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marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me



This campaign could do worse than derailing history with an italian version of Inglourious Basterds or similar.

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Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


PurpleXVI posted:

I'm imagining a Disney musical number where Fenalik swings off lamp posts and rides gondolas while singing, but everything he comes near either breaks, bursts into fire or wilts, or straight-up dies. Yet he either doesn't notice or doesn't care.

Funny you say that!



DEATH (AND LOVE) IN A GONDOLA – PART 2

Love - Day 1

If they haven't heard already, this morning begins with the news of Arturo Faccia's brutal murder. Around noon the waters of the canals take on an oily appearance until they're freshened by the tide.

That evening, Gasparetti rocks up at the investigators' hotel having just spent some quality time with Stagliani. He's endlessly grateful for whatever small assistance they offered and wants advice from these powerful signors on what he should do in his current situation. During a night walk in Venice he'll pour his heart out about his the breadth of his love for Stagliani, saying that their romance symbolises the rise of the proletariat and the breakdown of the old order. He'll also mention the growing tensions between the Fascists and Communists following the December riot. He invites the investigators to Papa Stagliani's funeral, which he plans to attend to pay his respects.

At 4AM, a woman runs through the street screaming 'Morte! Morte!' She disappears into the fog before the investigators can pursue her.



Death – Day 1

The investigators will probably use this day to get settled in and hit up the library. There are plenty of resources to be found, but they'll require a mix of Italian and French to decipher. Befriending Gasparetti gives them an eager and loyal translator if they lack one, and though Stagliani is too upset to contribute she can recommend one of her father's colleagues. Beddows' notes mention Napoleon's invasion of Venice and that's probably the first place investigators will look. After the Venice Senate rolled over for him, Napoleon's troops swept into the city and put into his action his plans for civic reform.

A Library Use roll finds records of a strange plague that struck the city after the troops entered, causing its victims to suffer crippling pains in their left legs. A second roll pulls up an account from a Capitaine Dubois who had to disperse a mob that came for one of his privates. Why? They believed he had brought evil to the city in the form of a strange porcelain leg. One more roll leads to Dubois' diary; turns out he confiscated the leg from the private, suffered its Baleful Influence and wisely decided to bury it in the Basilica di San Marco. 'The task before the investigators seems clear enough,' the book states. 'They must steal into one of the most famous cathedrals in Europe and spirit away a human-sized leg.'

Also, the investigators might be curious about The Devil's Simulare that they first heard of in London or Paris. They know it was stored in the San Maria Celeste church, but asking the Venetians turns up blank looks, as the church was burned down in the 1569 Arsenal Fire. The Simulare was among the illuminated manuscripts that survived, and it's now held at the Biblioteca Marciana where the investigators are probably already researching poo poo. Reading it activates the Dark Crusader scenario.

Love – Day 2

The screaming that the investigators heard last night was the result of a grisly murder. The victim Mario Rossi was found impaled on ten-foot iron spike, throat torn open. His fiance Anselma Moretti is being held by the police. Curious investigators will probably need to bribe the cops to find out more. As far as they can tell, the victim was hurled onto the spike from the ground, and though terribly mutilated the body was totally drained of blood. This disturbing detail is being kept secret from the press. As for Moretti, she's gone totally insane – if they can secure an interview with her, it takes hours of Psychoanalysis to get her to talk, which elicits a traumatised description of Fenalik doing his thing. After this, Moretti tries to gnaw out her own tongue.

At noon the stinking waters rise and clog the canals. Fresh flowers appear in the street shrines to the Madonna and St. Mark. The statues in the St. Marco weep tears of blood during the evening service.

Oh, and the investigators also get a letter from Stagliani! Hand-delivered by Bice, the poor woman thanks the investigators and formally invites them to the funeral.



Death – Day 2

The Left Leg is supposedly buried beneath a stone in the chapel of St. Isidro. There's a mosaic here depicting the saint's death – as he is dragged by the galloping horses, his left leg is close to being torn off. Spot Hidden finds the paving stone described by the captain in his diary, darker and heavier than the others. Science (Geology) suggests that it might be made of meteoric iron, and this alien metal has insulated Venice from the effects of its aura. All they have to do now is figure out how to gently caress around with it without anyone noticing.

Two people and a Strength roll is required to lift the unearthly stone. If they come during the day, it's a Luck roll to not be interrupted by a tourist group. Failing that, it's another Luck roll to not be caught by the sacristans. Breaking in is actually a riskier proposition, as the Piazza is busy and well-patrolled even at night. A better idea is waiting in the cathedral for closing time before making their move. If you've ever been to one of these old cathedrals, you'll know it's a gloomy place filled with all kinds of weird niches, and a Stealth roll and a few hours of discomfort is all it would take. Breaking out of the San Marco is easier than breaking in, and if they want the investigators could just wait for the early Mass.


That fucker! Our leg!

However, after all that, the investigators will find that the cavity beneath the stone does not contain the Leg. Instead there's a sealed letter containing the panicked confession of the bastard who stole it, apparently to fix another statue. The wax seal on the letter depicts a cherub set against a shield cradling a doll. Any Venetian can identify it as the seal of the Gremanci family, a long line of automaton makers and former princes of Venice. Stagliani actually has a treasured Gremanci-made doll, while Gasparetti will mention that they spend more time these days making prosthetics for maimed veterans.

