Saturday, December 21, 2019

Pulp Adventures and a general update

Inside Baseball
The contract that keeps the lights on was not renewed so I have been looking for a new contract/gig/job. Unfortunately, blogging suffers first. Sorry for the light posting

In General
We have continued to play the Seaward and Blackstone campaigns (updates coming) and Champions. The big reveal from Seaward?
The Men of Varied Colors are a type of genie!

Pulp Champions
  When I started the Atlantaverse back in 2013 all I wanted was a setting for my sons and their friends to play Champions. Two of the kids were from a family that thinks D&D is iffy but superheroes are cool and I appreciate but dislike the official Champions Universe (Why? Status quo).
  Well, things got out of hand since all 9 players wanted to jazz band so we quickly had a ton of backstories. I had made a pseudo-history for the alternate dimension of the Atlantaverse (where the US has a commonwealth-style parliamentary system, BTW) that touched on numerous topics ranging from alien invasions to secret cabals to where socks go when they vanish from the dryer (yes, really).
The the crew wanted to play street-level guys in Hudson City so I stole the map, made new hereoes, villains, and groups, and off we went. And then....
  Well, you get the idea. Long story short I signed a license with HERO (God bless them and their business) and am writing the basic setting down in a presentable format.
(Artists I hope to Kickstart a future full art version).

  So what did the hardcore central 3 players demand?
  Pulp adventures in the past! They wanted to be in the Atlantaverse back when radio was king so they can be at ground zero for the Secret History of my superhero universe.

My reply?

  High Level
The game would start August 1st, 1930 - right after the (real world) debut of The Shadow. The Shadow, The Spider, Carson Napier, Lord Greystoke, Fu Manchu - all can appear (with new names and slight alterations to abilities, natch). History is largely like the Real World but pulpy.

The Heroes
Jack plays Francis X. 'Philosopher' O'Brien. As a child he when he wasn't playing stickball or challenging other kids to footraces for pennies his nose was in a book, so the other kids called him 'Philosopher', a nickname that stuck. As an adult he is a private investigator and bonded international courier in Chicago and in addition to the usual divorce, stolen goods, and missing person cases he is the go-to guy for issues with ...odd things. Tables that float, apparitions that walk through walls, witches' curses, and other things the cops would lock you up for mentioning.
As past case ended up with O'Brien able to read people's auras and make 'spectre bullets' - ammunition for his .38 special that can harm witches, werewolves, ghosts, and worse. Philo, as his friends call him, started the campaign living in Chicago.

Sam plays Edward Oliver Wilson Arthur John Hamm-Smythe, the 4th son of a British peer. Raised in India and African colonies Eddie is fluent in number of languages and cultures and a dab hand at polo. As a young man he caught the exploration bug and has been all over the world looking for the sources of rivers, new species of beetles, lost cities, and the other things that go with the job.
One of the things he found was an enchanted mask he discovered in the wreck of a 16th Century Chinese junk that had been used by Malay Pirates in the service of an Arab sheikh to smuggle trade with tribes in East Africa while avoiding colonial authority (and taxes). Another was an amulet he discovered in an ancient temple in Peru.
The mask is of simple design and defies even cultural identification but it grants him a number of mystical powers not the least of which is he can 'see the truth'. The amulet grants him supernatural luck.
He is assisted by his valet, Edmund Gorilla. Edmund is a gorilla with human-level intelligence and a limited ability to speak French. Eddie started the campaign in Brazzaville.

Nick plays Grigore Zugravescu a Romanian from Carpathia (his passport says 'Grigori Zeline' is from Ukraine). As a young man his family was hounded by the undead so he was sent away. In a background largely unrevealed he learned both savate and how to store sunlight in his body and later emit it to attack and heal others. Throughout the fringes of Europe and North Afrca Grigore is known as the Vampire Hunter. At the beginning of the adventure Grigore was in in souther France.

The Setup
Philo was contacted by a wealthy socialite and paid (handsomely) to deliver a jade necklace to Pointe Noir, Africa. She insisted it was of sentimental value and sent as a commemoration of of the birth of her friend's first granddaughter. Philo's aura sight revealed the the necklace was midly enchanted and that the woman was not evil.

Grigori was contacted by the mystic known as Uncle Nikolai and tols he was "needed" in Pointe Noire, Africa where his talents could be the difference between life and death.

Eddie had heard that workers on the Congo Railhead had found an engraved stone that referenced the famed Lost City of Opar so he set off to the railhead camp in Pointe Noire.

Meet Cute
Grigori and Philo were the only non-engineers on the PanAm Flying Clipper to Pointe Noire so they struck up an acquaintance. In the burgeoning town of Pointe Noir there were a score of dive taverns and a dozen flop-houses but only one hotel and bar with a smoking lounge - The Marker. Grigori and Philo stayed there, joined the next day by Eddie who (as the other non-native Frenchman or Belgians in the entire hotel) joined them for drinks.

