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Ep 2 - play results

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I ran a 7 hour first session with Ep 2 with some surprising results.  In Ep 1, the players set the Maclearan Farmhouse on fire and burned it down before fleeing with one of the cars back to MU. I started Ep 2 with them returning in the wee early hours of the morning and asked what they would do.  The drive back was decidedly solemn and with some random weeping.  So, they didn't discuss what they were going to do with the 5 hour return drive to MU.  The car was mainly quiet.

After talking in circles, they decided on a story to tell the Arkham police and asked them to send some police to the Maclearan Farmhouse and that Blaine was crazy and had kidnapped the other students.  Chief Detective Luther Harden expressed he was glad the PCs were ok and had them all sign statements and then told them some official of MU told him they would contact the students.  Puzzled, they asked what that was all about and he told them that he was notified about the Farmhouse fire and that people were concerned about their whereabouts.

Upon returning to MU campus, they found a note from the Dean of Students to meet him ASAP.  Whereupon they were given stern warnings about any new miss-step would result in expulsion from MU and that arson, drinking, and stealing a university vehicle were serious charges and that they were under notice until the Vermont police have finished their investigation. I also told them Prof Roger Harrold left immediately for the Maclearan Farmhouse the instant he heard about the arson, to keep the continuity from Ep 1.

After the students returned, the PCs decided to speak with them.  They tried to catch the returning vehicles, but I made them make a group luck roll and they failed, so they found that they got to the University Motor Pool too late, the students had already returned.

At the dorms, I made them make luck rolls to find each brain swapped NPCs.  I used the brain swapped backgrounds as guidelines, but changing accents was a bit much for me, so I made subtle changes to behaviour and speech patterns instead.  I allowed psychology rolls to notice the changes (most of the time the players figured it out anyway, but this allowed the PC confirmation of the changes).  What was fun was that the PCs still haven't figured out it's a brain swap.  They were under the impression that Robert Blaine has done some sort of mass drug induced hypnosis that may have caused some brain damage to the NPCs.  Evidence is the whiskey he kept on trying to get the PCs to drink and the change of behaviour of the NPCs and the lack of knowledge some of the NPCs have shown.

They also noticed the brain swapped Library group and its hostility to their group.  Maybe a group bonding from the field trip and hostility based on the arson allegations?  Pretty funny.

One player got a critical success on researching Prof Albert Wilmarth, so I let him find some of "Whisperer in the Darkness" correspondence between Wilmarth and Henry Akeley that were misfiled and hidden in archived journals written by Wilmarth.  They used this to talk to Wilmarth.  The PCs confided in Wilmarth who took notes to give to Prof Armitage.  The PCs insisted on meeting Armitage, but Wilmarth tactfully told them that Armitage trusted only a few people and Wilmarth was one of them and bringing a whole gang of new faces would not work and subtly hinted that Armitage was highly paranoid.  One PC got an extreme success on persuading Wilmarth to tell her more about what had happened to him in Vermont, so he spilled the beans and told her his experiences in "Whisperer in the Darkness," but also told her that what he experienced was similar to what they experienced, but it was also different, so he didn't know what to make of it.  Maybe Armitage would have some knowledge or suggestions after he gave him his notes on their encounter.  He also told them that Akeley told him the creatures called themselves Mi-Go.  (I wanted to give them a handle on something to research).  I also told them about the brain cylinders, but what's funny is they haven't figured out the brain swapping yet.  They think maybe the NPCs are aliens in disguise with flesh masks as per "Whispered in the Darkness" and that the aliens have perfected the flesh masks over the intervening years.

The PCs conned their way into Blaine's room and wound up tossing all of Blaine's books out an attic window.  Unfortunately, (bad luck roll), and circumstances allowed the police to show up as this was happening.  They got most of the handouts from Blaine's room, but the police are after them and they're under the threat of expulsion, so one of the PCs decided to turn himself in for the burglary and confessed to the arson at the Maclearan Farmhouse.  Wow.  This was so unexpected.  This actually gets the other PCs off the hook.  I've never seen this before.  I tell new CoC players that the PCs wind up either dead or insane.  Now I have to amend the statement to: Dead, Insane, or In Jail.

So, this is as far as we got after a 7 hour session into Ep 2.

I'm loving Ep 2 and so are the players.  I'm going more subtle with the brain swapping differences and it's giving me some interesting and surprising results from the players.

