Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ceteri S1E2: Crisis, Mayhem, and Murky Waters

Events:

The following was recorded by Emily, as I wasn't around for this part of play.

24-Sep-2017 14:47

Agrivain Tashaslan (Travis): Absent; Missing.
Landon Winchester (Alex): Absent; Left a note: Gone to check on something, Yanay is in charge until he returns. He wants us to track down leads.
Leo Brienza (Emily): Present; Went back to his appartment and picked up his stuff, slept, and then went back to the company headquarters.
Mike Bastian (Andre): Present; Prayed and slept.
Yanay Servantes (Annia): Present; Skipped sleep, brewed potions.

There's a sense of unease in Boston. We can't contact anyone in the conclave, the phones are down. Agrivain probably went to check on Olivia. Contacting the vampire brood was unproductive, we keep getting the brush off ("They're not here, call back later.").
Leo's been contacted by half a dozen of his contacts. Things are *crazy* right now. Lots of high value targets from the supernatural community in the city have been hit, people are dead, groups are scattered. There were also 6 bank robberies, an art heist, and a jewelery store robbery, in the greater Boston area yesterday, they were staggered start, some overlap. Seems to be set up to keep the police occupied running from one crisis to the next. ~$90 million stolen, managed to avoid geotrackers and dye packs.
Police theory is that some sort of crime family moving in. Local crime is controlled on a family basis, with mostly Irish and Italian families in charge.

Yanay visits the police and works them over for information, playing them with her excellent psychological skills. The criminal and supernatural underworld is terrified. A lot of homeless people disappearing. The crime families are bunkering, and do not yet blame each other. They're expected to go on the war path once they know what the hell is going on. Gang bangers hit up Christian Herter Park yesterday too, about 25 hit it up guns blazing with no obvious motivation. By the time the cops showed up, the gang members were dead, 23 dead humans, and 8 "probably humans" with canines and funky bone structures", lots of corpses on fire. There's only one intact vampire body, the rest burned. The gang members were shot, stabbed, broken necks, none of the gang members were burned. This happened between two to three hours before the party (between 7-8 PM).
The word Leo gets is that this gang was going to be making a big drug deal downtown, 2-3kg, but never made it. They were buying, probably from a mid to top distributor probably with one of the crime families.

Mike calls his girlfriend Suzette, she can't talk much right now as the proverbial shit has hit the wall and is everywhere. Mike offers to help, but Suzette thinks this might be a bad idea. They haven't been able to reach the Conclave either. Mike asks to see her but Suzette says to call her back later tonight. Her family are in the middle of shutting down their HQ and retreating to their chapter house. As far as she knows, the other warlock families are doing the same.

Alan Lanbetter (the Duke's mortal persona) calls us at Landon's office. Yanay takes the phone. He reports 197 dead, and 50 casualties that may not live. It looks like at least 400 attackers - perhaps 60, 70 casualties on their side. They targeted soft targets and then bailed out through the portals.
He reports that their contact at the Kveldsongr clan of werewolves have gone silent. They were celebrating Walpurgisnacht.


List of known targets of this offensive:
The fey (badly hit at the midsommer festival)
The Conclave (very literally missing)
Some vampires (8) and some drug dealing gang members (23) - murderated and fireballed or something.
Kveldsongr werewolves - incommunicando.

This all happened with the new moon, midsommer, and walpurgisnacht appening today.

~12 PM
Right across the street is a Mexican Grill, down the street is the Chicken And Rice guys (middle eastern street cart).
We go out for Chipotle for lunch, swap background information, and try to figure out what the hell.  We throw ideas around, note that the string of mundane crimes rolls through the timeline into the park assault, which basically rolls into the attack on the party (but that last one had a small one or two hour gap).
The werewolves own an entire island (Langlee Island) - there is no bridge access, only by boat, no charter.

We stopped the game to discuss how you catch lycanthropy, is it sexually transmitted, and what happens if you're carying a werewolf baby at the full moon.

We head out to Langlee Island. We rent a paddle boat, notice nobody has boating, or swimming, and struggle our way across the lake on default rolls. We arive at the dock on the west side, the island is quiet, too quiet. There's a norse-style longhouse, 100 feet in length or so.

While walking down the path to the longhouse, Leo suddenly freezes. Yanay and Mike ask him what's wrong, and Leo doesn't answer. Leo doesn't even move. Yanay and Mike look up and see a bird frozen in the air as well. Yanay tentatively pokes her hand into the air past Leo, and nothing happens. Mike and Yanay grab Leo and struggle to pull him back to saftey, he suffers a wrenching whiplash and recovers with a small injury. Now that we know its there, the line of effect is faintly visible. Yanay examines it, and deduces its a huge very-slow-time effect, cast from outside the area of effect. It is too big to challenge, there are no ley lines near by to power either.
Mike tries to pray for assistance and recieves no answer... uncomfortably.
We worry the Conclave suffered a similar fate. Leo asks Yanay to determine when the giant time stop ward was cast. It was cast about a day ago, on the 30th of April, some time after sundown - they were targeted first, probably (don't know about the Conclave). The spell is so big it would have taken a group of at least 20 powerful sorcerers performing ritual magic to cast.
Mike decides we should look around the edge of the time stop effect for more evidence of the attackers - tracks, etc. We find a very large man (7') frozen near the edge of the effect, walking away from the Lodge and towards us. He looks surprised. We decide to rescue him. Yanay casts a protective spell on Mike to reduce the effects of the spell on him, then Mike prays for divine power to assist him as he reaches in and yanks the big guy out of the field.
Our new "friend" comes out slightly injured, not nearly as bad as Leo though. He immediately lashes out at Mike and grabs him out of the throat - but Mike is still filled with the righeousness of Jesus and the power of the Christ Chex he ate for breakfast, and he resists the worst of being throttled by the throat by this huge dude, then wriggles out of the grapple. The new guy is angry but we talk him down quickly, explaining the situation is a giant disaster and we are investigating it, not causing it. He calls for a temporary truce using the formal term of the Conclave, then casts a diagnostic spell on the time stop ward. Yanay says to him that it's a giant time stop spell that owuld take at least 20 sorcerers, he says more like 30.
We introduce ourselves to him, he is Aldrick Thorsson, the brother of the clan leader and the clans executioner. He is not a werewolf, instead he is a Vanir, a bear skinturner, rumoured to be the son of Thor, and 1200 years old. He says everyone was at the celebration, as far as he knew.
Yanay discretely hides her silver jewelery.
Looking around we can see a few other people 20 yards in, but we can't possibly reach them. Aldrick tells us we're going to help him fix that, we agree thuroughly. He wants an etheric battery, because obviously we just don't have the power to do this. He can make one, which is going to be necessary as his clans resources seem to have been one of the targets of the bank roberies.
Aldrick is too dignified to take our paddle boat and uses one of theirs to cross (we tie our boat to his). When we get to the parking lock, Aldrick's car has its tires slashed. The other vehicles are also trashed. Aldrick takes this with more aplomb than we expected; but he promptly breaks into the other cars and collects enough compatible tyres for his car, hands them to us with a tyre iron, and then goes and stands at the edge of the parking lot while we sort his car out. It takes about an hour to do the tyre dance; Yanay leaves the men to do it.

3PM

We drive to Aldrick's place, and it's been firebombed. Aldrick smashes through the ruined floorboards of one of the rooms, and pulls out an ancient steamer trunk. He tosses that into the jeep and throws the keys to us, and tells us to drive to our headquarters, wherever that is.
It takes about half an hour.
Our secretary has a few messages for us - she oggles Aldrick's ass while we read them.
A cop contact called for Yanay, he got a weird call from the coroner and thinks Yanay might want to check the body out since she's "into this kind of stuff".
Landon says he's still tied up and won't be back tonight.
Yanay tries to get Aldrick to tell us what the heck he's up to and he's unhelpful. He gives us a list of stuff he needs, and gives us a bag of "money" from his chest. He says that it probably won't cover it so we'll need to loan him the rest. He says they should take our card.

