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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

The Iron Crib

Surrounded by old graves, a cast iron cradle appears one night in the middle of the churchyard of the small, coastal village of Hammon. Upon investigation, the crib is found to be deeply rooted in the soil, with iron reaching down into the bedrock. Yet there are no signs of digging or the machinery that must have been needed to install it, and no explanation for its presence.

Possibilities

1 The crib is an avatar of Yig, and is claiming the souls of children. In the town, a statistically significant increase in pregnancies, stillbirths and birth defects may be observed, and snakes begin to plague the town.  A distraught parent of a dead child reports seeing him in the crib, crying and reaching out. In some cases, post-natal depression leads to hysteria and even episodes of psychosis.

One of the graves near the crib contains the corpse of Augustus Prior, who was alleged to have committed unspeakable acts against children early in the previous century. Although nothing was ever proven, the allegations were all true. Prior was buried in the churchyard under protest, and wards were inscribed on the coffin and tombstone. A recent act of vandalism broke the ward on the tombstone, allowing Prior’s spirit to draw his master to the churchyard.

2 A baby, apparently abandoned, is found inside the cradle on the third morning after its discovery.  A local couple agree care for the child while the police investigate her origins. As the days stretch into weeks with no results from the investigation, the new foster parents find their sleep increasingly disturbed by strange nightmares. Friends and acquaintances find them unnaturally and violently over-protective of the child. If the child is not removed from their care, the couple will go insane.

3 An anti-abortion activist group installed the cradle late at night, intending to reveal its involvement only after media speculation had everyone curious. It was initially intended as a gimmick, metaphorically representing the spirits of the unborn. However, the situation has become more sinister - one of the group’s more militant and literal-minded members (and an occultist) performed a ritual on the night of the crib’s installation to invoke a vengeful Demon-Spirit of the Unborn. The ritual required the mutilation of a stillborn infant. Other members of the group are sickened and angered, but are deeply afraid that their own involvement will be revealed if the story comes to light.

© Barbara Robson and Stuart Barrow

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Spare Some Change?

He stands outside the bus station playing badly on a harmonica, it could be “Auld Lang Syne” perhaps. He is bundled in greasy overcoat belted with string and you shudder to think what may be in his pockets. The coat is covered with badges including one with a pyramid and eye, and one bearing the motto “Watch the Skies.” His greying beard is long and unkempt, with “things” in it. His hair is no different.

As he turns his watery eyes towards you an unpleasant, red-blotched bald patch (or is it shaved?) about the size of your hand is clearly visible above his left ear. Moving the harmonica from his mouth, he wheezes at you. “You’ve seen it too, eh? You’ve seen it. You can’t fool me nor them neither, heh heh heh, an’ that’s why their watching you too. They sees everything!”

He nods excitedly in the direction you have come from. Looking back you see two tall, clean-shaven men in dark suits and shades; they could be watching him, or they may be watching you.

Possibilities

1 Robert Beauchamp was a former rising star scientist in the government defence programme. He dropped out (ethical differences) and disappeared. The government has finally tracked him down and considers him a security risk. The men in black are government agents who intend to apprehend Robert, after ascertaining the extent and nature of his real or imagined contacts. They monitor everyone that Robert takes an unusual interest in. As far as the investigators are concerned, this might prove disastrous.

2 In hunting for pickings in the bins outside a corporate office late one night, Robert heard a strange and unearthly wailing. Peering through a window he witnessed corporate officials engaging in some kind of communion with an eldritch being. He fled in terror but was filmed by a security camera. As the players chance on him, corporate agents are moving to abduct and silence him. If he never gets a chance to speak about what he saw, the only clue to where he had been is some crumpled office stationary bearing the company logo in his filthy pockets.

3 Robert suffers from amnesia. The marks on his head are the results of experiments he has suffered at the hands of cultists who held him prisoner and tortured him for extended periods. He has no idea how he escaped – or even that he was ever tortured. Robert has been arrested several times, and his scars have piqued the curiosity of a secret government department responsible for investigating strange phenomena. The suited watchers are from that organisation but do everything to disguise their motives and employer. They are observing Robert to see whom he contacts and, perhaps more importantly, who contacts him.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Broken Mirror

The Broken Mirror

Arnold Schintz is a reclusive man who has had several episodes of insanity in the past. He recently disappeared in a puzzling manner, from a locked room with no windows (perhaps even his cell in an asylum or prison), leaving only the shards of a large, broken mirror and strange symbols drawn with blood on the walls. The police would suspect murder or suicide, but no body has been found and the room would seem to have no possible means of entry.

Possibilities

1 Arnold Schintz was a wizard or cultist engaged in magical warfare with his enemies. One evening, a member of a rival cult used Schintz’s mirror as a portal to enter the room and murdered him. He took the body with him when he went back through the mirror, and drew his cult symbols on the walls with Schintz’s blood as a warning to others.

2 Arnold Schintz’s insanity was brought on by his obscure researches into occult practices and non-Euclidean geometry. At some point in his studies he found a ritual to open a gate through a mirror, by drawing special geometric symbols on it in one’s own blood. When his family and friends became worried about the odd directions his research was taking, he feared that he would be committed to an asylum and used the mirror gate to escape to another plane. He may now be literally anywhere in the universe, perhaps even in Limbo.

3 During Arnold Schintz’s previous episodes of insanity, he exhibited an intense fear of mirrors and refused to stay in any room where one was present. He became obsessed with the idea of his own dark side, which he believed he had awakened through some seemingly innocent ritual or party game involving a mirror. Lately he had begun to abandon these ideas as childish fantasies, but it turned out that he was right all along. Last night, Schintz’s shadow-self crept out of the mirror and killed him, then dragged his body back to the strange, twilight world which exists behind all mirrors. Anyone who closely examines the symbols written on the walls will soon receive a visit from their own mirror image, which may try to kill them or take them back to its own world and then replace them in this one.

© Emily Johnsen

The Bibliophile

He just loved books. He always had. They were his passion. His life.

