The Thirteen Moons of Shamballa (in-character thread)

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Vaquero de Alta California
Jan 20, 2018
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March 8, 1936

Your transatlantic voyage aboard the luxuriously-appointed LZ 123 Mecklenburg was expected to be anything but eventful. Gossip was in the air even as the dirigible lifted off from Frankfurt-am-Main, what with the Huns reoccupying the Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versaille just yesterday, but the excitement of your fellow passengers was contagious and almost no one spoke of ominous events that seemed so far beneath your spectacular airship as it gently floated away from current events. Though strong headwinds over the Atlantic slowed your crossing, you had every confidence that the 60 clockwork-like Teutonic crewmen would deliver you on schedule to Lakehurst, New Jersey. For many of the 36 passengers aboard, it was their first flight; for many others, it was their first trip to America; for some, it was both. But it was not to be.

Midway across the Atlantic Ocean, the skies all around you turned a strange color midway between salmon and grapefruit as weird beams of yellow light flickered and shot all about you from above, seemingly originating from the mysterious blackness of space itself. Try as they might, the crew of the Mecklenburg could not stop the airship from spinning out of control as if caught in a whirlpool, only this vortex appeared to be tugging and twisting the airship up rather than down. Passengers and crew alike screamed and bawled hysterically, confused by the bizarre happenings. The captain wept openly, fearful and at a loss to explain the inexplicable.

The only man among you who didn't exhibit utter shock by the strange turn of events was a certain Dr. Christof Alois Klingermann of München, a scientist and recent shipboard acquaintance of Stoil Spisarevski, a Bulgarian national bound for Princeton, and Major Tiberius "Rex" Hunter, late of Gormenghast, England. Dr. Klingermann, in fact, seemed almost increasingly vindicated as the situation worsened. But suddenly, before anything more could be observed, everything went inviolably black aboard the Mecklenburg; you could not see your own hand before your face.

The spinning of the dirigible accelerated to an intolerable degree, causing the less fortitudinous and durable among you to lose consciousness. As the velocity of the spin increased further still, even the strongest among you began to black out, every man jack of you, but not before they heard the frightening scraping and clanging sound of the Mecklenburg airship being ripped apart at its very seams...

The next thing Klingermann, Spisarevski, and Hunter remember is regaining their senses as they lay amongst the debris of the Mecklenburg's erstwhile smoking room, pieces of shattered furniture and light fixtures strewn all around them on a rolling, golden plain that resembled nowhere so much as the wine country of Tuscany, though how you could have ended up in Italy of all places is as unimaginable as the whereabouts of the remainder of the dirigible, its passengers, and crew is incomprehensible. Fortunately the three of you seem relatively unharmed and intact, suffering nothing worse than scrapes and bruises.

As you survey your surroundings, it rapidly dawns on you that, as the sun is in the sky and it's daytime, the sky should be blue, but it isn't. Eerie pink clouds drift through a pale orange sky. What's more, you observe in the orange sky numerous moons of varying sizes and proximity. Focusing your attention on your more immediate surroundings, you realize now that you are in the middle of a field close to what looks for all the world like an oxcart crossroads. On the eastern horizon you see black plumes of smoke rising from an unknown source. One road leads that direction, while the others lead in the remaining three cardinal directions.
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*He follows the two frantically writing on his notebook, for a little while, then raises his head; as stuck by an idea.
"Is everybody unhurt?"
"Yes, Doctor. For some values of 'unhurt', anyway", Spisarevski replied.
"Look, what a beautiful sky. What athmospheric phenomenon might be responsible for such a beautiful sight? And how much would a villa here go for?"
*He seems oddly happy and pleasantly surprised for someone who apparently just survived a zeppelin crash into another world.
"The presence of particles in the atmosphere wich reflect all light except this particular wavelenght should explain It. Or perhaps some peculiar reflective phenomenon due to the apparent presence of more than one moon; or even an electromagnetical one.[Points towards the roads] Since the place seems peopled anyway, perhaps We can ask the volks how much a villa costs?"
*He jokes and smiles like someone with no more cares in the world.
"Wait, Doctor! You mean to imply that these are moons? Since when does Earth have so many?"
"What else would they look like to you mr Spisarewsky?
And yes. Earth Indeed only has a moon... but I fear that as they say in the Wizard of Oz, 'We're not in Kansas Anymore'... "
"Well...they should be shiny mongolfiers, right?", Spisarevski expressed his hopes.
"No? Well..."
He looked around, then up, then around again. Then he turned to their companion.
"Major Hunter, it seems like we might be a while before we get home. Are you alright?"
As you note your surroundings and contemplate your situation, you perceive a faint clip-clop sound akin to the four-beat gait of horse hooves at a walk and observe what appears to be a small caravan cresting a low hillock just to the west. Even at the present distance you can tell that the animals pulling the carts are not quite horses and not quite oxen, resembling rather a cross between the two beasts, with large curling horns and thick russet fur. The people who make up the caravanserai, however, look as human as any of you, except for their hair growing in all the hues of a rainbow, though you can't tell whether it's natural or the result of dye. A group of about thirty men, women, and children, dressed in colorful patchwork homespun, ride in carts pulled at a gentle pace by their draught animals. Some of the men pluck at stringed instruments akin to lutes while others play flutes or shake tambourines; their music is merry and altogether the band gives the impression of a jolly pilgrimage.

