A crime at the river – A weird noir fiction D6 adventure S1E06

Monday morning, April 11th 1921, Arkham 3rd police precinct

Wade is looking at Stanton. “How do you want to approach this?” He asks.
“My gut tells me that the half brother thing is a blatant lie and we’ve spent so much time on it already, but I want to make it certain. I believe father Tillman was on the houseboat for a different reason and he made the story up. Would you fancy another trip down to the registry?” Stan tells his partner.
“Sure, why not? The lady at the front desk has taken a liking to me.” He replies. “What will you spend your morning at?”
“I’ll go down to the lab see if we have any progress. We can meet back here and go to the library together, follow up on Browne’s murder.” Stan proposes.
“Sounds like a plan, don’t forget EBD,
the captain wants a briefing from us.” Wade says and they split up each to their own action.

Q: Has the knife been examined?
A: No, and it’s going to take a while further
Q: Has the black goo been examined?
A: No, and it’s going to take a while further
Q: Are the items undamaged from the fire? (Likely)
A: Yes
Q: How many 1D days until the examination is complete?
A: 4

Stan goes to the lab only to find repairs are still being performed. The officer on duty notifies him that the items have not been processed and it’s going to be at least 4 more days before they are examined. Dismayed, he leaves to find out if Wade had any luck.

Wade: Investigation (4D/M): 3/3: Success
Q: Does he find Benjamin Kingston’s record?
A: False presupposition. The name doesn’t exist.

Not only does Wade not find a record for Benjamin Kingston in Arkham, he convinces the lady in the front desk to check the state records, and no record exists.

Monday noon, April 11th, Arkham Public Library
The detectives talk to the librarian, Oxford Miller. He recognizes Stanton. “Det. Malkowski, good morning. Curious to find you here today. I was just worried about Ms Browne. She didn’t come in to work today.”
“She was found dead.” Stan says cutting him off abruptly.

Stan: Perception opposed (4D/2D): 2-/2+: Success
Q: Does the librarian seem surprised?
A: Yes

The librarian, mouth gaping, stands in silence and Stan continues. “Did anyone meet with her after I left? Did you notice anything?”

Q: Did she meet with anyone?
A: Yes
UNE: fickle vicar
I translate the result to some weird crazy guy.

“Not a meet per se, but a man came into the library shouting muttering and rambling. He seemed to have his clock broken if you know what I mean. He was fixated on her. We kicked him out since he was disturbing the silence.” Mr Miller replies.
“Did he say anything of notice?” Stan asks.

Q: Did he say to her anything in particular?
A: False presupposition

“That wasn’t a speech. More like lunacy making sounds.” He replies.
Stan remembers the bloody knife from Mr Tilton’s crime scene and decides to follow the lead.
“Did he appear to be wounded?”

Q: Did the man appear wounded?
A: False presupposition

“I’m sorry detective, I couldn’t have known about the man’s medical condition apart from his raving mind”. The librarian says.
“Did you notice any particularly odd, putrid smell?” Stan follows further on the crime scene lead.

Q: Did he smell bad?
A: No

“No detective, apart from the odd behavior, the man seemed to be well
kempt.” He replies.
“I see. Let me ask you one more thing. Did and Browne have any next of kin?” Stan asks.

Q: Did she have any next of kin?
A: No

“No, detective. She had no one here that I know of.” Mr Miller says.
“Thank you. Could we take a look at her desk?” Stan asks.

Persuasion: (4D/2D): 1/1: Success

“Of course.” He replies and leads the detectives to Ms Browne’s desk.

Investigate (5D/M): 4+/3: Success
Q: Are there any occult notes?
A: Yes
Q: Are they related to the Enchiridion of Bilamma? (Likely)
A: Yes
Q: Do they explain what the Enchiridion is about?
A: Yes, but it is only a small excerpt on it
Q: Does it say there is a curse?
A: No, and no such notion is made
Q: Does it say anything about a spell?
A: Yes
Q: Is it a summoning spell? (Likely)
A: Yes

The detective finds a note reading. “When in trance, and the words are uttered properly the two minds become one, and it will rise from the depths to serve its master.”

Stan: Sanity check (4D/E): 2/2: Success
Q: Is there also maybe a diary of Ms Browne?
A: No

Having collected all they can, the two detectives mark the note as evidence and return to the precinct.

“So tell me Malkowski, what have you got as of yet?” The captain awaits eagerly for an answer.
“We’ve ruled out some suspects, but occult rituals are involved captain. I don’t know where this will take us.” Stan says.
“Sure. Who did you rule out? Me Browne that’s dead or father Tillman who’s a catholic priest. And now you say the tooth fairy did it?” The captain sounds pissed off.
“For fucks sake Malkowski, you pulled a gun at a priest. I don’t give a rat’s shit if he was in the crime scene.” He continues.

Q: Does Tillman have connections?
A: Yes

“This guy has serious connections. Don’t bother him again, or you bother me. Do you want to bother me Malkowski?” The captain awaits for an answer.
“No sir.” Stan replies.
“Good. Norman, do you have anything on and Browne?” He turns to Wade.
“Just a conflict with a random crazy fella. Nothing concrete.” Wade responds.
“Concrete my ass. Closure. We need closure. If the press gets a whiff of this and connects the murders, there’s going to be a city wide panic and we’re done for. Closure. Dismissed!” He shouts, and the detectives get out of his office while they still can.

Q: Does anything happen in the downtime?
A: No

Stan spends the evening reading the occult tome and thinking about the case. A hypothesis begins to form.

