Monday, June 15, 2015

Cave of Secrets: Session 'Zero'

So this is a little overdue, but my gaming schedule's still coming back from a bit of a forced hiatus so I'm not too far behind. But Friday before last, my tabletop group got together and finished up characters for the Werewolf: The Apocalypse chronicle we're starting. We also got a bit of playing in, as my group wanted to start off as established as knowing each other beforehand, but are still formally forming a pack. So we decided to play through them undergoing a challenge from a prospective totem. But I'm getting ahead of myself.





(By the way, if you don't follow Werewolf: The Apocalypse or are somewhat lapsed and need some clarification on what something means or how it works, feel free to ask.)

The game is starting right at the end of July, 2011, for reasons that will become clear in a future post. Things start off at the Cranberry Glades Sept in Pocahontas County, WV, a place that's out in the sticks even by West Virginia standards. The sept itself is mostly Children of Gaia-run and built around a Caern of Healing. The lineup of werewolves we're going to have in this pack is:


  • Claudiu Gilca, homid Shadow Lord Theurge, played by Sean -- Claudiu comes from a small community of Roma (many of whom are Kinfolk) who have settled in the hills of southern West Virginia, descendants of Roma who left Romania in the late 1800's after being freed from slavery. He's a little older than most low-ranking Garou, mostly because he had his First Change a little older and because upon finding out who he was he rejected the Garou Nation and his tribe to focus on protecting his people. After some years of Ronin-hood, the spirits recently came to him and convinced him to contact his Garou relatives and take the Shadow Lord Rite of Passage, for some reason they wouldn't explain. So he did so and started spending more time around the nearest sept -- Cranberry Glades.
  • Berry Appeldorn, homid Child of Gaia Philodox, played by Bryan (who, while recently a part of my Vampire game, is just now fully joining my Friday gaming group) -- For a Philodox, Berry's got a bit of an angry streak. Before his First Change, he was something of an activist and occasional eco-terrorist. Nowadays he tries to strike more of a balance, trying to be a calm healer as much as an active beater of ass for Gaia. He's often mistaken for being the laid-back hippie type, but it's mostly because he's a good listener. But when the time comes to act, he doesn't hesitate or hold back.
  • Åke Jukkason, homid Get of Fenris Galliard, played by John -- Åke is your pretty traditional Get of Fenris skald, the warrior-bard who wants to be a part of and then later tell epic tales. He has a lot of pressure on him from having a particularly high Pure Breed, and spends his spare time as the singer in a local metal band.
  • Jerry Lyn, metis Stargazer Ahroun, played by Zac -- Jerry's a half-Chinese, modern expression of the 'wandering warrior monk' stereotype. His wanderings have taken him to the Cranberry Glades Sept because he's been training with a Stargazer who spends time around the Green Bank radio telescope in the region. He has a third eye on his forehead and even for a Stargazer an obsession with maintaining balance.


A couple of things to note:
Our group is indeed mostly homids. Sean and John had concepts and backstories that fit a homid better, and this is Bryan's first WtA game and we all agreed that when in doubt, go with a homid for your first character.
Also, none of these Garou have deed names. This is basically because everybody wanted to earn theirs in-game but we wanted to jump into things without having to run everyone's Rites of Passage. For similar reasons, there is no pack name yet.
For those of you who follow my Twitter and/or Google+ feeds, you may recognize Bryan and Zac as the friends of mine who got married back in March and had their reception last month. Among the photos you can also see John, the bearded guy in the light blue shirt. Sean, being some sort of supernatural creature that doesn't photograph well, doesn't appear in any of those pictures.

So the group wanted to be a recently-established pack. We worked out among ourselves that they first worked together when Berry went to the sept looking for someone to help him run off a surveying team poking around the wilderness with a bunch of Endron Oil logos on their equipment. By all accounts, they were ostensibly government surveyors but given that at the very least they were being supplied by Endron they decided better safe than sorry and scared them off for now.

But following that encounter, they'd decided that they all needed to join up with a pack and worked well enough together that they wanted to form their own. After some debate, they sought out one of the sept elders to basically put in a word for them with Black Unicorn, a spirit of war who focuses on defending the helpless. So after some time, an avatar of the totem came to them with a challenge to earn his favor: Protect the Simmons family, a local family of Bone Gnawer Kinfolk, from an 'incoming poison.' (I wanted something relatively simple, as we were a little short on time and this was more of a not-quite-prelude than a full adventure.)

The Simmons family estate is on the edge of the Glades themselves, a mostly self-sufficient little homestead that they supplement with repaired junk and stuff they sell to travelers and tourists.  The Simmonses themselves didn't know of any imminent threats, so the pack split up (Berry and Jerry in one group, and Claudiu and Åke in the other) and started searching the local countryside and swamp in Lupus form.

Berry and Jerry were the first to locate a sign of the trouble -- a particularly nasty patch of fungus on one of the wooden walkways that serve as hiking trails through the Glades, with more fungus in what appeared to be footprints trailing off in one direction or another. Jerry managed to get an idea of which direction the source of it went, but also smelled something worse in the other. He and Berry split up -- Jerry went chasing after the creature, howling to get the others' attention while Berry went to follow up on whatever it was that the source of the fungus had left in its wake.

Berry followed the trail back and found more of the fungus around a jeep belonging to the nearby nature center (which has a few CoG Kinfolk working for it), with two rangers in it. One was beaten unconscious, the other had been outright killed. Both were covered in the fungus. He made sure the unconscious one was stable, and tried to see if a Rite of Cleansing would take the edge off the fungus, since they didn't know if it was Wyrm-tainted at all (nobody in the pack took Sense Wyrm). Then he went back to taking care of the wounded ranger.

Meanwhile, Jerry followed the trail of who or whatever was tainting the swampland with the fungus, and found a man hiking overland. His skin was slick and an unhealthy gray color. In bad light he could have passed for a normal human, but he was too far gone and clearly dangerous. Claudiu and Åke caught up, coming the other direction, at about the same time, and we had ourselves a good old-fashioned werewolf-on-fomor beatdown. Complete with a disgusting biological explosion at the end. (Fortunately, everybody was able to resist being infected)

After that, they booked it back to the sept to start gathering help in keeping the fungus from spreading. Also, they've managed to earn Black Unicorn's favor and he's now sponsoring their pack.

And that's where we left off. Because of circumstances, it'll be next week before we'll be able to play again, but at that point we should be able to get into the real meat of the story I have planned. See you then!

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