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Let's Play: Lovecraft - 'The Terror in the Crags' (Complete)

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by grotsnik, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Because root's 40k CYOA just looked like too much fun to pass up on. Sorry for stealing your idea, root. Doubt this'll be half as good - and the pace will definitely be much slower. This is also my ingenious plan to do an LP without actually having to muck about with screenshots.

    The tale's set in 1890; I fully anticipate (nay, demand) people pointing out the various glaring historical inaccuracies. Changed the title. Was shit and not Lovecraftian enough.



    *

    You have dwelt in the strangest of places. You have roamed the slumbering, nameless cities of marble, and fled from the phantom shapes that crept from below. You have ridden through faerie woods with a host of shadows crying your name in ecstasy.

    And, at the heart of all of this, in the deepest and the least human of your dreams, you come to the Circle-Point; the Meeting-Place. That great hallway of a thousand spiralling corridors and alien facades, symmetrical from an infinite-number of perspectives, where the Stone Man cries,

    “Glory to the sons and daughters of the Waking! Joy to they who possess the daybreak!”

    *

    [​IMG]

    A sharp patter of the rain against the window. You open your eyes, and once again you’re leaning against the shadowy, panelled wall of Miskatonic University’s Reading Room, the grey paintings of former Masters staring down at you.

    The room is beginning to fill. Surprising, perhaps, on such a wet and gloomy Sunday night; but then a lecture with the lurid, teasing title of ‘Wondrous Omens: The Eldritch and Secret Hieroglyphics of Bastet and the Ancient Deities’, as well as the widespread rumours that the notorious occultist James Hurley had a very important announcement to make, was always going to attract the attention of a certain sort of person.

    At the entrance, the elderly Dean is greeting guests as they trail through. Some of them are students, others middle-aged women who giggle with excitement and trepidation.

    One visitor, a younger girl, stands out; dressed all in Paris scarlet, with her black hair let loose – the sort of wild beauty that is rarely seen in a nightmare city like Arkham. As the Dean takes her hand, she leans in and whispers something to him that makes him blush. You take note of the large, intricately etched golden ring on the wedding-finger of her left hand.

    Near the fireplace, you catch sight of the noted industrialist Whipple V. Phillips, standing alone, smoking on one of his favourite cigars. The famous man, greyer and slightly leaner than his photographs in the newspapers suggested, looks ill-at-ease amongst this crowd of academics. He catches your eye and dips his head in a short bow.

    In the middle of the hubbub, the speaker himself, Professor James Hurley, white-haired and bespectacled, is struggling with the projector, quietly ignoring the occasional student who comes up to ramble praise at him. His Turkish assistant Salman stands sullenly behind him and plucks at his beard, doing nothing.

    *

    First things first – who are you?

    A: A fellow professor at Miskatonic, of course, and Hurley’s colleague in matters of the eldritch and strange archaeology which he’ll be discussing today. Distrusted by many of the faculty, together you have spent years studying the Necronomicon, the Book of Ebon and the other peculiar works that tell of the creatures that dwelt on this earth before mankind.

    B: An English gentleman, aristocrat, scoundrel and adventurer; subsisting on your father’s sizeable inheritance, you have travelled the world, moustache forever a-twirl and sword-stick forever in your hand. Having provided Hurley with several rare archaeological finds over the years, it was perhaps fitting that the old man should invite you to his university when he announced the results of your discoveries.

    C: Just a poor country girl, and the niece of kindly Uncle James; you have stayed with him in Arkham ever since the untimely death of your mother. Being a well-respected, church-going lady, you don’t delve a great deal into his work, which is considered thoroughly blasphemous by many of your friends. But Uncle James is so nice – and he’s promised you that you may accompany him on his next expedition. You’re almost certain nothing unpleasant will happen to you involving tentacles.

    D: An Inspector of the Massachusetts constabulary, you arrived here this morning in order to question Professor Hurley about certain disappearances from amongst his staff over the past six months; and instead you were greeted with a wave of the old man’s hand and a curt reply of,
    “It can wait until after the lecture.”
    Now it appears you’ll have to sit through an hour or more of academic mumbo-jumbo. Fortunately, you’re a patient man, and you can use the time to study Hurley more closely; already, to your wily gaze, something about the man just doesn’t ring true.

    E: You were a cowboy once; then an oil prospector. Now, as you approach old age, your money’s in stock, but you boast that you’re still as tough and as grizzled as the day you first shot an Indian brave dead for stealing your cattle. Your revolver, oiled daily, rests inside your jacket. Professor Hurley, you can only assume, invited you here to try and get some money out of you – the same reason, presumably, that your longtime rival Whipple V. Phillips is attending.


    And now that we’ve figured that out; what do you do?


    A: Make the acquaintance of the mysterious woman in crimson.

    B: Go and speak to Whipple.

