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A Time of Trouble - Werewolf: The Forsaken Actual Play

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  • #76
    At the risk of misinterpreting the text again: Was Braghdar outright lied to about the miners? Did the players notice?


    ~

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    • #77
      Originally posted by Teatime View Post
      At the risk of misinterpreting the text again: Was Braghdar outright lied to about the miners? Did the players notice?
      Well strictly speaking the army did shut down the mine. Sure, their attention was called to the mine in the first place by the pack's efforts in getting the strange disturbances mentioned in the newspaper, but even the army doesn't know that the pack was responsible for that

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      • #78
        Oops, kept forgetting to actually do this write-up. If this looks a little short, it's because about 60% of the session gets glossed over in the first two paragraphs.

        Session 24

        The overwhelming bulk of this session consisted of the pack evaluating and discarding different approaches to sealing the hole in the Gauntlet and preventing any further incursions by Silver City. The options ranged from Aaron conceding that he saw forcing an Azlu to web the area as the best option, all the way to Regan suggesting that they all just dive through the hole into the middle of the quarry and let the Death Rage take them and just see if the problem was sorted when they regained their senses. Ultimately, the pack decided to aim to just cover the hole again with tons of earth and rubble. Regan suggested using a concrete mixer, but Aed wanted to reach out to the Cleareyes to see if they could help. Their Totem, from the various hints the pack had gathered in previous interactions, had something to do with the earth. They could gather more information on their Pure neighbours and resolve the issue at the same time.

        Through all this, Braghdar remained an unanswered, and rather thorny, problem for the pack. The pack could bury the hole in enough earth that it would take Silver City months to excavate it, but it wouldn't be much of an obstacle if the hunters could call on earth spirits to open the way for them.

        The Harbingers met with Eaven and Awne at the grove on the edge of their territories. Regan and Aed explained the problem, outlining that they had an issue with a camp of human hunters backed by the British military set up within their territory, and wanted the help of the Cleareyes' totem in dealing with it. Eaven thought the proposal over and agreed, bringing the pack back to the Pure's compound. She took them into the main building and led them past the main lounge room into a smaller study, where a pale-skinned, red-haired man Wolf-blooded nervously showed them into a staircase that led beneath the compound. The air inside was hot, like stepping into a boiler room, and Aed found himself face to face with the immense form of the totem Matharazith. The spirit was built like a rottweiler, compact, four-legged, and covered in muscle, with a blunt head that appeared to be all maw. It lay on a bed of iron nails, and twisted scraps of iron shrapnel budded and grew from its flesh with the pattering of bloody rain.

        The spirit seemed initially taken aback at being confronted by a Forsaken, even with its packmates lurking in the background, but Aed's words were irresistible. His words were carefully chosen, plucked from the skein of various futures to choose those most likely to sway the Totem, yet it still took every bit of his formidable charisma to persuade Matharazith to accept the trade. Aed would fight a single target of the Cleareyes' choosing, and in return this spirit of violence and blood-soaked earth would bury the quarry. The totem bellowed to Eaven that he wanted his "sculptor" to be ready as he pledged his service to the Harbinger's war.

        OOC: Aed swung a cool +5 to his Impression level at the start of this negotiation, enough to bring literally any impression level, even Hostile, up to Perfect. We still capped out Aed's number of rolls at the usual level as if it were an Extended Action, giving him 9 rolls to open 11 doors. He scored the second Exceptional Success he needed on the very last roll.

        The pack returned from the Cleareyes' turf triumphant, and decided to update their Forsaken allies on the vague plan without specifying that they were involving the Pure. Regan tried to contact Iule with the Message rite, asking for her to come to Aed's as soon as she could, but the Rahu hadn't shown up by the time the rest of the pack went home, nor by the time Aed went to bed. Instead he was woken at two in the morning by a hammering at the door, and he found Iule there when he opened it. She was a bit put out to discover that there was not, in fact, an emergency that demanded her immediate attention, she'd come straight from her shift monitoring the quarry. Aed explained that the plan the pack had was that they would bury the gap in the Gauntlet under tons of rock, hoping that the collapse would push back the Silver City forces. He asked Iule if she knew what kind of resources the Werewolf hunters had at their disposal, since presumably the entire British military wasn't openly working to combat the supernatural, but she could only tell him that they appeared to have pull and connections with the rest of the army but that the Silent Sons had never tested the limits. Both wolves agreed that destroying Braghdar, and any other Broken the Silver City may have persuaded to work for them, was to be their top priority before they collapsed the quarry.

        Aaron and Aed met Regan a few blocks from her home the next morning to nail down the final details of the plan as she walked to school. They had the support of two other packs, unbeknownst to either, and the backing of a powerful spirit. They needed to isolate Braghdar first, and Aaron noted that his wards around the Gauntlet breach hadn't been triggered since their last encounter with Silver City.

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        • #79
          Just a heads up for anyone wondering about the lack of updates, a few players have been snowed under and unable to make it the past few weekends. The coming weekend will probably also be a no-go, but we expect to be back in two weeks.

          On the plus side, this gives the players plenty of time to work out what they actually want to do about Braghdar and Silver City.

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          • #80
            Session 25

            OOC: No Orla this session unfortunately.

            Without a clear plan on how to extract Braghdar from the quarry, the Harbingers spent the next few days patrolling their territory and laying the groundwork for their next attempt at warding their territory through Aaron's rites. They were returning to their cars, parked near the grove on the edge of the Cleareyes' territory, when they saw the storm rolling in. The strange sound of thunder accompanied the advancing snow, leading to worried looks between the packmates. It could be a natural phenomenon, but privately the wolves suspected that they weren't that lucky.

            The snow had begun to fall by the time they reached the grove. They were almost back to their cars when Aaron detected a new scent on the wind, not unlike a wet dog. He snapped to attention, telling Regan to circle around unseen, while he and Aed approached from the front. They reached the cars to find a slender figure perched cross-legged on the hood of Aed's vehicle, their face hidden by the jacket hood drawn up to protect against the weather. The figure took a moment sizing up the two middle-aged men, then jumped to the ground and addressed them.

            "Well, I'm betting neither of you are my sister."

            The figure pulled back the jacket hood to reveal a shock of short, blonde hair. It was clear from her features that this newcomer had some kind of family connection to Regan, but there were stranger elements to her appearance. Slit pupils, near-pointed ears, and the delicate curve of a fang biting into her bottom lip almost made her look like she had shifted to Dalu, but she lacked the size and muscle mass for that. She introduced herself as Maddie, and asked where she could find Regan. Aaron had just finished saying, "You'll see her when she wants you to," when Regan tapped Maddie on the shoulder.

            Maddie's enthusiasm with meeting her sister was met with a rather more reserved response from Regan. She explained to the Harbingers that Reynard hadn't told the family about meeting Regan, in fact neither Maddie nor her sister Eva had actually known Regan existed. However, in Maddie's words, "It's very hard to keep secrets from me." She'd discovered Regan's existence after Reynard's most recent visit to the pack. Regan spoke up, at last, to ask if Maddie was involved in "Wolfing", a turn of phrase that made Maddie chuckle before she confirmed that yes, she was one of the People.

            With snow coming down, no one really wanted to hang around outside. They agreed to drive back to Aed's place, and Maddie insisted on going with Regan in Aed's car in spite of the cramped conditions. The two girls chatted with one another as they drove, though Maddie largely dominated the conversation. She was about a year older than Regan, a grade ahead of her in school. After a few minutes Maddie asked Regan about her mother. "My mother's dead," was the short response. A brief pause later, Maddie said just about the only thing that could have actually endeared her to Regan. "Mine too."

            Back at Aed's home, while waiting for Aaron to join them, the pack asked Maddie if she could use her ability to turn up secrets to help them dislodge the Silver City group at the quarry. She told them that she'd need to see Braghdar in person, or at least see a reasonably fresh corpse who had seen Braghdar just before it died, to work out what the spirit's Ban or Bane might be. Aed floated the idea of Num-Num's creator. Maddie's, "What's a Num-Num?" query was cut off half-finished when something seemed to let her know, and her eyes went wide with horror. Nevertheless, she agreed to see what she could find out. By the time Aaron arrived, she'd turned up a few details about the man working with Silver City responsible for the Claimed's creation. She couldn't divine his name, but she did tell them that his routine involved work at both the quarry and the Andersonstown police station. He didn't appear to know he was responsible for Num-Num, in fact he hadn't ever seen the duguthim, their connection appeared to be that his actions had spawned the Torture Spirit that went on to become one half of the Claimed they all knew.

            The flurry of snow had lightened to just a light snowfall, and Maddie told them all that she needed to head off to catch the bus home if she wanted to avoid being out too late. Aed, not wanting a rogue Werewolf floating around their territory, insisted on calling and paying for a cab to take her home. Maddie and Regan went outside to wait for it together. They showed off their powers to one another, each revealing that they had some mastery of the elements, with Maddie's affinity for water and Regan's control of the air allowing them to play with the snow around them in different ways. Maddie pulled up her jacket and shirt to show Regan the eye-shaped scars down her left side, the markings from when she had been granted the Gift of Insight from the spirit Sliverbug. Just before the taxi arrived, the two girls swapped phone numbers. Regan gave Maddie the phone number for Aed's home, while Maddie gave Regan her home phone number. She told Regan to just ask for her if either their father or her other sister answered the phone, pointing out that neither Joseph nor Eva would recognise Regan's voice anyway. She didn't notice the hurt that flashed in Regan's eyes at that comment.

