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Actual Play: Perpetual Devices

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  • Actual Play: Perpetual Devices

    The Guardian waits, unseen, hanging from the ceiling of the room that is her world. She has no memory of any other space, no cognition of anything beyond the four walls and the voice of the Machine in the back of her mind.

    Her purpose is simple. Protect the room’s contents from any intruders. Ambush and destroy them. Eight bladed limbs fold and unfold as she waits, patiently, to fulfil her purpose.

    Occasionally, the Machine gives her a new order. To spare one of Its servants when they come to take away a book. She watches as they enter, move purposely to one of the shelves and take out a volume. They never stop to look, never hesitate.

    Once, the Guardian wonders if they know she is there, above them, watching. She dismisses the thought.

    These infrequent visits are the only event that gives the Guardian a sense of the passing of time. Perhaps they are weeks apart. It could be months, even years. The Guardian is endlessly patient.

    What do they do with the books?

    The question appears in her mind after one such visit. She does not know the answer, has no context for it. The Guardian is becoming aware that something lies beyond this room. The books are taken to this other place. The books are important. That is why she protects them.

    One day, she drops down from the ceiling and examines the shelves. Her many eyes scan the spines. A delicate claw picks up one of the volumes. The Guardian knows, somehow, that books are to be read even though she has no memory of doing so, no memory of even seeing a book opened.

    She opens the book. She reads. And she Falls.

    This is a solo game of Demon: The Descent. Before I jump into things, a little backstory on our PC. As an angel she was a Guardian, protecting a small cache of (entirely mundane) books. These books were occasionally taken away by Psychopomps for their arcane missions. The Librarian spent most of her time hiding out of sight, waiting to ambush any unauthorised visitors, but a kernel of curiosity within her heart grew and grew; what was so important about the books? Eventually, she read one. She Fell.

    Now she’s Ruth Varlow, owner and proprietor of a second-hand bookshop. Like every second-hand bookshop you’ve ever visited, it’s a labyrinthine place. There are walls and alcoves that make no architectural sense. There’s a staircase that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. There are more books downstairs in the basement, a basement that seems far too large for such a tiny shop (and must extend underneath the road).

    To the Unchained, she’s the Librarian, an expert on gadgets. Sometimes she makes them to order, or helps others to make their own. Other times she investigates or dismantles gadgets. It’s her niche in the local community. Having trouble with gadgets? Go see the Librarian. Unsurprisingly, she’s an Inquisitor. The player’s currently working on a theme song for her and we’re in the process of drawing her Cover’s face (her demonic form is a lot trickier to capture).

    So, here’s a summary of our first session!

    Chapter One: The Black Box

    When the going gets tough, the tough get a Librarian. – Joan Bauer

    Like many demons, the Librarian has two phones. One is Ruth’s. The other is a pay-as-you-go phone even an expert would struggle to link to Miss Varlow. This is the number she gives to other demons. This is the number she received a text message on.

    Come to the hospital morgue. There’s a job which requires your skills. Payment to be arranged in person.

    The message came from a demon called Quill, another Inquisitor (who the Librarian had previously assisted in some gadgeteering). Quill’s notable as the favoured crony/sidekick/assistant to Ms Black, one of the oldest and most powerful demons in the city. Black used to be a Tempter but something (her final secret, according to rumour) changed her into an Inquisitor. Before, she was social and self-interested. Since then she became more reclusive, her aims opaque. In other words, she was mistrusted by the local Unchained for entirely different reasons.

    The Librarian headed off immediately, proceeding on foot (it’s a 15-20 minute walk). Once in the hospital, she contrived to look busy and proceeded to the hospital morgue, only to come face to face with a locked door. Not that a locked door is any barrier to one of the Unchained – there are countless ways demons can bypass something so simple and crude as a locked door.

    She knocked.

    The door was answered moments later by a nervous-looking young man, dark haired and bespectacled. Edward Knowles, Eddie, a Stigmatic whose life was forever changed when a body he was autopsying changed into a biomechanical horror. He recoiled in horror only to discover that his hands had changed inside it. He keeps them hidden, thick latex gloves covering them when he’s at work.

    He guided the Librarian to a bench, a body covered with a sheet, and a young, severe-looking woman that the Librarian knew as Quill’s primary (or possibly only) Cover. After a few short introductions, the sheet was removed to reveal the body of Victoria Blake, Ms Black’s main Cover.

    Victoria Blake was middle aged, with long dark hair. She was a little difficult to identify due to the bruising – clearly she was savagely beaten pre-mortem. But Quill needed to be sure. She touched the body, channelling waves of Aether into it.

    The body changed beneath her hands. A large set of wings, made of sharp metal feathers, hung loosely off the side of the bench. A smaller set was wrapped tightly around the body's torso. Each hand ended in three overlong, delicate fingers, arranged triangularly. The face had no mouth or nose and the eyes were black, huge, with tiny pinpoints of light glimmering in the depths if one stared into them. In place of bruises, pale palmprints were burned into her flesh. Eddie, hands trembling, no doubt remembering the day that changed his life forever, unfurled the inner wings to he reveal a void, a black space filled with distant stars. He didn't dare reach into that impossible, yawning emptiness. He closed the wings.

    Quill’s face didn't change. She showed no outward sign of mourning, of sadness or anger, but that meant nothing. A demon has perfect control of their expressions.

    Quill, satisfied that the body was truly Ms Black, took the Librarian outside (leaving Eddie to commence the autopsy). A taxi waited, the driver a demon known as the Courier. The Courier moves objects and people around in a variety of Covers and vehicles, most of them in some way enhanced with Embeds and Exploits. He’s a smuggler, moving cargo under the God-Machine’s nose, though he’s emphatically not a getaway driver and doesn’t take kindly to any demons who try to use him as one.

    His Cover, a balding man, drove the two Watchers to the storage locker. Quill took out a letter from Black. She didn’t share its contents, but the letter contained a key to a locker belonging to a Mrs Schwarzschild, bequeathed to her. This is why the Librarian was retained; her expertise with gadgets will help to identify any in the locker, including any potential traps. Black was quite the gadgeteer, too. Quill promised one of her dead mentor’s gadgets – a one-shot – in return for services rendered. She also said she wanted the Librarian there are as a witness. She doesn’t want rumours of Black’s death to be greatly exaggerated or understated.

    They arrived at an industrial estate. A bored clerk asked for ID when they tried to access Schwarzschild‘s locker. Quill produced a driving license with the name Schwarzschild, the mugshot matching her Cover’s face. Satisfied, the clerk took them to a locker, keys jingling in his pocket. The locker was little bigger than a safe deposit box. The clerk left them, saying he’d be at the desk when they were done.

    At this point Quill began to sweat ink, words staining her blouse and smudging themselves into illegibility. The Librarian pointed out the glitch and she buttoned up her jacket, wiping her face. The Librarian investigated the locker before opening it, looking for catches and triggers, secret compartments, and any sign that it might be a gadget, even using Aether to investigate. The locker was mundane. Inside was a cardboard box, similarly mundane. Its contents:

    One handgun, a polymer-framed Glock 9mm, the serial number carefully filed off.

    Three cartridges of 9mm ammunition.

    A roll of banknotes (totalling five hundred pounds).

    A pair of diamond earrings.

    A bundle of keys, colour-coded.

    A lighter embossed with a stylised flame.

    Three British passports, all with different names and photographs. None matched Victoria Blake’s face or name.

    A small digital camera (empty).

    A strange assembly of small wheels on a frame, each covered in letters from an unfamiliar alphabet.

    The Librarian donned pair of winter gloves, using the Embed Right Tools Right Job to ensure they didn’t penalise her dexterity. She inspected the gun, again using Aether to be sure, before pronouncing it normal (though incredibly illegal). She turned to the obviously unusual device, reaching into it with Aether and discovering that is was, in fact, a Lambda, rare gadget containing more than one Embeds or Exploit, and that one of these was Special Message.

    The Librarian asked Quill if the device was familiar, and while she had seen it on Black’s desk in the past Quill confessed she had no idea what it was or what it was supposed to do. The Librarian gave the gadget to Quill – this, clearly, was what Black wanted her to have.

    Now she investigated the lighter and found, unsurprisingly, it was another gadget (containing Combustion) and that it could be activated by striking the flint. She passed this, too, to Quill, before investigating a few other items. She learned that two of the passports were forgeries and one genuine, but nothing else appeared to be a gadget.

