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Mutant Chronicles

Damnation Dossier: NPCs for the Mutant Chronicles

As I’ve been working on Mutants & Heretics as well as the Dark Eden campaign, I’ve been having fun stat’ting up NPCs for the Mutant Chronicles. Here’s a couple of new NPCs:

Avena Reznik [NEMESIS]

“The pin-up of CEN” as she is known in Luna PD (although not to her face), Avena is a detective, first grade in Luna PD’s Homicide Division. No other detective in the division has such a high clear-up rate. She has featured in a number of high-profile media cases, but was once the subject of a case herself.

As a rookie Luna PD cop, Avena was captured and held prisoner for three weeks by Grigor Valentinov, the infamous “Rookery Raptor”. Starved and subjected to all manner of foul depredations, Avena somehow kept her sanity. At least, that is how the psych reports read. The autopsy reports of Valentinov state that he fell into the industrial machinery of the disused factory where Avena was being held. The post-mortem wounds were consistent with such injuries.

The truth is far darker. Chained to a a steel pipe, Avena was weak from starvation, but had worked a part of the pipe loose into a makeshift shiv she hid in her sleeve. Then Valentinov came to visit, looking forward to ending her life, whispering vile suggestions and atrocities into her ears. Unable to bear it any longer, Avena plunged her shiv into his neck.

Valentinov bled out in front of her and Avena couldn’t help but smile. Still chained to the pipe, Avena was still trapped, alone, and so very hungry… But there was fresh meat in front of her, and within reach. And at that point, Avena was lost to the Darkness, as the Black Hunger took hold. With the first bite, she was privy to Valentinov’s memories, and where the corpses of his victims were hidden.

Found staggering through the Nines by a routine patrol, she was the only survivor of the Rookery Raptor – and the press ate it up. Once she was cleared, she led Luna PD to every one of the graves of the Raptor’s victims with her “unique” psychological insights. Fast-tracked through the ranks, she quickly found her place in Homicide.

She has fallen under the sway of the Dark Apostle Algeroth, although she is unaware of it. The Black Hunger, her cannibalism, is quickly leading her down the path to damnation.  She has rationalised her behaviour by the ability to catch killers, often leading to a convenient fatality outcome. By consuming the flesh of the victims she gains insights into the identity of the killers. However, the growing urge to kill and feast on the flesh of killers is growing…

She often uses her Dark Gifts to conceal her kills, and her abilities mean she gains some insight into how an individual died. She is very careful to herself concealed from the Brotherhood and does everything by the book.

Avena is a statuesque 6′ 2” black woman, with dark-blonde hair (which she keeps close-cropped and short) and has striking blue eyes. She dresses like most of the Luna PD in functional clothing – although it is of the highest quality, owing to corporate sponsorship. She also fronts some CEN ads for beauty creams, appearing as a women of twenty-something years old. She is older than that, but no one has looked at her personnel file to affirm this. Her “diet” allows her to appear far younger than she is.

Avena can easily become part of the Investigators’ world. They may know her from the CEN broadcasts, or she takes a personal interest in their investigations. She is the ideal a rookie Luna PD looks up to. She may even be a mentor to one of them.

Avena works closely with Manny Leibovitz (see below) who knows her appetites and sees her as one of his best “customers”.

Attributes
StrengthPhysiqueAgilityAwareness
1091012
CoordinationIntelligenceMental StrengthPersonality
9888
Fields of Expertise
CombatFortitudeMovementSensesSocialTechnical
EXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOC
422221533122

Soak: Ballistic Nylon Trenchcoat, Heavy Civilian Shoulder Pads: (Head 0, Torso 1, Left Arm 2, Right Arm 2, Legs 1)

Wounds:

  • Head 3
  • Torso 8
  • Arms 4
  • Legs 6
  • Serious 6
  • Critical 4
  • Mental 8

Attacks:

  • Piranha Handgun (ranged): Range C, 4+[DS]3, Semi-Automatic, 1H, Close Quarters, Hidden 1
  • Dagger (melee): 3+[DS]4, 1H, Armour Piercing 1, Hidden 1

