Monday, May 14, 2012

Second Session Overview - Knickerbocker City

Yesterday we gathered in the conference room at my office again to continue the Swashbucklers of Atlantis game.

We chatted a bit about movies (mostly Avengers) and finished lunches that were brought and dived in with the following day after the events of the previous session (see the two posts below).

The group took the ferry to Knickerbocker City and enquired as to the location of Crooked Street, learning that it was just off Broad Way and one street over from Straight Street.

Heading to the area, Killian and Bottle stop off in the Black Bull Tavern on Straight Street for a bite of lunch and a stout drink, while Ardeth decides to wander the length of Crooked Street to see what he can learn and see what number 18 looks like.

Crooked street, which meanders a bit (amazed, aren't you?) due to it being more of an overlarge alley than a proper street, and buildings of varying sizes fronting (or backing to) it.

There are a number of tenements, small residences, the back door to the Black Bull, and the Theatre beside it, an apothecary, what is obviously the rear entrance to a 'ladie's dormitory' with a rose colored lens on the lamp by the entry, an old man sitting upon a stoop idling away, a couple of rooming houses, a place (number 16) called "The Cabinet of Curiosities" with a very poorly stitched and stuffed creature that was obviously supposed to be a Chimera in the window, and number 18, a stout building with no windows on the ground floor and the lintel of the main door bearing a number of Aegyptian hieroglyphs, and to Ardeth's Sight, flickers of potent magicks, which Artdeth assumed to be wards of some type.

Ardeth wandered the remaining distance down to the end of Crooked Street, where it opened onto Bowry Street and had a look at the businesses on that end of the street, before wandering back up with the intent of speaking to the old man.  Stepping aside to allow a loaded wagon to pass, Ardeth made his way to where the old man sat, peeling an apple.

Introducing himself as 'Clem' he gave Ardeth a slice of apple and a run-down of the neighborhood gossip. . .

From the skinny, pale old man with the walking stick who ran the Cabinet of Curiosities and always took his walk about the neighborhood at night, the 'Actresses' who lived in the house next to the theatre and supplemented their income in the worlds oldest profession, including with the Persian who lived next door to the Cabinet, Mawtan Al Habari, as he introduced himself.   Clem said Habari had all kinds of things shipped in, big statues of sandstone, fancy boxes that looked a bit like coffins and lots of fancy cabinets and furniture.   Said he had some big, quiet fellas that helped him around the house, wore robes and wraps around their heads, said Mawtan had called them "Bed ones", whatever that was.  Said that Habari also ships stuff out, figured he must deal in that kind of stuff, said a wagon had left just a bit earlier, that Ardeth had probably passed it.

Ardeth thanked the man and started to leave, the old man told him that if he was looking for a place to stay, the boarding house next door was him, just let him know.


Back at the Tavern, Killian and Bottle realize that the majority of the customers are apparently actors from the neighboring Theatre, as they are sporadically working on lines as well as working on large quantities of alcohol.   A couple of more ladies come in, starting towards the actors, but making a detour to Killian and Bottle when they see new faces.    Suddenly the center of attraction from the ladies and some of the actors, Killian and Bottle buy the ladies a drink and talk about the area, learning of the pale man from the Cabinet and that the girls know Mawtan.  When asked "what's he like?" by Killian, one of the girls giggles and says "Being whipped."   They learn that the troupe is performing 'A Midsummer's Night Dream' that evening and are invited to attend.  The director tells him the woman playing Titania is actually a fae.  Before they can get further in the conversations, Ardeth comes in and tells them that they need to follow him.

They race down to Bowry and look for the slow moving wagon that Ardeth had seen earlier and thinking they see it in the distance, dash down Bowry in the direction of the docks.  Once they are sure that the wagon they see is the one they want, the group proceeds to follow it to it's destination at an easy walk.    Upon arriving at the docks, the wagon driver goes aboard a ship being loaded, and Ardeth asks for a distraction so he can look at the crates.    After admonishing Killian to put away the pistol he drew from his coat pocket, Bottle walks just past the ship and to where dockworkers are preparing a load for the next ship.   Walking up to the largest man and asking, "Have you ever been to Nacogdoches?" and punching the man in the nose.  He proceeds to grapple with the man, drawing the attention of everyone nearby.

