Friday, May 28, 2021

Tales from a Distant Galaxy


Now that the Kickstarter for Boldly Go! has finished, I am hard at work on some other projects. One of these projects is tentatively titled A Distant Galaxy, which uses roughly the same rules system as Boldly Go!, but which is set in a world reminiscent of another popular sci-fi franchise.

To be fair, it is actually set in universe that is a nice mélange (if you will) of several sci-fi franchises. Which means that I have either avoided lawsuits or have invited all the lawsuits.

The draft rules for A Distant Galaxy have been finished for quite a while now, and my first playtest of the game was at Metatopia 2019. I haven't been able to get much playtesting on it since then, because of the pandemic, but yesterday, some friends of mine had openings in their schedules and we were able to sit down for a bit of the old virtual gaming!

It actually went very well, and the rules seem to mostly work. Things went well enough that the players wouldn't mind playing again, which is always a heartening thing to hear. 

Some highlights on the game, as well as some notes on the setting, are below.

The Setting

Humans spread out across the galaxy ages ago, aided in their endeavors by their little robot friends. Some humans were able to keep their DNA strands relatively intact over the thousands of years that followed. Many couldn't and wound up genetically adapting to new situations and environments. They're still human, they just look a little bit different.

Explorers attempting to travel past the galaxy's edge returned with tales of a strange "frequency" that, when attuned to, allowed practitioners to draw upon the latent energy that permeated every lifeform in the galaxy. Practitioners of this discipline soon came to refer to the frequency as the source of all life, and so dubbed it, unimaginatively, "The Source."

In time, the humans and new humans all united into a vast galactic empire, aided by their robot friends, their advanced technology, and their mastery of the Source. Some of the most prominent users of the Source were the legendary Solar Knights, who were held in very high acclaim until about a century ago. At that time, it was learned that the Solar Knights, who desired peace in the galaxy, had been subtly manipulating humanity with their Source disciplines in order to promote certain behaviors and quash others. When they learned this, the people revolted, disbanding the Solar Knights and driving them to the far corners of the galaxy. 

Though the people gained their freedom, many were much less altruistic when left to their own devices. Corruption and avarice spread.

Such issues might have been survivable were it not for a new production line of robots known as the "Automata." On the first day of their activation, they went rogue, murdered the Empress of the Galaxy and her court, and destroyed the Imperial Capital World of Kanolphan. The imperial citizens rallied and, after a long and costly war, drove the Automata to the furthest edges of the galaxy.

In modern times, the empire is rather quickly coming apart at the seams as warring noble houses fight for political control and scavengers pick at the fringe systems. Robots, once the companions of Humanity, are now widely distrusted for the Automata Betrayal and are no longer manufactured.

The galaxy is becoming a wilder and more dangerous place, where adventurous people, deluded citizenry, and criminals struggle to live and survive as the cracks in the infrastructure widen.

Dramatis Personae

Rex Manoo

A true human mercenary who is incredibly sexy and has a large fan following.

Lyra Sylph Erevan IV

A new human noblewoman from an ancient world of Loud Hedonists. One of Rex Manoo's biggest fans.

Liriak Khron

A true human from KolVor, a peaceful core world devoted to learning. She is a brilliant, but constantly tired pilot. She was hired by Lyra in her quest to seek out and befriend Rex Manoo.

Ket Tunan

A new human shuttle driver from an apocalyptic world of factionalized biologists. He wound up involved in the gang's previous adventures and who is just along for the ride.


Our heroes are eating in a space diner on a spaceport on a lonely moon. They have been there for some time while their ship was undergoing extensive repairs. They didn't have the cash to repair their ship themselves, so they borrowed money from a Very Nice Lady.

An orange-haired gentleman with an eyepatch saunters into the diner and introduces himself as a business associate of the lady. He says that, in return for the ship repairs, the heroes will take a shipment to Algo X.

PLAYERS: What's in the shipment.

GENTLEMAN: You don't need to know that!

They eventually agree. The gentleman departs.

KET: I *think* that man was a *criminal!*

LIRIAK: Really?

Meanwhile, Rex goes over to the spaceport kiosk to get some additional provisions.

REX: I think I'm gonna buy some handcuffs.

LYRA: Oooh, ReeeEEEEeex. I didn't think you were into that.

REX: Oh. Uh. I also buy some throwing weapons.

ME: You get three kunai in clamshell wrapping. They're a genuine "SPACE NINJA" product. The mascot is a ninja in a space helmet.

The heroes get into space. They are pursued by three mysterious ships, which they manage to elude thanks to Liriak's skillful piloting. Once they're sure that they've lost their new friends, Rex decides to open the box. 

ME: You see a robotic arm coming out of the box. It is currently grabbing Rex Manoo by the throat and lifting him off the floor.

REX: Aargh! Gurgle!

A fight ensues! Lyra fries some of its circuitry with her stun pistol and makes it drop Rex. Liriak attunes to the Source, gives herself incredible strength, and tears the robot's arm off. Rex decides *not* to throw a grenade and instead shoots it with his blaster rifle. Ket gets in a couple of good whacks with his powered wrench!

During the battle, Rex's player loses connectivity with Discord!

REX: I'm back, did I miss anything?

ME: I don't think so, no.

REX: Okay. The robot that I shot. Is it still a problem?

ME: Thankfully, no. However, it seems as though the other pair of mechanical hands is...

REX: OTHER pair of mechanical hands?!

ME: Okay, so you did miss something

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Mob War Part 4: June 9, 1926

Ron Goes to the Pokey

Ron is transported to the police station and booked. Mikhail and Kane arrive shortly thereafter to help him. Kane does quite a good bit of fast-talking, managing to convince the arresting officers that he is Mikhail’s paralegal.

As they are going to talk with Ron, a young man in a very nice suit approaches Mikhail. The man introduces himself as ADA Springer, who will be the prosecuting attorney in Ron’s murder case. He tells Mikhail that he would like to speak to Ron and his defense team as soon as possible.

The meeting is soon arranged and, while Ron, Mikhail, and Kane all dine on sandwiches and police station coffee, ADA Springer explains the reasoning for his meeting. He says that the evidence will easily allow him to charge Ron with Murder One, but he is willing to drop the charges down to Murder Two, or even Manslaughter, provided that Ron cooperates with him. The meeting quickly ends when ADA Springer says that all Ron has to do is turn state’s evidence against the Bernouse Family. ADA Springer tells Ron to think about it a little longer, as he’s due to be arraigned by a night court judge in a few hours’ time.

ADA Springer Makes an Offer Ron Can Refuse

The Arraignment

AKA: Geoff Uses 30 Years of Watching Law & Order.

Ron’s arraignment is quite speedy, and seems to have involved ADA Springer pulling strings to get a judge out of bed and back into the courtroom to preside over it. Mikhail enters in a plea of Not Guilty for Ron, while ADA Springer officially charges him with Murder One. He then requests that Ron be remanded, without bail.

Kane launches into a lofty speech about Ron’s character and his ties to the community, stating with 100% certainty that Ron will not only not be a flight risk, but will remain in the city and behave himself until the trial. The exhausted judge questions Kane and, upon learning that the man is merely a paralegal, orders him to sit down and shut up.

