Call of Cthulhu (2020-05 to ?) notes

This campaign is ongoing and this memo contains spoilers.

Player characters

  • Rachel Summers: librarian (scholar). A recent high school graduate, who was inspired to a love of books by her school’s librarian. Rachel is a bit of a bookworm, particularly focussing on nonfiction, with a good working knowledge of Latin and biology.

    1921 update: Rachel has suppressed the memory of freeing Gla’aki and causing the destruction of Scotland, and is a bit unstable because of it.

  • Penelope Temple: librarian / parapsychologist (cult leader). A co-worker of Rachel’s, though she didn’t always work in the library. Penelope and her now-deceased husband were once burglars, until one fateful job which ended in the foiled robbery of a secret society’s headquarters and the death (or, at least, disappearance) of her husband Percival.

    1921 update: Penelope has risen through the ranks of the Silver Twilight Lodge and caused a schism, leaving her librarian job to head a new cult centred around Gla’aki.

  • Kintsugi Ikehara: laborer (outsider). A mixed-race Japanese/Peruvian daughter of an immigrant eking out a living with her mother, her only relative. Kints wants an out from her poor life.

Retired

  • Alton “Dill” Dillinger: Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks - U.S. Department of the Interior. Formerly a senator for the state of Pennsylvania, he fell from public favour by opposing U.S. entry into the First World War. He did not win re-election. Perhaps out of pity, perhaps just trying to get him out of the way, political friends of his arranged for him to have a rather unimportant and out-of-the-way position.

Notable possessions

  • Penelope’s spooky book: which she stole in the job which claimed Percival. On the surface it appears to be a regular book of fairy tales, but they’re rather darker and more grim than usual. The book is bound in a type of leather Penelope has not been able to identify.

  • Code book: found in a safe in Howard’s study. A key to have an encrypted telegram exchange with Dr. Armitage.

  • Copious notes on the Revelations of Gla’aki: made during their stay with Dr. Armitage.

Spell list

  • Known spells:
    • Penelope:
      • Contact Gla’aki
    • Rachel:
      • Contact Nyarlathotep
      • Shrivelling
      • Elder Sign

Rulings

  • Dominate can be cast on a PC through a Contact Deity link.

MoN Peru Arc Lore

Kharisiri have Strigoi-like (i.e. from The Strain) flesh-tentacles to drain fat. They only use their mouth to “kiss” and transfer a larva.

Gla’aki Arc Lore

Notable NPCs

  • William and Robert Brophy: Servants of Gla’aki, on the loose somewhere in New England with an Avatar of Gla’aki.

  • Howard Carter: contact from Penelope’s criminal days, who poses as an author. Was investigating the spines for Penelope, later found dead. Seems he knows more about this sort of thing than Penelope initially suspected.

  • Dr. Clayton Armitage: contact of Howard’s, he knows something about the spines and their power. Leads the “UK branch” of the Silver Twilight Lodge, though it’s just a country house with a handful of other members.

  • Carl Stanford: leader of the Silver Twilight Lodge. “Carl” and “the Lodge” were mentioned in Howard and Dr. Armitage’s telegrams.

Gla’aki and its cult

Gla’aki is Loch Morar, which was created by the impact of the crystal prison. The cult is widespread throughout Scotland, extending as far south as the Yorkshire Dales.

The cult consists solely of undead Servants of Gla’aki, which are little more than mind-controlled puppets.

The cult has difficulty spreading around the world because Gla’aki cannot leave the loch, and its fluid and spines drastically lose potency as soon as they are removed from its body, so creating new Servants elsewhere is difficult. Gla’aki can create Avatars even from this weak fluid, but it takes years for an Avatar to become capable of creating Servants.

There is an Avatar in Derwentwater in the Lake District and in Lough Leane in Ireland. The spines that the gang retrieved from the Squatter’s Lake Motel are inferior spines from a still-growing Avatar.

Furthermore, in the centuries during which Gla’aki slumbers, it cannot create new Servants, so the cult inevitably shrinks as Servants pass away due to accidents. All of the current Avatars and Servants were created during Gla’aki’s current period of wakefulness, which has lasted for 90 years.

There are two remaining shards of the crystal prison. If these are taken to Gla’aki (or an Avatar) he can free himself. They’re in Pingualuit crater in Quebec and in a university in Costa Rica.

The Silver Twilight Lodge

Founded and lead by Carl Stanford, the STL is a fraternal organisation based in Boston, Massachusettes, which purports to investigate the occult and unexplained. It’s not a secret society, though it is a “society with secrets” and is relatively small and unknown.

Members vary in how much they know and how much they believe. Most members have at least some belief in the reality of the occult, though they know very little. Carl Stanford and those close to him more than just believe: they know this stuff to be the truth, and they have a great deal of knowledge. Any artefacts and tomes which the STL gains possession of are only available for extended study by this core group.

While the STL appears to be a purely investigative organisation, Carl Stanford and a few of his closest associates are using it to further the aims of alien gods.

Dr. Armitage is the leader of the UK branch of the Lodge. He considers himself a good friend of Carl Stanford, though Carl is concealing the true purpose of the Lodge from him. Carl has long ago realised that having honest people in positions of authority is very good for maintaining cover, as then if any rumours leak out, they react with genuine bafflement.

Questions: Dr. Armitage and Howard Carter

  • Why was Howard killed by a Servant by Dr. Armitage, who has more potent spines and has been examining them for longer, has not been?

    Dr. Armitage’s country house, where he does his experiments, is warded (a simple Elder Sign on every entrance and a more complex one in the lab). This means Gla’aki cannot mentally communicate with reanimated creatures inside the house. It also means Servants cannot easily enter, as Gla’aki has destroyed their minds and controls them like puppets.

  • Why did Dr. Armitage tell Howard things that would get him killed, without also telling him about the wards?

    Dr. Armitage doesn’t know that Gla’aki can track down reanimated creatures: he’s only ever done it inside his warded house. The Revelations of Gla’aki merely state that “once one has been turned to the Great Master, they serve as His eyes and ears”, which can easily be taken in a metaphorical sense, and that Servants just report back.

  • Why did Dr. Armitage send Howard volume 1 of the Revelations of Gla’aki?

    Dr. Armitage knew Howard wouldn’t have access to similar texts in the US branch of the STL due to his low status.

Questions: Dealing with Gla’aki

  • How can they seal away Gla’aki?

    Surround him with Elder Signs so he can’t control his Servants (they’ll become wild and animalistic without his will directing them).

    Or, surround him with a single Eye of Light and Darkness.

  • How can the Elder Sign solution be signalled?

    Have Penelope’s Gla’aki sense get cut off by Elder Signs.

  • Why didn’t Penelope notice this when she visited Danvers or the UK STL before?

    The sense is only gone in the immediate area around the Elder Sign. A mile away it begins to fade and half a mile away it is completely gone. The sense is in the background, so she doesn’t notice it fading if her mind is on other things. This is not a great answer, because I didn’t think of it before getting Elder Signs involved; we’ll just have to accept this small retcon.

  • How many Elder Signs would it take to surround Loch Morar?

  • That’s 250 POW to cut off Gla’aki! How can they get that much?

    Unknown! Figure this out later!

  • How can they get the Eye of Light and Darkness ritual?

    They can’t. They have to leave the Gla’aki problem unsolved and come back to it after learning the ritual during Masks of Nyarlathotep.

  • How can they free Gla’aki?

    Deliver crystals to him (or an Avatar), or seal the crystals away behind Elder Signs.

Gla’aki session 1, 2020-05-03

We played Servants of the Lake (in Doors to Darkness) as a one-shot. Then the players wanted to continue the investigation, so I had to turn this into a campaign.

I didn’t take any notes in the session, but the gist of it is that they found some zombies, ran away, and returned the next day to find the motel burned down, everyone and everything gone, and a large trail leading from the lake (as if something the size of a boat had been dragged out and into the forest).

