Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tanganika Terror

Despite my original plan to take the summer off I started up Savage Saturday again last weekend... I’m running a different campaign for a slightly different (and slightly smaller) group. This week featured a few of the past regulars kicking off a Realms of Cthulhu campaign.

November 1915, East Africa


Dr. Emma Wraight had been working in the field at the north end of Lake Tanganika since before the war started. As the end of 1915 was drawing to a close and the war around her started heating up her employers in England demanded she return at once and sent a Belgian ship to pick her up and bring her back to civilization.

As the boat was crossing lake Tanganika sunk by a German gunboat. Dr. Wraight was the only survivor. She washed up on the eastern shore of the lake. Using her profound knowledge of the land and the people made her way through hostile territory towards the north end of the lake.

Somewhere near the The Ruanda-Urundi border she ran into a force of British King’s African Rifles that had been operating with the Belgians in the Congo and were in hot pursuit of a force of German Shutztrupe Feldkompanie that had been raiding across the border. The Feldkompanie’s raid had gone badly and a platoon-sized force disappeared into the Nyungwe Forest.

The British pursued the Germans for a number of days. Their quarries tracks became erratic and they wondered if the Germans were hopelessly lost. After another day or two the British began to wonder if they themselves were also lost. it was shortly after that that askaris started going missing. Some would simply quietly disappear never to be seen again. Others could be heard shrieking wildly off in the jungle. Some found were found horribly mutilated. Many thought it was the work of the Shutztrupe, who had turned into the hunter….

After a few more days of floundering in the jungle, and more and more of their number disappearing, their pursuit had become a route. They were wildly trying to find a way out of the jungle, on the move night and day with only a few fitful hours of rest here and there, when they finally stumbled onto the German Shutztrupe….


Lt. Freiherr Jöchim Von-und-zu Höllertal-Fürchtberg – German Army Officer - (Christian)
Ag d10, Sm d6, Sp d8, St d6, Vg d6,
Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 5, Sanity 6, Corruption 0
Skills: Fighting d6, Shooting d10, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Intimidate d6, Persuade d6, Drivingd4, Streetwise, d6, Survival d4, Stealth d4
Edges: Well Adjusted, Rich, Trademark Weapon (Luger)
Hindrances: Vow (major), Quirk (?), Vengeful
Gear: Uniform, Rations, Luger (Range: 12/24/48, ROF 1, Damage: 2d6, AP: 1), Knife (Str+d4), compass, maps, Sword (Str+d8), whistle, canteen, matches, backpack, blanket, candle

Feldwebel Shultz
Ag d8, Sm d6, Sp d8, St d8, Vg d8,
Pace 6, Parry 6 (7), Toughness 6, Sanity 6, Corruption 0
Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d8, Notice d8, Stealth d6, Intimidate d8, Throwing d6
Edges: Command
Hindrances: Mean
Gear: Uniform, Webbing, Backpack, Blanket, Rations, Rifle (Range: 24/48/96, ROF1, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2), Bayonet (Str+d6, Parry +1, Reach 1)

Shutztrupe Askaris (12)
Ag d6, Sm d6, Sp d6, St d8, Vg d8,
Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 6, Sanity 5, Corruption 0
Skills: Fighting d6, Shooting d6, Notice dX, Stealth d6,
Gear: Uniform, Webbing, Backpack, Blanket, Rations, Rifle (Range: 24/48/96, ROF1, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2), Bayonet (Str+d6, Parry +1, Reach 1)

Dr. Emma Wraight – Cultural Anthropologist and Archaeologist (Amanda)
Ag d6, Sm d10, Sp d8, St d6, Vg d8,
Pace 6, Parry 4, Toughness 5, Sanity 6, Corruption 0
Skills: Fighting d4, Shooting d4, Notice d10, Stealth d4, Knowledge: Anthropology d8, Knowledge; Archaeology d8, Investigation d4, Survival 4d, Tracking d4, Swimming d4, healing d4
Edges: Scholar, Linguist, Alertness
Hindrances: Curious, Phobia (Major – Snakes)
Gear: Clothes, Anti-Snake Boots (Armour +2), Webley (Range: 12/24/48, ROF 1, Damage: 2d6, AP: 1), Knife (Str+d4),

Sgt. Shivanshu Malaker – Gurkha (Darrin)
Ag d6, Sm d6, Sp d6, St d6, Vg d10,
Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 8, Sanity 5, Corruption 0
Skills: Fighting d6, Shooting d6, Notice dX, Stealth dX, Intimidate dX, Throwing dX
Edges: Brawny, Woodsman, Alertness
Hindrances: Heroic, Code of Honour
Gear: Uniform, Webbing, Backpack, Blanket, Rations, Rifle (Range: 24/48/96, ROF1, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2), Kukri (Str+d6)

