April blows up a door; Antonia kills a chair
16th December 2010.
Lady Antonia deVore - a Heavily-armed Aristocrat.
Captain Benson Curruthers - a Military Policeman.
Miss April Sharpe - a Self-taught Inventor.
Jack Prentiss - a Dodgy Pedestrian.
A Bad-tempered Norwegian Sprite.
Assorted Notables and Minions of the Ministry.
It had been a warm, wet winter and it was particularly foggy as the team returned to the Ministry on Christmas Eve. Delayed by the wrap-up for a persistent case, they were anxious to get back into the warmth, where the annual Christmas Dinner was being held. They were somewhat bemused to discover the building dark and locked-up.
Trying the front door, they became aware that it was much colder than the outside air. It was locked. The windows were dark and, on close examination, seemed to be frosted on the inside. Finding the main gates to the yard locked as well, the team ventured to the alley behind the building with the intention of climbing over the wall. The yard itself seemed fine, if quiet, and the horses in the stables were wrapped up warm against the cold. Checking the carriages and other equipment, they uncovered some warm clothing and blankets and, assuming the cold extended throughout the building, undertook appropriate preparations.
The back door was locked, but Prentiss had little difficulty forcing it open, letting the group into the kitchen. The room had been abandoned, although half-prepared food lay on the tables. The oven was cold and there was no sign of the staff. Everything was covered in frost. Choosing a door at random (this not being an area any of them were familiar with), they ventured into the central lobby of the building. Everything was covered in a thin layer of ice and the carpet crunched underfoot. The gas lights were turned on, but no gas issued from the tubes and they were cold and dark.
Curruthers took the lead as they headed for the main staircase to the first floor and was the first to be attacked by the zombies. Prentiss, at the rear, found more and battle broke out. The walking dead were frozen solid and difficult to damage, but tended to shatter when a solid hit was made. Making short work of the corpses, one of which was recognizable as the werewolf they killed in Highgate Cemetery, they reached the balcony. The ice was thicker here, coating the doors, walls and other woodwork. It was several inches thick on the doors to the Library and Council Chambers, which is where the dinner was to be held.
Deciding they needed heavier tools, they headed for the basement stores, getting distracted momentarily by the possibility of getting gunpowder from the armoury. Unfortunately, the doors were too well secured, so they fell back on the original plan of making use of picks and hammers.
Returning to the Library door, they set to work. Prentiss smashed a lot of ice off the door, fatiguing himself, but allowing them entry. The ice inside was thicker towards the door of the Council Chamber, but nothing could be heard. They spent some time examining the room for signs of summoning or of other dodgy books, but it seemed Madame Delgal had been tidying with her usual efficiency.
They began taking turns hacking at the Chamber door. After a couple of attempts, a head formed from the ice and, after giving them all a disdainful look, told them to stop making so much noise and go away. Further attempts to remove the ice resulted in the arrival of a four-foot tall figure of ice, which they smashed. This was followed by a series of lethal eruptions of ice shards. Dodging the bursts, they managed to remove a panel of the door and Prentiss packed it with black powder from his blunderbuss. Miss Sharpe then ignited the powder with a blast from her gun, blowing the door off its hinges.
Inside, they found the rest of the staff frozen at the table and covered in thick ice. While they stared at the scene, Miss Sharpe used her detecteronatron to locate a spirit sitting in a frozen chair watching them. She pointed it out to the others and large chunks of ice began to fall from the ceiling, narrowly missing several of the heroes, as Lady Antonia unloaded her LeMats at the chair. While the chair was completely demolished, the spirit appeared to be completely unaffected; worse, it was audibly cackling at them!
While various weapons discharged around him, Curruthers looked for the thickest concentration of ice, spotting it on the specially-imported Norwegian Spruce. Assuming a connection, he led the others in launching a hail of fire at it, eventually resulting in its destruction. The spirit promptly dissipated and the ice began to sublimate into the air.
Sensing an opportunity, the heroes started to decorate the frozen staff in a comical fashion, intending to blame the spirit when they woke up…
As a mostly-improvised session (I had a basic idea of the plot, plus a rough idea of the layout of the building), this worked very well. I hadn’t planned how they would defeat the spirit, but I love the solution they came up with and just ran with it.
This is the first time I’d ever run a seasonal special and, although Christmas is particularly important in a Victorian setting, I didn’t want to fall into the usual cliché of the Christmas Carol rip-off. If it’s not clear, the spirit was the Scandinavian equivalent of a dryad, connected to the imported Christmas tree; it wasn’t happy with the noise and heat and decided to freeze all involved.
One thing I discovered with this game is that sometimes miniatures are very important, even in simple fights. Confusion rained during the fight with the zombies as to who was where and next to whom…