Special Abilities

  • Personal Dark Symmetry (4)
  • A pound of flesh: By consuming a pound or more of a corpse’s flesh as a standard action, Avena can learn who the corpse was and sees the last moments of the corpse’s life.
  • Black Hunger: After suffering a Repercussion in combat, Avena enters a berserk, cannibalistic fury, gaining the Braindead special ability. In this state, she gains one bonus Momentum on all Close Combat and Unarmed Combat skill tests, but all attacks against her gain one bonus Momentum as well. When in this berserk state, she must devour her foes as well. After killing a creature, Avena may stop to feed. She can feed for up to three turns, regaining [DS]3 wounds at the end of each turn. Under normal circumstances, this is voluntary, but if she has succumbed to the Hunger, she must feed as often as possible, for as long as possible, and it will only stop feeding if she is attacked – at which point, she will attack the creature that interrupted her feeding.

Dark Symmetry Spend

  • Dark Gifts: Avena can use the following Dark Gifts as a Heretic of Algeroth: Call Karnofage, Dark Curse, Dark Ward Painless, Summon Malignant, Swift Portal, Swift Shadows of Unrest.
  • Call Karnofage (Dark Soul): By spending two Dark Symmetry points, the Heretic summons a Karnofage, calling one lurking in the vicinity. The Karnofage appears within Close range of the Heretic, and may not act during the turn it is summoned. Multiple Karnofages may be summoned, increasing the Dark Symmetry point cost by two for each additional Malignant summoned. The Karnofages remain for as long as the Heretic concentrates on this Gift – as soon as he stops concentrating, the karnofages vanish, scuttling into shadows. See Dark Soul for more info on Karnofages.
  • Summon Malignant of Algeroth: By spending two Dark Symmetry points, the Heretic summons a Malignant, calling one lurking in the vicinity, or summoning one from one of Algeroth’s abyssal realms. The Malignant appears within Close range of the Heretic, and may not act during the turn it is summoned. Multiple Malignants may be summoned, increasing the Dark Symmetry point cost by two for each additional Malignant summoned. The Malignants remain for as long as the Heretic concentrates on this Gift – as soon as he stops concentrating, the Malignants vanish, scuttling into shadows or vanishing in a sulphurous cloud. See Dark Soul for more info on Malignants of Algeroth.
  • Swift Shadows of Unrest: This is one of the few Gifts in Algeroth’s pattern that is not directly martial in nature. It was given by Muawijhe, as a way of spreading discord, though Algeroth’s followers more commonly use it as a distraction before a battle. By spending one Dark Symmetry point. The Heretic produces a cacophony of screeching and terrifying murmurs, followed by a maelstrom of vaguely humanoid shadows. They can be directed to assail any the Heretic wishes to impair, so long as he is able to see them. The shadows are terrifying figments, appearing to claw at their victims, yet while their touch is chilling and uncomfortable, it inflicts no harm. While this Gift remains in effect, the Heretic can spend a Free Action to direct the shadows to assail a living, intelligent creature within Medium range. That creature must attempt a Willpower test with a difficulty equal to this Gift’s difficulty or suffer a mental assault.

Manny Leibovitz [Trooper]

Manny is a familiar sight to many of Luna PD, as he works for the Coroner’s office. He also maintains the nearby crematorium, where the bodies of homicide victims are disposed of after autopsy.

A cheery individual despite his vocation, Manny has a sunny disposition. Slightly overweight, he dresses smartly no matter the circumstances. He wears thick glasses, and is near-blind without them. He is a stickler for paperwork and procedure, almost to a fault, as many rookie PD officers find out.

Manny’s cheerfulness hides his dark and ghoulish side-line. He sells access to bodies. He doesn’t care what happens to a corpse as long as he gets paid. Over the years he’s been paid to alter autopsy records, lose forensic evidence, provide body parts to heretics, and cremate bodies without death a certificate. Some Luna PD Detectives have used him to frame would-be killers. Heretics may also use his services to dispose of their victims. There are also those like Avena Reznik whose appetites run to more sophisticated or depraved levels.

