Session 12 | London/Essex | To kill a king

 

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The Essex mansion

 

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Absent this session

Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics Specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Link to background stories and portraits


Secrets of 6 Holbein Mews

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | early evening

Still shocked after the horrific events in Shipley’s garret, Carl and Edward decide to investigate the rest of the dingy building.

Upstairs

The upper floor has four rooms: a bathroom with dripping faucets, a small living room where Carl sat out his temporary insanity among little pillows in once garish colors and crocheted cloths. There are also two bedrooms – one dirty and messy, reminiscent of a teenager’s room, only filled with used ashtrays, empty liquor, and pill bottles, remains of food and dirty clothes. The other bedroom is neat and orderly and looks as it would belong to Mrs. Shipley. Behind a large oaken wardrobe, they also discover a lacquered wooden box with strange inlaid symbols on the lid, containing two old glass syringes complete with injection needles and a small glass vial with a lime green liquid. Didn’t Shipley have needle marks and the look of a drug fiend?

Downstairs & garden

Downstairs is a murky parlor, complete with knit-works and garish cushions that were fashionable three decades ago. A short hallway connects the entrance to the kitchen in the rear of the house, where a back door leads to a walled-in garden. There’s a small bathroom next to the kitchen and a locked door in the hall. Nothing is found in these rooms, except another locked door in the kitchen. The garden is small and completely walled in by a 9-foot tall brick wall of recent construction, and in the far end of the garden, there’s a tool shed almost falling apart from neglect and old age.

Next, the investigators try the door in the hallway. Carl remembers that Shipley had a key on a thong around his neck, but they shoved his body into the creepy painting, so the key is beyond their reach now. The door is negotiated with a crowbar instead. Inside, is a dark and dirty bedroom with an old bed and a potty. The investigators notice that all the wooden bed posts are worn in a peculiar way, with circular wear marks. It is also evident that someone has been lying on the bed quite recently, and upon closer inspection, they find some red-brown stains that might be blood… Maybe the Shipleys kept a prisoner here…?

Basement

Behind the locked door in the kitchen is a wooden staircase leading to the basement. A nude electrical bulb lights up the stair and there’s another one in the basement. Weapons drawn, Carl and Edward descend into the basement, which is cluttered with ordinary household junk, of the kind you collect over 40 years of life. However, the boxes and broken furniture are stacked so that a clear path leads to the south wall. Closer inspection of the floor reveals markings on the concrete floor, maybe from a hidden door. Edward checks the wall and finds a crack that might outline a hidden door and after some manipulation of the wall in the area, a click is heard and door swings open, revealing a secret room, all surfaces lined in shiny riveted steel.

The room is dominated by two shiny metal tables, laden with alien-looking instruments mostly resembling some sort of laboratory setup. Against the back wall, metal stock shelves hold glass and metal jars as well as many books, most of them looking old. Against another wall sits a great stone tub with a metal lid, mostly resembling some sort of sarcophagus and next to it there’s a 1- by 1-meter metal door set into the wall. The room smells like disinfectant mixed with ozone, making the investigators hesitant to enter as they suspect they will be electrocuted. Scanning the room from the door, Edward spots some large glyphs on the walls. The glyphs are unknown but resemble the ones on the lacquered syringe box they just found, and they seem to have been etched into the metal. Finally, Edward takes the plunge and walks into the room. Nothing happens. However, he can hear faint moaning and banging sounds. Carl says that Edward’s just imagining things. Upon closer inspection of the laboratory tables, the investigators find a steel tray with two more identical syringes and yet another vial of lime green liquid. They also identify some strange contraptions resembling some sort of machine, with dials and switches, but looking much smoother, with rounded shapes and made of strange materials. The jars on the shelves look like chemical reagents, but the labels are in glyphs, similar to the ones on the walls, as are the text of the books. Now Carl also hears the banging sounds, which seem to emanate from the small metal door. Carl opens the door, while Edward points his gun, ready to shoot. Inside, in pitch darkness, they find a young woman, bound and gagged, her clothing torn and dirty. After helping her out, the woman presents herself as Alberta Boggs. It turns out that she’s a “lady of the night”, who followed this Shipley bloke home after having been promised money and drugs. However, he drugged her and she woke up bound and gagged in the darkness… Well, some pervs obviously get off by doing such things, she says. Miss Alberta wants to know if the PCs have a cigarette because she’s dying for a smoke, or even better if they have the drugs that Shipley promised her. And where is that bastard anyway? She hasn’t even been paid yet!

 

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Miss Alberta Boggs

 

 

While Alberta has a smoke, sitting on a chair, the investigators decide to check the sarcophagus. When they lift the lid, the stench is unbearable. Inside, they find body parts in various stages of decomposition, mostly from what seems to be women, but also from at least one man. Disgusted, they close the lid before Alberta sees anything. She, on the other hand, has gotten her eyes on the syringes and demands that the investigators “share” the dope with her. After some discussion, where Alberta shows her superior persuasion skills, they go upstairs where Alberta lies down on the bed and injects a dose of the green stuff. Her eyes immediately roll up and she sinks down on the bed, unmoving…

Carl and Edward, unnerved, decides to go before someone finds them. They locate an old phone in the parlor and calls the Metropolitan Police about a suspected burglary and specifically asks for Inspector Barrington. After that, they take all the paintings, the syringes and drugs and the strange books and calls for a large cab. As they carry out the loot to the car, an old man, presenting himself as “the Major” walking a basset dog walks up to them and asks if they are moving, eh? Giving a half-assed reply, Carl loads up the last of the stuff and the London cab rolls away, just as two police patrol cars turn into the street in the opposite direction.

 

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The Major

 

The cab driver, Pete the Cabbie, is extremely chatty and knowledgeable about the streets of London, and as they arrive at the hotel, he tells the PCs to call him if they need a ride again. As they enter the hotel, the clock is about 7 pm. It feels strange to walk into the hotel, their home away from home, missing a member of the team…

 

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Pete the Cabbie

 

Waiting…

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | evening

 

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Aerial view of Tower Bridge

 

Upon returning to the hotel, the investigators stash the art and the other stolen goods in Slim Shady’s room (they have two double rooms and one single room where Slim stayed). After updating the other PCs, H.P leaves to stake out the Blue Pyramid Club – they wouldn’t want to miss if the strange truck arrives to pick up club patrons again. The rest of the evening is spent having dinner in the hotel restaurant and after that a few drinks in the hotel bar. A calm evening of R&R before retiring to get some sleep…

 

I fought the law…

London, UK, Monday, February 3rd, 1925 | early morning

 

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The policeman cometh…

 

Around 9 o’clock the investigators are awakened by harsh pounding on the hotel room doors. Outside, grim bobbies demand their presence in the hotel lobby in ten minutes. Sleepy and unkempt, the investigators put on some clothes and leave their rooms. In the lobby, a much annoyed Inspector Barrington is waiting, demanding to know what they have to do with an anonymous tip about a burglary in a certain Chelsea artist’s domicile. Apparently, the semi-famous artist Miles Shipley and his elderly mother, Bertha Shipley were nowhere to be found and all his art was gone. The alleged kidnapped woman was also nowhere to be found. All that was found was a bed with traces of blood and what looked like electrical burn marks in the cracked corners of the room. And in the attic, there were traces of a fight. Also, there were witnesses who saw two men resembling the PCs move things from the house. The PCs manage to keep up their innocent appearance, spilling nothing. After a thorough interrogation, a clearly annoyed Barrington tells them in sharp formulations that he warned them about taking illegal action and tells them to stay in town and leaves with the bobbies.

 

Mr. Shady, I presume…

Flabbergasted, the investigators sit in the lounge, hair on end and an air of dog-breath around them. Seems they have managed to antagonize the law again…

As they discuss the next line of action, Carl looks over to the stairs up and sees Slim Shady coming walking down, a puzzled look on his face, but otherwise in perfect shape, even if his clothing isn’t as immaculately pressed as usual…

 

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Slim Shady comes down the stairs…

 

After initial happy greetings, Shady tells his story. Basically, he cannot remember anything beyond looking at the weird painting in Shipley’s attic. He does have some vague recollection of a primordial swamp or jungle. Other than a soreness in his throat and, well, rear body parts, he feels great. Even better than in a long time. The first thing he remembers is waking up on the floor in his hotel room, next to the weird painting. After a quick refresher in the bathroom, he then came down to look for his colleagues, and here they are!

After returning to their quarters to dress and get presentable, the investigators return to the hotel restaurant to have breakfast and discuss the next line of action. However, during the meal, the others can’t avoid noticing that Shady’s dietary preferences seem to have, well, changed. He ingests large amounts of water and seems to prefer meat and protein over other foodstuffs – ham, sausage, eggs, and bacon disappear at an alarming rate, which is quite uncharacteristic of the otherwise very polished demeanor of the attorney. Maybe he’s just starved and malnourished after his disappearance…

The next days are spent at the hotel or in the near vicinity, waiting for a signal from H.P or Kent who takes turns to stake out the Blue Pyramid Club. This also gives the investigators a chance to rest and recuperate as well as study their occult tomes.

 

Follow that truck!

London, UK, Wednesday, February 5th, 1925 | late evening, about 11.30 pm

 

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London cab

 

Finally, there’s a call from H.P Rennfarth late on Wednesday evening. Calling from a payphone near the Blue Pyramid Club, Rennfarth reports that a truck has parked near the club and that they are loading in club patrons as they speak! And it seems that the polite spice merchant Mr. Tewfik is leading the whole thing! The investigators, bored and restless from the wait eagerly jump from the Chesterfield sofas and call Pete the Cabbie to come and get them now! By lucky chance, Pete was on his way home, near the hotel and he arrives within 10 minutes and they proceed to drive over to the nightclub as the last club patrons climb onto the canvas-topped back of a beat-up old truck.

 

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The truck (but with a canvas top instead)

H.P reports that about 30 or so club patrons, mostly male, have gone into the truck, led by Mr. Tewfik, who’s now in the driver’s cabin with an unknown man. As the truck revs up the engine and takes off, the PCs tells Pete to “follow that truck”!

The truck rolls east through the night streets and after some time they leave the city and the lights behind and roll into the countryside. The truck moves steadily east, on smaller and smaller country roads. After some 1 1/2 hours Pete says that they are in Essex, near the sea. It is hard to perceive the landscape around them but a certain somewhat salty smell of moist earth tells them that the land in the area is water-sick, as is also corroborated by frequent glimpses of watery surfaces around the road as well as the passing of numerous little creaky bridges.

 

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Essex saltmarshes from the air

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Essex saltmashes

 

Rolling down a road really nothing more than a dirt track really, the truck arrives at a guarded gate in a long 2-meter high old brick wall. Four armed men are seen guarding the gate, but they just hail the truck and let them through.

The cab has stopped around a bend a bit further up the road and the investigators make the last stretch on foot, ordering Pete to stay put and alert if they should be forced to leave in a hurry.