            That night, the pack set off through the snow to walk the borders of their territory and invoke the warding rites Aaron had prepared. The rites went off without a hitch, but they were returning through the Andersonstown streets when they stumbled across a group of British soldiers erecting a temporary checkpoint. Most of the soldiers were occupied with getting a barrier in place to stop cars from passing, but two of them approached the wolves and told them that they'd be searching for weapons. Regan had, thankfully, left her stolen gun hidden at home, so they saw no reason not to acquiesce. As Aed was being searched, however, Aaron spotted a flash of something silver being palmed by the soldier carrying out the search. He tried to catch the soldier's attention and ask if it was a crucifix, but the man just shook his head. Aed felt a searing pain moments later as silver contacted his skin just above his ankle, and felt the rise of the Death Rage inside him.

            The screaming started seconds later. Aed shifted to Dalu, sending the soldier with the silver object fleeing in screaming terror as moon-wrought delusions infected his mind. The soldier's companion staggered back, trying to get his rifle ready to fire, but Regan ran in and wrestled for control of the rifle with him. Aaron shifted to Dalu as well. The soldiers occupied with the barrier construction joined the fight, one of them racing towards Aaron. He seemed consumed by a frenzy, and drove a knife repeatedly into Aaron's abdomen. The other soldiers tried to stay as far clear of the monsters as they possibly could, opening fire on the one clear target they had in Aed. To the despair of the soldiers, the Werewolf's inhuman reflexes allowed him to dodge nearly every shot, and the one salvo that landed barely seemed to bother him at all.

            The wolves, even Aed, were able to focus their attention on disarming the soldiers rather than killing them. Claws were stained in blood as they ripped open arms and near-severed wrists, sending rifles clattering to the ground. The soldier wrestling Regan managed to get his knife out even as Regan vanished from view with his rifle, only to reappear in Urshul form. Her jaws closed around a second soldier's wrist, almost biting his hand clean off, and his gun fell to the ground. The soldier she'd been grappling drew his knife, but this time it was Aaron taking to Urshul to rake open his arm. Undeterred, the man went for his pistol with his one good hand, but this time Aaron's jaws closed around the gun and bit it in two.

            A salvo of bullets slammed into Aed's chest as he advanced on the last unscathed soldier. He edges of his vision, already tinged red in his rage, began to turn black. He could feel his organs and the slivers of metal filling his inside, but still he resisted the urge to shift to Garou or succumb to the Death Rage entirely. The sight of him, bloodied, snarling, and flexing his claws, was enough to sending the rest of the wounded soldiers fleeing.

            Regan found herself squaring off against the frenzied soldier. The man was driven wild, his eyes unblinking, froth forming at the corners of his mouth. He lunged at her, again and gain, each time she barely corkscrewed her body out of the way of the slashing knife. She barged into him, knocking him back several places, and then shifted back to human as he tried to recover. She swept out his legs with a kick, and there was a sharp crack as his head hit a patch of ice on the ground. His eyes rolled back into his head and he lay still, but still breathing.

            Aaron's opponent, with just one good hand and no firearms left, steeled his nerves and drew out a grenade. Eyes wide with fear, he backed up as far as he could and threw it, hands shaking, towards Aaron. His aim was off though, and Regan was able to call on her own Gifts to divert the grenade even further, and it landed somewhere behind Aaron where he was only cost on the edge of the blast. After the stab wounds he had suffered, however, he found himself only barely conscious as flame and steel tore at his back. And then that final stalwart soldier, bereft of any weapons at all, was running from the bloodied Werewolves.

            The entire exchange had taken only seconds, but as their hearing returned in the explosion's wake they could hear sirens wailing in the distance. Aed took a few moments to centre himself, clawing control back as his packmates helped soothe the rage of the beast inside. It took a supreme effort of will, and even buried Aed was sure the monster within was closer to the surface than it ever had been before, but he managed to fight off Wasu-Im. He and Aaron began to force their most grievous wounds to heal by spending essence, and then the pack shifted into Urhan and began to run.

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            • #81
              Oops, forgot to update this following the last two sessions. Just quickly to get us up to date:

              Sessions 26 and 27

              The pack managed to evade the hunting soldiers without much difficulty. Reagan used her gifts to will her packmates as silent and stealthy as she was, and they slipped through streets and undergrowth until they were able to circle back to Aed's home. Aaron stopped off at the church, but the rest of the pack holed up at Aed's place. Reagan didn't want to risk the streets with the army out in force, but she was able to persuade Steph in a phone call that she and Aed had been working with Father Aaron and that, quite truthfully, she'd rather sleep over at Aed's place than brave the streets right now. She slept through the night on Lizzie's bed, a fact Lizzie herself didn't seem to notice when she came home in the wee hours of the morning and passed out almost on top of Reagan.

              The pack left Aaron behind to recover from his injuries. They waited until Reagan had finished her schooling for the day, then passed into the Shadow to seek an audience with the Old Man of the Mountain. The snow, falling gently all day, had stirred into a full blown storm in the Shadow. Aed wanted to find out who commanded the Court of Bloody Communion locally, having some ideas on how to deal with the issue of the quarry, and asked the butterfly-like snowflake spirits who commanded in this area. They only gave him nonsense answers, but he worked out on his own that, based on the elements he'd seen aligned with the Bloody Communion, the Old Man himself was likely in charge in spite of his seeming neutrality in the war.

              The long climb to the Old Man's court led the pack through an ever-intensifying storm. Visibility dropped to almost nothing as they approached the peak. They sensed movement in the storm, and humanoid figures began to form in the swirling snow and rain. Two ahead and two behind, blocking their path forward and back, and an immense figure as tall as a house to their right just floating beyond the edge of the cliff.

              With a voice like the crack of thunder and the sound of shattering ice, the immense spirit asked the Uratha which court they owed their allegiance to. It seemed baffled when Aed pointed out that they were Werewolves, that they had no such tie to either court. The sky titan tried to rephrase its question, asking if they would join its attack on the heart of Belfast, where the Union still ruled. Again, Aed refused, telling the spirit that they could not cross so many territories without permission. As much as it seemed to be struggling to understand the idea of unaligned beings, even Uratha, in the context of the war, the great spirit did understand the idea of needing to obey strange and arcane laws. The titan moved like lightning, seemingly frozen in place only to snap to a new position with impossible speed. It led the pack through the Eye of the Mountain to the Old Man's court, its body of wind, lightning, and snow stretching and twisting to fit through the tunnel and setting the chains therein rattling with its passage.

              Within the Old Man's court, the Harbingers witnessed the titan asking for volunteers to join its army. They watched Broken come shuffling from beneath the eaves of the Old Man's Willow Wardens, prostrating themselves at the great spirit's feet. The Old Man sat on his throne, unmoved, until the sight of so many Broken gathering seemed to stir him to action. He rose from his throne and addressed the sky titan as Lightning-Strikes-Ice, and reminded the spirit of the terms of his allegiance to the Court. "No more than one in three," he said, and the last handful of Broken who had made their way to the titan's side crawled back towards their master's throne a little sheepishly.

              Once Lightning-Strikes-Ice had departed, Aed approached the Old Man. He asked the Mountain if there was anything he could tell the pack about why Braghdar had gone rogue. The Old Man answered that Braghdar credited the human army for shutting down the quarry since they had, after all, been the ones who had actually physically closed it. Braghdar, and a few of his fellow Broken, believed they owed the humans a debt greater than his former fealty to the Old Man. The pack decided that they should try and convince Braghdar that the army were just the pack's pawns, and that he should owe that favour to them instead. They performed Reagan's Message Rite to call Braghdar to a parley in the quarry on the Shadow-side, promising no harm would come to him and offering a way to resolve the conflict, but asking that he leave the soldiers behind and only come with his fellow Broken.

              They waited at the quarry into the evening. Luna had risen in her swollen, gibbous form, though the clouds left by Lightning-Strikes-Ice's passage obscured her mostly from view. They waited for the Broken's arrival, but it was Orla who noticed they had come. She could see the Broken creeping through the rubble around them, flanking the pack and preparing an ambush. She pointed them out to her packmates, and Aed called out to the Broken. Invoking the Voice of Glory and hunting through his prophetic dreams for the right words, Aed persuaded them not to fight but to listen to what the pack had to say. The Broken they recognised as Braghdar hesitated, and from there it was almost a formality as Aed brought the full force of his charisma to bear. He told the Broken that the soldiers had been manipulated by the pack into shutting down the quarry, that the idea belonged to the Harbingers and that they had only used the human soldiers as proxies. One by one the Broken seemed to waver on hearing that, until even Braghdar was looking at the wolves in admiration. Aed offered to resettle the Broken somewhere safe, so long as they used their influence with the army to convince the mortals that the quarry was unsafe. He told them that he intended to collapse the quarry entirely, and that if the soldiers didn't vacate soon they would be caught in the collapse. The Broken, hearing that the quarry could soon be destroyed entirely, readily agreed to lend their help.

