Thursday, April 27, 2017

Aeon D-Team S01E05 – Fun Guy

Dramatis Personae
  • Eddie (played by +Ignus Pyre): 6’, 180 lbs. Outwardly disheveled looking, but his scruffy furs hide high quality gear underneath. Fairly average looking with reddish brown hair and a bit of stubble. Carries an enormous backpack but doesn’t seem too slowed by it, despite a slight limp, a pulls a trailer behind him made from the rear end of an old ford mustang. Honest, forthright and reliable, but won’t speak too much about his past. He seems to have a sixth sense for monsters and the dark fog.
  • Jacob “Doc” (played by +Asta Kask): 6’, 150 lbs. Kinda lanky with leathery, weathered skin and greying hair, offset by piercing blue eyes. He’s compassionate, responsible, and very careful with his words. Dreams of building a place where metahumans can live unprosecuted. Has some healing powers. Followed by a 45 pound cat, that flies and leaves a rainbow trail behind it. Yes, really.
  • Kurst “Kurt” Vetrson (played by +Antoni Ten Monrós): 6’ 4’’, 110 lbs. Wears layers and layers of clothing, but underneath them he’s anorexically thin and very pale. He always feels slightly cold to the touch, but despite the layers isn’t actually bothered by the cold. Young and usually speaks fairly coarsely. Absolutely hates wendigo. Has ice powers that he doesn’t like to use because they’re not fully under his control. Good with a bow.
  • Dr. Nicodemus "Nick" Faust (played by +Hal Batty): 6’ 4’’, 180 lbs. Tall and lean. Flaming red hair, chalk white skin, and coal black eyes. Also literally inhumanly attractive, and his charms work on men and women alike. Wears a dark charcoal suit with crimson waistcoat and cravat, with a long black overcoat, even in the midst of a blizzard. Has an arrogant smile on his lips, only offset by an intensity to his eyes. Master of magic
  • King the Maine Coon (NPC Ally): a huge Maine Coon cat (almost 50 lbs. and 4.5 ft long) that can fly/hover (leaving a trail of rainbow colored light), go "boneless," shoot lazers from its eyes, ignore a structure's ceilings and floors (but not its walls), and other more interesting abilities. He can haz cheezburger.

The session begins with the team driving down the road in our big 'ole humvee when suddenly Alexander falls unconscious. I immediately try to detect magic, but get nothing. Jacob makes a diagnosis check and determines that he's fallen into a coma. We tell Maria, and she says he wasn't ready to come out of the clone tank we pulled him out of, he needs to get back to a facility ASAP.

On the Road Again
Doc, Eddie,  Kurst, and Nick
Somewhere in North Dakota, 11° F moderate snow and light winds
January 31st, 37 AB, 5:00 pm

Then we realise we're out of fuel, Alexander had been concentrating non-stop to transmute a load of snow into fuel and keep it like that. We look around for any fuel and astonishingly (thank you probability dice) we find an abandoned fuel tanker at the side of the road.

We all immediately get out paranoia on, Kurst checks for traps, Faust just remains at a safer distance. Turns out it's not trapped, but there is a small chance the whole thing will explode. Faust goes to a safer distance.

Kurst checks the driver, he's got a hole in his head, Jacob determines this is probably the cause of death. Kurst then starts syphoning fuel while Maria sets up a sniper nest on top of the humvee. Eddie checks out the fuel and finds it's kinda dirty, refined post-apocalypse, but it'll work. At this point, I finally decide to be useful and find a load more fuel cans, a medical kit, and some ammo in the tanker (the magic of really high Scrounging). Eddie raids the engine for parts, (getting about $500 dollars worth).

Christopher makes us roll Freight Handling to put all this in the humvee (Like a jackass. No one ever has Freight Handling.) Fortunately, Eddie makes a convincing argument he'd have it from his previous career and gets to spend a couple of points in it.

Jacob says the driver's final rites with Faust and Eddie joining in, Faust with a somewhat amused expression. Kurst shies away from this.

The Fungus Among Us
Doc, Eddie,  Kurst, and Nick
Somewhere in North Dakota, 7° F clear skies
February 1st, 37 AB, 5:00 pm
Minot Air Force Base

We finally pull into the military compound we were heading towards, and discover the place looks like a warzone. There's no one here now, but it's been stripped. Fortunately, there are still some tanks here we can grab the tracks from and attach to our humvee. We decide after much debate not to also add a howitzer.

After some investigating, it seems like the buildings were pulled in on themselves. We go our separate ways with Eddie going to work on the truck, Kurst to patrol for Wendigo, Jacob to look for supplies, and Faust to do whatever it is Faust does.

While working on the truck, Eddie sees an image of his little boy, coming up to ask him to play. He turns to his son, reaches out to stroke his cheek. Then, heart breaking, he turns away, knowing this can't be real.

Jacob sees his wife, and his house, she's sat painting in her usual spot. He tells himself it's not real, and head outside. Then feels a hand on his shoulder, and looks up to see his wife offering him a glass of lemonade. He goes back inside with her, to rest.

Kurst watches Jacob come outside, hears him talking to himself, and realises something is wrong. He follows them into the building and sees Jacob slumped on the ground. Suddenly a frond whistles past his head. He looks up and sees a strange fungus clinging to the ceiling.

We cut to Faust, who suddenly recognises a smell that's been lingering here since they arrived. An occult fungus. He quickly begins creating an antidote for its spores, but he's missing a vital ingredient, a nodule found in the fungus itself.

Kurst carries Jacob outside, while over at the humvee, Eddie begins to feel tired and fall asleep. Kurst cries out for help. Faust hears him, but, being Faust, ignores him, continuing to work on the potion. He also sees Richard get dragged under the humvee, followed by some colorful flashes and meows.

Hearing a slithering behind him, Kurst begins to run towards Faust, still carrying Jacob. He dumps him at my feet, and turns to see a strange oozing creature sliding towards him. He power stunts for area effect, then slams a freezing binding on it. It rolls a critical success to resist, but he spends two Karma to beat it. His tattoos glow blue, and the temperature around him drops as ice begins to creep over the fungus.

Faust gets up from his potion and thanks Kurst for delivering the final ingredient to his lap. He holds out his hand for a knife, and Kurst hands him a strange, golden one.

Faust strolls over to the creatures and, rolling a 3, manages to cut out the nodule without getting so much as a single speck of fungal ooze on his pristine suit. He flicks the nodule off his knife, catches it with a spark of magic and sends it into the potion, before tossing the knife back to Kurst. He then pours the potion into Jacob's mouth.

While this is going on, Eddie wakes up to find King licking him all over. He walks over to wear Faust is standing, and absent-mindedly places a fungal slime-coated hand on my shoulder. While he looks down at Jacob and berates him for not having enough control over his cat.

Without moving, Faust coldly tells Eddie to look 45 degrees to his left and asks him what's the problem with what he sees.


'Your hand. My shoulder. Covered in slime.'

'Oh, I'm sorry. I'll get it out, I have cleaning equipment.'

(He really does, Eddie is ludicrously prepared)

While the coat is magically protected, the ooze is also magic, so it will stain if not cleaned properly.

Meanwhile, Jacob is having a very heartfelt moment about how he had to have his wife torn away from him again. Faust is far more concerned with the state of his coat.

Eddie goes back to work on the truck, while Kurst and King go around killing remaining slimes. Faust stays by the truck and lets Eddie know what he's doing wrong, but he roll a 4, so for once it was actually wrong.

Kurst is hungry, so Faust pulls out 5 sets of MREs from magical extradimensional storage, and he wolfs them down.

Not having spent a single point of Karma thus far, Eddie decides to spend it all to put the tracks on the humvee in just 20 hours, while somehow making the whole thing bigger.

We manage to scrounge up a few more fuel cans, along with some miscellaneous bits and pieces.

During all this Maria has found, and packed an SUV with a load of stuff. She gives us a radio, plus a map dotted with notes telling us about various Crucible bases we can stop at for supplies. She then drives off into the sunset with Alexander to get him to a clone tank.

