Chapter 41: San Jose
The game continued from Chapter 40: Grover's Mill.
Our Present Story is Ended
game session #236
played on October 10, 2018
The group exited Matai Shang's command room and found themselves in a well-decorated parlor in Sarah Winchester's mysterious house. Holgrave appeared in glass and helped them make sense of what happened: The teleportation equipment that Shang had stolen from Holgrave was attuned to the raqia, the firmament separating dimensions, and when it was smashed, the raqia collapsed. Imhotep must have intended to combine the demi-planes but he wound up destroying the universe. How the group had survived was a mystery. As aftershocks continued, they explored several more rooms, including a sewer with Caleb's old friend "Rat Boy," a fine restaurant with manservant Mortimer Toombs, and a La Lumière safehouse with C. Auguste Dupin. Some doors opened to solid walls, and the group was unable to backtrack because the rooms kept changing behind them. In a hotel meeting room they remembered from Vancouver, a four-armed, two-headed Frankenstein attacked, smashing the room and the group. Gant and Sagesse had to be resurrected and Caleb was nearly killed as well before Elise dealt the final deadly blows to the monster. As they explored, Gant noticed numbers on or next to some of the objects, and Elise realized that other than rifles, those objects all corresponded to symbols of the nine major qabals that they had encountered before. At William Wilson's antiques store, they sold some of their gear and discovered more numbers.
Elise for killing Frankenstein (again)
Gant for seeking numbers and keeping notes
To Be at Home Again
game session #237
played on October 17, 2018
The group found a raging fire beyond another door, and pulled Nannuraluk out of it. He said it was the Library of Alexandria, and he reproduced a scroll that he and Elise had originally found there, showing the symbols of the nine qabals encircling Earth. They tried going another direction and found themselves in Roderick Usher's basement, where John Sheppard pointed out the similarities between their first adventure and this one, such as the calendar date and the nature of the houses. They found a chest and padlock, each with a number on it, and a desiccated stillborn baby inside the chest. The next door that they tried led to the Manor, where Abraham Van Helsing expressed gratitude for saving him that he was unable to say earlier. He also warned that if he was restored to full health in this place, then likely so was Dracula.
Caleb for starting a shared document of all numbers
Borne Back Ceaselessly Into the Past
game session #238
played on October 24, 2018
Passing through more rooms from their adventures, the group encountered a bride crying that a security firm had failed to save her wedding, Dr. Moreau and one of his mutant creations, village elder Nanook riddled with guilt for lying to Nannuraluk, Captain Nemo in his submarine, mad scientist Roderick Usher wearing his masquerade costume, Nikola Tesla in his laboratory, the corpse of the hunchback of Notre Dame, and Rose MacAvoy near death in a woodland cabin. Along the way, they counted more numbers corresponding to certain symbols, sometimes different numbers for the same symbol. Caleb found a stopped clock whose hands refused to budge, and a letter molded into the ceiling of one room. Marie Laveau gave them healing potions from her voodoo magic shop. In the ruins of Dunwich, mi-go took possession of various group members to explain why they worked for Shang (he had held out the promise of returning Cthulhu to them with his stolen technology) and they blamed the group for not seizing their one chance to send Cthulhu home in Shang's control room. The mi-go injured several group members and killed John Sheppard as punishment. In the group's usual meeting place with him, below London's Knights Templar church, Mycroft Holmes shared La Lumière's intelligence on Sarah Winchester: Distraught after family losses, she had turned her San Jose mansion into a phantasmagora, a kind of spirit battery that stored psychic energy, growing stronger each time it absorbed another evil room into its collection, for purposes unknown.
Caleb for seeking and recording more numbers
Elise for trying in vain to make peace with the mi-go
The Wicked Lives We Have Lived
game session #239
played on October 31, 2018
Traveling through more rooms, the group encountered nun Katerina Petrovich, stage magician Jacques LeBeau, a group of cultists worshipping Caleb in a sewer, psychic Thomas Carnacki, investigator Fayt Leigngod, and robot Noname. They were briefly turned into animals by Circe, they battled the queen of Atlantis, they traded unique items with collector Lady Sumuru, they entered a sanitarium, and they gambled in the Crimson Casino. After they solved riddles for psychic cats in the Dreamlands, the cats advised them to keep track of time, and they began to notice how strangely the clocks varied from room to room. Meanwhile, they continued to discover and record more numbers next to symbolic objects, and Sadett proposed that the numbers could be clues to the locations of the nine people that the group needed to find, according to an ancient prophecy.
