Mage: Out of Darkness

River of Blood
Nanhanni National Park

In game dates: December 29th 2012 to January 12th 2013

“This is a game about saving the world” is the last thing the storyteller says before it all starts. He opens his hand and three spheres of energy streak across the room, embedding themselves in the chests of the players.

As they awaken to the truth of magic with Gnostic awareness, the players also become aware that the room is moving. The walls crack, the roof sags alarmingly and it settles with a crash on the ground somewhere. In all the chaos, the storyteller seemed to disappear.

The players take in their bearings, adjust to the fact that magic is real and that this ‘game’ just went in a whole new direction. Looking outside the window they can see a cold and frozen forest covered in snow.

They immediately take up their shadow names from a previous mage game. Vorpal, Shadow (soon changes to Dimi) and Optimus.

After coming to terms with everything and studying everything in sight with their magesight and knowing effects, they’ve come to several conclusions.

  1. They’re in Canada.
  2. Before they came here, postcognition just shows a black and hungry void.
  3. The room and every object in it is made of scraps of matter held together by an intricate latticework of Tass. It was not created by Atlantean magic.
  4. They have a copy of the main world of darkness rulebooks with them sitting on the table.
  5. It’s winter and freezing cold outside.
  6. There are no active spirits nearby, but the sleeping tree spirits are shaking in terror.

They spend a few days surviving and huddling in the ruins of the room, gathering together their supplies and experimenting with magic. They even go out hunting a few times and manage to bring down a caribou which they figure out how to butcher properly.

Their next hunting trip they stumble upon a butchered wolf hanging from a tree, clearly stripped of meat and the remnants of a campsite. Through post-cognition they see a brief glimpse of several figures around a campfire and a young feral looking man carving the wolf with a bowie knife. They hear scraps of conversation in Spirit tongue (or as they figure out, the werewolf language).

Vorpal summons a moon spirit of the Gibbous moon choir, appeasing it with chiminage by shaving his held and pouring a few small drops of molten silver (from a piece of jewelery in the room) onto his scalp. The chiminage seems to please the spirit, who grants a prophetic vision the next time Vorpal sleeps.

The vision is of a young hispanic woman helping Vorpal onto a sea-plane at a small airstrip. Shortly afterwards they hear a plane fly overhead but by the time they get out to it it’s already flown past. A few hours later though they catch the same plane flying back the other way and signal it with a magically enhanced signal fire.

Using Forces magic Dimi communicates through the pilot’s radio. There’s nowhere for the plane to land, but the pilot says that his four friends are kayaking down the river and should be at that location in a day and can guide them to the airstrip.

They go back to the room and after taking everything useful, Optimus destroys the room and everything in it by dispelling the effect that’s binding it together. They then hike up the river to meet the Kayaking vacationers.

They meet them and discover that they are four college students on vacation from San Francisco. One of them is the hispanic woman from Vorpal’s vision, who introduces herself as Eden. After much scrutiny they determine that the other three are normal people but Eden is a kinfolk. Vorpal tries to bait her by speaking in spirit’s tongue a few times but she pretends not to understand.

Along with the college students they make their way to a ranger’s hut where there should be supplies and a satelite phone to call for help. Instead as they approach the building, one of the college students finds a beartrap hidden in the snow in front of the door instead of a welcome mat. It clamps down on their leg doing a lot of damage.

The PCs let the college students help their friend while they look out for whoever set the trap. One of them hears a sound out in the trees and through scrying sees a feral young woman with a bow approaching the clearing. They shout out in spirit tongue and frighten her off but she screams that “Daddy is going to eat you all”.

The PCs investigate the ranger’s hut, finding the remains of the ranger strung up and butchered. Amidst the gore there is a Rutger Redhawk revolver, it’s handle smeared with poison ivy oil as a further torment of the crazy kinfolk and werewolf who killed the ranger. An antique, barely functional Winchester model 70 is displayed on the mantlepiece as well. They can only find 2 bullets for the rifle and seven for the revolver though.

