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101 Bigass Mysteries

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  • 101 Bigass Mysteries

    I was looking at the thread about a Toronto consilium and remembering my own angst about coming up with good big mysteries for a consilium to form and/or fight around - seems like it's a common angst, which means we could all do with some practice and exchange of ideas while we wait for the books to give us more material. So, to steal an example from Broken Diamond and then make a knockoff of it:

    Mystery: The DC City Plan

    Summary: The old plans for the District of Columbia seem to have some real occult and maybe even Supernal resonance, but not all of the city lines up with the Grid. Where the weight of monuments, city streets, height restrictions, and the secular temples of democracy bears down, it shapes everything from ley lines and the behavior of hallows to the Shadow, human behavior, and architecture. In the ghettoized areas just beyond the grid, it's essentially the opposite. The Shadow sees the city split between a city father each for DC and Washington, each considering the other a pretender who must be defeated. (Longer original writeup here.)

    Interested Parties:
    • The Bringers of the Utopian Design and other Pro-Grid mages would see L'Enfante's plans finished and the whole city brought under the protection and guidance of the grid. Many see a connection between Columbia and the long-lost City Before, the optimism and nostalgia of which can be intensely aggravating to others (and especially the Free Council).
    • The Defenders of the Forgotten and other Anti-Grid mages see the supposed redeeming qualities of the Grid as little more than illusions, and at worst the Stepfordization of the nation's capital. Mostly concerned with trying to protect the city's off-grid war zones from the mystical danger and oppression that surrounds them, they nevertheless find the time to try to disrupt and oppose the existence and expansion of the Grid when they can.
    • The Seekers of One Soul and the other Unification mages would like to see both halves of the city join together and heal. Anti-Grid mages see them as Pro-Grid types wearing a condescending mask, and Pro-Grid mages tend to see them as hopelessly modest and naive, but they make for effective peacemakers and bridge-builders wherever the grid is tearing people and places apart.
    Complications:
    • The new main DHS campus is getting built in Southeast, in the middle of a big chaotic zone, and for once most factions of the magely argument are all on the same side: it brings spirits of protection and physical security to the area, anchors the big grid better in a deeply unstable part of the city, and builds ties between the highest and lowest concerns in the city - generally it has the potential to improve matters for most people and mages concerned. But that would require everyone getting along, and not getting into fights over details of occult architecture or primary jurisdiction or other petty politics.
    • A werewolf pack has taken one of the city fathers as their patron, maybe even their totem, and is waging an unrelenting war on the court of the other.
    • A new supernal verge opens up in DC - off of the Grid. Out of a mix of genuine concern and half-conscious ideological biases, pro-grid mages in Consilium offices (including a few Sentinels) try to lock it down and treat it as something suspect and probably abyssal, which outrages the anti-grid cabal in whose territory it arguably lies.
    Last edited by Nicias; 06-04-2016, 04:59 PM.

  • #2

    Mystery: The Borough Spirits

    Summary: Despite (or perhaps because of) the immense population and fame of New York City, its Shadow has never seen a single city mother but instead one spirit representing and reigning over each of the five boroughs. Manhattan has for a long time been the most powerful, but never strong enough to oppose the others acting in concert. They nominally share power and rule together, but their constant bickering and only semi-concealed outright conflict spills over into all sorts of places - including, often, the physical world.