Mikhail rallies, however, and manages to get Ron’s bail set at $10,000—a princely sum for 1926, but still well within the London Group’s means. Mikhail also informs the judge that Ron, still sick and weak from his use of the Ouroboros Ring, asked for medical care during his arrest and has not yet received it.

The judge, wanting to end the hearing as quickly as possible, orders ADA Springer and the police to have a doctor visit Ron in the Tombs, where he will remain, pending bail.

Mikhail is presented the people’s discovery documents and reads them. He learns that Judge Bartlett—a name that is familiar to him—is going to be presiding over Ron’s trial. Mikhail remembers that Judge Bartlett was also the judge who reversed Judge Putnam’s injunction on Look to the Future.

At Judge Putnam’s

While Ron’s criminal drama plays out downtown, the remainder of the London Group try to figure out what to do next. Numerous plans, many of which involve Mythos sorcery, are floated and then almost immediately discarded as being too dangerous, too impractical, or both.

Kane and Mikhail return later that evening and discuss what happened at the police station. The group realizes that they have enough money to pay the full amount of the bail, and Judge Putnam authorizes Mikhail to take a cashier’s check for $10,000 down to the courthouse the next morning.

Mikhail also tells the group that Judge Bartlett will be presiding over the case. Several of the other members, especially Vivian, suspect that this is no accident.

The Tombs

Ron is evaluated by a doctor, who can find nothing obviously wrong with him. Ron then demands his one phone call and calls Vince. The two have a very, very frosty conversation that leaves Ron demoralized and possibly ashamed.

Ron's New Home...At Least for a While

Thursday, June 10, 1926

This morning, the Society section of the newspaper mentions a soiree that is to be thrown this coming Saturday evening at a theater downtown. The theater is in the process of being renovated thanks to a generous donation from James Bianco, who is hosting the soiree to raise additional monies for the theater.

The London Group, realizing that this might be their chance to strike at “Big Grin” and Anne Chantraine, start thinking about what they could do to use this social gathering to their advantage.

Mikhail Dimathias, Esq.

Mikhail spends the wee hours of the night and morning reading up on the details of the case. He learns that one of the key witnesses to the crime is the doorman of the building in which Gabriella Puglisi resided in. He also learns that the People plan to call numerous other witnesses, including Ron’s wife, Connie.

Mikhail also learns that Ms. Puglisi’s autopsy was conducted by Dr. Manson, a city forensic pathologist. Realizing he needs to double-check these findings and gather further evidence, Mikhail deputizes Dr. Black and asks him to pay a visit to the Coroner’s Office.

Once that’s done, Mikhail pays Ron’s bond and has him released. He accompanies Ron over to the guest house at the Bernouse residence, where Ron is currently living. Both men notice the inconspicuous, unmarked police cars parked out front. Ron is ordered to remain in the house as much as possible, and to call the police department if he plans to go anywhere or do anything outside. Mikhail leaves Ron to stew in his own juices.

Mikhail is about to go over to Central Park, to interrogate the doorman at Ms. Puglisi’s building, but is by Kane Eastman calling out to him from the lawn of the Bernouse house. It turns out that Kane had, without telling anyone else, came over to inform Vincenzio Bernouse about Ron’s case. Kane tells Mikhail that once Vince discovered that Kane was merely a “paralegal,” he demanded to see Mikhail right away.

The Bernouse Estate

Mr. Potafiori, Finally Recovered from His Ghost Attack

Things are quite tense around here in the wake of Ron’s arrest. Luca is being run ragged on various errands, Mr. Potafiori seems desperate to talk to Vivian about something, but is also afraid to approach her, and the air is thick with unpleasant tension.

Mikhail and Kane’s meeting with Vince goes surprisingly well. The head of the Bernouse Family is not happy, but he seems to take everything that Mikhail and Kane tell him in good stride. Mikhail notes, to his dismay, that when he brings up the doorman a significant look passes between Luca and Vince. After a moment, Vince shakes his head. Mikhail takes this as Vince sparing the doorman an ugly and anonymous death—at least for now—and vows to question the man the moment it is convenient to do so.

Vince tells everyone present that he is, unfortunately, unable to help Ron directly at this time, for a variety of reasons that he doesn’t discuss further. He says that he would very much appreciate it if Kane and Mikhail could “do their best” to get Ron acquitted. He also, asks them to tell Ron that he likes him a lot and that he hopes he’s okay.

After Kane and Mikhail leave, Vivian arranges to relax in the kitchen for the rest of the morning and to “put on a pot of coffee just in case anyone needs it.” She speaks to Luca, who is relieved to have some time away. She also speaks to Mr. Potafiori, finally, who tells her that he has been looking over to the Future’s ledgers and has found several payments from the group to Judge Bartlett. This confirms Vivian’s already deep suspicions.

Central Park

Mikhail stops by Gabriella’s apartment (and the murder scene) to talk with the doorman. She finds him friendly and somewhat talkative. The doorman tells Mikhail the following facts about the case:

  • Ron visited on the morning of the murder and left about an hour or so later.
  • Ron visited the building several times over the last few months.
  • The doorman knew Ron was paying for Gabriella’s apartment.
  • There was an altercation, several months prior, between Ron and Gabriella, which resulted in a broken lamp and some blood on the carpet.
  • Ron seemed fine when he left.
  • Ron was dressed in a new suit. 

Mikhail also learned that an Italian the doorman had never seen before—one Fredo Albanese—visited Gabriella sometime after Ron left. He stayed for only a few minutes and left quickly.

Mikhail, now realizing that the doorman has provided him with at least some circumstantial evidence that could lead to reasonable doubt, proudly and happily walks around the corner and back to his car. He notices a strange flickering light from down an alley behind Gabriella’s building and goes to investigate.

The flickering light turns out to be an assailant cloaked by an invisibility spell, who blocks Mikhail’s retreat from the alley and tries to assassinate him with a silenced pistol. Mikhail calls for help, but no one comes. He then attempts to stab his assailant several times, to no effect. At last, Mikhail pulls out his .45 automatic and fires a blessed bullet into his attacker, who both dies instantly and becomes visible. Mikhail notes that he is a young, shabbily dressed man with curiously empty pockets.

Mikhail’s single gunshot draws quite a bit of attention, and soon onlookers and police officers arrive at the mouth of the alley. The officers on scene arrest Mikhail, who offers no resistance. They take him downtown, question him, and let him go once it seems like Mikhail was the victim of a “mugging gone bad.”

A Photograph of Mikhail's Attacker

The Coroner’s Office

Dr. Black makes an appointment to see Dr. Manson, one of the New York City coroners. Dr. Black arrives at the Coroner’s Office shortly thereafter, to find Dr. Manson in the midst of eating his lunch. The coroner continues to eat noisily while he produces Ms. Puglisi’s body and personal effects for Dr. Black to examine.

Dr. Black looks over the body and the autopsy report and finds that all the evidence is consistent with Ms. Puglisi being brutally strangled to death. While Dr. Manson chomps on his sandwich, Dr. Black inspects the bruising around Ms. Puglisi’s throat and notes that there is an unusual circular indentation on the side of her neck.

When investigating Ms. Puglisi’s personal effects, Dr. Black notices that, among the evidence in the paper bag, is a pair of large, bloodied shears, which she was holding in her hand when the police discovered her body. Dr. Black is worried that these scissors will implicate Ron at trial, and decides to do something about it.

