Monday, August 27, 2012

Agenda e02 : Adventure - Aberrant - Aeon Trinity

Episode Two
"The Darkness Waves"
Adventure - Aberrant - Aeon Trinity

Urim asked for a game and while Mahar and Rocky were both busy, I realized it was a chance to give him an Origin game.  So, after taking some time to map out a tale, I was able to build something that would expose him more to the cast of the game, give him some spotlight on his character's history, and throw in a hint of what is going on that would have this game flow from Adventure all the way to Aeon Trinity.

The Sleepwalker, played by Urim, began his crime-fighting career after having strange nightmares and was lead to a place near his home where strange mists would bring visions of things that needed his attention.  The night of the Hammersmith Incident, Samuel Warren would find himself drawn to what would eventually become his sanctum and there, after seeing strange sights, would come to call himself The Sleepwalker.

The Sleepwalker was tracking a guy named David Khor whom he witnessed was engaged in a botched robbery attempt.  He decides to follow him, and he discovers how much more in dire straights David is.  David has a daughter, barely 5-years old, and she seems to be ill.  He listens to their discussion as David, speaking almost as child like as her, mentions how painful she feels.  David then tucks her into bed, and heads out.

The Sleepwalker follows David and watches as he meets with another guy named Henry at a bar.  They are discussing about some kind of underground boxing thing called The Ring and how easy it would be to earn money by fighting in the ring.  It quickly becomes apparent to The Sleepwalker, based on how David speaks, that the man is slightly mentally-challenged.   His speech patterns and almost simplistic mindset of things suggests David may be mentally handicapped.  Even worse, Henry leaves David the directions for the fight, and David seems unable to read it.  He feels for the guy, realizing he may be forced to do things to make ends meet. He decides to help him.  He tries first to confront David directly in an alleyway, but the huge man panicks, and one punch sends The Sleepwalker reeling backwards.  Before he could chase after him, however, the Sleepwalker finds himself confronted by an apparition.  Standing on the nearby rooftop, the apparition confronts him with quotations about the darkness and the importance of myth.  Lightning flashes and the dark ghost is gone.  Not even the Sleepwalker's incredible investigative skills find any trace of the apparition's presence.  The Sleepwalker returns to David's home and true enough finds David preparing for bed.  He discards his costume and opts to confront David as someone supposedly working for Henry, and even offers to pay for the medical fees so long as David agrees to back out of the fight and let Samuel fight in his stead.

But before David could answer, the apparition returns.  Breaking through the window, the apparition throws more quotations about darkness, citing various authors and poets that the Sleepwalker himself has read before.  Mist envelopes the room, and David grabs his daughter and makes to escape.  The Sleepwalker tries to stop the apparition, but sees how the apparitions seems to have the ability to become incorporeal.  The thing fades away, gone and leaving no trace of its presence.  The Sleepwalker, bothered by all this, heads home and decides to try and investigate things using his connections.

The next day, Samuel Warren contacts his Contact network for information on the boxing ring.  He visits the location which he was able to read when he pretended to be a friend of Henry's.  He discovers it is owned by multi-billionaire Desmond duClaire, an orphaned New Yorker whose parents were gunned down when he was 8.  duClaire's records are spotless however, and even the Sleepwalker's contacts in the Union groups find no trace of criminal activity.  duClaire's companies include two factories that are facing the pier, and dealings with deliveries worldwide.  He learns duClaire is a close friend of Congressman Wittick, however, and that connection worries him.  Rich men in power with political allies are always dangerous adversaries.  Before the Sleepwalker can think of his next plans, the phone rings.  Benjamin Franklin Dixon is on the line and is asking for Warren to come over the Aeon Society for Gentlemen Mansion, because he needs "a lesser mind to throw ideas against."  Warren opts to go, ignoring the clear insult.

Dixon is obsessing over the Hammersmith incident and starts talking about his belief that a form of energy was unleashed and affected them all. He even charts the locations of various members of Aeon Society and notes how they have all within the same time span or so, developed unique abilities and extra ordinary skills.  Drawing two large shapes of the wave, Warren suggests, "Why not just call them Z-waves.  That what your drawing looks like."  Dixon finds the suggestion preposterous, then loves the idea.  The two then shares discussions on The Sandman, which Warren learns is the identity of the apparition he had faced.  The Sandman's activities have long been charted by Aeon Society, and Dixon admits they understood the Sleepwalker IS the Sandman.  But what doesn't match is how the Sandman supposedly had activities one to two years prior to Warren's crime-fighting career.  Warren considers the possibility that there is a predecessor to his heroism.  Someone who somehow had inspired him without him realizing it.  Knowing he had barely slept, Warren rests for the day and opts to attend the fight the next evening.

He arrives too late.  Shots could be heard and Warren quickly changes into The Sleepwalker to find the factory under assault.  The Sandman is present and has been gunning down many of those present in the illegal match.  When David is seen running for cover, the Sleepwalker opts to focus on him, giving the Sandman a chance to disable the remaining flunkies.  The Sleepwalker confronts the Sandman, demanding he explain who he is, but the Sandman offers nothing but repeated quotations, and fades away once more.  Deeply bothered by this, the Sleepwalker contacts Donighal and inquires about the possibility of a ghost or occult entity.  Donighal shares his belief that all occult and magic is merely science beyond understanding, and that legendary heroes like Icarus and Hercules are possibly Inspired individuals that existed prior to the Hammersmith Incident.  "What if these heroes of the past ensured what ever process made us was halted?  What if we have relit the fires of Prometheus against their desires?"

 Warren returns to his Sanctum and there meditates among the mists that bring his visions.  He deeply inhales the mists and finds visions pertaining back to his Origin.  Warren suffers from wracking headaches the same night of the Hammersmith Incident, and soon finds himself rising from his bed.  Warren remembers these memories, how eventually he finds the cavern beneath his home, and the mists emitting from the crack in the ground.  But what changes now is he sees the same apparition as a shadow, drawing him out of the bed, guiding him down the corridor, moving him all the way to the cavern.  The shadow seemingly draws him to the sanctum and its appearance is what inspires him to become the Sleepwalker.  Warren awakes and realizes the Sandman and the Sleepwalker are one.   The phone then rings, and Warren hears one of his contacts in the police force inform him that David Khor is being arrested.  The Sleepwalker rushes to the scene.

There, he learns the cops are arresting David, who had beaten down at least five other officers.   David breaks free and breaks for a run, knocking the Sleepwalker down to the ground after throwing two officers at him.  Sarah Gettel approaches the Sleepwalker, and insists on an interview, and before he could leave, she  clamps herself onto him with what seems to be a silken steel chain!  She tells him quickly of the many dangers she had faced before, and insists she will get her interview!  The Sleepwalker learns that Samantha, David's daughter, had been abducted.  And it seems the police made the mistake of thinking he had done something to his own daughter.  The Sleepwalker determines David is headed back to the factory, and much to his surprise, Gettel insists on going with him still.  She talks to him about her own exploits and he starts to realize how charming she truly in.  When they arrive at the location, the Sleepwalker is told how the Congressman's car is present in the factory.  Gettel promises to get out of the way so long as she gets first dibs on the story.  The Sleepwalker shares his knowledge of the undeground boxing ring, of David's plight, and asks her to bring the truth out.  He then plans his attack, and upon seeing David on the street closing in, makes his approach.  They then realize something:  Sarah Gettel happens to be the very first person the Sleepwalker had saved before.  And as a thank you, Sarah Gettel lifts the Sleepwalker's mask just enough to kiss his lips.

