[Mage: the Awakening] The Long Hard Road to Hell

And so the Mage: the Awakening Season 4 kicks off, with an admittedly fun, if slightly shaky start.  As predicted in my musings, we’re starting to look at all the older players starting to shift into high gear, as the plots and opponents on their end begin their own maneuvers.

One of the highlights of last weekend’s session was the introduction of a new character, Arthur O’Connor, played by Victor, who decided to hop into the Mage: the Awakening game because he was looking for something “different.”  The other, was a knock-down-drag-out fight between Sheimaruen’s character Gil and two enemy mages from the Cult of the Doomsday Clock.

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Of the two, Arthur’s opening was one of the more tricky ones to work with on account of his character backstory as presented (and defended by the player):

Arthur O’Connor was an undercover cop who had successfully infiltrated the Irish Mob’s white slavery operations, and had spent the past year earning their trust.  In a breakthrough moment, he broke cover when he managed to convince one of the prostitutes to agree to stand trial and testify against the mob.  He then smuggled her out, and brought her to the police, where her testimony was suddenly turned down.  Running out of options, Arthur knew that he needed to preserve his cover, and so he then brought her back and proceeded to beat her within an inch of her life, so that he could make sure that the Irish mob doesn’t suspect anything.  Unfortunately, he was blindsided, and knocked unconscious.

When he came to, he was in a barrel, with cement and thrown off the harbor to die.  He Awakens, subconsciously rescuing himself with Matter magics, and was promptly rescued by a masked woman, who took him into a locked room, devoid of his cellphone and watch, and proceeded to train him harshly into the use of the Arcana.  He was a prisoner there, unable to make outside contact, and unaware of just how much time he had spent in the cell.  Until one day, he felt that the wards and the spells in the room faded, and the door was finally unlocked.

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As you can see, there are some pretty glaring logical skips in this backstory, and even if I spent 2 hours talking to the Player about them, there was no sufficient explanation as to why or how such things could have happened, and the player insisted that these events took place.  Rather than delay the game any further, I decided to run with it, and put him smack in the middle of where his backstory let off… he was stumbling out of the cell, 2 weeks after he had disappeared, and everyone was asking:  “Where the hell were you, Arthur?”

What followed was a bizzare series of events as Arthur contacted his police handlers before running off on them without giving them an explanation of where he’d been and the (quite possibly true) impression that he had finally defected to the mob.

Arthur then walks back into one of the mob’s chop shops and acts as if he’s never left, prompting the mob to ask about his whereabouts, which he also avoids and decides to borrow money and go home “to get some rest.”

Now, as a GM, I’ve already given a warning on several occasions that these are going to make life difficult for him, because as he tries to avoid answering both sides, he’s wasting precious trust.  Soon the cops will be after him, and the mob won’t protect him… Arthur may find that his freedom might just lead to a different form of incarceration if he doesn’t think of something fast.

Oh, and as for the bold and italicized text?  I have plans…

Sheimaruen’s been itching for a direct combat confrontation with the Doomsday Cult since he ran into them first in Season one and he got it this session.  With a lot of planning, and bravado, his character, Gil, with assistance in the form of Mappy’s Martin Xaine, managed to defeat 2 of the Doomsday Clock’s Mages, and successfully captured one.  It was a long, drawn out fight extended further with a lot of uses of the Time 3 Rote: Shifting Sands, which reverts combat back to a previous turn of the caster. Given that 4 out of 5 combatants had it, what would have been a shorter battle was nearly double in length due to having nearly a third of the actions taken become irrelevant.

I have to admit that I’m still not quite as well versed in combat tactics as I should be as a GM.  I can hold my own, and did pretty well here, but I think I could still afford a little bit of improvement.  Especially since the next game I plan to run will be none other than Exalted.

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