Decade of Darkness

Monday 12th January 1920

Our heroes, having made it through the night albeit with some odd sleep-deprivation experiences, get washed and freshened up in Julia’s bathroom, all observing the necessary propriety.

Remembering that they had agreed to take Alice into their confidence at breakfast, they traipse down to the lounge, where they find her absent, although not for long. She arrives at their table with a shoe that she says she found outside Dwight’s room that morning as she was coming down to breakfast.

Galvanised into action, the party splits up – Alessandro and Alice set off to try and find Lennie the shoeshine boy whilst Julia and Chester head to reception to interrogate Rachel the receptionist to see if she knows anything about shoes. She is not able to tell them much but she does advise that several guests are leaving that morning, along with a Mr Spreiser and one of the hotel chambermaids.

Meanwhile, Alessandro and Alice have much better luck, tracking down the room which Lennie shares with several of his fellow bellboys. They find out that Lennie found the shoe in an abandoned workshop in the basement, and persuade him to accompany them to show them exactly where.

Meeting up in the lobby, the stalwarts realise that they need a cunning plan and with Chester’s help, they soon have one. Through a carefully-staged series of diversions and stunts, they manage to get the keys to Solomon’s basement prison, set their comrade free, liberate his guns and get the keys back without anyone noticing.

They all rendezvous at the bottom of the liftshaft and Lennie leads them through the rabbit-warren of tunnels and chambers to the abandoned workshop, creepy and overrun with rust, decay and thick cobwebs.

Alessandro and Alice manage to find that one section of racking against a wall is in fact a secret door which they manage to get open. Inside is a room which has a shaft in the floor. Down this, our brave investigators decide to go.

They find themselves in a subterranean cave tunnel and in the distance, they can hear the sound of water and smell a foul and disgusting stink. This they head towards.

The source of the stench is a cave where there is strong evidence of something awful having gone on. Blood and entrails lie on the floor and scattered axes and saws are sticky with scraps of flesh and clotted blood.

Our heroes follow the sound of the water and the trail of slimy blood down to the edge of an underground river, where all trace of whatever it was disappears.

They retrace their steps and try another tunnel which leads them into a lamp-lit cave where there is a sinister black-bound book titled in German, and what appear to be trinkets or trophies in alcoves lit by tallow candles. While they are examining (but not reading) the book, they hear noises approaching from two of the tunnels. Drawing their weapons, they band together to stand and fight the approaching menace.

Out of the tunnels appear ten hillbilly types, armed with axes, clubs and machetes, and two shotguns. They sneer at the party and rush them, aiming to beat them into submission. Our heroes open fire and with two volleys and some excellent shooting, manage to kill or badly wound five of their assailants. The remainder flee in panic.

The gang decide that their best option is to try and make for the shaft as quickly as possible. They are nearly at the tunnel leading to it when Alessandro hears something drifting down the passages – it sounds like voices, crying out in fear. Solomon suspects that the hillbillies are trying to lure them deeper into the catacombs and they ignore the sounds. Julia and Alessandro climb up the shaft first and come face to face with Deputy Franks. There is a tense moment while guns are pointed and then Julia faints and Alessandro convinces the deputy that they are no threat. A hotel waiter who was with the deputy is sent off to reception to find anyone who can render first aid to Alessandro and Solomon, both of whom took injuries in the melee in the caves.

Aware that the hillbillies could come swarming up out of the caves at any moment, our gallant band take up position with some hastily improvised oil bombs and sure enough, there are voices from the tunnel at the bottom of the shaft. Solomon throws his bomb, with satisfying effects. This appears to prompt a retreat by the hostiles but to be on the safe side, the door to the shaft room is closed and fastened shut, with a booby-trap to prevent it being opened from the far side.

The waiter returns with Doctor Clemence who has only just arrived at the hotel and was promptly dragged down into the basement by the waiter. He adminsters first aid to the wounded and some time after that, as they decide to return to the hotel proper, Sheriff Wallace appears, complete with pump action shotgun and questions Franks about what has happened. He sends the doctor back to the hotel lobby where gunshot casualties await his ministrations.

