In the latest episode of their temptingly powerful podcast, Ken and Robin talk cursed items, DELTA GREEN’s Bay of Pigs, blind French organists, and iridology.

The BORELLUS CONNECTION manuscript was too nightmarish and vast to be constrained by any binding our printer could conceive; therefore, we were obliged to remove some material from the book. It’s preserved here as a series of Page XX articles. As Orne’s mysterious correspondent in Philadelphia warned us, “no Part must be missing if the finest Effects are to be had”; therefore, we have categorised these cuttings as FINEST EFFECTS.

All materials tagged FINEST EFFECTS are Handler’s Eyes Only – prospective players of the Borellus Connection campaign are instructed not to read these articles.

Over the course of the campaign – especially in the penultimate operation, MISTRAL – it’s possible that Orne results a dead Agent as an obstacle for the investigators. Here’s how to play that from the point of view of the resurrectee…

The resurrected victim needs to make an Unnatural Stability test (6-point for salt-cut, 8-point for full-on) to cope with the experience of death and resurrection. Full-on resurrectees also get an Addiction to fresh blood (Fall of Delta Green).

To maximise the horror, let the players of the dead Agents play their old selves. The resurrected Agents are brought back in the Tunnels (see Operation MISTRAL). Orne vanishes before they become conscious, but Antonio Gomes waits for them.

  • The resurrected Agent has vague, distorted memories of an underground laboratory that seemed half-assembled – there were people moving around, filling crates with jars and other supplies – and a garden full of thorn bushes under strange stars.
  • While the Agents are still recovering from the resurrection experience, Gomes leers at them and explains that the master has brought them back from the dead, and that they are now his slaves. The master gives life, but he can also take it away.
  • To prove his point, Gomes mutters a few words of the dismissal formula – and the resurrected victims feel an undeniable and sickening feeling of dissolution, like they’re falling apart from the inside. It’s clear (HUMINT) that Gomes is telling the truth – the necromancer can destroy his creations with a word.
  • If the Agents are salt-cuts, then Gomes explains that the master has turned them into a drug, boiled all their thoughts and memories down to white powder. He has more of the drug, and he can supply more if the Agents co-operate. Is there any addiction so complete, or high so pure, as simply existing?
  • Gomes gives the resurrected assassins a bag containing weapons, photographs of the living Agents (with the address of their hotel scribbled on the back), car keys, and 2000 francs (each franc is worth about 20 cents). He tells them that they have 24 hours to get rid of their former allies; if they succeed, then the master may prolong their new lives. If they fail, they will be dissolved, and the master may bring them back again and again just to torture them. They have fallen into the hands of a living god – there is no hope for them except willing service to the master.
  • Gomes vanishes down the tunnels; if the resurrected Agents explore, they soon find an exit (either the Almousin-Metraton clubhouse, or the abandoned house near the cimitier Saint-Pierre. There’s a car waiting for them.
  • Resurrected Agents who become Shattered are likely to pick up Mental Disorders like Aggressive Tendencies (“I’ve got to kill you all! I’ve already died once, I’m not going back! It’s your turn!”) or Multiple Personality. Also, remind them of their crippling thirst for blood.
  • Resurrected Agents can spend a point of the Unnatural to try the ‘homing trick’, trusting to their instincts to lead them back to the lab where they were created. If Marseille’s still wracked by Carcosan weirdness, the trick doesn’t work, but if the Agents have dealt with Orne’s psychic chaff, then the resurrectees can lead the team straight to Orne’s House.
  • Any of Orne’s minions capable of spellcasting have access to the dismissal formula, and Orne can cast it at range. The resurrected Agents get turned back to dust if they ever pose a threat to Orne’s plans.

When asked to name his favorite monster, Noah selects a deep cut that cuts deep.


