Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"Rainy Days" Call of Cthulhu Campaign Summary, Session 1

Hey y'all. I was a GM for another RPG session on Monday night, this time with some friends in my singles ward. I'm going to give a brief summary of what happened here, instead of doing it line for line like previous posts.

Session 1

 In Buffalo, New York, there has recently been a series of ritualistic murders. The police have caught the culprit, but since then an unusual torrent of rain has pummeled the city. The investigators are responding to an advertisement asking for people interested in the supernatural. They come to the place--a basement apartment--and meet a disheveled old man who wants to investigate the murders further. He thinks it has to do with ancient Celtic religion (i.e. Druids). First they investigate the site of one of the murders and find signs of unusual lightning strikes. Then they go to the police station and have one of the characters--a professor--pretend to be doing a study in order to get them to let him interview the culprit. They do, and when he and two others talk to him, he grudgingly reveals (over time) that it was part of a plan to get the world to end.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

"Between the Lines" Unknown Armies Campaign Session 2, 19 June 2015

This is another campaign we did, only this time with Unknown Armies and GM'd by me! A video of the first part of the second session is below. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Artifact, Session 2 - 6 August 2012

The time-travelers step out of Revolutionary Russia and find themselves once again in the Time Room. As the door behind them dissolves, Natalie (Rose Swenson) suddenly announces,

"I need a break..."

Ames (Christian Swenson) looks at her, seeming almost amused, and says, "I'm afraid we don't have time". Without waiting for anyone to respond, he continues, "The next time period we will be visiting is December of 1941, on the outskirts of Moscow. Can anyone tell me what was happening at that point in time?

There is a tense silence, after which Janet (Sage Peacock) responds, "World War II?"

"Specifically, the Battle of Moscow. On this particular date, the eighth, the Soviets are launching a counter-offensive against the invading Germans. Our task is to infiltrate the New Jerusalem Monastery, which these Germans have occupied, and retrieve the Artifact before they blow it up." He looks at the others, seeing scared and exhausted faces. "Any questions?"

There is another silence.

"Excellent," Ames says. "Now, on your left you will find all the clothes that you will need to pass unnoticed in this time period. You'll notice that the outfits selected for each of you will both keep you warm and disguise your gender. It is a battlefield, after all."

Sure enough, they turn around and see racks full of furs and other warms clothes. They get dressed quickly, and notice that Ames dons a Nazi officer's uniform. After they are all suited up, another door appears on the same wall, which they immediately pass through.

The Mill
They step out, immediately feeling the extreme cold of the Russian winter, and notice that they are walking out of what appears to be a large wooden windmill. As sounds of gunfire and explosions fill the air, they immediately notice two German guards standing guard at mill's entrance. Ames confidently walks toward them and gestures for the others to follow.

"Which way to the Monastery?" Ames asks, noticeably startling the two soldiers.

The older-looking one, completely shocked, asks, "What? Where did you come from?" 

"Do you dare question your superior officer?"

The soldiers are too dazed to offer any argument, having just seen four people exiting a previously empty mill. "Uh..." says the other one, "Down this road, I suppose."

"Thank you." Ames gestured for the others to follow and begins walking down the dirt path.

"Sir?" asks the first soldier, causing Ames to turn around.


"Can we leave? I see no reason for us to be guarding this place. I..."

"Would you tell that to the Fuhrer?" Ames asks, feigning offense.

"Of course not! It's just, we're going to die out here..."

Ames, although initially indifferent to their concerns, feels a sudden pang of compassion. He removes a blanket which he had draped underneath his coat and gives it to them.

"Danke", he says.

They walk down the road a ways, as the sound of war sounds increasingly closer. Margaret (Fiona Swenson) suddenly yells for all of them to stop.

"What is it?" asks Ames

"You see the ground here, how it isn't covered in snow?" 


"Well, that's because it's a minefield. Go any further and you'd be blown to bits."

