Thursday, November 28, 2019

Did Someone Say Crusade?

After the bloody conclusion of the BlueStar cult, our intrepid "heroes" managed a decent night's sleep, with no further complications... Apart from Alistair, who ended up with the Bloodthirsty hindrance.

The next morning, the news informed them of the death count (21) and the fact that the FBI, the Texas Rangers, and the ATF were involved. Michele, having checked where Alistair was, demanded to know what happened; he told her a somewhat clean version. He also called Kit, their FBI buddy, and explained what happened. Kit promised to keep things under his hat for the time being, especially since he was sure there were shape changers, and had recovered pieces of the shattered staff. Finally, he confessed to his priest, who is beginning to wonder if he is actually just crazy.

Meanwhile, it was midterms! With his injuries, Alistair was sadly unable to pass all his exams; the others managed to pass, barely. Or with ease, in Will's case...

Not long afterward, they visited a job fair, and meet a tall, thin man, dressed in black, with some... Odd mannerisms. Especially since he said that it was a pleasure to meet the group "in person." He handed them a card with a little symbol on the back, something like a crop circle, and his name and number: Agent Peregrine Cycle, 1-575-624-6754#AA56. A little research turned up nothing for the symbol, but the number turned up a website - this website, actually. The City of Roswell, NM's Safety Department's website. An excerpt:

  • Manages safety related activities within the city departments and the interpretation of state and federal policies and standards as they apply to city operations.
  • Develops, implements and coordinates safety and loss prevention programs and principals.
  • Maintains records related to injuries and incidents for all departments and prepares reports and analysis of injury incidents to departments and state/federal agencies.
  • Identifies hazards or hazardous conditions and assists in elimination of those conditions to protect employees and the public.
  • Conducts inspections of facilities, presents reports of conditions and recommends corrective actions.
  • Conducts investigation of general liability claims and processes those claims locally or with insurance agencies.
After they moved on, they spied the man leaving after speaking with the military recruiters. Strange...

Alistair, irritated with his frequent injuries and desiring something to avoid the downsides, began looking for a more, er, medical solution; he made contact with the Greek St. drug dealer - the same fellow who had been working with the Ring - and after deciding against buying meth, purchased a single tablet of a drug called Captagon, intending to run some tests on it.

A few weeks later, they were heading back from a study session when they heard a scream - a trio of imps were harassing some students! The group charged forward, and the imps turned to fight them. Halfway through the fight, three guys with ski masks and baseball bats charged in to help; afterward, their leader explained that they were the Sword of Adam, there to protect the campus from the increasing threat of evil. While it was the first time they fought "demons", they had already taken on other threats to the campus, like an armed bike thief and a pair of vehicle thieves. They invited the group to join them on their next night of driving off evil-doers - they had something big planned.

That night, Alistair (with the help of Priya) created four vials of "holier water" to use.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Legend of Sleepy Hellhole

Dr. Macalahan called with a new "quest" for the group: finding the long-lost "Lantern of the Deep."

"I've been doing some research into local history, and I found something odd. Not long ago, there was a talisman brought from Ireland, called the 'Lantern of the Deep.' It was brought to Texas by an immigrant family, and kept in one of the businesses in the city of Harmony Hill - now non-existent. The city started failing in the 1870s, but was well and truly destroyed when a tornado flattened most of it in 1906. After which, by the way, news of the lantern simply stopped. However, recently unearthed information suggests to me that the Lantern of the Deep has returned to its watery home - or at least a watery home. I suspect it was at first merely lost - or hidden - but when Martin Lake was flooded in 1976, it was covered as well. The lantern has a - sadly unspecified - curse, but from what I can tell, great tragedy follows it. Which is why I'd like for you to see if you can find it, before some poor fisherman snags it, and ends up calling another tornado or something."

However, the work likely would require a good amount of underwater work; he offered to help them get into a SCUBA class. Still needing a phys-ed class, the group decided to go ahead and get trained, first.

About a week later, early Friday morning, while walking to class, Priya heard someone talking about how they had missed Chemistry, because the professor hadn't shown up. Will and Alistair also overheard the news; by lunch time, the professor had missed several classes, and a sub was called in for his last afternoon class. No one seemed to know where he was, so the students decided to go investigate. After dropping in at the library and finding the professor's home address, they paid a visit.

Unfortunately, no one was home - and the front door was unlocked. Inside, the house was trashed; they found blood in the hall. Outside, they found footprints leading away from the house to an alley, and under a bush, a scrap of paper - a map! It lead them about 20 minutes south of town, off the main road and onto a dirt track, mostly used by oil company vehicles.

