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)
Jan 10th 1925
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….