A little bit of background. This was a one-shot I ran over Christmas break in 2015. It was my first test of the random character creator I made – meaning that all of these characters had their stats and a couple personality traits created at random and then the players built a character out of that. It was lovely.
In an average home in the suburbs of Saskatoon, Canada, Chloe sat alone in front of her computer, her tapping and clicking becoming ever more frustrated. Chloe was a bit of an oddity. Her husband, Henry, had passed away a few years ago and her son – a struggling journalist – had bought her a computer to help her cope. She had attempted to strengthen her connection with Henry Jr by getting more interested in games and the internet. In time she found League of Legends and became hooked. Now 58, Chloe played League constantly and was – quite frankly – a badass at it, crushing her way up to Challenger, leaving a trail of broken teenagers in her wake. About a year ago, her passion for the game had led to an Awakening, a game of nearly divine inspiration that had transported her body and soul into the match. After that victory, the boundaries between the game and reality had become rather muddied and Chloe didn’t mind one bit. Little did she know that her passion had punched a hole through the Gauntlet and into the Digital Web itself and the communal passion of the League community, transforming her house into and extremely powerful mystic Node. Unfortunately for her, others took note and didn’t think taking it from a woman in her late 50’s would be much trouble.
It was. Chloe used a combination of physical talent and her connection to the Digital Web to put up a damn good fight and when finally she seemed overwhelmed, teammates came to her aid. Inspired by her purity of purpose, a Euthanatos cabal allied with her to defend her home. Traveling with them was Mia, an Awakened violinist the Euthanatos had picked up on their travels. Mia had a knack for cultivating magical spaces and when the fight was won, she set to work shielding the house from prying eyes and developing it as a powerful Tradition sanctum. Chloe and Mia became housemates and the Euthanatos were able to use the sanctum as a base of operations for their efforts throughout Canada. Mia cultivated the magical energy while Chloe mostly kept to herself. The only thing Chloe really asked for in return for sharing her space was that she be generally undisturbed and that nothing mess with her internet connection.
But there it was again – a slight delay in her skillshot. Lag. Fucking lag. Which might not have been the worst thing in the world if Tryndamere wasn’t killing her base single handedly while god-damned Riven chased Udyr through the jungle again for No. God. Damned. REASON. Fucking FUCK!
Downstairs, unbeknownst to an increasingly apoplectic Chloe, there had been a knock on the door. Mia answered, to discover a pleasant man who seemed the very embodiment of business casual. “Hi, I’m Landon. Can we talk?”
Mia was suspicious. They didn’t get visitors. “We can outside.”
Landon looked slightly sheepish, “I’m from the Akashic Brotherhood and I think you’re in danger.”
Mia let him in.
Landon however, was not from the Akashic Brotherhood. He wasn’t a tradition mage at all. And actually, he wasn’t really himself on that particular day. Or, put another way, he was usually someone else. A few years ago, Landon’s life as average joe business man had been threatened by a subtle Awakening. His shifting view of reality caused him to seek professional help. The shrink assured him that he was merely experiencing stress from work and fixed this stress using hypnotic therapy. His therapist – as it turned out – was also a werecat. A werecat with an agenda. Centuries ago, the Wendigo werewolves had driven the Bastet from their den-realms in the north, greedily stealing resources to help them in their own war against the Wyrmbringers from the west. Powerful seals had been put in place, cutting off the cats from their totems and magic. The location of the seal had been completely barred off from their kind. Some of the Bastet had scattered, intent on finding new places of power. But some had merely retreated into America to bide their time until they could find a champion to unseal their magic for them. A powerful and confused willworker fit that bill nicely. The Bastet used hypnosis and spirit Gifts to hide Landon’s nature from him, while building a second personality within him – a powerful blood mage loyal to the Bastet. Part way through Landon’s training, the Bastet learned that the Wendigo had found a new powerful Caern and were about to claim it. With that power, the Bastet would lose any hope of breaking the seals. Half-trained, Landon’s second personality was activated and he was dispatched.
Landon knew only a part of that and of that part, he shared only a part with Mia. Werewolves nearby. Something should be done. Mia went to get Chloe to discover her agitated by both the lag and her loss. Together they went into the basement to investigate the node and found it normal as ever, a beautiful pool of energy connected to the house’s power lines. But regardless of the node’s health, something was very wrong indeed. None of their phones had a connection. And when they tried to leave, the door would not budge. This would not do at all.
At this point, the door to the hallway bathroom filled with a blinding light and a man came stumbling through. Haggard and heavily armed, he found himself looking down the barrel of Chloe’s pistol – Henry – and a modified squirt gun – Henry Jr. The man – Nolan – was surprised, but not overly so, given the last few years of his life.
