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1000 Mage Plots

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  • Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
    Wait, if the Verbana cabal owned the land...why was it for sale at all? Why didn't they just keep the land off the market? They aren't obligated to sell if they don't want to.
    This is explained in the post - the area of land is so attractive ( because of it's characteristics, and it's location ) that it would look very suspicious to any mundane humans ( or Nightfolk ) that it has been undeveloped for years, and that it is left unattended for much of the time.
    I thought about the land being sold with contacting the Verbenae Cabal yesterday, but I reasoned the Verbenae would place the sale offer at an agency with such an option to make the offer seem more genuine ; and they thought that anyone who would pay such a high price would be so gullible that they would easily influence the person with words or Magick to not interfere at all with the land. You are right that it is too contrived that the sale would automatically be carried out. I have changed the plot so that it is an extremely high potential buyer's deposit that the Technocrat of the Syndicate paid to the agency handling the ( facade ) sale offer.


    • A Technocratic student from the Iteration-X Convention has opted to remain the the university that she or he was studying before becoming Enlightened and joining the Technocracy. He still went to live in the city's Technocracy Construct ; him staying at the university was deemed useful in regard to him getting first hand experience of how mundane humans interact and makes choices within an institution of learning.

      The professor teaching one of the classes the young Technocrat has as part of his course had to leave because of being invited to a series of public appearances in another country, where she is popular because of both her contributions to both science and literature. She just couldn't disappoint so many of her fans, and not use this occasion to gain further acclaim. Another reason she went because after she confided the opportunity to the students during the class' first session, the young Technocrat jokingly offered to teach the class as a replacement tutor, and during the next session managed to prove herself as she cautiously gave him the chance to do so for almost the entire session.

      The young Technocrat has been an excellent tutor. That he would manage as a replacement tutor was almost a certainty ; but he has gone beyond this. Not only he presents the material in flexible and imaginative ways, he also has a knack for encouraging students to ask questions, and leading discussions to most productive outcomes. The atmosphere at the class is so oriented towards participation and exploration of the particular topics, that almost all of the students are reading the necessary texts before each session, and doing any additional work that is asked of them by the Iteration-X

      However, as good as this is, this can't be. The excellent opinion that the young Technocrat has gained as a tutor is more than excellent - it is perfect, and the Iteration-X er's natural optimism and friendliness has made him so popular that he is often discussed by both the cadre and the students of all years. Such popularity and interest could be troublesome in the future, especially since there is little benefit or opportunities in this particular situation ; no matter how pleasant it is, in practice there are far too many persons at the university talking about the young Technocrat. The senior Technocrats from the city have sent a Technocrat from the New World Order. Before introducing herself, she first attended one of the lessons, posing as a student who had a window of time between classes and wanted to check this class out, to see if she liked it enough to sign up for it during the next university year.

      After this session, the NWO member stayed at the classroom, and engaged in conversation with the Iteration-X er until the class was empty, at which point she briefly showed him her Correspondence : Data apparatus that she knew he would recognize. After locking themselves in a room, the Technocrat from the NWO outlined the situation to the young Technocrat, stressing at the conclusion that he wasn't to blame for the situation ; it was only after extensive investigations and case analysis that the members of the New World Order confirmed that there is a slight but notable risk of such popularity being problematic in the future. In this case, the problematic factor is that many persons will consider the Technocrat to be characteristic or exceptional in some way ; thus, too many questions might be asked about him if he behaves in a way contrary to the image that he has at the university, while acting in the future as a Technocrat. ( And the Iteration-X er's future is important to the member of the NWO, as while preparing for meeting him and the current task, she has developed some feelings for him and a considerable crush on him. Other than smiling a lot and being very relaxed with him, she has not acted towards him upon her feelings. )

      The member of the NWO will keep her cover as a student at the university, and attend the remaining five ( out of fifteen ) sessions of this class. She has to gather data and information for working out how to most convincingly explain the excellent teaching of the young Iteration-X er ; this will tone down his popularity, as he won't be seen as an extremely intelligent, organized, and sociable person. Several approaches can be tried. For example, should the Iteration-X er inform the students that the subjects of the classes are ones that he is especially interested in, and this is why the sessions have been so excellent. Or maybe the students could, and should, be convinced that it was them at those specific classes contributing so much that they were such a nice and valuable meetings. There are many options which could be considered and tried ; but first the variables and circumstances must be known. In such situations, when the secrecy and privacy of members of the Technocracy might be disturbed ( if even slightly ) , there is no room for mistakes.