On the way, Alistair got a phone call from his overprotective parents - they were in town! He managed to convince them he wouldn't be back for 40 minutes or so... though didn't stop to consider that they would spend those 40 minutes talking with his annoying roommate and Michele, his girlfriend...

There, Priya, Will, and Alistair found a large number of people dressed in dark red robes, chanting, dancing around a bonfire... and the missing professor dead, tied to a table. As they watched, one of the cultists lifted a staff over his head; another cultist stepped forward, removing the robe she was wearing - and leaving her entirely nude. The first cultist touched the staff to the bloody corpse of the professor, then touched the bloody end of staff to the naked cultist. Almost immediately, she fell to the ground, her mouth hanging open, drooling onto the ground; she shuddered, writhing inhumanly, as her body sprouted hair, and her arms and legs thinned and shortened, while her torso elongated. She turned her head upwards, her eyes blank and staring, and with a final shudder, completed her transformation into a huge jaguar!

The cultists went wild, cheering and chanting. Alistair, hoping to bring down the leader, crept to the edge of the firelight and took a shot at the leader with the staff, hitting him in the head, and dropping him almost instantly! The cultists, hearing the gunshot and seeing the muzzle flash, turned and started running towards Alistair, who charged back up the hill to flee the crowd. The jaguar bolted forward, catching up with him just as he reached the hill, though only scratching his body armor. Priya swung her new spear at the jaguar, and Will stepped forward, undecided at the moment what to do.

Just behind the jaguar were a horde of cultists; almost immediately, half a dozen cultists surrounded the college students... but between Priya's slicing spear and Will's new katana, they mowed through the cultists like a weed whacker through dry grass. A few well-placed cuts dropped the jaguar... but not before the person with the staff, below, managed to heal it once or twice.

As the cultists on top of the hill fought, the cultists at the bottom of the hill continued their ritual. A cultist was killed, and his blood used to touch another recently-disrobed cultist. The man staggered backward, pulling his arms in towards his chest; he shook and twitched, moaning, then with a horrible, wet, tearing sound, ripped the flesh from his body, revealing a man-sized bat, its wings ending in wicked claws!

Next, another man was transformed into a raging were-ape; then a woman was turned into a were-owl. One after the other, however, the creatures were cut down or shot; the staff-wielder, now a tall blonde woman, was unable to heal them quickly enough. A well-placed shot from Alistair killed her, too.

Will and Priya charged down the hill, cutting down the next staff-bearer, then focusing on the were-ape. At this point, only 6 cultists remained; one slipped off to help the man with the head wound escape, leaving 5. Those five slipped and fell in the blood and mud, unable to grab the staff. The instant one of them did, he got a spear tip in the back of his head for his troubles. The next managed to whack a fellow cultist, transforming him into a werewolf, just as the were-ape fell dead. And with a swing of his blade, Will split the staff in two, and killed the cultist as well.

The staff sparked with red electricity as the decorative head exploded into fragments; almost immediately, the werewolf returned to human form.

Alistair, meanwhile, chased after the two escaping cultists; he reached them as they dove into the nearest car, and managed to shoot out a wheel before they escaped. He returned to the bonfire, where Will and Priya were interrogating the three surviving cultists... and when he realized they had no information to give, gunned them down in cold blood!

Realizing they were standing in a field of corpses, dripping in blood and filth, the three students quickly found some non-blood-soaked robes (those discarded by the first three were-creatures), and tossed their own clothing into the fire. Alistair drove them to the Sabine, where they washed off... or rather, traded the blood and mud for plain ol' mud. He called James, who brought them all a change of clothes (if a little ill-fitting), and they quickly made their way back to campus.

While Priya and Will were each able to get a showed and fresh clothes, and fall immediately into bed... Alistair arrived home to find his parents waiting for him.

Lucky for Alistair, his girlfriend didn't exactly get along with them. She played nice, but as soon as he was home (somewhat bedraggled, but at least not dripping in blood), she immediately jumped to his defense: "Oh, sweetheart, you look so tired out! Why don't you go get a shower? We can wait!"
She immediately turned to his parents and explained, "Like I told you earlier, Alistair is so helpful, always helping people out with things. He's been helping a friend clear out his, uh, backyard. I'm sure he's absolutely bushed."

After what may well have been the most comfortable shower of his entire life, Alistair had only to spend a few minutes with his parents before Michele shooed them away, and told him to go to bed.

All three were asleep before their heads hit the pillow... but what of their dreams?

As a note, here... there is definitely an ongoing investigation into the deaths of 21 cultists. Detective Morris of the Longview PD was called in by the Gregg County Sheriff's department, as well as the FBI and the ATF... Here's hoping you don't all go to jail. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, November 16, 2019


Real talk, people - the write-up will follow.

