Sunday 29 November 2015

The Unfortunate Occurrence at Thumbroke Manor

I have decided I want to run Gothic horror games using Into the Odd. I think that's a good and normal thing to do.

So here's a game we did several days ago. I ran it and Nico was the only player. It took maybe an hour to write and a bunch more hours to play, which is a good return on investment, especially if any of you guys use it also. I'm good at being characters though so that means I don't need a lot more to a run a game than a couple of strong personalities in a tense relationship. Your skills may lie in other areas! See how it goes.

  • Thumbroke Manor is on a rise overlooking the village, Thumbroke Estates. The road from the estates to the manor leads past a forest in which there are some ancient standing stones, only half-recognizable as being of human construction. Small animals, livestock, and the occasional child had been disappearing from the village on and off for a couple of months, but this has since calmed down.

  • Edgar Cottington, second earl of Thumbroke. Querulous, easily cowed and running out of money. Dead wife. Spending huge sums on treatments for Isobel.
  • Isobel Cottington, first-born child of Edgar. Pale and thin. Never says anything. Wasting away from a mysterious illness brought on by an unwanted suitor. Frequently confined to her room. Eats enormous amounts.
  • Robert Cottington, second-born child of Edgar. Something of a dandy. Returned from Australia with a sizable fortune and several members of Sydney's notorious Razor Gang in tow.
  • Doctor Vex. Treating Isobel for her mysterious illness with mesmerism, psychoanalysis, vitamins and long walks. Heavy black beard, heavier German accent.
  • Squizzy Taylor. Leader of the aforementioned razor gang boys.
  • Pisswart. Butler. Very long white moustache, fat at the base and thin at the tips.
  • Count Orlitz. Unwanted suitor of Isobel. Hungarian or something. Lives in the woods. Has a shitty little beard, is basically pathetic. Keeps trying to creep into the house to see Isobel, is rebuffed by the razor gang boys.

  • Edgar - recently lost a large sum of money at a notorious London dog-fighting den, which Nico's character, a gang enforcer named Dogtooth, had been sent to collect.
  • Isobel - still madly in love with Orlitz and pregnant with his child. Also, turns into a gigantic white worm every night, which is why she gets confined to her room.
  • Robert - wants sister dead, but can't actually kill her. Specific inheritance laws of Thumbroke earldom mean Isobel's child, if successfully born, stands to inherit title, a thought which Robert cannot abide, as the child would be half-foreign and also possibly some kind of worm abomination.
  • Doctor Vex - actually an east London con artist called Nicky the Voicebox, speciality being accents. Getting paid to pretend to be a doctor so that Robert can pretend something is being done while secretly waiting for his sister to waste away, hopefully before the child is born.
  • Count Orlitz - actually an intergalactic romantic worm monster disguised as a man. Is drawn by mysterious signals across void of space to true love, which happens in this case to be Isobel. True loves thus impregnated turn into worm monsters and go on nightly rampages to feed baby. If killed, will revert to true form.
  • Squizzy and Pisswart - exactly as they seem.


Thumbroke Manor outside
Thumbroke Manor inside. There is also an upstairs, but I didn't
 have a map so it's just everyone's bedrooms arrayed around
a central hall. The razor gang boys sleep on cots in the Pink Room
Isobel, as she looked before the Unfortunate Occurrence
Robert is any one of these guys
Dr. Vex, and definitely not Toulouse-Lautrec
Real life Australian mobster Squizzy Taylor
A worm that is white, and likely from space

This is being done from memory, so some of the details might not be exactly right, but it doesn't really matter.

Dogtooth hops off a slow-moving steam train, collar popped against the chill night air, and starts hiking through some farms. He arrives in the village at midnight, the spookiest time to arrive anywhere. He stays overnight in a little bullshit inn with a creepy hook-handed innkeeper who I made up on the spot and who makes no further appearance in the story. He shows up at the manor in the morning and scopes the place out, seeing Vex and Isobel (though he doesn't know their names) walking in the garden, before knocking on the door.

He is turned away by Pisswart, barges in anyway, gets into a fight with Squizzy, hits him so hard that Squizzy's whole outlook on life is changed and he renounces violence forever, then dodges Robert and some other razor gang boys to get upstairs and confront Edgar. Edgar begs forbearance, promises to get him the money in a week and delivers a whole bunch of exposition about the sad story with his daughter. Dogtooth, seeing that Robert is obviously the guy with all the money here - and taking advantage of the fact that Edgar doesn't want to see a fuss caused - offers his assistance in getting rid of Orlitz, which he's promised will free up some spare cash to pay Edgar's debts. Robert reluctantly accepts.

Dogtooth and the boys stake out the garden. They see Orlitz come in and climb the wall of the manor to drop a letter down the chimney of Isobel's bedroom, in which she is locked. They also hear a lot of mysterious and very loud banging coming from inside the room, which the boys tell Dogtooth not to worry about. (At this point I, Nico, believe that she's in some kind of vampire bride situation and that her limp body is smacking into the ceiling. This may be a classic case of the patriarchy) They chase Orlitz off. Next morning at breakfast Dogtooth brings up the letter and suggests that Robert show it to Doctor Vex, an idea which Edgar gets behind, so Robert can't really refuse. Dogtooth then corners Vex and asks what it was about.

Vex tells him, but is more concerned with revealing his true identity to Dogtooth and asking if Dogtooth can get him away from these crazy people. He reveals, though, that the letter made reference to Isobel's pregnancy and to living together among the stars. Dogtooth and Vex concoct a plan whereby Vex will kidnap Isobel and take her to the old mill, then demand that Robert put the ransom money (roughly equal to the money Edgar owes Dogtooth's boss) in a barrel and float it down the river.

Robert freaks out about Isobel being out at night, assumes that Orlitz is involved and demands that they search the forest immediately. Dogtooth, on this excuse, slips away to check the old mill. He finds Vex's mangled corpse and a trail of bloody slime. He alerts no-one to this development.

Robert, finding no-one in the forest (they've searched it a million times already) agrees to the ransom demand, although secretly plotting with Dogtooth and the boys to stake out the banks of the river in ambush. This provides Dogtooth with a perfect excuse to collect the money himself and bury it. He then takes Robert to the old mill, shows him Vex's body, says that Orlitz must have done it and they should get an angry mob to burn the forest down. Robert thinks this is a great idea.

They send some villagers to set fire to one side of the forest and wait with the boys and an angry mob on the other. A gigantic white worm emerges from the forest, screaming in an almost human voice. Orlitz is clinging to its underside, naked and smeared with blood. His dick is in the worm. It's awful. While the villagers are pitchforking the worm, Orlitz wriggles free and attacks Dogtooth and Robert with his maniac strength. They beat him to death.

Orlitz returns to his true form, as does Isobel. Isobel's naked and grossly pregnant corpse gives birth to a worm baby the length of a man's arm, which tries to wriggle away into the forest, but Dogtooth rolls a natural twenty and catches the little bastard by the tail. He proposes they kill it, but Robert - seeing his sister's disfigured body - has a last-minute change of heart and decides to adopt the worm as his ward. It will be the next Earl of Thumbroke.

Robert pays off Edgar's debts, as they agreed, not knowing that Dogtooth also has the ransom and thus got paid twice on this adventure. He asks if Dogtooth will be the worm's godfather. Dogtooth feigns enthusiasm and leaves as quickly as possible. THE END.

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