Prop: The Corbitt Diaries

As we gear up for Session 2, here are the props I mentioned in the first session– The Corbitt Diaries. The investigators found these books at the very end of Episode 5, tucked away in a boarded-up cupboard on the first floor of the potentially-haunted Corbitt House. I’m not much for arts and crafts in my games, so this was an ambitious project by my standards. I think it paid off though; they were a fun note to go out on!

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The Signs Have Been Granted

As of today, work has officially begun toward Session Two of “Merciful Things”! I’m currently planning to gather the players and run the session by the end of January, and hopefully begin delivering episodes by the beginning of next month. Other exciting developments will be announced until then so stay tuned!

And what was the answer to the riddle? Coalhada from the storygames.com forums scored with an impressive memory for a very specific scene from the massive epic of James Joyce, Ulysses. While Joyce isn’t exactly a “Lovecraftian” writer, they did write in the same period and, I believe, dealt with similar questions. My intention in the early volumes of the “Corbitt Diaries” was to present, as accurately as I could, the private thoughts of an early twentieth-century “everyday man”. If I was going to make the Diaries a real, physical artifact for the player’s to hold, I certainly wanted it to READ like a diary– not a convenient play-by-play, but not so incoherent and rambling that the reader cannot relate. I had to capture the voice of a sane, reasonable, even somewhat likable human being, to show how the Mythos overpowers the minds it lures. It struck me that Ulysses was the perfect place to turn to get an authentic sample of the stream-of-consciousness of the contemporary mind.

Coalhada would like to thank DailyLit.com, which provides a free novel-by-email service, sending your chosen novel to you in short installments according to a schedule of your choosing. If you’ve been meaning to pick up Ulysses, this is your chance!

The Corbitt House will be the centerpiece of the next session of “Merciful Things”. All signs point to the impossible fact that the house’s eccentric one-time occupant wants the investigators gone– including the loud thump they just heard from the floor above, in the supposedly empty house!

The Unanswered Riddle

Happy New Year, fellow gamers! Today marks three months since my players and I gathered for the first session of the “Merciful Things” audio-campaign. Currently we are knee-deep in the classic Call of Cthulhu starter-scenario “The Haunting”. Our first session took the party of investigators:

Doctor Rudolph Von Schernberg, a scholarly gentleman

Detective Samuel Crabtree, an NYPD veteran,

Miss Cynthia Rockwell, a flapper dilettante, and

Mister Francis McCoy, a bootlegging businessman,

on a mystery romp through government records, legal reports, and even the dubious testimony of a mentally unstable immigrant family. The group’s findings findings were marked by chilling implications and deeper questions, all of which seemed to lead inexorably to the piece of property known as the Corbitt House.

At the end of the final episode, I, Keeper Timm, left a riddle and an ultimatum. I continue to stand by my pact: I will start the second season of recording if and only if my riddle gets answered. This has not happened yet, so if you want to hear (or potentially see!) more of the adventure, my question is reprinted here for your benefit:

“The Corbitt Diaries found at the end of this episode are given only a brief description in the official adventure of ‘The Haunting’. For my players, I provided three books with inserted diary pages as visual aids. Included in these pages were the creepy thoughts of Corbitt’s slowly degenerating mind, as read by the Detective. My question to you is this, from what famous work of literature did I essentially lift or paraphrase a large portion of the diary’s monologue?”

Detective Crabtree’s reading of the Corbitt Diaries can be heard here, in its entirety, in Part 3 of our fifth episode– but your faithful Keeper would recommend listening to the last five seconds of Episode 5 (Part 2) for some helpful context. Listen and carefully consider your evidence; my only hint will be that the book in question is NOT a work authored by H.P. Lovecraft. In fact, the Lovecraftian elements of the diaries are largely misleading– focus primarily in the first, more “mundane” volume of the diaries. In the age of the internet, I can say no more, but only trust that intelligent investigators will work it out before long.

Good luck, and as always, good gaming!