Next time: death at a funeral! (not really)

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



So what would happen, theoretically, if you took these simulacrum pieces and dumped them somewhere deeeeep in the ocean? Let them give anglerfish arthritis.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




marshmallow creep posted:

This campaign could do worse than derailing history with an italian version of Inglourious Basterds or similar.

Hell, I can't think of much better. Although I think to be properly Italian melodrama you need to set up a glorious public humiliation in the process.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




The Lone Badger posted:

So what would happen, theoretically, if you took these simulacrum pieces and dumped them somewhere deeeeep in the ocean? Let them give anglerfish arthritis.

I'd go with opening a gate directly to the surface of the sun (Or however close a gate lets you get) and giving the pieces a good chuck.

Inescapable Duck posted:

Hell, I can't think of much better. Although I think to be properly Italian melodrama you need to set up a glorious public humiliation in the process.

Next Time, on It's Always Sunny in Essex County...

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


The Lone Badger posted:

So what would happen, theoretically, if you took these simulacrum pieces and dumped them somewhere deeeeep in the ocean? Let them give anglerfish arthritis.

Wouldn't last. It's the One Ring rules: the Simulacrum wants to be found, it wants to be reassembled. Someone will fish it up eventually. Also as soon as you touch it you receive its Baleful Influence so uh, have fun getting the crushing pressure and freezing temperature of the Marianas applied directly to your head.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Down With People posted:

Wouldn't last. It's the One Ring rules: the Simulacrum wants to be found, it wants to be reassembled. Someone will fish it up eventually.

If 'burying it' can be good for a few centuries, an abyssal plain disposal should last a lot longer than that. Few fishing nets go down five kilometers.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




And now James Cameron has it.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


The way I see it, the first and most pressing obstacle to throwing it into the ocean or the sun is that whoever is connected to the Torso and/or the Head is going to loving die. If you got one of the Legs or Arms, you're gonna get maimed. It's going to be absolutely painful and awful. That's just the way the Baleful Influence works. So you and maybe several others gotta be on board with that.

With the ocean specifically, this is Call of Cthulhu, so there's a lot more than fish down there. The Deep Ones probably don't give a poo poo about the weird magic man statue and the hybrids have abandoned their humanity, but they might send it back up to a cultist to hand it back to you and give you a stern lecture about dumping your magic rubbish in the sea.

As for the sun? Opening a Gate is the absolute worst way to do it, because that's generally a two-way street. You'd need to find a specialised one-way version of Gate that keeps all the 'instantly destroy everything with heat and radiation' parts of the sun on the other side. Alternatively, find something like a fire vampire who you can summon and bind into making the trip for you, I guess. At that point I think Nyarlathotep has to go fish it out of the Sun, probably shaking his head and saying, 'C'mon guys, play nice, this poo poo's really hard to make.'

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


The Deck of Encounters is on haitus for the holidays (because I ran out of buffer and don't have time to finish the last 70 cards). For the time being, in between planned adventures, you're just going to have to twiddle your thumbs.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Down With People posted:

The way I see it, the first and most pressing obstacle to throwing it into the ocean or the sun is that whoever is connected to the Torso and/or the Head is going to loving die. If you got one of the Legs or Arms, you're gonna get maimed. It's going to be absolutely painful and awful. That's just the way the Baleful Influence works. So you and maybe several others gotta be on board with that.
Oh, I'd somehow missed that that's what the Baleful Influence did rather than some sort of generic curse.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Cythereal posted:

The group of players I mainly game with, the love subplot would be derailed by Stagliani turning out to be a closeted gay woman and falling for one of the female PCs. :v:

Haha, I'd love to sit in on a twist like that.

Down With People posted:

As an aside I also think it's weird that I've seen other reviewers claim that the romance subplot is a pointless distraction that players won't be interested in because my group (and by the sounds of it many others) would be on this poo poo. The bigger problem would be convincing them to not try and solve it by blowing Rossini's fascist brains out.

And, while I'm here, what the gently caress? This whole section, especially What's Coming Up, is probably the best drat part of the whole extended adventure!

Low-POW, no-soul, so-and-sos, I tell you.

Edit: With the exception of the Dreamlands Express, but that sadly wasn't in the original printing.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Bieeardo posted:

Haha, I'd love to sit in on a twist like that.

Something not widely known is that during the 1920s Germany was one of the most sexually liberal places in the world and Berlin was a mecca for LGBT people. That was one of the big things the right wing in Germany lashed back against, and a great source of background and drama for something like this, playing on the social conflicts over sexuality during this time period rather than the presented love triangle here. Not at all hard to imagine a lesbian New Model Woman from Berlin (Americans, think a flapper girl from the same time period) as a CoC investigator.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Yup! I first learned about that from a sidebar in GURPS Horror, funnily enough.