Before we drive off ourselves, Kurst uses a spray-can to write plague on the side of one of the buildings, and hopefully, stop anyone else from putting themselves in danger. We finish there.

After Action Report (Hal)
This was a fun setting. Writing it out, I realise how much of a jackass Faust sounds. Somehow it works though. Probably because while he takes himself extremely seriously, I certainly don't
After Action Report (Christopher)
This session was the last and after some problems beyond my control it became the last one and the "mid-season break."

Session Soundtrack
"All Along The Watchtowers (Instrumental)" by The Forest Rangers ft Gabe Witcher (as the session "opening song")
"Black Planet" by the Sisters of Mercy
"Five Years" by David Bowie
"The Day the World Went Away" by Nine Inch Nails
"Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones (as the session "closing song")

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

GURPS101: Just Stopped Off for a Pint

GURPS has several disadvantages to create characters that feed off of blood. Today I'm going to talk about a few.

Feeds on Blood as a Dependency
Being dependent on blood (any blood) will be considered a Very Common rarity and thus costing -5 points as a base. Human blood would be considered the same, but  illegal (without a license) and thus costs -10 points as a base.Adding the interval modifier gets you how often you need your dose . . . but what does that mean? Let's say you have Dependency (Human Blood; Illegal, Daily) [-30] - that means you need to ingest human blood every day or suffer 1 HP per hour after missing a daily dose . . .but how much blood do you need? A taste? A spoonful (of blood helps the undeath go round, the undeath go roundddd, the undeath go round). Seriously, though - how much? It's totally up to the GM I guess. I suggest using a variation of Addiction for those categories:

  • Rare (more than 0.5% of average starting wealth)
  • Occasional (up to 0.1% of average starting wealth)
  • Common (up to 0.5% of average starting wealth)
  • Very Common (up to 0.01% of average starting wealth)

Since most wholesale human blood is about $200 to $300 per 1 unit (a bag, or 500 ml or about 17 fluid ounces) of blood (give or take) that means our vampire in the previous example needs about 500 ml of blood per day to stay healthy. If he doesn't get it then he starts taking 1 HP of injury every hour until he does and the damage stops and he can start to heal again.

Feeds on Blood as Draining
A strict reading of Draining makes it seem like Dependency - but a bit different. Use the roles there for determining the value, but if you feed on your required substance you start healing.

Feeds on Blood as Restricted Diet
This one is probably one of the easier things to calculate because we already know how much food a human needs (about 2 lbs. to 3 lbs.). First, we need to figure out how much blood a human body has. The maximum amount of blood in a human body can vary with the size and weight. In general, 7% of body weight is in blood along. The density of blood on average is 1.06 grams/ml. So, for example, if a person weighs 185 lbs., in kilograms this converts to about 84 kg body size. Taking 7% of this gives 5.87 kg of blood. Since blood has a density 6% greater than water, this gives a total of 5.54 liters of blood, or 11.7 pints.

Using the rules for determining a person’s ST based on their weight we get the following formula:

Volume of Blood in Pints = (Character Weight)/15

Continuing this, loss of 20% of your blood by volume causes hypovolemic shock. Loss of more than 30% requires a transfusion and anything over 40% is fatal unless the subject is rapidly treated.

Using that formula we can then figure how much blood loss you might have suffered from damage (or how much damage you suffer for a given amount of blood loss).

Damage from Blood Loss = 90 x (HP) x (Blood Loss Volume) x (Average Weight)/(Character Weight in pounds)

Blood Lost in Pints = (Damage from Blood Loss) x (Character Weight in Pounds)/(90 x (Character HP))

For example, if a target weighs 200 lbs. and has 12 HP then the total volume of blood in pints is 13.33 pints. So if he takes 8 points of damage the number of pints he’s lost is: (8 points of damage) ¥ (200 lbs.)/(90 x (12)) = 1.5 pints – about 11% of the total blood – enough to send him into shock! If that same man were to lose 5 pints of blood, he would have taken about 27 points of damage (90 x (12) x (5 pt.)/(200 lbs.)).

Picking Over the Bones
There are other ways to represent a "craving for blood" such as Addiction or Uncontrollable Appetite - but those are just that. A craving. Dependency, Draining, and Restricted Diet represent a need. A hunger that has consequences if not satiated. I personally went with Dependency for my upcoming multi-group campaign "The Chronicles of Ceteri" because that was what was best for fluff.

A big shout out to my Headhunters who helped me get the math of some of this right.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Designer's Notes: Crafting Imbuements


This article gestated for a long time - I first began exploring the concept after a conversation on the forums in 2015.

The idea was fairly simple: have a set of imbuement skills that let you create common boosts for powerful weapons, armor, or tools.

I am not too proud to say that it took me a good year to figure out how to work that concept as a skill. I actually created two other systems so that I could get a general idea for what I wanted first with powers and then I used the second system to turn powers into skills. That was . . . not easy and I'm still working on making it into something that could be publishable.

All that aside, Crafting Imbuements was fun to write and extremely satisfying. To go from a 40ish word post and turn it into something that other gamers could use produces a warm feeling in the belly of a writer.

All in all it took me about 200 hours to write, 90 hours to edit, 150 hours worth of research (mostly in the fact that I had to sketch out a system to create a system to create a system), and 160 hours of revision. I spent a further 20 hours looking over the preliminary PDF for any issues and revising. To date, this is probably the most time I've ever sunk on a Pyramid article (about 15.5 40-hour work weeks).

I had several outtakes due to space and other concerns.

Adjustable Gear
General; IQ/VH
Default: Specialty for related skill at same penalty as skill default.
Prerequisite: Imbue 1.

This skill causes the item to grow or shrink up to any size within the size modifier of the being it was made for. For example, SM 0 leather armor is "one size fits all" as long as you are SM 0. This adds +2 CF.

Modifiers: -2 per band of difference it can shrink (e.g., -2 lets a SM 0 shirt fit a SM -1 or SM +1 being); -2 for rigid or metal armor, -4 for both. -4 if the item covers all hit locations.

Quick-Draw Gear
General; IQ/VH
Default: Specialty for related skill at same penalty as skill default.
Prerequisite: Imbue 1.

This skill allows gives you a +1 to Fast-Draw rolls to ready the item in question. This adds +1 CF.

Modifiers: -1 per +1 to Fast-Draw rolls. Add a -5 if the item automatically jumps into you hand. -5 if the item cannot normally be used with Fast-Draw; the GM decides which speciality the item uses.

Restricted Gear
General; IQ/VH
Default: Specialty for related skill at same penalty as skill default.
Prerequisite: Imbue 3.

This skill makes it so that the item can only be used by a specific person or one who is "worthy" of it (the GM/crafter decides exactly what this means and any criteria ). This adds +4 CF. This results in a -10 to all operation rolls to use it or counts as being a weight equal to 101 x the Basic Lift of the person trying to use it making it impossible for him to lift. The GM should ruthlessly forbid the use of such items as a way to trap targets - if they are not trying to use it neither of these effects apply and they can get out from underneath it. If the GM wants to allow such shenanigans then the base CF becomes +49 CF.

Modifiers: -1 if it it can only be used by a small group (such a family or bloodline), -2 if it can be used by only a specific race or those from a specific place, -3 if it can be used only by those of a specific nationality, religion, or race, -5 if it comes with a password that allows it to be used by anyone who possesses it.

Shifting Gear
General; IQ/VH
Default: Specialty for related skill at same penalty as skill default.
Prerequisite: Imbue 2.

This skill turns one item into another and allows it to shift between two shapes. This takes 10 seconds, but requires no other rolls. This adds a fixed rate to the base cost of the object multiplied by the difference in weight of the objects. This cost is equal the most expensive shape it can turn into plus 80% of all other forms. For example, if you had a dagger ($20, 0.25 lbs.) that turned into a silver ring ($115, 0.1 lbs.), the cost would be $462.50. This is derived from 100% of the cost for the ring ($115) plus 80% of the cost of the dagger ($16) multiplied by the difference in weight (0.25 / 0.1 = 2.5%), or $327.50. Adding $327.50 and $135 we get the final price of $462.50.

