"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Friday, July 28, 2017


The following is a summary of sessions one to three of an ongoing Dracula Dossier campaign.  While this is my individual campaign, with my own take on vampires, Dracula, and the events of the Stoker novel, it does draw heavily on Kenneth Hite and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan's excellent game.  If you have not bought and read these books, do.  Possible spoilers ahead.

BERLIN, 2016 (Episode 1)

In Kreuzberg, a joint operations team consisting of CIA agent William McPherson, MI6 operative Douglas Reid, and BND officer Saskia Richter have set up an observation post to monitor a suspected ISIS terrorist cell.  Hiding among Syrian refugees, there is mounting evidence that the cell has managed to smuggle sarin gas into the nation, and that an attack may me imminent.  The agents are working to verify this before sending in a strike team to shut the cell down.

The problem is, the intelligence doesn't add up.

The Cyprus-based shipping company used to bring in the sarin, for example, has ties to Bashar al-Assad's government, which itself has been known to use sarin gas.  Why would an ISIS cell be working with the Assad government?  There are other irregularities, suggesting another faction--an outside player--might be involved.

Once the presence of the gas is positively confirmed, the team decides it cannot delay any longer.  A strike team is assembled, and under the cover of darkness, prepares to go in.

Things immediately begin to go pear-shaped.  An unseasonal fog comes out of nowhere, obscuring vision.  One by one, electronic monitoring systems start to malfunction and go down.  And someone--or something--starts picking off the strike team with ease.

The operatives themselves go in.  In the darkness and the fog, they encounter a black-clad paramilitary force, soldiers that display uncanny strength and speed.  The one in the lead is unmasked, a pale man with thick, unruly hair and a thick mustache.  He attacks with a knife.  Bullets do not seem to affect him.   Agent Richter is killed, while McPherson and Reid barely manage to escape the scene with their lives.

In the wake of this, the sarin gas is released, killing more than seventy people in neighborhood and causing an international scandal when CIA and MI6 involvement is leaked.  The surviving agents are burned; McPherson goes underground and Reid goes back to his cabin in the Scottish Highlands.

But the events of Berlin reach out to them both.


McPherson finds himself receiving encrypted emails, both to his burner phone and his laptop.  A figure calling himself "Hopkins" claims to know the truth of what went down in Berlin, and hints at a conspiracy far bigger than ISIS or Assad.  The emails direct McPherson to a bus station locker, where inside is a century-old dossier, along with information gathered by Hopkins, suggesting a link between the events in this dossier and an 1888 group of Masonic occultists calling themselves the Golden Dawn.  Hopkins jokingly refers to McPherson as "Jackman" now, and suggests that while he has been forced into hiding for fear for his life, he will do what he can to aid Jackman and his team from the shadows now.  The Dracula Dossier--and the terrible burden that comes with it--is theirs, now.

Meanwhile, at his cabin in the Highlands, Douglas Reid receives a visit from a strange eight-year-old girl.  She is Luna Richter, Saskia's little sister.  While Saskia had made a passing reference to her sister possessing strange "abilities" back in Berlin, Reid didn't pay much attention.  He is forced to now.  The girl, a psychic, seems to have all of the memories--even skills--of her older sister.  It is as if Saskia's brutal murder transferred the whole of her knowledge to her telepathic sibling.  When McPherson shows soon after, and brings the dossier with him, the Berlin team is re-assembled.  They decide to pursue the conspiracy hinted at in the dossier, and find the truth of what happened to them in Berlin.

WHITBY, 2017 (Session 2)

The trio decide to drive south to Whitby, where Dracula made his landing in Britain.  This was his starting point, and thus they decide to make it theirs.  Along the way, McPherson is tracked down by his old CIA partner, Lacey Mickelson.  Taking a leave of absence, she has pursued McPherson to find out the truth behind the Agency burning him.  As the trio arrive in Whitby, Lacey confronts them, and McPherson decides to bring her in.

Though she is skeptical, she agrees to help.  After taking in the "Dracula Experience," an obvious tourist trap, they explore the old town, focusing on the locations described in the dossier.  Hoping to discover the actual names and identities of the 1894 primaries, they track down the tax and residential records for the Crescent in the 1890s.  This is where Lucy Westenra and her mother had their Whitby summer home.  They come across one Amelia Wexford, and her daughter Laura.  The background information suggests Laura Wexford is almost certainly the real life "Lucy Westenra."

With this name secure, the team begins a massive Internet search or any and all available records, slowly piecing together the identities of the 1894 network.

Lucy Westenra/Laura Wexford: A nineteen-year old socialite who died of "heart failure" shortly after her engagement.  There isn't much remarkable about Laura, but the discovery of her name and identity leads the team to the rest of the network.