When they reach the lobby, they find that something terrible has happened – the body of Granville Frost lies inert on a stretcher and Clemence is trying to save the life of Todd Frost, his son. The family were attacked in the forest by a wild-eyed man who called Frost by name and then shot him. Todd was shot as he rushed to his father’s aid.

Julia and Alessandro talk with Tommy Milner and Brightman the restaurant manager to find out what’s been happening and discover that half the senior staff seem to have disappeard.

After the injured boy and his mother are sent off to Brattleboro with the doctor and Deputy Franks, the Sheriff takes the gang through to the dining room for a frank talk on what they know and what they have been doing. Chester reveals the book that they took from the caves and Julia gives more details of what they have discovered. Realising that the hostile elements may try to regain the book and take their revenge on our heroes, the Sheriff proposes that they secure the hotel and try to safeguard the guests, many of whom have no idea what is going on.

The group begins to prepare for action, with a barricade of sofas, tables and chairs being erected across the reception area and Solomon booby-trapping the service stairs to the basement using tripwires. Once this has been done, they settle down to wait for any attack that might come but are in for a nasty shock as a truck comes crashing through the front doors and skids into reception, closely followed by eight hillbillies, three of whom are armed with shotguns. A battle royale breaks out with Chester being shot twice and the Sheriff being blasted in the leg. All three shotgunners are killed, and the others, wielding machetes and axes come hurtling over the barricade to make mayhem.

Julia ends up in a fist fight, Alessandro takes a machete blow to the head, Chester manages to avoid being hacked to pieces but the black book gets hit by an axe, Alice is chased up the stairs by a manic hillbilly and Solomon and the Sheriff are busy reducing the odds against them with some deft gunplay.

Eventually, the gunfire subsides and it’s revealed that only two of the hillbillies survived; one of them is badly wounded – Alessandro handcuffs him to stop him crawling away – and Julia is busy fighting off the other.

Suddenly, there is the sound of Alice’s scream from the landing, where she is waiting to see if it is safe to come down. More attackers have entered the lobby from deeper into the hotel. They are led by Leonard, the sinister porter, who shoots at Alice to silence her. Alessandro and the Sheriff open fire on this new group and pin them down behind tables and sofas.

Alice survives the attempt by Leonard to kill her and runs back up the corridor. There, she meets a semi-naked Daniel Quigley, his skin covered with eerie sigils. Julia, having put her assailant to flight, takes aim at Quigley before he can summon more horrors to attack them but misses. Quigley tells them that he has heard the Nightmare “so many voices, so many voices” and then wanders off. He is clearly quite mad.

Solomon uses his guile, inventiveness and spare oil cans to create the Steinberg bomb, which, by amazing luck, works first time, hurtling through the air to explode in the midst of the bad guys, killing Leonard and all but one of his cronies.

Having put paid to the second attack, our heroes gather their strength and tally their losses. It is decided to check on who is alive and who is missing, particularly in reference to staff members, who, our heroes suspect, may be allied with Leonard and his cohorts. Porters and loyal staff begin to tour the hotel, calling all the guests down to the lobby and the dining room so that a roll-call can be taken.

Whilst this is going on, our heroes are discomfitted by the sudden appearance of tendrils of green slime oozing up out of the ventilation and heating ducts in the walls. By lucky chance, Alessandro discovers that fire drives the tendrils back and his warning enables the guests and investigators to keep the sinister manifestation at bay. Solomon goes back to the wrecked truck in the lobby to get more petrol and is alerted to more trouble by the sound of gunfire. A third band of cultists under Ursula the sinister receptionist has sneaked in whilst the attention of the party is distracted and has beaten and slashed Chester to try and get back the Black Book which he had been left with. The Sheriff spotted them and, whilst playing dead, drew a bead and opened fire. Solomon joins in the firefight, as do Julia and Alice who arrive moments later. Alice shoots Ursula but is critically wounded herself. The cultists are driven off but do succeed in getting the book back.