First we check out the weird corpse at the morgue, with Yanay's cop buddy Charles "Charlie" McCurdy. They're so overflowed with bodies right now that they haven't had a chance to put everyone in the deep freezers.

Talking to Charlie, we confirm the 23 gangers (Back Bay Butchers) were killed with violence, with a lot of precise bullet holes, and two had the back of their heads smashed in. The vampires were killed with two precise thrusts of blades into the kidneys and eviscerated. Witnesses are very confused, and can't remember what anything looked like.

One is charred heavily, probably at 1200C (vampire fangs), and the stench is pretty bad. Yanay and Leo exchange looks. Charlie rolls out another corpse, the top of its head has been sheared off. Everyone is grossed out, but Leo is positively squicky.

Mike eyeballs the burnt corpses. There's a slight smell of myrhh, and he figures that someone called down the holy fire of heaven on the Vampires. Mike pulls us aside and shares this, and wonders if they attacked the Crusader and it was self defense, or if a Crusader(s)/Angel is on team Explosion.
We notice also that many of the Butchers have tan lines for rings and watches and such, but they are all missing all personal effects, documents, wallets, jewelery, etc.

We decide to head out to pick up Aldricks stuff - we take Leos Ford Focus and visit Rhys Conatser who is Yanay's regular supplier. Rhys masquerades as a Head shop. He comments that we're the first customers he's seen all day, and he's quite aware of the situation - he seems a bit surprised we actually are out and about. We hand him Aldricks list and Rhys points out that it's some pricy stuff ($33 000 after subtracting the 12 gold coins Aldrick gave us); the last time Yanay put her shopping trip on the company card Landon called him up and yelled at him for three hours.

Yanay offers to help him with his "herb garden" with her magical gift with plants, and Rhys is very much appreciative of this offer and trades for a discount. He has a fair crop of "Medicinal Herbs" along with purple lotus and various other medicinal and magical plants. We get sent away with a very expensive bill and a 30 lb chunk of quartz, along with other items (purified copper, other odds and ends). Rhys says to stay out of the coming storm; he's shutting down this afternoon and not going to open again until all blows over.

We drive back to the headquarters, and get back by about 5PM.

The shapeshifters now owe us quite a bit; an alliance seems likely. Now all the questions about werewolf STDs makes sense.

Aldrick's taken over one of the board rooms as his ritual work space; he's got at least three days of work ahead of him. We suggest he stay here for safety in the mean time, and give him Landons room ("It's the best room, apropriate for your status. Not to get Landon at all. Of course.") Leo is going to stay here tonight also.

About 6:00 we head out to have a look at what happened to the Conclave, and swing by a McDonalds for takeout. Leo orders four double quarterpounders with cheese and bacon, and a large fries, also with bacon, and a bottle of water. Yanay has a salad and a side of fries, and an orange juice. Mike orders the kids meal and donates to Ronald McDonald House.

We go to the Conclave house and everything seems like business as usual, but the guard (Hong Li, who's familiar to us) seems squirmy. Yanay tries to charm some information out of him. He says they haven't heard from the Custos headquarters at all. It's like it's totally missing. We've got an illusion up to hide it, but the only people that can be found were the off-shift guards and whoever were just accidentally outside.

There's a security measure on the HQ that can shunt it into a side dimenison, but that requires access to keys. I ask if there's a crusader organization in town, I want to double-check if they've also been hit. Li curses, and askes if Gladius Dei are in town. They used to be part of the Conclave but left in an argument over "suffering a witch to live". But they operate in small terrorist cells of 14-16 people, not nearly enough to do any of the big things we've seen - the huge time stop spell, those gates at the fey realm festival.

We're suspicious now that someone is playing a huge game of Lets You And Him Fight. Who likes to operate by offering great power to people, and having it all turn destructive? Demons. Yanay had a vision yesterday about an army of angels fighting an army of demons. That's our operating theory right now.

We head back to the Bedford building to camp for the night.

03-Oct-2017

Agrivain Tashaslan (Travis): Absent; Missing.
Landon Winchester (Alex): Present; returned from checking up on the conclave with A Mission.
Leo Brienza (Emily): Present.
Mike Bastian (Andre): Present.
Yanay Servantes (Annia): Present.

Notable NPC: Jarl Aldrick Thorsson, Vanir, bear skinturner, executionioner for the werwolf clan.

Due to Aldrick's importance and high status, we gave him the best room in the Bedford building to rest and recuperate in. That happened to be Landons.

Landon went to get some paperwork and some licensing information from one of the Conclave's departments, and walked into a shitstorm. The lines of communication that were established through Underhill, the various lines of technologically assisted magic
communication - they're just not working.
People can call out but nobody can call in and it's led to a lot of chaos. He found out while he was at the Conclave that there were something like 14 to 18 major incidents on May 1st. They ranged from specific people getting killed, like Leary and Bérenger (who used to be a part of the Conclave until she retired) and the disappearance of the Murphy family - to just a bunch of random cabals and kogans being
knocked out. Most of the hits were through mundane methods but we've also heard about unseelie fairy assassins coming in and just wiping the floor with people.

Agravaine went with Landon and when he found out that the Conclave headquarters had been hit as well, he went there to check up on Olivia. We haven't heard from him since, but with communications down it's to be expected.

The Conclave has recruited Landon to get out there and spread the fact that communications are not working, and to find out exactly what's going on with the unselie. The Conclave has had some problems with the unseelie too and that is exceptionally weird, as the Duke has a KOS policy towards unseelie. They basically want Landon to continue doing what hes doing for the Duke, because they feel that the unseelie hit on the May-Eve celebration is connected, but they'd also like him to send off at least some of his people to establish lines of communication with the rest of the world. Physical messages (letters, couriers) are not being interfered with, but magical and technologically assisted communications are being scrambled.

We're reminded that the way that when Conclave buildings are under a severe attack, they literally pour themselves into a side dimension until everything is safe. They should be able to observe the situation in our dimension from their position. It appears that the Conclave HQ's defenses may have been triggered - but they haven't come back, which suggests they're stuck.

The guy that's currently in charge of the Conclave (Williamson) is like the mystical equivalent of the USDA; the rest of the government is missing. A very large chunk of their military / policing / secret police force of the Custos is gone; they had around 120-150 heavily  trained and equipped sorcerers, but now they've been reduced to 20. Everyone else was in the HQ when it slid sideways. This is why they are pulling in all the "human resources" they can get their hands on; they just don't have the warm bodies to investigate.

It's about 8:00 p.m. on May 2nd. Agravaine went with Landon and when he found out that the Conclave headquarters had been hit as well, he went there to check up on Olivia. We haven't heard from him since, no phone calls are getting through; with communications down it's to be expected. We're pretty sure he can take care of himself and aren't worrying about him yet.

When Landon gets back to the Bedford building, he goes directly to fall into his bed before we can warn him about the houseguest. A very tired Landon, upon finding a large hairy (naked) man sleeping under his 3000-thread-count Egyptian cotton bed sheets, pitches a temper tantrum - and very nearly gets a thrown axe in his face for waking up Aldrick Thorsson. Leo physically removes Landon from the room before Aldrick can toss another axe, while hurriedly trying to shush him. Landon rants loudly about how he's going to have to burn those sheets now because we've left some hobo sleep in them. In between Landons furious outbursts we manage to explain that Mr. Thorsson is _not_ a deity, but instead a 1200-odd year old half deity and deserved the finest quarters in the building. Landons indignation is briefly dampened as he processes this information.

We can hear Aldrick stirring and quickly the whole team escorts Landon from the hallway to the boardroom (as the best room to have screaming arguments in, although it's half magical laboratory now).

Landon decides that he will consider this all an honest error and try not to think about it.

