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Sunday, 8 April 2018

Plague Row

It is known locally as “Plague Row”, although there are no historical records of plague in the area.

Instead, it is a run-down row of buildings, all in a poor state of repair. Those living nearby are ill, and what little vegetation there is, is twisted and diseased.

Nothing thrives on Plague Row.

Possibilities

1 Plague Row was once marked by a stone circle that was originally erected to protect against an ancient evil. The stone circle was removed in 1750s when building work started on the site. Over a period of decades the evil influence returned, contaminating everything.

The source of the evil influence is a monstrous demon imprisoned in the ground, deep below. The demon is still securely bound, but it’s malign influence seeps upwards to contaminate everything above.

However, Plague Row is just one of several locations where the wards imprisoning the demon have been removed. Someone, or something, is destroying them, and the demon is growing stronger...

2 Behind Plague Row is a deep well in which a cold, alien intelligence has made its home. The alien intelligence absorbs the life essence from organic matter, which results in malaise and decay.

3 Plague Row is not far from the site British Ordnance Factory No. 7, constructed in 1940 to manufacture munitions. The factory produced explosives for shells and artillery rounds, as well as phosphorus and other chemical weapons.

Although little remains of the site above ground (it is now a business park), the factory’s underground chemical storage tanks were never fully decommissioned and they have leaked, contaminating the land now known as Plague Row.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Dirty Curtain

Sat at home doing nothing much, the investigator hears a light tapping at the window. Upon drawing back the curtains to see what is causing the noise the investigator is greeted with . . . nothing. No sign of what caused the tapping is visible. Perhaps it was the wind?

When he closes the curtains however, the investigator sees an image ‘burnt’ into the material. The image of a face. The face is human, non-descript and not completely clear but is definitely there. The image is reminiscent of the Turin Shroud. The face appears to be that of a human male, clean-shaven, hawk nosed and bald. There is no discernible expression except possibly an air of expectation.

Possibilities

1 The image is impossible to remove. The night after its appearance footprints start appearing on the carpet. Footprints very similar in style to the image in the curtain; bare feet, definitely human and nothing more than a dark stain on the carpet: a stain impossible to remove. Night by night the footprints disappear and reappear a little bit closer to the investigators most prized possession, be it a picture, a tome, a pet or a child. If no action is taken this most prized possession goes missing along with the footprints, but not the face, never to be seen again.

2 Recent investigations have left the investigator more than a little paranoid. This severe paranoia combined with a windy night and a few condensation and smoke stains have driven him to believe that the face is real. Nobody else sees it as clearly; “Yes, there’s something there,” they say. “A faint stain but nothing to be worried about. It’s just your paranoia, relax, stop worrying, it can’t do you any harm.” Can it?

3 No matter what the investigator tries the face cannot be removed. It can’t be washed out and stain removers don’t work: it’s there permanently. If the investigator replaces the curtains, the image reappears in the new curtains. Even if he removes the curtains completely the image just comes back, but this time in the glass. Worse, the investigators work against the Mythos starts to go downhill. Every move he makes the cultists seem to be expecting, they always know what the investigator is going to do next. It is almost as though the investigator is being watched…

© Ric Norton

Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Odin Disc

The Odin Disc is a monohedron; it has only one side. It can be felt, and if moved glistens slightly – but is otherwise invisible (although the Powder of Ibn-Ghazi will make it apparent).

Compounding the problem of actually finding the disc is its size – typically no greater than a large coin. A sorcerer can spend Magic Points to enlarge the disc, which has a maximum size (for humans, anyway) of about 10 feet.

The disc is actually a portable Gate spell. Anyone standing on the disc (which needs to be of a suitable size) will be transported to whatever location they have in mind (with the usual penalties). The disc follows the (last) traveller, ready for the return trip. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to find once through the gate, as it invariably returns to its natural size.

As well as mere travel, the Odin Disc has another effect. Each time the disc is used,
Yog-Sothoth is summoned to the location that the traveller just left. Yog-Sothoth’s mood on arrival seems to be directly related to the distance travelled through the disc; the further afield the traveller journeys, the greater the number of sacrifices Yog-Sothoth helps itself to. (It should be said that a rigorous, scientific study has not been made, given the obvious limitations.)

Worse, as there is a time-lag before Yog-Sothoth appears, travellers may not realise that it is their operation of the disc that causes the Outer God’s appearance.

Possibilities

1 A cryptic reference to the disc can be found in the handwritten marginalia of a section in a mythos tome dealing with ‘The Opener of the Way’. It ambiguously states that not only the traveller can use the disc, and that the disc is ‘at hand’. The disc is bound into the cover of the book (one side is raised, the other has no apparent rise or depression), and the cover of the book must be destroyed to retrieve it. Pulling the cover to pieces activates a fire-warding spell which destroys the book and may burn the house down. Of course, the disc will be very hard to find in the cinders.