Lt. Andrew MacNeill – British Officer - NPC
Ag d8, Sm d8, Sp d8, St d8, Vg d8,
Pace 6, Parry 6, Toughness 6, Sanity 6, Corruption 0
Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d8, Notice d6, Persuasion d8,
Edges: Command, Level-headed
Gear: Uniform, Webbing, Webley (Range: 12/24/48, ROF 1, Damage: 2d6, AP: 1)

Kings African Rifles Askaris (10)
Ag d6, Sm d6, Sp d8, St d8, Vg d8,
Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 6, Sanity 6, Corruption 0
Skills: Fighting d6, Shooting d6, Notice dX, Stealth d6,
Gear: Uniform, Webbing, Backpack, Blanket, Rations, Rifle (Range: 24/48/96, ROF1, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2), Bayonet (Str+d6, Parry +1, Reach 1)


Scene One

The action started when the madly fleeing British stumbled into a clearing to find the remains of the German Shutztrupe Feldkompanie.

Lt. McNeill shouted, “There they are lads – GET ‘EM!”

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

The askaris of the King’s African Rifles charged. Both sides reduced to only a dozen men fought wildly.

Dr. Wraight dove for cover and drew the Webley she Lt. McNeill had given her after recovering it from one of his fellow officers who had fallen victim to the unseen enemy. One of the K.A.R. ASkaris slumped to the ground in front of the German Shutztrupe that had bayoneted him. Emma aimed her pistol and shot the German Askari dead.

Then in the middle of the battle a great bat-winged demonic creature swooped out of the sky and snatched a K.A.R. corporal and carried him off. All that noticed were momentarily horrified but carried on fighting for their lives…

Moments later another swooped out of the sky and grabbed Lt. McNeill!

At that point Dr. Wraight jumped out of here hiding spot and pleaded for everyone to stop fighting as there was clearly a greater danger befalling them all! They stopped for a moment and watch and listened…

Two more swooped out of the air The askaris all shot and winged one who flew off, the other grabbed another Askari. They all huddled together looking to the treetops. No more came. They discovered that the Shutztrupe had been having a similarly bad time of things – troops disappearing without a trace or turning up horrifically dismembered.

They waited there for a while unable to decide what to do.

After a time Dr. Wraight hear a noise. It was like a far off drumming. They thought perhaps there might be a village nearby and tried to make for it.

On the way the giant bat-winged daemons carried off a couple more askaris…

Scene Two

When the remains of the two forces made it to the source of the drumming noise they found themselves not in a village but in a bizarre ancient ruined temple – unlike anything Dr Wraight had seen or even heard of in Africa. Within seemed to be a group that was involved in some sort of astonishing ritual.

There was a group of robed figures clearly not native to Africa and a number of locals – though again Dr. Wraith, who was thoroughly familiar with most native peoples of central Africa, could not recognize from what tribe or peoples they came.

There was a strange statue at the altar behind the leader of the ceremony to which were chained a number of their askaris that had recently been carried off !

The new arrivals were noticed immediately, and those attending the ceremony that were not robed, turned and charged.

The robed figures continued to chant – their chanting grew steadily in volume tempo as the swirling glowing mist became brighter and more frenetic in swirling.

In the ensuing melee Lt. Höllertal-Fürchtber was severly wounded and would have certainly dies if it hadn’t been for the quick action of Dr. Wraight who staunched the gushing wound in his leg as he lay helpless on the jungle floor slowly fading into unconciousness.

The natives were overcome but not in time… just as the last one was dispatched the chanting reached it’s climax and there appeared in the pulsing mist above the statue what could only be described by the witnesses as a tear in the fabric of reality – from this tear poured a mass of slimy slithering tentacles that coiled around the hapless victims chained to the statue and dragged them out of time and space into the shapeless void from which they had appeared.

At this point Feldwebel Shultz completely lost his mind and the most of the remaining askaris fled in terror.

The Aftermath

No one knows what became of the Askaris that fled. Dr. Wraight, Sgt. Shivanshu Malaker, and a pair of German Shutztruppen finally made it out of the Jungle carrying Lt. Höllenstadt-Fürchtberg and leading the mentally damaged Feldwebel Shultz. They eventually found their way to a Belgian post and were all marcheded back to Uganda and eventually entrained to Mombassa.

