This is an adventure for Bookhounds of London. PCs should own a bookshop and be used to clients making requests of them. The adventure is tied very much to London, trying to make the most of the setting.
A client explains that he and his uncle shared an interest in the arcane. There was one particular grimore that his uncle treated like the bible, carrying it in his suit jacket pocket. His uncle has recently died and he knows that he will be buried in that suit. He has searched the uncles house and the book is missing, it must still be in the jacket.
The family has ostracised the client because of his interest in the occult, believing he encouraged his uncle in his fancies. As such he will not be allowed to the funeral and so won’t have a chance to recover the book.
The best chance the player characters have to obtain the book is at the Necropolis line, where the dead bodies are moved from the centre of London to the graveyard on the outskirts. They can book a ticket on the train and attempt to get into the carriage with the bodies in transit, locate the uncle and recover the book.
Even if they don’t want to give the book to the client they know that the book is valuable and could be sold to another buyer.
The Horrible Truth
However, the uncle is not really dead. He knew his nephew wanted the grimore and was likely to use arcane means to obtain it. He created a proxy, a tramp who he took in but would receive any curses directed against him.
Indeed, the fatal heart attack was induced by magic. When the tramp died the uncle used a spell to alter the man’s face to resemble his own. He took a selection of belongings from his house and moved to a safe address.
When the player characters recover the grimore there is a chance they will notice there is something odd about the man’s face. It doesn’t take much for the spell to be disrupted and the true face to be restored.
Checking the grimore will reveal that it is a fake. If they go to the client with the information he will suspect the truth and admit that his relationship with his uncle soured. He knows that his uncle will likely need further money and will need to sell some of the other books he took.
If they can track down the sale of such books they might find out where the uncle is. They can then either obtain the grimore themselves or give the information to the client to obtain.
The nephew warns that the grimore holds information of how to perform a ritual to swap bodies with a blood relative when the stars are aligned. This will occur in one week. The nephew believed the uncle was intent on taking over his body, the motivation for trying to obtain it.
He warns that the dark arts take a toll on the human body and his uncle has been tempered by the limits of his body. In his nephews body he will be much more powerful.
Meet Sebastian Black
Sebastian meets the player characters and informs them of his situation with his uncle, Randolph.
Time To Prepare
The player characters have 24 hours to prepare for the book snatch.
The player characters board the train, overcoming security and railway works to reach their goal. They obtain the book and maybe discover the uncle is not dead.
The Truth Revealed
Investigation reveals that the grimore and the uncle are not what they seem. Sebastian Black reveals his part in the ‘death’ and reveals the time limit.
Tracking Down Randolph Black
The player characters hunt down the uncle using their contacts, coming to a final location. They also should research ways to protect themselves from
Along with Sebastian Black they face his uncle in a battle for the grimore.
MEET SEBASTIAN BLACK
Scene Type: Core
Sebastian will meet the player characters face to face, ideally at the bookshop. They know his face, that he has been there a few times but not frequent enough to be considered a regular. In his mid-twenties. He is dressed in a black suit, expensive but one size to big and thread bare. Chalk is visible on his cuffs (from drawing chalk symbols).
He introduces himself and asks if they would be interested in the location of an authentic 16th century volume Sanguis Et Ossis (Blood and Bone) translated into English. The player characters know this is a much sought after grimore combining mysticism and biology. It became popular amongst occultisms carrying out their own underground surgeries, with miraculous results. Only a few were translated into English and were difficult to bring into Britain, as its contents were considered blasphemous. Since many were used practically most fell apart.
Not only will Sebastian give them the location of the book he will pay them to retrieve it. This should be a tempting offer. There is also the implication that Sebastian might go to a rival book seller with the information.
If they agree Sebastian explains that his interest in the occult was sparked by his uncle, Randolph. He encouraged his rebellious spirit and it increased the bond between them, that only occurs between those who share secrets.
Sadly his uncle passed away and he firmly believed that he would come into possession of his uncle’s occult library but his family have stood in his way. They believe that it is he who led his his uncle astray and have used their lawyers to cut him off from an inheritance and virtual ostracised him.
