• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[Werewolf: the Forsaken] Home Is Where The Bones Are

NateD

Existentially indifferent
Validated User
Hey hey! I've been having a tonne of fun running Werewolf: The Forsaken for a while now; so much, in fact, that I figured I'd start an AP and share the love!

I'm lucky enough to be the dad of kids that are juuust old enough to start getting into CofD (or I hope so, anyway! #bestdad), so I've put together a very street-level game of WtF for them. My overall goal has been to introduce them to both the mechanics and the setting as we go (and maybe to creep them out a little, too), and I figured it would be good to have them playing characters around their own age, rather than adults.

You know what that means, right? First Change Story!

A couple of notes, for those interested:

  • I decided to cobble together the “First Change” and “The Funeral” frameworks from the WtF 2nd Edition corebook. That means that we built characters as we went, and used a “Tension Pool” to determine when the Change hit. I'll have more to say in a future post, but suffice to say it certainly made things interesting, and it sure moved the story along!
  • As I said, we built on characters as we went, so I won't post characters just yet. I'll let you meet them as we did. :)
  • One of the players was busy for a few of the early sessions, so his character went away for a bit. We also had an extra character come in later, too (played by my daughter, who saw how much fun we were having and wanted in). You'll meet her soon enough.
  • I have most likely cribbed from all over the place. Definitely made good use of Predators, Night Horrors: Wolfsbane, and a few chunks of the old Quickstart adventure. I'm definitely planning on unashamedly stealing all the best ideas from Black Hat Matt and ChristianA’s damn-near-perfect APs, as well. :)
  • As is the custom in these parts, OOC will be in BLUE #BrokenDiamond4lyfe.

So without further ado, I'll get right into it...

----

Chapter 1: The Funeral

In a field near Fouke, Arkansas, beside an old farmhouse, is an even older barn. It was painted, once, but all that's left is dull red flecks on age-darkened wood. It's normally pretty quiet, but right now it's surrounded by a mess of cars, trucks, and motorbikes. Inside, it's full of people; mourners.

It's the funeral of one Jeremiah Woods.

The Woods are an old family; they've been in Southwest Arkansas for as long as anyone knows. They’re pretty much part of the land, now. They're not liked, not by a longshot, but they're respected, and maybe a little feared. They keep to themselves a lot, and that's how everybody - them included - likes it.

There’s a crowd tonight, though, which is a little concerning to the family’s children. Jeremiah's two sons sit at the back, muttering quietly amongst themselves. Despite being half-brothers, they haven't seen each other since they were little; Jeremiah had some unusual ideas about marriage, they say, and took two wives. One of them ran off near a decade ago, taking her son - Dean Woods - with her. He's been with her in Dallas ever since, becoming a regular ol' city-boy. This is the first time he's been back, and word is his mother wasn't happy to see him go.

His younger brother, Matthew Woods, has been here all along. He's helped his father work the land since he was old enough to chase chickens, and he's a rising star on Fouke High's football team (although, to be fair, the school's so small that anyone with two legs is all but guaranteed a place on the team). Truth be told, he'd have done anything for the old man’s approval. He'd probably have given up before long, if Jeremiah hadn't up and died. He's got a bit of a temper, that Matty, and old Jeremiah was always a hard man to please.

A few rows in front is their cousin, Jamie Douglas-Woods. Her parents and brother died in a house fire a few years back, and she went to live with her aunt and uncle. Jeremiah saved her life that night, and even though she's been going off the rails this last year, Uncle Jerry (a nickname only she’s ever dared use) was the closest thing she’s had to a dad in years.

She hasn't cried yet.

Finally, the service - such as it is - ends, and whoever all these people are filter out. There's drinking, reminiscing, and a fair load of hushed conversations. Whenever the kids approach, though, they stop dead. Eventually, apart from a few stragglers, the teens are nearly alone in the barn. With the coffin.

Dean approaches it. He hasn't seen his dad in - what, ten years? No one’s told him anything about how he died, and the old family home doesn't even have any recent photos. God knows his mother hadn't kept any; she’d rather believe he never existed. He wonders, absently, what the old man even looks like. Sorry; looked like.

He reaches out to the closed casket, runs his hand along the smooth wood. Then he starts to lift the lid.

Suddenly Jamie is there, slamming it back down with a bang. At thirteen, she's nearly four years Dean’s junior, but she mustn't have gotten the memo. She shoves him backwards with a grunt.

“The casket stays closed, cousin.”

They argue - even though they're family, they've only just met, and already they're at odds. Jamie resents that Dean is only blowing into town now. Dean reminds her that Jeremiah was his dad, not hers. Quote: “Just ‘cause your parents died years ago...”

The argument heats up [they both failed their Tension rolls, but their pools are growing…], and Jamie goes running out of the barn. Maggie - her aunt, and Matthew’s mother - sees her go, and stomps up to Dean. She rails at him, blasting him with all of her pent-up anger. She's in his face, and her index finger is digging into his chest with every syllable.

[So, Dean gains some more Tension, and decides to risk another roll...and succeeds! I don't want it all to end too quickly, though, so I let him hold it in for a while, at a cost.]

Dean growls - a low, guttural rumble - and before he even knows what he's doing he shoves Maggie. She slams into the coffin, nearly knocking it over, and lands hard on the floor.

“I'm sorry, I - I didn’t mean…”

He feels weird. A white hot ball of something burns in his gut, his skin crawls, and he's hyperventilating. He’s never snapped like that before. He freaks out, and runs into the house.

Matthew runs over, helping his mother up. She's bleeding from her temple, but it just looks like a scratch. When he's made sure she's alright, he runs after his half-brother. He's not quite sure whether he wants to help him or hurt him.

He follows Dean into the farmhouse, and up to the spare room on the second floor. It's dark, and the stairs creak all the way up. He slowly - nervously - pushes the bedroom door open, and finds Dean huddled up on the bed. He's pale, and shaking, and complains about feeling hot, so hot.

Matty opens up a window, propping it up with a brick, and picks up a couple of beat-up old Xbox 360 controllers. He tries to distract Dean, to cheer him up, to make jokes. He tells him that Maggie’s, like, sort of his step-mum, right?, so giving her shit is probably cool, yeah?