Eden comes clean about being a kinfolk, speaking privately to the PCs. They figure out together that the werewolf is a Zi’ir, a shattered and crazy werewolf who has lost their soul and connection to the spirit world. Now it’s just a raging monster. Its three children seem to be backing it up as well.

The PCs can hear the werewolf coming back so they send the college students back to the boats while they stand ready to fight. The college students don’t get far though before one of them is lifted into the air by a snare-trap around their ankle, the counterweight knocking off a nest of angry hornets.

A long fight ensues with the PCs victorious and all of the college students saved. One of the kinfolk, the young woman, switched gears mid-fight going from cannibalistic slaughter to an attempt to seduce Vorpal. Resisting her advances, Vorpal never the less spares her and takes her prisoner. Since she seems to lack any proper name they dub her “Aleisha”.

The PCs send the college students on ahead in the kayaks, not knowing how to safely row the rapids. With directions now they hike towards the airstrip, bringing their prisoner with them. She seems overall cooperative though clearly far from sane and balanced.

After many days of exhausting hiking they reach the airstrip. The students have already flown off to get Conrad proper medical care and Eden has flown back on her own to collect the PCs.

They climb aboard the plane, Vorpal taking efforts to follow the vision exactly and begin a long flight from the national park out to the nearest town of Yellowknife.

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Settling In
Yellowknife to Vancouver

In Game Dates: January 12th to January 14th 2013

Eden flies the PCs out of Nanhanni national park down to Yellowknife. After two weeks in the wilderness they’re looking forward to a shower and clean change of clothes. Borrowing money from Eden, they settle into a hotel overnight and enjoy the benefits of civilization.

The next morning Eden flies them down to Vancouver where they plan on staying for a while until they understand the lay of the land in the World of Darkness. They don’t have a lot of money, still relying on the last dregs of Eden’s loan.

Optimus searches for the ley lines of the town and manages to locate a building prominently positioned on a nexus of several with a ley line. Using prime magics he hides his mage aura and walks inside hoping to find out more about the hallow he can sense inside.

The building looks like a fairly cheap and crummy hotel, but the receptionist refuses to let him rent a room claiming that it’s full. He tries to cast a spell to find out more and her reaction instantly changes once she realizes that he’s a mage. She introduces herself as Cynthia and explains that this building contains a Demense and they rent rooms by the hour to mage’s wanting to project into the astral realms.

He says that he’s interested in astral projection but baulks at the $10,000 or 5 tass per hour pricetage. Pretty expensive considering he only has a few dollars in his pocket and no tass at all.

When he says he wants to meet other mages though, Cynthia agrees to help. She asks whether he’s seer or pentacle, but starts laughing when he gets nervous about answering. She explains that the building is considered neutral territory, something that was negotiated at the Scales of Denver.

She arranges for him to meet a Watcher, the title a Sentinel possesses in the Celestial Court of Canada (the local Pentacle government) but warns him that the local pentacle are more Tyrannical than in certain other places.

Optimus meets the watcher Vigil, who is wearing a Vancouver police uniform, and they go to talk privately in a small sideroom in the hotel foyer. Not wanting to admit to the (rather strange and unbelievable) truth of how they came to Canada and learned about magic, Optimus lies and claims to be suffering from amnesia.

Unfortunately the rather paranoid watcher suspects that such a mysterious case of amnesia in a mage is likely to be caused by Mind magic and that Optimus is most likely a programmed manchurian candidate sent by the Seers of the Throne. He’s told not to leave the room and Vigil goes out to call a Magistrate specializing in Mind magic to find the truth.

While alone Optimus quickly rings the other PCs and starts talking strategy, they plan out a lie and Dimi heads over to the hotel to help if necessary.

Dimi gets there in time to see the magistrate, Lucille, a professionally dressed woman as she arrives. They both, with magesight, recognize that the other person is a mage and give each-other a polite nod as they head into the building.

