Monday, July 18, 2016

Its Hour Come Round at Last 1.6

In medias res

The last game ended with the investigators rushing to Smythe's automobile and speeding across London having discovered a threat to the Prime Minister.

This game began as they appeared a few buildings from the Mermaid Theater on Drury Lane. 

***

Saturday, June 26, 1915 - London, United Kingdom

The rain began to fall heavily across the city of London as Reginald Smythe drove.  Despite his imbibing, they arrived safely, and he parked his car two buildings from the Mermaid Theater.  As the group approached, they observed several police at the front doors to theater.  After several attempts at bluffing plans - I began using small sand counters (one, two, three, five minutes) with the idea that when the sand ran out something was going to happen.  Here, I planned a walking police patrol questioning them if they did not decide in five minutes.  Interestingly enough, it rarely takes that much time.  - they sent Tali down the alley beside the theater to look for a rear entrance.

When he found stairs down to a subfloor door, he returned to collect the rest of the group.  Though the others weren't as good as Tali in sneaking, the dark and the rain masked their movements.  At the basement door, Tali with some difficulty managed to unlock the door.  He barely failed, so I let him succeed with consequence.  The opposition would have an easier time detecting them by the amount he failed the roll.  As quietly as they could, they entered the building.  Upstairs they heard the sound of clapping.

The hallway they entered in the basement held a series of doors and stairs up on either end.  They decided not to investigate the bottom floor, but to go upstairs.  There they saw Prester Tien and two assistants waiting in behind the curtain.  Several other magicians finished packing their equipment and slid to the opposite wing to watch Chung Ling Soo's final performance.  Harris Benjamin recalled the magician's main act was to catch a bullet.

Here the cliffhanger worked against the group.  I feel if they had come off the information they had discovered at the end of the previous session or if they had taken better notes, then they might not have jumped to the conclusion they did.  

For some reason, they decided Prester Tien was going to shoot the Prime Minister, despite the evidence that Chung Ling Soo's people weren't involved and the mural which depicted a strange summoning.

Had my NPCs' Yellow Peril bias influenced them despite evidence that demonstrated otherwise?  I suspect they didn't do enough research, which is what we discussed after.

Doctor McKinley and Smythe confronted Tien about the act and gun.  McKinley failed his social rolls miserably and Smythe's player realized he needed to add the Diplomacy skill.

In the middle of their side talk and confusion, Tien slipped through the curtain and walked onto the stage.

The four investigators, unable to agree among themselves what to do, decided to watch the performance from the wings.  After Prester Tien shot a bullet at Chung Ling Soo, who caught it, the floor of the stage began to splinter and shatter.  They ran away as a tall black crystal broke through.  Standing twelve feet above the floor and jutting down into the basement, the black crystal then shot out filaments into the crowd pinning some of the audience through the skull.

Our brave investigators decided to run, rushing  back downstairs they found two men leaving a room directly under the stage.  Smythe and Tali decided to stop them with fisticuffs, clocking both of them backwards into the room.  Suddenly, another guard stepped into the basement hall and shot Smythe through the shoulder.  The shock sent him unconscious to the floor.

McKinley pulled his Webley and took cover while Benjamin pulled Smythe out of firing sight.  Tali rushed into the room under the stage only to scream as he saw the base of the crystal.  The two men who had been trying to escape were attacked by filaments.  Another man (William Gabriel though he remained unidentified as Harris Benjamin did not see him) stood before the crystal sweating, chanting, and holding a metal rod.

In the hall, McKinley fired and killed their assailant.  He and Benjamin rushed into the room to help Tali.  Realizing the crystal was present, Benjamin - failing his Will save - turned and ran from the theater.  McKinley retreated and, putting some pressure on Smythe's wound, called for Tali to help.

The other man, Gabriel, escaped while the pair was carting Smythe out of the building.  They managed to get Smythe away and find Benjamin.  Holed up in a building a bit away, McKinley stopped Smythe's bleeding, noting the man would need surgery soon.  Benjamin found a telephone and called Smythe's valet to come get them and the car.  (Adding an ally for Smythe.)

Smythe's valet, Nigel, drove them to the Smythe house in Paddington, where they decided to stay.  McKinley removed the bullet from Smythe's shoulder and sent the man to bed.

***

Tuesday, June 29, 1915 - London, United Kingdom

After a few days recovery, the group made their way to the Gasworks for debriefing.  There they were shown to a nicer room.

Captain David Watson informed them that in the aftermath of the attack on the Prime Minister, the black crystal had disappeared.

The Prime Minister was calling it a German attack on his life.

Though they failed to stop the attack, they did learn more about the Silver Spiral and ended their association with the Society of Conjurers - a bit of consolation prize.  The mood was low.

The Consultant had returned from Sussex to answer a few questions about the crystal.  He told them that it was part of an ancient technology that the Lamplighters were aware of whose origins were unknown.  He noted that black were known to be weapons, purple for transportation, green for life, blue for power/energy.  There were other colors.

The group were all sent home with some reading material on what they called the Horrors - odd creatures somehow related to the crystal artifacts.  They received 1 CP in Hidden Lore (Horrors) from this primer.

***

I wasn't the biggest fan of the Cliffhanger.  Since we play biweekly, I think the group needed to much reminding and lost track of what they learned.

This was my second session in a GURPs game where the characters mostly failed at their task.  The previous was at the end of Fragments of the Last War. Both saw the near death of a character as well.  Hopefully, the current group will rise above their disappointment and continue where the last campaign did not.  It's been a different experience to increase difficulty in a game and then let the events go as they may rather than fudge to move the story along.

Parts of this story arc (Hour 4 to 6) were inspired by the Chaosium module The Vanishing Conjurer. I changed a good portion of the story and made the actual villain William Gabriel.  I also played the Yellow Peril as the biases of the NPCs and changed the title Conjurer to the actual stage magician.  Chung Ling Soo.  

The story continues in Its Hour Come Round at Last 1.7.

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