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Lisa

Eternal Lies SPOILERS GMs ONLY

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Lisa

So, in Trammel's case, he knew the ritual and summoned it, I presume, possibly over many weeks and orgies.

 

The question to my mind is: "Why isn't there a Major Mouth that the PCs have to deal with on the Farm?" My players assumed there was, and I decided that they were right, because it just made sense.

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JustinAlexander

Canonically speaking, IIRC, there was no Major Mouth in Echavarria's basement in '24 and it is, in fact, completely unclear where the Nectar was coming from back in '24.

I would generally steer away from having a Major Mouth at the Farm because the Farm is likely to be one of the first places the investigators check out, so you're kind of jumping straight to the Major Mouth without a full build to it. (It's also not clear how the Major Mouth would have been manifested at the Farm since all the ritual sex was happening at Echavarria's mansion.)

 

What you could do, though, is add a Major Mouth at the farm in '24 through which the Liar physically manifested himself. The Mouth doesn't exist (and there's no trace of it), because it essentially transformed/extruded itself as the headless figure. You'd want to:

 

- Modify the history of the '24 cult to explain this. Perhaps add references to "chosen members" who were selected from the orgies at Echavarria's house and taken out to the Farm for "private sessions". (Perhaps Olivia Clarendon could have received such an invite from Richard Spend?)

- Have Jobs' and/or Henslowe's description of the ritual include this mouth extruding from a pit in the floor of the barn.

- Perhaps add references in the Nectar ledgers and/or Buchwald's testimony pointing towards the barn somehow as the source of the Nectar.

- Include burnt and twisted remnants of chemical equipment at the barn.

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Lisa

I hadn't intended there to be a Mouth at the farm, but clearly, something was affecting things even years later. So, when the players learned about the various Major Mouths, possibly after LA, possibly after Mexico, they thought there must be one under the farm. I figured I'd treat it the way I was treating the Mexico Mouth. That is, while they hadn't yet learned the best way to destroy the Mouths with explosives, they did have the resources to have people keep an eye on the area and note any oddities.

 

So, this got chalked up as "you took precautions to handle this offstage, you learned what to do when you talked to the man in Bangkok, the campaign doesn't need the extra length or drama, so sure, you can avert crises involving the Farm, LA, and Mexico Mouths."

 

I did not have any Mouth show up at the Farm when they were exploring it. I agree that this is likely to give the game away a little too early -- unless that's what one wants to do, which would involve a fair bit of reworking the LA material along the lines you suggested.

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chicklewis

Thanks for the helpful re-direction, Lisa and Justin.  

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BenJoss
Hello Hive Mind,

 

Apologies if this has been asked already but I don't much fancy trawling through the last 12 or so pages looking for the specific question. #lazyiknow

 

My players arrived in Los Angeles last night and I had incorrectly expected them all to head down to the Bank of Long Beach.  However, the wily players outfoxed me and decided to split the party with some going straight to the Los Angeles Times to look up the date of the incident to see if there were any reports.

 

Of course, the newspaper reports are not covered in the campaign book other than those relating to Richard Spend (both tabloid and Times obits).  I scrabbled around for an explanation and came up with the idea that the whole thing must have been covered up by film producers etc to avoid it getting into the mainstream press.  I did give them a copy of Richard's Times obit as one of the investigators tracked down and schmoozed an old reporter with the Times who had been there during 1924.

 

So my question is, have I missed something here?  Also, did anyone else encounter this situation and how did you go about explaining it?

 

(One final note, I'm running the remix, so using the 1934 date.)

 

Thanks

 

Ben

 

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JustinAlexander

I think your instincts are basically on point.

 

The campaign does talk a little bit about contemporary events in Scene 11 (see pg. 96): "... none of the victims were well connected enough, or had surviving kin with the necessary pull, to warrant a continued investigation past the apparently obvious explanation for the killings - that the members of the groups were deviants, and that getting high, having perverse sex, and killing each other is something that deviants do." This doesn't really track with Richard Spend (who may have been a B-level movie star, but was still a movie star).

 

But if you look on p. 90: "The obituary cites natural causes..." So somebody was planting fake information with the press. The logical conclusion to draw is that it would be the movie studio.

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BenJoss

That's great, thank you, Justin, for helping to clarify my thoughts.  I'm definitely running with that tonight and play up on the idea of a nefarious studio being involved.  For the players, this will underline the hidden corruption they are slowly uncovering in LA, albeit in this case a very human one.

 

BTW thanks so much for the remix, it's been a godsend in terms of helping with my prep and the overall story-arc.

