Saturday Seed ~ 166 (Hollow Earth Expedition)

This Saturday Seed is being planted for Hollow Earth Expedition. This seed will work best for a small group of experienced characters or a larger group who need a push out into the wider and wilder world of the 30s. 

My Saturday Seeds also reappear on Ancient Scroll randomly~

The seed

A trail of deaths attributed to accidents or arson belatedly reveals a picture of directed violence toward a seemingly unrelated group of scientists and academics.

Planting the seed

The seed may be planted in a number of ways suitable for your campaign but avoiding cliché approaches such as the death of a mentor or relative might be refreshing for more experienced and/or jaded players. The connection need really be no stronger than one of the fires occurring at a character’s Alma Mater, or at a convention they are attending or have attended in the past, or one of the deaths is of a contact or information source whose name has come up in the campaign before. A big part of this seed is that the involvement of the characters is from left-field from the point of view of the perpetrators/ This puts the group in the driver’s seat in terms of proactively seeking out the villains rather than reacting to attempts on their lives and racing to protect themselves.

The Details

The deaths, usually by misadventure in fires at their place of work, surrounded by their research, affect a wide range of ages, professional levels, and fields of expertise. Spotting the connection between them all will be hard at first, but as more evidence about each victim’s line of research comes to light, it will grow easier and easier to see.

The general pattern has the police satisfied that the fires were accidental and in the main caused by mechanical failure or by carelessness on the part of the victim. The intervals in both time and distance between the deaths work well at reducing any suspicion of a directed plan in action, as does the technology of the day. As there are no obvious connections other than general profession (researchers) there is no real impetus to seek a killer on a national or international level. That is where the characters come in.

Through such tools as clipping services, gossips in their graduating classes, their own life of travel and interaction with academia, the characters may come across enough references to these deaths to have a light of suspicion flare up. When they gather the first hint of similarity between the research projects of some of the notable deaths, suspicion will likely be assured.

Investigation into the deaths will find the police to have been generally correct in their assumptions although if they characters are very thorough or prone to coincidental luck, they may stumble across the few occasions where plans went awry for the killers. Unexplained contusions which are not congruent with the official cause of death, or personal details about the victim which make that death seem unlikely (he didn’t smoke, so a smoldering pipe as the cause of the fire is suspicious) may heighten the certainty of foul play.

The characters should be left with the impression that the killer(s) are very competent, very patient, and more interested in hiding something than in the act of murder. Deep investigation by a trained medical practitioner may even discover that the victims were in fact dead prior to the fire and so, did not suffer.

What are they trying to cover up?

The research of the victims ranges all over from musical theory to mathematics, to archaeology, zoology, botany, astronomy, and physics. Their work is distinguished in most respects, but some of their lesser known publications and some of the conventions they attend have a tenuous connection – interest in evidence of contact between our world and another world. If the characters can get their hands on letters not consumed by the fires, or which were in transit and arrived after the victims’ deaths a pattern of secretive communication may be revealed to them.. and the opportunity to predict where the killers might go next.

What’s going on

Here is where things can take a twist. More than one secretive society has an interest in silencing this particular line of research and speculation. The characters may cotton on to one or both of them and this challenge will set the tone of their interactions to bring the killers to justice.

The victims have all formed a loose group of colleagues over the years and as a result of different conventions, grant application processes, and activity in journals have been exposed to research when compared to their own paints a picture of an Earth whose past includes interaction with another world. Fragments of things stand out as incongruous and unexplainable, but when taken as a coherent whole among their whole group, start to show a distinct and recognizable pattern of influence from a non-terrestrial source.

The group was about to come forward with a tentative theory under a set of pseudonyms, when a series of threats started. They caved to the threats for fear of their reputations, little realizing the real threat to their lives…


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