Session 4 | New York | Operation F.U.B.A.R

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Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae
Justin Case | NYPD Detective | 32 yrs | Djuro
Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondant | 31 yrs | Martin
Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Absent this session
H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats
Ulla Bengtsson | Professor (Chemistry) Columbia Uni | 48 yrs | Berndt

Link to background stories and portraits


Operation FUBAR

New York, Saturday January 17th, 1925 | about 7.00 p.m.

They dig deep, my lord…

As the police investigators plan to leave the den of vice, Det. Case changes his mind and decides to investigate the strange tunnel to prevent any bad guys from getting away. Remembering seeing a knotted rope on a shelf, he uses the rope to climb the steep tunnel. Inside, the smell of burnt machine grease and metal on metal gets stronger. Studying the walls, the policeman realize that the marks in the stone resembles teeth marks. Human teeth marks… For a moment, fear almost wins, but then he continues his downward climb. The tunnel exits into a narrow (4 ft high) service culvert, perpendicular to the length of the sloping tunnel. The culvert is full of electrical wiring, fuseboxes and other electrical gear servicing the subway system. Case cannot recall any subway stations in this area…

The short culvert ends in a steel hatch that shows signs of having been forced and then closed to hide the break-in. The hatch exits into a subway tunnel, where the rumble of the steel beasts is never far away. The detective knows that the trains go with approximately 5 minute intervals and since one train just went by, he should have some time to check out the tunnel, cautiosly avoiding the current-bearing center track.

Opposite the culvert hatch he spots some plywood boards, covered by dark grey woolen blankets that has been propped up against the wall. Case sneak over the tracks and cautiously look behind the plywood and finds another “chewed” circular tunnel running straight into the rock. This tunnel is wider than the sloping one. This is where Case decides to withdraw to come back later in force.

Back in Fat Maybelle’s basement the remaining men board up the place and place police investigation signs on all the entrances. The patrons as well as suspects along with illegal contraband has already been transported to the precinct.

Laundry life…

Meanwhile, in the abandoned laundry shop, now rented by the investigators, a steady stream of people of all walks of life has been starting to arrive at the closed for the day Ju Ju House. And no one comes out. After some more time, four men arrive carrying a heavy mat which they bring into the shop. The investigators wait, but no one comes out…

Panic at the precinct

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Det. Case and the boss

When Case, Rennfarth and the kid report back at the police HQ in order to start interrogating the people detained from Fat Maybelle’s, they find the place in a state of dissolution. Someone sends Case to the boss immediately.

Case finds the police chief sitting behind his desk, his regularly kept uniform unbottoned and the tie loose around his neck, an opened bottle of whiskey on the table.

Apparently, Lt. Poole has been reported kidnapped and a small box was left for Det. Case. Case opens the box, which contains a chopped off ringfinger with Poole’s marriage ring on it… The box also contain a small paper note that says, in neat handwriting:

“Hart Island. Tonight. And no cops”.

After some persuasion, Capt. Malone agrees to letting Case use his civilian “troubleshooter friends” to go to Hart Island. The police chief even agrees to let Case take out some more Thompsons and a few shotguns to be able to properly arm his team of civilian vigilantes… They will also be able to use one of the police boats on Manhattan.

Before leaving, Case orders the bar patrons released with a fine and the suspected criminals are placed in custody until he can come back and interrogate them. Then he and Rennfarth hastily drive to the Ju Ju House stakeout to get the others.

Tastes like chicken, smells like napalm

The civilians at the laundry tell the police investigators that about 20 people have entered the shop during the last 3 hours, and about the guys with the rolled up rug. The PCs discuss that maybe Lt. Poole was in the rug and that the island note might be a red herring. It is decided that Ju Ju House will get a visit before going to the island…

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“The Kid” checking out his Tommy gun…

Weapons are loaded up and checked for function. Straps and buckles are tightened. Extra ammo is tucked in pockets. Groovy…

Case, Foxworthy, Blackwater and “the kid” (Case’s NPC police constable protégé) are to conduct the raid, while Bengtsson and Rennfarth will stay in the laundry as backup (as those players weren’t present).