2 The investigators find a brief description of the Odin Disc and details of how to create one. The spell requires a 3” gold disc, about ten pints of fresh blood, and the sacrifice of a baby. While the investigators may not create a disc, if the spell falls into the hands of cultists they will not be so squeamish.

The spell description forgets to mention that this spell also acts to summon Yog-Sothoth.

3 The investigators return home one night to find a sorcerer (one they have encountered before) stealing their mythos-related bits-and-pieces. Realising he has been spotted, the sorcerer activates the disc and escapes; quick investigators may be able to follow him.

Meanwhile, Yog-Sothoth will be paying a visit.

© Charles Ross

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Safely Behind Bars

Mr David Bradley – a violent murderer currently serving his final year of an eighteen-year sentence – was found late yesterday evening swinging gently from the ceiling of his cell. He had hung himself using a thick leather belt.

The penitentiary is renowned for its high suicide rate, but the recent increase is unprecedented. Mr Bradley is the fourth inmate to take his own life in the last month. The prison governor, Mr Torben Stones, is investigating the deaths but refuses to comment on the possibility of corruption amongst the prison staff.

A brief visit sufficiently demonstrates why anyone incarcerated there might wish to take their own life: the drably-painted, crumbling brickwork; the dour-faced guards; the loud and abusive inmates; and the poor recreational facilities; all help to contribute to the general atmosphere of gloom and oppression.

Possibilities

1 For thousands of years the area beneath the penitentiary has housed an immaterial lloigor consciousness. It lay inert for most of this time, only recently - with the construction of the prison - did it recover from its torpor. The lloigor, named K’huterrinlis, seeks to escape by channelling a telekinetic field up to the surface through which it can escape, unfortunately a field of that length requires considerable energy. K’huterrinlis leeches this energy from the unresisting minds of the humans above.

K’huterrinlis’ mere presence is enough to create a noticeable pall of depression and despondency over the prison. This (along with draining the prisoners’ will-power) is the reason for the increased rate of suicides. However, the prisoners are not the only ones to feel the lloigor’s insidious presence. Even senior staff (like Mr Stones) are losing their motivation and the will to continue. More deaths are inevitable.

2 Mr Torben Stones, the prison governor, is a devout servitor of Eihort. Beneath the penitentiary, Mr Stones has created a network of twisting and interconnecting tunnels - a labyrinth. It is in these that he summons his master, the Dark Bargainer. Each week a prisoner is taken into the labyrinth and is questioned by Eihort. Given the alternative, most of the frightened convicts agree to Eihort’s demands. After he has been impregnated, Eihort uses the Cloud Memory spell to make the subject suppress all knowledge of their terrible ordeal.

Occasionally the spell is not fully effective, and the unfortunate victim understands the changes they are experiencing. These individuals would rather die at their own hand than the squirming proboscides of Eihort’s grubs.

Mr Stones plans to spread Eihort’s brood by only impregnating those who are nearing the end of their sentence. The convicts then leave and several months – or even years – later, the brood emerges.

3 Torben Stones is no longer completely human. While his body is of Terran origin, the mind belongs to something greater – a Yithian. Similar minds are housed within almost all the prison staff.

The Great Race uses the prisoners as subjects for temporal mental transference. In this way, the prisoners can escape incarceration by travelling 450 million years into the past. Meanwhile, the convict’s body is inhabited by a Yithian’s consciousness enabling it to study the current period, these individuals are usually smuggled from the prison so they can interact with the world outside.

This is an equitable arrangement; the Great Race can continue their research without the difficulty of having to fool the subject’s friends and family, while the human minds were allowed comparatively more freedom. There is just one small problem; many of the prisoners’ minds are brutal and violent. They caused considerable damage when they inhabited the powerful, conical bodies. While many minds were pacified; terminal force was the only solution for extreme cases. When this became necessary it meant that the minds were returned to their original forms leaving the human body devoid of consciousness. The suicides are faked, in order to disguise the prisoners’ true cause of death.

© Hadley Connor

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Ghost Train

The investigators are travelling by train, scheduled to arrive at midnight. The witching hour comes and goes, but still they do not arrive at their destination. The conductor and other staff on the train are reticent and surly about the delay. The conductor eventually makes an announcement: “Everybody remain seated. The train is behind schedule.”
“But we passed my stop,” complains a woman.

“There will be no more stops tonight,” says the conductor. He then retires to his office and refuses to answer questions and complaints.

Possibilities

1 If the investigators speak with the train staff they begin noticing anachronisms, such as dates and references to popular people or events. The staff are all ghosts from a decade ago. The conductor is a man called Josiah Brand, a ruthless and evil railroad man. Brand hated people of colour and threw hobos from the train if they were black or Mexican. White hobos were merely subjected to beatings and extortion.

