The Eyes of a Stranger

Victorian Horror. A fashionable London party, a murder in mysterious circumstances...

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The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Rooter » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:13 am

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Mr. J. Bidwell requests the pleasure of your company at an evening party on Thursday, the 15th of May, at eight o'clock. R.S.V.P.

The invitation, hand-delivered to your London address that morning in 1890, is a notable one. A party is to take place tomorrow evening at the Blenheim Terrace residence of Mr. John Bidwell, a party heralded as the social event of the season, and no one of any social standing would dare to miss it.

Mr. Bidwell, of course, is known throughout London as a wealthy entrepreneur involved in shipping and industry in Britain and its colonies. He is also something of an adventurer, and has visited America, the Orient, and Australia. Unmarried, he is a well-educated man in his early fifties, known for his keen mind and sharp wit, and has many wealthy and powerful friends, including members of the royal family.

Bidwell has, however, been conspicuously absent from society for some time. Rumor has it that he was suffering from an exotic illness and was confined to a hospital until recently.

How will you respond to the invitation? Will you attend the party?

Everyone:
Spoiler:
OOC:   You may make a Know roll at 1/4 (reduce your Know score to a quarter, rounding down) to determine if you know more about the rumors concerning Bidwell's absence from society.  
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby HoneyDog » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:13 pm

Ann Veronica is pleasantly surprised to receive the invitation at her hotel in the Strand, where she stays when visiting London. She knows of Bidwell due to her contacts in the shipping industry in the Medway Towns, which must be how he has heard of her. Perhaps he wants a portrait? She would certainly be glad to meet such an influential man. Thinking about him, actually she doesn't really know that much. What are those rumours of illness about? She hopes its not serious, if true. But if it was, why would he be having a party?

She sits down at the desk in her room to write her acceptance of the invitation. Now all she needs to do is to find something suitable to wear…

Spoiler:
Knowledge at 1/4 13: Know: 1d100 75
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Mister Ginge » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:33 pm

Bidwell? Now where have I heard that name? Cecil shakes his head and returns to his newspaper while sipping a brandy in his favourite corner of the Reform Club.

Spoiler:
Know = 60 (15)
Mister Ginge rolled 1d100:
91
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Pastiche » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:46 pm

James was going through his morning post. "Bills, bills, more bills, ... ." He sighed. "Wait, that one is not a bill. An invitation from John Bidwell?" His first instinct was to decline, as he probably was not very good company at the moment. However, perhaps an evening out might be exactly what he needed? And if he was quite honest, the fact that his old friend was swimming in money also helped to convince him. Ashamed, he pushed that thought away and started to pen a reply to accept the invitation.

Spoiler:
OOC:   Know 1/4: 23
Pastiche rolled 1d100:
35
 
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Victoria Silverwolf » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:15 pm

Spoiler:
1/4 KNOW = 23
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d100:
17


Gordon remembers stories about Mister John Bidwell, no doubt from a visit the great man paid to Canada some time ago. Yes, there was something about his illness . . .

In any case, this would be a perfect opportunity to meet other illustrious captains of industry, in the hope of securing a good position. And no doubt there will be interesting ladies present as well. He just hopes he won't seem too provincial.

Gordon accepts with pleasure.
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Mr. Handy » Tue Jun 20, 2017 5:12 am

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Diane Siddons is surprised to receive the letter from Bidwell at her boarding house. He must have seen me perform, she thinks. Why else would he invite me? In any event, it was an opportunity not to be missed. She'd never been invited to anything so important. Perhaps she could borrow an elegant costume from the theatre, for she didn't possess anything worthy of the party.

Spoiler:
Know roll (65 / 4 = 16% stat) about Bidwell:
Mr. Handy rolled 1d100:
90
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Priest » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:51 am

Absolom Peredue Somerhayes

How odd, thinks Absalom as he opens the invitation over his breakfast, why would a gentleman such as Mr Bidwell invite him to a party? As far as he can recollect he has never met Mr Bidwell and it is most unlikely that he, a humble servant of the Church, would have been recommended to such an illustrious person. It can only be, his thoughts continuing over another slice of hot buttered toast, something to do with the Church itself, perhaps Mr Bidwell is in need of an educated recorder of events with a knowledge of Latin and ecclesiastic text. He finishes the last piece of toast and delicately wipes his greasy fingers on a napkin, looking up as Mrs Hodges, his aged housekeeper, enters the room in search of dishes. “Ah Mrs Hodges, please have young Walter come to my study. I have a note of acceptance for him to carry”...