      [ The player characters could be attending or working at the university, or be involved in regard to the university in some way, or they might hear about the young Technocrat because of his popularity. ]
      Last edited by Muad'Dib; 01-08-2019, 05:09 PM.


      • 185) One of the PCs receives a note - sender unknown - pointing them to an address. If the PCs investigate, they discover a sparsely furnished house on the edge of a swamp. Inside is a hidden cache of weapons and supplies, as if it were a prepared safehouse. Moreover, the front door has a mail slot, and the inside of the front door is piled up with envelopes. But these envelopes all lack either forwarding or return addresses; they simply have a series of numbers and letters written on the edges, likely a code.

        The contents of the envelopes are the important part. They contain long, dry reports, pertaining to the goings on at the Chantry or Construct the PCs work at. The house, as it turns out, is a drop point for someone spying on them. The level of detail implies either that the Chantry/Construct was bugged or scried, or else a member of the Chantry/Construct is a double agent. So, first and foremost, the PCs will need to determine whether one of their sect-mates is a traitor.

        However, there's also the matter of who tipped the PCs off to the safehouse. Who would know about the spying, and want to let the PCs know about it? And why?

        There are a few options:
        • The one who tipped the PCs off is the Rogue Council (if the PCs are Traditions) or Project Invictus (if Technocracy), forces working behind the scenes to uncover problems plaguing the sect.
        • The one who tipped the PCs off is a rival spy to the one leaving the intel drops, who feels threatened by the PCs' sect getting close to discovering them. Ergo, they're exposing a different spy, in the hopes of diverting attention away from themselves. The two spies may or may not even be members of the same side, with one electing to sacrifice the other (either in sanctioned fashion or unilaterally) in order to protect themself.
        • The one who tipped off the PCs is a Nephandus (or Nephandi pawn), who is also the one who gathered the dropped evidence. There is no second spy, only the single Fallen agent who has gathered as much intel as they desire, and now intend to sow discord within the Chantry/Construct's ranks. If they are so busy chasing their own tail - accusing each other of betrayal and conspiracy - it furthers the goals of the Fallen, and perhaps even distracts from greater schemes they have planned.
        • The one who tipped off the PCs is a member of the Disparate Alliance, who believes the other spy is a Nephandi pawn. Ergo, they'll oppose the infiltration simply to stymie what they see as Fallen schemes. The one who left the tip off is likely a Batini, or perhaps a Solficati or Templar who "is a loyal member of the Traditions" (while secretly funneling information to the Alliance).
        • The one who tipped off the PCs is ALSO the one leaving the intel. They are a member of the Chantry/Construct who labors under deep-planted mental conditioning, that makes them report information to another side. Until now, they've been unaware of their activity, but recently discovered the conditioning. Believing they would be censured - or worse - they have been reluctant to confess that they've been compromised. But they also cannot abide being an unwilling mole, and so anonymously betrayed the safe house in the hopes of putting an end to it. They walk a fine line between stopping the spying, and not being discovered as the spy.
        Last edited by Bluecho; 01-08-2019, 08:46 PM.


        • 186)

          A Cabal of Tradition Mages in the city have had their favourite car - which they used for almost a decade - stolen. Although not modified or enchanced with Magick in any way, this is because the Mages continually put off any changes and experiments with Magick in regard to it. The car's customizations, decorations, and history are such that they wanted to pick carefully what exactly to do, what Magick to use, and where to start. Also, the Mages wanted to start the modifications during a period in which they would have more time and resources to do the job in a rush of work that would be an unforgetable and valueable experience.

          The Mages have failed to track the thieves through mundane and Magickal methods ; this has caused them to worry that the thieves might have acted on behalf of a Mage, or some other Nightfolk. But it could as well be that some Mages not related to the theft have interfered with the Cabal's attempt at tracking and divining in regard to the stolen car ; or maybe the Cabal's castings simply failed.

          Because the car is very important to them, the Cabal have decided to contact the Technocrats in the city ; who they know from few fleeting non-hostile encounters and interactions. If the Cabal's search and investigation attempts fail, maybe the Technocrats will suceed. It's also possible that the Traditions Cabal together with the Technocrats will through joint efforts and cooperation find the car ; and get to know each other more closely through this cooperation.


