Monday, September 16, 2013

Call of Cthulhu Campaign Log: The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight

Welcome back to our Call of Cthulhu campaign log, where our intrepid band of alcoholic arsonists is the only thing that stands between total domination of our world by eldritch, alien gods.

Hey, how ya doin'?

As we were were adjourning for the day, Eric, our GM causally mentioned that this campaign has been going on for six years of real time (though since we meet so irregularly, it's only been twenty-odd sessions), and two years of game time.

That's pretty good run by any metric. When you look at our team, who are lucky to get out of bed (I imagine us all sleeping in the same bed with matching nightcaps, much like the Three Stooges) without at least one instance of death and/or insanity, it's out-fucking-standing.

We had a bit of downtime after our last outing, and we were weathering a long winter when Dr. Nathaniel Milheim got a telegram from a colleague, whom he suspected might be in a spot of trouble.

So he assembled the crack team of investigators. We met at our HQ, our contact, Jackson Elias, called us in a hysterical panic and told us to meet him in a few hours in room 410 of a nearby hotel. Unfortunately Milheim botched his psychoanalysis roll and when Bob asked him how Elias was, Milheim just shrugged and said, "Seems fine to me."

Eric handed out a bunch of handouts about the expedition Elias was investigating, and some of the names seemed really familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on why. Eric's really good at foreshadowing NPCs in small roles that will come to prominence in later adventures, but it never pays to pay too much attention to NPCs. You just lose more sanity when they die.

Under other circumstances, like anyone else who has ever played a role-playing game (or seen a movie or read a book), we interpreted the phone call to mean "Hi guys! Have fun showing up just in time to miss my grisly murder!", however, because of that botched rolls, we were lulled into a false sense of security and it seemed a bit too meta-gamey to suggest showing up really early and climbing up the fire escape. So, we just took our standard precautions, packing several of our mail order machine guns and then hailing a pair of cabs to the hotel after several hours of heavy drinking.

I might be getting some of the events out of sequence here, but we arrived, and knocked and heard angry voices within. So we tried to force the door. I think the former German Ace went first, with his strength of 7. I'm pretty sure he had hollow bones, like a bird. I imagined the scene a little bit like the part in the Princess Bride where Inigo is throwing himself against the door. Then Bob machine gunned the door, somehow missing a stationary object at point blank range, narrowing averting a fumble and spraying the walls, the ceiling and the newlyweds in room 510 with 50 caliber bullets.

At this point Steve tried the handle, which was locked, which was good, because we would have felt very foolish otherwise. So he grabbed a fire axe and went to work. I think we may have had another round of machine gun fire against the door at this point. Do you remember that blast door in the beginning of the Phantom Menace? I think Qui Gon cut his way through that thing faster than we did. It was the fucking Rasputin of doors. It was ridiculous.

The German suggested that I try picking the lock and I was like, "Oh, that ship has sailed."

I don't remember what did the trick, but we were finally in the room. I was the brave soul who entered. I saw Jackson's body and began backing out, having lost a couple points of sanity, and was missed outright by the cultist at the side of the door.

We'll call the guy who played German "A.", because I don't know him well enough to use his name. I've lost the occasional character from time to time, but he's had an unbroken streak of horrendously bad luck. (He played the Turkish librarian from the last session I attended, and had died once between then) In another type of game, A. would be the guy who dies to let us know that "shit just got real", but in our team, with a group of characters who compare unfavorably to a pack of Paranoia troubleshooters, he just reminds us that we're apparently not up to the simple act of opening a door.

Hans stepped up while I was backing out and sprayed the room with machine gun fire and got one of the cultists who was trying to sneak out the window, rather than the cultist with the machete who was standing right at the door.

The cultist attacks Hans, and the GM blanches. "Roll to dodge," he says. Hans' last words are, "I'm not worried. I have eleven hit points."

He fails to dodge and gets his hand chopped off.

Hans sans hand

He's hemorrhaging lifeblood on me, I'm hemorrhaging sanity points because of it and I lose enough to go catatonic.

There's more of a fight, Bob puts the barrel of the Thompson against the belly of the cultist and dares him to "dodge this". Steve pursues the surviving cultist down the fire escape. Hans bleeds out.

The lights went out when we were making our way down the service elevator. (Brian did the only smart thing out of all of us, and tied up the hotel's single elevator, thus delaying the police response and buying us the time we needed to bungle our way to safety, accompanied by the muted trombone wah wah wah sound effect.

Eric pulled Steve aside and there was some sort of encounter with an eight foot tall Asian hobo. I'm not sure what was going on. Steve made him sound like Yao Ming and Eric made him sound like Lo Pan.

Shut up, Mr. Burton! You are not brought upon this world to get it!

We regrouped and looked at what we had been able to recover. My character had retrograde amnesia dating back to the point when Nathaniel had called him. On looking at the handouts, I realized why the adventure seemed so familiar.

We did some investigating. Brian and A.'s replacement character (a "Dreamer") looked into an import company. The company was probably up to something shifty, though they certainly had ample cause to toss the pair of them off the property, too.

One failed library use roll, later Bob hooked up with a sexy co-ed, prompting somebody to crack. "I hope you wore a dust jacket for that."

Nathaniel, Steve and I went to see Jackson's publisher, who was also Nathaniel's publisher. Apparently, both men write the same kind of books. Nathaniel asked for the notes of his greatest rival, and I was like "Jesus, do you want to comfort his widow, too?"

We returned, made some plans, made some excuses for the players that couldn't be there for the next session and the group adjourned for the week.

I had fun, even though the only thing I did was open a door and then go insane. Looking forward to the next session, as always.


  1. When dealing with the Mythos, the investigators initially go all Split Second on the Keeper with "we need guns, big f@$&ing guns," and the Keeper knows its just a matter of time kills more pcs than the monsters.

    I, for one, welcome our new door overlords.

  2. Really sounds like a Comedy of Errors, but Viscount Eric may have a point in that your inept band lived to tell the tale of their ineptitude.