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Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Poisoned Sailor

A doctor is awakened in the middle of a rainy night by furious banging at his front door. If opened, a desperate, haggard-looking sailor will storm in, pleading for help. He rolls up his shirt’s sleeve, offering his horridly bulging arm for examination. Swelled and blackened, it appears to be affected by necrosis. The man begs for help, claiming he was poisoned by a rival.

“Duh bastar’ hates me guts cos my business runs strong, an’ he’s a lazy, warty ol’drunkar’ who can’t keep ep. He’s poison’ me drinks! Help me please, ain’t wanna die, oh Gawd!”

The arm responds to no medical treatment the doctor can come up with. Hospitals have no more success. The necrosis worsens by the hour.

Possibilities

1 The sailor is telling a half truth. The ‘rival’ isn’t simply jealous because of business competition, he’s seeking something the sailor has: an old trophy from a shipwreck, looking like a copper bracelet with intricate designs. The rival, actually a follower of Dagon, knows that it’s a piece of deep one jewellery, and badly wants it. Since the sailor refuses to part with it, the cultist has cursed the sailor, and will later contact the sailor for a bargain.

2 The sailor has tainted deep one blood, but is also cursed. His now-dead (human) mother found the strength of will to break free of the bonds imposed by her monstrous consort.

Furious by such unprecedent behaviour, the deep one asked Dagon to curse both she and any offspring she might have in the future. Any descendant would come to the world doomed to end his life, transformed into a ravenous human-eating monster, one far more horrible than the most degenerate deep one hybrid. Unfortunately for the sailor, the onset time for the transformation is over... but perhaps there is a way to reverse it.

3 The sailor really is poisoned, but it is incredibly potent. A creation of a serpent man sorcerer that the sailor had wronged. But how?

© Ricardo Christe

Pygmalion

A sculptor has been found dead in his desolated atelier, right in front of his latest work. It appears to be a massive black marble statue of a body, though big parts are still unfinished. What irritates is that the body seems to have multiple legs, oversized arms and something that looks like wings extruding from the back.

The other works in the atelier are normal sculptures of people, animals etc., mostly done for commission. The sculptor was considered normal, perhaps a bit reclusive, but within the range of what people expect from an artist.

Possibilities

1 The sculptor was a gambler and in high debt. He got an offer from the leader of a circle worshipping an ancient entity to secretly create a sculpture of this being for a high sum of money. Unfortunately, the criminal elements he owed money wouldn’t wait any longer, it came to a fight in his atelier and he died. The circle leader, when becoming aware of the sculptor’s death, considers this an affront against his cult and has taken measures to punish the murderers while trying to get possession of the statue...

2 The sculptor created the statue after the image of a creature he repeatedly saw in his recurring nightmares. The sculpture became alive by night and started walking around in its unfinished form on its stumps. When the artist realized, he tried to destroy the sculpture, but the being killed him. It still becomes alive at night...

3 If inspected more closely, it becomes apparent that the artist did not try to create a sculpture of a strange creature - but rather there is a creature enclosed in the marble. When the artist started to work on his next sculpture for a rich noble, the creature awakened and, after a short mental struggle, took control of the sculptor’s mind to carefully free it from its prison. Unfortunately, longer mental contact with the creature proved to be deadly for the sculptor. The creature still longs for its freedom...

© Philipp Mählmann

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Attic Window

On the top floor of that long-abandoned house with the shady history is a coffin-shaped window. The house has an ill reputation; its last owner supposedly practised black magic and was murdered in the room behind that curious window 30 years ago. The murder was never solved.

The window itself is supposed to be haunted. It is whispered that the dead owner is sometimes seen in it, and strange lights shine from it by night.

An urban legend says that if you look through the window from the inside, the world outside would look strange and wrong.

Breaking into the house and looking through the window has now become a teenage rite-of-passage. But be careful, for you can go mad if you are unlucky...

Possibilities

1 The windows glass has a strange, but unmagical, ability to store images (and to a degree, sound). The images are replayed from time to time, sometimes long after they were imprinted. Some images are repeated time after time, others appear only once. (This is how the long-dead owner is seen.) If you look through the window from the inside, you can might see the street as seen long ago.

And at some point, if you are looking in from the outside, you will eventually see the murder.

2 The window is not made of glass, but from an unknown material made by a pre-human civilisation. It stores images over a nearly infinite time. Under normal circumstances, it looks like a normal window – but things can look wrong (as latent images beneath the surface merge with the normal view).

Looked through in certain angles and light it shows aeon-old images of the laboratory that created it.

The former owner found the glass and learned much forbidden knowledge by looking through it. Unfortunately, he attracted the attention of one of the hounds of Tindalos...

3 The former owner dabbled in black magic and as a side effect trapped a weak astral entity in the glass. The entity is bored, and hates humans. It has learnt how to alter and corrupt the view through its glass prison and uses this ability to confuse and scare humans.

© Stefan Jonsson

The Crate

A character receives word from the post office that they have received a package and need to come and claim it. It is a large rectangular crate; six feet long, two feet wide, and quite heavy (it weighs about 250 lbs.). The crate is well-packaged and there is no shipping label or return address.

Possibilities

1 The crate contains a mannequin; a perfect wax copy of the character. It is a flawless duplicate of the original, but its origin is a mystery. Then, when the character has been left alone with it, the wax figure animates and attempts to kill it’s “twin.” If it succeeds, it comes to life and replaces the original.

2 The box contains a body, still fresh and well-preserved. The face is that of a stranger, but who sent it and why was it sent to the character?

3 The box contains a body, remarkably well-preserved. The face is unfamiliar, and the cause of death is not readily apparent. When the sun sets, the vampire awakens and seeks sustenance after its long journey from Europe.

© John Grigsby

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Preacher Man

Seemingly from nowhere, a preacher shows up in town, easily noticeable on the street with his filthy black cassock and white collar, living off the charity of passers-by.

Nobody knows where he came from but one day he just started showing up on street corners preaching about the end of the world. It has also been noted that the priest seems to have some obvious mental problems and some very odd ideas about Christianity.

Possibilities

1 Benjamin Corwin used to be a priest until he turned to the worship of the Outer Gods. Becoming a cultist, Corwin decided to try and enlighten the public about the Cthulhu Mythos by simply telling people about it on the street. Corwin has a mystical ability which allows him to plant the seed for mind control in anybody who passes by and makes eye contact with him.

2 The priest was once Benjamin Corwin, an investigator of the supernatural. Corwin became an investigator after one of his practitioners asked for help (which lead to discovering that the next-door neighbour was sacrificing children in his attic to something awful). Since then Corwin has been investigating the occult wherever he can find it.

It was on his last outing that he encountered something so horrific it shattered his sanity and reduced him to a homeless, rambling derelict. In his mad ravings, clues to his final investigation can be discerned by a careful listener.

3 One night the homeless priest is murdered and left dead on the street. It is not long after that more priests start turning up dead, and it appears a serial murderer of holy men is operating in the area.

© Paul Hebron

Footsteps

You are staying in a small rural hotel. You awaken at night to a strange sound, slow, even footsteps. Bright moonlight streams in through the partially open window. Bright enough to penetrate the thin curtains and illuminate the face of the alarm clock. It reads three o’clock, you rise and peer through a gap in the curtains. Below you, crossing the cobbled yard at a slow, almost funereal, pace are two men.

Both men are dressed in dark clothing, their faces muffled. They carry what appears to be a coffin, and for several heart-stopping moments you watch them as they make their slow way across the hard surface. They stop, their backs to you, as if aware of prying eyes, then their heads turn towards you. Still unable to see their faces, you feel a cold wave of fear run down your spine as one of them points in your direction then motions toward the coffin.

