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Subject: Session Report: Masks of Deception (Part 2 of 9) rss

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John Curtis
United States
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Arkham Horror Session Report
Game started on June 10, 2016 – Finished on June 12, 2016

Game State
Ancient One: Nyarlathotep; Doomtrack=3; Terror Track=0

Investigators (in turn order):
Patrice Hathaway: Lost in Space & Time (delayed)
Sanity=5; Stamina=5; Focus=2; Money=$2; Clues=6; Skill=Run; Madness=Paranoia
Abilities: Inspiring, Ominous Dreams
Personal Story [Complete/Failed]: Soulful Aria
Relationship Silas=Keen Analysts; Relationship Trish=Courageous Inspirations
Stuff: The Red Sign of Shudde Mell, Handcuffs, Golden Sword of Y’ha-Talla, Knife
Sliders: Speed/Sneak=4+1/1; Fight/Will=2/3; Lore/Luck=3/2

Trish Scarborough: Black Cave
Sanity=6; Stamina=4; Focus=1; Money=$4; Clues=4; Skill=Bravery; Injury=Jinxed
Abilities: Abnormal Focus, Breaking the Limits
Personal Story [Complete/Pass]: Exposed to the Light
Relationship Patrice=Courageous Inspirations; Relationship Marie=The Best of Friends
Stuff: Lucky Cigarette Case, Research Material, Food, Yithian Rifle, Cabala of Saboth
Sliders: Fight/Sneak=1/3; Lore/Will=2/1; Speed/Luck=1/0-1

Marie Lambeau: Graveyard
Sanity=6; Stamina=4; Focus=2; Money=$4; Clues=3; Skill=Expert Occultist
Abilities: Witch Blood, Third Eye
Personal Story: Family Magic
Relationship Trish=The Best of Friends; Relationship Silas=Fellow Travelers
Stuff: Enchanted Knife, Voice of Ra, Flesh Ward, Astral Travel
Monster Trophies: Gug (3pts)
Gate Trophies: None
Sliders: Speed/Sneak=2/3; Fight/Will=2/3; Lore/Luck=3/2

Silas Marsh: Curiosity Shoppe
Sanity=4; Stamina=6; Focus=2; Money=$3; Clues=3; Skill=Speed
Abilities: Able Seaman, Tainted Blood
Personal Story: The Call
Relationship Patrice=Keen Analysts; Relationship Marie=Fellow Travelers
Stuff: Cavalry Sabre, Athame, Holy Water, Cryptozoological Collection
Monster Trophies: None
Gate Trophies: None
Sliders: Speed/Sneak=2+1/3; Fight/Will=4/3; Lore/Luck=2/2

Ally Pool: Professor Rice, Professor Armitage, Thomas F. Malone, John Legrasse, Earl Sawyer, Ryan Dean, Zebulon Whateley, Ammi Pierce, Professor Morgan, Charles Dexter Ward, Erica Carlyle

Environment: Blue Skies
Gates: R’yleh (Witch’s House), Lost Carcossa (Wizard’s Hill), Another Dimension (Woods)
Sealed Locations: None
Monsters (0/7): Goat Spawn (Wizard’s Hill)
Clues: Independence Square, Hibb’s Roadhouse, Silver Twilight Lodge, Historical Society (2), Science Building, The Unnamable, Unvisited Isle, Gardener’s Place (2), Devil’s Hopyard, Cold Spring Glen, Whatley Farm

Turn 2: Saturday
Upkeep: Patrice (S/S=2+1/3)—Trish (F/S=2/4; L/W=4/3; S/L=4/3-1); Exhaust Exposed to the Light to gain the extra shift—Marie (S/S=3/2)—Silas (S/S=4+1/1)

Movement (all investigators gain +1 Speed and -1 Sneak from Environment):
Patrice Stand up from delayed (Lost in Space & Time)
Trish => Rivertown Streets => French Hill Streets => Witch’s House; Spend two movement to read book; Check: 2 (Lore) – 2 (Book) = 2 dice (2,5); Success!; Gain Skill (Luck)
Marie => Rivertown Streets => French Hill Streets => MU Streets => Science Building; Pick up 1 clue
Silas => Northside Streets => Merchant District Streets => MU Streets => Uptown Streets => Woods

