Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hello Again part 1

A couple years back we had one of those games where we just couldn’t keep a consistent group together.  A roulette of six different players, two at a time stepped in and out after two or three sessions. We nearly gave up, but the mystery our GM dreamed up was just too damn good, even the restarts were interesting. So finally after a whole year, we managed to nail down two players and make it through the story. Now, I didn’t run the first two parts of the game, so I can only tell you what happened from my perspective, and then pick up where our old characters left off, so here it goes:

Ernst Fuchs

Part 1

Eckehard the ‘half-aelf’ is sitting, legs crossed and resting on a stool when a burly man in maille struts into the lonely hostel. The only spattering of buildings on the forest road for miles, everyone in the common room is a traveler. Still, Eckehard stands out. His inhuman features always attract the attention of xenophobes and bullies in this part of the world. Mert, the armored brute that just entered took immediate notice- too bad for him. Mert got only one insult out of his mouth before realizing his mistake. Eckehard moved like a snake. His strikes were without mercy and vicious. In seconds Mert was dead. In the ensuing chaos a curiosity- er rather, a bizarre scene unfolded. A woman but not a woman, a moving porcelain doll the size of a woman with an expressionless face, as if it were a permanent plaster mold, entered the bar. Dumbfounded, Eckehard and the three tavern patrons that had stood up to help him (though unnecessary) somehow joined together and make their way to place called Kine on a wagon with a strange box just long enough to house the parties strange new porcelain friend.

Presented straight off with this mystery, it wasn’t long after that a new one unfolded. This woman (a PC) named Camilla had no memories (neither did the player). She was obviously not human and had all the emotions of a broom. That said, she could speak and reason, she took suggestions literally, and she carried on tirelessly. Joining us was an old magician, a poor knight, and a little woman named Coco. Coco carried nothing with her yet seemed to have whatever was needed whatever the situation (a small mystery to the other PCs).

Map of Kine. Any old town will work, but we used this one by Dyson:

Upon arriving, the PCs discovered the town had been struck with the plague, a disease the residents called the Red Death. The town was sparse and few people were ever about. An impressive castle loomed over the town, owned by one Lord Silver. Apparently, he had not been seen for many weeks. The only other remarkable feature in the town was a very old looking church at its center.

After a small confrontation with the lone town guard (who demanded the visitors leave their weapons with him, but settled on allowing Lord Eckehard, a noble, to keep their weapons), the PCs made their way to an inn. Once entered they met Brill, the Innkeeper, a well-to-do entrepreneur with a knowledge of local nobility and a collector. This is where the mystery begins. It’s discovered that Mert works for Brill and Brill works for Lord Silver. Camilla was destined for delivery to this very tavern. What’s more, there is a strange painting in Mert’s wagon. Upon close inspection, a note is found in the wagon and another within the painting. The first says

Mert, you are late. Time is growing short. I require my merchandise delivered to Kine immediately. Bring it to the usual location by mid-fall and I will consider forgiving your delay.

The second says

…I awoke in my sleep again but this time the cellar was filled with offerings. The way was clear and I entered the city of my Lady.

This peaks the PCs curiosity. Especially when they realize there is another painting in the tavern that was clearly painted by the same hand. When they get a chance the PCs remove the backing of that painting and find another note.

…so I knew she called for me and me alone. Why else would she let me into her city? I opened the door with their blood. Fed the rats in the walls. Soon the rats will be sated. The rats. May the rats eat your eyes. Eat my offerings…

Thoroughly creeped out the PCs retire to their rooms but not after noting that Brill and his wife Nala, a couple well into their middle years, are fostering a young son that they suspect is not related to them. They seem overly protective of him.

With the memory of the notes fresh in their minds, scratches and growls coming through the walls in the night were needless to say, unsettling. So much so that two of the party left that night. In the morning, when the three remaining members commiserated over their miserable nights spent awake, they were joined by two others that were also staying at Brill’s Tavern (new PCs). These newcomers seemed curious as well. So when the PCs made their way to the church at the center of town the others joined.

