The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness
The Blood In The Cup
6.16am 5th October 1998
'Nice effects,' Phil mutters, staring at the whirling nimbus gathering speed before their eyes, 'Better think of something quick, people!' he said.
Suddenly Sam seized Donald's arm, 'Your bag! Didn't you have one of those canisters of knock out gas left? If only you had it here!'
'We brought it!' said George excitedly, 'it should still be in the car!'
'Best make it quick then,' Phil said, standing up and racing towards the car. He arrived back a few moments later and thrust the bag at Donald who immediately began to rummage through it.
'There's only one canister left,' Donald said.
'Use it,' said George, 'throw it into the room, then shoot anyone who comes out. Aim low, we don't want to kill anyone, but we must stop them!'
'It should knock them out, we can then tie them up and interrogate them. I think I will speak to Tanith and Chow personally if you don't mind.' Donald said through gritted teeth.
'We could have some more exciting action here!' Rupert said gleefully, 'a fantastic last minute show down. Almost as well planned as the last chapter of a novel. How thrilling!'
A low moaning noise came from the room and they all immediately peered in once more to see the grail maiden almost completely solidified in the circle.
'Throw it in!' urged Arabella.
'I'll do it!' said Rupert enthusiastically, snatching it from Donald's hand and rolling it rather skilfully into the room. The canister rolled along the edge of the room to the far corner and then stopped, gently spinning on its side until it came to rest. And then nothing happened.
'What's wrong?' hissed Arabella.
'Rupert, you're supposed to take the cap off!' said Donald angrily, 'it was my last one as well!'
'Sorry! exclaimed Rupert, not sounding sorry at all.
They looked back into the room. The canister lay on its side, unnoticed and inactive. The maiden was now solid in the room and they could see that she was struggling with some kind of invisible bonds.
'I need water,' Tanith said hoarsely, stretching out her hand as Hugh offered her a glass of water, 'I need to rest a moment.'
Arabella turned to the others, 'I think we need to discuss what and who we report to SITU! It's obvious someone told them all about us, they were on to us before we even got to Glastonbury, they had to be to have Tanith in place. That means some one at SITU passed them information. We can't be one hundred percent sure of anyone involved in this operation, so I suggest we do the following. First, report on the mission to André Swahn as normal, leaving out any suspicions about SITU. Then I suggest we try and get in touch with M. G. Raimbaud, as he has no connection to this mission and, as far as we know, has no knowledge of Donald, Phil or Sam. I can't think of a better idea and, even though Blaize is head of SITU, he is involved in this mission and, therefore, suspect. Any thoughts?'
'I think you're being paranoid,' Phil said, 'we haven't exactly been discrete in Glastonbury, Hugh and Charles have just done some digging on us. And Tanith practically told us that she'd been placed there to have a cover for getting closer to the grail. We just happened to cross her path and someone told her all about us! Let's not get carried away. If you are right, then they'll know all about what happened anyway. If you're wrong then that makes us the bad guys, doesn't it? What are you planning on doing with the Grail, anyway? Putting it on your mantelpiece? We just need to be honest about what happened, tell SITU everything.'
'I agree,' said George, 'just tell the truth!'
'Me too,' added Donald. 'When you disappeared a while ago, where did you go?' Donald said, turning to Sam, 'I'm just curious as we had our butts kicked by SITU over it.'
Sam's face flushed scarlet, 'So now you think I'm the leak!' she said, 'for your information I was sleeping rough. I've done it before. Would I have been so obvious about going if I were running off to the enemy? And why would I be with you now? At the very least I'd be warning those in there that you were coming for them,' she gazed around the group, 'I'm as committed as any of you to this mission and I don't think it's fair that you should accuse me!'
'All right Sam,' said Phil placing a placating hand on her slim arm, 'we trust you, we just have to be sure, I don't think there's a leak at all.'
