The Armitage Files is an improvised campaign structure. It uses a number of stock pieces, such as NPCs, organizations, and locations, that are strung together by individual GMs to fit player action. The adventures I create with it may or may not match any other GMâ€™s version of the campaign. That means that reading these posts may or may not offer spoilers for other game groups.
**You Have Been Warned**
**Extra-Special Spoiler Warning**
The basic spine for this investigation is outlined in The Armitage Files book. The adventure below doesn’t follow it exactly – with the improvised structure of the game, there’s really no way it can – but the report below can be pretty spoilerific as to the broad strokes. So, think carefully before reading this one.
**Seriously, Dude, You Have Been Warned**
Saturday night, we got back to The Armitage Files. It was the start of a new investigation, and after the little trick I pulled last session, wherein Aaron Moon got a brief glimpse of The Tears of Azathoth, the group decided to follow up what they could on that elusive tome. They had a new set of documents to wade through for clues, as well ((Document Four, for those of you playing along at home.)), so they wound up with a number of references to the book.
I was wracking my brain, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the tome in question: which version did I want to use, did I want to get it into their hands now, what did it contain, where was it, all that sort of stuff. Flipping through the book for inspiration, I found that one of the sample scenario spines dealt with trying to get the book, and had an interesting side element involved, as well. I read it over a couple of times, thought about it for a day or so, and decided that I would use the basics of that spine ((With a few little tweaks, of course.)) for this investigation.
We started the game with our plucky (but increasingly nervous) heroes latching on to the idea that the book was probably still in the MU library, but lost or misfiled or concealed. They talked with several of the members of the Armitage group who were mentioned by name in the documents as having something to say about the book, but didn’t get a lot of traction. None of them remembered it, until they got to Rice, who thought he had recalled Llanfer (the librarian) mentioning it to him.
The investigators were already somewhat suspicious of Llanfer, because he seemed reluctant to let them paw through the rare book collection unsupervised, so the fact that Rice seemed to be giving him the lie really roused their suspicion. The explanation to this whole bit is under the spoiler tag:
There was some discussion about breaking into the library to search for Tears without interruption ((Which prompted one player to say, “You realize we’ve descended to the level of the Whatley clan, right?”)), but they decided to actually ask for permission first. With Armitage’s blessing, the group was given leave to search the rare book collection at MU. I used this opportunity to show why Llanfer was so reluctant to let the unwashed masses ((Yes, Moon is very mindful of the proper way to store and handle books, but really, he’s a tradesman, not a true collector. 😉 ))run rampant through his books – the security procedures, the care in handling, the specific storage requirements for rare books, and so on. By the end of the search – which did not turn up the book – everyone had a better idea about what the rare book collection was about.
So, they pulled a name reference out of the file – Wolfe-Dietrich Gudzun, who is listed as a “late fortune-teller and embezzler,” and started looking for him ((Actually, now that I think about it, Roxy was working on this from the start, while Moon and Solis went snooping around the library. She also sent a telegram to Austin Kittrell, recuperating in Europe, telling him to look for the book. The response was less than agreeable.)). She tracked down a reference to him operating a spiritualist scam in Kingsport about a year and a half previous, when he vanished from the jail cell after being arrested for fraud.
This sounded promising, but further investigation into his mysterious disappearance uncovered a pretty mundane explanation: the mob had threatened him if he didn’t share the proceeds of his scam, and got him arrested to make their point. Gudzun bribed a sergeant to unlock the door and look the other way while he scampered off to New York and a new identity.
They tracked him, now with the name Wallace Goodson, to New York City, where he was working as an accountant. Bearding him in his den, as it were, they managed to reassure him that they weren’t here to hurt him or to muscle in on his current scam ((Said scam involved moving a lot of money in and out of his clients’ accounts to create the expectation for these sorts of transfers at the bank and rudimentary, ponzi-like reallocation of funds, showing each client that the short-term loans always produced a nice profit. Meantime, he was dosing himself with household cleansers to appear sicker and sicker. That way, when he faked his death and all the money disappeared into his pockets, no one would come looking.)), he relaxed and spoke very frankly with them. Unfortunately, he could offer no information about the Tears.
