Strange #5: Off the Rails

In the previous game I had set the party up to travel to the Monastery of St. Ignatius and find a book that would help them get off this recursion. When they were at Braithwaite College, they met an NPC named Ambrose White who told them to convince the abbot of the monastery to loan them this book. Well, we played a board game the next game session since I hadn’t finished writing up the adventure. When we next picked up the game somehow “convince the abbot to loan you the book” had turned into “we need to break into the secret vault and steal it”.

I had spent weeks crafting a murder mystery for them to solve, but it took a back seat to figuring out how to break into a hidden vault without having the skill to do so. I finally called it quits and ruled they just got the damn thing so they could get off the recursion.

I’ll admit I was in a pretty pissy mood that night. Earlier in the day, one of the players had told me he wasn’t enjoying the horror games I’d been running. I felt like I’d been wasting my time writing all these adventures, so when it derailed I had little incentive to course correct.

Some lessons learned on this one:

  • I should have re-run the encounter with Ambrose White to refresh everybody’s memory.
  • I needed to make the abbot a more sympathetic character. He should ask the characters for their help instead of dithering. The players needed to have some reason to trust that he’d help them out if they could solve the mystery. In retrospect, I should have made him a friend of Ambrose White.
  • I should have used GM intrusions to get them to ask the right questions. It was a murder mystery and they skipped over stuff like: “Where was the last place you saw him?” and “How about looking through the victim’s stuff?”

I still plan to post the adventure here. I’m in the process of tweaking it to make it easier for other GMs to run.

O. G. Wells and R. Keith Yanders players didn’t make this session.

Kyle Awerbruck writes

We left for the monastery early in the morning, and by mid-day we had arrived at the dirt road leading into the “sacred” place.  Half the way to the monastery we saw a man running down the road towards us.  He was being pursued by a pack of 5 wolves, one was enormous.  They ran him down before we could help him and the wolves quickly turned to us with the joy of killing in their eyes.  One hurled itself onto Abigail and knocked her off her horse.  We killed the pack leader and some of the remaining wolves fled back into the dark woods.  We approached the man who had been mauled by the beasts and were surprised to find he was not dead yet.  He informed us that a man named Martins had been murdered at the monastery and that something was not right with the place.  Go figure! Something amiss at the monastery, I would have never guessed it. He was wearing he garb of a hired mason. My dream of the helpful friendly monks was quickly fading.  He was soon released from this hell world and we packed him on the back of my horse to return him to the brothers.

A short time later we arrived at a small opening in the woods, the monastery at last.  Our presence was noticed and we were met with cool, even a somewhat cold greeting.  A large burly monk, who had been badly burned and showed multiple combat scars asked us why we came to the monastery, basically implying we should turn around and go back.  We told him about the fellow who had died and had to convince him let us talk to some of the other monks so that they could give the man his last rights and bury the poor soul.  There were multiple craftsmen huts surrounding he monastery and the north walls of the monastery were under construction. We asked the burly monk about the murder of Martins and he told us the man had had his throat slit and had been left under the scaffolding by the construction area.

The burly monk begrudgingly led us into the monastery where we were met by the Abbot and a couple other monks.  Again we were questioned as to why we had come.   Ambrose White had warned us that the monks would not just give us the book, or so called “Codex”, so the professor gave them some BS about being interested in the architecture of the place.  Again we were asked to leave, and I only narrowly convinced them to allow us to stay by re-iterating the foolishness of traveling anywhere in this hell hole at night, especially in the thick woods.  Burly monk was more than willing to cast us out and allow us to fend for ourselves at night, stating that we looked like people who could handle ourselves.  The Abbot sourly conceded to let us stay the night, but insisted we must leave in the morning.

Then a younger smaller monk led us to our host rooms.  We asked him about the recent murder and he also said this man Martins had had his throat slit by the north wall construction site.  He informed us that Martins was the chief foreman of the masons and there was some tensions with Martins and the current Abbot that the work on the cathedral was not progressing fast enough.  He also informed us that an older monk named Peter had also recently passed away, and he was convinced the old man just died of old age.  So did the current Abbot off his predecessor then off this Martins man as well?  Maybe they are all werewolves and we will not survive the night.  I had not noticed if it was a full moon or not, DAMN!  That beast on the road could have been one of the monks.  Something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark.

