The fourth day hence sees our merry band of intrepid investigators taking a little trip to attend a lecture in London as the guests of a Professor with whom they have at least a passing acquaintance.
Will they go nutso by the end of the first session, or merely expand their horizons a smidge? Mayhap they'll get mowed down in a hail of lead, a mercy compared to the horrors and travails lurking ahead of them in the weeks of game time to come.
Although 'twould be a shame for them to die so early on...
IA!! IA!! The Doom Train claims many lives!!
Our investigators, after looting the shotgun and wallet from Robin Leach's mangled corpse, drag the twice-dead corpse of the unidentified woman into the farmhouse, fire the place and beat a hasty retreat before the local Barney Fife arrives.
The three surviving investigators undertake some basic language tutelage for the next six months before Professor J. A. Smith summons his American associates and friends to attend the 1922 Challenger Trust Banquet-Lecture at the Imperial Institute in Kensington. There they meet Leach's cousin - a private investigator pioneering the art of photographing cheating spouses inflagrante delecto - as well as our 5th player character, one Martin Brewer, a London antiquities dealer educated at Cairo University.
Enjoying the lecture and congratulating Professor Smith on his fascinating lecture on epiphenomenal haunts, a few of the investigators noticed a swarthy complexioned bushy mustachioed foreign gentleman observing the congratulations. Noticing that he had been noticed, the stranger makes a gesture of apology before losing himself in the crowd.
The morning of 26th December 1922, while perusing the London Times, our investigators read in horror that their friend's house burned under mysterious circumstances. Additionally, they learn that three men of Turkish persuasion, bearing superficial similarities to each other *and* all bearing papers identifying them as one Mr. Mehmet Makryat.
The incestigation into this horrid matters began in earnest, with a twist appearing under their door via a wax-sealed envelope bearing Professor Smith's signet. Inside, a cryptic summons to the Cheap Side of London to attend to most urgent matters.
Attending to the summons that evening, the investigators encountered the hideously burned Professor Smith and his trusted manservant Beddows. After the wheezing, quickly degenerating Professor roped the investigators into tracking down and destroying something called the "Sedefkar Simulacrum", scattered across Europe from Paris to Constantinople.
Beddows then handed our intrepid investigators a valise with a thousand pounds (200 5-pound notes) to aid them in their endeavors to come.
The next few days' time the investigators badgered Scotland Yard into giving up copies of the pictures taken of the three deceased Makryats, learned that three men had been skinned (apparently alive) - one his chest, the second his arms, the third his legs - and investigated the recent disappearance of a certain Henry Stanley of Stoke Newington.
Mr. Stanley had quite the fondness for trains, to the point of explaining why he was a never-married bachelor of 41 renting a room. Talking to the same harried Scotland Yard detective with the Makryat case, they learned that the president of the London Train Spotters' Association, one Arthur Butters, was tasked by Scotland Yard to investigate Stanley's train set to see if it could have electrocuted the poor man.
The investigators also learn of the gruesome history of the train this particular set modeled: an 1897 derailing that injured or killed hundreds, with the engine, coal car and first two passenger cars nowhere to be found, nor the crew and passengers recovered.
Meeting up in the basement of the LTSA where the train was set up, Professor Calvin Lancaster, one of the three survivors from the first session, flipped the switch setting the odd train into motion.
Around and around the little train went upon its peculiarly-twisted figure-eight pattern, the investigators unsure of what would happen, if anything.
Upon completing the 44th lap shimmering track ghosted through the building's basement before the locomotive from the 1897 derailment shunted into this world in a cloud of steam.
The train stopped very near Professor Lancaster, agape as the apparitions of people in 1890's dress seemingly disembarked as though onto a platform.
"What time do we reach Liverpool?"
Swirling 'round Professor Lancaster like water to a drain, the Passengers closed about him chanting "come with us, come with us" before the good Professor and the ten Passengers found themselves aboard the first passenger car.
'Bugsy' ( no last name) and Mr Brewer heard cries for help coming from the second car, barely in the basement through the far wall.
Ever willing to spring into action, Bugsy and Brewer went to effect the rescue of Henry Stanley from the second passenger car while Father Arnold Wu and P.I. Hurtin' attempted to similarly rescue Professor Lancaster from the clutches of the Passengers.
Things did not go as well for the investigators as expected.
Father Wu, endeavoring to blast a big bunch of the passengers from about the good Professsor. Alas, not only did Father Wu miss by a mile, he maasively failed his Luck roll *and* the good Professor botched his Dodge roll. "Luckily" the good Father only fired one barrel instead of two, blasting Professor Lancaster in the face at nearly point-blank range with 12 gauge buckshot.
The intrepid private investigator lept into action, attempting to save the Professor's life with a desperate First Aid check. Royally pooching this check the P.I. instead applied a tourniquet to the Professor's neck, ensuring his death.
Fresh souls in the car with them, the Passengers attempted to grapple Father Wu without success. They were spectacularly successful in grappling and planting a Doom Kiss upon KGM's beloved P.I., slurping his soul out like the beasties in the movie Lifeforce.
Moments later Father Wu somehow managed to shoot himself in the face with the other barrel of Robin Leach's shotgun, blasting brains, bone, dentata and other gore all over the ceiling.
Bugsy and Brewer valiantly attempted to retrieve Henry Stanley from the Doom Train, thwarted in doing so by their own dice.
During the mayhem, KGM's quickly readied replacement investigator - affectionately named "Dumb-ass #3" - came racing down with another spectacular POW 7 & 35 SAN determined to catch *this* train.
Needless to say, the Passengers promptly grappled and planted a Doom Kiss on the brain-damaged investigator, shuffling a 3rd soul of to fuel the engine.
Five deaths along left Bugsy and Brewer's scrawny butts to ward off the Passengers a wee bit later while the two insane passengers rolled a human heart along an improvised track that the investigators so helpfully corrected by providing the elevations necessary. The track of course was made from human viscera, offal and bones. The nutcases rolled the "engine" about the track while the two surviving investigators thwarted the Passengers - having polished off the remains of Professor Lancaster and Father Wu - from stopping the second ritual's heart-engine from completing its last few laps.
