Circles of Power – Campaign notes

Don’t we all dream of that epic, grand campaign, the one that will define what roleplaying is about and will be talked of for generations to come? The Circles of Power is mine, it has been poking up its face every now and then for nearly a decade and in around February 2002 am I struck with the idea of how I will be able to pull it together.

I’ve had some problems with reconstructing how the campaign come into being, but I think it all started with my fondness for the French comic Valérian (‘Linda och Valentin’ in Swedish). I lent all the comic books from the Göteborg City Library in the mid-1990ies, and got really inspired by their 15th adventure; Les Cercles du Pouvoir, The Circles of Power. I decided that I really wanted to write and run a campaign based on the assumption that Earth was controlled by a lot of organizations and conspiracies, each one roughly organized in concentric circles of power. The PC would get a mentor or some other Gandalf-type, who would ask them to find the most powerful person on the planet; the man in the innermost circle.

To plan such a grand campaign, a number of problems arose; who where the mentor, who where the PCs, which setting should I use–should it be a fantasy setting, SF or modern times? Which rules to use? I didn’t know so the project weren’t abandoned but put to rest. I had some ideas of a mega-London set hundreds of years into the future, inspired by Shadowrun but something was missing. A couple of years later did I encounter World of Darkness and especially Mage and the ideas started to brew again, let all the conspiracies be magical societies etc. But still, something was missing.

The pieces did not really fall into place until February 2002, or around there, when I was sitting at a friends home, discussing roleplaying games (as usual); why not set everything on Al Amarja and run it as an Over the Edge campaign!? I couldn’t tell my friend what it was I was laughing at and I couldn’t tell him how beautiful everything came together, he would later play the role of Tarski, but it was the start of it. It took me about 10 month to plan the campaign, I though it would take about half of that, but I wrote a four page player introduction and 23 pages of background! I have never written so much for any campaign ever, and I don’t think I will do it again. We held thirteen four hour session and I wrote about 2-4 handwritten pages of notes for each–I never, ever wrote down everything I had in mind.

My notes from the sessions became a 18 pages long document, which is the foundation for this page; these are my abridged notes of what happened during my most epic campaign ever, played from December 2002 until October 2004 (with a break from July 2003 until October 2004). The reason I took the pains to translate it (probably just over 30 hours) into English is the requests for it at the Over The Edge mailing list at Yahoo! Groups. I hope you all enjoy it.

Sources of inspiration

There are dozens and dozens of inspiration sources, but these are the main ones (in no particular order):

  1. Our Man in Havana, Graham Greene (the entire sub-plot with Wormold)
  2. The Third Man, Graham Greene (Giovanni’s sub-plot with Oliver, the Third Man was also included for historical reasons, it has figured before in OTE-campaigns in our group)
  3. Illuminati, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (all sub-plots with Dolphins, Greenpeace, NRA etc. was inspired by this book)
  4. Pyramids!, Terry Pratchett (the elephants were inspired by ‘You Bastard’)
  5. The Ninth Gate, Polanski (Florentius’ books)
  6. Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds (the space suits that Sand-hra brings with her at the end of the campaign)
  7. Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco (do I need to comment this?)
  8. The Roleplaying Game Traveller (GURPS Traveller to be specific) (how the universe looked like outside the Sol system)
  9. The basement of Warehouse 23 (the content of the Blue Skys, Ltd. warehouse)
  10. Desperado, Robert Rodriguez (the auditor in Rune’s sub-plot)
  11. The Conversation, Francis Ford Coppola (the Harry Caul character)
  12. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Rigby Reardon (most of the sub-plot for Tarski)
  13. Dr No (James Bond), Terence Young (the Three Blind Men, which where three assassins that killed many people in the campaign)
  14. The comic Bacon & Egg by Patrik Norman, the episode I rymden kan ingen höra dig fika (In space no-one can hear you drink coffee) (the protection of tea leafs)
  15. The comic Machine qui rêve (The Dreaming Machine) with Spirou and Fantasio (the fate of Oliver)
  16. The hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (e.g. Someone Else’s Problem-fields and the small white lions with wings)
  17. The Valérian comic book Les Cercles du Pouvoir (The Circles of Power) (the basis for the campaign)

The Characters

Rune Johansson
A forty year old male from Sweden with a special interest in sounds and vibrations. He had spent some time in jail for abusing animals. He had constructed a sound weapon and given a race horse an ultra sonic chock to fix a lap and win some money but he was found out and put in jail (the character was based on a true story). Due to some loans for gambling with the Hells Angels did he find it a good idea to leave the country, more or less permanently. By ‘coincidence’ did he end up on Al Amarja (see Ellen Nürn for details).
Joshua
Secret agent from a conspiracy organization on a mission on Al Amarja to find out more about two different companies, Blue Skys Ltd. and Green Fields Inc. The organization had an agent on the island who reported about Green Fields and they wanted to check up more about this company and Blue Skys was a company they wanted to take over.
Giovanni Montanello
Left-wing Italian reporter who is responding on a plea from an old friend, Oliver de la Brosse, who sent a letter stating ‘Help! You got to help me; I’m in really deep shit! Chrome Dome, Friday after seven’
Eugeniusz Tarski (real name Erik Johansson)
International hobo and detective with a fringe power with the ability to see if people really speaks the truth. Claimed to be from Poland but where from Sweden.
Don Harvey (alter ego Leopold Barthalomeus)
A fine art and relic hunter/thief with an extended interest in music. His mission is to find a number of medieval books written by a monk called Florentius. There were nine of them initially, today only seven are left.