With a state of near-panic on the part of the guests, our heroes are in two minds as to how to proceed. Their minds are made up by the arrival of a convoy of vehicles, including the hotel bus. The lead car turns out to contain Winslow J Hawley III, the Albert family lawyer. He has brought several private detectives with him and serves papers on Tommy Milner as the surviving representative of the hotel ordering its immediate closure and evacuation.

The cars and hotel bus are loaded up with as many guests and staff as can be accommodated and they set off into the night. They are heading for Marlboro in the first instance to arrange for more cars to be sent up to the hotel to get the rest of the personnel out. On the way down to the hamlet, more than one guest claims to have seen something shadowy in the forest, running through the darkness as if following them.

They arrive at Marlboro to find that the bar there is playing host to a most unexpected guest – a traumatised and insane Lennie. He is cowering at the back of the bar with a knife, cackling and muttering to himself.

Whilst our heroes are wondering what to do about this turn of events, an elderly guest comes in to announce that her husband has wandered off into the woods to answer a call of nature and has not come back yet. They set off to find him but as he totters out of the undergrowth, something else is just behind him – a hideous, semi-skinned creature that has been eviscerated. Guns seem to knock it down but not kill it. The party nevertheless empty their weapons into it but the coup de grace is dealt by Sheriff Wallace, in a car driven by Deputy Franks – they blast the creature and then run it down with the vehicle. Before it can recover (if it was still alive – no-one wants to check) everyone climbs back into the bus and cars and they drive speedily back onto the highway and head for Brattleboro.

Once there, they take the injured to the hospital and seek accommodation for the night. The remaining staff and guests arrive later that evening. It seems that their stay at the Majestic is over for good.

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Sunday 11th January 1920

During the night, all three of our plucky stalwarts have very strange experiences.

Julia is woken unsociably early by a hammering on her door. When she opens it, there is the hotel manager with a very irate and hostile Alice Albert, who explains that Dwight had not returned to his room the previous night. She accuses Julia of seducing him and believes him to be in her bed. Julia explains that this is not the case and that she had last seen him on the landing near Quigley’s room late last night.

Alice is dragged off screaming insults at the bemused Julia.

Soon, our gang assembles in Julia’s rooms and discusses the adventures of the day before.

Going down to breakfast, they are greeted by the hotel manager who explains that a quick search of Dwight’s room revealed that his winter coat and boots were not there; it seems that the amorous playboy has gone out for an early morning walk to clear his head.

As they sit down to breakfast, they are joined by Chester Allen, the professor who they had briefly seen the previous evening. He is just bidding farewell to Dennis O’Mahony who is leaving, having completed his transaction.

He explains that he has acquired some pieces for the University – a statuette and some other artefacts, small pieces.

Meanwhile, Solomon is busy spending time with Alice Albert.

Chester proposes a walk to get some fresh air after Julia and Alessandro have completed their interviews.

Alice tries to browbeat the hotel management into launching a search for Dwight but they try to fob her off. Solomon gets involved and the manager eventually asks Leonard the porter to select a group to see if they can find any trace of him. Solomon very quickly gets changed into his winter gear and tags along with the group until they get to the edge of the forest, whereupon he feigns returning to the hotel but actually follows them from the vantage point of the trees.

Julia goes off to her interview with Tommy Milner and there meets Grace La Rue, vaudeville and movie star. Julia is rather star-struck by the encounter.

The interview with Tommy goes well and Julia learns a thing or two about the history of the hotel. She returns to the lounge in time to wish Alessandro good luck with his interview and then spends a good hour or so with Chester, who regales her with a dark tale of his own past that hints at terrors undisclosed.

Alessandro is taken on a tour of the hotel by Brightman, the restaurant manager. He has a chat with Lennie the shoeshine boy and bellhop and finds out about the basement areas where the laundry and stores are.

