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**SPOILERS** "Horror on the Orient Express" posts contain spoilers for my group's playthrough and the campaign in general. My ...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Horror on the Orient Express: Session 27; Belgrade, Part Two

From the start, our campaign has been on the Pulp side of ToC. For instance I've let players put points into Magic, and we currently have 3 out of 4 characters frequently using spells of sort (though each character has a different take on what they can do, from a Turkish scholar to Church of England medium). I’ve started pushing the nature of "magic" as a major subplot, building up to the idea that all Earth's sorceries derive from the Aklo language, which was developed in Atlantis, and ultimately based on the symbols carved on the Sedefkar Simulacrum itself.

In the last session the Investigators encountered a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath. Despite hints that confronting such an unknown dangerous threat might not be a good idea, they were determined to fight it -- which they did mainly through spells (with some help from molotov cocktails). Rather than have them be devoured (as a straight fight would have gone) or somehow avoid the combat, I let them go at, with their efforts successful at keeping the horror from fully manifesting in the material world. But they began to experience surges of power associated with the parts of their bodies that were bound to the Simulacrum pieces they had found so far. I gave them an extra die of pool points to spend on their magic — with the consequence that the higher the role, the more their body was marked by the tower. Our Turkish scholar rolled a 6 and now was the symbols of the Left Arm of the Simulacrum branded into his own arm. In the next sessions I’m going to continue to press the idea that the magic the Investigators are using may ultimately derive from the Simulacrum and that they themselves are contributing to the drawing the Skinless One to the Earth and immanentizing an eschaton they think they are preventing.

This scenario was based on elements of Eastern European folklore, something one of my players had some familiarity with. At the climax of the ultimate encounter, I began to describe how the quaint country cottage the Investigators had found was transforming and lifting up into the air. That player starting exclaiming: “No… don’t!. Don’t do it Sam!” He foresaw, correctly, that the cottage was about to stand up on giant chicken legs, becoming the walking cottage of the Baba Yaga.

It was also an interesting moment when the Investigators had to face the necessity of saving the local village from this Walking Horror, even though there was no love lost between the villagers and the characters at this point. They personally wouldn’t have minded having the locals be devoured by Shub-Niggurath, but of course couldn’t really let that happen…

The next session is a return to the Dreamlands with several characters and story elements from early in the campaign making reappearances. It’s technically a side story, but I want to use it as an opportunity to reinforce the players’ awareness that both game, and the world, is moving towards an ultimate resolution. I frequently catch myself thinking “If I do this or that, it will be too obvious and spoil the mystery,” but I know that I actually do want make parts of the story obvious at this point, so the players can make true and informed decisions about how to respond to them.