Some short notes on the Non-Player Characters

Sergej
Member of the micromonics band Blue Mountain.
Amanda X
Member of the micromonics band Blue Mountain.
Flash
Member of the micromonics band Blue Mountain. Tries desperately to be cool and impress people but is dork and quite pathetic. Thinks he is a tough guy but is really just another coward raised in the middle class suburbs. Will run away or throw up–or both–if he ever gets in a ‘real’ fight.
Martin ‘Icky’ Bäckstedt
Member of the micromonics band Blue Mountain and an old, good friend of Rune.
Oliver de la Brosse
Member of the micromonics band Blue Mountain and old friend of Giovanni, in deep shit. Some accuse him of having a split personality…
Ellen Nürn
One of the most powerful and influential humans on Earth. She took over Bavarian Illuminati when she got bored a Friday afternoon, got bored again on the Saturday morning since she didn’t know what to do now. She ‘recruits’ the PCs by arranging that they all end up on Al Amarja and are unknowingly set to find out the most powerful person on Earth, the one in the middle of the Circles of Power. She’s in for a surprise…
Wormold
Joshua’s and Don Harvey’s contact on the island. He is taken straight from Our man in Havanna, with the same name but none of the players made the connection. I also succeeded in hiding from the players of Joshua and Don Harvey that they both spoke to the same person, I always referred to him as your contact and never by name. It was not until after Don Harvey stole his book that the players made the connection.

Everything starts…

The mystery started when they all arrived at the Terminal on the 15th of April 1993, each one on their own plane, and not very much happened at the Terminal that had anything to do with the campaign–except for poor Tarski. When he arrived on Sunday the 18th, a man working in the Terminal approached him and said everything has been taken care of, please come this way and he was let past the Immigration and Customs Control via a side door. Mr Tarski was mistaken for someone else and was now illegally on Al Amarja. We never had a chance to exploit this but my plan was that if he went to the Peace it would be discovered and he would be in big trouble.

Everyone settled in on Caesar’s Hotel for the most exciting two weeks of their lives. On Friday the 16th did a new micromonics band play at Chrome Dome and Rune, Giovanni and Don are there. Oliver, who is in the band Blue Mountain, isn’t there and Giovanni seeks them out back stage and starts to talk to them about Oliver but is told they haven’t seen him in weeks. They give him Oliver’s address. Meanwhile, Rune is also visiting the band backstage as his old friend Martin ‘Icky’ Bäckstedt is a member of the band. Giovanni and Rune meet but says little more then just greeting each other. Rune is offered Oliver’s place in the band to play the glassophone, a xylophone made of crystal and glass. Being very interested in sounds and vibrations, Rune is more then happy to oblige.

Giovanni waits until Saturday to seek out Oliver’s apartment and once there he learns that Oliver has been kidnapped and one witnesses suggest that Oliver might not have been entirely unwilling to be taken away. Giovanni doesn’t seems like he takes any notice of this hint but goes to the Peace Force, being new to Al Amarja he thinks that PF might give a f*ck. A Detective Smith meets him and says that he knows about Oliver and that ”They usually turn up, sometimes in pieces” and dismisses Giovanni more or less.

The first couple of days are spent by trying to contact various persons–Rune is catching up with his old friend, Tarski is trying to contact Mary Harel, Joshua tries to talk to his contact Wormold, Giovanni is looking for Oliver and Don Harvey is checking the locations where three copies of the book are.

Joshua

The mission Joshua has undertaken is to

  1. Investigate a transporting company called Blue Skys, Ltd. for a potential takeover. Joshua is not told why the Organization wants to take over the company and he doesn’t care –you know what you need to know.
  2. Contact the Organization’s agent on the island, Wormold, and investigate the most interesting company called Green Fields, Inc. Wormold is reporting most interesting things about their cargo. What neither Joshua nor the Organization knows is that Wormold has made up a lot of things and unknowing to the Organizations interest of the Blue Skys, Ltd. taken that company as a ‘role model’. He needs the money to finance his only daughter’s terms at the city’s university. Wormold is also a book collector and uses the extra money to finance his extravaganza hobby.

Wormold is a man that not necessarily is very found of the thought that someone is calling his bets so he first panics and then tries to put up some front, hoping that Joshua is only a nightmare that will disappear–but not very successfully. While Wormold is a bit hard to contact does Joshua investigate Blue Skys, Ltd.

It turns out that Blue Skys really is a transportation outfit and have some really good out-of-this-Earth alarm systems, this makes Joshua reluctant to actually break in but he monitors the warehouse via cameras he has set up around the compound. He learns quite soon that a nondescript lorry arrives and loads and unloads cargo and he get suspicious since the lorry is specifically nondescript, just like it was made that way, and he decided to follow it. It drives to a warehouse in Skylla where the cargo is unloaded and put in containers very much like those that is used by airlines. Joshua sets up some surveillance cameras and then walks away. Later that night is the cargo picked up but the camera shows nothing more then static, Joshua then makes the (true) assumption that the assumed flying saucer that picked it up had some serious cloaking device.

The next night, the night between the 21st and 22nd of April, does he stay in person at the warehouse but no-one shows up so he enters the warehouse the next night and finds that it is empty. The only thing he finds is a paper that looks like an invoice but he cannot understand the language. He thinks it looks like Hebrew or some Asian language and sends it to his superiors for analysis and translation. Needless to say they aren’t able to crack it or identify it since it is not of this world. A swift visit at the university on the island doesn’t reveal anything either about the invoice.

On Friday night, the 23rd of April, does succeeds to break into Blue Skys, Ltd.’s office and found some very interesting things. First that the office was protected by an alarm system that was not of this planet (literally, but Joshua didn’t know that)–but something had gone wrong the office he broke into so the alarm hadn’t set off–and secondly a number of reports. These reports were on the topic of the ‘extermination campaign’ and that the ‘extermination ships’ was quite successful. The down side of the campaign was that they had a large tuna fish surplus and hence they needed to mount a commercial ad campaign to get people to eat more tuna fish.

