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The Cody Book Club

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1×03: Day Four

  • The massive … thing descending from the sky passes over the now stopped truck and heads in the direction of the immense crater that was a large section of Cody, Wyoming, hours earlier. Tentacle-like things emerge from it and meet similar ones now reaching up from the crater. To the horror of those in the truck, the tentacles combine and the larger craft appears to dock … or at least that’s what they hope it’s doing. Soon after, the ground shakes and hundred of missile-like things are launched from the alien construction and vanish over the horizon in all directions.
  • Pressing on to the south with Chandler acting as a scout on his ATV, Reece angles the truck toward a known ranch where he wants to regroup and figure out their next steps. They find the ranch empty of people and spend a few minutes confirming that there are no surprise bodies lying around. After finding none, they turn toward examining the corpse of the bug they took with them from the firefight earlier. It is quickly determined that this thing is only superficially a “bug” as it seems to be a mixed up mess of numerous
  • And then, to their surprise and horror, the corpse begins to move!
  • Burroughs and Heinlein react first and unload on the body to ensure that it stays dead; when it seems to pull something from his belt, Heinlein, thinking it is a grenade, soccer kicks it away, then turns to cover his son. It does not explode, however, and several of the team decide to investigate it in more depth. They discover it seems to be a smaller bug of some sort but it has been smashed so its functionality is unclear.
  • There are four survivors in the truck, three of whom are injured. Curtis Washington is a local deputy and has a head injury; Sandra Hart is a rancher with a broken arm; Shane Reddy is from out of town and was on vacation – he is the only one uninjured; and then, there is Robert Little, whom John has little respect or interest in. Robert immediately seeks out alcohol and begins guzzling it. At the same time, Sandra begins pestering the team for a return to Cody to rescue her husband who she saw being abducted, by the bugs; when it is properly pointed out that the team needs more people and a lot more guns, Shane mentions off-hand that he knows a guy who is a prepper with actual machine guns and rockets.
  • John and James go apart from the others along with Julie’s body. Together, they assemble a small cairn of rocks over her while John gives her a traditional Arapaho funeral service. Reece discreetly joins them and uses this as a way to momentarily allow his grief for his parents to come to surface. Robert is noticeably absent, which John notes with some fury.
  • Upon discovering a diesel-fueled ranch truck that still runs, the team load up the two functioning vehicles up with spare supplies before finally crashing for several hours. When they depart the still empty ranch, Heinlein pauses long enough to free the animals, much to the approval of Reece and Sandra, both of whom have ranching backgrounds. Along the way, overhead, they observe a pair of Air Force jets engaging against one of the bug craft much to everyone’s pleasure, but this turns to despair when both jets are easily shot down.
  • They press on to Meeteetse where they discover the locals are trying to determine their next course of action. Some Cody survivors have managed to stumble their way into the town, so the locals are aware of the attack in some capacity. Here, Curtis and Sandra intend to remain behind due to their injuries when the team depart, intending on heading west to Jackson where Shane’s prepper friend resides. Heinlein is all for leaving Robert as well, but young James asks the drunk to accompany; unwilling to let his son down, John snatches the bottle out of Robert’s hands and warns him in a low voice to get his shit together or Heinlein will bury him somewhere in the desert. He isn’t joking.
  • At dawn, they set out again, leaving the diesel-powered truck behind. They head south for some time until they note a crashed … pod of some sort in the yard of a house. Realizing that this is one of the things launched the previous night, the team decide to investigate further, leaving behind Shane, a now sober (and freaked out) Robert, and young James (who is wearing Burroughs’ second-chance body armor). Advancing tactically, they discover the house has been broken into and is filled with some sort of strange secreted resin. Inside, they discover at least one person who is stuck in the resin … and then, strange critters start lunging out of the darkness to attack! The team withdraw, though Chandler tears the survivor free. Outside, Pratchett-Wells goes into full-on medic mode and stabilizes the mortally wounded man. Deeming the house a lost cause, the team pull back to the truck and ATV.
  • They press on to Thermopolis where Burroughs debriefs the local authorities who are ignorant of Cody’s fate; the badly injured man pulled from the house is given over to local medical experts. Not seeing anything else they can accomplish here, the team mount up again and head out. They pass through Shoshoni some time later, pausing long enough to update the local authorities in the same way.
  • Upon reaching Grandfather’s house, John and James enter alone, knowing that the crotchety old man probably won’t react well to a bunch of strangers on his property. They find him in the basement, sitting in his chair and mummified. It’s another loss for John and an unexpected one at that. He brings the others in to let them know and have Pratchett-Wells check out the body to ensure it isn’t foul play; the EMT looks over Grandfather’s body and theorizes that this is due to a massive dose of radiation.
  • At about that moment, James speaks up: Grandfather’s “no-no room” is unlocked. John steps into the closet to investigate and is momentarily blinded by a flash of light. An electronic voice speaks, using a foreign language that John does not recognize; the back of the closet slides open, revealing … an advanced-looking control panel in a bunker of some sort.

Player Notes:

  • The delay in this recap is entirely my fault. I was feeling lazy.
  • Well … crap. John was expecting to get a data dump from Grandfather … and now he’s dead! It’s been a tough couple of days for Heinlein (and Burroughs too, since he lost his parents the night before. But he doesn’t count since he’s not writing these!)
  • I was fully expecting facehuggers in that house because Gigermann has an unhealthy attachment to the Aliens franchise.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

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1×03: Day Three (Continued)

  • Debris has finally stopped falling and all of the characters find themselves buried under dirt due to what appears to be a massive explosion deeper within Cody. They immediately begin digging themselves out. Reece is the first out, and he quickly starts trying to extract others so they can begin working on search-and-rescue ops for other potential survivors.
  • During the SAR op, Chandler discovers the body of Reece’s mother, but does not advise him at the moment, thinking that the deputy sheriff needs to focus. John also finds his ex, Julia, but she’s pinned down and clearly mortally wounded; with their son freaking out over this, John promises to look after him and holds her hand until she passes. Later, he will be disgusted to learn that Julia’s useless boyfriend, Richard, somehow survived with minor injuries.
  • Few of those pulled from the debris are alive and most that are still alive happen to be mortally wounded beyond what Wells is capable of dealing with as he’s only a paramedic. Among those grievously injured is Reece’s father who passes away soon after.
  • At Reece’s direction, the survivors endeavor to get clear via the truck (and Chandler’s ATV) that is half-buried as well. They are now on a time-table as Chandler, the expert in landslides, is greatly concerned that the whole mess that was the Burroughs ranch is going to collapse entirely. As they are struggling to get the truck clear, a squad of the attacking bugs top the rise, forcing those upright to scramble for cover and ready weapons.
  • It takes a great deal of firepower to drop these things, and in the process, the other surviving, uninjured sheriff takes a round to the head which kills him instantly. Fortunately, he is the only casualty, but even one is too much. When the last of the bugs has finally stopped moving, the team scramble to make good their escape, pausing only briefly to strap one of the dead bugs on the back of Chandler’s ATV (so they can examine it in more detail later.)
  • As they flee to the south, some of the survivors are able to see large flying … things erupt from the ground and take up a stationary position over the ruins of Cody, though they have spotlights and seem to be searching for something. Abruptly, an immense, ground-shaking trumpet-like sound is heard coming from the south.
  • And then, they see something else descending to the south…

Player Notes:

  • The delay in this recap is entirely my fault. I was feeling lazy.
  • I’d already mentioned to Gigermann that the firefight which dominated the back half of the session felt entirely too static somehow, though I don’t know how it could have been better. We got a clue about how much damage we need to dish out to drop one of the bugs but in retrospect, they probably should have been more aggressive and acted more tactically. Still, it’s early days and with the way we were rolling, a TPK would not have been out of the question if they’d pressed us harder.
  • I had been considering whether to buy Julia as an Ally for Heinlein in order to keep her alive, but alas, I was too late.
  • I’d already joked with Giger that somewhere, there was a Lieutenant Commander Shepard who has been warning everyone about this attack but nobody listened to him or her…

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

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1×02: Day Three

  • Having learned that Seattle was evidently the target of some sort of attack, Burroughs attempts to learn more, but only knows that there is a ham radio operator with eyes on and he’s been iffy in terms of contact.
  • As Wells is pressed into service, Burroughs opts to wait to tell Heinlein that he is being released and charges are being dropped until Julia arrives to take James home. This irritates Heinlein, but the revelation that he’s suffering from radiation poisoning is bothering him more!
  • Having been on duty for several days straight, Chandler heads toward his motel room where he’s planning on trying to get his ATV functional again (which he does), while Burroughs and Heinlein head toward Burroughs’ apartment (since Heinlein doesn’t actually live in Cody) so they can all get some sleep. Wells, however, is put back to work at the hospital.
  • Around 1700 local, a pair of F-15s conduct an unexpected flyover and are clearly looking for … something. Attempts to contact them are unsuccessful and they eventually disappear over the horizon.
  • Word begins to spread: the mayor is having a town meeting where he will lay out the plan for moving forward. Burroughs, Chandler, Heinlein and Wells all attend to learn what they can. Evidently, on Friday, everyone blacked out for 11 hours and 38 minutes and that there was a massive EMP that has rendered the vast majority of electronics useless. Thirty people in Cody have died as the result of this. He also mentions that they have rumors that Seattle is gone, but some U.S. government still exists as they’re still trying to find that info out. They’re planning on assembling volunteer scouting/rescue parties to spread out in all directions to make contact with other cities and rescue stranded people.
  • Burroughs and Chandler go to the former’s parent’s ranch with an intent on borrowing the elder Burroughs’ old truck … and some of the horses. Burroughs discovers his father is suffering from a cold and the two naturally get into an argument as the older man is utterly uninterested in people “borrowing” his horses; Chandler intervenes and does manage to cool tempers enough to get the truck.
  • The four end up volunteering to head south for the scout/rescue op; Heinlein suggests also hitting the Rez – though he’s mostly wanting to check in on Grandfather – and the team began planning out a route while prepping their kits. Rather than traverse the entire way to pick Wells up from the hospital, Burroughs offers his apartment as a rally point and a spot to crash for the night. Only Chandler doesn’t accept as he’s got a nice motel room. Everyone begins to doze off around midnight…
  • Abruptly, the sound of an explosion from relatively nearby wakes them all up. Being curious and impulsive, the entire group end up venturing out to investigate where they find numerous other locals doing the same. They discover a large crater where a local church once stood and, as they move in for a closer look, dozens of what look like smoke grenades begin erupting around it; as a former soldier, Heinlein immediately recognizes LZ tactics even as a sound similiar to that of cicadas overwhelms everyone. Shadowy figures spring up from the hole and through the smoke – they’re nominally humanoid-shaped but with the darkness and the smoke, it’s hard to tell. These figures advance, firing weapons that are rather silent, though there is still the distinct sound of rounds whistling by. Some of the locals respond with gunfire … and are quickly cut down. It’s time to retreat.
  • Quickly falling back, the team rally at Burroughs’ apartment long enough to grab their gear and throw it in the truck; Chandler and Wells head straight for the police station as the sound of gunfire erupts all throughout Cody, indicating that these … things are spreading out. Burroughs follows them in the truck with Heinlein providing overwatch from the bed, though they slow long enough to let fleeing and injured citizen crowd in.
  • At the police station, Burroughs turns the keys over to Heinlein, already knowing that his friend is planning on making a beeline to get his kid clear, and joins the assembling SWAT. Nearby, another loud impact occurs and they realize that these … things are about to swarm the cops. With Wells now in the truck bed providing what medical aid he can, Heinlein peels out, leaving Burroughs and Chandler with the cops.
  • And the fight is on. The cops open fire on the things swarming out of the hole, dropping some of them and taking a few casualties themselves. One of the things is momentarily highlighted in a spotlight and is revealed to be some sort of humanoid bug … but it was only backlit for a moment so surely that was a trick of the eye. Recognizing that their position is untenable, the surviving police begin to retreat, with Chandler scouting the way on his ATV.
  • Heinlein reaches his ex’s place and immediately springs out to bang on the door. They’ve got to go now! A third impact crater happens nearby and the sheer amount of gunfire being heard throughout Cody plus the presence of terrified and injured civilians in the bed convinces Julia to get in with James (who jumps into the front) and her boyfriend, Whatshisface. They depart at a high rate of speed, sweeping wide around Cody before doubling back toward the Burroughs family ranch.
  • Meanwhile, the retreating police scramble through Cody, intent on getting to the airport; many of the officers are not in the greatest of physical shape and, as a result, flag behind, but they are lucky to discover a functional vehicle at the airstrip. Using it, they manage to reach the Burroughs ranch where they discover Heinlein arguing with Burroughs’ dad over the use of horses with the former soldier planning on heading back into the mess to rescue his friend
  • A plan is hashed out with much arguing along the way: some of the locals are going to stay here on the ranch and secure it temporarily while Burroughs, Chandler, Heinlein and Wells head south to locate a more defensible location. There is shouting and crying and confusion as everyone tries to adapt to these new circumstances.
  • And then, the ranch blows up.

Player Notes:

  • Well, that was a game changer. I must congratulate the GM on “subverting our expectations” (and not in a crappy Rian Johnson “The Last Jedi” way) as the first half the session made it seem like the game was going to be a “Jericho” tv series kind of game with us gradually learning what had actually happened. Then he yanked the rug out from underneath us.
  • We kept ending up in locations where the GM had randomly predetermined would be the impact sites of bugs, which was amusing in and of itself. As I understand it, he was also not expecting us to all be so clustered together at the beginning, nor did he expect us to head for the ranch which explains the way he ended it.
  • Heinlein was almost not at the apartment when the initial onslaught began; I rolled a control roll for his Impulsive disad and, if I’d failed it, he was going to go over to his ex’s place. At oh-dark-thirty in the morning. Yeah, that’d have gone over well.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

