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  1. What's in this issue of Cypher Chronicles? The Ninth World bears its numenera for 5e players. Gen Con Online registration is Monday. The post Cypher Chronicles, vol. 25-2020 appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  2. "A gracious offer." Enterich nodded in response, giving Marissa a short, professional smile that only barely reached his eyes before once more dropping his gaze to the files she had handed him. "And you're correct in your assessment that more is needed. Luckily, unlike the erstwhile gentlefolk from the Aeon Society or their militant friends in Branch Nine, I have just such a resource before me." He shot her another brief, professional smile as he flipped once through the organised pages, nodding now and then. "So we shall begin, then, with the primary reason for your being here. I see you have organised these in alphabetical order, so we shall progress in that way. The first, then: Cassandra Allen. Not one of those who attacked the Crossroads facility, by our camera footage. And according to Cook's notes, the 'exact nature of her ability is unquantified, with only the emanation of Aetheric energy any indication she is special at all.' End quote. So..." Enterich sat back, fixing Marissa with a direct stare. "What can you tell me about Cassandra Allen, and in particular her powers?" "If Cassie possesses abilities, I have yet to witness them." She replied honestly. "She has an uncanny knack for finding things, much to my ire, as it means she's constantly in everyone's business. She has delusions of being a reporter one day, but I think it's just Jughead syndrome and she's been watching too much Riverdale." "She has a crush on my brother. He doesn't see it, she certainly doesn't see it, which makes the whole thing sort of adorable and pathetic at the same time." She shrugged and sipped her tea. "Aside from that, Cassandra Allen is about as boring as a teenager can get. And she dresses like she has no desire to ever get a second interview in her life. Ever." "Hmm." Enterich nodded slowly, weighing Marissa's words - and the manner of their delivery - with an admirable poker face. Marissa could tell, however, that he found the lack of hard data to be somewhat irritating. "Very well. Moving on, then. Cade Allister. Sheriff's son, athlete, large and physically capable, as was witnessed when he beat a member of Crossroads well-trained security personnel into unconsciousness. Another anomaly - Aetheric energy present, no apparent paranormal abilities. Your impressions?" "We're sort of dating right now, I guess." She shrugged, looking off into space for the briefest of moments to ponder her next words. "He's a good kisser, which sort of shocked me. He always buys his t-shirts one size too small, which look positively fantastic on him." "Aaaand," she added as Enterich gave her a look that told her he didn't care one whit about all of that. "Think about it. He's sixteen. Sixteen. Yet somehow he's managed to acquire survival training, knows his way, comfortably around any and every firearm. Is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, knows his way around knives, clubs, bats, you name it. It's like he is a modern day Spartan, born and bred for one purpose: war. He says his dad taught him everything, but I don't buy it." "This isn't exactly a science, Mr. Enterich." She crossed one leg over the other and got more comfortable. "This isn't a comic book where these guys are exploding into fire or tipping over cars with super strength. Whatever they have is new, and it's in its infancy within them. For all I know, my Cadums has laser vision, but I can't relay that to you until I see him do it.” "Indeed." Enterich agreed. "You make an excellent point there - this is all new. Crossroads has been studying human enhancement for a long time: drugs, implants, and so on. And now suddenly and seemingly at random a group of teenagers who were not part of our experiment have exhibited abilities, often beyond the capacity of those teenagers who were part of the experiment." He 'tsked', indicating the vexation this caused, then shrugged. "Ah well. On to the next subject. Bannon, Jason. Psychokinetic - some apparent ability to create fire or ice through thermal excitation or subtraction, including but probably not limited to freezing the air solid in walls of ice. And, of course, telekinesis, which he seems strong enough with to toss a grown man around." Enterich mused as he skimmed down the prepared information. "Cook's notes suggest some manner of antisocial behaviour disorder, possibly sociopathy, as well as his impression of Bannon being smarter than his grade average would suggest." Enterich once more fixed Marissa with his dark brown eyes. "Your observations and opinions? In particular, anything usable for leverage." "Guess we know who the favorite is," she rolled her eyes. "Leverage on Jason Bannon? Mr. Enterich, I'm going to warn you once, and only once: you go after Bannon like you went after me, and he will not stop murdering your family, the families of your co-workers, the people you work for, those who work for them and anyone else he suspects posses a threat to him, or you kill him." She shrugged. "Only once. You screw it up, and all you will get from me is an 'I told you so'." "Jason is a lunatic. He's not a sociopath, Mr. Enterich, he is a psychopath, his words. Devoid of emotion and fear of consequences for any of his actions. He gets off on tormenting people with threats of violence such as informing Dr. Cook he'd rip his heart and show it to him before he died and raising a hay hook to the throat of a boy who goes to our school because he made some lewd comments to another student." She shifted and sipped her tea again. "He's unstable and revels in hurting other people, especially with his abilities. The boy Liam, that was him. As I went to the Sheriff to protect Liam from Jason's wrath, he intentionally maneuvered around me and raced there first for the sole purpose of breaking that guy like he did." "My advice is to leave Jason alone," her eyes met Enterich's. "You won't survive it, and neither will we. He's a shark just looking for blood in the water." "He sounds like too much of a loose cannon to just be 'left alone'." Enterich frowned as he mused aloud, tapping his fingers on the desk. "Sooner or later, his interests and ours will intersect, especially since he seems to be at least shallowly loyal to the group." The older man made a face indicating disappointment and sighed. "A pity." He took a sip of tea, his gaze distant for a moment as he reflected, then shrugged. "Ah well, one cannot make an omelette, and so on. Let us move on, shall we? Cassidy, Sean. Highly intelligent, computer genius, quite likely the fellow who hacked Crossroads system and paralysed their communications, which suggests some manner of paranormal 'machine telepathy' or whatever one terms it. We