Monday, November 24, 2014

A Game of Intrigue and Investigation

So I recently started a new Mage campaign as a player (short interlude for storyteller who gets to actually play in an ongoing chronicle doing ridiculous happy dance).  Our last session was a doozy for a couple reasons so I wanted to give it a writeup while it was still fresh in my mind . . . and there may have been some extra XP in it as we had some players out who needed a good debriefing.

This was our second session and we are a very motley crew to say the least.  In our first game we get to know each other and our Seattle home before our chantry was infested by what appeared to be magically enhanced centipedes with an impressively venomous sting.  After a fair bit of brute force destruction on our part and a quick call to Orkin just because we were referred to a specialty extermination named Wai Kwai Bei Extermination.  After some preliminary scanning of the exterminator as they came up the steps we established that they were definitely not human, and one was likely undead.  We quickly worked to distract them from our Chantry while we decided what to do about the situation.  In this process we almost chased them away entirely, but broke the engine in their truck while we decided if they needed to be eliminated entirely.  That sets the scene for the game session that follows.

The cabal's resident Euthanatoi Vic stands against the shadows of our house wrapping the quickly disappearing dusk light around him so that no one can see his presence.  He is prepared to keep these supers out of our chantry using time honored Euthanatoi methods which I'm sure no one needs any introduction to.  The cabal's Verbena, Thom Brodin was also outside with the exterminators working to find out what was really going on before letting them into the cabal.  While the exterminators called their offices about their broken down vehicle my character leverages his developed telepathy (Mind in the hands of an Orphan with a paradigm that isn't quite technocratic or tradition in its structures) to scan the mind of the exterminator who is not undead.  She is hoping that they can now get into the house because she is so very very hungry and wants to find some of the centipedes we called about as a late night snack.  While this is more than a little unnerving I don't sense any malice towards myself or any of my companions so I comment that we should let them in.  They don't seem to be a threat and we might learn something from them.

The following half hour in our chantry is deeply unsettling.  The presumably undead individual works very hard to distract us from the work that is being done.  He does an excellent job while his partner completely disappears.  During this time my character uses what he knows about the extermination company name to scour any meaningful information about what's going on  using the Internet and entropy to pull out the significant information from all the Internet noise.  While I am working on Thom and our Dreamspeaker Ashkii Dighin discover that the female exterminator has completely disappeared and immediately begin work to scan our house for her life pattern which was very distinct or for any sign of her in the umbra.  They are able to find no evidence that she is still in our house at all.

During my investigations online I discovered that the extermination company Wai Kwai Bei appears to be owned or at least controlled by the Bai Tong which was once known as a Triad, but now has a kinder gentler role in the society of Seattle's Chinatown.  Thom, Ashki, and I run into each other as we all finish our separate investigators and share what we've discovered.  We immediately head downstairs to where our Virtual Adept cabal member Trent is desperately watching over his servers with the assistance of Vic as the undead exterminator works very hard to distract him.

As we're arriving he has realized that he's watching over someone who's just wasting his time.  As soon as we confront him about what he's doing in our house his partner re-appears saying she's found no evidence of any centipedes or eggs.  She seems terribly disappointed.  I immediately scan her mind again and see that she was able to break herself into hundred, maybe thousands of spiders and crawl through our walls looking for evidence of our infestation.  While this image deeply DEEPLY disturbs me I share it with Thom using mind because I'm a terrible human being, and it's faster than explaining it.  Maybe some day he'll forgive me, or work with Vic to kill me in my sleep.  Both seem equally plausible, but he was the most likely to know what the hell the things were.

After we push the exterminators out of our house as quickly as possible we compare notes and Ashkii recognizes our description of the swarming spider shape changer as an Ananasi.  Trent also lets us know about something he found online about the Wah Mee Masacre ( that seems to be tied to the gang activity we connected the Exterminators with.  At this point in the session we all decide that we have a variety of different things we could do to investigate what's going on so we briefly go our separate ways.  Thom goes and does some volunteer work at a local alternative health clinic that he regularly "assists" at staying just on the right side of coincidence.  He was committed to go there already, but takes the opportunity to find out more about what kinds of injuries are on the rise, and if any of them are related to the centipedes we found in our chantry.  Several people have come in with bites from the centipedes and they temporarily numb large portions of the body, but aren't lethal unless someone comes in with several bites.

I contact a network of Mages I'm a part of online that I regularly get together to try to find ways to work between disparate paradigms.  I arrange for us all to get together for our somewhat irregularly scheduled "coffee Klach" and Ashkii comes along.  It's a more motley crew than our cabal which is no small feat, and after asking a few questions I find out a little bit more about the Ananansi from a member of the group who has extensive experience in a tribal paradigm from Africa.  I don't discover anything particularly concerning about them from this meeting, but there is a lot of interest around the centipedes because there is a lot of other supernatural activity that's been going on for the past couple years in Seattle connected with wild animals.  It's mostly from the sea, but it still peaks everyone's interest.  We tell them we'll stay in touch.

Finally Trent meets up with the Mr. Johnson to gives him most of his less than reputable private contracting work.  After Trent asks him about what's going on in Chinatown as we have also traced the centipedes as coming from Chinatown he says that he has no idea, but he wants Trent to find out for him.  Trent would have pushed back on the "hey wait I told you I needed to know what do you mean I have to find out" if there hadn't been 10 grand as compensation and an overt threat that if he didn't deliver then there might not be any more work for him in the future.  Gotta pay the bills, so SURE I'll find out what's going on in Chinatown.  The job specifically centered around the gang activity in Chinatown, and why Trent's employer isn't able to get any information out of the place.