We then fill Landon in on the full events of the afternoon, including rescuing Aldrick from the time stop ward. He also gets told how much of his money we spent buying that huge quartz chunk - unfortunately Landons rage is stoked again ("I would forgive you guys if that money was spent on new bed sheets!") Landon gives a briefing to the rest of us on where he's been and what he's learned. In turn, we fill Landon in, and then we brainstorm theories as to who could be behind this mess. Landon corrects us on the idea of Hell being directly involved, being too dangerous for Hell to contemplate. The comparison is that the Mortal World is a tiny nation stuck as a neutral zone between two nuclear powers - if one of them directly trespasses WWIII breaks out and the Mortal World loses no matter what. However, it's *entirely* possible that Hell arranged things more indirectly - selling information on good ley lines to tap to one person, selling artifacts to someone else, sending warlocks to e.g. help the Unseelie court open those gates...
Our problem right now is that we have too many Mabeys and not enough concrete information.

During this, Aldrick follows us into the boardroom (still naked, but carrying pants that he thankfully starts putting on or Yanay's brain might have melted down), and we hurriedly make introductions. Leo unfortunately and quite accidentally completely flubs mentioning Landons titles. Landon firmly corrects Leo and pointedly asks Aldrick if *he* has any titles - only to discover he's been hurling abuse at an Earl (Jarl). Landon advises Aldrick that Crimson Law is happy to help in any way; it's good to be in business with someone as important as Aldrick. Aldrick may or may not owe Crimson Law money, or favours.

We go back to the current problem, and Aldrick suggests the communications problem is due to a Babylon Stone, an actual stone from the Biblical Tower of Babel. We all recognize that - due to Gods intervention to shatter the language of mankind, the stones of Babel carry a lingering power that cause problems with communicating with others. The more stones you have, the harder it is for people in that area to communicate. About 400 years ago an alchemist named Nicholas Flamel figured out how to direct the power of those stones so it only affects a specific group or people or person - he weaponized them. A single Stone doesn't have a lot of power, but about 100 in one place would be enough to blanket all of Boston. If we can find three or four points on the edges of the effect, we can figure out where the center of the effect is, and therefore where the Stones must be. A shortcut might be to look for major Ley Lines that intersect near the center of Boston (ley lines probably being used to power the magic that controls the Babylon Stones).

Unfortunately, the Conclave controls the knowledge of major ley line locations strictly. Fortunately, Yanay is packed with secret information about ley lines, and has a fantastic memory. It takes a grueling seven hours, but by 3AM she produces a detailed map of the Boston ley lines that the Department of Telluric Regulation would be proud of. While Yanay slaves away, Landon finds a five star hotel to sleep in, Leo runs out for a "quick snack" before crashing, and Mike just goes to bed. Yanay passes out on her map. At 8AM Yanay awakens to find Aldrick (clothed) working on his project, although he stops long enough to shove a cup of coffee under her sleepy nose. Yanay pulls the papers off her face and drinks her coffee. Leo runs to the McDonalds to grab four sausage and egg McMuffins, a small coffee, and two hashbrowns (he just can't resist when they offer the second one). Landon collects a $500 dollar breakfast from his 5-star hotel and brings it back to Brimstone Law in a lovely carved wood "doggy bag" - what's the point of having a $500 breakfast if other people can't see you eat it? Leo, meanwhile, has two grease-stained brown paper bags. Mike has bread and water.

Turning back to Aldricks project, he's building a battery to collect enough power to fuel the huge ritual that would be needed to free the island. Batteries unfortunately need to be charged - it can either be trickle charged (a very slow process) or it can be tapped into a significant magical source, such as a major Ley Line. Conveniently, Yanay has finished a *fantastic* map, although she has ley lines on it that Aldrick is pretty sure are Top Secret. Aldrick picks out a great intersection... which happens to be near the center of the city. Good for looking for Babylon Stones, good for charging batteries. How convenient!

We split up into two cars, Landon in his chaufeured limousine, Leo driving his Ford Focus. Yanay navigates Boston traffic beautifully, and (with a break for Leo to grab some quick drive-thru food) we arrive at a park outside Boston, near the Blue Hills reservation. The ley energy is so strong we can all feel it. Normally the park is busy during the day, but with all the excitement, Bostonians seem to have decided to stay indoors.

Aldrick sniffs around, and declares that there's some sort of blockage on the line. It's not as powerful as it should be. It could be deliberately damned up, or it could be a natural blockage. Yanay uses magic to try to divine the source of the magic; as she mumbles in a foreign language, the entire area lights up with blue witch light. Cracks form along the ground and something starts coming out...

Everything after this point was recorded by me. (Agrivaine)

They leave the ley line in the forest. Evidently the Ley Line has been cracked by a sorcerer, who used it for a quick super-charge, damaging it in the process.

An entire department in the Conclave is dedicated to fixing such things, and thwacking people who damage Ley Lines.

Aldrick is working on some kind of magical battery on the conference room table in Landon's penthouse suite. He intends to fix it so that it can be used to overload the spell that's keeping his entire family in stasis. 

Meanwhile, Olivia and Agrivaine are in a Dunkin. Olivia's being kept alive with casts of Halt Death, and kept ambulatory with Painkiller. Something is tracking the pair, something... extradimmensional. Aggie's cellphone is toast. He's keeping onlookers from leering by putting a glamour on Olivia so her wounds are immediately apparent. 

They limp back to base, scaring the day receptionist. Everyone swarms around Olivia and Agrivaine, seeing to her wounds. She's holding on by a thread.

Yanay gets into Landon's files on his staff, contacting a doctor/EMT type fellow on the payroll. The dude forces Agrivaine to donate some blood to Olivia against Aggie's protests. At some point Aggie and Olivia both get healing spells from Yanay. 

Yanay recognizes it as a dimensional shambler, a nameless one that was stuck inbetween realities.  

Leo and Mike both pass out while giving blood. Aggie manages to stay conscious. 

Aggie calls Trish to come over to see to Olivia's longer-term care.

Mike feels an angelic presence, and he, Yanay and Aggie see Samael over her bed.

Samael says that Olivia's still dying, while appreciating Aggie's efforts to keep her alive, stating that Aggie tries to do the right thing.

Samael wants a favor from Aggie in the future in return for healing Olivia. Aggie agrees, with the stipulation that anything Samael requests can't be something Olivia would want to kill Agrivaine for doing.

Samael and Aggie strike the deal, and Samael uses Mike as a conduit to heal Olivia. 

Trish shows up, carrying coffee. Aggie's is obviously not Dunkin like everyone else's. 

Leo sees about making an appropriate stretcher for Olivia. Aggie convinces Trish to watch Olivia's recovery. He sees about securing some Fred Astaire DVDs for her as a way of saying thanks.

Aggie takes the opportunity to catch some sleep. Leo helps Aldrick, Yanay sees if he silver tears may be of use for powering up the battery, and Mike tries to contact his girlfriend for help powering up the battery.

The team gets together to plan, feeding info ti Aggie. Yanay's map of the ley lines is especially good, up to the quality of conclave's agency for such things.

Aggie gets a good overview- there's at six supernatural attacks, four mundanes, and numerous locations that have just been blown up. Lots of unseelie activity, temportal stasis fields, disrupted communications, and homeless people disappearing. 

  • Dutchy of Broken Promises
  • Werewolves attacked, put under a quasi-stasis field
  • Demonreach Murphy Island appears to be just gone
  • Conclave HQ and the Custos HQ have been shunted elsewhere, as part of their normal security systems. Conclave can't bring them back properly.
We decide to start seeing about gathering allies and 'rallying the banners', to organize resistance to whatever forces are at play. We head for Suzette's family's enclave.

Mike spends some time trying to get past the gate, managing to trip their alarm systems into activity. He eventually gets a guy named Candid to break the security lockdown under the guise of getting a pizza delivered. We ask him about Suzette.

We're told to wait in the lobby. Suzette eventually comes out, catches up with Mike, and then leads us to her Uncle, Magnus.

Magnus is swayed to help, and then Magnus' head of house, Taylor, steps in. Taylor questions Leo about whether Leo's father is involved in whatever is going on.

