In a randomly generated scenario, the player characters are sent to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Laundry officer Harry Palmer, who was investigating equally mysterious disappearances at Paradise Mansions housing estate in Hackney Wick. Interviewing his line manager, they discover that there may be a connection to several wild parties held in flat 3b. They search Palmer's properly warded Shoreditch apartment and find that Mr Palmer was a bon-viveur and has ladies' underwear stuffed down the back of his sofa.
The agents arrive at "Hackney Wick, twinned with Mogadishu". Paradise Mansions does not quite live up to its name. They already knew there was a drug problem, but did not expect the level of deprivation and vandalism that confronts them. The security door is understandably unlocked and the lift serves as a makeshift toilet. They find flat 3b and the occupant Ronnie gives them a flyer for tonight's party. Sorted.
Feanella McKay spends the rest of the day resting before the all-nighter, but new agent Freddy Drake decides to stake out the housing estate. He is approached by a gang of homophobic youths who take exception to the rainbow trainers he is wearing. Time for a sharp exit; time for a sharp half in the nearest pub.
That evening, both agents go to the party. They are among the first guests. In addition to Ronnie there are a French couple called Martin and Liliane.
"Where about in France are you from?"
"Never heard of it."
"Is there anyone good-looking like Maggie Smith?"
"Now that's a phrase I never expected to hear!"
Little do the agents know, but Martin and Liliane are Masters of the Société Saint Crapaud (see Cultists Under the Bed page 117). Ronnie is a Body. The player characters are Lambs. As the party heats up, the action seems to focus on the bedroom. A surreptitious visit to the toilet and a level 1 Scrying on a Necronomiphone reveals no thaumic energy, as the cult is magic-poor. Feanella is taken to the bedroom and shown a big black dildo; she agrees to take one for the team. Freddy is unwilling to participate and looks like he is about to become a Lamb to the slaughter after he is injected from behind my a hypodermic syringe.
Only an emergency call to the Metropolitan Police saves the day and our brave investigators. Another emergency call to the Baggers proves to be a waste of departmental resources, as there is nothing really nasty for them to bag. N.B. According to the agents' field reports, it was actually Feanella who "saved Freddy's ass".
Most of the cultists are rounded up, but Martin and Liliane escape the country. Ronnie is interrogated under a level 3 Truth Geas after spending a week recovering from an initial rough encounter with trigger-happy Feanella ("Why did you shoot off his foot, Agent McKay?") and spills what he knows about the cult, which isn't all that much. He doesn't know where Averoigne is, but the big cheese appears to be an aloof Italian by the name of Reggio Salvati. Ronnie and Reggi in the same firm?!
The agents research Averoigne and uncover a medieval map, but it doesn't tell them the modern location. However, the Abbaye Saint Crapaud may be the same abbey near Tours that revolutionaries made a point of destroying in 1789; it certainly does not look welcoming...
They fill in the requisite forms and get the Eurostar to Paris (retaining their ticket stubs for Accounts). A Laundry asset in Paris provides them with a concealed bulletproof vest and Beretta each, but no banishment rounds. They get the train to Tours, where they hire an off-road vehicle. Feanella is pessimistic about the chances of finding Harry Palmer alive, so has Residual Human Resources on speed-dial. Being dead is no excuse for shirking one's duties as a Laundry operative; in fact Mr Palmer may make a more efficient employee after his death, as he will no longer be throwing any sickies.
They drive north west from Tours and, after much searching, Feanella finds the ruined abbey. Both agents approach, but only Feanella hears the chanting of "Ia! Tsathoggua!" Nearing the ruins, Feanella spots a group of cloaked figures surrounding the bound form of Harry Palmer, who is not only alive but pi**ed off. Feanella opens her laptop and casts a level 3 Banishment, but the cultists carry on chanting. Feanella shoots half of them, getting at least one Impale. Freddy takes careful aim with his Beretta and - his gun jams! It is up to Feanella to finish them off. Two of the deceased cultists are identified as Martin and Liliane; Reggio Salvati is not among the dead. Harry is given some clothing and whisked back to London for a stern meeting with his line manager.