Ardeth attempts to pry open one of the crates with his dagger, snapping the blade.   Killian lends his to the efforts, lifting the lid a small ways, but bending the blade of his dagger a great deal.   The first crate contained urns, the one that Ardeth chose to open smelled of olive oil.  Pushing the lid closed, he looked to see if a pry bar might be on the wagon.  One was, and he used that to quickly open another crate, that contained folded silks, possibly clothing or curtains.   He reached deep into the box and encountered something smooth and rounded.  Pulling it near the top, revealed a skull,  with three eye sockets.  Quickly stuffing the skull back inside and closing the crate, he looks at the shipping label which reads "Lady Catherine Salisbray, Whately Manor, Whately Village".Heading towards Bottle and the fight, Bottle sees them coming, pushes his opponent away and says, "I'm sorry, I guess you weren't ever in Nacogdoches" and walks off from his bewildered opponent.

They return to the Black Bull to plan.  Killian and Ardeth go to check out the Cabinet of Curiosities and meet the owners, Count Orloff, a large eastern Europan man and his brother, Dimitri, who is quite pale and somewhat cadaverous of appearance.  They learn a bit about the Orloff's neighbor, Mawtan.  Orloff says that he is fairly certain that Mawtan is a necromancer.   He shows them around his little museum of the Macabre and unusual and offers to tutor Ardeth in magical arts should he be in need of a teacher.   The two of them leave and return to the Black Bull, where the theatre manager tells them that his troupe must leave to get ready for the nights performance, but that he'll leave their names at the door and reserve three front row seats for them and invites them to join the troupe backstage after the performance.

As they discuss Mawtan, the bartender comes over and tells them that he thinks Mawtan may be heading to Barrow Island that evening, as he saw him and one of his 'servants' pass by earlier and has heard that the man goes to Barrow Island on a regular basis.   He tells them of a friend of his who has a small boat and is familiar with the island, named Tony Napoli.  He gives the group a note for Tony and wishes them well.

Returning to the docks, the group find Tony and his crew and ask about a ride to Barrow Island.  They ask him if he has seen Mawtan, and Tony replies that Mawtan and one of his men left in a long boat just a short time before, heading to the island.  Tony has seen him go that way quite often.

A price is agreed upon and the boat heads to the island as the sun goes down and rain begins to fall.  As they reach the island the rain turns into a full fledged thunderstorm, but ahead they see a sickly green glow around the crest of a hill.   Heading up the hill, they crest it to find Mawtan casting a spell and a dozen animated corpses around him.   As they watch the corpses begin to meld together, forming an ever-increasingly large single creature.   Ardeth quickly counters the magical energies being used to form the creature and the spirits of Ardeth's ancestors, clad in the armor of ancient Aegypt, race forward and begin pulling the creatures out of the mass, tossing them aside until there are 12 individuals rather than one large one.   Bottle shoots one of the Corpses with his rifle, which he loaded with Salt as well as a ball, and strikes it in the head, causing it to collapse and melt away in a putrid puddle.
Killian takes aim and shoots at Mawtan, striking him in the throat and snapping the chain that was holding a glowing Ankh around his neck, which falls into the mud.

Mawtan flees over the crest of the hill, holding his wounded neck, Bottle and Killian begin to shoot zombies that are between them and the fleeing Mawtan, while Ardeth, having the straightest access, runs around the end of the zombies and over the edge of the hill, where he meets two bedouin bodyguards, each wielding a nasty looking Kopesh.  

Hearing the exclamation of surprise from Ardeth, Killian runs to help him, while Bottle realizes that the corpses are ignoring him and walking in a straight line away from where they are currently.  With a shrug, he goes to help with the living and much more aggressive threat from the bedouins.   

