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Let's Play: Lovecraft - 'The Terror in the Crags' (Complete)

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by grotsnik, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    D: The landlady mentioned an old woman near James' lodgings. Could be worth following up on.
     
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  2. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    D.
     
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  3. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Well, what with you being a sheltered college professor and all, I guess I could allow,

    D: ...'also buy revolver, but without having enough time to figure out how to use the damn thing, leading to hilarious ineptitude later on when you actually try to fire it.'

    ...actually, that sounds like fun.

    Dammit, I need to start making these choices more gritty, grey and controversial. All this consensus just isn't healthy.
     
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  4. oscar Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    B, a healthier body means a healthier mind. And the revolver.
     
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  5. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    Well, this is a Lovercraftian tale, it's obvious that people is more interested in obscure mysteries than playing Indiana Jones.
     
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  6. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
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    [​IMG]

    KILL EM ALL!

    Let Azathoth sort em out!
     
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  7. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    You spend the next few days making enquiries about this old woman who’d been harassing James. His Scottish landlady tells you, shortly, that it was a Pole.

    “Could only ‘a been one of them,” she sniffs. “Wi’ that long greasy white hair. Very tall, like. Think I’d seen her down at the canal before. Stank o’ riverwater. Skinny as bone, wi’ a horrid glass eye. An’ she’d got into the hall, somehow, while Professor Hurley was in his study – hammering away at the door, caterwaulin’ in her Eastern gobbledeygook, while ‘e’d locked himself inside. Called the constable, o’ course. Poor old Professor Hurley was pale as a ghost afterwards.”


    [​IMG]

    You go down into the Polish quarter of Arkham, and amongst the teetering, crumbled apartment buildings and the fumes of oilskin, you use your smattering of the language to ask about a tall old lady with white hair and a glass eye. Some of the Poles seem genuinely helpful and curious; others gaze at you dully and pretend not to understand. None of them admit to having ever seen this old woman.

    The night before you’re due to leave, you head into a seedy tavern and purchase an old revolver and twelve bullets off a man recommended to you by the Porters. He grins lopsidedly at you and says he’ll teach you how to shoot the thing, but you refuse. You don’t have enough time – hopefully you won’t need to use it.

    *

    At dawn, outside the enormous grey gates of Arkham, you meet with your group. Jezebel Kline, wrapped up in a light blue overcoat and a hat to disguise her feminine hair, nods and smiles at you. James greets you distractedly and goes back to checking over the excavation equipment piled up on the cart with the ever-sullen Salman, who gives you a distinctly hostile glare. The five black workers mutter amongst themselves in Creole.

    Whipple, trotting up to the assembly on a magnificent brown horse, seems delighted about something; he soon explains why.

    “Got the telegram from New York this mornin’,” he announces, waving the scrap of paper. “My little Sarah’s havin’ a baby. Gentlemen, ladies – a fine omen for our expedition.”

    Salman leads a slightly bedraggled grey mare up to you. He spits. Saliva flecks his long beard.
    “You can ride,” he asks, “sir?”

    Thanking the heavens for that season you spent at a horse-trainer’s in Vermont, you snatch the reins stiffly out his hands and mount. Jezebel smiles, to herself, at the sight of that.

    And the ten of you depart, heading north.

    *

    “Oh! Hi-oh!”
    You sit upright in your saddle.

    Whipple’s horse dances back and forth along the edge of the road. The old man’s face, beneath his wide-brimmed hat, is turned upwards, to the ridge stretching out above you. He halts his horse and stands quite still, as if frozen. Just staring.

    You ride up towards him, and call,
    “Mr Phillips! What’s wrong?”

    He doesn’t turn his head. His eyes are a little wide, and he’s sweating.
    “There’s someone up on that ridge,” he says.

    You turn to stare at the empty cliff edge. There’s nothing to be seen there but grass.
    “Who was it?” you ask.
    He still doesn’t turn to look at you.
    “Thought it was a woman,” he said. “All in white. White hair, too. Standing up there on the ridge.”
    “Well, we’re not too far from Arkham,” you reply. “A girl out minding cattle, maybe, or-”
    You notice something. The old man’s hands, gripping at his reins, are trembling.
    “Something,” he mutters, “not right. Not right at all. Old hag. Tall as a man. Staring down at me.”
    A shiver passes through you. The old woman, you think. James’ visitor.
    “What’s the matter?” James calls, from the rear of the procession. “Stephen, why have we stopped?”

