Mage – Legacy, Session #1

Last night was the beginning of a new and wonderful campaign. I’m going to try to keep a light journal for it, to help keep my thoughts straight and because memories. If anyone else stumbles across this, I hope you enjoy it.


So without further ado, the beginning of Legacy, a story set in Mage: The Ascension.

Lily, Kenneth, and Gia are all fairly successful tradition mages in 2015. Kenneth is an older Dreamspeaker, with a knack for talking to technology. Gia is a Son of Ether, focused on neurology and through that pushing at the gates of true artificial intelligence. Lily is attending a prestigious Order of Hermes academy in upstate New York and while she gets into trouble more than most students, no one can question her aptitude. But before they carried themselves with their current confidence and sense of self, there was a time after they had just Awakened where they were confused and lost. And each of them had been found by Emma Forester of Southside Chicago. A kind old Mage who spoke little of her past, Emma had a habit of taking in strays, teaching them the real truths of this world, and sending them off with a sense of purpose and clarity.

Now all of them found themselves back in Chicago, summoned by a lawyer bearing the sad news of Emma’s passing and bidding them to attend a reading of her will.

The three of them met that morning, with Gia excitedly telling Kenny how much Emma had talked about him while Gia had been trained by her. Lily was more subdued, staying just outside normal awareness. And lastly, a well-dressed teenager fixed on phone games had come in, fingers tapping away and a steady stream of pew-pews and explosions adding an aggravating ambiance to the affair.

At 10:00 Aaron Johnson opened his door and let them in, although Gia noticed that his greeting to the kid on his phone was less warm – perhaps even suspicious. With the four of them seated (and the kid’s phone almost muted – but not quite) Aaron began the reading of the will. Emma spoke directly to the three students gathered there, leaving her possessions to them, but more importantly her legacy.  She said that she had done much in her life, but these three students were the accomplishment she was most proud of. And then, at the end of a somewhat long and emotional will comes the sentence, “At to my grandson Max I leave my earthly remains.” The End.

“Cool,” says the kid over his phone.

Mr. Johnson gives them the keys to Emma’s apartment and informs the kid that the coroner will be ready to release her body at 6 tonight. Max takes off. The other three talk to the lawyer some more and learn that Emma didn’t die of natural causes. Three nights ago she was shot in her home, but Mr. Johnson doesn’t know much more beyond that. He gives them the phone number of Evelyn Thompson, the detective working the case.

The three students head over to Emma’s. On the way, Kenny asks his phone to do some snooping and it comes back having had a brief chat with some computers over at the police station. He hasn’t learned much, except that the bullets from the case are “a little weird.”

They enter Emma’s home, a place they all have their own fond memories of. Those memories are somewhat tarnished by the bloodstains on the floor and wall, already mapped out by police forensics lines. The place is in complete disarray, ransacked. Lily and Gia do a thorough investigation, something they are both amazing at. They discover two bullet holes in the wall and conclude as the police have that the assailant was standing close to Emma and was slightly taller than her. They find a large Adidas footprint in the pooled blood. Importantly, they find that as thoroughly as the place was ransacked, they can’t find anything at all missing – and Lily would know. Also, Emma’s wards against misfortune are intact – their was no randomness to this incident. Gia slips on a pair of high-tech goggles to take a closer look and finds that there are no traces of gunpowder and in the wall there isn’t even a hint of bullet fragments.

They also find a photo album that seems to be of all the wayward mages that Emma took in. They’re all in there, along with five other people.

In the meantime, Kenneth calls Detective Thompson and unnerves her with how much he knows about the case, but learns where the body is currently and the name of the coroner. Then he wakes up the wall and has a conversation with it, mostly about how it’s been shot and how much that sucks.

In the bedroom, they find one object that even Lily doesn’t recognize. It’s an old medal, a commendation for valor that Kenny identifies as a fairly specific medal linked to actions behind enemy lines along the French-German border during World War II. Kenneth awakens it and has a conversation. The medal belonged to Emma, but it wasn’t awarded to her. It was awarded to a man named Christopher who Emma served with during the war. Emma, apparently, was a doctor and later a soldier, but after Christopher died and the war ended Emma left that part of her life behind. The medal is the only reminder she kept and she kept him mostly hidden in a cubby in the wall.  The medal was also super angry, not only about Emma’s death but because that night he was manhandled by someone who was sweating profusely and as the medal put it, “Not the sweat of honest exertion. The nervous sweat of a coward.”

Lily analyzed the sweat, and learned that whoever left it was a young, Caucasian male with a bit of Adderall in his system. She took some skin cells to do a more thorough analysis later.

After taking care of some of Emma’s things, the group moved to the police station, intent on getting to Emma’s body before her grandson. Lily overpowered the desk officer’s mind with a Hermetic word of power and got him to give them guest passes and directions to the morgue. They arrived and met the coroner, who tried to show them the body and was startled and embarrassed to find it missing. He ushered them all out while he went to get the Captain, but Kenny left his phone behind to talk to the Coroner’s computer and Lily stayed as a fly on the wall, because people don’t notice her unless she wants them too. Lily learned that the Coroner left the office last night at 7:13 and that was the last time he saw Emma’s body. She also read a coroner’s report confirming what they had learned at the scene and that there were no bullet fragments in the body or defensive wounds of any kind. It also mentioned a strange pathogen in her blood that had been sent to the lab.

Kenny’s phone had a conversation with the coroner’s computer and through him met his girlfriend, the ballistics PC. Beign such a charmer, he’d gotten the ballistics PC to tell him a bit about the two bullets, which was completely unblemished and which the lab guys were completely unable to take filings from or identify.

