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[Actual Play] Mage: The Awakening - The Broken Diamond (contains Reign of the Exarchs

DaveB

No regrets
Validated User
Washington DC - The Broken Diamond. Designed by a freemason, riddled with murder and drugs, more concentrated power per square mile than almost anywhere else in the world. Under constant pressure from people and.. things.. that try with varying degrees of success to influence it's decision-making for their own ends. With all the damage one creature of the night with mental influence could do in a lobby, or in the White House, there's a high-stakes game of peace-through-mutually assured destruction, where Mages live under paranoid lines of behaviour. The Dichotomy between the Avenues of Power and the parts of the city that people actually live in, worse in the World of Darkness than it is in the real world, has created two City-father spirits - if two cities exist in the same space, which one is real? The effect the city's plan has on the resonance of it's leys is too strong to be coincidental - should it be encouraged and perfected or broken open like the cage it might be? When the practices of the Pentacle mages - forced by their circumstances to wipe memories, control minds and infiltrate the corridors of power to prevent their use by others - approach those of the Seers, is there any difference between the two sides? When you use the tools of the Exarchs, are you any better than a Seer?

Order and Chaos. Liberty and Control. The use of Power.

The man trying to perfect himself as an example to others, finding enlightenment in serving others.

The one-eyed man in the labyrinth of the blind, breaking rules and comitting sins in his search for something precious.

The woman finding herself by destroying herself, ripping lives apart in a search for something real.

--------------------

The world needs another Awakening Actual Play, I think - specifically one covering the things that I don't think I've seen addressed anywhere. I'm that small-press-game-running-guy - I've AP'ed A|State, Everway, Deliria and (still ongoing) Primetime Adventures. None of them are exactly mainstream - so why Mage?

I'm a Mage junkie, and have been since the release of Mage: the Ascension. I own every book published for Ascension - two feet of purple, bar a couple of inches of weird sparkly covers for the First and secon dedition Tradition books. I even have the novels. I was involved in either running or playing the game for six and a bit years up until well after the Time of Judgement. I could explain the metaplot to people, for christ's sake.

So why's it taken a year to start my own Awakening Chronicle?

I was waiting for optimal conditions. My group contained several Mage-sceptics, and I had the luxury of time. Now that my group consists of people who *are* up for it, now that Awakening is a year old and I have the benefit of seeing how's it's developed in the (excellent) supplements, most importantly now that there's space between me and Ascension, I'm ready.

The thing I've not seen addressed in the NWoD actual plays so far is this - how do you go from running an Old WoD game to running it's successor? Do Forsaken Storytellers have a hard time grasping the feel of the new game, or do they find themselves sliding back to Apocalypse? What makes Awakening *different* to Ascension - what is a good Awakening story as opposed to a good Ascension story, where do they overlap and where do they differ? It's taken me a *year* to get to the point where I'm confident enough to run Awakening - and even then, as we'll see, it took until the second session for Awakening to "click".

Fortunately, it clicked hard.

My position on the eternal flamewar is thus - look, I loved Ascension too, it served me well - but I *already own it*. If I'm going to run Awakening, I'm going to run it with Atlantis, the Exarchs, the Seers, the Pentacle, the Western symbology and all. I'm going to learn to love it like it's elder cousin, and find something that interests me in it's themes, not try to force the themes I've been playing with for years onto it.

SPOILER WARNING

As it says in the title, There be spoilers for Reign of the Exarchs in here. I bought the book after running the second session of this chronicle, and have decided to incoporate it into Broken Diamond - changing huge chunks of it to make it fit inwith the chronicle I already had, but not that much, as the theme of the book was already the main question of my own chronicle. With that in mind, people likely to play RotE at any point would be well to be warned. I'll put spoiler warnings before each story in this thread that's run based on the book as well, but as I'm a plot foreshadowing kind of guy, there wil be snippets and bits of runup throughout the thread.

People liable to run it, or people who wrote it (and you know you're on RPG.net) - consider this the biggest playtest review ever.

However, because my players have been banned from reading RotE for the obvious reason, I would ask that anyone posting to the thread about a RotE event that hasn't happened yet in the narrative of the thread spoiler tag their post. It is my hope that my players won't be able to tell the difference between the RotE elements of the plot and my own - they're all twisted up in one another, but if you spot one and want to talk about it *please* tag the entire post, and don't do something like - say - write "about NPC X
Spoiler: Show
she's from adventure two, isn't she?
", because that tips them off as to what's Reign and what's not.

And players o mine - if you subscribe to the thread, don't choose to have notifications, because they don't black out spoiler text.

Last thing - Black Hatt Matt, if you read this, I am *so* glad your player decided to go back to the original shadow name. Because one of mine coincidentally named her character "Kali". And it IS hard to type, isn't it?
 
Last edited:

ssheftall

Retired User
Re: [Actual Play] Mage: The Awakening - The Broken Diamond (contains Reign of the Exa

Oh, man Dave B and MTA...damn this is gonna be good! :)

-S.
 

Christian A

Wyrm no more
Validated User
Re: [Actual Play] Mage: The Awakening - The Broken Diamond (contains Reign of the Exa

I'll be keeping an eye on this thread. :)
 

DaveB

No regrets
Validated User
Re: [Actual Play] Mage: The Awakening - The Broken Diamond (contains Reign of the Exa

Thanks for your support!

Themes

These are the parts of Mage: The Awakening that I'm consciously emphasising, because they spoke something to me, because they're maybe different to Ascension and because they fit the setting.

Masks and Identity Crisis
I like to explore matters of self-identity in my games (see.. pretty much every actual play I've done - especially Malekin's story in Deliria and... the entire of the Everway thread, really) based on a fascination with Phillip K Dick-like "what is real?" stories and a certain amount of Real-life musing on the nature of reality during my growing years. I've had characters have their personalities altered by magic and the other characters have to debate whether the new personality is a person that they'd be killing by restoring their friends. I've had deathlords in Exalted turn out to be the ghosts of the first-age selves of PCs. I've run two successful campaigns based on amnesia (the second of which is my Everway thread here).

Mage: The Awakening is as a gift to my sort of GM, and it's for this reason;

"What does it mean?"
"That the Matrix cannot tell you who you are"
"But an Oracle can?"
"That's different"

"What's your name boy?"
"John"
"What's your real name, John?"
"Pyro"

I'm talking about Shadow names. For me, and in this game, the taking of a Shadow name isn't something you do to make it harder for other people to cast magic on you - though that's a big ancillary benefit. Consider - the entire world is the gnostic prison of the Exarchs. Your identity - your real identity - is the prison-tag they gave you. Shadow identities are like the rebel's callsigns in the Matrix - based on their own particular subculture, but taken as a badge of rebellion. The false identity you construct for yourself as a mage is who you are, not who they intended you to be. And when that magic's gone - when they call you by your slave name - your ass is theirs.

