is being held August 12-14, 2011, in honor of our dear, old friend
James J. Allaire (March 5, 1959-February 9, 2011)
at the Holiday Inn Express, Mt. Arlington, NJ
PCs: Neil McGreedy (scrounger), Noah Wales (engineer), Sam Hill (Texas Ranger), Gordan (professional British soccer player)
We left off at the crash site of Jimmy Stewart’s B-24. The hydra was destroyed, the Klan militia defeated and the party had to decide what to do next. Noah was wary of going to Huntsville because it was under US Gov’t control and he feared running into agents of Howard Hughes (he stole Howard’s jet-pack). Gordan wanted to tag along for survival, Neil wanted to scrounge abandoned settlements for trade goods and Sam Hill wanted to annex Alabama to the Republic of Texas. This plan naturally won out.
Sam promised local sharecroppers that they would be better protected if they aligned themselves with Texas and that he would drive off bandits, mutants and the KKK. The sharecroppers tended not to believe him but he persuaded them to give the party a chance to prove their mettle. They said that the Klan had setup a roadblock to cutoff food and supplies from across the Tennessee River. Supply trucks were not getting through and anyone sent to check it out had not returned. So the party, including Jimmy Stewart and crew and three sharecroppers, piled into the Ford pickup and a captured KKK truck (hand painted white with KKK in big black letters and Confederate flags) and headed north.
The road turned into a muddy track and the ground became ever wetter as they headed closer to the river. Then the Ford, bringing up the rear, bogged in the mud and couldn’t get free. That’s when they were attacked by a group of large gators, including one twenty-footer. The gators were easily dispatched and the truck towed out of the mud. Sam skinned the giant gator for its armored hide and sent two of the sharecroppers back to town for a wagon to take the other gators back for food. The leader of the sharecroppers, Thomas Madison Washington, proceeded with the party.
The roadblock was in a railroad cutting in an embankment. Log bunkers with BARs covered each side of the road and Klan lookouts patrolled behind barricades on top of the embankment. Gordan immediately gunned the KKK truck and rammed into one bunker, taking it out. His quick action took the guards completely by surprise. The passengers in the back were thrown about and stunned; those who could leaped out of the truck. Gordan backed out of the bunker and blocked the cutting. Sam hosed down the embankment and dropped a few guards while Jimmy Stewart’s trademark voice stunned several more into inaction (they thought someone was a-shootin’ a movin’ picture).
Klansmen in white hoods and some men in US Army gear rushed toward the roadblock. Among them were two bazooka crews. Two Jeeps with .50-cals drove forward.
.50-cal tracer was going in both directions and Gordan gunned it into the bazooka crews, trying to run them over. He succeeded in taking out one bazooka but the loader ran to retrieve it.
Meanwhile, Thomas Madison Washington ran to the other bunker and stuck his 12-gauge into the aperture, taking out the BAR gunner and yelling obscenities involving crackers and people’s mothers. In a berserk rage, he then charged up the embankment into four Klansmen. He took out some and scared off the rest, then charged down the other side into more onrushing Klan militia.
By this time someone noticed that the men in US Army gear were shouting in German. Disorganized militia ran out of tents and shacks and a German officer in para fatigues emerged from a tent over which fluttered a Nazi flag. He wore an eyepatch, monocle, had a fake arm and smoked a cigarette in a long holder. He didn’t have time to equip his other cliches, which he left in the tent.
In the time it took me to type this, I’ve forgotten half the insane shit the party pulled. A captured bazooka took out a bunker on the far side of the embankment but not before Noah and Sam had raced forward to engage the Jeeps, ramming one in the process and leaving themselves in the line of fire of four automatic weapons. Sam blasted the German gunners (as it turns out) and only took a burning tracer through his ten-gallon hat. Sam then tried to take down the distant German officer stereotype but he shrugged off a hail of .50-cal fire, all the while laughing and taunting in German (that’s correct, he also laughed in German. YOU figure it out..)
So the roadblock was ultimately destroyed for the loss of only one of Jimmy Stewart’s crewmen (note: Mooks rolling d6 for Shooting don’t hit often, at least not when I roll for them). Finally, Thomas Madison Jefferson, wounded by BAR fire, took out the last bunker single-handed.