Manny is the kind of character the Investigators could encounter a lot in their investigations. He is the clean-up crew after the shoot-out, the pathologist on the scene. Discovering Manny’s secret will come as a shock to the Investigators.

Attributes
StrengthPhysiqueAgilityAwareness
8788
CoordinationIntelligenceMental StrengthPersonality
71088
Fields of Expertise
CombatFortitudeMovementSensesSocialTechnical
EXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOC
13111312121

Wounds: 5

Soak: None

Attacks:

  • Scalpel (melee): 1+[DS]3,1H, Armour Piercing 1

Special Abilities

  • First Responder: Manny is knowledgeable about human anatomy, and may re-roll a single d20 when making a Treatment or Medicine test, but must accept the new result.

Taking a breather!

It’s almost the end of summer here in Edinburgh. The leaves are already coming off the trees, and the Festival is finally ending. After a rotten personal start to the year, things have – by and large – sorted themselves out.

I’ve found it necessary to de-clutter, and got rid of some of my gaming collection earlier in the year. Thankfully, to people who will use them I hope. In a strange twist of fate this led indirectly to me being interviewed for a piece on RPG collecting, which I hope to see soon online.

ORC Edinburgh goes from strength-to-strength, although I find little time to organise things as much as I did. I’ve now lost count of the number of GMs running games. I am sticking to running both the Mutant Chronicles and Achtung! Cthulhu games. I’ve also set up some of the members as Moderators. Games Day was a great success with around 30 gamers turning up to play. We hope to repeat it again at some point but it’s not something I want to organise alone.

I went down to the Games Expo again this year. had a lot of fun working on the Modiphius stand, although I didn’t get to demo any Achtung! Cthulhu. It was far more focused on board games this year, with only a few RPG companies in attendance. I did get the chance to snag a slipcase of 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu there. I could have got it signed but it completely slipped my mind. AUGH!

I’ve pretty much gone off board and wargames for the time being. I don’t have enough space in the flat to store them, or to paint and assemble minis. I’m working longer hours and the freelance work I do eats up a lot of my time (but I love doing it).

I’m largely resigned to the fact that my days of being able to play games during the week are now over. Work has become pretty challenging, so I’m never really bored. Getting my work/life balance sorted has been a bit of a tightrope this year.

Mutant & Heretics

Mutant & Heretics

One of the high points of my year so far is getting my name on this little beauty of a book. Listed as a proof reader on most of the range and have also been logging the errors, writing the captions, doing the stats, and compiling the indexes.

Coming up

I’m working on the final book in the Mutant Chronicles Kickstarter, the “Dark Eden” campaign, which I hope to complete this week (or at least the bit I’m working on!).

I also plan to write up some sample Heretics and the adventure, “A Life in the Day” for the Mutant Chronicles.

Both Achtung! Cthulhu and Mutant Chronicles games will resume (I took some time off from MC). I’m hoping to begin converting Shadows of Atlantis to 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu soon.

I’m hoping to be at Dragonmeet this year too. Better get organised!

A Silent Spring!

It’s been pretty quiet here recently. There’s a number of reasons for this, and I’ll come to them shortly: it’s a mixture of good and bad news. Simply put: I’d had a lot of plans but some are going to have to take a back seat. I’ll be attending the UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet conventions this year, but no other conventions.

Again it’s down to time – and sanity. I’ve pushed myself to the limit over the last six months, for a number of reasons, most of them personal. They’ve no place here, but suffice to say, I’ve had to compartmentalize things and take some steps.

The following is somewhat bullet-pointed, but it helps me get things ordered in my head.

So, gaming-wise…

I’m running two fortnightly campaigns at ORC now: Achtung! Cthulhu’s Shadows of Atlantis, and the Mutant Chronicles Dark Symmetry campaign (the latter of which I helped write in a tiny fashion). I’m enjoying running both. I’ve good players, decent attendance; and as they’re already published, easy to prep for.

