[Mage: the Awakening Actual Play] Endangered Species Episode 1 (Long)

Posted: March 21, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Actual Play, Articles, Mage: the Awakening, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness

As I mentioned before, this nMage campaign is starting to shape up like a bunch of disparate stories that all happen to share the same setting and timeframe. As such many of the players didn’t actually interact with each other in this session, instead working on their individual plot hooks and investigating various strange occurrences in Tokyo.

And so, in an attempt to sort of put things in proper perspective, I’ll be dividing today’s Actual Play report according to which teams were working together for this particular session.

Melon Pan (played by Mappy) and Mikaboshi (played by Paulo)

With the murderer identified the Silver Ladder held a small gathering among their number to discuss the politics of the situation. The Free Council were beholden to them for their help in finding the culprit, but there was still the matter of the trouble caused on Silver Ladder Territory. Mikaboshi’s hotel was the location of the murder, and that sort of disruption calls for some form of recompense, and it was generally agreed that the injured party should be able to request something from the Free Council.

Mikaboshi asked for something else instead, he wanted more information on the killer. In his mind, such a well planned murder wasn’t the work of a mere student. Someone had to be pulling the strings, and he was determined to find out. He wanted to speak to the murderer himself, to try and glean if the boy was some sort of genius, or if he was just a pawn in a bigger conspiracy.

In order to facilitate it in neutral grounds, the Mysterium volunteered to hold the talk, with Melon Pan accompanying Mikaboshi to speak with the murderer. They reached a small, nondescript home belonging to the Mysterium, and were introduced to Vajra, the Free Councilor who served as the boy’s mentor. The initial conversation was terse, as Vajra expressed his regret at what his student had done, he admitted to having spoken to the boy, but it seemed that the boy wasn’t in any mood to actually listen to good advice.

Mikaboshi and Melon Pan proceeded to the room where they were to speak to the boy. Known as Yasha, the boy met with them with an eerie confidence. He spoke with a condescending tone and expressed his disdain for his fellow apprentices that didn’t deserve Awakening. It was clear that Yasha was possessed of a superiority complex, though it wasn’t clear if this was some form of Bedlam paradox manifestation is as of yet unknown.

The conversation was particularly disturbing to the two, and Mikaboshi walked out of it knowing that somewhere, someone was using mages like Yasha as a killing tool…

Reimu (played by Sheimaruen)

Reimu was in the initial meeting with Mikaboshi being asked by the Silver Ladder about compensation for the trouble caused by the Free Council. She was there primarily because she was being introduced as a formal member of the Silver Ladder by her father, Lord Enma. Reimu was made aware of the murder, but admitted that she knew little about the victim, as she and the Free Councilor were world’s apart in terms of their habits in school. Reimu was a star student and the President of the Student Council, while the dead girl was a slacker.

Her father was not at all disappointed to hear that, reminding her that she will be in charge of her own Cabal sooner or later, and that he’d expected much of her in the days to come. Reimu chose to simply smile and nod. It was simpler that way.

The following day, Reimu had gone on to pursue her duties as the Student Council President, noting that there was a strange upswing of student absences in school. Students just simply gave up, refusing to step out of their rooms, or bother with anything. One such student was a classmate of hers, a certain Katsuhiko Jinnai (yes, yes I know. Sheimaruen gave him that name.) who had just simply lost interest in school. Considering that they were in a class full of overachievers, Reimu decided to drop by his place and investigate.

Arriving at Jinnai’s place, she’s met with Jinnai’s younger brother, who was crying as he was very hungry, and that his older brother refused to leave his room to cook dinner. Reimu prepared a small snack for the young boy to eat and proceeded to go to Jinnai’s room telling him that she’d brought notes for the days of school he missed and she was there to check up on him. He refused her, telling her to go away. Nonplussed, she opened the door and stepped inside, taken aback at the rank odor of the place.  No windows open and Jinnai had not bathed in days.  His cheeks were sunken with hunger, and he was an absolute wreck.

When questioned, Jinnai simply said that he was so tired of the expectations he was burdened with, and all he wanted was to go away… just like the others. He pointed to a computer with a message board of some sort, dedicated to those who wanted to disappear. Reimu watched as he clicked on one of the videos, which showed a webcam feed of a young student, equally haggard, whispering to the camera that it was time for her to go. That “They” were already there to take her away where there would be no more responsibility and pain.

Behind her, a strange humanoid shadow scuttled over the walls, dropping down and passing its hands over the girl’s body, erasing bits of her as it went. The girl seemed to experience no pain, and continued to speak, even as it erased her bit by bit. When the girl was finally gone, the video went on for another ten minutes in eerie silence before timing out.

It was then that they heard a scuttling above them.

“It’s here.” Jinnai grinned.

Reimu whirled around, seeing the thing drop down from the ceiling. It was too dark to make out most of its features, but she knew she was in deep trouble. Reimu panicked, instinctively calling on a Fate spell, wishing that destiny find a way to get her and Jinnai safely out of this situation.

When she came to, she saw that the room was clear… the oppressive presence was gone, replaced by a mundane sense of loneliness. She looked at Jinnai, who was still thankfully there, his eyes wide as he realized that she’d somehow managed to stop him from being taken by the thing.

