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Merudo

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home - My notes on the case

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Merudo

I tried to organize the various hints and the trail of clues the investigators have to find to find Regina, and to discover the true goal of the Belfours.

 

Steps needed to arrive at the Five Oaks Motel:

  1. Neighbor or Daughter: George liked to frequent a diner called Eggstravaganza!
  2. Eggstravaganza! cashier: has the number of George's secret prepaid debit card
  3. Prepaid debit card: charged at a car renting agency OR Lindsay's car is found near the car renting agency 
  4. Car renting agency: her rented car GPS indicates she visited a Tollbooth
  5. Tollbooth: cameras show she got on the Turnpike eastbound
  6. Turnpike cameras: Lindsay Peale’s car got off of the Turnpike at the first exit over the state border
  7. Interrogate booth attendants OR booth attendant calls law enforcement: Lindsay asked for an hospital
  8. Investigators look for veterinarian clinics OR Pittsburgh local news: a clinic was burglarized, cameras show Lindsay is on foot
  9. Looking around the veterinarian clinic: the rental car is found at a strip mall, and cameras show Lindsay is on foot
  10. Legwork: They find the Five Oaks Motel

 

Clues that Lindsay Peale is the kidnapper

  • Belfours: if asked who has it for them, or if Lindsay Peale is mentioned 
  • Child Abuse Claim on Regina: she was responsible for it
  • Family/relative of George: Lindsay Peale was very close to Gorge
  • George's cellular records: numerous calls made to Lindsay Peale, which stopped 3 days before abduction
  • Daughter: Lindsay has the same car as the getaway vehicle 
  • Lindsay's computer: received email about the Passover Angel from George, lack of email regarding to Regina
  • Lindsay's friends and coworkers: Lindsay bypassed the usual checks to remove Regina from her parents; she seemed extremely stressed lately
  • Her car: it was found by police, was paid for by a man, she was nervous went renting it, and she disabled the gps
  • Car rental agency's cameras: she had a little girl with her
     

Clues that the kidnappers aren't evil:

  • Kidnapping is only a few days before the Doomsday prediction
  • Belfours: George joined their church
  • Occult-oriented government agencies: George was consulted for his expertise on militaristic cults, rumors he was investigation the cult
  • Nicole: her dad was consulted for his expertise on militaristic cults
  • George left cat to neighborhood to be taken care of
  • George's letter to his daughter says "he did what he had too"
  • Lindsay is an exemplary worker
  • Last Doomsday Prediction matches child protective services action from Lindsay
  • George went back for the medication
  • Lindsay seeks medical help for Regina 

 

Clues that the Belfours are Cultists

  • Plagues, especially the hailstorm
  • Last Doomsday Prediction matches child protective services action
  • A.T.F. : members of Church include armed white supremacists
  • I.R.S:  Church received donation from fringe movements
  • U.S Dept. of State: Balfour makes trips to Kenya, has ties with Red Trumpet / Cult of the Bloody Tongue
  • Book of the Passover Angel: mentions the plagues of Egypt
  • George's letter to his daughter says the Belfours are evil
  • Bomb shelter of the Belfours: Elder Sign inscribed
  • Hailstorm: unnatural hailstorm, Mr. Balfour's is unharmed by it, and an angel shows up 
  • George's video: shows the Passover Angel
  • Tailing Mr. Balfour on Monday night: he may contact the Passover Angel 
  • Elder Sign has been inscribed on the door of room 23
  • Regina's favorite story, the Binding of Isaac

 

The 10 plagues of Ohio

  1. Water into Blood: George's shot went into the fish tank section, and dying fish lie amid bloody water
  2. Frogs: on the Church's website
  3. Lice: on Regina's head
  4. Flies: in the Belfour's interrogation room
  5. Disease on livestock: George's cat is ill
  6. Unhealable boils: on George's cat
  7. Hail and thunder: on the road to the Motel
  8. Locusts: attacking the Motel
  9. Darkness: power outage before the ritual
  10. Death of First-Borns: when the ritual is completed

 

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sicDaniel

I'm running Ladybug this week and this will be super helpful, thanks a lot!

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neorxnawang

I'm avoiding the other thread because it has gotten very negative. But this is Jeff and if specific questions I can be PM'd here (@neorxnawang). Happy to answer polite questions. Hope you enjoy it.

