A crime at the river – A weird noir fiction D6 adventure S1E05

I will be using GMA sensory descriptions to use for scene description further. If something doesn’t fit at all, I will disregard it. I draw four cards.
Shuffling Steps
Thick Fog
A burst of frost and ice
Burning Candles
Q: Was Ms Browne’s body found at home?
A: Yes, but -> Yes
Q: Did a neighbor call it in?
A: Yes, but not next door, the next building is across the street
Q: When did it happen? 10 + 1D = 1: last night eleven o’clock

They get off the car in a quiet district of Arkham. A police officer in uniform is standing outside a house. They greet each other.
“Welcome boys” the officer says. “Around eleven last night, Marie Whitlaw, the elderly lady across the street saw suspicious movements in Ms Browne’s residence. We came to investigate and found her dead.”
“Thank you officer” Stan says and they enter the house.

Investigation: Crime Scene (6D): 4.
4 Basic Clue Questions can be answered through the Oracle.
Q: Are there similarities between the murders?
A: Yes, and there is more of the black goo stuff.
Q: Are there signs of struggle?
A: No
Q: Are there signs of forced entry?
A: Yes
Q: Is there any obvious wound?
A: Yes, but it not certainly the cause of death
I roll for hit location and get: 3: Torso
Q: Is it a slash?
A: No
Q: Is it a piercing wound?
A: No, but there is bleeding

Stan looks around. Ms Browne lies dead, face sideways in her living room. There are no signs of struggle, but the door lock has been violated. There is blood on her blouse near her torso. Again, the detective finds black goo, near the door lock. Wade looks at him curiously.
“Some stinking stuff, I found at Mr Tilton’s. Still waiting on the lab.” Stan tells him.
“Did you guys have to break in to enter?” Stan asks the officer.

Q: Did the police break down the door?
A: Yes, but it was already damaged and stuck.

“We did, but it seemed already broken, lock damaged and handle wouldn’t budge.” The officer responds.

Stan: Search for blade: (4D/M): 1-/3: Failure

Stan looks around to see if he can find a blade or similar weapon, but he can’t find anything.

Since I had ‘burning candles’, I ask.
Q: Is there anything occult? (Likely)
A: Yes

Stan notices around the living room, five black candles situated in even distances, on top of dark chalk lines forming a circle and a pentalpha. In the middle of it all is the body of Ms Browne. At one end, the candle has been turned over and the chalk wiped off as if someone dragged himself through it, from the outside in.
“Did you boys disturb the candles?” Stan asks the officer.

Q: Did they disturb the candles?
A: Police officer: Investigate skill: 3D/3: 2/2: Success

“We’re trained detective, not to disturb the scene of a crime unless he really have to.” The officer answers.
“I think we’re done here.” Stan finishes examining the crime scene. “Let’s go talk to the neighbor” He says to Wade.


Marie is an elderly lady with a round face, thin gray hair and green eyes.

UNE:
Mood: Sociable
Knowning, Speech
Focus: Enemy

The detectives are sitting comfortably in Mrs Whitlaw’s couch. She has already offered them tea and biscuits.
“Mrs Whitlaw, what can you recall about last night?” Wade asks politely, happy he had the chance to fill his stomach with something, empty since the dawn.
“I was readying myself to go to sleep. It was a very quiet evening, when I heard a strange sound. Shuffling steps, really unnerving. I went to the window to see if there was anything there.”

Q: Did she see anything there?
A: No

“But the street lamp was off, and there was darkness. To top it, there was this strange thick fog. Way thicker than what we’re used to here.” She tells the detectives.
“So, if I may. What made you call the police?” Wade asks.
“When I went to the window, I saw lights over at Ms Browne’s across. Then for a moment, there was a flicker of darkness, before the lights went on again. Between those flickers, I’m certain that I saw figures moving behind the curtains. I was really scared officers. I’m so glad you came, but so sad that my fears had basis. Poor Ms Browne.” She adds.
Stan asks if she ever saw a man matching Mr Tilton’s description with Ms Browne.

