I ran this nearly two weeks ago, so it’s gonna be a bit fuzzy and rushed here, folks. Apologies. Kids health and workload just haven’t permitted the time for it.
It’s the fourth session of my ongoing Monster of the Week game! You can find the last session’s notes here.
We started our second mystery this session (our sessions run 2-3 hours and my mysteries can be complex in the unraveling), which meant the group took a short bit of downtime, healed their wounds, and researched Devonsville, Ohio, a modest sized city with a big artists’ community. MI-13 had indicated that Stuart should go to coordinates found somewhere in the city and try to hail a cab.
Beatrice researched this and found that … well, there’s no evidence of there being any cab companies in Devonsville whatsoever. (She also sent some mail: one to Bruce, pretending to be Leon, to try to clear up for him what had gone on in the last session; the other to the Order, arranging a contact.) Her research also indicated that the city was recently dealing with overtaxed public transportation systems, starting about two weeks ago… maybe when all the taxicabs disappeared?
Primed by the events of the first mystery, the team immediately started theorizing about how the cabs might have been “subtracted”, and that maybe this was another audition for the Editors. Maps of the area around the coordinates showed there was a building there which didn’t appear to be occupied or owned by anybody.
Arriving in Devonsville they headed straight to the coordinates, tried to hail a cab. Nothing showed up. The building in question had multiple garage doors, but no vehicles inside it. The door to the office area was closed. The office area also appeared to have papers and signs visible through the windows, but the text was missing from all of them.
Scanning the area, Galvan noticed there was a noise, a skittering, coming from the roof. Galvan and Stuart headed up while Beatrice continued to look around; she’d catch up shortly. Galvan and Stuart got up to the roof by way of exterior fire escapes, and found … well, a trio of “handspiders” — creatures made out of a pair of human hands, the fingertips carved free of flesh to expose sharpened bone, stitched or melded together at the middle. Galvan tried to “speak” with them, as they weren’t immediately aggressive, but that didn’t last long; two of the handspiders fled across the other buildings, too fast to follow, while a third leapt at Galvan, but was quickly destroyed.
Beatrice headed around to the alleyway to get onto the fire-escape, but she found a man there, with a sword and ancient armor under his coat. Looks like her contact from the Order showed up. He asked to meet and talk elsewhere, indicating that Stuart and Galvan were going to be fine, and Beatrice texted Stuart a “going to get coffee” excuse.
The swordsman was in fact from Beatrice’s order and went by the name of Gianni. They talked, he retrieved the phial of Galvan’s blood, and said that he’d need some of Beatrice’s as well, giving her another empty one to collect the sample. She said she’d get it while working the case. They exchanged a few other pieces of information (two weeks later, I’m hazy on what exactly) mildly deepening Beatrice’s understanding of the Order (they’re very secretive) and establishing that Gianni would be keeping an eye on things, from afar.
(Following sequence of events may have the timing wrong, but here’s the gist.)
Galvan and Stuart meanwhile make their way down into the building from a roof entrance. Inside Stuart finds more evidence of the erased text effect. In fact, trying to write the word “taxi” or “cab” tends to result in pen failure, words vanishing, all that stuff. Galvan checks out the garage.
Where there’s a smooth-featured grey man walking on the ceiling, coming out of an opened doorway to… somewhere… on said ceiling. The grey man notices him… and pounces. Galvan swings his sword and slices the man in half; the halves evaporate. Stuart notices the ruckus, and comes looking — when another grey man opens a nonexistent door on the ceiling and walks out. Lather, rinse, repeat, but this time Galvan punches the guy, knocking him HARD into one of the garage doors, denting it. Beatrice on the opposite side sees that damage happen and comes running.
This grey man is dispatched quickly too. Anyone touched by the grey men starts to go a little grey themselves, in the part touched. Similarly Galvan’s sword ends up looking a bit more “simplified” and lighter weight after it’s used to attack the grey men.
Beatrice works up a spell to lock down the gateways, at least for a short moment. It nearly goes very badly (she botches the roll, then spends a luck point to make it a 12) and multiple big garage-door sized gates open up on the ceiling, showing rotated rooms with several grey men in them, but she manages to push herself and get them sealed shut.
