Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Time to Harvest Session 5: "Going Mad at Miskatonic"

We had a smaller group than usual this week, but still achieved a quorum so we still played, and I think had a very good session.

Our Dramatis Personae for this session:
  • Nathanlie Wingate Peaslee (played by Kai), folklore major, daughter of psychology professor Wingate Peaslee, granddaughter of economics professor Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee (See Lovecraft's The Shadow Out of Time for more on the Peaslees - I made the canonical Peaslees ten years older to allow for a college age descendant)
  •  Perry Webster (played by Dan), journalism major, on assignment for the Miskatonic Crier 
  •  Roni (played by Katie), Finnish-born history major and member of the swim team 
  •  Randall Vhloche (played by Sean), geography major 

When we last left our heroes, Nathanlie Peaslee was steeling herself to torture "Clarissa Thurber," her roommate suddenly displaying strange behaviors, for information, convinced that this was a case of the same strange fugue state that her grandfather had experienced in 1908.  She was stopped by the combined efforts of her father, Wingate Peaslee, and fellow investigator Perry Webster, who together talked her down from the idea of torture.  As they discussed other possible causes of "Clarissa's" strange behavior and whether some such causes could be found via blood test, "Clarissa" finally spoke:

"If you give me what I want, I'll tell you what you want to know."

"Clarissa" revealed that she was actually "Wesley," a chemist and body-builder taken by "the Old Ones" more than a decade earlier.  Unhappy about having his brain placed in a woman's body, he was willing to explain what he knew - that the Old Ones, alien crustaceans, had been visiting Earth for millions of years in search of minerals unavailable on their homeworld, Incredibly advanced, they can remove a still-living brain and preserve it for as long as they please in a sealed canister, even able to transplant it into a different head years or even centuries later.  The students on the Cobb's Corners trip had all had their brains removed and the brains of conditioned operatives placed in their heads, with the goal of collecting information on the Old Ones from various sources in the school's library, setting the library on fire, and stealing samples of a certain ultraheavy ore from the geology lab - ore that had precipitated the geology side of the Cobb's Corners trip.  

In exchange for this information, Wesley wanted to die with dignity; he understood there was no possibility of returning to his own body, and he was uncomfortable with living out his life as a woman.  

A shot rang out; a scarlet blossom erupted on "Wesley's" forehead, and Perry got a glimpse of the rat-like face of Terry Laslow, disappearing into the shadow.  Thinking quickly, Perry hurled a handy mason jar at the fading apparition, nailing him in the forehead.  Snapping into visibility and stunned by the attack, Laslow managed to shoot the boiler and douse the investigators in hot steam, but undeterred, Perry tackled him and Nathanlie lunged with the fireplace poker.  Holding the point inches from his face, Nathanlie demanded he stand down, which he did, calming down and going silent - and then he began to change.

A third eye opened in his forehead, his neck and arms elongating, his hands becoming claws; In a moment, Nathanlie was confronted with the monster that haunted her own nightmares almost as vividly as it did her grandfather's - one of the vast, cone-shaped beings that was somehow connected to Nathaniel Peaslee's experiences from 1908 to 1913.  Panicking, she lunged for the creature's head, embedding the poker in the floor of the basement.  Perry saw none of this, and Laslow used the confusion to kick free, though Perry managed to seize the gun and turn it on Laslow.  

Cornered, Laslow allowed the investigators some information - that he was in fact Lawrence Jarvis, he'd been in the service of the Old Ones for close to three hundred years, and that he would kill them for this.  Disappearing from view, Perry and Nathanlie heard footsteps running up the stairs and, trying to judge the location of the invisible assassin, Perry squeezed off a shot, apparently without success.  

Collecting their wits, Nathanlie and Perry met up with Roni and Randall and discussed what they'd learned.  Randall confirmed with information he'd gathered - attempting to quiz his friend Roderick "Little Rod" Block about the trip had earned him a savage punch in the nose.  Together, they made plans to arm themselves and find a way to protect the library from these strange invaders.  

