Tuesday, January 27, 2015

CoC #24: Masks of Nyarlathotep #4: London: The Talented Mr Shipley

March 4, 1925
Upon realizing that Doc Millheim and Brian Nichols had screwed the pooch with interviewing their leads, Doctor Bob Wintermute took over the logistics for our investigators.  But first, a trip to Harrod's was in order

Lucky the group Wintermute had a high enough Credit Rating and rolled well enough on his Persuade to convince the staff at Harrod's to provide him with a shotgun for quail shooting and a few boxes of shells.

Doc Millheim had wandered off into the city in search of a sword-cane, but got overwhelmed with London and came back only with a nifty cane with a gilded top and a white top hat to go with his trademark white Searsucker suit.

After Harrod's and a quick stop back at the hotel to stow away their purchase, Wintermute and Nichols hit the seedier side of town to troll some Irish bars looking for connections to some more weapons.  Nichols couldn't get the time of day inside any of the establishments, and Dr Wintermute needed to pull him out of one potentially nasty encounter, but finally, they met with someone who provided them with a late night encounter in some back alley for a single Lee-Enfield Rifle at 3am.  

The rest of the afternoon was spent among the stacks of the library.  Nichols went insane as he uncovered more gruesome details of the demise of the Carlysle Expedition.  He also pulled very creditable information regarding Sir Audrey Penhew.

After the library and a late dinner, they met their Irish contact for the rifle, and nothing bad happened whatsoever.

March 5, 1925
The group spent the entire day touring  the British Museum speaking with the resident Egyptologists.
Their experts claimed the Carlysle Expedition was wild goose chase with no scholarly bearing  and  most of the artifacts that were unearthed were quite poor.

March 6, 1925
In the morning, everyone met with Mickey Mahoney, editor at the Daily Scoop.   Mahoney admitted that Elias was interested in a series of Egyptian Ritual murders that been plaguing London.  He had teased Mahoney with a story about a cult but Mahoney wasn't offering enough. 

Elias had shown interest in three articles in the newspaper's dead file:  one regarding the ritual murders, being investigated by James Barrington of Scotland Yard,  One regarding a series of murders out in the countryside, and one about a talented artist in Soho named Miles Shipley.
Elias had only scribbled some notes and left without saying thank you.  He did not seem like his normal self, rather distracted, or possibly frightened.

Later, Wintermute met with Edward Gavigan at the Penhew Foundation, under the auspices as an insurance investigator reviewing yet another policy from the Carlysle Expedition.  Gavigan appeared to be quite forthcoming, questioning a number of motives of the staff, including allowing a pregnant woman (Hypatia Masters) on such a harrowing mission.   Admitted that the expedition ran out of the initial funding and since approval would take some time, they decided to summer in East Africa to avoid the heat.  A rather unimpressive tour of the Penhew Foundation headquarters ended the visit.

Doc Millheim and Nichols decided that, while Wintermute was out, that they would check out Miles Shipley.   The door to his home was answered by an elderly woman who said she was his grandmother.  She invited the pair in, and took them upstairs to Miles' studio.  Miles was not painting, but offered his collection of paintings for sale.

The duo then proceeded to review each painting looking for clues (Keeper Note: Of course, the disturbing matter of the paintings called for a TON of SAN checks.  Both found a painting of the God of the Bloody Tongue surrounded by diminutive worshippers in Egypt(?), but then the results of the SAN checks kicked in.  Doc Millheim missed going temporarily insane by 1 and only knew he need !  Nichols was not so lucky with an active SAN of 29, and suffered long-term insanity.)

Upon viewing all of the paintings, Nichols staggered back, immediately regretted reading all those books and knew that everyone knew too much, especially Doc Millheim.  When the Mrs Shipley  offered the way back downstairs and opened a door.  Millheim, realizing it was not the door they had come through, shouted in protest.  Nichols decided neither could be trusted and proceeded to jump out the third-story window, over the brick and wrought iron wall, and off into the streets of SoHo. 
(Keeper Note:  Again, phenomenal rolls, this time Jump and Luck, allowed Nichols to crash through the window with minimal injury, clear the wall, and disappear into the night out of the game.)  

Everyone in the room was shocked by Nichols' action, but Doc Millheim noticed that, thanks to an knocked over lamp, the grandmother's shadow was not of an elderly woman, was smart enough to fly down the stairs while the residents stared out of the broken window, and was a block away by the time they searched the house for him.  The house was less one painting, as he had snagged the one with the God of the Bloody Tongue in it.  THAT one would remain his... forever. 

