You'd think that the past few weeks would make it difficult for a reporter to come up with something interesting and newsworthy, wouldn't you? I mean, after that comet left so much debris that the sun got blocked out, and the fish all died due to that germ warfare spill, and then... well, I don't have to recall all the events for you. Anybody who's been living for the past few weeks knows what a Hell of a time we've had.
But this,... this was still an interesting newsday, end of the world notwithstanding...
I got out my notebook and began writing up the answers that the guy was giving me. He was still pretty shaken up, but I tried to get the story straight. I had a deadline to make, and this story definitely had to go into the next edition, but I still wasn't sure if he was a reliable witness, or just some nutcake...
"So then what happened," I said, getting the guy to continue his story.
"Yeah, well, like I said," he mumbled, "I was walkin' along this street, here, when I looks up, and I sees these guys fighting up by the rooftop of the building."
"Okay, you told me that, but do you want to go over the description agian...", I said, pushing for details that I didn't really think would hole up a second time around.
"I already said, the one guy looked like some sorta' soldier-boy, with a crew-cut, you know? The other guys looked sorta regular, except for the guy with glasses. He looked sorta the book-learnin' type. Anyway, he was holding this here horn, and, ..."
"Excuse me, did you say a horn?" I asked, for clarification.
"That's right, some sorta horn. Anyways, that's when the guy with wings..."
"Again, sorry for the interruption, but was this the guy with birds wings or bats wings?" I asked, trying to trip him up.
"The guy with birds wings. He says something like `This is not right', `cept that he says it all funny, like you can hear it in capital letters or something. So the guy with bat wings pulls out a gun and starts shooting."
"And that's when..."
"...and that's when the guy with the glasses blows the horn, and the two guys with wings start screaming."
His story had held up over two successive tellings. I was beginning to wonder if this guy was a nut-case who was lying, or a nut-case who believed his own line of crap. He definitely couldn't be anything other than a nut-case, ... could he...?
He continued, "... and the guy with the glasses keeps blowing this here horn until the two wing guys finally just fall over. Their wings kinda faded, and they passed out like they'd been mickeyed..."
"Well, about then is when St. Joseph's Basilica blew to pieces. So after that, I didn't see much, `cause of the dust. I figure the normal-lookin' guys got away, huh?"
I started to get that itch at the back of my neck. One word started repeating over and over in my head, like a siren-song calling me forward.... PULITZER!!!
The story is essentially your standard end-of-the-world story, with a twist. The book of Revelations is actually just one potential telling of the story, as seen through the all-too-one-sided perspective of John. Instead, one must realize that the end-of-the-world predictions are only one way in which the final chapter may be written. Of course Hell has their own version of an Infernal Revelations, in which the trumps of doom are blown and Hell finally kicks some Divine Ass.
The adventure centers around the blowing of the trumps of Doom. These seven trumpets are, instead of merely heralds of successive stages in God's triumph, the actual objects that the final battle will be fought over. These seven Trumps are hidden across the surface of the globe, in various holy/unholy or historic landmarks. They look like ordinary, if somewhat shoddy, post-horns or long-horns. However, when blown, they do Celestial damage to all enemies within hearing distance. Thus, anyone hearing the blast of a Trump will lose 1 Celestial Force. Three blasts of a Trump will destroy your average Celestial/Diabolical, and 6 blasts will destroy any Archangel/Prince most assuredly.
The problem, then, is that neither side knows the location of the trumps until the prophesied time has approached. Since the sea has recently given up its dead, the sky has turned black as sack-cloth, and all that stuff, the knowledge of the locations of FirstTrump has also been mystically defined by both Yves and Kronos. After one side finds the First Trump, and it is Blown for the first time, the Second Trump's presence can be known. Not until the Second Trump is blown can the presence of the Third Trump be divined, and so on.
What is supposed to happen, theoretically, is that both sides rush after various Trumps, one side wins per battle, Blows the Trump, kills the other side, but hopefully the other side will find the next trump, keeping the odds even. Since the Celestial-Damage effect only works within hearing distance of the hiding place of each specific Trump, there is no reason why possession of a previous Trump should influence the battle over posession for a successive Trump, save that perhaps the best and brightest of your side perished in the previous battle after the other side won the Trump and Sounded it.
Whichever side blows more Trumps will win the War. Seven trumps... no stale-mate possible. Somebody's got to win.