Joshua didn’t find out very much of these ships but he was quite confident that they hunted dolphins.

On the fateful day of the 24th of April, does Joshua sit just a few tables from Giovanni when the crossbow bolt kills an ‘innocent’ (no-one is innocent on Al Amarja) business man. Shortly after that an anonymous package is delivered by a courier service to him and it contains an entrance pass card for Blue Skys, Ltd. The card belongs to a warehouse worker and will cease to function in a couple of days when it is discovered as missing. Joshua doesn’t know this or the fact that it is Ellen Nürn that is behind this.

Joshua decides to go up on his room and as soon as he enters it, the phone rings. It is Wormold and he is pretty upset. Wormold has discovered that Leopold has stolen his book and decides that he needs to get his book back, get Joshua off his back and punish Leopold.

When Joshua arrives at Wormold’s apartment the latter tells him a strange story. Wormold uses a book for storing information and he uses another book for storing the keys to the cipher–e.g. the second word in the 11th paragraph on page 12; 1:11:12. Both these books are stolen and he thinks he knows who the thief is, and he gives the name and address of Leopold. This is when the players make the connection between them and their reaction is fun to watch as a GM.

Wormold’s plan now is to leave the island with his daughter, which will succeed and he will also succeed in keeping himself hidden for the rest of their lives. Joshua tracks Leopold and some bribes gives that Leopold has rented a car but most of his plans for surveillance of the car failed–Giovanni Cabs didn’t want to keep an eye open for it. Not very happy with it he decides to track it down himself. He finds it in a back alley and sets out for a long night–only to find that a gang steals it later that night. Joshua returns to the hotel in no good mood. Don Harvey had, unknowingly to Joshua, abandoned the car in the alley to get rid of any traces. While Joshua was sitting in the dark staring at a lonely vehicle did Don Harvey sleep soundly in his Queen Size bed in a new luxury hotel. Life is not only hard, it is unjust as well.

When Joshua returns to his hotel on the Sunday does he receives a phone call: Why didn’t you use the card? It has expired now. Most of the day is spend in second-hand bookshops and locates some books on South American history and puts an ad in Al Amarja Today as bait for Leopold/Don Harvey.

Don Harvey

The adventures of Don Harvey begins when he seeks out one of the copies of the book he is seeking; Wormold. (I succeeded in keeping the name of their contact secret from the players of Joshua and Don Harvey. I only said his name in private and they always referred to him as ‘my contact’, this was not so very much of my own making but a fun side effect by the fact that the players never kept that good track of all the names and events in the campaign.) He succeeds in convincing Wormold about that he should be allowed to study the book and he spends several days at the university library and studies the book together with Wormold, who didn’t like the idea of having an unknown man in his apartment. He also uses the library to research facts about Florentius but finds very little more then he already knows; a monk in Peru who in the 17th Century starts writing the history of Peru and his book was made in nine copies. One is in the library of the Vatican, one was lost when a monastery in southern Spain was consumed by a fire in the 19th Century and one copy was thrown on a book burning in Poland in the 17th Century. None of these fires had anything to do with the real content of the books.

What Don Harvey never knew, and sadly never found out since the player left the campaign when there where two sessions left, was that in each book some parts where replaced with parts of the story Florentius really wanted to tell: How he had participated in a space travel as a guest by aliens. Remember all those rumours that the Incas had visitors from space? They where all true and Florentius were invited to visit distant planets. Due to the sensitive nature of the story he encoded it in this way.

The story picked up some speed when Don Harvey decided that he should break into Wormold’s apartment and steal the book. He also tried to set fire to the apartment but the fire never took hold and died. He had also stolen another copy of the book from a gentlemen’s club called Afrikaan’s Gents Club, which I had some plans for in the great scheme of conspiracies but never used. The theft of the book sparked some interest from Joshua and their sub-plots started to coincide.

Don Harvey decides that Caesar’s Hotel isn’t safe, since both the thefts where made in the same day, Friday 23rd of April, so he moves to a five star hotel, Hotel de Mare, under his real name and changes his appearance. The fun part with this was that Hotel de Mare where the base for the dolphins on Al Amarja, but the player of Don Harvey didn’t attend the last two sessions so Don Harvey never played any part in the ending of the campaign.

Don Harvey considers his mission as ready when he has the two books he was sent there to ‘collect’ but the phone rings just when he is ready to leave. A female voice (Ellen Nürn) says that she knows where another book is located and what happened to two other copies. Don Harvey and his employer decides that he should stay and later the same day does the female voice call again and states that the financial officer of Blue Skys, Ltd. is a secret member of Greenpeace and she wants to know why. He abandons the car the same night (the very same as Joshua keeps a vigil upon) and rents a new one, this time a van. He spends the Sunday doing some research about the ‘objective’, Lamaja Woolridge.

On Monday the 26th does he visit Greenpeace office, posing as a possible member and scouts out the area for a possible break-in.

Tarski

Mr Tarski first move on the island, except being there illegally, was to try to seek out Mary Harel on the university faculty but was only mildly successful. He found her office but another scientist worked there and disclaimed any knowledge of her. He walks around in the department and shows a photograph of her and asks if anyone has seen her but only receives a 1984-like experience; no one admits they have seen her. When he walks out he notices that the big billboard with all scientists where they had their offices had been changed since he went in–Mary Harel was removed. Mildly suspicious did he find his first clues; he found a couple of boxes in an corridor with Mary’s belongings and he found two lists of names with the headings of Friends of Zabinne and Enemies of Zabinne and he found several documents related to Greenpeace and to dolphin research.

