The Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep d20


log in or register to remove this ad

Nebulous

Legend
Adventure #25: Escape from the Mountain

Part 2: No More Room in Hell...

zom.jpg


Hundreds of corpses slowly lurch to their feet. Throats are slashed. Entrails pulled out. Arms blasted off and legs missing. The dead are randomly interspersed among the living, and the dead do not discriminate between who they attack. They fall upon anyone close enough to reach, tearing out chunks of flesh devouring them, and the investigators have reached ground level right in the middle of this chaos. To escape the valley, they must push ahead, reach the far side, climb up the hill and plunge into the jungle.

They don't have time to wait. Even as they huddle at the base of the mountain, the dead have noticed them and begun to advance, hands stretched out, their jaws gnashing in hunger. Using the bewildered Gas Mule as a shield, Lester keeps close to it, and the group dashes forward, using their superior speed and maneuverability to weave among the zombies. Still, there are far too many to fully avoid them all, and claws rake them as they run by. Chad is bitten savagely on the shoulder, tearing out chunks of muscle, and Chang attempts to throw a drum of gasoline as an incendiary diversion. He throws well enough, but both Lester and Chad shoot...and miss! Cursing, Chang doesn't have time to fire himself, the zombies will surround him, and so he keeps running.

And if that weren't bad enough, they hear the bird-like screeching behind them as something bone-white and slick emerges onto the ledge, croaking like a malignant vulture. Chad risks a glance back at it and sees the thing spread its diseased wings...

horse.jpg


...but it is what Chad sees atop the mountain that chills the blood in the veins.

wind.jpg


An avalanche of black fog is rolling down the mountainside! Consuming the entire landscape, devouring everything like a terrible wave of malignancy, and it will soon sweep the valley floor and engulf them all. Chad screams at everyone to run faster, so they do, pushing dead people out of the way in their haste. The flying creature leaps off from the ledge and swoops down, plucking someone right off the ground, and soars up into the night sky, its shrieks receding. They finally break through the ranks of zombies and have a clear run uphill to the crest of the valley, and a straight shot to the jungle beyond where they can hide, but they just aren't fast enough to escape the wave of black fog.

It spills around them, cold, chilling, clammy, invading their noses and lungs. Everyone is overcome by horrible coughing, but only Chad Slambody is able to resist the affliction. Chang, Lester, Okumo and the Mook are stopped by pain and debilitating cramps, moving at only half speed. They all instantly lose several points of Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Charisma or Strength, and Chad is forced to slow down and find them in the fog, rather than running ahead on his own.

The group finally tears into the jungle, wheezing and coughing, and the black fog is left behind. They find a place to camp as close as they dare, and fall into an exhausted and nightmare-plagued sleep. But the morning does not relieve their ailments. Chang and Lester lose many more points of ability scores, the Mook and Okumo are coughing up blood, and the group is easily five days from civilization. And without the guidance of Okumo or the Mook, they lack the survival skills to navigate the jungle at all. Even worse, as Lester and Okumo suspect, they have been inflicted with a magical disease they no one can heal.

They will all surely die unless they can reach Old Bundari in time.

It takes them a week to find Nairobi at their reduced snail's pace, and along the way, the Mook finally succumbs in a froth of blood. Which is good news for Chad Slambody! His necrophilia affliction has been haunting him for days now, and he finally spies an opportunity to take full advantage of it. He volunteers to haul the dead man back to his home in the Boyova village, which spawned one of the best/worst quotes from the adventure:

Leo: "But I don't want to leave him behind."
Dave: "No, you just don't want to LEAVE his behind..."


With only a few relevant ability score points keeping them alive, Old Bundari begins a magical ritual to bring Chang, Lester and Okumo back to full health. It is a tricky, highly time-intensive procedure that will take several months to fully complete. In the meantime, still hale and whole, Chad meets some allies in Nairobi and their predetermined spot at the Hampton House Inn (the same one partially burned down by the fire vampires). As planned, Dr. Anthony Cowles, Dr. David Dodge, and his old companion Gi-Gi from Cairo have come to Nairobi while on their way to Australia.

ABOUT COWLES and DODGE:

cowles.jpg

dodge2.jpg

gigi.jpg


Dr. Ali Kafour of the Cairo Museum (and one of the party's most trusted allies) has had extensive conversations with these two distinguished Australian scholars. They have been giving a series of lectures around the world concerning a Cult of the Sand Bat in central Australia, and after spending much time with Dr. Kafour, they have come to the mutual agreement that something dark and disastrous is brewing in the Outback. Dr. Kafour believes that a new cult of the Dark One has been resurrected, and that they are up to no good. This is the sole reason why he put the investigators in touch with Dr. Dodge and Dr. Cowles. Like the investigators, Ali Kafour is well aware of the significance of the map found in the Bent Pyramid, and the locations in Kenya, Australia and China that form a tridiagonal mystery. The professors are more interested in the possibility of a buried city from an archaeological standpoint.

However, whatever the investigators decide to do once Chang and Lester have recovered, Old Bundari has some unsettling news first.

One full month has passed since the destruction of the Spawn. In the wake of that incident, the worst plague of malaria, Yellow Fever, and a new ailment--Black Fever (which is what Lester and Chang have) has swept over Kenya. Floods, fires and other calamities have raged out of control in the rural areas, and they know that this is the wrath of Nyarlathotep unleashed. His son is dead, but M'Weru is still alive somewhere.

They are all gathered around a campfire in Boyova with Old Bundari. He has just woken from his reverie, bathed in sweat, his old eyes dark with worry. Okumo is there to translate his Swahili to English:

okumo.jpg

oldbundari.jpg


"I have seen a vision. A dream of the future. A time when a great cloud descends upon the whole world. A cloud of evil, so vile and hateful that none can escape it. I have seen this, and know it to be possible. Listen...and heed this warning:

...If there is no more room in Hell, the Dead Shall Walk the Earth!"