I’m doing freelance work for Modiphius Publishing on the Mutant Chronicles line – the indexes and occasional demented captions in most of the supplements are mine (as well as some of the proofing!). I’ve also been helping stat up the Dark Eden Supplement. I’m hoping to pick up more freelance work in the months ahead. I’m finding it very rewarding, as well as giving me a creative challenge.

I didn’t make it to Conpulsion this year, sadly – nor will I make Q-CON owing to a prior commitment. I hope to, next year; if time and finances permit. I will be at the UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet, of course! Looking forward to doing a bit more networking this year at them, plus I enjoy meeting other gamers. Not signed up to run anything this time, so I might get to actually play some games this time around.

My Edinburgh Gaming page still proves incredibly popular, so I’ve been keeping that updated! On the down side, I’d hoped to try to get the disparate gaming communities to talk to each other more, but I just haven’t had the time. I try to do it when I can though, but I step back from the politics now: it’s still very entrenched in old rifts and personal vendettas.

Over the years, I’ve been asked to review products or publicise Kickstarters and game launches. I’m of two minds about these. Often, it’s someone looking for free publicity or product evangelist for products that aren’t even ready. Also, getting time to do a playtest or demo review session can be tricky. On the other hand, it’s pretty good fun to do.

ORC’s Games day at the Kilderkin was a big success. There’s stuff we could do differently, and more effectively, and I/we’ve learnt from it. Not sure when we’ll do the next one, but next year I think! We had a lot of new visitors. The Kilderkin has also hosted the Conpulsion’s after-party and the Board Gamers took over the pub at one point. I like to think that I may have had something to do with that.

I ran a fun game of Conan (mid-Kickstarter) at Tabletop cafe , just up the road from the Kilderkin. I hope to run more demo games there soon, when time permits. Good food and drink, friendly staff, and a great atmosphere. I need to visit there more. As part of the Kickstarter, I’m going to be drawn in as a stat’ed NPC in Conan: Adventures in the Hyborian Age. I’ll also be appearing in art and as an NPC in the Infinity RPG.

The novel has been assigned as a secondary aim, along with any short fiction. I know I’m technically capable of writing them; just not temporally! It’s one of those things that I may revisit in future months, but for now, it’s on the back-burner.

I’m part of the Modiphius Silvershield scheme that allows GMs to get credit from running games – in my case, I ran a lot of games last year, so have built up some considerable credit. I also get points for referring new business. You can get 10% off Modiphius products in their store (both PDF and print) by using this link r.sloyalty.com/r/uc3wlqcchb8R

I’m taking my freelance work seriously enough to register with the Inland Revenue for Self-Assessment. Morally, and practically, it is the right thing to do. I’ve done it before, during my Nova Games era. There’s a chance I may or may not have to pay more tax; but I don’t think I’ll be lucky enough to get any tax rebate. I’m certainly not paying for an accountant to do it.

I’ve managed to ask some members of ORC Edinburgh (the gaming community I help run) to take on Moderator roles for the site, so I can start taking a step back from that side of things. It’s an easy transition to make, thankfully. I’ve lost count of the different groups now, or what games are currently running and/or looking for players. ORC is now so big, it’s become difficult to keep track of things, in that respect.

I’m not doing any war gaming or board gaming now, I’m afraid. I don’t have the time during the week, and need to maintain a “normal” life as it were. Plus, I seem to have trouble dealing with some of the more complex ones – I think it might be a side effect.

I’d hoped to get a chance to play some starter games of Cassus Belli’s Infinity game (the miniatures are absolutely amazing), and Battletech. I’d been thinking of trying to develop some of the Cthulhutech setting into the Battletech rules for some time now. I’ll get around to it at some point, I reckon.

I’m still awaiting the RAFM Cthulhu minis from their Kickstarter, and the Cthulhu FATE book, Into the Shadows. I’ve got doubts I’ll ever see these, as it seems anything Cthulhu-related on Kickstarter is doomed to “eternal lie”… but at least the 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu shipped (which I should get from my FLGS)!

I’ve tried to do a lot over the last six months and it has caught up with me spectacularly, so I think it’s for the best that I “clear my head” of the extraneous clutter.