              The Harbingers wanted to make sure expectations that something would go wrong at the quarry were properly in place before they invoked Matharazith's power. They spent the remainder of the week promoting a food drive for the quarry workers who had been stood down, and made sure to invite Martin Covoney, the local journalist they'd worked with previously, to the function. They wanted to sow rumours that, without proper maintenance, the quarry had probably become unsafe. They also arranged a meeting with Eaven, convincing her to give sanctuary to the rebel Broken in the further reaches of her territory where Belfast's war didn't typically reach. The nature of the Pure's Locus basically guaranteed there would be essence within the Pure's territory for the earth spirits, and Eaven seemed happy enough to take them in.

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              • #82
                Session 28

                OOC: This is a big one, and I have a few things I'd like to dig into and analyse in a later post. It may take a day or two for me to get my thoughts in order though, in part because I'm still processing everything that went down. If nothing else though, this was an absolute cracker of a session.

                Sunday rolled around, and with it came the charity drive the Harbingers had arranged for the out-of-work quarry employees. The morning started slow, with the local gossip Gloria being the first through the door, but by the time Martin Covoney showed up the church was humming with most of the regular members of the congregation along with a fair few others Aaron didn't normally see for his Sunday services. Martin sequestered himself in a corner of the room at first, taking pictures. The pack had cleared most of the pews to one side, and set up tables loaded with the offerings of the people of Andersonstown. Orla caused a small scene trying to get herself into Martin's pictures, when she accidentally backed right over Gloria and knocked her to the ground. Gloria played the event to the hilt, retiring to a chair with a trembling hand held to the light graze on her forehead, while her friends clustered around her with a first aid kit chattering about concussions and pausing every thirty seconds or so to shoot glares at Orla from across the room.

                A slightly foul smell cutting through the crowd told the pack that Wade had arrived to the proceedings as well. The Ghost Wolf lurked at the threshold of the church until Reagan invited him inside. The adults of the pack were busy keeping the event humming along, and Aed was in the midst of a discussion with Martin and several workers of the quarry that he was pointedly pushing towards a discussion of how unsafe the quarry would be without its workers and their regular maintenance, so the other Werewolf was left entirely in Reagan's hands. Wade confided quietly that he had picked up traces of intruders on his turf, and he was hoping the Harbingers would lend their help in hunting them. He didn't know what he was up against, and would like to have back-up in case they turned out to be something formidable. Reagan agreed happily enough, but mentioned that her pack was currently on a hunt. Once they had wrapped up their current business, they would seek Wade out. In the meantime, she told him to grab what food he could get from the tables. Just before Wade hurried off to scoop up armfuls of donated food, Reagan noticed that there was a reddish tinge to his irises. It looked as if they might be changing colour.

                The drive turned out to be quite the success. Sure enough, it made the paper on Monday morning. Not front page news, but in the respectably prominent first few pages. More importantly, Martin had made mention of the concerns that the quarry could become unsafe without the attention of its workers. Aed spent his day going around the bars, where he found many of the displaced workers were whiling away the hours outside of their respective homes, and did what he could to keep the rumours that the quarry was a danger circulating. Reagan did something similar in the schoolyard, starting rumours that, in the nature of rumours, were soon circulating back to her amplified a thousandfold. To hear the schoolyard tell it, the quarry was going to just erupt in the next few days.

                After school, the pack convened and decided they wanted to make sure the military was getting the message. They wanted to get in contact with Braghdar to find out who he had reported to when he worked with the army, but of course he was now safely ensconced in Eaven's territory. They gathered around their mirror locus and invoked Reagan's Message Rite, asking Eaven to meet them as soon as possible at the usual spot. Then they piled into their cars and drove out to the grove to wait. And wait. And wait. Orla passed out in the back seat of Aed's car. Reagan started to worry about getting home before Steph freaked out. Finally, after almost four hours, at past 9 in the evening, they saw movement approaching. Aine, Eaven's smaller packmate, rode up to the grove on a blue pushbike. She hurried forwards to greet them, but fixed most of her attention on Aed. The pack asked for permission to cross the border and it was clear that Aine really wanted to say yes, but she really couldn't agree. She just didn't have that authority. Eaven was the only one who could agree to that, and she was back in the compound with the others after their long excursion into the deep Shadow. Aine let slip that she was the only member of the pack uninjured right now, the others all having been hurt on their hunt. Aed praised her for being able to avoid harm when the others couldn't, and Aine blushed and admitted that it was only because Eaven didn't like to let her fight. Aed mused that it seemed like she didn't really like to let anyone in her pack do any fighting, before he recalled the strange emaciated male of the pack. Getting a bit distracted, he asked Aine about him, and managed to tease a reluctant Aine into telling him the story.

                The man was named Daithi, and he had been leader of the Cleareyes when Eaven went through her First Change. He and his wife, Alison, the middle-aged woman Aed and Aaron had met on previous visits to the Cleareyes, they ruled the back with brutal and casual violence. When it became apparent that Eaven was strong, perhaps even dangerously strong, Daithi and Alison felt threatened. They challenged Eaven to a leadership contest, hoping to preempt any aspirations she might have, when she was still practically fresh from the change. Eaven had seen the challenge coming, however. She had found Matharazith and forged a pact with him, and on the day of the challenge she arranged to ferry him across the Gauntlet and have him devour the Cleareyes' old totem. As the pack reeled from the loss, she struck at Daithi with a magic granted to her by her benefactor. The attack left him physically unharmed, but ripped out his soul and hollowed out his mind. Eaven claimed leadership of the pack, winning Renown for being able to do so without costing the pack the strength of its former leader, and ensured that her position would be all the more stable through reducing Daithi into a servant rather than having him plotting behind her back. Alison, for her part, was so cowed by what had been done to her husband that she had caused very little trouble of her own in the years since.

                When Aine finished telling her story, the pack asked if she could relay a message to Braghdar for them. She agreed, hesitatingly, and said she would be three or four hours. Aed agreed to wait, with the sleeping Orla in his car, while Aaron dropped Reagan off at home and then returned to wait for the Fire-Touched to come back. She returned in the early hours of the morning, having to knock on the window of Aed's car to wake him up. He'd been snoozing inside, keeping the car running to get the heater going and stave off the winter's chill outside. It wasn't particularly good news. Braghdar, it transpired, had a hard time distinguishing humans from one another. He'd mostly been operating on the principle of "Army uniforms good, no uniforms bad". He had remembered the name McIntire though, as a human he'd spent some time talking to.

                Just before they went home to finally get a night's sleep, Aine mentioned that Eaven would really prefer it if they stopped dispatching Lunes to talk to her through the Message Rite. The packs agreed to meet instead at the grove each week to discuss potential problems, and they swapped phone numbers. The Pure gave the Harbingers one of their Wolf-Bloodeds' home numbers, while the Harbingers gave the Cleareyes Aed's number. Then Aine jumped back on her bicycle for one last long ride of the night, and the Harbingers went home.

                The following day, once Reagan was out of school, the pack decided they had waited long enough. They needed to send a clear message to the Silver City forces to vacate the quarry, and start the 48 hour countdown to when they could invoke Matharazith and collapse the quarry completely. The method they chose to go with was to have Reagan shift genders and then, in his male form, borrow a bunch of coins from Aed and call the quarry office from a payphone. He tried to get past the soldier manning the phone to someone of actual rank, but the soldier instead seemed determined to find out everything he could about the "threat" Reagan alluded to, as well as Reagan's own details. Eventually, even invoking his Irraka Auspice to worm his way into the soldier's confidences proved not to be enough, and Reagan felt the phone line cut out when the soldier determined he had gotten everything he could from the call. Determined to deliver his message, Reagan called back and yelled down the line, "You're all going to die if you don't leave. You have 48 hours."

                Within an hour of that exchange, Aaron sensed his wards in the Shadow begin to trigger. He was sitting at Aed's table, helping brainstorm alternative approaches, when the sensation struck. The Harbingers reacted immediately. They seized masks from Aed's collection to help protect their identities, save for Aaron who wound bandages around his head to mask everything but his one good eye, and shifted into a variety of Urshul and Dalu forms. The pack rushed into the Shadow through their Locus, following the increasingly well-trod path to the quarry to confront the humans breaking the taboo.

                Reagan slipped ahead of the pack, making her way through the shadows and darkness. The pack spotted the humans staking out an ambush up ahead, and Reagan circled, looking for the weakest prey, intent on setting an ambush of her own. There were eight humans taking cover in and around the crevice through which the world was torn. Four of them were easy enough to spot, clad in the astronaut-like environment suits and wearing tethers that linked them back through the portal to the world of the flesh. The other four men had eschewed such outfits. They wore full combat gear, heavily armed and armoured, with a mix of unusual weaponry. One man, closest to the portal, lurked away from the others and watched the approaches through the scope of an immense rifle. Another soldier carried an assault weapon and was hunkered down in one of the cracks in the quarry's ground in a makeshift bunker. To his right was a man carrying a large, weighted net, and to his left a soldier carrying, of all things, a spear with a gleaming silver point.

                Reagan picked her target, the man with the net. Teeth and fur launched from the shadows, bowling the man over and ripping into his arm. The net fell to the ground, and seconds later the shouting and shooting began.