The investigators choose to approach the wall to the west of the gate instead of challenging the guards. The wall seems old and neglected and is easy to climb. However, jumping down on the other side, Shady manages to twist his ankle and is now hobbling along with clenched teeth. Beyond the wall, some 800 meters away, a once magnificent but now rather derelict mansion can be seen, surrounded by marshes or water on all sides, effectively standing on a small island. Beyond the gate, there’s a narrow road running along a raised levee connecting to the mainland and in the center of the levee is a small wood and steel bridge of more recent construction. Using stealth, the investigators manage to skulk over the levee unseen. They approach the house but stay hidden in the terrain, watching in their scopes and binoculars. The people from the truck seem to be in the house, which is brightly lit. Outside, two guards armed with submachineguns guard the truck. From their vantage point, the PCs also spot light some 4-500 meters to the west of the mansion. After some 15–20 minutes, figures dressed in hooded black robes, some wearing strange masks exit the house and forms a procession moving towards the lighted area west of the mansion. To their horror, the procession is led by Mr. Tewfik and Mr. Gavigan, who both are carrying strange scepters and big old tomes of forbidden knowledge. The cultists also drag some seemingly sedated and half-naked prisoners with them. Through his scope, Edward thinks that he recognizes Miss Yalesha, but he can’t be sure in the darkness…

 

Cultist

Cultist

 

 

The PCs follow the procession from a distance, hiding in the terrain. The lighted area turns out to be a cleared area, centered by a pointed stone monolith reminiscent of Egypt on a small hill. Lit torches have been placed in a ring around the area. Several hooded cultists are already at the site, along with several more semi-naked people that seem drugged. As the procession approaches, some of the prisoners are chained to great iron rings on the monolith. Others are chained to steel spikes that are driven into the ground along with the ones from the procession.

 

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The Monolith

Cultists start do dance frantically around the victims as the high priests start to chant blasphemous words from the books. The air around the monolith seems to grow thicker and blue electrical discharges emanate from the monolith. Some of the cultists throw off their robes, revealing their naked flesh and touching themselves in the most shocking way. Suddenly a form emerges from the dim area around the monolith, soon followed by two more!

 

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Monolith entity #1

 

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Monolith entity #2

 

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Monolith entity #3

The entities immediately crawl down the monolith and begin to carnally ravage the shackled victims, surrounded by the ecstatically moving cultists, some also starting mate with each other, all accompanied by the rhythmic drone of Tewfik and Gavigan’s chant. The sight of the alien monsters ravaging the human victims is horrifying, but Carl and Edward manage to stay cool and focused. Slim, however, loses it and starts babbling incoherently, trying to control his feelings of utter insignificance at bay with words.

Keeper’s note: Slim missed his SAN roll and ended up with a short temporary bout of logorrhea…

Edward decides that he has had enough and aims at Gavigan though his rifle scope, firing two quick rounds into the cultist’s chest, sending him sprawling on the ground. Tewfik looks around in horror and produces two short scepters which he keeps crossed in front of him while continuing the chant. The entities do not stop their horrendous activities though… The shots also alert the cultists who stop their carnal acts, looking around desperately to locate the shooter! Meanwhile, Edward calmly takes aim at Tewfik and fires two shots at the high priest. One hits in the chest and the other is a clean head hit, dropping him to the ground instantly in a bloody mess.

Keeper’s note: Edward managed two hits, of which one was a crit, dealing Tewfik a whooping 30 points of damage!

This time around, the cultists spot the muzzle flash and starts running towards the PCs, weapons drawn, intent on killing the blasphemers, or worse. The chant broke, the entities stop what they’re doing and move drift back to the monolith, where they slowly fade out along with the blue electrical discharge The investigators realize that they must move and start running towards the truck at the mansion in the dark, Slim hobbling along with his sprained ankle, babbling as a maniac, making an excellent sound trace for the cultists to follow…

Approaching the truck, Edward stops and shoots the guard to the left, sending the other one running for cover. After a final sprint, the PCs finally reaches the truck. Carl picks up the Thompson that the shot guard was carrying and jumps into the passenger seat. Slim takes the driver’s seat, while Edwards posts himself on the truck bed in the back, ready to shoot at any approaching enemies. Luckily, the keys are in the ignition. Problem is, the truck won’t start… As Slim swears, turning the key, again and again, the second guard appears from near the mansion and starts spraying the truck with his Thompson. He’s a lousy shot though and manages to miss the PCs despite lots of bullets in the air. There is a short firefight, ending when the guard takes a bullet. Meanwhile, the truck still won’t start and now the pursuing cultists are almost upon them. Edward tries to keep the crazed cultist at bay from the rear of the truck but they keep coming and four cultists manage to come real close to the truck. Carl hangs out the passenger window and fires a salvo at them, missing badly, while Edward manages to get one of them in the leg, stopping her advance.

Things look bleak when Slim finally manages to get the engine running and they accelerate away towards the gate leading off the creepy island!

Keeper’s note: I had Slim roll Luck checks to determine if and when the engine would start and he rolled badly…

As they approach the levee, Carl spots that the bridge in the middle has started to move! It turns out that it is a swivel bridge. On the far end of the bridge, there’s a small wooden cabin with a single window directed at the bridge, where Carl suspects that the bridge operating controls are situated. Leaning out of the window of the speeding truck, he fires a ten-round burst of .45 caliber bullets into the cabin, turning it into splinters.

The bridge stops moving and despite the slightly odd angle of the bridge, Slim just barely manages to maneuver the truck onto it and on towards the gate, where three guards stand on the road, firing upon the truck. Despite the hail of bullets, the truck crashes through the gate and beyond into the Essex night, sending the guards diving for cover…

They don’t slow down until they reach Pete and the parked cab, where they disable the truck and quickly change vehicle to drive on towards London and safety.

 

Breaking and entering

London, UK, Thursday, February 6th, 1925 | very early morning, about 4.00 am

Back in London, the investigators decide to pop by Tewfik’s spice shop. Pete parks a distance away and the last bit is covered on foot. After some reconnaissance, they find a back door which is forced open. They first search the shop but nothing suspicious is found. Then they ascend the stairs to Tewfik’s private quarters on the second floor of the building. The flat is furnished in Egyptian style, complete with elaborate carpets, pillows, and low tables. Hanging lamps, incense burners and a fancy hookah pipe complete the mid-east style. A sizeable oil heater keeps the temperature at Egyptian level, making the PCs perspirate in their winter clothing. The investigators split up and search the rooms, finding a glass case with souvenir style statuettes of various Egyptian gods as well as a prominently displayed but dusty Koran.

In a roll-top desk in the living room, they find a hidden compartment with two sandstone vials, a folded black robe, a black inverted ankh on a metal chain, a black skullcap embroidered with inverted ankhs and twin scepters made out of black metal, and a crumbling papyrus scroll covered in ancient hieroglyphs. On the wall, they also find an asymmetrical ornate mirror with strange figures and glyphs carved into the frame.

Carrying all their newly acquired loot, the PCs leave the same way as they came and haste back to the cab, which carries them back to their hotel. Pete says that this has been his best taxi job for a long time – exciting and great pay and he leaves his private number, should the gentlemen need his services again.

The clock hands show 5.30 am when our intrepid investigators finally crash into bed, falling into the deep dreamless sleep of oblivion…


And there we had to quit for the night after an awesome session of Call of Cthulhu! Stay tuned for more recaps from our Masks of Nyarlahotep campaign!

 

 

 

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Session 11 | London | The Talented Mr. Shipley

 

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Papillons du mal. Miles Shipley 1923. Oil on canvas.

 

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Absent this session

Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics Specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Link to background stories and portraits


Meeting Yalesha

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | slightly past noon

Late from the drawn out meeting with the head of the Penhew Foundation, Mr. Gavigan, the investigators catch a cab to go to the meeting with Yalesha the belly-dancer. On the way to Limehouse, Carl and Edward pick up Slim Shady and proceed to the pub where they’re supposed to meet Yalesha. Even though the cab driver is most knowledgeable of the London streets, frequent traffic jams make them arrive about 20 minutes late. The pub looks like it has been in the same location for several hundred years, a battered wooden sign reading “The Bouncing Duck” swinging over the entrance in the drizzle. Inside, it’s murky, the colored small pane windows letting almost no light in. There’s no sign of the young woman, only some working class males can be seen sipping lager at the tables. Only after asking, the bartender points out a slim figure in a hat too large, sitting at a corner table in the back of the room. Yalesha, now more properly dressed in a woman’s trench coat, is hard to recognize in the dim light but she waves them over, looking around nervously. She’s a bit suspicious about Carl and Slim, but soon calms down and tells her story.

 

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Off-work Yalesha

 

Her Egyptian boyfriend and husband-to-be, Fahed Al-Harbi has disappeared and she suspects that he has been murdered by evil men. He worked at the club as a bartender and got involved in something and now he has been gone for 6 weeks. The young woman says that maybe once or twice a month, a shabby canvas-topped truck comes to the club somewhere around midnight. Some two dozen of the club patrons then go out and get in the truck and it drives away. Whereto she doesn’t know, but she suspects somewhere out of town. The patrons don’t come back to the club later, what she knows of, but then they close at 1.00 am. Yalesha thinks that this operation is run by a dangerous man called Tewfik Al-Sayed and she has heard the name The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh mentioned in connection to this. She doesn’t think that the owner of the club, Mr. Nawisha, is involved but she is sure that he knows some of what is going on. Yalesha also says that these people have eyes and ears everywhere and that it’s not safe to discuss such matters in the open. The PCs volunteer to get Yalesha somewhere else to live, but she says that she has no one else in this country and that the alternative to dancing for money at the club is doing immoral things instead. Also, her beloved Fahed might return and she must be there to meet him. She asks the PCs to find out what happened to her boyfriend. She also wants revenge on these evil men!

Edward borrows the establishment’s phone and calls Mahoney to see if he has some notes on the young man. Mahoney doesn’t know the name from memory but promises to check his files. Edward then phones Inspector Barrington to ask the same thing. Checking the files of victims, Barrington says that Fahed’s name is not among them, but then again, some victims haven’t been identified yet due to the state of decomposition of the bodies when discovered. He also informs Edward that a man called Tewfik Al-Sayed was implicated in the investigation in relation to the Egyptian killings. Apparently, he’s a spice merchant operating out of the rather poor and immigrant-rich neighborhood of Bethnal Green. Al-Sayed had also been hired as a guide in a Penhew Foundation-funded expedition to Egypt a few years back. The man was investigated and even tailed for a week but nothing incriminating could be found. Al-Sayed also denied that there was a thing such as The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh.

Yalesha looks a bit relieved when she learns this and the PCs promise to look into the thing. Edward hands Yalesha his business card, writing down the name and number of their hotel and asks her to contact them if something new should happen or if she needs assistance. And with that, the young woman walks out into the rain without looking back.