[GM Note: This quote is from George Romero – Dawn of the Dead]

That is Old Bundari's dire prophecy, and the investigators finally understand the implication of their success...or failure. If Nyarlathotep succeeds in his plan, the world will be subjugated to an unparalleled holocaust of doom, and the cancer will spread across the globe and devour the living until none are left at all...

globe.jpg



And there we stopped.

[GM Note: This was a significant departure from the campaign book, which sort of leaves it open as to what might happen, but with the suggestion that things continue on just like they are today, with an escalation in war, immorality, and selfishness in human society, a sure sign that Nyarlathotep walks among us. I opted for a more cinematic alternative].
 
Last edited:

Nebulous

Legend
I should note that the Kenya Chapter makes a pretty good stopping point for this campaign, if you wanted to run a shorter version of it. Australia can actually be skipped, but there was just SO much cool stuff i wanted the players to see Outback, i pulled Cowles and Dodge back into the storyline, and starting planning for it before they even went to the Mountain of the Black Wind. Cowles and Dodge and GiGi were also backup NPCs in case of a wipeout.

All that zombie stuff, the Black Fever fog, the horse thing, and the tornado raining purple lightning were not part of the campaign, i added it in.
 
Last edited:

Nebulous

Legend
Adventure #26: Onward to Australia!


Part 1: Goodbyes & Hello…


July 11, 1925.

Two months have passed since the destruction of the Spawn, and the investigators are finally ready to begin the next stage of their journey. Old Bundari has successfully treated Lester's and Chang's sickness, the Black Fever that rolled down the mountainside, and the two men feel fit enough to travel. Old Bundari and Okumo offer the group their blessings, and see them off to the Uguanda Railway. Once there, several other individuals are waiting for them to depart:

colonel.jpg


joe.jpg



Colonel Endicott, the raucous Englishman whose hunting lodge was burned down by fire vampires; his assistant Silent Joe, who put the investigators in touch with Old Bundari the shaman; and the only crying person in the bunch, tearful Mrs. Natalie Smyth-Forbes.

natalie.jpg


"Oh, Lester Cobblebottom, you're just not the man i knew! You...you...have such sudden bouts of uncommon bravado! I think we must end this torrid relationship!" (GM Note: which may or may not have ever been consummated; probably not – only Jeff knows)

lester2.jpg


And thus, Lester's mental condition [the one that exhibits uncommon bravado at unexpected times] has wrecked the only love life he's ever known. Oh well. Silent Joe nods curtly, but Colonel Endicott is especially thankful for their assistance, and for saving his life, even though his Hunting Lodge did burn to the ground. In gratitude, he offers them something very dear to him: "Mrs. Caruthers!” he trumpets. “Named after a good woman, blokes, but she's an even better gun!" (+1 masterwork). Chad Slambody accepts the gift [and immediately renames it "MR. Caruthers.”]

Along with Gi-Gi, the crippled wheelchair psychic, and the little Egyptian servant boy Ma'Moud who has dutifully followed them since Cairo, Chad, Chang and Lester hop onto the train and head to Mombasa, where they have booked passage to Port Hedland, Australia, following a trail of meager clues that will hopefully lead them to the next stage of Nyarlathotep's grand plan for world extinction.

So they can blow it up.

nuke.jpg


Dr. Ali Kafour from the Cairo Museum wires them $5000 to assist with fees, and the investigators have personally met the two men who will aid them in the next stage: Dr. David Dodge from Sydney, and Professor Anthony Cowles. Ali Kafour vouches for both of them, so the PCs do not suspect them as being cultist plants.

Both men have long left for their homeland, and Cowles and Dodge possess evidence that a great city lies buried beneath the sand in Western Australia, hidden deep in the outback, a city originally discovered five years ago by a man named ARTHUR MacWHIRR.

MacWhirr is now dead (from influenza, nothing supernatural oddly enough), and the only other person who knows the exact coordinates of the city is his friend and confidante, Dr. Hans Hazzenbaum (Bridgett's new character, replacing a different NPC from the campaign book), a German anthropologist living in Port Hedland and studying ancient Aboriginal society. Dodge and Cowles have returned to Sydney to organize funding for the expedition, and are waiting to hear back from the investigators once they arrive in Port Hedland.

So, two weeks since leaving Mombasa, after a long, chugging steamship journey across a vast ocean, the party finally limps into port on the flattest continent on Earth.

aus.jpg


out2.jpg


In their downtime, both the two month interval since Lester and Chang's sickness and the two week boat journey, the group has had ample time to study their collected clues, and have found several links and discoveries:

A) Ledgers from warehouses in London, Mombasa and Nairobi link items that have been sent to Shanghai, New York, Australia and Africa. Some of the items are clearly labeled as suspicious cult-related items. One such warehouse is actually in Port Hedland:

Randolph Shipping Co.

B) A recent telegraph from Port Hedland to Tandoor Singh in Nairobi (the Tea Seller who had been summoning the fire vampires, and ultimately burned up in a jail cell) places a man named "Huston" in Port Hedland. Quite possibly the same "Huston" of the Carlyle Expedition.

C) Dr. Anthony Cowles, the Australian archaeologist, is a master of Aboriginal and Koori history, and he is aware of an ancient religious sect that has recently arisen: The Cult of the SAND BAT. (This was hinted at in the Mountain of the Black Wind)

sandbaT.jpg


After talking extensively with Ali Kafour in Cairo, Dodge and Cowles are convinced that a new cult of Nyarlathotep has risen in the desert, and they have probably begun human sacrifices in earnest. This doesn’t so much scare the archaeologists as fascinate them.

