Horror on the Orient Express - Total Recap!

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.

Shantak.jpg

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

Nightgaunt.jpg

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!

Zsusza_moment_of_truth.png

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…

Ian_Flannery.jpg

Above: Ian Flannery, investigator.

Boris_Vasilijev.jpg

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.

Aira.png

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.

Black_Jack_memory.png

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.

Royal_Feast_Menu.png

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.

Serannian.png

“_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.

The_Lover_s_Heart.png

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.

The_Sorcerer.jpg

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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The Sorcerer
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 6

Active investigators this session:

Boris Vasilji
Ian Flannigan
Professor Scott
Colonel Williams

Mironim-Mer laid unconscious on the floor. Boris slapped him in the face and Ian poured cold water on him. Henry and the investigators parleyed what to do with him. They used the Dreaming skill to produce manacles and cuff Mironim-Mer for security concerns. They decided to lock him up in his compartment on the train. But how should he be punished?

The players rolled for Idea and and came up with three different alternatives:

1) Execute him here on the train.
2) Let the cats in Ulthar have him and punish him.
3) Let King Kuranes make the ruling on his penalty.

The investigators voted. Boris and Ian voted for option 2 the cats of Ulthar. Colonel Williams opted for the 3rd alternative, King Kuranes. Professor Scott yielded his vote but supported the majority decision. The cats in Ulthar would decide on Mironim-Mer’s fate.

Colonel Williams stressed the point that Mironim-Mer was not responsible for his actions since he was either under the influence of someone, or quite mad.

Experience was due and since this scenario is long it is divided in separate sections for experience according to the authors. And we play RAW. As written.

The players received the max amount of +1d6 Sanity Points with an additional +1d2 San points to Boris who helped save the Madman (Psychoanalysis and conveying Henry to let him onboard the Dreamlands Express). Well done! We also rolled experience checks for skills. Investigators will soon be updated and published here on Obsidian Portal for your reference.

The Dreamlands Express arrived in the small harbor town of Aphorat at 7 pm and soon they would be served the Second Banquet. Aphorat was a beautiful small town with limestone ruins framing the outskirts and a bluish light marveling upon it’s high walls from the sea. No one was embarking or disembarking but Henry loaded off the colorful flowers that he had picked up at Zar and imported lovely pottery in turn.

All but Colonel Williams had smokings ready and the Colonel kindly asked for their help using the Dreaming skill to produce his outfit. “Befitting for the occasion I would prefer a blood red fez as accessory to my smoking.” The investigators focused and Colonel Williams looked quite exotic with his Turkish fez on.

The Second Banquet was on and Henry did impress yet again.

2nd_Banquet_Menu.png

The guests would be served soup, poultry, fish, camel and dromedary, rounding off with fruits and nuts. The wines were as always delicious especially the exquisite Sarrubian wine which left a weird sensation considering who had delivered them to this train and feast… (Guess who?)

The guests were:

The investigators: Boris, Ian, Colonel Williams, Professor Scott.

The Saarnathians: (males) Theophed (the leader), Amor, Caromel, (and females) Besweet, Ibex, Dulce.

Miss Zsusza the artist

Karakov the arms dealer

MacKenzie the courier

Madame Bruja

The guests were split up into two groups. The Saarnathians kept their distance and talking to themselves. Politely nodding when glances met. Miss Zsusza was entertained by Karaoke and MacKenzie, and later Madame Bruja who as always arrived late. The investigators used skills to get a grasp of the situation. They used Listen to listen in any topics of interest, especially looking for words like “Black Jack” or anything connected to the murder. Nothing happened. They also rolled for Psychology, Spot Hidden and Credit Rating (Colonel Williams on Madame Bruja). There was somewhat of a slow night with everyone a bit careful considering the circumstances.