          • 187) If one of the PCs has entered into a romantic relationship with an NPC, all may seem fine. Except all of a sudden, the PC's household appliances and possessions start to act up. Microwaves overcook dishes, rugs trip people up, doors jam, lights flicker, etc. Nothing in the house is working as it ought. And it only ever happens when the PC's new significant other is around. A magickal examination doesn't show any signs of spells being weaved on the house or cast from afar, either, and the NPC doesn't have any visible hexes or effects on them. The trick to figuring out the problem is by using Spirit. If anyone talks to the spirits of the house, they'll find most of them are wide awake (regardless of whether the PC is an animist or not).

            And they do not like the PC's new partner.

            Something about the NPC doesn't sit right with the spirits of the house. Unless it's an old house, the spirits aren't experienced enough to convey why they dislike this person, and even old items have nothing to say. They just don't care for the NPC, in a way they are unable or unwilling to articulate. It's just a feeling they have, and they make this displeasure known through minor rebellions here and there.

            Which begs the question: Why do the spirits dislike the PC's significant other? What, if anything, can be done to fix the problem? Should the PCs be worried that this NPC was somehow so spiritually offensive that the objects in the PC's house awoke themselves in order to rebel against them?


            • 188) a Virtual Adept or NWO operative, PC or NPC, notices a really strange anomaly in data regarding arson and other crimes committed by children. A huge spike in deadly house fires where the cause might be linked to the behaviour of a 4-8 year old child. An upturn in parents and siblings being injured by children in that age group, or being driven to suicide. Posts by concerned parents and teachers reporting disturbing drawings of people burning in fires, or finding their children playing with matches and lighters.

              (CW for harming, manipulating and grooming children, stuff you'd see in horror films where children are possessed by demons or ghosts)

              The disturbing reality is a group of Nephandi working through creepy and dangerous children's youtube channels, making the videos a virtual foundation for the hypnosis of kids. The threatening character "Sarah" befriends the children, and starts getting them to have special secrets. Eventually she starts getting the children to perform silly pranks, minor acts of theft. Once they've been properly conditioned they are manipulated with threats and powerful Mind magick until they become the tool in some heinous act of murder, the most common being causing a gas or electrical fire while their family is asleep, after making sure to lock the doors and hide mummy and daddy's phones. In other cases, electrical fires are caused by spirits attacking the home (electrical fires being an obvious means for some data/virus spirits), using the child's actions (made under the instructions of the videos) as a way of summoning them.

              In cases where the viewers are observed to have magickal talent through their interaction with the videos (Sphere observations can be made through web cams and similar) they will be approached by Sarah in real life, who kidnaps them into the "care" and training of the Nephandi. A plot point could be their attempts to get their hands on a Widderslainte with a powerful Avatar.

              Through investigation the PCs may discover this horrible cabal of manipulative Nephandi, and hopefully shut down their operation.
              Last edited by 11twiggins; 02-27-2019, 06:21 AM.


              • 189) The Syndicate has heard rumblings that some financial Reality Deviance may be afoot, surrounding a start-up that is experiencing rapid growth. As such, a Syndicate higher up has ordered the Technocrat PCs to investigate. Not to intervene, but simply to gather information, to be conveyed to him only.

                What the PCs don't know is, first, that while the company in question is publicly traded, 100% of the shareholders are members of a chapter of the Cult of Mercury, a Sorcerous society known for its highly ritualistic magic that requires in excess of 100 participants. And, second, that the Syndicate higher up who sent the PCs on this mission is the brother of one of the leaders of the company/cult. The Syndicate rep has been aware of his brother's Deviance for a while, but feels that blood is thicker than water. So he's been covertly shielding the cult from casual inspection, and this current assignment is simply him trying to get out in front of rumors that have reached the Union as a whole. If "his" agents investigate, fork over all evidence, and are assured that "the Union will take care of it from here", it will prevent further trouble.

                Obviously, the more the PCs learn of the Cult of Mercury, the more dangerous it will be for the Syndicate man to let them just walk away. A single errant word to other Technocrats might jeopardize both the company and the Syndicate man. At this point, the Syndicate man is grasping at straws, to stabilize the situation. Eventually, he and the Cult of Mercury will have to do something about the PCs. Preferably in a way that doesn't draw the Union's attention to their demise. Sometimes, however, drastic measures are unavoidable.