[I'm not sure if Shemek hiTankolel Shemek hiTankolel knows we've begun, but if we don't hear from him by tomorrow I think it's safe to assume Major Hunter will not object to whatever consensus you reach regarding your course of action.]
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"Hmm, should we risk contact now? We don't know anything about these people. Perhaps We should hide and then follow them from afar?"
Major Hunter replies to Spisarevski: "Jolly good. Not half as bad as the Somme. What? Somehow I don't think this is Lakehurst. More like Italy I should think."
"I say doctor, I would rather we wait a bit before talking to the natives. I wouldn't want to end up in the stew, although Spisarevski might make a fine goulash! What?"
Might I suggest that we hide among the debris where we can have a bit of a look-see when those calico-headed gypsies come a bit closer?
As the caravan draws closer you can hear the travelers singing a simple repetetive melody and you smell the scent of meat cooking. One of the drawn wagons has a grill built into it and a man with large, curling chartreuse mustachios flipping meat patties over a fire. It smells rather like mutton. Occupied with their own concerns, the pilgrims mark the debris in the field but don't appear to see you, and they seem incurious of the wreckage or its source. As the creaking of cart and wagon wheels and clip-clop of the hooved draught animals draws nearer, as the road draws them almost paralell to you and merely yards away, you find that their euphonious song is easily understood by each of you as though it were sung in your native tongue:

"Hangman, hangman
If you want to find the traitor duke
We know where to find him
We can tell you where to look

Hangman, hangman
Please make our pleasure last
When you string up the traitor duke
Don't break his neck too fast

Hangman, hangman
We know the traitor duke has plenty
For he stole from us in taxes
Nineteen coins of every twenty

Hangman, hangman
When his eyes bulge from their sockets
If you look the other way
We'll share the gold found in his pockets."
" I say what cheek! Hanging dukes indeed. What? These blighters seem to favour bloody songs. Might I suggest that we discretely follow them at a distance?"

