Horror on the Orient Express - Total Recap!

Note for Note - Milano 1923 - Scenario 7 - Session 2
Brothers of the Skin

A mannequin, we need a mannequin. Where can we find one at this god forsaken hour?” Lord Fyrom Squibb noticed it was just about an hour before midnight. They dashed back to their luxury hotel in galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Milan was after all the fashion center of the world. “Certainly Sire, we will have a taylor with you within the hour.” Impeccable service. The hotel had taylors on call. The galleria Vittorio Emanuele the heart of the pulsating fashion city.

The taylor agreed to sell his mannequin for about 50 francs equivalent in pounds. The investigators dashed back to La Scala and the Stage Manager, Paolo Rischonti, took them to the deepest basement with flickering electric lights. Behind a locked storage door there it was. It’s opalescent marble making identical to that of the left arm. This must indeed be the torso of the Sedafkar Simulacrum. The investigators agreed that Ian should carry the torso. With his Strength 80 and Dexterity 80 he was well suited for the task.

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The night was calm and the investigators had four suites in line, so only one investigator at a time watched the corridor outside. Milan was cold this January.

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The next day, Monday 25th January, 1923, was the day of the premiere for the opera Aida. According to the news the opera singer Miss Cavollaro was still no where to be found. Her spare would sing instead.

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The investigators decided to go to the main library and do research. They had until the evening free.

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They got interested in this Flavio Conti. How did he recover so quickly from TBC? They investigated him further and found his address in a fashionable part of Milan and also that he had an Alfa-Romeo RL. Now this was a sharp lead! Off they went to see Signore Conti.

His apartment was on 3rd floor and surprisingly all the windows were wide open in the middle of the winter. Cold winds blew from Monte Bianco straight into the apartment. “Wait here I will see to him.” answered one of the servants in broken English. There were three servants altogether. The investigators were admitted.

Flavio Conti sat behind a large oak desk with his back towards two large windows wide opened. The room was freezing cold. Despite it, Conti had his sole shirt three buttons open. The investigators (Spot Hidden_) noticed huge scars on his chest going from top and down in under the shirt. What was going on here? Conti acted nervously and shouted to them in Italian. He was obviously under enormous duress and pressure (Psychology_). Professor Scott tried to calm him using Latin. Colonel Williams switched to English and Conti did speak English. Conti seemed to calm down for a moment (Fast Talk) but then suddenly reached for something in the drawer on his right side. Colonel Williams stared him down forcefully. "Now this is a path you do not want to stride down. We all know how it will end." The investigators moved their hands slowly towards their guns. They were 4 to 1 and had superior firepower. Conti looked as in total despair. He dashed for his .38 revolver and put it to his head, but Ian was quicker and flew over the desk trying to knock the revolver out of his hand. A hard punch for 6 hit points but Conti was still sitting up with the revolver in his hand. Colonel Williams also jumped the desk but missed with his 30 % brawl skill. Professor Scott ran over and managed to grapple the revolver out of Conti’s hands. Lord Fyrom Squibb drew his gun but aimed towards the back door to cover it in case the servants would dash in from behind.

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Conti now in total despair tried to jump out the window. The investigators jumped after him and luckily grabbed him by the legs in a last hundred of a second dash. Ian and Colonel Williams were strong men (80 respectively 75 Str). Unfortunately Professor Scott was not as lucky and went out the window himself (fumble 00-roll) but managed to get a grip with his left hand hanging in the balance. Colonel Williams valiantly switched his grip to Professor Scott and saved the day. Ian managed to pull Conti back by himself (80 Str). A short interrogation followed but nothing important came out of Conti except for a few lines: “I cannot die….. A Brother of the Skin lives forever!” Then he just laughed evilly and watched the investigators as in a daze.

Colonel Williams left the crowd and went for a drink with the servants. Using Fast Talk and Persuade he managed to get some information from the otherwise impeccably dignified servants. “Can I see the garage?” “No sorry you have to ask Signore Conti”. A certain Signore Faccia had been seeing Signore Conti recently. Quite often too. He was of great stature apparently. “At least we have something” thought Colonel Williams and convinced the others it was time to leave.

Researching Signore Arturo Faccia they found his address, a mansion in the outskirts of Milan. They went there and using Locksmith gained entry through the backdoor. The mansion was gated and had broken glass as protection on three meter high walls and the gate had long spears discouraging any intruders. The house was almost empty on the inside, no correspondence or leggers except for a description of a major warehouse in Northern Milan.

We still have time to check the warehouse out before the opera starts” said Colonel Williams. They left the mansion looking for a cab. Arturo Faccia would get visitors soon.

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Note for Note - Milano 1923 - Scenario 7
Sunday, January 24, 1923

Active investigators: Lord Fyrom Squibb, Colonel Williams, Professor Scott, Ian Flannery.

The investigators hurried down to the train station. The next express train for Milan would be within the hour (successful Luck roll). They got the tickets and waited among the others, about ten or so individuals dressed for Sunday in Milan. Suddenly two policemen walked in. They looked about and then head for the ticket counter. Colonel Williams rose and walked slowly towards them holding up his traveler’s guide, playing the part. He approached them carefully and rolled for Listen_. Failed. However he picked up a couple of words. “Blaissé” Meaning “hurt” in French. The ticket operator having failed to spot Ian’s injurys hidden below thick layers of winter clothing nodded his head. No injured passengers here. The police looked around obviously contemplating asking questions to the passengers. Colonel Williams again caught the moment pointing outdoors through the entrance windows. "_Oh my, look Atatürk is out there heading for the town!" (the Turkish leader that was currently on a conference in Lausanne). We rolled for Fast Talk and again he succeeded. The two police officers went outside in a haste looking to secure any assistance if needed.

