Friday, March 27, 2015

Achtung! Cthulhu: The Book of Eibon (A Study of the Dead)

When we last left off, our team of investigators had found Gaspard du Nord's burial chamber and were greeted by his undead guardians - Les Morts.

Him Who Casts the First Stone...

I figured the three who approached the sarcophagus, should get a reaction action first. Then the guardians. Followed by the remaining two.

Gerulf immediately picks up a brick and smashes the nearest one in the mouth. The dried flesh scrapes off revealing the jawbone underneath (sanity check).

Gerty looks them over, trying to cross-reference her studies, and identifies their weaknesses (sanity check). This was intended as a Create Advantage action, but I rattled off their resiliences instead, which I could have worded as aspects.

Yu decides his main goal is to obtain their daggers (feeding his obsession for artifacts). I thought there was a rule spelled out in the Fate Keeper's guide for grappling, but I couldn't find it. So we decided to do it as two separate Create Advantages: the first was to leap up on the sarcophagus to create a height advantage, the second to parry the height advantage into a disarm. Yu leaps up on the sarcophagus and creates Height Advantage with one free invoke.

The guardians attack Gerulf and Yu; knives slashing at their winter coats (causing stress - Yu spends his free invocation early to avoid a consequence).

Dr. Heidelberg bolts and runs up the stairs looking for a cross (no sanity check).

Oberst Loeb, heeding Gerty's discovery, hits the nearest Les Morts with the butt of his submachine gun, lining up the shot for Gerulf (tie, gaining a boost, and handing it off to Gerulf - sanity check).

Gerulf hits it square in the chest. He hits it with such force, its arms go wide and it lifts off the floor, looking like a dark angel ascending to heaven. Instead, it hits the back wall, its flesh crumbling to leaves, bones clattering to the floor (sanity check).

Yu continues to spar with the other guardian, trying to disarm it – literally if need be. We both burn up our Fate points (sanity check).

Max runs up to it and caves in its skull in with the butt of the submachine gun (sanity check).

I believe everybody lost a little bit of sanity.

We Finally Meet Gaspard

With some elbow grease and a puff of ancient air, they crack open the sarcophagus. Inside they find the small desiccated form of Gaspard du Nord, clutching the Livre de Eibon to his chest, a bronze disk at his feet. (Since the Book of Eibon is what the PCs have been looking for, I actually put together a short synopsis and modified spell list as another prop.)
Wheels of Eibon - Variations on a theme
I love it when players sketch in-game items.
Dr. Heidelberg does another field dissection and finds nothing unusual, but, despite Oberst Loeb's request, he can't explain Les Morts.

Oberst Loeb radios command to let them know the Book of Eibon has been found and they are on their way to deliver it.

A Colossal Hole in the Story

The team gathers their things and discusses whether to visit the dig site along the river. Initially, the team was considering being thorough. But the safety of the Book of Eibon and the completion of the Mission took precedence. However, Gerulf and Yu demand they at least check it out, so Oberst Loeb agrees to let them do a bit of recon as long as the rest of the team is concealed and ready to make a getaway.

Lapel patches on the German soldiers
They get to the the road leading to excavation site, park in the tree-line, and let Gerulf and Yu sneak through the woods to check it out. The excavation site is about as large as a Fußball (soccer) field. German soldiers wearing interesting lapel patches are ordering around French workers at gunpoint. A much older, stooped version of Gerty seems to be leading the group. They look to be digging up gnarled white tree trunks and loading them onto a flatbed truck. Gerulf realizes they are colossal humanoid bones and immediately decides they need to be destroyed or reburied. He works out a plan with Yu to create a distraction: Yu is to open the valve on a nearby fuel truck and set the fuel ablaze while Gerulf gets to the flatbed carrying the bones. Yu deftly sneaks into position and starts the fuel flowing. Gerolf, on the other hand, alerts a soldier and has to knock him out cold. As they are doing this the old woman excitedly calls for the crew to bring something up to her. From this distance, it appears to be a slab of mud. Yu lights the fuel, hurries over to Gerulf, and is surprised to find out they aren't leaving by the flatbed truck full of giant bones. Rather, Gerulf has turned the wheel and jammed the accelerator sending it into the massive grave. The old woman clambers into a truck and it speeds away. Gerulf and Yu sprint back through the woods to get back to the team.

Oberst Loeb, Dr. Heidelberg, and Gerty hear a massive crash and see a roiling fireball erupt beyond the tree-line. This is followed by a truck tearing out of the woods in the opposite direction and then the two troublemakers. They scramble into the truck, Loeb maneuvers it around, and they give chase just as German soldiers run up to the edge of the road and leave bullet holes in the truck. Sadly, they lose the old woman and her muddy prize.

As they are speeding through the town roads of rural France, they get a call on the radio. Klaus answers and relays the conversation to Oberst Loeb as he frantically tries to find the other truck. They are told that the search for the Book of Eibon was a two-pronged mission, with two groups searching France to increase their odds. Apparently, Ahnenerbe Team U just radioed in to report they had found the Book of Eibon as well. However, apparently they are Black Sun members, they have gone off mission and have decided to keep the book for themselves. Team M (the PCs) are now charged with trying to find them, find out what they want the book for, and stop them. But, why would Team U call in to report they've gone rogue? To gloat?

Unfortunately, they lose the other truck. So Team M drives into Northern France – German occupied territory – find the nearest German military base, appropriate lodging and supplies, and begin studying.

A Little R & R (Reading & Rituals)

I allowed character advancement at this point. Finding the Book of Eibon seemed like a Significant Milestone [reshuffle skills or stunts, +1 skill point, recover severe consequences (there were none)].

Gerty, Dr. Heidelberg, and Yu Wong dove into reading the book, although Dr. Heidelberg waited a week to study the others and take copious notes before reading himself. In order to read the French manuscript, Yu picked up the Polyglot stunt and Dr. Klaus Heidelberg updated his trouble aspect to: I won't let a little thing like morals, conscience, or language get in the way of my pursuit of knowledge.

Despite the rules saying it takes months of study to absorb the dark scribblings, I gave them two weeks, costing a sanity point each week, but gaining the Mythos skill at Average (+1) and a spell for each week studied (i.e. Klaus only learned one spell).

During this time, Loeb pulls his contacts to find out all he can about the Black Sun and their interest in the Book of Eibon. He hears that there is an actual Black Sun and the organization wants to bring it into this world. He still thinks it's all hogwash and fairy tales, but as long as they believe it, they can be dealt with.

Midway through the two weeks, Gerulf barges into the team's study room and gives a drunken monolog about how the occult is not something to be dabbling in and all artifacts should be destroyed. It was fantastic!

Game Notes

As full of information that the Achtung! Cthulhu books are, the organization leaves something to be desired. And the index is of no help. For example, Gerty has the Polyglot stunt, but we couldn't find it again for Yu (it's under Languages, p. 60 of the Fate Investigator's Guide PDF). Also, I thought there was a blurb about grappling, but couldn't find it until I searched the PDF (it's hidden in the Mythos Creatures section, p. 197 of the Fate Keeper's Guide PDF).

Another minor but important note is that the some of the listed stress boxes have numbers attached to them. They are hard to see (especially for older eyes) and easily forgotten. Combat with particular baddies will last a bit longer if the numbers are heeded.

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