Actual Play: The Art of Madness Part II

The Art of Madness is an adventure from the anthology The House of R'lyeh, written by Brian Courtemanche.

Setting: Boston, Mass. Wednesday, December 1, 1920


  • Earl Crowley - Antiquarian settled in Arkham
  • Jordaine Furst - Strasbourg-born Great War spy for France
  • Fredrick Tardiff - Great War veteran, Kingsport artist


In the basement they saw a closed shaft in the floor. Hiding for some time they saw the shaft open from below, a rubbery hand emerging and grabbing it. As they ran to the shaft to attempt tracking it, it heard them and leapt back up - a hideous ghoul, about to strike! A confused melee and firefight broke out. Furst and Crowley opened fire on it while Tardiff swung a makeshift club he'd found in the debris in the basement. It was a dangerous foe and none of them were warriors. Though bloodied, they wounded it enough to drive it into the tunnels. In the chaos Thurber had run off.

Before venturing down there themselves they made for a hardware store and equipped themselves - flashlights, shotguns, and dynamite. They then went into the tunnel beneath the North End. At the bottom of the shaft they found an Art Club pin, as worn by one of the missing, Jason Davies. They also found some drying blood from the ghoul they had wounded. Trailing it through the tunnels they found themselves wandering through a combination of ancient smuggling tunnels and sewers, eventually transitioning into natural - and narrow tunnels.

Eventually, after some very tense hours, they reached a strange underground classroom/studio. A ghoul was teaching three students on the art of depicting death. The three were the missing from the School of the Museum of Fine Art. The ghoul, wearing a rather ridiculous beret, barked at the investigators to be quiet, for they might learn something. He introduced himself as "Professor" Pickman - presumably he was the "Peters" Thurber had referred to. Davies, catching the investigators' attention, quickly wrote "HELP US" on his canvas before painting over it. Thinking quickly, Crowley lifted his shotgun and blew Pickman's head off. Shrieking from the tunnels around them revealed they had attracted the attention of more ghouls. They placed dynamite at all the tunnels save the one they'd be using to escape. Davies and Hall came quite willingly but Wilson's sanity had been somewhat shattered - she wanted to stay down to learn. Tardiff and Furst dragged her out as Crowley detonated the dynamite. They fled their way to the surface, being chased the entire time.

Eventually they found their way blocked by numerous ghouls - ghouls they opened fire on. Again surviving an onslaught, somewhat worse for wear, they drove them back into the tunnels - though as they fled one promised "we'll be watching you on the trains!"

Davies and Hall were able to return to their previous lives, though Wilson had to be institutionalized. Tardiff did get the Museum to show some of his work, a cause for some celebration (and additional finances).


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