We ask Taylor to share info, and he paints a bad picture of shit almost heading to Civil War. He makes it clear that he's unhappy that Magnus' involvement could be construed as his house getting involved in the political arena. He hands Agrivaine two marbles- one for communication, one that Agrivaine doesn't recognize.

We piled into Magnus' tricked out van. It's surprisingly spacious inside, has a house-sized AC unit shoved into a window, is tricked out with shag carpet, and is crammed with tech goodies. 

Leo is granted an unscheduled consultation with the Dimensional Shambler, which appears on the hood of the car, shanking him in the vitals for 33 damage. Leo loses control of the car, and the Shambler disappears after the car flips.

We stop to turn around and help Leo.

The Shambbler reappears on top of Leo's Ford Focus. Mike charges it, and then suddenly the Shambler is squashed through some kind of hole.

Yanay and Mike see to Leo's wounds. Magnus suggests that we leave- quickly, sprinkling powder on Leo's car. 

Magnus identifies the Shambler as Luxari the Impala Impaler, a killer for hire among shamblers. He explains that reality doesn't like them, because of their unnatural nature, and does its best to squash them out. Magnus likens them to the spaces between letters in words. 

Yanay gets a hold of Landon's EMT buddy and tries to persuade him to help another stab victim. He does his best on Leo, easily convinced that some kind of serial killer is on the loose.

Leo was attacked in an attempt to get the van we were all in to crash- Magnus' driving skills saved the day.

Aldric and Magnus begrudgingly get to work on the battery. Aldric orders a ludicrous amount of food from a local Chinese restaurant. Mike and Suzette slip off for some private time.

Aldric invites everyone to eat, encouraging us to keep strength up.

Agrivaine and Trish have a conversation about how Olivia is doing, and how a ward against Nameless ones might be appropriate.

We decide to go on a field trip to the Library to hunt down info on the nameless ones.

Agrivaine forces the recovering Leo to fill out a library card app. Leo DOES however stumble on some lifetime membership coupons which he and Yanay get.

Agrivaine gets to work researching the nameless ones. He finds a tome by Abdul Alhazred, among others. Yanay helps, learning that Luxari accepts payment in souls. There is an appropriate warding spell- but it's written in Sanskrit.

Mike confirms that Samael is an archangel, one with a ambiguous reputation. Evidently he's good buddies with another angel named Zophiel.

Agrivaine spends his last hour hunting for spells- coming across a particularly interesting tome with a few spells that could be extremely problematic. 

Aldric checks out a ton of books about alchemy, crafting, and elemental stuff. He hands Mike a book on info about Angels. Agrivaine talks with the librarian for a little while.

Landon is still in some kind of magical coma after overdosing on ley line energy.

An hour passes- Aggie tries to catch some sleep, while Yanay tracks down someone who can speak Sanskrit. One of her herbalist friends is a possible lead, after she strikes out at local universities.

Mike is getting a contact high from Magnus. Magnus is evidently an aficionado of magically enhanced pot.

The group wakes Aggie up and sets out to go fetch the guy who knows Sanskrit. We stop outside of the shop, honk the horn, and Yanay goes to meet her contact.

Rhys- Yanay's contact- gestures over to a guy whose head is in a large book. The guy's name is Amos, and he evidently knows about ALL of the languages.

We explain to him where we got the tome with the Sanskrit spell, and offer to get him an application for the library.


Four dimmensional shamblers decide to pay us a visit in the shop. Mike gets slashed in the foot, Leo takes a shot to the leg, Rhys loses a leg, and Yanay barely avoids getting hurt.

Amos retreats a little and pulls out a slingshot. Agrivaine burns a use of foresight to produce a charm of Death Aura, sucking the energy out of nearby shamblers.

Mike avoids getting hit by another Shambler. Leo proceeds to shoot one in the face. Mike stabs one. Rhys is attacked again, this time in the vitals, and he dies.

One of the Shamblers teleports behind Leo, but trips up somehow and gets stunned.


Amos shoots one in the chest with a ball bearing. Yannay then casts Moonfire, burning one to a crisp.

Agrivaine attempts to cast Agony on Luxari the Imapala Impaler, but the spell is resisted. Leo fires three shots at a Shambler, hitting with all three shots, killing it. 

Mike burns some FP limping over to Luxari, stabbing it in the torso but failing to penetrate its DR.

Luxari does a -4 deceptive dual-weapon attack on Mike, but the holy warrior manages to parry both hits with his shield.

Amos quick-draws another stone from his ammo pouch and shoots it at the remaining flunky shambler.

Luxari falls unconscious. 

We dither about whether to attempt to trap the creature, or burn it with fire. We opt for the trap, since we believe that burning is less likely to stick.

Luxari starts speaking in a language that hurts all of us. We learn that contracts can be annulled if the target dies- such as their heart stopping beating.

Yanay tries to appease Rhys' spirit, having Aggie call back his spirit. He's initially pissed, but is mollified by Yanay asking to take a final will/testament. 

Amos uses his knowledge of poisons to help us kill Leo- followed by everyone throwing in to help resuscitate Leo. We manage to bring him back to life at -35hp.

We talk with Amos for a bit, learning that vampires have been chasing after him and his team, and were part of attack the others looked into at the park.

Amos refuses to answer who trained him and his friends. He mentions a conclave safehouse, being run by Williams Sims, a name we recognize. Sims is the head of supernatural flora and fauna for the Conclave, basically our magical equivalent of the USDA.

It's not a department that makes Aggie very confident that competent leadership is in place. Amos explains that they located the location via psychic means. 

We decide to deal with Luxari by making him agree to a contract- he won't ever target an employee or client of Brimstone law, and we'll let him free. Before we loose him, we decide to try and use divination to figure out who sent him.

Yanay casts Scry. She sees a woman with blonde hair who is casting a spell repeatedly. The woman's eyes are missing something- it's like she has a seething madness inside of her. She's got a gold ring with a black opal for a stone. There's a carved D in the opal. She's dressed really well. The skyline has Boston to the Southeast. 

Once Yanay has returned to the group, she relays what she's seen. 

We free Luxari after confirming the details of our arrangement, and then we head for Brimstone law. Yanay and Amos raid Rhys' shop for herbs. Agrivaine spots something he wants and nabs it before leaving. 

We spend some time cleaning the scene and harvesting the bodies of the shamblers for materials.

We head back to Brimstone law, Amos in tow. We're dead set on making sure he gets a library card.

Leo is seen to by Landon's doctor, who gives him a heavy dose of morphine and a saline IV drip. 

We determine that Amos is an untrained sorcerer. If he properly trains himself, he could endure the trials and join the Conclave.

Amos' cat Hobbs is at Brimstone law- something that freaks Agrivaine out a little bit. 

We get into the Library (finally), and see about getting Amos a card. He uses Professional Skill (Librarian) as an influence skill on Clio.

Aldric is also there, and evidently Amos and him had a run together in the past where Aldric helped the B-Team out of a jam. Aldric is informed that Maryam is 'gone', and it gets a really large reaction from the norse Demigod.

Aldric comments 'Bloody Mary is dead.' Which Agrivaine takes note of to follow up on.

Evidently, the Duke we were with when the fairy death squads was related to Maryam.

Aldric grabs Agrivaine by the collar, demanding that he do a ritual for him- likely the very powerful spell one that he had found previously. 

Yanay finds the Edda, which she uses to read up a little bit on about Aldric.

Aggie asks Mike to invoke Samael. Mike tries to do it, and something goes horribly wrong, and Beelzebub appears. Beelzebub immediately slithers up to Yanay and wraps a hand around her waist, asking why Mike called him.

Beelzebub tries to tempt Mike into giving Beelzebub his soul. Beelzebub is quite tempted by gaining the soul of a Virtue, and is ready to give Mike anything he desires.

Agrivaine tells Beelzebub why he got summoned, and indicates that he's looking for info.

Mike actually gets Samael to show up, and Agrivaine lays out his predicament-

Aldric, a Norse Demigod, wants Agrivaine to bring Maryam back from the dead, and Agraivaine wants Samael and Beelzebub to give assistance.

