Monday, July 27, 2020

Call of Cthulhu Part Seven: October 13-14, 1925

October 13, 1925, Continued 

(This Officially the Longest Day Ever Until the Next Longest Day Ever)

Everyone but Ron arrives at the Judge’s house to discover that the group that went to the Silver Twilight Lodge somehow found and rescued a catatonic James Clark. Dr. Black takes the lead in his care and, after several hours, everyone worked together to feed, clean, and hydrate James. They are also able to set him up in one of the bedrooms of the Judge’s carriage house. Which happened to be Johnny's bedroom. Additionally, James is now wearing Johnny's pajamas. The nice ones.

Mikhail tries to speak to James, with limited success, as James is still mostly catatonic. Mikhail manages to, with some light verbal harassment and a Psychology roll, triggers a brief, semi-lucid episode in James, during which he screams or otherwise emotes the following:

  • James, who thinks it is the day of his disappearance,  needs to find Mikhail to warn him about something in the Silver Twilight Lodge.
  • James also needs to warn Angie about something.
  • He mentions that the third floor of the Lodge is where they are planning to do something.
  • He mentions both a Disc and something called the Arc of Vlactos.
  • He further mentions that “the stars are wrong. They are WRONG! But if they have these things, it doesn’t MATTER!”

Mikhail tries to get additional information out of James by mentioning Umr-at-Tawil, but this does little other than cause James to weep and stare at the wall.

Everyone discusses plans for what to do with James. There is concern that the Lodge will find him. There is also concern that the group lacks the capacity or resources to take care of James on their own.  Despite this, Mikhail volunteers to take care of James at his place. Johnny, rather grimly, states that he thinks that James will never recover, and that he is better off in a hospital.

In the midst of all of the chaos, Johnny finds some quiet time to look over the book he stole from the Lodge. He finds that the first few pages are written in an old military cipher, which he decodes. He learns the instructions for creating something known as a “Gate Box.”

At about this point, Ron arrives, bearing a new set of forehead stitches from his recent encounter with a lamp. The others notice that relations between Viv and Ron are frosty, at best. They try to catch Ron up regarding the James situation. At this point, those that went at the Lodge describe what they saw in the basement. Everyone is horrified.

Ron tells his story of how he went to threaten his wife’s new boyfriend at his workplace, the Good Year Cab Company. Viv realizes that Good Year, translated into Italian, is “Buon Anno,” which sounds suspiciously similar to the name of a certain dead mob boss. This causes Viv to become even more annoyed with Ron. 

Ron, realizing that he’s inadvertently threatened someone who works for the Bonano Family on Bonano Family turf, is terrified that something bad is going to happen to Connie. He gives Dr. Black his bottle of laudanum, from his recent hospital visit, which Dr. Black uses to sedate James. Then Ron makes like he's going to leave the judge's house immediately and check on his wife in Brooklyn.

He is stopped by Johnny, who patiently explains that he thinks Ron is an idiot, and that Ron also should not go visit Connie alone. Viv agrees, and says that Connie is probably safe, it’s 2 am, and that Ron can go tomorrow. Ron insists on going, and manipulates Viv into going with him. Johnny offers to drive.

Dr. Black retires to his home and goes to sleep. Everyone else decides to sleep at the carriage house, in part because it’s really late, and in part to watch over James.

A Scene Unfolds in Brooklyn

Viv, Johnny, and Ron get to Brooklyn and discover that the Deluca residence is dark and quiet. Ron gets out of the car, goes to the front door, and tries to let himself in, only to find that the door is locked and that his house key is in his other pants. After a moment, he realizes that the back door might not be locked, so he disappears into the alley that leads to the back of the brownstone.

Johnny, seeing this, grabs his shotgun from under the front seat of the car and tears off after him, leaving Viv in the car to invent new and increasingly fanciful Italian curse words. Johnny finds Ron in the back of the brownstone, muttering under his breath that the stupid back door is also locked. Johnny tells him to go back to the goddamn car, but it is at this moment that Ron realizes that the kitchen window is open. Ignoring both Johnny’s words and his pitiful attempts to manhandle him around to the front of the house and into the car, Ron hops up on a garbage can and goes shimmying through the kitchen window.

Ron walks through the darkened house, planning to unlock and open the front door to let the others in.

He is mystified to discover that the front door is already open.

Unbeknownst to the trio, Ron Jr., having heard Johnny and Ron arguing in the back alley, has grabbed one of his dad’s guns and has crept out the front door to investigate. He gets the drop on Johnny and disarms him, then starts cursing Johnny up and down. His shouting draws Ron’s attention, and Ron realizes that his son has mistaken him and Johnny for intruders. Father and son yell at one another, which attracts Viv’s attention, causing her to leave the car and investigate the noise. What follows is a, frankly, embarrassing confrontation during which Johnny fears for his life multiple times.

