• Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity

Friday, October 11, 2013

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 17 - Band on the Run

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Well, the undertaker drew a heavy sigh seeing no one else had come,
And a bell was ringing in the village square for the rabbits on the run.
Band on the run, band on the run.
And the jailer man and sailor Sam, were searching every one
For the band on the run...


Last session saw our investigators in something of a hole. Trapped in an anarchic city, on the run from powerful forces, unable to speak the language, and with limited resources, things were looking grim. Then their only contact with the outside world had disappeared.

It was time to open the door to the outside world
It was time to stop hiding and take action.

In Call of Cthulhu that means a twenty minute discussion on how best to proceed. By "best" I mean the course of action least likely to result in death or madness.  Several ideas were discussed, and the team drew up a list of things they needed to do. All were agreed that to stay put wasn't really an option.

The following task list was drawn up:
  • obtain a new guide and translator ("we broke the last one!")
  • try to locate Jack Brady by following up on their leads
  • investigate Grey Dragon Island
  • talk to the silent insect-eating girl they had rescued from Ho Fong's mansion and see what they could find out
  • talk to Choi Mei-ling, the woman they had rescued from the Seven Gates to Heaven and see what they could find out
  • investigate the items they had found at Ho Fong's mansion and warehouse (a large book and briefcase at the former, some strange brass instruments at the latter)
Once they had decided what to do discussion turned to how they were going to try and achieve their aims. They decided they would first head to Lieutenant Poole's makeshift office to see what had happened to their contact. They would trust to the chaos and numbers of Shanghai to keep them hidden, along with some purloined clothing for disguise. As an added precaution Harry decided he would affect a "shuffle" when walking. Brilliant...

So, off they went. Luck and conceal rolls ensured they found some suitable disguises and made it to the puzzle bar in which Poole had his office without incident. Once they arrived however Poole was nowhere to be seen. Ordering a drink at the bar Harry found a message hidden on the napkin under his shot, placed there with a wink by the barman. It read "H.F. found me. Try to reach B.S.C."

It didn't take long for the investigators to figure out that Poole was now on the run from Ho Fong as well, and that they should look for him by contacting Brigadier Stanley Coulson.

So another trip across the anarchic city ensued, this time to the British Concession. Luck was with them as they appeared to reach their destination undiscovered, and they found the Brigadier enjoying his breakfast. Despite blustering over the disturbance of his repast the Brigadier supplied the investigators with the address of a safe house; 561 Heng Shen Road. He flatly refused their petitions for equipment and sent them on their way.

The Brigadier's breakfast?
As they left the Concession, Hubert decided his time would be better spent on another of the group's tasks. He told the others he was going to visit the Shanghai Museum to try and find another guide and translator, and also to spend some time examining their findings from the mansion and warehouse.

The rest of the investigators headed off to find Heng Shen Road. Luck was again with them as they managed to find the address with only minor difficulty and without attracting undue attention (I was sure their Luck rolls would fail eventually - and I was right). They took some time to watch the small building, then Harry knocked on the door.

There was no answer, and he could hear nothing inside, so he picked the lock (successfully for once). Opening the door and stepping inside the darkened room he was met with a blackjack swung with force across the back of his neck, knocking him out. The others, watching from across the street, saw Harry fall and then be dragged inside!

Willard and Sebastian raced over and together forced the door open to find a deeply apologetic Martin Poole standing over the unconscious Mr Crum. "I'm sorry, I thought it was Ho Fong..." he muttered. "Still, I owed him that after New York," he added.

Willard went to administer some First Aid to Harry, but fumbled his roll with a 99! Oops! He only made things worse, choking the poor man whilst trying to loosen his tie. Willard's blunder left a distinctly unwell-looking Harry with only one hit point! Still, at least they had found Poole.

Poole told them he had checked their first guide, the unfortunate Li Wen-Cheng, along with the silent girl from the mansion into the Magenta Joy hospital where he knew one of the nurses. After a quick discussion the group decided to head to the hospital and bring the nurse, one Joy Min (look, I was struggling to come up with a name quickly alright?!) back to tend to Harry.

So, off they set once again...

Crossing Shanghai in the 1920s
Meanwhile Hubert had arrived at the impressive Shanghai Museum. As he was entering the building however he spotted three Chinese men tailing him. Ho Fong had found him! Hubert displayed his usual brand of bravery, and decided to run for it!

Leaping across a stall outside the museum, scattering baskets and bread rolls in his wake, Hubert raced down the narrow street, ducking and weaving through the crowd. Glances showed the three men were in hot pursuit.

Hubert raced down an alley, then another, leaping over boxes, skidding through laundry and leaving barking dogs behind him. He rounded another corner and leaped into an open basket. Luck and Hide rolls were on his side and the pursuers raced past his hiding place. Hubert had escaped!

He did however fail his Navigation roll, meaning he was now totally lost!

The main group of investigators fared better, making it across the city to the Magenta Joy hospital undetected by their enemy. After a long wait in a dirty and noisy room Nurse Min eventually came to see them and they passed on the note Poole had given them. She said she would visit once her shift was over.

The group decided to try their luck one last time, and head back to the Palace Hotel on the off chance that Brady was there looking for them. They knew this was a risky move, as Ho Fong would surely be keeping an eye on the place as well.

