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Lisa

Eternal Lies SPOILERS GMs ONLY

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Fallingtower

I'm running the Henslowe Mansion segment tonight and am contemplating doing a couple of different things.

 

-Currothers is being paid by the cult to keep an eye on the Henslowe's and Job (within Joy Grove an un-named orderly let's him know of any changes in Job's and Henslowe's status). He's been mis-handling the Henslowe finances as well. He's not in the know as far as the nefarious deeds go. He is just building himself a little nest egg. The core clues for this are in his shack, so they might just go un-discovered.

 

- Currothers also helped push Henslowe back over the edge when he was released for that short time on his mysterious benefactor's orders. Core Clue for this will come from Mother Henslowe, hopefully leading the investigator's to snoop around in his shack.

 

I'm trying to tighten up things with the cult and make them a bit more aware of the big picture.

 

I was reading in this thread about some of the Hollywood conspiracy and coverup discussions and I have a few ways to tighten that up as well. The studios had a lot of powerful allies in the police force, plus their own very competent internal security, who would pay off the press and dissuade the police from sticking their noses into 'studio business'. 

 

 

PS- I have added a minor character to my campaign, a lawyer named Widdleworth who handles a lot of cult business. He uses local lawyers to act on his behalf. My investigator team also has a lawyer travelling with them as well. I hope I don't end up bogging my game down with court drama.

 

Lowentstein (named after Peter Lorre-real name Lowenstein), the team's lawyer carries one of those old ledger style checkbooks and is keeping track of the group's expenditures for Janet Winston. We are trying to get one for a prop.

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Fallingtower

Does anyone know what the rare book Gateway to the Godhead is (see page 232)? Has the original wound up in SS' library? What kind of Mythos Tome has a dust jacket?

 

I did a search on the pdf and 'godhead' only appears once in the entire text, so that one reference is all we have to go on.

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Lisa

I'm running the Henslowe Mansion segment tonight and am contemplating doing a couple of different things.

Awesome! I might do some of that if I run it a second time.

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Fallingtower

Awesome! I might do some of that if I run it a second time.

It went really well and adding the 'Currothers Conspiracy' to the mix spiced up what would have been a pretty 'cut and dried' night of investigation.

 

My version of Currothers is a drunkard, who couldn't wait to leave the investigators to their own devices, so he could back to his drinking, which was interrupted mid-glug. Not evil, not part of the cult, just a penniless drunk being paid to keep an eye on things for a fee. Back in his shack, passed out drunk the investigators were able to figure out that he's getting paid to keep an eye on Doug, Job and Mom and he's been mishandling the banking. (Between the paperwork in his shack and the ledger in the house) Squirreling away a little bit for his hooch and retirement.

 

My investigators contemplated feeding him to the 'gators', but ended up just moving on. They weren't happy that Currothers is going to be reporting on them, eventually. They did secure a few names of lawyers and most importantly, Widdleworth in California.

 

All this makes the overall story arc/cult conspiracy seem a little more organized. The reasoning for keeping Job and Henslowe in one place now makes more sense. They're being monitored. I'm going to build on this more to flesh out Walter Winston's reasons for not writing Henslowe back. He was being watched as well and he feared any letters sent to Henslowe would be read by someone in the cult's influence and thus spur them into action against him.

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JustinAlexander

My game took an interesting curve last night: Having concluded that Samson Trammel and Captain Walker are the same person (since they both live at the same address), the PCs further concluded (based on Walker's reputation) that the mansion was too tough a nut for them to crack.

 

So they chose to simply not engage with the Trammel/Walker organization. They are now on a plane to Ethiopia to follow the trail of George Ayers, completely unaware of any of the othe cult locations.

 

Which is all fine. It's just unfortunate that Ethiopia is the one major location that's a complete dead end and (quite logically) doesn't lead to any of the other major locations. At this point I'm weighing the pros and cons of either:

 

1) Making sure that the revelations in Afar and Dallol are properly framed so that their primary function is to emphasize the world-shattering stakes of the Liar From Beyond (and thus send them catapulting back to L.A. with a fresh sense of purpose; and/or

 

2) Bringing in the Anti-Investigators as floating antagonists who can point them towards Bangkok. (This should get them fully back on track because I've already modified Bangkok to include clues pointing to L.A., Malta, Mexico City, and even the Yucatan.)

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Fallingtower

My game took an interesting curve last night: Having concluded that Samson Trammel and Captain Walker are the same person (since they both live at the same address), the PCs further concluded (based on Walker's reputation) that the mansion was too tough a nut for them to crack.

