Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hufflepuff & Ravenclaw 12

12: and the Monster of Amristar chapters 8-10

Chapter Eight: Drama!

A Storm of Dragons!

The first sessions of the Dramaturgy club show it to be a chaotic mess, but the sort that always coalesces into a single whole, as is the nature of theater. The class doesn't get into any of the specifics of Dramaturgy as a magical form - changing the world through theater - but over the years Jasmine will be able to learn more about it if she chooses to do so. There's a classic battle going on between Professor Ogham & Madam Hooch, where Hooch wants to do Dragons! & Ohgam wants to do the Tempest. Being unable to reconcile, they are leaving it to a student vote. Both stories focus transcendent changes at the end of one’s life: Prospero's tragic abandonment of magic & Grizzledbellow's ascension into the heaviside layer. Both are intended to lay the ghost of Voldemort, to make you know who reflect on his life and actions, if he is even still alive.

Neither will work - you know who is just too big a target. Still, all the club members are told to read both plays and vote on the decision. Until that decision the students do some general auditions and basic drama. I know that Jasmine will be here, but I don't who else.

Isnt he Dreamy?

Peaseblossom Parkerson, infatuated in a 15 year old fashion with Dr. Plain, tries a love charm on him. Peaseblossom tries it in a crowd between classes, so having one or more PC witnesses isn't a problem. The important things are a) having players notice her try a spell and see it bounce via a complicated counter-charm & b) for the spell to bounce back and leave Peaseblossom enamored with one of the male PCs (Castor, in our case).

This is a good opportunity for some comic relief, and also a chance for players to practice their Astronomy skills in a counter-charm for poor Peaseblossom. Owen Mardling will be insistent that this be kept inside the Prefect “family” if he finds out about it, given that it is a huge breach of protocol, but the players should also be wondering how a muggle managed such a successful counter-charm – could he be more than what he seems? (No, it’s an amulet his wife gave him.)

Earnest Efforts

In the end, the Dramaturgy club does neither play: the professors will advance that with Professor Plain's new wedding and their upcoming child (Not known to the students) they should do a Muggle show (updated for dramaturgy, of course): The Importance of Being Earnest. The play was chosen not just because it was funny, but because if it's centering on love, marriage, the identity of children and the durability of families.

There will be an official tryout, and if any of the PCs do well they will land a minor speaking role - Lane the butler for a boy, Ms. Chasibul if a girl - in the show, Otherwise they'll be doing smaller parts or backstage work. In either event, the show is next semester.

The Wizarding Raj

Armed with everything so far, they should be able to find Reg in the History of the Wizarding Raj that the Grey Lady had been holding. Even if they don't make the connection Jasmine will hit that point sooner or later and see a picture of Reg that matches the images of him in the previous Grindelwald texts. From this they will learn of his history as a member of the British army in India, his engineering of the massacre in Amristar, and his disgrace in the wizengamot. They now know the history of their enemy, but still don't know his face.

As a side note, if Pollux is pursuing the Binns' theory of cultural/magical connection he will come across Reg Slaughter's name as one who studied the primitive and blunt magics of the Indian peoples before the British arrived. He has a couple of articles in compiled journals discussing his dangerous infiltration into Hindu, Sikh & Buddhist groups to suss out the nature of their magics, and comes away convinced that while these people have display some potent abilities that Europe does not, it is merely because Europeans mastered & then abandoned these as being dead ends. He trots out some stretched examples to back up this theory, and speculates that these cultures will do the same once they are schooled away from their polytheistic world structures.

Further research into the death of Mr. Slaughter will uncover his death in a run-down Newcastle flat in 1945.  The players might even be able to determine that the person who found Slaughter's body was Jadayl Kettleburn. Kettleburn joined the Hogwarts staff just a few years later.

A Happy Occasion

In the week before Christmas Holiday Professor Plain will inform her class that she will be taking it easy or the rest of the year and will likely be taking next year off, as she and her husband are having a baby! (She was beginning to show and show signs of morning sickness, so there's no great shock here). The little bundle of joy is due at the end of the term….

Chapter 9: Christmas Holiday

Have you seen Tommy Kent?

Over the break Daisy gets an owl from Owen, asking if she has seen Tommy Kent, the Gryffindor prefect. Tommy had spent the latter half autumn term frenzied: he was dating Peaseblossom, doing prefect duties and doing shifts as Kettleburn's assistant & extra time with McGonnagal. It's not clear who saw him last but his parents apparently got a letter saying he was staying at the school while the school thought he went home. By any chance does Daisy know where he is? Nope!

Catching up with Kettleburn

Daisy is looking into Professor Kettleburn’s past in both the school yearbooks and the Daily Prophet. The Care of Magical Creatures professor was installed in the school in 1948, over the protests of some more vocal of the school alumni (mostly because he wasn’t properly British, but there odd rumors about his “blood” mean that something else might be afoot). Once installed those concerns more or less vanished. He is an active agent of the Ministry’s division of Magical Beasts, and has strong, forward leaning stance on the government’s role in the protection of magical creatures that has earned him some enemies. He was one of the main voices in the protection of Yale (magical stags whose horns can move independently). This resulted in a public duel between Kettleburn & Pellinore (Pellinore won) in ’72 which was papered over or resolved during last year when Pellinore was the DADA professor.

Plain as Day

Daisy is also looking into Dr. Plain. Born in 1945, he got his PhD from Oxford in Cultural Anthropology in 1972; his work focuses on the social changes in West Berlin since the Wall, including a popular book Light at the End of the Rabbit Hole that game him some brief celebrity in the late 70’s. The title refers to ‘going down the rabbit hole’ being used to describe taking the autobahn from West Germany to West Berlin.

