- Sep 15, 2019
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24th October 1923 - The invitations have been sent out, and the lucky recipients are wondering quite what to make of them. A genuine investigation of the mysteries of the next world in one of the few places on Earth where answers might be found? A publicity stunt which will in all probability involve a fair bit of hoaxing? Or just an excuse for a rattling good Halloween party? Who knows? Serious occultists, representatives of the not terribly serious lower echelons of the media, and bright young things who just want to have fun are all on the guest-list, but none of them quite know why. Never mind, they'll find out soon enough...
This CoC scenario is not based on any published material, and since this is PbP, certain concessions will be made to the slowness of the medium. Combat, the curse of PbP because it takes forever to resolve a serious fight, will be kept to a minimum, and battles will almost certainly be brief, either because very little force was required to defeat a minor adversary, or because you're making a very big mistake trying to take on something like that with a gun! Besides, how much heavy artillery is even the most paranoid person likely to be packing at a Halloween party?
It's more in the nature of a classic country house murder mystery with some very nasty twists. So although the other Investigators are the only guests who you're absolutely sure aren't part of any sinister plot, given that this is a pretty big party and some of the invitations were sent not to specific people but to institutions such as newspapers, you can reasonably assume that there are a lot of innocent bystanders. Therefore it's not a good idea to assume that everyone within 20 miles who isn't one of the PCs is a Child of Yog-Sothoth and can be killed on sight, or that it's a good plan to blow up the house and everyone in it with all that dynamite you conveniently found in the cellar. And I'll tell you right now, you won't find any dynamite in the cellar! If you were inviting a horde of complete strangers round to your place to get drunk, would you leave incredibly dangerous objects that look very similar to fireworks lying around and hope nobody lit one?
Some of you may suspect from the outset that this isn't just the spook-themed hootenanny it's made out to be, but you have no suspicions at all that anything really, seriously bad might happen, otherwise most of you wouldn't be going. And whatever your backgrounds may be, none of you have ever encountered absolute proof that anything conventionally supernatural, such as ghosts, really exists, let alone all that nonsense about Squidzilla!
Players who have already expressed interest should start threads here for their characters. Since the game isn't quite ready to start yet, this thread is for preliminary discussions and attempts by the Investigators to find out useful background information in the week leading up to Halloween (which, if for some reason you need to know, is on a Wednesday). You haven't met each other yet, but any solo preliminary investigating you choose to do may give the other players an idea of what your Investigator is like before you all get together on the big day.
Since you have plenty of time and aren't being opposed or endangered in any way, preliminary information-gathering requires no dice-rolling, and exactly what you find out depends on exactly what you're looking for. Actually, dice may be rolled if what you want to know is more important than you realise, but I won't ask you to roll. I'll do it myself based on your skills, and if I succeed I won't say "That was a hard thing to find out so I did a Library Search roll for you and you passed", but I will drop a hint that you discovered something obscure enough for a roll to be made. But if I fail I'll say nothing, and you'll never know you didn't find out everything you might have.
Many rolls, especially Perception Checks, will be done throughout the game in this way, partly to speed things up, and partly because it makes more sense. For instance, if you want to search a room, you don't roll anything. Instead, you describe exactly what you're doing, and I combine that with your skill levels to decide how hard the task is, and then I roll for you, and if you fail, you won't know whether I rolled unsuccessfully or didn't roll at all because there's nothing here to find.
A simple example: the only thing worth finding in a certain room is the strange scribbled text on the walls, which has been completely papered over. Therefore it's very hard if not impossible to spot unless you tear off the wallpaper, which you're extremely unlikely to do unless you already suspect there's something under it, and is not included in the statement "We search the room". However, if you adopt the perverse habit of stripping the wallpaper every time, thus giving yourselves a 100% chance of finding any other similar clues, I'll always be bearing in mind that this takes a considerable time to do, is quite messy, makes it screamingly obvious that you've searched the room, and, if the house isn't derelict, probably won't go down too well with the owners even if they aren't Children of Yog-Sothoth.
All of you will already have heard of the notorious Waldegrave Mansion, a huge house in a tiny town built about a hundred years ago by a very rich man who didn't get much joy from his wealth and now wanders the echoing corridors of his Old Dark House for all eternity in search of his missing head. Or something like that. And there's a spectral Indian chief still on the warpath for scalps, and a White Lady of some sort, and probably a Headless Horseman because there always is. The usual suspects. Or so you've vaguely heard. Anyway, it's one of those places that always feature in trashy books about ghosts but mainstream science is oddly uninterested in, suggesting that perhaps the information in those books is a tiny bit more sensational than the truth. Here are some other people you'll all have vaguely heard of:
Sole heir to the Twimbly confectionery empire's millions thanks to being the healthiest and luckiest member of an extraordinarily sickly and misfortunate family, since losing his last living relatives to the double whammy of the Great War and the 1919 influenza pandemic, Titus, always a gloomily introspective man who shunned publicity as much as someone in his position could, and famously never married because "she's sure to die like all the rest", has become obsessed with proving there's life after death, and in recent years has spent much of his fortune in ways the less highbrow newspapers gleefully mock, wasting vast sums on embarrassingly obvious con-artists and lunatics. Though on the other hand, sales of Twimbly Bars have increased because he's so painfully sincere that most people feel sorry for him even if he's a thousand times richer than they'll ever be.
One of the best-known stage magicians currently performing in America, and one of the most controversial, due to his claim that he has genuine magical powers, and the tricks featured in his occult-themed shows are better than those of his rivals because he has demons at his beck and call. He supplements his income by writing popular books on all aspects of the occult and supernatural. Perhaps he does have genuine supernatural powers, since the gossip columnists can't find very much to say about him, and his private life remains private even to them.
Mrs. Trout's reputation is, to put it mildly, mixed! According to her own publicity, she first discovered her amazing powers in 1903 when her grief following the death of her husband Herbert, combined with her great love for him, allowed them to join hands across the Great Divide, etc. etc. etc. She now sits for anyone who can afford her fees, which are considerable, assisted by the late Herbert Trout, who has stayed invisibly by her side in his capacity as one of the few spirit guides who isn't a strangely inauthentic-sounding Red Indian. The well-known British occult investigator Harry Price did her reputation considerable damage when, after attending several of her séances in 1920, he announced to the press that he wasn't sure whether she was the most ham-handed fraud he'd ever encountered or simply mad, but he suspected she might be both. Though not as much damage as she herself did by losing a court-case in her native Britain in 1921 and being found guilty of "pretending to conjure spirits" under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. She spent six months in jail before emigrating to the USA, where she has gone a long way towards rebuilding her reputation, mainly thanks to the astute guidance of her new manager, Amthor. Mrs. Trout has always explained the little embarrassments that have plagued her throughout her career by either blaming "malicious entities who vibrate on a very low frequency" or airily saying "I have good days and bad days" before changing the subject.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, none of you have ever heard of the Rotting Stump Rhythm Boys. By the way, don't forget: