Posts tagged Cthulhu

Eternal Lies – Session 16

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 20, 1934: In Axum, Eritrea, the Investigators were standing outside the home in which the body of archaeologist BARTOLO ACUÑA had been discovered. Acuña was hanging from the ceiling by his wrists, and his host lay murdered nearby. A crowd had gathered, and members of the local constabulary were questioning the Investigators about their presence there and about the fact that Chantelle Perreault had visited the house on the previous day. Dorothy Howard pointed out to the officers that trucks had just left town, presumably bearing archaeologist HUSAIN SOLIMAN and his companions.

1934 was a strange time in Ethiopia…the things you learn in these games

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 1934: The Investigators made their way back to the home of their own host, DESTA EJIGU. They noticed that the residents of Axum were eying them suspiciously and decided to make arrangements to leave town, as the constables had suggested. Their guide ABAI found them a place on a truck that was leaving town soon. Luke Davis sent a telegram to customs officer CARLO SALVATORE, in which he implicated Soliman and his companions in the murders in Axum. Chantelle sent a telegram to her estranged husband, ALEXANDRE, updating him of her movements and experiences.

The truck carried the group back to the port city of Massaua. During the trip, Abai talked with James “Tick Tock” Cohan. He offered James a job with his employers and expressed concern over the intentions of James’ companions. James declined the offer, which might have taken him to England, and he and Abai wished each other well.

Arriving in Massaua, the Investigators parted with Abai. They noticed a general tension between the Italian military authorities and the indigenous people that had not been there before. The Investigators conferred briefly with Salvatore, who told them that Soliman and his companions were being detained for questioning at the airport, thanks to Luke’s telegram. Salvatore also pointed them to a new guide, OGBAI.

Ogbai is older, more taciturn and commanding, but seems knowledgeable and competent. He speaks English, Italian, and Arabic and knows the area around Dallol, Ethiopia. The Investigators have decided to travel there in search of the remains of the 1924-1926 dig led by Acuña and missing archaeologist/cultist GEORGE AYERS.

According to Ogbai’s suggestions, the Investigators caught a boat from Massaua to the smaller mining town of Mersa Fatma. Here they approached the manager of the Compagnia Mineraria Coloniale, RENZO SEGNI. The company is largely shut down, so Segni agreed to let them use a small locomotive to travel through the harsh Danakil Desert to Iron Point, near the small village of Kolluli. Dorothy and Chantelle joined him for dinner at his home, where he insinuated interest in some sort of engagement involving them and his three wives.

Luke conferred with Segni’s capable assistant, SINUHE DJAU, who warned of bandits and of a group of Afar who have put aside a more traditional nomadic lifestyle. They have inhabited a small villager closer to the Dallol dig site, surrounded by what they call the Agony on the Wind.

https://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/eternal-lies/

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Eternal Lies – Session 14

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1934: In Axum, Eritrea, James “Tick Tock” Cohan continued to survey the street, while his companions interviewed Spanish archaeologist BARTOLO ACUÑA inside a nearby house. Tick Tock asked the group’s guide ABAI whether he knew of any strangers in town. Abai passed the question to a local woman, who confirmed that there was a group of foreigners in town, including the large angry man Tick Tock had already met.

the Investigators continued to interview Spanish archaeologist BARTOLO ACUÑA. He described the Ethiopian dig that he and missing cultist GEORGE AYERS led from 1924-1926. Their entire crew was lost when a volcano erupted near the ancient chamber they’d unearthed near Dallol. Ayers and Acuña were off site, visiting the Compagnia Mineraria Coloniale (CMC) in Mersa Fatma. Once the dig was halted, Acuña returned to Spain in exasperation, while Ayers headed back to Dallol, only to disappear. Acuña told Luke that the only possible remnants of the ancient chamber would be buried with the workers lost at Dallol.

Acuña said he’d fled Spain recently, as Franco asserted power there. He traveled to Eritrea to help remove one of the ancient obelisks here. When asked about Oxford-educated archaeologist HUSAIN SOLIMON, who also seems to be in Axum, Acuña was dismissive. In particular, he objects to Solimon’s ideas concerning door-like carvings in the bases of the some of the obelisks and the idea that they might open onto actual rooms. Acuña alluded to controversy concerning the deities to which the obelisks are dedicated, as well as the chamber at Dallol. Acuña believes the obelisks to have been associated with something called GOL-GOROTH, while the chamber at Dallol and its mouth-like inscription were emblematic of the unnamed PRISONER OF GLAAKI. Glaaki itself is a monstrous being venerated by medieval cults in England’s Severn Valley.

