The game continued from Chapter 17: Surrey.

Strange Bedfellows

game session #83
played on January 9, 2012

After confirming that the family they had rescued at the House of Bly was safe and sound, the group brought the corpse of the succubus back to the Manor for study. That's when they found the house visited by two old friends: Witch Theresa O'Neill and her lover, archeologist John Sheppard, whose body was being overtaken by the enchanted gauntlet Excalibur. The two pleaded with the group to hand over Merlin's skull so that John could ask the wizard's spirit for help, but the skull had been missing ever since Gao's abduction in London. The group promised to try to find it. Visiting 221B Baker Street, the group discovered that they were under surveillance by La Lumière, who were compelled to admit that the organization's leader, Mycroft Holmes, wanted to monitor what they were doing. After learning that Gao's abductor, Professor Moriarty, was locked in a London prison awaiting trial, the group paid him a tense visit. Moriarty offered to tell them where the skull was if they first broke him out of prison, but Caleb's new gift for mind control compelled him to "volunteer" the information. He said that La Lumière had taken the skull from him and locked it in the Vault, their secure headquarters underneath Paris.

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Evan Coopes as Lyon Omen
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
Gao for suggesting finding Moriarty through a newspaper
Lyon for seizing the escaping La Lumière agents

Paranoia

game session #84
played on January 16, 2012

Determined to reach Paris, the group tried to book transport across the English Channel, but Lyon picked a fight with the ferrymaster and was arrested for assault, forcing Thomas Carnacki to loan him bail money. They waited overnight in the Manor, where Theresa O'Neill mentioned La Lumière's mounting paranoia ever since firing the group weeks earlier, and that an agent in Paris had just been dismissed over some kind of incident at Notre Dame. The group traveled by boat to France and arrived in Paris, appreciating the sights and smells. Using Elise's new magic book to learn about the Notre Dame incident where the hunchbacked bellringer had been killed by vigilante group Die Wächtern. While Caleb felt healed by the cathedral, Gao found a charcoal sketch of Palais Garnier, the city's opera house, where the bellringer had posed as "Le Phantom." Visiting that building, the group split up: Elise was knocked unconscious and awoke in a locked room full of hissing cobras, Caleb went underground to the sewers and was pounced upon by a humanoid rat creature, and to Gao's horror, Lyon tried on a cursed masquerade ball mask and began to sweat blood, a sign of imminent fatality via the Red Death.

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Evan Coopes as Lyon Omen
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
none

Phantoms

game session #85
played on January 23, 2012

Instead of dying, Lyon's exposure to the Red Death transformed him into a hulking monster, the same as Dr. Jekyll's serum had once done. When he calmed down and returned to normal, he realized that he could control the transformations. A sinister man introduced himself to Gao as "Fantômas" and made a scary impression, but disappeared in the opera house's corridors. Caleb subdued the rat creature and learned from its broken English that it was an experiment of geneticist Dr. Moreau, and made an ally before it scurried away. Bitten by many of the poisonous cobras, Elise panicked and slaughtered them telekinetically with her stone bracelet, and forced her way out of the sealed room. After Elise recovered in a hospital, the group reunited with Thomas Carnacki and agreed that they needed to find the Die Wächtern agents who had been involved at Notre Dame. The group tracked them to a funeral, where they learned that one of them, Renee Dumont, was secretly a La Lumière agent who had switched sides, further enhancing that group's paranoia. Renee offered to tell them everything she knew about breaking into the Vault if they were serious enough to find and hire help for the job, in the form of Paris's most notorious thieves: Arsène Lupin, Judex, Rocambole, Simon Templar, A.J. Raffles, Belphégor, Irma Vep, and Léo Sainte-Claire.

