Through the Breach

Midnight Mashup
The Party reinforce and defend their new HQ

126543518667.jpgAfter clearing out the Blood-soaked Arena during the Quarantine Zone Quarrel, Mr. H’s Five began to worry about the nightfall descending on the Quarantine Zone. Dr. Horniege recommended the Party salvage anything they can from the Arena to shore up the defenses of the building.

In short, the Arena appeared to have four entry points. The wide, common audience entrance they first used, two smaller service entrances, and a sizable hole in the overhead dome of the ceiling. Around the stadium and the storage attics above, the Party found various materials to stopper these entries.

Numerous pots and rotting casks contained three useful fluids were found; Blackfire Poison, Liquid Soot, and Gremlin’s Spit. In addition to these, random bits of timber, wooden boxes, armor, melee weapons, and six Contender Flasks were also collected. With these, the Party placed these resources in various arrangements at each entry point to board up any Neverborn threat. During this time, Horniege unpacked his steam trunk and began to replicate his workshop. After several hours of work, Night finally arrived.

While the first hours of the first night watch yielded no threats (but by no means was silent), around midnight, knocking visitors began to announce their presence around the Arena. With the Party roused, a lone, parasolled woman revealed herself at the front entrance, pleading for help. She identified herself as Melani, but when she was very deadpan in the fact she was there to kill them, James shot her in the head, igniting a deafening scream and literally her head.

This called forth a whole host of horrors from the dark, including a stream Sorrows, Waldgeists, two Mature Nephilim, Teddy, Lelu, and Lilitu. To push back this roiling horde, not only were several casks detonated, two Bottles were thrown, summoning a Young Nephilim and the Mechanical Rider for their cause. In the chaos, Cho’ko relied on a triggered destiny step to repel the monsters.

Before a particularly large Nephilim could deliver a killing blow to the Rider or Cho’ko, Horniege appeared at the top of the attic steps, effectively scaring the Neverborn with only a few stern words. Stunned by Horniege’s power over the horrors, the Party is now completely lost and skeptical on what other secrets Horniege may be hiding.

This session does not have a recording.
Image found in the Giant in the Playground forums.

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Quarantine Zone Quarrel
The Party venture to find a new secluded hideout

qzstreets.jpgWith Mr. H’s Five now in the very dangerous territory of Malifaux’s Quarantine Zone, the Party did their best to scramble to find a functional, covert HQ outside the reach of spying eyes. Several aspects were considered; distance from the Guild‘s separation wall, size of the building, and the defensiblity of the structure. Using stealth, navigation, and other tracking skills, the Party quickly (and more importantly, quietly) discovered a large, one-story warehouse-like structure under the shadow of an unnerving, swaying clock tower, which seemed to match most of Dr. Horniege’s requests for his new workshop.

The interior proved to be an impressive sight. A massive, indoor gladiatorial arena, littered with rusting weapons, oxidizing machinery, and rotting timber, all under the glow of massive, glowing red quartz crystals that have upthrusted through the packed earth of the arena. Horniege immediately fell in love with the vaulted, defensible space, and asked Ave, Cho’ko, and James to investigate and clear the below basement tunnels while his mechanical bird scouted the attics above.

The tunnels below the Arena proved to be slightly labyrinthine, mostly natural stone. It seemed to be one of Horniege’s easier missions until the Party completed their survey of the deserted, bare tunnels. After spreading out and finding all dead ends, all sorts of undead horrors began clawing and disinter out from the loose earth. Shambling corpses of M&SU prospectors, a few familiar rotting Belles, and one particularly unsettling, screaming Hanged descended upon the Party, who thankfully had the foresight to remain armed after finding the Arena.