None the less he managed to enter his uncles house and retrieve a few books he was able to carry. The one he most desired, Sanguis Et Ossis, was missing. His uncle regarded it as his most valuable treasure and carried it with him always, usually inside the breast pocket of suit. That suit is also missing.
Sebastian believes that his uncle will be buried in that suit the next day. He will not be allow to go to the funeral and so won’t have the chance to recover the book. He also doesn’t like the prospect of grave robbing.
There is one chance. The body will be transported upon the Necropolis, the train line that takes the dead and mourners to the churches on the outskirts of the city. They can book passage on the train and during the journey find a way into the carriage with the bodies. Locate his uncle and recover the book before they are discovered.
He explains that he isn’t without his resources, his family not willing to suffer the shame of having him go hungry, he is given a modest income. Enough to pay for the book for minimum risks. They have close to 24 hours to prepare. If they agree he gives them a phone number to contact him once they have the book.
Sebastian is being truthful about his history with his uncle, his desire for the book and his belief that it will be buried with him.
Sebastian is not telling the truth about his relationship with his uncle. The PC can tell that there is a slight bitterness in his voice when he speaks of him. If pressed he will admit that their relationship soured but he hopes that gaining the book will remind him of their shared passion.
Sebastian smiles knowingly when he mentions his uncles death and self consciously rubs the chalk on his sleeves. This suggest he might have had something to do with it.
Bibliography (Core Clue)
A copy of Sanguis Et Ossis sold at auction recently for £1,400 to an American collector.
George Salby (65 Great Russell St, Bloomsbury) listed a copy of book recently. Davis & Orioli (30 Museum St, Bloomsbury) were looking for a copy to add to their collection.
This can be used to make the deal more favourable but Sebastian has limited means. What he can offer is some of his arcane tomes, a few which might look good in the shop.
Sebastian will pay half upfront, giving them a bonus credit point they can use during the adventure.
The roots of the magick contained within the Sanguis Et Ossis goes back much further than the 16th century. It is said that they were written by inhuman beings that used humans as cattle or even that they were used by the Elder Things to control their Shoggoth. 2 Stability points lost.
The spells are popular amongst the cult of Shub-Niggurath. Worshipping flesh in all its forms and revealing in birth and mutation the magick lets them twist their forms and embrace the influence of the mother of a thousand young.
Those will a Credit rating of 5 or more is familiar with the Black family and the scandal of both Sebastian and Randolph. A devoutly Christian family they were mortified that they were dealing with the occult.
If Sebastian is complimented for his rebellious streak he will open up to the player characters. This will encourage him to reveal that he possess a 1st edition of Jack Pier’s Folio of Protection and can be persuaded to bring it in to be examined. This indicates that Sebastian feels threatened by something (his uncle).
If confronted Sebastian admits that he felt threatened by his uncle and that he used arcane rites to curse him. It may just be a coincidence but Sebastian does believe that he had to do it to protect himself.
The spells from Sanguis Et Ossis appeared in various forms in other books leading to a community of occult doctors that survived despite the scarcity of the book. Rumoured miracles include the removal of cancerous growths will bare hands, the regrowth of limbs and even bringing the recently dead back to life with transfusion of blood.
Many spells have a draining affect on the caster. This is diminished when used on close blood relations.
Particularly skilled practitioners were said to be able to shape flesh like clay, swap bodies and grow homunculus.
TIME TO PREPARE
The player characters now have some time to prepare and look into various avenues. The time taken should be taken into account. They don’t have time for everything.
Sanguis Et Ossis
By finding a bookseller who has a copy of Sanguis Et Ossis (George Salby for example) they can bargain to study it. Purchasing would probably be out of the question, at least not without eliminating any chance of making a profit.
If the player characters have access to a copy of the Sanguis Et Ossis they can make a forgery but this is a long, time consuming process. It will not take long for Sebastian to ascertain this isn’t his uncle’s copy, it lacks the notes of the previous owners.
