The main campaign delivers an open world for your players to explore, choosing what leads to pursue, cultists to investigate, and NPCs to interview. The metropolis of New York offers plenty of potential for chance encounters to enliven and disrupt your players’ dogged attempts to understand Jackson’s brutal murder and begin to uncover the truth about the Carlyle Expedition. These suggested random events can provide inspiration for some exciting improvisations that may be used in a variety of ways to punctuate your session at the beginning, middle, and end. We will start with events for the premiere location in New York, Manhattan proper:
- Cultists – As the chapter gets underway, your Investigators may have increasing encounters with cultists. Tailing cars, shadowy figures in alleyways, ambushes on dark streets, or violence against other NPCs.
Private Investigator/Reporter – Someone is hounding or trailing the PCs for information. Maybe it’s a Carlyle agent vetting the players before they are granted an audience. Or a reporter/photographer from a less reputable newspaper looking for details on Jackson’s death. If any of your Investigators are individually famous or notorious, they might just be looking for juicy details relating to their private and social lives.
- Telephone Call – This could be relating to any personal matter that the Investigator left behind from a family member, business associate, or colleague. Offers a brief interlude for your PCs to build on their backstory and acknowledges the normal life they will soon be leaving behind. Alternatively could be an anonymous tip or a friend of Jackson’s reaching out. If a positive event, consider awarding a modest boost to SAN or Luck.
- Hotel or Car Break-In – This could function as another form of cultist encounter or simple theft. Valuable Mythos items or clues may be taken from the players’ lodgings or cars. Or, if they have taken precautions, merely a ransacked room or a suspiciously ajar window/door. An open door to an otherwise empty room can go a long way to build extended tension.
- Snow Storm – A scenic backdrop or complication, particularly if the players plan to travel to a location outside the city (Sing-Sing, Miskatonic, Carlyle Estate)
- Police Encounter – Could be an encounter with neutral, allied, or opposing law enforcement. Maybe your players weren’t cautious when they left they speak-easy or Poole sent one of his men down to the hotel for some additional questions. If players have been up to trouble in Harlem, Robson may have sent some boys down to Manhattan for a “conversation.”
- Hungover/Cold – One too many highballs or a trip on a crowded subway could inject some light physical misery into your players’ day. May require a trip down to the pharmacy for some medication to prevent session penalty die or increasing skill difficulty.
- Recurrent Dream – May recall a traumatic event in Peru (or another prior session) or foreshadow a future encounter. Could also be a helpful opportunity to insert a missed clue. Consider optional SAN loss depending on dream content.
Harlem should be considered more than simply the sinister base of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue and their clubhouse. In 1925, Harlem provides a vibrant nightlife and cultural backdrop for your characters. The events aim to enrich your players’ conception of this chapter locale.
- Cultists – Cultists may be lurking in any number of Harlem locations, including observing Investigators meeting any number of Harlem-based NPCs, as well as masquerading as normal citizens or vagrants near the Ju-Ju House. This could also be a chance street encounter with M’Dari or N’Kwane depending on the time of day.
- Jazz/Blues Musician – A brief encounter with a brilliant, inspired musician. They may hear their tunes on the street or in a local Harlem establishment. Consider providing a positive bonus, such as 1d3 Luck or a Bonus dice roll. Or it could be the Baron in Blues (Harlem Unbound, p.100) or Black Tom…
- Rowdy Out-of-Towners – Can be from any number of locales, including students from Miskatonic University spending the weekend in New York. Could result in interesting conversation, rounds of drinks, or a hostile confrontation.
- Crooked Police – Depending on the actions of Investigators, this could provoke the first encounter with Robson’s men or be a more threatening confrontation with consequences. May be used to interrupt player activities in Harlem.
- Local Acquaintance – A chance-friendly encounter on the sidewalk, bar, or restaurant. May provide a vague clue to a future chapter (“I just got back from Shanghai…” or “Strange things afoot in Soho…”). May simply be nice to bond with an old friend. Consider awarding a small Sanity bonus for a comforting encounter with a friendly face.
- Cult Graffiti – May find Bloody Tongue symbols, as well as other arcane markings scattered about Harlem. Might find them scrawled upon exiting Ramsey’s law office or on a vehicle. Consider imbuing these with arcane magic or a means of cult surveillance.
- Mythos Legend – Overhear a recounting of some fascinating Mythos-related story from a Harlem resident, potentially one arriving during the Great Migration from the South. Alternatively, may be a sociable African immigrant or Conjure Man unaffiliated with the Bloody Tongue. Need not be related to the MoN Campaign. Consider an optional 1d3 percentile boost to Cthulhu Mythos skill.
- Icy road/sidewalk – Can present a site for an Investigator accident or an opportunity for the PCs to assist in an accident that has taken place (slip and fall on the sidewalk, bad car crash). If the characters play good samaritans, consider offering up a clue or an encounter with a Harlem-based NPC they haven’t met yet.
- Cultists – The Investigators have picked up a tail. Bloody Tongue cultists may follow them on to a train or pursue them by car. If undetected, this could lead to a tragic demise for an NPC they meet with, such as Atwright or Cowles and/or his daughter.
- Train Delay – This could be a delay in departure or arrival. If traveling by car this may require rerouting due to an accident or long train. Can be used to increase tension if attempting an escape.
- Prohibition Bust – Investigators may find themselves roped in as suspects or as law enforcement support. This could also result in travel delays due to roadblocks.
- Chance Encounter – A fortuitous encounter with an important NPC traveling between locations, such as Cowles, Atwright, or Millie Adams. Could be an acquaintance that might provide a clue or connection.
- Interesting Scenery – Perhaps a billboard or building that evokes memories of prior journeys, including Peru. May see advertisements for international travel, Egyptian exhibition at a New York museum, or sign featuring an unsettling mask or shadowy face.
- Smooth Trip – Despite the bad weather, the trip goes smoothly and saves the Investigators time. If they have picked up a tail, the expedient travel may allow them to shake it.
- Theft/Misplaced Item – Investigators traveling with clues, tomes, or artifacts may have an item stolen by a cultist or common thief, which can provide some pursuit action on a train or a car chase. Alternatively, the item may have been misplaced and taken accidentally by an innocent traveler, which could have dire results or create a useful contact.
- Useful News Item – An upcoming social event featuring Erica Carlyle. A brief piece on the impending solar eclipse. An article about Hilton Adams impending execution. Another murder in Harlem. Or maybe a British traveler left their copy of The Scoop on the train to provide a bit of foreshadowing or a direct connection to one of the England chapter stories.
Link to New York Event Google Sheet