A plush hotel lobby with puffy red chairs lining beautiful windows. A chandelier dominates the center of the room.

Episode 16: Istanbul, Not Constantinople

After an eventful journey aboard the Orient Express,  the Wardens arrive in Istanbul on March 1, 1937. They met with their local contact, Mert Kahraman, Turkish liaison to the British consulate in Istanbul at the Pera Palace Hotel.

The Wardens — Rikard Greystone, Sai-fon Richard Shen, McGinnisAlistair Sebastian Cadwalader Martindrake III, and Andrew Buchanan — learn that it’s an interesting time in Turkey, with secularism has just been declared and the iconic Ottoman fez has been outlawed. The Wardens explained their mission to confront and take down The Teacher, one of the senior leaders of the Enlightenment and the leader of the Reptilian Order assassins. Kahraman agreed to secure them some essential gear for their mission including a cargo truck and crates of “survey equipment”:

  • three bottles of whiskey
  • 16 grenades
  • 4 sticks of dynamite
  • Camping gear
  • Climbing gear

He also provided them with a map of the Snake Castle area of Turkey and the fortification itself.

A black-and-white map of a medieval castle.
A map of Snake Castle in Turkey. Inspired by Belvoir Fortress.

Attack on Pera Palace Hotel

“If I hear one more story about the circus, I’m going to shoot the bloke” — McGinnis, commenting on Rickard Greystone’s tendency to discuss his childhood.

Knowing it would take a day to assemble their gear, the Wardens decided to stay at the prestigious and elegant Pera Palace Hotel, a popular destination for Europeans visiting via the Orient Express. They spent a good portion of the night carousing in the hotel’s bar and lobby, with McGinnis staying up the latest telling tales of World War I.

As McGinnis spun out his  stories, Andrew Buchanan decided to slip out into the city to see check out some of the more disreputable sites within the city, promising to meet up with the heroes later. Meanwhile Alistair decided to set up some basic boobytraps in his room, just in case the Teacher’s agents decided to launch a surprise attack in the night.

His paranoia was rewarded. Late that night, after even McGinnis had turned in, assassins from the Reptilian Order struck, launching separate attacks on each of the Wardens’ rooms. Two took on McGinnis, who whipped out the 1911 he had under his pillow and shot one of them dead. Meanwhile two rooms over Alistair’s silverware boobytraps went off, providing him with just enough warning to grab his sword from under the bed and block on of the assassin’s attacks, riposting to wound the assailant.

Shen slept through it all, only waking when one of the Reptilian Order — aka “Snakes” stabbed him badly. It was a brutal, unexpected attack, but the Warden was able to shake it off, roll off the bed, and leap into action. The pacifist martial artist retreated into the hotel’s internal balcony, drawing the Snakes after him.

McGinnis’ 1911 erupted again, hitting the other intruder in his room. That didn’t take out the Snake, but the follow-up hit from the mercenary’s brass knuckles did.

Meanwhile in his room, Alistair continued to maneuver with the Snakes, edging toward the door while lashing out with his sword. He was able to drop one of his attackers as he did so. Out on the balcony overlooking the hotels massive lobby, Shen erupted from his room, ran to the railing and jumped to one of the massive crystal chandeliers.

Alistair took out his second attacker with some deft sword play, then rann to the window to see what was happening outside. Near as he could tell, the night was quiet.

The other assassins ran after Shen. When they saw him swimming on the chandelier, deftly rotating to block his attackers, they took out bows. The Snakes began lining up their shots as best they could and started firing, arrows deflecting off the hanging crystals.

A Paralyzing Distraction

Unbeknownst to the others, the attacks were a diversion from the real prize: Rikard. The Teacher had been shaping the young man’s life for years, killing his parents and murdering his mentor. The Enlightenment elder then sent his righthand assassin, the Horned Viper, to subdue and capture the Greystone.

He succeeded, his strike team subduing Rikard with a paralyzing poison and then escaping out the hotel room window. They lowered Rikard to the floor with ropes and prepared to load him into a waiting car.

They almost got away cleanly. Alistair heard the commotion in Rikard’s room. Concerned about his friend, he ran to check on the room and saw the open window. He got to the window just in time to see the Horned Viper throw Rikard into the car and shout “The Student is Ours!”

The Battle for Pera Palace

Inside the Snakes continued their fight with the other Wardens. Arrows flew across the open space between the balcony and the chandelier, but Shen’s acrobatic maneuvers on the crystalline work of art kept the projectiles from hitting.

McGinnis, having deal with his own opponents, burst of his room and saw the two Snakes threatening his ally. He immediately shot one, causing the assassin to stagger against the railing.

Shen drew his pistol and shot at one of the snakes, hoping to hit it in the leg. It was risky — he could miss and cause a killing blow — but he took the shot anyway. He missed. Realizing his position was untenable, he leapt back to the balcony where he and McGinnis fought the assassins with fist and blades.

