Joshua Kallen

Description:

Class: Socialite

Strength: 9 (0)
Intelligence: 13 (1)
Wisdom: 12 (0)
Dexterity: 12 (0)
Constitution: 10 (0)
Charisma: 15 (1)

Level: 6
Wealth: Affluent
Age: 17

Madness: 56
Hit Points: 26 (on 14)
Expertise: 5
Armour Class: 7
Attack Bonus: +3
Saving Throws: Physical – 12, Mental – 9, Evasion – 13, Magic – 11, Luck – 10

Abilities:
Folie a Deux: Compel friendly or intimidated reaction in a target human if it makes some sort of sense. Tainted humans can try and resist effects for an hour with mental effect saving throw.

The Blood-Read Book: At 3rd level, the socialite may intuitively sense the current emotional state and perceive the general train of thought of another person. Specific thoughts are not revealed, but an intent of violence, treachery, fear of a topic, or other generalities can be observed. Humans tainted by the supernatural may make a Mental Effect saving throw to resist this ability for an hour.

Reliable Skill: Re-roll failed Art, Business, Culture, Gambling, Language, Law, Leadership, Perception, Persuade, Profession, or Vehicle check.

Background: Scientist
Skills: Culture – Home (1), Engineering (0), Research (2), Science (1), Persuasion (2), Leadership (1), Computers (0), Perception (0), Combat Unarmed (0), Navigation (0), Occult (1)

Gear:
-Electronics Kit
-Smartphone
-Laptop Computer
-Homemade Old Earth Car (modelled off an Aston Martin)
-Taser
-Sword

Bio:

History

Josh was born the first son of Michael and Hannah Kallen, but more importantly as the great-grandson of Joseph Kallen, one of the astronauts and scientists who founded the colony of Stellar. With both of his parents being scientists, his father especially responsible for the systems that keep Stellar City and Stellar Landing habitable, Josh has been brought up surrounded in knowledge and actively encouraged toward its pursuit.

Having recently finished school, Josh was offered a position as an apprentice within under his father as part of the Colony Company, with the expectation that he will rapidly rise through the ranks and one day take over from his father. Josh is not entirely happy with this state of affairs – he enjoys his work and genuinely shares in his father’s interests, but he would prefer to have to work a little harder to make his way, rather than just perform adequately at what he is instructed. Whilst working as a scientist and engineer for the Colony Company, he met ‘NFB117’ or ‘17’, a security guard for one of the engineering labs Josh worked in.

That being said, his charming manner and easy smile have won him plenty of influential friends both in and out of work, and whether he follows his father’s path or not, it is likely that he will find a path laid out for him. He has recently begun a project with several school friends to construct between them a replica Aston Martin – a car that used to be driven on Earth, back in the days before self-driving vehicles. Whilst nothing more than an idle distraction, the project has revealed a dormant desire for leadership within him. Troye Copeland assisted in a somewhat less-than legal manner to acquire the engine for this car – Josh isn’t entirely sure where he got it from and probably doesn’t want to know.

Josh currently lives in his own apartment in Residential Zone C (affordable on his apprentices wage, with a little bit of a supplement from Dad), usually on his own but occasionally sharing with his on-and-off boyfriend Lukas (who he hasn’t told his family about), one of the other apprentices at work and the son of a director at Barclays. His parents’ house is a few streets over in Zone B, and he often spends a couple of evenings a week with his family (parents and younger sister Helen).

Death, Decay and Delicacy

Recently, Josh was quarantined in Residential District A when a mysterious plague broke out. He met back up with 17 and Troye, and was introduced to an intelligence broker named Spec. Together they investigated a series of mysterious events after a health worker named Nicholas Crane gave Josh a tip off that there were human remains in a building.

The four of them investigated, finding a basement full of human corpses and a journal written in code. It appeared that a cult of cannibals were orchestrating a man-made plague for an unknown purpose. After some poor investigative work involving leaving a delivery man bound and gagged in his closet and another man unconscious in the street after being tased in the face, the four of them identified that Lana Scott, the health worker in charge of District A, was the ring leader of manufacturing and distributing the plague.

When confroting her, Josh was knocked out, and both Lana and her bodyguard were killed in the process. Thinking quickly, Josh attempted to arrange the scene so that the evidence would correctly incriminate Lana to the police and lead them away from his own trail. This appears to have been mostly a success, but Josh’s father seems to have figured out that his son was heavily involved, and is behaving in a distressingly aloof manner. Josh is unsure how to deal with this but hopes his father will at least confront him with his suspicions in time so that they can clear the air.

After getting home from this ordeal, Josh spent a long evening in his house with Lukas talking about what had happened to him and getting a lot of the pent up feelings off his chest. Lukas did his best to comfort Josh and their friendship seems to have grown closer, but Lukas himself isn’t entirely sure what to make of Josh’s actions and what happened to his friend.

After going back to work for a couple of days, Josh decides, with Lukas’ advice, to explain what happened fully to his father – to make sure he isn’t drawing any conclusion that are worse than the truth. The conversation is inevitably very awkward, but his father seems to warm up a little and Josh thinks time will heal most of the issues – hopefully faster than his stomach wound!

Placating the Masses

After he gets back to work for a couple of days, Josh once again heads out with his ‘friends’ into more danger – one of Troye’s contacts had observed some strange happenings out in Stellar Landing and Troye wants to investigate. Arriving at the contact’s address in Stellar Landing, the party find him dead in his bed, his throat cut open. They do, however, locate some of his research on the occurrences he’d reported, including the location of Stellar First’s old headquarters and their latest rally – Stellar First being a right wing racist party that promotes Stellar citizens above immigrants from Earth.

Exploring this old hideout, the friends discover, amongst other things, a map of Stellar Landing with some other tunnels drawn over the top in ultra-violet ink. With this found, they headed to the recent rally location and found some notes from Sara Lessick’s speech which didn’t really make a lot of sense – they certainly weren’t incredibly motivational. They also found some runes on the floor near the rally site.