He sends Dr. Manson out of the room to get him a cup of coffee and then does the following things to tamper with the chain of evidence:

  • He drops the bloodied scissors into his doctor’s bag, replacing them with one of the many pairs of scissors strewn about the Coroner’s Office.
  • He borrows an inkwell and some wax paper from Dr. Manson’s lunch and uses both to get an ink impression of the circular mark on Ms. Puglisi’s neck. He discovers a shape—something that looks vaguely like the letter Y—in the middle of the circular mark.

He manages to do all of this just before Dr. Manson returns with the coffee. At this time, Dr. Black drinks, thanks Dr. Manson for his hospitality, and suggests that they go outside of the Coroner’s Office to get food the next time they get together.

Catching Up

Dr. Black, Vivian, and Kane meet up with Judge Putnam and Johnny to discuss what they’ve learned so far. Vivian identifies the mysterious symbol that Dr. Black found as being an imprint of the lodge ring worn by members of the Order of Silver Twilight. Vivian supposes that whoever strangled Ms. Puglisi a) wasn’t Ron and b) was wearing the ring backwards, so as to hide their cult affiliation more easily. Vivian also makes known what she has discovered about Judge Bartlett, which leads Judge Putnam and Johnny to make a social call at Judge Bartlett’s to gather evidence.

Do You Remember Me? From the First Chapter? I'm Back! Hi!

At Judge Bartlett’s

The judge and Johnny are received rather warmly at Judge Bartlett’s by both the judge himself and by his manservant, an older gentleman named Seymour. Seymour and Johnny, realizing that they have a great deal in common, nod at one another in long-suffering understanding.

The two judges take tea in the living room and engage in easy conversation. Though they have known of one another for many years, they have never become properly acquainted until now. Judge Putnam thanks Judge Bartlett for his hospitality, and goes on to explain in greater detail what happened surrounding his injunction of Look to the Future. Judge Bartlett is quite sympathetic, and says that he would have likely done the same thing in Judge Putnam’s place. Judge Bartlett goes on to discuss about how awful “those Italians” are, descending into racial slurs and saying that they’re, “even worse than the Irish.”

While the judges talk, Seymour invites Johnny back into the kitchen for some commiseration. On the way, Johnny passes through a hallway lined with publicity pictures, featuring Judge Bartlett smiling with many members of the New York City political and cultural elite. Johnny notes, to his utter lack of surprise, that one of the pictures shows Judge Bartlett smiling and shaking hands with James “Big Grin” Bianco.

Once they have reached the sanctity of the kitchen, Seymour says that his last name is “O’Brien,” that Judge Bartlett knows this, and that the judge constantly puts down the Irish, in part, to keep Seymour in his place. He then offers Johnny some wine from Judge Bartlett’s personal store, which prompts Johnny to slip out to the car and bring in a nice bottle of champagne that Judge Putnam stows there as an impromptu gift, in case one is ever required.

The two manservants drink, chit-chat, and play cards, using pennies and nickels as ante. After Johnny purposefully loses to Seymour for several games, he casually takes a $50 bill out of his wallet and puts it on the table.

Johnny explains, in a roundabout way, that he’s looking for information on Judge Bartlett’s involvement with “Big Grin.” Seymour replies, in a roundabout way, that he is fine with taking Johnny’s money and reporting back to him with anything he learns about the judge. The two men smile, and the money disappears from the table.

Then, moments later, Judge Bartlett rings a bell to summon Seymour so that he can fetch Judge Putnam’s and Johnny’s coats so that the two of them can depart.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Mob War Part 3: June 9, 1926

Early in the morning of June 9th, Dr. Black takes Judge Putnam to an out-of-the-way hospital. Both the judge and the doctor receive blood transfusions, restoring their vitality after the byakhee attack and Dr. Black’s rather unorthodox magical use. The two men go home and finally get some rest.

The London Group is very busy the next day, mostly with meetings. The following occurs.

Mikhail and the Mob

Mikhail realizes that he might be able to get leverage or information against Big Grin and his new lady friend. He calls in a favor and replaces the public defender on an assault case featuring one Cecilio D’Agostino (AKA Cecil “The Hammer”). Cecil is a low-level enforcer for the Bianco Family, who was picked up after some Russian guy named Boris Novak got his face smashed in with a hammer at a speakeasy. Oddly enough, Big Grin is not sending a hot shot lawyer out to defend Cecil. Hence his asking for a public defender.

Mikhail meets with Cecil at Rikers. He learns that Cecil didn’t do it, but is copping to the charge, anyway, in order to do a favor for Big Grin. Mikhail learns that Cecil was at the speakeasy when a “new hire” of the Bianco Family, one Adam Dellinger, attacked Boris. He goes on to explain that there are now two factions in the Family: the old hands, who are all traditional mafiosi and who report to Big Grin, and the young guns who are not mafia and who are surprisingly loyal to Big Grin’s new girlfriend, Annie.

Cecil goes on to say that Dellinger, along with several other of the young guns, have been tasked with tracking down, “seven people that Miss Annie don’t like in particular.” Dellinger was at the speakeasy at the same time that Cecil was, and was asking around for someone named, “John Dukakis, somethin’ like that.” He refused to take no for an answer, which led to the fight with Boris, which led to Boris getting his face smashed in.

Cecil indicates that he’s willing to do a nickel for the assault charge because it means making it look like the Bianco Family is still a normal outfit, instead of revealing that Dellinger did it and admit the worse sin that Bianco can’t seem to control his own men.

Mikhail promises to defend Cecil, provided Cecil tells him more about Anne Chantraine. He learns that Anne appeared on the scene relatively recently and wormed her way almost instantly into Big Grin’s good graces. There’s a lot of concern amongst the old guard that she’s calling the shots now, and they’re worried.

Mikhail leaves with quite a good bit of information, including that it seems like Anne Chantraine has marked all seven members of the London Group for death.

Ron and Viv and the Mob

Vincenzio Bernouse has Gotten a New Actor, Apparently!

Early in the day, Ron meets with Vince and tells him that he thinks he murdered Gabriella Puglisi. He then goes on to tell Vince that he thinks that he’s pretty sure where Big Grin is getting his money from now, as he and Viv found the ledger from Look to the Future.

This caused Vince to become apoplectic, swill down some bourbon at an alarming rate, and order Luca to get Potafiori on the phone and get his ass down here right now. He also tells Luca to fetch his daughter, Vivian, who is practicing violin upstairs.

Everyone assembles in Vince’s office and endures an uncomfortable meeting of Vince chewing them out. Ron gets yelled at because he’s supposed to keep Viv out of the family business. Potafiori gets yelled at for colluding with Vivian about the ledger and not telling him where it really came from. Vivian gets the least of it, but she still gets an earful from her father about how, “she’s supposed to be the good kid and have a better life, and Jesus God!”

Vince further goes on to say that Ron needs to cool it and lay low for a while. He says that there’s rumors going around that Bianco can’t control his men, and that his new enforcers are just kids with guns who don’t know or care about omerta. Vince says that it would look very freaking bad if word got out that Vince can’t control his men either. He tells Ron that he is not to act on any impulses that he has, and if he does get impulses, he should have Luca sit on him.

