The New World

Session 62

Session 62“Hello, Mister Johnson !”Tuesday 3rd April 2012 – by Frithhill, Modus and ShaunFreney

Elapsed time – 652 days real time, 482 days game-time (2nd December 1603 ?)

Location – approaching the Sea of Cipangu

Objective – to secure the intercession of an (aforementioned) Cantonese warlord and a Cathayan Imperial bureaucrat by taking on the role of nemesis to another pirate warlord (the aforementioned South China Sea pirate, see comments page of Session 61). Maybe to raise some capital. That would be delightful.

JOURNAL ENTRYCATHAY. DAY 12. I, after some questioning, am relieved to find out there is no hostage being kept in the galley. However I am still befuddled as to what the meaning of the notes, and their cryptic messages, that I consistently find in my biscuits.” Melchior Augustus Browne

“Zis foreign tobacco is rather strange, no? Pierre is offered local pipeweed, sees colours vivant and wakes up with pants on, boots unstolen and not facedown in gutter. Truly, zis Cathay place is full of wonder. Pretty cups and plates, too.”

(“Mister Johnson”; or the man who has a lucrative job he wants done, and ensures that there is no visible connection between the commissioning party, appearing in this instance as regional administrator Grand Secretary Xiao Gubai, through his military lieutenant General Qi who in turn speaks through his interpreter Li Kiao) and the contractors. To the extent that Wokou can distinguish between Pertuese regulars and Montaignaise mercenaries, the arrival of inexorable aggression will be baffling. The price ?, political protection and the promise of a fifth of the value of any seized ships, persons and goods.

The regular officers of le Dauphin have been brought to the view that though their orders give no provision for such a measure, the consequences of the withdrawal of patronage would implicitly leave them to deal with the Pertuese unsupported. Also there is an assurance that the Nihonese pirates will be badly overmatched by a well-armed, freshly outfitted, abundantly manned Europan ship in good condition and repair. It therefore seems like good policy, while consideration is given to the long voyage back to Europa (without the benefit of charts and such-like).

Pierre Le Schtroumpf has boldly gone where none of the rest of us would go. To an opium den. The fact that he awoke to find that he wasn’t breathing carotid/jugular blood and harbour water may be sufficient to instill in him a belief in a benevolent God

Thomas Rede threw a few more cogs when his horses weren’t where he left them.

Melchior Browne set to learning the rudiments of the local dialect, manners and customs. Boy, is he going to be crestfallen to learnt that Cathay is large, large enough to have millions of people speaking a minority language, and culturally distinct from the other parts of an empire of an unthinkable vastness. It’s a different world, than where you came from.

Vittorio Tornatore and Guy des Chiens, made hay while the sun is shining, availing themselves of hospitality, the pick of their favourite vices, and keen new raiment and cobblery.)

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Session 61

Session 61Friday 30th March 2012 – by Frithhill

Elapsed time – 648 days real time, 468 days game-time (18th November 1603?)

In this session the party ashore accomplished a break-out from prison, aided by the depletion of the guard force (undermanned because of the allocation of personnel elsewhere). Going in search of arms, Vittorio Tornatore, Guy des Chiens and Melchior Browne became separated from the fugitive ships officers. Skulking out into the streets, they passed the remainder of the night in a fodder-storage shed behind a stable. In the morning they made their way to the water front, thinking of taking a boat. Events intervened however. On the docks the sight of the similarly besmirched, reeking officers of le Dauphin standing on a pier awaited; prevented from going either forwards or back by a squad of Pertuese soldiery with arquebuses levelled ahead of them and by a band of Cathayans in martial dress behind.

Meanwhile aboard le Dauphin, the common sailors and soldiery while away hours of enforced leisure, watched over by an entirely adequate detachment. Thomas has been making enquiries, so as to be sure of the lay of the land. He finds the Montaignaise lacking anything resembling pride, initiative and fighting spirit. Pierre has been making trouble. Rather than creating ill-feeling between the thus-far very restrained Pertuese captors and their Montaignaise captives, he has been obliged to help a sailor “escape”, heaving the mans insensible body out through a gunport into the bay, where it was shot through by sentries on the castles.

