OSR: Behind the Curtain: Session 2 Examination

I'm trying a new series of posts, where I examine my RPG sessions in detail, trying to show how I GM, what rulings I make, and issues that a narrative writeup can conceal. This post won't make much sense if you haven't read the narrative session report.

Session Reports: 1, 2

Session Examinations: 1,

Spoilers below. In the unlikely event that any of my players see this post, skip it. Trust me.


OSR: The Mystery of Uriah Shambledrake Session 2 - A Plan After Midnight

In the Previous Installment, the PCs:

  • Did  Not Inherit a Vast Fortune
  • Discovered a Mysterious Letter
  • Extorted Funds
  • Drank to Excess
  • Explored the City of Endon

The Poor Boys of London

The PCs are:

Tom Shambledrake
Electric Wizard and heir to the Shambledrake estate... which was discovered, last session, to be bankrupt.

Haze Palewolf
Illusionist. Tom's friend and boon companion. Slightly amoral but deeply practical.

Jonty Earl
Dandy. Assistant Professor at Loxdon College, in debt to Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl and in trouble because of it.

Agnes Nona
Brawler. Aged relative of the Shambledrakes, Agnes is a serial monogamist, outliving a stack of husbands (by any means necessary). "Aunt Aggy" is carrying on a lively correspondence with Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl.

Dr. Augustus Hartwell

Biomancer. A foreign doctor and self-described "quack", Augustus wants to overturn Endon's stuffy and outdated medical notions. Dr. Hartwell's player couldn't attend this session.

Lizzy Ramchander
Potion Wizard, cook, and former brewer to the Shambledrake family. Lizzy is filled with middle-class ambition.

Side Note: Urban games sometimes feel like a plate of spaghetti. Every player and NPC has their own timeline and plot, and they intersect and weave through each other. The default assumption is that the group is split. The GM needs to work hard to keep everyone colliding. It helps if players (like mine) are aware of this and set up their own collisions.


Jonty instructed the local knocker-upper to wake him very early, then retired for a few fitful hours of sleep in his tiny lodging-house room. Well before sunrise, to the drumbeat of dried peas on his wax-paper-coated window, Jonty slid out of bed, slid into his coat, and skittered down to the street. The note from Snedge burned in his pocket.

By midnight, he had to bring a girl from 59 Sonper Lane to 88 Hasselby Court. A kidnapping. A crime. Jonty wanted all the information he could get ahead of time. His dawn excursion took him to Sonper Lane, where he nonchalantly inspected the house numbers.

59 Sonper Lane appeared to be one of several rooms above a tailor's shop. "Sew Divine" was locked at this hour, so Jonty bought two baked apples from a baked apple-seller, asked about neighborhood news, and gently tried to figure out who "Aggy" was. The apple-seller knew of her, but, possibly thinking Jonty was a debt collector, was reticent. Jonty did learn that "Aggy" was a "woman of mature years", which surprised him.


Back at Loxdon College, Tom and Haze slouched out of bed in Nedalward Hall. Haze was suffering from his first ever post-opium morning, while Tom was weighted down with grief (both for a lost uncle and a lost legacy) and bafflement. 

Guffy Chesterton, a fellow student, commiserated with Tom for a few moments, then slipped an unlit match into a hole in Tom's coat. Evidently, Guffy had mistaken Tom's mood for anxiety over the Apprentice Test.

The pair went off to class, discussing their various predicaments all the while.


Lizzy woke up, changed the apartment with Dr. Hartwell for the day, and set off to find a job. After checking the newspapers, she remembered that the "upper crust" of Endon wouldn't advertise for a cook in such a vulgar way. That lawyer, Cheetham, might know of someone, or at least point her in the right direction.

As she stepped into the lower reception room of Dewey Cheetham and Howe, a firm blue-clad arm gripped her shoulder. "Hold it miss! You're under arrest." A Copper loomed out of the shadows.

"What for?" Lizzy said, as feigned bafflement was replaced by actual bafflement. She hadn't done anything she needed to conceal.

"What for the decapitous murder of Mr. Cheetham, miss."

"But I didn't kill Mr. Cheetham!"

"A likely story. You'd better come upstairs and see the Sergeant."

Lizzy was gently propelled up the stairs. All the offices but one were closed, but, behind the haggard form of a Sergeant, Lizzy could see a corner of Cheetham's desk. She peered over the Copper's shoulder.

Mr. Cheetham, or at least a body that looked a lot like him, was seated behind his desk. His head was missing, and a huge fan of red-brown blood stained the wall behind him. Lizzy threw up theatrically, aiming mostly at a wastepaper basket but slightly at the Constable.

The Coppers switched from suspicion to concern, and located a glass of water and a clean handkerchief for the cook, who hammed it up for all she was worth. "You are not really under arrest miss," the Constable said. "I just said that to see if you would run. You are, err..."

"Voluntarily assisting the police with our inquiries," the Sergeant said, wearily.

"That, yes. Now how did you know Mr. Cheetham?"

Lizzy explained the whole story. The will reading, the total lack of funds to distribute, the angry creditors, the chance meeting with the other attendees, their names and professions, and the visit to the Unicorn Arms. "Where we spent all night," she said.

"Hrm. We will have to investigate your alibibi," the Constable said, "as well as those other alibibis. I do not like the sounds of them."

"But Constable, you said Cheetham was killed just around midnight," Lizzy added gently. "We were all..."

"Like I said, we will investigate these alibibis. Now, will you please accompany me to the station where we can take down your testiphonicals in the proper way?"

"Purely voluntary," the Sergeant added, wincing at the Constable's pronunciation.

"Of course," Lizzy said, smiling, and resting her arm on the Constable's. 

"Now tell me," she said, as they reached the street, "is Constable your real name?"

"No miss," he said, "it is my rank. My name is Constable Riley."

"Do you have a cook at this station house of yours, Constable Riley?"

"Bah, if you can call her a cook, miss. Some of the things she produces aren't fit to be looked at, let alone angested."

"How interesting," Lizzy said.


Haze met with Jonty after his first class. The pair discussed Jonty's predicament and kidnapping plans. 

"If you have time," Jonty asked, "could you slip by this address and see if you can locate any more information on this... 'Aggy' person?"

Haze considered it. Blackmail material was always useful, especially when it came to exam time. He didn't have to commit the crime. "Of course."

Aggy. The name bothered him. Haze wandered down to Sonper Lane. After browsing Sew Divine, peering at potential clues, and trying not to spend any money on new rainbow-coloured gloves, he turned to leave, only to see Agnes in the street buying a newspaper.