    After a brief discussion, Quill offered her the lighter and a thin card with a strangely oil sheen as payment. The card was the twin of the one she used to gain entry, a one-shot with the Authorized Embed installed.

    As they moved to leave, the clerk approached. There was a jingling of keys with each step, jingling which grew to a horrible clanking as chains shot from his sleeves, wrapping around Quill’s arms.

    A hunter angel, one known to local demons as the Gaoler.

    The Librarian whipped out the lighter and activated it with a flick, enveloping the trio in fire and burning her arms badly. The lighter was a booby trap. Thinking quickly, the Librarian used Fungible Knowledge to reprogram her brain, switching her impressive knowledge of mechanisms into an understanding of fighting stances. Her attempt to pull Quill free proved fruitless, however, and the fire she had unleashed had only ripped away the Gaoler’s human façade. A ruddy orange glow, like a forge, emanated from his eyes and mouth. His skin rippled as chains moved beneath the surface and steam hissed between his teeth.

    As wings unfurled from Quill’s back, the Librarian decided it was time to manifest at least a part of her true nature. Metal claws slid free from her fingers and toes and a second pair of limbs unfolded from her torso. These powerful metal limbs smashed through the chains, scattering broken links, and Quill broke into an immediate run.

    The Librarian followed suit, her talons providing an impressive advantage. She easily overtook the other Inquisitor, catching a glimpse of her compatriot’s transformation. Quill’s wings were large, beautiful, rippling fractal patterns swimming across their surfaces. Her eyes dripped with ink, as did her fingers, each of which ended in her namesake.

    As she smashed through the glass front door, the Librarian heard her phone ringing. Additional limbs made it easier to look at the caller ID – Eddie – and answer even while fleeing from a nightmarish chain-angel. Eddie told her, terrified, that somebody was taking the body away. The Librarian said to stall them, to which Eddie said he didn’t think he could stall these people… Realising what he meant, the Librarian ended the call.

    Quill burst through the shattered doorway. Behind her was the Gaoler, his human shape now nothing more than tatters of clothing draped from the chains that constituted his nightmare body, hammering into walls, half swinging and half dragging his clanking form after Quill. Conflicted, the Librarian fled, her limbs quickly moving her headscarf to cover her face before retracting back into her torso. Her claws slid back into her hands, though her talons remained, biting into concrete and powering her towards, then up, a nearby chimney. There she paused, using Right Tools Right Job to turn her glasses into a rudimentary telescope. She caught a glimpse of wings at ground level; Quill and the angel weren’t following.

    She quickly retreated to street level, afraid of risking compromise, of her face being seen, and hurried back to her home. Even with the last of her demonic form no longer manifest, her clothes were singed. The Librarian needed to dress her burns and change her outfit before she could go to the hospital.

    En route, the Librarian tried to call Quill. No answer. Next, after some thought, she called a Saboteur known as Violet. The local Saboteurs are mostly members of, or cowed by, a small ring that favour incredibly careful, subtle and surgical strikes against the God-Machine.

    Violet(s) isn’t a member, or cowed by anything. Some think she’s got a deathwish. She’s probably the only local demon you could call and say ‘The God-Machine’s servants are stealing a body, wanna stop them?’ and not get laughed at or trapped arranging a complicated payment scheme. Violet was suspicious, but decided she’d head to the hospital.

    At home, the Librarian rewired her brain again, switching her proficiency to medicine and expertly wrapping bandages around her arms and changing, hiding her bandaged hands with long sleeves and a fresh pair of gloves. Satisfied, she left quickly, hailing a taxi to the main entrance. At the hospital she rushed to the morgue door. She tried knocking again, but nobody answered. Using her new medical knowledge, she collared a tired looking doctor and convinced him to use his ID to open the door for her. Inside there was no sign of the body, Eddie or Violet. The Librarian hurried to the staff, asking after the body and using the Embed Cause and Effect to try to use this discussion to lead to it being found. The body couldn’t be found, nor a record of Victoria Blake in the system.

    The Librarian went outside, drawn by a pulse of Aether, to find a pretty young blonde woman in a leather jacket. Violet. The Librarian noted a slight blue glow under her collar. Violet had also arrived too late, but Eddie soon appeared and explained he’d watched two men, wearing labcoats over business dress, take the body away without any interference from hospital staff. They’d wheeled it into an ambulance driven by a third man, an ambulance that looked a little… off to his (Stigmatic) eyes. The Librarian, always the quick thinker, asked if he’d noted down the license plate, but sadly the license plate was just a string of numerical code, impossible to trace. The CCTV coverage is poor in the city where our game is set, so the Librarian was forced to concede, at least for now, that they could not be traced.

    The Librarian thanked Violet for coming and Eddie for running surveillance. Violet said the Librarian owed her a similar drop-in service sometime, which she agreed to. The Librarian headed home again, calling Quill. Still no answer…

    A few days later the Librarian accepted a delivery, the Courier delivering a parcel and a message. The parcel contained the odd device she’d given to Quill. The note was a cryptic statement –

    Vox in excelso
    A knight has fallen

    • Quill
    Storyteller Thoughts

    This is my second solo game and the first of what I hope to be a promising solo campaign. I’ve worked with the player before, he’s a real pro, though he’s new to Demon: The Descent. In many ways this game was a tutorial for him and an introduction to the game. Some of the situations – how do you bypass the locked door, how do you respond to a hunter angel trying to capture an ally - were tests for both of us to get to know the character better. The next few sessions will probably be a tad less action-packed and will play more to my player’s roleplaying strengths – interacting with NPCs. He’s already solved the little puzzle, though I did intend for the first one to be the easiest. (Yes, there are more to come. It’s a game of spies and conspiracy theorists, you’ve gotta have secret codes and ciphers.)

    Demon’s a great game to run solo, actually. The inherent paranoia of the setting is more fun without a ring to (nominally) trust. My player built his character very well for a solo game; Fungible Knowledge is an amazing power, letting the Librarian access any Skills she requires, doing away with one of the main difficulties of solo play. It, and the similar but less reliable Download Knowledge, might cause problems in larger groups, since they can potentially let the quiet computer expert outshoot the master marksman or turn the brawler into a socialising queen bee. Right Tools Right Job is also really damn good in the right hands – I feel we’ve barely scratched the surface of its utility this session.
    Last edited by Eremite; 04-18-2015, 04:57 AM.

    Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras, Night Horrors: Enemy Action
    Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
    After the Fall: Bonus Material

  • #2
    Chapter Two: Those Left Behind

    He who saves one life saves the world entire… – The Talmud

    The Librarian quickly translated Qull’s communique and began to make plans. She went to a piece of suborned Infrastructure she controlled, harvesting Aether. This suborned Infrastructure is her primary gadget-workshop, since it absorbs any Aetheric radiation. Here, she took her new one-shot ID card and uninstalled the Embed, learning Authorized.

    Next she took the strange device Quill had sent to her – the Black Box – and investigated it thoroughly, learning it was made from Special Message and Download Knowledge. When activated with Aether the wheels spun, symbols lining up to form the message Quill had sent with the Lambda. The Librarian discovered that the device was designed to reveal pre-coded messages in response to criteria – criteria such as a date or an individual – and how to program messages into it herself.

    She tried to contact Quill again, but her calls weren’t getting through.

    Next, she researched Richard Keller. The message, which she had decoded easily, had been simple. ‘April Fourth. Save Richard Keller.’ But who was he? She tracked birth certificates, newspaper records and websites and found that Keller was a local man who worked for an insurance company. While he was unremarkable, his wife Sophie had disappeared without a trace eleven years ago.

    The Librarian had to find him and uncover more information. Staking out his workplace, she spotted him leaving and dropped her keys, asking him if they were his. She managed to touch him, activating the Living Recorder Embeds. She would record Keller’s evening and download the information from him the following day.

    She waited for him outside his work the following morning and stumbled into him, downloading a rather boring evening (but learning that he lived alone, his adult children elsewhere). She was briefly stuck for what her next move should be before inspiration struck; though the Librarian had learned about Keller from a human perspective, she had no idea what the Unchained already knew about him and his missing wife.

    It was time to speak to Humboldt. Humboldt is a local information broker, another Inquisitor who exchanges information. The Librarian arranged to meet him in a coffee shop, where he used the Idle Conversation Embed to ensure they would not be overheard. He said the name Sophie Keller rang bells. He was unaware of Black’s demise, so the Librarian filled him on the events of the previous chapter (omitting a certain Lambda entirely from the narrative…). Humboldt exchanged his information about Sophie Keller in return, noting that the Librarian was still in credit.