Bugsy kicked and stomped mightily, sending 3 Passengers sailing off into extradimensional oblivion before a failed Dodge allowed an 01%-rolled Doom Kiss to slurp his soul off into the engine's hellish boiler.
Desperate, the antiquities dealer grabbed the fire axe off of the wall, used it to barricade the door behind him and fought off aq rather scrawny Passneger attempting to come in through the compartment's window. Brewer managed to dislodge the Passenger from the window as big, burly STR 16 Passenger #10 smashed through the door and took the fire axe.
The 44th and final lap of the gruesome "train circuit" completed, the Doom Train lurched onto steel rail and wood track for the first time since its mysterious disappearance in 1897.
The Passengers, the six remaining ones, sighed as they went upon their long-delayed voyage to meet their Maker.
Henry Stanley and a now-much-older-but-still-spry Randolph Alexis (who had eaten his own adult son when junior 'found' his old man some 20 years later) jumped from the Doom Train, making good on their escape.
Brewer fortunately succeded on his Listen check: the Doom Train was in a head-on collision with an oncoming coal car! Brewer did not make a graceful exit from the train, breaking a leg in the process.
Sadly, the honest antiquities dealer saw fit to answer all questions from the police, and not long after the local psychiatrist, calling for a Luck roll.
Poor Mr. Brewer threw a 98% with a Luck of 50: he has been committed to an asylum, pending recoery from his injuries and asessment as to his mental state.
A CoC TPK: 6 actual deaths, 1 involuntary committal to a nuthouse.
They've not even gotten to Calais yet! ^__^
Fortuitously, investigators are aggressive in their correspondances. The next quintet of investigators picks up with the next session in August in Calais, France. Hopefully they learn a few useful languages ...
As an aside, the Passengers aboard the Doom Train are not statistically as nasty as the dice played out today.
They have a 30% grapple, only a 20% for the Doom Kiss. Factoring in that nearly all of the investigators (except Professor Lancaster) had a 75% Dodge translates into a paltry 2% chance of a Passenger actually glomping onto and Soul-slurping an investigator.
By the numbers, not one investigator should have died. However, the dice as always told a different story ... one fraught with shotgun blasts to two faces, three investigators sent forthwith to meet their Maker and the poor, lone survivor getting carted off to the loony bin for a protracted stay.
Brother Faust the Elder wrote: "Things did not go as well for the investigators as expected."
Gee, do you think?!##$%!
I doubt I can convey in words how ridiculous, and at times pathetically hillarious it was yesterday in the Call of Cthulu game. Turin's dice were on fire and there was no stopping him. This alone however wouldn't have necessarily doomed the group, but our own dice absolutely turning on us was unprecedented.
I have no idea why Haru (Professor Lancaster) started the train in the fist place; nor why, after it was apparent that he was in serious trouble, I was dumb enough to try to save his sorry behind. I suppose it was because Haru (the player) had a good character, and I wanted to help him. So much for good intentions.
I tried to stop the Residet Artist ("Father Wu") from shooting the zombies with a shotgun. The dude only had a 30% chance of success. I had a 75% chance, and was soon to act. The Resident Artist knew that he wouldn't do any damage to a zombie with his weapon in hand, so he tried his luck with the shotgun. It was absolutely stunning when he blew Haru away. And I damn finished poor Haru off with my blown First Aid check. It didn't become absurdly funny though until I bought the farm immediately thereafter when some zombie grabbed a hold of my sorry ass and gave me a Dementor's Kiss!@#$%&. Then it went from funny to hysterical when Residemt Artist fumbled his next shot and blew his own head off. Un-frickin'-believable. We failed every significant dice roll, and Turin succeeded on every significant dice roll... And I'm telling you, my first (deceased) character's shotgun must have been cursed. The two final shots fired by it resulted in the demise of my two fellow characters...
At this point, you had three dead characters and only two remaining players on the train. I am not familiar with the Cthulu rules, but it was apparent to me that Zombies were not the usual complete pushovers that you would find in a d&d game, so I concluded that my two remaining comrades were in mortal peril. I then resolved to use a new character and immediately enter the fray to help the two remaining player characters, and Turin allowed me to do so. Problem being, my new characters' ability scores blew cheese, making me ill equipped for the task of helping my friends. And when I got inside the train, before I even got to fire a shot, my dice whored me, and some dumb ass zombie 86'd my sorry tail for my trouble. This debacle continued the hillarity of the afternoon.
At this point, I said the hell with it. I then began actively attempting to encourage Turin to grease the last two player characters, and score a TPK. I laughed hysterically when Beavis ("Bugsy") bought the farm after valiantly trying to deal with the zombies. Butthead ("Brewer") was smart and lucky enough to actually live to round 6 and make it off the train. Though the player is just "Role-playing" heavy enough to feel that he needed to tell the truth to the arriving police, and ended up in the loony bin for his trouble...
So there you have it. An insane afternoon, very much worth the price of admission. Look forward to getting shelacked again next month for your reading pleasure. Cheers.
The Passengers (zombies) aboard the Doom Train are the nastiest corporeal undead I've seen in *any* game. You can't kill them - not really - and you're done for if they latch onto you with the Lifeforce Liplock (Doom Kiss). By comparison, the bullet-resistant zombies from the first session are push-overs.
Haru (Professor Lancaster) did what investigators are supposed to do: investigate. In this case, by turning on the model train that eventually called the Doom Train into this world for a brief time. Had even the one investigator not gotten his sorry ass institutionalized, the group would have had access to a GTFO "ticket" that could have come in handy later in the campaign.
Let's hope the next batch of investigators don't tangle with anything worse... oh, who are we kidding. Of COURSE there's worse ahead!