The church was an ancient temple to the Green Lady, a cult that exists only on the fringe of the Free Realm. Their stop at the church revealed only the symptoms of the Red Death and that Lord Silver was indeed missing. It didn’t seem they would get any answers there, so they moved on to Lord Silver’s castle.

Now at this point, why stay? Why not leave at the first mention of the plague? Here's why, unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Eckehard is not a half-aelf, not at all (in fact that’s impossible, no one is a half-aelf but it's an often used lie). His blood is tainted with the blood of Nobles, something that burns hot within his veins, like a rash, always itching, driving him mad. His one solace is a second obsession. He seeks the Lady in Black, one of the long dead Masters now worshiped as a god. His search for her led him to Kine and now the notes seem to confirm it. Coco is a mercenary and Camilla follows orders. They seem useful to him so he feigns lordly interest in the matters of the Silvers, all the while probing for a path to his prize, the Lady in Black.

The PCs gain entrance to Lord Silver’s castle and find a sick and horribly drunk Roderick Silver, son of Jorg, the missing lord. He coughs blood like all the other plague victims except he is mostly lucid and intensely angry. He is outraged at any mention of his father but is prone to ramblings whenever he is mentioned. He raves about his Uncle, a man named Erasmus and his fathers leaving to find him. In the main hall, there are paintings of his father and a rather severe-looking man, whom the party assumed is Erasmus. By Roderick’s third outburst Eckehard has had enough, he surprises everyone in the party with a spell, putting young Roderick asleep and giving them time to explore the castle.

The explorers sneak upstairs where they find the study and a great oak desk. On it, they find an unfinished letter.

Brill, I have word that one of my uncle’s paintings was sold years ago to a collector in the east. It is imperative that I reacquire it. Have your contacts

They also find a note in the pile of papers, written in frantic letters, in the same pen as before but as if written quickly and with an unsteady hand.


At this point the group begins worrying that Roderick will soon wake, so quickly they move to through the other rooms. Much of the upstairs seemed mundane if not strangely undisturbed except for a set of large doors. With some fiddling the party realizes it is closed by an iron bar on the opposite side. The doors are wide set but the crack between them is dark (despite the fact that there should be plenty of windows in this room). Coco makes a quick attempt to get through the door but the sudden shouts from below alert them that Roderick is now awake. The party quickly makes their way to a set of stairs. As they descend they realize it doesn’t lead to a back entrance. In fact, it leads to an underground labyrinth.

There was a lot to explore in the tunnels, murals of a shrouded woman, sometimes depicted with another very similar woman or spiders, ghost walls, booby-trapped steps… but we’re going to fast forward to an underground chamber with a lever. When pulled, the ceiling pulls away and a path into a spacious room is revealed. The adventurers quickly realized they must be in the church at the center of town. It’s not long before two wandering monks discover them. A young man named Brother Maynard is nice enough when he finds them considering they were four strangers snooping around the chapel at midnight through a tunnel entrance he never knew existed. He calls for the grandmaster, the forgetful but venerated head of the church, and pretty soon there is a small gathering of monks. The players do their best to talk their way out of the situation but they’re shown the door. On their way out they recognize one of the monks as they pass him in the cloisters- Jorg Silver, the missing lord of Kine. Eckehard calls to Lord Silver. Without warning Eckehard collapses. Jorg disappears. Fade to black.

**End Part 1**

Part 2: Eckehard wakes from a dream in which millions of eyes surround and constantly watch him. The struggle to regain consciousness leaves him weary and confused. He is in the pitch dark surrounded by damp walls and bars, and there’s something more, the itch in the back of his mind, the ever present craving, a yearning for living flesh grows ever-steadly until any and all sensations are consumed by one, hunger.

Camilla and Coco find themselves in a fog, riding in a wagon. When Camilla looks to her left, she recognizes the wagon driver. It is Mert. This snaps her back to reality, as if waking from a coma, she very bluntly proclaims, “I saw you die.”

Ernst Fuchs

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