Friday, 11 February 2011

The Ministry of Blades : The Madness of Angels, episode 4

April spies a spirit; Dr Pleasant meets an eccentric.

Played

27th January 2011.

Dramatis Personae

Lady Antonia deVore - a Heavily-armed Aristocrat.
Captain Benson Curruthers - a Military Policeman.
Doctor Zephaniah Pleasant - a Sinister Surgeon.
Miss April Sharpe - a Self-taught Inventor.
Jack Prentiss - a Dodgy Pedestrian.
Mr Erasmus Rooke - the Boss.
Sir Colin Mortimer - an Eccentric Architect.
Henderson - a Dedicated Cryptologist.
Lord Abergavenny - an Irritable Noble.
William Body - a Timid Workman.
Charlie Body - another Timid Workman.
The Chief Verger of St Paul's Cathedral.
The Distraught Vicar of St Ninian's Church.
Several Members of Staff at the Capitoline Club.
Lewis - an Unsuccessful Burglar.
The Corpse of Martin Geffey.
A Young Constable.
Two Athletic Bobbies.

Plot

Following the examination of Martin Geffey’s body, the heroes reassembled at the Ministry. It was late, but before turning in for the night, Curruthers wrote out his report of the day’s events, while Lady Antonia and Dr Pleasant both made attempts to decipher some of the Dean’s books.

The following morning, Curruthers led the charge to the breakfast table where news was spreading of the sudden collapses of St Ninian’s and St Colstan’s churches in North and South East London, respectively. Rumours were also circulating of paranormal events at the Cathedral. Accordingly, they decided to pay a visit to St Paul’s, pausing to deliver Greenfield’s enciphered diary to Mr Henderson, a somewhat unusual, but very talented, individual.

Arriving, they found the building empty, with staff, worshippers and onlookers surrounding it in a big circle. They were hailed by the Chief Verger, who explained about strange figures in the aisles, mysterious shrieks and whispering in the galleries and odd lights under the dome. They decided to enter and, despite their efforts to avoid notice, were cheered on by the crowds.

As they entered, they became aware that the building was much darker than it should have been. It was also cold and, as they left the porch, the main door shut with a loud bang. Prentiss and Miss Sharpe were somewhat shaken by this, but decided to press on. They were greeted by odd noises, but were unable to trace the source and, advancing to the space under the dome, they caught a glimpse of a faint figure just beyond the range of their torchlight. Miss Sharpe turned on her Detecteronatron and saw a demonic face screaming in the smoke, bearing a similarity to the face she had seen the morning before in the roof. They became aware of a shaking in the floor and dust began to fall from the arches. A brief attempt to investigate the upper levels was thwarted by the sudden appearance of a huge crack across the floor and they decided discretion was the greater part of valour, resisting the urge to flee outright as a sudden cackling emanated from the air around them.

As they emerged from the South Door, they were hailed by the Chief Verger, who immediately introduced them to the Bodys. The workmen had finally emerged from hiding and were desperate to relate their tale of uncovering a stone block bearing a carving of a Green Man. Not long afterwards, a number of odd events had occurred, culminating in the appearance of a ghostly figure in the cavity within the wall. They had fled, although Geffey had attempted to face down the entity before chasing after them. They had seen him collapse in the alley behind them and had assumed he’d been attacked and killed, hence their hiding.

Returning to the Ministry, Curruthers sought out Mr Rooke, asking him about the Capitoline Club. Rooke expanded a little on the establishment, explaining its status as a gentleman’s club, and told him that his Ministry status wouldn’t get him in. Curruthers and Prentiss decided to try anyway and, after briefly calling in on Henderson and getting the impression he did not want to be disturbed, they headed for Kensington. They were invited into the lobby and were shown to a side room, where they were met by the President of the Club, a curmudgeonly noble known as Lord Abergavenny. He flatly refused to help them, so they left, circling around to the rear of the building, where they debated forcing an entry.

The other three heroes opted for library research. After a brief and unsuccessful investigation of possible rituals that might prevent the collapse of St Paul’s, Pleasant joined Miss Sharpe in examining the history of Green Man carvings. They discovered that they were common in medieval churches and were apparently placed by professional masons. Theories connected them to a pagan underground and they may have had some ritual purpose: either protecting the building from vengeful local spirits or possibly binding the church with the power of those same spirits. Interestingly, they discovered that Christopher Wren flatly refused to include such carvings in any of his buildings, regarding them as pagan abominations (a not uncommon opinion in the aftermath of the Commonwealth). Lady Antonia investigated Wren’s career and the building of the cathedral, unearthing his connections to Isaac Newton and to a more mystical intellectual tradition.

Miss Sharpe and Pleasant then visited the site of the collapse of St Ninian’s, one of Wren’s other London churches. Talking to the vicar, they found out that the building had no history of instability, but were then approached by a somewhat crazed individual who informed them that Wren had been up to no good, using “occult practices” to shore up impractical designs. Despite his introducing himself as Sir Colin Mortimer of the Imperial Institute of Architects, Pleasant dismissed him as “odd”.

Notes

This game was a lot of fun from my point of view, despite the lack of actual action. For some reason, I was finally able to over-emphasise the peculiarities of some of the NPC’s (Mortimer and Henderson especially), which seemed to go down well. I intend to try this more often, it’s frequently offered as a way to make sessions more memorable.

On the downside I didn’t get as far through the investigation as I would have liked. This led to some compromises in the effort to finish the story the next week.

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