Player to GM: Does Hunter still have his revolver with him? He would have most likely had it packed with his belongings (If he can even find them).
"German? I say, come now my good fellow, I hadn't known that the Germans were so fond of making jokes. They were obviously speaking English, as one would expect!
What do you say Spisarevski? They were obviously speaking English weren't they?"
"English? I know that Bulgarian is a rather musical language, Major, but I didn't expect you to even understand it. Or is it some example of English wit, and how did you get the Professor to join your little prank?"
[looks around and towards his companions quizzically;
Writes on his notebook "Penthecost Effect???" Just at the bottom of a LOOONG column titled "Things To Investigate" -He's been here mere minutes and it allready goes to the bottom of the page- ;
Shrugs and goes on]
"Well gentlemen, there's only one way to be sure: we'll just ask them what language they were singing in, If they prove themselves pacific".
Player to GM: Does Hunter still have his revolver with him? He would have most likely had it packed with his belongings (If he can even find them).
[You currently have only whatever was on your person. Anything that was in your luggage you'd need to search for amid the debris.]
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As you observe the passing caravan, a sudden and shockingly loud explosion seems to rock the sky. Far overhead a sleek metallic shape, rather akin to a needle-pointed cylinder with fins and portholes, streaks through the pale orange sky at breathtaking speed. If you didn't know better, you'd almost believe it was a "rocketship" like those found in the more fantastic pulp magazines that crowd the newsstands these days. Faster than you can say Jack Robinson, the object zips out of sight, leaving you with the strange realization that obviously there is technology at play here far in advance of anything you've encountered before, juxtaposed with the nearly medieval level of the caravanserai that didn't even slow its pace to watch the aerial phenomenon. Perhaps what is a phenomenon to you is an everyday occurrence to them.
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Well let's say that the revolver is lost then, as I am not sure that I want to spend a lot of time looking for it.
"My word! Did you see that? Look at those blighters. They don't seem to give a toss about it, as if it's something they see everyday."
[my first aid kit by the same reasoning is also probably lost]
"Ja, this is intriguing and yet deeply troubling. I can scarcely imagine a society with a feudal political ordnung and such advanced technology."
[my first aid kit by the same reasoning is also probably lost]
[Any personal items you can justify having had on you, or equipment you can reasonably explain you would have been using at the time of the vortex, you can have; anything that would have been packed away in your cabin or luggage you'd need to search for.]
Does the party want to spend time searching for our stuff? I think the only thing that Major Hunter would want would be his revolver, shaving kit, and probably a change of clothes, something more suitable for tramping around like boots, tweed, walking stick, cap, etc. Also, he would love to rescue/recover the rest of his cigars.
[OOC: Yes. Or at least, I do.]
"Well, you don't need to imagine, I think", Spisarevski points out. "And now I'll be going to the wreckage to search it and meet the locals. I'm really curious where they've learned Bulgarian...and of course, to find my luggage. If you don't trust them, you could stay here in reserve, so to speak, and come and save me in the night, should I need the help!"
"I thought We were set on following them posthaste; if You, Spisarewsky wish to search for your luggage so probably should I. There's a first aid kit amongst my belongings that will doubtlessly prove useful now that I think of it.
Concerning How to make first contact; perhaps leaving someone in Reserve to bail the others out in case of problems is a good idea; But we should probably leave such plans to the expertise of our esteemed Major, since He's more of an expert in such matters I would think"
"I guess it's settled then. Let's salvage what we can, and follow the natives post haste. I'm curious about them now, and I think that there's more to this than meets the eye. Besides, I would feel much safer with my trusty revolver."
[Let me know if you are trying to be discreet and avoid being scene, coming right out into the open, or something else, and I'll update from there.]
Spisarevski makes a turn, trying to approach the wreckage from the other direction to avoid detection. Like the British guy, he was going to feel better once he had his saber. It had served him a good job in German universities, so he kept carrying it around.
But right now, the best he had was a folding navaja in his pocket that wasn't meant for fighting. Or at least Spisarevski hadn't used it for the purpose before.
The german professor has no clue on how to be stealthy, so he closely obseves how Spisarevsky does it and tries to imitate him.
Spisarevski isn't even trying, however. He's just not attracting attention, but is otherwise not doing anything that could signal ill intentions.
Major Hunter will suggest that, perhaps, more subterfuge should be employed than not. The natives may be hostile, and I really think that our best bet will be to have the ability to defend ourselves should things kick off. He will propose that the doctor stay hidden and that he and the "Bulgarian chap" retrieve what is needed. If Spisarevski will follow his lead Major Hunter will stealthily guide them through the wreckage, keeping it between themselves and the natives.
It occurs to you that one explanation for why nobody's particularly watching for anything in your direction is that the natives may have taken the airship debris for a crashed rocketship, and perhaps that's not extraordinary to them. Although they aren't actively looking your way as the caravan clip-clops away, there's still a small chance someone might glance over and notice furtive movements and get curious.

As such, let's have a Hide/Sneak roll for each of you with a Difficulty Number of 10 for a relatively easy task since no one is trying to spot you, but at the same time you're in a comparatively open position without too many large pieces of wreckage strewn close enough together to cover you at all times. Feel free to dramatize your success or failure and I'll update from there.
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EDIT: disregard the first spoiler, Stealth is on Perception on wich I have 4 apparently.
*It appears that by sheer dumb luck nobody was watching just in the right direction to see a middle aged german professor stumble around trying to be stealthy. This is the most dangerous result possible: he now believes He's competent.
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Spisarevski, however, isn't doing nearly as well - possibly because he really isn't trying to hide. He's reasonable secure at least one local has spotted him.

I rolled an 8, however.
Major Hunter will certainly be as "discreet" as possible, especially in light of what Dumarest pointed out, and use his Hide/Sneak to try and be as unseen as possible given the terrain. As a lifelong military man, who also served in India and the NW Frontier, he just wouldn't stroll out and go "boldly as you please" to retrieve his kit, regardless of whether or not the locals are ignoring our group.
6 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 1 = 19
Dr. Klingermann and Major Hunter are reasonably sure they haven't been spotted amid the wreckage. Stoil Spisarevski, on the other hand, could swear he saw a green-haired, befreckled child pointing at him from one of the carts pulling up the rear of the caravan. However, his mother seemed, by her body language, to reckon it was merely his youthful imagination at work as Spisarevski was able to duck behind part of a wrecked boost tab and swastika-emblazoned rudder before she could follow his line of sight. The upside is that Spisarevski nearly stumbles right into a battered old traveling trunk that clearly was jostled loose from the luggage compartment, and there appear to be several other splintered trunks and charred suitcases scattered about this patch of the debris field.

[To make things interesting, everybody roll a d6: evens mean you find your luggage, odds mean you don't. If you find your luggage, roll another d6: this time evens means it's salvageable, odds means it's too badly damaged by fire or collision and nothing is worth keeping.]
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