    Interested Parties:
    • The Gilded Cage is a powerful Seer pylon based in Manhattan who believe that helping that borough's spirit consume the powers and dominion of the others will advance the interests of the beleaguered Ministry of Unity - and some of their allies in the Ministry of Mammon have similarly high expectations.
    • The Walkers of the Labyrinth is the Pentacle cabal most closely associated with trying to preserve the status quo and study the strange secrets of the Borough Spirits. They are mostly members of the Mysterium and the Adamantine Arrow who see little value in the arcano-political ramifications of unification.
    • The Seekers of the Pentad and their allies, dominated by thearchs, would like to see the borough spirits forged together into one city father, but on equal terms rather than one overpowering the others.
    • Henry Hudson is an enigmatic Thyrsus Banisher from Staten Island who defends that island's spirit with a fanatical fervor, seeing the attempts of all outside parties to interfere as part of the grand conspiracy he must defeat.
    Complications:
    • An acamoth promises victory to an increasingly desperate faction at the low cost of tainting their champion spirit with the power (and influence) of the Abyss.
    • In attempting to undercut the Gilded Cage, some pentacle mages start cultivating and empowering a rival spirit from Manhattan to consume and replace the borough mother. This might have been a great plan, if one of the spirits they picked a fight with on the way didn't turn out to be the favored old familiar of a powerful multi-degree master, who comes back to the city looking for a fight and throwing her guanxi around the local athenaeum.
    • What should probably be an incredibly dry (if still acrimonious) series of town hall meetings when Roosevelt Island attempts to secede from Manhattan to join the borough of Brooklyn turns into a pitched battle of possessions, curses, and stranger manipulations as all concerned parties overreact swiftly and fiercely.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Nicias View Post
      Mystery: The Borough Spirits

      Summary: Despite (or perhaps because of) the immense population and fame of New York City, its Shadow has never seen a single city mother but instead one spirit representing and reigning over each of the five boroughs. Manhattan has for a long time been the most powerful, but never strong enough to oppose the others acting in concert. They nominally share power and rule together, but their constant bickering and only semi-concealed outright conflict spills over into all sorts of places - including, often, the physical world.

      Interested Parties:
      • The Gilded Cage is a powerful Seer pylon based in Manhattan who believe that helping that borough's spirit consume the powers and dominion of the others will advance the interests of the beleaguered Ministry of Unity - and some of their allies in the Ministry of Mammon have similarly high expectations.
      • The Walkers of the Labyrinth is the Pentacle cabal most closely associated with trying to preserve the status quo and study the strange secrets of the Borough Spirits. They are mostly members of the Mysterium and the Adamantine Arrow who see little value in the arcano-political ramifications of unification.
      • The Seekers of the Pentad and their allies, dominated by thearchs, would like to see the borough spirits forged together into one city father, but on equal terms rather than one overpowering the others.
      • Henry Hudson is an enigmatic Thyrsus Banisher from Staten Island who defends that island's spirit with a fanatical fervor, seeing the attempts of all outside parties to interfere as part of the grand conspiracy he must defeat.
      Complications:
      • An acamoth promises victory to an increasingly desperate faction at the low cost of tainting their champion spirit with the power (and influence) of the Abyss.
      • In attempting to undercut the Gilded Cage, some pentacle mages start cultivating and empowering a rival spirit from Manhattan to consume and replace the borough mother. This might have been a great plan, if one of the spirits they picked a fight with on the way didn't turn out to be the favored old familiar of a powerful multi-degree master, who comes back to the city looking for a fight and throwing her guanxi around the local athenaeum.
      • What should probably be an incredibly dry (if still acrimonious) series of town hall meetings when Roosevelt Island attempts to secede from Manhattan to join the borough of Brooklyn turns into a pitched battle of possessions, curses, and stranger manipulations as all concerned parties overreact swiftly and fiercely.
      You ever run Kult, Unknown Armies or Whispering Vault? You would do well in my opinion because your mind has the right twist. A dark nasty twist yet subtle.

      Comment


      • #4
        While they aren't written up as fancy as the ones you did, there are some ideas in this thread.

        Comment


        • #5
          You have my interest.

          Comment


          • #6
            You also now have my contribution!

            Mystery: The Great Western Whorl

            Summary: Ley lines moving across the Pacific Ocean and the west coast of the United States produce a great confluence above the state of Oregon, known as the Great Western Whorl. These intense confluences thin reality extensively and produce regions known as interstices; folds in space that do not show up on maps or satellite imagery but which may be entered through certain paths. These spaces are not merely hunting grounds for cryptids, but often entire small ecosystems. Thunderbirds, dinosaurs, chupacabras, sasquatches and more all lurk in Oregon's interstices. The sheer staggering scale of such spaces often require the cooperation of multiple cabals to contain, and lure adventure-seeking Awakened from across the world to see their very first real-life cryptids. This, in turn, has led these cabals to control territories that are enormous compared to those found elsewhere and, with them, there has arisen a need for a truly state-wide Consilium. Needless to say, its reach is far but shallow, and the Awakened of Oregon truly live on a frontier.

