Thursday, 25 February 2021

Mörk Borg solo - Part 1: « Dans un Styx bourbeux et plombé / Où nul œil du Ciel ne pénètre »

Six figures trudge along a muddy track which cuts through the weed-choked Wästland plains. The air is damp and heavy, the sky the colour of the skin on the pale and bloated corpse the travellers passed one league back.

Yesterday they had been travelling with a caravan. But the caravan had vanished in the night, abandoning them in the wilderness. Now they slog onwards, bound together by necessity more than friendship, though not all are strangers.

[For my first foray into Mörk Borg, I decided to go totally random. The germ of the first adventure was rolled on the Even More Reasons to Risk One's Life tables at the back of the rulebook--

Where do you wander? In the poor Wästland countryside
Who (or what) contacts you? Monk who was bitten at night
Adventure spark: Movement in a black star’s crater

Other than their names, my six PCs were also completely random. They are by-the-book characters without classes, but with rolls on the optional Terrible Traits, Broken Bodies, Bad Habits, and Troubling Tales tables.

I also wanted to establish random character connections. Normally, I'd just use the tables in Zozer Games' Solo, but Mörk Borg's setting is so unremittingly grim that I felt I needed something stronger, so I made my own d66 table to use.

My toolbox for the campaign is--

The character sheets below are somewhat truncated to omit (currently) extraneous information. Classless characters all get 1d2 Omens to spend on re-rolls, which replenish after 6 hours rest. None of them started with any scrolls, so the (1d4+Presence) uses per day of Powers are similarly omitted. I didn't list food or water in the equipment, though everyone has some to start. The attributes are STRength, AGiLity, PREsence, and TOUghness. Armour is only noted for those who wear any; it provides damage reduction, and may increase the Difficulty Rating of Agility and Defence tests. The rest should be obvious.

Right, let's get on with it.]

Leading the band (in marching order, not moral authority) is a nihilistic woman who calls herself Törzug. That isn't her actual name, but the name of the woman whose identity she'd stolen. And who would know the difference, these days? for beneath the gilded mask she wears half her face has rotted away. Glimpsing the decayed skin peeking out from beneath the mask, no one really wants to get any closer to her -- though her state of constant aggravation and penchant for laughing at her own jokes may also be to blame. She drags a mangy donkey behind her.

Törzug
STR+1 AGL+0 PRE+1 TOU+3
Hit Points: 7
Weapons: crossbow +11 bolts (d8), crowbar (d4)
Backpack: metal file & lockpicks
Silver: 60


Behind her is Uth, whom she's only known a short while -- ever since that night in the in the cemetery outside Galgenbeck when they coincidentally tried to rob the same grave.

Uth is a lanky, frail-seeming lass [1 hp!] with wild hair. The ill-repaired scale byrnie she wears was certainly made for someone of greater stature. She has a tendency to lose items and forget facts, but can be quite shrewd when she isn't feeling too lazy to bother. Despite her frailty, there's a healthy pink glow to her cheeks -- matched by the less healthy red glow of her nose, which bespeaks her love of tipple. She's fun though.


Uth

STR+0 AGL+0 PRE+2 TOU-1
Hit Points: 1
Weapons: warhammer (d6)
Armour: Scale (med. -d4, +2DR AGL)
Backpack: lantern + oil for 8 hours, toolbox
Silver: 100


Today, however, she often glances behind herself, partly fearful that the golem tracking her will appear, and partly fearful of the next woman in the rank, Mivls, to whom she'd sold a lame mule.

Mivls is a shrivelled crone, wrapped head-to-to in a greying habit. Her sore-caked hands grip her bow and arrow; she worries too much to ever put them aside, for the golem seeks her as well. Mivls is deceitful, and an insecure shit-stirrer.


Mivls

STR+0 AGL+1 PRE+1 TOU-3
Hit Points: 5
Weapons: bow + 11 arrows (d6), crowbar (d4)
Sack: medicine chest (5 uses)
Silver: 90


So she looks behind herself too, both for signs of trouble, and to study the woman behind her, Vesania, whom the severed head of a poet once told her she was fated to meet from birth.

Vesania limps along, having lost three toes on her right foot. Her forearms are latticed with scars, as she never uses a blade without first testing it upon herself. None of the wounds are fresh, for the last knife she'd owned was left between the ribs of one who'd incurred her wroth. She now fights with a femur plucked from the inmate of a gibbet. She is nihilistic, vindictive, and given to strange dreams. Once she dreamt of a  temple in the bowels of the earth, and ever since has understood the songs of worms and insects.


Vesania

STR+0 AGL+1 PRE+2 TOU+2
Hit Points: 8
Weapons: femur (d4)
Backpack: grappling hook, bomb (d10)
Silver: 40


Behind her comes Dr. Sêps -- but how? She is certain she'd murdered him that night in Galgenbeck.

The suspicious-seeming man in the scholar's cap is Doctor Sêps, a chirurgeon late of Galgenbeck. His sleep is plagued by the nightmares of others, so he must always keep himself at a remove from the rest a-nights. He did try to tell them why he must sleep so far from the fire, but he never can get to the point. His bags are fully stocked with medicine, despite his wastefulness. If only he could find a remedy for the cataract spreading in eyes.


Doctor Sêps

STR+1 AGL+1 PRE+0 TOU+0
Hit Points: 8
Weapons: staff (d4)
Armour: Mail (med. -d4, +2DR AGL)
Sack: life elixir (d6+cure infection), medicine chest (4 uses)
Silver: 90


He has been very solicitous about the health of the young man behind him, Irtinj. Such finery he wears, and the good doctor covets it for himself.

Irtinj can never return to his family estate in Alliáns, having been banished and disowned for unspecified deeds. He's been wandering for months, falling in with one bad lot after the next. He once blacked out in a lotus den in Galgenbeck and came to three days later, covered in blasphemous tattoos. He is shrewd and egocentric, but sometimes whistles when trying to hide [when the d20 comes up 5,7,9,11,13].


Irtinj

STR+0 AGL+0 PRE-1 TOU+0
Hit Points: 4
Weapons: Zweihänder (d10)
Carried: magnesium strip, 15' heavy chain  
Silver: 50


He was once conscripted into the Shadow King's army with Törzug. At least, he thinks it was her...







Scene 1

Chaos:
Average (d10)

Setup: random -  Ambiguous event - persuade / means

NPC List: -

Threads: -

[To start the adventure proper, I rolled a random scene, which indicated a jump directly to the Who (or what) contacts you? result I'd rolled above.

Mörk Borg has a nice d12 weather table, which I roll on for each day (Day 1: Lifeless grey), and every morning I need to check to see if a Misery befalls the world. Miseries are the calamitous events which portend the destruction of the world; the seventh ends the campaign. I chose to use a d20 for the checks, so there is a 1-in-20 chance per day of a Misery occurring. This makes the end of the world about 6 game-months off.

But for today, d20=7, no Misery.]

As the travellers pause at a crossroads to argue over which route leads to Schleswig, they spot a figure in the distance. Weapons at the ready, they watch the figure approach. It soon resolves into the shape of a ragged monk, hand outstretched in what must be a sign of benediction or greeting.

"Left you out here to die, has [d6=]he?" says the monk. "That caravan is always a few travellers lighter when the food starts to run out. [UNE:knowing - report - last scene] But maybe we can help one another. My name is Frater Wemut, and my order can give you food and point the way to Schleswig. If you could look into a small matter for us, for us, that is..."

The travellers cannot but agree.

[d30 Sandbox companion cult tables--
name: Fraternity of the Sun
immediate goal: conversion, everyone
strange cult practices: sleep on bed of rocks

Their temple is (d30) a henge earth bank w/ inner ditch + stones

Q: Do they get to the henge without incident? 50/50 (4+): O1 C9 - no.
Q: Why not? Attach / Dispute

d6=5 peasants accost (1-3 monk, 4 party 5 single PC, 6 everyone) the PCs. Reaction roll is 2d6=11 (helpful) so the encounter shouldn't turn violent.]


As they follow Frater Wemut down the muddy road, they come upon a filth-caked band of peasants vainly tilling the blighted soil. They look up dully from their labours, but upon seeing the monk they become agitated. The leader of the band, a dried-up crone of but 29 winters, addresses the travellers.

"What are you doing with him? There's summat not right about them monks. Get you away form him, it'll be your death else." [UNE: prejudiced - dislike - friends]

Uth steps forward and tries to reason with her. "We are but weary travellers making our way to Schleswig. This kind soul has offered us succour on our journey."

"You're the suckers, if you believe anything what he says," says the peasant.

[Time to let the dice decide how this turns out.

Tests are at the heart of the Mörk Borg rules. A Test is made by rolling 1d20+the relevant Attribute against a Difficulty Rating (DR) of 6-18, with 12 being average.

To talk down the peasants, Uth must test her Presence (of +2) vs. DR14 (difficult): d20+2=12, failure.]


Uth tries to reason with the woman, but is cut off every time she opens her mouth. The peasant implores her at every to have nothing to do with the monk, and Uth soon loses interest in the conversation refusing to hear another word. The peasant stands aside to let them pass; only the farmers' laughter follows them down the road.
The temple, when they reach it, is a disappointment. No warm hearth, no wine cellar, not even a roof -- just stone circles in concentric rings and a ditch round them all. And the whole order comprises but [d20=3] three monastics.

The travellers are treated to a meagre peat fire, sour beer, and some sort of whitish paste that claims to be stew and/or porridge; the cook has conveniently taken a vow of silence when asked about ingredients.

As they choke down the splendid repast, Frater Wemut makes his case.

"A star fell from the heavens, and spat fire over the land. When the fire died down, a smoking crater was left. In its midst sits a cathedral of no known religion. Ten good monks of our order went forth to investigate -- none returned. We hired some mercenaries to go after them. Only one came back, and [d6=] she was mortally wounded. She told a disjointed tale of great riches and terrible horrors. Will you investigate and put an end to this evil?"

"what sort of riches...?" asks Mivls.