But Dean is feverishly muttering, ranting about something at the window, something made of shadows and eyes, and then he suddenly starts to retch. He’s coughing and crying, and his flesh starts to ripple and change. Bones stretch and crack, white splinters pushing up through broken skin. Thick grey fur breaks out all over his body, and a rabid howl tears out of his red-raw throat. When a bestial face turns to Matthew, there's nothing remotely human in its golden-eyed gaze.

Matthew is horrified, and terrified, but he reacts quickly. With shaking hands, he yanks the brick from the window sill and holds it above his head.

“Stay back! Stay back, ya hear me!”

The beast that was his half-brother tears itself away from the last of its clothes and bloodied skin, and takes a shuddering step towards him. Its mouth is wide, and full of wicked teeth. Spittle and blood drips down its chin. from He closes his eyes, grimacing, and swings at it with the brick. It connects with a sickening crack, and then he's already out the door.

[Spent Willpower, Dean didn't have any Defense, and got a good 3 successes. 4 Lethal Damage, as much good as it'll do him...]

He hits the stairs, then pivots over the banister and leaps the rest of the way down. The last thing that he sees as he hurtles through the air is the creature standing it the doorway, a massive headwound knitting back together in seconds.

---

Meanwhile...

Jamie has disappeared to the other side of the Woods property. She's taken one of the family's horses, Sylvie, for a night ride. It's against family rules, of course - Jeremiah would be furious - but she needs to get away.

There's some kind of commotion back at the farmhouse. She can hear yelling, then a crash of glass. She yanks the reins, trying to steer Sylvie towards the house, but the horse straight refuses. She nearly bucks her off.

Jamie’s angry, but she's shaken. Maybe Sylvie's got the right idea? She takes her back to the stables instead, and the spooked horse finally starts to settle. It's dark in there, though, and eerily quiet, and Jamie's feeling less and less safe here. Then, a voice speaks. It's a flat whisper - almost without inflection, and seeming to come from everywhere at once.

“Hello there little girl. Don't be scared. Be quiet.”
 
Last edited:

NateD

Existentially indifferent
Validated User
And more you shall receive!

This one is a little short, as we spent a some time putting a bit more of the characters down on paper, but damn if it didn't take a while to write. So, without further ado:

Chapter 2: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Dean shifts in his sleep. He yawns, and stretches. Sunlight is streaming directly onto his face, and he lazily puts a hand up to block it. Absently, he notes that the sun is high in the sky - it might even be afternoon. And he’s outside.

What happened last night?, he wonders. Where am I?

Suddenly, memories start rushing back. They’re all jumbled together, and don’t make any sense - he remembers yelling, shouting, shaking uncontrollably. He remembers a crashing window, screams, animal noises and a barrage of all kinds of sickly smells and sounds. He remembers running like he never has before, plunging past huge trees. Chasing...something.

He sits up, quickly, and his vision swims. When it focuses, he sees that he’s in a clearing, somewhere, surrounded by piles of rent flesh and tufts of white (well, formerly-white) wool. Beside him is the half-gnawed head of a sheep, its one remaining eye staring up at him.

He screams, and leaps to his feet and away from the mutilated animal. He dimly remembers coming across a flock of sheep, and seeing them scatter before him, but it’s all so blurry.

Right here and now, though, he’s stark naked, and covered in blood and dirt. Probably suffering from shock, he starts to half-run, half-stumble away from the scene. He doesn’t know where to go. He doesn’t even know where he is.

[Yup, he’s completely lost. :) I had him roll Intelligence + Survival (which he succeeded on, incredibly), but it WASN’T to find his way back to the Woods’ property. It was just to not get into even more trouble.]

----

Dean, meanwhile, has been awake since sunrise. He ran off last night, too, but it wasn’t hunting. It was just away. He spent the night dashing through the woods, nearly making it all the way to town, and eventually he climbed a tree and worried himself to sleep.

In the light of day, though, he wonders if the whole thing was just a hallucination. Or a psychotic break. He worries that his half-brother might have gotten lost in the woods, or eaten by whatever that thing last night was. He’s not quite ready to believe that Dean was that thing.

He starts heading back to the farmhouse, hoping to find some sign of his brother on the way.

----

Separately, the pair hear a lot of noise in the distance. Raised voices yelling both their names, and the crash of many feet trudging through the thick woods. It must be a search party!

[I have them both make Wits + Stealth rolls, if they want to. Dean passes, Matthew fails, so we continue with him for a while.]

----

Still unsure of...well, anything at all, Matthew tries to sneak around them. Suddenly, though, a figure steps out from behind a tree and levels a shotgun at him.

“Hold right there! I wanna see those hands up, or I’ll shoot you right in the goddamn face!”

Matthew recognizes the man, vaguely. “Uncle Bill”, his mother calls him, although he’s not quite sure whether it’s an affectation or whether they actually are related. He’s a big man, although it’s more a matter of width than height, with a bushy beard and an old, sweaty cap always on his head. He’s sweating more than usual, though, in his flannel shirt. He looks pretty worse for wear.

“Shit, Matthew, is that you? What the hell are you doin’ out here, boy? Your mother’s worried sick!”

His gun lowers, slightly, but Matt notes that it’s not all the way down.

“What happened last night? Is that other one here, too? Dean?”

Matthew deflects, shrugging his shoulders, mumbling something, and making to walk away. Uncle Bill won’t have that, though; he grabs him by the scruff of the neck and starts marching him back in the direction he came from.

----

A little while later, they’re back at the farmhouse. Matthew’s mother Maggie stands outside the front door, looking like she hasn’t slept a wink all night. Matthew muscles past her. She tries to speak to him, but he’s not interested [He’s got a little more Tension, but instead of rolling he takes the Shaken Condition.] He hides out in his room, but eventually sneaks into the spare room next door; it’s all smashed up, and the window is smashed out. It looks like Dean - or someone, or something - took the fast route out.

A few hours later, he sneaks downstairs to find something to eat. It’s inching into evening, and a gibbous moon is just appearing in the bruised sky. Maggie’s waiting for him. She’s leaning over the kitchen sink, shoulders slumped.

