Last Thursday, the party continued on. Brian and Jeremy were not here. The rest of the gang showed up.
They were looking to find out who was Old Man Jenkins. You know, I watched Scooby Doo as a kid, and found that even as an adult, it was pretty good, as long as you were watching the episodes filmed before 1972. Something happened after 1972. Hanna Barberra screwed up the format. Shaggy became a vegetarian. Scrappy Doo was introduced. After they had the Harlem Globetrotters on for the first time, it was like the producers lost all of their collective minds.
Now, if you listen carefully, you can hear Scatman Crothers doing the voice of George Meadowlark Lemon, one of the Globetrotters. Why they couldn’t use Meadowlark? I don’t know. I happen to like Scatman a lot. He was one of those actors who showed up in a lot of different shows and movies that peppered my childhood. The Shining, Twilight Zone, Hong Kong Phooey… His voice was amazing. And he sang.
Anyhow, enough about Scooby Doo. The party were doing their best to be like Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby. Thankfully, they left Scrappy Doo at home. They started off where they left off the previous week.
Robert found himself lying on a beach, barely alive, soaked and wet… with a note pinned to him. The note said something like “5han no fly” or maybe it was something else. Needless to say, the party had no idea who or what a shann was, maybe it was 5 han, maybe it was saying that Han shot first.
I mean if George Lucas wears a tee shirt saying Han Shot First, it must be right, right? Who are we to question the revisionist twonkings of an evil genius like Lucas, after all, he made 1 and a half good movies, and forced us to watch four and a half other craptastic shit piles. He is truly the Sith lord. After all, he made one good movie, episode IV, to get us hooked. Then he made us sit through Episode V, which seemed to consist mostly of Luke Skywalker whining about being a little pussy to Yoda. Then he gave us a half of a good movie in Episode VI. I mean, Ewoks, really? Gnub Gnub! Fuck that shit.
Meanwhile, he talked his good buddy into helping him film two good Indiana Jones movies, and two crappy shit filled cannolis (the one in India and the one with the crystal skull). Then he makes us wait over a decade, almost two after Episode VI, then gives us Episode 1, properly titled “You will feel no empathy for the poorly written main characters, and you will hate Jar Jar.” Then he gave us Episode 2, properly titled “More pap and crap from the weak mind of a former almost genius”. Then he gave us Episode 3, which is more properly titled “Oh you fools, you really are as stupid as I thought you were… gimmie money” Then he sold the franchise to Disney.
This really shows how hard up science fiction fans are for a story line. Good or not. I mean, we are stupid enough to flock to the theaters for this crap. It really isn’t that different than being a fantasy fan. Think of all of the half assed pieces of crap that you watch in the theaters, hoping that it will be worth it. The Hobbit is a good example… Peter Jackson takes a single book and turns it into a franchise of three movies. How the fuck do we fall for that type of bullshit? And, it wasn’t that good either. I mean the first movie was pretty good. But the rabbits pulling a sled around besting worgs being ridden by orcs? Really? Was that necessary? Was any of the interaction with Radagast important tot he story?
So you ask, if I am that critical of these movies, what do I like? Hmmm.
The most recent Dredd movie was pretty all right. I just watched The Last Witch Hunter with Vin Diesel.. That was pretty all right also.
I kind of like Vin Diesel. He plays in a bunch of movies that I have enjoyed. Saving Private Ryan, the Riddick movies, Babylon AD… He was the voice of Groot.
I am looking forward to Blade Runner II.
I really liked Prometheus. That was pretty all right too.
Molly and I are going to see Guardians of the Galaxy II tonight. I liked the first one a lot. I am hoping that the second will be good also.
But enough about my prattling on about what I don’t like, and what I like. On to some adventuring stuff.
So Robert woke up on the beach, and found a note pinned to his lapel that said something.
The police let Jason and Jeremy go. They found out that the people who were actually on the wanted poster were captured. It was a case of mistaken identity.
The party goes to Gabriel Ward’s house. As they approach, they meet Tom Jenkins. For some reason, the party is wary of Tom. He keeps on telling them that he is a reporter in a small town, and he is looking to write about things for the paper. For some reason, the party doesn’t trust him.
