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Author Topic: [Conspiracy of Shadows] Dog Day Afternoon  (Read 3650 times)
Keith Senkowski

Posts: 725

On A Downward Spiral...

« on: August 09, 2004, 02:57:30 PM »


So Thursday last night we ran through Episode 003, Dog Day Afternoon, of Season One of Conspiracy of Shadows.  You can read about the Episodes and the Pilot that led up to this one here.

Day One
It started out simply enough.  The small caravan of survivors from Vaslo arrived at a caravansary just as the blizzard was starting to hit.  They pulled into the walled compound and made their way into the main building, with Father Danya taking the sick girl up stairs to a room.  Shortly after they arrived a lone, and disturbed looking fellow also arrived.  They set themselves up at one of the two long tables in the common room and spoke a little with the lone traveler (Rud).  He was obviously disturbed about something and kept mumbling about a monstrous face in the swirling snow and the disappearance of his father and brother.

After a short time, they met the leader of the caravansary, Slavick.  It turns out that Slavick is in actuality a bandit and all the guards (30+) are his men.  Too bad for our travelers that etiquette makes you check your weapons at the door.  After some getting to know you time and learning that everyone was staying put until the storm let up, the sick little girl was heard screaming upstairs.

Our protagonists (Humberto, Shovan, Rud and Elek) raced upstairs with several bandits.  Father Danya was found in the hallway leading the sobbing girl back to a room with an ashen face.  The room from which he led her at one time held two bandits, one who was sick and a healer.  The sick one had his chest ripped open and gore was everywhere.  The other had his throat ripped open.  Also the window was broken and blood was on the window sil.  Slavick ordered everyone downstairs in the common room, men outside to search for signs of the attacker and to set ten men and the smith to guard the stables (which has the smithy at one end).

Protagonists talk with Father Danya who mentions that some of the sick man's organs are missing.  They all suspect the supernatural and Humberto takes some of his books downstairs to do a little research.  As they come downstairs, one of the bandits bursts into the main building yelling that the stables are on fire.  The characters ask if they can help and Slavick practically throws buckets at them.

The blaze takes several hours to get under control and put out.  Half the stables and the smithy are burned to cinders.  In the rubble they discover four bodies (bandits) and a gapping hole in the eastern wall of the smithy and the palisade behind it.  The splinter pattern (after some investigation) indicates that something broke into the caravansary instead of break out.  They also learn that the smith is unaccounted for.

That night the guards are drawn inside (blizzard is still bad) and is punctuated by falling snow and howling winds.  The common room and the rooms upstairs of the main building are jammed with folks.

Day Two
The morning begins with one of the serving girls noting that fat Pedar (the cook) is missing.  He was sleeping next to the common room fireplace, but his blanket is empty.  Elek pokes in the low fire and finds a fat severed hand slowly roasting.  He also notices that there are areas in the chimney that seem to be missing any soot.

Slavick sends men to search the compound and agrees to arm the protagonists and let them investigate the roof.  They make their way up there and find three things.  1) Most of the snow around the chimney has been melted and formed into ice. 2) Fat Pedar's fat leg is there, frozen to the roof and looks to have been gnawed upon. 3) There is a frozen footprint that looks like it came from a giant bird with very thick toes.

They hack out the evidence and bring it down with them.  Before they can share the information, an argument breaks out between Slavick and 5 of his men.  Nikoli and four others decide that they would rather chance it in the cold than stay at this place one more night.  Elek and Rud, both men of the outdoors note that the storm has picked up and that without shelter there is little to no chance of surviving.  They leave anyway.

The day goes very slowly and Shovan succumbs to the bottle.  Slavick decides to board up all the windows in the in.  In the early evening, they hear yelling from upstairs.  They find one of the guards come running out of a room of billowing smoke.  It turns out he knocked over a lantern onto a bed when he was checking the boards.  The fire is put out and Slavick has everyone move into the common room.  They also board up the stairs going to the second floor and the hearths to the two kitchen fireplaces.

During the first watch of the night they hear banging on the front door and frantic yelling.  It wakes everyone up and the door is opened.  It is Nikoli and one of the fellows he left with.  Bear (the other fellow) is dead with his frozen entrails hanging out of his body.  He is left outside and the raving Nikoli is brought in (Darkness with claws!  The heat, my god it burned!) but isolated in the kitchen.  Slavick and Yuri spend the night in the kitchen with him.

Day Three
In the morning Nikoli is found to have committed suicide and Slavick and Yuri are drunk in the cellar and singing battle hymns to the triumphant dead.  They come upstairs and get their men excited about going out and battling this thing.  Then they hear a crashing upstairs.  Humberto orders everyone who can't or won't fight into the basement, which includes about half the shaken bandits at this point.  The remainder draw steel and face the boarded stairwell, hearing heavy footsteps and a growling croak (you have to hear me do it in person to understand).  There is a great blast and the wooden boards splinter and turn into weapons killing 3 bandits (think cannon balls on ships).  

Then they see it.  It is a Balzeer.  A seven foot tall, black lizard thing with webbed and clawed hands.  Its mouth is like a frogs bit filled with rows of sharp death like a shark.  It's skin, though black, is covered in cracks which glow red.  It radiates heat and is surrounded by the shimmer of the waves.

All the bandits but Yuri and Slavick panic.  Elek also panics and runs outside in fright.  The thing croaks and several of the protagonists are stunned.  Slavick charges the thing, fails to hit it.  The Balzeer charges into him and together they fly into the weapon check.  It gets up, but Slavick does not.  Several other attacks fail on it then it growl-croaks at Shovan and he is flash burned (tons of damage) and is mortally wounded.  He charges and scores an amazing hit, nearly cutting the thing in two but is then cut down by the creature before it bounds off into the snow dripping steaming blood that melts the snow where it lands.  Yuri, drunk and insane with bloodlust tore off after it and that is where we faded to black.

This episode worked out rather nicely.  I went into it with a rough outline of events for 4 days and just winged it from there.  I only had a few names of characters ready but didn't even stat out the monster.  Some nice things that came out that were surprises was the humanization of Slavick that occurred the night of Day One (they learned his story, which I completely winged when one character had a beer with him and asked him how he got into this business).  One player even said, I don't want to kill this guy anymore.  It helped shift the focus on surviving the encounter with the beast.

The red herrings worked out nicely and helped keep the tension high.  I was trying to create a situation somewhere between Alien and Dog Day Afternoon, and for the most part it worked out well except I think a few more red herrings would have been nice, but I fumbled on the discovery of the first dead body (the little sick girl they picked up on the road was supposed to be found covered in their blood).  However, now that I look back on it I should have extended the opening scene prior to appearance of the beast.  However I was concerned that the protagonists would have not come to join the bandits in a desire for mutual protection.

Another thing that was pretty cool was the creature.  I had a rough idea and one of the Players supplied me with four demons it could be form his research and I just went from there.  I was even able to figure out how all the pieces (bandits, demon, victims) all fit together.  On a whole I think this was the most successful episode to date and it all happened in one night.


Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
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