The Old Bank

A Trail of Cthulhu location

Residents of Arkham have taken to referring to the abandoned building near the corner of Alliance Street and Whitston Road simply as the Old Bank. Though the signs have been taken down, any local historian can tell you that it was originally incorporated as Mather and Sons, and went out of business as The Mather, Ennis, and Comstock Beneficial Banking Corporation. Like many small banks it met its demise from a bank run in the Depression’s first panicked months. Board chairman Gabriel Ennis and manager Elihu Comstock departed without forwarding addresses shortly after its collapse. Or so the most logical story has it.

The bank building has since sat unused, a sticking point in a complicated receivership tied up by competing creditors. What might become of it when its ownership is finally untangled remains an open question. Certainly no one wants to start up a new bank these days, much less in a place that reminds customers of their disastrous losses.

Even while solvent the bank projected a dolorous mood over the surrounding Arkham streets. Founded by a descendant of witch-hunter Cotton Mather, it loaned money to ship builders and at one point owned extensive property in the salt-coarsened, decaying town of Innsmouth. Some say that its founder constructed a second, secret vault under the main one. More colorful versions of the rumor imagine that it contained a pirate treasure. Or perhaps the manuscript of a secret book Cotton Mather was unable to publish after his participation in the witch trials tarnished his reputation.

Late at night, when no good soul walks the downtown streets, drunks and reprobates report activity within its walls. Sounds and lights emanating from within, they say. Surely these claims stem from the febrile imaginings to which weak men are prone. The bank’s doors remain securely locked, and would require the effort of seasoned persons of action to open. Police officials assure the citizens of Arkham that when called to the scene they never find anything awry.

Those with an ear for the eerie may hear the wildest of many yarns spun about the Old Bank. As the story goes, the patriarch of a backwoods farming clan—or in some versions, the degenerate heir of a hellish shipbuilding empire—took unkindly to the losses of his savings in the bank’s collapse. Allegedly familiar with the ancient secrets of alchemy and worse, this angry debtor called upon forces mightier than the civil courts of Massachusetts. Ennis and Comstock didn’t flee the city, but were swallowed up by an ebon thing with beating wings and a pulsing, tooth-filled maw. The keys, they say, fell into the hands of this entity’s summoner, who now and then uses the bank to perform protective rituals to keep the beast quiescent.

But of course that is mere fancy and the Old Bank is nothing but an abandoned place of business, sitting there bleak and empty, waiting to be converted to offices or perhaps an insurance company.

Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning 1930s horror roleplaying game by Kenneth Hite, produced under license from Chaosium. Whether you’re playing in two-fisted Pulp mode or sanity-shredding Purist mode, its GUMSHOE system enables taut, thrilling investigative adventures where the challenge is in interpreting clues, not finding them. Purchase Trail of Cthulhu and its many supplements and adventures in the Pelgrane Shop.

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