Jenkins wants to know what the party is doing. They reply that they are going to Gabriel Ward’s house. He tells them that Gabriel was drowned, not murdered like the rest of the people in town were. Jenkins takes his leave. His explanation of the death is simple:
the man set out in his fishing boat alone at night, it sank and he drowned. Tragic, but it happens; this is a fishing town and such deaths are all too common. Just take a look at the gravestones in the churchyard (there are plenty for fishermen “lost at sea” if they look). Bodies are rarely washed ashore in their home port, that’s why there are so many fishermen round here with one gold earring (to pay for their funeral if they are washed ashore in a port where their body is not recognized).
Henrietta Street reaches out from the rest of Whitby, along and above the beach, nearly reaching the pier, where it is a single row of houses looking out to sea. Situated directly under East Cliff, the land here is highly unstable, and the houses at the end of the row are askew due to the ground settling. They look as though they might slip into the sea at any time. The end house is by far the worst, and this was Ward’s.
The footprints directly outside the house have mostly been obliterated but the party picks them up on the other side of the road and they can be followed down to the beach. Something has been dragged along with them.
Getting into the house itself was simple, as the door has been pulled off its hinges and only roughly fitted back into place. All other entry points are closed but in poor state of repair. Inside there is little furniture, no personal effects and the kitchen range hasn’t
been used in a long time. The bed is dirty and disheveled; it strongly (and the rest of the house generally) has a fishy, seaweedy smell. Very little has been disturbed. As there was no body, the police only took a cursory look round. The footprints are still easily visible indoors, Summer and Loren realize that they are bipedal, but not human. Summer is not affected by this knowledge, but Loren is, taking some sanity loss for realizing this. I gave Loren the chance to share the joy of sanity loss, and explain to the rest of the party, but she declined.
The party finds the broken out window from the night before. They find blood and clothing scraps mixed in with the shards of glass. The clothing craps match Robert’s clothing, and the glass shards match what Daron found with Robert’s wounds.
After a bit, the next door neighbor, Andrew Foster, comes by, wanting to know what is going on. Andrew is a fisherman, as are most of this row’s residents. He wears one small gold earring. He tells them that Gabriel was a fisherman, but always worked alone and generally kept to himself. Andrew knew him from when he was a child, but not well. He always seemed a little odd and distant; increasingly so recently. He tells them that Gabriel was always a bit unkempt, but became more so in the last few months. He seemed to be changing physically. The party wants to know what that means… Unfortunately, there was nothing written into the adventure to explain this.
Andrew is of the opinion that there was something wrong with him, some kind of encroaching deformity. On the night in question, he heard a crash and an odd, tittering sort of sound but saw nothing. He was afraid that the house was finally succumbing to the sea and hid under the bed. Some time later that night, after he had finally got into bed, he was awakened by another crash; it sounded like Gabriel’s front door coming off. There were sounds of movement in the house, and finally retreating footsteps outside. They didn’t pass in front of his house, so they must have been going the other way, towards the beach. No, he didn’t look outside then, either. It’s wise not to, he says; funny things go on at this end of Whitby. He won’t expand on this. If they ask his opinion he doesn’t think Gabriel’s boat sank, as he was an experienced sailor and it was a flat calm night, with not a cloud in the sky.
The party then went on to Elliot’s house. Thinking that they may have missed something. All they were able to do was see the body and steal the journal. They find the journal that was hidden in the previous session.
Looking around the house, they find several interesting things. In the bedroom, the bedroom door is open and the latch damaged, although the door was not locked. The key is still in the lock on the inside. The bed has been slept in, but there is broken glass all over it and the floor. The window—not just the glass, but the frame as well—has been smashed from the outside. The party knows that this is not an easy climb, as they have already tried it themselves. The bedside table is next to it, in pieces. Closer inspection revealed that the damage to it is different than simply being flung against the wall. It looks as though it has been pulled apart, an act that would take more than normal human strength. Aside from the wardrobe which contains a fairly standard set of clothes the only other furniture is a cupboard next to the bed that is tall, shallow and
empty. An Idea roll reveals this to be a gun cupboard, to which the shotgun that they found yesterday next to the body matches perfectly into the cabinet
In the landing outside the bedroom, the wall here is damaged; as though it was hit by a shotgun sell. The party finds some remains of whatever was being shot at. The party determined that whatever remains are still there are not human. The meat is white like chicken, the skin has a green color to it.