The Tales
Soon Eddie was hearing from the natives a series of odd tales

-Five workers had tried to steal a crate of dynamite to sell to illegal miners. Pursued into the jungle they became lost. One died of fever before they found a hidden valley that held an massive, ancient city of stone on the shores of a small lake. The city was inhabited by two groups. The first group were male apes (nopt gorillas) that were man-like and had a language. The other group were beautiful women with white skin. The leader of the city was the most beautiful of the women who gave them a place to stay. After a day one of the 4 remaining men vanished. A month later two of the men saw the city leader take the third away and, secretly following, say her sacrifice him on a hideous altar. They fled with the apes killing one of the men as they did. The lone survivor made it back to the rails where he told his story and handed over a carved stone before dying of fever.

-The native workers lived in fear of an asanbasam, a type of vampire who lurkes in trees to drop on the unwary. The witchdoctors in the area were growing rich selling charms to the men, but the French and Belgians just assumed the real problem was the next tale.

-Normally the jungle had a few leopards here and there and such animals avoided human towns. Not here. At least once a week a leopard killed a cow or a man, dragging them into the jungle and devouring them.3 leopards had been killed at the edges of town in just a month! Very unusual.

-At the edge of town lives a man called Hard Luck N'Dolo. Whose waterskin leaks all day? N'dolo's. whose cider has punked? N'Dolo's. Whose hut is truck by lightning and burns? N'dolo's. And so on. Half of the cattle killed by leopards belonged to N'Dolo! Everyone knew he was cursed and the story was he was driven from every village he ever lived in because of his bad luck because over time it started to affect those around him.

The Dialog
After 2 days together reports came in that a Waziri safari was arriving. The Waziri were a well-known (and respected) tribe throughout central Africa. With much pomp the 20 Waziri warriors and their bearers arrived and with them came a middle-aged White woman and a tall, strong man in his mid to late 20's who was very obviously her son. The staff of the hotel called her "Lady Jane" and gave her the best suite. She was accompanied by a beautiful young Waziri woman named Bouira and Buira's father, Muviro. Muviro was a massive man in native dress with a spear, a heavy knife, and a holstered .45 on his hip.
At dinner Jane arrived in a fashionable gown accompanied by her son (called 'Jack') in white tie. Bouira assisted Jane and Muviro (fully armed) remained standing nearby. No one seemed to notice.
After dinner Jane called over Philo and proved that she was, indeed, the 'Jane Porter Clayton' the necklace was meant for. She thanked him for delivering it and asked that, on his return to Chicago, give his client a reciprocal gift/ Philo examined the obviously tin and paste brooch as Jane explained it was a gift between two very poor schoolgirls that would mean more than platinum.

Hard Luck N'Dolo
The group of three decided to track down Hard Luck N'Dolo and found him in a native bar drinking
hooch and sitting alone in a packed establishment.
Eddie bought him a drink and they began speaking. It soon came out that N'Dolo was from the east coast of Africa. he said that as a young man a horrible fate befell his family after a witchdoctor cursed his father. One by one everyone in the hut but his father grew sick and died until N'Dolo, the last living one, fled. But, he said, the curse remained. He would arrive a new place and fell good and positive. But as he stayed he felt worse and his luck got worse and worse until he was forced to travel. Since the worst luck befell him after sundown he always walled west, toward the setting sun, to spend just a few more minutes in the light as he went. Over years he finally arrived at Pointe Noire a year previously.
His plan was to save enough money for steamship passage to Brazil, hoping to outrun the curse by crossing the ocean but the leopards kept killing his cattle, his investment. Philo's vision confirmed N'Dolo was cursed so the three agreed to help N'Dolo by killing the leopard attacking his herd and getting him across the ocean.
That very night the three of them went to N'Dolo's hut (away from the others with outs own fences) and camped out. N'Dolo, obviously fearful, was sleepless but Eddie and Grigori slept as Philo watched.
At about 11 pm N'Dolo darted to his feet and rushed out of the hut without a word. Philo called the other as he followed but in the open kraal Philo was alone under the tree that sheltered N'Dolo's hut.
A chance noise warned Philo as N'Dolo, transformed into an iron-toothed and iron-clawed asambasam, dropped on him from the tree above!
Philo was buffeted but unbitten as the others joined him. Grigori struck N'Dolo with his snlight punch and realized that the sunlight made N'Dolo "normal" for a moment where the blow landed. Struck by inspiration Philo and Eddie tackled N'Dolo and held him while Grigori used his sunlight healing powers on him.
In a few turns Grigori was near exhaustion but his powers had broken the curse put upon him so many years before.

And Then!
From the shadows stepped Muviro. Looking for leopards he had heard the commotion and, approaching, seen the three subdue and cure N'Dolo. After speaking to the group for a few moments he left, saying he would tell someone named 'Korak' that the threat was over.

The Next Installment
The party plans to follow the clues to the Lost City of Opar....