    Sophie Keller was the Cover of Prudence, a demon who disappeared eleven year ago. It was genuinely assumed she was taken by God-Machine. Prudence defected to humanity, marrying and raising children. She was friends with the Family Man, a likeminded demon (and Integrator) and worked with Black previously. Humboldt provided contact details for the Family Man.

    The Family Man was on a long-term assignment, back in his angelic days. He was to protect a young girl at all costs and took on the role of a loving stepdad. He wasn’t told that when the girl turned fourteen his task would end and the girl would be sacrificed, but when that happened he faced something of a crisis. He defied the God-Machine and saved her life. He Fell. Despite this, the Family Man feels somewhat guilty for defying the God-Machine, though he continues to watch over the girl, and he says one day he’ll return to the God-Machine for judgement. Until then, though, he has a family to care for and protect. He keeps plugged in to Unchained society for his own protection. He does a few favours for people, though the rule is that you never visit him at home. Most demons are suspicious of him and wonder if he’ll betray them when he eventually returns to the Machine.

    The Librarian contacted him on the email address Humboldt provided, saying she had a book for his children and inviting him to visit the store during her lunch break the following day. He obliged her, and she gave him a copy of Children Of The New Forest, asking about Sophie and Richard Keller, revealing Black’s demise and her warning (though she didn’t mention the Lambda again).

    The Family Man didn’t know anything new, but was interested in looking out for Keller. He gave the Librarian some contact details, thanked her for the book and for looking out for ‘one of those left behind’.

    The Librarian needed a way to watch over Keller. Using Living Recorder every day wasn’t feasible, nor was tailing him – the Librarian had to live her life. Dropping everything to stalk Richard Keller would be incredibly compromising.

    So the Librarian decided to build a gadget. She devised a book with Living Recorder installed that would write what was happening to Keller, a book she could glance at while working to keep an eye on him from afar. But such a book would need to be primed, signed by Keller, to become active. The Librarian made the book. Now she needed the signature.

    The Librarian went into Keller’s workplace, using Authorized to masquerade as an inspector at the front desk and an office assistant once on Keller’s floor. She then activated Cause and Effect when going over some paperwork, finding a form without Keller’s e-signature. Calling him over to fix it by hand, some quick sleight of hand secured the signature on the book.

    The Librarian left and began to monitor Keller from afar. She wanted to know what he’d be doing on the fourth, and went to a pub when Keller and some of his co-workers took a long lunch. Once again, she used Cause and Effect, this time while making a deliberately complex order. The order included gin and tonic; one of Keller’s colleagues overheard and mentioned a beer festival the weekend of the fourth, inviting Keller and others. Keller revealed that he had no plans for that Saturday and might come along.

    The Librarian continued to watch over Keller as the fourth drew nearer. News of Black’s death was leaked by Humboldt; he felt this was something all local demons needed to know. Quill remained incommunicado.

    On the fourth, the Librarian read in her gadget-diary how Keller broke his leg slipping in a puddle and was rushed to hospital. She moved quickly, calling Eddie for the ward number for leg injuries and then calling for a taxi. While she waited she used Fungible Knowledge to rewrite her brain, once again prioritising medical knowledge. She used this upon arriving at the hospital to pose as a doctor, using Authorized when she was questioned. She saw Keller’s file and managed to take on the burden of his pre-op interview from another beleaguered doctor.

    Of course, at this point she’d met Keller three or four times in different settings, and he remembered seeing her in the pub a few weeks ago. The Librarian feigned forgetfulness, but said that it did ring a bell. Keller didn’t pursue it; being a perfect liar has its advantages.

    It also means nobody questions you when you claim that your patient’s blood pressure is low and that he shouldn’t be sent to surgery yet. The Librarian was wary of him going under the knife, afraid that surgical complications, anaesthetic or an unknown allergy might kill him. But her cover story had downsides. She was called upon to act as a doctor, and the medical knowhow provided by Fungible Knowledge was temporary. She managed to, barely, use technobabble to maintain the lie when it failed her at a key moment. She also faced compromise – Ruth Varlow isn’t a doctor – but shrugged it off.

    The Librarian used Fungible Knowledge again to refresh her medical knowledge and contacted Keller’s next of kin… and the Family Man. When he arrived she took him into a side-room. The Family Man started speaking Romansh (to ensure any listeners didn’t understand their conversation) and revealed some information he’d been holding back, since he wasn’t sure how much he could trust the Librarian and he wasn’t sure it was relevant.

    Keller never knew anything amiss about his wife. She lived quietly, secretly. But she looked upon him with eyes that saw through skin, saw the defective code in his cells, saw the mass growing in his pancreas. Pancreatic cancer has a very poor prognosis, even when caught early. Prudence didn’t want Richard to die. So he enlisted the help of Black, who was something of a gadget-expert, and created a Form Gadget, cutting out a piece of herself (specifically her ability to heal wounds). Keller has no memory of the time she operated on him as he slept. Quiescent, starved of Aether, the implant does not heal Keller’s injuries, but it does keep the cancer suppressed. It’s never even been diagnosed.

    The Family Man suspects the removal of this gadget will condemn Keller to pancreatic cancer and that this is the danger prophesied by Black. With the Librarian’s assistance, the two got access to a computer and discovered the surgeon scheduled to operate on Keller was Thomas Mason, a known stooge of the God-Machine. They realised he’d probably end up performing the surgery no matter how much they delayed or moved it, so a different solution was required. The surgery needed to be prevented entirely.

    Keller had a very nasty fracture. He couldn’t be given a cast and sent home. But perhaps the gadget inside him could be activated? It might be capable of fixing his broken leg. To this end, the two 'doctors' (the Librarian provided the Family Man’s cover story) went to have another look at Keller, ultrasounding his abdomen to find a small object inside. The Librarian touched his skin and managed to both investigate and activate the gadget with Aether, healing his leg (with a sudden burst of pain). They assured him his abdomen was fine and called a physiotherapist in response to his leg pain. The swelling was already going down – quickly it became obvious that his leg was intact.

    The Family Man worked his computer magic on the hospital system to support the lie that Keller’s x-ray had been mixed up while the Librarian made arrangements to get him out of the hospital as soon as possible, manipulating the nurses to prevent him from being kept overnight for observation (people always need the beds on the ward, after all). She managed to get him discharged that evening, the same time ‘her shift ended’. She called him a taxi – the Courier, promising the demon a favour in payment, and sent him on his way.

    The Family Man thanked her for her assistance and apologised for holding back information. For now, at least, Keller was safe (though there was no guarantee the God-Machine wouldn’t try to claim the gadget inside him later, by some other means).

    The Librarian returned home to discover an email from a demon called the Seamstress. The Seamstress is a member of the ring of Saboteurs who dominate the local Thugs. They’re called the Silence (or maybe the Silents) by other demons and they favour an incredibly subtle approach to opposing the God-Machine.

    The Seamstress wants to meet the Librarian at her earliest convenience.

    Storyteller Thoughts

    Fungible Knowledge continues to be the go-to power carrying the game, though Authorized was a strong second this session; it’s a fantastic power for infiltration, cutting through careful lies and deception. Got a plausible cover story? That’s all you need! The Librarian wasn’t really optimised for such things, which was part of why I gave her the card in the last session; I expected her to reverse-engineer it , though it wasn’t essential for her to do so. Any readers who haven’t read Flowers Of Hell with its amazing chapter on gadgets are probably a little confused by this, so I can only recommend it.

    The player resolved the Inquisitor’s Condition – Prepared For Anything – early when he was a little stuck. It a great little ‘keep the plot on track’ power (with an alternative option to boost Mental Skills). The Agenda-Conditions in[b] Demon: The Descent[/b ]are pretty damn great.

    This session was intended as a contrast to the previous chapter – while that took place across the space of a few hours this session spanned weeks. There was no explosive action or dramatic chases (though I had made plans for the slim possibility that the Librarian attempted to interrupt surgery) and while the first session was a little railroady, this one was all sandbox. The player admits playing in a sandbox solo can be trickier – he likes to bounce off the ideas of others and to get their feedback on his plans, which isn’t really feasible with just one player and the Storyteller. The next session will strike more a balance, I think, and I’ve got some exciting plans for it.