He could remember the first book his parents had given him. A huge collection of Menchen (fairy tales). It was bound in a dark burgundy leather, with gold-embossed ridges of the spine. And the insides were full of wondrous illustrations. Fairies and goblins and fell monsters galore.

He still had that book of Menchen. He had all the books he had ever been given or had bought. Lovingly organized and shelved upon tall, dark wood bookcases scattered all over his house. He would never give up a book. Never. Not on his life.

His love for books grew and grew. It was natural that at university he study history & languages. All those tomes full of words & pictures. Those gorgeous books, bound in leather and cloth. He got to the point where he did not care what the books actually said, he just loved the look and feel of books. And the smell... But the best of all was the satisfaction of ownership when he added a book to his collection.

Some friends of his at university had become investigators of sorts. They had learned of a certain dark cult who prayed to dark gods inimical to mankind. In the course of their investigations, they stumbled across an ancient grimoire. They brought it to him to translate. When he saw that book, his soul became inflamed.

The book was bound in a leather he could not identify at first. It was human skin. He was seized with a lust for that book beyond any lust he had ever felt before. He had to wholly possess that book, but he knew his friends would demand the return of the book.

However, his friends never returned to claim the book. Misfortune took them in the night and left only pieces of them behind. He took this a sign that his passion was condoned by higher powers. He began to seek out more books like the grimoire.

He did not want the books for the secret lore or spells they contained. He never really read the books. He would carefully handle the books, but reading might damage the books, so he did not. He wanted the books, because he could then own them. Possess them. Caress them. And shelve them away.

He sought out other investigators of the unknown. He befriended them and wooed them with his knowledge and vast mundane library. They brought him these forbidden book for him to translate and comment on. He then engineered their demise, often by carefully sent messages to the very dark cults from which they had liberated the books.

His collection grew. His secret collection. His lovely books. Tomes not only bound in leather, but in skins: human, exotic animals and skins of unknown species. Tomes with jewels incrusted upon them, or covered in barnacles, or blackened from fires. Books printed upon paper, painted upon vellum, or etched in iridescent metals. Scrolls and papyrus leaves and wax tablets. He collected them all and lovingly placed them on shelves hidden from sight. His, all his.

But he is always looking to increase his collection...

Possibilities

1 You have heard of a reclusive scholar who has a collection of books with just the exact tome you need. You go and talk to him, but he will not even let you touch the book. To stop the evil cultists, you must have that book. So, you sneak back and steal the book. You remove a book from his collection. He pursues with a vengeance, possibly alerting the cultists about your plans.

2 In a small, hidden bookstore you purchase the first edition of a rare volume. The owner sells it to you, but mentions that another gentleman had called about the book. He did not have the funds but mentioned he would be back. The owner just wants to sell the book and you have cash in hand. You don’t give it any more thought until you hear about the bookseller’s murder. The bibliophile punished the book dealer and he is after you now. You took “his” book and he is coming to reclaim it.

3 During a raid on a cultists’ stronghold, you run across some disturbing letters. An anonymous source is telling the cult about activities, names & addresses of investigators. Investigators whom you knew and who have just been murdered. Someone is informing on your friends and getting them killed. There is an informant somewhere, you just need to identify who it is. You start questioning the murdered investigators’ associates for the culprit. Eventually you will come across the innocent-seeming bibliophile.

© Brent Heustess

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Poisoned Sailor

A doctor is awakened in the middle of a rainy night by furious banging at his front door. If opened, a desperate, haggard-looking sailor will storm in, pleading for help. He rolls up his shirt’s sleeve, offering his horridly bulging arm for examination. Swelled and blackened, it appears to be affected by necrosis. The man begs for help, claiming he was poisoned by a rival.

“Duh bastar’ hates me guts cos my business runs strong, an’ he’s a lazy, warty ol’drunkar’ who can’t keep ep. He’s poison’ me drinks! Help me please, ain’t wanna die, oh Gawd!”

The arm responds to no medical treatment the doctor can come up with. Hospitals have no more success. The necrosis worsens by the hour.

Possibilities

1 The sailor is telling a half truth. The ‘rival’ isn’t simply jealous because of business competition, he’s seeking something the sailor has: an old trophy from a shipwreck, looking like a copper bracelet with intricate designs. The rival, actually a follower of Dagon, knows that it’s a piece of deep one jewellery, and badly wants it. Since the sailor refuses to part with it, the cultist has cursed the sailor, and will later contact the sailor for a bargain.

2 The sailor has tainted deep one blood, but is also cursed. His now-dead (human) mother found the strength of will to break free of the bonds imposed by her monstrous consort.

Furious by such unprecedent behaviour, the deep one asked Dagon to curse both she and any offspring she might have in the future. Any descendant would come to the world doomed to end his life, transformed into a ravenous human-eating monster, one far more horrible than the most degenerate deep one hybrid. Unfortunately for the sailor, the onset time for the transformation is over... but perhaps there is a way to reverse it.

3 The sailor really is poisoned, but it is incredibly potent. A creation of a serpent man sorcerer that the sailor had wronged. But how?

© Ricardo Christe

Pygmalion

A sculptor has been found dead in his desolated atelier, right in front of his latest work. It appears to be a massive black marble statue of a body, though big parts are still unfinished. What irritates is that the body seems to have multiple legs, oversized arms and something that looks like wings extruding from the back.

The other works in the atelier are normal sculptures of people, animals etc., mostly done for commission. The sculptor was considered normal, perhaps a bit reclusive, but within the range of what people expect from an artist.

Possibilities

1 The sculptor was a gambler and in high debt. He got an offer from the leader of a circle worshipping an ancient entity to secretly create a sculpture of this being for a high sum of money. Unfortunately, the criminal elements he owed money wouldn’t wait any longer, it came to a fight in his atelier and he died. The circle leader, when becoming aware of the sculptor’s death, considers this an affront against his cult and has taken measures to punish the murderers while trying to get possession of the statue...

2 The sculptor created the statue after the image of a creature he repeatedly saw in his recurring nightmares. The sculpture became alive by night and started walking around in its unfinished form on its stumps. When the artist realized, he tried to destroy the sculpture, but the being killed him. It still becomes alive at night...

