[Mage: the Awakening Actual Play] Endangered Species Episode 6 – Kill It With Fire

Posted: April 22, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Actual Play, Articles, Mage: the Awakening, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness

It had been a few weeks since the Player Character’s (still unnamed) Cabal was formed in the Consilium, and the team was settling in slowly into the new reality of their co-existence. While their sanctum was still under construction, the team were using Amaya‘s old apartment, now being used the residence of Reimu. As Hearthtender of her cabal, Reimu was in charge of making the place somewhat serviceable as a home for the rest of her cabalmates.

Most of the cabal were already there. Amaya was having a quiet smoke in the balcony, while Masamune was keeping an eye out by the window. Melon Pan was enjoying his own quiet time, as they waited for Mikaboshi, the last member of their team to join them.

Mikaboshi was on his way to the apartment, having a quiet talk with the ghost of his brother. Being very close in their mortal lives, summoning his brother’s ghost was a simple enough matter. It was in moments like these that Mikaboshi lowered his otherwise formal stance, and spoke frankly. The discussion was one of the team, and how being in a cabal is a major change from his preferred “man-behind-the-curtain” methodology of getting things done. Add the fact that many of his cabalmates seemed to be a little too trigger-happy with magic, and Mikaboshi had to admit that he would need to summon his brother less often, just to make sure that his brother would stay safe.

Once the cabal was complete, they were visited by two ladies from the Amatsu-kami cabal: Hachiman, the Herald of the Consilium, and Inari Okami, a Guardian of the Veil who served as Hachiman’s second. Hachiman was a middle-aged woman with a strictly formal method of dress, and a no-nonsense manner of speech. Inari Okami on the other hand was a much younger woman with a steely glare and a barely disguised contempt for Masamune.

“Let me begin by extending the Amatsu-kami’s congratulations on the establishment of your cabal.” Hachiman was not one to waste time on small talk, “The Councilors have all met in person to decide the optimum location for your territories, and from our auguries and available manpower, we’ll be assigning your cabal to handle the Shinjuku area.”

“Shinjuku?” Masamune questioned, “That belongs to the Shichifukujin.”

“And the Shichifukujin play by their own rules.” Hachiman frowned, “We can barely even make one or two of them show up in a Consilium meeting, much less compel them to actually do something for the benefit of the Tokyo Consilium.”

“Won’t they mind?” Reimu prompted.

“Not at all.” Hachiman said, “And if they do, they can course the complaint through me. I’m certain that Kagame-sama will be more than willing to sit down and have a conversation with those vagrants. No offense to your mentors, Mikaboshi, Masamune, but neither Hotei or Ebisu have proven to be completely reliable.”

Mikaboshi and Masamune understood at once what was at stake here. Working on the Shinjuku area will allow the cabal to show that they’re not like their mentors, and are much more trustworthy than the Shichifukujin… at the price of working as dogs of the Consilium.

“Everyone must earn their stripes.” Hachiman smiled, “But I’m afraid that this visit isn’t all good news. Inari?”

“Hai.” Inari Okami stepped forward and lay down an envelope on the desk, “There’s been an incident in Shinjuku, and we want you to look into it. Two members of different Yakuza families have been found dead, their bodies left in a trash heap. The police have secured the bodies, and they’re currently in the morgue at this time.”

“Murders?” Amaya frowned, “What’s so special about these?” she asked as she opened the envelope, and sat in stunned silence at the photographs that greeted her.

Two bodies, both male, mutilated in horrific fashion. The first appeared to resemble a corpse that had been left too long under water, with the skin far too big for the skeleton, and hanging off in repulsive folds. The second was decomposing at an accelerated pace, with nearly two thirds of the body showing advanced necrosis, leaving only the head relatively intact.

“What happened?” Mikaboshi asked, as he studied the pictures, and then the reports, “Autopsy suggests that the internal organs have been liquefied…”

“Pre-digested” Amaya confirmed, “I’ve heard of this sort of thing… but not at this scale. Spiders inject venom into their victims to liquefy their bodies and then suck it out to feed. The second resembles the work of a Brown Recluse Spider bite… except in order to do this sort of damage, the amount of venom would be enormous.”

Mikaboshi was not in good spirits at this point, “So you want us to investigate this.”

“Earn your keep as it were.” Inari smiled mirthlessly.

