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1000 Mage Plots

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  • Bluecho
    201) News of an alleged medieval manuscript have been making the rounds, first in academic circles and now on social media. The manuscript being a thoroughly enciphered text with mysterious and surreal illustrations, with vague allusions to herbology, astrology, and alchemy. Memes being memes, people are beginning to call it the next Voynich Manuscript, after several scanned pages were leaked to the Internet.

    While the full meaning of the text eludes Sleepers, the Awakened have taken notice. Those with even elementary understanding of Mind are able to decipher the contents of the leaked pages in short order, and have concluded it had obvious and actionable occult significance. Some even presume the text to be a Grimoire, or even Primer. As such, it is now to the benefit of various Awakened groups to track the original manuscript down and confiscate it. These include the Technocratic Union - who don't want another high profile occult text potentially leaking into the public discourse - and the Children of Knowledge, who assume the text to be an alchemical treatise belonging to their history.

    A number of possible explanations present themselves:
    • The text is, as the Children of Knowledge presume, of Solificati origin.
    • Rather than Solificati, it may have its origins in the Cosian Order or the Celestial Masters. It may even be the combined efforts of a cabal of Order of Reason mages, ciphered to prevent it falling into the hands of ignorant Sleepers...or superiors/Ksirafai, who may object to sorcerous research within their ranks.
    • The work was the brainchild of a medieval Marauder, with the full text connecting true nuggets of "proper" occult lore with heaping handfuls of raw insanity. Anyone who reads the text in its entirety has a chance of going mad.
    • It's a Nephandi plot - whether old or new - to lure people into Maleficia.
    • It's all an elaborate prank by an Awakened Mage of some description, who created the text and illustrations, magically enciphered it to attract attention, and then used Time and/or Entropy to artificially age the book so it appears hundreds of years old.
    • Some Hermetic magus lost one of their reference materials, and may or may not badly want it back. (Bonus points if the magus is something weird, like a discorporated spirit in the Umbra or some kind of Lich).

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  • Bluecho
    200) In a turn out of HP Lovecraft's The Temple, a submarine lost during the Cold War was discovered derelict on the bottom of the ocean. Despite the age and decay, pockets of air remained in certain sections, preserving (as well as they could be) materials that otherwise would be lost. A Sleeper research team was sent to investigate...under US State Department supervision. The Cold War is over and many elements of spycraft declassified, but the government wants to be safe. No sensitive matters could be found there, however. At least, none pertaining to mundane secrets.

    First, the submarine's engines were rendered inoperative, stranding the sub for a period of time. A number of crew on board were killed gruesomely in some internal struggle, of a distinctly occult nature. Evidently, a few of the sailors went made and began performing grisly rites to unnameable horrors. They tried to take over the ship and sacrifice their fellow sailors, and the resulting conflict killed large scores of the crew. Many of those that remained took their own lives, notes left behind citing terrible dreams and a voice calling them from beyond the hull.

    Much of this information was recorded in the captain's journal. While a skeptic and professional officer, he could not fully explain the events occurring on the sub. Nor could he ignore his own troubled sleep, with dreams that called to him from a nearby set of ancient underwater ruins. Having no other avenue open to him, he took the few remaining crew and led them out in diving equipment, to explore the ruins. The journal, as expected, stops there. The sub then spent several decades drifting with the currents, so the exact location of where the ruins are is difficult to trace (requiring a analysis of clues within the journal and of known ocean currents to pinpoint the site.

