Wednesday, January 25, 2017

[Nightlife: The Demon's Mirror] "Cuts You Up" (Episode Eight)

Jerry Belvedere returns to beg a favor. Ken's erratic behavior worries Amy. Strange encounters ensue after multiple stakeouts.

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  1. Another absorbing episode. I really am enjoying these an awful lot as storytelling (in the normal sense, not the pretentious White Wolf sense). It's genuinely suspenseful to find out what happens from week to week, and beyond that, I'm really interested to see how all this impacts Aaron's life in the shared world when we return to him.

    I don't suppose you could be talked into adding a third Werewolf chronicle into the mix? I never played Werewolf (because my friends weren't drawn by the basic concept), and I've already commented about what I like and don't like about Rein Dot Hagen's implementation of a game about werewolves. But I was intrigued by the appearance of the wolf pack in this episode.

    It's also interesting to me how this is an aspect of the way in which this reflects the development of the oWoD at the time. Vampire, in a pop-cultural sense, massively outweighed the other games - not only the first, but the most important. But in-universe, it was the most restricted and parochial: Vampire encouraged a game that was basically about vampires and was very local, and one in which the overall metaphysics behind all these supernatural creatures was both mysterious and didn't matter very much.

    Then Werewolf started to up-end all that by having you consciously engaged in a struggle against one of the Cosmic Forces That Rule The Entire Universe. And Mage managed to make *that* seem small.

    This curiously unbalanced the line, as Vampire, the most successful game (both commercially and aesthetically, although for me Mage comes close on the aesthetic count) was in-universe the least significant.

    In this game, too, Aaron basically knows about and interacts with vampires, while Amy's world is opening up to a broader range of supernatural creatures.

    1. WtA was actually the first proper White Wolf game I owned (I'd bought GURPS Vampire a year or two previous), and, I believe, the first I tried to run. I think we got through character creation and maybe one session. I recall sensing, even in my relatively uninformed state at the time, the dramatic shift that WtA brought to the World of Darkness milieu, and I was somewhat put off by it. Where was the gothic-punk I'd been promised??

      But yeah, the escalation in power as well was something that really set the game apart.

      I could see running WtA for the group--Werewolf is much more a pack-oriented game, obviously. Probably use Rage Across Russia and set the chronicle at the same approximate time as the duets, thus setting it against the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

      But then again, I'm also intrigued by the idea of a group Hunter game, as I've mentioned. We'll see.

      If I were to add a third game to the duet rotation, it would almost certainly be Mage. I've got the 20th Anniversary edition on my shelf, taunting me. I've never run or played it, but it intrigues me to no end.

    2. Mage is one of those games that I always wanted to try, but was put off by the other players because, as I under stood it, the magic system is so complex and shuts the game down. I'd love to hear you take it for a spin though. Maybe call Susan over for consultation? I recall she was passionate about the game.

    3. (meant to say something to the effect of: was put off by other players explanation of how the magic system blablaa... but got distracted)

    4. I've had a similar experience with it. Just today, in fact, I spotted this post on Facebook:

      In tonight's installment of "The Crazy Things That Mages Do..." our intrepid heroes discover that their adversaries are based out of a mysterious Clocktower hidden deep in the Abyss. They start to formulate a plan...
      Mages: "So, this place is in the Abyss, right? If we create enough Paradox, we can potentially summon an Abyssal Spirit. We can then interrogate the hell out of it using Spirit - that way, we might be able to learn something about the Clocktower, it's inhabitants, their powers, etc..."
      17 Paradox dice later after deliberately over-reaching a number of spells...
      Oh boy. What a way to start the next session!

      Is it wrong to call this Dr. Strange: the RPG? ;)

      Back when I picked up the core M20 book, I also made sure to order this supplement to help me figure things out:

    5. I never played Mage - I'd moved away from my gaming group when it came out. But I bought it out of interest. It came across as a great game, but not a game set in the World of Darkness so much as its own freaky psychedelic universe. I was actually going radically to power down mages if I ever played it - I was envisaging a game that was pretty much Hellblazer, with characters who used bluff and knowledge to outwit theoretically more powerful creatures all the time.

  2. Also, forgot to mention this: but I was really scared that Amy versus the Werewolves would turn into a fight scene. I'm not sure that Amy would have a chance, and given that she's basically clashed with the wimpy, fragile likes of vampires, I don't think she knows that. And she never backs down from a fight, does she?

    1. Ooh yeah. I was getting anxious about that too. Werewolves are so OP it's retarded.

    2. I keep using Lupines as a sort of back-pocket threat, like a nuclear arsenal. I expect that one of these days we'll see what they're really capable of. O__o

      The episode posting today features a tense moment where I was really not sure if Amy was going to back down or not. It's not with werewolves, but an opponent just as deadly...