Another campaign session – number four, if you’re keeping score. It’s two weeks old, and I still have to summarize session five, because session six is upon us.
I really need a name for the campaign, so I can put it in a seperate blog category. I’m thinking “A Better World” or maybe just “Another World”. Because “Ozymandias” was taken…
At the lighthouse
- Baker examines the body of the lighthouse keeper, Trevor St. Cuthbert. He finds a small key on a curious piece of shell/fossil.
- Checking up on St. Cuthbert in the ETIA database, he learns that the man was aboard a ship that encountered an Unidentified Marine Object at sea, shortly after WW2. The ship reported seeing strange lights at night while crossing the Atlantic; the source of the lights was an unidentified object, round, which drew close to the ship, and sharks or dolphins were spotted around it. Some of the crew members reported incidents of missing time.
- Searching the house, they find in the bedroom a safe that can be unlocked by the key. The safe contains an old pistol and an old diary with 3 photographs: these were apparently taken during the very same ship voyage when St. Cuthbert’s crew-members saw the UMO. The first photo, taken in a British harbor, shows crew-members; the second, taken at sea and at night, is apparently (poor) photographic evidence of the UMO encounter; the third shows the crew-members and a young (14?) lad with an intense expression in a borrowed coat, which is perhaps referred to in the text of the diary as “our little stowaway”.
- Meanwhile, Jack is leafing through the book, studying the text and pictures (which all look fantastical, of no clear historical period), trying to download the solve from the Matrix into his cranium by sheer Bo stubbornness. He notices that the Knights have re-appeared in the illustration, and Dominique and her party are gone.
- By powerful concentration and a roll of the die, Jack stumbles upon some pronunciation, says a magic word (which I have written down at home) and WHAM (or some other suitable sound-effect; this is Bo’s department), they find themselves IN THE PICTURE IN THE BOOK.
In the city of Dis, and beyond.
- They show up in the book, on a city street in front of a grand mansion, surrounded by the Knights. The air smells strange, dry and lemony, and their surroundings are quite exotic and odd. From the doorway of the mansion descends a beautiful woman in an archaic dress, commands the knights to stand back, and invites Slade, McDonald and Baker into the mansion. She speaks to the Knights in a different voice than she speaks to the visitors – they understand that she is speaking to them telepathically.
- In the inner courtyard, by the fountain, introductions are made. The woman introduces herself as Carmilla of House Sapphire, and tells them they are in the city of Dis. When Jack asks what year it is, she tells him it is the year 30,425 to the reign of the first emperor. The people they are looking for (Dominique and co.)? Yes, they passed here before, they went through the Sapphire Gate.
- Inside the mansion is a vast central hall, where the PCs are offered strange refreshments, and see many people. At the far end of the hall is a huge triangular door of solid crystal: the Sapphire Door (or gate, I forget). Many have gone into the Sapphire Door, Carmilla tells them, but none have returned.
- Slade puts his hand on the door and tries to read its mind. Really. Israel will explain the Chi-ripple technobabble behind this. The door responds to touch with ripples of building heat, and Slade has visions of exotic and fantastic vistas. And then, the door pulses and he vanishes. Jack and Douglas touch the door and vanish too.
The desert of Daath
- They find themselves on the slope of a dune in what looks like a Martian desert. The air still smells strange and dry. 10 meters behind them is another almost identical crystal gate; above is a giant airship, lit up with bright beams shining down through the dusty gloom, like a cigar of delicate metal fretwork.
- From the airship descend two flat, diamond-shaped platforms, sort of flying carpets. Their crews greet them. They are not human, but rather gray-skinned, with bird-like faces and yellow eyes, and with 3 arms – a pair and a smaller arm nestled in the crock of the right one. However, they don’t appear to react to the newcomers’ being human – they just note that they wear strange clothes. The airshipmen tell them they are on another world, and that the planet is not inhabited – they live in orbit, or on a moon (not sure which it was). This place is called Daath, the aliens tell them.
The city that is Thaer
- After some talk, they head towards the gate behind them, and find themselves back in the streets of Dis – or rather, on what looks like a different version of it, more alien in architecture and inhabited not by humans, but by the same birdlike beings they met in the desert. Again, asking about Dominique and her cohorts, they are directed to a large structure, an amphitheatre enclosing a large open space, with what appears to be a larger version of Stonehenge in the center – except that the megaliths are actually gates.
- Questioning a beggar, they are directed to one of two possible doors (the beggar can’t direct them to a specific one). They pick one, and step through it.
- They find themselves in a space that is all milky white, and they seem to move in slow motion. At the far end of this space, they see another doorway, and the condensation imprint of a woman’s hourglass figure still lingering on the gates’ surface. They move towards it, slowed down, as if swimming.
