Retreating from the dreary fog of real life I return to tell you the tale of how the Phillips siblings lost their innocence. We had a slight collapse of the local government and I have been busy organizing for a snap election for which I apologize. But enough about that, lets journey back to 1944 and see how the children are doing.
The Temple of Hypnos
When we last left the children they were going through a test of spirit in the hidden Temple of Hypnos on the mountain of Hatheg-Kla. Most of the children had passed and gained powers to manipulate the dreams around them but the youngest had failed miserably and merged with the strange Zoog creature into an amalgam of the two. While children attended to their transformed brother the voice of Hypnos declared that soon the gods would awaken and that they needed to lull them back to sleep. For this they would need to travel to the abode of the Lord of the Abyss, Nodens, to fetch a magical flute once used in the court of the Daemon Sultan himself, Azathoth. He continued that they must travel with this flute to the resting place of the gods, the ruined city of Kadath on the plateau of Leng and forestall the end of the world. With that he abandoned them there in the darkness under the mountain with only the bio lucent glow of the slimy god far below to light their way. They had their mission and the tools to complete it. This is where they woke up in the real world and went about their day.
As a part of the dream power system I designed there was the concept of dream energy used as a power source that was gained during the day and based on the players ingenuity of finding some way for their character to play and have fun in the dreary house. This was effective and forced the players to go deeper into their character during the waking hours and actually role play the children being children. Michael and Adrian often spent their day in the library reading Ambrose Smythes series of travel guides of Polynesia and the Orient, Peter and Nicholas started building a treehouse in the single old tree that reached up the side of the house all the way to their window and Miranda crafter elaborate plays and stories that she roped her brothers into performing with her. Each day awake brought a new dice roll for this type of dream energy and I heavily penalized repeats of the same idea, forcing players to improvise. I used the regular ten box system that the World of Darkness system uses for energy reserves so each success on the players roll game them one point of dream energy. I also included two ways for this pool to become tainted, confusing fuge dreams that capped of the pool making it smaller as you accumulated this confounding dream energy and nightmare energy that sat at the nose end of the spectrum and tainted the dream casters work if his pool fell low enough to reach it. Each of these I named after Hypnos’ three main children, dream energy after Morpheus, the chaotic fuge dreams after Phantasos and the nightmare energy after Phobos. I think with more work the system could have been good but I underused it and regret not giving it more of my time or setting it more in stone before play began.
The next night, when the children returned to the Dreamlands, they travelled down the mountain again. Once down they noticed that the soldiers sent with them from Ulthar had deserted them and left during the night. The group chalked it up to superstition on the soldiers’ part and did not seem to mind. Not really knowing their way around they decided to travel towards the sea as Hypnos had told them to seek the abode of Nodens out in the sea where the highest tower of a sunken city juts out of the waves. They set out towards the shore and had a few minor adventures on the way. Most notably they had to flee from a Cloud Beast, a sentient predator made from a cloud. They travelled down towards to coast and in the end, came to the strange basalt city of Dylath-Leen and spent the day walking its streets and markets. They ended up in the impressive harbor district where they charted passage with a swarthy man clad head to toe in silk who sailed a strange black ship. For payment they had scraped together some of Dylath-Leen’s currency by selling the last of their supplies that the deserting soldiers didn’t steal. The ship was crewed by other men like the captain, bronze skinned but heavily clad in colorful silks and carrying gaudy jewelry. The children stayed by themselves on the prow of the ship but did notice that none of the men ever went below deck of the ship, something Nicholas was quick to do himself. The hold was completely closed off, forcing Nicholas to move quickly and quietly so that the man in the crow’s nest did not notice him slipping over the bow and into a small hole on the side of the ship meant for the anchor. In the dark hold he found several strange monsters, gray frogs with a mass of small tentacles for heads, and promptly turned back the way he came. As he returned to the other children they saw the ruins of a lone tower jutting out of the sea ahead, a sign that they had arrived at the sunken city, and decided that monsters in the hold where the least of their worries for the time being.
Into the Abyss
The crewmen of the black ship hooked the ship to a jagged stone wall sticking out of the waves next to a large balcony hanging precariously on the side of the singular, massive, tower rising out of the sea. Tough there were dangerous ruins about that tower seemed to be the only structure at least partially safe. The crew watched closely as the children stepped of the ship and onto the balcony giving their promise that they would await their return. Opening the lone door on the balcony they saw the interior of the tower stretching down into the void. The tower seemed to be warded by some sort of magic, not letting any water in so that it was dry as the children descended the stairway on the inside of the tower. Occasionally there were windows where the water shimmered as if held in place by some magical force while below some strange silver light shone in the darkness giving the tower an eerie glow. During their descent into the void Michael noticed some dark figure out there in the deep sea when they passed one of the shimmering windows. It seemed vast but was quite far away so he ignored it and they kept walking downwards. When they arrived at the next window they were ambushed by a great aquatic tentacular star spawn reaching one of its arms and its facial tentacles through the window but was thankfully too large to fit through itself. Michael quickly cast a spell and drew the Elder Sign with magical silver fire in the air driving the beast back enough so that they could pass but they still had to dodge the beasts lashing tentacles as they dashed down into the dark. As they raced down the stairs they saw that the steps ran out and only the darkness, and the silvery light deep in it, was what awaited them below. Nicholas was the first to jump into the darkness but with the gigantic tentacle monster shaking the tower above the rest was not far behind. The darkness overtook them and they each lost consciousness.
The Palace of The Great Hunter
They awoke in a great hall made of silver and marble that shone with a strange light. On a black marble throne in front of them sat a man best described as an ancient Greek statue depicting a god. His chiseled features, his gray white skin, his toga and his flowing beard all fit the image of some ancient Hellenistic warrior god. I had decided early that Nodens would function similarly as Santa Claus does in the original Narnia story when he shows up and arms the heroes right as they need it the most. They spoke to him and he said he had watched them since they arrived in the Dreamlands and that he agreed with Hypnos on the importance of their quest. He presented Miranda with the Flute of the Outer Gods but went further and gave each of her brothers something taken on his many hunts of the creatures of the Old Ones. To Peter, the eldest, he gave The Golden Sword of Y´ha-Talla, an artifact of a bygone age of the world, once wielded by sorcerer kings before the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas. To Michael, Miranda’s twin, he gave the tome compiled by Abdul Alhazred, The Necronomicon, that detailed secret rituals to bind and banish as well as summon the servants of the Old Ones. Nicholas, the impetus one, was presented with a strange contraption one wielded by a race of strange conical plant men ruling over current day Australia sixty million years ago. The contraption could generate powerful blasts of lightning but could injure its wielder if he was not careful. Adrian, the youngest, was presented with a pallid mask of dead flesh with the promise that it would convince any monstrous foe that its wearer was one of its own kind. Given the chance I might have researched the lore better and come up with some other weapons but at the time these had to do. Nodens bade them farewell and asked them to hurry to Kadath as the gods would soon awaken. With that the children were again claimed by unconsciousness and awoke in the real world.
This concludes this chapter in the adventures of the Phillips children but they will soon end. I don’t think you can imagine the level of nostalgia I feel when I write these chapters but the feeling is overwhelming. I have heard the same from my players who are reading these chapters as I write them. I just hope that they are enjoyable for the rest of you too. Until next time, remember to play nice!