An adventure for The Trail of Cthulhu RPG which is based upon the story of the same name by Robert W. Chambers (the text of which is included in the adventure). The story unfolds in such a way as to reshuffle events of the original story - we start, for example, with the suicide of Osgood Oswald Vance, who only kills himself towards the end of the Chambers tale.
A review can be found here.
Alternate 1920s America
The scenario lists details about the Alternate 1920s American setting, specifically:
- Outgoing President Winthrop leaves office having achieved a new era of tranquility.
- Political power has been centralized to the executive branch, curtailing Congress and the judiciary.
- Protective Tariffs ensure American prosperity.
- Agitators of the Labor movement have been neutered.
- America has just won a war with Germany.
- It began with Germany’s seizure of the Samoan Islands.
- It ended in the wake of a disastrous German amphibious invasion of New Jersey.
- Coastal cities are now heavily fortified.
- America boasts a standing army of 300,000 organized under the Prussian system, with a million reserve troops.
- Many ships of its magnificent navy can now be seen anchored in the New York harbor.
- Treaties with England and France assure its security on the world stage.
- Chicago suffered a second great fire, wiping out the horrible skyscrapers erected in the wake of the first.
- These have been replaced by grand structures in the white, imperial neoclassical style that also dominates a revitalized New York & Chicago. [?]
- People view this shift in style as part of a return to moral decency.
- Generous subsidies assure the production of art that soothes, comforts and quiets America’s once-boisterous spirit.
- National Mounted Police ensure order beyond urban enclaves.
- Restrictive immigration laws have been enacted.
- They in particular exclude foreignborn Jews.
- Negroes have been resettled to the independent Negro state of Suanee, located where parts of Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi used to be.
- White residents of those areas have been in turn resettled to Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Oklahoma.
- An accord has been reached with the Indians.
- As part of the arrangement, they comprise elite cavalry units in the army.
- Mainline Christian denominations including Catholics, have been subsumed into one ecumenical faith after a landmark Congress Of Religions. A popular slogan, which most people take at face value, claims that this development put an end to bigotry.
- Though still a part of the union, California remains a bastion of resistance against the new tranquility - Jews, ethnics, intellectuals and other outcasts have fled there to escape the tide of cultural conformity.
- Epitomizing the growth of enlightened social values has been rising demand not only for a repeal of anti-suicide laws, but for a government infrastructure to aid those who wish to end their lives.
- When the laws were repealed, only a small number of people took advantage of them.
- The absence of these malcontents from the public sphere is widely thought a pivotal factor in the new tranquility.
Alternate 1920s New York
Furthermore, details about the alternative 1920s New York are as follows:
- Through extensive urban renewal, New York has transformed to a clean, beautiful and ostentatiously orderly city. Regrettable signs of foreign culture have been systematically scrubbed away.
- Trees line New York’s widened boulevards.
- Streets are wider, well paved and lighted.
- Public squares appear throughout the city with enlightened regularity.
- Elevated train lines have been demolished, replaced with underground roads.
- Signs of government authority are omnipresent in the city’s new geography, in the form of neoclassical buildings and sturdy military barracks.
- The stone quays that formerly surrounded Manhattan are now parks.
- As part of the great beautification, shabby establishments favored by foreigners, like French or Italian cafes and restaurants, were torn down.
- As in our 1920, temperance laws have gone into effect.
- But gentlemen of good background can naturally secure quality brandy, if they do so discreetly.
Alternate 1920s Characters
In order of appearance:
- Osgood Oswald Vance, a cashier at Seaforth National Bank
- Wilson Osgood Vance, president of Seaforth National Bank, Osgood's uncle
- Mrs Tilden, supervisor at the stenography pool
- Hazel Starkweather, a 'matronly stenographer'
- 'Harry', Hazel Starkweather's protective nephew
- “Diamond Dan” Bartlett, a creditor and finely dressed thug
- Augustus Foxhall, Superintendent of Public Morals
- The Twentieth Dragoon Regiment
- Louis Castaigne, lieutenant of the Twentieth Dragoon Regiment
- Lance Corporal Claud Burling, a cavalryman of the Twentieth Dragoon Regiment
- Arnold Steylette, owner and editor-inchief of The Great New York
- Mr. Wilde, repairer of reputations
- Mr. Wilde's cat
- Mr. Wilde's network
- Mr. Hawberk, armorer (and possibly the Marquis of Avonshire, England)
- Constance, Hawberk's daughter and Louis Castaigne's fiance
- Hildred Castaigne, deluded and arrogant antagonist
- Doctor Archer, Hildred's doctor (deceased)
Alternate 1920s Mythos
The following facts about the play - and connected elements - can be discovered:
- Even as the city grows ever safer and more beautiful, copies of this accursed tome proliferate.
- Many young gentlemen of good families fall prey to its wiles, succumbing to unhygienic habits and general moral decline. They wind up in asylums, or die from yphilis or opiate consumption.
- In the past months, persons arrested for various crimes have been found carrying pieces of paper inscribed with the Yellow Sign. The Superintendent of Public Morals has never been able to prove it—or in fact get even the simplest of charges to stick against them—but is sure a vast conspiracy is afoot.
- One of these suspects turned informant, implicating a Mr. Wilde of Bleecker Street as their superior.
- Before the Superintendent could stage a raid on Wilde’s apartment, the commissioner of police intervened, demanding that he surrender all of his files and allow another agency to investigate. Since then nothing has happened.