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'King of Shreds and Patches' modified

Posted by Madam30th , 31 July 2011 · 642 views

Last week I ran 'King of shreds and patches' with my regular gaming group.

I always liked the scenario but wanted to change some aspects which I felt where a bit internally inconsistent. Recently, I felt even more the need to modify it in order to bring it a bit more in line with the contemporary views of Hastur, as presented in the 'Delta Green' and 'Tatters of the King'.

The game played out really well so I thought I'd share the changes here on the forum, in case they may be useful to other keepers.

The main problem in 'King of Shreds and Patches' is that the place of worship is underground, when in the Tatters of the King it is stated that any Hastur-related spell can only be cast with Aldebaran visible in the sky. I didn't really like the D&D-ish aspect of crawling about caves anyways, so I switched the ritual to outdoors. I decided to put it downstream from London, in Greenwich, and that the village was the original site of worship in Roman times. This led to a few cosmetic changes in other bits of the scenario: no key to be found on van der Wyck, no problem of where the 200-odd cultists would come from (villagers as cultists indocrinated by Barker) and how no one would notice the visits to the site described in diaries.

Another major change involved the scene where Lucy is taken away by Barker: I had him there alone, with a Byakhee on hold to fly away, with the fogy St James Park providing a great settting for the players to get really spooked by Barker's power.

Lastly, I noticed a lot of incosistencies in the plot and ironed them out:
-why would Marijn Berents visit van der Wyck first and stay for 2 weeks without contacting Lucy? Why wouldn't they meet immediately? How did Lucy manage to send a message to troubled Holland and get a reply so quickly about Marijn having departed as planned? To eliminate these problems, I changed the story so that there was no direct connection between the Berents and van der Wyck. van der Wyck was a goldsmith and jewelry merchant who ran his own ship between Amsterdam and London to get supplies. Berents wanted to send Marijn away to live with Lucy due to the unrest in the Netherlands but when Marijn was not arriving when expected, Lucy sent word to her father who replied that she had left as planned, securing transfer on the ship of a respectable merchant called Van Der Wyck, with a shop on London Bridge.

-why would van der Wyck kill Marijn in his cellar just prior to the ritual when they need 3 victims, especially if she was akin to Lucy who was deemed very powerful and a great potential sacrifice? I had the characters find a pile of female clothes and Marijn's pendant, but upon inspection of the cameo they could see that the dead woman was someone else (a village-girl van der Wyck found trading on south bank and tricked into following him). This obviously necessitated van der Wyck leaving with two big chests...

-the timeline of Barker's life, in particular his study with Dee is inconsistent with historical facts. He cannot both be in his early 30s and a student of Dee and Kelley 12 years ago - at that time, Kelley was in Bohemia, separate from Dee, their research into Enochian through crystal scrying over a long time ago. I made Barker 38 years old and that he came to study with Kelley and Dee in 1582 and their falling out may have led to Dee and Kelley leaving for the continent in 1583.

-The story of the throne in Barker's house needed a bit of historical spicing up: I re-wrote the handout so that the author says how he had the Chocho sent to him as he wanted to reassert the importance of Rome and how upon revealing his evil worship he tortured him and got out the secrets of the jewels. Then you can see he ordered his servant Leonardo to fashion the jewels. Signature: Cesare Borgia, in 1503.

-Why would Barker get Dee to be merely among the cultists, which Hastur picks up with his tentacles and rips to bits throughout the ritual? More importantly, why would Dee accept such a lame deal? I had Barker and Dee (who was intimidated by Barker) conduct the main ritual, with van der Wyck likely to get killed or apprehended during the attack at the Globe. The perceived betrayal by Dee had a really strong impact on the players. The three sacrifices were Lucy, Marijn Berents and a third woman of similar beautiful and dignified looks that Barker had also courted and then kidnapped.

I also changed some aspects of the characters and gave them somewhat different tie-ins to some story elements.

