Poetry

Years ago, I came across a poem on an internet site. I can’t remember the site, or the Game system, or the author. However, I do love the poem – it, to me, sums up fantasy roleplaying to a ‘T’. So I’m going to re-post it here.

To repeat – I didn’t write this, no challenge or plagiarism is intended.

Our fortunes cast in arcane currents,
Our hearts joyful, though far from home.
On rolling waves in the Astral sea,
We sail beneath the moon and stars.
Have you a wish? It’s ours to answer,
Or pay your fare on our voyage of dreams,
Over mountains, seas, and endless sands, 
A hundred cities, before you’ll see home.
Open the sails and steer the wheel.
The star-shine smiles on our endeavour.
Which way blows the wind?
And what will our fortunes be?

Isn’t it fantastic? I have a copy inside my GM notes and on the front page of the notebook I use for the Journal of Sica Sendrillar. Every time I read it I get a ‘sense of wonder.’

The House at Codun

Grateful for the return of his prize Rukomol and true to his word, Ruko Uolis bought the Wayfarers a house on the edge of the town of Codun (in the Pytharon Empire).

                The sale took some time to go through; it was on the 29th of Prevaen when they headed out to view their new house. It wasn’t quite what they were expecting. A screen of hedges and vegetation hid a perfectly circular lake, crossed by four bridges at the north, south east and west. The bridges led to a circular island; on this was a building that looked like a pile of stone globes or spheres piled on top of one another in a random pattern. Many of the spheres had asymmetric curved windows set in them; some were obviously open to the sky, like balconies. There was one doorway, facing south, with a clump of smaller pods / globes next to it.

Galadiir strode towards the doorway. The nearest pod split open to reveal a tooth-lined maw and a set of grasping tendrils – an Orgulous! Galadiir was struck and grasped by the tendrils, which started to pull him into the mouth. Harrylock leapt forward to help him and a second Orgulous opened and attacked him. He was not so lucky; the stinging venom on the tendrils paralysed him and he was dragged towards the creature. Sonny charged his verred and severed the tendril holding Harrylock; Galadiir used Ice Onslaught to break free; almost immediately the creature grabbed him again. A second Ice Onslaught hurt the creature and it released him and closed up. Judson shot successive arrows into the other Orgulous and it released Harrylock and closed up.

They decided to come back later and deal with the Orgulous * Passing through the entrance, they went through a kind of force field and into an entrance hall.

(GM: The entire house is a series of globular rooms arranged on top of each other, linked by curving stairs, or sometimes on the same level, with just a slight step up or down. I gave them an expanded map of the house with named areas showing the links, and let them explore.)

They first of all went to the Force Room; Galadiir and Judson were seized by an invisible hand of force and thrown against the far wall, taking some damage. They continued up the outside stairs to the East Balcony, Harrylock and Sonny went up to the Kitchen.

In the Kitchen, they found it a well-equipped and spotless food preparation area. At one side was a large machine wearing a chef’s hat at a jaunty angle. There was a speaker grille, a dial reading 1-10 and a large green button. Sonny pressed the button. The machine spoke, with an outrageous French accent: –

“Ah, M’seur, you have made an excellent choice. I, Henri-Louis, will prepare for you Sauted Serand Roots with a Scange dressing. It will be ready immediately.”

A panel slid open and out came a plate with a steaming dish of food on it. Sonny tried the food; it was delicious.

Judson turned the dial to ‘10’ and pressed the button.

“Ah, M’seur, you have made an excellent choice for your banquet. I, Henri-Louis, will prepare for you Sauted Serand Roots with a Scange dressing. It will be ready in a short time”.

Sometime later, the panel slid open and out came ten plates of steaming food.

The East Balcony was overgrown with a moss-like flower. Galadiir and Judson went through into the Living Room. There was a dining table and eight chairs, as well as low sofas arranged around an opaque globe. The globe didn’t seem to do anything, so they went through to the Kitchen. Galadiir pressed the button.

“Ah, M’seur, you have made an excellent choice. I, Henri-Louis, will prepare for you a selection of Chatowsis in Arrakhee. It will be ready immediately.”

