February 3rd, 2020

the end

Yesterday evening I held the final session of my Mage: The Ascension campaign for my Inland Empire players. This was a campaign set in London in 1905, just after the Sons of Ether left/were driven out of the Technocracy and joined the Traditions. The players had chosen to play Traditions "mages" rather than Technocracy "enlightened scientists." We had some player turnover, but in this session four of the players of a fairly stable group of five showed up, playing a Dreamspeaker (tribal shamanic traditions), a Euthanatos (death magic), a Son of Ether (SCIENCE!), and a self-taught orphan.

Most of the session involved an invasion of a Technocratic "institute" to rescue the body of the orphan (whose disembodied spirit was part of the rescue). During the course of this there were three (!) botches: one by the fifth player character, an Akashic Brother whom I was playing as an NPC, whose attempt at teleportation left him suspended between inside the institute and out on the street for a long time; one by the Dreamspeaker, who tried to use time magic to get to an alarm switch before one of the technicians, and ended up reducing his personal time rate 50%; and one by the spirit, after he shoved the Dreamspeaker's spirit aside to control his body, that subjected him to the same slowdown (while the Dreamspeaker took over his body). Despite all the confusion, plus the Euthanatos keeping the horses on the escape carriage from spooking at the sound of explosions, and the Son of Ether melting the power lines into the institute, they all managed to make an escape.

This was followed by the Euthanatos going to a medical association that was preparing to hold a hearing on professional misconduct by a Technocracy surgeon who had been experimenting on Romany children, one of whom had died. He was summoned to the director's office and informed that the trial wouldn't take place because the surgeon had been murdered (in fact, this was done by the player characters a few sessions ago!). When he heard the news, he found himself hearing the voice of the surgeon accusing him of guilt in the murder, and then seeing a vision of the surgeon, whom he had to debate with in the presence of his avatar, a version of Atropos, the Fate who cuts the thread of life. In the end she cut the surgeon's life thread and then presented the shears to the player character, telling him to try the end—which he did by drawing them across the palm of his hand, drawing blood. Then he realized he was lying on the floor of the director's office; the director helped him up, gave him a handkerchief to wrap his physically bleeding hand, and then offered him a little brandy to steady his nerve. This whole scene was based on the rules for gaining a point of Arete, the power to work true magic(k), which require a dramatic confrontation with one's avatar.

At the end, we looked at the consequences of the body swap, as a voodoo practitioner who was an ally of the Dreamspeaker tried to get the spirits back into their proper bodies—and failed, despite making his best efforts.

I was happy with the session, and I've been happy with my players, who had really gotten into the roleplaying/storytelling aspect of Mage and of my personal GMing style. I made a point of telling them this, and thanking them.