Let's Meet Tonight's Cast of Characters
Oberst Maximillian Loeb - The soldier
Gertrude "Gerty" Hoffman - The archeologist
Gerulf Fuß - The veteran
Dr. Klaus Heidelberg - The doctor
Yu Wong - The occultist
20 German Soldiers uner Oberst Loeb's command
The Exarch, Reinhardt Weissler
His two Die Toten bodyguards
Albrecht Lohmann, Prior of the Black Sun
Two Norn Dreamers
Astrid Urner, Prior of the Black Sun
20 Fanatical Black Sun Infantry, broken up into five groups of four, two of which are machine gun nests
Four members of the Fraternity of the Inner Light (basically specced out as more competent Norn)
The Fab Four
As the players started trickling in for the evening, I took the opportunity to play out what was going on with Yu Wang. As mentioned previously, Yu took a side track which lead him into four men in red robes sporting parkas with British flag patches.
As Yu gets closer, he notices they are wearing gold crests and sees their eyes are closed. The crest depicts a grail and a rose-wrapped cross set against a tower on a hill. Yu notices the men, despite standing, appear to be in REM sleep.
As he debates whether to kill the four Allies or not, a distinctly British voice enters his head: "I say, ol' chap, are you here to help or hamper the ritual?"
Yu ponders for a moment considering the intent of his mission, "hinder."
"Care to join us?"
"Then close your eyes..."
Yu does as instructed and awakes in a mirror world lit by the dark rays of the Black Sun. Four Brits stand next to him, their red robes bright against the grey of the Dreamlands. (And sanity check, please!)
At this point, I handed Yu's player the stat card for the Fraternity of the Inner Light, told him they are his to control, and they would act on his turn.
A Message from Our Sponsors...
For this massive conflict, I decided to use the Balsera Initiative System, as we had been doing up to this point.
As you'll see in the recap below, with this many participants, it's hard to remember all that happened. In hindsight, it may have been easier to use a round robin initiative.
Balsera Initiative System -
A method of determining the order characters act during a game round in which the obvious character to go first does indeed start the conflict, that player then selects the next character to go, that player selects the next, and so on until every character has had a chance to act. Whoever went last chooses who goes first next round – which can be themselves.
It is my understanding that Leonard Balsera came up with the system, shared it with Fred Hicks, who then passed it on to Margaret Weis Productions for use in their Marvel Heroic Role Playing Game. I am not calling anyone out, just giving credit where credit's due. If I am wrong, please correct me.
With all the players present, it was time to get the final big conflict rolling.
Heeding Gerty's warning that they had less than a minute to disrupt the ritual, Oberst Loeb commands his first squad to setup the mortar and begin firing on the stone circle in the middle of the caldera. He then sends two squads each to assault both ends of the line of Black Sun soldiers guarding the opening of the caldera.
The Fraternity of the Inner Light, seeing Loeb's ghost squads walking into the arc of a machine gun nest, whispers in the gunners' ears, "LEAVE." One of the gunners gets up and walks out of the caldera, sliding into the Arctic Sea.
Pretty much everybody holds back waiting for the mortar strikes. The first shell goes wide, causing most occupants of the area to hit the dirt rather than suffer casualties.
Both sides of infantry continue to whittle each other down, but Loeb's groups want to win more.
Albrecht Lohmann sends two of his Canons to deal with Loeb's two groups on the left side — black flame shooting forth from their hands as the are granted the Blessing of the Black Sun.
Gerulf is not pleased with that display so he charges in, knife in one hand, pistol in the other. He slashes the first Canon with reckless abandon, downing him.
Dr. Heidelberg takes a few aimed shots at the machine gun nests, helping out the Fraternity of the Inner Light as they whisper the gunners into unintentional suicide.
Yu continues stabbing at the Norn. This does not stop them from using whispers of their own to convince one of the mortar team to pull a gun on the rest. Oberst Loeb commands him to stand down. In a haze of doubt, he does.
The second mortar round goes off, inflicting casualties on both sides.
Impatient, Gerty runs in and heads straight for the summoning circle. Astrid Urner steps in front of her, warning her that she cannot stop the ritual, but that she will also not kill Gerty out of respect for Mina Wolff.
Gerty shoots at the old woman who is surprisingly spry and gets out of the path of the bullet. Astrid counters by knocking the pistol out of Gerty's hand with her Black Steel cane.
The Canon near Gerulf takes a step back and casts Wither Limb. Gerulf's knife arm desiccates and shrivels before his very eyes.
Gerty rushes towards the circle of Novices and, out of desperation, strangles one of them. As she moves on to the next, one of Die Toten step up, slashing her gravely.
The Norn Dreamers successfully convince one of the mortar team to shoot another, killing him. Yu fells one of the Norn, its partner turns on him.
With the Black Sun infantry suffering huge losses, the Fraternity of the Inner Light moves on to the Novices, convincing them that the words they are chanting make no sense, and they are left stuttering and confused.
Gerulf sidesteps another gout of black flame from the Canon, and responds handily with his good arm.
Astrid Urner, seeing a couple of the Novices drop out of the chant, steps in and picks up where they left off. Unfortunately, it's not enough to stop the two-pronged attack of the whispering Fraternity and a strangling Gerty.
The ritual is stopped with mere seconds to spare – the sound of thunder in reverse as the tear between worlds seals.
Reinhardt Weissler, wakes from the chant, sees that he's outnumbered and defeated, and pops out of existence, his Book of Eibon dropping into the snow.
Was There a Plan B?
There's a lot of 'ifs' here, but if the ritual did go off as planned and Yog-Shoggoth was released into the waking world, Astrid Urner has a spell to send it back. IF Gerty hadn't gone off on the old gal and IF they had come to an understanding, Astrid may have been able to see the errors of her ways and cast the spell – IF the rest of the team could keep Yog-Shoggoth off of her while she was casting, IF they didn't lose their sanity first.
There's some joke about trying to get the genie back into the bottle that applies here...
Oberst Maximillian Loeb
Oberst Loeb arrests Albrecht Lohmann and Astrid Urner for committing treason against the German Fatherland. The remaining Black Sun members are executed on site and dumped into the Arctic Ocean. Maximillian still does not believe that the occult exists.
Gertrude (Gerty) Hoffman
Gerty continues her study of all things archaeozoological, adding the study of the occult to the mix. She regularly visits Astrid Urner in prison to further that goal.
Gerulf regains full use of his arm. He goes into retirement for a second time. For the last time.
Dr. Klaus Heidelberg
With the assistance of the Fraternity of the Inner Light, Dr. Heidelberg captures a Norn and made it permanently dream. He continues studying its brain tissue for as long as it will survive.
Yu, realizing there are better teachers than what the Ahnenerbe can provide, convinces the four members of the Fraternity of the Inner Light to take him under their wing.
Astrid receives visits from Gertrude Hoffman almost daily. Although they still carry animosity towards each other, she sees a kindred spirit.
Rots in a German prison.
The Exarch, Reinhardt Weissler
Nobody has seen Weissler since the events on Jan Maynen. There are a number of rumors that he returned to the Dreamlands and Nyarlathotep has resumed whispering in his ear. There are an equal number of rumors that Nyarlathotep has consumed him.
Gerulf walks up to the railing of the ship during the trip back to France, Weissler's Book of Eibon under his good arm. The first moonlight in eight days glints off the water. Without a thought, he tosses the book over the railing and walks away. As he turns, a single slick tentacle, slips out of the water, slides around the book, and pulls it to the depths.