Ron isn’t finished! Refusing to listen to his friend, his goddaughter, or his son, he barges into the house and goes up the stairs to wake up Connie and deliver his warning to her. He learns, to his deep shame and confusion, that Connie is out for the evening. 

Again, ignoring everyone else’s advice, he opts to sleep in his own bed that night and wait for Connie to get home, so that he and she can have a “conversation.”

At this point, Johnny, needing no further urging, drives Viv home before returning to the judge’s house.

October 14, 1925

Suffice it to say that the conversation between Ron and Connie does not go well. He eventually makes it back to the Bernouse place, sporting a shiner to match his new stitches. His plans to enter the Bernouse guest house and go right to sleep are foiled by a friendly stranger, who greets him by name, and offers him a business proposition.

Everyone's Friend, Nathan Torpley

This gentleman is extremely handsome, well-dressed, and sports a yellow, silk tie with a gemstone tie pin. He introduces himself as Nathan Torpley (anyone conversant with anagrams and the Cthulhu Mythos will likely know who this chap is immediately), a person who is in the business of solving other peoples’ problems. He tells Ron that he has access to a lot of money and a lot of people with diverse skills, and he makes a point of using those resources to help people who are dealing with intractable problems.

Viv, happens to see Ron meeting Nathan from the living room window. Wondering how in the HELL some random person got onto the Bernouse property, she heads outside to investigate. She finds that Nathan somehow knows her and has seen her perform, though he explains that he is really here to talk to Ron.

Nathan promises Ron $1,000 if Ron is able to recover a jade sphinx statuette from the third floor of the Silver Twilight Lodge. Nathan explains that the statue rightfully belongs to a client of his, and that he believes that Ron has just the right sort of skills to get in and get the statue back. He also says that Ron will have an opportunity to stick it to the people who insulted his boss—a nice side bonus. He also promises that, should Ron succeed, Nathan will also direct his considerable resources to helping Ron with his “family problems.”

Ron agrees, getting half the money up front. Viv, realizing that there is another player in this weird and unfathomable game, sends Luca, one of her father’s men, to the judge’s house with a note describing the new situation.

Meanwhile, at the Home of Judge Putnam

Judge Putnam gets an early morning phone call from Carl Stanford. Unbeknownst to either of them, Kane and Johnny listen in using various extensions in the main house and in the carriage house. Carl explains to the judge that he is trying to reach both him and Dr. Black, as there has been an incident at the Lodge, and, of all the members, he trusts them the most. He asks that they come by as soon as they can, bringing with them anyone else they trust implicitly. After some discussion. Johnny, Judge Putnam, Kane Eastman, and Dr. Black all pile into the judge’s car and drive over to the Lodge. Mikhail stays behind to tend to James.

There, they meet Carl Stanford, who takes them to the library and informs them that one of John Scott’s personal note books has been stolen. Mr. Stanford blames one James Clark, a degenerate with odd proclivities, and a former Lodge member that was expelled for reasons best not discussed. The theft, he says, occurred when the judge and the doctor were in the library with him the previous evening, so he knows that they did not have a hand in the crime. Mr. Stanford asks them to recover the book and James, if possible. He further explains that he has reason to suspect that James has fled to Ashby, Massachusetts.

The judge insists on seeing where Mr. Scott kept this book. When Mr. Stanford hesitates, the Judge explains to him that seeing the scene of the crime could give him valuable information on the methods and thought process of the perpetrator. Mr. Stanford reluctantly relents, saying that he will only show them the area if they promise not to reveal what they are about to see to lower-ranking members of the order.

They agree, and are brought into the main hall on the second floor. Mr. Sanford pulls back the large curtain, revealing a concealed door that leads into a back hallway. He directs everyone up to a flight of stairs that leads to the third floor, stopping at a landing halfway up. He then opens a door to a small closet situated on the landing, where books (similar to the one Johnny stole), as well as other ephemera, are revealed.

The quartet notes that, despite all the construction material, this area looks well-maintained, finished, and finely appointed. They question Mr. Stanford about James and the missing book for a little while longer before taking their leave. Mr. Stanford says a grateful goodbye to all of them, and promises that they will be fast-tracked through the order’s ranks if they can successfully perform this task for him.

On the Way Back

Johnny notices that a car has been tailing them ever since they left the Silver Twilight Lodge. After some discussion on what to do next, the quartet decides to visit a coffee shop as a way to stall and maybe gain further information. The tailing car parks a fair distance behind them, and Johnny sees that none other than Max Reed, Mr. Stanford’s driver, is at the wheel.

