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WHITE WOLF GAME STUDIO
TITLE IMPRINT ISBN STOCK# US PRICE
ADAMANTINE ARROW CRIMINAL INTENT
WOD: MIDNIGHT ROADS RITES OF SPRING SCROLL OF KINGS THE HARVESTERS
WOD CHANGELING EXALTED WOD
978-158846-712-6 978-158846-246-0 978-158846-611-2 N/A
55205 70201 80207 55908
$24.99 $27.99 $24.99 $6.99
TITLE IMPRINT ISBN STOCK# US PRICE
LORDS OVER THE DAMNED MWAHAHAHA! COMPASS OF CELESTIAL DIRECTIONS 3: YU-SHAN BANISHERS LINES OF POWER
VAMPIRE BG EXALTED MAGE MAGE
978-158846-273-2 978-158846-741-6 978-158846-610-5 978-158846-440-8 N/A
25112 5161 80217 40104 40908
$19.99 $34.99 $24.99 $27.99 $6.99
WOD: INNOCENTS BOOK OF TRIBES: TRIBES OF THE MOON ABYSSALS VTES: BLOOD SHADOWED COURT STARTER DISPLAY VTES: BLOOD SHADOWED COURT STARTER DECK DREAMS OF THE FIRST AGE
WOD WEREWOLF EXALTED VTES VTES EXALTED
978-158846-713-3 978-158846-742-3 978-158846-612-9 978-158846-494-1 978-158846-495-8 978-158846-620-4
55004 30103 80002 02786 02787 80602
$34.99 $29.99 $31.99 $59.94 $9.99 $59.99
Wow, it’s been quite a year, let me tell you. I’ve only recently moved from the wilds of Wisconsin to the urban jungle of Atlanta, and the culture-shock is almost overwhelming. Though, amidst this sea of Wafﬂe Houses and airports, I have found a single island of sanity, or at least understandable madness: White Wolf. The new ofﬁces of White Wolf are fantastic, and my newfound co-workers are making me feel right at home, especially in the binge-drinking department. I’ve had an absolute blast here, from ﬁghting off implacable ticket-sellers to chasing invisible goats through the north Georgia hills (don’t ask). We’ve got quite a treat for you this Quarterly; plenty of juicy tidbits from upcoming books, some dynamite fan art and fan ﬁction, and interviews with the people who will be shaping the World of Darkness for years to come. Bringing this all together for you, the fans, was no small feat, I can assure you. With the formidable task of setting up the new ofﬁce, new employees streaming through our doors every week, and so many new upcoming releases, Atlanta will run out of ink long before it runs out of water. We barely had time to sleep, let alone assemble this Quarterly. By the grace of Odin we pulled it off, though, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
President - CCP North America: Mike Tinney Creative Director: Production Manager: Board Games and Cards Manager: VtR Developer: CtL/MtA/WtF Developer: Exalted Developer: Eve RPG Developer: Alternative Products Developer: Board Games and Cards Developer: VTES/WoD Art Director: VtR Art Director: WtF/CtL/MtA Art Director: Exalted Art Director: Graphic Designer: Rich Thomas matt milberger Pétur Þórarinsson Joe Carriker Ethan Skemp John Chambers Russell Bailey Eddy Webb Ken Cliffe Mike Chaney Craig Grant Aileen E. Miles Brian Glass Jessica Mullins
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE CROSS, THE CHAPEL, AND THE SPEAR An exclusive excerpt from Vampire: Requiem for Rome THE FUTURE IS DEAD... An Article on Murder City GRILLING THE NEW RECRUITS: Interviews with our three new developers A LITTLE MADNESS IN THE SPRING An excerpt from Changeling: Rites of Spring HOW TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD: A look at the rules of Mwa-ha-ha-ha! IT’S A SMALL WOD AFTER ALL Converting the World of Darkness rules into a miniatures game! MEETING THE TRIBES An interview with Chuck Wendig on Werewolf: Tribes of the Moon DUTIES OF THE LORDS An excerpt from Ventrue: Lords over the Damned AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: HOWARD INGHAM A close look at the author, and an excerpt from his work in the upcoming World of Darkness: Innocents INTO THE FINAL NIGHTS An interview with Ben Swainbank on Vampire: The Eternal Struggle THE GOOD OLD DAYS A compilation of excerpts from Exalted: Dreams of the First Age A STAR LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN An interview with Zach Walters on the Eve: the Second Genesis CCG FICTION AND ART CONTEST WINNERS Editor’s Foreword FANART by James Cole, Richard Stephenson, Ken Harrison, and Jordan Troy “A Shame” by Marc Caron “Damnation Waits” by Michael Osborne “A Whisper of Truth” by Karen Fenech “Root Beer” by Sean Steele 4 7 8 12 16 18 24
Director of Marketing - CCP North America: Peter Gollan Marketing: Kelley Barnes-Hermann Organized Play Coordinators: Oscar Garza Zack Walters Quarterly Editor-in-Chief: John Rosebush Quarterly Assistant Editor: Jason Bolte Quarterly Layout: Priscilla Kim
29 31 33 40 42 43 44 46 50 52
© 2007 CCP NA, f.h. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the written permission of the publisher is expressly forbidden. White Wolf, World of Darkness, Vampire the Eternal Struggle, EVE: the Second Genesis and Exalted are registered trademarks of White Wolf Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Vampire the Requiem, Werewolf the Forsaken, Mage the Awakening, Storyteller System, Storytelling System, Mind’s Eye Theatre, Sword and Sorcery, the Sword & Sorcery logo, are trademarks of White Wolf Publishing, Inc. The mention of or reference to any company or product in these pages is not a challenge to the trademark or copyright concerned.
Check out White Wolf online at http://www.white-wolf.com/
by J.P. Targete
The Cross, the Chapel, and the Spear
An exclusive excerpt from Vampire: Requiem for Rome
During the peak and collapse of the Roman civilization, Christianity ﬁnds a home in the hearts of the living, from which it is drunk greedily by the dead. The mortal legions now serve a Christian emperor, turning people out of pagan temples and breaking up ancient rites. The ostensibly pagan Legion of the Dead recruits more Christians (or Monachals, or Sanctiﬁed) every night, and these creatures refuse to arrest their fellows. Yet, what this new system of beliefs called Christianity actually is creates almost as much confusion and violence among the Christians themselves as between Christians and pagans. The Emperor Constantine attempted to create a single, universal Church when he declared his new religion to be that of the Empire, but adherents of his EIGNS ABOVE. Nicene Creed still shout and world is civilizedbrawl in the streets with Arid the power of Rome. ans, while the Gnostics gather hat walks is living, that falls will die. in private, seeking salvation not only from sin and sufferO NOT LIVE. and worms, consigned to from their own ﬂeshly ing, but med by our incompletion. bodies. In the underworld, REATURES OF ROME. disciples of the Monachus h is not conquered dren of Romulus debate adherents of Vitericus o his brother’s get. Minor... sometimes even on of the Republic. the Camarilla floor itself. of the Camarilla. In Rome, Christianity has yet ulius Macellarius Corbulo to coagulate, and instead runs �������������������������������������������� hot and wet from believers. ������������������������������������������� ���� ��� �������� ����� ��������They ���� ����� ��� paint pictures of heaven ��������������������������������������� in the blood of their enemies, ��������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������� and the dead follow suit.
The Cross, the Chapel and the Spear
faith. Christian faiths, though varied and complex, share a central message of friendship and brotherhood. Christianity spreads quickly, then, through social webs of friends and family. It also encourages not merely evangelism but service and generosity to one’s fellow man. Jesus spread the word of God ﬁrst to his friends, and then took them to Jerusalem as missionaries; the early Christians are no different. The ritual which will become Catholic communion, for example, is a full meal, shared by Christians at the houses of friends. These social networks which spread and form through Christianity thrive in urban areas. Christianity, in all its many early forms, is a religion of the city.
Cities on the Cross
The Roman poor are packed into the cities, trapped with nowhere to go. Others shelter below the ground, taking refuge in caves, tunnels and sewers. Some even squat in abandoned temples, too cynical--or desperate--to believe the rumors of ancient and bloody rites reenacted by ghosts in the dark. From the very beginning, these people--spat upon, degraded and hopeless--will be fertile ground for the seeds of faith. The promises of Jesus, however, are not the only appeal of the new
The same urban poor who embrace Christianity are the staple food of vampires. The dead are often messy when they feed, particularly in Rome itself. Their passion gets away from them and they kill. Roman citizens are missed when they disappear, and vanishing slaves don’t go unnoticed, either. A Roman who has only one or two slaves likely has personal relationships with them, and even the rare Roman with hundreds of slaves may jealously guard his property. Either slave owner is likely to pursue runaways. All but a few vampires, therefore, feed on the poor, who will only be missed by other wretches. While victims’ families and the mob may be dangerous, poor people are generally safer victims than the rich. The dead, like Augustus, spend nights in Masquerade among the rabble. Many of the mob also crowd the upper levels of Necropolis, more frightened of cold and abuse than the strange noises below. The dead feed upon the living, and they hear their words. They show mercy, and Embrace childer with strange new beliefs.
Requiem for Rome
The cults of the living have always inﬁltrated the dead. Often, the Propinqui welcome them for their novelty, bringing color and ﬂavor to unlives spent among bleached bones. By the end of the ﬁrst century, there are already Kindred in Necropolis babbling about the son of God, whose cult will admit no other divinity. The Nosferatu, who have deliberately Embraced the anonymous poor for centuries, carve a meeting-place in the rock. The Worms sing and hiss the praises of the One God, whose name is Jealous. They drink wine mixed with blood, and by miracles do not spit it forth again. They are betrayed. The other Worms know well the ways of their kind, and tell the dead above that there is Vitae in the communion draught, tapped from the veins of slumbering elders and unwary Kindred. The Legion of the Dead takes torches into the depths, felling or burning any vampire they ﬁnd. To their surprise, there are not just Worms, but Courtesans, Wanderers, and even Founders. When they reach the sanctum of the Christians, it is ﬁlled with a foul vapor, and it explodes on contact with the ﬂame. Legionnaire and Christian alike parish in the ﬂames. Some claim the explosion was an accident. Others believe that the resurrection cult committed suicide, imagining a life beyond Final Death. The explosion is felt throughout Necropolis, and it echoes. The Camarilla forbids the cult of the atheists. They prescribe cruciﬁxion before the dawn for any creature found praying or sacriﬁcing to the Jealous God. Their mistake is critical. The Nosferatu sense fear, and along with the Gangrel see a weapon to be used against the Propinqui. The Mekhet wonder about the secrets of death and resurrection underlying the myth of the Nazarene, even as the Daeva smile at a new taboo. Only a few dead actively defy the Senex’s mandate, but those few are enough. They cajole their friends, Embrace Christian childer. Above all, they remember and they resent, nursing long grudges as only vampires can. They remember the Sanctum.
to die, and that the soldier must bring them purpose. Longinus goes forth to preach among the dead. The core of his teaching is that vampires are Damned through sin: either their own or that of their sires. They are given the shadow of life to herd the living back to righteousness. Longinus is met at ﬁrst with confusion, and then with anger. He begins to stalk the pagan cults of the Middle East, appearing to them as an angel of blood and annihilation, revealing the falseness of their gods. He smashes idols and decries sloth. The established dead of the region are shocked by his actions, yet some are drawn to his teachings. Longinus’ followers (who may or may not include his childer) are not only Jews, but representatives from the pagan faiths. From the cults of Lilith, tended faithfully by the Daeva, they learn the subtle tempting of the living, even as they throw down the Dark Maiden from her pedestals. The Disciples of the Blood are not numerous, though. Later stories name only 13 of the admitted Damned. When the Jews of Jerusalem revolt against Roman rule in A.D. 70, many of Longinus’s followers, and perhaps the spearman himself, join them. When the rubble settles and the vampires of Jerusalem gorge themselves on Jew and Roman alike, the mad preacher is nowhere
When Jesus, called Christ, is executed on the hill of skulls, his followers beg for his body. To ensure that he is dead, the soldier standing watch pierces Jesus’ side with a spear, and is rewarded with a torrent of blood and water. The blood covers his arm, and a droplet falls upon his lips. The taste is sweet, and as the disciples retrieve their teacher from the cross, the soldier licks his arm and spear clean. The spearman becomes Damned without passing the jaws of death, transﬁgured by the blood of the Savior. The undead soldier ﬁnds himself wracked by hunger for more blood, but nothing from the veins of man or animal can match that which fell from the body of the so-called King of the Jews. He takes “Longinus,” from the spear with which he murdered God. Thirty three years after that murder, Longinus receives a revelation from God, through an angel called Vahishtael. Vahishtael reveals to Longinus that there are other dead who refuse
to be found. They assume the soldier and his cult have been destroyed. They are very wrong. Over the next century, letters emerge discussing the teachings of Longinus, many allegedly transcribed from the words of the soldier himself. The source is the Monachus, a Christian theologian Embraced to the bosom of the Damned. His followers say he is the childe of Longinus, or one of the ﬁrst 13. His letters achieve great popularity among Jewish vampires, as well as those Embraced from the growing Christian movement. In A.D. 232, the Monachus and his followers openly celebrate Mass for the ﬁrst time in a cave just outside Jerusalem. Inside the cave are only the Monachus and his closest followers. Outside, a group of the dead lie in wait to destroy them. The angel Vahishtael whispers a word to the Monachus, however, and he keeps those in the cave praying until dawn. Sunrise somehow catches the assassins unaware, and they are destroyed in ﬁre and frenzy. The followers of the Monachus rejoice, and declare the cave the Sanctuary of the Lance.
Others march by night for Rome, where they hide and tempt the Christians. Longinian theology becomes widely popular among the vampiric Jesus cults in the late third century, and is well on its way to becoming the dominant paradigm in the fourth. The Testament of Longinus provides the dead with their own messiah, and an identity separate from the living they consume. They are the Damned, and they know what their covenant with God is. Word spreads East to Rome of a Black Abbey consecrated somewhere by the Monachus, a new Sanctuary of the Lance and beacon of strength for the Damned. In Rome, neither the followers of Longinus nor any Christians are accepted by the Camarilla. The hundred cults of damnation and salvation ﬁght among each other like dogs, but can always spare the bite of their fangs or the growls of their sermons for those who have not yet learned the truth. After all, they say, we are all Damned and all Kindred in the eyes of God.
The dead men of the city gathered there, with murder in their hearts and ﬂames in their hands. But the angel of the Lord whispered to the Monachus: “Do not go to your haven, for you will be set upon by your enemies.” So the Monachus and the disciples slept in the cave. When they arose the next night, the Damned looked out of the cave, and their enemies had been burnt up by the sun. The Monachus laughed: “They are slothful, and continue their Sabbath past sunset.” And so those who gather in numbers but do not accept God are called sabbat. --1 Sanguinaria 9:16, trans. Roberts
FROM THE TESTAMENT OF LONGINUS
The Monachus and his followers are expelled from Jerusalem. Though their partisans remain hidden among the city’s dead, the most visible of the preachers and penitents are scattered throughout. Many of the Mekhet, as well as members of other clans, return west to the ancestral home of their Blood in Egypt.
No extant version of the Testament of Longinus explains quite why Longinus Embraced the Monachus. Most versions of Torments contain a passage in which Longinus is impressed by the Monachus’ faith and courage, but many vampires of the C hapel and Spear say the story began before that. They say that the Monachus was a Christian theologian called Theodas, whose writing impressed Longinus. They produce as evidence copies of ﬁrst century letters, which share a distinctly Longinian interest in the punishment of sinners. The Monachus, they argue, is the true author of the Testament and scholar of the Damned, and the actual recipient of divine revelation. Longinus was merely the hand that thrust the spear, where the Monachus’ lips speak the word of God. Few of the Damned in Rome have ever met the Monachus, and those who have reject the Theodas letters, and particularly the implicit belief that the Monachus received revelation as a mortal. Several of them, though, enthusiastically acknowledge that he was a Christian before the Embrace and a great scholar besides. The last positive reference to the letters of Theodas is a copy of a sermon transcribed in Jerusalem in the sixth century.
