In which the players face a dark chamber of supernatural horrors and attend a funeral.
Reminder: My players don't entirely know they are playing through Masks of Nyarlathotep. As far as they know, this is a 1920s Pulp themed Fate Core game. This article does contain spoilers for the new edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep.
Cast of Player Characters This Episode
- Lin Ru-Shi - A Hong Kong street urchin that grew up to be a martial artist thief.
- Lord Declan MacManus - A minor Irish Lord and Great War pilot turned smuggler. Lives on his flying boat and has a way with the ladies.
- Salim Dali - A negotiator, translator, expedition assistant extraordinaire.
The players of Abdul “Abe” Tepema and Sebastian Sullivan were not present, so we decided that after last session the two "detective" characters decided to go off and do some research.
When we last left our cast of globetrotting explorers, they had come to New York at the request for Jackson Elias, and arrived just in time to find his cultist murders standing over his corpse. They began investigating what Jackson had gotten himself into on his recent globetrotting. Clearly a cult, possibly associated with Larkin from the Peru adventures, had decided to kill him because he knew too much. Among the local leads the players met with shady importer/exporter Emerson, who helped them track down the Ju Ju House.
Hello Shop Keep
The players head to the Ju Ju House, an Africana shop in Harlem, to talk with the owner Silas, a name found on a business card on Jackson's body, and the man Emerson indicated wasn't entirely in his right mind. Before walking down an alleyway into the Ju Ju Shop, they scouted the block, a set of apartments with ground floor shop fronts, creating a possible escape route through an out of business pawnshop, and chatting up a local rare occult bookstore owner.
Having learned what they could, they walked into Silas's shop and came face to face with what turned out to be a little old African man. Initially confused by the clear foreigners in his shop, he first tried to sell them some African trinkets, but as they started asking more pointed questions he decided they weren't customers and his entire demeanor changed. He demanded they leave his shop, and when they failed to comply, he began yelling to his neighbors that strange foreigners were assaulting him. So Salim knocked him the hell out.
The players began searching the shop for clues, but sounds from outside made it clear the neighbors in the apartments above were concerned about Silas's yelling, so Salim strode out of the shop yelling as he had just lost a nasty bout of bargaining with Silas. This stopped the neighbors in their windows from coming down to investigate, but they continued to watch the alleyway from their windows.
They left Silas knocked out behind the counter and searched the room, discovering a lock box containing the shop cash and Silas's bloody tongue headband. Declan started searching behind the counter, noticing what might be a hatch in the floor under a rug, but found Silas was starting to come around and so chocked him unconscious... and then some. The rest of the group, realizing he was dying, dragged him out to get him help, which caused the neighbors hanging out their windows to realize something terrible was happening. A mob formed, and things got interesting. Salim and the rest of the group tried to keep the situation under control, including bundling Silas into a cab to the hospital, but Ru-Shi used the distraction to slip back into the shop and picked the lock on the floor hatch. Under the hatch was a set of stairs that looked carved out of the foundations in an odd way.
The PCs decided to come back later that night, knowing Silas wouldn't be there, and the neighbors would be asleep.
Down in a Hole
Around 3am, the group returned to the store, and Ru-Shi picked the lock on the door and the hidden hatch. They found a set of stairs going down into darkness. The steps and tunnel had been carved out of the foundations, the ground, and into the bedrock by thousands of fist sized striated gashes. They thought it was fingers, of claws given the concrete material, but on close inspection they realized the passage had be carved out by thousands upon thousands of bites with distinctly human looking teeth. The bites were not all the same either, indicating multiple people(?) had carved the passage intentionally through oral means.
At the end of the stairs was a short hallway, also chewed from the bedrock, ending in a solid if ordinary wood door. Unlocked. In the chewed out room beyond they found what was clearly a ritual chamber, guarded by disemboweled zombies with their mouths sewn shut. Also a large stone lid on a deeper hole. They dispatched the zombies and looted the room, discovering occult paraphernalia, a book stolen from Harvard that Jackson had apparently been trying to track down, and a lock box full of jewelry trophies from various cult sacrifices.
Then they used the winch to raise the stone block lid off a dark hole where the thing that had carved the room was kept. A being composed entirely human faces, it screamed and gibbered wordlessly, threatening to drive all that heard it mad. Wisely the group kept the lid no more than a few inches off the ground, and dispatched the thing by pouring all the lantern oil and booze they could into the hole and then lighting it on fire. The screams as it burned were not pleasant, but they remained long enough to ensure it would burn to death without escaping being leaving.
They then called Declan's 2nd cousin the detective, waking him now at nearly 5am, and had him get the police over to investigate. They attempted to interact with the cops, but found the Harlem police were not especially welcoming of their input on the situation. Several of the cops were disturbed by the discovered a hole with dozens of human skulls in it.
Impersonating a Federal Officer
Concerned that the Harlem police were too corrupt to release the obviously innocent man, Hilton Adams, from death row where he was to be executed for the crimes the cult had committed, Salim called the Harlem police and managed to impersonate a federal agent enough to not only get Captain Robson on the phone, but to essentially black mail the captain by implying "the feds" knew he had framed Hilton and that the cultist angle on a larger federal case was now being damaged by his willingness arrest an innocent man. He was strongly encouraged to find a more appropriate candidate before the full extent of his off-the-book enterprises was revealed.
Funerals and Reading Time
Later that afternoon the group attended the funeral of their friend Jackson Elias, meeting several that were friends and coworkers of Jackson. A few of these people they had already met in person or over the phone, and in a few cases lied to, but they managed to maneuver their way through the conversations safely.
Among the people they met was Jackson's lawyer who told them to show up at his office in a couple of days for the official reading of Mr. Elias's will. He indicated that Jackson will specifically referenced them. They also met Jackson's publisher, who informed them that she had Jackson's notes on his latest book, as he commonly mailed his notebooks back to the office while off globetrotting. She invited them to swing by on Monday to take a look at them, but was instead talked into going into the office directly after the Funeral so they could get the notes, and a stiff drink from her office bottle of decent scotch, and get the notes immediately.
The PC spent the next few days reading through the notes and the book on African Cults, learning more about what Jackson had been looking into, and the cult they had now clearly angered.
Next Time: The Cult Strikes Back, and so does Declan's Ex!
Art Credit: Page 161 of the new 7th edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep