In which the players hear the last will and testament of their good friend Jackson Elias. Also, the cult tries to kill them and Declan gets slapped by his Ex.
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.
- Abdul “Abe” Tepema - An Englishman of color, born in Egypt, he has a little knowledge of the old magic, and is a skilled detective.
- Sebastian Sullivan - An amateur student of the arcane, driven from Arkham and currently operating as a less than-impressive detective.
The player of Lin Ru-Shi wasn't able to attend so I worked with the player to describe what happened to her while the rest of the players were doing their thing, and then used those details to feed into the session everyone else was involved in.
When we last left our cast of globetrotting explorers, they had attended Jackson Elias's funeral, raided a secret cult ritual chamber, and even done a bit of investigation. Having read Jackson's notes, seen his passport, and read the copy of Africa's Dark Sects they had taken from the chamber under the Ju Ju House, they now had some idea that there was an international conspiracy invovling a cult of the bloody tongue, and that they were somehow linked to Larkin, or at least his tattoo.
Sidelining Lin Ru-Shi
As I mentioned before, Ru-Shi's player wasn't able attend the game so I worked with them the day before the session with the rest of the players and ran Ru-Shi through her own personal adventure.
Since Detective Robson was blackmailed into finding someone else to take the fall for the Harlem murders (by Salim pretending to a Federal Agent) he decided to to use one of the foreigners hanging around the new ritual chamber crime scene, and being a corrupt cop, turned to his criminal contacts to find one of them. The Italian mob, as you may recall, had mistaken Ru-Shi for a yakuza scout. (Yes, they mistook her for Japanese, it was that bad of a roll.) They knew where she was staying, and that she didn't enter the country in anyway that left a record.
Ru-Shi woke up as the cops were bashing in her hotel door and gracefully dived out the window onto the fire escape, where a police officer was waiting with a sap. When she woke she was in the Harlem Police station. A detective interrogated her, letting her know they found a box of jewelry associated with Harlem murder victims, and several missing people from Harlem, in her room. Very convenient as it was so much better than the evidence they were planning to plant in her room. What the detective wanted was Silas and his boss Mukunga, but unless they could find him she'd have to take the fall instead. Disappointed she didn't know where they were, and after letting slip details about the criminal organization they now realized was a cult, he had her thrown in lock-up downstairs.
Ru-Shi of course arranged for a prison break before the night was over and escaped over the rooftops while the police were busy trying to round up all the other criminals. She then used clues the detective let slip to track down a cult hideout, a flop house above the speakeasy "Fat Maybell's" and managed to stumble into a cult ceremony. She escapes thanks to her martial arts skills, but not without suffering a pranga (African machete) blow to the body on her way out.
Detectives and Nightmares
Both Abe and Sebastian are detective characters so when their players weren't able to attend the previous session, we decided they were off running down details on members of the Carlyle Expedition when most of the previous session happened (although we decided their characters had been there for the funeral.) I had each of them roll to turn up details on an expedition member of their choice and then handed them handouts on Ms. Masters and Sir Penhew.
I also took the opportunity to hit Abe with another nightmare. He had been having them ever since Peru, and typically involved a hooded figure trapped in a gold cage trying in vain to whisper, he assumed, to him. Now, the room the cage was in was clearly an underground space where the angles were wrong. 4 walls and 5 corners. The gilded Peruvian cage was in one corner, but something dark was unseen in each of the others.
Message From Beyond the Grave
Declan's cousin the detective got a hold of Declan in the morning to let him know that Ru-Shi had been arrested, and then escaped custody the night before, and that as her known accomplices, the Harlem cops would likely be looking for them. They were advised to stay away from Harlem. Instead they went shopping for disguises and then headed to the Jackson's Lawyer's office to hear Jackson's will read. They noticed an unmarked police car down the street keeping an eye on the building and managed to wedge a potato into the tailpipe without being caught, then proceeded into the building disguised and in separate groups without the police catching on.
Jackson turned out to have made a small fortune off his haul from Peru, and he left roughly half of it to his publishing house to encourage them to keep printing books on the occult, particularly those debunking it. The other half was used to make a trust to help fund further investigations along his most recently lines of research. He also included a personal letter, written recently, imploring his good friends to take up the cause that he assumed was likely the cause of his death. The fund contained the modern equivalent of a quarter million dollars, but the lawyer was quick to point out he was in charge of the fund and would require documentation and receipts suitable for IRS investigation he was positive a rich black man's estate would would draw. The players agreed that they were interested in learning more about the cult and whatever secret plot Jackson had started to uncover. Some from vengeance, some from curiosity, and some from greed.
As the players left the building they were attacked by the cult, who had clearly also been watching the lawyer's office. They attempted to the run the players down with a stolen truck, and then had a half dozen cultists, one with a Tommy gun, pour of the truck to try and finish the group off. It was a brutal fight in the snow, and Abe was actually lit on fire, but eventually they downed 4 of the cultist and sent the other two running off. The players also somewhat regretted disabling the police car as it prevented the detectives from being much help. The PC did manage to get away before the cops could arrest any of them. The wrecked truck burning in the snowbank was a good distraction. It also let them steal the detectives' unmarked car.
The players decided to follow up a different lead that also gave them an excuse to get out of the city for a while and visited the Carlyle mansion north of the city. As it turns out, Declan and Erica had some history, going back to around the time she had a run in with a mob boss and ended up with Joe Corey in her employ. She actually let the players into the mansion purely so she could slap Declan across the face for leaving her without even phone call or letter. Eventually the group managed to talk Erica into listening to them about some kind of conspiracy involving her Brother's death. They managed to avoid telling her anything too outlandish, and she disbelieved a lot of what they said anyway, but eventually she admitted that Roger had been into some strange occult things in the time before he left for his expedition. This led into a conversation about his strange books, and Erica agreed to let the group see the books, but to not let them out of her house.
The players ended up staying for a couple of days, basically living in the mansion's library, taking notes on several strange occult books that had been in Roger's safe. Most of the books were of a generic occult nature but one book described an Englishman that had taken up worship of an Egyptian sorcerer known as the Pharaoh of Darkness. Another book described an Egyptian sorceress queen. Both details caught Abe's attention, considering he was originally alive in the time period between those to entities. (Note: Reminder that Abe is a mummy but neither the other characters nor the players at the table know that.)
While most of the party studied the texts and wrote notes as quickly as possible, Declan proceeded to make an ass out of himself trying to prove his worth in Erica's eyes by besting Joe. He lost a fist fight and resorted to a competition more his strength: drinking. He was ultimately successful in out drinking the large man, but Erica didn't seem interested.
Having collected what information they could, and realizing that Erica had gotten bored of watching Joe punch Declan in the face on a semi-regular schedule, the group headed out of the mansion and back into town, ditching their stolen police car at a train station.
Next Time: Darkness and Monsters
Art Credit: Page 129 from Masks of Nyarlathotep, Handout.