                The Harbingers rushed forward to help their packmate before she could be surrounded. They had a glimpse of the bunkered soldier reach for something at his waist, and then the ground itself erupted beneath them. Reagan was too far away, and Aed was carried forward by his Berserker Gifts that allowed him to shrug off something as trivial as an explosion, but the others were battered as earth and fire consumed them. Aaron shifted straight to Gauru and charged the gunline, rushing for the man responsible for the explosion. His claws tore clear through the man's body armour, shredding it and cutting deep into his chest. To Aaron's right, Reagan went for the net-armed soldier's other arm to put him out of the fight, but underestimated her own strength as she tore the arm clear from his body. Orla rushed to grapple with the soldiers, while Aed followed more slowly in his packmates' wake and let loose a howl that reverberated through the Shadow.

                "You should not have returned. I warned you!" His war cry sunk into the soldiers, slowing their movements as the fear and Lunacy began to spread.

                The soldiers held their ground, and the battlefield descended into a chaos of claws and teeth and bullets. Guns were turned towards Aaron as desperate soldiers sought to put down the immense beast in their midst. A couple of the soldiers went for their sidearms, which the wolves knew from grim experience would contain silver bullets, and one of the men in the environment suits went to the aid of the dying man at Reagan's Feat. A heavy crack sounded as the rifleman at the rear of the group tried to put an immense silver round through Aaron's skull, and he was saved only by Reagan invoking her Gifts to manipulate the chaos and confusion of the battlefield. As essence roared through the channels carved into her body, the bullet's flight twisted and slammed instead into the back of the man in the bunker still staggering away from Aaron's rending claws. The wolves all had an impressive view of the large calibre silver round as it flattened itself against the soldier's body armour. It didn't break through, but the impact almost floored him and knocked all the air from his lungs.

                In a single oasis of calm as the wolves and soldiers fought, Aed saw one of the humans ignore the fighting and stride towards him at an unhurried pace. The spear-wielding soldier shrugged out of his jacket, revealing a bare upper torso criss-crossed with thick scar tissue in the clear shape of wolf claws. He tossed his jacket to the ground and grinned up at Aed. "Wouldn't want to get this dirty," he said, and lunged for Aed with his spear. It struck and sank deep into the tissue of his thigh, burning all the way, and left Aed pinned to the ground as the man danced back out of reach and drew a gleaming silver knife from his belt.

                With Orla and one of the soldiers tied together in a twisted grapple, Aed and his opponent occupied behind him, and as the only wolf on the field to have taken the war form, Aaron found himself the focus of most of the remaining guns. Bullets thudded into his chest faster than he could heal, and the wounded man before him leapt from his makeshift bunker and unloaded the entire clip from his rifle into Aaron's chest. Aaron felt organs rip and tear, some of them blasted almost to pieces, beyond his body's ability to heal on the spot. Even in the red rage of Garou, he could feel the darkness at the edges of his vision beginning to win and close in. He had no choice if he were to survive. He shifted down to Urshul, sensing instinctively that to resume Hishu or Urhan would kill him, and fled the field. He leapt and twisted amidst the jagged, broken ground of the quarry, using the spike-like rock formations to hide himself from the guns of the humans.

                Those guns, in turn, shifted towards the only wolf running clear of the melee. Reagan found herself in the sights, and set her Essence racing through her Gifts. Speed found her legs, and she raced ahead of the gunfire to take shelter behind a rocky outcropping. She waited for a pause in the gunfire, a moment's distraction as Aed roared a challenge, and in that fraction of an instant when no eyes were upon her she moved to a new hiding spot beyond the means of the humans to see her.

                Aed snapped the spear from his leg without breaking eye contact from the human in front of him. His Berserker's Might shielded him from most of the pain, but the Death Rage was rising from the smallest touch of silver that had crept through. The wound in his leg throbbed and burned and froze in a streaming cacophony of pain, but he didn't flinch as he closed the distance.

                "You have a lot of scars," he told the still-grinning hunter in front of him. "Let me add to them."

                And, for the first time any of his packmates could recall, Aed shifted into Garou. His already large frame filled out rapidly, furred muscle expanding as he took the Favoured Form he had so long denied. Claws moved like lightning, in and out of the soldier's guard, leaving red ruin in their wake. The bare, muscled chest of the man tore into ribbons of gore and glimpses of gleaming white bone. But somehow, impossibly, the man stayed on his feet.

                "My," he managed to gasp out, "what big teeth you have."

                He struck out with his knife, but Aed moved like one who knew where the blow would land. The visions of the Cahalith hummed through his mind as he saw the knife coming just as he had in dreams long before this day, and he battered it out of the way. The soldier turned the strike into a roll, sliding out of the way, and at that moment Aed realised every gun on the battlefield was pointed at him. An explosion of gunfire ripped into him, bullets hammering away, and again Reagan saved a packmate by twisting the sickly silver bullet from the massive rifle into the ground.

                Beyond his target, Aed could just make out the crevice these humans had used to enter the Hisil. His heart fell when he saw movement among the rocks, a man in a soldier's uniform came into view. For all his personal confidence, Aed knew his pack was on the cusp of defeat. Aaron was gone, running with what strength remained in his limbs, buoyed up as much by Hope's blessings than anything. Reagan remained unscathed, dodging bullets with supernatural ease, but she was sure to have near burned through all her Essence to do so and now hid among the rocks waiting for a chance to rejoin the battle. And Orla had staggered out of view, avoiding the line of soldiers and their wicked silver bullets. He was the only one left standing, and now there were more humans comi-

                Wait. A second soldier appeared behind the first, and a third behind him, and Aed realised there was something wrong with these men. The first wore a uniform deeply stained with dry blood. The second was missing a fairly large chunk of his skull. The third's entrails slipped and slopped from his stomach, dragging through the dirt behind him. And then the fourth came through, without any legs. For a moment Aed wondered what horrors these humans had been experimenting with, to call up such allies, when a large, skeletal hand reached over the edge of the cliff above the crevice. A second appeared moments later, and Cairnbreath hauled himself into view.

                "A chance to repay my debt, I see." The ancient death god's dry hiss resounded over the battlefield. The Silver City men turned in horror to see the dead at their backs and a figure out of nightmare descending down the cliff above them. A thick mist began to rise about their feet, a miasma that caused the environmental suits many of the men wore to disintegrate, sloughing off and taking large chunks of flesh with it. Reagan and Aed could see men weeping blood, muscles come apart beneath increasingly translucent skin, the crumbling of exposed bone.

                Something in the soldiers refused to give, however. As one, they remained on their feet. One man, his armour torn to ribbons by Aaron's claws, seized the fallen body of the man Riley had dismembered at the start of the fight and hauled him towards the portal. He roared out "Clear a path!" and his fellow men turned their weapons on the zombies. The walking dead jerked under the focused fire, most of them crumbling on the spot, and the dying men staggered through. The rifleman turned to follow, falling to his knees when Reagan bore down on his back from behind tearing deep gouges in his flesh, but he regained his footing and gifted her with a parting shot that burned the last dregs of her essence to avoid. The bare chested man looked at Aed and down to his knife with something that could almost be disappointment in spite of his horrific injuries, and he ran to leap through the portal in the wake of his comrades.

                Cairnbreath crawled down to the base of the cliff to nurse his fallen zombies, and one by one they began to twitch and return to life. The shocking damage done to their bodies seemed to matter little as Cairnbreath caressed the fallen, his long tongue flicking out to touch them as he whispered in their ears. At last, in a louder voice, the grim spirit directed his creations back towards the crevice. "Make sure they don't return."

                The Harbingers had regrouped, but Aed was still struggling with the rising rage from his contact with silver. Cairnbreath seemed to size up the situation, and without a parting word he followed his zombies through the crevice. The wolves could hear the distant sound of gunfire and screaming, a sound that grew dramatically louder when Cairnbreath vanished from their sight.

                Orla called on the Half-Moon's heritage to restrain Aed's Death Rage, and the four of them stood a moment on the battlefield trying to take stock of what had happened. Then, as one, they turned and ran.

                With a wounded Aaron to help, the return trip to their Locus took over an hour. When they stepped through into Aed's living room, they could hear distant, sporadic gunfire from the direction of the quarry. Andersonstown rang with the sound of alarms and sirens, and Riley rushed to the phone to make sure Steph knew she was alright. Outside, police were telling anyone who ventured outside that they needed to return to their homes. By the time she finished talking to her Aunt, the gunfire had petered out. Aed helped lift Aaron, now in Dalu, up onto the kitchen table to assess the worst of the damage, when he spotted Iule and Bull from the Silent Sons standing outside through his kitchen window. He rushed to the door to usher them in, noting that Bull had a mark on his face like someone had dragged their nails down his cheek.

                The two packs swapped stories. Aed explained that they had been making preparations to collapse the quarry, and mentioned how they had tried to threaten the Silver City troops into leaving. He described how that had triggered the incursion into the Shadow, and how the Harbingers had responded and fought with the Werewolf hunters until the intervention of Cairnbreath. The Silent Sons, for their part, were baffled that a spirit of such strength could exist in Belfast without the Forsaken knowing of it, but Aed only revealed that it owed the Harbingers a favour and had come to repay the debt.

