[D20 CoC] Beyond the Mountains of Madness Campaign - Prologue


First Post
Dr. Moore Pontificates

Before leaving the podium, the Mayor waits for the polite clapping to die down and makes one more announcement. ”I am afraid that I must now depart to attend yet another event, but I leave you in good hands. It is my great pleasure to introduce to you a man who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of knowledge. A man who’s studies have taken him to nearly all corners of the globe: to the Himalayas, to the Arctic, to Africa, to South America, and now to Antarctica. I present to you our reknowned geologist, paleontologist, and explorer from Miskatonic University, Dr. William Hannibal Moore!”

Amidst rousing applause, Dr. Moore rises from his chair, shakes hands with Mayor O’Brien, nods to James Starkweather, then steps upon the platform. As Dr. Moore approaches the podium to begin his speech, Mayor O’Brien walks down the aisle towards the exit in the rear, stopping momentarily for a few personal goodbyes. Trailing behind the Mayor are two large, solemn bodyguards whom you remember seeing at his side all evening.

Dr. Moore raises his hand to quiet the audience, smiles, and says ”Thank you. Thank you, and good evening, ladies and gentlemen.” Looking to the rear of the room, Dr. Moore says ”Before he sneaks away, I’d like to give a special thanks to Mayor O’Brien, for joining us this evening, for providing me with such a kind introduction and also for his excellent summary of our plans for the Starkweather-Moore Expedition.” Mayor O’Brien turns, laughing, and waves goodbye before slipping through the rear doors.

Dr. Moore returns his gaze to the audience seated before him. ”James asked me to come before you tonight to give you a taste of the many preparations underway for this monumental undertaking, and also to describe for you some of the unique challenges that are set before us. I will do my best to avoid putting you to sleep,” here there are a few chuckles from the audience, “but there are many aspects of this voyage that are not just difficult, but also dangerous, and these will require great fortitude and precise execution of our planning to overcome.

Take, for example, the location. As we sit here in Manhattan, we are nearly 10,000 miles away from our planned Antarctic base, and that base will be more than 2,000 miles from the nearest human dwellings. For nine months out of every twelve, we would be shut off even from these closest neighbors by an impenetrable pack ice. If we should forget some item which seems trivial, there will be no opportunity to purchase one and have it delivered. Through my mind runs a provoking rhyme… “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost…” I seem to have forgotten the rest, but the moral is clear anyway.

But we have done our best; if something is forgotten, then it will have to be one of those things with which Providence bedevils humans who reach out for too much. For we have estimated, calculated and considered until our heads whirled; we have divided and sub-divided to the nth degree; we have laid out our plans on a cosmic order, setting up, as it were, an ideal scheme—an expedition equipped with the most nearly perfect instruments for gathering information.

Here, as Dr. Moore relates further intricacies of his plans, some nonscientific members of the team may find their minds and eyes beginning to wander…

Job (the tortured one).

Bibliography Reference 5.
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The Shaman

First Post
Paco stands and smiles at Mrs. Broughton. “It has been a pleasure, Señora Broughton, thank you.”

The mountaineer sits back and looks around the room for Starkweather, but at the urging of the wait-staff the guests begins to take their seats and the conversations bubbling around the room grow hushed. The alcalde, Señor O’Brien, takes the floor and addresses the gathering.

At a break in the oration Paco sees a rough hand extended his way. “You must be our guide. Mr. Guerini, correct? I am Vittorio Liuzzi of Modena. I am very pleased to meet you. I noticed we are bunked together in the hotel.” The Chilean reaches for the engineer’s hand, gives it a firm grip.

Mucho gusto, Señor Liuzzi,” he replies softly, only loud enough to be heard over the applause. “It is a pleasure to meet you. No, I have not yet met Señor Starkweather.” About to say more, Paco settles back as the speeches resume, listening carefully to Professor Moore.


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Martin's Spot

Martin glances about the room during Professor Moore's speech, looking to see if he can locate a certain table occupied by a certain lady in a glittering red gown. As he scans the crowd, he momentarily spots an odd stare from across the room, but then loses sight of it.


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First Post
Before the Mayor began his speech, James Poole managed to find a few moments with Dr. Moore.

taitzu52 said:
"Professor Moore." he says, approaching the man, "James Poole. I remember you from your lecture series at Northwestern some years ago. I just wanted to say what an honor it is to have this opportunity, sir." Jim says, shaking the man's hand vigorously, as if he had just met Babe Ruth or the like. "I was always quite fond of your papers questioning Alfred Wegener's continental drift theories, being quite opposite the data that Arthur Holmes collected. I mean, aside from problems such as specimen selection and lead isotopes, I still feel that radioactive dating was the only reliable geologic timescale. And I quite agree with you on your points." Again, the ever inquisitive geologist in James Poole comes out, even in these somewhat inappropriate social settings.
"Why thank you, Mr. Poole. Northwestern, eh? I remember that visit to the Chicago area quite well, especially the snowstorm which forced me to stay an extra week!" Dr. Moore chuckled at that thought and followed by saying "But I won't hold it against you, I did get a nice steak or two out of the deal!"