The only hard evidence they found were some large metal spines.

Gla’aki session 2, 2020-05-17

Prep

Penelope sent some of the weird metal spines you found to a discrete acquaintance, Howard Carter, to have them examined. Howard sent frequent, excited, letters: the spines are biological, but don’t correspond to any earthly biology he knows of; when submerged in water they slowly convert it into a cloudy yellowish fluid; and this fluid, when injected into lab rats, kills them promptly but, after they are definitely dead, they undergo violent muscle spasms, sometimes even jumping and running for minutes.

Then the letters stopped.

Two weeks later, Penelope saw an obituary in the newspaper:

Handout: Obituary

Mr. Howard Carter—of Providence, Rhode Island—was discovered dead in his home by the local mailman. Mr Carter was an author known for his fantastical short stories sold to the literary magazines. The coroner has ruled this as a death by natural causes. Mr. Carter has no known living relatives so, in accordance with state law, if no heir comes forward in the next three months, by July 21st, his home and possessions will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The situation

  • HC had been corresponding with a Dr. Armitage in England via telegram about the spines:
    • Dr. Armitage and HC are both members of the Silver Twilight Lodge: a secret international society dedicated to the investigation of strange occurrences (Penelope did not know this)
    • These telegrams are in a hidden safe, along with the codebook to translate the telegrams, the remaining spines, and a Silver Twilight Lodge ring (silver signet ring with a house and full moon design).
    • In a rolodex on his desk is a business card for Carl Stanford, Purveyor of Antiquities and Rare Books
  • Gla’aki spotted what was going on, and where, because of the briefly-magically-reanimated rats.
  • HC was killed by servants of Gla’aki magically (he drowned while sat in his office)
  • The coroner just reported natural causes, because what else could he say? Nobody would accept “he drowned, despite being nowhere near a body of water, no evidence of water outside the body, and no signs of a struggle”
  • The house is currently empty. There are a few reanimated rats roaming around inside.

Handout: Signet Ring

A silver signet ring with the design showing a country house and a full moon.

Dr. Armitage and the telegrams

  • Dr. A. had encountered one of these spines before, found in Northumberland. It had the same property of stimulating corpses, but far more potent.
  • No idea where it came from originally, someone found it in an abandoned motel near a lake.
  • It’s got properties of both organic and inorganic materials, and neither seem of this world.
  • Since it kills and briefly reanimates anything it’s stabbed into, best guess is some sort of defence mechanism… but what sort of creature would grow spines like this he can’t even fathom a guess.

Handout: Telegrams to Dr. Armitage (summarised, translated)

It’s a conversation between the two men about the spines. Dr. Armitage has seen such things before: he has in his possession one found “somewhere in Northumberland, near a lake with an abandoned motel”.

Dr. Armitage has been investigating the spine for years but without much luck: he is the one who suggested Howard look into its chemical composition, try putting it in water, and try injecting the fluid into small animals. Your spines and Dr. Armitage’s spine seems to be the same sort of thing, but his is more potent: the injected mice seem to “live” for weeks after their deaths. He’s also successfully performed the procedure on cats, dogs, chickens, and one badger.

So far, Dr. Armitagehas been unable to fully analyse the fluid and determine what exactly it is doing. But he suspects that it doesn’t just cause muscle spasms which imitate life, he believes that it is actually reanimating the dead animals. This is apparently fairly clear to see when you have weeks to study a single specimen.

Occasionally they mention a “Carl” and “the Lodge”, it seems that they’re referring to sharing information with this Carl.

Carl Stanford and the Silver Twilight Lodge

  • Carl will acknowledge HC as an occasional customer (holding something back)
  • If shown the ring, he will tell about the Silver Twilight Lodge, describing it as an international society of ghost hunters and occultists - he’ll make it sound like kind of a game, rather than an ominous secret society
  • He knows everything that’s happened but won’t let on (he has a magic mirror with which he can spy on any room that contains a STL ring)
  • He can point the investigators to Dr. A
  • He’ll also offer membership. Joining is normally invitation-only but, since they knew HC and are evidently interested in this sort of thing… Membership is $1/mo, the conditions are to keep the society secret and to share any information they encounter, in retun Carl will pass on gossip to them.
  • Secretly, the STL has some of the spines and are trying to figure out how to control the zombies they create. But the investigators have no way to discover that.

Investigating the murder

The mailman:

  1. Neighbours can give his name and address: Mr. James Feist lives in a small house a few streets away with his wife and daughter.
  2. He’ll tell the investigators his story if they inform him they’re friends of Mr. Carter.

Mr. Feist’s Tale

I liked Mr. ‘oward, ’e’d often stop and chat wi’ me when I came ’round. ’E always ’ad parcels and letters coming from ’round the world: research for ’is stories ’e said.

Well one day I shows up with a parcel, and ’e ’adn’t collected the last lot from ’is doorstep yet. There were bottles of milk untouched too. “Well that’s a mite queer” I thought, “Mr ’oward ain’t the sort of man to forget to cancel ’is deliveries when ’e goes away.” So I got a bit worried like.

I pounded on that door of ‘is, but ’e didn’t answer. I went ’round the ’ouse lookin’ in the windows, and there ’e was! All laid out on the floor. I shouted ’is name and knocked some more, but ’e didn’t move. I ran to Mrs. Maple’s ’ouse and told ’er to ring for a doctor, and I went back to Mr ’oward, smashed the window, and ’opped inside. ’E was cold, I’m no medical man, but I could tell it was too late. So I just sits there until the police and the doctor show up, and take ’im away.

’E was a good man, I’ll be sad to see ’im gone.

The coroner:

  1. Police / hospital / newspaper can give the name of the coroner who determined the cause of death (Mr. James Sutton)
  2. The coroner hasn’t gone to work for a few days
  3. The coroner’s address can be found in the office records - but the staff won’t just give it away to a random member of the public
  4. The coroner is at home, very drunk, and has been drunk for days: he’s been trying to forget what he saw.

Mr. Sutton’s Tale

Mr. Carter… he’s why I’m in this state. Trying to forget, you see. In my profession, you see a lot of horrible things. Not everyone dies peacefully in their sleep. Injury, murder, even disease can leave horrifying marks on the body which we coroners must soon become comfortable with. It is not a trade for squeamish men.

Nevertheless, here I am. Trying to forget.

I left my report suitably vague, merely saying that the cause of death is not suspicious, and that is the truth, in a sense. The manner of Mr. Carter’s death is perfectly common, and could happen to me or to you, if we are so unfortunate. You see, he drowned. And it appears he drowned in freshwater: for when I cut into his bloated lungs, out poured the water, some small fragments of freshwater plants, even a tadpole.

But answer me this: how could a man drown, on dry land, miles away from a large body of water, with no other signs of being submerged? No exterior marks, no traces of the same water in his stomach or mouth, not even a wrinkling of the fingertips! No signs that the body had been moved after death, and no signs of a break-in to his house. It is utterly impossible that he could have filled his lungs with water, returned home, locked his door, and only then succumbed… I cannot explain it, and it scares me.

Notes

The players did almost nothing in my prep, and spent almost the whole session in the house, before deciding to immediately travel to England and talk to Dr. Armitage in person.

Well, plot never survives contact with players… they enjoyed it, at least.