You guys might catch a break though ... maybe. <evil grin>
IA!! IA!!! SOULS FOR THE SOUL ENGINE!
Oh I like those guys. Are they one of your glorious homebrews or is this something out of the books? If the former would you care to post them later (or PM them to me)? If the latter, where can I find them? I have an excellent desire to use them in my current 3.5/Pathfinder hybrid PbP as they'll be... thematically appropriate at a certain point down the line, they'll just need some conversion.
Keep up the madness >=D
The Passengers are straight out of the adventure. ^__^*
"Since the Passengers are already dead, damaging one in excess of [its] hit points has no effect, unless the stated intent of the investigator is to dismember. Judged partly by the means used, each dismemberment might require a Sanity roll for the successful attacker."
Damage Bonus +1d4
All of the Passengers have DEX 9, POW 1. STR varies from 11 to 16 - most are 12-15. CON ranges from 12-18 - most are 14-16. SIZ varies from 9-14, most are 11 or 12. HP varies from 11 to 15, most are 12-13. These are CoC stats.
Be sure to let us know what the PF conversion is. Stat blocks can always be ... tweaked. ^__^
Brother Faust the Elder wrote:
Of course there's worse ahead. No need to butter it up.
And I'm all for investigating, but Haru has a penchant for not bothering to discuss his grand plans for investigating with the rest of us, before he heads off and quickly (and frequently) finds himself in over his head and needing help...
The only butter on anything is on the fan belt the group has been chewing on. ^__^
The word is that my PbP went on a temporary hold due to one of the players hitting a severe speedbump with the dreaded IRL monster (CR40 with a whackton of stupid abilities and immunities), and the remaining four of us decided to start up two other games in the meanwhile and I've been making characters for those rather than monster-izing. Not to fear (or perhaps more to fear! muhuhuhuahahah) though, here is the Alpha Test version of the Passengers, slated for CR 12-ish. (The other two entities mentioned are the intended "epic" encounters for this section of my plot, the CR-15-or-so Conductor and CR-17/18 "Boss" Soul Engine of the train itself. The Passengers are intended to be a harassment - a dangerous one, that is, but not the primary threat.)
CE Medium Undead
Bound All Passengers are tied to the existence of the Red Lightning. Passengers cannot disembark from the train, though they can exit the cars and climb out onto the riggings between or atop cars; a Passenger forcefully removed from the train (such as by bull rushing them off the top of a car) evaporates into a misty cloud of white smoke and red sparks, then resumes corporeal form one round later at the spot it last made contact with the train. When the train is destroyed (either by the destruction of the Soul Engine or by setting The Conductor to rest) all Passengers cease to exist as the Red Lightning fades into a mist of statically-charged clouds spitting red sparks, then evaporates.
Doom Kiss A Passenger that succeeds at establishing a grapple against a living opponent with a soul can attempt a Doom Kiss as a full-round action, planting its mouth on that of its captive and sucking out its soul. A Kissed character must succeed at a DC 21 Fortitude save or be instantly slain, and its soul consumed by the Passenger, sending it to the Soul Engine to be transformed into another Passenger or granting it a Rejuvenation bonus (see below). A character slain in this manner cannot be revived except by true resurrection, miracle, or wish so long as the Red Lightning exists, or nothing short of divine action after it has been destroyed; a successful resurrection destroys the Passenger it became or removes its bonus from the Soul Engine. A Passenger created from a Doom Kiss retains only vague, twisted memories of its prior life and does not recognize former allies or friends; a revived Passenger retains no memories of its time as a Passenger but may be haunted by strange nightmares for years to come.
Hivemind All Passengers are tied to the existence of the Red Lightning, and the Soul Engine controls their remnants. Passengers are Mindless, behaving on command from the train or The Conductor (and obeying the train if the two are in conflict), but are granted feats and skills through the Hivemind as if their intelligence was 10. They are immune to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms).
Soulscent Passengers can smell the presence of living beings. They have the Scent ability within 60 feet, but it only detects the presence of living creatures with souls. This is considered the same as the normal Scent ability, allowing the Passengers to qualify for their Scent of Fear feat.
Spectral Ward A shimmering crimson glow, like a corona of red electricity, shrouds each Passenger in a vague haze, making them more difficult to strike. Passengers add their CHA bonus to their AC as a deflection bonus.
Rejuvenation Slain Passengers discorporate and return to the Soul Engine. For each Passenger destroyed and collected, it grants the Soul Engine a +1 Profane bonus to Damage OR a +1/2 Passengers slain Profane bonus to DC with all attacks, supernatural abilities, and spell-like abilities (Engine's choice); multiple such bonuses stack. The Soul Engine can voluntarily lose this bonus to rejuvenate a Passenger (or multiple such bonuses to rejuvenate multiple) as a standard action (regardless of amount), causing it to appear at full hit points anywhere in or on the train. Once the Passenger has been rejuvenated, the Soul Engine cannot recall it to regain its bonus until it is destroyed again.
Up for critique/suggestions/tweaks, of course.
What effect type(s) did you append to the Doom Kiss? Those accursed death ward spells need to know!
The bonuses on slam and grab seem pretty low for a CR 12. Granted, it's perfectly in keeping witth the original Passengers that their bonuses are "meh". The bane of the Passengers of course will be freedom of movement - unless either The Conductor or the Engine can do something about it. ^__^
The Hivemind will make for quite a few rude surprises, the best one of which will be "aid another". Is there a Teamwork feat or two that would work in their favor for soul slurpage?
If you're feeling merciful for some unfathomable reason, you could rule that the Doom Kiss works as a supernatural version of one of the spectacularly nasty high-level [death] spells. "How's your hit points looking after taking 120 pints of death damage?" <evilgrin> "what's that? You made the save? OK, you still take 60 points as your life force is being sucked out of you. And you're still grappled. And there's 9 more of them very close by..."
I hadn't thought of any tags to put on the Doom Kiss (except (Su), which all their abilities should have, save possibly Hivemind as an (Ex) ability, and even that's questionable). I don't see it as a death effect so much as a remove-your-soul effect, and the "oh yeah you die" being just a side effect of your fleshbag not having a soul in it.
