This exceedingly short seed is for the occult-themed roleplaying game, Nephilim, originally produced in French by Multisim and licensed for production and further development by Chaosium.
Something hidden is found in something old and familiar, and what is done with it makes all the difference.
Planting the seed
There are a few routes into this garden with some easier than others. The characters may be members of the affluent, but ineffective club described below. They may be associates of the antiquities house called to restore a beloved piece, or they may be attempting to pierce the veil of secrecy that these two groups seek to maintain out of force of habit.
This seed is suitable for characters and players of any degree of experience, however you will be able to go far further down the rabbit hole of difficult choices if the players are well-grounded in the convoluted thought processes, symbolic associations, and shenanigans of historical secret societies and their would be masters. If your group reads this sort of literature, but has only been exposed to Dan Brown, do direct them to Holy Blood and Holy Grail, Foucault’s Pendulum, and The Ghost of the Revelator.
A grandfather clock of overwrought astrologically-themed design has been a fixture of the large landing between the first and second floors of an exclusive club since its foundation. The clock, bequeathed with the building by the club’s patron, has run faultlessly for generations. It had seemed to have acquired the immortality its donor sought during his secretive life. Recently, however, the clock has begun to slow, despite attentive adjustment by the club Seneschal. A service call to an old, discrete and reputable firm specializing in antique time pieces was placed, and the result of that has the club assembled to make a decision.
Once the clock was opened, the sharp-eyed master craftsman assigned to restore it noted that a good deal of the interior of the time piece had been converted into a ‘secret compartment.’ Inside that locked section of the clock were found the arid remains of a nude, curiously and confoundingly tattooed hermaphrodite of indeterminate age. Sadly, the remains show clearly that the person was locked within while alive, and desperately clawed their fingers raw seeking to escape. Their face is contorted in such suffering that even the most callous member of the group to witness it is left with thoughts of at least hope that such a fate does not befall them.
Initial impressions are that the person was imprisoned within the clock and left to die. More detailed investigation reverses that perception, but the details of that investigation do not circulate as widely in the club as the news of the discovery itself. Even days later many in the club still hold onto erroneous conceptions of the situation as though they were articles of faith.
What is uncovered by detailed examination once the initial shock wears off is that the person is in the posture of a penitent and that the marks inside the compartment are controlled and represent some of the most complicated mystical calculations and transcribed incantations that any of their number could even imagine. Whoever the deceased was, they were a very erudite occult scholar and seems to have put themselves into some form of mystical battle with a great enemy – for all time.
The real questions begin at this point. Should the body be removed? What ritual was being enacted? Was it real and carrying out some real purpose? Has this person be alive inside the clock all this time… until the clock began to slow…? Does someone need to replace them…?
What is going on
At this stage of the tale, factions in the club will begin to form around different agendas. Some will want to leave the body where it is and seal the clock forever. Some will want to bury it and give it whatever peace they can. Others will want to spend the better part of their lives researching the spell encoded on the walls of the clock compartment. The characters may be split along these lines or add new drives and divisions of their own. Encourage this so that focus on choice and uncertainty remains before them.
As always, I leave the mystery itself up to you to plant within the fertile soil of your campaign, but if this were to run in my game, I would likely have the removal of the body from the clock set off a chain reaction of events which reveal that even in death the person was forming a mystic protection versus the onset of an evil out of time the group will not want to face. Such a direction may bring about the decision for one of the group to choose to sacrifice themselves and their immortality as the deceased had… if they can but learn how.
- Nephilim RPG (paulpmcbride.blogspot.com)
Darken others' doors: