Asleep No More
A Campaign for Mage: The Awakening
Dallas, the Free City
We now take our first steps into the Free City of Dallas, the Free Council's shining gem of cooperation and innovation in North America. For mages, it's either a wondrous place of progressive ideology or it's a terrifying reminder that a New Atlantis cannot be built. Yet for the Free Council, Dallas and most of the American Southwest is a promise of a new future.
Here, the Free Council congregates from many disparate places across the globe. The Order has built this place from the ground up since it's inception, and unlike many places in the World of Darkness, hope seems to well up from the ground. Though the Atlantean Orders would love nothing more than to see the whole thing collapse and the Free Council scattered, they have agreed to the Free Council's terms for a relative peace. However, the price for that peace was great indeed.
The Assembly and the Consilium
The Free Council Assembly in Dallas comprises roughly 20 mages (though there are currently 23) at any given time. However, support from all over has rolled in since the announcement of the creation of the Free City - a place where the Free Council would raise up through it's arts, and the arts of the Sleepers that lived there. The Order quickly assumed control of the local Consilium, and the Silver Ladder and Guardians of the Veil moved to squash this new threat. The politics of the Awakened in the Southwest had changed, however. This provoked the Unseen War, a quick and deadly battle that played out between the Guardians (with their allies the Silver Ladder) and the Free Council. The year was 1959.
A powerful cabal of Strategos formed, and organized the normally disparate Free Council into a column (a Free Council military term) that gave the Atlantean Orders the battle they thought they would never face. Only one Order, the Adamantine Arrow, supported the Free Council's battle against the other Orders - for according to the Laws of Atlantis, the Free Council was in control of Dallas and in this case, the Arrow did owe the Free Council many oaths.
Though the opposition was great, even involving forces outside the Southwest, the Stratego cabal - known as the Executors of the Resolutionary Agenda - successfully guided the Free Council to victory against the Atlantean Orders and expelled them from the city. The Consilium was dissolved, and the Free Council began to conduct Assemblies, bringing in mages from across the entire Southwest...and sometimes from even further. As the support for the Free City increased, so did scrutiny from the Atlanteans. Yet the Adamantine Arrow supported the Free City, and brokered an arrangement with the other Orders. Wishing to maintain a presence in Dallas without having to fight for it every day, the Orders ceded Dallas, and accepted the following arrangements for their stay.
- The Free Council Assembly is the final word on the Awakened in Dallas.
- A new Consilium was created, with one member of each Order including the Free Council. The Hierarch of this Consilium was originally a Free Councilor, and has been ever since. This was a peace offering to the Atlanteans - the Free Council would, largely, act in accordance to the ancient customs.
- Rather than be left to pursue plots against the stability of the region, the Atlantean Orders created cabals that would fit into the framework of the Resolutionary Agenda. The Orders quickly found a niche for themselves.
The Test of Time
Even though tensions flare between the Atlanteans and the Free Council at times, largely it has been a successful experiment in new government for the Awakened. However, the mages face many great challenges to their stewardship of the land and the sanctity of their city. Monsters, other mages and other threats must constantly be kept at bay. Against all probability, the Free Council has maintained the solidarity of vision they shared so long ago. Werewolves and vampires are a known quantity in Dallas, as well as spirits, ghosts and other more uncommon supernaturals.
However, the greatest threat to the Free City is the Atlantean Orders themselves, most notably the Guardians of the Veil, and to a lesser extent the Silver Ladder. Ever since the creation of the Resolutionary Agenda, they have worked both covertly and overtly to subvert the tenets of the Free Council and destroy their work. In their eyes, Dallas and the Agenda are a danger to the Awakened like no other. More than once, a concerted effort has been made to destroy the Free Council in Dallas. Yet they have always been repelled, usually ending with the destruction of the interloping cabals.
The Seers of the Throne take a great delight in the situation, and take advantage of it whenever they can. The Free Council is more organized and militant here than in most other places across the globe, and their attention is focused on the Atlantean Orders and their attempts to wrest control of Dallas away from them. However, the Seers are the more dangerous threat in everyone's eyes and are guarded against vigorously. For this reason, a Consilium exists in Dallas - even if it's rather neutered in it's power because of the might of the Assembly. However, the Hierarch is a Free Councilor and the Free Council has always maintained that position.
