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

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting these! I'm currently running the campaign via Play by Post, so a lot slower paced than your own and we are only up to this point, despite starting at launch. Awesome images!