Saturday, October 8, 2016

Cave of Secrets: To The Books (WtA)

Okay, so this is slightly behind, but at least it's before the next gaming session.We played Werewolf last week, and thus here is the write-up. (Also, side-note, I've been setting these up to post in the afternoons where it might be easier for people to notice it. Does that help? Let me know.)

Picking up where we left off, the pack was headed back to the sept with the papers and guns and such that they swiped from Andy Stump's house. Åke wants to make plans to have someone stake out the house, but Jerry makes it clear he doesn't want anyone to be caught out alone right now. Their pack is currently at three people, the BSDs and whatever Stump Kin are still in the area are going to be gunning for them. It's just not a good time.

The sept is bustling with activity when the pack returns. After the fight with the Stumps in town, everyone's shoring up defenses and bringing their own Kinfolk into the sept to keep them safe. Lots of people are setting up tents, expanding the handful of existing structures they've put together, that sort of thing. While Jerry and Wants-to-Know find some space in the cave to go over the materials they found, Åke goes to track down Raptor's Strike for another of those awkward conversations he's always so eager to have with the Sons of the Saga. Åke finds him working something out with another Garou as Walter Foss waits for his turn to have a moment. Walter explains that he's being forcibly relocated to the sept and he's not happy about it. When Strike gets free, Walter lets him go first because he didn't know how long he was going to be.

So Åke just asks if they can have a word later on some new developments, and what he should do with the guns he found because he'd rather donate them for sept defense. Strike agrees to meet with the pack at the cave in a bit once he takes care of a few things. The sudden influx of Kinfolk combined with what happened in town has made things a little crazy (he makes an off-hand comment that there are rumors flying around regarding the sudden departure of Claudiu's Kin) so he has some stuff to take care of. He also suggests dropping off the guns with someone from the Edge of the Firelight pack, as Aedan Thorne is handling security at the moment. He directs him to the shack they're using as an armory. On the way, Åke tries to eavesdrop on people talking to find out what these rumors are, and the gist of it is that some of the Kinfolk are concerned that Claudiu's Kin are going to get some sort of blame for the Stump Massacre. Depending on who you talk to, either the local authorities will assume they're involved because of their sudden departure, or someone from the sept will plant the idea in the locals' minds to deflect attention. At least, that's what the rumors are saying.

Meanwhile, back at the cave, Jerry and Wants-to-Know are going through the journals and notes they found in the trunk in Andy's attic. Some of the material is over a century old, and some of it is clearly written either by Garou or Kinfolk who were in the know. Åke catches back up while they're sorting through it, and some specific themes come out. About half of the papers are legends about the hill holding the Cave of Secrets, referring to disappearances and old legends and stuff. A few months ago, before the earthquake opened up the Cave, this is stuff that would have been absolutely instrumental to hypothetically finding it.

They also find a stack of papers written by one author, identified only by the initials 'FS' in the corner of the pages, talking about the spiritual well-being of the town and hypothetically using the railroad to increase the spiritual power in the town to 'benefit the Lion.' The papers, assumed to belong to Florence Slavin, make references to the locations that Andy marked on the map (by archaic names, but even still).

Most of the rest of the material is stuff about local spirit activity, and legends about what is in the Cave. Some of the material references old Garou and other shapeshifter myths about the Cave that filtered into local Native American myth. A common thread is discussion of an old ritual that allows 'all of the animals to dance together.' Like, not dancing the Spiral, but dancing in harmony. A journal discussing the myths contains speculation that this could be a ritual allowing for packs consisting of multiple Changing Breeds (very much like similar rites used by the Beast Courts and the Ahadi).

Åke is absolutely buzzing over the news of the ritual, to the point of obsession. Wants-to-Know isn't sure what to think, because like most Garou he's had very little contact with other shifters. Jerry, however, tries to get Åke to temper his enthusiasm with the fact that there are a lot of conservative Garou that wouldn't be entirely cool about such a ritual existing. He knows that in his tribe's homeland (which, he discovers he has to explain to Åke, isn't California or Oregon[0]) such things are a little more accepted because of the existence of the Beast Courts. But even today, a lot of Garou are still pretty sure they won the War of Rage because they were on the right side.[1] But his point is that this could cause a huge mess if word gets out about it before they know all the details, so he wants this kept between them.

Åke wants to ask the cave a few questions about this, but Deborah is currently at home packing a bag to stay at the sept for a bit and thus unavailable. But Raptor's Strike is now available to talk. The pack fills him on what they found at the house and their encounter with Andy's sister. (They leave out the fucked-up torture-y bits.) Åke suspects that the papers from Florence are tied in to the railroad spike they found in the Lodge building, that there could be more around town. And then he starts talking about the ritual.

