Darkplane: The Sounding

Part 5: Naphta-Rah
A closer look at the strange fossils yields answers

Players: Rich Abbott (Jack), Matthew Ballantine-Patton (Dr. Graham), Matt Hudson (Edvard), Dawn Brown (Amethyst)

DM: Graham Ward

The morning after their escape from Falbonnach‘s deathtrap hotel, the party decided to check back at the scene, and maybe get into Middlegorge’s room for some more information. They found the city in an uproar. Rumors were flying about Falbonnach’s murder, that the coroner had found the mark of Daemoth beneath his hair, making him a daemon. The discovery apparently warranted an enormous funeral service that was now getting organized in the Temple Square.

The Hotel Tolmeia was under the watch of Nattleburgh’s constabulary. Amethyst used a spell to peer into the window of Middlegorge‘s room, and found it empty and ready for a new guest. They decided it was too dangerous to venture into the hotel vault at present, and so headed to the Heap, the apparent source of the past few days’ strangeness.

On their way to the river, Dr. Graham became aware of a man in rags following them. When they confronted him, he introduced himself as Allman Logue, the leader of a tribe from Wyrgoth. He had come to Nattleburgh looking for the remains of a prophetess of Baturach, the primordial goddess of death and the moon. He insisted that they were in Jack’s possession, showing them all a gem whose blue glow got brighter as it got nearer to Jack. He, for the moment, denied any knowledge of the remains, although he suspected Logue was referring to the fossilized face recovered in the hospital outbreak. Logue accompanied them to the Heap in hopes of recovering whatever had fallen from the sky a few days ago.

They rummaged through the island of trash, finding only a couple items of use. Jack, who was searching the fields beyond the Heap, stumbled on another fossil stone, this one seemingly containing an arm. Beside it lay two dead bodies that glowed with the same smoky luminescence as the infectious cadavers at Bainbrook. One had carried Middlegorge’s signet.

While Logue looked over the bodies, Edvard felt a sting on his hand. Dr. Graham looked at it and, determining it was a bite, called on an old family chant that revealed the presence of poison. Three giant snakes slithered about in the trash and soon lashed out at the group. Their skin too showed signs of the smoky blue light beneath it.

Jack stabbed one of the snakes and it spewed forth a blue gas, which formed into a misty tendril and began attacking of its own accord. A desperate struggle ensued as each time the snakes’ flesh was cut it sent out an eruption of the malevolent blue vapor. The tendrils of mist eventually surged into the fossil stones in Jack’s pack, making them glow with heat.

The snakes congregated around Jack, constricting and biting him in a feeding frenzy. Edvard, Dr. Graham, and Amethyst managed to take them down before he was squeezed to death. Logue ran toward the fray, and another burst of blue smoke surged into the small fossil in his pocket. Before anything more could happen, they high-tailed it to the farmhouse by the river. On their way, they heard a persistent and encroaching baying, as of a wolf or hound. Movements in the nearby brush set them on edge, and they charged into the abandoned farmhouse to recuperate.

Logue explained that the fossils had fallen from heaven, and that they were the remains of Naphta-Rah, the great dead prophetess of Baturach. His people had waited years for her coming, and now he was going to assemble her and make her live again. The infectious blue mist was her essence, now housed in the broken fossil-stones.

It was still early afternoon. Amethyst looked out the windows for a sign of what was hiding in the brush and cornfields, but saw nothing. She picked up a book of local history, hoping it might come in handy. The others made some quick fortifications while they rested, but soon decided it would be better to head to town rather than spend another night here.

Passing through Temple Square, they saw that the funeral was in full swing. Magra Thorne, Nattleburgh’s resident zealot, was giving a frothing sermon about a vision Daemoth had granted her. She claimed to have seen the faces of the daemons living in Nattleburgh. Suddenly turning to the party, she pointed at Cora and shouted, “Her! She is one of the faces revealed to me by God! She is a sacred vessel of Daemoth!”