Possibilities

1 You are seeing a premonition of your death. How and when? There is no clue.

2 The two figures are smugglers moving a wooden crate of illegal goods. They are unaware of you and are merely gesturing to an accomplice at a window further along.

3 The ‘coffin’ contains the gagged and bound body of an investigative journalist who got too nosey. The ‘gesture’ is a warning that you have been seen, and that if you know what’s good for you, you’ll go back to bed and forget what you’ve seen. The ‘coffin’ is being transported, with its cargo, to the small cliffside cemetery where it will be disposed of.

© Andrew Parfitt

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Tales of Terror 1990 - Contents


Introduction to Tales of Terror 1990

During the course of a Call of Cthulhu campaign the constant demands of inventive Investigators can prove to be quite a strain on the poor Keeper. A booklet crammed full of easily adaptable ideas can be invaluable.

Tales of Terror was conceived with this in mind. The 'Tales' can be quickly and easily dropped into any game. While preliminary investigations are being conducted the Keeper has time to decide which (if any) of the three possibilities apply. Further details can be created by the Keeper as required.

Many scenarios for Call of Cthulhu are too big. Great Old Ones, R'lyeh, Outer Gods, and monsters the size of mountains all threatening civilization as we know it. In the midst of these major conflicts there should be smaller struggles. A nest of vampires, a haunted house, an unexpected death. Tales of Terror is brimming with these low key investigations that put saving the world into perspective.

Tales of Terror is also a source of red herrings and associated leads. On the trail of Deep Ones? (Or Lloigor? Or sinister orientals? Or vampires?) There are Tales here with the potential to confuse, illuminate and terrify.

Ultimately, Tales of Terror is a booklet of ideas. The situations here each have the potential of being expanded into a full blown adventure. A scenario is often the development of one or two isolated ideas. A vision, spark, or something. Tales of Terror consists of these ideas distilled out from the descriptive text.

Use it as you will.

(This is the introduction to the original 1990 edition of Tales of Terror.)

Wasteland


Possibilities

1 The small community is the victim of a strange, cancerous meteorite similar to the one in Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space.

2 The knoll on which the community stands was once behind German lines, and its houses used by the German Army as a makeshift headquarters. The entire area was used as a dump for chemical and gas weapons and a large amount of phosphorous. As they were beaten back the chemicals were buried in preparation for a counterattack which never came.

Over the years the containers have corroded, contaminating the knoll with phosphors and a deadly mixture of poisons, causing the yellow glow. Once in the food chain it killed vegetation, animals and eventually humans.

3 The story is very inaccurate. There is no ‘deathly brimstone light’ and no evidence of a plague on the land. The war years left the land in great neglect, the population suffered under the German Occupation and both have left what was once rich fertile land a virtual wilderness.

© Garrie Hall

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight

While on holiday in the Balkans the investigators find that their well-earned rest is not meant to be. As they leave their hotel they are greeted by a detachment of the local militia who ask them in no uncertain terms (despite the language barrier) to accompany them to the station.

The conditions in the jail are inhuman and they are forced to stay in a rancid, overcrowded, cell with cut-throats and murderers for two days. Eventually they are questioned by the regional prosecutor regarding the disappearance of a local girl on the night they arrived in the area.

Instructed not to leave the Balkans, the investigators are released without charge. However, during the ‘interview’ the following facts emerge:

There have been several disappearances of young ladies in the Balkan area. The names and descriptions change, but the circumstances are familiar. Two girls have gone missing in Bulgaria, two in Serbia, three in Albania and five in Romania. Each time the girl is beautiful and disappears at night without trace.

The more superstitious locals are talking of supernatural goings on and the prosecutor is anxious to put an end to these rumours by making a quick arrest and conviction. As the investigators are the only foreigners in the area (and therefore easy scapegoats) he makes it plain that they are at the top of his list.

Should the investigators look into the disappearances they will discover that the common denominator is a Turkish Circus on the return leg of a European Tour.

Possibilities

1 The Turks are using the girls as catalysts for a spell. The circus hypnotist turns their will to Hastur the Unspeakable and they form the coven of witches needed to call Him to the Nameless City.

2 The girls are sold as part of the white slave trade in Turkey. They are kidnapped in the closest countries to Turkey on the return journey so that minimum of care is needed. They are hypnotised and hidden in false compartments in the lion cages to prevent both their escape and discovery by inquisitive officials.

3 The circus has a freak show in which is featured a cannibal from Africa. His twisted keeper lets out his charge who has a taste for young female flesh.

© Garrie Hall

Sunday, 2 July 2017

The de'Vere Pool

Possibilities

1 The pool is haunted by the tormented soul of Charles de’Vere.

A lesser known manifestation is that each time the water turns to blood, the portrait of Charles de’Vere hanging in the hall cries real tears.

2 The soil beneath the pool is on a clay base and occasional natural movement of the earth’s crust brings the clay to the surface, staining the water red.

3 Deep below the de’Vere house a nest of Cthonians festers and seethes. It is their burrowing and worming which disturbs the soil beneath the pool.

© Garrie Hall

The Crazed

Possibilities

1 The riot was an unfortunate, but not sinister, event. The paper is owned by an evangelist called Edward Richards. Mr Richards owns a very profitable business empire and is head of the Cleansing Flame evangelical group. He is not a man to be crossed and can call upon a variety of businesses (including a satellite television channel) to aide his retribution.

The Cleansing Flame has a para-military wing, the Witchfynders. Richards is Witchfynder General and leads them in their cause to destroy evil. However, they will not accept that the Cthulhu Mythos exists as anything other than a form of Satanism.

They believe that they are the only true saviours and that no other organisation has the right to carry the fight. Any alliance with the Witchfynders will be strained at the least as they tend to act before thinking. All traces of Satan must be burnt to cinders, cleansing the Earth of evil.

2 The Karloff’s are using voodoo to further their career, swelling their audiences through manipulation and voodoo frenzy. They do not understand the powers they meddle with and cannot fully control them. A riot and the deaths were inevitable.

3 The Karloff’s worship Nyarlathotep. Using mass hypnotism they enthral the audience. Bit by bit they are building a reserve of psychic energy which is saved for Walpurgis Night. During this massive open air concert the audience will be so frenzied that during the final act, Howl at the Moon, blood will flow and the Crawling Chaos will descend to earth.

© Garrie Hall

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Smuggler's Cove

An investigator, an author of weird supernatural tales, is approached by a shifty and suspicious looking man wearing a heavy overcoat and a fur hat. He has a mass of tangled beard and the voice which booms through it is deep and powerful, and Russian.

His English is good but tainted with accent. He explains his predicament - he is a stowaway and a communist. He is also a vampire hunter. Since the revolution his group have found it difficult to pursue their quarry outside of Russian territory due to the attitude of neighbouring countries.

His group had been tracing a vampire, an ex-smuggler, but had lost him across the Baltic. Two of his men had been sent to Wismar in Germany, the known destination of the vampire. There has been no contact with them in over a month.

Now he is a stranger in a strange land, devoid of friends and allies. He has tracked down this author of strange tales to implore him to go to Wismar and find his men, if he can. He backs his plea with a small down payment in Czarist gold, with the hint of more to follow.

The house is now in a state of great neglect. It is structurally unsafe and has been threatening to fall down for many years now. The combination of the legend and its isolated location has prevented anyone from developing the site further. At the bottom of the cliff are several caves which were used for smuggling. A quite extensive cave network runs through the rock including one passage which leads up to the house.

