Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Consequences

My getting ready selfie.
Gary Dodd is still missing when this session begins so the vampires re-convene the following night at the Boozecan.  His ghoul, Dorothy Rosenburg, meets them at the door and allows Yzador to examine the egg found at the scene after her regnant's disappearance.

Prince Harry Saeed and the Primogen Seamus O'Baoill spend much of their time in a back room, occasionally inviting in Professor Jasmine Hadley, Michael Novichkov and Peter Walsh (NPC portrayed by Dodd's player while Gary is missing).  Plenty of back room deals are had as Prince Harry Saeed works out a possible punishment for Novichkov's public (forum) orders that countered Saeed's own.

Eventually they decided that Novichkov would need to publicly kneel before the prince and take a single sip of his blood (forming a one step blood bond).  Being blood bound to the prince was no small issue as it meant that Novichkov would feel some degree of adoration toward him.  Initially the prince had wanted two steps, but the rest of the Ordo Dracul denied it as there were special rules in place to prevent that.  Novichkov would have refused to kneel at least, but he was under the effects of Majesty and had his emotions shifted to "submissive" when it occurred.  So kneel he did and lost some standing among the court for it.

Also at one point Siobhan O'Baoill was called in to discuss the situation with her "claimed" human, Bennett.  Prince Saeed kindly offered to spare the man's life were he to be blood bound and kept in check by Siobhan O'Baoill.  As a Masquerade breach, and a violent one who had attacked FatherMother, he'd normally be killed on sight as punishment for his actions.

After this conversation, several vampires went to the service station where Gary Dodd disappeared and started investigating the toilet.  The service station attendant must have wondered greatly why five individuals were entering the disability access toilet together.  His theories couldn't have been helped when Novichkov banged on the walls to see if there were a hidden passage.

Yzador repeated Bennett's name thrice in the mirror, thinking of the legends of Bloody Mary, but nothing happened.  After a little more thinking he deduced that Bennett needed to be called out by a survivor of one of his attacks and so Siobhan O'Baoill stepped forward.  She had been attacked by Bennett during a side adventure (played out over the forums as a play-by-post).

The first time Siobhan O'Baoill mentioned his name thrice, the lights went out!  But it turned out to be Yzador with his hand on the switch.  The second time she did it, there was an answering knock from the walls.  The third time she repeated his name thrice, he appeared in the reflection behind her.
Novichkov reached out and touched the mirror, causing the lights to shatter and the power went off in a several block radius.  When nothing else happened, they returned to the Boozecan.

Elsa and Peter Walsh
Elsa has nothing but smiles for Peter Walsh.
Sheriff FatherMother then argued that Bennett should die for striking her and Siobhan O'Baoill kept arguing that he shouldn't.  In the end they decided to summon a True Fae, "The Blue Girl" since Bennett was one of her fetches.
 
Once summoned, The Blue Girl explained that Gary Dodd had already left the Mirror Realm for another one through the use of his Clan Stone obtained in the very first session.

The Blue Girl also explained that she could lure the Angel Faced Killer out of the Mirror Realm but that the vampires would have to repay her with his heart -- should they kill him.  Sheriff FatherMother agreed without the prince's permission (both he and the primogen were still in the back room) and the True Fae left moments before the prince and his advisors returned to the room.

Several minutes later, Bennett appeared out of the reflection in a mirror, bat in hand, looking anxious and distressed.  At the moment he wasn't in Angel Faced Killer mode and he begged them to kill him before he killed again.  He figured a room full of vampires should be able to take him down, though he couldn't promise not to fight back.

He described vague memories of seeing a female silhouette of green light lure Gary Dodd further into the Port Adelaide Train Museum on the mirror side, that's all he knew of Dodd's fate.  Prince Saeed talked him down (backed up by Majesty) with Siobhan O'Baoill's supportive pleas and he agreed to be taken into custody.  They couldn't disarm him, however, or else he would lose control and attack.
During all of this, Peter Walsh whispered in the ear of a few of the vampires that Bennett would likely die if blood bound as vampiric vitae tended to unravel spells and the Angel Faced Killer fetch was nothing if not a living spell.

