Posts Tagged ‘Modern’

Achtung, baby!

Posted: March 4, 2013 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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sl_boxcoverLL and I dug deeply into my games library this Monday, laying hands on an old wargame gem we’ve both barely ever touched: Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader. I picked up this game and some of the accompanying expansions way back in, let’s see, 1988 or so. I played a couple of times with some mostly disinterested parties and a few times solo (which isn’t much fun). LL played a few times as well, when a few “grognards” found enough charity in their cold hearts to let a girl sit in on their game. Needless to say, neither of us remembered much about the rules.

They’re not that bad, actually. Though there’s a lot of material in just the basic game, the rules are broken into sections providing bite-sized gulps needed to play progressively more complicated scenarios. The first scenario, which focuses on the Russians trying to oust the Germans from a section of Stalingrad, comes with rules that introduce basic movement and combat, support weaponry, unit morale, and other essentials. The second scenario brings in demolitions charges, smoke and concealment, and some other things. Tonight we played the first scenario, called “The Guards Counterattack”.

You can see the setup in the picture below, stolen from because the one I took didn’t quite come out! The German counters are light blue and the Russian counters are brown. The Germans have a number of good leaders, several LMGs, an MMG, and a HMG. The Russians have a lot of troops, a couple of pretty good leaders, and an MMG. The scenario specifies in which buildings the units should be set up. The goal is for the Russian player to capture two more stone buildings initially held by the Germans than they lose of their initial holdings within five turns.


Those of you used to absolute balance in gaming might be turned off by “proper” wargames, which often present a pretty one-sided situation based on historical events with only a little attempt to provide “fairness” to both sides. This scenario isn’t that badly unbalanced but the Russians definitely face a tough task. They’re facing a bunch of crack German troops armed to the teeth with MGs and sheltered in good cover. To win, they’ve got to advance across open ground (thankfully fairly short stretches of it) and engage the Germans up close. A battle of attrition is likely to end badly for them…and isn’t possible anyway, given the five-turn limit.

Squad Leader is played in turns with one player going first, followed by the other. Each player turn includes several phases that, in this basic scenario, boil down to: 1) rallying demoralized units, 2) laying down preparatory fire, 3) moving units that didn’t prep fire, 4) fire by defending units, 5) firing by units that moved or stayed put but didn’t prep fire, 6) routing units demoralized by fire, 7) advancing (possibly into close combat), and 8) conducting close combat. In this scenario, the Germans set up their units first and the Russians take their first turn.

This was just an introductory game and I’m not going to give a play-by-play here, but I’ll cover the highlights and things we learned. LL chose to play the Russians and I the Germans. We set up and she took her first player turn. Right away we found out how important the Preparatory Fire phase can be. She got a couple of her units working together as a fire team and brought a lot of rounds down on a small group of Germans manning an LMG. The leader failed his morale check and the soldiers did likewise, becoming “Broken”. Broken troops can’t contribute to the fight and must run to cover in the Rout phase…though they can shelter in place if they’re already in cover and there aren’t any adjacent enemy units. Also, if they fail another morale check (which they might have to make if a stacked leader fails his or they come under fire again) they are eliminated completely!

The other important bit comes from the organization if the Combat Resolution Table (CRT). The Squad Leader CRT is arranged in columns by ascending points of Fire Power (FP). By combining the FP of stacked and adjacent units, you shift your die result further to the right on the CRT. With just 2 or 3 points of FP, you have to roll very low to have any effect; but at 24 or 30 points of FP you start to get into deadly territory. Your roll is modified by things like the influence of leaders and terrain effects: shooting at a target in a stone building adds three to the roll, for instance, making low-FP attacks on units in cover virtually useless.

So: if you want to take a position guarded by units in a building you’re going to have to use the Prep Fire phase to lay down some good cover fire to make them keep their heads down so that your advancing troops don’t get cut to pieces in the Movement/Defensive Fire phase. If you can kill or demoralize the defenders then your moving units can get out there, fire again, and then advance into close combat to finish off the survivors and send the Broken units running for more defensible cover.

Your moving units also have to be concerned about Line of Sight to other enemy units. During the Defensive Fire phase, defending units get to take shots at the attackers. If your unit are moving in the open and cross the LOS of a unit in range, those units get to fire at yours…with a big bonus to their roll on the CRT. This, as we found when a group of LL’s units crossed a street guarded by three German units with three LMG support weapons, can be quite deadly. Several of her units were gunned down on the move and completely eliminated.

