Skip to main content

Commonplace Cullen - #TrailOfCthulhu #FearItself #Esoterrorists

A friend of mine shared the following humorous graphic on Liber Faciem recently:

And there is more than a modicum of truth to it. I've recently taken to jotting down simple ideas as they occur to me using the web tool Trello as a scratchpad (though anything would work of course) because I know full well that if I wait till I actually have some time to myself the ideas will all have run together like coloured plasticine and their bright hues lost in the murky brown average of "Uhhhh what now..."

My list was originally going to be a list of potential story seeds for my Trail of Cthulhu campaign but having taken the time to review them I think that some may be more suited to one-shots of a Fear Itself nature or possibly (in one particular case) an Esoterrorists investigation.

I'll probably get round to fleshing out one or more of these at some point and figured that if I post them here it will provide a spur in my side to actually get on and do it, and there's also a chance that some other GM/Keeper/Asylum Attendant may be able to take one or more and run with any kernel of inspiration they can winnow out of them.    Given the nature of story it's likely that there may be recognisable elements from other stories, any such resemblance is coincidental and unintentional on my part.   I've never been one for buying published adventures so if it turns out that one or more of these is "OMG that's just 1987's CULT OF THE RECIPROCATING EEL!" then I apologise in advance.

The Kernels

MORGELLONS - Fibres growing out of the skin. From what? Others see it as delusion. Only very advanced cases show visible evidence to others.  Science treats it as a neurotic delusion - are they covering up the truth?  Perhaps dual reality.  A body horror version of Hildred Castaigne's crown.

MISSING FOOTAGE - images shot during controversial horror movie supposedly contain something far worse than the film itself. Who has it and what does it show? Death of the infamous director in a suicide triggers the investigation.  Director to combine elements of Browning and Whale though Whale's suicide was much later.  Who redacted the film and why?  Is the missing scene still being shown to specially chosen audiences?

RAILWAY CARRIAGE - empty when it emerges from a tunnel.  Obvious assumption some sort of dimensional abduction... perhaps twist it around.  Other passengers and crew are cultists committing "simple" act of ritual murder disguised as vanishing (Esoterrorists counting on "vanishing carriage" myth spreading?).   Anomalies in timetable may reveal a missing hour when the crime took place.   Duplicate carriage swapped out to minimise time gap & forensic traces?

SCHOOL - A remote boarding school for the children of the privileged falls prey to malevolent stalking forces that begins to feed upon the staff and older children. The younger kids are untouched... and possibly to blame?  If adolescents engender poltergeists maybe pre-adolescents open the door to something worse, hungry and jealous.

FINAL DREAMS - the distorted dreams of an dying man in the grip of dementia take on bizarre and terrible life in the world around him.   In his youth he witnessed something dreadful and that ancient atrocity starts to colour the present.   

STONE VOICES - a meteorite in a museum display reacts to changes in the stars. It begins to change and affect the people around it as it yearns for home.  If it cannot contrive a way to return home (and how could it, it's a rock) then perhaps it will draw home to it.

SOUVENIR - A man returns home from England with a social illness that proves far worse than expected. The touch of Y'Golonac contaminates with its fetid touch wherever the victim goes.

ENDLESS - An immortal is in a cycle of living, faking his own death, returning to claim his legacy.  Something goes wrong and his legacy is sold on to a third party.   The immortal wants it back quickly because time is running out... he has been keeping something under control all these years and now his control is slipping.

AFTER ACTION - Office staff working for the FBI deal with the aftermath of a raid that ended strangely.   The reports are heavily redacted and point to strange cultic violence.   The field team are traumatised.   Something was unearthed there that continues to affect everyone concerned.   The PCs are the backroom  team and the effects manifest through the accounts of the field team and through the footage they compiled.

THE EQUATION - A student of mathematics vanishes.   The trail leads to odd places and to a reclusive savant that set him onto an obscure set of mathematical problems that unlocked a new paradigm.   They centred round some strange symbols that made sense in the context of the equations he was working with.   Texts and voicemails from the missing man come in, each more cryptic and desperate than the last.   It soon becomes dreadfully apparent that he no longer exists in the mundane world and communicates only by electronic traces, having lost all sense of self.   Worse the same fate will befall anyone who has witnessed those symbols.

PATIENT 23 - Closure of asylum, redistribution of patients - One patient an unidentified John Doe – ten years incarceration – violent & incoherent.  New doctor dealing with John Doe including sedation & hypnotherapy – the patient becomes thoughtful in his quieter periods, brooding.  She has brought back some reason to him.  New doctor kills herself – this brings PCs into the story – She realised the truth and could not bear to live with it.  Scalpel to the throat.  Case files suggest incoherent rambling speech from patient – incomprehensible syllables and odd imagery – starts to infect PC’s dreams – bleak vistas with distant odd spires. Information requested by doctor arrives – identified the patient as someone declared dead a month before admission.  Lead to the man’s past and cultic connections.
The doctor who killed herself shows up again, lacking all higher reason, breaks out the John Doe- she is now as undead as he.  And they wish to spread the gift.