Scene 2

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: travel to the crater

NPC List: Frater Wemut, dirt farmers

Threads: investigate the cathedral, find the way to Schleswig

[Day 2
weather: d12=Cloudburst
Misery: d20=5, none

The crater is 1d4-1=1 day's travel away.

Q: Do the monks provide food for trip? 50/50 (4+): O4 C1 - yes, and...]


The next morning, the travellers are awakened by a peal of thunder and a sudden driving rain. Father Wemut explains the crater is a day's march distant, and provides them with enough food to get there and back plus an extra day for exploration. They give him their thanks for the food, groaning (mostly) inwardly when it turns out to be dried cakes of the whitish stew-matter.

[Encounter checks (1-in-6, morning, afternoon, & night): 4,2,1]

The travellers plod off in the direction indicate. They see no one all day, not even wildlife, as they slog through the dreary plains. Somehow they find a sufficient quantity of dry-enough wood to get a smoky campfire going [best Presence (+2) vs. DR16, d20+2=18, success] before they make camp for the night.

But something stirs in the darkness outside the weak circle of firelight. Hungry eyes glitter needfully in the black night, and form a twisted plan in their black hearts.

[Q: What is the encounter? (Location Crafter): Aggressively / Lean =subsistence cannibals

# encountered: d6+1=2. Stats are as Bent (MB p.59)

Q: Who is on watch? d6=Mivls & Doctor Sêps (lucky for him, since he usually sleeps at a distance from the rest!)

Testing the best Presence of the two to notice the ambush (DR12): Mivls d20+1=20, success]


Mivls and Doctor Sêps are sitting with their backs to the fire, making occasional strained attempts at conversation ("Shit weather we're having." "Can't believe what King Fathmu gets up to." "Ever kill a guy from Alliáns?" vel sim.)" when Mivls abruptly shushes him. He strains to see and to hear, and detects footsteps squelching closer though the mud.

"Hey," he calls out. "Who are you?"

[This is the first combat, so as usual I'll explain the mechanics in more detail than normal.

Initiative is handled by a single roll. d6=4, the party goes first]


Two feral looking youths come into the flickering light, clad in gore-stained tatters and wielding equally gore-stained knives... and forks. They drool in anticipation and make to pounce as Mivls nocks an arrow and looses it.

[Hitting with a missile weapon requires a DR12 test of Presence. Mivls rolls d20+1=12, hitting for d6=5damage. The cannibal has no armour, so damage isn't reduced. The cannibal now has 2hp remaining.]

The arrow sticks in her opponent's chest, but he seems not to mind.

Doctor Sêps raises the alarm, trying to rouse his sleeping companions by running round the fire and shouting [forfeiting his attack]. He raises his quarterstaff defensively as the second cannibal lunges at him.

[Monsters don't get attack rolls. Instead, the PC defends against each attack with a DR12 Agility test. The doctor rolls d20+1=15, so the attack misses]

The cannibal cannot get close enough to sink his blade in to the good doctor's succulent flesh.

Mivls does not fare as well [rolling d20+1=9], and she finds the first cannibal's fork protruding from her thigh [d4=3 damage, leaving her with 2hp].

[The Bent have a special ability; the PC with the highest Presence (M, +1) must make a DR14 test at the start of the fight or random PC gets backstabbed: d20+1=17, avoided. (this is here, out of sequence, because I almost forgot it!)]

The cannibal tries to sidle behind Doctor Sêps whilst Mivls is cursing with pain, but she doesn't give him room to safely manoeuvre.

[Round 2]
Mivls drops her bow and snatches her crowbar up from the ground.

[sleeping PCs need a DR12 Presence test to awaken and join the fight: only Törzug and Uth succeed.]

Törzug rolls over and takes up her crossbow. Her eyes are too bleary to aim properly and the bolt whizzes off into the night [miss]. Uth struggles out of her bedroll, warhammer at the ready, but her lurching swing goes rather wide of the mark [melee attacks are DR12 Strength tests; d20+0=9, miss].

Doctor Sêps smashes the iron-tipped butt of his staff into the forehead of his foe with a satisfying crack; the youth collapses in a heap.

[The doctor rolled a natural 20, a critical hit (double damage). d4x2=8, killed.

As half the enemy force is now hors de combat, the remaining cannibal needs to make a morale check (the usual 2d6 roll-under ML). Bent have ML8: 2d6=7, he keeps fighting.]


The wounded youth slashes furiously at Mivls, but she wards off his gruesome knife with her crowbar [DR12 Agility: d20+1=18, defended].

[Round 3]
Törzug is looking for her own crowbar as her three companions advance on the cannibal, but the surprisingly nimble youth evade their weapons [miss, miss, miss]. But at least his knife comes no closer to any of them [Mivls roll d20+1=14, defended].

[Round 4]
The cannibal presses his luck, and feints a Uth. She's not buying it, and swings hard with her warhammer, burying the point in the cannibal's neck. His blood sprays over her as he falls [DR12 STR: d20+0=14, hit. d6=3 damage, putting him at -1hp, dead].

The youths' only treasure is their cutlery. Mivls and Uth each take a knife, which, once disinfected in the fire and whetted clean, should make serviceable fighting daggers.

[For catching her breath and having a little water after the fight, Mivls can recovers  d4 hp. d3=4, all 3 lost are recovered.

For being stabbed by the filthy fork, she needs to test Toughness at DR10 to avoid becoming Infected. d20-3=14, success.]


As Mivls pulls the fork from her thigh and tosses it angrily away, Doctor Sêps shakes Irtinj and Vesania awake and begins berating them for sleeping through the ambush. For their penance, they must take watch the rest of the night.

The others lie down in their bedrolls to sleep. Mivls has a terrific nightmare, dreaming of being caught by the cannibals, flayed alive, and stewed in their pot. Poor Doctor Sêps, who'd grudgingly moved his bedroll closer to the others for safety, shares her nightmare and wakes up screaming.


next post: the crater


Saturday, 6 February 2021

Silent Legions solo - Part 10: All for nothing


31 October

"It's Halloween," says Elgin. "You two making any plans for tonight?"

"I assumed that since Jeanette wanted to meet so early today," replies Cat, "that means she's going to scupper them."

"Too bad," says Amit. "Now that you're clean, I was looking forward to us celebrating in our traditional manner again."

"You two got a tradition?"

"Haha, no, not really," says Cat. "It's just that we had two Halloweens in a row where we went down the pub and both unsuccessfully tried to pull the same goth chick dressed up like Morticia Adams..."

[Scene 27 - another meeting

More specifically, this is the Event (Move away from a thread - escape/stop cult - make / Friend) from scene 26 at the end of the last post.

I extrapolated a bit of detail for the Event's meaning by rolling a Resolution scene--

Resolution: The Enemy is impervious to whatever harm the PCs can do. It’s surrounded by too much political power, too many minions, or is simply supernaturally invulnerable. Its identity may be obvious, but to hurt it, the PCs need the investigation’s clues.]


Jeanette arrives at the new flat alone, 11am sharp, and is eager to get down to business.

"I have, as they say, some good news, and some bad news."

Cat sighs. "Let us have it..."

"Our difficulties with the Circle are now at an end."

"Buuuut...."

"It's because of a necessary détente."

"Wait-- what? why?"

"We... we require their assistance. and they ours." [bring / strength]

"But... they killed--"

"Yes and it's regrettable, but they've suffered losses too."

"You're shitting me."

"Cat, you killed one of theirs. Not an innocent, not a bystander, like they have, but one of the actual cult members. Surely you must see the difference."

"I hate to say it," says Amit, "but it makes a certain sort of sense. Gross, but a certain sort of sense."

"The fuck?"

"Cat, just listen for a minute," continues Jeanette. "We're putting aside our hostilities for a reason. This doesn't make us all suddenly chummy. But it does mean none of you are going to get hurt. Vendettas are to be put by the wayside -- who knows, in time they may be forgotten. There are more pressing matters at hand, and likely will be in the future, and --who knows!-- they may just decide that they're better off courting your favour in the long run. Not that I advise completely throwing in with them; honestly I think our association will be much more profitable to you. And the ceasefire won't last forever, so if you're going to nurse this grudge there'll certainly be a time to act on it. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"What's the catch?"

"Why would you assume there is one?"

"Seriously?"

"Cat," says Elgin, "I think this whole thing is it's own catch."

"OK. Fine. Why though? What's the reason this has to stop right now?"

"I'm afraid I must beg your indulgence a bit further; I don't know." [inform / situation]

"You...?"

"The Circle raised the white flag, so to speak, and my superiors have asked me to treat with them. They want you there, too. They were very specific."

"Please tell me how this doesn't smell like a set-up, because I've no fucking clue!"

"Because outside factors are forcing us together. We neither of us can afford to fight any further now."

"Outside forces?"

"That's all they told me; I'm not sure which one it is."

"How many are there?"

"Later, perhaps. We've got to get to our appointment."

"What if I'd refused to listen to any of this?"

"You're an intelligent woman. I didn't expect more than token resistance."

- - -

Jeanette and Cat take the tube into town. Cat's questions about other 'outside forces' are rebuffed; Jeanette wants Cat focussed on the situation at hand. It's a straight shot on the District Line to South Kensington, but a long one to have to pass in silence. Once out of the station, Jeanette heads straight up towards Kensington Gardens.

"We're meeting our contact by the Albert Memorial," she explains. "His name is Randall. Just look for the bloke in the green pork pie hat."

[He was randomly generated. 1d6=m

Randall
Age: Youthful, perhaps someone up-and-coming in their role.
Profession: Musician, singer, dancer, or other entertainer.
Memorable Quirks: Has a strikingly unusual physical feature (I rolled on the Magic World Appearance table: clothes-hat)
Personality: Moody, Never Hungry (tweaker!)


Q: Has Cat ever met him? 50/50 (4+): O3 C6 - no.

His initial Reaction roll: 1d6+6=8, neutral.]


