Call of Cthulhu : New York

Jackson Elias sent you a telegram on 3 January 1925, summoning you to New York. He was murdered on Thursday 15 January. You attended the funeral on Saturday. The reading of the will is scheduled for Monday 19th at 3pm at Carlton Ramsey’s office (124th St. and Lennox Ave. in Harlem).


Historical references

Here are the notes you scribbled down during your telephone conversation with Professor Anthony Cowles (Professor of Anthropology at Miskatonic University).


I’ve edited the telegram down a bit. It’s 26 words, so a total cost of $32.50, I think.

Telegram to Penhew Foundation

Cable Address: Pharaoh, London
Date: 16th January 1925



OK, fine—if your Credit Rating is under 50, you need to take the $32.50 from your cash.

Out of interest I was just reading The Telegraph in America, 1832–1920 by David Hochfelder and he cites the average word length of a telegram in 1903:


He also gives the data rate for transatlantic communications:


I was wondering if punctuation marks were available. Early telegraphy used Morse Code so only letters and numbers were available, but in 1924, In 1924, the CCITT introduced the International Telegraph Alphabet No. 2 ( ITA2 ) code, which was a 5-bit code and included some punctuation marks:


Where everyone is staying in New York

Character Credit Rating Accommodation Address
Bessie Simons 51 Waldorf Astoria Hotel 5th Ave. and 33rd St., Manhattan
Raskolnikov 50 Waldorf Astoria Hotel 5th Ave. and 33rd St., Manhattan
Fernando 50 Baltimore Hotel 335 Madison Ave., Manhattan (nr. Grand Central Terminal)
Arthur Bell 50 Rented apartment W 72nd St., Manhattan (nr. Central Park)
Frank Johnson 40 New Grand Hotel Broadway and 31st St., Manhattan
Daniel Masters 40 New Grand Hotel Broadway and 31st St., Manhattan
Dorothy 40 New Grand Hotel Broadway and 31st St., Manhattan
Rebecca Shosenburg 30 Rented apartment 7th Street, Manhattan (nr. Williamsburg Bridge)
Jack 30 Rented apartment E 115th St., Manhattan (Spanish Harlem)
Jude Gregson 30 Rented apartment E 163rd St., the Bronx (nr. Yankee Stadium)
Basile Lerouc 19 Rented apartment E 182nd St., the Bronx (nr. St. Barnabus Hospital and the Zoo)
Cecil Goulding 35 Rented apartment
Timothy 30 Rented apartment

Frank’d be staying in a hotel nearby, which was fairly cheap, but not too run-down (I remember you mentioned two names of hotels for this, but I can’t remember what they were).

Also, a general heads-up for all: R1 has recently (as in, within the last day or so) started applying a new rule - when R1 officially closes, all seating areas attached to the restaurant will be locked as well. This includes where we normally play, as well as the area with the higher tables. I doubt that we’ll be affected on Wednesdays, but it may be useful to know if we play on a Sunday evening for any reason.

Thanks Oliver, good to know. On weeknights R1 officially closes at midnight but at weekends like you say it closes earlier at 22h.

Restaurant 1 Opening Hours

Aye, that it says, but a few of us at board games were kicked out of R1 a little bit early. I guess they wanted to close up, and we were the only ones there.

Just might be good to watch out for; if they want to push us out early.

@jsmeaton Cecil receives the following telegram from London:


I can’t make Wednesday next week. Which other day(s) do you prefer to play instead?

  • Sunday 12 May
  • Monday 13 May
  • Thursday 16 May

0 voters

I can do any of those dates, but there is a meeting for those helping the Games Club at the CERN Relay on the Thursday, so if you do play then, I’ll most likely be late joining.

I don’t mind either way, though.

To be fair, it was almost 22:00 when they told us to leave, so probably it was only for not locking us in

It was more like half past 9 when we were told to leave, and R1 is only supposed to close at 10 on Sundays.

I guess the guy was just letting us know of the new rules, but I would not put it past them to try to kick people out early.

As there wasn’t much enthusiasm for changing the day, this week’s session is cancelled and we will resume on Wed 22 May.