have a lot of information on him already due to his being Cook's patient, but naturally I'm interested in your observations, Ms Jauntsen." "I honestly don't know Sean that well at all. Of all the members of the little rag-tag group, I've shared maybe one or two hellos with him over the last few months." She nodded in agreement with Enterich's appraisal. "He is a hacker and his powers do have something to do with machines. Again, I've never seen him use these machine abilities before. It was him that hacked your system, but I highly doubt it was any sort of powers that he used. He's a scamp, but he's good at what he does." "Sean has his... condition, I'm sure you know and frankly he's just weird. Like creepy weird. His sister dresses him up in girl clothes, which he is totally on board with, but then cries and bemoans his fate when someone calls him on being a dude with breasts." She shrugged. "It's like, seriously, kid? Own it or don't. You can't sit there and have it both it ways... do you want the sympathy or do you want to be proud and in love with who you are. Make up your mind." She waved her hand about Sean to dismiss him as a thought. "Anyway, Cassidy is just incredibly weird, that's all." "Noted." Enterich raised an eyebrow at Marissa's frank assessment, nodding slightly. "Cole, Charles would normally be next, but I have other sources for him and besides, I am most curious about the one I know least about. The redheaded girl who was part of the facility raid, apparently no powers, and all I've been able to find out is her name. So, tell me what you know about Autumn Keane, if you please?" "I know as much as you do," Marissa said honestly. "I know she is a nature girl. Likes the outdoors, hunting, camping, rolling around in sleeping bag with other unwashed beasts like herself, but that's all I know. I am certain Autumn has some sort of abilities, after all, she's a crush stealing ginger who has no sense of personal hygiene or, worse, knowledge of styling products." She shook her head and shrugged. "Superpowers are the only explanation for how she could get anyone to like her at all, let alone actually have friends. Thankfully, for you I have promoted her to my 'bestie' and we've already started the arduous process of hair straitening and the wonders of lip gloss. Whatever she's hiding in all that excessive body hair and patchouli musk, I'll find out. Eventually." "My word." Enterich seemed amused by the quiet vitriol of Marissa's description of her 'bestie'. "Now that is an unusual set of observations, Miss Jauntsen. I sense a little rancor there on your part. 'Crush-stealing'? I was under the impression you were dating Cade Allister." "Well," she set down her tea and placed her arms on the table, interlocking her fingers. "I've always had a thing for bad boys, and I developed a bit of a crush for Jason, this was before he showed his true colors as a shaggy murder hobo. Once that came to light I let him go. Now, everyone knew I had a thing for him, and just because I cut him loose doesn't mean he's simply available for any other tart to just help herself to, I mean, what if I wanted him back? He may be crazy, but Jason has a very nice penis." She separated her hands, holding up her fingers as they drew further and further apart. Without so much as a flush to her cheeks she pressed on. "You understand, I'm sure. Anyways, it gets to my ears that Jason has a thing for little red, probably peeping on her while she was playing in the mud and trying to discover the secrets of fire in a dank cave somewhere. Autumn likes someone else, but she won't tell me who. I'm pretty sure it's my brother, but that doesn't excuse the fact that Jason should never have been interested in her to begin with so I aim to find out how. I'm guessing super powers or she's just easy. Guys can sense a slut, I've heard." When confronted with Marissa's 'logic', all Enterich could do was blink and use every bit of his impressive self-control not to give away his true feelings. Even so, a slight tic above his left eye indicated that there was some manner of internal struggle going on. Evidently, he was not used to dealing with teenaged girls - least of all ones that were as much an apparent study in contradictions as Marissa. "I see." he managed, once the tic had faded. He cleared his throat, then went on "Well, if you do learn anything more about Keane... or indeed any of your associates, I will of course offer you a substantial bonus in addition to the payment I am giving you today. One hundred thousand dollars, in a manner of your choosing." He steepled his fingers, looking at her over them. "How do you wish the money to be paid?" "Cash." She said with wide, darkened lips. The only form of money that he couldn't deactivate once this entire farce went up in smoke. Unlike the movies, a hundred grand barely filled a briefcase, let alone her designer handbag. "Harder to spend online, but thankfully I'm rich and people don't think to much of me waving around a few yards around here. Most importantly, I have college to prepare for." "If I find out anything worth mentioning I'll certainly let you know." She steepled her fingers again and was back to being all business. "Again, this isn't a science. I need to maneuver the Fellowship as well as the Society, who have now taken as much of an interest in them as you have. I believe, since I have no powers, I may be able to glean more information by offering myself as an aide in the research, given my proximity to all of them and my brother being a part of their little party. What do you know of the Aeon Society and this Branch Nine? The more information I have, the more easily I can subvert them. I'm flying blind amongst all of you intrigue types. Forewarned and all that..." She waved her hand in a circle. “Of course.” Enterich smiled slightly. “Branch Nine are possibly the more directly dangerous, as they are a professional intelligence arm of the United States Government. Their purpose is to guard the nation against paranormal threats, and they were initially formed to counter various Axis attempts to affect the outcome of World War Two using various means not found in history books. They continued this work during the Cold War, and so on up to the modern day." He paused, sipping his tea, then went on. "They are not a large agency, but they are plugged in to Homeland Security, the NSA, CIA and the FBI, along with other federal services, and can draw on military support when direct action is needed." "Aeon, on the other hand, are not particularly dangerous in a direct sense. They were formed in the mid-to-late 19th century, a gentleman's club of explorers and students of mysterious happenings. They believe that their purpose is to benefit all mankind, either by disseminating knowledge through channels so that it can be used, or by containing dangerous knowledge until it can be made safe, then employed for their oh-so-egalitarian aims." The scorn