On his return, he, Julia and Chester are sitting down to have lunch when a suspiciously bedraggled Solomon rushes in and heads straight for the lifts. When he re-emerges some time later, he joins them at the lunch table but is not allowed to have his meal in peace because Alice appears and beckons him rather urgently. He goes over to see what she wants and she reveal that when she returned to her room a few minutes ago, the door was ajar – she was certain that she had left it shut. She persuades Solomon to accompany her up there, and he drags the rest of the group along.

When they reach the room, they do not seen much amiss to begin with except for Alice’s make-up box tipped all over the dressing table. But then on the back of her door is a mysterious message in large red letters.

It’s swiftly identified as being written in lipstick, rather than blood. Ensuring that Alice is safely allotted to the custody of the Snyders and remembering that they had planned to go for a walk, the gang get changed into winter gear and set off up the mountain to check out a suspicious site that Solomon said he’d found earlier that morning.

After about forty minutes, they arrive at a place where a large fire had recently burnt out. Around the fire are circles of footprints and in the ash are bones that could well be those of a large animal. Nearby, some strange markings are found scratched into the moss-covered rocks.

There are some intriguing hypotheses as to what they might be but no firm conclusions and the gang decide to return to the hotel. It is an uneventful descent but when they arrive in the foyer of the hotel, all hell has broken loose. Six guests are baying for the manager’s blood because they too have had mysterious messages scrawled in their rooms. The gang quickly gather the details and check out – in succession – Quigley’s room (he is unconscious and shivering but has been working on more weird pictures), Julia’s room (she has got a message too) and Dwight’s room, where there is no message but Julia realises that his evening wear and shoes from the night before are not there, suggesting that he never made it back to his room.

Armed with this information and some very interesting revelations from the manager, the gang board the bus about a half hour late and set off for Brattleboro.

When they arrive in town, Julia and Chester head straight for the library, whilst Solomon and Alessandro call in to the local department store, the former to update his ordnance and the latter to gather some gossip about the hotel and the reaction of the town to it. They find some strange anecdotes from the locals concerning odd things being washed down rivers and mysterious explosions in the mountains.

At the library, the gang start researching and soon find a newspaper article concerning a large number of deaths at the hotel while it was being used as a military hospital during the war. The librarian inadvertently gives away the location of a locked cabinet and while Julia, Chester and Alessandro divert her, Solomon picks the lock and gleans details of the military enquiry into the deaths and police reports on disappearances in the area and the involvement (or not) of vagrants.

Finding out that all the dead soldiers were buried in Brattleboro cemetery, Julia has an idea to investigate and tries to persuade the others to accompany her on an expedition. Solomon and Chester seem a little reluctant to participate and instead decide to check out Mr Bullingham King, the local historian of strange goings-on in Windham County.

Julia and Alessandro make their way up to Prospect Hill Cemetery and take a good look around – they are unable to find much out except the graves of those who died at the hotel during the war. Somewhat disappointed but feeling chilled within and without, they make their way back down to the waiting hotel bus.

Solomon and Chester, meanwhile, have much better luck. They find Mr Bullingham King and over tea and old Christmas cookies probe his local knowledge. He tells them a great many things about the mysterous goings-on in the local area, some rather unsettling things concerning inbred local hillbillies and weird pastors, a decrepit village near the hotel and even some tantalising clues about the red numbers on the hotel doors. Intrigued, the two investigators make their way back to the bus where they impart the new discoveries to their colleagues.

The journey back through the frosty night takes them the best part of an hour and when they arrive, they are all ready for dinner and a rest. Alas, such is not to be their reward. As they enter the lobby of the hotel, Sheriff Wallace, one of his deputies and two New York detectives, Hicks and Cavanagh appear and arrest Solomon for murder and conspiracy to murder. After a tense stand-off, Solomon allows himself to be disarmed. He is led off to a store-room in the basement but not before Alice appears and promises to enlist the family lawyer on his behalf.

First Alessandro, then Julia are questioned by Sheriff Wallace. After that, Chester offers to delay the Sheriff to give his two colleagues time to investigate the hotel a bit further. They head off towards the basement to see what they can find.

