Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Masks of Nyarlathotep - Episode 5

Episode 5

30th Jan 1925



(A brief bit of ret-conning was needed to get Andy’s new character into the party) The previous night as Dick merrily drank the night away, he got into a bit of a scuffle with one of the locals over the quality of the ale served. Punches were thrown, glasses broken but it was over before it began and they got separated to opposite ends of the bar. A man asks the landlord for his kit, and the landlord hands over a military style medical bag. He patches up the drunken patron, and then does the same for the drunken P.I, introducing himself as Thomas Clinton, ex-Army doctor. He takes Dick back to Bennetts house and stays the night to ensure that his patient is well.

Over breakfast the party get to know Thomas and explain that their previous medical ‘expert’ stayed in Arkham when they came to London, and they could really do with a doctor in their midst. Thomas agrees, although he is very sceptical about the talk of monsters and magic, his stiff upper lip not allowing much room for imagination.

Once breakfast is finished, Bennett and Jim head to the library to research the Carlyle expedition and see if they can find any reference to The Crawling Chaos; Thomas and Dick go to the office of The Scoop to talk to the Editor, Micky Mahoney.

Mickey was expecting them, but was surprised that Waldo wasn’t with them. Dick’s blasĂ© comment of “A lot of people die around us” worries both Micky and Thomas, but the conversation quickly turns back to Jackson Elias. Micky confirms that Jackson visited a few weeks back, he’d known him for several years and was surprised to see him so flustered, but was happy to let him search through the archives. After a couple of hours, Micky tells them, Jackson left in a hurry, leaving only three articles on the table:

An artist in Soho, painting horrid and unusual scenes

A beast of some sort seen in a village near Derby

Egyptians living in London turning up dead, a couple every month for many months

Excited to have some leads, they head to the cafĂ© to meet up with the other two. It transpires that their time at the library wasn’t as successful; finding no new information on the Expedition, and the Crawling Chaos could be one of several names for the same entity. This barely disheartened them, as having something that was directly linked to Jackson spurred them on. Thomas and Dick went to Scotland Yard to speak with Inspector Barrington with regards to the Egyptian murders, while Jim and Bennett head to Holbein Mews to speak to the surprising new artist, Miles Shipley.

At The Yard, Inspector Barrington agrees to see the pair and listen to what they’ve got to say. They tell him about the ritual murder of their friend and the Cultists on the Mauritania, and how they could be linked to the murders going on here.

“You’re not the first person to suggest a Cult connection, a man called Elias mentioned something called The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh but we couldn’t find any evidence”

The pair tell the Inspector that the man he met was the very man who was murdered, this piqued his interest and he happily divulged what he knew:

Jackson mentioned The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh

One of the victims muttered ‘Hotep’ before he died, which means ‘Peace’ or ‘Rest’ according to Edward Gavigan of the Penhew Foundation

Many of the victims frequented the Blue Pyramid club but investigations didn’t turn up anything

Tewfic al-Sayed did work for the Penhew Foundation and also goes to the club, but again investigations found nothing conclusive

Barrington impresses upon them that they are civilians now and although he appreciates their help, they aren’t to overstep their bounds (let’s see how long that lasts!)


Meanwhile, Jim and Bennett are enjoying a cup of tea made by Miles’ mother as she tells them about her son’s amazing change into the rising star of the art world. Miles on the other hand barely communicates with them, staring unblinkingly at his sketchbook as he furiously draws out another disturbing image. Bertha takes the two ‘art collectors’ upstairs to the gallery, where they are confronted by over a dozen horrific and twisted paintings, all expertly created with meticulous detail, but all the gore, bugs and just plain messed up things going on starts to take its toll and they need a breather. Bennett helps Bertha in the kitchen while Jim feigns illness to use the bathroom, using the precious few minutes alone to have a search around upstairs, but to no avail.

Bennett notices a strange smell in the kitchen, but he can’t quite place it, although it is stronger towards the basement door. Running out of excuses to stay, they agree to buy one of the paintings and arrange to come back the next day to see if Miles in in a more talkative mood.

The party meet up at the pub to exchange information and agree that there is something screwy going on in that house, but it can wait till the next day; the Blue Pyramid however is definitely an evening job, so after dropping off the painting, picking up a few bits from Thomas' house and placing an order for a pistol through a gentleman that Dick found at a dive bar, they back into Soho to check out the club. They arrive at around 9pm and are led into the main area of the club, a large open room with silks hanging from the ceiling across to the walls and down, giving a very touristy impression of an Arabian tent. The music isn’t to any of their tastes, but the ladies wearing not a lot whilst belly dancing one stage soon put that out of their mind. Thomas asks who the owner of this fine establishment is, and eventually manages a quick chat with him. Beyond general niceties, no real information was gained; he’s far too busy running the club to pay attention to the occasional random person.

Feeling down heartened at this sudden dead end, the investigators have a few drinks and discuss their possible options and how the different cults may be linked. The time rolls on to gone 11pm when one of the waitresses brings them another round, but written on Thomas’s napkin is “Meet me round back at Midnight”. Debating whether this is a clue or if Thomas has pulled, for safety’s sake the rest of the party spread out, on staying at the club, one across the road and another stands guard at the mouth of the alleyway while Thomas meets the mysterious lady. Only a few minutes after midnight, the fire door at the side of the club opens, and the waitress comes out. She introduces herself as Yasmine and tells him that her boyfriend was taken by the Brotherhood several weeks ago and is most likely dead. She goes on to say that each month a truck arrives at closing time, driven by Tewfic al-Sayed, and around 20 people get in. They are gone all night and arrive back early the next morning, well most of them come back….

Thomas asks when was the last time the van came by, nearly a month ago it transpires (convenient huh?), but it’s getting late so they swing by Tewfic’s spice shop to have a quick look before heading home. After having to spell out to Dick that breaking into someone’s premises while it’s obvious that they’re in would be a fairly sodding dumb move, the party head home. More nightmares harass Jim’s sleep, how much longer can he cope with them?