The team sneak into the alley and up to the shop door. Case tries to open the door using his lockpick tools, but it’s not locked. These guys are obviously not afraid of break-ins…

The investigators sneak into the shop, finding it empty. Faint grunts are heard from behind a drape behind the counter. Elephant gun in front of him, Edward peeks behind the drapes to fins a small kitchenette and a toilet, where Silas N’Kwane is taking care of nature’s needs. Looking up from his 3-day old newspaper, Silas looks into the barrel of a two-barrel elephant gun… Edward presses the barrels against the old man’s forehead, asking him to tell where all the people went. Silas solemnly denies that there is anyone else in the shop and asks if he can wipe himself, reaching for some low-quality toilet paper on a shelf. Edward tells him to sit still, but Silas disregards that and goes for the paper anyway, only to receive a rifle-butt to the face. The man slides off the toilet, barely conscious. Behind the TP, Edward sees the glint of a straight razor… “Trying to kill me, eh?” Furiously, he grabs the razor and slits old Silas’ throat. Searching the body, he finds an old key on a leather thong.

The premises are searched, revealing a trap door under the rug behind the counter. Beneath, a wooden stair leads down to a straight stone corridor leading to a stout iron-band reinforced oak door, where weird chanting and drumbeat can be heard as well as screams of terror. A lonely kerosene lamp is hanging from a hook in the roof and strange occult symbols are scribbled on the walls as well as on the door. The investigators have seen nothing like it, not even Carl, who is a student of all things dark and occult.

A quick strategy is drawn up. After opening the door, the PCs will enter the room and place themselves just inside the door and blast away at anyone or anything inside. The door is open and the exstatic people inside doesn’t notice it swinging up…

As the door opens up, they see some twenty naked people dancing, wearing only red tentacle headdresses. Six drummers along the walls keep a droning beat going. To the right is a kind of wooden contraption designed to lift a large stone slab off the floor and opposite the stone slab two naked and terrified women are tied to wooden poles jutting out of the wall. One of the women is fighting to get free, the other seems to have resigned in the face of her own fate. Both have parallel claw marks across their skin.

And in the center of the large rectangular room, a shaman dressed in a feathered robe is dancing and chanting, his hands adorned in claw-like metal gauntlets.

Suddenly, the shaman burst into flames, screaming. He has been hit with a booze molotov from “the kid”. Everything stops, everyone looking at the man aflame, then the gazes turn towards the door. Twenty furious pairs of eyes against the investigators, hands clenching in animal anger at such blasphemy…

Then the silence is broken by the sound of gunfire. Case and the kid sweeps the room with full auto-fire with their Tommy guns, while Carl fires away with a Mauser rifle. Edward shoots the burning but still standing shaman with his elephant gun, killing him instantly. After killing a man and wounding another, Case’s Tommy gun jams and he drops it and drawn a shotgun instead, loosing valuable time against the approaching cultists. Just after, the kid’s Tommy gun jams as well, forcing him to resort to his backup shotgun as well. Thompson machine guns…unreliable modern shit…

The hailstorm of lead send many of the cultists falling, blood spilling on the stone but they keep coming at the PCs, and is getting into melee range, grappling for the weapons. Two cultists are running towards the contraption and starts cranking a big wheel, setting the stone slab in motion. Sensing that the stone slab should not be allowed to open, the kid and Edward concentrate their fire on the cultists operating the crank, killing them.

Despite being in firepower superiority, the sheer number and the fanaticism of the cultists forces the PCs to retreat outside the room to create a choke point. Suddenly, the cultists fall back a little. A drape in the back of the room opens and four shambling, rotting shapes starts moving towards the PCs. Once human, now something else, the creatures attack the investigators, the cultists following in their tracks.

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Brain!

The investigators become hard pressed, both physically and mentally as the creatures are truly unnatural and frightening, but the manage to keep their heads cool. Despite many solid hits and even molotov hits, the creatures keep coming and eventually the investigators must make a fighting retreat up the stair into the shop, setting it on fire behind them. Without hesitation, they throw down old Silas body, watching the snarling creatures devour his flesh… While the creatures feed, the PCs fire away into their dead but strangely alive bodies, eventually killing them all.

“And now what? Some ten cultists are still down there, some of them people of note. People that could kill a career just like that. Not to talk of the two female victims who are still down there as well. Not to mention the two police issue Thompson SMGs lying on the floor… And no sign of Lt. Poole… And is that police sirens in the distance…?”

Damn! This is so FUBAR…


To be continued…

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Session 3 | New York | The Harlem Shuffle. With a twist.

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1920s car chase!

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae
Justin Case | NYPD Detective | 32 yrs | Djuro
Ulla Bengtsson | Professor (Chemistry) Columbia Uni | 48 yrs | Berndt
Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondant | 31 yrs | Martin
Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Absent this session
H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Link to background stories and portraits


The Harlem Shuffle

New York, Friday January 16th, 1925 | 5.30 a.m.