    The player loved causing bureaucratic havoc in a hospital. He works in this hospital (we were pretty much in his workplace, even down to the ward), so he knows how to do it, and openly admits he loved doing it because he’s convinced somebody is doing it to him. It was also very fun to devise a gadget together and make it – the Librarian’s a specialist, after all! And books are a specialty too, so this gadget was book-based.

    Here’s a quick writeup of the gadget:

    Embed: Living Recorder
    Activation: Intelligence + Academics
    The gadget can be activated only after being signed by the target. When they sign it, it can be activated permanently by rolling Manipulation + Socialise and expending Aether. From this point on the diary will scribble down whatever is happening to the target. Older words quickly smudge and are rewritten – the diary is only useful for what is happening now, and does not keep a record of what happened. This text can be read using Intelligence + Academics. The gadget can never be reassigned.

    Finally, have a theme song for the Family Man… and here’s a theme song for the Librarian!
    Last edited by Eremite; 04-18-2015, 05:05 AM.

    Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras, Night Horrors: Enemy Action
    Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
    After the Fall: Bonus Material


    • #3
      Chapter Three: Going Postal

      The Librarian started her day by checking on Keller and drafting an email to the Family Man, offering him the diary. Over breakfast she messaged the Seamstress, arranging a meeting that evening. The Seamstress let her chose where they would meet and she chose some benches by the river.

      Ruth Varlow opened her store as normal, though on her lunch break the Librarian visited some suborned Infrastructure. Ruth spent the rest of the day attending to business, checking stock, looking for deals and reading the minutes of the local businesses committee (of which she is a member).

      An email from the Seamstress said she’d be wearing a red scarf. When the Librarian walked by the river she clocked an old woman, dressed for the cold, with a bright red scarf.

      ‘Is this seat taken?’

      The old lady offered the seat.

      ‘That’s a nice scarf. Did you make it yourself?’

      ‘Yes, I’m quite handy with a needle.’

      ‘I’m more of a book person, myself.’

      ‘Nice to meet you, Librarian.’


      The two switched to some sotto-voice Russian for the rest of their conversation. Seamstress, representing the Silence, wanted to hear about the events surrounding Black’s death and Quill’s disappearance. The Librarian told her what she’d told Humboldt; the truth, carefully excluding any mention of a certain device. The Seamstress revealed that Black had been a friend and ally to her agency, feeding them information from time to time. She also discussed the trio of angels – known locally as the Triumvirate – who matched the description of those who took the body. The Silence had already spoken to Eddie Knowles. The Librarian suggested they speak to another witness – the Courier.

      The Seamstress thanked her for her time and left. The Librarian went home, where she found two emails waiting for her. The Family Man would be visiting her store the following lunchtime and Violet, aka Violets, wanted to call in her favour. The Librarian was to meet her on the city walls the following day.

      The Librarian met Violet, who revealed that she knew (through means she kept undisclosed when asked) that the nearby Mail Sorting and Delivery Office housed Infrastructure used to send, withhold and edit letters. Violet wanted to destroy said Infrastructure – since the Librarian had asked her to come when it looked as though angelic trouble was on the cards, she was calling in a similar favour. The Librarian agreed, though she noted this wasn’t her forte (gadgets are her strong suit!). They resolved to pose as internal inspectors the following day, planning to meet here the following morning in business attire.

      The Librarian visited the sorting office briefly, pretending she had a parcel to collect, to look for any obvious Infrastructure or signs of the God-Machine’s presence. There was no sign. She went to her store and opened it for the day.

      At lunchtime the Family Man arrived to take the diary off the Librarian hands, asking her to explain how it worked and once again thanking her for everything. There was a brief discussion of Keller’s children and the possibility of them being… special. Neither the Family Man nor the Librarian knew much about Offspring, but they were both aware of the possibility. The Librarian casually locked the door to her store throughout the conversation.

      Before she went to bed, the Librarian decided to prepare for the following days activities, ensuring she was prepared for any reasonable eventuality by using Fungible Knowledge.

      On the way to meet Violet the next day she took some electronic store loyalty cards from a local store, potential hardware for a gadget if the sorting office had lots of electronic locks. Then she and Violet planned in a bit more detail, coming up with false names. The Librarian would be Margaret Croft, Violet would be Laura Spencer. They walked briskly to the sorting office, the Librarian using Authorized to pose as a new district manager. They were shocked to hear that the local depot hadn’t received an email about their visit! A harassed manager – Benjamin Roux – arrived to guide them around the building.

      In the main room, where the huge sorting machine organised thousands of letters daily, they saw what they were looking for. Atop the main sorting machine was an odd device, a black sphere with an oily, pearlescent hue. Four struts like legs held it in place and an umbilical tube penetrated the machine below. Ink and oil dripped down the legs.

      They examined the staff, noticing that while all of them appeared outwardly human, some of them exhibited a lack of affect and expression, performing their tasks with impressive mechanical efficiency.

      The Librarian decided to investigate these suspicious workers by looking at the work rota, but for all of her skill cracking codes she couldn’t decipher this bureaucratic nightmare. She showed it to Roux, accusing the office of breaking workplace safety legislation by making employees work too many hours and criticising the how difficult the rota was to understand. Terrified and confused, Roux couldn’t see what she was referring to and suggested, politely, she speak to HR about such things.

      The Librarian wanted to take down any security systems and decided to use Cause and Effect to achieve just that, convincing Roux to test fire alarm and security systems, using her Embed to ensure that this would disrupt them for their later use…

      Next, the Librarian asked for a place she and Miss Spencer could speak privately. Roux let them use his office, scurrying away. Remaining in character, Miss Croft tried to explain her plan to Miss Spencer with careful innuendo and gesture.

      ‘As they say in Greece… What the hell do you mean?’ said Violet, slipping smoothly into another language. The Librarian managed to explain that she wanted them to return in the evening and suggested that they ‘check fire escapes’. They did so before leaving, apologising to the distressed Roux about their unexpected arrival.

      All this time spent as ‘Miss Croft’ was putting a strain on the Librarian’s Cover, however, and as she left she noticed spiderweb patterns spreading up her arms… She quickly put gloves on and asked Violet if her face remained clear, which it mercifully did.

      They made plans to reconvene later. The dress code? Dark clothing. The Librarian pointed out she was going above and beyond what might be called a reasonable favour, which Violet accepted, somewhat touchily. The Librarian hurried home. The patterns across her body faded before the evening, thankfully.

      That evening the Inquisitor and the Saboteur met by the river. They headed to a back door they had scoped out in the daytime and used a gadget-key the Librarian had possessed for some time to gain entry. They moved quietly, peering into the main sorting office. The night shift were at work. They needed to be gotten rid of.

      The Librarian pounded on a fire alarm and the duo hid in a side room. After a few minutes they peeked out – some of the postal workers had stayed behind, as the Librarian had expected. There were a lot of them. They had ignored the fire alarm. They probably weren’t human. Violet opined that they would stay to defend the Infrastructure from fire, and the two demons decided to start a fire. Violet snuck upstairs to do just that. The Librarian hid until she returned and they glanced into the sorting office again.

      A few of them detached themselves, heading upstairs, presumably to fight the fire. Not many.

      ‘Do we need more movement?’ Violet asked.

      ‘Yes,’ The Librarian replied.

      ‘Do we need more fire?’

      ‘…Yes,’ the Librarian replied, with considerably less enthusiasm. Violet pulled a lighter from her pocket, twirling it in her fingers, and headed back upstairs to start more fires. She returned, more of the blank-faced postal workers disappearing upstairs, but a few remained.

      ‘Time to go in guns blazing?’ Violet suggested. Reluctantly, the Librarian agreed, asking to hang back and observe. Violet asked if she’d join in if things got a little hairy – she would.

      Violet kicked down the door to the sorting office. She walked purposefully towards the Infrastructure, the blank-faced staff approaching and eventually accosting her as she grew closer.

      Violets ensued, her true shape manifesting, crackling with electricity as she struck at the postal workers with a sound like metal striking metal. She held them off with little trouble, but the black device atop the sorting machine disgorged a swarm of what looked like tiny black insects, the cloud enveloping the Saboteur.

      The Librarian decided to help, talons manifesting, secondary limbs unfolding. She powered across the floor and leapt onto the machine, sending a spurt of webbing like a metal cable to grab Violet and pull her to safety, but it was difficult to aim into the melee and she missed. As she tried again, a faceless figure in a postal uniform emerged from behind the sorting machine and climbed up. An angel.

