Tonight’s session saw the characters finally end their pause in Istanbul. The city proved to be an excellent set piece for the multi-group intrigue and provided enough exoticism to set the stage for the more strange settings ahead.
One of the things the characters did last time that surprised me was they glommed onto one of the NPCs that was to be a possible love interest for the Dr. Gould character — our Spanish Jewish doctor with Atlantean blood who can activate ancient Atlantean artifacts with his presence. However, she proved intriguing enough that the “lead” in the game, Lady Zara, asked her along for the ride.
A few days later, I stumbled on a Facebook post in the Hollow Earth Expedition group that tied so well into the current plot, and specifically this NPC’s background, that I had to rewrite this week’s adventure quickly to include more bad guys and intrigue, and also hang a few more possible plot lines. This was a post on The Bloshevik’s Occult War, over on the Espionage History Archive website. It’s classic pulp/conspiracy theory goodness. If you want all the details, go read it.
What I applied: The characters found out from the local Terra Arcanum master Hunter (the new Terra Arcanum overseer PC) has been answering to that the GPU (the Unified State Political Directorate) Special Department has somehow gotten word of Gould’s Atlantean nature, possibly from a leak in the Terra Arcanum group, possibly from a leak in the Gestapo, and now have an interest in him. More worrying is their intense interest in Olga Markova, the knout-weilding assassin with the Rabinowitz Group.
They’ve learned that her father was part of the group charged with eliminating Jewish culture and influence in the Soviet Union, but fell afoul of Stain in the 1929 political war with Trotsky. Her brother is in a gulag (in reality, the gulags were the GPU Special Department’s deal.) She, however, had been taken under the wing of a Special Department officer, and was of direct interest to Aleksandr Barchenko, the head of the Bekhterev Brain Institute — the cynosure for the Soviet psychometric research; she is also of direct interest to Gelb Bokii, the head of the department. The Terra Arcanum think she’s a GPU spy.
Her Rabinowitz allies say that’s bunk. She set up the man who had held her as a sex slave — Mikhail Ruslan — and Barchenko for a hit by the Jewish mobsters during a vacation in the Crimea. The Group missed, but one of their hitters saw Olga finish off Ruslan and injure Barchenko. She even took a pop at Trotsky in Istanbul but missed. There’s no way she’s a communist agent.
Gould tends to believe this story. He’s seen the knout marks on Olga’s back. He knows there’s something special about her — he can just feel it, but doesn’t know what. If the Soviet’s occult and psychic bureau wants her so badly, he must be right!
Things come to a head when Yakov Blumkin, a GPU assassin and dealer in Jewish relics from the Ukraine, attempts to scoop her up in the Grand Bazaar, only to be stopped by our big game hunter, Gus Hassenfeldt. Blumkin reveals her treacherous nature and that she will turn on them, which feeds into Gus’ opinion of her. He “gives” her location to the Russians, keeping them off the party’s tail long enough for them to meet back at Zara’s S-36 seaplane so they can high-tail it out of town.
This led to a firefight between a dozen Soviet agents, who show up in a couple of cars while Zara is backing the plane out into the water to take off. During the action, Hunter drops a few of the bad guys, and Hassenfeldt blows up a car with a lucky shot to the gas tank from this .425 Wesley-Richards.
The group flies to Simla, where they get aid from some of the Terra Arcanum’s friends in the British government there. After a night of official parties and some debauchery, they load up the plane with their cold-weather gear, oxygen bottles, and a Ghurka on loan to them with family in Lhasa, and off they fly.
Their arrival in Lhasa leads to a big reception from the people, who are not used to seeing an airplane, much less two! Yes…there is a Fokker F.XII with Lufthansa markings already on the ground here. The Gestapo has beaten them to Tibet!
They find out the Germans, headed by Hauptsturmfuhrer Werner and Dr. Heiser (the men that tried to lure Hassenfeldt into their expedition), have already been to see the Dalai Lama and the Eye of Shambala. The headman of the village is making the arrangements for them to meet with the esteemed religious leader the next day…
Next up, they finally get to the Eye of Shambala.