Colonel Williams made a critical success on his Credit Rating roll with Madame Bruja and the ice cold lady opened up somewhat. She was happy to make conversation especially with Miss Zsusza who reminded her of her daughter that “was gone”. The investigators were not sure if “gone” meant diseased or just missing. They waited for an opportunity to ask.

Henry shortly interrupted the banquet to informed that the killer of Black Jack had been contained and he thanked the investigators for their assistance. Applause were due though somewhat passive.

After dinner small groups were spontaneously engaged in deep conversations encouraged by the delicious wines that continue to be served. Boris was approached by the Saarnathians leader Theophed who wanted the investigators support in brokering a deal with the Beings of Ib. “Their demands are ridiculously lavish” he complained. “We only defended our country against their invasion” he summarized their moral stance. Boris offered to help and negotiations followed.

The_Doomed_Cities_of_Saarnath_and_Ib.png

To be successful in the negotiations, the investigators had to succeed with either Law or Persuade for each of the three major points:

1) 10.000 rubins and saphires in war damage compensation
2) An official apology from the King of Saarnathia
3) Return of the statue of the lizard god Bokrog

Professor Scott was drunk and fumbled his Persuade roll. Theophed was angered by his clumsy remarks and they would now need 2 successful rolls to succeed with point 2! Boris failed his first roll for Persuade but raised the stakes and pushed his roll. He did it! With no investigator having more than 5 % Law they were acting with a knife against their throats. Colonel Williams saved the day when he rolled a perfect "01"and made his Law check. The players (and Game Keeper) cheered. A treaty had been brokered! The Saarnathians would accept the suggested path.

However, it angered the investigators that as they were brokering a peace, Karakov was in the midst selling weapons to the other members of the Saarnathian enclave. Boris complained to Theophed who guaranteed the treaty would be respected but also at the same time making clear that Saarnathia was a sovereign country that had a lawful right to defend themselves against aggression. Boris ended the parley with warnings regarding Karakov. “A man that cannot be trusted.”

The Dreamlands Express was about to enter the city of Thalarion and the wide plains were populated by wild horses chased by purple wolves. Birds with human hands were flying high in the sky. Thalarion was another port city and Henry was since in his voice when he warned any passenger to disembark at Thalarion. “We only stop there to save any lost dreamers.” Boris wanted explained why. Henry pulled him close. “Because therein walk only demons and mad things that are no longer men, and the streets are white with the unburried bones of those that have looked upon the eidolon Lahti, that reigns over the city.”

Madame Bruja had left the banquet early but returned to the banquet wagon as the train pulled into Thalarion. Someone, or rather somewhat, was waiting alone at the station. The investigators looked carefully as Henry went to great the passenger. But instead of greeting it seemed like Henry tried to keep this creature out of the train. Boris had followed Henry to cover his back. He could see that the creature was a human coprse, charcoal black as if burnt with bones open to see here and there. In the empty eye sockets were red glowing light. Henry seemed to passively give in, his arms falling lame along his side and he froze as if momentarily catatonic. Boris did not approve of the development as the black corpse moved toward the ladder and started climbing up towards the banquet wagon. Inside the wagon Ian never hesitated. “I run to my compartment for my crossbow.” Madame Bruja froze to ice and shouted “It is him! he has come for me!” She started running away towards her compartment further ahead in the train. Boris tried to block the path but was challenged by some kind of mental attack. We rolled for opposed POW and Boris made it! But he chose to step aside so the creature could pass him into the banquet wagon. Carefully he drew his sword from the cane. A stab in the back would taste good. As the corpse moved into the banquet wagon panic started to spread. Madame Bruja was running full speed with Colonel Williams following her tail. The corpse followed suit. Would they make it?

