Role Playing Campaigns - The Company of Strangers Role Playing Group  

Our Role Playing Campaigns:

The D20 Modern Campaign - GM: Gord Rose
Campaign World: A somehow spookier Modern Day
Location: Wherever the Hoffman Institute takes them
Status: Active


The Party

Rian Van Falk
Age: 24
Nationality: South African (also has French/EU citizenship)
Born: Durban, South Africa (raised in suburbs, normal upbringing)
Parents: Expatriate Rhodesians, both killed when he was 16 in a botched car-jacking attempt while on a road-trip to Pretoria (random crime).

Rian then lived with an uncle for almost 2 years on a ranch in Transvaal. Occupation: Joined the French Foreign Legion at 18 to get out of Africa. Ironically, he was posted to the mechanized rifle company of 13e DBLE in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa. Left the Legion after his 5 year contract was finished as a caporal-chef. Never took a nom-de-guerre. Current Situation: Bummed around Europe for a couple of months, but couldn't find any legitimate work other than for private military companies (PMCs). Not wanting to operate where these PMCs did (a lot of them in Africa), he took his savings, obtained a work visa, and went to the United States in hopes of finding better opportunities. Lucked out and found a job with Dale Dye's company (Warriors Inc) as a technical military consultant on the French Foreign Legion and an extra for an HBO mini-series based on the book "A Mouthful of Rocks." His contract is just coming to a close with the end of the project (which stars Viggo Mortenson, Sean Bean, Leonardo Di Caprio, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, & Scarlett Johansen), and all that's left to happen now is the wrap/cast party.

Nathaniel "Nate" Hunter
Born: Mar 3rd 1984, New Orleans Louisiana, USA
Height: 6’ 3’’
Weight: 185 lbs
Hair: dark Blonde
Eyes: Blue
Distinguishing marks: Small (2”) crescent-shaped scar on right shoulder

Nate went directly from college into the FBI academy, and was posted to the Biloxi , Mississippi office in 2006. Nate spent a reasonably normal year and a half working a variety of cases, until he was assigned to work as part of a task force investigating what appeared to be a potential serial killer case. In reality, Nate discovered the perpetrator was a deranged MD who was carrying out bizarre experiments on homeless individuals. To his horror, when he and a number of agents located the insane Doctor’s lab, Nate realized their suspect had somehow discovered a method of reanimating the dead.

Lyndi Jones
Lyndi Jones grew up in Dayton, Ohio, the only daughter of a piano teacher and an accountant. She's had her own place for a while now, and she's not particularly close to her parents. She's something of a free spirit and they never did understand her. They still don't. She sees them sometimes during the Christmas holidays, but otherwise, tends to stay away, though her mother has a tendency of calling and leaving messages in her voicemail lamenting about the fact that she hasn't gotten herself a nice boy to settle down and start popping out babies with. Her mom and dad don't believe in email. (If they did, their daughter might actually speak with them more often.) They DO believe in UFOs. Go figure.

She has a bit of a following online. She's known as the "go to girl" for a lot of computer problems on a lot of the message boards out there - mostly having to do with software errors, operating systems and such ... She took that one step further, hired a bunch of staff just like her (filled with people she met on those message boards - and is now able to pay very well), and grew a business out of it, in fact. Her company is a software advising business online where people can purchase time and talk with a technician who can help with their problem. And with Windows Vista? Business is *booming*. The company is called Software Scholar - and hasn't gone public yet ... but it's getting really close.

And then there's her hacker curiosity (and notoriety, though of a different sort - and under a different name (Hacker Alias: R3[) R0\/3R (Red Rover) - from her software advising company's popularity)... The business is doing really well, but in her eagerness to always keep current with things - and her unspoken assertion that knowledge is power, she's always had an interest in infiltration - at least when it comes to computers. She's had a knack with computers since she got her first one (at the age of eleven) and there aren't a lot of places that can keep her out, at this point. But she hacked into an out of the way server where she discovered a back door ... and it turned out to be the Pentagon. Oh, she got in alright, thanks to unknowingly piggybacking on another infiltration. But that's when her problems started...