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
Caleb for befriending Ratboy
Elise for freeing herself from the cobra trap
Gao for transcribing the coded message first

To Catch a Thief

game session #86
played on January 30, 2012

Following word that Rocambole's brother owned an Indian restaurant in the city, the group had to solve a riddle that proved their noble intentions. On the roof, they met the flamboyant swordsman Rocambole, who Lyon defeated in a duel and impressed him enough to earn his help. Elise was alarmed to learn about a tattoo on the back of her neck, a ward designed to modify magic spells. At the Moulin Rouge nightclub, gentleman thief Arsène Lupin was worried for the club's future after the death of its star Satine. The group proposed a new musical based on Beauty and the Beast, and composed a love song for him, earning his assistance in return. On his directions that the Nyctalope (aka Léo Sainte-Claire) lived "in the deepest part of the Seine," Caleb plunged into the dark water, but didn't find the man until he discovered that Elise's enchanted sword let him breate underwater. The aquatic Nyctalope was the victim of scientific experimentation by the man who had once wielded the group's enchanted cutlasses, and demanded them in payment for his help so that he could destroy them. At a publicity stunt at the Eiffel Tower, they found athlete A.J. Raffles scaling the very top of the structure. While Gao, Caleb, and Lyon created distractions for the crowd, Elise used terrakinesis to float to the top and convince Raffles to help the group, catching him when he fell.

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Evan Coopes as Lyon Omen
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
Caleb for writing the majority of the song lyrics
Lyon for defeating Rocambole in a duel

The Lyon, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

game session #87
played on February 6, 2012

Following Gao's premonitions, the group broke into the city zoo and then the bat enclosure, where a swarm of bats combined into the black-clad thief Irma Vep, who they recognized as a vampire. She agreed to help them with their heist if they would steal something for her: Undeveloped film from the camera of George Méliès, something that could only be done during the day, when she couldn't go out. Promising to do this tomorrow, they next walked to the police station, where disguise expert Simon Templar was posing as an evidence room officer to frame someone. Using notes from police reports and their own reasoning, the group was able to help him get the materials in the proper order, gaining his help in return. On the outskirts of the city, the group arrived at a crumbling old castle, where Caleb soon found himself submerged in a water tank with live piranha only seconds away from joining him. Lyon shot the villain Fantômas who had sprung the trap, freeing Caleb, but the man escaping, leaving behind a threat to capture more of the group in elaborate death traps. The resident of the castle, an inventor calling himself Judex, agreed to help the group rob the Vault if they accompanied him to rob a wealthy banker of a valuable device. Impressed by his technology, they traveled together to the rich man's home, but Judex's real agenda was revealed: The banker was his father, and Judex couldn't contain his violent feelings of revenge upon seeing him. While Elise tried to save the injured banker's life, Gao discovered what the group had come to steal: A living suit of armor.

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Evan Coopes as Lyon Omen
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
Elise for trying to save Favraux's life
Gao for solving Simon Templar's puzzle first

Unfinished Business

game session #88
played on February 20, 2012

The group spared Judex's father and his mistress, getting an apology from the thief for his sudden murderous change of plans. The target of their raid had been "Otto," a metal automaton who returned with Judex, fully re-activated. Reluctantly deciding not to act on Gao's vision of a woman falling into the Seine River, the group sought Belphégor, the final thief, instead. Deducing from the order of royal portraits he was said to have stolen already, they knew he would seek Louis XIV's painting at the Louvre next, and found him there, a ghost-like man who could slip through solid walls. Caleb tripped the alarms while trying to steal the portrait, getting Gao arrested. Lyon succeeded in stealing the painting and earning Belphégor's help while Gao escaped police custody. In the morning, they talked their way into the busy film studio of George Méliès, created a distraction, and made off with undeveloped footage, but learned in the process that their client was their old enemy Thomas Edison. When they reunited with the complete Thieves Guild that night at a café, they were told that Renee Dumont was dead, victim of a faked "suicide" in the Seine River, but she had written instructions for them in case she was assassinated. Eagerly going over her map and notes, the group began to realize just how much knowledge of world history the Vault contained, and they began to plan their heist.

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Evan Coopes as Lyon Omen
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
Gao for fending off police interrogation
Lyon for stealing the portrait of Louis XIV and the film canister

The Credible Kamlesh

game session #89
played on February 27, 2012

The group poured over Renee Dumont's map and notes, devising a room-by-room plan for infiltrating the Vault, with backup plans for each step. They decided to claim to be sent by the New York cell leader on a research mission about Egyptian goddess Bastet, each one adopting an alias, none more outlandish than Caleb's "Kamlesh Patel" (with credible makeup by disguise artist Simon Templar). After bringing the ailing John Sheppard and worried Theresa O'Neill to Paris, the group had Theresa open the first door for them, as she was an agent in good standing, then they entered with the Thieves Guild in tow. The Vault greeter grilled them politely about their identities and mission, then granted them entry. Lyon and Belphégor were detected trying to scout ahead in non-human form, but mostly the group evaded questions and traps and breached the Vault successfully. Even the obvious automaton Otto was mistaken for a Vault security drone being repaired. Discovering what seemed to be a futuristic pneumatic door, the group's list of questions kept getting longer.