Possibilities

1 Von Mannheim was, and still is, an active vampire. He now lives in a boat, shuttered from the harsh sunlight during the day and free to prey at night. The tunnel from the house is blocked off so that the only access to the caverns is by sea.

Von Mannheim returns periodically and the caves are filled with all manner of stolen items from his victims. Von Mannheim is alone except for a normal human aide - the captain of the boat. The captain is not a servant or slave, he is von Mannheim’s friend.

The two vampire hunters had come too close for comfort. Since his earlier discovery von Mannheim has become much more cautious, wary of the strength of his prey.

2 Von Mannheim worshipped Dagon and sacrificed trespassers to a colony of Deep Ones who live in the deepest part of the Baltic Sea. In return for the sacrifices the Deep Ones protected his ship and sometimes destroyed his competitors.

Deep in the cave network, in a cavern with direct access to the sea via submerged tunnels he erected a statue of his ancient god. Here he held his sacrifices and worshipped Dagon with the Deep Ones.

Von Mannheim is now a Deep One himself and now only rarely returns to Smuggler’s Cove. The two vampire hunters stumbled in on a ceremony. They found their cloves of garlic a most inadequate protection!

3 The legend has been used as a cover by White Russians in the years since the revolution. Russian nobility are smuggled through Estonia, Latavia and Lithuania and then to Wismar across the Baltic. The house on Vampyre Cove is a safe house and armoury for weaponry smuggled back up the route.

The Bolsheviks have narrowed their search to Wismar and their agents, the two so-called vampire hunters, tracked the White Russians to Vampyre Cove. Unfortunately for them they were caught and added to the Cove’s victims, as will anyone else discovering their secret.

© Garrie Hall

Short Story

The advert should catch the eye of any aspiring author wishing to make a name for himself in the world of strange fiction. It is entirely possible that past events have gifted the young writer with several ideas for some peculiar tales involving gods, cultists, monsters and magic.

The magazine is genuine. At least, there is a small group of people trying to put one together. However, it is destined for failure and will not survive beyond the first issue.

Possibilities

1 The magazine is being used by cultists trying to gain more mythos knowledge. This is not a very secretive way of going about it, but it may work if ‘investigators’ decide to relate their experiences to the magazine.

2 One of the authors printed in the first issue evidently knows quite a bit about the mythos, and writes a gruesome story featuring some of the gods. If contacted, he will be a useful ally in their battle against the dark forces.

3 An author, writing about a location well known to him, accidentally reveals a possible mythos presence in the locality. The story is a mix of fiction and fact, but there are certain clues and references to things which indicate that things may not be what they seem.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Grim Justice


Little is known about Grim Justice. He (it?) seems to be a creature of the supernatural, not least in physical aspect. A thing with no face, just a skull and the ability to appear and disappear into the night.

Grim Justice exhibits an uncanny ability to find his victims wherever they choose to hide. To date no less than ten known gangsters and countless lesser felons have fallen to his ‘tommy gun’.

Possibilities

1 Grim Justice is the ghost of Jim Malone, a cop investigating high level corruption and murdered by gangsters in cold blood in front of his family. His tortured soul has risen from the grave and stalks the city, avenging Malone. He is killing those that he believes set him up, from the hoods that pulled the trigger to his boss, Police Chief Nathan Jordan.

Jordan has guessed the force behind Grim Justice and will covertly hire investigators to ‘exorcise’ this menace.

2 Grim Justice is a highly organised and dedicated group of vigilantes. They have agents placed in all walks of life, from the ganglands to the courts, and can trace just about anyone anywhere.

However, the organisation has fascist tendencies and is inclined to target non-WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) individuals. Attempts to breach their security will be met with violent resistance.

3 Grim Justice is a classic case of paranoid schizophrenia. By day he is plain old Harry Brown, librarian and something of an expert in the occult. By night he is Grim Justice.

Brown was driven insane by the sight of his parents gunned down in cold blood by a lone robber. He has remained stable until recently when he witnessed another killing, pushing him over the edge.

As Grim Justice, he uses his considerable occult knowledge to magic his way to his victims. By night Harry Brown is a powerful sorcerer indiscriminately murdering criminals and gangsters.

© Garrie Hall

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Roadkill

This one happens while the investigators are in their car, somewhere out in the country. They are speeding along a shady road, anxious to get from point A to point B to further their researches. Suddenly a man steps out from the trees at the side of the road, directly in front of their oncoming vehicle. There is nothing they can do. The car slams into him.

When they get out to check on the victim’s injuries, a terrible smell assails their nostrils. From the decayed and liquescent human debris smeared across the road it is apparent that the man had been dead for a while before they hit him.

Possibilities

1 The wandering dead man was an experiment on the hoof. A Dr Frankenstein-type has a laboratory in the area, where he is conducting his studies in reanimation in relative seclusion. This one, however, got away. The doctor or his assistants may be in pursuit. The cadaver may have been a one-off, or the first in a series of escapees abroad in the countryside.

2 As the investigator who was driving surveys the splattered corpse, the horror causes them to swoon. As they lift their head, they see the road rushing by, their white knuckles gripping the steering wheel - the whole scene with the undead pedestrian was a hallucination, an REM. dream as they nodded off at the wheel. They snap awake just as the car starts to drift off the road, heading at full speed straight for a large tree.

3 The man they have just run down was a lot older than he seemed. His life had been extended by magick (see Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) or surgery (as per Cool Air). When he was accidentally killed, his body immediately reverted to its correct state of decay. The players may never learn his old secret.

© Mark Morrison

Monday, 5 June 2017

The Old Quarry



The rusting corrugated metal shed sits in a fenced off section of an old quarry, now used as a car park in dismal Northumberland seaside village. Stone was last extracted from the quarry in 1955, and the fenced off land is overgrown with brambles and bindweed. It radiates neglect.


The corrugated metal shed was originally part of the mine workings, but is currently used as storage by the council.

Possibilities

1 The shed houses BANDED GROUSE, one of seven government occult installations located around Britain’s coastline. BANDED GROUSE and similar facilities are the UK’s frontline defence in an ongoing secret magic war. The shed conceals a deep underground bunker, constructed after the government bought the quarry in 1957.

Within the bunker, a small team of intelligence officers serve the three government sorcerers responsible for maintaining the magical wards and barriers that protect the country against her enemies.

2 The quarry never turned a profit. The owners, Neptune Facilities Ltd, invested several million pounds into the project, before closing the quarry down and renting the land to the council in 1955. The council uses the old quarry shed to store highway maintenance equipment.

At the back of a shed is a small office, and beyond that is another space, with no doors. (The council has no record of this space.) In the floor of this space is an old trapdoor, which hasn’t been opened in decades.

The trapdoor reveals a rusty metal ladder which descends 20 metres to a cold, damp chamber. A short tunnel leads to a larger, ornately carved chamber that is filled with what appear to be 36 stone coffins, each sealed with wax. The stone coffins contain the true owners of Neptune Facilities, their families and key advisors. Disturbing them before their allotted waking time is unlikely to be wise.

3 Nobody visits the old quarry after dark, as it is haunted by the ghosts of three workers killed in a quarrying accident. The workers had fallen into a deep shaft that had been opened by the quarrying, and it proved impossible to recover the bodies. The accident was investigated but the true cause (neglected machinery and a callous disregard for life and limb) was ignored.

The quarry owners escaped justice, but a run of bad luck following the accident resulted in the quarry being closed in 1955. Until the owners (or their descendants) atone for their crime, the dead workers’ souls will continue to haunt the quarry.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Who is the murderer?

Miss Sarah Spencer is convinced that someone is going to murder her but does not know who or why. She needs help and is willing to pay. Two days ago she received a letter with a local postmark. The letter was typed on a typewriter with a missing ‘e’.


