Category Archives: Campaigns

Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC), Session 1 AAR

Background

Allayre is a tiny farming, herding and crafting village in the mountains.  They are simple folk who follow the Old Faith of the Earth Mother.  Vornheim is the closest city.  The island kingdom of Ey is actually a loose confederation of city-states who pay homage to a nominal King with little power outside the capital.

The Party

  • Slink is a local thief, pickpocket and troublemaker whom Grandfather took under his wing in a attempt to reform him.  Having failed, he now tries to control his tendencies while covering for him with local authorities.
  • Hibiscus Vanillafog is an elf from the nearby woods who used to enjoy long walks under the stars with Grandfather, gazing at the heavens and discussing the ways of the fey.
  • Friar Lodens is an herbalist who follows the Old Faith and works alongside the Druids of the Grove.
  • Guldoon is a former beggar hired on as a porter and torch-bearer.

It has been decreed by the King in faraway Konungsgard that Ey be brought firmly under his control.  His nobles have been sent to all corners of the island to build keeps from which they are to consolidate the King’s rule.  Many of the traditions of the Old Faith have been outlawed and rites forbidden.

The Story

Open in village of Allayre in the manor house of Grandfather the Seer, village elder.  Grandfather is venerable, in poor health, and increasingly suffering from nightmares.

Allayre is a cursed village.  Some 60 years earlier, hooded figures emerged and started raiding and pillaging farmsteads near the Great Gorge.  The raids were followed by demands for sacrifices to their strange god in exchange for peace.  At first the villagers laughed at this but the raids continued.  It was decided that one citizen, chosen by lot, would be sacrificed to these figures and their god.  Every decade since they have made the sacrifice and were at peace.  The next 10 year sacrifice is due in one month but the King has outlawed rites that are not of the All Father, the new god of the King.  All those born in Allayre are subject to the lottery and if they try to leave Allayre it is said the curse will follow them.

On one particular occasion, Grandfather is being attended by Slink, Hibiscus and Lodens.  He lapses into nightmares, causing him to thrash about in bed and scream “They are coming… they are coming…”.  Fires and candles go out and the room dims as five shadowy, indistinct robed figures appear.  They have no faces behind their grey hoods and their robes undulate as if their bodies were not human.  The figures mutter, “He is still protected, we cannot harm him.  Take these others as sacrifices to our Master.”  Producing black steel daggers with strange glowing runes, they attack.

The party defeats the figures with some difficulty, Lodens caving in one’s head with a nightstand, and the nightmare dissipates.  When Grandfather awakens he warns that no one near him is safe anymore.  Plus, the presence of royal troops in town building a new keep bodes ill.  None of the three were born in the village and are not subject to the curse, so Grandfather bids them leave and find their own fortunes.  The party refuses at first out of loyalty to those they leave behind.  Grandfather suggests that they can be of more service by finding wealth and magic that might help lift the curse for good.

He knows the local legend of a wizard who build a tower in the unpopulated hills nearby, which are rumored to be haunted.  No word has been had of the wizard for many decades, so perhaps his wealth and knowledge lies unguarded.  It is very dangerous and probably guarded by many clever traps but the reward may be worth the risk.  Also, the tower is said to be ringed by a great earthen berm overgrown with briars and hedges.  The party prepares and then sets out.

First, Hibiscus attempts to serve the King of Elfland as a patron.  She succeeds and is quested with retrieving an Unseelie Fey who had been captured and imprisoned in a magical glass globe, but whose captor had failed to deliver to the Elf King.  Hibiscus was told that the globe would make itself known to her.

The party made their way on foot and encountered the earthen berm.  A 5-foot tunnel had been dug out of the berm to allow access along a trail.  They made camp for the night.  In the night they rescued a tethered horse from coyotes.  Hibiscus spoke to it and learned that someone else had gone toward the tower (the horse was unable to indicate how).  Then they healed it, took some supplies from the saddlebags, and sent it back in the direction of Allayre.  Lightning lit up the clear sky above in the direction of the tower.

Entering the berm’s tunnel, Hibiscus saw a flash of green light from beneath the mossy bed.  The moss began to grow unnaturally to cover the entrance and exit of the tunnel.  Hibiscus was able to locate the source of the emanation and retrieved a small glass globe filled with a swirling green light.  Surmising that this was the Unseelie Fey she was bid to recover, she put it in the empty chest carried by Guldoon.  By this time the roots in the tunnel had come alive and were trying to entangle the party.  Slink and Lodens were able to bull their way through to the other side, while Hibiscus chopped her way back to Guldoon.  The roots were now attacked from both ends and defeated.