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Session 60

Session 60That’s another fine mess….Friday 23rd March 2012 – by Frithhill and Modus

Elapsed time 641 days real time, 467 days game-time (17th November 1603 ?)

“As the ancient scholars say; give me a lever big enough and a place to stand, and I shall encourage some sell-sword to bludgeon a guard with it while I make my exit….or words to that effect.” Melchior Augustus Browne.

At the end of Session 60, a divided party is engaged in a desperate struggle to escape another unavoidable loss of their liberty. Vittorio Tornatore, Melchior Browne and Guy des Chiens, together with the officers of le Dauphin are attempting a blitz-out from a stinking tiger cage. Meanwhile Thomas Rede and Pierre Le Schtroumpf are considering how to extricate their comrades, themselves and ideally their goods from custody of a Pertuese colonial outpost jealous of it’s monopoly on an exotic trade.

How did the picaroons come to be there ? Presperino’s meddling in the affairs of others continue. A thoughful man might conclude that the die was cast when le Dauphin blundered into the orbit of his island. At this point it and all who sailed in it ceased to be in the well travelled waters of the Montaignaise coast. As it drifted gradually out of the fog (or was simply marooned when the island went elsewhere), it found itself still adrift out of sight of land, with no indication of it’s position. When a sailing wind rose, it brought two armed merchantmen under Pertuese colours. Requiring information as to it’s whereabouts, the ship waited passively, accepted a boarding party without demure and compliantly fell in with the hostile vessels, under escort.

Upon arrival at a strange port (Mao Kei), a force of forty were left aboard to watch over the ratings, and the officers* and better dressed super-numeraries were put into boats and borne directly into the fortress. There, all nine were without preamble or conversation obliged to jump down into a broad fifteen foot deep circular pit, covered with a steel grate, and floored with a an ankle deep layer of accumulated filth. Several prisoners (all Cathayans) were already lodged there. During the uncomfortable day, with the sun streaming down on them, one of these prisoners was hauled up out of the pit, and unknown (though not unheard) horrors were inflicted on him. He was not returned to the pit afterwards. By night with the miasma of decomposing faeces, urine, vomitus, sweat, saliva, mucus, lacrimose fluid and blood still rising up from their feet an attempt at a breakout was made.

Left at the point at which Vittorio and Guy have rushed and murdered the two sentries watching over the pit, hearing the approach of more on the wall top, Melchior and the officers remain in the pit. Will the officers participate in the attempt ? What will the indigenous inmates do ? Same Murder-hobo time, same Murder-hobo channel.

  • The Captain of the le Dauphin, who may in fact be a vice-admiral since it is probably a flagship, five senior officers (a lieutenant deputised to charge of sails, a lieutenant in subordinate charge of navigation, the ships surgeon, a fourth lieutenant (probably in charge of discipline and the order of the crew, a Provost in effect) and the Captain of Marines) together with Vittorio Tornatore, Melchior Browne and Guy des Chiens. There may be one person of gentle rank left aboard as part of the ships ordinary complement, the Chaplain.
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Session 59

Session 59Tuesday 21st February 2012 – by Frithhill and Modus

Elapsed time – 610 days real time, 460 days game-time (10th November 1603 ?)

Location – Watching a perambulatory island evanesce in the equivalent of the Bay of Biscay, near Port Rennier.

Goal – To leave a very grand ship and slip away, hopefully outmanouvering our Chasseur Gris shadow.

“And now we are bound to find out if Cathay is real” – Tho. Rede

“Didn’t I play you, once, upon the stage ?” – Melchior Augustus Browne (to Presperino)

(This session was principally dedicated to book-keeping. There were six weeks of fast time to fill. This afforded the opportunity to spend accumulated points and money, of which there have been a generous amount of late. Melchior Browne used the time to evaluate the the Library, remaining sequestered in the bolt-hole. Thomas Rede took his horses from the Cardinals compound to a public execution ground in the East Bank daily, by a different route each time. He luncheoned every day on street food (from a different place each time), and dined in taverns nightly (also at a different one each time). His days were spent training cart-horses up to the standard of war-horses. Guy des Chiens sorted out his device with the heralds. Vittorio Tornatore consumed a lake of expensive spirits, and another lake of expensive wine. Pierre Le Schtroumpf went shopping, and now goes about weighed down with pistols, and in better clothes. He may also have consumed a lake or two of indifferent liquor and wine.

