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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Blown Glass

A small package marked FRAGILE arrives at an investigator’s home. Picking up the parcel immediately reveals that the contents have been smashed. Opening the box reveals a short letter and shards of green glass.

The package has been sent by Bartholomew J Perkins (an acquaintance or colleague) from Hokkaido, Japan. As the note reveals, the box contained a glass float used by fishermen to anchor their nets. Perkins hopes that the gift has arrives intact.

Possibilities

1 The ball is the product of the deep ones, constructed during an ancient war with the fire vampires. The globe was discovered by Japanese fishermen and used innocently for years.

The globe contained a special powder which retards open flame – such as that required for heating and cooking. The powder is released when the investigator opens the box. The phenomena is unusual, but not too alarming – until the fire vampires arrive. They have been drawn by the ancient weapon, and are spoiling for a fight.

Only the complete immersion of the box in water and thorough cleaning of the house prevents the fire vampires from returning.

2 The globe is a teleportation device. If the globe is reconstructed (it fits together like a jigsaw) it begins to glow. All those in the room are caught in a stunning blast of energy.

The investigators find themselves in another room, one with wooden floors and paper walls. They are on the island of Hokkaido, the globe is in shards again. Perkins is waiting for them, along with several black-robed figures. They smile, draw long knives and move forward . . .

3 The globe is the broken prison of an oriental demon. Assembling it causes it to expand and open like a shell. From the shell emerges a strange Asian woman. She is tall, green-eyed and dressed in silks. Then she disappears.

The woman is a cat demon named Hosatsu. She knows much about the occult and torments male investigators in their sleep. If she can be befriended, Hosatsu proves to be a powerful ally. Unfortunately. Hosatsu’s affections are very tiring, and although the investigator goes to bed earlier and earlier, he never gets enough sleep.

If Hosatsu is spurned she becomes hateful and dangerous, attacking the investigator while he is dreaming. Hosatsu can only be destroyed by an enchanted jade dagger, which research reveals must be held by the sleeper. Learning this, and then finding a suitable dagger, may not be an easy task. Battle with Hosatsu takes place in dream state, but the wounds she inflicts are all too real.

© G W Thomas

Saturday, 30 September 2017

A Family's Heritage

A close friend’s family has, for hundreds of years, owned a homestead in a sylvan mountainscape. However, their neighbours watch carefully because there is supposed to be a curse on the family.

It is said, that every 40 – 50 years one family-member suffers from an extreme change in personality.

There is also a story of an ancient hideout in a cave nearby. Is there an association?

Possibilities

1 The family has always bred strong dreamers, and a long time ago they created an access to the dreamlands in the cave. This door leads to the enchanted wood, wherein family-members are welcomed by the Zoog. This secret is passed on from one door-keeper to another. (The ability to physically enter the dreamlands is a closely guarded secret.)

The change in personality occurs when the door-keeper hands over to a new keeper. The new door-keeper, upon experiencing the dreamlands, becomes more filial, is happier, lets loose of covenants, but gains friends, and has wonderful fairy tales to tell.

2 The family was once genetically altered by the mi-go (the cave is an entrance to one of their mines). It is written in the family’s genetic constitution, that one family member guards the cave.

When the existing guard dies (normally of old age), then the genetic manipulation kicks in, affecting one of the existing family members who then retreat to a cabin near the cave where they remain on guard for the rest of their life.

3 One of the ancestors made a contract with Yog-Sothoth, he refused to bring the appropriate victim and so the Key and the Gate cursed the family. Every fifty years he absorbs one of the family.

Every fifty years one of the family dies of an unknown disease, which leaves their body mummified glistening like mother of pearls.

In a secret corner of the family’s hideout is the heritage, which provides the means to the end of this horror.

© Jochen Koltermann

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Book of Bones

Weeks or months after a brush with the Mythos, the modern-day investigator notices an irregular bruise spontaneously forming on one arm. Though painless, the bruise appears to resemble illegible writing. Over days, despite all efforts, the bruise spreads and grows legible. An X-ray or CAT scan shows that the investigator’s bones are engraved with small, precise letters in an alien script, which the growing bruise duplicates.