To that end, Randall bought himself a golf club, Roni a knife, and Nathanlie a knife, a lever-action rifle (with attendant golf bag and club sleeve to disguise the weapon on campus) and a pint of kerosene.  

Casing the library, Roni encountered Jason Trent, the shy folklorist from the field trip, cursing in a broad cockney accent over a book on the American Revolution, and was belittled for his Scandinavian accent by Trent.  

Randall encountered Louis Gibbons, the former pre-med turned botany major, who was seemingly returning to the study of medicine, reading textbooks well above what should have been his level of expertise.  

Perry witnessed Dr. Armitage denying William Noakes, another folklore student, access to the Restricted Section, despite a note from Professor Harrold authorizing Noakes to review passages from the Necronomicon.  Perry delivered a warning to Armitage that certain students had begun acting strangely, and would likely make other attempts on the Restricted Section.  Armitage agreed to work on enhancing security.  

Nathanlie, looking into the possibility of using the library boiler room to encourage students to leave the library and thus shield them from the arson planned by the altered students, found the door locked.  She splashed some kerosene along the bottom of the door to see if it would wick under, before noticing "Little Rod," aka "Keith Clark," studying old periodicals.  Using the "real" name given to her by Clarissa/Wesley, she addressed Keith and spoke sympathetically, hoping to find another unhappy soul and potential ally.  

In response, Keith handed her a newspaper clipping from 1921, covering the discovery of the bodies of Lou Ann Clark and their two children and his own disappearance.  He explained that he'd made a deal with the Old Ones after accidentally stumbling across them on a family vacation; he gave himself to them in exchange for his wife and children's freedom and safety.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Aboleth Progress

"Goroloth," excuse me.  It's an Aboleth to me!

I got a lot of progress in on this figure, not least by keeping the color scheme simple.  A deep turquoise body (basecoat of Reaper Deep Ocean, highlighted Marine Teal, final highlight Aqua Surf) with fleshy undersides to the tentacles (Dusty Rose Red, drybrushed Fair Highlight) and around the mouth, and bright orange membranes to the pectoral and pelvic fins (basecoat Phoenix Red, highlighted Fire Orange) - similar, though brighter, than the 3.5 edition illustration that is the default Aboleth in my mind.   There's still a little bit of work to be done on this figure - picking out the claws on the fins and some touch-up work mostly - and then I need to figure out what I want to do about a base for him.  I would love to not have to buy an entire bag of Games Workshop flying bases to have one to mount him on for a "swimming" display; I might sculpt some coral or a strange obelisk on to a base and prop him on top of that.

I also remembered to actually take step-by-step photos this time, so here we go!

The first round of body highlights - Reaper Marine Teal brushed over the Deep Ocean basecoat.

Second round of body highlights - Aqua Surf brushed lightly over, to pick up the detail.

Basecoat of Phoenix Red applied to the fins.

Dusty Rose Red applied to the tentacles and mouth.

Fins highlighted with Fire Orange.

Picked out the eyes (all 11 of them!) in Pale Green.

Detailing the mouth and suckers with Fair Highlight.
There's a chance I'll finish him today and be able to begin work on the base; I also treated myself at the game store last night (and I left the Aboleth on the table while I was gone to prove how well-behaved Atticus is!) and picked up Reaper's Jabberwock, from their Pathfinder miniatures line, as my next project.  I just need a beamish boy to oppose him...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Resuming Painting...

Atticus has been a very good boy lately about not jumping on the table or countertops, so I decided it was okay for me to start painting again.  I decided my first project would be a larger Bones figure I purchased an assembled a month or so back - a "Goroloth" by Reaper Miniatures' terminology, but a respectable stand-in for one of my favorite monsters from Dungeons & Dragons, the Aboleth.  The assembled figure is about 7 inches long.