            Three major types of factions dominate the Oregon landscape: Predators, Protectors, and Preservers.

            Interested Parties:

            -Predators (The Coyote Lodge):
            Not quite a cabal, the Coyote Lodge has a reputation for being the Awakened equivalent of a fraternity. Made entirely of young talons drawn from the Adamantine Arrow, the Coyote Lodge makes its home in the little-known Coyote Dance Valley. The area has a reputation for being haunted, in no small part thanks to its consistent heavy fog and the occasional distant baying of what the locals believe are coyotes. In truth, the howls are produced by balehounds; lupine beasts the size of ponies, which hunt in packs and possess skeletal faces and terrible, burning eyes. The Coyote Lodge acts as a testing ground for young Arrows to cut their teeth in, and most rotate in for a time to learn to hunt as a pack, get their first kill, and return home wearing the pelt in crowning victory. Some, like Lodge Master Conri, stay, and add trophy after trophy to their collection.

            -Protectors (The Daughters of Gaia): In strong contrast to the Coyote Lodge, the Daughters of Gaia are a purely local cult, having its origins in Oregon's New Age movement. Libertine through and through, the cult's founder is the now venerable Arduinna, who has spent the last three decades doing all she can to preserve the unique ecosystems of the interstices. A Thyrsus of the Dreamspeaker Legacy, the efforts have left her changed, and she lives largely halfway between worlds; tended by her grand-niece and fellow Thyrsus, Abnoba. The cult itself has a few dozen Sleeper and Sleepwalker members, who chiefly work to lobby governments to protect the lands in which the interstices lay, while Arduinna and her allies work to keep what lands they can from exploitation. At this point, the too-old-for-this-shit liberalism that Arduinna displays in her lucid, political moments, combined with the sheer clout that has come with decades of genuine political activism, makes her one of the loudest voices in the Free Council, even by those whom she perpetually frustrates.

            -Preservers (The Five-Feather Cabal): The Five-Feather Cabal is a true cabal; a mixture of Ladder, Mysterium, and Arrow. Despite the name, it has only three members; Raven, Owl, and Hawk. The name actually comes from the hoods, decorated with five feathers taken from their first kill, that the cabal wears while on the hunt. The Five-Feathers act as mystical game wardens of an interstice known as Onweer Forest, with Hawk being an actual park ranger, employed by the United States Park Service. Though relatively small and new, their big claim to fame is the taming of a Thunderbird, which the cabal is largely still deciding what to do with.

            Complications:

            -A group of Sleepers capture a sasquatch (or other cryptid) near the cabal's territory, and not merely on film. If word gets out of this, Sleepers will rush to the region like flies and the Consilium will likely hold the cabal responsible for the breach of the veil.

            -Occasional rains of fish are not, as the Sleeper media would have you believe, the result of water spouts, but rather shoals of actual flying fish fleeing their native interstice and suffocating in the atmosphere that no longer sustains them. An ally of one of the PCs informs them of a magically appearing lighthouse seen on foggy nights and wants their help investigating. Exploring won't be easy, though. Two words: Flying sharks.

            -An exceptionally powerful storm sweeps down the west coast and causes a rearrangement of the ley lines, throwing the interstices into chaos. Old doorways close, new doorways open; some interstices are lost and new ones are found. What does the cabal do when they find a bloodless deer carcass not far from their sanctum? And what do they do in particular when another cabal starts making claims to their Hallow and territory in general because they claim it was theirs, now simply moved along the geography?

            Comment


            • #7
              I like anyway. Nailing the high weirdness part.

              Originally posted by Axelgear View Post
              You also now have my contribution!