The Fall of DELTA GREEN adapts DELTA GREEN: THE ROLE-PLAYING GAME to the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, opening the files on a lost decade of anti-Mythos operations: the 1960s. Players take on the role of DELTA GREEN operatives, assets, and friendlies. Hunt Deep Ones beneath the Atlantic, shut down dangerous artists in San Francisco, and delve into the heart of Vietnam’s darkness. Purchase The Fall of DELTA GREEN in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

The BORELLUS CONNECTION manuscript was too nightmarish and vast to be constrained by any binding our printer could conceive; therefore, we were obliged to remove some material from the book. It’s preserved here as a series of Page XX articles. As Orne’s mysterious correspondent in Philadelphia warned us, “no Part must be missing if the finest Effects are to be had”; therefore, we have categorised these cuttings as FINEST EFFECTS.

All materials tagged FINEST EFFECTS are Handler’s Eyes Only – prospective players of the Borellus Connection campaign are instructed not to read these articles.

Operation HORUS HOURS sends the Agents on a trans-Pacific flight, shadowing a group of heroin smugglers as they fly from Hong Kong to LAX. Some added random encounters to liven up the flight:

  • Drunken Passenger: A drunken passenger (pick one of the Red Herrings if need be) mistakes one of the Agent for someone they know and strongly dislike, and decides that mid-flight is the perfect time to have this long-delayed confrontation. Reassurance or Flattery means that the Agent merely gets vomited on instead of punched.
  • Illness: One of the other passengers has stomach flu, but assumes it’s appendicitis or worse. The cry goes up – “is there a doctor on board?”
  • Turbulence: The plane runs into turbulence. Everyone must return to their seats and strap in. If an Agent delays, call for an Athletics test (Difficulty 3); failure means the Agent falls and takes d-3 damage.
  • Bad Weather: Thunder booms, lightning flashes, and the plane shudders as strong winds catch it and throw it across the sky. The lights flicker. Any physical actions (Athletics, Stealth etc) are at +1 Difficulty until clear of the storm.
  • Talkative Seatmate: Pick one of the Agents; their seatmate finishes the novel they were reading (Valley of the Dolls) and, bored, tries to strike up a conversation with the Agent. The seatmate is inquisitive and persistent. If rebuffed, complain loudly.
  • Fallen Baggage: One of the overhead compartments flies open and a bag falls out. Roll a d6. On a 1-2, it belongs one of the Agents; on a 3-5, an ordinary passenger; on a 6, one of the smugglers). In the case of an Agent or criminal, some suspicious item – a gun, a passport, a brick of heroin – goes skittering away under seats and must be hastily retrieved.

Among the reasons for running my light-hearted Fall of DELTA GREEN home variant with QuickShock rules: I can share custom cards I create for it here with you.

In the first scenario, intrepid agents of the Dominion Bureau of Research, an unacknowledged Canadian spy outfit, tracked a mole in the Avro Arrow plant in Malton, ON. Before they could figure out whether he had reestablished contact with a new Soviet handler, they found him melted to goo on the floor of his Kensington Market rooming house.

The possibility existed that they too would find themselves on the receiving end of a MAJESTIC melting ray. Due to their admirable caution in confronting this newly discovered adversary, they skirted this fate and, with it, the following QuickShock Injury cards.

The Minor card suggests an indirect hit from a heatless melting ray that works by breaking down cellular walls. The Major card comes with a direct hit, one that potentially touches off a cellular cascade that turns the victim to goo at scenario’s end.

MELT SCAR

Injury

-1 to Focus tests.

MELTED FLESH

Injury

Gain 2 Health when you receive this card. Lose 2 Health on any failed Physical test. If Health ever drops to 0, and this card is still in hand at end of scenario, you die.

Discard by finding the cure.

In The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, this is exactly the sort of sinister technology that might have gone missing from Castaigne regime armories during the revolution depicted in Aftermath. In This is Normal Now, the melt ray could be wielded by scientists developing technologies they believe to come from a crashed UFO access, but are really of Carcosan origin.