Seers of the Throne in my game tend to do the "Mr Anderson" whenever they can.

But it goes further than that. You can't just change your name to "Lord Thraxnor" or something and call yourself Supernal. It requires a big change, a directed alteration of your life. When Banneker, the Heirarch of Washington DC in my setting, goes home to his wife and kids he is not Banneker any more - his Fallen identity is not his Supernal identity, and he keeps them rigerously seperate. His body language is different, he speaks differently. If he had enough grasp of the Life Arcana he'd *look* different. For Mages without dependents it's easier - they can live their Supernal lives nearer to 24/7. Even those Mages that require careers and mortgages in my interpretation don't use their real names - they have their Supernal identity, a second false identity that they use for dealing with the Fallen World and then, buried deep somewhere inside, the real life they hide from everyone.

The player characters all fit this to a T, as we'll see - Kali and Damascus are both motivated by trying to change themselves into what they consider their supernal selves to be ("good" in Damascus' case, "bad" in Kali's, morally), while Wolsey is both damaged by fallout from his Fallen life *and* a man of many guises and masks, with a different name on every business card and identities like a puzzlebox.

Liberty vs Control

"What Truth?"
"That you are a slave, Neo. born into bondage in a prison you can neither see nor touch"

It's in this matter that I think Awakening is superior to Ascension. Ascension, in it's later years, tried to recast the conflict between the Traditions and the Technocracy as being one of Liberty vs Control rather than Magic vs Science, but it was a case of one development too late and still buried beneath the *trappings* of the surface conflict. Awakening has no such considerations - the Exarchs and their willing servants use the same powers as the Oracles and their followers in the Pentacle orders, the Seers of the Throne look awfully like the Guardians of the Veil crossed with the Silver Ladder (as our Silver Ladder character has pointed out) when you really look at them. It really is just down to the fact that the Exarchs control the world. There's no "they use science" crutch to distract from the struggle against the archons of the world.

Awakening is a Gnostic game, and for me it's horror comes from that - you are in a world that your enemies run, and everything inside it - including you - can be altered by them on a whim. Mages are ants that know they're in an ant farm.

Fighting Fire with Fire - using the enemy's methods

The "Big Four" cabals of Pentacle Mages in my setting are driven by their reactions to two elements of the background, which I'll explain at more length later: DC was designed by a freemason as a very particular grid that somewhat worryingly resembles a kabbalistic mandala, and as the city's grown it's had more and more.. symbology.. built into it. Symbology that has an effect, resonance-wise - the government areas, the mall and the other parts of this "grid have detectably more orderly resonance than the rest of the city, which is a hellhole exagerrated from the real DC's crime-ridden backstreets. One of the city's "ruling" cabals is dedicated to perfecting the grid, which they think was inspired by the mortal architect's run-in with an Astral vision of Atlantis. Another is dedicated to preventing supernatural influence on American politics wherever they can - watching for and stopping vampires, seers and even pentacle mages wherever they can.

Both of them are using the methods of the Exarchs. Controlling a human population by geomantic means? Actively working to prevent supernaturals from changing the world? Their *motives* are good, sure. But what, exactly, seperates them from the Seers?

Everybody Lies
There's a paradox inherent in Awakening's setup - and I love impossible quandries like this. Mages are driven by their search for Truth. In their Awakening, they see the Exarch's lie for what it is.

Pity, then, that Mages seem incapable of being straight with one another.

The Orders all lie to one another, and to their members. Elder mages lie to their youngers, who all lie right back at them. Mages - to an individual - live carefully constructed false lives. If you've read Secrets of the Ruined Temple, you know how there are dozens of contradictory Atlantis stories. The Guardians of the Veil painstakingly build recursive dolls-nests of consipiricies and occult "secrets" for the unwary to become lost in. The Silver ladder decides on it's own sweet time when you're enlightened enough to be told what's really going on - and when you progress beyond that, you'll find out that they were lying the second time too.

Being a Mage is a quest for truth in a world where everyone - including your own damn self - is constantly practicing the art of misdirection, desperately safeguarding their own secrets.

Morals are for Mortals.. or maybe not
"We make the Vampires look like boy scouts" - Beckett, session 3

There's a bit at the end of Ascension (the novel, not the game supplement, that finished M:TAsc's metaplot) in which the world ends during the time of judgement and everyone and everything is reduced to it's component spheres. All the mages Ascend, become aware of the full span of the lives of all human beings. The Ascension war stops, and the last thing they all do - Technocrats, Orphans and Traditions alike - is heartfealtly congratulate one another for their efforts to better humanity. It was hopeful, optimistic - it felt appropriate as an ending to a game where everyone is trying to better the lot of humanity, but are fighting over how to do it.

Wouldn't happen in Awakening, beyond the obvious reasons. Because Mages in Awakening? They're bastards.

The path to ascension in Awakening (and it's odd that the game that isn't named after the concept has the clearer view of what it means, and seems - to me at least - as being a game in which it could happen more realistically) is a deeply personal one. Mages in Ascension lose their individual hangups as they progress, realising their paradigms don't matter. Mages in Awakening *gain* something akin to a paradigm as their soul evolves along a Legacy. It's the other way around.

Because the path is so personal, because they have empirical proof that it's themselves they need to worry about and not anyone else, because they're used to living under the shadow of jealously guarding who they are from friends and co-workers for fear of someone getting an advantage... Awakening Mages are an awful lot more narcissistic. Selfish fucks were the bad apples of Ascension, but they're the operating standard of Awakening - everyone is out for number one.

Similarly, it's a lot easier - in a game which has a Morality mechanic - to handle stories about the slide of a Mage's morality. Hubris IS one of the main points of the game, after all. Of the player characters, Kali is deliberately becoming a less "moral" person (and suffering the wisdom loss for it), because she's aiming for a level of society which she believes to be more real. Wolsey lies to and uses anyone that gets in his way, and can countenance selling out just-won allies to their mutual enemies in order to buy a momentary advantage.

Atlantis and Alchemy
I like Atlantis. There, I said it. I never had a problem with it in the Corebook, simply because it just made me think of Mage as a world in which Graham Hancock was right all along and in which I could, if so inclined, adapt Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. What could be wrong with that?