When everyone gets home from their various investigations we compare notes and I tell Trent that if he can just get a boatload of data on the gangs in the area and the extermination company that I'm willing to cut it apart with Entropy, which is generally what I do anyway.  He says he's going to wait till he gets confirmation from his Mr. Johnson about some followup questions he had and in the meantime I do some additional digging.  I look at all the reporting that's been going on about Chinatown over the past couple  years and see if I can find a journalist that's hit on something.  The last real news item is quite old, and it looks like the journalist was moved to a different beat.  I put my best naieve and stupid face on and ask if she'd be willing to meet and talk with me about her work.  I don't mention her old beat, just the new business news beat.  I claim to be a young journalist student who's trying to find a good way to get an in to the industry.  We met and I buttered her up for a little while before tentatively asking about her old crime work, while scanning her thoughts with Mind.  I discovered that there was a strong connection between the crime and the major media outlets in Seattle.  She was stopped from ever getting close enough to anything to be in any personal danger, and her superiors were obviously part of the scheme.  I take her info and head back to the chantry.

Back at the Chantry Trent received a hard drive from his Mr. Johnson that had been extracted from the extermination company.  He is already given the first installment of his pay, because his employer hadn't made the extermination company connection so they saw even that small piece of information as a big win.  I start to rip the hard drive apart with Entropy to find the most useful information and discover financial statements from several restaurants, several more strong connections to the Bai Tong and several snuff films that look like they have been produced for distribution.  We decide to go to the restaurants that have their financials all over the hard drive and do a little correspondence recon (we would have done it from a distanced, but we'd already racked up some paradox this session, and being at the restaurant allowed for simpler spheres and lower difficulties).  We establish that two of the restaurants (5 Joys and Wok Chop Sockey Martial Arts themed restaurant.  This was the portion of the game where the term "Dances with Racism" came up again.  I fear this term may become a theme.) both have torture chambers in their basements that are obviously where these videos are begin produced.  Trent gives this information to his employer and scores another 2500 payout.  He also finds out from his contact that these videos are being distributed back in Asia, but not here in the US, even though they're being produced here.

While Trent was doing that I go out to make contact with my old room mate who is now a member of the Syndicate.  We are both of the opinion that there is a lot of room to do good in the world "across paradigms" though he clearly thinks I'm working for the less effective team.  We stay in contact and as long as I feed him useful information and don't do anything that smacks too terribly of reality deviance his higher ups leave us alone, though we both know perfectly well they know what's going on.  I get in touch with him because there was news of a Tsunami that was supposed to hit San Francisco all the way up to Seattle but it just didn't.  There was a perfect counter wave that negated most of the Tsunami, and redirected what it didn't destroy up towards Alaska and uninhabited portions of Canada.  I assume something as grossly unlikely as that is probably technocratic.  When I meet with him and chat I tell him about the gang activity in Chinatown and how it's tied to some serious reality deviant behavior of the kind that even the company I'm keeping finds unsavory.  He tells me the technocracy really doesn't have time to deal with anything that petty because they're too busy stopping tsunamis from wiping out the entire western sea  board.  As we keep talking we realize that there are some really striking correlations between the timing of the increase in supernatural Chinatown activity that seems to have moved in from South East Asia through Hawaii and the seismic activity that the technocracy is trying to save millions of people from.  We both go our separate ways and I promise to tell him anything that I find out that would be helpful (We have an unspoken truce that we only work in common interests and accept that we're each also doing things that are probably much more problematic.  So don't ask, don't tell, no self or ally incrimination ever)

We had met out on an island off the shore for privacy sake, and as I'm kayaking back a huge pile of the radioactive jellyfish that have been tormenting the seaboard begin to glom onto my boat with what I realize through some simple mind magick is the intention of eating me for lunch.  I call Trent and with Ashkii's life and his correspondence they are able to take out the jellyfish so I can make it home.  I take one of the jellyfish home with me so that Thom can investigate what it is.  Thom does some work on it with life magick and concludes that it's very magickally enhanced and again with a little bit more news analysis we realize that these jellyfish started showing up about two years ago at the same time that the gang activity kicked up in Chinatown.  By this point in the session we've established that the two sides of the gang war in Chinatown are the Bai Tong and a much more elusive gang leveraging business interests out of Hawaii.  We extract from the retrieved hard drive that the Hawaiian gang is tied up in some sort of long term magickal act that will take several rituals, but will eventually open "the gate" which we suspect is out in the pacific in the location where all of the new seismic activity that the technocracy has been fighting is centered.  The Bai Tong is working against them, but not very effectively (at least according to the Hawaiian gang).  The Bai Tong is also producing the snuff films, which Trent does a little more investigating on and establishes that at least some of the snuff films are recordings of some sort of magickal ritual.

This is where we wrapped up.  I'm not going to lie, I probably got the order of some of the investigation wrong and may have missed some major details.  A LOT happened, but it was all very socially constructed.  I'm going to come back and deal with the spelling and grammatical atrocities that I'm sure run through this whole writeup later, and if any of my co players want to writeup anything I missed/got wrong in the comments please do.