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Above: Arms of the House of Sforza, notable aristocratic family in Milan during the 14th to 16th century.

The train to Milan was an express train and took about five hours. At the Italian border they were stopped by fascist black shirts checking their passports and visa. British citizens didn’t need any visa (Professor Scott, Ian and Lord Fyrom Squibb), however, the American Colonel Williams was somewhat harassed but being unable to understand any of the vocal harassment the fascists left for better prey.

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Arriving in Milan the city was undergoing major overhaul. Scaffolding and construction workers all over the place, carefully monitored by armed groups of fascist black shirts. “Hermann would have come in handy here with all his pals around” muttered Colonel Williams, thinking of his German friend who was a stunt member of the German NSDAP party.

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The investigators hasted to their hotel in the beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele and rightly so the opera diva Miss Cavollaro had not only booked their rooms but also made sure they had been paid for three nights until Wednesday when the Orient Express was due. The investigators asked to see Miss Cavollaro but were surprised to hear that she had not arrived yet. “Not arrived?” bursted Lord Fyrom Squibb. “How is that possible she should have been here 5-6 hours before us?

The investigators used the hotel telephone services and talked to Miss Cavollaro’s assistant Ysabel who was currently at the diva’s residence in central Milan. She had not heard anything and was worried since this was not usual behavior. She takes her opera very serious and would not freely disappear like this.

The investigators called the orient Express and got confirmation she had indeed left the train with her entourage of five people and they had seen them walk together towards the exit where Miss Cavollaro waved her entourage off and then disappeared out the station doors.

The investigators went up to the Milan Central Station and talked to the porters. A couple of liras loosened their tongues and they found out that Miss Cavollaro had been picked up by a gentleman in a luxury sports car. An Alfa Romeo RL.

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The porters could not describe that man’s features unfortuntaly. They had also seen Miss Cavollaro’s manager taking care of her luggage, and the entourage waving Miss Cavollaro off (as confirmed by the staff of the Orient Express).

Next they went to the police. Language was quite an issue here as no one of the investigators spoke Italian. Professor Scott spoke French however and in the Milan Central Police Station they luckily found a Captain from old Savoy, the French-most province of Italy (today Liguria). The police confirmed there was a missing person report filed on Miss Cavollaro, but became somewhat suspect of why the investigators were here.

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A roll for Persuade (Colonel Williams used Professor Scott for translation) soften the police up and they admitted no leads as of yet. The investigators mentioned the car, a sports model, but it was built here in Milan and could be out in the streets all over Milan and Italy, or Europe, in the hundreds if not thousands. The police had no register according to model. They had according to license and registration but this data was failing the investigators.

It was dark outside and the clock approaching 9:00 pm. They head back for the hotel and rested in Ian’s room. Ian was at only 4 hit points and somewhat beat. (Since he didn’t rest he didn’t receive 1 hotpoint healing either.)

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They searched the room to see if anyone had been there or planted anything. Some what paranoid after current events. In the book shelves they found a vast amount of guides to Milan’s different cultural and culinary spectacles. But only one book was kind of worn out. Thumbed all over. They investigated it and found it to contain a rather curious story. The famous opera composer Verdi believed that by singing along to an aria, you would have your utmost wish fulfilled. But it had to be inside the La Scala of course. They also noticed a picture of a dummy, a torso, that was being dressed by a very small woman, almost a midget. Professor Scott looked closer. “Could it be? It almost has to be. The size and shape would fit. It’s covered by armor but what I can see it reminds of that opaque marble same as the left arm in our possession. Gentlemen, I think we might have found another part of the Sedafkar Simulacrum, if yet not it’s picture.” Rarely had they seen Professor Scott so upbeat. “Hurry on, we must go to the La Scala at once without any further delay!”.

The investigators decided to call first and after many signals the door keeper Marco answered. He did not speak either English nor French, but after a while the Stage Manager Paolo Rischonti took over who indeed spoke French. Professor Scott put forward that they were sent by Il Duce (The Italian dictator Mussolini, currently in Lausanne) from the Lausanne conference to inspect the La Scala ahead of the grand premiere in two days. “Come over then but quickly please” replied a tired Stage Manager. Arriving at the La Scala and meeting up with both the employees, Colonel Williams was successful with a Persuade and so they gained full access to the La Scala.

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They immediately asked to be taken to the costumery and after a long passage through dwindling narrow corridors and leaning steps and stairs up and down, they arrived. Three very small women, almost midgets, were frantically attending to six wooden dummies in a row. There was also a young woman there, Luisa Visconti, who thankfully enough spoke quite good English. The investigators interviewed her and were quite disappointed to see that the six wooden dummies were not quite like the one portrayed in the book found in Ian’s room. Talking to Luisa they rolled for Psychology and noticed something was amiss. She was nervous and keeping something from them. The investigators pressed her harder, all in front of the Stage Manager who started to wonder what was going on here, flanked by the door keeper.

The investigators disregarded the other staff. The three small women paused and stood silent. Luisa started to crack under pressure. She had only been employed four months with the costumery but the old ladies, the midgets, had been here for over two decades. They had told of weird sensations connected to a seventh dummy. They felt uneasy around it and for some reason clothing attached to it never had to be fitted. For the last couple of years alone more than twenty helpers and aides had left the costumery because of this weird feeling around the seventh dummy.

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The investigators pushed to know where was this seventh dummy…

We keep it further down, hidden in the dark in the lowest basement.”