  • Players go to the house:
    • They check the front door: it’s locked
    • They walk around the building, and find the smashed window (covered in a tarp):
      • See it was broken from the outside
      • Look around for neighbours (neighbour house looks occupied, but nobody visible currently)
    • Rachel clambers into the study
    • She goes to find the back door (in the kitchen): it’s locked
      • Finds key rack
      • Unlocks back door and lets the others in
    • All proceed to study to examine it:
      • Dill tries to figure out if the tarp was there before or after the murder (did someone break in and kill him?), but there’s not enough information to tell
      • Desk is covered in books about biology and folklore:
        • One book about germ theory looks particularly well-used
        • The folklore books are all about the living dead: vampires, zombies, kharisiri, etc
        • Inside one book is a slip of paper with 7 numbers written on it
      • Behind a painting on the wall is a safe:
        • The code is the 7 numbers
        • Inside the safe is the signet ring, the code book, and the encoded telegrams
    • Dill and Penelope head upstairs
      • Rachel stays in the study to work on decoding the telegrams
      • Penelope has been here before, so she knows the layout
      • Nothing particularly exciting, but there is a big bundle of cash (enough to survive on for a few weeks at least) beneath the mattress of the master bedroom
      • There are rats in the walls, everywhere
    • Dill heads into the attic with a candle and a lighter
      • Rat shadows dart out of sight
      • Lots of boxes of dusty books, mostly nonfiction
    • The sun is starting to set
    • Rachel translated enough to know the telegrams are talking about the spines
    • Everyone goes to check out the basement:
      • Dill goes down first, ends in a wooden door and a light switch
      • Opens door, flips on light
      • Lots of rats in cages, aggressive, squeaking
      • One cage empty, has been gnawed through
      • Wooden workbench with the spines and a jar of yellow fluid
      • Rachel examines the rats: they’ve all got big tab wounds—the size of the spines—and should barely be moving, let alone aggressively jumping around
    • Everyone decides the house is infested with zombie rats, and has to be burned down
      • Spend the next few hours searching
      • Find Revelations of Gla’aki beneath study floor
      • Fill basement with dusty books from attic
      • Douse basement, stairs, and ground floor in lamp oil
      • Carry everything off to the car (including some nice silverware to fence)
      • Dill drops a match on the lamp oil, drives off as the house starts to burn
      • The house doesn’t explode, thankfully; the neighbours will notice, but not immediately
  • Everyone wonders if Howard got infected with a zombie virus by the escaped rats
  • A few days later:
    • Penelope rings the newspaper, asking for details about Howard, posing (truthfully!) as a friend of his:
      • Get funeral details (a few days time)
      • Get contact details for the Providence coroner
    • Rachel shares the translated telegrams
  • At the funeral:
    • Arrive early
    • Penelope thoroughly distracts the priest and one other attendee with a discussion about the nature of religion and the religion of nature
    • Dill lifts up coffin lid
    • Rachel examines body: Howard seems pretty dead, no obvious wounds
  • Afterwards:
    • Telegram Dr. Armitage about meeting
    • Hop into a boat
    • Penelope spends the crossing studying the book

Next session

In England meeting Dr. Armitage.

Gla’aki session 3, 2020-05-31

Prep

It’s a beautiful summer day in London, it’s early June, and you arrived several days ago. The city is huge, with over 7 million people, it’s the largest in the world currently. And it is in this vast metropolis that Dr. Armitage has proposed you meet.

In his reply to your telegram, he said that he would be conducting some business with colleagues at the University of London, the British Library, and the British Museum. Something about Egyptian mummies, he wasn’t too specific. And he has proposed a meeting at the Penhew Foundation, an archeological institute, for 3 o’clock Thursday afternoon, which is today!

Penelope, you’ve had a few more days rest, you can try a Hard INT roll to learn the ritual to contact Gla’aki again if you want.

Right, what do you do?

The Penhew Foundation

  • Info:
    • Impressive Victorian-style building in Central London, much grander than the buildings on either side.
    • Established in 1890 by Sir Aubrey Penhew, a renowned Egyptologist.
    • Sir Aubrey disappeared last year on an expedition, but he and the rest of the expedition members were recently confirmed to have been attacked and killed by hostile tribesmen in the African jungle.
    • Edward Gavigan is now the director
    • “Surely you heard of the Carlyle Massacre, it was all over the news!”
  • Meeting Dr. Armitage:
    • Asking at the front desk leads the investigators to the small office he is temporarily using.
    • It’s empty.
    • After a moment, hear two voices through a different door, door opens, Dr. Armitage emerges, saying “thank you, as always, for your support Edward; it is a pleasure working with the Foundation.”
    • He starts, and realises that he’s a little late, and who they are, and greets them, ushering them into his office.
  • Talking to Dr. Armitage:
    • He’s interested in how they got the spines (you were light on details with Howard).
    • And in Howard’s death.
    • And in Howard’s experiments.
    • And definitely in getting his book back!
    • He’ll also mistake the group for a married couple and their daughter!
    • Ask for a Cthulhu Mythos roll to impress him.
    • If he’s impressed, he’ll be more open about the STL, otherwise he’ll deflect it as “a fraternal organisation for those of us who are interested in knowledge”.
    • In any case, he’ll propose they go to his country estate to look at the other books in the set and his investigation materials.

Lathom House

  • A large country house in Lancashire, bought by Dr. Armitage just before the war, when the Earl of Lathom was ruined by his gambling debts.
  • It’s a place with a lot of history: there was a wooden castle on the site in the 1300s, it was rebuilt as a stone castle some time in the 1500s, but now almost all trace of that is gone, only a few bits of ruined wall and tower in the grounds remain, it’s just a very large country house.
  • Probably haunted.
  • Dry stone wall around the buildings, with metal gates; carved into the walls at the gates are Elder Signs (Spot Hidden to notice).
  • Situated a 2-hour drive from Wigan, which is a 4-hour train journey from London.
  • Two servants: an elderly housekeeper (Mrs. Covenant) and a gardener / handyman (Mr. Donaldson).
  • One STL member is staying: Ned Thistlewaite

Contacting Gla’aki

  • Dr. Armitage thinks contacting Gla’aki is crazy talk but will teach Penelope the Elder Sign if she insists on trying it.
  • If Penelope learns the ritual, she can perform it
  • Nothing seems to happen
  • That night she enters a sunken crystal city in her dreams, feels drawn towards the centre, there’s a deep pit, a feeling of dread…
  • Surrounding the pit are thousands of destroyed crystal shards of various sizes (some the size of a building).
  • If she looks in the pit, Gla’aki rises: SAN roll, she knows what Gla’aki wants (freedom) and why it can’t just leave (crystal fragments)
  • Before looking in the pit, can escape with the Elder Sign.

The Dark Young

  • Ned is examining an artefact he had sent from Alaska: a black stone with cuneiform scratched into it, with a black,twisted, and thorny wooden branch sticking out of the top. He’ll unwittingly release a Dark Young in the middle of the night.
  • The DY won’t be able to cross the border because of the Elder Signs.
  • Dr. Armitage will realise that the Elder Signs protected him from Gla’aki, and that’s why Howard died: he’ll blame himself.
  • Penelope won’t wake up while she’s in the dream.

Clues pointing onwards

  1. What does Gla’aki want?

    To be free.

    Clues:

    • The vision after contacting Gla’aki
    • The Revelations of Gla’aki
  2. How can Gla’aki be freed?

    By destroying the crystal shards. This is revealed by any of the sources which reveal Clue 1.

  3. Where is Gla’aki?

    Loch Morar.

    Clues:

    • Contacting Gla’aki gives a strong directional sense pointing to the lake.
    • If any of Dr. Armitage’s reanimated animals are taken outside the Elder Sign wards, Gla’aki will know where they are and send Servants after them
    • The Revelations of Gla’aki discuss the locations of the crystal shards, and say that two of them will be difficult to reach because they are in the New World, and the Servants find ocean crossings difficult.
  4. Where are the crystal shards?

    Pingualuit crater in Quebec and in a university in Costa Rica.

    Clues:

    • Contacting Gla’aki gives a vague directional sense pointing to them.
    • The Revelations of Gla’aki says that two of the shards are in the New World.

If any of the clues are missed, the STL can supply this information if the players can gain Carl Stanford’s confidence. Dr. Armitage will suggest becoming acquainted with Carl regardless, as Carl is very knowledgeable.