Today the Pentacle exists in sort of an uneasy truce, where the other Orders have ceased (for now) the more violent attempts to destroy the Resolutionary Agenda. They realize that it would take a horrible disaster to dislodge the Free Council here, and for the way it works the plan is not exposing too many Sleepers to direct evidence of the Supernal. It's more of a controlled funneling of information into mainstream media, and the Atlanteans have more power in the global world. TV shows from Dallas might have Supernal clues in them, but there would be serious hurdles to take that program worldwide.
Yet a strange foreboding has descended upon the Free City. Atlanteans and Councilors alike feel this uneasy dread, and many mages have looked for portents and signs of what might be on the horizon. A great spiritual power has come to the city, and the beings of Twilight and Shadow have become active in greater numbers than ever before. Whatever happens next might be of great impact to the Free Council, it's shining city of hope and all the Awakened within.
|Caine Funeral Home, located on Elam Road at the edge of the Great Trinity Forest.|
Mandating a New Cabal
In response to the upsurge in spiritual energy, the Executors of the Resolutionary Agenda, acting with their allies in the Adamantine Arrow and the Free Council of the Dallas Assembly, created a new cabal for the express purpose of maintaining a greater watch over the city's spirits and verges. Many gave their own apprentices, and an old sanctum was repurposed for the cabal's use.
This was nearly two years ago. Now, the Gatekeepers (named for their responsibility of keeping a watch on the verges) have established themselves as capable and honorable, despite the fact that they are a mixed cabal. This isn't an issue for most in the Assembly, but the other Atlantean Orders frown upon it. Despite that, the Gatekeepers are integral to the smooth maintenance of the Dallas area and the Orders know it.
The Gatekeepers tend to attract Sleepwalkers. Some of close acquaintance are even inducted into the knowledge of the existence of the Awakened, and bound to the cabal through oaths. This is generally regarded as a good thing, as the increased level of Sleepwalkers in the city points to the effect the Agenda has had on the populace. However, other Awakened are still leery of other cabal's Sleepwalkers.
Today, the Gatekeepers are working on relations with other Atlantean cabals and reaching out to some of the more powerful cabals in the Assembly. Though they have a great deal of support, theoretically any of the cabals in the Assembly or the Consilium can call upon them - though the other Orders are loathe to do this. However, the Gauntlet seems to be weak and the city is bursting with verges. It may only be a matter of time before their expertise is called upon, but as always the Atlanteans can't always be trusted.
- Big Chief - Adamantine Arrow Obrimos
- Johnny Arcane, Jr. - Adamantine Arrow Moros
- Jonas Stone - Free Council Thyrsus
- The Breeze - Free Council Acanthus
- Libram - Free Council Mastigos (Deceased)
- Detective Danko - Southeast Division Homicide Thyrsus
- Art Jones - Paranormal Radio Host, "The Truth" on KWAC AM
- Wang Chung - Free Council Mastigos
- Executors of the Resolutionary Agenda
- This Free Council cabal is the most powerful politically. Under it's supervision, the Gatekeepers cabal was formed. A hereditary cabal, it has made manifest the Free Council's agenda in Dallas over the last fifty three years.
- The Fist
- John Arcane, Sr. belonged to this cabal of Adamantine Arrow enforcers. The remaining members are of the older generation, and their position is challenged by the Dragonmourn Chantry. The members of this cabal mentored the Arrows of the Gatekeepers.
- Southwestern Paranormal Outreach Program
- This Free Council cabal was the first to offer assistance to the Gatekeepers during their formation, and the alliance has held ever since. Drake Bracken is a member of this cabal, and the tutor of Jonas Stone.
- The Mainstream Media Movement
- This cabal of Free Council mages is a powerful group of media magnates operating radio and television stations in and around Dallas. Chrysanth, the tutor of Libram, is a member of this cabal.
- The Reliquary
- Dallas' cabal of rather "open minded" Mysterium mages, they serve as guardians of the city's hereditary Communal Library and the mysterious Vault within.
- The New Digital Order
- This Free Council cabal has evolved the use of the internet in techne. They foment and advance the use of digital media for the Awakened.
- The Lighthouse
- In Dallas, the Silver Ladder's representatives comb the area for signs of new Awakenings. Though they usually try to induct those they find into the Ladder, they perform a valuable service for the Awakened City.
- Dragonmourn Chantry
- Strictly traditional Adamantine Arrow cabal that has recently relocated to Dallas. Fiercely devoted to the Consilium, the Chantry has focused on removing one of the pillars of political support to the Free Council - the Fist. They are the next generation, and see themselves as replacing the Fist as the Arrow in Dallas and in so doing restoring the Consilium to true power over the Awakened.