We rolled for chase (names in order of position heading for carriage 5 (sleep wagon #1) from carriage 8 (banquet wagon):

Ian (failed roll)
Madame Bruja (succeeded roll)
Colonel Williams (hard success roll)
Black Corpse (failed roll)
Professor Scott (fumbled, fell on floor -1 round)
Boris (failed)

Madame Bruja and Colonel Williams caught Ian and distanced themselves from the corpse. Ian decided to stay in the Men’s Saloon (carriage 7) and make a stance. Perhaps he could give Colonel Williams and Madame Bruja some much needed time to escape. Colonel Williams and Ian tore down tables and chairs to block the corpse from advancing without delay from the Men’s saloon.

The corpse entered the Men’s saloon. On the other side of the rubble as Ian now with a broken chair leg winded with some cloth on fire. Ian wavered it in front of the coprse trying to scare him off with the burning flames. Boris came up from behind. we checked for initiative:

1) Ian
2) Boris
3) The Corpse

Ian used his round to lit the chair leg. Boris thrusted his piercing sword in the back of the corpse trying to hit the kidneys. If there were any kidneys… He rolled a crit! and it was also an impale for 2d8+2+1d4 damage, maximizing the first die (13) for a total of 22 damage! The corpse was still standing though. It seemed that the damage was minimal despite the fantastic hit. The corpse turned toward Boris and uttered a few short sentences in a language not known to man. A sudden pain hit Boris inside his head. He rolled for opposed POW a second time and again beat this fearsome creature. Suddenly the creature was gone.

Who,,,,, what was that thing??” screamed Ian still holding his burning stick. “That my dear friend was the Sorcerer” replied Boris calmly. “He has come to fetch what is his and he will not give up until he has taken it.”

Colonel Williams and Madame Bruja had reached her compartment in carriage nr 5, just next to the investigators compartment. “Madame Bruja, you must tell us what is going on. Please!”

we rolled for Persuade and Colonel Williams (89 %) made a hard success. “Alright, come with me inside my compartment. I shall tell you my story” she said.

To be continued…

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Boris on the dreamlands
A psychoanalasys Dr. Freud would be proud of

Come in, come in. Have a seat! Can I offer you some Vodka? No? Shame, spirits relaxes the mind and opens up its defenses for new ideas beyond the conventional horizon. While that is usually how charlatans and priests ply their trade, spirits should be applied with concideration to the company. But I am neither a priest nor a charlatan, I am Boris Vasiljev, court alienist to his imperial majesty Nikolaj the second of Mother Russia. I was trained by Dr Freud himself in Vienna and have held tenure att several of Europes most prestigous universities! And as for the spirits, I did not recommend it for the great number of benefits to your health and constitution, but because the things I will tell you in the hour or so to come is well beyond the pale when it comes to our understanding of the world.

The dreamlands my friends, a fantastic world where technology does not excist in any meaningfull sense of the word. Cameras, cars, electric lanterns and other marvels of technology cannto exist. Races of talking, sentient cats, marverlous wines and trains upon the backs of tentacled monstrosities can however. A place where you can will things into existance with training. But that is a tale for another time, what I wish to disseminate to you are the psycological implications of such a place.

In his masterfull piece “die Traumedeutung” or the “interpitation of dreams” Dr Freud wrote that dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious”. When we sleep and dream many of our egos defenses are down which allows some of our repressed thoughts and emotions to surface. While this is invaluable to our understanding of the self it is at the same time difficult and should be interpitated with care. The dream is manifested in two layers: The manifest content which is the wish fullfilment of our conscious mind and the symbolic meaning which is the message from our unconscious mind.

Now, how is this relevant you might ask? Well, because when you will something to exist in the dreamlands the result is the sum of your will, and the will is constituted by the conscious as well as the unconscious and the id. This means that what you get is bot always what you consciously wanted but what you unconsciously wanted. Case in point, my dear friend Edward Natt och Dag got a pink balle tutu instead of a parade uniform. While I am certain that he does not desire to escape to Molin Rouge and dress up as a man whom dresses up as a woman whom dresses up as a man, the rigors of a disciplined military life will create a repressed desire for the opposite as the mind seeks balance between it’s components. In short, we could end up getting what our unconscious needs instead of what our conscious wants. And this is nothing to be dismissed. If the dissonance is great enought the result could very well be something lethal. Repression does not follow the dictates of the rational mind, it is simply a primal function, a reaction to our way of life. A body and mind worked too hard for too long could very well unconsciously wish for a comatoes state as a counter-reaction to the extreme of the conscious strive towards even more exertion. Repression is dangerous and potent.