True to form, the ground, slightly warmer than elsewhere, is devoid of snow. They all agree to carefully walk around the dangerous area and go off of the road

Woodland between the Mill and the Monastery
Walking through the dead vegetation in the forest, they suddenly hear an explosion from their right. Then another. Then another. Natalie, in the nick of time, tells them all to jump to the left. They do, but are nonetheless caught in an explosion cause by a bomb, dropped by a passing plane. As the smoke evaporates, it becomes clear that Ames has lost a leg. He hops over a few feet, finds it, and reattaches it without a problem. Janet and Margaret also fare well. Natalie is not so lucky, as she has shrapnel in both her legs.

Processing what has happened, Ames curses. "Margaret, you stay here and patch her up. I'll continue to the Monastery with Janet." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out what appears to be a bag full of basic medical supplies. "We'll be back."

As Janet and Ames proceed, they step back onto the road. Unfortunately, however, they see what appears to be Soviet troops approaching near through the trees. Janet, realizing her opportunity, slips into the shadows. However, soon the soldiers surround them. Ames, realizing that he is dressed in the enemy's uniform suddenly says, in perfect Russian, "Stop! Killing me would be a mistake!"

"Yeah, and why's that?" the leader responds.

"Because I am a double-agent working for the glorious Soviet Union. I have been tasked with retrieving an artifact of great national importance from the Germans before they can destroy it."

"And who says that we're with the Soviets? We're here on our own terms."

At this point, Janet had circled around their perimeter and reached a soldier on the outskirts. She karate-chops him in the head, takes his gun, and strangles him with it. He drops silently in the snow.

"If you don't turn around, we'll open fire."

"I must warn you." says Ames, "I am not your regular soldier. Hitler may think he is developing the super-human, but in reality Stalin has already achieved that particular goal. I am the result". With a smile, he turns his head 360 degrees.

Janet takes out two more men with similar moves, after which the leader responds, 

"Then you're an android. So what? We've seen androids before, and we know how to deal with them."

Ames, shocked, becomes increasingly dumbfounded when the leader removes a taser from his jacket and begins to approach him.

As he continues to close in, Ames gestures for Janet to attack the man threatening his life. She runs forward and tackles him, wrestling his weapon away. The other soldiers immediately turn their sights toward her, but are unwilling to shoot, for fear of hitting their comrade. Suddenly, Ames takes a machine pistol from his jacket and shoots at the mass. They scatter and flee. Janet then hits the leader with the butt of his gun, and he falls unconscious.

Realizing that a "Soviet" spy would be very useful to present the Germans with, Ames takes the unconscious time-traveling soldier on his back and walks again toward them monastery. As they arrive, they hear an explosion a short ways away, and turn to see a smoking tank lying on its side.


After Ames and Janet left, Margaret did the best job she could patching up Natalie. However, despite her best efforts, Natalie is still extremely wounded, and can, at best, hobble along painfully. They lie in the snow, trying to hide from the action. To their combined horror, they hear the sound of an approaching tank. However, surprisingly, once it enters their line of sight, they see a man (a German) open the hatch, get out, and light a cigarette. Realizing their chance, Margaret supports Natalie as they move quietly toward the armored monster. They manage to climb up silently, but as Natalie attempts to descend into its inner compartments, she slips and falls, landing on her hurt legs. She cries out instinctively, attracting the soldier's attention.

A German Panzer III Tank

Margaret hurriedly enters the tank and closes the hatch. Before they can do anything, the soldier bangs on the it. Natalie, with her knowledge of machinery, manages to start the tank, but the soldier soon realizes that the hatch hasn't been sealed, and opens it up. Margaret reaches inside her pocket, grabs a syringe, and tries to stab him with it. She misses. She does the same thing with a scalpel, with no more success. Suddenly, the soldier grabs his gun and shoots it. It misses her, but ricochets around in the tank, deafening everyone. This causes the soldier to reel back, but soon he returns. Margaret tries another scalpel, and this time, she is successful! His lip is cut open, and he is in great pain. Then she, taking advantage of the opportunity, reaches into her coat and finds a syringe full of sedative. She takes it out, and injects it into his face. He immediately becomes limp and falls to the floor.

Margaret closes the hatch, and starts tending to his wounds.