I was *so* glad when I got Secrets of the Ruined Temple.

In any case, the lost city looms large - DC is suspected in the chronicle of being a partial copy of Atlantis and the plot threads from Reign of the Exarchs touch on the battle against the false gods of reality. But it's not the only part of the "generic western" trappings of Awakening that have seen use.

Because I like the feel of Awakening's magic.

I am having great fun putting Masks, Cups, Pentacles, Coins, Wands and Swords into the chronicle in unusual places. DC's geography, with important sites laid out on cardinal directions, helps.

I describe the world under Mage sight as having elements of the Supernal Realm of the arcana being investigated - inspired by the movie version of Constantine, Mages using Mage sight have an unsettling time of it.

Paranoia
"...which means anyone still connected to their system is potentially an agent."

Everyone's out to get you. The other four orders, your own superiors, your own inferiors. And then there are the enemy. Mages are undercover in an espionage war they can never win, constantly looking over their shoulders and second-guessing themselves. This is present in the game as presented, but I've kicked it up a notch - the Seers in my setting have more than one Profane Urim, and they're not afraid to use them.

When Wolsey, in session two, informs the others they can't use the restaurant they've met at twice again for fear of building up a pattern others can use against them, I knew I'd hit the right note. :)




And that finishes that off. Next post - the City, and as much of the npc mages as the players are aware of.
 

DaveB

No regrets
Validated User
Re: [Actual Play] Mage: The Awakening - The Broken Diamond (contains Reign of the Exa

Overview of the City

DC does not have the very best of histories - a diamond-shaped (originally, there's a chunk missing of it's border after Virginia took it's portion back, hence "broken diamond") lump of swampland that no-one wanted, set aside so that no one state would have the capital city within it's borders. A grand plan by a french military engineer for the layout of the city was delayed through lack of funds while the city turned into a cesspit - when it *was* put into action, the distance between the grand design and the reality was laughable. What's important for our purposes is the effect that Design - and the parts of the city that follow it - has on the local resonance, both inclining the areas covered by the "Grid" of traced lines towards orderliness and doing the reverse to the spaces inbetween.

DC in the World of Darkness is worse off than in the real world - the real DC has racial divisions, huge areas of poverty and became the murder capital of the US in the 70s. The World of Darkness' DC still is - the areas off the grid are still suffering the aftereffects of riots that went on longer and harder than in our world, the Control Board never gave up power back to a mayor and the residents of the district still don't have the vote (which they only got in the 60s in our world). In contrast, the "grid" areas are under heavy lock and key, with even more armed police surrounding even more lobbyists and beaurocrats. The WoD DC is more ghettoised, more violent, more partisan and much more judgemental - a grid of imposed order on a semi-permenant lawless hellhole. Without the residents being franschised, there's no reason for the WoD's politicians to spend money on them - the overwhelming majority of DC's funding goes into the Grid areas both subconciously (on the part of sleepers) and, tragically, by the design of one of the city's cabals.

The geomantic pressure exerted on the city by the collected power of it's monuments, public buildings and avenues is constant, unyielding and entirely artificial - like a tracery of pins holding it down in an unnatural shape. The pressure "releases" in the areas not covered by the grid - a weak gauntlet is worryingly common, and things creep into the dark corners of the city from the Twilight, the Shadow and the Abyss. The nature of the city - grandiose capital city overlaid on, coexisting within and cotemperous with a resentful, ignored, almost-imprisoned and poverty-strikken town - has meant that no one City Father has formed - "Washington" and "DC" both have their own City Fathers, and the Shadowlands are locked in a frenzy as the two spiritual ecosystems clash.

Into this come the Mages, of the Pentacle Orders and the Seers of the Throne, with numerous independents and a worrying number of Banishers lurking on the edges. Mages - and other creatures of the night - come to DC from all over the world, looking to gain power and influence, and those already resident have to work hard to keep their own control. Control of the Capital City of the world's Superpower is a prize worth fighting over - covertly, of course: The two main "sides" both agree that the spiritual chaos of the city's shadow should be contained, and that incautious outsiders should not be allowed to meddle with politics. They disagree on who should be the gatekeeping. The Pentacle mages of the city are faced with a City under unnatural stresses, a larger than normal Seer population (with a Ministry rumoured to be based in the city) looking to exterminate them and the unhappy prospect of preventing any of their fellow Pentacle mages from shifting the delicate balances of power too far - by any means neccessary. Much effort is expended to go nowhere, all the sides in all the debates aware that if they stop struggling as hard as the others they will find the city has no room for them.

The dichotomy of the city is interpreted according to Mage's individual prejudices - a sizeable portion of the Awakened believe that Washington DC is clearly in the process of merging with it's own Supernal self, held back by it's Fallen aspect. The difference of opinion among these is over which city is Supernal, and which is Fallen. Others believe that both cities are equally valid, and that the false divisions require healing.

Three of the main cabals of the city's consilium are divided up along that axis - the pro-grid, anti-grid and "unficiation" Cabals. Another is dedicated to the messy business of preventing interference in mortal affairs on a grand scale. The last major Pentacle cabal - and the largest - is based less on DC as a physical or supernal *place*, but as a setting for events - chronciclers of history-in-the-making, students of both populations, they think that the geomantic argument is worthless until the nature of the grid is fully understood.

Power-wise, the Hierarch of the city (a Silver Ladder mage) is the least potent, in terms of personal ability, of the City's Masters - he owes his position to careful negotiation, the disinterest of two of his peers and a deal done with the last - the head of the Gatekeeper Cabal and the senior Guardian of the Vale in DC - to allow that individual and his followers great leniancy in pursuing their mission. That the Heirarch is in this situation is a result of the deadlock - the Silver Ladder's traditional allies in the Adamantine Arrow are predominantly in the Cabal directly opposed to the Hierarch's, so he's had to seek other friends.

The Consilium, painfully aware of the power struggle within itself and the constant cold war against the Seers, issues the following advice to new Mages - adapted from an apocryphal list of advice told to CIA agents about to be sent to Moscow.

* Assume nothing.
* Murphy is right.
* Never go against your gut; it is your operational antenna.
* Don't look back; you are never completely alone.
* Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
* Go with the flow, blend in.
* Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
* Any operation can be aborted. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.
* Maintain a natural pace.
* Lull them into a sense of complacency.
* Build in opportunity, but use it sparingly.
* Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
* Don't harass the opposition.
* There is no limit to a human being's ability to rationalize the truth.
* Magic will always let you down.
* Pick the time and place for action.
* Keep your options open.
* Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.

