Saturday Seed ~ 184 (Call of Cthulhu)

This Saturday Seed presents an idea for any 20th century or later era of Call of Cthulhu.

The seed
This seed supposes that Investigators are real people, have families and friends (or remnants of them), and celebrate holidays. During a traditional gathering such as Thanksgiving or New Years, something wicked comes to dinner.

Planting the seed
This seed is for characters with a history of play, some successes and losses, and a few surviving relatives or friends not yet sacrificed in the opening scenes of ‘the next investigation.’ It requires nothing more than that the characters have a place and a reason to celebrate a season.

The details

While gathered together to begin the traditional holiday meal, effort should be made to have the horrors of the past arise and get suppressed in conversation among the assembled guests ‘in the know.’ Draw a strong contrast between the talk and cheer of those who are blissfully ignorant, and those who long to be so again. Not all those who were invited have been able to make the trip, perhaps due to the weather or other obligations, but those who have made it are making every effort to enjoy the occasion.

There are many opportunities to point out the changes and effects facing such horrors may have had on the Investigators. Cranberry sauce may cover a lot of culinary ills, but has a nasty habit of resembling scrambled bits of dead friends. The intent here is not to depress, but to isolate, and demonstrate the damage to and the heroism of the characters.

Just as dinner starts to take on its natural momentum, the doorbell rings. A package has just been delivered by an obviously well-tipped courier. It is a box with dimensions roughly 500cm per side, tightly wrapped in oil-paper. Something can be felt shifting slightly inside when the box is moved. By now, the players should be wound up enough and the box should be suggestive enough that they will not want any of the guests to see what might be within. Obviously, the guests will have none of that. Any box important enough to be delivered on a holiday has to be well worth seeing…

What is going on

There are several threads at work here. The first is to highlight the cost of the Investigators’ past actions on their relationships, and the likelihood that death, madness, or both awaits them in the near future. The second is to provide the players with the thrill of unpleasant speculation as they consider what might be in the box, and how they can deal with it in these circumstances. Is it okay to wait? Can it be put off til later, or must it be acted on now? Is it some important part of a dear friend? Is there a grimly humorous note attached it saying, “My heart is with you during the holidays?”

The final thread is that this case is every bit like an experiment by Shrodinger: until it is opened, the presence or absence of horror cannot be determined, but the certainty of it being a possible outcome speaks volumes about the recipients of the box.


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