    You turn, and spur your mare up the rise of the grassy ridge.

    *

    [​IMG]

    At the top, you dismount and drop. The ridge is empty; in the curving valleys below, you can just make out the first scattered buildings of Arkham. But there’s nobody to be seen.

    Whipple turns his horse about.
    “Coulda sworn,” he mutters, “coulda sworn she was here..”
    Jezebel asks, sardonically,
    “A ghost, Mr Phillips?”
    “An angel, more likely,” James says, loudly, for the benefit of the workers. “Blessing our mission as we depart.”

    Something is glinting in the grass beneath your feet. You stoop, and lift it up.

    A heavy dark stone pendant, about the size of a man’s fist; tri-cornered, bound up with a loop of ragged, foul-smelling string. Tiny Greek letters have been etched into its flat surface.

    For Death stands over his shoulder.

    “What’s that, Stephen?” James calls, curiously. The workers are beginning to babble, with obvious nervous excitement. You catch a single, repeated word in French.
    Marked.”


    What do you do?

    A: Loudly dismissing all forms of primitive superstition, place the pendant in your pocket.
    B: Loudly accepting the pendant as a gift from the divine Fates, place it in your pocket.
    C: Offer the pendant as a gift to Jezebel Kline.
    D: Hang the pendant around your neck.
    E: Toss the pendant carelessly off the side of the ridge.
     
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  8. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    D: Hang the pendant around your neck.


    We are already doomed by the way.
     
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  9. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    That's the spirit!
     
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  10. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    D is the most extreme option. Let's take it.
     
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  11. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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    D, either it works and will save our nerdy protagonist's ass in the future... Or cause him an horrible death by tentacle-rape.
     
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  12. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
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    A is what a true Lovecraftian protagonist would do in the early stages of a tale. Can we do any less?
     
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  13. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    D takes it. Will our EXTREME readers come to regret it? (Also, am I going too quickly with this? It's been a quiet Saturday so I'll probably be a lot slower from now on with the updates.

    You’re not sure why you do it. Perhaps it’s to prove a point to James – or to show yourself that you do not fear silly superstitions. But you lift the pendant, grasping the horrid string between your fingers, and place it over your head.

    The cold stone trembles against your shirt, right over your heart. The mutterings from the workers are more pronounced now. One of them, the tall, heavy-set fellow called Andre, crosses himself and shakes his head ruefully at the sight of you.

    A growling sound. Rufus has shuffled between your mare’s legs; he crouches in the yellowed grass, his fur up on end, baring his teeth at you.

    *

    You make good time the rest of the afternoon, and at around six o’clock, as the sun looks close to setting, James suggests you make camp on a flat stretch of grassland besides a gently babbling brook. The workers, who have remained in the same foul mood all day, constantly fixing their gazes upon you and the pendant around your neck, set up their own smaller camp further out.

    As you dismount, Whipple takes you by the arm.

    “Happen to have a bottle of fine champagne in my haversack,” he says, “and there’s a good ration of rum and water in the cart. Might not be a bad idea to ration a little out tonight. To wet my grandchild’s head. And,” he adds, giving you a serious look, “to lighten the air around here.”

    James is already setting up Jezebel’s tent, going at it with boyish enthusiasm. She whispers something in his ear; he laughs, ecstatically, and she giggles back. Their fingers link for a moment.

    You turn away. The stone pendant knocks against your breast. For a moment you feel slightly sick.

    A flock of geese flies by, overhead, in the dying crimson sky; the alien honking, low, rhythmic, and strange, reminds you of the drums that beat in the shadows of Indonesia. The hoots of the tribesmen as they worked themselves up into a state of frenzied, primal transcendence, dancing furiously through the flames, stabbing at their own feet – calling Him. Calling their old god back from the depths. And then the sound passes by, like the fading laughter of a mocking witch.