Günter Max
Günter Max was born and raised in Zuffenhausen, a district of Stuttgart (Germany), and from the moment he was born, all he wanted to do was go fast. The only parental trick that ever put him to sleep was driving him around in the family car. He stole his older brothers skateboard and skeletoned down a hill outside his family’s house before he could walk. He rode a roller coaster at the Baden Exposition for 24 hours and only stopped when he was forcibly removed. He wrecked 3 bicycles doing downhill racing before his first date. He STILL holds the German land-speed record for a diesel tractor, and his online racing record caused 3 system resets because the administrators were sure their system had been hacked.

And then he turned 16 and got his hands on actual car keys.

The day he turned 18 he applied for a job with Porsche as a test driver. By the time he was 21 he was one of their best and was being groomed for a career in professional racing. That's when it all started to go bad. Mechanical mishaps. Bad track conditions. "Errors" by other drivers. Over the course of the next two years Günter was involved in 7 serious accidents, 3 of them totally destroying the cars he was driving. He walked away from every one of them without a scratch, but in the last one, the other driver was fatally injured. An investigation into the incident proved conclusively that Günter was drunk when the accident occurred.

Fired, disgraced, and facing a lengthy prison sentence Günter went on the run. Calling in some favours from some disreputable friends he arranged forged papers and a new identity in Miami, Florida. There he works as a courier driver and mechanic, fixing up a beaten up 911 roadster in his spare time, and keeping his head down. And all the while he wonders how this happened to him.

Because he WASN'T drunk when the accident occurred, and he saw the other driver walk out of the flaming wreck and off the track. He was framed. But by who? And why?

Dean Travis
Dean Travis, born Detroit. Started in the Detroit PD, promoted quickly to detective he was recruited into the DEA. After a brief stint there he was involved in an investigation of a drug ring that eventually led to him uncovering a new type of drug. Before he could bring the case to court however all evidence of the drug and the suspects vanished.

When there was no investigation into the disappearance he began to investigate it himself against the orders of his superiors, leading him on a multi-state pursuit.

Just when he thought he was getting close to the answer he was fired from the DEA.

Being VERY frugal he was well enough off that he would be able to live on his savings for a short while but was at a loss at what to do with his career in shambles.

Then...THEY contacted him...

Vien “Vinnie” Tran
Vinnie is Vietnamese-American. His dad was a general in the South Vietnamese army, who escaped with his wife after 1975 and the fall of Saigon. They settled in Los Angeles, where his parents started their family and ended up owning a liquor store. The store was burned in the LA riots. His father and mother are now both deceased, killed in a road accident nearly a year ago.

Vinnie joined a street gang for a while as a teen and fell in with some very bad company. His criminal expertise developed from shoplifting and picking pockets to jacking cars to breaking and entering. He developed a reputation as a B&E expert, and picked up the odd contract job through his organized crime contacts. Vinnie's run of luck came to an end nearly two years ago. He was hired to break into the home of a wealthy art collector and retrieve several ancient Egyptian artefacts that had recently arrived in the 'States.

While inside the home, he has a very strange experience. As he later explained to disbelieving police investigators, one of the artefacts seemed to glow and he suddenly had powerful visions - almost like a flashback - of chanting figures conducting a terrifying ritual. There were a group of indistinct people surrounding an altar, and the figure that seemed to be in charge might have been sacrificing someone else… He could not see any of the figures clearly, but remembered the gaze of the leader fixing on him. He was paralyzed with fear and shock, trapped in the vision for what seemed like hours as the figure in the image seemed to stare right into his soul. Finally breaking free, he fled the home only to be caught by the police, who were responding to a silent alarm.

He was tried and sentenced to a year in jail. Recently released, he has gathered his backup equipment and set out to seek a new fortune, never having been able to shake the memory of those piercing eyes...

Vinnie is a young (22 years old) but experienced street criminal. He didn’t set out to make his life in crime – he just seemed to fall into it, almost by accident. While in prison, he had plenty of opportunity to remember some of the lessons his father taught him about service and obligation and honour, and regrets that his parents died while he was still in prison, a huge disappointment in their eyes. He has decided to change his life path, but hasn’t quite figured out exactly how to use his skills in a positive way. He is searching for something that will allow him to visit his parents’ grave and feel that he is honouring their memory.

