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

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 18 - New Friends, New Hope

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Things are starting to move forwards in Shanghai as our intrepid adventurers managed to find some new allies in the fight against world-threatening evil this session! Reaching that point wasn't easy however and required a mixture of madcap chases, luck and some ultra-violence.
Annoying the Old Ones and their servants can lead to trouble
We continued on directly from the end of the last session, with a rather battered group heading to meet Captain Isoge Taro following their earlier encounter with some of Ho Fong's cultists. The constant attacks by Ho Fong were starting to take a toll, with Willard and Sebastian in particular suffering.

When they arrived at the address Taro Isoge had given them the previous evening they found a small non-descript house. Cassandra knocked on the door, and it was opened to reveal Isoge lurking in the shadows. He beckoned them in. "I trust you got here without incident?" he asked them.

This immediately annoyed Harry who responded rather curtly. "Does it look like we got here with no incident?" he retorted, gesturing at the blood stains over Cassandra's clothes. Taro let the matter drop for now and showed Cass where she could clean up a little. That didn't stop Harry giving the guy more grief however...

I love how, wherever in the world they travel, my group always manages to introduce themselves politely to the local cult leader first (N'Kwane in New York, Gavigan in London, Ho Fong in Shanghai), but on the rare occasions they meet a potential ally they end up threatening them with violence! That's what breeding an atmosphere of healthy paranoia does I suppose.

After several cutting remarks and jibes the conversation got back round to how they were going to find Jack Brady in a city of 1.6 million people. The investigators decided their best lead was Choi Mei-Ling, the young woman they had rescued from the Seven Gates to Heaven in Ho Fong's mansion. Poole had mentioned that she had been taken to Magenta Joy Hospital, along with Li Wen-Cheng, so they decided to head there.

On the way out of the door Harry deliberately barged into Taro, knocking him hard against the frame. Taro glared at the American, but bit his tongue. There was no love lost between these two!

Reaching the busy, hot and frankly filthy hospital with no further cultist attacks, Taro began to question one of the receptionists. After checking the records he relayed to the investigators that Miss Choi was under heavy sedation and under close watch as she had tried to kill herself. She was taking no visitors.

Such formalities would not stop our heroes however, and they decided to visit her anyway. Taro spied the receptionists records and knew room 316 was where they should head. It didn't take them long to find.

Walking straight into room 316 they found Miss Choi apparently asleep in her bed. Her wrists were bound to the bed frame with tight bandages, and sitting in a chair across from her was a bored-looking orderly. Surprised by the sudden entrance of the investigators he stood and challenged them. Taro began barking at the orderly, but it soon became obvious that his Fast Talk was not fast enough. The orderly shouted in Taro's face and left the room. "He's gone to find a guard," the Imperial Agent told them.

Thinking quickly, Willard poked his head out of the door and spied an empty wheelchair in the corridor (thanks to a Luck roll, not a bad achievement for someone with only 30 Luck). As he raced to bring it back to the room Taro was also acting quickly. He strode around to the other side of the bed, drew a knife and sliced through the bandages that bound Miss Choi's hand to the bed frame. He then threw the knife to Harry and gestured for him to free the other hand. Harry did so, then pocketed Taro's knife.

The investigators raced out into the corridor, pushing Miss Choi in the wheelchair, just as an alarm and shouts sounded from around the corner. Then, just as things were getting exciting, I accidentally pressed the wrong button on my PC and shut down the Fantasy Grounds client. Whoops! Needless to say my players were very magnanimous and did not take the piss at all *cough*

Once we were back up and running we rejoined the action. Pushing the unfortunate Miss Choi through the crowded hospital the investigators raced to the stairs at the end of the corridor, the sounds of pursuit echoing behind them.