The Sleepwalker convinces David to hang back, and Gettel offers to help him call the police.  Using gas pellets and well-timed shots, the Sleepwalker knocks out most of the perimeter guards and makes his way to the factory's rooftop.  There, through the skylight, he sees the Congressman with Henry, and the tied up young Samantha on the floor.  Four armed guards keep watch.  From the discussions, the Sleepwalker learns that Desmond duClaire has no knowledge of what transpires in his own factory.  And with the use of smoke pellets, the Sleepwalker decides to attempt the rescue.  Two of the thugs are quickly knocked down with gas pellets.  But just as the Sleepwalker took aim to fire another gas pellet into Congressman Wittick's face, the apparition manifests  again and blocks his line of sight.  The apparition points at the Congressman's hand and the Sleepwalker sees with his Sensory Filter that the Congressman actually had a sharp knife pressed against the young girl's neck.  Had he been hit by the pellet, the startling shot may have had him jerk and slash into her throat.  The apparition fades, and the Sleepwalker feels thankful that this ghost had warned him of imminent danger.  He unloads the gas pellets from his guns and instead breaks them to spread and mix with the smoke.  With the smoke being inhaled along with the blinding mist, all the assailants fall down calmly into a deep slumber.  He sees the apparition watching him and when he tries to thank it for helping him, the Sleepwalker realizes he was merely staring at his own shadow.

Quickly, the Sleepwalker rescues Samantha from the Congressman, ties the goons and the masterminds up, and leaves a note for Sarah Gettel, informing her of duClaire's innocence.  He watches from the distance Samantha's reunion with David and knows he has one last thing to do.  The next morning comes with Warren receiving a call from Maxwell Mercer.  The head of Aeon Society has called to congratulate him on making the newspaper headlines, and asks if he had kissed Sarah Gettel.  Warren admits he did, and Maxwell sounds forlorn.  He tells him Dixon is thankful for his help and shares that Dixon had a message for him.  Something perhaps only Warren would make sense of.  Dixon claimed, "The answer was staring at my face the whole time.  The wave travels in a symmetrical balance.  An echo of itself.  So just as the Z-wave traveled forwards in time to shape our futures, the reverse Z-wave traveled back to the past and may have been that which creates the heroes of our legends!"  The very spirit that inspired Warren to become the Sleepwalker, was himself.

Warren watches from afar as David and Samantha are welcomed to the Montgomery Central Hospital.  An anonymous donor had paid for the full medical treatment of the child.  Warren silently watches as David scans the crowd for who the possible donor was, and silently turns to leave.  He nearly bumps into Sarah Gettel, who asks him for a smoke.  Admitting he doesn't, he walks past her, and she ends up glancing at him as he leaves.  There is a palpable connection between the two, but one can only wonder if it will grow in time.


For a solo game, this touched on a lot of new ground for the games to come.  The talk on Z-waves definitely helped support further the pulp feel of Adventure!  It was a joy to be able to portray Dixon as well, and Sarah Gettel, and I can foresee players making sure to have moments with them just for the fun of it.

And lastly, the game set the ground work for The Sleepwalker to develop knew Knacks.  With his mystic background now set, and the supposed "spirit guide" warning him of danger, Urim is considering purchasing the Threat Awareness Knack to reflect this power.  That's part of the tricky part of Adventure! Buying new powers have to nicely fit the concept and match the narrative flow.  We're handling it pretty well though.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Agenda e01 : Adventure - Aberrant - Aeon Trinity

Episode One

Adventure - Aberrant - Aeon Trinity

Finally got to hold a game with Rocky, Mahar and Urim again.  This time, I was excited to throw in something I've been wanting to run for quite some time: a game spanning chronicle that would start some time in the 1920s with the Adventure! era and end far in the future of the Aeon Trinity universe.

Yes.  Crazy, ain't it?

It get's even better.  To start off, I had them create their Adventure characters AND their Trinity characters. While their Adventure characters were going to be fresh new pulp heroes, their Trinity Characters were meant to be major movers and shakers in the world.  Why?  Because of the plot, that's why!  As to what the over-all plot will be, that my friends will be something I shall reveal in time.  For now, here's the session record for the first game.

The characters are the following:

The Sleepwalker (Samuel Warren)
A British Stalwart with a Leader Nature (Reflective and intuitive facets).
Known as the Sleepwalker, Samuel uses the Gas Gun and Mask he created using his Mad Scientist Knack to strike fear into the hearts of crime.  With Indisputable Analysis and Sensory Filtering Knacks, no clues evade his scrutiny.  And his Sun Tzu's Blessing makes him a natural leader.  Long acting as a vigilante alone, he is still learning how to manage things as a group now that he has joined the Aeon Society for Gentlemen.

Miss Scarlet (Candy Misselthwaite)
The American Mesmerist tends to be a Charmer (Reflective, intuitive and destructive).
Formerly just a waitress who loved working at a diner, Candy has discovered the world is far more complicated than it seems and now is part of the Aeon Society for Gentlemen in hopes of helping make it a safer place.  She uses her recently discovered Brain Skimming Knack to draw out secrets during conversations, her Perfect Translation Knack to understand whatever anyone says, her Psychic Hand and Teledigitation knacks to protect herself, and her Mindhammer Knack when the worst things come to light.  Still a civilian though, she tries to maintain a better composure, holding on to the Engagement Ring of her dead fiance when she needs to draw some privacy and strength.

The German (Nicklas Klaus)
The German Daredevil is a Hotshot at heart (Destructive, intuitive).
Formerly an agent of Branch 9, Nicklas went AWOL after discovering how the group was secretly sustaining certain dictators in power for their own ends.  While many attempts have been made to find and kill him, his Death Defiance and Indomitable Will knacks have kept him alive more times than others could ever dream.  As a Master of Dissimulation who is Universally Deadly, any weapon or object is potentially either a tool or weapon in his hands.  But his favored weapon remains guns since he uses them with Enhanced Impact, knocking his targets out of windows or into walls when necessary.  He owns one remaining super science gadget from his time in Branch 9, the Panzer Suit, which provides him with Complete Privacy and makes him practically Untouchable to firearms.  He may or may not be working in secret with someone else, even as a member of the Aeon Society for Gentlemen.

The first game session opened with the players all receiving an invitation in one form or another to join the Aeon Society for Gentlemen.  The Sleepwalker was approached by Danger Ace during one of his nights where he fought against the Klu Klux Klan that were going to do a public burning of a black man who was quietly in his home working on a model kit.   Candy was out on a date with her boss when the theater they were in was suddenly occupied by waiters who had guns.   What they didn't know was Nicklas was under a mission to privately meet up with a certain Svetlana Koshkova in the same theater, and the armed waiters were after them.  Svetlana had information about the Super Soldier Program that Russia had been working on with Germany.  The theater debacle was dispatched when Candy learned that moment to use her strange abilities at the same time Crackshot came to save them.  Nicklas and Svetlana found themselves meeting Doctor Primoris for the first time and learned he had come to invite them to the Aeon Society for Gentlemen as well.