During the conversation, though, he got steadily more agitated and distracted, until he finally dug a quarter out of his pocket and stuck it into a strange, bronze coin bank on his deck. Immediately, he calmed down, and was able to focus again.
Moon took a good look at the statue, and I showed the group this picture, while giving Moon a rundown on what his Occult skill told him about Buer, the demon represented there. Solis’s Medical skill told him the behaviour they had witnessed was similar to morphia addicts needing a fix. When questioned about the bank, Goodson was again quite forthcoming, telling them he had bought it from a street peddler in Five Points ((Okay. This is New York City, in a Cthulhu game. I fully intended to use Red Hook as the setting for the peddler bit, but Michael, one of the players, immediately started talking about how the adventure was going to end up in Red Hook as soon as I mentioned NYC, so I changed it on the fly to Five Points. Screw you, Michael.)).
Not getting any solid lead on Tears, the group left, planning to keep an eye on Goodson – Roxy was pretty sure that they had spooked him and that he’d bee cutting and running now. On the other hand, they didn’t want to spook him any more than they already had, so they gave him a little distance, going for supper before beginning surveillance.
And, of course, they lost him during that time.
So, Moon and Solis decided to break into his office – Roxy, the skilled burglar, was watching Goodson’s home in Greenwitch Village. The burglary was ham-handed and unsubtle, but effective. They found that three files had been taken from his office, along with the Buer bank.
Roxy, meanwhile, was caught up in another vision of the watery, giant city that she’s been haunted by. She regained consciousness just as Moon and Solis arrived to join her, and they broke into Goodson’s home. There, they found two of the three files that had been taken from his office, evidence that he’d packed a traveling case in a hurry, and a missing kitchen knife. They knew the name of the client for the file that was still missing, so they looked her up in the telephone book and took a taxi to her home.
Which was surrounded by police. Goodson had broken in and stabbed her to death, but had been shot by police as he tried to open her safe and empty it of valuables. Solis and Roxy talked their way past the police line to examine Goodson’s body, and retrieved the Buer bank. Meanwhile, Moon caught sight of a shadowy figure slipping away down an alley, and gave chase.
In the alley, he saw a man with a large duffel bag on his back fleeing. He also met a nightgaunt that almost managed to drag him off to god knows where. He slipped out of its grasp, though, and fled back to the street and the police, and the fleeing man called the creature off.
It being late, our intrepid heroes decided to retire for the night to a hotel and get some sleep in shifts before trying to track down this mysterious peddler the next day. Each of them had a dream that night that struck at their drive:
- Moon (Thirst For Knowledge) dreamed of a vast stone temple, almost Greek in style, with The Tears of Azathoth sitting on a plinth in the centre. He tried to approach it, but was stopped by a strange man who asked what he’d give for the book. Moon tried to push past him, and woke up in bed with a bloody nose.
- Solis (Curiosity) dreamed of a strange blue puzzle-box being delivered to the hotel room, and a strange man saying that he could have it, if he was willing to pay. Solis turned his back on the box (and his drive), and woke up very shaken.
- Roxy (Ennui) dreamed she was in an empty, bare room with a single silver door. She sat there for a while, until she got bored, and then picked the lock to find a long staircase leading down. A strange man started to make a pitch to guide her to a land of incredible wonders, but was interrupted by some deep, resonating, booms far down the stairs. Then water started flowing up them. He looked at Roxy, terrified, and said, “Who else is in your mind?” Cue the tentacles bursting through the floor, grasping them both, and dragging them into the depths. Roxy woke up somewhat disturbed.
And that’s where we left it. They’ve got a number of questions, and some good clues and hints to follow up. I expect to wrap this particular investigation up next session, though there are loose threads that will probably wind their way into future investigations.
Looking forward to next time.