Session 11 | London | The Talented Mr. Shipley

 

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Papillons du mal. Miles Shipley 1923. Oil on canvas.

 

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Absent this session

Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics Specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Link to background stories and portraits


Meeting Yalesha

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | slightly past noon

Late from the drawn out meeting with the head of the Penhew Foundation, Mr. Gavigan, the investigators catch a cab to go to the meeting with Yalesha the belly-dancer. On the way to Limehouse, Carl and Edward pick up Slim Shady and proceed to the pub where they’re supposed to meet Yalesha. Even though the cab driver is most knowledgeable of the London streets, frequent traffic jams make them arrive about 20 minutes late. The pub looks like it has been in the same location for several hundred years, a battered wooden sign reading “The Bouncing Duck” swinging over the entrance in the drizzle. Inside, it’s murky, the colored small pane windows letting almost no light in. There’s no sign of the young woman, only some working class males can be seen sipping lager at the tables. Only after asking, the bartender points out a slim figure in a hat too large, sitting at a corner table in the back of the room. Yalesha, now more properly dressed in a woman’s trench coat, is hard to recognize in the dim light but she waves them over, looking around nervously. She’s a bit suspicious about Carl and Slim, but soon calms down and tells her story.

 

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Off-work Yalesha

 

Her Egyptian boyfriend and husband-to-be, Fahed Al-Harbi has disappeared and she suspects that he has been murdered by evil men. He worked at the club as a bartender and got involved in something and now he has been gone for 6 weeks. The young woman says that maybe once or twice a month, a shabby canvas-topped truck comes to the club somewhere around midnight. Some two dozen of the club patrons then go out and get in the truck and it drives away. Whereto she doesn’t know, but she suspects somewhere out of town. The patrons don’t come back to the club later, what she knows of, but then they close at 1.00 am. Yalesha thinks that this operation is run by a dangerous man called Tewfik Al-Sayed and she has heard the name The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh mentioned in connection to this. She doesn’t think that the owner of the club, Mr. Nawisha, is involved but she is sure that he knows some of what is going on. Yalesha also says that these people have eyes and ears everywhere and that it’s not safe to discuss such matters in the open. The PCs volunteer to get Yalesha somewhere else to live, but she says that she has no one else in this country and that the alternative to dancing for money at the club is doing immoral things instead. Also, her beloved Fahed might return and she must be there to meet him. She asks the PCs to find out what happened to her boyfriend. She also wants revenge on these evil men!

Edward borrows the establishment’s phone and calls Mahoney to see if he has some notes on the young man. Mahoney doesn’t know the name from memory but promises to check his files. Edward then phones Inspector Barrington to ask the same thing. Checking the files of victims, Barrington says that Fahed’s name is not among them, but then again, some victims haven’t been identified yet due to the state of decomposition of the bodies when discovered. He also informs Edward that a man called Tewfik Al-Sayed was implicated in the investigation in relation to the Egyptian killings. Apparently, he’s a spice merchant operating out of the rather poor and immigrant-rich neighborhood of Bethnal Green. Al-Sayed had also been hired as a guide in a Penhew Foundation-funded expedition to Egypt a few years back. The man was investigated and even tailed for a week but nothing incriminating could be found. Al-Sayed also denied that there was a thing such as The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh.

Yalesha looks a bit relieved when she learns this and the PCs promise to look into the thing. Edward hands Yalesha his business card, writing down the name and number of their hotel and asks her to contact them if something new should happen or if she needs assistance. And with that, the young woman walks out into the rain without looking back.

 

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | late afternoon

Bethnal Green, East End

 

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East End street

 

 

 

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Whitechapel locals enjoy jellied eel, East End, the 1920s

 

After meeting Yalesha, the investigators take a cab to Mr. Tewfik’s spice shop in Bethnal Green in East End to follow up on their new lead. As the cab moves north through the busy streets, the poverty and despair get even more evident. The shop fronts and people’s dress switch from mainly English working class to more exotic as the area is populated mainly by immigrants of many different nationalities. On Canrobert Street, a small side street to Bethnal Green Road, they find Tewfik’s Spice Emporium, advertised in both English and Arabic. The PCs stop the cab some 100 yards up the road, then walks back, scanning the busy street for threats. There are lots of shops here at street level, with what seems to be lodgings in the floors above. Carl and Edward stay outside keeping watch on the opposite side of the street, while Slim enters the shop, pretending to be a customer. The shop has racks to the ceiling on all walls and a big counter in the center of the room. Sliding ladders provide access to the higher shelves. Just inside the entrance is a stair up with a “Private” sign and in the back of the shop, there’s a door. Upon entering, Edward is overwhelmed with the scents of spices from all over the world.

 

Tewfik

Mr. Tewfik Al-Sayed

Browsing around, Slim is soon greeted by the shop’s proprietor, Mr. Tewfik as he calls himself, a pleasant and knowledgeable man. Slim acts the customer and manages to find out that Tewfik sells spices, tea, and coffee but not so much more. The man seems beyond reproach. He’s also a good businessman, and after a while, the attorney exits the shop with a big brown paper bag filled with exotic oriental spices. Outside, nothing has happened other than that Carl spotted some middle eastern men looking suspiciously their way and discussing something but then they disappeared in the throng. After a short sidewalk meeting, the PCs decide to follow up on the “mad painter”-lead. They catch a cab and go to their hotel to find out the address of Mr. Shipley.