Max Reed, With Whom the Players Built a VERY Antagonistic Relationship

Back at the Carriage House

Mikhail is in the process of cooking gourmet delights for James when someone presses the call button on the Judge’s front gate. Mikhail looks out the window to see Luca (whom Mikhail doesn't know) standing at the gate. Luca pushes the button a few more times but, since Mikhail doesn’t respond, he eventually shrugs, does something to the call button’s panel, gets in his car, and drives away.

Mikhail, fearing that Luca has planted a bomb, and knowing he has no easy way to warn the others, writes a warning note and wraps it around one of the judge’s paperweights. He then sits vigil by the window, waiting for the others to come back.

Back to the House

The quartet decide that they are going to allow Max Reed to continue following them, but that they are going to make like they are planning to go to Ashby immediately. Johnny drops off Dr. Black and Kane at their respective homes, before making the long drive back to the Judge’s house. As he pulls up outside to open the gate, Mikhail shouts a warning from the window before running down the drive and hurtling his weighted message over the wall.

Johnny retrieves and reads Mikhail’s message. Baffled, he looks over to the call button and sees that someone has shoved an envelope in the grill. He takes it out, opens it, and reads the enclosed letter. It’s from Vivian, warning him (and the others) that there’s a new wrinkle to worry about. Everyone laughs nervously, realizing just how on edge they all are.

At about this point, Kane, who has packed his things and taken a taxi over to the Judge’s place, asks his cabbie to stop at the bottom of the street. With duffel bag in tow, he walks up the street and “accidentally” stumbles upon Max Reed. Reed, clearly flummoxed at being discovered, makes up some half-baked story about how he had brought Mr. Stanford up this way for a meeting. Once Kane resumes his walk to the Judge’s house, Reed abandons his stakeout and drives away.

The Team Finally Gets Back Together

The Jade Sphinx

Dr. Black arrives at the Judge’s house, luggage in tow. While Johnny packs his own and the judge’s bags, someone calls Viv on the phone. After hearing what’s been going on, and confronted with the story of what happened at the Lodge, Viv and Ron make plans to drive to the Judge’s house for a group meeting, stopping by briefly at the library to look up information on the jade sphinx.

Ron is apparently a savant when it comes to the Dewey Decimal System. While looking through a book on archaeology that is mostly pictures, he finds a black-and-white plate of the very sphinx statuette in question. The sphinx was discovered in the ruins of Taq Kasra, in Ctesiphon, in a tomb empty except for a group of black candles burned down to their stubs. The statuette was in an overseas museum for many years before being stolen.

Armed with a bit more information, Viv and Ron meet up with everyone else at the judge’s house, and learn that their may be plans in the works for some or all of them to take a trip up to Ashby to “find” James and the stolen book.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Call of Cthulhu Part Six: October 12-13, 1925

October 12, 1925

After a week of various exploits, all paths once again converge on Judge Putnam’s house. Johnny sighs and makes dinner.

It very swiftly becomes clear to everyone present that Ron, despite advice given to him the previous week, has told Vincenzo what really happened to Boss Bonano. Dr. Black relates a harrowing account of a very large man coming to his office and insisting that he meet with Vincenzo. Vivian notes that her daddy was pretty mad the last few days, and rolls her eyes at Ron very, very hard.

Vivian, Dr. Black, and Ron get their stories straight about what happened that night. Ron apparently told Vincenzo that Dr. Black and Vivian went with Ron in one of the family cars, but stayed inside the car the whole time he was murdering Bonano and, therefore, didn’t witness anything.

In the midst of this, Johnny lets drop a grenade he’s been carrying. Metaphorically. He has a partial list of the police officers from the precinct who are on the take from the Five Families. It turns out that Officer MacGowan is on the Bernouse payroll.

When things finally settle down, those who became initiated in the Order of Silver Twilight relate their experiences with the meeting. Mikhail describes his expedition into the basement of the lodge, and of his suspicion that there is something secret beneath the slabs in the back room. Everyone decides that this is worth investigating.

Judge Putnam relates his visit to the Lodge to meet with John Scott, the Noble Philosopher. He describes being guided, by Scott, through a meditation exercise to revitalize his body. Scott described this as “Apportion Ka,” whose greatest practitioners could survive heart attacks, disease, and drowning, among other things.

Mikhail mentions doing more research on demonology at the library, and that it led to a book called Monsters and their Kynde, of which a copy exists in the NYPL Rare Books Section. He says that he discovered, in his research that a copy of this book was found in the possession of a Scotsman named Rory, a self-styled “Tighearna an Fheasgair,” (Lord of Twilight), who was a member of Clan Chattan. Mikhail says that the book contains rituals to extend life, summon demons, and make enchanted weapons.

