Friday, May 27, 2016

Divine Blood - Wasps Among Butterflies - Fourth Session - Sudden Robot Hail

This session involves two characters:

  • Arianrhod Monica Trengrove (aka Aria), the succubus and Perfect Lady of War who makes lets The Higher Ups Do the Talking and hates the Supernatural Enemies of the Supernatural.
  • Sophia Ecks, Voyeuristic Visionary, Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant and a Virtual Apex Predator on the Bleeding Edge.
Mysterious Shenaingans Continue

As the session begins, Sarah Gow is seeing a physician about her electrical burns leaving Aria and Sophia to try and go back to get the chocolate milkshake with a shot of frangelico that she is owed from before. Unfortunately, as they come to the Mister Donut they found that it had been (mysteriously) closed for renovations and repairs. Something to do with arrows shattering the plate glass windows. Sophia pulled out her smart phone to look for another Mister Donut and set off along the way with Sophia reading off instructions. However, they hadn't driven more than ten minutes when the Visionary noted that her cell phone was giving her instructions about "avoiding traffic congestion" (something which the app they were using didn't do) and taking them way off the original course. 

Mentioning it to Aria, the succubus sighs and starts turning around to head back to base (well, they also plan to drop off Aria's car at the mechanic's). As they do so, they pass a construction zone, currently unmanned due to being the weekend, and one of the construction uprights there starts powering up and coming after them. Aria proclaims that she will forgive the damage to her car from the rescue situation if Sophia can get the upright off their back (Sophia meanwhile was miffed that someone had stolen her schtick and was using it against them). She then takes a run at one of the narrow alley streets where a bulky construction upright would have difficulty following. Just behind the car a pile of I-beams slams into the ground. Sophia started trying to dial in a DOS attack on the upright's autopilot features. She managed to make some progress despite being shaken around in the car as in veered off.

The pilot-less upright did not slow down and chose to barrel through one of the buildings causing it to crumble as it reached out to grab Aria's car, fortunately, the narrow street gave the berserk construction vehicle only a brief window of opportunity which it missed and Aria took the car out into the street and gunned the engine. As she did so, she reached over and touched Sophia, using her biokinesis to crank the Visionary's adrenaline production to ridiculous levels to the point where the hacker felt that she had never been awake before in her life. Sophia, meanwhile tied into her home computer set up and added started remotely working through its facilities adding to her own skills. As she did so, she realized that the hack on the upright was not coming from where she had thought it was. She couldn't find any wireless frequency to explain a hacker...and then she looked at her phone and cursed up a storm as she considered the possibility that her systems had been hacked and the attacker was under her nose. 

Whatever was pushing the upright seemed to be driving it past its specs as it pushed to high speeds and sparks and tears started to appear in its structure. At about the same time, a mysterious cold spot appeared and started causing Aria's car windows to frost over.

The upright grabbed a spear and tried to toss it out to put in Aria's way, but she managed to dodge around it while cracking her windows open to equalize temperatures and clear the frost. Finally, Aria pulled out into traffic and managed to vanish into the collection of cars. This still left a rampaging upright around, however, and Sophia directed her efforts to solving that by pumping Avril Lavigne's Hello Kitty into her phone (and hopefully the system of whoever hacked it) and then finishing off the DOS attack, causing the upright to shutter to a stop and collapse after one of its legs tore off due to the stress on its action. 

After driving around for a little bit and listening to the news of the berserk upright on the radio, Aria tried to use her very limited training in sensitive abilities to analyze what happened and realized that most of the residual life-force about her car had been torn away by something. Her immediate thought was that someone had cursed her car. The Visionary made use of her better handle on sensitive arts to confirm and deepen what Aria had suggested. It seemed to Sophia as if something was using the residual energy around the car in order to power something else.

Taking the car back around, they went back and saw that the police had cordoned off the collapsed upright and the destroyed office building, but there were a number of onlookers present, including a number hanging around the area of the cold spot. Another look at this area making as much use of her Understanding as possible and Sophia and Aria came to the conclusion that the cold spot was some sort of backlash and since the attacker had been using environmental life-force instead of their own, the backlash had hit the environment instead of the person. 

Aria walked out into the area of the cold spot and clutched her luck stone, an amulet meant to protect primarily against naturally occurring curses but with some ability to protect against directed attacks as well. Making use of her very minimal knowledge of exorcism and trying to basically reproduce what the luck stone did, Aria managed to brute force a repair to the environmental flow. Unfortunately, in so doing, she seemingly took all the chill into herself, especially about the palms of her hands where she had been clutching the luck stone.