 

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | early evening

The talented Mr. Shipley

The artist’s residence is in sophistically sordid Chelsea, just south of Hyde Park, a favorite haunt of London’s artist elite. Exiting the cab on a suburban street with little two-story houses and well-tended gardens, Shipley’s house stands in contrast to them. The garden is a tangled mess and the house in need of repairs, paint chipping, and wood rotting. Upon entering the front garden, the PCs notice that the curtains are drawn on all the windows.

“–Seclusive people, those artists, eh?”

No one answers their knocks with the lion knocker but after a long while, shuffling sounds can be heard from within and the door is opened by an old white haired lady, holding a knitting basket with thread and knitting needles. The air inside smells stale and has that scent of old people and slow decay.

 

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Mrs. Shipley

Upon asking for Mr. Shipley, the old lady says that he is indisposed, but after stating that they are there to buy some art as they are American art collectors, the old lady disappears up the stairs of the narrow house and promptly brings down a protesting wreck of a man:

“–No mama, I don’t want to see any nice gentlemen! I’m tired! And where are my French toffees and hot cocoa?”

 

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Miles Shipley, one of his better days

 

Miles is dressed in color-spattered pajama pants and plaid slippers with holes in them. His chest is bare and he has borrowed mama’s morning gown, which he wears open, arms down. The man hasn’t shaved in days and his pallid face and hole-eyed looks suggest that he does not sleep all that well. Or that he is a drug fiend. Or both. However, he lights up when he hears the word “purchase” and immediately shows the investigators up the stair to the garret, which he unlocks using a key that he keeps on a leather thong around his neck. The old lady, who seems to be the one running things around here, follows last.

The garret has sloping walls and is dimly lit by kerosene lamps. Along the walls are stacks of paintings. There’s a shut skylight, painted black, letting very little daylight in. In the back, an old Victorian closet looms, locked with an oversized padlock.

The manic artist invites the PCs to have a peek at the art, even lighting a naked lightbulb hanging from the rafters for better visibility. Mrs. Shipley sits in an old comfy chair towards the door, picking up her knitting project. As Miles starts pacing, chewing his nails, the PCs set to work with one stack of paintings each. Edward’s and Slim’s stacks contain six paintings each, while Carl checks out two stacks with a total of nine paintings.

The motives are all starkly discomforting and on the verge of mind-bending (see List of artworks, Dropbox) but despite the clearly demented content, Slim and Edward manage to shrug off the discomfort. Carl, on the other hand, snaps from delusion and starts slashing a painting depicting a city of dark tower-like buildings, screaming at the top of his lungs. His compatriots manage to calm him and send him downstairs to sit in the lounge and take a time out.

In the garret, Miles is severely upset at the damage done to his painting and demands satisfaction – in cash that is. There’s also especially one painting that’s drawing the PCs attention – one of the paintings that poor Carl reviewed:

“It is night. A vast black mountain rises from a savannah. A great figure rises over the mountain, blotting out the moon. Its head is a massive red tendril. Near a temple-like building, tiny human figures lift their hands imploringly towards the creature; each wears a head-dress of the Bloody Tongue.”

 

After some haggling about the price, the PCs buy the mountain-painting for 160 Pounds plus the damaged one for 90 Pounds. As the economic transaction is settled by Slim, and they get ready to leave, Edward asks to see what’s in the locked cupboard. Miles looks immediately nervous, stating that it’s just some old rubbish and nothing to be seen.

And this is where Edward decides that enough is enough, drawing his .38 revolver, demanding that the artist opens the cupboard. Miles is wringing his hands, looking at Mrs. Shipley for support, gaining nothing but a hard look from the old lady. Slim menacingly put on his knuckle-dusters and takes away the old lady’s knitting basket. As Slim looks over towards Edward and the artist across the room, Mrs. Shipley lunges out, fast as a cobra, trying to bite Slim in the neck! The attorney manages to dodge, aiming a punch at the old lady who dodges with amazing dexterity. This is the second time that Edward has had enough. He picks up an old pink pillow with a floral pattern and fires at the old lady in a cloud of duck feathers, hitting her in the chest – with no effect! Meanwhile, the deranged artist has produced a rusty meat cleaver from somewhere and attacks Edward who turns and fires two shots point blank into the chest of the man, sending him bleeding to the floor. The old lady bites Slim again but with a heroic effort, he manages to shove her off, punching her in the mouth with the knuckle-dusters, sending her dental prostheses flying across the room, before sinking to the floor in a heap, almost passing out from the intense pain where the old lady bit him.

Slim looks up, but where the old lady just stood, there’s now a large serpent-man-thing instead!

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Mrs. Shipley’s real appearance…

Edward fires at the snake-thing through what is left of the pillow, hitting its arm, seemingly to no avail as it tries to pin down Slim. At this time, Carl bursts into the attic, gun in hand drawn by the noise above, just in time to see the snake-thing rush towards the center of the room, making an impossible leap towards the skylight window…

…only to be hit in the chest in mid-jump by two bullets from Edward and his now almost non-existent pillow. The big snake-thing thuds into the roof, missing the skylight and falls to the ground in a bloody mess. [Keeper comment: Edward’s player managed a clean critical hit here, dealing out severe damage in addition to the ordinary hit he also rolled]. As Carl rushes over to tend to Slim’s wounds, Edward puts one bullet each in the heads of the snake-man and the artist – again through the remains pink pillow.