Spoiler:
Know Roll - 12: 1d100 82
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Rooter » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:01 pm

Gordon McKerry:
Spoiler:
Through a chance interaction you know the truth behind the rumors: that Bidwell had been confined not in a hospital, but in Albrooke Asylum, northwest of London in Mercy Hill, Gloucester, his influential friends keeping his mental collapse quiet.
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Rooter » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:05 pm

Image

A light, damp fog descends on the city on the night of Bidwell's party. The gaslamps flicker along the streets and the clatter of hooves and carriages echo in the clammy night air. Big Ben chimes ominously in the foggy distance.

Several carriages already stand waiting when you arrive at Bidwell's residence in Blenheim Terrace in the fashionable district of St. John's Wood. Groups of hackney-coachmen cluster under gaslamps, their forms silhouetted in the fog, and a warm glow emanates from the house where London's elite have gathered. Upon showing your invitation, a doorman announces your arrival.

"Miss Ann Veronica Poole!"

"Mr. Gordon McKerry!"

"Professor James Powell!"

"Reverend Absalom Peredue Somerhayes!"

"Mr. Cecil Copeland!"

"Miss Diane Siddons!"

You are shown into the ballroom of Bidwell's mansion. Serving-men in formal attire pass trays of champagne, while chefs serve food from an enormous buffet. The music of a string quartet hangs above the clatter and chatter of the revelers who mingle, eat, drink, and dance. Silver trays, champagne glasses, and jewelry sparkle in the soothing glow of gas-lit chandeliers. The wealthy and influential of London are everywhere.

You are free to mingle, enjoy the party and perhaps make some new acquaintances, or renew old ones.

Everyone:
Spoiler:
OOC:   You may make both a Know and a Credit Rating roll to determine which of the eminent guests in attendance you can identify. Whether you are previously acquainted with your fellow investigators or meeting here for the first time is up to you.  
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Pastiche » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:02 pm

James.png


Spoiler:
OOC:   Know: 95
Pastiche rolled 1d100:
53

Credit rating: 15
Pastiche rolled 1d100:
8
 


James was nervously scanning the crowd. Between all these wealthy and powerful, he felt as much at home as a pickled onion in a fruit salad. After wandering through the ball room for a while, he finally spotted a familiar face in the crowd. Cecil Copeland, the antiquarian with whom he shared a passion for history. They had spent many fine evenings discussing all matters historical over a glass of port, but their last meeting was already a while back, from before Julia had fallen ill.

"Cecil, good to see you here! How's your book coming along, old friend?"
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby HoneyDog » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:05 pm

Ann Veronica decided that it was worth spending a little money in order to attract attention for this event. If she can get some new clients for her portraits, the dress, which accentuates her figure, is sure to catch the notice of the various gentlemen in attendance. After all, in her experience, they are not so interested in her mind.

As she sips her champagne, she scans the guests for faces that she is familiar with, looking to work her charms. This party is far more exclusive than what she would find back home. Better make the most of it! She is a relative pauper though, compared to some of these people. It will put her at a disadvantage no doubt.


Spoiler:
Know 55: Know: 1d100 12
Credit Rating 30: Credit Rating: 1d100 93
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Priest » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:31 pm

Absolom Peredue Somerhayes

Absalom, dressed in his finest broadcloth suit and sporting a fine new collar purchased especially for the occasion, looks around at the assemblage. Noting some of the foremost figures of London society. Refusing a glass of champagne, unlike his more severe brethren he did occasionally indulge in a glass of wine, but of late his breathing complaint had been overly active and he had been assured by his physician that alcohol, of any type, would inflame the symptoms, he moved to a position where he could observe the attendees, hoping perhaps that he might spot a familiar face.
At the mention of the name, Miss Dianne Siddons, a hint of recognition crossed his mind. Dianne Siddons? Was that not the name of the up and coming young actress who had so recently charmed the Bishop of Southwark with her portrayal of Joan of Arc in a recent performance? With that thought he began moving towards the young lady hoping that he wasn’t about to make a fool of himself.

Spoiler:
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Victoria Silverwolf » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:46 am

Spoiler:
Gordon will keep what he knows about Mister Bidwell to himself. Poor chap, there's no shame in suffering from nervous collapse. He'll try to be especially pleasant to the fellow.

KNOW = 95
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d100:
55

CR = 25%
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d100:
61


Gordon doesn't recognize any of the guests who have recently been announced, which isn't surprising, being new to this country. He decides to mingle at random, particularly if there happens to be an unattended lady who seems to be in search of company.