Engaging with the voracious undead seemed fairly easy in the beginning, but the Crooked Men began to crack open unfathomably deep pits around the combatants, filled with clawing and grabbing arms of the damned. While Ave and James took measures to keep away from these fissures, Cho’ko was entranced by these portals, seeing welcoming and beckoning gestures from the vindictive flailing the others saw. While originally skeptical, her Whisperer patron assured a promise of power if she relented into the embrace of these undying servants. Sensing Cho’ko loosening grip to reality, James tried to stop her as she began to slowly shuffle into one portal. With tear-streaming eyes, Cho’ko turned and admitted to James, “… I can’t do this… I can’t leave you… I don’t know if I can live without you!”… and promptly GRABBED JAMES AND PULLED HIM INTO THE PIT WITH HER! Rude!

While James immediately began to combat dirt-clogging suffocation and fend off the claws, Cho’ko enjoyed a warm as she conversed with her Whisperer. What was bargained for or promised is only known by Cho’ko, but while Ave fought for her life alone above ground in an unimaginably fight, James and Cho’ko were violently vomitted back into the tunnels, and Cho’ko strangely now had command of the Crooked Men. Turning the tide with new allies, the Party and deceased miners quickly dispatched the Belles and Hanged. With their task fulfilled and old master slain, the undead dredges crumpled to dust. Unnerved, but honestly grateful, by Cho’ko’s new power, the Party looted the corpses, finding a new volume to their Grimoire collection; the Ruby Folio.

Now with the Arena secure, twilight is beginning to fall over the Quarantine Zone. What horrors will stalk the streets and how will the Party defend their new home? Time will tell…

From this session, Cho’ko chose to embrace her next Destiny step and became a Graverobber, while Ave’s revelation from the Hanged’s whispers unlocked her pathway to a Neverborn Hunter.

An unedited recording of this session can be found HERE.

Image taken from Glading.com.

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Fissured Fealty
The Party must choose between Horniege or Harvey

steam_trunk.jpg After escaping the treacherous swamp, Mr. H’s Five returned to their hideout and began licking their wounds. An annoying beggar was stationed outside when they first approached, but since only Ave flipped a coin into the beggar’s cup, James denied his third Destiny step. Dr. Horniege immediately began work on his construct body with the harvested Strangemetal, and the Party members fractured in several different directions, purchasing replacement clothing, gaining a first aid kit, and storing The Emerald Tome in the Vault while in Malifaux proper.

However, it became apparent that the Party’s movements and past choices are starting to catch up with them. A curt note was posted on the inside of the front door. In Harvey’s handwriting, the note demands the Party visit him ASAP, most likely to demand his 60% share of the Enclave raid during Morgue Mayhem. While the Party was able to hide this disturbing communique from Horniege briefly, the small Soulstone still detected the threat.

This launched Horniege into an accusatory tirade; very uncharacteristic to the Doctor’s previous disposition. Horniege claimed the actions of the Five has brought unwanted attention to his works, and the only option is to move his (and their) hideout without delay. While the Party was taken aback by Horniege’s outburst, the member’s agreed to help with the move if they could settle things with Harvey first. Horniege begrudgingly agreed.

By the command of the note, the Party returned to Harvey’s safe house for the meeting. While in the past the small basement has served to be a modest warehouse of smuggled goods, the room was completely empty of goods and help, save Harvey’s core group of affiliates. Harvey immediately requested his cut of the Enclave Job, but when the Party explained not much profit was gained from the affair and that nothing was worth handing over, Harvey explained their debt could be forgiven by a different service.

Harvey explained the recovered Emerald Tome has gone missing, and that it was partially John’s fault as delivery courier. The Tome had gone missing mid-transit to an unnamed employer.To demonstrate his frustration, power, and (as detected by James) desperation, Harvey ordered Bill to kill John, execution style right in front of the Party to cow them into subservience. With John’s bloody body slumped on the floor by a strange mental attack, Harvey explained recovery of the Tome was his priority number one, and all would be forgiven if the Party would re-recover the Tome that they first retrieved from Captain Greenbeard. Startled by the butchery Harvey had just ordered on his own men, the Party left stunned by the request.