Then Bennett went into a side room with Prince Saeed, Siobhan O'Baoill and Seamus O'Baoill (with Thomas McAllister in Obfuscate in the corner).  Realising they couldn't simply bond him into submission, they decided to sedate him and keep him in lock down until they figured out how to save them.

Finally Prince Saeed took the Ordo Dracul aside so that they could all go out to rescue Dodd from the Mirror Realm.  Of course before they could get to him they found themselves drawn into an otherworldly train -- the same one where Gary Dodd was drawn when he spent his stone.

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: The Boozecan

Conspiring Ordo Dracul....
Due to a variety of reasons, only six players were able to attend.  This worked out quite well as the group were quite able to entertain themselves and I (as Lead GM) had plenty of time to portray the two NPCs dragged along to game.

The premise was that Gary Dodd, notorious Nosferatu Smuggler, was hosting a small party at his dodgy pub, the Boozecan in North Haven, a residential suburb near Outer Harbor in Adelaide.

I set up a card table and four chairs in the book room though it went unused because in a game of six PCs you don't really need to split up.  The spare bedroom was decked out with mirrors, fake bowl of condom and a leopard print blanket top to give it that really dodgy vibe.  The bedroom was used once by Jonathon Williams and Professor Jasmine Hadley, who both had the Wanton condition and decided to get rid of it by jumping into the sack together.  Naturally Gary Dodd and FatherMother tried to bust in once or twice, as everyone was drunk as a skunk by that point.

I'm getting ahead of myself ... Gary Dodd had made a deal to get four bottles of Lacrima (basically vampire wine) and had even set up salted beer nuts and marijuana joints (rolled up pieces of card for the latter).  FatherMother arrived with four bottles of Lacrima and five Flowers of Demeter (allows a vampire to eat, drink and get drunk like a human) that were carried in by her hippy looking ghoul, Daryl.  It took her awhile to sell them, but she managed to sell all the Flowers for a Minor Boon apiece.

Jonathon Williams drank ... a lot.  And I mean, a lot.  Bottle of vodka and gin, two bottles of some other liquor.  Two bottles of Lacrima.  If he were a human, he'd be dead.  As it was he was very unsteady on his feet and became really obsessed with finding and bashing down Bill because Bill's a dick.  I really loved watching his random fixation occasionally rise up again and again, as it seemed the kind of thing an aggressive drunk would do.

Why was Bill though to be such a dick?

Well Siobhan O'Baoill had brought a regular human along to the party that everyone recognised as the Angel Faced Killer.  He claimed to be the killer's twin brother.  No one bought that, but no one cared.  At one point in the conversation, Siobhan told the guy that she'd had to claim him and he jokingly complained that there hadn't been a cat fight between Siobhan and Talitha over that (since they both had history with him).

His exactly line after that was: "Wait, does that mean I'm Sookie Stackhouse?  If that's the case, which one of you's Eric?  And which one's Bill?"

Naturally Gary Dodd had to be walking past and demanded an explanation for it.  The room dropped into an awkward silence as the Angel Faced Killer really didn't want to describe the analogy but in the end enough got out that Jonathon Williams overheard that there were two vampires (who he thought were in town) called Bill and Eric and that Bill was a dick.  Jonathon Williams immediately went outside to find these two vampires and invite them in, then wandered back in ten minutes later with a cane he had 'liberated' from some poor human guy at a bus shelter.
Gambling vampires
Two vampires gossip in the background while four vampires gamble.
Later, Daryl (FatherMother's ghoul) offered a round of M&Ms that he said was ecstasy mixed with a dash of LSD but which were just LSD coated on chocolate.  Siobhan O'Baoill, Talitha Salvatore, Jonathon Williams and Gary Dodd each took one.  Gary Dodd then pressured the Angel Faced Killer into having one, watching as he put it in his mouth, then encouraging him to swallow it.  Professor Jasmine Hadley may, or may not, have taken one.  I can't really remember.