There’s a lot more to the strategy and tactics of this game than I can possibly cover here…and we certainly haven’t learned everything there is to know, even about this first introductory scenario. Hopefully we’ll get to play Squad Leader some more over the next few months and I can share some more details. If you ever find a copy on eBay or on the used shelf at your FLGS I have to recommend you pick it up!

The curious case of Mr. Magnetti

Posted: February 4, 2013 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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LL and I met as usual on Monday night. This week it was back to RPGs with a short excursion into the world of Call of Cthulhu, with a session run by LL. She told me she had drummed up a little solo adventure and gave me some parameters so I created a character on the spot. I used the 5th-edition rules and rolled randomly, play-as-they-lay. We gabbed randomly for the better part of the night but finally got in some playing at the end of the evening, as a man named Faustino Magnetti decided to investigate something odd and ended up getting more than he had bargained for. Isn’t that always the way with CoC?

1898_prison13_DeerIsland_Boston_NewEnglandMagazineOn this particular morning in early June of 1928, the weather at Boston’s Deer Island House of Correction is sunny and fine. Most of the inmates are enjoying the weather in the exercise yard but we find Mr. Magnetti working in the prison library, where he has made himself most useful over the past six months of his confinement – being a man of letters incarcerated amongst a population of mostly lower-class petty criminals.

Before continuing, however, perhaps we should learn a little more about our protagonist: Faustino Magnetti was born in the year 1885 in Brooklyn, New York to working-class Italian immigrant parents. His father was a stone-cutter and his mother took in laundry and did sewing for the wealthier residents a few blocks over. They were poor, but not destitute, and managed to put away a bit of money so that their only child, Faustino, might attend college and see a better future than they.

Faustino was a diligent student, though not the brightest, and did well in school – eventually performing well enough on his placement exams to earn a place at the esteemed Miskatonic University in Arkham, Mass. He applied himself eagerly to his studies in the rapidly developing field of anthropology, with a specialization in archaeology, and received a B.S. in 1907. By this time, his father had died in a construction accident, though his mother attended his graduation ceremony with teary eyes.

Mr. Magnetti, as we shall now call him, took work as an assistant to the head of M.U.’s Anthropology department and rented a small apartment in Arkham for himself and his now-widowed mother. In his role at the university, he began to travel widely on school expeditions, visiting South America often. It was there that he learned to speak Spanish (quite well) and Portuguese (passably well) and discovered much about the vanished cultures of that continent. While away on one of these trips, in March of 1918, his mother took ill with the Spanish Flu and passed away. Her body was cremated and, on his return, Mr. Magnetti attended a small ceremony at the Catholic church where the two often attended Mass.

DeerIsland_prison1_Boston_LC_HABS_ma1445By this time, Mr. Magnetti had accrued a little money and some measure of reputation in his field so began to fund his own trips to Peru and other S.A. countries to explore the leavings of the lost civilizations of the Aztecs, Incans, Toltecs, and so on. He also began “importing” certain artifacts found during his expeditions for sale to discerning collectors of such things. On his return to Boston from just such an outing to Peru’s Callejón de Huaylas highlands, where he had uncovered a number of figurines of obvious religious significance and a curious crystal skull, he found himself answering some probing questions by U.S. Customs agents.

The unusual artifacts stirred their interest and, upon further investigation, it seemed that some of them resembled descriptions of items that had been placed on a certain “watchlist” issued by the Peruvian government. Though the U.S. government felt no specific urge to honor the Peruvian demands for extradition, or at least life imprisonment, it did hand the case over to the state court in Boston. He was convicted on a fairly minor charge of Possession of Stolen Property and sentenced to two years at Deer Island, with the possibility of parole after serving one year. And, so, this is where we find Mr. Magnetti, on this fine June day…perhaps half-way to his freedom and resumption of life as usual.

untitled2While shelving books in the library at about half-past ten o’clock, he noticed an eager young man waiting for him by his book cart. He bore a note for Mr. Magnetti from one of his fellow inmates, a Mr. Byron Humphrey. Mr. Humphrey was a career petty criminal with a history of minor embezzlement, fraud, and so forth. His love of alcohol and lack of innate intelligence has prevented the man from truly excelling at the criminal arts, pegging him squarely as a failed “fakeloo artist” and shabby “scratcher”. Mr. Magnetti has spent quite some time in the library with Mr. Humphrey over the past several months, helping him research his various pet projects – most of which seem to deal with this or that bit of obscure occult knowledge. Though Mr. Magnetti little believes in any of that nonsense, he has found his work with Mr. Humphrey interesting due to the many parallels between American occult beliefs and the religious practices of several ancient South American cultures.