This just left the underground tunnels left to explore. After locating a hidden symbol of a Gorgon’s head, Josh opened a secret passage under the sewers that led to the tunnels marked on the map. After exploring for a while and narrowly avoiding a group of partially brainwashed thugs, they came across a room from which light was spilling. 17 rather hastily kicked in the door and was promptly beheaded by a thug wielding a machete.

In panic at seeing his friend and protector’s head severed from his shoulders, Josh fled from the fight, his remaining friends on his heels, and tried to find a safe room they had previously located. In his distress, he failed to follow the map back to that room, and in helpless rage blamed the ‘broken’ map for all of his woes.

Dragging his companions out of the tunnels against Troye’s will, Josh went back to his house for the night, asking Lukas if he could spend it with him. Through a combination of Netflix and cuddles and other activities, Lukas managed to help Josh enough for him to meet back up with Troye and Speck, who shared a few companionable moments in silence over Starbucks milkshakes before formulating a plan of attack.

Returning to the underground tunnels closer to their destination near the city centre, the three investigated several rooms that appeared to be offices, narrowly avoiding a wide array of cultists. Everything written in these offices seemed to involve experimentation with runes – possibly used as part of the mind control afflicting the thugs and many people throughout Stellar Landing. They also found a large metal door engraved with the same runes, and were unable to open it.

After spending a bit too long in one of the empty offices, they were interrupted by the scholar who used that office. Unable to convince him of why they were there, he attacked them with some strange magical power – something that Josh has not yet had time to think about – they then killed the thug accompanying him and chased him down, tackling him and dragging him back to the room which proved to be a substantial mistake as they were cornered there by another scholar and a large group of thugs, who took the players prisoner, escorting them to a location unknown – perhaps the other location marked to the west, outside the dome?

The unknown woman took the party to a holding cell to the western end of the tunnel, confiscating all of their items except some weapons Troye and Spec managed to hide. In this cell, they met D-Shawn and Maximillian, who had been imprisoned previously. D-Shawn had smuggled in a strange map that he showed the party; one that appeared to mark a location to the north west of Stellar Landing, well outside the dome.

Whilst they were trying to figure a way out, the same woman who had imprisoned them returned to ask how much they knew exactly. In an effort to mislead her, Josh told her most of what they know but left out any information that he thought would make her more likely to kill them. After she left to ponder their fate, the party planned to ambush the guards when they put food in the room, but the woman returned first with two additional guards, and led everyone out of the prison and back towards the center of the hideout.

Initially content to follow her, Josh became suspicious when the woman retrieved an old book that looked suspiciously like the rune journals they had previously encountered. Fairly sure in his assumption that the runes could mind control people, he decided that he didn’t want to find out where they were being taken, nudging Spec to give him some warning before bolting at a large junction and yelling for the party to split.

Josh, with the element of surprise on his side, managed to get away easily, and wasn’t followed by any of the guards. Whilst initially lost, he managed to get his bearings after slowing down, and follow a path back to the tunnel they had been led down by the woman. Backtracking, he returned to the prison and reclaimed everyone’s equipment (apart from some crowbars and a machete) and returned to the surface after a narrow escape when someone came back to the prison to check it.

Safely on the surface and ensconced in a relatively fancy hotel (he definitely earned a treat after that episode), Josh settled down on his bed and went through the items he had found in the prison in addition to everyone’s belongings – a few notes that had been left on a table by one of the guards. The most important thing written down mentioned the Ashen Skull of Yhohal; something some research concluded was related to some ancient tribal myths documented in the Myths of Ancient Tribal Civilisation – an extremely rare book that was unfortunately only in the British Library back on Earth.

The notes were not clear what the cult needed with this artefact, but combined with the map D-Shawn had provided, the party had an idea where it was whilst the cultists did not (at least not as far as Josh knew). Josh called on his friend Andrew who worked as an electrician and general maintenance guy in the building he worked in to get access to the rover garage outside of the dome – where he could get hold of a buggy and spacesuits for the trip out to the rock formation they had located. After telling Andrew that he had wanted to take Lukas out on a date onto the surface, Josh made sure his boyfriend was in on the scheme, promising him an actual date somewhere nice in the future.

Josh is excited about getting the chance to explore the Martian surface, but is a little concerned about what he might find in the rock formation they spotted, and really wants to make sure he doesn’t break the moon buggy or any of the other equipment that Andrew let him access, as both of them would get their balls chopped off so hard.

Grabbing a buggy from the garage, Troye (much to Josh’s reluctance) drove the party across the Martian surface to the strange rock formation they had previously spotted. Parking the buggy behind some rocks and out of the way, they came across a small portal that, after tentatively going through, led to another world – one with a breathable atmosphere, strange ghost-like creatures, bone foliage and Mongol tribesemen (with guns).

Heading towards a small collection of yurts on the hillside, they came across a transparent bear, before encountering some Mongol tribesemen herding Yak and a group of riders on transparent horses. These riders were relatively friendly, and after some discussion, took the party to the tribal chief, an old lady named Bayarma-Jochi. She directed the players toward the storyteller, who told an ancient story about Yhohal who had been a charismatic leader in the distant past on this world who was betrayed by jealous enemies that took his artefact as their own.

The storyteller had not seen it, though, and some investigative instinct from Spec suggested that they look for places where the Skull could have been used in this world – the Hychyt tribe suddenly gaining dominance, for example. After talking to the ambassador for a while and not getting anywhere, they asked him to direct them toward the Hychyt encampment, which was surprisingly nearby. Bayarma-Jochi lent everyone horses in exchange for their promise to try and release them from vassalage to the Hychyt. The party agreed, and rode (very badly) to the Hychyt encampment, looking for more information.

Here they were welcomed more openly and heard talk of a ‘Lady’ that favoured their tribe, and it was down to her that their tribe had achieved supremacy. Speaking to the priest of this ‘Lady’, it seemed her favour had begun recently, and that her name was ‘The Veridian Conceiver of Worlds and The Howling Dark’. Her priest though was unaware of the Ashen Skull, and so the party were once again without anything to do.

