Life is Good

Every Rose has its Thorns
The plot thickens

As Derrick recovered from our encounter with Karen, the air demi-goddess – watchtower of the east, I tried to track her down at the hospital, her work and her destroyed house. She had disappeared…

She showed up late Sunday night, shivering in light clothing and dripping with rain, looking for Derrick. We were all immediately suspicious and defensive. Even more so when she showed no signs of the grievous wounds Derrick and I had given her last week. Seeing her plight and non-aggression, we invited her in. Paul quickly got her a towel and a hot beverage. We all sat down and started to talk.

Karen at first struggled with what to say. Gathering resolve, she said she recognized that we had special abilities and wanted to enlist our help. She said that the Karen we encountered a week ago was not her true self. She spoke of a being named Chastity who was the Center who was becoming more assertive and controlling. She spoke of their kidnapping women and that a life would be lost on Sowen if we didn’t help. We had to break a link in a black circle on a mountain top.

I immediately offered to help. Paul and Derrick were more reserved but eventually agreed to help. Karen answered our questions but could not offer many details. She said she had to return to Chastity before she became suspicious and replaced her. As she left she gave Paul a kiss on the forehead and called him her brave knight.

The glass she was using exploded. We were not sure what to make of that. We then had to settle up what we were hiding from each other. I learned why Derrick and Paul went camping together. I showed them how I could move through walls which explained my minor injuries in the exploding house. My attempts to follow her were frustrated by the rain and darkness.

Later that night she visited our dreams looking for Derrick. In the morning, I made a pancake breakfast for my roommates and we talked about the previous night, the dreams and next steps. Derrick said Karen was entering dreams while awake which was different from how he did it. I was going to find out more about Chastity and Paul was going back to the woods to satiate his thirst and run wild. Still recovering, Derrick texted Hazel and went to a movie.

On a hunch, I went to the social work department at the University of Vermont. I found pictures of two women named Chastity in the hall outside the department. I waited in the library until it was late and went back to the undergrad office looking for information on them. I had to move quickly through the wall between the office and an adjoining classroom when a janitor started unlocking the door. I discovered that Chastity Frank was a sophomore in social work from Amarillo Texas. I did not find anything on in the graduate office. On a hunch, I went to the social work department’s webpage and found Chastity Collins, an associate professor living in Burlington and running a small shelter for homeless women.

When Paul and I returned the next morning, we learned another woman had been kidnapped – Lily Wendy Guy.

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Every Rose Has It's Thorn
Finding Hazel and the Witch

Paul and Derrick come back from their successful camping trip. Having achieved forcing himself to transform back from his lycan form, Paul’s resources are depleted. They have breakfast at IHOP (a place where someone can hypothetically take many meals while their spouse has a baby at the nearby hospital) and go home to crash.

Travis/Stuart tells the other room mates that he knows where Karen lives and shows them a picture of her in front of her yellow house. Derrick wonders if the yellow trees in his dream where an indicator that Hazel is being kept in Karen’s house. He goes to stake out Karen’s home with Travis/Stuart.

While watching the house Derrick sees Hazel through a window. He and Travis approach the house. Hazel answers the door in response to their knocking. She seems serene and oblivious as to her disappearance and the fact that the police are searching for her. They ask to speak to Karen. The interior of Karen’s home is also covered in yellow and purple/pinks tones). Hazel retreats into the home’s interior and Karen comes to the door. She attempts to intimidate/mesmerize Derrick into leaving and keeping Hazel’s location a secret from the police. It doesn’t work.

Hazel invites them in and tries to intimidate them even more. When it doesn’t work she begins to summon a small localized storm to surround her. Travis/Stuart calls Paul, but Paul is asleep/ignoring incoming calls due to being so depleted from last night’s activities. She informs them that she is a WatchTower of some-such or another quadrangle – relating to magic and witchcraft in a way that Derrick and Travis/Stuart are not familiar with. Without actually touching them, Karen began raining painful, lashing blows on Derrick and in the direction of Travis/Stuart.

Travis/Stuart returned fire with his short-barreled shotgun, which was significantly more successful at breaching Karen’s windblown cocoon of defense than Derrick’s dream disks. Wounded, Karen brought a large lighting strike down, exploding the section of the house the three combatants were standing in. Travis/Stuart avoided injury by temporarily rendering himself incorporeal. Derrick however took a large piece of wooden shrapnel in the stomach. One more shot from the shotgun left Karen sobbing and subdued after knocking here clear into the back yard.

Hazel came out of an undamaged section of the home and the effects of Karens spells were gone. She ran to Derrick and went with him to the hospital where his abdomen required surgery. The police came, Karen told them that Hazel had been in her home and that Travis/Stuart and Derrick had come to see her when Karen’s “meth lab blew up.” According to her, Travis/Stuart saved her life by dragging her from the wreckage into the back yard.

Hazel was at the hospital when Derrick woke up. She was unprepared to talk about the nature of what went down. For the time being, letting it be about a “meth lab” was all she was prepared to handle. She was affectionate and appreciative towards Derrick, but their relationship status was not officially changed by the events of her rescue at that time.