The cordite smelling air is full of blood-smeared duck feathers as Carl tends to Slim’s wounds. It turns out to be two puncture like bites on the attorney’s neck. Carl tries to squeeze out any venom before binding the wounds. Meanwhile, Edward checks the dead for keys to the closet. When he doesn’t find any, he resorts to his trusty crowbar to get the job done. However, it isn’t until Carl gives it a try that the sturdy hinges give up and the closet opens. Inside is an easel, covered with an old bedsheet.

Despite the warnings of Edward and Carl (who are both deliberately looking away), Slim decides to have a peek at the hidden painting. He rips off the cover, revealing a photorealistic painting of an antediluvian jungle swamp. In the center, there’s an island and on the island, there’s a great stone slab, mystical glyphs along its sides. As Slim studies the painting, the fetid swamp water seems to ripple and move. Slim reaches out a hand to touch the fantastic painting:

“–Hey guys! This is unbelievingly realistic! Look – I can almost……”

Suddenly, all goes silent. Edward and Carl take a quick peak in the direction of the painting. Slim is gone. However, on the very realistic painting, a small figure resembling Slim can be seen, waving for help. No sound can be heard. Looking away, the two remaining PCs quickly scramble to find the cover and as they cover the weird painting, they see some 30 strangely dressed snake-men emerge from the borders of the painting, long crooked blades in their scaly hands…

In silence and shock, Carl and Edward clean the scene – they shove the corpses of the snake-man and Miles into the painting and wrap the other paintings in canvas from the roll that they saw Miles pack the painting they bought before all went south…

Exhausted, they look at each other – what now…? Three men entered. One went mad, one disappeared due to some foul sorcery and one is still standing…

And here we had to take a break for the evening. Stay tuned for more Call of Cthulhu goodness from the Fistful of d20’s crew!


Link to the ever-growing tributary page to the heroes lost in the struggle against the Mythos


Reminder to Players: Next time SAN checks for (i) seeing Slim disappear into the painting and (ii) for seeing the Snake-thing. Also, Carl went temporarily insane for the first time so he receives 5% to his Cthulhu Mythos.

 

 

 

 

 

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Session 10 | London | London Calling

 

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London – The greatest city in the world!

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Absent this session

Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics Specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Link to background stories and portraits


Making up minds

New York, Thursday, January 22nd, 1925 | about 8.00 p.m

Returning from the Arkham to the laundry hide-out, the PCs confer shortly on the next logical step. Shady wants to go to Boston to seek out John Scott. However, Edward and H.P have already purchased tickets for merry old England. And who can resist 1st Class tickets on the world’s greatest passenger ship, the White Star Lines RMS Majestic?

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The ship leaves for Southampton, England the very next morning, so bags and trunks are hastily packed with the bare necessities for investigator life on the road – including guns, Mythos books. They even bring the heavy stone sphinx carefully packed in a separate crate that’s to be kept in the ship’s hold.

New York, Friday, January 23rd, 1925 | about 9.00 a.m

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Red-lining from New York to Southampton!

The voyage across the Atlantic takes 9 days due to bad weather, but our heroes enjoy their time off – resting, studying Mythos tomes, flirting, romancing, and for some – healing their wounds.

 

Southampton, UK, Sunday, February 1st, 1925 | about 8.00 a.m

Landfall

The Majestic glides towards the Southampton quay. It is cold and foggy, but the investigators feel invigorated by the thought of new vistas. Invigorated by a stout maritime breakfast and strong coffee, they traverse the gangway as kings, while the porters haul their luggage in pursuit, trying to keep up the pace. The first stop is the Customs & Immigration Office located adjacent to the quay.

The customs officer, a portly man in his fifties, checks their papers and passports with an indifferent face. Edward, as a citizen of the Commonwealth, is just waved by, but when the officer sees the gun cases, he insists on seeing the paperwork for the rifles. Being a professional hunter, Edward has a reason for transporting the guns and the PCs are let into the country. On the back of the customs building, there’s a train platform where a train is waiting to take the passengers to Waterloo station in London.

London calling

The train ride to London takes about two hours and is uneventful, but the Americans do get the chance to take in the wet and gray winter of England. About 11.30 a.m, the PCs finally arrive at Waterloo station, wondering where to go next. They decide to start with finding a decent place to live. Edward knows some places as he has been to London on numerous occasions before. It is decided that they will stay at The Cavendish – an upper middle-class hotel situated at No. 81 Jermyn Street in the northern part of St. James’s district (in the City of Westminster). The hotel turns out to be a cozy place, promising “Country solitude in town” and is run by a nice old lady, Mrs. Rosa Lewis.

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Cavendish Hotel

After checking in, the PCs head out for lunch. In the busy streets, they notice a newsboy shouting:

“-Slaughter continues! New Egyptian killing! Read all about it in The Scoop!”  (Clue #27 – see Dropbox)

Edward buys a newspaper. Over a pint of beer, waiting for the food in a pub, the PCs read about the most recent of a series of similar murders that have happened over a period of three years. Apparently, as many as seventeen of the victims have been Egyptians, all killed in similar ways, often found floating in the Thames. The PCs decide to follow up on this and start with one of the London contacts suggested by Jonah Kensington back in New York – Inspector Barrington at Scotland Yard.