He starts to look these names up and finds that several of them are killed–by gunshot. It is usually friends of Zabinne that has been murdered but some enemies has as well been killed. What is happening is that Mary Harel has been asked by Greenpeace and the dolphins to organize a top meeting between the true world leaders and not all the leaders are very found of this idea and is now hunting down one of the dolphins, Zabinne, and is killing her human associates.

A bit of background information is probably in order here: The world is run by an organization called World Traders, which took over from another organization called The Spiral. World Traders does not necessarily want this top meeting to take place, especially since they suspect that they will loose control of the world as a result. This was pretty much the case, but not in any way they–or anyone else–expected as player characters is an unreliable bunch.

Tarski spends several days tracking people on the lists he has found and he also finds several new lists. He also succeeds in getting into the hotel room in Caesar’s and tracks down an apartment that Mary rents, in both cases he uses his skills to persuade people to let them in, a security guard at the hotel and a gardener/care-taker at the apartment. In both places he finds more lists and in the latter does he find a report from a private eye, Harry Caul, about an individual that Mary wanted investigated - Joshua. Tarski interviews Harry Caul but doesn’t learn much, Mary didn’t really tell him much except that she wanted to know who Joshua where. Mr Tarski later starts to approach Joshua and tries to convince him to cooperate but fails miserably, mostly due to that Tarski has nothing to offer Joshua and Joshua isn’t interested in the first place. During his course of action has he found that one of the names on the lists, Joe Smith, is a scientist on the University and he has been killed like so very many of the others on the list. Doing some research he finds that Mr Smith where on a research grant from Greenpeace and he where studying dolphins. Tarski visited the local office in Flowers and makes some formal questions but it is mostly in general terms so he doesn’t learn anything specific.

Rune

Oh dear, Oh dear. Never take others telephone calls. During the Sunday, the 18th of April, he strolls around in Flowers with his old friend Icky and all of a sudden does a telephone booth start to ring. Rune takes the call where a male voice says some really crazy stuff (I didn’t use the Cut-Ups in the campaign but it could be them: The dor-beetle flies in the evening / A green cat observes you / Beyond the audible limit / The stars are liars) and when Rune has hang up and started to walk away he sees a badly dressed man come around the street corner, freeze in utter horror and then bolt away in a frantic pace. Poor chap had missed a phone call and an important one as well.

Rune didn’t know what to do about it and decided to leave it at that and move on. Since he hade left Sweden rather urgently he didn’t had very much money and was in desperate need of a job. He turned to his friend who introduced him to their record company, Izz Records. Izz herself gets interested and they strike a deal where Rune provides some recording equipment–Micromonics is very hard to record–and get sufficient with money to sustain himself for a couple of months. He will work on this from time to time during the campaign and makes a delivery on the 28th of April. With the help of Martin they also find an apartment for Rune two blocks from where Martin lives.

The problems has just started for Rune, when he find out that, in the following days is out on his roller blades, someone is following him in a Renault 5. At one point have the car stopped in a narrow street and the driver and passenger steps out of the car but Rune is no mood to talk to strange people so he makes a U-turn and gets the hell out of there. The car follows him and during his escape, which is successful, he passes a small square where a man, a burglar, is nailed to a wall up-side-down with a Safe-n-Sound sign around his neck. Two days later he stumbles into the Renault 5 guys again and they are visible surprised to see him and start to talk into a radio, Rune leaves as fast as he can. A dark blue BMW starts to following and skids to a halt a dozen meter in front of him. The driver and the passenger get out and apologize, when Rune comes forward a bit wary, that they didn’t know which plane he arrived with and they are obviously nervous. Rune is not in a mood for plays and asks who they are and they gets a bit startled, pardons themselves and leaves with a ‘see you’.

The occupants of the BMW and the Renault cars has a lengthy debate with their partners back in the headquarter. What has happened is that there has been a serious mistake but no-one realises this. These guys are the members of a global conspiracy and an auditor will arrive soonish to review their operation. The poor guys as mistaken Rune to be this auditor and they are very nervous about why he haven’t made a contact–is he testing them? They have to look smart. They have to look professional. They don’t get very much sleep.

Since the band is lacking a fifth member does Rune join them and plays Oliver’s part. Things start to pick up pace on the 24th of April. Rune leaves his apartment (on his roller blades as usual) on the afternoon of the 24th and when he passes a overpass for pedestrians does he see how a black Mercedes with men in black suits and white shirts with black ties pulls over the Renault 5 and kidnaps the driver. The passenger fires his crossbow after them but misses. Rune tries to intervene but misses the Mercedes with just and meter, he tried to hook up and follow the kidnappers, but scares the shit out of the passenger of the Renault 5. He jumps into the car and drives away like mad, he tries to get away and report the kidnap as much as he tries to get away from Rune. The people in the Mercedes where part of M.I.B. which has a sub-contractor business on the island. They worked behind the scene but they where not part of the campaign any more.

In the evening, when the Blue Mountain will meet at Icky’s place, does a unknown man make a call and tell them that a mutual friend is currently at Ahmed’s Kwik Klinik, room 7B. The man in the phone was Oliver who wanted to help his friend(s). Rune and Icky leaves for the clinic while Flash stays behind to tell the rest of the members when they arrive.

Giovanni

For quite some years ago did Giovanni, while still a student at an Italian university, meet Oliver de la Brosse and they became quite tight friends. Life and work made them part–as usually happens–and Giovanni lost contact with his artistic friend. On Wednesday the 14th of April did a letter arrive and when Giovanni opened it contained a very short notice: Help! You got to help me; I’m in really deep shit! Chrome Dome, Friday after seven–O Never letting an old friend down, Giovanni rushed to Al Amarja and looked after his friend at Chrome Dome. That very night did a micormonics band known as Blue Mountain, the band Oliver was a member of, play but Oliver wasn’t there and after the show Giovanni went backstage and ask the band members where Oliver where. A fifth person where there talking to Martin, Rune, but the two PCs did not talk nor took notice of each other.