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BenJoss

So last night I played up on the idea that a studio would have been responsible for keeping the story of the incident out of the papers.  Two of the investigators went to the offices of the tabloid Filmland Express and spoke with a very eager young reporter who backed up that idea.

 

What's interesting now is that one of the investigators was attacked by Pizner whilst going through Ayer's stuff at the UCLA warehouse.  All the players seem to think that he was sent by the studio to protect Olivia Clarendon's interests.

 

One question @JustinAlexander with the books from Echevarria's library that were placed in the UCLA library how did you manage the investigators access to them?

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JustinAlexander

Learning about the books: First group came at them from an unusual angle. They were researching Ayers' published papers by going to the UCLA library; point spend to have a research librarian pull up the library's copies of his unpublished papers (from the end of his career where the papers were becoming more crazed and unsuitable for publication); and then they discovered that, in addition to his personal papers, the library also had a lot of books purchased for him that had been held in storage for years. Second group did it basically as I laid out in the remix: Hamish mentions last communication was a telegram requesting books be purchased; the PCs eagerly tracked them down.

 

Access to books: Both groups ended up actually buying the books from the library. (Point spends and bureaucratic wrangling of various sorts.)

Studying Books: I describe the procedures I use for the various book lots (UCLA, mansion, Savitree's research) on my blog: http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/37217/roleplaying-games/eternal-lies-savitrees-research

For the UCLA books it's basically:

1. Give them a list of the books.
2. They select titles they want to skim (and I give them the related handout).
3. They can then pour over volumes of their choice (1 week per volume) as they choose.

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BenJoss

Interested to hear the thoughts of anyone who has run the campaign...

 

In my campaign, the investigators have just returned broken and battered from Ethiopia.  They had previously followed ACT 1 as expected although as yet didn't visit the mansion in LA.

 

On their return to New York they spoke with JWR and have taken the Silver Sable back to Savannah.  They believe that they need to see if the Thai thugs have returned and would like to speak with Henslowe and Job again.

 

Any ideas or suggestions on what might have happened or changed in Savannah in the interim 3-4 months since they last visited?  The cult is passively aware of the groups' activity but believes they successfully drove them out of LA.

 

Would Lowman have sent more thugs?

Would Doctor Keaton or even Teake want to allow access to Job and Henslow again?

 

I could run this next session as a series of dead-ends but that just wouldn't be exciting, I want to give the impression that things have moved on in their absence.

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Lisa

Hard to give specifics, as I'm not sure exactly what happened in your run with Savannah (did you do write ups anywhere?), how the group wound up in Ethiopia, or what happened there, but broadly:

 

* Keaton may now have the top position. Certainly, he was angling for it. (I think someone made a newspaper article for this.)

* If Savitree or Lowman knows the group has been there, they will have people in position to keep an eye out for the return. What they do then is fuzzy -- attack the PCs? Kidnap either Henslowe or Job? Murder the staff? Addict Keaton to Nectar? Kidnap the PCs and stick them in pits on Savitree's island? I don't know your group's tastes.

* Thugs might have paid a visit to any of the main characters, and if it's the patients, they might have a somewhat hazy memory of just what happened... Heck, Job might think he's just remembering an old orgy or something.

 

How did things go? That is, what kind of terms where the PCs on with:

Keaton

Henslowe

Job

Mrs. Henslowe

Anyone else in town?

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BenJoss

Thanks, Lisa, I appreciate it hard to give detailed advice when you don't have the full context.  To be honest I didn't want to type up a full background in that last post as it would be pretty heavy after about 18 sessions of play so far.  Ethiopia alone was pretty epic in scope and drama with three investigators now suffering PTSD from being captured and tortured for days in Dallol.

 

Suffice to say, in Savannah, the meetings with Job and Henslowe went pretty much by the book.  One of the investigators did rub Keating up the wrong way which resulted in him ushering them out earlier than expected.

 

They didn't speak to Mother Henslowe but completed the rest of the mansion tasks.  They were accosted on leaving the mansion by the thugs, survived and were able to trace them back to the flights from Bangkok as paid for by a man name Lowman.

 

One idea I'm forming is whether Walker of Savitree might have Henslow killed?  I'm trying to think whether this would have any serious impact on the flow of the rest of the campaign.  The only thing I can think of is that the Henslowe estate would stop funding Job's incarceration.  Henslowe being killed though would make an interesting plot 'bang' for the investigators.

 

They had no real contact with anyone else in Savannah.  As I already mentioned the Cult believes they've driven them from LA and nothing they did in Ethiopia would have changed that.  Unless of course, the Liar itself is passing information to the cult.  My only thoughts about the cult at this stage are that they will be in a higher state of alert but not actively be pursuing the investigators unless they make a big noise again, something they are loathed to do.