                The Sons, then, described the scene they had witnessed from their overlook monitoring the quarry. They had seen it flit in and out of corporeality, appearing out of nowhere in front of soldiers and, in some cases, literally melting the faces from those men. It had sewn merry ruin throughout the quarry for several minutes before vanishing. They couldn't be sure whether it had returned across the Gauntlet or not, but it had certainly left a great many of the walking dead behind. A few had even spilled out of the camp and wandered into the countryside or up the mountain before the army managed to get the situation under control. After some discussion with the Harbingers, Iule decided to ask the Sons' Totem, Farraige, the Silence in the Mist, to scour this side of the Gauntlet for any trace of Cairnbreath. The Harbingers caught a glimpse of a pair of dark eyes peering at them from a shadowy corner of the room as she spoke her Totem's name, before it vanished again from sight. The Harbingers promised to clean up the remaining mess, and told the Sons to return to their own territory.

                The next two days passed in a grey fog for the Harbingers. They did their duty, scouring the countryside for any of the living dead that had escaped the battle, picking them off with relative ease. Aaron sequestered himself in his Glade in the Shadow, unable to appear anywhere he might be seen until he healed enough to be capable of taking human form once again. The pack kept an eye on the news, watching as the official story became that of an insurgent attack on the quarry involving possible chemical weapons, with no group coming forward to take responsibility. Silver City mostly pulled out of the quarry the day after, but the pack noted there was always at least one patrol of soldiers inside even if the buildings were no longer manned.

                At last, two days after their phone call to the quarry, the pack met Aine and the hulking Matharazith atop the flanks of the Old Man, at the overlook spot in the Flesh they had so often used to observe the quarry. Aed noted that Aine seemed nervous around her Totem, while it in turn always moved to keep her close. Her stiff posture and effort to twist away spelled out clearly what she thought of that proximity. When Matharazith rumbled out, "It is time," Aine reached out with one trembling hand to touch the spirit's flank. Earth spiralled up from the ground, merging with the spirit's body, rendering it corporeal as sweat began to run down Aine's face even in the freezing weather. One massive, muscled leg rose, before slamming into the ground. Matharazith repeated this action once, twice, three times.

                The first tremor struck far, far beneath their feet, the rumble only barely perceptible. It was enough to have the military patrol below them, wandering the quarry on high alert, freeze in place. Then the second tremor hit, far more forceful, and the pack watched the distant soldiers break into a run as they fled. The third tremor struck and never seemed to end. The walls of the quarry shivered and shook and began to collapse. The mountainside itself, far below them, slipped and poured like water towards the wound in its flank. A pack of wolves watched as the hole in the mountain vanished beneath a wave of earth and a cloud of dust.

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                • #83
                  For some reason in the last two write-ups I started spelling Regan's name wrong again Now on to the ramble!

                  A few members of the game are about to go overseas for 4-5 weeks, so we were aiming this week or next to hit a natural end point before the break. I'd say we successfully managed that with this session, ending with a final resolution to the events that began this campaign. Odds seem good that the quarry itself isn't going to be the biggest issue for the Harbingers moving forward... With the game's one year anniversary taking place during the break, it sure makes that session feel like a mighty appropriate season finale.

                  Speaking of how long we've been playing this game, that sparked the first thing I wanted to dive into. After a year of play, averaging a game ~every fortnight, we've seen Harmony shift exactly twice. Aaron moving towards the Flesh with an unlucky dice roll, and Orla moving towards the Flesh because I started her at Harmony 3 and we decided over one of the time skips that rather tediously roll out every single Harmony check she'd have to make for spending a day in the Flesh we'd just bump her up to Harmony 4. The pack can go multiple sessions without taking a Harmony check, and have decent dice pools with Touchstones available when they do. It's reduced Harmony to barely even feeling like a part of the game. So, taking inspiration from Orla, I've decided to try out removing dice rolls from the mechanic. From now on, if my players hit a Harmony breaking point, they break in that direction. We'll see if that swings things too far in the other direction. We implemented the idea with this session, and I also ruled that whether it was a regular breaking point or not the destruction of the quarry was a pretty big symbol of the pack choosing the Spirit over the Flesh, so they've all crept a bit closer to balance (except Orla, but she'll be back where she was originally in a day or so).

                  Second, I would like to dig into that fight, because it gave me some food for thought. Poor Aaron continues to be on the receiving end of all the punishment in the world. He's been caught in a terrible cycle where his large amount of aggravated damage and inability, compared to his packmates, to just avoid or absorb damage means that he feels pressured to shift into Gauru reasonably early in each fight. And for a lot of enemies, and human soldiers particularly, their reaction to seeing the war form is to identify it as the biggest threat. That leads to him being focussed on, which can often wrap around to do more aggravated damage. At this point he has so much he's forced to stay in Dalu or Urshul to survive with one health, so we're definitely going to need to break into a reasonably lengthy time skip when the game returns. It's a harsh loop to be caught in, even if as a Rahu he should be able to take a bit more punishment than the rest of the group.

                  I was impressed with how the Silver City hunters and their back-up performed in the fight though. Designing humans capable of taking the fight to Werewolves is a tough time, but even with losing one of the specialists before the fight even began they were winning that fight and loading the players up with Aggravated damage until Cairnbreath intervened. That intervention is something I've been sitting on for a while, I originally intended for it to happen during the conflict with the Suthilu where the pack killed the Scream but just... plain forgot The pack turned out to have that one in hand though, and luckily this fight had all the preconditions to make it work. Aed's big howl at the start of the fight explicitly alerts spirits to his location and they start showing up three turns later, which is when Cairnbreath made his intervention. There were corpses nearby (the pack spotted body bags in the quarry from some unknown conflict back when they first spied on it) too, giving him easy access to fodder.

                  Regan was incredible during this fight. It cost her almost all her essence, but she was just the perfect Irraka. Between Fog of War and Hit and Run she was literally untouchable and extended those benefits to her packmates. Anytime someone tried to target her, she just wasn't there. She kept the big 5-6 aggravated damage rifle from ever landing a shot too, a fact her packmates were consistently thankful for. Aed might have had the big splashy moments in the fight (and against any other human on the field would have just torn them in half in one attack on the turn he went Garou, dealing a cool 9 damage on his attack against a pretty high defence character designed through and through to go toe to toe with Werewolves), but she kept so much pressure off her packmates backs through her actions. None of the Harbingers are outright bad at combat, but Riley has always had the smallest combat dice pools and historically struggled at times to do damage, so it was super cool to watch her perform in this fight the way she did.

                  I can't remember if there was anything more I wanted to talk about. If I think of something I'll make another post I guess. I'm excited to see where we go when we return in six or seven weeks though, to see what lessons I and the pack take away from this session. For myself, it really solidified a few things I'd been thinking about. Now excuse me, I need to award a few points of experience to some Werewolf Hunters and count out how many months they'll be laid up in hospital before I can reasonably have them return

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                  • #84
                    Interlude

                    OOC: We're still at least two weeks away from being able to resume normal play, but I got to sit down with Regan's player to run a quick little mini-adventure to celebrate Regan's birthday. The players plan to skip through a month or two of in-game time next session to allow all their aggravated damage to heal, and as the only uninjured member of the pack Regan will have a bit of free reign. The events here happen about a month into the time skip, and tie into that dangling thread of Wade asking for help in the previous session. This session was loads of fun, even if it did feature a remarkable amount of me roleplaying conversations with myself as NPCs met each other for the first time and forged new relationships.

                    It was a tradition, on Regan's birthday, for her Aunt Stephanie to bake her a cake. It was a tradition, every bit as important, for that cake it be terrible. Steph had outdone herself this year, Regan was pretty sure she'd just cracked a tooth on an uncooked grain of rice. When the two of them finished laughing at the cake, Steph did turn a little more serious. She asked Regan about her activities at the church, trying to suss out what had brought on the change. They'd never been a particularly religious household, not since Regan's grandparents had turfed out her mother for falling pregnant, and Steph was interested in sussing out what had brought on the change in her niece. Regan, not wanting to lie about something that might change how Steph saw her, instead managed to change the subject back to safer territory by asking Steph about her job at the corner store. Steph mentioned that her shifts had changed and she'd have an extra day off work each work.

                    As Regan mentally calculated how that might need to change her behaviour with the pack, she heard the sound of raised voices outside. One high and a little shrill, the other lower and steadier. She recognised Jo's voice as the louder of the two and Maddy's as the lower. Thinking fast, she told Steph that she had a couple of friends coming over and thought that she could hear them outside. She was out the front door moments later.

                    Regan found Jo with her back against a lamppost, hand to her chest, staring at Maddy with the wide-eyed stare of a cornered prey animal. Maddy, for her part, was apparently oblivious to the effect she was having. She was in the middle of a story of some kind, and Regan caught the words, "-and she was out of school for three weeks while her hair grew ba- hey there birthday girl!"

                    It turned out that both of them had come to wish Regan a happy birthday before school. Regan introduced them to one another, and noticed that Maddy did a very poor job of hiding her put out expression when she was introduced as just a friend. Jo, on edge in Maddy's presence and clearly struggling to focus, presented Regan with a soft, carefully wrapped package. Maddy saw the exchange and pulled something out of the handbag she was carrying on one shoulder, a pile of browning papers which she planted on top of Jo's present. At a glance Regan could see that the papers were etched with the glyphs she'd previously seen used to depict the First Tongue, a series of close-knit pictograms describing it as a rite for forging alliances. She stowed the gifts in the inner pockets of her jacket and invited the other two girls inside to meet Steph. They followed her in.

