Monday, 17 February 2020

Call of Cthulhu 9: the Wolf Within!

The Clue

Following up on clues from Session 8, the investigators traveled North to the village of Lesser Edale in Derbyshire to investigate the reported deaths there.

  • Dr. Gretta Von Flue- Parapsychologist and occult enthusiast
  • Allen Challenger- Antiquarian and dealer in forged artifacts
  • Xanathos- Drifter with a mysterious past

It's been a couple weeks since the session, and my memory is a bit foggy, but it was a highly amusing session, at least for your humble Keeper.

Here are the highlights of the investigators' escapades:

  • Insulting the local Constable
  • Beating up an innocent clergyman
  • Almost getting lynched by the townsfolk, women and children included
  • Being thrown in the castle dungeon with a comatose lass from the decadent nobility
  • Performing a Mythos ritual to obtain a prescient vision of the
    party being torn to bits by the lass-turned-werewolf
  • Summoning a Byakhee from Outer Space to break them out of prison
  • Fleeing town in the middle of the night in the local constable's police car

Much fun and sanity-point loss was had by all!

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Call of Cthulhu 8: London!

Following Session 7, the party travelled by Steam Boat to Southampton and then train on to London, arriving January 25th and checking into the Savoy hotel near Waterloo Bridge.

Mike bought a local tabloid called The Scoop, with stories of Lizard People and three headed babies. They noted that the publishing house is located on Fleet Street, not to far from the Hotel.

Party Members:

  • Dr. Gretta Von Flue- Parapsychologist and occult enthusiast
  • Allen Challenger- Antiquarian and dealer in forged artifacts
  • Michael Hunt- 45 year old dilettante in search of diversions
  • Rachel Hemingway- Journalist and Writer 

On the morning of the 26th the investigators decided to check out the Penhew Foundation, near the British museum, as it appears in multiple clues. The foundation is dedicated to research in the area of Egyptology. They ended up perusing the Library and finding a surprising monograph citing multiple primary sources indicating that prehistoric Egypt was ruled by a magic-wielding king called the Black Pharaoh.

They interviewed Edward Gavigan about the Carlyle Expedition and Jackson Elias, claiming to be there to complete Jackson's book posthumously. Gavigan shared what knowledge he had, but mentioned that the Foundation's late namesake, Sir Aubrey Penhew, took all the expedition's records with him to Africa. He then spent the afternoon giving the party a tour of the Foundation's collection.

When the party started asking uncomfortable questions, and Mike refused to be evaded, they were shown roughly out of the building. Mike forced his way back in and made a diversion while Gretta and Allen snuck into the supply room. They found a secret room with spell components and mythos artifact shipments to Ho Fong Imports in Shanghai and Randolph Shipping Company in Port Darwin, Australia. They stole some books, spells, and two silver daggers, before breaking out and fleeing into the night.

In the meantime, Michael and Rachel regrouped at the Hotel and went to visit Mickey Mahoney at The Scoop. He turned out to be a collaborator of Jackson Elias. He didn't know much about Jackson's scoop, just that he was nervous and left London in a hurry. He showed the party three news articles that had interested Jackson. Rachel ended up selling him a story from their adventures in New York.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Rules for Zombie Dreidel

So here's a little Hannuka themed game, born while sitting around a table at a Hannuka-themed Bat-Mitzva party with members of my gaming group. It's inspired from Steve Jackson's Zombie Dice. It makes for a light holiday-themed party game.


The Original d4
You are Macabees, resisting the Greek(Seleucid) conquerors. Each time you roll the dice, you go to battle!


You will need a pile of 8-10 dreidels, and a writing implement/smartphone to track everyone's score.


Whoever gets to 8 points first wins!

Your Turn

Turns go around the table. On your turn, roll 3 dreidels like dice, representing the next 3 Greek warriors facing you!

  • Gimel- you defeated your opponent, get 1 point
  • Hey- you scored a hit on your opponent, get 1/2 point
  • Nun- you and your opponent are still facing off
  • Shin(or Pey)- your opponent scored a hit on you
Put your points on one side, and the hits against you on the other. The Nuns go back in your hand. If your opponents score 2 hits on you, your turn ends and you lose any points you gained this turn!

If you survived your first turn, you must choose to either
  1. Tactical Retreat- write down the points you gained this turn, and pass to the next player
  2. Continue Fighting- leave the Gimels, Heys, Shins you rolled on the table. Pick up the Nuns you rolled and more dreidels from the pile for a total of 3 and roll again!
The real Hannuka battle is one of willpower!

You can choose to keep pressing your luck and Continue Fighting until you win with 8 total points or you get two hits against you, in which case you lose any points scored this turn. My personal advice- quit while you're ahead! Remember, the real Maccabees won with Guerilla tactics!

Have a happy holiday and don't eat too many Sufganiot!

Monday, 9 December 2019

Call of Cthulhu 7: Front Page News

January 18th, following up on last session, the party decided to give a second look at the artifacts they got from the cultists.

