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25 January 2016 @ 02:30 pm
[CoC: HotOE] End 1893 vignette  
Yesterday, we met for the last session of the flashback in the Horror on the Orient Express game. It went at somewhat of a hurried pace, since we wanted to finish the whole thing up in one game, but we managed to decipher T̝̻̲̲̲̣̃ͯ̅h̬̭̱̖̝̺ͨ̒eͬ̓̅͐ ̰̩͠W̞͔͇̲̘̲h̢̝͕͆ͅi̇̓̏ͫ̋͏̗͚͕͉s͒̊̓ͥ̐ͭ̉p̭̰̓͆͛e̬͖͖͉rͦ̍ͦ͂͟i̲̩͚n̮̩͉͓͍͛g̯̝̝̤̭͍̠͊́ ̷̘͚̉̄́ͦ̃̑̆F̠̹̙ē̶̱̠͍̬͋ͅz͚̲͇̑̉ͧͯ͌ and get Menkaph ejected from the train at the Niš stop. Professor Worth (filling in for Dr. Polat, whose player was absent) used his knowledge from the book to arrest the decline of Mr. Meyers, though it required him to put on a fez himself, adding additional urgency to our quest.

We arrived in Constantinople and met with Professor Demir and learned that his son had been kidnapped, which sent us across the city to find out where he had been taken. While Professor Worth went to the library, Captain Barrington, Mr. Banks, and Miss Meadowcroft visited a man who called himself "the Frenchman" and had an audience with the sultan, eventually learning that the so-called "Children of the Blood-Red Fez" were holed up on the Island of Doomed Princes, a secret tenth of the Princes Islands in the Sea of Marmara south of Constantinople. Professor Demir knew a fisherman, a "Nine-fingered Abdullah," who knew of the location and could ferry the investigators there, so under the cover of night, they traveled to the island and rowed out to land there.

On the island, the Captain and Miss Meadowcroft distracted the guards by provoking the goats while Mr. Banks climbed the crumbling walls of the tower at its summit and pulled the eunuch guarding the cult leader out the second-story window. In the chaos, Professor Worth dashed up the stairs and engaged the leader in a battle of wills for ultimate control of the fez, eventually winning despite her attempts to dissuade him otherwise. As the fez was destroyed, her head exploded, and the party managed to get Professor Demir's son, and the other prisoner, a Prince Ramazan, out of the tower. Hurling petrol bombs behind them, the party made their escape and went back to the professor's house. At that point, the game time was basically over, so we wrapped things up and went home. Victory!

And the Captain proposed to Miss Meadowcroft, so they or any children they have could be backup PCs if any of the 1920s-era characters dies. Mr. Banks would also be willing to come back for one last hurrah, but Professor Worth's player mentioned that he probably went home, forgot anything like this ever happened, and refused to speak to Professor Smith ever again. Not that I blame him.

Now that I'm playing an official Call of Cthulhu adventure, I can see why Trail of Cthulhu changed the mechanics of investigating. The stakes are often "Do this thing or the world is doomed," and then whether we even know what thing to do comes down to Library Use and Persuade and if we fail those--and this is a percentile system, so that's likely at some point--the GM has to scramble to find some way to get us back on track or else the world ends. It's why I'm glad that mutantur laid out the paths for us to take instead of letting us flail around for a while. We did a lot of flailing last session, though we eventually worked things out!

My solution for this is generally to have lower stakes and let the PCs fail--I'm reminded of the time I ran Operation COBALT SHADOW (aka "A Victim of the Art") in Delta Green, where what I thought would be a relatively quick opera took four sessions before F Cell screwed things up so badly that MAJESTIC swept in and they had to extract themselves--and that may happen someday. I mean, it's not for no reason that we have possible backup PCs. I think that since this was a flashback that had to end in a particular way because it "already happened" it exacerbated that problem, though.

I am curious if we'll seriously screw up a leg of the journey. Next time, France!
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Back in my Play podcast