Q: Did she see Mr Tilton with Ms Browne?
A: False presupposition

“What do you take me for detective? A gossiping old hag? I don’t go about other people’s business. Especially spoiling a dead persons memory! I was really uneasy yesterday. That’s why I called you. And I was right. Make sure you catch whoever did it. We were safe here until now.”
Stan politely apologizes and they conclude their investigation and excuse themselves.

Q: Do the detectives know where is father Tillman’s church? (Likely)
A: Yes, and it’s nearby


Generating a second crime scene was really taxing in this point of the game. It took me two plays to finish these few paragraphs.
Thankfully I have many more clues to go on, and it doesn’t seem to derail the story from the main crime.
Next time though I will think twice before introducing a second crime scene to the same adventure.
This gave me the opportunity to work a few rules on how to present a crime scene in the adventure in a more standardized manner. I may be putting these to writing soon.


Sunday morning, April 10th, 1921, St. Mark’s Church

Q: Are there a lot of people in the congregation?
A: Yes, and it’s so many, the seats are not enough and some are standing.
Sneak: 4D/3D: 2/2: Success

The two police detectives mingle in the crowd to the back of the church, passing unnoticed.

Let’s see if Stan notices anything odd about the service. He’s not a very religious type so I he will need an Easy Knowledge roll to identify very obvious non Christian items, and a Moderate one to see if there are more subtle hints and differences.
Knowledge: 3D: 3! He has a moderate success.
Q: Does the sermon and service sound as expected?
A: Yes
Q: Does father Tillman make any reference to Mr Tilton?
A: Yes, but not by name.

The service proceeds normally. Stan wasn’t ever religious, but he’s been to a communion or two, and he doesn’t see or hear anything odd.
At the end, father Tillman makes a short reference to a member of their congregation who passed untimely, and how these are dark times and people should be at alarm.

“Can you keep him occupied? I’d like to take a look in his office. Doubt we’d ever get a warrant for this.” Stan says to Wade.
“Are you sure Stan? If the captai gets a whiff of this you’ll be benched.” Wade says worried.
“Let’s hope he won’t find out.” Stan replies and the two detectives split.

Wade will use Perception to keep father Tillman occupied.
Perception (3D): 2: Success, Complication
I draw GMA for the complication. Enslave Physical Companion.
I decide that inspite of being kept busy, the priest is certain that Stan is with Wade and will send his 1D=3 subordinates after him. If caught they will attempt to subdue him.

Wade approaches father Tillman. At the moment they make eye contact, the priest whispers something to a church boy next to him and immediately three men in the service of the church start pushing through the crowd, looking for Stan.

Stan: Sneak Opposed (4D/3D): 4+/3-, they suffered a Complication.

Stan, manages to mingle among the crowd and avoid being in the sight of his pursuers, hiding behind pillars whenever possible.
The three men start shouting and pushing, causing a ruckus and panicking part of the crowd who are furious and start a quarrel with them, giving Stan enough time to avoid them and also to search the back rooms as they are occupied now.


Q: Is the door to the priest’s office locked?
A: No
Stan will search for occult items. Very Easy success for items in plain sight, Easy for items in the room but not hidden, Moderate for hidden items and Difficult for concealed and hidden.
Stan: Search (4D): 2 successes
Q: Does Stan find anything occult?
A: False Presupposition
Not only does he not find occult items, there are none to be found. Only holy scriptures and relics.

Stan has made his way to the father Tillman’s office in the back rooms of St. Mark’s church. The door wasn’t locked and he looks around for anything with connections to the occult. The more he searches, the more holy books, crucifixes, relics, rosaries and bibles he finds. Not only does the priest have no connection to the occult, it is apparent that he is a devout member of the church.
Empty handed, Stan returns to save Wade.

Stan, Sneak out, opposed.
Sneak (4D/3D): 3/2: Success

Stan manages to return to the main church hall undetected.