Isoge Taro pushed the wheelchair through the swing doors to the stair well and Willard attempted to lift the front wheels of the wheelchair to begin their descent. Unfortunately, due to Willard's weakened state, he could not lift the wheelchair up, and it slipped from his grasp.
Willard tries to catch Miss Choi...
By a combination of bad luck and bad dice rolls things rapidly went from bad to worse. Taro let go of the wheelchair, which began to roll down the stairs towards a large plate glass window, Choi still inert and unsuspecting in the seat. Cassandra leaped forwards and grabbed the wheelchair, but could not hold on. It began to gather speed.

I decided to give them one more chance before the chair, gathering momentum, crashed through the window and spilled it's occupant outside. The investigators were too busy chatting about what to do, so I forced the issue by counting down the distance to disaster, "twenty feet, fifteen feet, ten...".

Hubert took action and tried to grab the chair (and thanks to successful Strength and Dexterity checks) finally stopped the runaway Miss Choi from meeting a sticky end (for the time being at least). The group managed to carry the wheelchair down the remaining stairs then fled the hospital into the streets.

Their way back to Taro's house was blocked by some kind of street protest that had turned violent, but quick thinking allowed them to find a way through without being caught by the hospital guards.

By the time they reached the relative safety of Taro's house they were all out of breath. The first thing Taro did was ask Harry for his knife back, explaining it had been a gift from the Emperor of Japan himself. Harry first offered Taro his .38 revolver in exchange ("It was a gift from Johnny Two-Toes"), but eventually backed down and returned the blade.

Taro left the investigators to recover from their exertions, and left to find some food. Hubert took the opportunity to bring Miss Choi round thanks to a successful Medicine roll, but soon regretted it. Choi began to scream hysterically, begging that the investigators kill her. Harry of all people was the one who managed to calm her down, and seeing Willard, whom she recognised from Ho Fong's sacrificial chamber, helped too.

After some close questioning Choi finally gave up a name when asked where Brady was. Willard's presence had convinced her that they were not in the employ of Ho Fong. She told them to look up "Mu Hsien, at the museum", then sobbing asked if they would release her hands. Harry obliged, and as soon as her hands were free they grabbed Harry's gun from his belt. Harry realised what she was doing, but did nothing to stop her.

"Thank you," she mouthed at the New York P.I. before raising the gun to her chin and pulling the trigger, killing herself in an instant.

Everyone stood around in silent shock. Everyone passed their Sanity Checks, apart from Willard and Hubert. Isoge Taro took that moment to return, and glared at Harry as he took in the grisly scene. Taro angrily told them all to get out whilst he cleaned up the mess, and the investigators awkwardly took their leave, informing Taro they were heading to the Shanghai Museum. "Perhaps he is useful after all," smirked Harry, gesturing at Taro as they left.

The group managed to reach the museum without incident, and though it was getting late in the day, found it to still be open. Luck was on their side and the receptionist spoke halting English. When they asked to see Mu Hsien they were left to their own devices for a short time whilst the receptionist went to look for him.

A short while later she returned and lead them down some narrow marble corridors to a small office. Inside the office, surrounded by scrolls covered in unintelligible pictograms was an old Chinese man. He stood and bowed low in greeting. As soon as the investigators mentioned Jack Brady however Mu clammed up and told them he knew nothing.

It took the investigators telling him everything they knew, along with a successful Persuade roll from Harry before Mu finally relented. He still would not tell them where Brady was, but told them to return to the museum at midnight if they wanted to know more. The initial reaction was disagreement, the investigators' paranoia kicking in again. Mu simply remained silent, and eventually they agreed to return later.

Realising that they were not going to get any further, and with a few hours to kill, the group decided a little rest and relaxation was in order. They would find a decent restaurant and have a good meal. Hubert declined to join them, saying he was going to take the opportunity to do a little research on Grey Dragon Island whilst he was at the museum.

Hubert's good luck continued and in the museum library he managed to find some information on Grey Dragon Island in English (despite a huge penalty to his Luck roll). He discovered that the Island, a mere reef on most charts, lay some 300 miles southeast of Shanghai. A volcanic atoll it was usually avoided by shipping due the dangerous reefs and remarkably inclement weather found in the region. He also found a map detailing the rough location of the reef. Further research revealed no more information on the island.