The panel slid open and a plate of food slid out. It was yellow balls of something in a thick brown sauce; it stank like an unwashed dog. Galadiir picked it up and threw it in the bin.

Judson set the dial to ‘3’ and got three plates of delicious Wegan Bean stew topped with flaked Scarrap. He ate all of them, stating he was hungry**

Galadiir and Judson headed up to the Library, Sonny and Harrylock went down to the Basement. They found the Cellar, stocked with all types of rare vintages; some possibly not of this world. The Imagination Room, with its weird shifting images, gave them a headache. They headed down to the Basement.

                In the Library, they found a windowless room with many synth panels covering the walls. A central dais held a circular panel on a pedestal. Galadiir found how to activate it; the Library was an Asset to any general research tasks. Moving up to the Study, this was another windowless room with a large synth panel on one wall and a table showing a map of the Steadfast. The map was not active.

“There must be a power switch somewhere. Is it in the basement perhaps?”

Sonny and Harrylock entered the basement; it was dark and they were using a glowglobe. Just too late, Harrylock yelled a warning; Sonny walked into a Steel Spider web that sliced into him. The spiders were alerted and moved to attack; Harrylock backed off; yelling to Sonny to do the same. Sonny elected to stand and fight;*** it soon became obvious that he was outmatched.  He did use a tactic of sending an electric charge through the webs; creating an area effect. However, he was bitten and badly hurt by the injected monofilament. He retreated back to the Kitchen.

The Observatory was a hemisphere; open to the sky but covered by a window field (they had found that all of the windows were covered by a force field that stopped wind and rain getting in.) In the centre of the room stood a three-armed device; designed to rotate. A simple examination showed that each of the arms was made to have something attached to it.

In the Upper Hall, Galadiir found a niche in the wall with a bracelet in it. The bracelet had a series of tiny lights set in it, along with the inscription ‘”Mi raba in nehati predvajati enega”. He did not recognise the language; he put on the bracelet.

Back in the Kitchen, they decided to take on the Steel Spiders in the basement. The fight was fairly straightforward, although Harrylock stumbled into a large piece of web and was hurt, this shook him as he is not used to taking damage. Eventually the spiders were killed. ****

Searching the room (taking extra care because of the monofilament web left); Judson found a Needle Pistol and Sonny found a Rejuvenation cypher. A control panel turned on the power to the house; they could seal the front door; turn off the Force Room and operate the lights in each room.

The day was drawing late and they decided to turn in for the night. There were six bedrooms available; each was identical. A bathroom / fresher removed all grime and dirt using sonic force; the bed was a disc on the floor with a suspensor field projected above it.

The following morning they awoke to find Galadiir was missing. A note was in the living area, on the table.

“My friends. The time has come that I must go away. I may return; but I may not be the same person that you knew. I have left some item in my room – use them wisely. G” ****

End of Adventure

XP = 2

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GM

* Actually, their first thought was to go and find Uolis and beat him up for selling them a turkey.

** The 29th is the night of the Full Moon – Judson’s warning timer isn’t working.

*** Interesting. Sonny’s player (Joe) actually has a phobia against spiders.

**** So does Matt

***** This is actually a parting of the ways. Matt is off to university (in Leicester) and so will not be a regular Wayfarer.  We are hoping that, once he is settled in, that maybe we can Game still on a Tuesday using Skype.

 

 

Thirty Minutes After Midnight – II

Episode 2 – A Race against Time

            “I suggest you hurry. The fuses are set for thirty minutes after midnight and you have a long way to go.”

            The projector clicked off and began to rewind automatically.

“So, we have intruders?” The voice came from the door

            Outside, Jack sat bolt upright and nudged Alex. Four Chinese figures were approaching the car; four more were going into the door of the restaurant.

            “You will surrender and come with us”. The speaker was a Chinaman, wearing a red headband. Flanking him were two others; both wearing headbands.

“Why? Where are we going?” countered Yozmodius. He glanced at Dr Zeus.

“You are going downstairs. Lady Sin wishes you to speak to her.”

