OSR: Behind the Curtain: Session 3 & 4 Examination

Session Reports: 1, 2, 3, 4

Session Examinations: 1, 2,

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

Descriptions of the players and their characters are in the previous post. Player designators use the same letter as the first name of their PC. E.g. [A] is Agnes' player.

It's much easier to write these reports immediately after the session. Unfortunately, real life and other projects intervened. 

Session 3:

Part 0: Prep

I updated the map and printed an additional price sheet. In the first two sessions, I didn't want to give the players too much information about the setting's behind-the-scenes mechanics before getting them hooked. I felt they were now ready to learn about Tempo and the market cost of magic items and magical equipment.

Anticipating that the group would travel to Shambledrake Manor this session, I ensured the Generic Gothic Manor map was at the top of the stack of paper.

Part 1: Resolving The Cliffhanger

Since Lizzy and Jonty were in immediate peril, it made sense to start the session with their predicament.

I should have been clearer, both in my descriptions and in my own head, about possible escape routes and the general layout of the rooftops. It took a bit more back-and-forth than I'd like to establish the layout. Players rely on the GM to paint the scene, and it took me longer than I'd like to break out the brushes and paint.

I wanted to make the fall into the stables slightly risky. Non-lethal damage is an interesting way to add tension to a chase. The penalty isn't "dead", it's "arrested". [J] crit failed his Dex roll for the fall. Didn't change the mechanical effect, but it did make the description of the meat-and-two-veg impact, and subsequent unconsciousness, plausible.

Still, you can always count on an experienced group of players to come up with a plan. [L] deployed the hypergin scheme to the delight of everyone. It utilized a magic item, a class ability, Endon's social classes, and the tendency of police to see what they expect to see. It was a superbly crafted combination. No element solved the problem on its own. There was no magic get-out-of-trouble button on the character sheet.

I'm not sure if [L] invented the scheme on the spot, or had a vague plan during the break between sessions, but it was a good plan either way. And it worked. No rolls needed.

Part 2: The Frame-Up

If a nefarious NPC has a good plan, and that plan goes awry, it is possible that the remnants of the plan may still create paranoia and distress among its intended victims, or even acomplish the plan's original aims.

Snedge and his patron intended to frame Jonty for a gruesome murder as part of some larger and insidious plot. They also intended to eliminate Agnes, a potential embarrassment, at the same time. A textbook, a note, and a spent saw and plane corpse spell should have been plenty of clues for even the dimmest Copper.

The tracking spell in the textbook was, as the players suspected, intended to centre a scry spell on the scene. Was Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl watching from a safe distance? Could he hear them? Did that affect his later actions? Was the intent mere amusement, a live theater performance for a decadent and utterly amoral noble? Or was it a move on a vast unseen chessboard? If so, who is the opponent, and what are the stakes?

It also wasn't a great plan. Snedge might have assumed Jonty was a wizard. A really good Copper would notice that if non-magical Jonty had cast saw and plane corpse, the scroll would have been consumed. It wasn't, so a wizard cast it. This also suggests Snedge is a wizard. The players didn't notice this incongruity. In fact, it didn't occur to me until I started this writeup. It's unlikely to be a relevant clue. 

Sometimes, things like this happen. If the players did notice it, and I hadn't planned around it, then I'd probably pretend it was fully intentional. Things the players don't remember are coincidences. Things the players do remember are probably not coincidences.

The debate over next steps was amusing, if a little tedious. The disposal of the textbook was a particular problem. Burning it or just throwing it away seemed not to occur to the group. Some players wanted to bury it and watch to see if anyone came to claim the tracking spell, then realized that the spell would fade, and that anyone monitoring it by scrying would also potentially be aware of their plan.

Dr. Hartwell took saw and plane corpse reluctantly. It's not an illegal spell, but it's awfully suspicious.

Incidentally, saw and plane corpse is a variant of saw and plane tree. The legendary Bill the Wizard (RIP), from the Steam Hill and Veinscrawl campaigns, started his career with saw and plane tree, which acquired a reputation for extreme uselessness, especially in the treeless underdark. [T] had actually predicted the existence of the spell when the corpse in the chest was described at the start of this session. I'd written it down, but it's still a weird feeling to have a player make a perfect call.

Part 3: The Split

Last session, I juggled a completely split party and gave sensible advice on how to handle it. Here's more sensible advice. You don't have to handle it.