The next day, Jim heads back to the British Museum to see Professor Willis and find out if he had managed to translate the tablet he found. The professor explains that cuneiform is very difficult to translate, but there does seem to be references to communicating with ‘Deep Ones’. While he is at the museum, the rest of the investigators go to the Spice Shop to talk to Tewfic. The conversation begins nicely enough, they ask about why he lives here, how nice the Blue Pyramid club is, general chit chat to get a feel for this man. They manage to get some more information about the Brotherhood (it was an ancient cult that was outlawed hundreds of years ago). That is until Dick straight out accuses him of being a mass murderer because he’s foreign! Oddly enough Tewfic doesn’t take to that well and angrily kicks them out of his shop.

Thomas volunteers to keep an eye on the shop while the others go back to see Miles Shipley. Miles is technically more lucid this time, but he is clearly a disturbed individual, unable to explain how his talent suddenly appeared or where he gets his inspiration from. Bennett manages to get him talking about the techniques he used while Dick pretends to have been a plumber in the past and offers his services to check the sink, to see if he can find the source of the smell in the kitchen. Unfortunately for Dick, his knowledge of indoor plumbing is somewhat lacking and despite some fantastic quick thinking bullshit from his player (well done Kiwi), Bertha is suspicious of his motives. The smell however does remind him and Jim of being at the zoo, most importantly, the reptile house.

Hoping to appeal to their bank accounts, Jim tells them that he’d like to be Miles’ patron and would be willing to put on a show in a local gallery. The Shipley’s are excited by the prospect and agree to go for a meal with Jim and Bennett to discuss is more.

Heading home to get changed, they pick up Thomas on the way past who tells them that Tewfic hasn’t left the shop all day. A plan is concocted, Jim and Bennett get the Shipley’s out of the house, and Thomas and Dick break in and get to the bottom of the weirdness in that place. Everyone knows their roles, and the plan is deployed; The ‘Art Critics’ go for a lovely meal at The Ritz, and the other pair sneak round to the back of the house. Dick manages to climb over the high wall surrounding the small garden, Thomas instead opens the gate and walks though, smug as all hell as he strides past the dangling P.I. They spot a deckchair in the garden that seems to have scales of some sort on them, but unsure of their significance they turn their attention to breaking and entering. Dick is unable to pick the lock, but thanks to a steady hand and a small scalpel from the doctor, he manages to pop the latch to the kitchen.

They head straight into the basement which has an odd path leading to the back wall, either side of this path is made up of general Brik-a-brak and household items. The smell gets worse the further they head in, not just the smell of the zoo, but something altogether, deader. A few minutes searching provides them with a secret entrance to a small cave like room, bizarre glyphs and symbols are carved in the walls, a couple of crude shelves hold some books, scrolls and a syringe of green fluid. At the end of the room is a stone tub, no more than 2ft square, and despite Dicks request to not look in the strange stone tub (flashbacks to the creature in the well in the Ju-Ju House!), Thomas checks out the contents. What he sees turns his stomach. Even the trenches of the Somme didn’t produce this…mess. Human bones, partly digested flesh, blood and organs, topped off with a woman’s head in the corner. They quickly gather up everything they can, take a few pictures and leave the way they came.

Not knowing when their friends would return with the murderers, they call the police and glossing over how they found the body, report the crime and head immediately to the pub to again attempt to expunge the images they’ve seen.

Meanwhile at The Ritz, Jim and Bennett treat Miles and his mother to the finest meal they’ve had in many a year, all the while trying to get more information out of the pair. Jim wants to make sure that Miles “Doesn’t have any skeletons in the closet”, to which he says “The only thing in my closet is my masterpiece”, a masterpiece you say? Well that got the investigators intrigued, so they finish up and head back to see this painting that is so special the artist keeps it hidden.

Back at the house the two of them are ushered up to the studio where Miles opens the cupboard and shows them a painting on an easel, covered with a white sheet. He pulls off the sheet to reveal…. A fairly mundane scene compared to the rest of his paintings… The picture shows a swamp, in the middle is a small island no more than 20 feet across with a stone slab in its centre. It is however spectacularly well done, the detail is amazing, even photographs aren’t this clear, the leaves seem to move, hang on, did they actually move? No, they can’t have, but the water is so well depicted it appears to ripple naturally…it is rippling….oh dear…

Bennett manages to pull his eyes away from the picture just in time to see his friend disappear in front of him and reappear in the now static painting. Understandably Bennett freaks out and runs straight for the stairs, the only person in his way is the elderly Mama Shipley who he shoves out of the way. At least that was his plan, but that old lady is tougher than she looks and she shoulders him against the wall. “Did you like the painting? It’s good isn’t it?” she said as she closes in on Bennett. Her smile is off putting, but the fact that her shadow is distinctly bigger than it should be really puts the icing on the crazy cake. Bennett is frantic, he looks around for a weapon of some sort and spots a palette knife by his foot. He scoops up the knife and slashes at the creepy grandma, cutting her floral blouse and staining the front with a thin line of blood.

“That was rather rude wasn’t it?” she said, and appeared to grow before his eyes. Her skin pulled taught and tore as the body inside grew, green scales showing through the rips. Her fingers elongate and rupture through the skin, revealing long black claws. Bennett looks at the seven foot tall Serpentman and it’s all he can do to not collapse on the spot, this hesitation gives the creature time to draw upon it’s eldritch powers and Mesmerises Bennett, “You really should look at the picture yessss….” Unable to stop himself, Bennett walks back over to the painting and looks; there’s Jim, frozen in paint right in front of him, panic beating through Bennetts skull is practically audible. With all the strength his mind can summon he forces himself to turn and run like a man possessed, the sudden turn of speed catching the now exposed Ssassatha completely unawares. Vaulting over the stair rails, Bennett races for the front door and out into the street, adrenaline coursing through his veins as he continues to pound down the street, barely even aware of the police cars heading past him in the direction that he had just come from. Fear driving him forward, he makes it back to his house safely and proceeds to immediately burn the painting that Jim bought.

Feeling suitably refreshed after a couple of hours in the pub, Thomas and Dick return to Bennetts house and find him panting and sweating in front of the now roaring fire. They exchange the information that they have gathered and breathe a sigh of relief that the police are clearly heading to the Shipley house, although they worry as to who or what they will meet when they arrive.