Midway to Horniege’s Workshop, James pulled Ave and Cho’ko into a dark alley to discuss their next move, because it is apparent now that Harvey and Horniege want two different things from their service; Harvey wants a quick, Malifaux-centric investigation to recover the Tome they already have, while Horniege wants to go underground, possibly making a new hideout in the Quarentine Zone (QZ). Loyalties and motivations of each member were questioned, but a group consensus was still found; Horniege seems to have quasi-approval and protection from the Governor’s Secretary, while Harvey seems to have recently become erratic and a pawn to another higher power. In the end, the group agreed to keep their Tome a secret and align with Horniege. Since this turned group loyalty away from Horniege, this too denied Ave’s third Destiny step.

When the Party returned, Horniege had completely gutted his small apartment and had in minutes constructed a Steam Trunk out of construct pieces and bookshelf timber to carry himself and his incomplete body outside. Horniege then provided fool-proof Guild papers that would allow them access to the QZ, where they can continue his work unmolested. With fresh gear and iron-clad passports, the Five then left Downtown and the Slums behind and entered the gates into the QZ.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

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Dungeon Defiance
The Party descend and exit the Ziggurat

watcher.jpgAfter solving the devilish Abacus Puzzle and harvesting a few more Strangemetal beads, Mr. H’s Five unlocked the crystal-encrusted elevator for the deeper parts of the Ziggurat. With some prompting from Dr. Horniege, the Party activated the central dais and began to descend once more deeper into the structure.

After yet another dark, eternal descent, the Five arrived to another cavern crafted from the same chunks of circular stone tiles as the surface. By using Horniege’s head as a lantern once more, the Party was able to take better bearings of the small room. With the illumination’s help, Ave was the first to realize the party had been in the room before; the small foyer was an exact replica to the above-ground entrance at the beginning of the Ziggurat, except it was flipped perfectly upside down! Instead of the Bayou beyond the entrance, however, a rickety rope bridge extended into the featureless darkness. The effect caused a mutual feeling of familiarity, vertigo, and nausea in those who could see the mirrored image.

Draped next to the elevator dais was an desiccated corpse of a human explorer. While his or her scraps of clothing seemed modern or at least contemporary in style, the ancient bones of the body hinted at an impossible death before eve, the First Breach. Looting the corpse yielded a Strangemetal Shirt and a few leather pinch bags of 0-Lade Soulstone powder.

Uncertain how to proceed, the Five began to venture onto the wooden rope bridge. After a few minutes of cautious crawling, however, a presence began to be felt by each member. As the Five traveled farther down the bridge, each of their taken senses began to fire once more. Ave smelt the foul smell of death and decay, Cho’ko felt the slimy, cold scales some something reptilian on her phantom hands, and James beheld a nightmarish winged centipede crawling the opposite way of the bridge towards them. The creature reared up, and with a booming voice gave one commandment: LEAVE.

While this scattered the rest of the Party, James attempted to parley with the creature. When it seemed unflinching its commands and reasoning, The Nothing Beast gave a hint to James to simply stand tall and brave and slay the beast. When the winged Watcher finally charged James in frustration, James instinctively slashed with his silver letter opener, inexplicably killing the creature in a violent explosion, fulfilling his second destiny step. This collapsed the bridge, but with cooperation, each of the Five climbed back to the under-foyer unscathed.

Satisfied with their Strangemetal collection and rattled by the strange underside of the Malifaux plane, Horniege and the Five quickly retreated back to the surface, each regaining their lost senses and arriving back to Pancho’s keelboat, anxious to return to Malifaux City.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

Image taken from the Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter Page.

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Perplexing Pit
The Party dives deeper into the Ziggurat

dungeon-mouth.jpgWith the Nephilim threats of the Ziggurat during Meridion’s Meridian, Mr. H’s Five delve deeper into the catacombs. To gain access, each of the Five had to pledge themselves to strange Neverborn statues. Upon activation, each member was robbed of a sense; Ave robbed of her nose, Cho’ko her hands, James his sight, Mirra her hearing, and Pancho his voice.

Once far below the first antechamber, the Five found themselves in a hub-room with three spoke-hallways, each ending in a puzzle room. One “rib cage” of Strangemetal was collected in this room, since the room now is decorated in strange tangled messes of precious metals. As each puzzle room was solved, part of a symbol activated in the hub. Two of three puzzles have been solved thus far:

The Time Puzzle

This room portrays a hooded Neverborn with a wicked blade pendulum to denote time. Below, a row of candles marked the hours and gave the riddle in English.