Modifiers: -1 per second shaved off the time to shift. At 1 second to shift (-9) you can add a further -2 to make the shift instant.

Summonable Gear
General; IQ/VH
Default: Specialty for related skill at same penalty as skill default.
Prerequisite: Imbue 3.

This skill makes it so that if you lose your gear it will find its way back to you. The GM will have to adjudicate how this happens but it is not overtly mystical. For example, if you were disarmed you'd find the sword at your feet or otherwise nearby where you can get it. Assume this takes 1d-3 (minimum of 1) seconds to retrieve it. This is adjusted for circumstances. FOr example, if it's stolen from you this might become minutes or hours or if you drop it over a rope bridge into a river, it might take days or weeks. Regardless, it will return. This adds +4 CF.

Modifiers: -5 if it can actually move, roll, slither back to you; -10 if it can fly toward you, or -20 if it teleports.  For ground-based movement assume that half the crafter's effective imbuement skill is its ground move, for air-move assume that it's the effective imbuement skill. Add a -1 per 2 points of additional move added (or 4 for air-based movement). 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Save vs. Spectate

Over at RPGJutsu my buddy +GodBeastX brings up a great point - a point he brought up while we were doing construction on the new GURPS campaign I plan on running in May. The thought here is this: if you are running a Horror campaign as I plan on doing you kind of have to use Fright Checks. That's at least part of the point of running such a game. The problem doesn't really unfold until you run a campaign that mixes genres. For example, The Chronicles of Ceteri (my new campaign) is basically a mix of the horror, urban fantasy, and action genres. With the first two it might be totally acceptable to say "Sorry, you see the Ineffable Beast from Beyond and now you've fainted. You're out of this combat." The third...not so much.

So how do you deal with "Save vs. Spectate" attacks? First, decide if you want to the Fright Check table at all. If you don't. Simplify it. Perhaps, if you fail you are stunned for seconds equal to your margin of failure. Or maybe every point of your margin of failure translates into an affliction worth +10% which lasts a second. Optionally, for the latter you could convert each +10% into an additional two rounds of being afflicted. For example, if you failed your Fright Check by four you could say "My guy is grossed out by what he saw so I'm going to be nauseated for two rounds." This allows the GM to have fear be meaningful in a mechanical way, while not forcing players to watch others participate in the game.

Another way might be to use my rules from "Mad as Bones" (if you have them - I plan on releasing them again to Patreons - probably next month) and have Fright Checks cause Sanity Point loss.

Yet a third option could be to just inflict penalties on all rolls. For example, every three points of your margin of failure might inflict a -1 on all rolls. You could optionally reduce the margin needed for a penalty by specializing it. Use the rules for Aspected here: "I failed by six, so I could take a -2 on all rolls or a -4 on combat related rolls, or even a -6 on all Will rolls."

Picking Over the Bones
Whatever way you do it, you need to keep one thing in mind: the players. If the players are forced to watch the game progress while others get to have play . . . that's going to cause some issues. I know some of you old school players are like "In my day we took our sanity-blasting medicine and liked it!" but the games have changed since then. The players have changed since then. The GMs have changed too. The purpose of a game system should always be to facilitate fun first. If it isn't fun why are you doing it?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Chronicles of Ceteri - A-Team - S00E09 - Given Up for Dead, Part I

Dramatic Personae
  • Annalise "Annie" M. Murphy (played by +Ann LS): Exorcist extraordinaire, sorcerer, psychic, twice cursed and twice blessed monster hunter. Ex-Gladius Dei. The Murphy. Talks to God, sometimes He talks back.
  • Dr. Francesco "Frankie" Novella (played by +Troy Loy): Doctor and accidental hero. Surgeon with a shotgun. Unflappable. Logical. Sometimes literal. No sense of humor. Always capable.
  • Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal aka Al MacLannageal (played by +Christian Gelacio): Man out of time. The Last Templar Knight. Warrior. Scholar. Sorcerer. Carries the Blood of Solomon and is the benighted grandchild of Brigid.

It's been a few months since the dust-up with the unseelie and attracting the attention of of Bradley Bradshaw (an annoying cop with a grudge against Annie's family). Having spent a lot of time in training with Scáthach the team is learning to work together as one unit. Annie has also been training with Niallan to sharpen her sword work since by being Erin's official guardian she's going to get dragged into faerie politics at some point or other. Moreover, Scáthach has been helping to get Frankie into shape since while he's an excellent marksmen, he's lacking a bit in the melee weapons department.

What About Bob?
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Abandoned Warehouse
Friday, October 29th, 1999, 3:00 pm
290 ES Warren Street, Roxbury, MA 02119

Annie is drawn to the warehouse where they found Erin playing some months ago and brings the others. They find a short fat man running away from two lesser demons (sometimes called “soldier demons”) and the sound of gunfire can be heard from within the warehouse. Al pulls his bow, Iarrthóir Croí1, and fires two arrows from it hitting each demon in the heart and dropped them. When he turns, they recognize him as the clerk from the convenience store that Alvin was trapped in with all the hellhounds surrounding him.

He tells them his partner is inside and then promptly faints. Ronan drags him back to the car and the rest cautiously go forward. Annie and Frankie move in and find the security guard from the museum in tactical gear and shooting a MAC-10 (and missing) at a demon with a cheap knock-off katana in the other hand. Annie banishes the demon he’s fighting as it gets sucked back into hell and Frankie moves in, locks onto the warlock that they’d been warned about and blows the guys head off with a single shot. The rest of the demons are dispatched quickly and Bob (the ex-clerk) wakes up, pronounces he isn’t cut out for monster hunting, and leaves. 

Reilly (the ex-security guard) is chastised for trying to fight so many demons on his own by Al, but Annie offers to have him come with them back to the Heights. He accepts and Annie leaves Ronan to clean up the mess after she blesses the ground. Al attaches a warding to the warehouse's structure to keep out all demons as a secondary measure. Before leaving she notices that the warlock's circle uses a few archaic Etruscan symbols – symbols popular by Stygian Circle summoners.

I Reilly, Reilly Do
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
The Shadowed Heights
Friday, October 29th, 1999, 5:00 pm
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

Back at the Heights, Reilly tells them about how two years ago he had a vision of an angel whisper to him and showed him that demons were real. That he had a place in the world and that he should seek out the minions of Hell wherever they were and send them back. Reilly, a trust fund child, donated all of it to charity except a small amount to outfit himself and live modestly in a small apartment in Dorchester. From there he began to look up everything he could find on demons and even killed quite a few successfully (somehow).

Annie scans him with her Othersight and actually sees the angel (Bathḳol) whispering prophecies into his ear. She stares at Annie in shock, but when she realizes who it is goes back to her job. Annie then offers to train him and he grudgingly accepts after she shows him his “kung fu” is . . . not so good. She further informs him that his “dreams” are not dreams, but prophecies from on High and he admits he has been writing them down because he has a terrible memory. Annie decides to warn the other members of the Pax alliance and calls Niallan and informs him that Millicent is probably in the area along with a cell of the Stygian Circle and asks him to send Erin over so they can meet Erik at his longhouse.

Bards R Us
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Clan Kveldsongr Longhouse
Friday, October 29th, 1999, 7:00 pm
Langlee Island, Boston, MA 02171

Despite wanting to warn him of the Circle being in town, Annie and Erin have been preparing a birthday gift for Erik – a song in the style of an edda of old along with a cask of honey mead, made in the old ways. Recruiting her whole fianna2, Annie speaks in verse, while Al-Shams harmonizes behind her in his triple harmony (a gift from his grandmother), Frankie dances with a blade on the stage miming the actions of the edda, Erin strums her guitar, and Ronan whistles along. Their impromptu performance stuns the audience of over 800 werewolves and moves the Clan chief of Kveldsongr to tears as he sees his life recounted for him in his such detail. Annie introduces Erin to Erik (a mouthful!) and he offers to let her be his skald whenever she desires. 