During the following Saturday doesn’t Giovanni do very much, he more or less waits for Oliver to seek him out but he doesn’t show up. Giovanni succeeds to find Oliver’s apartment, via Martin, and decides to visit him the next day. On Sunday the 18th of April does Giovanni really understand in how deep shit Oliver is. When asking a shop owner on the same street is he told that Oliver has been kidnapped and what struck the shop owner as strange was that when two pedestrians rushed to his help did it seems like Oliver made less resistance and more willingly jump into the car. The car was a dark blue Peugeot sedan–a car that later would give Giovanni nightmares.

By using music group booking agencies during rest of Sunday and Monday morning does he get the phone number to Sergej and they decide to meet on Scoopmeister later on the Monday and there does Giovanni, Sergej and Amanda X and they talks through the case. It isn’t much that the two band members know but they are both very concerned about their friend. Amanda X talks to Flash later that day and learns that Oliver talked about that he investigated some company, which one didn’t Flash know, but Amanda communicates this to Giovanni. Doing some research on his own, Giovanni reveal that there are 30-40 registered dark blue or black Peugeot on the island. The story picks up pace a little later when the hall porter at the hotel hands Giovanni a message in classical blackmail style; cut-out news paper characters clued to a piece of paper: Leave the island immediately–a friend.

Not knowing what to do does he use the Tuesday for general tourism, he has learned that the island does not like publicity and decides, reporter as he is, to write and article about it. He decides to try to get into Oliver’s apartment the next day and succeeds in persuading a janitor to open up and inside does he find a lot of scientific reports regarding genetic research, letters etc. from a company named ‘New Faces, Ltd.’, and an invoice for a transport from Blue Skys, Ltd. The papers he found are reports from research and the only disturbing thing is that they are dated in the 19th century and one is from 1753, naming DNA.

Things take a turn for the worse already at breakfast on the Saturday and it goes downhill from there. While Giovanni eats breakfast does someone shoot a crossbow-bolt through the window and marginally misses Giovanni and kills an ‘innocent’ business man behind him. A dark-blue Peugeot leaves the Plaza in high speed. Being a little upset does he reach for the latest issue of Al Amarja Today and reads that a dead body of a man has been found floating in the harbour by the Garbage Men and he calls the Peace and learns that the body was identified as an ‘Oliver de la Brosse’. The corpse has been buried. He decides to have a talk to the Garbage Men and takes one of Giovanni’s Taxis. Bad move.

The driver is a 13-14 year old pube that is very short; she sits on a pillow and has shoes with decimetre thick soles to reach the pedals. She has hundreds of charms and chains around neck, waist and arms, uses no seat belt and tries to make a move on Giovanni while she drives as a car thief/pizza delivery. Rather soonish does Giovanni see that he is followed by a dark-blue Peugeot and asks the pube-girl to try to loose him but the Peugeot overtakes them and forces them off the road. The girl is killed immediately while Giovanni is seriously injured and looses conscious the same moment as the taxi hits the first out of four obstacles that are needed to stop the car.

Just mere hours later, does Giovanni wake up at Ahmed’s Kwik Klinik, fully restored and obviously heavy damages is fully healed. If it was anything that freaked out the player in the campaign, then it was this. It did not ease his mind that everything had been paid for and there where an additional $150,000 in his ‘account’ in case he needed more health care.

Shortly after he wakes up does two persons he have seen briefly before enters his room, 7B: Rune and Martin. They all sit down and talk trough what has happened and Rune agrees to help Giovanni. Giovanni checks out from the hospital the next day and is meted by Rune and they both go to Rune’s apartment to discuss the issue further. While they are sitting there does the phone ring and a female voice says The manager for Mèdecins sans Frontières knows more about Double Faces, Ltd. then he is willing to admit. Ask Oliver. Quite confused do they go to Double Faces (which turns out to be the same company as New Faces, the GM got a bit confused himself at times) and finds that it is a chemistry company on the outskirts of The Edge.

One day delayed does Giovanni finally reach the Garbage Men with Rune and for the exchange of Giovanni’s shoes does Master Collector trade the information he has. The corpse where heavily mutilated but a valet identified him as Oliver. Quite sad do they turn home but the stench at the Garbage Men forces them to pass a dry cleaner and take length shower before they continue with their investigations.

Sad moments

Rune and Giovanni attended the funeral of Lisa Adult on Monday the 26th of April, the taxi driver that was killed while driving Giovanni, during the midday of Monday the 26th of April and neither of them liked the outcome very much. They are not from Al Amarja…

The burial was performed in a Gothic graveyard on the outskirts of The Edge and when they arrived the found that there where quite some people there. There where a large gang of pubes, 50-60 of them, which said things like Cool, she could afford a funeral! and Does anyone know who it is? Most of them where there because a pube where being buried and she could afford the funeral herself! Very few of them knew her.

There where a half-dozen Giovanni cab drivers who all where quite pissed, a clearly intoxicated woman in her forties shouted something about Lisa not being a woman, and tore her own shirt of to reveal her own extremely huge breasts–much to the delight of her male colleagues. Neither Rune nor Giovanni where amused.

About fifty meters away were a bunch of Satanists hanging around, under heavy surveillance by riot-equipped graveyard janitors. The former had some hopes they could get to the corpse and use it for a sacrificial ritual to Satan. A pries held the (short) ceremony and as soon as he where finished did a grey van pull up to the grave and the coffin where hoisted up out of the grave and into the van that drove off.