 

The other thing my investigators are fixated on is the background of the other 1924 incident investigators.  As little detail is provided by the campaign here I'm assuming I'll have to improvise any investigations into this area.

 

If anyone is interested in reading one of my player's notes, which she has written into a case file you can do so here, not it doesn't yet include our last two sessions which involve the completion of Ethiopia and the return to the US.

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Lisa

Wow. Those are great notes.

 

The whole business in Dallol -- is that not in the notes or is that stuff that the author suppressed?

 

If Savitree or Walker killed or had Henslowe killed, why?

 

As for Job, here's the thing: He needs to be around for the climax, unless you rewrite that, which you can. So, if Henslowe is killed and Job's bills aren't being paid, he goes to LA for his trial. This can drag out so that it's either not resolved or resolved in time for him to be immortal -- they try to execute him and they can't. Either way, just move the end game with Job to LA.

 

If he's killed beforehand, either the world is doomed (not quite fair, so I'd not do that), the person who kills him inherits his role, or he comes back from the dead, as the Outer Gods don't care about our way of keeping track of time. Or he's a mindless walking corpse and someone MUST go with him through the portal, as he lacks the ability to do so himself. He simply can't / won't get through. Or, you know, he's already not killable now. This may not come up, of course, and that is totally good.

 

The thing is, you want the ball as much as possible with the PCs. This is why I'm asking why Sirikhan or Walker would kill Henslowe and kick off a chain of events that moves Job.

 

Again, though, not a deal killer. Heck, I could see Walker / Trammel intercepting Job, given the PCs have yet to visit Trammel's place. In other words, it's not that I can't come up with cool things to do, but that I can come up with a dozen, utterly contradictory things to do.

 

And I've been looking at things backwards. What do the PCs and the players feel about Job, Henslowe, and Keaton? Play to that.

 

Oh yes -- I agree with you that the Liar should not be passing on information about the PCs between cults. Go with what the human elements know. Who's talking to whom within the various cults?  What do they know?

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BenJoss

Thanks again Lisa.

 

The notes were updated just after you posted, so if you check them the Dallol incident and where we are now is all in there.

 

I agree on the Henslowe point, from an 'impact' view it would have made an interesting story beat, but you're right that it doesn't serve the cult's interests to do it.

 

I think I'm going to introduce Teake as an NPC, I want to play upon the differences between him and Keaton.  Whereas Keaton was about serving his own interests in letting them have access to Job and Henslowe, Teake won't and will be a barrier to this.  In a way, this is Teake reminding Keaton and the investigators who is in charge.

 

The players also mentioned wanting to see if there was Nectar on the streets of Savannah.  I don't want it to be as ubiquitous as it is in LA (by comparison) so I'm thinking that any trace of it will be particularly hard to find.  However, there may be a link to it via an agent that Walker has sent to Savannah to keep an eye on the Joy Grove inmates.  My thought here is that this agent has 'befriended' Nurse Hampton and has maybe introduced her to the pleasures of Nectar in doing so...does that work?  The investigators may pick up on it or may not.

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BenJoss

Well, that escalated quickly.

 

So my players have now managed to remain in Savannah for a third week, having returned there after their visit to Ethiopia.  As I mentioned above this was because they felt there were leads they wanted to follow up on.  In particular, they wanted to speak to Henslow and Job again.  They also wanted to see if they could track either the Thai thugs or any nectar there.

 

In last weeks session, things mostly went to plan and they managed to speak to Mrs Henslowe and then Douglas again, via Dr.Teake whom I introduced as a new npc.  Long story short, the players essentially revealed what Dr.Keating had been doing to keep Job at the Asylum.  Behind the scenes, I had made Teake a very proud man who wants everything done by the book.  Teake was livid at discovering Keating had let him and the good name of Joy Grove down and suspended him pending further investigation.  It should be noted that the players had also revealed the situation to Mrs Henslowe and Carrothers and as such, they had also been in contact with the Asylum.

 

When the investigators returned again to speak to Henslow they found that Keating was on 'leave' and Teake wanted to see official paperwork granting access to Henslow.  One of the investigators is a bureau agent and she eventually gathered the authorisation that she needed, spoke to Henslowe and then asked to speak to Job.

 

At this stage, I felt that I needed to ramp up the bureaucracy and the paranoia so I advised that Job had been sedated and was in no position to speak to them, so they should return again tomorrow.  It was then that Teake told the investigator that on their information and his own investigations he had no choice but to suspend Keating.  As such this would mean that with no money to keep Job at Joy Grove he would be sent back to California to face justice and the death penalty.

