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  • Lucid Tales – Eve

    Cold masks smells. Something I found myself surprisingly thankful for, once my body began to adjust to the frigid nature of the bus. To coin a phrase, we were the unwashed masses. I, reeking of a Bake house in its last stages of life, the wino with her collection of candy colored stains on layers of jackets, the two bullyboys clad in leather and sweat from the kicking’s they gave the night before.

    The boys didn’t try to hide what they were, leering from the raised back end of the bus as if they along were the sovereign rulers of this small icy kingdom. They gripped the safety bars with bloodied knuckles and smiled at any that bothered looking up at them. The world was simple for these boys. Strength, that’s all that mattered.

    Was it so different for our kind?

    “Our kind.” The words escaped in a croak as I realized how exhausted I really was. A J-pop princess looked up from a hand screen. It was a brief look then she returned to whatever she had been doing.

    The sun was breaking as the bus pulled into the station. Already the morning crowds were swelling around the transit bays. Facing another blast of frigid air, I’m reminded of the lingering chemical stench on my body. Although, no one else at the station seems to notice over the general aroma of men and women being herded off to their jobs.

    A tube takes me underground; the trains in Tiergarten ran deep. Well below the old rail lines, these tunnels were virtual public bomb shelters. Inside the affluent districts, there was a series of security checkpoints before reaching the trains. Out here on the outskirts of the city, they only cared if you could pay the toil. Not smart security since it’s the same trains.

    The appearance of security for those that believed in it, out on the outskirts, there was no need for pretense. Until I knew what Ember was, there was no going home. I needed answers and soon enough I would be another worm sinking into the pristine garden.



  • Off The Beaten Path 5: Anniston, Alabama, ASA

     

     

     

    Near the heart of the Reclaimer movement in Atlanta, Georgia, ASA were any number of small towns. Just across the Georgia/Alabama border is one such town, Anniston. Before and throughout most of the war Anniston drifted along, another sleepy town well removed from real conflict. When the ASA began military operations in Mexico long simmering tensions erupted.

     

    What had been a sleepy paper mill town exploded in racial tension. At first attacks were subtle, targeting the poorest Hispanic families. As the conflict in Mexico escalated and spilled into Texas so did the attacks on innocent people inside the Anniston going so far as to see a resurgence of the Klan and events such as public lynching’s. This racial violence was not unique to Anniston, as crimes targeting Hispanics surged across the ASA, particularly in the Southern states.

     

    As the US continued to destabilize leading up to the Purge, the Church of the Reclaimer took up roots in Anniston. Religious fervor tapped into the fears of the town and was able to shape it. In the years before the Purge Anniston was a central training facility for the Church’s bombers. Coordinating with other small and medium sized towns already affiliated with the Church thousands of sleeper agents were decimated through the US, and then ASA leading up to the Purge.

     

    The years that followed the embargo and reassertion of national governments have not been kind to the people of Anniston. For years, the city was home to a host of investigators, law enforcement, and mercenaries conducting sweeps searching Church radicals and militants. The post war economy of the city all but non-existent. Government aid was brought in to support the survivors.

     

    For all this Anniston has not fallen into the obscurity of history. Much of the city remains a burned out husk of its former self. While Atlanta has licked its wounds and covered over its scars Anniston was never able to fully recover. Because of this, there has been a steady growth of Post War tourism, people looking to explore the horrors of war, without the dangers of the Wastes. This has made Anniston ideal.

     

    Story Seeds

    Memories: While the Church’s influence may have been scrubbed from the surface, there may still be a strong underground presence within the community. This underground faction may be looking to recruit muscle willingly or not. PCs displaying any kind of supernatural ability may find themselves kidnapped.

     

    Lost Souls: A fog of regret and misery floats over the town of Anniston. This is a real effect left over from of those that died in the town during the Purge. While not an actual Bridge or Gate with the right influences one may easily form.  For this reason the Templar, Spirit Callers and Keepers have all taken interest in the town. While neither faction has made a move yet, the Templar and Callers sit on the edge of a discovery the Keepers are sworn to prevent.



  • Off The Beaten Path 4: Basilica of the Pillar, Zaragoza, Spain


    While Spain and Portugal remained relatively free from the horrors of the Great War, like Italy and Rome, they suffered heavily through the Purge.  The Zaragoza province, an early stronghold of the Church was one of the last to fall after the signing of the United Liberties Pact. Strangling land trade between Bilbao and Barcelona, the Church was able to cut off recourses to other major cities through control of Zaragoza.