A little chocked did they walk over to a few pubes that stood by the grave and wept, they seemed like they knew Lisa and Giovanni’s assumption where correct. He paid his respect and glanced at the tombstone; it said Oliver de la Brosse. When Giovanni had gathered his wits after that chock did they ask the pubes what the business with the van where and they told him that Lisa had a Body Loan, when Giovanni asked what that where did he get a look that told him they thought he where daft. Everyone knows what a Body Loan is!

They left shortly after and went to a bank and asked about a Body Loan and where told that it where a loan where you used your body as a security, the bank then sold the right to your body to someone that needed it–e.g. a medical company that needed it for research of a new medicine. If you couldn’t pay, they collected the body–living or dead. They deduced that Lisa hadn’t paid all her amortizations so they had collected the body. Can’t say that they liked the idea very much, the van where from New Faces, Ltd. They left the bank and each went home to himself.

Some cooperation

The level of cooperation among the PCs started to rise from Monday, it had started during the weekend before between Rune and Giovanni but their plot-lines started to mix and blend.

Mr Tarski made a new attempt during the day to convince Joshua to cooperate with him, he claimed that he belongs to an organisation that has put Joshua under surveillance and that Joshua is on a death list (he showed him one of his lists with Joshua’s name added) and he succeeds a little better this time. Joshua does not like the idea of working anything but alone but he is keener in talking to Mr Tarski.

When Rune arrived home did he find that there had been a burglary, someone had looked through his apartment but nothing where missing. While he where looking for missing things did a man bang on his door, it is Oliver and it is easy to see that he has been through some hard times. He is very agitated and stressed; he tries for five to ten minutes convince Rune that Giovanni really needs to get off this island–now! Suddenly does he bolt out of the apartment and Rune, who runs after, sees when Oliver drives off in a dark-blue Peugeot. Rune tells a chocked Icky about Oliver and then seeks out Giovanni to inform him.

Both Joshua and Don Harvey finds a message; they can both find a contact on Scoopmeister, table number three at 23:17 the same night that will help them. They both show up and find each other. Neither trusts the other–Joshua does not know that Don Harvey and Leopold is the same person and Don Harvey does not know that Joshua is looking for him, the players knows though–but they decides they might cooperate, both will gain from it.

Dubious activities

Rune and Giovanni discusses what to do about Oliver and decides that Mèdecins sans Frontières as an appointment for a check-up and they break in during the night after some scouting around. Rune uses his extreme knowledge about vibrations and uses the safe’s self-oscillation to make it break open. He has some cool gadgets for this in a backpack. It is no coincidence that he succeeds in constructing recording equipment for micromonics. They find several interesting things in the safe:

At the same time as Rune and Giovanni makes their discoveries does Joshua and Don Harvey break into Greenpeace and they finds several interesting things:

The next day does Joshua and Don Harvey meet at Sarah’s Teahouse and decides that they shall visit Blue Skys’ warehouse and they makes the visit during the night between Tuesday and Wednesday. When they gets inside they see that the battery back-up of the alarm is sabotaged, they had sabotaged the power supply to the block to try to get past the alarm so this suited them perfectly, a little too perfectly. (Yep, Nürn again. She’s very good to have around.) They find numerous things (they never used any objects, they just opened crates and had a look, so they never found out what many of the object was for–booooriiing!) (The 99 per cent of the descriptions are taken from Warehouse 23; see inspirational sources above for details):

Things … eeh, the characters comes togeather

The following day, on Wednesday the 28th of April, does the heat start to increase and the groups looses more of their control but gets closer to their goal. All of them receives a note during the afternoon stating Adam’s Fish, 3.30 PM, Skylla /N (Tarski interpreted the N as a Z, Z as in Zabinne).

Tarski spends his time visiting Greenpeace to discuss the lists of dead members but the manager, Vasco Amico, thinks Tarski tries to threaten him so he demands to know who Tarski is and who he reports to. Tarski takes this as a cue to tell Vasco about Mary and Tom Harel and Vasco then tells him that he knows about Mary, but she doesn’t have any brother. Tarski also visits Blue Mountain, who where on his lists, and he finds Rune at last and they have a brief discussion. Amanda X tells them that he has spoken to Mary after a gig but she thought that Mary was high since the questions where so strange–the truth is that Amanda X was still high as a mountain and couldn’t answer coherent.

Rune gets a visit from a woman, who is of alien origin and who acts as his guardian angel, and she tells him that he is in great danger and that she has bought some Assam tea for him. He really needs to have a cuppa to protect him. The rest of the day does he spend in Izz’ studios to install the system he has constructed.

Joshua visits Lamaja Woolridge to try to find out more about Blue Skys and threatens to inform Blue Skys about Greenpeace but the meeting cannot be called a success, she realises that she has been unveiled but she isn’t scared into talking. He also tries to find which field is booked for the top meeting and the closest he gets, not really realising how close he gets, to a field that is going to be used by a circus later the same week.

Adam’s Fish turns out to be a run-down fish restaurant in Skylla that served fish that not even a starved sea-gull would consider–it tasted awful. The only interest Joshua has for the food is to see how much Tuna is one the menu…

Precisely on time does a woman in her forties show up and invites them all to a table, she obviously knows each on of them by sight. She tells them a long story that she has found that everything on the planet is controlled by conspiracies and she has climbed further and further up in the hierarchy. She has seen that all power on the planet is like concentric circles, and she wants to enter the inner circle, the Circle of Power.

The characters aren’t very impressed but she convinces them by offering information about the missing books to Don Harvey, $50,000 to Rune and information about Oliver to Giovanni. She wins over Joshua by proving that she control the organisation he belongs to and she informs Tarski that she is behind Mary’s ‘brother’ and that he in reality works for her. So they are all in and their mission starts with trying to figure out how to get into the top meeting, she knows about it and want them to participate to eavesdropping on what is said. It is only Joshua, who works for a conspiracy, who buys her story, the rest is only in it for the ‘money’.