The next day, though, after Spec had infiltrated the Chieftain’s tent and found nothing, everyone else spotted an ashen coloured skull around Akhutai-Hychyt’s neck, along with several other skulls. Akhutai and his warriors drunk to celebrate a recent victory, and Josh, Troye and Max partied with him to get him drunk whilst Spec snuck into his tent and waited for him to come back and pass out drunk.

This part of the plan succeeded, but unfortunately the three of them drank a little too much themselves and also passed out, and were taken to a holding cell by Akhutai, who had managed to convince them to like him more through the power of the Skull – presumably to be brainwashed fully later. Spec managed to get hold of the Skull though, and found everyone else in the prison cell. Orchestrating a prison break with the captives from earlier with the aid of the Skull’s, he extricated the players and took them back to the Jochi village, where he told the village chieftain that he had taken away the source of the Hychyt’s power. She was unconvinced, but Spec used the skull to persuade her to accept his explanation and help keep him and the rest of the party safe.

Travelling back to the portal the next day, there was a confrontation at the portal back to Mars. Troye and Max made clear their intention to destroy the Skull, whilst Josh wanted to inspect it to see if it had any familiar runes on it. However, before anyone could react, Spec used the Skull to dissuade anyone from wanting to destroy it, immediately quelling Troye and Max’s requests. Josh had no intention of destroying the Skull, though, preferring to make use of it, and so was not affected. Because of that, he noticed that Spec had the power to force his ‘friends’ to go completely against their own wishes – something that has alarmed him greatly and caused him to completely distrust Spec and, to a lesser extent, Troye and Max – he can no longer be certain that they are acting of their own will or if they are entirely enslaved to Spec’s will.

With the Stellar First threat seemingly passified, at least for now, Josh spent a lot of time at home thinking on what he wants to do next. He no longer feels comfortable with the rest of the party, and wants to get the Skull off of Spec, even if it means Spec has to die – he does not trust the information broker to use it responsibly at all, and is scared of what Spec could make him do with it. He doesn’t have any particular ambitions with the Skull himself, but would like to study it and keep it safe for when it might be needed.

He also wants to spend a lot of time studying both the world they visited and more broadly magic itself – he would like to return to the world alone if he gets the chance and inspect it more closely, learning more about it and its creation. As for magic, he doesn’t yet understand its scope and the possibilities it has, and wants to spend a lot of time learning more about it before he maybe makes the jump into learning how to perform it.

As for what to do next, he wants to investigate the issues with the Solar Farms – they directly affect his work, and the police force in his parent’s District, District B – they seem utterly useless and he suspects a cult could be behind it.

Josh put a significant bit of effort in, along with Lukas’ help, to rebuild his bridges with Andrew and at work – Andrew got into a lot of shit because Josh kept the buggy out for several days, and he wants to make sure there’s no bad blood between them – they were reasonably good friends and he doesn’t like any awkwardness. A combination of sweet talking, return favours and spending time with Andrew and Lukas appears to have mended any problems that were there, although his own boss is still rather annoyed at him – Andrew’s boss was less than impressed.

Josh also went to visit his parents after returning from Skulleic, spending a day with his father on trivial things – it was quite awkward and their relationship is still very strange, but his father began to warm up to him a little bit. Thankfully he hasn’t found out about any of the other extra-curricular activities his son has been up to, although Josh is beginning to think he should really tell his parents about Lukas as their relationship appears to be getting less on-and-off and more just on – Josh has relied heavily on Lukas to deal with the bizarre events of recent weeks, and for his part Lukas seems to enjoy helping his boyfriend out.

The Approaching Silence

After several months of enquiring around the police department in residential zone B and getting absolutely nowhere, Josh’s Dad told him that he was having a party soon and that many of the important people around the District would be present. Sensing an opportunity to meet some of the higher ups within the police department, Josh called for a meeting with his companions and suggested that they all attend the party, Troy as a guest and Maximillian and Spec as catering staff.

Whilst at the party, Josh played croquet for a while with Lukas and Troy before mingling with some of the guests, specifically the police chief (who was a bit of an arrogant prick) and Pierce Dockery who was the head of the customs agents for Stellar. Whilst socialising, he noticed that a fairly significant quantity of guests were wearing rings or other jewellery emblazoned with a fairly notable design that he was unfamiliar with.

After speaking with his companions, he learned that Pierce had mentioned to a woman that she could collect some jewelerry at the ‘usual location’ that evening, and Josh wondered if this ‘usual place’ would be the customs office in Stellar Landing.

Spec took the opportunity to seduce a random woman in an attempt to steal her ring and ended up taking her back to her house. Josh and Lukas followed (and made out in the dark) and looked around the house whilst Spec kept her ‘busy’. [REDACTED]. They were unable to find anything, though, and ended up downloading the contents of her phone whilst she was passed out.

Unsure of where else to go, Josh suggested that the party visit the customs house to see if they could find anything out. They located a worker that had taken bribes from Troy but were unable to get him to talk so followed (and helped) him home where they interrogated him. He said that he saw some items were removed from their location fairly often, and his boss would tell him to leave things there from time to time, but he didn’t know anything else about it.

Whilst doing this, Troy remembered that he’d spoken to a new policewoman at the party who appeared to be interested in the corruption going on in Distrct B. The party arranged to meet with her during the evening the next day, after Josh had finished work. First, though, Josh went back to his house in Residential District C to rest up.

Lukas turned up after an hour and the two of them spent a while talking about what they’d done the previous night with Josh explaining some more about some of his previous ‘adventures’. Lukas had quite enjoyed the excitmenet from the night before and was keen to see more of the world Josh described, although Josh would rather prefer he stay out of harms way. They also decided they should make things official and get around to telling their parents at sokme point. Then [REDACTED]

The meeting with Charlotte was disappointing – Spec had already managed to find an address for Gary Peters, and Charlotte didn’t even know it exactly. With no other leaves, everyone came back to Josh’s house where Lukas cooked them dinner/ordered takeout pizza. Later in the evening, Troy and Josh approahced the gates of Gary’s residence and asked for a meeting to discuss business whilst Spec and Max snuck around the back.