Curiosity getting the better of them, they head back to Holbein Mews and see the police cars outside the house, the front door is open and guarded by a policeman. A brief chat from Thomas to the copper confirms that they found the horror show in the basement, but nearly landed himself in hot water when he admitted that he was the one who made the call but didn’t have a good reason for breaking into a pensioners house in the middle of the night. Luckily the policeman agreed that the ends justified the means and allowed him to leave.

The three of them slowly walked back to Bennetts house, happy that an inhuman killer had been caught; but the shocking disappearance of Jim weighs heavily on the party. In the end they decide that it’s just too dangerous to try and retrieve the painting and bid farewell to their friend Jim Moriarty.


Meanwhile, 200,000,000 years in the past, the professor stands on a small island in the middle of a swamp. The stone slab is covered in dried blood, and the slices missing from it look far too much like an executioners block. Animals stir in the jungle, small water snakes meander through the murky depths, and then….silence….

All movement seemingly stopped, pistol drawn Jim looks around in panic, and there in the water he sees ripples, three sets moving straight towards the island. Steadying his shaking hand he takes aim at the water and prepares to fire at whatever may come out. What emerged was beyond his imagination, three humanoid lizards each carrying cruel looking spears and knives. Without a moment’s hesitation Jim opens fire, shot after shot until five rounds later one of the creatures lays in the mud, stone dead. The other two look at their fallen kin and quicken their approach.

Jim looks at them, and looks at the pistol, “One round left eh? Here goes…”

Masks of Nyarlathotep - Episode 4

Episode 4

27th Jan 1925

The Mauritania

Waldo did his best to keep up with his new friend, Dick, but soon lost sight of him. Not wanting to get lost, Waldo heads back to the room where he is met by Jim and Bennett (finally having recovered from his sea sickness). After explaining what happened, the three of them decide the best thing to do is start a search, beginning at the bar of course.

At the bar they meet the Count, who sends a couple of his men out to search for the naked PI, but fearing the worst the party head to the Pursers office to report his disappearance; they explain about the sailor at their door and the Purser seems concerned, they shouldn’t be out of the engineering deck, let alone up in First Class. He reassures them that he will send his men out to search deck by deck immediately, and they head out for another hour or so doing their own search. As the time reaches 1am, Waldo, Jim and Bennett call it a night and agree to continue the search first thing in the morning.

With a brief breakfast in them, the investigators continue their search of the Mauritania, working their way down the ship. Deck by deck they search, asking passers-by if they have seen a naked Bostonian chasing a sailor (strangely, no one recalls seeing that particular show!), until they reach the entrance to the engineering deck. Despite the warnings on the door, they know that that’s where the sailors mainly work, so they decide to plunge into the dark and hot bowels of the ship.

Despite Jim being as stealthy as an armour plated rhino, they somehow managed to make their way through without being noticed, until they spot someone who stands out as looking different from the average sailors around this deck. Bennett gets a good look at the shady looking man, and positively identifies him as the ships Purser. They follow him further down into the depths, convinced that there’s something dodgy about him, until he goes through another hatchway and closes the door behind him.

Fearing the worst, our trio arm themselves, Jim with his pistol, Waldo gets his knives ready and Bennett (always one to make an impression) dons the tiger claw gloves that he took from the priest in the Ju-Ju House. Waldo is the first to sneak into this final boiler room, the heat hitting like a slap to the face. He successfully makes his way down the stairs and quietly slinks to the left, hiding behind a coal chute. At the end of the room stands four men in robes facing the back wall; facing them they see the Purser, finishing putting on his own robes and arranging things on a makeshift altar. Behind him is a very battered and bloody Dick Glover P.I, gagged and tied to the bulkhead; he’s clearly not had a good time overnight, but he is at least alive and conscious!

Jim manages to stay true to form and falls down the last couple of steps, making his presence well known and scuffles to the right hand side; however none of the sailors or the Purser seem to react. Finally Bennett enters the boiler room and closes the door behind him, making his way round to the right of the room.

The Purser raises his hands and cries out:

“Ph’nglui Mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh Wgah’nagl Fhtagn!”

The other sailors reply with a shout of:

“Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!”

The Purser and sailors continue the back and forth of the harsh, guttural chanting until the Purser pulls out a copper dagger from inside his robes; he wraps his hand around the blade and pulls, allowing his blood to flow into a metal bowl on the altar.

While the sailors are still engrossed in the ceremony, Waldo and Bennett manage to move further into the room, Jim makes the decision to try and distract the cultists with a polite shout of “Hello? I appear to be a tad lost, is this the way to the bar?” At this, the sailors turn to see where the voice came from, which leaves Bennett a clear shot to use The Fist of Yog-Sosoth for the first time, which successfully launches the Purser a good 10 feet away from the altar. The sailors are suitably shocked to see their leader fly through the air, so Waldo capitalises on the sudden turn of events and steps into view with a shout of “If you don’t want more like that, you better leave!”, queue much laughter from all of us at the image of this lanky nerd trying to threaten four insane cultists, that is until he rolled a 02 for Intimidate! The sailors back away from the surprisingly scary Waldo until they reach the altar, and that’s when things go really wrong.

The air in the room seems to take on a prickly feel, the hair on everyone’s necks standing on end….. RRRRIIIIIIPP!! A tearing sound echoes through the boiler room, the sailors look up as one to see the monstrous claws protruding through the air from seemingly nowhere. The claws drag down leaving a 10 foot long gash in space, the other side leading to eternal darkness, but what comes out of the dark is more worrying! Its head a strange combination of canine and ape like, leads down to broad shoulders and long powerful arms. A sickly sheen covers its mottled grey/green hide….Sanity checks all round! Most people did well with their rolls, apart from one sailor who freezes in place, staring in horror at the Dimensional Shambler, and Waldo who took a bit hit to his sanity but the effects weren’t immediately obvious…

As the three other sailors move away (a shambler is a lot scarier than a shouting researcher!), the Purser gets to his feet and manages to slap his bloodied hand on the back of the shambler, finalising his control over it. “Take them all” he says, and the shambler looks down at the terrified sailor, picks him up and opens another dimensional tear, stepping through with his quarry.

