Episode 1: Semi-Charmed Life
Overview: Willow and Tara join forces with the Charmed Ones to stop D’hoffryn from becoming the new Source.
Synopsis: Willow and Tara are on vacation in San Francisco when they decide to stop in an auction house selling items from the Victorian Occult revival. While there they notice many demons and witches passing as normal humans. A book catches Tara’s eye and the director of the auction tells her she should buy it. The book is “The Journal of Tamara Swift”. The girls also notice another item up for a bid, a talisman believed to be owned by Madame Blavatsky, but Willow notices it as the Heart of Belial, a potent demonic artifact.
They bid on the items and win the Journal, but the Heart goes to a very attractive woman (who reminds them of Cordelia). The auction director tells the girls that the Heart has fallen into the hands of evil and they have to stop it. She says she could not do anything herself, but tells Willow and Tara that they need to find her sisters, The Charmed Ones. She tells them her name is Prue Halliwell.
At the same time at the Halliwell Manor Piper is frantic about trying to juggle new baby Chris and still dealing with P3 scheduling nightmares (she is trying to get Michelle Branch back), Phoebe is rushing off to work and Paige is reading the want ads. In the middle of all this chaos, Prue appears and tells them that the “Charmed Ones” (but not “you” or “my sisters”) are in danger. Everyone panics, and Leo says he wants to talk to the only other witch he knows that has come back from the dead.
Leo finds Willow and Tara and takes them to the Halliwell manor. Leo knew Tara when she was in Heaven and she asks him about Kara. Willow wants to know why she does not have a Whitelighter and Leo tells her it was because she was using magic for personal gain and on a tract towards evil.
Meantime the demon (Kira the Seer) who purchased the Heart of Belial shimmers into the underworld. Where she meets with D’Hoffryn. She give the Heart to him commenting that every demon from the source on down that has fought the Charmed Ones has gotten a bad case of being dead. D’hoffryn replies that is why he is not going to fight them, he has something more subtle in mind. Kira also lets him know that Willow and Tara are also in town. D’Hoffryn comments that this must mean that the Awakening is about to occur. He take the Heart and begins to chant his spell.
At the Halliwell Manor the five witches discuss what this all must mean. They look up the Heart in the both The Book of Shadows and in the Journal of Tamara Swift. They discover that it is the actual heart of the demon Belial and it had been in the possession of the former Protector of Albion, John Dee and assumed to be destroyed by later Protector Tamara Swift. The Heart allows it’s possessor to manipulate time. The Halliwells immediately trust Tara and Willow when they go to the Book of Shadows and can open it.
Suddenly Phoebe and Willow disappear and are replaced by Paradox Sisters. Everyone believes that everything is completely normal, including the fact that Paradox Phoebe and Paradox Willow do not have magic (and thus no Charmed Ones power of three or Willow and Tara’s combined Anamchara magic). Tara attempts to hold Willow’s hand and going in a kiss, which causes Willow to pull back in shock. Paradox Willow is straight. At the same time the Book of Shadows refuses to be around Phoebe. Leo orbs out to consult with the underworld (he still does not trust the other Elders). The witches have no time to figure out why though, they are attacked by the warlocks Hannah and Rex.
Taking advantage of Leo's absence the warlocks attack. As in Season 1 of Charmed they try to steal the Charmed Ones powers. The battle goes badly given the depowered nature of the cast and it looks like they are about to gain their quarry, Wyatt’s vast untapped power, when Hannah is hit by an arc of Elder lighting. Thinking is it Leo the Cast is surprised (as are the Players) when it is revealed to be Prue. A wounded Hannah and Rex shimmer out.
In the Underworld Leo find real Willow and real Phoebe, but they are in a temporal bubble and their powers are being drained. Once he sees them Leo remembers who they are. He attacks D’Hoffryn who tosses him around like a rag doll. He hits him with lighting of his own and he disappears. D’Hoffryn tells Phoebe that he was removed from all time. Rex and Hannah shimmer in and D’Hoffryn kills them by tossing them across the room. Willow and Phoebe tell D’Hoffryn it is only a matter of time before they are found by their loved ones. D’Hoffryn tells them that they are not even looking.
At the manor everyone knows there something wrong. Tara feels a loss she can’t explain and is getting very concerned and Paradox Willow is depressed. Paradox Phoebe is angry because she is only here because her flight back to New York was delayed and she hates being involve in all this “magic stuff”. But everyone is more concerned with Prue returning. Thinking that the Heart of Belial must be at the root of this, the witches try to scry for it, but no success.
Phoebe, an empath, combines her magic with Willow to try to get a message out. Phoebe tries to get it Piper, but Willow’s thoughts are too strong on Tara. Tara, also an empath, gets the message.
The three witches and the paradox sisters are orbed to the underworld by Prue. D’Hoffryn is in the middle of some spells surrounded by demons in robes. Everyone sees real Phoebe and real Willow in the bubble, but can’t reach them. The Charmed Ones and Prue attack the demons, Tara tries to get to Willow and Phoebe. Paradox Willow and Paradox Phoebe remain in the background, mostly forgotten.