      The Librarian pulled Violet to safety, though she was still covered in black, insectoid shapes that appeared to be made of letters and words. Violet had shed all illusions of humanity now, her eyes and delicate circuit patterns on her flesh glowing with a blue light, arcs of electricity playing along her limbs. She stank of ozone.

      Turning to the faceless angel, the Librarian’s limbs grabbed at it and the two struggled. The angel was strong and gained the upper hand, bouncing the Librarian off the machine and pummelling her. Violet threw a few punches at the angel which it ignored. Desperate, the Librarian assumed her full demonic form to heal some of the damage. More limbs unfolded, chelicerae emerging from the sides of her cheeks as the Librarian’s true form manifested, a nightmare with eight metal limbs. At the same time she rewrote her brain, converting much of her wisdom and learning into brutal fighting instinct.

      Violet grabbed at the angel, tearing it off the Librarian and holding it from behind. Bladed limbs lashed out, slashing and tearing at its corpus, weakening and distracting it enough for Violet to lift and throw it to the floor, where it dissipated, defeated.

      The inhuman staff were crawling up the sides of the sorting machine but they were no match for the Librarian in her current state. She ducked and weaved under their clumsy blows, blocking them effortlessly with her limbs. Amazingly, one got a blow past her incredible defences. Claws bit into its once-human flesh, now threaded with cables and machinery, and the Librarian threw it to the floor below as others climbed to replace it.

      Violet concentrated on smashing the machine, cracks spreading under her hands as she touched it, then striking it with her hard metal fists, smashing a hole that leaked oil and ink. She tore it free from its housing and threw it down to the floor below. The postal workers slowed, shutting down, making token efforts as the Librarian threw the last of them to the ground. She grabbed onto Violet and with a spurt of webbing anchoring the Librarian to the ceiling the two swung away dramatically, barrelling out of the sorting office.

      Upstairs, the building was on fire. Broken, spasming servants of the machine lay on the floor along with a piece of Infrastructure. An almighty mess.

      They ran, assuming their human shapes once more, stopping briefly within the city walls before parting ways. Violet said she owed the Librarian now, owed her big, and thanked her for her help. The Librarian hurried home, already dreading the fallout from the night’s events.

      Storyteller Thoughts

      Poor Benjamin Roux will not be having a pleasant morning. This session was intended to be a little more action-heavy, though plans and provisions had been made for if the Librarian was unwilling to undertake Violet’s quest, told the Silence about it, or tried to go about it another way. The next session will deal with the fallout of this session and will also probably leave the player to pursue his own agendas and plans within the sandbox, now he’s met some of the players and has leads and mysteries to investigate.

      It was good to see what a demon can really do when they drop the façade of humanity and go all-out. They’re terrifying. They need to be, since angels are so powerful. The angel they faced – the Postal Inspector - was relatively weak and not optimised for combat but he still did quite a lot of damage to the Librarian before she assumed her true, spiderlike form. Since the Librarian decided to follow Violet’s lead with the direct approach, the angel’s bans and banes didn’t really come up, though both were readily available and would have made it quite a simple fight. Inspired by vampire mythology and his role, the Postal Inspector was compelled to sort any post thrown at him and was vulnerable, like all dry paper, to fire. Not the most interesting of weaknesses, nor the most obscure, but the Postal Inspector was intentionally written as a monster of the week; his weakness needed to be accessible. Other angels have much more fun and interesting weaknesses, as we’ll hopefully see.

      This session marked the first time the player rolled an exceptional success on Fungible Knowledge, which lets you reshuffle your dots as you see fit and lasts for up to 24 hours. It’s an incredible ability and also one with an infuriating downside; it takes up time, unravelling urgency and tension. The player sensibly chose to attempt before bed, successfully, a moment of relatively low drama in the session. He also rolled his second exceptional success in the fight, which thankfully made his job a lot quicker and easier. He moved dots from mental and social skills to Brawl and Athletics and became an absolute combat monster. Once again, Fungible Knowledge shines for the solo player! Authorized also continued to play its role as a strong second; the Librarian has other Embeds she’s not even used yet. Hopefully they’ll become useful in later sessions.

      A steady supply of Beats in this session meant the player was able to ask a lot of questions about the Librarian’s next Key, ultimately revealing it to be… Efficiency. He cashed in all the experience earned to buy said Embed and lock the Key in place, increasing his Primum and revealing his first Interlock…

      Army Of Me

      A task shared is a task halved. A demon with this Interlock gives whole new meaning to this, able to do the work of two people by manipulating the fabric of reality so that, as far as the world is concerned, there are two of her.
      This Interlock only functions when the demon is not being observed

      Prerequisites: Fungible Knowledge and Efficiency

      Dice pool: Wits + Academics

      Dramatic Failure: The demon is unable to properly duplicate herself, each duplicate occupying the same space at the same time. She suffers two points of Aggravated damage and cannot use this Interlock for the rest of the scene.

      Failure: No effect. The demon may try again (suffering a cumulative -1 for each new attempt).

      Success: The demon may undertake a Teamwork Action with herself. The Interlock lasts until the end of the scene (unless the demon is seen, in which case it ends immediately). Demons may gain the benefit for different dice pools and actions within this time.

      Exceptional Success: The demon benefits from a number of doubles equal to her Primum.

      Last edited by Eremite; 04-05-2015, 02:08 PM.

      Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras, Night Horrors: Enemy Action
      Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
      After the Fall: Bonus Material


      • #4
        My player and I had a chat today, making plans for the future. The next session – scheduled for Saturday – is going to be quite sandboxy so I wanted to get a good idea what his long and short term plans are so I could prepare for them. He wants to learn more about Infrastructure in general and the Infrastructure of our locality specifically, and wants to pose the question ‘What makes angels fall?’ The Librarian’s an Inquisitor, but she has Saboteur-ish leanings (more focused on freeing angels rather than smashing the God-Machine).

        The thought just occurred that I’ve not said where our game is set. Fellow Brits might be able to work it out…

        We also brainstormed some potential gadgets the Librarian could create. Not all of them were entirely serious, but I thought I’d share our ideas (and doodles) with you all.

        If you don’t want to squint at tiny text, I’ll expand on the ideas here. I always kinda assume any readers are at least somewhat familiar with Demon: The Descent and don’t explain setting or rules elements, but I’ll just briefly outline gadgets for any readers who aren’t conversant. Demons can ‘install’ an Embed or Exploit into a mundane item to create a magic/sci-fi item of sorts. Of course, these powers shouldn’t just reproduce the effects of the Embed/Exploit but should be mechanically and/or thematically similar by installing the Hellfire Exploit. The objects have to be somewhat appropriate, however – you can’t make a book into a flamethrower. Gadgets let imaginative players and Storytellers create fun custom power and objects. The new World of Darkness is pretty good for this in general but gadgets and Interlocks really go the extra mile, if you’re interested in such things.

        Fungible Knowledge was discussed at length (of course). We concocted the ‘Dummies Guide to [Skill]’ gadget, a book which grants a set number of temporary Skill dots to the reader. We followed this with the Advanced Guide that has the opposite effect (far too complex and confusing!). Another potential idea is a syringe that allows users to transfuse a Skill from one person to another. There’s also a sketch of a gadget the Librarian has possessed since character creation, a skeleton key that can change its shape, which stretches the Fungible Knowledge concept a little far, to be honest. She used it in the last chapter.

        So what about perennial runner-up Authorized? The obvious gadget for Authorized is Doctor Who-style psychic paper that mimics different forms of ID to supplement a disguise. Another way we took the concept was a stamp that makes forged documents/signatures/etc seem somehow genuine.

        Living Recorder is one of my player’s favourite Embeds. We’ve already seen a gadget based on this in Chapter Two. Another, arguably simpler one we conceived was a semi-literal bug that could return to the Librarian to allow her to download what it has seen. There’s an Exploit that lets you make living things into gadgets in Flowers of Hell that would work fantastically with this.

        Imagine is an Embed the Librarian hasn’t had cause to use yet – it’s not one you’re likely to use too often. We decided a gadget could play off its hallucinatory effects and conceived of a one-shot in the form of pills…

        Voice of the Machine is another as-yet untouched Embed. Generally it’s a risky knowledge-gathering power (that kinda relies on a demon opening themselves up to the God-Machine) so we considered basing a gadget on the risk side of things; how about a bundle of one-shot firecrackers designed to release Aether and attract angelic attention? An excellent distraction/decoy for a demon on the run from hunter angels.