in Enterich's voice was palpable. "Well-meaning fools, but far from stupid or unperceptive, and their Library of Shadows is supposed to be one of the greatest repositories on lore of the Hidden World in existence. Sadly, it is inaccessible to all but inner council members. I do not even know where it is located." Marissa shook her head, trying to make heads or tails of the whole thing. "So, Aeon is all 'on our side' by keeping secrets and sweeping the supernatural or gifted people under the rug? So, if the Fellowship is working with them, how will they handle it? Use them until they can lock them away for the rest of their lives?" Her hands were expressive, gesturing her concerns as she made her inquiries. "I mean, honestly, how do you just tell people they can't be who they are, powered or not. They can't honestly expect them to hide under a rock their whole lives. How do they make them behave?" "How indeed..?" Enterich mused, almost to himself. "As for gifted people... There have never been any, Miss Jauntsen. At least, never on the scale of your friends. A few 'psychics', people with unusual hunches or knacks... but never a verified pyrokinetic or teleporter. Branch Nine are the more likely ones to attempt containment or elimination, if recruitment is not feasible. Aeon? I have no idea how they would respond. Recruitment would be attempted, almost certainly. But if that were not successful? They would likely offer support to such people and attempt to steer them away from being threats to the common good. They are very rich, and very influential." “Well, thankfully, there still isn't," she smiled that boardroom smile of her as the idea of a verified pyrokinetic or teleporter. "I trust none of you types. Full disclosure, I'm sure Aeon is just lying to us, and you just want them vivisected on a gurney in a dank basement lab somewhere." She smiled and raised a finger to punctuate her next point. "However, Aeon hasn't threatened the death of my family. However, however... they also haven't paid me. So, as I said, anything else and I'll let you know." She paused and her demeanor went straight from sixteen to thirty six, complete with an expressionless cold stare in her eyes. "Is today's business concluded?" Enterich met her gaze, smiling faintly, then nodded. "I believe so. Marshall?" he raised his voice at that last word, calling out. The door opened and the handsome and non-bitchy corrupted federal agent stood there with a small duffel bag in hand. Enterich smiled at Marissa. "Give Miss Jauntsen the bag and show her out, if you please. Then come back with Dale. I wish to speak to you both." "This way, miss." Marshal Marshall gestured to Marissa, smiling politely. The teen vixen stood, nodding once to Enterich, then sashayed from the room, smiling at Marshall as he handed her the bag, then leaning close. "You know, you've still not called me, Marshall." she said in a low, intimate voice. "A girl's feelings could get hurt." Faced with the double whammy of Marissa's dark eyes and the scent of her hair as she leaned in, Marshal Marshall nervously moistened his lips and smiled again, a trifle more brittley. "Been busy. You know how it is." he muttered, leading her towards the front door to the office building and opening it for her. Marissa touched his arm just above the wrist, looking up at him with a pout that could melt the heart of a statue. "Too busy for me?" she asked with just enough little-girl catch in her voice to remind the older man of her age, even as her eyes sparkled wickedly. Marissa did so love her little game with the marshal. "Marshall." Dale said waspishly from the nearby desk where she glowered at a screen. "Stop playing. The boss wants us." "Gotta go." Marshall said, sounding almost relieved. "Until next time then." Marissa's pout was weapons-grade, and she made sure to put an extra roll to her hips as she walked away, feeling his eyes on her all the way out to the parking lot.
  3. Sunday Morning Her brother had already left, off to the reservation with Cassandra, the Psychopath, and the Crush-Stealing Freckle-Faced Harlot-Bestie who so help me God better not have done anything more than made smores with Jas- Marissa took a deep breath, looked at herself in the mirror, and let it out. Game face. She smiled, a polite, cold smile. She was the Queen, she was in control, and she was about to go and meet with Enterich, full of fun facts and observations about her fri- the Fellowship. Most of which he would already know from Cook's files, plus some personal tidbits from Yours Truly to sell the lie. This was going to work out. She wasn't going to be murdered by Enterich's goons and dumped in a ditch, or worse, ostracized as a traitor by the nerd herd and then murdered by Jason and used as a novelty hatstand. She wasn't exactly sure how he'd react to being sold out to shadowy evil dudes, but given how he'd wanted to roast Etienne in his own juices, Marissa wasn't rating her chances. Unless she controlled the situation, made sure the others found out in a way and at a time of her choosing. Or better yet, never found out. Ugh. Sunday mornings were quiet in the Jauntsen house. Dad and Mom were each sleeping off their respective vices - booze for Dad, booze and pills for Mom. No-one was there as Mari headed through the kitchen, grabbed her keys, and left. The black Mercedes purred into life and the elegant beauty behind the wheel took a deep breath of the air-conditioned interior, blew it out, then put the car in gear. She'd gone maybe five miles when the unmarked sedan swung out into the road behind her, and a glance in the rear-view mirror showed Marshal Marshall behind the wheel, giving her a perfunctory wave of greeting and a flash of his lights. She blew him a kiss in the rear-view mirror, smirking to herself as he backed off from her bumper a little. She made the handsome corrupt Federal agent nervous when she flirted with him, that much was apparent. Which was reasonable enough - whilst she wasn't jailbait, in Montana at least, an affair with a Junior would likely end or at least stall his career in the Marshal Service. A sobering thought occurred then. Maybe he was maintaining aloof distance so it would be easier to put a bullet in her when Enterich snapped his fingers... The same disused office, the other marshal - Whatshername - just inside the door, who nodded to Marissa and held out a hand, palm up. "Your phone. Enterich is waiting in the back." she said. "You can have it back when you go." "That won't be necessary, Dale." Enterich's smooth voice interjected as Marissa eyed the older woman's hand. "I'm certain Ms Jauntsen can be extended a little trust." Looking over as Marshal Dale stepped back like a dog told to 'heel', Mari saw him step from the rear office, dressed much the same as last time, only absent a tie and with the top button of his shirt undone. His sable eyes crinkled at the edges as he smiled at her. "Can't you, Ms Jauntsen?"