Lizzy and Agnes could have gone on the trip to Shambledrake Manor, but they chose - for good in-character reasons - not to. As a GM, I don't want to punish players for making in-genre choices, but I also don't have a strict obligation to invent entertaining content for PCs who aren't in danger or actively connected to the plot. I could force a B-plot for Lizzy and Agnes, of course, but I knew I'd need all my attention for an exploration-based A-plot. So, [L] and [A] got to be spectators for a while. It's not ideal, but sometimes, it's the best course of action.

The split party meant that I felt the need to rush rush and abbreviate the exploration scenes. With a group like this, I felt confident in setting scenes in the middle of a search sequence. Without time pressure, it's generally safer to give the PCs all plausible clues from searching a room instead of spending a ton of time interrogating the environment. If they're going to roll until they succeed, just let them succeed. In fact, if what they find is much more important than the details and cruft, just skip straight to the relevant detail.

Alan Linnstaedt

Part 4: Faction Play and the Wine Cellar

I didn't have a clear plan for Uriah Shambledrake's secret. The explosive unguent as a murder weapon was planned (and designed to frame Dr. Hartwell, or the other doctor mentioned in session 1 and completely forgotten by the PCs, meaning he's probably not a relevant hook). 

The rest of the twist wasn't planned, at least not ahead of time. I knew this was irresponsible, but there's a delicious thrill in being irresponsible sometimes, especially in a harmless way. "How are you going to get out of this one, brain?"

Solomon the groundskeeper, with a randomly generated name, was the spark that lit the powder keg. Solomon would have keys. Solomon was wise. Solomon, among other things, suggested splitting one infant into two.

Think, brain, think! Uriah Shambledrake was murdered, but had spent the family fortune before he died. On what? Why? What drove him? Did Uriah write the note "Save Me"? Yes, I decided. If so, why did he write "Uriah" on the outside? There's another Uriah, of course. It's a possibility that has not occurred to any player, despite being very plausible, so it'll be a good twist. Why write the note? Because he knew his enemies were closing in and he was desperate. How could he be saved? After death, of course. The only logical solution was necromancy. 

I had a vague sense the plot was slithering in this direction, but the self-imposed deadline (of "now!") pinned some of the vague shapes to the page. This also suggested another player on the great chessboard of intrigue in Endon. Faction A: Uriah Shambledrake, and the Other Uriah. Faction B: Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl, Snedge. It made some degree of sense.

If Lord T-on-B was maneuvering against the Shambledrakes, controlling Jonty via debt was a solid move. Jonty had access to the presumptive heir, Tom. Tom's a wizard, and it's possible that Lord T-on-B naturally assumed Tom was involved in Uriah's schemes.

On the flip side, it's possible Uriah set Tom up for an obvious fall. A dramatic will reading, with crowds debtors and associates witnesses. Anyone pursuing the Shambledrake legacy would naturally focus on Tom (who knows absolutely nothing) and ignore the two Uriahs, one living and one dead.

Yes. And the second Uriah was Uriah Shambledrake's "natural" son. Very plausible, in-genre. A secret son, doing secret deeds. Uriah Sr. writes him final instructions, included with the will, but to be collected later. Uriah Jr. expects these instructions to be crucial, revelatory, even poignant. Uriah Jr. arrives at Cheetham's office and finds the letter is gone. Cheetham has no idea where it went, but knows it existed. Furious, and possibly with necromancy in mind, Uriah Jr. decapitates the lawyer and steals away with his head.

Now Uriah Jr. is on a furious quest for a letter that is ultimately meaningless. It might contain a coded message, of course, if I need one for plot reasons, but it's probably just a memento. Uriah Jr. probably assumes it was stolen by Lord T-on-B's faction, confirming that Jonty (if not Tom and Haze) are working for the other side. And if Uriah Jr. knew anything about murderous Aunty Aggy, he'd probably assume she was a trusted lieutenant of the opposition.

If later events altered this plot, so be it. It let me extrapolate and it fit all the current facts. Plot safely solidified, I invented the Wine Cellar and the Wine Cellar.

It might seem unbelievable that all of this came together in a few minutes, inside my head, while describing bits of Shambledrake Manor. But it did. A lot of the pieces were already present or half-formed. I just needed to connect them.

When creating a faction-driven scenario, it's good to have three or more sides. Two sides is boring and binary. Should the PCs support A against B or B against A? Always strive to add a third complicating element. The corporation, the hackers, and the cops. The church, the baron, and the rebels. The thief, the other thief, and the mark. Keep things unbalanced and unsettled. 

