Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hospital Inspection

Armitage Files Session 4

So I'm still learning how to do this whole blogging thing and one of my big lessons is that it's easy to skip a couple of weeks. Things got busy at work, summer evenings outdoors beckoned, and suddenly three weeks since my last post goes by!

At any rate, I owe a post from our second tabletop session from three weeks ago. Present were the players of Dr. Krombach, Fredrick Perrin and the P.I. Monroe. The player of Glen Cameron was off so Mr. Cameron was recovering from injuries and mental fatigue.

This session began with a general discussion of what to do next between Dr. Krombach and Fredrick Perrin in Dr. Krombach's office. The investigators had a couple of leads; the Kingsport Yacht club, references to a hospital, an asylum, a military base, a charity organization called the Helping Hands, even an amature astronomy associating amoung other things, along with the mysterious Tears of Azazoth.

This discussion was interrupted by the arrival of Fred Monroe, the P.I. sent to find Ms. Crumpot, the socialite who'd been missing since the events from "The Book". Mr. Monroe had indeed found Ms. Crumpot (and John happily came up with a few unsavoury details around the recovery of Ms Crumpot, which I'm sure her player will have a few words over...). Ms. Crumpot was in rough shape, having been using the same time distorting drug that Dr. Krombach had been experimenting with as well as being guided (or perhaps manipulated) by the spirit of a long dead time travelling poet for the last six months. Dr. Krombach examined her and pronounced that she required rest and better diet, and decided to put her under the care of Mr. Cameron while she recovered.

A squid you say?
Meanwhile Mr. Monroe became intrigued by the conversation regarding the investigation so far, especially where it concerned the Kingsport Yacht Club. As it turned out Mr. Monroe had a brother - an accountant who worked for a number of organizations, including the yacht club, who went missing two years before. At the time he had believed that his brother had been a victim of alcoholism and the resulting paranoid delusions. However, he had just been informed a few weeks previously that his brother's desiccated corpse had been discovered in an old oil barrel in a rundown warehouse (which had been leased for a time to the Yacht Club)on the outskirts of Arkham. Very strangely, the corpse was missing it's lower jaw and had what appeared to be the body of a squid surgically attached in its place. When Mr. Perrin offered to employ Mr. Monroe to assist in their investigation, he readily agreed ($2 a day plus expenses).

On hearing this, Mr. Perrin observed quite astutely that it was a remarkable coincidence. And in fact there were a number of remarkable coincidences in which the investigators and those around them were connected. Though ominous, the investigators did not know what to make of this yet.

The investigators then left to drop Ms. Crumpot off in the care of Mr. Cameron and to reconvine at Mr. Perrin's estate. On arriving at the mansion, they found that the gangsters had come by for a chat, making themselves at home and helping themselves to Mr. Perrin's fine scotch. Not only were the two thugs and the weasly lawyer, Mr Nugent present, but so was the big boss himself, Mr "Diamond" Walsh.

Walsh wanted the investigators, Mr. Perrin in particular, to carry out some inquires that he and his men were ill equipped for. Specifically, he wanted them to find out what Oliver Gardiner at the Kingsport Yacht club was up to. Walsh had been laundering money for the yacht club for a few years, a profitable and straightforward business in his eyes. About 18 months ago, Gardiner had requested that Walsh transport patients from a local hospital, St. Anthony's, to a small military base on the outskirts of town. Gardiner had told him it was part of a secret government program to "rehabilitate" the mentally defective. Walsh, seeing himself to be an all-American business man was all too happy to help in a clandestine but patriotic operation. However, this turned to unease when a short while later Gardiner requested that he supply him with the occasional miscreant, vagrant or other undesirable, for the experiment or "enterprise" as he put it. Transporting patients was one thing, supplying them was another. Walsh had no shortage of "undesirables" in his business and he did send a few Gardiner's way. Gardiner was never satisfied though and wanted more. Very recently he demanded that Walsh supply him with healthy younger people, and even children. Walsh, hardened gangster that he was, did have limits, and this was definitely one of them. He had children himself, and the idea of snatching honest hard working Americans off the street was, well, unAmerican. Walsh refused, but felt compelled to discover what Gardiner was up to. He was no fool and knew such an investigation would require finer methods than what his men could apply. Hence his request of the investigators. Owing the gangster for taking the heat for the death of Mr. Kittrell, the investigators agreed. And Mr. Perrin noted that it was yet another disturbing coincidence that they should also be investigating the Kingsport Yacht club

The next day the investigators headed to the yacht club. Mr. Perrin was a lapsed member, having joined years previously but not really participating in any meaningful way, or even visting in the last few years except for the occasional lunch. And lunch is what they decided to have once they got there. In the ornate and richly decorated luncheon room they sat munching on a heavy dish of Beef Wellington. There were a few other lunchers present, and Mr. Perrin decided to begin speaking loudly about how empty his life had become and how he longed to be part of some greater endeavour or enterprise to which he could contribute his passion and fortune. The other dinners resolutely ignored him, but one youngish professional looking man was watching him intently over his folded newspaper. Mr. Perrin decided to approach and found that the young man was a Dr George Belling who worked at St. Anthony's. There was a faint whiff of chloroform about him and his smile seemed a little too intense. Dr. Belling invited Mr. Perrin to return on Thursday evening (three days time) to hear a little private speech by the club president, Mr. Gardiner that may give some direction to the emptiness of Perrin's life. Perrin agreed and the investigators left.

