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Spoiler warning: this post describes my experience with running Star Brothers, so it includes spoilers for that scenario.

I ran the Star Brothers scenario for two different groups of players, both a mix of very experienced players and relative newbies. I changed the scenario a bit: the men in black (MiB) are occultists/monster hunters/investigators of very low sanity who are waging their own violent war against the deep ones (they will kill deep ones and hybrids on sight, as well as any one else who gets in their way).  I made this change to create more options for the players at the end of the scenario. In this variant, the MiB will follow Elsie and/or the players hoping they will lead them to Otis, who they intend to capture or kill. The final standoff will have up to 4 factions involved: investigators, MiB, deep ones, and bootleggers.


Main notes:

-In both sessions, the players adopted Elsie as an extra NPC party member; I tried to avoid overuse of Elsie by having her say that she promised to her father not to get into trouble after the appearance of the Men in Black in town intimidating people, but, given her personality, it was easy for the characters to persuade her to join them.

-the best NPCs by far are Hannah and Otis, very sympathetic in their cookiness. For the scenario to work, it is imperative that they have their moment, so the Keeper should make it easy for the investigators to find and talk with them. I gave Otis a very marked “dreamer” personality, complete with long speeches about inter-planetary friendship. His loneliness also came through. The players loved him, and really felt they had to protect him.

-Both times, the investigators searched for Frye in the city record and in the local basic school archive, assuming that Otis has to be from around Ipswich; I improvised that Otis attended school up to the age of twelve, and that most people no longer remember him or his mum.

-still, players find it somewhat strange that nobody in town knows who Otis is.

-common question asked by the investigators in shops was whether Otis’ accent was local.

-good pre-gen characters. In both sessions, Minny was the standout character.

-one of the groups went to the town hall records searching for abandoned houses in the saltmarsh assuming that was where Otis was. I gave them two addressesthe location of the bootleggers and that of Otis; this worked well, leading to a minor confrontation with the bootleggers;

-one difficulty I found in the scenario was how to create a sense of urgency in finding Otis; to fix this, in the second game, I let one of the store owners mention to the investigators  that he overheard the Men-in-Black talking about “taking care of Frye asap”, and I had the investigators eavesdrop on Hannah, when she receives a visit by a “company man”, ie a hybrid, who tells her that “your son has not been behaving, and we will have to deal with it very soon”..

All in all, everybody had fun with the scenario, but it is sometimes difficult to justify the actions of the MIBs and of the Deep Ones; for instances, why do they take so much time to find Otis? in my game, I assumed the MiB were too psychologically unstable to effectively carry out a methodical investigation in town (and thus preferred shadowing the investigators and Elsie); and that the Deep Ones (inc. hybrids) wetr afraid of making things worse by being too conspicuous, and so they only searched through the salt marsh (ie, not in town), and only at night (which slowed down their efforts).



Edited by Nyorlandothep
Misspelled title
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Thanks for the write-up!

On 10/20/2019 at 5:05 PM, Nyorlandothep said:

for instances, why do they take so much time to find Otis?

In my game we're only 1 session in, and it will probably take another 2 sessions (my players are always careful, which makes things slow, and I tend to GM everything without many ellipses, so it takes time)... but so far the way I justify this is that Otis is now pretty much done walking around town buying equipment, and is spending all his time in his hideout in the salt marshes. So by the time the MIBs got together to search for him, he was already gone (neither his mom nor people in town know where he is at this point). They started searching the marsh by themselves but they ran into the bootleggers, which creates additional problems and risks... so that's why they haven't found Otis yet.

While they leave the marsh and bootleggers to the Deep Ones, the hybrids are staking out Otis' mom's house (in the hope that he comes back once to get something like clothes, food, whatever), and are trying to get to Elsie (since she might know where Otis is). But after the MIBs spooked the staff at the Inquirer, Elsie's father and editor in chief ordered her to stay hidden at home for a while, so all the MIBs can do is keep an eye on her house. That's where the MIBs took notice of the PCs, as they visited her, and they figured that the PCs might lead them to Otis instead. Things will probably get more complicated, as Elsie will probably slip out of her father's over-reaching helicopter-parenting, and either get in trouble, catch up with the PCs, or maybe even save them by showing up at the right time when they're in trouble.

Edited by lordabdul

Ludovic aka Lordabdul -- read and listen to  The God Learners , the Gloranthan podcast, newsletter, & blog !

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 1: The Star Brothers

In my game, they finished in one session (3 hrs). They went from Gore Hardware to Ipswitch Inquirer to Elsie Caldwell's home. Then they went straight to Otis's Home. They then figured Otis's mom was cracked, but they waited for Otis to return home from the Marsh-lab. This all happened in one day, so the MiB never caught up with the PCs. Once Otis showed up, they got Otis to take the PCs to see his Neptune Transmitter. In the marsh, they ran into Click and Hogue and offerred to buy several jugs of moonshine and showed that they weren't competitors. Otis continued to broadcast and one of the marsh flares illuminated the transmitter. The moon men showed up and Otis decided to go with them willingly and so did Archie (pre-gen, who I decided was the hidden hybrid, the two other PCs went into hiding). But Archie wasn't completely hybridized, so part-way into the swim, Archie had to abandon Otis and the other two Deep Ones who continued to swim deeper and out to sea.

I definitely went heavy on a x-files overlay on top of the scenario. The MiB were definitely on people's mind and tongues and that pushed up the paranoia. The lights in the sky and all the Sci Fi books that Otis had also set the atmosphere and instead of the standard Deep One pictures, I used Grey Aliens. (also note the hotel is called Gray House Hotel). One of the PCs, Cornelius Summers has a Deep One skull as a treasured item, I used a picture of a Grey Alien skull for his treasured item.

Here are some of the pictures that I used (actually, not the May Weird Tales, it was a bit too spoilery, but included here for your pleasure):


Grey Alien skull.jpg






Otis Machine.jpg

Edited by morganhua
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Chapter 2: Inheritance

My group also finished this in one 3 hr session. I used a lot of pictures of people with the innsmouth look for the NPCs. That really pushed up the creepiness factor. I also used lots of run down city photos to show how Innsmouth was rundown. PCs took no precautions when Charlie Grace read the special letter. So, the lurking NPCs heard the whole thing. To give the PCs a hint, I gave them a Spot Hidden roll when they left the Conservatory. One PC got a hard success, so I let him see the door to the library close. They immediately figured out they were listened in on, so they rushed to their car and sped to the Bank. In retrospect, I should have used the Chase Mechanic instead of the Drive mechanic in the module, in any case, the PCs arrived at the bank first, but got locked in the basement behind the two sets of barred doors (unknown to the PCs). The Alchemist did show up and Archie took the deal. When they tried to exit and found the barred doors locked, The Alchemist unlocked the doors for them with magic. Just as the last barred door was opened, two hybrids with rifles showed up, thinking it was going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. A fight ensued, but all 3 PCs were knocked unconscious (and The Alchemist escaped after shriveling one of the hybrids, the hybrid fumbled his save, so I turned his head into a shrunken head.) The PCs woke up in the caves with all their weapons and belongings taken. They explored a bit, found Charlie's body and the pools, and finally ran into Chastity Nolanne, but got lucky and smacked her several times in the head with a rock and then fled the tunnels, walked back to Ipswich and took the train home.

I also tied Chapter 1 to 2. In chapter 1, Archie saw the grocery crates from the First National Grocery of Innsmouth in the Frye's kitchen. In Innsmouth, they saw the store and tried to question the workers there about Hannah Frye, but got nowhere (failed social skill rolls).

First National Grocery.jpg




Charlie Grace - Lawyer.jpg

Edward Nolanne - Lawyer - Favorite Son.jpg

Wilma Martin - oldest daughter.jpg

Wilma Driver.jpg

August Nolanne - 3rd son, oldest male heir.jpg

Horatio Smythe - Bank Manager.jpg

Chastity Nolanne - Wilmas Twin Sister.jpg

Nolanne Cousins.jpg

Edited by morganhua
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A question to "official Chaosium" people: how far off reservation can I go in running this? My group photographed the coin Elsie had. I am thinking that Cleaver will likely send the photo to an expert for identification. Now that seems to provide a wonderful lead in to the "Lightless Beacon" scenario - yes I would have to change the dates, but can I do this?


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In The Star Brothers, with the Men In Black and Neptunian transmitter and the strange lights, I ended up changing it to aliens as morganhua did. I also changed the location to Michigan, since I know the area well. It was all very X-Files in tone. The scenario went pretty much as written. Otis ended up being taken away by the police. I found that the investigators (with the help of the bootleggers) made short work of the "Star Brothers" (Deep Ones- I didn't change their stats), since the party were all armed with shotguns and tommy guns.

