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The Widening Gyre (Steampunk) campaign

 
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teh bunneh
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Joined: 27 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:26 am    Post subject: The Widening Gyre (Steampunk) campaign Reply with quote

I ran a Widening Gyre (Savage Steampunk) Campaign for my group, and these are the notes/recaps from our sessions. Hope you all enjoy!

From the Introduction:
Welcome to the 19th Century that never was! It is a world of wonder, of horror, of adventure, of magic, of strange technology and unprecedented cultural revolution. This is an age that should have been, filled with radium-powered flying machines, clockwork automata, and steam-driven computers. It is an age of dark magic, sinister secrets, and unholy cults. It is a time in which the world teeters on the edge of chaos, where the enlightened scientific mind battled against ancient superstition and ignorance, in which the souls of all mankind hung in the balance.

The Widening Gyre presents a glimpse at the Industrial Age as it truly was, envisioned by those far-sighted luminaries and Savants who looked beyond the feeble limitations of man and created a world in which science, technology, and logic triumphed over the mundane physical limitations of the Universe. And yet, Logic’s victory is far from complete. This is also a dark and gothic world, where monsters from ages long past still prowl and men with evil motives call upon ancient sorceries to grant them the power to control the world.

The Widening Gyre is a world in which you'll play consulting detectives and adventuring academics, occultist thrill-seekers and Savants both heroic and insane, all working for a secretive organization of benevolent technologists who seek to prevent the dark monsters of humanity’s past from overwhelming its bright and burgeoning future.

Welcome to the Widening Gyre!
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teh bunneh
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Joined: 27 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:28 am    Post subject: The Watchmen Recap #1 Reply with quote

Cast:
Savannah Leblanc - Beautiful shootist from Louisiana, with a knack for trouble and action.
Morden Yazimoff - Jewish geomancer and student of the occult.
ADEN - Artificial clockwork man who serves Master Yazimoff with an upper crust demeanor.
Alicia Keen - Short-but-feisty Italian mystic and seer with an air of mystery.
Thackary Hartwell - Young British Savant (mad scientist) specializing in weaponry and explosives.

The heroes have all spent the last several months in training to be a Watchman, under the tutelage of a man named Pascal del Giatto. He is a middle-aged man, with graying hair and a pronounced limp, assisted by a gold-tipped cane with an elaborate, dragon-like head.

Mr. Giatto is a hard-edged fellow who didn’t tolerate shenanigans while the heroes were in training, but now that they’ve passed he seems to have mellowed out a bit. However, he is still emphatic about the seriousness of their mission. He has taken on the duties as the head of the Watchmen, but he has made it clear that he is only the interim director, and is actively searching for a replacement.

Mr. Giatto summoned the heroes to the London Chapter House to tell them about their mission.

“For the past several weeks,” he explains, “The local broadsheets have been advertising the Great Road Rally. It is an 800-mile endurance challenge, to see who has the best design for a motorized auto-mobile. The prize is 10,000 pounds sterling, and dozens of competitors are expected to attempt the grueling run.”

“They've just published the racecourse,” he continued. “The race begins in London, goes to Cambridge, then to Peterborough, then Leicester. Then it breaks off and heads SW to Swindon. Then it goes back north through Gloucester, Worcester, Birmingham, and back to Leicester. From Leicester, it goes straight back to London, then from London to Worcester, back to Cambridge, and finally ends at Swindon.”

As he spoke, he drew out the course on a large map of England. It didn’t take long for the heroes to note the pattern that emerged – it was an enormous pentacle!

“As you can tell from this unusual route, something funny is going on,” Pascal said. “We don't know who is behind this, but we have the strong suspicion that something terrible will happen as soon as the race is complete – this much advanced machinery following a course with occult significance, while the eyes of the world are watching, it's a recipe for disaster.

“The mission you are to undertake is two-fold. First, we need to find out who is sponsoring the race and for what purpose (and, if possible, to stop them from achieving their goal). Second, we need you to make sure that none of the competitors cross the finish line – who knows what evil they'll unwittingly unleash if they do.”

Since time was of the essence, the Watchmen immediately split up to accomplish a number of tasks. Alicia and Savannah headed to the offices of the Daily Mail to ask questions of the reporters. Thackary went to the edge of town, where the race would begin, to question the racers themselves. Morden and ADEN bought train tickets to Leicester to scout out the first stopping point of the race.

Alicia and Savannah found the Daily Mail without any problem. They wandered around through the offices for a while, trying to get someone’s attention, but everyone just ignored them. Finally, they found the Editor-in-Chief’s office and walked in. At first, the Editor was stunned at the audacity of these women. But they explained to him that they were employed by a large insurance agency and were required to find out who the sponsor of the Great Road Rally was.

