Portlantic City: Session one rundown, part 1

I worked my ass off on this campaign & didn’t even stack the courts to steal an election, please clap.

We completed our first official session of the Portlantic City Call of Cthulhu game Sunday.

I have a handful of issues, technical and storytelling, that I’m going to be working on before our next session — 1.5, a case wrapup and mini adventure — in March.

Overall, I think we managed it. So, our adventure went like this…

Marc Dresden knows an extraterrestrial Sasquatch when he sees one, trust him

The group — Virgil, Keto, Yasha, Knuckie, and Jenkins — met at the Emerald and Partners office mid-morning to go over the case details with a rather ruffled & pretentious middle-aged, fanny-pack wearing pseudoacademic called Dr. Marc Dresden.

I KNOW YOUR BOSS, PLEBS!

Dresden ran through his case file, which included his own ‘sketches,’ articles clipped from the Portlantic City Review, and snippets from his ‘bestselling’ books.

He got exasperated at one point because he didn’t think the crowd was giving him the attention or respect he was due. He took umbrage to being asked how much he was paying as he is a friend of the firm and had worked all that out with Mr. Emerald in advance. Besides, the opportunity he was throwing on the laps of these utter incompetents… Pfft!

Once the group was caught up, Dresden could no longer hold in his disdain. He stalked outside to vent his frustration by yelling at the top of his lungs in the back of his sweet ride, a converted ice cream truck.

This gave Mallory a chance to check in on the group. The overall consensus was that they would investigate the situation at Bannock’s Lookout despite Dresden’s eccentricities.

The group then left to start the investigation.

Maybe free candy though…

Once on the street a strange feeling came over Virgil. It seemed that he could hear a song on the breeze and it sounded like: “It’s time to fly, sweet, sweet pickleman.” Though he wasn’t sure if the weird ass song was just part of the city noise or part of the old laudanum shakes.

OK, but HD would be rolling up in this…

After Virgil’s possible hallucination came to a close, the group was confronted with Dresden roughly yelling “Get in!” As they faced the giant maniacal clown on the side of his ice cream truck.

Keto then slapped Virgil on the back. “Get the car, you’re driving.” Virgil did as he was told.

Yasha, Knuckie, and Jenkins got in the back of the ice cream truck. Dresden drove okay but they got jostled around a bit — no seats. Though Jenkins was no doubt searching for a clue to crack the case and ramble about insufferably in his pocket recorder — when he investigated the back of the truck, he found a sticky, foul smelling substance that he tried to rub on Yasha.

Yasha noticed and threatened to break his arm. He then pretended he was stretching like the utter chad he is.

Eventually, the group made it to Bannock’s lookout and poured out of the vehicles into a dreary, rain-soaked parking lot.

Deerts and other things that live in and poop on Mother Earth

Virgil kicked off the investigation by attempting to give driving pointers to Dresden, who paid no attention and instead bolted off into the woods mumbling something about radiation and trampled grass.

Even wildlife accustomed to high strangeness has a nope point.

The group struck out on their own, looking for clues but mostly failing rolls. They completely missed checking out the sign post even though their Keeper tried to gently push them towards it a couple of times.

If Knuckie or another investigator with high occult skill had tried to read the symbols on the shredded page attached to the signpost they would have discovered they were on the trail to “The Church of the Reconfiguration.”

Instead, they noticed an entirely normal looking owl, a group of ducks that didn’t look so normal, and prints belonging to deer and squirrels and other skittery creatures.

The group wandered for awhile and ultimately found a set of human-sized footprints in the mud — with no ‘tripod drag’ between them thanks, Dr. Dresden. The footprints lead them up a steep hill to an arch of felled pines that offers a sweeping view the beautiful vista below.

“It looks perfect. The whole group takes a collective sign of relief, their emotions overpowered by the sheer, shining beauty of the green valley below.
“Then, from the deep azure distance of the sky, a crack of gray pixelated noise shoots down. It shimmers through the entire scene, casting deep shadows in the hollows of it until it resolves. For a moment the scene has a strange, ethereal glow that fades until they are again looking at a beautiful untouched valley below.”

The investigators, noticing that the universe had apparently glitched rolled a sanity check. Several players lost a couple of sanity points and were visibly shaken by the occurrence.

The group then picked up rocks, sticks and started rolling for “natural world” and “spot hidden.” After watching a rock soar a few feet down the trail and then blink out of existence, the group was able to divine another trail in the underbrush.

The trail led them around the original route, through a thick tangle of brush, and to a staircase that descends down a steep cliff face.

Once on the stairs, they were able to look back toward the original trail and instead saw an illusory shimmering hill unmarred by the trail or the pine arch.

Stairway to, er, hell?

Virgil, cautious after watching his first rock disappear, lead by throwing rocks down the staircase to make sure it’s sturdy — it was. Though sturdy it’s also narrow and made of crumbling limestone.

The dress code in hell undoubtedly comes from Portugal, The Man videos.

Yet, investigations hint that the structure is old beyond their fathoming and was perhaps wider at some point based on the uneven, cracked edges.

The group carefully made their way down the stairwell to a landing approximately double the size of the stairs.

In the cliff face before them was a wide doorway open to a small room made of heavily-carved granite slabs. All around on the walls — as discerned by Knuckie — are scenes of alien life, tentacled creatures devouring stars and planets, noodly appendages cradling entire solar systems, etc.

Above is a dynamic ceiling that appeared to be painted in some three-dimensional method to make it look as if blinking stars and galaxies moved overhead.

Virgil made the mistake of poking the ceiling with a stick.

As far as the group knew, he simply blinked out of existence. But Virgil felt himself flying through an endless inky void lit only by the distant dying gasps of faraway stars. He could feel every atom of his body being pulled in every direction as he hurtled mercilessly toward a formless cloud that manifested a large, sharp-toothed mouth that ultimately swallowed him whole.

Virgil woke in a dark chamber stinking of damp and dung, intact aside from the trivial loss of a few sanity points. Terrified and alone, he reached the stick out again and tapped to see if he could find where or when he was.

In the carved antechamber, the group heard a strange tapping coming from the west wall and started throwing investigative rolls.

Eventually they find a trigger that reveals a hidden stone door. The door slowly opens into a tiny, dark and moldy chamber, and the group meets with Virgil’s wild, tormented eyes.

TO BE CONTINUED…

This post is exceedingly long so I’m going to cut it off here and I’ll post the rest of the rundown *hopefully* within a couple of days.

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