In a bit of a surprise move the group decided to move onto the next game ahead of schedule. I’d planned to finish out our demo game with one of our players before they were removed from the game but since that players didn’t make the game the rest of the group decided to just go ahead and move onto the real first chronicle. While I’m happy with that because it means I can work on the more detailed story and slightly tighter group it does mean totally restarting the game world.
Luckily it didn’t take too long to narrow down the player’s desires to a suitable location. We ended up settling on player in the area around New Orleans in the year following Hurricane Katrina. All of the players have experience their first change, that is actually becoming a werewolf, within the same lunar month of one another. Each was also visited by a Lune, a spirit of one of the moon’s phases, which was not the same one they changed under, told that they were choosen for higher purpose, and then had an eldrich symbol carved into their essence and flesh. The area has been without werewolves for a long time, letting the local spirits go wild. The players will have to earn the respect of the local spirits and struggle against the dark threats of the Shadow in the wake of the hurricane. With all sorts of parasites are crawling into the wounds left by the disaster it’s a dangerous job even for werewolves.
Many of the players want to include other supernatural creatures in the game, specifically ones that they can confront and thwart. To that end I’ll be filling the city with mystics, vampires, and faerie creatures to resist the players and to create a complex system of allies, enemies, and inbetweens. For example, the city has a well established society of vampires who have a vested interest in seeing the city continue to prosper and to recover from the disaster. However, many of those lower in this structure are taking advantage of the chaos to try and get a claw into the cracks and overthrow the existing order. Or to just indulge in their own base desires. So even without the player’s being involved the city is currently home to a vampiric revolution. Add to that creepy spirits sneaking around starting cults or possessing people being assisted by mages or other workers of magic who may or may not know the harm that their doing.
The entire situation is designed to be a moral quagmire. Like a proper World of Darkness it is our own world reflected darkly with many of the same problems tuned towards the tragic. I have alot of hope for this game; it’s a chance to explore alot of horrible real life events through a different lens.
The trail left by the murderous spirit was growing colder by the minute but the killer was in the material world. The pack raced back to the college to make sure of the local gateway between spirit and flesh: the wolf-blooded college student, Laura. Wolf-blooded can have many strange abilities and one of them, for better or worse, is to be a living gateway with the spirit world. And that’s why Laura, in the midst of her research, suddenly found her small dorm filled with five more people. Once the pack explained the situation the entire group headed downtown to begin the chase.
Circling well around the police still at the scene (including the wolf-blooded cop who found the body) the pack found the spot were the scent trail shifted in the material world. They concluded this must be where the spirit switched bodies because one staggered off while the other made a sudden beeline to the north, a residential area. After an hour they managed to encricle the scent, limiting the search to a four block area and decided to split up to try and flush the murderer out.
The two experienced spirit hunters split off to the east to ask about suspious behavior in the locals. The sneakiest wolf moved east to circle around and be ready to come to the others’ aid. The shaman began a ritual to alter the weather in the area to make it uncomfortable, hoping to drive the prey out. Finally the brute began stomping through alleyways, disturbing the homeless to try and find their quarry. Within thirty minutes they discovered the spirit had jumped again. They discovered this when said spirit put a knife into the brute’s back. Luckily, werewolves are tough and he managed to wrestle the host body until the shaman arrived and with the rest of the pack bearing down the spirit jumped out of the body and fled.
Chasing the smoky disembodied spirit proved more difficult but the stealthiest wolf gave chase, keeping pace to ensure the spirit was not entirely lost while the others regrouped. The session came to a close with the party discovering that the spirit possessed some sort of strange artifact: the knife it used could be etheral or solid as the spirit willed it, something normally outside of a spirit’s power. Which meant the entity wasn’t acting alone: something else was helping it.
I had a good time this session. It was alot of working out the kinks as players discovered the new rules bits and some insistances of needing to think things through more, such as the player who used her weather powers. The intention was to make the spirit reluctant to stay in the area. The result was to create a potentially lethal heatwave over a two mile area that lasted for about twelve hours. So, you know, live and learn (hopefully).
So the players finished off their characters by giving all of the secondary characters their supernatural traits. It’s an important stage that we skipped last time because the book wasn’t out at the time and I only had so much of the book actually printed up. The reason it’s important is that the tricks the secondary characters get aren’t just personal oddities, they can be powers that alter the way that the pack functions, as they were in this session.
We opened cold with one of the wolf-blooded secondaries discovering a body in an alleyway and alerting the pack to the murder. They responded slowly because a murder in a city is hardly supernatural but it became apparent that something was up. Another wolf-blooded, a college student at the local university, checked local news and found out that over the last two night previous bodies had been found in the two towns south of the pack’s territory. Three deaths in three days, all murders. Now it looked like something was happening.