With the bedouin bodyguards occupied by his companions, Ardeth continues on after Mawtan, causing his foe to slip and fall in the mud.  Killian and Bottle follow quickly behind after dealing with the Bedouins, Killian attempting to take a shot on the run and managing to slip in the mud and fire a shot into the sky.   Ardeth catches up with Mawtan who reveals that the corpses are for "The Dark Lady Salisbray" and then dies as Ardeth rests his staff upon Mawtan's wounded neck.

Ardeth and Bottle quickly get in the longboat that Mawtan had used to come to the island and row it back to where Tony and his crew are waiting.   As the corpses blindly follow the boat, Killian uses this to his advantage to place his gun to the back of their heads and shoot them as they walk.  Once Tony's crew joins the fray, the corpses are quickly dispatched and Tony is very happy to be presented with a second boat for his operation.

The group returns to Knickerbocker City, where they rent rooms from Clem, get quick baths and changes of clothing.  Killian and Bottle head to the Theatre where they hope to catch the last of the play and the entirety of the party afterwards.  Ardeth takes the keys he found on Mawtan's corpse and heads for 18 Crooked Street.

First Session - Arrival in Boston (Part the Second)

I'm going to try and keep the rest of this overview brief (or at least moreso than the first half)

Our erstwhile investigators took the rope with which Goodman Kellar had been hanged, and also found footprints of a man who was obviously heavy (or burdened) with smallish feet.   The footprints were lost in the general muck of the main street once they got to the end of the alley, but the person had stepped into a large horse dropping and investigating it closely, the managed to make out the cobbler's mark on the heelprint.

Asking about the mark, they learn the name of the cobbler, one Angus MacKray, whose shop is located just a few blocks from where they are currently, so the crew decided to pursue that line of investigation immediately.   There is a tavern directly across the alley from the constable's office, so they decide to return there after they see if they can get a description of the man whose boot print they found.

Arriving at the cobblers, which is located next to a gunsmith's shop, they find MacKray engaged in a friendly game of checkers with the gunsmith, Fredrich Glock (yes, I did.   At some point the players all want to be sure to get a Flintlock Glock now :D)   Herr Glock excused himself so that MacKray could speak with the party.  They learned that the description of the boot size and depth brings him to think of "Herr Rath", a Prussian mercenary whom MacKray has made several pairs of boots for when he is in the area.   The heel in question was just replaced the day before, and Herr Rath waited on it, for he said he would be returning to the Innsmouth Bay area shortly thereafter.    MacKray didn't know for sure if Rath would be going to Fort Innsmouth, or to the small fishing village of Whately.  

He did know that the mercenary was staying with one of the 'dock side sallies' in Widow Staven's 'Boarding House', which is located directly across from the Tavern next to the constable's office.

Heading next to a rope and net maker's place just down the street, the group learn that the rope they found was made there, although the metal threads (which no one had spotted to this point, having made a cursory examination of the rope) were not in there when it was made.   The foreman also confirmed that Ian Kellar worked for him, but that he hadn't seen him since the day before.

Examining the metal threads embedded in the rope, Ardeth determines that they are an alloy that contains Orichalc, a compound that facilitates the transmission of magical energy.

Returning to the area of the Constable's office, the trio spot the young lady that was fleeing the hound the night before, as she exits the building they had been told was Widow Staven's 'Boarding House'.   Approaching her as she comes down the street, the group first inquires as to her health and then begin to ask her about Rath and Kellar.   She said that Rath had spent the past several days with one of the other girls, but that he had left the evening before around midnight and hadn't returned.   Kellar, she said, was a strange little man who seemed to have an obsession with Nancy O'Shannon, the other girl that was with her the night before.

At the tavern, they get confirmation that both Rath and Kellar had been in there from time to time, and get an improved description of Rath and confirmation that he had been in the tavern the night before around midnight and that he had a coil of rope with him.

Returning to the house of Lord Makeway, the group decides to make use of his library and to ask some questions to determine what their next step should be.

