“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Magic, by its very definition, is power. The ability to twist reality to obey your will, to impose one’s desires upon the world is secretly everyone’s greatest wish.
Imagine what you could do with magic? Wealth, influence, youth and beauty would all be available to you. All that’s holding anyone back is their own morality and sense of ethics. That is the very reason why Mages are part of a horror game.
Even if you strip away the monsters and the strange phenomena in the game, the presence of a single Mage is reason enough to be worried. Mages are people possessed of a powerful will, and their abilities bestow a wicked sense of entitlement that is horrifying to think about.
If you can change the world to fit your vision, who’s to say that you don’t deserve to get the best of everything? Lovers, wealth, influence… all of it is ripe for the taking, and if you play your cards right, nobody will every know that you’ve been tweaking things.
It is this thesis that constitutes the backbone of the SL + AA campaign that I’m working on. The players are new Mages in a town run by a Consilium that is barely functional. Corruption has taken root into the heart of the Consilium, and almost every mage is dirty in one way or another.
The Player characters now stand at a crossroads. Their task is to whip the Awakened of the city back into shape, to take over the Consilium and fix it. It’s a tall order, and who knows what atrocities they might have to resort to to make it happen… and how power might corrupt them as well.
The game will most likely take place in two distinct phases. The first phase will be the acquisition of power, the introduction of the cabal to the consilium, and their climb to the top. The second phase will be interesting, as their positions of power suddenly put them in situations where they must protect their power and advance their interests in the midst of those who have “better ideas.”
Combat is probably not going to be the primary focus of the game, though given that I’m seriously considering the Noir setting, it will exist in some form. The Adamantine Arrows of the team will be able to exercise their experience in the field of battl while the Silver Ladder will clash over ideology, philosophy and power brokering the factions.
While I’m certain that the Cabal might not necessarily want to be the kings of the city, they will at least want to be Kingmakers.
At this point I’m considering Chicago as the city, but I’ll have to review the Chicago book for it. I won’t be sticking too close to the canon history of it, so I hope that people won’t be too picky with my lack of understanding as I live halfway around the world from the US and have never set foot on American Soil.
I’m thinking of making about six to seven other Cabals for the city, along with the Seers of the Throne and other residents. This will most certainly include several Apostate cabals from marginalized communities that might serve as new members of a new Consilium in the future.
I’m also considering thematically arranging the various Cabals along what kind of Power they specialize in. The Seers might specialize in one kind of power, while some Cabals might have access or dominance in another. Money, Sex, Influence, Connections, Might, Numbers, Ideology, Religion… all of these constitute power in one way or another so this might be a good way to arrange the various cabals that the players will end up interacting with.
It’s a lot of high-level thinking so far, but with enough work I think I will be able to generate an interesting set of Cabals to work with. I’ll also see if I can slip in other NPCs of note that aren’t mages to flesh the setting out a bit more.