D) The map photographed in the Bent Pyramid (by Morty, Jeff's dead and devoured character) depicts a triangle of important locales in Kenya, Australia and China. The Mountain of the Black Wind was one such important site they believe, and the investigators have disrupted whatever atrocities planned there and killed the Son of the Dark One. The next important site is in Western Australia, very likely the same location that Arthur MacWhirr found, the same location where Dr. Hans Hazzenbaum knows the coordinates, and the very same place that Cowles and Dodge would like to mount an official expedition to root out the secrets of a lost city beneath the sands.

ruinedcity.jpg


E) Poring over their collected Mythos tomes, Lester and Chang finding themselves reading De Vermiis Mysteriis and Africa's Black Sects (Sex! Heh, heh, that never gets old), respectively. Lester is shocked and horrified by the book, but he learns many secrets about the Great Old Ones and the Outer Gods, and he learns two blasphemous spells. Chang learns how to place a black opal in the mouth of the recently dead, and bind a black spirit to animate the corpse. Hideous of course, but he keeps the ritual imprinted, just in case. [GM Note: I don’t know if these spells ever get used; I don’t think so. Magic in this campaign was very low-key aside from the dedicated magician Lucifer Lardlover]

This was all some necessary bookkeeping to keep the players up to speed about what was happening, and to refresh their memories regarding the clues in Australia.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Part 2: Port Hedland

port2.jpg



Port Hedland in 1925 is a dusty, dirty place, bustling with herders and surveyors, gold-hunters and miners and a fair share of prostitutes and houses of ill-repute thrown into the mix. None of the group has ever been to this continent, but at least they speak the same language. Their first order of business is to find Dr. Hans Hazzenbaum (Bridgett’s new character). Hans is expecting these American visitors after Dodge and Cowles alerted him to their eventual arrival. Hans is very excited about the prospects of an expedition, for it will be an incredible opportunity to study Aboriginal history that he never knew existed. A city in the desert! Fascinating!

So, Hans answers the door to find a surly Chinaman with a priest collar, a grimy Egyptian boy, an old woman in a wheelchair, a tall, impossibly handsome, muscular chap, and a middle-aged gentleman with a slight paunch, dabbing the sweat from his face with a cloth. An eclectic group no doubt, and not quite what he expected.

Hans invites them to his study for tea and crumpets, and they discuss in depth the nature of MacWhirr's discovery 5 years ago. It turns out that there was much more evidence than just the photographic plates that Cowles and Dodge used in their lecture: MacWhirr had taken reams of notes and drawings, more pictures, etc. but something curiously happened not long after his death: another scholar approached Hans (who was in charge of MacWhirr's estate after his untimely death) and wanted to borrow them, perhaps to further his own research.

"FOOL that I was," Hans concedes, "I let the man take the materials, all except for a journal and a few photographic plates. I believe his name was...it was...was it Haw-ston?"

This to the investigators sounds suspiciously like “Huston” (and if they had thought to show Hans a photograph of the CARLYLE EXPEDITION in their possession, he would have heatedly confirmed: Yes! That's the thieving bastard!)

There was also a diary of MacWhirr that the investigators read, which details attacks by strange entities in the desert that killed their camels and some of his traveling companions, and strange large birds flapping lazily in the sky...

fly.jpg


It sounds like several years ago Huston stole material from Hans and journeyed out into the desert to find this city. The investigators have no idea why, but it must be of some import to the grand scheme. And if anything, Nyarlathotep is one hell of a grand schemer.

Hans invites them to stay in his modest home, although the accommodations are pushed to their limit. He had not expected quite so many guests. Dr. David Dodge and Professor Cowles (over a 1000 miles away in Sydney) are alerted to the other members of the expedition arriving from Kenya, and David Dodge says that he will be on his way and should arrive within 2 weeks. The investigators attempt to do some psychological analysis with the help of Hans, to see if any of the maladies accrued during their journeys can be alleviated, but it doesn't do much good.

[GM Note: And it should be known that Hans Hazzenbaum has NO CLUE about the Mythos, and a nice, healthy Sanity hovering around 80%. The others don't tell him jack-squat.]

Their next order of business is to check out the sights and secrets of Port Hedland, which somewhat resembles the Old West in America. Further south in Cuncudgerie, where they will go next once Dodge arrives, it is even more lawless. Apparently, gold strikes have caused an explosion of visitors to push into Western Australia, prompting many railways to be blasted to accommodate the growing, greedy population. So the entire mentality of the area is very much like the California Gold Rush of the 1880's. This is a place for pioneers, vagabonds, and fringers.

And their attention is eventually, undoubtedly, irrevocably!, drawn to a certain WAREHOUSE on the docks, Randolph Shipping Co. According to the ledgers that they have acquired from other countries, cultist items passed through this very place. And the investigators have a time-proven vendetta against cultist warehouses--

Death by fire!

But this time they take a wiser, cautionary approach. Chad Slambody volunteers to get a job as a dock worker at the warehouse, to infiltrate it slowly over the next two weeks and see exactly what goes on there. So, he applies and meets TODDY RANDOLPH, owner of Randolph Shipping Co.

toddy.jpg


[GM Note: Man, I love this picture of Toddy, it says everything. Thank you Google!]

He is a fat, balding, surly man who stinks of whiskey and sweat, as foul-mouthed and disgusting a man that Chad has ever met, and instantly unlikable. But Chad is a strapping fellow, and would make an excellent worker, so he's hired for a shilling a day.

Yay.
 

Nebulous

Legend
The Complete Masks of Nyarlathoptep d20

Adventure #26: Onward to Australia!