After more bafflement at Ron and his decisions, everyone makes plans for tomorrow. It is decided that Judge Putnam, Dr. Black, Kane, Mikhail, and Johnny will visit the Lodge in the evening. Four out of the five are members and have keys, which will allow for easier access. They will try to help Mikhail discover the secrets of the basement.

October 13, 1925

Mikhail visit the Rare Books Section of the NYPL and performs a cursory reading of Monsters and their Kynde. He finds the book extremely disturbing. Mikhail copies down two spells: one that allows him to call forth a Faceless One (some kind of demon), and one that allows him to enchant a blade. Mikhail eyes his “borrowed” Masonic sword with magical intent.

Dr. Black and Vivian both have interviews with Vincenzo Bernouse. He seems to believe both of their stories. What will come of this, if anything, remains a mystery.

Later that night, a large part of the group descends upon the Silver Twilight Lodge. Judge Putnam and Dr. Black head upstairs to the library, where they encounter Carl Stanford. The three exchange pleasantries before settling down to do some light occult reading. Both judge and doctor independently determine that they will attempt to keep Stanford in the library for as long as humanly possible.

Kane and Johnny hang around downstairs, waiting until they are unobserved to open the back door and let Mikhail in. The three of them then  disappear into the basement. Mikhail is relieved to find that the basement is much as he left it, and that the padlock on the door to the back room remains unlocked.

The trio enters, and soon discovers a loose brick on one of the walls of the room. Johnny depresses it, which causes one of the large tiles on the floor to lift off, carried upward by some kind of mechanism. This reveals a carved, stone staircase leading down into darkness. It is fortunate indeed that Johnny has brought a flashlight. It is even more fortunate that Kane has brought two.

Cavern, Level One

Cavern, Level 1

Kane, Mikhail, and Johnny descend into a cavern deep beneath the earth. The front portion of the cavern is sub-divided with brick walls into several rooms. The trio explore these rooms and find the following:

  • A room with tables and wall pegs. On one of these pegs is a key ring. Kane takes it.
  • A well-appointed study with a locked door to another room.
    • Johnny later finds the key to the locked door taped to the bottom of one of the desk drawers. 
    • This allows him to enter another well-appointed room with a shelf containing books of various types and a large, free-standing wardrobe. Resting atop the wardrobe is a small notebook, written in code, which he takes.
  • A room where a brown-stained altar stone stands in front of a red curtain.
    • Pulling back the curtain reveals a bas-relief of a horrifying sea monster/leviathan thing, holding a sun disc and trampling the peoples of the earth beneath its feet. Kane is unbothered by the carving. The others are more deeply affected.
A tunnel leads to a much larger cavern, whose roof is supported by massive, stone pillars. The trio explore this cavernous space, though Johnny grows increasingly nervous about the ordeal. However, Mikhail hears metallic tapping coming from…somewhere…and soon discovers a spiral staircase leading down. Despite Johnny’ protests, Mikhail insists on delving even deeper.

Cavern, Level Two

The Cavern, Level 2

A long hallway opens out onto a cavern at least as vast as the one on the level above. The trio notes that there are several oubliette-like pits in the floor of this room, all of which are covered by hand-welded iron gratings.

Mikhail, of course, wants to see what they contain, and so ventures to the nearest one to shine his borrowed flashlight down into it. What they see is a misshapen humanoid figure with wrinkled, oozing skin, and an eyeless, tortured face. Despite being blind, it seems to notice the light, which causes it to “look” right at Mikhail and shriek. This causes things in other pits to scream in response, until the entire cavern is filled with this inhuman cacophony.

Johnny immediately heads for the stairs. Kane, to no avail, tries to get Mikhail to leave. Mikhail refuses, plunging on deeper into the gloom.

It is at this point that Johnny unlocks and enters the library room upstairs.

The sound of the metallic tapping is louder now, and Mikhail and Kane follow it to a row of locked cells carved into one of the cavern’s walls. Most of them are either empty or filled with human remains. The last contains James Clark. He is manacled to the wall, starving, dehydrated, and utterly mad. He is responsible for making the metallic noise, as he has been obsessively banging his shackled wrists together.

Kane discovers that keys on the ring he’s found unlock both James’ cell and manacles. Kane now insists that they have to leave, and Mikhail finally agrees. James, catatonic and pliable, comes with them.

They reunite with Johnny who is, frankly, horrified that they are bringing James along with them. After a brief argument, he acquiesces and lets them rescue James, provided that they make sure the caverns are otherwise in order when they leave. To this end, Johnny locks up the library and replaces the key, Kane hangs the ring of keys on the peg, and Mikhail locks the padlock once they leave the basement’s back room.

Once back on the surface, Johnny gives the Judge’s car keys to Kane and Mikhail, and orders them to drive James back to the Judge’s house. After they leave, Johnny tries to collect his thoughts in the Lodge's bar when he runs across Carl Stanford, who is apparently on his way to the restroom. Mr. Stanford is closely followed by Judge Putnam and Dr. Black, who are trying to keep him from roaming around the lodge with minimal success.

