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!


  1. Good to know that you are still amongst us Bill and that is a veritable giant of a moggy!

    1. Somehow he seems even bigger when he jumps on the bed at 2 in the morning!

  2. Quite a solid story. Good that my team afraid of getting out of MU act as much polite as possible.