One of my players made this afterward. There are lots of references to the player character group.



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I ran "The Lightless Beacon" after "The Star Brothers" because there was a nice connection to the "alien" gold. Again, I changed the Deep Ones to aliens. The Younglings became Hopkinsville Goblins.

One of the players thought to check on the generator building, so they avoided a blackout. They went to the top of the light just as I wanted them to, and the session ended with a survival-horror type shootout with the Goblins climbing up. The group survived, though, and now have even more gold coins!

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I ran Part 2, The Inheritance, for my group. I added a whole section with the investigators arriving the day before the will reading and having to stay at the Gilman House hotel, with the expected sneaking around and attempts on them by the deep ones, etc. I'm glad I did, because even with an hour or so of that, we still finished the will reading, interacting with the family, the chase, the bank, Chastity, and the getaway, all within our planned 4 hour window.

Does anyone else feel like the scenario as written is a little thin? A little short?

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We ran ours in under four hours, but that was because after they fought with Chastity in the bank vault and came out through the caves, I had them sneak around and find their way back to the hotel with brawls and then a car fight to get out of town. Really depends on how your party rolls, I guess.

Made up a cool prop - one of my fellows, the hybrid, took it home.

heh, heh... can't wait to torture him in future eps about whether he's a full hybrid or one of the ten percent who's not gonna change - but he was keen on getting the tattoo, until one of the other investigators chopped off Folde's arm with a machete.

Yeah. Surprised me too!



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Chapter 1: The Star Brothers

Here's my quick play report on chapter 1, which we finally finished this week. I hope it helps!

Day 1

The PCs started by doing a bit of library research on Ipswich to get an idea of what the town is like. They got some basic geographical and historical facts, including information on the salt marshes. Since the Ipswich Inquirer mentioned gold coins, one of the journalists also decided to get some basic superficial knowledge about coins from the past few centuries. They didn't want to sleep in Ipswich however, "just in case", so they got hotel rooms in Salem. The clerk at the hotel, with whom they chatted about their destination for the day, told them in unsubtle innuendoes that Ipswich was a good place to get some cheap booze, which was a good way to make them aware of the bootleggers there.

In Ipswich they went to the newspaper and got the basic story on Elsie and how the MiB came to intimidate the staff. From there they went to the Caldwell family home and after a tense face-to-face with Elsie's authoritative father, he accepted Elsie to talk to them. Besides giving a few more details about all the stuff the PCs already knew, she showed them one of the gold coins that Otis paid with -- it didn't look like anything the journalist character had seen in his quick coin history 101. She also revealed that Otis had mentioned that his mother was living on Little Neck Road, which goes out east of Ipswich.

Coming out of the Caldwell's home, they realized that an MiB is inspecting their car from outside -- the MiBs, who wanted to talk to Elsie, had been observing her house for the past couple days, and got curious about these visitors. The MiB immediately ran (awkwardly) away to a black car, which drove quickly out in the night.

Day 2

The next day they talked to the sheriff, who was reluctant in giving them more information -- he would prefer this whole story to go away naturally, instead of having people making things worse. But the players managed to get some very good rolls so the sheriff eventually comes around and agrees to share at least a few notes with them. The PCs spend the rest of the day doing some shopping to prepare for a potential hike through the marsh, and waste a bit more time coming up with plans, enough that it's time once again to drive back to Salem. On the way there, they realize they're followed by a similar black car to the one they saw earlier. They stop at a diner to see if the car stops too, which it does, a bit further away. The PCs decide to confront those MiB -- they get their first good look at them, and get threatened to drop the whole thing. "Many people disappear in the marshes all the time, you know", they get told.

Day 3

The next day, they do some research on disappearances around Ipswich county, and talk to the sheriff about it. He confides that, with criminals using the marsh to hide illegal activities, it's no wonder that yes, there's a bit more disappearances here than elsewhere in the state. Of course, he complains about the lack of resources and budget for law enforcement.