The Yellow King Roleplaying Game takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines, pitting characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. When read, this suppressed play invites madness, and remolds our world into a colony of the alien planet Carcosa. Four core books, served up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront layers with an epic journey into horror in four alternate-reality settings: Belle Epoque Paris, The Wars, Aftermath, and This Is Normal Now. Purchase The Yellow King Roleplaying Game in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

In the present COVID-19 crisis, many of us, myself included, have canceled our in-person roleplaying sessions to comply with social distancing or shelter-in-place public health regimes across the world.

This Thursday, after a hiatus, I’ll be switching my in-person game to remote. (I’ve just started “Canadian Shield”, an extremely variant Fall of Delta Green series.)

As more tips and tricks for remote play come up I’ll share them with you here on the Pelgrane site. Let’s get started, though, with what I’ve learned during previous forays into online tabletop.

1. Use the platform you already know.

Everyone who has already racked up extensive remote play experience expresses a preference for a particular combo of tools for video conferencing and the virtual play space.

For video, Discord, Zoom, Google Hangouts and to a lesser extent Skype all have their adherents. Each brings its own set of pluses and minuses. In the end your choice of video app may depend on the quirks of each player’s device setup. You may wind up shuffling through a bunch of them before you find the one that happens to function for your entire group.

As far as play spaces go, Roll20 already has resources for 13th Age and GUMSHOE. We’ve just added DramaSystem.

If you’re already familiar with a video conferencing app and/or virtual tabletop, skip the learning curve and use that. It works; don’t fix it.

2. If you haven’t done this before, I prefer Google Hangouts and Slack.

Google Hangouts hasn’t let me down yet. It’s free, and pretty seamlessly handles switching to the person currently speaking. That’s the most important feature of a video app for game play and it does it well. Google has announced that they’re ending this service soon, but if I understand their PR correctly, what they’re actually doing is rebranding their video chat to sound more business-friendly. Google can hook you on a service and then whip it out from under you like a rug, but I’m guessing that we’re safe when this one changes to its new incarnation. I wouldn’t bet on that happening according to its original timetable, either.

For GUMSHOE and DramaSystem, I use as my virtual tabletop a tool not remotely designed for that, the group project messaging platform, Slack. It is a platform I use for other purposes every day and know how to use. I already use it for face-to-face when running The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, having found it the best solution for serving electronic Shock and Injury Cards. When teaching that system I upload a card image to the game’s main channel so everyone can feel its horror. I also drop the cards to each player, in our private message inbox. When they discard cards, I delete them from the private message inbox, so that it contains only the cards currently held.

Maps, images, and other handouts I upload to the main channel as well.

Slack’s advantage over its competitors in its category lies in its ease of use. A newbie can immediately figure out its simple and intuitive interface.

I’d use Slack for any game that relies primarily on dialogue and description, which describes both GUMSHOE and DramaSystem.

In fact I’d probably use it to run 13th Age. I don’t use a battlemap when running that in person, so wouldn’t bother with one in remote play either.

A game that does require a tactical map will naturally push you toward one of the purpose built virtual tabletops. These all have to handle D&D and Pathfinder. If you’re playing a game of that crunchiness online you’ve bought into the extra handling cost.

3. Leave in the Socializing.

Especially now, much of the point of an online game is to feel the connectedness we might ordinarily seek out around a table, at a con, or in a game cafe. The formality of the online experience might tempt you to cut right away to the case. You may know each other less well, or not at all, if playing online. Even so, give everybody time to chat a bit before getting started.

4. Expect a shorter session.

Though this varies for every group, in general the online meeting format promotes an efficiency you may find yourself envying when you return to face-to-face. Video conferencing requires participants to be conscious of who has the floor at any given moment. It reduces crosstalk and kibitzing. People used to conducting real meetings on video tend to step up to help guide the discussion and move toward problem-solving. The software does a good bit of your traffic management as GM for you.

For this reason you’ll find that remote play eats up story faster than a leisurely in-person session. The pace of any given episode more closely resembles the tighter concentration typical of a con game group that has found its rhythm. Your group will likely decide what to do faster, and then go and do it with fewer side tangents, than they would at your regular home table.

