Showing posts with label dragon and the phoenix. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dragon and the phoenix. Show all posts

Friday, March 31, 2017

Willow & Tara: Armageddon, the End Times

This post has been a long time coming.

Back in 2001 I started a project to stat out two of my favorite witches for every RPG I have ever played.  You can see the fruits of those efforts here.  I printed out hundreds of character sheets, filled them out, even used a few in games.  Deep diving into two characters and seeing how they work across different systems and different worlds. It has been a great time.



One set of sheets I started in 2006 and thought, oh I'll get to these when I run my "Generation HEX" game.  Well...I never got around to those sheets.  I was in the habit putting the date of the game on the top of the sheet. That way I could keep the overall campaign straight in my head.

This week was the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a milestone I was going to leave unremarked.  But I pulled out those sheets and noticed the date on them.   The game was also one I wanted to revisit this year given ...all sorts of reasons.

The year was 2017 and the game was Armageddon: The End Times.



There are so many reasons that Armageddon is the most perfect choice for Willow and Tara in 2017.

Armageddon is the sequel to the WitchCraft RPG much in the same sense that the Buffy RPG is; just a different evolutionary path. Armageddon features much more powerful characters in a post-apocalyptic world. In fact, there is a lot about the game world of 2017 that we can relate too in the real world of 2017.

I described Armageddon as:
The ultimate expression of the Classic Unisystem game line. Use it as a future for your WitchCraft games, or as source material for WitchCraft and All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Far improved over the poorly edited 1st Edition, this could be C.J. Carella's finest work and that is saying something.
It should then stand to reason that my versions of Willow and Tara should also be represented in their ultimate expression.

Willow & Tara in 2017



Given what I have been doing with the characters for the last few years I would have to say they have been largely retired.  Given the reunion staged by Entertainment Weekly, I would say something pulled them out of retirement.  Maybe a horrible orange monster threatening to take over the world. Or something.

On my sheets, I gave them both 200 extra character points. One of the first things I did was buy off many of their drawbacks. Most of that stuff dealt with youth and being young.  I am also going with the fan-favorite theory that they have two daughters by this time.

I didn't buy up their attributes much save for maybe ones that would be expected to improve due to better diet and exercise.

Willow Rosenberg-Maclay
Wicce Seeker of Knowledge
Gifted Master

Age: 36, Ht: 5'3", Hair: Red, Eyes: Green

Attributes: Str 2 Dex 3 Con 3 Int 5 Per 5 Wil 6
Life Points 36
Endurance 38
Speed 12
Essence 65

Channeling Level: 8

Qualities & Drawbacks: Gifted (+5), Essence Channeling (25), Increased Essence Pool (+20), Adversary (Assorted, 2), Ambidexterity, Anamchara, Attractiveness (+2), Hard to Kill (+2), Honorable (-1), Minority, Lesbian (-1), Nerves of Steel (3), Old Soul (2), Resources (3, wealthy)

Skills: Acrobatics (4), Brawling (3), Bureaucracy (5), Computers (9), Computer Hacking (9), Computer Programming (9), Craft (5), Dodge (6), Electronics (5), Engineering, Robotics (5), Humanities, Psychology (1), Languages (English, French, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Russian), Magic Theory (5), Instruction (1), Medicine, General (2), Occult Knowledge (9), Research (4), Rituals, Wicce (7), Trance (1).

Powers: Absob Power, Aura of Confidence, Create Ward, Essence Shield, Farsee, Flame, Float, Mindtalk strength and art (7), Mindhands strength and art (5), Lightning Bolt, Mindfire strength (5) art (4), Mindtalk strength and art (5), Physical Shield, Search Person (4)* (8 if that person is Tara, Brianna or Chole), Sending, Soulfire Blast, Visual Illusion.


Tara Rosenberg-Maclay
Wicce Weird One
Gifted Master

Age: 37, Ht: 5'5", Hair: Blonde, Eyes: Blue


Attributes: Str 3 Dex 2 Con 3 Int 5 Per 6 Wil 6
Life Points 36
Endurance 38
Speed 10
Essence 70

Channeling Level: 8

Qualities & Drawbacks: Gifted (+5), Essence Channeling (25), Increased Essence Pool (+20), Artistic Talent (7), Hard to Kill (+1), Honorable (-1), Minority, Lesbian (-1),  Nerves of Steel (3), Old Soul (2), Resources (3, wealthy)

Skills: Cooking (5), Craft, Candle Making (2), Craft, Simple Crafts (4), Humanities, Art History (6), Humanities, Psychology (7), Languages (English, French, Gaelic [Irish], Greek, Japanese, Latin), Magic Bolt (4), Magic Theory (5), Instruction (5), Medicine, General (2), Myth and Legend, Folk Magic (7), Occult Knowledge (9), Research (4), Rituals, Wicce (7), Singing (2), Survival, Urban (2), Trance (2), Dancing (3)

Powers: Blessing of Protection, Create Ward, Essence Sheild, Flame, Float, Influence Emotional State, Lesser Healing (Heal Wounds, Cure Disease), Mindfire strength and art (4), Mindtalk strength and art (5), One with the Land, Perceive True Nature, Physical Shield, Search Person (4)* (8 if that person is Willow, Brianna or Chole), Sending, Touch of Healing*, Visual Illusion

*Tara still retains her healing touch divine powers from when she was brought back from the dead.

Not sure if I spent all my points correctly, but that is fine. I had a lot of fun doing this.

So for me it has been nearly 10 years since I used these characters in these incarnations.
What have they been doing?  Well in the Dragon and the Phoenix/Season of the Witch timeline they moved to Boston, been married for years. Willow owned a software security firm ("RedWitch") that she later sold making millions. Tara has degrees in art history and counseling. She teaches at a school for young magicians and witches (no not Hogwarts). They have two daughters Brianna 12 and Chole 9.

If you want to see a "timeline" of their development then here you go. These are in world-chronological order, not the order I wrote them.

Pre-2000, BESM
2000-1, WitchCraft
2001, d20 Modern
2002, BESM-d20
2003, BESM 3rd Ed
2004, World of Darkness
2005, Chill
2006, Cartoon Action Hour Season 3
2006-7, Doctor Who
2007, Savage Worlds
2007, DC Heroes
2008, Cortext
2008, World of Darkness (new)
2009, Mutants and Masterminds 2nd ed
2010, OVA
2011, Mutants and Masterminds 3rd ed
2012, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
2013, Superbabes

There are more, but you get the idea here.

This was great. Like meeting up with old friends again and seeing that they are getting along wonderfully. Been wanting to do this for a while now and it did not disapoint.

Monday, August 15, 2016

RPGaDAY2016: Day 15

What types or source of inspiration do you turn to most often for RPGs?

I have mentioned it before, and if you hang out here for any length of time it is obvious, but music and horror movies are my primary sources of inspiration for games.

Yes. I am a voracious reader and I devour fantasy, horror, history and psychology books to feed my game ideas.  But those ideas usually come from a place when I am listening to music or watching a horror movie.

Many of my games even have a "Soundtrack", often known only to me, but they do.
For my "The Dragon and the Phoenix" Buffy game I posted many of the songs here. The Dragon Slayers also had/have a soundtrack.

Ghosts of Albion was written on a steady of diet of Hammer Horror films and Black Sabbath.
The Witch was written with a playlist full of "witchy" songs, from the obligatory Stevie Nicks, to Garbage, Third Eye Blind, and Love Spit Love.

I pretty much lay my muses bare for all to see.

This is going to be a fun one to read from others!

http://www.brigadecon.org/rpgaday2016/



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

RPGaDAY2016: Day 10

What was the largest in-game surprise you have experienced?

Wow. I need to think about this one.