 

The following morning, a Sunday, two of the investigators decided to visit Keating and get his side of the story.  Behind the scenes, I had decided that the cult agent I had planted from LA had been told what was happening by Nurse Bethany.  He checked in with Walker and was told that Keating was a loose thread that needed to be dealt with, particularly if he has notes or transcripts that he plans to publish.  Walker also didn't want Keating speaking to any investigators again.

 

The cultist had therefore planted 'White Hermit' spiders into the Doctors Savannah cottage.  When my investigators arrived they found the house dark, curtains were drawn but the back door was open.  Going inside they found the body of Keating in his armchair with half a bottle of whisky.  They chose not to touch the body but looked at everything else around the house.  They call the bureau investigator, who joined them at the house and with her medical/forensic knowledge took a look at Keating's corpse.

 

This was where everything played into my hands as a Keeper but then resulted in the quandary that I'm now in.  She chose to look inside his mouth, to see if anything had choked him.  Of course, that is when one of the White Hermit spiders crawled out and bit the investigator on the finger.  The antiquitarian noted that the spider was a White Hermit and they all noted the unusual fangs.  As they did more of the spiders began to crawl from out of Keating's clothes and from the sides of the armchair.

 

In their panic, they all ran for the front door and outside.  The Bureau investigator couldn't keep it together so screamed that they needed to burn it all down (she had previously suffered an episode relating to mouths/fangs etc).  As this was a Sunday morning, on a bight Savannah day, some people were heading to church or were indoors so neighbours soon noticed the three people screaming and desperately trying to break the lock on the garage door to get to the petrol or paraffin they needed.

 

They got into the garage and one of the investigators grabbed a can, threw it in the doorway and set it alight.  More shouts from the neighbours who had, by now, called the police and another of them was standing on his veranda with a shotgun in hand.  The only thing my players could think of at this point was to run.  The Bureau agent tried, unconvincingly to make out she was chasing two criminal, but because no one stopped the neighbour with the gun fired, just missing.  Two of them ran into the gardens of the houses jumping fences and trying to find a car to steal.  The other investigator simply ran off down the road and hid successfully.

 

In the end, the police showed up and after some running managed to arrest the Bureau investigator and her companion.  The Bureau investigator was not helped by the fact she was now suffering badly from the spider poison and needed anti-venom quickly.

 

So to sum up.  I now have two investigators in custody (one in the hospital and the other at the police station) for arson, possible murder, trespassing and evading arrest.  The third investigator made it back to Savannah main town and the hotel where he caught up with his two other colleagues.  They contacted Janice Winston-Rodgers asking her to send a lawyer, advising that things got out of hand but with good reason.  They then jumped into Franks plane and headed back towards LA.

 

It should be noted that the bureau investigator is 'unofficially' investigating the Winston case.  She has a strong contact, an ex-bureau senior agent, who has a lot of sway within the bureau and who helped her to set up a dummy case to cover the time she is away.  Also, I feel that if Janice is inclined she can summon some of the best lawyers that money can buy.

 

Not know the US legal system particularly in 1935, very well, it's hard for me to work on all the options in a realistic way.  All options, of course, are on the table, but I'm looking for something interesting to keep the story moving.

 

So fellow keepers, given the predicament of my two investigators still in Savannah, how would you play this out?  

 

Thanks in advance.

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Lisa

Okay, I think what you did with Teake was brilliant. He is the obvious target, and for precisely the reason you said, which had never occurred to me.

 

I don't know the 1930s USA legal system well, and I probably tend more towards "tv law" in general, it being a rare exception when I ask a lawyer friend who has spare time what the likely situation would be. Also, you want the campaign to move forward, and I rather like encouraging the kind of roleplay where the players deliberately have their PCs screw up for reasons that make sense -- although it's a fine line between that and the point where everyone's suspension of disbelief snaps if the authorities do let the PCs go / anyone trusts them again / their patron still wants anything to do with them. You want a mechanism for introducing new PCs, but... yeah, it's often best if the same PCs are there throughout, progressively more battered in mind and body.

 

I think Janet and the ex-bureau contact can cover for the PCs -- this time. But Janet probably wants to know what is going on, and both probably want to caution the PCs that they can only do so much and have now done most, if not all, of it. Does that make sense?

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BenJoss

Perfect! That's great and reinforces my way of thinking.

 

I'm going to play it up with the two players for a bit, let them stew on what will happen, maybe add a very good but equally passive aggressive box lawyer from New York who relays Janice's feelings after they get off.