Notes

  • Players go to the Penhew Foundation:
    • They check in at the reception, and get sent to the office Dr. Armitage is using
    • Knocking on the door yields no response
    • Rachel goes to check out the exhibits:
      • As she looks around, she hears:
        • “Do you happen to know the time, Edward?”
        • “Why yes, it is ten past three”
        • “Oh dear! I am late for a meeting! I’m afraid I must go. Thank you, as always, for your support Edward; it is a pleasure working with the Foundation.”
      • Rachel guesses this oldish man with white hair must be Dr. Armitage, meets him, and accompanies him to the office
    • Head into the office:
      • It’s pretty bare, no personal items.
      • Dr. Armitage refers to them as “Mr and Mrs Temple” and Rachel as “your daughter” at some point, Penelope doesn’t correct him
      • They talk about their experiences so far: Howard, the spikes, the zombies
      • Rachel rolling her eyes a lot, she thinks this is just some sort of bacteria causing muscle spasms in dead tissue
      • Penelope impresses Dr. Armitage with her knowledge, and he invites them all to come with him to his country house the next day to examine the other volumes of the Revelations of Gla’aki
  • That night:
    • Penelope learns the ritual to contact Gla’aki
    • She decides to do it without telling the others:
      • She performs the ritual, and instantly collapses back in the bed asleep
      • She finds herself in a great city of crystal buildings, drawn towards the centre
      • She goes to the centre, sees a deep pit ringed with crystal: unlike the crystal buildings, these are clearly broken fragments, and all but two are grey and dull
      • She peers into the pit: Gla’aki rises, imparts knowledge, she wakes up
    • Only a few minutes have passed
    • She knows Gla’aki is trapped and the crystals are the cause somehow
    • She also has three directional senses: two west, very distant; one north, much closer
  • On the train:
    • Penelope tells the others about contacting Gla’aki:
      • Rachel just thinks she’s been looking at the illustrations in RoG too much
      • Dr. Armitage’s response is “you did what!?
    • Penelope spots Dr. Armitage’s signet ring, matching the one Howard had:
      • She asks him about it, he starts to give a dismissive response, then says that with her experience and knowledge he thinks she should know the truth
      • It’s a symbol of the Silver Twilight Lodge, a paranormal investigation society
      • Based in the US, there are a few UK members
      • Penelope wants to join, he can write a letter of recommendation
  • At the house:
    • Penelope spots the elder signs carved into the gates
    • All go to the library, Dr. Armitage goes to relax:
      • All look for a book with an elder sign in, Dill finds a Latin translation of the Al Azif with a figure
      • Penelope starts examining volumes 2 to 6 of RoG
      • Rachel starts examining the Al Azif
      • Dill goes to get himself some refreshments, and have a look around
    • Dill wanders the grounds:
      • He meets Ned Thistlewaite, who Dr. Armitage mentioned in their trip over:
        • Ned is examining a black stone hexagon with what looks like a carved twisted tree branch with thorns, also black stone, emerging from it
        • It’s got some strange runes scratched into it he is transcribing
        • It came from Alaska
        • Ned travels a lot—his next trip will be to India—but he gets artefacts sent here, so he occasionally visits for a few weeks to examine new findings
      • He finds Dr. Armitage:
        • They talk about the situation which brought them together some more
        • Dr. Armitage gives his story about how he got into this sort of thing: investigating a pharaoh’s curse which seemed to be more than just superstition
        • They head to the library to see if the others have found anything interesting
    • In the library:
      • Rachel has transcribed and translated notes about the elder sign:
        • The printed text says it’s a symbol of protection, and how to make one
        • The scribbled margin notes tell the story of someone who made an elder sign pendant, went to challenge a god, and all that was left of them was the pendant and the cylinder of flesh which had been directly behind it
        • She knows that it’ll take two or three weeks to study the book properly
      • Penelope learned about Gla’aki:
        • How he came to Earth
        • That he creates Servants and Avatars through the spines
        • That the cult’s goal is to bring the crystal shards to Gla’aki or his Avatars to destroy them
      • Rachel proposes they stay for a few weeks:
        • Dr. Armitage asks what she’s studying
        • She manages to fast talk him into thinking it’s a different book than the Al Azif, one much less dangerous
        • Penelope is keen to stay
        • Dill begrudgingly accepts, but says he wished they would consult with him before making such decisions
        • Dr. Armitage is delighted to have the company
  • Three week time skip:
    • Rachel finishes her study of the Al Azif:
      • She learns Contact Nyarlathotep and Shrivelling
      • She has notes on how to make an Elder Sign
    • Penelope finishes her study of the Revelations of Gla’aki:
      • She learns that most of the crystals are in Europe and Africa, some are in the New World
      • She infers that the pulls she feels to the west are crystal shards, and the one to the north is Gla’aki
  • At night:
    • All are woken by a roar, and a scream which is cut short
    • It came from the opposite side of the building, where Ned has a lab
    • Rachel sneaks over and peers into the lab:
      • She sees a Dark Young smashing through the exterior wall and wandering outside
      • She falls back, psychosomatically blinded by the horror
      • She becomes a believer
    • Penelope looks around the corner, sees Rachel, and drags her back
    • Dr. Armitage says he’s going to have a look:
      • Dill follows cautiously
      • They get to a window on the right side of the building, and peer out
      • Dr. Armitage identifies it as a Dark Young
      • Says it must be the artefact Ned was studying, as the elder signs would prevent it from coming in from the outside
      • Says he can banish it if they get the artefact from the lab
    • Penelope sneaks into the lab:
      • She gets the artefact
      • Slips and lands in liquid
      • Looks down, and sees the shredded remains of Ned
      • She lets out an involuntary scream, and the Dark Young charges back to the house
    • All run:
      • Rachel, still blind, carried by Dill
      • The Dark Young smashing through the house after them
      • The house starting to collapse with all the damage
      • Dill gets pinned beneath a falling beam
      • Rachel, in her panic, calls out to Nyarlathotep for help:
        • The house explodes
        • The stars show a very different layout
        • A colour, unlike any colour they had seen before, comes streaking down and engulfs everything
        • The Dark Young dissolves
        • The colour dissipates, and the stars return to normal
        • Rachel is left with the feeling that a steep price will be demanded of her

Gla’aki session 4, 2020-06-14

This session takes place after a time-skip of a few months (to be determined at the start of the session, but at least two months), with Rachel attending the private care clinic of Danvers State Hospital. The scenario is set in the early days of Genius Loci,From Doors to Darkness.

with the Elder Sign ward being destroyed early during the last month of Rachel’s stay.

Prep

What has Rachel been up to?

Read:

Rachel has been staying in the private care facility of the Danvers State Hospital. A respected psychiatric hospital, out in the beautiful countryside in Massachusetts near Danvers, from which it gets its name. A little further afield are Arkham and Salem, and 18 miles to the south is Boston.

The director is called Dr. Berger, a friendly man who gets on well with all of his patients.

Figure out how long Rachel has been staying there: the underlying insanity must be cured, but she can stay any number of months she wants receiving additional treatment. There will then be an additional month in which there is no treatment (described in the hook below).

Rules for private care are:

What has Dill been up to?

Read:

Dill, you mostly go back to your normal life, and all your coworkers think you just had a vacation for a couple of weeks. Your wife is kind of upset that you didn’t take her along to England with you on your trip, and you can tell that your attempts to explain it away haven’t really convinced her… but maybe it’s better she doubt you than think you crazy.

Whenever you’re out in the field though, you find yourself wondering if something’s hiding behind the trees or beneath the waters. You can convince those around you that everything is normal, but you can’t convince yourself.

Dill can spend time with a backstory element to recover some sanity. Rules for sanity recovery are:

What has Penelope been up to?

Read:

Penelope, after returning from a holiday with your daughter, you waste no time in presenting yourself at the buildings of the Silver Twilight Lodge, holding onto the letter of introduction Dr. Armitage wrote for you.

