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Subject: Cotingsley Club Campaign - Session 3 Prep for Recovery rss

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Danny Stevens
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Tonight I am planning to play the next session as an interlude and regroup after the frightful events of the previous session. Here I am detailing my prep for the session.
Danny's big session index

-> Session 2

Dramatise Personae

PCs

Andras – as Rabbi Mordecai Goldberg and his son Nadav
Phaedra – as Aleister Sinese
Craig and Chris will be joining and drawing up characters.

NPCs

Cottingsly Club, London

Mrs Gloriana Welsham - proprietor
Major Marshall Drumtop retired – now a landlord of properties in Hobb's End
Allan Peaksworthy – civil engineer working on the underground rail system

The Dermondes

Louise Dermonde ne Martigen – albino nurse – mentally exhausted and living with her grandfather.
Henry Dermonde – archeologist – in something of a catatonic state in a truck with the PCs

Session Plan
My general agenda for the session is in several parts with the goal of allowing the players to recover, meetup and regroup and perhaps set the agenda for the next session.

The intended session parts are:
1 : New players roll their character stats and fill in only what follows in an automatic way. They make notes of skill points that could arise but don't spend them.
2 : The existing characters complete their flight from session 2's events and arrive at some situation where they can recover and make plans. The new players observe only.
3 : The new players choose professions and fill in some back story and connections to the current players and we arrange for them to meet up. The new players now have some skill point totals to spend and may start allocating them or hold off with some until play progresses a bit more.
4 : The players as a group consolidate where they are at and do some investigations or interactions to arrive at a point where they are ready to choose a new direction.
5 : Wrap up and book in the next session.

Preping my Situations

From session 2 I have 3 factions of antagonists that will want to follow up and close in on the PCs. They will take some time, at different speeds, to gather their resources and take action. Each of these groups is well enough detailed that I only need to brush up my notes and enlarge the details about the agents that will be involved in the operations, their level of knowledge, and some ideas about how they may clash with one another.

At the club I have two situations that are connected to the events of session 1.

One is a mash up of Lovecraft's “The Lurking Fear” and Poe's “The Fall of the House of Usher”. I have enough detail to be able to wing a little but I would need to beef up the solidity of the various nodes before I am ready to play that one.

The other is a scenario that evolved from Call of Cthulhu's own introductory scenario “The Haunted House”. I never really liked that scenario as is, so some years ago I redesigned it to have a wider scope with a greater range of NPC interaction and room for player agency. I played the redesign successfully twice. So now I have redesigned my redesign, so not much is left of the original. I'm just putting the finishing touches on that so if the players decide to follow up the adventure hook for this we could potentially play it out tonight.

Those two scenarios both have the first clues leading to a larger problem in the world and some things to find in”Foreign Parts”. Those nodes of the larger campaign are still only rough notes, but some information already to hand may become more meaningful to the PCs once they put the pieces of information together.

A currently untapped scenario also lies behind an adventure hook that has not been activated yet. Its related to local events in London and to the grander situation of which London is a part. The details for that scenario had been worked out a while ago but things in play have moved on so this need some brushing up to account for the changed situation. In particular it involves some engineering projects and some elements of London's criminal underbelly.

Finally, the Cotingsly club itself will be impacted by news of the dig's demise. The rabbi and the lawyer have already been given access to the club's private library, but they may now be inducted deeper into the club's more secretive research arm. The new characters will not be so engaged and will have to rely on the other two to work that angle.

I think I have about another hour of prep to be ready. Writing this prep report has been helpful in pulling the threads together for me. I'll write again soon with a play session report.

R'lyeh F'tang!

Session 3 Play
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Danny Stevens
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The involvement of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as founder of my fictional Cotingley Club allows a certain richness into my campaign. For those who know little of Doyle other than as the author of Sherlock Holmes stories here is some relevant background.

Quote:
Doyle had a longstanding interest in mystical subjects. He was initiated as a Freemason (26 January 1887) at the Phoenix Lodge No. 257 in Southsea. He resigned from the Lodge in 1889, but returned to it in 1902, only to resign again in 1911.[57]

Also in Southsea in 1887, influenced by a member of the Portsmouth Literary and Philosophical Society, Major-General Alfred Wilkes-Drayson, he began a series of psychic investigations. These included attending around 20 seances, experiments in telepathy and sittings with mediums. Writing to Spiritualist journal Light, that year, he declared himself to be a Spiritualist and spoke of one particular psychic event that had convinced him.[58]

Though he later wavered, he remained fascinated by the paranormal. He was a founder member of the Hampshire Society for Psychical Research in 1889 and joined the London-based Society for Psychical Research in 1893. He joined Sir Sidney Scott and Frank Podmore on a poltergeist investigation in Devon in 1894. Nevertheless, during this period, he remained in essence a dilettante.[59]

At the height of the Great War, in 1916, a change came over Conan Doyle's beliefs, prompted by the apparent psychic abilities of his children's nanny, Lily Loder Symonds.[60] This, combined with the deaths he saw around him, made him rationalise that Spiritualism was a "New Revelation"[61] sent by God to bring solace to the bereaved. The New Revelation was the title of his first Spiritualist work, published two years later. In the intervening years he wrote to Light magazine about his faith and lectured frequently on the truth of Spiritualism.

