There was a nice bit of realisation from the players that this place actually existed. One of the photos even showed an inscription on a wall, dated 1787. It made the setting even creepier to know that this was a place that you could still go.
Joining up with the workers Phillipa and the Inspector climbed down the ladders into the dark. The workers had oil lamps and complained how little fuel they’d been given, just enough for them to do the work and come straight back. If they got lost or deviated from the path they were assigned to take they’d likely end up in complete darkness.
As they walked through the bone lined walls, watched by the sightless skulls, the workers voiced their concern that they were cursed. They feared that they’d angered the dead by moving their bones from holy ground.
One worker even claimed to have seen a spectre in the tunnels. A pale faced ghoul clad in black that almost dragged him away. If the workers hadn’t been desperate for money they’d have quit their jobs.
The workers unpacked the bones and began placing them into the walls, one worker musing that Paris had become a city of death (eliciting groans from the players.) While they worked Phillpa held the lamp, keeping a watch for anything strange.
I’d originally planned to have them attacked but in the moment it didn’t seem right. It just didn’t seem like it would be scary from something to lumber out of the shadows while Phillipa was keeping careful watch. It was too predictable.
Instead they heard a scream coming from down one of the tunnels, as one of the other work groups were attacked. I think this helped to prolong the suspense and have the player characters overcome their fears by willingly run towards danger.
Two of the workers refused to investigate, so Phillipa was accompanied by just two of them, Louis and Marcel. They arrived to find a worker being dragged down a tunnel by robo-men.
Still displaying her excellent running skills Philliipa kept pace with them, drawing ahead of Louis and Marcel. They reached a chamber which held four cloaked figures, members of House Dalek.
While one cultist knocked out the worker the robo-men were ordered to kill Phillipa. She had seen too much. The robo men lumbered towards her, giving her just enough time to draw the cane sword.
Unfortunately the lack of any fighting ability meant she was only able to scratch the robo man before it closed the distance between them. It was just about to strangle her when the holographic Inspector stepped in front of her.
The Inspector told Phillipa to run while the robo men futilely flailed at his insubstantial form. The cultists were frightened by this ‘dark magic’ and ordered a retreat, dragging the unconscious worker down one of the tunnels. Suddenly the Inspector vanished, the hologram deactivating.
Phillipa ran straight into Louis and Marcel, coming the other way. Noticing a flashing light on her bracelet she saw that the hologram had gone beyond the maximum range it could be projected and automatically shut off.
Explaining about the cultists Phillipa persuaded the workers to help her stage a rescue. Returning to the chamber she activated the Inspector, pretending that he had been waiting for them there.
Luckily he’d kept an eye on which tunnel the cultists had gone down. They noted that this area of the catacombs hadn’t yet been worked on. They realised that the cultists could be attacking the workers to protect their secret meeting place.
Approaching a hall they heard the cultists chanting while a priest offered up a sacrifice to their dark master. The Inspector spurned any attempts to be subtle and boldly entered the hall, telling them to fear his dark magic.
He saw that the robo men were holding the worker on an alter as the priest drove a knife into his heart. On a raised platform rested a Dalek, the workers death screams awakening it.
The reveal of the Dalek had the intended affect. The players were genuinely worried about what they were going to do. Worse still, being holographic wasn’t going to help the Inspector in this situation.
The Dalek quickly identified the Inspectors true nature and his origin. It accused the Time Lords of being responsible for extinguishing the stars but the Daleks had survived by retreating into the past.
The Inspector protested that Earth was protected and that they were endangering their own time line by coming there. The Dalek said that did not matter, the future was already in danger.
In an attempt to stop the Dalek the Inspector explained that it wasn’t the Time Lords but Croatoan, explaining how the living black hole had escaped his dimensional prison and some how infected black holes throughout the universe.
If the Daleks could find his TARDIS maybe they could stop Croatoan. The Dalek explained that their sensors had not detected any time capsules in the city, disheartening the Inspector. It seemed as if the real him wasn’t in Paris.
The Dalek announced that the Inspector would provide co-ordinates for Gallifrey and allow them to use their time corridor to get there. The Inspector refused but the Dalek had tracked where he was being broadcast from.
Yelling to Phillipa to run the Inspector rushed towards the Dalek, going beyond his maximum projection range and vanishing. Not needing to be told twice Phillipa urged Louis and Marcel to escape.
Phillipa rolled well both on her co-ordination+athletics check and then her co-ordination+subterfuge to hide in the tunnels. The workers weren’t so successful and were exterminated by Dalek.
The Dalek told the cultists that the rest of the workers would need to be exterminated and that it would reactivate the rest of the alien army. Paris would fall to the Daleks and Earth would become the new homeworld for the Dalek race.
Phillipa successfully made her fear check, holding herself together. She reactivated the holographic Inspector and they decided that they couldn’t allow the Daleks to conquer the city. They had to do the unthinkable.
Reluctantly they returned to the hall and the Inspector agreed to direct the Time Corridor towards Gallifrey, although he insisted that in order to prevent the destruction of the universe there would need to be an alliance.
The Daleks refused and threatened to kill Phillipa if the Inspector didn’t do as they ordered. The Inspector pointed out that as a hologram he needed Phillipa to be his hands and if they killed her they would never succeed.
Spending a lot of story points the Inspector calculated how to get the Time Corridor to his home world but also cause a time dilation effect, allowing Phillipa to reach Gallifrey first while the Daleks who followed would arrive at least ten minutes later. Time enough for them to warn the Time Lords.
Under the holograms guidance Phillipa made the necessary adjustments to the Time Corridor. The Daleks would send a 20 strong attack group with them but wanted Phillipa to go first, in case it was a trick.
Confident that their plan had worked Phillipa stepped through the corridor, transported through space and time. On the other side she emerged in the ruins of the capital city. Through cracks in the wall she could see the orange sky outside, but instead of the twin suns she had seen before there was a single massive black sun.
Gallifrey had fallen, the Inspector hologram has less than an hour of power left and the Daleks were on their way!
We left the game there, on another cliff hanger. They’d averted the threat to Earth by redirecting it towards Gallifrey. I’d always intended to have Gallifrey fall but it worked out really well, the player characters finding their only hope of salvation was gone.
The adventure achieved everything I hoped. As our first game with the Daleks their reputation alone made them frightening. There was no discussion of defeating them with violence. They decided their only option was to try and trick them.
The background research helped to ground the game in reality, the players commenting that they felt like they were really learning something. I think the more historical information you can include in the game the more the line between fact and fiction blurs.
I’m worried that Earth’s supposed status as a protected world was brought up again, as was the decision to find a weapon for Phillipa. Not that having the sword helped her at all, given that she has no fighting skill.
The players are hoping that they’ll find the real Inspector next game and hopefully a way to defeat Croatoan. So far this has shaped up to be an epic campaign.