I think it would have been how well the flashback episodes worked with my kids.
I had done flashbacks during the run of the Dragon and the Phoenix campaign for Buffy, but it never felt like it did with my sons playing Come Endless Darkness for D&D 5.

I mean I knew it was going to work and work well, but I had no idea that the kids were going to enjoy it as much as they did.   It was so satisfying that I want to figure out ways to do it in other campaigns.

Anytime my players can surprise me with their cleverness is also a great time.

http://www.brigadecon.org/rpgaday2016/



Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Sojourn in Hell

Welcome once again to Friday Night Videos!

Tonight I want to feature videos from the soundtrack "A Sojourn in Hell".  Never heard of it? No one has.  It was a collection of MP3s I listened to while I was working on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG and then later when I was writing Ghosts of Albion.

Some of this music also fueled my playtests of Buffy with games that became part of The Dragon and The Phoenix, my alternate Season 7 of Buffy.

The Wallflowers were at the height of their popularity at the same time Buffy was. So I always associated this song with Buffy's last good season (season 5).   In my games I always wanted Buffy to fake her death so she could leave Sunnydale and start over.  Maybe with someone that looked like Jakob Dylan.



Around the same time we were hit with the death of a performer that actually meant a lot to me and my gaming life, Warren Zevon.  I mentioned in the very first FNV that "Werewolves of London" was one of my favorites and the album Excitable Boy was thrust into my hands by my DM with the instructions to listen to it before our next game.

Lawyers, Guns and Money was one of those songs that just stuck with me.  This version is not by Warren Zevon, but by his son Jordan with the Wallflowers (again).  Of course the lead singer is the son of Bob Dylan.  This is from the Warren Zevon tribute album, Enjoy Every Sandwich. A line that he gave to David Letterman when he learned he was dying of cancer. Sage advice really.




Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory was just one of those albums that came into my life and grabbed every bit of my attention.  I admit I have always enjoyed the mashup of hard rock and rap.  Public Enemy's Bring the Noise with Anthrax is still one of my all time favorite songs.

"In the End" was just one of the those songs and one of those videos that captured exactly what I wanted my games to sound like.



Spend anytime here and you know I LOVE old horror movies.  Especially sexploitation, Euro-sleaze. No one is better at than Jean Rollin and no appreciates this more than our next artist Rob Zombie.

Hellbilly Deluxe was an album I got for my 30th birthday and I listened to it on pretty much repeat for the next four years.  Living Dead Girl was what my group always thought would be Buffy's theme song, but really there is a lot here that also influenced Ghosts of Albion.  The Charlatan archetype, which didn't make it into the final book, is based on Rob Zombie's character in this video.
This was also one of the first MP3s I ever bought and I put it on the Sojourn in Hell disk.



In the early 2000s Chris Rea seemed to be everywhere for me.  I am not sure why a ten-year old album, Road to Hell, was so popular again, but it was.  For me the song "Road to Hell" was the title track of Sojourn in Hell at least in spirit.   One day I'll revisit this and maybe even talk about why it was called Sojourn in Hell.  But until then here is the title track and partial inspiration for my Buffy adventure Road to Hell.



Finally for this set we have the 2007 update of the 1994 Megadeth classic, "À Tout le Monde".  I have the 1995 Youthanasia version on the disk, but this version actually captures the feel so much better. A little faster, a little louder and 100% more Cristina Scabbia.  If there something I like more than rap with my metal it's Goth.  Not only is her French better than Mustaine's, she is a lot better looking too.



Ok. I lied.
I said Goth and immediately thought of this one.  Not Another Teen Movie is actually a send up of the teen movie tropes in the opposite direction than Buffy was.  Tainted Love of course was huge hit for Soft Cell back in the 80s and in the 2000s Manson made it his own.  I actually enjoy how he is not taking himself very seriously in this.  I mean really if the Rodney Dangerfield reference wasn't enough.  You can be dark, scary and all gothy but that doesn't mean you can't have a sense of humor about it too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Dark Druid

Something different today for the YAM Magazine LBGT Blogathon.  Today, not a character so much as characters  and an adventure.  I wanted to repost a link to the first ever Buffy adventure I ever wrote; updated to feature Willow & Tara more prominently.  Also updated with a new download link.
Originally posted here in 2010.


The Dark Druid: The Director's Cut



A bit of history.  Back in 2002 Eden was getting ready to release their newest game, The Buffy the Vampire Slayer game.  As you may know, I had already been playing a Willow/Tara focused WitchCraft game for about a year, so I was pretty excited by this.  Well I got asked by Eden to write the first Buffy adventure that would appear in "Games Unplugged" along with an interview with C.J. Carella talking about the game.

I took an idea I had been working on for my other game (tentatively called "All Soul's Night") and thus the Dark Druid was born.

I had been reading a ton of Irish myths then.  Among those were the stories of Fionn MacCumhaill ("Finn MacCool") and his foster mothers Bodhmal and Liath.  It occurred to me that Liath and Bodhmal were lovers, and to tie it more directly to my work in Buffy, they were reincarnated later on into the form of Willow and Tara.   Since that time anytime I read a story about Fionn MacCumhaill I can't help but read Bodhmal and Liath as lovers.

The original featured, rather prominently, Willow and Tara, as to be expected.  I had to make some changes to make it playable for others and to make it an "intro" or season opener type episode.  The plot dealt with an enemy from the Cast's past as a portent to greater evil in the future.  It was designed to be a opening episode of the season, but one that may or may not be directly related to the seasonal arc.  We were going to use this i n part of the great "Djinn" story, but that never happened.

Fast forward a few years and I was finishing up work on Ghosts of Albion and another adventure that sprang from "All Soul's Night" called "Blight" (which I have played at Gen Con before).  I felt it was time to bring back the Dark Druid and restore it to the mythology that I had created in my games.  Now you can have it too.  So it became a Prequel or an Episode 0 for my huge Willow & Tara series, The Dragon and the Phoenix.  This adventure and the Dragon adventures were designed to feature Willow and Tara.  My players were extremely pissed off at Tara being killed, so this was our way of getting our own way.

I updated it not only to fit better with my world-myths, and with some of the work I did on Ghosts of Albion and the adventure Blight.  In fact you can run Blight and The Dark Druid as co-adventures, separated by time.

The story is rather direct and linear.  This was partly due to the nature of the story and what is was supposed to do (introduce new players to the game) and part of just me writing for the Buffy game for the first time.  I have opted not to change that here, despite nearly 10 years of Cinematic Unisystem adventure writing since then.  It is supposed to be a quick, fun little adventure dealing with past lives.

The episode was well received and even has a bit on Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffyverse_role-playing_games#Adventures

It was the first. The start of a series of adventures that led me personally down a crazy path.  It's hard to gauge the effect it has had, it was so fundamental.  From this point my writing increased maybe a 100 or 500 fold.  Hard to say really.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Willow and Tara Digital Comics

I don't read the Buffy comics. No desire really, and the world I had created with the RPG was far more interesting to me anyway. 

But when Amber Benson and Christopher Golden team up to write a Willow & Tara based comic, well how can I possibly say no?

This month Dark Horse re-released the two (well three, two stories in three books) Willow & Tara comics.  Wanna Blessed Be and Wilderness. 

You can get them here:



I enjoyed the heck out these and went ahead and bought them again in digital format.

I ran a Ghosts of Albion adventure loosely based on these, it seemed appropriate.  The adventure still needs some work, but I do like it.  And it has a pedigree. 

So here they are.  Thought you might like to check them out.

Now if someone would make a comic of the Dragon and the Phoenix I'd be thrilled to death! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: wrap-up

The Dragon and the Phoenix ran for 13 episodes and it was great fun.

We set out to show we could tell a great story and even a better one than the source material and I think we succeeded.
Here are some random things we learned while writing and playing these episodes.
Their first semester living together Willow and Tara arranged their schedules to always be near each other.

