Monday, 28 February 2011

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost



Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 4 - Skin - part 2


Following the events at the casino the motley knew that they were closer to finding the culprit to the deaths in Venice, the victims of the Rib Killer. The next day the one after would soon prove to be even more surreal.

No matter where the members of the motley were they all were met a strange figure, who no mortal recognised the presence of. The person, perhaps a she or he, wore a black tricorn hat, a bauta mask (a full face mask with a jutting chin and no mouth, which allows the wearer to speak more easily) which was ornately adorned with gold embellishments. They also wore an equally impressive cape which concealed their figure. To each of the motley the figure presented an envelope, within which was a well written invitation to the first ball of the Court of Carnival. Each was also assigned a particular time to arrive. Intriguingly they were told to arrive as they were, that there was no need for costume or a mask.

On the evening of the ball the motley made their way to the location of the ball, the Palazzo Zenobio in the Dorsoduro district. There they each were met by two members of the White Guard, the secretive watchers and ghost hunters of the House of Winter. Each was admitted into the Palazzo on production of the invite letter.

Upon entering the motley discovered that they had in fact arrived at the same time, though they had clearly come at different times. Inside they were met with by the opulence of the palace. Before them the hall led to the French garden where the other guests were gathered. Music was playing, and wine was flowing.  The motley realized that Stitches was not present, but it was too late to call him. They also realized that they themselves were different. Even though they were in the Hedge they had no mien. Also they now wore grand masquerade masks, and that their attire was lavish and like that worn by the nobles of Venice back during the height of the Republic.

Before them stood a grim figure. In a black cloak, a black tricorn and a black bauta mask was the Volto. Flames and smoke bellowed from beneath their mask. They introduced them self as the official peacekeeper of the city, and that they may well have seen their work but not of it. The Volto then led them into the gardens. The garden was divine and twisted, with statues of alabaster which appeared to be in motion, ever watchful, and hideously beautiful.

First they met those who organise the balls of Carnival and ensure that it blends with the mortal celebrations. Both seemed adrodgynus and wore the Columbino mask, the simple half mask that displayed their enticing lips. Next they met the Larva, the opposite of the Volto. They wore the same attire, just in white, and they were presented as the official ghost hunter of the city. Next they met the Servetta Muta. She wore a revealing gown, covered in rubies shaped like tears. Her mask was a black oval, with no mouth piece. She instead had to bite onto the mask, making her mute, and thus the confessor of the city.  Then they met the Medico della Pesta, the Plague Doctor. He wore a wide brimmed  hat, and of course the traditional white beaked mask, the nose filled with spices and herbs. He explained that he  was the official doctor of the Freehold, and that he was also  the on who dealt with  the vampires of the Veneto region, in particular those on the coast of the Venetian lagoon. Finally they met the Bauta, the very same changeling who had met them and given them their invites. He now wore no hat, but was in a regal suit and with a large powdered wig, and held an ornate sceptre.

With the introductions done the motley joined the party. It was explained to them that they should not reveal their identity. That was the rules of Carnival. It allowed them to speak openly, and also hide from the Fae, binding them to Carnival. If they did reveal their name on purpose then they would be removed from the gathering by the power of the Wyrd.

As Else and Freki followed the Bauta, seeking to speak with him, the right hand to the Doge, Sonata and Clio engaged with the other changelings present, listening to and joining conversations, enjoying the revelry and atmosphere and the feeling of freedom.

The Bauta led Else and Freki into the heart of the maze in the garden. Here he sat and ate succulent grapes and pieces of stone from the statues. He listened to the two explain what they knew of the Rib Killer, and he explained that he was aware of some of it but it seems that fate has them involved and that they are the only ones who can put a stop to this. However, they would not have to act alone and that the Volto would be waiting in the shadows for them.

Meanwhile the others had learnt of the rivalry going on being the Columbine and Malvolio, the rumours of Privateers in Verona, and of hobgoblins matching those kept by the dread Fae, Commodore Fathom.

The gathering moved into the Palazzo proper, and to the upper floor where the Hall of Mirrors was located. Already some were there, dancing before the Doge who sat upon his throne. His golden mask shifted from smiling, frowning, laughing, crying, sleeping, screaming and growling.