To be continued…

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Nocturne - Lausanne 1923 - Scenario 6, session 2
The Sedafkar Scroll of the Head

Sunday, January 24, 1923

Investigators: Frank, Hermann, Professor Scott, and Ian.

The investigators took up positions within the shop lest the other buyer would arrive. He could be a potent spell caster. Frank hid behind the giant stuffed bear with his .45 Automatic ready aimed towards the door. Ian had a gun and brass knuckles waiting for any intruder just next to the entrance. Hermann took up a more defensive position behind the counter with his double-barrel shotgun. Scott was upstairs glancing through the curtains on the 2nd floor and at the same time guarding Edgar’s unconscious body and William who now as hooded and in a catatonic-like condition.

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Ian heard steps getting closer. So did Frank eventually. They signalled each other to confirm probable contact. On the 2nd floor Professor Scott saw a big, round man wobbling towards the entrance of the taxidermy shop. He wore expensive clothes and used a cane to balance himself better. His walk was funny, odd.

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Above: The Jigsaw Prince

The man approached the door and stopped for a second. Then he looked up to the window above but Professor Scott hid behind the curtains. The man poked his cane at the door and the door opened up. “Hello any one there” he called in English with French accent. Ian put his hands in front of his mouth and replied: “Oh yes we are here please come in”.

The man walked forward into the store then fell heavily due to the trip wire installed by the investigators. The game was on and we checked for initiative:

1) Ian
2) Hermann
3) The Jigsaw Prince
4) Frank
5) Professor Scott

With the sole antagonist lying down Ian preferred to save his bullets. He hit the man hard in the back of his head and managed a special hit for 8 total damage. However the blow failed to cause damage to the head and instead no damage at all seemed to effect the target. Ian got worried and rolled off his target. Hermann stepped forward and emptied two slugs in the man. Both hit but again no injury. Not even a drop of blood or a so much as a sigh from the big man. Suddenly he rose up. “It will be a pleasure to cut you all into pieces” he said and looked at Ian. He muttered just a few short verses and crucifying pain hit Ian all over as if flames were eating him from the inside. His flesh turned blackened (missed opposed POW-roll even though using a lot of Luck Points). Ian took 15 hit points damage and fell to the floor dying.

Hermann rolled for Cthulhu Mythos to identify the spell. It was Shrivelling_. This guy was a major spell caster no doubt. With a few words Hermann shout out to Frank who was next to act. "_Lethal spell caster!!!" Frank immediately understood the grave danger. Next round the spell caster would probably kill another one of them. Frank aimed with his .45 Automatic carefully against the opponents head, just between the eyes, and pulled the trigger. Perfect hit! (“01” after spending some 20 Luck points). The spell caster fell dead to the floor. The players were cheering but not too much as Ian was still dying. Professor Scott managed his first First Aid roll and at least prevented a CON-roll for death. But now they only had an hour before his wounds would go critical again. They needed a hospital!

The Lausanne hospital was some 20 miles off and they did not have time to move on foot encumbered with Ian and Edgar out, and William severely handicapped.

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Above: Lausanne 1923

They went for the Cathedral and as they got closer Edgar suddenly woke up. With him was the Sedafkar scroll in a water-tight leather tube. It also contained the English transcript. Mission completed. The investigators asked Edgar for help and agreed to pay him 1500 dollars for his help. 1250 that he wanted for the scroll plus an extra bonus of 250. Edgar assured the investigators he had many friends at the cathedral and could assist them in finding an automobile or a carriage for fast transport.

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Above: Edgar Wellington

Sunday morning in Lausanne was indeed a sleepy affair everything was closed and no traffic in the streets. Adding to that there was this international conference in town over the end of the Ottoman Empire with the new state Turkey negotiating Italy, France and the United Kingdom for it’s new statehood.

Edgar’s friend Agathon helped the investigators to the hospital and Ian was rushed to the emergency unit. Edgar asked to leave with his brother William and the investigators agreed. Agathon drove them back home. Ian was hospitalized for almost four hours and the others took up watch positions in the reception, the canteen and Professor Scott just outside Ian’s room. Suddenly a police car pulled up outside the hospital entrance. Frank signalled to Hermann to rush and warn the others. Two police men come into the hospital, one senior officer and one regular police offer. Frank hid behind a newspaper. The policemen talked to the reception for a short while, then rushed towards Ian’s unit. Too late, Professor Scott and Ian were already out the backdoor heading for the tree line. Hermann joined them and Frank remained hidden in the shadows of the reception far corner. The police men ran back to their car and started patrolling the nearby road and houses using a mobile search light.

It was a cold morning and the investigators were contemplating what to do. The train had left them and they needed to reach Milan for the opera they were invited to. They checked their travel guide for airline routes and checked the Orient Express time table. What should they do? They were also discussing all the events they had lived through these days. Professor Scott got stuck on Comte Fenalik. “The Comte Fenalik is the epitomy of evil. His crimes and his story implies he might be behind the life and death as we understand it. Remember the laughing picture in Le Louvre. I am sure he is bound to the painting somehow and perhaps he can trick death itself. Comte Fenalik is our man.”

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Above: Picture of Comte Fenalik

With those words the investigators took a break in the cold Sunday morning, wrapped up in a thin layer of snow that had blown down from the Swiss Alps. On the other side of the mountains was Milan and the Orient Express waiting for them. How would they get there in time?

To be continued…

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Lausanne 1923
Troubled brothers - Scenario 6, session 1

Saturday, January 23, 1923

Investigators: Hermann, Frank, Professor Scott, Ian, Edvard.

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Above: The time table for the 1923 Orient Express.

The investigators returned from the Dreamlands with the Lovers’ Heart and the Sorcerer defeated.It was close to midnight and the Orient Express departed Paris Gar de North and then Paris Gar de Lyon close to midnight. The investigators noted crowds gathering outside the train prior to departure from Paris, screaming of joy and throwing red roses on the pavement. The famous soprano Miss Cavallaro was entering the Orient Express and her cabin was next to the investigators.

A party started in the Salon Car and the investigators befriended Miss Cavallaro thanks to the charms of Edvard who’s tricks with Swedish safety matches and his scarred face created excitement in Miss Cavallaro’s entourage.

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Miss Cavallaro went off to change to her gala dress once more wearing a beautiful ankh on a chain around her neck and singing her favorite aria from Aida, “Ritorna Vincitor”. She had heard it first time as a five year child at the opera and it had been her favorite ever since.

Aboard the Orient Express joining the party were also:

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Above: Lorna Campbell.Barnes, widowed millionaire.

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Above: Kerim Mahtuk, Turkish finanzier.

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Above: Colonel and Mrs Herring, retired.

Miss Cavallaro invited her new friends the the Opera in Milan three days later and gave the investigators five tickets first row. “I will book there best hotel in Milan for you. It’s in the Milan galleria. You will love it!”

Next morning 06:45 the Orient Express entered Lausanne. The train would only stay briefly but the investigators decided to look for the mysterious Mr Wellington who had written the Loriens outside Paris about the Sedafkar scroll and statue. If the letter was true, they would find the scroll.

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It was a cold and grey Sunday morning 24th of January. It was freezing cold and small chokes of ice and even snow could be seen. The investigators checked in a the Hotel Central and found out there was a conference in Lausanne. They even got a glimpse of the Italian leader Mussolini. He was here together with envoys from France, United Kingdom and Turkey to finally lay the Ottoman Empire to rest and establish a new modern Turkish state republic.

Urging to find the Sedafkar scroll, the investigators ordered a taxi and off they went. Arriving at the correct address the investigators scouted the house, a small taxidermic shop, and decided to break in using a crowbar.

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They had spotted lights on the backside second floor so they pulled their guns and charged inside. “Who are you, what do you want?” cried a desperate voice upstairs. “We have no money here!”. A large bear stared at the investigators with its glass eyes and wired jaw.

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Edgar Wellington was quickly overmanned by the armed investigators and so was his traumatized brother William. William was mute and head major wounds to his head which created an odd shape of his skulle. Professor Scott guarded the entrance downstairs as the rest of the four investigators searched the premises and interrogated Edgar.

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Edgar’s diary was found and revealed more than Edgar initially wanted to. Ian lost his temper. “You either be straight with us or I will break all your finger’s and toes!” Edgar yielded and told them that the scroll was hidden in Dream Lausanne. An alternative reality of Lausanne that he would visit at nights due to insomnia. He also told them about a certain Duc Jean Floressas des Esseintes, called “The Duke”, who was on his way this morning to buy the scroll. Perhaps the Duke already knew the scroll was hidden in Dream Lausanne. The Duke was a potent occultist and had certain means to know things he shouldn’t even know. Edgar rounded off by explaining he had been given a dream drug by the Duke to be able to visit Dream Lausanne at his convenience but he also suspected the Duke had a portal in his home.

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Above: Lausanne 1923.

The investigators feigned kidnapping his brother William and forced him to take the dream drug and return to them with the Sedafkar Scroll. Edgar had no choice and injected the fluid. The investigators noticed that there were 4-5 doses left in the jar as well.

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Above: Edgar applying the dream drug, forced by the investigators to retrieve the Sedafkar scroll in Dream Lausanne.

The investigators seized the remaining dream drug and waited for the Duke to arrive. They set traps in the entrance trip wire and trying to arrange the floor boardings and the stuffed bear. The Duke might be a powerful spell caster but the investigators were ready. They were concerned with the broken door which might alarm the Duke.

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Above: 4-5 doses remained of the dream drug and it reminded Professor Scott of laudanum.

Quote of the session: “Can we put him in the incinerator?” German NSDAP member Hermann asking to shove William Wellington into the incinerator for hiding (I hope).

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Lloyd leaves our train...
Boris and Edvard say farewell!

The joy of completing the extremely long 5th scenario The Dreamlands Express has not even vanished until we got shocking news. One of our core players, Lloyd Baltz, will leave the campaign. Lloyd pays the Russian Psychiatrist Boris Vasiliji and the Swedish Aristocrat Edvard Night and Day. Two very heavy investigators that will be sorely missed.

Boris Vasilijev

Edvard Natt och Dag

We hope that Lloyd will find more time in the future and re-enter the campaign at a later stage.

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Above: Lloyd toasting us farewell I presume… :-)

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The Lovers' Heart
The Final Battle - Scenario 5, session 10

We continued the battle from the last session. The allies of the investigators continued to land blows on the Shantaks, distracting them from fulfilling their offensive against the investigators. The cats of Ulthar, Mironim-Mer and Karakov made sure only one Shantak per round could attack. This was a major contribution to the battle as each time a Shantak hit, an ally or investigator would be killed.

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Above: Mironim-Mer. Blackjack’s murder who would repent in the final battle against the Sorcerer.

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Above: Karakov, Russian arms dealer that fueled the Great War in Europe. In the last dying hours of his life he regretted his deeds confessing to investigator Boris his sins.

The Beings of Ib were quickly reduced from 6 to 4 as the Shantaks bit them in half. They still held the line that was now a front along the middle of the carriage roof that had been torn apart. Their numbers times 2 attacks was also a hindrance to the Shantaks.