“I’m going nowhere.” Yoz went to pull his gun; the nearest Chinaman leapt across the room and made a series of lightning-fast karate chops at him. Yoz was Shaken and Wounded! Another Chinaman attacked Zeus; with a similar result. They needed no further prompting; they both surrendered. *

Outside, Jack and Alex watched the Chinese approach the car. They closed the windows and prepared to sit it out. This changed when one of the Chinamen threw a burning firecracker / flare into the the car; it missed but it freaked out Jack. He floored the gas and threw the car round the corner; out into the street. The Chinese made no moves to stop them. They drove through Curtistown for a time, then returned to the ‘Wing Yip’ to observe from across the street.

Yoz and Dr Zeus were taken downstairs into the basement and locked in a cell. Two Chinese stayed on guard; they would not respond or communicate with the prisoners. Sometime later the door opened and in walked a stunningly beautiful Asian woman, wearing a Cheongsam; flanked by two hard-faced Chinamen. She gestured with a hand and one of the guards began to fill the cistern of the Water Torture device. She walked close to the bars of the cell.

“ I am Lady Sin. I work for the Shadow Sun Syndicate and I am Lo Fat’s chief interrogator. You will eventually tell me everything I want to know. Who of you wants to be the first?”

“Me!” yelled Dr Zeus. He then proceeded to tell Lady Sin of everything that they knew about the bracelets; what they were and the plot to destroy the Combined Fuel Depot, **

“There,” cooed Lady Sin. “That wasn’t so hard, was it? The Syndicate rewards those who help it.”

Without warning; both Yoz and Dr Zeus had bracelets snapped around their wrists.

“You have seen the film. The fuses are set for thirty minutes after midnight. You have seventeen hours.”

Dr Zeus called after her. “I’d like to see you again.” Lady Sin turned and smiled. “You would not ever want to meet me again, the pleasure would be mine only.”

Outside; Jack and Alex saw Dr Zeus and Yoz run from the building and noted the bracelets.

“Drive!”, yelled Yoz. “We have to get to the bunker and the keys.”

The drive from Port Douglas to the fuel depot took eleven hours ***. The depot was up a dirt track off the main road. A large hill with a set of double doors was surrounded by a wire fence; a few lights on poles illuminated the inside. Guarding the fence were three soldiers wearing US military fatigues. A fourth soldier manned a .50 cal. MG mounted on a jeep ****

The plan they came up with was so convoluted that it just had to work! Jack and Alex boldly marched up to the main gate and asked for directions to Boston (about 2880 miles!). They then started arguing in a mixture of Spanish and Italian; distracting the guards while Yoz and Dr Zeus broke in though the fence. Zeus used his Invisibility Belt and Yoz managed to sneak across to the warehouse door. The main doors were huge, but there was a smaller access door. It was locked, but Yoz used his lockpicking skills to open it and they got inside.

The depot was huge, large warehouse-sized rooms filled with drums of fuel oil, gasoline and aviation fuel, lit by the occasional bulb. There did not appear to be any guards inside. They began searching everywhere for the keys to the bracelets. ***** With about two hours remaining they actually found three keys; they unlocked their bracelets and left the third key in plain sight. They succeeded in sneaking out again through the hole in the fence and ran down to the road, where Jack and Alex were waiting in the car.

“Drive!” yelled Yoz, “there’s only about thirty minutes left.” Sure enough, the bracelets were growing warm and beginning to sizzle; giving off acrid fumes. After twenty minutes they pulled up by a lake; Zeus and Yoz hurled the bracelets as far as they could into the water; then they drove off. Shortly afterwards there was a muffled explosion and a ball of white flame rose over the trees behind them.

Back in Port Douglas, Jack was relieved to find that his apartment had not exploded in flames. However, Swallow’s body and the bracelet were missing. The window to the apartment had been forced open. A note was on the fire mantelpiece, it read

“You have not heard the last of me”

XP = 2

=============================================================================

GM notes

* Pulp Benny awarded for surrendering to overwhelming force.

** Hindrance: Big Mouth

*** Used a modified Dramatic Task to determine how long it took

**** An anachronism – the Jeep was first produced in 1940. This was probably an experimental Chrysler model.

***** They were firmly convinced that there were no keys and that they would not be able to remove the bracelets (GM: The Shadow Sun Syndicate aren’t that evil – or are they?)