untitledThe note from Mr. Humphrey was, as usual, intriguing. It invited Mr. Magnetti to visit him in his cell in two hours for a glass of “toilet wine” and to view an unusual rock he had found in the yard that morning. The rock bore a strange symbol, transcribed on the note, and Mr. Humphrey wondered if Mr. Magnetti had ever seen it or something like it in his studies. He had not, though it did resemble certain hieroglyphics he had seen in his field work. He examined a few likely volumes, the prison library being well stocked with unusual reference volumes bequeathed by the estates of wealthy Bostonian families from time to time, and found something similar – possibly bearing some religious significance, a reference to “Old Ones” worshipped by some primitive cultures. He decided that perhaps a quick letter to Professor Morgan, the current head of M.U.’s Anthropology department and an expert in many hieroglyphic languages, omitting the details of the discovery of course, might turn up the best possible answer in the shortest amount of time.

By then nearly two hours had passed so Mr. Magnetti posted an “Out to Lunch” sign on the library desk and went to Mr. Humphrey’s cell. He discovered the old fellow dead drunk, passed out on his bunk with a mostly empty glass of the aforementioned swill on the floor near his dangling hand. He shook Mr. Humphrey and called his name to no effect, though the man did roll over and drop an oddly-shaped flat rock from his flaccid hand onto the floor. “No reason to waste a visit,” he thought, and picked up the rock to examine it. The rock itself was of a curious reddish granite though, being no expert in geology, Mr. Magnetti could make no more of it than that. The symbol was indeed quite interesting and he could immediately see that it had not been created by carving or gouging, as it bore no tool marks whatsoever. It almost appeared to have been melted into the surface of the rock.

untitled1That would have been curious in itself, of course, but curiouser yet was what happened next. As Mr. Magnetti examined the symbol on Mr. Humphrey’s unusual find, he began to feel odd – a bit dizzy and slightly faint. In the dim light of the cell, lit by a single bulb dangling from a cord, the symbol almost seemed to be growing. Then, in fact, he became sure that it was growing…expanding beyond even the edges of the rock on which it was engraved. The effect was mesmerizing and, as the symbol continued to grow to surround Mr. Magnetti bodily, his faintness became quite urgent and he lost all sensibility, dropping to the floor in a heap.

When he awoke the light had faded considerably, as if many hours had passed. No lights could be seen anywhere, which was strange because the turnkeys should have already begun rousting the inmates back to their cells for dinner and headcount by this hour. He reached out but could not find the rock he must have dropped when he lost consciousness. He stood and carefully pulled the chain for the cell light. It illuminated the cell only faintly, leaving the corners in deep shadow. “Must need a new bulb,” he thought, as he noticed that Mr. Humphrey was no longer on his bunk…though his mostly empty glass had remained in its previous location.

Mr. Magnetti turned to the open cell door and walked toward it, intending to peek out and look up and down the remarkably quiet cell block. As he did so he nearly fainted again, feeling as if he was sticking his head from a completely dark room into a lighted one…a lighted room that looked remarkably like the cell in which he himself was standing. He was surprised to see a man standing with his back turned just a few feet away. He started to say something to get the man’s attention when he realized the man was wearing his exact suit of clothing. Astounded, Mr. Magnetti jumped back into the cell and looked around, noticing that the back wall of the cell was completely black. Still startled, he reached for Mr. Humphrey’s rickety stool and picked it up, pushing it through the cell door while watching over his shoulder. He relaxed when he saw the legs of the stool appear through the back wall.

“Only a dream,” he thought, “I feared I must be going mad.” Clearly relieved, Mr. Magnetti confidently stepped through the cell door and reappeared…on a spiral staircase surrounded by and descending into darkness. He could just make out the roof of a cavern far above his head. “One devil of a dream, I guess! Well, let’s see where this goes,” he thought, and began to climb down the steps. Suddenly, a thin gout of purplish flame rushed up from far below and licked the ceiling of the cavern. It soon subsided and, as it did so, he followed its ebb to notice that the flame had illuminated the cavern floor. There he saw two men close by the flame. They were curiously dressed, wearing robes and headgear resembling a mitre such as that worn by Bishops of the Church.