"Haze!" she said cheerfully. "What brings you to this area?"

"Oh, the, err, tailor's," Haze said, pointing. "Do you live around here?"

"Oh, hereabouts," Agnes said, with a vagueness born of decades of intrigue and caution. One never knew...

"Nice enough neighborhood," Haze squeaked, then strode off at high speed.

"What a peculiar young man," Agnes said, watching him retreat. "I must keep an eye on him."


Walking briskly back to the college, Haze almost ran into Lizzy and Constable Riley.

"Haze!" Lizzy said.

"Right," the Constable said, pointing at the skittish student. "You are not under arrest but we are investigating your alibibi."

"My what?" Haze said.


"Cheetham was murdered!" Lizzy hissed. "Decapitated in his office! Apparently he was working late. Sent all the staff home. And someone cut off his head. They still haven't found it!"

"Those are police secrets, miss," Constable Riley chided, "and not to be shared with persons of dubious felonicity."

"Haze was with me all evening, Constable, as I've said. Check at the Unicorn Arms! They'll remember us."

"Be that as it may, you are not to leave the city until your alibibi has been verified."

Haze shrugged, then strode off. Once out of sight, he broke into a sprint.

Krenz Cushart


Haze burst into Jonty's tiny office, flinging the door open dramatically "Tom's Aunt Agnes is the Aggy we have to kidnap and Cheetham the lawyer's been murdered!"

Jonty, pinned against the wall by the irate college porter, made a gurgling sound.

"What's this about a kidnapping an' a murder," the porter said. "Killed my horse and you've killed again, eh Prof. Earl?"

"Didn't kill the horse! Didn't kill anyone!" Jonty spluttered.

"Horses cost money. You flogged that horse to death. Marks all over her back. That'll come out of my budget," the porter complained. "She was only 27. Yeeears of working life still in her."

"That horse was half-dead," Haze protested. 

"And now she's all-dead. You stay out of it, unless you've got more coins than your dear Professor."

Haze shrugged. Jonty fumbled in his pocket, produced 5 silver pieces, and handed them to the porter.

"This won't buy a horse," the porter said.

"It'll buy a 27-year-old horse," Jonty retorted. 

"Well, so be it," the porter muttered, then slipped out the door.

Jonty collapsed into the chair that occupied most of the floor space. He beckoned Haze over. "What's this about Agnes?"

"She's Aggy. Tom always calls her Aunt Aggy. And she lives in or near Sonper lane. Should have seen it before. She's up to something, I can feel it."

Jonty went pale. His pending criminal lifestyle was taking its toll. Memories of Agnes' prowess with a reinforced handbag didn't help.

Side Note: "Handbag by Louis Vuitton?" "No, by Mike Tyson."

"And what's this about a murder?"

"Cheetham, the lawyer. Someone decapitated him. Stole the head. Lizzy's been arrested."

"Gods and devils! She'll throw us to the wolves!"

"Didn't seem like it. We've all got an alibi. We were all together... for the most part. So if we all stick together..."

"Right. Now, let's decide what to do about this kidnapping plot."


"And if you'll sign here... Thank you. Congratulations on your new position, Miss Ramchander."

"It will be an honour to work with the police," Lizzy said, tying on her new white apron. The coup had been bloodless. One look at the state of the kitchen, and a slightly crumpled letter of recommendation from the Shambledrakes (and a backup note from Dr. Hartwell), and she had a new job. Position as station cook didn't pay much, but it did come with a scullery maid, a nice stable income, all the ham sandwiches she could pilfer, and, more importantly, access to the Coppers.


Agnes left her history class and, newspaper tucked under her arm, strode across campus. Jonty, who had paced for a quarter of an hour outside the classroom, intercepted her. Haze and Tom waited behind him.

"Agnes," he said, "I have something I wish to communicate to you. I..."

"Terribly sorry," Agnes said, pointing at a section of the newspaper, "I have an appointment. Some other time. Oh hello Tom!"

"Hello Aunt Aggy," Tom said. Jonty had briefed him on the looming criminal enterprise.

"Now run along boys and study. Aunty has to go meet some people."

Jonty had only caught a glimpse of the advertisement. Something about an orphanage. "Get me a copy of the Daily Sentinel," he said to Haze.

"Can't. Lunch."

Jonty boiled with nervous energy and took off in the opposite direction. "Students", he hissed to himself.


"Professor Tallerand?" Agnes said, tapping on a labelled door.


Anges stepped into a magnificent office. The skeleton of a cameleopard dominated the room. Its neck was swept down, supporting, with the aid of some brass rods, a writing desk. Prof. Tallerand, tenured in Biomancy, put down a leatherbound book, and examined Agnes' card.


"I wish to inquire about participation in experimental biomancy."

"Mrs... Nona. You understand that such experiments are quite dangerous. Some women of... limited means and advanced years, who cannot rely on family or charity, might see them as an alternative to self-destruction, but I...

"Oh, not for me," Agnes said.

"Oh? I'm not sure I..."

"In the near future, I will have... access to some orphans. An almost unlimited supply of them. If a legal framework could be invented..."

"Mrs. Nona, that would not be entirely legal."

"Well, no, but I am sure that can be overlooked. Would such an arrangement appeal?"

"In theory..."

"To a remunerative degree?"

"To a very remunerative degree, yes. Of course, that is only in theory."

"Of course. Good day, Professor Tallerand."

Agnes stepped out of the office, then checked the newspaper again. "St. Longstand's Orphanage seeks a Night Warden of Stern Constitution and Proven Experience." It wasn't her idea of a dignified position, and working for a living was practically scandalous, but if life gives one lemons...

Side Note: Agnes' scheme flummoxed everyone else at the table. I'd improvised a few options for a "governess-type position" in the newspapers, not expecting Agnes to select the orphanage. I'd expected her to train, bribed, or be stabbed by her new charges. I didn't expect her to come up with a way to sell them before even interviewing for the position.


Jonty, having found a copy of the Daily Sentinel and located the advertisement, was waiting for Agnes outside the rusting gate of St. Longstand's Orphanage. He sidled up and blocked her path.

"Agnes. I must bare my soul to you. This is the second time I have made this dreadful confession today. I am in debt to Lord who I now believe is a mutual acquaintance. I must confess that this Lord has, through an intermediary, asked me to kidnap you from your lodgings tonight and bring you to this address by midnight," Jonty said, holding out the well-folded note. "If I do not, I fear my life may be in danger, as yours almost certainly is. I make this confession freely, and beg for your advice and assistance."