  4. Charlie Laying on the bed, grinning up at the ceiling as he heard the shower start, Charlie was feeling pretty good about life. Sure, the problems he'd pondered earlier were still at his doorstep - in a week or so he'd be leaving Shelly, his friends and their struggles, and his girlfriend behind for what seemed like too long a time. But it was hard to be morose with that many endorphins and post-sex feel-good hormones rushing around his body. Sophia had definitely achieved her goal of being memorable, that was for certain. For a moment, he reconsidered his acceptance of the theater camp placement. Sure, it was only a few weeks. But then, it was a few weeks without Sophia. Sighing, he sat up and swung his legs over so his feet touched the floor. At least it was after Homecoming. At least he'd be able to help fight the Dark with his friends, rather than leave it roaming free in Shelly where it might even conceivably hurt Sophia. He remembered what he'd said to her, in the conference room under the Marias Medical Center when she'd asked what the Dark was. "Evil force of evil." Charlie had whispered to her. "But I'll never let it hurt you." It was important, that promise. It had seemed casual when he'd uttered it, a bit of bravado to allay her fears (and his own). But he found, reflecting on that moment, that he meant it, powers or no. Standing, he stretched, then turned and frowned at the state of the sheets and blankets before quickly stripping the bed. After all, they were both getting showers, so clean sheets was probably a good thing too, right? Dumping the sheets in the hamper, he quickly re-made the bed with fresh ones then, hearing the shower still running, decided to go and get them both a drink. Humming, he pulled on a pair of shorts and headed downstairs. The lights were turned down in the lounge, the flickering of the TV screen still casting shadow-puppets on the walls. They'd moved their shenanigans from the couch to upstairs without bothering with niceties like thumbing the remote. Grinning at that, Charlie picked up the remote and flicked the TV off, leaving the lounge quieter and darker, the shadow of a tree cast across one wall by light from the street. Barefoot, he ambled into the kitchen and opened up the fridge, rummaging around for some suitable refreshment and finding a couple of bottled wine coolers near the back. He stared at them for a moment, doubt nagging at his mind. His mom wasn't likely to raise hell over the wine coolers, but it would lead to questions, which would lead to awkward conversation... He shrugged, grabbing the bottles. The hell with it. But the nagging doubt persisted, causing him to frown as he opened the bottles and poured them into a pair of glasses. Something was off. Something was- He paused as he set a bottle down, staring blankly at the doorway to the lounge. Then it occurred to him with a chilling realisation: The shadow. On the wall. There was no tree in the yard to cast a shadow from the streetlights. Fuck, he thought as he moved to the lounge doorway and peered inside. The light from outside shone on the wall unblemished, no shadow cast across it. Had he imagined it? A prickling on the back of his neck said that no, he hadn't. Lately, Charlie had learned to trust that cold prickle. He'd felt it looking into Jason's eyes. He'd felt it more strongly meeting the mysterious Mr Enterich. And right now, he felt it most strongly of all, accompanied by a slick, oily cold slithering sensation that crawled his flesh. He knew what that meant. Cold prickles were one thing, gut feelings. But this was something else. This was the presence of the Dark. He turned, his first thought to get upstairs, to get to Sophia, his mind filled with fears of her being vulnerable and alone, easy prey. And ran into a solid figure that had, unheard, slipped behind him in the gloom of the downstairs hallway. In his instinctive concern, he hadn't recalled what they had learned as a group. The Dark didn't really care about regular folks. It needed the deaths of those with a little extra. Those with Shine. Not-Cody grinned down at him, a skeletal noseless mockery of a human face, crowned with spreading antlers, his mouth a red sideways gash lined with scalpel-like teeth. Charlie felt a bony hand grip his shoulder, the points of claws digging into his flesh, smelled the rotten charnel reek of Cody's breath as the monster's other hand moved from here to there. Staring, in shock, Charlie dimly registered a pulling across his abdomen, a warmth that flashed into hot pain, cold around the edges, and some part of his panicked mind registered that he had just been opened up like one of Cade's landed trout. A stink filled the air. That's me, he dimly thought. That's my insides. That jolted another realisation. I'm dying. Setting his teeth against the pain, he started to shapeshift, chitinous armor plate beginning to form as his hands shifted to ferocious clawed appendages. Cody / The Horned Man laughed, a glottal sound of sick amusement, and his long arm with a hand tipped with claws flashed once more across Charlie's field of vision. The teen felt his blood gout, hot vital fluid drenching his bare chest as his throat was opened from ear to ear. Choking, he lost his concentration, shapeshift forgotten as he dropped to his knees, drowning as his lungs filled. Cody squatted on his haunches, grinning his awful shark grin. "I'll never let it hurt you." he said in a deep, hoarse voice that, despite it's inhumanity, nevertheless conveyed mockery. "Oh, but I will hurt her, boy. She will satisfy my many hungers until there is nothing left." Red-rimmed eyes flared hellishly as a clawed finger swiped through Charlie's pooling blood and came up to the beast's mouth, a long tongue cleaning the talon. "Picture it as you die. Hear her screams. Know despair!" Charlie opened his mouth, shut it again, gaping like a fish in air. He couldn't speak... but perhaps he didn't need to. The thing had quoted his own words at him. Perhaps it was reading his mind. His vision darkened, contracting around the red eyes glowering at him from a face no longer human, and Charlie put all the effort he could into one final thought. My friends... are gonna fuck you up. They'll beat your ass till you scream and fry you in your own skin. He cast the thought at the creature with every ounce of defiance and dark amusement he could muster, and was rewarded with a hiss of anger and, dare he say, fear. You'll lose. Charlie added with a sense of fatalistic triumph. So you despair, fucker. Hissing louder, almost a shriek of rage, the creature half-rose and struck out. Charlie, his vision dimmed, saw the taloned hand sweep towards his- The creature that had been Cody Sikes stood, breathing deeply as it looked down at the body at his feet. The defiance had not tasted good, and it was with a growl that he brought the still-warm heart to his maw and devoured it in several bites. The warmth of the boy's Radiance was delicious, a tingling sensation that spread through Cody's limbs and brought a low moan of pleasure from his throat. Somewhere, he knew the Tree was likewise pleased, the conduit between them transferring the Radiance to it, nourishing it. "Charlie?" The girl's voice from upstairs, laced with mischief. "I need some help washing my back." A giggle, then the sound of the bathroom door shutting. Cody looked up the stairs, a grin that was equal parts snarl crossing his deformed features. Turning from the now-useless husk at his feet, he moved to the foot of the stairs and started up them. The night's hunt had been productive, but after all, he had many hungers.