LOOT:
2 Leather coats
2 fossils
25 Gold Dollars

XP: 145 each

[Giant poisonous snakes: 210 XP
Blue mist: 250 XP
Fossils found: 100 XP
Roleplay: 20 XP

TOTAL: 580 XP / 4 players]

RUMORS:
_Middlegorge had written to Prince Daston asking his help in searching for a certain rare text—the grimoire known as The Letters of Mozralchi. Daston derisively rejected his request.
_

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Part 4: The Kennel
Investigations into the cadaver go terribly awry

Players: Rich Abbott (Jack), Raquel Hartzell (Cora), Matthew Ballantine-Patton (Dr. Graham), Matt Hudson (Edvard), Dawn Brown (Amethyst)

DM: Graham Ward

Amethyst, looking for help, found her way to Mr. Middlegorge‘s Nattleburgh residence at the Hotel Tolmeia on Kennel Street. Before long the Health Minister himself came in and went up to his room. She called and followed him up to the door, but he didn’t seem to hear or react to her in any way. Just before he closed the door behind him, she reached out to touch him on the shoulder, and could swear that her hand went through him entirely.

Jack, Cora, Dr. Graham, and Edvard headed to the address on the body snatcher’s contact form, which coincidentally turned out to be the Hotel Tolmeia. After catching Amethyst up on what happened at Bainbrook, the five investigators hatched a plans to discover what they could about both Middlegorge and the body snatcher.

Amethyst‘s attempt to convince the heathfolk hotel keeper that she was an employee of the Nattleburgh Dog Show was botched by Edvard, whose suspicious and disruptive behavior caused a pack of Looseys to beat and dump him in the alley behind the hotel. Still, Amethyst managed to tear a couple pages from the guest ledger while the hotel keeper wasn’t looking.

The pages revealed that many guests had checked into the large hotel without checking out. To get a closer look, Dr. Graham and Cora posed as illicit guests and were taken up to room 17.Edvard reentered the hotel, not taking the hint, and was knocked unconscious by the Loosey thugs (clearly taking orders from Pollas Falbonnach, the hotel keeper).Amethyst begged food and drink from Falbonnach. When her magical charm failed, a strange look came over the heathfolk and he led her to a back room for a bowl of soup and a cup of sack. Once they were out of sight, Jack snooped into the hotel keeper’s office, since he’d been unable to stop the Looseys from dragging his unconscious brother downstairs.

Dr. Graham and Cora found their room comfortable if a bit sparsely furnished, but before they had much chance to formulate phase two of their plan, the floor began to shift beneath their feet. A hole opened up and they dropped into a dark chamber below the ground floor. AsAmethyst drained her soup-bowl, she started to struggle to breathe. In a corner of the room, she found a draft of some poison gas, and Falbonnach had locked her in.

About this time, Edvard woke up in a dim chamber. A hacked corpse lay across a shelf at the back of the room. Chains and an oddly sadistic harness-rig dangled from the ceiling. He heard Amethyst coughing and shouting above him, and with incredible dexterity climbed the chains and rotated a cog, unlocking the trap door above. Amethyst opened it and dropped down, passing out as she hit the floor.

Jack found a secret passage in Falbonnach’s office, but decided to head down the staircase where Edvard had been dragged. At a turn in the steps, he heard a loud click and got hit with a swinging blade trap, injuring his shoulder. At the bottom of the staircase was a large steel door leading into the chamber where Amethst and Edvard were.

Dr. Graham lit a bug-light, revealing their chamber to be the site of a mass grave. A shovel, sickle, and other odd tools lay across a shelf at the back of the room. Using a sickle, they jimmied open a hidden door and went down a long, narrow hall. In time, they discovered similarly hidden doorways along the hall, leading to the chambers where Jack, Amethyst, and Edvard had been imprisoned. As they regrouped, Pollas Falbonnach appeared at the far end of the narrow hallway with a troupe of Loosey thugs.