Along comes a group of mortals, who, through incredible luck/providence/chance/misfortune, have come to be in the posession of an ancient piece of parchment that makes reference to the end of the world. This parchment contains the supposed transcript of the dreams of a mad god, who, upon dreaming a horrific nightmare about the end of the world, wrote the nightmare down, and then immediately killed himself to escape the horrors of his vision. The parchment has been long thought to be a hoax, or worthless superstition, or some other piece of worthless academic nonsense.
However, with the recent events in the world (the sun going out, the fish dying, etc.), one lone professsor has rallied together what frail mortal forces he can in an attempt to follow the instructions contained in the parchment.
For the parchment contains, (unknown at the beginning of the adventure...) hidden within the text of a disturbing dream about the end of the world, secret messages that give clues to the locations of the Seven Trumps of Doom. Thus, while the Celestials/Diabolicals are actually incapable of Knowing the location of a trump before its predecessor is sounded (due to the mysteries of Celestial nature, I guess...), this one professor has figured out what might possibly be the location of the Trumps that are, as of yet, unsounded.
If the Humans can blow at least one Trump, and the other sides blow three apiece, the final War will end in a stale-mate. Thus, humanity will have another Millenium in which to figure out a new way to offset the final battle between Good and Evil. Because let's face it, in a war between Good and Evil, poor pathetic humans are the main losers!
On the other hand, you can never be sure that each side will only blow three trumps apiece. The best way for humans to be sure of their continued existence is simply to blow FOUR trumps themselves. That way, no matter what happens, humans are sure that neither side wins their stupid War.
Sorry I just can't send you my copy, but it was hand-written. The location of the letters demanded that you finagle them a little more than I was able to do with a word processor. As well, I had some letters that didn't appear in English Fonts, so I had to hand-write the thing, stain it with tea, burn the edges, and otherwise make it look old and well-used. It contained Latin, French, a little Navajo, etc...
IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT that the players don't know that the parchment is anything other than a nifty prop that the GM made for them. Downplay its importance. What happend when we gamed is that it was read once, set aside, and nobody looked at it for days. Then, when things were at their bleakest, and the party was off on yet another wild goose chase, somebody bothered to pick it up again, and noticed that the text-body could be re-interpreted in certain ways, found the first Secret Message, and nearly had an embolism trying to explain to the rest of the party that they'd held the secret to winning the War in the palm of their hands and hadn't even known it! (Oh... the expressions on their faces, the expletives that were shouted,... the stuff GM's dreams are made of :)
The parchment contains an assortment of poetic/prophetic sounding statements all about a dream in which the world ends in a series of bloody battles. However, hidden within the text of the parchment are secret messages about the location of each Trump. The text of the dreams suggests the method in which each message is hidden.
Example: If the text of the dreams contained a sentence that read, "And I saw them, rank and rank, file and file, lined up in a great series of columns and rows. And the Leaders of each Line held their Word and their Faith, so that, no matter what else was said, it was known that each Line contained the Word that was Salvation." Anybody with any fairly deep smarts can figure out that the beginning of each line of the text is significant. Sure enough, when you read the first letter of every line (read the first letters down in a long column...) you get a message spelling out "The First Trump Lies beneath Joseph's Temple." With a little skull sweat, you figure this might mean St. Joseph's Basilica. You rush there, and find the Trump.
The Secret Messages are alluded to within the context of the text, and the Messages themselves must be hidden within the body of the text, only readable along certain lines, or in certain fashions. Examples I used when I ran this campaign were...
Then, when the seven V's were studied, it was discovered that each V contained a reference surrounding it (i.e. the word immediately preceding or following) that was a landmark of some sort. The players rushed out, found a map, connected the seven landmarks, and overlayed the location of the word "finale" on their text with the location on the map. It was found coincide perfectly with the location of the final Trump... might I suggest King Solomon's Temple, where Solomon Chained the Djinn...
When I Ran This Adventure: (NB. I ran this as a Dangerous Journeys campaign, before I owned IN)
Well, let's just say that the humans did pretty good for themselves. They wound up blowing four of the seven trumps for themselves, and found themselves as newly appointed Angels in the Celestial Scheme. They chose Words which reflected their undying devotion to Humanity, and then set about doing everything in their Power to forestall the next War.
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