Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cthulhu Gaslight: Breaking and Entering

Dramatis personae:
Daffyd (Dai) Iffans, retired soldier of the British Indian Army (Rifle Brigade), now part-time writer for a Socialist newspaper, with an interest in the East End
Catherine (Cat) Kincaid, journalist and daughter of a well-known scientist

The place: London
The time: April 1890

Cat receives a letter from Edmond Kruger, a good friend who has died surprisingly. In the letter, Edmond tells her and Dai about a temple he has discovered beneath London and asks them to help Rachel, his sister, in further exploring and excavating that temple.
Dai and Cat have met the sister before and neither of them had a great liking for her, but since it was the last wish of their friend, they are willing to meet with her at least. They get a rather frosty reception, but didn't expect anything less. Rachel is willing to accept their help and will provide them with money, but she also asks that they report any developments to an associate of hers, William McKennan - who seems to be something of a thug, but an intelligent one. The worst kind.
If things go as planned, he will go along with Cat and Dai once they have found the temple. Rachel also gives them a second letter her brother wrote which she cannot read since it's written in code. Cat and Dai both have the cypher for the code, but somehow neglect to mention this to Rachel.

click here to read the whole adventure

They translate the letter and find a mention of a safe deposit box at the Bank of England, instructions on how to find the temple, along with a warning to keep an eye on McKennan - not that they would have needed that. The temple is located right under Westminster Abbey, not the best place for an excavation.

Unfortunately, there's no key to the safe deposit box and so they decide to ask Rachel about it...breaking into Westminster Abbey will be enough illegal activity and as Dai puts it: I draw the line at the Bank of England. Rachel is visibly surprised when Dai asks about the key and he realises he should have kept it to himself, at the latest when he hears her order McKennan to go and look for the key.

Dai manages to turn up at Edmond's house before McKennan and is allowed to look for the key by Edmond's housekeeper. There's clearly no love lost between her and McKennan and she even keeps McKennan occupied when he arrives, allowing Dai to pocket the key and leave via the back stairs.

At the bank, they find yet another letter and a pendant showing a pentagram with flames and a single eye, which they have encountered during their last adventure. The letter tells them what they had already suspected: Rachel is not to have access to the temple and she forced Edmond to write the first letter. Edmond also writes that the temple can be used as a portal and is much too dangerous to be left there. He asks them to destroy it, something he had planned to do himself and to which purpose they will find dynamite at his house.

Dai and Cat meet after dark and manage to slip into Westminster Abbey during Evensong. They find a handy corner to hide in, which is made easier by the size of the church that is also not well lit. Dai thinks he heard something and he suspects that they are not alone in waiting for everyone to leave, but he cannot spot anyone. After the church is empty, they wait for about fifteen minutes more, Dai patiently, Cat less so. When nothing has moved by then, they make their way to the altar with as little light and noise as possible and they do find a loose flagstone that reveals an underground passage. The passage seems to be in use and it's actually lit by candles.

Dai still thinks they are being followed and they wait again. Whoever follows them has no choice but to use the entrance through the flagstone as well and it's a good place for an ambush. Which is exactly what this turns into when after ten minutes or so, McKennan climbs down through the opening, armed with a revolver. Dai has no intentions of waiting for him to get into a position where he can use the gun, especially not with Cat as a target and he shoots McKennan, killing him pretty much instantly.

The sight of all that blood sends Cat into a slight shock, but they continue on their way once Dai has picked up McKennan's revolver. They know that Rachel is somewhere up there, she was behind McKennan when he got shot, but they want to reach the temple as soon as possible now. The instructions Edmond left are very clear and it's not hard to find the otherwise well-hidden place where a sort of pit cage descends. At that time, they both have enough of their hearing back to notice footsteps behind them. They don't relish the thought of climbing into the pit cage and leaving the controls for their pursuer to play with, so they once again hide and wait in the dark.

They cannot see who is coming after them and Dai hesitates, he doesn't want to shoot someone who wandered down here by accident (the way is not hard to find since they didn't take the time to hide their tracks). Cat attacks the person, trying to knock the lantern out of her hands, but fails and almost gets shot. That's the cue for Dai to fire and he kills Cat's attacker with a shot to the head. In the light of his own lantern, he finds that it's indeed Rachel, but he doesn't take much time to dwell on that because Cat is lying motionless on the floor. She's fine when he picks her up, just in shock, but it's still a frightening moment.

While Cat takes a moment to get a grip on herself, they both notice that Rachel's blood is turning black and seems to be moving. They have no idea what is happening, but they are not staying to find out and continue down to the temple. It's impressively big, looking almost like a Maya temple, with some details not found in any Meso-American temple, like the big crystals along every flight of stairs.

They are still busy with preparing the dynamite when a huge black amorphous mass oozes into view and makes a straight line for the crystals. A bullet does nothing to stop the monster, but at least it doesn't take an interest in Cat or Dai, who hurry to light the fuses and then try to get away as quickly and as far as possible. They make it to the pit cage and up to the tunnel before the explosion and get out into Westminster Abbey despite the shaking, crumbling ground. Cat loses her composure when a spectre rises out of the tunnel, like a monstrous jellyfish with big yellow eyes, and she runs out into the street. Dai follows her, hoping like hell that they don't run into a Bobby and eventually she calms down. They return to Dai's flat, Cat doesn't want to be alone now and Dai is not up to explaining to her housemaid why he wishes to stay the night.

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To anticipate any questions about the effectiveness of Dai's shots: I rolled an insane amount of damage both times and a critical success when shooting Rachel. Guns are very, very deadly in Cthulhu.
We took a bit more artistic license with the dynamite, at least to my knowledge. It really is fairly easy to handle, but destroying a big building with it would require a lot more planning that we did. Not to mention the effects on Westminster Abbey. But that's a case of not letting facts get in the way of the fun and I'm not complaining. Although it would have been cool to wreck Westminster Abbey.

This adventure brought out the more ruthless side of Dai's character and I'm glad it did. It's something he has never really dared to talk about with anyone, but he does want to. He invited Cat to ask him about his time in India a while ago and we'll get to that conversation the next time we play. The GM is looking forward to leaning back with a drink and just watching the show.

Something that amuses me, although I could have foreseen it: Dai enjoys Cat's company and he likes her adventurous nature, but he's also terrified that something will happen to her. At times, he is tempted to tell her to stay behind, to leave things to him, but he knows fully well that the best reaction he could hope for would be a "don't be ridiculous". This might make for some interesting roleplay later on.

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