The Editor directed them to a novice reporter named Kent. Kent, flustered by the women, told them that he didn’t really know who the sponsor was, but that the prize money was guaranteed by the First Bank of Ireland, and the man in charge of disbursing the cash was a solicitor named Mr. Barry Brogan, Esq. Kent even gave them Brogan’s address, an office in the north part of the city.

Meanwhile, Thackary went to the start of the racecourse to see what he could learn of the competitors. He spoke with a gangly and geeky racer whose “Algernon-mobile” would (in Thackary’s professional opinion) never make it to the finish line. Algernon told Thackary that there were five “racers to beat” in the competition of some 30 or 35 racers. They were:

Les Frères de Grognard, two French brothers.
Herr Maximilian Schnell, a German Savant.
Colonel Blestonov, a Russian military man. He is driving a vehicle not of his own design, but under the flag of the Czar of Russia and built by the Czar's small army of engineers and Savants. This vehicle doesn't have a name, only a number – 37. No one knows what happened to the first 36.
Lucus Hatfield, an American inventor who has created an amazing vehicle – it runs on legs rather than wheels (he was showing off to the other racers earlier that day)!
Professor Patricks is the British favorite. The specs and details of his vehicle have been kept top-secret for months, but that hasn't stopped the press from speculating about it.

Algernon thought this was unfair, as all of the top competitors were already well-known in engineering circles (except perhaps Hatfield), and they all had top-notch workshops and many trained assistants to help them. Algernon also mentioned that the winner of the contest wouldn't only make a lot of money, but would be guaranteed to attract the attention of (and possibly membership in) the Circle of Technologists, a professional society of the most brilliant Savants in the world. This alone would be quite an achievement, as they are quite selective about who they welcome into their ranks!

Meanwhile, Morden and ADEN took the train north to Leicester. They immediately rented enough rooms for the rest of the team when they got there (as rooms were filling up fast with people coming to see the race).

Morden took some time to study the race course. He felt certain that this was designed to be some sort of summoning spell, but summoning what? And who would want to do such a thing? He also thought that whatever they were summoning would most likely appear somewhere directly in the middle of the pentagram. But according to the map, there wasn’t much of anything there – just some insignificant farms and manors.

He then rented a carriage to drive down the road to Swinton a few miles. He learned that as soon as you were out of the Leicester city limits, houses and farms grew farther and farther apart. He decided it wouldn’t be hard to sabotage the race course – perhaps eliminate a bridge here, block the road there, that sort of thing. It might not stop the race, but it would certainly slow it down.

ADEN went to the first finish line to see what he could learn. He discovered that security was fairly light. Each competitor was expected to provide his or her own security while their vehicles were parked. The race sponsors’ only duty was to check the cars in as they arrived, to log their time. ADEN learned that there were several checkpoints along the racecourse. Each competitor has to be clocked in at each checkpoint or they would be disqualified for cheating (no shortcuts!).

Furthermore, ADEN learned that there are few rules and no referees along the racecourse, so the sponsors expect things to get rough out there. They fully expect most of the racers to not be able to finish – either due to irreparable damage to their vehicles, or injuries (possibly even deaths!) among the drivers. The young man ADEN talked to seemed rather callous about this, suggesting that “Everyone knows there aren’t no rules. You pay your 20 quid, you take your chances.”

ADEN asked if there was any medical service for injured competitors, and the man shrugged. ADEN sensed a possible way to disrupt the race. “Who would I talk to about providing said services?” he asked.

“Oh, you want to talk to Mr. Blacksmith. He’s in charge of mapping out the course and putting up the checkpoints. We expect him to be here in the morning.” ADEN took note of this and immediately headed to the telegraph office to call the others.

He spoke with Thackary, who had already convinced himself that he needed to join the race in order to keep an eye on things from the inside. The young Savant was already hard at work putting together an electric car, fueled by lightning, ground friction, and the static electricity generated by dozens of cats. Wink

ADEN then contacted Alicia and Savannah and told them what he had learned. Alicia agreed to get on the next train to Leicester, but Thackary wanted Savannah to be his co-pilot – in case things got rough on the racecourse, he wanted someone there who could shoot!