By the way, Dr. Armitage was able to explain away the complete destruction of his country house and the death of Ned to the police as the result of an undetected a gas leak.

You meet Carl Stanford, the founder of the Lodge, and he welcomes you into the fold as a new member. He explains a bit about the society to you: he says that it is more of a “society with secrets” than a “secret society”, if you see his meaning; a lot of the members of the society don’t truly believe in the occult, they treat the society as a kind of gentlemen’s club where they can meet to discuss science, philosophy, and such matters. Most people don’t progress beyond this outer circle but, those who show true belief, and aptitude, are invited into the inner circle, where they gain access to secret knowledge and to information about the society’s activities: archaeological expeditions, restoration of mouldering old tomes, looking into ghost stories, that sort of thing. With your letter of recommendation, you are immediately admitted into this inner circle.

One day you are browsing the parts of the society’s library which are open to the outer circle. There’s nothing really about the mythos here, and as you’re flicking through a book about headhunter cults in the Amazon basin, a middle-aged black man approaches you, offers you his hand to shake, and greets you. He introduces himself as Jackson Elias, a member of the society currently in town.

Roll intelligence.

On a pass, read:

You recognise his name: it’s the name printed on the book you are reading! You spend a little time talking about the book, and some others he’s written. He says he likes to infiltrate cults if he can, to expose their secrets to the world. Through your conversation you get the impression that he doesn’t really believe in the occult at all, he thinks of these cults as mostly being tools of political and personal power.

As he heads off, he tells you to keep an eye out for his next book, which will be about Asian and African death cults.

On a fail, read:

With a slight smirk, he asks how you’re enjoying the book. You spend a little time talking about it, he recommends a few other books on cults, and says that he’s heard the author is planning to write a book on Asian and African death cults next.

As he walks away, you close the book, reach towards the shelf to put it away, and spot the name of the author on the cover. Jackson Elias. You look up, and see him peeking back at you from the end of the shelves, and as your eyes meet, he nods, turns around, and walks off while chuckling quietly.

Penelope can also spend time with a backstory element to recover some sanity.

Development phase

Rules for investigator development:

The hook

Read:

Rachel, during your last month at the hospital, things got a bit weird. It all began on the day they started building the ampitheatre.

The ampitheatre was one of Dr. Berger’s ideas: a little stage and some tiered seats, built on the side of the hill, facing a reservoir and the beautiful countryside, where there would be poetry readings, speeches, and plays. The newspapers had complained about the expense to the taxpayer, but Dr. Berger had fought back by saying that just because the patients of the hospital couldn’t integrate with society, they shouldn’t be deprived of culture. And if anything, this would help people to heal.

This whole debate was before you arrived, plans were drawn up during your stay, and then one day, early in the last month of your stay, a team of patients who had volunteered to assist with the construction had gone out to start clearing the ground. After they’d been out there for a few hours, something weird happens.

Roll POW

On a pass, read:

You suddenly feel a chill down your spine.

On a fail, read:

You suddenly feel a strange mental pressure, not unlike when you made contact with the Lord of Many Faces.

Take 1 SAN damage.

Then read:

You hear the distinctive sound of a teacup smashing, and look over to see that one of the nurses has stumbled and lost her grip on a tray she was carrying, and one of the other patients looks like he’s seen a ghost. It seems you weren’t the only one who felt something.

Over the next several nights, you have a strange dream…

Every night, the same dream, getting a little further each time, and on the final night, you experience the full thing.

You’re outdoors, it’s chilly, and there’s thick mist, you can’t see more than a couple of meters. You seem to be on hard dry soil, surrounded by sparse stalks of tall grass. You hear a distant voice calling your name, and you feel drawn towards it. The mist clings to you, you almost have to fight through at times.

Eventually, tired from your struggle, you emerge from the tall grasses and see a man: tall, gaunt, and dark. An inverted ankh blazes on his forehead. He holds out his hands. In his left palm is your face. In his right palm is a strange, twisted, hourglass.

The man then brings his hands together, and you feel yourself float off the ground, up into the sky, and up into space. You stop before a collection of monstrous figures: some like twisted humans, some like animals, others of no particular shape at all. All of them, and you, orbit a pulsating ball of yellow energy, which you somehow recognise as being the man who was calling you. The ball draws you in, you become part of it and it becomes part of you, and you see through different eyes the void of space. A great triangle appears in the void, twisted, in a way which reminds you of the hourglass. You hear the voice say “The price must be paid. A moment of your time. When the time is right.” and you wake up.

Despite the strangeness of the dream, it doesn’t feel like a nightmare.

Things have been getting strange in the hospital too: a lot of people have been discharged, and a lot moved to higher-security wards, used for violent inmates. One of those moved is a gentle old man you’ve grown to know during your stay, a Mr. Henry Akeley. He’s suffering from dementia, and forgets things a lot, but is otherwise completely harmless. One day he just didn’t show up in the common room. And all the staff have said is that he is “too excitable” at the moment. He didn’t have any family left, so your daily chats were one of the few things keeping him going.

Roll intelligence.

On a pass, read:

You realise that everyone who has had a recent visitor has been discharged.

Then read:

Dr. Berger has been acting irritable, and the staff have seemed almost afraid of him. One day, one of the nurses told you that Dr. Berger wanted to see you in his office. This is unusual, as previously he visited the people he needed to talk to, and then invited them to his office if it was a private matter.

So you went to his office, and he quite bluntly asked you to leave the hospital. He said you had been treated, and were just taking up space which could be used for new patients. This is a stark change to his previous attitude, which was to let you stay as long as you felt you were benefiting from it.

He had you write a letter with him, right there and then, asking Penelope and Dill to come and take you back to your home as soon as possible.

In the several days it took for the letters to be delivered, Penelope and Dill to talk, and to then come to pick you up, the strangeness continued.

Now we’re going to start the session with Penelope and Dill arriving to collect Rachel.

The situation

  • Dr. Berger has unwittingly freed a lloigor with the construction of the ampitheatre:
    • On the site chosen for the ampitheatre was a granite disk bearing an Elder Sign, which was keeping it at bay.
    • Dr. Berger saw no value in the disk, and had the patients clearing the ground smash it up and carry the pieces away.
  • The lloigor is weak from its long imprisonment:
    • It then expended almost all of its power to enslave Dr. Berger and to make the staff more obedient to him
    • It plans to turn the residents into its cult:
      • A ritual will be held on the New Moon following Rachel’s release to feed it with magic points.
      • Henry Akeley has been chosen as the sacrifice. The following day, Dr. Berger will announce that he died of a heart attack in his sleep. He is old, so it won’t be suspicious.

Handouts

  • Danvers Asylum Superintendent Builds Ampitheatre For Patients

    Article in the Salem News, found by Library Use at the newspaper office, town hall, library, etc.

  • Shine Retires From Danvers Asylum

    Article in the Salem News, found by Library Use at the newspaper office, town hall, library, etc.

  • Dr. Shine’s Diary

    Examination of Dr. Shine’s papers in the archives of the Salem Hospital, with access gained by Law, Persuade, Charm, Fast Talk, etc.

  • Death At Danvers Lunatic Asylum

    Newspaper article on the afternoon following the attack on the investigators.

