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Friday, 29th February, 2008, 04:27 PM #71
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Lethal Legacy: Part 7 – Mexican Standoff
Hammer jogged into the room with his pistol at the ready. Everyone but Blade was present.
“What the hell?” shouted Randy. He grabbed the shotgun and aimed it at Hammer’s head. “You mind telling me just what the HELL you’re doing?”
There was a click. “I’d put the gun down if I were you.” Jim-Bean had his SIG-Sauer aimed at Randy’s head.
“Why don’t you put your weapon down first, then we’ll talk. “Mary had an automatic pistol aimed at Jim-Bean.
Guppy crawled under the table.
Archive put up his hands. “Now everybody just calm down.”
“Calm down?” Randy took a menacing step forward. “You want ME to CALM down? Why don’t you tell old Randy what the HELL that THING was outside, huh?”
Belinda, Randy’s eldest daughter, hair short and lower lip pierced, skidded into the room with an M-16 semiautomatic rifle.
“WHAT THE F**K IS GOING ON?!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.
“Look,” said Hammer. “We’re part of the Counter-Intelligence Field Agency. I’m going to reach into my pocket slowly and show you my badge. Okay?”
Randy gestured at Hammer’s pocket with the shotgun to confirm his assent.
Hammer tossed his ID on the table.
“We have reason to believe that Douglas Drebber summoned…something. And that he was doing it to eliminate you.”
Belinda lowered the rifle. “So that’s what that message was?”
After Randy lowered the shotgun, everyone lowered their weapons. “What message?” asked Randy.
Belinda pointed at the answering machine. “Here.” A red light was flashing on it. She pressed a button.
“Mary? Mary, are you there! This is Douglas. I’ve done something…something terrible. I was so angry, so mad at you and Randy and your success. When the dream told me to do it, I followed orders. You have to understand that that’s how it works!” Drebber sobbed on the line. “But it…killed my landlady…ripped her apart. I tried to tell it to stop, but it ignored me. I’m going to try to get there as quickly as I can. I think I can stop it. But you’ve got to get the hell out of there. Do you understand? You’ve got to get out of there as soon as you can. Take the kids and run, Mary, RUN BEFORE—“
The recording beeped. Drebber had hit the limit of the voicemail system.
Everyone looked at each other in silence.
“What do we have to do?” asked Randy.
“First, we need to board up all these windows and get out of this room.”
“Right.” Randy addressed Mary. “Mary, get the kids. Everyone arm up. I want a headcount in the kitchen in five minutes.”
Mary nodded and ushered Belinda out of the room.
Blade came back in. “Thanks,” he said to Hammer.
“Help me with this table,” grunted Hammer. The big Native American easily hefted it. They placed it against the window.
Guppy stood up, his hiding place no longer valid. “So what should I do?”
“Try and stay out of the way Guppy.”
“I will…” Guppy’s eyes became unfocused. He was sweating. “Is it hot in here or just me?”
“You’re not going to faint, are you?” Jim-Bean said in distaste.
“No, it’s just…I feel really warm…” Guppy looked around. “There!” He pointed out the window. Two glowing eyes pierced the whiteness.
Then Guppy’s hair caught on fire.
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Saturday, 1st March, 2008, 02:15 PM #72
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Lethal Legacy: Part 8 – The Foyer
Guppy ran out of the room screaming towards the front door. Blade ran after him.
He plunged his head into a nearby snowdrift. Blade stood protectively over him, keeping watch.
With the fire out, Guppy looked back at Blade. “That was close! I think it can set people on fire…” Blade was staring, transfixed, over Guppy’s shoulder.
“Oh crap,” was all he got out. The thing grabbed Guppy by the head and hurled him back into the house. He smashed through a window into the foyer.
The attack shook Blade out of it. Guppy clutched his head, bleeding from a wound on his scalp. “Are you all right?”
“Sorry, it…it hypnotized me or something,” said Blade. He easily picked Guppy up and returned to the sunroom.
“What’s the room at the center of the house?” asked Hammer.
“The dining room,” said Randy. “Why?”
“That’s where we’re going.”
In the dining room, Mary and the kids were already boarding up the windows.
“Is it hot in here,” asked Randy, “or is it just me?”
