Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cthulhu Weimar: Doll House

last time

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.

3rd May 1921, Tuesday

The white room turns out to have no doors. At all. And nothing in it except for a big grandfather clock. Schwarz stops the clock and it strikes painfully loud. When they look again, the clock is gone and a doll house has taken its place, an exact replica of the orphanage, right down to two puppets that resemble them, lying on the floor of the room they are in.

A dripping sound makes them turn round and they see a black liquid seeping into the room from the ceiling, gathering into a puddle and stretching tentacles towards them. Gero throws one of the stones with the Elder Sign and the liquid turns to stone. At the same moment, the house starts to shake and something scratches at the walls.

A closer look at the doll house shows dark shadows that prowl outside the white room, trying to get in. Next to the room is a cross between an office and an operation theatre, the most modern Schwarz has ever seen. Gero knock on the wall in the doll house and they hear a knocking on the real wall. He then pick up some books from on of the shelves in the operating theatre and puts them into the model of their room. With a thump, the books appear behind them, in real size.

After some discussion, Gero uses a pen knife to make a door into the wall and puts some of the bookshelves in the way of the shadows. Everything happens in the real house as well. Schwarz uses the new hole in the wall to go into the operating theatre and it works just fine. Gero places the doll house inside the doll house in the operating theatre and it appears there. Since he also sees a miniature tricycle, belonging to the child whom they were warned would betray them, Gero puts the tricycle into a room and a bookshelf in front of the door. He then puts the miniature house into the entrance hall and leaves the white room himself.

Pursued by more of the black liquid, they run to reach the only room they haven't seen on the ground floor and notice that it's much smaller than it should be. The wall on one side sounds hollow, but they have no tools to break it down. So they once more use the doll house and simply break down the wall there. They find another room that contains a big elevator platform and use it.

In the basement, they find a tunnel, well-built and with electric light. They follow it to the cistern they were told to find and there, they see a sort of lectern with a huge book on it and a big well that emits a strange white glow. Both can be reached by following a footbridge across the cistern. The book contains a ritual that gives eternal life and all that is needed for its completion are two living sacrifices. Armin, the dead boy who ran into Schwarz when he tried to escape the orphanage, apears from the well and warns them: Doctor Haensler and the nurses are on their way. They come towards the cistern, the nurses burned and crippled, Haensler with black liquid dripping from his mouth and nose.

Gero attacks Haensler with the mace and misses, but causes a gruesome wound nonetheless. Emilie appears once again and urges Schwarz to complete the ritual, to give the required blood to Haensler. The doctor does as he is told, reading aloud from the book in a language he doesn't speak and yet understands. When he's finished, he cuts his hand on the lectern and splashes Haensler with his blood. Haensler once more is completely alive, while the nurses catch fire and fall into the cistern, where they dissolve.

Schwarz and Gero attack Haensler, who is not only alive but mortal again. Schwarz cuts his throat and Haensler dies. At the same moment, the walls of the well crumble and they find themselves surrounded by the ghosts of the children and Emilie. Schwarz is given the picture that was hung in the entrace wall, but it has changed and now shows happy children in front of a brightly painted, friendly house. As a last favour, Emilie open another tunnel that leads Schwarz and Gero away from the collapsing nursery. They come out into the park surrounding the nursery and see that it is once more the burned ruin it should be.

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what happens next

The doll house was an incredibly powerful object and once we had figured out that we could change the real house with it, things took a turn towards the surreal. We usually don't do much metagaming and really, we didn't do it here either. There was metagaming, but it was all done in character.

The GM admitted that he had painted himself into a corner with that story. He simply couldn't stand to see us mess up and doom the children and would have given an unusual amount of help. But we managed fairly well on our own. In any case, it was a story that got to us all and when we had finished, we took a while to just sit and talk about it. Not that we don't do that anyway, but this time we need it.

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