* Has anyone spotted where the inspiration for this adventure came from? It would be FAB if you did.

Thrilling Adventure Stories – 3

Thirty Minutes after Midnight

Part 1 – Secrets of Chinatown

After their stay in England as guests of Lord Starling and a tour of the British Isles (Stonehenge, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Buckingham Palace) Jack, Dr Zeus, Yoz and Alex returned to Port Douglas. They spent some of their money on various things; Jack bought his apartment in the Garment District, overlooking the river, and Zeus invested in a posh car, a Chrysler Airflow.  It was whilst out in the car one afternoon that the incident occurred: –

“What the deuce!” exclaimed Jack, who was driving. He wrenched the wheel to the side as a light grey sedan sideswiped them as it sped past. He was able to keep control and sped off in pursuit.

“My car,” wailed Dr Zeus. “They’ll pay for that damage.”

Jack managed to keep the sedan in sight, but it was a faster car and was slowly pulling away. Jack pulled out all the stops and closed up to about 30 feet behind the other car.

“I’ll stop them,” said Yozmodius; pulling both his guns he leant out of the window and loosed off a series of shots at the rear tyres. The results were spectacular; the car spun and exploded in a white-hot ball of flame; one body flying out of the explosion.

“What did you hit!” said Jack, aghast. Dr Zeus looked more thoughtful. “That’s not a normal gasoline fire. Stop the car.”

The heat from the fire was intense; the metal was beginning to buckle and melt. There were two bodies in the car; there was no hope of saving them. Yoz and Jack went to the other body. It was a white, middle-aged male wearing a business suit. He wore a wristwatch on his left wrist and a curious metal bracelet on his right wrist. It was metal, broad, thick and heavy, with a series of red panels set in the upper surface. Yoz tried to take it off; it was locked on, with an intricate lock. He tried to pick the lock but it was not a normal one and he couldn’t do it.

Zeus looked in the man’s billfold; his name was Herbert Swallow, an agricultural machinery salesman with an address in Gloverton. There was a photograph of an attractive dark-haired woman, $50 in cash and a matchbook bearing the logo of the ‘Wing Yip’ Chinese restaurant, in Chinatown.

There was a car approaching, a black Duesenberg. It slowly drove past, the rear window open; then speeded up and off into the distance. They put Swallow’s body into the trunk and headed back to Jack’s Waterside apartment.

Zeus took a closer look at the bracelet, but was unable to find out anything more. They decided to split up *, Yoz and Dr Zeus decided to play the part of detectives from the PDPD and Jack and Alex went to check out the ‘Wing Yip’.

The address in Gloverton was typical for the area, a grassy yard and a detached house in a friendly street. A dark-haired woman answered the door. Some fancy (and lucky) Persuasion from Yoz convinced her who they were and she invited them in. She was Jennifer Swallow, Swallow’s wife, and was visibly upset at the news of his death. They were able to find out: –

  1. a) Swallow was a salesman, he worked for Argyll Agricultural & Tool Suppliers, based in Newton. He left for work this morning as usual. He caught the bus, he didn’t drive. **
  2. b) He wasn’t worried or concerned about anything as far as she knew.
  3. c) His job involved selling tractors and ploughs and stuff to farmers.
  4. d) She gave him the watch for their wedding anniversary; she didn’t know what the bracelet was. They had been married for twenty years.
  5. e) They had never been blessed with children.
  6. f) She would, of course, give the police her full co-operation.

They left and headed off into Newton, to check out Argyll Agricultural & Tool Suppliers.

Jack and Alex headed off through the Curtistown Tenements, heading for Chinatown.

“Watch your step here,” warned Alex. “Even the big gangs like my old lot don’t mess with Chinatown. This place is run by the Shadow Sun Syndicate; has been for years. Head guy is called Sun Lo Fat.”

Jack laughed at this. Alex glanced at him, alarmed. “That’s what I mean, bud. Them that laugh at the guy’s name have things … happen to them.”

The ‘Wing Yip’ was a non-descript building on a side street; with an alleyway down one side. There was an upper floor with a few windows. The outside was hung with Chinese lanterns. Inside was a décor of Chinese motifs in red, yellow and gold. A smiling waiter approached them.