I enjoy being challenged by my players. I love when my players come up with something I didn't think of, or try a route I hadn't considered. I adore surprises. I am not an easy GM to derail...

But then there was tonight. I... I am shell-shocked right now. Gobsmacked. Absolutely floored.

I expected one of two outcomes: either the gang would go all-out in destroying the staff, making sacrifices to destroy it, at which point the cultists would leave angrily, their plans foiled - or even be held in a stalemate until the cops arrived, and be arrested... Or, the gang would see that they were outnumbered, and would quietly gather some evidence, then sneak away and get help from the police, from their mentor, from the FBI guy, from old friends (zombie guy's brother, the professor they know can control bugs, Cryptid Underground, Lurk Until Dawn, the list goes on), even from other classmates (ROTC, anyone?) or heck, the Russians, that weirdo owes them a favor for saving his life, right?

But no.

Oh no.

Oh Hell no.

After the failed assassination attempt, the gang proceeded to kill every last cultist. All of them. The three that survived long enough to surrender? Shot dead. And then, a complicated attempt at covering their tracks, complete with throwing a gun in a bonfire, burning their clothes and donning cultist robes, and getting their team mate to bring them new clothing... All before showing up on campus.

Before I can even close out this adventure, I need to make a bunch of rolls to determine just how the police react to the scene... Because they showed up about five minutes after the gang left. I honestly don't know if the gang is going to stay out of jail. It's up to the dice.

I'm still reeling from the outcome; this has wide reaching results that have literally detailed the campaign.

And I'm loving it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Bug's Life

Early one Monday morning, Alistair and Will were on their way to a class when they heard a scream from the office area; making their way there, they found a secretary standing at an open doorway, staring in horror at the body of Entomology professor Dr. Lyle Canton - covered in hundreds of insect bites and stings. A quick search of the office revealed nothing more than the few insects the professor kept in plastic terrariums. The professor appeared to have died Saturday. The door was previously locked, and there was no sign of forced entry (or exit) - nor signs of bugs.

Remembering Johnny Chafe, the group went to interrogate "bug boy". After some pressing questions, he revealed that his notebook was likely stolen. He had an alibi for the weekend, too, which helped the students believe him.

Back to Glaske, they asked around and discovered that Dr. Sheila West and a graduate student, Eddie Ruiz, didn't show up for class that day. A little more investigation revealed the professor's address; that afternoon, the students headed over. They found a beat up economy sedan in the driveway, but got no answer from knocking on the door. Realizing the neighbor across the street was snooping on them, they trooped over, and after convincing her they were not selling anything, asked about the professor. The woman pulled out the notebook she kept notes on the comings and goings of everyone in the neighborhood, and pointed out that the car's owner had showed up early Saturday, and hadn't left.

The group thanked her, then vaulted the fence into the back yard; Will picked the lock on the fence, and James quickly grabbed his tools from his truck. After picking the back door lock, Will and James headed inside. James flung open the mudroom door, and instantly had to dodge a swarm of flying and crawling insects, ending up shaken from the experience. The others were slightly farther back, and managed to get through the insect onslaught unscathed. Alistair rushed inside, and fired off the a circle of protection from insects he had prepared; most of the bugs were forced away, and fled. Eddie, now looking more like the main character from The Fly, screeched, calling two giant swarms of insects - one of creepy-crawlies, and one of wasps and other fliers. He stepped forward, ignoring the protection circle entirely, and struck at Alistair, thankfully doing very little against his body armor. Alistair was quickly joined by the others, who shot, bashed, whacked, and tazed the big bug-man (though the tazer seemed to have no effect). Will narrowly avoided certain doom (by burning a black chip!), while James took a few good thwacks. The flying insects didn't manage to get through the barrier, but the crawling insects did, though the heavy clothes of the students protected them from the bites and stings.

Having killed Eddie - or what was left of him, he was mostly bug at that point - James and Alistair, uh, ripped off his arms and fashioned them into melee weapons. Because of course they did.

After desecrating the corpse, the students broke open the cocoon Eddie had been watching, and found Dr. West! She was unconscious; after a bit of cleanup, the students called the police and an ambulance. After answering some questions, they headed over to Eddie's apartment, and ransacked the place, finding the notebook in the process. It seems Eddie had modified the formula, splicing DNA to make the liquid injectable; the process didn't seem to work well for him, however.

Two days later, she regained consciousness, and seemed perfectly fine - though Alistair followed her around a bit, and realized that she could control bugs, too. Filing that away in "useful information to have," the group left her to her own devices.