“Very well.” Reimu said, “We’ll have to inspect the bodies.”

“Correction.” Masamune fished out his phone as he looked up the profile of the bodies. “One of these guys has a wife. You guys inspect the bodies, I’ll guard the base and make a few calls to find out what I can.”

It didn’t take long for the team to reach the morgue. Thanks to some of Melon Pan’s police contacts, they were able to get the coroner to leave them to inspect the bodies in privacy. Amaya and Mikaboshi got to work, with Mikaboshi extracting some of the liquefied substances inside the first body, and Amaya casting Forensic Gaze to determine the cause of death. It turns out that both men died near-instantly from having their bodies wrung like a wet rag.

Reimu looked into the past, using Postcognition on the bodies beginning from the point of death onwards. What greeted her was a sight of a naked hybrid of a woman and a spider. Her lithe, naked form had eight eyes and her jaw split open in the middle to mimic mandibles that dripped with venom. Eight arachnid legs, with a legspan of about five meters long sprouted from her back, marring her supple ivory skin.

Reimu forced herself to look away from the sight, trying to take in as much information as she could about the location. The cheesy decor and lighting indicated that this was some sort of Love Hotel, or VIP room of a club. She’d found a small menu board that had the logo of the establishment, “Love Paradise.”

The high school mage relayed her findings to her team. Amaya understood the description and identified the creature as a Jorogumo, a trickster spider spirit that takes the form of a woman. The fact that she’s operating in such a large population center as Tokyo does not bode well, thankfully the Jorogumo are traditionally solitary in nature.

“Maybe Masamune knows more about the place.” Reimu gave Masamune a call to relay the information.

“We’d better find her.” Mikaboshi held up the vial of liquefied person, “Melon Pan?”

“On it.” Melon Pan cast a scrying spell and located the prostitute spider currently doing some clothes shopping in one of the street markets in Shinjuku. “Got her.”

The group relayed the prostitute’s location to Masamune, who took of to find her and tail her while the rest caught up.

That was when everyone’s Unseen Senses began going off.

The group instantly turned all whatever mage sights they could think of first, and looked at the corpses. Smaller spiderlings, each the size of a human hand had apparently hatched from wherever they were being incubated in the bodies and were crawling outwards. The team didn’t hesitate with letting out their attack spells in a panic. Amaya tore at their spirit bodies with her magic, while Mikaboshi and Melon Pan both unleashed fire to burn the critters before they had a chance to run away or possess some other poor soul. Of course, the burning corpses set off the fire alarm, and the coroner came running in, leaving Melon Pan to try and reason out just why they had set a body on fire, while the rest of the team hurried to Masamune’s location.

Masamune had been tailing the prostitute for about twenty minutes, relying on both his normal stealth skills and the Incognito Presence spell to keep him from sticking out too much. The Prostitute walked into a Yakuza controlled red-light district, as apparent by the sheer number of visible Yakuza thugs loitering about in the area.

The rest of the team caught up to him and they regarded the area. The fact that the prostitute was in the employ of the Yakuza complicated things immensely. All of a sudden there were two very distinct possibilities:

  • The Yakuza and the Jorogumo had some sort of truce going on
  • The Jorogumo is operating in secret and the Yakuza had no idea.

Motives and methods were suddenly called into question as the team debated how they ought to handle the problem. The group eventually settled that they needed more information. Reimu stepped away from the team while they were in debate and found herself accosted by a group of Yakuza goons. (Considering that the character had Striking Looks and Streetwise score of zero, I figured it was likely.)

Thankfully, some quick thinking from Masamune, and the application of the Emotional Urging spell to nudge the Yakuza thugs into being disinterested kept Reimu from harm’s way. Their research did yield something important though. Amaya and Reimu were both able to determine that the Jorogumo wasn’t operating alone. In fact, there were three Jorogumo working in such a small territory. That was a rare situation, but the implication that the Jorogumo were working together couldn’t possibly be good.

The team considered the idea of an ambush, or taking on the Jorogumo one at a time, but ultimately cooler heads prevailed and they decided to retreat and examine their options one time.

The following evening had the team debating the best possible angle of attack, in hopes of isolating the Jorogumo in a fashion that won’t alert anyone. The team were in serious discussions at this point, as they were concerned that there might be an alliance of sorts between these Jorogumo and the Yakuza. Ultimately, the team settled on a plan.