One PC asked Jason Trent about the American Revolution and he had gotten the answer wrong.  They haven't figured out that he's brain swapped, but they think that maybe he's gotten brain damage or he's being controlled or completely replaced by an alien with a flesh mask.

I found that "Plausible Deniability" is working in this game.  Any plausible explanation for any NPC behaviour just seems to muddy the waters and adds doubt and uncertainty.  So, this episode has an incredible atmosphere of paranoia, confusion, and fear.

Three thumbs up from this GM.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Completed 2nd session (4 hrs) of Ep 2, but not done yet.  Current running total for Ep 2: 11 hrs.

They found the geology students and listened (in secret) to their evidence of meteorite strike presented to Prof Learmonth and also spotted the photograph of the meteorite sinkhole as one of the students tried to hide it.  A new PC approached one of the swapped students and was able to verify that that student has no memory of the PC even though she should have and the swapped NPC tried to "fake it."  They're now certain the swapped NPCs are Mi-Go in disguise, trying to fake being human, and are better at it than Prof  Wilmarth's previous experience.

Also one student found Blaine right after he committed "suicide."  Another student saw the front door of Blaine's residence open by itself and another PC (a blind martial artist) actually tried to grab Jarvis (and failed, Jarvis dodged) as he rushed by.

The players are so confused.  One player thinks that Blaine has now transformed himself into an invisible supernatural creature.

One PC took Blaine's suicide gun, tried to hide it, and then returned it to the suicide scene, just in time before the cops showed up.  Almost had to arrest a PC student for murder.

Looks like Ep 2 will  take several more sessions before completion.  They're still in the first week after returning to MU, so another week or so before the swapped start their amnesia drugging and two pronged attack on MU.  Jarvis will start attacking the PC students next session.  I'll probably do the Block phone call and use "On Hangman's Hill" as they're so lost as to what's going on. The good thing is I've already established that the PCs eat on campus as eating off campus is too expensive and they get back together to exchange investigation notes over lunch / dinner in one of the Halls.

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Completed 3rd session (4.5 hrs) of Ep 2, but not done yet.  Current running time for Ep 2: 15.5 hrs.

The players broke into the laboratory and found Handouts 8 & 9 and stole a sample of Pasquallium and lab notes on experiments on Pasquallium.
They broke into Trent's room and found history books and some rude comments written on American History books.  Also a list of book titles and call numbers, but no notes.  This is part of the list of books that they will destroy.  Players looked up some of the books and through library use figured out that these contained strange stories about Cobb's Corner area in VT.  Players remained confused.
The players saw some of the swapped NPCs leave in a car to purchase kerosene and explosives, but didn't follow them since they didn't have a car.  They didn't check the car afterwards, but were very close to doing so.  If they did, they would have found the kerosene and explosives in the trunk.
I decided to use "On Hangman's Hill."   The Players were smart enough to stay hidden, but when Laslow showed up, they were a few rounds away hidden from the PC that was called by Robert Block (I gave bonus dice for hiding the further away they were from the top of the hill, they went for 2 bonus dice, so that was ruled as 3-5 rounds away) .  In the end, one PC got captured (but not the one that Block told the plot to) and the rest got away.  The Goody Fowler story and all the atmospherics worked really well. I could tell they were really scared.  Laslow appearing out of nowhere got one of the players to exclaim that Blaine didn't commit suicide.  An aha moment.
The finale of Ep 2 should happen on the next session.
Edited by morganhua
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Completed Ep 2.  Total time: 20.5 hrs.  4th session took 5 hours.

Players decided to find Wilmarth, but with bad luck rolls, he was not to be found.  So, they decided to ask around to find where he lives among his peers.  Also a failed die roll, so the players decided to push it and failed.  The result was the agent of the Mi-Go gave them the address to "The Safe House."  When they arrived, another car with Jarvis and Osborne inside tried to block their exit.  I started a chase, but got a 99 drive roll for Osborne, they crashed into a tree.  Jarvis got out and Electric Gunned their car as they drove away.

They then returned to MU and looked for Armitage and told him their story and Armitage asked if they were willing to help him save the library.  The players actually defeated the team slated to attack the library.  Armitage survived with 1 hit point after getting hit with an Electric Gun.  The geology team succeeded in abducting Learmonth's brain.

San reward was a bit high:  1d6 + 5d4 San.  1d6 for saving the library, and 5d4 for stopping 5 Mi-Go agents.

Edited by morganhua
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