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


Pyr102-cover_1000

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.

Previously...
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. 


Aftermath
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, while Annie does her homework since she still has school in the morning.


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.


Footnotes
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.

Previously...
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.


Aftermath
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. Annie does return to school even taking summer school courses so that she can catch up. 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.


Footnotes
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.

Previously...
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.


Aftermath
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.


Footnotes
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.

Previously...
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.”


Aftermath
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.


Footnotes
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.

Previously...
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.


Aftermath
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 ...you 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.


Footnotes
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)

The Chronicles of Ceteri - A-Team - S00E04 - Stone Dead, Part IV


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.

Previously...
The PCs were preparing to go into the Boston Underground otherwise known as "H-Town" or "Hadestown." They'd brewed some alchemical items to trade in the Goblin Market to gather information on Millicent, while Annie sent Ronan with Erasmus (a custos) to see about the breakout from the Donjon and to punch information out of any inmates he can find.


Three Weird Chicks
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Hades Town
January 27th, 1999, 9:30 pm
Boston Underground, Somewhere


The traditional price for a bridge troll to open up the Autumn Road1 to is a goat. Not having one on hand, Annie whips up a quick batch of goat curry and along with the others saw the Wachusett troll. After using the Autumn Road to reach Hades Town they begin searching for anyone who knows anything about Millicent, but turn up nothing. When Nimbus runs away from Annie and into another tunnel she follows and after looking at one another for a moment so do both Al-Shams and Frankie. Eventually, after going down multiple tunnels they reach a dead end with three crones stirring a cauldron that an eerie green light is escaping from.

Annie whispers softly “What are these. So wither'd and so wild in their attire, That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth, And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught That man may question?” the three women laugh and begin to speak, though when they do speak they finish one another sentences. For a drop of Annie’s blood, they offer to tell her what she wants to know – where Millicent is.

Reluctantly she agrees and as they prick her finger with a silver needle and a single drop of blood falls into the cauldron which bursts into green fire and Annie watches her life, past, present, and future flash by in a blur of images before it settles on one in particular. Annie standing in a raincoat and crying in the rain. They tell her that Millicent will be at the Boston Commons and Al-Shams offers each three gold coins which they accept, winking at one of the crones she titters a laugh at him. An odd roaring sound is heard and when they turn around, they see a creature resembling a cross between a maggot and a bear trundling its way past them, distracting them for a moment the witches and their cauldron disappear. Leaving Hades Town, they head to downtown Boston.


Hellfire + Demons = Total Freaking Disaster 
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Boston Common Baseball Field
January 27th, 1999, 9:30 pm
131 Tremont St. Boston, MA 02111

Ronan calls Annie to inform her that one of the people they put away before she left Boston, Ibn Diggleton was freed by Millicent when she performed her little jailbreak. While Diggleton isn’t a heavyweight in the magic department. He’s a warlock with two talents: summoning demons and hellfire. Lots and lots of hellfire. Left to his own devices he could cause a helluva lot of trouble for the custos. MacAllister gates them both in and though Annie offers to set the custos’ broken arm he declines and they get to work.

After knocking on the doors of a few apartments and getting weird looks from the locals, the park’s ley line bursts open and a dozen cruciati demons burst forth and rush towards the PCs. The PCs hold their own and Ronan frees himself from a warding that Diggleton slapped down on him and in a fit of temper flies into riastradh2 and rips it apart with his bare hands as he gets bigger and taller and rends a cruciati demon in half. The fighting is intense, but the PCs manage to banish the demons, bind Diggleton for the custos, and stop the warlock from “cracking” the ley line3.


Aftermath
Unfortunately, none of them notice Millicent gate in during the confusion and putting a knife into Al-Shams heart. The air hisses from his lungs and he breathes no more.


After Action Reports/Game Notes
Normally, the death of a player character four games in would seem like a disaster, but I fully admit it was kind of preplanned. Sometimes you need a death to show that actions have consequences or to wrap up a particular plot thread. That's just a hazard of storytelling. The way Christian skirted it (see the next session) was rather masterful and he had a myriad number of ways to do what needed doing.