We had a YouTube Playlist going and soon after this point, "Rubber Johnny" by Aphex Twin came on and everyone who'd taken an M&M took it as a shared hallucination.  Gary Dodd threw a chair at it.  Siobhan O'Baoill hid under a cushion.  The Angel Faced Killer pulled his baseball bat (brand name - Excalibat) which basically proved who he was.  Jonathon Williams (a Khaibit) used his shadow magic to try to impale the things.  Talitha Salvatore just watched in curiosity.  FatherMother just watched the whole thing, amused at everyone else's reactions but unable to see anything.

After a game of Poker, much conspiring and information sharing, Siobhan O'Baoill decided that everyone should go and deal with the bee vampires.  The Angel Faced Killer concurred. 

FatherMother and Professor Jasmine Hadley thought everyone was too drunk on Lacrima and high on drugs to do anything dangerous.

At one point, Professor Jasmine Hadley literally scolded Siobhan O'Baoill and told her to sit down.  And she did.  Grumpily.

Instead of going demon hunting Gary Dodd mentioned that he had the mobile phone of a guy that he'd tried to feed from in an alley.  The guy had shrugged him off, blocked the flow of blood to the wound, and seen through Gary's obfuscate.  He also didn't seem to realise it wasn't just a mugging, so Gary did mug him and took his phone.  Going through his details, they found that he was looking for gigs and was the lead singer in a band.  They played some of his music (I used Three Days Grace).
They then sent an email to him stating that he could come to the Boozecan to audition for a gig. 

Being a desperate musician, he rocks up half an hour later but as soon as he enters the place, he's uneasy and glares at Talitha and Siobhan who sit together at one table.  He sings "I Hate Everything About You" (also by Three Days Grace), flipping off the two women at appropriate moments in the song.  I lip synced all of this since I can't sing well at all.  Bennett, expecting trouble, had snuck out the back to change into his armour, just in case he'd need to defend Nix.

There was finally a big conversation with the fellow being rather obstinate about not wanting to give them what they wanted, a few little secrets got out, and then when he went to leave the Sheriff slammed his face into the bar counter, breaking his nose.

Everything escalated from that point onward when he dropped his little charred egg that erupted into a Size 4 flaming figure that started attacking FatherMother while he blasted Jonathon Williams with heat that kept setting his clothing on fire.  Jonathon Williams, in turn, tried to lasso him with shadow stuff.

In the end, Talitha Salvatore leapt between them, grabbed Nix and carried him off to safety, leaving the charred egg behind.  Her sire followed after her but didn't manage to catch up.

At this point Bennett entered the fray, walked over to FatherMother, and smashed her in the head. Turns out he'd triggered into his Angel Face Killer at this point due to his worries about Nix.  Ironic, really, since he'd have killed Nix if the man had been there.  The joy of a Slasher Trigger!

So he slams FatherMother again, nearly torporing her with eight successes, and Jonathon Williams grabs her and legs it.  Gary Dodd uses Obfuscate to drop out of sight and follows Bennett as he walks steadily out of the Boozecan and into a nearby service station.  He walked into the toilet, touched a mirror, and opened a doorway into another place (the Mirror City).  Gary Dodd, never one to be left out, reaches out and touches the mirror, going with him.

And that's where we ended the session.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Establishment of Order

Lewis Epcott's cheerful smile makes a great contrast to Prince Saeed's thoughtful decorum.
Lewis Epcott's cheerful smile makes a great contrast
to Prince Saeed's thoughtful concern.
Harry Saeed of the Ordo Dracul hosted a social soiree at his cafĂ© so that he could declare himself their new prince.  After his declaration, Siobhan O’Baoill and Talitha Salvatore revealed their own prize that they had earned through an online play-by-post session: a torpid (unconscious) vampire who could control bee swarms.  Allegedly this vampire belonged to a mysterious bloodline (sub-group) of vampire called the Melissidae who could control swarms of insects.

They brought the vampire inside and tied her to a chair (where I sat with my wrists crossed behind my back) and roused her with some vitae direct from a vampire’s wrist.  They discovered that she couldn’t speak directly to them.  Instead she spoke through bees that she summoned from her lungs so only those with the vampiric discipline of Animalism could understand her.  When she was backhanded back into torpor, the bees fell into a desiccated state.

