Rage Across Baltimore

Second Story: Nascence

The hunt for a Totem

Four Garou cubs have survived their first adventure together in Rage Across Baltimore, and together they struck a blow against the forces of the Wyrm. But before they can take action against the likes of the Black Spiral Loki’s Grin or the Wyrmish wildcard Sophia, the time has come for the pack to choose the totem that best represents them…or perhaps it’s more a case of hunting down a totem willing to adopt the urrah pack.

The choice of which totem the Garou decide to serve grants that totem and its Incarna the power of their devotion, and in return they gain the patronage of that totem spirit and some of its power. Most packs choose a totem of Respect, War, or Wisdom, corresponding with the types of Renown that the Garou Nation values. Although perhaps this pack will go the route of a totem of Cunning and take the less honorable, less respected — more unexpected — path.

The totem will help to define the pack and its goals, and all too soon it may give them their sacred journey to perform, as has been prophesied for the time of Apocalypse. But first, the pack will have to find a totem, and convince the spirit to join with them, perhaps by undertaking a quest on its behalf…

Pack

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Chapter 1 update: After a couple of days to recover from their initial misadventure, the pack has met back up at the Sept to discuss formalizing their relationship in Garou society. With so many totems out there to consider, and with such a disparate little bunch of misfits to join together, most traditional totems seem out of the question.

While Zero would of course prefer to serve Cockroach, what with the significant benefits to his line of work, he’s more or less resigned to not getting such a specialized totem for this pack. He chooses Chimera as his backup. Likewise for Brickbat, who might go in for the likes of Rat or Raccoon, though it’s debateable if anyone else would tolerate such debased spirits of urban survival. As for the sept itself, the Fianna suggest useful compromises like Boar, Weasel or Unicorn. And Razvan, the odd man out, may like Bull or Crow, although Crow suggests a certain subservience to a higher authority, or else undermining and destroying an authority found wanting.

Although they seem to lean in the direction of a totem of Wisdom like Chimera, Unicorn or even Fog, the pack met with their elder, the sept leader Vaughan, for advice. But the Fianna aren’t about to order them to take up the mantle of Stag, so…it seems the new pack will soon team up with Moira, the sept’s ritemaster, and embark on their hunt for a totem. They have a goal at least, to save the city from the Wyrm through knowledge more than main strength. And they may do so under the banner of Last Call, unless someone else comes up with a better name for them.

Second Story: Nascence
 

Chapter 2 update: With a day to kill before the planned Rite of the Totem, Razvan took the time to check in with his family, bringing them up to date on his unusual (and perhaps, to them, somewhat disgraceful) packmates. Meanwhile, Willow tended to her urban farming enterprise, bringing a batch of home-grown mugwort for the ritual, and Zero spent the day uncovering information about their current nemesis Sophia. Her links to the clubbing nightlife and old money from banking could prove useful intel, somewhere down the line.

After that, the pack met back up on another hot summer evening, August in Baltimore, with the sun still up and the moon waxing to half-fullness. Crossing over to the Umbra under the guidance of Moira, the sept’s Ritemaster, most of the pack took to wolf form and sussed out a trail to follow with their keen noses. Following it led them away from the spiritually barren downtown, to the edge of the city, bordering on the wilderness (or perhaps just the suburbs) beyond.

It was there that the trail ended in a whole crowd of spiritual fauna, a wide variety of spirits that met up to answer Moira’s call and size up the new pack. New Garou packs are rare enough, and the times desperate enough, that many totems would enjoy the devotion of these urrah. Willow’s understanding of Spirit Speech allowed her to interpret the will of the spirits, as Owl questioned them as to their chosen purpose. Although they seem to have it in mind to save the city from the forces of the Wyrm that plague it, they don’t know where to begin. To the point that they can’t even decide who should be their alpha!

But while the alpha of a wolf pack is a stable position, in a pack of Garou the alpha is whoever should lead at that moment, for their purpose at that moment. Although Brickbat just can’t see himself leading under any circumstance, in this case — an Umbral quest — it’s time for Willow, the Theurge, with the understanding a metis brings from growing up in Garou society, to take charge for now.