As they approached the tower they noticed a body lying on the ground, perhaps the person who left the horse.  It was a man who had fallen from high up the tower, lying dead next to a mangled grappling hook on a rope.  Slink checked the stairs up to the main double doors while dodging lightning strikes.  Lodens came up and knocked on the large iron ring knockers.  A loud gong sounded and the doors opened effortlessly.

At this point we will wait to enter the tower proper.

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The Downfall of Dunross

19 March 2012

Present: Ferrisa, Frelest, Goran, Wulfric, Zanatos

Two pyres were built: a crude pile of sticks for the bandits and a proper funerary pyre to honorably send the family of Hralf Haraldsunu to the afterlife. Gates were repaired, outbuildings secured and provisions gathered from the stores of Hralf.

While two of the party remained at their newly-won stead, the others continued north toward Aslov. A lone rider on horseback approached from the way they had come, a large man with long auburn hair and long beard gathered in braids. He wore a bright chain shirt, bore a gold/black round shield on one arm and gripped a long single-bladed battleaxe in the other. After a wary moment, the party exchanged greetings with Aethelred the Tall, whose keep stood nearby to the stead of Hralf. A small village lay several miles farther west and the folk there considered Aethelred their Hearthmaster, for he was mighty in battle and fair-minded. He sought an accounting of the events at Aethelred’s stead and the party’s story, corroborated by so many witnesses, among them Iron Guild warriors, was deemed truthful and sufficient. Aethelred offered to speak with them further when they returned to the stead to take up residence, then galloped back south.

After another day’s travel, the party entered the fertile farms and fields that surrounded Aslov. The Icebarrier mountains towered in the distance and the black smoke of many fires issued from the walled city of Aslov. The farm folk of the outlying steads gazed northward in wonder and worry. Two days ago the fires had started, they said. Refugees from the north, fleeing famine and war, clustered around the three great gates of the city. Others, unwilling to wait patiently to die of starvation, headed south.

It was decided to send Zanatos ahead to make contact with the recipients of the grain and iron, and to arrange for protection of the caravan from the throngs outside the gate. Moving quickly and with purpose, Zanatos completed his mission unhindered, except by desperate folk begging for food or coin. Twenty guards of the town constabulary would emerge to form a shield wall around the wagons and escort them to the High Quarter. The Iron Guild, whose mission it is to protect caravans and trade routes, would provide no assistance without payment.

The party approached the Great South Gate and dozens of refugees pressed forward seeking food. The constables emerged with clubs and shields to keep the throng at bay, but several among the crowd were armed and attempting to incite violence. A single sword thrust toward an Iron Guild guard but he cracked his spear haft on the hand that wielded it, after which a mighty warcry from Wulfric cowed the remaining instigators. The party passed within the South Gate without further incident.

Aslov looked like a city under siege. Smoke rose from many parts of the city, especially near the city’s mill. There had been a food riot two days earlier and the streets were filled with the starving and dead. Aslov guardsmen and private mercenaries hired by the city’s many merchants were posted at every important intersection and building, giving the impression of martial law. The mill was surrounded by burning wreckage and cordoned by guards who allowed no one to enter or leave the block. Grain and flour was now raised and lowered to the site from the High Quarter wall on makeshift lifts.

Shipments were finally delivered: grain to the granaries, supervised by a young lad named Wilkin who had responsibility beyond his tender years, and steel to a representative of the High Constable. The party’s diligence and sense of duty were recognized with a referral to Rodgar ap-Annwn, a merchant in need of security for his own shipments. He would meet them that evening at the Last Chance Tavern by the South Gate.

In the interim, Goran volunteered his services to the Sisters of Mercy at White House, the nearest thing Aslov had to a hospital. Zanatos and Frelest sought knowledge at the library of the Temple of Var.

The party arrived at the Last Chance and made the acquaintance of the proprietor, a retired Hearth Knight named Jorg Nader, who told tales of battles beyond the Icebarrier. Rodgar arrived late and joined the group for a round of drinks. The city was still well-stocked with drink but food was scarce. His proposal: take a wagon to the mill town of Dunross, pick up a shipment of flour and bring it to the baker at Dalsetter. The flour would be worth its weight in gold scields and must be protected from harm and theft. He provided the group with a map of the area around Aslov. They set out with the empty wagon the next day at first light, heading southwest to Dunross.

A small raiding band of orcs of the Eye Piercer tribe, know for their archery and black garb, botched an ambush and the party defeated them with steel and coldfire. One of the two Iron Guild guards was brought back from the brink of death as Goran healed a grievous arrow wound. Several miles on, the party discovered a dead horse and rider, possibly killed by the same Eye Piercers. The rider carried a note from Dunross to Aslov about a plague of rats that threatened their grain supplies and very survival.