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Every Rose Has its Thorn

Approximately a month has passed, pushing us to mid-October.

Derrick is moderately despondent over Hazel dumping him. Paul is back at work and once again feeling the pressures of his impending transformation. Travis is back from his time following the Sanders campaign trail on the road.

The three decide to attend a large sorority party within walking distance, across the river in Burlington. Derrick is more accustomed to THC and hallucinogens than ETOH, and finds himself quickly inebriated after a coconut rum jello shot or two. He spots Hazel at the party commiserating on a couch with a fellow graduate student in the social work department, Karen. Derrick sees Karen slipping something into Hazel’s drink when she is not looking. Derrick attempts to fall on the table, knocking over the cup, but instead drunkenly falls face first on the floor, bringing the party to a grinding halt. Paul and Travis remove him from the premises.

As Paul and Travis attempt to bring Derrick back home, they hear the sounds of an assault happening behind a home. Paul runs behind the home to find a slight woman being berated and pummeled by a large douchebag. The woman sobs and the man screams at Paul to leave, attempting to intimidate Paul away even in the face of Paul’s revealed policemen’s badge. Paul offers to escort the woman to the police station. Showing obvious fear of the man, she refuses his request and says she is fine. Paul backs away and calls the domestic disturbance into the police. They tell him two cruisers will be there shortly. Paul informs them he has been at a party and had 1 or 2 beers. Before the police can arrive Paul once again hears the sounds of the woman being beaten. If anything, the asshole’s treatment has increased in severity. Paul runs back around the house and kicks the jerk in the ribs hard enough to send him away from the woman he had been standing over and smacking into the ground. Travis also runs around the house intent on observing the whole affair, potentially documenting it for the news. Unsupervised, Derrick walks into these people’s front door and finds himself in a drug den.

Paul further restrains the abusive man, the police arrive and collect everyone. Derrick shouts about drugs in the house. Travis continues documenting. Paul is asked to go back to the station with the police and the methed out coupled to file reports. Travis gets Derrick back to the apartment on their own.

The next day a detective (Davidson) visits the apartment. He had heard that Paul, and his roommates had been at the sorority party before getting involved in the meth domestic disturbance. He has come to ask them about the party because someone has gone missing and their last known whereabouts were at that event. Before the officer can reveal who has gone missing, Derrick asks after the safety of Hazel. The detective relates that Hazel is the missing person. Derrick tells the detective he and Hazel had dated for a short period of time some weeks before. He informs the detective that he did see Hazel at the party and that he saw Karen put something in her drink. Paul does his best to suggest that Derrick could in now way have been involved with Hazel’s disappearance. The detective seems dubious.

The three have lunch together in Burlington and stop at Pearl Street Beverage to get some hair of the dog for Derrick. Karen is working in the refrigerator restocking drinks. Derrick confronts her about Hazel’s disappearance and asks about what drugs they were doing and what had been put in Hazel’s drink. Karen assures Derrick that while she was at the party, she was not with Hazel and did not put anything in her drink. Derrick comes away convinced she is correct and tells his room mates as much. Once home, after a couple hours, Derrick can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong. Finally he convinces himself that Karen was lying to him, he really did see her at the party and he saw her put something in Hazel’s drink. He informs his room mates of this. He also calls Detective Davidson to report the interaction with Karen.

Travis’s suspicions are aroused. Curious as to how Karen had been able to temporarily convince Derrick to believe something other than what he knew to be true, he took to the web to find documented evidence of Karen and Hazel together at the party. From a man’s Instagram account (Sidney) he finds a picture of the party with Karen and Hazel sitting together on the couch.

Detective Davidson shows up at the apartment and berates Derrick for telling him lies about Karen. Karen was never at the party and Derrick is sure to be arrested if he doesn’t start telling the truth. Travis asks the officer to look at the pictures he found. The detective looks at them and shakes his head in disbelief. He leaves saying he needs to take a walk and clear his head.

Paul accesses departmental software so that he can see into the casefile Davidson is building on Hazel’s disappearance. He sees notes on the detectives conversations with Derrick and Travis and Paul, and notes on the detective’s conversation with Karen. Lastly, there are also notes in the interaction with Travis and the Detectives reaction to the photos, the words headache are written over and over again.

Derrick focuses on thinking of Hazel as he goes to sleep, attempting to infiltrate her dreams for the purpose of communication. In the dream he finds himself in a dark wood obfuscated by heavy fog. Hazel can be heard in the distance. He finds here, tentatively pawing at the air with her eyes closed asking where she is and why is she here. He calls to her but she does not respond. Her eyes open, the fog vanishes, the trees all turn yellow, and she disappears from the dream immediately.

Travis continues investigating Karen. He that she is from Putney VT, he learns about her family. He finds pictures of her in front of where she lives, a yellow house.

Paul feels his transformation is imminent and prepares to sojourn in the woods at his campground. Derrick offers to come along to attempt to help Paul maintain control through the transformation. On the drive to the campground Derrick relates the content of his dream to Paul. Paul suggests this must mean that Hazel is at least still alive.