The Five correctly answered the Ninth Hour, which partially unlocked the central crystal dias.

The One-and-Twenty Puzzle

This room portrays a massive stone head who effectively played “21 Questions” with the Five once they identified themselves.

The Five correctly determined the stone head to be a “Chameleon,” which partially unlocked the central dais and a whispered secret in each character’s ear, unlocking Cho’ko’s next Destiny Step.

The Abacus Puzzle:

This Puzzle remains incomplete.

A metal plate with five wooden rods each have 9 magnetic Strangemetal beads, with all beads slid to the right. On the left is written (loosely) the below Neverborn symbols:

?=@
?=#
?=$
?=*
?=°

A second panel has the following equations:

A+B=@$

A+D+C+F=##

C+D+E=#$

C+G=$$

C+D+E+F=$$

E+E=$$

F+D=**

A+D=*@

A+A+A=##

A+A+E=$$

B=*#

A+E=##

A+B+F=°$

G=°°

D+E=@°

Puzzles inspired by entries in Strolen.com.
An unedited recording of this session can be found here.
Image taken from the GoonCraft RPG Wikia.

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Meridion's Meridian
The Party starts their search for Strangemetal.

371670-bigthumbnail.jpgOn their way to recover Strangemetal from Pancho Peach’s direction, Mr. H’s Five dived deep into a trackless part of the Bayou in search of the Old Malifaux ruin. While their travels went off without incident, nightfall came dark and foreboding. Right when things began to look dire and hopeless, they found the half-buried Ziggurat in a large clearing of the swamp.

A strange structure of discordant stones and weirdly consistent shapes of partial concentric circles, Ave, James, and Cho descended into the structure, while Mirra and Pancho stood guard at the entrance and protected the small dinghy.

Using Horniege’s head as a light source, the original Three climbed down spiral staircase after staircase and queasy hallway after hallway. As they got deeper into the structure, they also sensed an oppressive “headiness” that blurred their vision and muddled their thoughts.

After finally descending a few hundred meters well below the Bayou, the Three found an open chamber filled with multicolored luminescence as big as the clearing above. Inside, Ave stealthed in and espied a small group of Terror Tots and Young Nephilim bounded around the vast space.

The Three attacked, but when the first Tot fell, Killjoy was summoned by the carnage. The Young in turn activated strange daises that continued to hamper the Party’s combat effectiveness with skull-splitting “headiness.” While Killjoy mercilessly carved into Ave, the Three still were able to limp away from the fight with their nephilim foes vanquished.

After the fight, five statues rose from the rubble, all horned male nephilim forms. One covered its eyes, the next ears, mouth, and nose, with the last screaming with missing hands. Each seem to be some sort of offering stone, and with exactly five members, they might be the key to pressing further, especially when one still has one unstolen, Strangemetal eye.

Image taken from Desktop Nexus, "On the Way for a Night Prayer.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

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Robotic Rebirth
The Party finally meets Dr. Horniege

workshop.jpgAfter slipping through the Guild’s clutches, the Party (hereafter referred to as Mr. H’s Five, which will become apparent shortly) quickly returned to Dr. Horniege’s Workshop to lick their wounds from the battle during Morgue Mayhem and to ponder on Lucius’ warning words. At this time, both James and Cho’ko focused and activated the grimoires in their possesion; the Emerald Tome and the Octahedron, respectively.

With the retrieved Midnight Egg in their possession once more, the then-Four thought it more pressing to collect their promised bounty (as described in Dr. Horniege’s second letter) before reporting back to Harvey. With a bit of deduction, they found themselves at the front footsteps of the Vault at around 4 pm (right before closure of business hours), safe deposit box ticket in hand. With little convincing, James was directed down into the Old Malifaux catacombs and collected Dr. Horniege’s promised goods; a stack of Scrip, some more specialized gadgetry, and a charged, 2-lade Soulstone. Emptying the cash and only leaving some gadgets and the Soulstone (after some brief concentration) in the drawer, the Four returned to their hideout to see what their next step will be.