Part 3: The Thing in the Crate


Chad performs up to his usual standards, flexing when appropriate, discarding his shirt most of the time to unveil bronzed skin. He meets other dockworkers who are mostly Australian riffraff, but there are also native Abos thrown into the mix. One such individual is named Johnny Bigbush [GM Note: and for whatever reason, there were many genital jokes this session], a somewhat strange Aboriginal who is always talking about "Bundai! Who will rise sleeping in the center of the earth and devour the world and the Rainbow Snake!"

[GM Note: I read another GM’s recap where he incorporated this hint in a fantastic way; I didn’t actually follow up on it, too much else going on down there].


The others shrug it off to Johnny Bigbush smoking too much peyote, but Chad is suspicious. Regardless, three days later, Toddy Randolph says that Johnny Bigbush has been fired. Word around the warehouse is that he ran off into the desert to find his Koori tribe by the river.

Chad hears lots of local gossip, including rumors about a Bat Cult in the deep desert, and other disappearances, and the always popular stories about gold veins near Cuncudgerie.

So, Chad works and works and works, watching the patterns of movement and guards. Surprisingly, the guards at the warehouse are relatively few. Toddy Randolph sleeps there every night, and he has a few fellows that stick around too, but they're often drinking at the pub down the street.

Times passes, and the day before Dr. David Dodge is due to arrive in Port Hedland, the investigators act. They have planned it out, and already purchased 30 gallons of gasoline and a small skiff. The warehouse is hard to infiltrate from the outside, so they paddle up from the docks and sneak in the back. Chang, Chad and Lester are privy to this little visit, while Hans is left in the dark. In fact, they convince Hans to go to the pub and start buying rounds for the patrons, hopefully to keep Toddy Randolph distracted and drunk enough while they search the warehouse at their leisure. Gi-Gi and Ma'Moud are relegated to useless NPC status.

The warehouse is dark, silent. The slap of waves on pylons is all they hear as they clamber up the ladder. Flashlights in hand, they slowly weave through the stacked crates, poking around here and there, and then...

symbol1.jpg


...Chang spots an odd red symbol scrawled on a crate. For some reason, it sends shivers coursing through him. They take note, but scurry to the interior door that Chad knows is locked. Fortunately, Chang has ample lockpicking skills, and is able to jimmy it open. Toddy's office is also locked, but the lock can't resist Chang's determination, and they take as much time as they need. [Fortunately, it wasn't trapped]. There is a cot inside, a rolltop table, and not much else. The marked crate is hauled back here and they crack it open while Chang searches the bed and the table. He finds a loaded .38 pistol (which is promptly unloaded) and Toddy's warehouse ledger which he briefly thumbs through.

There! That same odd symbol is scrawled in the ledger too, the same one from the crate. In fact, Chang sees it repeated several times, beside shipments to Shanghai and London and Kenya, even one south to Cuncudgerie, Australia. Using a crowbar, Chad cracks open the crate, and the three men anxiously lean over, pulling out the straw.

idol.jpg


A green idol rests at the bottom of the crate. Writhing stone tentacles adorn the mouth of the hideous creature, and vestigial stone wings sprout from its back. Lester has seen this icon before, in the Vermiis Mysteriis just recently, and whispers to the others that it is known as K-TULU, a demon god that slumbers beneath the sea until the Stars Are Right, when it shall awaken. Shivering, they cover the idol rather than look at it.

Toddy's ledger says that everything has been shipped out, except for two items: one must be the idol, so they start looking for the other. A half hour has passed since they first arrived, and there is no indication that anyone knows they are here. Shuffling through the dark and the dusk, then peer behind every crate and box, until they finally spot a similarly marked crate stacked high up. Chad climbs a ladder to haul it down, but the box is heavy and unwieldy and slides from his grip!

It strikes the floor, one corner splintering off with a loud crash, but another sound instantly issues forth from the crate!

THRUUM! HUUUUM!! THRUMMM! HUMM!

A rhythmic mechanical pulse, punctuated with occasional high pitched tinkling like wind chimes. It is unlike anything they have ever heard. Through the smashed wood, they see the glint of GOLD.

Curiosity wins over fear, and they are quite fearful of what the box might contain. They pry the rest of the boards loose, remove the straw, and shine their lamps within:

mind.jpg


It is a device that defies categorization. Constructed of gold and possibly platinum, it has wheels and mirrors and glass tubes, all of it slightly illuminated by an indiscernible source of soft light. One part looks somewhat like a cushioned eyetube that one might find on a microscope or binoculars. Unnerved now, they decide to exit the warehouse with the artifacts while their luck is still holding. The gasoline is dispatched for maximum effectiveness, a 10 gallon drum set up for detonation, and they clamber down into their skiff and load the artifacts, and then light the gasoline. Paddling madly away, they watch the flames lick and spread through the dock, and then to the interior, and then several minutes later:

KA-BOOM!

The drum ignites, and Randolph Shipping Copany begins a quick journey to decommission. [And joins a growing trail of ruined property across four continents!]

The next morning, word travels that a huge accident occurred at the warehouse overnight. Speculation is rampant about whether it was arson or not, and some blame is even thrown toward Johnny Bigbush, but nothing sticks. The trio was able to escape free and clear, without so much as a bullet fired (which typically prevents them from investigating warehouses at length)

The artifacts are smuggled into Hans Hazzenbaum's basement (without his knowledge) and the investigators take a closer look. The Golden Machine is the more interesting of the two, so Chang fiddles with the switches and dials and protruding knobs until he activates it!

TRUMMMMM.....HUMMMMM.....THRUUUMMMMMM

And there is the eyepiece. Rubber pads the rim, and on a whim, Lester Cobblebottom presses his face to it. He sees nothing but blackness. No! Wait. Two tiny, tiny pinpricks of light he tells the others, like small stars. Lester continues gazing for a full minute, unmoving. They ask him what he sees. He doesn't respond. They nudge him. He doesn't move. Panic begins to build. "Lester?" They push him, and Lester falls away from the strange device, his eyes riveted open, his body locked into position like a mannequin!

