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Ian Proano

Would you play this scenario?

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I am writing a Call of Cthulhu scenario, and was wondering if this sounded like one that would be fun to play?
 
A group of occultists took up lodging in a small town in the heart of the Pennsylvanian forests when they discovered an ancient underground Pawnee burial chamber for which they had been looking for a decade. Inside was a tall stone altar, large rectangular slots cut into its sides. On top of it, surrounded in green flames, an animal skin scroll rested; the final teachings directly from an Ancient, containing vast power.
 
But in order to get past the fire to their prize, the occultists found that they must find specific people to place within the slots cut into the altar. These persons needed, described in archaic writing throughout the temple, must be those who had committed specific wicked deeds. So the occultists set up a shop in the small town, and began to kidnap those they needed over the course of ten years.
 
The last victim, a young schoolteacher named Sarah Marneski, has a childhood friend in Harrisburg who contacts one of the investigators. She asks for help in finding Sarah after receiving a concerning letter from her and finding her friend disappeared from the small town. The investigators must follow clues concerning the various disappearances in order to find traces of the cultists and discover the temple where their ritual is almost complete.
 
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I would appreciate any and all advice and constructive criticism you may have.
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Just to understand - are those kidnapped victims still held captive by the occultists, or is this a rite of sequential sacrifices?

If they are kept alive, there could be leads along the logistics to keep that number of people fed and provided with basic care. On the other hand, the occultists could have created a cover business like e.g. providing an elderly home service.

This is a quite straight detective scenario, with overtones of the supernatural only at its conclusion - a typical scenario to introduce player characters to the mythos. How will your scenario rake in characters experienced in mythos-related mysteries?

 

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Sounds similar to The Horror at Red Hook - a HP Lovecraft story about a cultist who sets up mass sacrifices on an industrial scale on the back of a people smuggling operation. Big difference is instead of gaining access to a scroll, the goal of the cultist is some ghastly sorcerous personal transformation, to defeat old age and who knows what else.

The Horror at Red Hook has come under a lot of criticism for alleged racist overtones - many of the perpetrators were foreigners just off the boat, though they were led by a white occultist.

Still maybe worth reading - no problem borrowing some plot twists from Lovecraft to spice up your new scenario :-)

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On 4/8/2017 at 0:07 AM, EricW said:

Sounds similar to The Horror at Red Hook - a HP Lovecraft story about a cultist who sets up mass sacrifices on an industrial scale on the back of a people smuggling operation.

Yes, it's just horrific, but you have to admire the business model :)

On 4/7/2017 at 5:35 AM, Ian Proano said:
The last victim, a young schoolteacher named Sarah Marneski, has a childhood friend in Harrisburg who contacts one of the investigators. She asks for help in finding Sarah after receiving a concerning letter from her and finding her friend disappeared from the small town. The investigators must follow clues concerning the various disappearances in order to find traces of the cultists and discover the temple where their ritual is almost complete.

This is good, as one of the methods of getting an audience involved in horror is in introducing moral ambiguity that they can identify and even sympathize with, but where the outcome of both choices is pretty bad, but one is less bad.  The ambiguity here begins with asking "what did Sarah do, and why?".  No doubt the occultists are in it for the power, but what if the things the "wicked" people have done are just awful, and the occultists aren't merely opportunists but people who seriously considered the moral implications of their actions, and tried to find the worst offenders they could, and will make a serious and reasoned plea to that effect?  Suddenly the ground of moral certainty slips away, and the heroes become mere protagonists, then you shunt home the Cosmicism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmicism

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I agree with some of Darius West's points. I like the idea that each of the prisoners has committed something truly awful in order to make the list. For example, having their own siblings murdered for inheritance money, secretly killing a friend to steal their lover, impregnating their own daughter - Okay okay, maybe not that last one. There's a line somewhere there. The point is, having doubt as to who's side to be on could make for some interesting twists in the story.

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The sacrificial "victims" could be leading cultists themselves - which would make the ritual a gruesome attempt to concentrate the knowledge and power of the worst humanity has to offer into one person.

The investigators are expendable decoys to distract from the real rescue attempt.

"Spies Like Us" meets "Night of the Living Dead"

You could have all sorts of fun with the "rescue" scenarios. Furious rival cultists thirsting for revenge all alone with the rescuers, badly in need of recharging their necromantic potential. 

See how long you could convince players Sarah was innocent in the midst of mounting evidence to the contrary.

Of course the ritual would go horribly wrong if performed, it wasn't designed for humans.

 

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I'd make one of those Terrible Sinners be someone who has done something ritually-proscribed but (in the modern world) trivial.  Everyone else has committed horrors like murdering a parent...

but ONE of them is guilty only of... oh... say, eating a mango during a solar eclipse, or playing soccer without having washed at sunrise, etc...

 

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