As the sun set they discovered a travel tower of the Road Wardens, built at intervals along trade routes to provide shelter to travelers. The tower was deserted but an empty wagon and two dead draft horses were found outside. Each horse bore the bite marks of some animal and the wagon cover bore the emblem of Dunross, crossed barley sheaves over the letter D. Inside were the skeletons of two people, flesh gone and gnawed to the bone. Rats were suspected, in great numbers and of unusual ferocity. The party moved everyone, including the horses, inside the tower and barred the door for the night.

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The Stead of the Dead

5 March 2012

Present: Ferrisa, Frelest, Goran, Wulfric, Zanatos, Aethelred, (Michele)

The party is escorting a small shipment of steel ingots and grain through the eastern Freelands, north to the city of Aslov which nestles against the Icebarrier Mountains. Their route leads them up the River Crystalflow, making landfall at Bridgewater, continuing along the western borders of Nordmark, and crossing into the Freelands at the town of Nara. It is the month of Snaermonan (Snowmoon) and high winter is approaching the Hearthlands, the frigid wind already howling down from the mountains. The two carts, drawn by four shaggy draft ponies, are under Iron Guild protection, for this winter will be a hungry one and the Freelands are under threat from rough and desperate folk.

The ambush was hastily laid and reckless, and the party was ready. Bowmen rose on either side of the snow-covered track and loosed arrows. Moments later, the assailants to the left were ablaze with Coldfire and those to the right cut down by spear and axe. The bodies were poorly clothed in mixed Saxa/Anari fashion and emaciated by hunger, perhaps refugees from Heligioland to the north. Heligioland, where the winters are longer and harsher and the harvest less bountiful, home now mostly to orcs, wolves and worse.

Continuing north, they came upon a strange sight by the side of the road. A lone man sat on the ground, head buried in his hands weeping. He was a Saxa by his dress and long hunting spear. The party approached to investigate and have words with the fellow.

Hralf Haraldsunu was his name, a farmer whose stead lay to the west. A armed band of strangers had appeared at his longhouse and requested hospitality. Hralf offered it but these strangers were dishonorable men. They helped themselves to his food and drink and roughly treated Hralf and his wife and two children. When Hralf raised his voice in protest, the men slew his wife and children without thought or hesitation. Hralf claimed that he was severely wounded by a knife in the side but managed to escape. Now he wept for his shame and begged the party to take vengeance on his behalf. If they swore on the gods to do so, he would bequeath them his house and lands, for he no longer had the heart to set eyes upon the place again.

Wulfric Dagsunu swore the oath and the party set out to deal with the situation. Zanatos searched the ground thereabouts for tracks but strangely found none. No footprints or blood trails led to or from the spot where Hralf sat, nor was there sign of the passage of a large number of men. Hralf was wounded, as he had claimed, and bore the symbol of Thunor, God of Storms, about his neck. Goran the Frost Dwarf tended to his wounds.

Zanatos scouted to the west and found Hralf’s stead after a mile or two. The single thatched farmhouse was surrounded by a four foot high wall of stone, behind which could be seen three or four men with spears. Smoke issued from the central chimney and the smoke of campfires wafted from within the wall. The party moved the wagons to a clearing a mile away from the stead, under guard from four Iron Guild spearmen, and decided on a course of action.

[Can’t recall exactly who did what or the sequence of events; players, feel free to jump in and correct my account]

Aethelred the Loud openly approached the gap in the wall where a fence once stood while the others quietly arranged themselves behind cover of the wall. Markus proclaimed his presence to the two bandit guards and requested hospitality. The bandits, confused but not fearing this lone stranger, went to deal with Markus as several other guards approached.

[GM memory failure]

Long story short, the guards were disposed of as the other bandits, numbering a good dozen, shut themselves inside the house. The party’s warriors bashed the door open and the rout was on. Ranged fire covered the rear door through which the bandits imagined they could escape. None did. Ferissa’s Coldfire once again blasted many foes.

A strange mist had suddenly crept up toward the party during the battle and just as suddenly disappeared as the last bandit was slain.

Searching the stead, the party found the bodies of four Saxa: a woman, two children and a man who in every respect resembled Hralf Haraldsunu, including the silver token of Thunor. The learned among them surmised that they had encountered a genganger, the restless spirit of one who leaves some task unfinished in life and cannot proceed to the afterlife to be judged by the gods. Under auld Saxa law, the oath of a genganger carries the same legal weight as the oaths of the living, and thus the party found itself in possession of their own steading… assuming the claim can withstand challenge.

pcfarm HralfStead

 

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Hellfrost – Heroes

Our heroic band of heroically heroic heroes. Heroically speaking.

