Feral (dacnomaniac) wrote in garou_nation,

"Sleeping Legends" Session Writeup 01 (garou_nation, wta_lj)

I decided it would be good ST practice to write up each session afterward, to review it in my head and to get input from others on how to run things better.

This is the first two sessions of 'Sleeping Legends'. If you saw my post about a chronicle involving a prophecy, legendary fetishes, two lupus being born in the same litter with different auspices, et cetera, this is that story. I hope to add more players sometime, but right now it's a one-on-one game between myself and my partner lover_of_anime. It's only his second Werewolf game ever and the first one he's played offline. He's been running a metis Stargazer Galliard loosely modeled off himself in an online game and doing very well, but this is his first attempt to step into a similar yet separate personality.

I opened the game with Moon Face (named for his grayish-white mask marking; Theurge, my character) and Shadow-Touch (Mitch's Ragabash) as un-Changed cubs, about two years old but still in their birth "pack". Only in this case, their "pack" consists of one Kin wolf, their mother, and their Garou sire, who (unbeknownst to them right now) holds the official Sept position of Kin-Guardian and is responsible for their welfare above and beyond his own personal interest in them.

They are set in the Coastal California Crater Caern, a place where a small asteroid struck the earth somewhere in the temperate rainforest covering the mountains of the coast. The crater is the center of the caern. Highway One runs right outside the edge of the bawn for a few hundred yards before curving away down the coast, which means that, while it's mostly relatively unspoiled wilderness, Nasty Things sometimes sneak in and local spirits occasionally become corrupted, Usually the Sept is on top of it, but this time...

The pack awoke and, as coastal wolves often do, headed down to the shore to see if any food had washed up on the beach. (Squid, dead fish, even jellyfish are all consumed by coastal wolves when they wash onto shore.) As the two pups gamboled together down to the water, they began sniffing amongst the rocks, looking for crabs and such. Then they ran across a strange, smooth rock, which they had never noticed before. It stank strangely of rotten fish, in a way that was unpleasant -- a bizarre, alien sensation to the two wolf cubs. Then, suddenly, it rose up, and revealed itself to be a hideous bipedal monster, smooth and shelled and horrible. The young wolves were overwhelmed by its wrongness, and then the First Change hit both of them. They frenzied and leapt as one onto the beast, tearing it to pieces. Meanwhile, however, their Kinfolk mother bolted away in terror.

(Normally I would have required more provocation, but their Firsting was prophecied to happen "when the false one is discovered".)

When they came back to themselves a little bit later, they were still in Crinos form, now wobbly and confused, mentally and physically overwhelmed. They knew that they would one day Change, but nothing could prepare them for that. Ice Eyes, meanwhile, is worried about the presence of the Fomori, impressed by their response (in accordance with the prophecy, as usual with these two; he is a Galliard and the most fervent believer in their being the true incarnation of the relevant prophecies, starting with their unusual birth and markings -- see last post) but also worried about his mate. She is Wolf-kin and precious even if they weren't mated. So he activates his Wyrm Scar and, since he senses only a faint tingle which seems to be from the fomori corpse (I use different rules for Wyrm Scars than in H&K) he took them back up the trail away from the beach a little ways, then told them they were going to go to the sept, but he had to find their mother first; so stay put. He then took off to look for the Kin wolf, using a Kinship Doll.

And didn't come back. And didn't come back. The sun sank below the horizon, and the waxing crescent moon rose. The new-Changed Garou began to get anxious. Moon Face nudged his brother and asked if they should keep moving, try to find the sept. Shadow-Touch considered it, then decided that the Alpha's will should not be disobeyed.

