Wednesday, May 9, 2012

SCD GAME 2 - Showdown on Beacon Hill

Previously:  The strange murder of a beat cop led the group to a house in the Bronx belonging to Bernard Corbitt, a mild-mannered gardener and good neighbor… who apparently harvested illegal body parts from a run-down Hell's Kitchen hospital and patched them together in the basement using re-animator fluid.  The first report is here:  SCD game 1, An Arm and a Leg

Cast of Characters

Detective Snyder, officer in the SCD (police detective):  Smitty
Father Vinny, trained psychiatrist and church exorcist (clergy):  Mike
O'Grady, burglar turned SCD informant (criminal):  Adam
Trevor, professional occult debunker (dilettante):  Keyser
Meg Meadows, forensic scientist:  Olivia

When Game 2 started, Corbitt was in lock up and the group returned to his house to look around.  "This is a horror game, so it would be best if we split up," quipped one of the players.  Well said.

But first, they waited for the arrival of Meg Meadows, a forensic scientist with botany experience called in by Detective Snyder.  Meg had the chance to do some library research before driving over, and was able to give a report on Corbitt's import business, his wife's obituary, and the death of his father, all culled from the archives of the paper.

Then Meg and O'Grady went to the dark greenhouse while the others searched the house itself.  In addition to finding various narcotic's plants, Corbitt was growing some otherworldly plants like a white-flowered bush that sprayed pollen at them.  They fled before they were coated by the spray and reduced to a rapidly decomposing pile of fertilizer.

In the house, Corbitt's study was piled with interesting books - a Sanskrit tome named The Key and the Gate, covered in cobra skin; a 17th century grimoire on devil worship, True Magick; Corbitt's botanical notes; 14 years of Corbitt's journals.

While the players got the dramatic approach to learning the facts - handouts and madness-tinged 1st person journal entries - here's the basic fact dump:  Corbitt became a worshipper of a Hindu demon called Rama Sekva on a trip to the wilds of India; Rama Sekva ate his father but granted Corbitt power as a wizard.  Corbitt was a failed med student that knew enough about pharmacology to eventually synthesize Soma, a drug that allowed him to commune with his demon god.  Rama Sekva's guidance helped him create the alchemical formulae to graft together dead flesh into living constructs.  Worst of all, the demon spawned a child on Corbitt's wife, who died in childbirth; the horrible thing was still living in the basement, and Corbitt was grafting body parts onto the child as it grew!

The descent into the basement revealed the creepy alchemical lab, the rudimentary surgery with it's operating lamps and bone saws, and the whimpering gurgling sound coming from a hidden panel in the basement's false wall.  In the secret room behind the wall was this thing:

The Child-Thing, from Mansions of Madness
It gurgled toward the players, "Papa, Papa…" blowing out of its sphincter mouth, and they started blasting it with pistols.  It barreled through the door, grappling with multiple limbs and attempting to slurp flesh off the bone using those sphincter mouths.  There were sanity rolls, stability checks, guns blazing, and Trevor the dilettante running the thing through with his sword cane.  O'Grady needed quite a bit of first aid after getting pulled into one of the mouths and slurped.

"We need to burn this place to the ground," was Snyder's opinion.  I've observed that arson is a Cthulhu gamer's good friend when they need to hide evidence of occult horror from an innocent world.  While the group loaded Snyder's trunk with things they wanted to salvage from Corbitt's house, like the rare books, a message blared over the radio - "Corbitt is on the loose!  Floyd (the desk sergeant) is dead, Corbitt's stolen a car, and be on alert, he's probably on the way home!"

In the journals, Corbitt had mentioned a few times that the when the time was right, he'd climb to the top of Beacon Hill in the nearby Jamaica Park north of Fordham and call out to the thing's father, Rama Sekva, to return to the world.  Lightning and flashes of light swirled to the north in the area of the park, and the group piled into their cars and sped off into the night to stop a summoning.

Snyder was an excellent driver, and Trevor sprinted up the side of Beacon Hill; the other guys weren't as athletic.  Meg and Father Vinnie followed in the other car.

Trevor avoided looking at the swirling vortex above the hill where the six-armed god slowly descended a wormhole tunnel toward the mortal plane, and he stabbed Corbitt with his sword cane.  The sorcerer, oblivious to the intruder while he chanted the sanskrit spell, was only grazed by the thrust, and he turned to face Trevor.  By the time the others got near the hill top, Trevor was on the ground, blood coming out of his eyes and nose because Corbitt was cooking his brain by revealing to him the last syllable of the Dread Name of Azathoth.

Snyder dropped to a knee, took careful aim, and shot the sorcerer in the head before he could completely fry poor Trevor's mind.  O'Grady managed to avoid looking up into the vortex and seeing the 6-armed demon quickly scurry back along the tunnel like a spider, and with the death of Corbitt, the unsustained ritual dissipated into the night air.  Case closed, except for the clean up and filing the false reports with the department.

That's pretty much where we needed to end things - it was getting late.  I took a quick straw poll to decide if we should resume the AD&D game for a bit or play another Trail of Cthulhu scenario set in the Big Apple, and the group voted for another Trail game.  So it'll be at least a few more weeks before we get back to Gothic Greyhawk.  See you next time.

Keeper's Notes:
This was an adaptation of "Mister Corbitt", from Mansions of Madness (a Chaosium book for Call of Cthulhu).  If folks are interested, I'm glad to put my Trail conversion notes together, but it was pretty basic stuff.  Since these are meant to be episodic one-offs, we'll probably run something from Stunning Eldritch Tales or Arkham Detective Tales next.


  1. Thanks for the report. Very entertaining! I've only read Trail of Cthulhu, and I don't quite grok how it works in play. This gives me a somewhat better sense.

  2. I'd be glad to make a post on how I handle the Trail mechanics - clues, spends, scenes, stability checks and drives, that kind of stuff. Let me know.

  3. That would be interesting. I have read such stuff, and also listened to some actual play podcasts, which made ToC easier to work out.

    I own Mansions, but never felt that strongly about MR Corbit, but I read more and more people who seem to have great fun with it, so maybe I have to give it a shot.

  4. If folks are interested, I'm glad to put my Trail conversion notes together,

    Yes please; I'm planning on running it myself and would like someone else's opinion on what the core clues are.

  5. 80% of the reason I read your posts is for play reports. This is my meat and drink. The other 80% is for your game ideas, mechanics, setting creation, et cetera. (That's 160% out of a possible 150%.)

  6. Sounds like a great session, and yes, please do post about how you handle the trail mechanics.