Aboleths in D&D are giant, psychic, ancient fish who hate the gods (being old enough, and having a racial-memory stretching back far enough, to remember a time before the gods, when the Aboleths were the most powerful beings in the multiverse) and act as sinister manipulators from behind the scenes, using cults of surface-worlders and (in later editions) menacing fish-men called "Skum," to exert their will beyond their flooded cavern homes.  More grotesquely, the Aboleths produce a disgusting slime, exposure to which causes mutation in surface-worlders, robbing them of their ability to breathe out of water and making them reliant on the Aboleth to survive.  Even moreso than the more famous "Mind Flayers," the Aboleths are the big success at introducing a Lovecraftian entity in D&D.

They first appeared in 1st edition AD&D, in Module I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, released in 1981, and appeared in Monster Manual 2 shortly thereafter.  Truth be told, as much as I love the Aboleth, I haven't had an opportunity to use one as a DM yet.  This didn't stop me from buying the figure.

Here's the "Goroloth," fully assembled, and basecoated in Reaper "Deep Ocean."

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cult of Chaos Write Up, Free RPG Day Edition: "The Space Between"

Greetings, readers, yesterday was Free RPG Day at many a Friendly Local Gaming Store - it certainly was at mine, Just Games Rochester.  Store owner Matt wrangled almost a dozen GMs into running games at the store to mark the event, with a table thick with prizes for people who ran games, played games, or just spent $10 or more on merchandise in the store.  Unsurprisingly, I was there to run Call of Cthulhu (though I did get to play in a very enjoyable "tournament" of Dungeon Crawl Classics as well), choosing "The Space Between," by Scott Dorward, as the adventure I'd be running.  This adventure can be found in the collection "Nameless Horrors" for those who want to follow along.

Dramatis Personae:

  • Blake Tevis, sleazy producer, PR spin-controller for the Church of Sunyata
  • Daria Nowland, frustrated producer, member of the Church of Sunyata
  • Julia Cortese, assistant to the director, member of the Church of Sunyata
  • Spencer Shull, "fixer" for the Church of Sunyata
The Church of Sunyata is essentially Scientology with the serial numbers filed off, with members striving to become "empty" of their "woes" to achieve enlightenment.  The public face of the Church is John Trav- I mean, Craig Steele, a retired movie star, who is bankrolling the production of a film called "The Space Between," which is being produced wholly with Church talent and crew and is rumored to be a recruitment tool for the Church.  

The lead actress, Verity Harrow, has gone missing, and production has ground to a halt.  The Investigators decided to go to Harrow's apartment to look for her - and are met by a Church security guard, Tyrone Goode, who is very apologetic, having been offered $1000 by Harrow to drive her from the Church's Celebrity Retreat to the apartment to "get a few things." Spencer begins to get very uncomfortable with this, as he did not know Harrow was at the Retreat and believed it was his job to know.  

Meeting Harrow inside, they soon discover that something's terribly wrong with her - her skin feels rubbery and yielding, like an underinflated balloon, and there's a line of sutures down her back.  A call to Brian Musgrave, the head of the Church, gets them the order to bring her back to the Celebrity Retreat.  

Daria Nowland decides instead that it's more important for Harrow to finish making the film, and drives her (with Julia Cortese) to the set.  Julia starts texting Spencer that they're heading for the set, and Daria's efforts to take the phone from Julia results in them rear-ending another vehicle while going 45 on Rodeo Drive.  

Verity Harrow bursts like an overfed tick, spurting tendrils of inky blackness - not so much black, but the absolute absence of light - from her mouth and eye-sockets as well as her ruptured sutures.  Daria and Julia take off running as the tendrils begin to invade neighboring cars, the people inside them just vanishing, seeming to sink into the blackness.  

Spencer and Blake, with Tyrone in tow, give chase, eventually picking up Julia as Daria flees on a stolen moped.  They manage to call Daria, talk her down, and arrange a meeting at Daria's health food store.  Daria arrives first, retrieving a gun from under the counter and sitting in a booth, the pistol cradled in her lap.  