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1×01: Day One

  • John Heinlein, upon seeing his son with bruises and his baby-momma’s boyfriend chastising the boy, presumes the worst and beats the man down before absconding with his son. Heading south toward the Wind River Reservation, he hears the Amber Report go out across his police scanner and realizing that his intended route is likely patrolled, he tries a different way … and his car dies. They walk from here!
  • Damien Chandler, an Australian expat currently working for the US Forestry Service, is off-roading and happens to see Heinlein and his son abandon the car. He calls this in and learns about the Amber Alert; he’s instructed to remain in place and wait for backup.
  • Deputy Sheriff E. Reece Burroughs, who has known John for years, races to untangle this mess before his old friend puts him in deeper trouble. From John’s ex, Julia, the deputy sheriff learns that her son, James, was in a fight at school, which is why he has bruises, and John overreacted without thinking. When Chandler’s report comes in, Burroughs heads straight there, but following standard procedure, also calls in EMT support.
  • Jules Pratchett-Wells, a local EMT, is getting lunch with his partner, Tucker Charleston (who has the odd nickname of “Turk”), when the call comes in, so they load up and head south to hook up with Burroughs and Chandler.
  • The three manage to easily catch up with Heinlein and his son as John is thoroughly loaded down with gear. A tense stand-off ensues that is only exacerbated by the sudden arrival of Bob, another deputy sheriff, who has his gun drawn and is shouting for John to drop it and get down!
  • And then things get weird. John suddenly wakes up and finds himself face-down, handcuffed, and lying on a body. He is nauseous and dizzy, and has no idea whatsoever how he got into this situation. Everyone else gradually regains consciousness as well, equally confused with missing time. They all quickly determine that their electronics are fried, prompting several of them to theorize an EMP strike of some sort. It is also now morning. Chandler hikes toward a nearby campsite, while Burroughs and Heinlein put Deputy Bob into a body bag which they place in the now powerless EMT van. The Aussie returns on a bike after checking in with campers.
  • The group begin hiking toward Meeteetse, reaching it soon after the sun has gone down. There, they discover that everyone else is experiencing the same memory loss following the blackout and power is out everywhere. John continues to deal with persistent dizziness, much to his frustration.
  • In the morning, Chandler seeks out a local tractor that is really old and manages to get it running; the team use this tractor and a trailer normally used for ‘hayrides’ during festivals to return to their dead cars to retrieve gear (and a body bag.) They pick up several locals at the campsites as well and take them to Meeteetse.
  • From there, they start making their way toward Cody via the slow tractor. En route, they note a number of strange contrails in the sky and then later discover a strange-looking meteor that has crashed to earth, shattering the road and carving a great furrow in the dirt. J.P. takes a sample from the bizarre meteor before they all continue toward Cody.
    Soon after, they discover a rolled bus that has crashed off the side of the road; it bears a Federal Depart of Corrections logo and Burroughs recalls that the U.S. Marshals were supposed to be transporting some federal prisoners yesterday. He investigates, finding a dead marshal but no prisoners.
  • Onto Cody they press, discovering a city on the verge of panic due to the missing time and loss of power. The first place they head for is the hospital so they can put Deputy [WHATSHISNAME] in the coroner’s office and have John checked out at the same time; Heinlein will be later identified as suffering from minor radiation sickness!
  • Checking in with his boss, Burroughs learns that John’s ex and her boyfriend are (inexplicably) not pressing charges against Heinlein, but more importantly, before the blackout, he (the sheriff) heard … multiple cities like Denver and Seattle were hit by unknown parties…

Player Notes:

  • And thus, this “season” of Earthfall begins.
  • During character creation, we intentionally decided to all have last names of famous sci-fi authors. This naming goes back to a different game Gigermann ran in a face-to-face group that I was a part of, wherein we were the “Gun Show” and every PC had the last name of a gun manufacturer (so we had a Barrett (briefly before the player had to drop due to work), Colt, a Remington, a Smith and a Wesson).
  • It’s early days so we’re still getting a feel for our characters as of yet and, in retrospect, there are a couple of things I could have done with Heinlein to better be “in-character” – I intentionally did not have him struggle more after we woke up since the GM established that he was persistently dizzy during play. So he was biding his time and trying to avoid throwing up. It does occur to me that he probably doesn’t actually live in Cody but rather, lives on the Wind River reservation, so he likely doesn’t have a home in the city…
  • Being quite aware of what “Earthfall” means in the GM’s context and having played in his previous “post-apocalypse” game, I’m probably more aware of what’s coming than everyone else … which will fit with the character’s backstory. Still, I could not help but notice the amusing similarities to Jericho which oddly puts Heinlein in the Jake Green roll in a lot of ways.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

Command Crew of the Graceful Dame

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I-XII. Ashore at Nassau, New Providence. Monday, February 5, 1725 Anno Domini

  • As the smoke clears, the crew turn to evaluating the butcher’s bill. Doctor Spenser looks to Leftenant Rogers and Mister Bold first, determining that they are not grievously injured. Mister Adler also has some minor neck wounds that require bandaging; later, when the adrenaline has worn off and he has a moment to think on it, the doctor realizes that Mister Atwell, the man in Barbados who gave Captain Hayden the letter for Adler (and looked identical to the man) also had his neck bandaged … in much the same way …
  • A squad of redcoats eventually arrive to investigate the shots fired, but are satisfied that the thugs were guilty of criminal activity, including assault and kidnapping, so they take them into custody. Excluding the dead man, of course.
  • At the same time, an elderly local widow named Abigail informs Doctor Spenser that she has extra beds and sufficient medical experience to assist; the doctor gratefully accepts her offer, then oversees the relocation of his patients. He is forced to return to the ship briefly to retrieve his surgical instruments and, in doing so, alerts the rest of the crew of the impending surgery required to remove the pistol balls. They all decide to come along for moral support and open curiosity.
  • With assistance from Miss Abigail and Mister Adler, the doctor is able to expertly remove the dangerous pistol balls from his two patients. To everyone’s great confusion, he first hypnotizes the two men into relaxing; it is an odd skill that many have likely never seen before. The surgery goes extremely well, but he expects a proper recovery to be a week or more on land; Captain Hayden and Sir Randel consider, then agree to delay here for that time.
  • After the surgery, Mister Adler begins telling the rest of the crew a story about the late Captain Jack Rackham dropping (either accidentally or not) a bag of black pearls offshore of Nassau early in his career as a pirate. Sometime back, Mister Finley, the merchant whose daughter the crew just rescued, found one of those pearls in the surf, but was too loud (and a little too drunk) to keep this as quiet as he should have; Mister Adler later suggested that, should anyone come asking about these pearls, to tell them that pearl was found in a specific location nearby with an eye toward redirecting anyone looking for them there. He thought nothing would come of that until the ruffians showed up to abduct Miss Lyla who has revealed that they were asking about the pearls; Mister Adler suspects that the ruffian who escaped is likely going to his employer, so they should watch the location to determine who is behind this. Unfortunately, Mister Adler continues, he is about to be taken into custody shortly by Captain Doyle, the commander of the redcoats here on Nassau, so he would like to ask the crew to investigate this further. The crew agrees.
  • And exactly as he said would happen, Mister Adler is taken into custody by Captain Doyle and his redcoats. This leaves the crew to their own devices and, after consulting, Captain Hayden and Sir Randel decide to stake out the beach location that Mister Adler referenced. but rather than doing so personally, they hire some local children to do it for them. This works out nicely as Sir Randel is woken in the night by one of the watchers, and then gathers Captain Hayden, Doctor Spenser and Mister Palange to investigate.
  • There, they find Captain Doyle, alone and furiously digging along the beach. The crew’s attempts to be stealthy are poor to say the least, and Captain Doyle reacts by drawing his pistol, though he quickly blanches at the numbers arrayed against him … and the sight of Mister Palange’s massive wall-gun. Sir Randel takes the lead in the discussion with the man, learning both that Mister Adler has mysteriously vanished and that Captain Doyle is obsessed with finding the black pearls. After a quick exchange of words, Sir Randel forces Captain Doyle to back down by blatantly threatening to destroy the man’s reputation by spreading word of what he did to the merchant and his daughter. Defeated, Captain Doyle retreats, having agreed to pay some restitution to Miss Lyla and her father. Once he has departed, Doctor Spenser retrieves his abandoned shovel in the event it might be useful later; in the dirt, he finds one of the black pearls, which he later shows to Sir Randel.
  • The following morning, the La Dame Blanche arrives in Nassau, much to Sir Randel’s displeasure. Soon thereafter, he receives an invitation to dine with Maurice Boissonade, his rival. At this meal, the two men hide their distaste for one another with false politeness, and agree to a wager: the man who fails to find this treasure will pen a letter to English and French newspapers professing the greatness of the one who did find it. Sir Randel also agrees to allow Monsieur Boissonade to look at the compass, providing the Frenchman takes him along to meet with a Captain Morgan expert here in Nassau.
  • One of Monsieur Boissonade’s crew, Remi Leblanc, is present to look upon the compass intently, hinting at an eidetic memory, before Monsieur Boissonade and Sir Randel proceed on to meet with the Captain Morgan expert who turns out to be none other than Handsome Ned, who Sir Randel shot in the head on Île-à-Vache. Handsome Ned initially seems to not know what Sir Randel means when he is asked about having met previously, but subtle clues in the man’s body language indicate he knows full well what he is being asked. Information is exchanged – Sir Randel learns a few new things, as well as realizing that he is aware of some things that Monsieur Boissonade does not – and they part ways, though not after Sir Randel strongly implies to his rival that “Handsome Ned” cannot be trusted. At all.
  • While this is going on, Captain Hayden seeks out word of a man named Friendly, believed to be a friend of his son, Matthew. He learns that Mister Friendly resides on Harbour Island, overseeing a trade house, and the captain makes plans to head there next.
  • Days pass as Doctor Spenser oversees the recovery of Leftenant Rogers and Mister Bold, while the rest of the crew grow increasingly bored of tiny Nassau. Captain Hayden, who is suffering from some chronic pain of his own due to his cancer, spends a great deal of time in Widow Abigail’s house, reading to the bedridden Leftenant Rogers and Mister Bold, while Sir Randel makes a point of spending a great deal of time with the island’s upper echelons, both to establish contacts but also to enure Captain Doyle knows that Sir Randel knows people in the right places. Mister Palange spends this time working on gun repairs. During this time, the crew also brings aboard a proper carpenter to handle some minor leaks, then have him conduct a more in depth examination of the Graceful Dame.
  • Three days after the unexpected meeting with Handsome Ned, Sir Randel is wandering around Nassau with Dora when she abruptly tackles a sailor and tears his watch away from him. Not entirely sure what’s going on, Sir Randel nonetheless takes her side and tosses a handful of shillings at the man when he reveals that he bought the watch from a pawn broker at Grand Cayman. After escorting her back to Widow Abigail’s house, he explains what happened to Doctor Spenser who is best able to understand Dora; from her, the doctor learns that this watch belonged to her late captain, killed when she was taken captive.
  • On the 11th of February, the La Dame Blanche departs Nassau in the morning, and Doctor Spenser agrees that Leftenant Rogers and Mister Bold will be hale the following day; in thanks for her assistance and housing of them, Doctor Spenser gives Widow Abigail the black pearl that he discovered earlier, even though she insists that no such payment is required. The entire crew is very ready to get back on the seas – though Mister Sherd does seem to have grown rather attached to Miss Lyla and seems disappointed to depart her company – and set sail early on the 12th, finding the winds increasingly gusty. Those most familiar with the weather sense that a dangerous storm is approaching, though it should hit after the Graceful Dame arrives at Harbour Island, and indeed, this comes to pass, with them arriving at the isle late in the day. Securing the ship for bad weather, the crew go ashore where Captain Hayden seeks out Mister Friendly to discuss his son, from whom he learns that Matthew sent a coded letter indicating that he was on the run and hiding out. Mister Friendly believes that Henry Murphy at Old Providence may know more about Matthew’s ship.
  • As the storm rapidly approaches, Sir Randel and Doctor Spenser hear a bosun’s whistle and investigate, whereupon they discover a stranger abducting Dora! Without hesitation, the two men charge forward to effect a rescue…

