Prep and Game: Weathermay Estate pt. 2

This prep session was a nightmare! I knew what I wanted to get out of this huge storyline. I have never had the opportunity to create and DM an Artifact. And I wanted to create a great race of mystery and intrigue. Lots of bad guys, lots of good guys, and lots of danger. Fun stuff!

This is the first time that I’ve used a computer to help with DMing, which is a HUGE benefit. In the past I always used notebook paper, graph paper, and a typewriter, which is very slow. I still won’t have a computer at my table, I’m old school and can flip through papers quicker then finding files I hide away on a laptop.

My prep sessions were roughly 5-6 hours a night for a month. I had to record and write up all of my NPC’s, and add more because there are two other Cabals that are interested in what is going on. One of them will infiltrate the house by posing as a maid.

I had to draw a map of the Mansion, I used good ol fashion Paint to do it, but the hard part was that I had to match all of the rooms that I described in the original adventure and build a house around it. My original hand drawn map was simply rooms that I connected without the framework of the house. But I was able to tie them all together in a logical manner that didn’t mess with the continuity too badly. I think that the biggest change was that I had to remove a door that connected the Library to the Dining room.

I had to write up a key for the entire house, not just for this adventure but since this is going to be the base of operations for the PC’s, lots of adventures were going to take place here. The house is huge! With secret passages, dark secrets, and adventure hooks that I can use later on down the road that I don’t want to go into yet, as some of my players read this blog. I had also hidden handouts that I wrote, objects to find, and identified the main object itself (while Linda knew what the object was, I as the DM was not entirely sure. I had a general idea, I knew that it was a magic crystal of some kind, but other then that I didn’t have a clue).

I also had to create a unique artifact complete with a huge history, it’s own back story, it’s powers and keywords, and since it must be constructed, I had to hide its different parts all around the world, all of them with their own back story. Now, on top of this, I had to write George’s Journal where he describes what he knows about this powerful ancient weapon, giving hints and clues to the PC’s plus building anticipation for where the game is going to be heading, and giving them an idea of what they have to accomplish to win the game.

I also wrote a separate handout where George talks to the PC’s directly, letting them know “Why” he chose them, perfect strangers, to receive his fortune and giving them details about how he will contact them from the other side. This isn’t free money, though death has slowed him down, he still has plans and goals and he trusts the PC’s to use his money to accomplish them.

I also had to write up 4 ghosts that were totally original, all with separate powers and triggers. Back stories, and means to end their existence as well. FUN STUFF!!!

I put a lot of my heart and soul into this project, it is always the initial plans that are the hardest, and thank god that I had a three weak deadline before the next game, else I’d probably still be prepping for the son of a gun.

Now, actual playtime . . . It sucked, and it was all my fault. I was inflexible at the time and I didn’t see it. I had spent three weeks of exhausting prep work that my mind was tired and my creative skills as a DM suffered greatly.

Tala had set herself the goal of learning more about the mysterious little girl. Ricky was hell-bent on solving the in-house murder mystery and protecting everybody in the house. And Shannon was still trying to figure his character out, he was exhausted our first play session, and his personal goals remained a mystery.

My goals were to get the PC’s to accomplish their mission, locate the object, get the money and move the story along to the next setting. Our first session had a nice leisurely pace to it, somehow this one became very rushed. Not on my part, but on the PC’s being too effective and lucky.

The Mystic was intent on finding the little girls room, and she did this quickly, finding a secret passage from her room into that room itself. Here is where my game fell apart. Tala is my fiancée, and we can read each other like a book. It is this room where I had placed the object inside of a locked jewelry box that could only be opened by George’s Lawyer. I put my pokerface on and I don’t think that I ran it any differently then any other prop in the house, I simply described it as an expensive little girl’s jewelry box decorated with a boy and a girl holding hands and skipping. Honestly, I describe everything that the PC’s look at with detail, but I think what did it was that she couldn’t open the damned thing. She ended up keeping the thing.

While in Steven’s old room they discovered evidence that will convince Ramses that his coworker has a double life, an address that Charlotte identified as a very dangerous opium den, an opium pipe, and they discovered the old debt owed to a loan shark to pay for drugs that got him disowned by his family because he was constantly pulling this stuff and George just didn’t want the attention, and he grew tired of constantly having to bail his son out. The problem was that the PC’s didn’t identify this as evidence at all! It was just stuff to them, they didn’t even take the stuff which made me kind of mad because they took the one thing that I didn’t want them to and ignored what I expected them to take! I’m telling you, D&D would be much more rewarding if we could find a way to do away with the whole player character, thing.

Meanwhile, I had my mole from the Si-Fan cabal infiltrate the house. This is the group that Steven owes money too, and Steve will identify her immediately and expose himself by killing her out of complete terror. I had to work fast and speed things up because my players were getting close to solving the mystery too quickly.