Ellen Nürn leaves them to their discussions and after about an hour or so does they visit the site where the circus is setting up their tents–the circus is a cover for the meeting. A better cover then the character then realises. The meeting will occur during the show on Saturday afternoon so they have some time to kill, a task they complete successfully.

Oliver shows the many sides of himself

Giovanni received a letter earlier the same day with a single note; Meet me at my grave at midnight whatever happens and while Rune and Joshua constructs a under-water sonic beeper (see below for details) does Tarski join Giovanni to the graveyard.

The graveyard is not open during nights (too many Satanists and wannabe Goth’s) but they succeed in talking themselves past the crossbow armed guard and walks towards the grave. When they are just about a hundred meter from the grave do they see a man under a lamp-post and Giovanni finally meets his old friend. Sadly they doesn’t succeeds in much more then greeting each other until a crossbow bolt rips through the chest of Oliver with a wet sound. Both Tarski and Giovanni (both with the flaw unlucky…) dives for cover and sees how the assassin (one of the Three Blind Men) runs away. Tarski takes up the chase while Giovanni tries makes futile attempts to save the life of his friend. Giovanni is quite stricken by grief and starts to head for home–Tarski is no-where to be seen - when he sees out of the corner of his eye a brief light up at the grave. He then remembers the words in the note; whatever happens and walks over to the grave where he meets Oliver once more.

Oliver, the real one, explains to Giovanni what happened while Tarski is in hot pursuit of the killer–who succeeds in getting away, he had better physic then Tarski. Oliver where an agent of Ellen Nürn, just like the characters, and where investigating a company called New Faces, Ltd which where researching cloning. They where quite successful–they where creating clones for VIPs which where replaced by their clones and that way controlled by those behind New Faces. Oliver where–partly by accident–cloned by the company but the experiment went wrong, he was 47 at the latest count.

He apologized for having called Giovanni to the island and everything that had happened to him, it was due to an insane clone that he, the real Oliver, couldn’t stop in time. Most of the rest where history, Oliver sought out all copies of himself and convinced himself of helping himself–it is quite easy to convince someone that you know as good as you know yourself. Another clone found Tarski and led him to the other two and they parted after Giovanni had told Oliver about everything and Oliver has promised to show up for lunch on the next day, Friday.

Questioning of Tarski and what that leads to

When Tarski returns to Caesar’s after the meeting at Adam’s Fish, is a man waiting for him. A man, that later turns out to be called Guigio, that could easily be picked out of a film noir from the 1930ies with his hat pushed far into the neck and a cigarette on his lip. He forces Tarski to come with him with a complete lack of interest and the similar interested driver drives the car to Hotel de Mare where Guigio takes Tarski to Mary Harel. In a conference room, half of it occupied by a swimming pool with the water level at about a decimetre below ‘table level’. A number of standard conference tables are lined up along the edge of the pool which also facilitates a number of ‘beds’ with small showers attached to their sides. At a chair sits a woman, that introduces herself as Mary Harel, and shortly after does two dolphins swim into the pools from a underwater tunnel and then ‘beach’ themselves on the ‘beds’ (the small showers keeps their skin moist). The dolphins uses translation equipment built into the speaker system and with the help of that does all three of them interrogate Tarski and what he is up to. He tells them as it is, more or less, and is told that whatever mission he thought he was is now over. Period. Guigio leads him home.

Tarski contacts the others and tells about his adventure and they all decides to investigate a bit, they finds the conference room and installs a under-water ‘beeper’, a small device that emits a sonic beep and the plan is to rent a boat and find where the tunnel ends up in the sea. They succeed with this during the Friday but they have no use for the information really.

Preparations for a new perspective

Friday the 30th of April 1993 is the last day of life as the characters knows it, little did they expect what would happen at the top meeting, just mere two weeks after they arrived to Al Amarja.

They all meet at lunchtime, but Oliver doesn’t show up as promised, and they decide to scout a bit around the circus. They split up in two groups; Rune and Joshua in one group inside the circus are and Giovanni (stays in the car they have rented keeping an eye on the monitors for the surveillance cameras Joshua sets up) and Tarski on the ‘outside’. Rune has taken the precaution to have a cup of tea before he goes there, but he doesn’t tell anyone else about it so he is the only one that is protected. Tarski goes on the show to see if anything happens there but is in one regard disappointed. Nothing happened there. The player of Don Harvey has left the campaign–and the city–so Don does not join the others.

The circus area is divided in two; one where the show tent is and the public are allowed into this area. The tent is huge. Adjacent to this area is the crew area and both areas are fenced in and there are guards in the opening in the fence towards the crew area. To Rune’s horror are the guards inside the crew area from Hell’s Angels. I don’t think the player ever expected the Angels to show up in the campaign…

Joshua deploys several cameras within the area but something goes kind of wrong. Rune and Joshua is taken into a wagon and is interrogated by two men with aluminium foil on their heads and the men are more interested in the reading of some instrument then of what Joshua and Rune answers. They are using a mind controlling beam but Rune is protected since he has drunk a cup of ordinary tea (it was a real bad move by the Americans to throw the Boston Tea Party, or it maybe was a planed move, who knows?) but not Joshua who answers the questions truthfully. The questions where held quite short (mostly out of time constraints, I wanted to finish the campaign that session) and Joshua remembers nothing of it.