 

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | late afternoon

Bethnal Green, East End

 

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East End street

 

 

 

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Whitechapel locals enjoy jellied eel, East End, the 1920s

 

After meeting Yalesha, the investigators take a cab to Mr. Tewfik’s spice shop in Bethnal Green in East End to follow up on their new lead. As the cab moves north through the busy streets, the poverty and despair get even more evident. The shop fronts and people’s dress switch from mainly English working class to more exotic as the area is populated mainly by immigrants of many different nationalities. On Canrobert Street, a small side street to Bethnal Green Road, they find Tewfik’s Spice Emporium, advertised in both English and Arabic. The PCs stop the cab some 100 yards up the road, then walks back, scanning the busy street for threats. There are lots of shops here at street level, with what seems to be lodgings in the floors above. Carl and Edward stay outside keeping watch on the opposite side of the street, while Slim enters the shop, pretending to be a customer. The shop has racks to the ceiling on all walls and a big counter in the center of the room. Sliding ladders provide access to the higher shelves. Just inside the entrance is a stair up with a “Private” sign and in the back of the shop, there’s a door. Upon entering, Edward is overwhelmed with the scents of spices from all over the world.

 

Tewfik

Mr. Tewfik Al-Sayed

Browsing around, Slim is soon greeted by the shop’s proprietor, Mr. Tewfik as he calls himself, a pleasant and knowledgeable man. Slim acts the customer and manages to find out that Tewfik sells spices, tea, and coffee but not so much more. The man seems beyond reproach. He’s also a good businessman, and after a while, the attorney exits the shop with a big brown paper bag filled with exotic oriental spices. Outside, nothing has happened other than that Carl spotted some middle eastern men looking suspiciously their way and discussing something but then they disappeared in the throng. After a short sidewalk meeting, the PCs decide to follow up on the “mad painter”-lead. They catch a cab and go to their hotel to find out the address of Mr. Shipley.

 

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | early evening

The talented Mr. Shipley

The artist’s residence is in sophistically sordid Chelsea, just south of Hyde Park, a favorite haunt of London’s artist elite. Exiting the cab on a suburban street with little two-story houses and well-tended gardens, Shipley’s house stands in contrast to them. The garden is a tangled mess and the house in need of repairs, paint chipping, and wood rotting. Upon entering the front garden, the PCs notice that the curtains are drawn on all the windows.

“–Seclusive people, those artists, eh?”

No one answers their knocks with the lion knocker but after a long while, shuffling sounds can be heard from within and the door is opened by an old white haired lady, holding a knitting basket with thread and knitting needles. The air inside smells stale and has that scent of old people and slow decay.

 

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Mrs. Shipley

Upon asking for Mr. Shipley, the old lady says that he is indisposed, but after stating that they are there to buy some art as they are American art collectors, the old lady disappears up the stairs of the narrow house and promptly brings down a protesting wreck of a man:

“–No mama, I don’t want to see any nice gentlemen! I’m tired! And where are my French toffees and hot cocoa?”

 

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Miles Shipley, one of his better days

 

Miles is dressed in color-spattered pajama pants and plaid slippers with holes in them. His chest is bare and he has borrowed mama’s morning gown, which he wears open, arms down. The man hasn’t shaved in days and his pallid face and hole-eyed looks suggest that he does not sleep all that well. Or that he is a drug fiend. Or both. However, he lights up when he hears the word “purchase” and immediately shows the investigators up the stair to the garret, which he unlocks using a key that he keeps on a leather thong around his neck. The old lady, who seems to be the one running things around here, follows last.

The garret has sloping walls and is dimly lit by kerosene lamps. Along the walls are stacks of paintings. There’s a shut skylight, painted black, letting very little daylight in. In the back, an old Victorian closet looms, locked with an oversized padlock.

The manic artist invites the PCs to have a peek at the art, even lighting a naked lightbulb hanging from the rafters for better visibility. Mrs. Shipley sits in an old comfy chair towards the door, picking up her knitting project. As Miles starts pacing, chewing his nails, the PCs set to work with one stack of paintings each. Edward’s and Slim’s stacks contain six paintings each, while Carl checks out two stacks with a total of nine paintings.

The motives are all starkly discomforting and on the verge of mind-bending (see List of artworks, Dropbox) but despite the clearly demented content, Slim and Edward manage to shrug off the discomfort. Carl, on the other hand, snaps from delusion and starts slashing a painting depicting a city of dark tower-like buildings, screaming at the top of his lungs. His compatriots manage to calm him and send him downstairs to sit in the lounge and take a time out.

In the garret, Miles is severely upset at the damage done to his painting and demands satisfaction – in cash that is. There’s also especially one painting that’s drawing the PCs attention – one of the paintings that poor Carl reviewed:

“It is night. A vast black mountain rises from a savannah. A great figure rises over the mountain, blotting out the moon. Its head is a massive red tendril. Near a temple-like building, tiny human figures lift their hands imploringly towards the creature; each wears a head-dress of the Bloody Tongue.”

 

After some haggling about the price, the PCs buy the mountain-painting for 160 Pounds plus the damaged one for 90 Pounds. As the economic transaction is settled by Slim, and they get ready to leave, Edward asks to see what’s in the locked cupboard. Miles looks immediately nervous, stating that it’s just some old rubbish and nothing to be seen.

And this is where Edward decides that enough is enough, drawing his .38 revolver, demanding that the artist opens the cupboard. Miles is wringing his hands, looking at Mrs. Shipley for support, gaining nothing but a hard look from the old lady. Slim menacingly put on his knuckle-dusters and takes away the old lady’s knitting basket. As Slim looks over towards Edward and the artist across the room, Mrs. Shipley lunges out, fast as a cobra, trying to bite Slim in the neck! The attorney manages to dodge, aiming a punch at the old lady who dodges with amazing dexterity. This is the second time that Edward has had enough. He picks up an old pink pillow with a floral pattern and fires at the old lady in a cloud of duck feathers, hitting her in the chest – with no effect! Meanwhile, the deranged artist has produced a rusty meat cleaver from somewhere and attacks Edward who turns and fires two shots point blank into the chest of the man, sending him bleeding to the floor. The old lady bites Slim again but with a heroic effort, he manages to shove her off, punching her in the mouth with the knuckle-dusters, sending her dental prostheses flying across the room, before sinking to the floor in a heap, almost passing out from the intense pain where the old lady bit him.

Slim looks up, but where the old lady just stood, there’s now a large serpent-man-thing instead!

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Mrs. Shipley’s real appearance…

Edward fires at the snake-thing through what is left of the pillow, hitting its arm, seemingly to no avail as it tries to pin down Slim. At this time, Carl bursts into the attic, gun in hand drawn by the noise above, just in time to see the snake-thing rush towards the center of the room, making an impossible leap towards the skylight window…

…only to be hit in the chest in mid-jump by two bullets from Edward and his now almost non-existent pillow. The big snake-thing thuds into the roof, missing the skylight and falls to the ground in a bloody mess. [Keeper comment: Edward’s player managed a clean critical hit here, dealing out severe damage in addition to the ordinary hit he also rolled]. As Carl rushes over to tend to Slim’s wounds, Edward puts one bullet each in the heads of the snake-man and the artist – again through the remains pink pillow.

The cordite smelling air is full of blood-smeared duck feathers as Carl tends to Slim’s wounds. It turns out to be two puncture like bites on the attorney’s neck. Carl tries to squeeze out any venom before binding the wounds. Meanwhile, Edward checks the dead for keys to the closet. When he doesn’t find any, he resorts to his trusty crowbar to get the job done. However, it isn’t until Carl gives it a try that the sturdy hinges give up and the closet opens. Inside is an easel, covered with an old bedsheet.

Despite the warnings of Edward and Carl (who are both deliberately looking away), Slim decides to have a peek at the hidden painting. He rips off the cover, revealing a photorealistic painting of an antediluvian jungle swamp. In the center, there’s an island and on the island, there’s a great stone slab, mystical glyphs along its sides. As Slim studies the painting, the fetid swamp water seems to ripple and move. Slim reaches out a hand to touch the fantastic painting:

“–Hey guys! This is unbelievingly realistic! Look – I can almost……”

Suddenly, all goes silent. Edward and Carl take a quick peak in the direction of the painting. Slim is gone. However, on the very realistic painting, a small figure resembling Slim can be seen, waving for help. No sound can be heard. Looking away, the two remaining PCs quickly scramble to find the cover and as they cover the weird painting, they see some 30 strangely dressed snake-men emerge from the borders of the painting, long crooked blades in their scaly hands…

In silence and shock, Carl and Edward clean the scene – they shove the corpses of the snake-man and Miles into the painting and wrap the other paintings in canvas from the roll that they saw Miles pack the painting they bought before all went south…

Exhausted, they look at each other – what now…? Three men entered. One went mad, one disappeared due to some foul sorcery and one is still standing…

And here we had to take a break for the evening. Stay tuned for more Call of Cthulhu goodness from the Fistful of d20’s crew!


Link to the ever-growing tributary page to the heroes lost in the struggle against the Mythos


Reminder to Players: Next time SAN checks for (i) seeing Slim disappear into the painting and (ii) for seeing the Snake-thing. Also, Carl went temporarily insane for the first time so he receives 5% to his Cthulhu Mythos.

 

 

 

 

 

Session 10 | London | London Calling

 

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London – The greatest city in the world!

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Absent this session

Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics Specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Link to background stories and portraits


Making up minds

New York, Thursday, January 22nd, 1925 | about 8.00 p.m

Returning from the Arkham to the laundry hide-out, the PCs confer shortly on the next logical step. Shady wants to go to Boston to seek out John Scott. However, Edward and H.P have already purchased tickets for merry old England. And who can resist 1st Class tickets on the world’s greatest passenger ship, the White Star Lines RMS Majestic?

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The ship leaves for Southampton, England the very next morning, so bags and trunks are hastily packed with the bare necessities for investigator life on the road – including guns, Mythos books. They even bring the heavy stone sphinx carefully packed in a separate crate that’s to be kept in the ship’s hold.

New York, Friday, January 23rd, 1925 | about 9.00 a.m

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Red-lining from New York to Southampton!

The voyage across the Atlantic takes 9 days due to bad weather, but our heroes enjoy their time off – resting, studying Mythos tomes, flirting, romancing, and for some – healing their wounds.

 

Southampton, UK, Sunday, February 1st, 1925 | about 8.00 a.m

Landfall

The Majestic glides towards the Southampton quay. It is cold and foggy, but the investigators feel invigorated by the thought of new vistas. Invigorated by a stout maritime breakfast and strong coffee, they traverse the gangway as kings, while the porters haul their luggage in pursuit, trying to keep up the pace. The first stop is the Customs & Immigration Office located adjacent to the quay.

The customs officer, a portly man in his fifties, checks their papers and passports with an indifferent face. Edward, as a citizen of the Commonwealth, is just waved by, but when the officer sees the gun cases, he insists on seeing the paperwork for the rifles. Being a professional hunter, Edward has a reason for transporting the guns and the PCs are let into the country. On the back of the customs building, there’s a train platform where a train is waiting to take the passengers to Waterloo station in London.

London calling

The train ride to London takes about two hours and is uneventful, but the Americans do get the chance to take in the wet and gray winter of England. About 11.30 a.m, the PCs finally arrive at Waterloo station, wondering where to go next. They decide to start with finding a decent place to live. Edward knows some places as he has been to London on numerous occasions before. It is decided that they will stay at The Cavendish – an upper middle-class hotel situated at No. 81 Jermyn Street in the northern part of St. James’s district (in the City of Westminster). The hotel turns out to be a cozy place, promising “Country solitude in town” and is run by a nice old lady, Mrs. Rosa Lewis.