  • Aethelred Sigmundsunu (Markus)- Saxa Iron Guild warrior
  • Ferissa (Ozge)- Frostborn Hrimwisard
  • Frelest the Cursed (Eric)- Lorekeeper of the Reliquary
  • Goran (Rich)- Frost Dwarf Runemage
  • The Unnamed (Michele)- Noble Frostborn Iron Guild warrior
  • Wulfric Dagsunu (Brennan)- Saxa warrior
  • Zanatos (Mike)- Saxa hunter, tracker, ranger

 

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Dungeon Crawl Classics Intro

Yesterday I ran the Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) RPG, by Goodman Games, for the family.  DCC is a new system with streamlined d20 mechanics that is a stylistic throwback to 1970’s-era D&D, right down to the rulebook artwork.  I will describe features of the system as I retell our game sessions.   

DCC strongly encourages groups to begin a campaign with a technique they call “the funnel.”  Each player randomly generates 2-4 level 0 characters–a motley assortment of clowns, ne’er-do-wells, wannabes and zeroes–who are then thrown into a beginning adventure.  A high body count is expected and characters who survive the funnel (if any) attain 1st level and can then choose a class.  Humans can select from Warrior, Thief, Wizard and Cleric, while demi-humans are forevermore Dwarf, Elf or Halfling (i.e., race as class).

Links to reviews of the system can be found at the Goodman Games website.  Next, our zeroes start out on their lives (often brief) of adventure.

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My Campaigns

Primarily for my regular players and other locals, here is a list of campaigns in progress or that I would be willing to run:

Day After Ragnarok
System: Savage Worlds
Genre: WWII, post-apocalyptic
Status: Hiatus
Description: Nazi cultists succeed in bringing about Ragnarok in 1947.  The PCs are survivors in Alabama, making a living fighting the KKK and escaped German POWs.

Realms of Cthulhu
System: Savage Worlds
Genre: 1920s Lovecraftian horror
Status: In progress
Description: Classic Lovecraftian horror in 1920s Arkham, Mass. PCs were investigating the murder of a wealthy layabout. They searched the familial manor, encountering an eccentric astronomer father, a suspicious groundskeeper, a horrific”guest”, gypsy sorcerers and a terrifying murder suspect.

Hellfrost
System: Savage Worlds
Genre: Norse swords & sorcery
Status: New
Description: Norse-inspired fantasy in an ice age, fighting for glory and survival.

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Nazi roadblock

PCs: Neil McGreedy (scrounger), Noah Wales (engineer), Sam Hill (Texas Ranger), Gordan (professional British soccer player)

We left off at the crash site of Jimmy Stewart’s B-24. The hydra was destroyed, the Klan militia defeated and the party had to decide what to do next. Noah was wary of going to Huntsville because it was under US Gov’t control and he feared running into agents of Howard Hughes (he stole Howard’s jet-pack). Gordan wanted to tag along for survival, Neil wanted to scrounge abandoned settlements for trade goods and Sam Hill wanted to annex Alabama to the Republic of Texas.  This plan naturally won out.

Sam promised local sharecroppers that they would be better protected if they aligned themselves with Texas and that he would drive off bandits, mutants and the KKK. The sharecroppers tended not to believe him but he persuaded them to give the party a chance to prove their mettle. They said that the Klan had setup a roadblock to cutoff food and supplies from across the Tennessee River.  Supply trucks were not getting through and anyone sent to check it out had not returned. So the party, including Jimmy Stewart and crew and three sharecroppers, piled into the Ford pickup and a captured KKK truck (hand painted white with KKK in big black letters and Confederate flags) and headed north.

The road turned into a muddy track and the ground became ever wetter as they headed closer to the river. Then the Ford, bringing up the rear, bogged in the mud and couldn’t get free. That’s when they were attacked by a group of large gators, including one twenty-footer. The gators were easily dispatched and the truck towed out of the mud. Sam skinned the giant gator for its armored hide and sent two of the sharecroppers back to town for a wagon to take the other gators back for food. The leader of the sharecroppers, Thomas Madison Washington, proceeded with the party.

The roadblock was in a railroad cutting in an embankment. Log bunkers with BARs covered each side of the road and Klan lookouts patrolled behind barricades on top of the embankment. Gordan immediately gunned the KKK truck and rammed into one bunker, taking it out. His quick action took the guards completely by surprise. The passengers in the back were thrown about and stunned; those who could leaped out of the truck. Gordan backed out of the bunker and blocked the cutting. Sam hosed down the embankment and dropped a few guards while Jimmy Stewart’s trademark voice stunned several more into inaction (they thought someone was a-shootin’ a movin’ picture).

Klansmen in white hoods and some men in US Army gear rushed toward the roadblock. Among them were two bazooka crews. Two Jeeps with .50-cals drove forward.