Thinking Dimi is a customer, the two authority figures go to the other side of the room to talk privately and don’t pay much attention until Dimi approaches. He explains who he is and that he’s from Optimus’ cabal then starts to launch into the rehearsed lie.

He’s quickly stopped by the magistrate who tells him “That sounds a lot like the lie your friend planned over the phone” which rather stops Dimi. They admit that the amnesia story was a lie. The authority figures were annoyed over the wasting of their time, but let the matter slide with a warning.

After the magistrate leaves, Vigil remains while they register the Cabal of the White Wolf as part of the Celestial Court of Canada and get Vorpal on the phone so that he can agree to follow the Lex Magica and be registered with the Court as well.

Vigil refuses to introduce them to other mages, claiming that the Court is not a “dating service” but says if they want to be sociable they can go to Charlie’s Dojo where some mages hang out to learn how to defend themselves.

Random Sidetrack that goes nowhere

The PCs, gathered back together decide that they need to make some money. They head down to a bad area in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood planning to make some money by robbing local pimps or drug-dealers. (GM: Don’t ask me, it was their idea)

They go talk to a street-walker, acting generally shifty and she starts looking over towards her protectors, a small gang who are sitting out on the porch of a nearby building smoking and playing cards. They back off from the hooker and talk instead to the gang, where Vorpal relies heavily on having watched The Wire to muster up some Streetwise.

They chat with one of the friendlier gang members who taking them for a smaller independent group says they can work on their territory as long as they pay a cut to their gang. At first the gang-member thinks that they want to pimp out Aleisha, then that they want to sell drugs but finally Vorpal claims that they’re wanting to engage in violent robbery and asks if there’s anyone the gang member wants taken down.

The gang member tells them about two black guys who pimp out a group of streetwalkers a couple of blocks over and inbetween racist slurs he says that one of the men insulted him and he wouldn’t mind if the PCs went and took them down.

The PCs go over to that street and look at the two guys, with some insight from Magesight and various knowing effects figure out that the two are former child-soldiers here as refugees and the PCs decide not to mess with them.

They talk to these two men, seemingly trying to arrange some sort of elaborate con involving them working together to rob some Asian businessmen who want prostitutes for a party. After persuading the two to go along with the (completely fictitious) job though, they leave and never interact with them again.

End of completely random sidetrack

The PCs having given up on street crime as a method of obtaining money, scrape together their remaining funds (about $80) and head over to the casino planning on using their magic to win at gambling.

Not surprisingly Optimus’ fate and time magic is the most effective at winning games of chance. Dimi tries to manipulate some gambling machines with Forces magic, but a botched roll results in the machine continuously winning and draws some attention before the management shut those machines down. Eventually Vorpal and Dimi enter a poker tournament together under the logic that one of them should win. Vorpal reads people’s auras with mind magic while Dimi scries over people’s shoulders with spaces to see their cards.

They’re winning and manage to turn their $80 into about 2 grand but a croupier tells Vorpal that the manager has asked to see him in his office. Vorpal agrees and goes in to see him.

The manager introduces himself as Chance and explains that he’s with the Panopticon and would like to offer them a job working for the Seers. They’ve observed that there’s no great affection between the Cabal of the White Wolf and the local pentacle orders.

Vorpal doesn’t say yes or no, but says they’ve got nothing against the Seers which Chance takes as a good sign. He gives them an envelope full of money and offers them a complimentary suite at the casino’s hotel overnight while they think it over.

They stay the night and discuss the offer, assuming that the room is bugged but that there’s no point to any false pretenses. They decide that they’re not particularly interested in going with either Seers or Pentacles full-time but wouldn’t mind doing one off jobs for either of them as long as it wasn’t against the other group.

In the morning Chance comes to see them, admitting openly that the room was bugged by answering a question that Dimi had brought up in the night. Dimi had said that he wanted to know more about the Seer’s philosophy and what they wanted to achieve.

Chance told them why the Seers are awesome and working for the Exarchs is a great career move. Then explains that he’s leaving town for a few weeks but looks forward to talking to them again.

With that done the session was over.

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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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