Saturday Seed ~ 69 (HEX)

This week’s seed is an Infectious Plot for Hollow Earth Expedition, or pretty much any Pulp Heroics game set on the surface world in the 30’s. From this initial, short diversion of mystery and action, GMs will be able to weave an ongoing campaign against a recurring villain in the form of a megalomaniacal criminal mastermind and his insane but talented dupes.

Planting the Seed

You can come at this idea from two directions, depending on the ebb and flow of your current campaign. One approach is from the rear, with the characters trying to resolve the outcome of this dastardly plot. The other is to make them a part of it, wrestling with it from the inside.

The seed itself is simple. A rising tide of impulsive crime is spreading across the major cities of the country with isolated but growing incidents elsewhere. Ordinary citizens are surrendering to their base impulses and spikes in simple theft and shoplifting are but the first indicators of the problem. Robbery and other more violent crime seem set to catch up in the statistics after a slightly slower start.

Coming at it from the Inside

If you choose to have the characters experience this seed from the inside, you will be able to highlight heroic concepts like the ordinary man rising to meet the challenges of extraordinary times. The focus on their humanity, tempered by strong ethics and will, can give a distinct shape to the tale and underpin it with a chance to explore what it means to be heroic beyond a willingness to blow bad guys away.

This approach is simple to plant, as it simply requires the characters to go to the movies.

Coming at if from the Outside

If you choose to have the characters experience the events without personal exposure to the mind-altering effect, the seed is even easier to plant.  As they go about doing what they usually do, describe the escalating crime and violence, and when it gets to be too much for them to ignore, they will get involved on their own.

What’s Going On

A few months ago, a discredited Psychiatrist with a penchant for inventing bizarre and invasive machines and therapies to cure his patients was contacted and funded by an even less scrupulous and much less well-known patron to devise a means to peel back the veneer of civilization from the mask of men and show their true bestial faces to the world. Already soul-sick, and sinking deeper into dementia and delusions of persecution, the psychiatrist, Dr. Percival Odin Solomon Goldstein, agreed to do just that. Believing the only way to be vindicated was to show the world the truth about humanity, he set about to devise a method to free desires and give rise to the rule of impulses.

In short order, with the unwilling assistance of several occultism and mesmerism specialists, in addition to long torture sessions to glean the secrets of confidence artists and carnies, he succeeded.

Basing his nefarious device around visual and aural stimulation, he found a cunning method of hiding it in the flickering images of newsreels and talkies.

His benefactor could not have been more pleased. Unable to believe his luck at receiving for his efforts a device capable of driving the world mad, he quickly moved to purchase projection equipment companies and film processing labs through dummy firms, in order to bring his plans to fruition. In no time, with judicious use of agents in the criminal underworld, and with offers too good to refuse, equipment was in place, and films were prepared for release to the public.

The goal? Anarchy – with the world as its ultimate prize. Using the name Alexander with revolving surnames taken from great conquerors, the experiment’s patron wants nothing less than to use his intellect, might, and resources, to conquer a world of chaos, and forge it into a new kingdom, under his rule.

The Details

Watching a few minutes of one of the mind-altering picture shows will leave viewers with a slight headache which builds up, causing losses of temper, and growing irritation. This fades quickly and is forgotten by most. Even the calmest of characters will be ready to fly off the handle at the smallest provocation.

Watching 15 or more minutes leads viewers to the next stage. This phase is one of heightened suggestibility, where even the most asinine comment will be obeyed. This period is also short-lived, but is coupled with an extensive period of loss of inhibition which takes days to fade. Each impulse is followed by an almost cathartic release of primal joy at every breach of etiquette and social propriety. Each act of surrender to a more serious infraction is met with greater and greater joy. Control is never really lost, but the effect conditions the masses and urges them on to greater and more serious transgressions.

Watching for an hour or more, or repeated regular viewings will enhance and increase the effects, leading to wilder and less responsible actions.

Lights! Camera! Madness!

Characters exposed to the effect themselves will be able to tie their sudden mood swings and odd behaviour to a specific period of time, which should lead them to suspect some sort of mesmeric influence during their time at the cinema.

Likewise, study of the criminal behaviour will reveal correlations to the show times at local cinemas. Times of unrest will coincide with the ending times of shows, and numbers of incidents will rise and fall with the ticket sales. The most popular shows will show increased amounts of criminal activity immediately afterward.

Investigations into the cinemas will soon turn up oddities in the projection equipment and unusually formatted films, and from that point the chase is on!

The investigation will be one of research, clue-hunting, and penetrating the layer of false companies and shell corporations between them and the mastermind, but the longer they poke their noses into the plot, the more likely it is for thugs to show up to persuade them to mind their own business. Proper handling of such an encounter will naturally speed up the investigation and move them closer to the lab where they can try to apprehend the crazed Psychiatrist and his army of mind-controlled berserkers, and hypno-rays of primal fury!

The Mastermind will of course, be long gone with no trace of his whereabouts until his next caper.


2 Responses to “Saturday Seed ~ 69 (HEX)”
  1. I like. Going to use a version of this for the Shanghai group. I think I’ll make the baddies the Japanese, looking to create an excuse to go into the city (like they need one!)

  2. Runeslinger says:

    That sounds cool~
    Maybe the plot can start at the Grand Theater, with the affected tearing up and down the Race Course like barbarians.

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