"That's very nice dear," Agnes said, patting Jonty on the head. "But Aunty has an appointment. Goodbye."

And she walked away, leaving Jonty stunned and pale.


"And you understand that some of the children here are, well, uncouth. Discipline is difficult to maintain. Some of them fashion weapons, I am sorry to say. I worry that a woman of your..."

"I am perfectly capable of handling a group of children," Agnes said, in her most severe voice.

"Just so. The hours are from nine in the evening to six in the morning, every night, with one day off a month."

"Very well," Agnes sighed.


"Enter," Professor Tallerand said.

Assistant Professor Jonty Earl slid into the office. "You wished to see me, sir?"

"Yes. Eark, is it?"

"Earl, sir."

"You have a student named Agnes Nona in your class. Lodestones and Ferric Properties? An older woman."

"I do, sir."

"Keep a close eye on her for me," Professor  Tallerand said, sliding one gold piece across his desk. "In particular, should the attention of the Metropolitan Police light upon her, I should be obliged if you would ensure it does not linger."

"Err, sir?"

"That is all." The Professor waved Jonty out.

In the corridor, Jonty slumped against the wall and dabbed at his forehead. Life had suddenly become so complicated.

Traviès de Villers, Charles-Joseph


The Unicorn Arms was crowded on this Friday evening. Students jostled with carters and mechanics. Lizzy, Tom, Haze, and Jonty squeezed around a corner table.

"Right. This kidnapping plot," Lizzy said, as Jonty downed another gin and looked anguished. "I don't like it."

"I don't like it either," Tom said. "It's almost criminal!"

"It is criminal," Haze sighed, "and considering we're all under suspicion of murder..."

"Oh, the Coppers cleared that up," Lizzy said. "I'm their cook now. They asked here, checked our stories. I think we're in the clear."

"Hello," a new voice said, "mind if I squeeze in."

The voice belonged to a young woman with a large hat, a well-fitted jacket, and a glint in her eye normally associated with cobras and highwaymen.

"Angelica Hopewell. I am a reporter. And you," she said, "are Tom Shambledrake. Pleased to meet you." She extended a gloved hand. Tom looked at it with confusion and disdain.

"Who are your friends, Mr. Shambledrake? And how do you feel about being disinherited?"

"He was not disinherited," Lizzy said, "there was just no money in the will."

"That's very interesting," Angelica said, pulling out a notebook and an enchanted auto-writing pen. She clicked the end and it burst into life, leaving a faint contrail of magic as it neatly transcribed the conversation. "And you are?"

"Elizabeth Hartwell. I was the late Mr. Shambledrake's cook."

"And you were arrested for murdering Mr. Cheetham, the lawyer."

"I was not! I voluntarily went with the Coppers, who are my employers by the way."

"Fine, good. Do you know who murdered Mr. Cheetham."

The table was silent.

"Because," Angelica continued, in a syrupy tone, "I have to get my story in within the next 15 minutes to make the evening edition. I'm afraid the story the paper has now is full of the wildest speculation."

"Which paper?" Jonty asked.

"Oh, I work freelance. One of them. Any of them, really."

"Fine. I am Proffessor Jonty Earl, and while I was also at the will reading, I do not know who killed Mr. Cheetham. I was shocked to learn of his death. We all were"

"Do you know what happened to his head?"

Haze leaned forward, "It could have been taken by Necromancers."

"You are?" 

"A friend. And a reputable wizard."

"A reputable wizard... Necromancers... yes that's a good quote."

"Thank you."

"And I am of course also shocked," Tom added, somewhat unnecessarily. "And I hope Mr. Cheetham's killer is swiftly brought to justice."

"Keep in touch," Angelica said, blowing Tom a kiss before launching herself through the crowd.

"Right. To business," Jonty said.

"To business!" Lizzy said, draining her gin.

Yuri Hill


"Are we going to have any more of that language?" Anges asked the crowd of orphans.

"No ma'am." 

"That's right." Agnes blew across her knuckles. Her left hook was still fairly impressive. She'd got good spin on that child. The proverb says that sparing the rod spoils the child. Agnes believed that using a rod also spoiled them.

"Now, Aunty Agnes is going to read you a bedtime story," Agnes said, rummaging in her purse. "The Manual of Arms. Chapter 2. The Position of Rest. A solider at rest..."


"Alice," Agnes asked, "do you have a last name?"

"No ma'am. Just Alice."

"And you were brought up here, and now work here as a maid?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Alice, would you like to make a little money?"

"What would I have to do, ma'am."

"I would like you to meet a gentleman at a certain address," Agnes said conspiratorially. "I shall instruct you on this gentleman's tastes, for we corresponded for some time. You are to say that you are 'Aggy', and do whatever the gentleman asks. In return, I will give you 5 silver pieces."

"I'll do most anything for 5 silver. Anything too strange and I will leave, but if he just wants my hands or..." 

"I am not sure what the gentleman will require."

"Paid in advance?"

"1sp now, 4sp after."

Alice looked Agnes in the eyes. "Done. Do I need clothes?"

Agnes looked at the maid. Under her apron, she was wearing a simple and sturdy blue dress with white flowers. "That should be sufficient."


"Locked," Haze said, jiggling the door to Sew Divine.

"Of course. And the stairs are inside. The tenants must have a curfew, or two keys. One for the shop, one for their apartment." Jonty was shivering in the cold night air.

"Why do we need to go here again, if I'm impersonating Agnes?"

"Because we need one of her dresses. You look like a cook." Jonty said.

Lizzy glared at him. "I am a cook."

"I think we can climb the drainpipes on the end of the block," Haze said. "You two keep watch." Tom and Lizzy shuffled into an alley, while Haze and Jonty attempted to scale the building. Jonty's smart chain made the climb easy. After slipping across the rooftops, guided by their friends below, they found the correct set of windows.

"Copper!" Tom squeaked, pointing at a lantern bobbing towards them in the gloom.

"I'll handle it," Lizzy said. "You keep an eye on the burglars."

Lizzy strode up to the Copper, intercepting him before he could see Tom. "Oh Constable," she gushed, "thank goodness. I'm the new cook at the Loxdon College Copper Station." She curtseyed. "Sorry, Metropolitan Police station. And I'm afraid I'm lost."

