Local Oddities

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Local Oddities

Post by Chris Shaffer on Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:29 am

Some of these I've mentioned elsewhere in passing on the site. Some of these may be familiar to people from my past games. But I wanted to do a post just talking about some of the local oddities that characters may or may not encounter in this game.

City Lions
Officially, mountain lions are rare at best in this region. But people clued in to the supernatural have discovered that they're not strictly gone -- they've just moved. This in particular isn't a Morgantown-specific phenomenon. They show up to some degree pretty much anywhere in the Appalachians (WV in particular), which means some characters should be familiar with the phenomenon. Well, 'show up' is a misnomer. See, the creatures colloquially referred to as 'City Lions' are some supernatural breed of mountain lion that have been known to disguise themselves as human beings and wander around human civilization. They don't appear hostile unless threatened or startled and 99% of the time, one can wander around town without drawing any attention.
These aren't shapeshifters; they cast an illusion, like the ones produced by Obfuscate or Nightmare, that makes them appear as a person. If one picks up something in its mouth, the illusory person will appear to bend over and pick up something in a hand. If one takes a swing at somebody with its claws, the illusion will also swing at the person -- with their fingernails leaving the gashes of a wild animal and maybe even appearing to sprout claws for a moment. When one is threatening a human, some self-preservation instinct in the person kicks in and they're able to see through the illusion -- or at least just enough to see claws or fangs or perhaps the feline-slitted ears. None have ever been known to talk, outside the occasional apocryphal tale of one reciting certain phrases it's heard like a parrot.
Their origin is unknown as they're particularly difficult to consistently find and no original source has ever been located. In particular, when threatened they flee to a nearby forest if possible at which point they completely vanish. Some monster hunters have been known to try and track them down and study them, but there's no word yet whether these efforts have borne fruit.

The spirits referred to by experts as 'Couchfires' are definitely something particular to Morgantown. These are likely to be unknown to any characters who don't have any sort of specialized knowledge (meaning: a specialty in spirits or Occult 3 or higher). In the Morgantown of the World of Darkness, like in real life, game days often spin the city into chaos. Either from local students burning things (like couches) in celebration (or protest) or people from out of town trashing the city on the way out, a lot of damage is done. In real life, this behavior has declined somewhat. In the WoD, however, it remains as strong as ever. So strong, in fact, that some breed of spiritual entity is either encouraging it, feeding off of it, or both.
By spirit standards, Couchfires are relatively weak, but they're entities that epitomize fire and chaos. They show up when the students are acting up and wrecking things -- not just during game nights, though that is a major catalyst. They tend to show up, encourage students to wreak some havoc, and leave it at that. But perhaps 1 time in 100, one will go a little off the rails and become stronger and even cause a run of fires.
In the past, the city has even seen small cults to the Couchfires rise up. The most notable instance, the Brotherhood of Victory, was reportedly scattered to the winds when a Couchfire managed to possess a man and turn him into a pyromaniac (a feat that no Couchfire had ever achieved before or since). The cult was under the impression that sacrificing things in flame was necessary to the success of WVU's sports teams, and their brief rise to prominence (as far as 'prominence' goes when it comes to spirit cults) raised some legitimate questions about whether they could in fact be right.

Caves that Don't Exist
A rare phenomenon that's shown itself a few times, on rare occasions people have found passageways into or through the local hills -- a cave or a small gully -- that leads into fields with half-dead grass an oddly-red sky. But according to actual maps and GPS, these fields don't exist. And the rare few people who've wandered into them have even reported sightings of monsters and creatures of living rock.
The generally-accepted response from the mundane community, when these tales rise up, is that someone's stumbled over a natural gas pocket and hallucinated. Especially since the passage that led there seems to vanish the moment someone turns their back on it.

The Glass Angel
In recent years, an entity known as the Glass Angel has made its presence known in Star City. Dismissed as a trick of the light by the authorities, this translucent specter -- which, as the name suggests, appears to be a four-foot tall angel made of broken glass -- is often sighted near terrible accidents. Some believe it shows itself to ferry the souls of the unfortunately-deceased to Heaven. Others think it causes the accidents to feed on the tragedy or that it could be some too-late warning.
Ghost hunters and debunkers alike have sought it out, but nobody's ever been able to record it. Although on at least one memorable occasion a year ago, a handful of ghost hunters tried to stage an accident to get its attention. They vanished, but their half-melted camera was retrieved and the surviving footage was uploaded to YouTube by some group calling themselves 'The Secret Frequency.'
The footage is mostly unremarkable, beyond two central moments. First is a bunch of people pushing an old car so it rolls off the road and towards the river where one of their number stands in its path and dives out of the way. The second is them poking around the wreckage when the windows on the car start exploding and the glass shirking around like a dust storm. From there it's just the usual screaming, blurring, and shaking. The camera was found half-melted to the parking lot of University Commons Riverside.

The Marrow Sucker
All up and down the Mon River, a strange phenomenon occurs a handful of times a year. Not often enough in any one spot to draw more than a brief mention in the papers, but those who keep track of such things may have heard rumors of a creature in the river that feeds on human flesh, stripping it to the bone. Then it reportedly causes or finds even tiny cracks in the bone and through that manages to suck the marrow out as well -- hence the name, 'marrow sucker.'
No two reported descriptions of the creature are the same. Some witnesses claim to see a dinosaur or manta-like shape, others reportedly see tentacles. The victims have no consistent connections, either. Some are swimmers who've gone missing, others are people unlucky enough to upset criminal organizations. But they vanish and some time within a few weeks, bones start washing up on the shore. Some have been identified, from known injuries or pins or comparison to skulls from which dental impressions are taken. The FBI, however, has slowly been amassing a collection of the ones that haven't been identified yet and storing them in its offices in Clarksburg.
The official story, like with Midwest cattle mutilations (though WoD Morgantown has had those in the past), is that the natural fauna of the river is just really efficient at eating dead bodies in extremely creepy ways. Even if it's true, though, what could be so effortlessly getting at the marrow without destroying the bones altogether?

The River Man
'The River Man' is the only known name for the bizarre homeless man known for walking up and down the banks of the Mon River, singing a strange song that at times seems wordless and at other times just seems to have indecipherable lyrics. When asked, he claims to be singing the river to sleep. What is known is that he times his ongoing wandering to the lunar cycle. He starts in Fairmont on the second night of the full moon and reaches downtown Pittsburgh by the new moon. He takes his time and wanders away from the river but almost always sleeps on its banks.
When he does leave the river, he's usually seen at sites of strange magical disturbance. And when he is by the river, especially at night, people sometimes see what is described as a glowing, angelic figure floating over the surface. The figure, in every case is described as floating along in the air next to him, listening to his song.
Chris Shaffer

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