Thursday, February 25, 2010

NEPA CoC #6: The Preacher and the Cross (part three)

Part Three: The Cavalry Comes to Save the Day


Steven O’Hara dashed from the Wilkes-Barre Station and used his remaining funds for a taxi across the river into Kingston. His three day train trip gave him plenty of time to plot a plan B to somehow rescue his “associates” from the inbreds of Georgia. Claiming Nathan was in trouble, and he earned a “leave of absence” from school, his wife Angi (and primarily her shotgun) was a shoo-in. A quick telegram from Philadelphia to Dr. Bowsfield in Arkham secured his cooperation.Additional help was problematic. Steven needed more firepower. Nichols and Smitty knew an enforcer named “Red” who hung out at the Angry Welshman. Some of the $5,000 from Boston was given to him to help out (and ultimately reopen his favorite bar.)


So our relief players:
  • Steven O'Hara: played by Steve
  • Dr. Bowsfield: played by Nate
  • Angela O'Hara: played by Adam
  • "Red" Russo: played by Brian
The relief squad arrived in Atlanta, procured an automobile, a number of supplies, and *gasp* a plan.

They would drive to Corina the evening of April 30th, go straight through town without stopping, and ditch the car about two miles away from the hill that the ceremony was supposedly occuring at. If Dr. Millheim and company were alive, they were probably going to be sacrificed. Dr. Bowsfield has obtained a cannister used by exterminators to spread pesticide, filled it with gasoline, and planned on burning some nearby fields to distract local law enforcement, plus some cultists. The others hide out on the mountain and wait for the ceremony to commence.

Around 11 o'clock at night, dozens of men walked up the hill, dressed in a mixture of KKK garb and the odd flame robes they had found in Boston. A man dressed as a leader/high priest, along with a number of guards, escorted the relief party's friends, as well as a Negro man and woman, to the altar.


Tying Dr. Nate to the altar, the high priest spouted off a few chants and began explaining the situation in his best James Bond villan act. It seemed that he not only worshipped a distant vengeful god, but he had discovered the ability to travel through time. He discovered that in the future, some Negro reverend would have to audacity to become President. He had found the future parents of this abomination living in Atlanta, so he had them kidnapped. "And right after we prepare our god's arrival with the blood of these Yankee bastards, we'll sacrifice the niggers and save future generations."

*BAM*

A single shot from Steven's .30-06 rifle pierced the heart of the high priest. Plenty of good Conceal rolls, plus an "02" on the shot ensured sheer chaos atop the hill. A few more crack shots between Angela and Steven created bedlam. It allowed "Red", who had been hiding in the trees behind the altar to free Dr. Millheim, and begin freeing the others.

Realizing little chance of escape, Dr. Millheim grabbed the priest's ceremonial dagger, wiped some of the priest's gushing blood onto it, and began a chant he had learned from the vile books he had studying. Soon, a huge hulking creature not of this world materialized in the midst of the cultists. It ripped apart the nearest men, and drew the attentions of the others away from the O'Haras. The sheer sight of the beast, if you could call it that, broke some men's psyches on the spot.


Dr. Millheim was one of them. Just the act of summoning the creature shook his mortal soul, and the resulting carnage snapped his last shred of reason. He turned around and ran from the creature at full speed, right off the cliff at the top of the hill, tumbling down into the surrounding woods. His slightly saner #2, Brian tried to follow him.

All the while Dr. Bowsfield discovered a newfound appreciation for pyromania. Not a single soul investigated his burning fields/woods.

After a few tense early morning hours, the party took their car out of hiding and got the hell out of Corina, dropping off Michael King and his girlfriend back at their respective homes in Atlanta. The threat, or ramblings of a madman, had been stopped.


*Aside*

On the evening of April 4, 1968, a single .243 bullet fired from a Remington 760 Gamemaster pierced the neck of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, killing him on the spot. The assassin, one Benjamin Grayford of Corina, placed his rifle back into the trunk of his car and drove to Jim's Grill for late snack and to finish up business. He had to tell Memphis Police Lieutenant Earl Clark that his services to murder the Reverend were no longer needed. Grayford did pay Lt Clark for some poorly made false documents to give to Mr. James Earl Ray was an uneducated, habitual criminal on the run, who had discovered a strong desire to worship the gods of Martyr Lambert. Ray had been told he had a secret mission to Africa, once he boarded the plane in London, his contact would provide him with further instructions. Blind obidience is a useful tool. An obviously fake Canadian passport is easier for authorities to catch the man you're setting up.