And he wants to have a good time while he’s doing it… he is, after all, only 22…

Episodes So Far:

Episode 1 – Rest Stop

The Trailer

What happens when six people of disparate backgrounds find themselves stranded by a freak snowstorm at a rest stop on I-80 in Pennsylvania? A blizzard in October? That’s strange even for the US northeast. But what’s even stranger is what will happen when they all discover they are on their way to interview for an “exciting and different job opportunity” with the same agency as the other five.

The Story

Our heroes found themselves stranded in a freak blizzard in October, but that wasn’t the half of it. Not only were they all on their different trips to New York for a job interview with the Hoffmann Institute, a man carrying identification showing him to be a field agent of the Institute was attacked in the men’s washroom, along with an employee of the rest stop who wasn’t so lucky as to make it out alive. They managed to stabilize the wounded agent, and then learned that there was some sort of supernatural creature loose in the snowstorm outside.

As if this wasn’t enough, one of the truckers (a brash French-Canadian) picked that time to go postal and started shooting the place up, yelling something about “the demon” and trying to recover the wounded agent’s briefcase. Just as our heroes settled that matter, the ice creature burst into the rest stop and confronted them. The stranded travellers bravely set about defending the others from this strange thing of ice and snow, finally determining that it was tied to a strange snow globe in the wounded agent’s possession. Breaking the snow globe and setting fire to the thing was enough to cause it to disappear into thin air, leaving our team much fatigued and wary of what else might be lurking around for them.

So, our band, after helping the people as much as possible, departed the scene just as the authorities, following behind a large snowplough, made their way onto the scene.

Needless to say, after this the interviews went well and the group was hired as field agents by the Hoffmann Institute as investigators into the strange and paranormal. What had they gotten themselves into?

Episode 2 – Trouble in West Virginia

The Trailer

After completing their training at the Institute’s facilities outside Washington, the team was dispatched on a simple fact finding mission to a small town in West Virginia. They were to look into the disappearance of Peter Cluskey, a sheriff’s deputy, leaving his wife Marsha to wonder what had happened. The Institute had this family listed as “persons of interest”, telling our team that Pater’s father, Ralph, was listed as an abductee, claiming that aliens had abducted him some twenty-five years ago. Ralph had since suffered from Alzheimer’s and been committed to a full-care faculty rest home out of town. What would our team find when they looked into the deputy’s disappearance?

The Story

Upon arriving in Fayetteville, West Virginia, the team learned that Marsha Cluskey was more than just the wife of a possible abductee. She was a priestess in the local Wicca circle. Her husband (they had married after college, being high school sweethearts and all) had gone missing on a routine patrol around the back roads on the area, and she didn’t seem to think that there was anything “paranormal” about it. She was being comforted by a friend of Peter’s and hers from high school, Father Nicholas Martinez, the local catholic priest.

Of course, our agents made the effort to poke around a bit, especially after Peter’s body was discovered almost as soon as they arrived in town. After performing some routine investigations, including an interview with the Cluskey’s nosy old man neighbour across the street, Jack Wells, they couldn’t find much out about what happened to Peter.

Some of the team took a trip out to the scene where the body had been discovered the day before and came across another deputy’s car just as a man leaning into the car shot the peace officer four times. Stopping the van, the trio of agents were shocked by this action, as well as the fact that the killer then turned and started approaching down the road toward them. Even more shocking was the realization that this was Peter Cluskey, the dead man whose body was currently lying in the morgue (or at least it was supposed to be lying in the morgue). Gunther put the pedal to the floor on the van and ran over the man just as he was raising his gun to shoot. A sigh of relief from our team was cut short as Lyndi looked in her mirror and saw the man getting up.

While all this was going on, Dean, Nate, and Vinnie had been looking to question Mrs. Cluskey again but found that she had fled, packing a bag and disappearing in the night. To compound this mystery they discovered that the neighbour across the street had also disappeared, although a little less tidily and more rushed. They also discovered that he was involved with a satanic cult, the Cult of Satan’s Gate, and that he had been involved in keeping a close eye on Marsha Cluskey. They also discovered notes that it was the cult that was responsible for the kidnapping of Peter Cluskey, along with notes about “the drugs” and “he’ll wreak havoc”. As a steady feeling of dread crept over our three fellows, an ugrnet call came over their radios from Lyndi that she, Gunther, and Rian were involved in a desperate fight with none other than Peter Cluskey, who had been hit with the van more than once and had taken a shot from Rian’s pistol at close range that blew a chunk of his skull off … but he was still fighting them.