With each considering their invitation, Candy decides to call the number while The Sleepwalker and Nicklas eventually opt to try to sneak into the headquarters of Aeon Society as a show of their potential.  The Sleepwalker uses his superior deductive skills to identify the comings and goings of various known Aeon Society members, and triangulates the most probably locations for the headquarters.  When he narrows it down to somewhere in Central Park, he then identifies the plain clothed security and follows them to the lair.    Candy is picked up by Whitey Styles after she calls him to join.  They soon meet The Sleepwalker whom Doctor Primoris found trying to hide in the wine cellar.  And finally, Nicklas and Svetlana join, after they meet with Maxwell Mercer on the park grounds and are invited in.  Discussions quickly are shared on the need for Aeon Society and while questions are posed by some on whether or not the group truly has altruistic motives, the discussions shift when it is learned that Svetlana's husband, Dmitri, is a prisoner in some Siberian camp and her joining the Society is the requirement for Aeon Society to step in and rescue him.

The group clamors to help Svetlana, and while Doctor Primoris seems unhappy with this turn of events, Maxwell Mercer smiles and later admits that he was hoping they would do exactly that.  "We were always worried about who will carry forward our dream and goals, Michael.  Now we know we have them."

The group flies to Siberia with Svetlana handling the plane.  A plan is quickly formulated with Nicklaus posing as his former role in Branch 9 having captured Svetlana and giving her up for a reward.  Candy, all dressed up as a Russian as well, was to pretend to be his interpreter.  She had hoped to use her Brain Skimming to learn where Dmitri was imprisoned.   The Sleepwalker was to sneak in, try to break Dmitri out on his own, while Crackshot covered from the plane's landing site.

The plan goes well at first, with the group meeting Ruka the Undying, the Super Soldier who had Dmitri imprisoned.  Ruka and her Undying Army were infamously known to be immune to pain, and the group knew they had to be careful or they would easily be outnumbered.  While Candy and Nicklaus charmed their way into Ruka's good graces... and her penchant for lots of Vodka, Candy discovered to her dismay that while Ruka's German was translated by her Perfect Translation, she could not speak "back" to carry a conversation for Brain Skimming.  It wasn't until they realized she knew English that this felt like a dead-end they had to deal with.  The Sleepwalker snuck to the upper levels, quickly discerning the house had no sewage system.  Merely a central pit which had a reinforced body.  On the third level, he quickly prepared a molotov trap to burn the building as a massive distraction.  Svetlana played possum below, chained to the cover of the pit, while the Undying Army feasted.  Ruka soon lead the two below, and dragged Svetlana away from the pit cover to reveal a naked, tired, and beaten down Dmitri inside.

None of them, save for Crackshot who could not warn them without alerting the enemy, anticipated the approach of a man named Pope who looked American yet claimed to be working for the Germans.  Pope came to purchase Dmitri (using money from a bag strapped to his belt) and had hoped to warn Ruka that enemies were enroute.  However, Pope quickly spied The Sleepwalker above and warned Ruka that Aeon Society was already here.  As Ruka drew out her gun to fire at whoever Pope was referring to, the team used that initial uncertainty to their advantage.  Nicklaus kept Ruka off balance with numerous gunshots that kept flinging her to the ground.  Interestingly, Ruka's Undying Army would fall as well, reflecting Ruka's injuries as if they were all sharing a single nervous system!  But when a killing shot should have dropped the German horror, one of the Undying soldiers exploded into biological goop, healing Ruka of all her injuries!  The Sleepwalker quickly acted, throwing smoke bombs down to distract them all, and aiming his gas gun into Ruka's mouth to disable her whenever he could.  But each time she should drop, another soldier would drop in her stead!  Candy reached out and discovered her ability to launch balls of force could be finely focused, and began lifting Dmitri out of the pit.

With the smoke blinding practically everyone, save for the Sleepwalker whose gas mask gave him Aetheric Vision, Svetlana grabbed Dmitri to hold him close while Nicklaus carefully continued to time his shots to keep Ruka unstable.  But Ruka then leapt for freedom by throwing herself out of a window, with her Army quickly following suit.   Outside, Pope was enroute to escape, even as Crackshot brought down some of his other soldiers.  Using what seemed to be a super science device to boost his powers, Pope launched a Mindhammer at Crackshot even if she was far too distant to normally be affected.  With blood gushing from his nose, Pope sneered and cursed the Aeon Society for disrupting his goals.

Ruka hoped to run for freedom but Candy used her new powers again to grab hold of a person, only this time it was her.  Ruka struggled to break free from Candy's hold, but her eyes reflected utter fear when she saw something that was more deadly than the angered waitress/translator.  Pope had channeled his Mindhammer towards the mountain slope above the Siberian camp, and started a massive avalanche!  With The Sleepwalker quickly calculating the odds, he realized the safest bet was to head back into the Pit!  As all dove in, Nicklaus was far too distant to make it in time.  Instead he kicked the cover closed, lit a cigarette, and welcomed the falling white death.

Minutes later, the group reemerged, and Crackshot and Svetlana toiled to find the missing former agent.  Dmitri's energy armor kept him warm, while the others searched for Nicklaus' remains.  Alas there seemed to be no sign of the good man.  Calling him a hero, the group made their way back to the plane and Crackshot even got infuriated at Candy for being so calm about losing a friend.  Candy admitted she was simply staying in control because she had never saw violence like this before.  And if she didn't stay calm, she would probably break.  The group starts the plane and Dmitri offers a short moment of silence of the lost man.  Only for all to see Nicklaus walking back towards the plane with a few bottles of vodka in his hands.  Miraculously, as the avalanche hit, he found himself buried between crates of vodka and the massive roof of the base.  While the group was searching for him, Svetlana must have torn the roof off, giving him enough of a crawlspace (once he had awoken from the shock) to crawl out with some vodka.  The group headed home, feeling victorious.

Back at the Aeon Society mansion, the group agreed to join.  Dixon, the resident scientist, admitted having prepared costumes and codenames for each one.  Nicklaus declined on his many suggestions and simply agreed to be referred to as The German.  And while all seemed to end well, the Sleepwalker could not help but look at Michael Donighal and feel a worry about the future.  Maxwell asks to meet with Nicklaus and asks him who initially hired him to make contact with Svetlana.  When he admits he is not in any liberty to say, Maxwell reminds him there will come a time he will have to make a choice as to who he can trust.  And who he is working for.

Later, the German going to a drop off point, marking a mailbox, and receiving a large bag of cash from an unknown person.  From the body language, however, and the way the bag of money was strapped to his belt, it seemed to suggest the man was the same one called Pope.


Epilogue of game one:
A woman looks over a massive block of ice.  The two flanking the cube inform the woman, "We have uncovered one of the bodies of the so-called Inspired people.  It was uncovered from a frozen area in Siberia.  Are you willing to purchase."  The woman turns to a monitor and another person, perhaps someone of higher rank or position, tells her to make the purchase.  Autumn Lacierda-Wu gives the word and the two smile and leave.  Autumn wonders what these "Inspired people" are and considers why the Ministry would want to have anything to do with this frozen soldier.