The PCs then go to Little Neck Road to try and find Otis' mother. After asking a few people living there in rundown houses, they managed to find the correct house. Upon arrival, they notice the MiB's car parked in front, and they spy on the last few bits of the conversation between the MiBs and Hannah. Later, once the MiBs are gone, they get to talk to her and notice the fake pictures in the living room. They also get a good idea of Otis' personality based on the magazines and posters in his room. When they mention the gold coins, the mother gets upset and immediately goes to check for something in her room. She comes back saddened, saying that the coins were a gift from Otis' father, which she kept as it reminded her of the day she met him and fell in love. She asks the PCs to leave, but not before indicating to them the direction Otis usually takes when he goes into the marsh.

As they go into the marsh they run into George Fenton who happens to live nearby and knows the marsh fairly well. They interrogate him, asking if he's seen Otis -- which he has, since he regularly walks by back and forth. To cut things short a bit, after the PCs asked him if there would be a place in the marsh where Otis could have setup a lab, I had George mention an old ruin about an hour's walk away, which might fit the bill. He gives them directions, explaining how it requires going a bit off trail. Luckily, the players made their orientation rolls: I made them roll a hard Luck roll at this point to see if any of them were from "around here", and one of the players succeeds. That gave him bonuses for the rolls to not get lost in the marsh, as he remembered coming here regularly to visit his grand-mother when he was a kid. Of course, that was really a way to figure out who the "tagged" player might be for Chapter 2.

Final showdown

They arrive to Otis' lab in the late afternoon, as they had planned to immediately hike back with Otis before sun down. Too bad for them, upon arriving, they get ambushed by the 2 bootleggers, Eddy and Jimmy. They thought the PCs might be competing criminals responsible for their friend Aaron's disappearance. After things got cleared, the bootleggers still ask them at gun point to get in the house and find out who's living there. One of the PCs goes in the basement and find Otis swimming there, getting a glimpse of his rather strange physique. Some arguments start, as the bootleggers disagree about what to do about the whole situation. It of course gets more complicated when they learn that Otis has some gold. This all gets interrupted when the MiBs arrive. Them and the PCs and bootleggers yell various intimidating words at each other from either side of the door, the bootleggers having agreed to ally temporarily with the PCs against this new threat. Otis suddenly says that he has an idea, and turns on his machine -- "My star brothers will come save us!".

Of course, what comes a bit later are the spooky marsh lights, and, soon after, big creepy swamp creatures. The PCs had seen a way out of the house from the side, through some rubble and into the mud, but they got scared about being chased in the marsh by the MiBs. Now they realized they should definitely have done that, because the creatures are scary as hell. While a couple PCs go temporarily insane, one of the bootleggers gets super lucky with a rifle shot critical success against a creature. Things immediately go downhill as 2 other creatures swarm the house, kill one of the bootleggers, and get everybody (the other bootlegger, Otis, and the PCs) to run down to the basement -- but not before a PC gets a lucky swing at the creature with an oil lamp.

An MiB comes back for some negotiation with the group gathered in the basement. He's saying that they only want Otis, but that the creatures want the one who killed one of their own. If they give them both, the rest can live. Otis is having a nervous breakdown, realizing that it wasn't "star brothers" who answered the call of his machine. He starts mumbling that the water is where he's from, and starts undressing to swim around the basement. The surviving bootlegger (at the time played by a guest player!) realizes that Otis was the one who called the creatures, and decides to kill him. The other PCs try to stop him and both him and Otis die in the cross fire. The MiB demands to know what's going on, and they reply they had to kill the bootlegger who had turned against them. They hide Otis' body underwater and claim that he swam away through a passageway in the basement wall -- critical success in Fast Talk!

A creature pushes the MiB away, and comes halfway down the stairs. It looks around, grunts, sniffs a bit a the "tagged" character, and goes back up (I should have made it grab the bootlegger's body, maybe). It says a few words to the MiB who replies "Really? Huh" and then leave after a tip of his hat and a "I guess I'll see you later, cousin" to the characters (they don't know exactly who he was talking to).

Aftermath & Comments

In the aftermath, the PCs go to the police to report the deaths of the bootleggers and Otis, and decide to publish the story mostly unedited... although I'm still waiting on the players to give me the exact story.

There! It was quite fun to run, with a lot of elements to play with. A lot of things could have gone either way, and it was easy to tinker with timing and events thanks to the great sandbox of locales, characters, and factions. Even the experience CoC player wasn't really sure what to think about who the MiBs were until the end.



Edited by lordabdul
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Ludovic aka Lordabdul -- read and listen to  The God Learners , the Gloranthan podcast, newsletter, & blog !