This strange turn of events made them wonder if she were indeed a Melissidae at all.  They searched her body and found lumpsaround the base of her neck.  Gary Dodd did some, ahem, exploratory surgery with a knife and dug them out.  He discovered the notes to be a gak-like substance that moved further in.  He pulled on them, pulling out tendril after tendril, that started waving toward him but Prince Harry Saeed sapped their will with one of his powers (Numbing Touch) and they ceased to move.

Finally they roused her again, chatted to her some more, then put her back into torpor.  Prince Harry Saeed assisted by Doctor Jonathon Taylor surgically removed all of the strange pieces from her body, cautious not to kill her.  Finally they staked her and transferred into Gary Dodd’s care for safe keeping.

Afterwards, Siobhan O’Baoill, Seamus O’Baoill, Talitha Salvatore and Thomas McAllister went to visit a guy (played by me again) in a nearby pub for general conversation (and some justifiable swearing on Siobhan’s part).  We did this in the “Elsewhere Room.”  I leaned up against a cupboard that was at the right height for a bar and drank iced tea to represent beer.

Later FatherMother revealed that she could provide the vampires with Lacrima (vampire wine).  Jonathon Williams also offered to steal some deluxe bottles of Lacrima from Duchess Alicia Brown’s collection.  Then the conversations turned to the usual political schmoozing as various individuals jockeyed for various positions.

Through all of this the thought of the faux Melissidae and her missing demonically possessed sire was not far from everyone’s minds…

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Investigative Burglary

This session was a smaller than usual one because the heat kept several players indoors and the date just didn't worked out for a few of them as well.  That ended up working out great, though, as it meant that those who were there were freed to investigate a number of leads.  It did make the game more of a multi-form than a true LARP, but we used the space enough to keep it interesting.

Firstly we used the main space to represent the Ordo Dracul haven as they mingled.  Some of the information from earlier downtimes including Siobhan O'Baoill's police report on the missing folks from Delphin Island (prop) and Thomas McAllister's investigations into the missing Invictus Prince Alicia Brown was shared around.

Folks decided to chase up on the break-and-entry into one of Duchess Alicia Brown's old  properties, figuring it might be a lead to a missing Ordo Dracul (Julia Dannenburg) and the old human confessor (Samantha Ehrenstein).  They all piled into Professor Jasmine Hadley's fancy large van and headed straight for the location which was an old house used as storage facilities for a Historical Society.

McAllister and Talitha Salvatore busted in by themselves (other players sat around the table to chat in the van) by avoiding the few sensor lights and creeping in through the roof.  Once inside they found a stuffed eagle with a heartbeat (actually a recording that can be automatically heard by vampires even if it's too quiet for humans to notice) and a note written in dried blood.  They also found a safe.  This was accomplished using a tabletop format.

McAllister temporarily disabled the security systems and everyone else came inside.  Acute Senses deduced which four numbers held the code: 1, 2, 7, 9.  Doctor Jonathon Taylor correctly guessed it was 1927, representing the year before his Other Version went insane.  Inside the large and very thick safe sat a magpie feather, small rose quartz, little device and two autopsy reports on a pair of deaths that occurred over the past few months.  I had props for all of these things, using one of those little puzzles where you have to pull a little steel doodad from a plastic casing just the right way.  I didn't have a prop for the safe or the bird, obviously.  They gathered these up and left.

Man and woman conspire.
Two werewolves having a quiet conversation.
They relaxed for awhile, reading the props and looking the items over.  Dr. Jonathon Taylor got the doodad out and found that the shorter point always pushed in the direction of the nearest section of gloom, kind of like a weird compass.  The gloom being like a darker overlay on certain sections of the city.  They now had a map to compare it too (also a prop) which Guilherma de Miramont had put together during the downtime period.
 
Conversation then turned toward a known werewolf pack who work out of the Inferno Nightclub (which they own).  They decided to head down there and leave Seamus O'Baoill outside because he's too valuable (and because I needed his player to reprise the role of an old NPC for me).

