Last night was the fullest house I've ever seen at Josh's, and possibly the fullest on record. Every current member was present, and we even had a guest! You might imagine that most of the evening was lost in idle chatter with no role-playing at all, but you'd be WRONG. Even deprived of the dining-room table, seated on the far-too-comfy couches, there was role-playing, in-character banter, and even advancement of the plot. Hang on, kids, this one could get rough.
We opened the day after the previous session, with Obediah, Chucky, Tamsin, and Fitz all present at the theater. Vinny picked up Victoria at her college and dropped by the theater to see what was new. Introductions and telling of back-stories ensued after Victoria revealed that she could see Fitz's curse. Soon enough, Ray and Luke Garrow [played for this session by Wendy's guest Matthew] turned up, and joined in the introductions and general expositioning. After much chaos, the enlarged party agreed to fulfill their agreement to Luke and investigate the presumed werewolf murders at the Cloisters (not in Central Park, as previously reported). Eight people were too many for Vinny's cab, Tamsin's company van was still in the shop, and Obediah's car was still mostly in his imagination, so Fitz agreed to get his car out of the garage, and left to do so.
We then had a Testosterone Interlude. Fitz returned with his Audi TT, and proceeded to lean on it nonchalantly. Vinny took this as an affront, and challenged Fitz to beat him to the Cloisters. Both Tamsin and Victoria announced their intent to ride with Fitz (which pleased Fitz greatly), but they found the shotgun seat already occupied by Obediah (which pleased Fitz not at all). The other six piled into the cab, and off they went. En route, Vinny and Ray compared the size of their…guns…after which Vinny realized that Ray does know how to handle a firearm. Victoria was noisily ill out the window of the cab, but wouldn't say whether it was a result of Vinny's driving, or testosterone poisoning.
Vinny broke most of the traffic laws, and some laws of physics, and ended up beating Fitz handily, which Fitz accepted with good grace. The party then decided to explore the garden where the murders took place, despite Obediah's fear of topiary. Everyone examined the spots where the murders took place, but there wasn't much to see after six years, nor did there seem to be any mystical significance to the spots. Luke was able to find good places of concealment near each spot, but that didn't tell him much, so he spent a point of Mojo to shift to his mystical awareness. After that, he could discern a trail of Evil that led back into the Cloisters themselves.
The party realized that there was nothing for it but to go inside — fortunately, Obediah hadn't been banned from the Cloisters yet. Vinny, Ray, and Fitz reluctantly stowed their weapons in the cars so they could get through the metal detectors at the entrance. Once inside, Luke followed the trail of Evil, and Obediah wandered aimlessly. Victoria questioned the ghosts (of which there were many), but didn't learn much at first. After a few failed lines of questioning about the murders, she determined that there was one room the ghosts refused to enter: the room with the Unicorn Tapestries. As luck would have it, Luke's trail of Evil led to the same room, so the party gathered there.
The party then engaged in recon as befit their particular specialties. Luke sniffed around, Ray marked emergency exits on his map, Victoria engaged the staff in a historical discussion as a distraction, which Tamsin used to hack into an office computer, and the rest of the party stood around aimlessly. Tamsin was able to print out some forms that she thought she could use to forge academic IDs later. The rest of the party didn't learn much, except that the Tapestry itself was radiating Evil, that there didn't appear to be anything behind it, and that the guards didn't like you to get too close.
The party regrouped in the parking lot (after getting their hands stamped), and pooled their notes. Vinny thought the killings must be related to money, and wanted to check out substantial donations. Other party members focused on the recent cleaning of the tapestry, which was evidently kept out of the press for some reason. No, it was covered, but there was some detail related to it that the museum hushed up – JM Further intellectual musing was forestalled, however, when Victoria mentioned that her Sight revealed that the tapesty was a Door. This, of course, immediately set off Obediah, who marched straight back into the building, followed by Chucky.
The newer party members advised waiting for nightfall before taking any action, but the more seasoned members pointed out that when Obediah gets an idea in his head, it's best to just roll with it and prepare for the worst. To that end, Vinny slipped back inside with a few harmless tools from his “job bag,” found an unguarded emergency exit, quickly disabled the alarm, and admitted Ray and Fitz, who were carrying their weapons. Luke entered as well, but Victoria disavowed any involvement in this “plan,” and went for a stroll in the gardens, dragging Tamsin along with her.