With three days to fill before the Thursday night speech, the investigators decided to make a trip to the New York library to see if they could locate this mysterious tome, the Tears of Azazoth, mentioned in the documents. At the library peculiar things started happening when they asked about the Tears of Azazoth. One particularly aged librarian at first denied ever hearing of the book (certainly it wasn't in the card catalogue) but then seemed to think that maybe he had heard of it the more he thought about it. He suggested looking in the mythology section in the lower stacks, which Dr. Krombach promptly did. There, in the dim, dusty and silent stacks he encountered an old woman, with eyes partially covered in cataracts. The woman seemed to be mumbling "Azazoth, Azazoth" under her breath as she trailed her boney fingers over the spines of ancient books. When the doctor quietly and somewhat trepidiciously asked her if she was looking for the Tears of Azazoth, she turned and screeched "You fool! By saying it you have made it true!". The doctor fell back with a sudden tight chest, the world spinning for an instant and when he recovered, the old woman was no where to be seen.

On the way back from New York, the investigators also stopped in Providence to visit an antique booksellers. There they encountered a similar experience where the booksellers at first denied ever hearing of the tome, then seemed to recollect hearing of it, but not remembering precisely where or when.

The New York trip taking a long day of travel, the investigators decided to call it a night. The next day they decided to check out St Anthony's hospital, since a hospital was mentioned in the documents, Walsh had named it and the intense Dr. Belling worked there. They decided to go in the evening around 9pm when there would be a reduced staff and no visitors. Arriving at the hospital they very convincingly identified themselves as county health inspectors on a spot check, and bluffed their way into a tour of the basement. Lead by a decrepit janitor, Dr. Krombach and Mr. Monroe found evidence of people having been shackled up in a storeroom. Meanwhile, Mr. Perrin managed to slip away and track down the office of Dr. Billing and clumsily break in.In that office he found secured in a desk drawer a curious journal that described something called the "great enterprise". It was quite vague but suggested that subjects where being used in some form of experiment with a serum and that it was transformative. These experiments had been going on for a number of years, but now with financial backing and proper facilities supplied, progress was being made. This was enough for our investigators to decide that they needed to pay a visit to Dr. Belling immediately.

I will combine this man with daffodils! Bahahaha!
Locating his address on an envelope in his office, the three set off across town to the modern brick house of Dr. Belling. Mr. Monroe knocked on the door and presented himself as a police inspector to the doctor, who had obviously just got out of bed. Mr. Monroe suggested there was something wrong with the doctor's fancy new car and once the doctor stepped out, the P.I. expertly man-handled him, hand over mouth, to the waiting roadster of Mr. Perrin. With threats and a few slaps, Mr. Monroe managed to intimidate Dr Belling into talking. According to the doctor he was part of a great enterprise to save humanity (from what wasn't clear). Lead by the visions of Oliver Gardiner, they had contacted alien intelligences from beneath the sea. In exchange for a few riff-raff, the sea creatures left an incredible liquid, a serum, inscrutable to modern science but profoundly powerful in its ability to facilitating the "fusion" of species, to build a stronger more powerful race. The experiments where being carried out at a local military base.

Realizing that they could not release the doctor, but unsure of what to do with him, the investigators took him back to Mr. Perrin's mansion. There Mr. Perrin chucked the bound Belling into a baroque antique iron maiden type device (he does collect bizarre items), but did not activate it. Dr. Krombach was very uncomfortable with this and made it clear that no one was going to be subjected to barbaric medieval torture while he was around, no matter how evil they may be. There was a bit of an argument, but Mr. Perrin reluctantly agreed and they shut him in a broom closet instead.

The investigators then sat down for a drink to discuss their next moves which is where we left it for the night.

Notes from this session:

  • There was a great deal of debate this session on next actions. No lack of good ideas to follow up on, just wrangling over which ones to deal with first. I like the in character debate, but I'm also conscious of our limited time. We'll have to work at balancing it out with some action.
  • I made it clear that if any investigator subjects anyone to torture beyond a few slaps while intimidating, there would be a sanity penalty (and it's quite steep). I even had them do a sanity check when chucking the doctor into the iron maiden without activating it, although they all passed. As Todd said "Dr. Krombach is very much against this, but a tiny part of him wants to see what happens..."
  • Ms Crumpot's player is back at the next session, so she'll be ready to join in, so we'll have all five players present (huzzah!)
  • This was only our second table top session and they've made quite a bit of progress. We have three more sessions, possibly four over the rest of the summer, before the campaign goes on hold for a bit.
  • I'm on holiday so the next session isn't until August 3rd.