                • 190) A PC grew up in a commune of druids, Verbena style sorcerers, acolytes and the occasional Mage. The pogrom destroyed this commune, and as far as they know, they are the only survivor. They hate the Technocracy for killing their family, and have become a crusader for the Traditions in their fight against the Union.

                  After some time this PC is contacted by a cousin, who it turns out had left the commune and sought his own fortune, not wanting to be separated from the rest of the world. This cousin is the only other survivor, and he begins to help the PC in exacting revenge against the Technocracy, giving him targets he has found to be linked to the activities of the Syndicate and the NWO.

                  There are two things the PC doesn't know:

                  1) The "commune" was a horrific cult that preyed upon new agers, hippies and mystics, pulling them into the community, making them into breeding stock and eventually sacrificing them to the old gods against their will. The central family of this cult, of which the PC is a member, were Revenants who broke away and became the gods of their own little world, peddling in Sorcery (and very rarely, Magick). They don't know this because they were very young when the commune was attacked, and the darker sides of the cult were handled with discretion. In fact the Technocracy only discovered the commune and chose to destroy it (rather than manage it in other ways) because of a huge list of cold cases where people who were groomed by the cult went missing or turned up dead, and the fact that the core of the cult were *hereditary Deviants*, meaning that reeducation wouldn't solve the problem. The Technocracy weren't right to do as they did, but they are much less wrong than the original story made it look. It could even be that the PC was wrong about everyone being killed; they simply fled from what looked like an extermination attack, but it was actually a rescue effort of sorts. Those members of the cult who were prisoners were reconditioned and released back into society with deviant memories removed, and only the core of the cult were killed.

                  2) His cousin left the cult because he was disgusted when he discovered the truth about its rituals; he had been raised with a callous outlook, but he was horrified by the idea of sacrificing people against their will, betraying people who had served them. As a Revenant and sorcerer he was able to survive on the streets, and eventually became an employee of an organized crime ring... which was the Venture of a member of the Syndicate. 15 years later he is a successful contractor working under a senior manager in the Syndicate, taking on kill commands against certain supernatural beings. When he discovers his cousin is still alive he decides to try and slowly bring him into the fold, giving him these targets (who are in fact unrelated to the Technocracy; the Syndicate want these people dead!) and then rewarding him with gifts and training and support. In his view he is training his younger cousin for a great career as a hitman, but he is unaware (at least at first) that his cousin has Awakened and has all the potential necessary to strike back against the Union for real...
                  Last edited by 11twiggins; 03-13-2019, 10:50 AM.


                  • 191) The PCs hear of a cabal of Unity of Thought mages (Guide to the Traditions, p. 75-77), who have situated themselves in a Chantry lab out in the sticks to pursue their research into the outer bounds of the human mind. Being researchers, this collaboration of Ecstatic, Etherite, and even some Virtual Adept mages are looking for folks willing to aid their experiments.

                    If the PCs go to check it out, there are a number of possible tasks they could help the UoT with, in exchange for money, favors, or sweet, sweet drugs.
                    • One or more PCs could allow themselves to undergo a test to see if a Seeking can be artificially induced, by subjecting the subject to a cocktail of drugs and flashing lights. To get the character in contact with their Avatar, and to do so in a more direct manner. Of course, engaging in this test will subject the PC to a surreal trip, as well as challenges both physical (the character needs to make Stamina checks to avoid reacting badly to the drugs and flashing lights) and mental (no Seeking is meant to be easy). If they succeed, however, the Storyteller may elect to grant them a free dot in Arete. At the very least, they will provide valuable data.
                    • If one or more PCs possess a brain implant, the UoT Virtual Adept will want them to participate in a test to see if two subjects can be linked together, for the purposes of enhancing total intellect by having two brains share the cognitive load. A cocktail of drugs, as well as a program written to the PC's brain, will facilitate the mind meld. In addition to the risks involved in such cutting edge, invasive research, the PC is willingly opening their mind up to another person on an intimate level, and vice versa. Which could create complications if either party has something to hide...or if they don't even know there's something hiding in their mind.
                    • One of the head researchers at the Chantry is an Insomnalin addict - a drug that allows one to go without sleep for days at a time. While he is capable of producing his own Insomnalin - he would have fallen asleep and never woken up again if he couldn't - home-made drugs always carry risks. He asks that if the PCs ever have an opportunity to poke around a Progenitor Pharma lab, they should snag any Insomnalin they find and bring it to him. Those Technocrats always have purer supplies, and even a short period without worrying about seizures or vomiting is worth much to him. The PCs could expect a hefty reward...if they are willing to steal from the Technocratic Union.
                    • If a PC is a shaman - especially a techno-shaman - they could help the UoT with a bit of a hardware problem. Some of their complex (and unlicensed) medical machinery has been acting on the fritz for quite some time, stalling research. No matter how many times they take the machines apart, they can find no mechanical failure. They wonder if there is, perhaps, a spiritual issue behind the problem, and if the PCs could please remedy it promptly. As it turns out, much of the parts were salvaged from a particular site, likely a defunct medical lab. Tracing the parts back to their source could go a long way towards untangling the spiritual baggage at work. But that would be a whole adventure unto itself.