The meeting did not go that well, but they arranged a meeting on wednesday at 7pm. However, Josh had to give his real name to Gary in order to secure this meeting which caused him great concern once Spec started going crazy. As they were heading home, Spec sent a message into the group chat with a picture of Giga’s beaten body and a statement that he was going to ‘go crazy’ and kill everyone. A few minutes later another message arrived telling everyone to join him.

Suspicious, Josh answered the summons due to Max’s encouragement, although he was certain something was up. For the sake of insurance, he emailed the group of ex-policement that Charlotte belonged to and asked them to come help. It turned out to be mostly fine, though – Spec had used his Skull to take out the two guards and enslave the butler, and Peters was locked up in his study. Before they could break in though, a car full of hired goons turned up. With insuifficient time to hack the lock on the study, they decided to set a fire in the house to burn Gary alive in his study and eliminate the risk he posed. Josh didn’t think this was a great idea as it got them nowhere closer to solving the problem, but it was better than a powerful criminal knowing his name and face and having a grudge.

The fire set smoothly, and Spec once again used his Skull to set the thugs against each other. Max and Troy freed Giga from the basement and carried him off the property whilst Spec remained behind to make sure Peters didn’t jump out of the window. Sensing an opportunity, Josh stayed behind as well to see what happened and help if necessary, alerting the ex-policement to assist in detaining Peters.

Gary jumped out of his window and took a glancing blow from Spec before cutting him down with his sword, leaving the dubious thief bleeding out on the floor. Reinforcements arrived just in time and Josh grouped up with them to take on Peters, having to use all of his persuasion skills to encourage their cooperation. Things did not go well, though, with Josh taking a heavy blow from Peters’ sword and failing to connect with his taser in return.

He retreated and let the policemen fight, but they were mostly unarmed and had very little impact. In a last ditch effort, Josh lunged forward and jammed his taser into Peters’ neck, the crime boss’ body crumbling o the floor immediately. The remaining guards advanced on Josh, but he managed to force them away with an advantage in numbers and the state of their boss.

Alarmingly though, the dying Spec had disappeared. It was clear he could not have left on his own – his wounds were too severe – and the presence of footprints around where he had lain indicated someone had collected him. Josh asked Max and Troy to send a picture of them with Giga and they obliged, confirming that it was not them that had rescued Spec. Concerned, Josh took the unconscious and bound Peters into the car with the policemen and travelled back to Charlotte’s home. On the way he asked if Max and Troy wanted to be picked up – they declined with a flimsy excuse, which made Josh even more suspicious.

He doesn’t know what happened to Spec, but knows it is very likely to be good, and whilst he has been hesistant trusting Max and Troy ever since they were controlled by Spec, he is now certain there is something else going on with them and assumes it is related to Spec. He is more inclined to trust the ex-policemen at present; he knows they were about to flee and leave him to die in the fight with Peters but he can understand their fear, especially since they were unarmed. He thinks their interests are aligned though and seeks to build their confidence and abilities so that they can be of more assistance in the future. He is also considering bringing Lukas into things more – he clearly wants to get involved and is free of Spec’s influence – to this end he asked Lukas to come to Charlotte’s house as well (with medical supplies).

A confused Lukas arrived a couple of hours later and bandaged Josh up, together with the policeman who had been injured. Gary Peters was still unconscious and so Josh spent the night sleeping and recuperating from his injury. Waking up in the morning, he received a text from Spec asking where Giga was – to which he replied that he didn’t know; Giga was with Troy and Max.

A short while later, he received a private message from Troy asking him what he thought of Spec and to come and meet in a park in zone B. Confused and a little suspicious, Josh drove to the park with two of the policemen, but went alone to the arranged meeting point, where he was confronted by Troy about the control Spec had over him.

Josh had never been controlled but knew that Troy and Max were; he hadn’t told them because he didn’t know how they’d react. Troy was annoyed by this but understood after Josh explained. Together, they fetched Giga from one of Troy’s hideouts and returned to Charlotte’s house, where they were told that a van had been staking the place out since just after Josh left.

Deciding on a plan to lure Spec to the house and ambush him in an attempt to kill him, they were caught by surprise when some of Gary Peters’ thugs turned up and asked to search the house for his boss. Mind in other places, Josh walked out to confront him with Peters’ sword in hand and was immediately attacked. Troy took off with Giga after telling everyone to follow him with little explanation.

Slightly confused as to his motivations and hesitant to run away, Josh and Max stayed behind with the policemen and fought a costly battle with the thugs. They won, but more thugs arrived and they had to cut their losses and escape, leaving some of the injured policemen behind.

Getting in a taxi to go back to one of Troy’s hideouts, they received a call from Spec asking what the hell was going on and why there were ambulances at the house. Josh phoned Troy asking if he had any plan with Spec, but Troy seemed distant and hung up on him, saying to do whatever he wanted. With the lack of any other guidance and more than a little shaken, Josh opted to tell Spec where they were going and deal with him another time – as far as he was concerned they had bigger things to worry about.

On the way to the hideout, Josh interrogated Peters by holding a taser to his balls, extracting information on the location of the market, that it was held every night by Pete Krisner and that the signet rings could be used to unlock the entrances.

When they arrived at the hideout, they found it was completely stripped bare and phoned Troy again asking what he was playing at. Troy was pissed they hadn’t followed his plan to run away and thought that maybe Spec had gotten to them after all. After reassuring him that they had not, Troy returned to the hideout to wait for Spec; the three of them deciding to kill Peters since he was no longer any use and kept getting in the way.

Finally, Josh decided to put together an anonymous email to the police and the press about all the information he had gathered, framing himself as a citizen concerned by the rich avoiding all of the rules of society for their own selfish ends. He is now resting with Lukas after a very stressful day, planning to move to a new safe house in the early morning in case they are still being followed. As for Spec, at this point he thinks that there will be better times to deal with him, and that they should focus on their main objectives. However, he can tell that Troy is enraged at having been controlled and that he will probably never reconcile with Spec.