In an effort to build up his powerbase despite his precarious position, the Hierarch has a habit of poaching new apprentices for himself - he declared long ago that the placement of newly awakened mages would be at the discretion of himself, and coincidentally declared his own cabal as the one that fostered all but a few of the younger mages in the city. He has been forced to abandon this policy after protest from the other Councillers escalated, but has put a vengeful twist on his giving in - the populations of the city's cabals are fixed. New mages will be trained by the city's Prefects, and then formed into a new Cabal, with another Cabal being created every ten years. In this way, those protesting get what they said they wanted, but not what they actually wanted. And he still gets to try to win the new Cabal over to his own point of view, same as everyone else.

And it's with the formation of the first of these graduating cabals that the chronicle starts.

Cabals, Legacies and People the characters have met at time of posting.

The Bringers of the Utopian Design ("Utopians") - Silver Ladder and Mysterium mages who believe that L'Enfant (the sleeper architect who saw DC in a dream) was influenced by the Oracles but that the combination of L'Enfant's mortal memory and interpretation, combined with the city not following the plan exactly enough, has left flaws in the design that create the "sinkhole" areas. The Utopians are dedicated to figuring out what the missing parts of the design are and correcting those mistakes - their members are architects, city planners and stockbrokers (for funding) in their day jobs, and experienced geomancers when acting as Mages. Their leader is a Silver Ladder Obrimos named Banneker, an architect and the Heirarch of the city's consilium. Banneker has evolved his soul into a Legacy based around geomancy and the careful design of buildings, blocks and whole cities to channel resonance, which he has taught to a few of his followers.

The Seekers of One Soul ("City Souls") - Silver Ladder and Mysterium mages who take the middle ground in the geomantic argument and believe that the two facets of the city must be united and the pressures dispelled by homogonising the society of DC. The majority of the Cabal's members take the tactic of working in the Shadow first - thinking that by halting the war of the spirits, they can cure the wounded soul of the city. Others work socially, breaking down the barriers between the grid and the rest, and seeking to reconcile the destructive energies in most of the city with the more "civilised" regions. The Cabal boasts two members of the Claviclarius Legacy, one of whom - Suleiman, a Mysterium Mastigos, is the Counciller for the Cabal.

The Defenders of the Forgotten ("Defenders") - a cabal of Adamantine Arrow and Free Council Mages (with one Guardian of the Veil) based in, and dedicated to, the overwhelming majority of DC's population - the forgotten mass of people who live off the grid, preyed on by predators of an urban and supernatural nature. The Defenders fight off demons, drive out possessions, slay Vampires and argue that the Grid is the cause of their problems to unfeeling ears. Their Counciller is a Free Council Moros (of the Bokor legacy) named Dantor, though they have a Perfected Adept, a Claviclarius and a Bearer of the Eternal Voice. The members of the Cabal our characters have met are Bedlam, a Claviclarius who despite being institutionalised with a mental illness watches out for anything preying on his fellow patients, and Ulysses, a Catholic priest, Dantor's Prefect and the mentor of one of our characters.

The Recorders of Living History ("Recorders) are the largest Cabal in the city, mostly Mysterium and Free Council with one Guardian mage and one Silver Ladder mage. They are the main seat of the House of Ariadne Legacy, though that Legacy (from Legacies: the Sublime. Think Walkers in Mists but urban-oriented) has members dotted around the other Cabals too. Their leader - and Counciller - is Samuel, the most powerful Pentacle mage in the city, Acanthus Free Counciller and the leader of the House. Samuel is a temporal voyer - he spends his days establishing temporal sympathy with eyewitnesses to important events in history and then projecting his conciousness backward and riding in that person's senses while the scene plays out. His prefect is an Acanthus Mystagogue named Blaise, who studies the flow of tourists around the important sites of te city's mall like water on a prayer wheel. He's the inconstant mentor of another of our characters.

Project Twilight Is the mysterious all-Guardian of the Vale Cabal based in the intelligence community of DC - the CIA, NSA and FBI.

The Gatekeepers are the predominantly Guardian of the Vale Cabal dedicated to spotting - and stopping - interference in US politics by supernaturals. They contain a number of Bearers of the Eternal Voice, who use their attainments giving power over people's perception of truth to undo damage and preemptivly strike against troublemakers. Their leader is the Mastigos Guardian (and Bearer) Malakii, who has gained the ability to alter memory through an attainment - and free of his Order's rules about use of memory-wiping magic and it's vulgarity (because attainments aren't supernal magic), he feels justified in using this ability against anyone he likes. Other members of the Cabal are Mr Thursday, the City's Interfector, and Mara, Malakii's student and Prefect and the third of our characters' mentors.

Aside from a number of Cabal-less Mages (one of whom is the fifth Counciller), the last Cabal are the

Children of the Book, based in and around the University of Maryland (which is technically not inside DC, being sitied in one of it's suburbs outside of the diamond border). Their leader - and the fifth Prefect - is an Adamantine Arrow Thyrus Perfected Adept named Marathon.

Next post - the Player Characters
 

DaveB

No regrets
Validated User
Re: [Actual Play] Mage: The Awakening - The Broken Diamond (contains Reign of the Exa

The Player Characters

These notes will be short, as I haven't had the written background syet. I'll post em when I've got em.

Characters are recorded as of the end of the third session - they started with a bonus of Arcane XP, and got the xp for the first three sessions at the end of the third.

Wolsey
The Constant Mastigos

Thomas Dean was - and is - a political power broker and deal-fixer, a man who could get people elected - or not arrested - with a handshake, who could negotitate... difficulties.. with ease and who always had the knack of making people believe he was sincere. He was also, along with his wife Amanda, heavily involved in the Occult as a means of furthering his ambitions - if there were a society, a sworn brotherhood or an after-hours social gathering going, he was going to be part of it even if they did wear strange outfits. The cult the couple found themselves most involved in in their native Massacusists was very liberal and leftist, but had links with other, more serious organisations. Wolsey now thinks of it as being like a gateway drug, that captured Amanda and didn't let go.

One day, Thomas' wife disappeared, and Thomas himself Awakened. Caught up in the chaos of his awakening as a Mastigos, he didn't realise that his wife's vanishing had nothign to do with his visit to Pandemonium until she was long gone, and he balanced his initial training with trying to figure out where she went and why. Discovering that one of the cults his had links to involved the shedding of one's old life, he came to the conclusion that Amanda must have joined it and decided to move to DC - where that cult was based - to seek her. Introducing himself to a *third* cult, also DC-based, by taking the role of a guest speaker they were expecting, he is working his way through the Labyrinth of the city, looking for signs of his love.