Samael causes a book to fall off a shelf for Agrivaine to collect, while Agrivaine makes it clear that he's not going to intentionally cause any problems with Samael's charges.

Amos is offered a job as the new research librarian for the Library. Then he and Agrivaine leave to meet the rest of Amos' brothers and bring back Bloody Mary from the dead...

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ceteri S1E1: Aggie doesn't cause a mass causality event, I swear

(apologies on the sparse summary, my internet was crapped out for the first 30 minutes of the session.)

We're enjoying a nice party with a fairy duke when it's crashed by a bunch of combatants. There's a massive brawl:


  • Yanay gets a bunch of goblins to start attacking one another
  • Agravaine zaps an orge with a necrobolt, hits a redcap with agony, and terrifies another
  • Mike kicks ass with his sword
  • Leo shoots a bunch
  • Landon sips wine and allows his servants to deal with the peasants attacking the castle
The team starts to see to the wounded and interrogating what captives we have once the dust settles. Leo, some random useful person who was at the Duke's party, leads the interrogation, finding out that Baron Saoirse Uí Luain was behind the attack.

This attack far surpasses anything else done before as far as fairy hostility goes. We're talking 300 raiders, hundreds of casualties, and a huge diplomatic incident. Their goal was to cause as much chaos as possible, preferably killing as many nobles in the Duke's court as possible. The fact that they were wielding iron weapons is an even bigger deal- fairies killed by iron don't get to enjoy the afterlife.

One fairy captive who spills the beans eventually gets killed by a spell when Christopher decides we've learned enough.

We piece together that linking two places in physical space together that have no existing connections is serious magical mojo, meaning that this attack was logistically costly.

Yanay has some kind of vision from her deity. She sees a bestial army fighting another army. Pretty short and sweet for a vision. She suddenly has silver tears.

Landon convinces the Duke to employ us to investigate the matter further.

The duke is informed by one of his men that Demonreach Murphy Island has been blown up. The Duke has a brother who married into that family, and boots us out so he can figure out what happened there.

Our objective is to discern why the Duke was attacked, and what else is going on.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Ceteri Post-Tral Prequel 1: Voodoo Murder Mystery

The Cast:


Cormac McAllister (Mavrick): The team's scout and master of crossroads. Cormac is also handy with a gun and might not be fully human.

Yanay Servantes (Annia): An Incan witch and powerful spellcaster. Yanay is really good at psychology.

Landon Winchestor (Alex): Rich. Posh. Utterly aggrandizing and pretentious. Still, an effective face.

Mike Bastian (Andre): A holy warrior who fights for the glory of heaven. Easy to guilt trip.

Agravaine Tashalan (Me): The grease that makes the entire team work smoothly. Agravaine is inhumanly and inconveniently attractive, extremely smart, and a real mastermind when it comes to planning.


Events:


Mike gets let in to see Suzzette as a 'priest' who can give 'confessional'. She spews out a bunch of irrelevant stuff, except for the fact that her affair with the dead dude likely killed his marriage.

All indications are that she's not the killer. 

Yanay tells Suzzette to remain strong and cautions her to not tell anything to the police.

We try to search for Holt. Making a series of really bad skill checks, we wind up outside a Boston bar. Ms. Baril is leaving right as we enter.

She strangely offers to buy us all drinks. The bar is a large wrap-around type dealie. There's a few vampires, a troll, some fairies, and a couple other Conclave members present. No normal people seem to be present. 

We all order food. Landon purchases a bottle of wine that's something like $20,000- for the glass. He confirms that it's heavenly.

Baril asks us what we're up to. We tell her, and she suggests getting in touch with a Custos Knight. She offers some information in return for a glass of what Landon just drank. Landon gets her a glass, drops a grand as a tip for the waiter, and Baril hands over a disc and info on her contact.

Baril's instructions lead us to an arcade, where we're instructed to enter the konami code on a machine and then enter a special coin which opens a portal to her contact. 

Yanay uses the coin and code on Street Fighter, and we find ourselves in an airfield where Guile is fighting some green-skinned creature. A guy off to the side is giving medical advice to someone, then accepting pay.

We approach the guy. He introduces himself as Garten Whitby. Yanay introduces us and explains our issue with the Loa. Garten warns us that whoever is doing the murders used a full-on invocation to do his mojo. He goes on to explain that the practitioner is capturing souls and killing the body. It hijacks the normal processes that happen when somebody dies.

Landon starts negotiating to buy a book off Garten that explains more, followed by negotiating for a translation text cause the book is in High Sidhe, then followed by a beneficial ring. Garten gives us some tokens so that we can visit his shop again in the future.

We're booted out. 

We review the film from the hotel and realize that an entity used Misting (abusing the shroud that covers everything and hides the supernatural from norms) to perpetrate the murders without being seen.

We decide to hit some local technomancers to get them to ENHANCE! the footage. We're asked to display our brands. We're told to wait for Magnus, and as we're sitting down in the waiting area there's an explosion from the back.

The receptionist hits on Mike, and rolls crazy high on her reaction roll to Mike. He gets her number.

Magnus storms out, feeling chuffed that we're interrupting his work. He asks us what we want. Upon hearing that we're stopping a member of the supernatural committee from soul trapping morals, he agrees to help.

He takes the footage, does something with it, and plops it into a VCR. We watch.

We're then asked to get Gravedirt from across town. Upon entering the graveyard we're accosted by a guardian spirit dog. We manage to make nice with the dog after Mike displays some of his Divine Power. We grab some gravedirt and beat it back to Magnus.

Magnus uses the dirt to finish some kind of treatment for the tape. He says the treatment should have the cleaned up any illusions on the tape. He goes on the elaborate that he sometimes needs odd jobs done. 

Evidently ALL copies of the tape have been disillusioned.

Mike has a date with the receptionist, for dinner. He's dragged back to her place after a short time, quickly learning the real meaning of some biblical euphemisms.

The next day we put the screws to the Lead Detective, forcing him to review the tapes. It shows what we see- someone who is obviously not Suzette walking out with bloodied hands from the hotel room.

Landon casts a dispell on the particularly obstinate Lead Detective, prompting him to become way less obstinate and accepting of the evidence. 

Agravaine prepares an extensive dossier on the case, which he sends to Olivia. She's not exactly happy that it's been dumped on her plate, but considering someone's gallivanting around stealing souls, she understands it had to be reported.

Landon receives an anonymous mail, filled with photos of Mike's dead family, photos of Landon's family burnt to death, and a note saying "They're connected." The handwriting is elegant.

Yanay calls her family to verify that they're okay. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

C-Team Ceteri Prequel 4: The Last Trial

The Cast:


Cormac McAllister (Mavrick): The team's scout and master of crossroads. Cormac is also handy with a gun and might not be fully human.

Yanay Servantes (Annia): An Incan witch and powerful spellcaster. Yanay is really good at psychology.

Landon Winchestor (Alex): Rich. Posh. Utterly aggrandizing and pretentious. Still, an effective face.

Mike Bastian (Andre): A holy warrior who fights for the glory of heaven. Easy to guilt trip.

Agravaine Tashalan (Me): The grease that makes the entire team work smoothly. Agravaine is inhumanly and inconveniently attractive, extremely smart, and a real mastermind when it comes to planning.


Events:

We fast forward to the good bits because ain't nobody got time for more pointless downtime. 

It appears the final trial is just pomp and circumstance- an initiation, a brand that sears both soul and body, and swearing an oath to the Conclave to keep the supernatural world hidden.

Evidently all of us are approached with general offers for work given our performance. Landon is disappointed that his final ceremony was an intimate affair, lacking adoring fans, and is even more disappointed when Ms. Baryl is the one to give him his tattoo and brand.

Agravaine's instructed by Olivia that he's free to do what he wants- so long as he routinely checks in. Lucien doesn't particularly care about us, and goes off to finish High School.