After some puzzling with Horniege’s last communique, the Four successfully opened the Midnight Egg with help from Cho’s Secret Item and revealed a charged, 5-lade Soulstone! Following his instructions, they installed the ’stone into the melon-sized contraption, which flickered to life.

The construct’s “head” then introduced itself as the late Dr. Horniege, and quickly explained how he cheated death by using the techniques he pioneered during Project Lazarus and Project Osiris. With his death wrought before he could finish his new body, however, Horniege promised more life savings from his former Project members if they would help him one more time; building him a new body.

The first step is collecting a new superior metal to make his various casings; Strangemetal. With his memories of old Guild associates, Horniege recalled a Lucas McCabe had found the material out in the Bayou, with the help of a Bayouborn guide, Pancho Peach. After a little convincing, the Party wet out with Horniege’s head in tow to find this Pancho Peach.

With only a little searching and the sun setting, the Party found the curious specimen of Pancho Peach in the Riverfront Slums, who quickly agreed to bring the group to the Strangemetal ruins that Lucas first explored.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

Image taken from “Web of Deceit: Black Widow,” illustrated by Elichev Alexandr.

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Insidious Interrogations
The Party attempts to escape the Guild Enclave

Lucius_Art.jpgAfter dispatching Aaron Smith and recovering the Midnight Egg, the Party quickly discusses how to escape the Enclave without being noticed. Now that it seems the Neverborn attack has ceased above them, they no longer have a diversion. Quickly pilfering through Smith’s remains and recovering the source of his necromancer power, the green Octahedron, James assumed the disguise of the Party’s Guild escort with Smith’s bullet-riddled jacket and badge and hoped their cover story could continue.

Once they made their way to the yard, however, they saw that the Guild were “cleaning up” after the battle. While this means several Guards and constructs were immediately covering up the Nephilim in the courtyard, everyone else in the Enclave were lining up for headcount and record eye-witness accounts. Thankfully, the officers running this bureaucratic procedure only halfheartedly performed their duties, and were anxious to get civilians out of the complex. With the Gate within sprinting distance as the Party attempted their exit, however, an authoritative voice stopped them in their tracks, a voice owned by the Governor General’s Secretary himself, Lucius Mattheson.

Lucius.pngSkeptical of the Party’s line, especially since he confidently knew Dr. McMourning was not in his lab today, Lucius ordered immediate individual interrogation of each Party member, including James. Their accounts of the ordeal follow:

After the intimidating grilling, the Party was escorted to Lucius’ office. There, Lucius revealed their cover was blown due to their inconsistent accounts of their Morgue Mayhem. In an even more chilling demonstration of power and influence, Lucius also produced the Midnight Egg that Choko safely stashed in her belongings. However, this seemed to diffuse Lucius’ accusations, cryptically stating that he was, ‘Glad to see Project Lazarus continues, alive and well.’ Claiming he will not take action against the Party, so long as their goals aligned with his, the Party was dismissed and released from the compound, dazed and shaken by their encounter with the Governor’s Secretary.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

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Morgue Mayhem
The Party finally infiltrates the Guild Enclave

morgue.jpgWith Choko badly hurt during their narrow escape from the Sewers, the Party quickly patched up Choko and remove her Blight-bitten ailment inflicted by the Vermin Baron. Returning to Dr. Horniege’s Workshop to lick their wounds, the Party decides to meet Harvey the next day and deliver the The Emerald Tome.

After a brief rest, the Party found Harvey in his safehouse… waiting for them. Displayed around him was a collection of thugs (which he named Bill, Drew, John, Mirra, Steve, and Thomas), which showed that Harvey intended to show some level of force and power during negotiations. After a bit of bartering and resolving Ave’s next Destiny step, the Party delivered the scalped beard of Greenbeard and the Tome. This allowed them to receive increased help from Harvey, including:

  • The first promised map of the Enclave. Though dated from the first surveys immediately after the Second Breach, the map is very detailed.
  • Pledged assistance from Mirra and Thomas, who could, between them, forge Guild documents and act as a supposed Guardsman escort.
  • Provided a small penny whistle with explicit instructions.
  • However, Harvey had to be talked down to a still steep 60-40 cut for their job.