The monument is surrounded by the usual mix of slow-moving tourists and locals on their lunch hour dodging past them. Randall is fortunately easy to spot with his vivid green hat and very loud, ugly-on-purpose charity shop wardrobe. Cat doesn't remember anyone from the old days called Randall, and when she gets a close look at him she knows instantly why; his intense stare, gaunt frame, bad teeth, scabby hands, and sallow complexion mark him as someone with a mutually-incompatible habit to the one she's just kicked. She's pretty sure she'd hate him even if he didn't dress like that.

Jeanette walks up to Randall and nods in greeting. "Let's walk," he replies, and they set off into the park without any introductions.

[Q: What's the deal? expect / death]

"I'm glad you both came," says Randall. "Cat, I was afraid you wouldn't come after the recent... incidents." [UNE: insane - chaos - recent scene]

"I heard a truce was on offer."

"Quite. We haven't the resources to spare to keep throwing them at you. We need them for other things right now."

"Such as?" asks Jeanette.

"The Hidden Eye of the Iron God."

Jeanette opens her mouth as if to speak, but says nothing.

"So I have your attention, I take it?" continues Randal. "Good. Cat, I'm going to assume that our dear Jeanette's reaction says enough for now, and we can fill you in on all the particulars of this august body later. They're overstepping their bounds right now, trying to accomplish something that could wipe us all out."

"What about the Blessed Sodality?"

"We're approaching them too."

"Surely the Hidden Eye aren't foolish enough to fight a war on three fronts..."

"That's not what they're planning. They're going to complete the Inexorable Adjuration."

"Don't be daft."

"They've found the Hand."

"Surely not! The Hand is a myth, or-- or an obfuscation."

"And yet..."

"How do you know all this?"

"One of their adherents broke with them over it. And has already been killed for their treachery. Quite messily, I might add. They deal with apostasy even more strictly than we."

Cat suppresses a shudder at this statement[Physical save succeeds], but does not attempt to conceal her glare.

"I take it you've a plan," continues Jeanette.

"There could be a way to stop it, yes. I think you can probably guess." [mysterious - uncertainty - weapons]

"I'm sure I can't."

"Oh come! If you can't, then maybe Cat. No? No one wants a go?"

"Don't be boring. If it's this serious, there's no time for games."

"Right then: the Teeth of Rheims."

"If that's what I think it is," says Cat, "then I'm done listening to this bullshit."

"I know how it sounds, but this isn't just a ploy on our part to get it back. The fallout from such a deception would make it scarcely worth our while."

"He's not wrong Cat," says Jeanette. "If they tried to use us and the Sodality just to draw you out, our combined retaliation would be devastating. None of us wants a war right now. You can be sure of that."

"So what's it do then?" asks Cat.

"You haven't figured it out yet?"

"Humour me. If this thing is our best bet, I want to hear you tell me why."

"It disrupts magic, or negates it. It should be strong enough to spoil the ritual."

"Forgive me for asking an obvious question, but shouldn't there be simpler ways of stopping a ritual? Like, shouldn't it fail if we interrupt it or summat?"

"Under normal circumstances, you are correct. This is different. If the Adjuration were performed incorrectly, or the final stage left incomplete, the effects would be catastrophic."

"And the artefact will circumvent this how?"

[Q: Does he know? Unknown 1d6=6: O4 C3 - no, but... (=not sure, but his hypothesis is basically sound)]

"It should strip the power from the hand, rendering it inert." [insane - illusion - relics]

"That will stop it?"

"We'd better hope so."

They soon part, with Randall promising to ring with the final details about where and when to meet. Jeanette spends a long time convincing Cat that they do need to work together, because it really is that serious, and not at all a trap.


[Scene 28 - finale

Setup--

Q: When? 1d4-1= 3 days hence
Q: In Town? (Scarlet Heroes How Far Away Is A Thing? (p.115)) 2d4=Within a day’s ride
Q: Do they only want a small group to go? Unknown 1d6=4: O6 C8 - yes (1 from each of 3 cults + Cat)
Q: Does the Circle understand 'worthiness' in relation to the artefact? Unknown 1d6=4: O4 C7 - No.
Q: Setting? A forested valley in the Brecon Beacons of Wales. Bleached bones and barren rock mark the edge of a steaming pool. (via https://donjon.bin.sh/weird/random/#type=cthulhu_location;cthulhu_location-setting=british_isles_ii). Wales is a bit farther than a day's ride' result above, so I decided on Oxfordshire instead.

NPC stats--

Praveen
Age: Youthful, perhaps someone up-and-coming in their role.
Profession: Street criminal, prostitute, thug, pickpocket, or the like.
Memorable Quirks: Always forgetting things or fumbling simple matters
Social Standing: An unproven person or untrusted newcomer*


Praveen's stats (1d12): 1-2 cultist, 3-5 1HD cultist, 6-9 heavy, 10-11 cult enforcer, 12 serial killer;
7=heavy*

* the Blessed Sodality sent an expendable foot soldier; they probably believe disrupting ritual will prove fatal

Randal's stats (1d12): 1-4 cultist, 5-7 1HD cultist, 8-9 2HD cultist, 10-11 pc class level 1d4, 12 high priest;
4=cultist

Jeanette's stats (from earlier): cultist, 4hp

Q: Do any of the NPCs have spells? 50/50 (4+): O1 C4 - no, but... Jeanette will if she survives

Finally, 1d4 of the 'party' will be armed: 1d4=3; Cat, Praveen, & (1d2=) Randall
only a 1-in-6 chance not to have knives: both have knives]


3 November

Cat waits in Oxford station for Jeanette's train to arrive. She finally catches sight of her as she is queued up at the barriers to exit the platform. She's dressed down considerably, even more so than when Cat led the expedition to the cave. Cat's never seen Jeanette in trousers before. Hell, Cat wasn't sure she owned any.

"Hi, Cat," she says, "I hope you didn't have to wait long."

"No, the bus got in late too. I just got here five minutes ago."

"You took a bus? When you said we should meet at the station, I assumed you had some business here earlier. I'd have gotten you a ticket, you know. At least let me treat you to dinner. I don't suppose you saw a cash point on your way here? We're to all meet at the Lamb and Flag -- the bar is cash only."

The pub is warm and inviting after the chill night air. It's easy to spot Randall, thanks to his hat. At least the rest of his attire is in neutral tones. The representative of the Blessed Sodality is at the table too, whom Randall introduces as Praveen. She's a very short, very surly girl in a black bomber jacket, whose mumbled 'hi' comes off almost as a threat.

Dinner is short and conversation is kept necessarily vague. Randall won't even say exactly where it is they're going afterwards, just repeating that it's in a wooded area. After dinner they catch a bus from the city centre out to one on the neighbouring villages. Randall reluctantly stashes his green hat in his backpack, quickly replacing it with a knit cap -- but not quickly enough to keep the others from noticing he sports a skullet.

Cat's completely lost by the time the get off the bus. She didn't get the village name, and looks round in an attempt to get some sort of bearings. They're on a one lane road, the houses are all semi-detached, and the air smells strongly of wood-burning fireplaces. Randall leads them down a gravelly dirt path between two fences and past a sprawling village pub.

"Mobiles off, everyone," says Randall. "We don't want anyone's ringtone giving us away."

"Fuck, mate, we're not amateurs," opines Praveen. "You don't gotta tell us."

Randall leads them down some winding country roads, then onto a wide dirt track through grassy fields. When they reach a dilapidated set of stone outbuildings with sagging roofs and rotting wooden window frames, he turns off the track to find a narrow dirt track leading into the forest.

"This is it," he says. "There should be a trail behind."

They spread out and scan the treeline, which appears little better than a black blob on this cold, moonless night.

"It's here," says Randall, "They should all be at the clearing by now to set up, but just in case, be ready to get off the path and hide."

"How close do we need to get?" asks Jeanette. "For the artefact to work."

"Close, but not too close."

"You don't know, do ya, mate?" says Praveen. "Bloody typical."

"Follow me. I got pretty decent night vision," says Cat.

She creeps forward along the path, feeling the way with arms outstretched and placing each step carefully in front of the last. She feels a tug on her backpack; Jeanette is holding onto her.

[6+ Wis/Perception to follow trail: 2d6+2=10, ok
8+ Wis/Perception to hear congregants: 2d6+2=8, success]


After a good quarter of an hour (which seems much, much longer) Cat hears voices ahead. She stops and whispers to Jeanette, "I hear them ahead. I think we should leave the trail. OK?" She passes the message back in similar fashion, and the affirmations come swiftly back. Cat shuffles them up into the trees and through some weeds or bushes. Fortunately, the woods are kept well enough that leaving the path presents hardly more challenging terrain than following it. Come to think of it, Cat can't say for certain that she's been following the path at all.

She sees dim firelight in the distance, and wends her way slowly in its direction. Soon it is bright enough that she can make out the silhouettes individual trees between her and it. Her companions become aware of it too, and she feels Jeanette's hand tentatively let go. She looks back over her shoulder, and can just make out Jeanette standing behind her, and maybe Praveen too. "I can almost see you," she whispers. "We should get closer, but keep the trees between us and them."

[To see if they are detected, I rolled the party's weakest Dex/Stealth (+0) vs. the cultist's best Wis/Perception (+2): 2d6+0=12 vs. cultists 2d6+2=5]

They creep up to the mossy trunk of a fallen tree which provides ample concealment.

Peering through the gloom, Cat sees a steaming pool about 20' in diameter. Braziers burn in a semi-circle round it, and the cultists are busily setting up and lighting the rest to complete the circuit. Cat counts [1d20=]13 cultists in all.

Cat takes the artefact from her bag. "There's four of us," she says. "how're we doing this."

"It just needs three to operate," says Randall.

"I'm standing guard," says Praveen, drawing an oversized survival knife from beneath her coat.

"Take this, then, just in case," says Cat, handing her the antique revolver.

"Sick," she says admiringly.

When all 11 braziers are burning, the cultists don robes and take up position between them. The leader begins a shrill, atonal chant, which the other ten in the circle begin to echo. The two remaining cultists drag a bound [d6=]woman to her feet, who struggles vainly against her bonds. The leader speaks some words over her, and makes complex gestures, then she is thrown into the pool. Noxious fumes well up and her screams ring out as the bubbling, acidic pond burns away her skin. The screaming abruptly ends. The chanting rises in pitch.