Arthur Holmwood/Alexander Douglas, Viscount Drumlanrig: In 1894 Laura was engaged to Alexander Douglas, the son of Viscount Drumlanrig (a business partner of Laura'a father, Chester).  When Laura died, Douglas inherited her estate (including her home in Hampstead, Wallingham) just as the dossier describes. Shortly thereafter, Alexander's father died in a mysterious hunting accident and Douglas inherited his title.

Mina Harker/Genevieve "Gina" Harper, née Malcolm: Tracking down the famous "Mina Harker" is achieved by searching for Laura Wexford's school records.  Genevieve Malcolm leaves London in 1894 for the continent, and returns Genevieve Harper (providing the next link in the chain).

Jonathan Harker/James Harper:  From his marriage to Genevieve Malcolm, and his passing of the bar exam just a year earlier, tracking down "Harker" presents little difficulty. There is not much on the young solicitor, however, especially after 1894.  More disconcerting is the fact that he was employed by one Peter Hawkins...the same name used by Stoker (who changed all the others).  This suggests that "Peter Hawkins" was itself a cover identity, and that Stoker may not have known his genuine name.

Kate Reed/Catherine Cook: Laura's school records turn up the other classmate as well, Catherine Cook, daughter of Westminster Gazette founder and editor Edward Cook.  A journalist, she fits the description in the dossier.  Tracking down the society page articles she herself wrote (and mentioned in the dossier) leads to both Seward and Morris...

Quincey P Morris/Quincey Adams: The colorful "Texan" of the novel was nothing of the sort.  The son of John Quincey Adams II and great grandson of President John Quincey Adams, Quincey Adams was a close friend of the young Viscount Drumlanrig.  His assignment as an "attache" of the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James is concealed in the dossier, and suggests a connection to American intelligence.

Jack Seward/Dr Jonathan Sievers: Sievers and the Viscount Drumlanrig apparently met in the British Army in Suakin, 1885.  Douglas was 20, Sievers was 24.  Sievers returned from duty "shell shocked," and took up work as a police coroner in London.  In 1890, his father passed away, leaving his son a private mental hospital in Plaistow.  Sievers changes his practice to psychiatric medicine.

Abraham Van Helsing/Albert Wilhelm Van Renterghem:  This Dutch spiritualist, psychiatrist, and hypnotist was an associate and friend of Sievers's father, and took the younger doctor under his wing.  A highly respected physician, he took a sabbatical from his work in Amsterdam in 1894, possibly placing him in London.  

(Note: As of this writing, the team has yet to ascertain the identities of Renfield, Aytown, or Cotford)

With these leads, the team decides to make their next stop London, to track down key sites connected to the disastrous 1894 operation. 

LONDON, 2017 (Session 3)

Concerned that their research may have sent up red flags with the opposition--whomever and whatever that might be--the quartet rents a car and travels to London by circuitous routes, using AirBNB to rent a home in Plaistow, near Plaistow Park.  Their research indicates that Siever's asylum, and Carfax, were once located here.

They settle into the small home and set up operations there.  In the beginning they have no greater difficulty than an over solicitous neighbor across the street.  McPherson scouts the neighborhood and discovers a large Eastern European community a few blocks away, including a Romanian father and his London-born daughter running a convenience store.  McPherson uses his impersonation skills to blend in and pass himself off as a fellow immigrant.

But there is a growing sense of being watched as the team further investigates the London locations and draws plans to investigate them.  McPherson--perhaps paranoid--has the sense of being followed and turns to see rats in the street.  Lacey, meanwhile, begins to experience disturbing dreams in which a dark figure comes into her room and interrogates her.  Luna, the psychic, spends the night monitoring her and indeed confronts a dark presence.  

There are other signs as well, but the team presses on.  They pinpoint the location of Laura Wexford's home, Wallingham, in Hampstead, as well as her burial place in nearby Highgate Cemetery (the dossier fictionalizes this as "Kingstead," but records show this is where Laura was buried).  They also locate Siever's former asylum...now an NHS Hematology Treatment and Research Center.  McPherson asks around and discovers the place has a shadowy reputation; heavily policed, there are rumors of people disappearing.

The team decides to stick with Laura.  Under the cover of darkness, they penetrate Highgate and locate the Wexford tomb.  There are signs of recent entry.  

Inside, it is much as the dossier describes, including the sarcophagus of Laura Wexford itself.  As they begin to open this, Luna Richter begins having enigmatic visions; clocks, the sea, the number four.  Only once they have opened the casket does she understand; someone has placed an explosive device her with a timer and C-4.  They have seconds before it explodes...


No comments:

Post a Comment