     

    During the dark days of the Purge, the Church of the Reclaimer held the ancient Basilica of the Pillar as their seat of power. From here, they scourged the population of the Zaragoza province often arranging public stoning for those guilty of biblical crime. Victims of Church law were bound to stone posts outside the Basilica, their bodies left to rot as examples.

     

    Historians estimate over a thousand men and women were stoned at the Basilica of the Pillar. The High Priest Will, the Just, was said to be especially mindful of harlots, sluts and whores. There are multiple stories of pregnant women, killed for the crime of fornication.  Why the High Priest over Zaragoza province targeted these women specifically remains a mystery as Will, the Just, was killed in the bombing of the C51 train to Madrid carrying the fleeing oligarch and several of his high-ranking followers.

     

    For years after the Purge, the Basilica of the Pillar remained closed to the public as various government agencies combed the building and sister structures for information.  Today, the Basilica has returned to Catholic control. No longer active as a place of worship, the Basilica has been converted to a museum of religious artifacts that survived the Purge in Spain.

     

     

    The Haunting of the Basilica of the Pillar

     

    Those with supernatural sensitivities may feel a feminine energy flowing through the Basilica, resonating most powerfully around the old alter. Through the years, there have been many reports of penitents witnessing the ghostly figure of a woman in blue and white lighting votive candles. While the stories are common around the first weeks of January, and February, the phenomena appear to become strong through the months of August and September.

     

    During the months of August and September, the fabric between Realms also seems to waver. There is a strong attunement to the Slumber. Any Character with Realm Sense will be able to feel this immediately through the grounds of the Basilica. The resonance appears strongest at the altar and votive tables.

     

    GMs may lower the Difficulty to activate any Slumber Boon or use of the Enter the Dream Flow Focus. During these times passing between the Slumber and Walking World may be easier for entities such as Broken Dreams.

     

    While a shallow point between the Waking World and the High Heavens, the Watchtower does not claim any outright dominion over the Basilica. This does not mean they are not aware of the strange nature of the Basilica. However, they remain conspicuously absent from all politics around the venerable site. The Watchtower does however keep multiple observation teams in and around Zaragoza. Why they maintain such a low profile concerning the Basilica is unknown.



  • Off The Beaten Path 3: The Northern Stelae Park, Axum, Ethiopia

     

    Northern Ethiopia is home to the semi-autonomous city-state of Axum. It is a city of conquerors and the conquered. Once a seat of power for the Kingdom of Aksum, this progenitor nation predates Christianity by a century or more. With the advent of the Purge these are only a few of the details lost to the modern world.

     

    Central to present day Axum is the Northern Stelae Park, a holy site and presumed graveyard marked by ancient stone markers rising eight to twenty-four meters in height. These Stelae or gravestones are presumed to be markers for kings and warlords of a forgotten kingdom. Recovered documentation indicate that both the Obelisk, the tallest of the still standing Stelae, and King Ezana’s Stele were moved to Italy at one point. Records as to how, why, and when the Stelae were recovered are unclear.

     

    Each of the Stelae within the park are ornately carved, almost as if they were small buildings with false doors and windows.  The carvings are intricately detailed, possessing markings, which can no longer be translated accurately.

     

    Open to the public, the park is often visited by new age and mystic types, attempting to reconnect with older spiritualities or spirits themselves. This effort is not entirely without merit. Anyone visiting the site possessing the Realm Sense Focus can feel Grave resonance. This resonance is noticeably stronger than an average graveyard. Those with Ghost Sight may pick up faint wisps or trails through the park, along with the sensation of danger, or immanent battle.  These sensations are strongest at the Obelisk of Axum.

     

    Characters attempting to use the Spirit Travel Ability within the Stelae Park do not need to roll to Slip The Body as long as they posses a single level or more in Spirit Travel.

     

    Things Best Left In The Past

    Both Spirit Callers and the Church of Unua take a heightened interest in the Stelae Park. The Spirit Callers see the park as a link to the Grave while the Unuans believe Axum may have been either Eden or a recreation of it. While the city lacks other resonance sites, the carvings on the Stelae are enough to indicate a clear link to the unified city.

     

    Both Baronies have been locked in a three-way stalemate over control of Axum with the Keepers. While the Keepers do acknowledge the park’s historical value they fear it is a sleeping Gate to the Grave. That alone is reason enough to have the entire site wiped clean and the Stelae destroyed.