Several people they spoke to during the day said they did not know of a Crooked Street in Boston, but had heard of one in Knickerbocker City.    During dinner they discuss what they have learned with Louise Makeway and ask her to provide them with horses for a few days, as they are going to head to Knickerbocker City and see if they can learn who or what "Mawtan" or "Martin" as several people suggested the name could have been spelled phonetically.  And from there, perhaps to find Herr Rath in  the Innsmouth area.  

Louise tells them horses will be ready when they are in the morning and suggests that if they go to Innsmouth to speak with Captain Horatio Balden, and to mention that she had sent them, as she is engaged to him and she is sure he would happily assist them as he can.

The next morning the group rides south and spends a quiet evening in an inn in Plymouth Bay, then travel on the next morning to arrive in the port of New Rochelle, where they will be able to catch a ferry the next day for Knickerbocker City.

Ardeth decides to spend the evening studying, while Bottle and Killian head down the street to a tavern.   Arriving in the Tavern, they spot a man who is the spitting image of Ian Kellar sitting at a table with a tankard in front of him.   Kellar looks up, and they see the bruising from the rope around his neck.  He sees the pair and lurches up and heads for the back door, with Bottle and Killian in hot pursuit.

By the time they make their way through the crowd and reach the alleyway, they see Kellar climbing up the side of the neighboring building with what appears to be preternatural ability.   Sending Kellar around to the front to make sure he doesn't get away, Bottle, who is quite the natural climber himself, bounds up the side of the building and gives chase across the rooftops.    With a couple of missteps (putting his foot through a roof and the like), Bottle is gaining upon the fleeing Kellar.  Killian gets ahead of the pair (he thinks) and decides to try to shoot Kellar from the ground when he leaps between the buildings.

Ardeth has decided he needs some air, and opening the window, sees a couple of people running across the rooftops in the general direction of the Inn, recognizing the one in the rear as having the same general build as Bottle.   Leaving the window standing open, Ardeth moves back into the room out of sight and takes up his walking staff and waits.  

In the alley, Killian sees a dark shape cross the opening and he fires.  Fortunately, it is a near miss, that tears through the buffcoat that Bottle is wearing.  Realizing his near disastrous mistake, Killian quickly heads back out on the street and sees that they are approaching the Inn, so he heads quickly up to the room, reloading his pistol on the run.

Kellar, seeing an open window ahead of him as an opportunity, leaps through, landing in the room, where Ardeth let's loose a deafening shout, which shatters the windows of his room and the rooms on either side, and leaves Kellar lying unconscious upon the floor.

Bottle and Killian arrive shortly behind Kellar and truss him up tightly before bringing him around.

Upon questioning him, they learn that Rath came around to the coroners and used some type of magic to bring Kellar back from the dead and commanded him to report to Mawtan in Knickerbocker City, and to make himself available to Mawtan from that point.   He cries and apologies for the things he has done, for he has seen hell itself during the time he was dead and hopes to never see it again and asks that the group kill him but forgive him and to see if a priest could be convinced to bury him in holy ground and at least send him to purgatory.   They agree and Bottle kills him quickly, wrapping him up in a blanket, carries him back down into the alley and down the street to where he had passed a church earlier.

Rousing the priest, Bottle explains the entire sequence of events up to and including the last request of Kellar.  The priest agrees to give him last rites and to bury him in the small cemetery behind the church.   Bottle helps him by digging the grave and burying him.  He spends a little time speaking with the priest who gives him a bottle of holy water 'just in case'.  

Thus ended the first session.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The First Session - Arrival in Boston (Part the First)

Two weeks ago today, we got together for the first session of Swashbucklers of Atlantis, using my Bastardized d100 rules.    I intended to post this sooner, while it was still fresh in my mind, but I stowed the gaming stuff on a shelf in my office and the past two weeks have been rather busy, so I've not taken the time to post the overview of the session.

I post this while I await our players.

The Players and their characters:
Alex - running Troy "Bottle" Roberts, Anglish mercenary with a desire to learn engineering and tinkering
Jason - running Killian O'Brian, Eireish, young Explorer ready to see the world.
Adam - running Ardeth Ibin Falan, Aegyptian Magician

The trio arrived in Boston harbor at dusk on September 17th, 1745.   By the time they debarked from their boat, the Wave Dancer, captained by Achmed Bey O'Reilly (of Persian and Eireish descent), it was full dark and a fog was spreading across the dock area, limiting visibility.