“Get down!” shouted Guppy. He dove onto Randy, heedless of his head wound. “It attacks by line of sight!” he yelled at his teammates.
Randy had only just started to smolder when Archive tackled him. Sure enough, two red eyes glowed in the snowstorm, just barely visible between an open space in the window.
“How are we supposed to fight this thing?” muttered Jim-Bean.
“With magic.” Archive handed out small cylinders to everyone present. “This is the Dust of Suleiman. Throw it at the thing if it comes close.”
“Yeah, right,” muttered Jim-Bean. “I’ll trust my machinegun any day.” He started assembling his Hechler-Koch G36.
Archive shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
Mary looked around. “Where’s Luke?”
“He was just here?” said Randy. “Damn it! Luke?” he shouted. “LUKE?”
“He must have gotten scared,” said Mary, panic rising in her voice. “Oh my god, that thing is out there…”
“Luke’s probably just hiding somewhere in the house,” said Hammer, trying to keep everyone calm. “Do you know his usual hiding spots?”
“He sometimes likes to hide by the generator shack,” offered Scott.
Hammer nodded. “Blade, you’re with me. We’ll find him.”
Mary started sobbing. Blade took out his folding compound bow from a case.
“What are you going to do with that?” asked Randy.
“I’m going hunting,” said Blade. Then he and Hammer left the room.
Sunday, 2nd March, 2008, 04:26 PM #73
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Lethal Legacy: Part 9 – The Generator
“Luke!” shouted Hammer.
“Luke!” shouted Blade.
They struggle through the snow in the direction of the generator shack. It wasn’t hard to find, because it was on fire.
“Son of a bitch!” shouted Hammer. They jogged towards the shack.
The blowing snow was keeping the fire from spreading, but the entire shack was engulfed in flames. The generator was destroyed.
“I sure hope Luke’s not in there,” said Blade.
Suddenly Blade turned and aimed his bow at Hammer. “What the—?” shouted Hammer.
Blade let the arrow fly. It whistled past Hammer’s ear towards the creature, only to be blocked a roaring wall of wind.
The thing faded away before their very eyes.
“That thing must have taken Luke,” said Hammer. “I think it’s shifting between dimensions.”
“Then there’s no way we’re going to get him back,” said Blade. “Not without killing it.”
There was an odd groan from the house. A huge tree that hung over the dining room, its limbs covered in snow, started shaking to and fro. There was the sound of glass shattering and screams.
Blade and Hammer sprinted back to the house.
Monday, 3rd March, 2008, 11:45 AM #74
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Lethal Legacy: Part 10 – Dining Room
“The power’s out,” said Randy, distraught over his missing son, “but at least we have the generator.”
There was the sound of a distant explosion. Then the lights went out.
“That’d be the generator,” said Scott with a sigh.
There was the sudden sound of tinkling glass. One by one, the glass shattered around the barred windows.
“What is going on?” shouted Belinda, covering her ears.
Guppy ran screaming into the bathroom and locked the door.
That left just Archive and Jim-Bean.
Archive tossed some dust on top of Randy.
“What the HELL are you doing NOW?” shouted Randy.
“I’ve got a theory. If we sprinkle you with the dust, it won’t be able to harm you…”
“Are you OUT of your FU—“
Before Randy could finish, a huge tree smashed through the far wall, crashing pine needles and snow everywhere. Randy was pinned, as was Mary, Belinda, and Scott. Archive struggled to get up.
The thing walked with a dreadful, deliberate gait. Its hide hung loosely upon its frame, and its rugose, dead-eyed rudiment of a head swayed drunkenly from side to side. Its forepaws were extended, with talons spread wide, and its whole body was taut with murderous malignity despite its utter lack of facial description. It loomed over Randy.
Guppy tried to open the door, but it was wedged shut by the branches.
“Use…” groaned Archive. “…the dust!”
“Screw the dust!” shouted Jim-Bean. He grabbed his HK-G36 with both hands and took aim. The thing was ignoring him, focused on Randy.
“I am SO.” Jim-Bean fired a burst. The thing jerked spasmodically and turned towards him.
“SICK.” He fired another burst. It staggered backwards.