And…that’s where we left it. A devil of a dream indeed. Let’s hope, for his sake, that Mr. Magnetti wakes up soon. I have no doubt that LL will have some fine tortures in store for our protagonist next Monday. I just hope he survives…I’m growing to like him.

NB1: The word “curiouser” does not appear in my dictionary either. I figure if it’s good enough for Lewis Carroll then it’s good enough for me…and given the ever-deepening rabbit hole our Mr. Magnetti is currently traversing I thought the reference to Alice’s adventures was somehow appropriate.

NB2: It might interest you that a much more recent resident of Deer Island, Mark Wahlberg, stayed in the very cell Mr. Humphrey occupied in 1928. Well, we don’t know that for sure, but his time there certainly straightened him out some…so maybe he found a rabbit hole while he was there too. 

G:Z – Welcome to Dexter, MO

Posted: November 25, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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Excerpt from the diary of Richard Dawes:

G-Z 1We’ve been on the road for months, all through fall and the start of winter. We’ve lost people along the way. A lot of good people. Andy bought the farm just the other day, or maybe it was last week. We were hitting a grocery store somewhere in Kentucky. It looked pretty clear so Sam even let us cripples help out.

We got a lot of stuff but, on the way back to the front doors, we ran into a good-sized pack of shamblers coming out of the offices at the front. There were too many to fight in that cramped space and there was no way Andy was going to outrun them on one leg and an improvised crutch. He knew he was beaten, had been since we had to take off his leg at the knee, but he was still cocky as ever. Andy grinned and pulled an old grenade he’d been carrying out of his pocket and told us to go. We did. We heard the grenade go off from the parking lot. We said a few words for him over cans of cold beans later that night. Andy hated beans.

dex1Sam hasn’t been quite the same since that day. He’s gone back into lone-wolf mode. I guess Andy was about as close to a friend as Sam ever made. They removed a lot of shambler heads together. I’ve noticed he’s a little more careful these days. Hell, why not. I’ve been cautious ever since they took off my arm because of a little bite on my hand. Sadiq’s always been like that. Police training, I guess. He can’t seem to connect much with that old table leg he carries but he doesn’t ever get hit either. I think Paula’s got a better kill count than he does. You’d think the LPGA was still a going concern as many notches as she’s put on that fancy Ping wood of hers. I guess Jonathan doesn’t kill all that many either but that’s okay because he’s pretty good with a gun and he keeps the HMMWVs running okay. It’s not like I have anything to offer the group anymore. I could sell snow to an Eskimo but I don’t think anybody’s buying anything these days. Most of the people we meet don’t breathe, let alone talk.

That’s all, isn’t it? Just the five of us now. Well, and Buddy. He’s okay, but he still hasn’t really forgiven me for kicking the crap out of him in my sleep during the baby zombie nightmare. We really need to find a place to hunker down. Somewhere safe. Get out of this world for a while.

We rolled into Dexter, MO at around dusk today. I think it’s late December but I’m not sure anymore. Could be Christmas or New Year’s Eve…or it might be just another day at the End of the World. Anyway, I used to have a customer in Dexter and I remember checking out his location on Google Maps back when there was still an Internet. It’s a pretty small place. The graveyard’s bigger than the current population of the town…don’t get me started about my theory on that! Just outside of town, on the east side, I remembered seeing this big junkyard. Thousands of cars just lined up off into the hills. I spent quite a while looking at it.

Mentioned it to Jonathan when I saw the road sign for Dexter and he figured it might be a good place to put in for the night – we could check out the scrap heap and see if there’s anything we could use to get Hummer #2 running a little better. That thing took a beating back at the “Army base”. We managed to replace the two burned tired from a crashed HMMWV outside of Raleigh but it’s been giving us electrical trouble lately. Jonathan figures some of the insulation melted off of wiring somewhere…maybe everywhere, for all I know. Still smells like burned flesh in that thing. I ride in #1 whenever I can.


