Category:CoD-X / VSS / Austin, TX

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VSS Boundaries: Travis, Hays, Blanco, Burnet, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell Counties (the territory of the domain of Austin)
VST Name: John DiPietro (iVST)
VST Email: sc.austin.codx@gmail.com
Domain Code: TX-065-D

City Type: Free-For-All
Templates Allowed: All
Territory Boundaries: No one supernatural group is strong enough to control specific territories at game start, beyond the locations of their Safe Place merits. The Saint does have a private domain in a church in West Austin, and something powerful resides in Mount Bonnel’s area. A few other areas are secret hideouts for certain things. Other than that, the physical territory is up for grabs.

Themes: The Mysteries of the Past and Future
Moods: Desperation, Tattered Hope, Darkness Around Every Corner
Setting: Chronicles of Darkness 2.0 God Machine Chronicle.

Chronicle Teaser

The supernaturals and supernaturally-aware of Austin and the surrounding area are caught in a battle for the soul of the city - literally and figuratively. The Shadow and Hedge are twisted; the Underworld is shattered; and the servants of the God Machine stir and mill about the city, going about their alien and unknown work. How will the remnants deal with the new world?

City Description:

Austin is a city haunted by nightmares. Since the Icarus Event and the local fallout from that, the supernaturals of Austin have been forced to hide from various enemies that seek them in the city and the territory that surrounds it. Although the various foes don’t work together, their combined presence is a threat to every supernatural power - after all, many of these foes can’t clearly tell the difference between a werewolf, a vampire with Protean, and a Thyrsus who likes taking other shapes.
It is also haunted by nightmares in another way. In the wake of the Icarus Event, the Day the Music Died, and the Day of Revelations, sensitive residents of Austin and its neighboring areas have been beset by visions, thoughts, and other prophecies. Some of these individuals - those who can find an outlet for them - use them to create works of art in various media. These works often are terrifying and fear-inspiring pieces of art, but they also convey secrets about the supernatural world - which can be used by the supernaturals to help stay ahead of their enemies, or by their foes to make things harder for the supernaturals.
In addition, the damage from the Event, the fallout from the war, and the release of the enemies of the supernatural communities, all fell upon the the elders of the supernatural community. Those who remain are without the guidance of their mentors and leadership, and are forced to make their way in the world without the protection and assistance from the ones who kept their societies on track before.
But most of all, the Angels remain in Austin. They disappeared for a time after the War, but returned subtly and otherwise shortly thereafter. Their work seems to be tied to securing Infrastructure where possible, though for what purposes no one understands.

As in other places, supernaturals are rare, having been destroyed or taken by forces beyond over the five years since the Icarus Event:
Vampires: Vampires are by far the rarest supernaturals in Austin. Almost none are known to have survived in the wake of the Strix attacks. In fact, aside from PCs, only one is known to have survived - a mysterious figure called the Saint. The Saint is known to be a member of the Lancea et Sanctum and is believed to be quite an old vampire, who provided protection to many supernaturals in the wake of the Icarus event in his church-haven in west Austin. As for the Strix, it is unclear if any remain in Austin; unlike some supernatural foes, they do not have much interest in attacking prey besides their chosen victims of vampires. Rumors of owl sightings in San Marcos do exist, though...

Werewolves: Almost all known wolf-blooded were killed in the wake, and many packs still fell to hunting parties of Hosts and Pure, driven by the freed idigam, and by the balehounds hunting and striking against the world. In addition, the warping of the Shadow and the corruption of the courts has left the Uratha without their traditional allies. While the Shadow still roughly reflects the mortal world, the trick mirror reflection is more twisted and warped than before. Remnants of spiritual prisons for dark forces dot the landscape as debris, as do pieces of distant parts of the Shadow that were dragged in by the wave of spiritual damage. The courts of Austin and the surrounding areas have also been twisted and displaced over time; the Storm Courts and other water-based spirit groups have taken over where they were once distant powers, making the water powers far more dominant than they were before. Meanwhile the spirits of intangible concepts, especially creative spirits who were once a constant (if unstable) power in the heart of Austin, were disrupted by the Day the Music Died and the return of the creative spark. They still exist, but the damage from the Icarus left many of them touched by other influences and powers, hybrids of their original natures and other forces.

Mages: Mages have the most numbers in the city… but they’re actually far more vulnerable than almost any other group. Most of those mages are in comas. In the Ten Second War, several Austin cabals made a choice to send only one or two members to the war itself, with the rest remaining behind at their sanctums and hallows to send magical energy and support to their cabalmates. The thought was to focus their power into the best fighters and maintain a constant flow of energy. However, in the wake of the War, the aftermath backlash tore through the cabals. The resulting paradox was later blamed for much of the damage in the city, both to the physical world and the Subtle Realms. Moreover, the damage left many of the mages alive but comatose. The Proximi and few mages who were not injured brought these victims to hospitals to keep them safe, but in the five years since they have not woken yet. Meanwhile, Banishers have arisen in Austin and the surrounding cities.

Changelings: As in other places, the Hedge around Austin saw the Hedge’s roads widen to allow the Huntsman through to steal away the majority of the Lost. The sitting Freehold structure was shattered overnight and the physical freehold structure remains only as a discarded building in the heart of the Hedge. However, in Austin the widening roads warped the shape of the Hedge as well. When changelings once more braved the gates, they discovered that much of what they had known was gone. Now, the Hedge resembled dozens of pockets of different worlds, connected by small passageways. One is a large forest; another is a mountain range akin to the Himalayas; and a third is a burning desert overcast by trees of stone. The strange positioning of these new worlds makes navigating the Hedge far trickier and riskier.

Beasts: Heroes arose in Austin as they did everywhere, and they hunted the Begotten with fervor. Few beasts have survived, though rumors abound of some who became Rampant or Unfettered, who still wander the Primordial Dream or stalk the night. Only the PC beasts are known to be active in Austin.

Psychics, Stigmatics, and Lesser Templates: The biggest danger to both of these types tends to be the forces of the God-Machine. Angels seem to be looking out for Stigmatics and psychics, though they are not universally snatching them all up. Specific ones earn their attention, though some who go ignored can become targets at later dates. Overall, these types make up the majority of active supernaturals are lesser templates, at least as far as NPCs go.

Venue Layout:
Austin Proper
The city of Austin itself, as well as the small towns that are enveloped in it (Manchaca and Sunset Valley, i.e.) can be seen as having nine main parts. There are three sections that divide the city vertically and three that divide it horizontally. The eastern section of the city goes from I-35 to the city limits; the western part does the same from MoPac out. Between the two is the center section. The northern section is roughly from Rundberg on up; the southern section starts at the river and goes south. Between those two areas is the middle section. From those lines, Austin takes on a roughly nine-part shape, like a tic-tac-toe board.
In addition, two special areas exist in the middle of the city - the University area and Downtown. The University consists of the University of Texas campus and the surrounding areas; for boundaries, it is between MLK and 29th, and I-35 to Lamar Boulevard (effectively encompassing West Campus). Downtown in game terms exists from MLK to the River, between Lamar and I-35; this includes Rainey Street as well. (As a note, this does include the Capitol; however, the Capitol is off-limits without Regional approval).
These 11 areas will be used as shorthand for plot in the Austin area, and reference to those regions will be used in game to keep things clear; generally, if an event has an effect over a wide area, one of those will be used to help define the boundaries of effects. In addition, each of those areas has a different section of Hedge and different things to focus on.
Around Austin
Several main focus areas also exist outside of Austin proper. Significant areas include Bastrop County, Round Rock, Pflugerville, and San Marcos. These will be used for plot on a case by case basis. PCs also can use areas outside Austin as Safe Places, Places of Power, or for other appropriate purposes.

City History:

The Icarus Event left its scars on Austin and the surrounding areas, as it did everywhere. Paradox ripped through buildings and fields alike; social structures collapsed as vampires, manipulating the world behind the scenes since Austin gave the University of Texas its iconic forty acres, turned to ash under the onslaught of the Strix and their VII servants; and mortals and changelings posing as mortals both were drawn into the Hedge, as the energies of Arcadia warped the places around their gates. Just as happened everywhere, supernatural society collapsed, and damaged the fabric of the mortal society in the wake of its fall.