Well we need find where this vault is, find the book, and get the hell out of here.  So we all casually searched around the monastery, the professor and Abigail pretending to study the “Architecture” while really looking for where the vault may be or any sign of a sealed off place. The young monk had informed us that Peter had been interned in the crypts underneath the monastery, maybe the vault was there?  Maybe the vault was in the Abbot’s quarters?  While scoping out the monastery one of us also found what looked like a large library with the door locked.  Another potential place for this vault.

Skinner and I also headed outside to check out the location where Martins body had been found.  Skinner with his keen senses quickly noticed that there was no blood anywhere near the crime scene, which confirmed the monks were lying to us and that the victims throat had not been slit.  We talked to one of the nearby masons and he told us that Martins was disliked by many of the workers and that he himself had even had thoughts of killing him.  He also mentioned that Martins was a big man and that he would not have gone down without a fight and no one at the monastery looks any worse for the wear.  Maybe the Abbot is hiding some monstrosity in the crypts that needs a fresh soul every so often.

Damn, there are just too many monks here to just kill them all and take the book.  We are told the monks pray at all hours of the night so sneaking into the crypt or library will be difficult.  We got invited to dine with the Abbot so we decided to wait and see if we can find any additional information about the “Codex” at the dinner.

Skinner was in a rare form that evening, the lies, compliments, and utter bullshit that spewed from his mouth were absolutely amazing to behold and the most amazing part of it all was that the Abbot fell for every last bit of it and hell I started believing him too.  By the end of the evening the Abbot was anxious to get up early the next morning to present us the coveted “Codex” and to help us leave this god forsaken “world”.  We passed the night without being eaten, infected, impaled, dismembered, or possessed.  The Abbot happily gave us the “codex” in the morning and saw us off with a large basket of hearty food.  I have absolutely no idea how Skinner was able to pull this off but I give him full credit for saving my sanity and getting us back to Earth.  I OWE HIM BIG TIME!!

With “Codex” in hand, Abigail and the Professor figured out how to travel, “translate”, back home.  We headed back to the old corn field and the professor initiates our travel.  Skinner has the ability to hasten this travel, and I have the power to ease the physical burden so we do not need as much recovery time afterwards. For a second I see what looks like a big red star but then everything shifts and we “awaken” in the middle of a crowd just beneath the Space Needle in Seattle.  I feel my trusty .45 tucked into my waistline.  Home sweet home!

We are really here at last.  The air, the crowds, the sky,… everything seems like a gift given back to us after our last three weeks in hell.  Then I notice a man sitting on a bench calmly staring at us.  No one else seems to notice that we just materialized here out of thin air, but hey I am not complaining, we are home. The gentleman gets up and starts walking towards us when then I realize I recognize him.  I have seen him before at the “Estate” main office.  He calmly walks up to me, reaches into his pocket, pulls out a flask and hands it to me without saying a thing.   I open it and smell the wonderful scent of Laphroaig scotch.  I take a swig, then I take another.  Home sweet home!

The Estate gentleman smiles kindly and says “you looked like you could use a drink, we have been waiting for you all for a while”.  We all start peppering him with questions and he holds up his hand and says, “let me take you back to my office, it is best to answer your questions in a less public setting”.  He leads us back towards a big black suburban with dark windows which gets me wondering about my GTO.  I ask him about it fearing the worse.  He smiles again and says “we got it, all fixed up too.”  Home sweet home!