THRUUM! HUUUMMM! THRUMM!

They slap Lester around but there is no response. Chad Slambody unselfishly (and somewhat predictably) volunteers to haul Lester into a cold shower and scrub him down while naked. Hans Hazzenbaum, also witness to this event, is freaking out about right now. These odd people have dragged a bizarre device into his home, and now there are two naked men in his shower, one of whom is comatose!

Someone begins knocking at the front door upstairs, probably Dr. David Dodge, come to meet the members of the expedition. Cursing, Hans rushes upstairs to greet him, while Chad lathers Lester up good.

Lester finally falls limp (unlike Chad!), but he does not respond to cold water or stimulation. Hans and Dodge return downstairs, and Hans finally insists that Lester needs medical attention, he has obviously had a seizure or some sort of aneurysm, but the medical facilities in Port Hedland are lacking.

Hans bundles Lester up, they stick him in a truck, and Hans roars off to the local infirmary. Upon arriving in the parking lot though, Lester wakes up and begins screaming! Thrashing, convulsing, his eyes bugging from their sockets, he is a man who has lost his mind. He doesn't seem to recognize Hans, or to even know himself. Hans calls for help and someone eventually comes out to help Lester inside where he is given a morphine sedative.

Lester stays overnight at the infirmary, but is released the next day to Hans Hazzenbaum. He is physically well, but unresponsive to questions. He seems to be suffering from 100% amnesia.

Chad and Chang are very worried about this turn of events, and given the unknown nature of the Mythos artifact that Lester toyed with [GM Note: And it's unanimously decided that JEFF WON CTHULHU!], they decide the wiser course of action is restrain Lester physically until they feel they can trust him. Lester fights this restraint tooth and nail, but they finally tie him to the bed. He manages to escape later on, and they find Lester huddled in the corner, surrounded by open books. He is flipping through pages at an astonishing rate, but when he realizes that he is being watched, he shams unconsciousness.

[GM Note- I took Jeff aside to tell him what was happening, as it can be rather complex and will have repercussion later on. Congrats, you won CoC. Good job Jeff!]

Dr. David Dodge is also perplexed by this turn of events, but they convince him to just wait a few days, to see if Lester's condition changes. And five days later, Lester begins speaking again, whispering of the strangest dream he had, of basalt towers rising thousands of feet into an infinite sky. He has been far away in his dream, but he was not alone. But the details are slippery, and fade away before he can grasp them. Perhaps they'll return.

Next stop, Cuncudgerie, where David Dodge, the investigators, and a team of Abos will drive a caravan of trucks into the deep desert, to find what secrets lurk in the shifting sands.
 
Last edited:

Nebulous

Legend
ADVENTURE #27: An Unexpected Detour


PART 1: The Deadfella Man

The group has reached Australia and already managed to dig up trouble: the warehouse of Toddy Randolph smolders on the docks, and Lester Cobblebottom reels from his experience with a golden machine. Hans Hazzenbaum, German anthropologist and long-time resident of Port Hedland, has been recruited as a new member for the expedition, along with the slightly mad Chad Slambody (The Perfect Specimen of Necrophiliac Man), the duo-personality Lester Cobblebottom, Chan Chang, who has increasingly drowned himself in his cups to the point of ineptitude, Ma'Moud, the brave little Egyptian boy from Cairo, and Dr. David Dodge, archaeologist from Sydney.

So, August 9, 1925...

...finds the group (sans Ma'Moud, who has stayed at Hans’s house with Gi-Gi and the maid) clattering down the wooden railway between Port Hedland and Cuncudgerie, their final destination before they set out into the Great Sandy Desert. Hans possesses the coordinates to the Lost City, taken from the man who originally found it five years ago, one deceased Arthur MacWhirr. It is winter now, the sky clear and crisp but warm in the day and bone-chilling at night. The 14-hour train ride has lulled them into slumber, but Lester sleepily sees three rather large birds wheeling the distance.

Rather...large. Yes. He tries to note their location, but the landmarks are all nearly identical: scrub grass and rocks and more scrub grass. Hours later, the group pulls into the train station and they disembark into Cuncudgerie.

cun.jpg


And just as David Dodge warned them, it is a filthy rat nest of rowdy miners, surveyors, thieves and whores. Western Australia has recently hit somewhat of a Gold Rush, not unlike California in the 1800's, and an explosion of gold fever has prompted towns to literally develop overnight. Mangy dogs yelp in the streets; trucks rattle and belch fumes; the stink of bodies and liquor wafts from pubs lining the dusty dirt roads. The group's first order of business is to find a place to sleep for the night (The Oily Rag Motel! Named for its inevitable demise) and an outfitter to gear up, so Lester, Hans and Chad head that way while Dodge tries to recruit some Aboriginal labor workers and vehicles to take into the desert.

Wycroft Outfitters is the first one they stumble across, and entering, they soon find the proprietor, one Mortimer Wycroft, a tall Caucasian man with pale skin, sunken cheeks and long greasy gray hair.

mort.jpg


Wycroft is a...odd fellow…the group soon discovers. His questions about their journey are slyly answered by Hans as the group wanders the store, picking out rope and miner's helmets, tins of food and beans and medicine. Three Abo employees watch them, one of whom actually helps Chad Slambody pump extra gasoline into drums behind the building.

It is while pumping the gas that Chad notices a peculiar tattoo on the man's bicep, but he can't quite remember where he saw it...

Finished re-supplying (including a much-appreciated crate of dynamite) the group bids adieu to Wycroft and goes to find David Dodge. Dodge, in the meantime, has secured three Dahmler trucks and six Aboriginal workers who will accompany them into the desert. They're bringing enough food and water for about a month, and according to the rough map Dodge possesses of the nearby desert, their journey will take them roughly 4 days. They can leave in the morning, so in the meantime they relax at a nearby pub with the locals, where Hans and the others try to catch up on some of the local gossip.

