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  • Far Beyond My Capacity
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 27 - Return of the Ultraviolence

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After a couple of rather low-key sessions things got back to normal during a more action-oriented adventure. Hubert had certainly taken up the mantle of psychotic sociopath since Harry's departure with aplomb. The terrible things that he witnessed on Gray Dragon Island finally seemed to be having an effect on his behaviour.

This basically summarises how things go...
For those of you who can't be bothered with that awkward reading lark, skip to the end of this post where you will find a video of the session for your viewing pleasure.

We began right where the last session ended, with the investigators driving off from the Slattery homestead after being threatened. After a mile or two driving away, Hubert pulled his truck over, and Professor Dodge, followed suit.

Hubert wanted to return to the tin shack and search for clues that the inhabitants were responsible for the death of the spirit they had observed at Dingo Falls. George agreed and felt that they should at least try to solve the mystery of the man's death, and if possible offer the spirit some comfort. He was showing a strange interest in the fate of the ghost.

An argument ensued about what to do. Hubert, George and Rodrigo wanted to return, probably under cover of night to see what they could find. Professor Dodge was eager to continue to their destination, driven by the need to find the strange stones from MacWhirrs photographic plates. Baradyne Baringa, their Koori guide, advised them to leave the inhabitants of the tin shack alone as they were obviously dangerous people. The casting vote fell to Sebastian, who decided to follow Hubert's lead.

So it was agreed that they would return and try to find out if the unfriendly men were responsible for the death of the spirit. Baringa offered to scout ahead as he was best suited to the task, and suggested the group set up the tents to offer some respite from the day's heat, to which the group agreed. As the waited for nightfall they could occasionally hear a mournful wailing note when the wind was from the west.

As they ate a few rations Baringa stood and stared into the distance. A band of wandering Kooris passed by a half-mile or so to the north-east. They had obviously seen the investigators' tents, and gave the group a wide berth. After the Koori party had passed Baringa suggested they all get some sleep ready for the nights endeavours.

Baringa took first watch, and Hubert the second. At around nine in the evening, when darkness had fallen, Hubert woke the others. George was confused to say the least. He didn't know where he was, and could remember nothing that had happened in the last week!

After some rather unconvincing reassurance from his friends (at one point Hubert suggested putting him in manacles!) George recovered from the shock, and the group filled him in on what had happened. Baringa smiled knowingly and suggested he had been travelling in the Dreamtime. George demanded to be shown the strange contraption that had lead to his memory loss, and on seeing the strange device he threw it to the ground and smashed it on some rocks.

Night below the Southern Cross in the Great Sandy Desert
The others decided to keep a close eye on George, and Rodrigo even repeated his threat to shoot him if he did anything dangerous. Baringa changed the subject, and went off to scout the Slattery homestead. Just over an hour later he returned from the darkness with the news that the elder man was drunk in the shack, the younger man was apparently asleep, and he had not been able to see the other man.

After a brief discussion the investigators decided to head over themselves, with the provisional plan of searching the outhouse whilst the residents were asleep in the shack, looking for any clues (they were particularly interested in seeing whether they could find the ghost's lost boots). They left their camp and wandered into the cool night below the stunningly beautiful southern stars.

Baringa lead them west, back towards their quarry. Hubert decided to take his sub machine gun with him, prior experience telling him it might be needed. When they arrived close to the homestead the investigators gave Baringa instructions to sneak up and search the outhouse and shed for people. He did so, but (thanks to a badly failed Sneak roll) managed to trip over a bucket on the way back!

The noise awoke the inhabitants of the shack, and a moment later the door was swung wide. A kerosene lamp was thrust out into the darkness, the elderly man peering out with his rifle. After a few moments he went back inside muttering about "bloody dingoes".

Unfortunately the group had not been explicit enough in their instructions to Baringa, and so they sent him back again, this time to search for any old boots, as they suspected the ghost's murderer of stealing them. This time they had a bit more luck, and Baringa returned with a pair of mouldy old boots that he had found behind a bath in the outhouse. Stamped into the leather tongues of the boots was the name "B. Buckley". The name meant nothing to them, but the investigators felt sure these boots had once belonged to the poor murdered soul.

Buckley's Boot
The group discussed what to do next. Rather than risk an immediate confrontation they decided to head back to their camp, then drive all the way back to Dingo Falls, bringing the boots with them to show to the spirit. This was to be the first of several needless trips to the Falls and back, but if my investigators want to go wandering around the Great Sandy Desert for no reason who am I to stop them?

On arrival at Dingo Falls, Hubert decided to climb back up the caves with the boots, and he went back into the cavern containing the spirit's bones. After a few moments the spirit rose from the floor as he had the previous night, this time in his placid form. It looked at the boots without emotion, shook its head, and drew one finger across its neck. It seemed that the ghost wanted blood, not boots!

