Nephilim – Chapter 5: Acquistion

(Disclaimer: This is a synopsis / battle report of a session within our Nephilim RPG campaign. It serves to give some context to the fiction I post, as well as simply practicing writing.)

Chapter 5: Acquistion

Synopsis

Last time we saw our heroes, they have secured an Earth Plexus in a cave/sewer network beneath Berlin. Having secured the Earth Plexus, our protagonists are presented with an unexpected situation by Skaro.

She has obtained information about two manuscripts that might contain more modern writings about Golems (not the clay prototyp developed in 17th century Prague), but they are part of a private collection that is being auctioned off.

Two sets of two invitations are granted to the group, and they will have to get creative in order to get the fifth person into the venue.

Skaro has also provided funds, 400.000€, and an additional 25.000€ in cash.

Arrival at the venue

The auction is held at a private mansion, and the group arrives fairly early.
Finistur summons her kabbalistic sword and armor and deposits them in the group´s jeep, “just in case”. With a bit of magical assistance from Gealach, Sil’Faron, in his identity of Bernd Schiffer, manages to dupe the doormen that the 17 year old Kek is actually his son. The bouncers are quite dazzled by the charismatic display, and let them all in.

Sha Naqba Imuru and Sil’Faron have received bidder numbers for the auction, while the others are only present as their aquaintances.

Once inside, our protagonists survey the list of items that will be auctioned off.

  • The two manuscripts by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz they came for
  • Three paintings of archangels (Jophiel, Raphael and Gabriel)
  • Three french books
  • A horrendous looking sculpture of a melting person
Photo of the auction programme and list of items
Photo of the auction programme and list of items

Lounging & Socialising

Before the auctions are starting, the group socialisies with the other attendees, finding four other Nephilim among them. This makes for a total of nine Nephilim present, a staggering number, considering how far apart they are usually. An illustrious gathering indeed.
They approach all of them, to find out where they stand regarding the acquisition of the manuscripts.

Surprisingly, Joris, who is known to the group as Tanja, is present. She wants to spy out the humans, to find out which ones belong to secret societies. She´s also here under a fake identity, Anna Michalska.

Finistur meets the englishwoman Caitlin Sanders, a Fire Nephilim incarnated into an elderly woman. She is interested int he sculpture and the painting of the Archangel Raphael, and also wants the other items to go into Nephilim hands, as opposed to the grubby fingers of mundane humans. She claims to be willing to destroy the merchandise otherwise.

Gealach has a brief chat with a dark-haired woman named Francesca, a Moon Nephilim.
She appears to be a direct competitor for the two Schwaller manuscripts.

Kek, and later Gealach, engage in a Poker game in the mansion´s Gentleman´s Club, with a young man called Eduard Miller. He savagely cheats at the game, using concealed magic to embarass a player to leave the game during a large pot. Afterwards, Kek approaches him to find out about the auction. Mr. Miller first claims to only be here “for the people”, but later admits that his patrons are interested in one of the french books, Der Kampf ums Dasein am Himmel, which contains only “beginner level” arcane knowledge.

There are also a number of notable “regular” humans among the crowd of about 50 people present, some of them obviously not interested in the occult. Sil’Faron manages to talk a pompous man named Marco Probst, who obviously has no appreciation for literature, into believing that the Schwaller manuscripts are not originals.

A few guests seem to have suddenly become quite sick, requiring an ambulance. A coincidence? Too much sparkling wine? Spoiled hors d’oeuvre? Unlikely.

Auction round one

The first round of auctions starts, and the group silently observes the proceedings, without any interest for the french books. Two of these go to Eduard Miller and his associates, the third to an unremarkable collector.

They make a bid for one of the Angel paintings, but it goes to Mrs. Sanders, as does the disgusting sculpture. She seems pleased, and so does Mr. Probst, who buys the two remaining paintings.

Kek notices a man and a woman who appear to be more interested in the guests than the auction themselves, taking pictures of the high bidders. He shadows them for the remainder of the evening.