    C: Help Hurley with the projector.

    D: Sneak quietly over to the drinks buffet and help yourself. Fuck talking to people.
     
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  2. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    Re: Let's Play: Lovecraft - 'Lamentations in Scarlet'

    A: A fellow professor at Miskatonic, of course, and Hurley’s colleague in matters of the eldritch and strange archaeology which he’ll be discussing today. Distrusted by many of the faculty, together you have spent years studying the Necronomicon, the Book of Ebon and the other peculiar works that tell of the creatures that dwelt on this earth before mankind.


    A: Make the acquaintance of the mysterious woman in crimson.
     
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  3. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    C: a poor country girl.

    A: nothing like a chat with a fellow lady.
     
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  4. Cenobyte Tacticular Staff

    Cenobyte
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    B: English Gentleman

    A: Make the acquaintance of the mysterious woman in crimson.
     
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  5. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
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    C
    The LP must feature some rape.

    A: Make the acquaintance of the mysterious woman in crimson.
     
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  6. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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    AD of course, after all it's possibly the most codexian choice.
     
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  7. praetor Arcane

    praetor
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    A: professors are underrated

    A: RAEP!
     
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  8. JoKa Cipher

    JoKa
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    is this bizarro codex again?

    B: we're distinguished gentlemen, of course
    A: our search for trannies must never stop...
     
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  9. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
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    Pretty country girl FFS! RAPE!!! :x
     
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  10. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    So at the moment 'nerdy scholar' is narrowly beating 'British gent' and 'I want to pretend I'm a woman, nothing weird about that'! Splendid.

    I'll wait for a bit before it becomes a settled thing, but at the moment, we're a fusty professor about to try and make the acquaintance of the mysterious woman in red.

    (Incidentally, I'm no history expert, but I'm pretty sure the Victorian equivalent of 'rape' was 'taking a woman's hat off when she isn't looking.' So don't get your hopes up too high, you lovably sick puppies, you.)
     
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  11. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    This FFS! Moar votes pliz!!!
     
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  12. SerratedBiz Arcane

    SerratedBiz
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    That's why god gave Cthulhu tentacles.
     
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  13. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Nervously patting down your tangle of cobwebbed hair and slapping your palms against your trousers in a desperate attempt to remove any traces of sweat, you step forward towards the gorgeous woman in scarlet, stretch out your hand, and say,

    “Gzzhzhmmpblm.”

    She turns her eyes towards you, and a dazzling smile darts across those plum-dark lips.

    “Good God,” she says, loudly, and with obvious delight, in a pronounced Southern accent. A few elderly faculty members turn, frowning, at such impropriety. “Good God, can it really be you? And to think I was just reading your paper on Indonesian Cthulu worshippers on the train this morning.”

    A black glove slips away; and suddenly her hand is being pressed firmly yet tenderly into yours.
    “Your examination, sir,” she hisses, “of the phallocentric subconscious in primitive tribal groups was masterful. Simply masterful.”
    Her raven hair brushes against your cheek as she laughs, and you suddenly become very aware that it’s a long time since you’ve been with any woman – yet alone one as beautiful as this. Something shifts in your trouser region. You try to surreptitiously shift your lower body backwards.

    “My name is Jezebel Kline,” she tells you, with a little smile, “but you must call me Jess, or Jessica. I have little time, sir, for Biblical allusions.”
    You try and respond with something terribly witty but it comes out as,
    “Flrrrmmgdrmmm.”
    Somewhat to your relief, you hear the Proctor asking everyone to take their seats, and you accompany Miss Kline to a couple of chairs. The Dean goes around putting out the gas lanterns.

    And James begins his lecture, introducing himself, and then you, to light smatterings of applause. He outlines your research and the ongoing study of the hieroglyphics found in certain peasant burial chambers on the lower reaches of the Nile river.
    Then, with a quiet nod from James to Salman, the first slide flickers up onto the darkened wall of the Reading Room.
    A murmur of excitement – or, perhaps, fear. The weird and twisted symbols of Nyarlothotep have forever caused such reactions in the unlearned. Something, you have speculated, in the precise arrangement of lines and curves, all of which, although harmless in themselves, conspire together to create a symbol that causes primal, subconscious terror in mankind. This, after all, was how the dark god’s priests kept His sacred places sacred.
    You glance nervously across to Miss Kline. Her eyes are bright and glinting in the darkness.
    “This photograph,” James says, “was taken three years ago when my esteemed colleague and I travelled to the ruins of Alexandria. And this photograph – the next slide, please, Salman - this photograph was taken four months ago ago in Massachusetts, not a hundred miles from where we are now.”

    A couple of gasps. Someone begins to clap, involuntarily, and quickly stops.
    Shock rises in you. You lean forward.
    A grainy photograph, perhaps taken hurriedly, in bad light. Peaty soil half-scraped from the edge of crumbling grey stone. And, etched into the side, unmistakably – Nyarlothotepian pictographs.
    Your lips move, silently, as you try to make out the meaning.