"You should also know that after our initial disagreements, Alfred Wegener and I actually became quite good friends. We both shared a keen interest in weather patterns and we were collaborating on a paper before his death during his Greenland expedition. Pity, I would've enjoyed having him along on this voyage."

"But I assume, Mr. Poole, that your very presence here indicates that you will be taking up the gauntlet and joining me in my experiments in Antarctica! We'll settle that dispute with Wegener once and for all! Together!"
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First Post
Dr. Moore's Closing

Dr. Moore continues with a discussion of the use of airplanes in the Antarctic.

"I'd now like to mention a few facts regarding the use of airplanes on our expedition. The use of airplanes in the Antarctic is still very much experimental, and it's success upredictable.

Sir Douglas Mawson, perhaps the greatest living authority on the Antarctic, proposed to use an airplane in the field as early as 1911. He instead discovered in Antarctica the windiest country in the world, and likely kept his craft permanently under cover. He measured the average wind velocity for the year at 50 miles per hour; for hours on end blizzards persisted at velocities greatly in excess of the maximum on the Beaufort Scale, reaching a velocity of 116 miles per hour on July 5, 1913, and maintaining an average velocity of 107 miles per hour for eight hours, jarring even the tightly-bolted timbers of their huts. Gusts approaching 200 miles per hour were reported. Such conditions must beggar the mightiest flying efforts of man.

Of course, we should have no problem at our proposed base which is in a relative place of calm on the continent. The principle risks, as we see them, will arise from storms or from the impossible conditions of visibility met unexpectedly in flight, in landings away from the base, upon unknown ice terrain, and from the difficulty in properly securing the ship against the wind in connection with such landings. A wind velocity in excess of 60 miles per hour is sufficient to give a staionary airplane a true flying speed and at 100 miles per hour, a terrific lift; unless securely anchored against that wind speed, a plane would be instantly hurled aloft and destroyed. This challenge, I believe, can be readily overcome and our pilot, Douglas Halperin, is currently designing a new system of anchor lines and ice anchors.

At this point, Dr. Moore's face and voice become deadly serious.

What uncertainty of the future I share centers principally about the matter of attempting landings away from the main base. Our program demands several such landings. Each of these landings must be attended with great risk, for conditions of visibility in the Antarctic are notoriously bad, ice surfaces are extremely difficult to judge from the air and there will be the constant threat of unseen crevasses. Even less attractive is the possibility of a forced landing.

After a brief pause for emphasis, Dr. Moore smiles and continues.

"But there are reasons for optimism in our expedition. The Byrd Expedition proved that the use of airplanes is feasible in Antarctica and, beyond even the advantages that they enjoyed, we possess three of the most efficient instruments given to the explorer: 1. an improved radio, 2. airplanes with improved capabilities for distance, altitude, and speed, bringing an independence of surface obstructions that vex the foot traveller, and 3. a number of motorized toboggans that were proposed and paid for by our own engineer, Vittorio Liuzzi, and which promise to greatly extend our capabilities on land, perhaps reducing our dependance on dogs and airplanes.

We have reason to hope that we might accomplish much.

These then, ladies and gentleman, are some of the challenges that we have accepted. I hope that I have given you enough information to now better understand the nature of our task, and to perhaps convince you to help us on this historic endeavor.

Thank you."


First Post
A Slightly Stunned Starkweather

And we now continue Camille's conversation with James Starkweather prior to the start of the evening's speeches...
Taokan said:
"I was brought along as a guest by one of the others. However, I can't stay and will be leaving for my rooms fairly soon. Do you think I could speak with you after the fundraiser? I am very interested in the expedition and I might not have time to speak with you about it here."

Allowing the hand holding her letter to drop back to her right side, she smiled at Monsieur Starkweather. "I'll give this to you later then, won't I?" Inclining her head slightly in leavetaking, she drifted into the crowds toward the bustling throng.
James Starkweather, looking puzzled, watched the woman turn to depart, then called out to her.
"Miss? One moment please."


First Post
Ah, guilt: the miracle worker

Camille cursed inwardly. As polite as he seemed in public, this man seemed intent on not allowing her to make her disappearance. Then again, she supposed it would be pretty odd if a strange woman popped up, garbled strrange things at her, then left. Not that Camille thought that was how Starkweather's mind worked, mind you.