Arkham Encounters:
Patrice: No encounter (Lost in Space & Time)
Trish: Step through gate to R’yleh.
Marie: Enter Department of Alchemy. Surprise professor who holds up an ancient artifact chanting; you are now Blessed.
Silas: Step through gate to Another Dimension

Otherworld Encounters:
Patrice: Delayed
Trish: Sleep fitfully and awaken to sound of your own voice chanting something; Lore-2 to gain a spell and 2 clues; Check: 4 (Lore) – 2 (Encounter) = 2 dice (5,1); Success! Spell = Bind Monster
Marie: None
Silas: The only way forward is a terrifying leap; Will-2 or be delayed. Check: 3 (Will) – 2 (Encounter) =1 dice (1); Failure; Delayed.

Mythos: Cover-Up (Rumor)
Gates: None, but put 2 doom tokens on the Doom Track.
Monsters: No new monsters
Monsters Move: Goat Spawn => Backwoods Country => Village Commons
Clues: No new clues
Effect: Ongoing in Downtown Streets.

Masks of Deception
Part 2 of 9
© 2016 John W. Curtis III

Silas Marsh – Saturday, June 11th
Silas woke in the park just before the sun officially crested the horizon. After years on boats all up and down the East Coast, his body always knew when the sun would rise. He never had the trouble of over-sleeping.

The small park sat just at the end of the street that led to the docks. He took a deep breath. He loved the smell of water in the air. Even if it was the slimy slightly stagnant smell that river water gets sometimes. Water in the air… strong lungs to breathe it in.

He had fallen asleep with his head on his duffel bag. Now his neck was stiff and sore. He stood up and stretched. He would work off the stiffness today. The woods were on the far side of town. There was lots of walking to do.

He paid for an egg sandwich from the same place he got his bratwurst yesterday. It was perfectly cooked. The guy running the stall was named Marcellus. And he sure knew his stuff. Silas got a drink from the fountain at the edge of the small park. Then he set out on the day’s adventure.

As he walked south, he wondered how Marie was doing today. Patrice said Marie was at the cemetery all day yesterday. It was strange how fate worked. Two different women, from two different times in his life… meet up now. And now, the three of them are caught up in some kind of evil web.

He smiled. He liked it—the adventure and the unknown. It was like staring to the horizon—not knowing where the wind would be blowing you today. You applied your skills and your knowledge of the sea. But in the end, the wind blows you where it will.

He and Marie had known each other for years a long while back. They had traveled up and down the East Coast together. She was at the beginning of her singing career and he would just work at whatever dock was hiring at the moment. Then she got a big break – a gig in Chicago. But he couldn’t leave the coast. So they parted ways.

He was a younger man then. Now he was older. Maybe wiser? He shrugged.

The streets around the university were crowded with people. There must be some kind of sporting event this weekend. He stayed clear of the campus. There were too many people there that he couldn’t relate to.

He took his time walking across town. The sky was clear and bright. There was a wind, but it felt good. The campus soon fell behind him and he found himself walking through the quieter neighborhoods on the southern edge of town. Off to the right, the hospital lurked behind tall hedges. A large stone sign was partially overgrown with ivy. What once said “Saint Mary’s Hospital” now read “Saint Mar”. Saint Mar. He smiled. Saint of the Sea? That was encouraging!

The streets on this end of town were almost empty as he walked. The few people he saw paid him no mind. He stopped to help one elderly lady pick up some packages that she had dropped. She had been using a small push cart. But one of the wheels fell off. The books in the cart had tumbled to the ground. He picked up the books and carried them for her. She didn’t live far. She thanked him for his kindness and that made him smile.

He liked it when people recognized what was inside him. Too many people saw a sailor and expected him to be gruff, unintelligent, and uncaring. But he did care. He cared a lot about the people in his life. He even cared about the people he didn’t know… like that little old lady and her books. He liked doing the right thing.

At last he was at the end of the streets. Sprawled in front of him, stretching as far as he could see east and west, was the woods. This was a vast forest that demarked the southern edge of town. Here at the edge of town, there were small picnic areas just off the streets. There were some hiking trails. But less than a quarter mile off the road, the forest grew dark and dense—much more foreboding.