    My guilt...my guilt...weight of the heavens...my guilt is the breadth of the gods themselves...my dread...my dread is...

    “I’m sorry, Hurley,” says the Dean, polishing at his glasses. “You said these were found...in Massachusetts?”
    James smiles, wryly. You know that smile well. It’s the smile he uses when he feels he’s having to go more slowly than he’d like for the benefit of idiots.
    “On the coast to the north of Arkham,” he says, “there is a town by the name of Dynhill. A gloomy place. Its main landmarks are an old manor-house, previously the property of a local landowner of some notoriety, a fort, abandoned after the Civil War, which was never used, and, buried in the cliffs below, an outcrop of wild furze that the Indians used to claim was holy. It was here, ladies and gentlemen, that Salman and I uncovered these hieroglyphics, unmistakably the work of a Nyarlothotepian follower from the age of Ancient Egypt.”

    Doctor William Anderson, of Harvard, raises a hand briefly to snap,
    “Sir, there are deranged believers enough in Nyarlothotep even in America today. Even some fools who claim they see this god walking amongst us. I fail to understand why-”
    James silences him with a hand. With his other hand, he fumbles at his jacket pocket.
    “I have with me,” he says, and he produces a thin vial, which he raises to the room. Straining your eyes, you just about make out a dark, scarlet powder within. “I have with me a sample of the red dye used in the pictographs. Miskatonic’s chemists have, I can assure you, verified that it is incredibly old – as old as Man himself, in fact.”
    He allows himself a little triumphant smirk.

    “Unfortunately,” he continues, “before I was allowed to conduct further excavation, I was chased away from the site by some of the locals. It...seems that the land which contains the Indian ruins belonged to the landowner, and after his death it passed to the township itself. These rascals, unfortunately, have proven most persistent in preventing my studies from being carried out...and, indeed, when they guessed that I was desperate to be allowed access to the cliffs, they told me that I would have to buy the land from them. For an...exorbitant amount of money. I have haggled and my solicitors have bargained...but all to no avail.”

    His expression changes; it becomes wheedling, and his entire posture takes on a subservient air. He’s overdoing it, you think.
    “Mr Whipple V. Phillips,” James says, stretching out his arms, “Miss Jezebel Kline, and the University itself have all provided me with most generous donations towards the excavation. But it isn’t enough; I need more funding. Should it be forthcoming, my esteemed colleague, Miss Kline, Mr Phillips and I, accompanied by a team of workers, plan to head for Dynhill and begin searching for more signs of Nyarlothotepian worship in the area."

    “Madames et messieurs, I beg your forgiveness for, uh, begging for your aid in such a crude manner. The truth is that I am desperate. Desperate for the scientific discovery of our age, the uncovering of a prehistoric temple to an Eastern god, here in America, to be made. Desperate that Miskatonic University and the City of Arkham should be the toast of the entire world. I thank you.”

    As the applause echoes through the room, the audience rising to their feet, you rise too, snatching at his arm, snapping,
    “Dammit, James - why didn’t you tell me about any of this? Why couldn't you just have let me know what you were up to?”
    Your old friend shakes off your grasp, meeting your gaze only for a moment, and mutters,
    “No time...I'll explain everything to you later.”
     
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  14. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    You’ve been drinking for some time.

    You sit back at your desk, staring out of the tiny window of your Arkham lodgings, and try to think. Your old mastiff, Rufus, places his head in your lap and begins to slobber.

    [​IMG]

    Part of you wants to carry on drinking. Another part of you wants to go and yell at James for keeping you out of the loop like this. He made enough money from the audience to fund his little expedition; you could see it from the way he smirked as he shook hands one last time and left the room.

    But there’s another sensation, something from deep inside you...

    Sleep, it says.

    Every night when you dream, you travel a little further into the formless halls of the Meeting-Place; every night the cloaked Watchers become more distinct. Besides that otherworld, that dream-land, reality seems dull and colourless. You long to return there, every time you wake; and every time you wake the thirst is stronger than before.

    What do you do?

    A: Go out into town, find a public house, and drink some more.

    B: Hammer at James' door and confront him about not mentioning the Dynhill pictographs to you.

    C: Stay at home and try to read up on Nyarlothotep cults outside of Egypt.

    D: Go out into town, and wander aimlessly; savour the Arkham air.

    E: Sleep.

    (Note - though it may not seem that way, each of these does have a direction to them.)
     
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  15. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
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    your future if you're not careful...
    B

    Who the hell does he think he is, keeping me us out of the loop? We're the fucking Codex!
     
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  16. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
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    This. Also, if we die a gruesome death, its because you fags didn't choose the tits.
     
