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1/15/2024 1:37 pm  #1

Occult investigations in 1930s LA

This is a long post detailing the events of 2 Hollywood Pulse games – run with Everywhen.

Hollywood Pulse is an episodic campaign set in 1930s LA, featuring my wife Alison's PC, Judy Katz - a Hollywood gossip columnist (her column is called 'Hollywood Pulse'); and her husband, my PC, Tom Spencer - a private investigator. Alison runs games for Tom and I run games for Judy - both of whom keep coming across occult and supernatural threats in Tinsel Town and the surrounding area.

What follows was originally posted on MeWe.]Our penultimate game of 2023 was run by my wife Alison. It was a Hollywood Pulse game where my P.I. Tom Spencer was trying to find a young accountant who had gone missing in L.A. in March 1937. After talking to several people and generally nosing around, Tom realised that Ralph Nargle was probably being held somewhere in the office building where he worked.

Tom found Ralph, who was bound to an iron bedstead in the basement and had been starved, beaten, and generally tortured. Tom assumed he had found out something off in the accounts of one of his powerful clients and the company had agreed to cover this up. But although Ralph was delirious and not making much sense, he did say that his captor was the mistress of the head of the company. The motive appeared to be one of sexual sadism, probably to end with Ralph’s death.

Freeing Ralph and dropping him off at hospital, the next morning Tom and his pal, LAPD cop Todd Carter went to the swish apartment of the mistress to arrest her. They thought the company boss, who clearly had colluded with Ralph’s treatment, could wait until later.

Now Hollywood Pulse is primarily a game of occult investigations, but Alison sometimes runs non-supernatural ‘mundane’ games, which this appeared to be.I should have known.Imagine Tom and Todd’s surprise when the lovely exotic beauty suddenly transformed into a cackling djinn who was wielding a red-hot iron chain as a flail!

Lucky old Tom had a slight reprieve when Todd caught the first flail attack and collapsed to the floor with a broken left arm, smashed ribs, and a burnt suit jacket. However, thinking it was only a simple arrest of a sadistic psycho, Tom had only packed his Colt .32 automatic, rather than his .45 revolver. The .32 didn’t stop her.

Tom caught a blow with the chain, but it wasn’t such a good strike as the djinn managed to inflict on poor Todd. However, Todd was still able to empty his .38 into the monster from the floor as Tom finally managed a flow of lead into the critter. The djinn fell to the floor and changed back into her guise as a beautiful (if now badly shot-up) dead woman.

The powerful client who Tom had originally suspected of being involved in a cover-up hired a healed Ralph Nagle as his personal accountant – Ralph needed the job, as in the aftermath of the scandal the company was sold to a rival who promptly shut it down.

So…the first game of this year was another Hollywood Pulse run by Alison. The powerful client from the previous Hollywood Pulse game, Marcus Lasky, came to Tom needing help. He went to a fortune teller at Christmas who had told him he was going to be in mortal peril in the coming Spring of 1937. In the last couple of months there had been a series of increasingly nasty incidents.

Lasky suspected that behind it all was his old business partner, Peter Lazlo, now a bitter rival with who he had been feuding since their parting of the ways in 1934.

The first weird incident was a group of high class call girls turning up at his house on night. As Lasky lived with both his wife and his mother, this had been deeply embarrassing. Then he was convinced that a car tried to run him down in February. Then in March a bullet smacked into his front door as he bent down to pick up an envelope left on his doorstep. The envelope contained a tarot card – The Lover.

This morning, April 1st, he received a parcel at work. The parcel contained a dead rat and a tarot card – Justice.

While Lasky was convinced it was his old partner, Tom teased out two other possible suspects. Lasky had been in a relationship with an actress called Katherine Maxwell for just over a year, before ending it in the Fall of 1936. He had tossed her out of the plush apartment he had paid for and now she lived in a boarding house in a poorer part of town.

