Dramatis Personae: Lucas Finch, British mathematician Patrick Richardson, British sportsman Rev. Calvin Reed Frank Moore, British Martial Artist Philip Murphy, British former thief Col. Roger Marsden, New Zealand Marine
SOE call in the investigators for a rather more mundane mission that what they're used to. Crothers wants them to safe guard a politician, Thomas Watson, his wife Nancy and their daughter Abbey. He believes that the politician has attracted attention from some sort of foreign power and may be assassinated. Their meetings with Crothers have tended towards the adversarial with neither side trusting each other to any great deal. They however fail to to get any more information out of Crothers. They are also called in to see N
Entering Network N's HQ they meet a couple leaving, obviously on another mission for N. N has heard word that a hunting enthusiast, Colonel Aberneathy is running hunting trips in the London underground that may be connected with the increase in ghoul activity and a number of disappearances. They are to stop these trips, eliminate the Colonel and his team, preferably without anything being tied to them. He is often found in The World Explorers club with his entourage.
They meet with Thomas and his family and immediately set up rotations of guards round the house. They also agree that one of them will remain with Thomas when he goes into his office the following day. They question his wife and she passes on that she is concerned and that there was a strange incident with visitors to the house. The Summersbys had come for dinner the previous week and when they had left she had noticed that they appeared to have a shadow round them or another image.
The next day one of them accompanied Thomas on the tube system to work and had to defend him against an attacker, who appeared to be a WW1 veteran. Another member stayed in the house while a third group went to meet the Summersbys. They met them but didn't get much information, and they appeared to be in a hurry to go so they were written off as a red herring. The member left in the house discovered that Thomas was on a committee looking at religious standards and had received correspondence compelling him to side with Lord Summersby on a cult known as the Brotherhood of the Skin represented by a member of the Turkish embassy. Once their return they switched things up and a different member stayed behind. They decided to scope out the underground station. This lead them to staying till the stations closed and trying to break in. What followed next was chaotic, ridiculous and hilarious as they failed at hiding from the police who chased them into the station, they faked leaving to throw them off the scent, getting locked in, spent the next 45 minutes discussing whether they could set fire to a mop as no one thought to bring a torch (result of said conversation: They couldn't!), got lost and scared in the tunnels, and finally left having learnt that they had gone to the wrong station!
The next day was in a similar vein as one group went to the Turkish embassy and spooked the Brotherhood of the Skin member forcing him to lead them to his master. What followed next was a disaster of an interrogation in which they tried to shoot him at close range, fluffed got attacked by his fellow cultists and legged it having learnt very little. The next group attended the explorers club and met with Aberneathy. They arranged to join his hunting party in the underground but he remained cagey about the nature of the hunt. They then ignored this thinking it was sorted until three later when they take part in the hunt.
That night two of the investigators stayed up to guard the house. They heard Abbey enjoying a midnight tea party with her dollies. One of them looked outside in time to see a thick fog rolling in covering the street and making seeing outside next to impossible. One of them opened the front door, took a step outside and ran back in, bolting it firmly behind them. They then heard a disturbance from Abbey's room. Running up they heard her talking still to one of her dolls remarking how lovely it was that she had grown so tall. Opening the door they find themselves face to face with a doll with its limbs twisted out of proportion and stretched with its porcelain hands, smashed and reformed so they are normal sized but the chips of china suspended in some unnatural force, the hands now wrapped round the little girls neck! Its at this point things go a little wrong for the two heroes. Col Marsden had a serious sanity wibble, forcing him to copy the actions of his fellow helper Philip Murphy. Philip takes a shot at the doll, but his gun malfunctions jamming in the process, he throws it to the ground. Marsden then takes a shot with his pistol. He also has a shocker but not enough to cause his gun to malfunction but enough to possibly hit someone else in the room... that perhaps was being held by the doll... which he did... Poor Abbey! He then threw his perfectly working gun on the ground. The rest of the investigators come running in and while some stabilise Abbey the others attack the doll. They are able to destroy it and find out the doll was a present from the Summersbys. The Watsons take Abbey to hospital with some of the investigators.
There two different groups try to kill the Watsons. One group is made of up of Turkish men. They attack head on and the investigators lock themselves in the ward with the Watsons and two nurses and a doctor. Thomas Watson has been stabbed by the first group who are now engaged by the investigators who were left outside. However in the room, Patrick Richardson notices that the attention being delivered by the Doctor isn't in the best interest of the patient. He stops him, only for the doctors face to begin to melt like modelling clay off his skull. The same thing happens to the two nurses revealing men instead of women. The fight continues with the investigators trying to defend the patients and kill the attackers. They manage it and make the decision not to search them.
The Watsons are now in secure custody with all requiring medical attention, psychiatric intervention or both! This frees the investigators up to go on their hunt. They meet Aberneathy and he divides them, some will go to one site while the others will come with him to a different site. The ones at the first site are tailed by some of the investigators. There they find them hunting ghouls. Part of their mission from N was re-establish wards to keep the ghouls from leaving this part of the tunnel system, which they do before hearing a scuffle and finding one of Aberneathy's hunters. They question him and find out where the second site was.
At the second site they trek through underground tunnels before branching off onto a disused section. There they encounter an entity that appears like a giant spider made from human skin and its multiple legs are a mishmash of men and women's. The gestalt attacks the party and is able to heal from their gunshot wounds although powder that the Col. throws has some impact. Throwing their lanterns has more impact and the flames begin to burn holes in the entity. Accompanied by the investigators from the ghoul site they defeat it, taking some serious damage in the process. Following the tunnel along they find an abandoned station and signs that people had been here. Going up to the ground level they find themselves in a gentlemans club known as the Old Guard Club. But it has been abandoned by its owners the Summersbys. They have managed a victory but not a total one, questions still remain!
Keeper's Thoughts: So this was a bit of a weird one! I tried everything to get them to investigate the Old Guard but they just wouldn't bite! As a result they completely missed big chunks of the storyline including missing out on taking out one of the bringers of chaos. The final conflict had one of the guys taking a minor huff as he felt he was being picked on (he made bad rolls and I was rolling well) which I didn't handle well, I flubbed some rolls so his character didn't die. Still a fun one but as a keeper its now given me a bad guy that I didn't expect. The idea was that the Summersbys had an idea of how they felt the war should be being fought but as they were too old they were being ignored. They had adopted one of the Bringers from Von Smitt's orphanage and she was a very powerful, but very juvenile, witch. She had stolen some of the spells from the Brotherhood of the skin and had been stealing the youth from people in the underground to give to her parents cronies, the Old Guard Club. The Old Guard Club was suddenly being rejuvenated by these new youthful members and were starting to take important positions with in the war effort except from one old soldier who was still resisting. The club had bought the abandoned tube station and the Summersbys had put their daughter in a playroom in the station while the club existed on ground level. Anita Summersby, the daughter, had been experimenting with the brotherhoods spells and had made the gestalt and was trying to make a second to send into the underground during an air raid with the intention of creating a large sacrifice to the Tick Tock Man.
Next our heroes head for Paris, France and the mystery of the Winter Box!