With no immediate sign of nightmarish creatures, the party leap into action, Bennett frees Dick from the wall and engages the Purser, the clawed gloves taken from the Ju-Ju House swiping and tearing at the enemy. Waldo fights against one of the sailors, seriously injuring him with one of his many knives, Jim isn’t quite as effective, his gun jamming twice and then failing to hit a single target with six rounds. But then the air takes on that same feeling of static electricity and another dimensional tear opens up, the shambler stepping through minus one sailor.

At this point, Bennett manages a mighty swipe at the Pursers throat, tearing it open and spraying him in blood. As the Purser drops to the floor, the shambler visibly shakes it’s head, the controlling effects leaving it. No longer being directed it dives for the first person it can see, the wounded Waldo Butters. A single swipe of its massive claws tears open Waldo’s chest, and with no one nearby to help, a few moments later he bleeds out.

Jim and one of the sailors both bolt for the door, the sailor managing to barge past the professor and escape. Jim ducks around the side of the door, taking cover and reloading his gun; meanwhile Bennett and Dick hunker down behind one of the smaller boilers, hoping that the monster doesn’t realise that they’re there. The Dimensional Shamber surveys the scene, it’s too hot and noisy here and there’s nothing to eat or fight that it can see; it swings its claws through the air and once again steps through into whatever place it came from.

Slowly the investigators regroup, three bodies lie on the floor, Waldo, the sailor that he injured (and subsequently killed), and the Purser. The final sailor is found cowering in the corner, his mind completely broken by the events that transpired, all attempts to communicate with him are met by a blank, tear streaked stare.

Jim, Dick and Bennett discuss what they should do next and decide that if the Purser was an evil cultist, then there’s a good chance that the Captain is too, best to hide the evidence and deny all knowledge! So slowly and somewhat shell shocked they search the bodies, and throw the corpses into the furnaces. The only things of interest that they found was a small stone tablet covered in Cuneiform, and a book called ‘Cthulhu in the Necronomicon’.

Battered, bloodied and exhausted, the trio head back to the suite to clean up and pack up, ready for their arrival in Portsmouth the next morning. All is not smooth for Jim, as his dreams turn to nightmares about underwater creatures, humanoid fish people that loom out of the dark….

A grey cloudy sky greets our investigators as the Mauritania docks at Portsmouth the next day, Dick is thoroughly unimpressed with the weather but Jim and Bennett are glad to be back in England after over a year in America. After a tense moment with customs, they gather up their luggage and head to the train station, not before introducing the Boston PI to the delights of real fish and chips, and cashing in on their favour with the Count to get tickets to Shanghai for in a couple of week (a clever move as without Harry to fund them anymore, the journey would have been less than comfortable on their current budget).

Our intrepid investigators head to London and then to Bennetts old house, a slightly dishevelled old town house, but it’s home. They drop off their luggage and unneeded equipment and head to the British Museum to see if there’s anyone available to translate the stone tablet that Jim found. They find a Professor Wyatt who takes a rubbing of the tablet and says he’ll try to get something in a couple of days.

True to form, Dick goes to the local pub to attempt to blank out the last few days. Bennett and Jim head home to recover, but Jims dreams are still plagued by images of creatures from the deep….

Monday, 12 June 2017

Masks of Nyarlathotep - Episode 3

Episode 3

22nd Jan 1925
Arkham MA

Although this session was no longer than any others (about 4 hours), there was a lot packed into it!
The morning coffee and bacon is interrupted with a phone call from Prospero Press, Jonah tells them that he was shocked to hear about the death of Jackson and would be willing to pay for their transport to England; however they would have another passenger with them, a young man by the name of Waldo Butters. He worked as a researcher for Jackson and is keen to get to the bottom of this mystery.

The L.E.G take a couple of days to gather supplies and work out what they can bring with them (the gun laws in the UK being much stricter than in the US), Dick elects to leave his gun behind, Jim leaves the more volatile chemicals safe and sound in his lab, and Dr Jerry leaves himself behind (Josh being unable to attend for the foreseeable future).

Early on the morning of the 24th, the party arrive at the New York docks where they meet the gangly frame of Waldo. They make their introductions as they observe the magnificent Mauritania, at nearly 800ft long, it is one of the largest passenger vessels in the world, and certainly the fastest. Its luxury is well known, and Jonah paid for first class accommodation for the four of them, looking forward to a few days of lounging and relaxing, they make their way to the main gangplank.

As they queue up to embark, they notice a scholarly type ahead of them, bumbling around with his books, dropping them as he tries to fish out his boarding pass, he actually manages to make Waldo and Jim look cool! Before they can have a good laugh about the poor professor, they are swept aside by several muscular gentlemen, surrounding a smaller but impeccably dressed man. They barge past everyone in the queue as one of them walks further ahead with a handful of boarding cards. The steward has just enough time to check them when the bodyguards and their charge board the ship without a pause in their stride.

A little perturbed, but still excited, the party board the ship; once on board they meet more stewards and a man in Naval uniform (a successful History check identifies him as the ships Purser aka Head of Security). The stewards direct them to their suite on A Deck, a beautiful large estate room with a large shared lounge area and two en-suite bedrooms with two king sized beds in each.

The ship departs at 11am to cheers from the crowds lining the dock, the ships horn blaring a farewell as they head off towards the horizon. Two hours later Dick hears the call that he’s been waiting for, “We’ve now entered international waters, and the bar is now open”. Dick, Waldo and Jim head to the bar, Bennett takes himself to bed, sea travel not sitting well with him (Rob was unavailable to play).
At the bar they notice the professor, but he runs off looking distinctly unwell before anyone can talk to him. The mysterious rich man sits in the corner, surrounded by his large bodyguards; Dick attempts to approach, but when two of the gentlemen stand and glare at him, he decides that it’s probably best to leave them to it.

