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Author Topic: Astral quest question/ scenario  (Read 4101 times)

Kaos_Konfety

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Astral quest question/ scenario
« on: April 21, 2009, 12:32:05 PM »

Good day, I’ve been hosting Shadowrun games on and off for... well entirely too long. I just can’t get enough of “Stuffer Shack” (and who can blame me – you miss and the Oni Jaral “Blood Claws” Cho gets (roll) splattered by something (roll, roll) Orange and Chunky). The issue I’m here for today is a strange one given this. I’ve never had a full mage initiate in one of the games I’ve run.
Never. I know the rules as I’ve had MY characters do it but...
This is most due to the fact that I tend to run a ‘lighter’ shorter game of Shadowrun as a kind of “down time” between long bouts of other games/campaigns. This is no longer the case, it is now my long haul game.
So I figured I toss this idea for an astral quest into the air and see how many holes it has got in it by the time it hits the floor. Of note I’m not really here for a rules call (though I shan’t slight those who want to give some rules advice, 4th Ed for reference), just whether or not this synchs with other peoples understanding of the Metaplanes (and story critique is of course also welcome)

Background: Hermetic mage with the “has a totem” edge – specifically Cat (looking around she fits the profile of a Chaos Mage or some self defined tradition but what’s a body to do). Her father, a retired shadowrunner and mage turned family man and freelance security expert has been trying to get her to stop descending into a life of crime and double-dealing. Mother is no longer around owing to (the character does not know this part) blow back from a botched *read as: successful but detected on the way out* run against Aztechnology her father did years prior. I’m leaning on the Spirit Animal “thing” in all the variations as her connection with Cat is rather defining of her magic and I’m going to be tossing her into some Shamanic circles with owed favours. I also love the looks you get from the Sami when  - “Let’s roll Chummer! We’s got a Run ta do.”  “I can’t do it Blood Claws, I owe a favour to a Bear who helped me during a mystical journey while I was tripped out on peyote.” Long Pause, “Wha? Um, ya... sure. Um... have fun with that then.”

The dweller at the threshold is a massive hound, fanged and brutish, some variety of bull dog but the size of a large horse, craggy dark grey and huge, his eyes though are human and grey green soft and sorrowful. Entry is by magic test opposed by *?* dice. (I will roll dice but not account for their result, she is getting past the threshold unless she fails outright.)
The Dwellers rough draft dialogue: “Your Father did not wish this path for you (referring here to Shadowrunning). Do you know why? Because he loves you. You have power though and I have no right at this time to bar you entry.”
The beasts’ jaws open impossibly wide and down its throat is darkness with the faintest light far down in the dark.

This leads to The Place of Beasts:
She breaks out of a cave after a very long while into a beatific field, grass and breeze with birds in the air. The birds are drab in colour and one alights directly in front of her looking quizzical “Why are you here, this is not your place.” – I’m starting a Hermetic in a realm of beasts as she has previously stated she is going to ask Cat for aid in her advancement.
Acts power, violence and most flippant replies result in the bird flying away – I was ‘planning’ to adlib in this reasonably unlikely event, attempting to make it obvious that was not the best idea as she is now effectively “lost” with only one obvious way back.
Stating she is looking for power, might etc. will have the bird lead her to the Place of Power
Knowledge, wisdom etc. and the bird will lead her to the Place of Wisdom
If she asks for Cat the bird will act surprised “Oh then this is your place. Cat waits for you where the sea swallows the sun noble questor. May your claws be sharp and your pads be silent.”