I quickly re-set the room while they lurked in the corridor and made their plans.  I shoved the round table out of the way and put chairs up against the counter in a make-shift bar.  I also put out a single chair which A.L. covered in a red sheet to represent a kind of creepy throne thing.  I acted out the bouncer as they arrived, forcing Taylor to dump his loose blue shirt which was deemed too unfashionable, and Siobhan O'Baoill flashed her badge with a demand to see the owners.

While Siobhan O'Baoill and Michael Norvichkov went to meet Jeremy Dartmoor (played by A.L. who had quickly changed his outfit and was sitting on the red chair), the other four went to the counter to talk to another werewolf called Andy Curin who was currently tending the bar (played by myself).  Thomas McAllister remained in Obfuscate, whispering questions to Dr. Taylor, Professor Hadley and Talitha Salvatore for them to ask the werewolf.

On the way out they were confronted by Sariah Dartmoor, who demanded they return to the VIP room for further discussions.  There was some kowtowing on behalf of a few vampires, some posturing by a few others, and then the court finally left.

Siobhan lingered to ask Sariah a few more questions, and when she followed the others, a fourth werewolf who was about to enter instead lunged at her, got her in a pin, and demanded to know where Samantha Ehrenstein (their missing human confessor) was.  Siobhan frenzied, there was a standoff, but Talitha's dominate and Seamus' demands caused the werewolf to release Siobhan and chat in their van.

Finally they all got to leave and chat together.  A few PCs remained to talk while the other players headed off in a final meeting, and all in all, it was a good session.

Monday, May 9, 2016

First Ruminations on how Trail of Cthulhu can meet Demon: the Fallen

After musing awhile on how best to integrate Demon: the Fallen with Call of Cthulhu, I've decided that the greatest horror I can give to my players would be to make many of these horrors more personal.  Since the Great Old Ones make great fodder for the new Earthbound (as do Masks of Nyarlathotep), and the War with Heaven led to the construction of many warrior races, I'm figuring what about laying the blame for many of these horrors further at the fallen's feet.

See the horrors of Ithaqua?  Of Cthulhu's Siren Song?  Those are your brethren turned mad.  That is your potential fate.

See the Mi-Go?  That is what some of your people in the Silver Legion made of humanity to make them 'Better' in the war.  Of course, now they have been contacted by the Things Beyond many of them have warped further still.  What of the Deep Ones?  Well, Belial (now Cthulhu) needed a hobby and through dreams and lore they were carved of mortals who walked into the waters well after the Earthbound were re-summoned to Earth.

In this version, however, the Fallen didn't make the universe but the galaxy and God is an entity that sits within the sun.  It consumes sentient thoughts, hope and faith, having been gutted by its brushes with the Things Beyond and having heard the tunes of the Court of Azathoth since the Fallen rose humanity to sentience and thus shook the foundations of reality itself.  God never smote the world in revenge against the Fallen.  It never cursed them out of spite.  Oh no, it simply offered the only real way to keep reality in check.  And when humanity became sentient, reality cracked as the slithering tendrils of the Things Beyond began to roam.  Knowledge is a potentially deadly and corruptive force in the Lovecraftian worlds, after all.

Thus, everything the Fallen ever believed in is a Lie.  They live in a crumbling reality filled with an essential decay which has snaked into their brethren (the Fallen) and slowly warped them in horrifying and maddening ways.  Of course there could be some Great Horror with what God was doing with human souls, perhaps using them to shore up reality itself, but to be honest it's more horrifying if God was simply a compassionless figure who couldn't understand reality but wished to create a place to slumber. 

Then Second World spoken of for the Slayers which was slowly being built by the dead spiritual matter of plants and animals could well become the holding place for human souls, lacking a better option, since humanity contains a spark of the Thing in the Centre of the Sun but were too contaminated by reality to rejoin with it.  Perhaps?  I'm not sure what to do with that.

Naturally Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath and Yog-Sothoth would remain essential principles within the universe rather than sentient entities in their own right because it's simply cooler that way.