War-related deaths close to him certainly strengthened his long-held belief in life after death and spirit communication, though it is wrong to claim that the death of his son, Kingsley, turned him to Spiritualism, as is often stated. Doyle came out as a Spiritualist to the public in 1916, a full two years before his son's death.[62] It was on 28 October 1918 that Kingsley died from pneumonia contracted during his convalescence after being seriously wounded in the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Brigadier-General Innes Doyle died, also from pneumonia, in February 1919. His two brothers-in-law (one of whom was E. W. Hornung, creator of the literary character Raffles) and his two nephews also died shortly after the war. His second book on Spiritualism, The Vital Message, appeared in 1919.

Doyle found solace supporting spiritualism and its attempts to find proof of existence beyond the grave. In particular, according to some,[63] he favoured Christian Spiritualism and encouraged the Spiritualists' National Union to accept an eighth precept – that of following the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth. He was a member of the renowned supernatural organisation The Ghost Club.[64]
Doyle with his family in New York City, 1922

In 1919, the magician P. T. Selbit staged a séance at his own flat in Bloomsbury. Doyle attended the séance. Some later commentators have stated that he declared the clairvoyance manifestations to be genuine.[65][66] However, the contemporary report by the Sunday Express quotes Doyle as saying: "I should have to see it again before passing a definite opinion on it," and: "I have my doubts about the whole thing".[67] In 1920, Doyle debated the claims of Spiritualism with the notable sceptic Joseph McCabe at Queen's Hall in London. McCabe later published his evidence against the claims of Doyle and Spiritualism in a booklet entitled Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud? which claimed Doyle had been duped into believing Spiritualism by mediumship trickery.[68]

Conan Doyle also travelled to Australia and New Zealand on Spiritualist missionary work in 1920, and continued his mission all the way up to his death, speaking about his Spiritualist conviction in Britain, Europe and the USA.[59]

Sir Arthur was also inspired by his Spiritualist beliefs to write a novella on the subject, The Land of Mist, featuring the character Professor Challenger. He wrote many other non-fictional Spiritualist works; perhaps his most famous being The Coming of the Fairies (1922)[69] which reveals Conan Doyle's conviction in the veracity of the five Cottingley Fairies photographs. He reproduced them in the book, together with theories about the nature and existence of fairies and spirits. Initially suspected of being falsified, the photos were decades later determined to be faked (along with admissions from the photographers).

Doyle was friends for a time with Harry Houdini, the American magician who himself became a prominent opponent of the Spiritualist movement in the 1920s following the death of his beloved mother. Although Houdini insisted that Spiritualist mediums employed trickery (and consistently exposed them as frauds), Doyle became convinced that Houdini himself possessed supernatural powers—a view expressed in Doyle's The Edge of the Unknown. Houdini was apparently unable to convince Doyle that his feats were simply illusions, leading to a bitter public falling out between the two.[70] A specific incident is recounted in memoirs by Houdini's friend Bernard M. L. Ernst, in which Houdini performed an impressive trick at his home in the presence of Conan Doyle. Houdini assured Conan Doyle the trick was pure illusion and that he was attempting to prove a point about Doyle not "endorsing phenomena" simply because he had no explanation. According to Ernst, Conan Doyle refused to believe it was a trick.[71]

In 1922, the psychical researcher Harry Price accused the spirit photographer William Hope of fraud. Doyle defended Hope, but further evidence of trickery was obtained from other researchers.[72] Doyle threatened to have Price evicted from the National Laboratory of Psychical Research and claimed if he persisted to write "sewage" about spiritualists, he would meet the same fate as Harry Houdini.[73] Price wrote "Arthur Conan Doyle and his friends abused me for years for exposing Hope."[74] Because of the exposure of Hope and other fraudulent spiritualists, Doyle led a mass resignation of eighty-four members of the Society for Psychical Research, as they believed the Society was opposed to spiritualism.[75]

Doyle and spiritualist William Thomas Stead were duped into believing Julius and Agnes Zancig had genuine psychic powers, both claiming that the Zancigs used telepathy. In 1924 Julius and Agnes Zancig confessed that their mind reading act was a trick and published the secret code and all the details of the trick method they had used, under the title Our Secrets!! in a London newspaper.[76] In his book The History of Spiritualism (1926), Doyle praised the psychic phenomena and spirit materialisations produced by Eusapia Palladino and Mina Crandon, who were both exposed as frauds.[77] In 1927, Doyle spoke in a filmed interview about Sherlock Holmes and spiritualism.[78]
Doyle in 1930, the year of his death, with his son Adrian

Richard Milner, an American historian of science, has presented a case that Doyle may have been the perpetrator of the Piltdown Man hoax of 1912, creating the counterfeit hominid fossil that fooled the scientific world for over 40 years. Milner says that Doyle had a motive—namely, revenge on the scientific establishment for debunking one of his favourite psychics—and that The Lost World contains several encrypted clues regarding his involvement in the hoax.[79][80] Samuel Rosenberg's 1974 book Naked is the Best Disguise purports to explain how, throughout his writings, Doyle left open clues that related to hidden and suppressed aspects of his mentality.[81]


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