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**
I’m really behind on this update for the Armitage Files campaign1. What’s finally prodded me to write the damned thing is the fact that the next session is this Saturday, and the players deserve a recap. It’s gonna be a quick one, though.
The game picked up pretty much where the last session left off, with the investigators deciding to go check out what the junk dealer had told them about a big bible he had sold to a local pastor. The gang was suspicious of that2, so they figured they’d pay him a visit and see if the bible was a valuable book that the linguist, Lars Fargerberg, might have been kidnapped for. The upshot of the investigation was that no, it was just a nice, old family bible that the pastor used to replace the water-damaged one he had been using.
I messed up a bit, at this point. See, the new character in the game is a parapsychologist, and his player asked me if he could make an Occult spend in the church to see if he could sense any psychic emanations or auras. I blinked at him a bit and said, “Sure.” Then I proceeded to spin a completely false psychic impression for him based on his character’s current emotional state – as played by the player. So, his nervousness and apprehension after starting to glimpse the horrible truth behind the world made him feel that there was some dark, evil stain on the church, a horrible foreboding that hinted at destruction and death.
He lapped it up. And he tried using the ability a couple more times during the adventure. Each time, I asked him for an Occult spend, and then lied to him about what he was sensing.
Why would I do such a thing? Isn’t it a huge dick move?
Yeah, it kinda is3. In my defense, it was the result of differing expectations of the metaphysics of the game. I was operating on the assumption that the player shared the standard understanding of in-game supernatural powers: it all stems from horrible mythos sources, and you only get access to it through reading mind-shattering tomes. So, when he asked to take a psychic reading on the church, I just assumed it was a roleplaying thing – he was playing Crosby as believing that he had these psychic powers.
Well, as the evening went on, it became more and more obvious to me that the player wasn’t operating on my assumptions. He figured that, since I had let him do what he had asked for, it was real information his character was getting. When I finally made that connection in my head, I told him what was going on, and apologized for screwing him over. I then talked about how the supernatural stuff usually works on Cthulhu games, and how I was sticking with that for my game. So, we sorted it out.
After no clues turned up at the church, and they exhausted all the investigation they could do about the red herring church psychic miasma4, the gang decided to go see the main crime boss in Kingsport: Elio Marcuzzo. Fargerberg had owed some money to the Marcuzzo family, so our heroes figured that they might have something to do with his disappearance. With Roxy’s criminal connections, it was pretty quick work to arrange a meeting, and Marcuzzo and company pointed5 to an Asian crime syndicate operating around the docks. They also told Roxy a little bit about Kim Nak6, who was sort of a bogeyman enforcer for the gang, reputed to use demon-possessed children to do his dirty work.
A little more investigation led the intrepid sleuths to a warehouse down by the docks. The doors were locked, and I think I put a couple little booby-traps in place7, but the place had no tcho-tchos or criminals or, indeed, any creatures in it. A safe in an upstairs office had a strange book in it – the much-sought-after Tears of Azathoth.
Moon almost convulsed with ecstasy at having finally got his hands on the book. They grabbed it and burned the warehouse down8 before running back to their hotel. At the hotel, they found that they hadn’t got away clean, after all: Roxy’s faithful driver, Charlie, had been killed and left in the car for them to find9. They abandoned that car, stole another one, and fled back to Arkham.
There followed much soul-searching and debate over what to do with Tears. Initial investigation showed that it was a very dangerous book10, and they finally decided to burn it. As soon as they had made that decision, the book vanished11.
And that’s where we left the game.
We are now on the last few stages of the campaign. I have three more sessions scheduled for the game, and plan to have things wrapped up by the end of June. We may wind up ending the game one session sooner or later, but I’m betting on three to bring things to a close. It’s been a tremendously fun game to run, and has really helped me stretch my GMing improvisation muscles. I’m going to be sorry to see it go.
But I’m eager to run something else, too.
- Lots of reasons, boiling down to me just not doing it when I should have.
- Along with everything else. This is a Cthulhu game, after all.
- Sorry, Tom.
- Sorry, guys.
- Rather obliquely; they’re not stupid, after all, and the investigators have come to the attention of the police on more than one occasion.
- This is, as far as I know, not a real name in any Asian language. I wanted to convey the flavour of an indeterminate south-east Asian culture without drawing directly on any particular one. After all, I’m gonna add tcho-tchos to the mix, and that’s not a nice thing to do to any real culture.
- It was a while ago. I can’t remember for certain.
- Fire. They use it for everything.
- What can I say? It’s a horror game. And sometimes the best way to scare and hurt the players is to mess with their favourite NPCs.
- Though I’m starting to think I’m losing my touch. I don’t think Moon has failed a Stability check in the last three sessions. Gonna have to do something about that.
- There’s a whole reason for this stemming from my interpretation of the write-up for Tears in the campaign book.