The Refugees was the first Westfinder Game and was written by Ben Schwartz. It was played on November 4th, 2006. It took place at Jewel Lake in Berkeley, sunny, sunny, not-always-so-sunny California, a part of Tilden Park. It was a spinoff of Finals, taking place six years later in approximately the same world, though the events of Graduation Day made it mildly impossible.
This world is the one we are most familiar with—our own. The same wars, the same lives, the same loves. But behind that familiar face lies a secret world, and a secret history — a history of magic. Magic has been a part of our world for as long as there have been people to believe in it. The world is much larger than most would choose to believe, full of mysteries and magic to behold. Behind the scenes of the world, angels and demons do battle over ancient castles, witches and warlocks hold secret meetings deep beneath the planet’s surface, and ancient evils plot and scheme.
However, as time has gone on, fewer and fewer people believe in magic, putting their faith instead in technology. As such, the magical world has rallied and is pressing onwards, trying to discover ways to save magic. So far, no one has been successful. In 2012, people just don’t believe in magic any more.
Also, our world is but one aspect of an infinite multiverse of worlds, all existing in parallel. Most of humanity does not understand the multiverse, though many scientists are nearing breakthroughs.
In the old days, many people believed in magic, and those with the talent for it were much more active. Today, most who have magical talents never realize them, as they do not believe that magic exists. For those who can tap their magic, however…
In the world today there exist four primary types of magic users. Witches are nature-based, believing in the flow and balance of energy, and have strongly emotional magic. Runecasters understand the language of the universe, and can rewrite sections of it to fit their needs. Summoners walk the myriad aspects of the multiverse, bringing strange things home with them. The Knights of the Tree are an ancient order working to fight evil across the world, with ties to various intelligence networks.
There are few active places of teaching for anyone other than the Knights (who learn in monasteries) so most teaching happens in singular master-apprentice relationships. There is one large school, The Academy, based in upstate New York, though it is still recovering from a massive demonic invasion back in 2006. In the wake of the attack, several other schools have sprung up across the country.
Magic in this world is quite particular—it operates entirely on belief. If you belief in your magic, it will work. If you have faith in your abilities—they’ll work. That is not to say that anyone can use magic if they believe—one must have the talent. Magic itself works to further its own cause, subtly guiding those who can access it. If a magic user walks into a bar and meets a strange man, that man is almost certainly magical. Once a person awakens to their magic, their lives become filled with magic. Magic also operates on the principle of equivalent exchange: if you wish to gain something, you must give something up. Usually this comes in the form of energy, or in some cases even simply time. For this reason, most magic-users do not use magic for convenience, as it takes up just as much energy as doing the task in question manually.
A Note on NamesEdit
The world we will be playing is strongly governed by names. Everyone and every thing in the universe has a name—a true name. Many people don’t know their own true names, though they’d certainly recognize it if they saw it. If you can find someone or something’s true name, you gain great power over it. If you have the talent for it, you can even bind them by it in a ritual. This binding ritual eternally binds them to you by their true name. Nothing can break this bond except the death of either party. All players should decide on their character’s true name. TELL NO ONE. Because names are so powerful and meaningful, it is considered rude to ask someone what their name is. Instead, one should ask what the person is called.
November 10th, 2012, Mendocino
The clash of swords rose from the courtyard as Isonade and Raven sparred. The daikatana and longsword rang loudly after each impact, glowing with the intensity of the teenagers' souls. They leapt back, grinned, and swung again. Nod smiled at the students and kept walking. Further along, he saw Saber training with Excalibur. Both girl and sword seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. Ironwood and Brushstrokes sat curled in each others' arms beneath the philosophy tree, debating whether or not they existed. Quark was sitting on the porch, typing away on his laptop. Probably another paper on subatomic particles that no one has ever heard of, or more notes on his next absurd summon.
He could hear Sage's voice from inside the bunks, calm as always, probably settling another argument between his fellow Knights. A strange shadow crossed Nod's path and he followed it up to the roof. The Hermit sat there, watching him quietly. Strange child, that one. The newest student, Journeyman, was deep in conversation with Odysseus. As Nod came closer, Odysseus saw him and excused himself from the conversation. He walked up to Nod and stood with a slight smile on his face.
"Nod! There's been a report of some demon wandering around Berkeley."
Nod raised one eyebrow. It had been a while since he had seen his fellow teacher this excited. "And? Has the Order dispatched anyone to deal with it yet?"
"They asked me to. But I was thinking-- your summoned beasties are nice practice, but don't you think a real field exercise would be better training?"
The oneiromancer grinned. "Sounds like a quality plan. My summoners can come along and help with the binding or somesuch. Beside, most of them will finish their current summons this evening."
The two teachers smiled to each other. It had been a while since either of them had seen much real action.
- * *
Elsewhere, Batu smiled. Soon, his mentor would be free. Soon, they could return to their homeworld and make peace once more. Soon, his people would be saved. All he needed was that accursed Knight... But the Knight would hear of the "demon" soon enough, and he would come running. Soon, his people would be refugees no longer.
After arriving for a field trip in Tilden Park, Odysseus taught the students about how a binding ritual worked, while Nod ran a brief errand in the Dreaming. He returned, and informed the students of the real purpose of the trip: a demon had been reported in the area, and the students were going to get a chance to see a real binding in action. The students walked deep into the forest, to the edge of a lake. They saw the demon, lantern held high, across the lake. They circled it to meet him...