Several hours after sending the email, news began to come in about the raid on the marketplace, and Josh saw several people he recognised being arrested. Concerned about Peters’ Mafia, he suggested that everyone move to another one of Troye’s safe houses in District B. On the way, they spotted Spec sitting in a bar with the woman he had seduced on the night of the party.

Josh was keen to get back into contact with Spec and give him a chance to explain what he’d been doing. Max and Troy were less convinced but went along with Josh. Spec seemed relatively amiable and the four of them had a drink together before returning to the safe house. Spec called first watch and Josh assumed Troy would make his move at this point, but nothing happened and so he just went to bed.
Max woke them up several hours later after finding that Spec had abandoned his post. Checking around the room for any possessions that Spec could have stolen, Josh stumbled upon a broken vial of the plague they had encountered in District A a few months previously. He started feeling ill shortly after coming into contact with the substance, and after being kicked out unceremoniously by Troy and Max, checked into a hospital in District B, saying that he had come into contact with the plague after a night out.

Whilst he was in hospital, Josh received an email from the District C police asking if he could give them any more information about the night market he had tipped them off about. Josh wasn’t too keen on the idea that they knew who he was, but agreed to meet an officer.

The officer in question was relatively friendly and asked Josh a few statements, which he managed to charm his way through after concocting a relatively accurate story. Once the officer was done, Josh asked him to ensure that his name was kept away from all of this since Peters had a lot of thugs who would be all too pleased to take him out. He also gave the officer a list of names of people that he had seen at the party wearing the rings for Peters’ organisation, and suggested that the police look at older photos of those people and look out for the rings – no-one seemed bothered about hiding them.

After he was released, Josh headed over to Troy and Max who were attempting to ambush Spec. Josh didn’t think the rogue thief would be foolish enough to come, but decided it would be better for the three of them together. On the way he did some research on Pete Krisner and also took a look at the Police Department in District B – it seemed mostly normal, with cops coming in and out. Predictably, Spec didn’t show up at Giga’s house and so Josh turned his attention to the police department, looking for building plans and trying to come up with a way to break in and investigate Pete Krisner’s office.

Josh messaged his police friend Charlotte whilst planning the heist, asking her for any assistance she could give. She said that the station was lightly manned at night and that she had an old code for the back door that might still work. After settling on a story where they were from District A and had been temporarily assigned to work in the station, Josh, Troye and Max cycled over to the police station.

Finding the code did not work, they pretended that Troy was high on something and blagged their way inside the station, acting as if they were police officers arresting him. Josh stole the receptionist’s keys whilst he went to get handcuffs and they successfully infiltrated the station. First, they travelled downstairs to the evidence room where they found some mostly useless information about the corruption case, but also all of the confiscated goods from the underground marketplace.

Josh found a doll’s house and a mechanical tablet that both seemed of interest, but was only able to fit the tablet in his rucksack – he would come back for the doll’s house later once they had finished in Pete Krisner’s office.

Upstairs, Josh found a hidden compartment in the side of the desk that contained a box of evidence, as well as a map and binder. He was heard by the residents of the station, and a female detective approached the room. Troy jumped out of the window with the important bits of evidence since he was supposed to be locked up downstairs, but Josh and Max managed to convince both the woman and the receptionist that they were detectives who were helping out with the corruption case – they were going to take what was left of the evidence downstairs and then leave with the doll’s house. However, the receptionist went to get his keys, which Josh had previously stolen, and so they had to run off, leaving the House behind.

Once free of the police station, they spent some time investigating what they had found – a list of IDs and blackmail information about a variety of people from across Stellar, but mostly District B. Most importantly there was information on some members of the ‘Golden Society of the Veridian Lady’, who instead of monetary values had ‘Security System’ against their blackmail items.

There was also a map of the cultist tunnels beneath the city that the party had investigated previously when trying to stop Stellar First – this map was much more detailed than the one they previously had access to.

Whilst this was happening, Josh received some messages from Spec who was trying to solve a puzzle. Curious, Josh decided to help him on the proviso that Spec would keep him in the loop, although he was reasonably sure that that would never happen. He was pretty sure he solved the puzzle, but Spec said that it didn’t work and that he had to go all of a sudden.

A while later, after lunch, Spec called the group, saying that he had information he wanted to share from the father of the woman he had under his control, around the organisation of Gary Peters. Whilst this information was a little useless to the group, it was a chance to meet up with Spec and hopefully resolve the continuing dispute between him and the party.

Josh decided to play around with his Tablet in the car, and flicked one of the switches – this seemed to create an aura of ‘pureness’ in the car, and, from his earlier research into the device – that it was an artefact discovered during the Victorian Era that people claimed had powers against the occult – figured it may help nullify the effects of Spec’s Skull.

Once they arrived in the address given by Spec, they saw him and his ‘girlfriend’, together with their father. Both were clearly controlled by the Skull, but Josh had little time to react as Troy charged directly at Spec with his sword. Josh flicked the switch on the Tablet which immediately broke the Skull’s control over the other two people, although the sudden surge of energy it stole from him was both alarming and painful.

Whilst Max and Troy engaged Spec, Josh ensure that both of the other participants were tied up so they couldn’t escape or interfere. As Spec died and the woman was tied up, the door was kicked open and a man who Josh initially thought to be 17 charged in. Realising this was impossible, Josh told the group that it was just another clone, and together they managed to incapacitate the accomplished fighter, although not after Max was knocked out.

Retrieving the Skull from where it had been thrown in the oven by an overzealous Max and placing it in his rucksack, Josh blockaded the door and retrieved an arcane Tome that Troy had taken off of Spec’s corpse, and didn’t particularly want to hold. That went into the rucksack too, and Josh now intends to study all three items, once he has finished interrogating the pair in the room with him.

That night, and much of the following evening, Josh researched the tablet and the book that he acquired. He didn’t find much new about the tablet, but found a veritable trove of information on the book. The book, which was known as ‘The Ruinous Compendium of Truth’, or ‘The Artefact of the Diviner’, belonged to one of the four Gods of the pantheon of Ag’Xeilghr, the Sagacious King of Silence – Ag’Ev Oz’Ueo-Abwi or The Fourfold Diviner of Truths.