Library Use (Core Clue)
While no library has a copy of the Sanguis Et Ossis there are books about it. One such account reveals that while primarily used for medical purposes there were a spate of incidents in Italy where people used the books to turn their family into resources.
These Blood Dynasties were feared as members were able to heal from any wound and be moulded into any situation that was required. The head of these families boasted that through their family they would live forever.
This did not last for long. In some places the locals stood against them, ruthlessly wiping out every member of the family. In others members of the family either tried to take control or rebelled, the dynasty collapsing from the inside.
The rituals in the Sanguis Et Ossis put a lot of emphasis on the alignment of the stars. Apparently their influence made rituals easier or harder, making particular times of the year to be better than others to carry out.
The text in Sanguis Et Ossis is surprisingly ahead of its time, the writer clearly knowing a lot more than his contemporaries. The most exciting idea is that just as every part of the body is interconnected so is every other body.
The user of the ritual enhances that link, allowing their healthy body to heal the wounds and illnesses of another. It can also be used to control others, flexing their arm as if it were their own. Usually touch is best but rituals can be performed to enhance that range.
There are limitations, the user of the ritual is the centre and so it strains their body. As the ritualism ages so their power weakens. The book advises to ‘move on’ when this occurs.
It isn’t difficult for a player character to forge tickets for the Necropolis, allowing them access to 1st, 2nd or 3rd class. These tickets aren’t looked at with any great scrutiny. This only takes a few hours to produce.
With a bit more work and skill they can produce paperwork indicator the owner is a railway inspector, giving them access to all carriages. This still might lead to railway workers to be suspicious, especially if the player character doesn’t present themselves as an official.
Anyone who is familiar with London will know about the Necropolis and that it is used to move the dead to Brookwood graveyard, far from central London. They know that returning mourners can use any other train to return to London to either Waterloo, Clapham or Vauxhall.
A player character can use their skills to gain access to the Necropolis. This allows them to leave door open for them for the next day. Bodies are not kept in the station so they won’t be able to get to the book early but they can attempt to obtain uniforms, add their name to the list of passengers.
Necromancers have a keen interest in Necropolis. There are rumours that staff there are practitioners or the whole things is a cover for a body stealing cult. None of which anyone has ever shown a shred of evidence.
The railway lines are also rumoured to be home to a cannibalistic tribe. The authorities deny this but commuters frequently witness ‘people’ lurking in the dark as the trains travel through the underground.
Accessing the finances of Randolph reveal he had investments all over the city, bringing him a constant stream of revenue. Since leaving his position at Black Import/Export he has not run a business directly.
During his time at the Black business he used funds to purchase two holding areas. He did his best to keep them off the books but the PCs keen eyes have spotted the deception. Randolph is using one of these areas as a safe house.
Further investigation reveals a second account that was set up. This is still active.
Going to the Black Import/Export the PCs can gain use this skill to access financial records (allowing Accounting). They can also learn that Randolph was removed for using the business funds for his own purposes.
His purchases might have gone unnoticed if he hadn’t also furnished one of the holding areas. This was so he could study imports without being disturbed.
Speaking to the police who responded to the death of Randolph confirm it appears as if he had a heart attack early in the morning. A cup of tea lay spilt on the floor, the morning paper crumbled at his feet.
To their mind there was no sign of a struggle or anything to suggest that this wasn’t a death caused by natural courses. There was nothing to indicate that anything was missing, several valuable items still found on display.
A neighbour reported seeing a figure lurking around Randolph’s house after he died. Player characters might suspect this was Sebastian but in fact it was Randolph, collecting supplies.
There were indications that Randolph had been entertaining a visitor. There were two sets of breakfast dishes and ragged clothes of a man smaller than Randolph, waiting to be done. This wasn’t investigated as Randolph was known to keep odd company.
Reading the report on his death confirms the likelihood that this was a heart attack. No toxins were found and it is not uncommon in a man of Randolph’s age.
Comparing this with the doctor’s notes (provided with the report) indicates that Randolph never had a problem with his heart and so this would seem very unexpected.