Ray didn't admit to killing King initially. Despite his allegiance, he gave up Grayford pretty easily. However the authorities had absolutely no records of a Benjamin Grayford. The only related records brought up a Benjamin Grayfjord who died in 1934. His obituary read like any other could in Georgia. Successful businessman, loving husband (wife deceased), fought in the Great War. If certain organizations had done more research they may have found and underground obituary, which could have prevented a coerced confession on the part of Mr. Ray:


Benjamin Buford Grayford b. May 1, 1892 d. September 7, 1934. Successful Corina businessman. High Priest of Time and Fire, earning that title from the Martyr Lambert in 1922. Died as a result of a home fire. No identifiable parts of the body could be discovered. Although he is gone from us now, he protects us and our children from the evils of future generations, and someday will finish the vision Martyr Lambert had first created. Ia! Ia! 41P Blackamoor? No!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

NEPA CoC #5: The Preacher and the Cross (Part Two)

March 17, 1922

As the group returned to Wilkes-Barre, they looked over the odd material they "recovered" from Mayhew Cooper's residence: Numerous notes referring to a ritual at the end of April, other papers and scraps of paper with strange codes, and what looked like a photograph of a detailed globe of the Earth, complete with clouds IN COLOR. How could one obtain a picture of Earth from Outer Space?

Finally, they decided to investigate, and possibly intervene whatever event was occurring.Dr. Bowsfield did a little work up in Arkham and discovered an old account of some cult around Corina and a large explosion atop a hill outside of town.

Just to keep things straight, the group travelling to Atlanta was comprised of:
  1. Dr. Nathaniel Millheim: a combination of Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters and "Big Dan" Teague from O Brother, Where Art Thou? Noted parapsychologist and crackpot author

  2. Steven O'Hara: Instructor of Mathematics and the Sciences at Wyoming Seminary. Friend of Dr. Millheim.

  3. Brian Nichols: Former bookkeeper for "questionable" organizations. Slowly becoming Dr. Millheim's personal assistant.

  4. "Smitty" : Proprietor of "The Angry Welshman" a speakeasy in Wilkes-Barre. He was lured into this field with money and chance to be violent. Curiosity is the reason he's staying.

Part Two: Southern Fried Chaos

The group boarded a train from Wilkes-Barre to Atlanta, and rented a Plymouth to drive to Corina to investigate. Tact is a useful skill when you’re in another part of the country. Unfortunately, since the players didn’t see it as a % on their character sheets, they completely ignored it. They walked around town, from the historical society to the sheriff, asking about cults, Lambert, and Mayhew Cooper. Smitty even asked townsfolk where "41P Blackamoor St" He had seen "41P Blackamoor No!" on a scrap of paper in Cooper's home and assumed it was a street.

For those of you not associated with the Klu Klux Klan, Blackamoor is Klanspeak for an "uppitty negro." Nothing like a large Welshman asking passers-by where "Uppitty Negro Street" was. It was surprising that they got out of town to begin with.

They loaded up in the Plymouth and drove out to the hill mentioned in Dr. Bowsfield’s research. As they drove through the countryside, they were accosted by a group of “southern gentlemen” (i.e. rednecks) who stopped the car and threatened them with baseball bats, pipes, and other household weaponry. Steve (the player) boldly stated, “My driving’s skill great. I’m going to put the car in reverse, floor it, pull a bootlegger reverse and get the hell out of here!”

*shooka shooka shooka* “99”

“You put it into reverse, loose control and plow into a tree, everyone takes 4 damage.”

The group managed to subdue the men long enough to make a dash back to town, but the gig was up. Groups of townsfolk began actively chasing them. The investigators split up, and were captured one by one…

Except for Steven O’Hara. Steven put on a southern drawl, stole a work jacket, and obtained a rail ticket for the afternoon train back to Atlanta, immediately transferring to a train going north.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

NEPA CoC #4: The Preacher and the Cross (part one)

March 10, 1922:
Professor Eric Bowsfield was going through undue torture. He dreamt of going through the worst gale in Nova Scotia history rather than hear about his neighbor’s dreams. Mrs. Henrietta McCormack was a nice old lady, and it was good for a bachelor to get a home-cooked meal for helping his older neighbor with the groceries and the weekly conversation, but over the last two weeks she would keep talking about these consistent dreams she had been having every night. Eric was a practical man, and practical men know nothing about bad dreams except that a warm glass of milk and a pill might help. But practical men are smart enough to associate themselves with the odd and unusual, so a quick phone call to his friend Nathaniel Millheim was in order.

Dr. Millheim, Steven O’Hara, Brian Nichols and Smitty arrived at the station in Boston a day or so later.