"Never you mind, miss," the Copper said politely, taking her by the arm. "I'll see you safely back."

"Thank you Constable..."

"Constable Barnes, miss."

"And what sort of sandwiches do you like, Constable Barnes?"


On the rooftop, Jonty, with Haze hanging on to his ankles, was trying to scrape open a window with his quill. It was the only unlit window on the floor, and therefore probably - hopefully - Agnes'. He finally cracked the paint seal, slid the window up, and was hit in the face with a brick.

"Devils Assorted!" he cursed, clutching his nose. The brick danged from the ceiling on a string. A cheap, but ineffective, burglar deterrent.  

Side Note: Agnes' player insisted they'd trapped their room, despite not mentioning it.

Jonty slipped inside, cautiously opened the battered wardrobe, pulled out a dress, and threw it down to Tom. He then climbed out, closed the window, and raced along the rooftop with Haze. 

Lizzy, meanwhile, had thanked Constable Barnes, waved goodbye, and sprinted back by a circuitous route. She arrived panting and tired, only to have Tom hand her a dress and insist she change in an alley, shielded only by Tom's coat and darkness.


The group wandered north onto Gaumdart Ave, hailed a cab, and headed for Hasselby Court. Haze wisely suggested the cab drop them off some distance from their final destination. Haze and Tom took up concealed positions across the street, while Lizzy and Jonty walked up to the door of 88 Hasselby Court. It was a warehouse wedged between a textile works (dark, this time of night), and a stable (also quiet). No windows. A wood door, badly painted. Thick, sound-muffling brick walls. 

Jonty knocked. An almost-invisible wood panel slid back, revealing Snedge's face. "You're here," the mysterious functionary said, almost surprised.

"And so is Aggy. Let us in." 

The door creaked open. Snedge took a look at Lizzy, who tried her best to hide her face, then at Jonty, then motioned the pair inside. "Almost late."

"But not late," Jonty said. 

By the light of a lone candle, the pair navigated up a half-flight of stairs to a small office. "In here. Wait twenty minutes," Snedge said. He closed the door and locked it. Jonty waited until Snedge's footsteps faded down the side

Jonty examined the room. Desks piled against the wall. Dust. A wooden trunk with a lock. He idly opened drawers, prodded moths and scraps of paper, then took another look at the trunk. Not locked. He flipped the lid open.

"Lizzy", he said quietly. "We should leave."

There was a body in the chest. A young woman, cut at the joints, wrapped in canvas a blue dress with white flowers. Blood was already starting to seep through the chest's sides. 

"Who is she?" Lizzy whispered.

"No idea. Can you break the lock?"

Lizzy went over to the door and started twisting the latch. She paused. "Devils. I head whistles."

"I don't hear..." Jonty said, then paused. He could hear them now. Whistles. Coppers. Calling to each other. From all sides. "We've got to get out," he said, very calmly, from a place so far on the other side of panic that the turbulence of life could not reach him.

Lizzy booted open the door. "Down or up?" 

"Up." The pair raced up the stairs, finding another small abandoned room at the top. A pristine copy of "Lodestones and Ferric Properties", the textbook of the course Jonty teaches, rested atop a pile of scrap wood. 

"Fucking Snedge!" Jonty spat as he grabbed the textbook and stuffed it into his coat.

There was a ladder to the roof, and Lizzy sprang for it. The rungs snapped off in her hand. "Sawn through," she said, examining them. "Do we fight our way out the front?"

"No," Jonty said. The rungs reachable from the floor were cut, but a few of the upper ones looked intact. Snedge had gotten lazy. Jonty flipped his smart chain upwards, looped it around the top rung, and motioned for Lizzy to grab it. He flung her upwards, then, once she was on the roof, followed. Below them, the could hear Coppers on the stairs. 


And so we end this session. Jonty and Lizzy are on the roof, with a swarm of Coppers below. Their scheme has gone awry, but it seems their plan was not the only one thrown into disarray by Agnes and fate.

The night air is thick with crimes and plots. Will the PCs see the light, or will their intricate schemes collapse? Find out next time.


OSR: Behind the Curtain: Session 1 Examination

"Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it."

 - E. B. White

Analyzing an RPG session is a similar process. Judging by the view count, not many people are interested in session reports in the first place, but it might be interesting to see how my mind works (or doesn't work) under pressure. You'll need to read this session report first.

This NGR play example from Zzarchov Kowolski is a great example of a highly detailed procedural examination. It's great because it's totally alien to my usual methods. 

Spoilers below. In the unlikely event that any of my players see this post, skip it. Trust me.


OSR: Class: Cheese Wizard

One of my players misread "Curse-Eater Wizard" as "Cheese-Eater Wizard" and was disappointed at the lack of cheese. Here's a GLOG class.

Cheese Mites, 1930

Ryan Harby, The Cheese Wizard. There are more!

Cheese Wizard

Starting Equipment: spellbook, ink and quill, small wheel of cheese (2 inventory slots, worth 5sp).
Starting Skill: Cheesemaking.

Cheese is a vital part of commerce and a staple food in Endon. Bread and cheese support the masses. The Upper Class gift each other enormous novelty cheeses or import rare varieties from Foreign Parts.

Perk: Taste any cheese to learn the type of animal, its health, its diet, and its approximate sale price.

Drawback: You cannot regain MD if you have not eaten at least 1 piece of cheese in the previous 24 hours, and you cannot cast spells if you are not carrying at least 1 inventory slot full of cheese.

1. When you form your thumb and forefinger into a ring it acts as a magnifying glass of up to 4x magnification.
2. Create a coin-sized patch of mold by rubbing an object.
3. State a question and write two answers on two pieces of cheese. Whichever cheese goes moldy first is the correct answer. Takes 1d6 days. Base chance of being correct is 60%.


Cheese Wizard Spell List

1. Caseination
R: touch T: object weighing [sum]x2 lbs D: permanent
Touched object transforms into low-quality cheese. Metal objects and magical objects are not affected. 2lbs of cheese is enough food for 1 person for 1 day.

2. Cheese It!
R: touch T: [dice] creatures D: [sum] rounds
Target moves at 3x normal speed, but cannot move at less than full speed. Save to negate. Gaps and walls less than 10’ wide/tall are treated as flat terrain for the spell’s duration. If the target is knocked prone while this spell is active, they take 2d6 fall damage.