                    • 192) An unidentified hunk of machinery fell from the sky and landed in the middle of a city park, located in a small town. Somehow, before federal agents or even local law enforcement could come in to secure the object, a huge collection of UFO enthusiasts got there first. Police only barely managed to cordon off the crash site before the park became a full blown UFO convention. With these "con" attendees have followed journalists of every major network, newspaper, and blog. When pressed, these journalists cite tips from anonymous sources that something "big" would go down in the city. UFO enthusiasts talk of a similar rumor floating around in their circles of the internet.

                      More than likely, the PCs were given similar foreknowledge of the "crashed UFO". Which is why they manage to arrive just in time to see members of the government, Technocracy, Star Council, and other groups moving in. All with designs of seizing as much material as they can. With the number of civilians and press in the area - all on guard for shady government types looking to collect the wreckage - it's going to be difficult for anyone to close enough to see the thing, let alone to collect what's in the crater.

                      Several plot points could arise as part of this event, and/or be the perspective for PCs in various campaigns.
                      • The mayor of the city was on the scene, and sees this "UFO" as just the shot in the arm that his city needs. The wreck and subsequent inrush of UFO freaks and media have already been a boon to the local economy. And while being known as a place where "a UFO crash-landed one time" would be okay for tourism, he guesses, it would be far better to be known as the home to a permanent crashed alien spaceship. So he's ordered the police to let no one get too close to the object, and has contracted his own photographers to start getting photos ready to sell. In the meantime, he's getting getting townsfolk to set up as many concession stands and other "income generators" as possible. All while drumming up paranoia among the crowds that the "gov'ment" will be on them at any minute, and that the alien fans should work to push back against this.
                      • Speaking of the "gov'ment", there are actually two factions at play here. There's members of the CIA, who arrive late and under the theory that they're looking at a crashed spy plane or satellite. They don't give much credence to the idea that it's really an alien spacecraft, but are prepared for anything. Their primary objective is to secure the site and analyse the wreckage, before they move it. The other faction are agents from the FBI's Special Affairs Division, who arrived relatively early, having been tipped off by parties unknown. Relatively low on the totem pole of the government, SAD agents have a vested interest in getting in and gathering data before other forces boot them out. Moreover, SAD stands to increase its respectability in the FBI if they can secure proof of the supernatural. Individual SAD agents may also simply want to uncover the truth (Fox Mulder style), or are looking for opportunity to impress enough higher ups to secure promotion OUT of what they see as a dead-end assignment. (Note: if this plotline takes place in a non-US country, obviously replace US-specific agencies with relevant equivalents).
                      • The Technocracy, obviously, wants to come in, co-opt as many authorities as possible, and move the contents of the wreck out to a secure Union facility. Unfortunately, while the air of UFO mystique will make Technocrat (especially New World Order) procedures more Coincidental, the large numbers of people make it difficult to operate unnoticed or unimpeded. Moreover, there is the need to study the wreck first, to determine what, if anything, the Union needs to do. If it's all just a Russian spy plane or network TV satellite, the Union could leave it be. If it IS something sensitive - a Ka'Luon spaceship, superstitionist Ethership, Void Engineer equipment, or Threat Null artifact(!) - it MUST be recovered, at all costs. Problem: with such a high profile case, walking in and asserting authority might be harder than usual. After all, the CIA (or equivalent agency) have sent some high ranking folks, who would know for a fact who was cleared to come and what the top brass want, and see unknown operatives as potential agents of another national power.
                      • While Sorcerers from the Star Council and/or Thal'hun would love to get their hands on the whole "alien spacecraft", they're not influential or powerful enough to make off with entirely. They know this, and are willing to settle for sneaking in, gathering data, and maybe making off with chunks of metal or scattered parts/equipment. The Star Council in particular rely on scavenged "alien" equipment for their linear arts, and haven't have a sizable infusion of fresh finds since breaking into that government storage facility way back when. Further complicating matters, the Star Council and/or Thal'hun, unlike other groups converging on the site, are part of the same UFO subculture as the masses of enthusiasts that have arrived. They're "kin", as it were. As such, while such Sorcerers are unlikely to have much pull with the police, the mayor, or the government, they could quite possibly get the crowds on their side. Moreover, their technomancy is particularly at home in the Reality Zone that develops here.
                      • Tradition mages have their own interest in the "UFO". Etherites may take it at face value, or may figure that it could be an artifact from the many wars the Society of Ether and Void Engineers fought in Etherspace. Certain Hermetics and Choristers may get it in their minds that the wreckage are pieces of the Crystal Spheres, broken and tumbled to the firmament, or possibly a heavenly chariot. Virtual Adepts would love to get their hands on any computer equipment the wreckage may contain, whether the hardware and software is alien, Technocratic, or governmental. Any Traditionalist could be attracted by the "UFO" for the purposes of selling what they obtain to other people, or because another group (like the Rogue Council) asked them to investigate.
                      • And what of the "spaceship" itself? If the Storyteller and players were amenable, they could run it as a one-shot, with the PCs being crashed aliens, desperately in need to escape notice and/or capture, and to find a way out of their situation. They could try to sneak out of town and go into hiding, gain asylum from any of the alien enthusiasts, cut a deal with the government or Mages (promising safety in return for telling them how the ship works), or try to covertly repair the ship and fly away. For this sort of game, treat the PCs (or NPCs) as Bygones.