3 If inspected more closely, it becomes apparent that the artist did not try to create a sculpture of a strange creature - but rather there is a creature enclosed in the marble. When the artist started to work on his next sculpture for a rich noble, the creature awakened and, after a short mental struggle, took control of the sculptor’s mind to carefully free it from its prison. Unfortunately, longer mental contact with the creature proved to be deadly for the sculptor. The creature still longs for its freedom...

© Philipp Mählmann

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Attic Window

On the top floor of that long-abandoned house with the shady history is a coffin-shaped window. The house has an ill reputation; its last owner supposedly practised black magic and was murdered in the room behind that curious window 30 years ago. The murder was never solved.

The window itself is supposed to be haunted. It is whispered that the dead owner is sometimes seen in it, and strange lights shine from it by night.

An urban legend says that if you look through the window from the inside, the world outside would look strange and wrong.

Breaking into the house and looking through the window has now become a teenage rite-of-passage. But be careful, for you can go mad if you are unlucky...

Possibilities

1 The windows glass has a strange, but unmagical, ability to store images (and to a degree, sound). The images are replayed from time to time, sometimes long after they were imprinted. Some images are repeated time after time, others appear only once. (This is how the long-dead owner is seen.) If you look through the window from the inside, you can might see the street as seen long ago.

And at some point, if you are looking in from the outside, you will eventually see the murder.

2 The window is not made of glass, but from an unknown material made by a pre-human civilisation. It stores images over a nearly infinite time. Under normal circumstances, it looks like a normal window – but things can look wrong (as latent images beneath the surface merge with the normal view).

Looked through in certain angles and light it shows aeon-old images of the laboratory that created it.

The former owner found the glass and learned much forbidden knowledge by looking through it. Unfortunately, he attracted the attention of one of the hounds of Tindalos...

3 The former owner dabbled in black magic and as a side effect trapped a weak astral entity in the glass. The entity is bored, and hates humans. It has learnt how to alter and corrupt the view through its glass prison and uses this ability to confuse and scare humans.

© Stefan Jonsson

The Crate

A character receives word from the post office that they have received a package and need to come and claim it. It is a large rectangular crate; six feet long, two feet wide, and quite heavy (it weighs about 250 lbs.). The crate is well-packaged and there is no shipping label or return address.

Possibilities

1 The crate contains a mannequin; a perfect wax copy of the character. It is a flawless duplicate of the original, but its origin is a mystery. Then, when the character has been left alone with it, the wax figure animates and attempts to kill it’s “twin.” If it succeeds, it comes to life and replaces the original.

2 The box contains a body, still fresh and well-preserved. The face is that of a stranger, but who sent it and why was it sent to the character?

3 The box contains a body, remarkably well-preserved. The face is unfamiliar, and the cause of death is not readily apparent. When the sun sets, the vampire awakens and seeks sustenance after its long journey from Europe.

© John Grigsby

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Preacher Man

Seemingly from nowhere, a preacher shows up in town, easily noticeable on the street with his filthy black cassock and white collar, living off the charity of passers-by.

Nobody knows where he came from but one day he just started showing up on street corners preaching about the end of the world. It has also been noted that the priest seems to have some obvious mental problems and some very odd ideas about Christianity.

Possibilities

1 Benjamin Corwin used to be a priest until he turned to the worship of the Outer Gods. Becoming a cultist, Corwin decided to try and enlighten the public about the Cthulhu Mythos by simply telling people about it on the street. Corwin has a mystical ability which allows him to plant the seed for mind control in anybody who passes by and makes eye contact with him.

2 The priest was once Benjamin Corwin, an investigator of the supernatural. Corwin became an investigator after one of his practitioners asked for help (which lead to discovering that the next-door neighbour was sacrificing children in his attic to something awful). Since then Corwin has been investigating the occult wherever he can find it.

It was on his last outing that he encountered something so horrific it shattered his sanity and reduced him to a homeless, rambling derelict. In his mad ravings, clues to his final investigation can be discerned by a careful listener.

3 One night the homeless priest is murdered and left dead on the street. It is not long after that more priests start turning up dead, and it appears a serial murderer of holy men is operating in the area.

© Paul Hebron

Footsteps

You are staying in a small rural hotel. You awaken at night to a strange sound, slow, even footsteps. Bright moonlight streams in through the partially open window. Bright enough to penetrate the thin curtains and illuminate the face of the alarm clock. It reads three o’clock, you rise and peer through a gap in the curtains. Below you, crossing the cobbled yard at a slow, almost funereal, pace are two men.

Both men are dressed in dark clothing, their faces muffled. They carry what appears to be a coffin, and for several heart-stopping moments you watch them as they make their slow way across the hard surface. They stop, their backs to you, as if aware of prying eyes, then their heads turn towards you. Still unable to see their faces, you feel a cold wave of fear run down your spine as one of them points in your direction then motions toward the coffin.

Possibilities

1 You are seeing a premonition of your death. How and when? There is no clue.

2 The two figures are smugglers moving a wooden crate of illegal goods. They are unaware of you and are merely gesturing to an accomplice at a window further along.

3 The ‘coffin’ contains the gagged and bound body of an investigative journalist who got too nosey. The ‘gesture’ is a warning that you have been seen, and that if you know what’s good for you, you’ll go back to bed and forget what you’ve seen. The ‘coffin’ is being transported, with its cargo, to the small cliffside cemetery where it will be disposed of.

© Andrew Parfitt

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Tales of Terror 1990 - Contents


Introduction to Tales of Terror 1990

During the course of a Call of Cthulhu campaign the constant demands of inventive Investigators can prove to be quite a strain on the poor Keeper. A booklet crammed full of easily adaptable ideas can be invaluable.

Tales of Terror was conceived with this in mind. The 'Tales' can be quickly and easily dropped into any game. While preliminary investigations are being conducted the Keeper has time to decide which (if any) of the three possibilities apply. Further details can be created by the Keeper as required.

Many scenarios for Call of Cthulhu are too big. Great Old Ones, R'lyeh, Outer Gods, and monsters the size of mountains all threatening civilization as we know it. In the midst of these major conflicts there should be smaller struggles. A nest of vampires, a haunted house, an unexpected death. Tales of Terror is brimming with these low key investigations that put saving the world into perspective.