And so the pack has a quest to complete for the spirits vying to claim them. Their task is to track down a lost Garou, reportedly a Get of Fenris from the Sept of Unbroken Synergy, and see where this hunt leads them. This may provide some of the knowledge they seek, to understand the problems of Baltimore and how to handle them. It may also provide the spirits with an example, of how this pack works and which of the totem spirits best suits them.

Second Story: Nascence
 

Chapter 2.5 update: Short session last week, so we’ll finish the action next time.

Under the leadership of their Theurge, Willow…along with the spiritual guidance of a shapeshifting spirit called Gordias…the new pack began their Umbral quest by searching for the Abyss realm, where a lost Fenrir from the Sept of Unbroken Synergy was reportedly lost. After Razvan, Brickbat and Willow all sniffed out different trails to follow, the Theurge finally broke down and made a choice for the pack.

Who knew the alpha post would be so trying!

So, with a snail/opossum/glow-worm spirit tagging along and offering some guidance, the pack tracked down the crack in the world, and even Zero was obliged to put on his wolf skin for a little while. And after arriving, they soon found the first challenge of the Abyss, the mere sight of it making it difficult not to stare. It appears that the trail continues, however, and so Last Call may have to climb down or brave one of the narrow, perilous pathways down into the Abyss.

Even Gordias, their tagalong/guide, is curious to know what the pack is willing to risk to find the knowledge they seek. Face the peril!

Second Story: Nascence
 

Chapter 3 update: In this session, Last Call took the plunge, so to speak, and ventured down the Iron Path into the Abyss. With their spirit friend Gordias offering the only light down there, the Garou were soon forced to navigate by touch and scent as much as by sight, if not more.

Although the Iron Path offered the safest route down, even this one proved rather dangerous for the pack…because, after they’d reached a certain…depth, they lost sight of the surface, and in time the glow-worm light they were using was swallowed by the pull of the Abyss. And their Theurge guide, Willow, fell victim to hallucinations from the Abyss, nearly plunging to her death, if not for some quick action from Zero! (chomp)

Shuffling blindly downward, the pack struggled to continue. Razvan showed his uncharacteristic (for an Ahroun) cleverness, in marking their path with his Razor Claws. Guided by distant screaming that snuck up on them rather abruptly, they found…someone…alive, in the dark. After a confusing, frightening scuffle the pack had seemingly found their prize. And so, following his trail back up from the utter darkness, Razvan led them back into the light.

Last Call has found their lost Fenrir — although she may be deranged beyond help from her experience in the Abyss. As their spirit tagalong, Gordias, has questioned, how far will they go in search of the wisdom they need to save Baltimore? We’ll find out, in the next turgid episode!

Second Story: Nascence
 

Chapter 4 update: The pack was tempted to look for the reputed Silver Path into the Abyss and its promise of ancestral wisdom. But the young Garou were knocked off this path after exploring for a while, when the Get of Fenris they found woke up. This brought the real question to the fore: what do they need to know, now, and what can wait for their next aisling into the Umbra?

After a few confused moments, the lost Fenrir, Iron-Eyes, was about as lucid as Willow after her hallucinatory trip into the Abyss. She recognized the name of the Fianna Ritemaster who sent them, although it seems the Garou from Unbroken Synergy had no love for the Abundant Grain sept. Despite the expected hot-headed rage of the Get of Fenris, her fear for the Abyss after being harrowed by it was obvious even to these youngsters. The pack tried reason, then honor, then taunting, then respect to keep Iron-Eyes with them and focused on their task: to find out what happened to the fallen Glass Walker sept.

And it was an off-handed remark about seeing it in the Atrocity Realm that got Willow thinking. While Iron-Eyes might think them fools for going so far in the pursuit of knowledge, the Garou of Last Call are determined to follow the trail to whatever end. Even if that means witnessing the slaughter of the Walker sept for themselves; even if it means the personal experience of victimization, suffering and death.

Second Story: Nascence
 

Chapter 5 update: With their new Fenrir ‘friend’ in tow, Last Call went looking for the Atrocity Realm, with Willow leading the way to a Moon Path. The pack’s spirit friend Gordias left them at the entrance, hoping to find them again afterward.