He sighs unhappily, but goes over to her. They embrace for a while, in silence, and she dries her eyes. Then she leads him over to the kitchen table and sits him down. Then it gets bad.

She tells him how scared she was, how worried, and she tries to drag out of him what happened last night. Matthew tries to grill her right, and she lets it slip: she thinks Dean went crazy. It was already obvious that she’s not such a fan of the kid [note: he IS the son of her husband’s other wife, after all], but it sounds to Matthew like the people out in the bushes are more about hunting Dean than helping him.

[Another point of Tension...and he succeeds. I guess we've got another werewolf!]

Matthew loses it. He yells, swearing black and blue that he doesn’t know anything, that he didn’t see anything last night, and that Maggie doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She starts yelling, too, and Matthew grips the kitchen table with both hands. He feels like he’s being interrogated, and he hasn’t done anything wrong! He's scared that everything in this whole family is turning into shit right before his eyes. He misses his dad.

Suddenly, his muscles seize up. Tendons bulge out of the skin on the backs of his hands. His fingernails turn glassy and black, growing into huge claws. They dig all the way into the old wood of the table. Thick black fur climbs up his arms like mold in a time-lapse video, and he lurches back. The chair bounces away behind him, and the table tips over.

“Mom?!” He chokes out through a mouth twisting into an inhuman snout. He cries out, but it turns into a throat-splitting howl part-way through. His insides are liquid, crawling around inside him like a school of spooked fish. His bones break and reform into new and strange shapes.

Maggie’s face is a mask of horror and revulsion. “Oh god...not again… Not you, too!”

A red cloud intrudes on the edges of Matthew’s vision. The last thing that he's really aware of seeing is his mother, terrified, scrabbling away from him as fast as she can.

----

Meanwhile, Dean has followed the sounds of the search party back to the farmhouse, and is lurking at the tree line. He spies Bill and another woman hovering around out front, nervously talking, when a commotion starts inside. Bill and the woman start to freak out, and ready their guns. Dean looks down at himself - scrawny, weak and naked - and tries to will himself to change like he did last night. It’s the only way to protect himself.

He grits his teeth, and bites his tongue. He stomps up and down, and mutters angrily to himself. Then he starts punching a tree. Blood flows freely from his knuckles [and he instinctively spends an Essence], he thinks that he might have broken his hand, and then the change is upon him.

Just in time. Maggie bursts through the doors of the farmhouse, running for her life, and a few heartbeats later the doors blow clean off their hinges. A beast of black fur and bloodlust charges after the terrified woman. When it sees the others, shakily raising their weapons, it leaps at them. Dean dives out of the trees, right towards the action.

The woman fires wildly, missing the Death-Raging Uratha completely. It lunges at her, bearing down on her with its weight, and snaps its jaws. They barely miss her anguished face. Then Dean half-shouts, half-howls, trying to distract the beast. It works; it leaps off the woman, and pounces right onto him. Before Dean even knows what’s happening, it’s pinned him to the ground, slavering in his face, its huge claws digging deep into the flesh of his shoulders.

[Both Matthew and the woman whiff their attacks. Dean uses his action to lure Matthew towards him, and takes 4 Lethal Damage and a grapple for his trouble.]

Maggie is somewhere, screaming. “No! It’s Matthew! Don’t shoot!” But it’s too late; there’s an explosion of noise, and the beast is off Dean like a shot. It frantically looks down, where a shotgun blast has hit it on the side. Smoke rises off a thousand tiny little puncture marks, and the flesh boils and sizzles. It howls in pain in rage.

Uncle Bill, shotgun up, sneers. “Silver, you bastard!” He cocks the gun, murder in his eyes, and Dean yells out.

[Yes, silver. Two successes to hit, so that’s 4 Aggravated Damage right there. I know! And yes, the players aren’t too fond of ol’ Uncle Bill. :)]

“Stop!”

Piecing together the situation, he turns to the rabid, cornered beast, both hands raised.

“Matthew, you have to stop! Please!

The night is descending, and the moon seems a little brighter every second. The beast freezes, looking all around it, then it suddenly begins to melt. Mass, muscle and fur melts away like a bad dream, and suddenly it’s Matthew, lying in a pool of blood. Maggie scrambles to him, trying to stem the flow of blood pooling beside him.

[Dean - instinctively, again - uses the Elodoth Auspice Ability. His player has been reading a little since Session One, and I let him choose his Auspice.]

“Bill, put that damn fool thing down and help me get him inside!”

----

The next few hours pass in a blur. Matthew weaves in and out of consciousness. Dean, draped in an old threadbare blanket, watches Maggie try to patch up his wounds. The buckshot she from withered flesh gleams silver.

Bill is nowhere to be seen.

----

There’s a knock at the door, and then Maggie bustles in carrying two steaming cups of soup. She looks, somehow, even more haggard than earlier, especially when she looks at all the blood soaking into the lounge room carpet. Matthew is awake, now, and he grunts in pain as she checks his wounds again.

Finally she sits down, and tries to explain to the boys what’s happened to them.

They don’t understand much. Something about a Curse - the Blood of the Wolf. It’s strong in their family line, as far back as anyone remembers. Some of them - like her - have it weak, but some have it strong. One night, something calls to them, and then they Change. It happened to their father, and his father before him, and now it’s happened to them.

She tries to explain that it’s not all bad. Sure, it’s a hard and painful life, but the family looks after its own. The ones with the Blood help - they try to stop the Changed from hurting people, and they help to bury the bodies and hide the evidence. She nearly tears up many times, but she’s got her game face on.

“I wish it didn’t call you, Matthew. Every night I prayed to God it wouldn’t, but it’s happened. You can get it under control, though. You have to.”

She stands up, shaken but determined.

“Tomorrow, ya’ll are gonna go and learn to control it. I don't know how long it'll be, but when you do you’ll come back home. We'll look after you. I'll make sure no one knows, and no one gets hurt. Everything will be alright, y’hear? You just gotta control it.”

“Tomorrow, you're gonna go see Mother Mary. She'll know what to do.”