Just to clarify, I think it's a lovely idea, and I wish my old crew was a bit more Liberal in the things we played with at the table. :)

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Down With People posted:

With the ocean specifically, this is Call of Cthulhu, so there's a lot more than fish down there. The Deep Ones probably don't give a poo poo about the weird magic man statue and the hybrids have abandoned their humanity, but they might send it back up to a cultist to hand it back to you and give you a stern lecture about dumping your magic rubbish in the sea.

"As you walk along the beach one night, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by Deep Ones! Instead of leaping to the attack, they just pile a bunch of occult rubbish in front of you and give you a lecture. Judging by all the worms and seaweed, the stuff's been on the seafloor for a long time. You can't understand any of their unholy burbling, of course, but you're pretty sure it's about environmental responsibility. Once the lead Deep One is done talking, the rest of them applaud and they leave for the ocean again."

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I can't remember who said "Cthulhutech would be more interesting if it was the Deep Ones who had teamed up with humanity instead of racist black caricatures", but they were right.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Zereth posted:

Oh, I'd somehow missed that that's what the Baleful Influence did rather than some sort of generic curse.

I kinda glossed over it, but yeah, any concentrated effort to destroy a Simulacrum piece - the book cites hitting it with a blowtorch or throwing it in a compactor - will not destroy the piece but will have an adverse effect on whoever is currently the 'owner' of that piece.



LOVE (AND DEATH) IN A GONDOLA – PART THREE

Love – Day 3

There's news of another murder, throwing Venice into a little Satanic Panic. A gondolier was found torn to gibbets in his boat. The investigators' waiter says his brother-in-law saw Death himself poling a gondola; this was just Fenalik out having a good time. The flooding tidewaters have crept into several low-lying houses and children who played in the water are now sick with black blotches on their limbs.

Amidst these conditions, the funeral does not go well. The coffin is to be taken by gondola to the cemetery island of San Michelle to be interred but the water reeks, particularly in the lagoon. Gasparetti and Rossini both attend the funeral and spend the entire miserable service glaring at each other over the top of the coffin; Stagliani pays no attention to either of them. Afterwards there's a wake in the Staglianis' luxurious four-storey home. When the investigators leave, Stagliani thanks the investigators and Gasparetti leaves with them to avoid further pushing his luck with Rossini.



As they leave the funeral, Gasparetti challenges their gondolier, saying that he's taking the long way. The gondolier reassures him, but Psychology reveals he is nervous, and Navigate indicates he's taking them away from their hotel. If the investigators don't commandeer the vessel, he takes them to a run-down campo where the Blackshirts are waiting. They plan to give everyone on board the boat a good beating and probably a dunk in the canals to round it off.

Ashamed that he's got his new friends in trouble, Gasparetti immediately leaps ashore to fight the Blackshirts while urging the investigators to get away. The gondolier's not moving, so they'll need to shove him overboard if they want his pole. Alternatively, they might go ashore to fight; there's six Blackshirts and depending on the size of the team that could mean equal numbers. If the investigators pull a gun, they scatter but the police are soon on the scene. It's worth reminding the investigators that unless they're Italians, pulling out an illegal firearm or even worse killing someone is going to land them in a heap of trouble. When the cops turn up, they'll only arrest non-Blackshirts. If there was fighting, Gasparetti is the worst-injured and will need help getting home.

That night, two huge fish are seen swimming in the canals, each with human arms and hands.



Death – Day 3

The Gremanci factory is an old stone building in in the Campo Della Bambino, close to a bunch of university student homes and industrial buildings. There's also a lot of broke veterans loitering around the campo, many of whom have impressively made prosthetics. It's not hard to talk to the Gremancis, but if the investigators fail to hit it off with them or – even worse – are German, they're going to have to break into the factory after-hours to find information.

When the investigators arrive, they'll see elderly Antonio Gremanci fitting a veteran with a new prosthetic leg. They'll have to wait until he's done before he'll speak to them and he'll absolutely not suffer any interruptions. When they show the letter to him, he is shocked by it and calls his son Sebastiano in from the factory. Sebastiano is in his late twenties and walks with a limp; Spot Hidden reveals that his left leg is also a prosthetic. He's a war veteran but hates the Fascists and will immediately warm up to other veterans or anyone getting hassled by the Blackshirts. He's also got a hacking cough from exposure to poison gas, for which doctors have recommended smoking as a way to strengthen his lungs. It's the 1920s.



The Gremancis identify the writing as belonging to Marco Gremanci, Sebastiano's grandfather. Antonio is embarrassed, but Sebastiano is amused at the old man's gumption. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1918 and as such will not be able to identify the mystery project that required stealing the Left Leg. Sebastiano mentions that his death came as a relief, as he had long suffered crippling arthritis (his left leg, if the investigators think to ask). If things have been going well so far, Sebastiano is willing to let the investigators go through the family records, where they will discover that Marco was commissioned to make a set of larger-than-life gilded clockwork automata for the Palazzo Rezzoniani.

If the investigators manage to meet and befriend the Gremancis before going to the funeral, the Blackshirts try to intimidate Sebastiano after they leave. His response is to get in touch with his old army friends: the investigators can enjoy the rest of their time in Venice protected by their very own bodyguard of jovial ex-military criminals. This will make the encounter with the Blackshirts after the funeral much easier and far more satisfying.

