The Eternal City
This commentary is longer than normal so bear with me.
When I began this chapter in the campaign it was my intent to pose a question for the group and that was how far would they go for the sake of Rome. The coterie had different ideas about what Rome was and represented. For Dinius and Titus it was the Rome of the glorious Empire, the eternal city. For Linus and Gaius it was the romantic view of the Roman Republic and the need to get back to that stable period. As a former slave from Ireland, Aylith despised Rome. She accepted Rome for what it was but had no love for its people or its institutions. Yet she knew and appreciated that the Stryx were a real threat.
The ritual began as a classic maguffin, something I never expected to actually be enacted. I made a point of the hard to read tablets and the very real possibility of misinterpreting the portions of the text. Innocents most definitely did not mean children. And by pure Roman virtue, I was referring to what the standards would have meant in Roman pre-history. There was no one who could have contradicted them so they plowed ahead with their plan. And at no time did any player/character pause, stop to reconsider the plan, or question the wisdom of their course of action, at least not till the very end. I even had a friend guest appear as one of the Christian vampires in the hopes that someone would question the plan. That didn’t happen either.
We are at the first temple and preparations are being made to get started when Aylith’s player asks would her character have a problem with going forward. Just to recap this plan involved in the ritualistic mass murder of children, so I said yes definitely without question. This was the absolute last chance anyone had to disrupt things and to the player’s credit Aylith acted. She feared Titus, temporarily rooted Gaius and Linus. If Dinius hadn’t used Dominate on Aylith when he did there was a real chance that the coterie would have crossed swords against itself. Gaius cried out in character that she had been working against them from the beginning.
What the Narrator does not know is that Aylith wasn’t done she went to the other locations and freed the children there waiting and ruined the ritual preparations. She then turned over her network to her apprentice Julia Sabina and then went to her original home Ireland. It was felt that based on the in-character reactions viewing what A. did as a great betrayal and this made any hope of reconciliation nonexistent. So we finished things up with the ritual and its immediate aftermath and a new character was rolled up.
I cannot express just how huge of a session this was and the impact it had on the campaign. Towards the end we all looked back and said this was the decision point. This is where the fate of the characters began to be sealed. It was AWESOME!
What if they had opted not to go through the ritual? That was always an option and would have meant they would have sought out other means, begin to examine the Stryx better and determine what the goals of the enemy might be. At the very least they wouldn’t have lost Aylith as a character. My advice to players and GMs out there; embrace your bad in-character decisions.