Dramatis Personae Dr. Felix Vaber, French archaeologist Lucas Finch, British mathematician Patrick Richardson, British sportsman Rev. Calvin Reed Frank Moore, British Martial Artist Philip Murphy, British former thief Col. Roger Marsden, New Zealand Marine
After returning from adventures at sea the team were ready for a rest but alas duty calls. They were debriefed on the rescue ship by Crothers, their SOE handler and any wounds treated. They arrive back in London only to be met by N's bodyguard, a large man with a scarred face and an eyepatch. Though exhausted they go with him, tiredness doesn't take away the fear of his master.
Climbing the stairs they hear an angry one way exchange. Entering the room they find N on the phone. "... Damn it all man I'm a senior civil servant and I'm not asking, I'm telling you to recall them... Hello? Hello? DAMN IT!". N explains that since they were abducted by SOE things had progressed. Some bureaucratic minion had thought it best to send a group of evacuees to the Batersby House. Batersby House had been a children's home operated by Von Smitt's toy company so the guess was that there was something sinister. There had been an incident in 1922 but details had been covered up. They needed to bring the evacuees back!
The investigators fly into RAF Invergordon, a short hop away from Avoch the nearest village to the causeway that would take them to the island Batersby House sits on. They do a bit of digging and discover from the local minister, that all the children bar a handful had died in 1922 after the staff went mad. He himself had adopted one of the survivors.
The investigators had to wait until the causeway was open before making their way across. There they discovered the house in disarray and the children scattered. The ones that were gathered they sent back across to the church in Avoch with the only member of 4 staff that came over with the evacuees. Half the party decided to explore the grounds while the other half checked the house.
The three exploring the grounds came across some of the children hiding in a cottage in the grounds and were set upon by a young man, recently escaped from the Inverness Care Home for the Mentally Deranged, while exploring a light house. Dr. Felix Vaber found himself on the end of a wire noose but his fellow investigators were able to rescue him before he found his neck stretched! They also discovered the bodies of two of the other members of staff.
The three in the house found the children but also evidence of some of what happened leading to the 1922 incident. Dr. Corbitt and his staff were experimenting on the children for Von Smitt but Dr. Corbitt also seemed interested in his own experiment which had caused tension between the two mentalists. Each of the four houses in the children's home had a different experiment running: one to encourage a child who would manipulate other children, one to bring out latent magical ability in new and terrifying ways, another to inspire a child to push for purity at all cost and the last to extinguish all love and compassion from their upbringing. Dr. Corbitt's experiment was to increase his own psychic ability. The investigators were attacked several times: gym equipment flung itself at the investigators, a bed threatened to knock one out of a window and bed sheets tried to force themselves in an effort to smother the group. They did take out a scroll box they found hidden in the staff quarters.
The two groups met together again with the first group counting themselves lucky that they went to stretch their legs. Both groups decided to send the children they had found back to the church on Avoch with one of the investigators (he couldn't make the second session). They came to the crushing realisation that the remaining children were probably in the creepy basement, the group who had explored the house felt that maybe they could be excused? But alas no one was in the mood to hear their complaints. Opening the basement door with a key found in the lighthouse they moved further in and discovered two of the children staring blankly at a central wall. Their efforts to remove them found found one investigator struggling for consciousness. "Maybe we should just leave them for the moment?". Everyone agreed that that would be a good call.
They continued to find children all staring towards this central space but so far found no door. All of the investigators found a faint itch at the corner of their psyche but one in particular found that a voice other than his own in his head. They were attacked by the remaining member of staff who had accompanied the evacuees but were able to put him down. "I wonder what came over him" wondered all but one of them! They eventually found a bricked up doorway were able to push through the bricks into a hidden laboratory.
Inside the lab they found the prone body of Dr. Corbitt, not buried in the grounds as previously thought but hooked up to machinery in the basement. Everyone reacted in shock when he seemed to hoover to his feet. There was only one way to deal with it... shoot him repeatedly! Except one of their bruisers seemed to not want to target the evil doctor but his team mates. Nurmerous combat rounds saw Corbitt injured but still wailing round him, Thomas Richardson firing his shotgun at everyone who Corbitt whispered to him to fire at, Lucas Finch conscious but fading fast, former marine Col. Marsden unconscious and Philip, their thief bleeding out and in need of medical attention. Unfortunately Philip was put beyond medical attention when Patrick turned his shotgun on his fallen friend. Lucas had to be talked out of a suicide run on Crobitt with a pair of grenades. A round of firing from the remaining investigators proved too much for Corbitts psychic ability to hold back and he died, freeing the children and forcing Patrick to see the full extent of what he had done.
The next day the investigators were brought before N for debriefing. The scroll case contained accounts of the Tick Tock Man having 4 bringers of chaos compete to bring him the best sacrifices they could. The process of anointing the four had been replicated in that basement. It looked like chaos would once again descend!
Keeper's Notes: Went well. I had done this one as my investigators had become reliant on heavy weapons so i wanted them to see that sometimes having a shotgun or grenades can lead to death. As a result Philip Murphy died, a character that had been around since when I started running CoC games and others barely survived. It served as a good starting point for the campaign they are now doing "To play, To die" with them now being aware of the four chaos bringers. They've already done the first session of the next adventure, Operation Piercing the Darkness. Alas poor Philip
So haven't updated this in ages but have played 4 stories since we last spoke! We made the move permanently to World War Cthulhu after the first two adventures. We use 7th edition stuff like pushing, spending Luck, advantage and disadvantage dice and combat. Some of them are using updated versions of their characters from their 1920s campaign.
Operation Home Fires: Investigating an unknown artifact in a Scottish Think Tank while hunting for a spy. Surrounded by mind-controlled ravens and giant man-bird things called Mithandril, the investigators used a combination of explosives and a fire-extinguisher to defeat them.
Operation Outreach: To Hungary to bring in an agent. However said agent is a cultist and N wants him dead. Once in Hungary they discover a Mi-go plot to use mythos creatures in possible conflicts. The investigators bury the Mi-go under a mountain in a mining village.
Operation Broken Toys: They are asked to assassinate a French officer during the retreat of the British Exploratory Force. While there they there they were to follow up the possibility that a villain, Kurtis Von Smitt, that had been active in the 1920s game we'd been playing had left a powerful artifact in a French Village. They discovered he had indeed but left a devilish game for them to play to get it. Through playing they discovered the artifact, a key to his demonic devices of worship to the Tick Tock Man called the "Compendium of 1001 games for little boys and girls", was actually one of four and the other 3 were gone. They barely escaped.
Operation Catch and Release: Picked up after a briefing from N, they were spurred away from their intended mission to help recover a missing ship filled with new technology by SOE big wig Cruthers. Once there they discovered that the British government were playing with otherworldly technology. The ship used a mechanical hook to drag the ship into another dimension. Unfortunately on its last trial the "Hook" brought something back, a parasitic dimension ruled by The Blood Tree, a sentient tree that sends its servitors onto the ship and kidnaps the crew. The rescue and recovery crew come under attack but manage to destroy the hook freeing the ship from the dimension once the linking machinery was destroyed.