                      • 193) The PCs or a local Chantry/Construct come under attack by witchhunters. If the hunters are killed, however, they reappear a couple weeks later, seemingly none worse for wear. Nor do they appear to remember having attacked and died previously. Although their memories are generally gone from the previous encounter, they may be on their guard for certain tactics the mages used on "them", prompted less by concrete experience than by a sense of deja vu. Whatever the event, the hunters will seemingly return to life, over and over, if they are dispatched. The PCs are prompted - of their own initiative or by urging of mage allies - to investigate the phenomenon.

                        What is causing these hunters to come back repeatedly? There are a few possibilities:
                        • The hunters are clones, created by the Technocracy or some other group and endowed with the hunters' memories. Somewhere, there is a location where these clones are created.
                        • The hunters are unstuck in time somehow, each iteration being pulled from the same point in their personal timelines. Could be intentional or accidental.
                        • The hunters are magical copies, born of dreams. Who dreams? That's the question, certainly.
                        • The hunters are Paradox spirits, created by backlashes induced by the mages having used magick to kill the hunters the first time. Only the original hunter team were real people, and their Grudge influenced Paradox.
                        • The hunters are the pawns of a Tzimisce vampire, having been fleshcrafted and Dominated into the likeness of the same set of people. Who is this Tzimisce, and what's their beef with the local Awakened?


                        • 194) A Dark Ages Mage is somewhat "touched". She seems out of place. She writes out complex algebraic formulae for some hypothetical "thinking mechanism" that she keeps having dreams about. Long lists of Xs and Ys forming what she calls a "binary code", whatever that means. Oh she's a genius, but she seems to loathe practical machinery, simple mechanisms, only working with gears and mechanics because she feels she has to. Her numerology and ritual arts impress her mentors, but she has earned a reputation of being slightly mad.

                          This is the sad fate of one ideal recruit for the Virtual Adepts who simply came into being far, FAR too early. Thanks to a "future life" of her Avatar, she is plagued with information about computers and digital technology that is all but useless to her, and she is greeted by a Digital Web that is almost entirely empty, a barren void that she cannot populate.

                          This Mage could work well as an NPC in a DA Chronicle, or a Past Life of a VA Mage in a modern Chronicle.

