My advice is to give them a few small victories. For instance, give them a human villain with a few minor supernatural abilities to defeat. In defeating the villain (especially if they can take him or her alive and can interrogate him or her, or look through the person's diaries) the characters can learn something about the setting. This could help them feel like they have a foothold to advance from, instead of being dropped completely into the middle of the unknown. I'd say its also good to give them some room to explore their own powers.
Another piece of advice: when the characters have sensible plans, and are working in an area they are competent in, don't make them roll. Just assume that it worked. That can prevent the "hmm, they rolled a 1, now what do I do?" moment. It sounds like you may have done that when it came to James' plan to get into the Buchannan house. Of course, that doesn't help in combat.
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