I’m leaving stuff out but at this point it doesn’t really matter. Lots of crazy went down tonight. Oh yeah, a creepy storm front of poisonous rain approached the area but hadn’t quite reached it yet. At least the sharecroppers claimed it was poison.
PCs present: Dr. Kenneth Lokar (historian), Jenny Barnes (dilettante), Raymond Learson (archaeologist), Jack Storn (reporter), Penelope Murphy (paranormalist)
Rough summary of events:
- Diamante was arrested, and along with Peter Malone and Marianne Silver (missing maid) were transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Arkham. One patrolman was assigned to guard Diamante until she recovers enough for questioning. Samson the groundskeeper is taken to Arkham Courthouse jail. Dr. Drake was politely escorted downtown to ID the body of Jonathan and give a rambling, incoherent statement
- Some of the charges to be filed against Diamante and Samson include first degree murder, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and possible immigration charges pending clarification of Diamante’s status.
- Word is quickly spreading that an Italian immigrant (“vagrant, degenerate gypsy woman”) has brutally murdered the son of a fine, upstanding family. The court of public opinion is already in session and protests will be organized both for and against Diamante, since this is less than a week after the execution of Sacco & Vanzetti. Anti-immigrant sentiment is once again in the news and rumor has it that she is an anarchist or communist agitator. Det. Strawbridge is not happy about the publicity.
- The investigators explore the open sarcophagus in the Drake family plot. Penelope Murphy takes several photographs of a group of frightening humanoids in a long tunnel (illuminated by her flash), one of which spoke to her. While at the graveyard, they feel a dark presence fly overhead from the woods, heading to Arkham.
- Dr. Kenneth Lokar (PC) discovers the family copy of Cultes des Goules (Il Culto Dei Ghouls, written in Italian by Isabella Drake.) Lokar notices that the cover is human skin, which they cut away and burn. Penelope subsequently tries to read the book but none of them read Italian. They realize that ghouls may be about. Lokar wants to burn the whole manor to the ground “to be sure.”
- After the police finish investigating the manor, the group gives it another going over. Raymond Learson (PC) tries to speak into Dr. Drake’s HAM radio. After a few periods of static, a voice speaks to him in English and, not recognizing him, says they will no longer communicate on this frequency. The radio then goes silent. They take Drake’s papers and a half-finished manuscript entitled “The Orbit of Yuggoth.”
- They load Claudette, the other maid, into the car (drunk) and start to head back to town. Three of them actually leave for town.
- Dr. Lokar and Jenny Barnes check out the woods to the south by themselves. They find a group of Sinti Roma (gypsies) from Hungary who are a large family of artists and musicians. The leader, Janos Reinhardt, tells of a terrifying Devil who lives in a cave near standing stones. Its master is an Italian gypsy who promises them protection if they keep their mouths shut. They find the cave empty. As they are leaving, a gigantic winged creature lands on the altar inside the standing stones. A man and woman are riding it and it drops a dead, horribly mangled policeman from its maw. Shaken, they retreat into the woods unseen.
SESSION 3, part 2
(A brief note on the demographics of our gaming group. At the time we began this scenario, none of the players had ever before played in a Cthulhu RPG and I had never run one. Two of the players are relatively new to RPGs in general, having only begun playing within the past year. Keep this in mind as you read the session log. I completely understand if, at several junctures, you find yourself facepalming.)
The four investigators–Lokar, Barnes, McManor and Malone–parked their cars in front of the quiet manor. Claudette was inside tending to the ravaged Marianne Silvers and Samuel retreated to his cottage. Dodger, Sam’s pit-bull, sprinted off to explore the nearby woods and was nowhere to be seen.
Ike Takes Names
McManor approached the cottage and paused to listen at the door. He immediately detected two distinct voices speaking within, those of Sam and an unknown female. Ike rapped loudly on the door, identified himself as a police officer and demanded to be let inside. Sam opened the door after a moment and stepped outside to face the detective, closing the front door behind him. He could not, however, conceal the sound of a second door opening and closing. McManor placed Sam under arrest for suspicion in the kidnapping and assault of Marianne Silvers, ordering the groundskeeper to his knees and cuffing his hands behind his back.
