Down Cthulhu, The Occult Wars
The King in Yellow
New Year’s Eve, 1889
At the Adventurer’s Club meeting that began the campaign, Paul, Rick, Percy and Covington receive invites to a performance of a play titled The King in Yellow at the home mansion of its writer and star, Anthony Carmichael, on the night of New Year’s Eve. They arrive at the before-party, food, drink, mingling and the like. After talking to many in attendance, it becomes known to us that a great number of those invited are people with whom the host could have an axe to grind: former actors and actresses who have moved on from him, reviewers who gave him less than glowing press… It piques our alertness.
Percy meets 2 identical twin sisters who are performers in the play: Faith and Silvia Morganstern. Blonde, beautiful, 27 years old but very creepy, a glimmer of imbalance in their eyes. Rumors they really only love each other. Percy is led upstairs with them for some ‘fun’ though Sam and Rick warn him otherwise. He tells later that they were kinky in the extreme, to say the least.
While he is gone, Rick and Paul spot an odd sight in the crowd. A hunched, cloaked and hooded figure wearing a wooden mask. He would appear then disappear only to reappear on the other side of the room. We then spotted him upstairs on the overlook and followed, only to end at a dead end hallway with no sign of him. When we return to the overlook, we see him back in the audience. Paul and Rick head back down and inform Sam, but he is lost again.
There is the lights off game of hide and seek, where murder strikes. While hiding, we hear scream, which draws us out. A lot of feeling around in the dark leads to the discovery of several dead guests, including a couple named Baranof shot in the back of the head. At the scene of one, we hear a flapping outside on a small balcony. Opening it, Paul sees a shadowy winged figure above him fly off. Also, in a study upstairs we find a candle to light and find a copy of the play itself which we take but do not open. Something desperately wrong here.
Back downstairs, we open door and see police outside, but they act as if nothing is amiss despite our cries. The door is blocked by an invisible barrier. Turning we see the Carmichael, then our light goes out. We head through a hall and find nothing, then hear a noise from the theater. We make our way there and see that the play has started and the crowd is stairing mindlessly at the performance. The twins are on stage as the host enters the scene. The figure in the wooden mask walks out of a corner and stands between us and the stage. A melee begins between him Covington. Paul and Percy begin pulling people out of the crowd and into the foyer. Rick runs past the fight with woodface and leaps onstage to break up the performance. He is attacked by the host and his freakish bitches with whom he battles fiercely until Rick is able to knock Carmichael off the stage. (Did he die of just Ko’d? Disappear afterward? Did the twins flee or does Rick fight them and kill/capture as well?) Meanwhile, The King in Yellow, he in the wooden mask, is ripping into Covington who has engaged him in good old fashion fisticuffs, blissfully oblivious to what it is he is actually facing. Covington yells “Percy my good man, kindly assist me would you old boy? I’m quite the worse for it?” Percy then runs to his best friend’s aid and joins the fight, and just in the nick of time while Paul continues pulling people out. Wooden face then grapples Covington as swirling black gate of chaos opens above them in midair. Woodface begins to rise to the whole with Covington in tow, but Percy saves him with a miraculously victorious opposed grapple check to rip him free at the last moment. As Covington struggles free, the Wooden mask is ripped free of its face as The King in Yellow disappears to his home realm and the gate closes behind him. The fight on the stage ended, and Rick is halfway to the grapple when it ends.
When we go back to the front door we are now able to go outside. Some sort of transdimensional state must have occurred. The police are given our statements, which we give them the story in greater detail at the station the next afternoon, minus the flying creature and Wooden Face. Many in the audience are saved, but many are drooling vegetables as well.
When shown the written copy of the play, Archimedes says “Be glad you did not open this. Doing so may have sucked whoever did so straight to Hastur’s home of Carcosa.”