They find themselves in a maze of tunnels and passageways and decide to head for the source of a dull, rhythmic hum that they felt as soon as they went below ground-level. They arrive in a room where there are two exits – one is a dark hole into who knows what, the other a big metal door.

They check the dark hole out first and find that it is a cobweb-infested, mouldy store-room with some old lead ingots, sandbags, bedstead, tools and wooden planks. Alessandro advises Julia not to bother with it as she might pick up some nasty disease.

Their next step is to open the big metal door. As they do so, they are hit with a blast of intense heat and ear-splitting noise – the boiler and the furnace confront them. Their senses are so overwhelmed that they are taken by surprise as from the darkness comes a hideous, faceless figure, moaning incoherently and coming right at them.

Julia and Alessandro scream and flee but not without a parting shot from Julia’s pistol. They slam the door shut and run for the safety of the hotel.

When they arrive back at the lounge, a flustered and worried Chester greets them and listens with horror as they describe their experiences. He is determined to face whatever it is that waits in the darkness and delivers a stirring speech to gee up the others.

Not wishing to sleep alone, all three decide to spend the night in Julia’s room, taking it in turns to stand sentry. Chester arranges for Solomon to receive some sandwiches and a flask of coffee and does the same for his comrades. Before they turn in, Alice Albert arrives at the door, begging Julia to be allowed in on whatever they are up to, as it clearly concerns her brother’s fate. Julia treats her kindly and agrees to a council of war at breakfast the next morning.

It’s going to be a long night.

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Saturday 10th January 1920

A cold day in New York City. At Pennsylvania Station, our three heroes are boarding the train to Brattleboro, Vermont. As yet, they do not know each other.

On the way up, they talk to a good few people in their carriage, including an old woman with strange jewellery, a widowed businessman and his young daughter, two skiers, a city official and his wife and two Bright Young Things husband-hunting.

They arrive at Brattleboro station to be met by the bus that will take them to the Majestic Hotel, about ten miles outside the town, nestling in the forested Green Mountains.

The bus takes them up snow-covered roads, a hair-raising and unsettling ride.

At the hotel, they are met with hot drinks; the hotel manager greets them personally and hopes that they have a good stay.

About half an hour before dinner, our heroes join the other guests in the lounge where they mingle and chatter. Julia Somersby meets Dwight Albert, whose family knows her family. It is clear that he is quite taken by this thoroughly modern miss.

Solomon meets Terry Fletcher, a New York longshoreman, and Chester Allen, who has met an Irish antiques dealer, Dennis O’Mahony. He has some antiquities that he thinks the professor might like to buy.

Alessandro finds himself talking to Daniel Quigley, a bohemian and saturnine artist with a rather decadent outlook on life. He invites Quigley to join them on their table, where Dwight is also seated.

Dwight ensures, with the aid of his wallet, that his table has the best of everything but that does not extend to pleasant conversation as Quigley seems intent on goading what he sees as Dwight’s bourgeois pretensions.

After dinner and dancing, Quigley invites our heroes up to his room to see his latest artwork. The pictures in question have been influenced either by Quigley’s use of absinthe, his opium habit or something else…

As they leave Quigley’s room after he has passed out, Julia and Alessandro are met by Dwight, who was concerned about them visiting the artist’s rooms. Julia declines Dwight’s offer of an escort to her room and instead goes there with Alessandro.

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Introduction

January 1920

The horrors of the Great War are fading into the mists of memory. America enters the Roaring Twenties full of enthusiasm, confidence and hope.

Yet some horrors didn’t end with the Armistice. Some are a lot closer to home than the trenches of France. Darkness lurks just under the brash and exuberant skin of the new decade.

Only a few brave souls realise what hides behind the mask of modernity, what awful truths cloak themselves in the lies that men tell themselves to sleep easily at night. These brave few are about to embark on a journey that may end in madness, death…or worse.

Foolhardy? Fearless? In the fight against the horrors lurking in the Darkness, they may be both, but they’re all we have.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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