Josiah Brand and his fellow trainmen were killed ten years previously (as the investigators discover after interviewing the other, equally dead, passengers) on a similarly rainy night when the train crashed over a bridge and into a raging river.

As the investigators learn this there is a horrific screech, the mournful wail of the engine’s whistle and a violent lurch as the train derails. Then--

--the train slows as it arrives, finally at its destination. Everything is as normal again.

2 The investigators are dead. They actually died a short while ago and are now on the legendary hell-bound train. The other passengers are all damned souls as well. The conductor is an evil spirit, entrusted with the task of ensuring that his charges reach the gates of hell.

3 The train has been hijacked by cultists (of which the conductor is one) of the Valusian Order of Valka. The Order is using the train to summon Ithaqua as their ritual requires that the participants are moving faster than 60 miles per hour. The cultists also need a large number of sacrifices to appease Ithaqua - which is the role they have planned for the passengers. Any attempt to leave the train will be dealt with harshly, although nobody will be killed: Ithaqua likes his sacrifices properly served.

And as the train gains speed, the cultists make their move…

© G W Thomas

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Cats

Over the last few days, cats have been vanishing. Then, a (human) corpse is found, apparently having been clawed to death, followed by several more deaths all carried out in the same grisly way. The papers quickly seize on a sensationalist piece of news - that bodies of skinned cats were sent to the victims shortly before their untimely demise.

Possibilities

1 Marty Cartwright believes that taking on an animal’s skin allows him to shape-shift into the form of that animal. Cartwright, an intense young man with an interest in black magic, lost his family in a fire. The fire was no accident and Cartwright has traced the arsonists, a group of thugs calling themselves “The Panthers.”

Cartwright researched a ritual to allow him to exact revenge in a most appropriate form, by becoming a black panther. Now he is slowly killing the gang members one by one, sending each a warning in the form of the body of a skinned cat.

2 All the victims were at some time patrons of an occult book shop and have all authored monographs for the book shop on the subject of myth and magic. They have unfortunately become the victims of a deranged killer who recently escaped from an asylum.

The woman, Catherine (known as Cat), believes she is tormented by a huge feline demon. The authors of the monographs mock the great cat-spirit and it is making her kill them all. To give them an opportunity to repent, the demon makes Cat send skinned cats to the victims. None of them have yet repented. In Cat’s lair the skins are fastened to a wall, with a picture of each victim underneath them.

Several of the authors are still alive and very scared. Should they all die, then Cat finds new victims, with no rhyme or reason this time.

3 The victims are all Dreamers, killed by moonbeasts. Several days ago, three moonbeasts crept into the Waking World, causing the cats to flee and vanish. The first few victims were deliberately chosen, but the moonbeasts have continued because it is so much fun.

Whenever they catch a cat they skin it and send the body to their next victim, shortly before attacking en masse. This continues until the moonbeasts become bored with this sport and leave.

© Lynne Wilson

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Empty Streets

Ever since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the coastal town of Safehaven, New Jersey has had a sizeable number of homeless people. This situation became especially aggravated in the Reagan years, to the point where the traditionally liberal populace of Safehaven showed signs of animosity towards the homeless. A few beatings were reported, and local aid was drastically reduced. Despite all this, the homeless remained.

Now, they are gone.

Overnight, every last hobo, drifter, and bag-lady vanished without a trace. At first, no one seemed to notice. Then a social worker voiced concern. The mayor conjectured the homeless had moved to Pennsylvania with its higher welfare benefits. The police chief argued they had probably moved to warmer climates. Most people were relieved; the streets were so much cleaner, nicer, and safer now. The streets were empty.

Possibilities

1 After the disaster in Innsmouth, the Deep Ones of the Atlantic seaboard scattered. They found fertile new breeding grounds in those impoverished by the Great Depression. They did not have to worry about another government attack: nobody cared. They have been replenishing their numbers for 60 years.

But now, they have called all their kin to a reef off the coast of New Jersey, for the stars are right, and Dagon awaits.

2 Zaka’rn, a man of Leng and a sorcerer, has opened a physical gate between the Dreamlands and the waking world. He has given a special potion (via the soup kitchens) to the homeless of Safehaven, and has led them sleepwalking to the gate, which is located in the side of a cliff on Safehaven beach. In the Dreamlands, he intends to sell the homeless to his masters, the Moonbeasts, who savour the taste of living flesh. His reward will be great.

3 A secret government weapons and pharmaceuticals research laboratory is at work near Safehaven. With the help of the mayor and the police chief, they have captured the homeless to conduct terrible experiments on them. Everybody is happy: the scientists can progress, the police chief’s work is now much easier, and the mayor’s chances for re-election are excellent.

© Markus Huenemoerder