Player Notes:

  • And thus, this “season” of Sea Dogs comes to a conclusion.
  • Herodian ducked out early; this was the session for it, since Leftenant Rogers was bedridden for quite some time.
  • The surgery went better than expected – as Artegal’s player, I was almost disappointed in that. I didn’t actually want a PC to die during surgery, but I must admit, it would be a hell of a story. Next time, I promise myself…
  • To be honest, I’d completely forgotten that Dora had been given the bosun’s whistle until after the game.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

Command Crew of the Graceful Dame

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I-X. Port-de-Paix, St. Domingue. Monday, January 29, 1725 Anno Domini

  • Leftenant Rogers, having heard the unexpected proposal from Miss Wilhelmina Deering, drains his wine, much to her amusement. She reveals that she needs to meet with a contact at a party and attending as a single woman would draw far more attention than as a married one. Leftenant Rogers considers, then agrees to assist. She then suggests he ensure there is some back-up.
  • Meanwhile, Sir Randel and Doctor Spenser return to shore with Geoffrey de Saloman following his duel; he does his best to avoid properly explaining what just happened and insists that he doesn’t need medical attention. All he needs, he claims, is a bit of sleep.
  • Once Mister de Saloman disembarks and heads to his hotel, Sir Randel seeks out an alehouse where he finds Captain Hayden. Soon after, Leftenant Rogers enters the alehouse, seeking out his captain. Seeing Sir Randel present, he decides to include both of them and asks them to accompany him to the party to serve as back-up; both men enthusiastically agree.
  • While this is transpiring, Doctor Spenser goes wandering through Port-de-Paix and, when he looks up, he finds himself completely lost. Glancing around, he realizes he’s at a crossroads and suddenly, an elderly mulatto woman who identifies herself as Madame Cassandra is abruptly standing there. She knows him by name and offers him some tea from her house which the doctor is almost certain wasn’t there before. Inside, she reveals that she can see a large crow on his shoulder, cawing loudly in his ear; she instructs the crow to be silent and suddenly, Doctor Spenser finds his thoughts clear for the first time in a long while. They converse, with Madame Cassandra stating that Doctor Spenser has the “Gift” and that the Master of Crows has laid a curse of absent-mindedness upon him, a curse that only the faerie prince can lift. She states that Doctor Spenser already has a third of the answer in his hand and he realizes that he’s been carrying the book of faerie tales given to him in his youth; there are two other books that, when brought together, will allow him to discover the truename of the Master of Crows. Geoffrey de Saloman can assist in this first step, she says. Later, Doctor Spenser will realize that he failed to even ask the woman who she was or why she’s helping him, but at the time, that simply does not occur to him.
  • The following morning, everyone scatters yet again to their own objectives. Mister Palange once more seeks out work from the gun maker; Leftenant Rogers spends much of the day with Miss Deering, getting fit for a “proper” suit; Captain Hayden visits a church and becomes acquainted with the priest who is quite fascinated with a sailor’s life; while Sir Randel and Doctor Spenser are ready to continue their buying and selling of goods on the market. Before they do that, however, the doctor tracks down Mister de Saloman who is breakfasting with Dora; Doctor Spenser hesitates not at all by asking about The Book, and Mister de Saloman immediately recognizes it from a library he frequented in London; he believed the Book was sold to a man who lives in Curaçao. While looking through the book, Mister de Saloman’s eyes go out of focus as he identifies pages that he recalls as being different (which Doctor Spenser realizes explains the “code” reference made by Madame Cassandra); when Mister de Saloman glances at Dora, he reacts with surprise and asks her ‘what the devil are you?’ She smiles and puts a finger to her lips.
  • During the day, Leftenant Rogers notes that he is being watched, and Doctor Spenser accidentally stumbles into a man who has been following him; the man flees immediately, leaving behind an odd-looking necklace that was serendipitously torn free in the collision. None of the other members of the crew recognize the necklace when Doctor Spenser shows it to them, and the doctor is dismayed to discover that his hotel room has been trashed! This will lead him to relocating entirely to the Graceful Dame where he continues studying the Book.
  • After having negotiated a deal with a local merchant to purchase the cargo in the hold, Sir Randel returns to the Graceful Dame but is accosted by a French customs boat; the officer in charge demands his papers, and Sir Randel recognizes what is behind this so he wisely includes an appropriate bribe when he passes over the papers.
  • The evening of the party approaches and, rather than pretend to be a servant to “Mister and Mistress Deering,” Sir Randel seeks out his own way into the gathering and discovers a young woman who is less than enthusiastic about attending. He convinces her otherwise, however, and decides to recruit Doctor Spenser to serve as their attendant. Only Mister Palange is not attending, but that’s because no one can find him (as he’s working with the gunmaker.)
  • At the party, the attendees have their own moments. Something triggers Doctor Spenser and he struggles to ignore the fact that the clock will not shut up; noticing this, Sir Randel worries about his friend’s health, but must also concentrate on the woman he is with as she is consistently bothered by younger bachelors; Captain Hayden interacts with a man who he eventually discovers is the owner of this plantation; and Leftenant Rogers attempts (and fails) to discover exactly who Miss Deering is working for. A squad of French soldiers enters the party and declare they are looking for someone.
  • Upon seeing some signal left by her contact, Miss Deering leads Leftenant Rogers toward the kitchen … but they discover a man with a bloody knife standing over a fallen man! Cursing in Spanish, this assassin dives through the nearby window to escape, prompting Leftenant Rogers calling out for Captain Hayden to follow as he pursues. The two men race after the assassin as he flees through the cane field. This chase eventually ends when Leftenant Rogers thrusts his sword into the man’s back; recovering the letter that was Miss Deering’s objective, the two British officers quickly interrogate the Spaniard and learn very little of serious use. French soldiers arrive and promptly arrest the murderer.
  • Upon leaving with his young lady, Sir Randel learns that she is frustrated because her father is pressuring her to wed one of the boring bachelors available, but they’re all simply interested in her father’s money. Being a rake and a rogue, Sir Randel promptly seduces the young woman.
  • The retrieved letter – which is in Greek and requires Doctor Spenser to translate – which turns out to be addressed to the governor of Havana’s spymaster and informs him of an upcoming treaty being signed in Vienna between the Hapsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire and the Bourbons in Spain. Despite this treaty being couched as a defensive pact only, Miss Deering declares that this is clearly a pretext for a full military alliance between the two and will likely be used as an excuse to retake Gibraltar. This letter must be taken to Havana immediately, so as to not arouse suspicion, and Leftenant Rogers offers to do so as that is on their way.
  • Later that evening, as he’s taking some air following the party, Captain Hayden has a coughing fit. He spits out blood, murmurs something … and collapses. Everything goes dark.