Sil’Faron is approached by the woman named Francesca, who offers a bounteous 100.000€ simply for him not bidding on the manuscripts, but he declines, knowing how important these books are for the group.

Before the manuscripts are auctioned off, there is a dinner break, and Gealach manages to confuse Mr. Probst with her alchemical arts. He is now more interested in indulging in the sumptuous buffet than the auction.

blog_auction_map
A map of the auction venue, the mansion of Katrin Frueh

Auction round two

This is the main event, the Schwaller manuscripts are up. Quite a number of bidders is missing from the room, due to mysterious illness and sudden hunger flashes.

As soon as the first manuscript, The Temple Of Man, is presented, Gealach creates a visual illusion of water damage upon the book, which scares several more bidders off.

Sil’Faron gets the high bid, with 105.000€, which leaves the group with 325.000€, and the hope that they can pay in cash or leverage some Sil’Faron´s private savings.

Having conserved so much cash, they win the bid war for the second manuscript, The Temple In Man, as well, with Francesca being the only serious contender.

She stomps off angrily, and the two frenchmen seems to follow her to the parking lot. Kek notices this, and he and Finistur decide to take a shortcut over the terrace, while Sil’Faron and Sha Naqba Imuru retrieve their acquisitions.

Trouble at the parking lot

Francesca speeds off in her sports car, completely oblivious of the fact that she is being followed by the two strangers.

Kek holds them up at their automobile, demanding to know why they took so many photographs, but the situation rapidly devolves into violence, as one of them draws a gun.
Kek drags the driver from the car, throws him against the next vehicle, and goes to cover.

The second stranger seizes the opportunity and tries to escape with the car, but she did not take into account the presence of Finistur, who has retrieved her kabbalistic blade from her Jeep. The entire left backside of the Peugot is sliced apart, including the axle. This car will not drive anywhere anytime soon.

The suspects are quickly knocked out and stuffed into the jeep´s trunk. Tanja arrives, and after a quick surveying of the situation, returns to the house to get the rest of group.

Four things are in possession of our heroes now. The two manuscripts, which hopefully contain enough knowledge to construct a working Golem, as well as two unconscious people, whom Kek suspects to be Templar operatives…

Gamemaster´s Perspective

This was an interesting session to prepare. I had four goals in mind when I did this:

  • Advance the main plot, by bringing more of the Golem related knowledge in reach of the players
  • Have only one event in a session, not multiple
  • Provide a setting where the non-violent characters can show their strenghts
  • Introduce some actual human NPCs, instead of too many Nephilim

Preparation was interesting insofar as I wanted an interesting set of bidders present, as well as the opportunity for the players to screw themselves up by being greedy. I intentionally did not make up a bidding strategy or similar things, only a list of “high-profile” bidders that would compete for the four important items of the auction.

The players showed remarkable restraint in their bidding, which allowed them to have enough money left for both manuscripts. For me personally, this meant that there was a foregone conclusion: I knew that none of the NPCs could beat the player´s on the final auction, which took out a bit of tension for me, but the players assured me that they didn´t notice. 🙂

On the flip-side, some NPCs have powerful artifacts in their hands now as well, which might become relevant at a later time. The disgusting statue is actually a focus for a very powerful Fire spell.

What I did not like was the fact that I had to juggle too many NPCs, and thus could not flesh out their characters too much. I´ll have to work on that.

Between this session and the one before, I also had solo sessions with two of the players, which advanced several side-plots that were opened up during the beginning of the campaign. I will not discuss them here, as there is too much character knowledge in these, that I want to separate from player knowledge 🙂

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Nephilim – “Wrath”

(Disclaimer: This is for my Nephilim RPG players, if it read´s like a random part from the middle of a story…. that is correct, because it is exactly that.)

Wrath

Pergamon Museum, Berlin, South Wing, “Ishtar Gate”
Tuesday 11-APR-2017, 02:03AM Security Camera 7

A dimliy lit chamber, only illuminated by a few green exit lights.