After the meeting, Vivian takes Ron aside and yells at him for telling Vince about the origins of the ledger. She says that she gave that ledger to Potafiori and told him, “not to tell Papa where it came from.”

Ron is cowed. It doesn’t last.

Judge Putnam and the Attorney General

AG Ottinger is Tough on Crime!

Johnny drives Judge Putnam to his meeting fateful meeting with Albert Ottinger, the New York Attorney General’s. While driving, Johnny tells the judge that he has done some research and is concerned that Judge Putnam may be slowly transforming into a ghoul. Johnny begs the judge not to eat blood and to especially not eat the blood or flesh of human beings. He tells the judge to try and hang on to his humanity a little longer while he works on a cure.

The judge seems to take this all a bit too lightly for Johnny’s comfort, but promises to obey him in any case. They soon reach the Attorney General’s office, and Judge Putnam goes in for his meeting.

Attorney General Ottinger is a hard-nosed Republican who is cracking down on crime. He is disgusted at the judge’s extralegal injunction of Look to the Future’s assets, and embarrassed at how bad the judge’s overreach makes the New York court system look. He demands that Judge Putnam explain himself.

Having worked out with the rest of the London Group what he was going to say, Judge Putnam calmly recounts his partially accurate tale to the attorney general. He explains that he was repeatedly threatened by mysterious forces, including within his own house, to the point where he feared for his life. He goes on to state that these forces, which he assumed were organized crime in nature, were asking him to perform certain legal favors for him that he wasn’t comfortable with. He froze Look to the Future’s assets at the request of these forces before fleeing the country, fearing that he would be killed. He only dared come back once Judge Bartlett had reversed the injunction.

The story is woven well enough to convince AG Ottinger of the judge’s good character. He asks Judge Putnam to fill out a sworn affidavit so that he can build a case against the people who were threatening the judge. Judge Putnam replies that he is glad to do so, filling out all necessary paperwork and pointing the finger at the Bianco Crime Family. He then has Johnny drive him back to his home on Staten Island.

A Visit to an Old Friend

"Always Happy to Help Dumb White Boys with their Dumb White Problems"

Upon their return to New York, Johnny stops by Kane’s. He tells Kane of the judge’s ghoulish condition and explains that he knows how to make an elixir to cure him. Johnny says that he received this recipe from none other than Professor Armitage at Miskatonic, whom Johnny called out of desperation. Unfortunately, the elixir requires three rare herbal ingredients that Johnny doesn’t know how to get. He was hoping that Kane could take him to meet his friend, Papa Doc Horus.

Kane is happy to do so, but first asks Johnny to procure some fine wine from the judge’s stores. With offering in hand, they go to Horus’ place for Johnny’s first meeting with the voodoo priest. The three share the wine, discuss the judge’s condition, and go over Johnny’s ingredient list. Papa Doc says that he has one of the ingredients (morning glory seeds), but that the other two are rarer and harder to come by. He says he could probably get it in a week, for the right price.

At this, Johnny produces the judge’s checkbook. He balks slightly when Horus asks him for $100, but fills out the check and forges the judge’s signature anyway. Horus promises to get back to Johnny soon.

At Judge Putnam’s

The London Group reconvenes at Judge Putnam’s place. The group has a lot to discuss, including: the fact that Anne Chantraine is gunning for them, that Ron definitely did murder that lady, that Papa is very upset, and other things.

The group laments not knowing terribly much about Anne Chantraine. Ron, reflexively, wonders if the Many-Faced Stranger can give them useful information about Anne. This causes him to activate the Ouroboros Ring, nearly die from the casting cost of the summoning ritual, and collapse on the rug in Judge Putnam’s parlor.

As the others hoist him onto a sofa, Vivian removes the Ouroboros Ring from Ron’s hand, wraps it in a handkerchief, and tucks it away on her person.

We Have to Stop Meeting Like This! Hee Hee!

Moments later, there is a knock on the door. Johnny sighs and goes to answer the door, where a very smug Nathan Torpley stands waiting.

What follows is a very frenetic scene that is amusing for some, terrifying for others, and very annoying for Johnny. The judge’s put upon domestic servant pours drink after drink for Nathan Torpley while the eldritch abomination partially answers whatever questions are put to him.

They learn quite a bit more about Anne Chantraine, including that she is a member of the Order of Silver Twilight and that she was Carl Stanford’s long-time girlfriend. They also learn that her goals are similar to his and, thanks to a possible slip of Torpley’s tongue, that Stanford might somehow still be alive somewhere.

The group also gets their suspicions confirmed that the Order of Silver Twilight is entering the next phase of their plan on Easter Island. When the group says that, “we melted down two thirds of the R’lyeh Disc, so that’ll stop them,” Torpley says that the Silver Twilight still has a piece of the disc, which may be enough, especially since they have recovered the shards of the Arc of Vlactos.

Dr. Black, furious at Torpley’s hubris, demands to know just what the amulet Ron buried at his new cult site is supposed to do. The rest of the group tries to prevent Dr. Black from waking the ire of the Avatar of Nyarlathotep. Nathan Torpley just laughs.

Torpley soon grows bored with the conversation and departs. Ron, whether as a delayed reaction from his summoning of the Many-Faced Stranger or as a result of the stressful conversation with Nathan Torpley, pukes on the rug. Johnny rolls his eyes and fetches a mop and bucket.

Kane’s Trip to the Bathroom

During this whole scene, Kane—perhaps as a result of all the wine he drank earlier, perhaps out of a need to escape the fearsome presence of Nathan Torpley—ducks into the bathroom to relieve himself. As Kane washes his hands, the bathroom mirror darkens, obscuring his reflection. When it clears again, he finds himself looking into a well-appointed library, where Anne Chantraine is standing, dressed to the nines as a flapper.

“Finally,” she says, with a smirk. “And here I was starting to think you were the least vain member of your little group. I have a proposition for you, Kane.”

Anne tells Kane that she respects him as an adversary and an intelligent man. She further tells him that she thinks, of all the London Group, killing him would be a terrible waste. She tells him that she’s making a one-time only offer to, “join the winning side.” She says she will give Kane one day to think about it.

The mirror swiftly returns to normal. Kane exits the bathroom to tell the others.

Cheese It, The Cops!

As the group discusses Kane’s encounter, Johnny tries to both contribute and mop Ron’s vomit off of the judge’s very expensive rug. He doesn’t get very far before the doorbell rings.

This time, it’s one of Judge Putnam’s new security guards, who tell Johnny that the police are here with a warrant for Ron’s arrest. Johnny (perhaps a touch too eagerly) permits the cops to enter the premises.

The two police officers seem not to care very much at all about Ron’s weakened condition, and begin to harass him and harangue him to get up. Mikhail plays the lawyer card and manages to get the officers to back off. Slightly chastened, the cops support Ron as he struggles to leave the judge’s house under his own power. They then bundle him into the back of their car and take him downtown.

Mikhail gets in his own car to meet Ron at the police station, while the rest of the London Group plans their next move.