When this happens, you may find yourself wondering if you shouldn’t add more plot to keep your ending further away from your beginning. Instead, embrace this as the dynamic operating as it should. If it takes you three hours to hit five or six solid scenes, where in person it would take four, that’s a good thing.

5. Expect a more taxing session.

In addition to respecting the pace your session wants to have, you should aim for shorter sessions because the experience of gaming remotely takes more out of you, and each of your players, than face-to-face will.

Many of you will be sitting in less comfortable chairs than you’re used to being in. Those with home offices may already have been in those chairs for an entire work day already.

The concentration required to pay attention to people on video conferencing taxes the brain more than face-to-face. You’re trying to assimilate the same amount of communication from one another with fewer cues to work with. This tires any group, physically and mentally. Expect that and pace your game accordingly.

When you see a time-consuming setpiece sequence coming up, check the clock to see if you’ll be able to do it full justice given these constraints. Never be reluctant to knock off early and leave folks wanting more next time you all join up.

6: For Slack, use the Dicebot app.

To return to a platform-specific point, the Dicebot Slack app allows any participant to roll dice right in the channel. It easily does the d6 plus spend modifier for GUMSHOE. It inherently reminds players to announce their pool point spends before rolling, another neat advantage over physical dice.

Speaking of games that scorn the battlemap, Dicebot also handles the more complicated positive d6 + negative d6 + modifier roll seen in Feng Shui.

7. Whatever the platform, use a dice app if you players can possibly be coaxed into it.

Some players need that tactile dice-touching fix. I wouldn’t force online rolling on them, but having rolls take place visually in front of everyone does enhance their emotional impact by allowing everyone to see and react to the results.

Dice provide suspense . A die roller, in whatever platform, shares that edge of the seat moment when you see who succeeds and who’s about to take a Shock card.

8. Use a shared Google Doc for note-taking.

Since they’re all on a device anyhow, encourage your players to contribute to the group chronicle by setting up a shared Google Doc. Gussy it up with a graphic touch or two to build tone and theme.

9. Keep online versions of character sheets.

You’d think players won’t lose paper character sheets if they’re not leaving the house, but of course we misplace stuff in our own places all the time.

For GUMSHOE, the highly recommended Black Book app does all of the work of keeping online character sheets for you. It has just extended its trial period for player accounts.

Absent a specific tool, keep updated character sheets in a Dropbox folder or, for games where characters are simple as they are in DramaSystem, in a Google Sheet. I’ve done this for my “Canadian Shield” game.

Stay tuned for more tips. I look forward to the day when I can update this post to remove references to the pandemic as a current event. Until then, stay safe and, as much as you possibly can, the hell inside.

The BORELLUS CONNECTION manuscript was too nightmarish and vast to be constrained by any binding our printer could conceive; therefore, we were obliged to remove some material from the book. It’s preserved here as a series of Page XX articles. As Orne’s mysterious correspondent in Philadelphia warned us, “no Part must be missing if the finest Effects are to be had”; therefore, we have categorised these cuttings as FINEST EFFECTS.

All materials tagged FINEST EFFECTS are Handler’s Eyes Only – prospective players of the Borellus Connection campaign are instructed not to read these articles.

Operation SECOND LOOK originally opened up with an action scene where the player characters accompany the Italian police to intercept a suspected drug shipment. It all goes poorly, but interrogating the smugglers leads into the drug-deal subplot in Beirut. For reasons of space, this scene was cut and the leads moved to a more conventional briefing – however, if you want to give players a taste of day-to-day Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs activities, give run this scene before the initial briefing scene, When The Boat Comes In.

Torre San Giovanni is a small fishing village in the heel of Italy, about thirty miles south of the city of Lecce. It’s a sleepy, picturesque little place, named for the 16thcentury tower that watches over the harbor. Fishing and olive groves make up most of the local economy.

According to information from a BNDD informant in Turkey, the Unione Corse intend to bring a shipment of morphine base ashore here tonight. The smugglers are using a small fishing boat, one of dozens that work along the shore here. The informant claims the Unione Corse will transfer the morphine from a large freighter to the fishing boat at sea, and then bring it ashore, where it’ll be collected by a Unione Corse courier to bring it to Marseille.