End of Episode One

So the players had an enjoyable ride of superhero action and super spy thrills.  And one of the Trinity player characters, Autumn Lacierda-Wu, has been introduced.  Clearly the events of the Adventure game will shape or be reflected somewhat in the Trinity game.  One can only wonder why, and how this will all come together when the game reaches all the way to that part of the timeline.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Initiation : nWOD/Vampire the Masquerade

nWOD and Vampire the Masquerade 

A new friend of mine, Alessandro, contacted me on Facebook and asked if I can "Get him into that table top gaming thing." After sharing with him my initial views on how table top games are different from online gaming and board games, he decided to set a schedule for a game one Saturday night. Rocky opted to join too, but alas exhaustion took its toll and he had to beg off the game midway. Still, given this was meant to be a first time game for Alessandro, I thought to try to give it a bit more drama than usual... and throw in a twist with Vampire the Masquerade coming in since he did mention enjoying playing Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.

 His story revolved around Vincent Templeton, a slacker who inherited a huge trust fund. Though he preferred to still live in a simple place, he was happy with his simple life of just enjoying his life and spending time with his few friends. The tale begins with the window of the unit across from his opening and his neighbor coming into view. The guy was a handsome fellow, and much to Vincent's curiosity, blood was splattered all over the man's chest. Vincent began watching his neighbor through a pair of binoculars, hoping to catch him strip naked for a cheap thrill. Who would have known this would be the start of a terrible ride in the World of Darkness.

Other than the crazy antics of his attention-hungry friend, Whitney, Vincent's night would be disturbed by the sudden sounds of what seemed to be a chase happening in the corridors outside the unit. Peering at the peep-hole, Vincent saw one of the neighbors from the unit above screaming for help. And an old man with a pipe dragging her away. The old man seemingly sensed his presence and warned through the door that Vincent mind his own business. Vincent spent the night sleeping with his collectible katana replica in his hands.

The next morning, Vincent rushed to the landlady to report what he had witnessed. To his surprise, the landlady lead him to the said neighbor and found her to be okay and unharmed. Confused, Vincent headed back to his unit and considered moving out. Whitney visited once more and this time, the two bore witness to the said neighbor breaking into the unit across the courtyard and stealing money and a gun. (The neighbor was Rocky's character, who was a bodyguard.)

Later that evening, Vincent hears the same sounds as the night before and finds the same scene unfolding in the hallway. This time, opting to try to help, Vincent steps outside with his katana and tries to fend the old man off. But the old man warns him to mind his own business. Calling the cops, Officer Manuel answers the call and tells Vincent to stay inside and lock the door. The cop eventually returns to inform him that the woman was found dead and the search for the old man is ongoing.

Vincent's initial calls for a new unit lead nowhere. And once again, he witnesses activity in the unit across the hallway. There, he catches the old man digging around, and then starting straight at him as if seeing him watching. Officer Manuel takes Vincent's call and tells him he will visit soon. The cop actually hints the meeting might be more than just work related. Vincent is bothered. Vincent once again sleeps with the sword in his hands.

He wakes up to an apparition. The woman begging for help is hovering above him. And when he tries to reach out, she vanishes. The phone rings that moment and he finds a message from one of the unit owners telling him that the unit he wanted to purchase was now free. Vincent opts to quickly visit the location, urgent to move as soon as possible.

While the new unit shows promise, with handsome neighbors and a seemingly quiet location, Vincent catches the attention of a young Asian child who keeps watching him. He tries talking to her, but she avoids direct conversation, only warning him the unit is supposedly haunted. He arrives back at his old unit to see Officer Manuel already there. What begins seemingly as a fantasy come to life, turns out to be a horrible abduction attempt with Manuel admitting he is merely following orders. The old man from the unit above appears at the door that moment, and Manuel and his companion kill the man without remorse. Vincent witnesses the companion "recover" from the bullet wound, and Manuel asks Vincent to cooperate. When asked who was asking for them to be abducted, Vincent receives no clear response.

He discovers the person who had him abducted happens to be his long dead parents, who had faked their deaths as they were Embraced into the Ventrue Clan. And both had petitioned for Vincent to be allowed to live a few more years just so his introduction to the Clan had him at a more mature age. Both parents however, admit their Sire was the one who called for his Embrace now. And that Sire happens to be the young Asian girl, Ming.

Ming admits Vincent is a most gifted individual, with glimpses of the future, with hints of seeing spirits, and before Vincent can ask how she knew of those things, it is revealed that even Whitney was a ghoul that served Ming. Manuel breaks through the room, beginning for Vincent to be allowed instead to remain human. But Ming instead has a vile idea. Sensing Vincent's rage towards Whitney's betrayal, she offers both the chance at the Embrace, provided one kill the other. Vincent demands he be given Manuel as his own ghoul if he survives, and the two duke it out. It does not take long before Vincent's inherent manipulative gaze catches Whitney off-guard, giving him the opening to end her life.


The Embrace however is not kind to Vincent. Though the years pass with him and Manuel sharing the eternal night together, Vincent's selective thirst being Ventrue happened to be being able only to feed on those who had fallen in love with him. But since Manuel needed to be fed back blood to retain his ghouldom, the Blood Bond soon quenched all existence of any true passion.

Unwilling to live the eternal night without a true semblance of love, Vincent rose to the Empire State Building to welcome the coming sun. And perhaps as a final touch of hope, Manuel's spirit appeared, offered his hand, and carried Vincent away to the lands without life leaving nothing but the embers and ashes of his corporeal form behind.


The game was definitely deemed heavy.  Alessandro expressed how drained he felt, but at the same time was definitely thankful for being given such an engaging game.  And I have to admit, I felt very happy since it always feels good to break someone's gamer hymen, so to speak.

Here's to another game with you soon, Alessandro.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blood and Anger : Houses of the Blooded

Blood and Anger
Houses of the Blooded

Although my Friday started with some panic (family-related but thankfully not as bad as I feared), things were on an upswing for the rest of the day.  The highlight, however, was when a good friend of mine named Arvie wanted a game for his birthday and of course who am I not to grant such a geeky desire.

So yeah, we were throwing ideas on what to play (originally, two other friends were to join but one got sick and the other had to bow to his wife's preference for him to stay home), and when I told him about John Wick's Houses of the Blooded game, he just absolutely fell in love with the idea.

So we went for it.

Arvie played Adam Saxony, House of the Bear.  His mother was Miera Saxony, Marquis of Ivar, House of the Bear.  His father, Guise Verr, a Baron of the Fox was an absent parent and barely was there to guide him in his life.  He was the eldest child of two children, and his sister Luna was barely five years old.

Adam was married to Asela of the House of the Serpent and the two had two wonderful children.  Twins, to be precise.  Helen, the daughter who was older by a few minutes, and Adrian.

Adam was known to be Academy Educated and Honest to a Fault.  He left each night to sneak into the domains of other Ven, and helped wives that were being abused whenever he could.  The game opened with Adam sneaking into the Castle of Count Kether Zsanosz Yvarai, House of the Fox.  He had been abusive in his relations with the Lady No.   And while she had many times whispered to him of her anguish, she never seemed to be willing to leave him.  That night, Adam made his escape in the darkness of the missing moon, and believed he escaped without being seen.