The festivities are broken up as Markus “White-Eyes” Cosrahn of Clan Haugaldr announces his presence to the local pack and asks permission to stay for a few days. The “grave wolves” are reviled by all, but by the law they are still members of the Clans and Erik has to allow them to stay for at least a few days. Ronan, drunk on mead belligerently calls out Cosrahn in a attempt to make him break the peace so he can slaughter him outright. Cosrahn wisely leaves and the fianna smell a rat.

Mmm, Tastes Like Chicken
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Stygian Circle Cell
Friday, October 29th, 1999, 8:30 pm
151 Milk St, Boston, MA 02109

Annie gets Ronan, Al, and Frankie head out to the streets to town over some rocks and see what crawls out while she calls out to Between for any spirits who were killed and eaten. She asks it to show her what happened and Annie confirms that a band of werewolves broke into the man’s (Samuel Hollandt) home and ate him, while leaving his little girl and wife alive later on to “snack on” and brutalize. Annie offers the spirit vengeance if it’ll but tell her where its house is.

Meanwhile, Ronan, Al, and Frankie come across Billy Joe Boone, a cowardly vampire who says something "interesting” after threatening to stake him a few times he calls a friend who did a favor for some “creepy ass necromancers” and leads them to an abandoned deli in downtown where Billy Joe’s friend brought some “supplies” (corpses). Annie leaves Ronan there watch the building and to pick apart its wards and slip inside while she hunts down the Haugaldr wolves in Brookline.

Heads Will Roll
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Haugaldr Clan Den
Friday, October 29th, 1999, 9:00 pm
46 Oakland Rd, Brookline, MA 02445

Annie calls up Alvin and they along with Al, Frankie, Reilly, and her dog – Murchu – head to Sam’s house. Annie performs an experimental spell that empowers Sam, but at a price. He can manifest and do any number of Inbetweener tricks3, but at a terrible cost. The longer the spell lasts the more of his “soul” it eats up. Sam is willing to do anything to save his wife and little girl. 

After the spell is finished, he possesses his little girl (which she willingly allows) and discovers his wife has been eaten. He then begins to telekinetically crush the werewolves that were eating his wife as Annie launches an assault upstairs. Shrouding, she breaks the fianna in two and Frankie and Al approach the house from the parking area, while she, Murchu, and Reilly enter through the door. 

The fighting is intense and brutal and Annie and the others are literally bathed in the blood of their foes, but after nearly a minute of fighting over 77 varou lay dead and Annie presents Cosrahn’s head to Erik and tells him to warn all other Haugaldr Clan that they are no longer welcome in Boston. So angry at what happened to those under her protection she puts a $25,000 bounty on all Haugaldr from that point on. 

Outside, Alvin has killed over half of the werewolves with claymore mines and well-placed sniper fire. Erik offers to clean up the mess for her (which she accepts). Ronan calls to tell her that the entire cell of Stygians have gated out. He’s sure they didn’t know he was there and Annie assumes that Cosrahn had contacted them somehow. She tells him to head to the Heights where the rest of the fianna go to regroup and figure out what there next plan is.

After Action Reports/Game Notes
Bringing back the first bad guy and mixing it up with a little of the nauseating Haugaldr made for a very satisfying game. The players were entertained because they got to blow stuff up and shoot at things, I was happy because that actually advanced the plot forward in a very meaningful way. It also was the first edict that Annie's player handed down as "the Murphy." Overall, a great game.

1Iarrthóir Croí is one of the few precious treasures that Goibhniu created after the Formian-Sidhe wars, and was bid to do so by Brigid herself (who also helped in its creation, being no smith of small skill) for her grandson, Al-Shams mac Lannageal after he lost his entire family in a fire set by a roving band of vampires. Iarrthóir Croí means “Heart Seeker,” and that is one of the things it does best. Gilded in silver and glittering with jewels, the bow is a prize beyond compare in the right hands as it mystically seeks out the heart of its target with every arrow fired. More than that, it can shift its form into both a stave and spear and has a aim so true that arrows loosed from it will seek its targets out even if they try to outrun it. It can also assume the shape of a small wooden orb that only its wielder can command into one of its weapon forms.
2An Irish war band. Annie didn’t originally think of her allies like this, but Scathach’s repeated uses of the word has rubbed off.
3Telekinesis, possession, temperature control, etc.

Session Soundtrack
"Duality" by Bayside (opening song)
"That Old Black Magic" by Frank Sinatra
"Jesus Walks" by Kanye West (when Annie sees the angel whispering prophecy in Reilly's ear)
"Burn My Shadow" by Unkle (during the assault on the Haugaldr stronghold
"My Hands" by Leona Lewis (closing song)

The Chronicles of Ceteri - A-Team - S00E08 - Silent as the Dead, Part III

Dramatic Personae
  • Annalise "Annie" M. Murphy (played by +Ann LS): Exorcist extraordinaire, sorcerer, psychic, twice cursed and twice blessed monster hunter. Ex-Gladius Dei. The Murphy. Talks to God, sometimes He talks back.
  • Dr. Francesco "Frankie" Novella (played by +Troy Loy): Doctor and accidental hero. Surgeon with a shotgun. Unflappable. Logical. Sometimes literal. No sense of humor. Always capable.
  • Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal aka Al MacLannageal (played by +Christian Gelacio): Man out of time. The Last Templar Knight. Warrior. Scholar. Sorcerer. Carries the Blood of Solomon and is the benighted grandchild of Brigid.

After grabbing an ogre from a construction site to interrogate, the PCs head back to the Heights to recoup and recover from their battles.

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
The Shadowed Heights

Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 4:00 pm
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

After letting their “guest” stew for a bit, Annie and Frankie go to the detention cell to see the ogre and what information they can glean from him. He proves a difficult customer and after he tells Annie he’s going to “skull fuck” her she breaks every bone in his right hand, then switches to the left. nearly thirty minutes she finds out that Jan sent them after her and her allies because Reinhardt thought that they knew where the musician was. After breaking the other hand for spite she manacles the creature fully and goes to share the information with both Ronan and Al who had been making more of his “Works” bullets upstairs.

Surprisingly, they make a good team and do in a hour what takes Ronan around four to finish. After a quick powwow in the kitchen they decide to go see the first victim’s home – Marley Hopewell and see what his shade can tell them.

To Be Mourned and Say No More
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Marley Hopewell’s Wake

Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 5:00 pm
54 Burroughs St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Once at the Hopewell residence Annie and Ronan (who is incorporeal) go inside. Annie pretends to be one of Marley’s friends from school. Meanwhile, Al and Frankie wait outside in the Duisenberg. Annie introduces herself to the grieving parents and in a moment of compassion composes a eulogy on the spot and then asks them to pray with her. Her simple prayer is so powerful that her angelic patron, Sariel the Archangel hears her. Moments later “Father Sarafino” of the Boston archdiocese comes to give his condolences (again) to the family. 

Annie asks to go see Marley’s room one more time and the parents, in tears, agree. Father Sarafino follows her up the stairs and as they climb he expresses his sadness over the boy’s death and warns Annie that she cannot allow Jan Reinhardt to die or the future will “become more difficult.” He also tells her that “if I were to advise you on this matter – and I’m not – I’d say look for the glass slipper by midnight.” She nods and he turns around conjuring a hymnal in his hands as he turns the corner. 

Upstairs Ronan and the boy speak softly on the bed. When Annie enters, the new shade is in tears and asks her if he is “really dead.” She nods sadly and explains that he didn’t deserve what he got – but people rarely do. She promises to set things right and begs him to move on. He agrees, but before he goes, he asks her to take care of his parents and to tell them to go back to the Cabin in Maine where they planted the ash tree the day he was born. He also asks her to return his best friend Jo-Jo’s Dungeons and Dragons books to him and then disappears as a shaft of purest light envelops him and he ascends to Heaven. 

Grabbing the books, she goes and tells his parents that she remembered him talking about going back to the cabin, gives them a hug, and tells them goodbye. On her way out the door she sees a flyer for DJ Boom Kitty’s Spectacular Seaside Spectacle.

