Sunday, June 5, 2016

Demonic Trails of Cthulhu Prelude (Part One)

We worked a lot on the ambiance for this one.
Our first demonic Trails of Cthulhu session was a hefty 12 hours where we all dressed up in period costume and ate fitting foods as the day wore on.  We began with their pre-fall experiences and I read our choice sections of Gaviel's speech as description (from the core rule-book), making sure to keep good eye contact throughout so that it could be far more gripping.  We also dined on delicious raspberry pancakes during this section for morning tea.  Some of the roleplaying highlights included:

·        Shifting the focus from two humans to a very specific immortal yet reproducing race of humans meant that a lot of Asharu (guardian angels) had to be re-directed from other animals to the human race.  This meant that a messenger sub-type of guardian angels, Haruta (NPC), ended up having to protect his own tribe.  Haruta's restless boredom and urge for stimulation, the way he would almost allow his mortals to thirst to see if there was a reaction, gave good contrast to Nithriel's (PC) forthright devotion and desire to protect his tribe as well as her own.  Of course, in the days of paradise humans mingled and passed between groups fearlessly and without much comprehension that they even had swapped around.

·        Abaddon (NPC), herself, confronting Nithriel when she withered and removed some thorny bushes so that mortals could sleep in the shade, thus slowly destroying that species (as all the other Asharu did the same for their tribes).

·        Protecting humans while allowing them to largely wander where they may could prove quite difficult, such as when an Annunaki (landscape crafting angel) called Gipontel (PC) had to tunnel a hole in the side of an about to erupt volcano so that humans could cross it without fear.  The trouble was that the lava was directed into a valley where Abaddon had been storing plants and animals considered too problematic by the other angels, thus ensuring their deaths and, in some cases, extinction.  Since Abaddon is to be an Arch Duke of the ultra-violent Ebon Legion, this should prove interesting indeed.

·        Finally understanding the Ebon Legion's creation in a time before true hatred and violence when Haruta (NPC) saw little point in continuing to protect mortal humans since they would die soon anyway.  Instead he wanted to win the war against god to remove mortality from humans and saw fixation on that goal as a better path.  In other words good intentions could still lead to the Ebon Legion.

·        Seeing early days Nithriel (who doesn't change much through her fall) and Gipontel (who does) is quite interesting.  Early Gipontel has all the social awkwardness of his kind and none of the political grace he will later obtain.

·        Humanity were hidden in a number of cave networks around the world by the Annunaki (angels of the material world) while the Namaru (angels of power and originally the word of God) created a defence against radiation and heat when God smote the Earth (actually a solar flare).  The Asharu (angels of the wind and life) then had to rush off to separate carbon from oxygen and recapture oxygen lost to space to re-form the correct atmosphere.  Within a week humans were back on the world.

July 1923

I had dressed as Gwen Ashburn (NPC).
Then we moved to the human prelude where Master Theodore Ashburne of Astley (PC) and his family are being entertained at the Mogens Estate, New York, as part of a business venture with his father.  Ambrose Mogens is not in attendance (or so they thought) but a number of his investors and other important figures are, though the Earl of Astley finds the whole thing rather humiliating since Ambrose (reclusive millionaire as he is) didn't come out of hiding to see him.

Ingrid Kensington (PC), daughter of Jonah and Julia Kensington of Prospero Press, and student pathologist is also in attendance as she had been invited along by her supervisor, Mr. Rupert Harper, as his Plus One.  Mr. Rupert Harper misunderstood the timing on the invitation and arrived for dinner rather than the gathering afterward but the staff managed to flawlessly include them in the dinner.  Miss Kensington spoke mainly to an alleged medical engineer working of new plastic surgery techniques involving skin grafting - a Mr. Maximillian.  Later she determines that he is a conman, though he declares himself a financier in disguise, because she notices how much he searches the room for angles and opportunity.

Little did she realise that Mr. Maximillian was none other than Ambrose Mogens himself!

We celebrated this dinner with a well-laid table and a variety of yummy sandwiches.  These included such surprisingly tasty fillings as:

·        Two slices of lettuce with condensed tomato soup in between.