Coordinated Maneuvers and Coordinated Defense stand out pretty strongly as feats that could be stuck on them to make them all the nastier. And it would be perfectly reasonable to grant them as Bonus Feats as part of the Hivemind ability, since they already have all the feats their HD would grant.
Will do gentlemen, once - and IF - they get that far. Due to various IRL discombobulations, they've yet to leave the trade city where the PbP began; as soon as one player gets things straightened out and can post regularly, another has issues. (One is finishing up her degree, one is in the military and being shipped to Germany, one is getting ready to start the school year as a substitute teacher, and one keeps getting sent on business trips by his company. So there's legitimate interference.)
Heck, they might not survive the first dungeon. They're a level-3 party (Bladebound Magus, Lore Oracle, Archivist Bard, and Musket Master Gunslinger) and that first dungeon happens to be home to Zhangzhao ("Longclaw", Male Ti-Khana Deinonychus Wilder 1 [CR 5, a legitimate if difficult encounter]) who I expect will deliver some delicious slice-and-dice to the party once they find his tunnels, reminiscent of everyone's favorite Savage Tide critterbeastie Ripclaw (whom three of my four players have had to contend with before!). That is, if he doesn't kill them first by following them around in Tiny Viper form and using his hand of the mage and/or crystal shard to trigger traps on them.
But I've sidetracked your thread long enough gentlemen... let's get back to Turin's murderizing, shall we? >=)
In 2 days' time (more or less) the doughty band of grizzled Great War veterans will pick up the pieces with the incoherent rambling journal of the lone surviving involuntary asylum inmate from the Doom Train.
I wonder if any of the 'tardlets will have picked up enough fluency in assorted southern and eastern European languages to be anything other than bumbling gun-toting sociopaths?
An uneventful investigational session today. The investigators followed the clues to the asylum thence to the creepy rose garden, wherein they retrieved the left arm of the Sedefkar Simulacrum. Dream Laussane and its demented Prince very nearly claimed the Scroll that they so desperately need to further their agenda.
The main highlight was that they took the better part of five weeks in Paris and the National Library.
The session ended on the morning of 11th February 1923.
September's session will see if the intrepid band of shotgun-toting investigators are going to be able to keep their promise of shooting the Prince or not... among other horrors.
Today’s game was the 3rd session thus far, and the first session that I didn’t have one or more PC demises. The character I used today had some horrible ability scores (like a 7 or 8 Strength, Dex and Con), but I have a 16 or 17 Power, 80 Sanity Points (eventually 82) and I think 90 Education or something, so I did really well against the Sanity checks today.
It's time to wake the Old Ones
What a fantastic thread to return to the messageboards with. My wife was looking at me oddly as I was reading the post of the "results" of the first session, I couldn't stop laughing. Consider me back and along for the ride!
Allen, your post was the perfect balance to Turin's gleeful slaughter. Sometimes the dice just want you dead...what else can you do but enjoy it! And hope everyone else eats it too.
Here is my ticket....
I present my ticket, rather slimy with mucus, to the dear old friend, Brother Faust.
My apologies for the lack of proper posting.
Our inept investigators went "Pulpthulhu" this past session, mowing down hapless cultists as well as the lawful authority in Milan, Italy (in the person of a local Fascist Militia boss with his six goons) in cold blood by way of double-barreled shotguns and a Chicago Typewriter after minor protestations as regards stolen property and the insignificant mutilation (and restoration of same) of the 1922-1923 opera equivalent of Britney Spears.
Taking the "Pulpthulhu" approach will shorten the campaign, making it much more action hero[ than the norm. Less SAN loss, more bodies, and lots of flying lead.
Stay tuned for the AAR in the aftermath when our idiotic investigators get themselves mowed down in a fusilade of firepower.
I leave it to the gem-toothed skull to relay the players' perspective of events.
In a week the new and improved Black Shirt Mafia makes its debut!
This is a wonderful poem *sniffs*
Brother Yasha, you hopefully caught wind of a certain recent Kickstarter referenced by MissingNo above on 16 August that featured non-slimy tickets I hope. Messr Jacobs certainly did, as did yours truly. August 2013 (or very early September) will be a version of Christmas in July...
Enthralled that you have returned to enjoy the monthly carnage-fest about to unfold. And the investigators thought the second session was a slaughterhouse ...
FOOTOTE: CoC doesn't hand out hit point restoration at what most would consider to be anything resmbling a PC-friendly rate. 1d3 hit points/ week, 2d3 with professional medical care, is refreshingly nasty.
Two of the investigators are running (gimping?) about mid-February-ish 1923 Milan, Italy with all of 3 hit points when the carnage begins in earnest. Too bad, so sad.
P.S.: the lone investigator to buy the farm was a selfless sacrifice on the part of a character with a pathetic POW of 5. When the magic used to restore Britney to her former voice and appearance was revealed to require 63 magic points, the 5 MP, 5 Pow And whatever scraggly hit point and CON the investigator had were consumed to power his share of the cost. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" describes the gruesome demise sufficiently.
Much to my surprise
The hornet's nest they did kick
A few days hence
Will old bells toll
I didn't post in September after the September 22 game, as I was waiting for Turin to post first. The Sept. 22 game ended up going a strange direction. It ended up with two of the three gun-bunny characters (Haru & the Resident Artist) shooting up a group of Italian fascists and their boss, (who I gathered had some role to play in the CoC campaign, but we never found out what, because my two fellow players decided to have their characters waste the boss intead of talk to him first). I took no role in the event, and sought to get away from the scene. It shouldn't have taken a rocket scientist to figure out that my two fellow players had stirred up hornet's nest, and would face retaliation. And as fate would have it, it was the other three players and their characters who took no role in the depravity instead who got their asses handed to them on yesterday's October 13 game.