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Above: Beings of Ib soldiering through during the last battle against the Sorcerer.

The Sorcerer returned carried by a Shantak and joined the battle. Unfortunately the Nightgaunts lacked the speed and agility of the Shantaks and failed to retrieve Edvard and Manfred who fell down into the abyss of the Gulf of Noden. Never again would they ever visit the Dreamlands sadly.

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Above: The two Nightgaunts tried to save the falling investigators Edvard and Manfred but failed.

The Nightgaunts returned to the battle and opened up a small second front at the rear of the Shantaks. Unfortunately the Nightgaunts were struggling to have an impact on the Shantaks as their armor was too heavy to penetrate for them.

Ian managed to leap (DEX-check) away from the back of the blinded Shantak in the last minute before it took off in a ferocious speed leaving the battle under horrendous screams. The pain of losing both its’ eyes overwhelming. Ian landed on the side of the torn carriage and was hanging now with a grip onto the edge. He dragged himself up on the remaining roof just in time for the Sorcerer to lounge upon Madame Bruja’s monster form. The Sorcerer gripped her from behind and was trying to reach the Lovers’ Heart. Frank and Hermann were quick on their feet and Frank assaulted the Sorcerer from behind, winning the wrestle and locking him in a firm grip.

At the same time the front line took some heavy blows as the cats and Karakov were wiped out by the Shantaks. These allies had occupied 2-3 Shantaks each round and now that they were gone more heavy attacks from these dragon beasts would land on the investigators…

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Above: The powerful dragon like Shantaks threatened the Dreamland Express.

Ian saw this coming and jumped down through the hole in Madame Bruja’s apartment and readied his crossbow. Kneeling he got a good firing angle onto the Shantaks bellies above. He fired and hit a critical! He rolled “8” for the critical damage and totalled damage “20” which might be a new record in the group! (1d8+2 maxed out is 10, + another 1d8+2 rolling 8).

Frank maintained his grapple on the Sorcerer who in turn maintained his grip on Madame Bruja. The Sorcerer had immense strength but Frank’s player rolled well and sacrificed his last remaining Luck Points. This was the final battle and they had to win it. As the 3-part wrestling continued Madame Bruja dropped the Lovers’ Heart and it bounced down on the carriage roof landing at the feet of Hermann. Hermann had just thrown a home made molotov cocktail at the Sorcerer and with his hands now free he quickly bent down to pick the artifact up. Unfortunately Hermann failed his Cthulhu Mythos check, but with the Lovers’ Heart firmly in his hands he felt an intense rage and hate running through his veins and mind and again the artefact shot out rays of light that was only visible in the darkness for some reason. Both the Sorcerer and Madame Bruja, as well as the Zombie took immense damage from the rays (I rolled “10” on 1d10). The Sorcerer wrestled free from Frank and jumped down into Madame Bruja’s compartment. One of the Shantaks landed onto the giant hole to cover him as well. Professor Scott who was holding a defensive position by the compartment took off running towards the kitchen to look for knives. He remembered seeing a butcher’s hackett knife there earlier. Frank was quick on his heels and managed to throw himself under the Shantak, joining Ian who was already there inside the compartment. Ian nailed another quilt on the Sorcerer and Frank also hit him again. The blows and hits were coming down hard on the Sorcerer and his burnt carcass of a body started to fall apart. Hermann made a final lounge trying to dive in under the Shantak, and failed. But he pushed his roll with_ Luck Points_ and managed to join Frank and Ian. The Lovers’ Heart sent out another burst of raw energy and the Sorcerer froze before he was destroyed into shambling pieces. The red light in his eye sockets went out. Unfortunately so was Madame Bruja. She was killed by the radiating light and had returned to her human self. The investigators caught a wryly smile on her as Szuzsa was crying by her side.

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Above: Madame Bruja fell during the last battle returning to her human form.

The Zombie was still “alive” and looked at the investigators shortly before lounging himself into the abyss for ever gone. Unfortunately Mironim-Mer and Karakov were killed in the battle but their brave fighting had saved the front. With Mironim-Mer dead the remaining cats were satisfied that justice had been done and he had died for a good cause in the end. The cats left for their compartment waiting to return to their country of Ulthar. The investigators felt a strange connection now to cats and Ian’s prejudice towards cats was gone. Was there something else going on here?

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Above: The cats of Ulthar retained their great respect for the investigators. Back in the wakening world the investigators would notice how cats around them would follow them and purr around them.

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Above: List of cats of Ulthar secrets as revealed by conducteur Henry at an earlier session.

With the final battle over we closed the session and awarded Sanity points and checked skills.

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Above: The passenger list from the Dreamlands Express on this journey.

Next session we enter scenario 6 of the Horror on the Orient Express campaign.

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Gulf of Noden
End of Dreams - Scenario 5, Session 9

The rest of the journey might be somewhat turbulent” said Henry and adjusted his mask to cover the facial burns. The understatement of the year. The investigators knew that the Sorcerer would come for Madame Bruja and her powerful artifact The Lovers’ Heart.

MacKenzie was troubled. Should I stay or should I go? Clashed with Boris who yelled at him “Make up your mind for heaven’s sake!” And he did. MacKenzie left the train and said farewell and good luck to the dreamers.

The Saarnathians also left. They only passed an arrogant glance. Assured of their supremacy.

King Kuranes left with his bodyguards Haragrim and Nadamens. Perhaps somewhat friskly Ian asked King Kuranes if they could borrow his knights’ magic adamantine weapons but was kindly informed that was not possible. King Kuranes however was by now a powerful ally and as such formally added onto the investigators’ sheets. He would be a valuable asset in the future.