'It's too dangerous to tell the truth,' Arabella said, returning to the previous subject matter as if they'd never left it, 'if I'm right, someone with access to our personal files, outlining all of our secrets, told these guys who we were and what we were. Swahn might have access to that kind of information, but Blaize definitely does. We have to be very, very careful whom we confide our suspicions to. The only other possible idea I can think of is that we keep it to ourselves and try to investigate it ourselves, independently, but I'm not sure we have the resources to do it without help.'
'Look' said Donald, 'I'm tired of all this talking and mumbo jumbo crap! Let's get the grail out of there and back to SITU HQ!'
'Don't blame me if it all goes horribly wrong,' muttered Arabella.
'We already do blame you!' said Rupert, 'and you do seem to have made an amazing recovery from your earlier brain storm!'
Suddenly, Donald stood up, drawing one of the handguns and raising it to his shoulder, 'Just for once I'm going to do things my way. Anyone coming?' And with that he marched straight into the ritual room, leaving the others aghast.
The people in the room reacted slowly and Donald had fired a shot into the air before they could speak.
'Right,' he said, 'since starting here I had been chased about by a banshee, been chased about by police, attacked by goons who I must say are the biggest idiots I have ever encountered. I have been shot, tied up and slapped around and I have lost about 3 pints of blood. As you can imagine I am not too happy. If people don't start leaving the room right now I will turn this house into something from the Wild Bunch.'
Suddenly George seized a gun and followed Donald in, training the gun on Tanith whose pale face was awash with surprise and anger.
'What are you doing, you idiots?' she screamed
'I'm serious, I have killed scum like you so many times I have lost count and I don't think anyone will care if I do it again!'
'In the names of Adramelech and Bellepheron and BAPHOMET!' Tanith intoned suddenly, 'I order you, maiden - kill these intruders!'
The maiden, whose back had been turned to the operatives slowly swung round. She was still struggling with an unseen force. The sight of her face made George and Donald almost buckle at the knees. They had never bent his close to her before and all of the madness and anger in her eyes was clear to them.
She stretched out her arms towards the, her delicate fingers stretched taut like the sharp claws of bird of prey about to swoop in for the kill. She advanced slowly towards them and they could see the internal battle raging inside her. She was fighting to disobey Tanith's orders, to break the magical bond which was holding her in place.
George took an involuntary step backwards and Donald's weapon arm was trembling. Behind them the other investigators stared slack jawed at the entity advancing towards them.
'Do it!' screamed Tanith, 'kill them now! I ORDER YOU!'
'No!' said Donald weakly, his voice trembling, 'Lady, you must not allow these people to control you, I know you are good whereas they are evil and want you only to destroy. I beg you do not do their bidding! Release yourself from their powers!'
The maiden's voice rang out as loud and as horrible as before, 'Help me! Remove the marks, free me from their slavery!'
Glancing downwards George saw that the maiden was imprisoned within the chalk markings on the floor - two stars inside a large circle. Darting forward he quickly scrubbed out part of the circle with his shoe.
'No!' howled Tanith.
Quickly George and Donald began to rub away parts of the stars.
Tanith launched herself at them, knocking one of the bowls of burning oil which quickly spread out across the floor, a pool of flame licking towards everyone in the room. She flew at George and they fell onto the floor, the flame quickly catching their clothes and hair. The maiden screamed horribly and pursued Chow who, as Donald turned to drag Tanith away saw Chow climbing out of a tiny rear window, the flames and the maiden at his back. Grasping Tanith and throwing her aside, Sam quickly pulled George to his feet and ran outside with him, quickly followed by everyone else as the heat inside the building became unbearable.
The operatives fell into the muddy ground, the dampness soothing singed skin.
The building was now burning fiercely but suddenly Jo leapt to her feet, 'The grail!' she cried, charging back inside. she emerged a moment later, her face black from the soot, 'it's red hot, but I've got it!' she said clasping it.
But she wasn't the only one who wanted it. She turned too slowly to see Tanith, her robes and hair charred, leap for the grail. A shot rang out and everyone froze. George stood with his arm outstretched, the gun pointed at Tanith.