Also, Lasky had been involved in a lawsuit brought by a ‘nutty limey dame’ called Elizabeth Darcy. She had money and lived in a suite at the expensive Biltmore Hotel. She was a poet and totally nuts according to Lasky. Part of his business is as a ‘fixer’ in L.A. and Darcy had paid him to secure her a drink with Clark Gable at Perino’s. Gable owed Lasky a favour so he was happy to oblige – until Darcy started reading Clark her terrible poetry whereupon he downed his cocktail and left as soon as he could. So the eccentric Englishwoman sued Lasky for failing to provide the service he promised.

First off, Tom asked his wife Judy who was the most expensive and select brothel keeper in L.A. (his knowledge of such establishments was limited to the sleazier end of the market). So he ended up having a coffee with Madame Genevieve at her establishment on Beverly Boulevard. She confirmed the young ladies who went to Lasky’s house were sent by her, and they had been hired by a young woman who paid in cash (not cheap), who she had assumed was Lasky’s employee.

This led to a visit to the actress, Katherine Maxwell. She confirmed that she had hired the call girls using money provided by Peter Lazlo. She confirmed this had been Lazlo’s idea and that Lazlo had contacted her out of the blue. On further questioning she admitted that she had been driving the car that nearly ran Lasky down. Again, it was Lazlo’s idea and he had been in the car with her. It was only supposed to scare Lasky but her foot had slipped on the accelerator and came down hard – it was a genuine accident – and although Lazlo thought it was hilarious, she wanted no more to do with his harassment of Lasky and hasn’t had any contact with Lazlo since.

Tom then went to the Public Library and identified a small, up and coming poetry publisher, and took a note of some of their authors. Then back in his office he made up a business card in the name of Jasper Norman, a representative of Wilmington Press. Then he went to the Biltmore Hotel.

The meeting with the English poet Elizabeth Darcy was painful in the extreme. Tom had to agree with Lasky that the woman was totally nuts. Tom posed as a representitive of  the small publishing house. After paying for her breakfast in the restaurant (it was 2.00pm) he went to her suite where she proceeded to recite her terrible poetry. While expressing admiration for her verse, he explained he had to be sure that there was no scandal attached to her name, before he could recommend that Wilmington offered to publish her poems. She started to prattle on as Tom threw the two tarot cards onto the coffee table, “Do these ring any bells with you?”

Darcy was totally and genuinely confused about the cards until she thought that ‘The Lover’ meant that Tom wanted to sleep with her. Tom hurriedly made his excuses and left, promising to sent her a draft publishing contract asap. She clearly had nothing to do with the Lasky case.

So that left Peter Lazlo.Laslo’s office was actually across the street from Lasky’s office – Laslo’s choice. So Tom went there to confront Laslo and tell him he had to stop the increasingly dangerous physical harassment of his old business partner. Lazlo’s P.A. said that Lazlo was across the street having a meeting with Lasky.Tom had been told that Lasky and Lazlo never met – the most they did was snarl at one another from across the room if they were both in the same expensive restaurant. He suddenly had a bad feeling about this (Copywrite Han Solo).

Tom ran across the street and burst into Lasky’s office. Lasky was gagged and bound in his chair and Laslo was waving a gun in his face. Laslo turned a pointed his pistol at Tom and fired – missing – as Tom haued out his .45.

Tom hit him in his gun arm (Precision Strike) but screaming, Laslo charged Tom. So Tom shot him in the leg (Precision Strike) and Lazlo fell at his feet, still alive. Then Lazlo punched Tom in the nuts! Damn!!

Tom kicked him in the face and then kicked the murderous businessman in the head, knocking him out.Lasky’s secretary phoned for an ambulance and the cops while Tom freed Lasky.

It had been a non-supernatural 'mundane' case.

I should have guessed.

Last edited by Gruntfuttock (1/15/2024 1:45 pm)

My real name is Steve Hall

1/20/2024 6:56 pm  #2

Re: Occult investigations in 1930s LA

Cool campaign, thanks for sharing this entertaining write-up!


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