Savage 1600s

003b Poor Dr Swann

They arrive, with the angry Edward Potter, at the house of Dr. Thomas Swann. Harry Pike has dressed in the leather smock of one of the grave robbers and is carrying Mistress Dee over his shoulder. It is a poor disguise but it may get them through the door.
The house is a decent size with a two-storey black and white, thatched cottage and an attached single storey stone workshop and a small leanto. The grave robbers were to deliver the body to the workshop door.
They knock and from inside, they hear the faint words, “They are here, my love” and the creak of a trapdoor being closed. The Doctor opens the door and Harrry carries in the “body” while Swann seems distracted. It seems he has not slept, his hair and beard are unkempt, his eyes blodshot and red rimmed. They push past, into the room and accuse him of murder and necromancy and ask how many of his patients has he killed. He mutters that this was the first one he had to kill and explains that “My dear Mary insisted. She really liked the girl’s eyes.” The confession sends Potter into a rage and he starts to beat the Doctor into unconsciousness.

Mistress Dee spots the trapdoor, opened a crack, and dashes over to fling it open. She is momentarily horror-stricken by the sight of a woman on the stairs below. Even in the gloom of the cellar, it is clear this is a walking corpse, stitched together from the mismatched body parts of other women and clad in a stained nightdress and covered in tatoos similar to those seen on the animated hand they fought that morning. There are only a few scraps of hair on her rotted head and her eyes blaze with a horrible green fire. A raspy voice issues from her, “Where are my eyes?”.

The fight in the cellar is hard as the creature seems to regenerate and barely feels any injuries and almost ignores the crossbow bolts. Harry manages to beat the zombie to the ground but she keeps getting back up. Once again, it is up to Masa to enchant his sword and deliver the killing blow, striking off the woman’s head.

In the aftermath, they search the cellar and find the heavy book they are seeking, entitled The Ressurection and the Life. Then they notice a twitching from the stitched-up corpse. Something tears through the flimsy nightdress from inside the body. A tiny pink hand, then a tiny arm and the horror is complete. A baby zombie, still attached by the bloody cord to the headless corpse of its mother! It begins to crawl towards Mistress Dee, who has the Book, dragging the body behind it. Harry’s maul descends with a sickening crunch, then the enchanted blade of Masa finishes the grisly work.

In the cellar and office they also find letters and a journal.

003 Graveyard Stakeout

The rest of Sunday morning, they spent searching Simeon’s house for the Book. They found nothing of interest.

Against Mistress Dee’s advice, Harry drew mystic symbols on th kitchen floor and attempted to use the gypsy witch’s magick bone. [GM:He rolled snake eyes for the Magick roll and then again on the Backlash!] The power overwhelmed his untutored mind with images of snakes writhing in blood. The visions disturbed him so much they gave him fatigue.

Knowing that they would need to do the stakeout of the graveyard, they returned to the Widow Bracknell’s guest house and slept until evening. From her they heard how well-attended the funeral had been and learned that the young girl had been very popular and had beautiful blue eyes.

They hid in the grounds and waited for a few hours in the dark and drizzle. A couple of hours after midnight, three graverobbers turned up. The fight was over before it hardly began. Ezekial shot and killed the first. The others closed in and cut down a second. The third surrendered, scared out of his wits.

They intimidated a confession out of the grubby young man, Eric Shinty, before Harry fetched Edward Potter, the grieving father of the little girl who had just been buried. Potter summoned a couple of the town’s Reeves. Shinty pleaded for mercy and told them that the body was too be taken to the workshop of Dr Thomas Swann. At first Potter refused to believe it but gradually came to realise that his daughter may have been slowly poisoned by the doctor. Ezekial explained that Dr. Swann might be a necromancer! This town has had some experience with a necromancer and the Reeves were happy to leave the arrest in the hands of the strangers, but warned them to take Swann alive as they would need proof of his guilt. Potter insisted on accompanying them. On the way he told them a little of Swann’s history.
5 years ago, Swann’s pretty young wife died during childbirth. The doctor was very distraught and has been melancholy ever since. It was Swann who was called to the jail 3 years ago, to stitch up the severed arm of the necromancer, Roger Simeon, on the night before his execution.

002 His Cold, Dead Hand

Arrival at Devyses

The journey on foot from Manchester to Devyses has taken 3 weeks. It is Saturday, late afternoon, that the Town comes into view. They have stayed at Inns most nights. During the journey Clara has been studying the Crone’s Bone but fails to understand the runes. Harry Pike has been studying it too and he is the now carrying the box. [GM:Very high exploding Smarts Roll]. This item lets you cast a special spell of Fortune.

They chat with a friendly pedlar, one Ebanezer Bay and learn something about local affairs.

  • The town’s most notorious ex-inhabitant was Roger Simeon, the Necromancer, executed 3 years earlier for Grave-robbing and Foul Black Arts. His house is still deserted, rumoured haunted, noises and lights seen.
  • Rumour that Simeon’s Ghost is somehow back as in the last several months, two bodies have been dug up from the churchyard. There is concern that a young girl (12) who just died and will be buried tomorrow, might also be grave-robbed. The locals are all too afraid of Simeon’s Ghost to stand watch.