Meanwhile, Cat, Jeanette, and Randall each take hold of a point of the artefact and begin to concentrate on it. The artefact draws their intention into itself, making their awareness one with the magic.

[Magic save: 1d20=2, Randall is not worthy; his maximum hit points are temporarily reduced by 1.

Cat suffers 1d6 Madness for witnessing the ritual: 1d6=1 (to 37 total).

Q: What happens next? Cruelty / Pain : something bad (but not earth-shattering) comes through

weak outer entity
AC 3, HD 4, Move 40', Madness 1d10, 2x tentacles +4, 1d6 damage, SA: immaterial


Q: Any other effects? 50/50 (4+): O6 C7 - yes : rolling a random Dark Sorcery effect (SL p.44ff): It introduces an alien environment

This last roll set the whole scene. For the alien environment, I decided that all time and space would warp in the local area (picture the graveyard scene from Easy rider). Every round the PCs and cultists would need to make a Physical save in order to act (the entity is unaffected).

There were 18 'combatants' in total, so I decided a map might help run things, but since spacetime was distorted it could be a bit abstract. So I took a cue from classic Traveller and used range bands, which I hastily sketched on an old, coffee-stained piece of scratch paper. Each of the normal cultists was represented by a white d6, the high priest was a d8, the PCs were each assigned a transparent d6, and the monster was a red d10. The cultists were all showing a 6 initially; they all have 1d4hp, so any that took damage without dying had their die rotated to show current hp.

This was fun to play out, but a full round-to-round account would read like a wargame after action report, so I'm going to truncate it to narrate from Cat's perspective instead.]


The artefact becomes Cat's whole world; there is nothing but the metal soft beneath her fingertips, the drone in her ears, the ripples of sensation washing over her. Then there is an abrupt return to consciousness, and the screams start. She looks over to see something emerge from the steaming pool. Then reality lurches sideways.

[surprise round]
The thing from the pond defies attempts to look at it. A mass of colours and fleshy, disconnected substance pulsing and twitching. Fat, loathsome appendages reach out at the high priest, knocking him back into the brush. The thing howls, a sub-sonic ululation more felt than heard. The cultists try to run for the path but the ground, the trees, the air are all warped and stretched, spacetime is contracting and twisting, confusing directions and distance.

[Round 1 - Initiative: it 6, party 5, cultists 1]
The thing smashes the priest to a pulp. Cat feels the artefact snatched from her grasp, and is vaguely aware that Jeanette and Randall are no longer beside her. She wants to run too, but can't find her way past the wall of striated lines or the nexus of terrible screams blocking her path.

[Round 2-3]
Cat is moving now. Forward? She hopes. Follow Jeanette. Is that her coat? It smells like it. Randall lurches ahead of her, carrying something metallic, so bright it glows.

[Round 4-6]
Cat is still dodging past the screams. Some of them snap back behind her as the thing pulps their source. Cat presses on ahead instinctively, even though her feet are so heavy.

[Round 7-9]
A new sound thunders in the cacophony; the revolver sounds once, twice, then is silenced forever. A jittering stain of striated lines appears ahead of Cat, and in the depths of her brain she remembers the stone outbuildings. She lurches towards them, finds a doorway. Inside is darkness and the damp smell of spiders and old life. Cat hides herself behind bales of sour hay. She hears wittering voices nearby, and the smell of pissed-in denim.

Then a shining, three-pointed star floats in through the heaving dark, with Randall attached.

[Round 10-12]
The noise sloshing in the door gets louder as the thing moves through the throng, and the screamers are extinguished.

[Round 13]
The howling is omnipresent, rattling Cat's fillings and the object implanted in her chest. The thing is slurping into the barn.

[its Perception vs. everyone's Stealth:
it 2d6+4=8!
cultist-a 2d6+1=7
cultist-b 2d6+1=4
Randall 2d6+1=7
Cat 2d6+0=9]


There's a wet crunch, and the wittering ceases. Seconds later the air wavers with the impact of a second body against the stone wall [2 cultists slain].

[Round 14]
The shining star wavers in the quivering murk, then abruptly sets beyond the horizon. More wet sounds precede its fall.

[Round 15]
The vibrating howls make Cat want to throw up, but after a brief and painful crescendo drain away into the distance. [Cat gets a Luck save for this to be over: 1d20=14, ok]

Cat stays crouched in the heavy darkness until time and space are righted. She listens intently for sounds of the monster, or movement, or other voices. Hearing none, she creeps out of hiding. She turns on her mobile, using the feeble light of the screen to light her way towards the door. She doesn't dare turn on the torch; she'd rather not get a good look at the vaguely body-shaped lumps on the floor.

But a faint metallic glimmer catches her eye [Wis/Perception 9+: 2d6+1=10]. She stoops down to pick up the artefact. It feels different now. The metal is solid now and brittle, and rubs off on her fingers like old leather. Several of the teeth have fallen out. Once outside she wraps it in a cloth and stows it in her bag.

Cat brushes the hay from her clothes, then hikes swiftly down the dirt road, getting as much distance between her and the woods as she can. She follows the road signs and walks all the way back into Oxford. Once her phone has signal, she rings Jeanette's number, and leaves a message saying to please please please call as soon as she can.

Cat gets on a late bus back to London, and promptly passes out in her seat. She sleeps all the way back to Victoria.

*~*~* finis *~*~*



Post mortem

The Experiment sort of faded into the background as the adventure ramped up, but this whole thing was essentially playing out the world set-up. And even then, there are still huge gaps, e.g. I haven't yet selected 9 Locations for my Region (SL p.89 ff), and even the ones I have defined don't have all their Location Tags rolled up. I've rolled up 4 Cults, though one of them has suddenly lost a goodly chunk of its membership. There's one known Kelipah (the machine realm) and no aliens. But that's plenty to work with, and it's honestly nice to have lost of mysteries remaining.


Quick notes from the last scene

Cat accrued +1d10=2 Madness for encountering the monster (up to 39 total). I probably should have given her 1d6 more for the alien environment, but forgot.

I'm surprised she made it out in one piece. I was really expecting to have to use her Ravenous for Life class ability to survive a mortal wound.

I'd also asked the Oracle--
Q: Is the Artefact still in one piece? 50/50 (4+): O4 C3 - yes, but... damaged in some way
Abnormally / Delicate: completely ruined in 1d100=19 days


XP

That was an awful lot of adventure. The rulebook XP guidelines are not totally applicable, since if I go for XP per session it's way too much, and per adventure somewhat too little.

I thought about using my scene-based XP table from Lalie & Éliane's 1st adventure, but I didn't structure the scenes in a way that would make that work properly. I don't want to alter the scene breaks with each exit/exeunt as I already plotted them on paper to keep track of the adventure. Plus I never varied the Chaos level.

Soooo.... lesson learnt for next time. I will arbitrarily award Cat 3000xp (possibly too stingy) and the other three each 2000xp (maybe too much); but it means they all get to be 2nd level for the next adventure.

For going up a level, everyone gets to remove 10 Madness from their total. They get an additional hit die and re-roll hit points (keeping the old score if they roll lower) and get 4 skill points to spend. (Also better saving throws, +1 Expertise point, and possibly a better attack roll.)

In brief--

Madness: M 0, A 16, E 13, C29

HP: M 9, A 9, E 7, C 13

Skills:
A Leadership 0, Perception 1, 1 unspent skill point
E History 0, research 1, medicine 0
C Athletics 1, Stealth 1
M Perception 1, Stealth 1 (I almost had Mary take Language-0, then decided the 2 increases were more important. But I did decide that she is taking conversational French classes at the Institut Français, so if I ever do spend the skill point for Language I know how she got it.)

I'll put up their complete new stats (with their portraits) when they show up in the next adventure.


Some final notes

The interim between adventures will be: 1d4+2= 3 weeks

Q: Is there fallout with any cult? Likely (3+): O1 C5 - no.

The Circle and Star are both pleased with the results, despite their losses; Jeanette, Praveen, and Randall are all dead. The cults are all licking their wounds and plotting. Gerrit tells the PCs that the Star will be in touch.

Somehow the mutilated bodies in the woods outside Oxford never make the news.

Elgin moves back to his own flat in Greenwich. He's technically 'friends' with Gerrit and the Star: one or both will force him to choose sides if things kick off again. The Circle is neutral, but may attempt a rapprochement if they need his skills.

Cat has been booted out of the halfway house for good, and is couch surfing with Amit.

Amit needs to roll 8+ Cha/Culture-criminal: 2d6+2=9, success; so he doesn't need to pay back his associates for the gun quite yet. He could probably trade the automatic for it if he were desperate.

Cat needs to roll a straight 10+ to find a job in the interim: 2d6=6, no.

Mary occasionally rings Cat to talk, and treats her to the pub. They still meet strange places and in secret. Amit gives Cat shit about it, but neither of them are convinced that it's a good idea for Mary to meet him or Elgin yet.


Next post: new adventure, new experiment

Friday, 29 January 2021

Silent Legions solo - Part 9: The truth, mostly

They leave the cave and the forest, and decide to convene at Gerrit's safehouse to discuss their experience (and relate it to Amit and Yaiza). Elgin elects to go to the A&E first to get his hand looked at.

[Q: Any problems? Unlikely (5+): O4 C8 - no.]

Yaiza takes shorthand notes of everything they discuss. Elgin finally gets back about 7pm, his hand wrapped in bandages. Yaiza still wants to hear his tale, so they order curry and continue the discussions.

Cat's mobile rings whilst they're waiting on the food to arrive. It's DI Wang. Cat ducks into the kitchen for sliver of privacy, not that they can't all hear her every word.

"Hello?"

"We should meet," says Mary.

"Aw, hun, I can't make it tonight... really hung over from yesterday still -- or maybe I should say, 'from this morning'... I'll text you tomorrow.... kiss, kiss!" She hangs up and returns to the front room.

