Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Horror of St. Judes

Another Friday passed and our starting up of Rippers had to be cancelled. One of my players had gotten a wisdom toth taken out in the morning and was not well enough to play. So instead I thought I would post an adventure that I ran with my group when we first tried out Rippers around three years. It was my first attempt to get away from the Indiana Jones like feel that Rippers can also be and insert more horror.

I was as you can tell heavily influenced by the real Whitechapel Murders of 1888, but tried to give the adventure its own feel. All the locations are real but I have taken a few liberties with the people and some parts of the location. 

I had created numerous handouts and encounter maps, incl. maps of all the crime scenes, that I might be able to dig up if anyone has any interest in this. 

Story background 
Father Beresford has been tavellling in Eastern Europe for a couple of years. During his time there he encounter several forces of the Cabal and ended up being recruited by the Night Guard. 

Upon his return to London, Beresford has called at St. Judes chuch in Whitechapel, where Father Longsdown has been more than happy to be receive help as he is an old man. 

When the Whitechapel Murders took place 4 years ago the East End of London was in rebillion and the police were close to losing control. Beresford wants to stip up things again so that the Night Guard can move in and gain influence in the heart of the biggest Empire in the world. 

For this purpose Beresford has animated a deceased puritan priest Willian Mansfield as a witchfinder zombie. Beresford holds control over Mansfield and has ordered him to kill locals in Whitechapel. So far two people have died. 

In media res 
Father Longsdown has contacted some of his fellow clergymen as he fears for his local community. Since their has been talk of a “devil of the night” and the return of the “Whitechapel fiend” a supporter of the lodge has pointed him to the London Lodge and the characters. 

Day 1 
- Briefing from Father Longsdown 
- (Visit to Hall of Records) 
- (Visit to Police) 

Day 2 
- Arriving at St. Judes 
- Investigating St. Judes 
- Finding the crypt 

Day 3 
- Entering the crypt and fighting devil dogs 
- Conversation with Longsdown about the crypt 
- Third murder happens 
- Investigating crime scene 
- (Finding hidden book in Father Beresford’s flat) 
- Following the killer through sewers 
- Fight with devil dogs at old cemetary 
- Finding cave and fight with Beresford and Witchfinder 

1 - Father Longsdown 

The Rippers are summoned to the lodge at The Marlborough Club on Pall Mall in London. Johan Van Helsing greets them in foyer and tells them that a Father Longsdown of St. Judes church is waiting for them in the library. The vicar wants to talk to them about the recent murders in Whitechapel, and any murder in Whitechapel is the business of the Rippers as you never know if Dr. Jack has somehow returned to his former hunting ground. Van Helsing apologises but has other business to attend to and leaves the characters to deal with the priest. 

As expected the characters find an elderly man waiting for them in the library. Father Longsdown is a medium build man at around 60 with grey/white hair and big whiskers. When the characters enter he stands up to greet them. 

“Thank you for taking the time to see me. For this I’m already very grateful. I’ve been at loss to what I should do, but my colleague Father Harrington pointed me in your direction and said that you had experience in handling mysteries.” 

After the characters introduce themselves, Father Longsdown continues: 

“I’m the vicar of St. Judes Church in Whitechapel, a smaller church which has been in existance since 1848. I have been vicar since 1879. Besides churchly affairs I see it as my responsibility to make sure that as many as possible in the local community feel well and that the area develops in a positiv Christian way. St. Judes lies on Commercial Street and many people stop by, seeking advice and consell in all matter religious, spirituel and day-to-day affairs. When something bad happens in the community it affects us all, least of all me as I want to protect the people around St. Judes, which is also the reason why I have come to you. 
As you no doubt have read in the newspapers two murders have happend in Whitechapel within the last couple of weeks. The fear that this develops into another Jack the Ripper like case or that Jack is back himself has started to spread like wildfire in the streets. People are say that the devil himself is behind this! Two widely different persons John Boroughts (Pelham St.) and Elizabeth Dawson (Middelsex St.) are the victims; ordinary citizens not believed to have any enemies and without relations to each other, and yet they have been ripped to pieces in the streets around St. Judes!” 

At this point Father Longsdown will show the newspaper clippings to the characters. 

“A particular rumour that the murderer is some sort of supernatural being has made me fear the future. Both victims had recently been to the church and talked to me, a fact that I have so far kept to myself. Also what the newspaper articles don’t tell, but what the police have told me is that the victims were found with a medalion of St. Judes! 
I beg you please come to Whitechapel and see whether you can help find this killer. It is not because the local police is not on the case, but they have many cases which require their attention. Also the more people actively trying to solve this the better.” 