One should always be careful when whishing for things as they might just come true.
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Murder on the Dreamlands Express
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 5

The Dreamlands Express left Zar and after a while the investigators went to check on the madman. He was well tied up in the baggage compartment. They tried to question him but he was long gone the poor soul. “He does not constitute a danger to the passengers but for now I rather have him separated from them until he gets treatment” said Boris with a firm voice
(89 % Psychoanalysis rolling 3 on 1d3 for Sanity Points).

They could again hear the scratching sound from inside Karakov’s trunk but neglected to open it due to the smell of mustard gas. Heading back Professor Scott lost 2 Sanity for seeing a Being of Ib stuck in the ceiling corner. They notified Henry who had his suspicions who it could be behind this.

Black Jack was still missing and the investigators were bothered about this. Eventually Henry and Black Jack’s mother came to the investigators as they were enjoying the swimming pool and drinks, asking if they could help ut finding him. The investigators got dressed and walked around in the train looking for Black Jack.

They visited Karakov and asked him about his injury to his right hand. He said he had grabbed his knife under duress due to artillery fire. No one else had heard the artillery but Ian played along. A Psychology check revealed that Karakov was nervous and afraid of something. But he was reluctant to share any more details.

The kitchen was self-served by invisible powers, cleaning, making the dishes and taking care of the cloths. Professor Scott stole a knife and armed himself just in case. The kitchen lacked flooring and the hideous beast inunder had an eye ramming about the hide. Unnerving they left and visited the cats who seemed disturbed as Blackjack was missing.

In the Ladies’ Parlor they again met with the lovely Zsusza who repeated her promise to sing for them after the banquet tonight. She seemed relaxed and joyful but got concerned when they asked her about Blackjack. She had not seen him since breakfast.

The Sarnathians had stopped singing and as the investigators entered their huge salon they were offered grapes, wine, and cheese. They told the investigators more about their errand. They were to travel to Sona-Nyl and there meet with King Kuranes for a verdict on arbitration between them and the Beings of Ib. A conflict would finally be resolved and the Beings of Ib were looking for war damage retribution from Sarnath. The Sarnathinas kindly asked the investigators if they could help them negotiate themselves out of these demands, or even better, “neutralize” the problem all together. Edvard Night & Day told them that killing the Beings of Ib would look bad and raise suspicions for the meeting with King Kuranes. The Sarnathians seemed to think that if the Beings of Ib were not to show up at the conference in Sona-Nyl they would benefit from it. As a gesture of good faith the Sarnathians produced two crossbows (using Dreaming skill) and gave it to Frank and Ian. "Perhaps these can aid you in fixing the problem?

Back at their cabin Professor Scott noticed traces of smeared blood on their trunk. He opened it and almost fell to the floor as if something had hit him. Blackjack’s little bodie lay their dead with three large stabbing wounds. There was not enough blood at the location so he must have been killed elsewhere and then put here to incriminate the investigators. But who wanted Blackjack dead and why blame the investigators? They investigated the area and found tracks leading to the window and out on both sides. Could be two different assailants or one that came and went different directions. The marks looked identical. Edvard climbed out and followed them along the outside wall to Madame Bruja’s compartment. Her curtains were closed but he managed to get a sneak peak of her sitting by her desk writing. The heart shaped valise by her side as always.