The book takes a very liberal/socialist tone with regards to the Eastern Block counties and is obviously very earnest and well meaning, stressing the ability of two cultures separated by circumstances outside of their control to nonetheless get along without strife. Now out of the Thatcherite mainstream Dr. Plain’s work is less well regarded; Daisy can dig up nothing on him for the last few years.

Chapter 10: The Library Beast!

This is the start of session 3, running through the early days of the spring term.

On the platform

Any PC (preferably male, preferably older/larger and male), left alone for just a few minutes, gets snagged by a somewhat confused Dr. Plain to give him a hand with his trunks. The parcels are large and the weights keep shifting, in one case emitting a strange squeaking noise when it does so. (This is perfectly natural, as the box contains muggle infant toys, including a squeaky teddy bear.)

The box needs to be put in steerage, where the PC and Plain are both snagged to help maneuver a weightless trunk into position, assisting Kettleburn. The CMC professor is bringing in an Occamy for the upper-classmen to work with before it is brought home. (An Occamay is an Indian feathered serpent; 15’ long, carnivorous, dangerous when its eggs are threatened – which, since they’re made of silver, is often) He is duly secretive about what’s in the trunk, which might make the PC curious. More curious still is how, when whatever is in the truck moves he sees the professor’s entire torso undulate under his shirt! And then it’s on to the train.

Tommy on the Train

A brief scene in the prefect's cabin; Owen tells the prefects that Tommy is still missing. Peasblossom is beside herself with over the top histrionics, but she will reveal that Tommy said he was going to talk to Prof. Kettleburn about staying over break. I don’t know if this will add Peasblossom back to the suspect list, but it likely won't make Kettleburn look any more reputable.

Scares amongst the Stacks

Once the term starts there will be a strong concern that something happened to Tommy! Worse, there is something haunting the library. Madam Pince is beside herself with indignation, but groups of students are being assaulted in the library - knocked over, stalked, having some beast with vicious talons - that vanishes into thin air. Some students have been scraped up but most are just startled and scared. The only thing they recall (aside from talons) is the sound Pok Pok! as the beast approached. The scenes are covered with brown hairs. Perhaps this thing killed Tommy! The Horror!

Poor Tommy is the victim of Gryffindor hubris, as he tried an Animagus spell and turned himself not into an Eagle but a Diricaul. (Fabulous Beasts: This plump, flightless bird escapes danger by vanishing in a burst of feathers. Muggles knew it as a "dodo" and believe that it is extinct, being unaware of its ability to vanish at will. Because this belief (and associated guilt) has spurred more enlightened attitudes toward the animal world among many Muggles, wizards have encouraged it.)

Unfortunately, some Gryffindor 3rd years laid a 'trap', leading to an explosion and disarray amongst the library & damage to the students. Until the beast is caught the library is off limits to students without a teacher escort. Profs. Trelawney & Kettleburn have volunteered. This makes any research the PCs had in mind harder.

Naturally that magical research will include more information on a Tempust or whatever ceremony the villains might be planning for the end of the year, which hopefully now they will realize ties in with the birth of Dr. and Prof. Plain's child and with Hindu magic. They really do need to get into the library!

The Magical Beast Round Up!

One of the PCs will come across Hillary Highgarden, Gryffindor 1st year, in the girls bathroom (the one with Moaning Myrtle) crying. Mean old Professor Kettleburn is using the library scare as an excuse to confiscate all magical pets, and he just took her Norwegian Ice Toad, Cicle. To be fair, Ice Toads are nasty: when startled they absorb the heat in their vicinity, causing frostbite or crystallization, and they grow to 4'. Plus, there are only a few thousand still alive in the wild.

Kettleburn is doing a search of the dorms looking for other dangerous or rare animals to confiscate for the Ministry to properly care for them. Obviously any PC pets are targets, so it's a game of Hide the Familiar. I expect the PCs to win (they did purchase the familiars as advantages…) but it will further set up Kettleburn as an adversary.

Pok Pok! Pok Pok!

Obviously the only way to do the research they need to do is to get the beast out of the stacks. I have no doubt that Juliet might have identified the beast as one of the magical Dodos. Where it came from is another question, but they might also have figured out that the beast is Tommy, the result of a failed Animagus spell. That's why the feathers that normally fall off when the creature disappears turn back into Tommy's hair.

I expect them to develop some plan to capture the beast and, being Ravenclaws, that there actually will be a plan. I hope to play this out as being a little scary but mostly silly. Once they capture it Filch, Pince & Trelawny appear, earning rewards for their houses but also a big fat detention for violating the curfew or going in to the library without a teacher. I really need them to get detention; Trelawney's the best candidate. I can only hope that they won't develop some method of doing this that won't get them into trouble.

The Reality Cloak

After this scene Madam Pomfrey will shuffle them to the medical room to deal with any scrapes and bruises, and also to see what can be done for poor Mr. Kent. She'll cover the Dodo with a Reality Cloak so it assumes its normal form of Tommy Kent, who will be able to explain exactly what happened. (The cloak will cover all the offending bits of the naked prefect.) The important bit is seeing another Reality Cloak and what it does.

After their wounds are tended to they'll be sent back to their dorms. The point totals for their classes will be balanced out in the same way that Ron & Harry's were when they rescued Hermione from the troll, so the student body will see them as heroes - albeit heroes who have to serve a detention for their breaking of the rules. Such is the life of being a hero.

[NOTE: if the PCs do not do things in such a way as to get detection, a pet will lead a PC out to the Hindu temple near the willow, dammit!]