 

So they chose to simply not engage with the Trammel/Walker organization. They are now on a plane to Ethiopia to follow the trail of George Ayers, completely unaware of any of the othe cult locations.

 

Which is all fine. It's just unfortunate that Ethiopia is the one major location that's a complete dead end and (quite logically) doesn't lead to any of the other major locations. At this point I'm weighing the pros and cons of either:

 

1) Making sure that the revelations in Afar and Dallol are properly framed so that their primary function is to emphasize the world-shattering stakes of the Liar From Beyond (and thus send them catapulting back to L.A. with a fresh sense of purpose; and/or

 

2) Bringing in the Anti-Investigators as floating antagonists who can point them towards Bangkok. (This should get them fully back on track because I've already modified Bangkok to include clues pointing to L.A., Malta, Mexico City, and even the Yucatan.)

 

Skipping the Trammel Mansion entirely definitely is a big, nasty curveball, your players have thrown at you. Thusfar I've only skimmed that section and I don't want to have my investigators skip it as well.

 

 

I purposely have been fostering a gun and dynamite free Call of Cthulhu game, so if guns and dynamite are the only way to crack that nut, then I might have to make adjustments. 

 

My investigative team consists of a Italian-American opera singer/composer, a Portuguese immigrant B-movie actor, a Ziegfeld girl  and a beautiful, pre-gills, Deep One waif.  They have a rich benefactor, so I'm sure they can hire muscle if needed, but this group is built to deal with things in a conversational/persuasive fashion.

 

Anyway, to the point I'm trying to make, as a Keeper I like the challenge of steering the narrative without arm twisting and railroading.

 

I like to use NPC's, dreams, vibes, insane insights and the wonderful ToC drives to keep things 'in the groove'.

 

Sooner or later I'm going to have one, some or all of my investigators get 'dosed' with some Nectar, to further immerse  them into the madness..

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Lisa

 

My game took an interesting curve last night: Having concluded that Samson Trammel and Captain Walker are the same person (since they both live at the same address)

 

How odd.

 

 

1) Making sure that the revelations in Afar and Dallol are properly framed so that their primary function is to emphasize the world-shattering stakes of the Liar From Beyond (and thus send them catapulting back to L.A. with a fresh sense of purpose; and/or

2) Bringing in the Anti-Investigators as floating antagonists who can point them towards Bangkok. (This should get them fully back on track because I've already modified Bangkok to include clues pointing to L.A., Malta, Mexico City, and even the Yucatan.)

 

#2 is a good idea. One thing I did was to swap in the anti-investigator's seer for the blind man in Dallol. You can, if you want, have Tshombe leak clues. She sees visions and doesn't know the PCs are the enemy, so she can babble and have what she says be translated.

 

The Liar wants to sink its teeth into Ayers again. This gives you wide latitude to put various people who might be on the PCs' trail into the Ethiopia section.

 

Whatever you do, I would love to see any clues or handouts you create!

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Lisa

 

Skipping the Trammel Mansion entirely definitely is a big, nasty curveball, your players have thrown at you. Thusfar I've only skimmed that section and I don't want to have my investigators skip it as well.

    I purposely have been fostering a gun and dynamite free Call of Cthulhu game, so if guns and dynamite are the only way to crack that nut, then I might have to make adjustments.

 

Mmm, it's complicated. So, as written, no one's letting them into the Trammel Mansion -- but Trammel throws parties and attends charity events. He has no predictable pattern, which was critical for my group, as one investigator was quite prepared to set up a shooting blind to take him out if that were possible. For a group without that leaning, they can meet him in social circumstances.

 

They can infiltrate. One of the investigators in my group deliberately became a Nectar addict. He also used another tactic -- Trammel rounds up street people for orgies to keep production going. So, he posed as a street person. The players figured that Walker's people would frisk anyone the collected, which makes sense, but he generally doesn't carry weapons anyway.

 

I did decide that, with him on Nectar and Trammel on Nectar, Trammel could figure out he was a spy. You don't have to do that, and you may not want to, of course. He had back up with guns ready to retrieve him -- and folks later bought out Walker so that Walker had his men stand down when they arranged for a police raid. There is an NPC with the police who's wanted to wrap the 1924 events properly, and he can help out a bit, unofficially.

 

But, it is difficult if you don't want guns or explosives. Pizner will be following the PCs -- maybe a kidnapping instead of a beating?