Those of credit rating 5 or higher can gain access to the gentlmen clubs that Randolph frequented. They can learn that he was an active member of the Black import/export company but used it to scour the globe for volumes of the occult.
This eventually led to his removal from his position by his family. He was still wealthy, having made his own investments. With his increased time he spent more time at the clubs, speaking at great length at the accomplishments of his nephew.
As age caught up with him he came to the club less and less frequently. His oddness increased and he became paranoid, refusing to sit with his back to the door. Other members began to complain about him but he died before anything was done.
Speaking to criminals in the area where Randolph lived reveals that he was suspected to be a soft touch, taking a tramp called Joseph Bowston under his wing. Some other down and outs attempted to sample this same charity but were turned away. It seemed Randolph was only interested in Joseph, giving him second hand belongs to use.
A young man (Sebastian) was asking to see if anyone would agree to murder the old man but wouldn’t go through with it, apparently not having the heart for it. If given Sebastian’s description they can confirm it is him.
Has been purchasing books relating both to protection and curses.
Is in good health, mostly due to his uncle paying for only the best care.
Randolph Black’s House
There are sculpting and make up tools in Randolph’s guest room yet no sign of an clay or art materials. This is what he used to shape the tramps face into his own.
In Randolph’s study is a star chart. It indicates that Sebastian’s birthday falls within the window of an alignment between the distant stars of Karkos and Amia. This will occur within the next week.
Randolph was using his spells to alter the local wildlife. With biology a player character notice odd behaviour such as a rat climbing a tree like a squirrel, birds on the ground and dog with cat’s eyes.
The player character is able to capture a sample and see that the animal in question has been modified. There is no indication of any surgical procedures. It would appear that these are very unlikely genetic mutations. This requires a stability check (2 points loss).
Searching the house indicates that many of Randolph’s clothes were adjusted to fit a smaller person. There are also concealed bottles in the kitchen that contain urine and matchboxes with Randolph’s hair inside. It would appear that he was putting this in food.
This will help unlock the door to the basement. It is here that Randolph kept a lab. There is black board (wiped clean) and markings on the floor. Someone has tried to wash this away (the family) but anyone who has read the Sanguis Et Ossis will recognise them, if not understand what they mean.
There is also a table with restraints and a selection of cages (for the animals Randolph worked on).
Almost every room in the house has a large mirror, the bedroom has several. Arcane inscriptions can be found on several of the rear of the mirrors. This suggests that Randolph was concerned with deflecting unwanted arcane attention. This was an attempt to reflect any attacks against him.
The neighbours speak about how Randolph kept increasingly odd hours. They say that he was charitable, taking a local tramp under his wing and inviting him in for breakfast almost every day. It is rumoured that he even let the tramp sleep in the guest room when the weather was bad. The tramp hasn’t been seen since Randolph died.
Older residents remember that Sebastian would often visit his uncle. Randolph doted on him, even paying for the best medical treatment for him. In recent months they have seen less of Sebastian.
The next day the player characters can put their plans in motion. At 12pm the Black family will arrive at Westminster Bridge Road offices to take the hour train journey to Brookwood cemetery. There are 3 other groups travelling with them.
1st and 2nd class mourners are led into a special waiting room as preparations are made. 3rd class mourners wait in a communal area. While they are waiting three hearses arrive, the coffins discretely loaded on to a lift and taken down to the platform level.
1st and 2nd class mourners are informed when the coffins are being loaded on to the train, in the rear cargo carriage. Two members of the Black party decide to view this (his brother Daniel and his cousin Matilda). This will alert the family if the player characters have disrupted the process so far.
After bodies are loaded the names of the deceased are called out and mourners can board the carriages.
The PCs might use Disguise to conceal their identities, which might be important later if they are spotted carrying out illegal activity.
Athletics can be used to climb up on the train’s roof, to enter via the rear carriage.
The Black Family
Studying the Black family confirms that they are upset that Randolph has died. No one there has any knowledge or interest in the occult. They are trying to forget that Randolph was involved in such matters himself, the reason why they haven’t invited Sebastian.