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Mob War Part 2: June 8, 1926

Cleanup on Aisle Three

Let us spare a moment to detail the cleanup events after the massacre that occurred last session. Johnny drove down the team’s truck to dispose of the bodies and to pick up the pieces of the Disc of R’lyeh. Ron parked the dead mafiosi’s cars in various places on the Atlantic City boardwalk with the keys in the ignition. Dr. Black mopped up afterward.

June 8th

Early in the afternoon of June 8th, the London Group convenes at Judge Putnam’s.

Ron shows up an hour late, looking discomfited and wearing a brand-new suit. He asks Dr. Black to tend to a rather nasty, ragged wound in his abdomen. Dr. Black does so, noting that the wound could have been made by a dull knife or a pair of scissors. Vivian shoots Ron several, “What the *$#@ did you do, Ron Deluca?” looks, but no information is forthcoming.

A short time later, Mikhail arrives, breathless, from his investigations at the New York Public Library. He informs everyone that Anne Chantraine is, based on his research, a 300-year-old wizard, and likely cut from similar cloth as Carl Stanford.

Looking Pretty Good for 300

Once everyone calms down a little bit, Judge Putnam tries to focus the group’s attention on more practical matters. He informs everyone that he has a meeting with the New York District Attorney tomorrow, likely about his freezing of Look to the Future’s assets. The group works with the judge to create a credible story as to why the judge would do such a thing. Eventually, they settle on the documented facts that the judge has been attacked in his home, the recent mob war, and similar, to show that the judge has been trying to stop the mafia, and that the mafia has retaliated.

Meanwhile, Johnny has had enough of the disc pieces and wants to get rid of them permanently. Fortunately, Kane Eastman had a similar thought. For the cost of a few bucks, he has gained temporary access to a warehouse on the east river that contains some smelting equipment. He tells the group that they can use the warehouse starting at 10 pm that evening, and that the equipment should be sufficient to melt down the disk.

Phone Calls

Throughout these conversations, the judge’s house gets a series of phone calls. Judge Putnam, desperately trying to be a more modern man, has been practicing answering his own phone. Johnny lets him answer all of these calls, not without a trace of amusement.

The first call is from Luca to Ron. Luca informs Ron that the cops have been at the Bernouse place looking for him. He informs Ron that it might be better to turn himself in than to wait until the cops find him, especially now. After this conversation, Ron makes some vague excuses, tells his friends that he has to “see a guy about a thing,” and quickly leaves the judge’s house. Johnny is tasked with driving Vivian home later, which he is happy to do.

The second call, which comes about forty minutes later, is from a Detective Kavanagh of the NYPD. He is looking for one Ron Deluca, and has heard that he sometimes associates with Judge Putnam. The judge tells Kavanagh that Ron left quite a while ago. The detective thanks him and hangs up. The group’s earlier suspicions that Ron has been involved in something shady are now confirmed.

The third call, which comes about forty minutes after that, is from a desk sergeant at one of NYPD’s many precincts. The sergeant is looking for Mikhail, because one of his clients has requested an attorney. That client? Ron Deluca.

Where Ron Went

When Ron left Judge Putnam’s house, he went to his brother-in-law Darragh’s house and not, as one might expect, to the police department. Darragh’s wife was none-too-happy to see Ron, and told him that, no, Darragh wasn’t there, and that he was, in fact, upstate with his sister and his nephew, who Ron had earlier convinced to flee the city.

The conversation ends abruptly with Ron’s sister-in-law slamming the front door in his face. He leaves, only to notice a NYPD patrol car drive up the block, make a U-turn, and then drive back toward him. Ron realizes that the jig is up and, for once, decides not to fight it. The uniformed police officers tell him that he needs to come down with them because they need to ask him a few questions. Ron accepts, but immediately proclaims that he wants a lawyer.

Fortunately, Ron has Mikhail’s card and a coupon from Mikhail in his pockets. The desk sergeant calls Mikhail.

Let’s Split Up

Back at the judge’s house, Mikhail bids the group farewell and drives down to the precinct to represent his new client. Everyone else helps Johnny load the disc pieces into the truck and makes plans to get to Kane’s rented smelter as soon as it becomes available.

The Interrogation

Detective Kavanagh

Down at the precinct, Mikhail and Ron have a few minutes alone together to get Ron’s story straight before they are interviewed by one Detective Kavanagh.

Kavanaugh starts out attempting to ascertain Ron’s whereabouts for earlier in the day. Ron mentions that he was in Queens, where he bought a suit. As Kavanagh’s questioning continues, it becomes clear that he is more interested where Ron was earlier in the day. Ron mentions that he was at Central Park earlier in the day. As the questioning continues, Ron reveals that he went to visit his friend, Gabriella Puglisi, who lives in an apartment there. 

Satisfied with how the interrogation is going, Kavanagh leaves the room for a bit. Ron and Mikhail huddle. Mikhail is certain that something has happened to Gabby, and that Kavanagh is trying to put the blame for it on Ron. Ron confesses to Mikhail that he did go to see Gabby, just for a conversation, but that he blacked out and he doesn’t remember most of the visit.

Mikhail and Ron decide to use a similar stratagem to the one suggested for Judge Putnam—blame it on “Big Grin” Bianco. Bianco knew that Ron had a previous association with Gabby, and knew that Ron would take the fall for it if something happened to her, so…

Kavanaugh returns a short time later with a manilla folder. In it are pictures of Gabby, deceased, in her apartment, a pair of bloodied scissors by her hand. Mikhail and Ron recount their prepared statement, and, based on this, Kavanagh lets them both go. For now. He advises Ron not to leave town.

At the Smelter

Johnny drives up to the small warehouse and backs the truck up to the front door, so that it’s easier for the group to carry the disc pieces inside. Johnny remains seated in the truck, cradling his future gun, and watching for any signs of intruders.

The rest go in and, fortuitously, find some instructions that allow them to turn on the smelter. The group soon realizes that the melting point of gold is much, much higher than they expected, and so they sit around and wait, watching the crucible as the gold slowly heats up.

Johnny sees no people around anywhere, but does see a large, ominous shadow pass overhead. He gets out of the truck and hefts his future gun as a byakhee screeches and dives down at the truck. Johnny opens fire, riddling the byakhee and causing it to spray silver-black blood everywhere, but does not kill it. The byakhee lands and grapples with Johnny, who tries to fight it off with the butt of his future gun.

Everyone inside the warehouse hears this commotion. Vivian, realizing that the sky has seen her and is moving against her huddles in a corner and has a panic attack. Judge Putnam and Kane race outside to help Johnny, while Dr. Black minds the smelter.

A pitched gun battle occurs outside by the truck. The byakhee, overwhelmed by the group’s impressive firepower, releases Johnny, tries to retreat, but collapses in a decaying heap against one of the other warehouses. Relieved at their relatively easy victory, the group congratulate one another and light up celebratory smokes.

And then Johnny spots another shadow looming overhead.

The second byakhee swoops down, seizes Judge Putnam, and savagely bites him in the shoulder. The group open fire on the creature—including Vivian, who has recovered enough to take pot shots at the byakhee from the door. The creature shrugs off the initial onslaught and takes wing, hauling Judge Putnam up with it into the sky over the East River.

