Game Master Daniel Penfold 351

A play through of the Masks of Nyarlhotep campaign for Call of Cthulu.





London 1920s

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Gameplay thread

1921: It has been 3 years since the end of the Great War. Many new countries have been created with the fall of former Empires. But it is now the roaring twenties, new dances and music are coming to the forefront. In the USA there are the rise of the speakeasies with the coming of Prohibition. There are also advances in art and science. The automobile is now becoming more common and widespread. There has also been an interest in the past. Egyptologists are exploring the Valley of the Kings, in particular Howard Carter who is looking for the tomb of Tutankhamen. In new Mexico Neil Merton Judd has started a large scale exploration of Pueblo Bonito and Chaco Canyon. In the Palestine region John Garstang has started excavation of an ancient Philistine site. Archaeologists are the new heroes of the century among the educated and the elite.

A new explorer/archaeologist has come on the scene, a man named Augustus Larkin who has headed to Peru. He has contacted each of you as he feels you have value to his expedition. You are asked to meet him at the Bar Cordano in Lima at 7pm on Friday 18th March

In the documents folder you will find a copy of a newspaper clipping about Augustus Larkin, together with a copy of the telegram he has sent you. I will leave some time before we progress to allow you all to introduce your characters to each other.

Male Human (Scottish American) Bounty Hunter

Barney (Steve Cranford) Dropping in to dot

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

Arthur arrives in Lima on March 17th to ensure that he has his bearings on the day of the meeting with Augustus Larkin.

Though he knows not much of Larkin, this opportunity was too much to pass up. Having left his Uncle's Egyptian dig prematurely, Arthur is determined to see this one through. The resulting riches, glory and legacy make the long trip worth it. His Department head at Miskatonic University agreed and so here he is.

At the appointed date and time, Arthur heads to Bar Cordano. He only wishes he knew the local language a bit better...

American Doctor of Medicine | HP 11/11

Dr Brent Sanders, or 'Bren', has been sitting in the bar since midday. He is excited to meet the expedition members, having done nothing of the sort before. Peru is the antithesis of Massacheusetts, and Bren is soaking it all in, watching the comings and goings both inside the bar and on the street outside.

Male Human (Scottish American) Bounty Hunter

Barney arrived at the bar a little early. He'd never been here before, so wasn't sure how long it would take him to arrive. As he approached the front door to the establishment, he removed his big black hat, but still had to duck to enter. As expected all eyes turned to the giant who had just entered, looking like he just walked in from the set of a American Western movie... starring Gulliver.

He acknowledged any stares with a nod, as he made his way to the bar, and ordered two fingers of something brown and strong, then leaning his elbows on the bar with his back to it, scanned the room for any potential fellow adventurers.


"Gracias," the American man said to the driver of the farm cart as he handed him a few sol and hopped off in front of the bar. His trip by steamer from Caracas had been delayed going through the Panama Canal, and, so he'd just reached Lima a short while ago. He'd exchanged his money for sol down by the docks, and managed to catch a ride with the farmer from there to the bar. It was near the appointed time for the meeting, so he slung his canvas bag over his shoulder - the butt of his rifle just poking out the top - and walked into the bar.

He immediately noticed the mountain of a man over at the bar, walked over and ordered a pint of the local beer. It was, as always, too warm for his taste, but it would serve. He didn't want to get drunk, anyway - had to keep his wits about him for this meeting.

Sipping his ale, he scanned the bar, noticing the man in a corduroy suit who looked around eagerly and the more scholarly fellow who sat quietly. His eyes kept coming back to the huge gentelman near him, and he leaned over and said, "You hear to meet with Larkin, too?"

Male Human (Scottish American) Bounty Hunter

Barney looks for a moment at the man who had approached him, then reached out one of his ham like hands to grab the mans in greeting. His deep baritone was filled with warmth at hearing the familiar accent. "It seems we have more in common than our shared country. Names Barney, and I'm from out west. Might be another couple of fellas that stand out from the crowd here". The big man nods at the other two non-natives present.