This week’s session finished with a pulp action fist-fight between Frank Johnson and six cultists outside the Ju-Ju House in Ransom Court. After an epic punch-out, five of the six are lying unconscious, while the sixth was eviscerated in a very gory way by Jude wielding two swords (provoking 1D6 SAN loss).

One of the cultists pulled a pistol on Frank before lights out and Frank has sustained a gunshot wound to his arm. As he goes into shock, Timothy leads him out of Ransom Court and calls a taxi to take him to Harlem Hospital.

That leaves Daniel, Cecil and Jude in Ransom Court with five unconscious cultists and a corpse…

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Frank is also going to hospital with a nasty-looking knife wound across the torso. Heaven knows how he’s going to explain that to the attendants…

Last night’s thrilling pulp action

Ransom Court, Harlem, just after midnight on Saturday night

An epic punch-out between Frank Johnson and six thugs from the Cult of the Bloody Tongue left five of the cultists unconscious on the floor. The sixth was eviscerated in a dramatic and gory way by Jude Gregson weilding a pair of swords. But one of the thugs had brought a gun to a knife fight, and Frank was bleeding badly from a shot to his shoulder. Timothy helped him make it out of the alley onto West 137th Street and onto Lenox Avenue, where they hailed a taxi and headed for Harlem Hospital.

Jude, Daniel and Cecil were still searching the scene when the police arrived. The investigators were picked up and taken to the NYPD 14th precinct police headquarters where they cooled their heels in a cell for the rest of the night.

Sunday, 25th January 1925

Jude, Daniel and Cecil remained in police custody and were interrogated by Captain Robson. He seemed to know Cecil in particular, and was aware that he had been at the scene of the crime after Jackson Elias’s murder. During the interview he placed an African pinga (throwing knife) on the table and said it had been found in Cecil’s apartment. He said this evidence was very damning and implied that Cecil could be charged with murder. He finished with a warning to stay out of Harlem.

Timothy meanwhile had informed the others of events on Saturday night and they made their way to the 14th precinct to get news of their friends. The police pulled Rashkolnikov in for a friendly chat and suggested that the investigators should stay out of Harlem as it is a dangerous place for foreigners. They called their lawyer, Carlton Ramsey and let him know what had happened.

On Sunday night, Cecil and Daniel were warned again and released. Jude was held by the police, pending charges for 3rd degree murder.

Monday, 26th January

Carlton Ramsey turned up at the 14th precinct and argued Jude’s case. It could not be proved that Jude had malicious intent, and carrying swords is not actually a crime, so he argued that Jude was attacked and it was a case of self-defence. Lacking witnesses, Robson was forced to release Jude on bail (fees paid from the estate of Jackson Elias… it occurs to you that the situation may have been smoothed over with the help of a bribe to Robson). The swords were retained as evidence. Jude was told not to leave New York but to stay out of Harlem.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Schosenburg met with the rest of the investigators and said she had persuaded Hilton Adams to allow them to visit him. They took the train to Sing Sing prison, 30 miles north of New York on the east bank of the Hudson river.

Adams had fought in the Great War, in the 369th Infantry Regiment. He first noticed the disappearances after he returned to New York in 1919. Together with a group of his ex-war buddies (the “Harlem Hellfighters”), they started to investigate. Adams eventually concluded that the disappearances had been going on for years. There was no pattern to the victims, but they all happened during the dark of the moon—which makes perfect sense if you are planning to abduct someone.

The murders on the other hand didn’t seem to follow any fixed schedule—they seemed to happen in response to something specific. He was absolutely certain that the eighth murder was carried out simply to frame him.

After Mordecai Lemming’s statements in the press about the deaths being caused by an African Death Cult, Adam’s team had found a mention of something called “the Cult of the Bloody Tongue” in the New York Library, which had links to Kenya. It was this clue that led them to the Ju-Ju House, which was the only place in the area with direct ties to Africa. Adams started to put the Ju-Ju House under surveillance, but he didn’t learn much before the police came for him. Once he followed a muscular, shaven-headed African man, probably in his late 30s, from the Ju-Ju House to a coffee shop on 139th Street and 6th Avenue, above Fat Maybelle’s speakeasy. No-one would talk to him about the man, and several warned him to walk away, but he did get a name: Mukunga M’Dari. Adams is certain that this was when whoever was behind the murders decided he was a threat.