.50-cal tracer was going in both directions and Gordan gunned it into the bazooka crews, trying to run them over. He succeeded in taking out one bazooka but the loader ran to retrieve it.

Meanwhile, Thomas Madison Washington ran to the other bunker and stuck his 12-gauge into the aperture, taking out the BAR gunner and yelling obscenities involving crackers and people’s mothers. In a berserk rage, he then charged up the embankment into four Klansmen. He took out some and scared off the rest, then charged down the other side into more onrushing Klan militia.

By this time someone noticed that the men in US Army gear were shouting in German. Disorganized militia ran out of tents and shacks and a German officer in para fatigues emerged from a tent over which fluttered a Nazi flag. He wore an eyepatch, monocle, had a fake arm and smoked a cigarette in a long holder.  He didn’t have time to equip his other cliches, which he left in the tent.

In the time it took me to type this, I’ve forgotten half the insane shit the party pulled.  A captured bazooka took out a bunker on the far side of the embankment but not before Noah and Sam had raced forward to engage the Jeeps, ramming one in the process and leaving themselves in the line of fire of four automatic weapons. Sam blasted the German gunners (as it turns out) and only took a burning tracer through his ten-gallon hat. Sam then tried to take down the distant German officer stereotype but he shrugged off a hail of .50-cal fire, all the while laughing and taunting in German (that’s correct, he also laughed in German. YOU figure it out..)

So the roadblock was ultimately destroyed for the loss of only one of Jimmy Stewart’s crewmen (note: Mooks rolling d6 for Shooting don’t hit often, at least not when I roll for them). Finally, Thomas Madison Jefferson, wounded by BAR fire, took out the last bunker single-handed.

I’m leaving stuff out but at this point it doesn’t really matter. Lots of crazy went down tonight. Oh yeah, a creepy storm front of poisonous rain approached the area but hadn’t quite reached it yet. At least the sharecroppers claimed it was poison.

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Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves

SESSION 4

PCs present:  Dr. Kenneth Lokar (historian), Jenny Barnes (dilettante), Raymond Learson (archaeologist), Jack Storn (reporter), Penelope Murphy (paranormalist)

Rough summary of events:

  • Diamante was arrested, and along with Peter Malone and Marianne Silver (missing maid) were transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Arkham. One patrolman was assigned to guard Diamante until she recovers enough for questioning. Samson the groundskeeper is taken to Arkham Courthouse jail. Dr. Drake was politely escorted downtown to ID the body of Jonathan and give a rambling, incoherent statement
  • Some of the charges to be filed against Diamante and Samson include first degree murder, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and possible immigration charges pending clarification of Diamante’s status.
  • Word is quickly spreading that an Italian immigrant (“vagrant, degenerate gypsy woman”) has brutally murdered the son of a fine, upstanding family. The court of public opinion is already in session and protests will be organized both for and against Diamante, since this is less than a week after the execution of Sacco & Vanzetti. Anti-immigrant sentiment is once again in the news and rumor has it that she is an anarchist or communist agitator. Det. Strawbridge is not happy about the publicity.
  • The investigators explore the open sarcophagus in the Drake family plot.  Penelope Murphy takes several photographs of a group of frightening humanoids in a long tunnel (illuminated by her flash), one of which spoke to her. While at the graveyard, they feel a dark presence fly overhead from the woods, heading to Arkham.
  • Dr. Kenneth Lokar (PC) discovers the family copy of Cultes des Goules (Il Culto Dei Ghouls, written in Italian by Isabella Drake.) Lokar notices that the cover is human skin, which they cut away and burn. Penelope subsequently tries to read the book but none of them read Italian. They realize that ghouls may be about. Lokar wants to burn the whole manor to the ground “to be sure.”
  • After the police finish investigating the manor, the group gives it another going over. Raymond Learson (PC) tries to speak into Dr. Drake’s HAM radio. After a few periods of static, a voice speaks to him in English and, not recognizing him, says they will no longer communicate on this frequency. The radio then goes silent. They take Drake’s papers and a half-finished manuscript entitled “The Orbit of Yuggoth.”
  • They load Claudette, the other maid, into the car (drunk) and start to head back to town. Three of them actually leave for town.
  • Dr. Lokar and Jenny Barnes check out the woods to the south by themselves. They find a group of Sinti Roma (gypsies) from Hungary who are a large family of artists and musicians. The leader, Janos Reinhardt, tells of a terrifying Devil who lives in a cave near standing stones. Its master is an Italian gypsy who promises them protection if they keep their mouths shut. They find the cave empty. As they are leaving, a gigantic winged creature lands on the altar inside the standing stones. A man and woman are riding it and it drops a dead, horribly mangled policeman from its maw. Shaken, they retreat into the woods unseen.
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The Situation Escalates

SESSION 3, part 2

(A brief note on the demographics of our gaming group.  At the time we began this scenario, none of the players had ever before played in a Cthulhu RPG and I had never run one.  Two of the players are relatively new to RPGs in general, having only begun playing within the past year.  Keep this in mind as you read the session log.  I completely understand if, at several junctures, you find yourself facepalming.)