They also rearranged classes so they could both come home during the day to watch "Jerry Springer" though they told everyone else it was so they could watch PBS.

Tara's first meal back as a human? Chicago style deep dish pizza. She tried crawfish etouffee but discovered she was in fact still allergic to shellfish.

Tara does not drink at all. She has smoked some pot in the past (mostly highschool) but no longer.

While Willow was in high school she discovered some old journals of Jenny Calendar where she talked about being "outrageously bisexual" with her roommate in college. It made her feel more comfortable about her own questioning sexuality.

Dawn has walked in on Willow and Tara having sex 4 times. Xander has walked in on them 0 times.

Willow can disco. It is not something she is proud of or even talks about, but her father (a HUGE Saturday Night Fever fan) taught Willow how to dance when she was little, she remembers it all to this day.

Willow is ambidextrous, she can write equally well with either hand.

Tara hates ponies. She loves to ride horses but thinks ponies are evil.

Tara has a set of witchcraft ritual tools. She prefers to cast rituals with her athame when she can. Tara discovered that Willow is also capable of using Tara's ritual tools (not something that is normally done).

The Cast has both memories of Tara and memories of her sister Kara. Generally there is no conflict with these.

Tara's mother was named Megan, her grandmother Deidre. Her father's name was Robert. Tara's middle name in Ann. Her brother would tease her and call her "Annie", to this day she hates the name and will not use it.

Dawn knew she was psychic as early as Episode 1. In the finale she was given a glimpse of her futures as well. One where she was a doctor and another where she becomes a physicist.

Anya and Xander split up after a couple of months. They do not get divorced until some time later. I toyed with the idea of Anya also being pregnant and might still do that.

Buffy begins dating the police officer Tony Foster. In one possible future shown by the Mouth of Leviathan she and Tony are married.

Spike is not seen or heard from again. He is rumored to be "alive" somewhere.

Clem the Demon can do complex mathematical calculations in his head.

Giles had a religious upbringing. While his mother was a duty-bound English Watcher, his father was a Irish Catholic. Giles was brought up in both the Catholic and Angelican churches. No wonder he rebelled.

Luna the Seraphim was one of my D&D characters from back in the day. Her original character sheet says she was rolled up in 1982.

Charmed influences abounded. Rack was a "Charmed" style Warlock and had no soul. He was in fact stealing powers from the magical kids in his thrall. Cordy had become a Whitelighter.

The plane of Leviathan was taken from the Monster Smackdown book, it was augmented based on the old Dragon Magazine adventure "Nogard", the demonic wasteland from Charmed and the last planet in the Heavy Metal movie. Leviathan himself is Leviathan from Armageddon. He is demonic as well as a mad god due to all the demonic "souls" he has been feeding on over the millennia.
We took a break and then went into the next season of episodes, Season of the Witch,  those were not as playtested as much.

I'll post the Season of the Witch reports starting next year I think.  Holidays coming and all.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 12

Episode 12: No Other Troy

Yoln: You brought an army to stop me Slayer?
Buffy: No. I brought two.

- Willow and Tara: The Dragon and the Phoenix, Episode 12 “No Other Troy”



Episode 12: No Other Troy by ~WebWarlock on deviantART

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great.
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

- William Butler Yeats, No Second Troy

Oh, I love you
God, I love you
I'd kill a dragon for you
I'll die
But I will rise
And I will return
The Phoenix from the flame
I have learned
I will rise
And you'll see me return
Being what I am
There is no other Troy
For me to burn
- Sinéad O'Connor, Troy

No time, no date (Cast returns on May 19, 2003. Monday)

The cast leads an army of demons and an army of angels to Leviathan’s plane, but they discover it may require the death of one of their own to seal the portal forever. Release the souls of all the Slayer’s Leviathan has been feeding on for years. Buffy must defeat Yoln, but Willow and Tara must find a way to stop a God on his home realm.

Story Arc Elements: Willow and Tara are shown their pasts and futures by the Mouth of Leviathan, how everything they have done was constructed to bring them to this point to allow Leviathan to enter this realm. Leviathan had meant for Willow to be his instrument to be powerful enough to allow him to enter this realm. Tara was the factor he did not count on, her influence was turning Willow away from the path she was on to one more in balance with magic. Without Tara, Leviathan will enter the realm through Willow at anytime he chooses.

Game Mechanics:
Stats for various Slayers from the past. Dragons.
Soundtrack:
Sinead O’Connor “Drink Before the War” and "Troy".  Megadeth “A Tout Le Monde”, Sarah Maclachlan “Elsewhere”

Notes and Comments:
This is the big one. The finale. Designed to be both the series finale for “Buffy” and the start of a new spin-off series “Willow & Tara” and there is a lot going on.

Let’s start with the big stuff. The Cast comes through Dawn’s rift using the Spear as a guide. It takes them to a cave in an outcropping overlooking a valley. A valley filled with demons (40,000 to be exact), when they see Buffy they all begin to shout “Slayer! Slayer!” It was quite a visual.

The first act of course is to get a grip on this new demonic army. The leaders are the Mormo demons from before. The cast is also joined by a smaller, but no less effective, army of angels. Among them is Kara, who has taken Tara’s place in the armies of Heaven. In fact she has surpassed even Tara’s previous achievements. Once the cast can convince the demons and angels to fight together against the forces of Leviathan then the action begins.

For the battles I used the Army of Darkness mass combat rules with Buffy as the general, but I made sure everyone had a chance to shine.
Upon entering the realm of Leviathan the cast notices that their Con and Wills are being drained. So, we have a time limit here. Both Faith and Buffy know that the realm is draining the source of their power, though they can’t figure out why.

Dawn has to hold the portal open, so she is given a group of angels to protect her. Spike has the Hand of Yoln as a weapon and Buffy has the spear.
We spend some time battling the armies of Leviathan. His creatures combine the worse aspects of dragon, snake and demon, for lack of a better word I called them Draconians.

The cast enters Leviathan himself, anyone with a soul takes another hit to Will. Anyone without a soul is absorbed into the walls, floor, everything. Thus newly re-re-ensouled Anya and recently souled Spike are fine. Well, fine as can be. I struggled with this for a bit, do angels have souls? In the end I decided no, they have spirits like demons. So the angels that went in with the cast are lost. This is done for the obvious reasons; the cast needs to shine here, not the armies.

Buffy fights Yoln. Until next season she is the star and the big guy is going after her. Now I don’t know how many of you all use the Original Slayer in games, but she is one deadly character. I had to up Yoln to obscene levels just to deal with her. Faith and Spike are fighting at her sides (I am sure there is metaphor here, but I am not going there) and these three can quickly mow down (and did) most opponents. Spike gets his arm chopped of by Yoln (yeah I did that first too) and dumps the ash out of the glove and puts it back on.

“You think you came here to stop me and my lord. You can’t. Everything is in motion, everything had been planned before you were even born. This is not my defeat, this is my apotheosis. You are not heroes.
You are sacrifices.”
- Yoln, the Shadowreaper
Yoln becomes fully human again (or at least as human as he was before), he tells them it is a trap and the attack start anew. Yoln is stronger now, but can be killed. Buffy does kill him, which just starts the whole place to start exploding.

There is truth in Yoln’s quote since this was an adventure I had planned to do for AD&D 1st ed back in 1987. It took place during the same battle as the “flashback” from Episode 5. Then, as in now, the story focused on a battle with Yoln and his Master, then known only as “The Whispering God”, and two lovers; Morganne (the Slayer from episode 5) and a young swordsman. So this adventure had been in the works long before Buffy and crew were ever “born”. Yoln was then a demonic-human that became a death knight.