She was going to leave it at that but yesterday found a message in the personal column in the newspaper.
There is another message today.
She has left her job and has booked into a hotel.

The messages were telephoned to the paper and paid for by a man giving his name as Robert Cook. Tomorrow’s note in the paper is to read:

Possibilities

1 Miss Spencer is dangerously schizophrenic and quite insane. She is usually Miss Spencer, but at times of stress becomes Robert Cook. Cook is gradually exerting more control and believes that by killing Miss Spencer he will be completely free. He will, but not the way he thinks.

One room in Miss Spencer’s fastidiously neat house is messy and unkempt. This is Cook’s, and pride of place is an antique typewriter with a missing ‘e’.

2 The letter was written by Miss Jane Marsh, jealous ex-lover of Robert Cook. Miss Spencer is now seeing Cook, and Miss Marsh has sworn to kill her and frame him. She knows where Miss Spencer is staying and has posted an invitation to Cook to visit her there. There he will find the mutilated body of Miss Spencer just as the police arrive.

3 Miss Spencer is a deep one before the ‘change’ and is luring the investigators to their death. They have been getting too close. The cliff top hotel she says that she is staying in is old and dilapidated and smells of fish.

© Graham Theobalds

Dark Incal


Possibilities

1 The statue is a representation of the N’Ho, a tribe of sand dwellers making their home in the desert during the time of the Egyptians. A small enclave of the tribe still exists and Pennyworth died at their claws as they recaptured their totem.

2 The statue, with the help of a piece of translated papyrus, was used to summon Anubis. However, without a binding ritual there was nothing to keep the old god at bay. He grabbed the professor and dragged him back to his realm.

3 The professor’s jeep overheated in the desert. Unable to re- start it he set out on foot in the direction he thought his camp lay. He perished in the storm, hugging his prized possession to his chest.

© Perry Okerstrom

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Helmsdon Monster


The papers of 1913 are full of stories about the Helmsdon Monster. It is possible that some similarity between the killings can be reached.

Possibilities

1 The Monster is a ghast summoned by some foolish farmers dabbling in the occult. It came up through the caverns that riddle the area and began slaughtering the sheep. By day it hid in the caverns, by night it stalked the moors.

The farmers were terrified by the thing they had unwittingly called, but were powerless against it. However, the stories in the press attracted a sorcerer who came and bound the ghast to the caverns.

The sorcerer has just recently died, releasing the ghast from its bindings. Once again it is reaching out to the surface and feeding on the sheep it finds. Eventually it will get brave enough to attack individual homesteads.

2 The slaughters are the work of one crazed lunatic who roams the moors, killing the sheep with his bare hands. He is completely insane, and very dangerous.

3 The creature is a large wild dog, a doberman. It is quite canny and will do its best to avoid capture. It was a guard dog at a nearby manor, but was set free during a drunken party. It will attack unhesitatingly.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Toast of London


Anyone with the right connections receives the above invitation. At the meeting, dozens of London’s rich elite will be there. This is an ideal time to establish contacts, and new clients.

Note: Victor Neuberg was a medium and conjuror, and a genuine member of the Golden Dawn.

Possibilities

1 Neuberg is a fabulous fake. He is very flamboyant and every spectacle he produces is designed to milk money from the unsuspecting public. His illusions look to be completely realistic but are accomplished using sleight of hand and expensive magician’s props.

2 The magic tomes offered for sale seem to contain genuine magic formulae but are all flash and no substance. The Psychic Circle does own some dangerous works, but these are kept under lock and key.

3 In his effort to impress, Neuberg accidentally summons something a little too powerful during his act. The demon, happy to be in the material world, pushes Neuberg’s mind aside and takes control of his body. Nobody is aware of this fact. Not at first.

© Perry Okerstrom

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Theatre of Death


It has long been known that Chinese immigrants living and working in London’s docklands have imported their own brand of organized crime.

The Tongs control most Chinese businesses in London and the police have identified at least four different Tongs controlling everything from petty crime to prostitution. They believe that drugs, particularly opium, are directly controlled by the Tong known as the Rising Dragon, its leader the mysterious Doctor Cheng.

However, the police are far from making any arrests and have yet to identify Doctor Cheng. While his activities remain confined to the Chinese community they are not pursuing their investigations that zealously...

Dr Cheng is a woman, a night club illusionist called Lin May and her hold over her Tong comes from her skills as a necromancer. Lin May is extremely beautiful and twice as deadly. Cold and cunning she is the perfect femme fatale. She demands absolute loyalty of her companions but in return will help them any way she can. To her enemies, and those that break her loyalty, she is death.

While leaving the mundane world of criminal activities to the other Tong leaders, Doctor Cheng offers a highly-specialized service to the decadent rich in the shape of her Theatre of Death. To thrill hungry little rich kids, the Theatre is the ultimate decadence. A place of excitement and death not available anywhere else. Once a month a huge warehouse is turned into a great theatre to which the cream of Europe’s elite flock. The only way in is by invitation, and invitations are both scarce and expensive. Once there, guests participate in all manners of death, violence and sexual perversion.

The main attraction is Doctor Cheng’s illusory performance, but the audience is ‘warmed up’ first by a vicious display of fighting between newly dead celebrity zombies. The zombies are newly reanimated by Cheng, and the more famous the better. Cheng has connections in very high (and very low) places that supply her with corpses.

After Doctor Cheng’s performance, there are other delights to amuse the guests, including a bizarre game involving taking vagrants from the street and offering them three boxes. In two are death, the other riches. Each box has a glass back so that the audience can ghoulishly watch the poor tramp make his choice.

In other, curtained, sections guests participate in perverse sexual practices both with each other and the staff. Opium taking is commonplace, Doctor Cheng presides over it all. Her guests arrive loaded with money, most of which is spent during the night.

All the staff are dead. Some are almost fresh and barely marked, others are rotting heaps of flesh. All wear simple white aprons and many serve drinks or opium. Necrophilia is common in the Theatre of Death.

Doctor Cheng herself is constantly flanked by two bodyguards. Zombie fighters dressed in ancient, ornate armour in the manner of her ancestors. They protect here against her guests, for occasionally in their opium induced haze they forget themselves. Cheng has no real need for the guards, but it helps to impress her guests.

The guests themselves will discourage investigation into the place. All of them have much to lose should it be discovered that they frequent such a place. Curious individuals can make themselves many very powerful enemies in a matter of minutes. The police will never raid the place, Doctor Cheng’s guests will see to that. Several Scotland Yard Inspectors and prominent members of Parliament will crush any investigation before it starts. The remains of corpses, those that cannot be re-used, are dumped into the Thames and never seen again.

Possibilities

1 Lin May is the head of a small sect of The Corpse Eating Cult of Leng. After the Theatre of Death has finished she, and her cult, fall upon the zombies and feed on them. They chant and worship their foul god for many hours before the Theatre of Death is truly over.

None of the ‘normal’ clientele know of the cult and none would do anything about it. After what they have been doing, are the cult rites that much worse?

2 Lin May’s necromantic and illusory skills have their origins in Chinese black magic. She is aware of the power of the Great Old Ones and their followers but provided they do not intrude on her territory she takes no action. Her arcane arts are more than a match for most cults and if recruited she would make a powerful ally against the forces of darkness. However, making her acquaintance (let alone recruiting her) is not easy.

3 Doctor Cheng worships Nyarlathotep. During her illusory act she works her audience into such a frenzy that the Outer God is summoned to the Theatre of Death. From the moment he appears the Crawling Chaos – in the form of the black man – sits by her side. Her dream is to become Nyarlathotep’s bride, something which the god has promised many times. He has yet to deliver, but Lin May continues holding the Theatre of Death in his name. Perhaps soon he will make her dream come true.