The remaining men arrived at the Unicorn Tapestry room just in time to see Obediah completing his spell, encouraged by Chucky. To those with magical perceptions, the tapestries suddenly became three-dimensional, with woodland sounds and scents wafting into the room. Even outside, Victoria was aware of it, and Tamsin was able to convince her to come inside. Obediah was never one to stop for debate, and immediately walked through the tapestry into the forest beyond. Most of the other party members followed, although Fitz paused to don his shades and comment, “Let's rock-n-roll,” earning him a point of Mojo, which he immediately need to burn to enter the tapestry, since his normal power levels weren't adequate. Tamsin wasn't quite so fortunate, and bounced off the tapestry when she tried to enter. Thinking quickly, Chucky turned back and tossed her his sunglasses, which allowed her through on the second try.
After passing through the doorway, the party members with enhanced perceptions were immediately struck by how solid everything looked, their first clue that all was Not Normal here. All attention quickly turned to Obediah, whose appearance had changed dramatically. Instead of the greasy, scruffy, incomprehensible vagabond, this Obediah had glowing golden skin, flowing locks, and amber eyes, and was dressed, if not finely, much less shabbily. His voice was clear and resonant, as the party found out when he said “This is Not Good.”
Things went from Not Good to Worse when the Door popped out of existence suddenly. The party turned to Obediah for an explanation, which he didn't want to provide immediately. All he would say for the moment was that the rules from the party's last journey into the Borderlands still held: Don't eat or drink, don't stray off the path, and try not to interact with anything. Several party members wanted to know if Obediah could re-open the door, but he refused. He said he wasn't sure he could do it, and he didn't want to try, because if he failed, he'd attract the attention of whoever created the door in the first place. Vinny took out a pocket-knife and tried to cut a mark in the ground to indicate where the door had been, for later reference, but he found that the grass blackened and died where the steel blade touched it. Obediah pointed out that although the cold iron was effect, it's best to try to avoid cutting things in Faerie, because you never know what's going to cut back.
The party decided that further exposition should take place away from the door, so the followed a nearby stream to a clearing. After finding a ring of mushrooms in the middle of the clearing, the party decided to move on to the next clearing, which was unoccupied. Once there, Obediah explained, vaguely, that he was something of a Fae prince, but was no longer exactly welcome in Faerie. He declined to provide futher details at this time.
Tamsin began mourning for her Blackberry (which had been Fitz's Blackberry until yesterday, but never mind), believing that she now had no value to the party. Out of curiosity, Chucky scribed a Communicate scroll and stuck it to the Blackberry's uplink port. The Blackberry immediately displayed a login for something called SpellNet. Tamsin's squeal of glee was loud enough to disturb the nearby wildlife. Obediah was unfamiliar with this network, and thought it must have been created after he left. Tamsin eventually realized that she needed to register an account, and pay for it with her own personal power, but she did so without too much deliberation. After several false starts, she learned that all queries needed to be entered in rhyme, which she eventually got the hang of. She located a FAQ first, then put her new skills to work by accessing the local version of MapQuest. She learned that the forest the players were standing in is called Arden, that the nearby castle belongs to a Faerie Queen, and that there was a village nearby.
After a bit of hiking, the party reached the outskirts of the village, which seemed to be some idealized sort of medieval town, populated by people who looked more or less like Obediah. At that point, the group decided to break for the evening.
Some random notes:
- Before entering the Cloisters, Sean commented that most parties don't prep for dangerous situations by removing their weapons…just another way our party is different.
- Wendy was visibly distressed at the thought that the Unicorn Tapestries might be Evil, and even berated the GM about it.
- Fully half of the players demonstrated first-hand knowledge of both the Cloisters and the Unicorn Tapestry room specifically, which added a level of realism to the session, but possibly was more than the GM had bargained for.
- Several long-time players noted that walking into the tapestry may not have been the stupidest thing this group has ever done (since we all know what that was), but it may rank second.
- Your Humble Recapper must give special credit to Wendy's role-playing. Her reaction when Tamsin discovered the Spellnet was nothing short of maniacal, and definitely blurred the line between player and character.
- The players, as a whole, had far too much fun with the concept of Spellnet, with speculation ranging from spam (“Lengthen your staff!”) to viruses (deletes more than just your hard drive).
- It appeared to go unnoticed at the time, but Chucky was responsible for encouraging Obediah to open the Door, and for giving Tamsin access to Spellnet. So Doug either gets the credit for moving the plot along, or the blame for getting us all killed.
- In post-session analysis, the GM revealed that he expected the party to turn around and attempt to reopen the Door immediately, thus drawing the attention of the Big Bad and starting a conflict. The one time this party decides not to act cowardly, it catches the GM by surprise.