Scotland Yard

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Scotland Yard’s headquarters at Victoria Embankment

As soon as the PCs mention Jackson Elias’ name and the Egyptian murders they are told to sit down in a waiting room and soon enough they are shown into the rather cramped office of the veteran police officer. Barrington gives the impression of being a thoroughly professional copper and starts by asking how he can be of assistance. The PCs learn that Jackson Elias contacted him a while back, stating that the Egyptian murders were ritual killings by some occult association calling themselves Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh or some such bollocks. Elias even told him that the Brotherhood was an Egyptian death cult. Even if he thought that Elias was a sensation-seeking journalist, Barrington followed up on this and he even interviewed London’s foremost expert on Egyptology, Mr. Edward Gavigan of the Penhew Foundation on this. Gavigan however, stated that the ancient death cult had no modern-day equivalent and that the current modus operandi did not match the descriptions of the cult of ancient Egypt. Gavigan had also added that, sadly, Mr. Elias was no more than a profit-seeking journalist, out for making a quick quid on the sensational value of such a story. The police-work did after this had also been unable to verify Elias’ claims. The Metropolitan Police had even run a long operation staking out a nightclub run by and mainly catering to Egyptians – The Blue Pyramid Club, as many of the murder victims had been frequent patrons at that establishment. Despite the efforts, nothing new was learned from the effort.

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Inspector James Barrington at Scotland Yard

Barrington also interviews the PCs, trying to ascertain what they know about this ghastly business, but they give him very little information, save that they are here to investigate the circumstances of Jackson Elias’ unfortunate demise and they knew that he had spoken to Elias.

As they leave, Barrington cautions them against doing anything illegal and that the should keep him informed of any progress or clues relating to the Egyptian murders case. The investigators ensure that they will do just that and leave Scotland Yard.

 

The Scoop

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Mickey Mahoney at the Scoop

The second London contact Kensington gave them before leaving was The Scoop editor Mickey Mahoney, making the sordid weekly tabloid the next logical stop. The Scoop specializes in juicy stories about gory murders, sex scandals, and weird occurrences, often penned by Mr. Mahoney himself. Apparently, Elias had met the man several times, when their mutual interest in the occult and weird intersected.

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Busy Fleet Street

The Scoop offices are situated at Fleet Street, not far from Ludgate Circus. When the investigators arrive, Mr. Mahoney greets them with a stinking cigar in his mouth. Apparently, he works the operation by himself. After finding somewhere to sit in the extremely messy office, Mahoney explains that he is extremely saddened by the news of Elias’ demise (which he knows of from the wires) and says that Elias’ friends are his friends. The PCs explain about their investigation into their mutual friend’s murder. The newsman is eager to help and says that Elias met with him recently, promising a juicy story about an evil cult operating in London. Elias also hinted that the cult might be well connected and that it might be connected to the so-called Egyptian killings. Sadly, Mahoney never got the story, and Elias never mentioned any names. Mahoney is still eager to get the story however and offers the investigators up to 15 pounds for the story. Or if they don’t find anything – photos of cute lasses in their knickers will also do…

Mahone also mentions that Elias browsed through The Scoop’s files and that he seemed particularly interested in three stories. After some digging through unsorted heaps of paper, Mahoney gives the PCs a manila folder containing three news clippings (see Clue #25 & 26 in Dropbox). One clipping is about the Egyptian killings, one about some grisly murders in a place called Lesser-Edale, and the last is a semi-famous London artist who produces the most vicious and evil looking paintings.

Mahoney also offers his assistance if they should need a guide or help with their investigations – he’s their man – for a price of course…

 

The Isle of Dogs

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Isle of Dogs map

In the evening, after meeting the cynical, chain-smoking journalist, the investigators decide to take the stroll down to the Isle of Dogs to grab a bite and a bitter, and maybe even check out the Egyptian Club – The Blue Pyramid.

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The Isle of Dogs, 1925 ca

The Isle of Dogs is almost an island in the city, surrounded by the Thames on three sides. The area is rather run down and encircled by docks and quays. It’s not hard to find a rowdy pub. After a few beers to boost the morale, the investigators decide to check out the club.

 

The Blue Pyramid Club

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Entrance to The Blue Pyramid Club

They find the entrance on a dark side street, a long queue outside. After some waiting, a fez-clad man in a huge mustache admits them into the place. Inside, the club is filled with faux-Egyptian paraphernalia – mini sphinxes, Egyptian statues, posters with pyramids, hieroglyphs and so on. It soon also becomes apparent why the place is so popular when the belly-dancers enter the scene…

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The Blue Pyramid bar

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Belly dancers!

As the crowd parties on, and the belly dancer’s dance get more frantic, the investigators spot a group of men sitting in the back of the room, all dressed in dark costumes and wearing red fez hats. One of them definitely looks like the boss. After some discrete questions, they learn that this is Abdul Nawisha, owner of the place. He looks like he means business.

Now the scantily clad belly-dancing ladies have begun to dance around the tables and expect the patrons to tuck money as tips beneath the straps of their costumes. When everyone is mesmerized by the attractive young ladies, Edward decides to have a word with Mr. Nawisha and walks over to the table where the men in fez sit. He hardly manages to mention the words “Egyptian killings” before Nawisha tells his men to “throw out this annoying gentleman”. Four big men grab Edward and soon enough he finds himself on the sidewalk outside the club.