Karakov was pressured hard by Boris in the restaurant saloon as the others left for the privacy of their compartments. It was well after midnight and the train would depart at two am. After a while Karakov broke down. Boris pushed him with Psychoanalysis and Persuade rolls. Karakov admitted to moral guilt of the many wars in Europe and offered to seek forgiveness in the Gulf of Noden. The players did not know how important this accomplishment was at that point.

Left on the train for Gulf of Noden were:

The Investigators Boris, Frank, Hermann, Professor Scott, Ian, Manfred and Edvard.

The cats of Ulthar

Mironim-Mer (as a prisoner)

Zsusza

Karakov

Beings of Ib

The clock stroke two and the beasts of the Dreamland Express leaped up in the void towards the Gulf of Noden. The investigators discussed the tactics. The Sorcerer had escaped their first encounter. Perhaps he was prone to fire? They readied Molotov cocktails from the bar. Frank and Hermann would guard Madame Bruja inside her compartment with Professor Scott guarding outside the door. The rest of the pack Manfred, Ian, Boris and Edvard took up frontal positions in the neighboring compartments. They would fight to the death to protect Madame Bruja and defeat the Sorcerer.

The beasts that made the Dreamland Express reached the Gulf of Noden and the investigators watched all the oceans of the world pour over the end of the world and fall down into that dark abyss. Suddenly in the distance they saw the contours of ten large flying creatures, certainly enormous like dragons. “Contact!” shouted Frank. “Battle stations ready!”. Molotov cocktails were put forward, guns cocked and blunt melee weapons held firmly in whitening knuckles.

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Above: Shantak.

Apparitions came forward. Transparent images of cavalry firing upon the train but the bullets were eradicated like smoke. Artillery followed aggressively bombarding the train but again only illusions. A submarine crowned the attack but again the manifestations were only half-full. Somehow they had been neutralized before even being manifested. Hermann suspected Karakov was somehow involved and silently thanked Boris for his initiative to break down the Russian war mongerer’s denial of guilt.

The flying beasts had a rider on top of one of them. Just a few rounds remained. The investigators rolled for Spot Hidden, Listen and Cthulhu Mythos. The flying creatures were nothing less than Shantaks_. Very powerful beings, fast and agile, with heavy attack capabilities and very strong armor that was oily and slick to protect them from all kind of attacks. “Go for the Sorcerer!” instructed Hermann. "_Forget the flying beasts they are too strong in combat!"

The Shantaks combated the strong tentacles of the train beasts and ripped huge chunks of them away at the 5th and 6th wagons. The two wagons with passengers. Only remnant tentacles at wagon 5 was left intact. The Shantaks crashed into the wagons and started attacking the roof. Edvard, Ian, and Manfred rushed onto the roof to defend it. They were followed by Zsusza, Karakov, the cats from Ulthar, the two Nightgaunts from the locomotive, and the Beings of Ib. Boris also released Mironim-Mer and the zombie who entered the battle on the defending side. They rushed up on the roof all of them and sided with the investigators.

We set the initiative:

1) The cats of Ulthar

2) Mironim-Mer

3) Ian

4) Zsusza

5) Edvard

6) Madame Bruja

7) Zombie

8) Frank

9) Hermann

10) Boris

11) 2 x Nightgaunts

12) Manfred

13) Professor Scott

14) Karakov

15) the Sorcerer

16) 10 x Shantaks

17) Beings of Ib

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Above: Nightgaunts.

The defenders had a great advantage with initiative and attacked. The investigators focused on the Sorcerer and their allies on the Shantaks. They noticed immediately that even though the Shantaks’ armor protected them from almost all damage, they still got disturbed by the attacks and each successful attack on a Shantak made it ineligible to attack that round.

Ian hit the Sorcerer with a critical attack with a Molotov cocktail and the burnt corpse was on fire yet again. His read glowing eyes stared at the investigators and he tried to take control of first Edvard then Boris. But both managed their rolls! Boris went furious and shouted: “Come on you fucking coward its is time for round two here and now!”

Zsusza was the only ally who did not attack the Shantaks. Instead she used her statuette of a dancer and tried to hit the Sorcerer with it. Unfortunately she missed all her attacks but she kept at it refusing to give up!

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The Shantaks started tearing the roof apart and finally succeeded in opening it up so the first line compartments were visible including Madame Bruja’s. Frank and Hermann had watched her and even asked if they could retreat. She wanted nothing of that. Not even jumping into the Gulf of Noden destroying the artifact. She wanted the Sorcerer here and now. Frank and Hermann readied themselves for combat as well as Professor Scott outside the door shifting to the roof now.

The battle intensified and the Sorcerer seemed to be able to take a lot of damage. Manfred knew the situation was getting desperate, soon the Shantaks would be free to attack them and they would all die. He lounged himself towards the Sorcerer full force trying to knock him off the flying Shantak. Unfortunately he missed and plunged into the dark abyss falling down towards the Gulf of Noden… Ian looked at his friend and could only think for a short second how brave. Then he also lounged himself towards the Sorcerer. He hit him hard but the Sorcerer showed immense strength and did not even move. He was rock solid. Ian managed to cling to him and remained on the Shantak battling for control and balance.

Suddeny Madame Bruja started laughing and crying hysterically. She was changing into a monster form of alien proportions. The investigators in the room had to check Sanity. They both succeeded evading any trauma or loss. Madame Bruja tore apart her rib cage and a beam flashed out from her heart towards the Sorcerer who was struck and screamed in agonizing pain.