Criminal activities: YES
Unusual behaviour: DEFINITELY
Both agents are sent on training courses; Freddy chooses COWE1 and Esoteric History 1. Amazingly, neither his Occult or his pitifully low Handgun Attack go up.
Feanella chooses Occulinux Installation & Use. Her Computer Maintenance goes up, but not her Computer Use (Magic). "I rolled for them the wrong way round, didn't I?" "Yes, you did."
The team are introduced to Nâ€™s colleague C. C is dressed in a conservative business suit and looks like a civil servant. â€“ I do try to look unimpressive. â€“ Congratulations. Youâ€™ve succeeded. â€“ So youâ€™re the head of Section D, but youâ€™re called C? â€“ Yes, itâ€™s to confuse the enemy. â€“ Theyâ€™re not the only ones.
â€“ Jeeves, can you speak French? â€“ I am from Rennes, sir. I can speak French like a native.
Csilla and Benjamin try and fail to pick the lock on the door to the church in Krupna. Jeeves has a go and succeeds.
â€“ Would you like me to mix you a cocktail now, sir? â€“ Yes. This would be the right moment. When weâ€™re ransacking the church. â€“ Weâ€™re going into the crypt, sir? â€“ Yes, Jeeves. â€“ Where they always keep the monsters? â€“ Thatâ€™s right.
â€“ Csilla: you dress up as a nun. Iâ€™ll dress as a priest. Jeeves can dress as an altar boy. â€“ Not again!
The player characters discover that their doubles are the 'real' them. "Weâ€™re not us!"
Sanity checks are called for. Csilla is shocked. Benjamin is beside himself, if youâ€™ll pardon the pun.
The team barge into Doctor Magnussenâ€™s underground office. She is taken aback. "Who are you?" she demands.
Benjamin rolls his eyes. "Come on, you cloned us. You know who we are. What kind of mad scientist are you?"
The Keeper points out that the mission is to bring Doctor Magnussen back to Britain.
"I always thought that part of the plan was optional."
They find the nu-flesh tank and work out that the strange substance has no harmful effects on them.
"Iâ€™m going to fill a bucket and pour the red goo all over me." "And walk around with the bucket on your head?" "Why did you create us? And why is he prettier than me?" "Are we indestructible?" "No." "Sh**!"
The team ask Doctor Magnussen the source of her ground-breaking biochemical knowledge. She tells them about her 'overseas colleagues'.
"They donâ€™t really have human, sorry, Norwegian names."
"I've had a busy night." "You've had a busy night?!" "Yeah: I had to shoot a concierge." "Well, I had to show my boobs to a creepy old guy in the hospital to get a pass."
The two player characters have difficulty in pronouncing the name of their French Resistance contact Yves. First they call him Eeves, then Jeeves. "You rang, my Lord?" "Yes, Jeeves. We need someone who can read Arabic." "Naturally, sir. We get a lot of call for that in the Breton countryside." "Good, Jeeves. I knew we could count on you." "We'll just go off and do something recruity to maintain our covers." "No, I'll just tell Jeeves that's what we're doing."
"Gottfried, should we go to the Gestapo Headquarters?" "Not on a first date."
"Jeeves, you know I asked you to find someone who can speak Arabic?" "If I may be so bold, sir, I fancy that the ability to read Arabic would be more useful for translating a tome written in that particular abjadic script." "Well, forget about it. Now we need you to find somebody who can read Jewish." "I believe you mean Hebrew, sir."
"All I want to do is help out at the Gestapo Headquarters." "What, like an internship?" "No, I didn't mean that."
"You don't have to address me as OberlandefÃ¼hrermeister. Major will do." "I've drugged the Kommandant. He's in my bed naked. Can you take him home?" "What â€“ on the back of my bicycle?"
"I've got something to tell you." "In a minute. I've had a disturbing dream." "Now I know why we're getting divorced."
â€“ You can take any reasonable item. Except one.
â€“ A Hand of Glory?
â€“ Oh. Except that one as well.