Turning around, Camille bobbed an half-wobbly cursty in Starkweather's general direction. "I'm terribly sorry, but I don't have the time to talk right now. I must hurry and finish some things up before the speeches are over, and as I said, I can meet you later, after the fundraiser. Good Evening." Finally escaping from the the honored M. Starkweather, the supposed Mrs. Lockhart started the search for the other members of the expedition.

Actually, she hadn't been entirely lying to Monsieur Stakweather; Camille did want to find the other members of the expedition. It was just mostly everything else that was false. Camille winced. Even when she rationalized lying to that chauvinistic bully, she felt lower than a parasite. The pilot supposed that was one of his insidious ways of gaining loyaly: guilt. Well, as irritating as he was, it did work.

The Shaman

First Post
Paco listens intently to Professor Moore, a bit awed. Airplanes and motorized toboggans are as far removed from his experience as the surface of the moon. There is a moment’s hesitation in Paco’s heart – indeed, the thought of an airplane falling into a crevasse, of being trapped inside...

A plane cannot land on a mountain summit, he thinks, nor a toboggan cross a crevasse. There will be rock and ice to traverse, he decides at last, airplanes and motor-sleds notwithstanding.

He leans over to Vittorio. “I have much to learn before we leave, señor,” Paco says quietly to the engineer. “I hope you will help me.”


First Post
Father Rucker takes one last look at the small boy, as the small town begins to fade into the horizon. After taking his seat he can’t help but realize what a beautiful day it is. As the carriage passes one small house, he admires the tranquility of the countryside while the faint smell of freshly baked bread tantalizes his nostrils. Then as they make their way around another bend they descend into a valley that is covered with the greenest corn, all slightly waving gently in the afternoon breeze, for as long as the eye can see. The harvest would soon be approaching and the eating is always grand during this time of year. Father Rucker had a habit of spending Sunday Dinner with a different family every weekend; “Oh how I will miss those Sunday engagements”, he thought. “What fool would trade all of this, for that God forsaken island of ice” just the thought was enough for Father Rucker to hug himself in an attempt to brace himself from the cold.

“Excuse me Father Rucker” Mrs. James politely interrupted; “Are you okay”?

Father Rucker chuckles, “Oh yes my child, I am doing just fine. Just taking in the warmth and tranquility of this lovely summer day”.

”Hmmm, I thought you may have been concerned about the young lad and his family” Mrs. James responds as she attempts to get comfortable in the worn seat of the carriage.

“Not at all”, Father Rucker responds. “What’s done is done, they will be quite fine my child”.

“Oh”, Mrs. James responds with a puzzled look: “Well what about the candles they are suppose to burn at sunset each day”?

Father Rucker smiles and looks the young troubled woman in the eye as he states, “The candles are only to increase their faith, as I stated earlier what’s done is done. The human mind is a strange contraption, until now their faith has been in me. So with my departure it would only be natural for them to be concerned. Concern is the breeding ground of fear, fear can attract and predisposition the human spirit for further attacks. The candles will give them something to focus on and believe in, as they settle into their daily routines.”

As Father Rucker attempts to get into a more comfortable position, he is troubled by some of his own words. He begins to quickly glance about as the words he just spoke continue to pepper his mind, but from a strange screeching voice he hears “Remember Father, Concern is the breeding ground of Fear; Remember Father, Concern is the breeding ground of Fear; Remember Father, Concern is the breeding ground of Fear”

Mrs. James startles Dr. Rucker as she reaches over and touches him; “Father what is it???”

Father Rucker momentarily jumps in his seat and finds both Mrs. James and Father Brown intently watching him. Father Rucker commonly reaches into his coat and begins caressing the cross about his neck and replies; “It is nothing, I am fine, it is nothing.” Father Rucker quickly regains his composure and eventually allows the rattling of the wheels and tackle to lull him off to sleep.
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First Post
Brief Intermission

As he completed his speech, Dr. Moore was approached by a hotel staff member. The two briefly talked, he nodded, then turned and announced over the PA system, "Our gracious hosts have alerted me that our meal is now ready to be served and we will take a short intermission in our program. Mr. Starkweather will begin his presentation after we've enjoyed a little music and a little food."

Dr. Moore then walked off the platform to his table while the band struck up a lively tune. People stood and began moving about the room. Conversations arose.

As a number of individuals left the room through the rear doors, on the opposite side of the room near the stage, a hidden panel in the wall opened and an army of waitresses poured forth with carts loaded with fresh pitchers of ice water, baskets of bread, and bowls of salad. Enticing aromas came with them.


Job (the tortured one).
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