Notes

  • Penelope and Dill arrive at the asylum to collect Rachel:
    • Penelope senses a malevolent presence.
    • Get ushered to Dr. Berger’s office by a receptionist:
      • He sends a nurse to fetch Rachel.
      • Penelope notices Dr. Berger looks stressed and tired.
      • He says he’s just been a bit overworked lately.
      • Rachel arrives, he turns the conversation to her release papers.
      • Penelope and Dill sign the papers, and leave with Rachel.
  • Rachel tells them about the weirdness.
  • They go to check out the construction site:
    • The water is silvery, but otherwise seems normal.
  • They go to look around and talk to people:
    • Encounter Chalkman: he’s unresponsive and just stares blankly at them.
    • See two old people talking, Rachel approaches:
      • Old man knew Henry, he was screaming murder one day and had to be restrained for his safety.
  • Go to do some research:
    • Dill -> Danvers Town Hall:
      • Handout: floorplan.
      • Learns: bureaucratic details.
    • Rachel -> Danvers Library:
      • Handout: Dr. Shine leaving.
      • Learns: about Judge Hathorne.
    • Penelope -> Silver Twilight Lodge:
      • Learns: more about Judge Hathorne.
  • Go to Salem:
    • Penelope remembers some details about Dr. Shine (and that he is dead).
    • Get into the hospital archives:
      • Handout: Dr. Shine’s notes.
  • Go back to the asylum:
    • Examine the construction site and find where the disk was.
    • Go to the reception to ask where they might have put it: Dr. Berger is there, avoid!
    • Go to the records office:
      • Dill blags his way in.
      • Examines their permits to learn what’s done with the construction waste (dump off the hill).
    • Go to the dump:
      • Dill shoved by an unseen force, almost falls down the hill.
      • Find a fragment of the disk, dig it out, it’s part of an Elder Sign.
      • Go to the construction site to get some shovels:
        • See Chalkman.
        • He tries to grab Rachel, but stops following when she gets too far away.
        • His blank expression is now anger.
        • Every time Rachel gets close he tries to grab her, but eventually stops.
      • Encounter two orderlies at the dump:
        • Dill fails at fast talking them.
        • They tell him to leave, and to not wander around the grounds without permission from Dr. Berger.
  • Return that night:
    • One person watches for patrols, the other two dig.
    • Get all the pieces out around dawn.
    • Drive back to the hotel in Danvers.
  • Penelope confronted by Andrew MacBride:
    • Tells his story.
    • Disappears into the dawn.
    • Two nights from now Dr. Berger will use Henry for something!

Gla’aki session 5, 2020-06-28

Recap

Last time Penelope and Dill arrived at Danvers Asylum to collect Rachel, who was being discharged under unusual circumstances. Something seemed up with Dr. Berger and the rest of the staff, and you found that recently construction work had destroyed an Elder Sign on the asylum grounds. You found that the ward had been placed by Dr. Shine, the previous superintendent, and who had felt unable to tell Dr. Berger of its true purpose.

You learned, from an inmate who had been sent to deal with you, that some sort of ritual is planned for the night of the New Moon: which is tomorrow! The ritual somehow involves a gentle old man Rachel had befriended during her stay, and who is now being in one of the high security wards for violent patients.

Prep

Plans to deal with the situation

  1. Create a large distraction (eg, fire or evacuation)

    This isn’t a solution, it’s a means to a solution.

  2. Disrupt the ritual

    • Sneak to the site on the ritual night
    • Find where the ritual is being held

    Unlikely to solve the lloigor problem, even if the kill Berger.

  3. Call upon a god

    • Nyarlathotep: can do whatever the investigators want if they pay the price (eg, becoming his servant)
    • Gla’aki: likely to send Servants to negotiate with the lloigor for aid escaping

    This seems like a bad idea to me.

  4. Spontaneous use of Cthulhu Mythos

    Can achieve any effect, but can also be very fatal. This also seems like a bad idea to me.

  5. Create an Elder Sign

    Someone needs to learn the spell! Can try Hard INT daily.

    This would solve the problem and restore everyone. But can they convince Berger to leave it in place?

    Clue: Elder Sign cuts off Penelope’s Gla’aki sense.

  6. Incapacitate Berger

    This will delay the start of the ritual, while the lloigor whips them into a frenzy unaided, but won’t really solve anything.

  7. Break out Rachel’s friend Henry and hope for the best

    Someone else will be used. But maybe that’s good enough?

  8. Ask the Silver Twilight Lodge for help

    They can probably get an Elder Sign or some other ward.

Sneaking into Danvers Asylum

Random encounters:

  1. Encounter with orderlies
  2. Encounter with nurses
  3. Encounter with patients
  4. Lloigor attack (shove, trip, etc)
  5. Lloigor help (door unlocks, orderlies distracted before seeing investigators, etc)
  6. Lloigor sighting (lizard crawling into a pool, chalk drawing, etc)
  7. Oppressive atmosphere: lose 0/1 SAN
  8. Physical barrier (door, ditch, etc)
  9. Nothing happens!
  10. Reroll!

Creepy descriptions:

  • Dark, long, corridors
  • Echoes
  • Stout, locked, doors with barred windows
  • The sound of quiet crying / laughing in the distance
  • A scream
  • No artificial lights, windows above the doors
  • Seating area to catch the sunlight
  • Nurse room: office, medical supplies
  • Patient room: plain, undecorated, nothing sharp, small cot, restraints
  • Kitchen / serving room: sterile, metal, utensils
  • Bathroom: small bathtub, sponges

Notes

  • Planning what to do:
    • Penelope, 8: ask the STL for help
    • Rachel, 5: create an Elder Sign
    • Dill: submit a false report of money mismanagement, to get the asylum investigated.
  • That evening:
    • Penelope returned with Russell Gibson, knows some simple healing / warding magic, doesn’t like the idea of people being in danger.
    • Rachel figured out the ritual.
    • Rachel embroiders an Elder Sign into her jacket and magics it:
      • She sees it glow (nobody else does)
      • Feels weak and drained
      • Penelope’s Gla’aki sense cut off:
        • Total cut-off in a half-mile radius, then gradual fade for a half-mile beyond that
  • Next day:
    • Confirm the Elder Sign cuts off all magic in the vicinity by having Russell try making the Powder of Ibn-Ghazi, which fails.
    • Decide to sneak into the asylum at night, hide the Elder Sign jacket somewhere, then go to the ampitheatre and see what happens; only intervene if necessary.
  • That night:
    • Sneak into the grounds and to the main building.
    • Penelope spotted by a creepy patient in a flash of lightning.
    • Penelope sneaks into the ward building to look for a hiding spot:
      • Dark, no artificial light.
      • Quiet, some distant laughter.
      • Nobody around.
      • Listen at one door: hear orderlies chatting.
      • Open another door: discover a sleeping nurse.
      • Open another door: creaks, and the orderlies come to investigate.
      • Sneak up to the attic before the orderlies arrive.
      • Hide the jacket on one of the beams.
      • Sneak back down to ground floor, avoiding the orderlies checking on all the patients.
      • Patients are awake: gibbering, talking, crying, laughing, reaching through the bars…
      • Swiftly exit and lock the door behind her.
    • Meanwhile, Rachel sneaks to the ampitheatre:
      • Sees Dr. Berger, other staff and patients, Henry on a gurney, walking towards it.
      • All look confused, as if they’re trying to remember something, or as if they’re not really sure what’s going on.
      • Carrying blue flamed-torches.
    • All reunite at the ampitheatre; and watch:
      • Dr. Berger tries to address the crowd a few times, but looks like he doesn’t know what he wants to say.
      • Eventually he talks about how something strange has been happening for the last month, almost like a waking dream, he and other staff have memory gaps… and no idea why they’re out here tonight. Maybe the food? Or water? Or a gas leak? Let’s all go back inside.
      • Henry taken in by a nurse.
    • Return to the hotel, the immediate problem solved.
  • Next day:
    • Penelope sends Russell tot he STL to talk about donating a statue or something, providing a new permanent Elder Sign.
    • Go to visit the asylum:
      • Dr. Berger apologises for his treatment of Rachel towards the end of her stay.
      • Chat with Henry in the common room. Dill asks some questions about what he remembers:
        • He had a dreamThis is a confused memory of the time before Dr. Shine—when the lloigor was last loose—and recent events. The “trip to the seaside” was about being taken to the reservoir.

          that Dr. Shine had never come to the asylum.
        • It’s ok now, the bad dream went away.
        • In the dream he was going to go on a trip “to the seaside, I think”
    • Dill cancels his fraud report.
  • Gla’aki brainstorming:
    • Maybe Elder Signing a crystal will prevent it from holding Gla’aki and freeing him?This is the exact opposite of what I planned originally, but it’s cool if they want to free Gla’aki.

