Saturday Seed ~ 200 (Call of Cthulhu)

This 200th entry will be the last Saturday Seed on this blog.  It has been enjoyable to share some of these seeds for different games over the last 4 years, but this nice round number of seeds is telling me that it is time to try something else for my short, weekly post. That is probably going to be a return to sharing a Serial Setting, but we’ll see. In keeping with tradition, I will close (?) this series by ending where it began, with Call of Cthulhu.

The seed
Unlike many ideas for CoC where the investigators must race against time to stop something, it can be nice to turn that on its head and give them the challenge of starting something.

Planting the seed
This seed can be planted in two ways. One is to play it with experienced investigators who have be retired to the sanitarium. The other is to keep that latter detail from the players and have them start fresh, assuming they are sane… and perhaps they are.

If you begin with retired characters, the group will need to start in the same asylum, but do not need to have physical access to each other in the beginning.

If you begin with new characters, they should be in the same place, and in regular contact as a part of a research project in a top secret facility. While ultimately this may be revealed as an asylum, the opening stages of the game will not provide hints that this is the case.

The details
Through some manner appropriate to your style of play, the characters become slowly convinced that they have figured out the ravings of ancient prophets and vile sorcerers on both sides of the cosmic coin. Perhaps they receive visions, or endure the ministrations of a manipulative lesser servitor race, or just in speaking with each other come to piece things together in a sensible way. Regardless, they now have a message for humanity which they must prepare to stand the test of time. In a sense, it is their turn to record their ravings… except they are preaching sense where those others were not.

How will they arrange to create their lasting work? What form will it take? Who will try to stop them and how can they be circumvented? How can the work be protected?

How far will they go to make sure the work is completed?

What’s going on
The basis of all of this is that something wicked this way comes, or slouching, rough beasts. The characters come to realize that the end is coming, but not as soon as they expected. The fate of humanity is not yet sealed. There is little hope, but resistance itself is a worthy goal even if destruction turns out to be inevitable. All things end, not all things rage against it and draw the notice of an uncaring universe.

The characters must make sense of their realizations, and figure out a way to leave guidance and information to the children of coming generations so that humanity can prepare itself. Of course, many obstacles stand in their way…

As retired characters, the obvious enemy at first is the asylum staff. Later, intimations that cult activity seeks to prevent their efforts can accelerate the sense of urgency and lack of time. Throughout, the sense that they are not insane can be a major distraction and cause for the players to pursue. Are you paranoid when someone really is out to get you? Is someone really out to get you when you are paranoid?

As “researchers” the group is deluded about where they are, but not so much about what they need to do. They also must deal with the staff as an obstacle, and face similar threats from ‘cultists’ but do so from the point of view of being convinced they have never been insane and are currently quite sane, risking their sanity for the good of the world.

In both of these cases, using a reversed Sanity Meter to handle mental stability can serve to keep the players guessing about what is going in in their characters’ heads.


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