Anya and Xander meanwhile are off to discover the reason why their “souls” are being drained. They discover that the spirits all of the Slayers that have died before are stuck on Leviathan’s plane. Literally. They are stuck in the wall of the dead god’s flesh and are slowly being consumed. Anya and Xander work to free them while fighting lesser minions (giant white blood cell things). They manage to free some of the Slayers who can fight (but are still dead, but at least now they can move on) till Spike come running up telling them it is a trap.

Willow and Tara confront Leviathan “himself” in the form of The Mouth of Leviathan played by Malcolm McDowell at his evil best.

From the Mouth of Leviathan we learn Leviathan worked through Set and other gods and demons to get things done. He empowered Willow when she first gave Angel back his soul. Willow was supposed to be his instrument, a force strong enough to bring Leviathan into this world, then he would feed on Willow. In a way she was working like another one of my old AD&D influences (or rather my DM’s), Raven from the Teen Titans. Though Willow is not Leviathan’s daughter, he does need her to enter the world.

What Leviathan never worked into his plans was how much of an influence Tara was having. Tara was pulling Willow away from the self-destructive forms of witchcraft (Sorcery) and too the more “natural” Magic. At first he worked on Glory and her minions to redirect Glory to a vulnerable Tara, but that was short lived. The Mouth shows the girls thousands of alternate realities where they are together, but in each one Leviathan manages to kill Tara (or somehow turn Willow) and consume the world. So Leviathan through his agents stopped the bullet from hitting Willow and instead redirected to Tara. The various realities shown are all various fan-fictions of my playtesters and our friends on the Kitten Board. There are also scenes of various alternate versions of Willow and Tara. Lots of ones on their past lives, including one where they both die in Atlantis; a pair of Chinese sorceresses; Liath and Bodhmal from Episode 5 and “The Dark Druid” and others. There are also alternate versions of Tara, the Tara that really was part demon, the nature sprite Tara that Whedon talked about doing, vampire Tara, even the “original” plan for Tara to make her what the Amy character eventually became; the dark magic junkie. The outcome for any alternate though is the same, the destruction of the world.

The mouth offers Willow a choice now, they can leave together, all she needs to do is drain all of her’s and Tara’s magic into Dawn. Then Leviathan will enter the world via Dawn. They can then live on Faith’s old magic dead world. Of course everyone they know or love will die.
Now at this point we had planned to go in a bunch of different directions, but the winning one, the plan that made the most sense won out.

Standing on spires (really his spine) of Leviathan’s plane Willow and Tara see their friends running back to the portal, being perused by devilish, dragon monsters, the armies still fighting. They see torn and battered Slayers limping to attack Leviathan’s creatures, even though they stand no hope of even slowing them down. Meanwhile with Yoln’s death the conduit to the mortal realm is breaking up. Dawn is fighting to keep the portal open and the land (which is really Leviathan himself) is reacting violently with “earth quakes” and volcanoes. The Earth can be seen (blocking out the sun) and rising. The Mouth tells the girls that all Leviathan needs now is enter the world through the gate, either through Willow now or Dawn (since she is holding it open) and then drain his “hosts” magic to manifest fully.

Seeing the death and destruction they realize there is only one way to keep it from getting worse. Grabbing hands, they jump into the gapping maw of Leviathan’s plane. Yup. I went for the “Thelma and Louise” ending.
Now everything goes berserk. Demons are running amok, trying to get out of the place. Angels find they are fighting the hordes of Leviathan AND retreating demons, the land is throwing fits more than ever, and then silence.
From the maw that Willow and Tara threw themselves in comes the reborn Leviathan. He was “force feed” all of Willow’s and Tara’s combined magic. Given the Anamchara rules that is quite a bit. He now stands over 200 feet tall and getting taller by the second, seven heads and full of anger. There is no way he can go through the portal now, so he is going to settle for killing everyone and everything on his plane. Time for the cast to run.

Of course I gave them the chance to get to the portal. Leviathan is chasing them down, roaring in anger. Then I need to decide what I should do with the characters. Leviathan is not a stated out monster, he is pure plot device. But I want the surviving characters to well, survive. Yeah I really, really wanted to off Spike. I felt he was representative of everything that I considered wrong with the show. The plan was that he was going to take the remote detonator for his chip and wait till the armies got on top of him then he was going to blow his own head off. But Garner convinced me otherwise. Plus I was already working on “Season of the Witch” at this point and he never showed there, but I figured I’d need him later. I did in fact for a Ghosts of Albion/Buffy crossover. I wanted to make him into a ghost and said as much very early on, but he ended up being a ghost in Angel, so I figured I could do better than that. So his player and I agreed that Spike was going to buy the rest of the cast time. He stood and fought the on coming demons and draconians to keep them a little bit at bay. That way if I needed him back I could, or if I needed him evil again then I can say Leviathan had been whispering in his ear all this time, the same thing he did to Yoln. At this point anyway I was borrowing heavily from Charmed so Leviathan’s plan was the same as the Demonic Wasteland. There were plenty of powers laying around there for someone with the will to use them. Spike could have come back (and still might who knows) like Cole did in Charmed.

The remaining cast get through the portal. Beaten, broken, but alive. They leave the ruins of the High School (they are shot out of the Hellmouth) and Dawn says the mouth is closed completely.

Cut back to a grey void where Willow and Tara are. Luna, the Seraphim, returns and offers them a choice. They can go to Heaven together as their reward, or the Summerlands if they prefer, or they can be sent back to Earth. Tara will loose some of her divine power she had before (the aura around her that induced fear in demons), but they will let her keep the ability to heal by touch.

They come back and we wrap up the game. Scenes of Xander’s and Anya’s wedding (this time a small private ceremony), Giles ends up catching the bouquet. Buffy’s martial arts class is still a big hit, we see her going on dates with Tony, the cop from Episodes 6 and 7. There are a few demons left in town, but most have cleared off. The last scene is Willow and Tara enjoying themselves (not like that!) at home. I don’t have it my notes, but they talked about how their lives are theirs to do with as they please. At that point Dawn comes in to tell Tara the phone is for her, it is her brother.

Covers
This may be one of my most favorite cover of the series. The idea was to only going to get Willow and Tara fans to write the episodes, play test and do the covers, and in particular only members of the Kitten Board. This one was done by Chris Cook who runs a website devoted to Willow and Tara in every universe. Called “Through the Looking Glass” it has tons of art, stories, and even games for the Willow and Tara fan base. The premise really mirrors that of this episode. I showed the multiverse where Willow and Tara are together in every reality. I also showed that in realities that they are not together are doomed to destruction. Chris shows us the realities where they are together. Have a look, http://www.uberwillowtara.com/ there is even some Dragon and the Phoenix art there as well. The various realities are all from various W/T fan fiction.  The sources for them were stories from the Kitten Board, Different Color Pens fiction board and the old Willow and Tara fiction site, Extra Flamey.


And of note. This is my 100th post tagged "witch".

Next time, DS al Coda.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 11

Episode 11: Shadows in the Rain

Dark Willow/Nox: Are you going to kill me lover?
Tara: Not if I don’t have to.
Dark Willow/Nox: That’s why you are going to fail.