© Garrie Hall

The Terrible Old Bookshop

The Terrible Old Bookshop is situated on Darker Street. The once green (or perhaps grey) paintwork is peeling, the windows are filthy. Inside, the shelves are stacked high with dusty books, more are in heaps on the floor and in rotting cardboard boxes. It will take several hours of careful searching to realise that there is nothing of interest to investigators. There are, however, plenty of novels by Ethel M Dell and Marie Corelli, school texts on geometry, Latin grammar, and other such.

The proprietor sits on a high stool behind a small counter, bent over a large leather covered volume. He appears to be in his thirties and is strikingly handsome in a Saturnine way. He has a neat goatee beard and if he was an actor he could make a career out of playing the devil.

As strangers approach he hurriedly stuffs his book under the counter. He will answer no questions about the book and will refuse to let investigators see it.

Breaking into the shop is quite easy and is the only way to gain access to the books. Behind the counter are two books, Magna Mysteriis and Mysteriis Mundi. They are handwritten in an unrecognisable script. Also behind the counter is a cupboard with a good, strong, lock.

The proprietor is very furtive when he leaves the shop, taking a devious and tortuous route that doubles back several times. A careful investigator will be able to tail the man until he lets himself into a house on Coven Lane.

Possibilities

1 The two books are written in English using an alphabet of the shopkeepers own devising. Given time, it can be cracked. One is a racy, partially fictitious novel, the other a diary and ideas book. The house on Coven Lane belongs to a married lady who supplies him with practical experience to write his novel.

2 The locked cupboard contains hard-core pornography. The books are ledgers containing accounts and the house on Coven Lane is a place where young children are kept after being abducted. The children are sold to various unsavoury individuals throughout the country. They are never seen again.

3 The books are occult tomes, rare, original copies. The proprietor is compiling several lesser works (kept in the cupboard) into one big volume. The house on Coven Lane is a meeting for a group of black magicians. Currently they are harmless, with only the proprietor knowing of the power of the occult. That might change, in time.

© Peter F Jeffery

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Dead Man's Bluff


The above letter arrives for one of the characters on the Thursday of the appointment.

If they check the address they can confirm that Czeminski is listed as the owner. Apart from that, for official purposes, the man simply does not exist. He is not on the tax department’s books, no birth certificate exists for him, no passport or immigration papers, no police record, no phonebook listing. Nothing.

If they go there during the day, number 117 is a dark stone house set away from the road. An unleashed Doberman in the yard discourages them from entering the property.

If they go there at night, Czeminski answers the door. He is quite handsome. He does not shake hands. The house is dark and dusty and there is an odd smell about it. He leads them into a well-stocked library, pours them a drink, motions them to be seated, and begins. “My good people, I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you. My name is Alexander Czeminski, and I am a vampire.” He is.

Possibilities

1 Czeminski is a collector of esoteric books and paraphernalia. He asks them to bear him in mind if they ever have anything of that nature. He will pay handsomely. He bears them no malice.

2 He has heard of them and guesses that eventually they might track him down, for being what he is. He has asked them here to strike up a more civilized arrangement: they leave each other alone. If he can’t, then he will attempt to kill them; maybe tonight, maybe in the weeks that follow.

3 He wants to make a deal. He lives on the dark side of normal existence and is aware of the dark things that dwell there; be they monstrous creatures, or crumbling undead, or gibbering ghouls, or ancient godlings. He is privy to information, the rumours and gossip that travels along the telegraph wires of the dead, unheard by mortal ears. He offers to fence information in return for their protection against vampire hunters, clergymen, and others. If the bargain is struck Czeminski will appear in the future, giving odd tips, translating old documents, and scaring the hell out of them with sudden appearances.

© Mark Morrison

Saturday, 29 April 2017

A Death in the Family

For one of the characters, Florence Hasket is a name tinted with emotion. Their families were very close and the two of them grew up together. They were almost brother and sister. Marriage was on the cards. Then, something happened. Florence met, fell in love with, and married, a soldier. She kept in contact, but eventually the letters stopped altogether. She has not written in years.

But a letter, even one concerning such sad news, is a welcome sight. Her father, Simon Hasket, has died and she invites the investigator to the funeral. It will be an opportunity to meet friends and relatives, and to talk to Florence.

The funeral is a quiet affair, marred by only one incident. An elderly gentleman approaches Florence’s brother and draws him aside. They talk earnestly before the man stalks off. At the entrance to the churchyard he turns and shouts “I know how he died! It’ll get you all!” Then he climbs into his car and leaves.

Two years ago, Professor Hasket returned from an archaeological visit to Venezuela. His studies have been erratic since then. He became increasingly preoccupied with a number of obscure legends and myths.

His death was particularly bizarre. He was found terribly mutilated in bed, in his room. The corpse was such a mess that it was barely identifiable, as if it had been put through a meat grinder.

Possibilities

1 On the trip to Venezuela, Hasket found some notes taken from the Necronomicon. From these he pieced together enough information to talk to some sort of ‘strange being.’ He tried this and inadvertently contacted one of the Hounds of Tindalos.

Belatedly realising his terrible mistake, he visited Professor Michaelson and together they tried to stop the Hound. They failed, but in the process Hasket had a dream - the Hound was talking to him! His attempts to foil the Hound had cost it dearly in time, it would pay the professor back by taking his family as well.

The Hound has taken Hasket. It will return for Florence and her brother one day soon.

2 Professor Michaelson accompanied Hasket to Venezuela and tried in vain to dissuade Hasket from taking sacred Indian relics from the ancient temple. The Indians, upon discovering their loss, cursed Hasket and his family. Finally their vengeance has arrived. Only by returning the relics will the curse be lifted.

3 The two men have pieced together from the fragments of an ancient Venezuelan inscription a spell for calling Nyarlathotep. Unfortunately, Hasket had a mild heart attack during the spell, ruining it. Nyarlathotep was angered by this and, once Hasket had recovered, disembowelled him. The knowledge is driving Michaelson mad.

© Ian Bond

Fire Victim


Possibilities

1 Poor Hedda is the victim of spontaneous human combustion, a rare occurrence but not without precedent. Often the victim will be burned beyond recognition, in some cases without disturbing the surrounding environment.

2 Hedda has fallen prey to a cluster of Fire Vampires who find the city of New York populated with easy prey. Prey often too slow or weak to fight back. Investigators will find many such fires in the ghettos of New York.

3 Tesla is in New York demonstrating his new machine. This generator produces immense electrical charges which are then discharged to earth. Occasionally his machine produces ball lightning, which targets victims totally at random. The fires will stop when he takes the machine to Boston. There they start again.

© Perry Okerstrom

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Black Anna's Bower

This is not the first spate of disappearances in the area. A similar series is recorded in the Parish Records for 1760 when five children disappeared from forest dwellings in an area known as Black Annis Bower Close where the Lord Mayor's celebrations took place each Easter.

Black Annis Bower Close, where Leicester forest once bordered the old city along the Dane Hills, is now covered by the Dane Hill Estate but there are no records of this.

Black Annis is another name for the Celtic earth goddess Danu, wife of the sky god Ludd. She dwelt in a round cave about ten to twelve feet across and five feet high. Known as Black Anna’s Bower, she is said to have dug it out of the sandstone Dane Hills with her own fingernails.

There Black Anna waited in the branches of an old oak growing over the mouth of the cave waiting for children to come past. She would then scratch them to death and drink their blood, hanging their skins out to dry.