              Mystery: The Great Western Whorl
              I dig this, especially the sheer geographical scale of it. I'm a sucker for big rural settings.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you. I'm a big fan of the DC write-up, myself; I'm a sucker for layered historical symbolism and hidden-in-plain-sight occultism that drives my inner conspiracy nut wild.

                Comment


                • #9
                  He's done a lot of cool stuff, but the DC setting is still one of my favorite things Brookshaw ever wrote.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This writeup got away from me a bit, so I'll come back to finish the complications tomorrow.

                    Mystery: The Worlds of Latter Day Saints, or Deseret

                    Summary: The Latter Day Saint Movement and its most prominent institution, the Mormon Church, are maybe the largest modern religion native to North America, one of its largest individual sects, and one of the most vital and growing religions worldwide - with less than two hundred years of modern history to its name, tracing back to Joseph Smith’s publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830. Much of the community believes in a very immediate power of revelation and prophecy to shape their lives, and the faithful tend to be deeply invested in their religion.

                    That youth and continuing evolution prove intriguing for the Awakened again and again, who see in the sprawling mythologies and Temenos reflections of the faith everything from a moldable platform for their influence over Sleepers or a testing bed for manipulation of the Astral to a wellspring of humanity’s magical potential for enlightenment. Both the Salt Lake Consilium and their counterparts in the local tetrarchy are hotbeds of Astral research and ideological manipulation of Sleepers at massive scales, with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as their test bed of choice.

                    The region of the Temenos concerned is generally referred to as the Worlds of Latter Day Saints, or simply as Deseret (which is also used to refer to the physical heartland of the faith surrounding Salt Lake City, among other uses).