Judge Putnam realizes that the byakhee is feeding on his blood and is rapidly depleting his strength and vitality. Realizing that two can play at this game, the judge calls upon the bloodlust that he gained from drinking too deeply from the fountain in the Nameless City and savagely bites the byakhee’s chest. He feeds on the byakhee’s blood as the byakhee feeds on his, all the while Kane and Johnny desperately fire up at the judge’s abductor from below.

Some Old Friends from Beyond Time and Space

The Cavalry

Released from the police department, Ron and Mikhail take Ron’s car and head over to the warehouse to see how the rest of the group is doing. They arrive on the scene to see the second bykahee flying overhead, keening in rage, with Judge Putnam in tow. Ron stops the car for a moment, trying to decide what to do. Mikhail takes advantage of this to get out of the car.

The byakhee, still feeding on the judge. Swings out over the East River and dives down for another run at the group. Ron floors the accelerator on his car, hoping to ram the byakhee with it and free the judge. Mikhail, realizing Ron’s intentions, runs along behind the car, Masonic blade in his hand.

The byakhee charges at the car and rakes down at it with its powerful leg talons, tearing the roof off completely. Ron, stunned by this display of physical prowess, slams on the brakes and comes to an abrupt stop. This allows Mikhail to catch up to the car, leap onto the rear bumper, and jump at the byakhee. He manages to grab onto the byakhee’s leg, swatting at it with his sword as the creature flaps its leathery wings and climbs.

Johnny, realizing that he definitely cannot shoot at the byakhee without risk of hitting Mikhail or the judge, watches helplessly as the creature wheels for another pass. Kane takes careful aim at the charging creature and tries to take another shot, only for his old, much-used gun that he purchased from Vito the caretaker, to jam. Kane quickly clears the round and reloads.

Ron, enraged and still wanting to go car jousting, executes a perfect bootlegger turn and drives straight at the byakhee. He manages to get up to just above 40 mph when he crashes into the hideous monster from beyond space. The impact utterly destroys Ron’s car, kills the byakhee, and critically injures both Judge Putnam and Mikhail.

Johnny rushes over to Judge Putnam and uses his coat to make the unconscious man a makeshift pillow. If he is discomfited at the sight of the ring of silver-black blood around the judge’s mouth, he doesn’t say anything about it.

Dr. Black arrives on the scene moments later and, using reverse of the technique of the half-men from the Nameless City, he pushes his own vitality into the judge. This leaves Dr. Black woozy and weak, but also heals the judge enough to allow him to regain consciousness.

Dr. Black treats Mikhail as well, and manages to coax the swashbuckling lawyer back to wakefulness.

Meanwhile, Vivian, who has refused to leave the safety of the warehouse, watches in delight as the disc pieces begin to liquefy in the crucible…

What Remained of Ron's Car

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Mob War Part 1: June 5, 1926

Dinner at Judge Putnam’s

It has been two months since the London Group left the Nameless City. Some of the members of the group are finding that their time in the city has changed them very deeply, in ways that they are only now starting to recognize.

It has also been about a month since the group was together—the last time they met was at James Clark’s and Angie Hutchinson’s wedding in New Hampshire. Judge Putnam feels that it is more than time for the group to reconvene and enjoy a relaxing dinner together. He also has recently received a letter that he wishes to show them.

The late afternoon meal is thoroughly pleasant, at least at first. The group notes, with some mild discomfort, that Johnny is moving a bit more slowly than he normally does, and that he has covered his maimed and many-times surgically repaired arm with a black glove. In spite of that, he still performs all the household duties with his usual skill and businesslike aplomb.

Vivian, too, has also taken to wearing certain types of obscuring clothing and jewelry—long sleeves and anything large enough to hide the symbol of the Many-Faced God on her wrist. She also seems a bit more tentative when the judge suggests that the group take some air on the veranda. She remains in the doorway, glancing nervously at the slowly darkening evening sky.

Several members of the group also notice that Ron Deluca seems to be suffering from some undefined ailment. He is pale, drawn, and his suit seems to fit a touch more loosely than normal. Dr. Black examines him, and notes that there isn’t anything seriously amiss. He suggests that Ron try and eat more meat and get some more rest.

This comment prompts Kane and Judge Putnam to insist that their stakes be prepared as rare as possible. Johnny quips that he doesn’t mind cooking them rare, as it is less work for his damaged arm.

Ron’s exhausted appearance makes Vivian, Mikhail, and other members of the group suspicious that he’s gone off and done something reckless or dangerous again. Ron politely tells them to back the hell off.

The Cult

Apropos of nothing, Dr. Black proudly announces to the London Group that he is starting a cult. This draws quite a lot of censure from the rest of the group, especially from Johnny. Dr. Black insists that his reasons are noble, and his cause is just. He goes on to explain that he purchased some property up in Ossining, NY that has a barn on it. He plans to convert the barn into a temple of Nodens, and he plans to use that as a base of operations to start a sister cult to the one that Brother Theodore belongs to in Germany. 

Kane asks how much the property cost, and Dr. Black replies, quite happily, that he barely paid a song for it. He says that the property’s original owners mysteriously vanished forty years ago, and the land has run fallow and wild ever since. He was able to buy it very cheaply with the promise from the village of Ossining that he fully restore the property, thereby removing a blight that has long plagued the village. 

Johnny promises to dynamite the doctor’s new temple complex to kingdom come, and says that this should be the fate of all cults, including and especially the Silver Twilight Lodge.

You Won't Need Much Dynamite for This Cult...

The Phone Call

Luca calls Ron on the phone. He tells Ron that he has heard some strange news about Jimmy Rizzo (aka “Little Jimmy”), whom Ron had previously planted a gun on and transformed into an international criminal.

Luca says that Jimmy Rizzo was murdered that afternoon, in broad daylight, apparently shot in the back multiple times and tossed off of the Brooklyn Bridge. Vince was mad about this, of course, because he had given strict orders that none of his guys were to go after “Big Grin’s” guys. However, Luca later heard that it was apparently some of “Big Grin’s” own men that killed Little Jimmy, seemingly for no reason whatsoever.

Ron thanks Luca, hangs up the phone, and proceeds to relay the news of Little Jimmy’s untimely demise. The group is immediately suspicious of Ron, who insists that he didn’t kill Little Jimmy, swear to God.

Ron is saved from further grilling by the judge’s doorbell.

A Gentleman Caller

Hi, Everyone. Miss Me?

Kane, seeing that Johnny has his hands full clearing away the dinner plates, goes to answer the judge’s front door. Standing on the front steps is a thin, handsome, well-groomed man, nattily dressed and sporting a bright yellow silk tie. The gentleman, hat in hand, greets Kane warmly, apologizes for the interruption, and asks to speak to Ron Deluca, “for just a moment.”

When Kane agrees to go fetch Ron, the gentleman thanks him repeatedly, pressing a gold-embossed calling card into Kane’s hand.

Kane shuts the door, locks it, and reads the card, which announces the gentleman caller as none other than the oft-mentioned Nathan Torpley.

Kane brings Ron to the door to talk to Mr. Torpley, while Dr. Black sneaks closer and listens in on the following conversation.

Mr. Torpley tells Ron that he has fulfilled his side of the bargain, and that everything went absolutely swimmingly. He then tells Ron that he needs a favor from him, at which point he reaches into his upturned hat and plucks out a heavy leaden medallion from inside of it.