The four investigators–Lokar, Barnes, McManor and Malone–parked their cars in front of the quiet manor.  Claudette was inside tending to the ravaged Marianne Silvers and Samuel retreated to his cottage.  Dodger, Sam’s pit-bull, sprinted off to explore the nearby woods and was nowhere to be seen.

Ike Takes Names

McManor approached the cottage and paused to listen at the door.  He immediately detected two distinct voices speaking within, those of Sam and an unknown female.  Ike rapped loudly on the door, identified himself as a police officer and demanded to be let inside.  Sam opened the door after a moment and stepped outside to face the detective, closing the front door behind him.  He could not, however, conceal the sound of a second door opening and closing.  McManor placed Sam under arrest for suspicion in the kidnapping and assault of Marianne Silvers, ordering the groundskeeper to his knees and cuffing his hands behind his back.

Ike Kicks Ass

Meanwhile, the other investigators ran around to the back of the cottage where they spotted a young woman attempting to flee out the rear door.  She appeared to be in her twenties, with long, dark, unkempt hair and an olive complexion.  Her peasant dress was colorful but mud-spattered, and she was adorned with many pieces of clattering jewelry.  Spotting Lokar, Barnes and Malone, the girl paused long enough to utter a curse in Italian, make a rude hand gesture, then sprint for the woods a hundred yards distant.  Malone, wielding a crowbar that no one had seen until now, ran in pursuit.  The ex-soldier was gaining ground on the woman when she suddenly pivoted to face him, drawing forth a wickedly serrated dagger from the folds of her clothing.  Malone lunged wildly with the crowbar as the woman brought the blade in a wide arc to slash him deeply across the thigh.  A gusher of blood spurted from the gaping wound and Malone crumpled to the ground in excruciating agony.  Jenny Barnes drew her battle-tested Derringer but a single shot went wide.  Dr. Lokar, again demonstrating his fondness for improvised weapons, took off one shoe and hurled it at the girl.  All the while, Samuel was yelling from the front of the cottage in alarm and confusion.  The issue was finally settled when Det. McManor ran to the side of the building and got off a medium-range shot with his service revolver.  A .38-bullet slammed home into the woman’s belly and she, too, crumpled to the ground in pain. Lokar quickly retrieved both his shoe and the girl’s dagger, its blade inscribed with runes and enchanted to strike true and hard.

Hearing the gunfire and commotion, Claudette came running out of the manor and added her high-pitched screams to the din.  Seeing two figures bleeding on the green lawn, she ran to Malone and miraculously stopped the loss of blood with some gauze she had stuffed into her apron while treating Marianne.  If she survived this day, Claudette was finally going to ask Dr. Drake–senile or not–for that pay raise.

Ike Takes Yet More Names

The detective fetched another set of cuffs from the car, handcuffed the girl and dragged her in a decidedly unfriendly manner into the foyer of the mansion.  Malone was also carried into the foyer and placed on a spare mattress, so that he wouldn’t bleed all over the fine furnishings.  Regaining consciousness, he gazed up into the concerned face of the very attractive Claudette and asked with a sigh, “Is this heaven?” (benny awarded, lol) Lokar and Jenny searched Sam’s cottage for some clue that would clarify the situation.  Among the big Norwegian’s personal belongings they found letters from a female paramour written in the same script as those found earlier in Jonny Drake’s bedroom, and bearing the same initials:  “D.D.”  Lokar’s keen nose also faintly detected a similar scent as those sent to Jonny.  Whoever D.D. was, she was playing a double game and pledging her love to two men at once.   The letters to Jonny went back six months or more, those to Sam only three months.  Samuel, overhearing the discussion of this evidence and knowing in his heart that it was true, bowed his head and wept.  He would subsequently be much more cooperative with the investigation.

