Two of my players just completed a Call of Cthulhu scenario I’ve written called Love to Hate set in 1929 Chicago. This is a sequel to the fantastic Love You to Death featured in Does Love Forgive? written and edited by Lynne Hardy, Airis Kamińska and Anna Maria Mazur. Love You to Death was a single player scenario which, in our campaign, left a loose end, brought to a conclusion in this sequel with a second investigator tagging along for the ride.
During the scenario the investigators needed to trace the whereabouts of a missing Chinese laundryman. They ended up at the fictional Xi’an Palace restaurant in the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown. This was an establishment owned by Madam Long, leader of the infamous (again fictional) Dragon Tong who controlled most of Chicago’s Chinatown.
During this penultimate scene I wanted a face-off with a confident NPC with a solid Pulp vibe. The two investigators strode into the restaurant and demanded to see Madam Long. She then made her entrance…
You turn around to see an elegant Chinese lady striding towards you, followed by a huddle of men. She is wearing a long black silk dress embroidered with a gold Chinese dragon. The men look like ruffians with scarred faces, neck tattoos, cheap suits. A few are clearly carrying weapons with pistols and machetes tucked into their belts.
The woman lifts a hand and one of the men places a cigarette between her two outstretched fingers. Another man lights it with a match. She waves them away.
She places the cigarette between her lips and inhales, the tip glowing brightly for a moment. Then she blows out a smoke ring, and asks, in a crisp British accent, “Who are you? Why are you nosing around?”
Heavy on the tropes, but this is Pulp Cthulhu, right?
My players loved her. One of the investigators–Lloyd, a slim ‘businessman’ with a knack for jimmying locks–he fluffed a social roll and Madam Long said something like, “Pretty boy, go play whilst the women talk.” The remaining investigator–Betty, a Private Investigator–she sat down for a chat and an opposed Charm vs Psychology roll which actually panned out in her favour (with some Luck, if I remember rightly).
Feel free to introduce Madam Long into your own Call of Cthulhu campaign, either as a villain or ally, or perhaps a little of both…
leader of the Dragon Tong
|STR 40||CON 50||SIZ 50||DEX 50||INT 80|
|APP 70||POW 60||EDU 60||SAN 60||HP 10|
|DB: 0||Build: 0||Move: 8||MP: 12|
|Attacks per round: 1|
|Brawl||40% (20/8), damage 1D3|
|Derringer (1B)||40% (20/8), damage 1D6|
Skills: Credit Rating 70%, Fast Talk 50%, Intimidate 60%, Language (Cantonese) 60%, Language (English) 60%, Law 60%, Listen 50%, Psychology 60%, Spot Hidden 50%, Occult 40%
Madam Long is the leader of the infamous Dragon Tong, a criminal gang which controls most of Chinatown. She uses a variety of otherwise legitimate businesses as a cover to run her gang’s illegal activities: opium dealing, unlicensed gambling, people trafficking, protection rackets, and a few speakeasies on the side.
Madam Long was born in Hong Kong, her father was a dealer in the British-Chinese opium trade. She received a private education from a British governess. She speaks English with a crisp British accent.
Pulp this NPC by doubling her hit points and adding the Scary and Strong Willed talents from the Pulp Cthulhu rulebook (p.25/26).
Behind the Scenes
The striking lady in the photo I’ve used has an interesting history. This is Anna May Wong, a Chinese actress active in the early Hollywood years from the 1920s onwards. Her film career stretched through to the 60s, though she faced a fair few difficulties early on with such obstacles as the Hays Code. Anna was often referred to as the ‘Dragon Lady’. You can see I’ve used ‘Dragon Tong’ as the name of the criminal gang and the word ‘Long’ can also mean ‘dragon’. But be careful with the phrase ‘Dragon Lady’ as its use is potentially pejorative. For me, it means strength, power and authority.