The BNDD plan is to let the transfer go ahead, and wait until the fishing boat gets to the shore, in the hopes of intercepting both the fishermen and the courier. There’s an Italian coast guard ship standing by to stop the freighter at sea.

The players get to run the shore-side ambush. They don’t know who the courier is – presumably, it’ll be a truck or other vehicle to carry the packages of morphine base. They don’t know which fishing boat it is – there are a dozen boats coming in that evening. And they need to keep undercover until the jaws of the trap close, to ensure any watchers in the town don’t signal a warning to the fishing boat. In addition to the Agents, they’ve got a dozen eager local policeofficers at their disposal.

Let the players come up with whatever ambush plan they wish.

The night wears on. The heat of the day fades as the waters of the Ionian sea lap on the beach. Most of the fishing boats won’t come back until dawn, and as the sky begins to lighten in the east, a few locals come down to the docks to wait for the returning boats and help landing the cache. If the Agents aren’t carefully hidden, call for a Conceal or Disguise test (Difficulty 4) from the most obviously suspicious Agent; if the test fails, there’s some whispering and muttering from the workers assembled on the shore as they realise something’s amiss.

One by one, the boats come in.

  • 1-point Notice spend: A light flashes out at sea – and a moment later, there’s an answering flash from the hills above the town.

Then, a car – a new one, big and black – comes down the road at speed and pulls up at the pier as the fishing boat Pierro approaches.

If the Agents hold back, the transfer goes ahead in the most obvious fashion ever – two bales of contraband get hauled out of the cabin of the Pierro and loaded into the trunk of the car. One of the men from the car opens one bale and hands out free packets of cigarettes to everyone standing around the dock as a bribe to stay quiet.

The Raid

There are two men in the car, and another four on board Pierro. They’re all small-time cigarette smugglers, bringing in cheap Turkish cigarettes to avoid import duty (they also deal in small amounts of heroin). If the Agents have a solid plan for the ambush, it all goes smoothly; otherwise, it gets messy. The pair in the car (Paulo Sciarra and Vito Adami) attempt to drive off, while the four on the boat either try to flee on foot across the beach, or cast off from the pier and return to sea. The initial assumption of the criminals is that they’ve been ambushed by a rival gang; if the players flash badges and shout that they’re cops – and spend a point of Intimidation, Languages or Agency– they can convince the criminals not to fight back. Otherwise, throw in foot or car chases and/or brawls to taste.

If Sciarra and Adami manage to escape in their car, then move the core clue about the Beirut deal to the fishermen.

Aftermath

At first, it all looks like a debacle driven by bad information – dozens of cops, the Guardia de Finanza and the American BNDD, all for what? A few hundred packets of cigarettes? The Unione Corse must be laughing at them. There’s lots of shouting, finger-pointing, and arguments over who is to blame for this farce. The player characters can get involved (making a show of support for the BNDD is worth a 2-point Bureaucracy pool of favours), or keep their heads down and keep working.

  • A thorough search of the fishing boat Pierro discovers (Conceal test, Difficulty 4) a hidden compartment in the bilges. There’s a scrap of plastic wrap snagged on a loose screw, and Chemistry or Pharmacy discovers it tests positive for morphine base – there’s no heroin on the boat now.
  • There’s a small amount of heroin in the car, enough to charge Sciarra and Adami as dealers (they supply heroin to tourists in Lecce and Brindisi).
  • The freighter is clean, although some of the crew admit under questioning that they smuggled cigarettes out of Turkey and threw them down to the Pierro when it passed nearby.

