We rejoin our intrepid heroes outside the Legislature, having followed their now-functioning magical compass to the building after leaving Mad Cowz territory. The compass has stopped working again, and is just spinning in circles*, so they can’t get a good pinpoint on their quarry, the warlock Demissie. There follows some discussion about whether to go in immediately, or to wait until after nightfall, when the civilians will have cleared out.
In the end, they decide that it’s too dangerous to wait, and need to go in now. But how to bring all their hardware with them past the metal detectors and sheriff’s deputies guarding the entry? After significant debate, they decide that Rowan will veil herself and carry the weapons in, after the other three have already entered. This works fine, but shorts out the metal detectors and crashes the computer at the security station because of the magical interference. Not a huge deal, but enough to make the characters nervous.
They meet down in the washrooms in the basement, near the cafeteria, and gear up. Rowan tells them that the building was constructed according to mystical principles, and lays out a few of the big ones – the giant statue to Hermes on roof, the sacrificial star pit, the main stairs with three sets of thirteen risers, the statues of Hermaphroditus, the use of the golden ratio in the structure, the statue of Moses with horns…** They decide, based on what they know of Demissie and his flavour of magic, that the most likely place to find him is in the star chamber with the Hermaphroditic pillars at the bottom of the sacrifice pit.
They don’t find any sign of him down there, but Gerhardt notices that the urns by the pillars have been moved slightly, and people seem to avoid walking through the centre of the star. They do some more investigating, but don’t find anything else of note, and start attracting the attention of one of the security guards when Rowan starts moving the urns around.
Faced with this, Rowan decides to risk using the Sight. She finds a bench near the wall, sits down, and opens her third eye. She sees the place as an ancient temple to the power of Hermes Trismegistus, the Thrice-Great God of Magic, and manifesting the union of the male and female, divine and mortal, in the form of Hermaphroditus. She also sees a tortured ghost, wrapped in barbed chains, bound to each of the twelve pillars in the place, and magic gathering at a bloodstained altar in the centre of the star, presided over by a dark, malevolent shadow.
She closes her third eye and blasts at the centre of the star, deducing that the black shadow she saw was Demissie. Unfortunately, her blast isn’t powerful enough to break the veil and ward that have been set up. Demissie responds with a mental attack, sending the shrieking ghosts he has slain into her head, and rattling her a fair bit.
Taking his cue from Rowan’s attack, Legion launches himself at the middle of the star, but is blocked by the ward, formed out of tortured, bound spirits, which wrenches at his brain. Gerhardt uses his kinetomancy to smash all the urns, thinking to break the circle that way, and Elaine starts clearing the civilians and security guards from the room.
Rowan, already very taxed by the magic she’s been throwing around, pulls out all the stops and tears away the wards and barriers around Demissie, revealing him and his small table of ritual implements in the middle of the room. He responds by loosing the twelve bound ghosts and sending him at the heroes. Gerhardt tries to topple the pillars of the room to break up the magical flows, but loses control of his kinetomancy, sending a destructive pulse of force out in a broad splash rather than a focused blast. This topples a couple fo the pillars, splits the marble floor, and tosses everyone around a bit.
Legion and Elaine make short work of Demissie once his defenses are down, and Rowan drives herself almost to collapse banishing the ghosts. The threat ended, our valiant heroes run for the hills before the security guards get it together enough to detain them.
And they all lived happily ever after, because it’s just a playtest.
- While there are detailed rules in the playtest package for hexing equipment, they’re pretty involved. The author suggests instead to just wing it, which I did, and it worked fine.
- After three sessions, the two spellcasters were getting pretty good at figuring out how to do off-the-cuff magic, including tapping into the power of the Hermetic Temple to power their stuff.
- The minion system from Spirit of the Century works nicely for things like the twelve ghosts attacking our heroes in a very cinematic vein, but I’m not sure it’s got the entirely right feel for the books. Then again, I sure wouldn’t want to run the final battle from Summer Knight or the zombie-stomp from Dead Beat without it.
So, those are the six playtest sessions done. I’m taking a bit of a break from Dresden Files now; just writing up a report for Evil Hat, and then taking a breather. Six sessions over three weeks is a lot, and I need to put it aside to avoid burnout. Besides, I’ve been pushing a number of other games in our group off the schedule for this one, and we need to get back to them.
Having said that, my group has expressed interest in a continuing game, so we will be back again.
And I’m probably going to start talking about the other games I run or play in on this blog, so you may find something of interest.
Don’t be strangers.
*Thanks to Demissie sensing the destruction of the decoy doll and throwing up a veil.
** All of which are real.