On All Hallows Eve there was a banquet at the Hotel Vernier. The picaroons were fêted and lionized, in anticipation of their feats of valour in the New World. Of course they know that they are going in entirely the opposite direction. On All Saints Day 1603, with the autumn gathering in, they embarked themselves, all their goods and animals. A week and a half later, on the Ocean Sea coast of Southern Montaigne, near Port Rennier a mist rose from the face of the sea. In the mist, an island appeared. The Grand Nef, le Dauphin was hove to, and a boat launched, carrying Vittorio, Melchior, Guy, Pierre (and a detail of sailors to row). Thomas remained behind, seized by a superstitious dread (and a bit of a jungle flashback).

On that isle, Presperino’s Isle, the concrete results were Pierre sneaking four sniffters of liquor and a knowledge that Presperino (or rather his creature, Ariel) framed Melchior up like a picture. Melchior took this news pretty well. Oh, and we learnt that the wizard is as reliable as a stopped watch. It is usefully informative about one one thousand eight hundredth of the time. He already knew that the Jaw was in Central Asia or East Asia and who has it. It might have saved some time and, you know, Death, if he had said that a year earlier (qv. Session 18 corresponding to 12th November 1602). Presperino may be a bit of a jerk.)

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Session 58

Session 58“For a stack of doors …”Thursday 16th February 2012 – by Frithhill

Elapsed time – 605 days real time, 409 days game time (20th September 1603 ?)

Location – A bolt-hole in one of the less salubrious parts of Sainte-Gènèvieve

Goal – To escape from the clutches of Cardinal Rou-Demere, after gaining possession of a clue to the whereabouts of the jaw of the Crystal Skull.

(In this session the picaroons followed the smear of blood, marking the path along which Guy des Chiens had been dragged. This led to a trapdoor covered by a manhole, an earthen tunnel and supine object with feet (and a bushy beard). Someone was stabbed in the the face. and something else was stabbed in it’s stabbing arm. Meanwhile a portcullis had risen blocking the way back. The only ways forward were a descending shaft leading to a flooded level and a passage leading to a trapped hallway. We knew this because because of the skeleton with it’s torso pulverised to bone-flour between out-flung limbs where it had sprawled facedown; a rod of eldritchness near one of it’s bony hands.

Melchior Browne magicked the prize to him and everyone set about working how the trap works. Pierre Le Schtroumpf scrambled up over the first dropping-block-on-a-chain, ducked under the second as it retracted on it’s chain while the line of six blocks was reseting and scampered along the rest of the gallery to a fourth thievable door. Unlocked, it opened to reveal the mess of an abandoned library.

After this it was just a question of relaying the books and papers out and in classic dungeoneering style, stealing all the doors. They can be sold on, and are useful for stretchering out deeply comatose twenty-two stone comrades (and paletting out about twelve stones worth of irreplaceable esoteric and eclectic knowledge). The library was stashed away at the parties bolt-hole.

Loot – A formidable pad-lock, a stack of doors, a barrel of drugged beer, a rod with a fifty point power stone and a library of a most particular character. Also the landlord’s keys (it helps if you have the keys to the locks), his pistol, powder-horn and shot. Dungeon vanquished.

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Session 57

Session 57“And then the CHUDs came …”Tuesday 7th February 2012 – by Frithhill and Modus

Elapsed time – 597 days real time, 409 days game-time (20th September 1603 ?)

Location – Two flights down in the cellars below the ruin of house of a prominent alchemist, in Sainte-Gènèvieve.

Goal – To find the books which used to be in a library used by The Invisible College. It is presumed that information about the mandible (jaw-bone) of the Crystal Skull might be found there.