Reimu on the other hand, realized something else. She wasn’t certain how she did it, but her own destiny was now connected to Jinnai’s, grafted to the point that it was no longer possible to tell which was his and which was hers. They were now permanently bonded by Fate.

Her father was going to kill her if he ever found out!

Masamune (played by Hikkikomori) and Amaya (played by Silver Countess)

Both Guardian Mages found the same problem through slightly different means. In a strange act of synchronicity, the two stumbled upon a strange sort of “Self-Improvement Seminar” that promised to harness the power of the Mind to achieve success in Love and Work.

Masamune was tipped off on the matter when he was talking to some of his customers, and one of them mentioned that they were supposed to have another girl with them, but she skipped out on the night of drinking in order to join the seminar. Masamune was just humoring them at this point, but when the girl showed him the flyer to the seminar, and demonstrated the “weird hand movements” that their friend was practicing to hone the mind, the Mastigos Host realized that something was definitely wrong… given that the hand gestures were Rote Mudras for a spell using the Mind Arcanum.

Amaya on the other hand was assigned to look into it as a potential story for the Occult Magazine. Her Uncle (and Mentor) had drawn that entry from the slush pile of reader submissions and junk mail and sent her to it. Initially skeptical, Amaya made a phone call, pretending to be someone else, but quickly grew serious when she realized that the hold music was triggering her Unseeen Senses an elevating her endorphin to unnatural levels.

Both mages took off to study the phenomenon, visiting the site of the latest seminar. Interestingly both mages went there in disguise, with Masamune using Incognito Presence and a mundane change of looks to get by, while Amaya dressed down an affected the personality of a young woman desperate to find love. The two entered the seminar, oblivious to each other’s presence in the event as they listened to the seminar. Already they were picking up strange elements. Masamune noted that the sign-up sheet was odd, in the sense that the patterns along the borders of the paper were symbolic of something. Amaya was able to decipher a cleverly concealed Atlantean Rune for “Obedience” hidden in the logo of the seminar.

They both signed up, and were interviewed about their “problems” and what they needed in life. When they both left, they were vaguely aware that something supernatural was happening. Neither mage wished to tip their hand at the moment though, in case there was another mage at work in the seminar so they waited until they were able to leave before trying to analyze the anomalies.

Masamune wanted confidence, and upon opening his Mage Sight spell for the Mind Arcanum, he saw that there was a strange Astral Construct attached to him.  It would follow him, whispering strange encouragements to take risks and do things, infusing him with an almost manic optimism. It was a good thing then that he was aware of it, and that his Mind Shield protected him from the worst of its urgings.

The true purpose of the thing was revealed however, when he spoke with one of his co-workers in the Host Club that he worked at, as the Astral Construct split off a duplicate, one that attached itself to his co-worker. This duplicate on the other hand was whispering suggestions that insulted the co-worker, denigrating him in comparison to Masamune. Masamune marveled at the cunning nature of the ploy… it was a bizarre form of wish fulfillment, as these Astral Constructs would begin to erode people’s confidence, making people around him more pliable to his own manic personality.

Amaya on the other hand, discovered that she was being tailed by Spirits of Conformity, which took the form of nondescript looking average Japanese salarymen who moved in a strange synchronous fashion. They gathered around her and the other girls who left the seminar, feeling their presence exerting an influence upon them, making the people from the seminar co-dependent on each other. In order to lessen the effect, Amaya suggested that the group take the initiative and give thanks in a local temple, trying to ignore the fact that the moment she broke off from the rest of the crowd of Seminar-goers to suggest that, the entire mass of Conformity Spirits stopped and turned to look at her at the exact same moment.

She mustered her courage and brought them to the temple, where she quietly cast a spell of castigation, forcing the conformity spirits to flee the area, and instilling some more freedom of thought and critical thinking in those with her. She was worried about the fact that the seminars were working very hard in order to indoctrinate those who joined them.

Clearly something needed to be done.

And there we have it, the “official” start of my new campaign. Two sessions in and I already have several plot hooks in place. Things are looking pretty strange in Tokyo, and the players have quite a few challenges to overcome.  I hope that I’ll be able to start improving my pacing though, as I feel that I was too slow in some parts and rushing in others.

  1. Hikkikomori says:

    If anyone was wondering how Masamune got through the interview of the Mind Cult, I simply hid parts of my current memory, per the spell ‘Memory Hole’, and let my previous personality resurface — that of a self-loathing man who severely lacks confidence. That pretty much gave the interviewers a convincing ‘act’ to let me in their inner circle. I set the release for the Memory Hole spell to trigger once I leave the premises.

    • Thanks for that note, Hikkikomori.
      I have to get used to explaining every spell cast in a Mage Actual Play. I’ve forgotten how things can end up getting very confusing otherwise.

      • Hikkikomori says:

        Not to mention you leave out a very important lesson — which is letting readers decide when it is actually wise to use magic or not.

  2. This is a very good game play recap. It gives me both an idea of what the players are facing and what you are considering for the future. I enjoy GM write ups a lot, and this was by far one of the most detailed and inclusive game play reports i’ve read in a while. Thanks for the report!

    • Hi Heather!
      Thanks for the kind words, I was worried that my Mage Actual Play reports might come out as strange and convoluted given that I’m working with three different plots running at the same time, but I’m very happy that you found it enjoyable.

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