There were a couple of university students sitting at one of the picnic tables as he approached. It looked like they were passing a book of poetry back and forth, reading passages. That was a strange thing for a couple of college boys to do. They paid him no mind as he walked past them.

He found the mark that Patrice had shown him on the third picnic area. It was drawn onto a large rock, just like she had said. On top of that rock was the skull of a dog.

Silas set out down that trail. The woods were eerily quiet. No sounds of birds or rodents or wildlife of any kind. He found the silence reassuring.

There were places that the trail was mostly overgrown. But it wasn’t too difficult to stay on the course. Eventually the ground shifted from mostly dirt, to mostly stone. And that lead to Silas realizing that the stone was cut stone, old but obviously man-made.

The path opened onto a cleared space. Around the edge of the space there were large stones spaced in a circle. There were half-melted candles on each of the stones.

In the center of the space was a giant rock towering over ten feet tall. Painted on the smooth face of the stone was an amazingly detailed image of a garden.

Silas walked slowly around the circle of stones. On the far side of the circle, there was a single ceramic mask. The face on the mask was mostly featureless. He was about to reach for the mask when movement caught his eye.

He spun around. No one was there. Then he saw it again. The image on the stone was moving! One of the trees at the edge of the image swayed slightly. What in Neptune’s name?

He reached out to touch the image. As his hand got close, there was a ripple across the surface of the stone. Then he began to feel a pull. Before he could change his mind, he was suddenly jerked off his feet. After that, everything within his sight was blurred. He closed his eyes. He was trying to stay on his feet, but it felt like he was falling forward without ever hitting anything.

Then he jolted to a stop so suddenly he did fall to his knees. He was so dizzy that he retched. The feeling reminded him of the time he rode that carnival ride that spun you around in two directions at the same time.

A few shakes of his head later and he could finally see straight again. He surely wasn’t still in the woods. He was on a rocky ledge and it was dry and hot. It must be what Arizona feels like.

The ledge was only a few feet wide. On one side, a rocky face stretched upwards at least thirty feet. As he looked up, a large black bird glided past.

Opposite the face going up was a chasm. He carefully peered over the edge. The drop was probably about fifty feet. Down below, mostly hidden in shadows, the floor of the chasm seemed rocky and without any visible trail.

But the chasm was only about eight feet wide. The ledge was about three feet higher than the far side of the chasm. He might be able to get two steps before leaping.

He sighed. That fall would hurt… a lot. It was just a little too far to risk it. He looked left and right. To the left, the ledge angled down slightly, getting narrower as it did. There was nothing but the precipice to the right. Hmm. He would try and go down. Maybe there would be something down there.

Patrice Hathaway – Saturday, June 11th
Patrice was floating. The water she was floating in was multi-colored and thick. It felt more like syrup than water. But it didn’t stick to her at all. She could move her arms and legs, slowly. Every time she did, it would send her spinning slowly.

It was calming and frightening at the same time. Where was she? How did she get here?

Then she remembered the whisper voice. It echoed in her head. “And your friends will die…”

She screamed again, but there was no sound.

Trish Scarborough – Saturday, June 11th
Over a quick breakfast of oatmeal and juice, Trish and Marie discussed their plans for the day. They were both slightly concerned about Patrice. She never showed up last night. Trish wasn’t sure what to think about that. On one hand, Trish felt responsible for her friend. But on the other, Patrice was confident and sure. She should be able to handle herself.

In the end, Marie decided that she would make a quick trip over to the university. She had heard there was something strange going on over in the science department that had something to do with masks. It shouldn’t take too long to investigate that (and she should be back before the sun started to go down).

Trish was going to spend some time reading through one of the old books that Patrice had given her. It was an old tome that her dead lover had left her. But the language wasn’t one that Patrice understood. Trish had agreed to look at it and see if she could make any sense of it. And if Patrice hadn’t checked in by lunch time, Trish would go check on her.

After Marie left, Trish found a bench under a tree and pulled the old manuscript out of her knapsack. The writing appeared to be in a Vulgar Latin, or at least some derivation of it. She had translated some papers a while back and still remembered a lot of her Latin. Most of the book was about ancient symbols and their meanings.