Wolsey has named himself after Henry the Eighth's Cardinal and Power broker - a man behind kings, who fell to his own hubris and ceasing to be useful to his monarch. He takes great issue with the Guardians of the Vale, rightly recognising the organisiation he awoke in as being part of their Labyrinth, designed to *stop* people from finding the truth. In particular, the Guardians in DC have refused to help in his quest, citing their work as being more important. Wolsey sees occult organisations as a means to enlighten it's members, and has already clashed with the Guardians on his desire to "help up" people in the Labyrinth into true Enlightenment. His keen sense for oppertunity has led to him volunteering as a Herald already, and he is poised to join the Bearers of the Eternal Voice legacy - ironically, the one that the chief Guardian is the originator of.

Wolsey is a cross between Jodie Foster's character in Inside Man and Ralph Fiennes' in The Constant Gardner - a slick power-jockeying suit, on a quest to find out what happened to his wife and if neccessary take revenge. His views on the Labyrinth put him - and the Cabal - at odds with the Guardians, who disapprove of his trying to use "their" powers to make the impressionable people in the cults he infiltrates more likely to accept magic. He's the nominal leader of the Cabal and is, says Mark, so white it hurts. And in the racially-charged atmosphere of the Cabal's usual haunts, it does.

Dedicated Magical tool: Security Pass
Real Name: Thomas Dean
Path: Mastigos
Order: Silver Ladder
Legacy: Bearers of the Eternal Voice
Mental Attributes: Int 2, Wits 3, Res 3
Physical Attributes: Str 2, Dex 2, Sta 2
Social Attributes: Pre 3, Man 3, Com 2
Mental Skills: Academics 1, Investigation 1, Occult 2, Politics 3
Physical Skills: Atheltics 1, Brawl 1, Drive 1, Firearms 1
Social Skills: Expression (speeches) 3, Persuasion 3, Socialise 2, Subterfuge (lying / reading lies) 3
Merits: high Speech, Consilium Status 3, Silver Ladder Status 1, Resources 3, mentor 1, Sanctum 2
Willpower: 5
Wisdom: 7
Virtue: Hope
Vice: Envy
Health: 7
Gnosis: 2
Arcana: Life 1, Mind 2, Space 2
Rotes: Mind: First Impressions, Mind Shield, Untouchable
Mana/Turn: 11/2
Armour: Untouchable (Mind: 2pts)


Damascus
Iron Monger and obtainer of unusual weapons

Damascus does not talk much of his past, bar a few offhand references - born Carl Washington, he was a gang member in the deprieved South-East of the city and had a string of petty thefts and assaults to his name before Death caught up with him. The near-death experience and the Awakening in the watchtower of the Leaden Coin gave Carl a new lease of life, and he abandoned his old life in favour of a hidden interest in metalworking and art.

Damascus (named for the folded steel) is a moderately famous artist, a sculpter in metal and - to his fellows in the Adamantine Arrow - a supplier of unusual arms and equipment. Damascus makes the silver bullets, prepares the holy water greandes and has a sizeable collection of other oddments from blessed magic 8 balls to the fingerbones of saints. His philosophy is one of self-betterment through using magic to assist others, of enlightenment through giving loyal support to one's leader (the Adamantine Arrow way) and through the forging of oneself into Supernal form through long and proper action, like steel folded over itself. He is a prospective member of the Uncrowned Kings legacy, though his current mentor is not one.

In the group, Damascus is the level-headed one, the most optimistic and the most likely to volunteer to help someone in need. He's a decent human being, given a second chance at his life through near-death.


Dedicated Magical tool: Hammer
Real Name: Carl Washington
Path: Moros
Order: Adamantine Arrow
Legacy: Uncrowned Kings
Mental Attributes: Int 3, Wit 2, Res 3
Physical Attributes: Str 3, Dex 2, Sta 2
Social Attributes: Pre 2, Man 2, Com 3
Mental Skills: Academics 1, Craft (forging) 4, Investigation 1, Occult 1
Physical Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl 1, Drive 1, Firearms 1, Larceny 2, Stealth 1, Survival 1, Weaponry (Improvised) 2
Social Skills: Intimidation 1, Persuasion 1, Socialise 1, Streetwise (gangs) 1
Merits: Fame 2, High Speech, Mentor 1, Adamantine Order Status 1, Resources 3, Sanctum 2
Willpower: 6
Wisdom: 7
Virtue: Temperance
Vice: Pride
Health: 7
Gnosis: 2
Arcana: Death 1, Matter 2, Mind 2, Prime 1
Rotes: (Matter) Sword of the Slayer, Unseen Aegis (Mind) Steel Trap
Mana/Turn: 11/2
Armour: Unseen Aegis (Matter: 2pts)

Kali
The Only Self-Improvement is Self-Destruction

Kali is a drug dealer and gang leader. She rules a nest of thugs, dealers and whores in the decidedly-warzone like district South-East of the ciy centre, across the river from the Naval bases. She is wildly promiscuous, has an open-door policy on her rooms which allows anyone to wander in and out, smokes, drinks, takes drugs. Personality-wise, she's foulmouthed and ill-tempered.

Kemi was a good middle-class girl, who never got into any trouble. Mixed-race of Afro-American and Pakistani origin (though she points out that she's uncertain of her grandparents, and is probably even more ethnically diverse in background than that), she awoke in unspecified circumstances onto the Acanthus path and was caught up in the House of Ariadne and the Mysterium - lessons which she learnt well.

Kali believes that it is the underclass - the gang members and streetdwellers - who are closest to the City, and as a nascent House of Ariadne member being close to the City is godly. As a Mysterium mage, she sees her old life as being devoid of any Truth or Meaning, qualities which she sees in abundance in the forbidden (to her old self) world of the criminals.

Her persona, then, is the result of a calculated campaign of self-destruction - scouring the girl Kemi used to be out of herself in a quest for Enlightenment through devolution, trying to get closer to her nebulous Truth as she goes. In her new life, she is connected to the city on a level that simply wasn't possible before. Without safety, without any limits and with forcing herself to commit immoral acts, Kali is getting at the core of the human condition and evolving.

Or that's what she tells herself anyway.

Kind of a female Tyler Durden, is Kali, and focused entirely on the "soft" Arcana like Space, Time and Fate. Kali is exceptionally lucky - the result of her player taking the game system to heart and casting divinations on anything going. Her twisted perception of the world - that this life is something to aspire to - pitches her against Damascus (who is trying to escape the life she's succeeding at forcing her way into) and Wolsey (who she sees as being her opposite, preoccupied with the playtimes of the rich as he is).