On Friday they take part in Operation In Loco Parentis, a riff on the Haunting that takes place in an abandoned children's Home once ran by Von Smitt's minions (which will start off their campaign: "To Play, To Die")
The brave men of Saunderson Investigations find themselves once again gathered in the London office. Philip Murphy (thief), Paul Cook (Physics Professor) and Rev. Calvin Reed are joined have been joined by the brother of their late comrade, Thomas Richardson, Patrick Richardson. Col. Marsden has been called away indefinitely (player is working for an NGO in Afghanistan). They are approached by a Lord Sedgewick, as his daughter Felicity had gone missing. She had been missing for just under two weeks. He had tried the police but his daughter was 20 and he felt that they had put it on the back burner. Previous to this he had been forced to retrieve his daughter from a commune in Soho after she had refused to come home after a house party. When asked about the members of the commune, he was unhelpful believing them to be communists or some such left wing nonsense.
The group head to Soho and find a shabby townhouse in a crappy part of town. Ringing the bell brings no answer. Philip and Patrick check round the back and after some discussion decide to pick the lock of the back door. This fails horribly. Patrick takes over and crashes through the door. Still there appears to be no sign of life. They check the rooms on the ground floor starting with the lounge. In there they find it set up almost like a church. On the mantelpiece are three carved angels. They also find a photo taped to the wall of a skyscraper. Checking the next floor they find it abandoned . The third floor reveals a young woman, sobbing hysterically. In her hand is clutched a note and there's a bag by the mattress she's lying on. They are unable to calm her so bring in their colleagues. Rev Reed calms her down using his calm pastoral style. The church of Celestrial knowledge have up sticks without her. She struggled to get the money on time that she needed. Professor Cook reads the note:
This is a special invite that I am sending only to those who show the most serious devotion to the cause of the angels. We are travelling to the New World to New York to start a new commune at the feet of the angels. A chapter of our order operates there, they have a centre on West 81st Street. We want you to be part of this noble effort. Prepare yourself to have contact with our winged friends, blessed sister. We will meet back at the commune on the 27th of this month, that gives you ten days to secure the funds needed to get you to the new world and help us set up a centre to communicate peacably with our Celestrial guardians.
In their holy name be praised
They have an idea now of where to go. After a brief discussion they decide to take Alyssia with them. They felt that she may give them an in with the New York church. They quickly head back to their offices and arrange travel. Saunderson Investigations has a New York office that can support them while in Manhattan. Rev. Reed has an idea though if Alice got a letter then maybe so did Felicity!
They head to the Sedgwick homestead to check through her room. Felicity's room is a strange mix of a child's and a young women's. Beside books on fairies and among a doll's house can be found Flapper dresses and make-up. Checking through the wardrobe they find a book called Genesis of Angels which Reed pockets for later. They search on and find correspondence between Michael and Celest (Felicity's angel name). Michael mentions a prison and a building called the Spirit of Progress Building with an address near the Singer Building.
The four men travel to New York with Alyssia in tow. On the ship Rev. Reed reads the Genesis of Angels. He finds a florid history of a race of angels who came to New York. The so called Lords of Manhattan were jealous of them and imprisoned them in New York. They want to get free but need help from those attuned to the Celestrial. The others study the ships library and add to their knowledge on natural history and anthropology.
In New York they head to the New York City branch of Saunderson Investigations. There Luicelle, the super helpful secretary, helps them settle in. They also meet Jim Murdoch, a man who knows a lot of people. They ask him to sort them out with weapons. They also show him the picture from the commune in Soho and he confirms their thinking that it's the Spirit of Progress Building.
Their next stop is the Spirit of Progress Building. Most of the building serves as cheap office space for start-up companies but there is an observation floor that is available for tourists. They their $5 dollars and ride to the top. The lobby at the top is decked out in black marble. There are doors at the corners of three walls north, east and west with the bank of elevators forming the south wall. On the non-elevator walls there are big golden panels with carvings of the Manhattan skyline and angels cast above the city. To one side of the northern wall is plaque that says "Angels over us by Colin Sayid, paid for by the Men who Made Manhattan." There is a logo of three capital Ms with the the tallest in bronze, the second in silver and the smallest in gold. The symbol is also embossed on a plate in the centre of the floor that looks like it maybe hinged. They also check the views from outside. There is a trapdoor labelled fire escape. They leave and are decided to visit the commune en masse tomorrow but in the meantime Patrick will observe it tonight just on the off chance.
At 10:00 Patrick observes three men go into the church of Celestrial Knowledge that look a bit beat up. Then at 11:30 Patrick feels a wave of extreme pressure, that makes him physically sick. The Rev and Dr. Cook in the Saunderson building feel a brief moment of pressure. Philip is on the tiles with Lucielle and doesn't feel anything.
The next day the team saddle up to go meet a cult. Patrick is still feeling rough. They bring Alyssia with them. The church is on the top three floors of an unassuming building on west 181st. They are buzzed up to the first of the churches floors and are met by Melody. Alyssia goes off to join the friends who left her behind. Melody turns to deal with the team. She offers them a counselling session of $10 or full membership for $400. The Rev. Having read Genesis of Angels thinks he maybe best placed to speak to the counsellor. He meets with Castiel, his counsellor. He drops in that he has read Genesis of the Angels. Castiel rushes out and returns with another man. The man questions Calvin about the book and decides he is serious. He introduces himself as the Metatron, the leader of the church. He tells Calvin that he has to swear off his friends and renounce all he has in order to join. Calvin agrees and goes out to his friends and says his goodbyes, all watched by Castiel.
Patrick, Paul and Philip take their illeratative selves off in shock at their friends actions. But they come to realise that he is maybe acting as a Trojan horse. They go and talk to Jim about the Men who Made Manhattan. Jim is able to tell them it's a a gentleman's club near Wall Street made up of Manhattan's elite business men. Philip and Patrick decide to play the club a visit. They are stopped at the door by one of the butlers. He refuses them entry. They decide to try the back and are stopped in the kitchens. They are able to convince them that they are reporters here to do a story but without credentials can't prove it. The butler dealing with them agrees to let them return if they can bring credentials. They immediately head to Jim to see if he can sort out some credentials for them. He agrees but has a bit to do on one of his own cases, a grave robbing of a Fredrick Bourne.
Paul heads over to keep watch on the church to ensure that they can see the comings and goings to the church. He settles himself at a small coffee shop opposite.
Calvin spends the day in mediation with the other church members. At one stage he tries to sneak up to the top floor to look at the Metatron's room but is caught and pleads ignorance. They are given a thin stew for dinner and that night gather on the roof for a service. The Metatron speaks to the assembled church members and whips them into a frenzy. He speaks to his followers about freeing the angels and how they will bring the angels to New York to purify the land. He unveils a device which he says will call the angels to them in two nights time. He states that the summoning machine was once broken but their lord provided the German to fix it and so in two days they can call the angels to them. But he promises to give them a taste and switches the machine on. Calvin feels an extreme build up of pressure which makes him sick but he's not the only one as other followers are sick and suffer nose bleeds. Observing outside Paul Cook feels the pressure build up but his constitution holds strong, blaming it on bad coffee.
