A crime at the river – A weird noir fiction D6 adventure S1E02

I just realized (as a player) that I never asked who called in the crime!
A crucial part of the timeline and a potential witness!

“Who found the corpse?” Stan asks Wade as they drive back.
“Huh?” Wade’s daydreaming is cut short.
“Latimer! Who found him?” Stan repeats, somewhat annoyed at his partner.
Wade brings out his notepad.

I turned to donjon here and rolled 1d10 on the list of NPCs.

“An Emily Browne. She was pretty shaken. Couldn’t get a word of her. She’s to come to the precinct for a statement tomorrow morning.”
“Who took her initial statement?” Stan asks.
“Some uni, rookie. She didn’t say anything. That’s why I told her to come tomorrow. She needs to calm down a bit.” Wade explains.

The detectives return to the precinct to fill in their paperwork for the day, and head home when their shift is over.

Q: Does anything of importance occur during the downtime?
A: No but, it will be likely for the next such roll tomorrow.


April 6th 1921, Arkham 3rd Precinct
Found out that this datr corresponds to Wednesday.

Wednesday morning

Emily Browne is sitting in a chair across the room. She has a narrow face, bobbed blond hair and sharp gray eyes. She wears a basque dress and a red scarf.
“Need some coffee Miss?” Wade asks. “Tea? To calm your nerves?”
“My nerves are just fine detective. Coffee and tea can’t erase what I saw from my memory.” She snaps.
Stan and Wade exchange looks ‘someone still has a mood’ they think.
“Mind answering a few questions then?” Stan interjects.
“I’m here Mr Policeman, ain’t I?” She mocks.
“Alright. Did you know the victim?” Stan continues.

Q: Does she say she knows him?
A: Yes, and, they had an affair

“If I knew him? I loved the poor bastard. My Latimer was one of a kind. Oh that kind of his. What a spirit! I could go hours just talking to him. But now he’s gone and you’re nowhere near his killer, otherwise you wouldn’t be pestering me.” She expresses herself.
“You have a unique way of expressing your sorrow Ms Browne. If you don’t mind me asking. How did you and Mr Tilton become acquainted?” Stan presses.

I’m using GMA and get beguile superstition. Also donjon had given an occultist as occupation for Emily, so I can use that.

She looks Stan in the eye. “Latimer wantef am expert on the occult for his next book. He came to the library were I work and started asking about my favorite topics. I still remember the spark on his face when I showed him to the occult section.”
“I thought Mr Tilton was a devout catholic.” Wade doubts her statement.

Perception (Opposed): 1-/3: Fail. Can’t tell if she’s hiding something, and she’s aware of how the detectives are noticing her body language.
Q: Was Latimer devout according to Emily?
A: No, and he wasn’t even baptized.

Emily bursts in laughter. “Latimer? Devout Christian? He wasn’t even baptized! You haven’t even bothered to read his book, have you? If you did, you’d know better.”
‘Someone’s lying’ Stan thinks.
“And what were his beliefs Ms Browne?” Wade asks annoyed by her laughter.
“Pfft. Read his book. Show him at least this courtesy.” She scoffs.
“Ms Browne, it is you who called the police. What happened? When did you find him like that? Or was he alive and you witnessed his murder as you say?” Stan changes the subject.

Persuasion (Opposed): 2/2: Success
Q: According to Emily was Latimer alive when she found him?
A: No, but the body was still warm

Emily takes a deep breath. “Yesterday morning I came to his houseboat. I was calling but no one answered. I entered the mess to find a swarm of rats on top of him.” Her voice breaks. “I screamed and kicked them away. Tried to find a pulse but couldn’t, even though his body was still warm. I ran and called for help.” She cries.
“We were just together last evening. He sent me to my home as he wanted to work on his book.” She sobs.
Stan offers her a handkerchief. “Thank you miss Browne. We have enough to go on.”
“Just find out who did it!” She cried as she is escorted outside.

As soon as he is outside, the detectives discuss the case. “Who’s lying? The girl or the priest?” Wade wonders out loud.
“Or the deceased.” Stan adds. “I’d like to talk to the congregation, but it’s a few days until Sunday.”
“Right. Let’s go check riverside again. Maybe someone saw or heard something.” Wade proposes.
They drive off back to where the houseboat is.


