So, I sketched out that you could have a cool team on a Hellmouth, and then I outlined a possible game based on character types + Hellmouth concept. I have an itch to do another one, so let’s see what 4 players come up: 12, 9, 8, 4.
Demon, pacted, immortal, werewolf.
Let’s put the Hellmouth in a cave system in the woods overlooking a small town mid-way down a valley, the only civilization in the valley that leads to the Hellmouth. If something is traveling towards the Hellmouth, the town is in the way. Something nice, like Duplicity, Pennsylvania.
WHY ARE THEY HERE?
The werewolf is part of a clan of kinfolk that have traditionally lived on the Hellmouth, territorially protecting the area. They identify and shoot monsters who come to visit. It wasn’t always that way; that’s how they contracted lycanthropy, cultist ancestors getting clever with the energy. But now they read their bibles and shoot at strangers. The werewolf character was groomed (excuse the pun) to be their champion, because only one in a generation gets actual transformative power. Will she toe the line and obey the elders, or will she defend the site her own way?
The demon was given a very specific task to carry out when walking the earth. Known as the Testing Fire, this demon has a destiny. If a demon slays the Testing Fire, then that demon will become the vessel for a much bigger demon’s power on Earth. So, the demon is sought by ambitious warrior-demons who make it to earth, in search of much greater power. To hide, the demon snuggles close to a Hellmouth to hide the signs and signals given off to potential killers. Set up a bar, to sift rumors mainly, and has a “live and let live” arrangement with the werewolves (that could escalate to an alliance.)
The pacted believes she is connected to an angel (maybe Azrael.) She can channel holy energy that disintegrates evil things (and only evil things) and she has visions. She has come to this place because she believes if she is not here when evil makes its move, the Hellmouth may pry itself open. She runs the bookstore (with the basement where all the useful books are) and really misses her former life, before all the supernatural stuff. (Whatever that was.)
The immortal is from this area originally, maybe 300 years ago. From the same clan as the werewolf, but was a foundling (odd things not being unusual in the area even then.) Spent centuries running from the responsibility of guarding the Hellmouth, but has had some bad experiences out in the world and has returned home for at least a while. Will he get along with the current champion of the clan? Can they work together?
WHY ARE THEY TOGETHER?
The immortal and werewolf are from the same clan and have to work out whether that helps or hinders their efforts to work together. The demon needs local contacts for intelligence and backup for when the rest of the demons come. As for the divine channeler, she had a vision that she was to assist the clan in protecting the Hellmouth. So we use the clan as the base for connection.
WHO ELSE IS NEARBY?
The clan is going to be a big deal. Work out a double handful of people; some movers and shakers, some weak members that need protecting, a couple dissenters, maybe some ne’er do wells and some philanthropists. Round ’em out a bit. Add in some colorful figures from the clan’s storied history; great champions, shameful travesties, good leaders, bad leaders. But mostly just big personalities and great stories. Have a grandparently character who knows all the stories. The clan has a “trophy cave” where they keep stories and trophies from the monsters killed by the clan. It is a deep cave, with lots of unpleasant stuff in it–a great place to research. And it is curated by the same family, since the beginning.
You need a coal mine. Have a sense of who owns it and how they are predators on the community, with a company store and all. But maybe the economy is opening up, or the mine is winding down, and power is shifting. What else might be going on?
A mayor who is opening the town up to tourism and cottage industry is threatening the death grip the mine has had on the town for almost a century. This mayor’s innovative policies of aggressively recruiting tourism and putting the town on the map mean there are strangers there, and that’s making it more difficult to suss out who might be there for the Hellmouth. Is the mayor really motivated by political and cultural and financial concerns? Or is there something else in there?
So much weird stuff happens in this small town. The church lost its way about fifty years ago, and now it worships the supernatural instead of a dim and distant God. Sure, the Sunday services are the same as always, but the true believers in the town want to be in the presence of the supernatural, to worship it. That could get awkward if they are rejected by the characters, and even more awkward if other bad influences find out about it.
The local law have always been controlled by the wolf clan–until recently. The mayor put on pressure, brought in outsiders, so a long history of comfortable cover-ups is in danger of actual police interest. The sheriff is married to an FBI agent.
A vampire nest in a local big city have a tradition that the successor to the leader must bring back a dead werewolf from Duplicity. This is rare, as the nest is stable, but the nest keeps tabs on local events so when the time comes they are ready to hunt. And they sometimes roll into town, beat some people up, and roll out for recreation.
WHAT KIND OF ADVENTURES?
The first adventure could be based on the death of the leader of the vampire nest; the heir apparent needs to kill the werewolf guardian, and comes out with a posse to do it. The pacted gets a vision that they are coming–does she warn the others that vampires are on the way? They see how the law handles the conflicts. They have some great guerilla hunting in the woods with the mortals of the clan determined to help (and inevitably being held hostage) and some tactics; can they swing around and take out the heir? Work out some kind of deal? It is unlikely that the demon is sympathetic to the vampires hunting someone to gain status.
Let’s braid plot threads!
- A member of the inquisition proper hears of the pacted who has visions and divine power, and comes to either recruit her if she’s legit or destroy her if she’s a trick of the devil.
- A powerful demon has worked out the signs and comes to kill the Testing Fire.
- Something is lairing in the mine wiping out miners. Take care of it, but be careful of the mayor and new sheriff–don’t give too much away.
- A wicked druid can animate the trees using energies from the Hellmouth, and plans to crush all life in this valley. While he is bent on punishing humanity for their sins against nature, his daughter is uneasy about what will happen if they pull too hard on the powers of Hell; how will that change the earth?
- Figure out two to four big town festivals, and make sure they are the backdrop for events, complete with obligations undertaken by the characters and crowds of people (including lots of tourists) that can get inconvenient.
- A powerful demon wants to set up a summer home mansion for occasional use. Not shy about revealing (to supernatural types) that it will be full of decadence and murder and horrible things, when he’s home. Expects live-and-let-live treatment. Or else not.
- A rival immortal hires a shape-shifter to drive the immortal in town mad, by imitating friends and foes long dead (and the rival has the research in hand to make it convincing.) The shape-shifter doesn’t pick up on the quickening radar, and claims not to know who the immortal is, except he looks familiar. Or, some other riff on this. When the immortal is good and spooked, doubting, isolated, then the rival shows up to finish it. But can the immortal push his friends away, or will they still be nearby?
- A tribe of demon spider centaurs are webbing the deep woods and working their way closer to the town. Their webs make fog, and they have creepy powers. The whole valley will be in their webs if the guardians do not interfere, and when their web-work is deep enough they can use it to summon awful protectors and monsters. Looks like the guardians have little choice but to make an implacable recurring enemy.
Weave 2-3 of these together per session, get a few in, and add more threads based on what they like and who they interact with. It’s a good start.