Possibilities

1 In the earlier Mythos encounter, Nyarlathotep noticed and cursed the investigator. The alien words, when fully formed in a week, transform the investigator into a Living Bruise, an invalid who lives in continual agony. Certain tattoos cure the curse (without conferring other protection), but the only qualified tattoo artist lives in Burma. Alternately, the victim can call Nyarlathotep, who grants a year’s relief from the curse in return for a service, such as destroying an Elder Sign in a distant ruin.

2 Decades ago the investigator’s grandfather, a secret worshipper of Yog-Sothoth, performed a ritual on his unconscious daughter that marked all her descendants. The investigator’s siblings are also forming bruises, which describe the spell Call Yog-Sothoth. Each victim experiences dreams that translate the alien script. The investigator’s attempts to inform his siblings may heal or create family breaches. The bruises fade normally, but will reappear in the next generation.

3 Despite the victim’s entreaties, the doctor who performed the CAT scan can’t resist sharing the peculiar case with fellow physicians. Word reaches a Brother of the Yellow Sign in a nearby hospital, who identifies the investigator as a sacrificial victim chosen by Hastur. A group of cultists posing as doctors capture the investigator and friends and read the bruises aloud. The resulting spell transports the investigators to the underground world of K’n-Yan, where Brothers wait to flense the flesh from the victim’s bones and inter them in a sacred library. If the victim escapes, the bruises fade.

© Allen Varney

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Bloody Red Tape

An acquaintance, a clerk at a government department, has been missing for a couple of weeks. While the clerk’s co-workers acknowledge that it is rather odd that he hasn’t turned up for work, nobody seems to have tried to contact him.

He is still being issued with a pay check, and everything appears normal at his office – except for his unexplained and barely acknowledged absence.

Possibilities

1 It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. In the eyes of his co-workers, the office is more efficient and life is a lot more pleasant without him. They don’t know where he has gone but no-one is asking too many questions because they don’t want him back. No-one has bothered to inform personnel.

So what really did happen?

After a hard night on the booze in an unfamiliar area, he was followed out onto the street and violently mugged. His wallet was stolen, so no identification was found when they picked his comatose body off the pavement. He is still in hospital, in a coma.

2 When asked directly about the clerk, the co-workers can answer simple questions, but appear unable to concentrate. He seems to slide from their consciousness. Although they complain about being understaffed, none of his co-workers really notice his absence, or think about him when jobs that would normally have been assigned to him come up.

One woman, however, shows signs of anxiety when questioned, despite not having any firm recollections. The clerk had become fixated on the woman, and she had eventually complained about his unwanted attentions to the section manager.

The clerk was a dabbler in the black arts.  He had come across what he had thought was an invisibility spell, which he had cast to better observe the object of his desire. However, the spell was far more powerful than he’d realised, and he was removed from the perceptions of the world and the minds of his colleagues.

He is presently trapped in limbo, observing the world but unable to interact with it.

3 There’s something not quite right about the co-workers. Astute investigators will notice similarities in the features of the other clerks, and will begin to feel uneasy in their presence. Closer inspection shows that most of the workers in the department have the same unsettling disfigurements in the form of patches of blanched skin and slightly malformed ears.

The workers are, like the Innsmouth folk, the offspring of humans and an evil, non-human race. They have been slowly taken over this department through prejudicial hiring practices, in order to further the malevolent purposes of their dark sires.

The clerk was hired, ironically enough, as the result of a filing error, and was discreetly disposed of when he found out too much about the department’s personnel.

© Barbara Robson and Stuart Barrow

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Stones of Doom

The investigators are spending an uneventful night in a supposedly haunted house (it isn’t). At two in the morning they hear the drum of heavy rain, then the clattering of hail. This soon changes to a heavy thumping sound as windows are smashed by severe hail. While trying to block up the broken windows, the investigators see that the hail is not melting on the floor but sinking through it!

One investigator grabs a newspaper, attempts to capture the weird hailstones. These sink right through the paper and into the floor. Another investigator uses a silver tea tray from the table. Only the stones that land on metal survive, leaving three small stones which are of uniform colour and close in size. There are strange markings on the stones...

Possibilities

1 While investigating the stones, the investigators come across the name of Ormand Blecht, a self-proclaimed witch and maker of stone charms. While visiting his remote home, the investigators are attacked by his large black dog, his familiar. They may have to kill it or be severely maimed. This act makes Blecht lie to them about the stones and he says that they are very dangerous in their present state. He recommends the stones be re-assembled during a full moon then buried, so that their power may be neutralized. Doing so causes the stones to hum loudly – and summons two shantaks to assault the investigators.