Landon sees about getting back in touch with his household- only to learn that his parents and brother are dead, in a mysterious fire no less. It seems a cousin has assumed his title and holdings. 

It's November 1st and we're dumped out onto the streets of Boston. Landon promptly rents a 5-Star hotel room for himself, Cormac crashes at his pad, while Yanay, Mike, and Agravaine slum it up a bit. 

Yanay sees about continuing her college semester so she doesn't lose progress. Landon sees about re-establishing his identity again, as well as setting up a business. Mike meanwhile sees about trying to find out more about his family.

There's a murder at the hotel, totally fishy, a maid (Suzette Jameson) supposedly slitting the throat of a  pharmaceuticals businessman (Mark Conaway) she was having an affair with. She professes innocence.

Landon offers her his assistance as an expert Lawyer. She offers some money, and then Landon puts the screws to her for more. 

Landon gets the crew together. Agravaine, being more or less without anything pressing that he really wants to do, agrees to help out. 

Suzette's prints are on the murder weapon. She claims that they had sex, they slept, then she went to work and returned to find him dead. She believes it was his crazy ex wife. 

Agravaine sits in on the first interview with Suzette and casts a spell- I Know What you Know- on her. The spell determines that she does not know the identity of the killer. Yanay isn't able to really get a Psychology! result on Suzette- she's suffering from PTSD and is a wreck.

Mark was freelancing until he recently got hired by Geo Pharmaceuticals.

We try to look into the ex-wife. Landon tries to pull any public records on them, and Yanay tries to scry for more information. Yanay gets a picture of Boston Harbor, and then a picture of a corpse getting pushed around by waves on a beach.

Cormac, Mike, and Yanay head to the harbor to find the body.

Detective Bradley Bradshaw seems very unimpressed with our presence. 

Suzette mentions something about a face in the mirror, which causes Agravaine to suspect that some kind of ghost or other restless undead is involved. He improvises a spell (Path of Mind -6) to give her a constrained form of Eidetic Memory.

She starts dishing out more info. SHe works a split shift- 4 on, 4 off, 4 on again. When she came in again, there was red on the floor, which she mistook for paint. She grabbed the murder weapon before spotting his body. She rushed to his body and cradled him, finding his throat slit.

Then she spotted a face in the mirror, a young woman with pointed ears and glowing eyes. She remembers hearing a strange sound- not quite a moan. Then she was spotted by another maid holding the knife.

Yanay leads the team right to the body, it's floating in a small inlet near Revere Beach. The left thigh is speared on driftwood. Cormac reckons it happened after she died. Her wallet indicates that she is the ex-wife. Her throat has been similarly slit as well. Cormac doesn't see any signs that her body was moved or transported. She's dressed like she was on a date.

Mike tries to perform last rites and gets the strange feeling that there's no soul left to help move on- a bad sign. The back of the ex-wife's neck is covered in chalk dust. 

Yanay does some astral projection to get a sense of the area, and finds that the area is very spiritually active- Boston has a long an active history after all. However, she's able to determine that all of the ex-wife's vital energy was sucked out.

She also has a symbol on her body, similar to the brand we have. Everyone starts making hidden lore checks.

Yanay calls the police to let them know about the body.

Back at the hotel, Agravaine's able to identify the symbol as a Veve, which allows Cormac to use his knowledge of The Between to identify the connected Loa. Cormac sees it as some kind of strange summoning of Baron Samedi. This particular Veve encapsulates a soul then removes it from the body.

Agravaine advocates for trying to lure the Veve out by using Mike's soul as bait. Cormac is able to confirm that the Bane Sidhe (Banshee) that we're dealing with is either a super nasty undead creature or a herald of death that's tied to a specific location.

An entire day has passed, and it has the police totally convinced that Suzette is the murderer- apparently the murder weapon matches too closely. Apparently they also have finger print info.

Cormac has a local contact that we can ask for some info from. All of us take the Autumn Road to Hadestown where she's located.

"No sexy posing in Hadestown." -Cormac
Hadestown is filled with all sorts of strange and fantastic beings. Cormac leads us to a bar, where he proceeds to buy Gisela a beer and tell her about our strange problem.

She and Cormac trade pleasantries, and then they get down to the fact that we're chasing a Banshee and the fact that there's a Veve involved. Gisela mentions that she only knows of two voodoo practitioners-  one who wouldn't be involved with a Veve, and one who TOTALLY WOULD.

The ONE WHO TOTALLY WOULD is named Holt Boukman, and Gisela says that the Loa actually listen to him, making him dangerous. He's the ultimate descendant of Dutty Boukman, which apparently is a big deal.

Gisela states that the "Bane Sidhe of Boston" is actually a Ghost, not actually one of the Fae. She shows up around death, seemingly at random, last really active around 1872 when there was a big fire or something.

We end there after deciding to investigate Boukman.


Commentary (Christopher):

C-Team has been a further testbed for my wilder ideas on initial partycohesion and to say they haven't worked well is an understatement. Luckily,I have a few fallback plans to make things work - I hope.
As for the game itself I threw Landon's player (Alex) for a *loop* when Iannounced that his parents were dead along with his brother and that adistant cousin had inherited his family title (Earl if Wiltshire). Both theplayer and the character were a bit dazed by the information (which means ithad the intended effect). I underutilized Mike (Andre's character) and wishthat I'd had more time to devout to Agravaine (Travis's character). We'llsee. So far the plot thread they are following is a bit of a "twofer" (ormaybe a threefer). One thing we discovered is that the PCs lack of Occultism(partly due to my fault, really) and investigative skills are not going tolend well to being a group of "paranormal troubleshooters." They'll need tofix that.
There was a brief moment of who's getting paid by who that I squashedquickly - I hope that doesn't come up again.
Next session, we'll see if what I've introduced does as well as I hope itwill.

Soundtrack:
"Hotel California" by the Eagles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJbSR9xRRbE"Behind Blue Eyes" by the Who https://youtu.be/BfuWXRZe9yA"Runaround Sue" by Dion and the Belmontshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4NUZJMCJ20"Criminally Insane" by Slayer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99RHl5eQLH8"Lawyers, Guns, and Money" by Warren Zevonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lP5Xv7QqXiM

Ceteri Prequel 3: Are we there yet?

The Cast:


Cormac McAllister (Mavrick): The team's scout and master of crossroads. Cormac is also handy with a gun and might not be fully human.

Yanay Servantes (Annia): An Incan witch and powerful spellcaster. Yanay is really good at psychology.

Landon Winchestor (Alex): Rich. Posh. Utterly aggrandizing and pretentious. Still, an effective face.

Mike Bastian (Andre): A holy warrior who fights for the glory of heaven. Easy to guilt trip.

Agravaine Tashalan (Me): The grease that makes the entire team work smoothly. Agravaine is inhumanly and inconveniently attractive, extremely smart, and a real mastermind when it comes to planning.

Events:


Landon's hauled off by a Custos Knight for a debriefing of some kind, something to do with the guy who ran off in the Labyrinth who Landon replaced within our group.

We have two more days of downtime to relax and recoup. Cormac gets promptly bored, challenging Mike to a game of wooden sword vs. painball gun. Cormac 'wins', and Mike is prepared to be humble and accept defeat until Yanay instigates further conflict.

Agravaine is subjected to intense training by Olivia after seeing his poor display in the shifting room from before.

We're told that Trina will live- although she'll be recovering for months.

The number of remaining pupils has decreased dramatically- lots of groups are down from 13 members down to 4-5. One group is literally just one guy whose entire group flaked out at the pond test- and he's managed all the trials up to this point by himself. Yanay attempts to introduce herself, and he brushes her off within seconds. Agravine does some asking around and is told by Olivia that Tarrant Einari makes him look like a pansy.

We head back into the Labyrinth again.

We find ourselves in a field filled with white roses, with a fountain in the middle. A statue of a lady holding lilies stands amid the fountain. There's not a lot of water at the bottom of the fountain. The roses are sharp with brambles and thorns.