Player Notes:

  • I originally intended for these dang outlines to be shorter!
  • After discussing the whole magic thing offline, Gigermann and I came to the conclusion that we didn’t really like any of the existing magic systems in GURPS. In the end, we decided that I (Rigil) would use the Psionic Powers book and we’d just call it magic. As a result, we retooled his existing Serendipity to the “Coincidence” power in Psionic Powers.
  • The mystery about Dora deepens slightly. I (Rigil) have already determined that next “power” he’s going to pick up is “True Sight” which will allow Spenser to see through glamours and illusions. Not going to happen until the next run of this game, though.
  • From what I understand, Gigermann realized after the fact that he should have had us being harassed by customs personnel a great deal more than we had been in the past. As a result, Sir Randel got hassled a bit and we should expect to see a lot more of that.
  • Hayden failed his HT check for the Terminally Ill … so technically, he’s dead. His player and Giger had already discussed some alternate house rules for how this will play out that I’m not entirely aware of – I know that after this, Hayden will pick up Chronic Pain and the next time he makes a check, he’s at -1. As I understand it, he’ll keep picking up some disads that can’t be bought off, and eventually, he’s actually going to die. Several of us have joked that the real reason he’s looking for his son is because that’s his replacement character so he can’t die before he finds him.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

Command Crew of the Graceful Dame

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I-IX. Saint Christopher Island, West Indies. Tuesday, January 23, 1725 Anno Domini

  • Having arrived at Saint Christopher Island – better known as Saint Kitts – very early in the morning, the crew goes ashore.
  • While entering, Sir Randel and Doctor Spenser discover a man in a gibbet who pleads for water; the sign on the gibbet proclaims that this prisoner is a grave-robber, and Sir Randel, his curiosity piqued, provides water. The man introduces himself as Geoffrey de Saloman, who insists it was all a misunderstanding; he asks Sir Randel to pass on a message to the baliff, specifically “Who will help the widow’s son?” Sir Randel agrees to pass on this message. It takes them a bit of time to locate the baliff, but upon relating the message, the two observe the man pale somewhat and ask if the prisoner had a ring … like this one. Upon confirming this, the baliff sends word to have the man released and refuses to discuss the matter further.
  • Captain Hayden, accompanied by the silent Dora, seeks out the records clerk and spends some time researching. He finds no further indication of his son, but learns that if his son had been taken as a prisoner of war which is the current theory, then following the war, he would have been returned, likely to Jamaica. If he wasn’t returned, then he either died in prison or escaped. This further narrows down things somewhat.
  • Mister Palange unsuccessfully seeks out further work on the docks for pocket change while Leftenant Rogers studies the incoming ships as is his wont.
  • While returning to the gibbet with Sir Randel, Doctor Spenser is momentarily distracted by Miriam, a woman he recognizes from his time in Bedlam; the woman, who is visibly quite mad, exclaims her delight that he has been let out for some fresh air. Initially unsure if the woman is truly there or not, the doctor is hesitant to respond out of fear that he will be seen responding to something that isn’t there; Sir Randel joins him, however, and asks who his new friend is, just as the woman’s minders rush forward to take control of their patient, apologizing profusely for the interruption. When Sir Randel inquires whether his old friend is well, Doctor Spenser turns it on him: is Sir Randel well? He’s been acting quite strange of late!
  • Mister de Saloman is no longer in the gibbet, but he will eventually join the two while they are in the process of selling the cotton purchased in Barbados. He asks if they are sailing to Port-de-Paix as he is seeking passage and can pay.
  • Early on the 25th, the Graceful Dame departs Saint Kitt with light rain. Heading West-Northwest, they make tolerable time. During the trip, Mister de Saloman asks to be put to work and, late one night, reveals that he is an amazing storyteller. On the middle-watch on the 27th, they narrowly avoid an uncharted reef which Captain Hayden marks down on his maps. They reach Port-de-Paix on the 28th, shortly after midnight.
  • Once the sun rises, they plan to go ashore, each to their own interests. Mister de Saloman asks if, at some point when convenient, they could sail across to Tortuga (which is only about 5 miles away) as he has some old debts to settle; once more, Sir Randel and Doctor Spenser find their curiosity piqued and agree to assist once they have completed their merchanting for the day. As before, Mister Palange finds work with a local gunsmith who happens to speak English, while Leftenant Rogers opts to seek out a brothel he has heard good things about. Captain Hayden once again seeks out information on his missing son as it is something of an obsession of his, though he finds the French to be less than helpful. Dora initially tags along with Leftenant Rogers, but abandons him once she realizes where he’s going.
  • As he is entering the red light district, Leftenant Rogers runs into an old associate of his, Miss Wilhelmina Deering, whom he knows to be something of a spy. They are both surprised to see one another, and after a moment, she suggests they share a dinner later that evening to ‘catch up.’ Leftenant Rogers gladly accepts.
  • Their merchanting complete, Sir Randel and Doctor Spenser join Mister de Saloman and cross over to Tortuga where he explains that he wishes them to take a message to an old associate of his, one Falko Rijnders. They agree to do so and, upon finding Mister Rijnders, observe his extreme displeasure at having received this missive. The Dutchman agrees to meet Mister de Saloman at the specified time and place. At that place, Mister de Saloman goes alone, asking the two to stay behind, but their curiosity is such that they cannot do so, especially when Mister Rijnders arrives and passes them without a word. Stealthfully, the two follow and observe a duel unlike any they have ever witnessed. The skill of the two swordsmen is frankly inhuman and odd atmospheric conditions cause wild sparks as the blades meet. Injuries are meted out and absorbed, but in the end, Mister de Saloman is victorious … and takes the Dutchman’s head. Instantly, lightning erupts all around the the duelists with both the victorious man and the corpse floating for a moment. When it is over, Mister de Saloman joins the two somewhat confused watchers and speaks in Dutch, a language that Doctor Spenser knows that he did not previously know…
  • At Miss Deering’s hotel, Leftenant Rogers has a pleasant meal with her as they chat amicably, speaking of days long past. Eventually, they migrate to the lounge where the suddenly coquettish Miss Deering has a proposal for Leftenant Rogers, if he is willing to listen. He admits that he is and she sidles up to him, gives him a big doe-eyed look as she takes his hand … before sliding a ring on his finger. “I need you to marry me,” she says.