The hall reveals two more spent shotgun cartridges on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, and more biological mess on both walls next to the staircase. It seems to be the same substance as on the landing. There is also flour on the floor between the kitchen and the living room doors. The party finds one set of footprints in it from the kitchen to the living room. These tracks are also in the living room, and are from no known animal.
In the study, the party finds a bunch of common chemicals. Equal parts of powdered sulfur, powdered carbon, Borax, powdered acetic acid, and several other powders. There are also 48 small empty two ounce tins with lids on the wall.
The party also finds a handwritten sheet that says:
Cast out Shan
Contact Deep One? No!
Call for spirit of the air? Definitely not
Powder of Ibn-Ghazi—later
Voorish Sign Can “make visible the invisible” ???????
Banishment of Yde Etad—too long, too many people
The Baneful Dust (Of Hermes Trismegistus) Equal parts of Borax, powdered sulfur, powdered carbon, powdered acetic acid…
and the party realizes that this appears to be the entire contents of the powders that they found. Not knowing what any of this is, but seeing Shan, which is pretty close to 5han, or Han Shot First, or whatever the note said that was pinned to Robert’s collar was, this probably means something. What is a Shan? Who is Shan? Why would someone want to cast her out?
Now the Skientist (I am purposefully misspelling the word, since our Skientist wears pants, and is too scardey pants to mix the chemicals, yes, you, Loren…) decides that this recipe is too scary for her pants wearing skientist to mix. After all, what if it is volume based, not mass based in the recipe? What if it blows up and kills everyone. What if I get some of the Borax on my fancy pants?
So Eric steps up to the plate. The Party has one chance to get this right. One single solitary chance. Eric has 1% rating in chemistry. Eric rolls the dice. And it is awesome. He rolls a 01. Not only does he make the roll (of 1%), he crits the roll.
I searched Google for pictures of 01 on a percentile die roll. I found none. that is how freaking rare this type of roll is. Eric knocked it out of the park. Given a 1% chance of getting it right, and giving the party a fighting chance to actually finish this chapter alive, Eric did it. The “skientist” in pants wussied out, and left it up to the Romani to save the day.
It was a good thing that Eric did this. Because without it, the boss monster at the end would have kicked everyone’s ass. Loren, who is perfectly happy to fly invisibly above the battlefield and fireball the witch, was perfectly happy to keep her pants free of Borax at the expense of the party… Good thing that Eric also wears pants (or at least I think he does), and he was willing to roll those dice…
Anyhow, Loren cowered and cringed, and held up her arms to cover her face while Eric mixed the chemicals… and nothing happened. No flash, no bang, no borax spilled on pants.
The party puts the powder into the 48 metal canisters, each holding about two ounces of material. Then they try to figure out what the heck this stuff is. They throw it on the wall. Nothing. They try to light it on fire. It is stinky but it doesn’t burn well. They lick it, and it tastes like Borax, only worse.
Unsure of what this stuff is, but sure that it must mean something (after all it is rather elaborate for a red herring) they pass the canisters around to the different party members hoping that it will help at some point.
Now, as the DM, I thought of changing this up. What if I gave them 48 canisters, but only enough for 16 doses… Then they would have to figure out if the canisters were too large, or if there was another reagent, or if they were only supposed to only fill 16 of the 48… It might have been fun… If they had equally filled all 48 canisters with 1/3 the dose… that might have been devastating. But since Eric rolled a 01, a critical success, I figured that they deserved the whole enchilada.
They also found several photographs. One is cut from the society pages of a newspaper,
and gives the name Amanda Freeman-Danby, which has been underlined. The picture also includes a man, whose face has been circled.
The photos also include pictures of buildings. Everyone recognizes the photos to be of airship sheds (Zeppelin type airships). Daron, the Doctor recognizes these particular airship shes as the ones at Cardington. An early 20th century house. The house number
is clearly visible. There are also several photos taken at night of houses, several of which are blurry. I asked for a photography roll, which was failed be several players, so there was no additional information available from that.
There were also photos of a close up of footprints on a beach, taken at night
by flash. The party realizes that these are neither human, nor made by any other natural creature.
The journal includes several other pieces of information, including a list of names.