Several drinks were had by Dick, less by Jim, and Waldo enjoyed a single bottle of Guinness (not being a big drinker), this life could be easy to get used to! Eventually a steward approaches them and informs them that they have been invited to dine at the Captains table this evening. Caught a bit off guard as they hadn’t planned for a posh meal, Waldo and Jim rent tuxedos from the ships supplier, Dick opting for a clean jacket but still wearing his battered trilby, sporting stains as yet unidentified by science. They are led to the Captains table, and he introduces himself as Captain Timothy Willington-Smythe. The other guests are Lord and Lady Selachi, as well as the mysterious rich man! It turns out that he is a Count, Count Mikhail Androvich, his accent clearly of a Russian origin. He didn’t let on much more than that, but he seemed paranoid, having his food cooked by one of his men instead of the ships cook. Fun was had, as Dick took pleasure in disgusting Lady Selachi with his drinking, gory tales, and well, himself, much to the amusement of Waldo and Jim, even the Captain struggled to keep a giggle inside. As amusing as it was for the Captain, all good things come to an end, as the Purser arrived to tell him that it was time for his shift at the wheel. So with that everyone said their good evenings and went their separate ways, with the investigators heading straight to the casino. Luck was with them that night (again, my rolling was terrible!), and wallets substantially fatter, they retired for the evening.

After a good night’s sleep, the League awake and head out for breakfast, but much to Dicks dismay the bacon is of the British back type, rather than the crispy streaky American style. Grumbling, he joins Waldo and Jim and tucks into his twice cooked bacon and coffee so strong it could bark. While ensuring a lifetime of cholesterol issues, Dick notices a priest being gently but firmly being escorted away from the dining hall, an odd thing to happen to a man of the cloth…

The day carries on without much incident until later in the afternoon, when again Dick sees the same priest being ushered away by one of the stewards. He asks the steward what was up, and discovers that the priest is part of the steerage passengers and isn’t allowed up in First Class. Dicks P.I mind decides that there is something off about this ‘priest’ and tries to follow him, but fairly quickly he is spotted, the priest stopping to look at all the paintings and portraits, walking around from deck to deck until he reached the mid deck lounge, where he sat with a newspaper. Not one to be deterred, Dick went to the bar and got a bottle of chugging whisky, offering a glass to the priest as he sits next to him. The priest doesn’t seem interested in drinking or company and eventually, not looking at Dick, says “Please leave me alone”, in a distinct Russian accent. “Another Russian eh? You friends with the Count?” asked Dick, this seemed to ruffle the feathers of the priest who stormed off.
Happy with this result, Dick continues to follow the Russian, not attempting any stealth, swigging away from the cheap whisky bottle as he walks. The Russian heads down into steerage at quite a pace, and still Dick follows into the large open area of the steerage deck; wooden tables and chairs fill the room, as does the noise of many conversations. Dick could see the priest talking animatedly to two men, who look over at the P.I and start to advance. In a last ditch effort to get to the priest, he quickly accuses him of being a paedophile, an accusation that is ignored by the crowd, but puts a lot of attention on himself! Dick Glover may not be the neatest of chaps, but he is still of a (slightly) higher class than most of the people in the lower deck, and is advised by an increasingly large crowd that leaving might be the best thing to do. Taking the advice on board, Dick (attempting nonchalance) leaves the steerage and heads off to find the rest of the party.

Dick tells Waldo and Jim what he saw, and worried that there may be a threat to the Count, they ask one of the stewards to get a note to him telling him to keep an eye out for the odd priest.
Their second day aboard the Mauritania ended well, with Dick managing to bed a young socialite lady; Jim was not so lucky but at least didn’t end up with a drink in his face.
As they get ready for bed, the ships horn sounds. They assume that it’s just a passing ship and get some sleep.

A slightly overcast day greets the party on the morning of their third day aboard ship, unsurprisingly; Dick has a spring in his step as they head out for breakfast. Jim is engrossed in his food, but Waldo and Dick overhear people complaining that “Some foreign chap has taken over the shuffleboard court, who does he think he is?” Dick and Waldo head outside to see what all the fuss is about, while Jim spots the professor, looking a lot better now. Jim approaches and sees that the professor is reading and taking notes from a book called ‘Nameless Cults’, could the professor be a fellow investigator? Jim introduces himself, and meeting a fellow Professor, Alvin Patterson is happy to talk. He explains that he believes that ‘magic’ is just advanced science, and is more than happy to perform a demonstration in his room at 8 o’clock that evening, something that our professor is intrigued to see.
Meanwhile, Dick and Waldo venture outside and see the Count and his entourage on the shuffleboard court. A steward stands by and tells the investigators that that are welcome to watch, but the Count’s ‘gentlemen’ aren’t very approachable. For once they decide to not cause trouble and sit to one side and watch the world go by. Not long after, Dick notices the priest arguing with a steward, and at the other end of the deck, the priests’ two accomplices also causing trouble with a steward. Sensing that trouble was soon to happen, Dick hunkers down and Waldo follows suit although he’s not quite so sure why.

Gunshots ring out… The steward that was talking to the priest drops to the floor, clutching his chest, as the priest strides towards the Count. Jim has just walked out onto the deck, and seeing the injured steward he runs over to attempt to help, but the point blank shot was fatal. In the meantime the gunshots are firing left and right, the priest pulls out a grenade yelling “Die! Oppressive dog!” and throws it towards the Count. One of his bodyguards spots the danger and quickly kicks the grenade overboard before it goes off.
As the shots continue (my rolls for the bodyguards were shockingly bad), Dick and Waldo decide to help, Dick attempts to hit one of the accomplices with his cosh but misses and dives for cover behind a table. Waldo, having researched into some strange and unusual things, attempts to cast Evil Eye on the priest but it unfortunately doesn’t take hold, so he throws a dagger at one of the accomplices, striking him in the shoulder. The priest takes a bullet to his side and that was enough to down him, his accomplices realise that things are not going well and try to dive overboard to get to the following yacht (none of the players had spotted it). The uninjured one managed to jump the railings and disappeared into the sea, the one that Waldo had hurt wasn’t so lucky as Dick, Waldo and the bodyguards pin him down.

Alerted by the gunfire, the Purser and his men turn up and take the would be assassins away, the unfortunate stewards are taken to the medical bay for storage until the ship reaches Portsmouth.
The Count approaches the three investigators and expresses his gratitude for their help in stopping the assassination attempt. As a thank you he takes them to his suite and treats them to the finest booze and food as he explains what happened. As a Count, he believed that he had a right to the currently vacant Russian throne, so with the help of the Polish government he intended to re-enter Russia and stake his claim (history buffs amongst you will know that this uprising failed badly), and there are those who believe that this is a bad idea. As well as the food and drinks, the Count offers them money or assistance, and in a surprise to me, they turn down the money instead asking for a favour at some point; the Count agrees, but informs them that he will only be in London for a few days before heading out to the mainland.