The main feature of this room is the Ishtar Gate, a large arched structure, mosaicked with glazed, blue bricks , interspersed with yellow tiles, depicting aurochses and mušḫuššu.pergamon-ischtartor2bwhiteborder
It is of course merely a reconstruction, paling in comparison to the original gate.

This is largely irrelevant, as the serenity is abruptly disturbed by a crushing noise, as one of the walls, depicting lions and palm trees, shakes, cracks, and finally, in a shower of fragments and debris, bursts apart.

Out of the dust cloud steps a man with short-cropped, dark hair and a thin face. His black business suit is rumpled and smudged with grime.

A number of small, red spheres circle around him in overlapping arcs, their fiery glow bathing the room in a crimson light.
He cracks his neck, and starts to make his way through the gate into the next room.

His movements seem at odds with the shape of his body, as if a larger person is trapped within his slender frame.

Minor tremors shake the camera with each of his steps, and micro-fractures start to appear beneath his shoes in the limestone floor tiles, as he disappears around the corner.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Hall 3, “Pergamon Altar”
Tuesday 11-APR-2017, 02:06 AM Security Camera 11

The Pergamon Altar, main attraction of this museum, as well as it´s namesake.
Great steps lead towards an entrance flanked by pillars. The modern safety railings on the stairs marr the appearance of this ancient architecture.

It is flooded with pale moonlight, shining from the ceiling. The light moves in an odd way, slow, like syrup, and it originates from  a point just below the glass windows, not the night sky above.

As the man arrives, the hectically moving lights of his spheres clash with the streams of moonlight, sending shadows dancing across the room in irregular patterns.

The view evokes the images of a bizarre night club, but there is neither music nor dance, only the suited man, making his way towards the far side of the hall.

pergamon-altar1-plexusB

He does not seem interested in the altar or in the figure that approaches from the left entrance, shouting “Halt, stehenbleiben!

It is a security guard. He repeats his demand, trying to maintain a  firm voice, but he can not hide the fear within it.
Understandable, given the surreal scene before him.

The man does not react, but two of the spheres leave their orbits around his body, zig-zagging towards the guardsman.
They hit him in the torso and he collapses in front of the entrance.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Hall 1, “Greek Architecture”
Tuesday 11-APR-2017, 02:07 AM Security Camera 11

A smaller chamber, an exhibition room, it´s walls are lined with display cases, pillar tops, busts and statues. Several tall stone columns reach up, almost to the ceiling towards the high ceiling.

The man appears from a doorway to the left, and as his gaze falls upon the vitrines, his steps accelerate.
He raises his hands above his head and brings them down in a upon the first of the display cases in a powerful swing.Glass and ceramics shatter, as the contents of the vitrine are hurled about the room.
Quickly, he steps towards the next case and smashes it to the ground with a swiping motion.pergamon-heiligtum1bburning

Without pause, he strides along the wall, crushing vitrines and priceless statues as if they were toys in a child´s hands. His gaze flickers about the debris, as if he is looking for something particular, but can not find it.
A drawn out, guttural snarl erupts from his throat, the sound of an animal, certainly not a human being.

Again, a voice is heard, “H-halt, sofort aufhören!”. A guardswoman has appeared in the doorframe, holding a flashlight and a nightstick. She visibly shivers as she surveys the destruction before her.

The rampaging figure briefly pauses, snorts, and rams one of the tallest pillars with a full shove of his body.
It begins to topple towards the woman, who barely escapes with a yelp of terror.
The column´s segments break apart during it´s descent, falling upon a row of pillars near the doorway, which also crumble, burying the entryway in a heap of rubble and a deafening crescendo.

The aggressor freezes, as his gaze falls upon a small black object amidst the rubble.
He quickly picks it up, and lifts it in front of his face.

His head is visible to the camera now; An unremarkable face, clean shaven, young, with a thin nose under a pair of spectacles.
Unremarkable, except for the anger distorting his features.

Briefly, a smile replaces the scowl, while he considers the fist-sized onyx statuette in his hands.
It is a horned creature in a squatting posture, with it´s hands resting upon its knees.