·        Sliced cucumber, salt, pepper and dill, with cream cheese on one slice.

·        Mashed banana with raspberry jam spread.

·        Raspberry jam and cream cheese.

·        Sliced tomato, lettuce and cream cheese, with pepper.

·        And then two different types of little tarts, bought from Woolworths.

Later Master Theodore and his sister, Miss Gwen, moved out of the busier main rooms during the main party and came across a partially opened trophy room filled with all kinds of strange relics.  Naturally Miss Gwen became enamoured with a carved silver skull with a key between its teeth and a book of Latin above it.  She asked Master Theodore to read it out to her, since she could understand spoken Latin better than written Latin.  Poor boy soon realised that once he started reading, he couldn't stop, and with nothing more than a glance her way before his eyes were ripped back toward the book, he unleashed hell.

Miss Gwen was slain instantly, dropping dead at the feet of that dread book, while Master Theodore was knocked across the room and laid up by the door (quickly possessed by Gipontel).  Feeling a strange calling sensation, Ingrid Kensington hurried their way and upon discovering the dead girl, having never previously met the owner of the corpses she dealt with, she was utterly horrified.  And in her moment of weakness, Ingrid was slain as Nithriel slammed into ownership of her body.  Nithriel immediately set about resurrecting Miss Gwen as the body was quite fresh, but the poor sixteen-year-old twin remained unconscious.

This allowed Nithriel and Gipontel to speak and realise their true identities.  Gipontel peeled back the marquetry flooring and hid both skull and book underneath, shortly before Mr. Maximillian opened the door and took the three of them (Miss Gwen, he carried) into a sitting room.  There he opened some cognac (which one of my players brought along) to discuss matters and introduced himself as Belphigor.

Both players chose to spend a point of Legacy so we had a flashback to their first encounters with Belphigor.

·        Nithriel wished to heal those mortal followers of God (their enemy) of the wicked disease that another of her kind, an Asharu called Riyazagor, the Black Wind, had wrought upon them.  None of the other Iron Legion were willing to risk his wrath and enter his land … except for Belphigor.  Once they arrived a few mortals tried to signal God's angels, but instead Riyazagor arrived with his squad, and threatened to slay them both for treasonously healing the enemy.  Haruta, one of Riyazagor's subordinates, stepped forward for he didn't want to be responsible for either of their deaths (though he namely pointed out that it was a poor day to kill the Radiant Champion, Belphigor).  So instead the two duelled while the others watched and Belphigor put on a good show while Nithriel smuggled the humans out.  Later when she returns to help him, the others have gone and Belphigor is limping weakly toward her, one damaged wing fluttering.

·        Gipontel had been tricked through political machinations into assisting Belphegor (twin soul of Belphigor and Lady of Sighs) in the cruel citadel-fortress of Ninatan (Palace of Sighs) built in the bowels of a volcano.  We played through his conversation with Belphegor as she eagerly mentions that her brother has offered himself to her so long as she released her mortal test subjects, but she simply took him in and kept the others.  She now needs Gipontel to reinforce the fortresses defences.  Though she betrayed him, Belphigor remains for the full year and a day out of honour and doubtless also out of hope that she might at least release the mortals with him at the end of their time.  She does not.  When he leaves, though, he leaves with three converted fallen and then assaults the fortress using weak points that Gipontel had cunningly hidden among its defences.  It's during their conversations that Gipontel becomes more politically astute, learning how to influence through words alone, and how to identify such influence.  The training isn't formal, more subtle revelations seeded through Belphigor's words, as it seems the Radiant Champion knew from the beginning what Gipontel would do.

Nithriel asks if there is a job she could do for the important and influential figure, this Radiant Champion, this Fell Knight of her Faustian Faction, and he is pleased to accept.  Belphigor offers to distract Theodore's parents and claim that he is convalescing and needs time alone.  He seems confidant that he can manage to do that, so Gipontel assumes he has some sort of mind controlling power, as befits a Devil of Radiance.

Anyway, the mission is long enough to require its own article so I'll type it up later.

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