That was the end of the first session. Today we picked up at the same place, still waiting. As they waited, growing ever-more uncertain and confused, the forest night grew darker and time stretched out longer. Then, they heard sounds in the brush, followed by an adult wolf emerging. His coat was salt-and-peppered, his body language was dominant but friendly, and he carried himself like a non-alpha-but-higher-ranked member of their pack. When he began asking about their First Change, they assumed he was from the sept and talked with him a lot (by Lupus standards; only a few words were exchanged.) After complimenting them on their fine response to the Fomor -- "Maybe you really are it after all" -- he asked if they had ever been to the spirit world. Moon Face answered that they had heard stories, and that he been introduced to a Materialized hawk-spirit, but nothing else. The other Garou nodded wisely and said, "Well, as long as Ice Eyes-yuf is off looking for your mother, I'll do him a favor and take care of that part of your introduction to Garou life."

Here Shadow-Touch began to get a little suspicious, or else he just didn't want to defy the Alpha. He asked, "Is it really my time to go there?" The strange wolf (who never introduced himself) paused, then said, "Look to the sky. What do you see?" Moon Face said, "My moon. Crescent moon." The strange wolf nodded approvingly. "So he's taught you about auspices. Good. So you know the crescent moon is Luna's sign of the spirit world. And the moon-sign under which you Change can be as important as that under which you're born. What better night could there be? Come now, let's go," he finished, standing up suddenly, his body language becoming that of the one-in-charge. The cubs hesitated a moment, but since they smelled and sensed nothing but the forest all around them and another wolf, they went with him.

He took them down a deer trail to a nearby pool they often drank from. Its source is a rain-fed spring at the very bottom of the water-filled hollow, so the water is pure, but the surface is often glassily still and reflective. Here, the wolf asked them if they knew about Stepping Sideways, then taught them how to do it.

Both rolled fairly well (2 and 3 successes) and crossed over with relative ease, considering. Again, the other wolf complimented them and remarked upon their "maybe really being the oens after all". They asked him what he meant by that, and he said, "Oh, he hasn't told you? You'll hear about that soon enough. Now, focus. This is your first time in the spirit world. What happens now is very important. Close your eyes. Concentrate on your nose and your ears. What do you sense?"

I really played up the beauty and glory of the spirit world, how everything seemed bigger and more vivid, how even their wolf-eyes could see color despite it being night, how Luna's light gleamed silverly, the opalescent glimmer of the pond. Then I described a slow change. It began with a strange, unidentifiable but nervous-making smell. They opened their eyes, and noticed that it was getting hazier -- and that the other wolf was gone. It gradually became foggier, and they began to lose sight of the trees, the sky, everything. Very shortly they became lost in thick, roiling fog. They could neither see nor smell each other clearly despite being only a couple of feet apart.

Moon Face and Shadow-Touch decided simultaneously that it was time to try to get away. So they ran off through the fog. It turned darker, marbling and boiling with sickly unnatural hues, and I described ghostly, surreal, vaguely symbolic images of violence and torment manifesting in the eddies and whorls before roiling out of existence again. Basically, they were under attack by a corrupted fog-spirit.

They didn't know exactly what was happening, but they knew it was bad, especially when the ugly fog began briefly manifesting mocking faces amongst the other images, and they began to hear gibbering, insane laughter, chattering, muttering, screaming, et cetera, rather than the pleasant, unintelligible but nonthreatening whispers and murmurs they'd been able to vaguely pick up before.

Realizing they couldn't escape by running, Shadow-Touch stopped them and decided they should try to shapeshift. Neither of them really knew what to shapeshift into or what their options were; I decided that their number of successes on the shapeshift roll would determine what form they ended up in. Luckily for them, they both rolled 3, thus ending up in Crinos. Unused to standing on two legs, they dropped to all fours to maintain balance. Moon Face, nervous, threw back his head and began to howl a Call for Succor.

It was then that the Skreeling banes attacked. They struck in ones and twos. One grabbed Moon Face's muzzle and cut off the howl while another struck. Then another one used a Blast attack from behind at Shadow-Touch, forcing him to turn around to engage it and thus separating the two of them in the ugly fog. Shadow-Touch lost sight of Moon Face for a while.