- Willow and Tara: The Dragon and the Phoenix, Episode 11 “Shadows in the Rain”


Episode 11: Shadows in the Rain by ~WebWarlock on deviantART

May 7, 2003. Wednesday

Willow becomes physically ill on the anniversary of Tara’s murder. Her magic has an effect on the weather. The Cast finds the weapon they need, but it is in the hands of the last person they expected. Tara, Willow and Dawn combine their power for the first time to retrieve it, but their attempt pulls the cast into a magically-dead (no magic for Willow or Tara) world where Dark Magic Willow (now called "Nox") was not defeated. Willow discovers the wages of her sins. Dawn gets a nasty surprise when she sees herself as a vampire.
Story Arc Elements: Show why the stupid “crayon speech” never could have worked. The cast finds the Spear of Destiny, the weapon they need to kill Yoln.
Game Mechanics: Push the “magic boost” rules to an illogical point and never use them again.
Note: This episode had an unintentional side effect in creating the prototype for my new Mutants & Masterminds villain, Nox.
Soundtrack: The Police “Shadows in the Rain”

Notes and Comments:
The basic idea of this episode, Dark Willow having to face Tara, is actually one from my WitchCraft based Willow & Tara game from the Summer of 2001. Yeah, I had Dark Willow two years before anyone else. But no magic-as-drugs metaphor here, this was pure desire to control the things around her. In Shadows in the Rain, I get my cake and eat it too by pulling the Cast into an alternate world were DMW went on unchecked, or as AU-Faith tells us, that after getting talked down by Xander, Willow just bides her time till she can power up again and this time control the world rather than destroy it. In the original it was Tara and Faith as the only survivors in a bleak future where Dark Willow (then called “The Queen of Darkness”) rules. Here in this adventure, Tara is replaced by Xander, who is nothing more than a puppet of “Nox” aka Dark Willow.

I sat this on the anniversary of Tara’s (though now Kara’s) murder for symbolic reasons and to make a point. You don’t get over something like your lover being killed and then hop into bed with the next person that looks at you. I worry about anyone that can honestly think that is true. Ok, sure, random sex I understand, but not “love” by any means. So on this day Willow is violently ill. Her grief, even though Tara is alive again, is causing her to be physically sick. In the AU the same thing is happening to Nox, only there Nox has enough power to make the whole world feel her pain. The other issue with this one is Willow needed to come to terms with what she had done. It’s like that old saying, “you can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you are only kidding.” Tara forgave Warren, now it was time for Willow to forgive herself.
The battle is complicated by the fact that no one can approach Nox’s fortress and AU Xander is actually working for Nox and not the cast. AU Faith is happy to see Buffy, whose death at the hands of Nox she took particularly hard (yeah AU Faith is bisexual). Matters are made worse when the Cast learns that the Government is going to nuke Sunnydale as a way to deal with Nox.

We also wanted to showcase Dawn’s power one more time. This episode takes us to Nox’s world which is magically dead. So Willow and Tara have no powers here. Their magic is gone (more symbolism since it was magic that brought them together). But Dawn’s powers do work. Speaking of Dawn, the cast gets a nasty surprise in the form of “Dusk”, the AU Dawn turned into a vampire by Nox. Dusk is still stuck in “whiny little kid” mode, the same place she was when she was killed. Dawn on the other hand gets to show her maturity and growth here. She is not the helpless kid sister anymore, she has a part to play.

The vampire Dawn pic was made by a guy named Zahir that used to hang out over at the Kitten Board and was into Willow and Tara based role-playing games of all sorts.

So. Why are they even here? Well the back in episode 5 we saw the spear fall into the same astral portal as Yoln, his sword and a bunch of other items. The spear ended up here. The cast tries to retrieve it with magic, but instead of pulling it to them, it pulls them to it. Why are they going for this weapon? Well the cast is convinced they need a weapon that can kill a god, the spear is one of four weapons in my myths that qualify.
In my other games this is also the Spear of Cú Ċulainn. He obtained it in the 1st Century and it was later lost after his death but before Fionn Macumhail was born.

The deal was at this point I less and less interested in what Buffy, Spike and Xander and all had to do or were doing, becoming primarily focused on the “stars” of the story, Willow and Tara.

The Cast fights the bad guys, and girls. My Spike player gets to kill Dusk because he really hated Dawn. And Willow and Tara have to face off against Nox. Willow finally gives Nox her Ankh charm from Isis. Since it’s job is to drain off dark magic it kills Nox, but she finds peace. She asks Tara if she could forgive her and then asks Willow if she can forgive herself.   All the magic in the world is gone though too and Willow and Tara are still powerless. Dawn opens a portal using the Spear and AU Faith comes with them since there is nothing left for her to do in this world.

The Cast walks out of the portal and not into Sunnydale, but a desolate landscape. In front of them in a valley below an outcropping of rock are thousands (40,000 in fact) demons. They notice the cast’s arrival and begin to shout “Slayer! Slayer!”

There are other issues too.
Willow and Tara both independently discover passages referring to the death of “Returned One”, which they both interpret as Tara. Anya (an NPC) keeps throwing out that after this is all done Tara may have to go back to Heaven still. (side note, at one point we even considered this to be true and tried to figure out how we could do it).

Then there are the two important questions.

1. Why kill Faith only to bring her back?
Honestly I felt the character of Faith was broken beyond repair, nothing the writers had her doing made any sense. It’s part of the “bad girl fetish” as my writing partner Garner put it. They were so in love with Evil!Faith and could only keep upping the ante on her behavior. Now I happen to like bad girls and I liked Faith (once upon a time), but the only way to fix the character was to start over. Yes there was the added benefit of having a new Slayer that Yoln could kill, but that was an afterthought in the “Faith Dies” plot. This Faith is based on the WitchCraft version of her I did long ago. While the stats are the same as the Buffy book, this Faith is different. She has done some bad things sure, but she has atoned and feels guilt and remorse.

2. Why kill Dawn, I thought you liked her?
I do, but the rest of my writing team did not. Plus, and let’s face it, the show writers had no clue what to do with her. I gave her psychic powers to represent her new maturity while vampire Dawn (“Dusk”) was still stuck in the mentality of a whiny high-schooler. Now personally I would have rather had Dawn kill Dusk with a snappy quip of “will you shut the hell up!”, but my Spike player got to kill her instead. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes I guess.

In my original WitchCraft AU (and remember Buffy was still dead at this point) Faith had taken on the role of raising Dawn. It was hard for both of them, but it seemed to work well in the game.  In the original WitchCraft version of this game it was Faith and Tara alone fighing against Nox and Xander was the vampire. In the end Faith and Dawn lived and were still "sisters" 

The cover here is a fantastic bit of art by Div, the same artist that gave us Episode 5’s cover. I felt it was symbolic to feature only Willow instead of Willow and Tara. In the original series Episode 19 was always a Willow centric one, here we felt the second to the last one of our series would be the Willow centric one.  We did that again in "Season of the Witch".

Next time. Nothing left to burn…

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 10

Episode 10: The Enemy Within

Jerome: "Come on dere Oz. Lets all do this one more agin'."
- Willow and Tara: The Dragon and the Phoenix, Episode 10 “The Enemy Within”


April 30, 2003. Wednesday

Buffy and Spike quest for a weapon to stop Yoln and Leviathan. While they are gone a group of werewolf bikers come to town to cause trouble and Oz is with them. S
tory Arc elements: The return of Oz. The coda to New Moon Rising. The rebuilding of the trust between Buffy and Spike and the reveal of Spike’s roll in the upcoming battle. The discovery is not a weapon, but rather the one item that Yoln still needs for himself, his missing hand.
Guest Stars: Oz, Kit (a Japanese werefox), Jerome LeCoeur and his band of werewolves, Angelique (a witch knight), The Dealer.
Game Design Elements: Introduce Werefoxes. Provide a cure for lycanthropy.
Soundtrack: Rush “The Enemy Within”, Nick Drake “Pink Moon”