Later in the evening, Adam and Asela would find themselves uncovering an Assassin in their very own bedchambers.  When questioned, the Assassin admits he was sent by the Count Kether.  The husband and wife begin sharing thoughts on how they will plan their revenge.

Morning comes and Asela discusses the preparations for the Party they are hosting in the evening.  Helen and Adrian are celebrating their birthday and Asela is concerned of the many guests will be present.  "I made sure to invite Count Kether," Asela admits, "So his death must be clearly revenge.  Or a blessing of the Suaven.  An accident would not be permissible.  You are of the House of the Bear.  Your house must be seen as strong as you are."  Adam merely smiles.  His weakness, sadly, was Strength.  And it was a weakness his mother always reminded him he had.

To their surprise, however, the Count had come to the castle early.  While Asela focused on the prepartions, Adam headed downstairs to meet with him.  He first receives a package the Count had sent in advance and carefully studies it for any traces of deceit.  True enough, he finds a weak poison hidden in its wrappings.  One far too faint to hurt the Ven. But a poison nonetheless.  A card inside the wrapping shows the unique brand of Count Kether as well, confirming the present was sent by him.

"I come as requested by my acquaintance, the Lady No.  She insisted I deliver the package in advance.  Her desires are mine to fulfill," the Count admitted.  Adam was aware that Count Kether's honesty was legendary  and found himself uncertain what to do.  Deep down, he believed the Count had sent the assassin.  But this admission he shared suggested it was Lady No who sought to poison his Staff!

As the two discuss a possible cooperation between them, poisonous darts strike them in their necks.  An assassin flees as the two identify the poison that was used.  A variant of the five deadly poisons, this one was far slow acting, but nonetheless fatal.  Having no apothecary, Adam realized he had to trust Count Kether, who offered to produce an antidote in his Province.  The two hurried off to the Village Marksmoon where Adam's Caravan, The Vonn Passage, was waiting.

Finding the path clear of encounters, the two reached the Village and took the Caravan to the neighboring Province.  But the route was blocked by a massive Ork.  Adam remembered this Ork to have been defeated numerous times by his mother, and believed his resemblance of her would be enough to force it to flee.  The Ork did withdraw, but not before launching a massive rock at Adam, which pounded painfully into his face.

Arriving at Kether's Swamp, the Silent Bog, the two felt the poison's wicked sting grow stronger.  The poison first dulled the tongue, stripping the Ven of speech.  Then it grew heavy, slowing their movements the way Ikhalu's Milk would.  Soon, Adam knew, it would dance like Arsenic upon the inner organs, melting them as they brought death.  Count Kether fell to the ground, unable to move forward.  And Adam, hoping to direct the Witch of the Bog in time, rushed as quickly as his lumbering form could, to the Apothecary.  He found there waiting the Lady No.

Lady No first mistook Adam to be Adam's wife Asela, whom she knew to be a Serpent deeply obsessed with Sorcery.  Demanding proof of his identity, the Lady No hoisted a boiling cauldron towards the silenced Baron.  But Adam's Devotion to the Green Lady was strong, and her Circle of Protection parried the blow.  Seeing the Bear Blessing as proof, Lady No begged for forgiveness and in her passion admitted her crime.  She had been pretending to have been abused by Count Kether, hoping to convince Adam to kill him.  She had also sent the assassins to Vonn Castle twice, commanding them to kill Asela and Adam's children.  She did not realize the assassins themselves fell in vrente with her, and attempted to kill instead the men that she was associated with.

Aware now that Lady No was indeed the cruel author of the unfolding drama, Adam struggled to find a chance to bring his sword to her.  But he was far too weakened by the poison to do so.  When Lady No dragged back Count Kether's limp form to the hut, Adam found himself being asked to prove his love to her by killing him.  The Game of Romance began and both exchanged challenges to prove their love.  Adam knew he had to become Predator to win this dance.  He held the Bloodsword of the Count Kether in his hands, and slipped a sleeping draught into the wine that Lady No had offered.  "Let us drink first, to celebrate, then slay this man that stands in our way."

Lady No however was deft in the games of vrente.  She insisted the Count must be killed first.  And while she leaned over the limp Fox and mused on how her life was to be far more wonderful in the future, Adam considered striking her from behind.

The poison reached its peak.  Adam fell, dying, as his organs began to dissolve.  But rather than pain, he found himself seeing a vision.  A serpent emerged and slid around him, wrapping him in a crushing embrace.  He popped open like a watermelon seed and a fresh new him slid out.  The serpent ate the remains of his poisoned flesh and faded away.  Adam sat up, realizing the poison had some how been defeated, and slammed the pommel of the Bloodsword onto Lady No's unprotected back.  With the threat defeated, he called for the Witch to brew the antidote he knew of, but alas it came too late.  Count Kether was dying.  And with his final breath, the Count willed his tongue to move and told the Baron, "Yours" as he pushed his signet ring into the Baron's hands.


The Marquis, Adam's mother, arrived soon after with those dressed in Black.  He explained what he knew of the events, and the Marquis inquired with her seneschal (a pale man whose disturbing grin never seemed to end) and the seneschal confirmed his tal to be true.  "But I have still lost a Baroness in my Domain," the Marquis inquired, "If the Lady No remains alive, then who had died other than the dear Count Kether?"

Fear gripped Adam's heart and the two hurried back to Castle Vonn.  There, they found their fears mistaken:  Asela was alive and well, and she was not the Baronness whom the Marquis had sensed to have perished.  Adam spoke with her and she, between heartbreaking sobs, asked Adam, "Were you poisoned?  Was poison in your tale?"  When Adam admitted it was, Asela grew violent.  She screeched.  She wailed.  "It all comes to close.  It all now makes sense.  Poison... the Poison!  And we never knew she was that gifted.  We never realized my Blood was stronger in her veins than yours!"

Another cry in the Castle.  Adam heard his mother wail in agonzy.  Rushing to the sound, Adam found her in the Party grounds.  All the servants pulled away in fear.  Adam found his mother pointing at the stage, where Adrian could be seen standing without any readable expression in his face.  Adam's fears grew into true horror with each step towards his son.  Beside Adrian, his twin sister Helen lay dead upon the floor.  She had surrounded herself with a circle of blood.  Markings of Sorcery were laid on the circle's directional points.  It was Helen, sweet young Helen, who had sensed her father's fate.  And it was Helen, sweet young child, who had cast a Sorcery to take into herself the darkness that was to consume Adam's life.


The Jury was called to share their decision.  Lady No's connections to the Senate were known to be strong. But the proof of her actions were, in Adam's eyes, undeniable.  Four had been chosen to determine her guilt.  The first two stood and declared her guilty.  Two that believed Lady No was to wear the black.  One declared the proof insufficient, and reminded others that a tied vote would require Lady No to be determined innocent, unless Revenge was sought.

The fourth stood.  He opened his mouth to speak.

And the credits rolled.


While I did shift around many of the settings predetermined rules (such as those on Poisons, and the use of the Caravan to travel through the Provinces), the changes seemed apt to maintain the drama of the game.  Since Arvie had never read the Houses of the Blooded book before, I felt the changes were acceptable since they remained easy for him to grasp.  Enjoying a session, especially when it is a one-shot game, takes precedence over accuracy of the system after all.

