Wednesday, November 25, 2009

(Myspace Repost) CoC: NEPA Coal Country #3

(From June 21, 2008 Gaming Session)

September, 1920—

Dr. Millheim was sitting in his office, perusing his recent occult acquisitions of Liber d'Ivonis and the Corbitt diaries when the phone rang. On the phone was Selwyn Robards, local lawyer and one of the many defense attorneys he's used while in business as a "Spirit Investigator." He wanted to meet with the good Doctor and his "associates" about a family problem. Millheim and Nicols went to the meeting.

At his law offices , Robards explained that his nephew, Jeremy Lombard had died three days ago. Police ruled it suicide, as it appeared he jumped out of his 4th floor apartment window. Robards would not believe the police report, knowing that Jeremy was a driven young man, "full of life", and "not the type of person to do those things." Robards only knew his nephew was a local reporter for the Kingston Journal and he was camping out on a case north of Kingston. Robards was willing to pay well for information refuting the police report, or any solid evidence that confirmed the suicide. Dr. Millheim agreed, asking only to use his phone, to call his good friend Steven O'Hara.

Nichols took Millheim to his favorite watering hole, a speak-easy named the Angry Welshman. Steven showed up, showed interest in helping out, and informed them that at this time, Angela was more willing to use her Shotgun on them than for them. Smitty, the owner, was a practical man, but for a share of the 'reward' he was willing to work two jobs for the next week, both with sawed-off shotgun in hand.

Smitty and Nichols went to Jeremy's apartment to see if the police missed anything. They found a locked apartment door, and the 1920's version of police tape, an "Official Police Business" notice on the door. The small apartment did yield some interesting clues: a Journal with entries stopping five days prior (with two pages ripped out), and a number of very rough drafts of his "big scoop" in the wastepaper basket. The journal noted the loss of livestock at some farm and the regular movements of a mysterious truck down the farm road. The rough draft mentioned a haunted house connected to the "Wyoming (Valley) Gargoyle", the Ghost of the Burning Man, numerous disappearances and tragedies, and the new activities of the its residents, which are merely alluded to, but no specifics mentioned. The pair snuck out the door just as the police pulled up to investigate a complaint of prowlers.

Steven and the Doctor went to the Kingston Journal, Jeremy's place of employment to get any additional info. The Journal was pretty much a bust; except for being over-diligent in his work and late with his deadlines, Jeremy was a model employee and co-worker, who primarily worked alone.

Meeting for lunch back at the Welshman, they can't find anything on Isaiah Turnbull, a farmer mention in the Jeremy's journal. Steven and the Doctor went back to apartment and waited till after the police presence left before they asked around about Jeremy. By luck they found one fellow who did see three men leave the building right before Jeremy's body was discovered. They then walked over the police station and through some sweet fast-talking got to look at the suicide note, which matched Jeremy's writing perfectly. Using further bamboozlement and a little sneakiness, the Doctor actually managed to find the police file of Brian Nichols "Person of Interest" in the death of Adam Mosher… in the pen filled margins, he noted "B.Nichols is a large, bald black man" and promptly left the station.

The next day the group traveled to the archives of the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader and the Kingston Journal, and a short trip to the Library. In the dead files, they found an article written a year prior concerning the Ghost of the Burning Man, by one Jeremy Lombard. He connected the Burning Man to the Wyomoing Gargoyle of 1778(!).

The library produced a old journal noting the old Hobart house burning to the ground to the Ghost of the Burning Man (disregard the mention of two squatters living there and setting numerous fires to stay warm…) The property was purchased by the Hoesynth family, and under community protest, they built a large house on the property.

They also found two articles from 1913, recording the murder of young Jasmine Hoesynth, age 8. It seemed the police officer assisgned to watch over the family the night after the murder had a sudden and complete mental breakdown.

Dr Millheim took a long walk over to the old Hobart/Hoesynth house, known for its stone tower just peeking over the treeline along the river. He observed activity inside in the house and was bold enough to knock on the door and ask some Italian man with slicked-back hair where the river was, even though the river was 50 yards away.

Utlimately they found Isaiah Turnbull's farm, located between Kingston and Wyoming and dropped Jeremy's name to prevent and intimate acquaintance with the farmer's 20-gauge shotgun. They camped out at the farm together Wednesday night with no problems. Smitty remembered his liquor shipment was showing up very late Thursday night, so the rest agreed to do a bit more research in town and camp out without him that night. Oh, yeah, Dr. Millheim finally realizes the Hobart/Hoesynth house is right down the road from Turnbull's farm.

Trying to find out more about the house, the visited the Wyoming Historical and Genealogical Society. They did find the journal of Colonel Thomas Hartley of the Continental Army.

* History Lesson *

Battle of Wyoming occurred in 1778, with local Indian and loyalists butchering 200 militia men. General Washington order General John Sullivan to march from Easton to the Wyoming/Susquehana River Valley, finally ending in the Battle of Newtown near Elmira. While on this march Sullivan's men would use a scorched-earth policy on any and all Indian settlements.

Well before Sullivan reached what would be modern-day Wilkes-Barre, Col Hartley and his men performed a raid on local Loyalist and Indian settlements, or that's what the history texts say.

Hartley's journal stated that his mission was only particular Indian groups, and hunting an elusive beast with a blood-covered maw that frequent Elias Hobart's tower. With the help of a preacher, the "gargoyle" was killed. No sign of Hobart or his family could be found….