After all, Lester and Chang have reason to suspect that another branch of Nyarlathotep, The Cult of the Sand Bat, is active in this region of the world, and it would behoove the group to know as much as possible about them. (Such knowledge was bestowed upon them by Dr. Anthony Cowles, David Dodge, and Ali Kafour)

So, four hours and several Gather Info checks later, the group has acquired the following tidbits of information:

a) Don't bother the Slatterly's near Dingo Falls! They're bad news
b) A bloke named John Carver took an expedition out east a "while back”, dug a big hole, and then fired the whole crew.
c) Mortimer Wycroft of the Outfitter is a weird fella also called "The Deadfella Man" behind his back because of his pale skin.
d) Big birds seen around the deeper desert
e) Strange, very emaciated Koori's seen in the desert too, taller than most folks
f) Strange disappearances and murders among the tribes.
g) There's a ghost been seen around Dingo Falls (actually, I forgot to drop this hint. Ignore it!)

So, with their newly acquired knowledge, the group rises the next morning, slogs some coffee, load the trucks and then set off into the horizon.

outback.jpg
 

Nebulous

Legend
LESTER’S DREAM

[GM Note: Backtrack a little: This was a private email sent to Lester’s player before they went into the desert, and related to his companions later; much of this Australian chapter is based on Lovecraft's Shadow Out of Time story].

moon.jpg


“It is very cold outside. The moon is a high, white orb, uncluttered by clouds. You are in a desert at night, the endless sands a deep shade of blue. Stretching before you are immense towers rising thousands of feet into the air, great black basalt structures that stab toward the moon. Moving quickly, almost as if your thoughts dictate your actions, you find yourself at the base of one of these towers. With a wave of your...

...PINCER???

and you reel back from shock. Your arm is crab-like, clacking, and then you wave it over the rock wall. A fissure opens. You "think" yourself inside and it seamlessly closes behind you with a snap. And then you're twirling down into darkness. Down and down and down, gliding over dusty stone ramparts and beneath daunting arches. Pinpricks of colored lights guide your way, but you seem to know your destination. This is all familiar.

An enormous vaulted chamber whose lofty stone ceiling is nearly lost in the shadows overhead.

There are colossal, round windows and high, arched doors, and pedestals or tables each as taller than a...human? Vast shelves of dark wood line the walls, holding what seem to be volumes of immense size with strange hieroglyphs on their backs. The exposed stonework holds curious carvings, always in curvilinear mathematical designs, and there are chiseled inscriptions in the same characters that the huge books bear. The dark granite masonry is of a monstrous megalithic type, with lines of convex-topped blocks fitting the concave-bottomed courses which rest upon them.

There are no chairs, but the tops of the vast pedestals are littered with books, papers, and writing materials - oddly figured jars of a purplish metal, and rods with stained tips. On some of them are great globes of luminous crystal serving as lamps, and inexplicable machines formed of vitreous tubes and metal rods.

The interior windows are glazed, and latticed with stout-looking bars. The floor is of massive octagonal flagstones, while rugs and hangings are entirely lacking.

You abruptly sweep through Cyclopean corridors of stone, and up and down gigantic inclined planes of the same monstrous masonry. There are no stairs anywhere, nor is any passageway less than thirty feet wide. Some of the structures through which you float must tower in the sky for thousands of feet.

There are multiple levels of black vaults below, and never-opened trapdoors, sealed down with metal bands and holding dim suggestions of some great peril.

You approach one of these flat doors, feeling great anxiousness, and you do not quite know why...

...as the door begins to violently shake!”

***


Lester Cobblebottom, you bolt up from your nightmare, still in the home of Hans Hazzenbaum, bathed in sweat, and if I remember, I’ll dock you a few Sanity points for the experience.

You can thank me later.
 

Nebulous

Legend
PART 2: The Tall Man

There are no real roads on the route they're taking, just a mish-mash of dry tire ruts and cattle tracks. It is bumpy and hot and sweaty, and they pop a tire by the end of the first day. While changing the tire that evening they spot a cloud of dust approaching in the distance. Cautious, they unclasp their guns, but it is just a cattle herd with five or six cowboys ranging inland from the desert.

herd.jpg


They're sociable enough, but warn the investigators of "strange sounds" they've been hearing in the desert at night. Something even stole some of their herd! They're spooked and heading back to Cuncudgerie for a spell.

The group debates whether they should stay at Dingo Falls for the protection and fresh water offered there, but Chad Slambody is INSISTENT that the group keep their distance. Don't they remember what the locals said? The Slatterly clan lives near there, and that means trouble! So the group avoids the dangling plot hook (and 3 pages of the campaign book) and camps out in the desert.

The night passes without incident, and on dawn of Day Two they set off again. Past Dingo Falls, heading East toward Gumgy Well, they spot a ramshackle house on a hill about a quarter mile away. Even from that distance, the eerie jangle of a banjo wafts down to them from a kid playing on the front porch, watching as they pass by...

(GM Note: and yes, this was a Deliverance scenario with requisite banjo music. "Squeal like a piggy, Chad!")

I had the whole thing set up:

house.jpg


jacko.jpg


vern.jpg


frank.jpg


By that afternoon the group spots an odd rock structure atop a shallow plateau. Deciding to stop and rest, both Lester and Hans are intrigued by the potential archaeological significance of this item, as it surely manmade. Dodge tells them it is called the Singing Stone, from the way wind whistles through a hole. Hans and Lester clamber to the stop to study the Stone and make notes, even a charcoal rubbing of old hieroglyphics.

stone.jpg


But bent over, Hans sees a tall shadow fall across him. And it's not Lester. The wind has grown still. Hans feels a presence immediately behind him, and turning slowly, he is shocked to see a thin, gaunt humanoid nearly eight feet tall!

tallman.jpg


[GM Note: I actually used the pic from the campaign book, but didn't have it here to scan].