Possibilities

1 Black Anna’s Bower is an entrance to subterranean caverns inhabited by the descendants of the ancient Druids. They once used the cave for their sacrifices to Danu, and tended to the Children of Danu – Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath.

They normally sacrifice their own young while saving a breeding stock of their hardiest children but, occasionally, run short of sacrifices. They are then forced to risk their secrecy and raid the surface world through Black Anna’s Bower which is hidden in the Dane Hill Estate rubbish dump.

2 Black Anna’s Bower is located directly under 17 Shakespeare Drive, the home of Stephen Johnson. Since moving in he has been possessed by a malign dryad trapped in the Bower since the tree over the cave was cut down. It has grown weak and forces Johnson to sacrifice children so that it can leave the cave for a new oak in the field beyond the estate. If it is not stopped children will regularly go missing, and their skins found hanging in the branches of the oak.

3 The Bower is a gateway to the land of the faerie, renowned in legend for stealing human infants for their own. Only the innocent are allowed there, those that have not been corrupted by the adult world of humans. All three children were maltreated by their parents and have been granted sanctuary by the faeries. The Bower is guarded by Black Anna against the evils of the outside world.

© Garrie Hall

Friday, 31 March 2017

Stray Cat Strut

As the clock strikes midnight one of the investigators is awoken from deep sleep by the meowing of a huge, battle-scarred ginger tom cat outside the window. It is raining heavily and the bedraggled moggy stares pathetically through its one good eye, pawing at the window pane. He wants in.

On granting the tom admittance the investigator gains a companion, especially if he is fed well. In return for food he rids the house of vermin, often leaving its prey as ‘gifts’ on the doorstep.

Possibilities

1 The cat has a sixth sense for danger and the supernatural. He is also an excellent judge of character. If the investigator can learn to interpret the body language of the cat he has a potentially life-saving advantage.

2 A sorcerer has 'mind swapped' with the cat, mistakenly believing that the body of the cat allows it to travel between the waking world and the land of dreams. Unfortunately for him this ability transferred to his body with the cat - and before he could swap back the terrified cat had fled to the Dreamlands, taking his body with it. He wants the help of the investigators to help him regain his body. However before this can happen he must find a way to communicate with them. The tom will be behaving very strangely until the investigators figure out what is happening.

3 Among the mice and rats that it leaves on the doorstep is a creature from the Dreamlands: an infant Moon Beast. The enraged mother-beast tracks the unfortunate cat through the secret highways between the waking world and the Dreamlands and kills it, leaving the mutilated body on the investigator's doorstep. Soon there are other killings, and cat corpses begin to appear around the neighbourhood with alarming regularity. Then, humans begin disappearing in the night. The Moon Beasts have found a way into the waking world and having killed the hated cats are kidnapping humans for slavery...

© Garrie Hall

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Smiling Jack and Mr Smith

Some years ago, ventriloquist Drew Smith made a radical change to his vaudeville act. Instead of mediocre "Gottle of gear" and "He's behind you" routines, Smiling Jack (his puppet) became a bully and "forced" Drew to cower and beg. This bizarre angle kick-started his career and he quickly became a celebrity.

Apparently inspired by his audience's response, Drew allowed the act to become steadily more strange. Smiling Jack often hit him on stage and reviewers wrote of Drew's disturbingly realistic acting. Rumours started - Drew was unstable and could be heard arguing and pleading with Smiling Jack in his dressing room.

Events took a turn for the worse when, halfway through a show and with tears streaming down his face, Drew implored his audience to rescue him from his tormentor. The shocked silence that followed was described by the papers as "Breath-taking" and "Macabre and beyond decency."

That night Drew Smith was found dead in his dressing room, his arm ripped from its socket. Smiling Jack was a never found.

Possibilities

1 Drew Smith had made a dark pact in return for fame. A demon possessed Smiling Jack and first gave him what he had asked for - then tortured and destroyed him. Once Drew was mentally destroyed the demon lost interest and killed him brutally. Then, still in its little clown outfit, it sought new prey.

2 Drew is a sorcerer who has used Smiling Jack as a juju doll to contact creatures from beyond. He has been fooling the otherworld creatures into thinking that theatre audiences are actually worshippers. Unfortunately the entity he has contacted is demanding more from his congregation and wants them to demonstrate their faith. Eventually the thing became tired of Drew's reticence and returned to the otherworld, taking the doll and Drew's arm with it.

3 Drew is a sorcerer using his act to perform mass suggestions on his audience. He has trapped a lloigor in Smiling Jack, and the suggestions which are "demanded" of him by the lloigor affect everyone in the audience.

The suggestions affect everyone emotionally, and are very useful to Drew. For instance, pity (for Drew) usually engenders some charity, anger causes increased criminal activity that mask Drew's other activities and so on. However, Drew miscalculated - one of his audience persuaded to "rescue" Drew burst into his dressing room and killed the puppet by cutting it off Drew's shoulder.

© Nathan Gribble

Peverill Manor


Possibilities

1 After the curse had struck, the witch’s grave was exhumed and found to be empty. Her corpse was never found and is still buried near the house. Her presence is disturbing the other ghosts, when she is returned to her true grave they will fade away, at peace.

2 Peverill Manor is built upon a ritual serpent people grave. Residual magic in the reptilian corpses is mistaken for ghosts.

3 Psychic emanations from a demon trapped below the manor are picked up by those above and turned into ghosts. The Church-Peverills do not fear the ghosts so the ones they create are benign. Visitors, however, are less relaxed and create terrible creatures that haunt them from their own nightmares.

© Steve Hatherley

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Ghost of Heddon Manor


Taken from Fleming’s Old Country Houses, 1917.

Possibilities

1 The Water-Spirit is an old deep one that lives in subterranean caverns beneath Heddon Manor. It is trapped there by an ancient spell, only able to escape into the manor and feed from the larder at limited times.

2 The Water-Spirit is a genuine ghost. The restless spirit of a fisherman haunts the manor. Lord Poppleford wronged him, sending the fisherman to his death in a terrible storm. He now haunts the great house and those that live there.

3 The Water-Spirit is mere legend and superstition. The combination of a damp, old house and some unusual, windswept, caverns (which produce the sloshing sounds) caused Lord Poppleford to imagine rather more than there was.

© Steve Hatherley

The Second Circle

Should anyone with experience of the Dreamlands visit the exhibition then one painting, The Second Circle, catches their eye. Painted about ten years ago by an obscure German artist, the picture is quite ordinary. It shows a peaceful beach with waves lapping at the sand. A bird is perched on a rock in the foreground.

The bird is, as any investigator familiar with the Dreamlands will identify, a varchine. These are birds of prey unique to the Dreamlands. What is one doing in this picture?

The artist has evidently painted a picture of the Dreamlands. Such pictures can sometimes be used as gates through to the Lands themselves. Particularly skilled Dreamers can dream their way straight to the locality pictured.

It is possible that the artist has painted other scenes, other doorways direct to the world beyond sleep. It is also possible, if the artist was a powerful Dreamer, that she is still in the Dreamlands. Somewhere.

Possibilities

1 The picture leads to a mist covered island. Wandering through the mist eventually brings the Dreamers to a stone circle, the ‘second circle’ of the title. This is an exact replica of a megalithic stone circle which can be found somewhere in Europe. The area is a place where the realities between the two worlds mix, allowing passage at certain times.

2 The artist is quite mad and is kept in a Bavarian asylum. There she paints scenes from her dreams; gugs and ghasts, Ulthar and Celephais, and more. If the investigators track her down in the Dreamlands they find her lucid and sane.

