The Brass Fraternity (Part 4)

Part 3


To recap, this is where the adventure had been left after last post’s efforts to flesh out details about the Brass Fraternity and Aleksandra Volokh:


A: The PCs are invited to a convention with local media coverage by agents of Aleksandra. As they arrive, agents of the Brass Fraternity approach Georgia to make threats about repaying her loan.

  • B-> Students at the convention recognize the agents as having been around the game room to look for students struggling to get financial aid.

  • C-> One of the agents has a book from the library about the origins and symbolic meanings of various occult incantations.

  • D-> Georgia’s address can be found on the registration and permit records for her food truck.

B: A game room at the university.

  • C->

  • D->

  • E-> A USB drive in the lost-and-found has plan drawings for the art gallery, but the title blocks have been redacted.

C: A library at the university.

  • B->

  • D->

  • E-> The agent with the book in node A also has overdue books on the use of artistry to transcend the limitations of reality and on the study of stories about tulpas and other thought-manifestations.

D: Georgia’s hovel on the outskirts of town.

  • B->

  • C->

  • E-> Aleksandra can clarify the meanings of the clues to node E from nodes B and C.

E: An art gallery where the Brass Fraternity is working the Canonical Beckoning of Esoteric Masters to summon Vhonyc’Huiunglbh-Agbith. The hidden rooms with the Sinister Pits painting are guarded by electronic locks and CCTV cameras.


Potential extra scenes/encounters:

  • Ambush: The most competent available minion of the Enemy is sent to deal with the PCs in a drive-by attack or sniping attempt. They won’t bother to fire a control shot into downed PCs, so even the mortally wounded might survive, and they won’t hang around long enough to invite concerted response.

  • Conflict: The thugs of the Enemy seek out the heroes to intimidate or thrash them into breaking off their investigations. The intended violence is unlikely to be lethal unless the Enemy is confident they can get away with it without stirring up yet more trouble.

  • Escape: A Friend or ally is captured and kept at a well-guarded Place, from which the PCs must successfully extract them.

  • Respite: Some hostile action against the Enemy, either by a Friend or a random foe, distracts them from the PCs for a brief time.

All that’s really left is working out the rest of the clues and giving the whole thing a final pass to check for any obvious trouble spots or areas in need of more information.


The game room is a place for social interaction and figuring out obfuscated tidbits, so I can take a few rolls on the Silent Legions challenge tables for Socialites (both tables) and Investigators (finding important objects) for some initial ideas:

  • Challenge – Finding an Important Object: It’s been carried off by a pet, wild beast, or vermin.

  • Challenge – People Who Want Something: They want sex, because a given PC is irresistible to them.

  • Challenge – People Who Fear Something: They fear violence against a loved one if they help.

I scoffed at the object idea at first, but that was because of the first two animals in the list. When it comes to vermin, well, college students aren’t exactly known as paragons of hygiene, so I could easily imagine there being some mice (or should I say rats?) in the walls who’ve stashed away some food with packaging/wrapping scraps from Georgia’s food truck. The Honey Trap idea isn’t helpful, because that’s not exactly unexpected for a college setting, but the fear of violent reprisal is something I can work with. Since I need a clue pointing to the library, I’m thinking this can be someone who arranges special orders for the Fraternity. Perhaps their loved one is a journalism major or graduate student working at the local newspaper and agents of the Fraternity have made it clear that the loved one will be put through a printing press if their covert orders aren’t fulfilled in a timely manner.


B: A game room at the university.

  • C-> Mice have made a nest in the empty space under a cabinet with packaging/wrapping scraps from Georgia’s food truck.

  • D-> One of the students works at the library, making special orders for the Fraternity and covering their overdue book notices. They aren’t a member of the Fraternity, but they’re being coerced by threats against their significant other, who works at the local newspaper.

  • E-> A USB drive in the lost-and-found has plan drawings for the art gallery, but the title blocks have been redacted.

Up next is the library. On the surface, this should lend itself to Scholar challenges (both tables), but clues linking to the game room and to Georgia’s place probably wouldn’t be buried in books, so I’ll also roll on the challenges for Investigators (finding important objects) and Socialites (both tables):

  • Challenge – Finding an Important Object: It’s been thrown into the surrounding brush or area.

  • Challenge – Information to Obtain: Music encoded with necessary information.

  • Challenge – Hidden Fact or Needed Skill: Know that a geographical claim is actually false.

  • Challenge – People Who Want Something: They want a thing, and someone else stole it from them.

  • Challenge – People Who Fear Something: They fear for the well-being of their kin and group.