The Coppers (and Endon's inertia) are a potential third faction. The PCs, if they realize they are pawns and decide to do something about it, are another. 

What was Solomon the groundskeeper's relationship to all this? Well, Uriah (Jr) probably returned to collect the magical artifacts from the secret lab, knowing the place would soon be swarming with lawyers. Perhaps he didn't know that Solomon also had a second copy of the key, or perhaps he left it with Solomon in case he needed to return.

Perhaps Solomon assumed that Tom (the heir and a wizard) was in on his late uncle's scheme, and would (of course) need access to the secret laboratory. Perhaps he realized, given Tom's subsequent reaction, that Tom wasn't involved, and that Uriah Jr. was unlikely to receive this news with remunerative glee. Perhaps he knew from the start that Tom wasn't involved, but knew he was a good lad unlikely to approve of dread necromancy, and wanted to sabotage the scheme. 

In any case, Solomon, like a good sensible minion, had an escape plan, and vanished before the PCs could ask inconvenient questions, with a bag full of silverware and embezzled pay.

Part 5: The Etchings

Lizzy is ambitious. While the hypergin incident with Jonty was an amusing false romance, Jonty presenting the looted pornographic etchings was, in her mind, an assistant professor's bumbling attempt at flirtation. Jonty had no such intention, but it's still an interesting option for future conflict.

Jonty, I think, doesn't consider Lizzy a potential partner. She's a cook. He's kind enough to see her as a person (unlike Agnes, who sees her as furniture), but that's it. 

Part 6: Mack the Mangler

I don't think I included it in the writeups, but Mack the Mangler was brought up in every session as a bit of current background news. A hanging is a good public spectacle, and it seemed like a good way to introduce one of the Innovations.

His dying words, "Save me!", matching the note to Uriah (Jr.) that Tom and Haze stole from Cheetham, were either a paranoia-inducing coincidence or a hint that he was somehow connected to the Shambledrake faction.

The players considered stealing his body (or waiting to see who else might be interested in the corpse), but decided some things were best left unknown. It was simply too risky.

 Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State

Exploding lamp oil was a real concern. Volatile components of a flammable mixture, a confined space, an open flame... and no regulations. I'm sure many people in Endon eagerly await cheap and consistent magical lighting.

Session 4: 

Part 0: Prep

The split between the rest of the PCs and Agnes had grown wider over the last session. OOC, everyone was all fine and dandy, but IC some PCs were starting to ask pointed questions about Aunty Aggy and the suspicious number of murders committed near her

I knew that this session would start with a time skip, cementing Agnes' orphan-selling scheme (and its lucrative revenue). I therefore anticipated some sort of PC-on-PC conflict. While it was possible that the conflict could be resolved peacefully (with Agnes recruiting the other PCs, or, more likely, the other PCs convincing Agnes to turn on her employer), knowing [A], I expected an all-or-nothing solution.

Since I anticipated at least one death, I should have printed extra blank character sheets.Having only one blank character sheet ended up not being an issue, as both players with dead PCs were entertained by commenting or assisting with the session wrap-up.

I also felt that players had reached a plateau in their current investigations. It was time for someone else to make a mistake, and for the players to have the opportunity to exploit that mistake... or cover it up. Since Dr. Hartwell had missed one session, and had yet to play a major role in directing a scheme, I decided that the plot hook would target him.

Finding a dead orphan in the river seemed like a good start, but it wouldn't provide enough clues. Finding a live orphan who could point the finger of blame at Agnes and Prof. Tallerand was too unsubtle. I wanted Dr. Hartwell to have the opportunity to choose a side. Assist with a cover-up, or blow the lid on the whole scheme.

Then I remembered Cheetham, the lawyer. Last session, I'd decided (in my head) that Uriah Shambledrake Jr. (a person as yet unknown to the players) had killed Cheetham, and that a secret factional conflict is taking place between the Shambledrakes and Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl, with the PCs caught in the middle (or used as pawns).

I'd expected Uriah Jr. to use Dread Necromancy to interrogate the severed head, but what if he had an ally? Why did Prof. Tallerand need all those orphans? Generic biomancy experiments, sure, but what if there was a secret and even more unwholesome side to his research? 

Part 1: The Gel Knight

I can't remember if the gel knight conflict took place at the end of Session 3, and was included in this writeup because I forgot it, or if it took place at the start of Session 4. Either way, it was a minor interlude. They PCs wanted to keep an eye on the Gel Knight situation and establish more leverage with Nero Krahlhammer.

