Thursday, August 6, 2009

Call of Cthulhu ICON Game Account

WARNING - For those of you who actively dislike gore, fighting, and disturbing scenes, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.

I make no promises that this is an accurate transcript - but rather, an account - the best of my knowledge. I've put off telling this tale (or spinning this yarn) for too long, and my memory is cloudy at best.

This is the tale of the Call of Cthulhu game I played at ICON 2009. Before the story can be told, first my character must be explained. And before even that can happen, the scene must be painted.

It is the modern day. The world is largely like what you know of it - only the largest, scariest, most bizarre things are different.
A scientist, studying Roanoke, an old American Indian settlement on an island off the coast of the US, goes missing on a research trip. Particularly, his research focuses on a potential link between the alien "greys" and the people of the area.
Four people who have an interest in the case have a chance encounter, and begin to investigate the mystery.

My character was a young gentleman from Harlem named Lewis Johnson. His story begins with rebellion against authority: firebombing police stations, graffiti, sticking it to The Man.
It was around this time that he realized that he could never out-muscle the government, but he COULD outsmart them. So he became a serial killer.
He was successful in his killing spree - but was continually denied the fame that he desired. He desired the killer nickname, the reputation of fear.
And so Lewis began studying forensics, and the serial killers of history. He eventually read about the infamous Jack the Ripper, and finally discovered the pattern that would make him famous - copycat killing.
Lewis' study of criminals and forensics had, in the meantime, become formal education. Deciding not to chance his luck, he dropped out of the forensics class - but discovered that he did have an excellent way with words - so he transferred his credits, and studied instead to become a hostage negotiator, an area in which he excelled. He successfully graduated, and joined the FBI.
One member of his former forensics class was a lady named Nicolette Farris. One day, when Lewis was coming to gloat over his kills at the local morgue, he discovered Nicolette studying the bodies. Thankfully for Lewis, he was worrying an opera mask and a full cloak (as odd as this would look on the streets of a city), and managed to tranquilize the woman before she could raise an alarm. He then placed her to wake up on the slab, like all the other corpses, neatly arranged.
And so he began terrorizing the life of the investigator of his case - as sport, and as entertainment.
Three years after his graduation from FBI training, and he has never seen Nicolette "outside of character" since. Until he was assigned to this case on Roanoke, where they are paired to discover the truth of the disappearance of this researcher.

The story began with us all boarding the ferry to get to the island. "Us" being the researcher's wife, the police chief of Roanoke island, and the two FBI agents - Lewis and Nicolette.
As we waited for the ferry to leave, Nicolette and I felt watched. Looking around, we noticed someone on the upper deck, with dark glasses, large hat and deep coat staring directly at us. As he saw us look, he bolted. Nicolette and I bolted towards the nearest staircase. I caught up to the suspicious person first, and tackled him to the ground. Nicolette, not knowing what to do, waited for my lead. I grabbed my cuffs, and, to the crowds dismay, declared this man to be a wanted terrorist [I panicked and it was an easy excuse in a modern American setting!]. The crowd immediately reacted in shock and fear. Before anything else could happen, we dragged the man into the only private area we could get on the boat - the wheelhouse.
The other two joined us, as well as the captain of the ferry - who had to be present, to steer the ferry, and continually added racist comments (Lewis and local police chief were both non-white).

The suspicious gentleman turned out to be a member of the Roanoke city council - and damned suspicious too! After a few simple questions, he demanded a lawyer would only respond as such to any line of questioning posed. We were stymied in our investigation, but the researcher's wife, a woman of education, determined that the gentleman was not in a sane state of mind. Nicolette, as a forensics researcher, had enough equipment and experience to do a simple blood test and a preliminary investigation revealed that the man had been drugged over a period of decades using psychotropics. Before we could investigate any further, the man went into anaphylactic shock. We searched his person and found some of the herbal "medicine" that he had been taking, and administered it after determining that he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. We left him, unconscious, to be picked up by members of the local police force and drove in the police chief's cruiser to the site of the researchers disappearance.

