Friday, March 29, 2013

Hufflepuff & Ravenclaw 13

13: And the Monster of Amristar Chapter 11-12

Chap. 11: Corruption's Touch

Fame's Tasty fruit

The next class they have to deal with is Hufflepuff Herbology with the Gryffindor's cheering the audacity of the Hufflepuff's plan of action. Gryffindor are always down with the "deeds not rules" ethos.  This is a brief chance to introduce some of the Gryffindor kids, who will have the task of being a bad influence later. The class starts with a description of the Argusatos project and the fact that they have to repot them. The PCs will be told to go to the cupboards and get the next largest pot size, but be careful not to disturb the row further back, as it contains the second year's Mandrake roots, which were also just re-potted. They might see Rowan idly stroking one of the mandrake plants.

Argusatos are key ingredients in potions sharpen eyesight and reverse blindness. They also, in theory, will give the ability to temporarily see through earth & stone if eaten raw (they might think to use this later), though eating them raw requires a Bravery check to make the first bite and a Fortitude check to finish it.

Then move to Daisy’s Muggle Studies class, where Prof. and Dr. Plain are tag teaming things. The distaff part of the class is no longer quite so googly-eyed about Dr. Plain now that he’s so clearly doting on his visibly pregnant wife. Dr. Plain will be spending some time in class talking about parallels between muggle and wizard cultures, specifically focusing on the Grindelwald war and how it overlapped with WWII. He’s advancing a belief that the cultures are intertwined and that forces in the Wizarding world will take advantage of muggle disruptions, and vice versa. Both professors provide some praise for Daisy, and Dr. Plain corners her after class saying that he heard she would be around for Easter break, a perfect time to take her up on her offer for interviews as someone both muggle and wizard.

We then shift to the Ravenclaw/Slythern Herbology class, where we open with the students at the point of pulling out their Argusatos, with much by way of hilarity a Fortitude + Herbology roll is required, and I already know that Castor's will have small, weak, watery eyes with little monocles. Zane will yank theirs out if Jasmine doesn't stop him, leading to the little eyed orb bouncing across the floor and into a dark corner. Whomever goes to get it will have a nasty shock as they will be bitten by a Kobold that has burrowed up into the greenhouse. The bit isn't much, but the student is nonetheless sent to Madam Pomfrey to have it treated.

Other classes may be added at player request.

All Alone in the Night

For their detection they'll be relegated to Professor Kettleburn's care, which ought to worry them just a bit. He will set them to capturing the Kobolds that threaten the herbology greenhouses. Its dirty work - made worse by the Kobold's nasty demeanor & Kettleburn's rigid insistence that they be treated with respect, as they were introduced here just after the War and are therefore a wizarding responsibility. He preaches. It gets old.

Kettleburn will also insist that they stay within a well-defined area around the greenbouses, and under no circumstances are they to wander off. He’ll teach them the Lumos spell to aid in their search. In this search the PCs (& Bess) find a trail leading outside the work area.

It leads through the vegetable patch to a small Hindu altar. It doesn’t look like the last one. This one is Shiva as Mruthyunjaya, the “victor of death”, who overcame Yama to prevent the death of one of his sages. This one also has a dozen Kobolds heaped on it. It’s clear that the Kobolds have been bled dry. If they tell Prof. Kettleburn about this he will be very upset, furious at them for getting so close to the dangerous willow (never mind this!) and send them back to their rooms immediately with orders to not discuss this with anyone!

Inevitable library time

They'll learn Kobolds are creatures that debase what they touch; their blood is used to convert gold or iron to dross, or for dark arts that corrupt or to overwrite the pure with the foul. They are native to Germany, and don't belong in the British Isles, where they compete with the less odious Knockers.

The Tempust spell, assuming that they can score enough of a Research success to find information on it, is an incredibly complex ritual spell that would take weeks to cast properly, but need only be done a little bit a day with the use of proper rune work. That rune work requires a lot of potion ingredients, however, which the PCs could try to track – all of them at the school, none of them are Kobold blood. They could also track Uranal energy (associated with rebellion, breaking down of old structures, political movements). This is well outside the first year's potential, but Daisy could do it - assuming that it was happening.