The Bauta called for order, notices were read, and orders were given for preparations for Carnival. Then the motley heard within their mind the words of a pledge, and felt that the Doge was peering into their soul. They were now bound vassals of the Doge.

Meanwhile, in a cage Stitches awoke.


Notes: The Court of Carnival


The Court of Carnival, the Thousand Masks, the Quicksilver Court, the court of revelry and laughter.

Some wish to hide, some wish to loses themselves to their desires, others give into their rage, and others wish to cause fear. But the court of Carnival is something else. It is farewell to the flesh, to let go of themselves and be lost within the festival of Carnival. If they are willing to make the sacrifice the Carnival offers safety, pleasure, mystery, magic, secrecy and power. The ultimate message of Carnival is one of festival, and showing that the Lost can turn the tables on the Gentry. Of course the question is when Carnival will come seeking to collect their debts.

For the above reasons the Court of Carnival is eclectic, maddening, and colourful, attracting changeling from all walks of life. But typically the court attracts those changelings that have a taste for politics, intrigue, revelry and magic, all at once. They are all self styled princes of Faerie. But of course this intense mix is difficult for many changeling to accommodate, and oft
en courtiers can be driven to insanity but the pressures of Carnival. But this is the cost of the power that comes from the court.

Of course the most important rituals of the court focus on the period of Carnival. Starting on the 26th of December the Doge, along with a representative of the House of Winter, lead the celebration of the start of Carnival. Masks are ritually burnt, signifying the start of the period of renewal. But first they must give up their past year and confide to Carnival their sins. The real celebrations do not begin until two weeks before Fat Tuesday, and on the Sunday at the start of this period the Doge elects the Carnival Prince and Princess. These two lead the balls and parties and act as a focus for the Freeholds celebrations, culminating in their ceremonial marriage on Fat Tuesday. This marriage sees a grand ball and Lost from other Freeholds beyond Venice are invited to join in the celebration.

The following day, Ash Wednesday, marks the start of Lent, and so the changelings of the Court of Carnival focus intently on their purpose and duties for the following year.

For the remainder of the year the Court is devoted to secrecy and study, defending, the Freehold and rooting out dangers within the city.

The heraldry of the Court is a strange mix. It is the clear blue skies over the Adriatic in February, the bracing sea breeze, the smell of mulled wine, the sparkle of light of the crests of waves, the taste of hot chocolate, the sound laughter, the ringing of church bells, masks, tricorn hats, cats, lions, violins, gondola, mercury, salt, a sense of disorientation and loss of direction.



Sunday, 20 February 2011

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 4 - Skin - part 1


Christmas had been and gone and Venice was now cloaked in cold fog and dark skies. But hope was on the horizon. The festival of Carnival. And it was soon the time of year when all Changelings could feel safe from the Fae, and magic is turned upside down, master become slaves, mysteries and truth are reversed, and the Lost can cavort in the open as the Fae must hide from the world. Soon the Lost of the city would dance at balls and weave their glamour amongst the mortals as the Doge of their Freehold once more renews the vows to the festival. But before then there is a great amount of work to be done.

                Since their return from the Underworld the motley had come to realise a great many things. They were in a race against time, and the clock which was ticking was unknown to tthem. The Rib Thief Killer, though sought after by the police of the city, had claimed the lives of 10 people in total and they were slowly inching closer to the meaning of it all. Else had  figured that the riddle to do with the village of Marostica.

‘We all stand on the field of battle at Marostica. None can take first blood, such is our honor, such is our law. We are the armies of day and night.’

It had occurred to her it was a chess puzzle and that only 12 knights could stand on the board in such a way that they were not able to take each other. This, along with the clues about the clocks and the number of ribs taken made her realise that they were expecting 12 victims in total. They had also worked out the relationship between the clues to Titian and the other about those people killed. It was all biblical. The most recent clues were ‘The First to Die’ and the ‘First among 12’. They had worked out one was Abel, and then that the other was one of the Disciples of Jesus, St Peter. Looking at the works of Titian the motley found that there were two such paintings, and that the paintings were the clues themselves in some way.

Meanwhile, as the motley had investigated these leads Clio had discovered that the key that she had been given by Malvolio was in fact a hotel key. It was for a room in the hotel Daniele, one of the most famous of the city. She was now able to go there and take the Book of Names, that Malvolio had told her existed.