*End History Lesson*

That night the group camping out saw the large truck drive down the road from the old Hobart/Hoesynth house and onto the main road. It came back early that morning and parked in a garage around the back of the house. Without their trusty shot present the trio ran back to the Angry Welshman. They compared notes with Smitty, who found a striking coincidence between the mysterious truck and the truck delivering his liquor last night. It seemed like Grazziani Verducci, small time mobster and Smitty's liquor connection had something to do with the house.

An entire half-hour of real-time elapsed as the group argued what to do…Screw the supernatural clues, our heroes were more concerned that the goods Verducci forced on his clients were not true Canadian booze! Just after noon the group jumped back in Steven's Dusenburg and drove back to the house, parking the car in the woods.

Nichols and Dr. Millheim decided to try the garage as Smitty and Steven tried the front door. The plan was simple, Smitty was to knock on the door and pretend he was selling liquor door-to-door. Steven would hide around the corner with his wife's shotgun in case things might go bad. The sheer brilliance of their plan blinded them from considering that selling illegal hooch door-to-door (without a peddler permit to boot) might not be the best way to get in a house full of mobsters. They also didn't anticipate the lone person left in the house was Luigi, who seemed mentally unstable and hid a shotgun behind the door.

The ploy went south quickly. Smitty wasn't killed by the sudden shotgun blast and tried to wrestle it away from Luigi. Steven had trouble getting a clear shot.

Meanwhile, Nichols and Dr. Millheim got into the garage and found it empty, no truck, and no other vehicles. When the shotgun blast went off, they found a back door into the house and saw the mobster at the far end of the hallway. A full-out melee ensued and eventually Luigi got enough separation from the guys, not to fire his shotgun, but to be the recipient of Steven's (Even with 4d6 damage at point blank range, a dude with 17 hit points is one tough sonovabitch). Smitty put a extra shot in Luigi's head to finish the deal.

The fellas pulled Luigi's body inside and began a search of the house. A few odd books in one room, some nice furniture in another….. When looking in the bathroom, Steven was surprised by a headless Luigi pummeling his back. Smitty couldn't seem to get a decent shot off, Dr. Millheim went mad, and Nichols ran to the car.

They managed to put down the creature with large amounts of fire (and firepower) and found the singed but still legible missing pages of Jeremy's journal in Luigi's flaming coat.

After a quick and heated discussion, they decided to check out the basement, that is Smitty decided to find the booze. He couldn't find anything. A recovered Dr. Millheim then asked if he search for any hidden compartments and passageways. "No, why would I do that?" said the owner of the hidden speakeasy. Dr. Millheim and Steve went downstairs and immediately found a hidden passge filled with chemisty equipment leading to the motherload of Canadian Whiskey. Smitty was ready to grab a case or two, but the other two noticed another hidden door behind a pile of beakers. The new room emanated a bright blue light from a glowing pentagram in the floor. And this point Smitty realized he had had his fill of parabnormal crap and tried to dash up the stairs, only to find a blue glowing ghost at the top. Smitty stopped in the middle of the stairs, but the ghost dove down and went right through Smitty. Smitty kept his cool and proceeded to run out to the Dusenberg. After waiting a few minutes for the other two, Smitty and Nichols snuck off towards the tower, to hide from mobster/authorities/glowing ghosts.

Steven and Dr. Millheim debated what to do with the glowing pentagram. Steven initially wanted to destroy the pentagram, but his limited knowledge of the occult (ie the last session), convinced him that chanting the same chant as before would do the trick

Now, to be fair and comprehensive, somewhere between Luigi's re-appearance and the ghost appearing, someone decided it was a smart thing to set fire to the Living room and it had been slowing spreading. The smell of smoke was becoming a bit of a problem, even in the basement, so the pressure was on the pair. Dr. Millheim convinced Steven that destroying the pentagram was a better course of action. Five minutes later, the pentagram destroyed, the room exploded. Five more minutes and the intrepid Dr. and his trusty friend Steven staggered out of the burning house, only to be met by the local fire and police departments. A significant amount of fast-talking later, plus the pages from Jeremy's journal and the local authorities managed to ambush the mobsters and arrested them for murder, bootlegging, and a small slew of petty other crimes. Good news: The guys got a handsome sum for the investigation and Dr Millheim and Steve have contacts with the State Police. Bad News: A previously misplaced file on the murder of Adam Mosher was found and the fingerprints to Brian Nichols were now oddly linked to a series of gruesome murder-suicides in Slocum Corners south of town. Plus the investigators didn't find the ten grand in cash before they torched the place. Really bad news: The Angry Welshman is gonna need to find another supplier.

I nearly spit out my beer when Adam said he was going to work in a speakeasy, even better when he rolled enough starting wealth to actually own the speakeasy! I also realized Dr. Millheim might not miss a session due to psychotherapy since his new friend Smitty has a decent psychoanalysis skill (as all bartenders should have.) The desire to burn things worries me a bit, but I did allow those some post-game library use rolls for some follow-up research to offer a few more leads. It seems some person named Elias Hobart owned a small house and a stone tower near Newtown, New York as well (hmmm). Elmira (NY) Historical Society records had Hobart connected to some Church of the Astral Contemplation. Hmmm.. there seems to be a whole lot of churches contemplating stuff. What stuff, you ask? Perhaps that will be answered next session….

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