Mage: Out of Darkness

Passion Play

Vancouver to Silvertown

In game dates: January 15th to January 22nd 2013

This adventure was (very) loosely based on the Dust to Dust adventure in WOD: Ghost Stories.

The PCs read the journal of the monster hunter, and amidst stories of strange creatures and encounters in Canada discover where the bullets came from. The hunter while traveling came across a small ruined town near the base of Mt Winthrop (note: This is an invented town and does not exist in the real world). The town had a large mass-grave and the only unburied person was the corpse of the town’s sheriff, dead with a pistol in hand and a gunshot wound to the head. The hunter, unable to find any explanation in town had taken the gun and the sheriff’s silver bullets to use against werewolves.

The PCs figure out how to get out to the site, but it’ll be difficult as it’s legitimately in the middle of nowhere. They buy some off-road dirt bikes with the money from Chance and after practicing how to ride them down at a track, head down the Crowsnest highway to the mouth of the valley that the town is set in. After several hours of difficult off-road travel they make it to where the town should be.

When the PCs climb the small ridge to get into the town, they’re surprised to see the town whole and intact and Alycia isn’t with them anymore. A figure sitting atop a rock points a rifle at them and calls down for them to put their hands up. The PCs do and announce that they’re travelers coming through and mean no harm. The villager quickly relaxes and introduces himself to them as Lem, one of the hunters (deer, not monsters) within Silvertown.

The PCs go into town and meet with the locals, quickly establishing:

  1. Everyone in the town believes it to be the year 1909.
  2. Silvertown is a prosperous little mining town, but far enough away to be cut off from the rest of the world.
  3. Things are peaceful here (for now).

With some more magical investigation they discover that:

  1. They haven’t actually traveled through time although there are some strange wrinkles and folds to time around them.
  2. Everyone in town is dead but some sort of phantasm is rebuilding the town and disguising the inhabitants. Forensic gaze on a few people reveals that they died from either a gunshot wound to the head or smallpox.
  3. There’s a hallow beneath the ground.

They meet a few of the townsfolk, in particular the mayor and sheriff but find very little unusual until they discover that a “scientist” named Sparrow is living in the town. The name strikes them as being a Shadow Name so they go to talk to the man and discover that he is a mage. He admits to being here to study the hallow, believing that as tectonic drift moves the plate of the earth the hallow is remaining stationary creating the long vein of native silver in the earth nearby.

The PCs tell Sparrow everything although he remains skeptical that everyone in the town is dead since his own Death magic can’t target them. When they check him with Forensic Gaze they see that he died from a paradox backlash.

He admits to planning to persuade the townsfolk to dig down to the hallow so that he can access it. He wants to trick them by using matter magic to hide the silver and convince them that the vein has run dry. The PCs come up with a different plan and use their own magic to extend the mine and dig to the hallow. When they step inside though they see a skeleton lying inside the hallow.

Suddenly they find themselves on the outskirts of town again, confronted by the hunter with the rifle. They replay much of the initial contact groundhog-day style, but stop to talk about things before meeting with the prominent citizens of the town.

Frustrated by the events, Optimus decides to invent a new spell based on Shield of Chronos to shield himself from the strange time-wrinkles they’re immersed in. He succeeds in creating the Imago and to the other two characters seems to vanish completely from view. He discovers that he is in the midst of a giant bank of fog, he can see the shapes of buildings and people as faint flickers and shadows within the fog. He tries to track his own footsteps through a combination of space and time magic, it works and leads him to the edge of the fog.

Stepping outside of the fog he finds himself in a massive cavern with pits of lava nearby, the fog still roils behind him. He ventures back in, dropping his time shield and reappearing back in the silver town simulacrum. He explains what he saw to the others, and although he can’t manage to cast his spell on anyone else, they decide to walk to the edge of town and see what happens.

When the PCs leave town they all find themselves stepping out of the fog into the cavern. Vorpal theorizes that they have somehow made their way into the underworld, to test the theory he summons the nearest ghost and a lost looking shade (quite solid) walks into the cavern. She is very scattered mentally, but with questioning turns out to be Bridgette apparently the ghost of a murderess from 19th century Boston. Her confusion fades only when she starts talking about the murder of her abusive husband when her voice takes on a complete clarity and edge of excitement.