- Los Nombre Cinco
- An Apostate cabal (mages who do not belong to an Order), these nasty and criminal mages from Mexico perform all sorts of nefarious deeds in the Southwest. It is unknown the true nature of their magic, whether they are Scelesti or just criminals. However, they are a known danger and enemy of the Awakened in Dallas.
- The Progressional Forum
- The Guardians of the Veil have settled into the Awakened City and used their clout to assume control of much of the Sleeper civil police and even many popular politicians.
Asleep No More Chronicle Log
Total Time: 66.5 hrs (12.1.13)
Total Time: 25.5 hrs (9.8.13)
- Paths & Orders (8.4.2013) Total Time: 4 hrs - The characters are created and we glimpse each of the cabal members Awakenings. The vast prehistory of the world, and other mystical secrets considered to be known by those inducted into an order are discussed and the Sanctum is created: the Caine Funeral Home, near the Great Trinity Forest.
- The Gatekeepers are a newly formed cabal based around the legacy of an older one. They were formed to keep a watch on the city's verges, and deal with spirits and other anomalies when they arise. (4 hrs)
- Art Jones and Lt. Danko share some of their backstory, and we find out how many connections there are between these Sleepwalkers and the Gatekeepers cabal. The mages learn how their magic works, and we witness a relatively minor Paradox that doesn't really harm anyone - but serves as a horrible warning of what can happen when magic is used carelessly. (4 hrs)
- Art Jones has a segment on his show about ghosts, which segues into discussion of a phenomenon known as "shadow people". The mages decide to "nudge" Jones, and an outreach is made to the radio station through friends in the Mainstream Media Movement. Meanwhile, Detective Danko is obsessed with old files and cold cases. He is visited by a strange fellow interested in his most obtuse of old cases - the brandings, where the only evidence was a pile of bodies marked with strange symbols burned directly into the flesh. Forensics couldn't determine the nature or source of the burns, and no pattern could be discerned from the marks. Everyone tunes in to Art Jones, who has gained some local celebrity. The cabal arranges to pose as a "paranormal investigation" team and sets up a meeting with Art and his producer to plot Art's next ratings boost - a series of ghost hunting trips starring himself and his new "expert" friends. (5 hrs)
- As the cabal abjures and experiments with the ghost of a little girl, Lt. Danko gets a file thrown on his desk. It reads 'missing persons', but he's informed that they are considering homicide, which is where he comes in. Danko heads to the missing guy's address, but only finds one lead - the guy in the apartment one level above him seems a little unhinged. They speak briefly, but the young man becomes agitated and enters his apartment, bidding Danko to leave. Danko attempted to get a warrant, but instead broke down the apartment door and entered. Danko was shot twice, and incapacitated. Neighbors called paramedics while the young man exited his apartment and fled. (4 hrs)
- Danko wakes up in a hospital, with his captain and Internal Affairs breathing down his neck. Turns out there isn't much to conflict with Danko's story, as they can't find Terry Fenner (the gunman). The cabal gets with Art Jones, and during the investigation some connections are made. Danko shows up on the scene, and they begin searching Darkplace apartments. After a tense investigation involving interviewing the young couple that is the subject of Art's segment, EVP's and some camera work they can find no trace of the Shadow People, but do startle some drug addled teenagers! (4 hrs)
- The cabal is visited by Hester, of the Dragonmourn Chantry, who demands an audience with the Councilor Erzebet. As Provost, Johnny Arcane Jr. attempts to contact her, and she responds by implying that the Dragonmourn can wait until the next Consilium. The cabal brings Art Jones to the sanctum, and plan the next segment of their documentary. Reggie extracts a strange video from Terry Fenner's laptop, and it depicts what appear to be Shadow People taking an offering - a sedated victim strapped to a hospital gurney. After the Free Council Assembly, the cabal goes to the last haunted house in an abandoned housing tract. There, they find a gremal spirit, and discorporate it after it crosses from the Twilight into the material world via Johnny Arcane's Ghost Gate. Satisfied they have plenty of great footage, they pack up and head back to the sanctum.
Total Time: 23.5 hrs (11.3.13)
- The Harvesters (9.15.2013 through 9.23.2013) Total Time: 3 hrs - Faced with many enemies and challenges, the cabal decides to focus on the enemies that the Free City faces. Apostates, Banishers and Seers of the Throne are dangerous external threats, but the cabal must also be wary of mages within the Consilium.