Best made plans…

After their visit to the Bellevue Psychiatric Ward, the PCs reassemble at Rennfarth’s Antiques for a debriefing and some food (and a few beers). They decide that they should try to talk to Robert Carlyle’s sister Erica- the ultra-rich and successful heiress to the Carlyle business imperium. [This session Detective Rennfarth will stay in the shop to try to arrange a meeting with Erica Carlyle as the player is absent].

Ju Ju House by night

The others decide to scout out Ju Ju House, but as expected the place is closed for the evening when the PCs arrive. Nothing can be seen through the small windows of the shop. They also find a boarded-up back door directly opposite Ju Ju House. As they skulk around the small court in the dark, there’s suddenly something stirring under some cardboard sheets and an old grey haired wino appear…

After some polite chatting, Old Joe tells them that strange people come to the shop at odd hours, sometimes carrying heavy rugs. Those people are up to no good he says. And they always beat him up and takes his booze, the bastards.

The PCs decide to come back when the place is open and bid Old Joe farewell, concluding that there indeed is something strange going on in that curio shop.

Fat Maybelle’s

Next, they decide to follow up on the tip they got from the roasted russian cultist, and drive over to Fat Maybelle’s at 139th and Lenox.
Upon entering the run-down premises, the PCs decide to split up and pretend to not be aquainted to another. Ulla and Carl enters first and take their seats in the back of the diner. They order booze, but Fat Maybelle offers only sarsaparilla. After some yapping and flashing some green, they finally get some dirty glasses with prima moonshine. Next, Edward enters and sits down at the bar. From his barstool he spots a small door under the stairway leading up. Case enters the bar last, immediately flashing his badge and starts harassing Fat Maybelle about her illegal moonshine operation. Finally, Fat Maybelle says that he must talk to the boss and leads the detective into the back room where 5 tough african guys sit and play cards, with a bouncer dude outside the room. Case is left in the room while Maybelle goes to get the boss upstairs.

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“Fat” Maybelle Hopkins and a speakeasy patron posing outside the bar

There is a menacing air in the room, with detective Case eyeballing the goons, trying to look cool. Some of the men speak some african language, creating an uneasy tension with their remarks. One of the goons (the leader) decide to challenge the cop by making mock remarks and making it clear that he is packing a gun and that something bad might happen. In a fit of anger, Case flips the goon’s chair over, sending the overconfident man sprawling on the floor and draws his 9mm Luger Parabellum, pointing at the man’s head. The other tough guys look angry, but they don’t act. Professionals. Case takes the man’s gun as well as his carry permit and send the other men out of the room. The permit is issued to a Silas Patterson. Probably a false permit with an equally fake name.

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Mr. Mukunga

The boss enters the tense room with a very confident swag and in broken English he presents himself as Mr. Mukunga. Case tries to press him with allegations of alcohol crime, but Mukunga denies it all with a smile. As the PCs are outnumbered and have no hard proof, Case decides to retreat. Mukunga calmly asks for his name in case he should remember something. Case tells him to report to Lt. Martin Poole, NYPD.

Looking over their shoulders, the PCs hurry back home to get some food and rest. By now they have set up the basement of the Antiques Shop as a base camp, even if most of them do have their own apartments in New York. Before retiring for the night they discuss Jackson Elias’s last barely legible notes and how to get access to the patient files of Dr. Huston, now filed at the Medical Board. They are also convinced that something fishy is going on at Fat Maybelle’s.

Sat 17th January | 09.00 p.m.

The chase
After a good night’s sleep, the PCs discuss how to proceed over breakfast. The plan is to  pay Ju Ju House a daytime visit. The air is cold and crispy and a new layer of snow muffles all sounds as the PCs get out of the shop. First out, Edward spots an african man standing across the street, opposite the shop. When the man realizes that he has been seen, he starts to walk away hastily and rounds a street corner. Edward sprints after and sees the man running down the street towards a black car with the engine on, pumping blue oil-mixed smoke into the air. Edward sprints after. The man slips in the snow, but so does Edward. The man jumps into the car and it speeds away. While Edward was running, the other PCs got their own car and seconds after they pick up Edward in hot pursuit.