In other news…

I’m reducing my time on social media. It can easily consume a huge amount of free time or attention. I’m on Google+ and LinkedIn, but hardly use them. I am still on Twitter and Facebook. It’s easier if you spend 15 minutes on there, rather than getting involved in the minutiae! In moderation… I should probably update my profile on LinkedIn anyway to reflect the changes in my professional circumstances (and the About Me part of the site)!

I’m moving out of the flat (briefly) for renovation work, which could take a week or more. Had another aqueous insurgence (water ingress) in January! I can’t say it’s not a stressful place to be in (in every sense of the word), but things are moving forward. Looking ahead to getting it over with: every stage completed is one step forward. Still, it’s a bit of an “embuggerance”. I’ve got to get quotes for removal and storage and have to make it clear to the loss adjuster I’m NOT going to be staying in the flat while they rip down the plaster-and-lathe ceiling.

My day job has recently thrown up a number of challenges. I do a lot of work with virtualised machines (VMware) and field sites. The Chief Executive at my work has personally congratulated me on the work I do supporting the science. I’m becoming far more comfortable with the High Performance Cluster running Scientific Linux at my work. I’ve also manage to remove Flash Player and Quicktime from our PC estate of 1500+ computers. By the way, if you haven’t removed these, you should! Flash in Chrome is “sandboxed”, but not in other browsers like IE or Firefox. Quicktime is longer supported or patched by Apple, and is now insecure.

I need to reorganise this website: make it more simple. There’s too many pages, and this site has evolved, content-wise. It’s gone far beyond what was a simple RPG setting site. In fact, it’s been largely sidelined in recent years, as I’ve become more focussed on Edinburgh’s gaming community, conventions, and freelancing. That’s pretty easy to sort, thankfully. Not sure if I’ll keep using this site theme, though.

I’m also heading down south for the May Bank holiday, to Craster Tower, a 5* accommodation. It’s owned by my other half’s family, so I thought I’d give it a plug! Plus I’ve never really been anywhere 5* 🙂 My girlfriend used to work as an Archaeologist on Ernest Shackleton’s base camps in the Antarctic so we’re heading to London for the Shackleton Centennial service at Westminster Abbey. I’ve been reading up on him, and her experiences there might be very handy when I run Beyond the Mountains of Madness or Assault on the Mountains of Madness (Achtung! Cthulhu).

All in all, feeling I’m in a better place than six months ago!

Fiction – Morning, Noon, and Night

This (very short) piece of fiction is set within the Mutant Chronicles universe, the day Imperial Conquistadors unearth a strange tablet on Pluto… The day of the Big Scream. It is also available to download as a PDF here. Happy to hear any feedback in the comments – I plan to do more of these.

Morning, Noon, and Night

By Bill Heron

-MORNING-

“Morning, Barnes!”

Barnes jumped. He’d been dozing.

“Chadwick, I carry a loaded gun. You do realise that startling a man who’s packing is a bad idea?”

“Sorry, old chap.”

His partner sat down at his desk opposite, and pushed a cup of liquid heaven toward Barnes.

“Is that… oh, that’s the good stuff!” said Barnes taking a sip.

“Proper coffee. Not that instant rubbish even a Niner would turn their up nose at. I think I’d kill for a proper cuppa though. So you’ve been at it all night?”

Chadwick waved his hand out of the stained window, permanently wedged open with a copy of “Living the Capitolian Dream: The Novel”. Old Earth was already sinking below the Luna City horizon. Barnes often wondered how those astronauts that took the first “photograph” on the Moon would view the sprawling metropolis of humanity that now occupied the surface.

Chadwick had been speaking. Oops.

“Sorry, what was that?”

“I said, you’d probably be better getting that paperwork done another time. Your handwriting is atrocious. You should use a computer, if only for the right words to use.”