 

The big place where you need explosives is the Mouth. If my scribbles are accurate, the LA Mouth has the biggest Health Pool, at 72, and is likely to be deadly if you and the PCs aren't careful, as it's the first they'll encounter. But read the whole LA chapter a couple of times, and you'll have a clearer idea of what you can do to tweak things for your group.

 

 

My investigative team consists of a Italian-American opera singer/composer, a Portuguese immigrant B-movie actor, a Ziegfeld girl  and a beautiful, pre-gills, Deep One waif.  They have a rich benefactor, so I'm sure they can hire muscle if needed, but this group is built to deal with things in a conversational/persuasive fashion.

 

If they are willing to throw money around, they might be able to buy Pizner -- though he's probably wisely too afraid of Walker to do much useful stuff. Also, if they either buy or turn the tables on Pizner, start thinking about Walker's response, not just to the PCs, but also to Pizner. I had my group find him in the basement. as Walker and Trammel figured they could get some use out of him by adding him to the production staff.

 

Use that arts connection! It'll be great in Mexico City, and none too shabby in Malta, but in LA? There's a dead B-movie star and a new A-lister associated with the 1924 events. If you're willing to add a bit, flesh out the other two B-listers and have them have survived and be tracked down. They won't know much; they weren't in the inner circle, and possibly weren't even cultists or at the fatal ritual, but give folks every advantage those backgrounds can provide.

 

 

Sooner or later I'm going to have one, some or all of my investigators get 'dosed' with some Nectar, to further immerse  them into the madness..

  

Go carefully here. There's no guidelines for either withdrawal symptoms or kicking the habit. Your best bet is for the players to volunteer to have their PCs take Nectar. If they don't, I wouldn't add more opportunities than already exist for getting dosed. Your mileage will vary, but be very sure of where your players stand on some of the darker material.

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Lisa

From the handouts EL thread, putting my reply here as we kind of strayed far from the topic of handouts:

 

 

I need to read up on Ayers a bit, but here are my thoughts that might not coincide perfectly with the book - I will provide some more thoughts on him, when I have had time to read up on him.
    I have two options with Ayers that I am considering. Either he is a professor who was intrigued by Job's obsession with spouting mathematical gibberish - he found delight in watching the young man unravel and then took 'pity' on him when it became apparent that his 'proofs' were driving him over the edge. He thought that a man with this kind of obsession would be good if his obsessions could be turned to the Mythos - it was Ecchevaría's luck that Ayers had unknowingly stumbled upon the catalyst needed to bring about the Apocalypse.
    Alternatively - and probably better: Having dabbled in the Mythos himself, Ayers has heard tales of non-euclidian geometries and its potential powers. He has investigated and found a tenous link to Azathoth - it was him who brought this to Ecchevaria. Then when he, as a professor, stumbled upon Edgar Job he was intrigued by the 'proofs' that Job were completing - could these be the first attempts at a non-euclidian geometry? He introduced Job to Ecchevaría and events unfolded as we know them.

 

Either works, although, as written, Ayers wouldn't be looking for a link to Azathoth per se. Of the inner circle, Ayers is the one who's suspicious of what Echevarria's really up to, which means he doesn't actually know. But, he also worries about being shunted aside, so if he had any inkling that Job's talents were what Echevarria needed, he'd be quite likely to introduce the two.

 

The Ayers / Job friendship is an interesting thing, something that's apparently intended to be a kernal of truth amidst the lies, so it's something I'm trying to understand or come up with an explanation for.

 

With Echevarria and the cultists, the way I'm seeing it is:

  • Echevarria is the one calling the shots.
  • Ayers is the most learned of the others, and knows something is off.
  • Trammel is just in the right place at the right time when Ayers starts questioning, so Echevarria takes him into his false confidence as well. Echevarria is full of himself and wants to be important, and that means dispensing Secrets. I see him as the most religious of the group, at least this time around.
  • Buchwald mostly doesn't know what's going on, which is why Echevarria tells him most of the truth. He wants to boast. He needs to boast. And Buchwald will never understand just what it is he's heard, and neither will most PCs.
  • Ayers may be the most learned, but Sirikhan is the smartest. She's actually figured it all out, but she doesn't realize it because of one missing piece of crucial information.
  • Brooks and de La Luz have taken things in a different direction, and the Mouth of Mexico City is happy to respond. Brooks believes the lies the Liar tells him, and thinks Trammel is lying when Trammel actually believes the lies the Liar told him. Brooks sent his expedition to the right place to learn the truth, but the men on it will never survive to learn it, let alone report back. I think Brooks just got lucky there, unless either a) the Liar wants the outer ritual completed (I don't think so, but you can play it that way) or B) Golxumal wants to reveal the truth. (In my game, I'm decreeing that Golxumal is the only one who can tell the truth because its name is the one the Liar hid behind. Well, possibly N as well, but N won't tell because N would rather not lose its toys.)
  • Donovan is a clever man who managed to trick the Liar into giving up a key piece of information. So, the Liar told Trammel about the Devouring Mountain, but not its name. Trammel told Donovan, who doesn't know that name, but who managed to get the Liar to teach him the spell to get the crack to reveal itself. How? I'm thinking by going to the Liar, pretending to be worried, and saying, "Hey, so, if I needed to get to your body, and I went to the right place, what if the astronomical conditions are wrong? How would I be able to reach you, Oh Lord?" And, the Liar told him. (Sirikhan learned about the Devouring Mountain on her own, and found out its name, but the Liar's not about to let her learn the final piece -- maybe it has thwarted her researches without her ever realizing it.) Donovan wanted power, and that meant making the Nectar flow.
  • Donovan and Brooks-and-de-la-Luz are capable of love. This is why Donovan can make the sacrifice, and why it breaks him. Brooks and de la Luz wind up with the cult spiraling towards its own destruction not so much because of their love for each other, though that's real, as for their love of music. Sirikhan may not be capable of love, but she's got a sense of honor, or at least, a strong sense of pragmatism, as she doesn't betray her best henchmen. Ayers and Job have at least a platonic love, and, even if it's only platonic (up to the individual Keepers), have probably had sex, given Nectar.

I'm babbling rather a lot, so I'll stop here.

  •  

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JustinAlexander

I purposely have been fostering a gun and dynamite free Call of Cthulhu game, so if guns and dynamite are the only way to crack that nut, then I might have to make adjustments. 

 

It's not. They just kind of assumed it and didn't do anything to verify it one way or the other. (They had also talked themselves into the idea that it would be impossible to perform surveillance on the mansion because their presence in the high class neighborhood would look too suspicious.)

 

They even floated a plan that probably would have worked great. (Having one of them go in pretending to be one of the debaucherites.) They just decided not to do it.

 

There's enough bad guys with guns running around the campaign that it's probably going to be hard to avoid arming up at some point. But it's certainly possible to get through the campaign without them. (Particularly if they don't prioritize getting access to or destroying Major Mouths.)

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Lisa

So, one of my players missed the last couple of session, and his character is the one who had a certain, ah, physical issue.

 

He'd been in Ethiopia with the others, so he learned what he could learn there, and we agreed that he really wasn't the type to take the ascetic route, especially as that involved de facto retiring the character. So, he took the other option, which means that his character has been recuperating during the sessions that the player missed.

 

The player decided that the amputated forearm has been replaced with a hook. Anyone got a feel for how much damage that ought to do in combat? We're going with +0.

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csmithadair

So, one of my players missed the last couple of session, and his character is the one who had a certain, ah, physical issue.

 

He'd been in Ethiopia with the others, so he learned what he could learn there, and we agreed that he really wasn't the type to take the ascetic route, especially as that involved de facto retiring the character. So, he took the other option, which means that his character has been recuperating during the sessions that the player missed.

 

The player decided that the amputated forearm has been replaced with a hook. Anyone got a feel for how much damage that ought to do in combat? We're going with +0.

I wouldn't go higher than +0. I'd consider -1 (same damage as brass knuckles or a small knife, and it's not made for combat [presumably]). But +0 isn't out-of-bounds or anything. I don't recall prosthetic hook damage coming up in any of the published scenarios.

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Lisa

I wouldn't go higher than +0. I'd consider -1 (same damage as brass knuckles or a small knife, and it's not made for combat [presumably]). But +0 isn't out-of-bounds or anything. I don't recall prosthetic hook damage coming up in any of the published scenarios.

I can't imagine why not. Well, we seem to have filled that lack!

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csmithadair

I can't imagine why not. Well, we seem to have filled that lack!

True enough. I do find estimating damage in GUMSHOE to be nicely easy. Yes, there may be a variety of choices (especially when talking about something other than "simple" melee and missile weapons), but I'm not going to be too far off the mark.

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Lisa

Yah, it's one of the oddities built into Gumshoe that raising the damage an attack does is hard to do (though occasionally possible with particular variants). It's something some of us are still having a bit of trouble wrapping our heads around.

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Timby1name

I can't imagine it being much different than a knife.

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rylehNC

What was Henslowe's role in the 1924 party? He does a good job of describing everyone else, so it seems like he was a bit of a second stringer to the others.