“You want table and see menu? We offer plenty good food, the best in town.

“We’d like a table upstairs”, said Jack. “You know … upstairs?” ***

Still smiling, the waiter shook his head. “No upstairs. Private. You order now?”

Jack and Alex ordered a Chow Mein with crispy noodles each while they thought of a plan. Doing some observation, they saw a door behind the front counter that had some stairs up. While Alex paid, Jack tried to go through the door, but was stopped by another waiter.

“No go here. Private.”

“Sorry, I was looking for the restroom”.

At Argyll Agricultural & Tool Suppliers, Yoz and Dr Zeus spoke to the manager. Swallow didn’t turn up for work that morning. Everyone else clocked in as normal. When asked about the ‘Wing Yip’, the manager was surprised that Swallow would go there as neither he nor his wife liked foreign food. Swallow was just a regular guy, he was ok at his job and produced results. A look round his desk produced nothing ****

Back at the apartment they pooled notes and formulated some theories.

  1. a) Swallow left for work that morning and never arrived
  2. b) He was thrown from an exploding car that afternoon, wearing a strange bracelet that cannot be removed.
  3. c) The bracelet must have been put on after he left for work
  4. d) Everything points to the ‘Wing Yip’, but Swallow hated Chinese food.

They climbed back into the Chrysler and headed back to the ‘Wing Yip’. It was in darkness. Yoz and Dr Zeus left to check out the building; Jack and Alex stayed in the car.

The outer door was locked; Yoz was able to pick the lock easily. The rear door led to the kitchens; there were stairs up and down. Yoz produced a battery torch and went down. The basement contained a series of barred alcoves with lockable gates; cells designed to hold humans. In the centre of the room was a stone bed with chain restraints; over it hung a water-filled stone pitcher. A device to inflict the Chinese Water Torture! Yoz looked for some way to break the infernal device, but there was none. At the far end of the cellar was an area of wall blackened and burnt from intense heat; the remains of part-melted chains hung from heavy staples set in the stone.

Calling to Zeus to follow, Yoz went upstairs. A locked door led to a room with four beds and half a dozen chairs facing a screen. In front of the screen was a cine reel projector. Zeus clicked the switch to ‘on’ and the film began to play.

The film showed a curtain, with a shadow behind it. A voice speaks, a Cultured American, with a trace of a Japanese accent.

“Gentlemen. You have been selected for a mission. Please look and listen carefully to these instructions. There is not time to repeat them. Please watch the film.

The film shows a huge underground warehouse, filled with barrels of fuel oil and aviation fuel.

This is the Combined Forces Fuel Supply depot, in Oregon. Your mission is simple. You will travel there and leave behind the bracelets that you are wearing.”

Pause

“Do not attempt to remove them, the steel is unbreakable. They can only be removed with the correct key. That key is inside the depot. Each bracelet contains a powerful incendiary explosive; timed to go off at thirty minutes after midnight tonight.

Pause

“You doubt me? Then continue to watch the film. This man laughed at my name.

                [A horrible scene; a prisoner wears one of the bracelets, chained to a stone wall. The bracelet explodes into a burning white-hot flame that engulfs the prisoner; burning them to ashes. The chains have melted; the stones are glowing from the heat.]

“I suggest you hurry. The fuses are set for thirty minutes after midnight and you have a long way to go.”

The projector clicked off and began to rewind automatically.

“So, we have intruders?” The voice came from the door. *****

Outside, Jack sat bolt upright and nudged Alex. Four Chinese figures were approaching the car; four more were going into the door of the restaurant.

Stay Tuned for the next issue of Thrilling Adventure Stories – A Race against Time

 

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GM notes

* Again! Every Game they do this.

** I did have to keep reminding the players of the time period – not everybody drove or owned a car; not every house had a telephone.

*** Jack was hinting at a private club / speakeasy; even though Prohibition ended in 1933; such clubs continued until the 1940’s, and still do today in the guise of ‘Gentlemen’s Clubs’.

****     Harry “Does he have a computer?”

Matt “In the 1930’s, a computer would be as big as this house”

***** Chandler’s Law

GM: There is an Easter Egg here; has anyone spotted it? Comments welcome