"Who was that?" asks Yaiza.

"Just a girl."

[Persuade 5+: 2d6+0=8, success]

Yaiza is too busy rolling her eyes to notice any deception on Cat's part.

[Cat, Amit, and Elgin recover 2hp each overnight; A&E are back to full, but Elgin's hand is out of commission for the next 4 weeks; Cat up to 5/7hp].

Cat texts DI Wang back before passing out for the night (and sleeping through most of the afternoon). They agreed to a late meeting in a pub by [roll on London hexmap] Bethnal Green.


[Scene 23]

18 October

Paranoia is starting to get the better of them, and they decide that Cat shouldn't go to her meeting alone.

Elgin is on too many anti-biotics to want to go out drinking, so stays home. Amit sets out after Cat to keep an eye one the situation, shadowing her at a distance to make sure no one following. He's made arrangements to meet some friends in the same pub so he doesn't look odd drinking alone. He's got Gerrit's Browning; Cat goes unarmed.

[Amit's Wis/Perception roll 2d6+0=10

Q: Is anyone following? Unlikely (5+): O5 C1 - yes, and... 1d3=1 person, d6=m
Q: Affiliation? 1d20: 1-12 Circle, 13-15 Star,  16-17 police, 18-20 other: d20=Circle
Q: Armed? 50/50 (4+): O3 C6 - no.
Q: Is she being followed to the tube or out of it? 1d2=to
Type/stats (1d12): 1-5 cultist, 6-7 cult enforcer, 8-10 the petty cult NPC, 11-12 the important cult NPC, 1; d12=3

Cultist's Dex/Stealth 2d6+0=9, spotted
Cat's Wis/Perception: 2d6+1=10]


Cat is scarcely 100m out the front door when Amit texts her, 'ur being followed'.

She texts back, 'i no. *know'. Then she sends a quick follow-up text to DI Wang: 'being followed. might be late.'

Rather than heading straight down the hill to Archway tube station, Cat makes a turn at the Karl Marx pub and crosses suicide bridge. She goes down steps beyond it, down the leafy path to the A1, followed by her pursuer and (she hopes) Amit close behind.

[His Dex/Stealth 2d6+1=9 vs. the cultist's skill 2d6+0=4]

Halfway down, Cat turns about suddenly to address the hipstery bloke on her tail. "why the fuck are you following me?"

He responds with absolute, almost inhuman calm. "We've been trying to find you for some time. You have something of ours, and we want you to give it back. I take it you don't have it on you. Bring me to it, now, and maybe you can walk away from this." [UNE: inquisitive - investigation - relics]

"Sod off."

"You seem to be labouring under the delusion that you somehow have the upper hand in this negotiation." [prejudiced - view - current scene]

"Yeah. It's not like me mate is about to blow a hole through the back of your head or something. Oh, wait..."

Amit taps the gun on the back of the hipster's head.

[Morale check: 2d6=3!]

"You're bluffing. You wouldn't dare. Not in broad daylight."

"I dunno. The traffic noise is pretty loud."

"You're not going to risk it though, are you."

"Y'know, you're right. That would be a shit idea."

Cat grabs him by the tour t-shirt for the band he's never seen, and heaves him down the steps.

[Initiative C 7, him 2; her attack gets a +2 bonus to hit, 1d20+4 total=14 vs. AC9, hit. STR vs. STR to resist: 2d6+1(Cat)=10 vs. 2d6+0=7. 1d6 damage from fall (half is subdual only) = 5 damage; he has 1d4=4hp, unconscious]

He careens down arse over tit and lands in the dirt beneath some bushes. Once it's clear he's not getting back up, Cat and Amit retrace their steps and head for the tube. They text Elgin to let them know he cult are onto them, and he might want to think up a new place to hide.

[Q: Any problems/witnesses? Doubtful (6): O5 C2 - no, and...

Questions asked in the last scene which are more pertinent to put here--
Q: Did Mary turn up any info on Gerrit? Unknown 1d6=2, Certain: O4 C3 - yes, but...
Q: Has she heard anything about Cat? 50/50 (4+): O6 C5 - yes]


* * *

"What happened?" asks Mary before Cat has even had chance to slide into the booth across from her. "You said someone was following you, then fifteen minutes later you say 'never mind, be there soon'. Was it a false alarm?"

"Uh, no. But I had someone keeping an eye on me. It's all better now."

"Who was it?"

"Just a mate who looks out for me."

"No, I mean, who was following you?"

"Oh! The cult, naturally. I might need to find a new gaff."

"If it's protective custody you're after, I don't think it would be a good idea. Your name keeps coming up at work."

"Are they still looking for me?"

"Duh! Dead strangers at the halfway house, your disappearance. Remember?"

"Shit. Sorry. This last little while's been unreal."

"Yeah. OK. Look, I ran that name you gave me, Gerrit Ball."

"And?"

"His prints are on file from his naturalisation application, but past that, nothing."

"Damn. I guess I was fishing anyway."

"You want to tell me what for?"

"Not especially, no."

"It's like you don't want my help or something."

"No. It's nothing like that."

"What then?"

"You're safer not knowing too much. I'm doing you a favour by keeping you at a remove from it all."

"Bollocks. You're just making it harder for me to help."

"You're a copper. And as long as it looks like you're just doing your job, there's a reasonable chance you won't seem like a direct theat."

"Just doing my job is how I got involved in the first place. There's police involvement with one or more of these weird cults and before long they're going to catch on to me if I'm not careful. I need to find them out before they get suspicious, or... well, you'll be needing to find someone else to buy you drinks, for starters." [UNE: knowing - history - contacts]

"Fine. I'll tell you everything. And even introduce you to some people -- probably. Actually, I'm not sure yet. Let me try something first. I'll ask my, em, new interested party if they have any clout with the police, and say it would really really help if they could check to see if I'm wanted for questioning or anything still. They say yes, I'll ask them to make sure it's their people that bring me in and ask the questions, so they're sure to clear my name or some shit like that. So then I can tell you who the dirty coppers are, and maybe just how dirty. And then see if it's safe for you to meet people."

"Devious. I like it."

"Let's just hope it works, else we're stumbling about blindly -- which I've been accused of doing once already this week."

"So when are you going to tell me the rest?"

"When you come back with another round? And maybe some crisps."

* * *

Last orders comes, as is its wont, dreadfully soon.

"This has turned out really nice," says Mary.

"It has. Nice to have just... normal conversation for a while. After the first bit, anyways. But I'm afraid I can't linger. You should leave first. I gotta see my friend, and I don't think it's the best time to introduce you two. Especially with his mates here. No offense."

"None taken, 'hun.' Must dash anyway. 'Kiss kiss!'"

"Ha! Sorry about that; there were prying ears present. I didn't want to tip my hand."

"No worries, I guessed. I was so distracted by the cultist shadowing you on your way here that I'd nearly forgotten it. Been planning to give you shit about it all day."

Mary surprises Cat with a goodbye hug then totters out of the pub towards the tube. Cat stumbles over to Amit's table, wandering outside with his friends as a unit. Cat is eventually able to drag him away, and they head back to the flat. They ring Elgin from he front step to let him know they're about to come in, so they don't get shot.

[Q: Everything quiet there? Likely (3+): O5 C7 - yes.
Q: Anyone know of decent place to go? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - yes, but...
But (1d6): 1 far, 2 temporary, 3 expensive, 4 tiny, 5 occupied, 6 actually a terrible idea: 1d6=2;
Q: Whose idea? 1d12: 1-7 A, 8-11 E, 12 C: 1d12=2

Amit needs to roll 8+ Cha/Persuade: 2d6+2=9, success.]


Amit makes a few calls, and eventually cons a friend of his into letting them crash in the flat he usually sublets -- provided they out before [2d6=9 days] 27 October. Elgin is already packed. Cat and Amit throw their things together quickly; they don't have much, though Amit refuses to leave behind acquired the sizeable stack of Georgian-era novels he's bought at the Oxfam.

[Q: They make it to the hidey hole OK? Certain (2+): O1 C8 - no.

Scene 24 - Ambush

Ambush: The most competent available minion of the Enemy is sent to deal with the PCs in a drive-by attack or sniping attempt. They won’t bother to fire a control shot into downed PCs, so even the mortally wounded might survive, and they won’t hang around long enough to invite concerted response.]


As they are walking down the street away from Gerrit's, an SUV parked well behind them starts up, and drives down to overtake them. The traffic is against them (even at this late hour), but it catches up with them as they are walking down the hill. The tinted window rolls down, the SUV slows, and two blasts from a shotgun ring out. [attack rolls are 1 & 6] Buckshot peppers the pavement about 15 feet behind Cat. The SUV speeds up and races down hill.

Cat starts to run. Amit and Elgin struggle to keep up. Her pace doesn't slacken until she's turned into Waterlow park, and the other two aren't terribly far behind. They take a circuitous route through the park, and then stick to minor streets once they're out other side, eventually traversing Hampstead Heath. At length they decide it's safe to take a night bus into town, then another out east.

They reach Amit's friend's flat by 3am, find the key outside under the flower pot, then go inside and collapse: Cat on the settee, the others two on bare mattresses.

19 October

"So Elgin," says Cat as they are waiting for the takeaway at the end of the street to open, "what do you know about the Star's assets. Specifically, do they have any influence with the Met?"

[Q: Does he know? unlikely (5+): O6 C1 - yes, and...
Q: Do they have any police influence? Likely (3+): O3 C8 - yes.]


"They do, as you'd expect of people in their position. Why?"

"Ring Gerrit, then. I have a plan..."

"He's not the string-pulling type."

"what about Jeanette? or --ugh-- Yaiza?"

"They're probably who you want, but..."

"I know. But this will make things quieter. At least I hope."

"Alright, I'll see what I can do. No promises though."

He makes the call. [He needs to make a Cha/Persuade roll, difficulty (1d6+5=) 9+ : 2d6-1=4, no.]

"Well, what'd he say?"