- Commissioned by the Reliquary to retrieve an artifact known as the Cell, the cabal heads out of town to the I-20 Donut Hole. There they meet Christie Reese, a fence who has a lead on the artifact. However, a short while later they receive a text message from Christie, who has apparently run into trouble. The cabal heads out to the motel where they were supposed to pick up the artifact, and find Christie's car. After talking to the lone tenant of the motel, the cabal strongarms the desk clerk and find out that the men at the rest stop across the interstate might have something to do with her disappearance... (3 hrs)
- As Danko and Art Jones pow-wow on what they think the cabal might really be into, the characters continue their hunt for Christie Reese. The cabal crosses the street to enter the small rest station, and finds some guys inside the store. Big Chief pulls a gun and starts asking questions right about the time that Johnny Arcane clubs his friend stacking beer in the back. The two men end up dead after a brief gunfight where everyone but Libram and Stone are hurt. Stone leaves immediately and calls a cab to get back to town. Big Chief and Arcane hide the bodies in a ghostgate, and call Danko to come help. Libram watches from the shadows as the sheriff arrives, and the bloody Arrows come out of the convenience store. The sheriff is confused, and orders them onto the ground...but the next few moments leaves the sheriff dead after being run over with his own truck and then executed point blank by Danko after he arrived. The session ends with the cabal split up between two different cabs and Danko's car, headed back into Dallas and nursing gunshot wounds. (4 hrs)
- After meeting with Mr. Sleet and reaching an understanding with the Reliquary after losing the artifact, the cabal begins to track the suspected Banisher. After some serious sleuthing, the cabal enters her supposed home in the twilight...and they think someone there could see them! (4 hrs)
- Entering the house in the real world, the cabal begins to do some snooping but finds the home very bare. Trace evidence reveals some sort of temporal enchantment and resonance, but they are unable to pierce the occultation with their scrutiny. Soon after, armed men arrive to make the home very uncomfortable for the cabal. In the escape, Johnny Arcane is wounded severely and the Breeze takes a hit, but the cabal escapes the home and the armed men. Later that evening, plans are made with Danko and Jones - and the cabal decides it's time to let them in on the secrets. Aided by Tyrok and Erszebet of the Executors, the cabal begins to take Danko on a journey through astral space to find his watchtower! (4.5 hrs)
- Wrestling with their own fears and inexperience, the cabal enters astral space and find Danko on his Oneiros. Running through several scenes of the shared dream, the cabal manage to negotiate the dangers of astral space and get close to the threshold of the supernal. After encountering strange astral creatures, including Danko's daimon and a guardian of unknown origin, the cabal wakes up in the spirit hallow, and Danko goes on to truly Awaken! (2 hrs)
- Danko is taken to Macedon's safehouse, and a meeting is called. The cabal deals with their newly Awakened charge. Art Jones' radio station is picketed by the New Commandment Fellowship, and shortly thereafter armed men bust into the studio. Art is roughed up, and the program director of the station is murdered. (2 hrs)
- The cabal hunkers down to prepare for the next leg of the unfolding events. Danko joins the cabal formally, and when presented to the Consilium raises some concern with the Progressional Forum and the Lighthouse. Danko doesn't hide his old name well, and many different mages from different factions seem to know it. The Progressional Forum flexes it's muscles and gets Danko removed from duty over some of his recent decisions - mainly choosing the Gatekeepers over the Progressional Forum! (2 hrs)
- The cabal is attacked in the night by sniping gunmen again, and Johnny Arcane is wounded. The team holes up for a day or two, drawing in their resources. Art Jones is made aware of the spiritual war as Detective Danko is attacked by what was revealed to be the Banisher Susan Reed. Big Chief met with Terminus of Dragonmourn Chantry, who warns of the coming upheaval and makes overtures of co-operation in the "changing of the guard". Later, the cabal gets a hot tip about where their Banisher foe is hiding - a new church of the New Commandment Fellowship. The cabal makes a move and heads to the church, but a fight breaks out pretty quickly. Susan Reed and another woman are killed, and the rest of the church escaped, even hurt badly - Johnny Arcane, Big Chief, Libram and Art Jones are dying. Jonas Stone does what he can and stabilizes them, but Libram dies of his wounds. The cabal limps home and calls Erzebet for help. (6 hrs)
Total Time: 18.5 hrs (12.1.13)
- Action and Inaction (11.10.13) Total Time: 2.5 hrs - The cabal licks its wounds and begins to heal, but are only three men and a sleepwalker as Johnny Arcane has disappeared. Art Jones' show goes live, and his fame begins to pick up. Yet something strange happens at the sanctum, and a mysterious stranger appears.
