Monday, August 7, 2017

The Incursion at the Heigelman Clinic

Campaign: Scarabae Open-Table (5e D&D)

Characters: Traviata Manu, human alchemist artificer; Tobias Rune, human chain pact warlock; Mortimer Queensberry, human open hand monk; Erron, half-elf bard.

Objective: To deliver medicine to Alphonse Damajin, a patient at the Heigelman Clinic.

Events: The party was hired by Koska, a local quest giver in Redgutter, to enter the Heigelman Clinic and deliver necessary medication for Alphonse Damajin, a patient at the clinic. Adventurers were being hired for the task because the Heigelman Clinic was currently surrounded by fifty white-shrouded figures bearing axes and knives who were not letting anyone into or out of the clinic. Previous attempts to enter the clinic had been met with violence from the robed and mysterious figures.

The Heigelman Clinic was nestled between two multi-story towers with bridges and catwalks connecting them high above. The clinic itself was a two-story building consisting of a rounded tower on the left attached to a square central building with a rectangular wing attached to the right. The facade was comprised of sheets of scrap metal interrupted by the occasional oddly placed window. The shrouded figures surrounding the clinic were absolutely still and uncannily silent. There were patches of blood on the cobblestones from previous attempts to breach their perimeter.

Instead of approaching the clinic directly, the party decided to enter one of the towers next to it and descend by rope from one of the catwalks above it. Traviata went down first, Mission Impossible-style, ascertaining that the clinic's skylight could be melted open with her corrosive acid. Dropping down into the second floor of the clinic, the party found two hallways--one running above the building's central structure, the other running above the extension wing--and a door to the building's tower. Both hallways featured a number of open doors, but both had a single door that was currently closed. There was also a staircase and mechanical elevator leading down to the first floor.

The tower was attempted first. An extra-wide bed took up much of the circular room. The room was decorated with a family crest depicting a scalpel being forged on an anvil and a portrait of a dwarf family in oil paints--all are wearing lab coats and holding scalpels like they’re swords--in a gilded Art Deco frame. The bookcases held a mix of medical treatises, histories of medicine, and also occult books written in Deep Speech. The side table was looted, the coin and pocket watch within taken into protective custody by the adventurers. The wardrobe contained dwarf-sized garb, mostly basic clothing, white lab coats, leather aprons and gloves worn during surgeries. There was also a spiral staircase in the chamber leading down to the first floor.

The party used Tobias's imp, Malphas, to scout the open doors in both hallways. The rooms were nearly identical and clearly intended for convalescing patients; each room had a iron-frame bed with heavily starched white sheets, a metal rack with hangers for the patient’s clothes, and a single worn chair for visitors. The first of the closed doors they opened exposed them to a horrific sight: a halfling patient lay on the bed, his head burst open with a corona of blood splattered on the wall behind him. A creature sat on his chest, pecking at the body. The monster was apparently comprised of the halfling's own brain, which had grown tentacles and a beak before erupting from the poor man's skull.

Erron attempted to slam the door shut on this disturbing scene, but unfortunately wasn't quick enough and the thing leaped at the adventurers. In the ensuing battle, the creature attempted to pierce the flesh of its foes with barb-tipped tentacles while entrapping their limbs in its writhing appendages; both Traviata and Erron were left with scars from its attacks. Ultimately, Mortimer grappled the creature while Tobias blasted it into oblivion. After this vicious fight, the party took refuge in an unoccupied room to patch their wounds and catch their breath.

The other closed room also had a patient inside, but the tiefling man in this room was still alive--but clearly in pain. He proved to be Alphonse, the man that had been sent to deliver medicine to. They injected him with his medication, and he told them that he was being treated for a degenerative disease that rendered him unable to walk. He also revealed that he had been attacked by the brain-thing the party had killed, but it had wounded him; his wound was deep and still open. The party considered leaving the way they came in now that their job had been technically fulfilled, but Alphonse pleaded with them to find anyone else who was still alive in the clinic. He was especially interested in the welfare of Akiko Arthmore, one of Heigelman's apprentices who had been particularly kind to him.

The party went back to the tower chamber and sent Malphas down the stairs to discover what was in the room below. The first floor of the tower was the clinic's kitchen. A small, wooden table sat in the center of the room with four unmatched chairs surrounding it. There was a small black iron stove with a scuttle of coal beside it. On top of the stove was a large pot of oat porridge and two small pans in which surgical implements were being boiled--all cold now that the fire had died out. A rack near the stove held tin dinner trays and a can full of spoons, forks, and knives. The party went down the spiral stairs, crossed through this room and exited into the clinic's central building.