        Of course, the Librarian has a new Embed; Efficiency. To make gadgets with this one requires a little more thinking outside of the box, but we liked the idea of a To Do list that lets the Librarian implant a mission and optimises the reader to it in some way; the Obsession Condition is a simple way to model this mechanically. Another direction, inspired by what we were doing as we brainstormed, was Efficientea, a one-shot hot beverage that acts as a supernatural stimulant in some fashion to the drinker.

        My player had the wonderful (and terrible in equal measure )idea to use Right Tools, Right Job to turn a joke-shop Groucho Marx mask into an effective disguise. This is a general use of the Embed; a gadget version might be a specific disguise (presumably a serious looking man with a moustache and glasses).

        Talking about joke shops lead to the notion of a joy-buzzer with Fungible Knowledge Embedded that could deny victims Skill dots in a suitable hands-on skill (such as Brawl, Larceny or Crafts). It also lead to the conception of a gadget built on the Librarian’s one Exploit; Murder By Improbability. The most obvious and boring gadget for such an Exploit would be a Death Note. But why not make a joke flower that squirts bad luck onto its victims? Of course, as an exploited gadget it’d be obviously supernatural, with a leering yellow eye staring from petals that pulse as though it has a heartbeat…

        For those who’ve got a few games of Demon under your belts, have any of your characters created any fun gadgets? Post ‘em. I freely admit we might steal any ideas we like.

        Last edited by Eremite; 04-09-2015, 09:57 PM.

        Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras, Night Horrors: Enemy Action
        Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
        After the Fall: Bonus Material


        • #5
          My player made a tool to help her find pactees and create a "demonic persona" for herself.

          The Nightmare Box

          The Nightmare Box at first glance appears to be an ornate Rubik's Cube. It is a brass cube, separated into nine circular sections each displaying an Enochian rune. When each side is solved so that they all match, as per an ordinary Rubik's Cube, the box opens to reveal a diamond-shaped interior brandishing yet more symbols that must be matched. These patterns become increasingly complex in their design, from rudimentary star shapes to spheres – in this way the Nightmare Box appears to defy conventional physics.
          Activation Roll: Intelligence + Investigation
          Activation Time: Extended Action (each roll is 5 minutes with a target number of 5 successes)
          Duration: 5 days.
          Effect: When the Nightmare Box is solved it will immediately activate it's exploit, Inflict Stigmata, upon the solver and then automatically close and scramble itself again. It will need to be solved again in order to activate again. Inflict Stigmata does not remove the effect from someone who has already had the exploit used on them. The solver will only have their stigmata for the duration of the Nightmare Box's effect.
          Stockpile: 3/3 Aether

          By default the box will expend all of its Aether, for every point it spends, it inflicts Stigmata for a day. The stigmatic template is then removed at the end of that time, having offered the mortal a glimpse of the world behind the veil, Ms. Spider's intent was to offer various things to her "victim". She'd rid them off the memories of what horrors they saw, inflict stigmata permanently on them if they agreed to serve her, and otherwise posed as an enigmatic otherworldly entity that could give them what they need and was coming to them in response to solving the puzzle. (She wouldn't reveal that the puzzle was a set-up until the individual had come to trust her enough).

          Also, I am loving your Actual Play write-ups, so thanks for sharing.


          • #6
            Originally posted by DesolateDolly View Post
            By default the box will expend all of its Aether, for every point it spends, it inflicts Stigmata for a day. The stigmatic template is then removed at the end of that time, having offered the mortal a glimpse of the world behind the veil, Ms. Spider's intent was to offer various things to her "victim". She'd rid them off the memories of what horrors they saw, inflict stigmata permanently on them if they agreed to serve her, and otherwise posed as an enigmatic otherworldly entity that could give them what they need and was coming to them in response to solving the puzzle. (She wouldn't reveal that the puzzle was a set-up until the individual had come to trust her enough).

            Also, I am loving your Actual Play write-ups, so thanks for sharing.

            Nice stuff; you could make something similar with Imagine, and the Librarian may well have to... Any more gadgets people wanna share?

            Cheers for the kind words; it's nice to hear people are reading and enjoying. I'll keep updating when I can. Sadly, we didn't get the chance to play this weekend it'll be a while before we reconvene (we're both going away for a week or so, so I imagine it'll be about two weeks before the next update)
            Last edited by Eremite; 04-12-2015, 05:51 PM.

            Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras, Night Horrors: Enemy Action
            Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
            After the Fall: Bonus Material


            • #7
              Chapter Four: Pulling At The Threads

              ‘Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.’ – Mark Twain

              The day after the fire at the sorting office the Librarian rose and played her usual role as a small business owner. The wounds she had sustained in her demonic form were thankfully hidden in her Cover. She emailed book dealers, made lunch plans with the owner of a Christian bookstore across the road (the friend of her deceased husband – the Librarian never met Ruth’s husband, if he ever existed, but echoes the man remain part of her Cover).

              That evening she investigated Infrastructure. The traffic system and a chain of local sandwich shops were known in Unchained circles to be Infrastructure, though their exact functions weren’t mapped out. The Librarian isn’t much of a driver, but she hired a car and used Fungible Knowledge to attempt to interface with the city’s roads. She failed and gave up, switching her attentions to the sandwich shops. She went to one and, using Authorized, convinced those present she was here for a trial shift. As she worked the till and served the sandwiches she became a part of the Infrastructure, a cog in the machine, feeling Essence and Aether moving around her. She sensed the role of the sandwich shops as part of the occult matrix. Their duty was to distribute ‘special orders’ to predetermined people, special orders that would influence them in some fashion.

              Her ‘trial shift’ over, the Librarian left, though she’d be back someday soon. She found two messages awaiting her attention. One, from Violet, told her to keep quiet about the events of the following evening, advising her not to tell Humboldt especially. The other message was from a Tempter called Mr Frame, a demon who supplied discount Covers (taken from the desperate and needy) to local Unchained. He wanted to retain the Librarian’s services as a gadgeteer.

              The Librarian made arrangements to meet Frame in the evening at a local restaurant. She also contacted Humboldt, planning to meet him at lunchtime, over hot drinks once again.

              The following day she went to the coffee shop and found the young, bespectacled Cover she recognised as Humboldt. She reminded Humboldt that he’d said she was in credit, and he agreed, and asked what she wanted to know. She surprised the Inquisitor by asking about his Fall. Afterwards, she asked if he knew the circumstances of any Falls, which he did and was happy to tell her (this would, he noted, constitute paying off his debt).

              Humboldt was deep underwater, analysing variables to prepare for the construction of an oil rig (and accompanying Infrastructure). He succumbed to curiosity and chose to alter one such variable (the temperature of water around him). He Fell in darkness and depth. He fled to land and eventually settled down.

              He told the Librarian Violet’s history. Violet killed people. She wore countless faces and names, arranging accidents or bloodying her knuckles. One day she wondered why one of her targets needed to die. It didn’t feel right. She couldn’t go through with it. She Fell in that moment and her war against the Machine began.

              Mr Frame was also a Destroyer. His job was to remove evidence, descending upon it and taking it apart. One day he was a little ‘overzealous’ in doing so and Fell. His Cover was incredibly thin and he quickly and desperately made a series of small pacts to patch it, developing an affinity for the task and falling into his niche.

              Other demons came up, demons who’ve not yet made an appearance. The Lady Morrigan was the first, an old and powerful Tempter. She’s very rich and powerful and is something of a safehouse specialist, providing properties, warehouses and other spaces for demons to hide people and objects. Some of these spaces are extradimensional boltholes. Her Fall was apparently so gradual she hardly noticed it – she wore the skin of a powerful CEO, controlling corporate interests to funnel resources and facilitate many of the God-Machine’s projects. She became fond of the role, working to strengthen the company as well as serving the Machine’s interests, until that became her main focus and she Fell.

              Humboldt also knew a little about the Falls of the Silence/Silents. There are four of them; Rust, their leader, the Seamstress, the Shepherd and Ctenidae. Humboldt doesn’t know much about Rust’s Fall, but he knew a little about the others. The Shepherd, a Destroyer, Fell due to his bloodthirstiness. He caused a lot of collateral damage. Ctenidae, a ‘brother’ Analyst to Humboldt, was assigned to watch other angels. It Fell when it began to criticise their performances, believing it could do better. The Seamstress was a Messenger who earned her name by tailoring her messages to better fit the targets. Altering messages, even with the best of intentions, was outside of her parameters and she Fell.