    As this was not, strictly, a matter of secret intelligence, the research team was allowed to take what it needed back to a university to study. Spies within academia have revealed this information to most major factions in the Ascension War, as well as to other parties.
    • The Technocracy has done its best to cover up the incident and its evidence, but were too late to quash knowledge of it completely. They did not realize the full implications of the derelict submarine until too late, and are running damage control. Meanwhile, the oceanic branch of the Void Engineers have started putting together a team to find and explore these ruins, and contain or destroy whatever Reality Deviance is behind the disaster on the sub.
    • Tradition members in the Society of Ether have similar thoughts, seeing the underwater ruins as a potential danger. But then some Etherites start thinking of Atlantis, and now they work with a fervor born of intellectual curiosity. Several members of the Order of Hermes have also been brought in (or forced themselves on the project), as consultants on strictly occult matters. They also think the ruins might have a wealth of arcane artifacts and art, which attracts their antiquarian interests. Chorister exorcists and Euthanatos ghost-talkers may also be on board, in case the location plays host to a number of unquiet spirits and foul, antedeluvian demons.
    • Members of the Disparate Alliance have made inquiries into the matter, and plan to send a team to the ruins. If for no other reason than because they assume the site is Nephandic, and they cannot trust either the Traditions or Technocracy to be without infiltrators. Depending on where the ruins are located, this matter may be of personal interest to one or more specific Disparate Crafts. If by Asia, the Wu Lung. If off the coast of Africa or the Middle East, the Ngoma, Batini, and/or Taftani. If in the Mediterranean Sea, the Sisters of Hippolyta. Etc, etc.
    • Speaking of Nephandi, these ruins are of obvious interest to the K'llashaa, since the occult activity aboard the sub seemed eldritch in origin (or inspiration). They may send agents or horrors to the site - even as double agents within other groups - assuming the K'llashaa have not maintained a presence there the whole time. If the latter, other teams may find themselves swimming into an even more dangerous situation than they realize.
    • Most of the US government has written off the submarine incident as a case of the crew members having gone stir crazy. This impression was encouraged by Technocratic plants within the departments. Nonetheless, certain individuals - most likely members of SAD or isolated agents who know more than they let on about the supernatural - cannot let the matter go. As such, they've pooled personal resources to mount an expedition of their own. If the state will not investigate matters, these hard-working agents will have to do it themselves. They have no idea what they're getting themselves into. (Nor, indeed, will the presence of these Sleepers necessarily affect Paradox down in the depths, which is its own Reality Zone).
    • Mortals aren't the only ones with an interest in this case. Vampires from the Followers of Set - mostly occultists and anthropologists - have prepared their own trip to the site, in their eternal search for ancient knowledge. A wealth of lore (and possibly occult power) to be claimed for the glory of Set. Other vampires also potentially take interest, if only in the interests of maintaining the Masquerade, or under the hunch that the ruins might be the resting place of a powerful Methuselah (or even an Antedeluvian). Vampires have one advantage other groups lack: they do not need to breathe.
    The PCs could be members of one of these groups (minus the Nephandi, of course). Even the presence of a few of these groups, at the same time, could make things interesting.

    Far more interesting is the fact that it takes place underwater. If the characters aren't equipped with Magick capable of letting them breath (and protecting them from pressure), they'll need to rely on personal submersibles, drone subs, or diving equipment. PCs may be challenged by ocean currents, hostile sea life, murky water, equipment malfunction, and near total darkness. All before the supernatural threats hiding in the depths come into play.

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  • Bluecho
    199) For death-mages (Euthanatos, Hollow One, etc): the PC is contacted by a wraith, who says they were one of two people who died together, murdered by the same unknown person. As the wraith explains, the investigation into their deaths went cold (the murder weapon - one of their shared Fetters - was discarded, and lies at the bottom of a gutter). While the ghost who met the PC is understandably bummed by the situation, their partner in death has not taken the stalled investigation well. Seeing the police as lazy and incompetent, the other ghost has begun an escalating series of retributions about them. The ghost's darker impulses drive them to further and further malice, taken out on law enforcement officers whose only crime was a lack of leads.

    The first ghost fears their partner may eventually become a Spectre permanently, and that their lashing out will turn ugly, very soon.

    Hence this wraith's presence. Desperate for a solution, they've come to ask the PC to track down the original murderer. The police never found the murder weapon, but the victims know exactly where it is, and can lead the PC to it. From there, it would be an elementary exercise of Correspondence to trace the killer. Of course, what the PC does with the killer when they find them - and whether that will actually satisfy the Spectre-to-be - is another matter entirely.

    Not to mention that the killer could be anything, and facing them could be difficult unto itself.

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  • Bluecho
    [I wear my influences on my sleeve. This one's a send-up to the movie Redline.]

    198) The Ascension Race has returned, and the whole Awakened world is eager to compete.

    Having its roots in centuries of informal races between mages, the Ascension Race proper began shortly after the defection of the Sons of Ether to the Traditions. A member of what would become Iteration X challenged a prominent Etherite to a race, using the finest automobiles their respective Sciences could produce. They took their contest to the Umbra, where Paradox wouldn't get in their way. The results of that race were mired in controversy, and rematches would be performed several times during the remainder of the 19th century. The important part is that it did not remain contained to these two scientists, but spilled over into the rest of Mage-kind. Enthusiasts of speed and competition, from every walk of Awakened life (as well of other Night Folk, on occasion), began to compete in what became known as the Ascension Race.

    There were only three rules: 1) the racers had to stay grounded or hovering (not flying); 2) racers needed to complete a full circuit of the course, though the exact route was left open; and 3) weapons or other effects could not go beyond a certain threshold of destructive power (mostly to protect spectators from collateral damage). Other than that, most anything was permitted. Vehicles of all stripes have been seen (as have living mounts), and just as many different kinds of racers. The second most common racers behind Mages were Spirits, with the Ascension Race attracting many (sometimes literal) speed demons. Even vampires and werewolves are allowed, IF they can get to the starting line...and if they can keep up. (Certain vampire technomancers have made valiant efforts over the years, using black market Etherite tech or even materials of their own design; most werewolves dispense with vehicles, and just run or ride spirit beasts).