Blake seats himself opposite Daria, while Spencer and Tyrone come in the back, guns drawn, under orders from Brian Musgrove to bring Daria in to Sunyata Central at any cost.  Daria sees their reflection in the store window and panics, shooting Blake in the stomach from two feet away.  Blake sinks into shock, and Daria, experiencing a bout of madness at having shot someone, spins around, firing wildly.  She clips Spencer's ear with a bullet before being shot in the head by Tyrone.  As sirens wail, Tyrone and Spencer drag Blake to the waiting car, where Julia drives them to Sunyata Central.  

Under the guise of "medical attention," Blake is forcibly Emptied, his skin peeled off his still-living body, stitched up and filled with the Hungry Void.  When Spencer realizes that Brian Musgrove does not have his best interests at heart, he tries to fight his way out of the Church, getting gunned down by security guards.  

Craig Steele comes to Julia, and tells her she was very brave through this entire ordeal, and offers her a personal, "elevated" Emptying session, which she accepts.  It takes a half-hour for her to die as Steele skins her alive, stitching her skin back together into a semblance of life, filled with the Hungry Void.  

Unimpeded, director Jared Woodward finishes editing together "The Space Between," with footage of Verity Harrow's sacrificial Emptying being spliced in as subliminal images.  An advance screening is held for members of the press and local government, the imagery serving as a conduit for the Hungry Void, Emptying all who see the film, which soon goes into global distribution.  

the happy players in the aftermath of the session.

In retrospect, I don't think "The Space Between" was the right choice of adventure for me to run for Free RPG Day.  The players were all new to me, and while most of them had some Call of Cthulhu experience, they were used to playing it as a game of "we summon the King in Yellow, tell him he looks fat, and waste him with our tommy guns." One player actually lamented that this was a modern day scenario instead of 1920s, because in the 1920s his character could have a tommy gun.  

None of them, I think, were willing to take the premise seriously or think of their characters as devotees to the Church - at the very least, the idea of respecting the head of the Church never seemed to have crossed their mind.  C'est la vie.  Everyone had fun, at least, and that's what matters.  

The hardest part for me was having a player who was a backseat GM - he kept trying to tell me how Sanity Checks work and I finally had to say to him, "Look, I've been running Call of Cthulhu for almost a decade now, and I am running this session.  I need you to trust me to know what I'm doing, please." He settled down after that.  

So I think next year at Free RPG Day I'll run a pulpier Cthulhu scenario; still, I'm counting this session as a rousing success and an exercise in improvisational thinking - plus, we wrapped up in time that I was able to get to the charity picnic my girlfriend was working in time to get a hot dog and a s'more.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Time to Harvest Session 4: "Back to School"

First off, to the people in the miniature painting and wargaming community that follow my blog, I apologize for the lack of miniature painting I've been doing lately.  Haven't been hugely in the mood, plus we've had a new arrival in our lives here - this gigantic furball, named Atticus, has been adopted and brought into our house.  He's 20 pounds, or 9.07 kg for my brethren in civilized countries that use an actual system of measurement.  Sorry Americans, I'm pro-metric system.

Since I don't have a dedicated workspace for miniature painting, and I don't want to risk him licking paint or eating a scrap of metal or plastic trimmed off a figure, I've decided to hold off on toy soldier work for a while - at the very least until he's more settled in his environment here and knows the boundaries that are in place.

New feline friends aside, I think this week's session of the "A Time to Harvest" campaign was the best yet in terms of pacing and energy at the table.  We had a new player join us, a woman I knew a little bit at college, who's a big Lovecraft fan but had little experience with the RPG.  This proved no hindrance as she leapt into play without difficulty.