     

    Between the lines of war are the Qdus Arbanya, a small coven of native Lucids that work to undermine all three Baronies though bureaucratic movements circumventing plots to take legal control or alter the area in any way. The Qdus Arbanya takes exceptional precautions to avoid intervening directly working through proxy companies and special interest groups. Their operatives are not above manipulating new age tourists into taking action on their behalf without ever revealing who they really are, or what their goals may be. With the presence of the Callers, Unuans, and Keepers the Qdus Arbanya have become adept at playing one off the other and keeping suspicions high and pointed at other Baronies.

     

    Players finding their way to Axum could easily be drawn into this four-sided conflict.



  • Off The Beaten Path 2: Asdament South West Manufacturing Hub, Teotihuacan

    To: BoardList@ Asdament.gov.asda

    CC: <Redacted>

    Subject: — Internal Only — Corporate Manufacturing Site Southwest

    All southwest manufacturing hub <Redacted> remain internal only.

    The southwest manufacturing hub <Redacted> supports 65,400 indigene workers all housed within the facility. Citizen-Employees earn debt for maturation and delivery costs as well as productivity drain on parental units. Year four Citizen-Employees being their education regimen, education, and training debts subsided by ASA developmental incentives.   Citizen-Employees receive incentive to educate as desired, up to but not limited to doctorate level development, noting cost adjustments for non-primary educational services. The expectation of Citizen-Employees is to work until repayment of maturation, infant and educational costs as well as any additional housing, food or incremental costs incurred.

    The southwest hub continues to operate at sub-peak levels. Noted performance detractors include, but are not limited to, equipment malfunction, fatigue, illness, and insurgency. Recommended mitigation strategy:

    1.  Current generation students are incentivized to maintenance positions by increasing education costs of non-repair training.
    2. Increased methamphetamine levels are being integrated into first meal routines. Food debts incurred by Citizen-Employees adjusted accordingly.
    3. Upgrades to Citizen-Employee housing offered.  Housing debts adjusted.
    4. Current generation students are incentivized to security positions by increasing education costs of non-security training.

    <Signature Redacted>

     

    The Peoples History of Teotihuacan

    The Great War saw upraising in countries across the world. In the former country of Mexico, drug cartels overturned the national and local governments. The cartels created small kingdoms for themselves before the Juarez Massacre in 2130, and the libration, or annexation, of Mexico in 2133. During this period of cartel rule, murder and wholesale slaughter of villages became a common occurrence. Mexico City, a war zone of competing drug lords saw daily death tolls in the double and triple digits. For protection, many innocent people fled to Teotihuacan ruins looting the few remaining corporate controlled markets outside of the tourist site.

    The old city built to hold thousands retained structures for millennia, the pyramids alone large enough to house scores of survivors. Ransacking the commercial box stores the retail giants that encircled the ruins refugees collected whatever they could to survive an indefinite conflict. In 2134 nearly a year after the liberation of Mexico surveyors found a thriving community within the now rebuilt city. While most of the city was without power, supplies harvested provided basic services. Layers of solar arrays were staggered along the old temples to the Sun and Moon Gods to generate power for the town’s water purifiers and essential functions. Teotihuacan having no radio, satellite, or other media services had been unaware of the death of Felipo Soto, a dictator that had risen to power and unified the cartels.

    In the aftermath of the Teotihuacan discovery, and the integration of the Mexican states into the new ASA, Asdament International, the world’s fourth largest retailer and a major partner in Reclaimer Embargo brought a class action lawsuit against the peoples of Teotihuacan for the willful destruction of private property and, theft, and vandalism.   The city was bankrupted in under six weeks and the land purchased by Asdament. That was the beginning of the southwest hub, and the legend the Feathered Serpent’s return.

     

    The Cohuatl

    While the salves of the Asdament state know the name of the Cohuatl, it is a closely guarded secret within the community. Eighty years ago, they were a small Coven of Lucids that helped to protect fleeing refugees. They had no interest in politics and were content to survive below the radar in the turbulent times. As the people of Teotihuacan were stripped of their rights through a series of corrupt rulings this began to change.