And yes, it definitely changes the feeling of Call of Cthulhu, but having allowed my players to become supernatural does that on its own.  So why do it?  Well, I love Demon: the Fallen characters but I love the Call of Cthulhu campaigns and while it changes the setting immensely and the style of horror invoked it doesn't change that these campaigns will still be good and fitting for what I want to do.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dark Before Dawn Session Summary: Freedom From Darkness

IMG_4542The players began this session in the venue’s rather long corridor, clutching their prop stones that were used to vote for the God Machine or the Ghost (or for themselves if they chose not to vote) during the first session.  As they slowly came through the corridor, they discussed their circumstances among themselves and used Obfuscate where necessary to cover any blood stains.  Once they left the corridor, they were described as entering North Terrace from the front doors of the SA Art Gallery.  They also realised when they checked their mobile phones that three months had passed since they were last out and about.  It was now the Autumn Equinox while their last memories were of the Summer Solstice.

There they stood in the central game space, discussing where to go now, and they decided to go to Amity Fine’s nightclub.  I’d already chatted with Amity Fine’s player about The Velvet Nightclub as it seemed a likely option and I’d dressed the main game space accordingly.  I’d also set up a playlist for their arrival.
 
However I wanted to give the PCs a chance to gossip among themselves and witness the strange darkening shadows that pressed around certain sections of the city (namely a chunk of the ring road around the Adelaide CBD) so I set up Amity Fine’s player and two new players whose characters weren’t present thus far to describe what they saw en route as temporary assistant Game Masters.  We used the two side rooms and the main game space to represent the cars and I set up the chairs accordingly.

Amity Fine offered to drive a few of the vampires while the others had to go in taxis (portrayed by the two new players).  One was meant to be an overly exuberant driver who liked to honk the horn, and the other was slightly creepy.  Naturally one of the players decided his PC would walk to the destination instead so he had to wait awhile in the kitchen before being paired with the taxi driver player (once the others had been dropped off) who now played the role of a random drunk here to harass him.

Finally they head into Amity Fine’s nightclub, returning to the main hall as the music goes on, and the players are given a description of the club’s VIP section.  We assign one side room as a private meeting area within the VIP area and the other side room counts as “Everywhere Else” outside the club.  Having three rooms really works out brilliantly as it’s great when people need to split up for more personal (or political) roleplay.

I, as Lead GM, portray Amity Fine’s simpering ghoul for a bit and do a little bit of fetching here and there.  One of the taxi driver players enters the game pretty quickly after their arrival as her actual PC, Guilherma de Miramont, is a local vampire who just happened to not be sucked off into the first session.

The other taxi driver player had to wait a bit, but not too long, as his PC was getting picked up from the docks by Gary Dodd (a PC currently in the game).  I sent the two of them into the “Everywhere Else” room for ten minutes to represent the car ride and give them a chance to chat en route.

I do recommend doing this as small group roleplay really does give people more of a chance to roleplay and get a handle on their characters … just don’t enforce too long a “sitting out period”.  Five to ten minutes does marvellously to sim.
10710788_10202900463701945_4459771252745895977_n
Everyone had a name badge to help people remember.
There was a third PC to be introduced in game whose player wasn’t available until halfway through the game.  That worked out brilliantly as it gave a new injection of excitement just as the game was starting to slow down at the halfway mark.

I enter as an NPC from the first campaign arc called Peter Walsh and haul in a staked vampire that he’d fetched from inter-state.  Staked vampires from other cities certainly cause a bit of a splash and there was some searching of his pockets before unstaking him and later some interrogations in a side room.

Walsh ended up owing a boon to Amity Fine for just dragging in a random staked vampire unannounced.  He also ended up owing another one when the staked vampire (called Thomas McAllister) drank half a bottle of Lacrima without asking (vampire wine, costs around $1000 due to rarity).  An expensive night for the NPC!

There were words exchanged between McAllister and Amity Fine, and finally he was kicked from her club.  That could have been an awkward moment as the player would have nothing to do but as Amity Fine’s player needed to head off early, they all simply went to a different location where he could attend.