â€“ Make a Hide roll.
â€“ OK. You're hiding successfully behind a gaping hole in reality.
â€“ Now you don't get to say that every day.
â€“ KNIGHT ONE to DRAGON BASE: Request immediate evac. PRINCESS ONE and PRINCESS TWO retrieved safely. PRINCESS THREE has gone native. Repeat gone native. Cross-fertilized with the Bloody Tongue!
â€“ Youâ€™ve heard the phrase â€œfootloose and fancy freeâ€? Well, weâ€™ve shot your foot off and your fancyâ€™s going next.
â€“ Sorry: thatâ€™s what we call the Death Trap Chamber.
â€“ Youâ€™re a bit too cocky, but you wonâ€™t be if you carry on like that.
â€“ Whatâ€™s in the cave?
â€“ Itâ€™s virtually deserted.
â€“ You mean thereâ€™s someone in it?
â€“ Er, yes.
â€“ Iâ€™m so close to killing this guy.
â€“ Can you give us a description of the inhabitant of the cave? Does he have a television aerial on his head?
â€“ No, he has a glass bowl on his head. We call him The Professor.
â€“ And what is his role?
â€“ Heâ€™s one of the brains of the operation.
â€“ Itâ€™s obvious you werenâ€™t hired for those characteristics.
The team are called in to investigate artist Victoria Foster, whose paintings have recently become better but weirder.
â€œOh no! Not again!â€ (Face-palm moment.)
â€œWould I be right in thinking that this change in Miss Fosterâ€™s art occurred after she had started reading some strange books?â€
â€œNoâ€¦but she had been having unusually vivid nightmares.â€
â€œYep. Thatâ€™ll do it too.â€
They travel to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and visit the sleep clinic where Victoria has been admitted. There isnâ€™t anyone at home, but they do find the schematics to Dr. Piotr Jasiakâ€™s Dream Extraction Machine (patent pending) and several deceased patients he has left decomposing in bathtubs upstairs with the brain-tubes still attached.
â€œThis Dr. Jasiak is a flaming nutter! That must be why they kicked him out of Poland! The only reason his clinic is in a remote part of Arkansas is that if people in town knew what he was doing, they would lynch him!â€
They visit Spirit Eagle Medicine, where a friendly Native American charges them $10 for a drink that he describes as a special tribal concoction, but which smells to them like bison pee, and conducts them in a traditional ritual for entering the Dreamlands. Everyone is relieved that they will not have to be suspended by their nipples from the top of the tepee.
The Plateau of Leng is very cold and the whole party take the opportunity to get a gratuitous tick on their Polar Survival skill from BtMoM. They are led by an eager Tcho-Tcho to the Prehistoric Monastery and make a beeline for the Main Temple, avoiding any weakeners. The High Priest Not To Be Described gives Professor Linthwaite a box and a nasty Yellow Sign scratch. He feels that there may be an underground tunnel, but decides to take the overland route to the Pharos of Leng, as â€œthe priest didnâ€™t give us permission to go down his back passageâ€.
Inside the box is a flute. Linthwaite puts it to his lips and starts playing When the Saints Go Marching In.
The professorâ€™s butler Shropshire opines: â€œIf I may say so, sir, it is exceedingly unlikely that any saints will be coming in here.â€
At the Pharos of Leng, the investigators gate crash a masked ball. Linthwaite considers getting his flute out and joining in the band, but thinks better of it. The High Priest Not To Be Described turns up again and offers the party a choice: be reborn as a slave in Carcosa or continue to search for Dr. Jasiak.
â€œWeâ€™ll go for Option B!â€
They eventually find Dr. Jasiak. He is in a bad condition but eager to make up for his crimes by throwing himself into the fiery heart of the lighthouse to save the world from the approaching Seed of Azathoth.
â€œBe my guest!â€ says Linthwaite.
â€œLet me show you the way!â€ offers Ira Madison.
They wake up in the tepee. The Native American is still there.