THE MONACHAL APOCRYPHA
The Future is Dead...
You wake up to the sound of your cell buzzing in its network cradle. Out slips a little square of heat-printed fax paper with the name and address of a dead person. You put on whatever’s closest, because no one cares what you wear as long as you wear your ID badge. You haven’t showered, and because it’s the way of the world, you were out late last night. You smell bad, you’re a little nauseous, and you don’t have enough cigarettes to get you through a crime-scene investigation. An automated cab takes you to the residence, which is typical: situated on the third layer of sub-streets, below ground trafﬁc. You’re going to get wet, because these sunless districts leak. You get the cab to drop you off a block away so you’ll have time to get your look on before you shoulder through the crowd of plasticjacketed cops. They stare. They make jokes. They try out jargon from behind their anonymous faceplates. They hate you and they want to be you. On this job, the best days are awful. Someone’s dead and it’s your business. Maybe he was pushed down some stairs. Maybe he was shot. Maybe he was in a scufﬂe and fell through a plate-glass window. Everyone’s different and everyone’s the same. This is when you decide the city’s not paying you enough and you’ll never do this work again. Or you decide you love the thrill, the puzzle, the immersion into the highest truth of biological existence — we all die. Either way, one of the foot-jacket cops has a contract for you to sign. Since you haven’t had your morning coffee… or scotch… you put your thumb to it without reading. It’s your case now. You’re the murder police, and no one gets avenged unless you catch the bad guy. Vanguard) emerge. These men, women, artiﬁcial constructs and alien beings are licensed to investigate murders. They’re contracted by their arcologies to help contain the epidemic that is murder in the far-ﬂung future. You as a player of Murder City are a jovan. You have taken the municipal tests, paid the credits for a license, and wear an ID badge that’s a backstage pass to murder. You’re emailed assignments, retina scanned to conﬁrm your credentials, and given free reign to track down killers. That means you can walk crime scenes, interrogate suspects, and gather forensics. In this world, you have the jurisdiction of the police while remaining a private citizen, and the regular shock troops in blue resent you for it. But your role doesn’t end when evidence is gathered and a murder is investigated. It’s your job to take that case through the overburdened judicial system. You become prosecutor, or more accurately spokesperson for the case you’ve assembled, appealing to the legal system to take your suspect to trial and get him convicted. After all, making convictions is how you get paid. Anything less means no auto deposit on your credit chit. That being the cold reality of your job, you gather evidence that puts a perpetrator at the scene of the crime, with the smoking gun in hand. Other times, matters aren’t so black and white. Evidence to murders can be found almost anywhere in the arcology if you know where — and how — to look for it. A bloody crowbar tossed in a dumpster. A partially erased data ﬁle. Or a sub-street ghetto tenet with a ﬁnger to point at a neighbor. The signs of murder are everywhere. No one could single out the speciﬁc evidence to every case, so sometimes you gather the information you believe will be necessary to make a case, whether it genuinely applies or not. That’s okay, because you may know a suspect is guilty, regardless of whether the evidence you gather is correct. Or maybe a suspect is innocent this time, but is a bad person who simply needs to be taken off the streets before there’s a next time. Or then there’s the hard truth that sooner or later everyone is guilty of a crime, and you need credits to put food on the table. You may hate yourself for it at ﬁrst, but guilt is a fair trade for survival. Now put your detective skills to the test against competing jovans, and bring criminals to justice. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and only the best win at this game. Murder City is a detective game set in a despairing urban future, available now at the White Wolf online store.
And You’re After the Killer
Murder City is a detective game set in a dark, dismal future. Horriﬁc overcrowding in the world’s vast cities, or arcologies, makes life a harsh, desperate struggle. The emergence of artiﬁcial intelligence as a pervasive presence raises the question of robot sentience — and morality. And, with humanity’s reach extended to the stars, alien beings have reached out to Earth and settled here. It’s a strange, bewildering, desperate place. It’s a deadly world in which tensions run high, life is cheap, and no one is likely to care when someone goes missing… or when a body turns up. It’s from this setting that freelance detectives and investigators known as jovans (members of the former Judicial Ofﬁcer
You were a normal person before you Awoke to the inﬁnite possibilities of reality. Your life was turned upside down when you carved your secret name into the mystical Watchtower. The Mysteries of the universe are unveiled before your eyes.
And you are not alone.
• • •
You can do anything.
Provides everything you need for a Mind’s Eye Theatre chronicle set in the popular Mage: The Awakening setting Expanded political mechanics and revised spellcasting systems designed for the unique aspects of live-action roleplay A variety of optional rules and Storyteller advice to help develop your chronicle the way you envision it For use with the Mind’s Eye Theatre Rulebook
Suggested for mature readers. WW50003 * $19.99 US PDF $24.95 US softcover * $34.95 hardcover Copyright CCP hf. All rights reserved.
GRILLING THE NEW RECRUITS
What is your Given a set of tools, favorite White Wolf I will accidentally game line and why? kill everyone within Now that’s an untwenty feet of me. fair question to ask. I’d have to call it a three-way tie, because I love them for entirely different reason. I’ve done a lot of work on Exalted, and indeed got involved with it after having played in a game run by Elizabeth Deirdre Brooks. So, when I was given the chance to help design the new Second Edition of the line, I jumped at the chance. Exalted is Where are you from? fantasy as I love it. I was born in Alabama, but was Mage: the Awakening, on the raised in Texas from my first year other hand, really fulfills my love on. When I was in my mid-twenties, of real-world occultism and fringe I moved to Oregon and remained spirituality. And Vampire? Well, there until this year — ten years in Vampire is the heart of the World total, roughly. I have since moved to of Darkness, for me. It’s themes Stone Mountain, Georgia. of equal parts family, blasphemy What brings you to White Wolf? and conspiracy really touch on the heart of the sort of themes I like Honestly? About seven years best out of fiction and storytelling worth of freelance writing and in general. development. I was hired this year as the Developer for Vampire: the Any sneak previews you can Requiem, though I imagine I’ll be Exalted is fantasy as I love give us of stuff you’re working on? helping out with other projects as it... Mage: the Awakening At this point, the five Clan well, here and there. At least, if I really fulfills my love of Books occupy the sum total of my real-world occultism and time and creative endeavors, honhave anything to say about it. What gaming industry com- fringe spirituality. And estly. I’ve seen some of the early work panies have you worked for? Vampire? Well, Vampire going into those books. I promise There’ve been a handful is the heart of the World you — you are never going to look at the clans of Requiem the same of them. Most of my work was of Darkness, for me. way again. done for White Wolf (includWhat Clan, Covenant and Bloodline best match you? ing a whole lot of freelancing for Sword & Sorcery That’s a tough one. In terms of my personal interests Studios), though I have done work for Wizards of the and proclivities, I’d probably have to go with Mekhet and Coast and Green Ronin as well. White Wolf has had the good fortune of recruiting three, count ‘em, THREE new in-house developers for the World of Darkness. Unrestrained by preconceived notions of the status quo, their fresh minds promise to change the face of the ever-evolving game lines. But before we unleash their dangerous and unpredictable imaginations upon our precious products, they’ve got some serious explaining to do to our faithful fans. Let’s hope, for their sake, you like what they have to say.
Circle of the Crone. Mysteries, occultism, religion and its expressions fascinate me and directly feed into my gaming work, generally speaking. I’m not sure that I’ve found a good Bloodline match yet...or rather, I have, but it’s not printed quite yet. What bottled or canned beverage do you plan to survive on when Atlanta runs out of water? Well, I’m mainly a water drinker. Failing that, though, there are a variety of bottled teas that I can survive on, I suppose. Here’s hoping it doesn’t quite come to that, though. You’re in a fully stocked hardware store when zombies come swarming in the front door. There’s no other means of escape, which aisle do you run to for makeshift weapons? Any of them, really. I have a reputation as an absolute klutz when dealing with anything vaguely industrial, and, given a set of tools and the expectation of my using them for anything, I will accidentally kill everyone within twenty feet of me. It’s really pretty pathetic, but clearly potentially lifesaving in a very narrow range of scenarios.
PDF/POD release, and apparently that impressed the Powers That Be enough to offer me the job of Alternative Products Developer. What game line will you be working on? All of them, most likely! I’ve already had initial discussions and conversations involving a number of the World of Darkness games, as well as Exalted, Scion and the upcoming EVE RPG. I’m extremely busy, but it’s a lot of fun. What gaming industry companies have you worked for? Prior to White Wolf, I worked for Comic Images, Deep7, Z-Man Games, Spectrum Game Studios, and some bits and pieces for a few of my friends in the independent RPG scene. What have you done previously outside of White Wolf? I worked on “Cartoon Action Hour,” which was nominated for a few awards back in 2003 (including the Origins Award for Best RPG). I also worked on a couple of licensed RPGs, like the Red Dwarf RPG and the WWE RPG (“Know Your Role”). I even wrote and released my own RPG called “Midway City” before working on Mind’s Eye Theatre: Awakening. What is your favorite White Wolf game line and why? I have been playing Live-Action games for over a decade, so I’ll have to say that my favorite line is Mind’s Eye Theatre. Exalted: Second Edition is rapidly becoming a close second, however.
Where are you from? Originally I’m from Lorain, Ohio, a small city about an hour west of Cleveland. The last place I lived prior to Stone Mountain was St. Louis, MO, where I lived with my wife, my roommate, a surly cat and an overly excitable pug dog. What brings you to White Wolf? I originally applied to be an RPG line developer, but I had a lot of experience with alternative publishing models like PDF and print-on-demand (POD) books. I developed Mind’s Eye Theatre: Awakening as a joint
IhaveanewVampire:theRequiem SAS that I’m writing, a Mage SAS in the works... I’m also working with JohnChambersonsomenewScion materialfor2008thatpromisesto bereallyexciting.
Any sneak previews you can give us of stuff you’re working on? With Alternative Products being such a new area, there’s a lot of things going on at once, and the map is changing a lot at this stage. I do know that I’m going to try to release an average of one SAS adventure a month covering a variety of game lines, including some of our new RPG releases next year. Specifically, I do have a new Vampire: the Requiem SAS that I’m writing, revised from one I submitted in the summer. There have been a lot of requests for a Mage SAS, so that’s in the works as well. I’m also working with John Chambers on some new Scion material for 2008 that promises to be really exciting. What bottled or canned beverage do you plan to survive on when Atlanta runs out of water? Newcastle Ale. Maybe Coke Zero as a change of pace. You’re in a fully stocked hardware store when zombies come swarming in the front door. There’s no other means of escape. Which aisle do you run to for makeshift weapons? The empty Newcastle Ale bottles from the previous question. It’s always good to recycle.
Where are you from? I’m from the edges of Washington, DC. What brings you to White Wolf? “On the sixth day, I’ve been playing our God created Man, saw what a nasty games since before I was piece of work he old enough. I was a huge fan of Dracula and vamwas,andﬁguredHe pires and so on, and was neededadayoff.” fascinated as Vampire unified all the different kinds of bloodsuckers and gave them their own culture. I think my original thought was “Wow, this is The Dracula Tape as a game,” but it turned out to be a lot more. Turned out to be love, in that strange, wrong way a boy loves an imaginary universe. Fast forward and I’ve written about a year’s worth of Vampire myself, plus miscellaneous World
of Darkness going back to some time in ‘05. When the job opened up, coming in from the cold only made sense. Any sneak previews you can give us of stuff you’re working on? “On the sixth day, God created Man, saw what a nasty piece of work he was, and figured He needed a day off.” What bottled or canned beverage do you plan to survive on when Atlanta runs out of water? I’ll be stealing Bax’s bottled water to make coffee. He only thinks he’ll resist. You’re in a fully stocked hardware store when zombies come swarming in the front door. There’s no other means of escape, which aisle do you run to for makeshift weapons? Restrooms. I hear they hate being shot in the head.
Ithinkmyoriginalthought[on Vampire]was“Wow,thisisThe DraculaTapeasagame,”but it turned out to be a lot more. Turned out to be love, in that strange,wrongwayaboyloves animaginaryuniverse.
A Little Madness in the Spring
A little Madness in the Spring Is wholesome even for the King But God be with the clown...
- Emily Dickinson, No. 1333
Rites of Spring is the source book that covers all the various powers and abilities that Changelings have acquired during their time in Arcadia. More than that, however, it details the mystic lore behind them and their onetime Fae masters. For instance, consider the question, “Where do changelings come from?” Sure, everyone knows that they come from Arcadia, but what exactly is Arcadia? This excerpt from Rites of Spring, by Jess Hartley and John Snead, should shed some light on what the Changelings believe to be the true nature of their onetime home.
Changelings return to Earth limited in their knowledge of the supernatural. Their memories of Arcadia are fragmentary, their understanding of the Gentry consists of a mixture of these garbled memories and folktales and few have any reliable way to learn more about the other strange and terrible inhabitants of the World of Darkness. However, none of these limitations prevents changelings from attempting to understand these many questions, and thus, many changelings formulate and discuss such questions. Most such discussions are nothing more than idle speculations, but occasionally these theories can form the basis of a freehold’s policies.
THE NATURE OF ARCADIA
One of the key features of Arcadia is its extreme diversity. One portion of Arcadia may be a forest where trees walk and all of the Gentry living there partake of the nature of plants, while another area consists of vast citadels that the mysterious grays construct from magical crystal and animate fungi. Meanwhile, a third realm may be an abstract and strange realm of air and mirrors floating in a seemingly endless expanse of open sky. Each realm has its own consistent rules and physical laws, but some of these laws may be mutually incompatible, and True Fae rarely visit realms other than the one they live in. Although changelings know few consistently verifiable facts about the nature of Arcadia, they have many theories. Most start with the idea that Arcadia is ultimately a single realm where reality is exceptionally flexible and is ultimately controlled by the wishes and desires of the Gentry. As a result, each of the many realms within Arcadia is either deliberately created by one or more Gentry who
wish to exist in such an environment or spontaneously generated around these Gentry as an environment that matches their essential nature. Some changelings believe that there is no real distinction between Gentry and the realm they inhabit and that each realm is in some way an extension or part of the Gentry who inhabit it. Other changelings take a radically different viewpoint and maintain that the different regions are effectively different worlds, each of which may be almost as different from all of the other portions of Arcadia as they all are from the mortal world. In this theory, Arcadia is not a single place but a cluster of worlds that are in some way linked together but are ultimately separate and are inhabited by beings that are essentially similar and profoundly different from each other. The most popular way of talking about this theory is to say that Arcadia is a series of linked parallel universes, each of which contains beautifully predatory beings who are related by the fact that they are alternate universe versions of one another and who loosely cooperate in their efforts to exploit the mortal world. One of this theory’s major limitations is that no one has been able to explain why Arcadia is composed of a multitude of vastly different parallel worlds, while all changelings seem to come from the same version of the mortal world.
THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF THE TRUE FAE
Questions of the nature of Arcadia are closely related to the question about the origin of Arcadia and the nature of the Gentry. A common changeling joke is that if you ask four changelings about the origin of Arcadia you’ll get five different answers. Because there is no way to obtain more information without actually returning there and no changeling remembers his time in Arcadia as anything more than a particularly vivid and terrible dream, questions about Arcadia quickly run into questions about the ability of any human or once-human mind to comprehend an environment that is truly alien. However, none of these limitations have stopped many changelings from attempting to uncover the truth about the terribly beautiful realm where they were all held captive.