The instant that Stan joins with Tillman and the blustering Wade, the three pursuers encircle the detectives.
“Detective Malkowski.” Father Tillman says. “Your partner Mr Norman here was just swearing that you weren’t here with him.”
“You must excuse him. Sometimes he’s overzealous.” Stan replies.
“Find what you were looking for?” The priest asks.
“No, I was meaning to ask you about Mr Kingston’s residence. We would like to have a talk with him.” Stan responds.

Here I made a mistake and went on with the conversation. A few lines of dialogue later I realized that the priest wouldn’t be so willing to talk. Least I could do was trace back the point and ask the question. So here goes the correct version.
Q: Is the priest willing to disclose the information?
A: No

“I’m sorry detective I have to tend to my flock. You’ll excuse me.” He says and turns his back. The detective doesn’t have a chance to say anything more and the three men around them, block their path to the priest, quite rudely.
The detectives leave, to talk to the believers outside, maybe they’ll have something to share.

Investigation: (5D): 5+: 5 Clues and something extra.
Q1: Does Tillman have alibi?
A: Yes, there was an all-nighter service last night.
Q2: Was Mr Tilton a regular member of the church?
A: No
Q3: Is Tillman liked by his flock?
A: Yes
Q4: Is Mr Kingston known to the congregation?
A: False Presupposition
Not only was Mr Kingston not known to the church members, they never heard that Mr Tilton had a brother.
Q5: Is father Tillman a long time in St. Mark’s?
A: No
Intervention: 2: Entity Positive: Who?: Stanton
I paused here for the night because I was tired and couldn’t think of anything, and I was so right!
In the morning I saw to it with a fresh new approach, and decided that a religious lady gave Stanton a blessed crucifix for protection as thanks for looking after Mr Tilton’s death.

The detectives manage to gather a lot of statements from the flock. Father Tillman has an alibi for last night, as he was in the church doing a night service. Father Tillman is a fresh addition to the St Mark’s, but he is well liked and devout. Mr Tilton wasn’t a regular member, and no one has heard about him having any sort of brother.
As the detectives present their occupation to a young woman, she removes a small silver crucifix in a chain from her neck and puts it in Stan’s hands. “Thank you for your service detective. To protect you from whoever hurt Mr Tilton.” She smiles and leaves.


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

Latimer Tilton

  • Bloody knife (pending lab results)
  • Signs of struggle
  • Black goo (pending lab results)
  • Rat bites (caused post mortem)
  • Imploded brain (cause of death)
  • Burst ear drums

Emily Browne

  • Torso wound (pending autopsy)
  • Black goo (pending lab results)
  • Occult ritual drawings

Victim, Latimer Tilton

  • Author, bestseller
  • ~~Catholic~~, priest Pierre Tillman, attended church rarely
  • Financial differences with editor Joseph Verner
  • Affair, Emily Browne
  • Not baptized, Missing date of baptism, Minister known, Fake certificate
  • Half brother, Benjamin Kingston, no one knows him

Victim, Emily Browne

  • Librarian, Occultist
  • Affair, Latimer Tilton

All names have been randomly generated by donjon.


Session Background: The investigation seems to reach some initial conclusions. I believe that the autopsy of Ms Browne and forensics evidence on the bloody knife and the black goo are what is needed to close up.
I was really tired these past few days and I had trouble getting inspired to answer questions. Also I realized the importance of switching gears as the investigation progresses. Similar to how CRGE does it. It begins with to knowledge, proceeds with to conflict and ends with to endings. I might have to take a closer look at it. It feels wrong to mix these up in the story as it goes.
Nevertheless, one way or another this seems to work out so far, and traps have been avoided.
So it seems that Ms Browne was involved in some occult rituals. Did Latimer summon something with her help? Was the ritual a protection spell? Is it maybe a curse related to the tome?
The priest seems at the clear, but he could be involved. Is he trying to hunt down the evil? Is he after the tome? Did he murder maybe Tilton or Browne because of their occult involvements? Unfortunately he and the detective aren’t at the best terms and it will be hard to interrogate him.