Saturday Seed ~ 75 (HEX – oween)

This week’s seed is for Hollow Earth Expedition and while not exactly intended for All Hallow’s Eve, it has its moments.

The Seed

Bodies are being exhumed from graves over a wide geographical area in the dead of night. Police are baffled at both how and why this is being done. A message ‘from beyond the veil of death’ puts the heroes on the track of the boneyard burglars, and into an adventure with… grave consequences.

Planting the seed

Any group with even a modicum of experience in Call of Cthulhu or whatever variety of heroic pulp you grew up with will have an appreciation for and understanding of suddenly having relatives, mentors, college friends, and the like created for them and presented for the first time as corpses. While this GM tactic is perhaps best used in moderation, it does have a certain nostalgic appeal for some of us. I personally cannot count the number of old dear friends of my investigators I have ruthlessly killed off before the players have even met them. Even so, one or two adventures before utilizing this seed, announce the death of a dear friend, and remind them of it occasionally as they use in the field the skills he imparted to them in class.  In this case, the dead friend, Dr. Tom Yamada, is a college mentor who specialized in comparative archeology and dabbled in both anthropology and linguistics. His death, ostensibly of natural causes with no foul play suspected, deprives the world of a singular academic and world traveler, whose kind is already vanishing from the ranks of the famous and admired.

To begin in earnest, during an adventure in progress, have the characters overhear a news item of a mysterious grave robbery that has left police baffled. Be careful not to derail your current story with any confusion that this plot might be related, by having it occur very far away, and at a moment where its inclusion will not distract players from the tasks at hand.

As the adventure reaches its conclusion and wrap up, keep the news items of grave robberies in the background as a current item in the news. Once you are ready for this thread to start, to plant the seed, if the adventurers do not take up the mystery on their own, is a relatively simple matter of having a sealed envelope containing a letter from Dr. Yamada, be delivered by courier once the grave-robberies have been in the papers for a few days. Hot on the heels of the hapless courier? Masked gunmen, who while easily driven off by a concerted response from the characters and the threat of capture in broad daylight, show signs of resourcefulness and the intent to return to ‘take care of business.’

The details

The Professor’s letter will explain that this is a precaution he is taking in case his life comes to a close before he has had a chance to tie up certain loose ends. It will urge the characters to seek signs of unlawful exhumation of graves, thefts from morgues, and disturbances or burglaries at halls of records, genealogical societies, and museums commemorating regional history. It goes on to state that should a series of activities begin to occur, that a vile man by the name of Andre “Relic” Cartier will have succeeded in persuading a wealthy individual or group to fund his unethical, immoral, and obsessive research into the idea that a race like humanity, but separate and distinct, has been living among us, and working in secret to orchestrate our lives to their own benefit.

An item which might not stand out to everyone is that the professor does not seem to decry these beliefs as being ridiculous; he opposes the method of investigation, and the ruthlessness of Cartier. His letter concludes that details about Cartier can be found in the Registrar’s and Dean’s records, while research into his obsession is better off not done.

Cartier, by exhuming the bodies and conducting truly bizarre scientific experiments on them using his own innovative but dangerous chemical and electrical theories is trying to conclusively prove that certain families and certain figures hidden in history have been passing on traits and abilities unknown to ‘real men.’ Through limited forms of reanimation, as well as explosive chemical analysis of remaining tissue and compounds, he seeks to document, trace, and ultimately recognize on sight, those who he feels live among us in secret.

From this point on, even if the characters obey the professor’s warning, they are marked as persons of interest not only by Cartier, but also by the Secret Society for whom Cartier searches.

The Masked Men chasing the courier were in fact sent by this Secret Society (who they are is best left to you) but might represent those of an Atlantean heritage, or some other group heavy on destiny and self-importance, but short on the milk of human kindness.

What’s going on

Cartier has indeed been funded by a wealthy family, but not openly as the Professor suspected he would. Instead he has married for wealth and is using his wife’s life as leverage to squeeze every last nickel out of them. His quest is taking him and a band of cronies to cemeteries all over the country rooting up the past, and so he must travel with his wife in tow, and in bondage.

It should appear that there is little rhyme or reason to the scattershot approach of grave robberies, but it should be possible for the characters to uncover a pattern or a thread of clues, which will allow them to track and perhaps after a few missteps, predict his progress. Play to the characters’ strengths and blend their research, social, and investigative skills with the skills and information passed on by the Professor to provide the answers.

Obviously, a showdown is in the offing, and depending on where in their discovery of the Hollow Earth and its cults, societies, movers, and shakers the group is, you may have it serve as the impetus for a quest which ultimately leads them onward and inward, pushes them to choose sides one way or the other, or brings about the opening shots of a final confrontation.  The characters may find themselves thanked for stopping Cartier, and get the sense that they are in debt to some large and shadowy group… but then… would that not mean that Cartier was right?


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