It seems to be an Aboriginal man at first glance, but the unnaturally long fingers and jutting canine teeth denote a different species, or some undiscovered offshoot. The strange man has apparently appeared through a gaping hole in the rock that was not there moments before. Hans kicks Lester, whose mouth falls open at the sight. Hans also notices that further down the slope, where the trucks are parked at the bottom, the wind is kicking up dust devils, yet it is ominously still and quiet at the top of the rise.

The strange man is horribly thin and bears a wooden staff topped by a small skull. He stares intently at Hans and Lester, so Hans makes a stammering attempt to greet him in the native Koori tongue.

The Tall Man squats and begins drawing on the rocks and sand with incredible speed. Hans and Lester watch, mesmerized. The drawing that emerges is one of uncertain horrors. An amorphous thing of flailing arms and mouths, and men dying in its grasp. Hans continues to questions the Tall Man, but there is a distinct communication barrier between them. The Tall Man does not speak except through images that are drawn with alarming speed and precision. More pictures illustrate themselves upon the sand, and Hans begins to understand. The Tall Man points to the crevice from which he emerged.

He wants them to follow. Hans nudges Lester down the hill to grab Chad and the others, and Hans continues his strange conversation.

Details about a creature called "The Living Wind" emerge, something that is inimical to the Tall Man and his people. He is asking for help to kill this Living Wind. And what insane investigator can turn down a dark crack in a rock housing unnameable horrors?

[GM note: and here we reach the Unexpected Detour where the players deviate from what I THOUGHT they would do (shun the uncertain route), and entered down the path of "Oh, my God, what have they done...?" Meanwhile skipping, mind you, the entire Slatterly clan encounter (and two other encounters) which would have been much less dangerous excursions].


A short while later Dodge and Chad and Lester have returned to the top, although Dodge is ADAMANT about not following this strange man down into a strange hole to kill an unstoppable strange thing made out of wind. But the investigators are full of bravado, ammunition and dynamite, and what on earth can resist that potent combination? They agree to help the Tall Man, and take three of the Abo mooks with them. The other three stay back with Dodge, who agrees to wait just three days to see if they will return or not, then he's heading on to the coordinates of the lost city by himself. [GM Note: I actually made an error, the Mimi Tall Man was not supposed to let them go unless all 10 went, but oh well.]

So, making sure they have plenty of rope and headlamps, checking their ammunition, the group follow the Tall Man into the narrow crevice. With a wave of a spindly finger, the Singing Stone seals shut behind them and darkness envelopes the party. They abruptly feel themselves falling as if through molasses, and colored lights flash and burn in their corneas. The sensation is sickening and unsettling, but over almost as soon as it begins, and they find themselves in a circular cavern illuminated by dimly glowing crystals. But they are not alone.

extinct.jpg


There are perhaps fifteen of the Tall Man's tribe here as well, watching furtively from the shadows, along with massive mummified remains of a nearly extinct species…
 

Nebulous

Legend
Part 3: The Living Wind

At this point, Hans pointedly asks if the Living Wind has any weaknesses--a question asked about thirty seconds too late--and the Tall Man scribbles a new symbol in the sand:

A bolt of lightning.

[GM Note: this begins a plan of trying to rig a "shocking device" from their accumulated batteries. Not a bad idea exactly, but absolutely useless when you see what they're up against]

The Tall Man is insistent that they begin their quest, and he still has offered nothing in the way of explanation or gratitude or compensation for a job well done/attempted. With another slice of his uncommonly long digit, a crack opens in the wall as if a veil were peeling apart and the group is urged toward it.

caves.jpg


There is a wide corridor beyond curving left and right into utter darkness. A thick layer of dust covers the great octagonal flagstones beneath. It is completely still and silent, with the unrelenting weight of millions of tons of rock above their heads. The three Abo helpers are shaking now and regretting their decision to accompany these guys. The group heads right, and after about a mile down this tunnel, they see something at the edge of their flashlights.

And the sight of this makes Lester tremble with fear. He has seen it before in his dreams.

polpit.jpg


A rectangular hole gapes in the floor of the tunnel. On the far side, a huge unhinged lid lies on the flagstones. They approach the hole slowly and have the impression of great yawning depths below, and they hear the faint whistle of wind. Their lights cannot penetrate the depths. There's barely room to skirt around the edge, so tying a rope to Chad's waist, he carefully circumvents until he reaches the other side.

The lid is heavy, and all senses of self-preservation scream at them to "Close This Hole." Chad tries, but despite his great strength, it's not enough. They throw more ropes across, hoping to anchor them somehow, but the wind has picked up, blowing dust around in swirling eddies. A chattering sound begins somewhere far, far down in those Stygian depths, an inhuman voice that rakes their ears. A sound that grows increasingly louder with the wind!

Desperation soars through them. Chad heaves mightily, throwing all of his weight and brawn into pushing up the lid while the others pull. Precious seconds slide by as wind roars by the ears and the eerie, garbled croon of something massive and hungry surging up from the depths. The lid finally tilts upright, and then slams down with an echoing thud. But it is still not latched, so they manically begin fumbling with large, bulky latches obviously not designed for human fingers. Only one latch is secured when

SLAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!

The trapdoor shudders violently as something pushes up from beneath, and the investigators quickly bolt down the second latch. Wind pipes and whistles through the cracks, accompanied by the disturbing guttural growl and eerie whistling of what can be nothing other than the Tall Man's Living Wind. The investigators can see why they were so scared of this thing now, but they have little choice: either continue and find another way to kill it, or go back and admit defeat.