Dedicated Magical tools: Silver Pentacle necklace
Real Name: Kemi Simone
Path: Acanthus
Order: Mysterium
Legacy: House of Ariadne
Mental Attributes: Int 3, Wits 3, Res 3
Physical Attributes: Str 2, Dex 3, Stm 2
Social Attributes: Pre 2, Man 2, Com 2
Mental Skills: Academics 1, Computer 1, Investigation 2, Occult 2
Physical Skills: Athletics 2, brawl 1, Firearms 1, Larceny 2, Stealth 2, Survival 2, Weaponry (knife) 2
Social Skills: Intimidation (Gang mother) 2, Socialise 2, Streetwise (undercover) 3, Subterfuge 2
Merits: High Speech, Mysterium Status 2, Resources 2, Mentor 2, Contacts 1, Sanctum 2, Gang Status 2, Fighting Finesse
Willpower: 5
Wisdom: 6
Virtue: Charity
Vice: Wrath
Health: 7
Gnosis: 2
Arcana: Fate 3, Space 1, Time 2
Rotes: (Fate) Evil Eye, Superlative Luck (Time) Momentary Flux
Mana/Turn: 11/2

As I say, proper backgrounds once the gang submit them.


EDIT - Right then. 3 am here. I'll be back with the first story's writeup.. at some point. Def. in the next week. Bye!
 
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Echo's Bones

It was snowing
Validated User
I'm talking about Shadow names. For me, and in this game, the taking of a Shadow name isn't something you do to make it harder for other people to cast magic on you - though that's a big ancillary benefit. Consider - the entire world is the gnostic prison of the Exarchs. Your identity - your real identity - is the prison-tag they gave you. Shadow identities are like the rebel's callsigns in the Matrix - based on their own particular subculture, but taken as a badge of rebellion. The false identity you construct for yourself as a mage is who you are, not who they intended you to be. And when that magic's gone - when they call you by your slave name - your ass is theirs.

Seers of the Throne in my game tend to do the "Mr Anderson" whenever they can.
Dude, love it. I want to play a Christian Awakened who calls himself Lazarus. I need to get back to school and find a gaming group.

Both of them are using the methods of the Exarchs. Controlling a human population by geomantic means? Actively working to prevent supernaturals from changing the world? Their *motives* are good, sure. But what, exactly, seperates them from the Seers?
Nice. This is partly why I think Mage may be the most morally ambiguous of the games: yeah, you have Supernal power, let's hope you don't go off and abuse it to screw over people's lives. After all, maybe the Seers are right: maybe an ordinary, ignoble, weak-minded mortal shouldn't have that sort of power.
 
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DaveB

No regrets
Validated User
Re: [Actual Play] Mage: The Awakening - The Broken Diamond (contains Reign of the Exa

Nice. This is partly why I think Mage may be the most morally ambiguous of the games: yeah, you have Supernal power, let's hope you don't go off and abuse it to screw over people's lives. After all, maybe the Seers are right: maybe an ordinary, ignoble, weak-minded mortal shouldn't have that sort of power.
Exactly. Take Wolsey - his interest in the history of Christianity goes deeper than naming himself after a cautionary tale. He views the cults he works with - and to an extent the Pentacle Orders - as being like the very early Christians in Rome, needing a dramatic example to become dominant. His game-plan, such as it is, is to get the disapproving forces in Mage society out of the way and then stage a dramatic example - something that cannot be mistaken for anything other than magic, using the attainments he hopes to learn from the Bearers of the Eternal voice to hold disbelief off for long enough to start the ball rolling. He knows he'll probably die, but continuing with his metaphor regards it as matyrdom.

But the early gnostic christians he's talking about didn't *have* the concept of martyrdom - that comes later. And he's still forcing his enlightenment on people that don't know what they're getting into. As Kali points out at one point (and the writeup is coming, I swear) Wolsey's glorious revolution is limited to a bunch of old, white men.

Mark (the player) confesses that should Wolsey get the chance to ascend, he'd probably become an Exarch. The world he'd make would be slightly more magical, and he'd do it from a desire to do good, but his character is flawed such that he thinks in terms of telling people what to think.
 
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pathstrider

Matrix Transformed
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Re: [Actual Play] Mage: The Awakening - The Broken Diamond (contains Reign of the Exa

Mark (the player) confesses that should Wolsey get the chance to ascend, he'd probably become an Exarch. The world he'd make would be slightly more magical, and he'd do it from a desire to do good, but his character is flawed such that he thinks in terms of telling people what to think.
Well (For tis I the player), I think it's closer to say showing people what to think, and in terms that to think otherwise is clearly shown to be wrong is a more accurate way to put it.

Essentially he's making a persuasive arguement, rather then forcing people to beleive.

But it's definately still not great, morally speaking.

Mark
 

DaveB

No regrets
Validated User
Through Me, Revelation

A note on format. Out of character, behind the curtain-type bits are written like this, allowing the reader to choose what they emphasise on. It's a format hashed out on my Deliria thread after some trial and error, and I'm quite proud of it.

We begin with a Prelude to the chronicle, which took three game sessions to play out. We had a *big* gap of time out of character between parts one and two, thanks to Rafe (Damascus) going on holiday. I bought and read Reign of the Exarchs between parts two and three, so there aren't any references to spot in the first two sessions.


"Through Me, Revelation"
Session 1.1

Early May, 2006.

Damascus has been informed by his mentor that his apprenticeship is judged to be as complete as neccessary, and that the time has come for Damascus to join a cabal. Unfortunately, due to the political fall-out from a controversy involving the Heirarch allegedly stealing apprentices, Damascus doesn't have any choice in the matter, and doesn't get to pick which Cabal he's part of. His new Cabal mates (Damascus' mentor provides the very barest of details - path, order and shadow name) have been given Damascus' address, and he should be expecting them.

Accordingly, the Moros is puttering around his house, clearing his tools away and straightening the furniture.

We don't see Damascus' mentor - this is all a given at the start. Ulysses turns up later on in the Prelude, and other than "he's a catholic priest" I didn't want to spoil his entrance. This opening device is a *blatent* shoe-horn to get the characters together, only one step behind "you all meet in a bar". I am deeply shamed.