Jumping back into the team’s SUV and racing through town, they noted a single sheriff’s car in front of the medical centre, which was all roped off with police crime scene tape, and also that the same crime scene tape had been stretched across the door to the catholic church. The sheriff was trying to raise someone on his car radio and not having much luck. Upon reaching the rest of the team, they found that they had finally managed to put Peter Cluskey down, and, in as agitated a state that they were in, they were trying to remove as much of the evidence as they could. Nate managed to collect some blood evidence for analysis back at the Institute’s labs and the team decided to pick up their things from the local motel and return home.

It was on their way out of town that they discovered that the doctor had been killed, his neck being broken in two places, and that the old school friend of the Cluskey’s, Father Martinez, had also been killed, although in a much bloodier manner. Once the blood had been analyzed they learned that Peter Cluskey had been injected with a combination of PCP and some hallucinogenic drugs, laced with a drug called Zobinol (which they learned from the Institute scientists was a highly classified and restricted drug that simulated death for a period of up to twenty-four hours).

I think it’s safe to say that our team had the quietly reserved reaction of: “That’s just not right.”

Episode 3 – Witches of Salem

The Trailer

After a few days of debriefing and rest, our team was called into the office to learn that the Institute had discovered the whereabouts of Marsha Cluskey. She had sought refuge with a friend, another Wiccan priestess, in the small New England hamlet of Pigeon Cove, just outside of Rockport, a few minutes drive from Salem and Boston. Their Agent-in-Charge, Agent Trudy Parsons, dispatched them to watch over and, if necessary, warn Marsha of the possibility of further action by the Cult of Satan’s Gate. What awaited our intrepid team up in the cradle of American witchcraft? And so close to Halloween?

The Story

The team arrived and set up surveillance on the house of Marsha’s friend, Jessie Noland, and settled down to see what – if anything – was going to happen. Nate had received some information from an old friend in the Boston FBI office that the leader of the Cult of Satan’s gate, Robert Higgins, had been seen in the Salem area, and concern was expressed that an incident was in play for around the Halloween period.

Some of the more discerning of the team discovered that there was indeed something not right in Rockport. A car was seen outside the Rockport bank, shortly after the team learned that a bomb expert, one Darrell Fletcher, was also seen in the New England area. He was very dangerous, being on both Homeland Security Terrorist watch list. As Nate and Lyndi were thinking about their next steps and awaiting word from the team watching the Noland house, Nate discovered that Fletcher was in fact having coffee and pie at the same coffee shop they were in at the moment. Not accosting the man, they left the coffee shop and set off to meet with their friends.

At this time a car turned up and set up watch down the road form Jessie Noland’s house. One of the occupants was Jack Wells, Marsha’s neighbour from Fayetteville. Things definitely seemed to be happening. Fisherman and boatmen around the harbour in Rockport reported strangers renting a boat and travelling back and forth between Rockport harbour and the lighthouse on Thacher Island.

Just as our team implemented their plan to confront the sentry car and its occupants at the house, thereby removing the threat to the two Wiccans, all hell broke loose. As Jack was extracted from the car, one of the cult members broke out of the passenger side door and made a run for it, being chased by Nate. As Nate closed with him, the man drew a small box, a detonator, from his pocket and pressed the trigger. The car he had just left blew up, throwing our team into confusion and a renewed sense of urgency. Much of this was triggered by another explosion that lit up the center of Rockport, and a series of explosions that blew up on Thacher Island.

As they collected the wounded Jack and the unconscious cult member, they warned Marsha and her friend to leave town and seem shelter closer to a populated area. They then called the Institute for an extraction team for their two prisoners, and set off back to Rockport after questioning the cult member, who turned out to actually be a member of a different cult, the Six-Fingered Hand. There they found that the car that had been watching the bank was now in flames and being tended by the Rockport Fire Department. Leaving Lyndi in Rockport to observe things, the other five team members set off to see what had occurred on Thacher Island. They soon learned that the Coast Guard had responded and were patrolling both the island and the waters surrounding it.

