Yellow Dawn Session Notes 21st October: A Ghostly Interlude

Two characters are alone at the La Roche Sabel Academy when events take a strange and haunting turn

This RPG session suffered an unusual and catastrophic lack of players due to last-minute cancellations by two folks, on top of several others not attending as planned.  It left us with just Hagen (Winter) and Oivind (Bela). Rather than cancel – we were there, had the room reserved at the pub, had drinks and food ordered – I decided to put together an ad-hoc scenario that would fit into the current location, and context, of where their characters were. Half a pint and 30 minutes of scribbling notes allowed me to come up with this little beauty. Very pleased and delighted by the spooky atmosphere punctuated by some moments of laughter…

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Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur, first published in 2007, is an RPG written by British Science Fiction & Dark Fantasy author David J Rodger – it blends the Cthulhu Mythos and cyberpunk genres in a post-apocalyptic setting. It also has three novels set within it: Dog Eat Dog, The Black Lake and The Social Club.

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THE CHARACTERS:

  • Winter – built like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger with North American First Nation features. An expert in martial arts and wilderness survival.
  • Brendan – slim, awkward in appearance, with dark hair and untrusting blue eyes; he wears black clothing and carries an air of suppressed pain around with him. Scars, like energy burns, to parts of his face hint at his meddling with metaphysical powers. A road mage.
  • Bela – tall, bulky, a victim of the 1st wave that left him Changed at the molecular level. Called an ‘Orc’ by those wishing to insult.
  • Aaron – 16 years old, tall, willowy, good-looking, quick-witted and intelligent, he was only 6 when Yellow Dawn happened. His survival is a bit of a mystery. Good with his hands and fixing things, his movement is limited by a gammy leg, fixed into a leg-brace.
  • Jean – tall, good-looking man, early 30s with classic southern French features; lean and muscular with a long mane of dark hair and blue eyes. Wears a beaten up leather jacket and leather trousers and boots that belong on a fashion parade, not the wilderness.
  • Fifi – French girl, 22 years old, dark hair that could do with a comb, teeth a little too big for her mouth and a flat, wide nose, hardly a looker, but with an incredible aura, sense of presence and razor-sharp intellect she is quite the character. Dresses down, an artist, but anyone who gets to know her quickly discovers she comes from money and power.

RESUME 23rd May YD+10 @ 10 pm

Bela and Winter are with Rhonda and the Chief of Security for the La Roche Sabel Academy. They’re in her private study, discussing what has happened over glasses of brandy.

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Rhonda is trying not to blame the characters for lack of progress (they have only had a day) or for the fact Bela – that Orc – murdered somebody in cold blood as they tried to flee. She is twisting things, of course. But she has an issue with The Changed and that’s her way of expressing her dislike.

Bela and Winter get ready to leave. They talk to Chief of Security about calling on him if they need help in Montpellier (resources, men, backup). The chief likes them and says yes, of course – however, he reminds them that he plays by the rules. By the law. Killing people, violence, his men will not get caught up in this kind of activity.

They understand.

Picking up some items from the basement chill-out area to take to Willian (who is now with Jean in safe house), Winter discovers a secret hideaway in wall. Looks very old. Plastered over. Only exposed because a tree root has come down from above and damaged the wall. Reaching inside, Winter pulls out a small notebook of poetry, written in French, a man’s handkerchief embroidered with the initials TB and an ornate silver ring.

Winter immediately senses “something”. A flicker of the lights. An atmosphere. Bela, with his expertise in the occult also senses it… something connected to these objects has now become active.

sinister doll halloween face by Nita Collins - All Rights Reserved

Something awakens in the dark spaces above… (Alice, by Nita Collins)

Events unfold rapidly. Glimpses of a child-like figure at the far end of corridors, which ducks into doorways; a growing feeling of menace – doors that slam shut and refuse to open, weird whispering sounds, lights flickering in a way as to guide the characters to a large reception room. An oil painting on the wall of an old dame, circa mid 19th century, painted in this very room with a daylight view through the window of a beautiful oak tree in the grounds of the estate.

Also in the painting is the figure of a very young (9 years), intense-looking girl.

Characters soon discover she is not in the painting, and never has been.

They learn that the tree in the painting is significant. But it was struck by lightning the day after Tobias Beaufort died and now remains as a tall, blackened stump…

At one point, sounds in another room draw Winter away leaving Bela alone with the painting. Abruptly, cold, rough hands clamp around Bela’s throat, nearly crushing his windpipe. Bela grabs at his neck but there is nothing there. There is nobody there. But the pressure continues. He starts to choke. Winter returns… Bela fires his gun three times, shooting the wall, the painting and then the ceiling…but nothing seems to make a difference. He can feel himself getting close to blacking out –

Then it stops. No reason. No clue.

Rhonda is furious about the bullet damage to the room and says she will have to take cost of repairs out of the money she is paying them.

They uncover clues about the identity of the woman – Margerite Houliane. She fell in love with Tobias Beauford. She was daughter of wealthy industrialist family. He was son of an international banking clan – but scandal hit him in the East of Europe. He was arrested. He became ill. He returned home and died in her arms. Still very young, she never married, never met another – and eventually died without children as an old dame.