Johnny has an awkward conversation with Mr. Stanford before all but shoving the judge and doctor out the door. They take a cab back to Judge Putnam’s house, much to the judge’s and the doctor’s befuddlement. Once there, Johnny calls Ron and Vivian to come over right the heck now.

James Clark, Esq.

Return of the Italian Soap Opera 

While everyone else made plans to do some little basement delving, Ron buys a new dress (not for himself) and swings by his ex-girlfriend’s new apartment that overlooks Central Park. He arrives at the apartment only to find that Vivian is also there, helping Gabriella (his ex-girlfriend) unpack.

Things are weird, yet positive, at least at first. Ron gives Gabby the new dress. Gabby goes into the bedroom to deal with her feelings. Vivian wants to know what the hell Ron is doing here.

Ron asks both Viv and Gabby if either of them know Billy Young, his wife’s current boyfriend. Neither of them do. Gabby becomes  very defensive about the question, and wants to know if Ron thought that she was cheating on him with this Billy guy.

Ron says, no, of course not. He tells her that Billy is the guy who is dating his wife and suggests that, you know, maybe, since she’s single, if she wants to, that Gabby could go out with Billy, leaving Ron free to pursue Connie, his wife.

This is the exact moment when the conversation becomes completely unsalvageable.

Viv tries, numerous times, to get Ron to leave. Ron and Gabby exchange increasingly mean-spirited words with one another. At one point, Gabby becomes so incensed that she picks up a heavy, ceramic lamp and makes as if to smash it over Ron’s head. Viv steps between the two, orders Ron to get the hell out. Ron steps around her and all but dares Gabby to hit him.

So, she does.

Ron, dazed and bleeding badly from a superficial head wound, offers no resistance as Viv brings Gabby into the bathroom to help her calm down. Ron continues to shout at the pair of them through the door, while Gabby shouts at him to get out.

The kerfuffle summons the building’s elevator operator, who hears the screaming from the hallway. Just as he’s about to intervene, Ron, at Viv’s insistence, leaves. Battered and bloody, he steps past the elevator operator, descends to his car, and drives himself to the hospital.

Several hours later, stitched up and doped up on painkillers, Ron thinks it’s a good idea to find out where Billy Young works. It takes a couple of phone calls, but he works out that Billy works for the Good Year Cab Company.  Ron goes down there, in bloody clothes, with his forehead stitched up, and confronts Billy in the garage. He makes a big show of telling Billy that there isn’t anything he can do, because Ron is great and the best, and will win back his wife’s heart. Billy doesn’t do or say anything and is visibly relieved when Ron finally leaves.

Viv gets back to the Bernouse residence sometime before Ron. An hour or so later, she gets a phone call from Johnny asking her to drive to Judge Putnam’s house.  With Ron nowhere to be found, she has Luca, one of her dad’s employees, take her over.

Sometime after that, Ron gets home, changes his clothes, and finds a note saying that Johnny wants him over at Judge Putnam’s house ASAP. Ron starts the longish trip across town and will arrive at the gathering late.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Call of Cthulhu Part Five: October 5-October 10, 1925

October 5 , 1925

Note: Having talked to some of my players, I've come to the decision that I will not be posting any more BGAs or their responses. Hopefully, the write-ups will do enough explaining on their own.

After an exciting couple of days of personal research and self-arming, the group converged at Judge Putnam’s house for a party (hosted by the judge, but prepared and staffed by Johnny), and a sharing of information.

Johnny: Mentioned that he watched James Clark’s apartment for a time. While there, Maximilian Reed (Mr. Stanford’s driver) broke in. He came out shortly thereafter and locked the door with a key, but Johnny suspected that he was unable to find what he was looking for.

Mikhail: Said that he visited the Grand Masonic Lodge in New York and found what Reed might have been looking for at James’ station. He produced a silver ring, with a black stone and a silver inlaid symbol. Those who looked at the symbol pronounced it “Middle Easterny” in nature.  Mikhail also mentions that one of the Lodge brothers, Von Varnstein, is a director working with the new lodge in Syria/Lebanon to get the rights to shoot on location for his new motion picture—something about Babylon.

The Symbol on the Silver Ring

Dr. Black: His research took him from City Hall to the New York Historical Society, where he tracked down the original survey of the property upon which the Silver Twilight Lodge was built. It was once a farm owned by a “Herr Scott.” Currently, the lodge house is owned by a Joslyn Peterson, who purchased it in 1912.

Judge Putnam: Explained that he discovered other evidence that corroborated Dr. Black’s findings. He also said that he found an article about a missing infant, from about 80 years ago, in which a “Karl Sanford” was a prime suspect.