Nolan, you see, was a Void Engineer. As a combat specialist working for that adventurous branch of the Technocratic Union, Nolan had been dispatched to investigate the Digital Web when it was just beginning to form itself from the swirling energies of the Void. Things had not gone as planned and Nolan had found himself trapped in a realm of video games made real. His body had atrophied while his reflexes became incredibly sharp – the only things saving him from over-the-top gory annihilation day after day. For years he had searched for a way back to earth and finally he had found one. But the door was being sealed by alien spiders and he would need help to overcome them.
Not realizing that these people were deviant Council mages, Nolan introduced himself as a Void Engineer and fortunately for him, Chloe mistakenly remembered the Void Engineers as a part of her own Virtual Adepts. An alliance was formed then and there – an alliance built on a variety of deceits.
Deceits or not, the group’s common cause was real enough. Nolan lead them back through the door into the spirit world to show them their otherworldly assailants. On the other side, the inside of their home was quite different – a beautiful wide-open area reflecting Mia’s style and sensibilities. The center of the house had a powerful beam of radiant energy extending ever-upward into the clouds. The only trace of Chloe’s influence was a high-tech desk with several monitors immediately adjacent to the node.
The mages were different as well, aspects of themselves expressing more strongly in the spirit world. Mia’s violin was tinged with traces of the digital web, featuring glowing edges and an energy bow. The custom watch that Landon used to draw blood had become and entire glove and – to everyone’s confusion – he had cat ears. Chloe looked generally like herself, although Henry Jr crackled with power. Nolan looked unchanged – this was his existence.
It became immediately clear that they were under assault. Spiders as big as them raced along the outside of the house, incasing it in increasingly thick webbing. They would need to be stopped. Opening the door in the spirit world proved possible, but presented them with a nearly impenetrable barrier of silk. Landon – eager to prove his value – had been trained by the Bastet specifically in destroying magical barriers. All it took was a little blood. Pricking his hand, Landon rubbed his bloody palm across the webbing and it tore away like so much cotton candy. The spiders responded quickly, surrounding the hole and daring any mage to emerge into their waiting pincers.
Mia, however, could investigate just fine without daring that gauntlet. Closing her eyes, she began a concerto, a beautiful melody that carried her spirit beyond the boundaries of her home…and took her body with it. Opening her eyes on a roof across the street she saw clearly the group of spiders, as well as a vicious werewolf with a very intimidating sword watching the events unfold from just down the street. Another quick tune and Mia returned to her friends to tell them the news.
To fight an army of spiders, the mages would need an army of their own. Chloe turned to the node and confidently started the game she knew all too well. Her twisted understanding of the situation resonated through the node and called out to the nearby spirit world, enticing spirits of all kinds to come fight for her and earn a feast of quintessence. They answered the call, spirits of wind and rain and fashion and technology. But when each of them entered the node, they were transformed into the homogenous army Chloe needed. Minions.
The spirits marched out to meet the spiders and a fight ensued. The minions weren’t much of a match for the spiders, but they provided sufficient distraction for Nolan and Chloe to unleash a torrent of bullets from their various weapons, tearing two of the spiders to pieces and forcing the rest to retreat. Minions continued to push past the doorway and the werewolf leapt to confront them – dicing them with ease. It rushed the doorway and was hidden by a gust of snow-laden wind. The mass of fury and fangs slipped invisibly through the door, but not undetected by Mia, who never needed sight to understand her surroundings. Realizing almost too late that the spider’s webs had hindered many of the chantry’s defenses, she quickly played a melody that reinvigorated the gongs guarding the doorway. They went off, staggering the werewolf and revealing him briefly. Chloe let loose a blast of energy from Henry Jr., further disabling the rampaging monster. Landon, who had spent this time bathing in energy from the node, unleashed a powerful blast that caught their enemy full on an in an instant destroyed him, leaving only the werewolf’s sword wobbling slightly where it was jammed into the flooring.
The group was relieved and elated, but also wowed by the efficacy of Landon’s attack. As well they should have been, for werewolves are far from easy to kill. They could not know that for years the Bastet had been filling his body and soul with silver – the one thing truly lethal to the vicious Garou. Landon’s blood and the magic that flowed from it were anathema to the enemies they now faced. Landon, wisely, declined to fill them in on this matter.
For the slain minions, existence took on a grim horror. Torn apart by spiders and wolves, they did not disperse and rejoin their respective Incarna in the higher spiritual reaches. Instead, they were drawn back into the node and reinvigorated. Marching forth again, they understood that it was now their obligation to fight and be destroyed by enemies until these mages won or were destroyed.