    *

    Night comes, and the mood amongst the workers fails to lighten; Andre listens as Whipple instructs him as to how much of the rum they may drink. Then he and his companions take the bottles and trudge back out of the firelight and into the darkness.

    James glances at you sympathetically and takes his seat by the fire. Beside you, Jezebel keeps staring at the pendant dangling at your chest.

    “Ancient Greek, did you say it was?” she asks. “How very fascinating.”

    Her fingers stretch out to touch it.

    The champagne comes open with a pop.

    “Here’s to my first grandchild,” Whipple roars, “and here’s to a damn fine trip!”

    *

    Several glasses later, and having partaken of some of Salman’s surprisingly tasty stew, you excuse yourself and stroll away into the darkness to urinate.

    Voices carry in the pitch of night. Voices yelling in pidgin English. Then a chorus of shushes. You hear your name repeated, more quietly.

    Slinking forward, you begin to make out the dim orange light of the workers’ fire. Empty rum bottles lie scattered around the dry earth.

    One of the workers, the enormous man called Edward, is gesticulating, with drunken, savage gestures, towards Andre, who is holding out both of his hands in a placatory manner. Edward says your name once more and raises his hands to his own chest. Then he jerks his fist down in an unmistakably violent way. Andre pushes him. And the two of them grapple for a moment in the dust, their fellows yelling them on all the while.

    Eventually Edward manages to get the upper hand. He shoves Andre violently backwards; the smaller man holds up his hands in supplication, as if to say ‘you win’. Edward walks triumphantly across to the fire and lifts, from beside the flames, a wood-cutting axe. He brandishes it. His friends howl and scramble to lift up burning logs from the campfire. Andre hesitates, and then does the same.

    Edward snaps your name again, and again, spitting it like a curse. He hefts the wood-cutter’s axe in the air.

    [​IMG]

    What do you do?

    A: Why, go to bed and sleep. These cowards are full of strong drink and they’ve got themselves all worked up. They may posture and threaten now, when they think nobody is watching, but they’ll be sober and full of regret in the morning.

    B: Stride in and confront them myself. They won’t have the guts to go through with whatever they’ve got planned, and we need these men for the excavations, so we can’t afford to lose them. A firm hand will remind them who’s in charge.

    C: This is mutiny. These brutes would gladly kill us all. I should sneak back to our camp, inform the others, and we could come back with rifles. Some warning shots to scare them off, and if they don't...well, it'd be self-defence.

    D: Even with guns, the odds are against us; James and I are no soldiers, and Miss Jezebel is in danger. If I sneak back to the camp, we can put out the fire, pack up the most important equipment, and get away safely before these wretches make their attack. We might lose some of the heavier items, but at least we can be certain that none of us can come to harm.
     
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  14. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    D: Even with guns, the odds are against us; James and I are no soldiers, and Miss Jezebel is in danger. If I sneak back to the camp, we can put out the fire, pack up the most important equipment, and get away safely before these wretches make their attack. We might lose some of the heavier items, but at least we can be certain that none of us can come to harm.


    Let's go full down the road to perdition.
     
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  15. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    C

    This is mutiny. We would do well to fetch some rifles.
     
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  16. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    LP title changed, y'all, to be more suitably Lovecraftian. 'Lamentations in Scarlet' - seriously, what the fuck is that?
     
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  17. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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    C, we need to execute these brutes.
     
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  18. oscar Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    oscar
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    B

    Keep 'em in line. Could even brandish that revolver about.
     
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  19. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
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    We need their help, and they've just forgotten themselves from too much drink. Let's not make things harder on ourselves by trying to do all the manual layer and the hefting. We're scientists, not pack animals.

    Mr. Kong, my bags.
     
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  20. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Ugh, still a tie between shootin' and diplomacy. Hopefully one of this LP's many, many regular readers will step up to the plate and vote.

    If not, could any random bozo who happens to be reading this give me a letter between A and D, please?

    If bozos are in short supply, I'll...toss a coin. Or something.
     
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  21. JoKa Cipher

    JoKa
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    random bozo here: D please, good sir.
     