The motley followed their investigations and researched the paintings. The first was the ‘Death of Abel’, and the second was ‘The Death of Saint Peter the Martyr’. But there were complications. The original of the Martyrdom of St Peter was lost, with only copies existing outside of Venice. The other was in the church of Santa Maria della Salute. So they remaining painting was examined first hand and there was no hint of the Wyrd upon it, or any other sort of magic. But they did have a way of finding out more about the lost painting. It soon dawn on the motley that Clio would have been in Venice and possibly seen it before it was destroyed. That was in fact the case, but she could say little more about it since at that time she was just simply mortal.

In light of this fact the motley sought to track down the copies of the paintings that still were known about. Since many paintings, even if  in private collections, were recorded for the sake of preserving their history,  the motley looked at the House of Autumn records. They also paid a visit to those who may have seen some of these copies or the originals. They returned to the Casino degli Spiriti and the ghosts that cavorted there.

It turned out there were some copies of the paintings and that some should still exist in Venice. One was meant to hang in Palazzo Loredan Vendramin Calergi, where the Venice Casino makes its home in the winter. The other was in the Palazzo Benzon, where Contessa Marina Querini Benzon's famous salon was and Lord Byron attended.

The motley headed to the Casino that evening in the hope of being able to get close to the painting so that they might look at it. At the casino Sonata was easily distracted by the gambling and sat at a table play a few hands.  The others lurked around, and tried to get upstairs to look for the painting. Clio then ran into Malvolio, and while things began well they were soon joined by Stitches. Stitches could not bear the presence of the Spring Fairest and in an act of aggression, and unprovoked, head butted the elf. A fight was about to break out, but Malvolio summon his command of the Contracts of Vain Glory. He called out for security and pretended to be a famous artist. In response Stitches was thrown out, and lightly beaten by the guards. Freki and Else joined him and they left for the House of Autumn. Stitches knew there would be repercussions for his attack, but after what he saw in the Underworld during his vision, he knew he was right to do so. Else however had been able to find where the painting should have hung.  It was no longer there but the place marker was and the name of the artist.

  At the House of Autumn, in the hedge reflection of the Teatro Fenice, the motley, witht he help of the Wizened Artisan, Tristan Titian. They went through the library and found pictures of the copies. Went looking at the photos of the copies Tristan explained that the copies were different in the manner that they were painted. The notes, written back in the 60’s explained that the paint strokes gave an unnatural sense of motion, and that the paintings even seemed 3d. The motley realised that they may mean the paintings have backgrounds which are in fact the Hedge itself, or even Arcadia. On closer examination of the photos they spotted something strange. In the copies in the background there was a stone sundial.


Monday, 7 February 2011

Bluebooking: Lee

Bentley licked the slick ooze of blood from her wrist. She looked down and forced the pink gum out into a bubble. Letting it pop, she lightly pushed his head away.

Sit. Good. Good boy.

Fuckin dress. Fuckin Carl. Like I’d been on one of those makeover shows. Shit bloody Gok Wan.  Don’t know what that pretty boy sees in him. Don’t know what either of ‘em see in dressing like someone’s grandma.  Couldn’t move in a skirt that long.  Which really was a problem once we’d got under the city.

 Now that was interesting. 

Lee mentally checked through the array of faces, attitudes, voices she’d encountered that night, trying to make sense of the stuff they’d spouted. 

Give me raw, stinking fear over words and face and not much besides any day. Yeh, the evening certainly got better after the party.

Reaching into her pocket she unrolled a grimy scrap of paper, revealing a smudged line of symbols and numbers.

Can’t Google a symbol can you?

Bentley looked at her blankly.

Right. Maybe one for the fuckin Scooby gang. That Karen might know about it, she’s certainly got a brain on her.

Lee unlocked the back door and went out to the pens.  The dogs were active, alert at her approach.

Rigby and Dimitri seemed to have things sussed, despite squalling like a pair of toothless puppies. And Baz. Face like fuckin dog food, but he had my back. Maybe this coterie thing isn’t a bad idea after all. Not a whiff of an Alpha about the lot of them though.


Sunday, 6 February 2011

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost



Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 3 - Skulls - parts 4







The gondola made its way across the clear still waters of the River of Fate. The shade guided the craft, laden with its passengers, to the jetty on the other side of the river. The concrete towers reached up to the roof of the great cavern, and the place echoed with the screams and wails of the patients within the Hospital.