She did develop a remarkable career creating life-like, and life-sized wooden dolls….

The team also learn that due to her life -long grief, the wishes she laid out in her will – to be cremated and ashes scattered by the old tree (of which she was known to be very fond, even after it was destroyed by a freak bolt of lightning the day Tobias died)… her wishes were ignored and instead, executors of the estate had her buried next to Tobias – who had been interned at her family crypt (on the grounds of the estate).

baby harlequin eerie sinister doll face by Nita Collins - all rights reserved

Eerily life-life doll face… by Nita Collins

Investigating upstairs at the academy, they find an upper loft chamber crammed with some of the dolls… eerie things. Winter feels something shove him. He steps back but nothing is there. And then he crashes through the floor. In view of Bela who is holding the loft ladder… Winter hits the floor below and goes through that too!

It is a hell of a mess.

Winter isn’t hurt. But he’s covered in dust and bits of plaster.

They discuss the dolls, the apparition of the child, and they hatch a plan they think will allow the old lady to pass on…

A burning doll drops through the hole from above and nearly sets a bedroom ablaze. Winter and Bela put it out… but the fire alarm has gone off. And when the Chief of Security arrives with his men, he finds a blackened room and two floors / ceilings with holes through them. He is not impressed.

Bela and Winter leave. But instead of leaving the grounds, they cross the estate to the Houliane family crypt. They remove Margerite’s coffin and discover a semi-living effigy of the old woman inside, made of wood….

They sneak through the estate, carrying the coffin, and take it to the remains of the old oak that was in the painting. They carefully and respectfully tip the what the old woman has become, onto the ground by the tree, and they see it slowly curl up around the tree. Winter sets it on fire. A wind blows in from nowhere and fans the flames. A sigh escapes and both Winter and Bela feel good, feel they have helped a trapped soul find release…

Rhonda and Chief of Security come running across the estate, barely dressed, to investigate the blaze. They see Winter and Bela and the empty coffin. But before any accusations can be made, the flames evolve into the form of a beautiful old lady… black smoke billows around her as she grows younger and then smiles. And departs in a shower of sparks.

Everyone returns to Rhonda’s private study for large drinks.

She states that she will not charge the team for the repairs…

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RESUME 24th MAY YD+10 @ 3 A.M.

Fifi is back home after surgery, recovering from her wound. She is currently at (-6 HP) which will full recover by 7 a.m. on 29th May (+1 HP per day).

Aaron is there too, having spent the day at the house using the fantastic computer suite.

Brendan is at Samir’s place, drunk.

Samir is in jail.

Winter and Bela are at the Academy, with Rhonda and Chief of Security. Decompressing from the night’s strangeness. Rhonda also says, if and when the boy’s father returns asking for his son, she will HAVE to hand the boy over. The characters MUST find out what is going on before this happens as she is VERY worried about the boy’s safety now.  Bela has suffered 6 HP damage from having throat crushed – significant bruising and difficulty in talking (fully heal by 7 a.m. on 30th May).

Jean is at the safe house with an ex-cop, now private detective called Reno Brigadano, and with a semi-catatonic 13 year old Willian.

 

 

 

GM NOTES:

<> All money up to date (note, the team are being paid 1,000 credits per day from 22nd May. Winter has already received advance cash for one day but that is all)

<> RANK rolls up to date (21st Oct, Winter and Bela both got rolls).

<> No RANK rolls for 14th Oct (not enough happened)

<> Aaron has been blogging about recent events, since the demise of Hardstrom. GM should run through demise of Hardstrom; Gambling in Aigues-Mortes and The Blade; and experience of a Dead Zone.

<> Samir has the apartment, paid for by Deraloux, until end of May YD+10

<> DJR papers include notes on +to Brendan’s COOL for killing Hardstrom and +to FIRST CONTACT with Deraloux.
<> Baron Toten Reich has talked to Bela about his “progress” after seeing him coming in (flying) recent night. There was also a small gift.

<> Brendan has the gore-smeared cerebral codexes for Tengo Gin and Magnus Hardstrom in his pocket.
<> In Celeste: Bela has some raw components and specialised components he scavenged on the way to Prudence.
<> Bela has a special ops gel suit, although armour is wrecked over heart and right thigh.
<> Brendan has an assault rife with 24 rounds remaining.
<> Winter and Samir have acquired a large number of firearms and ammunition, plus heavy weaponry, from Mohammed’s camp and the gasses mercs at Bino Bit compound (these are written on DJR paper notes).

IN THE MORGUE:

<> Chris Langford (Dominic), killed by a creature From Beyond at Cereford Grandir near Soubere, 20 miles from Aigues-Mortes. 13th May YD+10.

Want to know more about Dead Zones and Dead Cities?

If you want to read more about Dead Zones and the Infection, I would strongly suggest you read Dog Eat Dog. Alternatively, if you’re interested in the cosmic horror that has followed the event known as Yellow Dawn, read The Black Lake – which the Guardian called “Atmospheric & Creepy”. Or, if you like the idea of the claustrophobia of living inside of a post-apocalyptic version of London surrounded by Infection, then read The Social Club.

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