A fight broke out in the tight space.Falbonnach seemed to wield some form of dark magic, which he used to corrode the flesh from Jack‘s arm. Amethyst put three of the thugs into a sleep-like trance, and Cora shot several crossbow bolts into the fray. Falbonnach was killed, and the remaining thugs scampered. The investigators lifted some useful items from his body and took their chance to escape the deathtrap through the hidden passage in Falbonnach’s office.

LOOT:
Pollas Falbonnach’s Citizenship Papers (Trentsmund/Layarshoth dual-citizenship)
200 Gold Dollars
Keys to Hotel Tolmeia vault
Letter from Prince Daston to Middlegorge

XP: 96 each

[8 Loosey Thugs defeated: 80 XP
Pollas Falbonnach: 150 XP
Escape from Hotel Tolmeia: 150 XP
Roleplay: 100 XP

TOTAL: 480 XP / 5 players]

RUMORS:
Strange happenings at the Heap (dumping grounds across River Gateway)
Ralph Middlegorge’s corpse found at the National Hospital
Magra Thorne (Etholchan spiritualist) afraid of competitors, especially for Lady Tallick and Middlegorge

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Part 3: Believing is Seeing
Reality starts to come apart inside haunted Bainbrook

Players: Rich Abbott (Jack), Raquel Hartzell (Cora), Matthew Ballantine-Patton (Dr. Graham), Matt Hudson (Edvard)

DM: Graham Ward

As the commotion upstairs set their hair on end, Dr. Graham glanced back at the morgue-drawer holdingthe Piper’s body. Where the back wall should have been, the compartment became a dark, narrow crawl space. Cora, being the smallest, agreed to check it out and found a long, steep stair descending into the dark. A slopping sound echoed up the stone passage from below.

At the Health Minister‘s insistence, the group abandoned the investigation and sneaked up to see what had happened to Jack. Wading through more phantasmal hauntings, they reached the room where the Piper’s followers had brought them the last time they were captured. Upon being seen, the companions offered themselves up as “converts.”

While the Piper prepared to baptize them in his own blood, which he horrifically cut from his arms with a bonesaw, Jack was busy wrenching his wrists free of their bonds. Just as the bowls of blood were about to be poured on them, he leaped up and threw a bowl in the Piper’s face, blinding him. A fight broke out, and the captive investigators were one by one pummeled to the ground by 25 fanatical inmates. Middlegorge was overpowered, and Dr. Graham thought he saw the Minister biting at the shoulder and neck of his attacker. From that point on, the swelling in his lips was gone, as if the deformity had never been.

Just before he was knocked out, Edvard sensed inexplicably that none of the events were real. But before he could wish the illusions away, he was felled by the cultists. Cora, however, sent a psychic message to the others as she bent her will on making the Piper disappear. He went up like smoke, and one by one the investigators dismissed his ghostly followers with a thought.

The hospital now seemed to have reverted back to its natural state. Dr. Graham noticed a familiar face among the corpses piled beneath the Piper’s “throne.” Closer inspection revealed that it was his own face. The body was dressed in his clothes, the face smeared with black fluid like the others who were killed in the initial outbreak. Even the spectacles were the right prescription. If this was indeed real, he felt it couldn’t portend anything good.

The group checked the doors for a way out. All were barred from the outside, including the door accessing the roof. With no other options, and the wee hours of morning setting in, they decided to get some sleep.

Waking around midday, they descended into the narrow passage behind the morgue, against the wishes of some. At the bottom they found a dark, three-tiered laboratory filled with operating tables. On the tables lay an assortment of patients, drugged or dead, who had been operated on in sadistic ways. Some had amputated limbs, replaced (in cases) with tentacles or other animal members. Many were deformed in ways foreign to the natural world. All told, it was an overwhelming discovery. Notes beside each patient seemed to log details of surgical research.