[Who is Mother Mary? Truth be told, I hadn’t even locked it down in my own head at the time. ;) ]

----

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading. Next session: Rest Stop, wherein the boys go off half-cocked.
 
Last edited:

NateD

Existentially indifferent
Validated User
Hey hey! Session 3, here we come! This one's pretty fun - a little short, but action-packed, and it establishes a lot more of the mechanics for the players and the characters.

Last time, we ended with Matthew's mother, Maggie, telling the guys that their family line is cursed with lycanthropy, and that they're going to have to go see a mysterious “Mother Mary” to help them deal with all these murderous urges.

So what do the boys want to do? Steal a car and drive to Dallas, of course. o_O

(I love it!)

----

Chapter 3: Rest Stop

It's the dead of night, and Dean and Matthew are speeding down US 71. After everything they’ve been through - not to mention Maggie’s not-so-inspiring speech - they quickly realized that sleep wasn’t going to be an option. Instead, they waited until Maggie went to bed, took one of the family's trucks, and did a runner. Dean figures they’ll be safe with his mom in Dallas.

Matthew wonders how far away Dallas actually is (he's never been that far from Fouke, honestly), and he's a little shocked that it's more than two hours. He suggests that in that case, they proooobably need some gas.

They pull into an E-Z Mart on the outskirts of Texarkana; it’s where a lot of kids from the surrounding towns go when they want to buy booze or cigarettes. The night shift worker, Earl, will sell anything to anyone, and it's far enough that they're not likely to run into their parents getting gas.

[Texarkana will come up again. While Fouke is the nearest town to the Woods family’s property, Texarkana is the nearest city - about 15 minutes away by car. Although, technically, it's two cities - the Texas / Arkansas border goes right through it, so it has two mayors, two city councils, two zip codes, etc.

It’s ALSO the setting for one of the very first slasher flicks, The Town That Dreaded Sunrise, which was based on a true story. Hasn't come up yet, but I sure hope it does at some point. I have ideas!]


Dean heads to the pump while Matty gets snacks. Earl is slumped in front of the register, and doesn't answer when he calls out a hello. He does get up, though, silently shuffling in his direction.

[Both players: “Uh oh, zombies!” Dammit, these kids have seen too many movies already.]

Matthew - arms full of crisps and a six pack of coke - catches a weird smell; mold. He glances over at the approaching Earl, and notices that he's really shabby. Like, really shabby; his shirt is covered with all sorts of stains, and his face is pale and bloated. His eyes glint strangely in the light, and his expression is blank.

[Both players: “Yep, zombies.”]

As he shuffles closer, he tries to speak: “Commmm her… Boy…”

He coughs, gags on something, and spits it up. A clump of rubbish - bottle tops, coins, wrappers, all coated in stomach juices - splatters onto the lino floor. Then, he lunges.

Matty dives back out of reach, then gives the clerk a shove. It doesn’t do much - he's a big guy - but it gives him the time he needs; he bolts out of the gas station as fast as he can. He yells a warning to Dean, then heads straight towards the gas pump. He kicks off it and - a few well-practiced Parkour moves later - he’s scrambling up on to the store’s roof.

[Now that we’ve got Merits allocated, Matthew apparently has a whopping Parkour 5. And boy does he use it!]

Dean doesn’t know what the hell Matthew’s doing, and certainly doesn’t know what to make of the dishevelled man unsteadily lurching towards him. But then Matthew leaps off the roof, right onto Earl’s back, sending him face-first into the concrete.

“He’s gone mad!” Matthew yells, blood-pumping like a freight train. “He tried to grab me!”

Dean stumbles back, shocked, then has an idea. He runs into the store, vaults over the counter, and grabs the shotgun stashed under it.

Matthew leaps to his feet, but Earl grabs his ankle. Slurring something about wolves, he spews out a torrent of waste all over the teen’s legs.

Matthew cries out in pain; the spray burns like acid, eating through his pants leg in seconds. In retaliation, he stomps down on Earl’s head - again and again and again - but the pain in his leg in excruciating.

[They both trade 2 Lethal Damage, on top of the 2 Bashing that Earl had from the ambush.]

Dean runs out just in time to see the violence unfolding, then freezes. That feeling in the pit of his stomach is back - the burning, the twisting, the Changing. Just like the other night, he's losing control again!

“Oh god!” He chokes. “I don't want this! I don't want this!”

He looks down at the gun in his hands, and makes a decision. He points it right at his stomach and pulls the trigger!

[OK, let's pause for a sec. For starters, for anyone wondering - Dean’s Uncommon Kuruth Trigger is “see someone do lethal damage to a packmate”. Yes, technically they're not a pack yet (more on that in a minute!), but I think it makes sense that for a Kuruth trigger, it's more about “your people” than a spiritual bond. IMO, anyway.

And secondly: nope, I was NOT expecting Dean’s player to do that!!]


Blood sprays the wall behind Dean, and he slumps to the ground. He's dying. He shudders...and starts to change. Barely conscious, all he knows is pain and rage and KILL.

Both Matthew and Earl freak out. Matthew lunges for the shotgun, grabs it, and shoots Earl straight in the face. Then he runs to the car as fast as he can, diving in and hiding behind the driver's seat.

Moments later, a huge wolf-like monster slams into it, rocking it on its wheels, and claws frenziedly at the door. Matthew covers his ears, but can’t block out the howls or the screech of tearing metal. Desperate for escape, he peers out of his hiding place - and catches a glimpse of the moon.

She is fat and growing - gibbous, nearly full, and he swears he can hear drumming. It’s hypnotizing. It’s tribal. It’s primal. It’s his own blood, pumping in his chest, thumping in his ears. The moon calls to him, and the beast within answers.

A heartbeat later, the car door flies off its hinges, and two beasts lope off into the night.

----

Dean wakes up gasping. He's lying on the sidewalk, face down, in a pool of blood. He pulls himself up, trying to cover his nakedness, and sees a trail of bloody footprints (well, paw prints) trailing behind him. He follows the trail for half a block, biting down on a rising sense of dread, until he reaches a public park.