'The grail is not yours!' said George, 'you're coming with us!'
'Hardly!' yelled Tanith, sprinting towards the dense trees behind the shack. To everyone's surprise George fired at her again, when suddenly Charles and Hugh appeared as if from nowhere and tried to wrench his gun from him.
Behind them the building began to collapse in on itself and they all turned to see as the burning mass toppled towards them. Taking the opportunity to escape, Hugh and Charles darted after Tanith, disappearing into the undergrowth.
'Should we go after them?' said Donald, pulling himself to his feet.
'No!' said Arabella, 'let them go, we've got the grail and we need to get you to hospital!'
'Me too,' said Jo, her skin pale under the sooty mask, 'I'm starting to feel decidedly unwell.'
'Look,' said George, 'there are other things to sort out as well. Jo and Donald you need to get medical attention. Phil, I think you should take Sam and make our explanations to the Police and the hotel manager.'
'I've got my story ready,' said Phil, 'I'm going to tell them nothing about what's happened here - we didn't stay at the site after calling the police because we were still scared after being shot at. After the manager told us that the rest of the group had left the hotel in a ruckus we went to try and find them - the shouting and screaming at the hotel was caused by Arabella being traumatised by the attack at the Grail site. We don't know anything about the attack, presumably it was thieves trying to steal the Grail - we fled when they started shooting. One of the guards appeared to be in league with the thieves from what we did see. The thieves must have damaged our equipment, and stolen the films. Any injuries caused to the group happened during the attack.'
'A good airtight defence,' said George, grinning, 'Arabella, you and Rupert come with me, we'll deliver the grail to SITU.'
'Take the films too,' said Phil, 'I don't want the Police to get their hands on them.'
The building was now in its death throws and Rupert irritably rubbed some of the soot from his face.
'For god's sake let's get out of here! And now! This is not a place I want to come back to, even for the hippy festivals. Too many bad memories and cock ups, old chaps! Let's get moving!'
'For once I agree wholeheartedly with you,' said Jo as they walked towards the car.
Squeezing very tightly into the car, the dying embers of the remains of Brock Farm glowing in their mirrors, they headed first into Glastonbury and then on to their various destinations, their precious cargo with them.
From : G M Blaize, Debrief / 796
To: Operatives: George Hardy, Phil Harlow, Samantha Michaelson, Donald Swathe, Rupert de Montfort, Arabella Robyns and Joanna Wilton
Subject: The Grail
Congratulations to all operatives on recovering the 'grail', which is providing some very interesting results under lab analysis, however, it has undergone significant damage.
You succeeded in the terms of your initial briefing, by trying to establish the authenticity of the 'grail' on site and eventually removing it from the hands of those who would misuse it.
Unfortunately the operation was severely marred by the premeditated use of violence and other illegal activities, despite repeated warnings from SITU HQ. SITU cannot support in any way the carrying of illegal weapons or the torture of suspects: concerns about the security of SITU should always be primary on an investigation, even if that means not achieving your goal. Operatives Swathe and Wilton are asked to turn in their weapons before applying for a new mission.
It is a great pity that the Operatives involved did not feel able to handle the situation without resorting to violence.
The consumption of illegal substances whilst on a mission also comprises safety and security, both of the individual, the group and of SITU itself. We suggest that Operative de Montfort enter a rehab program before beginning another investigation.
There were serious security breaches on this mission and if it were not for the quick thinking of Operative Harlow, the police may have investigated several operatives further.
We are also concerned that Operative Robyns has released classified information to an outsider for a second time and on this occasion it appears to have helped the enemy to work against us. We have received internal complaints about Operative Robyns and hope that she will under go psychiatric assessment before applying for another mission.
Concerns about a mole within the group appear to have been unfounded. There is no leak within SITU.
Despite this being a difficult mission which appears to have been made even more difficult by your own methods, you have delivered to us some vital information on two occult groups which we have been trying to track and also on the big players within those groups.
