Tuesday, January 6, 2015

CoC #21: Masks of Nyarlathotep - New York, Part One

After the investigators had their exciting vacation to Crete, things finally calmed down through the Fall of 1924.

Dr Bob Wintermute (Dr Bob) returned to teaching History at Miskatonic University.  For possibly good reason, Dr Armitage felt uneasy about giving him unfettered access to the Restricted Collection.

Dr Nathaniel Millheim (Doc Millheim) was strangely at ease with himself, after a disastrous encounter with Indian spirits at his best friend's bachelor party.   He pumped out a few more stories and even some non-fiction.  Not his best work, but his entire catalog was picked up by Prospero Press.

Brian Nichols, his trusted advisor and "agent," spent as much time as possible avoiding work.  His time was split between the Belvidere Club and wooing a few of the eligible women over 30, the Widow Carson's secretary Betty being one of them. 

Professor Steve O'Hara had finally reached the pinnacle of academic status.  Columbia University had offered him a part-time instructor position and was willing to pay for him to be a full time researcher while working towards his PhD.   However, home life was not idyllic, and with the best intentions for their one-year old son, his wife Angela, filed for divorce and moved back with her parents in Mauch Chuck, Pennsylvania. 

Monday, January 12, 1925
Doc Millheim received a troubling telegram

Jackson Elias was a noted author and adventurer.  If he was not the most interesting man in the world, he was easily that most interesting man in the Belvidere Club when he made an appearance.  His interest in death cults (and largely debunking them) intrigued Millheim and the other investigators, and while they never trusted Elias with any of the big secrets, everyone considered him a "good friend."

It was time to get the band back together. 

Dr Wintermute was informed his presence was requested from Arkham. A message was left for Steven at Columbia.  He called the Widow Carson, but she was deep undercover on an assignment.  Millheim even contacted Joshua Wanisko, a chemist who they had crossed paths with before

If Jackson Elias needed help, they needed every body they could get, emphasis on body.

Millheim then went over to the Belvidere Club to snag Nichols from the bar, only to find it shut down by Treasury Agents!   He went over to a back-up watering holes, where he found Nichols and another club regular, Heinrich Hans, former German pilot from the Great War.  Heinrich was also fond of Elias, and volunteered his assistance. 

The group assembled between Millheim's office during the day and Steven's brownstone at night, but they did very little research while they awaited further contact by Elias.  

Thursday, January 15, 1925
Finally, they received a call from a perfectly calm Elias (or that's how Millheim's failed Psychoanalysis roll perceived it), setting an eight o'clock meeting that evening at Chelsea Hotel.  As all friends are willing to do, they decided not to show up early, or case the joint, but rather at 7:55, they went up the elevator to the third floor.  Of course, they were packing sawed-off shotguns and Thompsons under their coats. 

Some of the investigators could make out some odd noises coming from inside Elias' room.  Nichols immediately ran back down the hall to hold the elevator.  Numerous attempts to open the door with shoulders failed horribly.  Dr Bob tried to blow away the door with a machine gun, but lost control and sprayed the wall and ceiling with bullets (botched roll).   It was a combination of Steven with a fire axed and a few well-placed kicks at the door that managed to bust it open. 

Inside the room, there was no sign of Jackson, but two Negroes could be seen escaping out the window and presumably down the fire escape.  Heinrich sprayed the back wall of the room with bullets, but not only missed the escaping Africans, but also failed to notice their compatriot hiding beside the door.  A god-awful looking machete came crashing down on his arms, cutting off a hand and spraying blood everywhere.  Joshua lost all his nerve and simply took two steps back and went catatonic.   Wintermute shove his Tommy gun into the belly of the attacker and unloaded. 

Nichols held the elevator.

Steven then dashed through the room and out the window, hopefully trying to catch the men, but by the time he got down to the alley below, they had jumped into a Hudson and driven off. 

But something else was in that alley.  A hulking figure emerged out of the darkness, a t least seven foot tall, with vaguely Oriental features, and a disturbing orange skin tone.  Oh, hopefully that was from the streetlights off in the distance.  The monstrosity attacked Steven, hitting him with a significant, albeit glancing blow.  O'Hara's only salvation was the ice storm that evening, as the slippery alley bought him enough time to run back out to main thoroughfare.

Inside, Doc Millheim was the first to see the carnage lying on the bed.  Elias' body had been mutilated, his chest ripped open by something jagged and strange symbols carved into his forehead.  They gathered what little evidence was around the room, ran down the service stairwell, and dashed out the kitchen on the ground floor, dragging Joshua with them the entire time.

Nichols finally let the elevator go down to the ground floor before stepping over the body of Heinrich and following the others.

Friday, January 16, 1925
The few things that they had managed to grab from Jackson's room were dribs and drabs of clues pertaining to the Carlysle expedition of 1919.   Millionaire playboy Roger Carlysle had assembled a motley group to explore some out of the way site in Egypt and took the summer off in Kenya, where they had been brutally murdered by tribesmen.  Yet, Jackson had a hunch that something was not right with the subsequent investigation and execution of the guilty parties, and as the clues suggested, he had travelled around the world to find the truth.

There were a few clues pertaining to New York City proper, so Nichols and his bar companion, Earl Martin, a Great War vet and "dreary Bohemian dreamer," set off for an export company.

The trip was a disaster as the pair asked the wrong questions with the wrong attitude and were promptly bounced off of the property. 

The rest of the group stopped by the offices of Prospero Press and talked with the publisher, Jonah Kensington.   With another of his stable of writers (Doc Millheim) there, he openly admitted that Jackson was working on an "earth-shattering" story, but was still putting the pieces together.   He alos provided them with copies of Jackson's books, which the Investigators spent the better part of the weekend reading them.  The books only confirmed the Jackson's belief that cults were merely the tools of the power-hungry who preyed on the simple-minded and that magic did not exist. 

Doctor Wintermute needed to return to Miskantonic for a few days/weeks to attend to classes, and needed to jump on a late train to Boston on Sunday.  Earl Martin disappeared into the shadows from which he had originally emerged, and Joshua Wanisko needed to go back to work.  It was up to Millheim, Nichols, and O'Hara to continue the investigation of the murder of Jackson Elias.... and beyond.

Keeper Notes:  This actual play is waaaaay overdue, and for that I apologize.  
I'm still shocked that we only had one death this session.  The bad rolls affected the NPCs as much as the Investigators, so everyone had a proper chance to escape.  The group also failed to gather all the evidence from Elias' room (After the great door debacle, the cultists had time to scoop some things up.)  More than a year later, I'm quite certain the newlyweds in Room 410 at the Chelsea Hotel who got sprayed with Tommy gun bullets were shaken, but unharmed.  They may have gotten a refund for the night as well.

Of course, if you wish to read a far more entertaining version of what happen, you can check out Jugular Josh's version

Next:  Session #2 of Masks of Nyarlahotep, "If Knocks on Doors in Pulp Games are Bad, What are Knocks on the Windows?  Even Worse."

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