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Evan Coopes as Lyon Omen
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
Caleb for role-playing

Une histoire de la Mort Rouge

game session #90
played on March 5, 2012

Exploring the Vault, the group first visited the archive of journals written by La Lumière agents, where Gao pocketed a pair of telepathic reading glasses, and Caleb read aloud from the journal of vampire hunter Jonathan Harker. In a pair of rooms devoted to the ancient world, they learned from various books how Egyptian wizard Imhotep had unwittingly released the Red Death into the world via a failed spell, how the Red Death had caused the collapse of empires like Rome via doppelgangers and other mischief, how Hypatia had organized the first resistance called the Defiance only to see it undone by a mole, and how Merlin (alive much earlier than commonly known) had organized his own resistance called the Stone. When the group spoke at length to a rabbinical scholar, they learned about the Tree of Life, and how the ancient study of the Kabbalah had gradually turned into the study of the Red Death, producing the words qabalist, someone who studies the Red Death, and qabal, a group of qabalists. After learning a little about nine major qabals in the world, the group turned their attention back to Merlin's skull, and discussed their belief that the Vault's overseer had it.

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Evan Coopes as Lyon Omen
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
Elise for theories about doppelgangers and red widows

Enlightenment

game session #91
played on March 12, 2012

After paying their respects to the La Lumière members entombed in the mausoleum, the group discovered some radioactive properties in the bathroom adjacent to the science laboratory where Marie Curie was conducting experiments. Continuing their research on the history of the Red Death, they learned about the collapse of the Stone, how Niccolò Machiavelli had brought a qabal called the Phoenix that counted Leonardo da Vinci among its members, and how three qabals had joined together to form La Lumière. Of particular interest was a passage on Zemlak the Destroyer, a former enemy from Salem. The group was surprised to learn that they were late for an "appointment" with the overseer, who revealed that he knew they were coming thanks to his precognitive source. He agreed to let them each ask one question of this source, an enchanted oracle statue from Egypt, if they would break into the private lair of La Lumière's controlling trio to find out why they were murdering and ejecting members and making the qabal so paranoid in advance of the "next phase" one had mentioned. The trio had named La Lumière after themselves: In English it meant "the Enlightened," but in Latin it meant "the Illuminati."

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Evan Coopes as Lyon Omen (last appearance)
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
Caleb for experimenting with the false wall next to the science lab
Elise for good questions to ask the Oracle
Gao for paying tribute to the dead and the oracle

Fin.

game session #92
played on March 19, 2012

Among the group's questions to the oracle, Lyon's companion animal asked, "Where is Merlin's skull?" When the statue replied "in the Manor," and Elise was unable to create a door back to her house, they realized they'd been robbed: Professor Moriarty, with the hired help of Simon Templar and control of John Sheppard, had taken it over. Angry at being betrayed, the group focused on their confrontation with the Illuminati in the other side of the Vault, which quickly turned violent. Using futuristic laser weapons, the Illuminati vaporized Lyon, A.J. Raffles, and Léo Sainte-Claire into piles of ash. The group battled back, killing two of the men and forcing the third to reveal his true identity: Inclavia, a giant alien spider who history books said had manipulated qabals before. She revealed her plot to conquer the world with La Lumière's vast intelligence network, but the group destroyed her using her own advanced weapons. A brilliant blast from her corpse seemed to kill them, as she had warned it would. But Caleb, Elise, and Gao found themselves wandering an afterlife full of strange visions. Slowly reuniting with Lyon's spirit and their companion animals, they navigated the dreamscape and realized it was a manifestation of the Tree of Life. Using the teachings of Kabbalah that the rabbi in the Vault had shared with them, they deduced the path to the last sephirot. They exited, not knowing what awaited them on the other side.

in attendance:
Aaron Shurtleff as Gao
Jeff Coopes as Caleb Lonergan
Kelly Hardie as Elise LeBlanc

earned points:
Caleb for deducing the way out of the Tree of Life
Gao for destroying Inclavia


The game continued in Chapter 19: San Francisco.