Aftermath: the Glastonbury Police have attributed the destruction and violence at the site to Alan Foster and a pair of unapprehended men who are thought to have links to a quasi-occult group. The search for the grail has been scaled down, amongst general local feeling that the object was a hoax and the trouble had been an elaborate publicity stunt by the mis-trusted Grail Trust. The burning down of Brock Farm has not been linked to the other events and the fire is thought to have been started by an oil lamp being over turned.
Amanda Gudmunsdottir: unfortunately, it appears that what you were told about the murder of this journalist is true. She has not been seen since before the investigation started and she is currently on the missing persons register.
The Brotherhood: from your investigation we have managed to deduce that this organisation is a fairly harmless semi-academic occult 'club' where ex-public school boys meet to take part in various pseudo-esoteric rituals and be bestowed with hierarchical ranks not dissimilar to the Masons. We will however be keeping an eye on them.
Charles Montfleur and Hugh Simmons: these two have dropped from the public gaze for the moment. Our links tell us that they were forcibly ejected from the 'Brotherhood' for the crime of 'sorcery'. However, the pair seem ambitious and the information you have provided us with will prove useful once they re-surface.
Films: the film evidence you provided us with has been analysed in our labs, the results may be the first documentary evidence of paranormal activity. You will be kept briefed on the outcome of this.
Alan Foster: this man is now being held in a secure psychiatric hospital. After repeated psychotic episodes and an attempt to hang himself, Foster appears to have entered a state of waking coma and is not responding to treatment.
The 'master': we know him better as The Watcher. He is one of our enemies, an individual who employs mind control methods to recruit followers. We now have a detailed diagram of his identifying mark on file thanks to your efforts. Your discovery that the 'grail' had been purposefully placed on a 'ley line' by him backs up our assumptions about his attempts to contact alien life forms from an earlier investigation.
Rosa Mundi: unfortunately we are no wiser about this organisation. We are very suspicious of their motives and methods and intend to lead an investigation into their activities.
Mr Chow: this man remains somewhat of an enigma, though it would appear that he is fairly high up in Rosa Mundi, our further investigations will certainly look into his activities.
Tanith: we are very pleased that you have brought this individual to our attention as we feel she is potentially very dangerous, particularly if she is willing to resort to kidnap and murder to achieve her end game. We cannot find any records on her real identity but suspect that she was the person who manipulated the situation in order to steal the grail and is very likely to cause trouble for us again.
The grail: this object has been damaged by its rough treatment, it is riddled with tiny stress fractures from being submerged in the icy water, and its exposure to intense heat at Brock Farm is thought to have exacerbated this. The suggestion that its placement on a sacred site or 'ley line' has drained some of its 'power' may have some merit as we have so far been unable to recreate its healing properties under lab conditions.
Finally, operatives are to be commended for their unswerving commitment to achieving the parameters of the mission and also for some startling acts of bravery, especially Operatives Swathe, Wilton and Michaelson.
Much of the significant information you discovered would not have been unearthed without the committed academic research of Operative Robyns and the dedicated investigating skills of Operatives Harlow and Hardy. Well done.
From: Alistair Thwaite, Debrief/84
To: Operatives: Phil Harlow, Samantha Michaelson, Donald Swathe
Subject: The Grail
Many thanks for your help in the recent investigation of matters Grail. You will be pleased to learn that following your successful completion of this mission, you have been promoted from the rank of Investigator to that of Agent, meaning that your Illumination level is now 2.
Now that you have reached a higher rank within SITU, it is right that we should share some facts with you. Please note that these are strictly for the knowledge of Illumination level 2 or higher, and must on no account be communicated to, or even hinted at when with, persons of lower Illumination. In fact, you should not even let them know that a Level 2 of Illumination exists.