DEMONS AND FALLEN ANGELS
Christianity is the most populous religion on the planet, and by virtue of sheer numbers, many changelings come from at least superficially Christian backgrounds, whether that means having been raised in church-going families or simply having grown up in cultures (such as the United States and most of Europe) where Christian mores and mythology are inextricably entwined in the fabric of the nation, for believer and non-believer alike. As Christianity (as well as Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and many other belief systems) contains references to otherworldly beings of inhuman nature in the form of fallen angels and demons, it should come as no surprise that when changelings attempt to find explanations for the True Fae (themselves otherworldly beings of inhuman nature), the labels of demon and fallen angel quickly spring to mind. Similar to tales of the devil, the Fair Folk are masters of temptation and bargains, and it is not a far jump to equate Fae Contracts with the same sort of pacts that Satan and his minions forged to trick unwary mortals out of their immortal souls. Ogrish or bestial Keepers, or those associated with Fire or Darkness might easily conform to legendary stories of demons, as might the Fairest of the Fair Folk, whose unholy beauty might be compared to succubi, incubi or other seductive devils. Similarly, True Fae and fallen angels such as Lucifer himself share many personality attributes that could easily lead the Lost to believe that the True Fae and fallen angels
There’s another theory about Arcadia, though it’s not widely known; this theory comes from the mages, and changelings have a tendency to avoid mages whenever possible. According to this theory, Arcadia is either — depending on the mage — a Supernal Realm that’s separated from the rest of the Fallen World or a Fallen reflection of the original Supernal Arcadia. According to mage lore, bodily travel between the Fallen and Supernal should be impossible . . . or at least not nearly as possible as the True Fae seem to treat it. The idea of the Supernal is explained in more detail in Mage: The Awakening. This perspective doesn’t have much practical influence on changelings, and so isn’t detailed greatly here. However, more exploration of how the two game lines might be blended will be presented in The Equinox Road.
are one and the same. The True Fae possess free will and are moved by their own will and whim. As well, they covet humankind while at the same time considering themselves far above mortal man. One folk tradition holds that fairies are those angels who refused to side with either God or Lucifer during Lucifer’s revolt. Denied the grace of Heaven but not having earned the fires of Hell, they had to find a third home. Many Lost find the story plausible. Arcadia is a place where souls do not go, so the True Fae have learned to concern themselves with bodies. They interfere with humans more than angels or demons do, for the True Fae have no place in the Great Plan. For whatever reason, God allows them to do what they may . . . and it alarms changelings to think they and their tormentors are simply not in God’s sight. Because of this rationalization, many folktales admonish their listeners to use religious piety to keep the Fair Folk
at bay. Repeating the Lord’s Prayer, scattering communion wafer crumbs or holy water, hiding in a church and waiting for the peal of church bells are all legendary means of avoiding abduction by the Fae. Unfortunately for the Lost, few if any of the Fair Folk are affected by these efforts, although whether it is because they are not truly demons and fallen angels or because the faith of those who attempt these methods is simply not strong enough is a matter of conjecture. This hasn’t stopped some desperate changelings hoping to avert the attentions of the True Fae from donning religious trappings or surrounding those mortals the changelings wish to protect with the same.
One of the more common theories about the True Fae focuses on the alien nature of Arcadia and the fact that some changelings come from realms where the Gentry
closely resemble UFO aliens. Although very few changelings seriously claim that the True Fae come from another planet, many believe that the Fair Folk are alien beings who ultimately come from some completely alien parallel universe or unimaginable dimension beyond the rim of space. The nature of this alien dimension remains unknown and likely unknowable, since most changelings agree that humans almost certainly cannot exist there and are likely to go insane if exposed to it. However, changelings all agree that this alien realm is different from Arcadia. Arcadia contains many twisted reflections of the mortal world, and there are frighteningly simple paths between Arcadia and the mortal world. According to this theory, Arcadia is some sort of boundary zone between the Gentry’s alien homeland and the mortal world, which partakes of features of both realms. The Gentry are therefore alien predators who cannot comfortably exist in the mortal world, but who wish to feed off humanity. Therefore, the Gentry either created Arcadia as a place where they could bring humans to feed off them or spontaneously created Arcadia as a buffer zone between their alien homeland and the mortal world. Some of these changelings are attempting to uncover the truth about the Gentry’s actual homeland and hope to eventually drive the Gentry out of Arcadia and back to their alien homeland and seal the fabric of reality with powerful wards so that they can never return.
THE TERRIBLE DREAMS OF LOST CHILDREN
The relationship between the fae and dreams is perceptible and profoundly unclear. Many changelings believe that Arcadia is in some fashion a land of dreams, but it is equally clearly not the land of ordinary mortal dreams. Instead, some changelings theorize that the Hedge is some form of physical manifestation of mortal dreams and fears that can, to some degree, be shaped by the dreams and
desires of those inside. These changelings also believe that the limitations on someone’s ability to affect the Hedge are a combination of their raw power and their expectations. According to this theory, changelings who manage to return to the mortal world lived in the mortal world until they were at least young adolescents. As a result, their minds were already bounded by expectations about the laws and limitations of the mortal world before they entered the Hedge or traveled to Arcadia; thus, their ability to affect the nature of reality in these places was seriously limited. However, infants and young children have many fewer expectations about the nature of the world. Some changelings theorize that, long ago, very young children wandered into the Hedge and became lost. Unable to make their way out, they learned to shape a portion of it to their desires, creating realms that are twisted reflections of their memories of the mortal world. These realms of half-formed infantile dreams became Arcadia. According to this theory, the Gentry replenish their numbers (on the rare occasions that they actually die) by stealing infants from the mortal world. The Gentry steal older mortals because these once-human beings have halfforgotten memories and desires to interact with them. However, since these infants have become inhuman beings who can command the reality of Arcadia with a whim, beings who lack these capabilities, such as mortals or changelings, become nothing more than their playthings. Some changelings believe a variant of this theory, which claims that anyone who remains in Arcadia sufficiently long loses all touch with humanity and eventually becomes one of the Gentry. Only a few changelings believe this theory. Few wish to believe that the comrades they were forced to leave behind and often still mourn or hope to rescue will one day become the same as their tormentors.
HOW TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD
A look at the rules of Mwahahaha!
“Surely, Doctor, you don’t expect the most powerful nation in the world to turn over control of its nuclear reactors to you? That’s madness!” The bureaucrat stood with his back to an assembly of statesmen, his eyes imploring even across the satellite feed on which his image was projected. A tall ﬁgure watched the politician on a large television monitor. The containment suit he wore gurgled as it circulated its foul cargo, the fetid ﬂuid that kept the mad scientist alive. The room was dark, save for a single spotlight that shone where the doctor stood. Beyond the thick steel walls of his chamber, stars and planets whirled about his lunar-outpost lair. The madman’s image was broadcast back to Earth. He stroked his faceplate as if he could touch his chin, and almost seemed to smile under his respirator. “I don’t care what you think, Mr. President. I just care what you do. If those reactor codes aren’t in my possession by this time tomorrow, I will unleash a meteorite that will plummet toward the United States – a veritable nugget from space! Then all will rue the day you deﬁed... Doctor Dookie!” Pfffft. “Sorry.” In Mwahahaha!, the new board game from White Wolf, each player assumes the role of a mad scientist bent on world domination. In your hidden lair, you create a doomsday device with which to issue threats to an unsuspecting populace. As you build an increasingly powerful weapon, you can threaten regions from cities to states to countries to the entire planet. However, creating your device requires that you build an evil empire. It’s through your empire that you gather the materials and minions you need to make your plans come to fruition. The player who builds the most successful evil empire and who cows the world into submission is declared the winner!
Mwahahaha! is a two-to-ﬁveplayer game that usually takes a couple hours to play.
Here’s a quick insight into how the game plays: Initiative decides the order of action among players each turn. Each player gets a Dirty Trick Card at the beginning of a turn. Tu r n s a r e d i v i d e d i n t o three phases: Creation, Rivalry and Domination. The Creation Phase is dedicated to building your evil empire and doomsday device. Players are dealt up to ﬁve Raw Material Cards that they cash in for Resource points. A scientist’s Lair and the Empire Cards that he possesses dictate the maximum Resource points he can harvest from Raw Material Cards per turn. Players decide how to use their Resource points, whether to acquire Empire Cards or Minion Cards, to dedicate the points to building a Doomsday Device, or to horde the points in a stockpile. Players can also trade commodities in the Creation Phase to try to round out what they need for their evil organizations. The Rivalry Phase is when players lash out at each other, sending forth lackeys to steal away Empire Cards or to raid other players’ Lairs for Resource points. Minion Cards are used to attack other players, and to defend from enemy henchmen. The Domination Phase is when players issue threats, whether to a city, state, country or
Summary of Play
to the world. The potency of your Doomsday Device determines your chances of a successful threat. If the target backs down, you collect a ransom. If the target deﬁes you, you get no ransom and must decide what to do next: trigger your device out of spite, or slink away in shame. All the while, you continue building a better doomsday device, or devise a new one to take a new tack on domination. Turns are played until one scientist makes the world knuckle under. He wins the game, being declared master of the Earth.
Here’s a list of the components that come with the game: • 10 Mad Scientist Cards • 20 Doomsday Devices • 125 Raw Material Cards, including “Betrayed!” and “Wild” Cards • 36 Empire Cards • 40 Minion Cards • 60 Dirty Trick Cards • 15 Humiliation and 15 Maniacal Counters • 200 Resource tokens • All the six-sided dice you need to play
It’s a Small WoD After All
By John Rosebush
One of the great things about dice-based game play is that, with a few adjustments, any game can be switched to a completely different genre with relative ease. The rules required to make an in-depth role-playing game could, with a little tweaking, make for a great tabletop miniatures game. Likewise, the setting elements required to make a miniatures game interesting could easily be translated to a storytelling format. With very few changes, the World of Darkness Rulebook could be used in a miniatures strategy game. Interested in the idea but don’t have any miniatures? Well, do you have a few blank sheets of paper, a pen and the ability to draw recognizable shapes at the 3rd grade level? Then you have all you need, as long as you also have the rulebook and a handful of dice. You can draw everything you’ll need, so long as the players understand what everything is. environment elements can be intricately constructed and painted model pieces, or they can be rough sketches on sheets of notebook paper: whatever you have the time and/or resources for. The models representing your characters can be classic World of Darkness ﬁgurines, heavily converted minis from another miniatures game or just nickels and bottle caps.
All characters will start at the edge of the board as far away from the other players’ characters as possible. Each starts an equal distance from the ﬁeld of play. For ease of play, try to keep all your character markers (miniatures or otherwise) roughly the same size.
This game can be played with as many players as you would like, and in fact becomes increasingly more interesting with more than two players. You can even form teams or just have it be a free-for-all. Even a small game beneﬁts from a referee, someone not currently playing who can make impartial decisions when something is just too close to call. Though the referee is not a necessity, the presence of one can speed up the game signiﬁcantly and help to avoid several arguments.
Most WoD-themed miniatures games will have an urban setting. Try to keep all the buildings on roughly the same scale to avoid confusion, whether they are real models or just drawn. Clearly mark all “high ground”, including ﬁre escapes, ladders, and the roof tops. Make sure it is clear how tall the building is, with clear delineations between stories.
Field of Play
Set up the buildings and cover items at the beginning of the game. Each player takes a turn setting one object where they want it, starting with buildings and working their way down. Alternately, the referee can be the one who places everything. These
These objects can include cars, dumpsters, lamp posts, whatever you can think of. These objects are used to hide from gunﬁre or other projectile attacks as per the World of Darkness rules (Pg. 162-164). Clearly mark the level of concealment that any given object lends to those hiding behind it:-1 for minimal cover to -3 for heavy cover, as well as full cover. Walls are always considered full cover unless a character shoots around them, in which case their concealment is considered at moderate cover (-2 to opponent’s dice pool). Be sure to mark the object’s durability, size and structure (pp. 135-138).
Concealment and Cover
These weapons should be placed by a referee and conﬁned to an area equidistant from all players’ starting areas. Improvised weapons are items that can be used as makeshift weapons in a pinch, such as 2x4s or broken bottles (p. 136).
Like any good game of strategy, both sides must be evenly balanced and rules clearly deﬁned for a good, competitive game. Unfortunately, the World of Darkness rules system is designed to convey an interesting storyline, not support a carefully balanced miniatures game. Most of the stats on the character sheet would prove useless in a strictly combat/maneuvering based game, and so we must trim the fat, keeping only what’s most desirable for our purposes. I’ll explain the rules that work very differently from the RPG, but otherwise I’ll just mention where in the core book you might ﬁnd existing rules that needn’t be modiﬁed much. Almost any information required can be found in Chapter 7 of the World of Darkness Rulebook, though some rules (such as breaking objects) can be found in Chapter 6. I’m writing this under the assumption that you have a pretty ﬁrm grasp on the World of Darkness rules as they stand.
The Bare Bones
Each player gets an identical amount of points to spend on their character. A good rule of thumb is to allocate two points for each Attribute and two points for each Skill on the sheet. This allows for either a very balanced character to be made or a highly specialized powerhouse.
Next, allocate equipment. This can be included in the Merits section. Use the weapons and armor as they appear in the World of Darkness Rulebook(pp. 168-170), with the resources costs given in the book as the point value of each item. Players can buy them individually, point for point. Example: A character with a Light Revolver (Resources 2) and a sword (Resources 2) would need to pay 4 Merit points in Weapons). Ammunition for guns is 1 point of Merit per extra full clip, though any gun is assumed to start the game with 1 clip as its maximum ammo capacity. Equipment points may or may not intermingle with normal Merit points; it’s up to the players or the referee, as is the number of points each character gets. Use the rules found in the World of Darkness Rulebook for generating Health (p.90); Speed (p. 95); Initiative (p. 151); and Defense (p. 90). The Trimmed-Down Character Sheet includes: Name, Player, Concept Attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Composure, Wits Skills: Athletics, Brawl, Firearms, Investigation, Medicine, Stealth, Weaponry Other Traits: Merits, Health, Willpower, Size, Speed, Initiative Mod, Defense, Armor, Equipment Wi l l p o w e r i s c a l c u l a t e d b y d o u b l i n g t h e character’s Composure. In the absence of Virtues, a single point of Willpower is regained when an opponent is killed. If a character is killed by multiple opponents, whoever did more damage gets the Willpower.
Generally, Merits will only be conﬁned to Physical Merits and only those directly related to combat or movement. Merits like Danger Sense may also help avoid ambush (see below).
Even though your characters begin on opposite ends of the playing ﬁeld, they roll Initiative as normal to determine the order of their actions. Initiative can either be rerolled every full round (once every character on the board has taken their action), or just rolled at the beginning and set that way for the rest of the game.
(rounded down) and take one action. The scale depends on the size of the miniatures the players are using, though one inch per yard is usually a good stand-by. Characters climbing a ﬁre escape, for example, or something similar must sacriﬁce either their move or their action for every story they want to go up; thus, for example, they can climb two stories if they did nothing else (and had access to a ladder). If there was no ladder for that ﬁre escape, the characters could attempt to climb the wall using the climbing rules as found in the World of Darkness Rulebook (p. 64). Characters can jump obstacles, move from building to building, but they must apply falling damage as normal when they fail their rolls (generally one automatic bashing damage per story fallen).