Party Members:
  • Dr. Gretta Von Flue- Parapsychologist and occult enthusiast
  • Allen Challenger- Antiquarian and dealer in forged artifacts
  • Michael Hunt- 45 year old dilettante in search of diversions
  • Artie Gumshoe- streetsmart private eye
  • Dr. Warren Bedford- Professor of European History
  • Rachel Hemingway- Journalist and Writer

 Mike was brave and decided to try on the High Priest's garments. Upon putting on the Wooden Mask, his pupils grew and he fell down with a sort of seizure. He had a vision of Yog-Sogothoth which left him shaken with horrible knowledge. The only thing that saved his sanity was Dr. Von Flue's immediate ministrations. He was left with psychosomatic limb loss effecting his trigger fingers for the next couple months.

Besides that, they figured out that the copper bowl is used for a Send Dreams ritual, and the sceptre is a sort of magic-enhancing wand.

On the 19th the investigators took a couple taxicabs to Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn for Elias' funeral. All of New York's upper crust had turned out to see off the best-selling author.

Lietenant Poole met them and told them to keep a look out and perhaps go out of town for a while. Some nasty people are looking for them, perhaps in connection to something belonging to the cultists.

A blonde reporter asked Mike to meet later in a local Tea Room and he assented.

The party noticed some cultists spying on them. They shot up their car, making a big scene at the funeral, but the cultists got away.

Allen Challenger & Gretta tried intimidating Erica Carlyle but her bodyguard intervened.

Dr. Bedford tried shooting a gravedigger so he could reanimate Elias' corpse but ended up getting murdered by a cultist.

The party recouped and drove to the Tea Room to await the rendezvous with the blonde reporter. She ended up sweet-talking Mike and getting all the juicy gossip about the Elias murder.
On the 20th, the party found Mike and Gretta's photos on the front page of the New York Times. A rather embellished account of the party's misadventures was included. Now the cultists know who they are!

They visited Jonah Kensington, publisher of the late Jackson Elias. Jonah shared a note from Elias as well as some of his notes:


The party spend the rest of the day preparing for their voyage to Southampton tomorrow

Monday, 11 November 2019

Call of Cthulhu Session 6: Party Crashers

We pick up on a Wintry morning, January 17th on the old docks in New York City. Gretta is shipping Denato's remains back to Brazil. In one hand, she holds the telegram from the Federal Police, requesting the return of his body. In her other hand, she holds a note from Jonas Kensington informing her that Jackson Elias' funeral will be held the morning of January 19th in Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn. She said a few words about the brave Detective and watched the steamer pull away.

  • Dr. Gretta Von Flue- Parapsychologist and occult enthusiast
  • Allen Challenger- Antiquarian and dealer in forged artifacts
  • Artie Gumshoe- streetsmart private eye

The investigators started the session with some some phone calls:

They called Erica Carlyle's associate Bradley Grey, wanting to reschedule Denato's missed meeting. They were less successful than Denato at convincing him that they had embarrassing information about Erica's brother, so he demurred from arranging a new meeting. He did let slip that Erica is due to attend a charity banquet tonight at the Excelsior Dance Hall.

They called Detective Poole about the car found idling at the scene of Jackson's murder. He asked the investigators to come in and talk with him. They were followed by suspicious characters on the subway, but lost them at the Police Station.

The investigators told Detective Poole about Denato's murder in Harlem. The quick Lieutenant connected it with the shooting yesterday, but was not aware of the scene under the curio store. He asked the party to take him to the scene of the crime. Regarding the car found at the scene of Jackson's murder, it was a stolen car owned by a Thomas Witherspoon, stolen while it was parked on Lenox Ave.

The drove with the Lieutenant and a couple constables back to the Curio store. They found the place boarded up so the Police broke-in. Downstairs they observed the blood-stains and fire damage, but the place had been cleaned out, including the pit-monster. Allen stole a bulky wood Masai Shield that he found upstairs. Lt. Poole went to question the neighbors about the Curio Store while the party agreed to check in with him later.

The party decided to crash tonight's banquet in an attempt to meet Erica. They quickly headed out to shop for clothes to wear. Artie managed to find a really great outfit(credit check +10).

They arrived at the Excelsior to see guests arriving in their Limousines, being greeted by a priest with slicked-back hair. The sign said "Fundraiser for the Children of Africa". They eventually snuck in through the back entrance, convincing the maitre d they were delivering an African Shield to be auctioned to charity.

Gretta danced with an elderly financier. She used her reputation to get him to introduce them to Erica. Erica was also familiar with Gretta's work. They discussed the Children of Africa and Dr. Huston. When the conversation shifted to Erica's brother and his expedition, she got uncomfortable.

They also spoke to the priest, Reverend Pat Stephens. His mission had actually hosted the Carlyle expedition for a night. He described some of the expedition principals. He described them as a strange group. Carlyle and M'Weru were clearly together and he seemed quite infatuated by the beautiful Kenyan native. Dr. Huston seemed to be in a daze much of the time. Patty Masters was as beautiful as her reputation said, but seemed sick.

