He said really I just want to dance. Good and evil match perfect, it’s a great romance. And I can deal with some psychic pain. If it’ll slow down my higher brain. Veins full of disappearing ink…disconnecting from the missing link.
-Elliot Smith, “A Fond Farewell”
After the brutal murder at the Hotel Chelsea on January 15, your Investigators should have a fistful of clues to direct them around New York. In the meantime, someone begins arranging Jackson’s affairs and organizing his funeral. The campaign book sets the date for January 17, a mere two days later, and offers a brief, open-ended description of the event. The full details of the somber arrangements fall upon you, Keeper and dear friend of Jackson Elias.
You may elect to have Jonah Kensington, a storied bastion of this very establishment, or Carlton Ramsey, Jackson’s attorney, handle the phone calls and leg-work. As an orphan, you should not expect many (or any) Elias family members to attend, but you may want to season the invite list with some interesting NPC characters that may serve as backup options for PCs. If your Investigators like to come prepared, you could even allow them to invite their backup PCs to the funeral for some preliminary introductions. Perhaps one or two fans of Jackson’s published works might make an appearance. If you fill out the crowd with a few benign faces, you could even consider inserting some incognito Bloody Tongue Cultists or M’Dari himself. They could be conducting their own investigation to see who might have disrupted, captured, or killed their cronies. Depending on how things play out, they could attempt to reclaim clues from the Investigators or tail the PCs to their next stop.
As to the content of the funeral ceremony, you may want to keep the affair brief due to the bitter cold. You can expect a closed-casket event given the appearance of Jackson. Since it’s January, the ground will be too cold and snowy for a proper burial, so you may consider storing Jackson’s remains on the cemetery grounds before the spring thaw. This could open the door for more cultist interference. Would they dare capture Jackson’s corpse and animate it for use as a ciimba? Imagine the SAN implications. Even more outrageously, brazen Investigators could attempt to reanimate using dangerous magic, particularly the spell found in Africa’s Dark Sects.
Perhaps the Investigators missed a final important clue, instead of tagging it to cultists, they might need to retrieve it from Jackson’s remains. To point them in that direction, Ramsey can off-handedly mention Jackson storing his passport/notes in the secret pocket of his favorite jacket. You know, the one he’ll be wearing forever.
The officiant, whoever you may choose, can make note of Jackson’s skills with words, his love of people and giving spirit, but also his independent and itinerant nature. You should feel free to play up any characteristics that Jackson might have strongly embodied in your players’ prior adventures with him. Jonah Kensington, or another close friend, may recall stories of Jackson with associated name-drops of your Investigators to play up the importance of their bond in the author’s life. Given the likely sparse crowd, the minister may note that Jackson made the whole world his home, populated throughout by his wonderfully diverse collection of friends. As the campaign book suggests, you may want to offer the occasion for your Investigators to speak up.
Finally, the Funeral Scene acts to bring your characters in contact with key NPCs to set up future encounters. If they have not met Kensington before the funeral, allowing him to speak and mention the PCs can set up a smooth encounter. He can subsequently introduce them to Carlton Ramsey, as needed. The other important encounter will be the New York Times reporter, Rebecca Shosenburg. Whether you want to present her as a face in a sea of reports, as described in the campaign book, or as the dogged lone wolf investigative reporter, who may be one of the very few journalists who realize that the murder of an African-American writer in a giant city has more suspicious implications. You could potentially bring other NPCs to the funeral, including Lt. Poole or Miriam Atwright, traveling down from Boston. Since the funeral occurs near the beginning of the New York chapter, it offers a fixed campaign event to put your Investigators on a clear path to discovering Jackson’s secret quest and its jarring implications.
Any Keepers out there decide to skip the funeral scene? Did your Investigators opt-out of the event?