“You will bury this in the northwest corner of the barn on your friend Dr. Black’s new property,” commands Mr. Torpley. “And next month, we can do this again.”

Mr. Torpley toddles off, whistling to himself, as Ron and Kane close the door and return to the others.

Christopher Edwin’s Letter

Mr. Edwin Sends his Regards

The London Group is now sure, even though Ron refuses to explicitly say it, that Ron summoned Nathan Torpley with the Ouroboros Ring and asked him to do something to Little Jimmy. Ron, for his part, neither confirms nor denies this. Several members of the group suggest that leaving the state might not be remiss.

This causes Judge Putnam to remember the reason why he summoned the group together in the first place. He produces a letter sent to him by Christopher Edwin, his correspondent from Maine. Mr. Edwin has heard rumors that their shared adversary, the Order of Silver Twilight, is on the move again. Mr. Edwin has decided it is more than past time to deal the order a final, fatal blow. To that end, he invites the players to visit him at his house on Chebeague Island on June 18th, where they will meet other members of his inner circle and formulate a plan of attack.

Knowing that Mr. Edwin’s information helped them to survive the Nameless City, the London Group agrees to pay him a visit. Several members of the group suggest visiting him early, hiding out at Mr. Edwin’s house until the current mob war in New York City cools down still further. Others express concern at driving through Boston on their way to Maine, considering how destabilized and unfriendly that city has become to Ron and Vivian.

Eventually, the group decides to let Mr. Edwin know that they will see him on June 18th, and that they will prepare for that trip shortly.

Going Upstate

Before that, however, the London Group decides to go visit Dr. Black’s new property in Ossining, both to inspect it for any signs of nefarious activities and to discharge Ron’s debt to Nathan Torpley as soon as humanly possible.

The group travel in a two-car caravan and eventually reach the doctor’s property—three acres featuring a barn, an outhouse, and a farmhouse that overlooks the Hudson River. The group notes that there are already signs of construction underway, as workmen’s tools and materials are neatly stacked on the overgrown lawn.

Johnny remains in the car, while Mikhail takes Pushok to have a sniff around the property and Vivian ensconces herself on the farmhouse porch. Dr. Black gives Kane and Judge Putnam a tour of the farmhouse. Ron borrows a shovel from the workmen’s tools, enters the dilapidated and sagging barn, and begins to dig.

A short time later, the group becomes aware of three very large sedans driving up the hill toward the property. Fearing some kind of an attack, Mikhail hides in the front bushes with Pushok while Vivian blends into the shadows. Johnny, cursing that he only had two frigging months of peace and quiet, pulls his shotgun out from underneath the car’s front seat.

Six men in trench coats and hats get out of the cars and walk the rest of the way toward the property. As they get closer, their leader, whom the group recognizes as “Big Jimmy” Russo, steps forward and demands to speak to Ron Deluca.

"The Jimmies." Big Jimmy is on the Left.

“I don’t want to start nothing, I just want to talk to him.”

Kane, Dr. Black, and Judge Putnam all exit the house, while Mikhail draws his gun and remains in cover. Vivian enters the barn to tell Ron that Big Jimmy and some of “Big Grin’s” guys are here and want to talk to them.

Johnny, for his part, steps out of the car brandishing a shotgun. He demands to be allowed to search the mafia goons for weapons. Big Jimmy relents, and Johnny is relieved that they aren’t currently packing. He stands vigil the entire rest of the time, however, ready to plug one or more made guys if they try anything.

Ron has a conversation with Jimmy Russo that, effectively, goes nowhere. Jimmy demands to know if Ron had anything to do with Little Jimmy’s death. Ron denies any involvement. Jimmy asks him if he’s sure. Ron says that, yeah, he’s sure.

Unable to do much more than that while Johnny stands feet away with a loaded shotgun, Big Jimmy orders the rest of his group to leave. The London Group watches in silent relief as “Big Grin’s” boys get in their cars and drive away.

The group relaxes visibly once the three cars drive out of sight. They begin to rethink their plans about visiting Christopher Edwin, thinking that maybe an early trip to Maine might not be a bad idea after all.

Dr. Black suddenly realizes that the warding spell he cast around the hiding place of the shards of the Disc of R’lyeh has collapsed. His shout of fear and confusion puts an end to this conversation for now.

Atlantic City

Johnny mobilizes the group, ordering them to travel one by one through the Gate box on the judge’s car back to the carriage house garage on Staten Island.

The moment they arrive, Johnny unlocks and opens the larger steamer trunk Gate box that goes to his bolthole in Atlantic City. Johnny arms himself with one of the guns taken from Look to the Future before stepping into the second box.

The group reassembles in the back room of a darkened warehouse. Johnny opens the door leading into the warehouse proper, which he has carefully maintained and oiled so that it moves without making a sound.

Ahead of them, several men with flashlights prowl through the darkened warehouse, clearly looking for something. As the group creeps closer, they can hear snippets of conversation.

“I don’t see nuttin’.”

“Keep lookin’. The dame said it was here.”

“I don’t know why we’re takin’ orders from that broad anyways. She ain’t the boss.”

“She ain’t, but she said…hey, fellas, lookit this.”

“Some kinda weird rock. Oh, and I think this section of floor moves. Louis, help me with this, willya.”

Realizing that the disc pieces are about to be discovered, Vivian shouts, “Kill ‘em, Johnny! Kill ‘em all!”

Johnny opens fire with his future gun, practically vaporizing three of the intruders in as many seconds. The remaining four, seeing the killing power of Johnny’s gun, make a run for it, fleeing to an open warehouse window. Judge Putnam blasts one in the back, sending him sprawling unconscious into some shelves. Mikhail sics Pushok on another, and the loyal Great Dane easily brings down his prey. Dr. Black and Kane gun down another, while Vivian, in a fit of rage, sprints to the window, grabs the last fleeing man by his ankle, and pulls him bodily back into the warehouse.

Johnny pops back through the gate box to the carriage house, with plans to drive to Atlantic City to pick up the disc pieces and the bodies of the dead mafiosi.

Kane ties up the two survivors. Ron grabs a shovel and tries to make them both talk. Terrified for their lives, the two survivors spill the beans. They identify themselves as “Big Grin’s” men and say that their boss’ new girlfriend asked them to go to Atlantic City to pick something up from them.

Both men beg for their lives, saying that they thought this was a side job that had nothing to do with the mob war. They tell Ron that they didn’t know this warehouse belonged to him, as it was outside of the Bernouse Family’s jurisdiction. They promise they won’t say anything to anybody if Ron lets them live.

Dr. Black, in a heightened state of emotion, begins taunting the two trussed up gangsters. One of the gangsters, realizing that Dr. Black is just a civvy and not part of the mafia, tells him where to go. In a fit of rage, Dr. Black wounds him deeply with a surgical scalpel, leaving the man crying out in pain.

Ron, realizing that the whole interrogation has gone south, bludgeons the man to death. The other man screams at Ron, completely terrified, begging him to remember Omerta and the code. “We don’t do this, Ron! Jesus Christ! This isn’t the way.”

Kane Eastman calmly shoots him between the eyes.