[That’d be Hobo Jungle Park, shared purely because it’s an awesome name for a park]

Matthew is sprawled out on a pile of bushes, mumbling in his sleep. Somewhere in the distance, sirens are approaching.

----

Naked and afraid, the boys sneak through the streets, hiding from every passing car. They climb into someone's backyard and steal clothes off a washing line.

Eventually, they find a pay phone and call Maggie. Dean, reluctantly, accepts that they need her help.

[OK, we’ll finish there, but I'll get the next session up shortly. Next time, they'll meet a) another werewolf, b) some spirits that aren't (necessarily) out to kill them, and c) this mysterious “Mother Mary”. Hope to see you then!]
 

NateD

Existentially indifferent
Validated User
Hey hey! More to come today, if all goes well, but in the meantime -- here's a pic I knocked up for the game!


And yes, I spent faaaaaaar too long finding suitable images for the characters. I'll post pics of some the NPCs shortly, too.
 

NateD

Existentially indifferent
Validated User
Wheeee! Validation!!

NEARLY finished the next writeup, too - it's two smaller sessions combined, so quite a lot happens!
 
Last edited:

NateD

Existentially indifferent
Validated User
Hi everyone (anyone?), Session 4 coming right up!

We’re picking up pretty much where we left off: Matthew and Dean have accepted that they can’t just run away from this, and they (sheepishly) call Maggie and ask for help. She’s relieved, rather than angry, and she says she’ll send someone to help them.

Before we get back into it, though, I have them roll to see if they lose Harmony. Why? Well, for starters, they don’t know what they did while rampaging around in Kuruth, but all the blood indicates it probably wasn’t nice. Secondly, they’re accepting that they’ve changed; that they’re not human anymore. I reckon that sounds like a good excuse for a roll, right?

Unfortunately, we completely misread the rules, and (somehow…?) thought that we had enough minuses to send us to Chance Die territory. Unsurprisingly, they both failed. I figured it all out later (and I’ll save my opinions on how hard it actually is to fail a Harmony roll some other time), but I thought I’d give it to ‘em. It’s a hard life at Harmony 9!

Anyway, on we go!

----

Chapter 4: To Grandmother’s House We Go

The boys are out in the cold. They're hiding out in someone’s front yard, dressed in other people’s clothes, cowering behind a high fence. Eventually, a car pulls up… right in front of them. It's a hunk of junk two seater, light blue with a white passenger side door, coated in a layer of dirt. Leaving it idling, a man steps out; he's in his early 30s, with shoulder length dark hair and a worn leather jacket. He looks in their direction.

“Behind the fence. I know you're there. I can smell you a mile away. Come on out.”

He introduces himself as Max: “I knew your dad”. They ask if he's going to take them to go see Mother Mary, and he seems a little amused.

“‘Mary’, huh? Yeah, somethin’ like that. Now let's get going, unless you want to meet the local cops, too?”

----

Eventually [after a fair amount of banter - the pair really like Max, which I’m pleased about], they get into the car, and Max drives them back out of town. They talk on the way, and it turns out Max is a werewolf too. He calls himself a “Stalker”, called by the New Moon. He asks when they changed, and explains to them what that means - Dean’s an Elodoth, a “Walker-Between”, and Matthew is Cahalith - “Visionary”.

They ask if they're “packmates”, now, like wolves in nature. “Are you an alpha?”

He sniggers. “You two? Maybe. That's why we’re goin’ to see Mother Mem’ry, actually. Not me, though: I'm a member of the Junkyard Dogs, here in Texarkana. I'm just… helpin’ out the neighbors.”

By the time they get where they're going, he's introduced them to the fundamentals of their new life - spirits, territory, Harmony, and a rather inhuman(e) attitude to death and killing.

“Yeah, you killed that guy. But it sounds like he was already gone, right? He wasn't human no more. Technically, though, neither are you, so whatcha gonna do? The Wolf Must Hunt.”

Dean isn't so sure, but he keeps quiet.

They leave the freeway, and the road turns to dirt. Eventually Max pulls over, and everybody piles out.

“OK, drive’s over. From here, we’re on all fours. Just do like I told you.”

Matthew and Dean do as instructed, willing power into their limbs, and the three Uratha shift into Urhan form. While their previous shifts were long and traumatic experiences, this one is fast and smooth, like dipping into a cold pool on a hot day. It feels good.

[They spend Essence, enjoying one of the benefits of being a little closer to balance. And even better: they get to keep their clothes now, too!]

Leaving the car by the side of the road, the three wolves head into the woods. Matthew pushes himself trying to outrun Max, who growls and nips each time he passes him. Eventually Matthew slows down, simply keeping pace. For now.

[We talk about some other game mechanics, including Aspirations, Blood and Bone. Amongst other things, Matthew picks “Challenger” for his Blood, and also chooses the Aspiration of “beat Max in a foot chase”. He figures that Max must be a physical badass, which is actually totally not the case, but I like it.]

----

They reach the banks of a river - Matthew recognizes it as Boggy Creek, a muddy stream that winds its way through half the county. Max takes Hishu and wades out into the water, yelling at the top of his lungs. He's talking crazy, calling out to “the great serpent”, and then he bites deep into the meat of his hand. Grunting in pain and bleeding freely, he shakes drops of blood into the water. He calls the boys in; they talk a few uneasy steps in.

“For generations,” he explains, “we've had something of a standing arrangement with the spirit of the creek. We pay it proper respect, and it gives us safe passage into the Shadow.”

He holds up his hand, the flesh of which is already knitting back together. “Doesn't even cost much!”

The creek’s weak current slows, then stops altogether. Somewhere in the distance, a frog stops mid-croak. A strange atmosphere falls over the entire area.

Max smiles, a little nervously. “I think it's here.”

Suddenly there’s a huge splash, a flurry of movement, and Max disappears beneath the water. Matthew and Dean run splash back towards the water’s edge, but something under the water grabs Dean’s ankle, tripping him up. He goes under. He kicks wildly and whatever-it-is lets go, and then he’s leaping out of the water, shifting into Dalu as he goes [and spending Essence], slashing wildly behind him. He howls in rage, swinging his massive claws at the water as if something is about to come out of it any minute. He’s starting to change again, putting on bulk and sprouting hair, but Matty [who passed his Dexterity + Athletics roll, while Dean took a Dramatic Failure for a sweet, sweet Beat] puts a hand on his shoulder.