If the investigators are forced to break in, there's a map of the factory and room-by-room description like a dungeon crawl. It's as creepy as you'd expect a dark, empty doll factory to be. There's no supernatural dangers, just hundreds of staring doll faces.



Love – Day 4

There's no further murders – Fenalik's eaten his fill – but the citizens of Venice are going crazy. Newspapers report isolated mobs and looting in parts of the city. If the investigators have been keeping odd hours, the suspicious hotel staff report them to the cops, causing them to be held up for hours while they get tossed back and forth between the pigs and the government. More seriously, their passports are likely to be confiscated during this process.

Concerned scientists from the university are taking samples of the canal water, which is now black as oil. Hysteria builds in the city with rumours that touching the water spreads the plague. People shut themselves away in churches and mobs throw suspicious individuals into the canal.

In the afternoon, Bice contacts the investigators with a note from Stagliani. The Blackshirts are holding her captive in her own home and she believes that Rossini plans to force her to marry him. She is also concerned about Gasparetti, who did not make an appearance at her balcony last night. She requests that they contact him; the investigators will probably feel obligated to render any other assistance that they can.



Gasparetti's fine, but nursing a fresh black eye. The Blackshirts intercepted him on his way to meet Stagliani, but he managed to get away. As soon as he hears about Stagliani's plight he vows to rescue her and enlists the investigators' aid. Naturally, his first and only plan is to storm in through the front door, but he's open to suggestions. Canny investigators will suggest getting in contact with some of his fellow Communists – they're itching to get back at the Blackshirts after what happened last Christmas.

At the Stagliani house, Maria is trapped upstairs with two Blackshirts. Another six are loitering downstairs, one at each entrance and four enjoying a meal prepared by Bice. Rossini is away finding a pro-Fascism priest to officiate the marriage. The book recommends going with whatever the investigators plan for, but it would be good to warn them against going in guns blazing (as much as they might want to by this point). If they don't want to fight the Blackshirts, they could try chasing them away by feigning some kind of supernatural event – fascists are a superstitious and cowardly lot. Whatever happens, Rossini arrives with the priest just as they're about to leave with Stagliani.

Rossini isn't much. Killing him is probably not the best idea, but Fenalik's actions provide a good cover if they want to. If they attack, he'll pull out a derringer while Stagliani throws herself in front of Gasparetti. That said, his lust for Stagliani isn't worth dying for, nor can he bring himself to physically harming her. If he's alone he'll probably even surrender, but this is less likely if the Blackshirts are still around. After Rossini's dispatched, all that's left to do is get married. Rossini's priest is a Fascist sympathiser, but Gasparetti knows plenty of leftists in the church. 'You wanna get married? Great. These rich jerks are witnesses. Sign here please.'

That evening, a woman possessed by the devil is exorcised in the street. A murderous mob stabs an epileptic to death mid-seizure. The baying of a hound echoes through the city all night.

Next time: stop the clock!

Down With People fucked around with this message at 10:11 on Dec 24, 2017

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


I'd expect most of the players I know to see the mutant fish as a gigantic CLUE/PLOT HOOK sign and go barrelling off after it. Do they actually tie into anything?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Man, Venice rules.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


PurpleXVI posted:

I'd expect most of the players I know to see the mutant fish as a gigantic CLUE/PLOT HOOK sign and go barrelling off after it. Do they actually tie into anything?

Nope! Just a spooky thing that happens. I guess that's just how it goes when you have a vampire hanging around, the fish start throwing hands.

Since it's possible that the investigators actually see fish from their hotel room, I'm amused by the idea of them suddenly barreling down into the street, stealing a gondola and poling after these two fish as fast as they can. Maybe they find an isolated lagoon full of hand fish practicing schoolyard clapping games, or loading firearms.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

It doesn't really make sense for the fish to have arms. If one of the arms was there it would make sense but it's the leg. The Brotherhood could do it, they have those spells and are insane, but there's no real purpose for it other than to mess with the players.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

It doesn't really make sense for the fish to have arms. If one of the arms was there it would make sense but it's the leg. The Brotherhood could do it, they have those spells and are insane, but there's no real purpose for it other than to mess with the players.

Maybe they had fish with legs in an earlier draft but realised it was too scary?

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



It seems like a solid punching arm would be a considerable asset in the adventure so far.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk






Chapter 6: The Illuminati - Black Helicopters, Death Panels and New World Orders, Oh My!




Both of these groups have long, IRL histories that Dark*Matter doesn't do very much to change. I'm not going to bother rehashing the actual histories of either entity; instead I'm just going to highlight the stuff that Dark*Matter actually adds or alters. Also! There's very many more conspiracies nested within the U.S. Govt. than I would have guessed. I'm going to be breaking them into further individual sections because there's almost as many sub-conspiracies to the U.S. Govt. as there are other illuminati groups in total.





