Unnatural History

Quentin dress­es up; Lum­by slight­ly less so.

Played

Episode 1: 21st May; Episode 2: 28th May; Episode 3: 4th June 2020.

Dramatis Personæ

  • Quentin Wedg­wood-Smythe, the Vis­count Wey­mouth – an Occult Schol­ar.
  • Lum­by Jones – a Very Weird Sci­en­tist.
  • Mis­ter Eras­mus Rooke – the Boss.
  • Doc­tor Richard Mitchell – an Expe­di­tionary Palæon­tol­o­gist.
  • Alexan­dros Helios – an Incom­pe­tent Necro­mancer.
  • The Great and the Good of Lon­don.
  • An Ani­mat­ed Fos­sil Tyran­nosaurus rex.
  • A Horde of Ani­mat­ed Fos­silised Beetles.

Plot

Episode 1

Fol­low­ing active cam­paigns to be allowed to oper­ate in the field, the Vis­count Wedg­wood-Smythe and Lum­by Jones were sum­moned from their respec­tive lairs (the Library and the Work­shops) to the Deputy Direc­tor, Eras­mus Rooke. Rooke informed them that their requests had been approved and they were to begin field­work imme­di­ate­ly. As junior Agents, they were to under­take a sim­ple task, con­tact one Doc­tor Richard Mitchell, a palæon­tol­o­gist not­ed for his expe­di­tions to the less-devel­oped regions of the world, and recruit him as a spe­cial­ist advi­sor for the Min­istry. This would be a del­i­cate task, as they need­ed to get his agree­ment before explain­ing what the Min­istry was!

Mitchell was to be unveil­ing his lat­est gift to the Nat­ur­al His­to­ry Muse­um that evening, so they made prepa­ra­tions to talk to him there. As the event was a white tie event for the elite of the coun­try, Jones was going to need some clean­ing up! Even­tu­al­ly, Wedg­wood-Smythe got him pre­sentable, and they caught a steam car­riage to Kensington.

The Muse­um was hold­ing one of its peri­od­ic fund-rais­ing evenings (the con­struc­tion to Cap­tain Fowke’s orig­i­nal plans had put the insti­tu­tion in a fair amount of debt). The entry gal­leries were full of aris­to­crats and busi­ness­men milling around and Wedg­wood-Smythe was dragged into con­ver­sa­tion by numer­ous acquain­tances, despite his best efforts. Lum­by did his best to look incon­spic­u­ous until the ush­ers announced the start of the lec­ture in the main lec­ture hall.

Mitchell was intro­duced to the packed audi­to­ri­um and regaled the audi­ence with out­landish tales of his exploits in Africa, fin­ish­ing with an invi­ta­tion to view his lat­est dona­tion to the Muse­um, a full skele­ton of Tyran­nosaurus rex, which he had “acquired” in the Con­go, from a tribe who wor­shipped it as a god.

Wedg­wood-Smythe was able to cor­ner the sci­en­tist fol­low­ing the view­ing, and began to care­ful­ly explain his offer. It did­n’t take long before Mitchell got his intent and agreed enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly, invit­ing the pair of them back to his office near the enty­mol­o­gy wing. It appeared he had seen a num­ber of strange things in the jun­gles and plains of Africa.

As he explained his expe­ri­ences, and Jones exam­ined the preser­va­tion chem­i­cals on the shelves, a wave of dark­ness washed through the room. Mitchell slipped in the con­fu­sion and cracked his head on the desk, and there was a crash and a series of screams from the main part of the Museum.

Jones paused to check if Mitchell was ok, as Wedg­wood-Smythe rumi­nat­ed the mag­i­cal nature of the effect. Mitchell appeared to be ok, so they ven­tured into the enty­mol­o­gy wing, just in time to see sev­er­al cracked insect cas­es shat­ter, the insect car­cas­es inside them crawl­ing out on to the floor and advanced towards them…

Episode 2

Ini­tial­ly, the duo were at a loss as to what to do with the horde of stone insects flow­ing towards them. Wedg­wood-Smythe tried to hit them with his cane, but had no effect, while Jones’ boots were sim­i­lar­ly ineffective.