 Our Dramatis Personae:
  •  Darren Gray (played by Mike), engineering major and member of the fencing team 
  • Nathanlie Wingate Peaslee (played by Kai), folklore major, daughter of psychology professor Wingate Peaslee, granddaughter of economics professor Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee (See Lovecraft's The Shadow Out of Time for more on the Peaslees - I made the canonical Peaslees ten years older to allow for a college age descendant)
  •  Perry Webster (played by Dan), journalism major, on assignment for the Miskatonic Crier 
  •  Roni (played by Katie), Finnish-born history major and member of the swim team 
  •  Randall Vhloche (played by Sean), geography major 
  • Dave was on his way to Origins, and so was not available to play Oliver Goss this week.  

With Oliver incapacitated by an overpowering summer cold, no doubt contracted during the heavy thunderstorm experienced in Cobb's Corners, Darren, Perry, Roni and Randall have a quiet drive back to Miskatonic, arriving on campus August 20th.  Upon arrival, they immediately begin looking for their fellow classmates from the fieldtrip, while Perry visits Orne Library for an investigation into the history and folklore of the Wampanoag tribes of Vermont (flub on my part - in Vermont it would have been the Abenaki, not the Wampanoag, who were found in what is now Massachusetts) looking for answers to the mass grave-site they discovered.  He discovered native tales backing up the folklore he'd heard in Cobb's Corners, about evil spirits, the "old ones under the hills" that massacred an entire tribe in a single night.

Meanwhile, having recovered from a summer cold that forced her to miss the Cobb's Corners trip, Nathanlie Peaslee set out to find students who had been on that trip to learn what she'd missed.  She soon encountered first Roni, then Perry, Darren and Randall, who filled her in on the strange and unusual happenings of the trip.  She especially latched on to descriptions of students behaving oddly, relating them to the mysterious fugue state and alternate personality manifested by her grandfather from 1908 to 1913.  She made plans with the others to meet over dinner to discuss the matter further.
In the interim, Nathanlie found out where Robert Blaine, the expedition's leader, was living off campus, and paid his apartment a visit, sweet-talking her way past the landlord and giving the room a quick search, soon discovering a book - the handwritten notes from Daphne Devine, one of the missing students from the previous year's disastrous trip to Cobb's Corners, and a letter to Devine from Professor Roger Harrold of the anthropology department, praising her work and encouraging a follow-up trip.

She followed that up with a meeting with her roommate, Clarissa Thurber, a young chemistry major who had been on the Cobb's Corners trip, finding her suddenly sullen, withdrawn, and dressing in men's clothing.  A few carefully-worded questions convinced Nathanlie that whoever this was, it wasn't Clarissa Thurber.  Her suspicions, based on her grandfather's experience from 1908-1913, grew stronger, and she arranged a cab to pick up her fellow investigators for a private dinner at the Regatta restaurant.

Perry, meanwhile, interviewed with Professor Roger Harrold about the last days of the fieldtrip, after he and his fellow investigators had been sent home.  It seemed Harrold bore them no ill will regarding the circumstances under which the investigators were sent back to Miskatonic and happily answered Perry's questions, while inserting a few sly jabs at the quality and skill of the student newspaper's editors.

Darren took to Orne Library to research the footprints he discovered in Cobb's Corners, finding the shape of the tracks to resemble the feet of both owls and chameleons, though of a size to suggest an animal over five feet in length.

Randall looked into the geography and geology of Vermont, and encountered his friend Roderick "Little Rod" Block, who had been on the fieldtrip, and now seemed different; no longer was he wearing his beloved football jersey, and the swing was missing from his step.  He seemed distant and withdrawn; he quickly ended the conversation with Randall, disappearing into the depths of Orne Library.

Reconvening over dinner, Nathanlie provided the others with copies of salient points from Daphne Devine's journal, and discussed plans to gain further information.  It was ultimately decided that Nathanlie would drug "Clarissa" with ether and smuggle her unconscious from Upman Hall to a secure location - namely, the basement of her father and grandfather's house - for interrogation; Perry would assist in moving "Clarissa" inside a steamer trunk to get her past the watchful eye of the Upman Hall chaperone.