Questioning the Prisoners

Interrogation of the fishermendiscovers the following:

  • They’re not part of any organized crime – just a few local crooks.
  • They admit that they’ve helped bring heroin ashore before, but didn’t ask any questions.
  • 1-point Interrogation spend(or using the discovery of the smuggling compartment as a leveraged clue): When they brought heroin ashore, it was from a different freighter, the SS Invicta.
    • Traffic Analysisand some research: The SS Invicta is at sea; she departed Marseille a few days ago and is en route to Beirut with a cargo of machine parts.
  • A 1-point spend of Reassurance, Streetwise or Negotiation gets the name of a friend of one of the fisherman, a pal who lives in Beirut and knows the city’s underworld – Ghasif Saad. Ghasif is a free network contact (see Local Contacts,p. XX)

Interrogation of Sciarra and Adami yields more useful information:

  • They’re small-time heroin dealers.
  • They’ve heard that there’s a war brewing within the Unione Corse, a struggle to see who becomes caïd (godfather) of the Corsican mafia.
    • A 1-point Streetwise spend identifies some possible contenders – the Francesci clan, the Guerinis, the Venturis – but the rules of omertáwithin the Unione Corse are strong, and those inside the organisation don’t speak to those outside. It’s entirely possible that such a war has been going on for years.
  • Core clue: They’ve also heard that there’s a big heroin deal coming down. It’s happening in Beirut. They don’t know any more.
    • HUMINT: They’re trying to pass off rumour and scuttlebutt as genuine inside information; this alleged big deal in Beirut might be nothing.

 

In the latest episode of their multi-layered podcast, Ken and Robin talk narrative voices in RPG play, Whitey Bulger & MK-ULTRA, curse tablets, and Oswald Wirth & Stanislas de Guaita.

The BORELLUS CONNECTION manuscript was too nightmarish and vast to be constrained by any binding our printer could conceive; therefore, we were obliged to remove some material from the book. It’s preserved here as a series of Page XX articles. As Orne’s mysterious correspondent in Philadelphia warned us, “no Part must be missing if the finest Effects are to be had”; therefore, we have categorised these cuttings as FINEST EFFECTS.

All materials tagged FINEST EFFECTS are Handler’s Eyes Only – prospective players of the Borellus Connection campaign are instructed not to read these articles.

Over the course of the Borellus Connection, the players come into contact with the outer fringes of Orne’s criminal network, and follow the connections until they reach Orne himself. If the players follow the clues in individual missions without realising the wider context, they’ll get to that terrible confrontation at the end of the campaign. However, ambitious players may wish to investigate the network between operations. Orne’s paranoia about detection means that digging up clues is extremely difficult – witnesses disappear, safehouses vanish overnight, arrested crooks either keep silent or die mysteriously in prison – but you can use these background investigations to foreshadow upcoming elements of the campaign (“you pick up a rumour about some German gunman called de Kleist who shot up a Turkish smuggling ring a few years ago – he may be connected to Orne”) or give the players alternate entry vectors to operations.

Another possible line of inquiry is the mostly-defunct Order of Almousin-Metraton, the occult secret society of necromancers.

Investigating the Network

Accounting: The French Connection launders its profits in Nassau, then deposits them in accounts in Switzerland and Lebanon. When Orne needs to spend his drug money to further his occult research or bodysnatching schemes, he either gets an advance from local drug lords (“give my servant two thousand dollars now, and I’ll ensure you get an added heroin shipment straight from Marseile next month”), or taps his funds in the Lebanese banks. Accounting can follow the money.

Criminology identifies the various gangs and criminal syndicates with their fingers in the opium trade, giving clues about local groups who might be involved in Orne’s schemes. Combined with Streetwise, it’s good for gathering rumours about shadowy players and sinister, occult-tinged enforcers like Charrière.

Pharmacy can be used to test heroin purity. Most heroin, even before it’s cut for sale, reaches only 70% purity; the French Connection’s old chemist, Joseph Cesari, was known as ‘Mr. 98%’ for his exceedingly good product. Orne, if he put his mind to it, could do even better, but he often experiments with his product (see Essential Smack, p. XX), so a purity of around 90% indicates Orne-made junk.

Traffic Analysis lets the Agents track drug shipments; they can guess how often shipments are made, trace legitimate chemical purchasers, work out when local jugglers will run out of product and have to obtain more from distributors, or correlate international arrivals with sudden activity in the distribution network, giving clues about the smuggling methods used by the network.