To one side of the chamber sat a water-filled vat with a grate over it. Dr. Graham magically illuminated an object and dropped it in, discovering that the vat was actually an extremely deep well, and that something alive was down there. Beyond the vat was a door to an extravagantly equipped operation chamber, adjoined by observation cells filled with people. The inmates down here had freakishly swollen mouths, with long teeth and inflamed gums. Seeing Graham, they pressed against the glass portholes lustily.

During all this, Middlegorge had stayed back, but as the others examined the notes and inmates in this last chamber, he began to object. Things got heated between him and Jack, and Middlegorge went at him with a surgical knife. He got Jack’s own knife in his gut.

The group argued for some time over what to do with the knowledge they had uncovered. Middlegorge’s notes, which they found near the operating table, detailed an affliction that he needed cured. The operations, at least in this final chamber, were an effort to discover treatment—evidently on his behalf. He required living flesh to survive, but the research was nearing a breakthrough. By abducting infected Welluxian refugees and testing them, he and his doctors had almost discovered a substance that could substitute for flesh.

Eventually, Cora stood up to Jack, and he agreed to let the sadistic minister live. In return, Middlegorge led them to another hidden exit—a ruined tunnel that exited at the other end of the hospital grounds. Cora slipped through the fallen stone and unbarred the back door of Bainbrook. The party stepped out into the afternoon sun, and Nattleburgh seemed back to normal, for now.

LOOT:
Three lanterns
300 feet of rope

XP: 160 each

[25 Madmen defeated: 500 XP
The Piper defeated: 60 XP
Discovery of Middlegorge’s secret: 50 XP
Roleplay: 30 XP

TOTAL: 640 XP / 4 players]

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Part 2: The Body Snatcher
Survivors return to Bainbrook for information

Players: Rich Abbott (Jack), Raquel Hartzell (Cora), Matthew Ballantine-Patton (Dr. Graham), Matt Hudson (Edvard)

DM: Graham Ward

During the night, Cora woke to see the nurse slipping out the front door of the farmhouse. The group followed, leaving Middlegorge to sleep on. The fields leading to the river were overgrown, as if a forest had sprung up in the last two hours. Strange hauntings began happening as they walked through the wood, and Cora got separated from the others. While wandering through the trees, Jack climbed one to get an idea of his location. Looking out to Nattleburgh, he saw that it too was overgrown with trees. Something wasn’t right.

He and the others made it back to the farmhouse in one piece, but shaken by frightening things seen in the ghostly forest. They started talking about returning to the city to see what was going on. Middlegorge told them he had been in the lecture where the outbreak started. When the surgeon had cut open a cadaver, it released a gaseous spray that quickly infected everyone in the rotunda. Finding information on that body, he said, would be key to discerning these strange events. He also revealed that Jack’s brother Edvard, long missing, had been found and admitted to Bainbrook several days ago. All five of the survivors agreed to go.

Reaching the city, they found it somewhat unfamiliar. Entire buildings were missing, some replaced by older-looking structures, and there was an odd growth of trees everywhere. The overgrown streets were thronged with people wandering. Many of them had fatal-looking wounds, injuries they could never have survived.

Few of these walking corpses took any notice of the group as they approached Bainbrook, not even the soldiers who were apparently still guarding the hospital grounds. They didn’t bat an eye as Dr. Graham unbarred the back door and ushered everyone inside. He barricaded the door securely from the inside.

The hospital had changed in the hours since their escape. Whereas before it had been filled with the silent corpses of the infected, it was now bustling with noise. Orderlies walked the halls, some escorting lines of naked inmates. Like the figures in the streets outside, they only vaguely sensed the presence of the perplexed investigators.

Middlegorge led them to the patient records to find Edvard‘s cell number, which was upstairs on the way to the Health Minister’s office. They found Edvard sitting contentedly in his open cell, and he agreed to go with them, though he didn’t seem to accept the fact that he was Jack’s brother.

