After a drug raid against the Playboys, Alec Mendoza comes to Julian Raven for help. His son, Miguel, has suffered a stroke and his soul is missing. Miguel isn’t the only child with a missing soul. Three other children have also suffered from the same sleeping affliction. Julian, Po, and Wesley will have to solve the mystery while delving into the depths of Las Vegas Below, encountering Rat Speakers, Faeries, the Restless Dead, Fables, and the ghost of Mister Showmanship himself.
GM Notes: In the Lost Boys, the game picks up in July 11, 2000. The night begins with the cabal scouting a drug house where the Play Boys are growing pigment. The cabal is attempting to learn how pigment is created so that Julian can attempt to create a cure. While Po is in the house investigating, Wesley and Julian notice gang enforcers from the rival Rollin 60s creeping up to the drug house. Caught in the cross fire between the two rival gangs, the cabal is able to soundly defeat the Rollin 60s by scaring them away. They find out that the Play Boys don’t know how to manufacture pigment, and are attempting to grow the plant by using stolen corpses from the local cemetery as fertilizer. They soon learn that June P, the leader of the Play Boys, is dead and has been replaced by Akim Slim. Julian comes up with a theory on how pigment is being created, as he suspects the plants are being grown in nodes corrupted by dark tass.
On a side note, the Black Pyramid Chantry has called a Janissary Executor from the Silicon Court to investigate into the rumors of a saboteur or spy causing problems for Project Stormwarden. Meanwhile Buona Fortuna is still attempting to hunt down a nest of Martian Umbroods that the cabal weren’t able to exterminate. Isis Pharmaceuticals is recovering from a public relations scandal due to two incidents of employees committing mass murder and then suicide in the state of California and New York. They believe pigment is involved somehow.
As everyone prepares to call it for the night, Julian is visited by a distressed Alec. Alec’s son, Miguel, suffered from a stroke and went into a coma. Alec hopes that Julian can use his technology to revive his son. Julian heads to the hospital and investigates, learning that there are four other cases of children suffering from strokes. He also notices Lucas Broad in the hospital. Among some of the children, he finds grains of sand and is able to identify it as spiritual matter. He comes to learn that all five children are missing their spirits.
Julian calls the cabal together. Wesley is able to determine that the spirits have been taken to Maya, the realm of Dreams. They come to suspect faeries may be involved, due to their association with the Umbra realm of Dreams, and suspect a Sluagh may be responsible.
They contact Oz who helps direct them to his faerie contact in the city, a satyr working at Denny’s as a morning shift cook. Antonio Swayze agrees to help the group and tells them about Charlotte the Spider Queen, the local Sluagh. He informs them that the Spider Queen dwells in a dream realm known as the Land of Nod, a nightmare realm for children. The satyr guides them down into Las Vegas Below, a subterranean underworld beneath the city, but refuses to go any further. The cabal would journey alone, crawling through the city’s muck and sewage, until they come across a band of underground dwellers known as the Rat Speakers. After negotiations and trading with the Rat Speakers, the tribe agreed to assign their best guide, Aniseed, to lead the cabal to the Troll Bridge. The cabal would encounter a number of odd Egyptian graffiti about Sobek, written with radioactive paint, and journey for days until their quest finally brought them to the Troll’s Bridge. There they negotiate with Ser Cornelius, the guardian to the passage into Faerie. After passing his challenges (by telling him stories), the cabal enter into a realm known as the Hedge. The cabal would not remember their journey through the Hedge as the barrier surrounding Faerie robs mortals of their memories.
Once at the Land of Nod, the cabal are reverted to children. Many of the monsters mistake the children for monsters themselves and are easily tricked and duped by the cabal’s creative tricks. Their journey would lead them to the realm’s capital, King Fearme Not’s Castle. There they meet up with Charlotte the Spider Queen, and she confesses that she didn’t take the children. But the Spider Queen knows who has the children and would gladly take the cabal to the children if they could pass her challenge. The mages accept and were able to find a method to make King Fearme Not shiver, by reminding the old king of his lost love. Once the King knew what it is to shiver, he broke down into tears and the curse on his kingdom was broken. With no reason to remain in King Fearme Not’s castle, the Spider Queen honored her promise and escorted the cabal to another nightmare realm. This one ruled by the dead, known as the Horror Show.
The Spider Queen led the cabal to the Sandmen Guild’s Las Vegas lair, which happened to be a megaresort hotel owned by Liberace. After spending an evening watching Liberace’s performance, the cabal speaks with Liberace’s lover, Keith Frost. Keith admits that he took the children, but he did so because he wanted to prepare them for the fight against Oblivion forces. He warns the cabal about the Mission of the Holy Ghost and that the entire church is a pigment cult front. The wraith also shares new information about pigment, and that the spectres are behind the distribution of the drug. The cabal is able to convince Keith in giving the children up. Po later learns that the Spider Queen was a former child hood friend who had romantic feelings for him.
