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…..



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