Strangely, its visage is warped in a similar wrathful expression as the mans.

In the flashing, crimson light of the spheres, shadows play upon the idol, and for a fraction of a second, it appears to mirror his smile…

Nephilim – Chapter 2: Allies

(Disclaimer: This is a synopsis of the last session we had with our Nephilim RPG group, to give some context to the other posts. Don´t worry, some non-RPG, non-Nephilim stuff will come up soon. I also might write a quick summary of chapter 1, which was the opening session.)

Chapter 2: Allies

Sunday, 9th day of the month of  April, 2017 AD

Visiting the Dojo

On Yxdri´s Advice, the protagonists visit The Dojo, a high-class martial arts establishment, where they meet with the brothers, Eresh Szat and Eresh Khan, of the Justice Arcanum.

They learn that this is still not their final destination, and that they will have to swear a magical oath in order to meet with Skaro. They do so, in the Hall Of Justice, which is a hidden, cathedral-like underground structure, situated directly under the Dojo.

The oath is a spell of Ritual Magic, which Eresh Szat teaches to all members of the group. It requires them to swear upon their blood and the elements, to not harm each other or Skaro for the next eleven years.
Failure to do so promises a dire punishment.

While Sil’Faron peruses the library in the hall, Eresh Khan challenges Sha Naqba Imuru and the others to a practice duel.
They return to the Dojo, where Kek proceeds to demolish Eresh Khan as well as his two newfound friends Sha Naqba Imuru and Finistur, to the amazement of Gealach and an increasing crowd of onlookers.

Meeting Skaro

The oath being sworn, nothing stops them from meeting Skaro anymore; Eresh Szat brings them to her tower, which is apparently a skyscraper in the middle of Berlin. The group is told that they are being expected, and enter an elevator.

As they exit the lift, they are surrounded by impenetrable clouds of white smoke, and the being known as Skaro, the mistress of the white tower reveals itself to be a lithe, elderly woman; an Angel Nephilim of the Wheel of Fate Arcanum.

Three of our heroes learn that Skaro has put events in motion to awaken them from stasis, culminating in their arrival here.
She immediately hands over Gealach´s stasis, a gold bracelet inlaid with saphires, as a token of good will.

Finistur and Kek were not expected, but are not unwelcome, they are offered to join the effort, if they so desire.

The task

 

The Angel reveals to the group that she wants them to construct a Golem for her, and have it be at a certain place at a certain time, more than a year ahead.

Specifically, Sil’Faron is to acquire the magical formulae required to make a Golem, Sha Naqba Imuru is tasked with the physical construction of the Golem, and finally, Gealach should perform the necessary rituals to infuse it with life.

She offers them this as a form of deal, where she helps them with their goals, whatever they may be, while they help her tread the Golden Path toward Agartha (which she offers no specifics about).
It is also implied that by freeing them from stasis, the three of them are in her debt.

The topic of Sil’Faron´s stasis comes up as well; Skaro assumes that it still resides within the Pergamon museum, where she had it placed. The Templars must have simply missed it.

While this conversation took place,  Sil’Faron dispelled the magical fog, only to reveal to the group that, apparently, they are on the roof of the skyscraper… but the landscape below does not look like Berlin… in fact, there is not even a city.

They also find a large number of chess boards, one of them apparently new, with representations of them placed upon an empty board.

Sha Naqba Imuru finally gets some insight onto the identity of Harvey Reeves, a tinkerer of the Chariot Arcanum, who aided Skaro in freeing the group from their stasis; He receives a business card and the name of the hotel Harvey resides in.

Stepping back into the real world

As they return from the tower, a great deal of revelation heaped upon, and a grand task ahead of them, they part ways for the moment.

The following night, Finistur has a dream, featuring memories of her former life as Ferdinand, a 9th century knight, particularly a night in which she aided the Tower Arcanum in rescuing a group of Nephilim from a secret society.

However, mixed in with the memories is the recurring image of a black cat, gazing at her with a green and blue eye…

 

Nephilim – “Suspicion”

(Disclaimer: This is for my Nephilim RPG players, if it read´s like a random part from the middle of a story…. that is correct, because it is just that.)

