Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cave of Secrets: The Sons of the Saga (WtA)

I hope everyone's been enjoying their summer so far. Mine's had alternating periods of boring nothingness where time flew by and some life-changing insanity. Much of the latter (combined with preparations for the summer convention season) has happened within the last couple of weeks, which is why I haven't found a good time to bang out this Werewolf write-up before now.

So part of this most recent session was taken up establishing that the newly-formed pack bonded over a month or so of downtime, partially during the sept-wide operation to clean the Gray Masses out of the swamp. Åke got to know the Simmons kinfolk family a little better, Claudiu and Jerry better integrated themselves with the Cranberry Glades Sept, as they are still both pretty new to this community. We also settled on a name for the pack: The Sons of the Saga. They still have yet to sort out who's going to be in charge.

I probably could have devoted a session to playing all of this stuff out, but I made the judgement call to start getting the plot started. Whether or not the chronicle is going to be focused entirely on this story is yet to be seen, but the resolution of this first big plot is going to set the background for everything else that's going to happen.

So we moved ahead to late August, 2011.

On August 23rd, 2011, an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter Scale shook up much of the East Coast. (I actually distinctly remember the quake, myself. I was at my brother's house and it felt like standing on a bridge and having an 18-wheeler go blowing past hard enough to shake everything.)

That night, all of the Garou at the sept had some version of the same dream: They saw a young bear standing walk into a cave, making its way through passages and tunnels and caverns. Over the course of its trek, the bear grew older and visibly aged. It eventually reached a chamber, open to the night sky, as it became massively large and immeasurably old. Then it curled up in the cavern, went to sleep, and apparently became one with the stone floor of the chamber. Different Garou had different interpretations of the dream; in some dreams, it was a black bear. In others, it was a brown bear. Just as often, it was indeterminate. Some people saw themselves being chased by the bear into the cave. And so on. The dream seems to have been limited to just the Garou; none of the local Kinfolk experienced it.

The Sons of the Saga got together and Jerry said he could probably figure out where that cave was based on the stars visible through the chamber's open ceiling, with some math and some star maps. His attempts at analyzing and interpreting the dream suggested that the bear was clearly meant to represent the Gurahl (or at least a Gurahl) in some way. That possibility greatly concerned him, though, as he mentally files 'Gurahl stuff' under his internal list of 'things we absolutely shouldn't fuck with unless we absolutely have to.'

As the pack took this as a sign of something they should look into, Claudiu decided to split the pack in half. Jerry and Berry were assigned the task of getting to the nearby nature center and its friendly Kinfolk employees to use their Internet connection.[0] Claudiu and Åke stepped sideways to consult the spirits around the caern.

Claudiu and Åke found that something was agitating the local spirits. They were told that 'the cave is awake.' They weren't sure what they meant, but they knew it was important. The Shadow Lord and Get were given a rough direction on what the source of the disturbance was. They found one of the more prominent spirits around the Cranberry Glades Sept, a spirit of the nearby swamp known as 'The Warden'[1] and left a message to pass along to Jerry and Berry when they returned. The message consisted the direction they were headed in, and that Claudiu and Åke were approaching the site from the Umbra and they wanted the other two to approach from the physical world, just in case.

Jerry and Berry got to the nature center, got on the 'spider-box' (as Jerry liked to describe it), and looked up some stuff on local cave systems and star charts. They were able to narrow down the location of the cave with the star charts, and discovered that around that area were some unexplored caves -- and in fact, there was a lot of undocumented stuff in a small radius in that area. Lost of people wandering into the area tend to vanish, or become disoriented and finding themselves outside the area. They returned to the caern and the Warden passed along the message. Their packmates were in fact headed in the direction of this mysterious whatever-it-is that's out there. Apparently a special cave of some sort.

Before they took off, they had a conversation with the sept alpha, an Athro[2] metis Child of Gaia named Build this Wall, both due to his skill with constructing defensive barriers and his thick, hairless, rhino hide-like skin. They updated him on what they'd learned and he warned them to be careful. The sept had tried contacting the other local septs via the ham radio and everyone had had strange dreams of some sort. A couple of septs hadn't responded, either. Some packs were going to be sent out to try and find the source as well, but something big was going on and everyone should be very careful.

