Friday, 25 November 2016

This Old House (Part 3)

The third and final part in a series of short AP reports for the game of Blood & Water played as part of the Gauntlet Hangouts' Story Games Sunday.

Act Five:Brokering Bad

Three montages open this episode: Charlie going about his business with the weeping woman always standing at his shoulder, unseen by others; Manfred rehearsing with the band and cooking, as more and more of the band's followers succumb to necroherpes; and James murdering three more of the people on his revenge list, by the end of which his spiritual form is wreathed in coiling smoke and drifting sparks.

Image result for bonfireDue to staff shake-ups at Channel 5, Charlie is sent with Geoff the cameraman to film some local colour for the weather report and ends up at a new age ceremony intended to re-align the world's chakras after the bout of freak weather that has been experienced. He meets a woman there who can see the weeping woman, but he gets caught up in the ritual before he can speak to her further and we later see a viral video of him dancing naked around a bonfire.

Manfred concentrates on his real ambition, to run his own food-van business and finds a second-hand vehicle on Craig's list; the seller puts him under pressure to buy though, so Manfred turns to James for the cash. James gives him the money in exchange for Manfred flushing away the protective amulet that Charlie had acquired, which makes him uncomfortable whenever he is near it.

James has his own business to attend to, when Olivia's boss, the Bald Man, summons him to a meeting to discuss his situation and offers him a full partnership in his old firm if he will call off his vendetta against the surviving three conspirators; he gives James 24 hours to think about it. After a little spying & subterfuge, James establishes that the Bald Man is working for the conspirators, for reasons that are as yet unclear.

Charlie tracks down the woman from the new age event at a small museum/gallery/head-shop and she offers to intercede with the weeping woman for him; the spirit possesses the woman and demands that he right the imbalance he created when he dumped Brandi by text message. When he shows reluctance, the spirit changes tack and talks of gaining life instead; he agrees to this and the spirit leaves the woman's body, but the strain has been too much for her and she dies! Charlie calls 911 and ends up being interviewed by Detective Worth, the same one who had been investigating the murder of Skip Jackson! She knows there is something weird going on with the residents of the boarding house and presses Charlie for answers: he accepts her card and says he will call her if he has anything to tell her.

Image result for inside vaultWith his 24 hours up, James turns down the offer made by the Bald Man, but on a call to him, he finds that one of the conspirators has got a new proposal and has abducted Brandi and Madeleine as a desperate last resort to leverage him into calling off his vendetta. As James hunts them down, Charlie calls Detective Worth and all three housemates converge at the offices where the women are being held captive in a vault. As Detective Worth learns more than she wants to about the supernatural world and basically forces Charlie to agree to leave the city, James draws deep upon his supernatural powers, bursting open the vault in an orgy of destruction that rains debris onto his friends in the street and only just saves the lives of Brandi and Madeleine as he marks off yet another target on his list...

Final Act: Scratching That Itch

Things move quickly as James nears the completion of his goal whilst the NYPD move to protect the final two victims on his list, Ms. Brent and music investor Mr. Chalker: the latter was last seen heading into a VIP room at a gig attended by Manfred, Mr. Gorman the music promoter and Anyanka the mummy, who has helped seal the deal for Manfred's band. Charlie gets a call from Geoff at Channel 5 telling him to get into the studio and help cover the hot breaking story, while Manfred calls Mr. Gorman, who seems to be stuck inside a sarcophagus at the Museum of Natural History.

Acting on a tip-off/call for help by James, Charlie takes Geoff to the home of Ms. Brent, which is eerily quiet and dark; as James spies inside, Charlie knocks on the front door and rouses a child from bed who comes to answer it. Tragically, Ms. Brent has taken matters into her own hands, poisoning herself and her family rather than face James' wrath: the child is the ghost of her murdered son who closes the house around him in order to feel safe! Charlie frees them by embracing his destiny as a spirit guide and opening a door to the afterlife for the child to pass through; James is not deterred by this tragedy and finds out from Manfred that Mr. Chalker, the final name on his list, is at the Museum.

Image result for aztec maskManfred liberates Mr. Gorman from his sarcophagus and gets directed to the Aztec exhibit, where he last saw Anyanka and Mr. Brent heading to; in this recreation of an Aztec Temple, Anyanka is leading the praise of Chalchiuhtotlin, the God of Disease, to a kneeling congregation of band followers infected by necroherpes! As Charlie and James head up towards the museum, they see a crowd of a hundred more heading in, their skins covered in disfiguring sores, all chanting the name of Chalchiuhtotlin! They bust through a police cordon and enter the museum, where Mr. Brent is revealed as the avatar of Chalchiutotolin, who recognises James as the avatar of Xiuhtecuhtli, god of fire, and invites him to join him in bringing the True Faith to New York! Nothing will sway James from taking his revenge though and he slays Mr. Brent, just as Detective Worth enters; her attempt to perform an arrest is derailed when the spirit of the weeping woman returns, having found a wronged woman with a strong enough will to act! A possessed Detective Worth is fought by Charlie but James deals the final blow: having completed his business on Earth, a door to the afterlife opens for him and he draws the weeping woman's spirit through with him! Charlie also gets drawn into the doorway, but is saved at the last moment by Steve, his coyote spirit guide, who bounds through the door and closes it after him!

In some short epilogues taking place three months later, we see that Charlie has kept his promise to Detective Worth and left New York; now him and Manfred are touring the USA in Manfred's refurbished food van, bringing excellent street cuisine to the supernatural corners of the nation. Finally, in a cutaway to elsewhere, we see James alone at a desk, doing paperwork; his desk is surrounded by empty ones, which are surrounded by more empty ones and as our point of view rises directly above him, we see James dead centre in an endless office floor of empty desks...

The End

Many thanks to Daniel, David and Horst for playing: it was a very different experience for me GMing this game in a Hangout instead of at a tabletop, so I appreciate their patience and enthusiasm.

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