When I planned Night of the Curved Knife this particular part with the cruise ship and the investigators attempt to prevent a major mythos tragedy at sea, was supposed to just be just the conclusion. On thinking about it, I quickly realized that this was actually the most interesting part of the investigation in many ways and had a huge amount of potential to it. So I began expanding this part dramatically and writing much more material for it, concluding the previous investigation as well (thus giving the players an extra build point too).
The premise for this investigation was to design Cthulhudo, which involved using some of the tiles from the board game “Save Doctor Lucky” on a cruise ship. This helps give a visual reference for where everything was on the ship and basically encouraged the investigators to look at each room to gather clues. Hence why I was thinking of Cluedo while I was writing it. Of course, before we could even step foot on any ships in this game there were other things to sort out.
Things involving consequences.
The elephant in the roleplaying table today was what had happened to Anastasia? Well it turns out that some men broke into the store and attacked her, with the CCTV footage conveniently going dark during the whole ordeal. This was unfortunate because as Anastasia nearly bled to death in the process, she couldn’t tell them who did it or why they did it. The saving grace was her sister, Ophelia, coming by at just the right moment to save the day… scrawling something in the language of magic across the cut wrists of Anastasia at the same time (as the CCTV in the store had recovered to notice this to a clever observer).
Naturally the investigators went and visited Anastasia in hospital, having a somewhat tense run in with the sister Ophelia, who honestly didn’t seem that happy to see them. Not that the investigators were particularly pleased with her either, because Ophelia was acting strangely defensive and they weren’t sure Anastasia had ever mentioned a sister before. Minding, Anastasia was hardly in any position to tell them the truth and it was clear that Ophelia had saved her life in any event. So the investigators begrudgingly trusted Anastasia to her care.
So if you’re wondering what happened here from an overall view, this situation happened due to things the other players have done combined with preparation. I knew that Anastasia’s player couldn’t come to this session and so I wrote this into the story well in advance. The attack and hospitalization allowed me to remove Anastasia in a logical, story supported manner and add to the tension/intrigue. Especially because a certain character made it clear that one of the investigators was apparently responsible in some way. Further repercussions of this will probably occur in a later investigation too, like a delightful ticking time bomb.
After this, the second scene of the day was finding out what happened with some behind the scenes actions that one of the investigators, Jenn, had been doing. In As Above, So Below, the investigators came across a tome called “On the Primordiality of Man”, which was in fact written by none other than Richard Edward Carlyle. Such an obscenely evil book as this was not something Jenn wanted to read for herself initially, but she decided to hand it to her source of stability Richard (no, not *that* Richard) to look at. In a previous roleplaying session out of the game, I hinted at how disturbed and haunted Richard was becoming as he digested more of the blasphemous and utterly hideous truths of this tome. Being an extremely devout and religious man – important in the Anglican Church – what could possibly go wrong?
Well, eventually it did and as Jenn drove to see him and have a catch up chat she was greeted with a terrible sight: Smoke billowing into the sky. A crowd had built up outside of the church, but there was a distinct commotion and Richard was nowhere to be seen. There was also a terrible smell: Accelerant in the form of gasoline had been dumped everywhere and someone had clearly set that fire deliberately. A mad cackling from inside confirmed Jenn’s worst initial fear, the man who had encased himself in there with a ring of fire was Richard.
Entering the church, Richard was naked, covered in oil while carrying a heavy silver candlestick in one hand and the tome in the other. He swore in Latin various insults directed at “God” while simultaneously telling Jenn to back off and saying “HOW DARE YOU SHOW ME THIS KIND OF THING?!”. Basically he’d lost his marbles and that was pretty clear from the whole dancing about naked on the altar in a burning building thing. Jenn attempted to stop him and grab the tome, but the flames began to get ever closer to the altar.
Unfortunately, going by yourself and trying to take on a crazed priest doesn’t bode well, so Jenn ended up copping a candlestick beating and had to give up on grabbing the tome off of Richard. He and presumably the tome, burned to a crisp and that was over. Or at least, that is what I wanted the scene to look like….
At this point it was time to move onto the actual investigation itself, where the first order of business after Jenn got treated for some burns was to find a way onto the cruise itself to sabotage the supposed cultist plot. This was accomplished by finding out who was invited nearby, some notable politicians especially, then Jenn and Maggie going ahead to steal the poor fellows mail. With a suitable invite, Jenn forged some copies for the others and they made a plan to infiltrate the ship.
Of course, while this was going on a most bizarre thing happened in the shop. Paul, the comatose man from Rending Box, paid the store a visit and he was distinctly upright. In fact it seemed he could read pretty quickly and had some very strange habits/demeanor (like looking over Keith side to side from the top of his head down). Unfortunately, Jenn and Maggie were not around to answer his requests, but Paul soon semi-scuttled (yes, scuttled) out of the store when he heard they weren’t there.