As they made their way off the ship and towards the center of town, where they had been invited to stay with Lord Calvin Makeway, they heard growls, rough language and the screams of maidens fair (or men screaming like girls, it is very foggy and dark, after all).  As they determine the directions of the screams, a young woman comes tearing out of the fog, being chased by a large hound, it's eyes glowing red and a strange, greenish glow around it's neck.   Before they can react, the muzzle of the hound peels back in four sections and a long, tentacle-like tongue shoots forward, snaring the young woman, and it begins to drag her back towards where it has stopped.

Our intrepid heroes, once they have overcome their initial shock at this hellish sight, spring forth and with blade, flintlock and arcane magicks, overcome the beast and the girl continues rapidly upon her way, with not even a word of thanks.   Further growls and screams draw them deeper into the fog, into an alleyway between warehouses, where they find another three beasts, of various breeds of canine type, including what Ardeth recognizes as a Persian Jackal.  All three have the same glowing eyes and neck.   One is feasting upon the corpse of a fallen man, whom they recognize as Jock Mahoney, one of the crew from the Wave Dancer who had left just ahead of them to begin his shore liberty.  A few feet away, two of the creatures have a man and another woman cornered.   Another of their shipmates from the Wave Dancer, Roger Stuart is trying to protect the young woman and fend off the beasts with a board he apparently picked up from the ground.

Once again, Flintlocks, blades and magicks save the day, and as the last beast falls, they see a shadowy shape in the edge of the fog.   Rushing forward to attack, Killian knocks the man unconscious, a glowing piece of stone wrapped in paper dropping from his fingers as he collapses to the ground.

Roger and the young lady take leave of the group with their thanks and flee into the fog.  Examining the animals, they all have upon their necks leather colors, with a hexagonally shaped piece of copper imprinted with a hieroglyph that Ardeth recognizes as the symbol of Seth, the ancient Aegyptian god of chaos.   The paper and stone dropped by the unconscious man are examined and the stone is a piece of smoothed and worked sandstone bearing the same emblem.  The paper bears writing that reads:

18 Crooked Street

pocketing these items as they hear the whistles of the constables approaching, the group answers their questions and then drops Lord Makeway's name when the constables start to insist that they come in for questioning.   Surprisingly, the constables not only agree to allow them to present themselves the next day, but they provide transportation ot Lord Makeway's house.

Arriving at Lord Makeway's they are conducted into the study where they meet Lord Makeway, and his visitor, Benjamin Franklin.  After a few minutes of introductions and small talk, Franklin takes his leave, saying that he is to take ship to Londoun where he will present the Royal Court and Parliament with a proposal for Atlantean representation in Parliament, and possibly for an Atlantean Parliament as well.

The group fills Lord Makeway in on their adventures of the evening.  He tells them that he would be very interested to learn what the constables learn from the prisoner and after a good meal, has them escorted to their rooms for the night.

The next day, Lord Makeway accompanies them to the constables office where they find that the man from the night before, identified as one Ian Kellar, was found hanged in his cell by a rope that ran out the windows and was attached to the ceiling in a manner that baffled the constables, as there was nothing to run the rope over on the smooth ceiling.

Investigating, the group finds the rope, which Ardeth determines has a lingering aura of magical energies on it.  They learn that Lord Makeway is actually the head of His Royal Majesty's Crown Agents in Atlantis, and that he unfortunately has business that requires him to leave Boston for a few days and asks if the group would be willing to undertake an investigation into the strange events as temporary agents of the Crown.

Agreement is quick in coming and Lord Makeway tells them that they may use his house as their headquarters while they do so, and if they need anything to ask his daughter Louise, or any of his staff, and any reasonable requests will be filled.   He gives them a bit of money and leaves them to their investigations

. . ..

Time for today's game is swift approaching, I shall continue this later and also post the event's of today's game.