Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cthulhu Weimar: Libraries and Theatres

last time

Time: 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

After the warning from the little girl, Schwarz and Gero decide against exploring the office and continue along one of the corridors. They follow the noise of running water to a shower room where every shower and tap is running. Just when they have shut off the water, Gero sees writing appear on the wall: do not move. He warns Schwarz and they both keep still while footsteps can be heard coming closer. A claw-like hand appears through the crack in the door and pulls it shut.

The noise of the footsteps grows quieter in the distance and the men get to meet the one who wrote the warning: a girl named Franziska, quite clearly dead and with long black hair that hides a burned face. She tells them that the hand belongs to one of the nurses, a man called Rudolf.

click to explore the house some more

Gero and Schwarz decide to go upstairs, but find that the stairs are gone. They decide that maybe they have lost their way and return to the lobby, where they see a tricycle driving in circles by itself. Just before they set foot into the lobby, a hand closes around their wrists and they are pulled back by a woman in her thirties. She introduces herself as Emilie and warns them that Lukas, the boy on the tricycle, would betray them to the Doctor. She also tells them to look for the library and says that the children and herself are willing to help them, but they cannot appear for very long and they can only give hints. Then she disappears.

Once again Gero and Schwarz set off into the house. After a short while, they hear the tricycle behind them and flee into the next unlocked room, where they wait with bated breath for Lukas to pass. A movement behind them makes them turn around and they see a child who is struggling to get out from under the covers, but to no avail. He is pulled into the bed and both bed and child dissolve into a black mass. Franziska has appeared again and explains that the boy was suffocated by Doctor Haensler and has been repeating his death in that manner ever since. She also tells them that the library can be reached through the office and that she will distract Doctor Haensler for them.

In the library, they find a great many books on the occult. The Encyclopedia of the Occult lies open on a lectern, but they cannot read English. Schwarz leafs through An Encyclopedia of Demons and finds a description of some ancient weapon, a mace, that is supposed to destroy ghosts and strange symbols that protect against them. He doesn't believe a word of what he is reading.
Gero on the other hand find a book written by a rabbi, The Lithic Light, where a ritual to acquire eternal life is described. Water is an essential part of the ritual, as is essence of life, the younger the victim the better. Gero takes notes and he begins to understand what has happened here.

The room turns cold and once again, they see letters form themselves on the wall: find us, quick!. In the next moment, the Encyclopedia of the Occult starts turning it pages by itself and falls open at the drawing of a man with a burned face. Gero and Schwarz run when the drawing starts to rise out of the book. They hide again in one of the rooms and hear footsteps, followed by the screams of a girl. Schwarz almost runs out of the room to help her, but Gero grabs and holds him back.

Emilie appears and sends them to the theatre, further down the hall. The room, unlike the rest of the house, is dark and Gero uses a torch light to better find their way. The stage is hidden by a curtain and another door leads towards what is probably the prop room. Gero hears sounds from the stage, like someone is dragging their feet, and keeps Schwarz from opening the curtain. But he isn't quick enough to do it quietly and they hear footsteps coming towards them.

Luckily, the door to the prop room isn't locked and they hide there, slamming the door shut just in time to keep whatever is following them outside. Whatever it is, it hammers against the door and Schwarz does his best to keep it shut. Blood starts to run from under the door.

Gero takes a closer look at a big chest and once again uses his lockpicks, to Schwarz's consternation, to open the padlock. He sees the pentagram on the lock at the same time the lock falls into his hand and at first he's sure that he has messed up, but then he realises that the lock was there to protect the contents of the chest from ghosts and that they are on the right track. Unfortunately, the chest is empty.

The hammering on the door has stopped for now and both Schwarz and Gero examine the chest that, as they see after a while, is bolted to the wall. A bit of fumbling reveals a secret mechanism and Gero finally gets it to work while Schwarz pushes the door shut when the hammering starts up again.

A hidden door opens in the wall the chest is bolted to and an enormous pile of small bones tumble into the room. It's all Gero can do to jump back to prevent the bones from burying him. They stare at the mass of bones and slowly understand that they have found the children. Gero discovers a small casket that contains the mace described in the book Schwarz read and a couple of stones inscribed with the protection symbol. He takes both.

Schwarz is still leaning against the door and he can feel his sanity slipping away. To Gero's alarm, he starts talking to himself or rather to someone Gero cannot see. It takes a while until Gero can shake the Doctor out of his delusion and make it clear that they have to leave. He hands him some of the stones, although Schwarz doesn't really seem to realise or believe that the symbol may be their only protection against the ghosts of Haensler and his helpers. They step through another door, hidden behind a closet, into a brightly lit room, floor and walls covered with white tiles.


what happens next

I stepped out of the room for a minute and when I came back, Schwarz's player and the GM had started to build the monologue Schwarz is holding from a throwaway remark. It made for one of the creepiest moments in the game and it wasn't planned at all.

I really, really want to kill that tricycle with fire. Toys and cute things can be incredibly frightening when they are taken out of their innocent context and that thing has made us run for our lives.
So far, we haven't seen anything at all of the villains/monsters, except the hand of one of the nurses. It's very effective and much more eerie than any clearly visible monster can ever be.

So far, Schwarz has been the one who held this little expedition together. without him, Gero would have simply turned and run many times. But now it seems that Gero will be the one responsible for getting them out alive and it's probably too late to run away. That is not a comfortable thought at all and he's not sure he's up to the task.

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