In Middlegorge’s office, they found a contact form for the anonymous supplier who had sold the body to the hospital (complete with an address, but no name). Cora lifted some notes regarding “The Letters of Mozralchi”—evidently some ancient text he was researching—and others regarding certain individuals, notably Lady Morgan Tallick. Dr. Graham noticed a conspicuous crate of stolen medical supplies with the labels removed.

Without warning, a group of inmates appeared at the office door and tried to overpower the investigators, who recognized them as followers of the Piper. Three of the inmates were killed in the struggle, and the others fled. Dr. Graham treated Cora, who was badly hurt in the fight.

The party descended into the basement, where they could get a look at another body brought in with the infected cadaver. It had a strange, smoky luminescence beneath the skin. Thinking this couldn’t bode well, they loaded the body into the incinerator and cremated it. Just before the flames turned on, Edvard saw the body lurch upward as if to escape.

Suddenly, footsteps sounded on the stairs down to the basement. The investigators hid in morgue drawers as the Piper and his followers entered the room, held a sermon, and left. When they emerged from the drawers, the party found one open. It contained a deformed body with only one eye visible—the same eye that peered out from the single hole in the Piper’s hood.

Jack climbed the stairs to see if the coast was clear. He was spotted by the Piper and his followers, who chased him through the halls of the hospital. They caught up to him as he tried to unbar the back door. Hooded and knocked unconscious, he was carried off while his companions listened uneasily from the morgue.

LOOT:
Middlegorge’s notes
Contact form for anonymous body snatcher

XP: 88 each

[10 Madmen defeated: 200 XP
Investigate Body Supplier: 100 XP
Roleplay: 50 XP

TOTAL: 350 XP / 4 players]

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Part 1: Outbreak
Locked in Bainbrook with a strange infection

Players: Rich Abbott (Jack), Raquel Hartzell (Cora), Matthew Ballantine-Patton (Dr. Graham), Dawn Brown (Amethyst)

DM: Graham Ward

The city guard arrived at Bainbrook in the early evening and locked the doors, just as all hell broke loose. The nurses, patients, doctors, and visitors began weeping a dark, inky substance from their eyes, mouths, and nostrils, followed by outbursts of psychosis and extreme aggression.

Several individuals showed no symptoms of the strange infection: Dr. Graham (a resident surgeon) and his shady associate Jack Bedford were joined by Amethyst (a medium) and Cora Winterfield (a young woman in the care of one of Bainbrook’s nurses) as they examined a set of infected bodies in the northwest psych ward. The inmates had apparently each succumbed to the strange breakdown and killed one another—and the orderly positioned there—in a bout of delirious rage.

Just as they got a sense of what was happening, the locked doors of the rotunda burst, filling the hospital corridors with the murderous Infected. Jack managed to shut them out of the northwest ward, but the group was trapped inside. Amethyst convinced a guard outside to fetch Dr. Rankin, the man in charge of this impromptu quarantine. Rankin explained that something airborne in the hospital was spreading very quickly, and that these five (including the nurse with them) were the only survivors they knew of. But, he said, it was only a matter of time before everyone inside succumbed.

They began to hear scratching, pounding, and shouts from an adjoining padded cell. Just as the commotion within became unnerving (“They’re not going to get it out of me! The Piper protects me!”), they agreed to unlock the door with the nurse’s keys.Dr. Graham used the dead orderly’s body as a shield while Jack swung the door open, revealing an empty chamber. Fresh blood dripped along scratch marks on the inside of the door, but there was no one within.

With mounting uneasiness, they opened the next cell. The confined inmate, Roderick, showed no sign of infection, so he was armed while they prepared to open the third cell—beyond which was a sheltered path toward the north doors of the hospital. From behind this last door came moans and growls similar to those heard from the other Infected. Preparing for the worst, Jack laid several corpses across the doorway, and the entire group withdrew into the larger common room. Dr. Graham opened the door, threw the orderly’s body toward the aggressor, and darted back through the two padded cells into the common room. The infected man lunged at them. Jack threw a dagger in his shoulder, which he pulled out and lobbed back. Just then, a cold, palpable dread hit the room. Cora, unbeknownst to the others, used her dark powers to swing open the cell door, which knocked the charging inmate to the ground.