They crossed into the clinic's waiting room. It smelled of antiseptic cleaning products. Six rickety wooden chairs, a table piled with penny dreadfuls and old broadsheets, and a wooden counter serving as the reception desk made up the room's furnishings. The walls were decorated prints reminiscent of DaVinci’s Vetruvian Man, but they covered a range of physiognomies from human to orc, gnome, kenku, and lizardfolk. A door to the right led to the building’s extension wing, and there was an entrance to the staircase leading to the second floor.

The adventurers entered the extension wing and found themselves in the clinic's surgery. The walls were decorated with pages torn from anatomy text books--but again, non-human anatomy was heavily represented. The room also featured three rickety wooden chairs similar to the ones in the waiting room, a sink, cabinets containing medical supplies and drawers of medical implements, the door to a mechanical elevator, and a door with a glass pane set into it on the right.

The most noteworthy thing in the room was an old, iron-and-wood examination table upon which was the body of a trollkin male, his chested riddled with inch-diameter puncture wounds. The trollkin was clearly deceased; the party debated setting his corpse on fire just in case, but fear of causing a conflagration stopped them. There was also a wheelchair in the room, which the adventurers moved to the waiting room so they would have an easier time transporting Alphonse later. Peering through the glass pane set into the door revealed that there was a storage room beyond.

Deciding to leave the corpse on the operating table as they found it, the party explored the supply room. Racks and shelves cluttered the room. On them was a haphazard combination of glass vials, cardboard cases of syringes, surgical implements, and prosthetic limbs. A wooden door at the back of the room was open about two inches. Pushing the door open disclosed another storage room piled with debris such as waxen anatomical Venuses, stacks of old textbooks, and surgical reference charts. At the back of the room cowered a young water genasi woman wearing a white lab coat. She was shaking and clutched a scalpel in both hands. The party had found Akiko, apprentice to Dr. Heigelman, who kept insisting “We’re all gonna die in here!”

The party had no intention of dying in the clinic, of course. With Akiko in tow, they returned to the surgery, only to find that three large spider-like creatures with their eyes at the ends of articulated stalks had emerged from the trollkin's wounds. Erron's sleep spell took out one of the spiders immediately, but the other two proved to be difficult to handle; the spiders' poisonous bites were taking their toll on the party, but they pushed on in this desperate situation. The spiders disconcertingly cried out in the voices of children as the adventurers wounded them. This battle ended in much the same fashion as the previous one: Mortimer grappled a spider-thing while Tobias ended its wretched life with a bolt of magical force.

Having cleared the first floor, the part set foot in the basement of the clinic, where Akiko said that Dr. Heigelman had a private office. There was a large desk, carved with dwarven runes and kingly dwarven figures, down there. The dwarfs carved into the desk had been defaced with a sharp object. The paperwork from the desk's drawers had been reduced to ashes on the desk's surface. Worryingly, a trail of discarded clothes--pants, shirt, lab coat, shoes, cravat--lead to the back of the room, where a jagged hole rimmed in greenish, luminescent slime had been broken through the wall.

In their wounded and weary state after the melee with the spider-things, the party decided that whatever was beyond the wall was more than they wanted to deal with. They instead returned to Alphonse. Akiko pulled a wriggling green grub with a face full of tentacles from his wound; the grub was taken as evidence of what had befallen the clinic, along with the crushed body of a spider-thing and some tentacles from the brain-monster. The party, Akiko, and Alphonse ascended through the skylight and made their way back to the catwalk above the clinic. Glancing downward, they observed the white shrouded figures that had encircled the clinic now began to enter the clinic through the front door, single-file, until they had all disappeared inside.

Alphonse was handed over to Koska so that he might be returned to his family; clearly, he was going to need to seek treatment at a different institution. The monstrous remnants the party had collected were turned over to clerks from the Court of Wands, but given that all the Courts in Scarabae are burdened by bureaucracy and red tape the party got the sense that the Court of Wands was not particularly concerned about whatever had gone down inside the walls of the Heigelman Clinic.

XP: 387 each.

Coin: 148 gp each.

Items: Gold pocket watch with inset rubies (worth 40 gp).

Magic Items: 2 bottles of Dr. Mysterio's Invigorating Tonic (potions of greater healing); 1 jar (2 uses) of Keoghtom's ointment.

Lingering Injuries: Both Erron and Traviata have scars from the fight the brain-thing that will only disappear if they get healed by 6th level magic.