Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lyceum Aegis Session Report

On Sunday I was able to sit down with my niece Kali and start her out on the rpg campaign I've mentioned in the previous blogging posts. Her brother decided to stay home (and have exclusive run of the video game consoles) so I didn't have to worry about splitting attention. It also meant that I could have Sherri sit in as well-- as much as anything to provide guidance and support. I had them answer a few character creation questions-- leaving them alone to work out their answers and then coming back to see what they'd come up with.

They decided on two sisters, the youngest of seven sisters. Their family would have been a little overburdened and as a result shipped them around from relative to relative. Of very close age, they usually got shipped together as a unit. That's a little close to one of the student NPC concepts-- so I'm going to have to do some monkeying around with that NPC, but no problem. Sherri came up with Makelah “Mika” Thorngrove-- more socially oriented and girly. Kali came up with Stephanie “Steph” Thorngrove-- more tomboyish and book-smart. I'd asked them to come up with an image for the personification which would appear when their powers activated. The chose images that they said actually represented what their other sister feared. So Mika's appears as a mirrored female figure, or rather a female figure with a mirror it is holding as its body. The images within distort and shift. That represents Steph's self-image fears. Steph's figure is more classical, looking a lot like the dragon from the St. George painting. It reflects Mika's fears about anger and rage.

For their powers, Mika took the ability to inflict confusion on others. Steph took a kind of paralyzing roar. I had them distribute seventeen points among the six stats and then had them pick three things they were really good at and one thing they were bad at. My basic system would use the Storyteller dice conventions, but without an extended skill list. Tests would be rolled using a number of dice equal to the appropriate stat, plus an extra die if I figured they knew something about it or it could be done by anyone untrained. They'd get bonus dice for circumstance and equipment and another bonus die if they had chosen that as a skill. They'd lose a die for things they were bad at. Mika chose Human Perception, Stealth and Sewing (?) as skills and Catching as the thing she would be bad at. Steph took Observation, Stealth, and Climbing as her good things; she chose Fashion Sense as her bad thing.

I started them out stuck in the with a distant aunt and uncle who clearly had marital problems. I laid that on for a bit. They woke up in the middle of the night to find the house on fire. They escaped out (after some difficultly) only to be set upon by the Uncle with a baseball bat-- clearly having decided to kill his wife and then the two girls as witnesses. They fought for a bit and then their powers manifested after both had been struck by the Uncle. They saw their Personas and had a brief vision-- Mika saw a black hound that turned into a boy whom seemed lost and trying to find his way. Steph had a vision of a boy in a school uniform who seemed to be summoning power and destroying the world. I cut to them coming to a little while later, huddled under blankets provided by the firefighters. They saw the Uncle in the back of a squad car. Mr. Monday approached them and said he'd been in contact with their parents and that they'd made arrangements for the girls to go to his school, the Lyceum Aegis (thanks to Gene for the suggestion). They mutedly agreed. He then vanished into the night.

I did some character stuff here-- the hotel they had to go to, the strangeness of people shuttling them to the airports and the flight. An odd note here. I had the airport hospitality people provide them with a gift card so they could buy some supplies while they waited for their flight. Mika chose pencils and some other frilly stuff. Kali as Steph out of the blue selected a Greek Dictionary. That came back later when they actually thought to check what the name of the school meant, but I don't think Kali realized the name was Greek in origin before that.

I got them settled into the school-- taking time to describe the strange, overcast town, the long ride up the cliffside to the school, the untended grounds, the looming lighthouse. They were met by Mr. Thursday (and his catchphrase “If that would be acceptable to the situation...”) who put them away in their shared rooms. I spent some time on various details here of the house. I opted not to have them visited by a student NPC at this point. Since there were two PCs they were able to play off each other enough I didn't need to use that device. They did hear what sounded like a large dog snuffling at their door in the night (at least a little allusion to Mika's earlier vision) and then the sound of the food dishes they'd put outside moving. When they went to check, they saw their trays had gone but no one was there.

Morning brought the introduction at breakfast of (most) of the rest of the students. I went around and tried to give some cues about their personalities. I did use Sarah Palance here as the bubbly and outgoing character who would welcome them. They had a few minutes to ask questions, and then Ms. Saturday arrived. They walked to the schoolhouse which gave me a chance to introduce that location and reinforce my previous outline of the grounds. She began on a lesson involving Ovid's Metamorphoses. I gave a brief lecture on the book and its importance. Then I had her quiz the two PCs-- asking them to name a myth or fable, tell the story and then “unpack” its meaning. Mika chose Cinderella, but in the most Disney version possible-- focusing on the singing mice and the Prince rescuing Cinderella. Ms. Saturday tried to get her to further bore down into the essential elements of the story to no avail. Mika seemed to disagree that the Prince was an object or treasure rather than a significant actor in the story. Steph chose the story of Prometheus.

I have to stop here and say nicely done that was-- my niece reads a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, but I'm not sure she understands how important a set of imagery the Prometheus story is for magical traditions (particularly in the Mage setting). So it was nice to see her unprompted make that kind of connection. I had Ms. Saturday quite pleased with the result-- and she went on at length. In particular she mentioned Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly's Frankenstein, the Modern Prometheus. She then talked about how that book was a piece of anti-scientific propaganda that the good Doctor hadn't deserved. Both girls noted the teacher speaking about Dr. Frankenstein as a real person. In the afternoon I had the PCs meet with Mr. Monday again to see if they had any questions. They played guarded-- not remarking on anything unusual, but thanking the headmaster for the attention.

I closed with an incident after dinner. I'd been thinking I'd do something with the other students fighting, but I opted to put that aside for another time. I was running pretty close to when Kali's dad was to pick her up. Instead I had some noise and arguing in the hall. They peeked downstairs to see Mr. Thursday arguing with another instructor they assumed was Mr. Friday. He was wet despite there being no rain out. Beside him stood another new student, also wet. Steph, of course, recognized this boy from the vision she had when her powers manifested.

So a pretty good session-- Sherri had looked over the notes but hadn't seen the outline so things about the structure were surprising to her. Next time I'll have give them more opportunities for hijinks and for action. Overall a decent first game for a newbie player I'd say.

LV and Status Quo tomorrow.