“OF THIS!” Jim-Bean pressed down hard on the trigger of his HK. A series of shots pierced the thing’s forehead. It groaned and then melted upwards, as if it were paint being sprayed across pavement.
Blade and Hammer arrived, tearing branches off the Kalms and Archive. With enough branches out of the way of the bathroom door, Guppy stepped out of the bathroom with Luke in his arms. “I found him!” he said with a broad smile.
“How?” asked Mary, weeping and hugging the unconscious boy to her bosom.
“He just faded in,” said Guppy.
Jim-Bean snorted. “And that’s why you ran in there…right.”
Guppy didn’t say anything. The wind whistled and snow continued to fall into the room.
“Is it gone?” croaked Randy. He was baldy bruised from the impact of the tree.
“Yes,” said Archive. “But we need to talk about your book…”
Tuesday, 4th March, 2008, 12:05 PM #75
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Lethal Legacy: Conclusion
“So he’s not publishing the book after all?” asked Blade.
“Nope,” said Archive. “I convinced him to hand over the draft of Yuggoth Creatures to me. The first thing I’d like to do is investigate the original Labib Home for Children. Randy’s contacts suggest that it continued to operate as a cult for quite awhile afterwards, and was connected to a little girl’s disappearance. We could do a lot with this information…”
“We’re going to have to keep an eye on the Kalms family,” said Hammer. “They know too much.”
“Where do you think they got all that information about the occult from?” asked Guppy.
“Mary, of course,” said Hammer. “She was married to Drebbers. After the divorce, she must have kept mum about what she knew for awhile until Randy was down on his luck and need to write a new book.”
“So the real secret source was his wife all along?” asked Blade.
“It has to be,” said Hammer.
“What about the book we found in Drebbers’ place?” asked Blade.
“It’s a summoning,” said Archive.
“Summoning of what?” asked Guppy, fear in his eyes.
“I’d rather not say,” said Archive. “It can call His attention to us, even just by reciting the phrase.”
“Oh, give me a break,” said Jim-Bean.
“What’s it say?” asked Hammer, encouraging Archive.
Archive took a deep breath. “In His House at R'lyeh Dead Cthulhu waits dreaming, yet He shall rise and His kingdom shall cover the Earth.”
Tuesday, 4th March, 2008, 10:34 PM #76
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
RIP, Gary Gyax
Out of respect for Gary's passing, the grandfather of all we hold dear on these boards and the man who changed my life for the better, there will be no update Wednesday, March 5. A virtual moment of silence, if you will. Posting will resume on Thursday, March 6.
I was working on a non-fiction book about the history of gaming and had hoped to interview him, so this is particularly crushing on both a personal and professional level. My condolences to Gary's friends and family.
Thursday, 6th March, 2008, 01:04 PM #77
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Chapter 3: Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays
This scenario, “Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays,” is from the Call of Cthulhu supplement, “Delta Green,” by Adam Scott Glancy. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!
Our cast of characters includes:
- Game Master: Michael Tresca
- Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero) played by Joe Lalumia
- Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero) played by Jeremy Ortiz
- Hank “Guppy” Gupta (Smart Hero) played by Joseph Tresca
- Kurtis “Hammer” Grange (Fast Hero) played by George Webster
- Jake “Blade” Iron Shirt (Strong Hero) played by Matt Hammer
- Sebastian "Caprice" Creed (Fast/Smart Hero) played by Bill Countiss
This is one of those scenarios that should never have been in the main rulebook for Delta Green. It features a body-hopping alien known as the Traveler (yay!) who has no “goals other than an ongoing orgy of violence and mayhem” (boo!). So right from the start, our bad guy is a one-shot cipher. More importantly, the alien is a shapeshifter that hides in the bodies of other people. It has no other purpose? No weird character traits? There’s not even the slightest hint in the scenario as to how to run the Traveler when it’s taken over a body.
The other problem is that the scenario involves a BODY-HOPPING ALIEN. But instead, we end up with the thing hiding out in the desert where there are NO PEOPLE WHATOSEVER; in essence the alien picks the dumbest location it can find to hide out in and stays there. If it was really true to its “orgy of violence and mayhem,” surely there are better areas to hunt than the Arizona desert?