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Cavendish Hotel

After checking in, the PCs head out for lunch. In the busy streets, they notice a newsboy shouting:

“-Slaughter continues! New Egyptian killing! Read all about it in The Scoop!”  (Clue #27 – see Dropbox)

Edward buys a newspaper. Over a pint of beer, waiting for the food in a pub, the PCs read about the most recent of a series of similar murders that have happened over a period of three years. Apparently, as many as seventeen of the victims have been Egyptians, all killed in similar ways, often found floating in the Thames. The PCs decide to follow up on this and start with one of the London contacts suggested by Jonah Kensington back in New York – Inspector Barrington at Scotland Yard.

Scotland Yard

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Scotland Yard’s headquarters at Victoria Embankment

As soon as the PCs mention Jackson Elias’ name and the Egyptian murders they are told to sit down in a waiting room and soon enough they are shown into the rather cramped office of the veteran police officer. Barrington gives the impression of being a thoroughly professional copper and starts by asking how he can be of assistance. The PCs learn that Jackson Elias contacted him a while back, stating that the Egyptian murders were ritual killings by some occult association calling themselves Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh or some such bollocks. Elias even told him that the Brotherhood was an Egyptian death cult. Even if he thought that Elias was a sensation-seeking journalist, Barrington followed up on this and he even interviewed London’s foremost expert on Egyptology, Mr. Edward Gavigan of the Penhew Foundation on this. Gavigan however, stated that the ancient death cult had no modern-day equivalent and that the current modus operandi did not match the descriptions of the cult of ancient Egypt. Gavigan had also added that, sadly, Mr. Elias was no more than a profit-seeking journalist, out for making a quick quid on the sensational value of such a story. The police-work did after this had also been unable to verify Elias’ claims. The Metropolitan Police had even run a long operation staking out a nightclub run by and mainly catering to Egyptians – The Blue Pyramid Club, as many of the murder victims had been frequent patrons at that establishment. Despite the efforts, nothing new was learned from the effort.

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Inspector James Barrington at Scotland Yard

Barrington also interviews the PCs, trying to ascertain what they know about this ghastly business, but they give him very little information, save that they are here to investigate the circumstances of Jackson Elias’ unfortunate demise and they knew that he had spoken to Elias.

As they leave, Barrington cautions them against doing anything illegal and that the should keep him informed of any progress or clues relating to the Egyptian murders case. The investigators ensure that they will do just that and leave Scotland Yard.

 

The Scoop

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Mickey Mahoney at the Scoop

The second London contact Kensington gave them before leaving was The Scoop editor Mickey Mahoney, making the sordid weekly tabloid the next logical stop. The Scoop specializes in juicy stories about gory murders, sex scandals, and weird occurrences, often penned by Mr. Mahoney himself. Apparently, Elias had met the man several times, when their mutual interest in the occult and weird intersected.

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Busy Fleet Street

The Scoop offices are situated at Fleet Street, not far from Ludgate Circus. When the investigators arrive, Mr. Mahoney greets them with a stinking cigar in his mouth. Apparently, he works the operation by himself. After finding somewhere to sit in the extremely messy office, Mahoney explains that he is extremely saddened by the news of Elias’ demise (which he knows of from the wires) and says that Elias’ friends are his friends. The PCs explain about their investigation into their mutual friend’s murder. The newsman is eager to help and says that Elias met with him recently, promising a juicy story about an evil cult operating in London. Elias also hinted that the cult might be well connected and that it might be connected to the so-called Egyptian killings. Sadly, Mahoney never got the story, and Elias never mentioned any names. Mahoney is still eager to get the story however and offers the investigators up to 15 pounds for the story. Or if they don’t find anything – photos of cute lasses in their knickers will also do…

Mahone also mentions that Elias browsed through The Scoop’s files and that he seemed particularly interested in three stories. After some digging through unsorted heaps of paper, Mahoney gives the PCs a manila folder containing three news clippings (see Clue #25 & 26 in Dropbox). One clipping is about the Egyptian killings, one about some grisly murders in a place called Lesser-Edale, and the last is a semi-famous London artist who produces the most vicious and evil looking paintings.

Mahoney also offers his assistance if they should need a guide or help with their investigations – he’s their man – for a price of course…

 

The Isle of Dogs

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Isle of Dogs map

In the evening, after meeting the cynical, chain-smoking journalist, the investigators decide to take the stroll down to the Isle of Dogs to grab a bite and a bitter, and maybe even check out the Egyptian Club – The Blue Pyramid.

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The Isle of Dogs, 1925 ca

The Isle of Dogs is almost an island in the city, surrounded by the Thames on three sides. The area is rather run down and encircled by docks and quays. It’s not hard to find a rowdy pub. After a few beers to boost the morale, the investigators decide to check out the club.

 

The Blue Pyramid Club

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Entrance to The Blue Pyramid Club

They find the entrance on a dark side street, a long queue outside. After some waiting, a fez-clad man in a huge mustache admits them into the place. Inside, the club is filled with faux-Egyptian paraphernalia – mini sphinxes, Egyptian statues, posters with pyramids, hieroglyphs and so on. It soon also becomes apparent why the place is so popular when the belly-dancers enter the scene…

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The Blue Pyramid bar

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Belly dancers!

As the crowd parties on, and the belly dancer’s dance get more frantic, the investigators spot a group of men sitting in the back of the room, all dressed in dark costumes and wearing red fez hats. One of them definitely looks like the boss. After some discrete questions, they learn that this is Abdul Nawisha, owner of the place. He looks like he means business.

Now the scantily clad belly-dancing ladies have begun to dance around the tables and expect the patrons to tuck money as tips beneath the straps of their costumes. When everyone is mesmerized by the attractive young ladies, Edward decides to have a word with Mr. Nawisha and walks over to the table where the men in fez sit. He hardly manages to mention the words “Egyptian killings” before Nawisha tells his men to “throw out this annoying gentleman”. Four big men grab Edward and soon enough he finds himself on the sidewalk outside the club.

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Yalesha the belly dancer

Standing outside, waiting for Carl, who’s enjoying himself inside with wasting money, Edward decides to scan the place from the outside. There’s a narrow back street beside the club, leading to what seems to be the personnel entrance to the club. A lone woman stands outside in the dark, having a quick cigarette, wrapped in a too large coat over her, well, scanty dance dress. As Edward approaches her, she seems startled and begins to go inside. However, the big game hunter manages to convince her that he means no harm and continues by asking her about the Egyptian killings and the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh. The woman, who introduces herself as Yalesha, says that those kinds of questions are dangerous and that she really must return to the show inside, but looks at Edward with interest and even passes a quick smile before disappearing behind the door.

After some more waiting outside, Carl joins Edward with a dumb smile and as they prepare to leave, there’s a knock on a window – it is Yalesha who’s knocking and is waving to Edward to come closer. She looks around nervously and says that she has information for him and that they should meet tomorrow at The Bouncing Duck in Limehouse at noon. Looking scared, she then runs back into the establishment without looking back.

Happy, and a bit tipsy, our intrepid investigators zig-zag their way back to more fashionable parts of the city without being robbed or worse.

 

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | about 9.00 a.m

The Penhew Foundation

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Breakfast at The Cavendish

Slightly hung over, the PCs eat a sturdy breakfast with lots of coffee and then decide to pay a visit to the Penhew Foundation. As it’s situated in Chelsea near the Natural History Museum, they take a cab. The Penhew Foundation is a High Victorian building, surrounded by a high wrought iron fence and with a doorman just inside the entrance.

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High Victorian style house

Inside, a fancy stair leads to the main floor and a front desk where a very correct British female clerk asks their business. After some waiting over a cup of tea, they are shown to the superbly furnished office of the boss – Edward Gavigan. A man in his fifties, Gavigan is the epitaph of the refined English gentleman, dressed in a Saville Row impeccable pin-striped suit and wearing one of those new wristwatches. The office is luxurious, complete with a huge desk made of exotic wood. In the back of the office, there are built-in cabinets. A modern German safe stands with the door slightly ajar.

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Edward Gavigan, head of Penhew Foundation

After some jolly good pleasantries, he asks how he can be of help. Upon stating their intentions and telling about Jackson Elias’ murder Gavigan seems saddened:

“–Bloody awful business, I must say! Damned fine chap, Elias.”

Gavigan mentions having met with Elias once when Elias wanted to speak with him about Sir Aubrey’s participation in the Carlyle Expedition. He volunteers to try to recapitulate what he told Elias:

Gavigan says that Carlyle obtained information from a mysterious African woman concerning a shadowy time in Egyptian history about which Sir Aubrey had long been interested. In this time a sorcerer was reputed to have ruled the Nile Valley. Alas, Gavigan says with a sad smile, all turned out to be a hoax. In Egypt, the woman disappeared with the expedition’s ready funds, some 3500 British pounds. The money loss was insignificant to Carlyle, but the loss of his lover affected him deeply. Fearing that this loss combined with the intense Egyptian heat would negatively affect her as well as the depressed Carlyle, Miss Hypatia Masters, the expedition’s photographer had suggested that they should spend the summer months in the cool Kenyan uplands. That would also enable her to try her wonderful new camera lenses to photograph the African wildlife. Once in Kenya, the party had entered the dubious territory and met their fates at the hands of local bandits. Gavigan finishes by stating that the majority of the expedition’s records disappeared there as well as Sir Aubrey always kept them with him on expeditions.

Gavigan follows up with saying that despite their grisly end, the expedition managed to find some marvelous finds from other time periods from the test trenches dug at Dhashur. They also found some secondary sites to the west of the Giza pyramids. Most of them are loaned to the British Museum from the Egyptian government, but some are here at the Penhew private collection. With that, he invites the investigators to a tour of the collections. Gavigan shows the PCs endless broken pots, inscribed shards, noseless statues, and bas-reliefs of sleek cats and ladies wearing thin linen. The tour goes on for over an hour without a chance to interrupt, when Edward decides that he really should check out that open safe… With a lame excuse about “nature’s call and all that” Edward leaves the group and heads back to Gavigan’s office, stating to the secretary in the outer office that he has forgotten his gloves. The young secretary is uncertain of what to do but when a loud scream is heard outside, she rushes out, giving Edward the chance to rush into the fancy office and check out the safe. Inside, the only item is a packet (maybe 100) of new 5 pound notes. Edwards leaves the notes and just in time because the secretary arrives after the ruckus in the corridor (which of course was Carl that faked falling and hurting himself).

As the clock is fast nearing noon, the PCs take a hasty goodbye and asks the clerk at the front desk to call for a cab. Edward has a date with the cute belly-dancer after all!

 

Asian Seamen in the port of London, c.1908

Lascars having a break from hard work

 

As they wait for the cab, the investigators note several lascars (East Indian seamen) men working carrying large cases from the Foundation and into a dirty lorry with a canvas top. On the left side of the building, there’s obviously some sort of ware entrance for deliveries.