Earlier, Kali is sat on a low wall somewhere in the Mall, next to a hot-dog stand. Blaise - a dreadlocked white man who evidently didn't get any memos about grunge being dead, wearing an army jacket and a T-shirt with a picture of a rainbow on it - is wolfing a dog while explaining the situation to his now former student. He describes her new cabalmates with a bit more detail - Wolsey is "a near-miss Guardian who the Ladder managed to snag", apparantly - and seems cheerfully unaware of how unimpressed Kali is at the thought of working for the rest of her life with a "speechy" Ladder and an artist. He waves her off, reminding her not to be late.

As Kali slouches away, she makes a mental note to be as late to Damascus' house as she possibly can.

Blaise does not appear for the rest of the Prelude, despite him being the mentor that had more than one point spent on him. Ah, well. He'll be important when Kali wants to join the House of Ariadne. Kali's eternal attitude problem - which serves mostly to mask her inner thought processes from the rest of the world - is, I think, a reaction of Sam (her player) to her other characters of late. She was Jacqui in Deliria.

Later again, now at night, and we fade back in on Wolsey sitting in the passenger seat of a rather expensive car, looking out at the neighbourhood. The driver is his mentor, a smartly-dressed middle-aged Indian (Indian subcontinent, not Native American) woman named Mara. She's explaining the setup we've had explained twice already, but gives more details still that indicate that she's looked into the backgrounds of his new cabalmates - Damascus is from somewhere around here, and is a weapons supplier for the Adamantine Arrow, while Kali is a barely-socialised drug dealer from deeper into the south-east of the city. Mara's tone expresses disapproval of his new Cabalmates (Kali in particular), but Wolsey is nonplussed, still staring out at the endless procession of increasingly middle-class houses.

At length, they arrive, and Wolsey steps out of the air-conditioned bliss of the car into the nasty humidity of an early evening in late May, crunching his way around the car on Damascus' gravel path. He asks Mara if she's coming in, and she says not at first - she'll let them get to know one another, but has something to tell them when they're ready if he wants to call her.

Damascus and Wolsey exchange Shadow names and handshakes, and set in to wait for Kali (whom neither of them have met), trading niceties that break down somewhat when Wolsey turns out to know nothing about art and Damascus turns out to care very little about Politics. But they're polite.

Outside, Kali is slowing ambling her way up the street, peering at house numbers. She and Mara spot one another - Mara's still in the car - and manage to convey their mutual disrespect over seven feet and through a tinted car window.

Inside, Damascus is elaborating on his art - he creates statues and installations from iron - when Kali arrives in a cloud of cigarette smoke. After introductions, Wolsey ventures that they should try to get to know each other.

You can almost hear the crickets chirping and the churchbell tolling in the background.

Kali is prevented from tapping ash onto the floor by provision of an ashtray, and Wolsey manages to drag out of her which Arcana she's been trained in, while he and Damascus volunteer theirs. The information they share is on about the level of what Mara told Wolsey - Damascus does volunteer that he was once in a gang, but a near-death experience cured what prison couldn't. Kali calls this a "shame".

Wolsey smoothly asks if they should just get on with it, then, and call Mara in? The other two shrug, so off he goes.

Wolsey, even at this stage, is setting himself up as the Cabal's chairperson - he's trying to take charge just as much as Kali is determined to be annoying - but the bit about Damascus' background really is what she thinks.

In order to give the new Cabal something to do while they sort themselves out, Mara says once she comes into the house, there is a "small matter" that the Consilium would like looked into. It is troubling, but not important enough for anyone else to have dealt with it for the time being - and as the new Cabal in the city, they get to start with the jobs that no-one else wanted.

And the second part of the setup - the given-from-on-high quest! Beginnings are not my best thing... Mara's a Prefect of the City (she's the prefect for the Guardians of the Veil Councilman, no less), which is why she's in a position to hand out missions from the Heirarch.

This quarter of the city has a graffiti problem.

There is a pause for raised eyebrows and (in Kali's case) smoke-rings.

But seriously - there are four instances so far of someone painting crude images onto surfaces - images of things that a Sleeper shouldn't be able to see. The first three appear to be painted images of the Shadow Realm in those locations, as though the painter was looking through the Gauntlet and tracing what he or see saw. The last is more troubling - by accounts, the Shadow-world diorama is topped off with an Atlantean rune. Their task is to find out who is doing it and why - anything further than that is left to their discretion, though she gives Wolsey a rather significant glance as she says it.

After she leaves, and they hear her car driving away, Wolsey points out that they are unlikely to not be being watched throughout this exercise - they're blatently being sent on a low-risk mission so that the other Cabals can assess the new kids. And they *do* have to work together on this - whether they like it or not, it's this or go independent.

After a lengthly silence, Kali says that she knows the area the fourth image is in. Damascus says he'll drive.

And they're off.

These icebreaking moments are always hard, and I've literally lost campaigns to them; I had a werewolf: the forsaken game that failed because the characters - after ten sessions - never got past the initial uncertainty abot one another. By this point of the session, I was seriously afraid of the long-term prospects of the game. The next half of the session mollified me somewhat, and session two cured me of the worry, thank gods. The characters are just so mismatched at first glance that it took an active plot like the one of this prelude to get them to jiggle and rotate so that their angular edges match up and they lock together. In a manner of speaking. Kudos to the players, who pulled off dozens of tiny adjustments as they settled into their characters and their characters got used to one another. By the end of the prelude, they feel like a proper Cabal.

There's a long stretch of scrubby parkland, across the river from the DC naval bases, which has a freeway elevated above it on great concrete struts. The cabal, following the directions on the list Mara left them, walk down the bank into the trash-choked, shadowy space beneath, backlit by the bright white lights of the naval yards and picked out by campfires surrounded by the homeless people living down here in their cardboard village.

The symbol is spraypainted onto the bottom of one of the struts - definately Atlantean, though not in the basic vocabulary any of the three of them have been taught by their Orders.

Deep breaths. Time to start being Mages.

Literally. There was about a three-second pause here when they were faced with the rune before the spells started flying

While Wolsey sketches the rune, trying to make sense of it, Damascus casts Dark Matter to gain the Mage sight and Kali - after consulting with the bms to determine that the thing was painted "by some spaced-out guy" three nights ago - casts Postcognition in order to scry backwards in time to when the rune was painted. Damascus peers at the rune, seeing the weight of Stygian energies clinging to the surface, and concludes that there *is* some residual spell energy - a spell that isn't active now that used at least the Death and Mind Arcana, plus some others that he's less familiar with. Kali, meanwhile, struggles with shifting her perceptions backwards but manages to get a few seconds glimpse of the rune being painted by a thin black man in a baseball cap, a heavy coat and worn sneakers.