Outside both Frankie and Al notice someone watching them from the shadow of a nearby house and when they confront it, it bursts into a murder of crows and flies away. Al believes it to be a sluagh spying on them and offers to barter with it. Surprisingly it flies back to him and lands on the hood of the car. The monstrous crow opens its beak and speaks (most disturbingly) in a raspy human voice. 

After a bit of back and forth and a slightly nervous Frankie the crow shifts into a human form – that of a beautiful grey-eyed, black-haired maiden. Realizing his mistake, Al bows to the woman as he realizes she is Scáthach the Warrior Maid and trainer of Cú Chulainn. In good faith, he bargains with her offering her the secrets of qeres, going so far as to offer her a sample so she knows he’s capable of making it. Being a contemporary of Airmid and no slouch in herbal concoctions, she agrees to tell him what he wishes to know (where the mysterious musician is and their name). 

Scáthach informs Al-Shams that this is not a equal gift and instead bargains to train him and give him a single favor owed (in the form of a crow feather). Afterward she drags him off to the house whose shadow she was hiding in to “seal the bargain,” but leaves him on his back before he can reach his own pleasure. Annie nearly bangs the door down telling them they have to leave to go to a strip joint called “The Glass Slipper.” 

A crow lands at Al’s feet with a piece of parchment with a picture of DJ Boom Kitty – a young girl no older than 16 named Erin Tally. Obviously half-fae, the girls features look extremely familiar . . . after staring a few minutes Annie realizes the girl looks a lot like Niallan, which leads her to why Reinhardt wants her so badly.

If The Shoe Fits . . .
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
The Glass Slipper

Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 6:00 pm
22 Lagrange St., Boston, MA 02116

Once inside both Annie and Al get propositioned by the owner to come dance for him. The places is packed despite the crime scene tape leading to the back room. Declining she instead offers one of her business cards and asks him if anything unusual had happened recently. He tells them only four days ago two of his girls danced themselves to death along with five others in the backroom and offers to let her investigate if she wants. Accepting they move into the backroom and Annie asks Ronan to perform a bit of magic. 

Using the bone dust of a blind man, spit, and fresh rainwater he conjures the shadows of the past and makes them live temporarily again. After a few moments they see that the dancers had used a CD as well. The magic so powerful that it radiates through the spell as a multi-hued synesthetic aurora pulsates from the shadow of the music player. Having seen enough they stop by a nearby Hot Topic and Annie dressed up in “rave finery” so they can get close enough to Erin without alarming her.

. . . You Gotta Shake Your Bits
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
DJ Boom Kitty’s Spectacular Seaside Spectacle

Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 7:00 pm
290 ES Warren Street, Roxbury, MA 02119

Once at the huge gathering (over 500 souls) Annie goes one way and Ronan shrouds1 himself, Frankie, and Al as they mingle among the crowd looking for danger. It’s not long before they spot several other shrouded fae, including several ogres, a few sidhe, and even a massive Fir Bolg2. Annie tries to get Erin off the stage, but before she can a ogre bashes her in the back and sends her flying. Getting to her feet quickly, two sidhe grab Erin and try to make off with her. Annie commands Ronan to kill them and he blows their heads apart with his “Works” rounds. Frankie sneaks up behind the Fir Bolg and blows the back of its spine/head apart killing it with a single blast from the Interpreter3. Al cuts down a ogre, but before they can get the girl a wave of magic hits the whole party and paralyzes everyone. When the spell ends for them Erin is gone – but not before Annie grabbed a scrap of cloth and some of Erin’s skin/blood from scoring her with a fingernail. She puts together a hounding spell4 and they stop by the Heights long enough to grab some serious firepower as Annie is “fed up with this shit. We’re going to go start a war.” Eventually, they are led to Reinhardt’s mortal persona’s offices – Raines Musical Production.

Let's Start a War
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Raines Musical Production
Friday, April 28th, 2000, 7:00 pm
22 Great Woods Road, Lynn, MA 01904

Having grabbed some mil-spec black-market hardware they prepare the shapeshifting tulpa (Nimbus) to become something “a bit more . . . entry friendly.” But before that happens they contact a very powerful forbidding5. Annie walks forward and speaks a single word in the tongue of God Himself6 “Open,” shattering the powerful magic impeding their way and also opening every window, door, filing cabinet, locker – even files on a computer! – in the process. But it does more than that. Once at the doorway several redcaps greet them before Ronan pulls a minigun from the car and mows them down. He moves in to take out the rest of the welcoming party, but once inside the building the gun jams thanks to firearms impeding-ritual. Dropping the massive weapon he draws his cavalry saber and goes into hand to hand. The fighting is intense, but brief and a explosion rocks the entire building as Frankie throws a Claymore Mine at another Fir Bolg and tricking it to hold it long enough (and the wrong way) for him to detonate it via remote. Inside, Reinhardt has forced the lost teenager (Jo-Jo) to take Erin hostage while he tries to negotiate his way out. Failing he speaks a logos himself (Obey) and tries to ensnare Annie. She quickly shakes it off and since she knows a Word of her own she attempts (and succeeds) to make it her own. Turning it on the half-blood she commands him to kneel and he does. It's all over but the crying. Freeing the kids, she calls in McAllister and the Conclave and asks them to put Reinhardt in the Donjon as he’s violated the Pax Trimountaine. McAllister agrees and offers to clean up the mess they’ve made, while Annie takes Erin to her new guardian.

The rage and loss of growing up a orphan eventually gives way to tears and Niallan takes the child he never knew in. He asks Annie to train her like a Murphy (who receive extensive combat training, and both mental and physical conditioning) to better prepare her for life at court. She agrees and in turn asks for a few lessons from Niallan since her bladework is “a bit rusty.” Niallan enrolls Erin in East Boston High School despite her having a GED as he wants her to get a diploma. Annie invites the Rejects back to her home and Jo-Jo runs a DnD game for everyone as they say their own goodbyes to Marley. Weeks later, Scáthach begins training Al-Shams, but is angry he hasn’t brought the “rest of his fianna to receive [her] wisdom” and accuses him of a unbalanced trade (not a good thing in the world of the fae).

Eventually he asks the other members of his “fianna” to join them in practice in the woods and Scáthach trains them. Al-Shams signs his contract with East Boston High for a six-month span and agrees to teach both History and Woodshop. He even starts up a “Slayers Club” for role-players and begins to teach them the basics of supernatural lore disguised as a game in his efforts to spread his knowledge. Annie and Al give Det. Riviera a good plausible excuse for the deaths and whips up a new drug that appears to allow a user to ignore fatigue (it’s good enough to pass a chemical test, but not actually do what it looks like).

Riviera plants it in the evidence room from the various crime scenes and the case is shut. Unfortunately, he attracted the attention of Internal Affairs officer Bradley Bradshaw who puts him under investigation so heavy is he forced to go on leave. Bradshaw then turns his ire onto EHI and shuts down the whole business having its license suspended and assets frozen as he investigates Annie. He never officially accuses them, but he “leaks” that he thinks she killed her uncle and took over his business so she had an “in” into the police force and conjures a scheme that involves her tricking Riviera to steal money in evidence. Despite it sounding ridiculous, they do have Riviera on camera being in the evidence room unauthorized. The case drags on for months despite both Frankie and Al-Shams offering their personal time to get things back up and running. Not letting a little thing like lack of a license stop them, Annie and her “fianna” continue helping people in need in the good city of Boston.

After Action Reports/Game Notes
This final bit of the arc was full of a LOT of action and took almost 12 hours of real time to complete. There was a lot of back and forth between the players on what they wanted to do and lots of bargaining for time and studies at the end. I feel if I can get a player invested enough that he starts talking about something as boring as the study rules then I've done my job as a GM.