Those with Credit rating 5 or higher can mingle with the Black family without causing a stir. Anyone lower will be treated with disgusts, seen as intruding on a private moment.
Complimenting the Black family can open door ways, allowing player characters to spend more time in their company, extract further information and even persuade them to check on the coffin.
The family can be persuaded to tell stories about Randolph, providing any information that the player characters may have missed during the earlier sections.
The London Necropolis Company
This can be used to get the player characters on to the train in which order they wish or to put them in a better class of carriage. They could also use it to inspect where the coffins will be placed, although under close scrutiny.
In the rear carriage, separated from the rest, are three coffins. One of them contains the body of Joseph, his flesh reshaped to make him appear like Randolph. A fake of the Sanguis Et Ossis is in the jacket. A guard watches over the bodies. Alternatively they can use Scuffling to knock the guard out.
Getting the book out of the jacket without being noticed is a filch check.
If it is suspected that they have removed something from the body they may be checked. This would require a Conceal check.
Once they have the book they may need to use the Fleeing skill to escape.
The guard watching over the body can be persuaded to let someone look at the contents of the coffins, although it is more than his jobs worth to let them harm or remove anything from the body. 1 Credit point spend will bribe him to leave the carriage for a short time.
Evidence Collection (Core Clue)
There is a finger print imprinted on Randolph’s face (between the jaw line and neck. Touching this reveals that the flesh has a rubbery texture. It doesn’t take much for the flesh to loose its tension, revealing the face of the tramp Joseph. This requires a stability check (2 point loss).
First hand examination reveals that Randolph suffered a heart attack. There is also evidence that he was living rough and had a drinking problem, indicated by the roughness of his skin and an enlarged liver. This was not mentioned by anyone else.
The body is smaller than the suit, which can’t be explained by the death. This would indicate that the man is not Randolph.
The inside of the suit has arcane symbols stitched into the material. These have been placed in such a way that most wouldn’t recognise them for what they are. They seem to be ascertains of identity, specifically that the person wearing the suit is Randolph Black.
The player characters can either stay on the train until it reaches Brook Wood or jump off early. The train passes through several stations so they don’t have to travel far to get transport back. Jumping off requires an athletics check or they can pull the emergency cord and use fleeing to escape.
The train arrives at a special station at the cemetery, before the bodies are unloaded. Any disturbance with the dead bodies will be noticed at this stage. If they managed to remove the book without being noticed then the funeral proceeds as planned.
THE TRUTH REVEALED
With the book in their possession they can decide what to do with it. Sebastian provided them with a phone number to contact him. He will arrange to meet them the next day. He knows that if the theft is known someone will tie him to it if he goes straight away.
It might be that the PCs don’t contact him straight away, preferring to first examine the book themselves or find another buyer.
Bibliography (Core Clue)
The book is a fake. A very good fake, most likely using the original as a reference, but the paper is to recent and the bindings are not in the style of the 16th century original. Most casual observers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
The book has hand written notes but these seem to also have been copied. There are several instances where the hand writing changes. This indicates that the original has similar notes in it, meaning that Sebastian will recognise a ‘clean’ copy of the original.
With the copy of the text there are indications of how different organisms can be mixed together. If they found the mixed-up animals at Randolphs house this will explain their existence.
There are coded symbols throughout the book. They seem out of place with the rest of the text and a cryptographer can try to break the code. It says ‘For my nephew. For his birthday’.
The book was assembled recently, certainly after Randolph is supposed to have died.
The book is assembled from new materials. Some of these materials would be hard to obtain outside of direct supplier. There are few such businesses in London.
Studying the text can give the reader 1 point of Medicine to be used later as long as they have at least a 2 rating in this skill.
Occult (Core Clue)
If they look for specific rituals in the book they can find the techniques to make the flesh supple (using chemicals) and how it can be moulded. There are also references to diverting occult curses by making a person symbolically ‘you’ by having them ingest part of you. This protection lasts only as long as that part remains within the subjects body.