Yesterday's game was entertaining and memorable. We certainly did get our tails kicked. I have no complaints about the nature of my butt kicking, save that my character dodged several bullets and got behind a Six Inch thick concrete wall, and before I got to act again, the same two NPC's that tried to shoot me a moment before, then killed my character outright (at full HP no less) while I was behind the six-inch thick concrete wall... Apparently in Call of Cthulu, if you roll an '01', that trumps any and all other details. And so as a result of Turin's '01', I was blown to smitherines by some moderately capable NPC with a wicked looking large machine gun. Two of my comrades also bought the farm when Turin blew them to bits as well. The two dumb asses (PC's) who attacked the Italians during the September game did not die. One player was not in attendance, and the other had the one surviving character on the afternoon. So much for pascifism.
Honestly, IF I were the GM, I'd have done exactly the same thing as Turin did. Haru and the Resident artist "called down the thunder" when
Turin exemplified the "Referee GM vs. Guide GM" distinction that I am a strong proponent of. Monte Cook wrote about "GM'ing styles" in an issue of Dungeon Magazine a few years ago, and Cook said all GM's ultimately fall into one of two types. The Guide GM is a GM who conveniently and consistently bends rules for and against the player characters, in order to forward plot/story line, achieve a cinematic effect, achieve a climactic finale, etc. A Referee GM selects encounters, allows the dice to roll as they roll, and then applies the results. With the "Referee GM" style, characters die more frequently, but you leave with a genuine feeling of legitimate success if you survive. that's what Turin does, and I am absolutely for it. Guide GM's give you a phony 'walk-though' experience where player risks ultimately always pay off, and foolish mistakes are minimized by a Guide GM, hoping to make the players happy with the end result.
@ Turin, it is interesting, for all intensive purposes, that the main encounter yesterday was probably "unwinnable." But that's Okay. After two players have their characters mow down a group of fascists and their boss, we probably deserved an "unwinnable" encounter in response. It is interesting that yesterday's group, and other players we've rolled with in years previously, would probably take a neutral approach to yesterday's encounter in the aftermath, given that you were the GM. If I had run this encounter, I'd have had a mutiny with the players, given my reputation as a "Killer GM," (especially if I had some of your Sunday crew playing that I used to GM). The encounter made sense, and was appropriate during the game in question. The fact that it may not have been 'winnable', in my opinion doesn't really matter. We were outnumbered 3 to 1, and severely outgunned. Sometimes, you have to run away to live another day.
Fellow readers, I like the fact that Turin laid the encounter down as he did, and didn't appologize for it. A GM shouldn't have to appologize for giving a hard encounter from time to time, where characters buy the farm. If it happens every week, then I could understand a negative player reaction, but that's not a problem. Funny how your good GM'ing (Turin) is heralded, and I'm the villain GM of the player's horror stories, even though the end results of many of our respective difficult encounters are largely the SAME:)
Order of messy deaths:
1.) Leftenant J, - 01% attack roll with a 20-round burst from a model 1918 Beretta submachinegun, Dodge roll sufficient (with the benefit of cover) to dodge 4 bullets so long as not more than 5 bullets hit (the 01% roll means that an 01% Dodge roll is required to duck the impaling bullet), sadly the Elder Sign (nat 20) on the burst die came up, resulting in Leftenant J performing the 'Mauser Mambo' at the receiving end of 17d10 damage. Mathematically-averaged damage was 93 points -16 points from his armor yielded 77 damage.
2.) "Lord Flaunteroy" (KGM's investigator) narrowly averted death by Lewis guns with successful Dodging behind 9 armor stone walls. The subsequent round of Lewis gunner fire saw the aforementioned wall stiched by both Lewis gunners, attempting to perforate the wall and what they believed to be 3 armed and dangerous mass murderers at the same time. Sadly for the delusional Munchausen kid, the second 01% roll of mine for the session impaled the scrod with a bullet to the face (16 damage, 5 more than he could take). Brains scattered across the floor - and indeed, the lad's blue eyes were confirmed as one went left, the other went right.
3.) Leftenant S's "importer" (smuggler) almost cleared a short jump from the quay into a gondola that Haru's "artifact recovery specialist" (with only 3 remaining hit points to his name). Close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades, however. A 5-round burst from a Beretta m1918 SMG put the man beyond easy hope. The 4 Besozzi grenades tossed in afterwards ensured no intact remains.
september's session involved:
In this case by way of his Shrivelling spell that directly reduced "Lord Flaunteroy" to 0 hit points on the floor of the salon car. Le Artiste blasted the poo bastard in the face with his double-barreled sawed-off shotgun, discovering the reason for the Jigsaw Prince's moniker: he had enchanted and grafted choice bits of lfesh from numerous victims upon himself in such a fashion as to greatly mitigate minor things such as firearms. Excpeting his pretty face. The Jigsaw Prince promptly Shrivelled Le Artiste to 0 hit points, too late realizing the true danger in the person of Haru's "artifact recovery specialist". More importantly, the contents of his insturment case:a Chicago Typewriter, aka a .45 ACP Thompson submachinegun, primed and loaded with a 50-round drum.
Whilst the other investigators were either twitching mounds of dessicated flesh or diving behind furniture to take cover, Haru's investigator emptied that 50-round drum into the Jigsaw Prince. Minimum damage per bullet doesn't mean beans when you are doing the ,45 Flaminco to the beat of ~40 bullets. Needless to say, some impressive die rolls flew and the investigators were able to BS there way to Milan after coughing up the restoration costs for the salon car.
After. Securing lodging and seeing the wounded patched up sufficiently to function, the investigation continued in Milan. They managed to track down the torso of the Sedefkar Simulacrum, rescue the previously mentioned Britney - and "persuaded" the foul sorcerer to restore her vocal cords and gorgeous looks.
However, doing so requires vast amounts of personal energy. Leftenaant S's POW 5 investigator, eager to scrore some of that, totally committed himself body and soul to ensuring that the series of rituals would work. And work they did! At the cost of both his sould and his body as he was utterly consumed to provide most of the 63 MP (magic points) required to perform the vocal cord transplant spell.