Back in the Umbra, a ways 'ahead' travel-wise, Claudiu and Åke with their totem's avatar in tow manage to flag down a bear-spirit because they figure it might know something a little more specific. It indeed warns them again that 'the cave is awakening,' and that it's been calling to Garou... and others. When pressed for details, it warned them that there were Fera and 'Wyrm-men' in the woods as well...

At which point we cut back to Jerry and Berry, in Lupus form, tearing across the hills and through the woods. The two halves of the pack aren't quite on top of each other, but they're roughly in the same area because Claudiu and Åke have been searching the woods for signs of anything going on while Jerry and Berry have been making a beeline straight for the target area. But as they approach, Jerry reaches out with his more spiritual senses (in other words, Primal-Urge) to see if he can get a vibe on where they're headed. He does pick up something else, just over the next hill.

He and Berry climb up and look down, and spot a hiker making his way through the woods in the direction they're headed. Just to see what he does, Jerry lets out a howl that echoes through the hills, and the guy immediately reaches into his backpack and pulls out a gun in a near-panic. And when the backpack opens, both of the Garou get a whiff of blood on the breeze blowing in their direction. Jerry heads closer in Lupus form, trying to sneak up on him, but the guy gets a glimpse of him and fires a shot at the shape moving through the trees.

At this point Berry, shifting to Homid, catches up with the guy and pretends to be a lost hiker separated from his friends to calm him down. He uses Persuasion to try and take the edge off the guy's panic, and manages to find out that his name is Dan and he felt the urge to come out here. Berry talks Dan into letting him come along and maybe they will find his friends together.

Jerry gets impatient and tries to blindside Dan to get at that backpack and find out what's in there. He botches his roll to surprise him, though, and Dan takes another shot at him while screaming "They found me!" at the top of his lungs. He misses, but the bullet comes close enough that Jerry can make out that it's a silver bullet. At that point, the gloves come off and he shifts to Crinos to tackle him to the ground. Dan's backpack goes flying and Berry yanks it open. In the moment, all he finds is some nutrition bars, bottled water, and a bloody gun holster. While Dan and Jerry struggle, Dan's gun goes off and a silver bullet rips through Jerry. But he manages to keep it together, largely due to the fact that it's a crescent moon and so the difficulty on the Frenzy check is pretty high.

At this point Jerry puts a claw to Dan's throat just as Berry draws his own gun and puts it to the man's head and they manage to intimidate him into standing down. They try to figure out where he came from, but all he'll tell them is that he had the urge to come out there. A couple of their questions that stood out:

Where did he get the gun? He beat up a security guard on the way out and took it. A security guard who would have reason to carry silver bullets.

Why did he say 'they found me' when he saw Jerry coming at him? He thought they were someone else. He wouldn't explain further.

Who did he work for?

Well, the response there was... interesting. He just got this look of panic in his eyes, and then Jerry felt a presence try to force its way into his mind just as Dan suddenly developed a nosebleed. Thinking that Dan had to be responsible for what was clearly some sort of supernatural attack, Jerry executed him.

Meanwhile, back in the Umbra, Black Unicorn got a vibe of something going on nearby just when either Claudiu or Åke did (I'm blanking on which, could have been both of them) with Primal-Urge. He was pretty sure the rest of the pack was there, and wanted to check it out, and that's about where we left off.

Anyhow, with that, I just want to reiterate that this coming weekend I'm going to be at Anthrocon in Pittsburgh, PA and then at the end of this month/start of the next I'll be at Gencon, in Indianapolis. If you see me there and recognize me, feel free to say hi!

[0]-- This is because above and beyond the fact that while a Garou sept run by anyone but Glass Walkers is going to be a little twitchy about such things anyways, the Cranberry Glades Sept is in a part of the country where wireless signals are heavily regulated and monitored because of potential interference with the nearby radio telescope. So smartphones are a no-no, though ham radio is okay.
[1]-- The nearby area was once home to a minimum-security federal prison called Mill Point Federal Prison. Perhaps because of the influence of the Caern of Healing in the Glades, the prison was one that focused more on rehabilitation and preserving the inmates' dignity. The prison didn't even have any high fences, just a 'please don't go past this line' sign in a few places. On rare occasions someone would try to escape, realize they were in the middle of the woods and had no idea what they were doing, and just turn back.
[2]-- Rank 4 Garou.

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