Edvard tried to follow the marks going the other directions but missed his Climb check, and even fumbled twice! He lost his grip and fell hard towards the ground as the train sped on along the rocky coastline. The player held his breath and spent 5 Luck Points. In the last minute before hitting those hard rocks further down, a swift tentacle grabbed him by his ankle and put him safely back. Henry was right. The train beasts were instructed to not let anything fall off the train. That would help them in finding the murder weapon and solve this hideous crime.

Returning back and informing the others Professor Scott lost in and ran over to Madame Bruja’s compartment busting her door open. The others ran after to stop him and some what of a frackas was initiated. Madame Bruja was greatly annoyed and shut the door violently. “Get out of my compartment!”

We need to calm down and assess this meticulously” said Frank getting into his police detective role that he knew so well. “We have no evidence against Madame Bruja and the tracks do not only lead to her compartment, but also elsewhere. Let us investigate the other tracks and see where they lead to. Also we need to inform Henry about this” The investigators agreed and Professor Scott had cooled down. Henry was called and he gave the investigators the task of finding the murderer and as official investigators they now had the right to interview any of the passengers and staff, and search the entire premises. The Dreamlands Express was at their mercy for now.

Hermann climbed out the train now and followed the other tracks to the window of Mironim-Mer. “I knew it” he concluded. “I always suspected him of being up to no good”. Hermann climbed back and the investigators went to Mironim-Mer without any further ado.

The investigators had noticed that the rug was pulled back and disturbed. Professor Scott pulled away the rug and there was traces of blood and a skin carcass. Mironim-Mer denied any knowledge of it. The investigators asked Henry to bring the cats and identify the blood. It was cat blood. They also informed that the skin carcass was from a Shapechanger. The investigators pressed Mironim-Mer hard and accused him of the murder. He then admitted under duress to the murder but told them he had been in an alien monster form and in that form he had killed the kitten. His yellow eyes caught a red iris or a red dot inside it and he was struggling with himself ushering a few words before collapsing unconscious: “….I was mesmerized…. Her enemy….”

The investigators considered the Sorcerer. Was it him again? And who was it that Madame Bruja feared? That some one who wanted something that was hers? Or was Madame Bruja the sorcerer hidden in a female disguise? After all “Bruja” means “witch” in Spanish.

Hermann rolled for Cthulhu Mythos and Professor Scott for Occult (89 %). Their presumption was that Mironim-Mer was possessed hence the red iris in his eyes. The best way to free Mironim-Mer was to find the creature possessing him and killing it.

Mironim-Mer.png

To be continued…

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Lost dreams in Zar
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 4

The train left Dylath-Leen and the investigators got their much rewarded sleep. Waking up early the next day there was Frank, Hermann, Boris and Edvard. Odd how the Dreamlands manifestations interchanged the investigators…

Boris Vasilijev
Frank Patterson
Edvard Natt och Dag
Hermann Müller

They decided to look up that odd looking thin, pale man. They found him in the Men’s Saloon grabbing breakfast. With him were two of the Sarnathians and they seemed eager to talk to the man as well. They were pushing him on some matter but hesitated as the investigators walked in. “May we join you?” asked Boris as the man sat down. “Yes, my pleasure” he replied courteously. His name was Mironim-Mer and he was a Sarrubian wine merchant of the finest quality. The investigators remembered him slipping a bottle to Henry as he boarded last night in Dylath-Leen. He was courteous but distant and not much was conveyed. He did warn the investigators to get off at Zar as it was a dangerous place of broken dreams.

The Sarnathians were listening in to the conversation trying to catch the eye of the investigators, who were well aware of that. “I ignore them” said Boris player and tried to pump Mironim-Mer without success. Eventually the Sarnathians introduced themselves as Theophed and Caromel. “We are here on an important errand. And who might you be?” They were as always courteous but somewhat cool, almost arrogant with finesse. The conversation was short and polite and the Sarnathians seemed to have a delicate interest in the Waking World.