The next day Patrick and Philip return with credentials to the club and get a guided tour. Paul is able to get the name of a member and enters as their guest. He immediately checks out a small museum on the 7th floor. There are memorials to members and staff who died in various conflicts and momentos of the clubs history. One entry catches his eye however. A photo of a group of the members in front of the Spirit of Progress Building and half of a wooden pole. The entry is labeled "They gave their lives to protect the skies". Beside the pole is a sign that says "May we never see the other half again". Patrick and Philip continue their tour but are stopped from looking at the top floor as it's only for the committee of the club. They however meet Paul and pretend to want to interview him for the article in private. The butler is persuaded to go about his duties. The trio sneak to the top floor and find the club minutes but also find a locked cupboard containing secret minutes. Around 1908 there is an entry that relates to creatures attacking builders working on skyscrapers. Initially they tried to hunt them but they couldn't kill them. So they came up with a plan. They would build a prison at the top of a skyscraper, the Spirit of Progress Building. They then dragged these creatures into the cells using wooden poles. The committee used the advice of a Saul Berkiwitz. He advised them to place a ward over Manhattan to stop further incursions. Three keys were required to operate the mechanism. These keys were hidden in the Wall Street underground. Armed with this info, the investigators skip out of the building and go to see Saul.
Meanwhile Calvin is trying to feign interest in meditation for the second day in a row. He manages during the afternoon session to get into the Metatron's room and sees the machine from the night before. Seeing the opportunity to kill two birds he tries to lift it above his head and dash his head in. Unfortunately it proves heavier than appearances and he struggles to hoist it and manages to make enough noise to wake the Metatron. He tries to bring it down on to the cult leaders head but he rolls to avoid it. The Metatron screams for Michael to help. Both men try to stop Calvin but he manages to escape to the roof. Calvin runs to try and jump to the next building but a poor diet and days of mediation took its toil and he hangs onto the lip of the next building. He desperately tries to hold on but feels him slipping. Suddenly a hand clamps onto his wrist. He looks into Castiel face and he says "I have you, brother".
Saul Berkiwitz shop is found in the ghetto. It looks grimey and extremely shabby. They go inside and look around. There is nothing remarkable about the occult store and none of the objects would suggest anything special. Saul is a born business man and tries to sell them trinkets. It's not till one of them mentions the ward that he becomes serious. They level with the shopkeeper and he opens up. He had been in contact with a customer who had said that he had been visited by someone who had given him the design for the summoning device. Saul recognised the angels as Harrowers, an angels of the Tick Tock Man. He helped the Men Who Made Manhattan design the prison and then worked the ward into the fabric of Manhattan. He followed the customers details and found the device. The customers body was recovered from the Hudson. The problem is that in 1920 a bomb in Wall Street has broken the ward. He is also aware that the device has been stolen. The three decide that based on this they should go to Wall Street and ensure the keys are still there. Saul is able to give them a key to get into the Wall Street vault.
The next day they head down to the Wall Street subway station. On the platform they see a door with the 3 Ms logo on it. Using Saul's key they find a series of corridors that lead to a combination safe, the whole way along they feel they are being watched. Typing in 1908 opens the box but the keys are gone. They don't have long to ponder this as they are soon joined by a rat. And another one. And another 2 or 3 thousand! This sea of rodents are controlled by man-rats. The investigators manage to escape them but not before one jumps them at the door. They drag him through and question him. Norris the man rat, tells them that 5 men came a couple of days ago and took the key. They killed two of them but the others got away. In a moment of sadism the investigators shoot Norris. When they get back on the platform they realise Norris's body has gone.
The three believe that the Spirit of Progress is their next stop. Just as they are about to get on the elevator to get to the top, they hear a click of a gun cocking. They turn to see church members holding them at gun point. They ride to the top at gunpoint. The doors open and they are met by the entire church in their Sunday best. Among them they recognise Alyssia and Felicity. They also see Calvin bound and gagged. The Metatron addresses one of his members, "Castiel go tell Michael to hurry". The member rushes outside and climbs a ladder to the roof. The Metatron squeals with delight "Brothers and sisters, now is our time, let's release the blessed ones". He and two others take out keys and turn them in the locks. The friezes slide across. Melody steps forward towards the cells, "Celestrial ones please come out and meet us?". A straggled form leaps from the cells, slamming the young woman to the ground. It's willowy limbs pin her while two tentacles weaver back and forth. It rips out Melody's throat with its needle like teeth. The other young women scream, Patrick looks like he's about to collapse but holds it together. Other Harrowers have made their way out and start circling the group. One of the other cultists tries to push Alyssia towards a Harrower but it jumps on him instead. The room turns into a blood bath. The Metatron just sits among it all laughing hysterically. Our heroes stop to grab their guns. They dodge through the maelstrom to Calvin and release him. They task Patrick with making a play for Felicity while they take down Michael and the machine and open the fire escape. Patrick darts through and is able to secure Felicity but decides not to rescue another girl, huddled with her. Philip sets to work on the lock on the fire escape while Calvin and Paul take shots at Michael. Philip opens the lock as Patrick joins the others with their charge. A perfect shot from Calvin finishes him off and as he falls he takes the machine with him (he rolled a 001, he deserved a treat). The investigators make a break for it with the the Harrowers now coming after them. They charge along the fire escape and Patrick shoulder charges the door. Inside they try to find a way down with Patrick, Calvin and Felicity out in front. A Harrower catches up with Paul and Philip but a bullet from Philip puts it off. The three in front again force their way through a door to find another elevator. Another two Harrowers catch up with Dr. Cook and Philip Murphy, another two shots slow them but the the third catches Dr. Cook with its tentacles. The shot removes most of his jaw and he falls unconscious. Philip Murphy is able to hoist him over his shoulder and runs on. Calvin Reed sees the Harrower again about to strike and takes aim. A perfect shot causes it to fall back. They manage to get into the lift and hit ground floor. As the lift descends, shock sets in.
The doors open and they find themselves facing a wall of guns. The guns are held by possible mob types and heavies. Saul pushes his way to the front and is able to talk them out of firing. Medical attention is found for Dr. Cook. Saul explains that after their meeting he went to see the 3 Ms and convinced them to help. Now however they want to talk to the investigators. Saul takes them outside and they meet with John Rockerfeller Jr., the current chairperson. He thanks the investigators for destroying the summoning machine but doesn't thank them for not stopping the Harrowers from being released. He has had to bring in other measures. He also states that there is a major problem now with those who dwell below, that they're now up in arms and demanding blood. He wants them to leave New York immediately. They have been booked on a ship that will leave that night. He ends by telling them they are no longer welcome in New York. Dr Cooks treatment would continue on board ship.
I really enjoyed this one as did my investigators. They did a great except for the death of Norris, which was needless and was a bit cruel and letting the cultist die on top of the building. Still thinking about how to handle the reprocussions of at least Norris. I really didn't see them bringing Alyssia/Alice to New York. It was like they decided she was too safe so decided to endanger her!