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Timby1name

I treated him as Winstons right hand man but you are right it doesn't say what his life has consisted of from birth to working for Winston. It's not something my players latched on to but you really could make it just about anything you want.

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christian

Can anyone remind me WHEN E.L starts? In 1937, I seem to recall, but is there a more precise date?

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Timby1name

I was not able to find one. I put it in June. Just as long as it's sweltering hot in Savannah I think any time will do.

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JustinAlexander

Thought people here might find this useful: It's a "side quest" of sorts featuring the OBELISK OF AXUM in Ethiopia. This is mentioned briefly in Eternal Lies as the object that Bartolo Acuna has come to Ethiopia to retrieve for the Italian government. (Which is a true story from history.)

 

A little background for why this exists and the form it takes: First, I seized on the Obelisk of Axum as an opportunity to introduce some additional lore regarding Gol-Goroth, Glaaki, and the Liar into my campaign. To that end, I prepped some additional information for Acuna to discuss with the PCs. I wasn't anticipating them running off to Axum to actually investigate the Obelisk, but in retrospect it's not that surprising.

 

(You could also add clues pointing to the Obelisk of Axum on Ko Kruk Island in Bangkok, which has the added benefit of adding an additional route to Ethiopia for players who decided not to investigate Ayers in L.A.)

 

Second, based on Captain Walker's street rep my players decided the Trammel mansion would be too difficult to tackle and they left L.A. without investigating it. Which means that they have no clues to follow except those pointing them at George Ayers in Ethiopia. I knew I needed to add some additional clues to get them out of Ethiopia (which is otherwise a dead-end) and I decided the best way to do that was to have the Anti-Investigators active in the area. They could then trace clues from the Anti-Investigators back to Savitree Sirikhan in Bangkok and from there it would be easy enough to keep things in motion.

 

When they decided to head to Axum to investigate Acuna's theories regarding the Obelisk, I realized that it made the most sense for the Anti-Investigators to be onsite doing the same.

 

TALKING WITH ACUNA ABOUT THE OBELISK OF AXUM

  • The city of Axum is filled with stelae. The Obelsik of Axum is the oldest of these, estimated to be 1,700 years old. It was toppled onto its side and shattered into five parts during the 16th century – either during a war with Imam Ahmad Gragn (the Conqueror) or due to an earthquake.
    • Prop: Sketch of the Obelisk of Axum
    • Mussolini wants it as a war trophy: A symbol of the glories achieved by his Fascist regime.
    • Acuna’s interest is different: He believes that one or both of the “false†doors at the base of the Obelisk actually conceal a real entrance to a chamber hidden within the Obelisk. (This is based on his study of the Revelations of Glaaki.)
    • The other stelae in Axum were used to mark underground burial chambers. They were modeled on the Obelisk of Axum, but the Obelisk’s purpose was different: Acuna believes that it was built as an “earthly pillar†to serve as a foundation for the “wall†behind which the fabled “Prisoner of Glaaki†was imprisoned.
    • The hidden chamber within the Obelisk is the “Chamber of Silence†– or, more literally, “the room in which the mouth is shut†– an earthly model of the Prisoner’s unearthly cell.
    • GM Note: Almost none of this is true and there is no apparent way to gain access to the “hidden chamber†within the Obelisk.

These two files contain everything you need:

 

Eternal Lies - The Obelisk of Axum (PDF)

Eternal Lies - The Obelisk of Axum - Props (ZIP)

 

The zip file for the props contains a variety of photos, graphics, and documents. The use of each should be clearly referenced in the PDF. (Except for Acuna's sketch of the obelisk, which is referenced above and also found in the zip.)

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Lisa

These two files contain everything you need:

 

Eternal Lies - The Obelisk of Axum (PDF)

Eternal Lies - The Obelisk of Axum - Props (ZIP)

 

The zip file for the props contains a variety of photos, graphics, and documents. The use of each should be clearly referenced in the PDF. (Except for Acuna's sketch of the obelisk, which is referenced above and also found in the zip.)

 

Er, are those the correct urls? I didn't get to files, but to Page Not Found on The Alexandrian website.

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JustinAlexander

Er, are those the correct urls? I didn't get to files, but to Page Not Found on The Alexandrian website.

 

Weird. Those were working last night. I've updated the links. Let me know if they still don't work for you and I'll drop them on Dropbox or something.

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Lisa

That worked. Thank you very much!

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Lisa

Updated my blog, so I'm only one write up behind.

 

Also, I see I started the campaign in late March of 1937. This is likely the earliest I'd do that, as Walter Winston died in the winter.

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