"Why are we going so slow?!" interjects Natalie, frustrated. Through the periscope, she sees a group of soldiers erecting a barricade. Without any trouble, she shoots their gun and scatters all but one. He stands there, shooting, and only leaves at the last minute. He leaves a patch of yellow snow where he stood.

About to reach their destination, suddenly they hear something clank on the tank's side. 

"Damn", says Natalie. "That would be a vehicle mine."

Natalie realizes that their assailants probably attached the mine near the fuel patch, so she tells Margaret to flee with her. They hurriedly try to get out, but the door is stuck. They bang on the door, but it is of no use. They cower in fear on the floor as the mine explodes.


Ames looks and sees two people climb out of the tank, immediately recognizing that they are Margaret and Natalie. He runs over to them, obviously shaken up, and immediately asks what happened.

"It's a long story", says Margaret.

After a pause, Natalie looks around and starts laughing. 

"What?" asks Janet.

"I was...I was driving the tank backwards!" she says, hysterically. "So they placed the mine on the other side!"

After a bit, she recovers. Ames then says, "Natalie, you stay here and repair the tank."

"But it's on its side!"

"Easily remedied", he says, as he almost effortlessly pushes it right-side-up. He then reaches into his coat and gives her a few essential tools, and a gun.

The New Jerusalem Monastery

The interior of the New Jerusalem Monastery

Margaret, Janet, and Ames, carrying the faux-Soviet, walk up to the monastery and enter in through a side door. They come across a German soldier, who immediately salutes and lets them through.  They enter into a colorful room full of German soldiers going here and there. There is what appears to be a makeshift war-room, and people carrying explosives on stretchers. After a minor explosion takes out a wall, Ames walks quickly to one of these stretcher-carrying men and asks him,

"Where is your commanding officer?"

"Down there, with the other explosives."

"Take me to him."

"Very well."

They walk down a flight of stairs, and after turning the last corner, they arrive in small candle-lit room. To their surprise, a tall man in a German officer's uniform stands there with a familiar face. It appears to be none other than Grigori Rasputin.

Ames, unfazed, sets down the time-traveling soldier, walks over to him, and says, "I have been tasked by the highest authority in the Third Reich with retrieving the Artifact located here. Where is it?"

There is the sound of distant explosions and gunfire above. He then responds.

"The highest authority, eh? Well, why don't you talk to him right now?"

They hear footsteps coming down a hallway, and suddenly there stands Adolf Hitler, in the flesh.

Adolf Hitler
As everyone's faces fill with shock, he announces, "That was the longest bathroom break I've ever had". He then notices his guests. "Hey, who are you?"

"I'm Franz," says Ames, "Don't you remember me?"

"I've met a lot of Franzes in my time, though I don't recall any with your face. I'll ask again, who are you?"

"Oh, Adolf..."

At the sound of someone besmirching their beloved Fuhrer's name, the other soldiers in the room immediately draw their guns. One shoots at Ames, but the bullet merely bounces off his chest.

"Stop!" says Hitler "Are you idiots? Do you realize how much explosives are with us right now? If you value your lives, drop your guns."

"Now, Adolf", Ames says, "I've come to make a proposition. This man here," he says, gesturing to the 'Soviet Spy', "comes from the future. I'd be willing to give him to you, if only you'll give me the Artifact."

Hitler begins to laugh. "And you think you gentlemen are the first time travelers I've ever seen? Yes, I know an android when I see one". After briefly basking in their confusion, he says, "Oh come on! Do you think a person as hated as me hasn't survived a few cross-time assassination attempts?" He then reaches into his coat and, surprisingly, withdraws a laser pistol. He points it at Ames.

At this point Janet had again slipped into the shadows. She silently takes out one soldier, and then another.

"And, no, I'm not giving you the Artifact. I have spent too long and sacrificed too many lives in its pursuit."

"Sacrificed lives?" Ames asks. "What?"