As they made ready to continue on the Simplon Orient Express to Venice, they secured Britney upon a Paris-bound Orient Express, Haru's firm love interest. IF Haru's investigator somehow survives long enough to collect such a rich reward.
Fixing the numerous typos in the above post, the tale is now told in full...
Fascist Follies, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Automatic Weapons
The September session begain with our ever enterprising investigators being confronted by the Jigsaw Prince on the Orient Express leaving Lausanne en route to Milan. The Jigsaw Prince, under the guise of a busboy, took advantage of the investigators' being well into their cups, exhaausted from the events in Dream Lausanne and full of chow. They had no real chance to pick up on the Prince's disguised presence until he struck.
In this case by way of his version of the Shrivelling spell that directly reduced "Lord Flaunteroy" to 0 hit points on the floor of the salon car. Le Artiste blasted the poor bastard in the face with his double-barreled sawed-off shotgun. In the process of doing so they discovered the reason for the Jigsaw Prince's moniker: the sicko had enchanted and grafted choice bits of lfesh from numerous victims upon himself in such a fashion as to greatly mitigate minor things such as firearms, explosives and most nonmagical damage. Excepting his pretty face. The Jigsaw Prince promptly Shrivelled Le Artiste to 0 hit points, too late realizing the true danger in the person of Haru's "artifact recovery specialist". More importantly, the contents of Haru's instrument case: a Chicago Typewriter, aka a .45 ACP Thompson submachinegun, primed and loaded with a 50-round drum.
Whilst the other investigators were either twitching mounds of dessicated flesh or diving behind furniture to take cover, Haru's investigator emptied his Typewriter's 50-round drum into the Jigsaw Prince. Minimum damage per bullet doesn't mean beans when you are doing the .45 Flaminco to the beat of ~40 bullets. Needless to say, some impressive die rolls flew and the investigators were able to BS there way to Milan after coughing up the dough to pay for the restoration costs of that salon car.
After securing lodging and seeing that their wounded are patched up sufficiently to function, the investigation continued in Milan. They managed to track down the torso of the Sedefkar Simulacrum, rescue the previously mentioned Britney - and "persuaded" the foul sorcerer to restore her vocal cords and gorgeous looks. (He had transferred her vocal cords to himself, then mangled her flesh so as to be nearly unrecognizeable.)
However, doing the organ transferral requires vast amounts of personal energy (magic points). Leftenant S's POW 5 investigator, eager to scrore some of that, totally committed himself body and soul to ensuring that the series of rituals would work. And work they did! At the cost of both his sould and his body as he was utterly consumed to provide most of the 63 MP (magic points) required to perform the vocal cord transplant spell. The sorry bugger died hideously, screaming, then gurgling as his flesh melted from his bones before the foul ritual consumed his essence.
As the investigators made ready to continue on the Simplon Orient Express to Venice, they secured Britney upon a Paris-bound Orient Express, now Haru's firm love interest. IF Haru's investigator somehow survives long enough to collect such a rich reward.
Once the Paris-bound train cleared the station the sorceror was taken into a damp, dark alley nearby and summarily administered a .45 Migraine, turning his head into a canoe. They looted the steaming corpse, boarded the Venice-bound train and the campaign continued.
While in transit to Venice Le Artiste and Flaunteroy benefited from the extremely confortable and restful accomodations and service to be had aboard the Orient Express. Everyone regained 1 SAN point and the wounded recovered to a grand total of 3 hit points by the time they arrived in Venice.
In transit Le Artiste took a strong liking to a certain Miss Stagliani, bereaving the unexpected death of a male relative to unpleasant circumstances. They hit it off swimmingly. The est of the group arranged for updating telegrams to be sent to their chums and friends abroad in England and the States before departing Milan. Excepting "Lord Flaunteroy", who seems to be determined to hold onto the delusion that he is 14, not 24. Well educated, but sadly rather flawed in the brain. The other investigators made the acquaintance of an "importation specialist" associate of Leftenant S by the name of Harley Davidson replacment investigator for the POW 5 chucklehead that died so nobly.
Disembarking in Venice at dusk, the investigators had requisitioned their "luggage" when they espied Miss Stagliani being 'encouraged' to come with a greasy, pudgy fellow wearing a badly tailored suit in his rather nice auto by his six large-muscled goons.
Le Artiste told Haru (and the rest of the group) to back his play. Unsure of exactly what was to unfold, Haru undid the latches of his 'instrument case' ... just in case.
Le Artiste, all 3 hit points of him, strode casually up behind pudgyman and his coiterie of goons and let them have it with an "impale" (critical hit) blast from one of the two barrels of his scattergun. The pudgyman died, as did one of his goons, from the several dozen buckshot pellets that ripped through them both.
One goon promptly shat his trousers, the second dove around to the front of the car to crank the engine whilst the remaining trio dove into the car to get some cover and retrieve their sidearms.
Le Artiste blew away the crankshaft operator with his second barrel of buckshot, thoroughly impressing Miss Stagliani with his manliness and general all-around studly McMuffinpants stature.
Haru demonstrated to the remaining goons in the car what it means to do the .45 Flaminco by riddling the three of them and the car with an entire 50-round drum from his Thompson.
Poos-His-Pants bolted, packled in the shoulder and finished by a frontal lobotomy delivered by way of a high-velocity lead slug through the back of the head courtesy of Le Artiste.
Miss Stagliani took the merry band of murderous meatheads to her place in a more central part of Venice to recuperate further and continue their investigations. Hopefully they would be able to wrap up their efforts before the heat got too hot for them.
Naturally, our intrepid investigators - sans Le Artiste - continued their efforts the following day, attempting to track down what will turn out to be the Left Leg of the Sedefkar Simulacrum. Flaunteroy elected to hire what turns out to be one of the best doctors in all of Venice to attend him at the Stagliani 'estate'.