Lt. Höllertal-Fürchtber and Feldwebel Shultz spent the rest of the war in a British P.O.W. camp in Kenya.

Sgt. Shivanshu Malaker returned to his Gurkha Rifle Regiment, from which he had been seconded, and ended up fighting in Palestine against the Turks.

Dr. Wraight returned to England and pursued a more Academic career for the remainder of the war. She remained in contact with Sgt. Malaker.

After the war Dr. Wraight was contacted by Lt. Höllenstadt-Fürchtberg, who seemed to share a strange burning curiosity about the bizarre temple and ritual they had witnessed in Africa:

From the desk of Freiherr Jöchim Von-und-zu Höllertal-Fürchtberg
23 Erich Zahn Straße, Berlin.

17 Oct 1919

To Dr and Prof Emma Wraight, Cambridge Dept of Anthropology, Cambridge, England

Fraulein Doctor and Professor Wraight, Greetings.

My name is Jöchim von Fürchtberg, and I have cause to remember you quite vividly, and while you may not recall my name, I trust that my connection to you will shortly become apparent, if not necessarily welcome.

I must thank you for saving my life in 1915. Your quick and resourceful actions prevented me from dying in the African Jungle, an action for which my relations are eternally grateful. The war was not kind to my family. Of my father and brothers I am, thanks to you, the only survivor, the rest fallen in service to the Kaiser. This has left me in possession of a sizable fortune, as well as the family estates in Pommern, though my wealth does little to ease the burden of being the only male left of a long and glorious lineage.

My family is of an ancient stock, which from time immemorial has served the Kings of Prussia. Now, with the deposition of the Kaiser and the threat of socialism hanging over my beloved Prussia, many of my peers are going forth to battle the forces of revolution, standing up for the ancient values that have been encapsulated in our German state.

But I shall not be joining them. Instead, I have resolved to seek a different course. I believe there is a far greater issue, a calling higher even than defeating Bolshevism. I have sold many of my estates, and am preparing to once more venture forth into the world.

This is not easy to write, Doctor Wraight. You are one of only two other persons that know of what I speak that I know for a fact are alive today. The other is my companion of the war, Otto Schulz. He is not well. Only my constant care and intervention kept him alive in the prison camp to which the British shipped us. Even now, under the care of the best alienists and psychologists Germany can provide, his state is weak. He hides his anguish under a mask of manic energy, but I know that he is ready to crack at any time, for it is he who throughout our ordeal had the greatest exposures to the horrors that we faced in that cursed jungle.

Of myself, my memories are crystal clear, from the moment that the first of the bat-creatures attacked, to the final moments when my faithful Askari carried me semi-conscious from the ruins, and when the Thing came through the gate that the sorcerer had opened. I wish I could forget, but I cannot.

But I shall not let my iron discipline waver. The hateful sorcerer that we saw was a European, and I cannot believe that he is alone. This means that there must be more terrible sects throughout the world, and I have sworn a most holy vow before God and my ancestors to seek out and destroy those who would worship such as the monster that, thankfully, I only glimpsed through my haze of pain. Even so, the memory of what came through that hole in space keeps me up at night.

I would desire to meet and renew our once brief acquaintance, for I have a proposal that I believe you will find interesting. Please write back and let me know of a time and place where we may meet.

Yours in hope and resolution,

Jöchim von Fürchtberg


Chris said...

A great report -- I really love the letter at the end! It's the kind of detail that brings the whole thing to life (and inspires blog-readers!).

tim said...

The letter was actually written by Christian, the fellow playing Lt. Freiherr Jöchim Von-und-zu Höllertal-Fürchtberg. He emailed it to me the day after the adventure under the subject heading "I'm having WAY too much fun with this!" I think it was pretty awesome too - definitely the sort of thing I award bonus bennies for!

Brendan Mayhugh said...

I saw the Realms for Chaos book at Gencon last year and stupidly didn't buy it. The game looked like a lot of fun. By the way, how do you make your ruin buildings?


tim said...

The buildings are generally made out of 1/4" MDF.

The ones that actually show brickwork I covered with carpenters filler (or some such stuff) and etched the brickwork in with whatever sharpish/pointy thing(s) were at hand. I don't do that so much any more. It's too damn much work.

The rubble is just wee pebbles glued to whatever I used to make the form of the pile (usually scrap bits of wood) painted dark grey, highlighted light grey...

Brendan Mayhugh said...

Awesome! Thanks for the tip For some reason, I was way over thinking them.