Tales of Terror is also a source of red herrings and associated leads. On the trail of Deep Ones? (Or Lloigor? Or sinister orientals? Or vampires?) There are Tales here with the potential to confuse, illuminate and terrify.

Ultimately, Tales of Terror is a booklet of ideas. The situations here each have the potential of being expanded into a full blown adventure. A scenario is often the development of one or two isolated ideas. A vision, spark, or something. Tales of Terror consists of these ideas distilled out from the descriptive text.

Use it as you will.

(This is the introduction to the original 1990 edition of Tales of Terror.)

Wasteland


Possibilities

1 The small community is the victim of a strange, cancerous meteorite similar to the one in Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space.

2 The knoll on which the community stands was once behind German lines, and its houses used by the German Army as a makeshift headquarters. The entire area was used as a dump for chemical and gas weapons and a large amount of phosphorous. As they were beaten back the chemicals were buried in preparation for a counterattack which never came.

Over the years the containers have corroded, contaminating the knoll with phosphors and a deadly mixture of poisons, causing the yellow glow. Once in the food chain it killed vegetation, animals and eventually humans.

3 The story is very inaccurate. There is no ‘deathly brimstone light’ and no evidence of a plague on the land. The war years left the land in great neglect, the population suffered under the German Occupation and both have left what was once rich fertile land a virtual wilderness.

© Garrie Hall

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight

While on holiday in the Balkans the investigators find that their well-earned rest is not meant to be. As they leave their hotel they are greeted by a detachment of the local militia who ask them in no uncertain terms (despite the language barrier) to accompany them to the station.

The conditions in the jail are inhuman and they are forced to stay in a rancid, overcrowded, cell with cut-throats and murderers for two days. Eventually they are questioned by the regional prosecutor regarding the disappearance of a local girl on the night they arrived in the area.

Instructed not to leave the Balkans, the investigators are released without charge. However, during the ‘interview’ the following facts emerge:

There have been several disappearances of young ladies in the Balkan area. The names and descriptions change, but the circumstances are familiar. Two girls have gone missing in Bulgaria, two in Serbia, three in Albania and five in Romania. Each time the girl is beautiful and disappears at night without trace.

The more superstitious locals are talking of supernatural goings on and the prosecutor is anxious to put an end to these rumours by making a quick arrest and conviction. As the investigators are the only foreigners in the area (and therefore easy scapegoats) he makes it plain that they are at the top of his list.

Should the investigators look into the disappearances they will discover that the common denominator is a Turkish Circus on the return leg of a European Tour.

Possibilities

1 The Turks are using the girls as catalysts for a spell. The circus hypnotist turns their will to Hastur the Unspeakable and they form the coven of witches needed to call Him to the Nameless City.

2 The girls are sold as part of the white slave trade in Turkey. They are kidnapped in the closest countries to Turkey on the return journey so that minimum of care is needed. They are hypnotised and hidden in false compartments in the lion cages to prevent both their escape and discovery by inquisitive officials.

3 The circus has a freak show in which is featured a cannibal from Africa. His twisted keeper lets out his charge who has a taste for young female flesh.

© Garrie Hall

Sunday, 2 July 2017

The de'Vere Pool

Possibilities

1 The pool is haunted by the tormented soul of Charles de’Vere.

A lesser known manifestation is that each time the water turns to blood, the portrait of Charles de’Vere hanging in the hall cries real tears.

2 The soil beneath the pool is on a clay base and occasional natural movement of the earth’s crust brings the clay to the surface, staining the water red.

3 Deep below the de’Vere house a nest of Cthonians festers and seethes. It is their burrowing and worming which disturbs the soil beneath the pool.

© Garrie Hall

The Crazed

Possibilities

1 The riot was an unfortunate, but not sinister, event. The paper is owned by an evangelist called Edward Richards. Mr Richards owns a very profitable business empire and is head of the Cleansing Flame evangelical group. He is not a man to be crossed and can call upon a variety of businesses (including a satellite television channel) to aide his retribution.

The Cleansing Flame has a para-military wing, the Witchfynders. Richards is Witchfynder General and leads them in their cause to destroy evil. However, they will not accept that the Cthulhu Mythos exists as anything other than a form of Satanism.

They believe that they are the only true saviours and that no other organisation has the right to carry the fight. Any alliance with the Witchfynders will be strained at the least as they tend to act before thinking. All traces of Satan must be burnt to cinders, cleansing the Earth of evil.

2 The Karloff’s are using voodoo to further their career, swelling their audiences through manipulation and voodoo frenzy. They do not understand the powers they meddle with and cannot fully control them. A riot and the deaths were inevitable.

3 The Karloff’s worship Nyarlathotep. Using mass hypnotism they enthral the audience. Bit by bit they are building a reserve of psychic energy which is saved for Walpurgis Night. During this massive open air concert the audience will be so frenzied that during the final act, Howl at the Moon, blood will flow and the Crawling Chaos will descend to earth.

© Garrie Hall

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Smuggler's Cove

An investigator, an author of weird supernatural tales, is approached by a shifty and suspicious looking man wearing a heavy overcoat and a fur hat. He has a mass of tangled beard and the voice which booms through it is deep and powerful, and Russian.

His English is good but tainted with accent. He explains his predicament - he is a stowaway and a communist. He is also a vampire hunter. Since the revolution his group have found it difficult to pursue their quarry outside of Russian territory due to the attitude of neighbouring countries.

His group had been tracing a vampire, an ex-smuggler, but had lost him across the Baltic. Two of his men had been sent to Wismar in Germany, the known destination of the vampire. There has been no contact with them in over a month.

Now he is a stranger in a strange land, devoid of friends and allies. He has tracked down this author of strange tales to implore him to go to Wismar and find his men, if he can. He backs his plea with a small down payment in Czarist gold, with the hint of more to follow.

