After about a year, I’ve finally got the gaming group back to playing Hollow Earth Expedition. This time, the intrepid adventurers are returning home to New York CIty after their China adventures to sell the artifacts they’ve collected. We also introduced Tom Steele, private dick — a surprisingly fun character. He’s a former NYPD detective who is dying from emphysema (and doesn’t know, yet.)

The game started out with Steele doing a job for Ciro Terranova, the disgraced “Artichoke King” who is looking for juice to get back in charge of the 116th Street Crew that is now run by “Trigger Mike” Coppola for Luciano. He’s been hired to take pics of a city councilman engaging in the usual nasty sex-for-hire thing Steele deals with. Except the councilman is Trigger Mike’s guy. He is confronted by a couple of goons from the Mason Tenders 47 union, here to teach him a lesson, and it led to one of my dream fights — and didn’t disappoint!

Steele decides to crash through the one-way mirror above the councilman’s bed to avoid the 10lb. sledges that bad guys are wielding and manages to get a hold of one. That’s right, the scene I’ve wanted in an RPG since seeing Street of Fire all those years ago finally happened: sledgehammer fight! Steele has a bit of trouble due to his emphysema, but he managed to fight these guys down a set of stairs and into an alley before winning. It was fast, dangerous, and fun!

Then we cut to the arrival of Dr. Hannibal Drake and Jack MacMahon in NYC. There was some character stuff with Drake’s grad advisor/mentor, they drop off the mellified men they found, and stop by Jack’s apartment on Upper Park West…to find it being tossed by goons. There’s another great fight using the environment (something I liked seeing in Haywire [see today’s quick review]) with heavy glass ashtrays being used as bludgeoning weapons, Tiffany floot lamps, art deco metal naked lady table sculptures…it was funny and magnificent. We were off to a great start.

Steele gets hired by a limey, a Special Branch guy and fellow Mason. He needs help finding a journal of research from a murdered Scottihs lord, that Jack’s uncle Mike (also murdered for it) sent to the States. The British flatfoot knows it went to Jack. They link up with the other two characters right after the fight. The journal would have been mailed to his PO box nearby. They arrange to meet and retrieve it the next morning.

The English cop doesn’t know the full story, just that it has something to do with a missing Illuminati treasure from 1776 that was hidden in the United States. Drake is hooked! Jack is too; his uncle was murdered! Steele is a Mason and this involves the Brotherhood, so he’s in…

We ended there. Let the ride begin!