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For this story we started with the official Chaosium product, Arkham Unveiled. The year was the canonical 1928. The protagonists, we decided, would be visitors to Arkham.

Aside from the source material including the fine map of the city, we used our Query Table, the Answer Deck, the Une NPC generator, our much-thumbed copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, and a pile of dice, counters and dry erase pens.

As usual, decision points are indicated by square brackets [like this] to show where we needed to insert some randomness. The rest is pure narrative, as much as my notes of our conversation reflects.

We were Merton [Serene Aristocrat] and Julia Peters [Curious Homemaker – dice roll to see who would breathe life into each: I got Merton; Greg, Julia.]

We were in Arkham from our ancestral pile in Boston because our son, Crosier, had been kidnapped. A ransom note had been received and we were to deliver the $20,000 to the kidnappers [Did we want to come here? Fair chance – No and. We definitely did not want to come here. So why did we come here? From the Answer Deck: Hidden Enemy, Loss.]

Our son, Crosier, had brought a certain amount of stink to the family name by going off into his own business rather than staying with the family firm. We knew that he had dealings in Arkham, specifically in that he provided supplies and biological samples to the University. Though we did not know it, Crosier dealt a great deal with the Histology department, a division that was concerned with the fine microscopic examination of biological tissues. Similarly, though our protagonists could not know, the very last sample Crosier provided would be the key to the entire mystery. [Long series of questions and answers and consultations of the map. We stitched together Crosier’s business by putting together the pieces.]

We had been booked in to the Hotel Miskatonic [random location from the map], where we waited for a phone call. When it arrived, we were advised to bring the money to the Old Wooded graveyard [random location from the map]. It was dusk: 1700hrs (5:00 pm).

As we arrived at the graveyard and prepared to enter, Julia looked across the street and was surprised to see crosier enter a house. Immediately we went in pursuit towards the boarded up building. This was Unnameable House, a two story brick building with a mouldy smell that had been implicated in a series of sickening murders many years past. [This was an Interrupted Scene. The Answer Deck told us the focus was Home, Hope. Checking the map, we chose the building and then discovered its macabre history.]

Inside, the building was lit from by an unseen flickering light. Enormous stairs led to a second floor. At the head of the stairs hung a portrait of a man who seemed familiar. Overwhelmed by a sense of familiarity, Merton started to climb the steps but was brought to his senses by a stinging slap from Julia. [Our first Sanity check, using our Query table. Merton failed and took a point of loss, Julia succeeded and remained in control.] Determined to get to the bottom of these shenanigans, we hefted the carpet bag of cash and, pistol in hand, headed up the stairs calling for our son.

[Altered Scene. From the Answer Deck: Ending, New Beginning. But what? from Brewer’s we got: Blast.] Instantly, the light changed and a sound penetrated us. It was a low droning, moaning sound, like a tired wind through a dead forest. We looked up and were astounded to see two people who looked exactly like ourselves descending the stairs towards us. We were being psychically assaulted. [But what kind? From the Answer Deck: Diligence, Peace.] The sound and the vision of ourselves mechanically, robotically approaching made us feel dull, docile and lifeless. Some kind of zombification, or at least hypnosis was underway. Again Julia overcame the attack and dragged Merton away.

Outside, breathing the night air, Merton and Julia realised that had fled the building in terror leaving both the pistol and the money. In blind fear we drove to the Police Station. By luck we were interviewed by Mickie Harrigan, who called in his hardboiled boss, Luther Hardin. Both knew the history of Unnameable House and were capable of tackling it.

And so closed Act I.

Read on next time as Luther and Mickie tackle the case of the kidnapped tycoon heir and the disturbing tissue sample.