The house is old, and the family has always been devout Catholics, in the house is a Catholic chapel, complete with hidden rooms to hide the Priest who were being hunted down and arrested for their faith. Now these rooms have been converted into different things. George Weathermay had converted one area into a secret meeting place for the cabal that he was in “The Fellowship of the Crimson Dawn” as well as a secret study where he practiced his dark arts. A separate secret area was hidden below the priests living quarters, and was a secret bedroom where Steven was sleeping and spending most of his time.

I almost was able to slow things down. I had to move one handout into the confessional. My sister and Tala were exploring this area, I had my sister discover the handout where George writes to them that he had written before his death. Tala was in the side that triggered the secret door down to George’s secret chambers. She found the cross, and played with it a bit, and was about to leave when Shannon suggested that she turn it upside down. BAM!!!! That part of the game was over, the stairway is exposed and all sorts of mysteries were solved. Down in the secret study they found the Ouija board, which I had for an actual prop. They found his diary and learned about the artifact, and talked to George Weathermay via the Ouija board, and he told them that the object which they seek is in the “Gemini Box” and immediately Tala knew that she had it.

As they went upstairs, they arrived too late to stop the fight between the Si-Fan Thuggee and Steven Weathermay, this was taking place as they were yelling at Stephan for spying on them and trying to figure out a way to sneak the fact that they’ve actually got the object without letting him know.

The house was in chaos, as the PC’s are looking at the dead girl’s body on the floor of the men’s bedroom, Steven attacks! Our first gunfight using “Masque” rules. The fight wasn’t what I expected, I had planned on all players entering into melee with him, but instead the Mystic and the Doctor bowed out to stay with the body, Tala’s character is essentially a priest, she is the second best shot in the group, but she’s a chicken, which only left the Gunfighter, and the Detective to fight him . . . And the Detective was using a sawed-off shotgun and was out of range. Thank god that Steven was utterly insane, if he wasn’t he would had murdered all of them, but his planning and tactics were severely off allowing them to chase him through the house and finally corner him in a room where they severely wounded all of the fight out of him and he revealed why he had killed people, admitted his addiction, and his horror that Si-Fan had finally taken what they wanted him to give them in the first place. He revealed the name of the main villain that will dog them until the stories conclusion, the insidious Doctor Fu Manchu. BAM!!!! I FREAKIN’ LOVE THIS GAME!!!

The authorities picked up Steven Weathermay so that he could get medical attention and stand trial for his crimes, and the Lawyer was alerted to the fact that the object was located. He arrived and indeed, the key that was given to him fit the box. He pulled out an odd Gem, when suddenly a thick mist inexplicably invaded the library and among the screaming and chaos Stephan stole the Gem. Kurt and Sam raced out into the hallway and saw Stephan run up the steps, they shot at him but he quickly disappeared. Racing to the steps, they heard a gunshot from the second floor, there they discovered the dead body of Stephan, shot in the head. Who did it?!?!

The imposter of Linda Claugh had the gem, and made her getaway, Sam and Kurt followed, as did a mysterious 3rd party, unknown to them. The pursuit ended at the train station, and the mysterious woman, along with her henchmen disappeared inside of the most famous train on Gothic Earth, the fabled Orient Express!

At that point I awarded everybody their experience points, and let them spend some of their money on things that they’d need on the long journey East. They tried to strong arm themselves on board the train, but weren’t allowed, Royalty had commandeered the train and it was now running nonstop to Bucharest and security was at it’s highest. If they wanted on the train, then they had to buy tickets at 100 pounds a pop.

The sad thing was that it was only 10:00, and normally we play until 2am. I couldn’t run this next setting with no prep, as the NPC’s are essential to it. I felt terrible! I had failed utterly, later that night with rethinking all that had happened, I came up with ideas that would have extended the play time, such as hiding twelve boxes around the house, and moving the Gem into one of them. Or even having the PC’s lose Linda on the streets of London and having to track her down to the Orient Express through logic and asking around . . . But in reality I didn’t do that. I felt bad, but lesson learned!

I did get some time to visit one on one with Ricky and get some insight on him as a person. This was only the second time that we had met, so by doing this and just getting some time to chat about bullshit I can better tailor the game to him. I also gave out the assignment to do a character writeup. So far I’ve gotten one back . . . Tala’s. Ricky has his to memory, he just has to write it down.

We played one more time before we’re all caught up to day on how my adventure is going, and the prep involved.

Resolutions:

Weathermay is dead but not at rest, he learned the PC’s names from divining them on his Magic Talking Board.
The item is recovered and is somehow related to an ancient artifact that can slay Gods.
The Little girl was killed by one of her brothers, but which one is unclear.
Steven Weathermay has been stopped, and arrested.
A piece of this artifact may be located under the Romanian city of Bucharest.

New Mysteries

The item was recovered but stolen by Linda Claugh
Who is Linda Claugh?
What is Fu Manchu and his Si-Fan after?
Who is Fu Manchu?

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I use AD&D that has been modified over they years.


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