Sunday, 22 March 2015

Mage the Awakening: No Mean City

Way, way back in 2011 I spoke about starting a Werewolf: The Forsaken Game chronicile in Glasgow. It kind of fell through, but I've about to start DMing a Mage chronicle based loosely on the original campaign outline, with a few changes here and there to bring it up to speed with the present day.

Here's a nice piece of foreshadowing I sent my players, along with a portrait of our first character, Becca Adams/Threnody Noire. Mage and Burlesque dancer extraordinaire. I'll put up her full profile and background in a couple of days.


An hour south of Glasgow, the bus slumbers. The "Let it Go" family at the front of the bus have fallen silent, bleary-eyed parents whispering quietly over the somnolent forms of their sleeping children. The rugby-sevens team from Glasgow University, triumphant after their away victory at King's College, London, are snoring loudly. The contents of their re-filled "soft-drinks" bottles long since imbibed by throats parched in the dry heat of the darkened cabin. The bus is lit intermittently by the passing motorway lights, illuminating the cabin every few moments in a rhythm uncannily in tune with the human heart beat. Overhead, a few reading lights remain lit, indicating that you are not the only passenger still awake on the packed London-to-Glasgow Express. Muted, ceiling-mounted televisions display BBC News 24. Tomorrow's referendum on Independence looms large in the hourly newscasts, the sombre faces of the anchors looking ever so slightly troubled at the prospect that tomorrow might witness the death of the United Kingdom. The latest poll figures flash ominously across the bottom of the screen. "Should Scotland be an Independent Country?" 51% Yes, 49% No.

The bus is packed with expatriates returning home, many of them City professionals who work in London through the week, returning to their families mostly at weekends; taking a rare weekday break to cast their ballot. Forced to "slum" it in the bus with the riff-raff by the huge numbers of Scot's clogging the United Kingdoms airways and railways. All desperate to have a say in their country's future. A future in which only the Scots - and a few hundred thousands other EU nationals living in Scotland- will have a right to vote in a matter that affect the future of every man, woman and child in three countries and one province.

Someone coughs a little further down the aisle. It's the off-shift driver, stirring in his sleep. His leg stretched far out into the centre isle. You can just barely hear the stilted "patter" of the late night Radio Clyde DJ, his voice meandering lazily down the aisle to your seat in the middle of the bus. A few rows further down, you can hear the French woman make another disgusted tutting noise as -for the third time in as many hours- she's forced to nudge the head of a sleeping drunk away from her shoulder.

You're just about to -finally- doze off when a intense flash of orange light fights its way past your closed eye-lids. You've no time to blink away the after-image before the blast hits you -followed shortly thereafter by a wall of sound and humans screams. You feel your stomach lurch, grateful you had the sense to leave your seat restraints buckled as floor becomes the ceiling and two dozen passengers fall from their seats onto the roof and luggage racks. A terrible shriek of grinding metal tells you the bus is on it's roof, sliding across the motorway embankment. With another sudden lurch, the bus rolls. One of the "Let it Go" Children flies past you, her horrified baby-scream lost in the noise and tumult. Something wet, acid and smelling of bile soaks your clothes, a window smashes, and a man is crushed as the bus rolls again, his upper torso still in the bus while the lower is pulped into paste by the still-rolling vehicle.

After a few moments more, the bus comes to an -almost- rest. It's not moving any more, but it's rocking up and down like a see-saw, as though poised at the edge of something. You can hear what sounds like gunfire nearby. Outside, you see lightning flash. Was it lightning that did this? But no, the skies were clear. You reach up to a warm sticky spot on your forehead. Some-ones blood is running down your face. That's when you see the rapidly approaching headlights. There's a screech of brakes then... nothing.

It feels like a very, very long time before you wake up.