Colonel Williams and Frank Patterson were clearly running out of patience. Who was this irritating mustache man who so eagerly watched their conversation with Professor Smith? And why did he run away when he was noticed? Time to find out. They were getting ready to bust the door to the antiques shop "The Crescent Treasury" when Frank suddenly put his hand on Colonel Williams shoulder. "Wait". Again his Spot Hidden 99 % came in handy. There in the distance patrolling towards them a "bobby", a London police constable. One of many that patrol the British capital at night and known for their notorious keen senses and also carrying a whistle pipe for fast back up. "We need to stall this one" Frank whispered.
As the constable approached and noticed the investigators he asked for their names and addresses as he picked up his note pad. The whistle pipe hanging in a string around his wrist. "The Carlton" answered Patterson truthfully well knowing that the luxury hotel would ease the constable notably. "And what might your business be at this late hour out and about in the streets?" he followed up intent on clearing out any suspicions. "Actually we need to render your law enforcing powers, constable. My friend here was pick pocketed at the Challenge Lecture this very night at Kensington Imperial Institute where we were guests of honor to Professor Smith. My friend here, Colonel Williams is visiting from America and it is quite embarrassing as well as very upsetting that this happens to us." The constable nodded. "Indeed we suspect the criminal to be of Middle Eastern or Turkish descent. Typical Eastern features." The constable now looked aggravated. We cant have bloody foreigners running the Queen's streets and harassing people!
Colonel Williams put more force on the poor constable. Surely they should break in directly before the Turkish criminal could run away? The constable hesitated but successful rolls in Credit Rating (89 %) and Persuade (89 %) from the Colonel made the constable agree. Act in haste! The constable kicked in the door and they searched the place. Lots of stuff but no signs of the perpetrator. Back door left open and traces in the snow. He got away. Upstairs they found dressers and wardrobes emptied. Was it a planned escape? They also found a ledger downstairs behind the counter and missing their Accounting rolls (base chance 10 %) I let them first roll for Luck and the note on the toy train happened to fall out of the ledger, followed by an Idea roll - something is deviating here regarding that said train. Lots of transactions but this train is the only toy.
The investigators thanked the constable and returned to their hotel with the ledger in hand.
At the same time Lord Fyrom Squibb and Hermann MÃ¼ller discussed hauntings with the dear professor at The Oriental Club. The professor had not witnessed any hauntings himself but he was ready to go on expeditions together with his four friends. He looked forward to that. "My dear man servant Beddows would love to follow as well." Beddows? How long had he served the professor? Was he to be trusted? The investigators checking all angles. "Oh yes indeed soon a decade that he served me most loyal and devoted." The chit chat ended around midnight and they returned to hotel Carlton.
Gathered all four they now examined the ledger. and traced that toy train from the seller "the estate of Randolph Alexis" by The Crescent Treasury to the buyer Mr. Henry Stanley in Stoke Newington. Succesful rolls in History (Colonel Williams 69 % History and I think MÃ¼ller has 89 % Occult, but not sure the player will fill this in later) and Occult made it clear that the Alexis family, father and son, were prominent in the occult community in this area. They also remembered that Randolph Alexis had died in a train derailment back in 1897 while traveling to Liverpool from London in the very same train model as the toy set. They also knew that the son vanished in 1917, 20 years later, with no traces just a room full of smoke. Neither body was ever recovered...
The investigators did not want to rest on their laurels. They asked the operator to immediately call Mr. Henry Stanley in Stoke Newington. Ring ring ring (for a long time!). Then suddenly "hello?". A woman of age answered. The investigators asked for Mr. Stanley. "You better come here" the woman replied.
Stoke Newington was a short cab ride away. Mrs. Atkins greeted them at the door. Kind of nerving that a sign outside sold tickets to "the death room". I like people who are greedy, Patterson thought to himself. They are easy to manipulate. Mrs. Atkins told the investigators that Mr. Stanley had disappeared couple of days ago after having his dinner here with her. He went to his room overjoyed with his new train model he had just bought. Then suddenly enormous noice from his room followed by his death like screams. What was the noise like? Industrial. Like a machine. An engine of some kind. The investigators asked to see the room and Mrs. Atkins agreed as long as they would not touch anything. By the way, Colonel Williams had traveled a long way and only had dollars with him. Could she help out counting his coins and receiving a generous fee for the service? Of course, she happily took the pouch with coins and left to count them. Mr. Stanley's room was unwatched in front of them
What happened here? Ceiling clearly damaged from intense smoke and heat. Blisters on the walls and ceilings after heat exhaustion. There were bubbles under the wall paper as if though it had been steamed. Dark, sooty streaks that go from North-West to South-East. (here one player, Mats Georgson, noticed that the line of the streaks equaled the Liverpool-London express route. Well done Mats!) Everything in the room was coated by a thin layer of black soot. On the floral carpet there were parallel smudges that ran the same way as the streaks in the ceiling. Again North-West to South-East. Managing an Education roll they noticed that the streaks were exactly the same width as train tracks. What a coincidence.
