Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cthulhu Weimar

Time: April 1921
Place: Berlin

Cast of Characters:
Doctor Karl A. Schwarz - physician who works at the Krankenhaus Moabit and who has a surgery on the side in Berlin Wedding (a district known for being a stronghold of the Communist Party and for being populated almost exclusively by working class people)
Gero Thalmann - a student from a middle-class family who plans to become an architect. Meanwhile, he's involved with the Communists and has taken an interest in the pressing social issues of the time. He has been living in Berlin for about a year.

21. April 1921, Thursday

Gero plans to spent his evening at the Wintergarten Theatre where Anita Berber has announced one of her famed performances. It's not something he does usually, but this is just too daring to miss. It's not often you have the chance of seeing a woman dance naked outside the ... more disreputable establishments and it's not like Gero would go there.

He meets Lothar Tuchner, an acquaintance of his, whom he knows as a charismatic and daring leader in the Communist movement. Tuchner successfully recruits students, Gero among them. Tuchner asks Gero if he's willing to risk something for the cause: Max Hoelz has been arrested in Berlin for crimes he supposedly committed during the March Action and Tuchner wants to free him. Gero, with all the enthusiasm and idealism of a twenty-year old student, agrees.

Dr. Schwarz is just about to finish his shift at the hospital when he's more or less shanghaied into accompanying his boss, Dr. Seltmann, to the Wintergarten. His protests that he has nothing to wear are waved aside and he asks his nurse, Ingeborg, to get him a suit. She agrees, but he has to promise her to invite her out to dinner in return.

After they arrive at the Wintergarten, it doesn't take long for Seltmann to pick up two women who are only too happy to enjoy the company of the doctors. Unfortunately, Miss Berber's performance is rudely interrupted by a commotion in the entrance which quickly turns into a full-out panic when shots are fired. The SA has decided to make headlines by storming the event and things get out of hand when they fire into the crowd.

Both Gero and Dr. Schwarz, along with their companions, use the stage entrance to leave the building as quickly as possible, but not before Gero is grazed by a bullet. Schwarz does his best to treat the wound and they walk back to Tuchner's flat while Seltmann accompanies the two women home.

Tuchner tries to draw Schwarz into his plan to free Hoelz as well, but the doctor flat out refuses to participate in this. It's not only illegal, it's also almost certainly bound to fail. When Gero finds out that Tuchner doesn't even know where Hoelz is being held at the moment, he has second thoughts as well and agrees with Schwarz. Risking something is all good and well, but he's not suicidal.

22. April 1921, Friday

Gero goes to see Schwarz at the hospital to get the bandage changed and to have the wound more properly treated. They talk a bit and find that they agree on quite a few things, like the need to do something to help people less lucky than they are. Gero is actually quite impressed by the doctor and leaves thinking about what he can do to help him - during the talk with Tuchner, Schwarz remarked that instead of wasting energy on foolish adventure, he could use help at his surgery where he's not only plagued by lack of time and staff, but also by lack of supplies.

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what happens next

A new Cthulhu round. This time, we decided to set it during the Weimarer Republik, a very unstable and violent time in German history. It was a time of great cultural development (Bauhaus, Dadaism, Jazz - to name just a few random things that bloomed during that time) but it also was a time of great social unrest. Political murders and street fights were pretty much normal, the situation more than skirted civil war. In 1921, things are starting to look up and people are determined to enjoy life again. Inflation is not something people think about, although there are first signs. But for now, it looks like Germany might get on its feet again.

The player of Dr. Schwarz completely refused to swallow the adventure hook. I would have gone along with this, Gero is idealistic enough for that, but Schwarz is older and a lot more experienced, he has learned to reserve his idealism for worthier tasks. And so we ended up with an evening where we only got to know each other. I say only, but that's not really the right word. Gero has a lot of respect for Schwarz now and I think that the characters will develop an interesting relationship - maybe more interesting and expandable than they would have if they went on that mission for Tuchner.

I decided that Gero is Jewish and that he comes from a fairly religious family. At the time, Germany had a huge Jewish community, many of whom saw themselves as Germans first, a view shared by many of their fellow Germans. Antisemitism is on the rise, though. Gero is used to observing the rules of his religion, especially when it comes to festivals, shabbat and kashrut. His family is not orthodox, but would probably call themselves conserative. This will clash with being a character in a Cthulhu adventure sooner or later and I'm not at all sure how Gero will choose.

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