Thursday, April 26th, 2007
April 28th: Gwendolyn Thorpe (Tammy), Tim Carson (SteveR), Jennifer Dorchester (NPC), Alexander Valentine (NPC), and an SAS soldier, Corporal Jacobs, are running through the woods. They are being chased by a swarm of air piranhas [Anurognathus]. Jennifer tells the others they've got to move faster, quicker. The player characters run for the nearest shelter, what Gwen remembers is a work shed of some sort. The characters look on in horror as a swarm of six of the "air piranhas" strip Corporal Jacobs to the bone in less than 10 seconds. Alexander is barely able to keep the contents of his stomach down after witnessing the horror. Gwen turns to see if she can hit some of the Anurognathus with the flamethrower that she picked up when they started to flee, but there are suddenly none of the creatures in sight. With a sigh of relief, Jennifer, Gwen, and Tim spot the large woodsman's cottage they're looking for - and then realise that it's in open ground! And that the Anomaly is less than 300 metres away!
Just as quickly, Tim spots the anurognathus again, as they start to dive bomb the characters as they start to race for the shed. Each member of the group is attacked by a small swarm of the creatures. Attacked by four of the foul anurognathus, Jennifer ducks and weaves and makes it to the storage shed first with no injuries [spends 1 Story Point]. Gwen and Alex are attacked by four of the creatures each, and because he is the slowest of the group, Gwen sticks with him. Gwen is seriously hurt by the creatures' bites [takes 6 damage and spends 4 Story Points], while Alex is also hurt by the creatures [takes 3 damage, spends 4 Story Points]; he has to help her the last few metres to the shed, but the two are able to make it relatively intact. Tim is bitten quite severely by his attackers and injured severely ([takes 4 damage, and spends 4 Story Points]. Jennifer gets the door to the shed open, and the four characters pile inside. As Jennifer slams the door shut, one of the creatures slams solidly into the door.
TWO DAYS EARLIER
April 26th: On a bright, sunny morning, the player characters and Jennifer and Alexander find themselves sitting in a conference room, waiting. Alex is wearing a bright, yellow tie that is giving Gwen, who has a hangover and red-shot eyes, a headache. Jennifer tells the others that she's started to compile a database of the various creatures they've encountered so far. She wants them to come up with nicknames for the beasties that are still unidentified. Tim agrees that it would be useful for identification purposes. Gwen says that they can't take the database into the field, as there would be too much danger of exposure. Gwen mentions that she was visited at home by a reporter from the London Times, Roger Jones, who asked her about the business in Henderson Park before they dealt with the business with the spiders in Soho. Alex warns them about talking to reporters. When Gwen asks, Alex says that he's reporter kryptonite. She asks Alex if he'll help her with the reporter problem, and they make a deal that if he does, she'll get him a yellow Mickey Mouse tie.
Franklin Cartwright, their handler and superior at the Home Office, knocks on the door and then comes into the conference room. He tells them that he thinks they may have an Anomaly on their hands. He asks what they know of Hexham. Gwen knows most of the basic information on the place - population 10,300; located in Northumbria, the northernmost region of England; main business and economy; the fact that there are plenty of religious sites in the area; market town and civil parish on the River Tyne; nearest city is Newcastle, some 40 kms to the east; that sort of thing. He tells them there's been some recent attacks in the area near Hexham.
Cartwright passes them a folder with basic information (confirmed by Gwen, and later augmented by Jennifer and Alex's research on the material on-line and various news sources), and they learn from him a few other things. The Hexham Courant, the local newspaper, reported some wild animal attacks on children near Dukeshouse Wood, the Camp Beaumont run junior woodland adventure camp near Hexham. As Alex learns quickly, there were similar attacks in the area back in the early 1900s as well. Cartwright tells the characters to put together their cover story (they look pointedly at Alex) and are to be on the train in less than three hours time. Cartwright leaves.