Meanwhile, Lyndi had been watching the scene unfold, as well as the arrival of a stream of what appeared to be government agents, when she was engaged in conversation with a friendly gentleman in the crowd. He remarked how unsafe the world seemed to be today, but he didn’t want the vacation of such a nice young woman to go unremembered, so he pressed a small gift box wrapped in a gold ribbon into Lyndi’s hand. As she looked up was he turned to leave, he stopped and smiled at her, indicating that perhaps they’d meet again. The man was Darrell Fletcher! Opening the box, Lyndi saw that it contained another detonator … and the light was already blinking.

When the rest of the team arrived they decided to leave the detonator for the authorities (which the police safely recovered) and left town heading back to New York. They were debriefed, learning that the Cult of Satan’s Gate had been devastated in a number of bomb blasts, thought to be one of their terrorist actions gone horribly wrong. No mention of the Six-Fingered Hand was made by anyone, although the Institute seemed very interested in this information.

After such a harrowing introduction to life in the employ of the Hoffmann Institute, our team was rewarded with a two-week, all expenses paid vacation to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Ah! What bliss!

Episode 4 – The Spunkmeyer Convergance

The Trailer

The team is sent to contact another team, one led by Ted Spunkmeyer, which has been out of contact for some time now. Spunkmeyer had been investigating, believe it or not, Bigfoot sightings in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. What had happened on such a routine investigative assignment? Why did Spunkmeyer need the investigative gear he had requested for such a trip? And Bigfoot? I mean, really! Come on now…

The Story

The group arrived in Jasper to discover Spunkmeyer was in the hospital, and was apparently the target of an assassination attempt. (His two team-members had been killed in the apparently staged car crash that put him in the hospital.)

This was confirmed when Rian noticed the hospital nurse trying to kill him through tampering with his IV drip. He wrestled her to the ground, finding she was quite strong and tough for such a small woman, when she suddenly turned to a sand-like substance the colour and consistency of graphite.

The team recovered Spunkmeyer’s team’s weapons from the wrecked van in the police impound yard, and got Spunkmeyer out of the hospital (after he had broken the news to them – to their amazement – that yes, aliens are real, and yes, his team was actually looking for a sasquatch that had gone “rogue”) and to a location for an emergency Institute pick-up. They then began investigating more on the Bigfoot sightings and the whole Graphite Person incident.

What they found was an apparent group of these graphite people trying to steal a helicopter (they had attached some strange mechanical device that seemed to be sapping the power form the craft, and that looked like a tentacled coffee maker with fins to a helicopter at a local site) when Vinnie and the gang interrupted them. They also determined that a number of people were appearing in Spunkmeyer’s video footage that his team had been taking as part of their cover.

Putting two and two together and looking closer into the strangers, they determined that these might have been another party of nefarious types ALSO after the Bigfoot sighting. Indeed, hot on the trail of the Bigfoot (based on information Spunkmeyer’s team had collected and correlated with their own investigative work) they ran into an ambush on the highway leading towards the glacier. Although a couple of the team were wounded (Vinnie fairly badly) they managed to remove the threat, capping their victory off with Gunter driving their beat up rented Gremlin up a rock siding abutting the highway, pulling a 180-degree bootleg reverse, and stopping right beside the last two foes so that Dean could put an end to their miserable existence with some well placed pistol rounds. The only downer on the event was that they discovered that these turned out to more of these graphite pod people!

Wrestling with this information, they moved on to the glacier, where they found their hired Indian guide and a park ranger with drawn guns and standing over three more piles of graphite-coloured sand. Moving on and backtracking the trail of the apparent foes, they found not only the dead body of an actual sasquatch, but also a strange silver box that they couldn’t open but detected as being an electronic device of some kind. Feeling well out of their depth, they called an Institute recovery team in for both the box and the body of the creature.

The mission now being accomplished as far they could with their knowledge and resources, the team retuned home to New York and some down time to absorb all that they had learned.

Dean, although being shaken up the most, was not the only one of the team to feel a little dumbfounded at all this new information. What the heck had they gotten themselves into?!?!?

Episode 5 - The Past Will Draw You Back In...