"Can I buy you another glass of that warm cat piss they call beer, or would you join me in something good for the soul"?

American Doctor of Medicine | HP 11/11

Bren sees the two men introducing themselves to each other and figures that even if they aren't part of the expedition, they must at least be interesting conversation partners - especially given the fact that they seem to be speaking English. He picks up his bag and walks over, introducing himself.

"I couldn't help but notice you two sticking out a bit. Dr Brent Sanders, but you can call me Bren. I'm guessing you are here to meet with Mr Larkin?"

As he's saying this he points to the brown liquor that Mr Lipscomb is drinking and then to himself as he nods to the bartender, indicating that he too would like a drink.


Shaking Barney's hand, Henry said, "Henry Chandler. I'm from New York originally, but I've been down here since the War. Sure, I'll join you in a glass of something good for the soul."

As the bartender pours him a glass he looks at the other fellow who came up. "You guess right. Henry Chandler. Doctor, huh? Mr. Larkin got some kind of medical problems?"

American Doctor of Medicine | HP 11/11

"That I do not know. I assumed that I was hired to deal with any medical emergencies experienced by the expedition, but I guess we shall see when Mr Larkin shows."

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

Arthur listens to the small talk for a few moments until he hears the name Larkin, it is perfectly clear that these men are here for the same reason that he is. He stands, flattens out his suit a bit to ensure presentability and approaches the group, "Arthur Carter. How do you do Gentlemen". His accent is unmistakably British.

Male Human (Scottish American) Bounty Hunter

Barney just orders a bottle and four glasses, and motions the others towards a table. "Might as well be comfortable while we wait".

He sits down, and pours two fingers of the whisky for each of them. "My name's Barney. Nice to meet you gents... though I hope you don't need to put your skills to use too often". He nods at Dr. Sanders.

He then turns his attention to the British gentleman. "Well I see Larkin's reach travels across the pond. What is your specialty"?

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

"Archaeology ah.. Barney.

Though most recently I have taken sabbatical from Miskatonic University to be here. My travels across the Atlantic took place a few years ago.

The offer of such a position was too tempting to resist in juxtaposition with sifting through Egyptian sands and finding little. Then, after I leave, my Uncle discovers the tomb. Suffice to say I was apoplectic at my decision to abandon the dig. Thus, this was an offer I could not resist".

He picks up his glass and raises it in a host to his newest companions, "To success in this endeavor".

At this point the maitre 'd' comes over to your table and asks you to follow him and he will take you to Mr Larkin's table.

He leads you into the restaurant area, taking any coats, hats and baggage to the cloakroom as he does so. He leads you to a table with three individuals already sat at it.

The first is a pale, thin white man with greasy blond hair and pale blue eyes. His skin is saggy and he has noticeable bags under his eyes. His white linen suit also appears baggy. He wears very expensive cologne in almost excessive qualities.

The second man is an African American of average height and build with short hair and what seems to be a habitual grin. He is wearing a tweed coat and a fedora and is smoking a pipe.

The final figure is a gaunt man with pronounced cheekbones and deep-set piercing blue eyes. He has medium-length brown hair which is unkempt. His clothing is frayed but clean.

The blond haired man sees you arrive and stands up

Ah gentlemen, you got my telegram. Thank you so much for coming. Allow me to introduce Mr Jesse Hughes (African American) who is also joining the expedition, together with Mr Mendoza who I have employed for security

Male Human (Scottish American) Bounty Hunter

Barney begrudgingly gives up his hat Manners I guess, and enters the room with the others. He smiles in greeting, and sticks out his hand to the newcomers.

"Pleased to meet you. Names Barney, Barney Lipscomb. I'm eager to hear what you've got to say".