    • The RoG only talked about his loyal servants, not zombies!
    • What do these servants do? They fetch crystals and spread the influence of Gla’aki to distant lands.Spread influence by creating Avatars.

    • We should free Gla’aki so he’ll go away and stop zombifying people.

Next time

Visiting Pingualuit crater.

Gla’aki session 6, 2020-07-10

Recap

Last session Rachel mastered the magic of the Elder Sign, and you discovered that an Elder Sign suppressed all magic in a large area around it. Penelope’s Gla’aki sense is completely cut off up to half a mile away, and only regains full strength a full mile away.

And so, you decided to use this new-found magic to deal with Gla’aki’s crystals, hoping to disable the remaining two for long enough for Gla’aki to escape the Earth and return to the stars.

Penelope has spent the last two weeks travelling around the states with a map and a stash of pencils, trying to get a more precise fix on the locations of the crystals. And now she’s got it. One lies to the north, in Quebec; the other to the south, in Central America. Where do you want to go?

Prep (Quebec)

Handout: Penelope’s best guess for the crystal’s location

There and back again

There are two ways to reach the crater, both starting from Quebec City.

In both cases, the more honest locals will refuse to have anything to do with this fools errand, unless the investigators can convince them that they are fit and knowledgeable enough to handle a long trek into the wilderness and back (to an unspecified destination, for unspecified purpose!), so only the dishonest ones will assist them.

David Spencer, a Servant of Gla’aki, is available in both locations to supply what they need.

Catch a boat to Fort Chimo then travel over land:

  • 300 miles (at best a 5-day journey with dogs)
  • David Spencer will sell them a dog sled and supplies. He’ll set a high price but can be haggled down. The dogs don’t like him.

Travel over land from Quebec City:

  • 1000 miles (at best a 20 day journey with a truck)
  • David Spencer will sell them a truck and supplies. He’ll set a high price but can be haggled down.

Gossip in Quebec City or Fort Chimo:

  • “You don’t look much like hunters or fur traders.”
  • “It’s empty out there, just barren land.”
  • “…there’s some sort of Esquimaux holy site, it’s creepy, best to stay away.”
  • “If the bears don’t get you those Esquimaux will.”
  • David Spencer might sell you his truck/dogs/supplies."

The journey itself:

  • Cold
  • Constant wind
  • Barren, sporadic clumps of trees, but mostly rocks, hills, rivers, and small lakes.
  • There are three big rivers, running W/E, between Port Chimo and Pingualuit Crater.
  • To the west: lots of little lakes, no rivers.
  • To the east: lots of little lakes, many small rivers running N/S+E.
  • On the return journey (without Gla’aki-sense) call for Navigation checks to avoid getting lost.

Encounters:

  • Recently deserted Esquimaux camp
  • Polar bears
  • Sounds of nearby gunshots or fighting at night
  • Bad weather
  • Dark Young
  • A river or lake to move around
  • An injured dog or damaged truck
  • A misplaced treasured possession

Campfire conversation starters:

  • Have you been on a journey like this before?
  • What are you taking / how are you preparing?
  • What habits of the others are annoying you?
  • Everyone share a story.
  • What exactly do you plan to do when you get there?
  • What if the crystal is buried or underwater?
  • Why are you doing this?

Pingualuit Crater

The crater is a big change from the surrounding environs. Full of life, and at the centre a deep lake housing the brilliant blue/green crystal which pulses with an inner light.

  • Green, fertile, lush, warm
  • Heavily forested
  • Oddly quiet (with a Listen check)
  • Crystal at bottom of central lake
  • Signs of a very ancient, and recently abandoned, settlement
  • Stone pillar with a representation of Gla’aki
  • Dark Young

Encounters:

  • At night:
    • A Dark Young is heard (cough/bark which turns into a shriek)
  • After the Elder Sign is placed:
    • Dark Young sound, loud thumping, trees swaying
    • “Trees” relocate outside the crater
    • David Spencer, with a gun and a line of sight to where they were working, found dead (Medicine confirms he’s been dead for months)
  • If they refuse to place the Elder Sign:
    • David Spencer confronts them

Prep (Central America)

Handout: Penelope’s best guess for the crystal’s location
Handout: The San José Herald, an English daily newspaper

The Jade Museum

It’s a large modern building in the centre of San José, built in 1890, which houses several hundred pieces of pre-Columbian jade artefacts. The blue/green crystal, which pulses with an inner light, is inside one of the broken spheres.

  • The basement:
    • Dark, long corridors
    • Some labs
    • Storage room with the spheres
    • Crystal in a broken sphere
  • Guards patrol at night
  • One of the guards is a Servant:
    • He’ll watch the investigators without getting in their way (unless he thinks they’re going to do something detrimental)
  • Basement access through building, or through coal chute at the back
  • Exhibits:
    • Threshold: A look at the ecological and historical contexts that lead to the rise of jade societies.
    • Jade: The craft, economics, and trade of jade stone and artifacts in ancient Mesoamerica.
    • The Day: Daily life of Pre-Columbian societies in Costa Rica.
    • The Night: The uses of jade in religion, war, and burial rites.
    • Memory: A celebration of the cultural music, history, and technology.
    • The Collection: Jade art from three regions: Greater Nicoya, Central Region, Greater Chiriqui.
    • 7000+ artefacts, from 500–300BC

Encounters:

  • If they refuse to place the Elder Sign:
    • The Guard-Servant confront them
  • After they place the Elder Sign:
    • The Guard-Servant found dead snooping outside the storage room (Medicine confirms he’s been dead for months)

Prep (The Aftermath)

Handout: Scotland Destroyed! Earthquake Shatters Nation!

After disabling the crystals, Gla’aki will rise from his earthly prison and return to the stars, taking the minds of his believers with him, leaving their bodies acting as rabid beasts.

Notes

I expected the players to get through one location and maybe make travel arrangements for the other, and then to have a shorter next session and spend the time afterwards talking about where we want the campaign to go to next. But we got through both locations in a slightly longer session, as they bypassed almost all of the Quebec events by deciding to charter a flight.

  • Players head to Panama:
    • Dill and Penelope learn how to make an Elder Sign during the journey.
    • Penelope senses the crystal moving, somewhere in Costa Rica.
    • Rachel fails to smuggle her gun through customs, it gets confiscated, they head to Panama City to find a guitar case to hide it in so they can smuggle it into Costa Rica.
    • Penelope finds the newspaper and learns about the stone spheres.
    • MoN Egypt hotel scenario:
      • They spot the hidden entrances to their rooms, move into one room, keep watch, and surprise the thief.
  • Players head to Costa Rica:
    • Pick up Rachel’s gun as they leave Panama, and smuggle it into Costa Rica.
    • Head to San Jose, and find a reputable hotel.
    • Scope out the Jade Museum:
      • Crystal is in the basement somewhere.
      • Rachel causes a distraction, Penelope and Dill sneak down.
      • Penelope finds the room, but it’s occupied.
      • Caught and made to leave.
    • That night:
      • Just one guard.
      • Scope out the surroundings, make a plan to break in.
    • The following night:
      • Just the one, same, guard.
      • Break in.
      • Sneak through basement to crystal room, avoiding guard patrol.
      • Steal crystal, and escape
  • Players return to the US:
    • Crystal baked into a loaf of bread and smuggled out through customs.
    • Take the crystal to Danvers as an experiment: it cools and stops glowing when in range of the Elder Sign.
    • Go chat with the STL about chartering a flight to the Quebec crystal:
      • Failed a Psychology roll on Carl Stanford.
      • Sure, they can have a plane.
  • Players head to Quebec, with their crystal:
    • Silent, forested, oddly warm and green (etc)
    • Find the deserted camp:
      • Been inhabited for a long time, centuries at least
      • Looks recently abandoned, but can’t track the footprints through the grass and trees
      • Stone obelisk at the centre with Gla’aki carvings
    • Hear a Dark Young at night
    • Make an Elder Sign and drop it onto the crystal in the lake:
      • Keeping their other crystal out of range.
      • Dark Young call and swaying trees when they activate their Elder Sign.
      • Air cools as the rock sinks to the crystal.
    • No way to get the crystal out of the lake:
      • Plan to carve an Elder Sign into a rock and drop it onto the crystal.
      • Penelope makes an Elder Sign, Dill makes a raft.
      • Lake water is warm but otherwise seems normal.
      • Dark Young call and swaying trees when the Elder Sign activates.
  • Players return to the US:
    • See trees have moved from the air.
    • Penelope casts Contact Gla’aki alone at night:
      • He uses Dominate to make her want to immediately Elder Sign the remaining crystal.
      • She does, senses Gla’aki disappear after a little while.
    • Next morning:
      • People on the street engrossed by the newspaper, some look distraught.
      • Scotland Destroyed!

