(From May 17, 2008 Game Session)
Steven O'Hara was spending another leisurely August afternoon, polishing the chrome on his car. Of course, his custom built Dusenberg did not quite fit the middle-class neighborhood in Kingston, Pennsylvania, but a man with multiple advanced degrees should not be teaching at some Podunk Wyoming Seminary in the middle of Coal Country either. The special courier that arrived at his home reminded him of his short time doing government research for the war effort, getting urgent notices at all hours of the night, so it was a welcome distraction from his daydreaming into the shine.
Things tuned serious. It was a short note from friend and confidante Rupert Merriweather. Dr. Merriweather was one of his professors at the East Stroudsburg Normal School. He was every student's dream teacher: unpretentious, social to all people, and able to keep a secret when students made secret romantic rendezvous or discovered a cache of liquor. Heck, he was willing not only to partake in alcohol with his students, if you got into his good graces, he may be willing to procure it for you. Steven had kept in touch with Dr. Merriweather as he traveled to Arkham University near Boston for his Masters in Mathematics, moved to New Jersey for war research, and acquired a Masters in Physics from Rutgers University. Merriweather lived in Wilkes-Barre, and pulled some strings to get him the job at the Seminary two short years ago when job prospects seemed non-existent. It was only in the last six months that they had not met, other matters interrupting their friendship.
The note was handwritten and short. "Please meet me at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Room 402, Thursday at 1:00pm. Bring Angela. R.Merriweather"
The next day Steven and his wife Angela entered Room 402 at 1:00pm. They saw an emaciated Rupert Merriweather lying in a hospital bed, his lovely wife Edith at his side, with his pretentious twit of a son Edgar looking at them with crossed arms. Before Steve could even get a word, two other figures stumbled into the room. One was a much disheveled Nathaniel Millheim, his college roommate at East Stroudsburg Normal, and some other questionable man helping him in. In a raspy voice, Rupert actually made introductions to all. The questionable gent was Brian Nichols, an "associate" to Doctor (?) Millheim and whatever his endeavors were. Merriweather shooed his wife, son, and nurse out the door.
Merriweather was vague and barely coherent, but it amounted to "I made some mistakes with some friends many years ago. We've released something into the world, and with my death things could get worse." He motioned the group to grab a metal box, which Steven took. A few moments later, Merriweather started coughing up blood. His family and the medical staff rushed and rushed the group out the door. Halfway down the hall they could here the doctors say "He's gone."
Agreeing to meet at a local restaurant to go over the contents, a disbelieving Steven and Angela caught up with their college buddy "Dr" Nathaniel. In this alternate 1920's universe, either Adam was not even a casual acquaintance of Steven, or he never read the newspaper dealing with the Congressional Aide's grisly death... in town nevertheless.
The box contained an ancient Egyptian artifact, a deed and key to a house in Slocum Corners, south of Wilkes-Barre, and a journal detailing a "literary fraternity" Merriweather was a member of that dabbled in the occult. According to the journal, the group summoned some horrible being that killed one of their members, and drove another to madness. Luckily everything necessary to banish this thing was in the journal, or hopefully still at the house.
For a Cthulhu games, research was minimal and scant. Although the characters were interested in procuring some of the mentioned books (I don't think the University of Scranton has a copy of De Vermiis Mysteriis, especially since it was only St. Thomas College at the time.)
The next afternoon, they piled into Steven's car to take a daylight tour of the property: a long-neglected farmhouse with warding runes over each door and window. Through the solo investigation of the house by Brian, they found enough material to reverse the summoning, and decided to turn their afternoon jaunt to a midnight ritual (as per the instructions). The plan seemed easy enough, three people would chant the ritual at all times and one person would "watch" for shenanigans, whether mystical or real world. The fact that they would be armed with Mrs. O'Hara's personal shotgun made everyone a little uneasy (yay Angi and her 60% in Shotgun! ). Besides for the wailing and movement of the spirit, which had taken up residence in the attic, the first hour of the ritual went off smoothly.
At five after one in the morning, everything went to Hell. A truck pulled off the main road and onto the property. Out pops out the Luzerne County Sheriff, pissed off that's he's out there at this hour, and one Edgar Merriweather yelling at the investigators to get the Hell off of his personal property. Angela went outside, sans shotgun, and managed to delay the odd duo from entering the house. Soon, a moaning, blood soaked woman walked around from the right side of the house. The sheriff ran over to see if she needed any medical attention, and was promptly attacked by this walking dead. The sheriff was in a live-or-death struggle, Edgar was frozen in fear, and Angela dashed to the truck to grab the Sheriff's shotgun. Angela began firing shell after shell at this abomination as it tore into the Sheriff. Meanwhile Edgar got up enough frantic nerve to try to entire the house and (by ignorance) stop the ritual. He was stopped at the door by Steven with Angela's shotgun. After 20 seconds of crazed rants Edgar was pulled away from the doorway by another walking dead. Although Angela couldn't save either individual, her repeated blasts with a shotgun stopped both creatures (and amusingly enough, did not worry the closest neighbor a quarter mile away... at least until the next morning).
By two in the morning, the ritual succeeded and the spirit was banished back to wherever it came from....
The next morning, when State Police appeared, they found a grisly scene at the house, involving Edgar, the Sheriff; a local woman reported missing, and the local hobo engaged in some horrible (Satanic?) ritual/suicide. We'll see what CSI: 1920's Wilkes-Barre will pull out of this one, particularly if it puts THREE suspected murders on Brian Nichols...
Well, at least the group got an Egyptian artifact for their troubles (what to do what to do what to do).
Gameplay wise, it was amusing to see Steve only make 2 die rolls for his 20's alter ego all night. Angela (also played by Steve) was a combat monster. Hey, Angela's occupation was Dilettante, which in 5.6 CoC contains Shotgun as an occupational skill. Why argue? The other amusing thing was that after all the revelation, all the supernatural activity, and all the bloodshed. Steven O'Hara ultimately gained a point of Sanity. Just like in real life, little will faze Steve, short of duct tape and Jess beating the crap out of him.