Oh, that encoded music idea looks very juicy to me. The obvious first thought is that the music contains something that makes listeners more susceptible to indoctrination into the Fraternity, but I think I’d like it more as something related to Aleksandra. I need some hints that all isn’t right with Georgia Turner, after all, so some kind of subliminal message sending people her way (which Georgia herself would legitimately know nothing about, in case the PCs attempt to interrogate her without compelling Aleksandra to manifest) is very appealing. Linking back to the game room is more mundane; a couple of librarians can have an argument about tracking down some stolen books. Getting the information (many students frequent the game room) isn’t the difficult part here; following through on it is.


C: A library at the university.

  • B-> A couple of librarians have an argument over what to do about some stolen books. They suspect one of the student volunteers is the culprit, so they think the game room would be a reasonable place to stake out.

  • D-> Part of the library’s rotation of ambient music includes subliminal messages (in the form of barely-audible reversed statements) suggesting people visit Georgia’s food truck.

  • E-> The agent with the book in node A also has overdue books on the use of artistry to transcend the limitations of reality and on the study of stories about tulpas and other thought-manifestations.

That’s plenty of socialization- and searching-based challenges, so I wouldn’t mind getting some ideas for violence at Georgia’s hovel. Per the original hook from Part 2, the Brass Fraternity is acting aggressively against Georgia (possibly against Aleksandra as well, though I rather like the idea of them not knowing she’s possessing Georgia specifically). They made threats against her at node A, so it wouldn’t be out of place for them to take direct actions against her at node D. Either of the Ambush or Conflict ideas from earlier can work here, but I want to take another roll on each (plus a couple on the Tough’s hostile opposition table) to see if anything appealing turns up:

  • Ambush: The Enemy’s minions attack at night, seeking to murder the PCs in their beds. Locked doors and other precautionary measures will give the PCs a little time to react.

  • Conflict: The Enemy tries to destroy something important to a Friend, ally, or hero. Arson, vandalism, or explosive sabotage might be used to destroy a home, wreck a car, or otherwise hinder the heroes.

  • Challenge – Hostile Opposition: Wild beast that’s gotten into the place.

  • Challenge – Hostile Opposition: Zealous bodyguards who shoot at small provocations.

Burning or otherwise damaging the food truck (possible headline: “freak accident with food truck underscores importance of electrical inspections”) seems like a reasonable option, and it’d explain why Georgia is at her hovel instead of working after the events at node A. Should the PCs attract too much attention and/or take too long in protecting her from the Fraternity’s aggression, they can also step up to blowing up her home (possible headline: “struggling chef commits suicide in gas explosion”). Georgia herself may not actually die in the latter case, depending on how much she's relying on the PCs for protection, but she’ll certainly be harder to get in touch with.


As for clues pointing to nodes B and C, that’s where the possession angle can come into play. Most of the time, Georgia is just herself, but if she hears something that could work to Aleksandra’s benefit, the latter takes over to encourage it. I don’t think any of those need to have challenges associated with them directly; Georgia should come off as someone who’s generally nice and wants to help with the PCs’ investigation. The trick is making her seem slightly different when Aleksandra takes over, possibly by altering her speech patterns, gaining some new tick, or behaving in an off-putting way.


D: Georgia’s hovel on the outskirts of town, where she’s retreated since the Fraternity burned her food truck. If the PCs take too long or arouse too much suspicion, the Fraternity will bomb the hovel, either forcing Georgia into hiding or killing her.

  • B-> Georgia has unofficially catered parties in the game room and knows it’s a place many students visit. Aleksandra takes over to suggest agents of the Fraternity could be intercepted there, too.

  • C-> Aleksandra knows about the “special order” arrangements (see node B’s clue to node C).

  • E-> Aleksandra can clarify the meanings of the clues to node E from nodes B and C.

That does it for a first pass at filling in all of the clues, but there are a number of question marks left to address. How can the PCs learn more about the Sinister Pits painting? How far along is the Fraternity with the Canonical Beckoning of Esoteric Masters ritual, and what is holding them up from completing it? How can the PCs and/or Aleksandra learn those details about the ritual?


The lattermost can be resolved with a tweak to node D’s clue to node E:

  • E-> Aleksandra can clarify the meanings of the clues to node E from nodes B and C. However, although she knows the real significance of the art gallery (as the ritual site), she won’t reveal it to the PCs without first learning the details for the Canonical Beckoning of Esoteric Masters ritual (from the overdue books).

Looking back at the spell details from part 3, the main obstacle to its completion would be needing an exotic animal (a leopard, in this case). At least in North America, most small towns don’t have leopards on hand for psychotic cults to sacrifice, and assuming there isn’t one available as a school mascot or the like, acquiring one from a zoo would take time, even if it’s framed as a formal request for scientific purposes that certainly wouldn’t cause any harm to the big cat.