Jerry immediately cuts him off, as apparently there has been a misunderstanding about what Jerry meant by 'keep this between us.' As conflict brews in front of him, Strike offers to pretend he didn't hear what was said so far, take a walk for a couple of minutes, and give the pack a minute to get their stories straight. He points out that if they do want to tell him what's going on right now, he's willing to go to a private spot within the cave and keep whatever they say in confidence. And before they can respond, he wanders off.[2]

Jerry worries that Åke is too trusting, and that the possibility of Fera joining Garou packs will lead to pushback against what Fera allies they have acquired and will acquire in the future. After all, it's one thing to share a campfire with them. But knowing they could share in the blessings of Garou totems could be perceived as threatening by some. But after a couple of minutes, Strike comes back and Jerry agrees that they can tell him. So they lead him deeper into the cave and he swears on his word that anything they say will be kept in the strictest of confidence. They give him the run-down about what they know/suspect about the ritual, and he's a little mind-blown. He appreciates that they've come to him about this and reiterates what Jerry has already said: this abso-fucking-lutely needs to be kept quiet. Nobody else can know, aside from Deborah since learning more about the ritual will require her help. They eagerly agree to that. Strike thanks them for their trust and repeats that this needs to be kept quiet, then he takes his leave.

As soon as he's gone they get into an argument about whether 'keep this between us' meant 'just within the pack, 'or 'the pack and a few trusted compatriots.' Jerry, obviously, meant the former. Åke thought he meant the latter, and that as an authority figure who has yet to appear to be an asshole Strike is obviously someone who can be trusted with such secrets. Wants-to-Know thinks that it's a bad idea to say anything to anyone before they can even confirm that this ritual exists. Regardless, after some talking around the subject, they come to the agreement that Jerry as the alpha is the final word on whether anyone in the pack can say anything to anyone outside the pack about it.

That said, Åke wants to still try to figure out more from the ritual from the materials they have. Jerry thinks that finding out about this ritual at all is a coincidence and is pretty minor compared to current concerns involving BSDs or Stumps. He also wants to know just why Åke is obsessed with learning more about this ritual. Åke thinks that as the Sons of the Saga were chosen by the Cave of Secrets to be its ambassadors, and as the Cave is a caern of Unity[3] finding such a ritual within its depths is the sort of mighty destiny that such ambassadors must have been chosen for. Jerry, based on Åke's exuberance, feels that there must be a more personal reason but Åke kind of deflects the question (If you're reading this, John, you really kinda did. Sorry.) and eventually this segues into a conversation about establishing a firm to-do list and setting priorities. And they more or less agree that figuring out what Andy was doing and what the Stumps want and how Florence Slavin ties into this should be the bigger deal.

But in the meantime, they decide to take a brief IC break. It's been a long day, what with the slaughter and Claudiu leaving and the torture and ransacking Andy Stump's house and all that. (Seriously, though, this is the fourth session it's taken to get through this one particular day.) Jerry finds where a bit of underground river runs through the cave and makes a little waterfall and meditates under it. Wants-to-Know and Åke go out and hunt up some local game to bring some food back for the people now staying at the sept.

By the time they get back from this, Deb has returned from town. Hooray!

A lot has happened since they've last really spoken to her (this is her first 'on-screen' appearance since the time jump following the Lodge incident). She knows about the Stump Massacre already, but the revelation that Andy Stump was a werewolf is kind of a blow because she knew him and honestly never suspected he was anything more than a womanizer and mediocre musician. She's been compartmentalizing her 'home life' and 'cave life' and this is the first real overlap she's encountered.

Once she's had a moment to absorb everything, she says she's good to contact the Cave if they need her to. So they ask her to find out what she can about Florence Slavin. She receives a vision of a girl with red hair and green eyes on a hill overlooking the town, sketching out architectural drawings and a map of the town. Next to her is a sack full of railroad spikes. Deb also gets the feeling that Florence was Kinfolk, but also that she was special in some way, that she 'smells like magic.' There is some brief speculation that Deborah might be a reincarnation of some sort, or that Florence might have been some historical counterpart to the role that Deb plays now. She can also see a tattoo on Florence's arm that from a brief description is clearly the Iron Rider tribal glyph.

She also gets a vibe that whatever Florence had planned was meant to bring spiritual power to the town, possibly something that could enhance the local spirits, or make things more powerful for the Garou (or even just the Iron Riders), or even empower this train-thing that she's seeing in her vision. (Said 'train-thing' being the Stourbridge Lion, the Iron Riders' tribal totem.) Given that this would have been the later days of the Iron Riders as the dominant camp within the Glass Walkers, the last option is an intriguing possibility.

We paused there, mid-scene, as it was getting late in the evening and the players were physically tired so we left off until next time.

[0]-- Just for the record, this might have been more of an out of character mistake than in-character one.
[1]-- Ironically, the Shattered Dreams PDF went to Kickstarter backers the following Wednesday after this particular session.
[2]-- I actually set a timer at this point with how long he'd be gone -- about four minutes, two minutes walking away and two minutes walking back -- and let the pack argue it out during that time.
[3]-- It's actually not one of those, it's just a caern that was particularly friendly to mixed groups of shapeshifters once upon a time and remains so. But interrupting the scene to point that out would have been rude and probably just would have extended the in-character argument.

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