Suspicion

Berlin, 3AM CEST, Joris arrives at Bergmannstrasse 57.

I approach Yxdri´s office, hoping that the newcomers have left by now.
I watched them fight, and they seem to be decent folk, if a little confused, but right now, I need to talk to him alone.
The light is still on, and their cars are gone.

Good.

I slip in through the unlocked back door, and make my way to the ‘waiting room for exotic animals’. He still thinks this joke is funny, even thought everybody knows it´s where he goes to smoke.

As I press my ear to the door, the veterinarian´s soft voice announces: “Enter, they are gone.”
I abide, and find him sitting on the worn out leather sofa. A smoky haze and the smell of marihuana fill the room.
Temperance1.png

Sitting down on the other couch, I remark “You are quite perceptive, for a stoner.”

“No, You just have become quite predictable. I knew you´d come back to talk. I´ve been waiting.”
He takes a puff from his joint, and leans back his head, smoke slowly rising from his mouth. Of course he is right, I have spent the last four hours driving through the rain, trying to calm the thoughts racing inside my head.

The Templars´ return, the new arrivals, the leak, so much has happened today.

“Earlier, you became quite agitated when I mentioned Skaro´s name. You even called her a traitor.” he continues.
I´m surprised he wants to discuss this. “That´s not at all what I wanted to talk about – ”

He sits up abruptly, his dizziness replaced by an ire I didn´t expect from him. “Really? You brought this up earlier. When they were here. You wanted them to hear it, why not me?” He is becoming louder, “It´s getting worse every time. What was it you told the last group that came here? ‘She is not to be trusted.’? What´s next? Will you hand them a gun, tell them to shoot her?”

“I…”, I start, but he interrupts me again. “This has to stop. At this point you are basically just slandering her. You´re helping no one, not even yourself.”

This is where I finally get a word in, “It´s not slander if there is truth to it. She could have helped. Instead, Khavesh died. Perhaps worse. It is her fault!”

The elf sighs, slumping back into his sofa. “This again. We talked about this so many times, you just can´t let go. You´re the most stubborn Nephilim I´ve ever met. 1600 years is a long time to hold a grudge.”

I really do not want to talk about this right now, I try to derail the conversation a little, “Have you ever met Theseus? I think he has me beat by a few centuries. Besides, 1600 years is also a long time to mourn a dead friend.”

“No, I haven´t met him, but I can´t believe he is as persistent as you are,” he ponders. “Maybe he´s at least working towards settling his grudge, whatever it is, instead of just being angry at the world? You´re just dragging her name through the mud, and that serves no one, the least of all Khavesh. You are so full of energy, but you are wasting it on being angry instead of productive! Maybe he can be restored? But you don´t even try!”

I stand up rapidly. He´s really pushing my buttons now. “What the fuck am I supposed to do? I stand alone against two secret societies, maybe even three! I can´t just run off to seek out his stasis?! I wouldn´t even know which continent to look on!”

A thought pushes itself to the front of my mind. The secret societies , the Templars!

Focus!

I snap out of my anger. Try to calm him down as well.
“We have no time for this. The Templars are back in Berlin. This is why I came back, what I wanted to talk to you about. We´re in deep shit.”

Yxdri looks puzzled at the sudden change of topic, “Yes, of course. You already told me that.”

“No”, I reply, “They are back, yes, but that´s not the real problem. It´s the timing. Ten years of silence, and now they just happen to stumble back into Berlin, steal the stases that we wanted right from under our noses? This can´t be a coincidence.”

He strokes his chin, the anger forgotten momentarily, uncertainty, perhaps fear, in it´s stead. “You think someone tipped them off?”

Back to familiar territory, this is what I am good at.
“I´m not sure, either someone tipped them off, or we have some kind of information leak. They might have infiltrated the CT, and they in turn might have shadowed me, ” I pause for a moment, ” or Skaro has a traitor in her employ.”