After thumbing through the old book for a few pages, she saw a familiar symbol. She opened the book to the page and studied it. Sure enough, it was that symbol at the bottom of the pit yesterday. She began to read in earnest.

It was a struggle, but she eventually deciphered enough to get the gist of it. Basically, the glyph drawn on the edge of the pit was a special curse of bad luck. There was no known way to remove the curse. However, there was listed a method for increasing one’s luck (sort of countering the jinx). The small ceremony only took a few minutes (and involved her lucky nickel that she’d been carrying around for years). When she was done, she didn’t feel luckier. But maybe the bad luck would be kept at bay.

Trish checked her watch. Crap. It was two o’clock in the afternoon. And Patrice still hadn’t checked in. It was time to go check on her. Patrice was supposed to have been talking to the old gypsy that lived in the French Hill neighborhood. Time to head over there.

Fortunately, the streets were fairly empty. Apparently the baseball game over at the university had drawn a lot of the locals. Trish didn’t encounter anyone at all on her jaunt to the French Hill section of Arkham.

The streets of the affluent neighborhood were even quieter than those she’d been on so far. It almost looked like the houses were abandoned… though the houses were set so far from the street that it wasn’t easy to see any activity in the houses anyway.

At the end of the last cul-de-sac, Trish found the path leading to the old house. Sure enough, the sign of the mask was painted on the door of the unkempt cottage. But the cottage looked abandoned. There was no sign that anyone had even opened any doors or windows in the last couple of weeks.

On the side of the house, Trish found the body of the cultist. The face had been melted away, the mask discarded to the side. Then she saw the shimmering gate hovering slightly above the ground in the back of the house. Ah. That explains it. Patrice had gone traveling.

Trish rubbed her head. Patrice was a novice when traveling the other worlds. Trish had at least some experience with them. Yes. She would have to go, just to make sure her friend was okay. Decision made, Trish leaped through the portal.

The rocky shoreline at least felt “earthly.” It was much better than some of the places she had been when jumping into these kinds of portals.

Trish knelt. Yes, someone had been here recently. It looked like whoever it was (Patrice, hopefully) had walked away from the cliff. Trish headed that way.

Just about twenty feet from the cliff, Trish found where the person had dropped to their knees. And yes. There was evidence of Patrice. There were several clumps of long, light-colored hair… Patrice’s hair. Trish could envision it. Patrice had fallen to her knees and grabbed her head, pulling out her hair.

There was no sign after that. She was just… gone. Trish sighed. There was nothing to do now, but go forward.

She hiked away from the cliffs all day. But the day seemed longer than a day back home She had stopped twice to eat some of the rations from her knapsack (and had already drank most of the water from her canteen). After what felt like more than two days, the sun finally set.

The night was cold. She took refuge in a cluster of rocks. She could at least cut most of the biting wind away. She didn’t have a blanket in her gear. But she did put on her heavy gloves and her knit hat. It helped… a little.

Sometime just before the sun rose, Trish started awake. Someone nearby had been chanting! She rolled to the side and leaped to her feet. But there was no one here at all.

She closed her eyes and tried to recall the voice. It was feminine… low-pitched… throaty. It was… her own voice! Her eyes flew open.

He had been chanting in her sleep. But what was it? She sat down and took a deep breath. She had learned some techniques for calming herself over the years. It often helped her remember small details.

It only took a few minutes before it became clear. In her dreams, a creature with a fish-face was having her recite a ritual. Sure enough, it was a spell! Something she could use against the servants of the Masked One! Something to create ethereal bonds that creatures serving evil couldn’t break.

This was a great tool in her arsenal!

When she stood up, she realized that the sun was already halfway across the sky. She hated these other dimensional days. They really screwed with your sense of time.

Marie Lambeau – Saturday, June 11th
Marie didn’t understand sports. It seemed to make people (men mostly) go crazy. They yelled and screamed at everything and nothing. There was a palpable energy from their enthusiasm. And that always made Marie uneasy.

The streets winding through the university buildings were jammed with students and local residents. Apparently the game was getting ready to start soon. Marie kept off the streets, crossing the lawns in front of the buildings, staying away from the crowds.

