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.  

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