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Yalesha the belly dancer

Standing outside, waiting for Carl, who’s enjoying himself inside with wasting money, Edward decides to scan the place from the outside. There’s a narrow back street beside the club, leading to what seems to be the personnel entrance to the club. A lone woman stands outside in the dark, having a quick cigarette, wrapped in a too large coat over her, well, scanty dance dress. As Edward approaches her, she seems startled and begins to go inside. However, the big game hunter manages to convince her that he means no harm and continues by asking her about the Egyptian killings and the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh. The woman, who introduces herself as Yalesha, says that those kinds of questions are dangerous and that she really must return to the show inside, but looks at Edward with interest and even passes a quick smile before disappearing behind the door.

After some more waiting outside, Carl joins Edward with a dumb smile and as they prepare to leave, there’s a knock on a window – it is Yalesha who’s knocking and is waving to Edward to come closer. She looks around nervously and says that she has information for him and that they should meet tomorrow at The Bouncing Duck in Limehouse at noon. Looking scared, she then runs back into the establishment without looking back.

Happy, and a bit tipsy, our intrepid investigators zig-zag their way back to more fashionable parts of the city without being robbed or worse.

 

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | about 9.00 a.m

The Penhew Foundation

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Breakfast at The Cavendish

Slightly hung over, the PCs eat a sturdy breakfast with lots of coffee and then decide to pay a visit to the Penhew Foundation. As it’s situated in Chelsea near the Natural History Museum, they take a cab. The Penhew Foundation is a High Victorian building, surrounded by a high wrought iron fence and with a doorman just inside the entrance.

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High Victorian style house

Inside, a fancy stair leads to the main floor and a front desk where a very correct British female clerk asks their business. After some waiting over a cup of tea, they are shown to the superbly furnished office of the boss – Edward Gavigan. A man in his fifties, Gavigan is the epitaph of the refined English gentleman, dressed in a Saville Row impeccable pin-striped suit and wearing one of those new wristwatches. The office is luxurious, complete with a huge desk made of exotic wood. In the back of the office, there are built-in cabinets. A modern German safe stands with the door slightly ajar.

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Edward Gavigan, head of Penhew Foundation

After some jolly good pleasantries, he asks how he can be of help. Upon stating their intentions and telling about Jackson Elias’ murder Gavigan seems saddened:

“–Bloody awful business, I must say! Damned fine chap, Elias.”

Gavigan mentions having met with Elias once when Elias wanted to speak with him about Sir Aubrey’s participation in the Carlyle Expedition. He volunteers to try to recapitulate what he told Elias:

Gavigan says that Carlyle obtained information from a mysterious African woman concerning a shadowy time in Egyptian history about which Sir Aubrey had long been interested. In this time a sorcerer was reputed to have ruled the Nile Valley. Alas, Gavigan says with a sad smile, all turned out to be a hoax. In Egypt, the woman disappeared with the expedition’s ready funds, some 3500 British pounds. The money loss was insignificant to Carlyle, but the loss of his lover affected him deeply. Fearing that this loss combined with the intense Egyptian heat would negatively affect her as well as the depressed Carlyle, Miss Hypatia Masters, the expedition’s photographer had suggested that they should spend the summer months in the cool Kenyan uplands. That would also enable her to try her wonderful new camera lenses to photograph the African wildlife. Once in Kenya, the party had entered the dubious territory and met their fates at the hands of local bandits. Gavigan finishes by stating that the majority of the expedition’s records disappeared there as well as Sir Aubrey always kept them with him on expeditions.

Gavigan follows up with saying that despite their grisly end, the expedition managed to find some marvelous finds from other time periods from the test trenches dug at Dhashur. They also found some secondary sites to the west of the Giza pyramids. Most of them are loaned to the British Museum from the Egyptian government, but some are here at the Penhew private collection. With that, he invites the investigators to a tour of the collections. Gavigan shows the PCs endless broken pots, inscribed shards, noseless statues, and bas-reliefs of sleek cats and ladies wearing thin linen. The tour goes on for over an hour without a chance to interrupt, when Edward decides that he really should check out that open safe… With a lame excuse about “nature’s call and all that” Edward leaves the group and heads back to Gavigan’s office, stating to the secretary in the outer office that he has forgotten his gloves. The young secretary is uncertain of what to do but when a loud scream is heard outside, she rushes out, giving Edward the chance to rush into the fancy office and check out the safe. Inside, the only item is a packet (maybe 100) of new 5 pound notes. Edwards leaves the notes and just in time because the secretary arrives after the ruckus in the corridor (which of course was Carl that faked falling and hurting himself).

As the clock is fast nearing noon, the PCs take a hasty goodbye and asks the clerk at the front desk to call for a cab. Edward has a date with the cute belly-dancer after all!

 

Asian Seamen in the port of London, c.1908

Lascars having a break from hard work

 

As they wait for the cab, the investigators note several lascars (East Indian seamen) men working carrying large cases from the Foundation and into a dirty lorry with a canvas top. On the left side of the building, there’s obviously some sort of ware entrance for deliveries.

We leave the investigators in a cab with a very talkative taxi driver, late (it’s about 10 minutes past 12) on their way to Limehouse and the meeting with Yalesha…

 

WFRP One-shot | Night of Blood

 

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Typical town of the Empire

 

PLEASE BE AWARE OF SPOILERS!