They would lure the Jorogumo into an abandoned area (in this case, the former site of the Self-Help Group, which was now under construction as a possible venue for their sanctum) by the use of Amaya’s Greater Spirit Summons. Once there, the team would then lure or compel the Spider Spirits through a Spirit Road into the Spirit world, ensuring that there would be little collateral damage to the surrounding area, and less chances of people seeing what might happen as they fought them.

At least thatwas the plan.

What they didn’t expect was that upon casting the summons, the three Jorogumo would arrive together, in a limousine with a small group of Yakuza thugs, and the Yakuza boss. Melon Pan groaned the moment he realized that one of the Jorogumo had apparently become the favorite mistress or wife of the boss.

Amaya, making a split second decision, decided to cast a spell to open the eyes of the Yakuza to the true nature of the prostitutes with them. If they were working together, it would tip them off to the possibility that someone was messing with their heads… if they weren’t however…

All hell broke loose.

The Yakuza boss let out a panicked cry as he  beheld the true form of his wife, screaming as he drew a gun and started firing. The rest of the Yakuza thugs also panicked, drawing their own weapons as they tried to fight and kill the Jorogumo. The Spirit reacted with desperation, shifting to their full forms, tearing through the flimsy human flesh that they wore as a disguise, manifesting as six-foot long Spiders, fighting back with webs and mandibles.

Amaya shuddered as she witnessed the bloodbath, the entire team holding back until one side was dead. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Yakuza couldn’t hold their own, but had managed to injure the other two Jorogumo but killing one.

The team struck then, with Reimu striking with her bokken on one monster, and Mikaboshi relying on a quick Matter-enhanced mixture of Naphtha to set fire to the other Jorogumo. It was a dirty fight, undoubtedly, but the team felt that it was justified. These are monsters after all, fighting fair would be fighting foolishly.

Thankfully having a Moros in the team also meant that hey had a means to scrub the place for evidence, making certain that people wouldn’t be able to track this down to any of the player characters. Add a few bribes to cover the rest, and the case was closed, after a fashion, with the police writing it of as a Coup attempt or power grab within a Yakuza family.

—-

And so that concludes this week’s session of Endangered Species. It was an interesting change of pace from the heavy investigation of the first story arc, but it’s a good way for the players to learn how to get along with each other. This was their first official attempt to work together as a cabal, and I suspect that after a few more sessions, the characters will be able to coordinate with much better efficiency than they’re able to now.

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Comments
  1. Hikkikomori says:

    I thought we decided to name our cabal, ‘Slow Death’.
    Whether it be ours or our enemies, only time will tell. Heh.

    Another successful session if I do say so myself.
    In-fighting and bickering between Cabalmates, especially in a newly formed one, really is the core of nMage.

    As for the details of our plan:
    There was initially a long discussion as to where we would set up this trap. We considered abandoned buildings, luring them into it, and setting it on fire. But arson was too extreme an act, and not to mention we might cause unnecessary collateral damage. And the fact that we couldn’t keep the Spiders in one place was another cause for concern. (Bind Spirit was still at Spirit 4, and Amaya had it only up to 3.) After much debate, I suggested using one of our own properties instead – or, rather, our only property; legally purchased by Reimu’s half of her lottery winnings via Jinnai’s unconcious use of Reimu’s Fate magic, and put under our names as a group of entrepreneurs. I told them that we won’t destroying other people’s property and pointed out that we could easily claim insurance afterward. After a bit more discussion, especially with regards to actually not causing too much damage to our own building, we came up with the extradimensional solution.

    The plan that we initially laid out was that we would be divided into 3 groups. Melon Pan was to serve as the lookout since he deduced that he didn’t have the appropriate skills and abilities to deal with supernaturally enhanced spider-woman hybrids when it came down to a fight. (Since he was not yet a highly-ranked police officer, and so was not issued a sidearm per Japan’s law enforcement regulations. And even if he did, it would take a lot of explaining as to where he expended his bullets on.) Therefore stayed hidden around the perimeter of the Self-Help group building to warn us of the approach of the Jorogumos. Amaya and Reimu would be in the seminar hall and already within the Spirit Road. Once the Spiders arrive, Amaya would be ready to use ‘Command Spirit’ to compel the Spider-Spirits to enter the portal into the Spirit Realm, with Reimu acting as her bodyguard in case things got sticky before Mikaboshi and I had a chance to jump in. Speaking of us, Mikaboshi and I, Masamune, would be waiting in the seminar hall itself, not inside the Road, with Mikaboshi ready to seal off the door once the Spiders enter, and I would be serving as his backup. This was a precaution in case the Jorogumos manage to escape the Road, so at least we would still have them trapped within the hall.