However, the true cost to Austin was not in the physical damage to the city. In the immediate aftermath of the War, for ten days, Austin fell into a strange lull. It was as if a spiritual fog had fallen over the city, as if artists lost the ability to put their brushes to the paint, and musicians had trouble finding the notes and couldn’t lift their instruments. Anyone who was a creative sort immediately felt the struggles that the authors would call writer’s block - as if the font of inspiration had run dry. People could still take notes and make lists and edits - doing the things that would be considered normal, mundane, orderly - but true creation failed for ten days. In Austin, the day after the Icarus Event is also known as the Day the Music Died.

It was hard to notice this lack of creativity in the wake of so much destruction; those who did notice ascribed it mostly to the effects of of the mass destruction ravaging the city and the world, a sort of depression surrounding and suffusing the city. But it didn’t change the fact that it happened. And it was far, far harder to dismiss what came next, which highlighted in hindsight the effects of the Ten Second War.

On the morning of January 1, 2013, the dawn of the Year That Almost Wasn’t, thousands of creative types in Austin - whether painter, drawer, musician, author, poet, and or some other person who would call themselves an artist of some sort - sat down and created something. With whatever medium they had and with their skills inflamed, whether for one hour or the whole day, these creators made new works as if driven by a fire within their souls - or a flood. When they stopped creating, the works they had wrought made them step back in awe and fear, as they depicted strange vistas, dark monsters, and scenes of terror. Moreover, the works of art seemed somewhat prophetic to those who knew of the truths of the world. Once the supernaturals who survived managed to regroup and study the works, they found that some detailed supernatural events that had happened hidden from mortal eyes, others detailed the Subtle Realms - and still others detailed events that haven’t happened yet, and which might yet come to pass.

At the same time that the mortals dealt with the drought and flood of creativity, a few supernaturals discovered strange happenings in the spirit worlds. Psychics and prophets, be they mortal or mage, felt similar effects pervade their powers. One such psychic later wrote that it felt as if the waters of power and creativity had receded from the damage, and then rose up in a tsunami to strike the city. As the spiritual waters crashed back, they brought with them the detritus from the strange happenings in the world beyond. Those who had the arts of creation turned this spiritual wreckage into their works of art - including pieces that revealed the secrets of the new world order. But for others, the strike was far more painful and harder to deal with. This wave helped spark the awakenings of Banishers and the rise of Heroes. The Shadow and Astral were also warped by this event, and the entirety of both realms still haven’t recovered, now being more fluid psychically and far more mutable - and riddled with foes.

City Timeline:

2006:
  • June 6, 2006: The Balehounds of the Austin area gather at a locus and begin a journey into the deep Shadow, only occasionally surfacing to maintain bare connections to the Flesh before returning to their quests.
2011:
  • September 2011: On Labor Day Weekend, it is discovered that dozens of Fall and Winter Courtiers have been consorting with the allies of the True Fae. After a purge of the traitors, the Summer King of the Ruby City, the Freehold of Austin, refuses to hand over the crown, claiming that no worthy Fall or Winter courtiers exist in Austin. The freehold is aghast, but is forced to agree as the Summer King is the most powerful Changeling in the city, and because of the Labor Day Affair.
2012:
  • February 2012: With great reluctance, the Summer King passes the Crown for a few weeks to Winter’s representative, a young Elemental named Margot Blue, as she has proven her loyalty beyond reproach. The crown continues on its usual cycle until that fall, with the Spring Equinox seeing Margot pass the crown to Jeremiah Harp, Fairest of the Spring.
  • Fall 2012: Once more, Summer refuses to pass to Fall, to far more dissent among the Freehold as several new Fall Courtiers have risen. However, the power of Summer proves too difficult to contest.
  • December 21, 2012: The Icarus Event and the Ten Second War. In the aftermath of the war, most of the mages in the city (who did not attend the Icarus event) are struck with massive Paradox backlashes stemming from the Event and their participation in it (though some of those struck were not known to have any connection and were affected randomly. The damage of these paradoxes, especially from the Gross Arcanum, cripples the region. At the same time, the Strix begin their assault, and the Hedge undergoes the beginning of its shifts.
  • December 22, 2012: The Day the Music Died. No act of creativity occurs from here until the start of 2013. The damage done by mage paradoxes and other supernatural occurrences is blamed in retrospect by mortals, as they claim that the trauma of the destruction prevented anyone from creating new works.
    • Also on this date, the Summer King vanishes, as the first Huntsmen and Loyalists attack. The Crown does not pass to Winter despite Margot remaining uncaught
2013:
  • January 1, 2013: The Day of Revelation. Thousands of artists of all mediums - many of whom are supernaturals, especially stigmatics and psychics - across Austin and the surrounding area feel their muse supercharged. Some of these work depict the supernatural landscape as it is settling; others depict events or individuals important to the area’s past. Many others, however, depict possible future events. Other similar events happen in the future, but on this day it overcomes many creators all at once.
    • The Day of Revelation also marks sixteen Banisher Awakenings in Austin, and triggers the formation of a dozen Heroes.
    • The Hedge’s shifts solidify; the Hedge now resembles the shattered and twisted state that remains to the present day. By now, the Huntsmen have come in full force, with Privateers and Loyalists working to catch those who escape the Huntsmen’s nets.
  • January 31, 2013: War between the Pure and the Uratha is considered to begin officially on this day. It continues for two years, at which point both sides, devastated, withdraw from contact.
  • June 25, 2014: The rearrangement of the Hedge, combined with the failure of the Bargain, causes the last of the known freehold gates to fail; the physical structure of the freehold in the Hedge slips from discovery, even by those versed in Hedge navigation. Jeremiah Harp is seen being captured by a Huntsman while trying to get into the Freehold through its last known entrance - a utility door in the back of a crowded Sixth Street Bar.
2014:
  • April 2014: The Balehounds return in secret to the Austin area and establish bases of operations in the suburbs of the city.
  • August 2014: The Strix withdraw from Austin proper. Few vampires remain within the city; only the Saint, the leader of both the Nosferatu and the Sanctum within Austin’s territory, remains of the old praxis. Rumors remain of Strix haunting San Marcos.
2015:
  • March 2015: the Historical Game.