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/21/2019 at 4:41 PM, David Howard said:

I ran Part 2, The Inheritance, for my group. I added a whole section with the investigators arriving the day before the will reading and having to stay at the Gilman House hotel, with the expected sneaking around and attempts on them by the deep ones, etc. I'm glad I did, because even with an hour or so of that, we still finished the will reading, interacting with the family, the chase, the bank, Chastity, and the getaway, all within our planned 4 hour window.

Does anyone else feel like the scenario as written is a little thin? A little short?

I think it is long enough if you allow the investigators to arrive the evening before the reading of the will to get a taste of good old Innsmouth. There are two problems with that. First, you need to be able to describe Innsmouth, but I guess that is a question of re-reading The Shadow over Innsmouth for inspiration  and making stuff up a bit when you don’t know (I do not believe there needs to be a “canonical” Innsmouth, and although Escape from Innsmouth is great, re-reading it all is too much effort to stage a 4h scenario). The other - and bigger - problem is that there is some potencial for the scenario to be completely derailed - as it almost happened in my first run of it (which I posted), because Innsmouth is filled with dangers for nosy investigators but that still means you can improvise a lot of interesting stuff.

Edited by Nyorlandhotep
Typos, Clarity
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  • 3 months later...

My group finished Star Brothers this week. Thumbs up. This is the kickoff to a mini-Innsmouth campaign for a group that are mostly new to Call of Cthulhu and some new to RPGs in general. I think we spent 8 or 9 hours on this scenario over two and a half sessions with a homemade team of Photographer, Occultist, Engineer, and a retired Cop to watch over them, on assignment for Fantastic News magazine.

We had an abridged version of the Freak Show scenario as a prologue, the news team stopping off to get some photos of carnival freaks that the magazine would surely buy. They were unable to prevent the MIBs from rescuing / kidnapping / absconding with the baby Deep One in the circus.

Later remembering (via a flashback to their assignment from their editor, Eli) that they were on the clock, they found their way up to Ipswich, and immediately sought out Gore's Hardware, and from there a brief montage of interviews with local shopkeepers where they heard more about gold, MIBs, and the idea that Otis is usually seen walking out to the east side of town somewhere.

The group checked into the hotel. With nothing to fill their evening, they decided to check out the east end / outskirts of town. Having no particular preference myself, I had made up a chart of the homes out there and let the player driving roll to see what house they stopped at. The choices were the 4 homes with NPCs and clues, an empty house, or the one with an irate, shotgun-wielding homeowner. Of course they rolled the last one. 

At the sight of a car full of people pulling up to his house after dark, banging on his front door, the homeowner came out waving a gun and yelling for them to leave his family alone. The occultist pulled his gun to her own head and said "do it!" You may tell me I'm too kind, but I let the cop react to try to slap the gun away. The homeowner fired and she only lost an ear, her hearing, some points in APP, Listen, Stealth, etc. The engineer, hoping to prevent a bloodbath, tried to grab a gun away from the photographer who was raring to return fire. He rolled 100 and everyone rolled luck to see who was getting hit. Turns out, the guy trying to prevent more violence ended up murdering the homeowner himself. This provoked bouts of madness in two of them, and their first combat experience was against one another. Session one ended with the two crazed investigators subdued.

Session two began with them, to my surprise, not interested in hiding the body. There was a real player conundrum at this point though. The team had not yet seen anything particularly engrossing / otherworldly in the town, a man was dead, and the cop wants to do things by the book. He wants to report the incident, the others want to not go to jail, and while the players want to continue, they struggled to find reasons why the characters would look the other way on this when all that's at stake is interviewing a local nutcase. 

The investigator least covered in blood sneaks back into the hotel, gets caught by a chatty front desk man who wants to be his buddy, takes their newspaper preferences, breakfast order, etc. It comes to pass that they get no wakeup call or breakfast because the daytime guy didn't show that morning. I made the dead man a hotel employee AND the father of the missing bootlegger, but I'm not sure if they connected all the dots there. 

The next morning, after some madnesses have cleared up, they called Eli for a pep talk. I enjoyed playing Eli. I looked up a bunch of 'news of the weird' headlines from the 20s and 30s and whenever someone calls him, he's always finishing a conversation with someone about one of them. He propped them up, but I think we all felt it was a touch unconvincing. Maybe good enough for an old movie where the leads fall in love just because they're in a movie. The cop called Deputy Dingby in Arkham to give them a heads up on how they'd been involved in killing a man in self defense. (Dingby: "Oh man, you too? Powell just killed a guy in 'self defense' too. His eighth this year.") I planned for the police to come around to question them the next morning, since they'd have their hands full at the crime scene full of strange and unhelpful evidence from the scuffle. 