                          She leaves a magnum opus when she dies; created with Level 5 Sphere effects, this sequence of Xs and Ys, when converted into 1s and 0s, is the binary expression of her mind and soul, imprinted on the back of a canvas self-portrait she made in her later life. Should someone enter the sequence into a computer in the modern era, she will be resurrected, finally free to explore the age she has dreamt of.


                          • Concerning the Order of Hermes, House Criamon are known for their obsession with riddles and enigmas, a preoccupation with time (and therefore Time), and the presence of designs that appear on their skin. Ars Magicka describes these markings as not tattoos, but a form of what Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults describe as "stigma", or "stigmata". A phenomenon that occurs outside the Criamon mage's will, usually after they've reached some personal milestone on their way to Enlightenment. In this book, Criamon mages don't, as a rule, get tattoos, as they see them as merely a source of power, not insight in the great Riddle.

                            While I love the idea of a Hermetic wizard bearing a plethora of designs on their skin, when it comes to Mage: The Ascension, I assume that Criamon mages DO tattoo themselves. It makes it seem less like magic is happening to the mage, and more like they're practicing body modification as part of a magickal lifestyle. Their tattooing serves the triple purpose of furthering their enlightenment, acting as a ready set of Instruments, and because the etching of ink into flesh provides a potent Instrument unto itself (Ordeals). MtAs Criamon mages don't just spontaneously gain skin markings, save through Paradox or deliberate magickal Effect. Symbols are derived from research on symbolic/numerological/geometric designs, or from visions and dreams that the mage ruminates on.

                            And now, the real point of the post...

                            195) A master Criamon mage, who lived in the Dark Ages, spent a lifetime amassing a network of symbolic and geometric designs. A collection of magickal Instruments and evidences of his path towards Ascension. He never achieved this goal, but in the last ten years he developed a new perspective on a greater matter than even his own personal Ascension: Mass Ascension. Until his death, he added greatly to his tattoos, appending riddles, numeric codes, and ciphers to his skin. It is said that anyone who could solve the enormous riddle, amid the hodgepodge of designs accumulated over the years, could find the secrets of leading humanity into a mass Ascension. That it would break people out of the cycle of reincarnation, and allow humans to rise beyond the material world of time and space.

                            Other mages, much less grandiose, have their own theories. Some see it as a teaching tool (that may even be a Grimoire). Others, that it holds the secrets to finding a hidden cache of lost and forgotten Hermetic artifacts. Still others suppose it's a treatise describing a Rote known to the old mage, if only it could be deciphered.

                            Whatever the case, one might assume the secrets would die with him. Not so. He left instructions to his apprentices, to have the skin carefully cut from his corpse, and made into tanned leather. The task was completed as ordered, leading to the Order of Hermes being in the possession of a rolled bundle of human leather, covered in tattoos, preserved against the ravages of time by advanced Criamon magick.

                            Many, many mages tried to sort out the grisly trophy over the years, to no avail. Eventually, the conflict of the Sorcerer's Crusade and subsequent periods in the Ascension War saw the old master's "manifesto" moved from place to place. Until it was lost.

                            Now, however, rumors abound of the skin being located. If PCs track it down, they discover only half the hide. The other half was carefully cut off. Was the other segment of material destroyed? Or, as the care in the cutting suggests, was the knowledge divided? If this is so, where is the rest of the skin? Who, if anyone, has that part now? And what do those parties intend to do with it?


                            • 196) In the course of their adventures, the PCs come across the most curious individuals that can be met: themselves.

                              Specifically two groups: themselves from the past, and themselves from a possible future.

                              The future espoused by their forthcoming selves is bleak indeed, both personally and generally. Whereas the PCs' past selves will probably be very confused by this advanced age, and very vulnerable (depending on how long ago a given PC Awakened and/or studied magic). For the record, the PCs have no memory of being thrust forward in time, deepening the mystery. These are not clones or copies or Paradox Spirits, though, as the only irregularity is the unmistakable smell of Time.

                              This is a problem, as all versions of the PCs are being targeted by clockwork automatons, that seem to have the ability to manipulate time. Figures who seem dead set on putting an end to all these time shenanigans, one way or another.


                              • 197) In a small town, a video camera (or, to be more contemporary, a cell phone) is found in the woods, on a pile of stones deliberately stacked. The local authorities can't make heads or tails of the footage, and for whatever reason the Storyteller devises, the tapes/files are sent to the Mage PCs. (Perhaps the Sheriff is a relative of one of the PCs, and is vaguely aware that they have expertise on "strange happenings"; or maybe the sheriff is an NPC the cabal has worked with before, and so trusts them). In true Blair Witch Project fashion, the recordings are a Found Footage scenario.