With the wolf dead and the spiders in retreat, the group emerged from their dwelling. After some defenses had been repaired, Mia took up her violin once again and traveled on light-hearted melodies through the streets, looking for their aggressors. She traced the essence of the beasts through the power line all the way to the hydroelectric dam at the city’s edge. Their she saw that in the spirit world, the dam was constructed not by man, but by beavers, and powerful beaver spirits guarded it on masse. Its construction blocked even Mia from entering it, but she could hear men talking through the walls. Two of them would defend the dam while two went to the home of their spider allies to rally more support.
To Chloe, this game was not exactly what she knew, but was close enough. She could use her minions to keep pressure on the enemy Nexus-Dam while the four mages found this spider encampment and destroyed it. Mia made quick work of finding the spiders’ lair – the spiritual shadow of the city’s technical institute was overrun with them. As they prepared the leave, Landon considered what the Bastet had taught him about the relationship between the wolves and the other spirits. The spiders were oftentimes at odds with the wolves so he reasoned that either the wolves were forcing cooperation, or they had bribed the spiders. He made sure to take along a duffle bag of water bottles, filled with powerful Tass from the node.
Wolves are very fast, but Nolan’s years in the spirit wilds gave him a sixth sense for finding paths and avoiding distractions like spiritual storms and, in this case, a Dreamspeaker in deadly combat with a dragon – trying desperately to save his mother from her cocaine addiction. The dragon was the addiction. He would have to fight that fight alone – Nolan and his allies had their own problems.
The group arrived at the lair and were confronted by a swarm, but a combination of Landon and Chloe’s combined business savvy earned them an audience with Pamiuq, the spider queen. The colossal spider descended from her perch in the dean’s office and told them that she and her brood had made Saskatoon their home for many years, but the wolves had grown too powerful to oppose. When the Wendigo had learned of the power in Mia and Chloe’s house they had offered Pamiuq a large share of the spoils in return for helping to take it from the mages. But even if they succeeded, part of the deal was that the spiders would leave Saskatoon for good. It was a deal of necessity for Pamiuq – but not one that pleased her. The mages offered a permanent alliance and an ongoing tribute of Tass if Pamiuq shifted her allegiance. A better deal to be sure, but Pamiuq could not side against the power of the wolves without proof that the mages could win this fight. Drive off the two wolves approaching from the North – she said – and not only would Pamiuq join them, but she would release into their custody another mage she had caught trespassing earlier. The group set off to prove their mettle.
Setting up an ambush on top of the spiritual reflection of a 7-11, the group didn’t have long to wait before two dire wolves came running down the street. Energy weapons sizzled, bullets tore through thick hides, and one of the wolves was badly injured before the fight even started. The other shifted into its war form, picked up its injured ally, and retreated amidst a barrier of spiritually animated debris. As it left it fired of several shots from a shotgun, giving Nolan a painful reminder that his time in the Digital Web had left him frail.
The group returned to Pamiuq victorious. Mia, however, was unable to stay with them. Having thought to track the retreating wolves, she saw that they had doubled back and were rushing towards the house. Chloe, unwilling to lose to a backdoor assault for the second time today, asked Mia to fall back and rally the Euthanatos to defend the base.
Pamiuq was true to her word. The spiders joined the minions marching towards the dam and the spider queen brought forth a cocoon from which she released a woman. When the woman stood on wobbling legs, both Chloe and Nolan were taken aback. This woman was the most reviled woman in all of Canada, a Quebiqua leader responsible for countless acts of terrors and against Canada.
To be fair, Alena was not thrilled with the situation either. Having been raised in Quebec, she had fought for independence all her life. When she had Awakened she been adopted into the Celestial Chorus, who taught her to channel the communal love of all of Quebec into the power to better the world. But to the Chorus’ disappointment, Alena’s nationalistic motives would not bow to metaphysical ones. The only way she saw to better the world was with a free and independent Quebec. After Alena used her new power to incite violence against the Canadian government, the Chorus captured and exiled her, placing her under a powerful gaes never to harm another citizen of Canada and banning her from re-entering the country. But Alena would not be deterred. She hired a Dreamspeaker to find her a spiritual escort through the Penumbra and over the border into Canada. That endeavor had met its end when Pamiuq’s brood had eaten Alena’s coyote guides and cocooned her. That had been months ago.
No one was much a fan of this development (although Landon was rather surprised that Canada had violent separatists), but all of them could agree that rampaging werewolves – especially Canadian rampaging werewolves – could not be allowed to steal such power. And so the four of them set off towards the dam.
