Having not had a chance to play CoC for years, I finally got around to getting another group and getting started.
The characters: Grant, a handsome jock with little going on between the ears whose sporting prowess managed to get him a scholarship and an education.
Neilson, a big, fat, ugly doctor.
Ullerton, a clumsy, gangly, but brilliant private detective.
Burton, a spoilt rich brat who turned to a life of crime for excitement before ending up working alongside Ullerton whenever the detective needed someone to break the rules.
I've always started new groups off with The Haunting, but decided I wanted a change so I went with The Vanishing Conjurer, which is set in our native London, which meant they could play as a British group.
Ullerton is hired to investigate a missing person. The missing person is an up-and-coming stage magician who the group quickly discover has joined The Inner Brotherhood of Magicians - a seemingly innocent group of likeminded individuals with an interest in illusions and stage magic, run by a mysterious Chinese leader.
The group manage to get an invite to audition for membership - something that required each of the four to make a 25% skill check, which meant a good chance at least one of them would make it. Naturally they all failed. Unable to gain entry to the Brotherhood's London base through membership, Burton puts his breaking and entering skills to the test and forces his way in through a window. Luck is with him, and he manages to discover papers which suggest the missing magician was involved in some very unusual type of magic which he was working on with another member of the Brotherhood.
The group decide to pay the magician a visit and Ullerton easily manages to make him talk. He confesses that the pair were working together until the missing man borrowed a tome from the Chinese leader without permission and, having angered the leader, mysteriously disappeared.
The game is afoot but the group cannot get to the leader inside his well guarded HQ. The magician they have interrogated reveals the group are all performing at a theatre in a couple of nights. He plans not to show up as he is terrified the Chinese leader will have him 'disappear', giving the group a chance to take his place backstage if they can disguise themselves as him.
Disguise being something of a forte for Burton, he is able to go backstage and, while looking around, discovers bizarre equipment the two magicians were supposed to be using. At this point a ghost appears - it is the man they have been sent to find, trapped in a limbo dimension but briefly able to communicate with Burton, who is incredibly unfazed. The ghost reveals the leader plans to summon a bizarre creature tonight and must be stopped - but not before he summons the magician back from limbo, which forms part of the bizarre spell.
Burton goes along with the suggestion (it really is amazing how unfazed he was by all this) and waits to the side of the stage for the Chinese leader to begin his act. Sure enough, the magician is summoned - at which point Burton charges on stage and throws a bucket of water over him, and then another at the Chinese leader for good measure. Chaos breaks out on stage, during which point the leader decides to flee, as Burton tends to the magician, saving his life.
The leader has escaped but the magician is saved... and whatever creature was due to appear is stopped from arriving in this world.
All in all, the scenario was probably not a good one for first time players. While it was simple for them to play through without getting killed or going mad (even when they failed the magic club entrance test!) there was definitely a sense of anti-climax that there were never any monsters or much in the way of real danger (so it seemed to them, anyway). And, as you can tell from their absence, Grant and Neilson basically made up the numbers and did pretty much nothing.
It was not the grand introduction I'd hoped for. I'm definitely hoping for better things with the next scenario.