My Weird War 2 investigators (Brits) are braving the roof of the world to find out what the Nazis discovered there 2 years earlier ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmh4GLddGG8 ). Of course it will turn out to be a powerful supernatural threat which the Reich intents to use for winning the war in Europe. Not that things aren't looking up for them already, it's early 1942.
So far the party has discovered a monastery which was under a powerful geas after the Ahnenerbe expedition found information about their target and left a demon spike plugged into a ley line nearby to inhibit anybody near the monastery talking about the relevant topics.
The heroes discovered the thing, battled a guard entity, and were able to free the area from the device.
Then they moved on to Lhasa where the new year's celebrations were just beginning (they last weeks). Of course as foreigners they had to jump through hoops meeting with officials and gathering support for their presence there. Their secret mission was soon revealed and they got the chief of police, one of the few Tibetans fluent in English after an education in good old England, on their side.
Their Swiss travel journalist companion turned out to be a German spy. Well, they saw it coming a mile off, but they didn't have anything on him and couldn't bring themselves to just kill the guy. Anyway, they needed the advice of a revered Lama who had put the Ahnenerbe on the right trail 2 years earlier. The spy however managed to bribe/blackmail another monk into hiding the Lama under false pretenses just as the party entered Lhasa. They used documentation by a Nepalese spy to reconstruct the movements of Ahnenerbe and find the way to their secret target: Shangri-La.
Lhasa got a little crazy, but after a week or two they had found the hidden Lama and ensured his cooperation.
Thus equipped with the last puzzle pieces they mounted their expedition for the last leg of the journey, a complex ritualistic pilgrimage into the mountain wilderness beyond the Tibetan capital.
They tried to ditch the spy in Lhasa, but of course he came after them. A messenger beat him there though and the party split up to lay in ambush. Two PCs and their mountain guide found a ridge to lay in wait behind while the 3 others, their 10 porters and translator, as well as their 20 mules moved on for another 2 hours to make camp.
They were unaware that their mountain guide had been bought by the spy. They were also unaware that he had hired a gang of highwaymen to bring them up.
But did I mention the PCs have secret powers? One of them is bulletproof as long as he carries his fetish. He put the talent to good use. The other PCs aren't very shooty.
After killing the traitor and taking the spy prisoner he hurried after the others, suspecting something would happen at camp. Shots ringing across the plain spurred him on.
The mules were scattered, as were the porters. The PCs were pressed to the icy ground around their tents in the dark, ringed by a hand full of medieval simpletons with muskets hiding in the starlight shadows. They had guns, nades, and rudimentary cover, but they justs didn't know what was on them. All they knew was shadows are moving all around, their camp is in tatters, and the other side has guns.
The returning bulletproof one saw this as an opportunity: baddies crouching in the dark, one by one. An hour and very few sounds later the last highwayman was shoved into camp with hands bound, his friends all lying dead at their post.
They proceeded to try and question the spy but soon realized they would need to take weeks and that was just time they didn't have. A brief discussion over ethics ensued until one emptied his magazine off all but one bullet and handed it to the prisoner, who saw the benefits of a quick and honorable bullet over freezing starvation.
The next day the group broke camp with what porters and mules could be recovered (3+9). But soon the first portent was spotted and prompted them going completely insane, at least in the eyes of their staff. So those were settled to wait there while the party proceeded to lob what little gear they could carry through an icy river shallow no one else would cross.
On the other side they made camp and dried their clothes. It was spring and barely freezing, but the wind chill was considerable.
The next day they moved on and soon found a shrine by a lake. Instructed by their research they performed a ritual and opened their eyes to discover the lake gone and a cave entrance in its place.
Inside was pitch black, and they used flashlights at first. But when they turned them all off they found a luminescent fungus growing everywhere. Their notes implied to ingest some, so they did. It made for quite a trip. When it began to wind down they followed a ray of light out of the cave and found themselves emerging above another valley.
The Lama had had dark things to say about this valley, but so far it looks innocuous. That is where the last session ended.