Footnotes
1The Autumn Roads are a ancient series of interconnected gates that can lead to anywhere in the Inlands or Outlands, if you know the way. No one knows who made them, but the most popular theory is that the first Iron Exodus from Faerie was preceded by thousands of gates being opened nearly instantly and thanks to a quirk in the magic they remain “semi-open” and can be exploited by those who know how.
2“Riastradh” means “warp spasm” in Gaelic and was said to be possessed by the ancient warrior Cú Chulainn and countless others. Warriors who possess it can temporarily assume a more dangerous form for combat – but it comes with a price. When in the gripes of riastradh the warrior rages out of control killing all enemies in his path. In Ronan’s case, he becomes taller (over 9 feet) and gains a almost leonine cast to his face along with claws and teeth to match. His strength in this form is such that he can flip cars with ease and rend concrete with his bare hands.
3Insane or extremely powerful sorcerers (or both!) can attempt to fracture a ley line, thereby “cracking” it open and releasing all of its energy at once. It sours all nearby ley lines (making them difficult to draw on) and causes the cracked line to go dormant – usually after something bad has happened. Haunted houses are often the site of “cracked” ley lines that have long since gone dormant.


Session Soundtrack
"Underground" by David Bowie (opening song)
"Predictions" by Suzzane Vega
"Jailbreak" by AC/DC
"Animal I Have Become" by Three Days Grace
"God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash (Battlefield 1 Remix) (ending song)

The Chronicles of Ceteri - A-Team - S00E03 - Stone 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 (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.

Previously...
Deciding that the local faerie lord, Duke Niallan “Lan” Lughnon should know about Millicent and her recent activities (e.g., her wanton demon summoning), Annie gets the others together to go visit him in Brookline.


Pearl Jamming
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Ledbetter’s Automotive Refurbishing and Repair
January 27th, 1999, 4:00 pm
14 Sheafe St. Brookline, MA 02467

Getting through the gate is easy enough, though the guards give Al-Shams a hard time since he’s dressed in his fae mail garb. Once inside, Annie finds the Duke underneath a ’67 Chevy working on the exhaust. Unlike many fae, Niallan “Lan” Lughnon aka Allan “Lan” Ledbetter (his mortal name) has no problem working with metal of any kind thanks to his mother’s heritage as a iaranfuil (a fae able to stand the touch of iron). Annie warns him of what’s happened and he comes up from under the car to give his “niece” a hug (Annie is the many times descendent of his father, Lugh Lámhfhada, through Cú Chulainn).

They talk for a few minutes and he offers her some of his men in helping to track Millicent down. Annie accepts the offer, but asks him to wait until they locate her so they can deal with the evil creature for the last time. When Annie asked about the Conclave, Lan explains that they seem to be “into something big,” but has no other information. Annie sensing something is off calls her local custos1 contact, Erasmus McAllister. After a few minutes of conversation, he appears outside the garage compound and is then let inside.

Once inside Erasmus explains that someone broke out several inmates from the Donjon2 Since this has only been done five times before (the last being in the late 19th century), the custos are understandably upset. The worst part is they are not sure who or what actually got out. Erasmus asks if he can “borrow” Ronan from Annie for a while since he was the last person to break out (before he died). Annie agrees and tells Ronan to gather as much information as he can about Millicent – she’s going to take both Frankie and Al-Shams to the Goblin Market3 in H-Town4 below the city.


Brewing 'n Stuff
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
The Shadowed Heights
January 27th, 1999, 5:30 pm
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

Once back at the Heights, Annie is greeted by Alvin (who she left there) and oddly – both Svalbad and Little Paw who have come to help her find Millicent. While Annie cooks a meal for everyone, Al-Shams, Alvin, and Frankie begin to make ques – a special incense that produces an acid-like fog when burnt that only harms beings who are of nephilitic descent (e.g., the Forsaken). Because of its rarity (the secret to making it are lost), it sells for triple or more in its weight in gold. Al-Shams, horrified that so many secrets have been lost in the last 800 years, teaches both Alvin and Frankie how to make it as well as recording it in a notebook for other hunters.


Aftermath
 The team gears up to venture into underground Boston aka “H-Town” via the troll from the Wachusett Aqueduct.


After Action Reports/Game Notes
Christian was quite method with how horrified his character was at the lost knowledge. We must have spent about 30 minutes just talking about what his character planned on doing to preserve the knowledge he still retained, but the world had lost.


