As our intrepid expedition members set to see, their journey takes them from the Atlantic Ocean through the Panama Canal to the great Pacific Ocean and south towards Australia.
A few choice shots of The Gabrielle passing through the Panama Canal.
There's no traversing the world without a proper map, and Stanford's General Map of The World from 1922 is just the ticket, especially because it comes in an outrageously high resolution for all your printing or online VTT purposes.
The hotel where Commander J. B. Douglas stayed while he was in New York, The Westbury Hotel, was located on Scammel Street. A nice bit of research on the part of the BtMoM authors (I had to research it myself to figure out where it was supposed to be), since Scammel Street was one of several streets that were torn down in the 30s, to be replaced with Vladeck Park Houses, built in 1940.
All that remains of this street today is a path through that housing complex.
Strange things are afoot in the world of Antarctic expeditions, and our stalwart explorers set about figuring out what exactly is going on that is causing them so much trouble.
Here's a look at my 15" MacBook Pro and 27" Thunderbolt Display during a game. I use my 27" as my primary display, on which I have the 2nd edition manuscript open (which I've highlighted and annotated as needed), a 'todo' list for the chapter(s) we're playing, Skype (which I wish I could turn into a much smaller horizontal strip), Chrome with Roll20 open and Call Recorder for Skype running.
On the MacBook to my left, I have the soundboard and Nicecast, which is broadcasting the Soundboard audio stream (I don't really need that open) and finally Numbers, with my investigator matrix, where I can quickly look up the stats for all the investigators.
The crew (not counting the six player characters) of the 1933 Starkweather-Moore Expedition.
When we were going through the manifests, the question about what exactly the caustic soda was being brought along for? So I wrote Chaz Engan, who wrote me back that: "Caustic soda is intended to absorb CO2 in the air renewal systems when flying at altitude".
So there you have it. It's also what Tyler Durden uses to mark the hand of the narrator in Fight Club, should that sort of thing somehow come in handy.
Double whammy, as the keeper talks through his prep and execution of the second and third sessions.
The expedition members begin the arduous task of auditing the manifests, and discover that all is not as it should be. A strange note arrives, a noted sea captain is found dead and a package disappears under mysterious circumstances.
A few snapshots from the session:
The keeper talks through his experience of preparing to run Beyond the Mountains of Madness, and how the character generation and first session came together.
And so here it is, the first episode of the session recordings, in which the investigators are hired by the Starkweather-Moore Expedition, do some initial research, and finally meet up in New York as the expedition readies for the long journey southward.
The sound quality is at times questionable, due in part to Skype, and in part to my recording myself from the wrong microphone. Apologies, it gets better by session 2.
I found this schematic of professor Frank H. Pabodie's drilling rig used by the Miskatonic University Expedition, and in particular by Lake's party near the mountains, in their finding of the fossil caves. I aged it a bit, but beyond that I cannot take any credit for it.
The Amherst Hotel in New York was where Starkweather and Moore set up their temporary headquarters as the expedition readied for departure, renting out the 4th and 5th floors. Seeing as I live in New York, I made it my business to go there and walk around the neighborhood (as well as walk the distance down to Pier 74, to get a good feeling for how far away it is from the hotel; about 23 minutes as it were).
One of the big inspiration for At the Mountains of Madness was Admiral Byrd's first Antarctic expedition from 1928 to 1930, from which Lovecraft drew many details that he would transplant onto the Miskatonic University Expedition. Byrd wrote a 100-page piece for National Geographic Magazine, which was published in August 1930 as The Conquest of Antarctica By Air. It's listed in Beyond the Mountains of Madness on page 14 under 'More Reading'.
Issues are available on eBay all the time, starting at around a mere $6 (my copy is from there). But you can also download it as a 172-page PDF, which although lacking in resolution, will give you a way to read Byrd's extensive details on the expedition without adding yet another book to your library.
Here's a period correct map from cirka early 1930s of Manhattan and surrounding areas. Click through for print-ready size.
Above is a photo of Pier 74, as it appeared in 1951; in all likelihood not so different from how it appeared in 1933 when the Starkweather-Moore Expedition's ship The Gabrielle lay there before it's southward journey. And lo and behold, the ship moored there is even at a glance reminiscent of The Gabrielle (although the Gabrielle was of course moored on the the north-side, Pier 74-B).
After intaking copious amounts of Christmas food, I figured it was time to get out and about a bit, so I set about visiting the former home of Pier 74. The pier, as can be seen in the map below, is just off of 34th street on the Hudson River, although today it along with most of the other piers along Manhattan are gone, and in its place is a parking lot and of course water. Pier 76 still stands and is today home to the New York City Police Tow Impound, but beyond that there isn't much of interest to see here. Should you happen to be visiting New York ComicCon, it's a short stroll from the convention center down to the water.
Peculiarly, according to Beyond the Mountains of Madness, Pier 74 had rail tracks for unloading from train cars, although this map, which must therefor be incorrect, does not show them.
While our game takes place entirely over Roll20 thanks to our geographic diversity, I nevertheless feel compelled to collect artefacts relating to the story both for my own amusement, but even at a distance to instill a sense of 'it could have been'. This commemorative coin from the Miskatonic University Antarctic Expedition is at the same time amazing simply because of its distinct air of authenticity (although being 81 years old, it could do with some dinging up, but now we're just nitpicking), yet it is also completely pointless.
At $25 it's a little expensive for something which at least with regards to this campaign, can't really be used as a prop anyway, at least beyond 'here's a box of leftover stuff from the previous expedition'. There's no faulting the quality of the coin itself though, which is quite frankly perfect. The 3D effect created by the embossing is above and beyond what you could reasonably expect from something as fringe as this. The front shows the Dornier aircraft used by the expedition surrounded by the words 'Miskatonic University Antarctic Expedition 1930 - 1931', and the back shows the Miskatonic and the Arkham approaching the Ross Ice Shelf, and on both sides the names of the expedition leaders, Pabodie, Lake, Atwood and Dyer, are listed around it.
So. Why? Why buy this? Why does it even exist?
Well, if you've been possessed by the ice, and you're driven by haunting nightmares of immense black peaks against a white infinite horizon, you'll know why.