A car chase commences. After some reckless speeding through the streets, Edward decides to shoot at the fleeing car. The others join in, including Ulla who pulls out a shotgun from the trunk and blasts away. The fleeing car returns pistol fire. Most shots miss but some hit the fleeing car, and suddenly it starts swerving in the snow, smoke pouring out from somewhere. The car loses speed, and the followers close in. The back window is shot to pieces. One of the african men inside shoots back, misses and is hit in the arm, dropping his gun. The fleeing car slows down and skids to a halt on the curb, sending pedestrians running and screaming. The three men get out, guns in their hands. The chase has led all the way to Midtown and there are people everywhere, screaming in panic. The PCs drive up alongside the abandoned car and give the fleeing men a broadside, sending two of them flailing in the snow. The last one returns fire and goes for a side street, but is hit in the neck by a bullet from Carl’s .38. The runner stumbles and falls dead in the snow (he is later identified as Silas Patterson).

Case runs into a shop to borrow a telephone and call the police and an ambulance. The PCs check the downed bad guys, and two of them are still alive but unconscious. They have no papers and no IDs on their persons. In the car however, the investigators find a crate of moonshine in glass jars, a bag of green leaves (khat), 2 prangas and an african throwing knife.

Soon, the police and ambulance arrive and take over the crime scene (a Lt. Monahan).

At the precinct

After the reckless car chase, Detective Case is summoned to the Police Chief Capt. Malone who gives him a hard time:

“What the hell were you thinking of Case? A shoot out in Midtown?  The Mayor is on the Police Commissioner’s ass, the Commissioner is on my ass and now I’m on your ass, Case!”.

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Capt. Malone

Case presents the case (!) and manages to talk his furious boss into a permission to do a raid on Fat Maybelle’s [some very good Fast Talk and Persuasion rolls there]. After some cursing, smoking and sips of too strong (and cold) coffee the chief agrees to assign seven policemen and necessary equipment for a raid. Case also brings his young cop-protegé. The conversation is ended with:

“I want results Case, results! Or you’ll be back in the traffic department in no time! Now, get the f-ck out of my goddam office!”

Meanwhile in Harlem

While the police investigators are doing police stuff, Ulla, Carl and Edward go to Ju Ju House. (They pretend not to know Edward). Three african-looking thugs loiter outside the shop, glancing menacingly at the strangers when they enter the alley. Inside the shop the PCs meet Silas N’Kwane – a friendly old man.

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Silas N’Kwane

Edward shows one of the captured “cult tentacle hats” but Silas doesn’t recognize it (though Ulla gets a bad mojo feeling about it all). One of the thugs enters and talks to Silas in Swahili, glancing at the PCs. Then he leaves again (Edward knows Swahili, and the thug asked if all was ok). Coming up with nothing, the PCs leave the shop and instead check out the closed store with the back door opposite Ju Ju House. It turns out to be an old abandoned laundry. The landlord’s number is posted on a “For lease” sign, and the PCs  decide to call the owner – a smooth-talking Italian by the name of Mr. Giuseppin, who comes down and shows the premises. The PCs end up hiring the place indefinitely. The first thing they do is to drill dirty observation holes towards the alley/court. Instant observation post accomplished. It is decided that the “civilian” investigators should stay here and keep the store under surveillance.

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Mr. Giuseppin give the PCs the “high hat”

The raid on Fat Maybelle’s

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The new Patrol Wagons

The police PCs along with seven officers, armed with shotguns and Thompson SMGs and riding in three patrol wagons arrive at Fat Maybelle’s in the most crowded time of the evening. The police burst into the place and arrest everyone. The premises are searched through thoroughly, but Mr. Mukunga seems to have fled his apartment on the 2nd floor via the fire escape…

They also search the door under the stair, which hides a stairway leading to a rather large basement. Luckily for Detective Case, they find lots of illegal liquor and moonshining paraphernalia as well as things used to distribute the booze. They also find a crudely drawn and now partly rubbed out occult circle painted in the center of the floor and burn tracks on the stone floor leading from the circle to an overturned and locked crate placed all the way up to the basement wall. The crate is empty, but in the back the wood has been removed, revealing a strange oddly circular tunnel going down into the ground. There is a stench of ozone and burnt oil coming out of the opening and a cursory check determines that whoever made the hole was very skilled as the walls are very, very smooth.

Not wanting to go in there alone, Case orders the place closed up with “Police Investigation” signs. The plan is to return later in force with the rest of the investigators to explore the tunnel. And to bring bigger guns…

And here we had to stop for the evening. To be continued.

In-game date: New York, Saturday January 17th, 1925 | 7.00 p.m.


This session the PCs also started reading the newspapers…

Newspaper information
1. Article about coming solar blackout
2. Article about a party to be held by Miss Carlyle at her estate
3. Article about bodies missing from the city morgue, among them the body of burnt-to-crisp Damir Kharzov