"He said Jeanette or Yaiza will contact us in their own time, and it's not for him to tell them when that is. He was pretty sanguine about his safe house being compromised, though."

"That's something, I guess. What do we do now?"

"Unless you have any better ideas, we wait."

[Q: How long before they are contacted? 2d8-1d6 days: 6 days]

They spend a few days knocking about the flat. Elgin can afford to order in for food to keep them hidden. Amit calls in a favour or two to get more supplies: mostly beer.

Elgin tries to do research online, [Int/Occult 13+ : 2d6+2=11] but turns up nothing of interest.

Amit tries to drum up a new hideout, [Cha/Culture-Criminal 9+ : 2d6+2=11] with rather more success.

Cat texts Mary to tell her to hang tight. She wishes they could meet at a pub, even if there weren't any new leads to discuss, but Mary is adamant she stay hidden. The drive-by shooting made all the papers, but there are no credible suspects.

DI Wang, for her part, is busy snooping round the station. [She uses her Investigator class ability, Leading whispers, to drum up a clue. Following the lead requires (1d6) 1 Persuade, 2 Research, 3 Stealth, 4 Perception, 5 Security, 6 roll twice: Stealth

Stealth 9+: 2d6+1=11

Clue (as Rumour): Misc-terminology, Minor aid (+1)]


She spends a lot of time walking to and from the kitchenette (at least she's staying hydrated!) and finds any excuse to use the photocopier. All the extra motion pays off when she is finally able to eavesdrop on her colleague who had Cat's file. The conversation starts with the mundane (footie, mostly) but when they think no one is nearby turns towards more esoteric matters, hypothesising that with the new actor in play, it might be time to attempt use of the 'Veiled Sword'. [rolled on the Word Elements tables, SL p.78]

She passes the information on to Cat via text, which Cat shares with Elgin.

[What Do Legends Say Of It? (SL p. 81) 1d4= A few hints exist; Int/Occult difficulty 12 to know them.

Elgin rolls 2d6+2=12!

It's a/an (1d6): 1 entity, 2 group, 3 item, 4 spell, 5 ritual, 6 tome: item

When Was It Created? Sometime in the unfathomably distant past.
What Great Deed Was It Part Of? It somehow consumed the soul of a great wielder of it.
Why Was It Created? To blight and immiserate the wretch who was to receive it.
What is the Basic Curse Effect? It eats the wielder’s sanity, inflicting Madness points.
What Kind of Weapon Is It? A large hand weapon like a sword or axe. (appropriate!)
What’s Uncanny About It? It weighs something wrong for its size and material.]


"I've actually heard of it," says Elgin. "It's said to be an ancient weapon which bears a terrible curse, and eats away at the soul of its wielder."

"Sounds like a pretty naff idea, using something like that."

"Yeah, give me a spongy metal tooth thingy any day."

"Point taken. But hey, maybe let's not share this tit-bit with anyone. I'm not 100% sure of the source and I'm not willing to tip my hand just yet, especially not without knowing what it is I'm showing off."

"Fair dues."

[Q: Do any problems arise? Unlikely (5+): O1 C6 - no

* * *

Scene 25 - meeting with the Star

Q: Is it the same group as last time? likely (3+): O5 C8 - Yes.]


25 October

Gerrit eventually rings up to say the Star wants another meeting. Elgin texts them the address of the new hideout in Bromley-by Bow. The front room of the flat is set up the same way as they had set up for the meeting at Gerrit's safe house, but this time Amit is fully in the circle and they've bought a few bottles of decent(ish) wine from the offie. Yaiza, Jeanette, and Gerrit arrive as punctually as before.

[Q: How is the NPCs' mood? as reaction roll: 2d6=8, neutral

Amit uses Folie à deux (Socialite class ability) on Yaiza to make her favourably disposed towards him. The rules state that "humans tainted by the supernatural may make a Mental Effect saving throw to resist this ability for an hour". I haven't yet determined if she is or not (or if she's totally human, etc.) so I rolled her saving throw pre-emptorily: 1d20=4, a failure whether or not she was due one, so player-me can remain in the dark about her for now.

Q: Did the NPCs get anywhere with their research? Likely (3+): O6 C7 - Yes.
Q: Did they get more information about the artefact? 50/50 (4+): O1 C1 - no, and...
+Event: NPC negative - Yaiza - respect / existence : Jeanette makes her apologise]


"Before we get started," says Yaiza to Cat, "I feel I should apologise for our first meeting. I was unnecessarily harsh with you when I should have been conciliatory. I treated you like a child when you were no worse off than we were, and perhaps knew a bit more about the situation."

"No worries," says Cat. "Things are pretty fucked up. There's a... a significant body count, for starters."

"Yes. quite. And that threatens us all with exposure."

"You don't have any, uh, influence with the police do you? I had a thought about how to turn the heat down."

"We do, but if it were that easy..."

"Hear me out. Have your people bring me in for questioning. My statement can be whatever we need to make this go away, or even point back to the cult, or... well, anyone you're finding inconvenient." [Cha/Persuade 9+: 2d6+0=11]

"A bold proposition," says Jeanette, "though it may have some merit. But why would they want to question you?"

"I disappeared after the cult tried to kill me at my --ahem-- my residence. They killed a couple people trying to get to me, and one of them took a bullet as I was making my escape."

"And I suppose you'd like them to, ah, determine that it wasn't you who fired the shot?"

"I was hoping that, yes."

"It'd be best they do," interjects Amit. "Cat hid the artefact last, so if you want it to remain in play..."

"Of course, says Jeanette. I'd hoped this offer was a demonstration of trust, but on the other hand I have to admire your resourcefulness. Regardless, if we do arrange this interview, you can take it as read that any warrants or suspicions will go away."

"This could take a few days to arrange, says Yaiza."

"We need to move house again," says Amit. "But other than that our dance card is empty."

"Right," says Jeanette. "On to other matters. Elgin, some of this will not be news to you, but the time has come to give our new colleagues a glimpse of the larger picture. Before I begin, though, I find must congratulate you other two on your willingness to accept the reality of everything that's been going on."

"I first met the cult before they were legit. It's why I gave up on them."

"I'm still not so sure about this all," says Amit, "but some seriously messed up stuff has happened, and I can't just explain it away, so..."

"Understood. Now, where to start?  The world, as we know it, is but a small piece -- a layer, if you like -- of a greater reality. You've had some small experience with one of these -- meaning the machine realm we visited in the cave -- first-hand. There are entities of indescribable power -- call them gods, demons, or what have you -- dwelling in some of these places, which mages and mystics have tried to contact through the ages for knowledge, wisdom, or to gain some of that power for themselves. The adherents of the Circle of the Shadow Chalice are firmly in this last category. They are currently engaged in trying to contact, or perhaps even summon, the being called Tlluüb-yog-Lhoguriqvor in certain pre-human scriptures, and known more commonly as the Speaker of the Sleeping Mirrors. These 'mirrors' are in fact gateways, and the stone sphere in the cave is one of them. There's more. Much, much more; but I think this is more than enough to absorb for one day. And leads us back neatly to the problem at hand: how to stop the Circle."

"We tried taking that rock out of the cave," says Amit, "but no joy. I think maybe it didn't let us."

"Do we think they know what it does?" asks Gerrit.

[Q: Do they? Unlikely (5+): O4 C3 - no, but...]

"They must know the artefact's origin," says Jeanette. "The metal..."

"Of course," says Gerrit, "but that's assuming they've been through the gate."

"They tried to bring me in to look at the writing," says Elgin, "but Cat warned me off them."

"There are two ways through, though," says Cat. "With the offerings and without."

"Yeah, the first time she didn't disappear," says Amit.

"We can only guess at this juncture," says Yaiza.

"So, where does this leave us?" asks Elgin.

No one has a good answer for that, so they agree to look into things further, then part to make their various arrangements.

[I've alluded to rolling up the Speaker of the Sleeping Mirrors some time before Scene 18 to flesh out the Circle a bit, but I didn't want to reveal any more than was strictly necessary until now. Beyond generating this entity, all I know about the Other Gods is that there are (2d6+2=) 8 in total, three more independent entities and a pantheon of four. In my second adventure I have started to detail another of the independents, but no one has yet spoken its name. I am determined to keep things mysterious in this campaign as long as possible.  

Tlluüb-yog-Lhoguriqvor
Trait: relict, from a former age of reality
Portfolio: roads
Mode: See
Epithet: Speaker of the Sleeping Mirrors

* * *

It will take 1d6=5 days to set up Cat's "arrest".

Q: Anything important happen until then? 50/50 (4+): O5 C3 - yes, but...

1d4=Amit has to deal with mundane things in the downtime.
Int/Culture-criminal 6+: 2d6+1=7
Cha/Persuade 6+: 2d6+2=7; a few phone calls to the right people and it's all cleared up.

27 October - move into a new flat]


[Scene 26 - the "arrest"]

29 October

Jeanette rings Cat to discuss her "arrest", which needs to happen the following day. Cat tells her the plan she's cooked up, and the arrangements confirmed. Cat texts Mary the details to keep her in the loop.


30 October

Cat goes back to halfway house, ostensibly to ask staff about collecting her stuff. She starts right in with the insincere apologies, false promises, and arguments they'd be expecting, painting herself as the real victim here and innocent as a saint. She keeps one of them talking whilst the other goes into the office to call the police as she knows they are required to, given that she's wanted on warrant. She's unnerved at just how easily she's fallen back into her old junkie routine, and fortunately the police arrive before too long and take her to the station in handcuffs.

At first, Cat starts to think she's engineered her own demise; everything from the arrest to the beginning of the interrogation is done absolutely by the book. It's only when one of the [1d3=] two interrogators winks at her when asking for her side of the story that she realises it's going to be ok. They ask her a number of subtly leading questions and in the end her innocence is established. When they finally turn off tape, they mention that Jeanette says hi and that she'll be wanting to meet early tomorrow, so get a good night's sleep.

[Mary needed a Dex/Stealth 8+ to get a glimpse of the interrogators: 2d6+1=10, success. Cat's Wis/Perception roll is 2d6+1=4 so didn't notice her there.