Then there’s the Coyote spirit. Basically, the Traveler eats three shamans, one of which manages a prayer to Coyote, the trickster spirit. This Coyote spirit then SHOWS UP and harasses the Traveler, giving the investigators clues to help track the alien. Or to put it another way, it’s a heavy-handed, genre-breaking attempt to give the PCs advice from a supernatural cause that has no place in a Call of Cthulhu setting. The answer to this is, “if you are concerned about the cosmological purity of CoC’s no-gods-but-those-of-the-Mythos approach, you’re welcome to assume that Coyote Spirit is a manifestation of Valor’s magical energy or willpower, and that it will dissipate when the Traveler is defeated.”
Seriously? What spell is this? How do PCs get a hold of it? What blasphemous tome did this shaman learn it from? The presence of a Coyote spirit is far more than messing with the mythos, it’s not playing by the rules of cultists, spell casting, and creepiness in general that is Cthulhu. The presence of Coyote had everyone convinced that there was a were-coyote running around, which made more sense because, you know, that was at least slightly creepy and seemed to fit better with the Cthulhu setting.
Fortunately, I knew this was coming. One of our agents just happens to be a Native American from that region, and I wrote it into his background that he has a connection to Coyote (he has a tattoo of a coyote and considers the animal his spirit totem). This provided some great moments that made Coyote more of a bizarre poltergeist of Blade’s ID than…you know, a spirit who saves people, White Wolf style. Still, it confused the players even if Coyote had a good excuse to exist.
Once the Traveler realizes its cover is blown, I decided it should run for it by stealing a car and rapidly hopping between bodies (as opposed to what the bad guy does in the scenario which is “flee the area on foot…rather than steal a car”). And it was going to flee to a big city filled with Lovecraftian horrors. Also known as Hollywood.
I know what you’re thinking: that sounds a lot like the movie The Hidden.
That’s exactly what my players said.
They were right.
Defining Moment: The defining moment in this scenario is when Blade called his shaman and the cell phone rang. That was NOT planned at all; it just worked out that way. Read on to see what I mean.
- Delta Green D20: The source of Puppet Shows & Shadow Plays. Despite the d20 stat block typos, the source material can't be beat.
- The Hidden: One of the best 80s sci-fi/cop buddy movies. I actually used the black-and-white security footage from the beginning of the movie as a prop, showing it to the PCs as evidence of what the Traveler was up to.
- Critical Locations: Useful maps for the police station shoot-out.
- Vessel: From Nine Inch Nails' superb album, Year Zero.
- Graham Kinniburgh’s Handouts: Excellent handouts, I used them all. Thank you Graham!
Thursday, 6th March, 2008, 01:24 PM #78
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Hey, that's a great movie to steal ideas from. I hope the thing is brutally resistant to bullets too.Originally Posted by talien
Friday, 7th March, 2008, 12:58 PM #79
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays - Prologue
It was a beautiful summer afternoon under a clear Alabama sky. Sebastian and his brother were driving into the countryside for a picnic.I let you put it in my mouth
I let it get under my skin
I let you pump it in my veins
I let you take me from within
--Vessel by Nine Inch Nails
Only they weren’t supposed to be. Sebastian remembered something about training for Majestic-12. There was a crusty old bastard named Drake who kept chiding him about the training being too easy; something about his brother Michael’s senior membership in Majestic-12 smoothing things over.
“That endsh HERE,” said Drake with his Scottish accent. And that was all Sebastian remembered.The lights came back on. Someone lifted goggles off of his head and sensors off of his arms and legs.They parked the car near a secluded pasture and followed a trail along a river until they reached a sunny, grassy clearing. He and Michael used to go for picnics all the time in Alabama. But that was years ago, before they went their separate ways, before a gulf of time that had passed so quickly.
Sebastian unpacked his lunch, arranging Tupperware containers, bottles of Evian, and his favorite, a bag of Cheddarwursts in the shade of a small hickory tree.
“I left the bug spray in the car,” said Michael, just as young as Sebastian remembered him. “I’m gonna run back for it.”
As he set off, Sebastian leaned back against the tree, enjoying the solitude and stretching out in the grass. His left heel came to rest against a small mound of dirt—probably the buried remains of someone else’s picnic, he figured.