“Ah, well, it’s the damn insurance forms. For the lawyers and the corps. Some collision. An Imperial ad guy wasn’t pay attention, and rear-ended some Bauhaus lawyer’s fancy car. So not only do I have the usual insurance and crime reports, they’re both suing each other’s ass. They asked for someone in authority in Luna PD and those bastards in Uniform thought it’d be fun to serve me up. You’re probably right though. I’d better get some shut-eye. I’m on the Graveyard. Hope we don’t get another night like last Friday”

Chadwick winced, fiddling with his phone.

“Brand bloody new and needing another update! Gaah! Was that the night with the crazy Ivan?”

“Yeah, he’d come up from Old Earth, and was off his face on something. Those Whitestar guys are tough. My jaw still aches. It took me and four uniform to take him down. Try the Stone Age solution.”

Chadwick banged his phone repeatedly on the desk.

“Piece of crap. Can’t help but wish we weren’t so reliant on things like these – 2481, and we still have to pull the damn battery to reset them!” he said, as he pulled out the offending article.

Barnes grunted in reply, downing the rest of the coffee. He thumbed the fingerprint link for his weapons locker. It beeped. And stayed closed. There was thump somewhere within. He tried again. Bleep. Thud. Bleep. Thud. BleepBleepBleep… Thud.

“Argh!”

Barnes briefly considered flouting Luna PD regs and walking out with his piece. One last try. Bleep… Thump…

“F..”

Click.

“..inally. See you later, Chadwick.”

Chadwick grunted and waved vaguely in his partner’s direction, engrossed in his phone.

Barnes left the PD building and briefly considered breakfast. Nah. End of shift. Get a drink. One; then home.

-o0o-

The bar was empty. Perfect, Barnes thought. Aside from that damn Giant Eye crap on CEN. Barnes waves the bartender over.

“Isn’t there anything else on?”

“Nah. Damn vid is stuck on that channel. Remote doesn’t work anymore. Thinking of trashing it, maybe get one of those new Mishima ones.”

“Right.”

“Get you another?”

“Nah. Going home.”

He leaves a cluster of glasses behind.

-o0o-

Capitol District. He’s waiting on the damn subway. Again. Just missed one, and now the damn AI on the intercom is acting up. Sounds like someone chanting. Like nursery rhymes or lullabies, backwards.

Barnes wishes he’d had something to eat now. Damn. Even a Looney Burger. With Fries. Extra fries. And the Special Sauce.

There’s the “bing!” of an incoming train.

There’s something wrong; Barnes can’t put his finger on it, but the vibration on the track seems somehow… off.

The train screams through the station. No: that’s not the train. The people on the train are screaming. It doesn’t stop. They don’t stop. Barnes sees hole-like eyes and mouths, faces and hands pressed against the windows; a choir of terror. He blinks. The train is already gone.

“Bloody teenagers and their party trains” says a nearby businessman, Imperial by the look of his suit.

Barnes wishes he had his gun. He thinks something is VERY wrong.

-o0o-

Barnes feels drunnnnnkkkkkk. The subway is out of commission. An accident further down the line, apparently according to the Transport Network AI. The escalators and pedways are offline. He’s annoyed. Oh well, he thinks, he’ll get up those steps, even though his sense of balance is shot.

Damn, even the street ads are showing the Giant Eye. Seriously, Capitol? He gets out his phone. Fumbles with the touch pad ID lock. It screams at him in electronic feedback.

Barnes bumps into someone.

“Sorry, man.”

The guy doesn’t answer. Probably on some drugs. Probably seeing the Sky God or something.

At least his phone’s stopped screaming. It sounds like it is breathing.

Barnes looks up. Above, a Capitolian liner collides with a Bauhaus freighter. Their union is one of fire. It’s not the only one. Barnes suddenly wishes he’d gone for breakfast, as the sky falls in fire.

-NOON-

It’s Noon. Barnes ignores the crawling sensation in his gut. Chadwick is gone. Barnes is still angry about that. He faces an empty chair. He tinks to himself that’s not right. Lunchtime was when you bonded with your team mates. There’s a lot of empty chairs.

