|My state of mind during this session|
So, after the ultimatum delivered by Mickey Mahoney at the end of the last session Harry Crum returned to the hotel. I have to admit his response to the threat of being handed over to the police for the murder of Benjamin Jones surprised me a little - he didn't mention it to the others at all! Oh well, there was still time for Harry to come up with a solution.
The investigators conferred and discussed what to do next. They were not entirely sure of the link between the Cult of the Bloody Tongue in New York and the London cult, but they were now sure that Edward Gavigan was a powerful enemy and were determined to do something about it. They decided to run surveillance on Gavigan that evening, and if necessary confront him.
Harry decided to purchase a car for use during the rest of their stay in London, and successful Luck and Bargain rolls saw him the owner of new Ford. "I give it a day until it gets trashed," said one of the players. "I give it half a day," I replied. Mine turned out to be the more accurate prediction.
Whilst the rest of the group piled into the new car and headed for the Penhew Foundation, Hubert took the safer route and went to the British Library to research the artwork they had found in Gavigan's secret chamber in the Foundation. Several hours of research lead him to discover the artwork was all Egyptian or Proto-Sumerian. He also came across a strange name in relation to the figure depicted in the bluestone statue they had found - "Cthulhu".
After several hours sitting in their new car watching the Penhew Foundation from a distance the rest of the investigators were starting to grow restless. Just before 6pm their patience was rewarded however as Gavigan emerged from the main doors and proceeded to walk south along Tottenham Court Road. Cutter decided to trail him on foot whilst the others kept a safer distance.
After following Gavigan for some minutes (and failing two out of three Hide rolls in the process) Cutter trailed the impeccably-dressed man to the door of a Soho gentlemens club called The Diamondback Club. Gavigan entered the club (the doorman obviously knew who he was) and Cutter found an alleyway across the street from which to observe the front door.
Willard went round the back of the club to watch the rear exit, and Harry and Sebastian stayed nearby in the car in case a quick getaway was required.
After an hour or so of watching the club the streets of Soho had got properly dark, and the chill London mist had started to rise. Cutter was about to head to the car to talk to Harry and Sebastian when he detected a strange smell - that of burning hair. His first impulse was to check his beard, but there was not a flame in sight. Most odd.
Things got much stranger, and a lot more deadly. Moments after sensing the strange smell Cutter was astonished to find he was having trouble breathing. In fact something was forcing itself down his throat and into his nose, causing him to choke, yet there was nothing there! Stumbling he started to make for the car, falling to his knees as he gasped for breath (and losing precious hit points and sanity in the process).
From their vantage in the car Harry and Sebastian could see Cutter's odd plight. After a brief moment of hesitation Harry got out and began to run towards his friend. Cutter, still choking and almost passing out began to stumble towards the club entrance, his mind now sure that somehow Gavigan was behind the strange attack.
As he fell across the threshold of the club, pushing the doorman out of the way and opening the door Cutter collapsed, no longer able to breathe. After a successful Spot Hidden Harry thought he momentarily saw tendrils of the night mist withdrawing from Cutters mouth and nose, but the illusion was gone a blink later. The astonished doorman, in between blusters of "'ere, you can't just barge in, what's goin' on?" bent down to inspect the prone Cutter.
"Blimey, 'e's dead!" he pronounced.
|Was something lurking in the fog?|
So, the third casualty of the campaign (following the Yoo brothers' journey to the prehistoric past) was suffered. Farewell Cutter, mighty tracker and woodman of the Massachusetts hills. You and your beard will be sadly missed.
Harry, failing his sanity check, was distraught. "I'll get my friend, he's a doctor," he said as an excuse, leaving the scene and heading back to the car as the members of the Diamondback Club started to gather and see what the fuss was about. The investigators drove quietly back to the hotel, where Hubert was waiting for them. Harry went to his room, locked the door, and began to sharpen Cutter's axe that he had retrieved from the car.
After a brief discussion the remaining shocked investigators decided to grab a taxi and head back to the Diamondback Club and confront Gavigan. On arrival they found the entrance to the club cordoned off and surrounded by police and bystanders. Having a brief flash of inspiration Sebastian approached the scene.
Following a brief and unhelpful discussion with one of the policemen Sebastian managed to talk to one of the club's managers. He asked after Gavigan, saying that he had been supposed to meet him earlier. "I'm sorry sir, we've had to send all the patrons home this evening following the terrible death of a passer-by". When Sebastian asked for Gavigan's address he was told "Again, I'm sorry, I don't know where Mr Gavigan's flat is. I know he has a country estate out in Essex somewhere though, somewhere near Harwich I think..."