The game was extremely heavy, and Arvie even messaged me the next day:
Oh God Tobie Abad. That Game was so intensely painful even in an imaginary level... But thank you very very much for exerting so much passion and enthusiasm in the game for me. I appreciate it so much! :)

Houses of the Blooded.
An absolutely vicious game I highly recommend to anyone who wants to try something deadly.
Passionate.  And Ven.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Running a Ghibli-Inspired Game

Running a Ghibli-Inspired Game
by Tobie Abad
August 2012

So you love Ghibli movies and you want to try running a game inspired by Studio Ghibli?  Here are some ways you can give your game, whatever game system you are using, a Ghibli touch.

1) Strong or Brave or Determined or Independent Women
Whether it be from Nausicaa, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro or Princess Mononoke... or Arrietty.. or Kiki's Delivery Service... or.. well you get the idea.  While there are films where women take a back seat (such as Porco Rosso) even those films still have strong women as side characters. So be sure to have at least one very notable woman in the story, whether a non-playing character or not.  Be warned, though, if the strong woman is a player, Ghibli logic dictates that the player have either a vital moment where her decision saves the main focus of the game (the world, the city, etc) or her faith or wisdom solves a once unsolvable riddle.

2) Cute sidekick
For some, this can be an animal that displays an unexpected level of intelligence (Jiji in Kiki's Delivery Service) or supportive and touchingly sensitive even if it is still of baser animal instincts (Teto in Nausicaa).  If none of the player go for a sidekick, you can always throw this role in as either a sibling (Graveyard of the Fireflies or My Neighbor Totoro) or as a comic relief extra related to a non-playing character (The giant baby in Spirited Away, or the white tiny Totoro in My Neighbor Totoro).    As the Totoro movie shows, however, there's no harm in having more than one.  In fact, the more the merrier!

3) Technology, Magic, and Nature should be and evident presence in the game
While there is no need for them to always be against each other as they were presented in Nausicaa or Princess Mononoke, the contrast between them should always be clear.  Rare would technology be mistaken as magic.  Rarer would there be any claims that magic is just some kind of super-science.

Oh and always consider that Magic or Nature should have either a deific manifestation (Spirited Away truly goes wild with this idea).

4) Transformation should always be present
Whether it be through magic, such as in Howl's Moving Castle, through a secret innate ability like in Pom Poko, or as a curse never clearly defined in Porco Rosso, the idea that certain characters have been changed or remain changed in a certain way is a factor to always be hinted if not made clearly present in the game.

And if possible, the player characters should either be the one to uncover this transformation, or resolve it through their actions.

5) Flying is Wonderful
Always be sure to let the players enjoy the freedom and fluidity of flight.
The more often the better.

6) Villains are Grey. Not Black.   (If there is one at all.)
The villains are never truly evil.  Most would either be misunderstood, vengeful, or usually sad and lonely and doing only what they believe they must.

7) Emotions are always Important.
Never skimp on emotional moments.  Whether it is to contemplate on the loss of a loved one, the need to face fear, or the act of experiencing love, Ghibli movies always have a moment to explore the importance of emotions.  In many cases, the act of embracing these emotions should bring greater strength or understanding.

8) Gentle Giants
Many things that are huge and frightening should eventually be discovered to be kind and friendly if given the chance.  Whether they be mistaken as enemies as first like in Spirited Away or Laputa, or as a terrible force that cannot be controlled such as in Nausicaa, these gentle giants show a kinder side if given a chance.  Or once tears fall.

9) Death is real.
Whether the death is final, such as in Graveyard of the Fireflies or temporary, such as in Nausicaa, death should be a present and true threat for others to fear.

10) A sense of Wonder should always be present.
No matter how dark things get, or how dangerous a place is, there should always be a sense of wonder present.   Humor can always be a method this is injected into a scene.  Or the setting itself can bring it about, so be sure to craft wonderful images when you describe a new scene.

*Images from

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Epic : Exalted e02

The Epic

The second session of the game opens with Maseta Amarilis (played by Mahar) finding a tomb in the desert that contains an artifact that once belonged to her.  The 60 yard long corridor was flanked by numerous stone guardians.  At the corridor's terminus is a glass case containing a gleaming pair of Orichalcum hatchets known as : Lightning Torment Hatchets. Throwing a dagger, with hopes of making a line to cross without touching the ground, the guardians move and slice the blade into shattered pieces.  Realizing she would have to try something more dangerous, the former assassin runs the gauntlet, leaping into the shadow of each guardian and utilizing her Perfect Defense Dodge charm to evade each time her leaps launched her headlong into trouble.  At the end of the corridor, she found herself facing an Essence construct of her former self who reveals to her the name her Solar essence once held in the First Age, M'randa, as well as one additional fact:  She had killed her First Age husband.

Enos Ragara (played by Urim) on the other hand finds himself lost in a dream where he witnesses a falling star crash just meters from where he stands.  A starmetal box gleams in the crater and a strange spider-like thing addresses him using fragments of his memories to forge words to ask for his identity.  The name comes to him without thinking: Dominus.  The box unfurls into a cloth which the spider drags with it as it launches itself back to the heavens.  Enos finds on the floor a majestic Orichalcum crown.  Wearing it, he feels the immense power behind the artifact as well as the three hearthstones still attached to it.  He muses on the words of the spider:  Delivery successful.  Promise delivered.  End transaction.  And wakes up to find himself back in camp with the crown still on his head.

It has been a few days since their frightening self-discovery (the last game) and Maseta, her husband Dargo, her stylist Hugo Voss, and Enos Ragara have opted to camp out in the desert to collect their thoughts on the fact they were now these so-called Anathema.   In the years that followed the return of the Scarlet Empress, the Wyld Hunt had been injected with a fresh new surge of inspiration and resources in their work.  At the cost of many of the Realm's known heroes, it was believed that all the Anathema in Creation had been wiped out.  The frightening shape changing mutants of the Wyld were destroyed.  The dark bloody infernal things of the Underworld and the other world were purified and buried.  The mechanical monstrosities from the floating city were disassembled.  And the golden deceivers of the demonic horde were hunted down, chased to the ground, and slain.  Creation, for the longest time, had become a peaceful and relatively safe haven for mortals and Dynasts alike.

But now, the four struggled with awakening memories of their First Age lives, of the truths whispered by the Unconquered Sun, and of the fact that even now as these diabolical Anathema, they all still felt like themselves.  Only more powerful.  Only more skilled and dangerous.

Enos wakes to see Maseta staring at him, pondering on where the naked old sheriff had found the gaudy crown on his head.  Dargo woke to see the two, feeling pangs of jealousy to see his wife standing beside a naked man.  But all three quickly realized Hugo was missing, and with Enos' keen sight, the group realized the young Stylist was far away in the desert and in danger.  Leaping onto horses (Maseta rode with her husband, having no skill with riding any steed), the three bounded to see what their friend had gotten himself into.

The young man was at the entrance of another tomb in the desert, and his hands were seemingly focused on some kind of motions that suggested the use of Sorcery.  Closing in on him were two massive armored forms:  Warstriders.  And both bore the crest of the Wyld hunt.  The first was of red jade, and flame danced around its fortified frame.  The second, still airborne, was blue, and held a massive jade spear.   And above both floated a massive airship of House Mnemon.