Curse you, Karl Sanford!

: Discussed the research that she, Mikhail, and Ron had done at the NY Public Library, including their findings on The Knights of Argent Twilight, a supposedly “demonic Templar order.” Vivian was also in the process of trying not to have a nervous breakdown about how weird things had become and how this was just like, “that thing with the trumpet.”

Kane: Explained that he had gained access to the Silver Twilight Lodge under the pretense of “checking out the acoustics” so that his band could play during the Lodge’s Halloween soiree. He was able to give the group a full layout of the first floor, including the locations of stairs that led up to the basement and down to the second floor.

Kane's Memory of the Layout of the First Floor 

: Tried to explain that he had visited his brother-in-law, Darragh MacGowan in the hospital, where he had been warned that “Big Grin” Bianco was looking into Boss Bonano’s untimely death. This mostly had to wait until Mikhail was out of the room. Ron was strongly advised by everyone in the group not to spill the beans about what actually happened to Vincenzo Bernouse. At the end of the night, Mikhail, a criminal trial attorney, handed Ron his card.

Final Thoughts:  The group were in agreement that something untoward was going on at the Silver Twilight Lodge. Judge Putnam told the group he had already sent his intentions to join the group, provided that they were discreet about his membership. Johnny, Dr. Black, and Kane also planned to join.  The Judge suggested that they meet again next week.

After the Party 

Kane: Kane took a drawing of the symbol on the ring to “Papa Doc” Horus, who identified it as the sigil of a particularly evil and grasping spirit. He described the symbol as, “representing the one who is the gate, as well as the one who stands beside that gate and holds the silver key.”

Vivian and Ron: After the altercation with his wife a few days prior, Ron decided to take Gabriella (his girlfriend) out of her apartment and move in with him on the guest house at the Bernouse estate.  Vincenzo was fine with this. Vivian was also fine with this.

Vivian was slightly less fine to discover, when she finally met Ron's new girlfriend, that it was her old schoolmate Gabriella Pugliesi.

"RON is the hot made guy you've been telling me about?"

"Oh yeah, isn't he just a doll?"

Later That Week

All those who were interested in joining the Silver Twilight Lodge are invited to an initiation ceremony that Saturday.  Mikhail said that he wouldn’t join the Order, but that he might use the initiation night as cover to sneak into the Lodge. The rest decided to stay well out of it, but promised to keep vigil at a nearby jazz club in case things went south.

October 10, 1925

The group that planned to join the Lodge (and Mikhail) arrive in separate groups. They meet their acquaintance, Dr. Call, who is delighted to see Dr. Black and the others. After a brief bit of mingling, most of the current members filter upstairs, leaving the group, Dr. Call, and Mikhail downstairs with Carl Stanford. Mr. Stanford instructs them to proceed through the dining room and up the stairs, where one of the serving staff will help them with the next steps.

At this point, Mikhail excuses himself to “get something he forgot” and runs outside, only to wait a few minutes and sneak back inside. Mikhail is very fortunate that everyone has gone upstairs for the ritual. More on him later.

Judge Putnam, Dr. Black, Kane, Johnny: Are escorted into a preparation room, where they are dressed in the white robes of the initiate. They are helped in this endeavor by Jack, the servant who “prepared” Judge Putnam’s dinner during the group’s first visit to the Lodge. Once they are appropriately dressed, Jack has the group blindfold themselves and says that he will escort them into the lodge, where their initiation will commence.

The group are brought into a large room to a fanfare of trumpets, where they are made to kneel. The principles of the Order of the Silver Twilight are related to them, and each of the group are made to swear an oath to support the Order. The group is taught the secret handshake, and hear various readings on the nature and purpose of the order. After this point, their blindfolds are removed and they are permitted to stand.

They find themselves before the assembled members of the Order, dressed in black, grey, or white robes. John Scott, Noble Philosopher, presides over the meeting from a dais at the far end of the room, which stands before a drape of red velvet. He wears a black robe with a gold stole.

Mikhail: While the initiation is underway upstairs, Mikhail sneaks through the empty first floor and, thanks to Kane’s directions, finds the staircase leading down into the basement. He enters a large room with a bare earthen floor and stone pillars. Annoyed that the secrets of the Lodge haven’t been revealed to him, he passes through another door into a similar, smaller room. There, he sees a secure door locked with a padlock.

Mikhail is not much of a locksmith, but he manages to pop the rusty old lock open with one swing from the butt of his gun. He passes through the door into a room where large stone slabs are set into the floor, but which have no mortar to hold them together. He checks for traps by removing his shoe and tapping it against the tiles. Once he’s sure the room is safe, he enters and tries to lift the slabs. He realizes that he is not strong enough to do this, so he escapes the Lodge and runs over to the jazz club to get backup.