3 The coastline belongs to a deserted island in the Southern Seas. It is a regular stop for the black galleys that trade with Dylath-Leen and Dreamers waiting there are in danger of being captured by the men that crew such vessels. The circle refers to what appears to be either a dormant volcano, or a meteor crater.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Ripper


The last person to see the notes was one of the students at the university. He can be contacted and may let investigators see his notes. Although the diary and "Jack’s" handwriting has been compared before, the student has studied them both and concludes that they may have been written with the same hand.

Possibilities

1 Dr Black was Jack the Ripper, and has been Re-animated. He has stolen his own notes and intends to continue his research. A week later the first of a series of ripper murders scorches headlines.

2 The notes are an elaborate fake. They were written by several medical doctors to shock one of their fellows. Several ‘in-jokes’ can be found amongst the document, if searched for properly.

3 Dr Black was not the Ripper, but was engaged in similar studies. Although not of the mythos, he had connections. The diaries point to where Dr Black purchased some of his bodies upon which he worked - and notes the poor, almost gnawed, condition of some of them.

© Steve Hatherley

The Midlock Dragons


The above is the precis to a collection of papers. Little more can be gleaned from the papers which require wading through pages of old English handwriting.

It would be a considerable accolade to any scholar to prove that the Midlock Dragons were the original source of the St George and the Dragon legend.

Possibilities

1 The legend is mostly true, but the dragons were in fact a group of astral entities known as lloigor. George was an investigator of an earlier century and, armed with considerable magics, vanquished the lloigor. The lloigor would like to return, but the stone circle from which they drew their power was disrupted.

2 George did not fight any true dragons, but instead freed Midlock from the tyrannical reign of a local landowner. The description of the battle hints that the ‘dragons’ used magic, and there is still some of this lying around in the old manor.

3 There was a battle of some sort, but no concrete evidence to say whether this is the true source of the legend or not.

© Steve Hatherley

Monday, 27 February 2017

Dinosaur Experiment

Catterall is a recluse and works from his secluded manor in the centre of its densely-wooded grounds. He is regarded as dangerous by his scientific peers, and has a record of cruelty. During the Great War, he was rumoured to have performed much unnecessary surgery.

If any of the others of the expedition to Africa can be found, they will be reluctant to talk about the trip. Many bad things happened there.

Possibilities

1 Catterall is far ahead of his time and has already cloned several dinosaurs from their fossilised bones. The process was a gift from Nyarlathotep in Africa. He already has had some success and intends to display them in a years’ time, crediting them as early successes of his fake experiments.

2 The experiments work, but take much longer than anticipated. Eventually, some sixty years after they were started (and twenty years after Catterall’s death) the first ‘dinosaur’ is born. It is intelligent – a bipedal lizard man. It is the pinnacle of dinosaur evolution but the dinosaurs died out before it had a chance.

3 Catterall is insane and his experiments are fakes. However, several of his assistants are Serpent People in disguise. They are using Catterall as a cover for their own sorcerous methods for bringing their own kind through from the Permain era, along with some of the proto-dinosaurs of that time.

(Inspired by the novel Carnosaur, by Harry Adam Knight.)

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Scarlet Fever

It is a rather peculiar disease, liquefying flesh into a thick red jelly, leaving only bones and skin untouched. Bodily functions continue unimpaired until the end. It is so rare that it does not yet have a name, let alone a cure.

Victims are often completely unaware that they carry the disease. Realisation sinks in only when cut: instead of blood, jelly wells out of the wound. Their skin does not heal, and if left unbandaged shrinks and wrinkles as the victim’s liquefied flesh oozes out.

Possibilities

1 The disease is caused by a body thief. The body thief possesses human victims in the course of its evil design. It is so successful at possession, that it has not had to materialise into its original, monstrous, form for many years now.

The unfortunate human is unaware of the possession, which lasts for a maximum of six months. After that the disease, a by-product of the process, causes the human body to fail irretrievably. The body thief then moves on.

2 A vampire is afoot, feeding on pre-digested human flesh. It has two forms; the first a tall and handsome human, the other a multi-legged maggot-thing with a stabbing proboscis.

The vampire-thing needs to inject its prey with digestive juices some months before feeding. It makes two visits, injecting juices at first and then returning once its victim is ripe.

3 Nyarlathotep occasionally chooses a bride. Or groom, it makes no difference. Nyarlathotep appears to the chosen individual in full regalia, and proposes. If the chosen individual accepts, they become its bride or groom and reside in the Daemon Sultan’s court for the rest of eternity.

Those that refuse are set free and cursed: everyone they encounter for more than a few hours will die, afflicted with a terrible liquefying disease. At midnight on the night of each full moon Nyarlathotep returns to ask, again, for their hand. If they accepts, the Outer God takes them to Azathoth’s court for the wedding and matrimonial bliss. If they decline, more are consigned to a grisly fate.

Eventually Nyarlathotep becomes bored with its bride/groom, and it is time to choose another.

© Steve Hatherley

The Old Church


Possibilities

1 The floor of the church is the roof of a very old crypt. The crypt is full of the remains of bodies, all well preserved in the cool, dry environment. All the bodies show signs of being bled to death.

But one of the bodies is not yet dead, and after such a long sleep it is very thirsty.

2 Further information comes to light in original translations of the Bible. The place is very unholy indeed, devil worship was actively carried out and only after the place was cleansed was the church built. A ward against evil (similar in design to similar wards found on Neolithic megaliths) has been carved upon one of the flagstones, but it has been removed by the University for study.

Without the ward, it is only a matter of time before evil returns.

3 Removing the flagstones reveals a narrow, unpleasant tunnel. Entering the tunnel reveals a complex of narrow, winding passages. Although clearly ancient, the tunnels are structurally sound and are relatively safe to explore.

When mapped, they form a strange twisting complex of no obvious design. And despite clearly having been constructed long before the modern city above, they loop around foundations, sewers, pipelines, and other modern contrivances as if the original builders knew to avoid them.

They, and their builders, are a complete mystery.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Headaches

It is just like any other day, except for a blinding migraine that doesn’t subside until evening. It’s one of those crippling, agonising migraines that results in a day in bed, away from work, away from everything.

As a result, it isn’t until the following morning that you learn that two days have mysteriously vanished.

What you were up to during those two days prior to the migraine is a mystery; your friends and neighbours can’t tell you. In fact, some may be a little disgruntled at the cavalier way you broke appointments and ignored calls.

Little by little, you build up a picture of what you did during those two days…

Possibilities

1 The migraines are a result of fragmentary possession by one of the Great Race of Yith. Full possession was never achieved, and the creature had to leave.

Were you targeted by the Great Race? Had you discovered, or read something? Had you recently dealt with the flying polyps? If so, it may attempt to regain possession, perhaps this time it will be successful.

Hypnosis may recover some of your memories, revealing alien scenes and sensations: your time in the body of one of Great Race.

2 When you awake you find that your clothes are torn, muddy and splashed with blood. As you slowly piece together the missing time, you discover that you were the target of a coven of evil witches. They used powerful magic to possess you, and guide you to their obscene ceremonies.

Did the coven choose you at random? Or were you singled out for treatment? And will it happen again?

3 Nothing else ever happens. Ever.

Sometime later you discover that a small figurine is missing. (The figurine was carved from an oily dark brown stone, and vaguely African in design. Until now it was entirely unremarkable.) It appears to have gone missing during the missing two days. But why?

The Island

The seas of the Dreamlands are not as well charted as some would like. The eastern reaches of the Cerenian Sea are infrequently travelled and only vaguely mapped. Sailors avoid these areas, they are filled with horrors that sane men would rather avoid. However, fate sometimes lends a hand and storms whip up from clear skies to blow a ship a long way from home.

