Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Cracked & Crook'd Manse

For the last couple years some friends of mine and I gather together at Halloween to play games. Two of the faithful, Max and Tacha, are probably going to leave us soon for the wintry wild lands of Canada - pity them, do not judge them - so this is the last of these sessions we'll have as a group. I thought I'd share the result with you all.

The game is Cracked and Crook'd Manse, from Call of Cthulhu's Mansion of Madness collection, though I use Trail rules as the group's more familiar with that system. I created pregens, leaving only the name of the character up to the players, to speed up the session. We only had until 1am to finish, and I didn't want to spend half an hour on character design.

In my innocence I thought I could record the session and upload it here. Well, recording wasn't a problem. In fact, given the extremely primitive nature of my recording set-up, I think I did quite well. Uploading it is a completely different kettle of fish, and 3+ hours of audio just won't be doable on this system. Which is a terrible shame, I'm sure. I could probably work out how to post it via some other means, but I'm not up for learning how to podcast this late on a Sunday.

You'll just have to settle for the précis.

Cast of characters:

Scruffy, the Hobo - Max.
Stormageddon, the Wonder Dog, aka Sassy - Tacha
Hank the Bootlegger - Reuben
Kent, the Journalist - Jym
Annabelle, the Dilettante and Arthur Cornthwaite's sister - Mary

Spoilers for the scenario are inevitable, so be warned.

All of them arrive in the town of Gamwell, Mass., to find out what happened to Arthur Cornthwaite, missing millionare & archaeologist. Nobody knows where he's gone or how long he'll be away. His lawyers think there's nothing very wrong; his sister is deeply concerned. Hank and Sassy are there to look for Moses, Hank's business partner, who was last seen headed to the Cornthwaite estate. Scruffy. who knows nothing of any of this, is looking for a warm place to spend the night.

Hank and Sassy soon work out that the lawyer's office is the place to go. There they meet Annabelle, and thanks to some confusion on the lawyer's part, the lawyers think Hank and Annabelle know each other, which makes life easier for Hank. Annabelle soon leaves in search of her brother, and her beloved horse. Hank spends a little longer at the lawyer's office, and finds out that one of the last things Arthur Cornthwaite did before vanishing was buy a remarkable amount of salt, for reasons unknown. Hank and Sassy steal the keys to the estate, thanks to a quick distraction from Sassy, and they follow after Annabelle.

Meanwhile Scruffy takes his chance, and climbs over the fence to get to the estate, badly damaging his pants in the process. Now almost naked from the waist down, Scruffy needs new pants, and once he realizes nobody's home he breaks into the mansion. He finds the place decayed and abandoned, but after some searching finds the master bedroom, and Arthur's pants. Decent once more, he's surprised when Annabelle and Hank arrive, with Kent the journalist soon after.

Annabelle is shocked and appalled to discover her beloved horse has been eaten, and her family home is in near-ruin. For a moment it looks as if Scruffy might be to blame, but after a rocky start they join forces with the hobo to find out why the house is in such a state,

Much exploring now takes place, from top to bottom. In the attic they find evidence which suggests Arthur brought something awful back from his latest expedition. In the cellar, which is practically a swamp, they find further evidence that Arthur's last expedition did not go well at all, and they also find enough to suggest that Moses met his end here too. In every room, every corridor, there's further evidence of extensive damp and decay. Annabelle is distraught - her family's beautiful house, ruined!

They soon realize that the water's off, for reasons unknown, and putting two and two together they decide that the lack of water in the pipes, and the extensive water damage everywhere else, means something. That's why they go to the cellar, which means the creature, which was hiding in the cellar, needs to retreat. Sense Trouble tells Sassy that something large is in the walls, but the wonder dog doesn't realize just how bad the situation is.

Scruffy separates from the group, so the aggrieved creature has a chance to strike. Scruffy, in the parlor, is grabbed and swiftly hauled out through the window and up. In the process he suffers extensive Stability and Sanity losses. Fortunately for him the group comes to his rescue, with Sassy the wonder dog dragging him back from the brink.

Now they know something's up. They want to leave, but when they go to Annabelle's two seater they see a suspicious pool of 'water' around her car. When the journalist goes for his bicycle, which is outside the fenceline, the water flows ahead of him. They're trapped - or are they? Annabelle remembers that, as a good citizen of Massachusetts, she has a large bag of salt in the back of her car. If only they could get to it!

Unfortunately in the attempt Sassy gets that little bit too close to the horror, and her doggy mind goes spiraling off into the void. They retreat back into the mansion, for now, in search of other salt. They find Arthur's shotgun, and the shells he was filling with salt when he was snatched away. With the small amount of salt they've been able to salvage, they make one usable salt shell. Now's the time to strike.

They're able to escape the mansion again, and get to the salt in the back of the car. However Kent the journalist is snatched away, and dragged to the cellar, where the thing's vast bulk has relocated.

Annabelle grabs the bag of salt from her car and dashes back into the house to save Kent, scattering salt like a maddened flower girl at a salt wedding. She runs down into the cellar, not realizing that in doing so she'll become the world's first, and last, salt suicide bomber. The creature is just as surprised as she is, when Annabelle dives headlong into its mass carrying a lethal bag.

Everyone else was close behind her at the time of the unpleasantness. They needed to make a Fleeing Difficulty 6, since they were so very close to the center of what amounts to an erupting volcano. Only Scruffy, the crazed hobo, makes the roll. Annabelle and Kent were already half-dissolved and swimming in goo, so they weren't in the running, but Sassy and Hank go out in a blaze of glory.

Scruffy, sole survivor and character most likely to be blamed for the whole mess, resolves to get out of town before the Sherriff can catch up with him. "Scruffy lives to see another day!" Max crows.

Thus ends the tale of ... the Cracked and Crook'd Manse.


Thanks to a suggestion, I uploaded the file to It doesn't seem to have worked exactly as I'd like, and download doesn't function the way I thought it would. So changes will need to be made.

However it is there, and seems to be streamable, so the link is here.

Note: spoilers! Also the occasional naughty word.


  1. You can upload recordings to Like Tbilisi! ( or this talk at Treadwells (,