The Teaser

Nate invited the team down to New Orleans and his parents’ restaurant for Thanksgiving (although Lindy’s mom gives her a hard time about it) and a nice time is had by all. They meet Gloria, the restaurant manager and a college friend of Lindy’s, who seems to have the hots for Nate, although this in not reciprocated (is the guy gay?), and who – in turn – seems to strike Gunter as the woman of his dreams.

What fun!

The holiday is cut short though when a news report is seen that severe gang violence has been building in Los Angeles, and one of the bystanders hurt in one attack is Vinnie’s sister Sylvia – a doctor at a local clinic. Vinnie convinces the team to got to LA and check up on his sister. So it’s off to La-La Land!

After all, there nothing paranormal about gang violence … Right?

The Story

On the way to LA, the team stops briefly at a roadside diner in New Mexico, only to become embroiled in a fight with a motorcycle gang. They win out, with the help of a strange older biker who barely interrupts his game of pool for the brawl.

Continuing on to Los Angeles, they find Sylvia is okay but taking a few days off work. She tells them about what she knows of the escalating gang violence and some of the mutilated bodies of rival gang members being discovered. Using forged FBI identification, Nate and Dean establish contact with the local FBI Gang Crimes lead agent and get some more details on the violence and the mutilations, learning that some of the bodies had their hearts removed.

It seems that both the inter-gang violence and the mutilations are escalating. Welcoming any help, the LA FBI agent invites the team to participate in the investigation. Vinnie re-contacts some of his old gang connections, learning some more details and confirming others. With the assistance of his old gang and the information from the FBI and LAPD, the group manages to focus their investigation on the river area. After a particularly violent incident (38 bodies between two rival gangs), Nate finds a blood trail and follows it upriver and into the brush to what looks like the camp of a homeless person. A gruesome discovery is made when they find the charred remains of a number of human hearts.

Deciding to stake out the campsite, Rian and Vinnie establish a hide while the others keep watch (via some motion-activated video cameras Lindy managed to hook up) on the site from the comfort of the SUV. Sure enough, a migrant worker appears and settles into the camp, only to discover Vinnie and Rian and attack them with a machete. Mayhem ensues, and our two heroes find themselves between a rock and a hard place when the man suddenly changes into a large and muscular jaguar! Their bullets don’t seem to have any effect on the animal, and the rest of the team breaks out to run to the rescue, except for Lindy who is tinkering with something to do with the car radio and her cell phone.

Dean and Nate arrive on the scene, discovering Vinnie and Rian withdrawing as rapidly as possible up the trail towards them. Rian has been severely wounded, receiving a bite on his arm and bleeding profusely. Just as the situation looks grim for the boys, Lindy fires up her device and the big cat suddenly shrinks back in confusion and, emitting a growl of pain or frustration, darts away into the night. Our heroes decide that it is best for them to leave now and they return to the vehicle, learning as Gunter speeds off that Lindy had jury-rigged a high frequency sound emitter that apparently scared away the jaguar.

Returning to their base at the hotel, they learn that Rian may be infected with lycanthropy (the same disease that creates werewolves … no really, werewolves!). They also learn that he cannot be cured unless through the quick application of belladonna or, failing that, the casting of a magic spell – preferably before the next full moon period. “Magic” spell?

Licking their wounds, our team does some investigating and learns that the migrant worker is a Mexican and so decide to investigate this angle to see if they cannot find him.

Episode 6 – Hunting the Big Cats

The Teaser

The team sets out to check into the home village of the migrant worker. The LAPD and local FBI are combing the area for what they think is a psychopathic killer, while the local FBI agent, Agent Poulin, lets the team know that a real FBI team from Washington is on its way, but she will try to cover their tracks as much as possible. She knows this is beyond her realm and these guys seem to be able to handle it coolly and calmly. At the same time, Lindy gets a cryptic e-mail letting her know that she has popped up (again) in an FBI crime scene photo and the she may have registered as a blip on their radar again, just as she did after Rockport!

So it looks like our team (minus Vinnie, who is staying in town to help his sister out and reconnect with her – and possibly some of his less savoury connections) is returning to Mexico. Only this time it’s not going to be a vacation.

How easy is it to requisition silver bullets?

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