                                One the players will proceed to act out, when their regular Mage PCs sit down to review the tapes.

                                The players are given control of pre-gen Sleeper PCs, who go into the wilderness in search of a local urban legend. They'll be required to make a series of rolls to even find various sites of interest, some the PCs were aware of beforehand and some which are new discoveries. Because of their mundane nature, when they invariably start getting lost, these PCs will have no supernatural means of finding their way back or telling what threats they are being assailed with.

                                The "trip" is liable to play out over several days; the Storyteller determines when the "camera" gets shut off (due to "battery concerns" or "nothing of interest"). When the camera is off, the Storyteller can decide to advance the situation in suitably dramatic ways. Because of the Found Footage conceit, the players are only aware of what happens in the presence of the camera; if the group decides to split up or one PC leaves, the players are kept in the dark as to what happens, and the ST makes executive decisions about what the temporary characters do. As expected, some characters may leave and disappear forever, or are found later, quite dead.

                                Between this and the threats coming against them, it's almost certain that the temporary PCs will be picked off one by one. While taking away player agency entirely should be avoided, the ST can "nudge" things in the right direction through judicious use of "cuts" in the footage (to rearrange conditions) or by making characters roll Willpower against fear effects. For added flavor, the ST may pass notes to individual players, to prompt them towards actions that may not make sense in context to the other PCs. Due to the nature of the mystery and the transitory nature of the characters, the players should be encouraged to use the time they have to gather as many clues as possible.

                                When the last PC perishes, the Found Footage sequence ends, and the regular PCs are free to decide what they intend to do about it. To make investigation more enticing, the ST should pepper the locations with symbols or ritual implements, or else with the temp PCs finding notable occult books or items. Things that the normal temp PCs can't make heads or tails of, but which could be of great interest to the Mage PCs.

                                Several possible explanations or ways the situation could go down:

                                1) The threats are not only illusory, they take forms tailored to individual temp PCs, even looking different to each of them. When caught on "camera", the threat appears distorted by video artifacts, as if the true form cannot be recorded. Notes should be passed to players to help them play the part.

                                2) The threat is one or more of the PCs, who act as confederates for the ST. Being absent when key "spookiness" happens, lying to fellow PCs, and otherwise plotting against each other. This does not mean that there can't also be legitimate supernatural dangers afoot.

                                3) The temp PCs stumble through a Shallowing, and enter an Umbral realm. At first, their surroundings are similar enough to the ones in the Material World as to be indistinguishable. The environs gradually becoming more and more surreal. Them being "lost" is a direct result of space being relative in the spirit world.

                                4) The footage is an elaborate hoax, created by some party or another. Whether it's just an innocent student film, or a deliberate attempt by parties of means to lure the curious into death traps.

                                5) The Found Footage is, itself, a memetic agent. The events depicted changing from one set of fewers to another, because it's a supernatural "tape". The footage shows the viewer what it thinks will disturb or intrigue them. The temp PCs may never have been real, or may have met fates far different than the ones hinted in the footage (the events being warped to fit the viewer). The tape either wants people to stay away, or wants them very much to investigate further.

                                6) The footage is cursed. By watching the events unfold, the Mage PCs are hexed. Likely, the curse will force viewers to go to the woods it was filmed in. The first clue that something is wrong may be a series of terrible nightmares, and a longing to go to that wilderness area. The next is that the PCs find out that the sheriff who sent the footage also left for that area shortly after sending the material, and has not returned. If the PCs refuse to go, they might begin to take Bashing damage during their sleep, as the nightmares become supernaturally potent. This cursing should not be compulsory; with the right Sphere knowledge, characters should be able to resist or unweave the hex. Even so, the knowledge that the tape is cursed should be enough to pique their interest.

                                7) The temporary PCs are still alive. Possibly by some sort of time warp shenanigans, the Mage PCs have a chance to arrive on the scene and save the temp PCs from their film-ordained grisly fates. That is, assuming the Mage PCs succeed.

                                These are not the only possibilities, nor are they mutually exclusive. Storytellers should work to tailor the narrative to fit their preferences.
                                Last edited by Bluecho; 09-01-2019, 10:35 AM.