Jake Pearson, Church Street
Alex Hunt, Sandgate
Michael Green, Wellington Terrace
Steven Mason, Cleveland Terrace
Seth Gray (The address has been torn out)
Gabriel Ward ?????????.
Fisherman says probably seals, often gather at night and on the beach.
Gabriel Ward. Henrietta Street. Unknown. Same creature? Footsteps. And Staithes. Keep away from the sea.
Sam Miller Definitely Careful
Prof. Benjamin Graham, Durham. Knows more than he thinks he does Give him more information
Seth Gray, Hob Lea House, Ugthorpe.
So of course, the party wants to know all about the people on this list. Sam Miller, Professor Graham and Seth Gray are not in this part of the adventure. They have no knowledge.
Matthew bemoans the lack of detail and I explain that this might be “foreshadowing”, or helping to stitch the story together at a later date. He is having none of this. He wants immediate gratification.
The party decides to spend the night in Elliot’s house. After all, what possibly could go wrong with staying in the house of a recent murder, which has gone unsolved?
The party takes elaborate precautions. They nail in place a table over the broken 2nd floor window. They spread flour all around on the floor, hoping to see footprints. They set up watches.
In the end, no one gets a good night sleep. On the upside, no one has nightmares of being gutted alive by tree like creatures. The flour that they carefully placed on the floor to either create an elaborate gravy mix, or possibly see tracks made by attackers resulted in mice and rats coming and feasting on this. The night passes, nothing bad happens.
In the morning, the party decides to go check out Tom Jenkins’ flat. They find that he lives right across the road from Elliot. He has taken a 1st floor apartment (yes, England is funny that way, the 1st floor is the 2nd floor for the rest of the world. In England, the ground floor is the floor on the ground, and then they count up from that.)
This seems odd. After all, wouldn’t a newspaper reporter have a more established presence in the town? After talking to the landlady, a nice widower who rents out rooms to supplement her meager pension, they find out that Tom just arrived last month, just before the murders started happening. Now only the party finds this coincidental. The rest of the world appears to be oblivious to any connection like this.
They sweet talk the old widow and are allowed to search Tom’s room, which contains only a bed and wardrobe, inside which is one change of clothes.
The kitchen cupboards are empty, and the living area has only the furnishings that came with it. There are no photographs or personal effects. There is a sideboard with drawers, the topmost of which holds Tom’s only possessions.
The first item is an investigative journal, not unlike Elliot’s. It contains surveillance notes on various individuals, some the investigators never have heard of, with X’s put next to their names in black. Thereafter follows a list of the victims in date order, with red pencil through each of them.
Two party members, Loren and Matthew are outside, guarding the entrance to the house, in case Jenkins comes back. Robert is having tea with the widow. The rest of the party is up searching in the flat. All of a sudden, two nasties come up and say ‘hi”, well, maybe they don’t say “hi”, maybe they say something closer to “Rowr” They look like:
This causes problems for several of the players who do not make their sanity roll. I roll a d6 for the san loss, and find that everyone takes some san damage, but no one gets off too bad. Later, I realize that I should have rolled a d10, not a d6 for san loss, but that is OK.
The combat is brutal, nasty and short. Lucky for the party, Eric correctly made the Baneful Dust. Unluckily for the party, they have to make a successful throw roll to apply the dust on the nasty critter.
This causes some concertation by the players. They want to know why they can’t walk up and simply pour it on the beastie. I keep pointing out that they have to make a “throw” roll. the reason for this is likely that the beast is terrifying, and even if it has grappled a player and is sucking the life out of the player, it is still writhing and it isn’t interested in having the Baneful Dust just sprinkled on it.
Long story short, the combat was over in less than three rounds. The beasties attacked Eric, Matthew and Loren, doing massive damage. They also permanently lost 5 strength points as part of the attack. The beasties were bested by the baneful dust. The party was very disappointed that when after they died, all traces of them disappeared.
After the attack, the party subdued Tom Jenkins,
Yes, the picture above is of Fred pulling the mask off “Old Man Jenkins”
He is obviously off his rocker. The party deduces that he is in league with something bigger than they thought. He keeps talking about how the Shan will win, he has done his part. He has accomplished the mission that the Shan gave him, and so on. They try to get something useful out of Old Man Jenkins, to no avail.
As with all Call of Cthulhu adventures, you survive, but you still don’t know what the heck you are supposed to do.