Whispers of Harlem (Scenario)

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Details

Kickstarter edition cover

Pages:

  • (Kickstarter exclusive ed.) 35
  • (2nd ed.) 31

Author: Chris Spivey

Artists: Alex Mayo, Brennen Reece, Jabari Weathers

Editor(s):

Setting: Harlem, New York, November 1928

Appears in:

Summary

Hollywood screenwriter Charles "Flip" Wilmore has organized a stellar lineup at the Dark Tower, with some of Harlem's finest artistic, literary, and musical talent set to appear. However, Wilmore's also made enemies among Harlem's underworld, and tensions are high when a police detective crashes the evening to investigate a murder of a Harlem-based gangster. Then things start to get weird as Wilmore's place on the playbill grows closer…

Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.

Synopsis

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)
The investigators find themselves at the Dark Tower for a showcase of some of Harlem's brightest talents, either as stagehands, as performers themselves, or as part of a larger investigation into the murder of a criminal named James Reece. The event has been organized by Harlem native and Hollywood screenwriter Charles "Flip" Wilmore, who has talked his old friend, A'Lelia Walker, into hosting. Depending on how they arrive at the Dark Tower, the investigators may have some notion that Reece was killed as part of a fight over possession of a mysterious book, The Book of Azathoth, which is now in the possession of Wilmore.

Once the evening gets underway, the a police detective interrupts to look into the murder. Meanwhile, people begin hearing strange whispers from the hallways. Looking into these sounds, the investigators may find themselves stepping through doorways that lead back in time, to various points in Harlem's past. When Wilmore takes the stage, the entire venue gets stuck in a warped spacetime, as a Hound of Tindalos begins stalking the crowd. The investigators must stop Wilmore from casting his spell—which he hopes will allow him to go back in time before his Hollywood writing partner pushed him out. They must convince Wilmore to help them undo the spell he has cast, but this entails another ritual to summon the Baron in Blues, an avatar of Azathoth. The Baron then offers a choice: travel back to the real world, an alternate world that is better than the real, but where many people are dead, or travel to the court of Azathoth himself to join his idiot flautists.


References

Player Handouts:

  • Recruitment Call
  • Walker’s Brunch Invitation
  • Working Request Letter
  • St. Clair’s Calling Card
  • Dark Tower Flyer
  • Zora's Letter
  • Evening Edition (newspaper)
  • Playbill

Locations:

  • Abyssinian Baptist Church
  • The Dark Tower
  • Displaced Tower of the Doomed
  • Hobby Horse
  • Mount Morris Park
  • Police Station
  • Queenie’s Lair
  • Reece’s Rowhouse

Creatures:

Organizations

  • TBD

Spells

Tomes

Comments

Keeper Comments

The scenario offers several paths in to permit different types of investigators to participate. For instance, blue-collar workers may be hired as staff at the Dark Tower; literary, artistic, and musical types can be part of the performer lineup; and criminals can be sent by the crime lord Queenie St. Claire to find out who killed her man, James Reece. The introduction suggests that once the Keeper settles on a single path in, they can streamline the investigation by trimming extraneous NPCs from the scenario. In a similar vein, the scenario can more easily fit into a single session if the Keeper starts the events at the Dark Tower rather than roleplaying how the investigators got there.

As written, Wilmore's time-altering spell doesn't start taking effect until late in the evening. However, the Keeper can easily move the weirdness earlier in the scenario, perhaps by having performers, guests, or staff of the Dark Tower disappear mysteriously. In searching for these lost people, the investigators may find themselves traveling through time to various points in Harlem's past, where they have to rescue the people who have gone missing. (The scenario has one such encounter, but it assumes the investigators rescue a woman from her own time and potentially pull her forward into the future.) Then, when Wilmore casts his spell more fully, the scenario can be run as written, with the Dark Tower shifted into a warped spacetime.

Another possibility to add tension to the scenario is to have Wilmore's nemesis, Gault, be present at the Dark Tower. As written, Gault is in Hollywood and doesn't play much role in the events except to stoke Wilmore's desire for revenge. Bringing him to Harlem (and perhaps turning Wilmore and Gault into playwrights rather than filmmakers) might open the door for more open conflict between Wilmore and his one-time partner.