It was one of those situations where you think you know what to expect, you think you’re prepared, until it hits you and it’s overwhelming regardless. The smell of the place, even in Homid form; the spongy, bone crunching underfoot feel to the ground; the dismal grey sky and dirty rain. But this was just what hit them first. What followed…

The first scene of atrocity the pack came across was not in Baltimore, but elsewhere. The place was nothing overtly personal to them, and the time was long past history. A bleak eastern European town, sparsely populated with suspicious, lean and hungry looking folk — and a few starved, dead bodies. Razvan came across a woman who could have been his sister — in the company of a vampire. A vampire feeding on a town full of weak and starving people, victims of some past famine inflicted by an uncaring government. An event Razvan dimly remembers from a name, Holodomor

Although Razvan preferred to play it sly, things went south as the vampire in this scene of atrocity interacted with the pack, thinking them new blood vessels brought by the Shadow Lords. Razvan had no qualms about joining the fight, even hunting down the vampire, and his ancestor. But as they used the leech’s powers over darkness to escape, the pack chose to let them go; they aren’t in Atrocity to fight, but to learn.

And so, Last Call learns a little piece of history, one that may relate to Razvan’s family. As the Atrocity Realm begins to take its toll on the pack, we’ll soon see if they can endure long enough to find what they’re looking for.

Second Story: Nascence
 

Chapter 6 update: The pack’s journey through the Atrocity Realm is finished. After enduring great ordeals of brutality and despair, Last Call reached the scene of the former Glass Walker sept, the skyscraper caern now claimed by Black Spiral Dancers. They lasted long enough to witness the undoing of the Gaian sept…and the shocking malice of their enemy.

Atrocity showed them more pieces of history, a mass slaughter here, a sniggering maggot-Bane there, mocking the pack for their bloodthirst and their seemingly fruitless attempts to undo past atrocities with their present ultraviolence. As Willow struggled to find some logic to the realm’s mind-numbing scenery, they wandered through scenes of the Impergium, of native Americans slaughtered by American colonists and their superior firepower. They even found a rather one-sided battle between a Silver Fang and a sleek black Crinos of some unknown tribe, interrupting the victorious Fang…a puzzling scene that left their Theurge in tears, over vague memories and scents from her childhood.

When the next scene found them amongst the row-houses of Baltimore, the pack knew they were finally getting close. And yet, the atrocity they found claimed the life of their Galliard, Brickbat, who fought…himself. He didn’t survive long enough to explain what took place, although they could certainly guess at the child abuse, the death of his mother perhaps, even his First Change. Perhaps they’ll ask later, as death by the realm’s emanations should mean that he got out.

Then at last, the skyscraper loomed overhead. Razvan, Zero and Willow, along with Iron-Eyes, the Fenrir, made it to the former Glass Walker sept, at the time of its downfall. They found the penthouse caern invaded, overrun with Black Spirals, as they watched on the building’s security monitors. Spirals…and one gleaming, chrome-steel Garou, which Iron-Eyes named as Stainless Steel, a Glass Walker and Gatekeeper of the sept. And, as Zero discovered before his demise, a Cyber Dog.

The pack’s final experiences in the Atrocity realm were of their own victimization, as the triumphant Black Spirals rushed downstairs to battle the drained, beleaguered pack, then had their way with the cubs before their deaths permitted their escape from the realm. A grim testament to the pack’s courage to learn at nearly any cost — and a grim reminder of just how foul their enemies truly are.

Next time: the Nascence story concludes. What Totem will claim them?

Second Story: Nascence
 

Finale: The pack returns from their harrowing experiences in the Atrocity Realm, some of them waking in a frenzy! Fortunately, that didn’t last, as no enemies were around to serve as a target, and Zero and Razvan had (barely) enough self-control to distinguish friend from foe. This left the others to tell their stories to the brood of animal spirits gathering around them again; they had come back to the Umbral forest where they began.

And their Totem was revealed as none other than Gordias, their shapeshifting spirit friend, a Woneyah Konhe or Dream Raven, of Chimera’s brood. Razvan was quite relieved to learn that this raven was not interested in divesting him of his family’s wealth! So, Last Call is committed to the pursuit of enlightenment — having demonstrated their conviction in the Atrocity Realm.

Returning to the blighted cityscape of Baltimore, the pack brings the Fenrir they rescued to strengthen the sept, and they are stronger as well, bound by spirit ties stronger than any personal foibles and squabbles. The pack returns to enjoy the Renown of their deeds, and perhaps a few beers too.

Second Story: Nascence
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