Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rising Waters, Season 2.5: Session 1!

So, for those of you who are more recent readers of my blog (I think there might be a whole three of you :)), I have over the past few years run a sporadic Dresden Files game which I call Rising Waters. It's set in Baltimore, and it has a motley collection of characters. It keeps going on hiatus as real life and grad school intervene, but my players, God love them, seem to enjoy it and always want me to pick it back up again. I'm therefore running it once more, picking back up from where we left off six months ago. For previous sessions, please see the "Rising Waters" tag on my blog -- that'll give you the character backgrounds, etc.

So. When last we left our intrepid heroes, we were roughly a week out from Midsummer, which means a week out from Uno's engagement party to the summer lady. Dylan had just finished working to create a diving bell/old-fashioned submarine, which he planned to use to find evidence of ghouls in the river off Fells Point. We met two weeks ago to spend advancements and remind everyone of where the campaign was and what their characters were doing, and last night we put all of that into play.

We joined our story at the point of getting the diving bell into the Inner Harbor. Uno put a solid glamour on the van they'd used to get it to the area, so that no one would pay any attention to it. They managed to offload it and get it into the water, mostly due to Uno and Victor being extremely buff. They hooked the air line and the rope up to a dragon-headed paddleboat, as those are pretty common in the Inner Harbor. Adia, Zeke, and Victor rode in the paddleboat, while Eldi and Dylan got into the diving bell with Adia's sugar skull, to use Josh as a relay/walkie-talkie between the boat and the bell. Uno stayed on shore as lookout.

The diving bell worked, though the one window was somewhat limiting. Victor took a potion he made to gain the "Aquatic" condition so he could look around as well, and dived off once they were in position so he could examine things more closely. They definitely found what they were looking for, plus things they weren't.

Dylan started creating "pings" and using old-fashioned sonar (hit the metal side with a wrench, do math) to try to figure out what the landscape was like and where they were underwater. Eldi looked out the window, amazed at the whole world and FISH. This was all well and good, until they started getting "pings" back that they didn't create. As they got into position off Fells Point, they managed to catch a glimpse downriver and Eldi saw something huge, half made of debris, floating in the midst of strange-looking water in ways it shouldn't have been. They couldn't easily turn back to see it, however, and Dylan was focused on ghoul evidence. They found some, along with a trail up to shore, but where they ghouls were really living they didn't get a chance to discover.

Dylan determined that the sonar indicated something was off about that mass after all, and asked Victor via a note in the window to go get a sample of it. Victor got close to the unmoving mass and looked at it with the Sight, wherein he discovered that it was a huge underwater demonic construct that either had a demon inside or was powered externally by a demon; he was hoping it was the former rather than the latter, because anything that could create that externally was not something he was prepped to battle in his current situation. He managed to disengage from the Sight, but once he did, the thing started moving -- and at its size, it covers ground quickly. He swam back up to the surface quickly, trying to get away, and got in the paddleboat.

In the meantime, a storm started coming up out of nowhere, prompting Adia and Zeke to message down and suggest it was time to get out of the water. Seagulls started circling, not something that normally happens in the face of a storm, and they were flying closer to the paddleboat in a threatening way. Zeke remembered his Hitchcock and pushed Adia down while taking a shot at the first bird to dive. He missed, but took a head wound for his troubles. Adia starts using her purse to try to frighten the birds away, but then calls on Josh to help scare the birds, which he attempts to do with only partial success.

At the same same time, the sugar skull goes active, but it's not Josh (which it should have been, given that Adia turned it into a home for him/item of power during advancement). Instead it sounds like a mic in an echoey room has been turned on. Dylan grabs salt and draws a circle of power around it and the sound stops, replaced by a low-pitched chuckling. A voice comes out of the skull, asking "why are you here, wizard?" Dylan replies that he's looking for evidence of ghouls, as well as something more. He asks the voice's name, but the voice refuses to give it. Dylan tells Eldi to release the first ballast, and they start their ascent. "I'm looking for the creature in the deep," says Dylan. "These are my waters," says the voice. "The municipal water department of Baltimore would disagree with you," Dylan replies, gesturing to Eldi to release ballast 2. They rise higher. "Don't come back, little wizard," says the voice, "lest you find your way to Davy Jones." Dylan starts asking if Davy Jones is real, or if that's the name of the speaker, but there is no answer.

They get up and pop the hatch, but what they discover is that the seagulls are in the midst of attacking. Eldi uses glamour to make a flash of light to scare them off, but it doesn't last. Dylan accelerates the wind and blows the birds into the side of the waterfront buildings. Most of them fall down, necks broken and wings smashed, but five of them pull back and start circling around again. Zeke takes two shots and misses -- he's not used to dealing with such small, speedy opponents. He asks Sauriel for help, and Sauriel points out that these birds aren't birds, they're demonic. He holds up his cross, mentally rolling his eyes, and prays for protection for he and his friends, forming a warding around them. One of the birds comes into contact with it and there's a flash of light, and the bird turns into black goo and then vanishes. That same thing happens out over the water four more times -- they birds were connected and functioned as a single organism -- and finally the water is quiet.

They all make it to shore and get out. Dylan is seasick, but holding it together. Eldi disguises the diving bell to look like random tidal trash and hides it up against the wall. Dylan grabs his data out, but forgets the sugar skull, still sitting in its salt circle. Uno comes up, trying to help, but then a wave of rotting sea fauna and old, dead blood hits all of them, and Dylan throws up, back into the water. Looks like the ghouls are closer than they'd realized.

And that's it for another two weeks!