In the meanwhile Le Artiste was vigorously getting his ashes hauled on a regular basis by Miss Stagliani. This is to explain what his investigator was doing while the player was absent if you, dear reader, haven't caught on. ;-)
Haru, Harley D and Leftenant J proceeded to tracking down the leads and clues over the next several days' time, eventually having to tie up and stuff a palace custodian in a broom closet after 'borrowing' his torch (flashlight) to safely navigate the dangerously shallow and steep up five stories into the guts of the clock tower wherein the Leg they need resides.
After some poking around they locate the Leg attached to one of the eight clockwork automatons that do their march and chime the times of day on their eternal march. Sadly, removing the Leg sets Bad Things into motion, creating all kinds of very loud commotions, springs and automaton parts flying all about - and the automatons themselves seemingly coming to life in order to murder the investigators for their temerity.
Alas, while Leftenant J was nearly slain by disembowelment, Haru and Harley D escaped with severe wounds - although not too sever, since they were able to fireman's carry Leftenant J down the stairs with the Left Leg in tow. They scattered from the palace ahead of the police (and militia), making a beeline to the nearest hospital.
Apparently, the only competent physician on duty attended to shoving Leftenant J's innards back into his thorasic cavity and sewing up his stomach. The interns "attended" to Harley D and Haru, making an already bad situation worse. Disgusted at the horrible medical care, they split with Leftenant J back to the Stagliani residence to secure services from Flaunteroy's personal (temporary) physician.
The next morning, 21st February 1923, saw the first week of Flaunteroy's dedicated doctoring attention come to its conclusion, putting him in the best physical condition of the four investigators. Unfortunately for them, the chuckleheads elected to remain in Venice for another week's time under the good doctor's expert medical care.
The Fascist Militia had acquired enough descriptions - and checked the border crossing information with the passenger manifest of the particular train from the always efficient staff of the Orient Express - to fairly quickly narrow down the investigators' whereabouts. In this case, holed up in with the Staglianis.
The head fascist investigator, not being a moron nor desiring to simply get blown away by shotgun or Thompson, began making arrangements the day of the train station massacre. As the days wore on and a series of bizzare, violent murders - the corpses invariably drained of blood - he stepped up the presence of "militia strength". The King Emmanuelle was telegraphed orders to make haste to Vienna with its supporting fleet. More importantly, and more immediately, a regiment of Italian Army mountain troops is called into Venice to maintain order. Of course there is the added benefit of the Fascist-affiliated army unit being tapped in order to assist the investigations being conducted into the train station massacre and the bizarre serial killings.
Over the last day and a half of their extended recuperation the investigators noted that a few thousand troops had marched into Venice from the nearby Alps. On the morning of the week after their harrowing encounter in the clock tower, Haru barely noticed the clop clopclop clop of a four-horse team drawing something wheeled into the market square just outside of the Stagliani's building.
The rear of the Stagliani building - built from stone in the 14th century - backs directly onto one of Venice's canals. From left to right was Miss Stagliani's chambers; the main parlor / living area with a single door onto the square and two windows; the kitchen/dining area with one window and one door looking onto the market square with a single door directly opening onto the quay behind the house with its gondola; and the storage area/guest quarters with a door onto the market square and a double door opening onto the canal side.
Out in the rapidly-emptying-of-non-Fascists market square Haru saw the horse team pulling its load: a 65mm mountain gun with its five man crew and four protective gun shields secured to its side, a half-dozen shells is all that seemed to have been brought with the gun this day. The gun crew sported knives and Royal Navy-issued "broomhandle" Mausers. The eight Fascist "troopers" carried their own Mauser sidearms, a Beretta m1918 SMG with bayonet - a nasty spring-release affair that can be deployed and used while still being able to fire - as well as a Besozzi grenade and sparking ring to ignite the grenade's fuse with.
They chatted with the "boss" of the Fascists for a few moments while another 8 trenchcoat-clad Fascists took up covering positions facing the Stagliani house. The "boss" faded from sight while the mountain gun team moved to deploy the gun in a position a modest distance behind the other Fascists. Once the horse team was unhitched from the gun, all Hell broke loose.
Haru emptied the 50-round drum of his Thompson in an attempt to mow down the entire gun crew. Sadly, he succeeded in only picking off two of the five men before the climb took his remaining rounds too high. Haru had positioned himself in the west (left) window of the parlor part of the house.
Leftenant J had taken up position at the east parlor window with slugs loaded into his pump-action not-sawed-off-shotgun. He promptly blew away a third member of the gun crew.
Harley Davidson had taken a look through the dining area window only to bugger away from the window when the Tommy Gun started chattering. Flaunteroy fetched his physician to the central rear door.
"Surprise round" over, Harley D proceeded to do ... something forgettable. Haru hurried away from the window he had just fired from, grabbing the three 30-round stick magazines as he withdrew.
Leftenant J's misfortune was in electing to dice off to determine who went first: himself, or the Fascists. He lost the die roll, to much amusement immediately afterwards.
Four of the eight men out front used their sparking rings to ignite their Besozzi grenades - these men were positioned closer to the house. The other four, in pairs, poured 20 rounds each from their m1918 Beretta submachineguns into the two windows where enemy fire had originated from. The window Haru had fired from of course no longer had an investigator there with which to riddle bullets. Leftenant J, however, had not yet been able to effect a withdrawal before the Fascist troops reacted.
And react they did - the first gunman missed, peppering his window and the half-foot-thick stone walls 9 armor in CoC terms with rounds that failed to penetrate. The second gunman, however, had his number VERY dialed in as my first 01% roll of the session popped up.
Despite dodging four rounds, Leftenant J was in trouble. The m1918 Beretta fires 20-round bursts. This means that a d20 is to be rolled to determined how many rounds would strike the Leftenant. I decided to double the number of rounds he would dodge due to having cover - his Dodge was sufficient to avoid a total of 4 of the rounds. Due to the 01% roll on my end and his Dodge not being an 01% on its own, if no other rounds strike, that one round did - and garners an 'impale' (critical hit) in the process. So I had but to throw a 5 or less and he (might) survive the one magic bullet.
