Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Next weekend is PDX Cthulhu Con, in addition to taking the Honorable Mention in the Cuthlhu Con Micro writing contest I will be running an RPG game session Saturday from 10-2. Based on Charles Strauss’ awesome novels series The Laundry, about Britain’s occult war against the mythos. Lovecraft by way of Ian Fleming as if written by John Cleese.
I would like to say that I was selected by the con as a game master because of awesome story telling skills. But the fact is that I just sent them an Email that said, hey I can run a game and I already have a ticket and they replied “awesome.”
Now despite being on the official convention schedule I still don’t have any players signed up. Which is OK, I suspect I will be the roleplaying equivalent of a pickup game. If no one show up then I just spend my time at panels comparing Victorian literature to the pulps, that’s a win either way.
On the service Lovecraft seems like a terrible choice for a RPG sitting. Magic is dangerous and subtle compared to D&D’s fireball tossing. The most munchkined PC cannot take on the least powerful Outer God face to face, and the most deadly skill (to friend or foe) could be Latin. Still Call of Cthulhu from Chaosium has been around since 1981.
I just finished my pre-gen player characters. I love characters in all forms of storytelling. I can create all kinds of wonderful characters in my head, but I struggle with finding a story for them. Though characters are a major component in a story they are NOT the story. That is one of the reasons I am struggling in the end to finish my adventure after two weeks but knew what my cast would look like pretty much within an hour.
The scenario will take place on Christmas Day when only The Laundry’s support staff is in at one of its many underground facilities called A1-Z1 (Alpha-One, Zed-One) when they are cut off from the rest of the world and attacked by cultists. Sort of Die Hard meets the Dunwitch Horror. I am pretty good at plots it just the nuts and bolts of the story that I find so difficult.
So I didn’t get a chance to write anything this week so killing two shagoths with one stone, here are the official PC’s for my Laundry adventure Boxing Day. All the name in The Laundry style Are puns on the mythos or horror stories in general. If you are in Stump Town Saturday and find yourself at Cthulhu Con, drop by the gamming room and say “Hi’ and if you want in on the game I will save a table for you.
Name: Annabell Lee
POB: Hong Kong.
Department: Legal Affairs.
Position: Legal Researcher.
Appearance: A thin Asian woman, who wears expensive but concretive suits to work.
History: Born in Hong Kong Anabell’s parents didn’t want to be part of Communist China when the island returned to mainland rule in 1997. They immigrated to England where her parents owned a successful import/export business. After High Scholl she went to UCL (University College of London) and eventually went to their prestigious law school.
She then joined a prestigious law firm Wolferam and Heart. But unknown to Lee most the firms other employees were cultist. They literally made contracts for peoples souls. The firm was raided by the Laundry, who after an exhausting investigation it was decided that she was innocent of the firm’s more sinister side. But now, she knew too much about the government’s investigation in to such matters, and they made a job offer she couldn’t refuse.
Psychology: Annabell is a driven professional that makes her a great lawyer but not a lot of friends. She is a borderline perfectionist, and expects the best form herself and those around her. She is not completely unsympathetic though. She realized that human have a limit and knows better than to push someone beyond what they can take.
Quote: “I know you think I am a witch with a capital “B”, but I like to think it is effeminacy”
Company Secret: In her research she has come across information that the A1-Z1
Is built on something called the Osterhagen Trap, but hasn’t the faintest idea what that is.
Name: Roberta “Bobbie” Block.
Position: Mathematical Modeler.
Appearance: Long dark hair she looks pretty much like one would suspect a student to look like. Usually wearing jeans, a tee shirt and a leather jacket.
History: Bobbie is a mathematical genius. She was able to do five place long division in her head at the age of eight. This earned her a scholarship to King’s College in London. It also caught the eye of Laundry. She is now a Laundry Employee, as she works on her master’s degree. She uses mathematical programs to predict the future in part of the laundry’s “Weather Bureau” But she really wants to be a Laundry field agent.
But unfortunately Bobbie’s mathematical skills have her deemed that too valuable to be put in the field. Still she dreams about being the female James Bond of the occult world. She takes as many combat and intelligence training classes as she can. Still in the end she is stuck in a cubicle with computer.
Psychology: Bobbie wants to be a field agent so bad that it hurts. It makes it even harder that the reason she isn’t one is that she is that she is smart and a god with numbers. She will do anything she could to get assigned a real case.
Quote: (Said into mirror pretending she is saying it a vampire) “Luv, you are about to be factored out of this equation.”
Company Secret: Earlier this week she has projected that there is a high probability of something tragic happening in London over the Holidays. Two other mathematical modelers had determined that there is nothing to be afraid of, But Bobbie thinks they may have been distracted with the upcoming Christmas holiday. Since the Weather Bureau has at best a 33% accuracy rate the Laundry is taking a wait and see approach on her dire prediction.
The weather Bureau is led by an enigmatic woman named Lady Laura Lovecroft. She has lead the section since the dawn of the twenty-first century. No one has ever seen her she only contacts the department by conference call. The old hand in the bureau say that her voice hasn’t changed in almost two decades.
Name: Theodore “Ted” Kline
Appearance: Middle-aged Caucasian man who wears glasses and out of date suits.