1Shrouding is the ability to “pull” yourself closer to Between (the Astral Plane) and modulate the vallum just enough so that you partially phase out of reality. The world becomes muted (sights are grey, scents faint, and sounds white noise), but while shrouded you can move around effectively invisible to all those without Othersight.
2 Fir Bolg are a extremely tall and broad form of giant (over 21’ and several tons) that are closely related to fae enough that they effectively are (a Inlander variety). They’re nasty, always hungry, and like to flatten foes beneath their feet.
3 Frankie’s old military buddies called his shotgun “the Interpreter” after he stopped a small band of Kurds from ambushing his team. When he told them to step back they refused at first until he racked a round at which point they moved back and Frankie quipped “You rack [a shotgun] round and suddenly every motherfucker speaks English.” When he retired from the military they took his weapon, prettied it up, and put a engraved plate with its name on it.
4Hounding spells (a closely related class of magic) are spells that seek people, places, or objects. Those who employ them often (a thriving business) are sometimes called “hounds” or “dogs.”
5Forbiddings are a complex form of magic that are almost like old TV show force fields, but combined with semi-intelligent wards that can selectively screen out those who are not wanted. Sufficiently powerful forbiddings can take missile strikes without any damage to those inside.
6Logos (sometimes called “power words” or just “Words”) are a extremely potent form of magic. They represent the words God spoke to create the universe and are jealously guarded by those who know them. The only way to learn a Word is to have someone teach or if you already know at least one you can attempt to learn one when used against you. This is however dangerous and causes several auric dissonance resulting in damage to the body. Actually speaking the word aloud is fatiguing depending on what you try and make it do.

Session Soundtrack
"Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who (opening song)
"O Death" by Jen Titus
"Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton
"C'mon C'mon" by the Von Bondies (Annie preparing to go to war)
"Head Like a Hole" by Nine Inch Nails (closing song)

The Chronicles of Ceteri - A-Team - S00E07 - Silent as the Dead, Part Ii

Dramatic Personae
  • Annalise "Annie" M. Murphy (played by +Ann LS): Exorcist extraordinaire, sorcerer, psychic, twice cursed and twice blessed monster hunter. Ex-Gladius Dei. The Murphy. Talks to God, sometimes He talks back.
  • Dr. Francesco "Frankie" Novella (played by +Troy Loy): Doctor and accidental hero. Surgeon with a shotgun. Unflappable. Logical. Sometimes literal. No sense of humor. Always capable.
  • Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal aka Al MacLannageal (played by +Christian Gelacio): Man out of time. The Last Templar Knight. Warrior. Scholar. Sorcerer. Carries the Blood of Solomon and is the benighted grandchild of Brigid.

After a few quick checks of their gear, the PCs head off. Since they’re all riding motorcycles of some variety they can only take so much with them, so they grab the bare essentials and go. Using the divining map that Al created they track down one of the CDs

Back to School
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
East Boston High School
Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 12:00 pm
86 White St East Boston, MA 02128

The first blip on the map is at (of all places) a high school. Annie poses as a would-be student and audits several classes as she follows the map, which eventually leads her to one of the students at East Boston, Regina Bolte. Meanwhile, Al and Frankie are being lead around the school on a tour by the principle who assures them that they do not discriminate against any “race, creed, religion, or . . . ahh . . . sexual orientation.” (Note: at this point in the game there was so much laughter as one of my players played this to the hilt that nothing got done for almost a hour.)

Frankie, noticing the janitor acting odd follows him as he meanders about and they both end up in one of the girl’s bathroom. Inside is a pregnant student smoking, when the janitor’s “mask” slips, Frankie hears a ticking sound (like a clock) and knows what he’s facing: an aswang. Clearing his throat he stares at the janitor who looks backward and forward form him to the girl and then rushes out of the school. Frankie watches it leave to make sure it goes. Meanwhile, Al stops at a room where a teacher is lecturing about the Roman centurion and grows quietly enraged as the teacher glosses over the real history for something more “preachy.”

Entering the classroom he proceeds to give a lecture (with the historical replicas on one of the “show carts”) that inspires, awes, and nurtures the curiosity of all involved. The principal asks Al if he’s available as a substitute and brings him back to the office and offers him a contract as a substitute with the option to become a member of their staff if he can get a teaching degree.

In the meantime, Annie has “made friends” with Regina and has managed to snatch the CD from her walk-man before she could play it asking a bunch of questions in the meantime. Regina reveals that it’s from a hot new DJ who calls herself “DJ KaBoomKitty.” Regina, though she considers herself a social pariah enjoys a good party and saw her last show the night before and bought the CD there. Annie returns the disc when she makes sure that it has no magic. Annie opts to stay at the school and continue her “audit” with Regina (to gather more information) and Al and Frankie get the map back from Annie and track down two more CDs (one has no magic like Regina’s and the other has “trace”).

Ka-bOOm kITTEh
Al-Shams “Al” MacLannageal & Dr. Francesco “Frankie” Novella
Building Construction Site
Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 2:00 pm
234 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02114

While tracking down the second CD at a local construction site (a concrete pourer went to DJ KaBoomKitty’s show the previous night) Al, Ronan, and Frankie are attacked by a small group of five ogres. Both Frankie and Al are knocked half way cross the unfinished floor and Ronan’s head is squished as a ogre slings a piece of concrete connected to another piece by a rebar like a club. Ronan, being a spirit creature dissipates and reforms at his skull (back at East Boston High School) leaving Al and Frankie to take on the ogres. Both men kip up and Al draws his revolver putting three bullets in one ogre dropping it thanks to “the Works1” ammo that Ronan outfitted everyone with.

Frankie does the same but puts a bullet in the leg of two different ogres and kills them thanks to the iron. With only two ogres remaining, the two men keep their distance and finish them off with rebar and slamming their heads together. One dies with a chunk of steal in its head and the other lay unconscious.

By the time Ronan reforms almost fifteen seconds later he’s on the phone to someone (they don’t know who) and is cleaning the scene. The sound of police sirens can already be heard in the background. He tells Al and Frankie to meet him back at the heights as he opens a gate and drops the unconscious ogre into it. Frankie and Al then live, heading back to the Heights where Annie meets them having been picked up by Ronan after her day at school.

After Action Reports/Game Notes
This was the first time that I really played the bad guys intelligently. The ogres knew that one of the biggest weapons the PCs had was the Dullahan and they capitalized on its weakness. This really shook up the players and showed flat out: just because Darth Vader is on your side doesn't mean he can't be thrown into deep space once or twice.

1Ronan has been killing monsters for over a hundred years, since his weapon of choice is a firearm he developed “the works” bullet decades ago. It’s essentially a hollow-point silver bullet with a small iron plug at the tip, a microscopic amount of holy water, essence of garlic, and asafetida oil in between it. On the outside are hand-carved holy symbols from every major religion on the planet and each bullet is hand-matched to its individual firearm.

Session Soundtrack
"Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who (opening song)
"Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd
"The Pussy Song" by Lords of Acid
"The Chemicals Between Us" by Bush
"Hey, Man. Nice Shot" by Filter (closing song)

The Chronicles of Ceteri - A-Team - S00E06 - Silent as the Dead, Part I

Dramatic Personae
  • Annalise "Annie" M. Murphy (played by +Ann LS): Exorcist extraordinaire, sorcerer, psychic, twice cursed and twice blessed monster hunter. Ex-Gladius Dei. The Murphy. Talks to God, sometimes He talks back.
  • Dr. Francesco "Frankie" Novella (played by +Troy Loy): Doctor and accidental hero. Surgeon with a shotgun. Unflappable. Logical. Sometimes literal. No sense of humor. Always capable.
  • Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal aka Al MacLannageal (played by +Christian Gelacio): Man out of time. The Last Templar Knight. Warrior. Scholar. Sorcerer. Carries the Blood of Solomon and is the benighted grandchild of Brigid.

Three months have passed since the Conclave have closed Millicent's case file. Al-Shams has assimilated into the modern era nicely owing to his natural intelligence and a little cheating using magic and alchemy. Annie helps to set him up with all the various modern documents one needs to live in the current day and lets him stay at the Heights until he can get his act together, find a job, and get on his own. Frankie has jumped into the world of the supernatural both feet first and has taken to working with both Al and Annie at EHI in his off hours from the hospital.

