Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

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ChrisDDickey
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Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by ChrisDDickey » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:55 am

It was a rainy evening, and a good portion of the children had congregated within the village school, not for lessons, but hoping that Old Cusa would be inclined to tell a story of his youth, he did not disappoint. 

Our next real adventure was about a month later. Carnavon and I had gotten fairly well acquainted as we worked to decipher Professor Nices papers. Miss Catherine Montgomery had been leading that project, but unfortunately her family felt it politic to disassociate herself from us, so that was the last time she worked with us for a while. We had managed to decrypt some interesting magical writings that described (in hermetic terms that were pretty alien to me) a spell that he called "Gilded Mask" that allowed a person to change their face such that they looked like a different person. We had also translated some journal sections that told a very little about a horrible organization called "the Sons of Thoth", and how they had arranged to get Professor Grundel addicted to Spithy so that they could force him to do stuff. There were a few hints about the Sons of Thoth's maneuvers vs another criminal organization. 

Anyway, we had kept quite busy working on those journals and were not the 10th part of the way though them when a messenger boy arrived from the Fairiday Law firm asking us to stop by immediately. We had a meeting with Mr Greer and Mr Willliams which Mrs Kippling was there to transcribe. Our team for this meeting was myself, plus Lord Carnavon and a new acquaintance, named McGraph. He was an American chemist from Ohio. They explained the problem, and we agreed to take it on for 5 pounds per day, plus expenses. 

The problem was a new drug that was being abused by the lowlifes of the city. It's street name was "Bang Snuff", and it makes the user very aggressive and violent. Several users had been killed by police or others trying to stop their rampage. The London police are not generally not given to shooting people without reason, but from all accounts, the madmen were very dangerous and could not be stopped with anything less than a killing blow. A few others had been delivered to local asylums as "burned out". These burned out ones were incapable of rational communication. The police were extremely concerned, but had been unable to find out who was making the drug, nor who was distributing them. 

We were given a contact within the police that we could coordinate with. It was Police Constable Wesley Campbell, who worked out of the Southward station. We talked to him, and he gave us what little the police already knew and agreed to let us look at his files. Plotting the incidents on a map, we agreed that there seemed to be two epicenters, one in Wapping, and one in Bethnal Green. He knew that some of the victims from Bethnal Green had been known to frequent a low-class tavern called the Inverness Titan. 

The next morning we used a letter of introduction to visit the Wapping Coroner, Dr. Sulivin. McGrath did some chemical tests upon a recent drug users blood, and upon a vial the victim had. He found traces of a yellow snuff, that appeared to be organic of sort, Most of seemed to possibly be an Animal byproduct, though there were signs of other chemicals as well. I did an autopsy and found the person had been killed by 5 bullets from a pistol (any two of which should have been more than sufficient to lay out a normal person), but his heart showed heavy damage, and there were clear signs of liver damage as well. Absent the bullets, he would have been unlikely to live more than a few weeks more if he continued to take the drug.  I also spoke to a Hearth Spirit that resided in the coroner's office, but while it was a very fun conversation, it was ultimately unhelpful. 

We questioned the Wapping coroners receptionist, and he mentioned that a snark called The Roseman was the sort of person who knew what might be happening. 

We went to the Inverness Titan for lunch. It was a thoroughly disreputable pub. We had a plan. Carravin sat alone, while McGrath and I sat together. As we talked, McGrath loudly mentioned that we had just come from visiting a relative of his who had been assaulted, and been told that his assailant had been high on Bang Stuff. As soon as the drug was mentioned a little fellow in a green jacket came up and kicked us out of the pub. We later learned that his name was Scanty, and had been arrested prior for smuggling and violence associated with smuggling. After McGrath and I were kicked out, we left and I summoned a spirit to follow the green jacketed man. When the man left, Carravin tried to follow him, but was spotted and Scanty shook him off his tail, but Scanty was not able to shake off the spirit I had following him in Astral Space, so the spirit reported that he had eventually gone to an abandoned factory with huge smokestacks of brick very near the lime-house peer. 

Slimcreeper
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Re: Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by Slimcreeper » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:04 am

I'll have you know the conversation with the coroner's hearth spirit was perfectly helpful. You just need to supply his office with more dead bodies and they'll be happy to help.

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Andrew1879
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Re: Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by Andrew1879 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:44 pm

Is this a coroner or a Promethean?

Slimcreeper
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Re: Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by Slimcreeper » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:21 pm

Oh, not the coroner! The little spirit who took up residence in the coroner’s office! It just knows that the more bodies the more important its office is. So it figures more dead bodies > less dead bodies, so it wants more dead bodies. Coroner is mundane, has no idea he has a spirit hustling to get him more work.