Storyteller Notes

City and Setting Notes:

  • The aftermath of the Icarus Event hit the strongest supernaturals harder than most, as ancient evils chose to target those most powerful foes first.. At the inception of the chronicle, the VST will likely not approve power levels above 5 to reflect that the survivors, at least in part, managed to survive because they were less noticeable in the grand scheme of things.
  • Events that threaten supernatural secrecy will be tracked and may affect encounters with NPCs, specifically “Predator-type” NPCs (Predator-type NPCs are being defined locally Hunters, Banishers, Heroes, Balehounds, Hosts, and Privateers that are not generally tied to ongoing plots. Such NPC types may also be used to tie into plots, but plot-relevant NPCs will not be Predator-types encountered by PCs randomly).
  • Travel Risks are a major factor. Characters passing through Austin on a major highway (i.e. I-35, 183, or the toll roads) may pass safely through so long as they do not stop overnight in Austin proper (or San Marcos, for vampires) or stray too far from their roads (that is, there is no restrictions on characters physically passing through Austin to get to other cities); such characters do not need to alert the Austin VST of travel.
    • However, if a character enters domain territory and dallies, stays, or strays from the road from travelling they need to alert the local VST (that is, if you are coming into Austin with the intent of meaningfully interacting with the city or its residents).
    • Those travelling through spiritual realms should likewise alert the VST if they stop moving significantly within the domain border. There are many enemies in the Hedge, Underworld, and Shadow. Specific travel risks will be determined based on the method of travel, the character’s nature (i.e. supernatural type), and the current threat level in Austin. This may include, but is not limited to, being forced to pay spiritual tolls, attracting the attention of hunters, Banishers, or Heroes, or encountering a dangerous section of an ephemeral realm.

VSS Policies:

  • Downtimes are due to storyteller email by the Saturday the week before game to be considered for game. Downtimes reset each game, and represent the time between games. A character may claim full XP from submitting downtimes or from attending game.
  • Proxying to live game requires a “warm body” - the player wishing to proxy must find someone willing to portray that character at the game in their absence.
  • Proxies in downtimes are permitted at VST discretion. The VST may deny proxies due to local conditions, but will not do so arbitrarily.
  • Travel through the supernatural realms is extremely dangerous and will incur travel risks. Characters travelling to Austin or the surrounding counties should advise the VST of how they are travelling.
  • The VSS will generally employ the Clue system where appropriate. In the event that it is not employed could be, advantages that would provide additional clues will assess bonuses to rolls instead.
  • Please place anything that requires a write-up (such as Mystery Cults, Places of Power, or True Friend) on the database as a Low Approval. This allows for review and tracking in the future.

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