Boris used the opportunity and joined his friends impressed by their courage. He too jumped towards the Sorcerer and Boris player decided to push his roll knowing a fail would mean worst possible outcome. But he made a hard success and off the Sorcerer went, falling down the abyss after Manfred and Edvard who failed their attempts earlier. One of the Shantaks dove at lightning speed tracing the Sorcerer and succeeded in picking him up in its mouth. The players went silent. this was far from over. Also the Nightgaunts dove and went with furious speed after Manfred and Edvard. They also hoped to savor their allies.

Meanwhile Ian and Boris fought to remain on top of the Shantak that was by now writhing and trying to cast them off. The armor plates of its hide could have offered grip but the oily easy residue that covered it made any attempts to find a grip inutile. Instead they pulled their knives and with forceful blows to the eyes not only blinded it but also used the knives’ shafts as grips to remain onto it. The Shantak shivered in pain and Ian and Boris knew they were in for the ride of their lives…

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Above: Ian Flannery, investigator.

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Above: Boris Vasilij, investigator.

To be continued…

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Back on track!
Here we go again...

Dear readers, we have not played since mid June but we are soon back at the gaming table fighting the evil sorcerer and other BBEGs in the way of our brave investigators. Next session is scheduled August 23rd and we have a strong line-up with Magnus Saletti who plays the German architect Manfred Schultz back in the saddle.

Unfortunately Mats Georgson had to cancel due to business trip, cancelling out Lord Fyrom Squibb and Madame Bruja’s favorite Colonel John Williams.

The probable line-up:

Boris Vasilijev
Edvard Natt och Dag
Frank Patterson
Ian Flannery
Professor Walter Scott JR
Manfred Schultz
Hermann Müller

Having said that there are probably one or two investigators who will not join for the final ride to the Gulf of Noden. That particular ride closes the entrance to the Dreamlands forever and I’m sure that ticket price is too high for some of them. The above mentioned investigators are the available ones and I know the players will want to build a strong task force to face the Sorcerer a last and final time.

See you next Wednesday the 23rd of August! And remember to lock the doors and put out all lights…

Caligula

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A King's Ransom
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 8

Active investigators: Ian Flannigan, Professor Walter Scott, Hermann Müller, Boris Vasilij.

With the confrontation with the Sorcerer just behind them, the Dreamland Express continued onwards through the land of Xura. A twelve hour trip awaited them with just a quick stop in Xura to find any lost dreamers. Henry went through the Salon and pulled all the curtains. “There are things in Xura I cannot allow myself to have you watch. It would be etched into your memories.” He also put out scented candles and torches trying to hide the odor of…. The players rolled for Spot Hidden and it was the odor of human corpses and decay.

Ian and Boris could not resist the temptation of taking a peek behind the curtains when Henry was not there. The land was dark but light from a full moon showed trees and hedges, flowers leaning in towards the train. But something was not right…. The lands… The were full of human bodies, carcasses, and body parts all over. The roses grew out of the eye sockets of skulls and even mountains of human bone piled up together. (Sanity check 0/1d2)

Ian and Boris suddenly heard evill laughter from inside their heads and saw shadows creeping nearer the train. They came out of the trees and out from behind the hedges. Ian and Boris felt a sudden urge to jump off the train and joining those fascinating shadows in the land of death. But Power-rolls saved them both from getting off the train. Professor Scott and Hermann refrained from taking a glance behind the curtains and listened to their friends recollection with interest.

Back in the Padded compartment wagon, the ghoul was kept for safe being of the other passengers. He indeed have a ticket even though he was chewing on it. Henry first did not want to let him onboard, but yielded to the investigators’ wishes (Persuade).

The trip went well through Xura and the investigators had a stern talk with Madame Bruja. They tried to find out about his weaknesses. Fire was his main weakness and the investigators asked Henry to supply them with gasoline and bottles with liquor. They created sixteen molotov-cocktail bottles and geared up for what now seemed as an unavoidable conflict with the Sorcerer. Madame Bruja also informed them that the Sorcerer had great protection powers against conventional attacks only taking minor damage. He has powerful spell-casting possibilities and can dominate people with his powers. Perhaps also his pride was his weakness she rounded up. Madame Bruja ended the night’s conversation by stating that she had to throw the Lovers’ Heart in the Gulf of Noden to destroy it forever. If the Sorcerer would find it he would ascend to immense powers perhaps even threatening the Waking World….

The Dreamland Express entered Aira and Henry and the cats held a remembrance ritual in a lovely meadow lined by beautiful grooves. Birds with pink feathers flew over and it was quite the contrast from Xura the land of death.

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Henry read a poem and the cats filed up in two lines walking up to the groove slowly and on arrival dug a pit where Henry placed Black Jack’s body carefully, graciously. Black Jack’s mother was there and she lay beside the grave. Back at Ulthar, Mironim-Mer, the murderer, would be tried and the knowledge of justice being done surely soothed her pain.

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Next stop was Sonya-Nul and henry informed the investigators that King Kuranes would enter and there would be a Royal Feast Banquet. After the banquet, the King would call upon the conflicting parties The Beings of Ib and the Saarnathians. The King was interested in the investigators negotiated plan.

Arriving in Sonya-Nul, The Land of Fancy, wherein there is no time nor space, no suffering nor death. The land- scapes are clear and pastoral, the cities gigan- tic and domed in gold. Beyond each vista of beauty arises another even more beautiful. The inhabitants are happy and gifted with unwar- ranted grace. Quaint pagodas and white walls stand amid carefully tended gardens. Those leaving Sona-Nyl invariably suffer great dif- ficulties if they attempt to return. Most never succeed in returning—some say because the gods curse them for rejecting perfection.

