In April of 1919, an expedition led by the fabulously wealthy playboy Roger Carlyle set out from New York with ambitions to explore tombs in Egypt. By October of that same year, the expedition was feared missing; in the following year, the site of their massacre was uncovered, albeit with many lingering questions–and bodies unaccounted for.
Now it is January of 1925. Your good friend Jackson Elias, a noted investigative writer on the occult–particularly obscure death cults–has called on you and others to meet with him in New York.
He tells you it’s about the Carlyle Expedition.
He tells you he needs reliable help–your help–to aid his investigation.
This story is a long adventure that will focus on investigating a mystery, foiling a world-spanning, malevolent plan, and confronting cosmic and existential horror. It is long, it is involved, and it is likely to get hopelessly dark at times.
This story is also an experiment in translating a well-known Call of Cthulhu roleplaying campaign into the Storium model. You don’t require any familiarity with the RPG itself to participate. There will be no dice rolls, no character sheets; the objective is to use Storium to provide a more narrative experience for this well-loved adventure. In fact, I would like to avoid players who are already familiar with the campaign if at all possible.
What will help is familiarity with H.P. Lovecraft or the Cthulhu Mythos generally. Lovecraftian Horror, while it often contains elements of traditional horror and psychological horror, also delves into cosmic horror–the terror of coping with mankind’s insignificance in a vast, incomprehensible universe in which humans are a tiny, negligible part.
But there is hope there. This is not intended to be a story of never-ending darkness and failure. It is a struggle in the face of overwhelming odds in a desperate bid to stem the tide of vile, corrupt powers.
Though failure, too, is a possible result.
The Story So Far
Chapter 1 - Eight individuals find themselves called or drawn to the hotel room of Jackson Elias, world-traveling author of occult volumes detailing the horrific exploits of death cults. Known for skepticism and in depth research, the man now sounds desperate and fearful and in need of their help to research events of the Carlyle Expedition, a doomed journey undertaken by rich playboy Roger Carlyle, with several others, which led to a massacre of all members in the Kenyan uplands.
But at the prescribed meeting, the investigators instead discover the author, for many their friend, killed in ritualistic fashion. They kill or drive off the murderers, and find scattered around the room numerous clues as to what Elias was involved in. It is agreed by all that they must take up the investigation he meant for them and, if possible, avenge his death. Armed with little more than fragmentary references to New York, London, Egypt, Kenya, Shanghai, and even Polynesia, the investigation begins.
Chapter 2 - The investigators begin pursuing leads from Elias’s hotel room, first venturing to Harvard and Arkham, but emerging with little to show for it. They then look closer to home at Emerson Imports and the files of Dr. Huston, of the Carlyle Expedition. It soon becomes clear that Elias was interested in a place called Ju-Ju House, which Emerson handles imports for.
Chapter 3 - The investigators narrow their focus to the Ju-Ju House, a store of authentic African tribal items buried in the back alleys of Harlem. After a cursory investigation, they opt to break-in at night in full force, discovering rather more than they bargained for: a death cult, unearthly creatures, unnatural abominations, and prisoners meant for something hideous. It becomes apparent that the mystery Elias was onto involved more than they ever could have guessed, almost beyond belief itself.
After their liberation, Dean Chang and Alice Early join the investigators in their search for answers.
Chapter 4 - The cult broken up, the murders solved–at least on the surface–the investigators have a brief moment of respite. All clues lead outside of the country, now, and so it is agreed that they will start with London–nearest, and Elias’s last visit before New York.
Lizzie, Andrew, and Ruth leave the group, the toll of the dark mystery proving too much. The others bid a final farewell to Elias at his funeral, where they meet Elias’s publisher, who entrusts them with Elias’s notes from Kenya. Some also peruse the remains of the Ju-Ju House, but there is little left to discover there except the haunting memory of the thing in the basement.
Chapter 5 - The investigators arrives in London in order to ascertain the activities of Jackson Elias while there. They interview one of his old friends and Edward Gavigan, director of the Penhew Foundation (whose namesake, Sir Aubrey Penhew, was killed in the Carlyle Expedition massacre). It appears another string of ritualistic murders is underway here–still unsolved–that Jackson had a keen interest in, believing it to be the work of a death cult.
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Scenes played: 20
License: Community License