Chadwick was in the wrong place at the right time, that’s all. It’s been two months, since Luna City went to Hell. Some parts are still burning. Damage control crews can’t get close. Then there’s the looting and violence. Psych wards are full to the brim and that’s for the rich. The Nines would give Dante’s Inferno a run for its money.

Barnes studies the pile of paperwork piled high beside him. Actual damn paperwork: case files, forms, photos. Little slices of horror in a manila folder. Luna PD had switched back to paper copies: one of the Justice AIs had dumped a list of Criminal Informants in the public domain. They were still finding the bodies, or parts of them. Even the computer on Barnes desk had no network, and was little more than a glorified typewriter. The Help key was missing. No surprise.

He looked at the pile of paperwork again. Picking them up, he split the pile between minor and redlined. There was a lot of redline cases – the real heavy ones. Barnes sighed and grabbed the first one.

“Suspected ritualistic murder….” He said, guessing…

“Damn.”

He was correct. Those were messy. There were a lot of them now. With a city descended to Hell, people were finding God in the Devil.

He sighed, flipping the folder open, and began reading the case summary. He didn’t want to look too hard at the photos.

-o0o-

The Piranha pistol jolted in Barnes’ hand as he fired shot after shot at the target. Beside him, Evans of Forensic Accounting (“A slide-rule and a gun”! as she put it) watched as he cranked the tattered target back from the range.

Barnes grunted, and removed his ear protectors. He grimaced.

“Slightly off-centre. Need to practice, I guess.”

Evans nodded.

“With all the other crap that’s going on, I don’t think we’ll be running out of bullets anytime soon. The Corps are getting antsy with each other. Their security teams are getting tooled up. So I hear.”

Barnes holstered his gun, and policed his brass, picking up the spent shells to recycle them.

“Fancy a drink later? Bunch of us are heading down to the Alexander at the end of the shift? It’s a dive but the booze is cheap.”

“Naw. I don’t drink anymore – ‘sides I’m on the late shift.”

“Ooof. Good luck out there! It’s getting worse, and if the Corps kick off…”

“Yeah, stay safe, Evans.”

-NIGHT-

It’s a bad one; Barnes can tell. There’s a rookie cop outside. He’s sitting on the kerb, probably the first responder. That’s not how Barnes knows though. It’s the silence. It’s the look on every cop emerging from the apartment. When they see Barnes, their look changes to relief: at last, someone in authority: they’ll sort it out.

He looks around. It’s a high rise in the Imperial district. Twenty floors up, but with a working lift, thankfully. The hallway was clean. Someone had money, if that’s case. Barnes had spent too much time in graffiti-daubed, partially-ruined, hallways; strewn with the detritus of Humanity, sometimes literally.

Barnes paused to flash his ID to the cop on duty.

“Who’s in charge right now?”

“Um, Sergeant Rodriguez, sir.”

“Barnes, that you?” a voice called from within the apartment.

“Yeah, how are you, Art?”

“Glad I didn’t eat before I came here. Make sure you put on some coveralls. It’s a messy one.”

-o0o-

Suited and booted, Barnes stepped carefully into the scene. A pair of suitcases stood close to the door.

He’d heard that there was five-and-half litres of blood in the human body. He could believe it. Some was still dripping from the walls. A canvas of gore.

Rodriguez filled him in.

“OK according to Building Security who called it in, there was screaming at 02:14 hours, abruptly cut off. The cases by the door are labelled Vanessa Timmins, resident here with husband Andrew. Judging by the mess, it looks like she was surprised. Access logs show here entering the building at 02:06. She’d been visiting her mother in Southside apparently.”

“What about the husband?”

“Still checking. We’ve not had him leave the building in several days. He’s clean, no rep. Works for a Bauhaus subsid, downtown. If he still here, we’ll find him.

“Sarge! I’ve got something.”

The voice came from the bedroom. Barnes stepped around the ruins of a human being, trying to find a dry spot to step in.

