Last night only two of my players were able to make it, so I decided against running my L5R Campaign in lieu of something else. Originally we were supposed to go for D&D Next, but after some thought I figured that a two-man game of D&D might be a tad difficult to swing. So I marched up to my bookshelf of games and decided to run a quick one-shot of Mage: the Ascension instead.
Character creation took a little bit of time as I worked to remember the details of making a character in Ascension, but thing slowly fell into place as my players put together their characters for the game which I decided to set in Las Vegas. Hikkikomori played a DJ of some local fame and influence that belonged to the Cult of Ecstasy, while Silver Countess played a young genius hacker from the Virtual Adepts. The Scenario itself was pretty straightforward, with Hikkikomori’s DJ being contacted to help investigate a curious case of a customer of one of the higher end “escort” services being utterly numb to any sensations of pleasure. There was magic involved in the person’s state, but the question was how the person contracted the condition.
As a member of the Ecstatics, Hikkikomori’s DJ was asked to look into the matter as it was an affront to the Cult of Ecstasy’s path to enlightenment. Dulling someone’s senses (unwillingly, at that) is not acceptable to the Code of Ananda and they needed to get to the bottom of things before it became more widespread. Silver Countess’ character was tapped as a contact and asset that would be able to help him in doing investigative work, and the two followed the trail of the numb man with copious amounts of Postcognitive magic, and technomagical know-how to hack into public (and private) records. Ultimately they found one of the dealers that had been handing out a strange pill as a little extra during their transactions, and tracked down the dealer’s supplier to a small clinic in a less affluent neighborhood in the city.
Hikkikomori’s character pulled on a few “friends” from the Cult of Ecstasy and they arranged for the supplier’s car to break down in a conveniently remote location, where they confronted him and delivered the message of knowing just what he’d been up to. The Supplier himself was a Mage, but there was no violence, just a simple debate on what was right… allowing people to take such substances and risking addiction (or worse?) or taking away a person’s freedom to choose by enforcing control over what they can or can’t experience? Ultimately it was a foregone conclusion with the supplier leaving Vegas under threats of pain, but the points were well made. He’d been working in third world countries and had seen what drugs could do to people. His efforts were meant to stop the cycle. Hikkikomori argued that the better angle would be to find ways to help in rehabilitation, that learning to harness experiences was a function of learning, and being able to help people get back on their feet was the nobler act.
It felt good to be back in the saddle on Mage: the Ascension. I missed a lot of things from the game, including the Paradigms, the conflicting worldviews being a source of conflict, and the Revised-era’s take on the Ascension War as a lower-key battle for hearts and minds, while trying to resuscitate the fading embers of wonder and magic in the minds of the masses.
Though, I will admit that I’m glad that combat didn’t happen, the whole old “Roll to hit, roll to dodge, roll for damage and roll for soak” thing was really time consuming. I think I might have to start reading up on the Mage Translation Guide to see how easily I can convert Ascension stuff to Awakening Mechanics.