Last Friday was the latest episode of the Fearful Symmetries campaign. I did things a little differently than I often do in the game, trying to achieve a specific kind of effect. I don’t know how successful it was; we all had fun, but I felt that maybe I hadn’t provided enough focus and direction.
What was this big change? Well, we’ve been playing for several sessions, now, and the characters are having more of an impact on the setting. In the past couple of scenarios specifically, they managed to get themselves marked by doing a couple of impressive things: bringing the Wild Hunt back to the world for a night, and traveling to Asgard to talk to Odin. I figured that these things would leave a sort of mystical mark on them, making them a little more obvious and visible to others in Prague who could perceive such things.
So, what I did was look at the write-up we had done for Prague, and see who might be interested in such things. I found two specific groups and, rather than picking one, I decided to have both groups come sniffing around for different reasons, and with very different styles. And because some of the things unfolded over time, I wanted to give the players plenty of opportunity to pursue their characters’ agendas in the meantime.
Anway. We picked up pretty much immediately after the attack by the warped dogs on White Mountain, with the characters heading back down into Prague, keeping a sharp eye out for other attacks. Once Izabela was safely behind her wards, Emeric went to the Goblin’s Brewery, and had an interesting discussion with Amadan, where he learned that Amadan could tell that Emeric had been to the Mittelmarch and had a brush with the Erlking. I was glad of this opportunity to dump a little information on the characters about their current visible status, and so was grateful that Emeric had chosen to go talk to someone who would know about it. With this information, Izabela whipped up a specialized veil to mask their magical signatures, and they went about their business.
Emeric has been working on building up a network of contacts and information in the city, so he went on with that, spending some time with Captain Amiel and his men, keeping those ties tight. Izabela finally found another mortal practitioner in Prague: a down-on-his-luck alchemist named Aurelius. She also found the powerful curse on Gold Lane, and had a chat with Rabbi Cohen about it.
During this, Emeric spotted a falcon watching him from time to time. His Lore check told him it was a natural bird with some sort of enchantment on it, so he devised a cunning plan to capture it – which failed, unfortunately; it’s hard to catch a falcon in a city using your hands and a cloak.
The characters also got an invitation to meet with a young nobleman named Evzen, who revealed himself to be a member of the secret Petrunas cult that meets on Petrin’s Hill. He wanted the assistance of the pair to help lend credibility to the cult, setting it up as a viable and attractive alternative to Christianity in the current troubled times. Specifically, he wanted to know what they could tell him of the Dooms, and to open the Rainbow Bridge for him. Emeric was somewhat sympathetic to the man’s desires – Petrunas is a local cognate of Thor – but Izabela was very concerned that Evzen seemed to know so much about them, and wouldn’t agree to anything unless Evzen agreed to reveal the source of his information. In private conversation, she told Emeric that she was certainly willing to help the cult, despite her fairly devout Catholicism, but that she could not let the fact that someone knew who she was and that they had been to Asgard go uninvestigated.
Evzen was, however, bound by his oaths to the cult, and said he could not reveal the source of his information. He said that he would speak to his fellows, and see if a meeting could be arranged to satisfy Izabela’s concerns. He said he would contact them in a day or two.
The next day, Izabela went back to Gold Lane to study the curse there, and Emeric made the rounds of his contacts, looking for information on the dogs which had attacked them. He turned up some rumours of dangerous creatures in the local parks, especially Jeleni Prikop, and found someone who told him that there had been a number of disappearances around there, and that Giaccomo Malvora, a rather brash young Italian nobleman, was known to go hunting in the dangerous parks. Izabela told him later that the Malvoras were White Court Vampires who fed on fear.
Emeric also found himself watched by dogs that day. Not large, warped ones, but not the scruffy mongrels that frequented the streets of Prague, either. These were well-cared-for hunting beasts. He managed to snag a few hairs from one of them, and brought them to Izabela to try and find out who was sending the beasts to spy on them.
Izabela managed to reach back through the mystic link from the dog to a powerful, feral force that seemed as much beast as man. I hit the player with a compel at that point, suggesting that she use her Sight to get a real good look at whatever it was. She did so, and saw a powerful man wrapped in many animal skins, holding the leashes of a vast hunting pack, with a pile of animal carcasses behind him. Over them all was the shadow of the Erlking.
As she came out of her Sight-induced trance, there was a loud thud at the door of her rooms. When they opened up, they found a huge hunting knife driven deep into the wood of the door, and no one around. They took a few seconds for Izabela to weave a compass ritual around the knife, so it would lead them to the one who had wielded it, and then took to the streets. They were told on the street, when they asked, that a hawk had flown out of the building shortly before the characters came out, and they followed the pull of the knife down to the Vltava, where the trail was lost. They tried to cross the Charles Bridge and pick up the trail on the other side, but as they passed beneath the Old Town Tower, the mystical defenses that the Templars had placed there to ward the bridge against Saracen magic unwove the finding spell and turned the knife red-hot.
They went back down to the river’s edge and Izabela tried to speak to the ghosts there to find out what had happened – they assumed that the hawk was a shapeshifter who had flown into the river to rinse away any connection to the knife, but they wanted confirmation. The ghosts who appeared to Izabela were all fighting men armed with spears and shields, arrayed along the riverbank, and they would not answer her questions, saying that the Queen was the only one who could. Izabela asked to speak with the Queen, and face formed out of the waves and told Izabela that yes, a hawk had flown down into the water, and then flown away again.
Now, the characters are very concerned about this fellow looking for them, and also are starting to get concerned that they haven’t heard back from Evzen yet. I figured that was a good place to leave things, with them trying to think of a way to track down this shapeshifter with ties to the Erlking.
As I said, the session was a little muddled and unfocused, but I hope I haven’t confused things too much. We’ll find out next session.