3. Puncture
R: 0 T: self D: [sum] minutes
[Dice] harmless, painless, cylindrical holes open in your torso. They pass all the way through your body. Each passage can contain a bottle of wine or 3 potion flasks. When the spell’s duration ends, any loose objects are expelled, any trapped objects (for example, a rope tied in a loop) are embedded in your flesh, dealing 1d12 damage immediately and probably resulting in serious health consequences. If you invest 2 or more [dice], one of the holes can be through your head, rendering you immune to mind-altering effects for the spell’s duration.

4. Rind

R: 0 T: self D: [sum] rounds
You are coated in a thick layer of wax, mold, or hardened cheese. Your appearance is disguised (and disgusting). Reduce all incoming non-fire damage by [dice]x2 for the spell’s duration.

5. Sharpen Hands
R: 0 T: self D: [sum] rounds
The edges of your hands become as sharp as knives. Unarmed attacks deal 1d6+SB+[dice] damage. Additionally, for the duration of this spell, you can accurately measure the angle between your two hands and estimate the weight of cheese cut from a wheel.

6. Cheese Spray
R: 200' T: [dice] creatures or objects D: 0
A blast of cheese emerges from your fingertips. Target suffers a different effect depending on which type of cheese strikes the target. Roll 1d10: 1. Sharp. Target takes [sum] piercing damage, Save for half. 2. Soft. Target takes -2x[dice] to Defence for [sum] rounds. Save negates. 3. Hard. Target takes [sum] bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone. Save negates. 4. Grated. Target takes [sum] slashing damage, Save for half. 5. Smoked. Target takes [sum] fire damage and is set on fire. Save negates. 6. Blue. Stunned for [sum] rounds. Save negates. 7, 8, 9. Struck twice. Roll a d6 twice. Add effects, make one Save. 10. Struck three times. Roll a d6 thrice. Add effects, make one Save.

7. Food Infusion
R: touch T: creature and [dice] rations D: 0
Target creature heals [sum] HP and consumes [dice] rations. If sufficient food is not available, the spell fails. It costs 2 HP to remove 1 negative HP and 4 HP to remove 1 Fatal Wound. This spell cannot restore lost limbs, remove injuries, or cure diseases. The creatures also gains any benefits or penalties from the consumed rations, making Saves as normal.

8. Redwyn's Excellent Clamp
R: 30' T: object D: [sum] varies
A clamp of red light appears over one or two objects you designate. The maximum width of the clamp is [dice]x10'. The clamp will push the objects together until they are held securely (effective strength of 20), but it will not damage either object or any living creatures. If you designated an orc's shirt and the back of a chair as targets, the clamp would firmly secure the orc to the chair. The clamp must be able to fit around the objects. You could not secure a chair to the floor or walls. Creatures can break free with an opposed Strength check, and, most of the time, can wriggle free in a few hours. The spell lasts for 1 [dice]: minutes, 2 [dice]: hours, 3 [dice]: days, 4 [dice] months, or permanent.

The Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft (1970)

9. Fascinating Cheese
R: touch T: object D: [sum] minutes
You enchant a piece of cheese. It glows with soothing light. Any creature who sees the enchanted cheese must Save or be compelled to sit still and observe it for the spell's duration. Flying creatures will land or circle it. The caster is not immune to this effect. The effect is broken if line of sight is broken, if something startles a target (a loud adjacent shout), or if the target see signs of obvious danger (such as someone killing their friends).

10. Heat Ray
R: 50' T: object or creature D: 0
Target creature or object takes 1d4 non-lethal damage and becomes warm. On the subsequent round, you can choose to have the target take [sum] fire damage and catch on fire. Save negates.

Robert Hooke, Micrographia

11. Monster Mite
R: touch T: a lump of cheese D: [sum] minutes
A cheese mite (a tiny eight-legged hairy arthropod) becomes huge and aggressive.
HD: [dice]x2
Attack: [dice]+2d6
Defense: 12
Strength: 14 (SB: 1)
Damage: 1d6+1 bite.
The Monster Mite targets the nearest creature, so throwing the cheese lump as you cast  this spell is wise. There is a 1-in-10 chance that this spell will be permanent. If you invest 4 [dice], the mite also mutates.

12. The Cheese Stands Alone
R: 0 T: self D: [sum] rounds
The world stops for [sum] rounds. From your point of view, creatures and enchantments become frozen smoke-shrouded shapes and cannot affect you, or be affected by you, for the spell’s duration. You can move and interact with objects normally, but moving any object heaver than a sword requires a Strength test. You cannot cast spells. If you invest 4 or more [dice], this spell’s duration becomes [sum] minutes.

Cheese Wizard Mishaps
1. MD only return to your pool on a 1-2 for 24hrs.
2. Lose 1 permanent HP and take 1d4 damage.
3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail.
4. Shed 2d10L of water from your skin. Soaks all carried items.
5. Ravenously hungry. Cannot cast spells or attack until you eat 1 ration.
6. Loudly gurgle for 1d6 rounds. Audible within 100’.
Cheese Wizard Dooms
1. Age 1d6 years and develop an itchy skin fungus on your elbows.
2. Age 3d10 years and lose half your maximum HP.
3. Turn into a life-size cheese statue of yourself. All held non-magical items also become cheese. Magical items get a Save.

Mechanical Notes

Redwyn's Excellent Clamp is from the Orthodox Spell list. The Cheese Wizard's spells are mostly personal. The Cheese Stands Alone is as close to a time-stop spell as I'm likely to ever write, but it doesn't really stop time. It shunts the caster into a time wedge (a fold between this moment and the next) containing echoes of the world. This is why objects feel heavier; they have to be pushed uphill in the time wedge.

Also See: Richard G's Cheese Guns. I considered using this as a class concept, but cheese names are setting-specific and it'd feel weird to fire a Limburger in a world without Limburg. The players agreed that Wensleydale is a mortar.


OSR: The Mystery of Uriah Shambledrake Session 1 - The Reading of the Will

Uriah Shambledrake, a man of more-than-modest means and immoderate appetites, is dead. His heirs, or those with dreams of inheriting his substantial fortune, descended upon the offices of Dewey Cheetham and Howe, Solicitors and Barristers, to hear the Reading of the Will. How will their fates affect the Magical Industrial Revolution sweeping the city of Endon?

Peering over his inch-thick spectacles at the strongbox and its jumbled contents, the dust-shrouded form of Wisterion Cheetham, legal counsel to the Shambledrake family, read in a faint and unsteady voice:

"To my faithful cook and sometime cottage distiller Elizabeth Ramchander, known as Lizzie Ramchander, I leave the sum of nine copper pieces and a vial of extremely potent gin which she distilled for me but which I did not have the chance to ingest."