Feedback: they mentioned some bits about the arc they particularly liked:

  • “Suspense in the museum basement was nice” “Hell yeah.”
  • “I also really enjoyed sneaking around in the asylum and the museum.”
  • “Personally I still can’t stop grinning when remembering the time I invoked Nyarly in the house, what a moment.”
  • “I did enjoy the sneaky bits a good deal.”
  • “I appreciated our little Panama detour”

Next time

Under discussion, but the likely option seems to be playing through the Peru chapter of MoN with Pulp Cthulhu rules, and Nyarlathotep calling in his deal with Rachel.

MoN Peru session 1, 2020-07-26

Prep

  • Quick run through of Pulp rules
  • Do character creation (preserving Cthulhu Mythos points)
  • Overturn Elder Sign ruling

Notes

  • Penelope agreed to play along with Jackson Elias’s deception, he spilled the beans with Rachel and Kints too.
  • Kints spots Pedro de Valesco watching them from an alley.
  • Find Rizo’s body, + her notes, + the golden band in the store room:
    • But don’t see the burned skin fragments.
  • Rachel / Elias find Mendoza’s stabbing victim then save Sanchez and knock out Mendoza:
    • But after Sanchez had been infected.
    • Rachel noticed the moving lump inside Sanchez.

Next time

Penelope and Kints are in the store room with Rizo’s body. Rachel and Jackson are with the injured Prof. Sanchez and the unconscious Mendoza. Rachel fired her shotgun indoors, so the police will be on their way.

MoN Peru session 2, 2020-08-09

Recap

Last time you all met up in the Bar Cordano, in Lima, Peru, to go on an expedition to find a previously undiscovered pyramid somewhere in the Andean highlands.

There you met Augustus Larkin—your patron—a sickly looking man who sweats a lot and, as Rachel noticed, seemed to be suffering from opioid withdrawal. Also there were Luis de Mendoza, Larkin’s gaunt and untalkative assistant; and Jackson Elias—going by the alias Jesse Hughes—professional investigator of cults and known to Penelope from the Silver Twilight Lodge.

Larkin showed you some golden artefacts he claimed were from the pyramid, and wasn’t very subtle in hinting that finding it and bringing back its treasures would be of great financial benefit to you all.

After Larkin and Mendoza left, Jackson revealed his identity and confided that he thinks there’s more to this expedition that meets the eye. Larkin had repeatedly turned down interested parties from the local museum, and Mendoza has a reputation as a kharisiri: a kind of local vampire which sucks the fat from its victim’s bodies. Legends of the kharisiri date back to the conquistadors, and they are always gaunt white men, so Jackson thinks there might be a centuries-old cult to investigate here.

The following day, you went to meet Professor Sanchez and his assistant Trinidad Rizo at the local museum, who have been trying to find this pyramid to send a team before Larkin—they don’t believe in this cult stuff, but they do think Larkin is basically a grave-robber. Then disaster struck! Rizo went to fetch her notes and an artefact believed to be from the pyramid, she didn’t return, and you found her buried beneath a pile of broken boxes in the basement, her body thin and withered as if all the fat had been removed. Rachel went to inform Jackson and the professor, but was distracted by a scream from outside: a woman had been stabbed, and by the time she got back to the professor’s office, he had been attacked by Mendoza. Rachel and Jackson managed to knock out Mendoza, despite him vomiting forth a long tentacle with pincers on the end which tried to latch onto Rachel, and then found that he had “kissed” the professor, and there was something moving around inside the professor’s abdomen…

Kints and Penelope, you’re in the basement storeroom with Rizo’s body, her notes on the Final Confessions of Gaspar Figueroa, and a golden artefact which seems to be the one described in the notes. Rachel, you’re with Jackson, Professor Sanchez, and the unconscious Luis de Mendoza in the professor’s office. The professor is in a great deal of pain, and has something crawling around inside him.

Let’s go to Kints and Penelope in the basement first. You’ve heard some gunshots, what do you do?

Prep

  • Jackson can arrange a boat to the coast near Puno if the heroes want to leave before Monday (or disable Larkin and can’t persuade the trucks to drive them). The crossing takes a few days and then the train journey is another day.

  • If the heroes leave it too long after killing Mendoza, Larkin will come to find them. He will try to get one of them alone, and Nyarlathotep will then take over to cast Cloud Memory and make them forget.

  • Rachel would be unsettled to hear Nyarlathotep’s voice.

  • Mendoza isn’t dead. They can only truly kill a kharisiri by utterly destroying its body (acid, fire, etc).

  • People in Puno will stare at and be wary of the white heroes.

  • Pedro de Valesco (white) and a few of the new local kharisiri will be in Puno.

  • Spells that may be useful for Nyarlathotep:

    • Cloud Memory (KR#250): block a specific memory in the mind of the target.
    • Dominate (KR#254): briefly bend the will of the target to the caster.
    • Fist of Yog-Sothoth (KR#259): strike a target with an invisible force and propel them backwards, with a chance to knock them unconscious.
    • Summon Hunting Horror (KR#263): physically brings a Hunting Horror (KR#299, about as massive as a cape buffalo).

    Note that Nyarlathotep needs to use the heroes to destroy the golden ward, he doesn’t want to kill them unless they’re about to destroy his vessel Larkin.

  • Don’t forget about bonus dice for distracted or outnumbered foes!

Notes

  • Rachel blows up Mendoza’s head
  • Penelope clairvoyances the location of the pyramid
  • Visit Prof Sanchez in the hospital:
    • Kints spots Pedro de Valesco watching the room
    • He describes the maggot
  • Penelope sneaks into Larkin’s room, taking the mask and all his money.
  • Larkin feigns ignorance over what happened with Mendoza, saying the expedition must continue.
  • Penelope detects rotting meat smell.
  • Set off to Puno the night before Larkin, taking a faster route (arriving a full day before he will).
  • Find Nayra in the floating island:
    • Folklore:
      • Knows about the tentacles (kharisiri scoop out the fat with their long tongue), doesn’t know about the maggot or kiss.
      • Kharisiri attacks have been getting worse, people have been attacked in the city.
      • Thinks Mendoza is after her, people have been watching her house.
      • Identifies the mask as of Tiwanaku origin (which is roughly this area).
      • Tells the legend of the god.
    • Rachel spots kharisiri outside!
    • Kints attacks one, severing its tentacle (5HP damage), sees other two emerge from the shadows.

Next time

Start with a luck refresh and the kharisiri fight on the reed island. Nayra should point out that these kharisiri look like locals, not white people. They might also discover the pot bellies full of liquid fat.