Meanwhile, Upstairs: The newly initiated group have drinks and dinner with their new brothers. Johnny goes full lower class and enthusiastically introduces himself to as many of the other members as he can. He meets several new people, though only one of them, Gregori Bernaur, is even remotely friendly. Several members of the group also have run-ins with Barry Pollard, Headmaster of an all-girl’s private school and condescending racist asshole.

Judge Putnam discusses the possibility of “extending his life” with John Scott. Scott advises him to come by some time during the week. He says that he is happy to instruct the Judge on several forms of meditative exercises that rejuvenate the body and mind.

Kane talks to Carl Stanford, and Stanford is delighted to learn that Kane is interested in seeking deeper knowledge. He says that someone who is self-directed and driven like Kane will go very far in the order.

Dr. Black and Kane both notice that several of the serving staff wear rings identical to the one that Mikhail found at the Masonic Lodge.

The new members are given keys to the Silver Twilight Lodge, and are encouraged to visit and use the library any time.

Little else of note happens at the party. Eventually, the group goes their separate ways and return home.

At the Jazz Club: Mikhail explains what he found to Vivian, Ron, and Gabriella, who is also here for some reason. The rest of the group decides that they will not follow Mikhail back into the basement of the Lodge. At least, not tonight.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Call of Cthulhu Part Four: October 3-October 4, 1925

This game is notable for being the first one where I allowed my players to write up between game actions (BGAs). This is a thing that I stole from LARPing. It allows the players to conduct their own investigations on their own time and to make the game world feel bigger and more lived in. It also helped me to see what they were interested in and tailor the story accordingly.

I will henceforth be including the BGAs my players wrote in the comments at the end of each of these little recaps, for fun and for completeness’ sake.

October 3, 1925 (Continued)

The game starts with the Silver Twilight Lodge party finally breaking up. Everyone has their own adventures as they head on home.

Asks to be dropped off quite a ways away from his new place (actually, Gabriella’s place), so that he can walk home and clear his head. The party at the Lodge made him feel deeply uncomfortable and insecure, and he got way drunker on the Lodge’s illegal liquor than he was expecting.

He reaches the house, only to encounter his Darragh MacGowan, one of New York’s finest, is waiting for him. Darragh has a quirk where he adopts an Irish accent (even though he was born in the States), as a way of making others feel more at ease around him. All it does is piss Ron off.

After mocking Ron, Darragh tells him that he stopped by to warn him that Jimmy “Big Grin” Bianco, the new head of the Bonano Family, may be out to get him. Ron refuses to listen and starts taking swings at Darragh. Darragh playfully swats the first two away before he starts to get mad. Unfortunately for him, the third punch hits him square on the chin, causing a major wound and leaving Darragh laid out in the street.

Without a backward glance, Ron goes upstairs to go to bed.

Dr. Black and Mikhail
Doctor and patient have a nightcap at Mikhail’s apartment, where they learn more about one another and where Dr. Black resets Mikhail’s nose.

After the doctor leaves, Mikhail reaches into the pockets of James’ coat and finds a many-times folded piece of legal notepad paper with the words, “VLACTOS” and “TAWIL AT UTMIR” on it.

Visits his friend (and downstairs neighbor) Horus, a voodoo priest, and tells him about the Order of the Silver Twilight. Horus agrees to tell Kane what he knows, but he wants a bottle of wine first.

Judge Putnam and Johnny
Johnny feels pretty proud of himself after abandoning Dr. Black at the Lodge (he was the doctor’s ride, but he also wanted to get the hell out of there before the assault on Mikhail’s nose led to anything worse.

They drove to the carriage house, were we learn, for the first time, that Johnny lives in the carriage house on the judge’s property. Johnny helps the judge get ready for bed and then goes to sleep himself.

Judge Putnam falls asleep while reading the newspaper.

After dropping Ron off, Vivian and her father go back to the stately Bernouse residence. Vincenzo mentions that he wants nothing else to do with the Lodge. Vivian is just glad the day is over. They both go to bed.

Ignore the date.

October 4, 1925

It’s Sunday! Most everyone goes to church. Then the intrigues resume.

Wakes up late, mostly ignores his new girlfriend, despite her being very nice to him and cooking him a big breakfast.

Still bothered by last night, and by the visit from his brother-in-law, Ron decides to call his old house to see if he can talk to Ron Jr. about what’s going on. He is not at all pleased when ANOTHER MAN answers the phone.