But the innocuous-looking mound was actually home to a quarter of a million fire ants and their queen, who were busy producing 1,600 eggs a day.
Within moments, an army of ants was marching across Sebastian’s sneakers and socks. The first sensation he felt was like a tiny pinprick. The pinch faded quickly enough, but it was immediately replaced by a severe burning, as if someone lit a match and touched it to his calf.
One bite was unpleasant enough, but the red fire ants attacked en masse. Hundreds of ants were evacuating the colony, swarming up Sebastian’s leg, and piercing his skin with their mandibles. The sensation caused by hundreds of bites was agonizing—like his legs were on fire.
It all happened in a matter of seconds. Sebastian looked down and realized his legs were swarming with bugs. He desperately tried to swat them off—but every handful that he swatted away were replaced by hundreds more, and making contact with his hand just gave them another surface to infest.
“MICHAEL!” Sebastian shouted at the top of his lungs. “GET OVER HERE!”
He reached for his water bottle and tried to douse the bugs with Evian, but there were too many.
In quick succession, Sebastian’s eyes began to swell. His mouth and tongue felt thick and swollen. It was difficult to breathe; he was sweating profusely and feeling nauseated. Sebastian’s mouth made an odd whistling noise as he struggled to inhale. He was experiencing a rare but severe condition known as anaphylaxis, an intense reaction to the fire ants’ poison.
Sebastian took to steps and then collapsed to the ground as he went into anaphylactic shock. His body struggled to supply enough oxygen to his tissue and organs, but then the world went dark and he slipped away.
Someone was leaning over him, sneering.
“That ought to toughen you up,” came Drake’s Scottish accent. “Got a call shign for yourshelf?”
“Caprice,” said Sebastian, his voice hoarse from screaming.
“Caprish? Like the pantsh?”
Saturday, 8th March, 2008, 11:42 AM #80
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays: Part 1a – Welcome to Phoenix
PHOENIX, AZ – Caprice’s first mission was in Phoenix. He was going to meet his other team members there. He wasn’t looking forward to it; Drake had said they were driving straight from Massachusetts.
He looked nervously at his briefing papers again. To Caprice’s surprise, two large men were invading his space.
One man could have been J.R. from Dallas, only he wore a state trooper’s uniform. The other was an equally large but much quieter Native American man.
“You must be Major Frank Garrett,” said Caprice.
Garrett spat a wad of tobacco on the ground. “You must be the FBI agent they sent, huh?”
“Uh, yes sir.” He nodded at the Native American man. “And you must be Sheriff Mangas Colorados.”
Colorados nodded back. Garrett seemed to elbow him out of the room, even though they were standing in front of the police station.
“Let’s get somethin’ straight.” Garrett stepped up to him, taking off his sunglasses so that they were eye to eye. Which wasn’t hard, since Garrett was a few inches taller than him. “This is my investigation. I don’t want no FBI boys muckin’ it up.” He poked a finger in Caprice’s shoulder. “Ya got that?”
“Sure,” said Caprice. “I’m just waiting for my associates…”
“Didn’t think they’d send just one of ya city slickers.” Garrett snorted and spat again. “Figured they’d send someone from the FBI office around these parts.” The wad of tobacco sizzled on the hot pavement of the parking lot.
“Got some tobacco I can chew?”
Garrett looked at him sideways. Then he reached into his pocket, took a chunk out of a tin, and handed it to Caprice.
Caprice slowly shoved it into his mouth and chewed. He tried to keep from tearing up. After a few seconds, a suitable glob of something nasty was in his mouth.
Imitating Garrett, he spat on the ground. A gooey wad slipped over his lower lip, trailed down his chin, and then plopped awkwardly at Caprice's feet.
Colorados stifled a laugh. Garrett just stared at him.
“What’s your name, boy?”
Caprice froze. Was he supposed to use his real name on missions? He couldn’t use his code name. Not with a guy like Garrett. “You can call me Agent Creed.”
Garrett guffawed and slapped him on the back. “You’re all right, Creed. Now spit that crap out before you choke on it.” He steered Caprice into the police station. “Let me bring you up to date on what we’ve got so far.”