Time soon slides by and Jim heads off to meet with Professor Alvin, Waldo goes with him (keen to discover more about the world of the Mythos). Dick however decides to go boozing with his new friend, and the two of them and the bodyguards go to the first class lounge and drink the night away.
Alvin welcomes Waldo and Jim into his room where he has prepared for his demonstration. There are cushions on the floor in a rough semi-circle facing one wall, and in the middle of them stands a candle, a copper brazier and something covered by a sheet. Alvin asks them to sit as he explains what he hopes to achieve:

“This procedure or ‘rite’ as the less knowledgeable would call it, allows one to see an image of the past, all one need do is concentrate on what they wanted to see at the appropriate time and all being well, an image will be projected on the wall.”

Utterly intrigued, the duo discusses what it is they’d like to see and eventually decide on the Carlisle Expedition in Kenya, hoping to find out their ultimate fate.
Alvin starts to add things to the brazier, herbs and powders, odd bits and things, all the while muttering to himself and continuing to take notes. After half an hour of prep he announces that it is time, and removes the cloth, revealing a lens the size of a saucer, lights the contents of the brazier and lights the candle; the result being that an image of the smoke is projected onto the wall. Initially there doesn’t seem to be anything untoward, but after another half an hour or so Waldo notices that the image of the smoke is no longer matching up to the actual smoke; he nudges Jim and they watch the image, hoping to get the answers they want.

The projection of the smoke suddenly scatters and swirls, forming what looks like the entrance to a cave or tunnel. The image travels down the corridor and opens into a huge chamber filled with people, the sound of drumming starts to permeate through the investigators heads as on the wall they see the crowd dancing and cheering. The people in the projection are all Asian, this clearly isn’t Kenya, what happened? The image moves over the throngs and up to a grossly obese woman, lording over the people. Her lower half is hidden by a dressing screen and she smiles at the crowd below her; the oriental drumming comes to an end and she calls out:

“I am the Crawling Chaos!” and looking directly at the investigators “And I see you…”

Stunned, the investigators see tentacles rising from behind the screen, and then off the wall! Writhing limbs of smoke lash into the room, Waldo is hit by one but it didn’t seem to physically hurt, however the feeling of terror that slammed into his mind as the tentacle struck was bad enough! Jim launches towards the brazier and kicks it across the room; as his foot comes into contact with it, a multitude of images are forced into his head, hundreds of faces, one after the other like a high speed flick book. A few moments pass and the image on the wall fades, much to everyone’s relief, Alvin however is livid! Screaming and shouting at the two investigators, accusing them of having done something he shoves them out of the room.
Confused and dazed, they head back to their room to attempt to rest, but they’re worried about Alvin, he seemed genuinely scared when the image came to life and Jim agrees to check in on him in the morning.

The next day Jim meets Dick as he staggers back in after another successful evening of drink and debauchery, having a wealthy Count as your wingman certainly helps!
Jim heads over to see how Professor Alvin is doing after last night’s surprising turn of events. He gets to his room and notices that the door is slightly ajar; he knocks and when there is no answer, he draws his pistol and carefully enters. In the middle of the room he sees the professor, hanging by the neck. The note pinned to his shirt states that it was all too much for him:

‘I have seen too much!  My mind leaves me, the things that lurk in the dark madden me. BURN MY BOOKS!’

Reeling slightly at the sight of the suicide, Jim settles himself and deciding that he knows better, gathers up the professors’ books and quietly leaves the room.

Returning to his room, Jim shows Waldo what he found and they settle down to a day of reading and research, Dick spends most of the day in bed nursing a hangover and worn out hips. Early evening comes by and the quiet of the room is interrupted by a muffled cough from outside the room…
Dick, hoping that it is another young lady, opens the door wearing nothing but a dirty grin, and sees a sailor crouched on the floor obviously listening at the door. An awkward moment passes and the sailor bolts down the corridor, Dick gives chase, his nakedness not a concern to him, Waldo follows but soon loses track of where they’ve gone through the maze of corridors and decks.

Dick manages to keep his quarry in sight, going lower and lower through the ship until the sailor dives through a doorway marked ‘Passengers are strictly Prohibited from Entering’. Giving this sign a thoroughly good ignoring he heads down the stairs into the engineering deck. The dark and noise soon disorient the nudist P.I and he decides that leaving is the best course of action, his way however is now blocked by four sailors, all armed with knives. With no weapon or means of protection, a fight was out of the question, going deeper into the boiler room wasn’t an option, so he charged at the sailors with all his might! As he slams himself at men, hoping to break through, they quickly surround him, a sharp pain to the back of his head, and darkness…..

Masks of Nyarlathotep - Episode 2

Episode 2

16th Jan 1925
Harlem, New York

Despite Silas N’Kanwe seeming to be genuine, something was nagging at the investigators from the League of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen, there’s just something not right at the Ju-Ju House. The party decide that a good old fashioned stake out is what they need, so parking a little way down the street, they settle in for the evening.

A few dodgy looks from the locals notwithstanding, the next few hours pass fairly uneventfully, until the investigators notice 2 men walk into the courtyard, then another one, a couple more, a total of 8 men of varying races and social standing have gone into the courtyard and not come out, so shortly after midnight, they decide to have a look.

The curtains covering the window and door hide any chance of being able to see in, but all seems quiet, so far…

Dick pulls out his lock picks (ever the sneaky git), and easily unlocks the door. They enter the shop but there’s no sign of the men or Silas. Searching around, they found a ledger, but it was all initials and codes, nothing that they could decipher; Jim was disappointed to discover that the till was empty.
They knew that the guests had to have gone somewhere, so they start searching the floor and find a trap door. It lead down to a concrete tunnel, lit by a few bare bulbs, a faint noise could be heard from further down, possibly drumming? Harry and Dick take the lead, with Bennett not far behind and Jerry and Jim keeping watch in the shop.

As Harry, Dick and Bennett work their way down the corridor, the drumming gets louder, a distinct tribal beat that as they got closer was accompanied by mens voices whooping and shouting with the music. In an unusual show of common sense, Dick tries to look through the keyhole before opening the door, but couldn’t make out much more than movement on the other side.

