Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cthulhu Gaslight: Egyptian Murders

Cast of Characters:
Thomas Roquefort, American, archaeologist and adventurer, recently arrived in London after an expedition to Egypt
Richard George Thomas Lumley, second son of the Earl of Scarbrough
Jasper Burnside, physician and in the last two years something of a hermit. It's common knowledge that he has lost someone close and there are rumours aplenty for those willing to listen (he's my character)

London, November 10th 1890, Monday

All three arrive at the club at the same time. Richard choses to read while Thomas and Jasper play chess and make small talk. Other guests at the club are Sir Thomas Kincaid, a renowned archaeologist and friend of Roquefort, who is deep in conversation with Dr Mortimer Laydon, the Royal physician.
For Thomas, who knows Kincaid well, it is fairly obvious that the man is distressed and nervous, but Kincaid doesn't want to talk about it at the moment. Higgins, the butler of the club, brings a visiting card by a non-member who wishes to meet with Kincaid and Laydon, who leave to meet their guest in a room upstairs.

A few minutes after that a slight noise can be heard, like metal on metal, followed by a cry of pain. That's enough to bring both Jasper and Thomas running upstairs, Richard follows more slowly since he hasn't heard the cry. They arrive just in time to see Higgins open the door to the room which proves fatal for him when a person in a black burnous attacks him with a knife. When the attacker sees that he's not alone, he quickly moves back into the room with a curse in a language Thomas recognises as Egyptian Arabic.
*click for adventure*

Richard goes into the next room in search of a weapon, Jasper attends to Higgins (who is already dead) and Thomas opens the door, gets shot at and shoots back, hitting but not stopping the last of the two persons in the room who flee through the window. Left on the floor is Dr Laydon who has been pistol-whipped and who is unconscious. Jasper sees to him while both Thomas and Richard follow the attackers out of the window into the backyard, but they cannot find them any more.

The fired shots have already attracted the attention of the police and constables are arriving at the club. Everyone is gathered in the main room and an Inspector Fox takes their statements. He also wants to take the statement to Dr Laydon who has woken up in the meantime, but has to wait until Jasper allows him to. Laydon is in fairly good shape, but not all that helpful. At least he can tell Fox that the gentleman (albeit in rather cheap clothes) who left his visiting card showed Kincaid some documents when four men in burnouses came through the window and abducted Kincaid. The gentleman was obviously in league with them because he left the same way, not without taking the documents with him.

Thomas takes a closer look at the dagger and at a small scroll Jasper discovered in the upstairs room. The scroll shows a drawing of Thoth, as does the handle of the dagger, an exceptionally big weapon.
Inspector Fox invites all three of them to the Yard at nine o'clock next morning and hints that the whole affair might be connected to very important things.

November 11th 1890, Tuesday

Thomas and Jasper arrive at the Yard a bit early and are brought upstairs where they meet Inspector Fox again as well as Doctor Laydon, Sir Jeffrey Hull (the Queen's Counsel) and Lady Catherine Kincaid, Sir Thomas Kincaid's daughter. Richards arrives fashionably late.

When everybody's there, Fox explains that there has been a series of murders at the East End, all of them prostitutes, where a drawing of Thoth has been left at the scene. Kincaid had been asked by the police to act as a consultant and he seemed to have come to some results that he wanted to present at the Yard today, which may well be the reason for his abduction. Since he's gone, the police would like to enroll Thomas, Richard and Jasper to give the case their professional opinion. When Richards argues that he doesn't have a professional opinion, Fox takes him aside and says something to him that makes him think otherwise.

The murders are thought to have a connection to the Egyptian League (a club dedicated to preserving and acquiring Egyptian artefacts) by the public and the Royal Family is eager to clear that up since Prince Albert Victor is chairman of the League. Kincaid had talked to the Prince and had been given information important to the case. It seems that Dr Laydon knows something as well but cannot reveal it since he's bound by his professional discretion. Sir Jeffrey says he might be able to arrange an audience with the Prince.

Jasper asks if there are any photos of the victims and if there were autopsies. He's allowed access to the records which include fairly gruesome photos. Fox says that the police assume that the murdered must have some skill with a knife, a butcher maybe. Jasper suggests someone with a medical degree and is met with disbelieve from Laydon, who simply refuses to even consider that. Whatever the profession of the murderer, he has removed one organ from each of his victims: liver, lung and stomach.

Thomas takes another look at the knife and can decipher the inscription: "there is no peace on the other side". The hieroglyphs also form the word "Ni ha lat hotep" and he has heard that before, but simply cannot place it.

They agree to work on this case and promise regular updates for Fox and Sir Jeffrey as well as Lady Catherine of course, who is understandably anxious for her father.

Yes, yet another 1890s Cthulhu-round. One of our players wanted to GM and we didn't want to add another player to the two 2 player-rounds we already run, so a new round it was. We decided that the characters all knew each other because they are members of the same club, so it was fairly easy to get them together.

The GM obviously put a lot of work into the adventure. There were quite a few handouts, something I always like. The strength of this GM is the ability to create believable characters, it's something that makes him a great player and it's a gift for GMing as well.

We had a hilarious moment when Jasper made some small talk with Thomas over a game of chess and Thomas put his foot in it, I'd say easily up to the knee at least.

*the other players may not want to read why*

Jasper has lost his wife in childbirth, the baby didn't survive much longer. There were quite some rumours about that, including the one where he killed his wife and child on purpose. Thomas knows that people talk, but has not heard the rumours. He tells Jasper that and says "Well, if you listen to rumour, we both are child murderers or something." I almost howled.

Jasper makes a roll for composure and manages to keep a straight face. Thomas makes some more small talk, managing to touch two more really delicate issues. If he had been trying on purpose to make Jasper uncomfortable, he couldn't have done a better job.

You can read Richard's point of view here and here

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