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**
It’s been a while since the last Armitage Files game. Even though I’ve only got three players, getting them together in this recent season of deadlines and illness and travel has been a bit of a challenge. But we managed to get together last Friday night and play1, and it was good to get back to the game.
We opened a little slow – last session, if you recall, one of the characters died, and the opening of this session was introducing the player’s new character to the group. This is always a bit delicate, especially in a game of horror and conspiracy, where the current characters have every reason to distrust newcomers. Fortunately, we had worked out the basics of the approach at the end of the previous session, and my players are all more than willing to meet me half-way to make the game happen2.
The idea was that the new character, a parapsychologist named Malcolm Crosby, had a book that he wanted to sell, and took it to Moon, the bookseller, to handle the sale for him. I asked what the book was, and got a request for a treatise on the weird automata that the gang had found in Emigrant. “Fat chance of that,” I explained, “Pick something else, you cheater.”3 The next request was, I believe, for The Tears of Azathoth, which is a big clue and MacGuffin in the campaign4. Again, I gently advised, “Stop trying to cheat, you cheating bastards!”
I suggested instead that the item in question not be a book, but a collection of letters from the Fox sisters. These would be quite valuable to collectors of spiritualist paraphernalia, and Moon’s expertise in authenticating such items and his contacts in that community would both be useful in getting top dollar for the letters.
There was some good character interaction between Moon and Crosby, and I played a little bit with Moon’s time-perception problem, and Moon called on Roxy to bring him a book he had left at her place with examples of the Fox sisters’ handwriting5, so they managed to all get together in one place a little quicker than I had feared.
Anyway. Moon did his authentication of the Fox letters, and spent a point on it, so I gave him something interesting – I told him that the letters seemed to be partial palimpsests, where portions of the page had been scraped down to remove what had been written there,and then something new had been written on the newly blank sections. He figured that he could recover some of the text that had been scraped off6, but that it would likely be a destructive process, ruining the chance of reselling the letters.
Moon explained this to Crosby, who was more intrigued by what might be hidden in the letters, quickly gave his consent, and Moon went to work. After a few hours7, Moon managed to piece together a few little snippets of text: “hotep,” “little glass snowmen,” “Cho-Cho,” and “ears of azat.” That was enough to get them all fired up8, and Moon and Roxy wound up telling Crosby all about all the weird stuff they’d been doing, and Crosby got all excited and wanted in on the investigations9.
Next day, Roxy went by Miskatonic University to talk to Dyer, with some plan to have Crosby granted faculty status there. Dyer explained that that’s not how things worked, and that MU was unlikely to give a position to a charlatan like a parapsychologist10, so that didn’t work out.
Then it was off to Kingsport11 to try and track down Lars Fargerberg, a linguist who might have a line on The Tears of Azathoth. The document they were following up on led them to a clip joint in a seedy part of town, where Moon and Crosby were rapidly divested of a point of Credit Rating each by the charming hostesses. Roxy, more worldly, found a contact there, and got some information on Fargerberg using a story about Moon having paid for a book from him that he never received.
They found that Fargerberg hadn’t been around lately, but that he had a room in one of the boarding houses nearby, though no one knew which. Roxy went to the police looking for more details, spinning the same story about Moon’s payment for a book, and Moon wound up primary suspect in Fargerberg’s strange disappearance12 and spent a few hours answering questions.
While he was being detained and Roxy was wrangling a lawyer for him, Crosby hit up the newspapers13 and found the original story about Fargerberg’s disappearance, along with his address. With Moon sprung, they went to talk to Fargerberg’s landlady, who told them that she had already cleaned out Fargerberg’s room, and that a junk man had carted off all of the linguist’s books.
They tracked down the junk man, and found that he had several of Fargergerg’s books still, but had sold off about half of them already. He seemed to be holding back some information about who he had sold various things to, but did admit that he had sold a big bible to the pastor of a nearby church, and that’s where the gang decided to head next.
But at that point, Moon’s player was succumbing to his nasty cold, and we called it a night. Hopefully it won’t be another two months before the next session.
- Though we ended a little early, thanks to the aforementioned illness.
- Thanks for that, guys!
- Okay, maybe I didn’t put it that way.
- If it wasn’t Tears, then it was another big clue tome. Sometimes, my players think they’re being sneaky.
- A very nice use of the profession’s special ability to have a handy item “in stock,” I thought.
- Using book science! Also, GM fiat.
- Which seemed much longer to Moon, thanks to his distorted temporal perception.
- At this point, I started rapidly skimming the Wikipedia article on the Fox sisters, because I realized that I had just put a big story hook in front of the players without any idea what the actual story was. “All hook and no plot,” as one might say. I had visions of the group going haring off after the secrets of the Fox sisters, and me not having any idea what they might be. Fortunately, they decided to stick to the original plan.
- Moon spent some time – well, quite a bit of time, actually – trying to talk Crosby out of getting involved. Great roleplaying, but man, don’t try so hard to kick the new character out of the party, dude!
- I’m not sure exactly what she wanted to accomplish with this, beyond trying to get the same access to University resources that the late Dr. Solis had.
- Lovely, lovely Kingsport. The gang has had such fun there.
- After all, he was the first person they’d found with a motive, however fake, for wanting something bad to happen to the linguist.
- Quote at this point: “I can’t believe it took us this long to look something up in the newspapers. Isn’t this a Chtulhu game?”