The King was escorted by twenty of his finest knights in full armor and on majestic horses. Two of the knights followed the King onto the Dreamland Express. King Kuranes’ knights were named Haragrim and Nadamus. They were powerful warriors with stern gazes. Surely it would not be easy to pass them onto the King.

Henry was at his best, bowing deep to salute the King. Henry introduced him to the other passengers and the King mentioned the investigators and telling them he looked forward to hear their negotiated peace proposal. But first they would feast. Hermann lacked proper fittings and rolled for Dreaming. He failed. A banana popped up in his hand. The others laughed hysterically. Hermann not keen to Anglosachsian humor being a stern Nazi, asked Henry for assistance. Henry manifested a magnificent tuxedo for Hermann crowned with the Iron Cross and the NSDAP-party symbol.

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The Royal banquet was a lavish feast and Henry was in terrific mood. The investigators did feel a certain nervousness surrounding the table now that a king was present. Psychology rolls pointed out Zsasza as one of the most nervous ones, keeping all silent far from her regular drama. Boris leaned over and asked her how she was doing. She looked at Boris and smiled. “I do not know whether I should sing and dance now, or later, or not at all. What would the king fancy?”. Boris smiled and talked with a kind, soothing voice. “Dear Miss Zsasza, I have been at many a banquets by the Tsar. It would be most appropriate after the desert when the guests want entertaining.” Zsasza smiled and thanked Boris. He had saved her day.

And what a dance and song she performed after the desert. She dated like a firefly and finished off with a perfect pirouette. Her song cherished brave warriors and the kingdoms nurturing them. The King was happy and applauded loud. Then he broke off: “Now it is time to parlay. I want the Dreamers and their presentation in the Salon car.”

The investigators presented their three points of compromises. The money for war damage was agreed on. The apology would be in written form. The statue would be returned someday, somehow. The King agreed to the deal and called in the disgusting Beings of Ib and the beautiful Saarnathians. They also accepted the deal. The King finished the parley by warning the Saarnathians to not respecting the deal. “There are Gods who will not forget”.

The investigators were awarded immediate +1d4 Sanity Points for brokering the peace.

The Dreamlands Express departed 2 am for Serannian, the last stop before The Gulf of Noden. The beasts of the train took of toward the heavens and the far horizon melted together between the sea and the heaven. The train leaped off and traveled high-up among the stars. The investigators look out thrilled to see this amazing flight over the clear sky.

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“_The marble cloud city… that lies in ethereal space between where the sea meets the sky_”. Henry told the investigators before wishing them good night after a long day. “To reach Serannian one sails from Celephaïs to the horizon (the point where the sea meets the sky) then over it and up into the sky. Much of the Cloud City of Serannian is actually a huge castle complex built of pink-veined white marble. The people of Serannian are extremely pale of skin and hair. They are polite to outsiders but very introverted. Serannian is a possession of Celephaïs and King Kuranes rules from it half the time

Before the investigators went for their last rest before the Gulf of Noden, Professor Scott wanted to ask Henry if they could arrange the tentacles of the beasts to protect all open parts of the Sleeping Compartment where they and Madame Bruja were (Car #5). Only leaving one window open without protection – the one of the investigators’ compartment.

The investigators also discussed who would be the last four of them defending Madame Bruja all the way into the Gulf of Nodens. They knew from earlier that Lord Fyrom Squibb and Colonel Williams had volunteered, and adding to that Edvard Night & Day since he wanted to get rid of his Agoraphobia that he got from the Blood Red Fez ritual. The final fourth slot was between the remaining investigators. Exciting decision to make!

To be continued…

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Madame Bruja
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 7

Active Investigators: Colonel Johan Williams, Lord Fyrom Squibb, Professor Walter Scott, Ian Flannigan.

The investigators hade finally made Madame Bruja open up her heart. Their brave stance against that spell-casting burnt corps who probably was The Sorcerer had made them bond. He was a powerful being and Boris Vasilji was impressive (and perhaps lucky) to withstand two mental spell-casting attacks in swift sequence. The Russian bear was not only physically stout but also had immense mental strength from the Siberian tundra.

The investigators were now deep in conversation with Madame Bruja in her compartment. Just prior to this she had been alone with Colonel Williams and accounted for her sad history.

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She confirmed that she was the Crone and that the Sorcerer would never give up until he had laid his hands on the heart. Lord Squibb specifically asked Madame Bruja if she, or the Sorcerer, had any knowledge about the Sedafkar Simulacrum. She did not know and as far as the Sorcerer went she could neither verify nor deny, but he was a sorcerer of great potency and there was certainly a possibility. Colonel Williams asked her what her mission was? Madame Bruja replied without hesitation that she would travel all the way to the Gulf of Nodens and throw away the heart and therefor forever denying the sorcerer the precious heart. That would mean eternal victory over him.

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Above: Mirror image of the Sorcerer

The investigators parleyed how to handle this. The Sorcerer was without hesitation a very evil and powerful being. He had to be stopped! The players rolled ferociously for Occult, Cthulhu Mythos, and Dream Lore. They got poor results and no breaking news really. Their Cthulhu Mythos expert Hermann Müller was greatly missed back in the Wakening world. After the players had parleyed they decided to have 4 investigators stay on the Dreamlands Express the whole way to the Gulf of Nodens and escort Madame Bruja. They were well aware of the fact that these four investigators would never be able to return to the Dreamlands Express after that. Hence they would prioritize investigators like Edvard Night and Day who had curable phobias and insanity, and would reap benefits from the great sacrifice.

To be continued…

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