Henry lets the maitre'd take his bag, with an admonition that he'd better get it back with everything in it. Walking up, he wrinkles his nose at the overwhelming presence of Mr. Larkin's cologne, but doesn't comment on it. Based on his appearance, Henry thinks, Yep. Medical problems. The doctor might be busier than he thought. He shakes Mr. Larkin's hand, followed by Mr. Hughes' and Mr. Mendoza's, before saying, "Henry Chandler. I'm curious to hear more about this expedition. We looking for anything in particular, or just digging and hoping?"

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

"Mister Larkin, Mr. HUghes, Mr. Mendoza. Arthur Carter, thank you for your invitation. I too am interested to understand where we will dig and the legend behind what it is we are looking for", he gives a stiff formal bow before taking a seat.

Ah yes, welcome, welcome and thank you for coming. I trust that your travel to Lima was without issue. I can heartily recommend the escabeche (a hot, sweet and sour fish dish). The tongue in sauce is also very good.

Well, well, I suppose I should explain. Mr Mendoza here is my personal aide. Mr Hughes is a folklorist from New York City and a relatively new member of the expedition.

My plan is to head up into the highlands of Peru and locate the site of the lost pyramid and recover some valuable artifacts. I bought a few interesting items from an alpaca farmer near Puno, who claims that his grandfather recovered them from tunnels beneath a pyramid high in the mountains. The grandfather never returned to the site because of superstitious fear, but told his family that there were other treasures in the tunnels. While the farmer could not give a precise location for the site, my subsequent research has provided enough detail to narrow it down and make an expedition viable.

At this point Larkin brings out two items from his pockets. The first is a pendant in the form of a man holding two rods or staves, embellished with rectangular shapes. The other is a golden cup, carved with geometrical patterns and circles and inlaid with turquoise

American Doctor of Medicine | HP 11/11

Dr Sanders notices Larkin's generally unwell demeanor and makes a mental note to talk to the man about it in a more appropriate setting.

"Those are beautiful Mr Larkin! Quite extraordinary. I for one am excited for the journey and hope that I can be of assistance as much as I hope my assistance is not required."

You can have an archaeology roll and also a psychology roll if you have the skill

American Doctor of Medicine | HP 11/11

Psychology (40): 1d100 ⇒ 8


Appraise (45): 1d100 ⇒ 57

Henry eyes the golden cup. He wasn't sure how much it was worth, but if there were more of them, he was certain to turn a tidy profit on this venture. "They really are quite extraordinary. And the grandfather said there were more of them?"

Male Human (Scottish American) Bounty Hunter

1d100 ⇒ 76 Psychology (25%)

Barney takes his turn examining the artifacts, and his greed for this type of things clouds his judgement. He only really hears the "Valuable Artifacts" part of the discussion.

"Well I'll Be. Those seem to be the real deal. You can count me in for a share of that".

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

"Pyramid eh? Not a Ziggurat? Interesting. I will have to compare any carvings on this site to those I saw in Egypt".

He takes the items for inspection as well though appraisal itself was never his strong suit...

Appraisal 5% - 1d100 ⇒ 46
Archaeology 50% - 1d100 ⇒ 62
Psychology 10% - 1d100 ⇒ 54

Dr Brent, you notice that there is a very tense atmosphere and you think that there is some animosity or suspicion between de Mendoza and Hughes.

You also think that Larkin's tale concerning the farmer is not the complete story, but you do confirm that he believes there is a pyramid and that the items came from it.

Neither Arthur or Henry are realistically able to put a price figure for either artefact

Unfortunately Arthur is unable to make out any real distinguishing features about either artefact, however you are able to tell they are from 2 different time periods

Is there anything you want to ask Larkin?

Male Human (Scottish American) Bounty Hunter

Barney somewhat reluctantly returns the objects.

”So where is this Pyramid and what are our plans to get there? Is it just us? Must we purchase our own gear and supplies?

He then reaches for his almost empty tumbler.

”If we decide to join this expedition when do we leave”?

The warm buzz of the alcohol is making Barnet feel more at ease.

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

Arthur is about to speak when Barney asks most of the questions that come to his mind, "Do you have any idea what time period these pieces may be from Mr. Larkin? They are not from the same period, or at least they do not appear to be".