The plan works, and "Clarissa" is soon tied to a chair in the Peaslee basement; Nathanlie's father Wingate is aghast, and ready to call the police on his own daughter, however, intrigued by the possibility of learning more about his own experiences, the elder Peaslee is cautiously ready to move forward with the interrogation.  With Perry's help, Nathanlie appeals to her grandfather, winning him over to full approval and overriding Wingate's objections for the moment.

[GM's Note: Perry's assistance granted Nathanlie a bonus die when making a Persuade roll to keep her father from calling the police; the below picture shows the results on the dice.]

When "Clarissa" proved uncooperative, Nathanlie calmly began heating a fireplace poker over the boiler, commenting only that in Ireland, tests of fire and water were used on the seemingly-possessed.  She slowly approached the bound "Clarissa," glowing poker at the ready.  Perry wondered what he'd gotten himself into.

And that's where we left off for this session - a lot got done, and I didn't even hit everything here but I covered the important parts.  Most amusingly, I made Kai *fail* a Sanity check to go through with her torture idea - and she used her Sanity Reroll token to ensure she failed.  It was the first time so far this campaign someone used the Sanity Reroll house rule - my rule is that spending $10 or more in-store on the day of game earns one a token to reroll one Sanity Check that session.  It's my way of supporting Just Games in exchange for Matt offering me a place to run games.

Our next campaign session will be June 28th, but before that, this coming Saturday, June 18th, I will be at Just Games Rochester promoting Call of Cthulhu as part of Free RPG Day 2016.  If you're in the area I encourage you to come by!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Time To Harvest Session 3: "The Eye of the Storm"

Session 3 of "A Time to Harvest" took place this week, and it's a bit bittersweet; on the one hand, we completed the first chapter of the campaign and had some exciting things happen to the Investigators; on the other, my girlfriend Gina has decided to leave the campaign, citing the pacing and her own lack of patience.  Her space has been filled by a friend from college who happened to be at the game store the night of the first session and asked about getting into some Cthulhu gaming, earning her first place on a waitlist - something I've never had for a game before.

I've also come to a state of acceptance - GMing is simultaneously exhausting and energizing for me; by the end of a session I'll feel like I'm made of lead, but at the same time my mind will be buzzing, unable to settle down, and having sessions in the evening during the week tends to mean sleepless nights for me afterwards.  I try to keep sessions relatively short and tightly focused because of this, to give myself time to wind down before bed afterwards, but I'm beginning to think I just need to accept that I'm not sleeping and allow myself a can of Dr. Pepper and a Kit-Kat Bar during play.  Most of my players eat, drink and make merry at the gaming table, often putting themselves into a state of sugar rush right as I'm starting to really wear down for the night.  Rather than become weary, headachey and irritable when they're buzzing with excitement (and caffeine), and if I'm not going to get to sleep afterwards anyways, I might as well match their consumption.

 Once again, our Dramatis Personae:
  •  Darren Gray (played by Mike), engineering major and member of the fencing team 
  •  Perry Webster (played by Dan), journalism major, on assignment for the Miskatonic Crier 
  •  Roni (played by Katie), Finnish-born history major and member of the swim team 
  •  Randall Vhloche (played by Sean), geography major 
  •  Oliver Goss (played by Dave), anthropology major

When we last left the Investigators, they had just discovered that Robert Blaine, the expedition leader, was not in the outhouse as expected; their befuddlement was interrupted by Jason Trent, an awkward, shy history student, emerging from the maples behind the cabin, cradling something wrapped in a jacket.  Interrogation revealed it to be a mandrake root, something Trent was familiar with from his studies of witchcraft.  Before they could question him further, Blaine stuck his head out the door of the farmhouse and yelled for them to go back to bed.