New World Order: The United Nations

The NWO - Some subset of a conspiracy-within-a-conspiracy at the U.N. actually does believe that they can prepare the proles all over the world to accept the U.N. as the de-facto ruler of the world under the NWO. There's not much more detail given than that, so I guess it's up to you and your GM to figure out the finer details (or any details).

The Office of External Affairs - This group is comprised of paramilitary regiments that report exclusively to the Secretary General of the U.N. and their primary focus relates to keeping Strangers and other extraterrestrial entities from getting too big and threatening humanity's dominance of Earth. They've been used to send stand-offish threats to the Greys, "suppress" the Kinori in Africa :smith:, and depopulate Sasquatch enclaves in the most remote parts of the world. Their membership totals about 250,000 troops, split between support and active combat roles, and if your players want to traffic with Strangers these guys are basically the jackbooted thugs you can send to hassle them.



The red dot is the approximate location of Moon Base Hammarskjold, based on the extremely vague directions the book provides.


Project Glacier - The U.N. is building a moon base in the shadow of the Plato Crater wall near the lunar north pole. They want it to serve as an eventual launch pad from which humanity can take our first timid steps into colonizing the stars. It's also an emergency bug-out base to which the highest levels of the U.N. leadership can evacuate, in the event that Earth becomes no longer habitable to human beings (because of climate disasters, or a global extinction event, or for any other reason). Basically it's 50% industrial space platform and 50% man-made Garden of Eden. Right now, visiting the base is a one-way trip and nobody that's gone up has ever come back to Earth.



As an aside, one of the things that most breaks my suspension of disbelief is the conceit that there exists enough cooperation within an organization like the U.S. government that outlandish conspiracies can exist in the first place.


Land of the Free: The U.S. Government

Black Agencies - The U.S. Govt has multiple different black ops, wet works and assassination squads operating with hidden budgets and minimal oversight. If your players are having too easy a time pulling a job that targets U.S. Govt assets or that is is performed on federal property, feel free to have one of these random hit squads show up and try to silence the trouble makers. There's not a whole lot more info here, it's basically just permission for the GM to inflict lethal force on players that get too nosy into U.S. Govt. interests.

Agency for Foreign Technology (AFT) - This group was originally a joint venture between various branches of the military that aimed to secure, contain, and reverse engineer any and all Stranger technology. In pursuit of this mission, the entire
organization has become compromised by the Sandmen (we still haven't had this group formally explained to us). The Sandmen found an open doorway somewhere within Houston, TX in 1967 and slowly spread like a cancer across the region. Most recently, the entire town of Sandy Point was disappeared from Houston-area maps during 1996, due to a mass outbreak of Sandmen and the subsequent government coverup; this also marks the point where the Sandmen managed to infiltrate the AFT. So, what do the Sandmen want to do with the AFT?

Project Anaconda - DNA modification in mature adults that can guarantee adaptive mutations and ultimately aims to create a legion of Sandmen-loyal human super soldiers. There's a handful of beneficial mutations that any character with a Project Anaconda background can choose, but there's also several negative mutations you have to take as well. Not a terrible story hook for a player that wants to use the optional Mutation rules from the Alternity core PHB with their Dark*Matter hero.

Project Chapel - Black sites where the U.S. Govt. has staged detention centers for aliens and other Strangers. None of these are listed on any global maps (or even within any non-AFT government directories) and the security clearance required to visit one of these locations is basically impossible to acquire without raising all kinds of red flags. The Sandmen use these sites to interrogate and torture other Strangers into either divulging whatever super-science knowledge they posses, or else attempt to break the Stranger's will so that they can be used as a double agent against their own kind.

Project Iota - Literally no one but the Sandmen have any knowledge about this project. Anyone that has managed to do more than even scratch the surface of what happens within Project Iota has been mysteriously murdered, to a man. Even demonstrating that you know that this project exists is sufficient to ensure you get surveiled and harassed by Sandmen.

So what's the deal? Who knows! The book literally says that this is such a deep conspiracy that there is no set "thing" that Project Iota is supposed to be doing, so it's basically a blank check for a GM to hold up their sleeve, either as a red herring
for investigators to waste time fruitlessly chasing, or to serve as an emergency backup explanation for a paranormal or supernatural inconsistency that your players might stumble upon. If you're even suddenly unsure of how to answer a question that your players have, then the answer is always "Project Iota".


NEXT TIME: The CDC and The CIA.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Down With People posted:

Since it's possible that the investigators actually see fish from their hotel room, I'm amused by the idea of them suddenly barreling down into the street, stealing a gondola and poling after these two fish as fast as they can. Maybe they find an isolated lagoon full of hand fish practicing schoolyard clapping games, or loading firearms.

The Venetian Piscine Mafia.

I'm just imagining one of the PC's deciding to go fishing and suddenly one of the local pikes draws a revolver on him and demands his wallet.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


PurpleXVI posted:

The Venetian Piscine Mafia.

I'm just imagining one of the PC's deciding to go fishing and suddenly one of the local pikes draws a revolver on him and demands his wallet.

Again: Venice totally rules, if the whole campaign was this weird pulp JoJo adventure with romantic corruption murder vampires and dashing communists it would rock so hard.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


PurpleXVI posted:

The Venetian Piscine Mafia.