Ike Kicks Ass
Meanwhile, the other investigators ran around to the back of the cottage where they spotted a young woman attempting to flee out the rear door. She appeared to be in her twenties, with long, dark, unkempt hair and an olive complexion. Her peasant dress was colorful but mud-spattered, and she was adorned with many pieces of clattering jewelry. Spotting Lokar, Barnes and Malone, the girl paused long enough to utter a curse in Italian, make a rude hand gesture, then sprint for the woods a hundred yards distant. Malone, wielding a crowbar that no one had seen until now, ran in pursuit. The ex-soldier was gaining ground on the woman when she suddenly pivoted to face him, drawing forth a wickedly serrated dagger from the folds of her clothing. Malone lunged wildly with the crowbar as the woman brought the blade in a wide arc to slash him deeply across the thigh. A gusher of blood spurted from the gaping wound and Malone crumpled to the ground in excruciating agony. Jenny Barnes drew her battle-tested Derringer but a single shot went wide. Dr. Lokar, again demonstrating his fondness for improvised weapons, took off one shoe and hurled it at the girl. All the while, Samuel was yelling from the front of the cottage in alarm and confusion. The issue was finally settled when Det. McManor ran to the side of the building and got off a medium-range shot with his service revolver. A .38-bullet slammed home into the woman’s belly and she, too, crumpled to the ground in pain. Lokar quickly retrieved both his shoe and the girl’s dagger, its blade inscribed with runes and enchanted to strike true and hard.
Hearing the gunfire and commotion, Claudette came running out of the manor and added her high-pitched screams to the din. Seeing two figures bleeding on the green lawn, she ran to Malone and miraculously stopped the loss of blood with some gauze she had stuffed into her apron while treating Marianne. If she survived this day, Claudette was finally going to ask Dr. Drake–senile or not–for that pay raise.
Ike Takes Yet More Names
The detective fetched another set of cuffs from the car, handcuffed the girl and dragged her in a decidedly unfriendly manner into the foyer of the mansion. Malone was also carried into the foyer and placed on a spare mattress, so that he wouldn’t bleed all over the fine furnishings. Regaining consciousness, he gazed up into the concerned face of the very attractive Claudette and asked with a sigh, “Is this heaven?” (benny awarded, lol) Lokar and Jenny searched Sam’s cottage for some clue that would clarify the situation. Among the big Norwegian’s personal belongings they found letters from a female paramour written in the same script as those found earlier in Jonny Drake’s bedroom, and bearing the same initials: “D.D.” Lokar’s keen nose also faintly detected a similar scent as those sent to Jonny. Whoever D.D. was, she was playing a double game and pledging her love to two men at once. The letters to Jonny went back six months or more, those to Sam only three months. Samuel, overhearing the discussion of this evidence and knowing in his heart that it was true, bowed his head and wept. He would subsequently be much more cooperative with the investigation.
McManor directed Claudette to boil more water and bring more clean linens, then call for an ambulance. He himself then called Arkham P.D. for backup. No one could predict when help from town would finally arrive, so he began to question Sam and the girl. Eventually, a story began to take shape. Sam was an open book now and told McManor everything he knew about the girl, who said her name was Diamante. She never told him her last name and, lovestruck, he had never asked. Sam had heard of the girl and her relationship with Drake, and finally met her while in Arkham to buy hardware and supplies. Diamante worked selling flowers at a street corner newsstand near the police station and said she had emigrated from Italy. Then it struck McManor that he had probably passed her in the street dozens of times without a second glance. Sam fell in love and Diamante promised it was over with Jonny, and Sam chose to believe her. Jonny could never stay with the same girl for very long, everyone knew that. Sam drove into town on the same day every week and always spent time with Diamante. Their trysts were romantic yet always platonic but she promised Sam that they would run away together when they had enough money to leave Drake Manor far behind. Little did the naive Norseman know that Diamante had made the same promises to Jonny. Finally, the morning after Jonny was murdered, Diamante had showed up bedraggled and confused at the door of Sam’s cottage. She refused to answer Sam’s many questions but instead begged him to shelter her there for a while.