- Black Viper, a mage claiming to be the last member of a cabal called the Dark Fist, appears at the sanctum to steal the map Libram had decoded. The cabal found him in the catacombs, in an area they've never seen open, placing the token of a defeated mage in the tomb of his long dead friends. Black Viper stresses the need for secrecy, especially concerning the fact that he's not dead. He leaves with a dire warning - the wizards he fought were dangerous indeed, and one of their apprentices still lives, and he tracked him to Dallas. (2.5 hrs)
- KWAC is infested with shadowy spirits, and Art Jones is attacked! Turns out, a mage was there earlier that day, opening a Spirit Gate and drawing malicious spirits through. The Gatekeepers arrive to check it out, but find only traces of magic and not a functioning Spirit Gate. Despite this, the show with Dr. Fong Wei is a hit! The players travel to meet the Lighthouse mages at a donut shop, and are told that dangerous spirit activity was occurring on their turf. Agreeing to overlook the breach of protocol involving Heckler (Danko) and his awakening, they direct the cabal to an old property to investigate the area and learn the cause of the disturbances. Inside the old hovel, a run down and vacant duplex apartment, the players find a gurney and a black mark on the wall - one they had seen before in a video. (5 hrs)
- Shadow people erupt from the black mark on the wall and attempt to take Jonas Stone across the Gauntlet! They cannot bring him across, however, as his Awakened soul knows better. They savagely beat him, and cross the Gauntlet to get away from the cabal. The hospital gurney from the video is identified as the locus, and the players call the Lighthouse to report their findings. Satisfied, the Lighthouse tells them to lock up and leave, and leave the locus intact for them. The next day, members of the Progressional Forum call the Gatekeepers back to the donut shop (a shared hangout with the Ladder mages) and explain a verge has popped up in their territory and is causing problems, including several disappearances. The cabal travels to the verge, a viadock looming like a bird of doom as it shifts - and cracks. As soon as they step beneath it, they are put through a one way verge and are in the spirit world. The place is one of horror and loss, and through the dense purple fog they can sense many spirits about, including a terrifying encounter with the Meat Grinder, a spirit train. The cabal detects shadow people and wisps, and Heckler attempts to approach and speak to them in the First Tongue. However, they don't seem to be friendly - pouncing on Heckler and incapacitating him. Stone and Big Chief fight the two shadows and discorporate them, and give Heckler first aid. They find a mystic circle, with a pair of what appear to be human eyes within. Scrutinizing the spells, they find that somehow the spellcaster they are chasing forced the verge open for some purpose. Soon after, a strange spirit, Topak-Omak arrives on the scene. It resembled a giant owl, with Atlantean runes hanging on little chains all over it's feathers. After communicating with it and striking a bargain - the cabal is armed with more knowledge about their foe than ever before, and perhaps have made a powerful ally in the spirit world. (5 hrs)
- The cabal finds the Reliquary strangely unguarded, and after finding a pool of blood inside they become alerted. Using their magics, they force their way downstairs, past shadows and wisps...in pursuit of a pair of living consciousnesses. They find their apostate scelestus with a beaten and unconcious Mr. Sleet, and while the shadows close in do battle with the enemy mage. After subduing him, putting out the fires, repelling the spirits and providing first aid to Mr. Sleet the party returns upstairs for answers. Turns out the culprit is El Phantasmo Hambriento, and he killed Mr. Snow on the way in. Snow is buried at the funeral home, and the cabal eases into a new, less threatened routine. As the chronicle closes, Johnny Arcane finds his token of invitation from the Lord of the Fortress.
We had a blast this year with Mage: The Awakening, and put a lot of hours into learning how to wield supernal magics. The World of Darkness and the new line of products are a ton of fun to play, and we've seen they can provide a range of playstyles to suit your game group. I think everyone has a better grasp of what's involved in an investigative style game now, and I'm sure that will only help mitigate the death toll the next time the Gatekeepers venture into a dungeon of death.
Thanks to everyone who played in the game and devoted their time and energy. These characters will be back for the next segment of our continuing saga of the Free City of Dallas and our cabal of intrepid explorers of the Shadow Realm. Next time, all that spellcasting will come naturally - and we can get to the serious business of conjunctional arcana!