Quickly, Enos fired his flame piece with his Righteous Devil Style empowering the assault.  Maseta, on the other hand, was thrown by Dargo towards the airship in a bid to delay further reinforcements.  The red Warstrider closed in to attack, taking minimal damage from Enos' initial attack.  Unfortunately, Enos took the Daiklave to the chest and fell down after his failed attempt to dodge the swing.  Bleeding profusely, the Solar of the Dawn caste reconsidered his approach.  Maseta pulled herself closer, but allowed her hatchets to remain extended, spinning like a ball of blades towards the airship.  Tearing through the tarpaulin balloon that kept the ship aloft, she maneuvered her fall to land onto the deck of the ship.  Dargo caught the red Warstrider's attack, and with a strength he never knew he had, ripped the arm and weapon away from the Dragonblooded warrior whose name, it was revealed was Cynis Avaku.  The blue Warstrider closed in on Maseta and unleashed an incredible sonic attack which Maseta thankfully escaped from.  It became clear that in the blue Warstrider was the last remaining Immaculate Monk, Pheleps Deled.

And on the airship, stepping out to face Maseta, was Menmon herself.  In her hands, a chain swung which suspended a crucible that released a green mist.

Enos rose, ignoring his injury, and called out to all present.  Unveiling his Anima Banner, that of a massive golden horse rearing at the gathered, Enos demanded that all leave or face their deaths at his hands.  With the Crown of Thunders empowering his words and his Caste Power further increasing its potency, the Dragonblooded all began to feel the fear that would overtake their sensibilities.  Even Cynis Avaku failed against the fear and began to retreat.  Pheleps Deled, however, resisted and prepared another assault upon the still casting Hugo.

Mnemon smirked upon seeing Maseta and allowed the Crucible to drop onto the deck of the ship.  Maseta, knowing Sorcery is always trouble, kicked a body off the ship to use as a landing platform and escape.  Hugo's protective shield shatters upon Deled's assault, and the combined efforts of Enos and Dargo thankfully distract the Dynast long enough for Hugo's Sorcery to succeed.  From the ground, a golden barge erupts and begins to rise.   At the same time, from the green clouds on the Mnemon airship, a massive tower also erupts and upon it, a titanic Demon from Malfeas itself.

As Dargo continues to rip Deled's armor to pieces, Enos decides it would be best to take a strategic retreat. Maseta wisely uses her Hatchets to pull Dargo back to the vessel, but not before Deled strikes Dargo and paralyzes him into a useless state.  While the odds seemed stacked still on Mnemon's favor, to the incomplete Circle's surprise, she instead calls Deled to pull back, holds her Demon from attacking and throws Enos a scroll case with information on various weapon caches of House Mnemon.  The group flies off further into the desert thankful their lives remain intact.

Days pass and the group considered where to hide.  Hugo suggests at first hiding in the last place the enemy would look (the Blessed Isle) but his suggestion is quickly shot down.  The group decides Nexus would help, and Maseta's connection to the Guild can be used to further their plans.  But when the group discusses how Dargo and Maseta's Daughter remains in Chairoscuro and might be taken hostage to lure them back, the group opts to head there immediately to try to steal her away.

Their plan is sound.  Dargo and Maseta enter the city, with Maseta in disguise.  The two planned to get to their daughter and escape with her back to the ship.  But none of them anticipated that a huge party was being held in their home, and their daughter was auctioning all their belongings away.  With Dargo opting to stay hidden in the alleyways, fearing being recognized, Maseta attends the event after filching another guest's invitation.  Inside, she finds her daughter proudly speaking of her father, and all their belongings being sold for charity.  To Maseta's horror, her daughter Raya turns out to be under the guardianship of "Uncle" Orus, the Guildmaster leader Maseta used to work for.  Eventually convincing both under the guise of being another far-forgotten relative, to meet with her in private, Maseta was on the verge of  revealing her true nature when Orus grabs hold of the Solar and pulls them both out of the scene.  Raya blinks and convinces herself she must have dozed off, having no recollection of the meeting having taken place.

Enos remains bothered of the vision his Scrying Stone shows him, and goes to a nearby pub to try to forget about things.  But soon, he hears sirens of alarm (or declaration?) and runs outside to see the night sky illuminated by what seems to be a fleet of airships.  He realizes the others may be in danger and decides to rush there to see how he can help.

The fleet turns out to be the Scarlet Empress.  And she has come to collect her newly adopted daughter: Raya.

In the garden, Maseta and Orus exchange harsh words.  Orus admits he set things in motion, bringing the four to a fated moment when they would meet.  But when Maseta demands explanations, Orus refuses to answer, admitting he can only help them so much.  And that their destiny lies in finding the fifth Solar. There are only five Solar Essences left in Creation.  And only when all five are united can things become better.

Maseta demands a name, but Orus explains either they find that out on their own and still have his help when he can, or he tells her the answer and can no longer assist in any way.  Orus insists Raya will be safest with the Empress.  She demands and answer and he gives it:  The Final Solar is the Scarlet Empress.  And upon uttering those words, Orus is assailed by spider spirits that emerge out of nowhere, and devour him away.  So utterly destroyed is he that Maseta soon finds herself wondering why she is crying for someone she cannot remember.

She escapes the house, even with the Dragon-blooded all present.  Enos ignites a massive fire to distract the Dragon-blooded, and Maseta launches her Hatchet away to divert all Essence-seeking Dynasts to a wrong path.  And as they all regroup in the ship, the couple wonders if Raya is truly safer where they left her, and what to do now given their paths will require them to face with the greatest Dragon-blooded of them all.


Yep, told you this will be epic.
And yes, I know canonically, there are many contradictions in this tale with the system, but hey, fun goes before system as far as I am concerned.  With this session, the players now have a greater understanding of the immensity of the story and access to any Artifacts they may need.  The players received additional experience points and free dots of permanent Essence to reflect their concentrated Solar Essences.

Orus clearly was Sidereal. And while the Scarlet Empress may be the final threat they have to face, the players are now considering what role Mnemon may play to help or hinder them as the game progresses.  They do raid the weapon caches, and find no ambush party or traps waiting for them, much to their surprise. The group easily muses that Mnemon might be making another gambit for the throne, and is hoping to use them as the weapon to defeat the Scarlet Empress.

Oh, Dargo and Maseta had some nice fun moments talking about their past lives, and Maseta admitted she supposedly killed her First Age husband - a fact they misunderstood to mean she killed Dargo in the past.  It was later revealed in game that Dargo's First Age name was Daisen, which confused Maseta.  Because Maseta's First Age husband was named Swan.

Enos and Hugo were discussing how Hugo was effeminate because he had grown used to acting that way.  He is obsessed with women and as it turns out, used to just act gay to be able to fondle them and not get smacked in the face.  During their discussion, he admits his First Age name to be Swan and immediately angrily chides, "What kind of man would ever embrace something so girly and frilly as a... oh wait..."  The irony wasn't lost to them.

Lastly, Enos' vision showed many things, but admittedly, I can't quite recall what parts of my plot I revealed and what I haven't.  So rather than risk posting stuff that I didn't actually give the players yet, I'll have to remain mum on that for now.

