• Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 4 - Expect the Unexpected

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Sometimes when running a Call of Cthulhu campaign the whole session goes off in some completely unexpected directions. Almost none of this weeks session turned out like I had expected, partly down to some decisions I made as Keeper on the fly, but mainly due to the Investigators not acting like herd-able sheep and doing something unexpected. Good for them!

This week the group does some real investigating inbetween the episodes of mindless violence!
It all lead to a chaotic, but fun session, that leaves the story in some places I hadn't planned for, and way off what's written in the scenario book, but it's going to be fun to see how it all pans out!

The last session ended with our investigators resting after a night of horrors involving scary doors, evil masks and being half-eaten by zombies (in Cutter's case at least). After a good rest the group decided to head to the hospital where Cutter was still recovering and in a sorry state. It was at this point I decided to change things up a little and add a little extra spice to their day.

After all, I figured that the cultists would be out for revenge following the theft of their artifacts and the attack on their base, and it would be a relatively easy matter for them to check the local hospitals for new admittances suffering from strange bite wounds. So, shortly before the investigators were about to leave after checking on Cutter (who was still far to ill to leave hospital after the previous night's exertions), a doctor entered the room and began to check on Cutter's notes.

By this time the group was completely paranoid, jumping at every little thing (something I encouraged through Mr Yoo's extreme paranoia following his brush with the Mask of Hayama). Harry Crum, watching from the third floor window noticed a suspicious figure lurking across the street, dressed in a long trench coat and a broad-brimmed hat. He appeared to be watching the hospital.

The group treated the poor doctor with immediate suspicion and questioned him about Cutter's medical state. The doctor's platitudes didn't wash, so the group then threatened him, at which point he ran forwards towards the bed and tried to inject Cutter with a syringe he had been hiding.

The investigators' attempts to halt the doctor failed, and with a scream he plunged the syringe into Cutter's leg. I determined that the syringe had held a POT 15 poison, and luckily for Cutter he made his resistance roll, but he was in a bad way and needed urgent medical attention. Shocked, the group fatally hesitated a moment, allowing the cultist to escape, which he duly did my uttering an obscene prayer then throwing himself out of the window!

Harry raced downstairs to investigate what has happened whilst the rest of the group found some real doctors to help Cutter, who was starting to shake violently. Successful Luck rolls got a doctor to Cutter in time to save his life, but it was clear that he would be out of things for an extended period. Whilst he may return to the fray in the future, for now Cutter became the first casualty of the campaign, and his player got to work rolling a new character.

At street level outside the hospital Harry was confronted with a gruesome scene (but he made his SAN check). There was little left of the cultist's body, which had exploded on impact with the sidewalk. A small crowd had gathered, including the strange man in the wide-brimmed hat that Harry had noticed earlier. Being the man of action he is Harry did what anyone would do in the circumstances. Oh, wait. No he didn't. He pulled out his blackjack and with no warning whatsoever coshed the poor fellow round the back of the head!

This is what I do every time Harry decides to take action!
A high damage roll left the victim almost dead, and definitely unconscious. As he fell to the ground his hat fell off, and Harry saw that he had managed to almost kill Lieutenant Martin Poole! Quick SAN and Luck checks ensured none of the other witnesses reacted quickly enough to stop Harry taking Poole's notepad and scarpering, just as police cars came screaming round the corner. For once Harry seemed shocked at what he had done!

After making statements to the police, the investigators left Cutter to recover, leaving their copy of Africa's Dark Sects for him to study. He'd already almost destroyed his body, so why not start work on destroying his mind too? Meeting up with Harry, who was hiding from the police, they decided it would be a good idea to leave the city for a few days, and headed up to Arkham to look up Professor Anthony Cowles.

On the way Harry read through Lieutenant Poole's notebook and discovered that he had been following them for some time, hoping that they would uncover some leads in the Elias murder case. He hadn't followed their midnight jaunt to JuJu House however (which was probably for the best).

Arriving late in Arkham the investigators checked into the Miskatonic Hotel for a good nights rest. The following morning they headed out, and after a few false leads managed to locate Professor Cowles and his stunningly beautiful daughter, Ewa, in the Grafton Diner where they had retired after church. Mr Yoo noticed that the group was being followed by a black Ford, but the groups attempts to track it failed.

Professor Cowles, an ebullient Australian, greeted the group with warmth. He had heard of Jackson Elias, though was only partially conversant with his work. He held forth on his thoughts about Polynesian Cults, and invited the investigators back to his house in the evening so that he could run through his lecture notes with them. By doing so the group learned about an Australian bat cult that worshipped the Father of All Bats, and that huge, strange stone blocks had been discovered in Western Australia. Cowles informed the group that he would be returning to the country in July and told them to look him up if they ever travelled there.

