By firstname.lastname@example.org (GR Cogman)
(with many thanks to the Archangel Beth, both for the setting and for suggestions)
This scenario is set at IOU (the In Nomine version) but can be adapted to any university, mostly by removing all Superiors and named characters. I think it's more fun at IOU, though.
"There are two gates by which dreams enter the world, the Gate of Horn and the Gate of Ivory. True dreams come through the Gate of Horn, and false dreams through the Gate of Ivory.." - Greek mythology
The PCs are requested by the ArchDean to investigate a set of assaults on random students during the past night. On looking into the matter, they may come to suspect the work of Impudites. That night, the ArchDean disappears, nightmares begin to stalk the campus, and open strife breaks out between factions...
Beleth and Vapula have a temporary alliance (the best sort) and a new idea that needs testing: they've decided to do this on IOU grounds, partly because they can then disavow the whole thing as the work of Renegades if it goes wrong. Neither of them like the ArchDean, either.
The idea is this: a volunteered Habbalite ("Yes, you _are_ volunteering...") is acting as the Gate, and a Vapulaic Device, fueled by much stolen Essence (that's what the two Impudites of Vapula assisting have been stealing) provides the power to turn the Habbalite (who has been prepared via Weird Rites) into a living Gate to Beleth's side of the Marches. Nightmares can come through her, as her body becomes a living portal. Worse, as the effect strengthens, other sleeping people in the area will begin to be dragged towards Beleth's Marches, and their bodies also will become portals through which nightmares can emerge to stalk the world - while they sleep.
When the Device and the Gate go into action, the ArchDean reacts more accurately and swiftly than predicted: she goes through the dreams of one of her cats to enter the Marches, and encounters Beleth herself, who is on the scene. Both are taken by surprise, neither is willing to back down, and a fight breaks out, with Servitors of both sides snapping around their heels. Across the campus, sleepers dream of great duelling figures...
Hemah, an extremely strange Habbalite of Beleth, who has been so twisted by the rituals imposed on her to make it possible for her to act as Gate that she can scarcely function as a human. Her Vessel is new at IOU that term: she is in Monty Hall block.
Onzeeb, a highly unpleasant Djinn of Beleth (and aspirant to the Word of Madness) who is attuned to Hemah and to the Device (which is stored in her room) and is guarding both. He has the room next to Hemah in Monty Hall, and they openly admit to knowing each other if questioned. His human Vessel is new at IOU this term: he also has a spare Vessel in a Body Bag under his bed, a _large_ Dobermann.
Johann and Jonathan, two Impudites of Vapula (both with those convenient Glasses) whose duty is to gather Essence and transfer it to the Device, to power it up. They have rooms elsewhere on Campus (and in different blocks), and don't admit to knowing each other. Both portray an amiable, slightly geeky image. They came to IOU the term before, and have been building a good cover.
Night 0 : The two Impudites go out a-soul-sucking. Using Charm and Steal Essence, they manage to collect a fair amount of Essence from students out late at night, then come to Monty Hall block to transfuse it to the Device. This occurs between 11 pm and 2am. After a short check with the two Belethites, they return to their separate rooms.
Day 1 : Several students report their odd experiences to friends or RAs, once the Charm has dulled a bit, who pass them on to the ArchDean. (If you want to make it easy for the PCs, one of the assaulted people was a Soldier of God, unknown to the Impudite, who figured out what had happened afterwards and realised it had to be a sneaky Impudite.) The ArchDean looks for someone to investigate this, and settles on the PCs, either because they're on Campus Security, or because they owe her, or because they're available. Most of the rest of Campus Security is investigating this car-sized thing which left slimy tracks across the Pent at 8.59 am, and came from the Biology Lab.
"It was a car. Move along. It was only a car." ("All right, you Vapulan scum, which enzymes did you fuse this time!")
The ArchDean gives the names of students who have complained/confessed to this (perhaps a dozen in total, which ought to seriously worry PCs) and the name of the Records Administrator (an Elohite in service to her). The Records Administrator has access to ordinary student files, and also the names of Celestials currently on campus (at least, most of them) and the dates when they came on campus. (The PCs will have to present a convincing case for being given sensitive information: this is included in case they get clever and look for new Celestials in the last term.)
The victims all have a similar story to tell: they were out late for various reasons (meeting friends, coming from the theatre, doing their washing, studying at the Library late) and met a helpful guy with glasses, who was kind of cute: things got friendly, and next thing they knew they were sitting in a limp pile next to the wall and feeling chewed up and spat out. (The Impudites were draining _heavily_.) Seraphim will find the basic stories true, but the descriptions of the assailers are too vague to be very useful. Attempting to plot the sites of the assaults on a map with pins will show that they centre roughly on Monty Hall block.
Monty Hall has other Celestials living there (angelic and demonic) besides the Belethites, many of whom will not be overly happy about answering questions.
These investigations are liable to occupy most of the day. I personally hope that the PCs try playing "live bait" that night, but then I am a sadistic and twisted GM.
Night 1 : At about 10 pm, the Gate and Device go into operation. A ripple touches the Tethers on campus. The ArchDean determines that something is amiss, and on the Marches: she goes into the dreams of one of her cats (who normally host her Seneschal, a Kyriotate) and encounters Beleth there on the Marches. Beleth springs for her, in the form of a great twisted black lion, and the ArchDean draws her sword and replies. Dreams across Campus are touched by images of the warring Superiors.