We ended the session in Mr. Henry Stanley's room and the players have lots of leads to follow up on. Next session is scheduled for Tuesday 13th October and I will be beck with more postings then. In the meantime please ask us questions or add any comments. I think the players will add their versions during the week as well. Thanks for your reading and dont forget to lock the doors. Remember they are watching us...
So we needed to set up the story straight and together with the players I agreed that one of the investigators, Lord Fyrom Squibb, a member of English aristocracy, had previously been a student of Prof. Smith. We needed a profound "hook" to motivate the voyage from the USA where the players had been fighting through the 4 start up scenarios from the 6th ed rule book. Before parting with the American shores they once more visited Dr. Henry Armitage to try and identify some of the stuff they had captured during their investigations. Using his laboratory at the Miscatonic University they still could not find out the origins of the silvery talc substance.
Anyways, the 4 investigators, now turned friends, sailed across the vast ocean to heed the old mentor and friend of Lord Fyrom Squibb. "Professor Smith is held in high regard at the English academia and his expertise in hauntings and parapsychology is second to none. There will be a lecture of his coming up in London and in retrospect of our horrid experiences lately I push for us to go." The rest of the gang of 4 answered silently but the glances meeting around the dinner table said more than words. Of course they would go.
London was certainly chill this winter in 1923 and thin layers of snow could even be seen under the raw mist from the moist of river Thames. The group of investigators and friends were:
Lord Fyrom Squibb - of English aristocracy, holding a larger mansion in England, yet issues regarding liquidity. Snobbish dilettante.
Colonel Williams - American war veteran from the Great War. Powerful almost scary. Physical and hard.
Frank Patterson - English Detective from Scotland Yard. Intuitive and thorough in his efforts to find the culprit. The silent type.
Hermann MÃ¼ller - German author from Munich, researching and writing about the occult. Very wealthy and holds a large private library in his home in Munich. Staunt member of the NSDAP - The National Socialist German Workers Party.
After a day of rest and promenades they gear up for the dinner party and lecture at the Imperial Institute at Kensington, London. Dinner chit chat is interrupted by an impressive lecture from Professor Smith. Applause. He is in a jolly good mood and after the lecture greets the investigators with jovial outbursts and strong tobacco puffs. The friends cheer and laughs and congratulate him. Well done. Frank Patterson however never shuts down his alert system (Spot Hidden 99 %). His eyes carefully scanning the environment. Is somebody looking? Listening in? Someone who should not be there? There. A man with dark reflections and a heavy black mustache. Obviously a foreigner and staring right at the group. Patterson carefully asks Smith if he recognizes the man, but as the group turns to look the man notices their reaction. He carefully smiles and hastes away from the mingling crowd.
Disapproving of this hasty exit Patterson and Colonel Williams rush after him. Surely they can ask the man why he is in such a hurry? Here we are all friends. Herman MÃ¼ller and Lord Fyrom Squibb follow Prof.Smith to The Oriental Club for drinks. The Professor in a talkative mood fueled by gin and Balkan tobacco.
"Where did he go?" Williams lost sight for a second or two. "Over there, he's entering a London cab". The two investigators were not late to follow and a chase on the icy wet London streets commenced. As the chase came into the Northern outskirts of London they suddenly find the other cab standing almost still. Footprints in the snow. "The Crescent Treasury" an antiques shop. They jump off their cab and walks toward it. Closed, dark. No one to be seen inside. But the footprints were clear in the thin vail of snow on the ground and the door handle had been pushed down just recently.
"He is there, we need to get in". Colonel Williams would not go back now. "Lets kick in the door".
To be continued....
Yes it is me, Caligula, from the Wizards boards writing all those "Total Recap!" Chronicles. You might have picked up Red Hand of Doom - Total Recap or City of the Spiderqueen - Total Recap! But now we are setting up the biggest campaign of them all. Horror on the Orient Express - Total Recap!
We played the first session tonight with 4 investigators and they did well, advancing as experienced players do. There were a couple of decisions and events that was a bit surprising but I will come back to that shortly.
The investigators will be properly introduced of course, this will be done by the players. To summarise they are a nice blend of backgrounds, nationalities and competences but share the common goal of discovering the dark behind it all...
We started the campaign by playing the 4 introduction adventures in the 6th edition rules. They are quite entertaining and also classics having followed along for many editions now. The investigators managed them well, no deaths but some minor insanity issues. Corbitt's house was close to a TPK but they managed to turn it around in the last gasp.
We will play Horror on the Orient Express as written with the options of skill experience checks after each scenario and PC succession at each station.
We look forward to share our experiences with all of you and please add comments, questions and what not. It will all be read and answered. We will also add pics, films and pods as we move along. Some of the investigators will actually be interviewed as they travel through Europe.
Lock the doors. Be careful. They are watching us. Right now.