â€œIf youâ€™ve got any more of that bison pee, itâ€™s well worth $10,â€ comments Linthwaite. â€œYou certainly fed that bison on grass.â€
Investigation into the disappearance of Michael Walton leads the team to Falcon Point, where they try to climb Fish-Head Rock, having seen the place depicted in one of his paintings. Professor Linthwaite suddenly falls unconscious and collapses back into the boat, while Ira Madison, Benedict Quip and Shropshire all lose 3 magic points.
"We've come to the right place then."
Madison tries to revive Linthwaite, but despite rolling 01 on First Aid, the Professor remains unconscious.
"Well I didn't make him any worse. Can I make a Listen roll to hear if there are any sounds coming from inside the cave?"
"It's not really a cave, just a mouth carved into the cliff face. But you do hear something: the sound of lapping, like several things swimming towards you in the water. They're coming from the direction of Innsmouth..."
The investigators' contact from the U.S. State Department is a tall, thin man by the name of Raymond Cort. His physique earns him the nickname Basketball Cort.
"I hope he doesn't get involved in any nefarious activities. Then he'd be Criminal Cort."
"Yeah; and if he keeps losing sanity at this rate, he'll end up as A Ward Of Cort."
A tip-off from dubiously helpful Chief Inspector MacMorn leads the team to the eRotica sex-shop in a back alley off Old Compton Street in the heart of Soho.
"It's probably gay."
"You go round the front. I'll go round the back."
"No! I can't believe you said that!"
After chatting to the proprietor, Jittery Steve, one of the investigators buys a six-pack of snuff movies for the knockdown price of Â£1600 and is given a package of porn to deliver to anti-sleaze campaigner John Howick MP. "War on Whores" Howick refuses to pay the Â£400 price and demands to see "the real stuff".
The team get another tip-off that Jittery Steve has been murdered and they all rush back to his shop. They see a raincoat covering a body on the floor. Police constables and rubber-necking tourists are swarming like flies.
"As soon as I started talking to him, I knew he wouldn't survive the scenario."
"And there's no point searching the shop for dodgy DVDs; we've got 'em all."
"Still, we don't know what killed him."
"I'll lift the coat and have a look."
They go to the British Museum and learn something about the alternative history of this world. Surprisingly, John Howick is there and starts chatting up the lecturer Eve Galiana. The team decide to interrupt him. This does not go down well.
"Do you mind? I was engaging this lady in conversation. I say, don't I know you? Aren't you a delivery boy for a pornographer?"
"Who are you?"
"I am a Member of Parliament!"
"Oh my God, that explains it. You want to get a proper job. You're delusional."
"Is Armitage fungal yet?"
"Good: that means the events in Document 10 haven't happened yet."
Dr Armitage has phoned the investigators to reveal his discovery of the latest document in his dressing-gown pocket. He has also phoned them to ask the time, as the clock on his mantelpiece has stopped working.
They read the document, then immediately arrange a special general meeting with the other members of the Armitage Inquiry, and get a quorum!
Tyler Freeborn opines: "The apocalypse predicted in these documents is clearly a result of the contradictions inherent in the capitalist system. By 1937 Stalin's sterling efforts in the Soviet Union will bring about a worldwide emancipation of the proletariat."
"Comrade Freeborn, are you Mythos-aware?"
"What's that got to do with dialectical materialism?"
"Dr Wilmarth, have you heard of a science fiction writer called Wilton Bohleen?"
"Absolutely not: I am an English Literature professor."
The assistance provided to the investigators by the Armitage Inquiry is up to its usual standard. Changing tack, they phone their contact on the Boston Police Force, hard-boiled detective Mad Top Dog Maguire.
"Detective Maguire, we've got a possible lead for you. Have you had any trouble with the Tuzlo-Ugric community?"
"The ****ing what?"
"OK, how about the Brotherhood of the Red Sash?"
"Are they Masons?"
"No, there could be a good collar in this for you. We're investigating a strange cult."
There is an audible sigh on the line. "This must be a day with a 'd' in it."