There's a bronze plate with an inscription in latin on the side of the fountain. Mike, who can read Latin, takes five minutes to puzzle it out. It reads:

“A white rose can be red if you bleed upon its petal,
"As a lily can be white if you’re willing to test your mettle.”

Cormac decides to drink from the fountain, and finds that his hands don't get wet and he can't feel the water. Scraping his nail across the bottom of it produces reddish brown flakes. Cormac then cuts his hand, losing 5 HP as the wound bleeds profusely. It appears that a quarter of the lilies and roses have swapped colors. Cormac's hand clots normally, making Agravaine a little less concerned about things.

Yanay, Mike, and Agravaine all follow suit, taking 5 damage. Everyone except Agravaine succeeds at avoiding a major wound. Agravaine is pale, woozy, and blacks out for about half and hour. Yanay does some first aid, healing all but 1 of the damage caused.

The fountain is suddenly flowing with blood, the roses are red, the lilies are white, and a door has opened for us to go through. We go through it, Agravaine using Mike's shoulder for support.

We find ourselves in a hallway, which opens up into a room filled with clocks of all shapes and sizes. Digital, cuckoo, sundials, all kinds of clocks. All are set to different times- including the sundials.

Cormac's watch doesn't move in the 90 seconds he counts off watching it. Yanay determines that we're in some kind of convergence of time, where everytime intersects. Mike attempts to adjust a clock, and ages almost 15 years in a second. He adjusts the clock back in the opposite direction, suddenly growing almost 10 years younger than he was when he began. 

He reverts back after a few seconds. Cormac makes a Survival (Between) check to see what knowledge he might have. 

Every clock suddenly accelerates, spinning through time until all match up at the same time, 1:13pm.

All of us seem to have difficulty focusing, and the passage of time seems strange. Mike finds himself back in time with his parents as a little kid. Lucien, Agravaine, and Cormac all have no problem, while Yanay suddenly finds herself talking with her psychology professor in an interesting debate.

Agravaine attempts to use Autohypnosis to steel himself against the effects, while Cormac cuts himself to cut through the mental fog. Lucien is in a trance, seeming like he's discussing his special capabilities with his father- wanting to be normal and not dragged out of school to go to exorcisms and shit.

Only Cormac and Agravaine aren't in a daze. Mike is very focused on wanting to go back into the memory, screaming that he should've been there for them. Suddenly, the clocks all stop, and return back to normal.

Agravaine has some trouble tending to the gash in Cormac's leg, just in time to be spit out of the Labyrinth. Those of us who are injured are lead to the infirmary. Ms. Baril congratulates us for only having one trial left, and doesn't even bite Agravaine's head off when he implies she's no longer off her Prozac.

Landon's in the quarters, asleep. We're given a week to recoup.

Commentary (Christopher):

I feel like this one went better than the couple before. Mostly because of the players interactions with one another vs. anything I'm doing. I still really am trying to find my feet with this campaign and the gaps of play are not helping that at all. I'm going to have to find a way to address that at some point.

C-Team has also been a bit of a testing bed for some of my DF trap ideas (yes, I know. Different genres, but in this instance it works).


Soundtrack:

"Here It Goes Again" by OK Go https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTAAsCNK7RA
"Time Is On My Side" by The Rolling Stones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIE2GAqnFGw
"(Don't Fear) the Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClQcUyhoxTg
"Sharp Dressed Man" by ZZ Top https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wRHBLwpASw
"Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUwEIt9ez7M

Ceteri Prequel 2: Enter the Labyrinth they said, it'll be FUN they said

The Cast:


Cormac McAllister (Mavrick): The team's scout and master of crossroads. Cormac is also handy with a gun and might not be fully human.

Yanay Servantes (Annia): An Incan witch and powerful spellcaster. Yanay is really good at psychology.

Landon Winchestor (Alex): Rich. Posh. Utterly aggrandizing and pretentious. Still, an effective face.

Mike Bastian (Andre): A holy warrior who fights for the glory of heaven. Easy to guilt trip.

Agravaine Tashalan (Me): The grease that makes the entire team work smoothly. Agravaine is inhumanly and inconveniently attractive, extremely smart, and a real mastermind when it comes to planning.

Events:


We handwave the rest of the fight against the plant. One of the injured is an observer, which is unusual. We were under the impression that they had a handle on this small slice of the labyrinth. Yanay crits on esoteric medicine, with Mike providing First Aid, and Agravaine helping via Teamwork!

We stabilize the group, temporarily. Agravaine tries to trigger his bracelet to get more observers to show up, but it doesn't work. Mike casts a spell that confers regeneration to the observer, but they're in a nasty coma.

The way we'd entered from is now closed off. Two new directions are open though. We take stock, and head off 'left' (cause, labyrinth). The tunnel starts to narrow the further along we get. Either we're growing, or it's shrinking.

There's a tiny door ahead. Yanay tries to go through.

Yanay's bracelet suddenly glows blue. Then she gets stuck. Mike shoves her through, and then the door turns normal size.

The next room is strangely shaped. There's a stone sliding door, similar to a portcullis. We all hear the sound of buzzing. It's a bunch of bees.

Yanay casts a spell, which fizzles the second it hits the bees.

There's a big carving of a Queen Bee in the center of the room. When stepped on, it seems to trigger the door. A few bees get agitated by this, buzzing around Mike. He tries to order them, and is attacked. Mike is getting stung and chased by the bees.

Yanay steps onto the center dais and bees start landing on her. They aren't stinging her, but they are making it hard to breathe. It's at this point Annia points out Yanay has Animal Empathy, and is evidently a badass at it. The bees clear her nose.

The door slowly starts to lift up. After about three minutes it opens into a field. Yanay is fatigued by heat exhaustion just sitting in a blanket of bees.

Our bracelets turn green upon entering the field.

Yanay refuses holy water Mike seems to conjure on the spot. The field is featureless and extends forever, perfect for retreating forever. Of course the door behind us is gone.

We wander a bit. Mike is able to Navigation (Land) to keep us on a straight course. Landon's gut instinct spell seems to indicate danger down below. Cormac uses Survival (Between), and Yanay uses Hidden Lore (Dimensional). Cormac definitely senses something dangerous.

There's some signs of ecology- insects, rabbits, other strange shit- but it looks like a twisted version of the great plains.

A door opens ahead of us, appearing magically.

There's three observers, including Olivia,  carefully avoiding the grass. We're allowed in through the door, into the labyrinth. The Labyrinth is getting even more angry and hostile.

We're escorted to the infirmary and the injured Observer is placed on life support.

Cormac tries to ask Olivia what happened. She smirks and claims technical difficulties, and then indicates that no, trials (and beatings) will proceed until morale improves.

(It's currently the 15th of October, next trial is on the 17th of October.)

Yanay finds a bee in her hair made of solid gold while bathing after the trial. It looks really realistic, like it was transmuted. She decides to use it as jewelry.

We have two days of rest. Landon continues to impress and win over everyone during downtimes with his charm and sophistication.

Olivia visits Agravaine on the 16th, accompanied by someone who might (maybe?) be mid 40's, with long hair and a Flamberge on his back.

He introduces himself as Erasmus McAlister. Erasmus and Cormac look suspiciously similar. Yanay asks Cormac if there's a relation, while Agravaine cracks a joke about Cormac aging more gracefully.

Erasmus indicates that he gave up familial relations when he took his oath as a Custos Knight, but notes that Cormac looks a lot like his mother.

Olivia indicates that Erasmus is in charge of the Custos Knights, that the Observer we saved was his partner, and that she's speaking for Erasmus cause he's a man of view words.

They leave, and we all receive a card with the Custos Sigil on it. The Director might consider us for Custos Training if we survive the trials.

(Date: October 17th)

We are ready to go through our third Trial. Cormac isn't going this time- something about library duties and compulsory safety training.

Ms. Baril continues to guide us to the Labyrinth.

We go down a hall, and find ourselves in a small room. The walls are covered in symbols and writing from what appears to be every culture and every language.