    This was all well and good, until we got thrown a curve ball when the Jurogumos arrived with their human consorts.

    As much as we didn’t want any civilians harmed, our characters also didn’t have the highest morality rating around. So we agreed that a few Yakuzas would be no loss to the world. The fact that they were Yakuzas of a rival faction to Mikaboshi and Melon Pan’s own was actually to their benefit. And the fact that the Jorogumos took the form of female deceivers only inflamed Masamune’s hatred towards them.

    Finally, we decided to let Amaya open the Yakuza boss’s to the Spirit World, and let him see the true form of their companions. As we expected, he reacted badly to it. And as violent men with weapons, he reacted accordingly and opened fire on the women. His bodyguards following suit and without question to the defense of their boss. The women, surviving the initial volley, with the Yakuza boss’s wife standing up after being shot in the head, began transforming into their human-spider hybrid forms. Multiple, bloodshot eyes opening within forehead and cheeks, the sound of bone crunching and cracking as the extra claw like limbs grew out of their side and backs, as their mouths distended to accommodate the large mandibles that have sprouted from within them.

    After the initial shock, and the bodyguards witnessing the grotesque transformation, the firefight ensued in earnest. With the Yakuzas firing at the mutated women, and the Jurogumos leaping, tearing and biting into human flesh.

    While this was occurring, Masamune was watching with morbid fascination from the reception area window. Melon Pan and Mikaboshi were regarding the scene with smug satisfaction, whereas Amaya, through the Gauntlet, had a look of despair at the ensuing bloodbath.

    When the bullets stopped flying, one of the Jurogumos was dead, while the remaining 2 were heavily injured. Reacting quickly, Masamune decided to run back into the seminar hall, and into the Spirit Road, to tell Amaya to quickly Command the Spirits to enter the Road before they decide to flee. As he was making his way into the hall, a human-shaped blur ran past him and out of the building. Apparently, Reimu had the same idea of striking while they had a chance to flee. And therefore she used Acceleration to run out and strike at one of the Jurogumos with her wooden sword. Being already heavily wounded, the Jurogumo toppled to the ground. By this time, I have already entered the Road and told Amaya to compel the remaining spider into the gate. The forced compulsion caused the spider to run into the building in an infuriated dash. Running past Mikaboshi who quickly tossed a Napthalene compound on its hulking form to set it ablaze. As it entered the Road, it was already in flames, so Masamune, standing at the side of the gate, used his mastery of the Forces arcanum to increase the intensity of the flames. The fires enveloped the creature and its forward momentum causing it to drop just in front of Amaya, the one who summoned it.

    Once we were sure all 3 spirit monsters were dealt with, we proceeded with the clean up. We dragged the 2 spider carcasses outside into the building and into the Spirit World. After which, Melon Pan kept civilians and witnesses from approaching too close to the scene with his legal authority as a policeman. Amaya and Mikaboshi proceeded to wipe the trail of blood into the building with their Death and Matter magics. And I proceeded to loot the corpses for any valuables.

    And that’s how our Cabal rolls. Apparently.

    ======================================================================
    For those who want to discuss more, here are the Endangered Species AP threads at your local RPG forums:
    RPG.net:
    http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?619517-Mage-the-Awakening-Endangered-Species

    White Wolf:
    http://forums.white-wolf.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=1328545&

    • Hikkikomori says:

      And as for the person Masamune was calling, it was one of his customers since I purchased the Allies Merit for ‘Rich Matrons’, due to my profession as a male host. So my source of information was from rich women gossip. After 40 minutes of sweet nothings and promises on the phone, I did get the name and residence of one of the deceased Yakuza’s wife.

      If we actually spent more time investigating it, I probably would have found out about the Yakuza boss’s wife’s true nature. But seeing as were gung-ho and wanted to clean this up as soon as possible to avoid future murders, we didn’t take the long route.

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