They manage to locate the offices of the Brotherhood of the Red Sash at 5209 Skid Row, Brooklyn. Entering, they are assaulted by an aroma of tea and cabbage. Borat lookalikes are busy playing craps. Ira Madison greets them in Irish Gaelic; they assume he is Russian.
They are introduced to President Zvdravko Ilic.
"Tell me, Mr Ilic, are you Mythos-aware?"
"No, I'm Eastern Orthodox."
"What if I were to say to you: Shub-Niggurath!"
"I would say: bless you!"
"Are there no tales in your people's history about dark demons in the woods?"
"Ah, yes: Ombhoggu. But Christian knights saved us from him a thousand years ago."
"Ombhoggu! Not him again! He doesn't exist!"
"Dark is the wood, dark the paths of Ombhoggu."
The Keeper points out that the party have encountered Ombhoggu in all his tentacled glory.
"No, we saw something that its worshippers called Ombhoggu. But Ombhoggu was made up two years ago by the president of the Society of Syncretic Inquiry to sucker-in occultists."
"But that Latvian guy last week told you that his family had been fighting the minions of Ombhoggu since the 17th century."
Changing tack again, investigations into Wilton Bohleen lead the party to his widow's house. They manage to buy the manuscript of his unpublished novel A Short History of the Future, which Professor Lance Linthwaite reads. His Cthulhu Mythos goes up, and he gets three really useful spells:
Invocation of Non-Euclidean Time ("Ah, so that's how Armitage sent the documents back to 1934.")
Contact Mi-Go ("Great. So I've got a spell that can only be cast outside Earth's atmosphere or in a mountain infested by Fungi from Yuggoth.")
Contact Ombhoggu ("That's a top spell, ref. So there's an Outer God I don't believe exists, and I can't even summon him, just contact him. Maybe he'll appear in a dream.")
The players decide that, over the weeks, they have done enough to forestall the Apocalypse and prevent Armitage from acquiring doubtful dietary habits.
"Just as well: I was worried we might have to go back into the Dreamlands."
"And unleash our Emerald Darts of Ptath. Fizzle*fizzle*."
The Keeper suggests running Torg next week and explains the damage system to them.
"So an O and a K are okey-dokey, but a K and an O are knockout?"
"Except on a Wednesday."
Engineer Benedict Quip's concept of time has become somewhat subjective, partly because chronometric devices lose time and then stop completely in his presence. Thus he is an hour late for the team's trip to Arkham to view the latest document, scrawled on grease paper and left in the centre of the marble Elder Sign inlaid in Miskatonic Library's vestibule.
Clues in the document lead them to hunt for the Sutton hillbilly family in upstate Massachusetts. They drive to Concord, the nearest large town, and peruse the local newspaper: The Concord Trumpet.
"And what is the main headline in the paper?"
"Large beetroot wins prize at county fair."
"You'd be peeing red for a week if you ate that thing!"
Asking for directions, mentioning the reports of a mouldering church, they decide that Stowe is the likely residence of the Suttons.
They drive to Stowe, check out the deserted church, then go for a drink at the local inn, from which sounds of laughter and merry-making can be heard. Silence hits them as they enter. Slaughtered Lamb syndrome.
The offer of a few dollars elicits the information that the Suttons are a good source of dodgily-acquired schmutter and even a guide who takes them to the pig-farm. Paterfamilias Asa Sutton turns out to be well-built for his age. He also has a predilection for shotguns.
"So, do you go to church a lot?"
"Not so much."
"Do you mind if we ask you about your religion?"
Asa Sutton glances at a framed photo of two younger Suttons hunkered behind a couple of huge hogs. The boys are grinning and giving the thumbs-up.
"Anyway, we understand you might have some articles for sale."
Asa takes out a silver fob-watch and bargains them up to $12 for it.
"Keep that watch away from Benedict!"
Things go awry and the player-characters are attacked by Asa and his bodybuilding sons Jed, Ned, Fred and Seth. The team duck behind their 1930 Duesenberg, which gets peppered with shotgun pellets. Good job it's a second-hand model. The Suttons can take a lot of damage, but are eventually mown down by gunfire. Subsequent searching of the premises reveals two pigsties with a massive hog in each, complete with name plates: CTHULHU and AZATHOTH.