“This catacomb is truly a place of Bedlam, lacking both rhyme and reason. Each assault is as much on our senses as it is on our corporeal forms. What is the next absurdity? Some sort of aardvark with a windmill for a nose ?!?” Melchior Augustus Browne

Though repelled, the first determined assault by the rat-things followed the incapacitation of Guy des Chiens. A series of traps have weakened the picaroons.

Melchior Browne, the sole character with any skill with physick, is in need of medical aid himself. And Guy des Chiens, the only one who knows anything about traps has been felled by a falling block trap. He has also been dragged away somewhere. It is a highly permeable environment in which it impossible to interdict the approaches or control the oppositions mobility.

Vittorio Tornatore is hurt and so is Pierre Le Schtroumpf. Pierre has been on fire. Only Thomas Rede remains obdurate as a granite monolith, at this point. I (Frithhill) could feel the block-dropper coming. It would have levelled either of the heavies and came down on Crowtribes head. I am inclined to expect an acid sprayer or splasher next.

It is a good thing that there are doors we will probably want to steal on the way out. They will serve as stretchers to carry out the non-walking wounded, if there are enough people left to carry both ends. Success is looking improbable, but another of the three desirable doors might be useful to haul away whatever books are found.

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Session 56

Session 56“Comin’ out of the stonework”Wednesday 1st February 2012 by Frithhill, Modus, LiamDunwichHorror and Crowtribe

Elapsed time 591 days real time, 409 days game-time (20th September 1603 ?)

Location – Two flights down in the cellars below the ruin of house of a prominent alchemist, in Sainte-Gènèvieve.

“Rats….why did it have to be rats.” Vittorio Tornatore.

“Ugh, grande malade rats!” Guy de chiens.

It’s like Whack-A-Mole, except that there are rat-like men or man-like rats instead of moles. Six murder-holes were stuffed, but the lower down the picaroons go, the more the walls are honeycombed with narrow tunnels. Too narrow for a normal-sized man to crawl down, perhaps a child could, but perfect for something perhaps two or three feet long without reckoning the tail and a foot high at the shoulder. Whittling damage (from shots from the dark and traps) is beginning to accumulate.

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Interlude

InterludeEighteen months into the campaign – by Frithhill, Modus, Crowtribe, LiamDunwichHorror and ShaunFreney

For over a year, the now rather exhausted remnants of a company, still actuated by a stung sense of pride, goaded by the reproof of one pirate (dead for most of that year) purpose the destruction of another pirate.

They have crossed and recrossed the world and yet in Session 14, they were waiting aboard his ship, after extirpating the skeleton watch, with guns charged behind the gun ports, ready for its masters return. Had they been able to endure, the only welcome he would have received as he returned in his boats would have been volleys from his own guns. In those days they even had artillerymen among their number. Attrition intervened however, a bare sufficiency of sailors to limp back were left.

Red Jack Stravros is now a warlord, with an army at his back. His would-be nemeses are a handful of vagabonds who lie, steal and murder in quest of the means to encompass his destruction. Most of those disadvantaged by this vendetta have nothing to do with its ultimate subject.

They have been bad guests twice and have become mired in other peoples troubles four times.

The cast now consists of :-

Thomas “I heard they armoured a haystack” Rede. Circumstances now find him a withdrawn, hyper-vigilant, near insomniac post traumatic stress disorder sufferer. Prone to extremities out of any proportion with those generally admitted by civic society.

Vittorio “You did not see my hand move, and yet you bleed” Tornatore. He dwells now in the border region between functioning and non-functioning alcoholism, languid almost to the point of lassitude except when he unbends to launch into a stabbing frenzy or to introduce himself to a lady.

Melchior “You see my hands move, and yet nothing has happened. Or has it ?” Browne.

Guy des Chiens

Pierre le Schtroumpf

Some Alumni :-

Marcus Mordecai: Though only a part of the company for a short time he was suave and intriguing, in fact the benchmark against any future intriguer must be measured. But he was hoisted on his own petard in Londinium.

N’batu; “Hyoik, and your manhood is gone” from Ifriquia: A tour de force, shockingly cut down by poison on the Rio Esmeralda, and sent to the bottom to allow the river mud cover him over.

