Last week I reviewed the Ghostbusters 2016 remake. You can find it here. The film’s villain enacts a plan to release an army of ghosts on New York by powering up the local ley lines. Let’s see how we can make that plot work in the Chronicles of Darkness.
Gamify It! Ghostbusters 2016
Some Assembly Required
The main elements of this story seed are:
- Ley Lines
- An otherworldly gate that the antagonist hopes to open
- Spectral manifestations
- Some form of technology or techno magic to make it all work.
Within the Chronicles of Darkness, ley lines serve to transport resonance (Mage: the Awakening). Where lines intersect mystical power collects. With the proper spells this energy can be used for mundane purposes like powering a building. The resonances can also be used to make an area receptive to other magics, to provide nourishment to spirits, or just to alter the character of the area the lines pass through.
The resonance concept works well with an Underworld, or Avernian, gate. The Book of Dead describes a system for opening gates based on specifics of the opener and the location. Filling a space with death resonance should provide a bonus to rolls to open such a portal.
While Ghostbusters focuses on an Underworld gate, there is no reason that needs to be the case. Any sort of resonance might help breach the Gauntlet into the Shadow. Specifically a potent spirit can feed on that energy on the other side to grow stronger. A strong enough spirit can create its own gateways.
Alternatively an Abyssal or Infernal taint might allow the creation of a portal to the Abyss (again from Mage: the Awakening) or the Inferno (from World of Darkness: Inferno).
All of these options (Underworld, Shadow, Abyss, Inferno) come with their own cast of problematic entities. These beings could use the gates to enter the “real” world or be summoned to help create the gateways. Ancient ghosts can be artificially anchored to this world with Supernal magic (or perhaps specialized rituals or supernatural powers). Spirits with the proper resonance can be summoned (and perhaps later fed to each other create a strong enough entity to finish the ritual). Abyssal manifestations are dangerous even to the summoner but eager to arrive. As are demons of course.
The method for summoning the entities and opening the portal are going to depend on the individual in question.
Madmen and Geniuses
Mage: the Awakening: this is my go-to for the villain. A focused mage can access any of the options I listed above. They can easily summon and bind ghosts (using Death 2 and 4), spirits (Spirit 2 to 4), or other entities. With other spells they can weaken the gauntlet (Spirit 3) and help manifest the normal incorporeal entities. The plan works only a little different for infernal demons, with horrible acts creating wounds in the spirit world from which demons to emerge.
A mage might also seek to open a door to the Supernal, not to let it in but go through themselves. Though only Archmasters are likely to succeed, many mages would like to try. A first step might be flooding the local ley lines with Supernal resonance (perhaps with a Demense placed on the intersection of some ley lines). Then they might summon supernal entities to further push the local conditions to converge with their chosen realm. All of this is as likely to punch a hole into the Abyss as a higher reality.
Werewolf: the Forsaken: The logical antagonist here is one of the Pure, trying to bring about the good old days before the Gauntlet. Using a special Rite they lower the local gauntlet. Spirits cross over to gather power from the material world. Once they have enough power the werewolf enacts a larger version of the Rite to bring down the Gauntlet across a whole city.
Alternatively a Bale Hound might seek to deal with Infernal powers, creating such negative resonances (with spirit and werewolf fueled atrocities) that wounds in reality open up. Then they just wait for their masters to arrive.
Geist: the Sineaters: After mages, these are the folks most likely to be opening gateways. Perhaps a rogue Sineater seeks to release old ghosts back into the world. They open Avernian gates around the city. Using special rituals they anchor the ghosts to this world so they can escape the Underworld. The climax focuses on the Sineater’s use of this spiritual power to become a God of Death.
Demon: the Descent: A dedicated demon might try to create a portal for much the same reason as a Supernally obsessed mage: the find a way to their personal hell. Alternatively perhaps this is a plan of the God-Machine. In Ghostbusters, Rowan does summon four ghosts along the ley lines. And four is a a sign of the Machine’s plans. Was Rowan a cultist?
One Last Idea
My final idea concept is to have it all be mundane. Stealing from the Esoterrorist’s setting, perhaps Rowan hopes to make people believe in ghosts. The technology he uses creates convincing holograms to scare people. Once enough people believe in ghosts, he hopes this weight of belief will make it true.
That makes him a threat to all supernatural creatures who desire to remain hidden.
To add to the confusion, perhaps a group of NPC ghostbusters emerges to combat this threat. Theses deluded ghost hunters think they can deal with the (fictional) dead.
But what happens as people begin to believe in ghosts? Do real ghosts suddenly find it easy to manifest? Do vampires take to the streets and pass themselves off as fairly solid apparitions of the past? What if something spectral appears but it isn’t effected by the normal rules of ghosts?