Investigating the Order

Art or Archaeology spots old signs of the Order in places. Portraits of scholars or great thinkers might have the distinctive A/M sigil hidden somewhere in the painting, or scratched on their tombs. (If the ascending node is slightly larger, that indicates that the subject was once an initiate of the Order. If the descending node is larger, the subject’s saltes were taken by a Brother and are available for trade.)

Architecture can identify common traits that recur, regardless of the local style of building or the age of the structure – extensive underground cellars, drains for disposal of failed experiments, secret doors, star-windows in high attic rooms.

Occult recalls rumours of a secret society that’s supposed to include every famous mind in history as members.

  • The society’s ultimate goal is, depending on the writer, to uncover the secrets of the past, to achieve union with God, or to bring about future enlightenment

Traffic Analysis orCriminology applied to the above clues concludes that the Order of Almousin-Metatron consists of at least two groups – low-ranking hangers-on and associates who operate on a purely local level, but copy the symbols and rituals of the Order to proclaim how connected they are, and an inner higher-ranking cabal that doesn’t need to show off as much.

 

 

The BORELLUS CONNECTION manuscript was too nightmarish and vast to be constrained by any binding our printer could conceive; therefore, we were obliged to remove some material from the book. It’s preserved here as a series of Page XX articles. As Orne’s mysterious correspondent in Philadelphia warned us, “no Part must be missing if the finest Effects are to be had”; therefore, we have categorised these cuttings as FINEST EFFECTS.

All materials tagged FINEST EFFECTS are Handler’s Eyes Only – prospective players of the Borellus Connection campaign are instructed not to read these articles. 

The ultimate target of the Agents’ investigation in The Borellus Connection is the necromancer Simon Orne. His background is described in the introduction to the campaign – here’s a more detailed timeline of his movements and activities across history.

1649: Born in Salem.

1652: His father John Orne purchases a farm near the village.

1662: Birth of Joseph Curwen in Salem-Village

1680: Joins congregation headed by the preacher George Burroughs, later hanged a witch. Another member of the congregation is Edwin Hutchinson, a local landowner (and necromancer).

1683: Burroughs departs Salem for Maine, ostensibly over a dispute about payment.

1686: Curwen returns from his travels overseas and becomes a close friend of Hutchinson and Orne.

1690: They make a breakthrough in the woods behind Hutchinson’s house: they successfully invoke Nyarlathotep in his mask of the Black Man, and through him established communion with Yog-Sothoth in the form of ‘Umr at-Tawil, “the Prolonged of Life.” From that point, none of the members of the circle seem to age.

1692: The Salem Witch trials. Orne is named as a witch by Hepzibah Lawson and Amity How in 1692, but escapes prosecution – either his case is dismissed for lack of evidence, or he co-operates with the authorities, trading information for leniency. His master in the coven, George Burroughs, is arrested in Maine and hanged in Salem. Other members of the coven flee – “G” to Philadelphia, Edwin Hutchinson to Transylvania, Joseph Curwen to Providence, Rhode Island.

1710-1719: Orne’s failure to grow visibly old draws attention in Salem.

1720: Orne leaves Salem and travels to Europe. He puts his property in the town into the care of trusted servants, although they are enjoined not to visit the house by the woods – the former home of Edwin Hutchison, later purchased by Orne in 1705.

1723: Orne is initiated into the Order of Almousin-Metraton in Malta.

1730: Orne travels briefly to Philadelphia to participate in the opening of the first Freemason’s Lodge in America.

1731: In Egypt, Orne is involved in the murder of the ruling Sheikh al-Balad, as part of a scheme to seize control of certain tombs under the city. Orne spends six years living in the City of the Dead outside Cairo.

1750: “Jedediah” Orne returns to Salem, claiming to be Simon’s son. He provides documents in his “father”’s hand, attesting to his ownership of the properties in Salem.