Lizzie checked her envelope, pocketed the vial of hypergin (920 proof) and the handful of coins, and sat back with an air of distinct displeasure. Her employer was never generous (when he was present), but 9 copper pieces and a vial of her own special gin was hardly a legacy.

"To Doctor Bunckpert Noyle, who has been my physician since childhood, and who always wished to be mentioned in my will... Hallooo Doctor Noyle!"

"To my hired physician of latter days, Doctor Augustus Hartwell, I leave a figure of a gryphon that I whittled out of wood."

Doctor Augustus Hartwell scowled. True, his attempts to cure Uriah Shambledrake of The Lurch had failed, despite many hours sawing at bunions and painting his feet with mercuric salts, but the whittled gyrphon was poorly made at best.  At least he'd fared better than the family doctor, who had sunk blubbering into his seat, his dreams of wealth shattered.

"To Agnes Shambledrake née Nona, the wife of my late brother Elias Shamledrake as well as the wife of several other late men, I leave a sturdy pair of boots, fitted to her size, to enable her to run as far as possible away from the remains of this family" and here Cheetham coughed with effort, wheezed deeply, and continued, "never to return."

Agnes, clad in black, with a slightly unfashionable mourning shawl, dabbed at her eyes with a silk handkerchief. "Such cruel words to a widow," she sighed, "as well as to a woman of mature years." It wasn't her fault that she'd lost her first husband to pestilential fumes, her second to his own miscalibrated top-heavy invention, her third to an overly ornate and water-absorbent bathing costume, and her fourth to mercury poisoning.

The list continued, as assorted relatives, hangers-on, and friends received bequests varying from nothing to next-to-nothing.

"To Jonty Earl, Associate Professor at Loxdon College, for producing a place for my nephew by insalubrious means, I give an enchanted smart chain, that he may whip some knowledge into that dull-witted child."

Jonty, who had agreed to accompany two of his favorite (and most likely to inherit) students to this will-reading, started awake, then carefully tucked the chain into to the pockets of his robe. A smart chain! An obedient magical servant (for 1 hour every 24). What had he done to impress the deceased, save for steering his nephew through the shoals of Loxdon College's admission process, and that for a very reasonable fee (now, sadly, entirely spent).

"To my nephew's friend and companion Haze Palewolf, I give an indestructible hat, in memory of the many hats he lost or mangled during his childhood visits to Shambledrake Manor."

Haze firmly seated the flat cap onto his head. A flat cap; Uriah was ever mindful of Palewolf's humble origins. Well, if it wasn't a fortune, it was at least a bequest.

"And finally, to my nephew and heir Thomas Shambledrake, I leave... nothing! As I have mortgaged Shambledrake Manor three times, fraudulently, as well as the estate and lands, pawned the moveable furniture, given the rest as securities for other loans, and emptied my accounts, I leave everything to my creditors. Good luck. Haw haw haw."

Cheetham could barely be heard reading "complete will and testament, signed this day" or words to that effect over the irate crowd of bankers, lawyers, and disjointedness heirs surging around his desk.

"Mortgaged to the hilt, eh?" Tom Shambledrake said to his friend Haze. "I didn't even know he was in financial difficulties. Paid for my school fees and all that, you know."

Uriah had died suddenly, after a series of lingering but mild illnesses. He'd burned to death (in his bedchamber) if the reports from other relations were to be believed. The body was identified by his signet ring, his dentures, and an old fracture in his left leg.

His signet ring. That was odd. If it was found on his body, it surely should have been distributed with the rest of the bequests. And there was no sign of it. Peculiar. Tom peered into the box that had contained the will and associated envelopes. One remained at the bottom, sealed - unlike the others - with wax imprinted with the Shamebledrake crest.

"I'm going to steal that letter," Tom whispered to his friend. "Could you..."

"Work of a moment," Haze said, flourishing his hands and casting a minor illusion to replace the envelope with a counterfeit. Tom reached in, slipped the letter into his waistcoat, and hurried down the stairs. 

The PCs

Tom Shambledrake, Electric Wizard
Heir to the Shambledrake estate. Tom's parents were killed when their hot air balloon was struck by lightning. Vowing revenge on the weather, Tom left his career as a political courier (the first step on the ladder) and took up wizardry. His uncle raised him from a child (of 17 and a half) to maturity (now, in theory) and paid for his first year at Loxdon College.

Haze Palewolf, Illusionist
Tom's friend and boon companion. A stage performer with an accordion, Tom never fit in with the Shamebledrake set. He scraped together enough to attend Loxdon College and study illusion magic, in the hope of taking the stage into the bright industrial future. Tom and Haze are both members of Nedalward Hall.

Jonty Earl, Dandy
An Assistant Professor at Loxdon College, Jonty is underpaid but ambitious. He currently teaches a course in Lodestones and Ferric Properties for Prof. Gortz, and slowly starves. A full-time academic position seems more distant by the day. To supplement his income, he tutors out-of-town students in the subtle arts of college life. He owes 15gp to Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl, an interest free loan that he has conspicuously failed to repay. 

Side Note: Assistant Professor is equivalent to the former rank of Junior Lecturer. The college changed the name to make the salary more palatable.

Agnes Nona, Brawler
Sixty-five (allegedly), short, and almost always dressed in black, Agnes has survived all her previous husbands... and is looking for a new one to survive. Not that anyone can prove anything, of course. Accidents do happen. One of her husbands (GM's Note: it's unclear which) was a Shambledrake, and Tom calls her "Aunt Aggy"... and tries not to leave his tea unattended when she's around.

Possibly to keep close to Tom (and his hitherto-certain inheritance), possibly to maintain an illusion of youth for her paramour, or possibly because she'd lived through most of recent history and wanted to get a certificate to prove it, Agnes enrolled at Loxdon College, studying History. She is carrying on a steamy correspondence (and only a correspondence) with Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl, whom she calls "Lord Terro Mondero". He's seen her miniature portrait... though it was painted a few years back. Quite a few years back.

Augustus Hartwell, Biomancer
A foreign doctor, Augustus intends to challenge the medical exams at Loxdon College to prove that foreign medicine deserves the same certification as local medicine. Though physicians from Foreign Parts are respected, Augustus has some unorthodox ideas that rankle both clients and peers.