PORTMANTEAU - The entity manifests through its worshippers and its area of influence, but never entirely through one single victim.   An eye may form on the body of one of them, a mouth on another, a grasping tendril on yet another and so on.   If the victims meet they may meld together in some way to begin reuniting the jigsaw entity.   The mouths whisper disconcertingly and work to instruct their host in foul magic designed to spread the contagion further.   The eyes drive their hosts to witness dreadful things and send them to the scenes of accidents or disasters or to view the endless night sky for hours on end.   The tendrils pierce and draw nourishment from lesser creatures and can infect a victim with another aspect of the creature.   The worst are the ulcers that ooze a corrosive slime that while it does not affect the host will corrode and degrade their surroundings.
"The bringer of peace" = misunderstood "he arrives in pieces"

IN PEACE - Characters wake up with little memory in some out of the way place.   They discover their healed wounds.  They realise they are dead.  Who killed them and why did they come back?   Can they live again or is their happy ending simply a natural death?  What do they need to do to stay animated...

GATE - Characters investigate mysterious events involving a disappearance.   Their route leads them to a mysterious symbol that is a gate.   They find themselves somewhere strange and gradually discover they are aboard an infested space station in the far future light years from earth (or possibly above a deserted earth that has fallen to horrors)

There's my brain-dump so far.  If anyone feels like they want to expand on anything here I'd be fascinated to know how you'd take it.


Popular posts from this blog

(Old) School’s In For Summer

I recently discovered Lamentations of the Flame Princess mainly due to seeing it mentioned all over the Internet as something worthy of note – people talked about its high production values, innovation, boundary pushing etc and I thought I’’d see what all the fuss was about.

The basic rules are available for free online in an art-free version (which is a shame – the art is splendidly evocative of the feel intended by the author) and I will be honest and say that when I first read through the rules I was underwhelmed.   Yes it was an old school D&D clone, laid out very well, clearly explained and with some nice rule tweaks to tidy things up --- but it didn’t seem to be anything special.   I was a bit nonplussed as to what all the fuss was about.     Then I saw a few reviews on YouTube – IvanMike and QuestingBeast do a lot of old school gaming posts and reviewed a number of LotFP’s products – and it dawned on me that the strength of the game isn’t from the system but from the advent…

Five Lights - An Adventure for Barbarians of Lemuria

I've recently become enchanted by the simplicity and clarity of Barbarians of Lemuria - a role playing game in the Sword & Sorcery genre.

To that end I present "Five Lights" an adventure in which our heroes are called upon to rescue a fair maiden, probably against her will, from a new religious movement.   All things are, as you would expect, not what they seem.

The pdf can be downloaded HERE, and feel free of course to tweak things as you wish to suit your play style and group.

Index Card RPG - Runehammer Games

I don't often review games - I'm usually too busy playing and find it hard to come up with things to say that aren't just lists of rules that I like or dislike, but I'm going to make an exception now and make a suggestion:

You should buy Index Card RPG.
Not so much a suggestion as an unsubtle instruction I guess.   But let me explain why.
Some time ago, no idea how, my YouTube meanderings brought me across a channel about Dungeons and Dragons - The title was as unsubtle as my suggestion - "Drunkens and Dragons - How to play D&D like a big old bad ass."    My interest piqued by the approach I watched, despite not believing anyone could tell me anything new about D&D.
Ah the folly of approaching senility.
The channel was run by one Hankerin Ferinale the nom-de-jeux of one Brandish Gilhelm whose real name is as player-character worthy as his assumed name.   Hankerin (for so I always think of him) presented a series of episodes about room design, rpg theo…

Ssssh, it’s Confidential

Regular readers of this irregular outlet for my musings will know that I’m a big fan of the Gumshoe system by Pelgrane Press.    I’ve got a year-old Night’s Black Agents campaign that shows no signs of slowing down just yet, and a Trail of Cthulhu campaign that is letting me indulge my fantasy of being remotely as good at drawing together Lovecraftian strands into a single narrative as Alan Moore has been in “Providence.”   I’m not, but it’s fun trying, and the Gumshoe system has supported it brilliantly.
I recently picked up the PDF copy of the latest iteration of the system, Gumshoe One2One, in the soon-to-be-physically released CthulhuConfidential.  Gumshoe One2One aims to bring the Gumshoe experience to the specific situation of one GM and one player.  In doing so it’s had to address the usefulness of the pool point system for General Skills and also the often fudged issue of character demise or debilitation in a single player setting.   My Trail campaign has always been just me …

The Star Flung Hammer

A new Sword & Sorcery adventure for Index Card RPG involving a daring expedition into hostile territory and the confrontation of an unexpected cosmic horror.

Something strange fell from the sky into the land of the Jötnar - and those brave souls who went in search of it never came back.  Now doom is prophesied and new heroes must arise to follow the path to danger and glory - but worse things than Jötnar dwell in the mountains, and the secret of the Star-Flung Hammer is nothing that those heroes could have imagined.

Download here