This is the beginning session of the first chapter from Masks of Nyarlathotep. If you need to catch up, all the other posts are on this site.
In game terms, this follows a number of years after the Peru introduction scenerio so I gave the players a chance to advance their characters based on what they had been doing over the years inbetween.
1921 – 1924
After the events in Peru, the new friends of Jackson Elias each headed to their own different parts of the world. They all had their own share of the riches salvaged from the pyramid.
Elias, returning to New York, published the exploits in Peru as “The Hungry Dead” and kept in touch with each of them, sometimes calling on them for assistance in his travels.
James McTavish headed back to Scotland. He spent the next few years studying Archaeology and history in an attempt to understand more about the events in Peru.
Robert Bolan became the chief distributor for Elias books in the UK, even hosting him as part of a tour to promote “The Hungry Dead”. He was also determined to learn how to defend himself incase something similar ever happened again, so took up firearms training.
Guido Constanza used his money to learn to fly so he could travel more easily around Peru, helping out the poorer areas. He also studied forms of mesmerism for reasons known only to himself.
Knut Gerbil returned to Princeton to write several well respected papers on Mathematics.
Pranit Singh Dhillon, in keeping with his faith, gave away most of his money. He kept enough to allow him to travel to war zones around the world where he assisted with medical services.
1925 – January 5th
Four years later, early in 1925, McTavish, Bolan, Constanza and Singh each received a telegram from Jackson. He asked them all to meet him in New York on the 15th January as he had important information about an expedition to Egypt that had vanished a few years before. Gerbil, being in the US, received a phone call from Elias. He was told he should gather the others and meet him at the Hotel Chelsea, Room 410, at 8 p.m. Elias sounded worried and even a little frightened, something that was uncharacteristic of him.
Each of them traveled to New York as quickly as they could, with Bolan and McTavish meeting up to travel together.
Part 1 – My knife slipped
New York 1925
New York has been brought to a standstill with a two-day snowstorm on January 2, followed by a fresh storm ten days later. Most of the city is under a heavy blanket of snow, with the roads blocks, railways covered and the sidewalks covered in snow.
They managed to gather at The New Grand Hotel at Broadway and 31st Street in South Manhattan, only a few blocks from the Chelsea.
On the 15th, they headed to the Chelsea and arrived at 7:30pm ahead of time and making their way up to room 410. Knocking on the door met with no reply. Listening carefully, there was possibly a faint noise within but after a short pause and another firm knock there was still no reply. McTavish decided there was a problem so proceed to give a heavy kick to the door. The lock broke apart with hardly any pressure and he barreled into room which was in darkness. From the dim light coming through the hotel window, he could see two figures turning towards him. One in the centre of the room and one climbing out of the window onto the snow covered fire escape.
As he entered the room he felt, rather than saw, the blow that narrowly missed his head from the 3rd person in the room who had been behind the door.
Gerbil was next through the door and instantly went for the light switch. Flicking it on, the room was bathed in weak light from the single bulb. The two men in the room were black while the one climbing out of the window was whites, each of them were dressed in shabby suits and wore a headpiece with a strip of red flannel protruding from the forehead. Brutal looking knives sat tucked into sashes around their waists and hands moved towards the hilts of each ones.
Wasting no time, Constanza charged forward and swung his club into the chest of the one in the centre of the room and there was sickening sound of breaking ribs along with the heavy expulsion of air from the mans mouth.
Singh lept for the man climbing out of the window and drew a deep slice in the mans back with his knife.
Bolan, hovering near the door, pulled his pistol that he’d been training with and called out to the room for everyone to freeze. However his voice was lost in the noise of fighting and nobody noticed.
Gerbil, following Bolan lead tried the same trick, pulling his imported Luger from his jacket but again, nobody heard him.
McTavish was locked in a viscous hand to hand fight with the man who had tried to attack him. They traded blows with each one managing to land hits on each other. McTavish, schooled in brawling on the streets of his native Scotland, finally managed to get the upper hand and brought his fist down squarely in the middle of the attackers face with a crack. The man slumped to the floor with a grunt, McTavish standing over him and wiping blood from his own wounds.
Constanza’s club connected again and snuffed his targets life out with another hard swing.
Meanwhile, Singh had physically subdued his target, who was cursing and swearing, and dragged him roughly back into the room where they all took the time to survey the scene.
The room was ransacked. Clothes, papers and other items had been tipped up and thrown about the room but that wasn’t the most shocking thing. They gathered around the bed in the room. Lying on his back with his eyes glassy in death and a grotesque symbol carved in his forehead, was their friend Jackson Elias.
Singh put his knife to the throat of the man he held and demanded to know why they had murdered Elias. The man, in a thick New York accent, told Singh exactly what he could do with that question along with a few other colourful suggestions about what they could all go and do with themselves, their mothers and their sisters. His blood boiling at the sight of Elias’ mutilated corpse, Singh pointed out to the man, they had his friend as well and carefully slit his throat before letting his body drop the floor.
Casually reaching down, Singh takes the head dress from the twitching corpse and, after examining it, pocketed the rough fabric headpiece.
Aware of all the noise, Gerbil quickly darted to the door and checked the corridor. A few floors down he could hear shouting while several faces poking out of doors which quickly disappeared when he looked up and down. He pushed the door closed but couldn’t lock it, the smashed lock was now useless but it held shut with the shattered pieces wedging into the frame.