The physics for range and movement in the World of Darkness are made to be a nearly realistic system. This presents a problem when designing a miniatures game with a reasonable scale. Characters can either move their full movement rate (Speed) and take no action, OR move half their Speed
Use rules for lifting and moving (World of Darkness Rulebook pp. 47-48) to allow players to move various cover objects around the playing ﬁeld. The weight of the object should be clearly marked at the start of the game. Per the Durability and Structure rules (pp. 135-136), objects may be broken, rendering them useless as well as gaining improvised weapons from the environment. Whenever a character wants
to make use of a ladder to gain higher ground, duck behind concealment, damage an object, or pick up an improvised weapon, she must roll her Wits + Investigation, scoring at least one success to take that action this round. This “spotting” roll doesn’t take any action in and of its self, but can only be attempted once per round. Picking up an improvised weapon, whether it’s going to be immediately in hand, or “holstered” for later use, takes an action.
When one character bests another, he can spend his next action looting the gear of the defeated character. Spending one action doing this and then moving allows one piece of equipment to be taken. Forgoing your movement for the round and looting allows all gear to be taken, within the limits of the character’s carrying capacity.
A character can forgo both her movement and action in a given round to roll her Wits + Medicine in order to heal themselves, recovering one point of bashing damage per success, one point of lethal damage per two successes, or one point of aggravated damage per three successes. However, this requires the character to purchase First Aid equipment at creation with Merit points: one point per First Aid Kit, which can only be used once that game. One character can help heal another in this way, requiring both of them to stay still and take no other action. Any character who applies First Aid or has First Aid applied to them loses their Defense rating until their next action, so while it can be attempted in close combat, it’s not advisable.
Characters can carry a number of objects up to their Strength value without penalty, so long as the individual Size of those objects does not surpass their Strength. For every object carried in excess of the character’s Strength, a -1 penalty is applied to both their Speed and any roll requiring Physical attributes. Also, if any objects carried have a size value greater than the character’s Strength, apply a further -1 penalty for every cumbersome object they carry. Small objects, such as ammo clips or ﬁrst aid packs, don’t count against this total. Armor does not count against this total either, as penalties for wearing armor are already included in its description. Apply the standard penalties for not possessing the Strength required to wield an object successfully (p.168).
Combat works exactly the same as in the World of Darkness Rulebook (p. 150-184). Each character takes one action on their initiative, moving before or after their attack as they see ﬁt. If their target is within their total Speed, they may forsake their Defense and charge, their opponent may opt to use their action that round to ﬁre on the charger before he reaches them (regardless of their normal initiative). For purposes of close combat, anyone within one yard can make attacks, however to successfully charge you must be in range to touch bases with your target, and must declare the charge before measuring. Your target may shoot at you whether the charge succeeds or not.
Apply all normal rules for close combat, including grappling, dodging, all-out attacks, ect. When a Dramatic Failure is rolled, the character takes 1 bashing damage automatically as they let their guard down or stumble into a blow. Weapons must be drawn with an action, keep track of what is currently drawn in what hand it’s in. A good way to keep track of what’s where is to make cards for each piece of equipment you start with, keeping those in your left hand to the left of your character sheet, those in your right hand to the right, and those not currently drawn below the sheet.
When they are within range of each other, characters may open ﬁre as their action, taking into account all the normal ranged combat factors (p. 159-164). Guns must be reloaded when out of ammunition, and number of clips must be kept track of. If a dramatic failure is rolled shooting a gun, it becomes jammed, requiring an action to clear. If another dramatic failure is rolled with the same gun, it backﬁres, causing 1 automatic lethal to its wielder and jamming. On the 3rd dramatic failure, it backﬁres as above, and becomes completely useless (though could still be used as an improvised club). Firearms present a difﬁculty in measurement, since allowing a character to get his hands on a riﬂe with a thousand-yard range would give him an unfair advantage. To directly scale down the ranges, using a uniform equation for every gun, wouldn’t work either; to get 1000 yards down to a reasonable range would leave the 80 yard pistols with a microscopic ﬁring range. So we must generalize the ﬁrearms somewhat in this respect, and I have found the table below to work nicely; Listed Max. Range <200 yds 200-299 yds 400-599 yds 600-799 yds 800+ yds Miniatures Max. Range 10 yds 20 yds 30 yds 40 yds 50 yds Short/Medium/ Long Ranges 4/7/10 8/14/20 12/21/30 16/28/40 20/35/50
If you want to cleave more closely to the standard ranges in your game, you can do so, but I would recommend throwing in plenty of cover, altering the stealth rules to provide more protection, and increasing the speed of characters.
Being above street level can offer advantages in a ranged ﬁght or new dangers in close combat. High Ground is usually portrayed by ﬁre-escapes or construction plankways in urban games, as well as building rooftops. Ladders or stairs should be placed by either the players or referee at the outset of the game to allow access to these upper levels. When shooting from high ground, the shooter gets a +1 bonus to his dice poll per story above his target (though his gun’s range must still be taken into account). When ﬁghting on high ground, a combatant can attempt to throw another off to the ground below. First, she must successfully grapple her target (p. 157), then make a contested Strength + Brawl roll the next round. Any dramatic failures rolled in close combat at least one story above ground will cause a fall.
The sneaking action allows the characters to blend into the shadows of alleyways, keeping them safe from gunfire. When sneaking, a character can only move half his full Speed rate. She rolls her Dexterity + Stealth as her action. Any successes achieved are removed from the dice pools of anyone shooting at her until her next action, as well as from the Speed range of those trying to charge her. Sneaking can be combined with cover if the character is in range to employ it, but bear in mind that this constitutes her action and requires her to stay within the cover. Once in close combat, sneaking is negated. This is a good way for brawl/weaponry based characters to force a close confrontation. Ambush is also possible. If an opponent declares a charge against a character currently “in stealth” and the charge falls short, the character in stealth may declare an ambush. He may use his next action to charge his opponent, who will be considered “surprised” (p.151) during the ﬁrst round of combat, and she cannot react to the charge with ranged weapons. An ambush can only be declared by a character that did not ﬁre on the charging opponent.
Making it your own
Your next question will probably be; “Great, but can I do it as a vampire?” Of course, but adding the supernatural to the game will make it considerably more complex. It would certainly be the fair if everyone played the same ‘type’ of creature, as pitting Vampires against Werewolves could cause a bit of an imbalance, but this is up to you to sort out. The inclusion on various Gifts, Disciplines, etc., would add a new dimension to the miniatures game, but each power should be examined before the game begins, so that all players can agree upon how each one will work. This is especially true of including Mages in the game, whose diverse powers can be employed to accomplish just about anything. The inclusion of various powers will often call for rolls that involve traits that have been removed from the sheet. In these instances, just pick whichever skill/attribute would seem to be the closest or most logical substitute. Even without adding the supernatural, books like World of Darkness: Armory could be used to allow further variety in equipment
selection. The more aspects you add to your game, the more necessary having a Referee will become.
Such a game can be open to a wide degree of variation. The rules given here can be cut down to simplify things at the players’ discretion. Building interiors could be included, which would require quite a bit more modeling/drawing, but it does add a whole new dimension to the game. Environmental hazards could be included, as well as hostile or helpful “NPCs” to be played by the referee. The match doesn’t necessarily have to be fair either; it’s up to you what kind of game you want to play. Thematically, this rule structure can be used with any setting. A major problem with playing a modern miniatures game is that almost no one makes any miniatures that look appropriate to the modern-gothic theme, they’re all fantasy or sci-ﬁ, and not much in between. For a fantasy game, just take away any ﬁrearms and modern technology, and for a sci-ﬁ themed game, make up newer and more powerful weaponry to outﬁt your characters with. This miniatures game is open to just as much variation as the role playing game it was based off of.
As noted above, it’s very difﬁcult to ﬁnd any miniatures appropriate to a World of Darkness setting. Here are a few suggestions: Street Violence miniatures by Wargames Foundry USX Modern Cthulu Figures from RAFM Future Wars miniatures by Copplestone Castings Street Fight Gothic miniatures by Iron Wind Metals Secrets of the Third Reich and Gothic Horror miniatures from Westwind Productions Adventurers miniatures by Hasslefree Miniatures
Though admittedly it takes some of the fun out of it, you can simply draw and cut out all of your buildings, characters, and anything else you might want to include in the game. This method ensures that everything will be to scale, and you aren’t limited by what you have the time and materials to meticulously assemble and paint. Find whatever junk you have lying around. Use bottle caps for your characters, DVD cases for the buildings, toothpicks for the ladders. The game will lack the visual punch, but still should make for a fun time. Still have that old deluxe set of Lego’s in your closet? Get building!
On the Cheap
An interview with Tribes of the Moon developer Chuck Wendig, by Jason Bolte
The long awaited Werewolf: the Forsaken supplement, Tribes of the Moon, is on the horizon, ready to be deployed to the masses. Delving deeper into the ﬁve Tribes of the Forsaken than any other book before it, Tribes is a must-read for any fan of the Uratha and their ilk. Developer Chuck Wendig explains the vigor of his work and the new features discovered in Tribes of the Moon. been covered in Rage. They knew what it would take to tell the story of each tribe in a meaningful way, but also how to pack in a wealth of story hooks and ideas into their sections.
Meeting the Tribes
What can people expect from this book? Anything drastically new?
Two words: Milestone Gifts. Two more words? Tribe-speciﬁc rites. (Hey, it’s two words, that’s a hyphen, don’t sweat it.) We’re certainly not reinventing the wheel, but I promise that each tribe has some new ﬂavors to add to the taste proﬁle. I asked each writer to approach the tribe the way they saw them. That doesn’t mean the tribes are ‘all new, totally different,’ but it does mean that we painted in broad strokes to look at the themes surrounding them in both old and new ways.
What brought you to write a Werewolf: the Forsaken book?
Werewolf is a game about the wildness within, about kicking down preconceived human limits and becoming something bigger, stranger, more primal. I’ve worked on a number of books for the line as a writer, and it’s a game after my own heart. So getting the chance to develop one of these books? I swoon at the thought. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to do more development on the Forsaken line. Hint, hint.
Was it difﬁcult to put all the Tribes of the Moon in a single volume rather than focus on a single Tribe for a book-length supplement?
THIS IS REALLY ABOUT global aspects of the Tribes? THE ESSENCE OF EACH How different Tribes work TRIBE... THE BLOOD across continents, for example? AND BONES OF WHAT Absolutely. The goal here was IT’S LIKE TO BE OF to present the tribes in three asTHE PEOPLE IN EACH pects: regional, global, and cosmic. TRIBE OF THE MOON.
A Bone Shadow in the New Jersey Pine Barrens isn’t going to look like a Bone Shadow in the woods outside Chernobyl. They’ll have different traditions, rites and beliefs. And yet, they’re still Bone Shadows. Globally, they share elements that make them who they are, and one of those elements is the nature of each tribe’s Firstborn totem (which lends itself to the cosmic angle). That said, we didn’t give each writer a directive to hit every continent and country, but to find what examples and hooks really speak to the tribe and tell us the tribal story in a new way.
Will we get a glimpse of the
Difﬁcult only that, in a perfect world, I’d have 80 Billion Words to devote to each tribe and we’d just keep writing about how cool the Bone Shadows or Blood Talons or whatever are until the cows come home. But brevity is the soul of wit, after all, so putting all the tribes in one book allowed us to hit all the key elements with an intense focus. This is really about the essence of each tribe, the soul of these werewolves laid bare, the blood and bones of what it’s like to be of the People in each Tribe of the Moon. The writers got it instantly. They knew that we were bringing stuff to the table that hadn’t
The Ghost Wolves are not discussed much in this volume. Were there ever plans to include them in the book, or are they too loosely afﬁliated to be ﬂeshed out properly?
I wanted to. I love the Ghost Wolves. But they’d been done in Rage, and any inclusion would’ve taken Awesome Stuff away from the other tribal sections. This book is about the Tribes of the Moon and what it means to be that. The Ghost Wolves are no less cool by their exclusion, and surely they’ll keep getting pages devoted to their coolness.
What was your favorite part of the book? Favorite Tribe?
That’s like asking me to name my favorite child. Of course, I have no children. Not because I’m not virile. Is that what you’re saying? Are you WE WERE ABLE insulting my manliness? Just you wait, I’ll TO TAKE HIShave some kids right now. Hold on. TORY AND WORK I’ve always loved the Bone Shadows. But IT INTO SOME this book ruins any favoritism I once held MORE MODERN toward them because each writer really TRIBAL ‘LEGENDS.’ T h e turned in a unique and eye-opening FRANKENSTEIN VERmyths of approach to each tribe. You know how SUS THE WOLF-MAN the Forsaken sometimes you read a game book and IS A STELLAR are what intrigue things not only click inside your head but EXAMPLE OF me the most suddenly you get this crazy itch to play that game THIS. about this system. ohmygodrightnow? Yeah, I got Did you incorporate that reading every tribe. a lot of common myths into this book? Were these The love for the Tribes here is palpable. You taken from previous myths around the world? If so, can chew on it, taste how much research was involved? Did you invent its sweetness. Afyour own myths in the process to correspond to the ter this book, it’s various Tribes? impossible to We took the tried-and-true Forsaken myths and have a favorite. examined them from the perspective of each tribe. We I promise. looked at the Firstborn and told some new stories and some old stories in new ways. Equally bad-ass was that we were able to take history and work it into some more modern tribal ‘legends.’ (Frankenstein Versus the WolfMan is a stellar example of this, so look for that when the book hits shelves.) It all comes out feeling very authentic and real, and once more it just makes me itch to take this stuff and put it in a game. The writers assembled for this beast all love Werewolf: The Forsaken, and their attention to detail and to the stories of these werewolves is undeniable.
Duties of the Lords
An excerpt from Ventrue: Lords over the Damned
The following was sent to one of my agents in Vienna. I think of it as charmingly out of date, but not particularly inaccurate. According to a seer who handled it, this document was typed around 1912, apparently as part of a successor’s guide from sire to childer. We’re not sure who the author is.
Our Priscus, as the paterfamilias or materfamilias, is entitled to summon meetings of the clan and its knowing assets every month. Our Priscus is entitled to the haven of his choice, of those available to our clan within the domain. Our Priscus is entitled to drink once of any Kindred or kine within our clan’s reach or dominion. Our Priscus is entitled to speak, in open sight of the clan or in private congress with individual Lords, on any topic or action being considered. Our Priscus may approve the taking and dismissal of ghouls, as the blood they get in alms is his blood. Let us never forget the value of survival and endurance, nor the cunning necessary to outlast one’s neighbors and enemies. Though you may not think your Priscus is the most knowledgeable, the most ambitious, or the best informed of the clan, remember that he is the oldest and therefore knows vital secrets for getting older. Listen and be bettered. Remember always that the eldest of the clan is regarded as Priscus only if that Kindred is also in residence within the domain. Trespassers and nomads gain no special rights for their visitation, even if they should be feared and respected for their age.
THE DUTIES OF LORDS...
Above all, respect your betters, then your elders, in that order. Beyond that, remember that your power beneﬁts the clan — you can do more for your kin as Prince than you can as Priscus. Your station within the clan is a measure of familial love and respect, but while we may love our fathers and mothers, all Kindred must bow before the Prince. Attend to the eldest Lord in the realm with respect, formality and fear. In past nights, we have regarded the eldest Lord in our domain as Priscus, even if he is away in a long rest. The “walking” Priscus was a provisional position awarded to the eldest of us who was about nightly. In our domain, this has never been in fashion, but perhaps when I am buried and asleep you will consider enacting it.
ON THE PRISCUS...