The house is now in a state of great neglect. It is structurally unsafe and has been threatening to fall down for many years now. The combination of the legend and its isolated location has prevented anyone from developing the site further. At the bottom of the cliff are several caves which were used for smuggling. A quite extensive cave network runs through the rock including one passage which leads up to the house.

Possibilities

1 Von Mannheim was, and still is, an active vampire. He now lives in a boat, shuttered from the harsh sunlight during the day and free to prey at night. The tunnel from the house is blocked off so that the only access to the caverns is by sea.

Von Mannheim returns periodically and the caves are filled with all manner of stolen items from his victims. Von Mannheim is alone except for a normal human aide - the captain of the boat. The captain is not a servant or slave, he is von Mannheim’s friend.

The two vampire hunters had come too close for comfort. Since his earlier discovery von Mannheim has become much more cautious, wary of the strength of his prey.

2 Von Mannheim worshipped Dagon and sacrificed trespassers to a colony of Deep Ones who live in the deepest part of the Baltic Sea. In return for the sacrifices the Deep Ones protected his ship and sometimes destroyed his competitors.

Deep in the cave network, in a cavern with direct access to the sea via submerged tunnels he erected a statue of his ancient god. Here he held his sacrifices and worshipped Dagon with the Deep Ones.

Von Mannheim is now a Deep One himself and now only rarely returns to Smuggler’s Cove. The two vampire hunters stumbled in on a ceremony. They found their cloves of garlic a most inadequate protection!

3 The legend has been used as a cover by White Russians in the years since the revolution. Russian nobility are smuggled through Estonia, Latavia and Lithuania and then to Wismar across the Baltic. The house on Vampyre Cove is a safe house and armoury for weaponry smuggled back up the route.

The Bolsheviks have narrowed their search to Wismar and their agents, the two so-called vampire hunters, tracked the White Russians to Vampyre Cove. Unfortunately for them they were caught and added to the Cove’s victims, as will anyone else discovering their secret.

© Garrie Hall

Short Story

The advert should catch the eye of any aspiring author wishing to make a name for himself in the world of strange fiction. It is entirely possible that past events have gifted the young writer with several ideas for some peculiar tales involving gods, cultists, monsters and magic.

The magazine is genuine. At least, there is a small group of people trying to put one together. However, it is destined for failure and will not survive beyond the first issue.

Possibilities

1 The magazine is being used by cultists trying to gain more mythos knowledge. This is not a very secretive way of going about it, but it may work if ‘investigators’ decide to relate their experiences to the magazine.

2 One of the authors printed in the first issue evidently knows quite a bit about the mythos, and writes a gruesome story featuring some of the gods. If contacted, he will be a useful ally in their battle against the dark forces.

3 An author, writing about a location well known to him, accidentally reveals a possible mythos presence in the locality. The story is a mix of fiction and fact, but there are certain clues and references to things which indicate that things may not be what they seem.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Grim Justice


Little is known about Grim Justice. He (it?) seems to be a creature of the supernatural, not least in physical aspect. A thing with no face, just a skull and the ability to appear and disappear into the night.

Grim Justice exhibits an uncanny ability to find his victims wherever they choose to hide. To date no less than ten known gangsters and countless lesser felons have fallen to his ‘tommy gun’.

Possibilities

1 Grim Justice is the ghost of Jim Malone, a cop investigating high level corruption and murdered by gangsters in cold blood in front of his family. His tortured soul has risen from the grave and stalks the city, avenging Malone. He is killing those that he believes set him up, from the hoods that pulled the trigger to his boss, Police Chief Nathan Jordan.

Jordan has guessed the force behind Grim Justice and will covertly hire investigators to ‘exorcise’ this menace.

2 Grim Justice is a highly organised and dedicated group of vigilantes. They have agents placed in all walks of life, from the ganglands to the courts, and can trace just about anyone anywhere.

However, the organisation has fascist tendencies and is inclined to target non-WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) individuals. Attempts to breach their security will be met with violent resistance.

3 Grim Justice is a classic case of paranoid schizophrenia. By day he is plain old Harry Brown, librarian and something of an expert in the occult. By night he is Grim Justice.

Brown was driven insane by the sight of his parents gunned down in cold blood by a lone robber. He has remained stable until recently when he witnessed another killing, pushing him over the edge.

As Grim Justice, he uses his considerable occult knowledge to magic his way to his victims. By night Harry Brown is a powerful sorcerer indiscriminately murdering criminals and gangsters.

© Garrie Hall

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Roadkill

This one happens while the investigators are in their car, somewhere out in the country. They are speeding along a shady road, anxious to get from point A to point B to further their researches. Suddenly a man steps out from the trees at the side of the road, directly in front of their oncoming vehicle. There is nothing they can do. The car slams into him.

When they get out to check on the victim’s injuries, a terrible smell assails their nostrils. From the decayed and liquescent human debris smeared across the road it is apparent that the man had been dead for a while before they hit him.

Possibilities

1 The wandering dead man was an experiment on the hoof. A Dr Frankenstein-type has a laboratory in the area, where he is conducting his studies in reanimation in relative seclusion. This one, however, got away. The doctor or his assistants may be in pursuit. The cadaver may have been a one-off, or the first in a series of escapees abroad in the countryside.

2 As the investigator who was driving surveys the splattered corpse, the horror causes them to swoon. As they lift their head, they see the road rushing by, their white knuckles gripping the steering wheel - the whole scene with the undead pedestrian was a hallucination, an REM. dream as they nodded off at the wheel. They snap awake just as the car starts to drift off the road, heading at full speed straight for a large tree.

3 The man they have just run down was a lot older than he seemed. His life had been extended by magick (see Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) or surgery (as per Cool Air). When he was accidentally killed, his body immediately reverted to its correct state of decay. The players may never learn his old secret.

© Mark Morrison

Monday, 5 June 2017

The Old Quarry



The rusting corrugated metal shed sits in a fenced off section of an old quarry, now used as a car park in dismal Northumberland seaside village. Stone was last extracted from the quarry in 1955, and the fenced off land is overgrown with brambles and bindweed. It radiates neglect.


The corrugated metal shed was originally part of the mine workings, but is currently used as storage by the council.