Hav­ing a sud­den brain­wave, the aris­to­crat began search­ing through the chem­i­cal jars on the shelves for poten­tial weapon­ry. The inven­tor caught on quick­ly and joined him. It was­n’t long before they found some­thing that might do. Wedg­wood-Smythe began throw­ing jars, but had a great deal of dif­fi­cul­ty try­ing to hit the bee­tles, which sim­ply flowed around the hiss­ing puddles.

After a cou­ple of false starts, Jones fig­ured out how to dis­pense the chem­i­cal through his gas pro­jec­tor and the pair of them final­ly began to score some dam­age on the bugs. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this result­ed in the horde split­ting in two, with one half head­ing towards a group of muse­um guests. Many were injured before the Agents final­ly fin­ished off the beetles.

As they were check­ing on the vic­tims, they heard more screams from the main dinosaur gallery. Wedg­wood-Smythe went to check on the noise, and found that the Tyran­nosaurus rex skele­ton had come to life and was now threat­en­ing a num­ber of civil­ians in the gallery.

Real­is­ing the chem­i­cals would have lit­tle effect on such a large mass of stone, Wedg­wood-Smythe was momen­tar­i­ly stymied, but Jones decid­ed the best start would be to attempt to stun it with one of his stun grenades. This was suc­cess­ful, so the Vis­count took advan­tage of the lull to attempt to tan­gle the crea­ture up in rope that some main­te­nance staff had left nearby.

Episode 3

With the rope wrapped around the giant skele­ton’s legs and tied to two pil­lars, Jones was able to line up a shot with his vapour gun. He hit the spine imme­di­ate­ly beneath the skull, blow­ing it clean off and leav­ing the remain­der to fall to the floor, inanimate.

As they began check­ing the crowd for seri­ous injuries, a tall sat­ur­nine fig­ure, wear­ing an elab­o­rate­ly embroi­dered robe, strode through the door, and he was not in a good mood.

Wedg­wood-Smythe stepped for­ward, attempt­ing to ascer­tain who he was and what he want­ed, but the man imme­di­ate­ly began work­ing a spell. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for him, Jones was quick­er, and he was stunned before he could fin­ish his incan­ta­tion, wind­ing up in custody.

Before long, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Law arrived, and Min­istry Agents began clear­ing up the mess, con­vinc­ing the vic­tims that they had been the vic­tims of a simul­ta­ne­ous gas leak and exhib­it col­lapse caused by a sub­ter­ranean explosion.

Back at the Pal­la­di­an Club, Mr Rooke con­grat­u­lat­ed the duo on keep­ing the casu­al­ties to a min­i­mum and cap­tur­ing the cul­print, all while achiev­ing their mis­sion. Dr Mitchell had agreed to join the organ­i­sa­tion in a con­sul­tan­cy capacity.

Dur­ing the ensu­ing inter­ro­ga­tion, the Min­istry dis­cov­ered that the sor­ceror Alexan­dros Helios’s attempt at rais­ing an army from the neigh­bour­ing ceme­tery had back­fired spec­tac­u­lar­ly, spark­ing the wave of necro­man­tic ener­gy that had just rean­i­mat­ed a num­ber of fos­sils with­in the muse­um. He was escort­ed off to an appro­pri­ate deten­tion facil­i­ty while they fig­ured out what to charge him with.

Notes

New cam­paign, new Agents!

There are some revi­sions to the set­ting here as well, which I’ll attempt to detail later:

  • The Min­istry is now the Eso­teric Branch of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police, although it still refers to itself as the Min­istry of Blades, and oper­ates in secre­cy. It is based out of the Pal­la­di­an Club in Mayfair.
  • The set­ting as a whole is much more steam­punk, with automa­tons and steam con­veyances, as well as weird gadgets.

The intro­duc­to­ry sce­nario is based on the Sav­age Worlds Rip­pers One-Sheet ‘Unnat­ur­al His­to­ry’.