This completely changes the meaning of 'sleep with the fishes'.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Nice gondola you have there. Would be a shame if something happened to it.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


I'm seriously having trouble imagining a scenario with any of my play groups where the mythos train plot wouldn't be irreversible derailed into a game of "mad private detectives try to murder Mussolini" if I had blackshirts jump them in a gondola after a funeral.

Like I'm pretty sure Felik himself would have to show up and order their asses back on the train.

Obligatum VII
May 5, 2014

Haunting you until no 8 arrives.

Down With People posted:

I kinda glossed over it, but yeah, any concentrated effort to destroy a Simulacrum piece - the book cites hitting it with a blowtorch or throwing it in a compactor - will not destroy the piece but will have an adverse effect on whoever is currently the 'owner' of that piece.

How does being the "owner" work? How does ownership transfer around on these things? Are you stuck with it until you die and then the next poor sap that touches it is connected?

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





MonsieurChoc posted:

I can't remember who said "Cthulhutech would be more interesting if it was the Deep Ones who had teamed up with humanity instead of racist black caricatures", but they were right.
I've played in a game sort of like that where it was humans, deep ones, yithians, and elder things as team earth trying to forestall doomsday with mechs. Though even back in college when my group used REALLY bad RPG systems we weren't willing to touch Cthulhutech so this was all done in GURPS.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Obligatum VII posted:

How does being the "owner" work? How does ownership transfer around on these things? Are you stuck with it until you die and then the next poor sap that touches it is connected?

That's exactly how it works. First person who touches a piece suffers the Baleful Influence until they can get rid of it in some non-destructive way, like burying it under a cathedral. It's not exactly clear how the Baleful Influence works vis-a-vis just abandoning a Simulacrum piece of giving it away, since uh, very few people who've gotten their hands on it have been willing to throw it away exactly

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me



But if they were willing to let go, I'm imagining people "regifting" a simulacrum piece like some kind of notorious Christmas fruitcake.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

GURPS Zombieland, USA

PART 4 – SUPER ZOMBIE BROS.


Fred’s farm! When the posse arrives, they meet Captain Fred, a local farmer still clutching his shotgun. Inconsequential back story! Fred might actually be a spaceship captain lost in time. He certainly has skills relevant to piloting spaceships but inappropriate to the setting. Or he might just be delusional, the sort of person who believes in ancient aliens or whatever without letting it affect his life. GM’s choice. Apparently last night he walked out to investigate who was messing with his chicken coops when he found the Homenciks eating his chickens raw. Salmonella!


You guys have no idea how many maps I’m skipping over.

By the way, the GURPS equivalent of a SAN check is a Fright Check; I won’t go into mechanical details here because eh. Every time something even vaguely unnerving happens in this adventure, the book has you roll a Fright Check like a scare chord's playing in the background. I think it serves the dual purpose of scaring the characters and making emotional beats clearer to the players, but it is a little clumsily delivered.

Anyway, Fred managed to scare them away with a few gunshots, but he noticed two things: first, the brothers were extremely pale and he couldn’t see their irises; second, he actually shot one, but he got up after he fell and just kept going. Yada yada a bunch of chances for the PCs to prove it was the brothers and also they were probably zombies. This is the first time anyone actually considers the possibility of zombies, though they won’t believe it for a while.

Now the PCs are let loose on the town to search for clues. Naturally Muldoon will be doing so as well, but if the party’s obtrusive and annoys the townsfolk (but not necessarily her), they’ll be run out of town on a rail (or at gunpoint in Autoduel). Though the Sheriff will deny the “Zombie Thesis”, if they are deferential and don’t interfere with the official investigation she’ll eventually warm up to them (even the men). Deputy Lee, a.k.a. the designated love interest, will be more amenable to working with the PCs in general. Link goes out of his way here to make the point that the Black Lake Police Department aren’t your standard idiot authority figures in a horror story; they legitimately want to catch the villain, whoever or whatever it is, and they are taking substantial steps in doing so, but they aren’t willing to turn to supernatural explanations yet.

The PCs’ first obvious step is checking in with Fred; he says he has a feeling the boys will be back (he’s right). At the scene of the crime there’s a trail of footprints leading into the forest (did the Sheriff follow them? Who knows!) and the PCs can follow them/get lost in the forest. Either way, after a couple hours the party stumbles across a cave that looks like it might be some kind of zombie den. They are wrong, there’s a black bear living in. No matter what they do, the bear gives them a chance to :frogout: before it attacks and probably fucks up the PCs. Bears are scary, dude. Eventually they either make their way home or get found by search and rescue.


I was going to make a Thriller joke, but man, every woman in this book has a bad case of 80s hair.