                    Steph greeted the friends enthusiastically, only embarrassing Regan a little with her exclamation of, "Your friends do exist!" Regan watched Maddy size up Steph before introducing herself with a big grin, leaving her family name and relationship to Regan unsaid. Steph didn't appear to recognise Maddy, but Maddy's conversation was stilted and awkward enough that Regan was considering intervening when she heard Jo gasp.

                    A wolf, coated in muck and gore, sat panting on the floor behind them. It could have almost passed for a natural creature, until it raised pitch black eyes to Regan's and its jaw twisted in unnatural ways to speak. "The Ghost Wolf fights alone, Friend of Wade. He begs your help."

                    If Regan had any hope that Jo and Steph may not have noticed the speaking wolf, Jo's staggered, stammered response dismissed it. Her mind raced, trying to work out how to spin it, when Maddy put a hand on her shoulder and said, "That sounds serious, we'd better go."

                    "Shut up shut up shut up Maddy." Regan didn't actually say the words out loud, but she was screaming internally at her sister for shredding whatever deniability she had left. Steph and Jo backed away from the wolf, but they kept close to the other girls. Steph asked Regan if she was in trouble, Jo wanted to know what was going on, but Regan's brain was locked in panic as her two worlds collided in front of her.

                    She tried telling them she had to run, but the two mortals wanted to follow. She tried telling them that she would explain everything later, but they were worried and didn't want her out of their sight. At last, in desperation, she bolted from the house and tried to hide amidst the gardens beyond, but Jo spotted her and led Steph towards her. At last she shifted into Urhan to sprint away. Lunacy seized Steph, sending her racing back to the safety of the house and bolting the door behind her. Jo resisted, watching in shock as her friend turned into a wolf in front of her. She looked over at Maddy and the talking wolf, who had followed out into the street. The wolf made for the sewers, and Regan bolted through the hole it opened into the tunnels below. Maddy clambered down, still in Hishu, and Regan's companions were slow enough for Jo to keep up.

                    When the four of them were alone in the sewers, Regan shifted back. She couldn't persuade Jo to abandon her. Finally, Regan makes Jo promise to stay in the back and to run if anything starts moving towards her. Regan shifted back into Urhan and the group followed the wolf deeper into the sewer.

                    Regan wasn't sure how long they'd been moving when they heard a series of snarls and thuds. She melted into the darkness, telling the others to follow slowly, and moved around the next corner to see what was happening. She could see Wade, hulked out and in Dalu form. He was roaring and slashing at a fast-moving shadow, a creature flowing in and out of the flickering light of the tunnel with a predator's easy grace. Wade's blows never seemed to land, and as the shadow passed above and past him Regan could see savage claw wounds open up across his body.

                    She acted fast, lunging from the shadows to tear into the dark figure from behind. As her claws sank in, passing through the shadowflesh without any real resistance, light blazed through the tunnel. Lines of golden sunlight rippled through the creature, shadows shrinking into a series of spots marking its flesh, and Regan glimpsed its lengthy, cat-like form in its entirety. The creature sized up the group bearing down on it and chooses to flee, racing off faster than Regan felt she would be able to match.

                    Regan introduced Maddy and Jo to Wade. The Ghost Wolf gave them each a nod, and the muck-covered wolf returned to his side. When Regan asked about the wolf, Wade mentioned that wolf spirits had been coming to help him lately. It was almost like having a pack. He then described the situation to him. The intruder in his territory had begun stalking and attacking him over the course of the last few hours. It would lunge from the shadows, strike once or twice while it had the element of surprise, and then retreat before he could do any real damage to it.

                    Jo, meanwhile, was waiting impatiently to ask some questions. The first and most important of which was whether Werejaguars existed, a question Regan had to concede she didn't know the answer to. Maddy explained what spirits were, and they speculated that Belfast's rather lax pet laws may have allowed someone to import a jaguar as a pet and thus birthed a spiritual reflection in the Shadow. It had clearly grown since then.

                    Wade wasn't interested so much in what the creature was or how it had come to be as he was in how to fight it. They needed to find a way to stop the hit-and-run tactics the jaguar had developed, or else they were never going to put it down. They needed to either locate its lair or find some other means to trap it. Jo, thinking back to what she knew about jaguars, confidently told the group that in Mesoamerican cultures they were commonly perceived as creatures of two worlds. They were comfortable among trees and water, could hunt at day or at night, and lived in caves and thus became associated with the dead. Regan worked out from there that it would probably be setting up shop in a Locus, and Wade told them that he knew of a Locus that might be where it had nested. He couldn't be sure though, and the location of the Locus wasn't his place to share. Regan couldn't convince him to tell her where it was, so the group had to resort to tracking the jaguar.

                    Before they set off, however, Regan pulled out the notes given to her by Maddy. The Alliance Rite would help them to work together as they tracked the jaguar down, and it seemed easy enough to perform. She had each of them, Jo, Maddy, and Wade, go around a circle and tell lies and boasts about their achievements. Only Jo really seemed to get into the spirit of things, the two Werewolves struggled to come up with anything inventive on the spot, but Jo's help was enough for Regan to bind them together. She also asked Maddy if she was carrying anything that might help keep Jo self. Maddy dug out a stone covered in spiderweb-like cracks, calling it a "Shatterstone". It would slow and debilitate an attacker if Jo held it up against the attacker's skin. After a moment's pause, Maddy rummaged around and handed Regan another two just in case.

                    The Werewolves in concert were able to track the jaguar unerringly back to its lair. When they returned to street level, the group found themselves looking at a house warped and subsiding into the ground from water damage. The ground in front of the house was sodden mud, and the grass drowned and dead. Regan could feel the thinning of the Gauntlet as they neared the home. Maddy took hold of Jo and brought her through the Shadow, Wade and Regan following moments later.

                    In the Shadow, the house visibly sinking into the ground. Water poured in an unending stream from its gutters, running in streams across the windows, even though there was no rain in the sky. The front door lay yawning open and they could see the floor beyond had sunk down another foot, covered now by murky water. The small group crept over the threshold and followed the trail to the right. They entered a large room, a reflection of a den or garage perhaps, where the water sank almost to their knees.

                    Regan scanned the room, looking for any sign of the jaguar. She couldn't see it, but there were over a dozen pale objects bobbing in the water. They looked like bodies, Regan realised. Maddy walked towards the closest one and poked it, and leapt back just in time as an arm flailed out towards her. The body rolled over, revealing itself to be the corpse of an old woman. Her fingers were bent and gnarled, and she wore a mouldy old wedding dress. Worse, she was missing parts. The left side of her head, a chunk below her ribs on the right, everything below the knee. They weren't bloody wounds, just places where her body was... missing. Glancing at the other bodies, Regan could see that they were in a similar state, but also noted that the bodies were a scattered mix of different ages and genders dressed in a variety of anachronistic clothing. Some of them wore outfits that had to be centuries out of fashion.

                    Ghosts, Maddy pronounced. Or what was left of them. Jo's claim that the jaguar was connected to the dead had not been in error, it seemed.

                    Regan felt the air shift behind her. She was already turning when the claws took her in the shoulder, tearing deep. She heard Jo scream and water splash as the jaguar, its form clouded and dark again, landed in the water ahead of her. Wade shifted into Gauru, roared, and tore open a gash along the creature's flank. Again, the light flared as sunlight streamed from its form to resolve into the spotted flanks of a true jaguar. Maddy tried to bind it in place by calling up streams of water from the floor, but the spirit dodged the weaving tendrils. Jo tried to reach out and touch it with the Shatterstone as it rushed past her, but her hand was shaking so badly she missed the creature by a good foot and almost tagged Maddy.

                    Watching the jaguar weaving in and out amidst her friends, Regan pulled out one of the Shatterstones of her own. She lunged at the creature, and saw it recoil in pain as the stone touched its flank and shattered. The shards sank into its flesh, travelling beneath the skin to erupt again from its limbs. The creature's pace slowed, enough that Jo's second attempt touched it with the stone in her hands as well. Crippled and limping, the creature whirled and ducked beneath Wade's next attack. Regan flung herself at it, but its form blurred as it raced out of reach. At that burst of speed the ghost corpses began to stir. Pale limbs reached for the jaguar, but it dodged nimbly between the grasping hands. Jo backed up towards a corner of the room, while Maddy moved to block the spirit's escape through the entrance to the room. It lunged at her, claws rending deep, and she vanished bleeding beneath the surface of the water. Wade shifted out of Garou and shoved the jaguar out of the way, plunging his hands beneath the surface of the water to reach for Maddy. Regan, focussing on the prey, closed the distance again to strike. Again the spirit blurred, but this time its former prey were waiting. Hands latched on to each limb as it passed, holding it helpless and struggling in place. Regan shifted to Urshul and launched herself onto the spirit's back. She bore it to the ground, teeth biting into its neck, and she wrenched and tore and worked her jaws deeper until the jaguar's head came apart from its body. Its form scattered, dispersing into the shadow, and Regan felt the relief of a hunt resolved.