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Andrew1879
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Re: Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by Andrew1879 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:17 pm

Hm. If its domain increases in importance, and the coroner has enough work he needs an assistant, the spirit could gain power from that. Does this spirit have a name yet? If not, Burke is perhaps a little obvious.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by Slimcreeper » Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:12 am

He was actually generated spontaneously when the shaman rolled Astral Sense. You know as much as I do 😅

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Andrew1879
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Re: Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by Andrew1879 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:41 pm

Improv skills are the GM's best friend. OTOH, as Alan Dean Foster said in Nor Crystal Tears, "Spontaneity is one of the great joys in life - especially if you prepare for it in advance."

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by ChrisDDickey » Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:32 pm

Cuso's tale continues. 

We took a cab to the Limehouse area, and had the cabbie drive us past both the front and back of the place that had been described to us. The place was an old factory, that had been split up into shops, many of them since abandoned. The specific place was a boarded up shop. It had one armed guard out front on Garford Street, and 2 guards out back on Park Street. 

We found a place where we could observe the front, and saw some sketchy characters coming and going. Noticing that one of the guards smoked a pipe, we devised a cunning plan to incapacitate him We went to a tobacconist and obtained a pouch of a posh type of tobacco. At a chemist, we obtained some opium, which we mixed into the tobacco. Lord Carnavon then walked past and, while fishing in his pocket, dropped the pouch right in front of the guard. Unfortunately a young urchin picked up the pouch, and Carnavon had to retrieve the poisoned pouch from him. 

After sunset we decided to follow one a pair of toughs who had visited the boarded up shop. We got separated for a while, and only Lord Stark was there to see the toughs get rousted by a pair of Peelers. Carnavon and I arrived to find Stark examining some familiar vials the Peelers had taken from the toughs. One of the young men managed to bolt away. Stark told the Bobby that the vials contained Bang Snuff, and that PC Westly Campbell was investigating that, and that we knew the location the Bang Stuff was being made. I choked when he said that, because while he was addressing the Bobby, the one young tough was RIGHT THERE! So I jumped into the conversation and asked if the bobby could arrange it such that the arrested suspect could not be allowed to pass any messages on until a raid on the place could be arranged. The other Bobby then returned with the arrested tough that got away, which everybody felt was a major save of the situation, but that tough had not been present when Stark told everybody within earshot that the location of the drug lab was now known. 

Anyway, the Bobbies who arrested the two toughs were very helpful, and agreed to undertake to keep the young men under wraps for a period of time, and gave us a note that allowed us to pass a message through official channels to PC Campbell. We got our message sent, but when we had not gotten a reply in an hour, we decided it was important that we raid the place ourselves now, rather than give them any more time to learn that their location was known and they move the lab. 

We went back to Limehouse, and saw that the guards had been changed. We decided to invest a few minutes in the tobacco pouch ruse again, and this time it worked. Lord Stark dropped the Heroin laced pouch in front of the rear guards, who proceeded to smoke it. I assume they thought that the Heroin smoke was just how posh tobacco smelled. Anyway, they were pretty sluggish and moderately easier to subdue when we walked past and suddenly and silently fell upon them. It took a little while, but we knocked them both out without an alarm being raised. Then two of us went to the front of the house and double-teamed the guard there. 

The plan was then for two of them to enter from the back of the house, while I entered from the front of the house, but there was some confusion, as I entered from the front, and went all the way to the back door, waking up the two sleeping in that back room, before the two lords finally entered, so since we were all gathered by the back door, we did not catch anybody by surprise from the rear. Fortunately our opponents were befuddled by sleep for a short while. In the fight downstairs, one of the men ran away, but the other was a tough Irishman, who took quite a licking to subdue. During the fight we saw a woman peeking down the stairs at us. 

When we went upstairs, a crazy woman threw a lantern at some junk, which started a fire, she then attempted to go out the fire escape. I summoned a water spirit to fight the fire and we all attempted to capture the woman, which we eventually kind of did. She raved a bit about how we had no idea what sort of powerful forces were protecting her, and attempted to use some sort of magical amulet, which burned her hand almost to a cinder. I did an Astral Sense which told me that it was the amulet which was enchanted, the woman was not awakened. We relieved her of the amulet, and anything else that looked dangerous. 

There had been gunshots fired in the fight downstairs, so the police were finally on their way. We had just a few minutes to search the house. The lab (upstairs) was very weird. Lord Stark, the chemist, said that their equipment was shaped weird, and there was no scientific reason for some of the shapes and processes, however I could tell that some of the glass-work and tubing and whatnot was in shapes that were very magically significant, and formed magical sigils. Among the workings was a skull. It was human sized, but was not human, as it had a long snout, such as a fish or reptile might have. Some of the notes appeared to be written in the same weird ancient language that had so far been unable to identify from professor nices notes. 

Downstairs there was a metal lockbox, which I subverted by the simple method of summoning a Metal Elemental from the box itself. Inside it were some very detailed accounts of their sales,and the transfer of funds to something called the Hesperidin Society. It was nice of the criminals to provide the police such detailed records. There was also some coin and cash. I liberated 15 pounds as a bonus for ourselves. 
When the police finally arrived, we preteneded not to know what was in the lockbox (which we had put all the papers back in, relocked, and dismissed the metal elemental. However we did volunteer to go over any papers that might be found within. 