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  17. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    B: Hammer at James' door and confront him about not mentioning the Dynhill pictographs to you.
     
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  18. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    You fool. No amount of tits can save you now.
     
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  19. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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  20. Chef_Hathaway King of the Juice Patron White Knight

    Chef_Hathaway
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  21. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    B it is!

    *

    It’s later than you thought. A bitter-looking Scottish landlady makes you wait in the hall while she ‘wakes Professor Hurley’.
    You perch on an uncomfortable wicker chair in the hallway and try to sober up.

    "We've 'ad bad sorts here recently," she hisses darkly at you as she returns. "Old women poking round at night. Couple of break-ins down our street. Pays to be careful, Professor."

    After a few minutes James comes out. He’s wearing his dressing-gown but doesn’t look irritated at having been woken. He was expecting you, you think. He knew you’d come.

    “Stephen,” he says. “For God’s sake, come on in. I’ve had a fire going all evening.”
    With superhuman focus, you successfully follow him into his study without stumbling, and take an armchair by the flickering hearth.
    James pours a couple of glasses of brandy from the sideboard.
    On any normal night, you’d simply ignore your old friend’s eclectic ornaments. But the alcohol and your own tiredness have made you twitchy, and so you turn your head to avoid the peculiar statue of Baphomet over the fireplace.
    “You’re angry with me,” James says. “Because I didn’t tell you about the markings at Dynhill.”
    He seems to take the silence as a ‘yes’.

    “You know,” he tells you, handing you a brandy glass as he sits in the chair opposite you, “there’s nothing worse than keeping a secret from an old friend. Nothing worse in the world. But it was a matter of verification, y’see. I had to be certain before you could know...before anyone could know.”
    James is lying to you, and you don’t know why.
    “So what were you even doing, James,” you ask him, mock-casually, “in Dynhill in the first place?”
    He replies with something long-winded about Indian burial sites and surveying the gradient for Bronze Age settlements.

    An exceptionally strange, horribly familiar sensation creeps over you; the understanding that you are being watched. You glance over James’ shoulder; there’s nothing there, however, but his bedroom door, slightly ajar.
    A shock of fear – as if there was something immensely gruesome waiting for you just behind that door.

    “...should be a splendid expedition,” James is saying. “My dear fellow, I’m so glad we got all this out in the open. Keeping it from you was an awful ordeal. And when we find the temple...oh, the accolades!”
    “You seem very certain we’ll find something,” you tell him, tearing your eyes with difficulty away from the darkness behind the bedroom door.
    He just smiles and sips at his brandy.
    “Wait till you see it,” he says. “Just you wait. The discovery of our lifetimes, Stephen. What we’ve been working up to all these long years.”
    He pats amicably at your knee.
    “And Miss Kline,” he adds, “she’s been talking about meeting you ever since I first asked for her help. A remarkable woman, you know, though with that ring on her finger I very much doubt she’s a real ‘Miss’...”

    James talks for what seems like forever, before showing you to the door with a wadful of dollars and a reminder to present yourself at his lodgings on the first of October, at dawn, for the expedition to set off on horseback.

    You step out onto the street, and into blackness. The gaslights have long been extinguished; it must be near three in the morning. The only colour in the world is from the stars. And, with a shiver, you recall the thing – the presence – behind James’ door.
    “Just Salman,” you say aloud. “They always did have an unhealthy relationship.”
    You smile to yourself, bravely, and step out over the cobblestones.

    When you’re two streets away from your lodgings, you break into a run, and you don’t stop until you’ve locked yourself into your apartment and lit all of the candles in the hall.

    You don’t dream that night, because you don’t fall asleep. In the morning, you dismiss a wild fancy brought on by too much drink.

    *

    Right! Let’s get going on that plot! So you’ve got a couple of weeks before your expedition party heads north to the coast and to Dynhill, to investigate these cliffs. How do you while away that time?


    A: I speak to my uncle’s people in New York. They’re well-connected; they may be able to provide me with information on each of my travelling companions.

    B: I try to get back into shape. Running, boxing, hiking in the foothills to the west of Arkham...this could be a gruelling trip.

    C: I purchase a revolver in the city. Just in case these troublesome locals cause any sort of a stir.

    D: The landlady mentioned an old woman near James' lodgings. Could be worth following up on.
     
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  22. Chef_Hathaway King of the Juice Patron White Knight

    Chef_Hathaway
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    D

    Need figure out what the hell is going on with Professor Hurley. If she has been poking around, she has to have seen or overheard something important.
     
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  23. Nickless Educated

    Nickless
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    Gotta agree with Chef.

    D (Although I don't see why we can't also purchase a weapon in the same period)
     
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  24. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
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    your future if you're not careful...
    D I've got a bad feeling about all of this.

    Yeah! Forewarned is forearmed, but regular armed is best!
     
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