              The Librarian thanked him for the information. He asked if she had any information for him – she didn’t – and she asked him the same. He revealed that a small fire at the sorting office had in fact been an attack on Infrastructure. The Librarian had no idea, of course… (Being a perfect liar has its advantages). The Silence had apparently known about said Infrastructure and wanted to know who was behind it, with suspicion settling naturally onto well-known troublemaker Violet(s). Humboldt opined that it was probably only a matter of time before the hotheaded Saboteur was Silenced, though the Agency are known for acting slowly, carefully and subtly. At this point, the Librarian owed Humboldt information. Thanking him, she went back to work.

              After closing for the day, she proceeded to the restaurant. There, Frame introduced himself in Italian, so the Librarian replied in sort. The Tempter quickly put his offer on the table.

              ‘I spend a lot of my time convincing people to give up parts of themselves they don’t want or need anymore. It’s tough work, of course. I want something to help me convince people that it’s the right decision, that they can trust me. Can you do that?’

              In return, he offered a cheap Cover, a homeless man by the name of Tom.

              The Librarian was very interested in the offer, but a little suspicious of how the gadget would be used. Mr Frame preys on the vulnerable, after all, taking parts of their lives. Often, these are unwanted things such as addictions or criminal records, but no demon wants a Cover woven entirely of such unpleasantness.

              She questioned Frame’s methods. He revealed that he’s never forceful – that isn’t his style – and usually makes a small offer for a small reward first. Those who accept the offer he approaches a second time offering a take away a major burden for a larger reward. Few turn this offer down. He then comes a third time, offering even more but now asking for more desirable parts of their lives (relationships, jobs, that sort of thing), occasionally even attempting to secure a soul pact.

              The Librarian, satisfied that she wouldn’t be making something to force people’s hands, debated what hardware to use. She briefly mentioned tablets, which Frame wasn’t keen on (though he suspected some of his clientele would happily take them). He wanted something simpler and more permanent. The Librarian agreed to his terms, shaking his hand, and went away to think.

              She decided she would weave the Imagine Embed into a suit, letting those Frame approached picture the many wonderful potential outcomes of accepting his deals. She emailed him asking for measurements and bought a decent-looking suit from a charity shop the following day, taking it to her suborned Infrastructure that evening. She opened her diary, activated Efficiency and took out a needle. In mere minutes, with a burst of Aether, the completed suit was in her hands. She contacted Frame and arranged to meet that same evening in a crowded bar.

              He took the suit gratefully, listening as she explained how to use it, and took a small sheaf of papers from his briefcase. With a signature, the Librarian took them from him. Now, she owned the Cover known only as Tom (Tom is a weak Cover, so weak he lacks a last name), a homeless man known to some of his peers (also a smoker and an alcoholic).

              The Librarian headed home, building a false partition into one of her desk’s drawers and hiding the documentation there. She found a message waiting for her, a message from the Lady Morrigan. It invited the Librarian to a hotel she owned the following day for a meeting. The subject of this meeting?

              ‘I believe you lost a pen?’

              Storyteller Thoughts

              My player is very, very suspicious of the Morrigan’s phrasing. This was a short session, but the Librarian made some headway towards her personal goals, gaining a basic understanding of some Infrastructure and learning a little bit about what makes demons Fall...

              I wasn’t sure how the player would respond to Frame’s offer – he’s not the nicest demon in the city – so that was a way for us all to get to know the character a little better. She accepted the offer, but not without reservations or questions. The Librarian is a moral demon, but pragmatic (her Vice is Dispassionate, after all).

              So, in this session we had a lot of playing the sandbox. The next session will be different, but I want to leave the player time to keep chasing up his leads and investigating.

              In mechanical terms, Tom is a 2-dot Cover, a crude patch job. I look forward to seeing how the player makes use of the Librarian’s second face.

              Here’s a writeup for the suit she tailored

              The Power Suit

              This gadget takes the form of a pinstriped suit. Flickers of light occasionally appear on the stripes. The suit’s inner lining is a little stiff and has a distinctive circuit-board pattern.
              Embed: Imagine
              Activation: Presence + Persuasion
              The power woven into this suit can be activated by stating ‘Imagine what I can do for you.’ The gadget fills the mind of the observer with a sense of possibility, leaving them daydreaming of a better world that awaits if they only say yes… In mechanical terms, it reduces their number of Doors by two.

              Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras, Night Horrors: Enemy Action
              Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
              After the Fall: Bonus Material


              • #8
                It’s been over a month, but this game ain’t dead. Scheduling conflicts made it impossible for us to find time for a session until a few days ago

                Chapter Five: Lost and Found

                In generosity we are equally singular, acquiring our friends by conferring, not by receiving, favours - Thucydides

                The Librarian responded to the Morrigan’s email be simply saying ‘I have many pens.’

                ‘Not like this.’

                The Librarian, as Ruth Varlow, worked out the next day before calling at hotel that serves as the Morrigan’s redoubt. She waited at the bar for a time, reading, before messaging the Lady Morrigan to ask how best to reach her. She suggested the Librarian go to the front desk. Cautiously, she did so, mentioning she had an appointment to see the Morrigan. The receptionist’s expression changed, his eyes glazing, and he made a call. A woman with blood-red hair, middle-aged, arrived. The unmistakable odour of blood, masked by perfume, accompanied her.

                The two made very small talk. The Librarian learned her name; Zoe. Zoe took the Librarian to a door, knocking. Inside was a small but well-appointed office. The Morrigan’s bolthole.

                The Tempter introduced herself and explained that a similar chamber housed Quill, who was mortally wounded and had come to her for sanctuary. She had kept Quill safe, letting the heat die down, in return for promises of payment. Quill owes the Morrigan a great deal. The Morrigan offered to take the Librarian to see Quill, noting that she has a rule. She’ll be present for the meeting. Lady Morrigan prides herself on her discretion, but she will listen in on you.

                The two left the office and, with a burst of Aether, the Morrigan opened the same door to a reveal larger chamber with a bed and much more basic furniture. Quill was inside, in her full demonic form. One of her wings, in which fractal patterns swam like a procession of Rorschach tests, was missing. One of her arms also. Her remaining fingers ended in her namesake, dripping ink, which also seeped from her large, black eyes and the wounds that littered her body. Her skin was like torn paper.

                Quill was happy to see the Librarian, explaining she sent the Black Box because she knew someone needed to be out there doing what needed to be done and she was unable to do so. Mortally wounded and badly glitched, Quill didn’t dare try the hospital, and came to the Morrigan to recuperate. Her Cover degrades while she remains here, however. She doesn’t have a spare Cover and the Morrigan doesn’t have a Cover to give her, even for the promise of future services.

                In the bolthole, time does not exist. This mean Quill’s wounds aren’t healing, but it also means they’re not killing her. She can’t die or get better while she’s trapped here. She needs healing, but sadly her damage is beyond the power of Embeds. Some Exploits might help but Quill doesn’t possess them, and apparently the Morrigan doesn’t either. She needs the Librarian to find her someone who can, or find some kind of repair facility, and if possible some pacts to patch up her Cover. There’s another job, too, one far more important. Quill shared her letter, the letter she’d been hiding in chapter one, to explain this task and also as a show of trust.

                If you are reading this, I have been killed or taken by the Machine, which amounts to the same. If I am missing, do not attempt to find and rescue me. If I am unable to contact you directly or via one of our secure channels, I am gone. I entrusted this missive to the Courier in January (2015) – every week I have contacted him to ensure he does not deliver it. If you are reading this I have died within the last few days.

                I cannot reveal too much; this letter could be intercepted. Enclosed you will find two keys. One is to a storage locker where you will find some items of use. Details on how to use these items can be found in my office. The other key will open the lock to my office, located in my apartment on King’s Street. Keys to the desk and the filing cabinet within can be found in the storage locker. It is imperative that you secure everything from the locker and my office quickly. Be cautious.

                I have seen the Machine’s plans. The danger is great. I have not shared my findings yet for fear of what some of what our more ambitious and treasonous brothers and sisters would do. I am sorry I did not tell you, my love. The habits of secrecy, of mistrust, are hard to break. For so long I feared you were a swallow and withheld information from you until I was certain of your loyalties.
                Nevertheless, my death proves operational paranoia is a sad necessity. Be careful who you trust. Trust in your Cipher to guide you. Find the truth or the truth will find you first.

                I am sorry to leave you like this. I love you.


