Inspired by discussion on The Gauntlet Discord, Gesod, High Imperator of Venus, is a Mastermind for the Victorian horror mystery game The Between. Drawing on pulp science fiction in the tradition of John Carter of Mars, War of the Worlds and Flash Gordon, Gesod is a cunning and cruel alien opponent who offers a more fantastical threat for Keepers looking to add science fiction elements to their game.
Gesod, High Imperator of Venus
Gesod is a Noble Venusian, pale, tall and thin with a bald head and pointed ears, dressed in flowing green and scarlet robes and clutching a golden staff that emits a pale green light which can disintegrate a person in a single moment. Born to the royal family of a powerful Venusian empire, at a young age Gesod distinguished himself as a master strategist and cunning tactician, ascending to the throne over his siblings and conquering nearly the entirety of his home planet. Arriving to a great deal of shock and confusion on Earth, he proclaims to come in peace. He plays the part of a gracious guest of Her Majesty, seeking only to build an alliance between two great powers based on friendship and mutual respect.
Quote: “When I was but a child I claimed my first victory on the battlefield. As a youth I bested my brother to ascend to the throne. And in only five of our years I was able to take hold over the entire planet. And very soon the conquest of your 'United Kingdom' shall be the next chapter in my glorious legacy. You pathetic creatures should be honoured to have such a role. And yet you choose to fight something as inevitable as the passage of stars across the sky.”
Why he wants to bring the Crown to its knees: Gesod wishes to add Earth to his territory and views the British Empire as his greatest potential opponent. He believes that if he can topple the seat of British power via subterfuge rather than direct attack this will put him in an advantageous position to begin his conquest of the entire planet, at minimal cost to his own forces.
The Mastermind Conspiracy
The First Mastermind Clue…
...Is always Gesod’s first appearance in the story
‘The Resplendent’, a magnificent space vessel and flagship of Gesod’s fleet, arrives, suddenly, in the skies above London. Nearly twice as large as an armoured frigate, plated in scarlet metal and ornamented with alien patterns of gold and silver, it hovers without sail, wings or obvious means of propulsion. Its presence there is constant through the campaign and should be referred to periodically.
1 End of Session Scene
This layer in unlocked after the hunters discover the FIRST Mastermind Clue
At the end of the session of play in which the first Mastermind Clue is discovered, narrate a scene showing Gesod in his magnificent throne room aboard ‘The Resplendent’, attended by his hulking robotic bodyguard One-Two-Seven. He stands before a large and incredibly detailed gold and silver orrery, slowly rotating at the side of the room. Gesod approaches the orrery and looks intently at the model depicting Earth. The scene ends as the tiny carvings depicting the British Isles rotate into view.
Between sessions, write down what you think Gesod’s ultimate scheme for bringing down the Crown is below.
2 Life After Contact
This layer in unlocked after the hunters discover THREE Mastermind Clues
The Keeper can now begin using The Venusian Unscenes.
Between sessions, write down the names of three Side Characters you’d like to see return during the Mastermind Threat.
3 A Threat Becomes a Servant
This layer in unlocked after the hunters discover FIVE Mastermind Clues
Choose an active Threat and narrate a scene showing how it becomes a servant of the Mastermind. If appropriate, the next Dawn Phase narrate a short scene in which Lord Gesod publicly proclaims to have defeated a threat to the good people of England in a magnanimous gesture. Note this in the servants section and tell the hunters that the Threat can no longer be resolved (it also ceases to be “active” for purposes of presenting new Threats, though it is still a danger in London).
Between sessions, write down the names of two more Side Characters you’d like to see return during the Mastermind Threat.
Take some time to revise your idea about what Gesod’s ultimate scheme is. Take into consideration the roles that the above Side Characters might play.
4 Direct Action Against Hargrave House
This layer in unlocked after the hunters discover TEN Mastermind Clues
Gesod’s Servants can now take direct action against the hunters, usually as the result of a Keeper reaction.
Make one final revision to your idea about what Gesod’s ultimate scheme is. Take into consideration everything that has happened in the story up to this point.
5 The Mastermind Threat
This layer in unlocked after the hunters discover FIFTEEN Mastermind Clues
You can now create the Mastermind Threat following the guidelines in the rulebook and your notes from this sheet. At this point, you may cease presenting new Threats. Once all active Threats are resolved, you may present the Mastermind Threat.
After the Mastermind Threat has been resolved, select a new Mastermind to keep the story going, or end the game by asking each player to narrate a short epilogue for their character.
Scandalously sheer and form-fitting clothing. Impossibly long pale blue hair in a single braid. Intricate jewelled Venusian knife-bracers.
Tunara is Gesod’s only child and presumptive heir to the throne. She currently plays the part of an obedient daughter, but her rebellious nature means she chafes under her father’s rule and looks for small ways to act out just to annoy him. Tunara will develop a romantic obsession with the hunter who possesses the Most Beloved condition. She will attempt to spare this hunter from her worst of her father’s wrath, but may also be convinced by them to betray him.
Quote: “There is nobody like you where I’m from. I’ve had my share of consorts and suitors of course, but I always tire of them. They were beautiful, yes, but none of them had that light in your eyes. I’m sure Father will be angry with me if he finds out I have been seen with you, but that only makes it more fun. He will let me have my way eventually.”
Hulking brass body with exposed intricate silver cogs. Three legs. Speaks in halting sentences, always with an even number of words.