  5. Base Onyx Path logo Onyx Path Publishing are pleased to announce we have hired an independent HR consultant to handle any issues relating to personnel or workplace grievances or queries. Georgina has a history of working extensively in HR, people management, and training in the financial sector, and has no connection to the gaming industry. We feel this is pertinent, as we wanted to hire someone without bias toward games or the creatives who work on them. For the same reason, while Georgina will be the recipient of complaints, issues, and queries sent to her inbox, she will not be attending our regular meetings, conventions, or otherwise socializing with the people at Onyx Path, to maintain a clear distinction between her role and ours. We invite you, if you have any concerns about the people who work at Onyx Path, or have experienced historic incidents that need to be brought to our attention and handled, to email Georgina at hr.onyxpath@gmail.com, where your enquiry will not be missed or sent on to anyone named in said communication. Georgina is based in Europe and will typically be working a five day week, so please allow for time differences and a possible delay in responses to emails sent her way over the weekend. Georgina’s email has been added to our updated Contact page, which is linked in the website footer.
  6. Now available from our RedBubble store! Dystopia Rising: Evolution: A New Age (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Your Brothers and Sisters (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Knitting the Flesh (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Rolling the Bones (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Acts of Violence (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Wild, Wild Wastes (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Birds of a Feather (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: What You Believe (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Brain Bleed (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Campfire Stories (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Threats of the Wastes (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: The Wasteland (shirts) Dystopia Rising: Let the Dead Lie (shirts) Kickstarter Update The Legendlore Kickstarter has just 24 hours remaining! We’re currently sitting at $22,452, or 150% of our $15,000 goal, thanks to our 489 backers! We funded during the beginning of Onyx Path Virtual Con, and we’re heading toward some amazing stretch goals. Read the full Legendlore Manuscript for free, and if you like what you see, give us a pledge? We’ve hit our first stretch goal and our on our way to a second: Legendlore GM Reference Screen Did you miss one of our previous Kickstarters? The following Kickstarted products are still open for preorders via BackerKit: Scarred Lands: Creature Collection 5e Trinity Continuum: Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Realms of Pugmire: Pirates of Pugmire Vampire: The Masquerade: Cults of the Blood Gods Mage: The Ascension: Technocracy Reloaded Exalted: Lunars: Fangs at the Gate Chronicles of Darkness: Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2 Chronicles of Darkness: The Contagion Chronicle Chronicles of Darkness: Deviant: The Renegades Chronicles of Darkness: Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition Chronicles of Darkness: Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition Community Spotlight The following community-created content for Scarred Lands has been added to the Slarecian Vault in the last week: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Realms of Pugmire has been added to Canis Minor in the last week: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Storypath has been added to the Storypath Nexus in the last week: Scion: Pride 2020 Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell?
  7. In the past couple of days, statements have been issued on social media describing incidents of unacceptable behavior that are connected to Onyx Path Publishing. Before going into detail, and what we are going to do about them, we want to start with this simple idea that is at the forefront of our thoughts and feelings: Women have a right to be safe and secure, and to have full participation in the cultures and communities that they create and work in. First, yesterday a statement was made concerning Matt McElroy, Operations Manager here at Onyx Path, that includes episodes of harassment and grooming. We are taking this statement extremely seriously and have instituted the following changes as we look further into the situation: Matt McElroy has been suspended from his duties and role at Onyx Path Publishing as we review the information we are receiving. We have also informed Matt McElroy that starting as soon as possible, he must attend sensitivity training with the intention of reviewing and modifying his behavior. In addition, because the person who issued the statement attempted to reach out to Onyx Path months ago but their message did not reach myself or our internal developers as a group, which is a failure we apologize for, we have immediately begun interviewing external professional HR specialists to serve as point-of-contact for our company so that internal process errors can no longer be an excuse for not hearing anyone’s concerns. This HR professional will not be or have been involved in the gaming business, or connected previously to Onyx Path. As we proceed to follow through on the implementation of these steps, we will update our community on the progress, and will make the contact info of our HR specialist readily viewable on our website. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through this situation. Second, statements concerning the behavior of Shane DeFreest, the model for the Lasombra art in the V20 core rulebook and V20 Lore of the Clans, have been brought forward to us. Due to the nature of these statements and specifically the possible negative effect of viewing that art, we have decided to remove those pieces from all of the V20 Lore of the Clans and V20 Lasombra projects and products going forward that are being sold by Onyx Path. When we created the V20 Lore of the Clans supplement we used the Clan images from the V20 core rulebook that was published by White Wolf before Onyx Path was formed in order to maintain continuity within the game line. Shane DeFreest has never been an employee, nor freelancer for Onyx Path Publishing, and never will be. Currently we have deactivated from sale V20 Lore of the Clans and related accessories where that artwork appears. We are in the process of replacing that artwork and expect to be able to reactivate those products in the very near future. Again, thank you for your patience as we clarified this situation.