Dance, Dance, Execution
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Roslindale Boston Public Library
Wednesday, April 28th, 1999, 5:00 am
4238 Washington St., Boston, MA 02131

Annie is awakened in the night by the incessant ringing of her uncle’s cell phone. When she finally answers, it’s a old friend of her uncle's, Michael Rivera, a detective with the Boston Police Department looking for help from EHI. When Annie offers to help, he gives her an address and she gets Ronan to call in both Frankie and Al to meet them there.

Once at the address, Roslindale Public Library, they look around. She immediately spots two spirits, the Banshee of Boston1 and a young boy. She speaks with the young boy who doesn’t actually talk to her, instead he gives her a soulful look and then vanishes. Annie sends Ronan to follow the spirit back to wherever it’s going to see if that’s helpful and she speaks with the Banshee. The Banshee smiles at her and whispers in near-incoherent little gibbers about all the death she sees. Since the last time she was this active was right before the great fire in 1872, Annie is rightly concerned. Before she can ask her why she sees death, the crazy spirit shrieks and disappears up into the sky.

To the untrained eye, it looks like the librarian, Polly Windsor, died of a heart attack or aneurysm. After careful examination by Frankie, he comes to the conclusion that the librarian died of acute exhaustion. Frankie on a hunch removes one of the woman’s shoes revealing blistered and bloody flesh. After Al comes back from looking around the perimeter (and finding nothing) both him and Frankie speak at the same time saying “Dancing magic2.” With no satyrs, fiddlers, or other such faerie creatures nearby it’s a mystery on how the librarian could have literally danced herself to death.

Annie works a spell to locate the nearest bit of faerie magic and it leads her to an untitled mix CD in a nearby computer3. After a few minutes of examination, she realizes she’s out of her depth and calls Niallan Lughnon, the local fae ruler for help. Lan tells her to bring it over to his home near the Broken Hills/Slide Notch area in the Blue Hills Reservation.

Of Dwarves and Elves
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Niallan’s Home
Wednesday, April 28th, 1999, 6:00 am
Chickatawbut Rd, Milton, MA 02186

Oddly enough, Niallan’s home seems to be on “full alert” with both dvergr (Norse dwarves) and sidhe guarding the gates and doors and patrolling the grounds. The PCs get let in right away and Lan is eager to see them. When Annie shows him the magicked disc he is highly concerned by what it means since most fae magic cannot be contained within an object like that – there is a reason that faerie-made artifacts take a long time to make and the disc seems to be almost an afterthought. 

Lan asks for more information about the case and something clicks within him. He tells them that this must be the work of Jan Reinhardt aka “John Raines” the local leader of the unseelie fae who is capable of such magic and just happens to work in the music industry as a part of his mortal persona. Lan becomes irrationally angry and reveals that several unseelie have been spotted lately in his duchy and at least one attacked one of his people. He tells Annie that the Duchy of Broken Promises is going to war with the unseelie led by Jan since he seems to be pushing into his territory.

Annie calmly informs him that that will not happen, but he counters with the one limit on her power: it’s an internal matter. Annie asks Lan for some time to solve the murders and bring Jan to justice. Despite his anger he gives her 48 hours – and then the fae go to war. She nods and leaves, heading back to her home on Murphy Island.

Nazis, I Hate Those Guys
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
The Shadowed Heights
Wednesday, April 28th, 1999, 8:00 am
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

Once back at the Heights, Al decides to try to create a tracking spell using the magical law of contagion. After some time he arrives from the alchemy lab with a local map of Boston blotted with several drops of wax. Some move hypnotically while others stay still. Al explains that he created a divination that allows them to track the other CD cases in real time while being able to lock on any particular one with but a touch to the wax on the map. Ronan and Frankie (mostly Frankie) look up John Raines on the internet and find that he’s an incredibly talented music producer though the ones he signs tend to have short, but brilliant careers. 

Annie meanwhile digs into her family archive and finds her grandfather Kaourig  Murphy’s World War II journal a picture of Jan dressed up in a Nazi SS uniform, his cruel and beautiful face captured by her grandfather’s fine hand. Kaourig  apparently had to bind Jan’s wounded leg and he wrote a account of it. Annie, decides to go deeper and uses her psychometric abilities and “reads” it. What she gets is a full account of her grandfather’s time during the war which plays out in her head quickly – though she gets the full experience. Once she’s back to herself she reads her grandfather’s final note on Jan: “The dangerous sonuvabitch nearly killed a nurse – beware he’s apparently the son of a Ganconar and a Leanan Sidhe4.”

The PCs continue researching Jan and trying to figure out how someone could bind fae magic like they’ve done to the CD. Lots of theories are bandied about.

After Action Reports/Game Notes
This one I'm proud to say stumped my players in some ways. They knew the root cause of what what was going on . . . but not how it was happening. I might have been too clever because it slowed the game to a crawl for almost an hour as they thought of ways the impossible could be possible. Being able to use the Banshee for the first time was great fun as she was something I'd created wholecloth specifically for the campaign.

1The legendary “Banshee of Boston” is not a actual bainsidhe (a form of undead fae), but a restless spirit murdered sometime in the 17th century. Since then she’s been the foreteller of doom and gloom for the city.
2Faerie “dancing magic” is the magical compulsion that some fae – namely satyers and phantom fiddlers – seem to be able to produce causing any mortal ear who hears it to dance to the tune until the musician stops or they die. Most faerie will stop just short of killing their audience, but some take a vindictive delight in killing others with music. Some faerie artifacts can produce the same effects, but take a long time to make and even longer for the user to master.
3Imbuing faerie magic into mundane objects is a craft left to the oldest and wisest among the Fae – the fact that someone could imbue such magic quickly and into such a cheap vessel should technically be impossible.
4Jan Reinhardt is what most sidhe noble’s call a “mixed blood,” that is a sidhe who’s heritage is not pure sidhe traced all the way back to one of the Tuatha de Dannan (blood purity is a huge issue among the nobility of the faerie courts). Since Jan’s father is a Ganconer or a “Love Talker” (the faerie equivalent of a male succubus), he was born with a startlingly powerful array of paranormal abilities to persuade, cajole, and coerce others. This combined with his natural magical and martial ability has made him a faerie warlord of not inconsiderable power.

Session Soundtrack
"Some of Adam's Blues" by The Quaker City Night Hawks (opening song)
"Killing Strangers" by Marilyn Manson featuring Tyler Bates
"Do You Feel It?" by Chaos Chaos
"Only the Good Die Young" by Billy Joel
"If I Had A Heart" by Fever Ray (closing song)

The Chronicles of Ceteri - A-Team - S00E05 - Stone Dead, Part V

Dramatic Personae
  • Annalise "Annie" M. Murphy (played by +Ann LS): Exorcist extraordinaire, sorcerer, psychic, twice cursed and twice blessed monster hunter. Ex-Gladius Dei. The Murphy. Talks to God, sometimes He talks back.
  • Dr. Francesco "Frankie" Novella (played by +Troy Loy): Doctor and accidental hero. Surgeon with a shotgun. Unflappable. Logical. Sometimes literal. No sense of humor. Always capable.
  • Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal (played by +Christian Gelacio): Man out of time. The Last Templar Knight. Warrior. Scholar. Sorcerer. Carries the Blood of Solomon and is the benighted grandchild of Brigid.

Al-Shams lay bleeding in the rain with a hole through his heart. He lays dying in of all places a baseball field...

Angels in the Infield
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Boston Common Baseball Field
January 27th, 1999, 10:30 pm
131 Tremont St. Boston, MA 02111

As the life leaves Al-Shams body time stops and he finds himself on a featureless, endless, white plain. Behind him a voice tells him that he is late and a man dressed in a turn of the century morticians suit snaps shut the lid of a pocket watch. He tells Al-Shams that he’s dead and he’s been “one for the books” owing to his unnatural long life thanks to his previously petrified state. The man in black (presumably Death himself, one of his pale riders, or a psychopomp) extends his hand to him, but before he can take it, Bellinagar (the leprechaun), appears where he explains that he “can’t have him yet” and takes Al-Shams back to his body where another mysterious figure, this time a red-head dressed all in white, is peering down at his body. The scene shifts again and Al-Shams finds himself back at home in his castle with his children and wife. He quickly realizes that he’s dreaming when a man in grey shows up and gives him a choice: he can return to life and go through many trials or he can go to Heaven.