In the darkness Hubert got stuck up at the cave, unable to see any safe route down the cliff! The investigators decided to get some rest and wait until dawn so that Hubert could find his way back down safely, and in the meantime Rodrigo and Baringa headed off to tell Professor Dodge, who was still back at their camp, what was going on. They would meet up later back at the Slatterys' place.

On arrival Hubert took charge. He stealthily approached the tin hut armed with his SMG and a few sticks of dynamite. It was a sign of what was to come. As he approached the long, wailing note of a harmonica came from the wooden shed, so Hubert ducked down behind a water butt. From his hiding place he then saw Rodrigo return and walk straight up to the shack door and begin knocking on it. So much for the stealthy approach!

How the investigators approach most encounters
A moment later the door flew open, and the elderly man stood there squinting, his rifle pointing at Rodrigo. "Go away!" he insisted, pulling back the hammer on his rifle. This was enough for Rodrigo to take action, and he leaped forwards, trying to grab the rifle. Unfortunately he fluffed it, and the man stepped to one side and pointed his rifle at Rodrigo, as George approached and tried to calm the situation. it didn't work.

"Get out NOW!" the man shouted, counting down from three. "3.... 2... 1..." then BANG! He fired his rifle at Rodrigo. And so it began...

A short violent exchange ended with the death of two of the Slatterys and the judicious use of some Pulp Points to save the investigators (I'd rather they use all their Pulp Points up now, before the true horrors anyway ::evilgrin:: ). Things were not quite so simple however. The youngest Slattery was badly injured, but as Baringa tried to administer some first aid and save his life, Hubert walked up and shot him in the head at point blank range. He was so determined to execute the poor man that he even used a Pulp Point to stop his gun jamming!

The elderly man was killed by a shot in the chest from Rodrigo, and his oldest son, Vern, was questioned after being shot himself. Harry's influence had obviously rubbed off on Hubert. He even briefly considered throwing his dynamite at the melee and opening up with the SMG, which would have taken out all his friends as well! The events on Gray Dragon Island had certainly shaken his sanity.

Outraged by the blood-thirsty behaviour of the investigators, especially Hubert, Baradyne Baringa stood, glared at them all, then strode off into the desert. They would not see him again - their guide had abandoned them in disgust.

After recovering from the brief but bloody encounter the group headed back to the trucks and Professor Dodge. Despite Dodge's protests at even more delays they took the trucks back to Dingo Falls, stopping to collect Vern Slattery as well as the bodies of his brother and father.

After the hard work of hauling the bodies up to the caves in the burning heat of the desert sun, the investigators dragged the badly injured Vern Slattery into the cave with the bones, whilst Rodrigo threw the two bodies into the snake pit to dispose of them. As they waited for nightfall Vern passed out.

As darkness fell the spirit of Buckley rose once again. On being showed Vern Slattery the spirit shook its head and drew it's finger across it's neck one more time. Misunderstanding, Hubert decided to shoot the unconscious man in the head, killing him at once and deafening himself from the blast in the enclosed space. It was like the ghost of Harry Crum was present too. The ghost impassively watched, then shook its head and drew it's finger across it's neck once more. Oops!

Confused, the investigators tried to move the bones of the spirit, but once again it shook its head and drew its finger across its throat. The group decided they had the wrong Slattery, and that they needed to present the bodies of the others. Unfortunately the other bodies were currently at the bottom of the snake pit!

After quite a bit of faffing around they managed to extricate the bodies using a mixture of smoke, fire, and luck to avoid the venomous snakes. On presenting them to the spirit, the ghost finally seemed satisfied, sinking down into the body of the old man. They had finally resolved Buckley's murder, but due to the manner in which they had done so I decided not to give them any Sanity Points back.

Professor Dodge's anger at the events of the Dingo Falls was only assuaged by the fact that they could now properly set out on the expedition. A day driving into the desert saw the group crossing burro tracks, traversing featureless terrain, and surviving an hours long dust storm that saw them spending several hours fixing and cleaning out the trucks.

Sandstorm
Despite the lack of rest they decided to press on, and after several hours they crossed a well-travelled route. Many vehicles seemed to have passed down it, but Dodge insisted they continue east, whilst the tracks lead north. Dodge was exhausted and insisted on rest, but as they were about to stop they crossed another set of tracks, these leading in roughly the correct direction, so they decided to follow them.

The tracks brought them to an abandoned camp full of ripped tent shells, a wooden shack and an old Ford truck that had been squashed as if a giant had trodden on it. As soon as they got out of the vehicles the investigators saw the area was covered in shattered bones, obviously human. Leaving the tired Professor to rest in the trucks, the group began searching the camp and Rodrigo came across some unusual tracks. They started and ended abruptly, and were huge in size - six feet across, with five circular toes.