So, till the next Epic episode!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Krume Story : Vampire the Dark Ages + Mage the Sorcerer's Crusade

The Krume Story
Vampire: The Dark Ages
Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade

Antonin Krum was born a noble in 1305.  First born son of Marcelus Krum.  Very gifted at an early age.  A fast learned.  And for things he could not learn, he would talk his way around.  Charismatic and well-trained.    He was taught he has a right to rule, even before his Embrace.

He was eventually Embraced into the Tzimisce Clan by a Cainite called Gaius, who happened to be his Uncle.  This was on the year 1335.  They openly took over domains and expanded their influence.   The game begins in 1452.   Michael, the Patriarch, who watches over Constantinople calls all the Cainites of the city for a meeting.  There, he merely tells them telepathically to prepare for sleep.  The Cainites depart and Antonin joins his sire in the underground tomb to sleep as the Methuselah commanded, fearing the coming siege of the city.

When he wakes, however, he finds himself bathed in sunlight.  Rising from the silken sheets, Antonin discovers impossible things:  He is mortal, standing in the sunlight, and in some bed room.  Everything he knows of his city has changed.  The world has become a familiar yet different place.  Eventually a servant tells him it is 1916 and Antonin struggles to comprehend how this has happened.  He tries to wake from Torpor but nothing happens.  And when he punches the wall in frustration, he feels the pain and hurt of an injured mortal body.  The vitae is no longer there to heal.  The people refer to him as Master Krume and one young lady welcomes him warmly, answering his questions about the city outside his window.  He struggles to comprehend how it could be that many years since his sleep, and how his body could be mortal.  He asks for them all to give him space to think and locks himself inside the room.

Adding to the strangeness is a red-skinned spirit that he keeps seeing in the room, intangibly watching him.  The spirit turns out to be a daemon, and Krume senses somehow that the spirit is a reflection or representation of himself.  When the dowager countess of the house demands to see him, she chides him for his lack of proper manners and states, "I would have expected a better display of educated presentation from one of the Cosian Circle."

Krume eventually determines that this is either a fevered dream in torpor, a gift of Michael the Patriarch to those who serve under him, or him somehow possessing someone else's body far later in the years to come.

The young daughter returns and insists his "strange actions" are because she insisted that they last night try the absinthe that Master Krume had brought with him from Switzerland.   He hears a strange noise and outside sees a horseless carriage moving down the road.  Krume falls down, confused and lost and wondering what has happened to him.

The game was meant to be a one-shot game, but admittedly I'm finding myself excited to explore this story more.  A pity Urim, the player in the game, had a sudden bout of asthma to deal with.  Price to pay given the cold stormy weather and having a dog in the house I guess.  My intermittent smoking for certain made things worse.  So sadly, we had to cut the game short, rush off to a nearby 24-hour Mercury Drugstore to get him what he needed.

But I guess yeah, that's the kind of game I end up throwing a player when I'm inspired by Vampire, Mage: the Sorcerer's Crusade, Downton Abbey and shows like Awake and Life on Mars.    Too bad the game was cut short.  But who knows, maybe I can throw this kind of twist again in a future session: One shot or not.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Epic : Exalted e01

The Epic

Gaming remains one of my deepest and strongest passions.

Thankfully, tonight, I was able to run another game.  While the weather conditions were less than ideal, and it did require me to trek all the way to Katipunan, it was great being able to co-write another story with friends and add a bit of interactive drama and action without the worries of someone getting hurt. :-)

Urim and Mahar were my players and we had a session of Exalted: An Epic.  In this story, Urim plays Enos Ragara, a frontier sheriff who struggles to find a solution to their town suffering from an intense drought.  His family, an offshot of the Ragara Dragonblood line, moved to the frontier in a bid to escape the bigotry and cruelty they felt the Dynasty maintained.  But when the town shaman is found dead with one of his son's holding the murder weapon, the investigation leads to Urim learning that his son and wife have long been keeping a dark secret from him.  And that he himself may be one of the so-called Anathema as well.

Mahar, in this story, plays Maseta Amarilis, a former assassin of the Guild who had retired in hopes of finding a more fulfilling life.  But being married and with a child did not seem enough, so when the Guild Master asked her for one more mission, she felt more than ready to dive back in.  Infiltrating the tomb beneath the house of an old friend, Mahar learned of her Anathema nature and successfully steals an old brass timepiece which gives her a glimpse of the future.  A future where an old frontier sheriff dies from the maw of a massive tyrant lizard.

Mahar and her husband and stylist travel to the frontier and successfully stop the Tyrant Lizard from killing Urim.  But in the act, two more Anathema inadvertently reveal their natures.  Mahar's husband, and her stylist, also happen to be Solar Exalted just like them.  And while the four muse on where the fifth one could be, (as the stylist exclaimed, "There were always five weren't there?") none are aware that the Scarlet Empress, who had come back and retaken her throne, had detected their presence through the Realm's Defense Grid, and had called for her Valkyries to bring the Solars down.

The game is set in a time when the Scarlet Dynasty had recovered, the Empress had returned, and the Wyld Hunt had successfully destroyed practically all of the Anathema in the World.  And using the Eye of Authocton, any new resurrections were detected and immediately destroyed.

Welcome to Exalted: The Epic.


This game was really a stress-release game for me.  In as much as an epic tale is in the works, I didn't bother to push for heavy drama like I normally do in my games.  Instead, this game flowed more like an episode of Naruto or Berserk with lots of innuendos, crazy antics and modern touches to give the medieval a twist.    Inspirations for the game ranged from shows like Alias to references from Cowboys and Aliens.

The Husband of Maseta was pretty much your perfect guy.  Handsome, big bodies and shy towards women.  Always good natured and very helpful, to the point of looking lost and bewildered when insulted.  An epitome of the Dawn Caste, Dargo Mag is a man of incredible strength and unbelievable power.  At one point, he hoists up a boulder clearly five times his height over his shoulder to clobber a tyrant lizard that was trying to climb out of a fissure in the earth.

The Sylist of Maseta was this squeaky little effeminate man named Hugo Voss, who claims his parents named him out of a joke.  He is a visionary, having invented Stiletto heels and a corset for Maseta to show of and at one point even suggests to Maseta (prior to realizing she was also, like him, an Exalted) to show of a new fashion look inspired by the Anathema given that they were all wiped out by the Scarlet Dynasty.

I anticipate the game will have five episodes at the most.  Unlike most of my games, here, episodes will not directly connect to the last one.  Instead there will always be an amount of downtime between game sessions to help further the explanation for experience adjustments.  This first game session had the players Exalting for the first time, so they barely had a clear understanding of what charms or caste they have.  Game session two will definitely move things forward with them having better understanding of their power levels.

One this is for certain, a showdown with the Scarlet Empress is most likely the way this game will end... unless there's someone else really behind the scenes moving things around.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gifts of the God Mages, Discontinued.

Sadly, due to the workload and the stresses of real-life, the Gift of the God Mages campaign has to be cancelled.  Just too many things to juggle today to continue it, especially if one considers how complicated a mess Pathfinder (and practically any d20 system) is to keep track of.  Too many tables, charts, maps and stuff to look out for.

Time to head back to other systems.
Still, it was fun, Pathfinder, while it lasted.

But the experience definitely reminded me how much I love the White Wolf Gaming Studios' Storyteller System, and John Wick's approach to games more.

Thanks for the fun!

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