Player Notes:

  • Backtracking slightly, we learned that Captain Hayden discovered that the Rumjack crew were in possession of a current British Navy codebook, something they should not have had access to; he kept it for the moment. Sir Randel found a bit of money in Florins and a non-functional dagger-pistol.
  • I recognized Geoffrey as an Immortal because Gigermann created this character a gajillion years ago and he was intended on being a mentor to an Immortal character of mine in a (sadly) aborted World of Darkness game. Everyone else clued in on it much later, right before the final duel. Many were the jokes about which of the PCs is about to die and wake up as a baby Immortal.
  • The phrase Who will help the widow’s son? is a password reputedly used by the Freemasons to request aid.
  • Clearly, Spenser’s secret – spent time in Bedlam – kicked off here and he did a mediocre job of covering it up with Randel, though hopefully, amusement was had by his efforts to change the subject.
  • That ending was perfect. Clearly, Rogers’ treasure map finally kicked off!

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

Command Crew of the Graceful Dame

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I-VIII. Departing Bridgetown, Barbados. Saturday, January 20, 1725 Anno Domini

  • With the Princess Mary at her side, the Graceful Dame departs Barbados, well aware that the Rumjack is in pursuit. It’s now going to become a stern chase, Captain Hayden intent on reaching the rendezvous point in the 17-mile separation between Dominica and Guadeloupe where he expect the H.M.S. Pelican to be waiting.
  • Captain Hayden opts to split the crew up into two shifts, with him commanding one and Leftenant Rogers in charge of the second. A pair of “dog watches” cover the 16:00 to 20:00 period to allow for dinner; the captain is quite aware that this watch shift would be untenable in the long run for such a small crew, but the rendezvous spot is only two days away and he wishes someone on watch at all times in case the Rumjack attempts something sneaky.
  • While reviewing his journal, Doctor Spenser notes something strange: his memories of the encounter with “Miss Anansi” do not line up with what he wrote; cautious questioning of Sir Randel and Mister Palange reveal they do not recall anything odd either, which the good doctor would take as indicating he hallucinated that part … were it not for the odd injury to his hand.
  • The first day is tense but uneventful, with night setting in quickly and concealing the Rumjack from view. The pursuing cutter is sailing without any lights, forcing Leftenant Rogers to consults Captain Hayden about whether they should increase speed. Ultimately, it is decided that they will hold the course.
  • With dawn, they discover that the Princess Mary has drifted off-course somewhat; the larger merchant vessel quickly slides back into formation. The Rumjack is still on their tail.
  • Early on the second day, a ship in distress is observed. After considering the distance between their convoy and the Rumjack, the command crew of the Graceful Dame decide that they must lend assistance; recognizing their intent, the Princess Mary also comes about and brings man survivors aboard.
  • The French captain of the now lost merchantman, one Bastien Dufresne, admits that they struck a reef; his first officer, a Portugese man named Bruno, grumbles that his captain as an incompetent fool responsible for this entire fiasco. The two men nearly come to blows over this dispute, but Doctor Spenser steps in to convince them that this is not the place for a duel. They agree to set it aside for the time being.
  • As they near the rendezvous point in the afternoon, a strange fog begins to settle in, which confuses nearly everyone who has any understanding of the weather. There is no sign of the H.M.S. Pelican which is mildly disconcerting, even as the visibility drops sharply to the point that they can barely see more than a half mile. Behind them, the Rumjack increases its speed to keep up, though it does not seem they are yet committed to an attack.
  • Abruptly, Mister Lucroy, who is acting as lookout, calls that a sail has been sighted, dead ahead. It is not the Pelican, but rather a fifth-rate sitting quietly in the fog, its commissioning pennant so long that drags into the water. Captain Hayden recalls abruptly the story of a ship known as the Charon that was cursed to never enter port, and how its commissioning pennant grows longer each year that it is barred from entry.
  • As Captain Hayden begins ordering a minor course change to avoid this mystery ship, it begins moving toward them, clearly violating the laws of physics to do so. The ship passes by the Graceful Dame at less than pistol shot distance, which allows everyone the opportunity to see its crew: there is something undefinably … weird about the unnaturally silent sailors aboard the unknown vessel, enough so that everyone shivers or, in the case of poor Mister Sherd, passes out on deck.
  • The ghostly ship gathers speed, seemingly intent on ramming the Rumjack who desperately try to get out of the way but are too slow and caught by surprise … but there is not horrific crash. Instead, the Charon (presuming that is who the fifth-rate is) passes through the cutter and continues on its way, eventually vanishing entirely in the fog. As it does so, the crew of the Rumjack simply collapse.
  • As the fog rapidly (and mysteriously) burns off, the Pelican appears and races toward the now drifting Rumjack. The cutter is warned to heave-to, but there is no response and, soon after, Captain Lockhart of the Pelican dispatches boarders.
  • Captain Hayden and his command crew are summoned to the Pelican to discuss the events where they discover from Captain Lockhart that they found only corpses aboard the Rumjack. Even the bloody rats were dead! Doctor Spenser innocently declares that it must have been the ghost ship, which prompts a further discussion about what they witnessed. Had they not witnessed this with their own eyes, Captain Hayden declares, they would not have believed it. Still, as the Rumjack was quite obviously “engaging” the Graceful Dame, Captain Lockhart is able to take her as a prize; in appreciation of this fact, he not only allows several of the Dame’s crew to go aboard the Rumjack to try and seek answers as to why the cutter was pursuing them, but he also allows them to take all four of the 4-lb guns, much to Mister Palange’s delight.
  • The French crew pulled from the sinking ship go aboard the Princess Mary as her captain has a schedule to meet and cannot tarry while the cannon are transferred, though he is happy to have lent assistance to the Graceful Dame.
  • A little after midnight on January 22, the Graceful Dame at Saint Kitts.