The investigators returned to Manhattan and turned in for the night. The weather turned foul and there was a snowstorm.

Tuesday, 27th January

Rebecca Shosenburg checked the dispatches at the New York Times and discovered that there were two reports of missing persons on Friday night. The first was Mr. Montgomery Kent, a businessman in his 50s who lives in Queen’s. The second was Mr. Jimmy Wales, a dock worker in his 20s who lives in Manhattan. Both had been reported as going to Harlem on Friday night, then disappearing without trace.

The snow continued during the day. Rebecca took the investigators to visit Millie Adams, Hilton’s wife, who works as a musician and singer at the Lafayette Theatre on 137th Street and 7th Avenue. The interview did not go very well due to some insensitive remarks from Rashkolnikov. They left the theatre when Basile noticed a man watching them from across the street. Basile ran after him but the man fled.

The investigators visited Teddy’s Saloon, a workingmen’s club around the corner, as Hilton had told them they could find his friends there. The barman told them to come back at knocking-off time.

A visit to Mr. Kent’s family in Queen’s didn’t reveal much new information, but Mrs. Wales told them that Jimmy was irresponsible and had been seeing other women in Harlem since the baby was born, and now he had run away and left her and she was all alone and had to care for the baby herself. They also learned that Jimmy had recently been employed by Emerson Imports.

Everyone went home after agreeing to meet in a Manhattan café for breakfast.

Wednesday, 28th January

When the investigators got together at the café, Arthur didn’t show up. They waited a while then decided to check in on him.

The concierge let them go up to the apartment, where they found the door open. Inside there were signs of a struggle and the window to the fire escape was open. Arthur had been abducted! Down the stairs, at the bottom they found vehicle tracks in the fresh snow… thick tyres with a wide wheel-base.

They decided to head for Emerson Imports and follow the Jimmy Wales lead. The building is a warehouse by the docks, with an office upstairs. The investigators told the guard that they needed to speak to Mr. Emerson and he waved them in. By the warehouse, a small truck was being loaded with crates by a couple of dock workers. Basile narrowed his eyes… one of them looked just like that guy who was watching them yesterday. And the truck—could it be that the wheelbase matched the tyre tracks outside Arthur’s apartment?

Mr. Emerson was horrified to hear that his squash partner had apparently been abducted and offered whatever help he could. Looking through employee records, the investigators found that Mukunga M’Dari works here. They noted his address and those of two other employees they suspected of being cult members.

The truck left to do its deliveries and the investigators decided to scout around the warehouse. They realised that Mukunga M’Dari was across the warehouse, leaning against a wall, watching them… and took that as a cue to leave.

Armed with M’Dari’s address, they headed to his apartment in Harlem, where Jude swiftly picked the lock. M’Dari lives in a shabby room with sparse furnishings : a bed roll, a few clothes, a table and chair, and various Kikuyu ceremonial items like masks, shields and wooden carvings. They found a few curious things. First, an encrypted telegram from PHARAOH in London :


Second, a curious wooden box. On the lid was carved a three-legged monster with a massive tentacle in place of its head. Inside the box were three glass vials containing a golden liquid, scintillating and slightly syrupy. The vials are sealed with wax.

A more thorough search revealed a small piece of paper tucked into the mattress which had been crudely re-stitched. On it was the word GIZABLCKPHRO. Calculating that this was the key for the telegram cipher, they were able to decode its message:


Cecil decided he should stop sending telegrams to Mr. Gavigan in London.

Leaving the apartment, they decided to check in at Teddy’s Saloon. Adam’s friends were there, but when the investigators started to question them about their friend, they looked guilty. The interview didn’t turn up anything new.

It was 7pm. Suspecting that their friend had been taken to the Ju-Ju House, they decided it was time for a break-in under cover of darkness.