                Quill admitted that she’s desperate. She doesn’t have a lot of allies to call upon and doesn’t know who to trust, but the Librarian did right by her, she’s already involved in this mess and she’s a Watcher too.

                The Librarian agreed and hurried to the apartment, taking the keys offered by Quill. It had an oddly clean, show-home vibe, as though nobody actually lived there. There were no obvious signs of forced entry. The Librarian searched it, carefully, and as she opened one door she was met with a fireball. Inside, a fire raged in a small office. When the door was closed there was no heat, no smoke beyond what she had just let in…

                The office was a bolthole. No time passed within. The fire could wait. Inside, the Librarian had seen a desk and a filing cabinet. The Librarian used her first Interlock, manipulating probability to work with a double of herself, collecting glasses and cups of water. She then assumed partial demonic form, her feet morphing into talons, and fired steel webbing to drag the smouldering desk and the red-hot filing cabinet out of the room.

                Sadly, both had been emptied, their locks broken. The Librarian was forced to fight the fire and found nothing salvageable among the blackened scraps of paper. One drawer remained locked on the desk. The Librarian opened it to find a small plaster cast.

                The walls of the bolthole, the desk and the filing cabinet had marks made by hot chains. The Librarian surmised that these were a calling card left by the Gaoler, a sign of burgeoning ego. The hunter angel might be getting perilously close to Falling.

                The Librarian searched the wardrobes of the apartment, finding men’s clothing. Taking the oldest, she spent the night as Tom, her new Cover. She travelled to her suborned Infrastructure the next day, taking a sip of Aether and changing back into Ruth Varlow.

                She arranged to meet Humboldt, chasing rumours of healers and repair facilities. Humboldt opined that a few demons possessed powerful Exploits that let them move wounds around or remove them entirely, recommending the Silence. He’d heard rumours of a repair facility within the city. The people in the know were most likely Israfil, an eccentric Inquisitor, Old Man Sam, an exile, and the Silence themselves.

                The Librarian made arrangements with the Silence. The Seamstress would be sent as a healer to meet at the hotel. In her words ‘I’m handy with a needle and thread.’ Until then, the Librarian resolved to continue testing Infrastructure within the city, rewiring her brain to improve her driving ability… and failing twice. She eventually succeeded and interfaced with the city’s traffic lights and road system, a piece of Defensive Infrastructure with a linchpin hidden in some roadworks. She also learned that the Courier had ‘hacked’ the Infrastructure for his own purposes.

                She met the Seamstress (in her familiar old lady guise) in the hotel, again mentioning the Morrigan’s name to the reception staff, who once again behaved oddly robotically and summoned Zoe. The Morrigan took them both to see Quill. A tense meeting followed, the Seamstress questioning Quill’s wounds, wondering if she’d sustained them at the postal sorting office (The Librarian feigned ignorance). She also stated that the wounds were beyond her power to fix.

                The Librarian shared her findings with Quill (and with the quiet, unobtrusive Morrigan). Quill had no idea what the thing on the plaster cast was. The two discussed the obvious limbs around the outside, speculating that it might be a representation of an angel or demon.

                The Librarian resolved to find Israfil and learn the location of the repair facility. She also wanted to get pacts for Quill. There are two main demons selling pacts – Mr Frame and his rival, the Kindly One, an altruistic demon who only takes unwanted things. The Librarian decided to contact the latter.

                The Librarian asked around for Israfil. Israfil’s primary Cover is a homeless man who sometimes wears sandwich boards with Bible passages. He’s well-known and not too hard to find, unless he’s hiding. She found him and bought him a cup of tea before they got down the business. Israfil chose to speak the language of angels. He made it clear that he did know the location of a repair facility, but that there were lots of complications and that, for reasons that would become apparent, the knowledge wasn’t cheap. The Librarian offered to make him a gadget and, after some thought, he accepted the offer, saying he’d contact her.

                The repair facility is located in an empty building, a former bus depot that was used during WW2 to make parts for airplanes before it was abandoned. The repair facility is within, locked away in a splinter timeline for protection, but it houses the city’s most feared hunter angel, the Brilliant, a remorselessly killer sent after more subtle angels, like the Gaoler, have failed.

                Reeling, the Librarian thanked Israfil and contacted the Kindly One. In the guise of an old man with a limp, shaking hands and other cast-off traits, the demon met her at the Morrigan’s hotel. She took the Kindly One to Quill and they hammered out a deal. After the Kindly One left, the Librarian explained the situation. The two made plans but ultimately decided infiltrating the infrastructure would be worthwhile.

                The Librarian turned to the Morrigan for help, arguing that she was taking a risk on Quill, who had paid her in promises, and that she’d need to take more risks to get Quill out of her bolthole and paying her back. She convinced the Tempter, who said she’d assemble a team of expendable stigmatic agents to accompany the Librarian. She considered summoning Violet, who owes her, but decided a Saboteur generally considered to have a death-wish might not be the best companion.

                Quill, grateful for the Librarian’s assistance, discussed how she’d repay it. She offered cash, pacts and any of Black’s remaining gadgets, though these would naturally be gifts for later… and she offered something else. A part of herself. A form ability. The Morrigan coughed in surprise, noting she’d not been offered the same deal.

                The Librarian accepted.

                Storyteller Thoughts

                My player feels appropriately guilty to accept Quill’s offer of a demonic form ability, but it’s the only way she was getting paid up front. Quill has the following demonic form abilities – Claws and Fangs, Slippery Body, Mental Resistance, Inhuman Intelligence, Wings, Memory Theft and a custom Technology that lets the patterns on her wings mesmerise people. My player hasn’t decided which ability he wants yet, but it’s probably between the last two.

                Some of the bolthole stuff in this game involved extrapolating from what’s in the book - there are several ways you could present time not passing in the bolthole and I picked one that fitted with my story.

                This session marked the first time he failed his activation roll for Fungible Knowledge… twice in a row. The Librarian does not want to drive, clearly.

                And because I love to share the rules stuff I create, here’s an Interlock the Morrigan uses on her receptionists.

                Oblivious Messenger

                This Interlock lets the user program messages and behaviours into human beings, dormant instructions that can be activated by key phrases or other stimuli.
                Prerequisites: Special Message and Living Recorder

                Dice pool: Presence + Persuasion - Resolve

                Dramatic Failure: The instruction is not programmed into the subject – instead they are aware of what the demon tried to do them, which is usually a Breaking Point. The demon rolls for compromise.

                Failure: No effect. The demon may try again (suffering a cumulative -1 for each new attempt).

                Success: The demon can implant an instruction, such as ‘ring the bell whenever someone enters’, ‘deliver this message or Mr Shears next Tuesday’ or even ‘kill Miss Page’. Instructions must be simple, a single task or instruction with a single trigger. If the instruction would cause a Breaking Point it automatically fails. Dormant instructions persist for a number of days equal to Primum. People can be programmed with multiple tasks, but this number may not exceed their Intelligence. Targets have no memory of words or actions undertaken while under the effects on this Interlock, and will usually attempt to rationalise lost time or other abnormalities that result.

                Exceptional Success: The demon’s instructions are impossible to resist. Now they may cause the subject to commit acts that would normally be a Breaking Point.
                Last edited by Eremite; 05-27-2015, 12:25 PM.

                Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras, Night Horrors: Enemy Action
                Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
                After the Fall: Bonus Material


                • #9
                  This thread has been inactive for a good while, but I wanted to post on here and comment at how cool it was reading another Demon story, particularly of a gadgeteer and how they work within an Unchained community. It’s different from the games I’m used to (though I can’t claim to have the greatest bredth of experience) and the ideas on hand are fun and engaging even from a second hand perspective. Thanks for posting these Eremite, as well as the gadget ideas. It was a very fun read.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Taidragon View Post
                    This thread has been inactive for a good while, but I wanted to post on here and comment at how cool it was reading another Demon story, particularly of a gadgeteer and how they work within an Unchained community. It’s different from the games I’m used to (though I can’t claim to have the greatest bredth of experience) and the ideas on hand are fun and engaging even from a second hand perspective. Thanks for posting these Eremite, as well as the gadget ideas. It was a very fun read.

                    Thank you. Sadly real life meant the game was put on permanent hiatus, but 'twas fun while it lasted and an interesting foray into 'solo' RPGing, If it gives people some ideas for how demon society might function, well, that's all to the good.

                    Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras, Night Horrors: Enemy Action
                    Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
                    After the Fall: Bonus Material