Might give them a break next session with one of Paranoia just to shift things around a bit and let them loose a bit with little consequences!
The Edinburgh branch of Saunderson Investigations stepped off the train. They were down to meet with their London colleagues. They knew they had just suffered the loss of one of their number and felt that their visit could raise morale. The Edinburgh contingent consisted of Philip Murphy, ex-thief and Col. Antony Marsden. The London stable, still reeling from the death of Robert Bryson at the paws of the Hound in Sleetmoor Manor, consisted of the Rev. Calvin Reed, Thomas Richardson and stage magician Peter White.
The meeting began well, introductions were made and they began to discuss the best way to disembowel a man. One of the office runners came up to inform them that they had a visitor. The visitor was a Professor Wilkinson to see Dr. Cook. Dr. Cook was not at the gathering after being forced to remain in bed with a nasty case of the flu. The London branch immediately recognised the name however as being the man who helped them gain access to the British museum in their last case. They had him admitted to their company. He seemed extremely flustered and unsettled. After exchanging pleasantries the professor explained that he needed help. A colleague had received an invite to view the infamous Von Smitt Collection. It apparently contains a much sought after Norman era document. Wilkinson however had his concerns about Von Smitt. The elusive toymaker apparently had the most amazing collection of rare books but letters to view the collection fell on deaf ears. Instead there were rumours of academics who had received invites but they promptly disappeared. Wilkinson had tried to warn professor Stuart but all he could see was the opportunity to advance his career. Wilkinson asks if they could even research Von Smitt so he can reason with Stuart.
The investigators head to check out newspaper archives. The London team searched for Von Smitt and discovered that their toymaker was an expert in clockwork, he had visited the palace gifting the palace children with wind-up spiders and a couple of weeks later the royal children became ill. The Edinburgh group went after Gear House, Von Smitts residence. They discovered the house was designed by Von Smitt himself and he had gone through 4 builders, with one commenting on the strangeness of the build.
As the two groups share info, a messenger arrives with a telegram for the team from Wilkinson. Professor Stuart had left earlier that day with 5 students to make use of the invite. He implores them to go after him. Gear House is situated in Windsor and is hidden behind an imposing brick wall topped with broken glass. The gate is a work of art in its self. A mass of gears and cogs arranged beautifully in cast iron. Beside the gate is a panel with five dials, 4 have numbers 0-9 engraved round them, the 5th has number of guests written above it. Below the dials is an open space, inside which is a metal plate with the image of a hand printed on it. After some discussion Peter White places his hand on the plate. He finds his hand clamped in place. They put in a code Wilkinson said had been on the invite. The gates open and Peters hand is released in tact. The group enter into the grounds and as the gates close, they consider if they have made the right move. They walk round the outside of the house to get an idea of the layout. Most of the windows are heavily barred and the back door is without a handle and is locked solid. They also find a glassed building attached near the back of the building which could be a swimming pool.
The front door is a heavy wooden effort with no apparent lock but it's unable to be opened. Above the door is a strange figure. It appears to be a radio but with the dials and knobs arranged into a face. They press the doorbell and the door swings open. The party walk inside, almost sure they're walking to a trap. As they step in they view the large hallway, decked out in a classic style. There are two rooms on the left with a darkened corridor running to the back of the house. There's another door to the right and a set of stairs leading to a small landing before continuing to the first floor. On the landing is a grandfather clock. As they the door starts to close, three figures run from upstairs screaming to stop the door. Unfortunately their warning comes too late and the door closes. The three students (Stephen Payne, Martha McCrue and Arthur Simpson) explain that they came with Prof. Stuart and found themselves trapped. They split up to find someone or to see if they could get a way out. Professor Stuart headed up to look at the clock while the other two students headed upstairs to look around. The students were startled when the room on the left opened. Professor Stuart took the other two into the room. A few minutes later they heard a cry of pain, followed by the scream of the other female student. There was nothing but silence after that.
The Edinburgh team investigate the clock on the landing. In terms of design it resembles a standard grandfather clock except that it's constructed entirely from metal. The front plate is made of a sheet of glass. The clock face is standard but it only has one hand. There is a 1 inch slit under the face. Engraved on the glass plate is the following verse:
Welcome to my humble home
I hope you enjoy your stay
To divert you while your time ticks on
I have some games to play
To start of the festivities and push on the clock hands
Simply press the buttons in the rooms
To leave the house as planned
Now to begin our little game
There's a button down below
The Tick Tock Man awaits his players
Please press GO
"Please press Go" is written round a button built onto the clock. With no other option the players press the button. They hear a click coming from the first door on the left and they see it's opened. The team decide to split with Philip Murphy and Rev. Reid going into investigate. They also take Arthur Simpson with him, he had shown cooncern for Millie the female student who had gone with Prof Stuart. The three find themselves in a standard Drawing room, with a bar on one side and plenty of seats, heavy drapes surround the outside. Looking intently at the bar they find spots of blood. On the bar is a bell with a "Please ring for Service" sign propped against it. With trepidation they ring it. One of the sets of curtains gets flung aside. A figure dressed in Butlers garb jerkily steps out from an alcove. His face is blank except for a curly mustache painted on the faceplate. "Can I take your coat or take your hat?" It asks, repeatedly. It moves towards the bar. Arthur Simpson starts to panic and screams "Where's Millie?" The automaton reaches the young student and clamps it's hands either side of his head and he screams as pressure is placed on his skull. The investigators start by trying to distract it but when that fails they try to prise its hands apart. Alas their effort is in vain and it collapses his skull like an egg. The investigators fall back. Rev. Reed takes a shot with his handgun but the bullet pings off it, it's inner shell obviously bullet proof. The clockwork man grabs Reed's wrist. Philip Murphy looks around for a button to open the door. He is struck by the fact that the only place not searched is the alcove. Looking in he sees a button. Reed struggles to break the grip of the metal man but at the last possible moment he pulls out of his hand. The door opens when Philip hits the button. The two rush out of the room and they hear it slam behind them. The clock on the landing strikes 1 and they hear another door open.
This time they all decide to go and they keep the students in the hallway with Peter White. This room is clearly a dining room with a large table set for 8 people with some sort of soup laid for each setting. A metal covering sits in the centre of the table but it cannot be removed. Written on the wall they entered in is a mural:
" In lost Carcosa's hallowed halls
the court sat down to dine
The assembled gave merry,
"We praise the King in Yellow
and long live his mighty reign"
He silenced his court and addressed them:
"Who among you is wise?
Around my table is set 7 places
For those who claim to be my closest
But only one can truly be my counsellor
So step forward if you'd call me friend
And take your rightful place
but be warned
The fate of false friends will be death
So 7 joined the king at table
7 would be true
But only two would rise again
When the meal was through
The king addressed his wife
As she was the last survivor
"How did you know my dear
Where was the place to sit?"