Footnotes
1The custos are the Conclave’s peacekeepers, soldiers, and (when the need arises) executioners. But they are more than that – they are also the protectors, the judges, and investigators. Their name is also their designation – they are the keepers of their brother and they take their jobs very seriously. Despite this, they have developed a reputation for “guilty till proven innocent” and most ceteri flee from them if they can.
2If the custos are the Conclave’s police, then the Donjon is their prison – their intelligent prison. The very walls are its guards and the warden never offers a pardon. Within this monstrous sprawling extradimensional complex lay every type of dark monster the imagination can conjure. The Donjon is built as a labyrinth – in the center is where most prisoners are. They can live out their lives in relative peace and quiet, but as you go further and further out into the maze itself it becomes dangerous. The Donjon has a total of seven layers with each layer being more deadly than the next. It has only been breached five times in its history.
3The Goblin Market (sometimes called the Troll Market) is the supernatural version of a swap meet and is typically found in H-Town, though it occasionally meets in other places.
4Hadestown or "H-Town" as it is often abbreviated as is the collection of tunnels, old sewers, buried buildings, and other subterranean structures underneath Boston. It’s sometimes used as neutral spot by others, but it’s mostly used as a place free of the Pax Trimountaine (though that’s not actually true). The home of unseelie, vampires, and other unpleasant creatures the place is ruled (as much as it can be) by the Blood Mother (or sometimes Mother of Blood) an ancient female vampire who sided against her kin in the shadow wars that drove all vampires from Boston.


Session Soundtrack
"Me and the Boys" by NRBQ (opening song)
"Evil Ways" by Blue Saraceno
"She's Crazy" by JT Coldfire
"Summer Wine" by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood
"Way Down Hadestown" by Anaïs Mitchell (closing song)

The Chronicles of Ceteri - A-Team - S00E02 - Stone 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 (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.

Previously...
The heroes have retreated to the Shadowed Heights to assess the situation they find themselves in, nameless the fact that an ancient witch wants to kill one of them and recruit another. Since Al-Shams is badly bleeding they decided to focus on that first.


Don't Worry, I'm a Doctor
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
The Shadowed Heights
January 27th, 1999, 12:20 am
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

Both Annie and Frankie patch up Alvin and begin to help Al-Shams when they notice the only thing keeping him from bleeding out from the wound he sustained by the demon to his back is his armor. They go downstairs to the surprisingly modern surgical suite and prep the injured knight. Once they are ready Annie picks apart his armor impossibly quick as blood gushes out and Frankie gets finger-deep in the bloody wound, sewing up the bleeder (a nicked abdominal aorta) efficiently. Al-Shams passes out after Alvin brings him a foul brew (some hoodoo his granny taught him) and the rest head to bed and wait until the morning to figure out what they are going to do. The next morning Ronan volunteers to fix breakfast for everyone, and both Al-Shams and Alvin are left with only pink scars thanks to the hoodoo potion. 

When Al-Shams asks for an alchemy lab, they (again) bring him downstairs to the second basement where the Murphy’s centuries old lab is. Frankie remains behind and in the library where he and Annie had been looking for more information on Tzazel aka the Biblical demon Legion (who Millicent apparently serves in some fashion). He spends his time learning as much as he can about the hidden world that he’s been sleepwalking through for most of his life and even learns that the creature he killed in Afghanistan was a “ghul” – a nasty eater of the dead. Al-Shams, Using some of his own equipment, he begins to brew a strange elixir and all involved ask questions (which he gladly answers). 

He explains that a normal genera linguarum spell (one that grants a language) can be made permanent by infusing the spell in a concoction that includes the blood of a dragon – if done correctly. If done wrong it creates a nasty acidic poison. After four hours of brewing, Annie quickly picks up what Al-Shams has to teach and has even improved on his recipe by splitting one ounce of the precious blood into four vials of the base (three of which she saves). The fourth is brewed with the ashes of an entire modern college English course book and an Encyclopedia Britannica and then imbibed by Al-Shams, who immediately begin speaking in modern English.

Just then a crash can be heard as the front door comes down for a second time and a huge monstrous lupine shape can be seen rushing after Alvin (who’d just come up from the basement). On instinct, he throws a silvered dagger into the first creature’s throat and grabs up a silver serving tray and rushes after the second. Frankie comes from the library grabbing a handy saber from a nearby table and slashes at the second werewolf, though he misses. Annie calmly asks them what they are doing and twists a spell from an inscribed bead in one of her golden locks, which forces one of the werewolves into his human form. 