The Challenge of Power – The bird leads her miles to the south, the trees thin out and a savannah stretches out before her, endless “This is as far as I can take you” says the bird, “Elephant will lead you from here.” From behind a small bush Elephant strides, massive and mighty “I can take you to the Place of Power but you will owe me a boon of equal value.”
The journey across the plain is populated by things drawn to power: lesser horror spawned monsters and various other magical threats mostly. Passage without the spirit aid will be harrowing and scarring but manageable if she is resolute and cunning. Things unable to cross all the way to the world will promise power, immortality, riches, for just a little help but will be to desperate to conceal their hunger or their evil.
With Elephant - Across the savannah they thunder great packs of scavengers of strange and irrational shapes and shadows scatter at Elephants approach and chase and harass has they pass by. Arriving at the Place of Power, a tower of iron and bone Elephant places her down, exhausted he huffs out “Remember our deal, I shall not forget.” And with that Elephant collapses into a pile of ancient bones. Ancient door, scarred with sand and claws loom high before her – Charisma (Strength) test to push them open. Inside the tower are spiral stairs disappear in the gloom above. An age passes climbing to the top. Willpower test to carry on. At the top of the tower is a raging storm, lightning and high winds rake the tower. A hermetic circle is etched on the towers roof. Standing in it she can feel the storms rage and might. It can be commanded – Learn Invoking or Shielding (possibly others) depending on her actions with this power. Adlib planned here, this is route is deliberately relatively easy, for future temptation.

The Challenge of Wisdom – The Bird leads her miles to the north. Trees thin out and the air grows cold, snow falls gently. She comes to the edge of the Tundra and it stretches out endless “This is as far as I can take you, Bear can take you from here.” Bear rises from the snow he is seemingly formed of it but the heat radiates from him, comforting, soothing. “I can take you to the place of wisdom but there is a price. You must set aside time within the year to heal and help others with the time you have free from your duties to home and hearth until the moon grows light and then dark twice.”
She cannot make this journey un-aided she freezes to “death” in short order, waking in her apartment, exhausted and starving several days later. She can try again once she has recovered
Bear carries her across frozen plains, up glaziers and past circles of dancers who look human at first glance, trees at the second and a swaying rhythmic wind spout the third. The wind is biting, lethally cold but Bear is warm. After a time she comes to a circle of 5 Inuksuk and a space for a sixth around a banked fire. Twigs and branches lie on the ground nearby. Bear looks into her eyes sadly, “Remember our bargain, for I shall remember and my rage is mighty when roused by treachery. When you are ready to fulfill you promise, seek the Bear Two Claws of the Island in the City.” A gust of wind blows Bear back into snow that washes over her and it is suddenly very, very cold. Sitting in the empty spot she can see that the crude gathering of rocks are not so, they are a circle of men all indistinct save one. To her left is a child of perhaps 6 years he holds a parka suit out to her “It is cold, you should not be dressed so. Take these they will keep you warm.” – The Parka will not fit over her clothes no matter what she tries, the men are indifferent to her requests for privacy and the cold goes from dangerously uncomfortable to lethal in a short period of time.
-If she refuses to change the second in the circle a young man of perhaps 16 years scoffs turns to the rest “Ha, she does not even see a child’s wisdom, we cannot teach what does not learn.” Turning to her, “Leave, the way has been made for you for we are not cruel.” – She at this time can return from the quest, having failed and will be barred by the Guardian until she discharges her debt to Bear.
-Changing, the child seems pleased and nods towards the fire. The second in the circle a young man of perhaps 18 years turns to the rest “She can see a child’s wisdom but that is no test. I challenge you to follow me into the snow to wrestle with the great snow beast. If we slay it legends will be told of us until the end of all things.” If asked for a description of the beast “Huge, with a skin of snow, bones of iron and claws of ice. It can be bested by piercing its heart with flame and see, we have fire. It cannot prevail”
The correct response is to decline the challenge (with perhaps some sort of adlibbed bonus if she figures out “someway” to actually kill the thing or talks the youth out of this folly). Leaving the fire with the youth leads deep into undifferentiated white and clawing cold, quickly growing lost she awakens in her home, chilled to the bone and heavily fatigued – quest failed, she will be dismissed by the Guardian of the Threshold an cannot initiate until she fulfills her promise to Bear.
If she declines the challenge as foolhardy the third speaks up, a middle aged man. “So you have yielded to a child’s wisdom and rejected the foolishness of youth. Good, I think that is enough for today.” The 4 Inuksuk flanking them both revert to stone figures. “So what are you here to learn?” This spirit guide can teach any of the less “overt” metamagics. At this point and forward she has “succeeded”.
If she insists the challenge is not finished, she has not been tested enough he will council patience, there is always tomorrow. As she stands adamant that there must be more to learn the 4th, an elderly figure begins to chuckle “So impatient, so fiery. It is a pity I forgot its use when I was his age, always counselling patience. Now the days grow short, my strength has fled me and all I can do is look back and try, however futily to show people what folly is. There is nothing left to do and nothing left to learn and they are all fools.” The correct reply is to point out the wisdom in each of the others, the simple logical reaction of the child, the desire for action of the youth, the tempered wisdom of the middle aged man and the use of gathered wisdom. Even if she does not bring this up the old man can teach any metamagic technique she qualifies for.
When she gives the “correct” reply or a reasonably good variation of it, all intone at once “This is the beginning of wisdom, do not forget.” All revert to stone save the last to her right, here sits a skeleton which falls forward into the fire, flame engulfs the remains and roars. In this case she receives a vision. There is blood everywhere she walks and it splashes under her feet. She can see the silhouette of a man she knows, robed with the sleeves trailing tatters he raises a knife over a prone figure with her fathers face, he is crying, the knife plunges down and she catches a glimpse of the robed mans face but can only remember the tattoos, Aztec designs of Couatal, men with knives and sun discs. This is foreshadowing and a warning of a major plat arc I have planned, she has already met the Aztec blood mage in question (so has he father under different circumstances), knows he is evil, and she and the team let him live for reasons of convenience, a.k.a. they were terrified out of their pants by him.