We leave the investigators in a cab with a very talkative taxi driver, late (it’s about 10 minutes past 12) on their way to Limehouse and the meeting with Yalesha…

 

Session 9 | Arkham | Librorum malum

 

 

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Arkham postcard circa 1923. Private collection.

 

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Absent this session

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats


New Character

Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt


 

Bengtsson

 

Kent Bengtsson is the kid brother of recently deceased investigator Ulla Bengtsson. And just like her, he has got a troubled relation with their father, the industrial magnate in chemicals. Contrary to her, he stayed away from working in the family business and enlisted as a pilot during the war. His experiences in war-torn France left him a scarred man, both physically and emotionally. He was shot down burning and spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp.

He returned home after the war as a physically scarred, disillusioned and broken man, making a day-to-day meager living by taking odd jobs as a show pilot at M.P’s Flying Circus and the occasional air pest control run. However, jobs have been scarcer lately due to his excessive drinking and drug habits.

Currently, he has been living with his sister in New York (with her providing food and rent) subsisting on a moderate monthly allowance from their absent father (who they meet only on a few yearly family functions).

Ulla meant all to him – she was his only solid anchor in the sane world and news of her violent death grieves him greatly but has also lit a flame of vengeance in his mind. He has now hooked up with the investigators to avenge his beloved sister and put an end to the evil that these deranged people and their minions…

Link to background stories and portraits


Chattanooga Choo Choo

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Slow train to dawn

 

On a train in rural Massachusetts, Wednesday, January 21st, 1925 | about noon

Arkham

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Picturesque Arkham

 

The train ride from New York to Arkham had taken some 5 hours including the change in Boston. Exiting the train onto the small snowy platform, sore from the hard train benches, Carl, Slim and Kent decide to take the omnibus from the train station, taking them across the Miskatonic River to the Miskatonic University campus area. Professor Cowles ought to be in his office at the Department of Liberal arts.

Miskatonic University

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Miskatonic University. Ish.

 

Asking their way across the campus, everyone seems to know the professor and the male students looks especially happy when the Cowles name pops up.

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Professor Anthony Cowles

 

They find the professor in his office, buried amidst stacks of paper, thick books, and other academic paraphernalia, grading a paper while puffing on a pipe. The jovial scholar invites them to sit down, offering not-so-fresh coffee and cordially asks them how he can be of assistance.

Carl and Ulla interviewed him briefly after his lecture on the night of Elias’ death and he remembers Carl. After some discussion, it becomes clear that Cowles does not know more than what is summarized in handout #23. Basically, it comes down to:

  • A bat cult once existed among the Aboriginals in Australia, worshipping an entity known as The Father of Bats.
  • Somewhere in west Australia, there’s a place where once enormous beings gathered.
  • An Australian researcher, Arthur MacWhirr was attacked by Aboriginals while investigating some old stone monuments. Apparently, the attackers used the traditional weapons of the Bat Cult from long ago.

The PCs also disclose some of the mysterious events and observations they have done since Elias met his fate and it becomes clear that the professor acknowledges the possibility of magic and that science has not yet accounted for all things. He also says that he has read a dreadful book of sorcery, named “Ponape Scriptures” that was at the University of Sidney collections, but that it was lent to a man named John Scott of Boston, Massachusetts, and that it was never returned. Cowles is an expert on things Polynesian, Australian, and New Zealandic, but knows very little of the African leads that the investigators are now pursuing.

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Miss Ewa Seward Cowles

 

The meeting is ended rather abruptly when the professor’s daughter, Miss Ewa burst into the office, asking about that lunch they had planned.

Miskatonic Library

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One of the study halls of Miskatonic Library

 

The university library is situated just on the other the block from the Dept. of Liberal Arts, so the investigators decide to go there to see if they find something of value.

Carl asks the librarian at the front desk about the occult and Egyptian books and is directed to the east wing of the 3rd floor.

Meanwhile, Slim rummages through the inventory cards like a madman, discovering that the library indeed holds some very rare occult books. However, the librarian informs him that the books are part of the restricted collection and that they must talk to the head of the library, Dr. Armitage if they’re going to get access. The professor’s office is situated on the 3rd floor, but apparently, he’s not at his office today. Instead, Slim is directed to assistant director Llanfer, who is second in command.

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Assistant director Wilfred Llanfer.

Restless as always, Kent decides to check out the basement where old books, bound periodicals, and newspapers are located. There’s also a study area near the newspapers.  He also finds a locked door with a brass sign saying “Archive”. Being a man of action, Kent devises a fiendish plan to get access to the archive without being spotted.

First, he defecates on the floor in front of the door, hoping that this disgusting deed will keep nosy library attendees away. He then uses his small crowbar to break open the old lock on the door and enters the room. In the room, there are two plain desks with reading lamps and along the west wall, brown cardboard boxes are stacked to the roof on old shelves. Kent searches the room for hidden door and compartments but does not find anything out of the ordinary. He then scans the boxes and spots a box labeled “Restricted Access Collection”, which he searches through, finding lists of people who has been asking for or being permitted to study the restricted books. Kent folds the documents and puts them inside his aviator leather jacket and leaves the room, just missing the turd left outside the door. As he vanishes up the east stairway he hears someone shout in disgust over finding the excrements:

“Bloody hell that’s gross! Not again! Damned vagrants!

While Kent has been skulking around the basement, Carl has been studying the occult section as well as the sections on archaeology, anthropology, religion, and mythology, all situated on the 3rd floor. His cursory search spots many potential works of interest but nothing out of the ordinary.

However, in the Egyptology section, he finds an academic work by a Dr. Ali Kafour of the University of Cairo, describing some disturbing legends from the 3rd and 4th Dynasties in Egypt:

  • In the late 3rd Dynasty, when Pharaoh Zoser ruled a there came a mighty sorcerer known as Nephren-Ka to Egypt, bringing madness and death to those he willed at a flick of his finger. The story says that he came from dreaded Irem, ancient City of Pillars, deep in the desert sands of Arabia.
  • Nephren-Ka worshiped an old foul god – the Black Pharao, and soon they became as one, and now no one can distinguish their deeds and legends.
  • Nephren-Ka and Zoser fought long over control of the realm. However, no records from this time remain today.
  • For a time, the Black Pharao ruled over the peoples of the Nile, but at last Sneferu arose, founding the 4th Dynasty and with the aid of the goddess Isis he fought and brought down the Black Pharao, restoring the land from evil.
  • Legend says that Sneferu built a mighty pyramid to contain the still magical body of the Black Emperor, but the structure collapsed even as Sneferu was building a second pyramid. The Collapsed Pyramid is situated at what now is Meidum. The second pyramid is the Bent Pyramid at Dhashur. Records indicate that Nephren-Ka’s remains were moved from the Collapsed Pyramid to the Bent Pyramid. However, explorations at both pyramids have failed to substantiate this. No trace of the Black Pharao has been discovered at either site.
  • Legend also says that Sneferu built yet another pyramid at Dhashur, the Red Pyramid, to guard Dhashur, lest Nephren-Ka should rise from the dead.
  • Pharao Sneferu also ordered all traces of the Black Pharao stricken from the land, killing worshippers of the Black Pharao in the process. Legends say that remaining worshippers fled south, into the hideous swamps beyond the Sudan river.
  • The book also mentions that in the 6th Dynasty, Queen Nitocris was suspected of being in league with a new cult of the Black Pharao, but evidence of this is at best sporadic and much debated among scholars of Egyptology.
  • Finally, the book mentions that Nephren-Ka (or the Black Pharao) sometimes was known under the name of Neyar-Hotep.

At the same time, Slim gets to meet assistant director Llanfer who calmly informs him that the only person with access to the restricted collection is Dr. Armitage and that he will be back tomorrow morning.

In the light of this, the investigators decide to stay the night in Arkham and go back tomorrow. On the way to the campus, they saw a nearby hotel and head there through the increasing snowfall.

Hotel Miskatonic

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Hotel Miskatonic, Arkham

 

The five-story hotel on West College Street turns out to be very luxurious and expensive, but the investigators think that they are worth it and checks in nevertheless. After a nice meal and a Miska-Tonic in the bar, Carl and Slim withdraw to their rooms to study their new books while Kent stays in the bar having a few more drinks while studying and copying the documents he stole.

 

Arkham, Thursday, January 22nd, 1925 | hazy morning

The Restricted Collection

Next morning, which is sunny but cold they head back to the library and get an appointment with Dr. Armitage, who turns out to be a friendly man, albeit with a slightly troubled look in his eyes. They notice that the old scholars’ left arm seems to be trembling all the time as if having been through a scarring ordeal. Or it is just tics…

While Carl and Slim introduce themselves to Dr. Armitage, Kent returns to the scene of the crime and sneaks into the archive, returning the stolen (and now copied) documents. The door has not been mended so it’s an easy task. Sneaking back up, he’s pretty sure that no one has seen him come or go…

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Dr. Henry Armitage. Head of Miskatonic Library.

 

Dr. Armitage turns out to be a friendly fellow if a bit inquisitive about the reasons for their interest in the tomes of the restricted collection. It soon becomes evident that the good doctor has some hands-on experience with the unknown and things not of this earth. The investigators also share some of their experiences with Armitage, among them the reasons for their interest in these old books, which seems to put him more at ease. He confides that after his terrible experiences with a degenerate sorcerer, he decided that such books are to be kept away from mankind in order to prevent other evil men from meddling with the occult.

Finally, he leads them to a locked vault where the restricted books are kept. The room is windowless and surrounded by thick new-build concrete walls and the thick steel door is protected by several sturdy locks and a state of the art electronic burglar alarm.

Inside the room, the following books are spotted on the shelves:

  • Necronomicon, John Dee English translation
  • Necronomicon, Latin translation
  • Unausprechligen Kulten, German
  • Book of Eibon, English translation
  • Pnakotic Manuscripts, English translation
  • Liber Ivonis, Latin translation
  • Cultes des Goules, French translation
  • Cthulhu in the Necronomicon, English
  • An Investigation into the Myth-Patterns of Latter-Day Primitives with Especial Reference to the R’lyeh Text, English
  • Eltdown Shards, English

Also in the room are two fine oak desks with good reading lamps and a box with white cotton gloves to be worn when handling the books.

The investigators decide that Dr. Armitage is one of the good guys and confides further in him, even showing him photographs of the purportedly magic items that they found in the cult basement under Ju-Ju House (mask, headband, metal bowl, scepter). Using the Mythos books as reference works, they spend many hours in the vault, trying to shed light on the artifacts, but sadly very little information is found.

  • The only real lead is a text passage in the Necronomicon that discusses an entity called “Nodens”, usually taking the form of a bearded human male, often riding a chariot in the shape of a huge seashell, drawn by beasts from legend and served by winged creatures. The reference mentions a headband that can be used to protect the wearer from the entity’s entourage of creatures.
  • Another lead is a reference to a highly magic item called “Ye Maske of Ha-Jama” that allows the wearer to “communicate with the gods”. However, it is very unclear if the mask in their possession is the same as the one mentioned in the book.

Upon leaving, the investigators even discuss leaving their own Mythos books in the vault as they deem it the safest place, but then decides to take them with them to study them further. After all, knowledge might be the key to success now. Or survival.