Game system: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd ed.

Dramatis personae

Blunda Stargazer | Great Forest wood elf | Thief | Djuro

Trimm Rumpfenschmack | Zhufbar dwarf | Tomb Robber | Djuro

Grim Rumpfenschmack | Zhufbar dwarf | Troll Slayer | Martin

Dail Do Stargazer | Great Forest wood elf | Envoy | Martin

Maguar | Everloud dwarf | Watchman | Mats

Herr Arno Süssel | Human coachman | NPC 


GM notes:

This was the première game of WFRP for our group. One of the players and I did play some WFRP 1e many years ago, but we’re pretty much WFRP n00bs 😉

Of course, the players chose to play dwarves and elves – twin dwarves and twin elves! This was the only choice we used – the rest was all random tables. In the afternoon, the 3rd player joined the game and chose to create another dwarf…

On the road to Delbertz

 

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In the Drakwald Forest

 

We started the game on an early autumn day, with the PCs sitting in a dingy coach on the way to the little Middenland town of Delberz along the River Delb. The elves and the dwarves eyeing each other out and conversing in their respective languages. Blunda and Dail Do Stargazer are twins and are traveling to Delbertz on business, Dail Do being an envoy of an elf merchant house. The two dwarves, also twins, are on their way because they have heard of a possible job opportunity in Delbertz. A great storm has been building up all day, the gray clouds getting denser and darker and in the afternoon, it finally releases its power in full force with strong winds and a torrential downpour. Within half an hour, the forest road is turned into a mud mire and progress is severely halted, the coachman working hard to spur the horses on and to keep the coach on the road. Suddenly, Trimm’s 6th sense starts makes itself known and scanning the forest and listening, everyone hears loud baying sounds in the distance. Knowing that the forest is dangerous, the coach driver tries to increase the speed leading to a very bumpy ride which ends with the right front wheel getting stuck in the mud, cracking and sending the coachman off his seat and into the ground. The stuck coach leans 40 degrees as the PCs exit to help the driver who is found to have broken his arm. The wheel is also busted, but luckily, there’s a spare wheel kept on the coach roof. Standing on the

Standing on the darkening forest road, in the mud and drizzle, it becomes evident that the howling sounds draw closer, accompanied by sounds of snapping twigs. The elves climb onto the roof of the coach, their bows ready, covering both sides of the road. The dwarves work on changing the wheel, instructed by the coachman.

Savage attack in the rain

 

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Beastman attack

 

Suddenly, sounds are heard pretty close on the right side of the coach (where the dwarves are) and they draw their weapons, trying hard to see into the dense forest. As they anticipate an attack from the right, the forest on the left side erupt, two bizarre and tattered figures running onto the road, baying and snorting. One looks like a man but with long canine legs and head and the other has a bull’s head and is covered in thick fur, brandishing a rusty sword. The elves loose their arrows, both striking home as the figures round the wagon to attack the dwarves. At the same time, three mutated men charge from the forest on the other side of the wagon, also attacking the dwarves on the ground. The battle is furious, both sides trading blows and tearing gashing wounds on the enemy. After a few rounds, the bull-man and two of the mutants have fallen, but the remaining dog-man keeps attacking until an arrow send him to the mud. The last mutant tries to make a run for it but is skewered on two arrows and dies, nailed to a tree.

The frantic battle is over withing 40 seconds. Panting and wounded, the PCs make haste with the coach repairs and can finally continue their journey, now scanning the forest closely for more dangers. The downpour hasn’t abated but rather increased, now with the occasional flash and clash of thunder. Rounding a bend, a flash indicates a building just up the road, light in some windows.

Mystery at The Hooded Man Inn

 

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The Hooded Man Inn

 

As the coach draws nearer, they can see that it’s a coaching inn that sits near the edge of a small river that they must traverse. Adjacent to the river they see a small rope ferry and a ferry house. Encircling the inn compound is a 12-foot high wooden fence.

Knocking on the barred gate gives no response. Grim tries to climb over the fence (“I’m very fast on short distances”) but fails to Dail’s merriment. Instead, the elf climbs the fence in the first try and open the gates from inside, letting the coach into the inn courtyard.

Meanwhile, Trimm and Blunda notice that the door to the ferry house is open, swinging and slamming in the fierce wind. Inside, the light is on. Entering the ferry house, they see that it is in disarray, tables, and chairs upturned and a trail of blood (as if someone has been dragged) going towards the door. The rope ferry is moored on the inn side of the river.

While Trimm and Blunda investigate the ferry house, the others check out the courtyard.  The compound consist of three two-story buildings: the main inn, the stables, and a coach house. Loud neighs and slamming sounds can be heard over the bad weather. It’s coming from the stables. Trimm and Dail go to investigate. As Trimm opens the double doors, they are nearly run over by three panic-stricken horses, running into the yard, followed by three more. Inside, all is silent. A lone lit lantern sits on the wall next to some horse reins. All the boxes are empty. Scuttling noises can be heard from above. In the back of one of the boxes, there’s a ladder going up through a hole in the plank ceiling. The dwarf hears something dripping above. Reluctant to stick his bearded head up there, he finds a semi-rotten pumpkin that he sticks on a pole. The pumpkin is then raised through the hole. Nothing happens. Trimm climbs the ladder to find himself on the hayloft. The source of the dripping is evident. Hanging upside down from the rafters is a young man – probably the stable-boy by the looks of his clothes. His head has a large bleeding gash, exposing bone and brains and something has been gnawing on his left arm. Checking closer, the bite marks look very human!