"You saw a great demonic lion fighting a winged being that looked like the Dean. Either you have severe exam anxiety, or we have trouble..."
At about 11pm, a bomb thoughtfully planted by the Impudites goes off by the power plant, and blackouts begin to develop across campus, coinciding with nightmares beginning to walk the streets: sometimes intangible, sometimes tangible, always terrifying. The Impudites stalk the streets together, looking for victims to steal more Essence from for the Device. This does mean that they are hanging around Monty Hall block, and regularly returning to it and to Hemah's room.
A great many Celestials take the events as a personal attack on them, or as a symbol that the truce has broken down. Paranoia runs rampant. Some develop a get-them-first mentality.
At about 12 pm, the Gate and Device have been in operation long enough that other dreamers begin to become lesser Gates, and yet more nightmares stalk the streets...
The PCs are going to be rather short on Superior help, as the ArchDean is missing (and nobody knows where she went), her Seneschal is absent (the Kyriotate is on the Marches with her, and all the cat-hosts are asleep) and the campus is in a state of heavy paranoia and nightmare. However, they probably have more facts about who's new on campus and where the disturbances are centering than anybody else, so theirs is the dubious honour of trying to sort it out.
The Device (use imagination as to what it looks like) can probably be broken if hit hard enough, though is likely to expend any stored Essence in a dramatic explosion: this will collapse the Gate (killing Hemah) and do interesting damage to anybody in range. Hemah can also be killed: this makes the Device pause, spark a lot, _then_ explode dramatically unless somehow heroically deactivated. Onzeeb will protect Hemah and the device to the limits of his ability, and fight intelligently. There are also likely to be nightmares in the room, bleeding from the walls, confronting the PCs with their characters fears and weaknesses. Johann and Jonathan, if nearby, will also do their best to defend the Device (though they're prepared to let Hemah die, if they can get away safely with the Device).
Should PCs try going onto the Marches, the lands of dream are a battleground: the two Superiors clashing above, Servitors of theirs fighting around their feet, and the Gate itself a weirdness in the distance. They can't close it from this side, where I imagine it appears as a vaguely humanoid hole of light in the air. If they go through, they find themselves in Hemah's apartment, but getting to it is likely to be extremely hazardous.
If the PCs sort it out, the ArchDean will be extremely grateful. And as they have proved how competent they are (assuming they did) she'll find them another challenging, near-fatal job. Virtue is its own reward.
Beleth and Vapula will deny all responsibility, with regard to an unprovoked assault on IOU, claiming that it was the action of Renegades (look, look, we have documents showing we exiled them ages ago) and that Beleth merely attacked the ArchDean when she showed up unexpectedly on the Belethian Marches.
Oh, and from myself and the Archangel Beth: a set of comments (done alternately) on how various Servitors might react when the lights go off...
The Malakite of Laurence draws his sword. "Okay. It's clearly the demons on campus. I knew we should never have trusted them. You, you, and you, we're going to occupy the Clock Tower.."
The Balseraph of the War jumps to a soap box: "We always knew this 'truce' was a farce! Now it's time to strike back! To the Tower, and overthrow the tyrant!"
The Impudite of Malphas sidles up to the Cherub of David. "I heard them plotting to attack the Geological Building..."
The Habbalite of the Game takes notes on who's talking to who...
The Mercurian of Eli attempts to calm people down. "Hey, be cool! So we've got a bit of a power cut, a few thousand living hallucinations, but it's nothing we can't handle, right?"
The Shedite of Lust possesses someone. "Of course we can handle it. Some of them are cute. A little spikey, but..."
Flaming green pigeons attack, screaming, "Death to the cruel!" from many little pigeon beaks.
The Habbalite of Kobal rolls on the ground in hysterics...
The Seraph of Novalis sighs. "Hey, people, can't we cooperate? We were working together just fine before, and I'm sure that if we try to trust one another, we can solve this problem..."
The Balseraph of Malphas whispers, "Ah, but that's what they *want* us to think, now isn't it?"
The Calabite of Hardcore works the trigger on his Uzi. "All _RIGHT_! LET''S ROCK AND ROLL!!!"
While the Djinn of Drugs pops some and sits back to watch all the cool colors...
And the Lilim of Valefor steals his leather jacket while he's all blissed out...
And the Elohite of Janus thoughtfully relieves her of her wallet, and then proposes a trade...
And the Impudite of Andrealphus leans over his shoulder. "Mmmm. Leather."
And the Malakite of Jordi frowns. "An animal died to make *that*?"
And the Djinn of Saminga grunts, "Can't use human skin. Not thick enough."
And the Kyrio of Fire walks up in six canine hosts, growling...
And the Habbalite of Vapula pulls out a canister of spray. "Beta-testing time!"
And then the Malakite of Novalis taps him on the shoulder, and asked, "Is that good for the ozone layer?"
Then the Habbalite of Beleth whispers, "Worry! Worry! Worry about the ozone layer! It's going to die! Panic! Panic now!"
So the Mercurian of Jordi curled up in a corner and rocked... (Hey, they don't *always* make their Will rolls!)
And the Elohite of Laurence laid a hand on his shoulder. "Be comforted. There are graver troubles. Take up your weapons and smite the forces of darkness, in the knowledge of inner peace and truth."
And the Malakite of War rolled his eyes at all the talking and readied his battleaxe from where he'd crept up behind the Habbalite.
--Maya (comments welcome)
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