Possibilities

1 The shed houses BANDED GROUSE, one of seven government occult installations located around Britain’s coastline. BANDED GROUSE and similar facilities are the UK’s frontline defence in an ongoing secret magic war. The shed conceals a deep underground bunker, constructed after the government bought the quarry in 1957.

Within the bunker, a small team of intelligence officers serve the three government sorcerers responsible for maintaining the magical wards and barriers that protect the country against her enemies.

2 The quarry never turned a profit. The owners, Neptune Facilities Ltd, invested several million pounds into the project, before closing the quarry down and renting the land to the council in 1955. The council uses the old quarry shed to store highway maintenance equipment.

At the back of a shed is a small office, and beyond that is another space, with no doors. (The council has no record of this space.) In the floor of this space is an old trapdoor, which hasn’t been opened in decades.

The trapdoor reveals a rusty metal ladder which descends 20 metres to a cold, damp chamber. A short tunnel leads to a larger, ornately carved chamber that is filled with what appear to be 36 stone coffins, each sealed with wax. The stone coffins contain the true owners of Neptune Facilities, their families and key advisors. Disturbing them before their allotted waking time is unlikely to be wise.

3 Nobody visits the old quarry after dark, as it is haunted by the ghosts of three workers killed in a quarrying accident. The workers had fallen into a deep shaft that had been opened by the quarrying, and it proved impossible to recover the bodies. The accident was investigated but the true cause (neglected machinery and a callous disregard for life and limb) was ignored.

The quarry owners escaped justice, but a run of bad luck following the accident resulted in the quarry being closed in 1955. Until the owners (or their descendants) atone for their crime, the dead workers’ souls will continue to haunt the quarry.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Who is the murderer?

Miss Sarah Spencer is convinced that someone is going to murder her but does not know who or why. She needs help and is willing to pay. Two days ago she received a letter with a local postmark. The letter was typed on a typewriter with a missing ‘e’.


She was going to leave it at that but yesterday found a message in the personal column in the newspaper.
There is another message today.
She has left her job and has booked into a hotel.

The messages were telephoned to the paper and paid for by a man giving his name as Robert Cook. Tomorrow’s note in the paper is to read:

Possibilities

1 Miss Spencer is dangerously schizophrenic and quite insane. She is usually Miss Spencer, but at times of stress becomes Robert Cook. Cook is gradually exerting more control and believes that by killing Miss Spencer he will be completely free. He will, but not the way he thinks.

One room in Miss Spencer’s fastidiously neat house is messy and unkempt. This is Cook’s, and pride of place is an antique typewriter with a missing ‘e’.

2 The letter was written by Miss Jane Marsh, jealous ex-lover of Robert Cook. Miss Spencer is now seeing Cook, and Miss Marsh has sworn to kill her and frame him. She knows where Miss Spencer is staying and has posted an invitation to Cook to visit her there. There he will find the mutilated body of Miss Spencer just as the police arrive.

3 Miss Spencer is a deep one before the ‘change’ and is luring the investigators to their death. They have been getting too close. The cliff top hotel she says that she is staying in is old and dilapidated and smells of fish.

© Graham Theobalds

Dark Incal


Possibilities

1 The statue is a representation of the N’Ho, a tribe of sand dwellers making their home in the desert during the time of the Egyptians. A small enclave of the tribe still exists and Pennyworth died at their claws as they recaptured their totem.

2 The statue, with the help of a piece of translated papyrus, was used to summon Anubis. However, without a binding ritual there was nothing to keep the old god at bay. He grabbed the professor and dragged him back to his realm.

3 The professor’s jeep overheated in the desert. Unable to re- start it he set out on foot in the direction he thought his camp lay. He perished in the storm, hugging his prized possession to his chest.

© Perry Okerstrom

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Helmsdon Monster


The papers of 1913 are full of stories about the Helmsdon Monster. It is possible that some similarity between the killings can be reached.

Possibilities

1 The Monster is a ghast summoned by some foolish farmers dabbling in the occult. It came up through the caverns that riddle the area and began slaughtering the sheep. By day it hid in the caverns, by night it stalked the moors.

The farmers were terrified by the thing they had unwittingly called, but were powerless against it. However, the stories in the press attracted a sorcerer who came and bound the ghast to the caverns.

The sorcerer has just recently died, releasing the ghast from its bindings. Once again it is reaching out to the surface and feeding on the sheep it finds. Eventually it will get brave enough to attack individual homesteads.

2 The slaughters are the work of one crazed lunatic who roams the moors, killing the sheep with his bare hands. He is completely insane, and very dangerous.

3 The creature is a large wild dog, a doberman. It is quite canny and will do its best to avoid capture. It was a guard dog at a nearby manor, but was set free during a drunken party. It will attack unhesitatingly.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Toast of London


Anyone with the right connections receives the above invitation. At the meeting, dozens of London’s rich elite will be there. This is an ideal time to establish contacts, and new clients.

Note: Victor Neuberg was a medium and conjuror, and a genuine member of the Golden Dawn.

Possibilities

1 Neuberg is a fabulous fake. He is very flamboyant and every spectacle he produces is designed to milk money from the unsuspecting public. His illusions look to be completely realistic but are accomplished using sleight of hand and expensive magician’s props.

2 The magic tomes offered for sale seem to contain genuine magic formulae but are all flash and no substance. The Psychic Circle does own some dangerous works, but these are kept under lock and key.

3 In his effort to impress, Neuberg accidentally summons something a little too powerful during his act. The demon, happy to be in the material world, pushes Neuberg’s mind aside and takes control of his body. Nobody is aware of this fact. Not at first.

© Perry Okerstrom

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Theatre of Death


It has long been known that Chinese immigrants living and working in London’s docklands have imported their own brand of organized crime.

The Tongs control most Chinese businesses in London and the police have identified at least four different Tongs controlling everything from petty crime to prostitution. They believe that drugs, particularly opium, are directly controlled by the Tong known as the Rising Dragon, its leader the mysterious Doctor Cheng.

However, the police are far from making any arrests and have yet to identify Doctor Cheng. While his activities remain confined to the Chinese community they are not pursuing their investigations that zealously...