The Dreamland Express entered Zar and the investigators had a chat with Henry. Frank could not resist but had to ask him about the gloves and mask. “You did not wear them last time we saw you in 1893. What happened to you?” Frank’s player even rolled for Persuade whilst Boris and Edvard refused as they did not want to hurt or offend their friend Henry. “I had an accident” he said sadly. “There was a fire in 1895 aboard the train. I had to help my passengers. A woman and her daughter. Unfortunately I did not make it myself and hence got these severe burns.” Henry became rather distraught so the investigators quickly changed topic. Zar was no good! Henry warned them to get off there. “You might not return and we only stop there to save any lost dreamers.” Boris and Edvard smiled wryly. “Of course we have to get off there now that everyone warns us from it.

Zar.png

As the train pulled into Zar train station they could see the broken palaces and pillars that looked like ancient Greece. Not so many people, here and there they could spot a lone soul. Surprisingly at the station there was a man waiting. He looked odd in tattered clothes and wild hair. In his hand the remains of some paper note, perhaps a ticket. His eyes… There were no eyes. Just empty sockets. The investigators opened the window trying to see more and keep an eye on him as Henry went out to greet his new passenger. Suddenly the wild man tried to strangle Henry! The investigators went bananas with Edvard and Hermann jumping out the window to Henry’s rescue. Frank and Boris ran out through the ladder. The madman continued to strangle Henry who was turning blue. Hermann succeeded with a fighting maneuver (end strangle hold) and Henry was released. Frank drew his sword and cut him down over the left shoulder and arm for 9 damage. The madman fell prone to the ground (failed CON-roll due to massive damage). The tentacles intervened and hold the madman to the ground in all of his four limbs. Boris successfully applied First Aid to him so they could interrogate him. But he was long gone, mad from his time in Zar. “The things I have seen!” he cried. “I tore my own eyes out, yet I can still see!” He clutched his broken ticket that had bite marks all over it.

Henry did not want to take the madman aboard his train fearing the safety of his passengers. But the investigators insisted. Boris succeeded with Pyschoanalysis and cooled the madman down so they could put manacles on him. Boris diagnosis was that he could cure the madman so he would calm down for longer periods at least. With that the players rolled for Persuade with a bonus die and again succeeded. Henry let them take the madman aboard. They chose between the Padded Compartment or the Baggage area. Henry told them about the “odd creatures” in the Padded Compartment and so the investigators chose the Baggage area where the madman was tied to his manacles and a post railing.

The investigators decided to investigate Zar despite all the warnings. As the wanted off the train and walked around the city of broken dreams their mind was affected negatively and they had to roll for Sanity. All succeeded (1 Sanity point penalty) except for Hermann who got 3 Sanity point penalty (1d4). They met with some lost dreamers, poets, artisans and artists. They were mellow almost sad. Nothing and nothing just an empty void. But when Boris asked about the Sorcerer they suddenly woke up. “Beware of the Sorcerer” they said. “Beware of the Sorcerer.” Boris asked them where the Sorcerer was but they did not know.

Back at the train they noticed a slimy, jelly creature stuck up at the corner of the ceiling. It was just stuck there looking at them. It had tender claws but did not say anything or even move. The stench and foulness surrounding the creature was so bad that the investigators had to make a CON-roll. Again it was Hermann who failed and got nausea so he had to leave (penalty die on all skill checks for now) immediately back to the compartment. As they were moving about Karakov came running from his sleeping car (Car nr 6) with his hand in bandage and it looked like blood as well. He ran past them in haste.

As the investigators were about to enter their compartment they heard the Sarnathians sing and play guitar in their compartment. A party was going on. “Perhaps we should join them?” said Boris and smiled hoping to see vodka in their bar.

To be continued…

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Call of Cthulhu "Keeper Deck"
Enter cards of the mythos

I am happy to inform the followers of our campaign that we are from now on using the Call of Cthulhu “Keeper Cards” that add a bit of excitement and tension to the game. These cards are divided onto four different decks that can be played out in different circumstances. They can be played immediately or at any later time during the game according to the instructions of the Game Keeper of Lore. That is I, Caligula.