Lizzy Ramchander, Potion Wizard
Brewer to the Shambledrake family (and home distiller), Elizabeth is not an academic wizard. She learned her trade the hard way, and has a permanent smell of stale beer to show for it. She dreams of one day opening a high-class establishment called "De-Ginerates", where, using her hyper-concentrated gin and Augustus's extract venom spell, they can get patrons drunk, then sober them up (without a hangover!), and reuse the gin. In Endon, they say beer is merely rented. De-Ginerates would take this to its logical conclusion.

Lizzy and Augustus share an apartment. To avoid impropriety, she gets the apartment during the day while he gets it at night.

The Story Continues

As Jonty blinked in the afternoon sun outside the offices of Dewey Cheetham and Howe, a messenger ran up, held out a sealed letter, then held out a hand for a gratuity. Jonty said "not today", glared, and cracked the blank wax seal.

To Ass. Prof. J. E, from your friend L. T.-on-B.
Beg your remembrance of a certain sum advanced to you some months past, which it has not been your habit to repay or acknowledge. Be so good as to meet a certain Mr. Snedge at the Unicorn Arms near Hasselby Court before sundown.
Jonty stuffed the letter into his pocket, but not before Agnes, descending the stairs, had caught a glimpse of its colour and peculiar blank wax seal. Her hand-delivered letters from Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl were identically marked. Curious...

"We should have a drink to, err, recover from this will-reading and wash down these will snacks," Jonty said to the small crowd piling up around the base of the stairs. "The Unicorn Arms, say?"

"Ooh, thank you sir," Lizzy said, "Always happy to accept a drink."

"Err, well, that is... oh very well. All for the Unicorn Arms, then?" And so Jonty lead the somewhat disparate group down the street. Free drinks and general poverty are great social levelers.

Logan Stahl, from Magical Industrial Revolution.

As the group ambled west along Lewin Street, they spotted someone in an archaic suit of armour staggering, as if drunk, while being pursued by half a dozen urchins with strings and dog leashes.

"What in the blazes is that?" Palewolf said.

"Looks like one of those new Gel Knights," Augustus replied. "Animated armour. This one seems to have gone awry."

"Oh my. Should we..."

But Agnes had already crossed the street. "Hello young sir," she said to the cleanest-looking urchin at the back of the group, "what's all this then?"

"We're gunna captwure it ma'am and weturn it for a wansom."

"Ah. With string?"

"With stwing. And weashes."

"I see. Well, I might have a more expedient method," Agnes said, pulling a fencepost from the ground. She swung at the Gel Knight's head.

Across the street, the rest of the group winced. A miss. The Gel Knight stopped, turned, and extended a silver fireplace poker with a wicked point. Raising it high, it brought it down like an executioner's axe and struck the pavement where Agnes had been standing.

"Close shave," Lizzy said, panting with exertion after a cross-street sprint and desperate shawl-yank.

Agnes didn't reply. "So that's how it is. Naughty Gel Knight!" Dropping the fencepost, she swung her handbag at the automaton's head, caving it in and splitting the knight at the seams. Agnes' handbag contained her handkerchief, a few coins, a small bag of boiled sweets... and two lead bricks. You just can't trust young people these days.

Side Note: a critical hit with a reinforced handbag, wielded with two hands, will in fact knock out a Gel Knight... and many other creatures.

Green ooze boiled out of the automaton's joints, congealed, and began flowing towards the gutter. "Oh no you don't," said Agnes, and scooped a purseful into her handbag. It glorped merrily as it devoured the boiled sweets.

The rest of the group stared in astonishment. "She's your aunt, you say," Haze whispered. 

"By marriage," Tom said hastily. 

"You know what this means," Jonty said, eyes gleaming.

"That she married my uncle?"

"No, that we can return that Gel Knight to its owner or creator for a fee. Not only that, but we have a helpless elderly lady that was terrified and very nearly killed during its rampage."

"There's a plaque inside," Lizzie said. "41 Daudette Lane. Do you think that's the address of the owner or the wizard what made it?" 

"Daudette Lane... that's near Colbraith Square. On the other side of the city! We should hurry," Jonty said. "Luckily, I have a plan."

Jonty examined the automaton's dented shell. It was far too heavy to carry, and didn't seem to be designed for a human to wear. But its internal components could be manipulated by a newly acquired smart chain! Jonty shook off the entourage of urchins, marched the shell to Loxdon College, bribed a porter to borrow the college's cart and ancient horse, covered their prize with a tarp, and set off for Daudette Lane.

As there wasn't enough room in the cart for everyone who thought they had a share in the scheme, and hiring a cab was a luxury none of them could currently afford, Jonty suggested that Lizzy, Dr. Hartwell, and Haze have a drink at the Unicorn Arms while Jonty, Tom, and Agnes returned the Gel Knight. "We'll return before sunset," Jonty said, reaching for his recently pawned pocket watch and not finding it.

Map by Jonathan Newell, amended with this session's activities.

"A rampage!? Oh no, it's happened again." Nero Krahlhammer, of Krahlhammer's Fine Security Apparati for the Discerning Home-Owner, slumped in his chair.

"I'm afraid so," said Jonty, putting on his most lugubrious tones.

"Were there many casualties?" 

"Thankfully, none, but this gentlewoman here," he said, pointing to Agnes, "was very nearly killed when your device inexplicably attacked her." 

Agnes burst into tears. It was one of her best skills. She cried piteously at any mention of death, husbands, and inheritances.

"There there. Have another candied fruit," Nero said, passing the bowl. Agnes sniffled and surreptitiously dropped a few into her ooze-filled purse.

"Now, this sort of thing could damage your company's reputation if it made it into the papers. I'm sure I could speak with the other witnesses, especially gentlemen of quality such as Thomas here, to ensure their, err, discretion... but some of the urchins might need remuneration."

"But I've already paid you 5 silver pieces each for returning the Gel Knight," Nero sniffed. "Oh, if only I had the ooze! You see, my HATED ENEMIES and NEFARIOUS COMPETITORS are poisoning, yes, poisoning, the ooze with control-altering substances. I'm sure of it! This was no natural fault but DELIBERATE SABOTAGE!" He puffed and dabbed his forehead.

"And how generous might you be if a sample could be obtained?"

"I'd pay 5 gold pieces for a fresh sample, but I must warn you that it must be fresh. If the ooze eats anyone... I mean anything... it could taint the assay, rendering it uselessly muddled. And you would have to find it in the sewers. Are you familiar with sewer delves? I suspect not. Quite insalubrious."