Meanwhile, in a different part of the forest, the Gardenborne Benedict and his small-scaled demon army arrived, hot on the trail of the demon thief Pira and her stolen god, Mala. They beat her to the Mana Fountain, a hole in the earth's crust where pure energy welled up. Pira had planned to use it to free Mala, but she wasn't fast enough. She was saved by The Wanderer, a powerful runecaster. He took her out of the woods...
Odysseus and Nod's students made their way to where the demon was waiting. He cast some sort of spell, locking all of them into a small area while he dueled Odysseus. Odysseus was defeated, while Nod worked furiously to break the spell. Just as he did so, a small army of demonic beings (the Refugees) jumped out of the surrounding forest, ambushing the students. The students ran like crazy as Nod held off the attackers. Unfortunately, Odysseus didn't make it out...
Nod and the students ran into the Wanderer and Pira, back in the field. After learning of Benedict's presence, Nod realized there was no way he could get through this alone. He tried to summon Simmons, which completely failed. He got an away message. He went for his other option--a summon he'd been working on for quite a while. Yggdrasil, dryad of the worldtree. Yggdrasil was weak, though, which meant a trip to the mana fountain. Again. Of course, there was an ambush waiting for them. Benedict attacked, going for Isonade, with Isonade's resurrected girlfriend, Feija. Nod again ran, bringing the students to a crossroads.
The demonic beings showed up, with a battered and bloody Odysseus in tow. As a three-way battle broke out between the students, the Refugees, and Benedict's army, Batu-Dai, the Refugee leader, sacrificed Odysseus at a binding altar, freeing Yesugei, true leader of the Refugees, and bringing him into Odysseus' body. Yesugei halted the fighting and drove off Benedict momentarily. He cleared up all of the misunderstandings, and organized the survivors for a final assault on Benedict. The students, backed by the combined power of the now-free Mala, the energized Yggdrasil, Nod, and Yesugei, performed the binding ritual they had learned, and imprisoned Benedict. Yesugei apologized for the death of Odysseus, saying there was no more he could do. He then turned and led the Refugees out of the world, to look further for a new home...
What Really HappenedEdit
The planet Chakhar was doomed. It had always been doomed. It had been doomed since the birth of civilization thousands of years ago. That warlike, violent civilization dominated the globe and led to four thousand years of warlords, chaos, and bloodshed. A hundred tiny empires locked in an eternal arms race, each trying to destroy all the others by any means necessary. The planet’s resources dwindled as the weapons became more and more destructive, and the continued survival of life on the planet seemed less and less likely.
That, of course, was before Yesugei. Yesugei was a true leader, born and destined to unite his people. He was a brilliant tactician and, more importantly, a magician. All Chakkans could use some degree of magic (for most, minor spatial manipulation), but Yesugei was a powerful mage. He could summon strange creatures to do battle for him, he could through enemy armies and emerge unscathed, and he could even make opposing generals’ hearts stop. He used his power to unify all the disparate tribes into one force. For the first time, there was peace on the planet of Chakhar.
But still, the planet was doomed. The Chakkans were too many, and the planet’s resources too few. Yesugei, in his desperation, settled on a plan. He would open a portal to a new world, and the Chakkans would move to that new world and settle it. It would be the start of a new age of peace and prosperity for the Chakkans. Unfortunately for Yesugei, the world he chose was already inhabited, and its inhabitants did not seem keen on giving up their world.
An advance scouting party led by Yesugei’s apprentice and vice-commander, Batu-Dai, brought back a captive. He was, unbeknownst to them, a Knight, a form of magic-using warrior. He saw that these strange warlike beings planned to try to take his home, and he fought back. He managed to fight his way out of his captivity, and managed to reach Yesugei. The two dueled for some time, and eventually both fell into the open portal. Without Yesugei holding it open, the portal immediately snapped shut. Neither Yesugei nor the Knight was ever seen again.
Without Yesugei’s leadership, Chakhar quickly fell once more to chaos. New warlords arose, new generals, new weapons of war. However, the energy Yesugei had put into building and maintaining the portals meant that the planet was now truly dying. Entire peoples began to die out, and the Chakkan population began dwindling. Chakhar was well and truly doomed.
After many years of desperate research and study, Batu-Dai managed to open a portal. He was able to keep the portal open long enough for himself and his chosen band of warriors, as well as their families, to pass through to Earth. Now they seek the Knight who single-handedly destroyed any chance for peace on Chakhar and directly caused the destruction of the Chakkan people, and with him, Yesugei.
- Odysseus - Starr Nader
- Juggernaut - Flak
- Arrowhead - Sasha
- Raven -
- Isonade - Makoto Yuan
- Ironwood - Jesse Riemer
- Forge - Nate Snyder
- Journeyman - Tomasz Sakredj
- Obsidian - Huntly Morrison
- The Hermit - Aviv Adler
- Tide - Jamie Pines
- Lock - Noah Teller
- Sage - Bryan Ransil
Summoners and SummonsEdit
- Nod - Ben Schwartz
- Brushstrokes - Allison Carniglia
- Bhasad, psychotic bluebird - Katie Cunico
- Saber - Shira DeCovnick
- Amethyst - Rose
- Meia, mad fae - Asia
- Aurora - Gabrielle Goodbar
- Benedict - James Conklin
- Feija - Khy Manuso
- Count Loveless - Sam Douglas
- Marras - Brad
- Puripnéon Enthumos - Virginia
- The Beast - Jeremy Dolinko
- Vena - Lukas Holst
- Count Zagan - Reed Peck-Kriss
- Batu-Dai - Oren Stevens
- Lukas Roots
- Kevin Walters
- Jonathan Huey
- Grant Merill