She smiled as she addressed her love
"My king is strong so his place is poisoned
Otherwise how can he rule
And while it's said keep your friends close
It's true your enemies closer still
The seat opposite my lord
Is reserved for the one
he needs to watch the most
And either side of that
Are the plotters chairs
Which leads to two choices
Left a sign of frailty
And not a voice fit to be heard by a king
So all that's left is one spot
Hail Haster, my king"
Based on the poem and the fact that one of the chairs had its design picked out in yellow, the investigators choose what they think is the right chair. Col Marsden sits down and finds himself clamped into the chair and thrust towards the table. There's a tense moment before someone is brave enough to try the metal covering and find it's now loose. Under the cover is another button. Pressing it opens the door and again the clock strikes 2.
As they walk out the students are able to say that the door on the right hand side of the entrance hall opened. The investigators gingerly walk into the rooms along with Peter and the two students. A line of stuffed animal heads are hung on one wall, on the other is a case filled with stuffed birds. At the front is a lion perfectly preserved, while at the back are two bears. A gun rack is also featured at the front beside an obvious hole where a button should be. Many theories were bandied round about this room could be defeated. Col. Marsden decides that the birds are the answer and begins rearranging them. Rev. Reid looks at the gun rack and decides he needs an elephant gun. As he lifts it there's an audible click. The lion lets out a tinny roar before stepping down off its plinth. Three birds perched come to life as do the bears. The investigators take to the fight. Thomas Richardson, normally his teams fighting master, manages to break his shotgun and swings the wooden stock like a club missing everyone before being severely mauled by one of the bears. The rest tear into the lion, before turning on the bears. Col Marsden makes the birds his focus, taking some damage from the winged terrors. Peter Whites one contribution was to shoot Col. Marsden. On defeating the automated animals the investigators first aided Thomas and checked the remains of the animals. Among the cogs and gearing they discovered bits that didn't fit but did form a button the wall. Pressing this resulted in the door opening and a number of doors on the first floor opened.
The team go upstairs and find 4 bedrooms were opened. Four investigators took a room each. On the suggestion of a cross stitched picture they lay down on the beds. As they did, each felt a jab in their neck and drifted off. As Thomas Richardson came to, he realised that there was a second door in his room. He went through only to find himself in a replica of the initial room, as he stated to walk through the doors he became aware of a loud noise coming from one of the previous rooms. Checking it out he sees a familiar but horrific sight. The Hound they thought vanquished at Sleetmoor is following him, he runs as it gives chase. Rev. Reed finds the floor in his room has become lava. Col Marsden has found his face has become featureless. Philip Murphy finds duplicates of himself flooding his room but as space gets tighter he hears an odd noise, a clock ticking even though this version of the room doesn't have a clock. All four find their situations getting worse but some find themselves becoming more aware of this clock. Philip Murphy is the first to come to. As the tide of duplicates fills the room, Philip concentrates on the clock forcing himself to wake up. He wakes with a start and realises that lying on the bed has caused the button to slide out. He presses the button and his door opens, the clock ringing on. He immediately runs next door and hammers on the door. Col. Marsden hears this despite not having ears. He uses it to bring him round. He goes through the same procedure, pressing his button and releasing himself. The two bang on the door of Rev. Reed, he comes through. On leaving the room they go to save Thomas. Thomas has been backed into a corner, forced to hide in the wardrobe as the hound tears it's way through. The other three batter on the door desperately trying to bring their friend through. The hound breaks it's way into his hiding place. It swallows him whole. The door opens slowly and they see their friend laying on the bed, still. They press the button and are forced to leave him. At this last button being pressed the clock strikes and another door on this floor opens.
As they stand on the landing they hear the tinkly sounds of a music box lullaby. They now how deadly these games are now, and they want to get out alive with the students. Peter White decides to come with them as they're a man down. They walk cautiously down the hall and enter what appears to be a nursery. Any child would adore the room. One wall is shelving full of tin soldiers and tanks. The other is stocked with board games and a huge pile of cuddly toys. At the far end is the music box with a button on it and a chalk board. The chalk board says "it's not the button but it's a button". The investigators immediately suspect the soldiers and get ready for an onslaught. They press the button and the music stops. For a heartbeat they ready their guns to fire on the tin toys. The pile of stuffed bears explodes as a massive 6FT grey skinned mutant stands up, "WHY YOU WAKE ME.". It's dungarees look tight against the muscles and growths over its body. The monster hurled a chair at Peter. Three ready themselves to fire but Philip stops them. He noticed a duck embroidered on the dungarees and thought this is no monster. He talks to it firmly but kindly and he responds. Col Marsden notices two wires trailing from his back to the wall. He follows them to the button on his back. The button is padlocked onto his back but Philip is able to pick it and remove the harness. Frank, the creatures name, decides he wants to come too. They leave the room.
The unusual party come downstairs to hear there was a click down a small corridor past the dining room. Frank, rather taken with Martha, agrees to stay there. The four investigators make their way down the darkened corridor through another door to a kitchen. The kitchen is perfectly square and seems ordinary. The button is beside another door at the back of the room. Rev Reed takes a step into the room and is sprayed from a concealed nozzle in the roof. The chemical burns his skin. They sort him out as best they can and try to puzzle out the room. The floor is white marble with black stones inlaid in them. They also notice three cook books across the room, Julia Child's, Mrs Beaton and Fibonnacci? Rev. Reed pieces it together the larger tiles have different numbers of black tiles and when counted they matched the Fibonnacci sequence. Carefully they make their way across the room. Hitting the button and gaining access to the second door.
As the walk along this corridor they smell chlorine. They now have to visit the pool. The swimming pool has a giant frieze of an octopus on one wall, it's 8 legs stretching down the wall, along the side of the pool and into the pool. As they walk round the side they reach the far end they find a glass cylinder with two valves. Turning one activates a mechanism that drains the cylinder but also floods the room. Turning the second valve unscrews the front of the cylinder so they can push the button. As they press it the octopus springs to life it's arms lifting up and stretching across. The investigators are forced to dodge its limbs. Peter White and Col Marsden are a touch too slow and the octopus tries to lift them towards its beaky mouth. Marsden slips out but Peter is brought closer. Peter is sheared in two by the the beak. The three run out the new door that just opens in horror.
The new door opens onto a tight stairwell that goes to the top of the house. They enter the roof space but find themselves in a tiny space. One wall is made of concertinad metal. The other is an elaborate wooden carving of a spiders web with a series of holes cut out of it. A button is in the centre of the web. With nothing else for it they press it. The holes open and they hear the sound of lots of ratchets. The other wall drops revealing the long expanse of the attic. At the same time palm sized mechanical spiders pour out of the holes. The investigators run from the tide of tiny menaces. They are forced down tight spaces and to jump over debris before escaping.
Getting out of the roof space and sealing the door is a relief. Another set of stairs leads down to a library. This is the Von Smitt collection. The books cover all topics and are mostly rare editions or forgotten tomes. Looking through is an honour. They also find a secret door to Von Smitt's study. They find books relating to drugs, engineering and the occult. They find his journal which relates his dreaming visits from an entity known as the Tick Tock Man. He twists Von Smitts genius over time, he wanted devices that would provide sacrifices of souls of the intelligent. They also discover adoption papers for a 4 year old boy and a chemical formulae attached. They press the final button and exit onto the first floor.
