Sunday, February 20, 2011

Death in the Post

I’ve been a bit remiss in updating this. It’s been busy… Since the new year (when I haven't had to cancel due sickness or other stuff) we’ve been playing an adventure called Death in the Post from Green and Pleasant Land; a Call of Cthulhu source book for Britain in the 1920s and 30s, published by Games Workshop, strangely enough, back in 1987 when they still did stuff for… y’know… other games…

It’s a great sourcebook and a fun adventure. You can read the players entries (scroll down or check archives for Jan/Feb2001) to get a sense of their perspective of what went down.

Unfortunately it ended with Shivansu Malaker being torn asunder in the streets of London by a Hunting Horror – while a Scotland Yard C.I.D. inspector, three heavily armed police constables, a crowd of drunk and/or stoned bright young party-goers, and the rest of the PCs stood and looked on in utter terror!

Shivansu will be missed…

I’m trying to stay on track and continue with the Realms of Cthulhu campaign, with occasional visits back to the East Front … but I’ve been exceedingly tempted by Space 1889: Red Sands… and then Kapitan Mors BRILLIANT post about Lord Chelmsford’s Expedition, a clever blending VSF and Star Trek, over at Tea and Tiffin just about put me over the edge – ready to drop everything and start painting spare ancients with blue skin!

Stay on target… STAY ON TARGET!!!

From the Journal of Fran├žois Serrurier

7th of April 1922 half-past eight P.M.

I am very happy that I ended up with this group of quite varied backgrounds. Even on the days where we seem to accomplish nothing I do something I haven’t done before. The best thing yet was just the other day. Shivanshu and I went into Briggs old house, to wait see if he would return there to make the next papyrus. We went in through the back door and once again I broke my record for an 1879 pin tumbler, this time I got it down to 1 minute and 9 seconds! Anyways once we were in we looked around. The place didn’t look like it had been lived in for a while; there was nothing much in the pantry and there were other similar clues. Then we went upstairs and I took a spot by a window that had a view of anyone coming up to the front door, Shivanshu did the same except he was watching the back. The night was uneventful so I spent my time disassembling and studying locks made by the new Master Lock Company, I didn’t learn much.

In the morning, around ten, someone showed up. I recognized Inspector Carlton and Constable O’Malley, the two officers looking into the murders in and around London. There was a third man which I learned later was the owner and landlord of the estate. I didn’t know this at the time and it isn’t usually a good thing to be found uninvited in a suspected murderers house. So Shivanshu and I left through the back window, sealed with just a simple latch, and then we scarpered.

It seems that we are getting closer and closer to finding Briggs, and I most certainly hope we do. He has already succeeded in killing two of his targets with the papyrus’ and twice as well the papyrus has been passed on to an innocent, who in turn died. It is said that all things come in threes and for the sake of the possible victims I hope that that is just a saying.

Francois Serrurier

From the Journal of Robert Weizz

April 6, 1922, London

I find myself filled with a sense of unspeakable dread, and fear that I have entered into something that I should not have come anywhere near.

Whereas, after my time in the orphanage, I have grown up under the wing of my father Hardeen and my uncle Harry Houdini, I find their teachings of debunking of the supernatural more and more distant. This dream of mine to return to Europe and follow my Hungarian ancestry, while earning a living as a magician, to be turning into something of a nightmare.

My life here in London started well enough. With my father and uncle's letters of introduction, the task of landing my first job at the well know Adelphi Theatre was not difficult. Until now, I have achieved modest success as the introductory magic act for a number of more well known performers. I fear that all that has now changed after falling in with the Baron and Professor Wraight.

Our initial investigations seemed innocent enough - tracking down the source of the recent death of one Professor Masters, obviously by an escaped zoo animal. The descriptions of the "facts" associated with the event were all events easily replicated by techniques taught to me by my father and uncle (or so I thought). But as we progressed further into the investigation, I started to feel more and more uneasy.

After interviews with the suspected next target, Doctor Winterton, the Baron convinced us that keeping the purported victim under bright lights last night would help avert the tragedy expected to unfold. I seized upon this as the perfect opportunity to set us up for the evening on the stage of the Adelphi, where under the bright lights I would have all my props at hand to more easily debunk the supposed upcoming attack. What a fine opportunity to show my father and uncle of what stuff I was made.

This was a mistake. I cannot bring myself to put down to paper all the details. Suffice it to say, last night was filled with horror beyond words. Bright stage lights or no, an immense winged beast terrifying beyond words burst in upon us and proceeded to tear the theatre to pieces - and make mockery of any attempt by us to resist. It made short work of dispatching the unfortunate Doctor Winterton.