Player Notes:

  • Our expectations were subverted. All of us were expecting a naval battle, but instead we got a ghost ship.
  • This is the second time we’ve encountered real supernatural stuff and this time, no one has “forgotten” like the encounter with Miss Anansi.
  • The Portugese sailor “Bruno” who we pulled out of the sinking French ship was named for one of our constant Twitch audience members, exactly like the Captain Button we encountered back in episode 5.
  • Something that didn’t really occur to me until after the fact and is really something I may need to consider for other games as well is some indication of how the NPC crew react when Fright Checks are called for. Now obviously, a GM may not want to roll a check for each character … perhaps I should recommend that each player be assigned a NPC and roll for them? Something to consider, I suppose…

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

Command Crew of the Graceful Dame

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I-VII. Bridgetown, Barbados. Thursday, January 18, 1725 Anno Domini

  • Captain John Hayden enters the “Anchor and Chain” where he finds Sir Randel already entertaining the pub-goers with his wild tales about merfolk; among those that Sir Randel is addressing happens to be one Leftenant Reginald Bull of H.M.S. Pelican who has his own tale to tell as, while on patrol, the Pelican observed a legitimate ghost ship that vanished without a trace! Sir Randel is fascinated and, when Doctor Spenser and Mister Palange enter soon after, get the doctor drawn into the discussion while Davino asks about the previous owner of The Gun, learning that the (believed deceased) Darragh Campbell ventured out to the local “devil’s house” to investigate another missing man and was never seen again…
  • Soon after Sir Randel, Doctor Spenser and Mister Palange begin talking about an expedition to visit this mysterious “devil house”, Leftenant Rogers enters the Anchor and Chain with word that the Rumjack has arrived in harbor! Concerned over this turn of events, the crew discuss their options with Captain Hayden informing Leftenant Bull about the trouble that has just sailed into Bridgetown; the leftenant promises to advise his captain, one Henry Lockhart who Hayden recognizes as a fellow officer that he stepped on during his climb up the ranks.
  • Concerned about the presence of the Rumjack, Captain Hayden and Leftenant Rogers head to the docks to observe her arrival, finding Miss Dora there who is lounging around with Mister Lucroy; from their observations, it seems that the surviving crew of the Rumjack appear to have teamed up with those who attacked them in the first place! Miss Dora displays a fierce anger at the presence of some of the men, and Captain Hayden makes a mental note to have Doctor Spenser try and get more information from their mute guest about this situation. The Rumjack sends some crew ashore, likely to seek out reprovisions. Opting to ensure that Miss Dora is not immediately visible, Captain Hayden asks Mister Lucroy to take her to the Anchor and Chain.
  • Eventually, the crew end up back aboard the Graceful Dame for the evening where a watch is most definitely in place, but the Rumjack crew do not try anything; that night, Mister Palange overhears Doctor Spenser talking in his sleep, murmuring that he’s “much better now and no longer needs the straitjacket.” He shrugs this off, not thinking anything of it.
  • The following morning, Sir Randel, Doctor Spenser, Mister Palange, and Miss Dora go ashore for some cargo and provision purposes; before they depart, Captain Hayden asks Doctor Spenser to attempt to gain more information from Miss Dora about her capture. During this, Sir Randel meets with a widow who has inherited her late husband’s cotton business; Sir Randel turns on the charm and makes a very good impression, to the point that she is amenable to him visiting him that evening. The second appointment that morning is an older gentleman who is selling sugar and rum; though this does not go as well as the crew would like, they still end up purchasing several tonnes of speculative goods. Throughout this, Sir Randel happens to note that Doctor Spenser refers to Mister Lucroy by the female pronoun; he opts to say nothing but instead, keep a closer eye on the two to see if he can pick up additional information.
  • While overseeing the loading of cargo, Captain Hayden notes that they are under observation by the Rumjack crew.
  • In the afternoon, following the completion of their tasks, Sir Randel leads a party consisting of Doctor Spenser, Misters Palange, and Lucroy to investigate the “devil’s house.” No one else is remotely interested in going – Red, especially, is vehement that he’s not going anywhere near a place that’s called that. The two former navy officers simply roll their eyes and go back to formulating a way to deal with the Rumjack; they note that the Princess Mary, the cargo ship they passed some days earlier, is pulling into dock now.
  • The “devil’s house” turns out to be an old cottage off in the jungle; as they approach, they observe a dark-skinned Negress outside the cottage; Mister Palange immediately locks eyes with her and follows her into the cottage. Notably, Boom, the powder monkey utterly refuses to enter the cottage. The rest of the group do follow, however, where they find the cottage empty! And then, the floor abruptly drops out from under them so they slide down a tunnel into a dark sea-cave. From the shadows, a feminine voice asks in strangely accented English, “Is this one come to destroy us? It bears the slayer’s weapon.” In those shadows, beyond arms reach, they can just barely make out the Negress, as if she’d always been standing there and was perfectly camouflaged. Only Mister Palange has any clue as to what she means regarding the “Slayer’s weapon” and when Sir Randel and Doctor Spenser try to talk themselves out of this mess, he answer with a hesitant “I wasn’t planning on killing anyone today.” This only adds to the confusion to Sir Randel, Doctor Spenser and Mister Lucroy, forcing Mister Palange to offer a very quick explanation. Doctor Spenser, falling back on what he knows, asks if she is of the Fae, but the Negress responds by declaring that “the dark ones call us Anansi,” an answer that means nothing to him or the rest of the crew present; if she is not Fae nor an ally of the Master of Crows, he declares then he has no quarrel with her.
  • To her question about why have they come here, Doctor Spenser declares curiosity, as this house has a dark reputation and they sought to uncover the truth. This prompts “Miss Anansi” to state that, “We follow the vibrations in the Great Web, followed them here. We seek answers to mysteries, questions we have not yet asked. We found strange patterns here.” This prompts both Sir Randel and Doctor Spenser to ask for more information; the former wants to know about these patterns while the latter wishes to know if she can teach others this ability. She responds with “The Slayer came to destroy us. It was strong and fearless. We mated with it and then we consumed it.” This revelation causes Mister Palange to attempt a discreet loading of his Gun with one of the silver rounds, but the Negress clearly notes this and disintegrates into a pile of spiders, a sight that causes all of the crew save Doctor Spenser to react in utter panic.
  • As his crew react in horror at this turn of events, Doctor Spenser desperately tries to salvage the situation by addressing the darkness and insisting that they mean no harm and that Mister Palange acted in haste. They have no quarrel with her. From behind the doctor, the voice states, “It said it would not destroy us.” He continues to try and reassure the unseen entity, while Mister Lucroy begins eyeing the chute they slid down and seriously considering fleeing. “We touched the Slayer’s great Weapon and sensed its path. We returned the Weapon to its room to be found to continue its journey. We saw that you would come this day. You are at the center of a strange web not of the Weaver’s making. We will watch you to discover its Maker.” To Doctor Spenser, this sounds like a fantastic idea, though he hesitates briefly when the dark woman-shaped figure, now barely visible once more in the shadows, states, “This one will give us its hand. It will give it freely and it will not be harmed.” Clinging to his Britishness, Doctor Spenser offers his hand as a gentleman to seal the bargain…
  • “Miss Anansi” blurs forward and bites the doctor on the arm, then withdraws just as quickly. This is enough for Mister Lucroy who clambers up the chute and flees as the shadows tell Doctor Spenser, “We have tasted its Essence. We can find it wherever it goes. It may leave us now.” With those words, the shadow opens its eyes. All eight of them. Once again, Doctor Spenser is the only one who is unaffected; Sir Randel is once again frozen in place while Mister Palange simply faints in terror. A moment later, the shadows toss out a book and some miscellaneous items, all webbed together. Still embracing his Britishness, Doctor Spenser thanks her for her kindness and hospitality, while wryly commenting that Mister Palange was clearly overcome by her generosity so it may take a few moments for him to recover. In parting, Miss Anansi states, “The Slayer left behind a journal-book. It knew so many things yet it had no answers. You will take it now. It is part of the Path.
  • After they depart, the cottage now appears to be little more than ruins. Of Mister Lucroy, there is no sign as he has already fled back to the Graceful Dame and Sir Randel desperately longs for arms of the merchant woman he met earlier to wash out these memories, while Doctor Spenser and Mister Palange are both eager to study this journal-book though the latter wants a stiff drink beforehand. Perhaps three.
  • While the ashore party is off interacting with Miss Anansi, Captain Hayden and Leftenant Rogers have a meal with the captain of the Princess Mary and agree to form a convoy for mutual protection; this will require a few additional days as the Princess Mary have to resupply. At the Anchor and Chain, the two encounter Leftenant Bull who has been informed that Captain Lockhart is quite willing to meet with his old acquaintance at the fort. Opting to take Leftenant Rogers with him, Captain Hayden heads to the fort to pay his respects and request assistance.
  • Needless to say, this meeting is quite tense due to the harsh feelings between the two captains, but once they get down to brass tacks and work through the ramifications of what it will mean for Captain Lockhart’s career should the Rumjack act as expected. Eventually, the captain agrees to have the Pelican arrive at a certain location on a certain day, hoping to catch the cutter in the process of committing piracy so they can legally take her as a prize. As they make ready to depart, Captain Hayden offers a heartfelt apology to his old rival, who accepts it in the spirit that is offered.
  • Time passes, during which time the Princess Mary race to make ready to set sail once more. By noon on the 20th, they have finished and send word to Captain Hayden that they are preparing to embark. Sir Randel composes a provoking letter that he has delivered to the Rumjack. As the crew of the Graceful Dame make ready to sail themselves, a stranger rushes up to the Dame, hoping to speak with the captain; this is a Mister Atwell, who has a post he would like them to deliver to a Raynard Adler should they reach Nassau. He offers a shilling for this with a promise of another shilling upon receipt, which is far more than the post is usually worth. Mister Atwell shrugs off Captain Hayden’s mention that this is too much.
  • As the Graceful Dame sets sail with the Princess Mary, the crew can see that the Rumjack is also making ready to depart as well…