The combat didn't go as smoothly as last time. The Gel Knight, though addled by poison, got in a few good hits and sent Lizzy to death's door. She's got a permanent dent in her head, but a lucky use of clear saved her.

Giving Nero a scrying orb (that can only scry liquids, as far as the PCs know) seemed like a good way to reinforce an Innovation, and provide a useful magical artifact for the group. I like Nero as an NPC. His impulsive and and terrible plans seem to encourage the players to come up with sensible long-term plans.

Part 2: Perimass Eve

The time skip allowed PCs to accrue some income. I decided that Agnes' income was 250gp per season (a bit above a merchant banker, but below a fashionable physician), and in theory allowing her entry to the Upper Class. Since this was halfway through a Season, she had access to 125gp of it (minus housing, clothing, and upkeep). [A] decided to spend some of her money on gifts for the group. Anticipating that this session might not go well for Agnes, I asked [A] to invent a holiday. Perimass Eve was born.

I think [A] knew this would be extremely suspicious (and not endear her to Dr. Hartwell), but gifts are gifts.

Part 3: The Beginning of the End

Dr. Hartwell, upon discovering orphan-Cheetham in the river, took one of the courses I'd predicted. He brought in the PCs, starting with the people  he trusted first (Lizzy, then Tom and Haze who brought in Jonty, and then, finally, Agnes).

Perry Pint is an urchin generated using MIR's urchin-generating tool. Dr. Hartwell's activities would have created a network of mildly paid informants. I felt like Perry Pint could serve as a foil to Agnes' sinister orphan protegee Feenie.

Dressing orphan-Cheetham in Agnes' stolen dress was a nice callback by [L]. I'm not sure if it was intentional, and it didn't end up being too relevant to the plot, but it added to the chaos.

The revelation of Uriah Shambledrake Jr. was accompanied by sound effects. Only Dr. Hartwell credited the possibility that the name itself could be enchanted, or at least the sort of thing it was unwise to say aloud.

[A] had Agnes start bluffing immediately, and unconvincingly. The "Timothy/Tomathy" name gag was started by [A] and [J], and kept up by the other players throughout the game, as the name mutated in increasingly ridiculous ways, each time "corrected" by the next PC.

OOC, [A] knew the players weren't watching the orphanage that night, but IC Agnes couldn't assume she was in the clear. Any harm done to the orphan, any communication with Prof Tallerand, or any burning of documents could get Agnes in trouble. Besides, she was confident that she could bluff and bribe her way through the looming confrontation.

Part 4: PC on PC Conflict

Intraparty conflicts are difficult to manage. On the one hand, players should generally work together to keep the game flowing. On the other hand, they should not be compelled to agree with a scheme proposed by another player. If player A really wants to slaughter the Orcs, and player B really wants to ally with them, there's no easy way to resolve the disagreement.

  • If OOC disagreements creep into a conflict, or are its origin, it can very easily destroy a game (or a friendship).
  • If players aren't sufficiently emotionally mature to handle a conflict, what starts as a purely IC conflict can lead to OOC disagreements.
  • If players aren't willing to separate IC and OOC knowledge, the conflict can turn into a game of escalating make-believe. "Nuh-uh, your bullets can't hurt me because I'm wearing an invisible bulletproof vest? Oh yeah? Well I dipped my bullets in bulletproof-vest-deleting oil." Etc. 
  • For most games, intraparty conflict should be a rare and exciting event, the culmination of a series of schemes, and not the default mode of play.
  • If the genre doesn't support this kind of conflict, the GM should not have allowed the scenario to escalate to this stage. 

In groups with new, volatile, or unconnected players (e.g. convention games, drop-in games, etc.), I recommend solving these conflicts with OOC tools available to the GM. Saying things like "You can't do that," or "If you do that, it will make the game less fun for everyone else. What other options are available?" may be required. Rewind time. Edit backstories.

OOC resolution should also be the default approach to boundary violations. You can't address a real-world problem with an imaginary solution.

In this scenario, I was certain the group could both handle a conflict like this and enjoy it. Perhaps not wholeheartedly enjoy it (after all, they were going after another PC), but enough to make it well worth the trouble. The sides also felt fair. Sure, it was theoretically 5 PCs against 1, but relatively few of the caster PCs had damage-dealing spells.  Jonty (as a confederate of Prof. Tallerand and a member of the faculty) was a wildcard, and could easily end up playing both sides against each other. Haze was sufficiently duplicitous to try the same thing.

