This is a taste of my Edge City game. At one point in the game I got to describe a quickening storm, which I greatly enjoy. I wanted to share that description, because I’m proud of how it went at the table (I was not operating from notes or anything.) It was like a moment of good boxed text, with no reading.
Brief background; demons went through a torturous process to break enough “seals” or moments of unlikely coincidence and/or breaking power structures, to open a Brass Embassy in Edge City. The heroes are trying to break enough seals to close it, and a close ally found them a list of seals they had to break to scour the embassy out.
One of the characters is the key, she is absorbing different kinds of energy and having different elements of fate swirl about her so she is the focus of the effort to close the Brass Embassy. She is a mutant who is infected with warpstone. One of the seals is “Capture a storm of deathless light in flesh.” The characters rightly interpreted that as a quickening storm, from the death of an immortal.
Then they found a hidden stash of “bright souls” as they were raiding a spirifer’s cache. Spirifers steal souls for hell, and this cache had a dozen normal souls and a few bright blue ones. What is that about? In studying them over, they realized the containers were folded dimensionally by use of the Correspondence, the alphabet of Hell, to contain their energy. Further, they realize these souls are from immortals, captured quickening storms.
They break one open, and it crackles across everyone present, but doesn’t infuse the key properly. So, they dig into their lore and realize that the energy simply returns to the ley lines of the earth, rebounding into a foundling that someone will encounter and raise to be an immortal.
Fortunately one of them owns a pocket dimension, so they go there. Another of them is a shaman, so she cajoles the spirit of the immortal out of its energy so they can talk to him. He tells them that in his youth it was prophesied that he would help scour Hell from earth, and he didn’t believe it, but now he does. He agrees to voluntarily merge his life energy with the key. “Are you prepared to carry me?” he asks. “Then brace yourself.”
I went back to the session recording and pulled this out.
So he grabs you by the shoulders, then lets out a bark, and bodyslams you at close range, like he’s trying to put his shoulder back in its socket on your face. You can’t even stagger back, you are rooted to the spot. A quickening storm flares through you. Something that you didn’t realize about a quickening storm is that when it hits, some measure of skill and knowledge from the one that is dying flows into the survivor. You actually pick up Fencing 3. He brings that to the table.
As the energy crashes into you and slides through your neural pathways and rewrites you, you have a peculiar flickers of memory, of bamboo glades, and swordfighting with a blind master that you know and trust, and teaching a class of children, and there are a succession of women whose faces come and go. Each one is attached to profound sadness that moves into happiness, and moves into the profound sadness of meeting someone new. The sun swirls overhead so fast, over and over and over in a wobbling pattern; you feel your life energy bound together by a gold thread that punctures again and again and again as it goes through you and around you; being bound to the earth by day after day after day.
The energy flares along your bones and along your muscles as they remember things they’ve never done, and you feel the weight of a hundred thousand things you can never undo sliding to and through you. You realize some of it is his, and some of it he inherited; as you get his life energy, what is poured into you is all the ingredients that poured into him, over time; the battles he fought and won. You have flickers of (difficult to even describe) this peculiar whipping show of fashions, and loves, and hates, and touching, and breathing, and hard words and soft words, and it all swirls together as though for just a moment, you touched your hand to the red hot stove of human experience, and by the time you yank it back all of you is smoking and steaming. You fall to your knees, spent. Energy is rolling off of you in waves. Meanwhile as you look around, you see lighting has sizzled through the greenery around you.
You look at your hands, and a hundred seconds pass in three seconds, and in each of those seconds, you flicker through an identity that does not recognize those hands as your own. Then each identity is folded and pressed against the inside of your bones, and you realize that you carry within you the life energy of maybe hundreds of human lives.
In your shadow, you now cast shadows as though every life you have ever absorbed is a light in front of you, and that’s what your shadow is; all of those interleaving overlapping shadows. And in between them is where you keep your sword. If you meditate, you may be able to find it, if you pick through those shadows. Normally you put it there, you remember where it is and you can pull it out. Nobody comes to this all at once, you have one Quickening before you start.
My players were very tolerant of my beatnik poetry slam there (though they did not snap their fingers.) Every now and then it’s cool to let those weird and alien experiences have room to breathe at the game table.
I can’t wait for her to sift through her shadows until she finds the sword waiting there for her. =)