There is also a section about taking over blood relations bodies. The ritualist will occupy his chosen subjects body, while their mind goes into their empty shell. It warns that if the subject is unwilling they will now be in the ritualists body and may use that against them. As such it suggests making sure that they are unable to continue using the body or that the ritual takes place with them close by, so they can be monitored.
At this point the player characters should know that the book is a fake and could also know that Randolph isn’t dead (or at least suspect it). They may even question if Randolph has already made the switch (although this isn’t suggested by the timing).
Meeting Sebastian he is horrified by this news. He confesses all, how he realised that his uncle had taken such great care of him because he intended to take his body. Sebastian swore that Randolph wouldn’t live to carry out his plan.
This is the cause of their falling out and Sebastian used a magical curse to give his uncle a heart attack. His uncle must have found a way to redirect this curse (into poor Joseph). With his birthday just 1 week away it is more important than ever that they find and stop him.
What happens next is up to the PCs. Sebastian has said that he acted in the interest of self-preservation (something Assess Honesty will confirm) but do they approve of his methods, particularly as an innocent man died?
They also know that Randolph’s plan is take over Sebastian’s body. If they wait ‘Randolph’ will come to them by inhabiting his nephews body. If they simply restrain Sebastian they can then deal with his uncle once he arrives.
Sebastian won’t go along with this idea. He has no intention of letting his uncle possess him. If they want to go through with this plan. They will need to restrain him and hold him, waiting for the transformation to take place.
TRACKING DOWN RANDOLPH BLACK
Now the PCs know Randolph is still alive they can attempt to track him down. Sebastian can give them a list of books he knows that are missing and the player characters can use the clues they have discovered so far to aide them in their search.
During this period Sebastian will go into seclusion. He provides them with a phone number but deliberately vague about where he will stay. He doesn’t want his uncle to find him and the fewer people who know the better.
Some of the books on the list appear at an upcoming auction. There is a good chance that they come from Randolph. If they go he might be there as well, watching to see if he makes a profit. Randolph does indeed attend but with a body guard. He will attempt to flee while his employee covers his escape.
In his escape he drops a bottle of poison. Randolph intends to drink this before the ceremony, so that Sebastian will die inside his body.
Now the player characters know what they are looking for it easier to find the secret second account. Using this they can more easily track the movement of funds and purchases. This will give them a list of book dealers.
There are several receipts for purchases of exotic pets. This is Randolph continuing his experiments with mixing animals together. In this case creating assassins and guards.
Those with Credit Rating 5 can stake out the expensive restaurants that Randolph frequented. They may get lucky and see him. Randolph uses the security of being in a public place to prevent them from affecting him directly.
He’ll calmly say that he has done nothing wrong, nor can they go to the police because they believe he will take over his nephew’s body. He simply wishes them luck in their quest to stop him. Randolph will then use his hired thugs to track down and rough up the player characters.
The PCs can assemble a means to protect Sebastian from the ceremony. This can be done in the same manner that Randolph used to protect himself, by having Sebastian ingest parts of someone else. This will have to be done daily until the window of opportunity passes.
If the ritual was performed while Sebastian was ‘Randolph’ then Randolph would be destroyed by the backlash of magikal energy.
The PC can assemble the information necessary to re-enact Sebastian’s heart attack curse. Unless Randolph is aware that they know he isn’t dead then he won’t be protecting his identity. This will need Sebastian to complete, as it is easier to ride the ‘charge’ from his original curse.
This means spending some time assembling the necessary materials.
Those who are suspicious that a medical examiner didn’t realise that he wasn’t looking at the right body, or that the mortician over looked the oddness, can use intimidation to get a confession. They admit that Randolph paid them off and can confirm that they met in a small cafe near one of the holdings.
They were to contact him if anyone became suspicious. They can use this to set up a meeting.
Checking they find that a man fitting Randolph’s description has been hiring thugs recently to act as protection.
Randolph is planning on kidnapping Sebastian, so that he will be nearby when the ceremony takes place.