McManor directed Claudette to boil more water and bring more clean linens, then call for an ambulance.  He himself then called Arkham P.D. for backup.  No one could predict when help from town would finally arrive, so he began to question Sam and the girl.  Eventually, a story began to take shape.  Sam was an open book now and told McManor everything he knew about the girl, who said her name was Diamante.  She never told him her last name and, lovestruck, he had never asked.  Sam had heard of the girl and her relationship with Drake, and finally met her while in Arkham to buy hardware and supplies.  Diamante worked selling flowers at a street corner newsstand near the police station and said she had emigrated from Italy.  Then it struck McManor that he had probably passed her in the street dozens of times without a second glance.  Sam fell in love and Diamante promised it was over with Jonny, and Sam chose to believe her.  Jonny could never stay with the same girl for very long, everyone knew that.  Sam drove into town on the same day every week and always spent time with Diamante.  Their trysts were romantic yet always platonic but she promised Sam that they would run away together when they had enough money to leave Drake Manor far behind.  Little did the naive Norseman know that Diamante had made the same promises to Jonny.  Finally, the morning after Jonny was murdered, Diamante had showed up bedraggled and confused at the door of Sam’s cottage.  She refused to answer Sam’s many questions but instead begged him to shelter her there for a while.

It didn’t completely add up.  Jonny was insanely wealthy and could run off whenever he pleased.  Perhaps he didn’t really love Diamante, or perhaps she was after something else entirely, taking up with two men who shared one inescapable connection–Drake Manor.  On top of it all, Sam admitted that he found it strange that Diamante appeared right around the time a band of gypsies took up residence in the woods south of the manor.  These transients were known to move from town to town, avoiding both the law and angry locals.  Sam and Dodger had so far succeeded in keeping potential troublemakers far from the house.  McManor was far from satisfied.

Predictably, Ike Kicks Yet More Ass

Now Ike turned his questions on Diamante.  It didn’t go as he had expected or hoped.  Evasive at first and supplying absurd rationales for her actions, she suddenly turned deadly serious and glared at the detective with dark, piercing eyes.  Muttering something under her breath that McManor couldn’t quite understand (but that Lokar was certain contained the word “Azathoth”), it felt as though a hand had gripped his innards and twisted them as a series of chills shot up his spine.  Fear gripped the hardened cop and his body began to tremble uncontrollably.   He only regained his senses with a considerable effort but, when he did, he grabbed Diamante’s right hand in a rage and put a bullet straight through it.  Echoes of the shot reverberated in the open foyer and Diamante fell unconscious from the pain.  Marianne made a sign of the cross, then wobbled to the kitchen to brew herself a pot of chamomile tea.  Forget the raise, she muttered to no one in particular, I’m going back to vaudeville.

Lokar and Barnes pulled McManor away from the freshly bleeding Diamante to prevent him from doing further damage.  They suggested he go up into the observatory tower to attempt to question Dr. Drake.  Meanwhile. at Lokar’s prompting, Jenny was convinced to accompany him to the family graveyard that had so obsessively captured the professor’s attention.  First, however, he chanced taunting Diamante by telling her about the trunk they had retrieved from the attic.  Her dark eyes lit up when it was mentioned but she quickly changed her tune and feigned indifference.  Lokar was sure she was lying.

Ike Gets Bugged

McManor mounted the spiral staircase to the observatory and heard the strange buzzing that Lokar had described.  The detective concluded that the cause must be–insects.  When Claudette reappeared with her tea cup, Ike immediately ordered her to ring up the exterminator.  She protested that it was a Sunday but he insisted.  On her way to the telephone she lingered for a long while at the bar.

The Empty Sarcophagus

Lokar drove Jenny down the drive to the ancient Drake family burial plot.  A large, stone mausoleum stood at the center of the plot, surrounded by many and varied smaller headstones.  One could walk directly into the mausoleum to be confronted by the marble slabs fronting each compartment, the occupants identified by bronze plaques.  Here were interred the Drake patriarchs and matriarchs going back to the early days of Massachusetts.   A rather large sarcophagus soon attracted their attention, as the lid had been pushed aside.  Jenny peered into the open sarcophagus and saw that it had no bottom, instead descending straight down into a dark pit.  She dropped a stone to gauge the depth and soon heard several clicks as it bounced off stone surfaces below.  The two debated on whether to investigate further but thought better of it and returned to the manor.  It could wait.

I Brought The Law, And The Law Won

Late afternoon approached, and the front drive of Drake Manor turned into a parking lot.  First, the Arkham P.D. paddy wagon appeared.  A genial old man in an old-fashioned suit of European cut hopped out the back and thanked the policemen for the ride.  A penny-farthing bicycle was strapped to the roof of the paddy wagon.  The man introduced himself as Dr. Klaiber and set to work tending the wounded amidst an appalling puddle of blood in the foyer.  Claudette had almost forgotten about poor Marianne in the confusion and also directed the doctor to her quarters.  An ambulance from St. Mary’s in Arkham appeared shortly thereafter and, with the help of Dr. Klaiber, loaded Malone and Marianne into the back.  The policeman took custody of Diamante and gently placed her into the back of the paddy wagon, where one of the cops stood guard.  Sgt. “Hound” Bassett and Patrolman Jones began to move everyone out of the foyer where they began to take statements.  Drake Manor was now an official crime scene.