If there even IS a way back now.

[GM Note: Ah, to so willingly trust this giant, fanged Tall Man. Wait til you see what happens if you piss him off!]

They continue along the remote dusty corridor for about another mile, until they hear in the distance that same horrible slurping and whistling and groaning, the sound of wet mucous strained through alien orifices. They are actually at a junction with two smaller tunnels branching off from the main one, but they tentatively creep forward, but the sound of the Living Wind retreats, having moved in the opposite direction.

They eventually see a dim, dim light in the distance and move toward it. Before reaching it, they hear a familiar sound: the rhythmic hum of an electric generator. Sure enough, they find a single light bulb strung from the ceiling on a long stretch of wire bearing left and right into infinite darkness. A gasoline powered generator keeps the weak light alive. Human footprints exist here, all around the generator and continuing down the new tunnel.

They're about to move on when they hear the splitting of stone again, and The Tall Man fearfully steps out. He doesn't stay long, and the investigators do not attempt to follow him. Apparently though, there are many such trapdoors as the one they closed, some without doors at all, and the Living Wind exists in great number in the deeper vaults. More discouraged than ever, they head left, and eventually exit the tunnels in which they have been wandering.

But the new environment does not make them feel any safer. It opens up into an enormous black plaza, stretching up and left and right and all around them to unknown distances. The wires continue up to a ceiling somewhere, and far, far in the distance awaits another bulb down the line. They stay along this rough path until they see a few more bulbs twinkling like lone stars in space, and then beyond that:

A blue glow.

alienthing.jpg


The blow glow increases. Much larger than a light bulb, and they finally find themselves at the outskirts of a bizarre machine they cannot readily identify. Alien tubes and walls bend at obtuse angles. Crusted with untold age and decay, the machine is a whole area unto itself, rising up several stories above their heads, groping into the darkness with its weak azure tint. Unknown metal and the faint wisp of ozone accompany the structure, but even while they're poking around, curious but fearful, Lester spots several bobbing lights coming closer from an adjacent tunnel.

Chad, Lester, Hans and the three Abo's gather together and carefully approach the tunnel entrance, trying to see who or what is coming from the darkness, but they're too distant. But the headlamps and flashlights of each group are soon readily visible to each other, and a voice calls out to them:

"Who goes there?" Chad and Lester don't understand the language, but Hans does: it's native Koori-speak. He answers back in same: "Who are you?", but the other group, still about fifty feet away, spreads out in the twenty foot wide tunnel. There's about five or six individuals, very hard to tell in the deep gloom.

"Who are you?" the other group asks again. There is a distinct blue pinprick coming from the unknown group that doesn't look like a flashlight. And then Hans, in his naivety and fear of the horrible circumstances they find themselves in, truthfully answers:

"We are just explorers! We're lost down here, and maybe--"

"Agh! KILL THEM!"

That's their answer, in Koori, which only Hans and the mooks immediately comprehend, but the next instant unleashes a thunderclap of light and blue fire!

Electricity spews and arcs down the tunnel, spraying the entire party in a wide berth of pain and flame. Clothes ignite and flesh sears as tendrils of energy spew from the tip of some sort of gun, enveloping all six of them. Screaming, the investigators stagger back, horribly burned, but another arc unleashes unleashes, slamming them again. The mooks die, screaming as their eyes pop and skin welds to the walls in grisly patterns. A few Action Points later, with Lester very nearly dead, the investigators are running FULL TILT away from the strangers, back toward the glowing blue machine. They tear out of the tunnel and hide around the cusp, while Chad tosses two sticks of dynamite back and readies an action to fire the moment anyone comes barreling through.

And seconds later three Aboriginal men with clubs do spring out of the tunnel, and BAM! BAM!

The dynamite explodes in a bloom of fire, shattering bones and sending limbs flying into the black plaza like sparking cinders. The other enemies retreat deeper into the tunnel and the investigators stand at the entrance, popping off a few pistol and rifle shots, but the darkness makes it hard to reach a target. One enemy is felled though, but the most potent Abo bearing the bizarre gun spins around, ready to let loose with another barrage of energy.

At that moment though the investigators hear the very unwelcome and unwanted wail and gibbering of a Living Wind approaching from the dark recesses of the plaza. And in a moment of indecision, almost pinned between THAT thing and a foe with a lightning gun, they retreat, trying to reach a haven of darkness or cover somewhere else. But three failed Luck Rolls suggest otherwise, and they are unable to reach cover before the Living Wind surges into the blue glow like some swirling demon.

polyp.jpg


It is a massive amorphous being, shimmering with slime and translucent flesh, parts of it fading in and out of view as if slipping into invisibility. Uncountable tentacles flail and beat the air while hungry mouths gape and snap, huge distensible maws that lurch out hungrily for anything within reach. It spots the investigators who are shell-shocked at the thing's appearance, but scant seconds later an arc of electricity spews from the far tunnel!

Chunks of the being's ethereal flesh explodes into ectoplasmic goo, showering the ground with green and gray gunk, and the Living Wind spins toward the source. The man in the tunnel entrance wields the gun, and screaming, and unleashes another round of burning plasma straight into the Living Wind. The creature reels from shock, but is hardly near death. It surges forward, tentacles almost magically appearing from thin air, and they encircle the man's arms, legs, torso and neck, and with a sickening slurp and pop and squeeze, he is easily dismembered and disemboweled, every piece of his body showering the ground within half a dozen yards. The lightning gun falls ineffectually to the ground, while the Living Wind moves into the tunnel, stuffing it full, and chases the one man left.

And there is a single hot lightning gun left on the ground, slathered with blood, viscera and slime...

gun.jpg


...as the investigators fearfully glance at each other, still standing out in the open...


And there we stopped.
 
Last edited:

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top