The pyramid is up in the Highlands, near to Lake Titicaca, a few days journey from Puno. I have located the pyramid's probable location from the directions of the farmer.

I have hired three trucks and drivers to take us and some supplies up to the city of Puno. Once there I plan to buy some pack animals and stock up with fresh food. I hope that the journey to the pyramid will take no more than 4 days across country.

I will provide any supplies necessary but if you think you need to buy anything special, I'm happy to reimburse you provided you can produce receipts.

I plan to leave Lima early in the morning of Monday March 21. If you could meet me at 8am on Monday morning at the Hotel Espana that will be sufficient. Oh by the way I have arranged rooms for you all at the Hotel Maury, I am afraid we took the last rooms at the Espana.

You are quite correct Mr Carter, as far as I've been made aware the pendant is from the 5th century Tiwanaku culture. The cup comes from the 15th century and appears to be of Incan design.


"Okay, then. One final question. If we join the expedition, what form will our payment take?"

American Doctor of Medicine | HP 11/11

Dr Brent sits back, letting the more experienced expedition members ask the questions.

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

"And yet they were found in the same location? Fascinating, I am already interested to see more".

I would be willing to pay you $50 each for taking on the expedition, together with an equal share of any treasure we find.

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%



Henry smiles. "Well then, you've got yourself a deal Mr. Larkin. The plan is to leave Monday, correct?"

Male Human (Scottish American) Bounty Hunter

I made a fairly long post yesterday, but for some reason it disappeared. Oh well...

Barney was hooked when the treasure came out, and he found it difficult to return the loot when it was time. He carefully surveyed his soon-to-be expedition mates for signs of anything untoward.

1d100 ⇒ 72 Psychology (25%)

"I'm good to go, and ready to leave whenever... however I believe that in celebration I might order some of the recommended food, and progress towards a hangover for tomorrow. Anybody want to join me? Maybe we'll find a good watering hole closer to our hotel".

Something's just not right about the story. Why two artifacts from two widely separated time periods. I have to admit that mystery is nearly as enticing to me as the thoughts of treasure.

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

"Agreed Barney, this may well be one of the most memorable days in the field of Archaeology. What is a momentous occasion without some strong drink?"

Yes, we leave on Monday. You will have to forgive me, it has been a long day. I will takemy leave of you now. Please enjoy yourselves

With that Larkin leaves and de Mendoza leave

You can have a Spot Hidden or Medicine roll on Larkin


After Larkin has left Jesse Hughes seems to open up a bit. He leans over the table, after making sure Larkin has really left.

So, I gotta wonder. How much of what Larkin spun us do you believe. Do you trust him?

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

Spot Hidden 70% 1d100 ⇒ 78


"This is not a business where you can trust anyone. However, if what he says is true, the opportunity is too good to pass up.

If you do not trust him, why are you here?"

American Doctor of Medicine | HP 11/11

Medicine 61: 1d100 ⇒ 22

"I've never been one to say no to a drink! Larkin does seem a touch... off, but who isn't?"

Brent you notice that Larkin has grown noticeably paler and sweatier as the evening has gone on. You realise that his symptoms resemble opiate withdrawal

Hughes turns to Arthur and says

A straight talker eh, I like that. Ok cards on the table time. My real name is Jackson Elias. You've probably heard that over the last few years there have been rumours of strange secret societies around the world. I try to investigate them and if possible try to stop them, or at the very least try to reveal their activities to the authorities.

A friend of mine Professor Nemesio Sanchez believes that a secret society is operating in this area so here I am. I think Larkin may be leading us into danger, there's something off about him.


Spot Hidden, 45%: 1d100 ⇒ 82

Henry snorts at Jesse Hughes' question. "Trust? Not even close. Larkin's paying me cash straight up, and he's giving me a cut of the treasures we find. He's paid for rooms for all of us, arranged transport for all of us, and is appears to be financing this expedition himself. People with that kind of money view people like us as expendable. I'm fully expecting him to try and screw us over."