  8. Taking a deep breath - or six - Cassandra looked around, nose wrinkling slightly as she considered her options. The thought of sitting on the floor made her flesh crawl and yet she didn't want to risk spazzing out, falling over and cracking her head. Not at the best of times, and certainly not here. With a grimace of distaste, she lowered herself to sit cross-legged, facing the ominous mural on one wall of the cellar, and tried to unfocus her regular senses, throwing light on the hazy grey clouds of her... what did Jason and Sean call it? Sub-quantum awareness? A layer of reality where time and distance did not matter - at least to the degree they normally did. Devin could connect points in space, Sean could pull encoded electronic information from the air, and she - in theory - could know... Everything? Or at least, anything she needed to and pointed her awareness at. In part to distract herself from the thought of the little animal bodies hanging from the ceiling and the looming horror of what she might discover, Cass mused what it would be like to truly know everything, all the time, past, present and future. Like the world's most pervasive surveillance system. Sometimes that seemed cool, and other times seemed... too much. Like when she'd first awakened to her power and sensed the vast gulf looming and waiting to swallow her whole. The slick, oily miasma she was semi-familiar with hung over this place, so strong and thick that it was almost choking, a tarry smog that laid over everything, spilling out into the world from that wall. She was right - that was a doorway, the wound that Mr Black had described. The stones and air resonated with a sickness so strong it felt evil, a spiritual pestilence that swirled around her and Autumn, kept at bay by the light that spilled from them. A flash of insight - a normal person would gradually be infected by this sickness, becoming twisted in mind and body. The effect would be strongest here, but then would spread out into the town, subtle radiation, a silent twister of minds. This, then, was the source of all Shelly's tragic, bloody history. It was hard, to force herself to focus through the psychic smog. The aura of this place was innately antithetical to Shine. As Autumn collected herself, wiping tears from reddened eyes and moving to keep an eye and ear on the basement stairs, Cassie tried several times before finally feeling the bonds of her physical form on her spirit loosen and then... ...she was still in the the cellar, not long ago in the scheme of things. There were less dead animals here, but the large black sooty image on the wall still leered out at the world. The gloom of the basement was as oppressive as ever, though. Cassie waited, trusting the vision to show her what she needed to- There. From the steps leading up, the sounds of someone - or something - coming. A weird shuffling step, accompanied by muttering and a kind of muffled sobbing sound. Dread rose in Cassandra's soul, telling her to close her 'third eye', to not see... but stronger than her fear was the need to bear witness. Something terrible was about to happen - from her perspective had already happened - and she needed to know. She was the Eyes, she told herself sternly. Her job was to See. Two figures, one large and one small, emerged from the stairwell. A man who lurched and shuffled like a zombie, carrying in his arms a struggling - ohgod - a child. The man was wide-eyed, twitching like a meth-head, his gaze darting around the gloom of the cellar fearfully. With a sudden shock of recognition, Cassie realised this was the same man who had accosted her and Devin in the woods on the night of the party before being swallowed up by the weird fanged starfish thing. The Air Force dude. Captain Cooper, dressed in civilian clothing. The child in his arms was maybe seven or eight years old, squirming and crying, tied hand and foot with their voice muffled by a gag over their mouth. Cooper brought his captive to the center of the basement room, looking around and then tossing the child he carried down before the mural. "Stay there. You stay." he hissed, pointing at the kid, a small boy. "I'm so close now. So close. He promised me this would work, and that I would see." The child - a small boy - sobbed in blind fear as Cooper started to whisper something, over and over. Something that sounded Gaelic to Cassandra's ears, with harsh throat noises and the occasional growling syllable. The whispers filled the room, rebounding from the walls as Cooper chanted whatever it was repeatedly for what seemed like half an hour, before falling silent. Nothing happened. Cooper sighed, a deep exhalation of mingled relief and disappointment. "He lied. Enterich lied." he muttered, scratching at his left arm with his right hand. "I knew he was lying. I knew it wasn't real. Now I can get that psych eval and tell-" And then Hell broke loose. There was a thin screeching at first, a whistling moan as of wind through wire fencing. The bricks of the wall under the mural seemed to dance, to waver, to shift and then simply dissipated as though never there. Captain Cooper - and Cassandra - stared through at what was beyond. At least one of them had seen the sight before, however. A plain of bones. Pools of stagnant, half-clotted blood. An empty throne surmounted with an antlered human-shaped skull. The Tree. Pulsing with terrible, perverse life, it spread it's foul roots and branches over the now-kneeling Captain Cooper. Whispers filled the air, urging the Captain to step through. To sit down on the throne. To claim his reward. Cassie could see a sudden awful realisation strike the man as he saw what he had conjured, could see him shake his head and draw back from this final stage. "No! No. This is wrong." he muttered, tottering to his feet. "No. This is fucked up. I thought it was just a scam. A hazing. An initiation. Not real. Not real!" This last was screeched and Cooper stepped forward, bending down and grabbing at the child, plainly intending to pull them away and flee. Anger pulsed from the consciousness beyond the Door even as dark, sickly tendrils crept through, coiling around the bound child on the floor. The boy screamed. Cooper screamed. The foul-smelling charnel-house stink from beyond the door washed over them both. Cooper tugged frantically, his hands around the boy's ankles, heaving with all his might as more thick, fibrous pseudopods wrapped around legs, arms, and neck. "Let the fuck go!" Cooper howled, his beset mind suddenly latching onto a desperate idea. "I withdraw my offering. I withdraw my offering!" A sudden withering emanation of rage from the skull was accompanied by sepulchral laughter. The offering had been made, and could not be withdrawn. The tendrils around the small body tightened their grasp, and Cooper's eyes lost the last of their flame of sanity at what he saw as an abysmal wet, crackling, tearing sound filled the air... ...and the Door closed as Cooper fell back, unprepared for the sudden lack of resistance in his tug of war. The cellar was dark again, no longer lit by the rotten bloody radiance from beyond. The figure on the wall leered down at him as he stared blankly at the single, solitary sneaker in his hand, blood staining its lining. And he screamed and screamed and screamed...