Things were starting to fall into place. Tomorrow, the Great Road Rally would begin!
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teh bunneh
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Joined: 27 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:07 am    Post subject: The Watchmen Recap part 2 Reply with quote

Alicia decided to go pay Mr. Barry Brogan, Esq. a visit. She headed to the First Bank of Ireland and spoke with a clerk. The clerk wasn’t interested in helping her until she “tweaked” his fate-lines and gave him the bright idea to take her to see Mr. Brogan. The suddenly helpful clerk took her to the third floor and introduced her to the solicitor.

Alicia explained that her wealthy husband had recently passed away, and now his family was disputing the will. Mr. Brogan was very sympathetic and told her he would be happy to take her as a client, but that he was very busy for the next couple of days. Could she come back then? “Of course,” she smiled. “Why don’t you call your secretary and I’ll make an appointment.”

While the lawyer was busy arranging that, Alicia used her tiny spy camera to take photos of the papers arrayed on Mr. Brogan’s desk, hoping that they might hold a clue as to the identity of the sponsor of the Great Road Rally. She then hurried to Thackary’s house to see if he could develop the film for her.

One of Alicia’s pictures came out, and through it they discovered that the race was being sponsored by a name named Lord Vaughn Portland. However, nobody had ever heard this name before, so they had no idea who he was or how he was involved.

Meanwhile, in Leicester, ADEN went to find the man in charge of the racecourse, Mr. Blacksmith. The mechanical man offered his “Company’s” services to remove the fallen drivers from the course and bring them to medical attention. Mr. Blacksmith was skeptical at first, but when ADEN told him that he would personally receive 15% of their fees, the man became quite helpful. He gave them a copy of the official racecourse map and a writ that gave them permission to be on the road during the race.

Back in London, the race was about to start. Alicia, Savannah, and Thackary prepped the cat-powered car and brought it to the starting line. They marveled at the wide variety of vehicles there – everything from reasonably mundane steam-powered cars to a bizarre spider-legged contraption. Alicia used her sorceries to hex several of the nearby contestants – if something bad happened on the road, it would happen to them first.

And then the starting gun fired! Most of the vehicles were off like a shot; others were stuck at the starting line as they experienced various mishaps and mechanical failures. Thackary’s cat-mobile found itself somewhere in the middle of the pack – well behind the favored contestants, but well ahead of the slower vehicles.

There was much jockeying for position but no outright violence at first. But once the race passed beyond the city limits and into the sparsely-populated countryside, the knives came out.

Thackary was attempting to catch up with a trio of cars ahead of him when one of them disgorged a load of slippery oil onto the road. The two cars immediately behind it spun out of control and wrecked, but Thackary had just enough time to swerve and avoid the oil slick. Unfortunately, that forced him to drive off the road and into the forest.

Nimbly avoiding trees, rocks, and logs, he managed to keep his vehicle upright and moving. Alicia and Savannah (who didn’t have seatbelts) were hurled around the cabin like tempest-tossed ships. The cats were also not pleased with this turn of events; a few of them escaped from their cages and attacked anything that was handy … which in this case, was Savannah. (Luckily, she’s not a first level D&D Wizard or it could’ve been fatal!). Wink

While they were off-roading, Thackary noticed another off-road vehicle ahead of them. It was Lucus Hatfield and his Bug! The 8-legged machine was racing nimbly over every obstacle in its way and, since it was avoiding the road, it didn’t have to deal with the other drivers’ shenanigans! “Very clever,” Thackary thought to himself.

Finally, the young Savant managed to get his car back on the road. “It’s time for some payback!” Savannah swore. “Catch up with that sunnuvagun with the oil slick, I’ll teach him what-for!” Thackary accelerated to catch up, but the car ahead of him wouldn’t let him pass. “To hell with this!” Savannah said, climbing back up into her turret. She took careful aim with her customized buffalo rifle and shot the offending vehicle’s rear tire out. The car spun out and crashed in a ditch. Savannah blew the cursing driver a kiss as they roared past the wreck.

Then they caught up with the oil slicker. Again, Savannah took careful aim and fired. She hit the car in its engine block. Black smoke poured out and the car sputtered to a halt. The heroes waved jauntily as the drove past.

Meanwhile, back in the north, Morden and ADEN were on the road to meet up with the race halfway (ostensibly to pick up the injured). As they crossed over a stone bridge, Morden had an idea. They stopped the carriage and he climbed down to examine the bridge. Finding the keystone, he cast a spell which would turn the stone into mud. “The first car to go over the bridge should cause the whole thing to collapse,” he said. “Then the other drivers will be forced to find an alternate route!”

About that time, they began to hear explosions and gunfire. They pulled off the road just in time to see Maximilian Schnell’s amazingly-fast car roar past. The car roared over the bridge so quickly that it didn’t have time to collapse.