"That's it; we're burning this place to the ground!"
The farm burns nicely, leaving only an innocuous plume of smoke visible to the surrounding towns. Back in Boston, Benedict Quip is volunteered to repair the car's bodywork.
"And watch how he fills out his time-sheet!"
The team track down dodgy chemist Leon Godtland from the Millbrook Business Improvement Association (moving forwards) and discover that he has been employing his shop's basement for melting down hobos and other undesirables, then using their essential salts to increase his longevity.
"How old are you?"
"Looking good for your age. Can you prove that?"
"No. Census records don't go back that far."
"And did you keep any trophies from your victims?"
"I'm not a psychopath! I'm...an alchemist."
Tangential research leads the Investigators to the Boston branch of the International Logospheric Union. There they listen to a lecture by Stan Boardman from the Liverpool branch of the ILU. (The Keeper reads out the first three paragraphs of the Time Travel chapter from "Haunted Liverpool 2", available at all good bookshops, particularly the ones in Merseyside.)
The hunt for the murderer of Earl Flowers takes them to Gainesville, Georgia. Stan comes along for the free trip. It transpires that Russell Bridgeman has a strange seventeen-inch long silver artifact in his study ("I use it as a paperweight") and a homicidal giant white ape in the basement.
The local police are called to the scene and they turn up armed with shotguns.
Sheriff "Boss" Hogg makes his Stability roll: "That is one big goddam monkey!" he observes and empties his shotgun into the monster.
"Check: big monkey," Deputy Roscoe concurs and does likewise.
Professor Lance Linthwaite and Ira Madison P.I. fail their Stability tests and cannot react. Even Linthwaite's butler Shropshire, normally the quintessence of English aplomb, fails his Stability and goes into a blue funk.
Of the Investigators only Benedict Quip, ninja engineer, manages to pass his Stability test. He takes out his .38 Smith & Wesson.
"Boy, you got a licence for that there gun?"
"Yes, of course, Sheriff."
"Then shoot that ****ing monkey!"
The white ape goes down and does not get up again.
As for Stan Boardman, he rolls a 1 on his Stability test and runs out of the building. ("'ey, 'ey, AAAAGGGGH!") Once outside, he carries on running and doesn't seem to stop. When the Investigators look around the estate, they see neither head nor tail of him.
"Let's just let him make his own way back to Liverpool."
"Yeah, from Georgia."
The hunt continues for the Sikh hitman who evaded the investigators by jumping out of the window of his room at Pension Matigny and spraining his ankle. He has now acquired the sobriquet Limping Singh.
Investigation reveals Limping Singh's complicity in the deaths of other amusingly-named underworld characters such as Four Fingers Cheng and Fatty Tang, the latter having been turned into a wizened, dessicated corpse by a star vampire. "He ain't fat no more!"
The French pickpocket who filched Professor Linthwaite's wallet only to have it filched back by Ira Madison P.I. has graduated from the Shanghai Hilton to the Cathay Hotel as a hunting ground. The investigators accost him in the hotel restaurant.
"We'll do this good cop/bad cop: if you tell us everything you know, we won't gut you and leave your innards on the bar."
They are tipped-off about Chi-mo "Wrong Eye" Ling, who they look out for at a tea room in Shanghai's Russian district (two streets; they don't call it Little Moscow for nothing). After being shadowed by a representative of the local Japanese embassy, they do a deal with "Wrong Eye": $2000 for the Star Mirror.
"Do you want me to show you how it works?"
A rather freeform session of Cthulhu by Gaslight using the newspaper adverts in the first Shadows Over Baker Street story. Elisabeth Anderson has now purchased two bottles of Dr. Jekyll's tonic for use against "constipation of the soul" and has made the acquaintance of Dr. V. von F., marvelling at the good doctor's experiments in restoring vigour and life-force through electricity. She declined to visit a Romanian gentleman by the name of Mr. V. Tepes for "exsanguination therapy", but did visit an insalububrious theatre on Drury Lane for a performance of the historical epic The Great Old Ones Come, albeit leaving early when strange shapes started appearing in the background of the stage. "R'lyeh, Carcosa, Leng? I believe I have heard those names before."