The trip to Arkham also turned up a little more information. Willard called Miriam Artwright at Harvard University, and she had indeed turned up something on the symbol they had sent her. The investigators learned that the symbol was that of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, an ancient cult that was based in Kenya, but that had disappeared centuries ago.

The weekend trip out of New York had turned up a lot of information, and for once the group had not got into any trouble. Perhaps they should get out of the city more often! On their return to the Big Apple it would not be long before they found themselves in deep trouble yet again...

The first thing they did when arriving back in New York City was to check in on Jonah Kensington at Prospero House. Waiting there was Tso Yoo, Mr Yoo's brother who had travelled from China by steamship to visit. The group quickly brought Tso up to speed with events before deciding to try contacting Erica Carlyle again, this time via Bradley Grey, her solicitor.

For once the investigators came up with some reasoned arguments and made some good persuade rolls, so I allowed them the meeting they desired. Bradley Grey arranged a meeting to be held at his offices later in the day, and so the group headed over there. Things started well, and they learned that Erica was the real brains behind the company, and that Roger had some dubious tastes. They also learned that Erica blamed a mysterious negro woman for Roger's obsession with the expedition. All Erica knew was that Roger had met her in Harlem and that she was a poet.

Things then started to go off the rails a little as the group insisted that she show them the "books in the library" and started talking about mad, ancient cults and sacrifices. She gave them a chance, but they ploughed on regardless, sounding more than a little crazed, so she brought the meeting to a swift end and the investigators were turfed out onto the street.

Willard then did something I wasn't expecting and decided to research black women poets from Harlem. One advantage of playing the game online is easy access to google and wikipedia, so I was able to quickly supply some names. Phew! Crisis averted!

Oh, too soon. A new crisis was on it's way! The investigators decided to head back to JuJu House in the evening... gluttons for punishment I tell you! The plan was to try and capture Silas N'Kwane in order to question him about the cult activities and what Jackson Elias had uncovered. As Robert Burns said though, "the best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, gang aft agley..."

I decided that as the investigators had twice visited JuJu House, killed their zombie guards, and raided their basement of cult items, the cultists would be more than ready this time. Therefore when they arrived at Ransom Court in the early hours this time, the group found the alleyway blocked off with wooden pallets and oil drums, and several guards lounging around.

The investigators parked up around the corner and Harry signalled his intent by removing a Thomson submachinegun from the trunk of the car. Willard and Mr Yoo wisely stayed close to the vehicle, whilst Harry, Sebastien and the honourable Tso strode up to the guards with no hesitation. Harry pointed the smg at them and ordered them to line up against the wall with their hands in the air.

Some quick POW checks showed that two of the cultists did so, but the others sneered and taunted Harry back. There was a momentary stand-off before one of the cultists pulled out a pistol and took a shot at Harry! The problem with insane, fanatical cultists is they don't respond well to threats...

Things rapidly went downhill, and this time with the group armed with the munitions of a small army, the fight was over quickly. Two cultists were knocked unconscious by the whirling dervish that was Tso Yoo as he displayed his martial arts skills (but took a knife in the arm in return). The others were less lucky and ended up decorating the wall courtesy of Harry's submachinegun.

Realising that the gunfire had started to attract attention, and seeing lights come on in the surrounding tenements, the investigators decided to retreat (I know! I was shocked too!). One of the unconscious cultists they tied up and bundled into the trunk of Harry's car, but the other one was not so fortunate. Harry, perhaps carried away with the bloodshed, walked up to the unconscious cultist and shot him in the head.

Is Harry the ur-ChuckNorris?
I couldn't let that go, and a successful INT check showed that Harry suddenly realised what he had done - murdered a defenceless person. Consequently I made the entire group of investigators make some SAN checks for witnessing this event. Based on Harry's apologies to the group afterwards I think he realised he had crossed a line, but what the long term effects will be remain to be seen.

We'll be taking a short break and playing again in a couple of weeks. It will be interesting to see what fate has in store for the unfortunate cultist in the trunk of the investigators car!

3 comments:

  1. As ever, a great write up. As well as being funny, these are always so darn helpful to keep track of what the hell went on! ;)


    It'll be nice to have Cutter in the background should I ever need another toon, although I must admit I'll miss him. I am enjoying Tso Yoo however, and his Shaolin mantra's that are mostly stolen from the TV's Kung Fu master, Caine.."Remember, The greatest victor wins without a battle. Yield and you need not break."

    Thanks for the GM'ing Bro. Top notch stuff!

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  2. I've been trying to set this game up for years and DM it using Fantasy Grounds. Reading all of this gives me hope. My group currently plays pathfinder, but i've always had a soft spot for Cthulhu.
    Keep it up guys,
    Pat

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading Pat. It does take a little effort and patience, and the first couple of sessions were a bit disjointed due to me still figuring things out.

      However, with a little perseverence we have managed to get things running quite smoothly now (apart from the odd technical hitch). It's definitely worth the effort of getting it set up!

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