His glares at me, the agitation resurfacing, “Again with this traitor nonsense. You -”

This time it´s me who interrupts him. “No, I mean someone who betrayed her. It has happened before.”.

He shakes his head. “No, that´s impossible. You wouldn´t know, but she now let´s the brothers have everyone swear an oath, a magically binding one, to not harm her in any way. Nobody gets to even see her before that.”
“Smart.” I say, “Hmmm, It´s obviously not the new guys either. Wouldn´t make sense for them to tip off the Templars, only to then slaughter them like cattle.”
BlastedTower1

My mind is working on full speed now, juggling ideas on how to handle this situation.

Step One. Find the problem and eliminate it.
“You should ask her who was involved in this museum stunt. All of them could be the leak. And all of them are in danger.”

Doubt creeps into his look, “But you know how she is, with her secrets, she won´t just tell me the names of all those people.”

I interject, “I know how she is, secretive, cryptic, obtuse. But she´s not stupid. Explain the situation to her, and she will understand. After all, what use is her high tower, when every one of her agents on the ground is murdered by Templars.”

Step two. Secure the perimeter. “Oh, and also get rid of all your mobile phones, get new email addresses and everything, maybe even move. Talk to people in person, so that you can´t be monitored that easily. Also tell that to her recruits, they are new to the twenty-first century, they might not be used to this yet.”

“Right. I´ll see what I can do. What will you do?”

Step three. Counter-Intelligence, Counter-Attack. “I will lay low for a while. Watch from the shadows, see if they are setting up a stronghold in Berlin. Wait for them to make a mistake. We have driven out of Berlin before. We can do it again.”

“I hope so… “, he changes the topic, ” ‘Slaughtered like cattle’ you say, so the new ones are powerful? Maybe they can help?”.

I think back to the skirmish for a moment, “Maybe. They seemed to favour raw force and physical combat instead of magic or stealth. But yeah, they made quick work of the Templars without me. Caught them in a pincer movement, sent the armored girl in first. So at least one of them has an idea of tactics I guess.”

His eyes light up, and he voices an idea. “Perhaps one of them can help you find Khavesh´s stasis afterwards? There are two more of them than usual.”

“Perhaps. One step at a time.” A yawn escapes my lips. ” I´m tired, let´s speak of this tomorrow. Can I crash at your place tonight?”

“Always.”

Nephilim – Prologue

The sky is almost clear today. A good omen.

After the incident in Japan, I am left with little choice, I must find help from outside.
Of those available to me, a careful selection has been made:
The alchemist, the centrepiece of my strategy.
I would have preferred someone a little more predictable, but alas, I am not spoiled for choice.
The spearhead could prove to be the creative, driving force for this operation. The symbol seems quite appropriate.
And last, but not least, the scholar will be necessary to acquire the proper tomes and formulae. I imagine them to be the thinker in this trio.
All of them were alive in recent times, so they should not have too much trouble adjusting to the new millennium.

If my information is correct, they even had prior contact, in the 19th century, this should maximize the chance of cooperation.

All the preparations for their release have been made:

By careful manipulation of the museum administration, the three stasis objects are in place. 

Harvey has set up his devices; This was very expensive for me, he actually demanded two favours for this.
I reluctantly agreed, on the condition that he name his first one right now.
To my surprise, he demanded money, an obscene amount of it, but still, only money, an easily fulfilled request.
In turn, he offered to contact the spearhead himself and put in a good word for me.

He stands to gain even more out of this deal, if his new machine works, which I do not doubt, the Merkabah will make him an initiate immediately.

And finally, Akim, he resides in a hotel near the museum, just waiting for my signal.
His task will actually be the easiest, the casting of a single spell, but such an important one.

I think I will call him personally, just this one time, for the sake of old times.

An endeavour of this magnitude should have a bit of a personal touch.

The board is prepared, the bets are placed, the pieces have been selected.
Time to place them on the board.
 

Awaken.

– Journal entry from the private archive of Skaro, Sunday, second day of April in the year  2017 AD, translated from handwritten Adamic script.