1751: Joseph Curwen writes a letter to ‘Simon’, describing a ritual to invoke Yog-Sothoth in order to affect future destiny, ensuring that of his “seede of Olde shal one be borne who shal looke Back, tho’ know’g not what he seekes’.

1771: Letters from Providence citizens (likely the ones who attacked Joseph Curwen’s farm) to Rev. Thomas Barnard of Salem arouse more suspicions about Orne.

Orne flees to Baltimore, adopts the name ‘Isaac Pelham’.

1780: Eager to avoid suspicion, Orne becomes involved with a circle of physicians and chemists in the Baltimore area. He redoubles investments in shipping and real estate in the city, and contributes handsomely to the building of public buildings including Baltimore’s courthouse and city hall.

1807: The “Doctor’s Riot”, A mob burns down a private anatomical theatre operated by Dr. John Beale Davidge.

1827: Aided by money from Orne, the Washington Medical College opens, despite objections from the rival University of Maryland Medical school.

1830s: Demand for cadavers in Baltimore rises; an infamous grave-robber known as Frank the Spade becomes well known for his ghoulish talents.

1833: The college moves to new facilities opposite city hall. Tunnels under the city are said to be used to move bodies unseen.

1835: The college’s founder, Dr. Horatio Gates Jameson, departs for Cincinnati. Enrolment numbers at the college decline precipitously; oddly, the rate at which corpses are stolen continues to increase.

1840s: Orne invests in Philadelphia’s burgeoning fertiliser and chemical industries.

1851: The college closes; two years later, a mob attempts to burn down the derelict building, claiming that the devil haunts the building’s cellars.

1853: Orne leaves Baltimore, travelling to Cairo. He digs something up from an incorrectly marked tomb; when resurrected, it attacks him, scarring his face. Wounded, he flees to Prague.

1854: Orne purchases a house at Kleinstrasse 11 in the Altstadt, establishing an identity as “Josef Nadek”. He regularly corresponds with Edwin Hutchinson, who continues to reside in Transylvania as “Count Ferenczy”. He becomes quietly influential in various occult and Masonic circles. Graverobbings in Prague’s cemeteries increase.

1860: Orne establishes new branches of the Order of Almousin-Metraton in Prague, Munich and Paris.

1924: Charles Dexter Ward visits Orne before travelling on to Transylvania.

1925: Through his criminal contacts Paul Carbone and Francois Spirito, Orne imports mummies and other relics from Egypt.

1928: Orne’s house is totally wrecked in a single night by Ógafracoth. “Nadek” flees, leading the creature away from Orne’s secret laboratory that still survives in Prague.

Castle Ferenczy is destroyed in a titan explosion.

1929: Orne establishes himself in Munich, using his Masonic contacts to arrange the purchase of an old house where he recreates his Prague laboratory. He secretly maintains the Prague lab, intending to return there when circumstances permit.

1930: Paul Carbone and Francois Spirito employ genius chemist Joseph Cesari to produce heroin from a secret lab in Marseille.

1935: Riots and Nazi Party condemnation of occult lodges and Freemasonry impel Orne to flee Munich for Marseille, where he has contacts from his days as a merchant trader. He advises Joseph Cesari on pharmaceutical techniques. Orne adopts the name “Jacques Vènice,” vènicemeaning “scar” in Corsican.

1937: Orne establishes a new branch of the Order of Almousin-Metraton in Marseille.

1942: Orne quarrels with his business partners for their collaboration with the Nazis, and switches allegiance to the Guérini crime family. He deploys his Custodes to kill collaborators for the Brutus network of the French resistance, building up credit with the victorious allies to ensure he’s protected after the war.

1953: Establishment of the “French Connection”, linking the Turkish opium trade to the United States drugs market.

Orne returns to Baltimore as “Edwin Pelham” and purchases the site of his former residence.

1964: Unione Corse chemist Joseph Cesari is arrested; the Guérinis demand that Orne take over as lead chemist. Orne agrees, but secretly uses Unione Corse connections to pursue his worship of Yog-Sothoth.

Previous Entries