I expect research into Hindu magics to see about the body swapping thing. This will reveal (via Taxomancy) that such a thing is possible, but as a perversion of the existing ideas of Phowa (the reincarnation stream) to become a yangsi (the reanimated soul). In the normal course of events the yangsi enters the Pohwa and accepts what they get. Corrupted it is possible to use this spell to suppress a soul that has a tenuous grip on its body. Such a version of the spell would likely require something that debases what it touches; overwriting something good with something foul (like, say, Kobold blood). In some cases this is a swap, in some it is a suppression or eviction of the victim's soul. These cases also require some ritual work that Astronomy might reveal to them, relaying on Mercurial energies

They are able to find a text saying that Grindelwald, who was a better wizard than Dumbledore, used this trick to swap bodies with a less experienced wizard (whose soul had been dislodged with extended crucious curses) just before the duel; Otherwise we'd have to assume the unlikely proposition that a pure academic was able to defeat a hardened war wizard, which is unlikely. This theory had remarkable longevity in the 1950's; it’s the wizarding world equivalent of Hitler's Brian.

Chapter 12: Easter Break

I really have no idea where the players will be in their researches at this point, but I am going to lay out a few possible courses of action:

They might have bought the idea that it is Prof. Kettleburn hook line and sinker, and be looking to find out what it is he brought with him or what he’s doing. The break would give them an ample chance to do that, and in so doing possibly get them the wrong side of the carnivorous Occamy. By, for example, getting too close to its eggs. This might make a good “Fluffy” analogue. If they get caught doing this have it be by professor Flitwick or, better still, Briar. Both with scold them for it and take away some house points, but Briar will subtly push them to continuing to keep an eye on the mysterious Kettleburn.

The PCs, if they spy on him directly, will see him with his shirt off at some point. If they sneak into is rooms they’ll find a satchel labeled “Newcastle, October 1945”, which contains everything that Kettleburn was able to salvage from Slaughter’s flat – including the bag itself, which was Slaighter’s Galdstone from his days in India and carried with him for life.

The might think that it’s Dr. Plain, since he was born in the same year that Slaughter died. It’s a good guess, but it was 1945 – a lot of kids were born in 1945! The Muggle doctor is being incredibly solicitous of his wife, who is now showing quite a bit, and doing everything he can to make sure that nothing bad happens to her. They might take this as him “protecting his investment” but it’s perfectly normal. He’s also carrying on lots of interviews with the students. Who are there over Easter Break, asking them if they’ve seen or heard anything strange, suspicious, what have you, with a focus now on the PCs. Well duh! He’s finding out what first year students might see as normal or odd for his research.

He will reveal some things about himself to the students but not much. Questions about where he was born, for example, will be met with “well that’s a very strange and personal question?” On the other hand, he will ask the students what they know about Astrology, it being a Muggle perception of magic, and reveal that he is a Gemini. If they think to compare that, his birthday must fall between May 22nd and June 23rd 1945, but Slaughter was found dead in September! Does this invalidate him as a suspect? Is he just, perchance, lying?

They will also learn that he has requested, and been granted, a small room that he can lock and store things. He’s very secretive about what’s in there, but keeps finding time to slip away. If the PCs break into it they’ll find that he’s building a nursery and playroom, with the assurances from Ogham and McGonnagal that they’ll be magic the door to open into his & Rosemary’s room, so that he can surprise her for the first 3 months that the child will be at the school. Inside the room are the muggle toys and chest that he brought to the school after Christmas. Any attempts to find magical resonance are doomed to failure.

Or they might have settled (correctly) on Briar. This will make things harder, as I’m not sure exactly what they’ll be doing. They will be unable to sneak up on her doing anything she oughtn’t because of the location charms on their protective amulets (unless they’re so suspicious they take them off, in which case I might want to give them some sort of circumstance to block them from seeing too much). Right now, however, she has everything she needs to perform the spell except a reliably live baby and Woden.

They might confer with one of the other professors, perhaps Lippershey, to get advice or help on how to handle the detection of such a spell. Of course, they would also be spending time with Lippershey as the Dee boys are there for the recreation of   Henry Morgan’s sacking of Panama. (In 1667, Morgan was commissioned by Modyford to capture some Spanish prisoners in Cuba in order to discover details of the threatened attack on Jamaica. Collecting ten ships with five hundred men, Morgan landed on the island and captured and sacked Puerto Principe, then went on to take the fortified & well-garrisoned town of Portobelo, Panama. It is said that Morgan's men used captured Jesuits as human shields in taking the third, most difficult fortress). Lippershey volunteers to take the part of the Panamnians, and the PCs have to figure out how to get their troops to sacrifice the Jesuits.

Anything else at this time is just playing by ear.