The first among Gesod’s robotic soldiers and guards. One-Two-Seven can usually be found directly at Gesod’s side, but they will occasionally be sent out to handle problems that require violence to solve. Like all robotic soldiers One-Two-Seven is incredibly strong and can shrug off great amounts of punishment, but the exposed cogs at their joints are vulnerable. They also carry a weapon resembling a crude pistol which fires lightning instead of bullets, causing horrific burns.
Small, oiled moustache. Fashionable, well-fitted suits. Chuckles periodically regardless of mood.
Lord James Bartleby is a lesser peer and has insinuated himself as a go-between for Gesod and his interactions with British gentry and merchants. He has access to a great deal of wealth and connections which he will try to leverage against Hargrave House and anyone else who stands in the way of Gesod’s plans, hoping to be rewarded with power and status once the conquest of the United Kingdom is complete. Bartleby is a craven liar and backstabber. When pushed into a corner he will offer anything to save himself, only to renege on any bargains at an opportune moment.
Quote: “What man wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to serve our first guests from another world in any way they can? Why I daresay that man’s name will be in the history books for sure. Some lesser than I might do so out of some, ah-heh, base desire for reward, but I am simply privileged to have such a fine and unique role to play.”
Blue, yellow and purple robes. Conspicuous amounts of jewelry, Disdainful expression
Various members of Venusian aristocracy, courtiers and hangers on who make up Gesod’s court. While usually on ‘The Resplendent’ or at court, they can occasionally be seen in London on various errands, always flanked by a pair of robot soldiers. While prone to scheming against each other for status they are absolutely terrified of displeasing Gesod and will not do anything to betray him short of the threat of death.
Their names include: Nalkoth, Abares, Breseus, Paloom, Vineeri, Jabaxo
Quote: “And what did you say this liquid was called again? “Tea”? My, how quaint!”
- Crude, old drawings of a vessel resembling ‘The Resplendent’
- A Side Character starts speaking in Venusian tongue
- A newspaper article describing Gesod gifting Her Majesty with a royal artefact
- Stories that a particular Earth food intoxicates Venusians
- A charitable concern has been showered with funding in a conspicuous display by Gesod.
- Copies of Earth religious texts translated into Venusian
- Gossip about a private meeting between Gesod and Her Majesty, with no observers permitted
- The hunter with Most Beloved receives a letter offering them to become Tunara’s consort/join her harem
- A purse containing Venusian currency (miniature silver ingots depicting Gesod’s face/circular carved crystals/something else)
- Rumours that this is not the first time the British Royal Family has hosted aliens
- A green and purple Venusian flower growing rampant on a particular building
- A Side Character claims to have visited Venus in their dreams
- A dead body scorched as if by a Venusian lightning gun
- A Venusian spice becomes all the rage in London cooking
- Reports of Venusians spotted elsewhere in the world
- Letters from James Bartleby negotiating purchase of real estate, offering significantly more than they are worth
- A Venusian knife bracer found in an unexpected place
- An alien tapestry depicting Gesod’s family tree
- A Venusian soldier was seen punishing a servant for an odd infraction
- Members of Gesod’s entourage have been seen purchasing bulk quantities of an unexpected commodity (coal/cattle/tulips/something else), trading with precious minerals.
The Venusian Unscenes
These unscenes work the same way as an ordinary unscene and may be introduced by the Keeper after the Third Mastermind Clue has been discovered. They are intended to be used in order, but may be used as the Keeper wishes.
Visitors Among Us
For the first few days London could not stop talking about the arrival of visitors from another world. But now a kind of normalcy has settled and tonight we see how ordinary people are coming to accept the presence of the Venusians.
- Paint the scene: A member of Gesod’s entourage, flanked by two robotic soldiers, walks the streets of London. Are the locals excited, curious or fearful and how do we know this?
- Adora is a seamstress who specialises in fashion for highborn ladies. What Venusian elements do we see her incorporating into her latest designs?
- Rufus and Joseph, a pair of middle-aged factory workers, spend most of their evenings sitting on the front step and discussing current events together. What do they think of the Venusian arrival?
- Chadwick is a writer for the tabloid The Illustrated Police News, and is working late on an article. What completely unfounded plot will he accuse the Venusians of in his piece?
Life on Venus
As night falls in London across the void of space, through thick, green clouds, day breaks on Venus. In one village, one of the countless that dot this alien planet, the residents emerge from their humble dwellings to greet another day.
- In poor light the figures could be mistaken for humans. What alien feature marks them as beings from another world?
- Paint the scene: As the villagers begin their mornings, what signs do we see showing this village is under the occupation of Gesod’s Empire?
- Most of these villagers toil in fields of alien wheat to provide food for the Empire. One of them is brutally punished by a robotic soldier for failing to work quickly enough. Do their fellow villagers react with open anger, or do they do their best to ignore this?
- As the cloud-dimmed sun begins to set, a few villagers secretly meet to engage in a local custom banned under Gesod’s rule. What is it?
A Night at the Grand Guignol: The Fall of Taraxes
Every class of people in London is represented in the audience at the Theatre Grand Guignol. They have come tonight to see a play written in honour of the visiting Venusians, a dramatisation of the conflict between Gesod and his brother Taraxes as they struggled for the throne.
- Paint the Scene: As the limelights pop to life and the crimson curtain is raised, how has the scene been set to depict the landscape of Venus on the stage?
- Describe Act I in which Taraxes delivers an impassioned speech against Gesod to his assembled forces. In what ways does the performance go out of its way to depict this as foolish and misguided?
- Describe Act II in which Taraxes plan is defeated. What masterstroke does Gesod leverage against his brother, demonstrating his cunning?
- Describe Act III in which Taraxes is put to death in a public execution. Make it bloody.