Amity Fine ended up in the harpy role that session, too.  Vampires and their love of boons.
Other major events that happened included:

*  Siobhan O’Baoill got drunk on Lacrima after realising that she dumped her fiancĂ© to protect him after her Embrace (she has no memories of the past few years) and despite the other fledglings trying to distract her, she slipped out with Talitha Salvatore and was spotted by a police co-worker.  The trio almost went out through one of the (deadly dangerous) Shadow Walls together in his car when a ghostly image of her sire, Seamus, flashed before her eyes and she grabbed the wheel to swerve them out of the way.  They then went to bust into the old Women’s & Children’s Hospital where Talitha and Siobhan had once been held hostage but their antics were stopped at the door by Seamus’ arrival.  All of this occurred in the “Elsewhere Room.”

*  Jonathon Williams was a ghoul who had been drained to death in the first session and then came back as a Mekhet.  This means he has no sire.  In fact his creation just after his possession by a Strix has left him a creepy Khaibit who has connections to the incorporeal world.  He accidentally manifested some shadows on a few occasions, creeping out the court.

*  I traded notes with people to represent them texting people they knew though most of the vampires from Campaign 1 were incommunicado.

*  Much of the session was taken up with discussions from those with history in the city (i.e. from the first campaign), those who attended the first session and knew about the votes, and those who had newly arrived.

It was a pretty quiet first session (compared to the later sessions) since most of the characters didn’t know each other enough to feud and scheme but it worked out pretty nicely and gave people a good launching point.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Trail of Demonic Cthulhu: Base Demonic Template (edited)

So here's the rules of my new Trail of Cthulhu demons thus far.

Powers

Those fallen who are in possession of bodies will gain far fewer powers than the canonical World of Darkness versions.  Each fallen will gain a single power that has greater versatility, such as pyrokinesis, to encourage the players to think in terms of a defining power rather than a random assortment of magic. 

The Fallen will have an extra ability based on their full demonic form which holds true for all members of their House and two abilities that are unique to their particular purpose and sub-House.  Using their demonic form can draw the attention of local supernatural forces and can sometimes cause them more trouble than its worth.  It costs a point of Faith to use one's revelatory / apocalyptic form but it lasts until the Fallen wills it to end.  So long as they are wearing their apocalyptic form, they may suppress or re-establish their active abilities with a thought.  As an example, they may begin with wings, suppress them to move through a hallway, then unleash them again to fly over a gap.

They may use rituals, much as anyone else, but doing so typically causes their minds to brush the greater cosmos or even channel the power of Earthbound and Outer Gods, which is still stability shaking to them.  They may spend Faith instead of Stability on a 1 for 1 basis when using spells or rituals as part of the activation cost. 

Some things may become normalised to them with exposure and thus after each exposure the possible Stability cap will be reduced by 1 for each independent exposure.  This works twice as quickly for Deep Ones and Zombies which even humans can become inured to (not typical of the game but there are enough examples in the books of people being disturbed by the monsters but no longer falling into hysterics).

They still need to worry about losing sanity as they come to comprehend how the universe truly works - unravelling their human comprehension removes the bulwark of protection against the torments of the abyss, after all.

Base Abilities

When the Fallen die, they can potentially claim new Hosts.  The players have given me the power to simply provide them with a logical host after the first which I'll draw from the Masks of Nyarlathotep companion book or other NPC guides depending on the country they're in and the campaign they're playing.

Fallen heal faster than mortals.  Thus they heal 1 hit point per day without rest, 2 health points per restful day and 3 health points if given medical attention.  They can spend a point of faith to undo an injury (i.e. broken limb or lost finger) or regain health points on a three health points for one faith point basis.  Fallen also won't lose their last health point from bleeding out. 
 