Coming up from the riverside, the motley found an open courtyard, with doors leading off into the maze like complex. From here they could see the groping arms of the patients, reaching through the bars of the windows. They observed the sweeping light from the central tower, silencing the ill and mad as it illuminated their chambers.

 In the courtyard was a man at a desk with a number of filing cabinets behind him. He scribbled away and stamped sheets. He looked up, looking over his face mask, and beckoned the motley over.  He looked them up and down and determined that Stitches was in need of treatment. He explained that patients could only leave the domain once they have been cured for their ailments, and that those who were healthy were allowed to observe but not interfere. A number of nurses approached and motioned for Stitches to sit. He refused and struggled as the nurses forced him down into the chair. This stopped as he watched in horror as a monstrous being approached. It scuttled down the sides of the walls, it’s chitinous legs stabbing into the concrete. It was almost 7 foot tall, and the upper part of the body made up of a barely concealed, muscular man, with fingers tipped with needles. It’s face was just a mask of white bone, with no eyes, mouth or ears. However, it spoke, with a booming voice, suggesting that they follow the rules of its domain.

As Stitches was wheeled away into the depths of the complex, the others followed. However, Sonata sneaked off alone. He went looking for where they may keep the drugs and medication, as well as looking for some clue of the missing woman and the man that had taken her. They had asked the man at the front desk about this matter but he seemed to be of the opinion that no one would be able to enter or leave without him knowing.

Having gone down a number of dark and damp corridors, through plastic sheeting drapes, and past wards filled with the screams of the ill and mad, they arrived at a room where Stitches would be assessed. There was a cold and stained metal table, and the nurses moved him from the wheel chair to the table, and strapped him down. They lowered a contraption from the ceiling. The dangling legs of it clamped around Stitches head, and some were positioned to force his eyes open.  The attending doctor then entered. He was covered in medical garbed, and he wore a reflector upon his forehead.  He pulled down the face mask and revealed that he had no lower jaw and a thin moustache. He walked to the table behind where Stitches was strapped down and uncovered a capacitor. He flicked a switched and it hummed to life. He went to position the electrodes at Stitches’ temples. There was a whine and Stitches teeth clamped together.  The shock was over and then the capacitor began to charge again. Stitches wailed in pain.

It was now that Freki, Clio and Else acted. They fought with the nurses and the doctor. The capacitor was still charging and Else tried to reach the wires of the machine to use her Contracts of Artifice to destroy the electroshock machine. Finally she got a hold of it and the capacitor stopped functioning, but only just after another surge of power had run through Stitches.  The nurses and doctor fled, with Freki slashing in all directions with her claws. They unstrapped Stitches and helped him up and fled into the complex.

Meanwhile, Sonata was in a store room and he was rummaging through a drugs cabinet.  He had already found the morphine when there was a sound at the door.  Sonata hid in the corner and found that his command of the shadows came easily. He watched a man, fitting the description given to him by Stitches. The man grabbed a number of different bottles and packages and then left. Sonata followed, and they headed into the depths of the hospital, closer to the centre where the lighthouse stood.

As the rest of the motley fled the surgery room the sirens began to howl. They picked up some hospital coats and went to look for the man and the missing woman, and also Sonata. Freki, picked up on the man’s scent she had detected back in Venice, and led the others after him.

Sonata had made his way following the man, and now there were no windows looking out of the hospital. There was just corridor after corridor of dirty lino floors. The man had gone into one of the padded rooms, and Sonata looked in to find that the padded walls had been torn open and that a tunnel had been cut downwards. Around the entrance to the tunnel were numerous body parts. Soon enough Sonata was joined by the rest of the motley and they head down the tunnel.