The Way of Cat – The Challenge of Predator - The bird leaves once it has wished her luck. She will need to go west, though this is not directly obvious she will know which way it is and be able to go that way though dense jungle (I may have to hint drop here with another random spirit guide... maybe a sloth, but what’s a body to do). As she goes to the west the sun sets and she gets to the shore of a vast ocean just in time to watch the sea rise up in a great swell and devour the sun, there are teeth in the sea and blood on the sky. With this the world quickly goes dark and she can hear the silence behind her. Turning there is nothing there save darkness and the glint of two reflective eyes at the edge of the trees. She blinks and she is looking out at the sea again, only now it is nearly light as day and you can smell something delightful on the air, something that can run from her. Without thought she rises on four legs and pads into the forest. Here there is a series of Logic, intuition, Willpower, Stealth tests and role-playing as she stalks and chases down prey. Failure conditions: not engaging in the hunt, repeated failure on hunting, letting her prey live or flee. Each of these end with “You are not learning the lesson I wish to teach you.” with her waking at home, ravenous, quest failed, she can try again but Cat will not help her for this grade. Once she has downed the small gazelle like creature Cat is pleased. “Remember no matter how fun the chase, how fascinating the prey is, the hunt has but one final goal, the kill. Be the best predator you can be. Anything less shames us both.” She wakes, content, warm and strangely full, a quiet scratching noise at the window. A stray kitten wants in from the rain. (How she reacts to this is in fact completely irrelevant to the astral quest, but I look forward to the problems that may arise (We can’t go to Tir Na Nog for a month, who will watch Godzilla while we’re gone? The good kennels do background checks and have you SEEN what they charge!))
-   I’m running the “Help from Cat” this way as the player seems to be getting the impression that the will+cha(3) test to use incapacitating force leaves her passive, an illusionist and trickster, and that is not what she or I were initially visualising or I had planned to roll with (this may over time result in this being swapped out for some comparable totem restriction, time will tell).

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: April 23, 2009, 06:45:22 AM by Kaos_Konfety »
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Re: Astral quest question/ scenario
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2009, 05:06:34 AM »

A bit more scripted than I'd usually do it, but looks good.

Very good actually.
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Kaos_Konfety

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Re: Astral quest question/ scenario
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2009, 07:46:30 AM »

I similarly perfer to keep things "fast and loose" when roleplaying the Netherworld desents into madness - I mean "metaplanes questing". But its kinda hard to ask for a critique of my improv of anyone who isn't present...
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Re: Astral quest question/ scenario
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2009, 01:42:21 PM »

true, and this is scripted enough to describe and to help you keep the thread, while being loose enough to leave you with a lot of fly-by

I like it.
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