"Yes. Don't you realize? Ever since the first time traveler I met told me that I would die in infamy, I've been seeking a way to prolong my life indefinitely. This whole war has been a front for my attempt to come here and retrieve this most precious of relics". Loving the attention, he suddenly says, "Oh, and before you ask about those blasted Jews.... The Talmud contains multiple hidden references to the Artifact, of which only the Jewish people are aware. My goal was simply to eliminate the competition."

Ames, full of disgust, impulsively reaches into his coat and withdraws his a pistol and attempts to shoot Hitler in the leg before he can counter. He misses, and hits him in the crotch area, letting him know for sure that certain rumors about Hitler's anatomy were true.

"Scheisse!" shouts Hitler, as he falls over in pain. As Janet takes out the few remaining soldiers, Ames places his foot on Hitler's crotch and aims a gun at his head.

"Fool! I know how I die! I have a fate which nothing but the Artifact can undo. Your threats are useless."

"Then get out!" Ames says, cocking the gun. Hitler, realizing his unavoidable choice, gulps, gets up, and limps up the stairs. 

The man appearing to be Rasputin looks at Ames, as he too flees to the main floor. Ames and the others follow in quick pursuit. As the sound of battle surrounds them, Ames catches up to him and grabs him by his sleeve. Looking at him closely, they see that, alas, he only looks like Rasputin.

"Where is the Artifact?", Ames asks, angrily.

"It is buried." says the Rasputin-lookalike. "The only way to get it is by explosion."

Ames curses, not knowing what to do. Then, lo and behold, he notices that a trail of blood (presumably from Hitler's privates) leads out of the Monastery. He then sees that he has dropped a black device. Ames releases the man and grabs it. It is a detonator. He goes back down to the room, grabs the time traveler, and walks out into the courtyard. He presses the button. The monastery's tower crumbles as a visible explosion bursts through the windows. After the fire has cleared, he and the others walk inside and see, in a large crater, a box. It seems pristine, unaffected by the fire that surrounded it only moments before.

He grabs it, and gestures for everyone to follow him. As they go outside, Natalie hobbles in their direction.

"The tanks is ready." she says.

"Excellent", says Ames. All of them, including the unconscious time-traveling prisoner get in the tank. It is a tight squeeze, but they manage. It uneventfully carries them back to the mill, where they re-enter the white Time-Room.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Artifact, Session 1 - 18 July 2012

Janet (Sage Peacock), Margaret (Fiona Swenson) and Natalie (Rose Swenson) each wake up in their own whitewashed cells. Each has a bed, built into the wall, a toilet, and a sink.

Margaret turns on the sink, and sees that the water is tepid, yet extremely clean.

Natalie, out of a frantic desire to get out, rips open her bed mattress. Suddenly, an alarm sounds. The bed retracts into the wall, and a new one pops out.

Each suddenly receives a tray of food pushed through a newly-opened cavity in the wall. It requires no utensils. After they eat, the door opens, and each step out together into a gray hallway. There stand two armored men in front of a slender, bespectacled man in a gray tweed suit. He beckons them to follow. They do. As they walk down twisting gray corridors, Janet taps one of the guards on the shoulder. It gives her an electric shock, discouraging her to repeat the action. Natalie suddenly asks

“Where are we going?” The guards do not answer.

“They are not programmed to respond”, the man in front says.

“What’s going on?”

“All will be revealed.”

They walk through an automatic door and into an office, where he beckons them to sit down. Janet does so, then soon realizes that the others have stayed standing. She stands up.

“I encourage you to sit down. You’ll need your strength.”

They all do.

"I apologize for the impolite manner in which I've gathered you here," says the man, "but based on our consumer reports we have decided that you three are best for this mission." Seeing their confused faces, he continues, "You see, we've been developing this new type of technology wherein we can transfer matter through the dimension of time. However, in all of our tests, we have not been able to send a human being though. Androids - fine; they've come and gone with little or no discrepancies in their programming. But the fact is, we did not believe, up to this point, that any human being could survive the process."

"Why kidnap us? Why not just ask us?" asks Margaret.

"Because this mission is far too important to ask permission. We did away with the niceties, because we believe that this is an extremely noble and far-reaching cause, of which no people, let alone three people, can decide not to uptake. Besides, you're the only three people we could find who could survive the process."