Hubert did manage to uncover a little information on the Cult of the Bloated Woman however. An ancient Chinese religious organisation dedicated to a monstrous god, the cult would sacrifice its victims by severing their limbs. The cult was thought to have died out several hundred years ago.

Meanwhile the other investigators had managed to find a good restaurant close to the museum. None of staff spoke English, but they were directed to a private room with a low square table in the centre, surrounded by low cushions. They ordered their food by pointing randomly at the menu (a technique that was actually used for real by one of my players whilst in Tokyo. He ended up with a burger and fries).

The rice wine began to flow, and the food soon followed. First a huge bowl was carried into the room by two men using wooden poles. The bowl was lowered to reveal a large steaming bowl of water in which floated a huge sea turtle. Following that came many smaller dishes; stuffed eel, shrimps, jellyfish, a host of unidentifiable nibbles and finally a large plate of chicken feet.

This wasn't where the investigators chose to eat
Our heroes tucked in, and found the food to be excellent. They were about half way through when Willard noticed a shadow fall across the door to the room. Signalling to the others he crept to the door and flung it open, to be confronted with a manic, sickle-wielding member of Ho Fong's gang. The cultist immediately attacked, and would have killed Willard there and then with a vicious slash of his sickle, had it not been for the judicious use of a Pulp Point.

Instead Willard fell backwards, and the cultist got caught on the still swinging door. Cassandra reacted quickly, firing a shot from her pistol at the cultist, but her aim was off.

Suddenly there was a crash and a second attacked leaped through the paper wall of the room, landing right behind Sebastian. This new attacker swung his weapon at Sebastian and would have hit had Sebastian not decided to use a Dodge roll and forfeit his next turn.

Another wall crashed in, and a third cultist appeared, taking a second to get his bearings before running towards Cass with sickle raised. The cultists managed to fumble his attack roll however, and tripped over the cushions, falling headlong onto the table and spilling Harry's wine. Big mistake...

Harry calmly stood and pointed his ever-ready shotgun down at the unfortunate cultist. BOOM! The blast tore a huge hole in the cultists side, demolishing the mahogany table beneath him. Splinters of wood and bone sprayed out.

Cassandra took a second shot at the cultist who was attacking Willard, this time wounding him with a shot to the knee. The tide began to turn. Willard was still under attack, and another Pulp Point was required to keep him alive (he was down to only 3 Pulp Points left now!).

The cultists pressed their attack, but their wounds and berserk rage made them careless, and they were unable to cause any more damage before Harry's shotgun, Cassandra's pistol, and Sebastian's .38 finished them off. Taking a moment to survey the carnage and recover, the investigators decided to leave quickly. Harry dropped some Mexican silver dollars on to the table as payment, before they fled past the shocked and fearful restaurant staff.

Back at the museum they found Hubert and Taro waiting for them. It was almost time to meet Mr Mu. Taking the initiative they went straight to his office, but it was empty. As they searched the room for anything useful the door opened and Mu Hsien entered, along with two other men. One was known to the investigators; Jack Brady. The other was a Chinese man in his early thirties, dressed in grey and red martial arts robes.

"Hello again," Brady smiled. "Seems you've been real busy since last time we met".

He introduced the third man as Chu Min; "an integral part of our plans". After Taro was also introduced Brady asked them all to follow him. "It's almost time. We are moving in two days, but right now we're going to New China".

Brady lead the group through the midnight streets of Shanghai, over the river, and to a dark warehouse on Chung-san Road. He knocked on an unmarked door, and an eye slit opened. A moment later there was the sound of chains, then the door swung open. Brady gestured for the investigators to step inside.

The warehouse was brightly lit, and the group stepped onto a steel balcony overlooking a large sandy area. People dressed in grey and red robes milled everywhere, some perusing maps and charts over a large wooden desk, others checking weapons and equipment stacked against a wall. In the center of the room some 50 people were going through rigorous martial arts training.
Welcome to New China
"Welcome to New China," Chu Min grinned.

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