Just in case, I said something like, "Now, it seems like some PC-on-PC conflict is looming. While I don't usually encourage this sort of thing..." to which the players responded with howls of laughter, accusations, hooting, and anecdotes of all the times I had (explicitly or not), encouraged that sort of thing.

And fair enough! Sometimes, it's the GM's job to be a little shoulder devil, reminding a PC that they could cut the rope and let that other PC drop, that they could forget to tell the rest of the group about the loot or the zombie bite, they could inject the wizard drugs directly into their pineal gland, etc. Players rarely take me up on these offers, but a bit of temptation never hurt anyone.

Caterina Gerbasi

Part 5: Bacon, Eggs, and Lashings of Ginger Beer

Lizzy skipped breakfast, for the IC reason of work and possibly the OOC reason of knowing that this was going to end in disaster, and being inside the Copper station with an alibi was far safer than being outside it with Agnes.

Jonty, in what was rapidly becoming his signature move, bared his soul to the group. The PCs made the Tallerand-Agnes connection, and, amusingly, Jonty immediately lost control of the situation. Tom and Haze suggested he act with career-limiting impertinence. Agnes realized her cover was blown and left to warn Prof. Tallerand.

I gently reminded the other players that they hadn't finished their breakfast. OOC, of course, they knew that the smartest course was to sprint after Agnes and prevent her from meeting Prof. Tallerand... but they immediately got the hint that a slight delay would be more interesting. After all, it was wasn't a fair fight, and they'd paid good money for breakfast.

At the college, [A] seemed to have caught some of Agnes' panic, and was genuinely incoherent for a bit. There may have been frothing. The ray of truth spell was improvised, but it seemed like the sort of thing Prof. Tallerand would keep handy. It's illegal, but he's got tenure.

The spell helped both [A] and Agnes get their thoughts in order. The question-and-answer format gave Tallerand a lot of useful, but misleading, facts. Agnes' later conversation with the other PCs while still under the effects of ray of truth was also hilarious

Truth spells also affecting internal monologues is an interesting revelation. Lying to other people is one thing, but lying to yourself? It's a miniature Total Perspective Vortex. Could it be used to treat some types of mental illness? If someone believes they are a terrible person, or General Krumpft, could a ray of truth reveal that they aren't?

Jonty bringing Dr. Hartwell practically to Prof. Earl's door was a miscalculation on his part. I'm not sure if it was a miscommunication between players, or if Jonty wanted backup in case things went awry, but it was very funny. Jonty did a superb job of bluffing and evading.

Part 6: Cue The Music

When Agnes realized the group wasn't going to kill Dr. Hartwell, she was genuinely (in character) surprised. It seemed so obvious. Oh well, she'd have to do it herself.

The other PCs also realized, in character, that Agnes was probably going to kill them all.

I jumped between Agnes and the rest of the group several times over the next few scenes, usually with a time skip, to give plenty of chances for chaos to creep into their schemes.

Visiting Lizzy was an excellent plan, but will probably get her in trouble with her employers at some point. The staff shouldn't be constantly visited by shady characters. The Coppers won't protect people who refuse to name names. Insinuations only annoy them.

Lizzy's "cough and fever cure" was an old family recipe she rolled under Int to improvise. With 1gp worth of ingredients, it was, effectively, a mildly dangerous healing potion with multiple doses available.

Agnes' assassin-hiring scheme was uncharacteristically foolish. I'm not sure if [A] was deliberately playing up Agnes' panic and prejudices, or if [A] was slightly rattled by this point. In a Generic Fantasy City, this sort of thing might have worked, but it's not in Endon's genre DNA. 

The combat with the knife-wielding mugger was brief. Agnes' lead-brick-filled handbag can really dish out damage, and [A] rolls crits with surprising frequency. I'm not sure what plan Agnes had for the body. Maybe she wanted to use it to frame Dr. Hartwell. Maybe she wanted Dr. Hartwell to use the corpse to fake his death, as the group had originally suggested. 

It's amusing that Dr. Hartwell's urchin-based informant network was the reason Agnes found him so quickly. Agnes spent silver like it was water. Dr. Hartwell didn't possess her deep pockets.

Part 7: Sudden Violence

The PCs had leveled up at the start of this session. I'd suggested leveling up once per Season, but this initial Season was taking longer than anticipated. With template B, Brawlers gain training in all sports, which Agnes argued included the pole vault and high jump. Fine by me.

"Either you have a plan or I will kill all of you" is an excellent summary of desperate PC logic. I suspect that if the players had really invented a perfect plan, [A] would have a had Agnes go along with it. But the plan they presented was insufficiently convincing. The players had put all their energy into avoiding Agnes, not outwitting Tallerand.