"For 6 gold pieces, I'm sure we could make suitable arrangements," Jonty said.

"But so quickly? Very well, but I must warn you again..."

Agnes presented her purse. Nero peered inside, stammered, whispered "pirates and rogues!" to himself. "But I must perform the assay first, to see if this is my ooze, and if so, whether it was poisoned. You must wait here until it is compete. Smith! Bring me the ooze press!"

"Wait here?" Jonty said, eyeing the orange-red sky through the shop window. "I have an appointment..."

"This will not take more than an hour. And 6 gold pieces... well, I'm sure a gentleman of your condition can wait.

William Hogarth

"D'ye think they've swindled us?" Lizzy asked, nursing her one glass of gin. 

"Not likely. I know where he lives," Haze said, "and where he works. Unless they got a huge reward, of course... but no. Ol' Prof. Earl would never give up his position. He's got too much pride."

"Too much pride by half," Dr. Hartwell muttered. "It is nearly sunset. I would not attend a tavern such as this without the promise of a free drink."

"I gave ye a free drink," Lizzy slurred.

"That is so," the Dr. said, examining the not-too-clean tumbler. "That is so."

Jonty, Tom, and Agnes, entered the Unicorn Arms in a cloud of dust and sweat. Jonty had whipped the poor carthorse half to death to get to the tavern on time. He was slightly worried about the horse's health, but more worried by the four gold pieces in his pocket. Tom and Agnes had demanded their payment immediately.

"My friends," Jonty said, shaking everyone's hand and palming a coin to them. Lizzy looked at hers with astonishment. A gold piece! For almost no work! Two months wages in the palm of her hand. She slipped it into her purse. 

"And there's more where that came from", Jonty explained, after filling the group in on the excursion. "If we can find the rogues who are sabotaging Mr. Krahlhammer's Gel Knights, he said he'll pay. No exact figures were discussed, but, as you can see.."

The group began to conspire. Jonty ordered another round of gin, then attempted to excuse himself. "I will return momentarily. There is someone I must..."

"JONTY!" a voice slurred, as Snedge stumbled over to the table. "How're you? Well I see."

Side Note: With some NPCs and settings, a name is enough. Snedge is Snedge; no description is required. You can already visualize Snedge.
"Eh he he," Jonty said nervously. 

"And who are these fine people. Introdusse me." Snedge drawled. He appeared to be drunk, but as his eyes met Jonty's, it was clear that the drunkenness was superficial. His smile didn't reach the corner of his mouth, and his eyes were dead and cold.

"Ah. Well. This is, err, my good friend," Jonty said, as Tom shook Snedge's hand.

"Didn't catch a name," Snedge gurgled.

"And this is another friend," Jonty squeaked, as Lizzy extended her hand... and cast inebriate on the interloper. She'd also recognized the signs of false drunkenness and hidden menace.

"Have a seat," she said, sliding a chair behind the rapidly collapsing Snedge. His eyes went glassy and his nose bloomed red. Lizzy tugged his ear and his face flushed. "Now tell us all about yourself."

"Yew bastardsh," Snedge slurred, "whadid you do to me?"

"Do not fret. Why do you want to see the Assistant Prof?" Haze said.

"Goht an message for im. None of yer busness. Private mattar."

"What sort of message?"

"Consherns some munies he owes. An I am shure he wundnt want you lot to ear about it."

"That is so," Jonty said, "now if we could all just..."

The spell wore off. Snedge instantly sobered up. "You bastards," he said. "Casting a bewizardment on a man without his knowing. I ought to call the coppers."

"But you won't, will you?" Tom said.

Snedge grunted. "You and me should have some words," he said, dragging Jonty away from the table and towards the Alley of Easement behind the tavern. Haze waited, then followed. The rest of the group were too busy arguing over who would buy the next round.

"Listen you slimy bastard," Snedge said, sticking the point of a dagger into Jonty's ribs and holding him against the alley wall, "I don't know who your associates are and I don't much care for them. You owe a debt to a mutual acquaintance, to the tune of 15 of the Monarch's finest. Our mutual acquaintance is willing to reduce that debt to 12 if you perform a little service for him."

"I'm listening," Jonty said, very aware of the dagger pressed against his waistcoat.

"There's a girl what lives at this address," Snedge whispered, handing Jonty a folded piece of paper. "Go and pick her up tomorrow night, after dark, and bring her to the second address by eleven."


"Yes, and I'm none to particular about how you get that consent neither. Whether you use menaces or drugs or some wizard business, it's all the same to me, as long as she's not injured much."

Jonty glanced at the paper. It read,

59 Sonper Lane S of Gaumdart Ave.
to 88 Hasselby Court E of Fanigail.
Aggy. Well, he didn't know this woman, and kidnapping was not exactly his business of choice... but three gold pieces and the good will of his creditor...

"I'll do it."

"Good man. I'm off." Snedge said, tucking the dagger into his belt and sliding down the alley.

Jonty sniffed, then turned to go inside, only to see Haze's face in the doorway.

"Augh! Uh, how much did you hear?"

"Oh, all of it," said Haze.

"I'm sure this must come as quite a shock to you. I mean, your dear mentor, involved in such a disreputable trade."

"Not really. Just letting you know that if you need assistance, I can be relied upon." Haze tapped the side of his nose.

"Well," said Jonty, deeply relieved, "that is a comfort. But this is between ourselves, you understand? Discretion, my friend, discretion."

The group dispersed for the evening. Flush with cash, Jonty attempted to increase his earnings with a bit of light gambling, only to lose 5sp in a few hours. He returned to his lodgings sad and sober. Haze, possibly to dull the growing unease over his companions moral turpitude, or possibly just for fun, elected to try opium for the first time and found it very soothing. The dreams and visions were, to an illusionist, almost heaven-sent.

Night closed over Endon. In the communal bedroom in Nedalward Hall, by the light of a dim candle, Tom finally examined the envelope he'd pilfered from the will reading. It was sealed with the Shambledrake crest. The only other mark on the outside was the scrawled name "Uriah."

Inside, written in a deep and unsteady hand, almost carved into the paper, were the words "SAVE ME".

Tom slept fitfully. Why was the envelope addressed to his late uncle Uriah, if it was sealed by his late uncle's ring? Who wrote the address? The same hand that wrote the contents? Who was to be saved, and why, and from what? And why was it in the box with the will, if the will made no mention of it? 

So begins The Mystery of Uriah Shambledrake.