Legend described how it had been used to destroy the Indus Valley civilisation and that an additional prophecy had been attached:

Among red dunes
A city built in defiance of nature
That which is four will again be whole
And the Green Sun will set forever more

The pantheon of four had originally worshipped Ag’Xeilghr, but had since split up into four deities: Ag’Ev Oz’Ueo-Abwi, the Fourfold Diviner of Truths, Ag’Iasalig Nycza: The Viridian Conceiver of Worlds and the Howling Dark, Ag’Yzzu-Vi, The Arms of Radiant Hunger and a fourth deity still unknown to Josh.

On Friday evening after work, Josh bought the most secure safe he could find to store these artefacts when he was not studying/using them, and then spent the rest of Saturday doing research, until Saturday evening the group convened to investigate the tunnels beneath Stellar Landing.

Descending into the tunnels, the group came across a section of tunnel whose floor was tiled with skulls. Continuing on slowly, they came upon four stone caskets, which promptly spewed forth skeletons. Dashing past before they could react, Josh suddenly found himself very short of air, and also very cold.

After Max realised they were outside the breathable air provided by the dome, they ran back past the skeletons, taking a few hits in the process. The skeletons seemed unwilling to move out of the area they had been summoned into, and were easily left behind.

Taking a different route, Josh circled round behind the skeletal area and continued into the library section of the tunnel network. A great many corpses littered the corridors; there had clearly been a fight here, although it seemed that all of the bodies bore the mark of the Viridian Lady. Here he explored several offices, finding the office of the cult’s Inquisitor. A note left behind indicated that the Inquisitor was investigating two members, Louisa Peel and Callum Brovska for treachery; he believed they had joined another cult.

The large, ornate doors that had been locked the last time Josh was here were this time open, and led into a natural cavern containing a large altar surrounded by runes that emanated an immense amount of magical power.

Looking for the office of one of the mentioned traitors, Josh stumbled upon an ongoing fight in what would turn out to be the office of Callum Brovska. As he looked around the corner, he saw a man fall to the floor with his face melting off. The other person in the room then began to rustle through some papers, and the three of them took that moment to charge in.

The person turned out to be Sara Lessick, the leader of Stellar First. A bitter fight ensued, with Lessick appearing far more resilient than she looked. Josh turned on the occult-blocking part of his tablet, which didn’t appear to stop her from casting spells completely, but when she gave up and resorted to a dagger it seemed obvious that she was struggling with it. Eventually she fell the floor, unable to fight any more. However, as Josh looked for rope to tie her up, she managed to drain the corpse near her and teleported away.

She had not finished going through the papers, though, and Josh was able to extract information about how Louisa Peel, Callum Brovska and Bob Edgeworth and belonged to a sub-cult, the Blessed Creed of the Unified King. They had made their move and gutted most of the hideout of the Viridian Lady, presumably with their own members taking up a new location. Finally, the group travelled to the cells where they found the remains of Pete Krisner, who had had his throat slit.

He also investigated the three names he had that were associated with the Blessed Creed, finding out a little about each one. Louisa Peel was an artist who went by the name of ‘L’, Callum Brovska a registered albeit unimportant member of Stellar First and Bob Edgeworth was employed by the Stellar Company, although it seemed his profile was seriously lacking information.

Josh wants to investigate the rumours of magical chanting in New Kingsford, especially after his recent discovery, but would also like to follow the trail he had been given around the Blessed Creed – it was clearly in the ascendency after destroying the cult of the Viridian Lady.

On Sunday morning, the three remaining party members travelled to New Kingsford and scoped out the Norwich Family Estate, placing a phone in a tree outside to record people arriving. The phone was discovered, but not after recording several cars going in to the estate.

Waiting until night-time and for everyone to have arrived, Josh clambered over the wall of the property and broke in through one of the side doors. The group split up and explored the upper floors of the house but didn’t find anything of use.

Troy’s expertise of robbing big houses led him to check for trap doors under rugs, finding one that led downstairs into the basement. This was mostly storage, but Josh found an office that had some information in it on Egyptian mythology, as well as notes about a ‘Nexus’ that required a certain artefact to function.

The group then went up to the room where everyone was chanting, peering through the keyhole to see what was going on – 6 people appeared to be standing around a creature obscured by some miasma, repeating the name “Luthlogilc’tel”.

Waiting until everyone had left, Josh returned to the room, but the large stone door had been locked. Unable to break in, Josh checked the rest of the house to see if any bedrooms had been populated that were previously empty. Finding a suitable candidate, the group ran in to gag the suddenly awoken individual. Unfortunately, he burst into flame and shouted for help, forcing Josh to run out of the mansion with haste.

The next morning, Josh explained how the Ruinous Compendium could be used to Troy and Max, and asked it for the name of the artefact that the cult was looking for – it provided the answer of the “Lodestone of Thoth”. Some research revealed that it was found in an Egyptian tomb and is used to unlock latent power. It has mostly been held in museums, but is currently owned by the Rorchester family, who have an estate in New Kingsford.

Troy asked the Compendium what the creature they saw was, and it informed him that it had been a “Spoken One” named Luthlogilc’tel, or the Wailing Mother of the Swamp. It was mostly unknown, and had been thought dead.

During the day, Josh wants to try and hack the car rental company to trace the destinations of the other members of the cult. In the evening, he wants to return to New Kingsford and investigate the Rorchester estate to try and obtain the Lodestone.

Making use of his computer skills, Josh managed to hack into the central taxi system and install himself an administrator account that he could use to access the journey history of the various cultists. By doing so, he identified Lisa Fielding, Jackie Thomas and Kyle Fairsay. Further investigation into the three of them also revealed Geoffrey Rainling, naming 5 of the 6 members that had been seen in Grant Norwich’s basement.

Josh also carried out some research on the Rorchester family, finding out that they had been the Grandmasters of a Knightly Order that had spent centuries gathering and protecting artefacts from cults. Deciding that it was more beneficial to negotiate with the family than try and break in and steal the artefact, Josh phoned the Rorchester estate and spoke to the butler, Jeeves, asking for an appointment with his master. Harold Rorchester agreed, and Josh came to the estate in the evening on Monday.