The story ends with the children waking up in their hospital beds and the cabal trekking back through the sewers to return to the surface world.
The DEA’s PDET (Pigment Drug Enforcement Task Force) and Operation Black Ice: The DEA is currently baffled when it comes to pigment. Despite months of work and millions of dollars in high-tech labs, they can’t identify the particular ingredient in an otherwise “normal drug” that gives it such bizarre properties. Testing shows that pigment contains some complex biological substance that is probably plant-based. The administration’s scientists presently hypothesize that pigment’s central element is a genetically modified plant with super-hallucinogen properties. Since no one can figure out how it becomes pigment, the DEA is currently attacking the problem backward – following the trail before the drug is transformed. For this, the heroin route seems the likeliest candidate.
Heroin in the United States comes primarily from four foreign sources, South America (Colombia), Southeast Asia (principally Burma), Mexico and Southwest Asia. At the moment, South American heroin dominates most of the Eastern United States’ wholesale and retail markets. In the West, “black tar” and brown powdered heroin from Mexico is the predominant form.
In the Eastern US, Colombian and Southwest Asian heroin is wholesaled by Mexicans to Pureto Rican, Nigerian and white gangs who sell it at street level. In the West, the situation is more volatile, with Mexicans handling both production and distribution – while constantly competing against both Dominican and white gangs. Based on samples the DEA seized, some 75% of pigment seems to stem from Mexican brown and “black tar,” so the DEA is currently concentrating its attention on finding the distribution points where Mexican wholesalers sell cheap product to the gangs for conversion into pigment. It should also be noted, however, that some pigment shipments seem to use other drug frameworks, like that of crystal meth or even pot, though these often land in the hands of recreational drug crowd (the smokers and the inhalers). The hard-core drug crowd, however, seems addicted to the black smack.
The DEA believe there may be heavy pigment operations occurring in LA, Fort Worth, Portland, St. Louis, and here in Las Vegas.
Changelings are humans born with a fae soul inhabiting their body alongside their human one, and are the only kind of fae to inhabit the modern world. They are able to interact with the Dreaming and the chimerical reality which exists alongside the mortal world, but are also shielded by their mortal existence from the banality of the mundane world. They are cut off from the home of the fae, Arcadia, and must seek to keep the imagination and creativity in the world, as this glamour fuels their magics and sustains their dual existence.
Changelings were initially created when the fae sought a way to protect themselves from the increasing banality in the mundane world by transferring their souls into (often infant) humans, leading to the traditional changeling myth of fairies stealing away a human child to replace it with a child of their own. The process of becoming a Changeling was known as the Changeling Way, and was most often practised by the commoner kith. Most Changelings now, however, are born naturally, the fae soul migrating to another body at death.
The Hedge is the realm that lies between the abode of the Fae and the mortal realm.
In many places – particularly in places where Western culture is dominant – the Hedge lives up to its name, appearing as a thick hedge of thorny brambles, but it may take many forms. However it appears, be it swamp or desert or jungle, the Hedge is always wild and seldom safe; its thorns tear at the mind and soul as well as the body, leaving a mortal’s memories and often identity in tatters.
Within the Hedge are paths called trods which lead from gateways to other significant locations. Many trods run close to the mortal realm, which is visible when it is near. Some trods also lead to the Dream Umbra. Others lead deeper into the Hedge, to Hollows – stable areas claimed or cultivated by other fae creatures – or to Arcadia, the realm of the Fae. It is impossible, however, for any but the True Fae themselves to enter Arcadia from the Hedge; while mortals can blunder into the Hedge on their own, they only enter Arcadia when taken by the Fae.
The Hedge is full of life; as well as the thorns there are many plants, including mystical Goblin Fruits of many kinds. There are also creatures of all shapes and sizes, which the fae refer to as Hobgoblins. Whether these creatures are native to the Hedge, or are creatures originally from Earth (or possibly even Arcadia) who have been warped by prolonged exposure, is debated by the fae, though many agree that these explanations aren’t mutually exclusive. Most Hobgoblins are hostile, though a rare few are relatively benign and may be befriended.
Any portal – be it a door, window, or merely a gap in a fence or mundane hedge – can be a gateway to the Hedges. Some gateways have existed for centuries; some older gateways may even be opened, accidentally or otherwise, by mortals. These most commonly require a key, a specific combination of objects, circumstances and/or actions that must come together to open the gateway.
Magic and The Hedge
The Hedge does not tolerate dynamic magic lightly, and nearly all Magic in the Hedge is vulgar, since the laws of reality here are those of the Hedge and of dreams, not the laws that are ensconced in Sleeper belief. However, wise Mages can make use of this.
Dreamspeakers and Verbena are the best at this, due to millennia of contact and travel within the Hedge and very occasionally Arcadia. Next are the Akashic Brotherhood, who understand the Hedge’s language of metaphor, archetype and simile, and, strangely, agents of the New World Order, who’s fundamental understanding of human psychology lets them look past cultural trappings to primal human processes of emotion and motivation.