Father Longsdown waits until the characters accept his plea for help. He suggests that they come and visit him in St. Judes the next day, where they will also be able to meet the church’s other priest Father Beresford. 

If questioned about Father Beresford, Father Longsdown will say that around 6 months ago he came to the church and asked if he could help. He used to live in Whitechapel, but has been doing missionary work in Eastern Europe recently but wanted to give something back to his local community, which has quite a lot of residents from Eastern Europe. Longsdown, almost 64 years old, has welcomed the help. 

Father Longsdown will be able to provide the following further information: 

- Police enquiry is lead by local police inspector John T. Spratling. 

- Both John Boroughs and Elisabeth Dawson belong to the parish of St. Judes. They were not regular church goers but came to the church once in a while. 

2 - St. Judes church 

Arrival and intial enquiries 
When the characters arrive in Whitechapel they will have no problems finding St. Judes church, which lies on Commercial Street near the corner to Whitechapel High Street. 

Both Father Longsdown and Father Beresford will greet the characters when they arrive. Father Beresford looks to be around mid-forties, dark haired with a large moustace - continental style. 
Longsdown thanks them once again for taking the time to help out. Longsdown lives in the vicaridge just behind the church. Beresford lives in a small flat not far from the church. 

At some point the characters may want to enquire both Fathers about St. Judes or Father Beresford about what he knows about the murders. 

- St. Judes was built in 1848 on top of the ruins of what was rumoured to be a haunted mansion. There have not been any supernatural events and Father Longsdown puts that down to “the presence of God has put the demons to rest”. 

- Father Longsdown has the architectual drawing of of St. Judes in his church records in his office. (It does not show the secret entrence, that can only be found by going through the church records and reading the Memoirs of St. Judes by James Harding, first vicar of St. Judes) 

- Father Beresford knows nothing except from what the church goers tell him and what he reads in the newspaper. He shares the concerns of Father Longsdown in terms of the bad effect the murders are having on Whitechapel 

Searching St. Judes 
If the characters commence a search of St. Judes there will be several clues which can be uncovered with successful Notice rolls or through good roleplaying: 

In front of the secret door small stains of candlewax can be found, this in an area of the church where the sunlight shines in. It requires a Notice(-2) roll to find the release button that reveals the secret door. 

A small piece of old smelling decayed garment seems to have been torn of one of the weapons behind a curtain. No person would wear clothes like this. 

Father Longsdown’s office 
The lock on file cabinet drawer where Memoirs of St. Judes is located has small scratch marks left from the lockpicks that opened them. To find the paragraphs where James Harding decribes that a secret door was made to the old crypt of the mansion requires an Investigation roll. 

Futher enquiries 
When the characters have obtained more information they might have new questions for Father Longsdown, who can tell the following 

- He has no knowledge of a secret door or crypt. 

- He has not read Memoirs of St. Judes, as vicar Harding was later revealed as belonging to a secret cult of devil worshippers. 

- The church frontdoors are open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day. Investigation will show that the front doors have small scratches from lockpicks but they are not recent. 

- Himself and Father Beresford are the only two with keys to the front doors. 

3 - Hall of records 

Should the character want to investigate further into the haunted mansion that Father Longsdown said St. Judes church was built upon it will require a visit to the Hall of records in the local archive and an Investigation roll to find the one bit of interesting information that it holds “that below the mansion the police officers found a crypt where the family had created a mausuleum and committed ritual suicide while lying in their open coffins”. 

4 - Commercial Street Police Station 

At some point the characters may want to find out what the preliminary police records about both the murder of John Boroughs and Elisabeth Dawson says. 

Heading the police station is Inspector John T. Spratling and he wants no one sniffing around the station, so it will require Persuasion (-2) roll just to stay at the station and talk to Spratling. If Tobias Gregson reveals himself to be a former police officer the penalty is only -1. 

If the characters get talking to Spratling they will find out that it requires a bribe of a 10 shillings for him to show them the police reports. They will have 5 minutes to glance at them before Spratling takes them back. 
The police records will alert the characters to the witness reports of puritan clad priest clothes and the victims being both burned and slashed. 

Spratling does not want to discuss the case with the characters, but believes the murderer to be a lunatic jew just like Jack the Ripper was. 

5 - Witnesses 

The characters may want to visit the witnesses to both crimes to see if they can provide further clues or information. Both are not interested in speaking to non-Jews and will even if pressed not be able to give more information. They will however keep eyes and ears upon in the future if intimidated. 

6 - Crime scenes 

The characters may want to investigate the crime scenes despite the fact that most clues should be gone. 

Both crime scenes will have one vital clue though, a sewer hatch is close by. 