- So you're finally going to use the comb?
- Hm. Alright. All I have to do is throw it over my shoulder when I'm in the woods?
- That's right.
- And it'll summon a woodland nymph?
- What, like a Dryad?
- Something like that.
- Well, I'm desperate. I'm in the woods. I'm marking a tree, throwing the comb and running like hell before the Keeper of the Yellow Sign and the "woodland nymph" turn up.
- OK. Behind you can hear...
- I'm not looking!
- You can hear the sound of trees being pulled out of the ground by their roots and smashed.
- As I said, I'm running like hell and not looking back.
- You get back to your hotel room around midnight and...nothing kills you!
- Can I go back to the woods in the morning and retrieve the comb?
- Surprise, surprise, you can't find it.
- Ah, well. By the way, Ref, what did the comb summon?
- A Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath. [shows Player a scale rendition of the Major Monster].
- **** me! I thought you said it was going to be woodland spirit!
- Hey: this is Call of Cthulhu.
"OK guys, make a Cthulhu Mythos roll."
Benedict Quip, ninja engineer, rolls a 35. "Yes, made it. What do I know?"
Professor Lance Linthwaite looks askance. "You rolled what?"
"I've SHOT people with less Mythos than that!"
Starkweather is borne into the sky by an Elder Thing. The player-characters try to shoot it down. Unfortunately, they all miss. Fortunately, Shropshire's rifle shell hits Starkweather instead. "Egad, sir, I believe I have winged the blighter!" Shropshire gets an immediate raise, and I suppose Starkweather did as well.
The last night in NYC, the group find a speakeasy. They are sold industrial ethanol with brown flavouring after asking for "Whisky". Three characters fail their CON rolls and spit it out, but Prof. Linthwaite takes a liking to it; so much so that he buys a whole barrel.
The Professor and Benedict Quip get into Starkweather's good books by helping with the fire on board/next to the ship.
Ira Madison is less enamoured of their expedition leader: "Starkweather: you're a c**t; and I'm only going on this expedition so I can watch you fall on your self-satisfied face." Actually, he may have referred to another part of the expedition leader's anatomy.
Professor Linthwaite, recovering from the scurrilous article about him in the New York Tattler, has the inspired idea of buying a crutch, eyepatch and parrot to blend in at the seamen's speakeasy. He then has the even more inspired idea of NOT dressing like a pirate and leaving his plum-voiced English butler at the hotel.
They encounter Detective Hansen.
"So, Inspector, how's the case?"
"I'm not an Inspector; I'm just a Detective."
"So, have you interviewed the mad German who was bugging the murdered sea captain?"
"How did you know about that?"
"We were at his hotel."
"Why were you at the deceased's hotel?"
"We were investigating his death. It's a good job we're on the case, Chief Inspector."
"I'm not a Chief Inspector; I'm a Detective."
Professor Linthwaite: "So Lieutenant, did you find anything out about the mad German who was stalking the deceased?"
Detective: " I'm a detective and what's that about mad German stalker - how did you find that out?"
Professor Linthwaite: "Well we spoke to the receptionist who sat at the desk downstairs who saw it all. Mmm you may have gone to an 'ivy league' law school but it looks like they failed to teach you 'Investigating a crime scene 101' - that's why you are probably still a detective."
Detective: "I will not discuss this case with you under any circumstances, you are not in the police force, even though you come from Boston and claim to know people in the force there. As a matter of fact I know Detective O'Malley and Inspector Mad Dog Mullins personally and I think I'll give them a ring to check you and your credentials out!"
Ira Madison: "Feel free..."
The detective makes the call and the following conversation is over heard: "Mad Dog, I have three weirdoes down here claiming to be from the Boston area and also claiming that they know you very well - their names are Linthwaite, Madison and Quip...