If they decide to stake out the farm instead, the brothers show up! In the modern day, they are bog standard zombies who just eat their way through anything alive they can find. They are still pretty dangerous and need to be dismembered to be stopped, but a party with combat experience will make it out just fine. In Autoduel things are a bit tougher. The brothers have higher stats, more combat abilities, and are wearing Kevlar vests (:what:). They are no match for any armed vehicle to take out, but the book advises the GM to prevent cars from coming into play through whatever excuse they can think of. In either setting, the fight goes on (with Fred pitching in if the going gets rough, possibly with a laser pistol) until the zombies are all dead or Sheriff Muldoon arrives with extra firepower and quickly ends the fight. She’ll detain the party until she figures out she has no idea what questions to ask them and tells them to show up at a town hall meeting the next morning. As they head back to the motel the documentary crew shows up, digs for information, and films the scene of the crime.

If the party chooses not to stick around the farm that night, they find out the next morning that the three zombies ate Fred alive before the Sheriff and co. showed up and killed them. Great job following up on leads! :downsbravo:


dude this is totally going on Instagram

The next morning the party runs into a crowd on the way to the meeting; they are all staring at something on the street. Someone wrote “SLAY THE BEAST” in the middle of the street with blood. Reassuring! After elbowing past the crowd the party arrives at the city council meeting, basically a town hall, where Doc Basset presents his autopsy (they are zombies, though he doesn’t say it), the town leaders split into a “throw them in prison” and a “when are we going to address the potholes on Main” faction, and Muldoon sides with the former and resolves to arrest them. Before throwing them into prison, the Sheriff allows the party one chance to talk their way free. If they succeed, they go free; if they fail, they get thrown in prison next to Vic the Knife (if they didn’t free him earlier) and given their traditional phone call (any calls outside of town hit a busy signal). Either way, they suffer a fate almost worse for an adventuring party then imprisonment:

They have their weapons confiscated.

Next time: evangelicalism gone wild

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


I might've missed it in a post earlier... but what's the USEFUL part of the Simulacrum? As far as I can tell the individual pieces just make your life misery AND curse the local area if you leave them lying around for too long.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


PurpleXVI posted:

I might've missed it in a post earlier... but what's the USEFUL part of the Simulacrum? As far as I can tell the individual pieces just make your life misery AND curse the local area if you leave them lying around for too long.

:ssh:

I haven't put it in a post because the investigators don't know yet. It's true, an individual piece mostly just makes your life suck. You need all the pieces AND the scrolls to get the most out of it. The Scroll of the Head excerpt from Lausanne hints at the big use for the Simulacrum. Or you can just look it up or ask the dudes who've played the campaign, it's a free country.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Down With People posted:

:ssh:

I haven't put it in a post because the investigators don't know yet. It's true, an individual piece mostly just makes your life suck. You need all the pieces AND the scrolls to get the most out of it. The Scroll of the Head excerpt from Lausanne hints at the big use for the Simulacrum. Or you can just look it up or ask the dudes who've played the campaign, it's a free country.

I thought I'd just missed it. :v: If it's not actually been revealed yet, I'm willing to follow along for the reveal.

(though the scroll makes it sound like it's a mecha powered by human sacrifice that can get into a punching match with Cthulhu and come out victorious, I doubt it'll be THAT cool)

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




I would've accepted that it does not, in fact, have any useful effects, isn't it related to Nyarlathotep, who's notable for actually being a huge dick as opposed to an impersonal force?

Obligatum VII
May 5, 2014

Haunting you until no 8 arrives.

Zereth posted:

I would've accepted that it does not, in fact, have any useful effects, isn't it related to Nyarlathotep, who's notable for actually being a huge dick as opposed to an impersonal force?

He likes giving humans a lot of power and watching them immediately self destruct with it.

Being a really successful cultist of Nyarl basically requires understanding that the important part for your continued survival is being entertaining. It's like worshipping Xom in dungeon crawl stone soup.

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Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Merry Christmas!



LOVE (AND DEATH) IN A GONDOLA – PART 4

Death – Day 4

The Palazzo Rezzoniani is easily located. It's a tourist site, the grand palace that housed the now exctinct Rezzoniani family. It's open all summer, but in winter the investigators will have to make an appointment with caretaker Nonno Fidele. Fidele will happily explain the tragic demise of the Rezzonianis: the last one died in 1918, an elderly recluse with arthritis (you'll never guess where) whose only relative was a grandson lost in the Great War. He died alone in the winter and wasn't discovered for months. He'll show the investigators into the Palazzo for a pittance but will come to chase them out after a couple of hours; giving him more money extends the time they can explore the place. Six hours is probably the most he'll let them stay there before he grows tired and suspicious. He won't let them in after dark for anything less than L500 and he won't stick around waiting for them either.



If the investigators come to the Palazzo during the day, the winter sun vanishes behind a thick fog. All is dark and silent.

The automata the investigators seek are in the Palazzo's great clock tower. There's eight of them that gradually emerge onto the balcony below the clock face in complex procession to ring out the hours. There's single chimes every quarter-hour but the whole gang comes out on the hour to count out the whole thing. The clanking of the clockwork is extremely loud and every chime sends twinges of pain up the investigators' left leg. The best view of them is on the third floor of the Palazzo in the room where the last Rezzoniani died; there's a stained armchair facing a window that stinks of corpse and still has a visible imprint as if it clings to the memory of the dead.