Basset and Jones politely persuaded Dr. Drake to come downstairs and offered him a ride in a real police vehicle.  The APD needed to take some sort of statement from the deluded old fool; besides, they had to give him the unpleasant task of positively identifying his son’s body.  Dr. Drake finally agreed to go with them, as long as they let him ride in the front seat.

Finally, the exterminator arrived in his van, wearing white coveralls and armed with a pump sprayer.  He gave Drake Manor a clean bill of insectoid health.  All that buzzing was just the gosh darned HAM radio in the tower, he muttered.  It was quite odd, he thought, that the only insects in the entire place were in the form of strange doodles made by Dr. Drake, scattered amongst his notes concerning the perturbations of the orbits of Uranus and Neptune…

The investigators watched the procession of vehicles drive off and pondered their next move.  What about those European vagrants in the woods?

(Thus ends Session 3, mercifully.  I immediately drove home and took two ibuprofen.   Next session will be on a day TBD.)

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Ike’s On The Job

SESSION 3, part 1

(I thought another GM was taking over with his game this week but plans changed at the last minute and I ran RoC.  I hadn’t prepped for the session and two unexpected new players showed up.  It got a bit chaotic at times and I had to take a Mulligan on one bit of evidence I relayed to the group but everyone had a great time nonetheless)

New Characters:

Detective Ike McManor.  A veteran of the Arkham P.D., Ike has encountered bizarre occurrences while investigating a group believed to be responsible for pet mutilations around the town.

Peter Malone.  A wounded veteran of the Great War, the last thing he remembers was fighting in the Argonne Forest before suddenly losing consciousness and waking up–minus one eye but with a pocket full of cash–in his hometown, Arkham.  Peter believes that the US Army is after him and will try him for desertion.

The Story Continues

(commence very bad Mickey Spillane impersonation)

Detective Ike McManor chomped the soggy end of an old stogie as he pulled up in the squad car.  McManor was a good cop, an honest cop, and he had been with the Arkham P.D. a long time.  He had sure seen some weird stuff in his day, stuff that would make your gut churn and your head spin, and had been investigating the members of some group calling themselves the Cult of Mu.  Pets had been showing up dead all over Arkham with the Greek letter μ (mu) carved into them and he needed a lead.  Freaks, creeps, bohemians, Europeans–why don’t they stay in Boston where they belong?  Ike was in a bad mood and somebody was gonna pay.  Besides, the Bosox were so far out of first place they might have to start playing local little league teams to get a win.  He wanted to blast a monster, alright–a big, green one.

Riding shotgun was a strange, troubled man named Peter Malone, if that was really his name.  He showed up one day out of nowhere when McManor was trying to collar a local hood.  The hood got the drop on McManor and was going to blast him with his heater–at least, that’s what the hood thought.  Malone was walking along minding his own business but he had an uncanny knack for sensing when something heavy was going down.  Maybe that’s what saved him in the Argonne, why he was still walking the earth and not pushing up the daisies on the end of some Hun bayonet.  He called out to McManor just in the nick of time and Ike drew his service .38 first and filled the hood full of lead.  One more stiff for the meat wagon, one less threat to honest, God-fearing folk.  McManor took a liking to the one-eyed war vet, who also believed that there was something more out there that humans couldn’t explain.  Such as why he had been in a trench moment and wandering the streets of the old USofA the next, short an eye but carrying a wad of green in his pocket.  What the hell had happened to him?   Malone was put to work digging for dirt on the Cult of Mu and McManor fronted him a few bucks and put him up at a boarding house in Arkham.  It wasn’t the Ritz, but maybe that was for the best, because the Ritz sounded way too German for Malone.

McManor heard that Strawbridge had put some P.I.s on the case and that he had been in old man Drake’s pocket for years.  “Straw” wasn’t going about it the right way, by the book, so Ike decided to check things out for himself.  He called on his new friend, one-eyed Pete Malone, and they headed for the outskirts of Arkham.  The two people sitting in the coupe at the turnoff fit the description of a couple of the P.I.s–an old codger in a tweed suit and a young, stylish dame.  Ike pulled up next to the other vehicle and got the low-down from Dr. Kenneth Lokar, some bigshot visiting professor from Hahvahd.  Lokar talked in big words and liked to show off his fancy book-learning.  Ike couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  He knew there had to be a collar in it for him, so he got the other coupe turned around and they headed back toward the manor for some real questioning.   The detective would teach these rookies how it’s done.

Next:  The Situation Escalates

(I’m stopping here because it gets very hairy and confusing.  The remainder of the session deserves its own post.)

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