Tuesday morning, April 12th, 1921, Arkham 3rd police precinct

Q: How many 1D days for the completion of the autopsy from the Sunday?
A: 6

“Just got off the phone with that friend of yours, Dr Perry. He says autopsy report will be ready in about 3 more days. Along with forensics process, we can’t do much rather than wait.” Wade informs Stanton.
Stan puts out his cigarette in the ashtray. “Can’t sit on it any longer. Let’s push our luck. I’m going to St. Mark’s”

Q: Does Wade come with? (Unlikely)
A: No

“Sorry Stan. I’ll cover for you, but I’m not going there again while the captain’s got us in his sights. You go after Tillman, you’re on your own.” Wade responds.

St. Mark’s Church

I’m going for closure now. I have set up my hypothesis.

Stan waits for the morning service to finish, and when the priest has retired to his office, he follows there.

Q: Is the priest alone?
A: Yes

Without invitation or a knock, the detective enters the room.
The priest looks at him. “Detective, this is becoming tiresome. It’s bordering harassment. I’ll have a talk with your police captain.” He’s clearly annoyed and doesn’t bother getting off his chair to greet the intruder.
Stan doesn’t reply yet, instead he reveals the Enchiridion of Bilamma and puts it on the desk with a thud.
“I believe you’re looking for this.” He says to him. “See, I know for a fact that Mr Tilton was delving in the dark arts. He didn’t care much about being a devout Christian, and instead he only reached out to you trying to find more connections between religious and occult texts. He and his girlfriend found this book, the Enchiridion of Bilamma, and they followed its instructions to cast a summoning. Mr Tilton would have a great story to write about if he would have first hand experience of the occult. I don’t think you killed him, but all this caused you enough worry to keep tabs on him. When he was found dead, you took the opportunity to search for the unholy book, hence why I found you there.” Stan stops. He lets his revelation sink in to the priest. With this opportunity, he takes out a cigarette, lights it and draws a deep breath.
“See I don’t know the details of his passing, but I would bet he and his loved one tried to perform the summoning described within the unholy book and his brain couldn’t handle it, turning to jelly.
As for and Browne, she’s the reason I’m here father. I don’t give a damn about this tome. It’s yours if you want it. Just tell me, is there a chance that the summoning worked? I don’t believe in mumbo jumbo but I’m shaken. Could something not human have killed her? She had drawn a pentalpha on the floor as part of a ritual. I can’t go to anyone with this without passing off as crazy.”

So now that I have a hypothesis set, I will use a ruleset similar to 6M Root Cause Analysis. This is something I use on my daily job so I have the know how to perform it, but I will need to translate it to the crime investigation rpg rules.
For those following the story since the beginning, you may have noticed that I had a different system written out as my first choice. I decided against using that, as counting points there would be a drag and maybe imbalanced.

Hypothesis: Latimer Tilton perished by his own doing, performing an occult ritual.
Latimer Tilton wasn’t a devout person according to his girlfriend, and he was interested in the occult. The book “We are our end” shows a radical mind.
Man supports the hypothesis.
Evidence found in Latimer Tilton’s houseboat proves that he was in possession of an occult item. The Enchiridion of Bilamma.
Material supports the hypothesis.
Means (Environment)
The signs of struggle in the environment could be from Latimer Tilton’s brain overloading and him thrashing about everything.
Means supports the hypothesis
The autopsy report suggests that Latimer Tilton was killed in a strange manner. Nothing known physical could have killed him.
Measure supports the hypothesis.
Machine (Murder Weapon)
No murder weapon was found. The knife found doesn’t fit the scene, but it didn’t hurt Latimer Tilton as no wounds were found.
Machine doesn’t support the hypothesis but it doesn’t invalidate it either.
A summoning spell described as a blending of two minds could have caused brain damage.
Method supports the hypothesis.

So these give 5 points out of a possible 6. In the future whenever I ask a question that could impact or be impacted by the above hypothesis, I will be consulting a modified Recluse Oracle based on the score as follows.
1: Unlikely, False Presuppositions default to No.
2: Unlikely
3: No modifier
4: No Modifier
5: Likely
6: Likely, False Presuppositions default to Yes.

The score may be adjusted if the hypothesis is impacted by the answers.

Now, to ask the Oracle, based on the hypothesis of a 5 point score.

Q: Does the priest agree to Stan’s hypothesis? (Likely)
A: Yes, but he can’t be certain if Tilton or Browne cast the spell.

Father Tillman’s expression changes at once from hostile, to sociable.
“You trek on a perilous journey detective. I apologize. I couldn’t say anything before. Yes, with some minor issues, what you say is true. Documents like this shouldn’t be in the public library. Who knows how it ended up in there. It’s author, Frederick Salter, disappeared mysteriously in Mesopotamia.” He says as he takes the book, puts it in his desk drawer and locks it up.
“I can’t say for certain if it was Mr Tilton who cast the spell and he died in the process, and if the summoning was indeed performed by him or Ms Browne. I am afraid that there is concern for evil at work here. It would really help if I could see the symbols you described, a pentalpha? But you’ve barred me from going anywhere near police crime scenes.” He continues.
“Come father. We’ve already disobeyed more than a few orders. What’s a few more?” Stan says and Tillman goes along with him.

End of Episode
Since a hypothesis is set for Tilton’s murder, I won’t be counting clues anymore, but from now own, I will be reporting the current hypothesis 6M.
Ms Browne’s crime is partially connected to Tilton’s case so I will not make a separate report for it yet, unless there is cause to do so in the future.

Session Background: A breakthrough finally! I don’t know if I did the best with the case I had at hand, but it felt like this was the point to move forward.
I read again CRGE’s vignette framework recently, and curiously my approach fits, so I must have done something right.
Now we’re moving to endings!
Is there a dark creature from the deep at the loose? Will this new collaboration between Stan and Pierre work? Or did the occult end with Tilton’s failed attempt at spellcasting and Browne was the victim of something else? That would totally destroy my hypothesis.