“Wait!” He hisses. “What if that’s what Max wanted?”

While Dean is crouched at the edge of the water - still fighting to keep control over his anger - Matthew takes Dalu. He slashes

“Is this what you want? You want blood? Well, take it then!”

And with that, the bottom seems to drop out of the entire creek. The banks fall away, and Matthew dances back out of the water just in time. Dean isn’t so lucky; he slips in the shifting mud, then falls face-first into the water. It’s deep - much, much deeper that it has any right to be, and he’s pulled further and further in by the current!

[Athletics rolls are not Dean’s friend!]

Already beginning to regret his choice of action, Matthew takes a deep breath and dives in after him.

----

They’re not in Kansas anymore. That much is clear from the moment they burst up through the surface of the water. The night is darker, and full of stars - even rural Arkansas has light pollution, but here doesn’t. The moon is brighter, too, and bigger; it dominates the sky. Its mad whispers call out to Matthew, but he's too distracted to even hear right now.

[The book isn’t entirely clear on whether you can be Kuruth-Triggered by the same thing the same night, but I decided to leave it off for now. I have a sneaking suspicion that you can, though, which really screws most werewolves for a few nights each month.]


Closer to earth: the river itself is much, much wider than in the physical realm, as well as deeper. The current is stronger, too - it churns with a heartbeat-like rhythm, dragging at the two young Uratha. Not far away, Max is thrashing about in the water, wrestling weakly with a long tentacle or tail.

Paddling frantically for the shore, something else niggles at the boys’ minds: the water doesn't “feel” right, and it doesn't smell right either. As soon as they drag themselves to shore, they realise - it's not water all over them; it's blood! They're soaked through and stained red!

Looking back where they came from, they see Max disappear under the waves. Matthew, thinking quickly, runs to the nearest tree and tears off a thick branch. It's not hard - all the nearby vegetation is thin and sickly - but he is faintly horrified by the faint scream it gives when he wrenches it from the trunk. He quickly realizes that here in the Shadow, the creek is far too wide to try to fish Max out, he does one better; he uses the stick to pole vault as far as he can, then swim to where they last saw Max.

----

Dean, meanwhile, tries to summon the spirit again. Maybe, he figures, he can distract it from their fallen guide.

He cuts himself, and pours more blood into the sickly river.

“Spirit! I want to make a deal, too!”

----

Matthew reaches the churning waters where Max disappeared, and suddenly there's an explosion of water, blood and noise. A huge shape leaps out of the water, rippling and changing as it does. It's Max!

[Wouldn’t start cheering just yet…]

Matty follows him out of the water, but Max shoves him away.

“No, get away! I can't hold it in for long!”

And with that, Max falls to Death Rage.

----

In front of Dean, the river churns and bubbles, and a huge serpent rises from the waters. Two branch-like antlers sprout from its head, and its eyes glint like massive rubies. It sways as it speaks, and its mouth doesn't move.

“NO BLOOD. FLESH AND PAIN.”

Dean’s eyes widen; he doesn't know what he was expecting, but it wasn't this.

“Wh-what will you give me? I want safe passage!”

The waters move again, and then they part. It's like something out of a Charlton Heston movie.

“MARK YOUR SKIN FOR ME.”

“Just give me a second! How do I know--”

The monstrous snake cuts him off, hissing and baring fangs as long as his arm.

“CUT!” the voice demands. “NOW!”

----

Matthew takes Urhan and runs for his life. It's a difficult path - too close to the creek and he could slip on mud; too far away from it and he’ll crash into the spiny, grasping trees that seem to be reaching out for him as he passes.

He stays well ahead of Max, though...until he has an idea. He veers into the trees, runs up one, and flips over Max as he passes! Then he heads back the way he came, leading the rampaging werewolf behind him.

[I wasn't quite across the 2e chase rules yet, or I'd have had Max try to “seize the Edge”. Without that (and possibly even with), it seems that Uratha in Urhan are pretty much NEVER going to be caught by someone in Kuruth. Not sure what I think of that.]

----

Dean sees Matthew in the distance, calling out for him, and he makes up his mind to do what the spirit asks. He grits his teeth, then rakes his claws all the way down his right arm.

“MORE! SLOWER!” The river spirit hisses.

Tears stream down his face, blood pours down his arm, and finally a long strip of flesh peels off and falls into the mud. A wave of red-dimmed water washes up and drags it away.

He crosses the river just as Matthew lopes past, and he yells out to Max. He feels the moon’s pull again, and suddenly Max is collapsing, melting back into Hishu.

[Another use of the Elodoth Auspice ability FTW. Both characters fulfilled Aspirations, too: Dean for pulling someone out of Kuruth, and Matthew for outrunning Max.]

Dean looks back behind him; the waters have flowed back into place. The serpent is gone, but he can sense its presence - watching.

Max, dazed and slurring, moans: “Oh god, diiiid… did I... hurt you?”

The boys cut him off and explain what happened. He insists that the spirit has never done anything like that, and can't understand why it was so messed up [what's that I smell? Plot?]

----

They rest a while, beside the now-still creek. Dean and Matthew ask Max how he was able to fight the Rage off for so long, and he shows them a charm on a leather thong around his neck. He says that there is a Rite - a kind of magical ritual - to chain the beast for a while. It's dangerous, but worth it for a semblance of a normal life. He says that after they're done with Mother Mary, they should seek him out if they want to learn it.

He turns to Dean, specifically, and adds: “...and if she and her Tribe ain't to your liking, hit me up and we’ll talk about my people: the Iron Masters.”

----

So on their journey goes, but not for much longer. Eventually, the spirit wilds get thicker and denser, and Max stops. He points to something hanging from a tree, avoiding touching it. It looks a little like a voodoo doll made of thin, bone-like sticks strung together with what might be rope.

“See this? It’s a witch poppet. Anyone uninvited touches one of these, they'll be hopelessly lost. We’re officially at your pack’s territory, now. Sorry; I ain't goin’ any further.”