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  22. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Many thanks! So that would make it...

    ...a three-way tie.

    Goddammit, I'm a moron.

    Well, in this case, and for future ties, I may invoke the 'Lovecraftian spirit' and say that the winning vote will be the tied choice with the worst possible outcome.

    So in this case, that would be B: snotty university professor attempting to play alpha male outnumbered 5 to 1. Oscar and Yeesh, congratulations! Let shit kick off!

    Update forthcoming.
     
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  23. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    You step into the firelight. Five pairs of eyes turn towards you.

    'Now see here,' you snap, as powerfully as you can, 'what the hell's the meaning of all this, eh? Drinking, and fighting...on our first night in camp, no less? My God, boys, I hope Professor Hurley wasn't wrong about hiring you.'

    They don't respond. Out of the corner of your eye, you can make out Edward's expression. He's grinning at you. And his feet are shifting, imperceptibly; he's snaking around to your left. You can't see if he's still holding the axe.

    Your hand snakes upwards, towards the revolver tucked in your pocket.

    'Well?' you cry, more loudly, hoping someone in the other camp will hear you. 'Answer me, dammit! Who's the ringleader here? He'll leave this expedition tonight.'

    Jesus Christ, you think. This was not a good idea. You turn to your left, trying to keep an eye on Edward; but then the two men standing at the very edge of the firelight are out of your vision.

    'Answer me, you dogs!' you shout. You're becoming ever more aware of a strain in your voice. A trace of fear. 'Don't just stand there! I told you-'

    And Edward moves. Fast as a hyena coming down on you from the wilds.

    You move too, yanking the revolver awkwardly out of the restraining cloth, too fast to even be certain if it's cocked-

    -and in two sharp movements, Edward grabs hold of your arm with one hand and snatches the revolver out of it with the other. He brings his face close to yours. His breath is thick with rum.

    'Little man,' he sneers, 'little pup. Shouldn't roar.'

    You hit him. Feebly, balling your thumb into your fingers and striking out, your unworked tendons flinching, at his cheek. He moves backwards with the blow, staggering a little, but keeping hold of you.

    'Can't fight,' Edward says.

    He hits you back; the weight of the blow knocks your entire head back. Something in your nose seems to crunch.

    'Can't fire gun,' Edward says.

    He hits you again, in the mouth; one of your teeth snaps backwards. You moan.

    'No man,' Edward says, laughing. 'No man at all.'

    He trips you, shoving you down into the dust. You wheeze, and try to get back up. Edward has picked up the woodcutter's axe.

    'No, Edward!'

    You think it's Andre's voice, though you can't be certain. Edward, without turning his head, snarls,

    'He is marked. All of us marked. Unless he dies. Douse the fire.'

    He weighs the weapon in his grasp. You roll, coughing, trying desperately to see where the revolver went. Naked feet are stamping down on the fire, turning flames to embers; the light is dying.

    The dark silhouette of Edward takes another step towards you, raising his axe.

    And Rufus comes charging out of the night, cannonading into him, the dog's teeth sinking into his arm-

    The light dies completely; you can hear the screams of Edward, Rufus' frantic barking, a distant cry from the other camp; all around you, bodies are flailing, feeling for each other-

    Then silence.

    A high-pitched, animal shriek. And the repeated sound of a blade being thunked down into flesh.

    'Rufus...' you groan. 'Rufus...'

    Whipple's voice, calling out through the darkness, as if from a long way away.

    'Professor Buch! Professor Buch! What's going on out there?'

    Straining at your ravaged windpipe, you yell,

    'Over here! We're over here!'

    A foot stamps down on your outstretched forearm. The bone itself seems to splinter; the flesh folds downwards. You cry out; something hard, and metal, strikes at you in the mouth.

    'Get him!' Edward is hissing, from somewhere above you. 'We get him out of here!'

    Hands catch hold of you roughly, lifting you up by your arms and your legs. You are carried, helpless, through the night. Away from your rescuers.

    'Over here,' you moan, faintly, through your brutalised mouth. '...over here...'

    Someone hits you again.

    And darkness.
     
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  24. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
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    :lol:
     
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