                    She looked back and saw Wade hauling a bloodied, but slowly waking, Maddy to safety. Jo was unharmed, though her clothes were soaked and filthy. The group fled the Locus quickly, shifting back into the world of the flesh, and Wade was able to help each of them get home safely and unseen. Jo was a little worried about what might happen when she got home, since she'd never missed a day of school like that before and they might have called her dad.

                    Several days later, Regan woke to find the jaguar lying on the floor of her bedroom. It nudged a bracelet towards her, woven of strands of blonde and darker hair. "I took this from the heads of your friends," it told her. They were unharmed, it had only removed a few strands, for it needed a vessel to hold its form during its period of servitude. By slaying it, Regan had unintentionally invoked its Ban holding it to serve its own killer. As it spoke the jaguar slowly broke apart before Regan's eyes, its essence flowing into the bracelet. It would give her the power to call on the Resonance of Loci, until its service was complete.

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                    • #85
                      Out of curiosity, how do you build a human to go toe to toe with Uratha?


                      "Measure of Hope is right about everything." - Wise Old Guru

                      Currently running an Exalted 2.5 Abyssals game in a homebrew modern shard because I value neither my time or my sanity, and I'm loving almost every minute of it.

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                      • #86
                        Originally posted by Measure of Hope View Post
                        Out of curiosity, how do you build a human to go toe to toe with Uratha?
                        Heh, well, most of the Silver City hunters had the Scarred merit with Lunacy as the breaking point they were immune to, which helps to avoid some early dice penalties. The rest of it (aside from all being generally competent combat characters) was about teamwork and delaying actions. None of the hunters were meant to outright win a one-on-one fight with a werewolf, but they've got a few teamwork related merits that make them quite effective at teaming up against a single wolf and inflicting a variety of debilitating conditions. The spear-wielding hunter had an assortment of abilities like Punch Drunk (being able to spend a Willpower to keep his last hit box free of damage, at the cost of upgrading a point of damage elsewhere on his track) and the ability to impale his target, which allowed him to survive multiple rounds of combat against a very angry Aed. His job in the group was basically what he did in that fight, keeping most of the threats away from his teammates while they focus down a single Uratha at a time. Honestly, without Regan's Fog of War Gift keeping the massive damage from the rifle from landing each round, I think the hunters would have succeeded and wiped out the entire pack in pretty short order.

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                        • #87
                          Session 29

                          The pack settled into a routine over the course of the next month, keeping their heads down and only checking in regularly with the Cleareyes. They did learn from Eaven that the Cleareyes were adventuring into the Deep Shadow, that the Shadow in the Pure's territory did not conform closely to the real world and had many paths winding away into ancient, dark forest. The Cleareyes were hunting a creature they called a Fell Stag there, on-and-off, with some success, though the spirit was refusing to stay in the dirt where they put it. The pack had been on one such hunt when the Harbingers had tried to contact them to get access to Braghdar before the attack on the quarry, and the stag had put up quite a fight.

                          At the end of the month, and everyone's wounds were fully healed, the pack reached out to their other neighbours to find out what had been going on. Contact with the Blackstaff wolves informed them that though the Whispers had yet to settle on a new Totem, they had gone a long way towards restoring balance in their territory. Still too many shadow spirits, but they were largely in retreat. There had been a few attacks from manic host-ridden, it sounded like the Suthilu were still lurking around their territory, but nothing the Whispers had been unable to handle.

                          Then Steph knocked on Aaron's door. When he opened it she burst in, jabbing a finger into his chest and yelling, "Werewolf!" It quickly became clear that she didn't have much of a plan beyond that, but after a half-hearted attempt to put her off Aaron caved and explained a few things about Werewolves. That they were weak to silver, that Regan had inherited it from her father, and that there were other dangerous creatures out there in the night. He peppered all of this with so many warnings about the dangers of werewolf existence, including a final line ending in, "Werewolves often die young," that Steph left him mid-sentence and raced home to figure out some way to protect Regan.

                          Regan, for her part, was tentatively checking in on Jo to see whether her friend was going to reject her. Jo had been doing some research and had a checklist she wanted to run down with Regan, but seemed to have adjusted well to the Werewolf revelation. They identified that silver was a problem, wolfsbane was not, that Werewolves had a society divided up by tribe and pack, and that Regan didn't know a whole lot about Werejaguars. Jo promised to find out what she could on the latter subject.

                          When Regan got home she found Steph lying in wait and eager to lay down some ground rules. When Regan protested that Steph didn't understand, that Regan had to spend time with her pack and go on hunts or else her spirit would degrade, Steph hesitated and then decided to invite the rest of the pack over the next day. Steph sent Regan to bed vowing to gather up all the silver in the house and put it somewhere out of the way, and not taking too kindly to Regan's muttered, "But we don't have any silver in the house."

                          Steph called up Aaron the next day, a Sunday, and asked him to grab "all the other Werewolves" and bring them over so she could lay out some ground rules. Aed wasn't sure if Steph had worked out that he and Orla were werewolves, so he had Aaron go on his own. It turned out Steph absolutely had worked it out, and she sent Aaron away again saying she wanted to speak to everyone. The pack agreed to show up for dinner on Tuesday.

                          Until then, Steph told Regan as she busted out the three old, battered board games in the house, Regan was most definitely grounded.

                          OOC: This was both a shorter session, and pretty much dominated by a few lengthy conversations. The pack's finding its feet within the new status quo, which promises to be awfully inconvenient for everyone. And, well, that was kind of the point of having a teenager in the pack, so mission accomplished there.

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                          • #88
                            Apologies for the late posting on this write-up. Hopefully I manage to catch it all.

                            Session 30

                            The pack was determined to liberate Regan from the oppression of her parental figure, and each packmate formed a different plan revolving around gifts for Steph to be presented at Tuesday's dinner. Ultimately it was Aed who blew everyone out of the water, rocking up on the doorstep last but sporting the most expensive bottle of wine Steph had ever seen. Over the course of dinner and drinks Aed and Aaron went through much of the minutiae of Werewolf existence, but the point they rammed home repeatedly was that Regan would have to hunt to keep her nature in balance. They emphasised the misery and lack of control that could occur in a wolf deprived of the hunt, and managed to persuade Steph to give ground on her demands. An initial ban on school night hunts was even walked back to a 10pm curfew, though Steph told Aed in no uncertain terms that he was responsible for every scratch Regan might suffer on a hunt.

                            Regan spent most of this meal sitting miserably on a kitchen chair and shooting off mental messages with her Pack Awareness Gifts whenever they made some kind of obvious blunder, like even mentioning the possibility of physical injury. But, by the end, she had an aunt who was both aware of her nature and seemed to have a, somewhat newborn perhaps, understanding of what Regan needed to be allowed to do in order to thrive.

                            Later that week, the pack convened. Aed's ever-growing primal strength was driving the need for the pack to hunt more frequently, and they wanted to know what Cairnbreath had been up to. If the god of death was still floating around in the Flesh, they would have to do something about it even if none of them could work out what that could possibly be. Since a violent confrontation would probably be a bad idea, the Harbingers decided to drag along a gift. They figured that the infant Murder Crow they had drive from Arthur Cosgrave's body would allow them to, ahem, kill two birds with one stone, and decided to track it down.

                            Regan suggested that the pack meet up with the duguthim she'd encountered on Orchardville Crescent, since the powerful Claimed had made a point of nurturing weak Flesh-side spirits. The pack arranged with the Silent Sons to cross over to the eastern side of Andersonstown, and made their way to Orchardville Crescent. They noted the dozens of crows sitting on lampposts and poles on the street, watching the three Werewolves in eerie silence. The door to the home swung open of its own accord as they approached, and the voice of the Claimed within sung out to them to enter.

                            Entering the lounge room where Regan had spent her time at her last visit, the pack found the place basically unchanged from how Regan had described it. Aaron made sure to look at each of the packs' reflections in the mirrors. He saw himself with a vicious, feral cast to his features, not unlike the slightly wolfish Hishu form adopted by Maddy. Aed, for his part, looked younger, run down, with a visibly broken nose. Regan sported the wicked scar she'd seen in her own reflection, and Orla displayed no reflection at all.

                            The Claimed met them there. Since the pack realised that Regan had never asked her name, they all made a point of introducing themselves. The immense, overweight woman called herself Adele, but told the wolves that they could refer to her as Urkerrigan if that made them more comfortable. When the pack brought up the Murder Crow, Adele was visibly uncomfortable with the idea of turning over a small spirit to them. Aed promised her that the little spirit would not come to harm, and cited the previous dealings in good faith that the pack had undertaken with Flesh-side spirits in the past. Their dealings with the Broken appeared to be what persuaded her, and Adele led them to the leafless tree in her backyard and reached into a hollow in the tree. Her hands emerged carefully cradling the Murder Crow, it blinking bleary half-panicked eyes at the sight of the waiting wolves. It didn't appear to have grown since they last set eyes on it, still appearing to be a newborn bird with a head too large to be supported by its long, weak neck. Its skin was slick with reddish fluids, with the first signs of feathers beginning to break through.