    The Ascension Race, naturally, was controversial to the extreme. For years, the Technocratic Union forbid any Technocrat from competing. Technocrats still did, they just had to be secretive about it, and the Union always sent agents to watch the race, to catch personnel. That said, enforcing this edict was not always consistent or unanimous, and great debate happened within the Union as to the merits of supporting it, if only passively. Some argued that the race was a chance to display the superiority of Enlightened Science. Others, however, considered fraternization with Reality Deviants (even in a competitive context) to be unthinkable, and the higher ups tended to agree.

    It all came to a head during the Pogrom years, when neither side was in the mood to tolerate each other long enough to idle by the starting line. The Ascension Race occurred sporadically during this period, and stopped dead with the Avatar Storm. This ended the Pogrom, of course, but left the Umbra virtually inaccessible. Only lesser informal races could take place, and only on earth (where the threat of Paradox kept the heights of Awakened racing severely capped).

    With the clearing of the Avatar Storm, though, talks of reigniting the Ascension Race started up. Moreover, the Technocratic Union's leadership skews much younger and less draconian, making them more receptive to inter-sect competition. Finally, with a 3-2 Convention vote in favor of the race, a formal truce was broached between Technocracy and Traditions. That was five years ago, and now all the racers are assembling on the traditional home of the Ascension Race: the Ashen Expanse, a blasted wasteland Umbral Realm, bereft of permanent residents and shaped by over a century of magickal combat.

    A number of complications could arise from any story incorporating the Ascension Race:
    1. Certain factions within the Technocratic Union are still bitter about the race, and may attempt to sabotage it...or commit forces to simply attack everyone. In the interests of keeping this secret, even from the rest of the Union, they can't marshal too many war machines or troops, and the Union itself wouldn't have many to spare even if they could dispense with secrecy. The Anomaly hit them just as bad as the Traditionalists. Still, it doesn't take much to ruin the race if a force comes in that doesn't care about the rules or about winning.
    2. Syndicate reps and other parties have aggressively started bids, with several fortunes total on the line. For this reason, some dishonest individuals may endeavor to cheat...or to fix the race. Many mages will already be on hand to stop members of other factions from unduly affecting the race's outcome (so it comes down only to the racers destroying each other), but even the precognitive have blind spots, and even wards can be circumvented. And no amount of mind shielding will help if a racer decides, of their own will, to take a dive at the last minute, in return for rewards promised.
    3. It's the Umbra, meaning any residents of the spirit worlds can get involved or interfere with the race. This can include powerful Umbrood with an axe to grind with one or more racers, werewolf packs who hate the presence of so many machines (and their Weaver-ridden drivers), and even Threat Null forces acting on old, anti-Ascension Race habits.
    4. With so many spectators come to watch the race, all from different walks of life (on both sides of the Gauntlet), violence or treachery happening in the crowd could spark chaos and bad feelings. With so much attention on the race, you could get away with murder...any number of parties may try just that. This could sow seeds of renewed discord among Mage factions, or between Mages and Umbrood, or between any sort of Night Folk. If tensions are diffused and perpetrators caught, a whole war could start up before the race even finishes.
    5. It's been over a decade since the Avatar Storm cut the material world off from the Umbra. Who knows what sort of things could be wandering the Ashen Expanse (or hiding beneath it)? With so many converging on the spot, and with the high speeds and high powered weapons going off, something horrible could be stirred into action. Something unlikely to be good, for anyone involved. A giant monster? The angry Specters of every racer to have died in the Realm? A forgotten Union superweapon? Something even more ancient and terrible?
    Last edited by Bluecho; 09-19-2019, 07:13 PM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Several possible explanations or ways the situation could go down:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • 11twiggins
    194) A Dark Ages Mage is somewhat "touched". She seems out of place. She writes out complex algebraic formulae for some hypothetical "thinking mechanism" that she keeps having dreams about. Long lists of Xs and Ys forming what she calls a "binary code", whatever that means. Oh she's a genius, but she seems to loathe practical machinery, simple mechanisms, only working with gears and mechanics because she feels she has to. Her numerology and ritual arts impress her mentors, but she has earned a reputation of being slightly mad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • 11twiggins
    190) A PC grew up in a commune of druids, Verbena style sorcerers, acolytes and the occasional Mage. The pogrom destroyed this commune, and as far as they know, they are the only survivor. They hate the Technocracy for killing their family, and have become a crusader for the Traditions in their fight against the Union.

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

    There are two things the PC doesn't know:

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

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

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

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

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

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  • 11twiggins
    188) a Virtual Adept or NWO operative, PC or NPC, notices a really strange anomaly in data regarding arson and other crimes committed by children. A huge spike in deadly house fires where the cause might be linked to the behaviour of a 4-8 year old child. An upturn in parents and siblings being injured by children in that age group, or being driven to suicide. Posts by concerned parents and teachers reporting disturbing drawings of people burning in fires, or finding their children playing with matches and lighters.

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

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

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

    Through investigation the PCs may discover this horrible cabal of manipulative Nephandi, and hopefully shut down their operation.
    Last edited by 11twiggins; 02-27-2019, 05:21 AM.

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

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

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

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

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