  9. Team Pluck The basement door was ajar, a fact that gave both fearless, plucky explorers pause, during which they glanced at one another as if to remind themselves that yes, they had company and yes, they were indeed as plucky as they had initially believed. Both gripped their flashlights tightly, and Autumn's grip on the prybar was white-knuckled as she reached out and gently prodded the door further open, ready to thwack anything that popped out of the gloom at them. The door swung open in relative silence, only a whispering groan from the hinges betraying that it had been moved, and both girls tensed for a long moment. Cassie stepped forward then, playing her flashlight down the stairs, half-expecting to see some skeletal, clawed version of Cody come lunging up at her with the light shining red in his feral eyes... But nothing was there. Just bare stone steps and the floor at the base of them. She glanced back at Autumn with a smile she didn't feel. "Imagine if Devin suddenly popped out of nowhere right now." she said with a smirk. "I think I'd shriek loud enough to break glass." "Don't even joke." Autumn felt the faintest of urges to giggle, nervous tension warring with the grimness of the place. She waggled the prybar. "He can be an asshat, but I don't actually want to brain him with this thing." "Yeah." Cassie looked back down the stone steps and took a deep breath. "Okay. Let's do this." "Let me go first. " Autumn firmly suggested as she stepped up. "Anyone or thing grabs me, I've got this plus my Shine to fight with." For a moment Cassie wanted to argue, but reluctantly conceded the point and nodded, then nodded again as Autumn handed her the pepper spray. Thus armed, the two of them started down a few paces apart... Meanwhile He stood in the shadows and watched the two of them together, eyes burning with conflicting hungers as the conjoined minds of Cody Sikes and the Horned Man took in the sight of Charlie and Sophia coupling on the TV room couch. Cody was barely aware he was Cody anymore. Every day, it seemed, he was less Cody and more Araun, something that he realised dimly in some parts of his mind that were still his own was not what he had bargained for when he had struck this deal. Araun had promised him accolades, and girls, and revenge on those who thought themselves better than him, and most of all he had been promised power. Power to achieve his dreams. First Homecoming King, then star player for the team, then college on a scholarship ride... But he didn't dream of those things anymore, did he? Now when he tried to think of what he wanted, he saw blood flowing black in the moonlight, he heard screams and felt soft flesh rending under his claws. He dreamed of chasing girls as prey, girls he'd once dreamed of fucking, only now sex wasn't the only thing he wanted from them. He wondered if that was why he'd wanted so badly to hurt Coraline, with her long legs and pretty smile. Had he always been Araun's creature? No, the thought came back to him. No, he was his own person when he'd had those urges. All Araun did was strip away the pretentious morality that told him such things were bad. The strong did as they pleased, the weak suffered what they must. Once, Cody had been weak and afraid. Now, he wasn't afraid of anything, was he? No, Cody decided as he listened to Sophia's gasping cries and Charlie's soft climactic grunts, watching the sweat bead on their skins as they screwed like rabbits. He wasn't afraid of anything anymore. It was time for them to be afraid. And then, to be dead. Team Pluck The cellar was much as Cassandra's vision had described it. A large, gloomy, dank space, unfurnished but for an old oil furnace at one end, long gone to rust. Well, almost unfurnished. As Cassie had hinted, there were dead animals hanging from the low ceiling, strung up with nails and wire or twine. Cats... possums... small dogs... all killed and then strung up like gross, perverse hunting trophies. The smell of old death and decay was noticeable here, but not quite overpowering. "Shit." Autumn muttered. "Oh, shit." "Yeah." Cassie replied, her mood somber as she played her torch over the walls and floor. Scrawled in black charcoal or some similar substance on one wall, just as her vision had shown, was a weird cave-painting stick figure of the large man with antlers branching from his skull. The floor bore scuffs, footprints in the dust and, most disturbingly, bloody drag-marks as though something had been dragged across the floor. Perhaps most eerily, the drag marks disappeared at the wall with the antlered man drawn on it, with no sign that of going anywhere else. "Look." Autumn said in a low voice. Cassie followed the beam of her flashlight and saw a small shoe. A child's sneaker, laying in one corner, a patina of dust on the fluorescent strips on it's sides.