                    Interested Parties:
                    • The Pearl of Great Price is one of the more powerful pylons in the region’s tetrarchy, one that claims to have been around the Latter-Day Saints since the faith was born. They never quite say it outright, but they’re fond of implying they inspired Joseph Smith to found the church in the first place. No outside observer has ever found a shred of halfway convincing proof for that particular claim, but they form a mighty anchor for the Ministry of Paternoster’s influence over Mormons, especially in the ruling chambers in Salt Lake City, and that power has been maintained for generations. Split between augurs almost as consumed by portents as the Sleepers they guide and more arch, urbane manipulators, they are as renowned for their supposed stores of mystic treasure as they are for their religious and political rainmaking.
                    • The Synergistic Solutions Group is a less powerful pylon with a distinctly more precarious position in the Iron Pyramid - members of the Ministry of Unity (with more than a few Bearers of the Eternal Voice in their number) who sought refuge in the patronage of the Pearl of Great Price after they fell dangerously out of favor in their original haunts on the east coast. What they lack in local ties and expertise, hoarded occult treasures, or fiery purpose they make up for with a well-honed mastery of engineering change in both the Temenos and the waking minds of individual Sleepers, along with the scrappy (and somewhat desperate) hustle of a group who feel their backs are to the wall. Always keeping an eye out to climb back to the status they think they deserve, they are nevertheless mostly the front-line errand boys of the tetrarchy’s operations in Deseret.
                    • The Army of Amalickiah, also known as the King-Men or the King’s Men, are a cabal who have such an overwhelming influence over and predominance in the local Guardian caucus that outsiders often refer to the two entities as one and the same. Mostly concerned with exploiting and manipulating the Worlds of Latter-Day Saints and mortal believers for their own ends, they’re effective at both countering the influence of the Seers of the Throne and cultivating sects for other purposes, for extended use the Labyrinth or otherwise. They’ve sunk their teeth into the mysteries of Deseret for longer than anyone save maybe their archenemies in the Pearl, and those shadowy conflicts define the Salt Lake Consilium in the popular imagination of the Pentacle (especially where the Diamond Orders are concerned, anyway). Among other Guardians they’re known for a distinctly Messianic tilt, no matter their cynical approach to fallen religion, and their name, symbolism, and internal practices play off of Mormon theologies of righteous kingship as much as Guardian ideology.
                    • The Record in Gold are a young cabal, mostly mystagogues with a few scholarly thearchs in the mix, who gathered together around their shared interest in exploring the Worlds of Latter-Day Saints, mapping them and searching them for shards of the Time Before and threads of supernal truths. Mostly neutral in the battles for control that consume other local mages, they’ve already followed trails through Deseret to several sites of occult significance, including one or two they think might be ruined outposts of the Lost City. They’re casting a wide net in their search for help and consultations as their efforts grow split between further exploration and properly analyzing the sites they’ve already discovered.
                    • Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty are a militant column of the Free Council whose mages more or less all grew up Mormon, and though not all of them still identify or practice as part of the church they all see something worth fighting for in the faith they’ve known since childhood. Where other mages seek to exploit and reshape the Worlds of Latter-Day Saints for their own ends, the Title of Liberty sees a valuable wellspring of human endeavor to be defended and celebrated. Mostly concerned with curbing the abuses of the King’s Men and battling the encroachments of others (mostly the Seers of the Throne) who would use the religion to mislead and oppress rather than enlighten, the Title are undoubtedly one of the least subtle and most blunt instruments vying for influence over Deseret. For all this merits sneers from older and snobbier mages, in less than ten years they’ve come to know more about the Worlds of Latter-Day Saints than anyone save perhaps their similarly young frenemies in the Record of Gold, and turned that knowledge into enough power to rival much longer-established cabals. They maintain a popular group blog called “Salt Lake City Isn’t A Real Place” on a Free Council website, the clever and impassioned writing of which gives them a widespread prominence among the Assemblies. Not coincidentally, this often gives libertines from other places a very different perspective on the Salt Lake Consilium then their Diamond Order counterparts.
                    • The Reformed Egyptians are a loose collective, mostly free councilors though far from a unified column and scattered across the country, who are less concerned with the power struggles on the ground that interest other mages consumed by the mysteries of Deseret and are more interested in reforming what they see as an oppressive, outdated institution. Though a few see some value in LDS beliefs, mostly the group is dedicated to cribbing temenos-hacking techniques from the more active factions and putting them to work trying to improve the treatment of minorities of all kinds, from women and people of color to non-traditional gender identities and sexualities. They realize that they might as well be a caricature of the fears of conservative Mormons, they mostly don’t care and see their ends as entirely worth it.
                    • The Enemies of Babylon are a small, secretive, fiercely effective group of banishers who are even led and manipulated by an even less-known lineage of Timori liches. Their truly elaborate internal theology fuses Timori anti-Atlantean stories with the histories of the Book of Mormon and the prophecies of the Book of Revelation - they identify the ‘Babylon’ that drove out the ancestors of the Jaredites with Atlantis, Jerusalem with the righteous proto-Banisher peoples, and modern mages as worshippers of Satan who want to restore Babylon and bring about the apocalypse. All of this drives them in a murderous but cunning fury that the Timori have used to ensure themselves a steady supply of Awakened souls.
                    Complications:
                    • The consilium in Salt Lake City has, over the course of many disputes and spur-of-the-moment patch rulings, resolved some issues by according some cabals control of unusual territories. The King-Men are recognized as holding jurisdiction over the Order, a secretive cult that doubles as a criminal empire, for one, and the Title of Liberty was given a sort of right of first refusal when it comes to dealing with runaways from various Mormon sects and families. When some young men steal away from the Order a treasure that they don’t even realize is magical, and run away with it - to a house that lies less than a mile from one of the Record of Gold’s original findings, firmly within that usually neutral cabal’s physical territory claim - the stage is set for a truly messy trial, and likely one requiring a lictor (and assistant investigators?) from out of town.
                    • The Synergistic Solutions Group is electrified by the belief they've discovered the location of an immensely powerful artifact, an obelisk which could supercharge their ability to sculpt Temenos realms. The Army of Amalickiah, by some trick of infiltration or surveillance, picks up on the news and has an opportunity to beat the Seers to it - but they don't know where exactly the realm in question lies, and it seems the only Pentacle mages with a clue are Captain Moroni and his fellows. The Guardians are trapped between a collaboration with their most loathed foils in the Consilium and Deseret, or losing the immensely powerful object of their search to the Seers if they don't.
                    Last edited by Nicias; 03-23-2016, 03:09 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've had an idea, though as always I can't think of a good city for it. Sorry if the write-up is a bit wordy.