Back in New York City
- And they find themselves in a bookstore, between two aisles, standing right above an open copy of The Black Book of the Silver City. Looking about, it seems a regular bookstore, with a bored girl with facial piercings manning the cash register. Outside, it’s night – around 4 AM – and they are back in New York (Manhattan; but is there any other part of New York City in our games?).
- Jack takes the book to the register. They ask the attendant if she’s seen Dominique and her crew. The girl vaguely recalls a very beautiful woman matching the description and some others passing through a couple of hours ago. Jack asks to buy the book. When she enters its details into the inventory computer though, she says it should be in the restricted section, and that she has to consult the manager (owner) before she can sell it.
- So they head out, Baker makes a call to the FBI/Police and puts out an APB on Dominique Davreux and her associates. Jack heads back to McDonalds, exchanges a few words with his old buddy Ivan, and then notices Alex sitting on the bar. Alex is tired, so they head back to Slade’s hotel – he gets another, (larger?) room there – and they crash, resting for the night.
- Baker, less tired, checks surveillance cameras in the street near the bookstore, and discovers that a car (registered to one of Davreux’s companies) stopped outside the bookstore, and Dominique and Wang got out of it, went into the bookstore, and came back a few minutes later.
- With this new information, they decide to head back to the bookstore, and check things out. Slade uses his chi-power for Psychometry, and sees ghost-images of Dominique and Wang walking into the store, finding a specific book in the aisle, taking it and replacing it with another, then leaving – once outside, their chi-traces mingle with the noise of the city and vanish.
- Jack tries to get the shop owner to sell him the book once more. The shop owner, bemused, says that this isn’t even his book; his shop has the cheaper and less prestigious trade paperback edition of the Black Book of the Silver City, while this is a rare collector’s edition. Baker checks online databases and registries and discovers that this might be a copy of the book purchased by a Mr. Perry Niemand in an Edinburgh auction a few years ago. These are apparently the only known copies of the book in private hands in the Eastern United States. And the store’s copy was taken by Dominque.
- Jack uses time-paradox-creating bullshit and player-fiat to invoke a fake ID, and tells the cashier that it’s his book, that he’s Perry Niemand. But Bo fails his roll, and behind him, someone says “I thought I was Perry Niemand”.
- Mr. Niemand takes his book and takes Slade, McDonald and Baker out for breakfast (at a place where McDonald can get a steak to compensate for the one he had to abandon in Boca Raton).
- OK, I tell a lie; I completely skipped the bit in the bookstore where, after brief introductions, the PCs (can I just call them the damn party?) try to find out if Niemand is aware of the book’s nature, and Jack says the magic word
Yahaworakg!while in his presence, transporting himself, Slade, Baker and Niemand to the city of Dis – and making the black knights appear in the middle of the bookstore. I am ignoring it because he undid it as soon as he realized what this caused. So maybe if I pretend it never happened, everyone will agree with me.
- ANYWAY, they go to eat breakfast with Niemand. And Niemand exposits about the Black Book of the Silver City. See, there were these aliens – what we’ve heard Malamud call
The Blues– who had psionic technology, who could alter reality with thought. But they wandered and were stranded far away from home, on a backwater world called Earth. Nobody knows when this happened, or what the circumstances were, because the aliens soon found themselves using their powers to re-write reality, first as part of fighting with other aliens (“the Greens”), and second as a way to ensure the continuation of their race: they altered reality to make themselves human, so that they could interbreed with the inhabitants of the planet where they were trapped. For the survival of their race, they unmade it.
But something survived: the Black Book, an attempt to preserve, or perhaps more truely to reconstruct, the reality of the “Silver City” that was lost.
- Niemand exchanges cards with Slade (Mr. Business Card Man), and wanders off, leaving the PCs to digest. It is sort-of agreed that Baker will head back to Boca Raton, to retrieve the book from Trevor St. Cuthbert’s lighthouse, and in general handle the paperwork there. Slade wants to check on Davreux, who might know something about Dominique’s plan or whereabouts.
So, Slade, Jack and Alex (dozing in the back seat) drive back up country to the Indian settlement where Slade deposited Davreux in the hands of his two Earth-friend buddies. But as they get there, they see a figure stumble out of the mist; it’s the wife of one of Slade’s friends, she’s got a shocked expression on her face, and she mutters
They’re all dead.
And we cut.
And now for my favorite segment, character liknesses (aka, trolling the internet for hours to make my characters look bad). There are Winston Slade and Douglas Baker (from Planetary: Crossing Worlds), Tilda Swinton as Carmilla of House Sapphire (to get a better image, I probably need to resort to Photoshop; I pictured a long, loose dress, and a more elaborate hairdo. Use your imagination, it’s better.
And last is Dominique Davreux (this should probably go into next session’s summary): I didn’t find any good pictures to use from Doberman, but I like this one.