Al-Shams asks who he is and the figure in grey names himself “Sariel.” When Al-Shams asks if he’s “that Sariel” he nods. He offers to help him return to life since the leprechaun only made him live once more, but the damage was so severe he ended up in a coma. In exchange, he will become Sariel's eyes and ears and “help Magdalena.” Al-Shams accepts and wakes up gasping for breath as Frankie works to stabilize him. Ronan warns them not to pull the dagger in his side out, as it’s made of veneniam1. Realizing mundane medicine is their best bet, Ronan opens a gate to University of Washington Medical Center.

General Hospital or Real Life?
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Boston Medical Center
January 27th, 1999, 11:00 pm
840 Harrison Ave Boston, MA 02118

Once in Frankie does some creative reorganizing and gets them a surgery theater. Three hours later Al-Shams is stable despite having an eighteen inch blade driven through his heart. Once Al-Shams is stable, Alvin says he might have something back at his place that could help and both him and Annie head to his place (which wasn’t far from the hospital).

Frat House, Brat House
Annalise “Annie” Murphy
Alvin’s House
January 28th, 1999, 2:00 am
185 Ivy St Brookline, MA 02446

Ignoring the drunken revelry happening when they enter the front door, Alvin and Annie head downstairs to the ex-Ranger’s “home away from home.” Once inside  (and past the booby traps and wards) Alvin rummages through his junk until he finds what he’s looking for: an alicorn (the dismembered horn of a unicorn). Annie is aghast at him having such a thing, but he quickly explains he found it when he helped stop a witch that had been eating the elderly at a nursing home. Alvin, knowing he didn’t have a “pure heart” (which the item requires to make use of its healing properties) gives it to Annie who he believes does. They then head back to the hospital.

It's Gawain's World
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Boston Medical Center
January 28th, 1999, 2:30 am
840 Harrison Ave Boston, MA 02118

Back at the hospital, Annie presses the alicorn against the stitched wound and lets her magic pour through it. Within seconds, Al-Shams’ injuries knit themselves whole and he is again conscious. After a quick check-up by Frankie they again head to the Shadowed Heights to try and find Millicent and stop her before she summons Tzazel (aka Legion).

Witchfinder, Witchfinder, Find Me a Witch
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
The Shadowed Heights
January 28th, 1999, 3:30 am
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

Annie, deciding she wants to know exactly what the ritual for summoning Tzazel entails enlists everyone’s help as they comb through the library for details. Several hours later, Frankie is the one who discovers that Tzazel can only be freed from the sea by a specific Galilean incantation said over a seaside cliff, as the sun rises, near a “protector of ships,” and when the tide is at its highest (6:04 am). A host of other ingredients are required and Annie sends Alvin to check the “usual suspects.”

Gearing up for a final conflict the PCs prepare for a small war taking all manner weaponry from swords to automatic weapons. Even Frankie, who has no experience with swords, takes a huge two-handed monstrosity, a German two-handed blade called a zweihänder as a backup weapon (which is temporarily enchanted to make it easier for him to use). Millicent has cast a “masking spell” over the entire city to hide her presence from others . . . but not though the witchfinder (since she could only mask herself against everyone or the witchfinder – not both). It points them to Boston Light Lighthouse. Annie then says a prayer over them all and they depart to the only place.

Demons + Witch = Somehow Worse
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Boston Light Lighthouse
January 28th, 1999, 6:00 am
Lovell Island Rd, Hull, MA 02045

Scoping out the area before they go in, Annie quickly comes up with a plan to pepper Millicent and her summoned demons from the lighthouse keeper’s home with ranged fire, while her, Frankie, Svalbad, and Ronan attack them on the ground. The fighting is fierce and even though they take down one of the giant demons from afar, the hellhounds make mincemeat out of the ground attackers –though they hold their own. Millicent counterattacks having a hooded figure (probably a enslaved sorcerer) make both Alvin and Little Paw fall unconscious on top of the house. Annie commands Ronan to deal with the sorcerer and he uses his ghostly abilities to appear behind the hooded figure before gutting him with a knife and shoving him over a cliff.

Annie meanwhile calls up a small legion of the drowned (zombie-like undead that can only be found near a body of water) to distract Millicent and help with the hellhounds. She then tries to take control of the ley line Millicent has tapped to complete her ritual. While Millicent and Annie are duking it out over the ley line – Frankie manages to lop the head off of one of the giant demons and attack a nearby hellhound, though before it dies it rends the muscle on the back of his thigh. Ignoring the wound he ties it off and continues to fight as oddly another hellhound attacks the two he had been fighting, crushing their skulls between its huge jaws. Annie calls it to her and it acts like a puppy when she calls it a “good boy.”

Al-Shams peppers one side of the battlefield with arrows, felling half a dozen hellhounds in seconds. Eventually all that’s left is Millicent in her circle and Bellinagar shackled nearby with iron chains. Annie calls to one of the Doormen (an agent of the Department of Telluric Regulation) to shut the line and they slam it so hard that both Annie and Millicent find their auras “singed.” Realizing she cannot win the fight she uses her last wish to escape just as Ronan begins to crack her warded circle. The aftermath of the battle scene is riddled with custos, Doormen, and other members of the Conclave.

The Conclave quickly shuts Millicent’s case and concludes that she must have “fried” herself trying to teleport (an impossibility – only nonliving incorporeal beings can teleport) across the ley line. Since Darius has disappeared, Annie finds herself having to stay in Boston to serve as the impartial neutral party between all the factions. There must always be a Murphy to serve witness or there will be war. Since she is having to take over Darius’s duties to the factions of the city, she also takes over his investigative firm – E1venth Hour 1nvestigations.

Woken one morning by the building’s owner where her “new” office is she heads down to find it’s been broken into, though nothing has been visibly removed. Cleaning the place up she notices a copy of Robert Browning’s poetry placed upside down. Knowing her uncle would never have left it that way, she opens it up to a highlighted passage “Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,. Or what's a heaven for?” Ronan is the one who thinks it might be bloodink2, cuts Annie’s finger, and presses it to the page. Words of crimson appear on the page in Darius’ handwriting “Annie, please don’t look for me. I know what I’m doing.”

Meanwhile, in the front office the jukebox starts playing on its own, Dion and the Belmont’s “The Wanderer.” There is a knock at the door and a when Al-Shams answers, a average looking man with a eye patch, black hat, and dark trench coat asks if Darius is in. When he says no and asks the stranger his name, the jukebox starts skipping drawing Al-Shams attention for a second as the line “They don’t even know my name.” repeats over and over. When he looks back the one-eyed stranger is gone leaving only a empty doorway and the sound of ravens cawing in the distance . . .

After Action Reports/Game Notes
Everything just fell into place for this game. It went from A to B to C to get the idea. I love it when things like that line up because it makes sense in a in-world context and makes the out-world session run all the smoother. The obvious nod to Odin at the end made me giggle like a schoolgirl (obvious All-Father is obvious) and made my players twinge a little. No one wants to come under the microscope of a deity.

1Veneniam is metal that has been forged in the fires of Hell. Wounds inflicted by it are agonizing and cannot be healed by supernatural means short of a power of “great good.” It tends to corrode quickly outside of Hell and can be had by anyone willing to deal with demons (and all that that entails).
2Bloodink is a special alchemical substance that remains invisible and undetectable except when someone who is related to the writer smears their blood on the page with the encoded message.

Session Soundtrack
"Ain't No Grave" by Johnny Cash (opening song)
"I'll Keep Coming" by Low Roar
"Fighting My Way Back" by Thin Lizzy
"Hell or High Water" by AC/DC
The Wanderer" by Dion and the Belmonts (closing song)