On the main road to the dam, the streams of minions and spiders were encountering equally endless waves of clay men, animated by the combined magic of the wolves and beavers. At the point of their eternal struggle, Chloe sensed an ambush. Subtlety and guile were not the strong suits of this team composition and they charged in. A werewolf shaman in the trees unleashed a devastatingly cold onslaught of wind, driving everyone but Nolan from the road and numbing them terribly. Nolan’s attention had lapsed, but was protected by a well-timed crescendo from Mia back at the house. The wolf attempted to leap over the road, but Nolan’s training and years literally living an FPS gave him the ability to be one step again and he blew the beast out of the air. Helping him considerably was his early choice to begrudgingly allow Landon to infuse his bullets with blood.
Off the road, a massive werewolf had unleashed a blinding fog on the three numbed mages and pounced on them. Only a well-timed shot from Henry Jr saved them from its initial onslaught. It attacked Alena, whose intuition just barely allowed her to roll out of the way. She might have retaliated, but mistakenly assumed that these Lupus Garou were Canadian citizens and was paralyzed by indecision. The wolf punished her with a backhand that sent her flying. The impact might had killed her, had it not been for the reassuring strength of her people, flowing through her at all times.
Chloe attempted to fire off another shot from Henry Jr, but in the confusion hit Landon instead, reducing him to a quivering lump of uselessness. Not willing to give the mage another shot, the wolf pounced on Chloe, tearing her hand badly and damaging Henry Jr. Things looked bad, but the fog cleared in the nick of time and Nolan expertly found his shot, dropping the wolf dead to the ground.
Licking their wounds (in Landon’s case literally) the group lead their waves of allies to the dam’s door, where a terrible battle with clay men began. Landon added some of his blood to each water bottle of tass, priming them to explode in dramatic fashion. Then together, they climbed onto the top of the dam to look for a less problematic way in. What they found instead, was beavers. Many massive, 500 pound spirit beavers, heaving masses of fur and hate, razor teeth gnashing madly as they rushed across the dam to confront the intruders. Chloe sent one to its grave with a shot from Henry and then made way for the others to add to the defense. She took point again just as the line of beavers reached them. One reared up crashed into her, but she grabbed its furry wrists and held her ground. More beavers had come up from the other end of the dam and Alena took position to rebuff them. The beavers – Alena was certain – were not Canadian citizens.
In the middle, Nolan used the energy weapons strapped to his arm to start burning a hole in the top of the dam. Landon used his blood to weaken the spiritual energy holding the dam together. Chloe wrestled one giant beaver off the dam, but it took her with it, toppling into the deep water on the safer side. Alena called upon the communion of Quebec to foil several beavers, but in the end met a similar fate to Chloe. With beavers bearing down from both sides, the two remaining mages blew a hole through the top of the dam and fell heavily into a massive central chamber. With beavers raining down around them, they were confronted by a veritable beaver god, an Incarna that Landon recognized as not only the wolves’ totem, but also as a manifestation of the seal that kept the Bastet’s magic contained.
Preparing to detonate the Tass, Landon screamed and Nolan to run, but there was no way through the ring of giant beavers. With no way out, Landon let a drop of his blood fall towards the bomb, beginning a chain reaction. The Incarna bore down on top of them, it’s ten-foot teeth certain to end this fight. Nolan hefted the bag of Tass over him and the Beaver’s teeth crunched down on it, severing his wrists. In the beast’s mouth, Landon’s blood found the Tass and the beaver exploded, destroying the spirit dam and ending the Wendigo’s dominance in the area.
- The mages return to their house, safe from immediate threats.
- Alena attempts to sneak off, but Chloe makes sure to sick the Euthanatos on her, determined to keep the terrorist far from Canada and her son.
- Nolan – his hands lost – makes a hasty exit in the real world before anyone can figure out that the Void Engineers aren’t part of the Traditions. He will be back.
- Freed of the corruptive influence of the Wyrm-tainted beaver incarna, the two surviving Garou and a multitude of beaver spirits are free to find new paths.
- Pamiuq is now in an alliance with the mages, taking 20% of the node’s Tass each week, and helping provide defense and an unbeatable internet connection.
- Landon returns to the US, where he blissfully forgets that any of this ever happened.
- Quietly, cautiously, a number of Bastet return to Canada to begin reclaiming their lost power.
- The Dreamspeaker is scarred forever in his battle with the dragon, but in the end defeats it. He is needed elsewhere, but will remain in Saskatoon to help his mother recover emotionally and physically for as long as his duties permit.
- The Euthanatos work with Chloe to repair Henry Jr.
- The minion spirits are released. They will never again be so quick to accept offers from Mages.