                      Mystery: Apocalypse Now and Then

                      Summary:The Consilium is divided in two, split by a period of untouched years and bridged by dreams. When the Awakened or Proximi (and possibly other supernatural beings) slumber in this area, they awake into another world, a post-apocalyptic land where the locals believe that the Mages have lived there all their life, and speak of the Crash, the long ago disaster that left their world shattered. When the Awakened sleep here, they return home. At least, for those born in the world of today, known to Mages as the Pre-Crash splice; other Mages Awaken in the shattered Post-Crash slice, and dream themselves into the present. Attempts to look or travel more than a few months ahead in the Pre and a few months behind in the Post reveal only strange static and leave the Mage bruised and battered. Another symptom of this anomaly are the zones of what a few augers have named Shattered Time, areas where the flow of seconds and hours become distorted. While dangerous and blatant, they are useful both in allowing a limited circumvention of the limits placed on Time magic and the fact that Disciples of the Arcanum can create gates allowing for the physical transference of people and things between slices.

                      Interested Parties:

                      The Flashpoint and others of the Promethean faction believe that the Crash can be averted, ensuring that the world of which they dream may never come to pass. They delve into the Post-Crash slice to sift amongst the ruins to find the truth of the matter.

                      The Vault-Keepers and others of the Epimethean faction (a name once intended as a title of scorn and now seen as a badge of honor) take a more pessimistic (though they prefer "realistic") approach, arguing that the Crash can't or shouldn't be averted. Many argue that instead of the Pre-Crash as the present and the Post as the future, the Post slice is the present and the Pre is the past Mages dream of, a view influenced by the number of Post-native Mages among their ranks. They put there effort into enriching the slice that isn't doing quite well on its own (as a member would put it), setting up supply deposits meant to last into the future and using zones of Shattered Time to ferry needed goods from the Pre to the Post.

                      The Thousand-Stream River and other members of the Synergy faction (known to those particularly committed to the theme as the Menoetians) believe that both of the other factions are looking at things the wrong way. The slices, they say, are not different times, they're different timelines, alternate worlds linked at a single area. Members of this fraction tend to be most focused on the mechanics of the local Mystery rather than mucking about, and serve as a neutral party between the other two.

                      Complications:
                      •The moment many in the Consilium have feared for years is finally here; a prominent public area in the Pre-Crash slice has developed into a zone of Shattered Time. While the Awakened from multiple sects have pooled their resources and magic to keep the Sleepers away, they're only buying time. Unless someone can figure out how to fix this, the local Mystery is going to be plastered across the five o'clock news.

                      •A cabal of Prometheans have gone rogue. Convinced that the Crash will be the result of rampant overpopulation, they've decided that the only way to stop the larger apocalypse is to create their own... starting with the Consilium itself. Will the heroes be able to stop their plan before they start culling the city?

                      •A group of Seers aligned with the Father and the Prophet have moved into the area and migrated into the Post before they could be stopped. Already they've set up a Hollow One as a theocratic warlord, and are using the magic of themselves and some recruited Solitaries to ease his path of conquest. If not stopped, he'll unify the local area under his control, allowing the Seers a beachhead of control that could eventual grow into an empire. Stop them, or the Post will bow to the Exarchs.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I love the idea for this thread, but I think I am a bit confused. don't mysteries have obscurity levels, surface and deep information? or are you using the term in a less mechanical since and more in a setting fluff kinda since?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Take a look at the settings section and you'll see Mysteries that Mages haven't figured out, that's what you're seeing in this thread. Mysteries so big that there really isn't an Obscurity level that could define them. It's these kind of hard to explain Mysteries that draw Mages in, and around which Consileum's form in order to try and figure out who should be doing what and how to interact with them.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            All of that, plus this thread started before the book was actually out.

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