The Chair in the Attic

A scenario hook for Cthulhu Confidential

Embittered washout businessman Ralph Dillion approaches hardboiled Los Angeles detective Dex Raymond hoping he will dig up evidence to support a gnawing theory. For years Dillion has struggled to establish himself in this city of fast-risers. Whether it’s real estate, oil, or finance, all of his surefire opportunities have been stymied by the fat cats at the top.

“L.A.’s corrupt, sure. Everyone knows that. I’d grease the wheels if I knew where to find them. What burns me is the mugs who get too lucky, understand?”

Dillion has met more than his share of crumb-bums in his years of struggling. But lately something odd has been happening. Previously unconnected lowlifes of his acquaintance have started rubbing elbows, showing up at parties and whooping it up. Formerly skint, they’re now flush with cash and decked out in the latest fashions. The titans of the town, from newspaper editors to bankers to studio heads, suddenly toast them and toss business their way. They even seem magnetic to Ralph now, when none of them had a nickel’s worth of charm before.

Ralph can see only one answer for this: blackmail. Somehow they’ve all hooked up into a ring dealing in dirt, learning secrets and earning payoffs. That’s where Dex comes in. If they’re committing crimes to get ahead, Ralph wants them exposed, so a halfway honest guy has at least a halfway chance in this town.

Tell the player, in the role of Dex, that he suspects Ralph would love to be cut in on whatever this is. But since Ralph isn’t coming out and saying it, Dex can honorably take his money and not do that.

Ralph says there may be other members of the group but names several newfound swells in particular:

  • former numbers runner Budd Gaulladet, now Junior Vice President of the Saint Gabriel Bank.
  • singer Sherry Garson, who has gone from hat check girl and occasional confederate in the badger game to top billing at the Cocoanut Grove.
  • erstwhile flophouse landlady Nina Hund, now treated as some kind of society dame, like she comes from family money or something.
  • boozehound soda jerk turned oil executive Cy Magrill.

    Dex might start looking for blackmail but finds a weirder explanation for their elevation in stature. They’ve all undergone the Pnakotic Process at the hands of chiropractor Eustace Moorhouse. Recently restored to control of his body after Yithian possession, Moorhouse retained enough hazy memory of his occupier’s activities to devise his Special Adjustment Chair. This tortuous pseudo-medical device realigns a patient’s energy centers, granting the formerly jinxed cosmic-grade luck and an aura of command. Only specially vetted patients, the ones he absolutely knows he can keep on the hook, get to trudge up to his secret attic second office for a session of stretching in the chair.

This comes at two costs.

One, Moorhouse takes a cut of all income his patients earn above the pittances they were formerly making.

Two, the realignment wears off after a while, and can only be renewed by killing and eating a living thing that someone else loves.

So far the four beneficiaries have confined themselves to making off with beloved pets, but those are surprisingly hard to catch. Cy has already purchased butcher’s supplies and kitted out a secret lair for the preparation of more advanced prey.

The Pnakotic Process is a secret any of them, including Moorhouse, will kill to keep. Can Dex take them off the streets of L.A. before the mayhem really begins?

GUMSHOE One-2-One retunes, rebuilds and re-envisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set for one player, and one GM. Together, the two of you create a story that evokes the classic solo protagonist mystery format of classic detective fiction. Can’t find a group who can play when you can? Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience? Play face to face with GUMSHOE One-2-One—or take advantage of its superb fit with virtual tabletops and play online. Purchase Cthulhu Confidential and other GUMSHOE One-2-One products in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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