Masks of Nyarlathotep: New York Chapter, Pt. 1
by, 22nd July 2010 at 01:47 PM (762 Views)
January 15, 1925 – New York Chapter
Gams received the call from Jackson Elias, asking her to meet him at the Chelsea Hotel that evening. Apparently she was too excited to concentrate, because she failed to notice the tension and fear in her love’s voice. She agreed to bring the team she’d assembled to the hotel to meet him as well.
She met with the team for dinner, giving them a briefing on what he had said, and the group adjourned to the hotel. They traveled to the hotel in three groups: Sheba and Joe went in her Bugatti two-seater, Drs. Bedlam and Riley went in Bedlam’s car, and Black went alone by motorcycle; interestingly, Black made a quick detour to his apartment because he had forgotten to bring his dynamite to the meeting (yes, he was THAT CRAZY).
Arriving at the hotel, the group found that Elias didn’t answer his door. They waited only a very few minutes before heading up to his room, and there they peeked under the door to see multiple shadows moving, and heard muffled sounds. The door yielded to a kick, revealing three cultists and a very slaughtered Elias, and combat began. Riley and Joe both went down to pranga strikes (taken to unconsciousness) while Bedlam sprinted down the hall “to call for help,” thus leaving Gams to face three cultists alone. She proved up to the task, knifing two of them to death. The third attempted to flee out the window and down the fire escape, but Black had arrived in the alley below on his motorcycle and, seeing a black man climbing out the window carrying a bloody machete and wearing a cult mask, shot the fellow on principle.
Black raced upstairs, and the three conscious party members gathered up the evidence before the police arrived. Black made a snarky comment about Elias – a comment which Gams didn’t appreciate; she replied by throwing a knife at a spot directly between his eyes. Fortunately for Black – and, as it eventuated, perhaps unfortunately for the party as a whole – Gams’ critical success at the attack was countered by Black’s critical success in dodging it, and Black lived to see another day. Martin Poole arrived shortly thereafter, and the party gave the detective enough of a story to get them away, albeit under some suspicion.
The next day, the investigation proper began. Dr. Riley had regained consciousness and felt well enough to write a letter to Edward Gavigan (with whom he was slightly acquainted, given his previous work with the Foundation) asking him what he knew about Elias and the cult symbol. This letter, dispatched by Transatlantic steamer, would take some time to reach its intended recipient and be replied to. In addition, he called Miriam Atwright and had a brief conversation, ascertaining that the Harvard copy of Africa’s Dark Sects had vanished. Also, he called Miskatonic to speak with Anthony Cowles, but Cowles had left for the weekend.
Bedlam, Black,and Gams began to track down the other leads, including traveling to Emerson Imports and discovering the connection to the Ju-Ju House. Their first trip to the Ju-Ju House was inconclusive; the group came to believe that Silas N’Kwane was lying to them, but given that there were multiple witnesses, they could take no action. They then went to Chinatown, thinking that the Stumbling Tiger Bar might be there; they learned nothing of the bar, but they did show the photograph of the Dark Mistress to a soup vendor and learned that it showed his home town, Shanghai.
On Sunday they went to the Ju-Ju House again to brace N’Kwane, but found that the store was closed. They then chatted with the neighbors, including a very old woman whose apartment backed onto the Ju-Ju House, and learned of the strange sounds she overheard from time to time.
The next Monday (January 19) was Jackson’s funeral, where the group met Jonah Kensington and arranged dinner for later in the week. After that, the three non-hospitalized members of the party (Black, Gams, and Bedlam) went to the Ju-Ju House to brace N’Kwane. Finding no customers in the shop (a lucky roll) began to interrogate the old man, and rather roughly at that. N’Kwane, of course, maintained his innocence, and that was when they decided to try torture. Silas did his best to escape, but he was grappled by Bedlam. Black then attempted to immobilize the old African by shooting him in the foot, and one botched roll later, put a bullet in Bedlam’s ass. Silas broke for the door and ran outside, and Black followed and shot him dead in the alley, then dragged his corpse back inside. I determined that this was witnessed by the cultists who watched the store constantly, and that they would assemble a group to kill the invaders – but that would take time. I also determined that nobody who heard the shots would call the police, given that the sounds were coming from a place of known danger, most of the witnesses were cultists, and the rest of the witnesses wouldn’t want to get involved. Bedlam, bleeding from a butt wound, punched Black in the face and then was assisted to the car by Gams. Black, meanwhile, decided to see where the trapdoor in the floor led, and went off for a solo exploration; the first thing he did in the basement was open the alcove, see the zombies, and come down with a bad case of suicidal mania, whereupon he produced his dynamite and reduced the Ju-Ju House a smoking crater. Gams and Bedlam were just getting into her car at the end of the alley when the blast occurred, and they raced off – after, of course, being seen by many more witnesses.
At this point, I decided three things:
1. The police certainly had enough information from witnesses to identify Bedlam (by his English accent) and Gams (by her legginess and her car) as being in the Ju-Ju House the previous Friday and fleeing from the scene after the explosion.
2. The cult had enough contacts inside the NYPD to ferret out anything the police knew, but it would take time – I rolled randomly for the date they would find out and take action against the group.
3. Nyarlathotep couldn’t have cared less about the deaths of any number of New York cultists, but he was slightly peeved about the destruction of the Mask of Hyama and the copper bowl, so he would inconvenience the investigators in a humorous (to him) manner at a later date.
The next day, Dr. Bedlam was visited by Lt. Poole, who had put two and two together, and who cordially threatened to deport him if Bedlam interfered in his investigation again. I figured that Gams’ family would mean that he couldn’t threaten her as easily as a foreigner, after all.