The Captain went upstairs to review the security footage and Lily followed. At 1:07 AM, a girl in her 20’s with stylish clothes and a slick blonde ponytail showed up, at which point the Captain asked the others to leave the security room, saying that this might be related to a confidential federal investigation. He then watched as she walked into the morgue and left with Emma’s body. He made a call to someone who sounded like an intimidating type that the Captain works for. The Captain asked this person to keep better control over ‘Susie’ and then apologized and promised to clean up the mess. Lily then swiped his phone and got the number of this contact, which was listed only as ‘N.’

Having as much information as they felt they could get at this point, the three of them waited in the lobby for Max, who showed up at 6:00. They intercepted him grilled him fairly hard. Gia started off by consoling him with a head pat that allowed her to use her engineered hand to probe his thoughts, discovering that he’s a Virtual Adept with no relation to Emma whatsoever who is trying to steal her body. In the meantime, Lily stole three phones and a wallet from her pocket. He had an iPhone out and she swiped an Android, a Windows Phone, and a FirePhone. Kenneth tried to talk to the cell phones, but one freaked out and called Max, alerting him that something was up. Gia tried to keep him engaged, but the police captain showed up to tell Max that unfortunately his grandmother had been found to be the source of an infectious disease and the city was going to burn her for reasons of public safety. Max was pissed, but cops threw him out at which point our intrepid heroes insisted that they needed to talk and the whole group headed for a diner.

Moroccan Pork Shoulder Tagine with Spiced Couscous

photo (3)I’ve been cooking a bit, but haven’t posted here in a while. Things have gone well though, with me generally making dinners for the role-playing group I play Mage with on a weekly basis. This week was a Moroccan Tagine, which turned out splendidly. So flavorful! It was very delicious.

I made a few substitutions. I was feeling lazy and not up for extensive de-boning and trimming, so I replaced the short rib with pork shoulder, which I seared as whole pieces, but cubed before before putting it into the oven. Also, I don’t own a tagine, so this was all done with the wonderful cassarole dish some wonderful friends got me recently as a wedding present. The oven time was 2 hours instead of 2.5, but that was perfect with the cubed pork. Oh, and I may have used slightly more onion that this recipe calls for since I used a whole small yellow onion instead of half a large one.

Super-successful – will definitely make again.


Shrimp and Mango Curry Part 2: A Comedy of Errors

Today’s repeat attempt of the shrimp and mango curry had…let’s say hitches. Enough hitches that there’s no picture this time around, so we can all share the disappointment. When I went to the store the only thing on my mind was, “Don’t forget that potato.” I forgot that potato. Then when I tried to prepare the mango…Oryx made that look very easy – but it was not. Are mangos supposed to have unbreakable cores? I should investigate beforehand next time. My knife and I had a ~30 minute deathmatch against the mango that taught my fingers to fear death and left neither me nor my opponent in good shape. And then the shrimp. These ones were frozen rather than fresh, but the prep still went fine. Unfortunately, I had slightly more this time and I couldn’t cook them all in the pan at once. Also, while attempting to dust them with curry I instead dumped curry all over my stove. And then I tried to clean that up and the shrimp over cooked.

Laura assures me that it’s still tasty. You will never meet a sweeter person than Laura.

Shrimp and Mango Curry




So far, this is easily the best food I’ve made. It’s the first dish where I would definitely go to a restaurant to eat it and I can’t wait to make it again (which is why I’m making it again tomorrow). It’s so good.

A couple of notes though:

  1. I forgot the potato. The result was that this was amazingly delicious, but not particularly filling. I’ll fix that next time.
  2. The recipe says to cut your mango into strips, but I (or rather, Oryx) just cut it into chunks because everyone knows that chunks > strips. I wouldn’t change that.

Ethiopian Lentil Soup




Up until this point, it would be fair to say that I had never over-seasoned anything. And I was tired of making things that were a little bland. So for this dish, I tasted it frequently and kept adding the berbere mix. The end result was very good, but definitely a little on the spicy side for me and Laura. Also – importantly – I need to get better at looking at servings when I go to buy ingredients, because that recipe makes an incredible amount of stew.

Cajun Sole


Veggies recipe!

We went to the store looking for catfish and a few specific vegetables and discovered that they had basically none of it. So we got sole instead, and that turned out just really well. Definitely the best fish I’ve made. For the side we couldn’t find mirliton and so got zucchini and mushrooms instead, which worked out great.


Thai Lemongrass Shrimp

Thai soup



I made this for Laura and a couple of friends and I screwed it up pretty badly. I forgot to buy curry paste and one of the two cans of coconut milk I got was light. So very early in the process it was clear that this was on its way towards being both watery and bland. I tried to recover by letting it boil off more of the liquid and by adding an incredible amount of the lemongrass curry I was basing it on. The result was still a bit too coconutty for my tastes, but in general it turned out to be a success.


Za’atar Chicken



As mentioned in my last post, the za’atar salad was a bit too green for me. But I wanted to get a sense for the seasoning so I made myself a super-basic dish which consisted of putting za’atar on grilled chicken and adding rice and raisens. Not particularly exciting, I know, but I liked it a lot.

Chinese Five Spice Glass Noodles




This was an especially exciting dish because it gave me an excuse to buy a mortar and pestle. It was also exciting because it was tasty, although maybe slightly bland.

When I made it, I made both tofu and chicken so that various people could have it various ways and I ended up sad because the tofu didn’t turn out well. Super dry and not appetizing. I need to learn more about tofu.