Ignoring him for now, she growls at the injured werewolf until it whimpers (Critically succeeded Intimidation roll). She then pulls the knife from its throat and heals it1. Looking up to the now nude werewolf, she repeats the question and gets her answer: apparently, part of Alvin’s reason for being in Boston and not his native Georgia was the protection offered by the Kveldsongr clan of werewolves (and more specifically, Erik Longarm) from the other clans. For this protection to remain, in effect, Alvin was on a kind of “parole," and he needed to check in – often – the demons and the aftermath of the fight at the convenience store made him skip a check so Longarm sent some of his clan after them.

Annie decides to speak with Erik as her Uncle had a deal with the wolves – they stay in Wompatuck State Park during the full moon, and he wouldn’t hunt them down and kill them (Murphys don’t believe in the “carrot” in “carrot and stick,” it's just the “stick”). Gathering up their gear, they make their way to Erik – who is currently on Langlee Island visiting his brother along with the rest of his wolves.


What Smells Like Wet Dog?
Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Clan Kveldsongr Longhouse
January 27th, 1999, 12:40 pm
Langlee Island, Boston, MA 02171

The arrival on the island is a quiet affair and when Annie explains to Erik what happened, he goes to one of his wolves and calmly snaps the man’s arm in a dozen places before setting it and sending him off for some unnamed punishment. After explaining the situation to Annie, Erik informs her that Markus of the Haugaldr Clan has come for Alvin. Because of how varou (werewolf) law functions, he has a claim . . . but Erik can force a trial by combat for the issue. The problem is he can at most field two of his own (including lone wolves and allied clan-members), though he does mention a little known rule stating that Alvin can also field two champions/proxies since his life is at stake from the outcome of the trial. Armed with this knowledge Annie bullies her way into being a member of Clan Kveldsongr since she dominated one of his wolves and said wolf acknowledged it.

By the time Markus shows up Al-Shams and Frankie have volunteered to be Alvin’s proxies and Erik asks Annie and his brother, Aldrick, to serve him in this trial. Weapons chosen (Frankie chooses the Calvary saber he brought with him, Annie her relic, the Spina, Al-Shams his sword, Claíomh Solais, and Aldrick his magic) the trial begins with first blood being drawn by Frankie who tosses a fully shifted werewolf out of the burning hexagram as it charges at him. Aldrick invokes Odin to grant a win for the Kveldsongr and grabs a hold of the charging half-shifted varou about the neck and chokes him.

Since Markus chose “till death,” at least one of the combatants must die before the trial is over. Aldrick waits to see if one of the others can kill a full-changed varou. Eventually, the varou that Al-Shams is fighting loses an arm and then his head to the burning blade. After a few probes to test defenses on both sides, the varou (an ulfríkr or “alpha” varou, informally called a lycanis rex) tries to bite and claw at Annie, but despite his precise strikes ends up setting himself up.

She shoves her sword into its groin and with a powerful pull rips it open from balls to throat with her blade. Staring at Markus, she sticks her fingers in the beast’s eye sockets (much like a bowling ball), whispers a spell to stop it from transforming back to its human form, and rips its head off, pulling the spine out in the process. Holding it up, she takes turns staring at the nearly two hundred-person audience and then settles her gaze on Markus before tossing the head to the ground.


Aftermath
The trial having been settled signals the end of Markus’ grace period, and he quickly leaves the island. Erik speaks with the others for a time and then hands Annie a cryptic letter from her uncle. Heading back home Annie and the others prepare for the war to come – Millicent is still out there and trying to open the way for Tzazel.


After Action Reports/Game Notes
The sheer action of this campaign section ensured there was no real stoppage. The series of critical hits made the combat insanely, gleefully gory.


Footnotes
1Annie, being the literal embodiment of the virtue of Temperance, has been given a “direct line” to the power of the Heavens. This makes her a saint in all but name. Her ability to heal transcends the normal limits of the campaign setting (as do all who possess such power), which state that no single being can be healed through “active” paranormal abilities more than their HP x 5 in a single lunar period. If such healing does occur it can warp or even kill the subject.


Session Soundtrack
"Dear Doctor" by The Rolling Stones (opening song)
"Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
"Knife and Stone" by Urban Country
"I Stand Alone" by Godsmack (the end of the Trial)
"Into The Void" by Nine Inch Nails