Harold was fairly trusting, and went along easily with Josh’s story about how they had found cultists looking to summon forth Luthlogilc’tel and that they were looking for the Lodestone of Thoth to do so. Harold took the group into his private library and looked through several books, revealing that the Spoken Ones gain power when their name is uttered, and that it was weird that the cultists were looking for the Lodestone since Spoken Ones were usually uninterested in artefacts, It also became clear that Luthlogilc’tel was in fact a dead God, and that he would be resurrected if his name was spoken enough.

With this learned, Josh returned to the Norwich estate to see if the cultists would meet again – instead, a car came and took Grant Norwich away – using his hacked taxi account, Josh traced him to Jackie’s house, and also saw that the rest of the cult was converging. Hoping to catch one of the members alone, the group waited inside the garden of Jackie’s house. They were taken somewhat by surprise when Kyle and Geoffrey jumped over the wall nearby, but managed to subdue them without much violence.

Kyle was happy to talk, although now that they were this close it became clear that the ‘cultists’ were just a bunch of kids. Josh got as much information as he could from them, including that Grant was the clear leader, and that they clearly had no idea they could resurrect a dead God by accident. However, they were both happy going along with Grant’s idea to kill Jackie because she had had second thoughts, and when it became clear that they didn’t have keys to the chamber in Grant’s house, Max and Troy killed them. Josh was not wanting to do this and was a little perturbed, but not enough to speak out.

Hearing voices emanating from beneath the house, Josh found an underground entrance that was left open – climbing down the ladder, they heard two male and a female voice looking for someone – most probably Grant, Lisa and the yet-unknown cultist. Waiting until they split up, the group ran into the dark room with flashlights on in an attempt to blind the two remaining cultists – Lisa and Grant.

The fight did not start well as Josh took a large fireball to the torso, their attacks having a limited effect on the cultists. Things began to turn around as the cultists made several misses until Grant, sensing danger, stabbed his girlfriend Lisa in the throat and teleported away. Seeing this, the third cultist turned and ran, hiding in a room. He was easily found though, and questioning revealed he was still intent on serving Grant, and was unconcerned about killing Jackie. Max once again killed him, and Josh was a little less concerned this time.

They thjen found Jackie cowering in a corner. Josh managed to calm her down, but she broke out into tears when he told her (somewhat falsely) that Grant had murdered the rest of her friends in order to escape. Leaving her to tell the false story he had left her with, Josh left the estate and headed back to Grant’s house where he imagined he would teleport, intending on ending this cult for good.

With that done, he wants to meet with Samuel Worthing, an occultist friend of Harold Rorchester during the next day. He is currently unsure if he wants to investigate the Blessed Creed of the Unified King, the missing quarry shipments or the missing refugees next.

Before heading home, the three of them went back to Grant’s house to see if they could finish him off. After some searching and finding 3 IEDs, they located him within the locked chamber with the Spoken One, but despite Josh’s best attempts, Grant was too injured to open the door, and they could not finish him off.

In an attempt to see if he was dead, Max asked the Ruinous Compendium how many bodies were within 50 foot, a poorly worded question that killed him. Troye was furious and blamed Josh, attempting to keep him away from Max’s body whilst he healed him. This was unsuccessfuly, and Troye left with Max’s body, leaving Josh to go home.

The next day, Josh met with Samuel Worthing to talk about occult things, not learning anything significant but consolodating his knowledge of the pantheon and the objectives of the cults – that some wanted to revive the Sagacious King of Silence and that some preferred their own aspect to remain ascendant.

That evening, Troye and Josh met with a man called Jack Pike in the refugee camp in zone B. Jack had seen a family kidnapped in the tunnel between Space Romney and Stellar City, and was looking to investigate further.

Travelling down the tunnels, they found the tent of the family that had been kidnapped, who were identified as the ‘Familysons’. Following the trail into a side tunnel that led back to Space Romney, they found a small eye symbol that was used to identify the exit of the secret tunnel.

They then approached Madam Reichstag, the impromptu leader of Space Romney, and methodical woman with her hands in every pie, who also bore a signet ring with the same sigil on, which Josh identified as the symbol of the Grey Visions, an ancient druidic sect that aspired toward immortality.

Following a lead from one of Jack’s contacts that two people from the city, Suzy Lutts and Garth Fielding, had gone missing, they found that at least Suzy was in the same cult, and that both had been kidnapped from their homes. Hacking into Garth’s laptop, Josh found a secluded house where it seemed to kidnapped people from the tunnel were being taken.

Upon arriving at the location, it seemed to have been ransacked already, and Josh sensed a trap inside as they were about to enter. Troye and JAck were not inclined to hold back and broke into a side window, attracting the ire of the savage zombie-like beings inside. Overpowered, they fled and planned to burn down the house with the aid ox explosives and Jack’s friends.

Josh believes that another cult has set its eyes on the Grey Visions and is attempting to take them out – the Grey Visions wish to keep the Sagacious King separated, whereas the Blessed Creed wanted to unite them. He thinks that most leads are now pointing in the direction of the Blessed Creed, but wants to be sure that his theory is correct and that they are eradicating other cults.

Asking the Ruinous Compendium for the identity and affiliation of the people who kidnapped Garth and Suzy, Josh was given NFB-182, NFB-136, two goons of the ilk of 17 who were hired by the Unified Creed. A list of 10 names was given for the people who assaulted the location on Lunar Street, 8 of which were associated with the Unified Creed, and two of which wered dead. The two dead ones, Cara Watts and David Abrovska, were the ghouls that attacked the three of them.

Knowing this, Josh is less concerned about the actions of the Grey Visions, although he will still puirsue his current effort. He is now much more focussed on identifying the motives of the Creed of the Unified King.

