Saturday Seed ~ 62 (Call of Cthulhu)

This week I have been going back and forth on what sort of seed to put up. Technoir was finally released, so I wanted to get my transmission up, but in the end I decided to wait ‘til September for that. I have been swimming in a sea of Mechwarrior, so I have lots of ideas for that. At the same time Blue Planet, Desolation and All for One have been much on my mind, as has – funnily enough Psychobilly Retropocalypse. I had almost settled on posting for the latter idea, when I got my 30th Anniversary Edition of Call of Cthulhu, and my hardcover of the Awe-Inspiring Masks of Nyarlathotep in the mail. On the same day I had also picked up the last few books for CthulhuTech from Drivethru RPG, thanks to the splendid motivation of their Christmas in July sale, soooo… 

Call of Cthulhu wins by an ill-defined, but definitely rugose body-part of wicked intentions that we shall be polite and refer to as a… nose.

The Seed:

The investigators need to consult with a renowned occultist, but most travel a great distance to speak with him, as he has become a recluse, will not travel, and will not communicate with people except face to face… through plate-glass. This seed is for experienced investigators in the hands of experienced players, or those who are returning to the game after a long hiatus.

The details:

Regardless of whatever other matters are going on, take the time to allow the investigators to roleplay through the trip, especially if they haven’t really focused on the experience of travel for a while.

While travelling, you will have many opportunities to portray NPCs. These are great chances to play up the strangeness of normal people, and the great diversity of humanity. Let yourself become a font of detail and innuendo. Allow the players to create connections and context where there is probably only coincidence. Unpack all of your red herrings, and stir in a healthy dose of coincidence.

Names from old cases, tickets showing passage from towns the Investigators know to be holdouts of vile things and their servitors, curious deformities that suggest things which the investigators – or worse, their players – know to fear, can all be a part of the travelling sideshow that is transportation in the late 20’s. Let their imagination be your ally, as always, but more than anything, set a tone that leads them to believe that more than one person is watching them, and a curious number of people are headed to the same out-of-the-way place that they are… all for perfectly legitimate reasons.

The house, once they arrive, has seen better days, and bespeaks of a very eccentric tenant. This supposition will not prove wrong once he is introduced to them by the octogenarian butler…. through three layers of thick plate-glass, and a speaking tube.

Their host will put them up for the night, or they can have booked rooms at a small private home near the train station. He will only speak to them about serious matters during the first hour of dawn, so if they wish his aid, they will have to arrive the night before their consultation and stay in the tiny town he calls home.

The house is not unlike an advanced version of the investigators’ own homes, and you should take the opportunity to play the host as a vision of their future. Nothing untoward will happen to them while there, but the sense of being watched will grow, and be more than just the creepy attention of the small house staff. 

Artifacts of very curious ancestry will be there to tempt, entice, confound, and unsettle the Investigators, and the night will ooze past uncomfortably.

What’s going on

Other than foreshadowing a sad and somewhat powerless end to a life in service to humanity in the face of insurmountable odds, this seed allows you to set up a shift in pitch from one where the Investigators presume they are still sane and functional, to one where there might be some measure of doubt. The vehicle to set this in motion will be the host himself, of course.

The host must be likeable, well-spoken, not the least bit crazed or insane-seeming, and well-versed in the required lore. If younger, he would be the sort of fellow a group would want to recruit. The fact that he is alive, still in one piece, more or less, and sane – despite a few eccentricities which can be passed off as a desire to protect himself from some very real dangers.

In speaking with him, you will slowly but surely revise everything the group believes to be true about the innocuous cases that they have solved, and weave them into a vast and otherworldly conspiracy of possession and servitude to dwarf the import of the truly heavy and Mythos-inspired cases that they have survived. Logically, and with great cogency he will weave threads from the case they are seeking his aid to solve, into older mysteries the group thought were connected to nothing at all.

He will have an explanation for every paranoid delusion the group has concocted on their way here, and be able to make it fit lovingly into this greater mystery. Unlike the investigators, however, he will not believe that anything can be done, and he recommends that they find places to hide, and bid farewell to all that they love.

This is your opportunity to play jazz with their collective memories, and introduce a layer of doubt and suspicion into the storyline that transcends the bounds of the characters and crosses over to the players as well.

It will be entirely up to you whether or not he is offering true insights or madness. Where it goes from there, depends on the players~

Speak your piece~

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