From there, the group returns to the scene of the crime. They drive past and see police, Elsie taking notes, a grieving widow being consoled on the porch, etc. The cop goes to the local PD and makes friends with the desk Lt., and gets an address on Hannah.  Some PCs meet Hannah while others scout around the property for Otis' spaceship. For some reason, the group never wants to say they're reporters, they always stop to come up with some extra lies. A kind of sketch takes place with someone new knocking on the door every time Hannah pours herself some tea. She shows everyone around, finds them very charming, shows them all her pictures. One PC stays on her for the rest of the night, talking meatloaf recipes and asking her if she's ever had anything strange happen to her and so on ("One time I swapped baskets at the general store with Mrs. Brock. I didn't even notice until I got to the counter!") 

Two PCs drive back into town, the engineer goes to the newspaper, the cop back to the PD. The guy who went to the paper is playing up his nerd character who has massive engineering skills and no points in anything social, and was unable to convince Titcomb or anyone else  of his credentials. Just then, Elsie bursts in with her write up of the grisly murder, introduces herself, and starts interviewing the PC who can't seem to get a conversation started on his own. She shows him the Innsmouth Gold, which I happen to have a nice prop for. The Player tells everyone that she must be out of info at this point and I look over the huge spread full of clues she would be willing to offer up. Unlike an above poster, my players don't care about her at all so the cop swings by in the car and they leave her behind. Back to the others at Hannah's. Hannah sees the coin. 'Say, where did you get one of those? I have a whole jar of those!' End of session.

At the start of the next session, Hannah gets her cookie jar down from the cupboard and finds it very much lighter than she thought.  Some PCs distract her with questions about her family photos while another steals the remaining gold. The photographer PC wants to head back to town with the gold, but stops in to charm Hannah once more for good measure. 03. As he leaves she tells the other PCs about her good friend the photographer and shows them some pictures he's taken of Otis that she has had framed.

Photographer hits the scrapyard, says he's here to pickup some stuff Otis ordered, flashes the gold. I move Douglas Jenkins over there and he's happy to pull some junk down for the money and talk about what he knows. They drive back to the outskirts area, Jenkins talking about how bad he feels for Mrs. Brock, losing her son and now her husband. 

Back at the house, one PC catches Otis sneaking in the back to get some things from his room. By the time the photographer is driving back to meet up with the group, he encounters Otis and 2 PCs walking along the road, Otis pulling his wagon of junk. They all follow him to his hideout. The MIBs are tossing their hotel room at this time, but by and large the investigators did not engage with the MIBs whenever they managed to notice them. I think it's a little bit to do with being new and perhaps just considering them to be like cut-scenes in a video game. I tried luring them into a car chase but they didn't bite. I'd also planned for anyone conducting a stakeout in town to provoke the cops and the engineer going to town to draw Elsie's attention ("Hey! Where's my coin?") but since that player couldn't make the last session, his investigator stayed at Hannah's house, and every now and then we'd cut back to him fixing her appliances or something, well out of harm's way.

The trio see Otis' house, and his machine, and don't have an engineer to tell them if any of it is real, but they're impressed when it turns on. Hours later, two fall asleep and the third is pulling pranks on them when they notice the bog lights are coming. The noises of the swamp get louder, and then cease. Flares arc out over the clearing. The photographer makes a critical spot hidden and notices not only the gills on Otis but on the things coming out of the reeds, and starts snapping pictures. Watching the moment the penny dropped on them as he shouted to the others that Otis was some kind of "fish boy," the term they'd been using for the baby DO at the circus, was a lot of fun.

The cop freaks out and starts shooting. The group kills one hybrid and wounds another before a couple of proper deep ones put them on the ground. Otis is ecstatic with the results of his machine. I can see the value of having him get scared, but it seemed like letting him go with mania was more inconvenient to the players. The hybrids smash the photographer's camera, take the remaining gold away from him, and say threatening things. Then I had a moment not unlike LordAbdul described, of a hybrid conferring with the deep one holding down the cop, then making an unusual hand gesture to him and a little nod as the flares burn out and the monsters all slip away. 