Needing additional muscle now that Black had been reduced to a fine red mist and buried under a pile of rubble, Gams went to an acquaintance owner of a pool hall, a hulking figure named Tony “Tiny” Deciani (in reality Tom White, undercover member of the Bureau of Investigation (not yet Federal) who was investigating the mob) and asked him to provide security for her. She implied that something big was afoot, and, sensing an “in” to the mob family, Tiny agreed. Those two and Bedlam met for dinner with Kensington, who provided all the prescribed leads and information, as well as the tidbit that Elias was in love with Gams and planning to retire after his current book in order to marry her.
Meanwhile, Riley received a call back from Anthony Cowles, who invited him up to Miskatonic to chat when he was feeling better.
The group began to chase down other leads, including looking into the background of the Carlyle expedition members. Gams contacted the gossip columnist for the Pillar/Riposte, a chatterbox named Rita Jenkins, who filled her in on many of the details and, for a retainer, promised to be of future service. She also spoke to Olivia de Bernadesta, whom I played as a breathy Italian abstract artist who wanted to make a sculpture of Gams’ gams and who invited Gams to a Roaring 20s-style sex party (which invitation was politely declined). A visit to Brad Grey’s office netted an invitation to see Erica Carlyle when it was implied that Roger was still alive. The visit was scheduled for late afternoon on the same day that the cult would learn the identity of the persons who detonated the Ju-Ju House.
By that time, the incapacitated duo had recovered enough to be released from the hospital (Riley completely healed, Joe mostly so). Joe took the opportunity to visit the site of crater formerly answering to the name Ju-Ju House with some flowers for his friend Black, and when he arrived, workers were just finishing digging out the basement. As it happened, they picked that moment to move the stone covering the Chakota pit, and horrifying wailing ensued. Most of the workers and police on-site fled, but Joe braved the unnatural wailing to go into the basement and move the stone back atop the pit. He escaped without physical injury, though a roll on the Short-Term Temporary Insanity Table showed he did develop the utter conviction that, like the pit, all things should be tightly lidded.
Riley and Bedlam took the train to Arkham to visit Cowles, and they found him gregarious and modestly informative. In addition, they found that his daughter Ewa was gorgeous and a bit flirtatious, especially with Bedlam. Being at Miskatonic, they parlayed a critical success on a Fast Talk roll into a chance to view the Necronomicon; Riley spoke no Latin and was therefore safe, but Bedlam’s perusal of the dread tome left his mind wide open and his eyes tightly shut, as a roll on the Short-Term Temporary Insanity Table gave him hysterical blindness. With great compassion, Riley dropped him off at the hotel and went back to the library to continue his research (he contemplated pursuing Ewa now that his competition was out of the way, but decided it would be unchivalrous).
The next day was the day for the meeting with Erica Carlyle – and the day that the cult discovered the identity of the people who blew up the Ju-Ju House. A blizzard was blowing in as Riley and Bedlam raced south, hoping to meet Gams in time to attend the meeting with Erica Carlyle, but weather and a flat tire delayed them. Joe was very involved with making sure everything in his apartment that could be lidded, was lidded, and so that left Gams and Tiny to go to Erica’s magnificent mansion in Westchester.
The pair did not make a good impression. They did manage to discover the safe and open it before Erica arrived in the library, but the books were far too large and bulky to conceal. Gams in particular impressed Erica negatively, and when Erica blithely denied the existence of the books at all (she disliked having demands made upon her by rude strangers in her own home), Gams raced for the safe and attempted to take the books by main force. The household staff was summoned and ejected Gams and Tiny in no uncertain way, without the books and with the definite order never to return. As they were leaving the ground, they encountered Riley and Bedlam (who was still blind), who had tried to reach the estate in time for the meeting.
As they made their way back to the city in two cars, a blizzard set in and rendered visibility almost nil and driving quite difficult. They managed to reach the nearest town and settled in for dinner and a debrief, and it was decided that Gams would drive them all, as she was the best driver, and as she had exchanged her blood-spattered two-seater Bugatti for a capacious Packard sedan. Night fell when they were on the road to the City – where Mkunga was just summoning a hunting horror to track them down.
The hunting horror struck on a lonely stretch of county two-lane, and it struck hard. It slammed into the car with enough force that Gams almost lost control, and then it ripped the roof off like a sword through a tin can. The players concluded, not illogically, that this creature was sicced upon them by Erica Carlyle, and in a fit of rage they turned around and headed back toward her mansion, intending to drop it off on her doorstep. As the hunting horror swooped, Riley was attacked. The bite missed, and the tail hit; grappled, he was swept up into the dark, snowy skies, his scream fading as the car plunged on. Gams finally missed a driving roll as they were hurtling through the little town where they’d had dinner (perhaps she was distracted by Riley’s body, which was dropped with a splat to the sidewalk as they were driving past) and the car careened through the front of a hardware store – the second car she’d ruined in a week. Locals came running, bringing with them far too much light for the hunting horror’s tastes, and as the abomination vanished from whence it came, the surviving party members were distributed to locals’ houses for a good night’s sleep.
The next day the sheriff tried to find out just what had happened, and Gams unfortunately elected to tell the truth. She just managed to avoid a trip to the restful hospital with the nice men in white as she as the remaining party members piled into the car they’d left in the town the night before and raced home. Gams dropped off the others, but when she arrived home she spotted an ominous looking black man loafing in front of her apartment (Mkunga come to check on the results of his handiwork, though she had no way of knowing it). The man sped off before she could investigate, but she was sufficiently spooked to have Tiny move into her apartment to be a 24/7 bodyguard.