Spoiler:
successful Know but failed credit rating -- does that mean I don't recognize anybody, or I recognize somebody of a lower class?
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Mr. Handy » Wed Jun 21, 2017 4:25 am

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Diane is amazed that she is able to recognize many of the esteemed guests, and even more amazed to find that quite a few of them seem to know who she is. For an actress just starting out, it seems she is already building a good reputation for herself, which will no doubt be bolstered by being seen in such company. She is glad she was able to borrow a fancy dress she had worn when playing Juliet, for nothing she could afford would have suited this occasion. She does not know the guests who had entered shortly before her, but at least one of them recognizes her and is currently approaching. She greets Absolom with a curtsy and a smile. "Good evening, sir," she says. "How do you do?"

Spoiler:
Know roll (65% stat) at the party:
Mr. Handy rolled 1d100:
12

Credit Rating roll (10% base skill) at the party:
Mr. Handy rolled 1d100:
3
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Mister Ginge » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:08 am

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Spoiler:
Know - 60
Mister Ginge rolled 1d100:
48

CR- 55
Mister Ginge rolled 1d100:
68


"Ah James, a familiar face! I'm so glad to see you again. It's been too long. Please forgive me for not getting in touch sooner dear chap, but research and the book, you know how it is..." Cecil tails off. He is aware of the passing of Julia and is terribly embarrassed that he didn't contact his friend sooner. His research has been taking up all his time, but this no excuse and he must try to make amends.

"I was very sorry to hear about Julia, old friend. You must come and visit me in Wiltshire. We have a lot of catching up to do and it would be pleasure to have you as a guest." Cecil looks around awkwardly. " I'm afraid I haven't been to anything like this for a while. Feel like a fish out of water to be honest. Any idea who this Bidwell fellow is? I haven't the foggiest."
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Rooter » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:47 am

Spoiler:
OOC:   In answer to Victoria's question, a success in either roll is sufficient to identify the eminent guests; it appears all the investigators have been successful.  
Among the party guests are government officials, businessmen, and celebrated artists and writers. Unusually, also among the guests are numerous members of London's spiritual and occult community.

You identify Henry Matthews, the Home Secretary; Major Henry Smith, Commissioner of the City of London Police; Annie Beasant of the Theosophical Society; Florence Farr and Dr. William Wynn Wescott of the Golden Dawn; Robert James Lees, official psychic to the court of Queen Victoria; the celebrated psychic Godfrey Williamson; wealthy shipping magnate Nigel Stander; the retired Col. Albert Hardwicke; authors Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, and H.G. Wells; actor Henry Irving and his frequent leading lady, Ellen Terry; and artists Walter Sickert and Aubrey Beardsley.

Nowhere, it seems, is the evening's host.
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Pastiche » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:20 pm

James.png

"Thank you for your sympathies, Cecil. Don't worry about not getting in touch, I know what it's like... I'd be glad to take you up on your offer! A ramble across the Salisbury plain might be just what I need. Nothing like looking at some old ruins to put the problems of the present into perspective, eh? "

James grabs a glass of champagne from one of the waiters, and puts it to his lips, taking a rather unceremonious gulp as opposed to a polite sip.

"Anyway, talking about Bidwell, I know him since a long time, but I haven't seem him in many years. That was all before he became the rich and famous man he is now. It's quite peculiar that he is not around to greet his guests, though..."
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby HoneyDog » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:53 pm

Ann Veronica recognises HG Wells. He's a funny-looking fellow, but his ideas intrigue her. He seems a bit more open-minded towards the female sex too. Perhaps he’d like to hear the tale of an independent young woman named Ann Veronica…
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Mr. Handy » Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:49 am

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Diane notes the presence of Henry Irving and Ellen Terry with pleasure. They are far better actors then she, but her invitation makes more sense now that she has seen them as well as authors and artists. She feels unworthy to be compared to them, though she hopes she has the potential to one day be so well regarded. She is also keen to meet them, and she hopes she'll have the opportunity this evening.
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Re: The Eyes of a Stranger

Postby Priest » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:34 am

Absolom Peredue Somerhayes

“And a good evening to you Miss” A momentary catch in his breathing causes him to cover his mouth with a poker dot handkerchief that looks slightly at odds with the sombre cast of his attire. “Forgive me a longstanding disorder I’m afraid”, his apologetic smile attempts to disguise the obvious discomfort he feels, the handkerchief disappears within his jacket pocket, “I recognised your name from a recent conversation with the Bishop of Southwark. An inveterate theatre goer he marked you for great things”. Absolom chokes slightly but manages to control his breathing, something troubles him, “Cigar smoke” he offers as an explanation, along with a further smile, “Foul habit, should be banned in enclosed spaces”.

Absolom can tell from the way her eyes sweep around the guests that there are those invited which might be of more interest to this young, beautiful actress than an uninspiring member of the clergy...
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