I removed all aspects of the characters personality and just left their histories, in order to give the players more freedom to define them as they see fit. I removed the servant character and had the characters connected as a group of bachelors who are art-lovers and spend a lot of time together. In order to add a bit of quirkiness, I made Simon Page to be typecast as playing the female lead, which he resents and wants to get out of. I also made Henry Russel an amateur composer, to make him a bit less dour. Fletcher was best friends with Simon Page, whos poetry he published, while Simon Page was friends from Cambridge with Henry Russel and Matthew Holland.

The scenario worked a treat and the outcome was quite fun: they saved Lucy who then married Fletcher, Simon Page joined the Globe and got the role of Ophelia, while Will Page and Henry Russel robbed both van der Wycks and Barker's houses (sadly, not the throne... they ran like hell when the King started forming out of smoke) and invested it in the east India trading company.

We were greatly helped in our game by Liza Picard's excellent, detailed book 'Elizabethan London' which I got off amazon second-hand at a very good price and whose section on medicine was particularly invaluable in fleshing out the current practices for the benefit of the player who had Matthew Holland as character.

If anyone wants to run the game in Serbian and would like my translated handouts, please drop me a message.

Hope this helps and enjoy the gaming!




Hello Madam,

Thanks very much for sharing this. I'm toying with the possibility of running this somewhere down the line. It seems to have a lot of potential - I was going to use it as a substitute for part 3 of Ripples from Carcosa, as 'flashbacks' in a classic era game (not 'Tatters'). I don't have Delta Green but I have been impressed with Tynes ideas and I'm very impressed with Tatters of the King (which I also hope to run sometime). As you did, I'd like to polish up the treatment of Hastur/KiY for this otherwise promising scenario. Your tips about this and cleaning up the plot are appreciated. One thing I wasn't very keen on was the rather DnDish treatment of the KiY as a sort of monster who materialises at the throne to fight/frighten the investigators. It seems like a pale shadow of his far more subtle appearance in fiction and in Tatters. I shall make note of your comments here, they will be valuable when/if the time comes.

Don't speak Serbian though. Otherwise I would have been very interested in your handouts.
hi,

Thanks a lot for your positive comments. I also hope to run Tatters of the King sometime, I really liked the story.

I thought a lot myself about the scene in Barker's house: while I felt some kind of a mythos event was necessary to spur the play on, I wondered whether I should change the King's appearance into the Phantom of Truth form as given by Tyne, or whether I should consistently apply the mostrous form that is present in this scenario (van der Wyck's summoning, the parchment in the throne, the tentacled monster). I opted for the mist gathering in the shape of a very tall person AFTER they've read the parchment, which was enough to make the characters leg it. Had they stayed (a silly choice, after reading the story of apan tu), I would have had the King attempt to bewitch a character to sit on his lap and then to remove his mask and suck his life out with the tentacles. The King would not move from the throne. Hopefully the characters that did not go insane and run would have knocked the unfortunate out and made their escape at this point. I reasoned that this is appropriate as it is 1600s and the presence of monsters is much more immediate. If Hastur is derived from the subconcious (or acutely aware of it), then his manifestations in previous eras should take account of the contemporary ideas of what's surreal/unusual/scary. Tyne's subtle Hastur mythos is perfect for contemporary gaming and is certainly the way to go, but in older settings a cruder monstrous manifestation here or there doesn't create such dissonance.
Thanks, nice idea. I was thinking about making the KiY manifest through investigators sitting on the throne (and possibly drawing them into doing so). This could mean either
a. the investigator finds him/herself in Carcosa
b. the investigator is effectively possessed by the KiY who uses his/her body as a disposable puppet

BTW: I read an article by Tynes called 'The Road to Hali' which I enjoyed and I believe formed the basis of his developing ideas. Where would I find Tyne's DG ideas about Hastur/KiY?
Your players are very brave (or foolhardy?) if they are ready to contemplate sitting on a throne with a yellow sign!

Tynes treatment of the Hastur Mythos is published as a chapter in Delta Green: Countdown, it's a really interesting read and the whole book is consistently good in my opinion, so I would recommend it.