After gathering four friends of Jack’s the group returned to the kidnapper’s house, attacking and subduing the ghouls that were impeding their progress. There were 5 bodies within the house, clearly the Grey Visions cultists that had been enacting the kidnappings. A trap door at the back of the property led to a large underground cavern with a big, empty prison and a defiled magical circle. There was also some gold in a safe – evidence in the house implied the kidnapped people had been transmuted into gold.

Furious, Jack led Josh and Troye back to Madam Reichstag’s town hall, Jack launching a furious assault on her after an expletive-filled tirade. Reichstag, though, seemed immune to their attacks, shrugging off a plastic explosion to the face and many other strikes. Retreating outside, Troye and Josh enraged a crowd that had gathered, leading them into piling into the beleagured cultist.

Their attacks still had no impact though, and Josh realised from his research on the occult that she was some type of vampire – immune to all attacks except for a weakness that is individual to each creature. Prompted by Troye, he asked the Ruinous Compendium for a way to kill her, and was told that he needed to sever her connection to her God. The book then provided a ritual that could be performed to achieve this.

Leaving the crowd to their fate, Josh and Troye dragged Jack into the tunnels back to Stellar City, with Josh intending to study the ritual as they travelled, although he didn’t personally care about performing it – he was more interested in leaving the Grey Visions, with their operation neturalised, and focussing on the Blessed Creed. He figures that his friends would be less inclined to leave Madame Reichstag alive, though.

On the way back to Stellar City, the Ruinous Compendium was stolen from Josh by an unknown child. He tried to chase him back along the tunnel but could not catch up, and they were unable to follow him any further.

Deciding to follow the lead of Louisa Peel’s art gallery, they formulated a plan to look around the interior to see if they could get into the staff areas and then the cult’s base. This was rather quickly shot down when Josh formulated a plan to set off the fire alarms to empty the building and in the process was trapped in a side room. A man who knew his name then, after surprise at his quick discovery of the base, asked him where the Skull was. Josh refused to answer and set off the fire alarm – this opened the staff door in the room and he was able to escape. The secret part of the base was already burning though, and they had to leave.

Knowing the Blessed Creed wanted to find the Skull and had the Ruinous Compendium that they could ask where it was and how to get it, he phoned up Harald Rorchester and asked for good ways to hide the Skull from this – he suggested an anti-scrying ritual, and the group moved the safe containing the Skull to his estate.

That night whilst the protection was still being constructed, three thugs broke in in an attempt to steal the Skull. After a very poor showing fighting them off, Jack and Josh were knocked unconscious and Troye ran away. Confused and injured, Josh and Jack awoke in a prison cell with no idea where they were, or if the Skull was safe.

Whilst they were left alone, the two of them managed to break their arm shackles, but before they could do the same to the bindings on their legs, Josh was taken into an office by a thug.where a man began to interrogate and torture him. Josh managed to withstand his efforts and asked his name; the man’s face gave himself away as Callum Brovska.

Pretending to me giving in, Josh told Callum that Troye had locked the safe and that he didn’t know the codes. At this, Callum sent Josh back to the room and brought Jack in, who immediately revealed that this wasn’t the case. Tortured yet again, Josh said that he had originally locked the safe but Troy did not trust him with being able to access the skull alone and so changed the lock. After withstanding more torture, Callum believed him and, looking dejected, returned Josh to the room.

Shortly later, two loud explosions rang through the cell, followed by the surprising sound of gunfire. The door to their cell swung open to reveal Troy, together with a platoon of goons.armed with SMGs. Quickly killing everything they fled the scene when it was clear there was nothing else to find here. Troy revealed that the cult had never stolen the book and that the kid had just tried to sell it – Troye had bought it. He refused to return it to Josh, though.

Returning to a safehouse, they spent a while asking the Ruinous Compendium about the Blessed Creed, establishing that Callum was still alive, and that the earthquakes were pre-tremors to a Rift opening above Enoston. The book said that the preparations for the Rift opening were already complete and the only way to stop it was wholesale destruction of Enoston.

Deciding that their best bet was to travel to Enoston and investigate on the ground, Josh called a taxi and drove it down the tunnel toward the other dome. Nearing their destination, they came upon a collection of diggers and other equipment that appeared to have been involved in a cave-in. One of the drivers said that, upon hearing they’d been sent by the Stellar CEO to destroy Enoston, some of his colleagues had turned on them and started slaughtering them before destroying the tunnel.

Navigating around the blockage via side tunnels, Josh travelled toward a part of the dome where construction was occurring and climbed up a crane to get a survey of the area. From up here, it looked like the city had been designed in an entirely nonsensical way, and that the buildings still under construction could form a symbol of sorts with a small, more completed building in the centre.

This building had only one open entrace that was being guarded by a cultist. Josh attempted to persuade him to let him in, but was met with a stony resistance – it seemed the guy knew he was an intruder and was toying with him. Breaking away, the group instead climbed onto the roof via neighbouring buildings, dropping down to a fire escape in order to break in.

Their entrance was observed by a single cultist who rapidly met his end at the head of Jack’s hammer – only after the fact did it become apparent that this was Grant Norwich, the young occultist who had led a group of teenagers attempting to summon Luthlogilc’tel. It seems as if he was being used by the Blessed Creed as a useful pawn – he had a decent knowledge of spellcraft.

With him out of the way, they snuck downstairs to find a locked door in the basement. Using a crowbar to open it, they were faced with a single cultist across from them, with a large rune drawn in blood on the floor and a significant pile of corpses to the side of the room. After a brief engagement, he appeared cowed by Troye’s gun. When Josh tried to interrogate him, though, he used magic to teleport away, despite getting shot by Troy – who for some reason decided to only shoot one bullet rather than using the semi-automatic mode of his weapon.

It became quickly apparent that he had teleported upstairs and was calling for help. Having to act quickly, Troy set the bomb he was carrying to destroy the rune, leaving their only option as detonation and escape. After a brief conflict with a thug, the group managed to get away via the fire escape. A quick interview with the Ruinous Compendium revealed that their actions had delayed the ritual and forced them to rebuild the navigation for their summoning, but it was apparent that more work would be required.

Saturday Afternoon

Joshua Kallen

Against The Silence The_Mad_Squirrel Arkaash