Saturday, February 11, 2017

Penumbra Alliance: Investigating Disappearances in New Bedford (Setup)

Later tonight I'll be going through character creation for a new IRL Monster Hunters campaign. It tentatively looks like I'll have:

  • A Commando who's been possessed or otherwise in contact with spirits (I'm going to push for Diabological Phantom Voices as one of their disadvantages)
  • An Experiment
  • A Sage/Techie
  • One person is undecided.
They're all going to be operatives working for the Penumbra Alliance- a ragtag collective of supernaturally aware organizations that have decided that stopping demon incursions and such is the best course of action for everyone.

Even if these organizations don't all actually get along very well, or have matching goals.

New Beford, MA

Population: ~95,000
Notable Locations: Numerous Projects, Waterfront District (whaling predominant historical influence), Buttonwood Park Zoo, New Bedford Regional Airport, University of Mass. Dartmouth (UMD) nearby.

Three islands in the harbor:
Fish Island (Fishpacking warehouse)
Pope Island (shops, a marina)
Crow Island (Inhabited with a few houses)

Nearby Law Enforcement: 4 New Beford Police Stations, Mass. State Police has a barracks nearby in Dartmouth. Fire Department is acknowledged to be among the best in the state. One hospital- St. Luke's.

Penumbra Alliance Presence in the area:

New Bedford has a large Syndicate Presence. The Syndicate cell in the area is primarily concerned with their illegal operations, and only really pay attention when events harm the bottom line. Their local Lieutenant, Jake Schneider, recently stole a grimoire from Larry and Kenny.

The Librarians of Alexandria and Warehouse 23 both maintain a library/storehouse on the premises of UMD. They're severely lacking in resources, consisting only of a two man team, Kenny and Larry, who are primarily engaged in research.

Veilwatch has a representative in the area, Damien Pulaski, a Massachusetts State Police Sergeant. Pulaski is a good cop who believes he's descended from Casimir Pulaski. Damien is deeply concerned about the disappearances and is the one who initiated the investigation, resulting in the Players being asked to travel to New Bedford.

The Locust Order has a single Locust Priest in the area, Ba'dur "Buddy" Shawn. Shawn has an undeserved nasty reputation within the Alliance involving dark research and horrible rituals. In reality Ba'dur is just a gentle old man who happens to be made out of a sentient swarm of locusts who enjoys gardening and teaching young pupils the fundamentals of magic. 

The Church of St. Germaine has a congregation in the area. Having noticed the supernatural disappearances, they believe they stem from Ba'dur Shawn's presence in the area. Father Norton is fair about this assessment, admitting that it's largely based on Shawn being a Locust Priest, and not any proof that's beyond circumstantial.

None of the Alliance members in the area besides Pulaski or some Syndicate members are really able or willing to engage in field work that involves risk. Pulaski is invested in solving the disappearances and will likely volunteer his services if the group conducts themselves well. Convincing the Syndicate to help will likely be frustrating, as they really don't care.

Buddy might be convinced to help out, especially if it provides a chance to clear his reputation within the Alliance.

The Disappearances:

  1. Transients and homeless individuals have been disappearing- about fifteen have been noted over three months. Damien believes this to be a low figure.
  2. A few (2-3) children have been snatched. Normal investigation proved fruitless when forensics teams ran into spectacularly bad luck- one team had a smartphone battery catch aflame, fouling a crime scene, another was pushed off the road by a drunk driver into the harbor, and the last team's evidence was destroyed when a short circuit fried the testing device. 
  3. One teenager may have escaped an attempted kidnapping- but he's currently in St. Luke's, unable to talk coherently and babbling the lyrics to Little Drummer Boy. 

Available clues:

  1. Both Father Norton and Ba'dur have detected the presence of dark magic used within the city, although they don't know the caster (and Norton suspects Ba'dur). (Deduction: Rogue Witch)
  2. The Syndicate recently fulfilled a special order for a magical grimoire, stolen from the Librarians of Alexandria/Warehouse 23. Good luck getting them to admit to it though. (Only local lieutenant knows the specific nature of the order, -3 at attempts to get him to talk about who bought it.) (Deduction: This gives away the Witch's identity immediately.)
  3. Fish, Pope, and Crow Islands all seem to be experiencing unusual amounts of strange activity over the last few months. (Deduction: Witch is likely setup on the Islands, Witch also frequently uses boats to access Crow Island, might live there)
  4. The owner of Duncan Fishpacking is adamant that nothing strange is happening, even when confronted with evidence. (Deduction: He's in on it.)
  5. A few people will report that some employees of Duncan Fishpacking have been acting strangely. (Deduction: It's connected somehow, provides more avenues of investigation)
  1. Kenny and Larry had a Grimoire useful for opening gateways and portals stolen from them. Both aren't terribly excited to admit to it happening since it makes them look bad. (Deduction: Rogue Witch is attempting to open a portal of some kind.)
  2. A man was attacked by a strange dog near the Dunkin Donuts on Pope Island and managed to fend it off with a pistol. (Players can find the corpse if they search near the Dunkin on Pope Island. Deduction: Rogue Witch has summoned a few members of the Endless Legions already.)
  3. Human remains have been dumped at Fish Island, among the offal produced by the plant (See Clue #3 under where). (Deduction: They were sacrificed to provide energy for a ritual.)
  4. The bad luck of the police investigations is not natural. Should be easy to indicate it stems from a supernatural origin. (Deduction: Rogue Witch)
  5. Children provide more magical energy than adults. (This ties into clue #3 of What.)
  6. Attacks Decrease during the full moon (Rules out Lycanthropes)

  1. Most of the disappearances have happened closer to the harbor. (Deduction: Boat accessible)
  2. Police have investigate numerous reports of strange activity near the Pope Island Marina. They consistently find nothing and believe a prank caller is at work. (Deduction: Pope Island Marina is a place to investigate)
  3. The teenager in St. Luke's, if he's able to recall anything, remembers hearing that the 'trash' was disposed of on Fish Island. (Deduction: Witch has been dumping the dead bodies of his victims on Fish Island) 
  1. Attacks have no correlation with a set date (timing appears random based on days passed, etc)
  2. Attacks increase during periods of bad weather and reduced visibility
  3. Attacks decrease near the full moon
  4. The kidnapping of the children occurred most recently, as did the police investigations. (Attempts to ramp up progress)

Deduction Penalties:

Who: -4 to area knowledge/current affairs to identify locals (Scope penalty, I doubt players will have applicable area knowledge, although Lore! of course wouldn't.)
-8 (reasonable precautions to thwart identification by perpetrator), +1 (status 2 Individual as prominent business owner), +2 (known bibliophile and antiques collector)= -5 to deductions

-4 (takes basic measures to cover his tracks) (For learning it's a Rogue Witch)

-2 (Endless Legion Demons don't really count as sapient)

-8 (Plan involves no special timing)

-8 (Intelligent foe who didn't think he needed to pick an unobvious location), +3 (small local cult of ~15 members has been assisting the Rogue Witch)

What's actually going on:

Sid Duncan, owner of Duncan Fishpacking, is a Rogue Witch. Having been raised by an aunt who was deep within the Dark Arts, Duncan was initiated into summoning demons at a relatively young age- 11. Duncan has made a pact with the Demon Lord Drumer for magical power- in return for attempting to summon Lord Drumer to Earth. Drumer is the source of the bad luck curse that affected the investigation teams- Duncan lacks the skill in the relevant paths to cast such a spell.

Duncan is aided by a few of his employees at the Fishpacking Plant. Most have had spells placed on them to force their compliance. Some early sacrifices were conducted to make these spells easier.

Drumer has instructed Duncan to fill a gem he's fashioned into a reservoir for magical energy via conducting human sacrifice. He's been unhappy with the slow progress, pushing Duncan to bolder attempts to find fresh victims- which is why the young children were targeted. 

Duncan is capable of summoning up to two Impalers at a time, or up to four demonic canines. He also has his followers, although most are little more than meat shields and distractions for him to have time to accumulate energy. One or two might have pistols.

Duncan has numerous (23) charms that he has prepared for emergencies, cast and gathered over a long period of time:
  • 5 3d lightning bolt charms (He prefers lightning over firebolts because they short out cellphones)
  • 1 Gift of Gab Charm (Used sparingly because he has to resort to spending FP to make it possible to cast)
  • 1 Hush Charm 
  • 3 Necrosis 
  • 8-round pistol magazine with additional 6d of crushing damage for each bullet.
  • 3 2d healing charms
  • 1 100 yard emergency teleport (Quirk: Loud bang upon arrival)
  • 1 charm for DR 4 (Quirks: Painfully obvious that he's covered in a shield of energy or similar, sparks super obviously when hit by an attack)
Duncan lives in a manor on Crow Island, uses his Fishpacking Factory to dispose of the bodies, uses the Pope Island Marina to move his sacrifice victims, and generally conducts his rituals at home. The gem he's filling can ONLY be used for the summoning of Lord Drumer, and currently houses a great deal of magical energy.

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