide to get Waffle House before heading north to Columbus.

(NB: Hank, Jesse, Cancer Boy, and Marty Black were from my first Promethean chronicle, The Water of Life. The "three-murders-in-one-night" thing was the inciting incident in The Key.)