Eight people, they decide, is a bit too many to try and take on, especially not knowing what was on the other side, so the investigators return to the car to continue the stake out.

A couple of hours pass when they notice people leaving the courtyard, but they couldn’t make out how many had left. Determined to get answers they return to the Ju-Ju House, Jim staying behind to look after the car (because Ryan wasn’t available to play). Dick having once beaten the lock to the shop, unlocks the door with ease. They open the trap door and hear…. Nothing, just silence coming from the dark tunnel, not that that made the decision to go down any better! They reach the door at the end and could see light coming from the room, but no sound, no sense of movement, so quietly and carefully they enter.

The room itself was no more than 30ft across, bare stone with niches for torches, drums lined up against the left hand wall. In front of them, a heavy dark curtain hangs against the far wall, but the two streaks of blood that lead from the wall on either side of the curtain, across the floor, and over to a covered well, catch their attention. Harry and Jerry head to the well to see what has gone on there, in the meantime, Dick is checking around the drums for clues, and Bennett opens the curtain to see what he can see.

What Bennett saw will stick with him for time to come, the man dressed in some sort of tribal, ceremonial garb was a surprise, but the four zombies was a damn shock! The priest smiles and gestures towards the investigators, the zombies shamble forward, arms raised and moaning... Not the first time that the League have dealt with the alternatively alive, their sanity wasn’t heavily affected, and defensive positions were taken up with Dick to the left, Jerry on the right and Harry and Bennett in the middle towards the door.

The party manage to separate the zombies so they have one each to deal with, the priest having not made a move so far. Though the zombies were slow, the damage dealt to them didn’t seem to have the desired effect, blasting out half a ribcage with a shotgun, it keeps on going, most of its face blown off, it doesn’t stagger, but eventually there’s only so much that even the undead can take, and two of them lay in a messy heap on the floor. The tribal priest enters the fray, swiping at Jerrys back with clawed gloves make from tigers paws, but his attempts to tear open the doctor fail (my rolling was horrendous!). Dodging past his zombie, Dick runs towards the priest and swings at him with his cosh, cracking the cultist round the head, but unfortunately not knocking him out. Furious, the priest turns to look at Dick, and with an evil scowl he points at him; waves of terror slam through the P.I’s mind as the evil magic takes hold. Dick runs screaming into the corner of the room, unable to do anything other than shake and whimper.

With the last zombie dispatched, Bennetts attention is fully on the tribal priest, his intention was to merely wound the man so they could question him later, but ended up blowing his chest open (Hard pass to hit vs a Fail to dodge and max damage rolled).

Hurt, bloodied and frankly confused, the investigators survey the carnage that lay around them, blood and chunks of flesh coating almost every surface. Bennett went back to the alcove that the priest and his zombies had been hiding in and found a copper bowl, a short staff and a wooden mask, along with the missing book from Harvard University, all of which he hurriedly shoved into his bag for inspection later, along with the clawed gloves.

Jerry and Harry go back to the covered well, and after a couple of attempts, manage to lift the stone slab that covered it. The wailing started immediately, multiple voices, all crying out at the same time, but the voices weren’t attached to people, but a roiling, misshapen being at the bottom of the well.  As face after face rose to the surface of the oily black blob, the stone slab slammed down with a thud and a shout from both Harry and Jerry of “Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope!” as they dived back.
Dick was now coming to his senses and the four investigators left, not before throwing a couple of Molotov cocktails through the door, and ran up the stairs and out of the shop. The sight of two men covered in blood and gore sprinting down the road, followed by another man, equally messy, nonchalantly strolling along, and finally the mustachio’d Harry trying his best to be sneaky but failing miserably, must have been quite a sight!

Realising that attempting to stroll into a five star hotel covered in blood and bits of zombie would probably cause a little bit of a stir, they decide to take a detour past Central Park, utilising one of the ponds for a quick bath, terrifying a poor homeless man in the process! So soaking wet, they stride back into their hotel and acting as if nothing was untoward, stroll past the night porter and retire to the suite.

Bennett passes out the odd items that he picked up from the alcove, the copper bowl seems to have some sort of mythos attachment, but no one could identify in what way. The staff however was carved with Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Bennett was able to discern that it said 'Nyambe, Thy Power Mine'. As he says it out loud, a warm feeling spreads up his arm and gently fades. The feeling was quite pleasant, but as to what it meant, he is unaware. Dick has a quick skim through ‘Dark African Sects’, and spots the symbol that was carved on Jacksons head, The Cult of the Bloody Tongue, a name at last!

Harry turns the mask over in his hands, something isn’t right with it, it’s lighter than it should be for its size, but as hard as rock, this is no wood that he’s ever come across, but he’s no botanist. Doing what anyone in his position would do, he placed the mask on his face, and screamed… The mask latched onto his face, Harry desperately clawed at it as the eye holes opened wider, forcing his eyes to stare out. Harry’s pupils expand wide and his arms drop to his side. As far as the other investigators are concerned, only a couple of seconds pass before the mask falls away, but for Harry it was so much more. He saw himself floating up, through the ceiling, up above the hotel, ever higher, New York stretches out below him as he carries on up, the Eastern Seaboard, North America, the Western Hemisphere, eventually the whole planet falls away as Harry speeds out into the deepest of space. Soon the Solar System is dwindling away, further, deeper into space, out of the Milky Way and ever onward. Time becomes meaningless as the journey continues, until after what could have been aeons, there seems to be a surface, smooth and shiny like the inside of a bubble, and on this surface are images of Harrys life, every memory he’s ever had, laid out for inspection. As Harry stares, each memory shatters and fades, and through the now clear surface, he sees more bubbles, each containing other people, other creatures, other worlds, all of them connected to something, huge beyond understanding, but somehow connected to everything, everywhere. Harry floats further away, away from everything that ever has been or ever will be until he is alone, utterly and unendingly alone.
As the mask falls away from Harrys face, he drops to the floor, unmoving and silent (his mind having been turned to porridge after witnessing Yog-Sosoth, losing 100SAN will do that to you!), his friends try to get him to come to, but with no avail. They keep an eye on him over night, but by morning there’s no change. Doctor Jerry takes him to the local hospital with the intention of having him transferred to the asylum in Arkham after he has been assessed.