Should we stay or should we go?

We leave our intrepid book-wormish investigators trekking back through the snowy streets of Arkham, towards the train station, discussing what to do next – go to merry old England or go to Boston to pay a certain Mr. John Scott a visit…

Decisions, decisions, decisions…


Stay tuned for our next session – it will be, err… interesting, no doubt…

 

 

Session 8 | New York | Funeral

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Party like it’s 1925!

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Absent this session

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Link to background stories and portraits


Par-tay!

New York, Monday January 19th, 1925 | about 6.30 p.m

A ride, good idea!

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Fancy car for fancy people

At 6.30 pm, the fancy car from Carlyle’s arrives to pick up the PCs. Carl, Edward and Slim steps into the jet black speed-monster as the uniformed driver holds the door for them, barely containing a sneer looking at their in his view not-up-to-par tuxedos.

The ride goes up north along the Hudson river, passing such sites as the Sing-Sing prison and the infamous little community of Sleepy Hollow. (No headless riders are to be spotted though… This time at least…). After some 30 minutes, the car arrives at the gates of the estate, the magnificent and brightly lit mansion visible in the midst of a park-like garden. Many expensive cars are parked in front of the entrance, drivers standing talking and smoking in their fancy uniforms.

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The Carlyle mansion

At the large entrance doors, two big men take their names and check against a list, then the PCs are let into a great hall and is immediately offered a glass of excellent champagne by one of the many servitors. After some socializing, a man comes up to Shady, introducing himself as Mr. Grey.

-“Business first”, he says and leads the PCs into to a quieter part of the house. He opens a set of double doors leading into a magnificent library, where Ms. Carlyle is waiting, accompanied by a huge man in a too-tight suit, introducing himself as Mr. Corey. The man has the predatory stance of a professional soldier.

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The library

Erica Carlyle

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Ms. Erica Carlyle

After some pleasantries, the PCs are invited to sit down and offered an expensive drink. Ms. Carlyle then goes straight to the point, asking what they want from her.

Edward takes the lead, stating that he and his associates has been contracted by some wealthy investors (that wishes to be incognito) in Kenya to look into the recent rumours about Roger Carlyle being alive, as they are concerned of the consequences regarding their business deals with the Carlyle business empire if this should be true. If Roger should be alive, that would mean that he could come back as leader of the Carlyle business empire, which would be a bad scenario for them. The reason for them coming here is to ask if Erica can shed some more light on this rumor and if she would know anything that could help with the ongoing investigation.

If the news startles the young heiress, she hides it well, but she explains that she would be very interested in knowing more about theses rumors. Edward also insinuates that if they should find Roger alive, there is a possibility that he could “disappear” again, should she wish so. Erica looks appalled and says that she naturally wants her brother back, but that she doubts that the rumors are correct. Anyway, she says that she would be happy to be of assistance.

In the continued interview with Erica they learn:

  • Erica thinks that Roger had some secret that worried him
  • Roger had a depraved sexual relation with an African woman (which Erica refers to as “that N-o woman”).
  • However, she has never met her and doesn’t know her name.
  • She also thinks that his relation with the African woman was what triggered Roger’s obsession with Africa and also his nightmares and ultimately pushing him to lose his grasp on reality.
  • It was Erica who coerced Roger to go see the jet-set psychiatrist, Dr. Huston.

Keeper note: This was an excellent lie by Edward, where we role-played the conversation with just a few Fast Talk, Persuade and Psychology rolls.

Edward also asks about her brother’s diary, that he has heard of. Erica answers that there is no diary, but some rubbish old occult books that her brother had bought for a lesser fortune and used to obsess over. She even glanced through one of them, “Pankotic Manuscripts” or some such nonsense and became even more worried as the content of that book seemed to substantiate Roger’s developing insanity. However, she says, those books are soon gone as she is in the process of selling them.

The PCs manage to persuade Erica to name the buyer – a certain book collector named Aloysius Marlower – and the price he has offered. The PCs even manages to outbid the man and the meeting concludes with the PCs buying the books for the neat sum of 2800 dollars! Erica is glad to be rid of them and if they can assist in finding out what happened to him, so much better.

The books they purchase are:

  • The Pnakotic Manuscripts (English)
  • Selections de Livre d’Ivon (French)
  • People of the Monolith (English)
  • Life as a God (English)

After getting the books from a hidden safe, the meeting is concluded and the PCs are invited to party, which they do with a vengeance!

A most deadly funeral

New York, Tuesday January 20th, 1925 | about 11.00 a.m

Edward, Carl, and Slim wake up, the sour aftertaste of too much to drink in their mouths and concrete caps on their heads. After some freshening up and a rudimentary breakfast, they drive through the snow to Brooklyn to attend Jackson Elias’ funeral. Edward insists on bringing his scope equipped M98 Mauser jagdgewehr, “just in case”. Upon arrival at the church, Edward gets out of the car and takes post on a small knoll overlooking the church grounds. In silence, he makes himself comfortable in the snow while Carl joins the congregation in the church.

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The Evergreen Cemetery

The funeral service is kept at the Evergreens Cemetery by Reverend Lawrence T. O’Dell, Jr., who was appointed by Kensington. The service in solemn and sincere and the few people attending seem genuinely interested in being there. Kensington holds a short but affectionate speech, leaving no hearts untouched.

On the snowy knoll, Edwards spots nothing unusual, other than a late attendee to the service. Looking in his scope, he sees that the man is sweating profusely despite the cold. Inside, Carl also notices the late guest who arrives just before the end of the service, taking his seat in the last row of the pews.

When the sermon ends, the man exits the church first of all. The other guests gather in the weapons room greeting and talking about their common friend Elias and about the service.

Outside, Edward has made a circular maneuver, placing him near the entrance. When the sweaty man exit the church, Edward approaches him from the side, gun pointed at his face, demanding that the man tells his name and business here.

Upon closer inspection, the man looks quite underdressed for the occasion. With the gun in his face, he’s frozen still, stuttering some lame story about being early for the next funeral. Suddenly, he turns around and makes a run for it. Edward aims at his lower leg and pulls the trigger, but misjudges the moving man and hits him in the upper thigh, point blank. The man stumbles and falls, coloring the snow red, bleeding profusely from a ruptured femoral artery. Edward runs over, trying to get some info from the man before he passes out. At the same time, he sees a black sedan some 100 yards away revving its engine, driving off at top speed. Before reaching the shot man, the big game hunter takes aim for the driver’s head and squeezes the trigger again…

In the scope, he sees the back window shatter and the driver slumps over the wheel, sending the car skidding into a tree. All is still for a few seconds, then the car explodes in a sea of flames. The back door opens, two human torches straggling out, screaming, but falling to the ground after just a few steps, consumed by the flames.

Turning his attention the leg-shot man, he sees that the man has been trying to crawl away but he’s now collapsed, breathing heavily. Drawing his blade, Edward kneels by the mortally wounded man, demanding to know who sent them here. After some threats and pressing of the wounded leg, the man squeals that they were sent by a man named Jim Flynn with the mission to oversee the funeral, taking note of the attendees. He can be found in the Lower West Side harbor district, Warehouse 17. After this, the man passes out from blood loss.

Simultaneously, the church door opens, spilling out church goers. Edward plants his own pistol on the man and throws the Mauser into a bush, screaming:

-“Help! This man has been shot by some thugs in the car over there! There was a firefight and they managed to hit each other!

People run over to help the man, while others run for the burning car. In the distance, police sirens can be heard… It is soon evident that the shot man is dead and efforts are redirected at the people by the car. Someone remarks that these guys must be remarkable shots, hitting each other with pistols at 100 yards…

The driver of the car is burnt to a crisp as well as one of the people in the back seat, but the last one is still alive. Police and ambulance arrive, taking care of the wounded man and taking up witness statements. After a while, an officer finds the stashed Mauser as well. It is concluded that the man outside the church shot at the car that returned fire, killing him with a lucky pistol shot. Edward and the rest of the church attendees are noted for later questioning if needed, and let go. The police label the whole incident as gang-related violence, probably some kind of turf dispute or act of vengeance…

Gun shopping (again…)

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Edward’s favorite store!

On the way home, Edward insists on stopping by his favorite gun shop, getting himself a new Mauser M98 with a sniper scope… And lots of ammo of course…

West Side Story

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The docks

Back at the Harlem laundry shop, Carl and Edward change back to more inconspicuous attire and load up the car for a mission to the harbor district around West Street. They drive downtown to Lower West Side asking around for warehouse 17. After some wrong turns, they find the place all down by the waterfront. Cautious as they are, they park the car a block away and approaches the warehouse on foot. It’s an old wooden structure, painted in chipped light blue color and surrounded by a 6-foot high wooden plank fence with a padlocked gate. The place seems deserted. Outside, they encounter an unwashed old sailor wino who reeks of booze and urine. Old Jim tells them (for a quarter) that yes, this is the place of Jim Flynn and his crew of Irish dockworker thugs. For another quarter, he also informs them that Flynn usually hangs out at the local sailor bar – the Blue Oyster – the next street away. Walking towards the Blue Oyster, Carl and Edward become aware that five sailor type thugs are following them, throwing insults at them, promising the “snobs” a thorough ass whooping, brandishing blackjacks and short blades. Edward resolutely draws his gun, pointing it at them. The thugs back off, and start running in the other direction…

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After work at the Blue Oyster

The Blue Oyster is a rowdy dock bar, situated a half stair down in a dingy basement. Edward and Carl try to look “sailor-ish” and sit down at a table near the entrance, ordering cheap watered beer. The place is full of seamen, dock workers, and winos. A few working girls are working their trade as well.

In the back of the room, there’s a raised wooden dais, surrounded by a low railing. Despite the crowded place, there are only a few tables there, surrounded by stuffed chairs and a sofa. A red-haired man in a finer suit sits there, surrounded by a few rough looking men. The PCs deduce that this must be Mr. Flynn. They discuss ways to approach Flynn but are interrupted when a fat African lady accompanied by two large brutish men come down the stairs and walk straight up to the dais, where they are welcomed. It’s Fat Maybelle! Carl and Edward try to hide their faces to avoid her from recognizing them, putting their snouts far down their glasses.

Flynn and Fat Maybelle have an animated discussion, then she hastily rises up and leaves the place with her entourage. The PCs think that they avoided being spotted… Flynn looks furious and starts yelling at one of his men, waving fists in the air…

Carl and Edwards deduce that Fat Maybelle has somehow teamed up with what seems to be Irish mobsters after having her illegal booze business crushed by the police (and the PCs). Maybe she’s looking for vengeance against them?

Edward decides to try their luck again, walking up to the ruffian guarding the dais, demanding to see Mr. Flynn. Flynn accepts and lets them through. He doesn’t invite them to sit down. The PCs give up false names and offer their services. Flynn downs a whiskey laughs and tells them to sod off. He’s already got all the losers he needs for his little operation. The PCs sense that they should leave and get out of the Blue Oyster, hustling back to the car which incredibly enough still has all its wheels and hubcaps in place.

