The set-up for the Fearful Symmetries playtest went well. It’s a beast of a document but it turns out to be fairly easy to use: the improvisational approach with plenty of background material suits the way I tend to facilitate games anyway and the guys enjoyed creating their characters.
We’re using the Radcliffe Camera campaign frame from the book; I’ll have to avoid freewheeling with the rules-as-written and I haven’t delved too deeply into the folklore engine as yet, but I find myself easily persuaded by the marriage between William Blake and the Cthulhu Mythos. It helps that Blake’s poetry and Crowley’s system of Magick have so insinuated themselves into the popular imagination: there’s little or no need to get bogged down in prep.
One of us was away this week and another of us is travelling for work the next – but that doesn’t turn out to be too much of a problem either. There’s a touch of Ars Magica to the way Fearful Symmetries suits troupe-style play, magickal rivalries and sudden affiliations. The self-proclaimed “Prophet of Albion” arrives in our game next week… but some of the players don’t know that yet.
Funny how these things work: you think things are falling a bit flat, particularly after a six-week layoff, and then there are two good ideas in a row and woof! the set-up catches alight.
Seven Dwarves will enter the Place of Unreason in a bid to rescue the sleeping Empress Maudlyn from the Red King:
Margäz Princess of the Second Empire; aunt to the torpid Maudlyn.
Grimbald Grimson Quartermaster of the expedition to the Dying City.
Bûrin Ironhand 325-year-old diplomat of one of the largest Dwarven clans.
Anselmo Sheild-bearer to Bûrin Ironhand; good Strength rating.
Hildebrand Hasselbeard Slayer Dwarf feared for the impact of her two axes.
Morag Blackhand Gunpowder specialist; brace of pistols.
Freya Fargazer Astrologer to the Court of the Exiled Dwarves.
Osprey of the Iron Cliffs, an Elf, and Ralmir Herakson, a Cleric and follower of nature god Argan Argar will accompany the Dwarves on account of their expertise in magic. They are doomed. It’s all so delightfully old school.
Matrilineal ancestors of the mother you’ve just shot in the head silently mouthing words you can no longer understand because you’ve given up all memory of your mother-tongue of Lakȟóta to the ritual to dismiss Quachil Uttaus…
Another Pillar of Sanity shattered when you realise you’ve travelled ten years into the future to witness the London blitz of 1941 and your only option is to turn back into the dread path of the Treader in the Dust…
Chanting the Hyperborean phrases gleaned from the handwritten copy of the Testament of Carnamagos bound in shagreen you retrieved from the broken-but-still-living husk of Lt Col Percival Fawcett, mapping the gestures of the dubious insignia he’d written into the endpapers of The Mummies of Mt. Ampato and East Peru (1912), gesticulating in accordance to the most secret moves of The First Temple of Umbanda Branca (1921), as you tear each never-to-be-regained memory from your colleagues to give to the approaching Outer God: It reaches out one huge hand to deliver the most despairing and meaningless gift of Immortality ever an Ape might receive…
The denouement of The Last Catalogue of Ramon Dégas did not disappoint: everyone ended in the Sanatorium. There was some discussion afterward about whether or not any of the player-characters would be in a fit state to return for our forthcoming Dreamhounds of Paris campaign.
Edward Cody will return, having lost all memory of his ancestry and the attendant meaning it gave to his existence, now engaged in a desperate bid to retrieve fragments of his preconscious memory by automatic writing; he’s been given a letter of introduction to the dream medium Robert Desnos.
“Crooked Bob” Nottingham, now bound to a wheelchair and long evenings spent alone in dusty libraries, will accompany Cody to Paris. He intends to decipher a document written in an invented language he discovered at Miskatonic University called The Society of Dreamers.
It all proved too much for dear old James William Barnes. The former rationalist and believer in scientific inquiry has founded the West Country Church of Christ Almighty and travels the by-ways and backwaters of America in a sandwich-board of corrugated iron.
Space Monkey took away the bound folder of Dreamhounds at the end of the session and was eyeing up Kiki de Montparnasse as his next player-character, remarking only that he had “lots of photos to use for inspiration.” Best not to ask.