Since Aleksandra is trying to work with the PCs to learn the ritual’s details, she probably doesn’t know that the leopard is required, and so she wouldn’t know where the Fraternity is on the time scale. Based on the spell description that I wrote up in part 3, it’s ambiguous whether the animal has to be there for the entire ritual. I rather like the idea that it doesn’t, if only because that would give more weight to the time pressure that players tend to feel when they’re in the middle of an adventure if they find out they have less than the 9 days that the ritual requires in total. Thus, the PCs could find out the request for an animal transfer from a nearby major zoo has been put in, with the leopard expected to arrival 1d4+5 days after the initial events at node A; the ritual will be completed on the next day.


That just leaves the Sinister Pits painting. I haven’t gotten to use any of the random artifact tables yet, so doing a set of rolls on the artifact creation page sounds like a fine idea:

  • What do legends say of it: Nothing. It is completely absent from occult literature.

  • When was it created: Roughly a thousand years ago.

  • Who created it: A deliriously inspired artisan made it in a mad frenzy.

  • How was it lost by its maker: A thief plundered it from its maker’s lair.

  • Why was it created: To destroy or afflict the creator’s enemies.

  • What great deed was it part of: It was the key to open some ancient hoard of secrets.

This book’s random generation table are fantastic. The painting is known in some esoteric artistic and/or anthropological circles for seeming to use remarkably modern materials and stylistic techniques centuries before their times, but all traces of its supernatural aspects are conspicuously absent from any records. It’s assumed that its creator, a Roman Carthaginian priest named Utica, made it in a bout of brilliant madness before losing his mind, but he actually stole it from a Kelipah after going insane from his experiences in that otherworld. It serves a link to Vhonyc’Huiunglbh-Agbith (called Vha by its worshippers when in public), who can be used as both an engine of destruction and a source of greater knowledge. Aleksandra knows that the Fraternity has the painting in its possession and that it is linked to Vha, but she doesn’t know the details of where it is nor how to release Vha.


With all of that established, here’s a look at the complete outline so far:


A: The PCs are invited by agents of Aleksandra to a convention with local media coverage. As they arrive, agents of the Brass Fraternity approach Georgia to make threats about repaying her loan.

  • B-> Students at the convention recognize the agents as having been around the game room to look for students struggling to get financial aid.

  • C-> One of the agents has a book from the library about the origins and symbolic meanings of various occult incantations.

  • D-> Georgia’s address can be found on the registration and permit records for her food truck.

B: A game room at the university.

  • C-> Mice have made a nest in the empty space under a cabinet with packaging/wrapping scraps from Georgia’s food truck.

  • D-> One of the students works at the library, making special orders for the Fraternity and covering their overdue book notices. They aren’t a member of the Fraternity, but they’re being coerced by threats against their significant other, who works at the local newspaper.

  • E-> A USB drive in the lost-and-found has plan drawings for the art gallery, but the title blocks have been redacted.

C: A library at the university.

  • B-> A couple of librarians have an argument over what to do about some stolen books. They suspect one of the student volunteers is the culprit, so they think the game room would be a reasonable place to stake out.

  • D-> Part of the library’s rotation of ambient music includes subliminal messages (in the form of barely-audible reversed statements) suggesting people visit Georgia’s food truck.

  • E-> The agent with the book in node A also has overdue books on the use of artistry to transcend the limitations of reality and on the study of stories about tulpas and other thought-manifestations.

D: Georgia’s hovel on the outskirts of town, where she’s retreated since the Fraternity burned her food truck. If the PCs take too long or arouse too much suspicion, the Fraternity will bomb the hovel, either forcing Georgia into hiding or killing her.

  • B-> Georgia has unofficially catered parties in the game room and knows it’s a place many students visit. Aleksandra takes over to suggest agents of the Fraternity could be intercepted there, too.

  • C-> Aleksandra knows about the “special order” arrangements (see node B’s clue to node C).

  • E-> Aleksandra can clarify the meanings of the clues to node E from nodes B and C. However, although she knows the real significance of the art gallery (as the ritual site), she won’t reveal it to the PCs without first learning the details for the Canonical Beckoning of Esoteric Masters ritual (from the overdue books).

E: An art gallery where the Brass Fraternity is working the Canonical Beckoning of Esoteric Masters to summon Vhonyc’Huiunglbh-Agbith. The hidden rooms with the Sinister Pits painting are guarded by electronic locks and CCTV cameras.


I think that all puts me in a decent position to finish putting this adventure together. Next time, I’ll finish writing it up as a stand-alone document.


Part 5

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