Shortly after does Rune find the tent where the meeting is going to be held, but no matter how much he tries he cannot make Joshua interested in it–a powerful Someone Else’s Problem-field is protecting the tent and once again is Rune helped by the tea. Rune leaves Joshua to his new interests and has a quick look at the tent; it is an ordinary circus tent but currently empty. It is impossible to use any surveillance cameras due to heavy jamming equipment. They leave for the van shortly after and when they return does Joshua realises that something was very wrong indeed, he listens to the tapes and video footage and realises that he has a gap in his memory. While Giovanni sat in the car an observed the groups progress did Oliver call and apologized for not coming as he had promised, but he had gotten his hands on something they later realises is a Someone Else’s Problem field generator. Might come handy.

Time for the big show

On May the First do all the pieces come together and the grand finale of the campaign is finally underway. The day begins with a meeting at lunch at Rune’s place who serves sandwiches … and tea. (I don’t think Rune informed them of why they drink tea.) Afterwards does Oliver show them how his Someone Else’s Problem field generator, the SEP for short, works. They are all quite impressed; pedestrians just walk past them without taking notice. They go to the circus and hide at the orchestra balcony and sets down for some waiting, the SEP turned on. After some time does the VIPs enter and are later introduced to everyone by the chairman, Mary Harel. All conversation is performed in each own language and is translated by a translation machine into the other’s languages. Oliver, Rune and Joshua succeed in tune their walkie-talkies to the right frequency and soon can everyone listen to what is said.

The meeting begins with Mary’s welcome and introduction but quite soon is she interrupted by an agitated discussion of who is attacking who. It looks like it is a full scale war on the horizon over the control of the planet and neither fraction wants to back down. His Highness has several long speaks and the other listens to him out of sheer respect for his people and their extreme reputation as great thinkers (if you is walking oven the Savannah you really don’t have very much else to do then thinking and it fosters the mind if you can’t write down what you have been thinking but have to remember it).

What the group on the balcony can find out is that two inter-stellar organisations are fighting for control over the greatest asset on Earth and the very reason it was constructed in the first place: The human genome and the enormous genetic research project that it is part of. Mankind is nothing else then a GMO with specific hardcoded parameters–extremely short life span and high sex lust to increase generation turn-around and thus reduce the length of the experiment, low intelligence that can be increased by issuing certain kinds of chemicals to better control the experiment etc. The data is such a treasure that the two fractions are willing to risk galactic war to get their hands on the commercial potentials of the experiment. The Spiral is offering to buy the rights to the human genome but World Traders (the lions) refuses to sell. Neither of the group likes what they hear but currently really don’t know what to do about it. The bottom line is that World Traders doesn’t like that The Spiral is using commercial terror while The Spiral firmly states that it was them that started Project Think Deep in the first place, and thus has the right to the result.

Suddenly, when they start to talk about getting out and calling for Nürn, does thing turn for the worse–or better depending on your point of view. A completely white figure walks in the door, about two meters tall and completely without features, very much like a child’s doll and in its footsteps are two other similar ones–weapon system sprouting from the shoulders of the latter two. Everything halts in the tent and the ‘skin’ of the first figure peels away and reveals a woman, Rune’s guardian angel. She introduces himself as Agent Sand-hra of the Imperial Board of Commercial Trade and that her mission is to stop a trade war, period. If she cannot prevent it, she will have to confiscate the object of the dispute, Earth, and since the Imperial Throne has no interest in such a remote planet (that’s why it was constructed in this spot to begin with), it will be demolished.

To say that the two fractions take the interference of the Imperial Government with calm would be to stretch the expression too far. They are furious to begin with and gets more upset from there. The two robotic suits that accompanied Sand-hra succeeds in flexing their muscles without moving as much as a wavelength of visible light and they start to calm down and start to argue in less agitated terms. It doesn’t do any good that you are the representative of a galaxy-wide organisation if you are sitting in front of enough destructive power to vaporize the island you are sitting on. Self-preservation is an instinct that shouldn’t be culled.

The discussions take a new, and for human kind’s part uglier, turn. Sand-hra declares that the Imperial Board of Commercial Trade has lost their temper with The Spiral and World Traders and their unlawful methods of competition, they are far beyond the legal limits of the usage of force! Rune then reveals himself and walks down to the tent’s floor and presents his idea that Earth can be handed over to and administered by the humans. Havening their cover blown, they all walk down and Joshua keeps himself in the forefront–if anyone is going to hand over the power of Earth to anyone else then he is the one that is going to be the latter. The group’s main argument for this is that the groups won’t loose as much money as if the planet is demolished.

Both the lions and Sun-without-stars protests furiously, mankind is nothing but non-sentient test animals without a free will but Sand-hra then reveals that her research has shown signs that some humans has now evolved to a potential level of intelligence and might be entitled for a test to be approved into the Galactic Empire as a new race. (The Sultan of the Elephants thought that most of the discussion was a bit funny, his people would be evacuated long before any destruction, so would his friends the dolphins, so he had a bit of perspective on the event–but as the highly skilled diplomat as he is he didn’t let any of it show.)

The characters objects to and disapproves of the notion that they should lack free will but they try to negotiate, after a while it seems like they have succeeded in some way. Sand-hra declares the Earth as confiscated by the Imperial Board of Commercial Trade, in the name of the Imperial Emperor and that a legal court will be held on Capital regarding the fate of the human race. At that moment does Joknir rise and pulls some kind of gun but he is instantly vaporized by one the robotic suits before Joshua’s throwing knife or the ultrasonic beams of Rune’s binocular reaches him. The meeting is adjourned and two other robotic suits arrive and all the characters, Rune, Tarski, Joshua and Giovanni, enter them and fly to Sand-hra’s space ship Prosperity Station. Joshua suggests that some organisation should take care of Earth while the court lasts (hint, hint) but Sand-hra declares that it will be handled by Elephant Sultans, and everyone flies of into space.

And whatever happens thereafter is another story…


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26th of February 2007