He takes a sip of his drink, which he'd left untouched the entire conversation with Larkin. "There's always danger involved in digs like this - locals who don't want you digging, isolated tribes that don't like any outsiders, poisonous snakes and other wild animals. Now, the secret society thing is new to me. I don't pay much attention to such things. Did this Professor Sanchez give you any idea what kind of secret society this might be, or what sort of evidence he had of the possibility?"

Male Human (Scottish American) Bounty Hunter

1d100 ⇒ 91 Spot Hidden (35%)

"He seemed on the up and up to me. In fact he wasn't the one hiding anything... seems that might have been you".

Barney's jovial manner seems to have dried up whether due to the growing amount of alcohol, or to the mention of secret societies is hard to tell.

"There are few of us that aren't hiding something. If he or anyone else is we'll find out in time.

HP = 9/11|MP=14/14|SAN 70/70|Spot Hidden 70%

Arthur awaits the responses to the questions posed by his new companions, an astute group so far. Always good to know that one is surrounded by competent colleagues!

Ok, well I got no one else I can trust in town. So here goes, some of this stuff may sound nuts, it did to me at first, but bear with me.

I'm a writer by trade, mainly of history and anthropology. Several months ago I was looking for a follow up to my most recent book. I was looking through some old accounts and records in the New York library when I found some references to a legend known as the kharisiri. This is some kind of vampire legend that is common in Peru. I read the account and started to wonder if there was a more human element to the legends.

I've travelled across the world as part of my research and I've encountered death cults before. I assumed something similar was happening in Peru, the murderous actions of an all-too human death cult forming the foundation of the kharisiri mythology. The descriptions of the kharisiri are usually white men and I started to wonder if the cult had come to the Americas with the conquistadors. And so I decided to head to Peru.

I spent four months in the southern Andean highlands, in the region around Lake Titicaca. I met the locals and researched the stories. I soon realised that the locals saw the kharisiri not as legends but as a real and tangible threat. A few were able to recount seeing "pale-faced monsters"

While I was speaking to the locals I was warned about Luis de Mendoza as a man to be feared. No one was able to provide and concrete proof of any wrongdoing. Some of them referred to Mendoza as a kharisiri. I took this to mean he was a key figure in the death cult.

I was surprised t find him in Puno. I'd been following him from a distance, making a note of his movements and contacts. I learned of his association with Augustus Larkin and ultimately Larkin's plan to find and explore a lost pyramid. I believe that the pyramid and surrounding site are linked to the kharisiri.

I followed Larkin and de Mendoza to Lima to try and determine their goal in recruiting others to join the expedition and what this has to do with the cult. I volunteered to join and I hope Larkin or Mendoza realise I've been investigating them.

I can tell you that Larkin first tried t hire locals but could get no one willing to join the expedition. That's when he wrote out to you.

Professor Sanchez of the National University of San Marcos (an expert in archaeology) asked to join the expedition but Larkin refused.

Sanchez believes he has some documents related to the site and I have an appointment to see him tomorrow morning.

If you want, you could come with me, to see what he has to say

American Doctor of Medicine | HP 11/11

"This sounds like a proper adventure! Vampires, secret societies, archeological secrets! What more could a man ask for? Count me in!"

The good doctor clearly doesn't believe in the mystical parts of the story, but is definitely excited to see where it goes.


Henry listens to Jackson’s explanation, then thinks it over for a minute. ”I don’t know a whole lot about the local legends and whatnot, but it sounds like a smart bandit or some other criminal is setting up shop in the area, and using the legend of the kharisiri as cover for his operations. Luis de Mendoza maybe working with him. Heck, maybe even this Larkin fellow is involved. Either way, you’re right about there being danger. If some bandit claims it as his territory, he might not take kindly to us digging.”

Henry clearly didn’t believe in the superstitious mystical stuff, but he definitely saw the danger involved.

That was my thought exactly Mr Chandler. Would you be willing to come with me to speak to Sanchez, shall we say to meet here at 10 am?

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