My trusty Cthulhu dice didn't fail me however. The die clattered into the dice tray - as always, rolling in front of everyone excepting rare special circumstances - and a 20 reared its Elder Sign. Sixteen (16) bullets turned Leftenant J into a mangled pile of hamburger helper, to the tune of 17d10 damage (80 points more or less after deducting the armor - he had not more than 12 hit points at full health, and most certainly wasn't quite to full hit points just yet). Even wearing the 1-armor trenchcoats that the investigators have quickly learned to favor, there was no way to survive learning the "Mauser Mambo". Leftenant J was the first investigator to die.
KGM's Flaunteroy flung open the rear door, sending his hired doctor out in front to cut the rope securing the gondola to the quay and proceeded to botch his Spot Hidden check. The doctor botched his. And of course Harley D likewise botched his check upon stepping foot out that back door.
What, you may ask, did our intrepid investigators fail to see? The two Fascists across the canal behind the house with their Lewis guns - each having been so generously provided with 4 spare 47-round drums of ammunition, a Navy Issue "broomhandle" Mauser, a Besozzi grenade (with sparking ring) and a trenchcoat of their own to better deal with the cold.
Haru made his way along the back wall and over the chunky salsa that was Leftenant J to fairly close to the dining/cooking area of the Stagliani house, swapping out his spent drum for a 30-round magazine.
Harley D is first in the initiative order, so his failed attempts to discern what awaited them across the canal spelled a certain kind of doom for them.
Besozzi grenades crumped against the front of the house - one detonated where Haru had been firing from moments before, shrapnel and broken glass flying everywhere, before the Lewis guns opened up in an attempt to mow down that convenient "target rich environment" at the back of the house. The poor doctor did his own rendition of the "Mauser Macarena" whilst Flaunteroy and Harley D dove back into the house and (mostly) behind the stone walls as part of their Dodging bunches of bullets. These Lewis guns were chambered to use 7.64mm x55mm Mauser rounds.
Flaunteroy elected to pew pew at one of the Lewis gunners, succeeding only in rolling miserably, hitting air or perhaps an urban chicken. Haru raced across the kitchen/dining area towards the storage/guest quarters area of the house after Harley D picked himself up and did the same thing, both men crossing behind the stretch of stone wall between the small door letting out onto the quay just in front of the gondola and the double doors at the far eastern end of the house.
Sadly for Flaunteroy, his brave attempts to packle one of the Lewis gunners spelled his doom as both of the Lewis guns swung from west to east, stitching the stone walls with machine gun fire. My last 01% roll of the session occurred here - with the attendant not-an-01% Dodge roll on Flaunteroy's part to avoid lots of damage. The continuing fire that mowed down the doctor swung across the open door frame and into the several yards' length of stone wall leading from the kitchen into the guest quarters/storage area of the house. Sadly for Flaunteroy, this meant that the first four rounds striking his length of the wall chewed a 'perfect hole' through which an unhindered impaling bullet slapped into his forehead, blowing all of his brains and most of his hair all over the kitchen (16 hit points, putting him to -5 or -6 hit points).
Now desperate, Harley D delayed until after Haru, who shouldered open one of the rear-facing double doors and hosed down one of the Lewis gunners with a burst of .45 ACP. Harley D raced around the near corner desperate to both get away from the Fascists storming the hole-riddled front of the house without taking a dive into the rank, nasty, canal. Poor Harley was lugging the trunk of Simulacrum parts.
Fascists are not as stupid, especially 1923 Black Shirts, as some think them to be. However, one botching his Spot Hidden and the second of a buddy team rounding the corner eager to blow away the asshats inside that house resulted in 14 rounds punching holes in one Fascist while Harley D barely Dodged the one bullet that would have otherwise hit him.
Flaunteroy's corpse continued drumming its heels on the stone floor in the kitchen.
Harley D immediately spun around, got around the corner and put a lucky bullet into one of the Lewis gunners - the one that hadn't cottened to where the investigators had emerged from. Haru and Harley D dodged or manfully took grazing wounds from the last 7 rounds from that Lewis gun, mostly due to the gunner's bad aim (getting shot tends to do that I hear). Both men wounded, they groaned as one of the Fascists booted open the door from the market square into the guest quarters before stepping aside to let his buddy in. Said buddy, after seeing Haru and Harley stepping around the door to the corner, lit up that corner of the room, several bullets actually punching through the 500 year old stone only to bounce off of their heavy winter trenchcoats with what little energy remained in them. Somewhere in all of this mess Harley D put a second, fatal bullet into Lewis gunner #2. Haru, if memory serves, smoked Lewis gunner #1.
The gondola, drifting with the slow current past where they stood now, first saw Haru jump into the gondola, followed by the trunk. Harley D botched his attempt to clear the quay onto the gondola and splooshed into the drink, bobbing back to the surface.
Just in time for one Fascist to shoot him with the last five rounds from his Beretta's current stick before another four Besozzi grenades flew into the drink near his body. The explosions roiled the water and mangled his corpse into freshwater chum, pushing Haru in his gondola further along the canal and towards presumed safety.
So we wrapped up with a badly wounded Haru, trunk in tow and only 3 current hit points, desperately needing to escape both Venice and Italy. The fate of Le Artiste has yet to be determined of course, although by the time this all went down Le Artiste and Miss Stagliani will have just finished their latest round of ash-hauling that was interrupted by the raucous sounds of automatic weapons fire, grenade detonations and a very angry surviving gun crew that has JUST finished loading the 65mm mountain gun...
Picture linkages of the Fascist's hardware, as best I could find in preparation for this past October session:
Fascinating stuff. The discipline in the Royal Italian armed forces of World War 1 was apparently brutal by even the standards of both the Allies and the Entente. Hardcore ...