Q: Is either of them the one who had Cat's file with the x-ray? Likely (3+): O5 C6 - yes.
Q: Does the x-ray come up during their conversation? Unknown 1d6=6: O5 C5 - no.
+Event:  Move away from a thread - escape/stop cult - make / Friend (see next post)]


Cat texts Mary from the bus. Once she's home she rings her so they can discuss it properly. Mary confirms she knows who the officers in question are, and promises to let Cat know anything else she can find out.


next post: a surprising conclusion

Monday, 25 January 2021

Silent Legions solo - Part 8: Misgivings and sacrifice

16 October

"Hey, Cat, you're finally awake."

"Coffee....."

"I'll put the kettle on."

"Elgin, are you... cleaning the kitchen?"

"Gerrit rang this morning, says he set up a meting with some representatives of the Message of the Austere Star. They're coming round here at 7:00 for an 'informal chat', as he put it. So I'm trying to make the place a little more presentable. Maybe you and Amit can pop over to the Tesco for some refreshments."

[Scene 21

The Respite scene was set to end on the 16th, so:
Q: What happens next? (1d20) 1-4 ambush, 5-8 conflict, 9 resolution, 10-11 hook, 12-13 intro, 14-17 investigation, 18 socialite challenge, 19 investigator challenge, 20 scholar challenge
1d20=6

Conflict scene: An important Actor has a deep dislike for the heroes for some reason they can’t control. They refuse to give the help or permission the heroes need unless they can be convinced or bribed to relent.

NB It will take 1d6 days (from the 13th) for DI Wang to check up on Ball: 1d6=4 : 17 Oct.]


They aren't expecting a trap, but decide that a bit of caution is the best way forward. Amit has the automatic under his hoodie, Cat sticks the antique revolver under the settee cushions in easy reach, and Elgin has a pocket knife. The door buzzer sounds at 18:58 (Elgin had said they would be punctual), and Gerrit appears with [1d3=] two representatives of the Message of the Austere Star, for whom he makes curt introductions whilst Elgin takes their coats.

[Q: Which has the Conflict? 1-4 Yaiza, 5-8 Jeanette, 9-10 both; 3

Yaiza
Age: Aged or mature in their position.
Profession: solicitor
Spanish


Jeanette
Age: Aged or mature in their position.
Profession: flautist
British - Black - Caribbean
]


Yaiza is an older woman, wearing a tailored suit jacket and matching pencil skirt. She looks down at the assemblage over her wire rim glasses with a sour air. Her English betrays even less of an accent than does Gerrit's, and Cat is reminded of the Star's Oxbridge origins.

Jeannette seems much younger than her 50 years would attest, but is only slightly less formal than her colleague; her floral print dress strikes Cat (correctly) as having been bought in one of those chichi boutiques that somehow stay in business despite only ever having six items for sale.

Cat and Elgin share the settee, whilst Amit perches behind on a stool at the breakfast nook. The guest are seated across the coffee table in an armchair and a pair of chairs from the kitchen table.

"I'm sorry for the primitive accommodations," says Gerrit. "But I keep this flat as a safe house, not a conference centre."

"If anyone's thirsty," says Cat, "there's, uh, there's plenty of beer in the fridge. I think maybe that was a miscalculation about how best to play hosts..."

Yaiza declines with a sigh, but Gerrit and Jeanette accept. Jeanette even conceals her disgust when Amit asks if she wants a glass or if just the bottle is ok.

"I'm glad you've agreed to this meeting," begins Gerrit. "I think we can reach a mutually beneficial agreement about the situation." [UNE: friendly - gratitude - last scene]

"So, this is the person the Circle are unable to catch?" says Yaiza.

"That's me," says Cat.

"And just what is your connection to them?"

"Uh, I used to know some of 'em, but that was another life ago. Now, it's just this shit."

"So she's one of them from... before."

"My dear Yaiza," says Gerrit, "she was never actually one of them."

"A hanger-on, then. Really, that's worse."

"No, they were all wankers," says Cat. "I ditched them pretty fast."

"In favour of what, exactly?"

"Nothing that has any bearing on the present."

"That's your assertion."

"Is that a question?"

"Perhaps," interjects Gerrit, "we should discuss our more immediate circumstances and interrogate the past at a later time."

"If we must!" sighs Yaiza.

"The artefact," says Jeanette. "May we see it?"

Amit looks over at Cat for confirmation, then wordlessly goes into the bedroom to fetch it. He brings it back and sets it on the coffee table, teeth upwards, metal glinting in the overhead lights."

[Q: What is their reaction to seeing it? Joyfully / Classy]

"My word!" exclaims Yaiza. "It certainly is everything you said it was, Gerrit."

"May I examine it?" asks Jeanette.

"Knock yourself out," says Cat.

[Is she worthy? Magic save 1d20=20, yes] Jeanette turns it over in her hands, curiously but otherwise unmoved.

"I assume you don't need me to translate the inscription," says Cat.

"Recte dixisti," says Jeanette.

"Let me see it, then," says Yaiza.

[Is Yaiza worthy 1d20=7, no; attempt to not show it: 2d6=6 vs. C's Pcn: 2d6+1=8, vs. E's 2d6-1=9, A's 2d6=7]

She can't hide her sudden revulsion when she touches it. "This--" she shudders, then replaces it on the table and starts again. "This is what they've been after, then. The cause of so much unpleasantness."

"How much do you know about it?" asks Elgin.

[Q: Do they know much? (=Oracle Odds) 1d6=5, unlikely (not much)
Q: How honest are they? 1d6=6!]


"Not a great deal, it must be said," says Jeanette.

"More than us," says Cat. [Persuade 6+: 2d6+0=6 believed] "What do you know?"

"We've heard rumours of this item, but no more," says Yaiza. "We don't know what it's supposed to do, nor by whom nor for what purpose it was made. We'll need to examine it in detail. If you let us bring it back for proper study, we'll be able to understand it. We have considerable resources." [knowing - records - knowledge]

"How stupid do you think I am? I'm not giving it away that easily."

"We'd bring it back--"

"Like fuck you would!"

"Really! I thought we were working together."

"Maybe we are. It's early days yet, so I'm not sure. And I doubt very much if your lot are, either."

"You'd do well to trust us, you know. Or at least listen. Your stumbling about blindly is almost as bad as the Circle's." [hostile - submission - the character]

"I got this far, didn't I?"

"If she isn't going to help us, then I fail to see the point of this interview!"

"This isn't going to get us anywhere!" says Elgin, exasperated. "Cat, I reached out to the Star because they have every reason to help us against the cult, and none at all to stab us in the back. It would be counter-productive for them. But you have to be willing to meet halfway."

"Fine. D'you guys know anything about the cave?"

[Q: Do they ? Unlikely (5+): O1 C8 - no]

"A cave? no. what's the connection."

"It's, uh, let me get my notes." Cat rummages through the end-table drawer to find the pad she bought at the BL. "It was mentioned in a medieval chronicle. In passing. A scholiast's footnote, even."

"That's all?"

"Fraid so. But here it is: 'Atque hoc die veneficum, Sextum Rhemnium, in silva Eppingam in spelunca numinibus obsessa interfectus est, ut dentes rem metalli insoleti quasi maxillam triplicem ornarentur (And on that day the sorcerer, Sextus Rhemnius, was put to death in the a fairy-haunted cave in Epping forest, and his teeth used to adorn an object of strange metal, like a three-pronged jawbone).' That's literally all it said."

"And this Sextus Rhemnius...?"

"A dead end. I couldn't find him mentioned anywhere else."

"Disappointing. So none of us have any idea about its purpose." says Jeanette.

"What about this cave then?" asks Yaiza. "I assume you've found it. Why don't you fill us in. Perhaps that will assist with our research." [scheming - means - previous scene]

"You want to take a field trip? We can go tomorrow, if you want."

[Q: Agree? Likely (3+): O6 C3 - yes, but...]

"This is likely to be a major undertaking, yes?"

"I mean, you should prolly wear trainers, if that's your question."

"We'd need to make sure we had the right team put together."

"We're going to find a little cave, not looking for the source of the Nile. Besides, we go in equal groups or we don't go at all."

"There's no bargaining with  you, is there?"

"I'd be surprised." [Persuade roll 7+: 2d6+0=11]

"Until tomorrow then. Where do we meet?"

"There's a coffee place two doors down from Mile End station. 11:00 to avoid the lunch rush."

"We'll see you there."

Their business concluded, they soon make their exit. Cat, Amit, and Elgin look at one another for a few moments before Amit breaks the silence: "Anyone ever seen Treasure of the Sierra Madre?"

[Q: Anything happen overnight? Unlikely (5+): O2 C6 - no]

[Scene 22]

17 October

The next morning, Cat gets up early to once again stash the artefact at the left luggage in Euston, then meets up with Amit and Elgin to buy a few supplies before heading to the meeting.

[Q: Do the NPCs try anything funny? Unknown 1d6=6, Doubtful: O4 C6 - no.
Q: Do the same 3 arrive? Likely (3+): O3 C1 - yes, and...
Q: Armed? Likely (3+): O1 C3 - no, but... just Gerrit (pistol, knife)

Investigation scene : Obtaining the clue is trivially easy, but parsing it or identifying the importance of an object requires visiting a Place, where further information is under guard of one or more challenges]


Yaiza, Jeanette, and Gerrit are already at the coffee shop when they arrive. After perfunctory greetings, they head back to the tube as a  group and take the train out to Theydon Bois, whereupon they follow Cat along the fairy path into the cave.

There are no signs that anyone has been there recently; the stone codex is still buried.

"It's under here," says Cat, her words echoing in the hollow chamber.

Elgin shows the pictures he took.

"Are you saying we came all this way to see a photo on someone's mobile?" says Yaiza.

"Dig it up if you like," says Elgin.

"I brought a trowel," says Cat. "I think we prolly ought to dig it out if we're to do this right."

The spherical stone is soon uncovered. Everyone crowds round to examine it more closely.