As he stumbled through the streets of Soho, every synapse in his brain fired in perfect unison as his consciousness pieced together all of the facts.  "Everything made sense now."   Between the style of  paintings, all the reading they had done, and all the clues scattered everywhere, it finally clicked.


Nylarlathotep, who, in the few times the books referred to him by name referred to him as a minor entity, a two-bit Loki, was indeed everything.

The Cult of the Bloody Tongue
The Cult of the Black Pharaoh
The Cult of the Beast
The Cult of the Bloated Woman

... all extensions of Nyarlathotep's influence.

Eventually he came to his senses and managed to hail a taxi back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel, Wintermute was meeting with Steven O'Hara and Joshua Wanisko at the bar, when Millheim could be seen scuttling across the lobby, a large rectangular object under his arm. 

They all went up to Millheim's home and the they could not did not believe a word of his story.  However, upon seeing the painting and failing a SAN check, Dr Wintermute began to understand the gravity of the situation. 

The next day, they arrived back at the Shipley residence, shotguns and rifles in hand, and were met by a peculiar open front door.  Everyone went inside, save young Anthony Parks, who was given the job of staying outside for back-up.    They cleared out most of the first floor, but when coming upon the kitchen, Wintermute, the point man, froze for a second, walked directly over to a pot on the stove and poured a bowl of soup for himself. 

The rest of the investigators looked in horror as the spoonful of small wonton that Wintermute thought he was, in actuality, an eyeball.


Doc Millheim rushed over to knock the bowl of soup out of Wintermute's hands, but in doing so, could see Grandma Shipley sitting in the near corner, dressed in what could be described as a tattered beach robe?  In March?   She did not appear too happy.

Bob had put his shotgun against the wall in the hallway when he felt the urge to have some soup, so the duo in the kitchen only a camera to protect themselves.  Steven turned the corner the fired scattershot at the grandmother.  After getting hit with the shot, Mrs Shipley's image of a kindly old, if perturbed grandmother was replaced by that of a bipedal snake person!

... in a tattered beach robe.

At that point, even at point blank range, Steve missed additional shots.  Doc Millheim tried to distract the Serpent person, only to have a knitting needle thrown into his shoulder.  Wintermute realized it was a perfect time to escape... with his pot of soup.  

Josh turned the corner and started firing with his revolver, to no avail. 

Parks could hear the gunshots from inside and ran to the front door, only to find it locked.  The other investigators were being a bit too careful.   After a flustered moment, be decided to run around the side of the house to get to the backyard.  

Dodging everything that had been thrown at it, the serpent person cast some sort of charm or bewilderment on Steve, forcing him to put down his weapon.   Josh tried to pick up the shotgun while it was still in Steve's hand, but only succeeded in blasting a hole in the plaster ceiling

Wintermute could not find a safe place for his soup, so proceeded to run out the back door and around to the front, riding smack into a charging Parks.   Both were scalded by the soup, and Parks realized the bottom of the pot contained a half-cooked female head.  Wintermute dropped to his knees, picking up the spaghetti noodles  (i.e. blonde hair) that had fallen out of the pot and onto the bricks of the terrace.   He finally came to and realized that he was eating a human head. 

Cannibalism is fun!

Doc Millheim, still holding his camera, decided to take some pictures of the creatures, and the flash effectively blinded it.   Parks finally gathered his senses, charged through the back door, and without a moment of hesitation, fired one shot just a bit high, but a second went through the serpent person's skull.

Searching the remainder of the house, they found a syringe full of a strange green ichor, went upstairs and destroyed all the paintings.  Going into the door that Mrs. Shipley tried to lure Nichols into, they discovered another painting with a tarp over it.  Taking off the tarp unveiled a picture of a small island with a monolith on it, surrounded by a swamp.    Soon, the objects in the painting began to shimmer and move, so Dr Wintermute blew it apart with a shotgun blast.

On a second trip to the basement, they did discover a secret door that contained a odd assortment of items.  A collection of various books, some mysterious herbs, and a stone vat which held a decapitated female body. 

They piled all the painting together and set numerous fires on each floor, before jumping into a taxi and heading back to the hotel.

No sign of Shipley

No sign of Nichols

Keeper Notes:  We had a short handed session with Bob, Nate, and Brian in attendance.  Bob kept the other player's investigators locked into their rooms, until they were needed in the return to Shipley's house.  

I'm very sad to see Brian Nichols go.  He was one of the first three investigators in the very first scenario of this campaign that was run nearly seven years ago!  Sure, we have huge gaps of time between sessions, but he had survived 23 previous sessions on guile, pluck, and a sheer desire to stay alive.  He may not be gone forever, but in his condition, it's best to bid our friend farewell.

Next:  Masks Part 5:  Let's Go to the Zoo!

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