In  the aftermath, Dr. Black starts mopping up the warehouse floor, while the group decide what to do with the bodies of seven dead men and the vehicles that they no doubt came in. Everyone is sobered and horrified at how quickly and ruthlessly they ended the lives of “Big Grin’s” agents. Even Ron.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Interlude: April 10-June 5, 1926

The group has survived their adventures in Syria, but not without permanent and lasting scars of both the physical and emotional variety. Considering what the group discovered and accomplished, they agree that these scars seem like small prices to pay.

Judge Putnam and Kane Eastman:  Drinking deeply from the Blood Fountain on the Path of the Penitent has deeply changed them. They are plagued with occasional nightmares of the most gruesome type, but laudanum and other drugs seem to be able to blunt their menace. They also note that they have started to order their steaks rarer and rarer. The bloodier the better. Mmm…blood.

Johnny Dukas: Plastic surgery has developed quickly as an art since the end of the Great War, and the doctors are able to use it to good effect to repair Johnny's maimed arm. However, there is permanent damage even the doctors cannot repair. Johnny's hand remains heavily scarred and somewhat twisted. He wears a glove to better hide this injury from others.

Mikhail and Dr. Black: Their draining of energy from the half-formed creatures in the dust storm have rather unpleasant consequences. They find that they occasionally remember things that they've never experienced—presumably these are the memories of the horrific creatures they killed. The memories are of a time and place beyond ancient, and they intrude on their conscious minds at the worst times.  

Vivian: She went a little mad when she saw all of those nightgaunts circling above the Bone Zuggurat, and now no longer trusts the sky. It hides things…terrible things. And the stars. They whisper. What do they say? No! Make them stop!

Ron: His usual narrow focus and sheer bloody-mindedness kept him from falling prey to most of the terrors of the Nameless City. Somehow!

April 10-11, 1926

Johnny, Dr. Black, Kane, and the Judge return through the portal in As-Safa. They reunite with the rebels, Turki, Brother Theodore, and James Raven. They spend a night with the rebels before setting out the next day for As Suwayda.

They find that the cast and crew of Prince of Babylon in the middle of packing up and returning to America, as Palm Tree Studios has decided to cut their losses and abandon the film. They are paid $400 by Faram Tokamak for their troubles and are informed that Liam is already back in Damascus and preparing to go home via the Orient Express.

Kane has a very nice liaison with Roseanna Bartlett, though she is a bit miffed that Kane isn’t able to tell her as much as she wants to hear about what was going on at the movie set in the desert.

April 12, 1926

The Retouin of Everyone's Favorite New Joisey Mothah!

Ron, Mikhail, Vivian, and Pushok appear in a quiet corner of the Bayonne, NJ train station. They get some odd looks due to their disheveled appearance, their wounds, and their cultist robes. They stop in the station bathrooms to remove their robes and tidy up before taking a cab over to Mikhail’s mom’s house.

Mrs. Dimathias is happy to see her boy and his friends. She sits them down and stuffs them full of cake and tea and asks them really inappropriate questions. Everyone is uncomfortable when Mrs. Dimathias suggests that Vivian and Mikhail date. Everyone is more uncomfortable when Mrs. Dimathias sees their reactions and says, “Oh, are you and Ron dating, then? But he’s so much older!”

Ron notes that the door and the new carpet look very nice.

In Syria, the rest of the group bids farewell to Turki and Brother Theodore and prepare to return home. They hand over Mr. Raven to the care of Dr. Wakefield, who promises to get James the care he needs from the “best spa in Hollywood.”

The group then proceeds to Damascus, where they meet up with Liam and catch the next boat across the Mediterranean to Athens. From here, they take the Orient Express to France, where they board an ocean liner to New York City. The trip is blessedly uneventful, apart from the odd coincidence that the conductor on their train is none other than Leon Janssens. The conductor pointedly avoids the group, and seems very nervous whenever he encounters them in the dining car.

April 20, 1926

By now, the London Group has all made it back to America and is getting settled back into everyday life.

Johnny undergoes surgery to graft skin onto his maimed arm.

Terrance gratefully ceases watching over Judge Putnam’s property, and suggests that the judge might want to hire professional security guards next time. Terrence then takes a week off to recover from a recent concussion.

April 23, 1926

Luca is Mostly Happy to See Everyone 

Luca is so happy that everyone’s back that he takes them all to out to dinner at an Italian restaurant. He tries to keep things light, but the mob war (see below) makes that very difficult. Luca quickly learns from context that Ron told Vivian about the context of the letter. Luca, who is somewhat drunk and stressed out, unloads on Ron so loudly as to scare the waitstaff and other diners.


May 8, 1926

The group visits New Hampshire to attend the very small wedding of Mr. James Clark and Ms. Angie Hutchinson. The wedding takes place at a park near Stephen Clark’s house. Other than the London Group, only Deb and Mrs. Harris are in attendance. The ceremony is simple, but lovely. Everyone returns to the Clark house for dinner and cake.

Stephen Clark shows the group some of his latest paintings, which are being boxed up and taken to the Met in New York City. The group sees familiar vistas: white skies with black stars, trapezoidal buildings, ziggurats, bone pits crawling with barely human creatures, and other unpleasant things. The worst of all these is a picture of Carl Stanford, wrapped head to toe in sticky spider web, laughing madly.

Stephen tells the group that his paintings have become more mundane recently. There are a lot of city scenes showing hard-looking men in pinstriped suits. One painting in particular catches’ the group’s eye. It shows none other than “Big Grin” Bianco sitting at his desk. Leaning on his chair, all dolled up in the latest “gun moll” fashion, is none other than Anne Chantraine.

June 5, 1926 (Present Day)

Judge Putnam receives a letter from Christopher Edwin.

The Letter

The Mob War

Throughout this time period, the mob war rages. It has become much quieter since the first salvos mentioned in Luca’s letter. The rogue gunman who shot up the Bernouse place has disappeared, likely either killed by the Bernouse Family or by Bianco for his shocking breach of mafia etiquette.

Tensions are very, very high in the city as far as The Families and Law Enforcement goes. Ron and other members of the Bernouse Family get hassled or followed whenever they go out in public. The only thing that stops Ron from retaliating are very fucking clear instructions from Vincenzio and the fact that every other made guy in the city is getting roughly the same treatment.

There are a few hits and betrayals going on around the fringes. More people than usual try to swim in the East River. A few cops disappear. More families than just the Delucas decide to go visit Westchester or the Catskills to take in the nice spring weather.

Meanwhile, up north, Boston is a no-go zone for anyone who isn’t directly affiliated with the Bianco Family. “Big Grin” is using his new influx of cash and influence to lock the city down and make it work for him, even going so far as to wage war against the Irish and the Russians.

In New York City, however, Bianco seems to be content with the territory that he has recently claimed from Burnouse and the other families. He seems to be using the relative ceasefire to reinforce his holdings and make friends with the city government. There are also rumors that he’s developed a peculiar interest in certain reading materials and artifacts of an occult nature.

Vito has been staying with a distant cousin out in Brooklyn and has gotten some legitimate work as a fixit guy and illegitimate work running numbers for the Bernouse racket. This makes him one of the more likely people to have run-ins with the cops and with the Bianco Family. He still keeps his good humor, though, and the next time he meets Ron, he brings him a bag of giant cannoli and pinches his cheeks. Ron, somehow, refrains from murdering him on the spot.