Following goodman Bay’s recommendation, they head to the guest hous of the Widow Bracknell who “keeps a good table and clean bedding, changed Winter and Summer”. Bay cheerfully admits to getting some form of kickback for referrals.

They stay at the Inn, 1 shilling per person per night [GM:must remember to check reasonableness of prices].

The Widow describes the hanging of Simeon as she was there. As he twitched the hempen jig, his severed wrist burst open. at the same time, 3 miles away, his drunken betrayer was throttled in his bed. Simeon had paid a jailor to cut off his hand the night beforenhe was hanged.

She also tells them about Edward Potter’s daughter Beatrice who has just died yesterday from a sickly cough, despite the best efforts of “poor Dr Swann”. The girl is to be buried tomorrow.

The adventurers decide to get Mr Potter to hire them to stand guard over the churchyard for the next few nights to prevent the snatching of his daughter’s body. Harry Pike convinces Potter to hire them.

In the local pub “the Crowned Head” they gather more info, mainly from Ned Fox, the jailor who cut off the handnof Simeon. The prisoner begged him and gave him gold in payment. Ned chopped off the hand. Simeon bled a lot so Ned fetched Dr Swann. Swann stiched up the wrist.

The Necromancer’s books were also in the cell and were burnt after the hanging.

Next morning, while the rest of the town is at church, they wander through the drizzle to Potterne Wharf, a hamlet south of the town to search Simeon’s abandoned house.

Here they are attacked by Simeon’s severed hand. To their horror, it appears that non-magical blows only make it Shaken, and don’t do any real damage. Masashige is forced to cast a spell to enchant his own blade. Clara manages to Shake it by shooting it, Ezekial and Harry manage to pin it in the kitchen sink while Masa finally skewars and kills it with his temporarily enchanted blade.

001 The Doctor is in

In the Year of Our Lord 1601, on the 3rd day of May, Dr Dee gathered a group of adventurers and sent them off in search of a stolen book.
He has reason to believe that Roger Simeon, a Necromancer, executed 3 years earlier, had the book. He has learned that Simeon’s cottage, on the outskirts of Devises in Wiltshire, is still unoccupied, due to rumours of a haunting. The book may still be there.

Dee explains that the angel Uriel has made contact with him in his dream state. Something terrible is happening soon and Dee may be able to do something to prevent it, but only if he can work out what and where it is. The lost book may hold vital information.
[Historical Note:Dee really did spend his life trying to talk to Angels. He also had one of the biggest libraries in Europe, at his home, Mortlake (near Richmond on Thames). He returned from a few years travelling in Europe to find it had been ransacked and many books stolen in 1583]

We got introductions and short back-story from each of the players.
Clara is Dee’s niece and protege.
Howland owes Dee a favour for helping him track the Necromancer Volodya Putin (too late to save his family)
Masashige has consulted with Dee quite a bit. Dee is his main contact in England.
Harry Pike has done some unsavoury jobs for Dee, while Dee was in London (getting hold of bodies for research and providing muscle). Pike is hired, mainly to act as bodyguard to Clara.
[GM:The PCs are starting as Seasoned, so all had 4 extra Advances]

They decided to travel on foot from Manchester to Devises, about a 10-day journey. They stayed at Inns most nights.

On the 6th evening, they were still an hour from a warm bed when they came across a few gypsies at a crossroads in a wood. [GM:An excuse to try out the Savage Worlds system]

As the PCs approached the gypsy caravan, they saw a crone sitting on the back steps with a basket of fruit on her lap and a few scruffy men loitering “too nonchalantly” nearby.

Ezekial Howland, not fond of gypsies as his old enemy Clee is one, loaded his crossbow and this seemed to trigger the action. [GM:They would have tried to ambush anyway but I got to claim they were provoked]

We dealt out cards for initiative and there were a flurry of shots from 2 of the gypsies and the old woman, and the other 3 of them moved in with swords.

There was surprise from Ian (playing Ezekial) that there is no equivalent of the 5 foot step or “shift” from D&D that could get him out of melee without risking a strike from any adjacent ally. Also not happy to learn that ranged weapons larger than a pistol can’t be used while in melee.

They made short work of the gypsies but the crone turned out to be a Wild Card, and a witch with a curse power. However, the witch fumbled her curse attempt and the roll on the backlash table took away her powers for 24 hours!

Clara Dee, scholar and markswoman, killed 2 of them. Masashige, the reformed ninja-in-exile, hacked down one, Harry Pike another and Ezekial Howland shot the other. The crone had a lot of luck at first. Pike and Masa just couldn’t hit her. She was fending them off with her fruit basket! When she finally was run through, Harry smashed her bones with his maul, partly out of frustration, partly to prevent her evil magic from bringing her back.

Clara and Harry searched the caravan. Clara found an ornate box, tied with a red ribbon. There was some magic on the ribbon when she undid it but her Spirit roll was high enough to resist it [GM:I intended to have her attack the other PCs with her sword, getting a Spirit roll each round until she shook off the effect]. The box contained the shoulder blade of a horse, carved with glyphs. Probably used to tell the future. Harry rolled double 1 on his search so trggered an acid trap which very nearly burned his hand off. Fortunately Clara is a skilled healer and they should start the next episode without any major injuries.

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