Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Masks of Nyarlathotep: Early Campaign Preparation

My Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign will begin with the excellent New Moon scenario from the Secrets of New York book. In order to set everything up I asked myself several questions.

How Will I Adapt Vampire to Call of Cthulhu?

This is worth a whole article in and of itself but as I'm still ironing out the little details I will give you the basics. I decided to pop my Walsh-plot and have it that all of the recent strains and conversations about returning James Tyler to humanity had culminated with growing insanity and therefore power within Walsh as his two selves began to separate, allowing greater access to power at the expense of his sanity. Much of this slipped by James, much to his chagrin later on. Walsh's several hundred year old plot to save an old changeling friend of his / hers by cutting Jack Frost's bonds to its titles and reintroducing a recombination of soul fragments gathered over the centuries also would come to fruition in a great big ritual that required the murderous sacrifice and painful destruction of almost sixty vampires in the London court.

When James awakens, he is not only a human patient in a hospital but he seems to be back in the past. It's no longer 1956. It's 1938. Charlotte Adams is cagey about whether she knows anything about 'supernaturals'. Any suggestion that he was a vampire is met by consternation on her part. She will declare that something in his investigations with Walsh caused him to go insane and start believing in that delusion. Largely she will avoid the subject, not wanting to draw his attention back to it. It wasn't a vampire gathering that was destroyed. It was a gathering of Society types and the influential middle classes at an art gallery. A gas main explosion levelled the building and set fires that burnt a few individuals in an unusual manner (suggestive of Fire Vampires, but he lacks the knowledge to identify that). There were three survivors. James (who was thrown through a window by the explosion), a janitor (who was protected by a falling wall) and some other person (who was sent to Colney Hatch - Friern - Mental Hospital shortly thereafter).

Walsh was killed instantly and had been buried while James was in a coma. Her wake is scheduled for after James wakes up and Charlie will arrange that in James' private investigations office. I expect this'll hit Walsh hard.

The other person is the high functioning schizophrenic "Jack Frost" who can both endorse James' view of the events but who simultaneously rememembers his childhood as Eugene Vanderklei's son and the youngest child of Mogens' experiment. He is another link to the New Moon scenario as after James makes contact with him, "Jack Frost" will be picked up by Vanderklei's lawyers and brought back to New York. James can find out about this familial connection but will need to go to New York to investigate further. Which he will do since "Jack Frost" might well be the only person who can vouch for his believed timeline.

Basically the point is to give James enough clues that he's probably mad while leaving it open that he might somehow be right. While time tavel is impossible in the World of Darkness, it is certainly a possibility in Call of Cthulhu. On the other hand, the God Machine could theoretically 'reset everything' if the situation was growing dire enough that reality was about to have a hole blasted into it, such as perhaps if a cult were going to use modern technological advances in nuclear technology to create a more powerful rocket. Is James mad? Was he mad all along? Is he sane now or more mad? Or is just layers of insanity and neither reality is really real? This is something I want to play with. The division between sanity and reality.

How Will I Draw My PC From London to New York?

This was quite easy as James had previously brought to the media's attention a Nazi-run eugenicist experiment in London. Funnily enough, I'd run that before I'd read New Moon so it wasn't that I was clever enough to embed that connection. It was just my good fortune. I had, however, used this as an opportunity to introduce him to Jackson Elias who was one of several journalists called upon by Walsh to take a look at the place. The British government, fearing embarrassment, shut down the media's attempts to reveal this experiment to the general public. Jackson Elias, being an American writer, knew that he could always write about it later and publish it in New York but lacked enough information to publish a book. He offered James and Walsh a cash incentive to provide him with any further information they might find out about the organisation.

Jackson Elias will return at the funeral to have a chat with him and, if he notices James Tyler's avid investigations of any connections to Walsh's death (which he will doubtless do), Elias will connect him to a British Intelligence agent called Threepenny Jack. He will also point out that there's a journalist in New York who is examining some sort of eugenics movement down there as well - Sydney Silver. I made a point to avoid referring to Sydney's gender as, in this instance, Sydney Silver will be a girl reporter whose skilful enough to get some good reporting roles but who writes under a masculine byline to maintain respect from the readership.

Threepenny Jack will be happy to have the assistance as his hands are tied when it comes to foreign soil. While they do have assets in New York, there are none who could be quite as flexible as a desperate PI. So he will offer to pay James' way to New York, especially since the investigations in London need to be of a more ... delicate nature due to some of the influential families involvement. To this end Threepenny will provide a copy of a telegram found in the London experimental chambers that was sent via a New York telegram office and which required additional shipments of some chemical listed only by initials and numbers. Naturally I have a little typewritten prop for that. I've also created a slip of cockney slang and phrases that Threepenny Jack is likely to use during this conversation.

Next week I'll talk about the September 1938 timelines for the 'New Moon' scenario and how I will be using a historically accurate hurricane to justify the escape of Mogens' creation.

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