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

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