Any ship is vulnerable to these storms, all the crew can do is try to hold on and survive until it blows itself out. (Many vanish, sent to the bottom of the sea never to be seen again.) They can then try to find a suitable port for repairs.

The players are on one such ship. They are lucky and do not sink, catching only the edge of the storm. Once the skies have cleared it is obvious that the ship requires extensive work before any major voyage can be undertaken. Worse, most of the supplies have been ruined. If something is not done soon, they will all starve.

Sails in tatters and at the mercy of the currents they drift slowly towards a mist shrouded island. Dark mountains peep cautiously above the mists but the rest is hidden. However, all does not bode well, the shallows around the island are littered with the deserted hulks of other ships.

The hulks provide raw materials for the repairs, but a boat will have to put ashore to search for food and water.

Possibilities

1 This is the Island of the Cloudbeasts. In deep vents high up the sides of one of the mountains Cloudbeasts are born. The young beasts float gently out of the vents and into the swirling mass of other Cloudbeasts that make up the mists that shroud the island.

There are few legends concerning the Island of the Cloudbeasts, but all mention the great treasures that can be found in a temple hidden somewhere on the island. However, the Cloudbeasts guard their treasures well and do not take kindly to thieves.

2 The mist is not mist at all, it is web. The island is home to millions of spiders. Most are tiny, but some are true giants. They spin their web everywhere and dominate the island. The spiders have consumed every other living thing on the island except the plants. They survive by feeding upon one another, but would rather take fleshier prey.

3 They island is a verdant paradise. There is plenty of water and food to be found in the rich forest that coat the mountainous island.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Manacles

Taken from G Hall’s Myths and Legends in Cornwall (1921), this is the only recorded copy of this legend. The Manacles derive their name from ‘maen eglos’ which means ‘stone church’ in Cornish.

Just around from Manacle Point (on the nearby coast) is Porthoustock. The cliffs there are carved into grotesque shapes by extensive blasting.

Possibilities

1 The legend is partially correct and a great demon known only as the kirix is imprisoned beneath the sea bed.

2 The legend is a complete fabrication, but there was evil present at one time. Upon the Manacles an ancient, squat temple dedicated to a dark god, can be found. This is the stone church and it was abandoned centuries ago and can be found by anyone who explores the Manacles.

3 The stone church is a deep one temple, with their hybrids quarrying away at Porthoustock to free a star-spawn of Cthulhu trapped there. They are still a long way from freeing the vast beast.

© Steve Hatherley

The Disappearance

A pretty woman approaches a Private Investigator to track down her missing husband. She gives the investigator a thorough description of her husband, Phillip Wainwright, and a key to his study. She has contacted the police, but after their initial interest they do not seem to be very cooperative.

Phillip vanished during the night after working late in his study, a week ago. She found him missing in the morning and he has not been seen since.

His study reveals little. There is evidence that Phillip was engaged in much research - lots of cryptic references and what appears to be several attempts to crack a code. However, there is nothing concrete to follow up.

At his place of work, the library, his colleagues display no surprise. A policeman was snooping around several days ago. Phillip had been spending much too much time in the Restricted Access reading room. A check of its contents reveals that one of the books is missing.

Possibilities

1 The missing book was the original Al-Azif by Abd al-Azrad. This same copy is possessed by the soul of the author and Phillip, through deciphering sections best left alone, opened his mind to the ancient Arab.

Currently Phillip, under the influence of Abd al-Azrad, is working his way towards The City Without A Name in the Arabian peninsula in search of the Arab’s last remains.

2 The book is an ancient sorcerer’s diary, and Phillip decoded a spell from it to summon Nodens, the Outer God. He foolishly cast the spell and after a few moments Nodens appeared. Phillip bargained badly and the God dropped him and the diary upon Yuggoth where the Mi-Go have preserved his brain.

3 The book is a hypnotist’s workbook and has been taken from his study by the police as possible evidence. They will return it soon, when the case is closed. When Phillip decoded and recited the chants he fainted. Upon returning to consciousness he found his memory had vanished. He wandered out of the house, into the streets and onto the knife of a murderer. His corpse has yet to be discovered.

© Steve Hatherley

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Old Straight Track




Watkins’ The Old Straight Track was first published in 1925.

While ley lines are now commonly known about, they were a new theory in 1925, and someone in 1925 might want to follow them up as a way of identifying mystical or occult locations. Besides, a newspaper might pay handsomely for proof of other lines not mentioned in The Old Straight Track.

By careful use of a map, a compass, ruler and pencil one may eventually conclude that the small village of Todberry in Dorset is the meeting point of three such lines.

By visiting the village, and carefully working out angles with a compass the exact point of intersection can be found. It is in St Mary’s churchyard, and a stone cross has been erected at the exact point. The cross may look Christian, but closer examination reveals that carved into it is something altogether different – a protective ward.

The rest of the ward is formed by several old stones forming an circle. All are hidden; built into the church, hidden in the graveyard, used in the wall, toppled in a field, submerged in the stream.

Possibilities

1 The stone circle is protection against an ancient demon which will return should it be tampered with. A legend of strangers coming to disturb ‘He That Sleeps’ is handed down by word of mouth and strangers are closely watched.

2 The circle is an ancient place of worship, but has no other significance.

3 An ancient sorcerer is trying to remove the ward so that he may reawaken ‘He That Sleeps.’ The sorcerer has had little success so far...

© Steve Hatherley

The Hatching Rocks

Spherical quartz formations formed when molten rock is cast from a volcanic eruption into water and cools before deforming. Found near Mt. Etna. 1871, J. Castle.

Thus reads the note next to three 10 inch diameter spheres.

The museum is small and its geology department smaller. Nobody has properly identified the stones; they gather dust, ignored and unremarkable.

The stones are Cthonian eggs. Professor Castle found them near Mount Etna and brought them to the museum. His theory on their origin is entirely inaccurate, and he did not examine them in more detail before his untimely death in 1872.

Possibilities

1 The Cthonians followed Castle back to the museum after the theft of their eggs. Before they arrived, he put the ‘rocks’ on display. His heart failed when they tried to telepathically interrogate him and so never found the eggs.

2 The eggs have been stolen from the museum. As the tiny Cthonians slowly matured their telepathic abilities grew, and were sensed by adults. Human agents stole the eggs and took them through to the Dreamlands.

The Waking Worlds are becoming too dangerous and the Cthonians are infiltrating the land beyond the wall of sleep. The plan is in its infancy; so far only a handful of eggs have been taken through.

3 Before an adult (or human agent) can reach the museum, the eggs hatch. The babies first kill birds and rodents but grow rapidly, demanding larger prey. The initial act of vandalism is not high on the police priority list, but they take more interest when the killings begin. It is only time before an adult appears to reclaim the young.

© Steve Hatherley

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Tropical Death


Possibilities

1 One of the plants in the greenhouse is a form of nocturnal triffid and has just reached maturity. Until now it has been crawling around the greenhouse looking for prey before returning to its place.

2 One of the plants in the greenhouse is a four foot tall Very Young Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath. It has only just become mobile, and has been looking for prey. It was given to Kew after explorer Horatio Barnett returned from an expedition to darkest Africa. He died shortly afterwards and the strange plant was donated by a member of the family.

3 Smale died from contracting an exotic tropical disease. The source of the fast-acting disease is the pollen of a particularly beautiful orchid which has just come into bloom. The disease requires a large quantity of pollen to be inhaled before it can overcome the body’s defences. Smale had been breathing it for several hours before the swift acting disease took hold. Smale’s corpse is a wonderful supply of nutrients and soon it will sprout small green tendrils – new orchids.

© Steve Hatherley