-o0o-

The bedroom was dark, the window sealed and taped shut so no light could get in. Barnes thought it odd. The light switch didn’t work, and he noticed the bulb had been smashed. He shone his torch upwards and around. Barnes gut clenched. He almost intuitively knew what he was about to see. There was bad feeling he’d had just walking into the place. Strange symbols covered the walls and ceiling carved into the plaster with some sharp instrument. He’d seen them before: not a sharp instrument, but claws.

“What have you got, rookie?” asked Rodriguez.

The young Uniform Luna PD reached under the bed and eased out what looked like a large sack of some kind. It was some kind of leather, around six feet long and almost as wide, torn down the middle. The rookie carefully pulled it into light, mindful accidentally destroying evidence wasn’t going to help their career.

“What the Hell is that?” said Rodriguez.

Barnes gulped.

“Don’t touch it! On Old Earth, they had these things called caterpillars. They were the larval form of an insect known as butterfly. When they changed they created this thing called a ‘chrysalis’ around themselves. A cocoon where they changed shape.”

“Sorry, sir – but are you saying these is some kind of cocoon? Must be a bloody big bug.”

“Yeah, tear your head clean off. Art, how tall was mister Timmins?”

“Around five-ten according to his file – wait, you’re not serious? He was cocooned, by what? He’s turned into a butterfly?”

”Hell, no. Something much worse. Rookie, out.” Barnes jerked his thumb towards the door.

“Art, we need to seal this room. I gotta make some calls.”

Dragonmeet 2015: D-3 Days

Sorry, it’s been a bit quiet around here for a while – I’ll come to the reason for that shortly! Dragonmeet is on this weekend, a London convention that I attended last year for the first time. It’s only one day but I enjoyed it last year – plus there’s a pub meet for the following day. It’s also a chance for me to catch up with the Modiphius crew again after the UK Games Expo. They’re a nice bunch.

I’m heading down on the Friday afternoon (4.5 hours on the train), a bit of a long haul, but am quite looking forward to it. I’m running demos of Achtung! Cthulhu, and the Mutant Chronicles. I’ll be running them at the Modiphius stand. You can book a slot to play on the day at Dragonmeet – space is limited to four players though, so you’ll need to be there early!

The Achtung! Cthulhu scenario, “Under the gun,” may be the first time it has been run by anyone else. Written by none other than Graeme Davis – one of the team who designed Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay RPG (WFRP), it should be a lot of fun. I’ll be using Call of Cthulhu for it. The Mutant Chronicles scenario is one I’m doing myself, “A Life in the Day,” which I’d better get writing! A Luna City Police Department game (AKA Luna City Blues), I’m writing it to try and demonstrate the various aspects of the 2d20 system.

I’ve recently started both a Achtung! Cthulhu campaign, alternating with a Mutant Chronicles one. I think I may have sold them too much on the games. Or my players are trying to kill me. Modiphius do some discounts at conventions, so the players are sending me to get the following:

2 x Achtung! Cthulhu Investigators Guides
4 x Mutant Chronicles Rulebook
Mutant Chronicles Players Guide
Achtung! Cthulhu Keeper’s Guide
Achtung! Cthulhu Horrors of the Secret War
2 x Achtung! Cthulhu Shadows of Atlantis Campaign

Oof.

The reason for the silence is that I’ve been asked to write for the 2d20 system (Conan, Infinity, Mutant Chronicles, John Carter on Mars) by Modiphius Publishing. It’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve already prepared indexes for sourcebooks regarding Capitol, The Brotherhood, and Cybertronic. I also helped proofread, contribute to, and index the Dark Symmetry Campaign book, which looks great. I’ve spent the last few days indexing the Dark Soul source book. It’s the one dealing with the bad guys: the Dark Apostles and the Dark Legion. I am also in charge of something I’m calling BRIMSTONE LIBRARY (a universal index to all the Mutant Chronicles material produced by Modiphius). I’ve also been accorded the opportunity to compile the official errata for the MC core book.

I’m enjoying the experience, and if I’m honest, it’s always something I’ve want to do – but real life always got in the way. If anyone reading this is at Dragonmeet, come say Hi – I don’t bite, but you may leave with a few books as a result…

Dragonmeet Flyer

Dragonmeet Flyer