The battle turned when one of the Snakes, betraying his years of training, accidentally stabbed his companion. The surprised assassin died instantly, soon followed by his brother in arms after McGinnis put him down.

The Escape

Outside the hotel, the Reptilian Order’s sedan was speeding away, but it wasn’t quite fast enough. Alistair used his rifle to shoot its engine, causing oil to start spewing and black smoke to pour from the car. The sedan careened to the side of the road and then stopped. The Horned Viper and other assassins got out of the car, dragging Rikard. They quickly found and commandeered another vehicle and were soon speeding off again.

This time they had a pursuer. Alistair had used the precious time he’d gained to cast a spell of flight, and now soared over the city streets following the car. He managed to shoot out the back window of the car, but it soon became apparent that his arcane flight would not be sufficient to keep up with the fleeing vehicle. Frustrated, he returned to the hotel and informed his companions of Rikard’s fate.

He found Shen and McGinnis being interrogated by the hotel’s night manager, Cuskun Timer. The man was clearly outraged, but surprisingly McGinnis was able to talk him down after it was revealed that they’d both fought in the War.

After Alistair caught the rest up on Rikard’s plight, they searched his room. They found a note pinned to the nightstand with a dagger. On it were three simple sentences:

“The Student is Ours. The Lesson Will Be Completed. Leave or Die.”

McGinnis, looking to his friends, said. “Well, look at it this way, we don’t have to listen to his circus stories any more or how his parents are dead. I didn’t like the bloke that much be we have to go rescue him.”

The Flight to Snake Castle

Driven by a sense of urgency, the heroes sought out Mert Kahraman to see what gear they could get together quickly. He responded with what he had on hand:

  • three bottles of whiskey
  • climbing gear
  • 16 grenades

Having secured the supplies, they gathered up Andrew Buchannan and left for the airport. As the sun rose on March 2, 1937 they drove up to one of the facilities backwater hangers to look up some of British ex-pat mercenary friends of McGinnis. Their plan? Have Alistair drop a ton of money to rent or buy a plane, then fly to Snake Castle before the Snake assassins could get there.

Once there, they met Ashton Byrne,  a down-on-his-luck Canadian pilot and veteran of World War I with a beat-up Ford Tri-Motor cargo plane who could potentially do the deal. Although skeptical, he was won over by McGinnis’ argument: “Just think of it the risk, the danger, … the money!”

Bryne agreed, accepting $10,000 and a bottle of whiskey as payment.

Soon afterward the heroes were in the air, reminiscing about lost loves and old tragedies.

Alistair’s Tragedy

Alistair’s tale revolved around a fencing scoring controversy in the 1924 olympics in which the Italian coach of the Hungarian team got into a duel with a French fencing critic. The Hungarian coach was sixty, so his son — a classmate of Alistair’s at Yale — could have stood in for him. Alistair decided to take on that role instead. The outrage over that duel has haunted him to this day. (Game note: Alistair draws an extra adventure card in our next session)

McGinnis’ Lost Love

Years ago in French Indochina, McGinnis met  Alice, another another New Zealander. Together they were up against Francois Nugyven,  a Vietnamese resistance fighter working against French rule.  McGinnis and Alice got into a big fire fight with the bloke and his men. She took out two of Nugyven’s best with amazing shots … but then took a bullet to the chest. She was dead before McGinnis could even get to her. It was the closest he ever came to true love. (Game note:  McGinnis will start next session with an extra benny)

Shen’s Great Victory

The thrumming of the rickety jet’s engines reminded Shen of a time when he and Uncle Lee had to save his friend Samo from a cultist (this was before Samo later turned to the dark arts of his own accord).

Uncle Lee and Shen wanted to rescue Samo before his kidnapper could summon a Chinese demon known as a yaghawi. They arrived just as the cultist was preparing to finish the ceremony, but Shen couldn’t bring himself to kill the madman. The ritual completed and the demon killed its summoner. It was then that Chen acted, slaying the demon with his sword. (Game note: Shen draws an extra adventure card in our next session)

History Lessons

One of the great things about Weird Pulp has been the things we’ve learned about our own history and world by playing the campaign. Here’s what we learned in this session:

  • How big is a bundle of $10,000 in $100 bills? A bundle is approximately 6″x2 1/2″x1/2″ … so smaller than you might think (thus explaining how Alistair was able to have so much money on hand to secure the plane).
  • Sabiha Gökçen became the first female fighter pilot in military history in 1937 when she flew for Hungary. Another key Hungarian event in 1937 was the establishment of the Air War College (Hava Harp Akademisi).
  • The fencing scandal at the 1924 Olympics really happened.
  • The Battle of Gallipoli was just as awful as you may have heard.
  • We couldn’t find floor plans of the Pera Palace Hotel, so we had to improvise. Any differences between reality and fiction are our fault.



  • Alistair: 3 xp
  • McGinnis: 3 xp
  • Richard Shen: 3xp