The Ephors continue to be an important part of our success, even though some cities have either abandoned or forgotten the custom of their appointment. The name of the Ephors comes down to us from Sparta, where they were ﬁve aged advisors and nobles. Though we borrow their name, our practice of the Ephors is not from the Spartan people but from the legends that reveal them to us (remember your Lycurgus!). We began using these Ephor legends in the time of Alba Longa, but the practice more likely began in the Carolingian age, when our rule across the Holy Roman Empire brought us into touch with all the other races of our Kindred and required us to know and understand them. It is best to have Ephors drawn of every race of the mortals — Caucasian, Negro, Oriental, all should have their unique perspective represented so that you (or your betters) can anticipate strife. No more than Lords should be granted the title of Ephor in any realm, and it is better to err on the side of caution by being short in Ephors. Otherwise you are doling out more power than necessary, which is always a mistake. Traditionally, each Ephor is tasked within the domain to another race of Kindred with which to liaise, but also to observe and understand. The Ephors should be “quick studies” with have the instincts of an inspector while also demonstrating the persuasiveness and poise of an ambassador. Remember, in addition to gathering information, the Ephors represent you and all other Lords. Customarily, Ephors are among the elder Kindred in the domain, but this has gone out of fashion in recent decades. Similarly, Ephors are typically well compensated for their work, often with money, assets, desirable havens, concubines and titles. This, too, is unnecessary.
ON THE EPHORS...
Do not make the mistake of confusing an Ephor with a spy. While “spying” may be one thing an Ephor does to better fulﬁll his duty, his role must not be treated as one of espionage or, indeed, deception. Avoid letting an Ephor be put into a position where he must lie — an omission of the truth may be acceptable, but do not destroy the Ephor’s standing with the other races by casting him as a spy. Instead, use the information you gain from the Ephors to make better use of your spies, while giving the Ephors enough distance from such missions that they may maintain genuine deniability. The Ephor’s duty is to represent not simply what his appointed group wants or thinks, but also how they appear to his trained eye. What are they planning that they might not want to report? What are their genuine, undisguised reactions to the business of the court and the clan, even if they are not the reactions they would like to have known by their neighbors and enemies? The Ephor must know.
Equally likely to be loyal lieutenants as blustering cockalorums, the Whips are essential to the maintenance of Ventrue culture and character in the domain, regardless of what that domain’s culture is or what the Whip’s motives are for doing the work. Loudmouthed, self-aggrandizing Whips simply need to be kept on a leash. They have the advantage, then, of being seen as the back of a better Ventrue’s hand, and thus they represent the power and authority of their masters. More trustworthy Whips may be allowed to act according to their own measure, which has the advantage of presenting a purer image of character shared across the Kindred of the clan. “Look,” say the ground-
ON THE WHIPS...
lings, “even without a better looking over his shoulder, the Whip acts the way the Lords talk.” I’ve known Whips who were bullies or thugs, and I’ve known Whips that were like campaign managers and ships’ captains. Some young Lords need to be led in song, others need to be herded into the church. The proper tool for the proper job. What too many Princes and Prisci do wrong, in my opinion, is make the lazy assumption that Whips are a necessity. This is a dangerously self-demoting assumption. A strong leader is his clan’s own Whip, leading the rabble and the ofﬁcers with his own sterling words. When the position of Whip becomes institutionalized or overly ritualized to the point that it becomes seemingly mandatory, the clan in the domain is in trouble. Then the ruling Lord may feel compelled to place a substandard or ill-ﬁtting whelp into the role, just to ﬁll the seat or keep the whelp busy. A mistake, either way. A weak Whip does worse than fail at his task: he can undermine the image of the clan and cause divisiveness among the Lords. Treachery always follows. Therefore, assign a Whip only when the domain has gotten to such a size that nightly work becomes impossible for you to do yourself. You cannot lead the meeting at the same time you are out wrangling the commoners to attend. Look to Hounds and Harpies as Whips — Hounds for marshalling, Harpies for coaxing. Find a couple of Jacks who may strive to use the title to promote themselves within the clan or the city. Break your siblings and childer from any notion that the Whip should be a Kindred of a particular age; such thinking leads to casual disdain as the commoners (Lords and lessers alike) label the Whip too young or too old
for the role, before he even has his chance to excel. Do not keep a Whip for one night beyond his usefulness. If the body of the clan can be kept in line by your own voice (perhaps you’ve attained a new station in the city which your lesser Kindred now respect), dissolve the position of the Whip. Reward the worker, perhaps. If a Whip loses credibility or is openly deﬁed, make an example of him through exile, humiliation, a blood oath or even torpor. Declare him a helot, perhaps.
I included this because I thought it was an interesting glimpse back. In the past ninety years these three roles have changed so little, but the way we talk about them seems to have changed so much. My Priscus was much more casual than this one sounds. He was even grandfatherly, but as quick to punish you as he was to reward you. It’s interesting to me, though, since the custom of being given the ﬂoor (or a discreet ear) seems to be the same as the way we did it. My Priscus was given territory by the Prince, but nothing special. Didn’t have enough to pass down to us, so we got what we got for our own pledges and servitude to the court. When I was young, the Ephors were the real face of the clan in my city. Every one had territory, every one owed red rent to the Prince. They were like another layer of Primogen gathered around the Priscus. They decided what image we’d put on for the others and the Whip spread the word. I doubt we met more than twice a year, though. We were pretty well into our routine when I was a ﬂedgling. When I was Ephor to the Shadows, there were so few of us left on our feet that the whole custom felt like a stupid act. Like a play for no audience. Our Priscus was an Ephor; the only Lord who wasn’t was our Whip (but all she did was run messages for us and keep the ghouls in line). So I guess I’ve included that letter b/c even after 90 years, it’s good advice. Just scrape off all the other bullshit.
Author’s Spotlight: Howard Ingham
White Wolf is privileged to have a host of highly talented freelance writers working ever-diligently to bring the next chapter of the World of Darkness to life, and Howard Ingham is no exception. In just the last two years, Howard has written for a whopping twenty White Wolf titles, including Shadows of the UK, Changeling: The Lost, Requiem for Rome and the upcoming Fall of the Camarilla, not to mention the entire Promethean: The Created line! Howard has been a freelance writer for ﬁve years now. When he’s not busily expanding the World of Darkness, his professional writing deals with some very real-world issues. Topics he’s tackled include religion, society, justice, and radical politics. He has also been the editor of a Liberal Christian magazine for some time now. A native son of England, Howard has lived with his family in Wales since 1994. When asked to write for the upcoming World of Darkness: Innocents, a book detailing the role of children in the horror setting, Howard thought of his own son’s gripping fear of their vacuum cleaner…
Harriet’s Little Brother and the Vacuum Cleaner
This is about what happened to my Mum. About the accident. I’m writing this to you, diary, because you’re not going to tell me I’m crazy. I have this little brother. He’s called Danny. When I was younger, like in eighth grade, he used to drive me crazy. I love him and everything. But he used to come in and rummage through my stuff and get snot and goopy mashed-up food on my clothes, and there was this one time he got hold of this Valentine card that Josh gave me, which was like the most important thing to me in the world back then, when I was still talking to Josh, and we were friends and everything, and anyway, I came into the room and he was there on the ﬂoor, laughing and talking crap because he doesn’t have any proper words yet and he’d just screwed it up and I went ballistic at him and yelled and he started crying and then Mum came in and gave me a hard time for making him cry. But he’s not so bad. He’s just a little kid. I just can’t tell him that. Anyway, so one day Mum and Dad were out and I was babysitting and it was, like, about eight o’clock, and he just started wailing. So I went into his room to see what was up and Danny was crying really hard, like tears and snot were all over his face and he was all red and he was shaking, like he’d been really scared by something. He couldn’t really talk yet, so he was trying to say things and he couldn’t. He could just point out the door of his room. So I looked, and the door across the hall was open. The closet. You could just see Mum’s vacuum cleaner next to the door. So I went over and I made this big show of looking inside and making sure there weren’t any monsters there, and I lifted the vacuum cleaner out, and Danny started howling then, and then I real-
ized he’d had a nightmare about the vacuum cleaner. So I had to put it inside the closet and shut the door and I gave him a cuddle and told him it was OK, it wasn’t going to get out, and after a bit he calmed down and I got him to sleep again, but it totally ruined my evening. He’s never liked the vacuum. Mum told me about how when I was a baby, she’d be hoovering the carpet and I’d just fall asleep, but she tried it on Danny and he just cried and cried every time. The night he had the bad dreams was a couple of days after Gran came round. Mum and Dad were out working, and they thought I’d want to go out and everything, which was all right of them, and so Gran was in charge of Danny. She decided she wanted to help and stuff, so she did some cleaning. She just sat Danny in his high chair and started hoovering round him. Danny went nuts. I could hear him screaming from my room, and I ran down and tried to calm him down, and I picked him up and held him a bit. Gran couldn’t understand why he was crying. Stupid old cow. So after that he was totally terriﬁed of the vacuum cleaner. He wouldn’t go near it. Sometimes Mum would use it and it’d be standing there under the stairs because she hadn’t got round to putting it away and Danny wouldn’t go near it or walk past it unless me or Dad were standing in front of it, and then he’d run right past it. This is the weird thing, though. He was only scared of our Hoover. No one else’s. Just ours. There was this one time I had to go round and see Ellie, and Mum and Dad had left me to look after him, which wasn’t fair, since they’d already said I could go hang out at Ellie’s, and so I took him along, and we went into Ellie’s house and I thought, oh shit, because they had a vacuum cleaner just like ours, and it was right there in the hall, right in front of the door. Danny didn’t ﬂinch. He didn’t complain, or try to get me to leave. I put him down and he even walked up to it and started tapping it with his hand. Cross my heart and hope to die. So I thought that maybe he’d gotten over the whole vacuum cleaner thing, but I got him home again, and there it was under the stairs, and Danny wouldn’t go near it. This kind of carried on. There was this one time we found him crying and crying, and he was next to his teddy and its arm had been ripped off. Couldn’t ﬁnd it anywhere. Dad promised he’d look for the arm and mend it. Got us all looking everywhere. Couldn’t ﬁnd it. A couple of days later, they made me empty out the vacuum cleaner drum — it’s either that or the trash — and there it was, this little mangled arm from a teddy bear, all covered in ﬂuff and dust and crap. No idea how it
got there. I mean, whoever was doing the cleaning would have noticed it, right? If it was Dad cleaning, he would totally have missed it. We didn’t tell Danny about that. Dad ﬁxed the bear, but it wasn’t the same. And Danny kept being terriﬁed of the hoover. Dad kept saying how he’d grow out of it, but he didn’t. It got worse. Danny wouldn’t go near the thing and started trying to stop Mum and Dad from going near it, too. Mum and Dad had to make sure it was in the closet and show Danny that the closet door was locked. Even so, Danny kept having the bad dreams. And I kept ﬁnding bits of toys in the hoover drum. Mum and Dad kept blaming me for leaving the vacuum cleaner outside the closet. Because they’d keep ﬁnding it in the lounge, or halfway across the landing — or even, that one time, in Danny’s room just before it was time for him to go to bed and have his story. He nearly had a ﬁt that time. I got grounded for it, even though it wasn’t me, I swear it wasn’t me, but Mum and Dad said it couldn’t be anyone else, and it was a mean trick to play on a little boy. I began to get scared of it as well. I remember having this really bad dream about the vacuum cleaner. I dreamed it went wrong and there was an accident and Mum died. Which is what happened. Only in the dream, it was like, I knew that the vacuum cleaner wanted this, which is stupid, because a vacuum cleaner can’t want anything, because it’s only, you know, a thing, but in the dream, I knew it wanted to kill my Mum, but I didn’t tell anyone. And it did kill my Mum. She was doing the hoovering while Danny was having his nap and he woke up and started crying and I went upstairs and tried to calm him down and the hoover was still running, so I went downstairs to tell Mum to knock it off, only I couldn’t because it was just standing there in the middle of the lounge ﬂoor and Mum was lying on the ﬂoor next to it, and she had the cable wrapped round her neck somehow and she wasn’t moving and I turned the vacuum off and started trying to get her to move and I couldn’t, and I called an ambulance and they took her away and left me with Danny and they called Dad and Dad had to come home and tell me she was dead. Except the police started asking me about it, because they thought I might have done it somehow. And Danny, poor Danny didn’t stop crying until he fell asleep, and then started again when he woke up, which was how I felt, too. Dad scrapped the vacuum cleaner. Eventually we got a new one. By that time, Danny had other things to be sad and scared about.
Into the Final Nights
An interview with Ben Swainbank on Vampire: the Eternal Struggle by Saleem Halabi
Vampire: the Eternal Struggle Storyline Events are one of the most innovative tournament formats in the collectable card game market. In order to learn more about these contests, I recently sat down and interviewed the new Storyline Event Coordinator, Ben Swainbank. Alright, let’s start off with the basics. What is the Storyline series? Vampire: the Eternal Struggle is card game and a strategy game. However, it’s set in the World of Darkness, and, as card games go, it does a nice job capturing some of the narrative ﬂavor of that world. It has politics, Methuselah trying to sneakily undermine each other, and a violent and vivid combat system. It also had a kind of epic scope so, even though it’s a strategy game and not a role-playing game, there are the elements there where the games are kind of telling a story. Shortly after White Wolf got control of the game, Robert Goudie started organizing these Storyline events. Storyline events are organized so that a scenario is described, including what’s going on and what’s at stake. It could be the fate of the city of Baltimore or a battle to determine which vampires gain control of a power artifact (like the Eye of Hazimel) or even some other event going on in the World of Darkness. Then around the world a series of events are held and the players play a series of games. Special rules are introduced to give some ﬂavor and new dynamics for players to try out. A winner is recorded out of each event, and a tally is made of which game clan or faction is the overall winner. So, after all the games are played, the coordinator takes the results and describes the outcome. The results inﬂuence the story of what happened in the event’s aftermath. The winning clan generally gets a reward in the game as well, such as a new card that helps them in some way. As the Storyline coordinator, what exactly is it that you do? The coordinator’s job is to come up with the plot lines and develop both the story and the rules for the events,
develop some introductory ﬁction that sets the scene, and create event rules that players will enjoy trying. Once the event kicks off, the coordinator collects and collates the results and describes the outcome of the story. What kind of stories can we expect to see in the near future? I won’t spoil the actual plots and stories themselves. We will be integrating the themes of the card sets with the storyline better, so if a new set of cards is being introduced that focuses on the Camarilla or Anarchs, the storyline is going to use those themes and talk about those characters. One difference between telling stories in the roleplaying game and the card game is the scope involved: an RPG campaign is generally about a group of relatively young vampires responding to what is going on in the city or in their area, while in Vampire: the Eternal Struggle the players are Methuselah and are assumed to have those kinds of powers and resources. Implicit in the card game is the idea of the Jyhad and that the events involve, and have drawn the attention of, four or ﬁve Methuselah. So the stakes are higher, and for a storyline event, the stakes may be higher still. What is a “meta-plot” topic in the RPG is plot for a Storyline Event. Coming up with stories on that scale is part of the challenge, and part of the fun, of designing Storyline Events. When did you ﬁrst start playing Vampire: the Eternal Struggle? I’ve been playing it all along, since the game ﬁrst came out in 1994. For years I only played with three friends of
mine from high school. During the “dark times” before White Wolf took over—and when the game wasn’t being supported—we kept things fresh by making up rules variants and taunting each other with little stories about our in-game triumphs and defeats. Those guys are pretty amused that I’m now doing that in an ofﬁcial capacity. Do you have a favorite clan or even a speciﬁc card that you love to play? I don’t have a favorite clan. Really, my favorite thing to play is with whatever the newest cards are. I like the new toys. I love that the game has so many viable strategies and options, and new ones are getting introduced all the time. I like to play the decks that are new and hopefully have a few surprises for me and my opponents. Fortunately, the game is so rich that, even after all these games and all these years, there still plenty of decks and tactics to try out. There are a few old cards that show up in most of my decks. I’ve almost always got room for Jake Washington and a few Weighted Walking Stick. Erciyes Fragment is another personal favorite.