Notes and Comments:
This one is really two adventures in one. The “A” Plot features Giles discovering the location of a weapon they could use to defeat Yoln, who apparently can’t be killed. Weapons has no effect, since he has no body, and magic bounces off of him. Giles only knows it is an item of great power and it has something to do with Yoln’s previous defeat. Figuring he already has his sword, they should get this. The weapon though is in France. They determine the location and Willow works out a teleport spell for them both to get their and back. The rest of the cast with Giles remain behind to do further research. Besides, the Order protecting the weapon does not want a bunch of people popping in. Contrived? A little, but I need to separate the cast.
So Buffy and Spike search for this weapon in France. They discover a weapon connected with Yoln, his severed hand, it possession of a cult of witch-guardians (a mix Christian and Pagan beliefs). The gauntlet is not the weapon they were looking for, but witch-knights do tell them it is vital in the final confrontation, though they are not sure how. Buffy tries it on and it begins to drain her life force. Spike wears it and discovers that he is immune. He also discovers that he can withstand sunlight, is much stronger and can’t remove it.
Back at home a gang of werewolf bikers show up. These guys are straight out of Abomination Codex so that was fun. Their leader is this big Cajun guy, Jerome Le Coeur. Shortly afterwards Oz comes into town with his new wife, a Japanese girl named Kitsune. They have been following Jerome for weeks, looking for the chance to kill him, which will cure Oz. Long story short, the cast works out a spell to stop the bikers, Oz fights Jerome. To keep the action going the Spike-player got to play Oz. Likewise, Buffy’s player played Kit. Yes, Kit was a werefox, but she had complete control over her form and was helping Oz with his. In the end Jerome is killed, Oz and the rest of the werewolves turn back to normal. Oz and Willow have nice conversation as do Kit and Tara. This was a coda to “New Moon Rising” and had originally been called “Under a Cajun Moon” under the “Road Stories” outline. I later re-used it in it’s original format, minus the Oz stuff, for “Season of the Witch”.

This episode also featured a rather snarky cut-scene where a new Slayer, some spoiled dark-haired girl from a rich family, was sent by the Watchers to infiltrate the Cast. Her job was divide the cast and seduce Willow, Spike and anyone else to get them on the Watcher’s agenda. Of course she gets into town she confronts Yoln and before she can say “I am Ken-”, Yoln cuts her off, literally. Petty of us? Yeah. So what.
I introduced Japanese werefoxes, Kitsune, in this adventure as well as slightly modified werewolves. These both appear in Ghosts of Albion.

I also introduced a reoccurring character in this episode, the Dealer and his bar Halfway.

Up next. The Cast gets their weapon and a suprise (or three). Then the final battle.
In the meantime here is a teaser,

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 9

Episode 9: Rainbow in the Dark


Willow: I know spells Tara. I need you to teach me magic.
- Willow and Tara: The Dragon and the Phoenix, Episode 9 “Rainbow in the Dark”



April 9, 2003. Friday


Dawn’s new powers are strong and out of control. She becomes the target of every occult faction left in town. All the while Hank Summers sues for custody of Dawn. Social Worker Marion “Cobra” Bubbles is sent in to evaluate her home life. Learn Hank is engaged to his blonde secretary named “Serenity”.
One of Dawn’s friends is killed by a vamp in the end of the last episode. Dawn blames Buffy (friend ends up being Strawberry Switchblade).


Story Arc elements: Return of the Vampire Chicas with new member Strawberry Switchblade. More cults. Willow, Dawn and Tara come to an agreement on magic and their individual journeys of power (Dawn with her new psychic abilities, Willow’s return as the magical powerhouse and Tara’s return to life). Willow and Tara talk about the “the Day of Silence”.

We had some scenes where Dawn was training, Slayer-style only not touching the weapons, but using here TK powers.  Good test of the TK-without-magic rules.  There was also a scene where Dawn gets upset and knocks out all the other PCs (I needed them out so she could run away).  After this episode my mandate was she was not supposed to act immature ever again.  I wanted growth, not lazy writing.

Quotes:
Te above quote came from the end of the game.  Where Willow and Tara are discussing their futures, not just as witches, but lovers as well.  You can have angst and moving plots without resorting to killing or addiction.

Other good quotes from this episode:
Cobra: “It seems that man responsible for your birth has no interest in your future.”
Buffy: “No, not now that he has his new blonde bimbo Serenity.”
Dawn: “Why would anyone name something after old lady diapers anyway?”
(yes, we still some snark left in us).

Runner up:
Buffy: “Oh don’t be a baby, I have been dead more times than you have had a bloody nose.”

Soundtrack: Dio “Rainbow in the Dark”


Notes and Comments:
Ok here is the big Dawn episode. I wanted to show the character as growing and maturing. Though she does do some very typical immature Dawn things, like lashing out at the cast and knocking them all out for a while. The deal here is the final scene for Willow in the shadows of magic. Here she comes back to her own. In the end Dawn's power opens up a tiny hole in reality and she and Willow, without Tara, have to close it up. After ths we talked about what would Dawn's future be. One of my players, Lisa (Tara) thought she should be a doctor, another (sorry forgot who) thought she would end up studing physics. Either way we knew she was going to have the life she felt her sister never could.

Strawberry Switchblade was Dawn's friend who was killed by the Chicas. She became a reoccuring threat in my games regardless of system for a while after that. Her death was to show the Cast that they do not live in a vacuum. The Chicas of course leave town after all of this.

I also wanted to bring back Hank in this one. Everyone seemed to have forgotten him so I figured he was shacking up with some bimbo named Serenity. Anyway he sues which brings in my all time favorite CIA-Agent turned Social Worker, Marion "Cobra" Bubbles. He manages to allow Dawn to stay, garnishes Hank's checks for Child support and kills a vamp in the process.

Strawberry SwitchbladeStawberry Switchblade
Name: Strawberry Switchblade
Motivation: To make the cast pay for letting her die. Kill anyone else that gets into the way and have fun doing it.
Creature Type: Vampire
Quote: “What do you mean? You MADE me like this. Now I get to return the favor.”

Sex: F
Age: 16 (when killed)
Height: 5'1"
Weight: 105 lbs
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Red

Attributes: Strength 6, Dexterity 6, Constitution 5, Intelligence 4, Perception 3, Willpower 3

Life Points: 69
Drama Points: 5

Qualities: Attractiveness +3, Fast Reaction Time, Hard to Kill 7, Vampire (Murderous)
Drawbacks: Adversary 2, Cruel 3, Delusion (blames the cast for her death) 2, Obsession (kill the cast), Reckless

Skills
Acrobatics +4
Art +1
Computers +2
Crime +3
Getting Medieval +5
Gun Fu +1
Knowledge +2
Kung Fu +5
Languages +1
Notice +3
Occultism +1
Science +1
Sports +1
Wild Card (Seduction) +3

Combat Decapitation +6 S Successes X5, Armor Negated
Dodge +11 N Defense Move
Grapple +11 N Impairment Varies
Kick +8 14 Bash
Punch +9 12 Bash
Knives (2) +11 12 Slash/Stab

Marion "Cobra" Bubbles

“Let me illuminate to you the precarious situation in which you have found yourself. I am the one they call when things go wrong, and things have indeed gone wrong.”

Kids have it rough. Their parents or guardians die or just leave. Then to top everything off they adopt and dangerous alien creature or find out they are glowing balls of energy. It’s enough to make them want to go on a six state killing spree. Fortunately for them (and us) there is the last line of defense, Marion “Cobra” Bubbles.

Cobra Bubbles is a social worker, a special classification (maybe Division 6). He deals with the cases that send most other social works screaming in terror or crying like babies. He also tends to deal with cases of a rather unusual nature.

Cobra from “Lilo and Stich”
The Disney movie, Lilo and Stich is a riot. I won’t get into the details here, but this movie introduces Cobra as Lilo’s social worker. We find out that he is ex-CIA and help broker a deal to keep Earth protected from aliens back in 1973. We learn that Cobra (don’t call him “Mr. Bubbles”) is very serious about his work, cares for children and is really damn strong. You would not want to piss this guy off...
In "animated" episodes he is a cartoon above, voiced by Ving Rhames.