The boys both have questions: whose territory is this, exactly? (Answer: “the Wolves of the Woods. Your people, such as they are right now.”) Why won't he go any further? (Answer: “‘Cause Mother Mem’ry wouldn't like that, and that old bird is scary”.) And lastly: why did he help them? (Answer: “I… I've got my reasons. No go - Mary’s waitin’!”)

[Also: no, these aren't typos: I kept interchanging “Mother Mary” and “Mother Mem’ry” during this entire session. Why? Firstly, because it's fun to subtly mess with the players’ heads - they couldn't tell if they were mishearing me or not, which drives home the idea that they don't really know what's going on in this whole new world they find themselves in.

Secondly, her name is indeed “Mem’ry”, but Maggie didn't know that. There's a fair bit Maggie doesn't know, actually, including Mem’ry’s true nature.

(I'm guessing you’ve all figured it out - at least in general - but I won't spoil it if you haven't.)]


Before taking Urhan and loping away, Max gives the young Uratha a few final pieces of advice: “don't speak to anyone you don't need to, don't make deals you can't keep, and don't eat anything anyone offers you. And for god’s sake, if you see another werewolf - run, run for your goddamn lives.”

On the boys go, on their own now. They’re (rightly!) nervous, jumping at shadows and avoiding any strange noises or smells they come across. When it comes to it, though, they’re not sure where to go next. Just then, there’s a fluttering of wings, and a little black bird lands on a nearby branch. It hops from leg to leg, settles, then turns an eye to the Uratha.

“Caw!” It screeches. “Little wolves are lost?”

Matthew ignores it and picks up his pace, but it launches back into the air and flaps to another tree. A few moments later, a second little crow joins it, and picks at its wings with its wicked beak.

“Where are you going, pups? Scrawk!”

The first speaks again. “Yes! The Hisil is dangerous for little wolves! Scrawk! You could die!”

“Yes!” The second replies. “Die!”

Dean slows to a stop - perhaps ill-advisedly - and replies.

“We’re looking for someone. Mother… Mary? Memory?”

“Oh, Mother Mem’ry! Yes! Why do you want her?” One screeches. “Better question: does she want you?” The other adds. “Scrawk! Good question!”

Conversation continues this way for a while, as more and more birds land and join the conversation. Matthew quickly becomes frustrated with their glib replies and dark sense of humor, but Dean takes to it well. He proposes a deal, but the birds don’t want blood or pain. They want death.

After a bit more talk, it becomes clear: stories of death. “Uratha are always good for death!” One squarks. “Yum! Yum!”

----

Matthew regales the assembled birds (the tree is hunched, groaning pitifully, under the weight of all of them, now) with the story of their adventure at the gas station. They cluck, laugh and “ooh” and “ahh” appreciatively. They’re a little disappointed that the boys don’t remember what happened when they entered Death Rage, and tell them to “look us up” if they remember later.

Finally, the flock [or “murder”, I guess? ;)] takes off as one, leading the wolves deeper into the woods. Eventually they reach a clearing, where an old, ramshackle cabin sits. Matthew smells his father’s scent, and a smell he can’t quite place. Somehow, it feels like “home”, but it still carries a sense of danger. Menace, even.

There’s a rhythmic creaking coming from the shadowed porch, and then it stops. A figure hobbles into the light; an old woman, hunched over, draped in an old moth-eaten shawl.

“Ah, you’ve come!”

Her voice is no more than a labored whisper, but - somehow - it’s as strong as stone; as proud as a mighty general. And again, there’s a kind of malice to it, like there’s a monstrousness simmering just below the surface. The boys know, without a doubt, that she’s not human.

“Come in! Come in! You’ll catch your death out there!”

----

And that’s that! Phew, that was a long’un, hey?

Next time, though, we’ll be going somewhere completely different! We’re going to travel back in time a little, and see what Jamie was doing over the last few days while the boys have been killing gas station attendants and gallivanting through the spirit realm.

During that time, Jamie and her best friend Anastasia have been dealing with something much, much worse.

Junior High.
 
Last edited:

NateD

Existentially indifferent
Validated User
OK, it’s time for a brief aside into a parallel story! If you recall, Jamie - Matthew and Dean’s cousin, who has lived with Matthew since her family died in a fire - has been conspicuously absent since Session 1. Her player had things to do, as you do, and then the boys were in the Shadow and it wasn’t really practical to suddenly have Jamie show back up.

Also: her player has decided that he wants her to be an Irakka, which means we need to string her along until the new moon (Dean changed on the last night of the half-moon, and Matthew the night after). By my (intentionally fuzzy!) reckoning, the boys’ timeline is heading into a full moon.

Anyway, let’s see what Jamie has been doing.

Chapter 5: Meanwhile…

Jamie blinks, slowly, and rubs sleep out of her eyes. She’s...blurry. She doesn’t really remember much of what happened last night. There was the funeral - there was her fight with Dean, and going for a ride with Sylvie - then...something? In the stables?

Her head gets even fuzzier, and then she’s getting out of bed, heading down the stairs. She doesn’t notice Dean and Matthew’s absence. She doesn’t notice Maggie and a host of adults she doesn’t really recognize, running to and fro, looking worried. She eats her cereal quietly, then heads off to school.

[It’s a Friday (the day after the funeral and Dean’s Change, for those following along), and we’ve decided that it’s Fall. Not too long after school started back, then.]

She rides to the house of her best friend, Anastasia Redfort. While Jamie is a bit of a problem child [we’ve statted her out, now, and she’s got Fighting Finesse with a knife. Like I said: 13yo problem child.], Anna is the consummate overachiever. Her mother is a Miller County deputy, while her father is the local veterinarian. She’s shooting for being the top marks in class this year (she was just beaten out by another kid last year), and she’s either studying, running track, helping her dad with the town’s animals, or hanging out with Jamie.

[Fun fact: one of Jamie’s Aspirations is “Break a rule”; one of Anna’s is “Stop Jamie from doing something bad”. :)]

Anna and her mom are just leaving the house when Jamie pulls up. Anna’s mom, Emily Redfort, leans out of the car and kisses Anna goodbye. She greets Jamie, and asks how she’s doing since Jeremiah passed. She wasn’t at the funeral; very few people from town were.