"Sounds interesting, but what about our lives back home?"

The man laughs. "Oh, don't worry. Alibis have been invented for each of you: you're all at a conference, for various reasons. Janet, a dancer, is obviously on tour right now. Doctor Margaret, you're at a surgeon's conference in the Caymans. We've doctored up photos, and you've sent a postcard to your family of you in a bikini enjoying a margarita. Natalie, we sensed that you were having familial troubles, so we had them believe that you were taking a short sabbatical, and that you would be back, and that you loved them very much. And you call them each and every day."

"So you've discovered time travel?" Margaret asks, inquisitively.

"In a sense."

"I though the concept was impossible," Natalie says. "Wouldn't it rip you apart, atom by atom?

"That's what we believed."

"What happens if we die while we're on this mission?" Janet asks. "What will happen to our families?"

"Believe me, we've conducted all possible scenarios. If you don't make it back, then we will let your families know. We won't let them know what happened, but we will let them know."

"What would happen if we declined this offer?" asks Margaret.

"This mission is too important to allow you the liberty of refusal."

"Would all three of us be traveling together? What year are we going to?"

He smiles. "All will be revealed in due time. All you need to know is that there is an artifact that we are wishing to recover." After a pause, he continues, "The first of three time periods you will visit is March of 1917, in what was then Petrograd, in Russia."

"How will you keep in contact with us?"

"I'm glad you asked, because I'm sending one of my men, to make sure you don't get up to no good. He will record your progress, make sure that you're doing what you're supposed to, provide you with all protection needed, etc.. I'll introduce him now."

Suddenly, an android named Ames (Christian Swenson) walks through the door. He seems a bit off in his behaviors, though he looks entirely human. He's far too deliberate and precise in his maneuvers and mannerisms.

"I've very pleased to be accompanying you on this mission." He turns around and faces the corner, in an unsuccessful attempt to make everyone feel less uncomfortable.

"Have you been through time before?" asks Natalie?

"Not to my knowledge," Ames says.

There is an unpleasant pause, after which Margaret says, "Will clothes be taken care of? What about money."

"Yes, you don't have to worry about any of that." says the man. "And now, we must begin."

"But what is our mission?" asks Janet, concerned.

"Ah!" he says, "I almost forgot!". "You are tasked with finding a man named Father Grigori, and asking him all he knows about the artifact. Ames will help you with the specifics."

He and his guards walk them through a door. After passing through several rooms, they arrive in a large white chamber with a rack of clothes. They get dressed in what appears to be period wear, after which a robot bodyguard removes the rack. Alone in the room, it begins to glow white. Suddenly, a wooden door materializes on the far side.

Demonstrations in Petrograd in March 1917

They step through the door and into a chilly Russian town square. They immediately see throngs of people protesting, gathered in a large boisterous group. It suddenly occurs to Ames that, if they are to find Father Grigori, that they should look in a church. He tells that to the group, which leads Margaret to go up to a protesting woman and asks,

“Do you know where we can find the nearest church?”

“On [such-and-such] street, but you should know that not even God can save us in these dark times.”

They walk down the various streets of Petrogard, led by Ames’ meticulous historical knowledge, but are suddenly held up by some soldiers. They say that nobody can pass, but Margaret tells him that they merely wish to visit a church, so he receives a surge of compassion, and lets them through.

They arrive at the church. They go in, and a greeted by a sight of various distraught people praying in pews. They approach a priest walking down a center aisle, as Janet asks him a question,

“Do you know of Father Grigori?”

His face suddenly becomes pale, “He is no longer a part of my religion.”

Margaret expertly appeals to his sense of compassion, asking where he was, but he responds simply,

“You can find him at the gates of hell.”

After asking a few pray-ers, and getting similar response, they stop and deliberate. Ames suddenly makes a connection.

“Comrades, I know of man going by the name of Father Grigori existed in this area around this time.

“Then who is he?” asked Natalie

“He goes by several names: the Black Monk, the
 Mad Monk, but most significantly, he is known as Rasputin.”

There are audible gasps.