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rsanford
40 minutes ago, neorxnawang said:

I'm avoiding the other thread because it has gotten very negative. But this is Jeff and if specific questions I can be PM'd here (neorxnawang). Happy to answer  polite questions. Hope you enjoy it.

 

There is some negativity but its a GREAT scenario. My favorite to date!

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sicDaniel

My group and I did the first session yesterday, they played for 3,5 hours and the players just managed to find Lewiston's credit card number and the name of Lindsay Peale in that time. They spend hours at the first getaway car - I told them the kidnapper had switched cars at a place with no cameras, so that trail is dead, but my group was adamant and searched the car, questioned people in nearby houses, and wanted to order a helicopter. At that point I told them no, it's no use to have a heli when you don't know what you're looking for.

Then they finally went to Lewiston's flat and found the clue for the restaurant.

Next day they went to that restaurant... had breakfast... exchanged some ideas, and just left.

After they spend another real-time hour looking at the Balfour's home, interviewing them, interviewing Nicole Lewiston and everybody at Nicole's workplace... I asked for an idea roll and reminded them of the restaurant.

Fortunately they still had fun and our next session will have a bit more progress...

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rsanford
On 23/11/2018 at 17:34, sicDaniel said:

My group and I did the first session yesterday, they played for 3,5 hours...

 

Oooh. Tell us more. I love this scenario!

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vincentVV
On 20/11/2018 at 21:23, neorxnawang said:

I'm avoiding the other thread because it has gotten very negative

 

I'm really sorry you feel negative about my critique. Ididn't mean to offend you, I only wanted to improve your scenario and make it better.

 

Sorry once again. The premise of the scenario is really great, as I have already said.

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sicDaniel
4 hours ago, rsanford said:

Oooh. Tell us more. I love this scenario!

 

There's not much more just yet. We'll play again in three weeks. The team consists of two federal agents, two state police and a professor of religious studies & cults expert.

I introduced the first two plagues in the form of parts of Lake Eerie turning red and frogs swarming their car at one point, but that didn't really faze them. The investigators went "oh look, frogs, like in those biblical plagues!", shrugged, and moved on. Guess I'll have to go bigger after all.

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rsanford

Did you know someone made a website for the church? If you need it I can post it when I get to my computer tonight 

 

21 hours ago, sicDaniel said:

There's not much more just yet. We'll play again in three weeks. The team consists of two federal agents, two state police and a professor of religious studies & cults expert.

I introduced the first two plagues in the form of parts of Lake Eerie turning red and frogs swarming their car at one point, but that didn't really faze them. The investigators went "oh look, frogs, like in those biblical plagues!", shrugged, and moved on. Guess I'll have to go bigger after all.

 

I went big from day one and my first group still didn’t figure it out until the hailstorm.

 

The website for the Church of the Passover Angel is at https://jamesalday.github.io/ladybug/. I don't know who developed it but its a nice extra!

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JeffMindlin

That is the best prop ever....

thanks to whoever is responsible. 

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Merudo
On 23/11/2018 at 12:34, sicDaniel said:

Next day they went to that restaurant... had breakfast... exchanged some ideas, and just left.

After they spend another real-time hour looking at the Balfour's home, interviewing them, interviewing Nicole Lewiston and everybody at Nicole's workplace... I asked for an idea roll and reminded them of the restaurant.

 

I was actually wondering how to deal with PCs missing the restaurant clue - it can really bring the scenario to a halt.

 

I'd rather not have them waste an hour pursuing pointless leads.

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sicDaniel

Well I think giving them the clue to go to the restaurant is pretty easy, they find it in his apartment or the daughter or neighbour tells them about it... and I also think it's pretty uncommon that the players just straight up forget about it or go there and don't talk to anybody, since as soon as they talk to any restaurant employee, they can bring up the credit card and there you go.

 

If it still happens, that's where the idea roll comes in - the GM can ask for the roll much earlier than I did. I don't really consider the time wasted - they followed some leads, learned some things about the Balfours, and developed their character's personalities and relationships.

