Monday, March 31, 2008

I Prefer Jazz Anyway

Session Three: Music To Calm The Soul
Note: This session was stolen from RPG.Net's Roleplaying Actual Play thread. As such, credit goes to the original author, walkerp. While I'm at it, I took inspiration from the excellent comic miniseries Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way for some modifications to the nefarious villains of the piece.

Available: Maurice LeBec, Sir Alistair Montgomery, Chloe M

After their adventure in Africa, the party were granted some down-time, and offered tickets to the opening performance of a symphony that has swept through Europe to high acclaim. Reluctantly accepting the tickets, the party were whisked away to New York, and the famous Carnegie Hall.

Arriving at the show, Sir Alistair spotted an old acquaintance of his, Doctor Deedes, and wandered off to join him in the parquet. Maurice and Chloe headed upwards to the first balcony area, but did not sit together. Chloe had spotted a well known adventurer, Jack Savage, and pointedly chose to ignore him.

As the music began, Maurice realised he was experiencing something wonderful. His knowledge of the Arts meant that he was aware that this was truly as great as the reports from Europe were claiming. The music was astonishing, and he soon found himself taken away by it all.

At the break, the party joined up briefly in the bar and discussed the show so far, as well as having time to chat to fellow attendees. But, with a mere fifteen minutes for the intermission, they learned little of value save that everyone seemed to be enjoying it in varying degrees.

The second half of the show was a little different. Very shortly after it began, Chloe noticed that people were staring more intently at the orchestra than usual, and some had their heads tilted slightly to one side, while a small few were even drooling. Looking around, she noticed that Maurice has seemingly fallen asleep!! Sir Alistair noticed his friend acting strangely, as well as an unusually strong sensation of calm. Using a handy Gadget he just so happened to have with him, he found that something was producing a frequency that mimicked and caused a state similar to REM sleep in the people who could hear it. It was clear someone was tampering with the audience.

Chloe woke Maurice, who proceeded to scale the walls and head along the drapes and balcony boxes towards the stage. Sir Alistair attempted to awaken Doctor Deedes and some others, but was met with resistance. The music changed and all the hypnotised people began to crowd around him chanting in a monotonous voice "Don't stop the music. Don't stop the music..." At the same time, Chloe spotted men moving through the crowd, hold large sacks. They were dressed in impeccable tuxedos and every one of them wore a small domino mask. As they passed through the zombiefied high society of New York, they simply held out the bags and people put wallets, jewelery and anything else of value willingly into them.

Despite drifting off to sleep again while clinging to some drapes, Maurice reached the stage and leaped down to attack the conductor. Sir Alistair fended off zombies, trying desperately not to hurt anyone, but pushing to get towards the men in the domino masks. Chloe raced down the back stairs to try to get to the stage, and almost ran into some more domino masks who were on the way up.

After dropping the curtains and various other items on the orchestra, Maurice managed to stop the symphony long enough to pound on the conductor. The violinists were firing bows using their instruments like bow and arrows, and the orchestra proved themselves capable of a fight. Chloe spotted someone in the rigging about the stage, and climbed the ladder to investigate, but was almost blasted away by an ear piercing sound. Sir Alistair took down one of the men in domino masks before the hypnotic effects wore off and people began to press towards the exits. He caught a brief glimpse of one of them reaching to remove his mask, and then they vanished into the crowd!

With the conductor beaten and bruised, and himself not much better, Maurice pulled the conductor through the trapdoor in the stage for questioning. Getting only babbling, incoherent phrases and the odd unexplainable apology to an unnamed someone. Heading back up to the stage, Maurice spotted Chloe dangling off the ladder and went to help. Sir Alistair was determined to examine the instruments immediately. Up on the catwalk, Chloe and Maurice confronted a shadowy figure. He was wearing a cape with a high collar, and over his mouth was a piece of grated metal. He roared at the two adventurers, sending them rolling back alone the catwalk, and Chloe almost fell. "You ruined this symphony", he said. "But our Apocalypse Suite goes on! This shall not be the last time we meet!", and with that, he seemed to drop from the far end of the catwalk.

Chloe and Maurice raced back down, but neither could see the enemy, and Sir Alistair seemed to have not noticed anyone moving. Rushing down below the stage, they discovered the body of the conductor, blood weeping from his eyes, nose and ears. Frozen on his face is a look of unnatural horror. Sir Alistair's cursory examination revealed that he was most likely killed by a sonic device bursting blood vessels in his head. Investigating the area reveals a simple pulley lift shaft that runs from the catwalk to under the stage. Going up, a skylight is open, letting in the cool New York night air.

A round of questioning the captured domino masked man, as well as a few of the orchestra, revealed some interesting facts about the symphony and it's creator, though nothing to help track him now. Sir Alistair was intrigued by the devices he found in the instruments that allowed them to be attuned to the frequencies of the human mind, putting it into a trance-like state. Naturally, he pocketed one for further study. Handing all the captives over to the police and spending some time relaying their own findings, the party then called it a night and headed back to their hotel rooms for some well deserved sleep.

Not a bad night at all this one. Everyone got to do lots, and had a ball of a time. The session ran on just enough for the night, feeling neither rushed, nor dragged out. It was interesting to put the PCs up against a non-physical threat, making them role Rapport, Resolve and Arts more than Guns, Might and Athletics. Fun, and funny, and while the original author pointed out that it ran late for him, I found it to be a nicely paced, enjoyably session with just the right mix of action and investigation for my group.

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