I have been doing another round of playtests for our upcoming Strange Tales of New England RPG (a project I hope to release sometime in the next year). Much of the game focuses on demons and exorcists, and to this point all of the exorcists have been good (there is a corruption mechanic that makes being an exorcist challenging if a character goes down an evil path). But recently I started a new campaign where one of the players wanted to play an exorcist who dabbles in malignant magic.
Father Thomas Parfait: An exorcist who is obsessed with Malignant Magic and can't help but dabble in it.
Eliza Hawthorne: A spirit medium.
George Stetson: A charlatan.
First Session Recap: The session began in Salem, October 20th. The players were investigating strange paintings after receiving a call from a woman in Marblehead who claimed to have purchased a masterwork that predicted future events. They discovered that the painting in question, though it was finished before the event, foreshadowed a great fire on the Orange Line* when one of its cars burst into flames going over the bridge across Mystic River. They went to the Derby Street Art gallery and discovered that another painting depicting a riot on Sylvan Street, on what looked to be Halloween. They asked about the artists name and was told he was John Damey, and that his paintings were rumored to portend disaster (to their knowledge no riots had occurred on Sylvan Street). They went to his apartment and spoke with John Damey. There they found a painting under a sheet that included an image of the entire party surrounded by something deadly but that wasn't clear because the painting wasn't finished. They also found out through their spirit medium that the artist was being haunted by his younger brother, who died in infancy. John Damey became irate when they brought up the subject so the party left to go speak with other people who had bought his paintings. Something else they learned was that the back of the paintings had key dates on them (one one of them was the birthday of Evan Damey, the other was November 1st, 2019). They also put a call into to a local Private Investigator to look into Evan Damey's Death. As they were leaving, the car was possessed by the spirit of John Damey's Brother, Evan, and it took some time for their driver, Terry Philips, to regain control.
The party left Salem and made some calls to other owners of John Damey's paintings, using numbers they had obtained from the Derby Street Art Gallery. They managed to contact both Isabel Wan and David Emerson. Emerson had the painting, The Overcast Lot and agreed to meet with them at his home in Newburyport. They were driven there by Terry Philips.
On the way, they noticed a shoddy white van following them. George told Terry to pull over, and the van pulled over as well. George then went out and spoke with the man in the van. When he asked why he was following them, the man waved his hand dismissively and was generally belligerent. They drove for a while, then pulled over again. This time Eliza sensed a spiritual presence in the van and had George distract the driver while she prepared an attack on the entity. The spiritual struggle caused the van to turn on and off, giving the party enough time to drive away before it seemed the van was able to catch up.
When they arrived in Newburyport they saw that David lived in a large mansion by the river. A servant brought them to meet David Emerson in his library where he showed them the painting, which just seemed to be of a shopping center parking lot in Plainville. However, in the background Emerson pointed to the outline of a tornado forming. Painted two years ago, it seemed to predict the Plainville Tornado which killed 94 people just a few months ago. They learned that Emerson was a novelist and that he was eager to help them. They asked for accomations for the night and he was glad to let them stay in his guest rooms (they were planning on seeing Isabel Wan in the morning and she lived nearby).
When the party went out to bring in Terry, their driver, they found him unconscious with an Ankh branded on his forehead. They were able to awake him and learned someone came to his car and asked for directions, then he blacked out. Other than that he seemed fine.
They went to bed that night but in the morning discovered that Terry was dead. There was no sign of struggle and the police were called. His body was brought to the morgue at Salem Hospital and the party gave statements before deciding their next step.
George looked up bodyguard services and found a man named Samuel Klein who was skilled in security, self defense and knew evasive driving maneuvers. For 5,000 dollars, Samuel agreed to meet them at the mansion in 20 minutes and to guard them 24-7 for the next week. George also talked with the private investigator and learned that Evan Damey died of natural causes.
They went to Isabel Wan's who was happy to help. She showed them a painting of downtown Cambridge. The center of the image was the Pickwick Apartments, which burned down and killed 44 people one year after the painting was made. If one looked closely at the windows of the apartment building, faces could be seen pressed against the glass, trying to escape the smoke. They also found a date on the back of the painting, which matched another date they discovered, November 1st 2019. Using a bowl of water, Isabel scried and claimed to see images of a couple in bed terrified. They speculated based on other information that these were the parents of Evan Damey, and Isabel believed they had been haunted to their deaths by him, that he then turned his attention to his brother after them.
Isabel offered to help them should they need it as they conduct their investigation and they left. On the way home they reviewed a phone call from the police that their driver died of a heart attack. They suggested gave the police the license plate of the white van that had been following them and asked if they could look into it.
The whole group stayed at George's house, sleeping upstairs while Samuel kept guard in a chair in the living room. Eliza made a protective talisman and secured it to the front door.
They awakened in the night to gunfire. Running to the stairs they heard Samuel to tell them to stay back, and more gunfire. There was a loud thud and the gunfire stopped. Then a horrible groan. Father Parfait recited the Chaplet of Saint Michael and whatever was attacking, ran out from the front door and disappeared into the streets. They found Samuel dead on the ground.
Eliza conducted a seance to speak with the spirit of Samuel. Se was able to communicate by knocking sounds, allowing them to ask 'yes'/'no' questions. They learned that the attacker was the body of Terry Philips (he had an Ankh on his head).
The police began questioning them with a bit more suspicious. They kept asking if George had asked officers to investigate the license number of a van. When he said that he had, they informed him those officers' went to the driver of the van's house on Pope Street to follow-up on the matter. They were found dead, with their faces eaten off.
After the police left, George hired another drive/bodyguard named Mellisa Adams, who arrived at their home by the afternoon.
This is where the session ended.
*Part of the T system subway system in Boston