Then Beatrice does another spell, to figure out what the name of the erased cab company is — Central Cab. A grey-ified dispatcher appears in a nearby chair, wordlessly going through the motions of her former job, as a part of this. Stuart works through his side of a “phone call” to Central Cab (one-sidedly, though the dispatcher seems to nod and otherwise respond to what he says) and, wouldn’t you know it, arranges for a cab to come pick them up. He ends the call and the figure vanishes.
They go outside to wait for the cab. Since they have no key they can’t lock the door from the outside, so Galvan stays inside, locks it (mashes the lock permanently shut, really) and then heads back up the stairs towards the roof. Problem is, when he gets to the top of the stairs, there’s a different door there. Looks sort of old and… fleshy. He punches the door open, and the door makes a sound like a man getting punched in the gut. Beyond the door is the interior of, presumably, an old slaughterhouse. “Galvan, is that you?” calls out a slightly cultured-sounding female voice.
Meanwhile, Galvan is late for the cab. Beatrice and Stuart aren’t, tho, and when a Central Cab taxi “ghosts” into view in front of them, the driver wide-eyed and staring at them, they don’t want to lose the opportunity, so they get in. Stuart asks for a ride to the best coffee place in town, and they get going. The driver is really tense, even white-knuckled, but he’s trying to go through the standard motions; it’s clear though that he’s been living in his cab for the past two weeks — he has mostly-empty trays of energy bars and water bottles on the passenger side.
Outside, the city around them goes grey and simplified. They’re somewhere else! The driver focuses hard, trying to figure out the way, but the streets keep changing around on him.
Eventually they get the driver, Yusuf, to talk. He has been in his cab for the past two weeks; he won’t get out because he’s seen other drivers get out of their cabs and their features slough off and they become grey men. Apparently there are a lot of them back at the location that was the Central Cab office building. He asks them to check in on his wife, Ianna, if they make it back, themselves.
At the slaughterhouse, Galvan works his way in, towards the voice. He finds a woman in a lab coat working on a big hanging carcass of some kind (there are several around, some looking like remnants of human bodies, others clearly bestial, a few … indeterminate), making cuts with a scalpel like a sculptor. A couple dozen hand-spiders skitter around her lab area. She turns to him, her eyes deep and dark and the irises overlarge.
She implies that she is Galvan’s maker; that she’s going to cure him of his condition. Galvan has questions. What’s his condition, exactly? Free will. Yikes. Others have called him a harbinger, is that what he is? That’s a pedestrian, oversimplified name. Will he bring about an apocalypse? Also an oversimplification.
Galvan says he’s going to go, and as her arms lengthen inside her labcoat, she says his true name (a sign of the apocalypse), which goes off like an explosion in Galvan’s mind. He staggers back as she shouts, “Is that any way to treat your mother?!” and swings her fists at him. He dodges and runs; her fists crater the concrete floor. Galvan rushes towards the flesh-door, and hears it grunt as it tenses for the impact; he shoulders through (“UNFFGH!”), then slams the door back closed behind him (“UNNHH?”) and threatens it to stay closed or he’ll beat on it again (“HUH-MUHH”, it agrees).
Back in the cab, eventually they get to the location of the coffee shop, The Lightness of Bean, and there’s a sort of shimmering that looks like a way back to our world. Stuart gets out — outside the cab, he’s a sort of blurry version of himself, but that resolves as he walks towards the coffee shop. Beatrice debates whether to stay with the cab or get out, herself, and after a few moments of indecision she decides to get out, just as Stuart reaches the coffee shop…
… and that’s where we left it. Tomorrow night we’ll find out if her path to the shop is as easy as Stuart’s.
For the same reasons it took me so long to write this up, I also didn’t get time to write up a “continuity list” from this session. Argh! The thing is, this session was fantastic — lots of interesting character discoveries and a chance to see how the team functions after the resolution of their first big mystery. Plus a number of character-driven secrets are starting to crash into the main storyline, which is making it particularly juicy. I’m not sure my writeup here does any of that justice! But I want to try to keep the play report discipline going on this one. So there you are.
I certainly invite my players to correct my mistakes and expand upon the stuff I didn’t cover in enough detail!