Getting to the top of the clock tower is harder than it might seem at first. There's a long staircase with steep and irregular stairs much unlike the shallow even ones that are now common in the 20th century, and if the investigators haven't been sightseeing enough they'll be exhausted by the time they reach the top. There is a padlocked trapdoor at the top of the stairs that take a Strength check to break through, but on a Hard result it's weaker than the investigator anticipates and they'll send themselves and their team tumbling down the stairs. If it weren't for the later additions of stout metal railings, the investigators would likely plummet to their death. One final flight of narrow stairs takes them inside the clock.



Regardless of day or night, it's dark enough for Fenalik to follow the investigators. He silently ascends to the top of the tower. He knows exactly where his precious Left Leg is and he wrestles with the temptation to grab it and run.

The inside of the clock is claustrophobic and the investigators will have to stoop to avoid gears and press against the walls to squeeze around the automata. Hope they brought a torch. The automata have a sequence they follow that changes their positions every quarter-hour; the investigators are going to have to work around this to figure out which one of them has the Left Leg. Up here the bell is mind-shatteringly loud; every time the clock chimes or rings the hour all work must stop while the investigators press their hands against their ears. After inspecting the statues, they'll notice that Death, the Assassin and the Angel are carved out of solid pieces and can't have the Leg. The Lion has paws, naturally. Only the Turk, the Soldier and the Rustic Lad and Lass show some leg. Then it's just a matter of scraping off the gilt covering them until they find the right one. It's the Soldier who bears the Left Leg.



Oh poo poo!

As soon as they discover this, the next quarter-hour strikes and the balcony doors swing open. Spot Hidden reveals Fenalik, standing five impossible storeys outside the clock. Mortified, he steps backwards off the building – SAN 0/1D3 to see his 'suicide' - but hesitates long enough to make investigators think he's also after the Left Leg. Of course, if the investigators check the ground later they find no body. The book suggests a Spot Hidden roll to notice a bat flying away, but if your players are even remotely genre-savvy they are going to shriek VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE so loud you'll wish you were never born, so I would leave that out.

Removing the Left Leg from the Soldier is tricky work. Mechanical Repair finds the fail-safe lever that stops the automata from moving, but better wait for them to stop or you'll have to Dodge. It'll take another Mechanical Repair roll to properly detach the Leg, or some sledgehammers if they want to just smash the Soldier to bits. Particularly stupid investigators will try to stop the Soldier while it's moving. Whatever they do, it has the same result: there's a moment of stillness, then the automatons go ballistic. As the clockwork grinds and rattles, the automatons suddenly seem alive, spinning and bolting along their figure-eight track. Their mechanical movements and stiff faces make this terrifying – that's SAN 0/1D6.

Investigators who succeed will realise that removing the Leg has upset the delicate balance of the clockwork. Investigators who fail will realise that the automatons are alive and trying to kill them. Either way, the clockworks are treated as attacking the investigators and they'll have to react appropriately. Investigators who were driven insane (temporarily or otherwise) by this display panic and bolt for the exit, requiring them to Jump or Dodge the lethal clockworks or suffer 1D6 damage per failed roll. They don't stop running even if injured, and must then make a Dexterity roll to not tumble down the stairs.

The investigators have ten minutes to clear out before the authorities and the mobs arrive. The automata spin and crash against each other until broken to pieces.



Love And Death – Day 5

If the investigators haven't found the Simulacrum piece yet and they've been following the Love sub-plot, the fifth day in Venice is going to be their last day to do it. The chaos of the city has reached the point that the Militi have been brought in. There's smoke in the air and zealous mobs in the streets. The manager of the hotel emphatically suggests that the investigators take their leave. In the Piazza San Marco, the flood water is thigh-deep.

It's not all doom and gloom though. If Georgio and Maria were married, the investigators can see them off! They board the Orient Express going back to Milan, safely out of Rossini's reach. The feeling of warmth, well-being and romance stirs the heart-strings of even the hardest investigator, rewarding them 1D3 SAN. Later that afternoon, Rossini confronts the investigators in a public place accompanied by some very large and serious men – real hardcore motherfuckers in suits, not just Blackshirts. He makes it very clear to them that they've overstayed their welcome and that they had better leave Venice no later than tomorrow. Good riddance – the mob's going to get worse before it gets better.



The investigators receive 1D4 SAN for recovering the Left Leg. This piece might cause them trouble as they're leaving Venice – the last thing they want is to be implicated in the destruction of the Palazzo clock tower. If Gremanci Jr. finds out about their theft of the Leg, he congratulates them. He equates Fascism with the occult, so a blow against one is a blow against the other. He'll walk more easily after the Leg is gone but sadly, the investigators will never see him again; his exposure to poison gas in the war is going to do him in before long.

That night, the investigators are plagued by strange dreams. Each one inhabits a white humanoid form, scuttling like a spider over the outside of the train cars, peering into each window. From this outside view they watch themselves eating, sleeping, conversing, but as dispassionately as if they were watching common livestock and without a trace of sympathy. They feel themselves as Fenalik appraising themselves and being amused by their own weakness. Then that dream dwindles into nothing but blind anticipation, then darkness.

Next time: Trieste!

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