Caleb for keeping the group on track
Gant for trapping Circe in the face-down mirror
Lost in Darkness and Distance
game session #240
played on November 14, 2018
Further exploring, the group encountered Peter Pan in his treehouse, astronomer Ella Hashagen in an attic, hunter Lyon Omen in a stable, reporter Chris Collins at a crime scene, and locksmith Lawrence Tate in a sanitarium. They battled Fu Manchu in a Shaolin temple, and Elise's voodoo nemesis John Malveau in a flooded basement. Along the way, they noted that the time fluctuated greatly from room to room, staying the same as long as they were in a room but being different when they backtracked to the same room. The group debated the meanings of the numbers (could they correspond to letters? did they match the times in the rooms?), and Caleb discovered that there was a letter on the ceiling of each room, giving the group one more piece of data to collect and compare. They came upon a door with a glowing symbol of a bird's eye upon it, one of the symbols from the ancient prophecy. On the other side, they found the private study of Grigori Rasputin, who admitted to being a Vistani who had infiltrated the Russian government as a prank. He accepted their cash bribe to come with them.
Deke for trying to connect the numbers to letters
You Might Find Something to Amuse You
game session #241
played on November 21, 2018
Continuing to explore, the group played tic-tac-toe with Phoebe Pyncheon of the Circle and John Dolittle of the X Club, received apologies from a repentant Liesel Schreiner, revived Elijah Ivy who had been tortured nearly to death, and located Gao's parents in Krakatoa, collecting more numbers along the way. They also found Alexandria Knight, who explained with a chessboard that only two enemy pieces (the black bishop and black queen) remained in the proverbial game, one behind a door marked with a sarcophagus and the other behind a door marked with a rifle. ("Do not enter until you're ready," she warned.) She suggested that the group think of the numbers associated with the twelve symbols as coordinates. Borrowing Gant's compass, the group began tracking their movements in the cardinal directions, and realized that the letters on the ceilings (except the X in Rasputin's study) were directions: N, E, S, W, U, and D. After Caleb divined that it would help to visualize a clock face and hands, the group began carefully moving back and forth between rooms, testing out different theories such as the clock hands forming an arrow and the ceiling letters guiding them, but the results didn't pan out. The closer they got to solving the puzzle, the further they felt.
Caleb for various suggestions about cardinal directions
Elise for various suggestions about qabals and symbols
Gao for various suggestions about clock faces
The Sleepers in That Quiet Earth
game session #242
played on November 28, 2018
The group paused for a long time to contemplate the situation and propose ideas. Sagesse realized that the numbers found so far all correspond to one half of a clock face, and wondered if the numbers indicated specific times somehow. Deke suggested that the group just start running through rooms as fast as they could, only stopping to investigate new rooms. They agreed to do so, but most of the rooms that they encountered next were new: An underground crypt where necromancer Coetlicrota the Undying summoned zombies from out of the dirt, a school gymnasium with old ally Vivienne LaRouge, a Zurich hotel room with a victim of a Pazuzu death cult, a Philadelphia tavern where Celio Parisi gave everyone a round of drinks, a haunted nursery from Roderick Usher's mansion where they laid the ghost of a baby to rest, and the Hogue distillery in Ireland. In his laboratory, Matai Shang vented his rage at the group for ruining his elaborate plans, and revealed that the Barsoomian DNA that was combined with Coraline Harrington's was his own, adding a personal element to his frustration with Gant. The group found a door to the Moulin Rouge nightclub and sent most of the people traveling with them into it for their own safety.
Deke for ideas about doors and directions
Sagesse for ideas about clocks and compasses
Promises to End in an Honoured Old Age
game session #243
played on December 5, 2018
Elise suggested that the arrangement of qabal symbols on the Prophecy of Nine scroll from ancient Alexandria might be related to a clock face, but the group couldn't figure out how to add the other three symbols. Gao started keeping track of the clock times as digits on the face of a clock instead of minutes and seconds, and the group concluded that the current time must be their coordinates in this place. The group visited the two-dimensional Flatland, where a wizard complained about trying to tell time with just hours and seconds. They found a priest, Rey Estrada, trapped in Sarah Winchester's mansion, who believed the house to be evil and who had experienced the same trouble backtracking because the path behind him had changed. In a room from the far distant future, they found time traveler Alexander Hartdegen, who showed them what Earth's future would have looked like if they hadn't stopped Matai Shang, and who was unable to fix his time machine to get them out of there. Next, they found a classroom where a professional woman named Isabel Oppenheimer was hunting the chupacabra, and a Swedish museum where explorer Greta Nordahl was showing off her hot air balloon.