The MU Academy of Science building was on the northern edge of the campus, quite a distance from any of the other buildings. It was also surrounded by a wall of bushy juniper trees that made it difficult to see much of the building until you were right at the building.

Marie climbed up the four steps at the front of the building. There were two carved figures on the posts besides the door. On the left was a carving of da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. On the right was an incongruous knight standing with sword in front of him, like a guardian.

The door wasn’t locked, but the halls inside seemed empty. Everyone must be at the game. She had figured there would be one or two graduate students she could ask directions of. According to the rumors she had overheard, there was a professor who was trying to translate some writings on an old wooden mask. The professor’s name was Willimond, or Wilmont, or something like that.

Her footsteps echoed on the tiled floors. She found a directory near the first set of stairs. Apparently, there were three floors plus two basement levels. She studied the list of names. At the bottom of the list, she found the only name that was close: Professor J Wellisman. His office was on the second floor, room 224.

She trotted up the stairs. Room 224 was all the way at the end of the hallway, at the back of the building. The door to the office was open and light spilled into the hallway.

Marie crept up to the door. The professor’s name was inked into the frosted glass of the door; but the “s” was missing making it look like two names. She quietly peered around it into the office.

There was only one person in the room. A large hulking man was hunched over a table with his back to her. For some reason, she had envisioned him as a frail old man. But this was definitely not what she was expecting. He was so large that his shirt was straining to hold in his muscled back.

He was mumbling to himself, too low for her to make out what he was saying, though. She knocked softly on the frame of the door. “Ummm… professor?”

She hadn’t meant to startle him, but he jumped and almost fell off the stool he’d been sitting on. He spun around with a mad glint in his eye.

“What are you doing here! Be gone foul evil-doer!” He grabbed for something on the table and brandished it in front of him. It was a golden ankh with strange inscriptions all over it. “By the powers of all that is holy and of the light—creature and servant of darkness be banished to the hell you serve!”

Marie giggled. But then she felt something. It was like walking through a warm waterfall, except she wasn’t walking. The feeling washed over her, then it was gone, leaving a faint tingle and warmth behind. “Oh! That was unexpected!”

The professor shook his head and the glint in his eye faded. “Oh my! I am so sorry, I thought you were something else… uh, someone else.” He stood and smoothed back his tussled hair. The grease in his dark hair held the stray locks in place. “Uh, what can I do for you?”

Marie smiled her most enticing smile. “Actually, I had heard you had a strange mask and I wanted to see it. My aunt has a collection of masks.” She kept the deception simple. It was easier to not delve into details until you have to.

The professor smiled. “Oh! Yes! I do have a mask!” He turned back to the table and picked up what he’d been working on. He clutched it close to himself as he turned.

It was a three-foot long wooden mask with oversized eye holes and painted on mouth. “It is sub-Saharan… Ethiopian, I think. But there is writing!” He flipped the mask over. There was writing inside the mask, etched into the wood. “The writing should be a form of Coptic, but it isn’t! It appears to be a form of Hindi or something descended from an Asian language.”

Marie stepped up to the table. She was disappointed. This wasn’t the right kind of mask at all. The masks they were looking for were ceramic… or at least less “primitive”. She politely listened to the professor ramble on for a while. She was sure that there was no insight that she could learn here.

After letting him drone on for a while, Marie exclaimed that the mask was a masterpiece and her aunt would love it. Then she excused herself, wishing him a good afternoon.

Alas. Nothing learned. But she sure did feel refreshed!
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Helen Slater
United Kingdom
South Yorkshire
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Your reports are great! I'm looking forward to reading the next installment
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John Curtis
United States
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Darla wrote:
Your reports are great! I'm looking forward to reading the next installment

Thanks! They take a lot of effort to put together. I was hoping that people are enjoying them. Sorry for taking so long getting the next installment up. I've been writing it on an off this week. I hope to have it ready for posting tonight (hopefully both 3 and 4... and maybe 5 will all be ready before the end of the weekend).
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Helen Slater
United Kingdom
South Yorkshire
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I can imagine they do take a LONG time to write. So, no worries. I'm happy to wait for a good report
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Adam Mitchell
United States
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Very well-written, very well told, so here, have some of my GeekGold!
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