Cobra in “The Dragon and the Phoenix”
Cobra is pissed off. Headquarters has sent him to Sunnydale, a place he hates. There is a case, that of Dawn Summers, that needs his attention. Her last few social workers have been either too scared or too disturbed to go back to the Summer’s home. The case is a special one. The child’s guardian was completely missing on computer files for the Summer of 2001, no paychecks, no classes, nothing. Then one year later the murder of Kara Mclay occurred in the home. The minor in question, Dawn, found the body along with the murdered woman’s sister, Tara.
There is also a claim that the guardian is living with a much older English man that does not appear on any INS database.
To make matters more urgent the minor’s father is now suing for custody.

It should be no surprise that evil-cultists choose now to kidnap Dawn to extract her Key energy.
In my series here he is played by Ving Rhames.

Cobra Bubbles
Character Type: Experience Hero
Life Points 46
Drama Points 20
Quote: “Thus far you have been adrift in the sheltered harbor of my patience.”
and after he surpise kills a vamp in front of the cast "I hate this town."

Attributes: Strength 5, Dexterity 3, Constitution 4, Intelligence 4, Perception 5, Willpower 5

Qualities: *Cop (Ex), Fast Reaction Time, Iron Mind, Nerves Of Steel, Photographic Memory, Resistance-Pain 3, Resources Level 3, Situational Awareness

Drawbacks: Conspicuous 2 (6'5" tall bald black man in $1000 dollar suit), Honorable 2, Humorless, Obligation 3, Obsession (protect children), Secret 1

Skills
Acrobatics 2
Computers 3
Crime 3
Doctor 2
Driving 4
Getting Medieval 2
Gun Fu 6
Influence 4
Knowledge 4
Knowledge, Aliens and the Supernatural 4
Kung Fu 5
Languages 1
Mr. Fix-It 3
Notice 4
Occultism 2
Science 3
Sports 4
Wild Card, Government Contacts 4

Combat
Maneuver Bonus Base Damage Notes
Dodge +8 — Defense action
Grapple +10 — Varies
Kick +7 12 Bash
Punch +8 10 Bash
Big Pistol +9 15 Bullet
Pistol +9 12 Bullet

Next up. Buffy and Spike look for a weapon to deal with Yoln. Oz returns with a few suprises.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 8

Episode 8: Silent Lucidity

Tara: Wow. Who knew Miss Kitty could quote Shakespeare?
Willow: I am still having trouble getting past “
Who knew Ms. Kitty could talk.”
- Willow and Tara: The Dragon and the Phoenix, Episode 8 "Silent Lucidity"


March 24, 2003. 
Monday

Dawn’s emergent psychic powers traps the cast in her nightmare.
More than a week later and things have cooled down, a but only a little. At least everyone is agreeing to watch a movie together. It’s a Japanese-monster horror film and Xander has to remind Buffy that it is not a training video. Dawn begins to emerge as a powerful telepath and psychic, but not before she traps the cast and herself in the Dreamlands. The Cast must work through there own subconscious issues before they can escape. Willow and Tara’s issues with each other (loss and power), Buffy and Spike’s issues (trust and obsession) and Anya and Xander’s (fears of commitment and rejection). Dawn is dealing with the issues of constantly worried that she nothing more than Buffy’s shadow or even less. All the while Glory taunts her in her dreams.
Story Arc elements: Dawn focused, but also focused on the interplay of the cast.
Game Design elements: Non-magic psychic powers, rules for play in the Dreamlands, Bast for Cinematic games. Introduce Miss Kitty Fantastico II as a Bast. Have the Vampire Chicas come back to town. While the Cast is “sleeping” Dawn’s friend is killed and Faith dies in the hospital.

Notes and Comments:
Given that I was going to college in the 80’s and 90’s I am allowed to name one adventure ever my entire life after a Queensrÿche song. This is it.  I am also allowed to do one "dream" episode.  This is also it.

Ok. So. I killed Faith here.

Of course I have her appear in Buffy’s dreams and up the bi-sexual attraction she has for her. Mind you YEARS before it ever showed up in any comic. But I was careful not to repeat the cliché of a girl showing interest in another girl and have end her up dead (see “The Celluloid Closet” and the "Evil/Dead Lesbian Cliché"). I have Dawn watching all of this in her dreams, but unable to hear anything. She is taunted in her dream by Glory (really just the manifestation of her own fear) with the fact that she is no more real than Kara was and it is only a matter of time before Willow screws up something and undoes the magic holding her together.
I’ll be honest here, I liked Dawn. I always did. So she gets a chance here to shine (figuratively and literally) in the next few episodes.  We had built up her power slowly over the course of the season and this was the episode we let it cut loose.
This episode was very interpersonal. Very little in the way of combat. Most of the creature in the dream lands were Bast (which you have seen some of those in the past here). For the others I used some creatures that later would go on to be in Ghosts of Albion.  I used my old copy of Call of Cthulhu for ideas, but we never really ran into any mythos creatures other than seeing them in background or "through the veil of other dreams".

For the confrontations in the dreams, the cast were paired of (though I was still having trouble getting and keeping a regular Anya player) to deal with their issues.   For Willow and Tara's case, Willow agreed to basically "re-learn" magic from Tara.  If this had been earlier in the season then I would have dropped her back down to Sorcery/Magic 0 and work back up. But we didn't have that benefit.  Plus the next episode I needed a magically potent, if wounded, Willow.  Tara forgave Willow for her dabbling in "dark magics" and agreed that learning magic together would be the best for them both.

The cast finds out Faith died while they were sleeping.  I have a cut scene at the end where a coroner played by Zach Galifianakis performs Faith’s autopsy while Angel waits. Thought it was appropriate if morbid.

The cover of this does not quite represent the agnst of the episode, but my mandate was Willow and Tara on every cover and this was the one I liked the best.


Next up: The New Marvel Girl

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 7

Episode 7: The Road to Hell


Tara: My whole life has been ‘Tara, don’t use your magic.’ ‘Tara, hide your powers.’ ‘Tara you will scare people or hurt an innocent.’ But you are not innocent are you? You tried to hurt and then kill Willow. So maybe it is time I showed everyone just how powerful I am.
- Willow and Tara: The Dragon and the Phoenix, Episode 7 "The Road to Hell"



March 15, 2003. 
Saturday

Buffy must make a pact with demons to fight Leviathan. Anya is ordered to kill the Cast. The Knights of Elohim are back, this time with a Tainted Fallen with them, but not before stopping off in LA to fight Faith. A group of demons, the Mormolycia (Mormo), go to the Slayer for aid in fighting him before he ignites the Hellmouth with his Taint. Yoln has discovered the final piece of Pillager. Cast discovers that he is nothing but pure will now, his body having decayed completely away by the mad god’s Taint. D’Hoffryn orders Anya to kill the Cast to prove her loyalty to him. When she doesn’t he strips her of her power and curses Xander. Tara defeats a newly resurected Warren, but she and Willow have a big fight.
The Cast learns that Faith is dying.
Story Arc elements: The Yoln arc is moved up, the Knights are killed finally, Buffy makes a pact with a dangerous group of demons, Anya rejoins the Cast, the Bronze is destroyed, Andrew dies a horrible death screaming and crying like the little b!tch he is. Buffy’s disconnection to others is more pronounced when the Mormo demons seem to have more in common with her and even call her “sister” when they call everyone else “monkeys”. Willow begins to take more of a backseat role as the group’s magic powerhouse. Tony Foster is introduced. Giles discovers the truth about Slayers and the Watchers council.
Game design elements: Taint rules for Cinematic games, new group of demons, more on Fallen Angels, rules for curses.
Soundtrack: Chris Rea “Road to Hell”


Notes and Comments:
This one is huge. The biggest adventure to date actually takes place, game time, in the shortest amount of time. We have Warren coming back, summoned by Andrew. Warren kills Andrew and takes his skin. And believe me fewer things were more enjoyable to write than Andrew dying like a little stuck pig. Warren-in-Andrew's skin now works on getting the Knights of Elohim back into town. They have brought one of their own who is now Tainted; think of the Hulk with greasy black wings. The Knights want the Slayer, but Warren wants Willow. At the same time someone or something (Yoln) has been killing all the supernatural creatures in town looking for the last half of his sword (which Warren has). There is a scene in the begining when the cast goest to the Wharf Bar because they hear the Hellions are back. They are, or were, but when they get there they are all dead including two of the Knights.