Columbia University

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East view of Columbia University

On their way back, they stop by Columbia University to pick up the black sphinx. Dr. Brantenberger thinks it is from the Egyptian 4th dynasty of pharaoh Sneferu. It’s very atypical however and he hasn’t been able to translate the glyphs yet, but he suspects that it’s some kind of sect symbols or a cipher of some kind. He also says that the statuette is either a very well made replica or a genuine artifact, in which case it would be quite unique and valuable. The PCs thank the good scholar and take the sphinx with them when they leave.

Plans, plans, plans

It’s late afternoon when they finally come home. Over a baloney sandwich and luke-warm beer, the group assesses the situation:

  • The police are after them
  • The Cult of the Bloody Tongue are after them
  • The Harlem African gang are after them
  • The Irish gang will soon be after them
  • The Italian mobsters want to use them for their own nefarious needs

It is concluded that it is time to leave the city and even the country. Tentatively, England and London seem like the logical choice now.

But first, they decide to go to Arkham to see Professor Cowles, who they talked briefly with after his lecture at New York University, the day of Elias’ murder, to see what he knows.

Next session will start the day after (Wednesday the 21st), on the train between New York and Arkham.


Here we had to conclude the session for the evening. To be continued…

 

Session 7 | New York | Stealer of Souls

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There is no life in the Void. Or…?

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Justin Case | NYPD Detective | 32 yrs | Djuro

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan


New Character

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Link to background stories and portraits


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Slim Shady. Attorney-At-Law at your service.

Slim Shady is…(story to come)

Stealer of souls

New York, Sunday, January 18th, 1925 | about 9 p.m

I could sleep for a thousand years…

The session started with the PCs gathered in the dingy laundry-turned-makeshift-home on a Harlem backstreet. Patching up wounds, resting, some even resorting to booze to calm the nerves. Always interested Carl Blackwater sits down to keep up on the news. In the newspaper he spots an interesting article in the business section – it concerns a business deal involving the Carlyle Estate, mentioning Ms. Carlyle’s attorney, a certain Bradley Grey. Might be a lead.

The Black Sphinx

Meanwhile, Case, Foxworthy and Rennfarth discuss the black sphinx statue that they saw in the Ju Ju shop. It sticks out as odd, being the only Egyptian item in a shop full of African stuff. On a whim, they decide to check out the shop again to see if the statue’s still there.

Spotting no movement, the three amigos sneak out into the alley using the laundry’s back door. The door to the African shop is marked with a sign: “Crime Scene. Do not enter.” Case picks the lock, letting Rennfarth and Foxworthy into the shop. Rennfarth and Case stay near the exit while the big game hunter delves deeper into the shadows. The black sphinx sits just where it was last time. Suddenly, Foxworthy hears something, like someone sneaking or shuffling. The sound comes from behind the drapes behind the counter. Moving there quickly, Foxworthy finds himself face to face with a decomposed but still moving thing, dressed in fisherman’s attire, still sporting a rubber fisherman’s hat! Foxworthy stumbles back but quickly comes up with a fiendish plan, running on the outside of the counter to the opposite side, luring the zombie-thing behind the counter where it falls into the hole in the floor where the hatch down to the cult temple used to be!

Accompanied by the living dead’s wailings, the scurrilous companions grab the sphinx and head back to the laundry.

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The Black Sphinx

Poring over the statue, even Foxworthy*, who’s the most knowledgeable in things African cannot determine anything about its origins. Black, extremely smooth and dense stone with hieroglyphs carved around its base. Even to the untrained eye, the glyphs look crude and different from the ones commonly seen in museum exhibits. It’s obviously Egyptian, but other than that – nothing.

*Foxworthy’s player is actually a trained archaeologist with a special interest in Egyptology, so I knew they would go for the sphinx…

Teamwork and favors

Suddenly, there’s a bang on the door. Outside, Mr. Giuseppin stands outside wringing his greasy hands, accompanied by a distinguished man in a very expensive tailored suit, with a cashmere coat hanging over his shoulders. Behind them is three menacing looking men, also in fine suits, with telltale bulges under their jackets and one carrying a violin case.

The landlord introduces the obvious leader as Mr. Sangiovese, an associate of his. Upon request, the other men are presented as Mr. Sangiovese’s “uncles”, despite being younger than him. Mr. Sangiovese asks to come in as he has “an offer” for them. His dead fish eyes reveals nothing.

After som bickering at the door, Misters Sangiovese, Giuseppin and “uncle Frank” is let in while the rest takes post outside.

After commenting on the PCs interior decorator, Mr. Sangiovese sits down on one of the few chairs and lays out his case in a heavy New Yorker Italian accent. In short:

  • He knows that the police PCs are personae non grata in the police force at the moment. He knows the feeling. Pigs.
  • He knows that the PCs have been successful in combatting the Africans, his “business competitors”, and says that his enemy’s enemies are his friends. Teamwork, right?
  • He also now knows where the PCs are holing out, since Mr. Guiseppin works for him, and wouldn’t it be a shame if the address came out to, say, the Africans? Great shame.
  • In other words, he would like to propose a deal where the PCs help him out with some “domestic problems” in exchange for his silence.

After presenting his case, Mr. Sangiovese carefully wipes his hands as if having touched something very gross and bids his farewell, promising to be in touch about “that favor” shortly.

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Mr. Guiseppin

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Mr. Sangiovese and a few “uncles”

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Left to right: Luca “88 Magnum”, Mr. Sangiovese, “Vito the Sledgehammer”, “Handsome Frank” and “The Swede”

The Stealer of Souls

After the visit by the “Italian businessmen”, Detective Case wants to try the African mask a second time. He has now learned a new incantation, scribbled in the book “Africa’s Dark Sects” and he thinks those words are what the bearded being asked for last time he tried the mask. At last, the secrets of the mask will be revealed!

Not.

Case puts on the mask. Foxworthy and Blackwater see it fuse to his face and witness him convulse, still standing, staring wide-eyed into nothingness. After half a minute Case collapses to the floor, the mask falling off spontaneously. The brave police detective’s face is frozen in terror! Blood vessels in the eyes have burst, making the eyes all reddish and there’s a trickle of blood from his left nostril as well as a great deal of drool coming out of his mouth. He is mumbling something unintelligible sounding like: “Asha, asha, asha…”

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“It was just a dream. It must have been…”

Keeper note: Case’s player managed to roll really bad here, first rolling a bad result on what the mask did, then missing his San roll, thereby losing 65 SAN points in one go, instantly kicking him down to SAN zero!  I can’t discern what happened to poor Case here as my players read this, but his mind has been shaken to its very foundations, leaving him an empty shell of a human…

Not much left to do but to tuck poor Case in and finally get some sleep as everyone is dead tired after having been active for almost 24 hours. Although they do not sleep very well, hearing Case’s occasional screams: “Asha! Asha! Asha!”

New York, Monday 19th, 1925 | about 8.30 a.m

The Psych Ward

The first thing the next morning, Rennfarth notifies the Police Chief about what has happened to Case. It is decided that they should take Detective Case to the New York State Psychiatric Hospital, to Professor Hans Schmiedke whose assistance the police department usually relies on in cases where mental issues are involved.

At the hospital, another figure also turns up. The police chief has asked Slim Shady of the law firm “Shady Law Ltd.” to attend. Mr. Shady has been Case’s attorney on many occasions and is now there to ensure that Mr. Case’s rights are preserved.

After a cursory examination, Prof. Schmiedke quickly concludes that Case is in dire need of in-hospital treatment and the mad police detective is admitted into their care. It is decided that his affairs are to be overseen and monitored by his attorney. The attorney is immediately intrigued by what has befallen Case and volunteers (well for a nominal fee at least) to assist the PCs in legal matters in relation to the case, which they happily accept. He is, after all, a bit of a socialite in New York high society and knows some powerful people and he is well versed in the workings of the law.

Guns, guns, guns

Meanwhile, Foxworthy goes to his favorite arms dealer in New York to replace his lost elephant gun. He completes his purchase with extra boxes of ammunition.

Columbia University Department of Arts & Archaeology

Since they can’t figure out the Black Sphinx statuette, the PCs takes photographs of it and brings them (and the statuette, hidden in the car) to see Dr. Brantenberger at the archaeology department at Columbia University. The good archaeologist is known as one of the best Egyptologists in New York. Dr. Brantenberger is delighted over the photos and says that the sphinx is indeed an unusual one, as are the glyphs engraved on the base. However, he cannot tell any specifics before having time to consult his books and colleagues. It ends with the PCs leaving the statue at Columbia for 24 (48?) hours in order to have it properly examined.

Robert Huston’s medical files

Having promised to help with the case, Shady arranges a lunch meeting with Judge Carruthers in order to obtain a warrant for the release of Dr. Robert Huston’s files on Roger Carlyle. Carruthers is hesitant to open up the old case, but having heard Shady out, he agrees to Shady’s suggestions. The PCs pick up the papers and go straight to the Medical Board, where they get the files without much hassle.

After having studied the files, they conclude:

  • Huston treated Robert Carlyle on behalf of his sister Erica, who already knew the doctor.
  • Robert Carlyle had been having nightmares about an Egyptian-looking dark figure. As a consequence, he had been sleeping bad and his sister sent him to Huston.
  • The repeating dream involved said dark godlike figure and a strange asymmetric pyramid – again the Egyptian theme.
  • The files mention someone called M’Weru, Anastacia and My Priestess. These names appear to relate to the same person.
  • Carlyle did not consider the dream to be a dream, but rather a call from a god on the other side, which of course was refuted by Huston as a sign of psychic issues.
  • The files also suggest that Carlyle had a catch on Huston. Something secret that Carlyle knew about Huston, that Carlyle threatened to expose if Huston did not go with him.

Keeper note: Handout #24 – added  to Dropbox

The PCs conclude that they really must meet up with the elusive Erica Carlyle. Partly in order to present the idea that her brother isn’t dead (and maybe get her patronage for their investigations) and partly because they have indications that Robert Carlyle’s occult books are still in the Carlyle mansion library.

The attorney happens to know Erica’s lawyer, Mr. Bradley Grey, and sets up a lunch meeting at a fancy restaurant to try to get access to her upper-class party this very evening.

New York Library

While Shady is having lunch with Bradley Grey, Blackwater and Foxworthy goes to the New York Library to do some news clip research on M’Weru and what might have happened to Dr. Huston that Roger Carlyle was blackmailing him about.

The M’Weru trail gives nothing, but they find a short newspaper clipping that mentions the suicide of a certain Miss Imelda Bosch, who was Dr. Hustons ex-girlfriend and who apparently ended her own life after Huston broke up with her. As he was a famous psychiatrist, the suicide of his ex-girlfriend would, of course, be a scoop for the tabloids. This might be the reason for Carlyle’s blackmail.

Keeper note: Handout #24a – added  to Dropbox

Lunch with Bradley Grey

After convincing Mr. Grey that he represents some foreign investors having business interests with the Carlyle financial sphere, Grey agrees to meet for lunch at the Ritz. Shady manages to convince Grey (critical Persuasion roll!) into arranging a meeting with Miss Carlyle, as he has vital intelligence on a recent big business deal that is to be concluded soon, and it is imperative that he meets her in person on behalf of his employers. Shady suggests that they can meet tonight at the party at her estate and even manages to convince the lawyer to arrange for four invitations to the party as he must bring his associates as well. Grey agrees to send the invitations to Shady’s downtown fancy offices ASAP. Good man.