This makes it very convenient that the damage roll when the cop got hit just happened to be minimum.  I knew since it was an Innsmouth campaign that there was a good chance someone was going to have something unusual in their family tree, but I didn't make any decisions up front about the details of that. However, I have been providing them with portraits of the NPCs they meet, and during the Freak Show segment the cop happened to bump into Jacob Marsh very briefly, and when he saw the picture he said "Hey, he looks like me!"  

And so he does...


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  • 4 weeks later...

I just wrapped up running The Star Brothers for a group of friends who are newer to Call of Cthulhu (they've played maybe a half-dozen scenarios). They tend to take things slow, and didn't disappoint here, spreading out the campaign over three sessions of 2-3 hours each.

The first session, they tracked down Elsie and interviewed her, particularly focused on the strange lights in the sky over the marsh. They then canvassed the local hardware stores, fascinated by the gold coins. Their interviews suggested the same Men in Black who had accosted the Ipswich Inquirer had either traded for the coins or shaken down each shop owner and so there weren any left, but the group finally lucked out when they went to Burnham's Optical and Lens Grinding Service, where the Men in Black had not yet made an appearance, and were able to obtain a coin (I skipped Elsie having one). I also went the "ramping it up" route of the paranoid shopkeeper at Millard's Chemical Supply. One of the two investigators there (they'd split into two groups of two to canvas the stores) kept pushing on the paranoia til Millard drew the shotgun and ordered them to leave. That investigator decided to try to shoplift on his way out, but failed his Sleight of Hand roll and Millard fired on him. The police were called and took that investigator to the hospital; after some basic medical treatment, he managed to Stealth out of the hospital to rejoin the rest of the party.

That night, the party all sat out to watch for strange lights over the marsh, and when they emerged, tried to hunt them down. I had them stumble across the bootleggers, who proved friendly if jumpy, and traded conversation about the missing Aaron Brock.

In the second session, the group obtained Hannah Frye's name from Lawrence and Elizabeth Frye via the phonebook. Again splitting the party, one group stayed in town and had a run-in with the Men in Black, while the other two went out to canvas houses on the road to Innsmouth in search of Hannah Frye. While I introduced several of the "Out by the Salt Marshes" characters, the investigators moved on quickly from any door that Hannah Frye herself didn't answer, asking only if the owner knew her. When they finally did reach Hannah Frye, they interviewed her and things followed perfectly from what the module provided. After tea and an extended conversation, she invited the two back for dinner that evening.

As the investigators left the property, one decided to search the backyard for signs of Otis or anything strange. The other went back to speak to Hannah again as a diversion, and I had Hannah reintroduce herself as if she had never met him before. This helped ramp up the eeriness around this already batty character.

In the third session, the two PCs in town--who had interacted with the Men in Black--went to a bank and opened a safe deposit box. They didn't put anything in it, but made a show of it in hopes that the Men in Black trailing them would think they'd stored the special gold coins the MiB were after. They then met up with the two PCs who had met Hannah Frye, and all four went out to the Frye residence for dinner. After a series of awkward conversations with Hannah, she showed the PCs Otis's room, while one PC remained on the ground floor to search for anything strange. I let him discover a small pile of pale gold coins tucked underneath the mattress in a spare bedroom. Then Otis showed up to bid his mother good-bye. The PCs followed him out to his Trans-Neptunion Telephonic Communicator while he spilled his story, but to my surprise, they decided he must be a red herring since he clearly wasn't from Neptune. After Otis fired up the device--at about dusk--they started to turn back toward Hannah's residence, but on a whim decided to explore the dilapidated house. I kept them busy there for a little while, including catching a glint of something sparkling in the flooded basement, until I thought it was dark enough that I could justify the lights in the sky coalescing around the location. I also borrowed from Howard & Eunice Blake's story and had them see car headlights just a little ways off flashing in a strange pattern, then go dark.

In the final confrontation, I pitted my four PCs against 3 MiBs and 4 Deep Ones, but that proved overwhelming. They went through a few rounds of combat, wherein one PC got clever and started tossing the gold coins he'd found in hopes of luring the Deep Ones to chase after them--I let it work on one. The PCs quickly pivoted to a focus on wounding and capturing one of the MiB for interrogation, and that focus ultimately allowed the Deep Ones to make off with Otis.

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