Kali got but a single success, while Damascus got two. Kali actually uses Postcognition far more than any other spell, but doesn't have it as a rote so has to rely on improvised casting - she is earmarked for the House of Ariadne as soon as her soul is developed enough to join a Legacy, and their first attainment duplicates it's effects so Blaise considers teaching her the power as a rote to be an unneccessary duplication of effort

Back at the car, they discuss the findings. There are three more sites - which don't have runes, according to Mara, and an Atlantean rune to decypher. Wolsey suggests that he go around the city's Heralds, both to introduce the Cabal and to find out if anyone knows what the rune says. Damascus and Kali, after dropping him off somewhere he can get a taxi, will go round the remaining dioramas and see if they have better luck with their divinations.

..

The first site on their list is a basketball court. The painting is of a well built into weed-choked flagstones, sprayed onto the court itself. After Damascus casts Dark Matter and Kali joins in with her own Mage Sight spell The Sybil's Sight, they assess the energies as again being from a no-longer active spell cast using Death, Mind and (this time) Space and Fate. Recognising the resonance as being from the same caster as the last one, they proceed to stage two - Kali attempts postcognition again, while Damascus - on a hunch - casts Speak With The Dead. Kali's spell fails, but Damascus' reveals the ghost of a little girl standing in the road. She appears to react to something and flies sideways as though being run over, then reappears where they are and runs back out, chasing a basketball that no longer exists. Damascus attempts to ask her if she saw anything, but there's not enough of a sentience left in her ectoplasmic repeating of her death to have a conversation with, and he is forced to cancel the spell without success. Making a mental note to return once he has progressed in the Death Arcana enough to do something about her fate, they consult their list and head back to the car.

And here's one difference between Awakening and Ascension - Awakening Mages cast spells *all the time*. I recall one of the design goals for the new game was 'encourage mages to cast magic', and it really does. I like the system for Mage sight, and the way that the dozens of information gathering spells are both highly-focused and take account of successes - what would have been a simple "conjunctional rote of as many 1-dot spheres as you have" to figure out any given phenonemon becomes a delicate dance of figuring out which of your forensic spells you should cast in the time you have, which clues to follow up and when to move on. And because they're covert and from the ruling arcana of the characters involved, they can essentially do this all day without fear. I approve.

..

Wolsey is sitting in an expensive restaurant (the sort of place that has a harpist), examining the menu, when he's joined by his dinner companion - the first of the city's Heralds, a Moros Mystagogue named Francine. Francine is curley-haired, brunette and bespectacled, wearing a mildly unfashionable dress that fits the dress code for this well-to-do establishment. Wolsey thanks her for meeting him and she says that it's no bother - after all, he's paying for her to eat above her means for the privalege of meeting her.

They make small talk - Francine is a historical biographer by profession, and in her Supernal life is a member of the Recorders of Living History Cabal. Which, given their reputation for studiousness, is why she was first on his list.

Francine is visibly distracted throughout their conversation, glancing over Wolsey's shoulder evey now and again and fiddling with her cutlery. Eventually, she excuses herself and gets up, walking to the table immediately behind theirs and - demeanour changing in an instant, brightly asking the suited, heavy-set man sat there if she's met him before. After some verbal back and forth (Wolsey gets the pins and needles feeling that marks his Unseen Sight kicking off - she's using magic) he gives her his name, and she returns to Wolsey's table.

Entirely straight-faced, she notes that the gentleman will be dead by the end of the night. And then absorbs herself in the wine list.

To business - Francine can't read the rune herself, her Atlantean isn't good enough either. Wolsey asks about the other members of her Cabal, and she says that she doesn't think so. Disappointed, he thanks her and they return to small talk, finishing the meal before he calls her a cab and then the next Herald on the list.

Francine is a member of the Stone Book / "Nametakers" Legacy - from Legacies: The Sublime. This whole side-quest about finding someone that can translate the rune comes from my thoughts upon reading the High Speech chapter in Secrets of the Ruined Temple - what happens if your Cabal *doesn't* have Linguistics: Atlantean, but someone in your city does, and they need something translated? There's a major bargaining chip a person can offer to everyone else right there.

..

Damascus and Kali have taken in a fence which has a striking picture of a gallows-yard painted on it (same results as for the spell, though this time postcognition worked a bit better, offering Kali a few more seconds of their mystery graffiti artist) and now stand at the last of their sites, at which an archway to some kind of alley has been painted on the side of an apartment building. Mage sight has revealed - once again - that the spell is no longer active and that it was cast by the same person as before.

Damascus is stumped, but Kali has gotten into the mood for investigation - her surley demeanour from before gone, she's now seriously considering the puzzle and trying lateral methods. She casts postcognition while still keeping Mage Sight up, to try to get a better look at the spell's resonance, and determines that the man in question was acting in a sort of trance - he wasn't possessed, though, it was an external effect not something inside him.

Considering, she throws Interconnections at the painting, determining that there is a strong link between the four sites - and that the young man has some degree of a destiny. Working out the timeline in her head, she notes that they've taken the paintings in rough reverse order - they're at the oldest one, which was followed by the well, the gallows and then the rune. She and Damascus talk through the symbology of it in case that's important - Kali rambles for a while about the significance of the archway being first - like something that something has come *in* through. Damascus considers the possibility that it's a ghost mage doing the deed.

In any event, they are beginning to attract attention standing in the middle of the neighbourhood at 1am. After flipping a group of men that cat-call her the bird, Kali conceeds that they should probably head back before she starts a fight that Damascus will lose.

..

Wolsey, meanwhile, has now pitched up at the bar of a hotel downtown, where he's met by a blonde, elfin lady that looks like he's woken her up. This is "Trace", an Acanthus Mystagogue in the House of Ariadne - and the Herald in the Gatekeepers Cabal.

Wolsey is avoiding the third and final Herald in the city - because he is in the Heirarch's Cabal, and Wolsey doesn't want to involve the boss. Yet.

Trace rather disgruntledly asks Wolsey what was so important that he phoned her and asked to meet at 2 in the morning, and Wolsey checks his watch - it *is* getting rather late. He apologises, and cuts it short - he intends to be a Herald, and des she know what this drawing means?

Trace looks at it, gives up after staring at it blearily for a while, and advises Wolsey to speak to her superior, Malakaii, about it. The Master knows more Atlantean than she does.

The sinking feeling of "I need a consult from the man who represents my bitterest enemies" setting in, Wolsey goes home to bed.

And that's the end of session 1. Much set up and gathering of information.

Back soon.
 
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