Meanwhile, Sophia similarly was a bit peeved about the invasion of her phone and systems and set about to direct her Understanding of reality to produce a firewall that would keep out what she now suspected to be a technopath. Likewise to Aria, she didn't have any real training in what she was trying to do, but her Visionary "body" had seen the invasion and recognized how it worked and she had an idea of how to prevent it from happening again. Making use of her store of nightmare fuel, computer programing and the Understanding, she essentially brute forced a feng shui network within her phone's casing to create a psychic firewall that she referred to as the "Eye of Ar".  Unfortunately, she had some difficulty in the actual coding and the Eye was no bombarding her with security checks every five or so minutes. The whole process left her feeling a little hollow and ill. 

With the accidental curse cleared and their phone now secure, the two took Aria's car into the mechanic's, after stopping for some milkshakes to go (unfortunately, they were out of frangelico). The mechanic stared in bewilderment at Aria's car and the damage it had sustained and wondered what she had been doing with it. She blamed the bald tire on a bit of conversational distraction and a need to quickly maneuver and when he asked if the dents in the roof and trunk were from hail stones she immediately declared that, yes, they were and when he proclaimed that there hadn't been a hail storm she chided him for paying too much attention to work and not enough to what was happening in the world.

They walked back to the base and reported to Mr Ryujin what had happened and conferring with him what he thought. He concurred with their idea of a technopath but noted that the effect they described would have had to have come from a feng shui shih and that whoever had done it would have had to create the physical situation necessary to make the effect ahead of time and how could they have known where the two were going. Sophia started to say that that was a good question when she realized that the hackers had been in her phone. But that that wouldn't be a problem any more...and began to speak to her phone in a near-gollum which the Eye made some sort of sound back. Aria noted to Mr Ryujin that she hadn't yet been brave enough to ask Sophia what she was talking about.

Looking into just who was trying to kill them, they went back to the yakuza mission and noted the discrepancy of a fashion/modeling agency listed amongst the coded parts of the ledger rather than amongst the fronts. Also it seemed that money was flowing to the modeling agency rather than from it. The modeling agency was run by a woman named Sokano Mei, a name which tickled something in the back of Aria's mind. Eventually she remembered a cold case she had once found while researching older files. A sidhe woman with the surname Sokano was found murdered. Her daughter, with the name Mei, had never been found.

Wondering why anyone would keep the name rather than switch it and coming to the conclusion that it was an imposter using the name, Aria brought the old case up to Ryujin and Sophia. Sophia hacked some records to find that Sokano Mei received all her mail in a private post office box and that there was no record of her physical address with the company receiving cash payments to keep the post office box open and assigned to her. Mr Ryujin found that the old case had been investigated by a member of the Shimizu family but nothing had ever come from it and the investigator had died of cancer about ten years back. 

Further investigation by looking for properties owned by Sokano Mei brought up several places that were clear red herrings owned by people who only coincidentally had the same name, but also found a rose garden and a crematorium that seemed to be owned by the Sokano Mei of their interests. They resolved to send a message to this woman to see if they could get her to back off or at least pique her interest into having a meeting, since their main concern was keeping the woman from pressing on Community turf not eliminating her. 

After several abortive tries at crafting a letter that was the right mix of threat and reason, Mr Ryujin came to look over their shoulders, face palm and take over before sending them to the professional exorcists to have their corruption taken care of. Unfortunately, even with professional care, the conditions resisted the effort to push them off, but at least the healing process had started. 


Sudden Robot Hail roll20 Play Grid


Aria's "Supernatural Enemies of the Supernatural" gave enough justification for her to be able to try and brute force an exorcism (exorcism in Divine Blood doesn't usually involve dealing with spirits, it's become the general term for spiritual healing). Likewise, Sophia's nature as a Visionary, and thus possessing the Understanding, justified her crude enchantment of her phone (she basically built a feng shui firewall using the circuitry and structure within her cellphone). However, I set their difficulties high enough that they both suffered Major (Moderate for Fate Core people) Corruption consequences (Frostburnt palms for Aria and Hollowness for Sophia...the chill that settled into Aria is more based on the flaws of succubus Essence than on the cold spot she was trying to fix...likewise, the hollow feeling Sophia suffers from is due to a flaw in Chi that is made worse by the Corruption.).  

I made Sophia's enchantment a challenge and in retrospect should have done the same for Aria's exorcism. Also, while Aria could have found an actual exorcist who could handle the cold spot with barely a sweat (the player's magus from the first playtest could likely have fixed it by looking at it funny), the complexity of combining the psychic phenomena with a smart phone meant that Sophia's feat was something that would take a Visionary to perform on the fly like that for the simple fact that no one has tried to apply feng shui on such a tiny scale before so there are no experts in the procedures in existence.

Note that in Strands of Fate and Divine Blood, only Mild Consequences instantly go away. Major and higher Consequences require increasing levels of actual treatment and then the characters have to make a roll at the end of a time period for the Consequence to downgrade. Both characters have started the healing, but failed the roll. The next time (1 day per roll for Majors) the roll will be easier with actual medical treatment they're likely to recover.

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