They leave the creepy ghost and underworld behind and step back into the ghost town, determined to figure out what is going on. They figure that time reset itself when Sparrow saw his own corpse so they try the same things again but this time tell Sparrow that he can’t come down into the Hallow. He’s insistent and so Vorpal threatens him with one of their guns (for which they don’t have any ammo so it’s unloaded). Sparrow lashes out with an abyssal tainted spell, striking Vorpal in the shoulder and dealing aggravated damage.

As everyone is preparing to react to this, time restarts again and they find themselves at the start of the town once more. They play through several more iterations of the events, trying a few different things and investigating around town. When they question Sparrow again he doesn’t seem to be a Scelesti and despite a strongly arrogant streak doesn’t actually seem evil.

They enter the Hallow alone, without Sparrow and Optimus uses postcognition to view the past. He sees an alive Sparrow with a nasty bruise on his head buried in the bottom of the Hallow, a cave-in sealing him in. He angrily shouts out at “Clement” (the Sheriff’s name) but with no answer. He calls on vulgar Matter spells to try to remove the collapsed rocks but seems to be struggling with it, paradox ravaging his body. There’s an ominous occult whisper and Sparrow responds demanding more power, he casts another spell and collapses dead from a massive paradox backlash.

Another postcognition in the town-square shows a brief glimpse of an angry looking miner running at Sparrow with a pick and being struck down by a Death spell from Sparrow.

They’re getting a lot of the puzzle-pieces but aren’t sure how to fit them together, so they decide to question the one person in town they haven’t spoken to… the town priest. They’ve reasoned out a timeline of events.

  1. Sparrow fakes the mine running dry and persuades the townsfolk to dig down to the hallow.
  2. The rock around the hallow is fairly fragile and collapsed on the miners as they dug killing many of the townsfolk.
  3. Sparrow is blamed and gets attacked by an angry miner defending himself with magic.
  4. The Sheriff manages to take Sparrow down and puts him in the shaft, collapsing the mine again leaving him to die.
  5. Sparrow calls up more and more vulgar magic, is tainted himself by some abyssal temptation and corrupts the hallow.
  6. The whole town dies of disease from the tainted hallow with the sheriff giving some of the infected “mercy-killings”
  7. The corrupted hallow collapses down into the underworld. Where everything replays over and over again.

They’re surprised when they meet the priest and see that he looks exactly like their storyteller. He doesn’t react at all to the hints they drop about the storyteller and acts like he’s just an early 20th century priest. Scrutiny shows that a fine latticework of Prime has been woven through his pattern, it seems to be the same non-atlantean magic that constructed the building they materialized into the World of Darkness in. Their best guess from Scrutiny is that the ghostly phantasm has somehow been “Hacked” with this magic to alter its appearance.

They talk to him about the hypothetical scenario of a witch in town. The priest claims to not believe in magic or witchcraft and to be a progressive man of science and faith. They talk a bit about Sparrow and discuss his personality. The priest then says something that strikes Optimus’ Sybil’s sight as significant. “It all comes down to sin and redemption”.

The PCs figure that this whole simulated town is tied in with Sparrow’s vice of Pride and that they need to figure out what his virtue is to escape. They discuss with the priest and learn that when the whole town was going to give up during a harsh winter, Sparrow was the one who encouraged and motivated everyone to stay and protect the town that they’d built. They decide that his virtue must be Hope.

They visit Sparrow for the last time and persuade him that rather than tricking the town, he should try to motivate them to willingly participate in his scientific research. He agrees and the town starts fading away, turning back into the ruins it should have been. The PCs find themselves back in the modern time fallen world. Time magic confirms that nothing in the past actually changed, but the souls and suffering trapped in the town seem to have been cleared washing the hallow clean and getting the ley-lines moving again.

The hallow is weaker than it was before but the corruption seems entirely gone and nearby twilight and shadow seem scoured as though by a flash flood of the energies unleashed. The PCs contact Measure, telling him that they’ve cleansed an Abyssal-tainted hallow and that they wish to officially claim it for the White Wolf. They discover that their twisted passage through time in the underworld has taken about six days in real-time.

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MichaelK

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