  10. Meanwhile "How long is it for?" Sophia asked plaintively, with an understandable pout of her lower lip. After all, she had just gotten Charlie to be her boyfriend, and now he was going away. "Eight weeks." Charlie replied, his own feelings mixed on the matter. On the one hand, the exclusive theater and performing arts workshop camp that his father had sprung on him was a massive stepping stone for someone who wanted to make a career on the stage. It would look brilliant on his resume when time came to pick the right stage school post-graduation. On the other hand, he was leaving his girlfriend... and his friends to face unknowable peril and exciting adventures without him. "I go after Homecoming, and will be back before Thanksgiving, so it's not so bad." he said as much to himself as her. After all, he'd get to take Sophia to Homecoming - and he wouldn't be abandoning the team when they needed him most, taking down Cody and the Dark. After all, that had to happen before Homecoming, according to Cassie's vision. It was odd for Charlie to think of himself as the tank - though his Dwarven cleric in Sean's game was pretty resilient, he wasn't the frontline lynchpin of the group. But now real life had bestowed powers on Charlie that made him a literal combat monster - Devin's jokes about him being Zoidberg aside. That was an important role to play, and though he was as scared as any of the Fellowship - apart from Jase, he mentally appended - he was eager to be there for his friends. "I guess it's not so bad." Sophia grumped, snuggling up against him. The TV loaned it's flicker to the soft warm illumination of the lamps in the lounge, and the busty girl smiled, a naughty little smile, as she realised something. "Say, your mom is gone till Monday, right?" "Yeah." Charlie's attention was torn between the snuggling and the comedy special on the TV, so he was momentarily surprised as he felt nimble fingers tugging at his fly zipper. "Uh, something on your mind?" he asked with a grin starting on his lips. Sophia gave a soft, breathy giggle and leaned in, kissing him soundly. "Yeah. Making sure I'm on your mind when all those theater hoes start trying too hard." she murmured, kissing him again as she felt him stirring under her questing fingers. "Call it safeguarding my investment." she quipped as she lowered her head to his lap. "Investment?" Charlie asked, a laugh in his voice which swiftly faded as he felt her warm breath on his skin... Team Pluck The search of the ground floor had yielded nothing except more creeping unease. The sibilance of whispers seemed to be caught and echoed a little too readily by the derelict building , so the intrepid duo conversed in low murmurs. The rooms were all bare, not even old desks or furniture yielding up to the perfunctory search. The walls were the same patchy leprousness throughout, though here and there like ancient cave paintings were stick-figure drawings depicting disturbing images - at least, they were disturbing to Cassie and Autumn. Apparently no more than childish scrawls, in a variety of pigments, they were all variations on a single theme: A cluster of small stick figures, under... A larger stick figure with antlers growing from his head, standing before... A large, dark tree. In some of the drawings, the antlered figure seemed to be chasing the smaller figures. In others, the smaller ones seemed to be worshipping him. And in all the depictions of the tree, it was shown the same way: bare of branch, black, twisted, gnarled. Cassie realised that the drawings were all of varying ages, some more faded than others, as if drawn in different decades. She pointed this out to Autumn, who swallowed and nodded. "How old did you say this place was?" she asked. Cassie took a quick snapshot of one of the wall paintings before answering. "It was built in 1923. Before that, there was an old railway shed on this site. The town hall was supposed to put Shelly on the map, but like Jase pointed out in his mini-lecture, for some reason Shelly never boomed. Almost like someone didn't want it to." Autumn nodded, thinking of the possible suspects, all with their own reasons for keeping Shelly low-key. Heck, even her own family and the local Blackfeet might have preferred it that way. There were so many reasons to keep the world away from Shelly - but now with the Aeon Society on one hand and the mysterious Crossroads on the other, parts of the world had realised Shelly was unusual, which loaned an urgency to everything even without the imminent threat of a crazy possessed boy doing something horrible before Homecoming. A tour of the top floor yielded more of the same, the single-room loft office containing only cobwebs, mouse turds and, on the east wall, a larger version of the stick-figure paintings. This one had been made in a rusty brown pigment, and it wasn't until Cassie stepped closer that she realised that the source of the 'paint' was lying in a heap at the bottom of the wall. Cats. Several of them, dead as doornails with flies crawling on the dusty fur of their limp little bodies. They had been slashed open and the blood used as... as... Holy fucking shit, both teens thought with an almost identical urge to throw up rising in their stomachs.
  11. Sure enough, the window was there, the board across the lower half hanging loosely on it's bent and rusty nails. Autumn was pretty confident she could just take the prybar and take the whole damn board off with one good pull... but that would leave too-visible a sign that they had been here. Cassie, careful of stray nails, pulled the loose edge of the board aside, allowing her redheaded companion to slide agilely through the gap, wrecking bar in hand. Autumn's hiking boots hit the floor inside lightly and she took a pace into the room, allowing Cass to enter behind her as her own eyes adapted to the dank gloom within. The sight that met her eyes was not reassuring. This had likely been an office once, but the Old Town Hall had been shut down before even telephones were commonplace. Warped floorboards creaked underfoot, the wallpaper was rotted and hanging off in patches, giving the place a leprous look, and the paintwork - what there was of it - was similarly mold-covered and patchy. Worse, though, was the feeling of wrongness about the place. That oily, slick, sickly feeling she had felt when in the burned woods of the Other Side and earlier this week, when the monsters had come hunting in the Marias Medical Center was here, like a spiritual(?) tar stain on the cloth of reality. Perhaps most shocking is that, this time, the sensation was not surprising. It still sucked, to be sure, but the wrenching shock of the laws of nature being twisted, whilst still unsettling, did not leave her as rattled as last time. There was a soft grunt and shuffle from Cassandra as she slid through the window, straightened and looked around, and Autumn could see on her friend's face that the 'Eyes' felt the sensation too. The pair looked at each other and, barely perceptibly, nodded, each taking a deep breath and steeling their resolve. To Cassie's senses, the place had a 'they just stepped out' feeling. The Old Town Hall was not a large building. A hallway and four rooms on the ground floor, and a large open office space above. And, of course, the basement. The place felt lived-in, despite it's derelict and rotting facade. Not-Quite-Cody wasn't home right now... she thought so, anyway. She was pretty sure. Almost. Like, ninety- eighty- Uh, seventy percent sure.
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