Posing as Buyer
The PCs can use the book shop to advertise that they are looking for those particular books. If they are offering a significant amount they might tempt Randolph to come to the shop. As long as he hasn’t seen them he can be lured inside.
Even if they have him Randolph has already arranged the kidnapping of Sebastian. He will paint himself as the victim, that it was Sebastian who initiated the chain of events, although Assess Honesty will reveal this to be a lie. Failing that he will give them directions to where they are holding Sebastian, hoping to use the distraction to escape.
As the date approaches Randolph has Sebastian kidnapped. Cop-Talk or Oral History can get an account of the kidnapping, that they bound his hands in string and put a bag on his head, and that he was driven away in a van. For 1 point they get the license plate.
Using bureaucracy they can obtain information about the van, learning that was owned by a slaughter house which was secretly purchased and renovated by Randolph Black (so if the PCs are aware of the holdings they know which of the two he is at).
At the property Randolph will prepare to carry out the ritual. If Randolph has already been captured they can attempt to rescue Sebastian as the hired goons wonder where their boss is. It is also here that the real Santos Et Ossis is kept.
Should the book be destroyed then Randolph won’t be able to carry out the ceremony. It is far to complicated to memorise. He might eventually find another copy but not within the time needed. He’d need to wait another year.
If they recover the book and Sebastian survives he won’t be as interested in the book but will still pay them, out of honour. He will pay them half of what he offered and let them keep the book if they want to see if they can find another buyer.
Also at the holding are a number of animals that Randolph has mixed together. He will use these as weapons and carries the smaller ones on him to act as a distraction. The simple thugs just think Randolph has managed to get these animals to inter-breed.
Should the player characters interrupt the ceremony Randolph has his thugs attack them, then while they are distracted he releases some of the animals. He hopes that this will give him time to complete the ceremony.
In all likelihood his thugs will also be attacked by the animals. This would allow the PCs to get the upper hand.
If at a disadvantage then Randolph attempts to bargain with them. He offers them money and points out that from a rational point of view he will die and Sebastian will just undergo a personality change. Do they really want to do something drastic for something they aren’t sure is real?
The PCs might play along. In which case Randolph drinks the poison as he awaits for the change to take place. In this moment the PCs could stop him from completing the ceremony so he dies in his poisoned body or have Sebastian consume part of Randolph and cause him to be destroyed. If they were all to consume part of Sebastian then Randolph’s essence would be divided, not strong enough to take control.
They might even let him go through with it. In Sebastian’s body Randolph will have a long life and might even become a regular patron of the player characters. This act has shown that they are good business partners and he is interested in working with them in the future.
They could also make moving into Sebastian a bad idea. They could poison him, disfigure him or otherwise make his body seem like a bad choice. Someone with medicine could convince Randolph he is terminally ill or a forgery uses could produce papers to say the same.
PCs could even use the authorities against him. If they can prove he is still alive and give the location the police could arrest him for fraud and kidnapping. He would likely be found insane and committed, especially after his hideous animal experiments.
Whatever the outcome the PCs have learnt that the books they sell have more power than they imagined. There is much more for them to discover in London.
With the body of a spider but the head of snake this is a deadly combination. Randolph carries one in his pocket that he can throw on people or bite people who search him.
Abilities: Athletics: 5, Health: 3, Scuffling: 3
Hit Threshold: 3, Weapon -2 (bite): venom, Stability loss: +2
These rats have had a scorpions tail connect to them. When released in a swarm they scurry everywhere, biting and stinging. They do this in a panic and so won’t specifically go after people.
Abilities: Athletics: 5, Health: 3, Scuffling: 3
Hit Threshold: 3, Weapon -2 (bite/sting): Venom, Stability loss: +2
Pythons with the heads of savage dogs.
Abilities: Athletics 7, Health: 6, Scuffling: 15
Weapon: +0 bite, Armour: -1 vs any (fur), Stability: +2
None of these animals live for long. Most scholars will either think they are abhorrences or the result of evil scientific experiments. Certainly not proof that magick works.