Sure enough, after just a few moments scouting the place out they managed to identify several of Ho Fong's goons loitering about nearby. As they were contemplating what to do next Cassandra was shocked to find the unmistakable feeling of a gun barrel being pressed into her back.

"Come with me, all of you," whispered a voice in broken English. They turned to be confronted by an oddly familiar, yet nondescript Asian man, who beckoned for them to move away from the hotel with a wave of his pistol. The man forced the three investigators to move off into a nearby alley where he asked them where Brady was.

Cassandra was furious and belligerently refused to answer any questions until the man revealed his identity. The man was unwilling to comply however, and a stand off between the two strong-willed characters ensued, whilst Willard and Sebastian looked on. The man kept demanding that the investigators reveal what they knew about Brady, but they refused to answer.

Eventually, realising his approach was not getting anywhere the man holstered his pistol and asked the group to follow him. They warily decided to agree, but Cassandra could not resist showing her skill with her blade, flashing it out and cutting the man's ear with the point before he could react. The sexual tension was unbearable.

The man lead them down several alleys and along several streets, eventually arriving at a small house. He lead them upstairs to a small room, bare except for a cot and a desk that was covered in maps and papers. Once there he turned on them again, demanding to know what they knew about "Brady", "the Island", "New China", and "the Weapon".

Agent Isoge Taro - a man so cool he has his own trading card
Back at Poole's hideout meanwhile, there was a knock on the door. Harry, still weak from his earlier encounter with Poole's blackjack opened the door to reveal Nurse Min. She smiled at Poole and set to work helping Harry and administering some medicine. Whilst working she told them that there was no change in Li Wen-Cheng's condition; the poor Chinaman was just as as catatonic as before.

There was then a second knock at the door. Harry reached for his shotgun before a panicked voice shouted out. "Let me in dammit, they're after me!". It was Hubert, who had finally managed to get his bearings.

At the house of the mysterious man the other investigators were still refusing to answer questions. Realising he wasn't going to get anywhere without more direct action the Asian gentleman finally introduced himself as Isoge Taro, Agent of the Emperor of Japan and Captain of the Imperial Japanese Navy!

The investigators suddenly remembered why the man seemed familiar. He had been watching them at the Stumbling Tiger Bar, and had been the worker who Harry had asked for a light along the Bund. He had obviously been following them for some time.

Taro revealed he was looking for Brady because he understood him to have some knowledge of some powerful weapon that could threaten the Emperor and Japan. He was therefore conducting investigations in order to locate this threat, and was trying to find Brady. He knew that Brady was mixing with a group calling themselves New China, and that Grey Dragon Island kept cropping up in conversation.

The imperial agent's investigations had lead him to Martin Poole, and thence to the investigators themselves, and he was now appealing to them to tell him where Brady was, so that he could find and destroy this weapon.

Cassandra, Willard and Sebastian decided to trust Taro, and told him what little they knew. Unfortunately they could not help him find Brady, though they knew Brady would eventually come looking for them at the Palace Hotel. Taro said he would send some of his informants to keep an eye on the hotel for them.

The meeting broke up, and the investigators agreed to meet Taro the following day so that they could discuss how best to pool their efforts in finding Brady, discovering more about New China, and uncover the mysteries of Grey Dragon Island and the weapon Taro had told them about. Leaving Taro's house the group headed back to Poole's hideout to discuss what they had learnt.

A good night's rest was had for once, and encouraged by their encounter with Isoge Taro and surviving the hunt by Ho Fong's men (so far at least) they all set out for their meeting with the imperial agent. This time however their luck ran out.

In the middle of the old city they investigators (aided by Spot Hidden rolls) realised they were being followed. Deciding to run for it they saw their pursuers begin to chase them, so they ducked into an alley and took up defensive positions.

As Ho Fong's men rounded the corner Cassandra stabbed one of them with her rapier. Stunned by the attack the man managed to swing at Cassandra, but missed. A second assailant ran into the alley and made straight for Sebastian, swinging a sickle at him and hitting him in the ribs. Sebastian was hurt, and fell to the ground, passing out from the wound. He lay in a slowly growing pool of blood.

(I'm sure it was an honest mistake rather then "cheating" as such, but I asked Sebastian's player to make a CON check to see if he fell unconscious from the attack. I told him he needed to roll 13 or lower on a d20, and sure enough he made the roll. I then noticed that he had in fact rolled a d12. Trying to roll below 13 on a 12-sided die was always going to be successful! I made him roll again, this time using the correct die, but he failed and therefore Sebastian passed out. Justice!)

Spot the difference...
Hubert fired his trusty flare gun at a third attacker, but missed (as usual), leaving him with no more ammunition. Always a problem with a single-shot weapon!

Then Harry got involved.

I don't know how it always seems to happen, but somehow it does. The fight continued for a few more rounds without major incident, except that Harry methodically and successfully obliterated every one of the attackers with his shotgun. It's like watching a surgeon at work (a very violent and psychotic surgeon I grant you). The fat private investigator is like a one-man army.

The fight ended, and Willard rushed to aid Sebastian. This time he made his First Aid roll and stopped the bleeding (instead of almost killing his patient like he had earlier with Harry). As Sebastian came round with a groan there was a loud slap. Cassandra had hit Harry in the face (again), screaming a threat at him, "just cover me in a Chinaman's blood one more time Crum!".

Something tells me that might just happen in the next session...

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