"Yes .... oh...yes...ok... yes, oh really... jeez...ok yes"
The detective replaces the receiver and faces the three investigators... "Anyhow as we were saying, about this case - we've really hit a brick wall - what we know about it is...."
"Right: we fly to the Antarctic, plant a flag on the Miskatonic Mountains, save the world and come back home for tea."
Having researched James "John Wayne" Starkweather's previous expeditions, the player characters decide they'd better outfit themselves to be on the safe side. They prepare for the Antarctic by going down into the basement in their underpants and standing around the Cold Cube they found in the Brockford House.
Researching the members of the Miskatonic Antarctic expedition brings them to Kingsport and their favourite pub. One of the local rumour-merchants is missing. "The one-eyed shark got him."
Starkweather warms to private eye Ira Madison when he finds out he's an olympic class handgun marksman. "Coo! Go on - shoot something!"
On board the expedition ship, they get measured up for Antarctic equipment to be supplied (hopefully) by Starkweather.
There they meet Dr. Greene. His polo-neck sweater, outrageous moustache and ballet-like grace cause them concerns regarding his sexual orientation.
Back at the hotel, they meet the Polish head-dog-sled-driver and tell him they don't have enough dogs.
"Yes. You can not have too many dogs. I am lovink dogs."
"Where did you learn to drive huskies, by the way?"
They also meet one of the pilots, who worries them with his enthusiasm at the idea of flying through Antarctic storms. And the assistant meteorologist who has prepared for the expedition by living in San Francisco. "What, in your underwear?"
One of the players starts reading 5th edition CoC, mistaking it for a rulebook: "Hey, you've been short changing us for years - it says here that skills go up by D10, not D6!"
"I don't run 5th; I run 4th edition. If you want 5th, rub out your Linguist skill and stop using Mechanical Repair for opening locks."
"Sounds like a fair trade."
Back to the game. Benedict Quip, Ninja Engineer, needs some bedrest to recover from last week's gunshot wound.
"Can't I First Aid him?"
"You did last time. That's why he's got so many hit points."
"How many has he got?"
The party get attacked by Sand Dwellers, ably seen off by Professor Linthwaite's butler Shropshire.
"03; Impale; 05..."
"**** me! He's a one-man army!"
In the city, the vice consul from Jeddah turns out to be a cultist. "I knew there was something dodgy about him." The note-taker can't read his own writing and gets the 5th number of Cthulhu wrong. Just as well they didn't kill the Arab scholar. Benedict Quip enters the Crystal Maze and comes out with 40% Mythos and severe paranoia. "I've shot people less dodgy than that!"
Having had the location of Odin Mine revealed to them by one of the few surviving Crom Cruach worshippers ("Worms!?"), the party go in mob-handed. Losing one of the NPC men-at-arms to a Shrivelling attack, they make a stand in the alchemical lab. Most of the archers collapse in fright on seeing the Hound; the others loose (not fire) their arrows and miss. Where did they find these guys? The Hound bursts in, but seems reluctant to attack the PC with a spot of "sweet yet putrescent" Nivea cream on his forehead. One of the NPCs fumbles his sword attack and promptly gets his head bitten off, literally, while another NPC just fumbles. Fortunately the party is saved by a nameless NPC now christened Houndbane.
Later on, they find a barrel of Blue Stone and roll it down a tunnel singing "Roll Out The Barrels". I don't bother asking for Sneak rolls. Unn the witch starts to leg it on hearing the clattering cacophony, but is subtly way-laid by Big Bert's battleaxe.
They also find a snake with strange markings. Natural World rolls fail to identify the species. The party concludes that the snake, like the Hound, must be French...
So they find a pit with a dead guy and two dead horses at the bottom. The Kid volunteers to be lowered down. He finds a tunnel. The PCs cut off a horse's tail and mane to use as a torch (the hired help already have torches in their Adventurers' Pack TM). They head on down the tunnel and hear scratching, getting louder. The PC guard suddenly offers to go on point duty and take off all his armour - so he can run faster! He guesses there's a Chthonian down there - but still goes ahead. Needless to say, he won't be Bellamy-ing the worm-filled vegetation any more...