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rbrandolph1

I have run this scenario a couple of times and I have found that combing for clues that don't exist did seem to go on forever.  I had to make up several pcs on the fly as co-workers and other neighbors...  They hadn't forgotten the restaurant, but they decided to go there later... They also did a lot of searching to see if either of the npcs owned other properties...  I could have sent them down a real rabbit hole there.

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sicDaniel

That's actually my experience with almost every investigative scenario that I've run. It's why I soon compiled a list of names to use during games. I consider myself creative but ask me to come up with a normal person name and my mind goes blank. I also have the annoying habit of, whenever my players ask for that one bit of information that's not explicitly stated in the module, I improvise things that turn out to be big red herrings. Like in this Ladybug run, the players asked for Nicole Lewiston's job. First thing that popped into my mind was: She's a nurse. Now of course my players instantly deduce that as a nurse she must have access to the medication Regina needs so they have to visit her workplace and interview people and access the medication protocols or whatever... now I don't want to go "wait stop she's actually a flight attendant" or something but instead I have to roleplay the whole hospital sequence out of nowhere.

 

Anyway, in your experience, does the pace pick up once the party goes through that early investigation and has enough clues to start the chase?

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rsanford
54 minutes ago, rbrandolph1 said:

I have run this scenario a couple of times and I have found that combing for clues that don't exist did seem to go on forever.  I had to make up several pcs on the fly as co-workers and other neighbors...  They hadn't forgotten the restaurant, but they decided to go there later... They also did a lot of searching to see if either of the npcs owned other properties...  I could have sent them down a real rabbit hole there.

 

I had the same experience. My groups checked out George's partner, his brother, his daughter and her husband as well as others. It was awesome!

 

And yes our games accelerated when they discovered that Lindsey was a perpetrator. In my first game they figured this out very quick. The second group took a little took an extra day in game time to figure this out.

 

54 minutes ago, rbrandolph1 said:

I have run this scenario a couple of times and I have found that combing for clues that don't exist did seem to go on forever.  I had to make up several pcs on the fly as co-workers and other neighbors...  They hadn't forgotten the restaurant, but they decided to go there later... They also did a lot of searching to see if either of the npcs owned other properties...  I could have sent them down a real rabbit hole there.

 

My first group also did a lot of searching to see if the perpetrators had other property. In fact the favored idea for a while was that George likely owned some cabin on the Great Lakes somewhere and Lindsey would hold up there. I did throw them a red herring with George's brother owning a cabin in Florida but they didn't bite.

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rbrandolph1
54 minutes ago, sicDaniel said:

That's actually my experience with almost every investigative scenario that I've run. It's why I soon compiled a list of names to use during games. I consider myself creative but ask me to come up with a normal person name and my mind goes blank. I also have the annoying habit of, whenever my players ask for that one bit of information that's not explicitly stated in the module, I improvise things that turn out to be big red herrings. Like in this Ladybug run, the players asked for Nicole Lewiston's job. First thing that popped into my mind was: She's a nurse. Now of course my players instantly deduce that as a nurse she must have access to the medication Regina needs so they have to visit her workplace and interview people and access the medication protocols or whatever... now I don't want to go "wait stop she's actually a flight attendant" or something but instead I have to roleplay the whole hospital sequence out of nowhere.

 

Anyway, in your experience, does the pace pick up once the party goes through that early investigation and has enough clues to start the chase?

 

Yes, the pace did pick up and if other clues were missed I was able to throw them back in there.  For example, I was able to reinforce the restaurant clue in Lindsay's office by having "a date" with uncle George on her desk calendar.  This would have been a careless mistake I don't think that would have been made, but it brought it forward in the players minds.

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sicDaniel

I finished my second session this week. I was hoping to wrap it up in another session but my group was having none of that. They continued to painstakingly follow every single possible clue in person. They spend almost an hour searching Lindsay Peale's flat ( I barely managed to nudge them away from ripping open the floorboards and checking all the walls for secrets). Later, after they talked to Roxanna Goldfarb, they had to check out the place where Regina Balfour was taken to during the six weeks she was apart from her parents in 2015. When they were there and found nothing, they came up with a plan: Go back to the parents, get an old shirt from Regina, and use a police dog to search for Regina in that temporary home. This is when I stepped in as a GM and wondered aloud that kidnappers usually wouldn't use very obvious places to hide their victim.