We found a little house on the outskirts of town, just off of 60 and right before the junkyard. Just drove the Hummers over the shoulder and up to the front door. Hey, who needs roads? We didn’t see many shamblers. There were maybe four of five a good distance off and moving slowly. They don’t seem to do well in the cold. Maybe they’re not decaying as fast, I don’t know, but at least they can’t keep up with you if you move smartly. Anyway, we got out and went up to the door. I gave a knock and an, “Anyone home?” Sam hates that. He’d rather bash down the door and see what happens than maybe alert the (warmish) shamblers inside to our visit. Me? I figure it’s only polite. If I was holed up inside I’d like to be asked nicely to open the door before some fool started swinging axe. Horses for courses, I guess.

I didn’t expect to get an answer anyway. But I did.We heard a gruff voice from inside say, “Don’t you fuckin’ move!” so we didn’t. It was getting dark by now and none of us much fancied saddling up and finding somewhere else to spend the night so I started talking. It’s nice to feel useful. I explained our situation and our mystery homeowner finally came over and removed the barricade. He introduced himself as Marvin Judd. I was skeptical but let it slide. He was pretty sturdy looking, carrying a shotgun and a bow. Survivalist type. My old customer base. That’s a good thing.

We talked about what was going on and what had happened to our group and to him since the Event. Seems he was a consultant to some sort of survivalist reality show. They’d take a him and a crew and a producer and some unlucky sap up into the hills and watch him shed thirty pounds eating twigs and berries and trying to chase squirrel and opossum. Marvin stayed off-camera, giving advice, helping the producer set up situations. I was never much for reality TV but might have watched that one. Anyway, they got done filming and started back to the world. Noticed their cells didn’t work but didn’t think much of it. First “people” they ran into? You guessed it. That took care of his ensemble cast, leaving Marvin on his own. I don’t doubt he was better off for it…here he was today sat in the living room of a loaner home skinning a deer. He said there was plenty and we could share if we were so inclined.

We were, so we blocked off the kitchen the best we could and built a fire in the old oven and smoked the deer while we went on talking over cans of food. The deer didn’t take too long and it sure was good. Don’t think I’ve had fresh meat in a dog’s age, whatever that means. We were all tired after eating so we checked the barricades and turned in for the night.

Meet Richard. He’s my character and he’ll be telling the story of our GURPS: Zombieapocalypse game, now entering Season Three…for as long as he’s around anyway. There’s a thing or two you should know about Richard. He used to, with his wife Joan, operate a Web-based survivalist gear store. Somewhere in Tucson, AZ there’s a “huge warehouse” stocked with “top-of-the-line” surplus military gear, rations, and so forth. Actually it’s just a 10’x20′ storage unit at Lock-It Lockers on Speedway Blvd. and about half of the Dawes’ two-car garage. The other half is taken up by “Arnie”, an Army-surplus GMC pickup in old-style camo.

From this data you may discern that Richard lies. A lot. Compulsively, actually. BUT he does try very hard to be truthful in his diary. If he ever tells a whopper I’ll hopefully catch it and let you know about it. He also has a picture-perfect memory. Remembers simply everything he notices. Main problem is that he’s been a little depressed lately so some things, like the date, have been slipping his mind.

We’ll learn what happened the next morning shortly and we’ll page back through Richard’s diary to have a look at the highlights of Seasons One and Two. Stay tuned…

What is a “Yog-Sothoth”?

Posted: August 5, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
Tags: , , ,

We wrapped up our investigation into the dealings of one Mr. Bernard Corbitt last Sunday. TG was absent so HG managed the affairs of Quinton Nothnagel while LL saw to Harland Doyle.

At around 8:30 am on Tuesday morning, Harland Doyle heard a knock at his front door. He looked through the window and saw his neighbor, Mr. Corbitt, with a basket. When he opened the door, Corbitt wished him good morning and offered the basket, which he said contained some of his latest crop of cucumbers. He also wanted to ask, by the way, if Harland had noticed anyone prowling around his property the day before…as some items seemed to be missing. Harland replied that he, of course, had not seen anyone but that he would certainly keep a close eye on the place in the future. Corbitt, after a momentary narrowing of the eyes, seemed to accept Harland’s word on the matter, thanked him, and headed to his car to head to his office. (MA: This was a Fast Talk roll, which LL beat nicely, followed by a POW vs. POW roll on the Resistance Table, which she did not. Corbitt bought Harland’s story but he’s still a slight bit suspicious. It won’t matter, as we’ll see later.) 