Dr Cheng is a woman, a night club illusionist called Lin May and her hold over her Tong comes from her skills as a necromancer. Lin May is extremely beautiful and twice as deadly. Cold and cunning she is the perfect femme fatale. She demands absolute loyalty of her companions but in return will help them any way she can. To her enemies, and those that break her loyalty, she is death.

While leaving the mundane world of criminal activities to the other Tong leaders, Doctor Cheng offers a highly-specialized service to the decadent rich in the shape of her Theatre of Death. To thrill hungry little rich kids, the Theatre is the ultimate decadence. A place of excitement and death not available anywhere else. Once a month a huge warehouse is turned into a great theatre to which the cream of Europe’s elite flock. The only way in is by invitation, and invitations are both scarce and expensive. Once there, guests participate in all manners of death, violence and sexual perversion.

The main attraction is Doctor Cheng’s illusory performance, but the audience is ‘warmed up’ first by a vicious display of fighting between newly dead celebrity zombies. The zombies are newly reanimated by Cheng, and the more famous the better. Cheng has connections in very high (and very low) places that supply her with corpses.

After Doctor Cheng’s performance, there are other delights to amuse the guests, including a bizarre game involving taking vagrants from the street and offering them three boxes. In two are death, the other riches. Each box has a glass back so that the audience can ghoulishly watch the poor tramp make his choice.

In other, curtained, sections guests participate in perverse sexual practices both with each other and the staff. Opium taking is commonplace, Doctor Cheng presides over it all. Her guests arrive loaded with money, most of which is spent during the night.

All the staff are dead. Some are almost fresh and barely marked, others are rotting heaps of flesh. All wear simple white aprons and many serve drinks or opium. Necrophilia is common in the Theatre of Death.

Doctor Cheng herself is constantly flanked by two bodyguards. Zombie fighters dressed in ancient, ornate armour in the manner of her ancestors. They protect here against her guests, for occasionally in their opium induced haze they forget themselves. Cheng has no real need for the guards, but it helps to impress her guests.

The guests themselves will discourage investigation into the place. All of them have much to lose should it be discovered that they frequent such a place. Curious individuals can make themselves many very powerful enemies in a matter of minutes. The police will never raid the place, Doctor Cheng’s guests will see to that. Several Scotland Yard Inspectors and prominent members of Parliament will crush any investigation before it starts. The remains of corpses, those that cannot be re-used, are dumped into the Thames and never seen again.

Possibilities

1 Lin May is the head of a small sect of The Corpse Eating Cult of Leng. After the Theatre of Death has finished she, and her cult, fall upon the zombies and feed on them. They chant and worship their foul god for many hours before the Theatre of Death is truly over.

None of the ‘normal’ clientele know of the cult and none would do anything about it. After what they have been doing, are the cult rites that much worse?

2 Lin May’s necromantic and illusory skills have their origins in Chinese black magic. She is aware of the power of the Great Old Ones and their followers but provided they do not intrude on her territory she takes no action. Her arcane arts are more than a match for most cults and if recruited she would make a powerful ally against the forces of darkness. However, making her acquaintance (let alone recruiting her) is not easy.

3 Doctor Cheng worships Nyarlathotep. During her illusory act she works her audience into such a frenzy that the Outer God is summoned to the Theatre of Death. From the moment he appears the Crawling Chaos – in the form of the black man – sits by her side. Her dream is to become Nyarlathotep’s bride, something which the god has promised many times. He has yet to deliver, but Lin May continues holding the Theatre of Death in his name. Perhaps soon he will make her dream come true.

© Garrie Hall

The Terrible Old Bookshop

The Terrible Old Bookshop is situated on Darker Street. The once green (or perhaps grey) paintwork is peeling, the windows are filthy. Inside, the shelves are stacked high with dusty books, more are in heaps on the floor and in rotting cardboard boxes. It will take several hours of careful searching to realise that there is nothing of interest to investigators. There are, however, plenty of novels by Ethel M Dell and Marie Corelli, school texts on geometry, Latin grammar, and other such.

The proprietor sits on a high stool behind a small counter, bent over a large leather covered volume. He appears to be in his thirties and is strikingly handsome in a Saturnine way. He has a neat goatee beard and if he was an actor he could make a career out of playing the devil.

As strangers approach he hurriedly stuffs his book under the counter. He will answer no questions about the book and will refuse to let investigators see it.

Breaking into the shop is quite easy and is the only way to gain access to the books. Behind the counter are two books, Magna Mysteriis and Mysteriis Mundi. They are handwritten in an unrecognisable script. Also behind the counter is a cupboard with a good, strong, lock.

The proprietor is very furtive when he leaves the shop, taking a devious and tortuous route that doubles back several times. A careful investigator will be able to tail the man until he lets himself into a house on Coven Lane.

Possibilities

1 The two books are written in English using an alphabet of the shopkeepers own devising. Given time, it can be cracked. One is a racy, partially fictitious novel, the other a diary and ideas book. The house on Coven Lane belongs to a married lady who supplies him with practical experience to write his novel.

2 The locked cupboard contains hard-core pornography. The books are ledgers containing accounts and the house on Coven Lane is a place where young children are kept after being abducted. The children are sold to various unsavoury individuals throughout the country. They are never seen again.

3 The books are occult tomes, rare, original copies. The proprietor is compiling several lesser works (kept in the cupboard) into one big volume. The house on Coven Lane is a meeting for a group of black magicians. Currently they are harmless, with only the proprietor knowing of the power of the occult. That might change, in time.

© Peter F Jeffery

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Dead Man's Bluff


The above letter arrives for one of the characters on the Thursday of the appointment.

If they check the address they can confirm that Czeminski is listed as the owner. Apart from that, for official purposes, the man simply does not exist. He is not on the tax department’s books, no birth certificate exists for him, no passport or immigration papers, no police record, no phonebook listing. Nothing.

If they go there during the day, number 117 is a dark stone house set away from the road. An unleashed Doberman in the yard discourages them from entering the property.

If they go there at night, Czeminski answers the door. He is quite handsome. He does not shake hands. The house is dark and dusty and there is an odd smell about it. He leads them into a well-stocked library, pours them a drink, motions them to be seated, and begins. “My good people, I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you. My name is Alexander Czeminski, and I am a vampire.” He is.

Possibilities

1 Czeminski is a collector of esoteric books and paraphernalia. He asks them to bear him in mind if they ever have anything of that nature. He will pay handsomely. He bears them no malice.

2 He has heard of them and guesses that eventually they might track him down, for being what he is. He has asked them here to strike up a more civilized arrangement: they leave each other alone. If he can’t, then he will attempt to kill them; maybe tonight, maybe in the weeks that follow.

3 He wants to make a deal. He lives on the dark side of normal existence and is aware of the dark things that dwell there; be they monstrous creatures, or crumbling undead, or gibbering ghouls, or ancient godlings. He is privy to information, the rumours and gossip that travels along the telegraph wires of the dead, unheard by mortal ears. He offers to fence information in return for their protection against vampire hunters, clergymen, and others. If the bargain is struck Czeminski will appear in the future, giving odd tips, translating old documents, and scaring the hell out of them with sudden appearances.

© Mark Morrison

Saturday, 29 April 2017

A Death in the Family

For one of the characters, Florence Hasket is a name tinted with emotion. Their families were very close and the two of them grew up together. They were almost brother and sister. Marriage was on the cards. Then, something happened. Florence met, fell in love with, and married, a soldier. She kept in contact, but eventually the letters stopped altogether. She has not written in years.

But a letter, even one concerning such sad news, is a welcome sight. Her father, Simon Hasket, has died and she invites the investigator to the funeral. It will be an opportunity to meet friends and relatives, and to talk to Florence.

The funeral is a quiet affair, marred by only one incident. An elderly gentleman approaches Florence’s brother and draws him aside. They talk earnestly before the man stalks off. At the entrance to the churchyard he turns and shouts “I know how he died! It’ll get you all!” Then he climbs into his car and leaves.

Two years ago, Professor Hasket returned from an archaeological visit to Venezuela. His studies have been erratic since then. He became increasingly preoccupied with a number of obscure legends and myths.

His death was particularly bizarre. He was found terribly mutilated in bed, in his room. The corpse was such a mess that it was barely identifiable, as if it had been put through a meat grinder.

Possibilities

1 On the trip to Venezuela, Hasket found some notes taken from the Necronomicon. From these he pieced together enough information to talk to some sort of ‘strange being.’ He tried this and inadvertently contacted one of the Hounds of Tindalos.

Belatedly realising his terrible mistake, he visited Professor Michaelson and together they tried to stop the Hound. They failed, but in the process Hasket had a dream - the Hound was talking to him! His attempts to foil the Hound had cost it dearly in time, it would pay the professor back by taking his family as well.

The Hound has taken Hasket. It will return for Florence and her brother one day soon.

2 Professor Michaelson accompanied Hasket to Venezuela and tried in vain to dissuade Hasket from taking sacred Indian relics from the ancient temple. The Indians, upon discovering their loss, cursed Hasket and his family. Finally their vengeance has arrived. Only by returning the relics will the curse be lifted.

3 The two men have pieced together from the fragments of an ancient Venezuelan inscription a spell for calling Nyarlathotep. Unfortunately, Hasket had a mild heart attack during the spell, ruining it. Nyarlathotep was angered by this and, once Hasket had recovered, disembowelled him. The knowledge is driving Michaelson mad.

© Ian Bond

Fire Victim


Possibilities

1 Poor Hedda is the victim of spontaneous human combustion, a rare occurrence but not without precedent. Often the victim will be burned beyond recognition, in some cases without disturbing the surrounding environment.

2 Hedda has fallen prey to a cluster of Fire Vampires who find the city of New York populated with easy prey. Prey often too slow or weak to fight back. Investigators will find many such fires in the ghettos of New York.

3 Tesla is in New York demonstrating his new machine. This generator produces immense electrical charges which are then discharged to earth. Occasionally his machine produces ball lightning, which targets victims totally at random. The fires will stop when he takes the machine to Boston. There they start again.

© Perry Okerstrom

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Black Anna's Bower

This is not the first spate of disappearances in the area. A similar series is recorded in the Parish Records for 1760 when five children disappeared from forest dwellings in an area known as Black Annis Bower Close where the Lord Mayor's celebrations took place each Easter.

Black Annis Bower Close, where Leicester forest once bordered the old city along the Dane Hills, is now covered by the Dane Hill Estate but there are no records of this.

Black Annis is another name for the Celtic earth goddess Danu, wife of the sky god Ludd. She dwelt in a round cave about ten to twelve feet across and five feet high. Known as Black Anna’s Bower, she is said to have dug it out of the sandstone Dane Hills with her own fingernails.

There Black Anna waited in the branches of an old oak growing over the mouth of the cave waiting for children to come past. She would then scratch them to death and drink their blood, hanging their skins out to dry.

Possibilities

1 Black Anna’s Bower is an entrance to subterranean caverns inhabited by the descendants of the ancient Druids. They once used the cave for their sacrifices to Danu, and tended to the Children of Danu – Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath.

They normally sacrifice their own young while saving a breeding stock of their hardiest children but, occasionally, run short of sacrifices. They are then forced to risk their secrecy and raid the surface world through Black Anna’s Bower which is hidden in the Dane Hill Estate rubbish dump.

2 Black Anna’s Bower is located directly under 17 Shakespeare Drive, the home of Stephen Johnson. Since moving in he has been possessed by a malign dryad trapped in the Bower since the tree over the cave was cut down. It has grown weak and forces Johnson to sacrifice children so that it can leave the cave for a new oak in the field beyond the estate. If it is not stopped children will regularly go missing, and their skins found hanging in the branches of the oak.

3 The Bower is a gateway to the land of the faerie, renowned in legend for stealing human infants for their own. Only the innocent are allowed there, those that have not been corrupted by the adult world of humans. All three children were maltreated by their parents and have been granted sanctuary by the faeries. The Bower is guarded by Black Anna against the evils of the outside world.

© Garrie Hall