Elise for ideas about qabal symbols
Gao for ideas about numbers and clocks
All the Living and the Dead
game session #244
played on December 12, 2018
Caleb divined that the rooms did indeed move around them, as the group already suspected, and that their next task was to deduce what caused the rooms to move and when. Exploring further, the group ran across the undead anti-lich Zackaari, and avoided a battle when Gant telekinetically dragged him into a burning lava pool. In the kitchen of the Manor, they found the ghost of Edgar Cayce, who agreed to travel with them and scout ahead through walls. They also found an Egyptian museum display with a sarcophagus and Melchitt the cat. Along the way, they gathered more numerical data, and debated what the letters on the ceilings meant. Were they the direction in which the rooms moved? Were they hints as to whether the group was moving in the right direction? Did they change from visit to visit? The group had more exploring to do to get their answers.
Deke for theories about ceiling letters
Elise for theories about room movement
Gant for defeating Zackaari, and theories about room movement
In Extreme Fatigue, I Have Had My Vision
game session #245
played on January 9, 2019
Exploring further, the group found William Randolph Hearst, who pitched them on a partnership with Will Keith Kellogg to create "monster cereals" based on Elise's articles; Dr. Nikola Mabuse, who repaid Deke's generosity by giving him a potion restoring his youthfulness; and the abducted families of Elise and Sagesse, who were safe and sound. They also found two Sherlock Holmeses, and scanned their minds to determine which was secretly James Moriarty and then executing that one. They met psychic fortune teller Madame Novitzky, who foresaw paradox in their future (they would have to make an enemy live in order to kill him, and in so doing, gain what they sought to prevent him from creating), and she said she saw two important doors in each direction, never more or less. Gant determined that the house was a 125-room cube. Caleb divined that the parts of the clock times corresponded to specific directions: Hours to west/east, minutes to up/down, and seconds to north/south. Gant theorized that it wasn't the rooms around them moving, but the room they were in: When they entered a room, it moved in the direction labeled on the ceiling, pushing a whole row of rooms with it. Several tests appeared to prove his theory correct.
Gant for theories about room movement and ceiling letters
Gant for extensive documentation and illustration of theories
The Means of Uniting Them
game session #246
played on January 23, 2019
Exploring further, the group found old enemies Oliver Haddo and Bronwyn Cutitari, but avoided fights despite their anger. Deke found himself investigating which Vistani were or weren't messing with his mind after discovering mutual mistrust between Cutitari, Novitzky, and Rasputin. The group found the penthouse library of La Lumière agent Lily Bart, who had devoted her fortune to restoring the qabal's store of knowledge. She happily went with her fellow agents when they asked, giving the group the second of nine people they needed to collect. Upon re-encountering Coetlicrota, Elise fashioned a golden projectile and killed the necromancer with it. Gant's step-by-step search of the western wall led them to a flooded shipwreck and an ambush by Dracula, who leaped out of the shadows with a snarl, ripping Rasputin's neck open.
Elise for killing Coetlicrota the Undying
Gant for leading the group and charting progress
The Heart of an Immense Darkness
game session #247
played on January 30, 2019
The battle against Dracula was swift and bloody. The vampire quickly killed Rasputin, Mabuse, and Rose MacAvoy. Using Sagesse's electric device and Deke's magic kite to slow time, then using Caleb's Sunsword to stun the vampire with daylight, they neutralized him and attacked furiously. While Gao temporarily stole Dracula's powers, the group repeatedly shot him in the head and staked him in the heart. Dracula burned to ash again, leaving the group to resurrect Rasputin and MacAvoy and to celebrate. They pressed onward, finding Marmaduke at a tea party in Wonderland, and repeated several prior rooms in an attempt to explore further. The group sent Gant ahead in astral form to confirm Caleb's theory about where rooms were located, finding a padlock symbol where expected but nothing at other coordinates. Caleb divined that the group should use their object coordinates to travel, deducing the correct combinations. Gant divined two specific clock times, but their meaning was unclear, since they were not at the edges of the house.
Caleb for using math to guide the party
Gao for stealing Dracula's powers at personal risk
We Shall Never Be Again as We Were
game session #248
played on February 13, 2018
Elise learned how to project herself astrally like Gant. Several times, she explored until she found an interesting room, then created a portal for the rest of the group to join her there, without triggering any room movement. First they observed a door with nine padlocks, each one with a qabal symbol carved into it. Next, they found the basement of racist Atlanta judge William Calhoun, brutally murdering him before he could reach his evil spellbook. Then they entered a frontier log cabin and met Tonto, representative of the Nation of Nine, and convinced him to join their cause. Next, they found the maid's room in Roderick Usher's mansion, convincing the angel Rachael to join them as a healer. Next, Elise found a train station with a large board of arrival times and departure times that she thought might correspond to the rooms in the house. Finally, Elise took the group to the junk room of the Crimson Castle, where a woman named Scarlet challenged them to three rounds of Twenty Questions, promising either a reward or a punishment depending on the outcome.
Caleb for plotting the group's progress forward
Elise for moral qualms around killing Calhoun