The player characters discuss their options, and Gwen comes up with the idea that they go with: the characters are a pair of couples who are going to Dukeshouse Wood to pre-screen the adventure camp before they decide whether their children will attend. Jennifer hooks up with Alex, and Gwen has a disappointed look on her face as she realises she has to be "married" to Tim. She asks Tim if he's able to pose as a married man with children. Alex goes off to make the arrangements for IDs and other documents necessary for their charade as well as the trip to Hexham and set matters up with the folks at Dukeshouse Wood. Jennifer links arms with him, and they go off to discuss their "family" (married for 14 years, with a son, Gabriel, age 13). Tim and Gwen discuss their daughter, Melissa, age 12, but with Tim being in his early 40s and Gwen being 24, they revise the story so that "Melissa" is the adopted daughter of his new wife, Gwen, from Tim's previous marriage, as he was a widower. The player characters also discuss their military options. It's decided that Sergeant Denby will accompany them down to Hexham with a squad (12 men) who will engage in military stealth manoeuvers in Halfmile Wood. No one will know the SAS will be there. Once the hurried arrangements are made, the characters set off for Hexham.
The player characters arrive by train in Hexham, and instantly find that the area smells like a tannery town. Alex rents a dark blue 2006 Chevy for the group, saying it's got "some flash for m'lady" (Jennifer). Gwen asks Tim if he's going to do that for her, but the discussion becomes one of whether they're competing with the neighbours/Joneses. The player characters set out for the drive to Dukeshouse Wood camp.
When they arrive at the adventure camp, they are met by a roly poly man with bright cheeks. He introduces himself as Dale Robertson, the sales rep on site for Dukeshouse Wood, who works for Camp Beaumont. The player characters put on their act as parents pre-screening the adventure camp, and Robertson buys into the schtick. The player characters are shown to the parents dormitory, and their luggage taken to their assigned quarters. After their rooms are sorted out and a light snack, the player characters go through the camp brochure. Mary Johnson, one of the archery teachers, takes them on a general tour of the camp. Gwen asks several orienteering questions - and learns of the bike and hiking trails in Dukeshouse Wood. They talk about dangerous plants and animals in the area, such as there are, and learn that there are some purple ferns in the area but these have been taken care of by a company called GLC. When Gwen asks if any incidents have occurred, Mary says there have been only minor incidents. After the tour, Mary takes them to the main offices and they see the maps of the campgrounds. Jennifer and Gwen notice several buildings - sheds, maintenance shacks, survival depot, equipment sheds - scattered throughout the Dukeshouse Wood forest itself. Mary excuses herself after telling the characters that it's close to supper, and the player characters return to their dorm quarters and get ready for the evening meal.
At dinner in the main campground mess and hall, the player characters are surprised to see (Robert) Denby, wearing civvies. They join him, and false introductions are made for the benefit of those around them. Before they can get to serious matters, two women ask if they can join them, and the characters don't refuse. The women are Grace (nee Wilson) and Harriet (nee Beech) Bickford, sisters-in-law, whose children, daughters age 10 and 14, have been attending Dukeshouse Wood for the last 2 years. Grace's daughter, Gwenny (Gwendolyn; Gwen is delighted and the two exchange notes) is an excellent archer Harriet's daughter, Mavis, age 10, is a fine quilter and jewellery maker. When asked about the safety of the camp, Grace says that there have been several incidents - animal maulings, but that was some 10 years ago. Two days ago, several children were attacked on the biking trail by what appeared to be birds, and one child was taken to and treated by the staff doctor. One of the other children also claimed to have seen flashing lights in the forest, but that was attributed to shock and stress. She also heard that a groundskeeper killed one of the birds, and gave it to the staff doctor to examine.
Dessert is served, and the evening camp announcements are made. There is a loud "SQWAAAK!" from outside that even penetrates into the dining and mess hall. Gwen gets up, as do several others, and goes to the window to see what made the sound. There is a huge bird, well up in the sky, Gwen estimating the wing span based on what she can of the creature at 10 metres. She asks if there are any hang gliders as part of the camp, but one of the other parents says there's a field for them about 20 kilometres away. There is another "SQWAAK!", and Gwen believes the shadow that she can see indicates the bird is heading southeast towards Sunnyside.
I started running a brand new adventure on Sunday afternoon for the Primeval RPG, and I had quite a good time of it.
The scenario has a relatively straightforward plot, with, to be honest, some interesting red herrings and twists and turns, and am looking forward to seeing how this one shapes out with the players and their characters. One of the things I did that Tammy and spross rather enjoyed was starting the session off in media res, with the characters being chased by the monster(s) that will form the basis of the adventure. And then we jumped back two days to see how it all started. Lovely stuff.
Looking forward to next Sunday's session.