During this conversation, both Tick Tock and Chantelle noticed a strange man with a walking stick. He was standing across the street from the house where the interview was being held. He seemed to be watching, but was at a distance from which he could not be listening to what Acuña and the Investigators were saying. He noticed Tick Tock watching and turned to walk off. Tick Tock pursued, and the man stumbled, dropping a piece of paper. He made his way toward the field of obelisks on the north side of town, while Tick Tock stopped to examine the paper. It was a telegram from a Daniel Lowman in Bangkok, which mentioned the Severn Valley and a mysterious “she,” who seems to be in charge of the foreign visitors here.

The group made their way back to the house at which they would be bunking to compare notes and to eat. Abai joined them, at Chantelle’s request, though he would be sleeping elsewhere. He seemed nervous. He left after they’d eaten and agreed to return in the morning to show them the local sights. Chantelle followed Abai and noted that he seemed to be following a circuitous route toward the north side of town, where the obelisks stand.

Street scene from the area and time period of our adventure

At the house, the group planned their moves for the following day. Tick Tock and Dorothy prepared to go with Abai to visit local churches and to distract him from the activities of the rest of the group. Luke decided to author a fake journal, which would point possible adversaries toward sites that are not significant to their current investigations. He would work overnight and then sleep during the day while the other Investigators were going about their activities. Chantelle made ready to speak with Acuña further and to possibly feed him false information.

Overnight, an alien mouthlike opening appeared in Dorothy’s midsection. It spoke in her voice, but its words were nonsensical. The mouth disappeared, and Luke and Chantelle moved to comfort Dorothy. Their hostess came to see what was wrong and to insist that the men and women not mingle.

Early in the morning, Dorothy and Tick Tock left with Abai to see the sights. They stopped at the Axum Ministry of Culture to register as visitors. They made their way to the Cathedral of Tsion Maryam (St. Mary of Zion) in hopes of glimpsing the Ark of the Covenant, which is rumored to be here, and to keep Abai distracted.

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Eternal Lies Session 1

OCTOBER 31, 1934: The PCs (hereafter referred to as “Investigators”) were all invited to the Rogers Building, a 700’ tower in Manhattan. Janet Winston-Rogers, a young corporate executive and socialite was requesting their help in determining what drove her father, Walter Winston, into decline and death. At one time, Walter was a world-traveller and avid scholar of the unknown, but he suffered a nervous collapse in 1924.

The Investigators who attended the meeting with Janet are:

  • LUKE DAVIS, 29 y.o., American occult archaeologist, NYU. Consulted with Walter in the past. Janet is hoping he can provide insight into her father’s drive toward the esoteric.
  • DOROTHY “DOT” HOWARD, 23 y.o., American socialite and occultist. Walter served as a father figure as she began her occult explorations.
  • CHANTELLE PERRAULT, 28 y.o., . She is Walter’s secret daughter and Janet’s long-lost half-sister. Janet is hoping that she might have some insight into the part of Walter’s life that his family was unaware of.
  • ARTHUR ROWE, 28 y.o., American painter. He was the student of Douglas Henslowe, a former associate of Walter, who escaped the strange events of 1924, before suffering an emotional collapse. Douglas is the scion of an old Southern family, and artist, and socially progressive.

Janet mentioned her father’s interest in the occult and the mysterious traveling he took up as a result. Walter worked with a group who were somehow opposing “bad people,” as he put it. Apparently his efforts in this area led to some sort of disturbance in August, 1924. Neither Walter nor Douglas was ever the same after. Walter retreated to his mansion in Aylesbury, Massachusetts, where he fell into a state of depression and paranoid anxiety. He died in July of this year.