The next day I had Lord Stark sketch the skull for Gatsha back at my shaman lodge, a man who is very familiar with the Saurids of the Gruv. I also asked him to sketch what he could remember of the glasswork of the lab for the Alchemests of the Lodge, to see how alchemically significant the arrangement was. 

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Andrew1879
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Re: Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by Andrew1879 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:19 pm

Lacing the tobacco with opium was a clever use of period habits and item availability. Using a metal elemental to subvert the strongbox I hadn't seen before - previous groups had picked the lock, or in one case had a troll rip the box open.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Big Trouble in Little Soho [Spoilers]

Post by ChrisDDickey » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:41 pm

Cuso continues his storytelling...

It took a while for the police to figure out which shop the gunshots they had heard were coming from, it was a while before they finally burst in. We took the time to look over the scene a bit closer, and then I had to treat the crazy woman for shock. Her hand was nothing but a charred stub, that needed the serious attention of a surgeon, but her mind seemed broken as well. She claimed to not remember anything of the last 10 years, thinking that the date was in March of 1868. I looked again at the Amulet that had burned her, and in Astral Sight it was dark with corruption, but it's enchantment, while clearly had been active recently, was not presently active. We again looked at the lab area, and I studied the warding upon it, which seemed to be a containment ward. 
At 2nd glance, the glassware was clearly alchemical in nature, but not according to the laws of magic that shamans know, nor did it seem the sort of thing that mages of my acquaintance used. The organization of it seemed wholly alien (and corrupt). 
Lord Caravon looked again at the writings, and mentioned that he new of a certain Dr Toprac at the university who might be able to read such a weird language. 
We talked to the police, and offered to be of whatever assistance we could. We had them contact Police Constable Campbell, who arrived and agreed that there was still much to be done. He suggested that we might talk to a Professor McQuire at the museum to look at the dinosaur skull. I also made a mental note to sketch out the skull for my friend and mentor Gatsha. Both my companions had wounds, so I bandaged them up a bit. 
The next day, though my companions were still wounded and bruised, we decided to continue our investigations by talking to Dr Toprac, an expert in Semitic languages at the university. I mean going to a university library practically qualifies as bed rest does it not? Alas, it did not. We arrived, and were told by a Matron that since we did not have an appointment, we would have to wait. While waiting my companions heard some suspicious activity from the area where the Matron had went, and we got up and followed the direction she had gone. We arrived to find a woman dressed in green holding a small pistol on an academic that turned out to be Dr Toprac, and two thugs manhandling the matron. 
A fight ensued. The three criminals were very well suited to brawling. The woman in green (whom I later learned was named Miss Murry) cast spells that looked as if she was exhaling fire. One of the Thugs used brass knuckles to punch, while I seem to recall that the other had a firearm of some type. My companions and I were not used to violence, and in fact I distinctly recall one of them spent most of the fight using the pistol he carried as a short club. In fact of the five of us, the matron turned out to be the most effective brawler, neatly levering one of the thugs off of a nearby balcony. I tried to cast my Spiritual Defender spell and draw fire, but while I was successful in drawing the fire, my spell kept fizzling out with little or no effect. After Miss Murry cast her flame spell upon me, I attempted to grapple her in the hope that she would suffer from her spell as well as I was. 
The thug that the matron had thrown from the balcony decided to try limping away, and I had the woman in a grapple when the police showed up. The other thug then climbed out the window, and one of the constables to custody of Miss Murry, She got a look of exhilaration on her face, monologued briefly, and suddenly a great heat started to emanate from her. When I saw her clothing begin to smoke I called a warning for everybody to take cover, and jumped out of a nearby window, putting a nice solid stone wall between her and me. The constable was not as quick, and was right next to her when she burst into an incandescent flame that consumed her almost utterly. It was exactly like the fire that consumed the crazy ladies hands the night previously, but 100 times bigger, leaving nothing but ashes and melted bits of slag. Everything flammable in the room was on fire, Everybody quickly worked to put out the fire, and I got policeman, who was almost dead from the combustion out and stabilized. Fortunately the medical school hospital was just across the courtyard. 
Dr Toprac said that he did not know why the group wanted to kidnap him. The police had apprehended a thug, whom they let us talk to. The said he had been working with Miss Murry for a couple of weeks, and said that if he could get assurances of safety, he could tell us more about the Hesperidian Society. He claimed to know about it's headquarters and distribution center. He wanted out of town, and we finally agreed to take an offer of a deal to the powers that be. If instead of arresting him, they would enlist him in the Royal Navy and ship him away from England immediately, he would give us (and the police) all the information he knew.  We agreed to go to the authorities and work towards that deal, but we told him it would undoubtedly take several days. 

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