Player Notes:

  • After the fact, I discovered that the reference to a straitjacket is anachronistic as the first reference to them dates to 1772 according to Wikipedia … which never lies to us.
  • I’m experimenting with the use of titles for the characters in an attempt to entertain myself and double-down on the Britishness … which means I need to run this through a British spell-check, at some point. I think the use of “Negress” is also period appropriate and is not intended to be used offensively. God, I hate that I have to throw in disclaimers like that in this day and age…
  • The encounter with “Ms. Anansi” should have been Davino’s time to shine … but he basically freaked out due to the dice (alongside Sir Randel) so Artegal had to step up. Clearly, Spenser leaned heavily into the whole “Stiff Upper Lip” angle. Now that he’s aware that the Gun is supposed to be able to kill anything, he’s going to be far more interested in its capabilities in the future…
  • Interestingly, I think this is the first time that Artegal has referred to the “Master of Crows” around any of the other PCs, but no one seemed to notice it at the time.
  • This is also the first time we’ve seen real supernatural stuff instead of presumed ones.
  • After the fact, some of us realized that Captain Hayden failed to ask Captain Lockhart about the ghost ship and his son. We may need to retcon that a tiny bit with a flashback or something.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

Command Crew of the Graceful Dame

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I-VI. Santo Domingo, Hispaniola. Thursday, January 11, 1725 Anno Domini

  • Sir Randel wakes, alone in an unfamiliar bed somewhere and thoroughly naked. He finds his clothes on the dresser, along with a pouch of coin and a note telling him to be gone before noon. Vaguely amused, he dresses and departs this sugar plantation, finding a coach waiting for him.
  • With the monies from the previous day’s excursions, Artegal seeks out and purchases the cello that he observed for sale while seeking potential cargos. He then returns to the ship, pausing to finalize the supply replenishment.
  • Captain Hayden arranges for a meeting with the record-keeper regarding the capture of his son by the Spanish on the following day (Friday); he arranged to have Artegal accompany him, knowing that the doctor’s skills will be useful.
  • Everyone spends the rest of Thursday doing odd jobs as appropriate; on Friday, Hayden and Spenser spend a little more than an hour looking over the limited records available for the period from which Hayden’s son was captured, but discover nothing.
  • As the crew prepares to set sail, Robert Moggridge addresses the master of the ship, Hayden, about departing on a Friday; according to sailor superstition, this is hideously bad luck. Hayden does not buy into this but agrees with a suggestion by Mister Bold to bring a priest aboard to bless the Dame and counteract the bad luck. This mollifies Mister Moggridge, though once they set sail and nearly run aground on a sandbar, he gives Hayden a warning look…
  • That day, Artegal notes that Mister Moggridge looks out of sorts and, upon further investigation, determines that the older is developing an inflammation of the lungs. At his suggestion, Hayden puts Moggridge on light duty so Spenser can monitor him.
  • The following day, on Saturday, a sail is sighted heading the same direction that the Graceful Dame is heading; several members of the crew lay bets upon when they will meet with the other ship, identified as the Princess Mary, an English trade ship. Mister Furlong wins the bet. The Proud Mary hails them for news.
  • On Sunday, following divine services, a strange, hairy, naked man climbs aboard the Graceful Dame, much to everyone’s blatant disbelief as there is no land or other ships remotely close to them. This stranger sniffs loudly in the direction of Dora who visibly recoils; he then dives overboard once more … and vanishes although some of the crew later see a larger tiger shark swimming away, prompting Rogers to presume the man was eaten. This bizarre event leaves everyone off-kilter for some time, with Sir Randel becoming thoroughly convinced that merfolk are real and he’s just seen one. Dora is unable to shed any light on this odd matter.
  • A minor hull leak is discovered on Monday the 15th and easily repaired by Mister Bold who has found himself named engineer; that evening, Mister Moggridge’s condition takes a turn for the worse, with a fierce fever setting in that Doctor Spenser focuses on.
  • By Wednesday, January 17, Mister Moggridge’s fever has broken and he is on the mend. Late that evening, the Graceful Dame arrives outside Barbados. Hayden opts to drop anchor until on sunrise Thursday morning when they sail into port.
  • Ashore, the crew split to attend personal business. As Barbados was Davino’s objective, Artegal accompanies him to the hall of records in an attempt to discover the origins of Misericordia. It is revealed that the previous owner was a man named Darragh Campbell who vanished from the boarding house that he was living in; the two then visit this boarding house to question the women who owns it. They learn that other men have, in the past, asked about Darragh’s belongings, and that the Scot spent a great deal of time in a nearby tavern. Thanking her for this (limited) information, the two go to the tavern where they discover Sir Randel already present.
  • At the docks, Leftenant Rogers is keeping a lecherous eye on Dora who is watching the water when he notes the arrival of a familiar cutter: the Rumjack has arrived in Barbados…

Player Notes:

  • The way Randel (CommJunkee’s character) woke up was an intentional homage by Gigermann to an old D&D game that I ran probably close to twenty years ago where I had CommJunkee’s character at the time wake up in an identical manner.
  • Amusingly, all of the PCs failed their Fright Checks vs the naked man who showed up on the boat, sniffed at Dora, then dove back into the water. CommJunkee failed worst and ended up with a 10 pt-delusion that he promptly decided was “Merfolk are real and I’ve seen one.” The player then very much embraced this. After the fact, I (Rigil) should have had Artegal arguing that it was not a merman we’d seen, but rather a selkie (since he’s all about Faerie Lore.)
  • I also failed to properly utilze Artegal’s Serendipity during the bet. Need to keep that in mind.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.