THE GOOD OLD DAYS
A COMPILATION OF EXCERPTS FROM EXALTED: DREAMS OF THE FIRST AGE
At long last, we get a glance at the power and wonder that existed before the Usurpation! Exalted: Dreams of the First Age will come as a 3-book boxed set that will make the wait worthwhile, and then some. But before you get to see the First Age in its full glory, I thought you deserved a sneak peak of what is awaiting you. Powers that will make the mightiest charms of the second age look like child’s play, artifacts that dwarf entire cities, and a magic-ﬁlled lifestyle so lavish that even the most nasal, snooty sounding voiceover from the E network couldn’t possibly do it justice. But don’t take my word for it; just take a look at these choice excerpts I’ve handpicked for you. I’m afraid I can’t show you the best-of-the-best just yet, but this should be enough to whet your appetites for the time being. Enjoy!
In the First Age, the science and art of weapon manufacture has been raised to dizzying heights, with the result that magical weapons that will one day be considered priceless artifacts are sometimes given out as graduation presents to friends or even acquaintances after their commencement from a military academy. In this era, a vast infrastructure exists for the creation and maintenance of artifact weapons. As a consequence, anyone sufﬁciently wealthy can purchase minor magical weapons. A mortal could wield an artifact weapon, provided he can afford one, he can get the permit to carry one and he can ﬁgure out to attune one. The last requirement is not as onerous as it sounds. In this era, many mortals have been trained to manipulate Essence in minor ways sufﬁcient to attune a low-level
magical device. Furthermore, the technology exists to dedicate a hearthstone to a magical weapon so that anyone can use it, although such dedicated hearthstones are prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthiest of Exalted. Modifying a magical device so that it will function properly in mortal hands increases the Arsenal rating of the item by one and also requires the character to dedicate a hearthstone with a rating equal to the item’s adjusted rating to its operation.
The Solar Deliberative classiﬁes magical weapons and armaments based on their power and versatility. This classiﬁcation is represented mechanically by the device’s Arsenal rating. It is trivially simple for any Celestial Exalt to acquire an Arsenal rating of 1 or 2, and if such a character begins without any dots in Arsenal, it is because he has simply not bothered to ﬁll out the requisite paperwork. Technically, there is a ﬁve-day waiting period before even an Exalt can legally purchase Essence-projecting weapons, but that restriction is seldom enforced against Celestial Exalts with any degree of inﬂuence. Simpler artifact weapons such as daiklaves and powerbows can be acquired in an afternoon once an Exalt has registered the weapons with I AM. The Arsenal Background doesn’t just represent the character’s ability to outﬁt himself with powerful weapons. It also represents his ability to outﬁt any troops he has as part of his Command Background. If the character’s Arsenal and Wealth ratings are each two dots higher than he needs to acquire a particular weapon and his Arsenal rating is higher than his Command rating, he can supply such weapons to his troops in sufﬁcient numbers to add bonus dice in mass combat. Trait Effects: X None. Your troops (if you have any) must make do with mundane swords and armor… and hope that no Fair Folk show up. Personally, you have access to minor thaumaturgical talismans and alchemical potions that are unregulated by the Deliberative and that you can easily afford even without Celestial resources. • You possess basic magical armor and weapons, as well as more powerful thaumaturgical talismans. You can arrange for select mortal retainers to receive gunzosha armor, but you don’t have clearance to ﬁeld an entire gunzosha unit. Such armaments have a Wealth cost of 1 if the character is supplying the retainers himself. •• You can acquire personal Essence-discharge weapons or magical power armor such as common warstriders or dragon armor. You can arm your
soldiers with minor thaumaturgical talismans, ashigaru armor or alchemical weapons in sufﬁcient numbers to add a +1 bonus to the unit’s Might. Such armaments have a Wealth cost of 2 if the character is supplying the unit herself. ••• You can acquire magical siege weapons, ﬁeld Essence-weapons or a noble warstrider. You can purchase personal ﬂying or aquatic craft with military capabilities. You can equip your soldiers with more sophisticated thaumaturgical weapons or outﬁt enough soldiers with gunzosha armor to add a +2 bonus to the unit’s Might. Such armaments have a Wealth cost of 3 if the character is supplying the unit herself.
UNASSAILABLE AEGIS OF DUAL ARMAMENT
Cost: 10m, 1wp; Mins: Melee 5, Essence 5; Type: Simple Keywords: Combo-Basic, Counterattack, Obvious Duration: One scene Prerequisite Charms: Dipping Swallow Defense, Melee Essence Flow The Solar weapon master also knows how best to use her off hand. If she’s using a shield, she automatically deﬂects any non-perfect blockable attack. While wielding an off-hand weapon, she may use it to counterattack against any close-range attack. The character’s main hand must wield a close-combat weapon and her off hand must hold either a close-combat weapon or a shield in order for the Solar to gain this Charm’s beneﬁt.
Cost: 8m; Mins: Occult 5, Essence 5; Type: Supplemental Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious Duration: Instant Prerequisite Charms: Occult Essence Flow, SpiritDetecting Glance The Solar’s Martial Arts or Melee attack disrupts Charms and sorcery. If the attack has a raw damage at least four times the minimum Essence of the weakest power affecting her target, the Lawgiver may pay a Willpower
point to lose those damage dice, but shatter the effect. If more than one effect may potentially be shattered, the attacker may choose which to destroy, but this Charm grants no knowledge in itself of how to identify the effects on her target.
TRANSCENDENT GAIAN HARMONY
Cost: None; Mins: Medicine 6, Essence 6, Breeding 5; Type: Permanent Keywords: Elemental, Purity Duration: Permanent Prerequisite Charms: Most Beneﬁcent Seed of the Five Dragons Beyond mere modulations of aspect, Transcendent Gaian Harmony exploits the inherent interconnectedness of the Elemental Dragons as part of a greater whole. Upon purchasing this Charm, the Exalt permanently gains the anima power of a chosen aspect and no longer has to pay the surcharge to use Charms of that aspect. Whenever he uses a Charm with different effects per aspect, he may choose which known element to express. Charm clusters purchased separately by element are not affected. This Charm does not actually change the Exalt’s aspect, it merely permits incorporation of subsidiary elements. Characters can purchase this Charm once per dot of Essence they have above 5, allowing a theoretical
Cost: 8m, 1wp; Mins: Dexterity 6, Essence 6; Type: Simple Keywords: Obvious, Wyld Duration: One scene Prerequisite Charms: Mist-Walking Prana Stewards know the ﬂaws in the world. With this Charm, the Lunar detects cracks in the Wyld and may walk through them to travel short distances. For the rest of the scene, she may travel up to (Essence x 10) yards without crossing the intervening space as a Move action. She need make no movement—she simply changes location. This translation through space is so unnoticeable and unpredictable that she automatically succeeds at attempts to reestablish surprise made with such a movement.
Essence 9 Dragon-Blood to integrate all ﬁve elements. Savants postulate that a sixth purchase might facilitate evolution into an entirely new type of being. “But John! What about our star-gazing, boardbreaking, empire-toppling friends, the Sidereals? Where are their new Charms?” A fair question. I’m sure that our more metaplotsavvy readers have guessed by now the reason for the strange omission; the Manual of Exalted Power: Sidereals contains every charm they know already! ‘Tis true, their powers are set in stone (or perhaps written in the stars, as it were). But don’t fret, astrology fans; though the Sidereals get the short end of the starmetal staff in this regard, they are anything but ignored. In the First Age, the advisors to the Solar Deliberative had plenty of powerful resources to call upon. Below is one such perk of the job: a manse upgrade for the Exalt on the go!
GATE OF AUSPICIOUS PASSAGE (SIDEREAL FAVORED)
Craft (Magitech) 6; Structures: Geomantic Nexus The manse serves as a travel hub for one of the fabled gates of auspicious passage (The Books of Sorcery, Vol. I—Wonders of the Lost Age, p. 50). Prior to coming online, the gate must be precisely calibrated to its network with extensive research and programming as an extended (Intelligence + Lore) with a roll interval of one week and a cumulative difﬁculty of (100 x the total number of gates in the network, including this new one). If the character hasn’t done this before and doesn’t have guidance from someone who has, double the cumulative difﬁculty. Once it has been properly linked to the gate network, the artifact allows instantaneous teleportation to or from any other gate on the network through the non-space of Elsewhere, needing only a successful difﬁculty 1 (Intelligence + Lore) roll to select the intended destination.
For each minute a gate remains open as a one-way portal to its destination, it drains 25 energy points from the combined geomantic relays providing Essence. Once the gate runs out of energy points or a controller on either end terminates the connection, the four-yard-diameter portal collapses, and the drained relays gradually restore the network’s spent output at the rate of one point per hour. While a manse has an open portal, it cannot be targeted as a valid destination by other gates.
His ﬁrst incarnation was killed for deceit at the dawn of the Primordial War, but Desus never learns. Never an introspective man, the famous Eclipse doesn’t really consider what he’s doing when he’s being manipulative. He doesn’t rationalize lies to himself because he hardly notices them—they’re just his way. Desus has long since learned how to frame just about any action as virtuous, or at least ﬁnd a reason that’ll explain it to others, and he’s usually ﬁrmly convinced even himself that deceiving his close friend or torturing his mate was totally justiﬁed. Those who meet this Solar quickly internalize his justiﬁcations and tend to think of him as goodhearted in a somewhat sideways way. They might understand that many of the things he does would be wrong if someone else did them—but when Desus does them, either they don’t seem so bad or it’s assumed he must have had a good reason. And yet, Desus isn’t quite a sociopath. In the case of his Lunar wife, Lilith, for instance, Desus loves her more than anyone else in the world. He’s just never had any reason to learn to control his casual sadism: She’ll take the pain, she’ll never complain, and she’ll keep loving him, so why shouldn’t he mete it out? Indeed, the Eclipse has accomplished feats of astonishing heroism. During the Primordial War, he went alone to negotiate with the troublesome behemoth Oliphem. Desus’s goldentongued arguments (and swift suckerpunch) made that ﬁght a legend, and him the toast of the Exalted Host. His in37
spired genius was critical to dealing with the diplomatic pitfalls of the Period of Long Silence. Every century or so, he goes on another highly visible quest to keep up his star power. He seems to have a sixth sense for those that will make him look perfect. For the sake of his circlemates, particularly Bright Shattered Ice, Desus often votes alongside the Faithful, but he’s not really in line with any faction. (He does have some sympathy for the Cauldronists and the Divisives, though.) Thus, as long as he can appear to be in the Faithful camp, he’ll occasionally sneakily support another cause: perhaps by saying one thing in front of the Deliberative, while using body language to telegraph a subconsvciously received message that says the opposite. His major services to Creation are his very visible quests. Desus avoids overseeing his Southeastern estate as much as possible, spending his time mainly on exciting politics and romantic jaunts with Lilith. (His obvious devotion to his wife is publicly admired, sometimes even held up as a romantic standard.) His Eastern-golden skin is further tanned by the Southern sun, and his hair lightened to a medium gold-brown. He’s unbelievably handsome in a sinister kind of way, but no one ever takes his devilish grin for the warning it is.
THE INGENIOUS TEMPLES OF THE COPPER SPIDERS
This name refers to two identical temples—one in each half of the Twilight Archdiocese—built in the shape of enormous pattern spiders. Each temple is located at the north and south nexus of the Web footbridge network. During the Autumn Dirge Reminiscence, these temples descend from the Web on ﬁlaments of Essence and lead the march to Hero Monuments Park. This temple is located within the black crown of the Eclipse Archdiocese, at the pinnacle of Quiet Meru. Our worship services are often silent meditations on the rotating solar corona that hovers above our altar. On an unrelated note, our temple resonates with our caste ability to bind a speaker to any oath he makes aloud while he stands within its conﬁnes, and the solar corona ﬂares whenever an oath is spoken in the temple.
Religious Places and Customs in the City of Meru
Every neighborhood in Meru has at least one allpurpose temple in it where Exalted and mortal alike may offer their respects to the gods of Yu-Shan whose devotion to their proper duty upholds the foundation of this world we rule. (The schedule of ofﬁcial holy days and recognition ceremonies at these shrines is determined every Calibration for the year to follow.) Every diocese has at least one temple dedicated to each of the Five Maidens, to Luna and to the uniﬁed Elemental Dragons. Most importantly, each of the ﬁve major archdioceses of Meru is home to one of Creation’s preeminent temples to the Unconquered Sun.
THE SILENT TEMPLE OF THE QUICKSILVER FALCON
THE ETERNAL TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN BULL
The Eternal Temple of the Golden Bull, built at one of the highest stable points in the city proper, is the central seat of our worship of the Unconquered Sun. This vast ediﬁce of gold, amber glass and white marble reﬂects Our Lord’s glory to all points of Creation from sunrise to sunset. With the right equipment, every point in Creation is visible from the top of this temple’s highest spire.
AUTUMN DIRGE REMINISCENCE
This somber march commemorates Celestial Exalted heroes who have fallen in service to or defense of Creation. The march begins from two separate points (beneath each of the Ingenious Temples of the Copper Spiders) and converges on Hero Monuments Park in the Morning Shadow Archdiocese. It takes place on the night of the ﬁrst crescent moon in the month of Ascending Water. During this ill-omened period of the year, it’s traditional for every Solar Exalt in Meru to withdraw to the Eclipse Archdiocese for a period of reﬂection and meditation. A feast is held every night in the Banquet Hall of Responsible Meditation. Meanwhile, Calibration is the only time during which mortals are allowed to set foot on the golden pathways normally reserved for us.
The most ardent God-Tending Itinerants spend every day traveling from temple to shrine to shrine to temple, celebrating some noteworthy god’s holy day. This guidebook is no place to try to list every minor religious event in our city. I AM can provide you this year’s comprehensive list. You can, however, count on the following ceremonies and services taking place regularly:
Every temple of the Unconquered Sun, from your parish temple to the Eternal Temple of the Golden Bull itself, holds mass four times daily: at dawn, at midday, at sunset and at midnight.
Ascendancy is the yearlong festival that occurs every 25 years in celebration of our victory over the Primordials. Each Ascendancy celebrates the contributions of one of the Solar castes to the war effort, lionizing survivors of that caste from that era and venerating those who fell in the conﬂict or have fallen since. The Victory Parade—consisting of enslaved demons, paradestriders, captured behemoths, visiting gods, available Solar heroes and more—winds its way from the Eternal Temple of the Golden Bull, down around the Mountain to the base over the course of that year.
After Calibration when we emerge from the Eclipse Archdiocese, we hold a parade around the outer perimeter of the Zenith Ring. Year’s Dawning lacks the pageantry of an Ascendancy parade, but it’s still a nice gesture. It reassures the rest of Meru (and Creation) that we are still strong and everlasting.
