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Hello Dear Friends,

I was recently running "Servants of the Lake" from "Doors to Darkness" supplement, for a group of five investigators: three MU students, an archeology professor, and a physician (Actually, the professor did not take part in this adventure.) This is a part of a longer campaign and investigators already have some knowledge of the Cthulhu Mythos. I should probably mention that three of them are indefinitely insane as well. (IN THE FOLLOWING, THERE MIGHT APPEAR SPOILERS) Anyway, at the end of the scenario, one student was unconscious, hidden in the motel room by his friends, while two other and the physician were dragged by Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Brophy's to the clearing, to be turned into servants of Gla'aki. Long story short, I gave my players plenty of opportunities to run away, even turned Gla'aki's avatar against some of the "zombies" to give them even more time, but due to bad decisions and bad rolls, only one student (Rachela) fled, decided to carry the unconscious friend out of the motel to their car, and started the engine.

Here I asked those two to leave the room for 5 minutes and continued the scene at the clearing with the physician and the last student. They both were dying, so I asked the players how would they feel if their characters were turned into undead slaves of Gla'aki, retaining their memories and personalities, and if they wanted to continue playing such characters. They both agreed gladly (poor fools!), so we rolled if the transition was successful, and it was. I described the scene how Gla'aki turns them into its servants, leaving large holes in their chests. I asked the rest of the players to join us in the room, and described how Rachela sees her two friends emerging from the woods, running and screaming to wait for them.

So here is my question. How to incorporate into the game the fact that two of the investigators are now undead human-looking monsters without free will? This is a very broad question—I am looking for ideas regarding the plot, roleplaying, mechanics etc. Normally I would not allow anything like that to happen, decreasing their Sanity to zero and making them NPCs, however we wanted to try something different. I have several thoughts on my own, see below, but would be interested to hear any suggestions from you.

Some of my loose ideas are:

  • Now the group has two "agents" of Gla'aki, who will try to follow its agenda; pretending that they are "normal" humans,
  • I want to let players to do whatever they want, but from time to time they will be getting orders from their god, that they can not oppose,
  • To make my players understand, that becoming undead monsters was not a gift of immortality, but rather an unforgivable profanity, these orders will be disgusting beyond any measure,
  • The rest of the group will be given small hints that there is something wrong with the physician and the student,
  •  I wanted to increase max HP of the servants, because they are undead now; I am still thinking about other stats,
  • The backstory entries on the back of their character sheets will be changed accordingly,

 

 

 

Edited by Tranquillitas Ordinis
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I don't think this will work in a campaign, especially over time. The longer the former Investigators are Servants of Gla'aki, the more undead they will become in both appearance and actions so everyone will soon see what they really are now.

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You can have a lot of fun with this. Tell them they don't feel any different, but they have this nasty would which won't heal.

The truth is Gla'aki now knows where they are and what they are doing, and passes this on to cultists, so their presence is a constant threat to the rest of the party. But give them a chance to believe they can somehow still contribute.

As their appearance starts to deteriorate, suggest they can use makeup to hide the unnatural skin tone etc.

The smart thing to do is to simply walk off into the night and never be seen again. There is no cure, and their continued presence just does harm. But it might take the new Gla'aki servants a while to realise this!

Edited by EricW
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On 7/6/2020 at 9:40 PM, ColoradoCthulhu said:

I don't think this will work in a campaign, especially over time. The longer the former Investigators are Servants of Gla'aki, the more undead they will become in both appearance and actions so everyone will soon see what they really are now.

Dear ColoradoCthulhu,

We are in a middle of a campaign, there are about 12 sessions left (equal to about 1 month in the game world). I think that since Brophys lived 60 years as servants of Gla'aki, and there was not disturbing description of their appearance in the scenario, I assume it is possible for some of the servants to keep their "fresh" look for quite some time. I was planning to slowly, maybe once every 2-3 session, describe weird features of their appearance to other players, as a hint that something wrong is going on. Maybe a good idea is to introduce a "decay progress" checks (rolling for Luck or CON every couple of days). This would make their APP deteriorate in time and other stats reach the "zombies" stats (higher HP, lower DEX etc.)

2 hours ago, EricW said:

You can have a lot of fun with this. Tell them they don't feel any different, but they have this nasty would which won't heal.

The truth is Gla'aki now knows where they are and what they are doing, and passes this on to cultists, so their presence is a constant threat to the rest of the party. But give them a chance to believe they can somehow still contribute.

As their appearance starts to deteriorate, suggest they can use makeup to hide the unnatural skin tone etc.

The smart thing to do is to simply walk off into the night and never be seen again. There is no cure, and their continued presence just does harm. But it might take the new Gla'aki servants a while to realise this!

Dear EricW, thank you for all your suggestions. They are very good and I will certainly use the makeup one. Finally, my players will have a chance to use "Disguise" skill!

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I ran the adventure late last year, your outcome seems similar to mine although no servant conversions. Without giving any spoilers, there were clues bridging it in to the Amidst the Ancient Trees in the Core Rulebook. Take a look at that scenario, I think your two players would be a good bridge.

I'd suggest having word with them privately and getting them new characters ready for the inevitable. As @EricW said the smart thing to do is to get them to walk off in to the woods... Just make it the woods of Vermont.

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Dear David Scott,

I know Amidst the Ancient Trees, and I like it, but it does not fit our campaign. Thank you for the suggestion tough. It has a pretty complicated plot, so I will not explain it here, but it revolves mainly around the old artifact, the Crown of St. Sieghbert (from the Nameless Horrors scenario An Amaranthine Desire). One player's character, an archeology professor, was turned old due to its mysterious power, and wants to study it to undo the change. A chair of the department—so boss and friend of the professor—happens to be a sorcerer who wants to posses the crown to gain control over time, and to summon Gods from prehistoric ages.

My idea was that one of the jewels in the crown might be a crystal from Gla'aki's prison, and now these two servants (who were helping the archeology professor so far) will try to steal the crown from the professor, and take it to their master. It will not be easy, for various reasons. But basically, they will act as Gla'aki's secret agents, who want to obtain the crystal without making much noise.

I think this would introduce a nice tension in the group, due to several different agendas of people involved, will give the servants no choice about their goal, but will also leave players enough choices of how to obtain this goal, so that they can still enjoy the game. I talked to players, and they know how the situation looks like: that their characters are dead, and that may need a new ones in the future. They agreed to role-play servants, I think mainly because they liked the idea of forming a "secret group" inside their already secret party of investigators.

I am saying all this, to give you the rough scheme of the plot, and because I think just walking them off into the woods would not be much fun for the players. Knowing them, I think they would be much happier if something much more terrible happened (being revealed and killed, committing serious crime, performing blasphemous ritual, ruining life of other characters etc.), since they made an ethically doubtful decision, i.e. becoming servants, and there should be consequences. (Although this was a decision of players, and not their characters—since their characters had no choice, once they were captured and killed.)

Anyway, since we have now one month break before the next game, I still have a lot of time to think about all options and—appreciating your great ideas—I am kindly asking for more.

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