Tuxedo or Evening attire?

The PCs meet up and share what they have found. They also realize that they must hurry to rent some decent evening wear for the party!


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

Session 6 | New York | Hart Island

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The Bathtub of Evil

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Justin Case | NYPD Detective | 32 yrs | Djuro

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Ulla Bengtsson | Professor (Chemistry) Columbia Uni | 48 yrs | Berndt

Absent this session

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondant | 31 yrs | Martin

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Link to background stories and portraits


Hart Island

New York, Monday January 19th, 1925 | about 4 a.m

I could sleep for a thousand years…

After having raided the cult’s base below Ju Ju House, the PCs decide to retreat to the laundry to tend to their wounds and get some well deserved rest. The place includes a large basement area where they have put mattresses and basic survival gear. It’s not nice, cosy or warm, but it will keep them off the cult’s radar as well as the police’s…

Roadtrip

Around midday, they have some egg sandwiches and whiskey reinforced coffee to steady their nerves and then H.P, Ulla and Case takes Case’s car and drive through the snow-laden streets all the way out to the Bronx and City Island where they plan to visit a marina and charter a boat to get them to the restricted Hart Island. The ride takes about 2 hrs in the crappy weather.

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Winter in the Bronx

Getting someone willing to get them to the island is harder than anticipated. Several burly fishermen stop talking to them when they mention their destination, but eventually old Sam Hopkins, captain of the small fishing boat “Hopkins” agrees to take them there and back for a…shall we say…inappropriate amount of cash.

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Captain Sam Hopkins

“Garr… There are plenty o’risks with that. What about the ol’ missus if I should end up in jail, eh?” Capt. S. Hopkins

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The Hopkins in a happier time

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Aerial view of City Island (left) and Hart Island (right)

What they know about Hart Island is that it is a restricted area, run by the Department of Correction and that the small island (1.6 km long, 0.4 km wide) has been used as a massive potter’s field for many years. As of now, there is a Reformatory Prison for criminals deemed mentally unfit, drug addicts, aged, homeless and any combination thereof. The inmates work the burying detail, overseen by prison guards. However, the prison is under liquidation, moving over to the larger facility at Riker’s Island, and there are only about 50 prisoners left along with a skeleton crew of staff. The island also hold an abandoned mental asylum and on the south tip the eerie overgrown ruins of a never finished amusement park stretch skeletal against the grey sky.

After a short but salty sea voyage freezing outside the small boat’s cabin, the Hopkins arrives at the port facility of Hart Island. During the cruise, the PCs try to negotiate a deal with pipe-smoking Hopkins to pick them up and it is settled on three hours (approximately 3 p.m).

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Modern pic of the port. The guard shed was situated to the right of the road, about where the tree is in the pic.

Hopkins approaches the landing just near enough so that the passengers can jump ashore, then the boat leaves in a hurry.

Just after the landing is a grey wooden shed with an open door. A fat prison guard steps out. “Whoa there! This is restricted area for civilians!

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Officer White

Justin Case whips out Inspector Macceroni’s police badge, stolen from the corpse and bluffs the guard that they are on official police business, searching for a missing police officer, believed to be on the island, and asks if the guard has seen anything unusual in the past days. Officer White tells them that he heard strange sounds in the south part of the island a few nights ago, and that there are rumours among the prisoners of a huge winged bird that has flown over the island, but that is of course only superstitious rubbish. He did hear sounds however, which he thinks was smugglers or whatever. As he speaks, he glances back to his cosy shed with his newspaper, baloney sandwich and cuppa coffee, and waves the clearly demented PCs through.

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Player map of the island

The abandoned asylum

The players follow the gravel road along the west coastline, passing the prison proper. In the north they see people working in the “fields”, but the center and south part of the island is dead silent. After some 500 m they reach the old asylum, now overgrown with 60 years of foliage and covered in decades of dirt.

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Asylum exterior I

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Asylum exterior II

 The only sounds are of the leaves rustling in the wind. No animals are seen. After a scouting detour around the house, the PCs decide to enter via the main entrance. Weapons drawn, they open the half rotten doors and enter the decrepit building. Inside, all is chaos, as if someone suddenly decided to move out. The valuable items and equipment are gone but old rusty bedframes, battered desks and broken chairs are scattered everywhere.

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Asylum

The structure consist of an L-shaped building with central corridors, lined with many doors, some open, some closed. The first floor turns out to be mostly remains of offices, staff areas and various treatment rooms. Suddenly, a sound is heard from a room down the corridor. Ulla and Case enters the room, while H.P stands guard in the corridor, watching the rear.

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Corridors…

It turns out to be some kind of tiled water treatment room, complete with water hoses and a dirty bathtub with a tarp cover leaving space for the head (on the floor). Nothing can be heard in the room, except the flapping of the shredded curtains in the destroyed windows.

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Water treatment room

Ulla and Case does a grisly finding in the bathtub. A severed hand, covered in grime. It looks old, as if it has been broken off from a body in a grave or something. Both PCs go to fetch H.P but upon returning they notice that the hand is gone! Only a slimy trail going over the edge of the bathtub and towards the window can be seen.

Ulla runs over to the window and sticks her head out only to see the hand coming at her, running on the wall like some hideous spider! It jumps at her, grabbing her throat, jamming a finger up her nose.

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The Hand!

The investigator stumbles back, clawing at the thing and biting a finger off it, but it doesn’t release it’s grip. Case tries to help by trying to pry off the hand and punching it but to no avail. Ulla’s strength is ebbing out and her struggle gets feebler and weaker until she passes out on the tiles. Case finally manages to pry off the hand from her unmoving body, throwing it into a corner and shooting it to pieces with his gun.

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H.P looks down the corridor…

While the struggle is at hand (heh!), H.P hears a strange wailing noise from the corridor and runs down to the corridor main doors to investigate. Peaking outside, he sees a bone chilling sight! A complete spinal column with a one-eyed brain attached is crawling towards him through the debris on the floor! The pure horror has his brain short circuiting and screaming in panic he fires a long burst of shots with his Tommy gun, obliterating the thing along with half the corridor, sending splinters of glass, plaster and wood flying…

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The Brain Thing

[Keeper note: H.P failed his SAN check, losing 5 SAN but then he manged his Idea roll so his mind failed to realize the mind-shattering horror of what he just witnessed].

When the dust settles, he runs to the others, seeing Case kneeling on the floor, trying to resciciutate Ulla, but to no avail. H.P tries to shake life into her as well, but Ulla is dead, a look of dread and disbelief in her eyes…

Shocked, sitting on the floor beside Ulla’s body, the investigator’s suddenly hear a wailing sound from above and decide to investigate. After sneaking up the stone stairs they discover that most of the second floor is inaccessible due to locked steel doors sealing the corridors. However, the stairs lead further up to a third floor.

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Third floor power

The third floor is an attic of sorts. One large empty room. In the far end they spot a human figure strapped to a chair. The head is hanging, drool slowly dripping down on the floor. Moving closer they see that it’s Lt. Poole! The man has been beaten and is now clearly out of his mind, mumbling about “the wings, the wings”.

The investigators untie him and bring him down the stairs to the first floor, where they spotted a semi-busted wheelchair before. Poole is parked in the chair and the men go looking for a second wheelchair for Ulla’s body. That is when they find it – the stair to the basement…

After some discussion they decide to make a quick check in the basement and see if they can find a wheelchair. Downstairs, they find a rickety wheelchair in a room full of broken furniture and hospital gear. Two rusty, locked steel doors lead out of the room. Faint scuttling sounds can be heard from behind the west door…

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Basement…

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Boiler room

Case decides to try the door and manages to pick the lock. The door swings open on rusty creaking hinges. It’s the boiler room and is dominated by a huge coal fulelled iron furnace from the last century. In a corner there’s a huge pile of coal. Suddenly, the boiler fires up, bathing the room in red-orange firelight! H.P and Case quickly decides to withdraw, locking the door and fleeing upstairs. They place Ulla’s stiffening body in the wheelchair and hastily exit the building, heading the short walk back to the harbour.

The prison guard looks at them suspiciously but decides against arguing with such distinguished law enforcement professionals and return to his shed with a sigh. Shortly after, the Hopkins arrives to take the now decimated band of investigators back to the civilisation.

They load up the insane police detective and dead Ulla in the back seat and drive back to the laundry to brief the others. The Kid is there, warning them that Macceroni apparently has disappeared and that the disappearance, along with that of Lt. Poole and the “Cult Killings case” now has been given to a Lt. Dingle.

Hospital

Case and H.P then drives to the Bellevue Hospital Center with insane Lt. Poole and dead Ulla. They then call Capt. Malone who arrives shortly. The suspended policemen tell Malone about the island and how they found Poole, leaving out all things supernatural. Malone is glad to have Poole back, but the suspension is still in place as far as the police PCs are concerned. Malone teels them to drop the case and stay low until further notice.

The Medical Affairs Board

In early evening (about 7 p.m), Case and H.P decide to follow up on the lead regarding Dr. Robert Huston’s psychiatric patient files on Roger Carlyle. As Dr. Huston was a member of the Carlyle expedition and is presumed dead, his patient files are stored at the Medical Affairs Board on Park Avenue at 61st Street. This is a posh address and after showing Macceroni’s badge to the guard in the lobby, the PCs are admitted into Suite 1002 where the Board Offices reside. The place is officially closed as it’s Sunday evening, but since the secretary is there working with some overdue tasks he agrees to see the PCs briefly. They are met by a most snobbish and annoying Mr. Adrian Ferris, Secretary to the board. Despite their best attempt at talking Ferris into letting them read the records, Ferris declines their proposition stating in a most condescending way that if they’re not (a) relatives, (b) fellow psychiatrists or (c) have a warrant from a judge, he will not let them access the records. Period.

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Adrian Ferris. Snobbish a**hole…

Case considers letting Ferris make himself aquanted with his police baton, but decides against it and the investigators are forced to leave the Medical Board none the wiser. As they exit they see Ferris wiping his hands as if he had touched something very dirty…

The City Morgue

Driven by the failure at the Medical Affairs Board, the policemen decide to follow up on another lead as they read in the papers that bodies have been disappearing from the City Morgue (which is at Bellevue Hospital, East 26th Street). Meeting up with the first assistant to the chief medical examiner (Dr. Drüber-Halle), they get the names of the disappeared bodies:

  • Michael Conley – longshoreman
  • Adolf Thurmond – stock broker at Wall Street
  • Damir Kharzov – burnt-to-crisp low life criminal

It appears that the bodies just vanished into thin air. No signs of forced entry. No suspicious people seen in the morgue. No nothing…

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

The in-game time stamp is about 9 p.m (21.00) Sunday 18th of January 1925


Since we had our first killed investigator, I’ve started a new page called “The Gallery of Honor“, where those unnamed heroes that lose their lives or minds battling the great evil will be remembered…