A Star League of Their Own
An interview with Zach Walters on the Eve: the Second Genesis CCG By Saleem Halabi When does league play In anticipation of the ofﬁcially begin? inaugural season of the EVE: Like I said, we’re the Second Genesis league, I looking to start up in Janrecently sat down with the EVE uary, and plan to run for Organized Play Coordinator, three months. Zack Walters, to pick his brain with my mining turret. You’ll Does the new league never guess what kind of ore have a catchy name? I found. We decided to call First off, can you each three-month season a please state your name and “Mind Clash season,” after job title? the most popular sport in the EVE universe. Why the formality? I don’t think I’ve been asked to “state What can you tell the readmy name” since I was last in ers about the general structure a courthouse. [laughs] of the upcoming league? What is the current status Players can expect to of the upcoming league? play in at least one tournament (ideally two) per Well, we’re currently, as month. Each tournament of this writing, in the midst will be self-contained and of a short league that will receive its own prize supbe proving the format to the port, but each player’s ﬁnal higher-ups. When the appoint total will be recorded proval comes back down from and tracked for the whole above (and it will, things are the season. At the end going very well) we will be The best way for players to go ofofeach three month period, ready to roll out a new league about starting a local group is to the players with the highest in January. demonstrate the game. Go into totals will win some How many groups do you a store or game club and offer to point major prizes. The best players have out there play testing for teach the game to anyone who in the test league are slated the league? has a spare moment. One of to receive a copy of The Art There are currently four groups testing the waters for EVE’s strengths is that it draws of EVE. Players should keep new players in very quickly. in mind this is all subject to me: two in the US, one in change, of course. the UK and one in Poland. Will there be seasons? All four were eager for the chance to help me out, Yes. Given the three-month timeframe of each and they’re doing a great job running the games and season, we’re looking at a total of four per year. reporting back to me.
How can people ﬁnd a local tournament venue? The best way for players to ﬁnd a place to meet up is the check the retailers list on the Second Genesis website. The forums there are also a great way to keep abreast of sudden scheduling changes and ﬂoating games. What if there isn’t a local venue. How can a group of players go about creating one? The best way for players to go about starting a local group is to demonstrate the game. Go into a store or game club and offer to teach the game to anyone who has a spare moment. One of EVE’s strengths is that it draws new players in very quickly. Once a group has at least ﬁve players, they should speak with the store manager/club organizer about hosting regular tournaments. What is your favorite faction? I’m a big fan of the Serpentis cards, but there’s just something about the Guristas’ access to highly offensive ships that draws me in.
What is your favorite card, and why? My favorite card is probably the Blackbird. I think it’s often overlooked, but it’s one of the nastier ships in the Core Set. Do you have a preferred deck strategy? I like to use ship and card abilities to keep my opponents from withdrawing and slowly dismantle them with my frigates and destroyers. Given the highly strategic nature of the game’s combat, I ﬁnd this can trip up most other strategies. Thank you very much Zack for sharing your valuable time with us today, and for giving the readers valuable insight into the future of the EVE CCG. For the latest, up-to-date information regarding EVE: The Second Genesis and its upcoming league, be sure to check out the official website at http://www.eve-ccg.com .
I’m a big fan of the Serpentis cards, but there’s just something about the Guristas’ access to highly offensive ships that draws me in.
MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD
Fan submission winners
And now, dear readers, we reach my favorite section of any eQuarterly: the fan submissions! You, the fans, are really what these games are all about. It’s your imaginations that bring these worlds to vibrant life, your enthusiasm that brings the role playing community together, and your love of the games that lets us keep making them for you year after year. We had a lot of great entries this time, and I would have loved to include even more of them, but alas even the mighty Editor in Chief has limits. So to those who did not make the cut this time, don’t despair! Keep writing, keep submitting, and you’ll see your story in the quarterly some day. Here are the winners of the Winter 2007 fan submission competition. Enjoy!
“Next!” by James S. Cole “Trash Goblin” by Jordan Troy “Erembour” by Richard Javier Stephenson “Magicka” by Ken Harrison
“A Shame” Vampire: the Requiem fan fiction by Marc Caron “Damnation Waits” Exalted fan fiction by Michael Osborne “A Whisper of Truth” Vampire: the Requiem fan fiction by Karen Fenech “Root Beer” Changeling: the Lost fan fiction by Sean Steele
Art by the Fans
James S. Cole
“Erembour” Richard Javier Stephenson
Jordan Troy “Magicka”
by Marc Caron
Maxwell’s mind raced as he paced through the deserted night of downtown. Flickering streetlamps bathed the empty streets in dim light, the shadows fading into the empty store windows and dark alleys in the background. He had decided against the usual limousine, opting instead to walk for a few miles. Maxwell ﬁgured the long walk would help clear his head in preparation for his meeting. He had been wary of any member of the Circle for quite some time: he thought them unnatural, their magic and rituals far too out of place among the rest of the kindred. He especially worried about Ravielle: with her clan’s penchant for decadence and legendary superiority complex, it would only take one lapse of judgment or slip of the tongue to draw her ire. While he maintained his calm, cordial disposition in their presence, behind closed doors he whispered in trusted ears his true feelings about them. He hoped that his thoughts had not reached their ever prying attention. Though he would never outright say it, in many ways he feared the Covenant. Maxwell had existed for countless centuries, perfecting both his mental and physical powers of the supernatural and mundane arts while accumulating knowledge of mortal and-more importantly- vampire society. Maxwell had a vast knowledge of nearly all the kindred covenants, their strengths and weaknesses, the powers they possessed, and how they most often employed them. Yet the Circle of the Crone still eluded him. They kept to themselves, keeping their knowledge and their practices closely guarded, letting slip only enough information that was necessary for people to respect and fear them. He had, however, seen their curses in action on a few occasions, and from these brief demonstrations Maxwell knew that at no point did he want to be on the receiving end. Maxwell was so deep in his thoughts he did not even notice the ﬁgure emerge from the dark alleyway ahead and step directly into his path. Keeping his pace, he inadvertently walked right into the man, the force of the impact momentarily throwing him off balance. Annoyed with the minor inconvenience, Maxwell pushed past the man and continued on toward his destination. Suddenly, the man’s hand shot out and wrapped tightly around his shoulder. “Where do you think you’re goin’, moneybags?” the thug barked out in a menacing tone. Maxwell’s eyes glanced down at the hand on his shoulder. It was dirty and rough, obviously tired and worn from the pains of hard labor this mortal had been forced to endure throughout his short lifetime. The audacity of this man to touch him uninvited with such ﬁlth caused a seething anger to build inside of Maxwell. He felt the Beast within howl with a rage this mortal would never fathom. After taking a brief moment to regain his composure, Maxwell turned around to face the man, looking at a stark example of wretched humanity, a fool who believes he’s the top of the food chain while not understanding his proper place as prey.
The man reached into his pocket, pulling out a switchblade and extending it in one quick, threatening motion, a glint of malice in his eyes. Maxwell cautioned a look around and saw no other mortals; as keen as he was on confronting this man, he wouldn’t dare risk a breach of the Masquerade by letting the humans see him in action. Upon the realization that he was free to act as he pleased, he did his best to hide a small grin. “How about you give me your wallet so I don’t have to cut you up?” the mugger “suggested.” “No,” Maxwell retorted bluntly, with no particular emotion in his voice. “What, you think this is a joke, fucker? Gimme your shit now!” “No.” “Last chance. Hand over your wallet and jewelry and maybe I’ll show some mercy.” He looked nervous and agitated now, glancing over his shoulder anxiously. “I am in no need of your mercy.” “Fine, have it your way!” The assailant clenched his grip on Maxwell’s shoulder and pulled him down, plunging the knife as hard as he could into his chest, cleaving through the expensive fabric of his tailored shirt. The blade hit home. Maxwell never ﬂinched, except to smirk brieﬂy at the expression on the man’s face as he retracted his weapon. The blade had dulled out and bent at the tip, as if it had stabbed a brick wall. Mouth agape, the man staggered back a few feet, letting his would-be victim go. Trembling, he dropped the broken knife and pulled a gun from his coat pocket, pointing it at Maxwell. He hesitated for a moment, frantically debating whether to run or ﬁght, before pulling the trigger. The muzzle ﬂash of the revolver lit up the street, the alltoo-common sound of gunfire echoing into the night. Maxwell could feel the bullet as
it impacted against him, the molten metal simply folding in on itself as it crashed uselessly into his unnaturally resilient body. Maxwell glanced down as the ruined slug bounced off his chest and onto the asphalt, a small trail of smoke rising from its ruined form. The fresh hole in his shirt plainly showed his bare chest exposed underneath, untouched. “Wha… What the fuck are you!?” the mortal stammered in disbelief. Maxwell looked directly into the man’s eyes, letting his gaze bore into his pupils with that all too familiar feeling of power pulsing through his veins. He felt his attacker’s mind shatter underneath the mental onslaught, emptying him of all free will. Dropping the gun, the man’s eyes glazed over as he stood up straight and looked directly at Maxwell, an unblinking and expressionless stare. Maxwell narrowed his eyes at his erstwhile mugger and brieﬂy considered his options. “Pick that back up. And then… shoot yourself. That’s it… rid the world of your stupidity.” Maxwell turned and resumed his walk to Ravielle’s haven, getting a few steps away before he heard the loud report of a single gunshot, followed by the sickly sound of blood splattering against the pavement and the heavy thud of a body collapsing. “A shame, I really liked this shirt.”
BY MICHAEL OSBORNE
Seated at a massive vanity of ancient dark oak, Pristine Blossom studied her reﬂection, attempting to discover the answer to her dilemma in the gentle contours of her face. Cerulean eyes gazed back at her, darting and dancing about her face in a desperation. From her arched eyebrows to her sensuous mouth she could ﬁnd no hidden answers in her features. Disgusted, Pristine Blossom drew forth her favorite brush from her travel bag and smoothed her hair with counted, measured strokes until it shone like ﬁery gold. Calmed by the monotony of her actions, she turned once again to her reﬂection . She studied the contours and graceful curves of her face, committing as much as she could to memory, wondering whether the monster she was fated to face would render her reﬂection unrecognizable.
Only a gentle swish of silk and the soft sigh of slippers meeting stone marked the tender passage of Pristine Blossom. Treading carefully and delicately between the pillars of dark stone, her mind shivered. Wrapped up in her own troubles, Pristine Blossom failed to even register the cries of suffering emanating from the surrounding cells, cries that would have pulled terribly at her only a short time ago. Such suffering was
inconsequential to her now; the very real possibility of her own tormented screams joining the cacophony about her consumed her thoughts and attention. Pristine Blossom’s mind was so captivated with the events that would soon play out at the end of the hall that she failed to notice the pitying looks on the faces of her escort. Gazing at the beautiful woman that walked with them, the guards could not comprehend how such an innocent girl could be maliciously fed to the beast that lurked in this prison. As she walked, Pristine Blossom mentally reviewed what little of the censored ﬁles she had been allowed to see concerning her predecessors. Some had died horribly, their bodies mutilated and partially consumed before the attending guards thought to check on their welfare. Others had survived the ordeal, but it would take many years for them to heal the crippling injuries the beast had inﬂicted upon them. The disturbingly thoughtful accuracy of these scenes as recorded in the ﬁle had lodged deep in her mind, and rose like a wrathful banshee in her dreams every night. As she approached the ﬁnal corner in her long walk toward Omega Cell, Pristine Blossom thought back to the pretty girl in her mirror, and could not help but wonder if she would ever see her again.
Gathered near the heavily reinforced door sealing Omega Cell, three elders of the Bronze Faction spoke quietly amongst themselves. Each an ancient Sidereal, conversations between the three had decided the fate of kings and kingdoms alike. Today, their dialogue centered on one young exalt and the perilous task set before her. Serenity, one of the secret leaders of the Immaculate Order, bowed respectfully to his master Chejop Kejak, and to Sedir Arondi, Kejak’s guest. Glancing again at the Omega Cell’s battered door, the monk decided to voice his concerns to Kejak, one last time. “Master, I do not think this course of action is wise. The girl hasn’t even lived a full century yet. She has a solid grasp of several celestial styles, but she cannot defend herself against the beast behind that door.” Chejop Kejak turned his thoughtful eyes to his subordinate and smiled. “I understand your objections, but we are running out of time. It has cost us much to keep this hidden from the Gold Faction, and I cannot maintain this secret much longer. They are very close to foisting one of their deluded members onto the Capital Convention. If that happens, you don’t need me to tell you the repercussions we will face in Yu-Shan for keeping the beast alive.” “My Lord, with all due respect, this thing is a monster. I cannot tell you the number of times it has come close to getting past me. Every time we ﬁght it edges closer to the day that I will not be able to stop it. I’ve already had to utilize Sidereal styles just to keep it in check. The day may come when even that won’t be enough. To send this girl in there alone…” “You no longer believe that the beast can be saved?” Chejop stared intently at the monk and smiled. “You do not believe in sacriﬁcing lost souls unnecessarily, and you have not given up: it just isn’t in your nature. But the journey continues, my friend, and I need you to walk it with me just a little longer.”
Serenity bowed in solemn respect before his master. “Your path is my path; for as long as the Maidens deem, I shall walk it.” Remembering his master’s guest, Serenity turned quickly to the silent Sidereal and offered his apologies. “Sedir Arondi, I ask your forgiveness for my outburst. I should not bore you with my personal misgivings.” “No apology is necessary, Master Serenity,” Arondi sneered through a fake grin. “I am merely thankful that Master Kejak allowed me to be present today. To be honest, I was quite surprised that my former assistant volunteered for such a hazardous undertaking. She always struck me as a little too reserved…if you catch my meaning.” Serenity turned harshly towards the small diplomat, fully intending to berate the man for casting doubt on the courage of a girl willing to do something Arondi himself was unwilling to do. The monk closed his ﬁsts and opened his mouth, his retort ready to spill past his lips, but his master spoke ﬁrst. “Oh, I think our young friend has changed a great deal since her time in your service, Sedir.” Chejop Kejak let the phrase linger in the air. Serenity added his voice to his master’s. “I imagine that is very true master, I spoke with her yesterday and sensed a remarkable, quiet strength in her.” Sedir Arondi countered, his tone growing sour, “She has always had the ability to appear more capable than she really is, my good Serenity. In fact, while she was in my service…” Before Sedir could continue, four armed guards entered, signaling that the ritual was about to begin.
As she turned the corner and began the long walk down the ﬁnal hall to her destination, Pristine Blossom noticed the face of Sedir Arondi leering towards her from among the small group of elders waiting by the last cell. The steady cadence of her steps faltered slightly as she
realized the implications of his presence. Arondi smirked at her, turning to resume his conversation with the elder next to him. Her ﬁsts clenched hard and tight, Pristine Blossom fought to keep her center calm. Fury rose within her as Arondi’s eyes ﬂashed in triumph. His pettiness and ego had driven him beyond all reason. She knew now with absolute certainty that all her troubles over the last year could be laid at his doorstep. He was behind it all: her celestial audit, her reassignment to a less important post, and now this, the last disgraceful, hopeless mission that had a very real chance of ending her life. Pristine Blossom turned her gaze towards Arondi, desperately searching for conﬁrmation that he could not be so loathsome a man as to sentence a young woman to death or disﬁgurement merely because she did not want his stink on her naked ﬂesh. Her eyes found his. In them she could see his utter conviction, his secret triumph against someone whom he believed had truly wronged him, his total pleasure at vanquishing another foe who had dared to cross him. Coming to a complete halt, proper decorum tossed aside, Pristine Blossom stared at the silken slippers enfolding her delicate feet. With tears threatening to spill forth, she squeezed her eyes in quiet desperation. She spoke to herself, repeating over and over again the phrases of her Sutra of Tranquility: “The Maiden of Serenity chose me as her instrument. I will not cast doubt upon her choice with fear…” She mouthed the words over and over, and at last the cold grace of absolute calm descended upon her, banishing fear and doubt. She lifted her head, her eyes seeking Arondi among the elders. His vermin eyes met hers, his smile falling when he found no fear within them.
welled up inside him in cyclonic fury as he thought of the bald monk who had left him broken and bloody so many times before. The monk came to his cell alone every week and sat calmly, preaching nonsense about fate and the beast’s appointed place in the universe. The only time his foe ever came with others was when… A howl ripped forth from the beast’s throat with such ferocity and malice that he heard a weapon clatter to the ﬂoor as at least one of the guards ﬂed down the hall. The beast ﬂashed a dagger-toothed grin. Someone new was coming to visit him, someone to feed the rage, to bleed, to die.