We arrive back at the Estate compound and are escorted past the main office into a very nice conference room.  He explains that we kind of left a mess behind us, but that they have some pull and we are all clear legally.  He gives us information about something called “the strange”, about “dark matter”, about these other worldly places called “recursions”.  He indicates that very few people have the ability to travel between these places and that we are quite unique.  We ask about the Hirudo and he tells us that they are not from earth.  They are from a recursion called Ruk.  Supposedly Ruk is not like other recursions, it is older than earth itself and the inhabitants of Ruk have been here since the dawn of man.  He indicates the Ruk are dangerous, that the earth has somehow trapped them here and they want to destroy it.  The Estate is some type of covert organization that is trying to prevent this from happening.  He offers us jobs with the Estate.

I do a reality check and ask if they cooperate or work with the Federal government.  He replies that they do not, which gives me a better feeling about this organization.  Abigail (or Noomi) is still leery about the Estate, and rightfully so, she has been on the run for a long time and trusts few.  Her crystal seems to be something that the Hirudo greatly desire and I believe it is in all our best interests to help her keep this item away from them. Ambrose White had recommended we find help dealing with the Hirudo. I think we should take this gentleman up on his offer for now and see where it leads us.

Still a lot of questions remain.  I wonder, did my father work for the Estate?  Did Hirudo kill my brother?  Is Ambrose a member of the Estate?  Should we trust these people?  Is there more Noomi is not telling us?  How the hell did Skinner pull that off?  🙂

It is nice to be home.

>LOG ENTRY #13953D
am logging this entry from my laptop—from earth! what a f—ing relief. now i only have to be constantly vigilant for the hirudo, not werewolves and pumpkinhead scarecrows in addition. we left the dyck and pyckle and on the way to the st. ignatius monastery, ran into dire wolves on the road chasing some poor slob. after ripping that man to shreds, they turned their attention to us. their alpha knocked me off my mount (don’t care much for horses anyway) and pinned me to the ground—luckily it only got one bite in before we dispatched him and a couple of his pack. the rest fled. before he died, the wolfbait man let us know that “martins” was dead and things were not good at the monastery. arrived there and talked our way into staying the rest of the day and the night. kyle and skinner took the opportunity to look into the murder of martin the master mason and also to look for the vault containing the codex. martin had been tasked with building the monastery and church and apparently was not at all popular—the list of suspects seemed too long to know where to start. our suspicions fell on one of the monks, but which? none seemed to want us here and frankly, our primary goal to acquire the codex took precedence. mendal and i used the cover of being there to survey the architecture to snoop out the crypt entrance, but there was no good way to access it without attracting much attention. same for the library—locked and off-limits to us. we opted to take dinner with the monks and during the meal, skinner disgorged the biggest and most detailed conglomeration of lies i have ever witnessed about our righteous quest for enlightenment and education. we all sat agape at his ingenuity, and our host must have been equally impressed, for in the morning the abbot granted us access to the library including the vault containing the codex. the murder investigation forgotten, we studied the codex and memorized its secrets. the dissertation (obviously self published and not of this world) gave us the knowledge we needed. we were able to enter a translation trance initiated by mendal (for an instant i felt that we were going astray and that was terrifying, let me tell you) that enabled us to arrive back in seattle just about where we left. a man was waiting for us. he took us back to “the estate” campus and disclosed more arcana about this esoteric infrastructure they call “the strange”. he offered a job (and some measure of protection and strength against the hirudo), and although i am still unsettled by all this, i feel a sense of purpose that i cannot remember having, since…

From the desk of R. Keith Yanders:

Journal entry 4578 Back home! Back home! Back home! Man it feels good to be back home……although I can’t remember a damn thing that happened…’s like my mind skipped a day…oh well. I saw this in the newspaper when I got back and had to paste this here:

Dr. Eugene Humperschmitz, well-known psychiatrist and leading expert on male genitalia, was arrested yesterday on charges of sexual assault and battery. The arrest comes after an 18 month-long investigation into allegations that Dr. Humperschmitz had been using his place of business to have unwanted sexual encounters with his male Asian clients. Dr. Humperscmitz’s ex-wife, world-famous swimsuit model Candy P. (Humperschmitz) LaAnde is quoted as saying: “(Humperschmitz) was an abusive drunk who had a weird infatuation with Chinese wang.” Neither Dr. Humperschmitz nor his attorneys could be reached for comment.


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