Morgan deBrut: Neither gone nor forgotten, still presumably grifting.

Vincent Walker: Followed his obsessions all the way to their natural conclusion. He ended as a puzzling meal for sacred Jaguars, who used to a diet of scented, round-limbed virgins, must have found ragged old necromancer a disagreeable repast.

Brem O’Gellwyn: Gloriously dead and strikingly buried. He died as he would have liked, asphyxiated under a pile of nubile maidens. No, in truth bitten in half by a dragon, the other half interred beneath a cairn on top of a piece of scenery of the type rock musicians used to ride in helicopters to (along with their Marshall stacks), in order to shoot their music videos.

Alejandro “We don’t need no steenking pantalonés” Juarez. The most personable savage you could ever hope to meet. Some day, somewhere in the New World, either he or Mistress Nightshade may hove into view. Only one of these two would be shot down on sight.

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Session 55

Session 55“We be ’crawling, they be hating”Tuesday 17th January 2012 – by Modus and Frithhill

Elapsed time – 577 days real time, 409 days game-time (20th September 1603?)

Location – One flight down in the cellars below the ruin of house of a prominent alchemist, in Sainte-Gènèvieve.

“One can not but be shaken by the rapidly percolating conclusion, that if one was to tear open the workings of the universe and gaze upon the mechanism cast by the eternal voices, that the monads are apparently ten foot by yet ten again.” Melchior Augustus Browne

(In this session, the picaroons went to the the cellar of the ruin of a house, wherein there is a drinking hell, in order to spy out the lay of the land there. It proved to be a pernicious clip-joint. Melchior Browne and Pierre Le Schtroumpf were extricated from their peril there, after Melchior realized that he had been drugged. Two days later, with preparations made, the whole band returned, drove away the bully-boys watching over it, cleared the room with ammonia fumes, and set about finding all the secret ways. They subdued the top-side like the Russian Tax Police.

At the end, they are stopped, as Vittorio Tornatores head is swaddled in bandages and Thomas Rede ambles after a fleeing Pierre Le Schtroumpf, who has lost his nerve and taken the lamp with him. Also to fetch a quantity of clothing (an accumulation of which from past victims of the iniquitous operators of the improvised tavern was found above) to plug up all the murder-holes. Vittorio had been struck by a sling-bullet which shot out of one of the murder-holes, which are in effect chutes which curve at the end, directing the objects rolled down them.)

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Session 54

Session 54Wednesday 11th January 2012 – By Frithhill and Crowtribe

Elapsed time – 571 days real time, 407 days game time (18th September 1603 ?)

Location – The palace of a Montaignaise Cardinal who doesn’t like us very much.

(In this session, the principle that intoxication does not necessarily enhance the game was amply demonstrated. The picaroons reaped the dubious reward for rescuing a Princess, and the King, her father recognized that a willingness to point themselves away from his face is the ideal disposition for a band of near-brigands, brought into his presence. Meanwhile the group began employing counter-surveilllance measures, since all of them are being tailed, whenever they leave a house in which they are under constant surveillance. This is in aid of the expedient of securing the opportunity to obtain entré into the Library of the Invisible College in Sainte-Gènèvieve unobserved for Melchior Browne.)

In simpler terms: the vagabonds were appropriately rewarded by order of King Brus for their efforts in the rescue (if it can be so called) of his daughter the Princess. Guy des chiens, Vittorio Tornatore and one Johan Johannson (an alias of Thomas Rede’s) were made chevaliers, while Melchior Browne, not wanting to bring attention to himself, chose for other, less material rewards.

Further to his plans, Melchior, some days before the King’s audience, did lead the Cardinal’s appointed tail a merry chase through St. Genevieve’s numerous great stores of knowledge. Guy and Vittorio watched the watchmen (followed the tail) as Pierre investigated a suspected site of Invisible College influence, in the guise of a tour of the East Bank for Vittorio’s benefit.

Next: the troop puts it’s plan in motion to uncover more of the Invisible College’s information on the next section of the Crystal Skull, and “lose” the unwanted attentions of the Cardinal.

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