He took damage from a Blast Rusted Metal Shards attack, then barely avoided taking more, and then got angry and attacked the Thing Which Should Not Be. He made a lucky roll and I ruled he'd ripped one of its arms off, whereupon it used Disquiet on him, sacrificing too much Essence in the process. His next claw attack destroyed it. Almost immeddiately, he noticed two more heading toward him, but he turned his head to try to spot his brother, and saw him struggling with two more, one of which was on his back tearing at his neck and shoulders. Shadow-Touch turned his back on the two advancing on him to rush to his brother and try to pull the Bane off his back. His Strength roll succeeded (two tens!) and he proceeded to rip its head off, destroying it. Meanwhile, relieved of the hinderence, Moon Face killed the other one.

Now they stood back-to-back warily. I described how the ugly fog was still roiling and making its horrid cacophony, but in a more tense, subdued manner, as if tense, or waiting to see what would happen next.

Moon Face and Shadow Touch were discussing tactics for the next rush when the totally unexpected occurred. A green whip came lashing out of the fog, a Tangling Whip. They tried to dodge, but failed, and both ended up thoroughly bound. Then a Crinos walked up on all fours, holding the whip in its hand. A thin, wiry Crinos, with thick salt-and-pepper fur gone mangy in spots, a few weeping sores, and obvious ribcage with strange unnatural lumps and bulges in the abdomen area. The ears stood up tall and big like a bat's, and the face was a madman's grin. Worst, they recognized the Crinos's scent -- it was the same wolf that had lead them into the spirit world. Belatedly, they recognized subtle weirdnesses in his behavior. But now it seemed too late.

"Very impressive!" The Black Spiral Dancer nodded down at his captives in genuine approval. "I expected them to tear you pups apart. I'm seriously beginning to believe in that silly prophecy after all. You'll be a credit to the Hive. C'mon, let's get 'em moving!" The Dancer called this into the Bane-fog, as if summoning helpers.

Before the Dancer could stop him, Moon Face belted out a Call to Succor, this time able to complete it. Moments later they heard the beating of large wings, and a breeze began to blow, subtle at first but then stronger and stronger, coming in sharp bursts. The bad fog began to come apart and blow away. The Dancer snarled angrily, staring upward, crouched as if prepared for an attack. Ice Eyes came from the side instead of the front, though, in Hispo form, snarling in Rage. The Dancer got a lucky Dodge roll and shot off into the Penumbra with Ice Eyes in pursuit. Meanwhile, the two bound cubs began to make out feathered wings above them as the mist blew away, and finally a red-tailed hawk spirit landed beside them and began pecking at the binds. It had them free after a couple of minutes. They tucked their tails and put their heads down, unsure how to greet the spirit, but wanting to show respect and submission as well as gratitude. Neither spoke, even in wolf-language, other than that. It simply stared at them, tilting its head one way to the next, quizzically. Then it made a creaky sound, which they somehow found themselves understanding: "Your Rite of Passage shall be very interesting, cubs." Then the hawk flew away.

Ice Eyes returned a moment later. He stared at his sons, with Rage burning in his eyes, but he said nothing to them, and Shadow-Touch was unable to tell if he was angry at them or at something else. Finally, he growled, "Return to your birth-skin. We must go. Now."

And that's where we stopped.

It's been a bit awkward at some points since he's never played before and I haven't STed in a long time, but it's going a lot better than I expected it to and we're both having fun with it. I've been checking with him to make sure he feels like his decisions matter and like his actions impact the story, and he says he feels content with that and the game as a whole. It's very early so I'm still not certain it'll take off, but I feel optimistic. I hope I can find some other players, though...

Any thoughts, anyone? I hope you enjoyed reading, regardless. :) Next installment coming soon.
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I think keeping track of what happens in a game is a great idea. I have been doing it for my game for the last two years. You can check it out if you like (http://centralparkafterdark.ingame.org), we've had our share of prophecies and such. You might get some ideas or you just might find it a fun read.

Anyway, your story seems good so far and a good start for getting a new player used to the game. But in the end all that matters is you and your player are enjoying the game.