Next morning, they called Harvard Librarian Miriam Atright. She is a big Jackson Elias fangirl and wanted to help. She reported that Elias had sought a book called Africa's Dark Sects(which the party now have in their possession). The book had been in the Library's collection, but had disappeared a few months back. An unspeakable odor had lingered for several days after the book's disappearance.

The players bought fare on a steamer to Southampton leaving the morning of January 21st, planning to follow their leads in London. It's a 4 day trip, assuming fair weather...

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Call of Cthulhu Session 5: Terror in Harlem

Picking up we left off last time, the party met up in the lobby of the Waldorf the morning of January 16, 1924 to plan their next step.

  • Detective Donato dos Reis- hardboiled Brasilian police detective
  • Dr. Gretta Von Flue- Parapsychologist and occult enthusiast
  • Dr. Warren Bedford- Professor of European History
  • Michael Hunt- 45 year old dilettante in search of diversions
  • Dr. Milka- medical doctor with a shotgun
  • Dr. Thomas Thompson- surgeon and occult enthusiast
  • Ms. Carmella Bates- jazz musician with gangland ties
  • Brad Johnson- Golfer/Businessman

They are waiting to hear back from the police and to meet up with one of Erica Carlyle's associates. For now they decided to follow up on the Emerson Imports lead.

This brought them to a subway to Harlem. Carmella ended up finding them a guide. At this point the party split with half of then following the guide and the others continuing on to 137th street in search of Silas. (Except for Dr. Milka who got lost in the subway and wandered off).

Carmella et al ended up eating Good Voodoo soup in a Hatian restaurant and hearing local street musicians on their way to 137th. Meanwhile, Donato, Michael, and Warren had a run in with the Bloody Tongue.

The three couldn't find the store, but noticed some shady-looking locals watching them. Michael, ever the murder-hobo, blasted a guy with his shotgun. Fortunately, the guy turned out to be a cultist. Unfortunately, he had a lot of friends. The three ended up surrounded by knife-wielding cultists and were soon tied up in Silas' basement...

When Carmella and the others arrived, the neighborhood was in an uproar over the shooting. They ditched their guide, Brad knocked out the cultist guard with a golf club, and they entered Silas' shop. They found the secret trap door, descended the stairs, and heard voices behind a heavy wooden door...

A Face of the Chakota
Jumping back to the scene of the first group's capture: Silas sent a couple messengers out(to call the priest of the cult). He began interrogating Michael, then showed him the creature in the pit when he refused to answer. Michael managed to hang on to his sanity. When he dragged Denato to the pit, the cop broke his bonds and attempted to grapple the cult leader. The heroic detective went down under a flurry of cultist knives!

Jumping back ahead to the rescuers' arrival: they busted open the door and came out guns blazing. Only Silas and the priest were there and they were easily dispatched. The party then opened the screen at the back of the room where they were met by the dead eyes of their friend Denato and several other zombies. After ineffectively shooting them, they lit them on fire and fled. Brad and Dr. Thompson lost some sanity from the experience.

The investigators discovered the cult's private stash of artifacts:
  • High priest's robes
  • Lion's Claw Gloves
  • Africa's Dark Sects book- from which several party members learned the Create Zombie spell
  • African Devil Mask
  • Burnished Copper Bowl
  • Wood Scepter
  • Metal Headband

The investigators left the horrors of the Ju Ju House, having saved two of their friends and having dealt the Cult of the Bloody Tongue a serious blow. On the other hand, the creature in the pit was left unmolested and no cult members were interrogated to find out why they had murdered Jackson Elias...

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Heart of Cthulhu

A quick note about the first three sessions of our Call of Cthulhu campaign:

This last adventure was based on Don Coatar's adventure The God of Mitnal. It's a high-quality adventure for a fan-published work, but I found it a bit bland, with all the occult setup coming to nothing and explicit advice to go easy on the investigators. I was thinking how to spice it up and I thought of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. 

I always enjoyed Heart of Darkness, but found the climax to be, well, anti-climactic. After this descent into the semi-mythic underworld in the dark heart of Africa, our narrator finds... Kurtz dying of Malaria and the natives really bummed out about it. I'm sure there's some deep postmodern message in that. No quest object or beloved Eurydice awaits our Hero's at the end of his quest. It was all for naught as there is only a great void at the Heart of Things. That's a powerful theme but makes for a dull plot point. What was rally lacking there is for our narrator to find Kurtz at his prime just as he's about to perform the great ritual to awaken Cthulhu from his eons-long slumber! The ritual goes wrong, Kurtz is left shattered, he is loaded onto the river boat. Denouement continues from there. 

So in that spirit I made Kimbel the Kurtz character. Our slippery gun-runner has met his match in the form of the crystal skull of Au-Puch. He has spent too many hours staring into it's owlish eyes and with the loss of his sanity, it has persuaded him to perform the ancient ritual to break the seal and release Au-Puch, an ancient Cthonian deep under the ground. Unfortunately, Donato's Judo skills foiled that plan before things could really get interesting.