And something else happened..... This beast did something to me that has placed me in a different state of mind. Gone are my foolish ideas of debunking. This horror is terrifyingly real - and I fear myself close to losing my mind.

I expect that my (likely former) employer will be ending my brief career at the Adelphi. But this is of minor importance to me now. All that I can think of now is this - How can I rid the world (and my inner mind) of this unspeakable horror????????

Ivan Jozevich Trotsky

Ivan Jozevich Trotsky (Dave)
Ag d6, Sm d8, Sp d10, St d6, Vg d6,
Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 5
Skills: Fighting d6, Shooting d6, Notice d8, Stealth d6, Knowledge (Antiquities) d10, Persuasion d10, Streetwise d8, Driving d6, Boating d6
Edges: Luck, Alertness, hard to Kill, Connections (Russian Mob)
Hindrances: hard of Hearing, Caution, Greedy (Major)
Languages: Russian, Ukrainian, English, Arabic
Gear:Pistol (Range: 6/12/24, ROF1, Damage: 2d6, AP:1), Sawed off Shotgun (Range: 5/10/20, ROF1-2, Damage: 1-3d6, AP: 0)

Ivan was born on August 20, 1890 to Jozef and Paraskevia Trotsky. Third oldest of an eventual brood of six surviving children, Ivan was the first boy-child and became Jozef's pride and joy. After considerable financial struggle, Jozef finally got a good position as a prison guard Odessa prison when Ivan was three. As Ivan grew, Jozef would take him to see the prisoners and to show his son how important a man his father was. Jozef openly enjoyed the power of being a guard, and enjoyed extracting bribes and information from the criminals in his charge. The information proved more valuable than the bribes and he developed extensive connections to the Russian underworld that helped pad the family income. Ivan would sit with his father and hear the secrets the prisoners would whisper in exchange for a little extra food, or a little easier work detail. He would often be enlisted to help turn those secrets into money and food for the family, learning how to work the locals for information, whether through calculated banter or deliberate intimidation. Always armed, and always alert, Ivan thrived in the underworld of crime and political intrigue.

The most notorious prisoner in Odessa over the years was Lev Davidovich Bronstein who was a political prisoner at the jail in 1898. Eight-year-old Ivan loved to hear Bronstein talk; he stirred the spirit of the other men in the prison, at least until he was sentenced to Siberia in 1900. When Bronstein escaped from Siberia in 1902, he evidently took the Trotsky name for his own, becoming Leon Trotsky, a leader of the Russian Revolution and second only to Lenin in the Bolshevik army. Ivan grew up and married Katerina in the spring of 1912, and after many miscarriages, Katerina finally gave birth to a healthy boy, Boris Ivanovich Trotsky on July 15, 1918 during the height of the Russian Civil War.

Complications during childbirth prevented Katerina from having further children, so Boris ended up as Ivan's only child. Though proud of his son, Ivan has had little to do with him, and enjoyed the challenge and intrigue of business much more than family life. Katerina raised Boris on her own. Ivan leveraged his father's connections to develop a most-satisfactory career as an international smuggler/black marketer. He traveled extensively, both overland and by ship from the busy port city of Odessa, and gained a reputation as a man who could get what you needed. Ivan dealt with both sides during the Russian Civil War, securing suppliers and even personnel as needed. One unfortunate accident with a shipment of explosives in early 1919 burst his eardrums and permanently damaged his hearing. Travelling extensively, Ivan developed a lucrative knowledge of antiquities. There were always buyers for fantastic artifacts both archaic and arcane and this line of work proved satisfyingly profitable. A singular collection of otherworldly grotesques from the African sub-continent led him to a lasting friendship, both professional and conspiratorial, with the Russian Occultist Alexsey Borsokovski. Soon after Alexsey emigrated to England to escape some awkward troubles, Ivan soon followed and from then on he spent most of his time abroad.

Ivan established quarters at the Ormonde House Hotel, in close proximity to the recently completed King George V docks in East London. Ivan corresponded regularly with his wife Katerina and his father Jozef, who both remained actively involved with the business. While Ivan was abroad, Katerina received many visitors, mostly men, some with coloured skin and exotic accents.

Through his regular contact with Alexsey, Ivan became drawn into the activities of an eclectic group of self-proclaimed cultist-hunters. His knowledge of antiquities impressed them, of course, and he was sure to prove himself most effective and useful in their adventures. Though skeptical of the otherworldly stories, caution dictated an assumption of grave danger, even if only half of what they said was true. Though very confident in his discretion and certain that the group had little knowledge of his driving motivations, Ivan's primary interest was to secure obscure and valuable articles for sale to his international clientele.