It didn’t completely add up. Jonny was insanely wealthy and could run off whenever he pleased. Perhaps he didn’t really love Diamante, or perhaps she was after something else entirely, taking up with two men who shared one inescapable connection–Drake Manor. On top of it all, Sam admitted that he found it strange that Diamante appeared right around the time a band of gypsies took up residence in the woods south of the manor. These transients were known to move from town to town, avoiding both the law and angry locals. Sam and Dodger had so far succeeded in keeping potential troublemakers far from the house. McManor was far from satisfied.
Predictably, Ike Kicks Yet More Ass
Now Ike turned his questions on Diamante. It didn’t go as he had expected or hoped. Evasive at first and supplying absurd rationales for her actions, she suddenly turned deadly serious and glared at the detective with dark, piercing eyes. Muttering something under her breath that McManor couldn’t quite understand (but that Lokar was certain contained the word “Azathoth”), it felt as though a hand had gripped his innards and twisted them as a series of chills shot up his spine. Fear gripped the hardened cop and his body began to tremble uncontrollably. He only regained his senses with a considerable effort but, when he did, he grabbed Diamante’s right hand in a rage and put a bullet straight through it. Echoes of the shot reverberated in the open foyer and Diamante fell unconscious from the pain. Marianne made a sign of the cross, then wobbled to the kitchen to brew herself a pot of chamomile tea. Forget the raise, she muttered to no one in particular, I’m going back to vaudeville.
Lokar and Barnes pulled McManor away from the freshly bleeding Diamante to prevent him from doing further damage. They suggested he go up into the observatory tower to attempt to question Dr. Drake. Meanwhile. at Lokar’s prompting, Jenny was convinced to accompany him to the family graveyard that had so obsessively captured the professor’s attention. First, however, he chanced taunting Diamante by telling her about the trunk they had retrieved from the attic. Her dark eyes lit up when it was mentioned but she quickly changed her tune and feigned indifference. Lokar was sure she was lying.
Ike Gets Bugged
McManor mounted the spiral staircase to the observatory and heard the strange buzzing that Lokar had described. The detective concluded that the cause must be–insects. When Claudette reappeared with her tea cup, Ike immediately ordered her to ring up the exterminator. She protested that it was a Sunday but he insisted. On her way to the telephone she lingered for a long while at the bar.
The Empty Sarcophagus
Lokar drove Jenny down the drive to the ancient Drake family burial plot. A large, stone mausoleum stood at the center of the plot, surrounded by many and varied smaller headstones. One could walk directly into the mausoleum to be confronted by the marble slabs fronting each compartment, the occupants identified by bronze plaques. Here were interred the Drake patriarchs and matriarchs going back to the early days of Massachusetts. A rather large sarcophagus soon attracted their attention, as the lid had been pushed aside. Jenny peered into the open sarcophagus and saw that it had no bottom, instead descending straight down into a dark pit. She dropped a stone to gauge the depth and soon heard several clicks as it bounced off stone surfaces below. The two debated on whether to investigate further but thought better of it and returned to the manor. It could wait.
I Brought The Law, And The Law Won
Late afternoon approached, and the front drive of Drake Manor turned into a parking lot. First, the Arkham P.D. paddy wagon appeared. A genial old man in an old-fashioned suit of European cut hopped out the back and thanked the policemen for the ride. A penny-farthing bicycle was strapped to the roof of the paddy wagon. The man introduced himself as Dr. Klaiber and set to work tending the wounded amidst an appalling puddle of blood in the foyer. Claudette had almost forgotten about poor Marianne in the confusion and also directed the doctor to her quarters. An ambulance from St. Mary’s in Arkham appeared shortly thereafter and, with the help of Dr. Klaiber, loaded Malone and Marianne into the back. The policeman took custody of Diamante and gently placed her into the back of the paddy wagon, where one of the cops stood guard. Sgt. “Hound” Bassett and Patrolman Jones began to move everyone out of the foyer where they began to take statements. Drake Manor was now an official crime scene.
Basset and Jones politely persuaded Dr. Drake to come downstairs and offered him a ride in a real police vehicle. The APD needed to take some sort of statement from the deluded old fool; besides, they had to give him the unpleasant task of positively identifying his son’s body. Dr. Drake finally agreed to go with them, as long as they let him ride in the front seat.