The party are a medium, an alien abductee, an archaeologist adventurer, a scientist researching magic who defected from the Nazis, and a possessed messiah. They have some experience with astral projection, being without fear, being impossible to harm violently, arcane magic, and containing something that could be a demon.
They are on a mission for king and country, not that they were given a choice in the matter. No one knows why, but they must work together or the Empire will fall - so the prophecy goes, one made by a summoned goat demon anyway.
They explored a Uboot with a weird infestation run aground behind Scotland, followed a survivor all the way to London where he met with an old contact. This led them to the Ahnenerbe expedition into Tibet a year earlier, but they don't know why. So they were sent to find out. This took them through India where the cult of Kali had a bone to pick which culminated in a Temple of Doom situation within the Kali stronghold of Calcutta.
There is another time line in the present and the crunch is Laundry, a BRP variant made to portray the setting of Charles Stross' novels. In the 40s there is no Laundry so the mechanics are pretty much BRP/CoC with the homebrew substitution of Nemesis' Madness Meter instead of the Sanity stat.
Most of us lurk, and appreciate the story!
Do you want some idea seeds/suggestions to be thrown around? Maybe for the next session or something? Or maybe lay some ideas of your own?
I co-GM. We have some things laid out. After the characters have discovered what the Nazis took they get a major reveal of the background. Then we will jump back to the present and investigate some eerily familiar phenomena in our globalized world of corporate oppression.
I can't go into much detail. I am only part of a team and some things are still very rough. Also one of the players might find their way here...
I CAN post the prologue. We played through this in a short session were the players were medieval monks. It was years ago, but it provides a little context.
My head is full of India and Tibet in the 40s. If anyone wants to play there, ask away.
The line between horror and pulp in an investigative campaign also interests me a lot. This campaign has 2 time lines, and the present is much less pulpy than the 40s. The players have trouble switching, and we have taken to playing long stretches (years, 1 year = 6-8 sessions, one of which can last days) with one set of characters before switching to the others for a long stretch. I know a lot of horror rounds that have trouble with slipping into pulp. But I'm not sure how to define the line. All I have is vague references to Dracula and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, respectively.
The Laundry is another great topic. Okay, in the 40s the organization is in its infancy, hardly more than a benevolent conspiracy of mystics, bureaucrats, and the military behind the curtain of British war government secrecy. But the lore extends about a Century further into the past. The only difference is that we actually play the files which the present day characters later discover in their investigation. So I feel well within the scope of Stross. None of this is canon, mind you.
And I'm a glutton for punishment. Critique away. Nothing makes my day like a new perspective.
Went into some detail about religion in India, then made it a major theme on the way into Tibet. New year in Lhasa was crazy!
The whole structure of a monk society, paired with brutal caste strata and and absolute monarch creates a few dissonances in the mind of a modern person who knows the Dalai Lama from Ted Talks. Monasteries are universities, old people homes, hospitals, libraries, and places of court intrigue, some all at once. Monks beat rowdy crowds with long sticks in the streets. The police will escort noble ladies home if they wear their elaborate hairdo wrong.
I drew a lot on the CoC supplement Secrets of Tibet, especially for Lhasa. Just had to flavor it with some research results.
This part now where the party follows the cryptic instructions they wrote down while an old monk interpreted his life long research of secret texts for them in a way he beliefs cannot be right in Tibetan, which their translator then puts into English is pretty esoteric. They have to prove themselves of knowledge, faith, decency, patience, hardiness, and a bunch of other things. It's 7 challenges, the shrine and the cave was the first.
The flavoring is all Blavatsky's translations from the Book of Dzyan. It's passages like
>THE SEVEN WAYS TO BLISS WERE NOT. THE GREAT CAUSES OF MISERY WERE NOT, FOR THERE WAS NO ONE TO PRODUCE AND GET ENSNARED BY THEM. DARKNESS ALONE FILLED THE BOUNDLESS ALL, FOR FATHER, MOTHER AND SON WERE ONCE MORE ONE, AND THE SON HAD NOT AWAKENED YET FOR THE NEW WHEEL, AND HIS PILGRIMAGE THEREON.