 

It's probably worth mentioning that they are thinking of contacting JWR again to ask her to subsidise Job's stay at Joy Grove to avoid him being sent back to LA.

 

Interesting to see how that one turns out.

 

Thanks for all the advice Lisa, been a real help!

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Lisa

Sure thing!

 

If Job does get sent back, have the wheels of justice turn slowly enough that by the time his execution rolls around, well -- that coincides with when his situation changes. So, instead of Joy Grove, they have to find him in an LA prison. Easy to transplant.

 

Either way, if you can keep him in contact with the PCs, that's cool -- even if it's distantly, like having them follow news about his trial / sentencing, the delays, the final decision as they're about to climb, that sort of thing. If he's kept in Joy Grove and they had anything to do with that, have him write shaky notes thanking them, maybe mentioning Ayres -- anything you can do to keep in the PCs' minds, subtly, that Job has an emotional connection to Ayres, do it. This paid off very well for me when the PCs put it all together at the end and one of them said, "Wait -- we need to pick up Ayres first."

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chicklewis

EDIT:  I did manage to find Justin's astonishingly cool book details through Google.  THANKS JUSTIN !

 

My memory may be playing tricks on me.   Eternal Lies lists eleven suggested book titles, from 'Adrift in a Storm Tossed Sky' through "The Temple of Furtea-Nya', which could be found in Trammel's Library in Los Angeles.  The list is intended to disguise the importance to the campaign of 'The Gaze of Azathoth'.  

 

It is very likely that my players will carry off and peruse each of these books.  However, I'm not really clever enough to invent interesting short or detailed descriptions of what each volume contains.  I may have seen such details in existing game aids, but am not confident of this. Has anyone created such a game aid?   

 

What did you clever keepers do to flesh-out this book list in your campaigns?

 

Thanks in advance for any advice or pointers.

 

Chick

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Lisa

What I did was encourage the players to have their PCs ship all the books in the library to an NPC to sort through -- remember, he's got a huge library and the titles listed are just a sampling.

 

So, I controlled the timing on when they got the list. I created the list by taking a couple of online occult catalogs and pruning a bit, and adding the ones from the book, and maybe a couple of others. One of the players went through the list and selected a much smaller list -- it's possible there was an extra step in there where we went from many many pages to three, but I'd have to check my notes. And there was a side step where we marveled that some of the more outre sounding titles were absolutely real.

 

I did this before the Alexandrian Remix, and I was curating not just the list but the clues very carefully -- you can find here and in the general EL thread a whole LOT of discussion about how to deal with the twist so that it didn't feel like a bait and switch on the player-GM level.

 

If you think the list would be helpful and it's not already somewhere in this thread, let me know and I can send it or re-up it here or something.

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PoC
On 16/01/2018 at 15:21, chicklewis said:

Airfields between Los Angeles and Mexico City ??

 

There was certainly an airfield in Tijuana in 1930 as the biggest aircash of the period (January 1930, 16 lost) was destined to land there.

 

For Mexico City at the time, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico_City_International_Airport#Origins, and a possibly useful map.

 

Probably not of much direct use but the Bradshaw's Air Guide in the Files section may also be worth a browse?

 

 

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chicklewis

Thanks much for the offer, Lisa, you are very kind.  It worked out fine, my players have the books and are dividing them up for perusal.  


Airfields between Los Angeles and Mexico City ??

 

My players have plenty of leads now, having just completed investigations in Los Angeles.  They have decided to fly to Mexico City.  I'm preparing to figure out where likely airfields were located back in 1935, but it occurs to me that others here have likely already done the research.  Might you be willing to share the knowledge?

 

Thanks in advance for any ideas or facts.

 

 

Chick

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PoC

I also had a quick look into airfields in those areas and posted what I'd found in a separate thread, but I've now moved my answer to above (post #246).

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chicklewis

Wow, that Bradshaw's is just fascinating, PoC, thanks for thinking of it.

 

Only a few cities in South America are connected, with zero flights listed in Central or North America.  

 

Still an eye-opening document, especially the maps at the very end of the download.  

 

It will be super useful for flying to Malta and Eritrea and Thailand.  

 

Did something like the Bradshaw's guide exist for North America?  

 

If so, I'd love to find a copy of it.

 

Did some more searching around and discovered that Pan American was the only international airline serving South and Central America in the 1930s.  

 

Then found a wonderful map showing the routes on the Pan Am wikipedia page:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_American_World_Airways

 

Scroll down to find it, double click to enlarge it, then hit the magnifying glass to enlarge it even more, THEN copy or download it.  

 

Chick

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