Surely this can’t be some kind of genuinely terrible omen for the future?
In any event, the Investigators got themselves onto the ship with Damian employing some diving skills to sneak on separately carrying their weapons (a pair of handguns and Melissa’s, still slightly bloodstained, shotgun). Here I allowed the investigators to start exploring the ship and attempt to work out who of the crew or passengers may be a part of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Zuhra, still being run by a guest player, had also infiltrated the cruise as a member of the crew and was first to notice the odd problem with the ships water: Some red organic plant was found on the various pipes.
This was soon backed up by Maggie and Jenn, who discovered that not only was this weird red growth all over the crew deck but it was dangerous as well. One mistaken drop of it onto Maggies arm burned pretty damn badly to say the least! Likewise, much of the lower crews job seemed to be scraping the stuff away on a near constant basis: A never ending war that couldn’t be won as it would seemingly grow back in places it was removed while nobody was looking. With some uniforms acquired, they began exploring the crew area more and found a crew member with a large shark bone jaw under his bed. Although not immediately suspicious, it was a good indicator that perhaps this man was a Caller (marine predators jaws are used as a focus of the ritual).
Unfortunately, Maggie couldn’t find where the guy was initially and they got distracted with a guy stealing from the casino slots called “Blackjack” with magic. He agreed to help Jenn distribute some of her “flyers” trying to claim the ship was being attacked by terrorists using a red weed. Meanwhile Maggie tried to go back down to confront the crewman who owned the bunk in question, but only succeeded in making things much worse as she got caught attempting a larceny attempt on his keys (which the other crew saw as well). Maggies story rapidly collapsed and she got out of there before being dragged to the Captain to answer to him.
Meanwhile, Keith had gone up to the upper deck to listen to what people had to say. He managed to catch that Lydia Van’Anderson – already known to be important to both True Blue UK and the Order of Dagon – was hosting a dinner at 7pm. Additionally he also caught some other rumors about funny tasting water and how this cruise was being “Basically run” by True Blue for their silly “Diversity Conference” (ostensibly about issues surrounding English immigration policies). Hanging around here, Keith waited until the deck started to clear – as nobody is allowed on the upper decks late at night on this cruise – to hide in one of the life rafts.
He would soon overhear a particularly perturbing conversation….
Damian was also busy, initially listening to a female crew member (Idra) complaining to the captain about the red weed stuff growing on the lower pipes. While she was saying it was a considerable worry and growing much to fast to handle for the crew assigned to deal with it, the Captain was highly dismissive and said it was just a minor nuisance (remember what this stuff does mind). She became very frustrated and simply stormed out after this, almost running into Damian, who managed to score a dinner date with her soon after.
Of course, this was where Maggie came up from below and Jenn went to the ballroom, leaving Damian and Maggie to try to deal with the other crew member. Of course they had caused a massive commotion at this point and found themselves stalking down the crewman into the kitchen. Damian went in first, attempting to sneak up behind him…. but the two other guys hiding in the room had entirely different ideas. Oddly enough, despite how well I telegraphed this ambush, they didn’t actually seem to pick up on the danger so no sense trouble rolls were called for.
A critical mistake.
Even though Damian and Maggie did have their guns, they soon found that their opponents inhuman nature made all the difference. That and the ridiculously high damage rolls I was getting all night – especially when Damian got his face slammed into a hot stove top (OUCH!). Then the crew started to try to grab the characters guns, which went very poorly for one of them who only managed to get himself shot in the stomach. The other hybrid though grabbed Maggies gun off of her and then successfully shot her to put her lights out. The two unconscious investigators were then dragged away to be interrogated by some of their fellows. The only hope was agent Zuhra, who had been sent to the kitchen to get some fresh wine and discovered the mess. She rapidly followed the blood trail and discovered Damian and Maggie in the bridge, with several of the crew around them.
At this point, the notes distributed by Jenn and Blackjack got noticed, with the Captain sending a very unhappy message over the intercom for the “Prankster” to reveal themselves. He assured the passengers that security was on top of things and that there was no serious threat to the ship from anyone. Then at the end of the message was some curious sounding static, which soon ended and then prompted many passengers and crew to begin moving in unison to different places. The crew in the room with Maggie and Damian also heard this static, leaving immediately except for the one larger crew member.
He’s only got a large meat cleaver and Zuhra has a gun, what could go wrong?
Finally that was the end of the session, but Dead Wake has now been set up to have an extremely thrilling…. and potentially very bloodthirsty finale.