7 - The Crypt 

When the characters find the secret door and entrance down to the crypt they will no doubt want to investigate. The best time is during the late evening when the church is closed - after 10 p.m. 

The crypt is shrouded in darkness but torches are lined up on the walls and can easily be lid. 

The characters will not get far into the crypt before two devil dogs will rush forward and attack. Beresford has placed the devil dogs there to kill any intruders. The devil dogs were ressourected by Beresford before attempting to ressourect Mansfield. 

After dealing with the devil dogs the characters continue and move into the section of the crypt where the last family of the mansion are buried. 

The last section of the crypt contains the empty coffin of William Mansfield. A small cardboard box of a new date is empty - a Notice roll will reveal a St. Judes coin that has dropped behind coffin. Once the characters open the coffin they find it empty, but a Notice (-2) roll will reveal a secret compartment or if the characters state that they investigate the coffin an Investigations roll will also reveal the compartment. In the compartment they will find some sheets of paper bundeld together - pages from William Mansfield’s diary. 

Futher enquiries with Longsdown and Beresford 
When the characters return from the crypt they will no doubt want to confront Father Longsdown about the crypt. He will appear horrified that a crypt is located below the church. If asked about the name William Mansfield, Longsdown will know that that was the name of a puritan priest who lived in the area almost 300 years ago. He was infamous for his brutality and the fact that he slayed people in the name of God if he found them to be heretics or not God-fearing enough. Longsdown does not know anything else about how he died. 

8 - The Third Murder 

During their conversation with Longsdown, a loud knocking will be heard on the frontdoors of the church and lots of loud shouting. Longsdown will rush to open the door and as the doors open a man shouts “Father, der er begået et nyt mord - det er ovre i Finch Street, kom hurtigt!” 

Father Longsdown hurries back to the characters and asks them to go with the man to the crimescene while he goes to get Father Beresford in Widegate Street. 
If some of the characters want to go with Father Longsdown he will have no objection. 

Father Beresford’s flat 
If some of the characters decide to go with Father Longsdown to seek out Father Beresford, the will find that no-one answers the door when they come knocking. 
If they either break-in or lockpick their way into the flat, they will find several different newspaper articles about the murders and a Notice check will alert the characters to an infamous book hidden below the bed - the book is about bringing back the dead. 

The crimescene 
It will only take the characters around 5 minutes to get to Finch Street where a crowd has already gathered around the crimescene - in a backyard behind a building. A Notice check and the characters will overhear the crowd idenifying the person as Harry Pearson and that the police is 5 minutes away. 
The body lies face down, but in a pool of blood. This means that the characters will have to move fast in order to deduct anything from the crime scene. 
An Investigation check will reveal the following: 

- Harry Pearson appears to have been killed in the same manner as the previous to victims; slashed in chest, face and stomach, severe burns on the back. 

- The murder has taken place within the last ½ hour. 

- Footprints from a very old style boot is represented the most within 5 feet of the body. 

In order to follow the tracks the characters will have to make Tracking checks (+1 for mud/filth in the alley and -2 for poor light, which can be negated with a lamp.) 
If successful the characters see that the tracks lead through a door and into another backyard(with a sewer hatch). 

9 - The Hunt Begins 

Into the sewers 
Inside the sewers the characters will have to make new Tracking checks 

1st check - 0 (+2 for mud/filth from the backyard hanging onto the shoes and -2 for poor light, which can be negated with a lamp.) 

2nd check -1(+1 for less mud/filth from the backyard hanging onto the shoes and -2 for poor light, which can be negated with a lamp.) 

3rd check -2 (-2 for poor light, which can be negated with a lamp.) 

In the end the tracks lead to a ladder going up. When the characters have ascended they find themselves close to Christ Church. 

Christ Church 
To continue another Tracking check is required to pick up the tracks again. If successful the characters can follow them into the compound of Christ Church, where the tracks become so easy to follow due to the soft underground that no check is required. 

The tracks lead to an old and closed cemetary - fenced in and with an old building far away. A second Tracking check will reveal a second set of foot prints also going into the old cemetary. 

The old cemetary 
At the old cemetary the character will not have come far into the compound before two devil dogs will appear from behind some bushes and attack the characters. 

After the characters have dealt with the devil dogs they will continue towards the old building. 

Inside the building they will find it more or less abandoned , but for a trapdoor in the floor with a ladder sticking out of it. A Notice roll will reveal voices from below, but it is not possible to see anyone. 

If the characters descend they will find themselves in a tunnel, around 100 feet away they can see light. Approaching the light the characters will enter a cave where they will see both Father Beresford and the Witchfind Mansfield. At the first sign of the characters the two will attack the characters.

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