At around 11:00 am, things began happening elsewhere. Just outside of town, Helen and Sam arrived at the Arhham City Dump, the site they suspect has been being used by Mr. Corbitt and his associate from the hospital, Mr. Tomaszewski. The gates were closed and locked, this being outside of normal operating hours, so they parked their car and began walking around the perimeter fence. Near the back they found a spot where the chain-link fence had been breached; several links had been cut, opening up a hole large enough for a man to squeeze through. Sam and Helen did just this. They looked around and found a couple of mounds that appeared to be where the hospital dumped its refuse, recognizable because it contained old bedsheets, smocks, wrappings from medical supplies, and so forth. No body parts were to be found, however.

Meanwhile, Dr. Black used this time to visit to the M.U. library and St. Mary’s to learn what he could about Tomaszewski. He searched past Arkham newspapers at the library but only found one story, dated three months previous, in which the Arkham Police Department announced that it had arrested Randolph Tomaszewski as a suspect in a rash of pet disappearances, though he was later released for lack of evidence. At the hospital, Black was able to briefly examine Tomaszewski’s employment records. His files contained no real irregularities, no disciplinary actions, and noted the man was currently employed as an orderly often tasked with cleaning up after surgeries, properly disposing of medical waste and discarded organs and so forth. The hospital logs all visitors to the facility and Black, upon examining those logs, noted several lunchtime visits to Tomaszewski by a Mr. Bernard Corbitt.  

Back in the M.U. library, Dale looked into Corbitt’s supposed “master”, Ramasekva. In the anthropology collection he found many references to the multi-limbed god of Hindi mythology. Ramasekva was one of the Asuras, power-seeking gods often considered to be evil and opposed by the good Devas. He read on the subject for hours, and it was fascinating material, but found little of practical use.

Quinton followed up on a reference in Corbitt’s journals to Ramasekva’s relation to “Yog-Sothoth” mentioned in Corbitt’s copy of Theophilus Wenn’s True Magick. As Helen didn’t take Corbitt’s copy he searched for it in the library, only to find that it had recently been moved to the “restricted reading” section, its perusal subject to the approval of the library director. Fortunately, Quinton was well-acquainted with Dr. Henry Armitage and was able to approach him on the subject. After some wrangling, Armitage agreed to allow Quinton to view the volume under his supervision.

The reference Corbitt mentioned was vague, simply stating that Ramasekva might be an aspect of a god called Yog-Sothoth but it contained no further details on that entity. Armitage, who had been reading over Quinton’s shoulder, was intrigued by Quinton’s research though he didn’t yet know its purpose. He carefully brought out a volume that might shed some light on the subject: a book called The Necronomicon, as translated into English by one Dr. John Dee in 1586. The contents were mind-blowing to Quinton but, specific to his line of inquiry, detailed an entity known variously as Yazrael/Azrael, Yog-Sothoth, the All-in-one, the Opener of the Way, the Gate and the Key, and a number of other appellations. Yog-Sothoth supposedly dwells in the interstices of the planes that compose the universe…and its main desire is to enter our plane to feast upon the life it contains. Given Corbitt’s entries concerning the future of his “child” as a gate for Ramasekva/Yog-Sothoth, he found this revelation slightly terrifying.

The group reunited in the early afternoon to discuss their findings. Though clearly fantastic, they had begun to fear that Corbitt might be slightly more than a simple madman and resolved to do something about it. Sam put in a call to detective Mickey Harrigan at the Arkham Police Department. He had worked with Harrigan in the past and knew him to be a forthright and honest individual. Harrigan agreed to look into the matter and obtain a warrant to search Corbitt’s home if he could back up their claims about Tomaszewski. 

Our friends retired to the home of Harland Doyle, where they told him what they had learned and the action they had taken. Though Harland wasn’t too happy about police involvement, he eventually agreed that it was probably the best course of action, given the potential (unbelievable) stakes if Corbitt turned out to be more than mad. Apparently the wheels of justice turn quickly in Arkham because, at around 6:30 pm, two police cars and an unmarked sedan arrived at Corbitt’s. As the group watched from Harland’s front room, the men quickly moved to the front and rear entrances and Harrigan approached the front door bearing some sort of official-looking papers.