Noon, Wednesday, April 6th 1921, Arkham Riverside

For the weather I will use GMA elements, I get air. It’s windy.

The wind is blowing down the riverside, ripping at the detectives faces.

Q: Are there other boats near Tilton’s houseboat?
A: No
Stanton will also make a Moderate investigation roll to see if there is possibility for someone to have seen something.
Investigation: 2/3: Fail
So nothing there. Last chance, are there any houses nearby?
Q: Are there houses nearby?
A: Yes, but they seem abandoned.
Nada, nothing. Wow even when biased, sometimes there is nothing there.

They look at the empty pier and the abandoned buildings and don’t even bother to knock.
Wade turns to Stan. “Hey, the chief doesn’t pay us to fool around. Let’s head back. Drop me off at the registry office. I’ll check if there is a baptism certificate for Tilton.”
Stan nods. “I’ll go to the morgue. See if there is any progress on the autopsy.”


Arkham morgue

Q: Is autopsy complete?
A: Yes.
Q: Is the coroner good at his job?
A: Yes, and he’s the best in Arkham
I decide that the particular autopsy has a Very Difficult TN, due to the rat bites all over.
Coroner: 6D (among the best in the city): 6+/5: Success and he found something more.

The coroner takes a good look at the detective entering the morgue and then returns his attention to the paperwork on top of his desk. The sign on the desk reads ‘Dr. Solomon Perry.’
He has short gray hair and gray eyes, and is wearing a white robe.
“Haven’t finished my report yet Malkowski.” He says without lifting his gaze.
“Come on Dr. I know you are intrigued. You can’t sit on such a case for long. Give me what you’ve got.” Stan presses.

Persuasion (E): 3+/2: Success and he will be extra informative

Doctor Solomon Perry smiles. “Mr. Latimer Tilton, right?”.

To determine the cause of death, I will draw a GMA card and use all the sensual attributes as a portent. Have no idea how limited or randomizing this may be. So I draw:
Wet, meaty thump
Blood stains
Deep throbbing headache
Damp wretched air

“Never seen anything like it before. It’s as if his brain imploded. The ear drums are burst, and the brain a big bloody mess.” The coroner says.
“So, some sort of stroke?” Stan asks.
“More like the opposite. Weird thing is I couldn’t find any concussion to the head. No blunt force trauma. Maybe whoever killed him made a concurrent palm strike to both his ears. I’ve heard of wrestlers that can do such feats. Never heard of someone dying of it though.” The coroner explains.
“So it’s homicide then.” Stan concludes.
“It certainly isn’t natural causes or suicide.” The doctor raises an eyebrow. “Also I found this“.

Q: In the ear? (Likely)
A: No, but elsewhere on the head…in the nose!
Q: Is it black goo? (Likely)
A: Yes

He lifts a capped vial with a black oily goo-like substance. Similar to what Stanton had found in the crime scene. “His nose was clogged by this stuff.”
“What is it?” Stan asks.
“No idea.” He shrugs. “But it smells like shit. I will send it later to the chemistry lab for identification. See if they can make out what it is.”
Stanton lights a cigarette. He takes a deep puff. “Thank you doctor.” He says and leaves the morgue.


End of the episode.
I have the following clues so far.

  • Bloody knife
  • Signs of struggle
  • Black goo
  • Rat bites
  • Imploded brain
  • Burst ear drums

Victim, Latimer Tilton

  • Author, bestseller
  • Catholic, priest Pierre Tillman
  • Financial differences with editor Joseph Verner
  • Affair, Emily Browne
  • Atheist, not baptized

Threads

  • Next of kin
  • Editor – Financial differences
  • Church – Ask fellow members
  • Riverside

Session Background: What a plot twist! Just when I thought I had a hypothesis, there are contradicting witnesses.
I really like how everything is not certain. I expected to have found someone in the riverside to ask what happened (even biased the questions to the Oracle), but it was a definite no.
I just hope this randomness doesn’t turn to bite me in the back, if the plot won’t add up in the end.
So many possible threads now. Is Latimer a victim of an occult spell? Did Emily do it? Did the priest? Is he the victim of a brawny wrestler or a creature of the deep? Unfortunately there is a small metagaming aspect here. I know that the occult is possible, while my protagonist yet doesn’t. That doesn’t mean of course that there are unnatural forces at work here, it’s just a possibility that shouldn’t be player knowledge.