At the campsite Derrick dozes by the fire, from 9 to 1 Paul painfully struggles against the urge to change. When the fight starts to overwhelm him Derrick comes to his aide to try to increase his focus. By 1 it’s too much and Paul must allow the wolf to come into being. Derrick is successful and keeping the wolf’s attention. After a few moments, Derrick’s words cut through the chaotic miasma of the wolf’s need to hunt and feed, giving Paul the opportunity to regain full control and revert to his human form. However, without having eaten anything in his wolfish state, Paul feels exceedingly drained, almost sickly.

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Prelude-Continued
Only two players in attendance

Only Paul and Derrick’s players were able to attend.

The belligerent former military, current college student gets drunk and stumbles out of the apartment to drown in the river.

Travis is on assignment covering the Sanders campaign in other parts of VT.

Derrick is set up on a date with a graduate student (Hazel Cherry) whose mentoring professor is one of Derrick’s regular customers. They get ice cream at the waterfront and have a good time. Later she invites him on a long hike. On the hike they are confronted by a mother bear with her two cubs. Derrick attempts to drive them away with loud noises and flailing arms. Failing that, he dreamcrafts a nightmarish vision to drive the bears away. Unfortunately the illusion he creates is actually from the young woman’s nightmares, so she is scared away as well. Some time later he attempts to clumsily explain that the creature was his doing but that scaring her was not his intention and it was done only in an attempt to keep them safe. She temporarily acquiesces to the explanation… but dumps him some time soon after.

Paul experiences a sensation of increased nervous energy and irritability as the full moon approaches. While on duty he responds to a dog left in a hot car and uses his baton to extract the pooch and wail on the vehicle dramatically. Bystanders document the exploit and it is soon posted on Youtube. Paul is put on two weeks paid administrative leave.

While on a drive with Derrick, Paul is forced to pull onto the fairgrounds and transforms into the wolf. He refrains from attacking Derrick but kills and consumes various stray and wild animals in the surrounding woods before returning to the vehicle buck naked the next morning. Derrick suggests that they start a regimen of relaxation and focus exercises meant to train Paul to gain more control of his bestial states.

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Moving In
The prelude

Late in the summer, four strangers unknowingly stumble on an oddly sweet rental opportunity that unbeknownst to their knowledge is not visible to most craigslist users. Their mysterious benefactor prefers to remain unknown and only allows rent to be paid in bitcoin.

Derrick Posner is the first to arrive and claims the “master” bedroom for himself. A move quickly contested by Steve, the young student, living on his Post-911 GI Bill, and who is kind of a jerk. An additional (quieter) room mate also arrives – an investigative blogger with a voyeuristic drive to observe more than interact (Stuart). The dispute over the guest room smooths over quickly as Steve pulls back on the attitude a touch.

Shortly thereafter a fourth room mate arrives in civil uniform (Paul) and causes Derrick to have an abrasive meltdown. Derrick recognizes this fourth room mate, a figure whom he had previously assumed to be a product of his own vivid dreams. As it turns out, Derrick had actually been a visitor in Paul’s dream. This is something that happens from time to time for Derrick, it’s not something he can control, but typically he only stumbles into the dream space of someone he has a long sustained relationship, or at least a strong acquaintanceship, with. This is the first time he has visited the dreams of a stranger, only to be confronted with the realization that the individual is in fact a real person to be met in waking life. What’s more, the realization that Paul is in fact an actual person causes Derrick to realize that the terrifying secret of this previously assumed dream figure is actually a secret Paul must struggle with in his life. These realizations shake Derrick and cause him to behave erratically. This odd behavior leads Paul to retreat quickly.

The odd exchange is documented and shared online by Stuart. Stuart also informs the room mates of his commitment to uncovering who the landlord is and why they prefer to keep themselves undisclosed.

Later that night, Derrick once again finds himself in a dream of Paul’s. He attempts to apologize and reassure Paul that everything is well. Paul attempts to retreat again, which leads him to get into his vehicle and attempt to drive while sleep walking. He narrowly misses slamming his vehicle into a tree while driving through the forrest and doing significant damage to his tires.

Nabil’s Note
This prelude was largely a chance to shake down the characters, and establish some level of familiarity with the Cypher System. I thoroughly enjoyed the fluidity of the system, and appreciate the simplicity of basically everything.

Character creation in this system is very interesting, and I was pleased to see that people largely didn’t try to power game. Giving people the power to dictate just about anything also gave them the ability to stretch out their creativity a bit. We ended up with some very interesting possessions, for example. Including a Serbu Super Shorty. super-shorty-shotgun-3300.jpg.

We also had our first two GM Intrusions last night. Derrick losing his cool when he met Paul, and Paul almost running into a tree by awakening from a vivid dream while driving a car through the woods were both highly memorable, at least for me, and are exactly how I had hoped this system would feel.

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Welcome to Life is Good!

Welcome to Life is Good.Set in an urban fantasy version of Burlington, Vermont, this story will follow a team of roommates as they explore the city and the wilderness surrounding it. They will solve mysteries, fight for good or evil, and explore morality to determine the definition, and value, of life itself.

This campaign is Nabil’s first time GMing a game, and is also the grand introduction of Monte Cook’s Cypher System to the group.

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