How an Angel Dies, Part 4

Wednesday, we played our fourth and probably penultimate session in How an Angel Dies, the SAS for Demon: The Dysphagia. If you want a refresher, last session is here.

So, the first thing we did was spend some experiences. Michelle bought the Fungible Knowledge Embed, and then plugged that into her Cipher (formerly known as Interlock Matrix). Her character experienced an epiphany, and achieved her first Interlock: She can convert her own Skill dots into Willpower, temporarily, to refresh her Willpower pool (so if you’re going into a fight and you don’t reckon you’ll need to know how to whittle, you can convert Crafts to Willpower). She also gained a dot of Primum and gained a permanent glitch: her voice echoes slightly.

Edgar hung out in the lobby as the second act of the ballet progressed, and wound up missing something important (he rolled Perception, failed, took the dramatic failure for a Beat). Whatever that was, though, that let him ask the next question for his Cipher. Now he knew that the next Embed for his Cipher was a) in the Vocal category and b) used Wits. That narrowed it down to one of five. Figuring that Voice of the Machine was the most likely (or at least the most interesting), he spent some experience and bought it, and then, crossing his fingers, tried it in his Cipher.

Success! He, too, gained Primum and a glitch (tattoo of a wristwatch on his wrist; it’ll start moving and ticking if he gets temporary glitches), but also his first Interlock: He can divert an angel to another target, which can give him a reprieve or make someone else’s life hard. But all of this doesn’t help him to figure out what he’s missing.

He feels a ping of Aether, as do several of the demons in the house. Will goes out to investigate, but sees nothing. The show ends, and the characters follow the cultists out. Saskia buys the Across a Crowded Room Embed, and attempts to use it, but fails. She takes the dramatic failure for the Beat, and can only whisper for the next hour. She also notices Will’s shadow detach itself and slither across the room to attach itself to one of the cultists.

The characters mean to follow the cultists, who go to the parking lot and pile into two cars, but they realize belatedly that they didn’t procure a way to do that. Luke hails a cab at the taxi stand, and Jamie uses Lucky Break – it’s a checker cab, and those thing seat nine. They also wind up with a cabbie who’s a little on the shady side, and totally willing to play “follow those guys.”

They ride through town to Bellevue, into Redmond, into a subdivision full of identical, 50s housing. They get out of the cab and follow the cultists to a house in a cul-de-sac, and Amy sneaks up to the window to peak in. Sadly, she fails the Stealth roll and (again) the player takes the DF for the Beat. She doesn’t see the cultists…but she sees someone sign at her, “I’ll be right out.”

They figure (correctly) that he’s a demon. He walks out and introduces himself as Simon Flannery. He chats with the characters for a moment, claims not to know Gordon or have any idea what he was up to, and claims that this cult is just an experiment – he wants to push the limits of the time splinters. Will mentions that he wasn’t expecting such a polite confrontation, and is a little disappointed (he’s a Saboteur through and through); Simon says that, since they’ve brought this “cult is getting more important” thing to his attention, he’d better go and make sure it doesn’t get worse. Edgar asks him what would happen if he stops the ritual now, and Amy uses Freudian Slip, just to see.

Simon snaps, “Then all my hard work would be fucked.”

(As an aside, I don’t know that Freudian Slip should work on demons, certainly not without a resistance roll of some kind, since it technically forces an honest reaction. Since it was a PC using it on an NPC, however, and since said NPC has kind of a low Cover, I was fine with it. Context, people.)

Anyway, Simon, realizing he’s fucked (the characters hadn’t really been believing his line anyway), turns around, bursts into demonic form and dives into the ground, phasing into the basement. Will and Edgar both change to demonic form. Edgar crashes through the picture window and runs halfway down the stairs, where he sees the cultists performing their highly stylized ritual. Will smashes through the front door (“OH YEAH!”) and gets to the top of the stairs.

Amy changes to demonic form and uses Clairvoyant Sight on Simon, since she’s met him. He’s surrounded by fire, apparently about to punch upwards. Amy says, “He’s in a pit of fire!”

Jamie says, “A pit of fire? You mean the firepit?” and uses Play on Words. They run around to the backyard, where, indeed, Simon is standing in the barbecue pit that houses in this era almost always had, and is looking very confused.

With Blind Sense, Edgar can tell there’s a stone slab in the basement, below which is a hollow. He relays this to Will. But then Simon uses Swift Resolution (which is a gamble, because while it ends the conflict, it means he loses because he’s clearly outgunned). I got an exceptional success, so I stipulated that the characters couldn’t kill him. But they chose to stop him. He changes to human form and holds up his hands.

This could have been the end of it…but then Will decided to get dramatic. He jumps down the stairs and smashes the stone slab in, taking most of the foundation out (using Shatter). And lo, Marchosias was released.

The demon-wolf was apparently trapped beneath the house, an immense, fire-breathing monster. The cultists are already dead, killed by the destroyed of the slab and the backblast from below, but now the beast is free.

Edgar uses his newly acquired Voice of the Machine Embed and learned that the Lambent was incoming – apparently they’d missed their chance to angel-jack.

Saskia uses Combustion to make the stones around Marchosias more flammable, figuring maybe he’d burn himself up. Luke uses Multiple Images (himself now in demonic form) to confuse the demon-wolf, which works; the wolf snaps at them. Edgar and Will get out of the basement, and Marchosias breathes fire. The whole place goes up in an inferno.

Meanwhile, Simon changes back to demon form and takes to the air, using his wings. Amy and Jamie follow, starting a chase.

Marchosias leaps out of the pit, burning and angry. Luke teleports up and tries to grab Simon, but misses. He alters his descent to land on Marchosias, and the demon-wolf yelps like a wounded dog (but otherwise, it growls like a diesel engine). Edgar tries to banish it using what he remembers from The Lesser Key of Solomon, but nothing happens. Saskia spends more experience to buy Solitary Confinement (not an Embed!), and tries to imprison the wolf in an oubliette, but again, fails and takes the dramatic failure. She vanishes into her own little prison-dimension.

Jamie catches up with Simon and grabs him, but he punches her and uses Knockout Punch. She plummets toward the earth, and Amy flies down to catch her, but now Simon is far ahead of them.

Will calls up his Intimidating Aura and roars at Marchosias, and the wolf backs off into the fire and snarls. He’s cowed it for the moment, but Simon is gone, Saskia is trapped, Jamie is unconscious, Amy is carrying her, and the Lambent is apparently en route.

Tune in next time, and find out the exciting conclusion of How An Angel Dies!

9 thoughts on “How an Angel Dies, Part 4”

  1. Some interesting stuff here. Apparently acquisition of powers is instantaneous. Cool!

    I’m really intrigued by those Cipher mechanic works, but I haven’t quite managed to puzzle it out yet. It looks like a sort of guessing game, where you try to figure out a particular Embed your ST has in mind, and upon acquiring it you can advance. There seems a little bit more to it though.

    The PCs certainly seem to have gotten themselves in a right mess here. 🙂

    • Acquisition of powers is a sticky wicket in any RPG, and some of it comes down to whether the ST is willing to let you buy a power (or generally spend XP) in medias res. I usually am, because as a player I like to use my cool toys, and it sucks to be in a position where having a given power would be useful, but not being allowed to buy it. Hell, I usually let players “borrow” XP to buy stuff that’s immediately helpful.

      That said, Embeds are more a matter of remembering stuff that you already knew than learning something novel, so it makes a certain narrative sense to buy them on the spot, anyway.

      The Cipher is probably the most involved part of Demon, from a system standpoint, and if we do a Kickstarter for Demon I’m totally going to tell Rich to offer a reward level where I help an ST design his players’ Ciphers.

      • I really hope there’s a Kickstarter for Demon. My entire group is all keen on throwing money at any such KS that happens, even though we are already playing (albeit with early versions of the rules – but that’s how good this game is, folks in TV land!). We’re all very excited for it and have been spreading that excitement as much as we can, in general terms (aka without saying anything we shouldn’t).

        That reward tier sounds pretty good, too. 🙂

      • So is this to say that an Angel in its natural state effectively knows all Embeds and is simply limited in which ones they can use by their God-Machine proscribed mission?

  2. Cipher to me at least from what glimpses we have had of it seems sort of similar to Promethean milestones. Is that at all a fair comparison?

    With XP, normally I like to go with either “in-game” reason for immediate learning or hand-wave between session learning. For Demon though just given the nature of them I think immediate learning I feel works.

    I too would back a Kickstarter for Demon.

    Also, I continue to love Play on Words.

    • I may turn out to be wrong, but to me the Cipher seems like a representation of a Demon continually trying to crack the God-Machine’s security, and when you manage to beat another layer of its encryption and unlock another level of what you used to be when you were a being of unsullied light from beyond the cosmos.

      • I get that vibe as well, I meant more in how it is made, ie; it is something developed by the storyteller that the player uncovers.


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