"Well?" asks Cat.

"Well what?" snaps Yaiza.

"What do you make of it?"

"I'd like to know what it's for." [inquisitive - interest - power]

"I can show you. But I have to warn you. It isn't pretty."

A long pause ensues.

"We're waiting," says Yaiza.

"It's not that simple. I need volunteers."

[Q: Does E want to go? 50/50 (4+): O4 C8 - yes.]

"Can you stand guard by yourself, mate?" Elgin asks Amit.

"No sweat. I brought a book."

"No," says Yaiza. "Equal numbers or not at all. As Cat has taken pains to point out. Gerrit, Jeanette, I believe experiments like this relate more to your skill sets than mine."

[1d3=Yaiza stays behind

Jeanette's stats as (1d12): 1-4 cultist, 5-7 1HD cultist, 8-9 2HD cultist, 10-11 PC class level 1d4, 12 high priest; 1d12=4 cultist. Gerrit has cult enforcer stats. I won't roll Madness for them, relying instead on the Oracle to determine their mental states.]


"Right, then," says Cat. "Let's get set up."

Elgin explains his translation as Cat and Amit spread blankets on ground round stone in a + pattern. In the angles between the blankets they place empty plastic takeaway containers and fill them with porridge oats. Yaiza rolls her eyes but is otherwise silent.

"Whose blood, then?" asks Jeanette.

"Mine," says Cat. "Despite my previous life, I still have veins left."

Cat cuts her left forearm, and bleeds over the stone. Amit bandages it for her with a roll of gauze. [1d4=2 damage, leaving her with 5hp. NB the damage is much higher than the simple cut would physically cause, but is in line with the other blood sacrifice spells in the SL rulebook.]

The four lie down on the blankets, heads towards the stone. "If I'd know this were a sleep-ritual," says Jeanette, "I'd not have had a double espresso whilst waiting for you."

"I brought a bottle of valerian, if anybody wants some," says Elgin.

"Is that a good idea?" asks Jeanette.

"Is any of this?"

The bottle of dank-smelling pills is passed round, with lucozade to wash them down. Then they lie back and drift off to sleep...

[Q: Does the blood being only one person's affect things? unknown 1d6=1: o5 C2 - yes, and...
Q: What happens? receive / conversation
Q: Is everything else the same? Unlikely (5+): O2 C6 - no.
Q: What's different? chamber]

...and then they are standing on a rusty iron grating in a cramped space at the bottom of a narrow metal stairwell. The floor vibrates and hums with the rumble of distant mechanisms. The air is think and clammy and has a slight scent of acetone.

"This looks like it did last time, but..."

"But what?" asks Elgin.

"We're in a different part. Like the entrance moved or something."

Cat heads up the stairwell, and the rest follow. At the top is a room with grinding machines in the centre, too loud to shout over. They follow Cat through a maze of dingy metal corridors which lead eventually out onto a walkway. Below them is an immense space [Ceaselessly / Horrible] filled with decomposing, possibly human remains. Now and then a new one falls from a grinding conveyor belt onto the pile.

[Madness +1d10: E+7 to 15, C+3 to 30

Q: How do the NPCs react? Politely / Natural]


Jeanette quietly murmurs, "Oh dear." Gerrit remains silent.

"Let's not go through this way," says Cat. There are no arguments.

They go back in to the corridor and try a new direction. It opens up into a series of interconnected chambers. Machinery thrums and whines softly. There is constant motion. Beside the static machines, the spaces between are [Frantically / Creepy] full of scuttlings and half-seen spidery things rushing about on the fringes of the sleepers' vision.

"Why did you bring us here?" asks Jeanette.

"So we're all on the same page."

"Did you bring the artefact?"

"Of course not. I --we-- don't know what it does."

"Fine. But is there something you wished us to see here?"

"I told you, this isn't the same exact part I was in before."

They continue forward into [Fearfully / Mysterious] a chamber filled with nearly opaque yellow mist, smelling faintly of the morgue. [Peacefully / Scary]

[Q: Must they go through? 50/50 (4+): O5 C7 - yes]

"Do... do we turn back?"

"I'm not sure we can."

"I can't see a thing."

"We'd best join hands."

"Who's leading."

"I will," says Cat, "unless anyone else wants to take over."

She takes their silence as assent. They follow her through the mist, each keeping a hand on the wall to their left. Eventually the wall falls away and they are left to proceed without any reference point.

[Q: How does it end? Hastily / Empty]

They creep forward through the all-pervasive mist for a few minutes or aeons, then there is a loud, resounding click as millions of holes open in the floor beneath them, and a with a hiss the mist is sucked through. A haze persists high above them, obscuring any ceiling, but the metal walls of this immense cavern are surrounding them can just be seen in the distance.

Before them towers [via https://donjon.bin.sh/weird/random/#type=alien_technology] an irregular cyst of cold metal.

[Q: Is this related to the receive / conversation result above? 50/50 (4+): O3 C7 - no.]

This looks like the same metal as artefact is made of," says Elgin, and touches it to be sure.

[Q: Does anything happen? Likely (3+): O6 C6 - yes : (as Dark Sorcery effect) Summons a hideous disease at the target site
+Event: Horror - NPC - Jeanette]


As Elgin pushes and prods the spongy metal, the skin on his hand begins to blacken and ooze. He pulls away with a yelp.

[Poison rules seem to fit better than disease here, so... (SL p.156) 1d8=Tissue necrosis. Interval 1 hour, First failed save inflicts 1d4 damage, Adds +1d4 for each failed Interval. 1d6=2 intervals total.

Elgin's Luck save is 13: d20=15!

Jeanette suffers a Dark Vision (ibid. p.173) - hearing - The place the PC needs to be for their purposes. - The PC can talk only of the vision for ten minutes.]


"Listen!" says Jeanette as they are tending to Elgin's gruesome injury. "That sound! We must follow it!"

She runs off. None of the others hear anything, but they don't want her getting separated from the group in this place. They run after her. She keeps pausing to cock her head and listen for the sound that none but her can hear, so fortunately it isn't hard to keep up. She is babbling the whole time about the sound and how it will reveal everything.

The cavern wall comes into sharper view, and Jeanette heads directly for a triangular opening and plunges into the darkness beyond. The rest pause at the threshold, but Cat steps defiantly inward. She walks forward slowly, hands outstretched, and her eyes finally distinguish a feeble yellow glow in the distance. She calls to her companions to follow.

The glow resolves into a doorway. Inside is a room lined with metal shelves, racks, and machinery. Another machine or being grows out of the floor in the centre. Its body is a conical, segmented column. Many whiplike metal appendages protrude from the body at all angles. A small, vaguely human-like head surmounts the column, which is at least 9' tall.

[Its reaction to Jeanette: 2d6=6, neutral

Average armoured Abomination (SL p.150), d6 Madness. C+2 to 32, E+5 to 20; Mental effect (14+) save for Elgin to avoid a Dark Vision: d20=18!]


The thing begins screeching and whirring and moving in an agitated fashion, each body segment twisting in opposite directions, the limbs and protuberances flailing.

The wound on Cat's forearm opens and her blood issues forth in a stream, floating up into the air to the creature's mouth. Its screeches resolve into words in her mind.

"You should not be here."

"we're lost. We aren't exactly sure where here is."

"More seekers after power. You're foolish to disturb our work." [UNE: knowing - examination - campaign]

"Seekers, yes, but only after wisdom. To stop those who foolishly strive for power."

"You understand it?" asks Elgin.

"Yes. Shut up."

"You trespass in the factory. You do not belong. You bring the tribute, yet you are not welcome. You will disrupt the work." [insane - chaos - recent scene]

"Show us the way out. We will gladly leave and trouble you no further."

"Leave through the shining portal. Do not return." [friendly - aid - current scene]

The thing's flailings on one side become more pronounced, though perhaps only Cat notices.

"It wants us to go this way," says Cat. "Come on."

"Wait! What did it say?"

"Later. Let's go before it gets upset."

She doesn't wait for an answer, but walks off between some machines. The others grab Jeanette's hand and follow after.

The corridor ends in a narrow walkway suspended between titanic structures. They clutch the corroded railings as they follow Cat trying not to look down at the impossible machine-landscape, 1000 feet below.
[Q: Is there one last peril? unknown d6=5, unlikely: O1 C4 - no, but... 1d4 Madness for view: C+4 to 36, E+3 to 23]

The dizzying vista would be sufficiently unnerving, but the almost sub-audible screams carried up on the breeze will haunt the travellers' psyches for many weeks to come.

After an eternity they reach the second edifice. The gateway before them is a baroque structure of the spongy, coppery metal. There is dim light within, and yet nothing can be clearly distinguished. One by one, they pass through...

[Q: Any problems? Likely (3+): O1 C3 - no, but...]

...and awaken on the ground in the cave.

"Shit!" yells Amit. "Are you guys ok?!!"

"No," says Elgin. "My hand's really bad. Smells like sepsis."

"Shit mate! What happened?!"

"Chill," says Cat, stifling a yawn. "We're fine. It was really weird. Different--"

"The hell, mate?!"
 
"See," says Yaiza, "I told you they'd be back. This panic is uncalled for."

"Back?" asks Jeanette. "What do you mean?"

"The stone is a gate of some sort."

"You all fucking disappeared!" says Amit. "This didn't happen last time!"

"The offerings," says Elgin. "They must have activated the gate."

"The blood disappeared with you," says Yaiza, "but the oats are still there."

"I told  you not to get the Tesco value ones," says Cat.

[The bad air does 1d4 damage, Physical save for half; the air actually seeps in from the machine realm, so no one is off the hook.

C save 2 damage to 3hp
A save 1 damage to 5
E fail 1 damage to 2
J fail 3 damage to 1
y save 1 dmg to ? (assuming the NPCs have more than 1 hit point normally)
G fail 1 dmg to ?

Elgin's 2nd poison save: 17, no damage. He can't use his hand for a while, but he won't die...]


"I feel really ill," says Jeanette. "Can we get out of here now?"


next post: police procedural