They interviewed Mrs.McCormack, but even with Dr. Millheim putting her under hypnosis, little was gleaned that Dr. Bowsfield hadn't already informed him of. In the snowy moonlight, a man was brutally gunned down inside, of all things, a pagoda! Dr. Millheim ascertained that the dreams were a premonition to an event in the future, and a search for pagodas in Boston commenced. Nichols discovered Dr Bowsfield’s boyish collection of fighter planes from the Great War and discovered the gentile professor had a violent streak when his secret passion was discovered.

The closest thing the investigators could find was a pagoda-inspired Gazebo at St. Patrick College. Each person tried to get an audience with Dean Father Brennan, with mixed results. Acting as a wealthy parent of a perspective student worked, with no information gained. Acting as a swarmy individual couldn't get you in the door to the secretary.

Discouraged, the investigators decided to elude a unenthused security detail to hide out on campus and see if Mrs. McCormack's dreams came true.

With no body in the morning, it seemed like a dead end.

That day, in the evening paper, they saw the murder of the priest Fr. Anthony Aurelio at Franklin Park. Father Aurelio was a professor of classical studies at St. Patrick. And oddly enough Franklin Park has no gazebo, much less a pagoda.

With very little luck or assistance coming from the local police department/city records, the investigators took matters into their own hands. The next evening, they made a foray into Fr Aurelio’s chambers in the faculty housing on campus. After breaking in, Smitty used a fake tin badge, a wallet, and an imposing demeanor to convince nosy priests that “Treasury Agents” were investigating the premises and that, "we have a warrant”. They broke into Fr. Aurelio’s room to find it trashed and ransacked. They managed to find some hidden notes and a recent journal, detailing the priest's interest in the secret society of the Wideawakes and their leader Mayhew Cooper.

Mr. Cooper was a businessman from Atlanta who set up the society to promote patriotism and American purity of spirit and body, that is, if you were an affluent White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Cooper had a residence in Jamaica Plain that the Wideawakes used as a meeting place, so the group grabbed a taxi and sped off for some late night reconnaissance.

Cooper’s residence was a large home with a brick wall surrounding the property under the lacking cover of the full moon. The investigators hid within the pine trees just within sight of a small pagoda-style gazebo in the backyard until late in the evening, then proceeded to break in through the back door. They stumbled around the ground floor, finding a tasteful décor and locked doors.

They went downstairs to the basement to discover a meeting room for the Wideawakes, as well as a makeshift altar atop a bunch of pallets. The altar room even had a cage large enough to hold a human being!

The investigators came back up and found a wrought iron circular stairwell to the 2nd floor. Except for the moonlight peering through the turret they were climbing, the stairs brought them to utter darkness… and a single gun shot. The surprised members hit the floor and fired randomly into the darkness. The shots from the darkness stopped, a mumbling and horrible shriek were emitted and a huge bird-like creature carrying a man came rumbling out and burst out the windows of the turret. The investigators had little time for recovery, as another person came through a door and opened fire on them with a pistol. Steven tried to maneuver closer to him to attack hand-to-hand, but a well placed shot pierced his heart, dropping him to the ground….

*rewind*

Steve barely made his dodge roll and deftly dove towards the wall to avoid the stranger’s shot. (The problem with running the game with 95% of the mechanics the Keeper’s responsibility is that if I forget a rule (such as Dodge) the players don’t know what they’re missing. Two rounds of combat later, I realized I should have allowed the roll, he made it, and his amazing recovery turned the tide. The stranger was killed and the serving staff subdued and tied up in the servant quarters. They made a pitiful attempt at interrogating them, but it allowed them time to break into the locked rooms downstairs. They discovered in an office a Klu Klux Klan robe, another similar robe but with red fiery embellishments, a box of purses and wallets, money missing, but IDs still inside, $5,000 in cash, and a number of confusing letters and notes, mostly in a weird code/slang, referring to a big event occurring in Corina, Georgia on the night of the 30th of April. Other correspondence referred to a H. Steven Lambert residing in Corina. They then stole the Plymouth in the driveway, drove into Boston proper and ditched it about ten blocks from their hotel.

As they travelled to Arkham by train to visit Dr. Bowsfield, the evening papers were publishing odd stories of a reported break-in at the home of Wideawakes Boston founder Mayhew Cooper. The home was ransacked, one man was dead, and the staff tied up. Police could claim the box of wallets and purses with IDs of numerous reported missing persons on the desk in office was planted evidence. They couldn’t refute a blood-soaked altar in the basement. Mr. Cooper’s whereabouts were unknown.