They find the odd party of the students and Frank in the hall. The clock strikes 12 and a ticker tape is produced out of the clock. Reading it it says: "please leave, you have ruined my game. The staff will be released to clear up the mess." At this a click is heard from the side of the stairs. Looking down they see ghoulish figures appear from a hidden door. The party seeing enough flee!
The gates swing shut as you run outside. The "Staff" didn't get outside the door before it slammed shut. The gates remain closed, no one is quite brave enough to try the code again. Martha is crying on Arthur's shoulder while Frank, holding Martha's hand strokes her hair. While glad to get out, you can't help but think of the two who didn't make it out. The house looks even less inviting now you know the horror and misery contained within.
The funerals of Peter White and Thomas Richardson take place the following week. It's not the first time you've attended a funeral for a coffin filled with stones. Professor Wilkinson pays for the funerals as well as a small amount for their families. He was heartbroken that Peter and Thomas had died but was so grateful that you had rescued Martha and Arthur. Their families had provided Â£50 as payment, it was all they could afford. Frank is taken in by Martha's family, they live on a large farm where he can live out what life he can have. The government have become involved and believe they can relieve some of his pain but his mutations were too severe to remove.
On returning to Saunderson investigations they find a card waiting for them. On the front is a logo of three cogs geared together. Inside is the following message:
"I am writing to thank you for the two souls you provided for my benefactor, it was most unexpected. I did not remember inviting you to play our game but you have now become part of it. Hopefully you can replace the pieces you lost, while I lost pawns I believe you lost some more vital pieces. The house has been taken by a government player by the name of Stockton, I believe he intends to level it, a shame I had got it just how I liked it. Take care and I look forward to our second round.
Thought from the game:
All in all, it was great fun! It is a railroad due to its nature but the guys liked the puzzles. Three of them took part in Return of the Hound which ran three sessions and they were glad to move on. One of the group who played Peter was meant to come so we brought him along as an NPC. He never showed so when Thomas Richardson died he took control of Peter and promptly got him killed with some hideous rolls! Great fun had by all and a baddie who will strike again! We ran out of time towards the end so it was a bit rushed. It has manoeuvred things so we can start to work towards the campaign.
So this past Saturday I ran my first self-penned adventure for a group of friends. I have only ran published adventures so far and have had to do a great deal of work to be comfortable with running them. I am working on my magnum octopus campaign "Heir Apparent" but instead of jumping into it was advised by wiser heads on the forums to run some one-shots. I had planned to play Paranoia with them but received word that some had dropped out so decided to put fingers to Ipad and construct my own story. Due to me only having two hours to work on it some of the story is a bit obvious (especially around names of groups and books, I suddenly realised why Cameron called the mineral unobtainium in Avatar!). But we'll go with a narrative of what happened from my 3 investigators eyes.
General background: The three investigators work for a private detective firm Saunderson Investigations. They are part of a specific department that deals with the more unusual cases that need to be dealt with discreetly. My normal group work for the London branch but the three taking part in this work for the Edinburgh branch. The investigators are recruited having had some experience with the mythos but not understanding what it was so they want to find out more. The three investigators were: Philip Murphy (thief, during the course of a house breaking he found a mysterious gem that mesmerized him to the extent that he was discovered by the police the next morning, on his release he was offered a job), Dr. David Thompson (lecturer in anthropology, discovered repeated references to an entity know as dagon especially in island and seaside cultures and communities, can it be coincidence?) and Col. Antony Marsden (retired army, lost his entire squad after they became separated, they were set upon by small feral creatures that overwhelmed the soldiers, Marsden ran for his life and has never forgiven himself for his cowardice).
The story proper:
The group are contacted by Sir Angus Merryweather, chancellor of Edinburgh University. One of his staff, a folklorist by the name of Prof. Thomas Matthews has been killed. The police believe it to be the work of one his PhD students, Philip Goody as he has gone missing. Sir Angus is unconvinced believing that the police have chosen the simplest path. When questioned about the nature of Prof. Matthews work he is able to reveal he had been studying something with witches in Scotland. He is willing to pay handsomely for the truth to be uncovered.
The investigators start with a visit to the department. Prof. Matthews office is in the basement of the university and in one of the darkest corners. On entering his room they find another PhD student Melissa McDermott attempting to get his room in order. She is able to tell them that aside from his wallet a number of books on his current topic of witches and witch finders in Scotland are missing. She had done a bit of research for the professor on the subject and had looked at a book in Edinburgh library, "Ye Olde trials of the Witch Hunters" for the professor. On asking about Philip Goody, Melissa is adamant that he wouldn't have done, that the three of them were on good terms and in fact that in recent weeks Philip and the Professor were working on similar lines to do with a university society. Dr. Thompson was able to read between the lines that Melissa and Philip were more than friends and that her defence of him held a good deal of fondness for him. On asking about the society, Melissa spoke about a joint group between the anthropology department, in particular Professor Walters and Prof. Matthews called the Secrets of Scotland Society. The group was set up to discuss the ancient mysteries of Scotland and that she had initially been attending but had been made to feel less than welcome at the meetings so stopped, noting it had become a boys club. However over the last few weeks the professor and Philip seemed to have a falling out with the society. She never got to the nub of what had happened.
On looking closely at the room they found there appeared to be a lot of damage for just one person and that other more stealable items were still there. Before checking in with Professor Walters, Philip Murphy discovered a flier on the department noticeboard for the Secrets of Scotland Society, which mentioned they were due to meet at 8:00 that night in the Thistle and Haggis pub, near Cowgate.
Professor Walters is busy with a student when they enter his room. The student looks nervous at the interruption and makes to leave. Col. Marsden decides that this is inadvisable and threatens to shoot him when he tries to go. The student runs from the room threatening to get the police. Prof. Walters is furious and refuses to speak to them while the colonel is still there. When he does leave the remaining investigators have to do some fast talking and use some persuasion to get the professor to talk. He is mostly evasive and through his pronounced stutter relates that he found the professor was getting mixed up with some cult that met at the church of Contemplation, which was why they had fallen out at the society meeting. On the brief look round at his office they noticed that he had written a number of books seemingly on witch cults around the world and that he had locked his drawers securely. The investigators leave feeling an unease at the professor. But where was Col. Marsden?
On the leaving the professors room, he heard the sound of police whistles. Going outside he comes across three police officers talking with the harassed student. The more senior of the officers goes to speak with the Colonel after the student is able to point to him as being the man who threatened him. The colonel becomes quite difficult when the police question him, leading to the officer taking him into the station for a night in the cells, due to a lack of luck on the Colonel's part.
Despite having lost the colonel somewhere, our duo decide that the case needed to be resolved so head to Edinburgh library. Here Dr. Thompson is able to find the "Ye Olde Witch Trials..." book and learn that in the 18th century a witch hunters by the name of Matthew Payne operated in Scotland. One of his defining features was his blackthorn walking stick he carried with him. Upon finding a witch he would prick their finger on the stick and it was this blood, he claimed was what helped his divine abilities to search out witches. The book is in horrible condition and the Doctor is able to tell that there was more written but that a combination of mold and bad handling has damaged the relevant text.