Pristine Blossom stood before the cell door. Though the otherworldly cry tore at her concentration, she was calm. She turned to the trio of elders and bowed a ﬁnal time. Rising from her bow, her eyes met each of theirs. Staring into the inﬁnite wisdom of Chejop Kejak’s face,
Inside Omega Cell the howling ceased. The beast could hear the ancient ones speaking quietly outside his prison. He could hear the pitiful human guards shifting clumsily in their armor, he could almost smell the sweat cascading down their backs. He could hear the strange inﬂection in the voice of his foe echo softly outside the door. The rage
she felt humbled. She sensed no malice within him, and could only assume he had been misled into authorizing her mission. Such issues no longer mattered. Her destiny awaited her on the other side of the door, and she would not be found wanting. Pristine Blossom turned to the three guards and waited for them to open the door. One of them shifted a discarded spear from the door’s path and returned to his position beside the others. Omega Cell was silent as the door screeched open. When Pristine Blossom peered inside, she almost managed not to scream.
Serenity stood vigil outside Omega Cell for what seemed, to him, like an eternity. Little sound emanated from within, and ﬁnally, he heard a faint tapping upon the door to Omega Cell. Moving closer, he was surprised to hear a weak voice call to him faintly. “Serenity, if you can hear me, this is Pristine Blossom. Please open the door. I am ready to come out.” Chejop Kejak and Sedir Arondi answered his summons quickly, and all three were standing outside the cell within moments. A slight nod from Kejak instructed Serenity to open the door. He nearly tripped as he stumbled away from the opening. In his wake, Pristine Blossom strode conﬁdently from the cell completely intact, her beauty barely marred by her time with the beast. A well-developed bruise splashed across her left check, and her pouting lower lip bore a vicious split. As she moved forward, all three elders gasped to see the beast’s bulk filling the doorway behind her. Without warning the beast lunged, trapping Sedir Arondi against the wall, sending the mortal guards screaming and running for their lives. Its claws shone like mercury as it caught the diplomat by the throat and lifted him off his feet. With three savage blows, Arondi’s body was reduced to a bloody, unconscious heap. What little was left of his tattered face was almost unrecognizable.
The beast dropped Arondi and turned to gaze at the other elders with hateful eyes. The beast leapt, its claws ﬂashing in the light as they hurtled towards Kejak’s throat. As Serenity threw himself forward, desperate to stop the slash that descended towards his master, a simple word stopped the frothing beast. “No.” Claws nearly touching the ancient Sidereal, the beast froze at Pristine Blossom’s command. It backed away, head bowed in submission as Pristine Blossom gracefully walked to the beast with a tilted smile. She placed a gentle hand on the monster’s chest, directly over its heart. Turning towards Chejop Kejak, she spoke in a clear voice, “Most esteemed elders, allow me to present…Perdition.” The beast roared in unending fury and unbridled rage. Its black, carapace-like skin shone as if freshly polished; the wide, serrated ﬂange running down its back arched outward in response to its howl. The monster’s extreme height and bulk made Pristine Blossom appear childlike beside it., but it ceased its thunderous roar at a few cloy words from her lips. Chejop Kejak strode toward the mismatched pair with conﬁdence. He received Pristine Blossom’s respectful bow with a smile, which only widened as she bade the beast to bow as well. “How?” Kejak asked, an approving, yet puzzled, expression crossing his brow. Now it was Pristine Blossom who smiled. “Innocence.”
A Whisper of Truth
Matthew Malachi sat in the dim bookshop, the only light a pale blue-white glow emanating from the computer. The machine dominated the desk, which was like a cast off from some college professor’s ofﬁce. Though he locked the door hours ago, time of day made little difference in this world of books and shadows. There were seldom any customers, and those few that arrived were always quiet, skulking mice, cowed by the deep shadows and thick tomes. But Matthew was conscious of none of this, having immersed himself in web searches and those books he never let the customers see, trying to find what these tomes never held. They were always wrong, inaccurate. Secrets that could never be revealed were never found out this way, though sometimes traces could be found in old histories or myths and fairytales. No, the only things he found in these interminable web searches were the lies that those of his kind, and even he himself, had entered into this ‘modern’ culture. Because of his kind’s concerted works, the Vampire could now go about business more openly than ever before. The brilliance of these lies! Who had come up with the ‘myth’ that vampires were created in Atlantis as immortal living libraries to teach the young and carry the knowledge of the master craftsmen? That was a beautifully crafted lie. It had thrown him off course for months. Even still, he kept his eyes open for more sup-
by Karen Fenech
porting data, knowing the myth to be false. But the truth would be unexpected. This world was ﬁlled with hidden nightmares parents use to scare their children: vampires, ancient Gods, ghosts, and, as rumor had it, werewolves. These mundane humans seldom knew the true dangers that lurked behind every corner. The daily web search was merely an exercise to allow his ﬁngers to follow routine paths towards new rumors in a constant attempt to ﬁnd that inﬁnitesimal kernel of truth the best rumors always contained. Like a mantra, this humdrum perusal permitted his brain to ponder those questions that truly interested him. They say that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, and he wanted to know the true history of the Clans before he was doomed. M a t t h e w searched for the root of the Clans. What makes a Clan? What separates a Clan from a bloodline? If a bloodline became adequately powerful, could a new Clan form? There are five Clans now, were there once more? Less? Where did they go, where did they come from, why were they created? Who could have been powerful enough to create them, and who might be powerful enough in the future? What was that final ingredient that truly made a Clan? Perhaps Auspex, his own power, granted to him through his own Clan, was merely a bloodline discipline once, long ago.
Perhaps the vampires known as VII were not just destroyers of the new bloodlines, but a secret order in a league of secret orders, created to keep the Clans from falling into chaos by an uncontrolled uprising of new Clans. Perhaps there was also a grain of truth in the rumors of the lost vampires of old, the vampires of the Camarilla. It was said that they were bloodthirsty, barbaric, destroyers of culture. What if VII had grown out of this chaos, grooming the Clans from this barbaric history? Or what if these lost vampires weren’t so barbaric after all? What if these rumors were simply a way to ‘humanely’ write them out of history? It wouldn’t be a ﬁrst. Look at all the religions of the humans: incessantly writing out old gods by changing a few words, dropping a few lines, or creating a ‘sacred marriage’ or two. But perhaps they learned that from us. Matthew sighed, and relaxed into his chair. His tapping ﬁngers had ﬁnished their search for new rumors, and he found himself looking for newer and more interesting pornography. He sighed again. ‘Seen it all before.’ And he let his mind wander back to the question of gods. Humans weren’t the only ones to rewrite Pantheons, or at least sometimes they had help. Vampires were godlike compared to the weak humans, and their rule was often chaotic. What if Rome’s gods reﬂected what had actually happened? What if the Roman Pantheon wasn’t a history of humans inventing gods, but a recording of the history of the vampire? ‘More Myths again, nothing more.’ But how could he prove that the new Clans, formed from especially potent bloodlines, overthrew their parents, the old Clans? And what if VII wasn’t the only remnant of this past, this ancient war, we vampires hid from ourselves? After all, the Circle of the Crone is most likely a fragment of the Camarilla. And Mekhet…ah yes, Mekhet. Could the true Mekhet have survived all this upheaval, or have we never met the true Mekhet? Perhaps it was someone else who now carried that same name…
Matthew reﬂected on his belief that he was a fundamentally wise man; how else to live out these long centuries and continue to live for centuries to come? He had made small talk at Kindred social gatherings that perhaps hadn’t entirely been small talk. But who really did talk only pleasantries at these gatherings? Only those who had nothing-or everything-to hide. No, he had been ﬁshing for future gains. He was searching for the remnants of the Camarilla; for the truth behind all the lies; or perhaps even for a seat in the order of the New Gods when it came, because of course it would come. The old gods, when they stormed the holdings of the interlopers, might also ﬁnd a willing ally in him. His ﬁngers suddenly stopped their incessant staccato, cognizant of the change of atmosphere in the store as his befuddled brain caught up. ‘Was it suddenly quieter?’ Standing in the doorway - hadn’t he already locked up for the night? - stood the sort of woman men lay their lives down for. Her night black hair contrasted with her pale skin, her ﬁgure imposing, her stance graceful and forthright.She ﬁlled the store with her presence in a way Matthew both instinctively worshipped and feared. His body followed the advice of his ﬁngers, and he held absolutely still, knowing any false movement might prove to be his last. “Matthew Malachi,” her scintillating voice fully woke Matthew from his musings and utterly entranced him. ”I come in the name of the divine God Caesar and all that follow Him. You will show me hospitality in His name and My Cup shall overﬂow of Lacrima this night. And at the end of this night, if we ﬁnd you worthy, you may be allowed to walk with us. You may decline our offer, should we choose to extend it. But know this: Once declined, you will not remember this night, and how that comes to be has been left to my discretion.” Matthew Malachi fearfully wondered if all of his hard-won wisdom, knowledge, and unanswered questions would be enough, and how wise he had truly been.
by Sean Kyle Irvin William Steele
Some people swear that the best drinks contain alcohol, but I just can’t agree with them. Maybe before I was taken by Them I’d have agreed, but as is, I now swear by root beer. Beer, whiskey, rum, no matter what you like, I find myself associating all of them with the end of the work week. Friday nights you go into a bar, order your pleasure with the other weary workers, and are just glad to finally be done with the rat race. Once that alcohol hits your system, you are connected to everyone else trying to overcome the week’s hardships. It is a celebration of work being completed. But this is a shallow connection; odds are you’ll never get to know anyone around you. Root beer, though… I share a drink of it whenever I make a friend or toast a departing companion. I bring it to every get-together. I down a bottle to celebrate the end of school and chug another when it begins. Hell, root beer was what got me and mine out of Arcadia, and because of it we took names after different root beer brands, calling ourselves the Root Beer Bandits. We always go to this run down pizza place and enjoy a cup in honor of our escape and our bond, despite going into different courts. Root beer for me is a drink that represents strong ties to friends, strong memories of places, and strong emotions for certain times. Root beer forever tastes different because of this. I drove up to the building, parked my motorcycle, hopped off of it, and immediately spotted Barq’s unhappy face. His flashing teeth and dirty brown muzzle gaped at me forlornly by the door of the apartment complex. “So naturally, Mr. Be-There-As-Quick-As-A-Forest-Fire is the one who’s late,” he snarled to me as I ran my hand through the flames that had replaced my hair, forever trying to make it look like the height of cool instead of horrendously tacky. “Sorry, had to deal with a job for the Queen. You know how ye old Lady in the Standing Lake is: she tells you to jump, you ask how high. On the bright side, there’s one less Hedge arsonist in the world,” I replied. For the most part, it was true. Barq snorted at me and bid me follow. After a moment’s hesitation, I did. We walked down the hall a bit, went into a stairwell, climbed up four floors, and proceeded to the room we had picked for our murderous deed. As soon as I entered, the heckling began, starting with our dear Miss Anita Wight. She promptly teased, “Mr. Iblus Calcifer, so nice of you to join us tonight. Unfortunately
for you, IBC, we have already dispensed of our dopplegangers, and yours got away. We considered chasing it, but we thought you would have no problem killing it with your hot air about being precisely on time.” I rolled my eyes at her, ignoring the shiver I always got when I looked at her, almost grumbling a retort. “Don’t give me that crap A&W, I had an ash run to do,” I sneered playfully. The woman looked like she was made out of the shadows of gravestones, but a certain look of moroseness was promptly lost with her middle finger reply. Mug, our military connection, sniper, and personal bartender, simply sniggered and held up an empty root beer bottle, which for him meant that this was a low blow on my part. Mug never really talked, not since Arcadia, but he didn’t need to: somehow he got his message across just fine. The hope had been that after we killed our fetches, our snow courtier would finally find his voice. “So, they haven’t arrived yet?” I asked. A shaking of heads was all I received in reply, although Mug pointed at his watch, indicating it still wasn’t time. Sighing, I grabbed a sniper rifle and placed it next to the door - my planned position - tension building from the inaction around me. Shortly after we got back, we found out that we each had mimics in our places, and if we got too close to them, they could call that Other that had kept us for so long. Since then, we’ve been making do in our courts, getting tangled up in the goings-on there. A few weeks ago, though, we had a near miss with our fetches, and subsequently our former nightmare lord. We decided then that we were going to get rid of them once and for all. I never told any of the rest, but I felt uneasy about the idea. It felt like this time, any encounter with them, even from far away, would result in our untimely capture. Unlike some of our brothers in the Iron Court, those of us standing with the Mirror had no problem admitting, at least to ourselves, that the Others scared us shitless, and it stood particularly true for me. The thought of the thing that had come out of the Mirror five years ago held me petrified. Were we doing the smart thing? Ultimately, I hadn’t thought so, but I couldn’t blatantly say so. It was no guarantee, but we had to try, right? There weren’t many better options… Mug jarred me from my thoughts as he picked up his gun, unsettling the others as well. His movement told us it was time. The mimics, according to our plan, should
be passing through a clear spot across the street from us, as they always had since they met each other. We waited the length of one breath, two breaths, three breaths… And then the door started to shudder and lurch. And there was no one on the other side. Ultimately, there are two types of cowards in the world. Your first type is a somewhat admirable being, given his overall lack of courage in all other matters. These cowards have no problem admitting the fact that they are coward; they have just enough guts to admit to the world they have an undesirable trait. They suffer ridicule from those who know their cowardice, but these people are still admirable for at least admitting the truth, despite the consequences. And then you get the cowards who can’t even do that. They’re the ones who pretend they can hold their shit, only to let it loose before the shitstorm even begins. These people can’t even brave the pending scorn, and they certainly can’t face the fear of being thought a coward, despite knowing they are. I think tonight defined which of the two I am The door boomed open. An arm, black as oblivion and covered in the skins of insects and arachnids, knocked me to the ground with a force impossible for anything nearly human shaped. It hurt like hell, but it didn’t knocked me out. Damn, that wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to be the first knocked out whenever It appeared. That’s how I always imagined it; that way I wouldn’t have to face failure. It went for Barq first, which was fair because Barq went for it as well, swinging his rifle and shooting whenever it looked like he had it pointed at the impossible shadowthing. But the nightmare lord wasn’t fazed. Thorny vines came out of the bullet holes, and It leapt for him. He swung his rifle, but the thing grabbed it and pulled, tossing it and Barq into the bag around its neck, a fearful container literally lined with sleep and horror. Anita was the second to go, dispensing with her gun altogether and conjuring a rock on top of the thing. It should have been squished, but instead turned into fog and shadow, roiling around her before it came into being again. The shadow-thing pinned her against the wall, giving her a lusty look, the same visage that haunted Anita during her one year in Arcadia. The thing swallowed her too.
M u g went last. Somehow he managed to remain calm, pointed his gun at the thing’s head, and let off shot after shot as quickly as possible. The nightmare lord was against the walls for a long time, and for a second I thought he had killed the thing. But the thing twisted its head around, its mask-like face-one part frog and one part spider- convulsed into a look of pure joy. It rushed Mug, and I finally heard Mug’s voice as he started screaming for God. He was promptly silenced. The nightmare lord then turned to me. It didn’t have eyes, only hollow sockets, but it still stared straight at me. I shit myself right there and then. I didn’t care much though, because I blacked out screaming. The owner of the pizza place wondered aloud where my friends were when I slumped through the door alone. I told him that they were going to be late, but they would still be here all the same, trying to keep my voice from shaking, hoping that by saying it, I could make it true. I had already cried myself out during the hour I spent at my home, all through the shower and the change of clothes. He asked me what we were going to drink, as he always did. I ordered a root beer for each of them, and a beer for me.
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