Corbitt answered the door and Harrigan showed him the papers and continued speaking with him as the policemen went into the home. After just a short while gunshots were heard and one of the police officers returned hurriedly to the porch and reported to Harrigan. Corbitt was soon handcuffed and taken to one of the police cars. Harrigan and the officer went back inside for a while and then two officers drove Corbitt away in one car while two more and Harrigan stayed inside the home. Harrigan could be seen pacing inside for quite some time. At around 8:30 pm, two more unmarked cars and a van arrived at Corbitts. Men in suits exited the vehicle and entered the home. The men and the officers began carrying boxes and other items from the home and placing them in the van and, at some point, the sound of automatic gunfire could be heard from the home. Harrigan continued pacing. At about 10:00 pm, a truck from the Arkham fire department arrived though the firemen standing near the vehicle took no action as the men in suits and officers left the home and flames began to consume it.

Apparently, according to one of the men in suits questioned by Harland during the events of the evening, the home and Corbitt were the source of a terrible infectious disease and the government had taken steps to neutralize the potential threat to Arkham and surrounding towns and cities. The next morning’s issue of the Arkham Advertiser would run a story describing the burning of Corbitt’s home and containing a similar statement from health officials. Harrigan, later questioned on the matter by Sam, seemed shaken and hadn’t much to say on the matter other than “They…they burned down the house…”

Indeed. Well, the citizens of Arkham and environs owe a debt of gratitude to our friends. Infectious disease, if not controlled quickly, can be a very dangerous thing.

It looks as if we’ll continue to follow our group of new friends for a few more weeks. There are more than a few mysteries waiting to be solved in mysterious Arkham and its surrounding towns. In fact, I hear there’s some recent funny business over Innsmouth way…

NB: Armitage and Harrigan were chosen during play as contacts for Quinton and Sam, respectively. During character creation I had the players roll 3d4-2 for each character, the result being the number of generic contacts they had amassed during their lives to that point. Who are they? We don’t know yet but will assign them as the need arises during play. That gives the players a tool for getting help when they need it and gives me a nice way to link their characters into the setting and story as things develop. Additionally, Credit Rating helps determine the status of contacts. If you’ve got a 75% rating then roughly three out of four of your contacts are going to be “reputable”. If you have a 25% it’ll be the inverse. If your rating is very high then you probably know at least one or two very important reputable people, such as the mayor or a prominent banker. If it’s low then maybe you know Danny O’Bannion or similar. Most contacts, however, are in the middle zone…neither terribly reputable or disreputable, but maybe just a slight leaning either direction. This won’t be implemented as an exact equation or anything like that. It’s designed to be an inspiration for character development, not a crunchy game rule that acts as a restraint.

What they found in Mr. Corbitt’s basement

Posted: July 29, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
Tags: , , ,

Last Sunday we picked up where we left off.

Monday morning came and Helen Brewer and Sam Green gathered at Harland Doyle’s house at 11:30 am, as agreed the night before. Helen had, thoughtfully, brought with her a covered basket so they could visit Mr. Corbitt’s back yard under the guise of “vegetable picking”. They crossed the street at noon, walking casually so as to attract no attention even though few neighbors were expected to be home and Harland knew from observation that Corbitt rarely, if ever, returns home for lunch.

On reaching the back yard, the group examined the steps to the cellar entrance and the back door to the kitchen. They decided to try the kitchen door. It was locked, of course, but Sam had it open in a trice. They entered and looked around the ground floor. Noticing nothing of real interest, they located what must be the door to the basement, also locked, and Sam again plied his locksmithing skills with great success. Helen and Sam proceeded into the basement and had a look around the fairly normal laundry and mudroom/storage area while Harland investigated upstairs.

In the  kitchen, Harland found some nice thinly sliced Virginia ham from the deli in the refrigerator and took a little to nibble. Mr. Corbitt’s front room, he saw, was set up as a sort of home office: on the desk was a binder brimming with extensive notes on botany and, on the shelf above the desk, was a collection of what appeared to be journals and a number of odd volumes with titles like True Magick and at least one titled in an unknown (to Harland anyway) language. Finding nothing of apparent significance, Harland decided to leave again through the back door and examine the small basement windows at the front of the house…the windows from which odd sounds had been heard the night before.

Meanwhile, down in the basement, Helen and Sam had discovered nothing of real interest except for two locked doors, both apparently leading into a room on the west side of the house. The lock on the door from the mudroom was too difficult for Sam’s skill but he reckoned he could jimmy the other with a little effort and set to work on it. Around the time the lock was just  about ready to give up, Harland managed to slide open the unlocked basement window at the front of the house. As he did so, he heard glass breaking and saw some movement. Sam called out to him and he tried to answer but communication proved difficult. Looking in, Harland noted a rumpled blanket and bowl of water in the corner of what appeared to be a work room of some sort. He assumed Corbitt perhaps kept a dog in his basement, though he had never noticed the man with one, and shouted into the basement to warn his friends (MA: Accomplices? It is a B&E, after all!) 