A wet ladder leads up to a roof hatch. It has bloody prints on it. The dwarf shouts down that the elves should run outside, as he thinks that the murderer is on the stables roof. The elves run out, bows ready, but sees nothing. Probably, the murderer has slipped into the woods on the back side of the inn…

While the elves cover the roofs, Trimm then climbs the external staircase of the coach house. The door is unlocked, revealing a simple single room. Typical poor people style and probably the stable boy’s lodgings.

Next, the dwarves examine the coach house doors. They are locked but Trimm manages to pick the lock, revealing a room housing a coach belonging to Cartak Lines of Altdorf. All is in order, both the room and inside the coach.

Cozy night at the Hooded Man Inn

 

Inn Keeper

A normal night at the Inn

 

 

After having investigated the outbuildings, the PCs walks over to the main inn. The door is locked and the windows on the bottom floor are covered by thick curtains. To the instant relief of the dwarves, merriment and loud voices can be heard from inside. That means food and ale are soon forthcoming! Trimm the dwarven thief picks the lock successfully but the door seems to be barred from the inside as well. As the people inside become aware of the sounds at the door, all goes silent, chairs scraping against the floor. After a minute or so, the bolts are withdrawn and the door opens, revealing a bald and most rotund man who introduces himself as Otto the Landlord. He seems most upset and worried that the PCs have managed to enter his barred inn compound. After some initial pleasantries, the soaked adventurers are admitted to the common room of the inn. Sitting by the warm fire, puffing a long clay pipe is a tall, thin man in a Road wardens uniform. Behind the bar, a ball-eyed figure (think Marty Feldman) is mopping the floor, a bucket of water at his side. A scruffy dwarf in watchman’s garb sits at a small table in the corner, eating stew and drinking ale [GM note: This is where Mats’ PC, Maguar, entered the game].

Otto the landlord mutters that the inn is indeed full and tries to send the PCs away, but the Roadwarden comes to their aid, inviting them to sit down – the dwarves at one table and the snob elves at another. The upset landlord wipes his hands on his apron, disappearing into the kitchen to fetch ale. Trimm notices that the Roadwarden is eyeballing them closely and in his most diplomatic dwarven manners he asks:

“-What? What are ye luukin’ at boy?”

Covering any hard feelings, the Roadwarden comes over and introduces himself as Hans Jinkerst and explains that the inn was raided by bandits earlier today and that they snatched away the ferryman. That’s why Otto was so flabbergasted when they arrived and why he, Roadwarden of the Empire, now must ask what the PCs were doing out there in an evening like this? Maybe they are in league with the bandits? After some awkward explaining and recapitulation of the forest attack and how the coach driver was injured, Hans seems satisfied with their story, saying in a thick Middenheim accent:

“-I’m glad that’s settled then. Welcome to rest here in the warmth. I’ll tell Otto to bring some hot stew and cold ale. You must be hungry.”

And he leaves for the kitchen, closing the door behind him.

Meanwhile “Marty” has finished his floor swabbing and returns to the kitchen with the cleaning utensils. On a hunch, Blunda the elf thief quickly moves across the room and puts her pointy ear to the kitchen door. Behind, she hears Hans say to Otto:

“-Don’t worry Otto. They are only lost travelers. Slip some kurts in the stew and then we’ll deal with them later. Tzeentch will be pleased to devour their souls as well.”

Blunda hustles back to the table and tells Dail what she heard. Soon, Otto brings some frothing ale and hot stew along with dark brown rye bread. The dwarves want to dig in, while the elves excuse themselves with being vegetarians. After some debacle including a dropped bowl of stew, the dwarves accusing the elves of thinking that everything is a conspiracy, and Trimm sneaking into the kitchen to steal a ring of prima Würtzelwurst and more bread, Otto declares that the inn is closing and says that he will show them to their lodgings. Upon asking if the inn wasn’t fully occupied Otto says that he has “rearranged” the sleeping arrangements so that a room has been available. He leads them up a rickety and wet staircase. The room is cramped, holds two dingy beds and has no windows. Traces of the former occupants are evident – no one has cleaned the room or bed linen in a very long time. The dwarves take dibs on the beds, leaving the floor and some flea-ridden blankets for the elves and the coachman. The stranger dwarf from below gets the neighboring room. Otto bids them goodnight and closes the door, locking it from the outside! After a few minutes, the coachman snores loudly and Trimm fights to keep awake but vomits violently and collapses on the bed… Maybe someone put something in the stew anyway…?

The mystery thickens

As soon as the portly landlord’s footsteps have disappeared down the stairs, the PCs still awake checks the door. Yep, it’s locked alright. As they debate what to do now, a strange chant emerge. It sounds distant but still close. As the chant increases in volume, a scream of terror can be heard over the drone. The scream stops as abruptly as it emerged.

Grim and the elves start slapping their passed out comrades, managing to get them alert enough to get up. Trimm manages to pick the lock despite having to resort to un-thievly tools. They then proceed to pick the lock on the strange dwarfs door and wake him as well. His name turns out to be Maguar, a watchman from nearby Delbertz, traveling back after a visit to his homeland. In the corridor, the chant is louder and seems to come from downstairs. The PCs sneak down cautiously, listening intently. The common room below is dark and deserted, but the sound is louder. Trimm decides that it might be a good idea to open the door to the courtyard to provide a point of “save ass”. As he lifts the heavy inside door bar, he misjudges the balance and drops the stout plank which crashes into the floor with a loud thud. The coachman slips out to prepare the coach for a hasty retreat…

 

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The Mutant

 

The PCs stand still, weapons drawn, listening for any reaction on the dropped bar. All is silent when there’s a violent crash behind the bar and a mutant with the upper body of a man and the lower body of a spider jumps out of nowhere and starts running on the wall to get behind the PCs. The elves loose their ready bows, Dail hitting the creature clean on the top of the head. The arrow goes clean through the head, coming out through the throat, killing the creature instantly. The mutant’s legs are still twitching as the PCs find the now open hatch behind the bar. There’s a ladder down into darkness so before going down, they light candles and a lantern. The stone cellar is made of stone. Barrels of ale and wall racks with bottles of wine and spirits line the walls. In the center of the room, there’s a faint trace of blood leading to a particularly large flagstone, abruptly stopping at its edge. Closer inspection reveals that there’s no lime mortar around this particular stone. The chant is even louder here, having a faint echo…

The Ritual

The stone is lifted with an iron crowbar, which is easier than the size of the stone suggests. Below, a sickly green light fills what seems to be two hexagonal chambers joined by a short passage. A stone stairwell leads down to the first chamber, where a heap of bloody corpses can be seen on one side and a group of bound people on the other. Just beyond the passage, Otto the landlord, Marty the Swabber, Hans the Roadwarden and a yet unknown man can be seen, standing and chanting before a strange 2-foot high statuette from which the green light seems to emanate. On the floor before them there’s a strange undulating pattern resembling eight arrows, pointing outwards, but it’s very hard to focus as the pattern is changing constantly. The room is filled with a strange hum that makes everyone feel uneasy. The statuette grows and shrinks in a cycling pattern and it seems as if something is trying to claw its way out of an ectoplasmic thin membrane that has formed around the statue. Hans is holding a black tome from which he recites some kind of ritual.

The elves post themselves at the hatch to the chamber as the dwarves charge into the room, axes, and warhammer ready. Two arrows find their targets before the dwarves crash into the group of chanting bastards, cutting and hammering away. The three cultists turn to fight the PCs, while Hans continues the chant. Meanwhile, the clawing has gotten stronger and there’s definitely something trying to get through the strange membrane! The fight is vicious, and as the new cultist turns around, he scares everyone with his bare skull visage.

The cultists fight well but have no chance against the battle-crazy dwarves and the elven archers and soon Otto and the skull-man lies bleeding on the floor, while both Marty and Hans have taken multiple hits and are fighting desperately for their existence. Trimm takes a serious injury to the left arm, forcing him to drop his off-hand axe. In a flash of green light, the membrane ruptures and a 10-foot hideous green entity materializes out of thin air, drooling and whispering in a strangely pleasant voice. Hans looks blissfully at the thing:

“-Master! You have heard your humble servant’s call!”

The thing answers by grabbing Hans’ head in a giant green claw, lifting him into the air and crushing it like a ripe melon…

 

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The green daemon

 

Trimm is frozen in fear at the sight of the creature, losing control of…well, certain bodily functions…but manages to snap out of it when Grim yells “-Retreat!” in his face. Blinda shoots an arrow at the thing, but it just bounces off its thick skin as it’s fighting the screaming cultists.

[GM Note: At this point, the PCs decided that the creature couldn’t be hurt with their mundane weapons and planned to retreat up to the cellar and close the hatch, maybe setting the place on fire]. 

As the dwarves retreat up the stair, Dail shoots an arrow, hitting the thing in the other arm, punching right through in a spray of green ichor! If it bleeds, it can be killed! The dwarves stay at the stair, while the elves concentrate their arrows on the thing. After having slain the last cultists, the creature charges the dwarves with a mighty roar but are hit by a longbow through the mouth, sending it limp to the ground. Before their eyes, the thing turns into a green slimy goo…

The statuette is now a normal statuette made of some green-tinted stone. Before heading up, the PCs take the statuette and the evil tome. They also scoop up some of the green goo in a few flasks and dip their weapons in it. You never know what good it might do, right? Right…?

Heroes

Afterward, sitting in the common room of the inn, sipping hot broth (or in the dwarves’ case, humongous amounts of free ale), it turns out that the bound prisoners are the real innkeeper, his wife, two servants and a coachman. The dead bodies are the other coachman, their three passengers, and the halfling cook. The landlord tells their story: yesterday afternoon, the now dead strangers arrived. Hans, the cunning bastard managed to slip something into the food, drugging them all, only to awake in the strange sub-cellar that they never knew was even there. The dead people were sacrificed during the ritual. The landlord, Herr Karlchen, says that the PCs are always welcome to eat or stay at the inn, as they owe them their lives.

Postscriptum

The next morning, four Roadwardens arrive at the inn. At first, they are very suspicious of the PCs, but after having seen the bodies of the mutants and heard the tale of the landlord, the PCs are acquitted of all suspicion. However, the Roadwardens demand that they travel together to Delberz to settle the matter with the proper authorities.

We leave the characters there, on a misty morning, somewhere in the Drakwald Forest, on the road to Delberz. Safe at last. Or…?

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