The Demons are fought and killed and Tara and Phoebe figure out a way to break the time bubble. Once that is done the Charmed Ones power back up, as do Willow and Tara. The remaining priest demons are then easily vanquished. Paige hurls a vanquishing potion at D’Hoffryn but it has no effect. He has become the new Source of All Evil. He throws a fireball at Prue but Paradox Phoebe pushes her out of the way and takes the full blast, exploding into ashes. Prue attacks D’Hoffryn with her lighting. This leaves the cast (and the players) to figure out what to do next. They decide to try a modified version of the Power of Three spell, only this one is a Power of Five. All five witches link hands, even Paradox Willow puts her hands on top of Tara’s and Willow’s linked hands, and they summon the power of the witches in their family line. The spell takes hold and strikes down D’Hoffryn, destroying him and the Heart of Belial. Leo reappears, but Paradox Willow remains.
At the end of the episode the cast, with Prue and Paradox Willow, are at P3. Michelle Branch is back.
The women toast to their new friends and family and promise to always help each other in the future. Paradox Willow wonders why she is still here and all they can think of is there must be some magic left over from the Heart. Willow discovers that Paradox Phoebe has an apartment still in New York so Paradox Willows figure she will go there since she has always wanted to sing on stage. They raise a toast to their “lost sister” Phoebe Bennet and Prue gets ready to leave. Prue does tell Willow that her case was “reviewed” again by the other Elders and they have decided to give her and Tara a Whitelighter on a “probationary” basis. Prue orbs out and Cordelia Chase orbs in with a “You have got to be kidding me!”
Tara, laughing, opens up the Journal of Tamara Swift and a letter falls out. It is address to “Misses Tara Maclay and Willow Rosenberg”. It was written by Tamara in 1889.
Kira is on her knees picking through the dust that was D’Hoffryn till she finds a small rock. Saying “that will do” she holds it and concentrates. Cole half shimmers in. She hands him the rock, all that is left of the Heart of Belial, and tells him she kept up her side of the deal now he was going to tell her how she can come back from the wasteland after Zankou kills her in a few months.
Notes and Comments
Well as the first official episode I had a lot of setup I wanted to do here, but not beat people over the head with it. I mention the Awakening only once and we learn that Tara’s mother was named Megan and her Grandmother Deidre.
I wanted a “witchier” feel to this season than Buffy, so there are lots of elements from various witch shows to guide the players in; Buffy, Charmed, Hex, Ghosts of Albion even little bits of Practical Magic. Then there is the letter to the girls from Tamara, big stuff is in store. Plus I also touch on the theme of nothing is more important than the people you love.
In many ways Charmed is seen as the antithesis of Buffy. So what better way to seperate "Willow & Tara the Series" from Buffy than to have a Charmed crossover. And not just a crossover, but show Buffy characters aspiring to becoming more Charmed-like. D'Hoffryn becoming The Source, Willow wanting a Whitelighter, Cordy becoming a Whitelighter.
I used Andrew Pergine’s Charmed netbook for the Girls stats, even if I am not 100% sold on his point breakdowns for Whitelighters.
I brought in some Charmed bad guys, Rex and Hannah, and Buffy bad guy D’Hoffryn making a claim to Source. In truth D’Hoffryn would make a bad ass Source, too bad he did the one thing you should never, ever do in my games; piss of a witch. Here is D'Hoffryn's entry in the Halliwell Book of Shadows. It mentions that there is no known vanquishing potion for him (Willow would have been able to figure one out back in the old series) but that does not stop the cast from trying one.
Charisma Carpenter gets double duty here both as Cordy the new Whitelighter and as Kira the Seer. I wanted to bring back Cordy because I felt her character got shafted in the show. Not as bad as Tara, but still. Plus she also makes a good foil for Willow, I bring in Tara’s foil later. And let’s be totally honest here, Charima Carpenter is hot.
Of course Paradox Phoebe and Paradox Willow are from my Sisters of Paradox post. They were developed for this adventure. http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2009/11/sisters-of-paradox.html
Paradox Willow living at the end was homage by us to our friend and fellow Kitten Bob Black who came up with the idea originally and he had Paradox Willow live. Paradox Phoebe dies to save Prue which I felt was good because it should that even though that Paradox Phoebe hated Prue they were still sisters and you do anything to help a family member or loved one.
Plus it also became something of an in-joke in my group. If you are playing the Buffy RPG and your Willow is straight then it obviously means you are using the "Riff Reagan" version.
The playable characters were Phoebe (and Paradox Phobe, same player), Piper, Paige, Willow (and Paradox Willow, same player) and Tara. Originally Prue was also going to be a playable character, but it never really worked out. I also had a sub-plot with Andy returning, but it was too much.
This was also the only episode where I made a "cover" image. You will note that the "Buffy RPG" logo is dropped and a "Willow & Tara RPG" logo is in it's place. I figure that if you run a modern supernatural game using Ghosts of Albion as the source and the Buffy books as the splats, then what you have is the "Willow & Tara Roleplaying Game". Made sense to me.
Here is the back cover:
Kara was of course Tara's "Sister" from the Dragon and the Phoenix, Megan was her mother and Deidre her Grandmother. Originally it was the other way around, but Lisa had Megan as Tara's mother in all her work, so I switched them. Pru was not a Player-Character at the time, so I felt it was not right to have her there to defeat the bad guy.
The rest of this season was not as finished as "The Dragon and the Phoenix", often times all I had were some rough notes. Plus my regular group of players was getting less regular. I was also moving to a new group and running more Ghosts of Albion. Some of these adventures then had their origin as something that could be run under Buffy or Ghosts.
Originally these were to follow right after "Dragon" but there was a lot of time inbetween, so there is a break of one year game time between the last episode of Dragon ("No Other Troy") and "Semi-Charmed Life".
Next up the girls go to London to confront their past and future. Plus one more guest star makes a surprising appearance.