Jamie does a lot of shrugging (“Whatevz”), but she can appreciate that they’re worried for the daughter’s friend. Jamie, for her part, is settling back into her usual mood, which is pretty dark. She keeps deflecting conversation from Jeremiah, focusing instead on her “loser city-slicker cousin”, Dean, and how he was being a jerk at the funeral [Another Aspiration: “Get revenge on Dean”].

----

They get to school. Still being the first few weeks of Middle School [they’re both 13], everybody’s still trying to find their way around, make friends, act like teens, etc. Jamie isn’t very popular - a quiet, not-very-social tomboy orphan? Sheesh! - but there are quite a few girls that want Anna to hang out with them.

She’s heard a rumor around the traps, about the toilet block that has been closed off all term. They say that someone died in there, and now it’s haunted. Some people say it was a suicide, or a murder, or a sacrifice. A lot of other people say it’s just the Year 8s trying to scare them.

----

As soon as Anna tells Jamie about it, it’s all Jamie can think of. Anna knows her well, and does everything she can to stop her from going in. Eventually, though, she’s distracted by some of the cool kids, and Jamie makes her escape. She sneaks around, breaks open the tape keeping the door shut. She cracks the door open, and is hit with a horrible smell - rotten food, mildew and shit. And maybe something else; something sweet, that tickles the back of your throat.

She hits the light switch, but the bulb flickers and makes a little “tink” sound, then it’s dead. She props the door open with the “NO ENTRY” sign [man, she’s got some ovaries!], and heads further in. In first room - the changing area - she finds old newspapers and baked beans cans piled up on the benches. The food is positively crawling with blue mold, and the newspapers are covered with all sorts of stains.

In the dark, she can’t tell if their dirt, shit, or blood.

A sinking feeling hits her stomach - “is this how I die?” - and then a kind of calm passes over her. Nah, she’ll be fine. Totally fine. She heads further in, towards the cubicles and sinks. Everything is filthy - it looks like the place hasn’t been used in months, or even years - but then she hears a noise. A bubbling. She stoops down and looks under the stalls, and then climbs onto the first toilet bowl and peeks over the top of the others: nothing, except the stall at the end. It’s overflowing, dirty brown water bubbling up and over the rim.

She can’t explain it, but she feels drawn to it. She takes one step, then another, then another, and then she’s right in front of it. She’s bending down, reaching a hand towards the overflowing bowl. There’s something swimming about in there. A lamprey-like face, just under the surface of the water, mouth opening outwards towards her extended fingers...

[And her player is horrified. “No! She has to snap out of it!” A Willpower roll (plus 3 dice for PLOT REASONS), and she passes.]

She feels something like a wave of ice-cold water washing down her back, and she snaps out of it. She shuffles backwards as fast as she can, bumping into the sink behind her. She spins around, and sees that the mirror has fogged up. Long, thin letters have been written in the mist:

“GET OUT NOW”.

Then, her head goes fuzzy again, and she feels like she’s going to pass out - until the bell goes off. Lunch break’s over.

----

Anna shares classes with Jamie all afternoon, and she grows increasingly worried about her friend. She’s in a weird funk - a kind of dazed, dreamy zone - and she’s doodling in the back of her notebook. That’s not unusual; she’s quite the artist, drawing pictures of demons, superheroes and so on, but today she’s on a different bent.

Her latest picture looks like it was drawn by a five year old; it’s a stick-figure version of her, with a big smile, riding a horse on a rainbow. Underneath it, in bubble writing, is the word “love”.

She tries to say something to her, but then her teacher asks a question that she totally knows the answer to, so she leave it off for now.

[And now that I think of it, I should’ve given her a Beat for that - she’s working towards her Aspiration of “Finish at the top of the class”, at risk to her friend. I think her player needs a bit more encouragement to be proactive in the game, though, rather than hang back and “do the right thing”, even though that is kind of her character’s schtick. Personally, I really wanted her to go into the bathroom after her, but she refused.]

After school, they go back to Anna’s house. Curiously, Maggie doesn’t call to tell her to hurry on home, so Jamie stays for dinner (pizza, because something came up and Mrs Redfort had to work late). Eventually, Mr Redfort gets a phone call, then tells Jamie that he’ll drop her back home. He tells Anna to stay home.

It’s a bit of an awkward ride, but at least it’s short.

As soon as they pull up outside Woods’ farmhouse, though, Jamie can tell something is wrong. The front door is off its hinges, leaning up against the doorframe. Maggie’s truck isn’t out front. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, and it’s never good. She mumbles a thank you, gets her bike out of the back, and tries to go in as quickly as possible. Mr Redfort stops her, tries to talk to her - but then Maggie’s on the scene, thanking him and politely seeing him off as quickly as possible.

A few minutes later, they’re both at the kitchen table. Jamie notices the huge, jagged claw marks dug into it, and runs her fingers over it as Maggie struggles over her words. The way she tells it, something happened, and Matthew and Dean will be going away for a while. It’s nothing to worry about - just “family business” - but she mustn’t talk to anyone else about it. Especially not the police.

“It won’t do draggin’ the family name through the mud, now will it?”

“But they’re safe, honey,” she continues, trying to comfort her niece. “They’re just...going through changes, and we need to look after ‘em while that happens. It’s like what happened with your brother--”

She freezes. Her eyes widen, then her face scrunches up like she bit a lemon, and then she frantically backpedals.

“I mean, with the accident all those years ago, we just need to keep on keepin’ on, yeah?”

“Keep on keepin’ on.”

----

And that’s where we left it! Jamie and Anna (who I need to get a little bit more involved next time) are having their own brushes with the supernatural (a little slower, a little more circumspect, for now), and Maggie is determined to keep them out of the boys’ business.

(And on that note, Jamie thinks there’s something she isn’t being told about her family’s death all those years ago (OF COURSE there is.))

Sooooo, next time: would you prefer the next installment of Jamie and Anna’s story, or would you like to return to Matthew and Dean?
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom