Saturday Seed ~ 154 (Mage: The Ascension)

This seed is being planted for Mage: The Ascension. I don’t tend to share my seeds for the World of Darkness, but a recent conversation about the game caused this one to seem ripe for doing so.

My Saturday Seeds also reappear on Ancient Scroll on random Saturdays~

The seed

The seed involves a small group of orphaned Orphans doing their best to stay out of sight and out of mind.

Planting the seed

The seed can be planted at any point in a Chronicle, but I find that things like this should turn up at a really inconvenient time; when the group is least prepared to take on the additional responsibility that this situation may inspire in them. It is suitable for any level of experience, but works best in small groups with limited resources. For more well-established groups, it could serve well as a source of potential recruitment and temptation. For newer groups just trying to get by, it will serve better as a family, in that it can be a burden and a duty, but a place to belong as well.

The Details

In the midst of doing something else, no doubt something very important, the characters stumble across a small group of kids who are very much in the wrong place at the wrong time. They range in ages from 10-14 and though clean and well-fed, are very likely living on the streets.

They might have run afoul of a predatory fomor, or a toxic urban spirit of a less tangible nature, but whatever the nature of their distress it is out to get them and it is not a threat entirely from this world. If the characters do not intervene, the kids will be unlikely to survive unharmed, and may very well be in life-threatening peril.

Two things should come out of this encounter: the kids are more than they seem, and someone is looking out for them. How that all plays out is entirely up to you. Basically, the kids have awakened and demonstrate signs of some formal training in bending reality to their will. Also, anyone sensitive to the interplay of entropic forces and/or the distance voiding twists of Correspondence may notice that the conflict is being observed from afar. Very astute or sensitive observers may not that the encounter is being influenced circumspectly in the kids’ favor.

If the character fail to intervene, this distant observer will take the risk of using vulgar magick to help them escape – even to the point of opening a gate for them to step through.

If the characters do intervene, but lack the tools to realize that there is more to these kids than meets the eye, you may want to consider having vile reinforcements show up to put everyone in peril and so force the hand of the unseen benefactor to subtly twist things so that escape or success is possible.

Once free of the threat, the characters may be of a mind to get the kids to safety. This will open lines of discussion which reveal that the kids have a guardian of sorts who with some curious allies takes care not only of them, but quite a few other kids just like them. Continued discussion will lead to the kids seeking to show them their safe house and on to them introducing their protector – a haggard-looking man whose love for the children is as evident in his eyes as the scars cut into his body. Lists of names are cut in his skin; first, middle, and last. Too many of these with cruel lines cut across them.

They introduce him as “Uncle,” but the man gives his name if asked as, “Donatien Canton.”

What’s going on

The characters have stumbled across a small group trying to stay under the radar and do a little good when they can. Because of tonight’s events, they will be bundled up and moved to a new location again. This is an uncertain gamble, and perhaps if the characters lend their support, an  unnecessary one.

Donatien, a fairly accomplished willworker who rose to some notoriety in Traditional circles a decade ago then dropped out of sight, has – like so many – continued to be sought for questioning by not-so-Traditional elements in Awakened society, for ill-defined crimes. Characters may have seen his face and shockingly white hair on wanted posters or on true crime TV shows; younger, more arrogant, and untouched by worry or the knife’s edge. This man is haunted by fear, and is slowly being consumed from within by the anger of futility and injustice.

For reasons of his own, Canton has become a mentor, and almost surrogate father, to a cluster of awakened children – orphans and runaways. At first it was the duty of a promise made to a lost friend, but later it became a life-defining quest to seek out the lost and persecuted who could not fight back, and keep them safe. They drift quietly from town to town, finding abandoned houses to make their own and use as safe havens to study, grow in awareness, and practice their burgeoning arts. Canton seeks to give them as full an understanding of the true nature of space and time as he can, but starts the younger children out with lessons in how thin the veil between each layer of reality truly is. This sensitivity to the spiritual truths of the world has helped Canton make alliances with the shifting breeds and keep his charges clear of the other predators of the night. In some parts of the country so tight are his bonds that from time to time Gaia’s children take some of the burden from Canton to teach and care for the slowly growing family he has collected… and give the ones who grow old enough to fight a place to stand to do so.

In the heart of the city, straddling the nearly perceptible border where the blight of urban decay transitions into the cancerous black heart of corruption and death, Canton and his young charges have recently taken over a crumbling building and fortified it within and without against all manner of threats. Night after night, Canton and any allies he may have in the region work to clean the streets by subtly drawing attention to the worst offenders and removing with prejudice those who may prove too much for the authorities.

Canton’s theory is that it is easier for the kids to blend into this area than the supposed peace of a quiet suburb, and that the demons faced here are much more honest than those which eat at the souls of the yuppies and wage slaves.

“There is a war going on, and it is not just a philosophical one.”

Is this the best environment for these kids? Could they learn more, and make more of a difference with a more Traditional approach or under the protection of a more rooted Cabal? Should an obvious Hollow One with a martyr complex and more self-loathing than sense be trusted to raise and shape what will one day either be a powerful group of young mages, or a new list of names of dead children?

NPC Notes:

Donatien Canton began life as a gigolo and low-level con-man running a fortune-telling racket for bored, wealthy housewives. His sensitivity to the Spheres of Spirit and Correspondence developed early in life and eventually he grew tired of fleecing Sleepers and moved into more overtly occult-themed practices. Ultimately this lead him into contact with a cabal of awakened magi in the Hollow Ones Tradition. The result of actions taken to defend that cabal from the Technocratic pogrom lead to a long period of flight and hiding. After surfacing, he mentored under a Master of Entropy who had likewise removed herself from an active role in awakened society. This curious mix of personal development and formal training had a profound effect on how he perceives the world and the people in it. Over the years he has been exposed to greater understanding of Time and Prime but still struggles with them.

Swearing to take care of a fellow student’s children should he be taken by the Technocrats changed Canton’s ever inward turning life. Left as their sole guardian he found himself ever on the run, and more and more conscious of the greater and greater number of souls forced awake by the horror of their surroundings in this ever darkening world. He could no longer turn his back, no longer turn a deaf ear.

For each young person taken into his protection he carves their name into his arms and legs. For each lost to an early death or the other side, he crosses off the name. Each ritual mutilation weighs him down deeper and deeper into a crushing pit of anger and frustration.

It won’t be long until the pressure erupts…

The Orphans under Canton’s care display talents in a wide range of areas, but all begin training in Spirit until they can at least develop their senses of otherworldly things. Correspondence follows, then Time. Gifted students, or those who choose to stay and work with Donatien to protect the others are given the opportunity to learn the secrets of the sphere of Entropy.

Canton is willing to share what he knows with other magi he feels he can trust, and is open to learning new things himself in exchange. He cares nothing for the goals of any group caught up in the sweeping ideals of a grand ascension war. His is an agenda rooted in personal relationships and flowing like water around obstacles until the force of it wears the obstacle away.

Enjoy~

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