2 If the investigators re-assemble the stones, the fragments join, creating a solid crystal. This crystal as such is harmless.

Investigation brings the investigators to Dr. Hamilton Crabtree, researcher at Miskatonic University. Crabtree offers to expose the crystal to his light cannon, a primitive laser. (If the investigators refuse, he steals them.) Doing so creates a Field of Silence from the Plain of Sound. (The players must then proceed without speaking to each other.)

The Field of Silence continues to expand until the crystal is destroyed. The Beings of Sghluo (from the Plain) send three dimensional shamblers to guard the gateway in advance of their invasion.

3 The investigators notice immediately that the stones are attracted to each other, almost if they were magnetic. As they near joining they give off a wicked energy. They should not be allowed to join or a great explosion occurs.

Research on the hieroglyphs proves them to be of Atlantean origin, a time when wizards fought battles against each other using such devices. If the stones are placed in separate areas, for example, a safe, a drawer and a pocket, they escape and begin to creep together again. The stones can melt through any non-living material to rejoin.

If the investigators decide to allow the stones to join in a remote place, the explosion occurs and is followed by the arrival of a Hunting Horror.

© G W Thomas

Hunting Pink

A Rolls Royce Silver Lady is parked at the side of the road. An elderly chauffeur, uniform jacket removed, struggles to change a flat tyre. A little way along the road stands a well-dressed gentleman, hoping to secure assistance.

Simon Beaumains (Bart) of Clovenford is the epitome of English nobility; intelligent, educated, charming, handsome, his ancestors may be traced back to Norman times. He is a staunch Conservative and a defender of law, order, King and country.

Beaumains is very grateful to anyone who helps the elderly Grimes to change the tyre on his Rolls. Good samaritans (and their friends) receive an invitation to spend a weekend as guests of the Clovenfords. It is impossible to refuse without causing offence.

Astarte Hall is an impressive English manor set in immaculate gardens and rolling wooded English countryside. The nearest civilisation is the small village of Clovenford five miles from the Hall. Once settled at the Hall, the elderly and very infirm Baron Clovenford is ‘wheeled’ in to thank the good samaritans for assisting his son. He invites them to take part in a weekend of hunting and shooting activities, then retires.

Guests arriving for the weekend include a selection of famous socialites, wealthy businessmen, artistes and politicians. As the weather worsens the enormous fireplaces are banked with logs and brandy is served. The after-dinner party ends in the wee small hours with everyone in a fair state of inebriation.

Next morning there is commotion at (late) breakfast. The Baron has been found dead near the enormous outdoor maze. His body appears to have been torn apart by a wild animal and there appear to be cloven hoof footprints around the body. The Baron is laid in state in the cold of the family crypt.

The telephone lines are down due to the still-raging storm. The chauffeur returns with the news that the main road bridge at Clovenford has been swept away during the night. The area is cut off until the storm abates. There is no need to worry as there are supplies aplenty in the cellar and a backup generator in case the electricity lines are knocked out. “Honest, guvnor.”

Possibilities

1 The Clovenford Hunt (of which many of the guests are members) is an archetypal English tradition, hunting foxes on horseback accompanied by hounds. It provides a convenient cover for the cult activities of the Beaumains family who have been associated with The Black Goat of the Woods for hundreds of years.

Their favourite sport is hunting a human. The Beaumains horses are an unusually robust and temperamental breed as they are fed on human flesh in classical Greek tradition. The hounds are likewise barely domesticated wolves.

Last night the old Baron was forcibly removed as Master of the Hunt by his son. The new Baron immediately takes charge of the situation and organises a rather unseemly wake to commemorate his father’s passing. The wake becomes a drunken orgy and soon the Hunt members get into a sporting mood. Tonight is again the dark of the moon and the Master of the Hunt must organise a special feast to celebrate his ascension. This celebration will climax with the summoning of a Dark Young to assist the Hunt in pursuing their prey. Guess who is to be the prey?

2 The Beaumains’ bloodline has been contaminated ever since the British campaigns against Napoleon in Egypt; there is a ghoulish ancestor some way down the family tree. It is a matter of historical record that the Beaumains usually pass quietly with only an obituary in The Times, all the better to cover up their degeneration into ghoul. It is a family duty to take care of the Beaumains’ ghouls (the elders) who live in the extensive family crypts, obtaining a steady supply of recently buried corpses.