Their next stop was to break into Professor Walters office. They find that the department is being locked for the dy and that the custodian is just locking the various office doors. The good doctor is able to hide in the shadows but our humble thief's skills momentarily leave him and he is caught in the corridor. He is however able to persuade him that he got lost after visiting a friend. The custodian guides him back out leaving the doctor in hiding. The doctor uses his position to let Philip back in and the thief is able to use his skills to open the Professors office and his desk drawers. There they find the journal of Thomas Payne. The doctors tremendous research skills come up trumps and is able to pick out that certain passages have been underlined. They learn that Matthew Payne did hunt witches but not for the crown. He was a witch himself and worshiped Shub-niggurath. His pricking of witch's fingers was his way of their drawing power into his staff. With this he would have access to more powerful spells. The last entry relates to a trial in Fort William but there are further sections missing.
The two leave the office and decide to check out the Secrets of Scotland Society meeting. In the pub they observe a number of students entering a back room. Philip successfully disguises himself as a student but on trying to enter the back room is told that it is a closed meeting. The two work out that the back room has a window that opens onto a back yard. With a combination of strength and stealth, Philip is able to be boosted up so that he can hear the conversation. The conversation centers around their inability to find something in Fortwilliam. One of voices states that they must find the it and the key to finding it was Philip. Someone else says that they've looked but cant find him. Well then, its stated, pressure would have to be put on the one person that might know where he was. They had to find that little bitch. Philip and the doctor decide that they're taking about Melissa. They have to protect her.
They are unable to find her that night but luck out the next morning in the library. However Dr. Thompson believes he sees the nervous student from Prof. Walters office but he seems to disappear. The two are able to persuade Melissa that they want to prove that Philip is innocent. She tells them that she has had contact with him at the pub his mother works in in Oldtown. The two decide that Melissa needs to be protected and should stay with them. At this point they realsied that the maybe the Colonel might be in the police station after his ill-advised gunplay. After Dr. Thompson flashes some cash the police officer agrees to let the headstrong colonel out.
On being filled in, the colonel decides that maybe they should check out the church of contemplation. The church is burnt out out although they get a funny headache from a symbol carved into the wall. Philip thinks he sees someone watching them but when he tries to give chase they lose him in the streets. The three take Melissa to Philip's mother's work to see if they can find Philip. They work out which of the waitresses is Philips mother but almost put her off when the Colonel's people skills get in the way. the Doctors persuasion wins out and they go to meet him but find he has been attacked. When he comes too with some successful first aid they learn that he was in the office with the professor when a group from the society came to threaten them. They accidentally killed the professor when one of them attempted to get violent with him. Philip ran taking one of the texts he knew that they wanted. He had it until someone led the group to his hiding place. The society has become obsessed with finding Payne's staff, believing it to be an item of power that could open them up to true power. Philip had the full version of the "Ye Olde Witch Trial..." which stated that he Payne had been finished his trialing at Cooper. When he checks he realises they took the book when they attacked him The three persuade Philip to stay hidden and to take Melissa. They had to visit Cooper.
In Cooper they find its a small village. They visit the local pub to book rooms and head to the village shop. There they pick up some supplies but hear some of the villagers discussing that two of the local girls have gone missing. Hearing this they become concerned that something maybe afoot.
Outside the local church they are nearly knocked over by a burley Scot named McTavish, being shouted at by the local minister. The minister realising that he has an audience becomes quieter. Thinking that Payne may have been buried with his staff try to look inside the church but the minister is dismissive and says that they can't search the crypt as it is unsafe. He is surley and blunt and not matter what they try they can't get a look in the crypt.
Deciding to look elsewhere, they find a small witch museum run by an enthusastic curator. Mr. McClaran is very excited about his subject and mentions the legends of a famous witchfinder who operated locally. After showing some interest the curator shows them his latest acquisition the McTavish family record. Apparently it contains the story of what occured when he visited and died in the village. Having some idea of when he visited, the investigators discovered the relevant entries fairly quickly. Payne had holded himself up in the village church with two of the local girls he claimed to be witches. By happy coincidence one of the girls was a McTavish and the McTavishs would not hear of a family member being taken in such a way. They rallied their family and the family of the other girl, the McCredys, to attack the witchfinder and his enforcers. They killed the enforcers but almost were undone by the witchfinder himself who called down powerful spells on the men. He did however fall. The two families agreed to safeguard the staff and had it buried with one of the McCredy's who fell during the fight. The investigators now knew where it buried, it was now a case of were they too late.
Their buttering up of the curator meant that when they left it was dark. But surely with a thief sneaking into the church would be no problem?
*Bang* "Sorry dropped my torch!"
*Crash* "Who put that bin there?"
*MEAOWWWW* "Bloody cat!"
And so it continued. They had spotted some of the students around the grounds of the church so were fairly sure they might be on alert. They managed to "sneak" into the vestry, which they realised had already been broken into. The door into the church was open and they could see someone wearing robes on the other side. Our master thief came up trumps this time and managed to blackjack the student on the back of the head. Listening at the door they hear the man they believe to be the leader question the minister. Desperate to find out what was going on he was beating the minister. The investigators tried to put the thief in the robes but they were too small and it became clear that he would not pass. So they decided the direct approach was the best. The three had weapons and were preparing to attack when they heard a shout coming up from the crypt, they had found the staff. The three burst into the church and took aim. One goes down to the doctors shotgun and two others get winged by the Colonel and thief's pistols. A maddened shriek goes up from the leader and cries to followers "Blessed ARISE!"
The three remaining cultists start to change, their features becoming goat-like and they grow in stature. Their legs grow hairier and their knees almost invert. Our three investigators remain unphased however and steel themselves. Instead of taking aim at the goat like followers, they aim for the leader. Although his body brushes off a gunshot wound, the Doctor's shotgun staggers him, forcing him to take cover. The followers leap to take on the investigators but do little to stop them. Despite him casting spells on Philip and the Colonel, the doctor's shotgun proves too much for the leader. One final perfect shot cracks his skin and his innards stain the ground. The followers fall to the ground as thier bodies try to return to their natural form. They are able to unveil that the head of the cult was Prof. Walters. The staff can now be destroyed and a young man can be proven innocent (somehow, after all a lot of wittnesses are dead or a goat-man!).
What I learned:
This is a heck of a lot of fun! It suffered a bit from a lack of preparation, having been written over the course of 2 hours and was a bit of a railroad at times but the guys had a lot of fun! If I was doing it again I would work on the finale, it needs something more possibly just needs to be paced better and I don't think the blessed/human cultists were a big enough threat, but that did have something to do with me botching 4 rolls in a row for one of them leading to him almost killing himself. I think it also could have done with some more red herrings to throw them off the trail a bit. The end reads fast as it happened fast, we were running quite late into the night and the mood was interested but needed a resolution to finish it off. There also needs to be more viable candidates for the main bad guy.
Some of the elements link into my campaign and it was nice to see how they could fit in and could be later used for other stories. Any feedback happily received!