Bolan and McTavish began to search the room and found a number of interesting items that the three attackers seemed to be trying to escape with. A letter addressed to Roger Carlyle, a business card for an Edward Gavigan, a matchbox for the Stumbling Tiger Bar, a photo of a yacht with some chinese junks in the foreground, a business card for Emerson imports with a name scribbled on the back, a letter to Elias from a Miss Atwright from Harvard University and finally, a flyer advertising a lecture by a Professor Anthony Cowles.
Gerbil could hear heavy footsteps coming up the stairs, suddenly there was a heavy banging on the door shouts of ‘POLICE! OPEN UP!’ They all turned to escape out of the window, fearing to be caught in a crime scene. As the door was pounded again, Bolan, the last to leave, tripped and fell over the scattered items on the floor. As he rose the door burst open and two uniformed police officers came into the room, pistols drawn. “FREEZE BUDDY!” one of them yelled and Bolan raised his hands in surrender.
The two officers secured the room, removing the pistol from Bolan and carefully checking the bodies on the floor. The unconscious attacker was handcuffed, along with Bolan. They hadn’t seen anyone leaving and by the time they had carefully checked, the rest of the group had made good their escape and was heading back to the hotel.
After a wait that seemed to Bolan like forever, a a heavy-set man in a neat but poorly fitting suit arrives. The two officers greet him as Lt Poole and give him a run down of the events as they see it. One explains he saw Bolan making a run for the window when the came in and how they found the three corpses lying in the room, along with the one unconscious guy by the door.
“It looks a lot like the other murders from last year, Lieutenant.”
Poole walked around the room, pausing to examine the mark on Elias’ forehead.
“Did you do all this?” Poole asked grimly.
“We had come to see Jackson Elias and found him dead with these men in the room.” Bolan blurted out.
Pooles head snapped round. “We? Is this guy a friend of yours?” He pointed at the dead white man with his slit throat.
Bolan stammered out that he hadn’t seen the man before. Poole eyed him carefully then told one of the policemen to go get the receptionist. When she came up, she confirmed she had seen Bolan and some other men arrive at the same time.
“OK pal, start talking. You say you came here by yourself but she says otherwise. You break into the room and single handedly kill two guys and knock out a third.” Poole eyed up Bolans size and looked back at the door.
“You got a lot of muscles for such a little guy. Plus you came packing heat but didn’t need to use it. I think you and I had better have a little chat down the station.”
Turning to the police officer left in the room he gave orders for nothing to be touched until the photographer turned up.
“OK limey, let’s go find a nice cosy room down at the station, where we can have a talk.” Poole led Bolan away and took him to the local police precinct.
After over an hour of questioning Poole finally released Bolan after saying he had nothing on Bolan but would be watching him.
“Something’s not right with your story, you’re not telling me everything but I’ve got nothing to hold you on besides being at the crime scene. You had no blood on you and I don’t believe you have it in you to take out three guys single handed. You’re up to something and I’m goin’ find out what. Get outa here ya mug.”
Bolan scurried for the door and as he left the precinct, he saw the 3rd attacker from room 410 being led out of the building by a couple of police officers and a plain clothed man but he wasn’t able to get a good look at them.
Heading into the cold night, Bolan made his way back to the hotel through the snow.
The next morning, the group gathered for breakfast to plan what to do next. While reading through the morning paper, there was a brief article by Rebecca Shosenburg about the murder of Elias.
McTavish, taking note of one of the items they found in room 410, phoned Harvard University and manages to speak to Miss Atwright who had written to Elias. He pretended to be following up on Elias’ request for a book and Atwright checked the details. Elias had asked for a copy of Africa’s Dark Sects but their copy mysteriously disappeared from the Widener Library several months before Elias requested it.
By “mysteriously,” she means that one day it simply vanished. “There was an unspeakable odor in the collection the day we noticed the Sects book was missing.”
Thanking Miss Atwright, McTavish asked if she could try and find down another copy, to which she said she would let them know. He then tried to track down information about Professor Anthony Cowles, another lead from a leaflet one of the men in 410 had tried to steal. Phoning the Schuyler Hall at New York University, McTavish was told that the Professor had given a talk recently but had gone back to the Miskatonic University where he was in residence.
Deciding to split up, Bolan, Constanza and Gerbil headed to the police station to try and find out what was being done with Elias’ body. McTavish and Singh went to the New York Library to do something…
Arriving at the Police station, Bolan asks duty officer at the desk about the body recovered last night. Phoning up for the detective in charge the officer asks them to wait and shortly after, Poole arrives and grunts in annoyance at seeing Bolan.
“You again. What do you want now?”
Bolan inquires about the body of Elias and what is happening to it. Poole, annoyed by Bolans questioning, tells them the body is being dealt with by Jacksons publisher, Jonah Kensington.
Over at the Library, McTavish and Singh spent a few hours digging through newspaper articles. They managed to find a few, all written by Shosenburg, relating to a series of murders around New York. In the descriptions, each of the victims had all mutilated with a symbol carved into their foreheads, similar to how they had found Elias. A more recent article described how the police arrested Hilton Adams who is now on death row awaiting execution.
The two groups meet back at their hotel later in the afternoon to try and figure out their next move.