You will be aware that SITU sends Operatives to investigate Unexplained events all over the world. What you will not have known before now, but do as of today, is that these events are not as scattered and unlinked as they may at first seen. In point of fact, SITU has evidence that there exists today and has done throughout most of human history a wide-ranging global conspiracy, inimical to humanity. Therefore part of SITU's duty is to ascertain whether individual Unexplained events fit into this pattern or not: and to learn more about it and those responsible. So you can be sure that your investigations have helped all of humanity! In the investigation you have just completed, The Watcher is a part of this conspiracy, and we suspect that Rosa Mundi may be linked to another aspect of it.
You have been contacted separately with the details surrounding your particular mission, and if you wish any of you wish to prepare a report to go into our magazine 'SITUation Report': this is far from compulsory, but may provide interest to other members. Your report will of course be censored by SITU HQ, so you need not fear giving too much away.
Thank you again, and I hope that you will wish to continue serving SITU on further missions.
From: Alistair Thwaite, Debrief/84
To: Operatives: George Hardy, Rupert de Montfort, Arabella Robyns, Joanna Wilton
Subject: The Grail
Congratulations on successfully having completed your second investigation with SITU! As a mark of the respect and trust we place in you, you are now to be admitted to Illumination Level 3 and the rank of Executive. As stated previously, the information herein is highly secret and must on no account be communicated with those of lower security clearance.
You already know that SITU exists to thwart an ancient, evil conspiracy against all of humanity. This is not the whole story, though. The members of the conspiracy, known as Ylids, are independent persons or beings each with their own geographical area and sphere of operation. We estimate there to be no more than 40 or so of them worldwide. Individual Ylids appear to be extremely long-lived - they may be functionally immortal. They are also extremely powerful, both temporally and 'magically' / 'psychically'. An Ylid is an extraordinarily dangerous adversary. Fortunately, although they are in conspiracy together, they appear never to be encountered other than individually. The being known as The Watcher is an Ylid; as is the figure behind the Black Madonna cult, the instigator of the crystal skulls, whose work you witnessed in Mexico, and so too we believe is Quetzalcoatl / Cukulcan. Each Ylid seems to have a number of human agents. In The Watcher's case, Alan Foster was his unwitting agent, and we believe this particular Ylid is rather weak. It seems that only Knut Johannesen was permitted conscious understanding of his master's horrific plans. Jaime de Reconvaco, the agent of the Black Madonna, is a much more potent adversary, as is Mr Chow: we believe Rosa Mundi to be backed by another Ylid, of whom we currently know very little. This may be one of the organized group of Ylids we know to be working towards a common end. What that end is, we do not yet know, but we can only surmise that it has to do with the eventual enslavement of all humanity under the Ylid yoke.
In general, low-level SITU investigations aim to identify the areas of influence of Ylids, to establish their locations, and to ascertain which unexplained phenomena are attributable to them and which not. Now that you are more highly Illuminated you can be expected to be working more closely on investigations we believe central to the Ylid scheme, and the targeting of particular Ylids and their agents.
Thank you again!
Out of character note from the GMs:
I hope you enjoyed that adventure, and are now keen to take your character on to bigger and better things in the ranks of SITU! If you wish to adventure again the game will probably shed light rather deeper into the conspiracy that threatens humanity!
If you would like to continue playing, just write to us - it's £3.50 per turn, or £42.00 for the whole twelve turns (you can put any credit you've got left from the current game towards this, of course). These rates also apply if you'd like to start a second character - whether to replace your current one, or just so that you can have double the UNEXPLAINED fun.
You should say if you want to stay with your current comrades, or move on to a new group - in general we are able to keep people together if they want to.
Inbetween adventures you may wish to give us some indication of what your character is up to - training, research, ordinary work, whatever - and how he or she has responded to the events of the just-finished investigation. This should help develop the character a bit, and give us some pointers for what to lay on next time out.
You might also want to think about joining the Flying Squad, which denotes those investigators who are prepared to drop into existing investigations, should operatives be lost in the field (as occasionally happens) and need replacement.
And if there are any bits of the game just finished which weren't explained properly and aren't clear, just ask!
Mo Holkar and Mia Hart-Allison
Undying King Games