November 9, 1923
JP Carson was in heaven. The nights might be get longer, but if these dresses got any shorter, he would have to seriously propose an open relationship with his wife. The way they danced, why he could just...
JP was startled awake by someone rudely knocking his feet off of his own desk. The nerve of some people! This had better be important.
As he regained his composure from his nap, the PI saw the guilty parties: an NYC police officer, and some fella in a three piece suit that oozed self-importance.
"JP Carson? I'm Chief Detective Fayette, this is Sergeant Smith. We have a job for you, if you can free your schedule..."
The Detective brought the well rested investigator up to speed. Mayor John Hylan's daughter, Maureen had been missing for two days, and the investigation had to be done quietly, as to prevent a media firestorm. The department's primary "contractor" was Charles Wilson, and his body had washed up in the river this morning, less than 24 hours from starting the case. Twice the discretion would be required.
A picture of her was provided, as well as the limited info about her disappearance. She was wearing a green velvet dress and had become separated from her girlfriends upon leaving a performance of The Great Raspini.
The Sergeant put up his finger to stop the conversation. He swore he had heard a barely audible "Oooh, The Great Raspini," from the other side of the door. He pulled out his revolver, quietly walked across the floor, and quickly turned the door knob to discover a conservatively dressed woman with her ear to the door, armed with a picnic basket.
"Do you know this woman, Mr Carson?"
"Yes, that's my wife. Honey what are you doing here? Why aren't you at school?"
"Pipes burst, so they closed. Thought I might surprise you with a picnic in your office..."
"Just give me five minutes and well talk."
With Mrs Carson no longer eavesdropping, they finalized the financials and Fayette stressed that he was to only contact him with any information.
New York's Finest left and a very excited Jessica Carson started with the important questions, "Are we going to see The Great Raspini?"
The Great Raspini was simply a traditional magician's act with all the flamboyancy that one could muster. He had become a huge hit at the Revio Theatre, so big that the next three weeks of shows were sold out.
JP and Jessica dressed to the nines and did what any self respecting couple would: They found the closest person with two tickets, offered them five times their cost, and got some poor balcony seats. The Great Raspini was exactly as advertised: sawing volunteers in the audience in half, levitation, rabbits out of hats, the whole shebang.
Upon the show's completion, JP noticed three things. (1) the crowd was funneled back out the front door, rather than the (2) completely unmarked side exits. (3) The staff finished their cleaning duties while the crowd was dispersing out onto the street and left with the few stranglers. It would be very easy in the chaos to separate someone from their friends and take them out a side door.
The Carsons were escorted out by the last usher in the building and headed to a speakeasy to mull over their next options.
Two hours later, they were back behind the empty theatre, picking the lock and ending up on stage. Despite discovering a few secrets of the magician's code, they found no clues, save a trapdoor to the basement.
The rooms were all for use when the theatre was having real performances. Set construction, costumes...it was only the prop room that had any traffic.
They had barely begun searching the toon when a bat dive bombed JP, scaring the bejeezus out of him. Jessica could only laugh as she had spotted the tripwire on the cluttered floor and witnessed the cause and effect. In fact, there were a number of these harmless surprises in here, they must be close.
The duo only began questioning themselves when they discovered two sets of footprints leading towards an old prop of an Egyptian sarcophagus leaning against the wall. The dark tunnel that was revealed with the push of a hidden button was one thing. The fact that one of the footprints was of a man 8-foot tall worried them much more!
After traipsing through the tunnel and avoiding all the rats, they came upon an old velvet curtain with a scream emanating behind it. Moving the curtain didn't discover the source of the screams, but it did uncover a ridiculously long bed and an old iron door beside it.
With the door open a bit, the two knew they weren't up against a traditional kidnapper. It sounded as if The Great Raspini himself had kidnapped Maureen. She was to be sacrificed, along with tomorrow night's audience to help him achieve ultimate power.
JP had heard enough, so he slowly opened the door with a low metal groan to survey the predicament. The room had a fast moving stream running through the middle of it (storm sewer?) with only a few flimsy boards acting as a bridge across. The Great Raspini stood on the other side, with the Mayor's daughter strapped to a table and gagged. Another man, a giant of one who must have bee 8-foot tall, silently stood off to the side, clutching a large brass switch on the wall. Normally a large machine covered in gauges, buttons, and levers along the back wall, being adjusted by the magician would be the focus of the Carson's attention. However, the walls being lined with crate upon crate labelled "TNT" should have been their first concern.
JP muttered a few words to his wife. Jessica couldn't understand what he was saying. Was she supposed to save the girl or distract the big guy?
JP didn't wait for his wife to act. He pulled out his .38, carefully aimed at Raspini's head, and fired.
Jessica Carson woke up with a splitting headache and coughing up water. She was floating in the water next to a pier. Where was she? Where was JP? Who was floating next to her? Aaaah! Lucky for her, that person was Maureen Hylan and she was still. Getting out of the chilly water both women remembered an explosion, and since there was a huge fire upriver, they could add two and two together while fighting hypothermia.
Jessica delivered the Mayor's daughter directly to Detective Fayette, Fayette was a right fellow and still paid her her husband's rate. After that, all Jessica wanted was dry clothes, a bottle wine, and someone to tell her if her husband was alive or dead.
What happened in that underground lair? Well, JP had the villain in his sights mid-monologue and with called shot to the head, the environment, and time to aim, I gave him a 35% chance to hit and end the session right there. Phil picked up his Cthulhu dice and *Shooka shooka shooka*
He rolled a 100.
Usually a weapons malfunction, but the scenario states that on a 99 and 100, the shot hits the TNT detonates. Each pc/npc got a luck roll to survive the blast and instead get washed out to the river. Phil butchered that. So our two-fisted pulp detective who was injecting some gritty roleplaying to the team, was obliterated.
This would (and did) make the second half of the Carson's doubleheader of sessions a wee bit together.
The scenario, Murder in the Footlights, is a free pdf scenario for Chaosium's BRP. Outside of the whole block of buildings going up, I thought it was basic enough for them to get their feet wet again.
Next Cthulhu session: Jessica vs Obstetricians, cults, and annoying Brits