    Originally, there were only three. Today there are maybe two hundred or more, not including a support network of sympathizers.  Few are actually Lucid. The majority are mundane freedom fighters born into the legalized slavery of Teotihuacan. The Cohuatl gather information leaking what they can, when they can to the public. However, they fear the public is unaware, or worse unsympathetic. Sadly, those inside the Teotihuacan hub have virtually no knowledge of the outside word anymore beyond stories from the oldest members of the community.

    It seems that while there are still some Lucid among the ranks of the Cohuatl Asdament maintains interests beyond the mundane as well. The old Sun God temple has been locked down for decades. Here prisoners are transported and simply disappear. The Cohuatl believe there is one touched by Itzcoliuhqui, god of darkness.

     

    Adventure Seeds

    Teotihuacan is off the map, in a legal sense. The complex does exist on paper, as a historical footnote, and in rumors about slaver companies in the ASA. Although, technically what Asdament does to their employees is legal, by the loosest definitions of the law. Players may be exploring Teotihuacan from the outside, or from within as members of the Cohuatl.

    The Aztec ruins were built to last and contained temples to both the sun and moon. GMs may choose to ramp up the supernatural forces at play with intermediate bridges to both the Slumber and Dark from various points within the compound. Asdament may be a front for a larger coven or Barony.



  • Lucid Tales – Canaan

    There is little that makes sense when I step out of the amphetamine-laced walls of the hole I met, really met, Ember in. The stench lingered on me, the chemical smell of boiling drugs. Snorting into my cigarette, ash balloons out in small carcinogenic tornadoes  There was no telling where I was walking too, or if I was heading towards anything in particular as I spat the cigarette from my mouth.

     

    Filthy, not the cigarette, me. Walking into that apartment building, I had been righteous. Now, I was just a man that lacked the courage of his convictions. She called us Nephilim, the sons of gods and daughters of men. Whatever that meant.  Before, I had been a detective, afterwards, I still was. There was no divinity to Lucidity. We were the same scared children crying in the dark and looking for answers.

     

    Maybe that is what was appealing about the Keepers. The Keepers did not try to explain our nature or the supernatural connections. They understood that people with power tend to abuse the powerless and that meant protecting the innocent. Maybe that resonated with my cop mind. Was it that simple though? Ember was a killer, the Dark was a hungry place and she shared that ravenous need for life.

     

    Who did she kill though? Killers, would be killers? Wasn’t that the protection of the innocent as well? Was she damned because of her gifts? If she were one of them, they would call her a vigilante, mundane, weak and something ultimately destined for failure or death. She was Lucid, or Nephilim, or whatever, and so it was unlikely any beat cop, pimp or drug dealer was ever going to be able to stop her. Why should I though? What gave me any greater authority over her?

     

    Sliding down into the hard plastic of a transit stop bench my eyes drift over empty streets. What would it be if everything was even? What if she was just a fly by night vigilante and I was still a real cop? She would have killed at least four people, no matter how justified; she would be arrested, and be forced to stand trial. We weren’t normal though were we?  There was no arrest; there was no judge or jury of her peers. She was Lucid and a killer. According to the Keepers that meant she had to die.

     

    She wasn’t just murdering random people, Ember knew them. Knew them in a way no mundane cop or judge could ever know the heart of a man on trial. Did that matter? According to the Keepers it didn’t. The murder of the mundane was justified only in the most extreme cases of defense. In the eyes of the Keepers she had to die.

     

    What was I then? I had seen this woman, heard the stories that no one shares. Nephilim she called us, more than man. Did that make us the incarnation of angels and demons? Somehow, I did not believe Ember though herself a god.  So why the pretentious titles?  That alone would sanction her execution.

     

    Nearly four and there was no escape from the heat on the street. Trying to put together any coherent thoughts seemed doomed to circular logic. Sweating and staring down the street at the oncoming bus I felt like a line assembler in one of the big auto plants. Only my one arm, the one that screws down the frame’s bolts is malfunctioning. It keeps tightening down, and I can hear the frame grinding in my mind.

     

    The bus arrives with a wave of heat and dust and neon adverts for some casino down the line in Little Osaka. Wiping the sweat from my face, my palm comes away wet and dripping grey. Automatic doors swing open and I go from the hell of a jungle’s fires to bitter snow. The blast of control air jars me, turns me into brittle and I can hear little chunks of myself breaking off as I stand to get into the bus.

     

    What part of me was being left out in the morning heat? I needed to think, and to do that, I needed to understand who Ember really was. I needed to know what it meant to be Nephilim.