The Fallen can also invoke each other using their celestial name which allows them to converse through whispers from across a field as though they were standing beside each other.  Once can detect this power's use through the Awareness skill.  Mortals can also invoke them with their celestial name but this is a one-way street.
It is a +3 stability cost to witness a demon's apocalyptic form and their reactions will be dependent on the Fallen's overall behaviour toward humanity.  A Fallen Angel who slaughters humanity with relish will provoke terror, while one who seeks to protect humans will typically leave them awestruck and astounded.  The cost will be reduced by one point for every encounter until the third encounter, whereupon the mortal will lose 1 point of sanity but no longer lose stability to gaze upon them as their mind has come to accept them.  After all, they are creatures that helped stabilise reality so they do not appear as "wrong" as most. 

Thralls only take a hit to their Stability the first time they see the Fallen.

Fallen angels may refresh their native faith pool (i.e. equal to their normal Faith rating) through the quiet worship provided by mortals but only if they have recently done something meaningful for that mortal (i.e. save their life, defend them in apocalyptic form, torture them).  This is called 'reaping faith' and it can be performed on a thrall if the situation is right.  Typically they may only do this once per case though exceptional circumstances may allow additional refreshes.
 
Additional Skills
Faith is a General Skill that is capped at 3 for starting characters.  Fallen may gain double their initial rating through pacts (i.e. temporarily increasing it to six) on a one Faith per pact basis.  There may be some occasions where a Fallen needs to roll their Faith rating as a contested pool though typically it is simply spent to perform an action.  Fallen recharge one Faith per day and must reap from mortals (see last paragraph in Base Abilities) or ravage their thralls to regain more (see Pacts below).

Awareness is a General Skill that is used as a sort of sixth sense for the supernatural that can sometimes glean further information, but is typically used as a divining rod for relics and current magical effects.

Eminence is an Investigative / Interpersonal Skill that is used as a sort of Credit Rating skill for the fallen.  There is also a downside in that other Fallen are more likely to remember their names and potentially even syllables of their True Name.

Legacy is an Investigative skill where Fallen may spend points to remember situations and events from before their time in the Abyss.  Most Fallen would have at least one point in this skill.  Typically spends will lead to short flashbacks.

In order to better reflect these skills, I have used a 28 / 75 point system.  Yes, these are a lot of points but in a two-player game with additional skill requirements I don't see this as a major hindrance.

Weaknesses

One can use their True Name to bind them to perform a certain number of actions to fulfil the sorcerer's will.  Earthbound can bind them forever if their True Name is known or even consume their souls should their hosts be broken before one.  Fallen can be banished or abjured against through mortal ritual and certain ritualistically enhanced items affect them more keenly than any mortals. They cannot succumb to mundane disease nor do they age, but they do need to eat, sleep and breathe like any mortal.  Elder Signs are particularly effective repositories of human faith (i.e. psychic energy) as they are already powerful occult matrices.  They don't need to see the Elder Sign, or know it's there, to be affected by it.  On the other hand, they can easily approach should they come across a neglected Elder Sign displayed prominently.

Pacts

The Fallen can make a pact with a mortal in exchange for more Faith.  Each mortal in a pact provides an additional point of temporary Faith but the Fallen may only have as many pacts as their Faith rating.  The Fallen may ravage the mortal for more faith (rolling his own Faith rating to see how much is gained) but this costs the mortal +7 stability and permanently reduces both their current and maximum sanity by two.
 
A mortal (aka thrall) under the effects of a pact ceases to age or be affected by the rigors of age (including rigors currently experienced), and gain three points in an investigative skill and five points in a general skill (may not be Sanity or Stability).  This skill may be Awareness and, indeed, is typically the only way such individuals may obtain that skill.  The Fallen can roll their Faith to sense the mortal's location, no matter where they are.

There is also a once off benefit at the point when the pact is established where the Fallen may either refresh all of the mortal's hit points to full while curing them of a disease or injury, or provide them with apparent youth and beauty, or provide them with 3 sanity points (as they remind humanity of their value in the world) or grant them the use of an apocalyptic form trait known to the master which costs the thrall -2 stability to use.  
The Fallen may also possess the thrall at will should they ever be ejected from their host.  They can also open up their thrall to possession by another, but only if the thrall's current stability or sanity has been reduced to 0 or they are unconscious.