Determining the suggested facade of “body identification” to legitimize their visit to the Morgue, the Party made some suitable clothing purchases and galvanized their plans at their hideout. While the two new recruits, particularly Thomas, struck the Party as odd, they were glad for the help they provided.

Mature-Nephilim.pngThe next day, they set out for the Enclave. While their documents and performances were convincing, the front gate would not let them through since they weren’t scheduled in their itinerary. Sensing trouble, Ave blew the whistle, which summoned two Mature Nephilim right into the Guild compound. Immediately causing alarm and clearing a path for the Party when the gate guard abandoned their post, the five infiltrators booked it for the main building during the chaos.

Quickly finding the Morgue with Harvey’s map and Thomas’ affinity for the complex, the Party then began searching the room for Dr. Horniege’s item. While his personal effects had no sign of the black egg artifact (but did have useful items like Horniege’s old badge and a small parchment with random numbers), the Party discovered that the artifact was surgically implanted in Horniege’s gut, and it only took a quick slice to expose their treasure; bringing them one step closer to fulfilling their first quest and, more importantly, payment.

However, Thomas had other plans. The disguised Resurrectionist went looking for another prize of his own, and after finding it (the necrotic artifact inside Dr. McMourning’s desk), he revealed himself to be Aaron Smith and began summoning Necropunks and Rotten Belles inside the Morgue. While the ensuing battle seemed impossible to stop Aaron’s escape (especially with the limited weapons the Party smuggled in), they vanquished the wanna-be Resser with the use of Ave’s Secret Item.

When the undead finally collapsed in a heap, the sounds of Nephilim battle upstairs started to calm and quiet. Now, the Party must determine how to escape the blood-soaked Morgue and the highly-alerted Enclave.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

Morgue image taken from Project Sector 7 (Wordpress).

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Basement Breakout
The Party escapes the sewers

Desolation_Engine.jpgStranded in the sewers, completely disoriented and with no sight of their flat bottom boat, the Party began shuffling through Harvey’s cargo to prioritize what can be hand carried out of the Undercity.

However, the crates’ contents proved to be quite puzzling. While the goods and their quantity would indeed be expensive to a typical businessman, they struck the Party to be… odd prizes for Harvey to demand their return. Crates full of antique Powder Wars weaponry, human-brewed moonshine and nasty booze, and copper tubing/piping. The only truly remarkable parcel was the metal strongbox that the Party unpacked earlier; with one of the locks busted and Ave finally willing to lockpick the other to assay its contents. What they found was a curious tome from Old Malifaux, a black leather-bound book decorated with emeralds and silver filigree. James and Cho’ko deduced it must be a magical grimoire of great importance, and James’ invisible patron agreed. Deducing this to be the only worthy piece of cargo Harvey would actually appreciate returned, the Party ditched everything else and began exploring for a way out of the Sewers.

c6377bdc68fad560337d02682b6b8616.jpgNavigating the sewer proved harder than expected. Between the inconsistent designs and ominous corridors with promises of death or worse, the Party took its time to carefully navigate the perilous Undercity. When they finally made it towards the topmost levels of the sewers, Ave heard shouting from approaching humans. They encountered a criminal couple, attempting to outun a pursuing Desolation Engine. Abominations quickly cut off the five’s escape, and a brawl broke out. The already heavily wounded criminals were quickly overwhelmed, converted into additional ghastly Abominations. The steampunk horrors descended next onto Cho’ko and her creation, while Ave and James rain bullet fire on the terrors. Cho’ko bravely repealed the vile constructs, kicking the head right off the Engine.

More inhuman cries echoed from where the couple ran from, and the Party wisely decided to make a break for it while they had the chance. James scooped up the woman’s collier, and gratefully made it back into the daylight of the surface.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

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