We discovered a city, built into a gigantic cave in a rock-cliff. Vehicles and trailers were standing, empty, and a variety of crude buildings dotted the interior of the cave.
We initially entered the main trailer, where the crew had set up and began to search the trailer. Immediately apparent was the mess of video recordings scattered over the floor, marked with dates. The researcher's wife picked up the most recently marked recording, and put it into the video player.
What she discovered was a tape of her husband in... a compromising situation with his research assistant. Outraged, she skipped forward. Her husband, after his indiscretion, left, but shortly afterwards a stunningly beautiful naked woman entered. Before the assistant could react, the beautiful woman kissed her - and she instantly became withered and drawn, eventually, crumbling to dust. At this point, everyone in the trailer began to feel a sense of dread and fear slowly rising.
The police chief, in the meantime, had investigated elsewhere. He discovered an old well, partially filled with debris, and with the sound of running water below. He continued to poke around, and eventually called us out of the trailer. We all came out for air, and took a few moments to regain our composure, before remembering the task that we were on.
We began to investigate the buildings. Most appeared derelict and empty, but one, farthest from the vehicles, housed people - or so it seemed, for we heard a scream as we approached. Immediately, I leapt towards the house, but before I could come near, a gigantic shower of dirt erupted, and a previously hidden plant emerged from a sinkhole, sharp vines whipping towards me! It tore up my chest rather badly, and I just managed to edge away.
Nicolette, armed with a shotgun, and the police chief, armed with an automatic pistol, began to fire at the monstrous plant. I managed to get back up to my feet, and limp back to a nearby building, near where I had placed my backpack. I dug around and found a blowtorch that I had used for some... interesting... reasons, and, without thinking too hard about it, lit it and ran back to the plant. Tossing the blowtorch at the plant resulted in it's immediate immolation - the plant fell dead, lifeless to the ground.
The crying in the building however, continued. Stopping for a minute so that Nicolette could study and clean my wounds, we proceeded inside. Moments after opening the door we realized that the ancient wood was on fire, and the building was likely to be ashes in just a few minutes!
We raced upstairs to discover the missing researcher and an asian lady, both grasping what appeared to be a map, pulling to try to drag it from the other.
Before we could respond, Nicolette dropped the asian woman with a pistol whip. The man, in the mean-time, ran to his wife, but not before carefully rolling up the map. He was met with a slap through the face, and an admonishment for his infidelity.
He explained that the Roanoke indians worshipped a deity named Dagon [I believe I was the only one at the table who had read Cthulhu Mythos stuff before, because I immediately groaned, while everyone else was like "WTF? Who is Dagon - that's Babylonian, isn't it?]. Several hundred years later, they were invaded by an unknown race that introduced a new, demonic god - Lillith. Lillith had since been re-awakened by trespassers (the research team) and had to be killed - apparently, after I asked, gods can be killed with sufficient firepower.

Alright then.

Us FBI folk, being slightly more mentally stable, were prepared to drive off into the sunset. Eventually, we were talked into investigating further by the researcher. While he studied the map further, we looked at what used to be a set of stables. Inside, we found a sack - of some modern material, so it must have been left there recently! The researchers wife opened the bag only to be greeted by the terrible features of Dagon himself! The sheer terror of it all eventually made her snap - she screamed, turned, and ran out through the nearby cave entrance. None of us tried to stop her, for our eyes had caught what hers had not - the statue was made of gold! We dug around and found more mundane treasures, which we left for the researchers to look at later.
[In the mean time, crazy researcher-wife lady, now on zero sanity, heard a voice booming in her head to kill Lillith. She had no choice but to continue to run, screaming, BACK TOWARDS THE CAVE]
Finally, the researcher came to us and showed us that the map indicated that Lillith was *in* the abandoned well. Deciding to be wise and knowing that emergency evacuation might be necessary, one of the researcher's vehicles (a 4x4 with an electric winch and steel cable) was driven next to the well, and it was agreed that a party would be lowered into the well while someone stood on top to haul everyone back up in case of emergency. The researcher insisted on remaining safe and hid in the vehicle.
As the party was preparing to be lowered into the well, the researcher's wife came running BACK into the cave, screaming, run up to the well, started climbing over, tripped, fell, and broke her leg on the debris as the went down. She found herself in a short, dark passageway underground, with water running in a stream next to her.
In the meantime, a short game of rock-paper-scissors resulted in myself staying up at the top, and Nicolette and the police chief going into the tunnel.
I lowered them down, and waited.
[They arrived in the dark tunnel, to discover a squad of fishmen approaching. The police chief recognized them as a race worshiped by the local indian tribes, and understood enough of their croaked speech to make out that Lillith was behind a door at the end of the passageway. The party continued on and discovered the door, which opened only when the researcher's wife touched it.
Inside, they found a modern bedroom, with a stunning, naked woman inside. The researcher's wife gibbered a bit more, and everyone else was paralyzed for a moment in absolute terror and worship of the most beautiful thing they had ever seen. Then the police chief shot the thing with his automatic machine pistol.
Skin was ripped and peeled back as the thing revealed it's true form - a gigantic scaled monster, easily twenty feet tall. The party, now suitably terrified, fired machine pistol and shotgun shell after shotgun shell into the creature.]
Standing by the well, I heard gunfire below and an inhuman roar. Having examined the contents of the trailer earlier, I had discovered several sticks of dynamite. Not feeling particularly keen to MEET an inhuman monster, I collected some dynamite, lit it, and tossed it down the well.
[The researchers wife, with a broken leg, managed to drag herself to Lillith, and started to strike at it with a panga she lifted off the police chief. Eventually, the bullets and cuts affected Lillith, who fell to the ground, dead - but not before making a final swipe, tearing the researchers wife into pieces. Before Lillith's corpse hit the ground, the earth began to shake and the tunnel began to cave in. The party ran for the tunnel. Nicolette, suffering from extreme claustrophobia, almost had a panic attack, but managed to dig down deep and make it through. As the reached the tunnel entrance, a stick of lit dynamite fell at their feet...]
Thankfully, the falling had put out the lit dynamite, as moments after dropping it I heard the party calling below. I quickly lifted both of them out, and we piled into the car to drive away. As we left the rapidly caving-in mountain, I turned to the (previously empty) passenger seat to look back and see if the other passengers in the vehicle were alright - only to discover the researcher's wife in the seat next to me, perfectly healthy and sane!
[She couldn't remember anything since seeing the statue of Dagon, but a deep voice rang in her head "THIS IS YOUR REWARD FOR KILLING THE USURPER"]. I gibbered [and finished the game on 2 sanity after losing 8 from the shock of seeing her alive].

Game over.

In retrospect, I wish I'd played up the serial killer thing a bit more :)