Other details that arose during the meeting:

  • Janet’s mother died in 1932. Her death may have been linked to alcohol abuse.
  • Janet recently inherited two fortunes. Her husband, Horatio Rogers died in February 1933. Then Walter passed.
  • Walter refused to discuss the events of August, 1924.
  • Over the years since then, Walter received a handful of letters from Douglas. These remained unopened until his death, when Janet decided to read them.
  • The letters from Douglas pled with Walter to corroborate a narrative about the events of August, 1924. Lacking word from Walter, Douglas (and his doctors, apparently) will never be sure of what really happened.
  • Douglas mentions the possibly meaningless loss of someone’s life. He also mentions someone engaging in immoral behavior.
  • In the last ten years, Walter felt he was being observed by unseen agents. Janet reluctantly admitted to occasional similar feelings. In particular, she noticed strange movements in the mansion’s shadows.
  • Luke Davis scrutinized the office and noticed a mouth with jagged teeth emerge from a wall. It licked its lips and smiled at him. Then it disappeared.
  • Between them, Dorothy and Luke intuited that there might be some sort of occult voyeurism at work. Locations might be “tagged” to allow someone to look in on the amorous behavior of someone else. The entire practice is reminiscent of ancient sex cults.

The Investigators agreed to help Janet determine what happened to Walter. They compared notes in Dorothy’s car, noticing another automobile, whose passengers seemed to be watching them. Janet gave them the use of her private plane, the Silver Sable, which is piloted by Frank Kearns. He is a cheerful man, who appears to have a deep devotion to Janet. After the Investigators de-briefed, he flew them to Savannah, Georgia. Janet had suggested that they go here.

The Investigators took up residence at the DeSoto Beach Hotel, just outside Savannah. Dorothy and Luke checked in with people back home, while Arthur asked a bartender about his deepest fears. Everyone set out for one of the addresses from which Douglas sent his letters. It turned out to be the Joy Grove Asylum, an institution where Douglas has lived, on and off, for the last ten years. His ancestral estate is the other address from which he sent mail. It is nearby as well.

When they left the DeSoto, the Investigators noticed they were being followed by a fairly nice car. It was full of people in suits and fedoras. It pursued them through rural, swampy territory. The Investigators pulled up at the asylum, ready to question Douglas.

My online gaming setup…tiny room, everything in reach

Another installment in a week or so…

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Account of an epic campaign (RPG, not political)

Eternal Lies 2020

I thought it might be fun and interesting to keep a record of the game I’m just beginning to GM with my Saturday group. Pelgrane’s Eternal Lies is a lengthy campaign with enormous depth, especially if you factor in a very thoughtful online community that’s grown around it. I myself have run the game once in the past, (2018-19,) and benefitted enormously from the past efforts and online counsel of other GMs.

It’s a particularly interesting time to be running the game, as I have no other choice than to put it out there online. I’m lucky enough to have a patient and stable group who’ve stuck with me as we’ve all transitioned to the internet. They are experienced, proactive players, and they’ve already done some pretty hefty gaming since the pandemic changed all our lives. I thought a running GM’s account might be especially revealing under these circumstances.

I plan to keep my updates here pretty brief, like 2-3 paragraphs. We meet once a week, so a lot will happen, even if we don’t finish. (Always a possibility when you run something of this scope.) For this go-around, I just wanted to provide a setup and a bit of context. We are running on Google Meet. Dice rolling is done by the honor system. Anyone who cheats at a Cthulhu game is robbing only themself, I think. The ruleset is a slightly modified Delta Green/Call of Cthulhu 6.0. I’ve used Trail of Cthulhu in the past—a lot—and felt I needed to clear the mental slate, if I was going to make this be fun for everyone.

To give the PCs a way in, I decided to link them strongly to the 1924 investigation. Eternal Lies takes place in 1934, and initially the PCs are trying to clarify what happened to what is essentially a past Call of Cthulhu party, who got in over their heads. I decided that this time around I would strengthen that connection by insisting that everyone have a defined relationship to a 1924 Investigator. My hope is that this approach will cut down on the “I can’t see any reason why my character would go to Timbuktu and face the Vampire Lich” objections that players sometimes run across relative to their characters’ back stories and personalities. This choice I’m making may create more complications for me than it alleviates, as I’ll have to do even more additional writing to glom everything together, but I am OK with that, if it makes for a stronger game in the long run.

Anyway, I will put up another post shortly that introduces the setting and this group’s PCs. Don’t read unless you want spoilers!

links to more info about the campaign:

https://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/the-complete-eternal-lies-suite

https://www.yog-sothoth.com/forums/topic/27178-eternal-lies-spoilers-gms-only (only available to members, but a great resource)

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