                            The Harbingers returned to their own territory with the Murder Crow in hand, thanking Adele for her aid. The small murder spirit remained seated in Aed's cupped hands during the journey, watching passers-by with unblinking intensity. The feel of its skin, at once both slick and prickly, was unpleasant and made him eager to dispose of the spirit and wash his hands of it both literally and figuratively.

                            The pack entered the Shadow and set off towards the quarry, the last place they had seen Cairnbreath. They found that it had been filled in Shadowside as well, but that the essence of death had pervaded the site. Where the quarry had once been was now a quagmire of dark liquids and thick, low-lying mist tinged faintly green. Humanoid silhouettes could be seen drifting in the mist, but they did not respond to Aaron's hails. He considered making his way into the fog to interact with the spirits more directly, but after two steps into the quagmire and feeling it suck at his paws he decided against it.

                            Regan's ability to pick up a trail regardless of the passage of time stood the pack in good stead there on the edge of the quagmire, as she was able to locate the path Cairnbreath had taken after the attack on the Silver City outpost. The good news was that the death god had clearly returned to the Shadow after the attack. The bad news was that the trail headed west, further than they could go with her new curfew. The pack travelled as far as they could, drawing close to the western border of their territory, before Aed and Regan broke off to get Regan home rather than risk breaking Steph's rules at the first opportunity. The rest of the pack remained with the Murder Crow over the course of the night.

                            The Crow decided to spend the night speaking, since it had a captive audience. It seemed to think sitting around all night was a waste of time, especially when they had passed so many potential victims back in the world of the Flesh. To Aaron's horror it was able to describe each pedestrian it had spotted from the window of the car during the drive from Adele's place to Aed's, in detail, and then regaled the wolves with detailed descriptions of how they could murder those pedestrians. A lot of the ideas were detailed, inventive, and deeply unpleasant. Neither Orla nor Aaron had an opportunity to sleep that night.

                            The next day, when Regan was finished with school, she met up with Aed and they sped in Urhan form to return to the others and pick up the trail again. Cairnbreath's tracks led past the western border of the Harbingers' territory, into the realm of the deeper Shadow. To the best of their knowledge the Harbingers were entering a region no one claimed, too far north for the Cleareyes and not yet far enough west to have reached the Predator Kings of the Fulcrum. The Shadow here seemed divorced from the real world in a sense, like they were progressing further from the Flesh rather than travelling in any real world direction. Trees rose up around them, growing steadily taller until they were enshrouded in primeval forest. These trees were preposterously tall and large, a canopy hidden beyond the clouds and trunks as thick as city blocks. Luna was hidden entirely by their immensity, leaving the wolves and the Murder Crow to travel in darkness. From time to time they could hear the sound of something large moving in the darkness, and once heard something like howls far off in the distance.

                            Cairnbreath's trail followed a small trail through the wood. From time to time they found signs that they were on the right path, whether it be a discarded rifle or a human arm lying by the side of the path, showing signs that scavengers had been at it since it had been lost by its owner. At last they could see a glimmer of moonlight up ahead. Aaron led the way, stepping out into the clearing ahead of his pack. He was greeted by the sight of an immense pile of bundled sticks. It was the size of a hill, branches as long and thick as his arm tied together into bunches by thorned vine and piled on top of one another with no clear order. British soldiers, or what was left of them, stood on guard in a ring around the clearing. They didn't seem to react to the appearance of the wolves.

                            Looking back at the strange mound, Aaron found his eyes creating patterns and images in the mess. That pile there looked almost like a clawed arm, but when he blinked he couldn't see the shape again. There, just shy of the top, was a collection of shattered sticks that almost looked like a grinning mouth beneath two dark holes for eyes, but he couldn't see the face a second later no matter how hard he tried. As he was staring there, the billowing of a dark miasma rose amidst the top of the pile as Cairnbreath crested the mound.

                            "You've come a long way, wolves."

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                            • #89
                              Session 31

                              With great ceremony, Aed greeted the titanic death spirit and beckoned Aaron to step forward with the Murder Crow. The Harbingers explained that they had sought Cairnbreath out wishing to present him with a new, founding member of his court. The great skeleton, shrouded in miasma, carefully plucked the Murder Crow from Aaron's hands. Aaron felt his skin go numb where the bony fingertips made contact with his flesh. For its part, the little murder spirit was clearly cowed in the presence of this great spirit. Cairnbreath cradled it gently, and withdrew to the great mound of sticks. Boasting, he claimed that soon even his old enemy would rise in service. They stood amidst the corpse of Bristlesticks, the ruler of Cairnbreath's rival court in the time of the Wolf In Golden Chains, and Cairnbreath turned his attention back to the mound and plunged his hands in deep.

                              Having confirmed that Cairnbreath was, at least, on the right side of the Gauntlet, the Harbingers made to withdraw. Aaron, however, came forward in supplication. He asked Cairnbreath if he could learn the Gift of Death. The request barely drew a glance from the spirit, but its response was clear. "If you can rest it from my flesh, you are welcome to it."

                              Aaron swallowed, shifted into Garou, and plunged his claws into the miasma that coated Cairnbreath's form. The sickly fog was drawn to his flesh, causing it to bubble and burst and run almost as quickly as his regeneration could heal it. New scars formed amiss the mess, carving the new Gift, when a flash of movement blurred fast too quickly to track. Aaron staggered backward as he felt the new spiritual channels open, giving him the magic that he sought. The red fog of the war form receded as he shifted back, his wounds closed over, but he paused in confusion as he took in his packmates. Regan sat proudly in Urhan in front of them, tail wagging, and one of Cairnbreath's rib bones gripped proudly in her jaws. The spirit made no comment, and the pack retreated with their task done.

                              Behind them, as they left, they glimpsed the great mound of broken sticks and twigs stir for the briefest of moments.

                              That night, on a routine patrol of the territory, Aaron found the scent of a pack of wolf spirits that had crossed the Harbingers' territory on the Flesh side of the Gauntlet. It had happened recently, in the last few days, and he made note to bring Regan out to track them the next day.

                              For his part, Aed spent his time after the hunt for Cairnbreath relaxing with Lizzie. The primal energies within him had not only rendered him immune to alcohol, but had forced the growing realisation that even downing poisons wasn't going to give him much of a buzz. It was still kind of funny watching Lizzie trying to keep up though, and she let something slip amidst the drinking. Her hunters were convinced that there was a rogue Werewolf in the area. A particularly gristly murder just north of Andersonstown had corresponded with the discovery of blood paw prints, and the murder had fallen on the full moon.

                              The pack, of course, knew that the full moon element was probably irrelevant, unless the murder represented a new Rahu going through the First Change. It was more likely that the murder had been connected in some fashion to the wolf spirit pack that Aaron had stumbled across. They decided to track down the spirits, but Regan's nose found that the trail descended into the sewers. Regan sent a messenger Lune to ask Wade to meet them at the site in a couple of hours, rather than trespass without permission. When the time came, they entered the sewers.

                              It was only after they reached the bottom that they realised they had left the torches in the car. Aed doubled back for them, but as he was returning the others spotted a hulking figure approaching, and red eyes shining in the dark. "Why did you have to come?" growled out a feral voice, and then Aaron found himself beset by a raging, roaring blur of slashing claws swathed in white fur. He shifted into Garou in response, already feeling wounds too deep to heal immediately opening in his body, and howled out to the others. Regan melted into the shadows, circling around to look for an opening on their attacker, just as Aed landed in the sewers with a thud and torchlight illuminated the bloody scene.

                              Wade was locked in a grapple with Aaron, both wolves having taken the war form. Their claws tore into each other, but draped across Wade's head and shoulders was a wolf's skin of white fur that warded off Aaron's blows like steel armour. Aed saw wolf spirits begin to emerge from the walls as the fighting grew, and raced through the gauntlet of snapping teeth. He shifted into Urshul, barreling into Wade's and counting on his remaining packmates to keep the wolf spirits off his back.

                              The Harbingers fought together, moving in greater harmony than they had displayed in any of their previous battles. Aaron and Aed each seized one of Wade's arms and began to pull, raking great wounds in his flesh and limbs. The strength of the two wolves should have overpowered Wade easily, but a demonic strength was in him and he found openings to rip and tear into both his assailants. The wolf spirits circled, hunting for openings, but Regan kept them distracted with lightning strikes from the darkness and Orla led others away from her packmates. As the corpus of the spirits began to disperse into the air, Aaron and Aed wore Wade down even through the Garou's unnatural regeneration. As his body began to come apart, the skin draped about his shoulders tore away. There was a moment when it seemed to take form into a great, white wolf, connected to Wade's body by strings of blood and tendon, and its eyes fell upon Aaron.

                              "This will be remembered."

                              It vanished through the wall of the tunnel. As it disappeared, Wade collapsed. His form shrunk, returning to Hishu, and between them the Harbingers realised that his body was coming apart at the seams. The enhanced fortitude gifted by his Claiming would rapidly reverse now that the spirit had separated from the flesh, and Wade might not survive his wounds when it did. They hauled his unconscious body back to the car, taking care not to be seen, and raced him to Aed's home and through the Gauntlet to Aaron's glade. There, they called up Silkenspun and paid the spirit a great bounty of essence to keep Wade suspended on the cusp of life and death until his body could find the time to heal its wounds naturally.

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