But then the Brothers Grognard came out of the woods. Their locomotive looked heavy damaged; there were bullet holes all over it and a big part of the back was burnt and dented like it had been hit by an explosive. However, it was still running along just fine… until it crossed the bridge.

The bridge began to buckle as massive vehicle rolled onto it. The Grognards’ locomotive didn’t even make it halfway across before the whole thing collapsed, pitching them into the riverbed. The car directly behind them (Colonel Blastenov) managed to screech to a halt at the edge of the fallen bridge; a few other cars didn’t have such good brakes and were not so lucky.

ADEN contacted Thackary (via his Aetheric Communicator) and warned him of the pitfall, so Thackary turned around and headed for a cutoff. He knew of a village where he could cross the river. Several other cars followed him.

Back at the river, ADEN and Morden were amazed to see Hatfield’s Bug come out of the woods. It paused briefly at the riverbank, then plunged in. Its long legs enabled it to ford the river without problem, and it continued the race. “That’s going to be a difficult vehicle to stop,” ADEN suggested.

Then Professor Patricks’ giant cube-car came along. It too paused at the riverbank. Then a part of the roof detached itself, unfolded over the river, and formed into a temporary bridge! Patricks drove over it and continued on his way. “That’s going to be another tough one to stop,” Morden sighed.

The heroes headed back to the first leg’s finish line to see who made it. Schnell’s electric car came in first, Hatfield’s Bug was second, and Professor Patricks came in third. Thackary somehow managed to make fourth place, and the others rolled in after him.

The first thing Thackary did was find Professor Patricks and congratulate him on his strong finish. “Your vehicle is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!” he gushed. “What else can it do?”

“You’ll have to wait and see,” the Professor said. “I must admit, I was most taken aback when I saw your vehicle and its unconventional power source. I didn’t believe it would work – and yet, here you are. Congratulations to you, my boy!”

Meanwhile, Morden and ADEN were spying on the Russian camp. They wanted to find some way to take Blastenov out of the competition. They had learned through the grapevine that the explosions and gunfire they had heard were initiated by the Czarist. Apparently, he was trying to pass the Grognards’ locomotive. They wouldn’t let him pass and were aggressively trying to bump him off the road. He became infuriated and began to fire missiles at their vehicle. The Grognards shot back, which started a whole firefight between the Colonel, the Freres, and the other drivers on that part of the road.

“The Colonel is the most likely driver to initiate violence,” ADEN suggested. “If we can get him to attack the other drivers, maybe we can have him clear the road for us.” Unfortunately, the Russian encampment was heavily guarded by a large contingent of well-armed Cossacks. They refused to let anyone get close to their camp.

ADEN came up with a way to misdirect the Colonel’s ire. He asked Savannah to take a jug of Tennessee “corn-squeezins”, stuff a rag into it, light the rag on fire, and throw it at the Russian camp. He figured that the Colonel would blame Hatfield for the attack. Unfortunately, the Cossacks were alert for just such a thing. They spotted Savannah trying to sneak up. She bashed one of them on the head with her jug and took off running.

Meanwhile, Alicia figured that the guy to stop was the one who had won the day’s race. She went to the German camp and pretended to be a fan. She danced with the men, drank beer, and was finally introduced to Herr Schnell himself. She poured on the charm and convinced him to take her to see his car. They made out for a while in the back seat, then she charmed him to sleep. While he was snoozing, she contacted Thackary and snuck him in through the back door.

Thackary examined the car. It was an electric vehicle, powered by some unknown means (obviously more efficient than a room full of cats, though). He quickly re-wired parts of it so that it wouldn’t go, and the two heroes snuck back out. “That won’t stop him completely,” Thackary admitted. “He’ll be able to fix it. But he won’t be starting with the rest of us tomorrow morning.”

Tomorrow morning, at dawn, the second leg of the race would begin!

The vehicles of the “Racers to beat”:
Les Frères de Grognard had an enormous locomotive that could run on roads instead of steel rails.
Herr Maximilian Schnell drives a small, nimble, and very fast electric car that looks much like a Formula One racer.
Colonel Blestonov has a large gasoline-powered car. It is very heavily armed, with maxim guns and rocket launchers hidden all over the vehicle.
Lucus Hatfield’s car is called the Bug. It runs on eight spider-like legs and can go over most any type of terrain.
Professor Patricks’ vehicle looks like a giant cube on wheels. When it runs into difficulties on the road, it can apparently change its shape/design to deal with them.
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The Widening Gyre: A Savage Steampunk Setting
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