The new Baron has been properly schooled by his late father in his duties but the lessons did not take. His studies in Beaumains’ extensive occult library have prompted him to an alternative course of action. The new Baron intends to make use of this family curse by offering immortality to many of the influential guests (who are confidantes of his). The first step for them is to become cannibals, a well-documented method of greatly extending the human lifespan.

The elder Baron refused to accept this idea and so was lured outdoors and killed by his son. The guests in the know all participated in a sorcerous quickening ceremony and had a taste of the Baron. They were scared off by the elders, prowling out of the crypt, who become restless around the time of their regular feeding. Using their own magical means the elders will soon know of the new Baron’s plans and they will not approve.

One of the guests disappears later that day, kidnapped by the elders. The Baron realises what is happening and looks for suitable volunteers to descend into the crypt to deal with the family legacy. He makes a private faux confession of the family legacy in the hope of gaining sympathy and assistance. If the brave volunteers survive the ghouls then the cannibals may have fresh meat that night.

3 For untold years the area known as Clovenford has sheltered a large coven of witches. The witches were persecuted by the Beaumains in the years following the Norman conquest, and since then the coven has been very secretive. Many of the Beaumains males have died by violent means, attributed to a non-existent curse laid by the innocent coven.

The new Baron is in considerable debt due to poor play at the bridge table. Angered by his father’s recent refusal to cover his debts, Simon has taken violent action. The previous evening Simon killed his father using a rather blunt dagger from the Great Hall, spirited the body outside via the hidden stairway in the master bedroom, then faked the animal attack. The cloven hoofprints were made with a family heirloom; a plaster casting of ‘The Devils Footprint’ which sits beneath glass in the study, a curio dated 1867.

Simon plays upon the idea of the Curse of the Beaumains, telling many old family tales to back up his story. He even shows off the curio in the study. Unfortunately, he was seen returning last night by one of the guests, the actress Mary Bartlett, his fiancée. She confronts Simon later that morning within sight of one of our heroes, then an hour later accidentally falls to her death from the second-floor balcony. Simon again speaks of the Curse but this time he is watching carefully.

© Peter Devlin

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Cult Classic

Andrew Garesford, an acquaintance of the characters that lives in a college town, describes an unusual film he has heard is carried at a video store catering to serious cinephiles. The film, called “Christwhore,” is a blasphemous underground work filmed in grainy black-and-white film stock and is about an hour-and-a-half long.

The film chronicles the misadventures of a deformed being of indeterminate gender that wanders through a deserted wasteland populated by shanty towns of unhealthy-looking people. The creature is raped, abused and generally mistreated during a variety of repellent episodes scattered throughout the film. At one point, a miscreant prostitutes the creature to a horde of Commanchero-like bandits. The creature is eventually crucified and pelted with faeces by relatively normal people.

Garesford rents the film out for his friends to watch. The film is located in a dark corner of the store’s basement, which houses the bulk of its shelf space.

After everyone watches the film, Garesford casually mentions an employee at the store that spoke with him. The employee, who has an interest in the occult, seemed to take an interest in his choice of rental.

Garesford later disappears. A casual investigation of the store reveals that “Christwhore” is no longer on the shelf. The store has no record of having ever owned it.

Possibilities

1 “Christwhore” is actually a documentary produced in the future by a time traveller who wants to make a martyr of its “star” and build a religious faith around him. The filmmaker and his accomplices are covertly circulating the film in the present day to build an environment favouring their eventual plans. Regardless of the outcome of any investigation, the characters will lose all memory of the events (other than the disappearance of Garesford) as the result of covert meddling with the flow of time.

2 Garesford has entered an uncharted realm in the Dreamlands. The tape is something he accidentally brought back with him while it was in the form of a book. The viewing of the tape, which does not actually exist in the waking world, occurred in a dream inside the collective unconsciousness of Garesford and the characters.

3 Garesford has met foul play at the hands of a ‘cult’ (actually just a couple of deluded people) who has read a deeper meaning into the film and have stolen it. The film’s disappearance is the work of the odd employee at the store, who used his professional relationship with the store owner to acquire a copy of the rare film and then steal it. The film’s director, who is harmless, has since made it to mainstream Hollywood and directed a big screen thriller that flopped with critics and audiences.

© Brian Woodman