The tunnel opened out onto another corridor some floors below. The doors at either end of the corridor were locked, but ahead of them were the double doors leading to a dark hospital ward. From within they could hear the crying of a woman. The motley planned how they would go in, and as they crept into the forboding chamber they could hear the man talking to another unseen figure. The voice of the other person was deep and rasping. There was an argument about the man wanting his reward finally, and rasping voiced replied that he still need one more test subject. The man turned to leave the room, and passed by the motley who were hidden in the dark. Freki leaped out and so did Stitches, both hoping to pin down the man. Sonata kept to the shadows and sought to help release the woman. It was then that they saw the shade that the man had spoken to. He floated, attired in a ragged medical coat. His neck was thin and stretched out and his tongue hung loosely from his mouth. The fight was a series of slashes of knives, claws and nails, with Clio distracting them with her enchanting voice. Sonata lunged out and rammed a syringe filled with morphine. With the man dead and the shade dealt with the motley released the woman and led her out of the ward and up the tunnel.

Sonata led the motley with the aid of the ring that they had been given by the Sin-Eater. It led them through the hospital. The sirens were still wailing and they could now hear the stomping of the Kerberoi that they had met when they had first entered the Domain. They found that the ring had led them to a morgue. They were seemingly trapped. But the ring pointed to a locker. Opening it they found that there was a long tunnel within. They let the woman in first and then the motley followed.

They exited from the cramped undulating tunnel through another locker in another morgue. Fearful they looked to the door of the morgue and looked out. They saw that the hospital here was not as dark or as cold. It was only when they heard a mobile phone receive a text message that realised that they were once more in the real world.



Bluebooking: Post-Chaos (Dimitri)

I'm never throwing another party again.

...That may be a slight exaggeration.
I've been holed up at home for the past few days, waiting for some other shit to go down. It hasn't happened. Not yet, anyway...

A few - carefully vetted - herd members are in the living room with Karl, watching a movie. No drugs tonight; I just haven't felt like it. In fact, I haven't felt much like doing anything since the weekend.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not feeling sorry for myself. There's people I ran into at the party who have good reason to hate me; Patrick, Annabel. That's all a given. But having Matthew tear me a new one just because he thinks he can? Bastard. I thought we were getting along right now... we were at the party, but the minute something went wrong - well, he's proven he still thinks of me as a kid. Fucking ridiculous. Sire or not, I thought he had more respect for me than that. At least by now.

It's not like I don't realise I'm walking a fine line sometimes, with my 'gatherings' (even though they usually don't go wrong) and admittedly bad decisions. Maybe I shouldn't have drugged Annabel, taken advantage of her like that, but the bitch was asking for it. And still asking for it, it seems. Does she know what happened between us? Does anyone else? Is that why Natalia told her to piss off? If that's the case, Annabel's clearly waiting for her moment. Not that I can't deal with her, but it's another problem I just don't need right now. As for Patrick... he'll get what's coming to him. Am I the only person around here who knows that he's a manipulative cunt?

And the stabbing. I can heal a wound, but I can't heal my motherfucking coat. Versace. Fuck my life.
Speaking of, I'll think twice before offering Lee something nice to wear again. Luckily it came out of Karl's wage, and he hasn't asked me to pay him back yet.

I don't know what to think about the coterie yet. I paid them off, granted they did excellent work, and it isn't like I'm ungrateful. Exactly the opposite. When people get me out of hot water, I tend to like them. I'll probably invite them here next time I have a party. They won't fit in at all, but what can you do?


Player note: I like to make regular or semi-regular bluebooking posts, usually just additional thoughts from Dimi's perspective, as above. Occasionally they will be more like self-contained drabbles or cutscenes, to create an idea of what Dimitri's daily lifestyle is like. I'd be interested to read similar posts from the other characters, if anyone is ever bored and has the motivation.



A note, finding its way into Kindred hands across Manchester

Dear Citizens,

It will of course have come to all our attentions that a virile threat to the resilience and integrity of the movement has recently been averted. An external threat, hoped to sully and pollute what is both necessary and dear to us, to take advantage of our particular circumstances to do us ill.

This threat was profligate. It is true that it was targeted at one of our own, but the threat was not neat, or careful, but sloppy and wanton. It threatened us all, and could have torn through this city and its populations like wildfire.

Of course there should be questions as to how this threat entered our nights. Of course we should attend to the divisions that let something like this pass our borders. Of course if any within the city had intentionally invited this danger amongst us, then there should be swift and direct consequences.

But that is not the purpose here.

This threat was averted because of the contribution of members of the movement - acting in unity, with little need for heavy handed instruction, and with little concern to their own exposure. This is the sort of behaviour that can make this city strong. We extend our hand to the other covenants and offer these efforts as an example.



- R.