We're all allowed checks against Symbol Drawing to make sense of it all. Yanay crits. Yanay can detect that there's a pattern, but not all of it. Certain symbols need to be pressed in a set order, which means finding out the order, as well as finding the right symbols themselves.

Most of us are relying on Thaumatology to piece things apart, while Mike seems to be leveraging his theological knowledge to help.

We start to make some headway on the patterns and symbols, but progress is slow.

Landon decodes: So in the Heavens
Agravaine decodes: As on Earth
Mike: Raziel (Basically Uriel from Dresden, angelic spy, yadda yadda) is involved
Yanay: There's some Incan related stuff, but nothing that's really contextually related to what we're dealing with

Yanay crits vs. IQ. The pattern revolves around three concepts- Secret, Heaven, Earth.

Landon sees the name Pursan in Hellion. Pursan is closely related to secrets as well.

(Aside: Alex draws an off-hand reference to Fable from Christopher, which is produced by Lionshead studio, and Raziel is depicted as having a Lion head......)

We're getting drained as we spend time in the room, we begin to notice. All of us are down 6FP.

We keep plinking away at the symbols. Touching all of the Zodiac causes the symbols to go nuts and the door to open. It leads to a hallway, then another room which is full of stone hands that are jutting out of the wall, making multitudes of gestures.

Landon and Agravaine quickly determine that the hands are making magical gestures.

Yanay crit-fails, and is grasped by a stone hand. Mike shoots it with his pistol, to no effect.

Numerous other hands merge together to form faces in the walls. "That wasn't very nice."

The various faces start talking. They let go of Yanay once it's established that grabbing her wasn't cool and that Mike didn't do any harm with his pistol.

The hands instruct us to do symbols as they do.

All of us decide to go along. The symbols and hand movements start getting more complex. Lucian and Agravaine are both doing excellent (Agravaine crits.)

Landon and Yanay find that their hands are frozen in position.

During the next wave, Mike and Trina (Tina?) wash out.

Agravaine dislocates his index finger during a surprisingly hard series of gestures (crit-fail). But the room resets and everyone's hands return to normal. It seems it was Lucian's test, and he passed. Agravaine pops his finger back in with a successful Teamwork! check.

Another hallway. Another room. More self-closing doors.

This room looks sterile, clean, and its floor is segmented into 3-foot blocks. Once inside, the door closes and the floor starts sliding around, like the rocket hideout from the first generation of pokemon games.

The entire floor flows one way, before switching it up. The walls start to produce spikes when we get close. Landon seems to have no trouble hobbling along (Crit).

Tina and Agravaine are the first two to touch the walls. Landon and Agravaine both then fall as the room speeds up. Both manage to catch themselves before hitting walls.

Agravaine's produced a spear, attempting to use it to brace himself from smacking into the wall. Tina falls and smacks into a wall. Landon is the only one that keeps his feet. Agravaine smacks into a wall, taking damage.

Yanay casts a spell to mitigate getting slammed on spikes, which causes the spikes to grow in length. Trina is the only one who isn't able to get back up during a pause, getting stuck and taking an additional 3 points of damage.

Agravaine tries to determine the pattern to the movement of the floor- and crit fails. Agravaine just barely avoids disaster during the next loop of the pattern. Tina meanwhile is getting savaged by the spikes.

Eventually, Agravaine notices that some bars and ropes are overhead. Everyone jumps up and grabs them, eventually losing FP (meaning all of us are down 7) desperately hanging on. The floor slows and then stops.

Tina is in horrible shape. Yanay and Mike stabilize her with Magic, but she's too injured to continue the trials- and will likely be in recovery for months.

We're treated with magic and then given two days to rest. Trina's stuff is gone when we return. Landom schmoozes, Agravaine's dragged off by Olivia for more training, Mike likewise, and Yanay engages in some dancing. Agravaine's noticeably tired and cranky after the second day of training with Olivia.

Onto the fourth Trial. Baril is humming Another One Bites the Dust. She's more than happy to inform everyone that entire groups of initiates do fail sometimes.

Eventually, we wander into a gigantic ballroom, complete with Dancers. Someone identifies it as 17th century France. All of us are approached by dance partners. Seeing that Mike has been paired up with a dude and has to dance the female part, Agravaine applies some Sex Appeal and his otherworldly appearance to ensure he gets a good looking female partner.

Agravaine's partner is wearing Greek robes and laurels.

The dance begins. Agravaine seems to be a natural, getting a crit vs. DX to dance, then getting a second crit on dancing during the slow number. Agravaine's partner introduces herself as Namid. She's impressed that he can dance well for someone so young- and he's surprised himself. He eventually scores her number.

Yanay and Mike both fall out of step with the dance. Landon does his best to continue, but his partner flubs, dropping him out. Agravaine and Namid continue to gracefully move across the ballroom floor.

The labyrinth isn't done with us however, sending us to another Trial. The next room is a massive apothecary storeroom. Nine bowls rest in the center, marked with a single letter of the Jewish Alphabet. Alchemical ingredients are everywhere. Yanay figures it out more or less immediately- the bowls correspond to something to do with the 9 branches of the Jewish Tree of Life Sefirot, which match up with the 9 path skills.

We confer to see who should try and cover what path for the sorting that's likely about to begin.

Lucian - Path of Undead
Landon - Path of Chance, Path of Spirit
Yanay - Path of Magic, Path of Matter
Mike - Path of Energy, Path of Body
Agravaine- Path of Crossroads, Path of Mind

We're given an opportunity to guess appropriate ingredients for the paths in question, or the option of making a check.

Mike rolls to deal with the bowl covering Body. He eventually finds a dagger, placing it in the bowl. The bowl glows and the dagger floats to his belt and inserts itself there.

Alex, Landon's player, guesses that a deck or cards or a four leaf clover might be appropriate for Chance. He finds a dried out four leaf clover and places it in the bowl, which lights up.

The crossroads bowl is next. I guess that keys would be appropriate, and the bowl lights up.

Mike opts to roll to find an ingredient appropriate for Path of Energy. He scalds his hand when he places a bad item into the bowl. The second time around he scrounges for Coal, and his bowl lights up.

Yanay is next with Path of Magic. She places some gorse in the bowl, and it lights up. Next up is Path of Matter, and she dumps some lead into the bowl.

For Path of Mind, Agravaine's foresight allows him to produce some cocaine, which causes the bowl to light up.

For Path of Spirit, Landon opts to steal some of Mike's blood, flicking it into the bowl. The bowl lights up. Landon quips something about Virgin Blood, and Mike slugs him.

Lucian throws gravedirt into the bowl for Path of Undead.

We're onto the next challenge, and the next room.

The entire room is entirely circular, disorienting due to the lack of a ceiling overhead, and 9 symbols of magic around the room. The day/night cycle is fast, comprising about 40 minutes to do a full day/night cycle.

We touch the symbols in the same order as the bowls. Eventually Yanay gets zapped. We all take injury as we get zapped.

We start casting spells as we touch each symbol, which causes them to glow and us to not get zapped. It's in the same order as before. We breeze through to the next room, and the Labyrinth spits us out.

Agravaine uses super-dark chocolate to keep Olivia from strangling him for having Cocaine.

Commentary:

So, the symbols, floor, and hands puzzles were basically just a series of skill checks. OVER and OVER and OVER. The drinking challenge was the same too. My patience definitely started to run out during the floor challenge- rolling against DX 10 over and over again isn't particularly fun, especially after you've exhausted options for improving the situation.

Commentary (Christopher):

I'm kind of disappointed that over both sessions I haven't been able to make these various tests more interesting than I have. The players are doing some fantastic work...but I feel like I'm failing here somehow. I'll need to ponder exactly what I'm doing and how I can do it differently to make things work.

Soundtrack:

"Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAqZb52sgpU
"Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mbBbFH9fAg
"Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lyu1KKwC74
"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btPJPFnesV4
"The Drowning Man" by The Cure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJmE0C4Tq1U
"Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men https://youtu.be/ghb6eDopW8I