“But there is one problem,” he continues. “He has been dead for a year.”

“Then we need to go back! They made a mistake!” says Natalie

“My employers do not make mistakes. The documents clearly indicate that a Father Grigori was clearly here at this date.”

“Then how do you explain it?”

“I do not know. However, I recommend beginning at the place he was buried – the Alexander Palace”

After nods of assent, they begin the trek out of town. The journey takes a while, and is mostly silent, so he takes the opportunity to tell them the story of Rasputin’s death.

“He was lured to the abode of some of his friends, who believed he was too influential. He was then fed food and wine, laced with cyanide. To their shock and awe, he was unaffected. When they noticed this, they shot him, multiple times. They left him to die. However, one of the conspirators forgot his coat, and when he returned, he found that our Father Grigori was still alive. Rasputin lunged and attempted to strangle him. However, at that moment, his fellows arrived at shot the man in the back. They tied him in a rug and tossed him in the Neva River. Rasputin, still not dead, tried to escape his bonds, but ultimately died of drowning.”

The Alexander Palace

There is a stunned silence, after which they arrive at their destination. To their dismay, the palace is surrounded by a gate, but Ames notices that a trail of dirt leads from the grounds to a nearby forest. He indicates that they follow it. Walking into the woods, they arrive upon a burnt pile of wood.

Woodland outside the Alexander Palace

“Do you think they exhumed his body, and then burned it, because they hated him so much?” asked Natalie

“Actually, that’s exactly what happened”, says Ames. “We have stumbled upon the remnants of various revolutionaries’ attempt to do precisely what you described. Interestingly enough, records of this event tell that his body suddenly sat up in the midst of the flames, despite having been dead for about a year.”

“Crazy…”, Janet says. “Maybe that means he’s alive, after all.”

They all begin to fan out in search of clues. Suddenly, Margaret notices a pile of ash a ways off. She beckons everyone to come and see, as Ames notices another a considerable distance in the same direction. They follow the makeshift trail until they arrive at a crudely-made hut, right in the middle of the forest. They notice that a fire is burning, and that a dead deer (with no apparent injuries) is roasting on a stick over it. Suddenly, they hear a crack behind them. They turn around, and see an abnormally tall man holding a cleft branch in his hands. He is bearded and abnormally tall, but can be unmistakably recognized as Father Grigory Rasputin. Out of the blue, he lunges forward to attack. However, Janet steps out as if to counter him, and he stops in his tracks, with a wide-eyed look of awe on his face.

Grigori Rasputin

“What is your name?” asks Janet.

“I know my name. It is Grigory Rasputin.”

"Excuse me, sir" says Ames, "But by all my accounts you should be dead."

"Yes, that is true. I am dead."

"But you speak with us as if you were alive, how is that so?"

"Well, it depends on your definition of 'dead', I suppose."

Janet suddenly interjects, "Why did you try to attack us? And why did you stop?"

"I felt threatened, considering what has happened. But I stopped because, for a split second, you seemed to be my dearly departed daughter, Maria. That mistake may have saved your lives "

"Oh!" Says Janet. "How did she die?"

"She didn't die. She left me! For America! To become a...dancer."

Rasputin weeps bitterly as he sits down, head in his hands. There is a solemn pause, but eventually Margaret speaks up.

"So, we were told that you know about something called the Artifact?"

"Yes, I do."

"What is it, then?"

"The Artifact is an ancient relic of great power - and danger."

"What does it do?"

"In short, prolonged contact with this object makes one unable to die."

"So, that's what happened to you?", asks Janet

"Yes. Ever since the Artifact was entrusted to me, no matter what ordeals I undergo, I ultimately emerge unscathed."

"What else do you know about it? What does it look like?", asks Ames

"It appears how it needs to appear, different to different people. To me, it looked like a chalice."

Ames suddenly looks satisfied. "That's all we needed. Thank you, Grigori."

They walk away from the forest as Rasputin returns to his hut. As they are about to leave earshot, he screams "Maria!". They walk uneventfully back to town, by the protesters, and to the door. Ames puts a special key in it, and they walk through into the large room from whence they came.