If a Mage can manage to use their Foci and magical techniques in such a way that matches the inherent dream logic of the Hedge, a spell can be considered coincidental. A Verbena would make use of faerie tale logic and nursery rhymes, while Dreamspeakers would re-enact how a culture hero was able to perform a miraculous feat. An Ivory Tower psychologist would use dream interpretation and ‘movie logic’.
Most Magic works normally. However, attempting to use magic to leave the Hedge is always considered vulgar, as that breaks the pact between those in the Hedge and the Hedge itself.
The Crossing of the Hedge is a very dangerous journey. When a mage crosses into the Hedge, roll the mage’s permanent Paradox + Arete (difficulty 6). Each success indicates one level of aggravated damage as the Hedge rends and warps away at the mage’s enlighten spirit. This damage applies even if the mage is just reaching across partially. Mages with the Fae Blood Merit do not suffer this penalty.
The Land of Nod
Once upon a time there was a land of twisted fairy tales. Where dreams and nightmares walked hand in hand, where wonder and despair were two sides of the same coin, where magic and imagination reigned, and where kindly villagers lived next door to strange beasts. The Land of Nod squats atop a dreamscape mountain on the fringes of the Underworld, a brooding monster, as hungry as any that ever hid beneath a child’s bed. In the Land of Nod, all the fears of childhood come racing back to confront you in the flesh and blood. If you though they were scary in your imagination, just think what they’re like here. Although it isn’t officially a Nightmare Realm, it comes close.
Magic and the Land of Nod
Depending on the kingdom, assume that magical styles can be either vulgar or coincidental. Visitors use their Mental Attributes instead of Physical ones. Visitors also gain the Short and Child flaw as long as they are visiting the Land of Nod.
The Sandman Guild
Sandmen are wraiths skilled in Phantasm, the art of interacting with the dreams of mortals and creating illusions and stories in the underworld.
For many years, those who worked in Phantasm were splintered and nomadic. They were mistrusted by those who did not hold to such beliefs in dreaming, and primarily existed as messengers with the living. It all changed with the First Great Maelstrom, when it was found that Spectres had learned the basics of the art of Phantasm, via those who had fallen to Harrowings or Oblivion. Disturbed, the Phantasm users decided to band together in order to teach and regulate their arts, lest Oblivion gain the greatest secrets they held. This early gathering evolved into the Sandmen Guild.
Christianity brought the focus of the Sandmen back to the Underworld, as many Western mortals no longer held stock in the dreams of ghosts and gods. They began to focus their arts abilities on their fellow wraiths; dreams that could be used to heal, communicate, and inspire other spirits to greater callings. The Sandmen continued to remain to themselves for the most part until they were drug into the War of the Guilds by the Mnemoi.
After the war the Sandmen began to return to their roots of dealing directly with dreams. They began to use their powers to create fantastic plays and shows to move wraiths. These presentations evolved into the Oneiric Theater, which became one of the most valued and appreciated art forms among wraiths, even to this day. Sandmen began to gain valuable patrons in the Hierarchy, but took advantage of them to the point they lost their support. When the Sandmen participated in and subsequently lost, along with the other Guilds, the Guild Revolt, their former patrons had no issues with encouraging the Breaking of the Guilds.
In the 1900’s, the Hierarchy finally grew tired of persecuting the Sandmen, and decided to leave well enough alone, as the Sandmen created more trouble for every means they came up with to bring them down. The Sandmen cautiously returned to the public stages, some as genuine entertainers, while others continued their work to undermine the Hierarchy. However, they assisted greatly in the Fifth Great Maelstrom, finally earning them a place of respect among the Hierarchy and the other Guilds.
During the week of Nightmares, when many spirits fled across the Shroud, the Sandmen fled to the Dreaming. They now flourish in a realm known as the Horror Show, a dreamscape controlled by the dead. Their main focus in modern times is Oblivion itself. The Sandmen continue to grow alarmed at how Oblivion has adapted their arts to dark purposes and used them to encourage humans to go through with their darker urges. They work to stop Spectres from perverting their art.
The Horror Show
The Horror Show is a generic setting for all sorts of nightmarish Pageants, with little sub-enclaves of weirdness. There is brooding Gothic dungeons here, Lovecraftian backwoods town there, splattered urban hatescape over there – you name it. Even worse than the ambiance, though, are the inhabitants. There are Sandmen who’ve taken up permanent residence, more or less, and spend their afterlives just playing parts in nightmare after nightmare. They look the part these days, too – and people can hardly tell they were human souls once.
The leader of the Las Vegas cell is none other than Liberace himself. The canny performer visits the city often and his cell is made up of Liberace groupies. His cell regularly goes out to kidnap people from their dreams and drag them to his portion of the Horror Show, where he “entertains” his guests.