 

This all happened while they were waiting for results from George Lewistons credit card company. Once they had that, they went to the rental car agency and so one, so the next thing they had to wait for was the camera feeds from the turnpike exits. And again, they didn't want to just wait, they wanted to do crazy things like visit every shooting range Lindsay Peale had ever been to and asked the people there if maybe somebody owns a cabin in the woods or anything.

 

They told me later that, as players, they didn't want to just "skip ahead" because of the time limit and they didn't want to risk wasting time in the investigation. I have to talk to them about that, they should trust me as a GM to not hide important clues in very obscure places, as I do want them to get to the "good stuff" of the scenario. But just telling them about these things right away isn't realistic, so one has to compromise.

Speaking of which, they finally got the results and knew that Lindsay had gone to Pennsylvania, so I ended the session with the thunderstorm and the appearance of the Passover Angel, and one lone car approaching them from the distance... which everybody loved, so all is well.

 

During the thunderstorm, their car crashed, and two of five investigators rolled a 6 on their d6 damage roll, and one of them failed their Con roll - so he never saw the Passover Angel. Some potential for RP in the next session!

 

I also prepared some handouts which I gave to them one by one, which described the kind of nightmares and visions they had once they started learning more about the Passover Angel and the Balfours, which turned out really well. One of them had nightmares about visiting their older brothers funeral with the Passover Angel doing the funeral service, others dreamed of being slaves in egypt. Fun Stuff.

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rsanford
30 minutes ago, sicDaniel said:

I finished my second session this week...

 

Sounds like it is going well. My groups were also very thorough.

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DavePerry

I ran this scenario back in January, over three three-hour sessions, which allowed plenty of time for the scenario to breathe and to cover everything in it. I provided pre-generated characters for the players to use, as this was a one-off, outside of our regular campaign: two FBI agents - a hostage negotiator and a profiler / cult specialist - and two police detectives. The first two sessions were solid investigation work: the first ending with the discovery of the rental car and the GPS being disabled and the second upon finding Lindsay at the motel. My players were fairly switched on and began questioning what was really going on very early on.

 

At the beginning of the third session, the FBI profiler was very sympathetic to Lindsay's plight, whilst the others just wanted to get that little girl home and safe "whatever it takes". We spent an hour just doing negotiations with Lindsay through the closed door, which was very tense at times, before the Hunting Horror struck. Regina was safe and taken away for medical help and questioning by the PCs. Eventually, she was allowed to go home, with the PCs the heroes in the media circus that followed. I'd had the story be the lead news story throughout the scenario, with #PrayforRegina going viral on social media and even Trump sending his prayers for her safe return.

 

Even though the players thought that something horrible was going to happen next, they stayed in character and said "that's it, we've done our job", apart from the FBI profiler. The scenario then went really off script as the players took it off in completely different direction than what was written. They had the film clip of the Passover Angel in the church, though a couple of them thought it was faked. They didn't have enough evidence to stop the ritual, but thought that they had enough evidence to suspect that Regina was in real danger. So they obtained a court order to bring Regina back in for some further tests, a trick to keep her safe until after Wednesday. With an ironic twist, I had Roxanna Goldfarb be the child welfare officer who accompanied them, to in effect carry out Lindsay's original plan.

 

Outside the Balfour's house and church, the media were camped outside to film "the rapture live", together with hundreds of people who wanted to join the church as a result of all the national publicity it had received during the search for Regina. The PCs went in, on the Tuesday morning, to take Regina away again. Well, the church members weren't having that and Johnny Zero and the other nutcases came out with guns and tried to prevent the PCs from leaving the house with Regina. A shouting match ensued and I can't remember who fired the first shot, but a blood bath followed - a cross between the Wild Bunch and the Waco siege - with casualties on both sides and amongst the crowds waiting to join the church. The surviving PCs got Regina safely away and brought a handcuffed John Balfour in "for incitement". No ritual took place and the cult was effectively finished. The PCs careers were effectively over, but the players were on a high after such an explosive ending.

 

Overall, a brilliant scenario that is just as good even if it goes off on a wild tangent.

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rsanford
25 minutes ago, DavePerry said:

I ran this scenario back in January, over three three-hour sessions...

 

Sounds like it went great. I have yet to run it when it didn't go off the rails but both times my players loved it. Stygian really did a good job!

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