That was the lead they needed, and the investigators headed back to the hotel to determine how best to proceed. Harry meanwhile had been busy...
Angered and upset by the death of Cutter, somehow Harry knew Gavigan was responsible. Not thinking straight (one could argue that was Harry's permanent state of mind) he drove over to the Penhew Foundation. By this time the hour was late, and the streets were quiet.
Harry took two fuel canisters out the back of the Ford and syphoned fuel into them from the car's tank. He strode over to the locked compound gates and threw the canisters over the iron fence. Failing a Pick Locks roll Harry managed to clamber over the tall fence and dropped into the Penhew Foundation compound. Things were starting to take a turn for the inevitable...
It was at this point that my giggling troubles started, as things got quite ridiculous. Harry decided to smash a window and pour some fuel inside before throwing in the canisters and lighting the fuel line. I asked him to make a Throw roll, telling him that even if he failed he would get the canisters through the window, I just wanted to make sure he didn't fumble. He rolled 97. A fumble.
I determined that Harry had spilt some of the fuel on his trousers whilst splashing it about, and that consequently they set alight when he lit the fuel line. Panicking, Harry stripped off his trousers, but failed a DEX check in the process and got quite badly burned. Things were about to get even worse.
Harry then realised he had no way of getting back out from the Penhew Foundation compound. His lockpicks survived the inferno of his pants, but it made no difference, he failed his Pick Locks roll anyway. Nothing to do but climb out... except he failed his Climb roll, and could now feel the heat on his back as the flames spread rapidly inside the Foundation.
|Harry's new look|
By this time the flames were attracting attention. I gave Harry the chance to climb out again before a small crowd gathered, but once again he failed his Climb roll. Several bystanders approached, bewildered at the sight of a fat man in his undies trying to clamber over the iron fence that surrounded the by-now burning building.
Harry tried to fool them. "Help me, I'm the night watchmen. Give me a hand out of here!". He fumbled his Fast Talk. A siren could be heard in the distance.
Unable to convince the crowd to help I asked Harry to make another Climb roll. He not only failed, but he fumbled, and therefore fell from the railings back inside the enflamed compound, landing heavily on his burned ankle and twisting it badly. This was rapidly becoming a farce and I was having a hard time holding things together.
In between the giggles something weird happened. I took pity on one of my players. I decided to give Harry one last chance to get out of there before the police and fire service arrived. This time he managed to convince a couple of the rapidly growing crowd to help him over the fence. Finally, with no dignity or trousers Harry Crum escaped the great Egyptian Fire of 1925.
As he tried to stumble over towards his waiting car the crowd got in his way. The sirens got louder, and they would not let him through, demanding to know what had happened. Harry did what came naturally, and tried to punch one of the crowd in the face, but he missed. Only a couple of Dodge rolls allowed him to gain the relative safety of the car.
Just as the fire engine rounded the corner Harry sped away in his Ford. I gave him one final hurdle to escape. Due to his badly damaged ankle I asked him to make a Drive Auto roll. He failed.
The Ford veered wildly past the racing fire engine and crashed into a steel lamp post. It was totalled. See, I was right when I predicted it would only last half a day.
|Being a nightwatchman at the Penhew Foundation was not without risks|
After a short break to recover we resumed the session. Harry managed to get back to the hotel, and appeared there limping and pantless, much to the shock of the other investigators. After some first aid Harry was able to walk without too much trouble, though his movement rate was going to be low for quite some time.
The group discussed how to proceed with their investigation, now that they had the lead to Gavigan's Essex estate. It was time to introduce a new player character (due to Cutter's untimely death), so I told Willard that he had an old friend who lived in Harwich, one Cassandra Fox. It seemed like a good way to introduce the new victim, sorry, investigator.
The next morning, with the hire of a new car (this group is going to become infamous in the car-hire community soon) the investigators set off for Harwich, leaving the smoke and mist of London behind for the cold and mist of the swampy Essex coastline. Hubert too his now seriously ill dog with him. Arriving at Cassandra's Harwich home they found the young athlete just having her breakfast.
She welcomed them in, offered steaming cups of tea, and when asked about Gavigan's estate told them what she knew; it was a large and ancient estate situated on a boggy island on the coast about seven miles to the south-west. An old mansion was on the estate which went by the name of Misr House.
There had been enough death and madness for one session, so we left things there, with the investigators thinking about how to proceed. I have a feeling they won't necessarily take the sensible route...