Initially, I ruled that Agnes got a surprise round of combat before Initiatives were rolled. The players quickly pointed out that everyone in the room was either holding a weapon, reaching for a weapon, or anticipating violence. Agnes going into a murderous frenzy "was not in any way surprising," one player said.

With GLOG initiative, each round PCs roll under Wis to act before the monsters. In this case, Agnes was the monster.

Tom beat Agnes' initiative and cast Yakob's ladder, in an attempt to keep Agnes away from the group. The ladder dealt minimal damage to her. 

Dr. Hartwell, without any combat spells and with a Dex of 5 (and very few HP), ran for help.

Haze cast light, which blinded Agnes. -4 to Attack for 6 rounds probably saved everyone's life several times over.

Agnes used the Brawler ability Flurry of Blows to attack all adjacent enemies. She did 10 damage to Cheetham, killing the 1 HP orphan instantly, dropped Haze to very low HP, and did a bit of damage to either Tom or Jonty.

Jonty critically failed his roll to attack with the smart chain. I invented the anti-strangulation protocol on the spot. It seemed appropriate. I did like Jonty's plan, but sometimes, the tools just refuse to cooperate. I also feared the smart chain would become an infallible murder weapon.

On the next round, Haze went first. He had a syringe and a vial of opium in a quickdraw slot, so I let him make an Attack roll against Agnes (with a +4 for her blindness). Hit, and a failed Con roll later, and Agnes would start taking penalties on subsequent rounds (since I ruled that opium would take 1 round to kick in) leading eventually to catatonia and possibly a Save against death.

Unfortunately, Haze took a savage critical hit to the head. With 24 Fatal Wounds to clear in 3 rounds, he was (effectively) dead as meatloaf.

Tom tried to grapple Agnes and tie her up. Jonty, acting next, had other plans for the rope, and started strangling. He had to beat Agnes' Strength each round, but that wasn't much of an issue, as the opium would start to kick in.

With the penalties adding up, Agnes didn't land any other attacks, and Jonty didn't have any trouble inflicting damage. And that was the end of Agnes.

Tom tried to cast clear with 3 dice (2 from his pool and 1 from Haze's splattered brain matter. Haze had died with 1 MD still in his brain, and I allowed Tom to "borrow" it, considering the circumstances). It wasn't quite enough. At the end of the 3 round period, Haze had 4 Fatal Wounds left.

Part 8: Alibibies

The players had been so focused on surviving Agnes' wrath that they hadn't really planned for the aftermath. 

Their story was, on the face of it, unbelievable. The Coppers clearly didn't buy the initial tale, especially as the PCs were clearly trying to evade some lines of inquiry.

Jonty was ambitious enough to try and negotiate with the Thaumaturgic Detectives, the scrying-based police, directly. His scheme failed when he realized he couldn't name Tallerand without putting his life and his career in danger. 

The interrogations were fun to run, but I also didn't want to spend too much time on them. From the Coppers point of view, something very nasty and probably magical is afoot. The people involved are people of quality (even if some of them appear to have fallen on hard times). Traditional Coppers would like to see the whole case needs kicked up the ladder, possibly to the Minister of Justice, and kept out of the papers. The Deekers see it as a chance to prove their worth. They released Jonty and the others to follow them with remote scrying.

Meanwhile, the Coppers have found the body in the orphanage. Agnes was indiscreet enough to leave a paper trail implicating Prof. Tallerand. Her will is also very suspicious, but we'll deal with that next session. 

The PCs, through their utterly confused plot, have avoided a swift murder trial and hanging. The Coppers like simple cases. Nothing about this case is simple. It does not fit any established pattern. It's too lurid for the Penny Dreadfuls.

This is just about the worst possible result for Prof. Tallerand and his project, and he will act accordingly. The PCs could reveal his involvement to the Coppers, and Tallerand may assume they already have. At least Cheetham is dead (again) and with him, clear evidence of necromancy.

Final Notes

  • Without spare character sheets, [A] and [H] had to wait to roll up new characters, though some concepts and class choices were aired.
  • Everyone got a lot of spotlight time in Session 4. Everyone contributed in their own way.
  • As usual, rolls and mechanics are less important than the choices players make.


  1. A thorough frog-dissection, but an interesting one. And yes, sometimes the shape of things snaps together all of a sudden, to the surprise of yourself most of all. Never let 'em see you sweat.