The infected man was put down, but at that moment Roderick cursed behind them. A dark liquid poured down his face into his hand. Jack turned on a dime, kicked him into the storage closet, and locked the door.

Pressing on, the survivors saw a feral child, several corpses, and a few unafflicted inmates within the various cells along the back hall. They came to a locked door, behind which could be heard crying, moaning, and the stamp of bare feet. Peering in, Jack saw a dozen or so naked inmates, covered in filth and severely neglected. At the back of the room, a man was roughly holding a woman down. Without a second thought, Jack put a dagger in his back, only to find that the woman was herself afflicted.

Shepherding the wretched mental patients into the back halls and its cells, they moved on, stopping to search the body of a well dressed man lying dead in the filthy room. In his jacket they found a bizarre stone, about six inches in diameter, with some sort of fossil embedded in it. Amethyst recognized something face-like about the pale image trapped in the fossil, something almost unearthly.

Reaching the north exit, they found the doors barred from the outside. The ground floor was silent—bodies, infected or otherwise, were strewn about. They found the front doors likewise barred.

They decided to make their way to the roof. Dr. Graham pinched a few medical supplies: morphine, bandages, antiseptics, etc. At the top of the east stair they ran into Ralph Middlegorge, the King’s Health Minister. Graham treated his broken leg (with a touch of disguised rune-magic) and they moved on to a supply room where they could make a tether to lower each other down from the roof.

After stripping a bed of linens, they turned to find a group of oddly chipper inmates blocking their exit. Mention was made of making an “offering” of the “intruders.” The standoff became violent, and each of the survivors was grabbed, hooded, and dragged to another part of the hospital. Each of them, that is, except for Jack, whose aggressive reaction to the inmates’ threats causedDr. Graham to speak a warding word in the ancient Maahivek, preventing anyone from harming him. As the inmates dragged his companions to a dormitory, Jack followed close behind.

Their hoods were removed. They were kneeling before an altar or throne, constructed of an iron-framed cot and a pile of bodies. Atop the cot sat a man in an unfastened strait-jacket and a sack hood with a single eye-hole. Something about his head seemed misshapen beneath the hood. He introduced himself as the Piper and proceeded to rave cryptically that God was dead, that he and his followers had been freed from cruelty, yet didn’t wish to leave Bainbrook. Asthe Piper circled the room, Jack reached in, snatched him, and cut his throat. The 30 or so inmates went ballistic, chasing Jack murderously through the hospital corridors.

It was just the chance the others needed. They quickly snatched the dropped linens, scaled the stairs, and lowered themselves from the roof to the bushes near the north doors. A mental instruction from Amethyst drew Jack there, where his companions unbarred the doors just in time for him to escape the pursuing psychopaths.

Having made it out of Bainbrook strangely unafflicted, Cora, Amethyst, Graham, Jack, Minister Middlegorge, and the hysterical nurse together crept across the river into an apparently empty farmhouse outside the city limit. Will they escape the strange infection, or is it really just a matter of time? What’ll become of Bainbrook? Who is the Piper and what do he and the unafflicted inmates of the hospital have planned for Nattleburgh?

LOOT:
Medical supplies: 6 healing kits, 10 healing “potions” (morphine)
Money purse: 7 gold dollars
2 long swords
Fossil

XP: 45 each

[3 Madmen killed: 15 XP
Escaping Bainbrook: 100 XP
Clever spell use: 40 XP
Roleplay: 25 XP

TOTAL: 180 XP / 4 players]
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Welcome to the Campaign

Hi guys. This is where you can look for updates, game summaries, characters, and world info in our new campaign. I’ll be emailing links to the adventure logs as we go, but you can always come here to check out locations, people, and plot points that we cover. I’ll also add your characters to the site as I get the info from you. See you soon.

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