Once again we take a stroll down Amnesia Lane back to the mid-1980’s, and this time the game was Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. For those of you that are unfamiliar, CoC is a cosmic survival horror game based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft; it’s a very fun, very deadly game where you’re really just trying to be the last party member to get eaten by the Thing In The Well or go hopelessly insane from contact with Unfathomable Wisdom Man Was Not Meant to Know.
One of the original members of our group was Bob, and Bob was what we now call A Metagamer of Staggering Proportions. Combat skills aren’t really needed in CoC; it was much more of an investigation game, and most of the monsters you couldn’t actually kill anyway. But, Bob just couldn’t bear to make a character who couldn’t fight.
So, for this game, he decides to roll up an assassin – an Australian assassin at that – who had to flee his homeland because he was wanted in connection with several hits on very high-profile targets (which Bob explains in some detail). He was able to escape because his cover was…? A well-respected archaeologist! (This way he could “justify” having high combat and stealth skills in addition to some actually useful investigation skills). And to top it all off, his name was – I swear to God – Jack Hack, and he always dressed in black (I kid you not).
The party is investigating a small traveling carnival that is filled to the brim with cultists to the Outer Gods, mutants, and alien horrors. The old “People Are Missing, Sheriff!” type story. First trip to Lovecraft Fun-Town, they mainly succeed in alerting every cultist within 5 miles that The Heroes Have Arrived with a series of appallingly bad decisions and tactics like something out of Perry Mason, Mob Lawyer. They’re shaking people down, threatening to torture them with our very own Happy Jack leading the way.
After learning absolutely nothing during their daytime expedition, Jack convinces the party to go back that very night after hours and burgle the place…because he has those skills too, of course. And, of course, all of the Evil Guys are having a little prayer meeting trying to decide what they are going to do about the party. The party finds the Evils…all 40 of them…in the big-top tent. How convenient! They have all gathered together in a nice group that (apparently) makes it easier to arrest them? The players rush in filled with Righteous Fury.
The cultists? They attack them. Folks are mutating. PCs are failing Sanity loss checks left and right. The carnival sharpshooter takes out Matt’s journalist character with a shot to the head. Terry’s character gets pulled down by the Fat Lady and The Dog-Faced Boy (who actually has a dog face with working fangs and everything).
Good Old Jack is in Heaven. He’s blasting away, using his personal arsenal in a running gun battle through the grounds in an attempt to “lure the cultists away”. Eventually, the Carnival’s knife-thrower gets him in the back with a lucky shot, but Praise the Lord here come the cops to save the day, right?
Lots of dead people. Lots of eyewitnesses. Lots of guns on poor Dr. Hack. And he’s a foreigner in 1920’s America. He gets arrested. His picture and information get sent to the British Consulate for identification. Whoops! Special Branch has been looking for Smilin’ Jack for some of those high-profile assassinations Bob so enthusiastically told us about.
Extradited. Hanged. No mo’ Jack Hack the Australian Hit Man/Archaeologist!
Thanks for reading. We’ll see ya’ll next time.