With a heavy heart, the rest of the party head back to Arkham, but first they go to Harvard to return the book and find somewhere secure to lock away the mask and copper bowl, Bennett is intrigued by the staff and keeps hold of it.

Back at the headquarters of the League of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen, the party discuss their next move, eventually they decide to retrace Jacksons steps, and as London was the last place he was seen, that’s where they should go.

Masks of Nyarlathotep - Episode 1

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal.

Having played a couple of Call of Cthulhu one shots (The Haunting and Amidst the Ancient Trees), I felt that my Investigators were ready to take on something bigger, so using their characters from the previous adventures:

Sir Harry K Dresden Esq – Andy
Bennett Booth – Rob
Dr Krieger ‘Jerry’ Wirbelsaulenbrecher - Josh
Prof Jim Moriarty – Ryan
Dick Glover P.I. - Kiwi
We set out to tackle The Masks of Nyarlathotep.

Taking advice from the Companion book, I started off introducing the party to Jackson Elias by the short scenario, The God of Mitnal. They all embraced him as a friend and looked forward to more time with him, how disappointed they’ll be….
(I didn’t decide to write up this journal until Episode 4, so the details of the first 3 episodes may be a little vague)

Episode 1
Jan 10th 1925
Arkham MA
The League of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen have had a slow year, after their adventures with Walter Corbett and their introduction to the power of an Elder God (Gla’aki), the only real excitement they had was assisting their long-time friend, Jackson Elias, in Mexico. Even that turned out to not be anything mystical, just a gun runner called Walter Kimble (who unfortunately escaped into the jungle).
Months have passed since their time in the jungle, when a telegram arrives at the L.E.G office. It is from Jackson, who says that he has information about the Carlisle Expedition and he’ll be in New York in a few days. This sudden message gets the party very excited, remembering the shenanigans they had with Jackson; Harry is packed and ready to go in a flash!

They have a few days to kill before heading off, so they go to the library to look into the Carlisle Expedition. They find plenty of information, Robert Carlisle (a New York playboy), had decided to up sticks with a group of companions and explore Africa. The expedition ended in tragedy in Kenya when they and their guides were brutally murdered (although the bodies of the white members were never found).
Once suitably stocked up on supplies (a cosh for Dick, a couple of Molotov cocktails for Jim, he’s going to be trouble!), the party head off to New York, checking into a rather fancy hotel (thanks to Harrys personal wealth) they contact Jonah Kensington of Prospero Press (Jacksons publishing house) and let him know where they are staying. Now the long wait, hours pass slowly and painfully, until finally the phone rings! Harry leaps over the bed and snatches the phone in excitement, practically frothing with zeal! Jackson tells the party to meet him that evening at his hotel; he seems uncharacteristically shaken and hangs up when pressed for more information, which worries the party as they had previously seen Jackson as a nonchalant and unflappable kind of guy.

Worried that their friend could be in trouble, they arrive at Jacksons hotel early and head straight to his room. Knocking, there’s no answer, but a successful Listen reveals that there is movement in the room. Immediately Harry and Bennett charge the door, destroying the lock and sending the door flying open. The scene that greets them is one of carnage, Jackson lays on the bed, blood covering him, the bed, the wall, his intestines spilling out onto the floral sheets. Next to him stood three men in robes, each wearing an odd headdress that came down into a long red strip that hung in front of the face, curved ceremonial knives still dripping crimson, clutched in their hands.
Without a second thought, the party drew weapons and opened fire at the cultists, instantly wounding one of them who dropped to the floor, clutching his bleeding arm. The other two started out of the open window, but Dick soon closed the gap and set out onto the fire escape. As Dick placed his foot on the old rickety frame, the creaking and groaning of old metal stopped him, four floors is a long way to fall (having previously been pushed out of a window at the Corbett house, heights are becoming an issue) and the cultists were almost at the ground. He decided that safety would win this time and climbed back in.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party had trussed up the injured cultist using a lamp cord, and begun their search of the room. Jackson’s corpse was upsetting to see, but they steeled themselves and checked him over. They took a sketch of an odd symbol that had been carved into his forehead, and checked his pockets. They found a book of matches from a bar in Shanghai, a business card for an import/export company with the name Silas N’Kanwe on the back, a letter from a lady from Harvard University regarding a book he wanted, and a letter from a man in Cairo referencing artefacts of interest. Their captive gave nothing away, even after having several fingers broken by Bennett, in the end they decide that it would probably be a good idea to call the police and report the murder of Jackson Elias.

The police quickly arrive and take away the captured cultist, and after interviewing the group, leave satisfied that they were innocent (although the state of the cultists’ fingers did raise an eyebrow).
The L.E.G head back to their hotel to try and make sense of what had happened:
Jackson was scared.
He was killed by cultist types.
It’s got something to do with the Carlisle Expedition.
Why was he in Shanghai?
Who is Silas?
Too much to take in in one go, they decide to sleep on it and see what the next day brings them.

The next day the party call Harvard University to speak to the lady; she explains that there was a book called ‘Dark African Sects’ that Jackson wanted, but it disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Intrigued, they head to Emmerson Imports in the hopes of finding a lead, the death of their friend will be avenged! They meet with Arthur Emmerson who remembers Jackson and expresses his condolences at his death. They ask if Silas N’Kanwe is a name he recognises and Arthur supplies the name of a shop in Harlem, the Ju-Ju House, suppliers of African souvenirs and knick-knacks.
 Pleased to have a lead, they head straight there, standing out somewhat being a group of well-dressed white guys in the middle of Harlem, but they find the Ju-Ju House tucked away in a little courtyard without any difficulties. The shop is small, with shelves on either side and a row through the middle, all covered with numerous African items, masks, instruments, fly swatters, statuettes, but nothing that really leaps out as unusual. Behind the desk stands a smiling old black man, in his early 60s, who introduces himself as Silas. Dick starts the questioning, asking about his link to Jackson, but Silas seems unaware of who this man is or was.

The investigators leave, frustrated and angry, why would Jackson have Silas’s name on a card?
Perhaps a stake out is in order….