Hubert found one tent still intact, seemingly repaired and sewn back together. Inside were bits of clothing and food. It had obviously been occupied recently. Searching further the group also noticed some dog tracks around the tent. The tracks ran alongside a set of human footprints.

Whilst searching a small shack marked "explosives", Hubert noticed a wooden club half-buried in the sand. The end of the club was embedded with sharp animal teeth. Hubert recognised them as bat teeth. Inside the shack were a few empty crates for mining dynamite, but no explosives. They decided to move on, but as the investigators headed back to the trucks they heard animal yelps. A group of dogs could be seen on the other side of the camp, on the lip of a sand dune.

There was a human whistling sound, then the dogs retreated. Rodrigo went to look and found dog tracks leading down the dune. He followed them a little way, topped another low hill, and found a swarm of reddish brown dogs running around a man, naked apart from a pair of brown Oxford shoes! The man was standing in the centre of a small group of stones, and on seeing Rodrigo he screamed, "Get ye back, Satan’s spawn! Begone! Beware! My friends shall rend you!". Sure enough the dogs began to circle, growling menacingly.

Rodrigo backed away and told the others what he had found. George was the next to approach, but he was met with the same hostility. Finally Hubert approached and he was able to calm the man by offering him something to drink. An offer of beer did the job and the man, who was called Jeremy Grogan, began to tell his tale.
"I don’t know how long it’s been. Years, I think. I was down on my luck in Cuncudgerie when I met a Yank who claimed he had a map to a wonderful gold strike a long way east. Well, he seemed a shifty sort, like all bosses, but he was willing to pay a sign-up bonus on the spot, so I took the work, mining work it was.

He hired a lot of men, twenty and more, and all of us agreed that the fellow was daft, and that we’d work until the loony’s cash ran out, and then come back to town. That’s what a workin’ man does, you see—one job, and then another.

The bloke’s name was John Carver. He led us out here where it’s impossible for gold to be, leastwise gold-bearing quartz, and set us a-digging at an exact spot. ‘My researches are infallible,’ he said again and again, and Lord how we used to laugh about that! We made sure we got paid right to the day, because this fellow was going to take a tumble. So we worked through the sand, and then sediments, and then rock. And then the man’s money ran out. No work, no pay, we agreed, and like we promised sat down to wait for the supply trucks from Cuncudgerie the following week. They would take us back.

Meanwhile the Yank began to act strange, walking into the desert, pretending to talk with invisible beings, making gestures, and the like. Then he disappeared for an entire day and part of another, and when he came back, his eyes were wild and evil-like. ‘There is a way,’ he said, ‘there is another way, and God has shown it. Leave if you wish; you are of no use to me now.’

One of the men said something about wanting wages for the days spent waiting for the trucks, and several more used very rude language to the Yank’s face, for this camp wasn’t exactly no hotel. Carver jumped a foot at this, and he swore foully at us. He got a most cruel look on his face. ‘If that is how you feel,’ he said, ‘then I shall endeavour to speed you on your way—all of you.’ Well, that didn’t sound too good, but what could he do with one of him and two dozen of us?

He walked away, into the desert. That night, a couple of the fellows caught me cheatin’ at cards, and they run me way into the bush before I lost them. When I was sneakin’ back to camp I saw Carver appear on the wall of rock, gesture and point, and then a great winged thing with talons like ropes descended from the sky, destroyed the camp, and killed every man-jack there.

When the men knew that guns would not stop it, they squealed like trapped animals. Lord!

Goin’ into the desert seemed a better way to die, so I wandered off. Anything would be better than meeting such a devil-man or his demon. I found some shade the next day and lay down to die. For some reason that made my mind easy and clear. I slept for days.
When I woke, the dingoes were with me. They are my friends, but they are not real. They are magic, I think, because they stay slippery in my mind, and I forget which is which. And they never eat."
If Jeremy Grogan was an MMO NPC
Once he was finished the investigators questioned Grogan further, but discovered little other than the fact he had been attacked a few times by some strange Kooris. They tried to persuade him to leave with them, but Grogan insisted on staying with his strange dingos. The man was obviously insane, but his strange tale had the investigators worried. They decided to leave Grogan to his dogs.

Waking up Professor Dodge they set off in the trucks again. After a while they found a long, soft sand scarp blocking their way. It stretched both north and south as far as the eye could see. After a brief discussion they decided to drive north, and after a couple of hours they found a trail leading east between the high walls of the scarp.

Into the valley they drove, until their way was blocked by several fallen boulders. George noticed several figures on the lip of the scarp, and before he could shout a warning the figures rolled several other boulders down into the valley, behind the trucks. Fortunately both trucks were avoided the heavy boulders, but the investigators were now trapped. It was an ambush!

That seemed like a good time to leave things until next session.


A video of the session can be found below.

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