Mormo DemonWe also introduced a new race of the demons, the Lilim. One sub-race, the Mormolycia, are a group of warrior demons, normally they all look like stunningly attractive 6ft tall women in green armor. Their true form is so horrifying that other demons fear them. The Mormo make a pact with the Slayer. They will leave each other alone in order to fight the greater threat, the Tainted Fallen and later Leviathan. Stat-wise the Mormo are Slayers. This is on purpose since it is later revealed that the progenitor of the Slayers was Lilith (see: Every Angel is Terrifying). The Mormo keep refering to Buffy as "Sister" and the others as "monkeys". Thier leader H'Cathh was once known to Anya.

The big battle happens at the Bronze. We have Warren in his Andrew suit with Bronze regulars that he has turned into zombies with some tech device. The fallen Angels. The Tainted Fallen (who is crazy) and Yoln who will fight anything not human. On the other side we have the Cast and the Mormo demons. Keeping track of all that combat was a nightmare. In the end the fallen, the tainted fallen and the zombies are killed. Yoln's head it cut off by Buffy but they discover there is nothing under the armor but pure will to live. Yoln gets up gets his sword piece from Warren and leaves. The Mormo keep their word and tell "their sister" that they will be at her side in the final battle. Tara defeats Warren with her "special power" (more on that), but she and Willow have a huge fight. Before that can get heated D'Hoffryn shows up asking Ana why she has not killed the Slayer yet, a job he gave her to do 2-3 episodes back. He strips her of her power and curses Xander to always feel her pain. Game wise this means any damage Anya takes, Xander takes as well. Images from Star Trek I have not gotten out of my head since I was a kid. During the fight the Bronze blows up, well parts of it.

Warren and Tara: this was an interesting problem. We knew he was going to have to come back to deal with the issue of Willow murdering him (we didn’t want to forget that really), but for the balance we wanted Tara to have to defeat him. Our working theory was to have Tara go all uber witch on him and show that you can be powerful but not have to resort to “dark magic” to do it. But I never liked that idea. And we went back and forth on this for a long time. In the end I made an executive choice but a bit of a compromise. Tara was going to show off some power, but only in terms of defense. Bullets melted when coming near her or bounced off and really that is the same spell she used in Episode 5. She did the one thing though that I felt was totally in character and showed that she was more powerful than the others. She forgave him. In that instant Warren lost all his anger and it was replaced by guilt and remorse. I wanted to show that being empowered did not mean having a power-up. Plus there is the other issue at hand, Adam Busch is in reality a nice guy and pretty cool. He hated playing that character and he told Whedon that killing Tara was “the stupidest thing he ever heard of”. So I was willing to cut him a break by not “playing” that character here. Warren, who the cops think is Andrew, goes to jail. Jonathan, who turned himself in at the start of the episode, is released thanks to Tara giving him the phone number of Tatsou from Episode 4. There is a truce between demons and the Slayer thanks to the Mormo (but she still gets to kill vampires). Willow and Tara are still fighting, but it is that silent sort where you are both mad but not talking. Anya and Xander are dealing with their new reality. Giles tells Buffy what he has learned about Slayers (see link above).

The cast then hears that Faith is in the hospital, she had fought Yoln, and she is going to die.

Next up. Dawn goes all Carrie and goes toe to toe with Willow as the magic powerhouse of the cast.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 6

Episode 6: Tainted Love


Xander: You know what, prophecies are really beginning to piss me off!
- Willow and Tara: The Dragon and the Phoenix, Episode 6 "Tainted Love"



February 14, 2003. Friday

The cast becomes the guinea pigs of a Governmental psychological experiment. The Cast learn of the Bureau, another Initiative like operation whose goal is to control demons and vampires via a means of psychological conditioning. Spike learns he, like all former Initiative subjects, has a remote controlled explosive buried in his head.
Story arc elements: Deal with loose threads involving love. The stress in Willow and Tara’s relationship forms because of her return. Buffy feels she is loosing sight of her own humanity and that everyone around her is moving on and growing up, but she is stagnant. Learn more about the Slayers and their relationship to the fallen angels.
Willow and Tara each discover something about the final battle, but keep it from the other since it involves either the death of Tara or the eventual return to evil for Willow.

Game Design elements: Retcon the scientifically ridiculous Initiative control chip into something that makes sense.
Soundtrack: Marilyn Manson’s cover of “Tainted Love”, Elvis “You Were Always on my Mind”


Notes and Comments:

The first of the "unpublished" adventures. This one should be obvious, it was full of information from Military Monster Squad. We could not get the episode out for the longest time while the material was being written and then longer when the book was further delayed.  Of course we hated "the chip" so I decdided to use something I knew very well, psychology, and say Spike was submitted to a Clockwork Orange like treatment, only with cattle prods.

This was our "dark Valentines Day" epsiode. Everyone's love life was in a lull in the story and we wanted to make it a bit darker. There were a lot of gues stars and really a lot of stuff going on here. Almost too much really. The episode is big, so we decided it was the first "mid season sweeps" episode. Lots of enemies to deal with especially some older ones. Dru comes back and I gave the Cast the opprutunity to stake her if they wanted, but she got away. The first clues on Spike's role are revealed here as well. Plus we wanted to confront the issues of his attempted rape. While all of this was going on the players of Spike and Buffy discovered a means of defeating nearly any foe thrown at them with various combo moves. So much so that when we went to work on Ghosts of Albion it was one of the things we wanted to address.

Here are some more crunchy bits for you.

Revised Initiative HST Control Chip3-Point Drawback (Psychological) The HST Control Chip, installed into many demons, vampires and other non-human lifeforms is a ruse. The chip itself is nothing more than a small tracking device connected to a small, but efficient explosive.
The behavior modification works not because of high-tech nonsense and techno-babble, but rather old fashioned psychology. Through a combination drugs, imagery and liberal amounts of electroshock torture and what is termed “aggressive behavior modification therapy” the HSTs are classically conditioned to not harm humans. While the Initiative was happy to leave it there, the Bureau went the next step and conditioned many HSTs to become a fighting force. Strong, nearly deathless, immune to bullets and an array of natural weapons the idea seemed foolproof. And it was. While eventually the Initiative controlled HSTs would begin to exhibit often dangerous psychoses, the Bureau controlled subjects maintained their conditioning over long periods of time.
Wired into each chip is a locator device, capable of sending and receiving signals up to 100 km with a handheld locator and globally with the use of GPS satellites.
The signal is constant, using a small LiION battery with motion recharge abilities, and a masking signal to cloak it’s true purpose.
Each “chipped” subject also has a small package of a controlled explosive, not enough for collateral damages, but enough to remove the head of the chipped subject. Treat as an automatic decapitation.
The conditioning associated with this chip is a 3 point drawback.
Removal of the chip was never a design feature. Once the chip is active any exposure to oxygen will cause the explosive device to trigger.  Once the frequency is discovered (getting past the cloak) constructing a remote detonator can be easily built with parts from any local Radio Shack.

Next episode I blow up the Bronze. For good.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...