CoC_Cards.JPG

The decks are:

’’Curious Characters Deck" that add NPCs to the game in different places and encounters. They can be both allies or enemies. Sometimes you cannot tell until after a while…

“The Weapons and Artifacts Deck”. Finding treasure and alien creations have never been more exciting. But be careful, do not press that red button just yet…

“The Unfortunate Events Deck”. Oh sorry, did you fumble again, said you? Pull a card and see what happens…

“The Phobia Deck”. That sanity problem again… Only one investigator in the group has developed a phobia so far. Edvard Night & Day after the scar in his face when he destroyed the blood red fezes. He got Agrophobia, fear that everybody is staring at his scarred face…

The cards will be implemented from tonight’s extra session at 21:00 CET. We play until midnight. Muahahahaha!

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Zsusza and the Sarnathians
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 3

Due to extensive travel among the group we played this session using Google Hangouts. It worked quite well and we will continue playing online next Tuesday 4/4 as well. We actually play four Call of Cthulhu sessions in five weeks which is a new record. The session today was shorter than usual, only two hours. About half the normal sessions. Next Tuesday we will play a full length 4-5 hour session again.

The_carriages_Dreamland_Express.png

Above: The Carriages of the Dreamland Express. The investigators are residing in Sleeping Car #1 (Carriage nr 5) together with Madame Bruja, Miss Zsusza and the pale thin man (name unknown). The Sarnathians, Karakov, and MacKenzie are residing in Sleeping Car #2 (Carriage nr 6).

As the monster-train started to leave Dylath-Leen the investigators peeked out the window and saw a figure running after it. “Hey, wait for me!”. It was a young woman in a black cloak and sporty wear underneath. She ran like the wind but the train was too fast and she struggled to make it. Professor Scott wanting to help her tried using the “Dreaming” skill to make the tentacles help her. He failed the roll. The young woman ran all along the station but failed to catch the train. As a last resort she jumped for it but missed…. As she dived towards the ground, one of the long tentacles simply caught her in motion and put her on board the train with grace.

Zsusza.png

Above: Zsusza enters the train.

The investigators rushed to the last carriage (nr 10, the cats’ compartment) to see how she fared. She was already talking to the conductor Henry who was still wearing his odd mask. The young woman was introduced as Zsusza and she kissed the investigators for trying to help her. Henry had explained Professor Scott’s trial with Dreaming. How did he know…?

Blackjack, the little kitten, stuck his nose inside the cats’ carriage and seemed to want company. Professor Scott picked him up and the two friends were back together. A student by the name of Alexander Briarwood (new investigator played by Jesper, see “Characters” here at Obsidian) entered also and fascinated by the investigators he decided to join them. He was a student, an intern, with specialization in forensics (89%) and chemistry. The brawling and fighting? No, he preferred to avoid those elements (Dodge 89 %).

It was now past 2 am and Ian Flannery decided to call it quits. The others remained up and went to the Men’s Saloon for a drink. After a while the elegant group of six people that boarded in Dylath-Leen with some locomotion came in singing and partying. They poured drinks and danced spontaneously. Professor Scott and Alexander tried to converse them and they responded politely, yet with a distance. They told the investigators they were Sarnathians and they had an errand to attend to, hence taking the Dreamlands Express. Both Alexander and Professor Scott tried to dig deeper (rolled for Spot Hidden, Listen, Psychology – all failed!) but did not succeed to penetrate the Sarnathians polite facade.

The clock was getting closer to 4 am and the remaining two investigators decided to end the night. As a last thing Alexander drew a sketch of the woman he had been talking to mostly, a certain Besweet. There was something about this group of people. They were so handsome, intelligent, highly civilized yet arrogant and cool. They looked like people but where did they come from?

Alexander kept wondering where he was as his eyes closed and he was swept away in the night of the Dreamlands…

To be continued…

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