Finally, the exterminator arrived in his van, wearing white coveralls and armed with a pump sprayer. He gave Drake Manor a clean bill of insectoid health. All that buzzing was just the gosh darned HAM radio in the tower, he muttered. It was quite odd, he thought, that the only insects in the entire place were in the form of strange doodles made by Dr. Drake, scattered amongst his notes concerning the perturbations of the orbits of Uranus and Neptune…
The investigators watched the procession of vehicles drive off and pondered their next move. What about those European vagrants in the woods?
(Thus ends Session 3, mercifully. I immediately drove home and took two ibuprofen. Next session will be on a day TBD.)
SESSION 3, part 1
(I thought another GM was taking over with his game this week but plans changed at the last minute and I ran RoC. I hadn’t prepped for the session and two unexpected new players showed up. It got a bit chaotic at times and I had to take a Mulligan on one bit of evidence I relayed to the group but everyone had a great time nonetheless)
Detective Ike McManor. A veteran of the Arkham P.D., Ike has encountered bizarre occurrences while investigating a group believed to be responsible for pet mutilations around the town.
Peter Malone. A wounded veteran of the Great War, the last thing he remembers was fighting in the Argonne Forest before suddenly losing consciousness and waking up–minus one eye but with a pocket full of cash–in his hometown, Arkham. Peter believes that the US Army is after him and will try him for desertion.
The Story Continues
(commence very bad Mickey Spillane impersonation)
Detective Ike McManor chomped the soggy end of an old stogie as he pulled up in the squad car. McManor was a good cop, an honest cop, and he had been with the Arkham P.D. a long time. He had sure seen some weird stuff in his day, stuff that would make your gut churn and your head spin, and had been investigating the members of some group calling themselves the Cult of Mu. Pets had been showing up dead all over Arkham with the Greek letter μ (mu) carved into them and he needed a lead. Freaks, creeps, bohemians, Europeans–why don’t they stay in Boston where they belong? Ike was in a bad mood and somebody was gonna pay. Besides, the Bosox were so far out of first place they might have to start playing local little league teams to get a win. He wanted to blast a monster, alright–a big, green one.
Riding shotgun was a strange, troubled man named Peter Malone, if that was really his name. He showed up one day out of nowhere when McManor was trying to collar a local hood. The hood got the drop on McManor and was going to blast him with his heater–at least, that’s what the hood thought. Malone was walking along minding his own business but he had an uncanny knack for sensing when something heavy was going down. Maybe that’s what saved him in the Argonne, why he was still walking the earth and not pushing up the daisies on the end of some Hun bayonet. He called out to McManor just in the nick of time and Ike drew his service .38 first and filled the hood full of lead. One more stiff for the meat wagon, one less threat to honest, God-fearing folk. McManor took a liking to the one-eyed war vet, who also believed that there was something more out there that humans couldn’t explain. Such as why he had been in a trench moment and wandering the streets of the old USofA the next, short an eye but carrying a wad of green in his pocket. What the hell had happened to him? Malone was put to work digging for dirt on the Cult of Mu and McManor fronted him a few bucks and put him up at a boarding house in Arkham. It wasn’t the Ritz, but maybe that was for the best, because the Ritz sounded way too German for Malone.
McManor heard that Strawbridge had put some P.I.s on the case and that he had been in old man Drake’s pocket for years. “Straw” wasn’t going about it the right way, by the book, so Ike decided to check things out for himself. He called on his new friend, one-eyed Pete Malone, and they headed for the outskirts of Arkham. The two people sitting in the coupe at the turnoff fit the description of a couple of the P.I.s–an old codger in a tweed suit and a young, stylish dame. Ike pulled up next to the other vehicle and got the low-down from Dr. Kenneth Lokar, some bigshot visiting professor from Hahvahd. Lokar talked in big words and liked to show off his fancy book-learning. Ike couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He knew there had to be a collar in it for him, so he got the other coupe turned around and they headed back toward the manor for some real questioning. The detective would teach these rookies how it’s done.
Next: The Situation Escalates
(I’m stopping here because it gets very hairy and confusing. The remainder of the session deserves its own post.)