Ron, still in his shirtsleeves, drives over to the family brownstone and forcibly introduces himself to Billy Young, his wife’s new boyfriend, who is inexpertly trimming the hedges. An inevitable confrontation between the two men (one of whom is holding gardening shears), is interrupted when Connie and Ron Jr. come back from church. Connie humiliates Ron in front of the entire neighborhood when she screams about his infidelity at the top of her lungs. Ashamed, Ron flees the scene, but not before he tells Ron Jr. about what happened on the previous evening with Darragh.

Dr. Black
Reads about James Clark’s disappearance in the newspaper. Does some investigation into medical records regarding James Clark and John Scott, but with little success. Has some tea. Helps Vivian locate Mikhail.

Judge Putnam and Johnny
The Judge also reads about Mr. Clark’s disappearance in the newspaper. Johnny remembers the “kerfuffle” in front of the Auxiliary building and links the two events. Shortly thereafter, the Judge gets a hand-delivered letter from Mr. Scott, asking him to join the Order of Silver Twilight. The duo then decides to head down to the police station for some target practice.

Gets a call from Deborah, who is with Angie. Angie is sober enough to remember what she did and wants to apologize to Mikhail. Vivian does some phone sleuthing, tracks down Mikhail, and arranges for him and the three ladies to meet at a public café. Mikhail, who looks a little worse for wear, decides to go, hoping that Angie is now alert enough to answer his questions.

Deb Walsh

Also receives a hand-delivered letter from Mr. Scott to join the Order of Silver Twilight (waiving the usual membership fee). The letter is very much backhandedly complimentary. Kane acquires wine and visits Horus, who explains that the Order, for whatever reason, doesn’t much differentiate between foreigners/people of color from their WASPy members, which is unique in these sorts of groups. He also explains that the Order may be related to the Knights of Silver Twilight, a Teutonic order similar to the Knights Templar, who were known to traffic with demons and the occult. 

Vivian and Mikhail
The meeting and apology session goes adequately. It is at this point we learn that the reason Ange’s purse broke Mikhail’s nose is because it’s where Ange stores her fully loaded .45 automatic.

Mikhail suspects that Deborah is up to something, and offers to walk Angie home (an apartment house nearby) to get her alone and get more information. He does so, with middling success. He confirms his suspicions: James had been ditching Angie for unspecified reasons before disappearing completely. He later learns that Deborah and Vivian followed him at a safe distance. Deborah leaves to go check on Angie. Vivian decides that she wants to get some more answers from Mikhail, and so invites him back to stately Bernouse Manor.
Angelica "Angie" "Ange" Hutchinson

Judge Putnam and Johnny
Johnny demonstrates that he has lost none of his wartime weapon proficiency at the rage, while Judge Putnam fails to hit anything and also jams his gun. The judge questions the duty sergeant about James Clark’s disappearance, and asks to be kept in the loop regarding the case. Johnny convinces the judge that he needs to use the restroom, then bribes the duty sergeant to get some additional details about the case.

Vivian, Mikhail, and Ron
Ron shows up at the Bernouse place, dressed up, but unshaven. He invites himself to a meeting between Vivian and Mikhail, in which the details of James Clark’s disappearance, and Mikhail’s relationship to them, are discussed. Mikhail shows off the paper that he found in James’ coat. The trio suspect that some of the words might be Persian or Arabic, and decide to head to the library to do some research.

Judge Putnam and Johnny
Realizing that various games are afoot, the Judge has Johnny hand-deliver a letter (explaining his intentions to, and conditions for, joining the Order) to the Lodge. Johnny goes to the Lodge and finds it seemingly empty. Uncomfortable with dropping off the letter, he waits for an hour in the car. An hour later, Carl Stanford arrives on the scene. The two have a pleasant chat, during which Johnny is encouraged to join the Order. Johnny drops off the letter and leaves. Meanwhile, Judge Putnam calls Dr. Black and arranges for “the group” to meet at his house tomorrow, Monday, October 6th.

Vivian, Mikhail, and Ron
At the library, they learn a few things. Thanks to Ron’s keen eye and his ability to read, they learn that symbol of the Order is tied to numerous occult groups and “New England witches.” Vivian reads up on the Knights of Argent Twilight, an excommunicated order of crusader knights known for blasphemy and demon worship. They find nothing on the word “VLACTOS,” but “TAWIL AT UTMIR” is similar to a reference on “’Umr At-Tawil,” an Arabic word inscribed on the gate of a lost city in the Sahara Desert. The phrase roughly translates to, “The Most Ancient and Prolonged of Life.”

Mikhail happens to discover a book on New York witches, which contains a newspaper clipping that discusses the death of one Johannes Scott, accused necromancer and warlock, at the hands of an angry mob in 1721. The group soon learns that Scott’s house was located in Rananchqua, the old Native American name for the region that now encompasses the Bronx. Mikhail is all set to do more investigating, but Vivian, badly spooked by what they have discovered, excuses herself and swiftly exits the library.

The article Mikhail found