The wolf-blooded tracked the information on the previous deaths while the werewolves of the pack converged on the college. The plan was to check the murder site on the spirit side by crossing into the Shadow. Using the spirit world is a major part of Werewolf; it lets the pack get to places that would otherwise be unreachable and approach spirits for assistance. It’s also somewhat dangerous as many spirits don’t like werewolves consider their presence in the Shadow to be justification to attack them. Luckily the pack has a working relationship with that passes for the leadership of the local spirits and is largely able to move about the Shadow without concern of attack.
Investigating the attack site they discovered an unusually large concentration of fear and anxiety. The spirit world resonates with the material world, whenever new things appear that resonance can result in ‘essence’, spiritual energy which call spirts need in order to survive. However the essence is tuned with what created it and in this case they found the site to be literally crawling with motes of fear, anxeity, and similar emotions. A few local spirits were taking the change to grab some for food but most were leaving the stuff alone, disliking the taste. Farther the essence of the murder itself was still pooled in place, a crimson red fog in the alleyway.
While most of the pack circled wide to stomp out as much fear as they could two went in and poked at the crime scene. One player got a bit of a shock when she stuck her nose in and accidently absorbed the essence of the murder itself. Not only was it mentally disturbing but it broke her Harmoney towards spirit. The upside, however, was that she now remembered the murder almost as clearly as the victim. With her help they followed the trail of the killer until it suddenly changed. Some quick brain storming brought them to a single conclusion: a spirit riding a mortal body in the real world who had jumped hosts to attempt to escape notice. That meant a fairly powerful spirit had begun actively killing humans but more importantly it meant a spirit was violating werewolf law and dwelling in the human world.
The next course of action was clear: hunt it down and send it back.
I really like video games. I think that they have potential to be a unique medium of storytelling, if they are done well and can be generally entertaining even if they aren’t. My favorite game at the moment is “Bloodborne” by FromSoftware. It’s a action/horror game in the same theme as Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls but it really turns up at the action and violence as compared to what came before it. As soon as I started playing I knew that I deserately wanted to find a way to bring Bloodborne to a table top game but I couldn’t think of a way to possibly make a whole group experience something so focused as the game presents. The feeling of isolation is a major part of the game, something that wouldn’t transitional well into a group of four or five.
And then I found out that two of my players dropped out of the bi-weekly D&D game. Which left me with only two dudes. Well, since the whole campaign was built around killing dragons (an activity for a full party) that kinda ended that. So as I was asking what they wanted it suddenly struck me that with only two players I could probably do a fair job of capturing the feeling of Bloodborne. And, as luck would have it, I had my trusty copy of Call of Cthulhu at the table. Within thirty minutes I’d begun sketching out a game plot of traveling from place to place, doing the work of Hunters and slaying beasts while trying to keep from falling to insanity. Naturally Call of Cthulhu synced perfectly with these themes. All that I needed to do was adjust the stats slightly and get the players caught up on the game world. They rolled up classics of the genre: one scholar of the arcane and one self styled assassin, both ready to plunge deep into the blood soaked mysteries of the world.
I’ll post the rules updates to BRP that I’m using along with the stats of anything that they encounter along the way as I create them. Also, write ups on the various places they’ll be traveling to.
Mass character creation can be a bit of a mess and it’s still the only way that I like to do character creation these days. It typically means burning an entire session to get the job done and if done properly results in a group of characters that actually know each other’s capabilities and have some interconnecting elements.
I recently got started on a new game: Werewolf the Forsaken 2nd Edition from The Onyx Path, successor to old White Wolf publishing. This one is designed to be a short campaign from the start since I’m going to having some players leaving the group before too long but I really wanted to try the system out right now.
We ended up with a larger than normal group. Two spirit tracking hunters, two assassins, an all business negotiator, and a spirit shaman. Their pack is set up in northern California so they’ve decided to use a redwood tree for their secret hideout and their pack is organized around a small travel adventure company.
Werewolf is all about group creation and the second edition has added to the existing mechanics of creating a pack of werewolves. In the previous edition the characters formed a pack and created a totem spirit who worked with them. Now they’ve added two layers of sub-characters to the game beyond the werewolves themselves: wolf-blooded and humans. Each layer down has increasingly simplified stats so it isn’t like having to make four full characters were player and the whole excersie creates a network of named individuals whom the pack interacts with through the campaign. The only especially difficult part can come when players start to get overwhelmed with just how many things they need to create or they start to run a little dry on original ideas and interactions. Creating an organic network of relationships is difficult withouth the inclusion of supernatural shapeshifting or magical powers so Werewolf demands alot of it’s players.
Whenever you plan to do a session of group character creation it’s polite to let the players know ahead of time so they can spent some time thinking about what they want to do with their character and how they might be able to relate to others. Farther, be willing to take some time after characters have been created because people will nearly always come up with more stuff after they’ve had some time to sit and think on their concepts.