History: Dr. Kline received his PhD in Library science from Oxford. He has worked as a librarian and researcher for many prestigious organizations. You can’t work with old musty books as long as he has and not have a t least one encounter with the occult. It was only a matter of time before he was recruited by the Laundry.
For a decade he has been the archivist for installation Alpha-One, Zed-One. In most cases it is a pretty boring job, well there was the time that Serpent Person with a Scimitar got loose in the facility but that is the exception rather than the rule.
Personality: Dr. Kline is by nature an introvert. It’s not that he can’t interact with other people, he just doesn’t really like it. Having an academic discussion is one thing, but most people bore him. He doesn’t care what others think (Unless it on an academic theory, then he is all ears) this can be seen in his sloby dressing habits. All in all books are more interesting than people to him.
Quote: “I am not a nutter, I am just bloody passionate about the Dewey Decimal system.”
Company Secret: Through the 50’s to the 90’s the Laundry had toyed with the idea of releasing real occult incidents as novels, to prepare the public if the occult presence got so bad it could no longer be denied. There is a large archive file under A1-Z1, where the stories of ex-agents are written as if they were pulp novels.
Name: Shelley Wollstonecraft.
POB: Ontario Canada.
Department: Applied Psychonetics.
Appearance: A lithe blonde woman with infinitely sad eyes.
History: Shelly was born special. She was the chosen one to her parent’s commune in Canada. That may sound like a good thing but it isn’t. The chosen one was to be sacrificed to the god Y’Golnac on her thirteenth birthday. Her parents and the rest of the cult flew to England to sacrifice her at Stonehenge. But the ceremony was disrupted by a squad from a special SAS unit called The Artisan Rifles. Her parents and the rest of the cult were killed in a fire fight, only Shelly survived and was raised by The Laundry.
The cult was right that there was something special about Shelley, she is telepathic. This and the fact her parents tried to sacrifice her have led to some serious mental problems. Slowly but surely the Laundry has brought her back from the brink and is training her to use her powers. She and custodian Jack Colquitt are the only ones who actually live in A1-Z1.
Psychology: With drawn she has trust issues coming from her parents trying to kill her. She has only basic control over her powers, which means she might read people mind at awkward times. Because of this her social skills aren’t what they might be.
Quote: “Yeah I have daddy issues, you would too if you parents tried to kill you on your thirteenth birthday.”
Company Secret: Recently she has heard voices in her head in the form of a female voice the words “Damarcus” and “Boxing day.” She doesn’t know what they mean or where they ae coming from. She reported this to The Laundry, who is more carefully watching Syria over the holidays, but so far they have nothing else to go on.
Special: Character has Telepathy sill at 32% and can use it once per hour game time. She also starts with -30 San and Inanity: Catania (Cured)
Name: Gordon Ramsey-Campbell.
POB: Goatswood Servern Valley UK.
Occupation: Artist (Chef)
Position: Canteen officer.
Appearance: Tall blond man that wears nice clothing but has a disshoveled looking haircut. Any resemblance between him and an irksome celebrity chef is purely coincidental.
History: Ramsey-Campbell was born in the Serven Valley AKA The UK’s Miskatonic Valley. Though he knew some weird things happened in his back yard, he spent most his life avoiding them. He became a popular local restaurateur until a local cult kidnaped him burnt his restaurant down and tried to force him to create cannibalistic feast for them.
Fortunately the first two chosen victims were undercover Laundry Agents Bob Howard and Mo O’Brien. The couple took down the cabal and freed the chef who was then recruited to The Laundry. Not only does he make great things to eat in the A1-Z1 Canteen, he knows how everyone like their tea.
Psychology: A perfectionist, he expects as much form himself and others. Though he is often gruff and comes off as abrasive, he is actually a bit of softy. He is actually very empathetic but would rather that others didn’t realize that about him. .
Quote: “I have seen Fire Vampire victims that were les burned than that stake.”
Company Secret: Ramsey-Campbell has access to the dietary habits of everyone at A1-Z1, including two notations he doesn’t understand and was told he was cleared for. L3 no food requirements. And PK1, PK2, and PK3, dietary needs non-terrestrial.
Name: Howard Phillips.
POB: Leeds UK.
Position: Help Desk.
Appearance: Young male with auburn hair, who usually wears tee-shirts to work.
History: Magic is in reality based on mathematics, so are computers, so it is easy for a young enthusiastic computer programmer to stumble across the shadow world of magic. Howard like most of The Laundry’s IT support team stumbled across the link between computers and the arcane, when he nearly summoned something from beyond with an experimental algorithm and The Laundry had to swing in rescue him and everyone else in a five kilometer area.
Other than the fact that he works for HM Government’s secret occult investigative service Howard is like any other Millennial. He likes watching the telly, playing video games and having a few pints with his friends at the local pub.
Psychology: Howard is brilliant but lazy. A poster child for the slacker generation. He will take the easiest looking possible solution, even if it means he has to put a lot more work into it than a more traditional one. If he is being intellectually challenged then he will use his vast inflect to solve an issue. The Laundry’s help desk dose not however challenge him.
Quote: “Bullocks you can’t run your smart phone through the washing machine and then hand it to me expecting me to fix it!”
Company Secret: Underneath A1-Z1is a room called the Elephants Graveyard where all the old computers no longer used are stored. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of said computers.