In the morning, with the sky still threatening to storm, Perry, Roni, Randall and Oliver decided to forego interviewing locals in favor of going directly to Broken Hill, a locale that serves as a common thread running through many of the stories they'd heard.  Darren, with the digging team, was stuck doing field work until the storm struck, a torrential downpour that sent them scurrying for the truck and a series of tarps to hide under.  With no end to the storm in sight, Darren eventually said, "I have to go," and took off running into the storm, hoping to find his way to Broken Hill.

illustration by Kurt Komoda
Instead, the Investigators eventually managed to get themselves back to town and to Jim's Diner, where they dried off and drank coffee waiting for the storm to pass.  When, in late afternoon, it did finally break, they slowly made their way up to Broken Hill.  Crossing the river, Oliver and Darren noticed an odd, pinkish shape bobbing in the muddy, turbulent water, though it was gone before they could draw anyone else's attention to it.

Once up at Broken Hill, they soon found an Indian burial ground exposed by the heavy rains (though Oliver was adamant the remains were Colonial) and a series of strange, clawed tracks.  Perry followed these tracks into a nearby copse of gnarled oaks, noticing a strange green-blue glow up in the tree.  He climbed the tree to see what was causing the light, and a moment later came crashing to the ground unconscious, covered in a sticky white powder.  Hearing something moving in the trees, the other three pick him up and race back to the car, heading back to town as fast as the treacherous, muddy roads will allow.  They deliver Perry to the doctor in town, and decide to find the rest of the students.

The find the farmhouse empty, and discover the storm has washed out the old garden and revealed a human skeleton buried there; they speculate that it may be Sarah Maclearan, whose own grave was found empty years earlier.  Covering the remains with a tarp, they went on to look for the dig-team, finding the truck abandoned and surrounded by more of the strange tracks, some of which they made plaster casts of.

Meanwhile, Perry revives and, cleaning up, sets out in search of his fellow Investigators, learning first that the doctor believes a vampire may be behind a number of strange things he's seen around town.

The Investigators soon reunite, and decide to take the mystery of the disappearing students to the Sheriff.  They encounter Deputy Cutter, who listens to their story, looks at the track-castings they found, and asks them to wait at the police station while he rouses the Sheriff and "gets him ready to listen to you."

When he arrives, Sheriff Spenser begins to listen to their story before declaring them a bunch of drunks and trying to arrest them - on the advice of Deputy Cutter, who claims not to have seen any such track-castings as they're talking about, calling the Investigators liars as well as drunks.  The Investigators manage to talk their way out of spending a night in jail, by letting the Sheriff know his sister's remains have been found.  After going out and confirming that the bones are Sarah's, Sheriff Spenser asks the Investigators to stay at the farmhouse for the remainder of the night while he makes some phone calls.

Perry explains to his fellow Investigators what he saw in the tree before falling; a pinkish, spidery
Kurt Komoda again, because he draws the
best Mythos critters
creature, its "head" a mass of pulsating, glowing fleshy cones.  The creature pointed something that resembled a gun at him, spraying him with the sticky white powder.  That was the last he remembered until he woke up in the doctor's office.

In the morning, the truck rolls up to the farmhouse, filled with students.  Blaine orders the Investigators to begin packing up, that they'll be returning to Miskatonic early, refusing to explain why.  Shortly thereafter, Professor Harrold, the anthropology professor who organized the trip, arrives, furious at having received a phone call at 2 am from Sheriff Spenser that his students were out of line and running around at all hours of the night.  Listening to the Investigators tell their story, he tells them to just return to Miskatonic, that he will deal with Blaine.

Before leaving Cobb's Corners, the Investigators stop at the newspaper office to have their remaining plaster cast of an alien footprint photographed, and at the doctor's office to learn more about the sticky white powder - to the best of the doctor's limited knowledge of chemistry, he's determined the powder to be a sort of fungal spore.  Armed with this disconcerting knowledge, the Investigators began the drive back to Miskatonic University.

On June 14th, we'll be reconvening to begin Episode 2 of the campaign (unfortunately short a player again, but I couldn't schedule an alternate date that didn't result in someone not being able to make it), and after that, on June 18th, I'm marking Free RPG Day by running "The Space Between," a scenario from the 7th edition book Nameless Horrors, at Just Games Rochester at 4 pm