Harland lowered himself into the room, wary of Mr. Corbitt’s pet, which he could now hear in the room straight ahead. Around that time, the creature must have become even more spooked because it began bashing into the very door Sam was attempting to unlock. Sam persevered and soon heard the lock click. He opened it a crack, expecting a dog’s snout. He did not, however, expect an arm with painted nails to squirm through the gap, accompanied by a catlike-hissing sound. Helen began to shriek and Sam forced the door closed. He sent her up to close the door to the cellar…which she gladly did. She was more than happy to be on the other side when it closed.

Sam slowly opened the door and found that the creature had retreated to hide under a table. Both he and Harland, now cautiously entering the lab from the work room, took in its disturbing visage at about the same time: it appeared to be a woman’s head, but with two arms sprouting from where there would normally be ears and a single leg attached somehow to its neck. It behaved rather more like a cat than a dog, and especially more so than a woman-head-with-arms-and-a-leg-thing, and appeared quite scared. Sam lost his cool a bit but both he and Harland grabbed brooms and similar implements with the idea of shooing it into a kennel Harland had noticed in the work room.

Upstairs, Helen was still recovering from her fright but regained her composure enough to begin her own investigation of the first floor. In the front room, she flipped through the botanical journal and noticed some odd notations that she felt Dale would surely understand. She also paged through the journals – there were several of them, apparently one for each of the last fourteen years. What she found there disturbed her greatly but, nonetheless, she scooped them and the botanical notes into her basket when she later heard Harland and Sam climbing the basement stairs.

After a great deal of effort, Harland and Sam managed to get the scampering woman-thing into the kennel and locked the door. They looked around the lab and found an extensive collection of surgical implements, what appeared to be a refrigerated chest with (possibly) human connective tissues, and other strange things. In the back of a locked and empty closet, Sam discovered a loose panel and decided to open it despite the strong smell and odd gurgling noise coming from within. Inside he beheld an impossibility: a creature whose body appeared to be a huge, dense mucus with the consistency of an overcooked pudding. On its surface three great vents, closed by wrinkly lips, rhythmically aspirated with puffing, wheezing sounds. Ten children’s legs of various colors and sizes rimmed the lower part of the body, while fifteen chubby little arms encircled the upper side, writhing and grasping at nothing.

Sam quickly shut the panel, exited the closet, and relocked the door. “We need to go,” he whispered to Harland. Trembling and silent about what he had seen, Sam retained the presence of mind to enlist Harland in carefully wiping down any fingerprints they might have left and they prepared to leave the basement following one more task: releasing the woman-thing from its kennel. This, thankfully, was achieved without additional drama (though gazing upon it again was not pleasurable) and the pair went upstairs, closing and relocking doors behind them. They found Helen in the front room, cleaned up anything touched, and exited again by the back door. Back at Harland’s home, the group went their separate ways, agreeing to meet up again that evening at Dr. Black’s country estate.

Helen neglected to mention the purloined journals and notebook. She later showed these to Dale, who found them quite interesting, and brought them with her to Dr. Black’s that evening. They told an unusual tale: Corbitt’s father slain by an Indian “god”  called Ramasekva who later began to make demands of him, including to be allowed to father a child on his wife and for him to surgically alter the unholy, shapeless spawn of that union as it matured, to prepare it for life on this plane of existence. It detailed Corbitt’s dark experiments with tissue grafting and his rituals to contact this Ramasekva to learn his bidding. It spoke of the “child’s” future role as the “Bridge”, a necessary part of “The Opening of the Way”…whatever that may be.

Upon examining the journals, the members of the group knew that they must learn more. Was Corbitt merely mad, or was something more afoot? It was decided that all but Harland would spend Tuesday investigating the matter further and then decide what to do. Dale and Quinton would go to the Miskatonic University to investigate the odd supernatural things mentioned in the journal while Dr. Black would looke into a certain Mr. Tomaszewski, a hospital orderly who had apparently supplied body parts to Corbitt, and Helen and Sam would visit the town dump, where Mr. Corbitt has been retrieving the parts left for him by Tomaszewski.

We’ll take up this case once again next Sunday.