Setting: The setting of this scenario is easily switched to any city or town. A suburban area of any place in the world will do quite nicely.
Skill Level: All this scenario needs for skill is a talented Keeper. This adventure is a wide open one, and needs a GM who can keep things interesting while adding his own angles. New Keepers may wish to have a few games under their belts before running this one.
Time: This adventure can be completed within three hours. Keepers can very easily alter this for a longer, more complex scenario.
Game Time: I've always felt Cthulhu in the Twenties as the most enjoyable, so I've set this adventure in 1925. I've set the starting day as March 1, making Priceless and artist Henry Anthony Wilcox, from "The Call of Cthulhu," kindred spirits. According to Lovecraft, this was a period of heavy dream sending by Cthulhu. It can be converted with ease to any other time period.
Source-Books: A Keeper needs only a core rules book to successfully run this scenario.
Scenario: One participant should play an artist. All other players need to know the artist, but occupation and age can have a wide range. Having the artist as an NPC can bring unique spins to this adventure as well.
Notes: Keepers who have a player who has an artist character should make that person the main figure. In test play the character's name was Mitchell Priceless -- a hack painter. From here on in, we will use Priceless's name.
Beginning Play: One day in 1928 Mitchell Priceless, a 29-year-old hack living with his parents, woke from a dream and began painting in his bedroom. When his mother checked on him at 6 pm, she found him naked and completing an amazing piece of work. The painting was that of a flat seascape right before a storm. Although a simple painting, the viewer gets a feeling of unease and dread that only a truly great work can bring forth.
Priceless's mother, who had been depressed for a month due to the sudden death of the next door neighbor, her best friend Lizzy Grady, was so impressed by the art she hung it in the house; something she'd never done before. Over the next week, she began to show the work to anyone she could get to come over.
A week later, Priceless returned home from his job at the supermarket to discover the painting gone. No one was home and when Mitchell walked into his bedroom there was $300 on his bed. Later in the evening his mother informed him that she had the new, next door neighbor, Mr. Latt, into the house to see the painting. He was so impressed he offered the money then and there, and a deal was sealed.
Priceless was a bit depressed, feeling he could not reproduce such a work again. He was trying yet in vain. Several days later he again woke from a dream he could not remember and began painting. This time the painting was of a seascape with waves crashing over a distant rock formation. The picture is quite gloomy, almost hard to look at, and even more effective than the first.
What's Really Going On: Mr. Latt, the new neighbor, has his own agenda. A high-ranking official at Exxon, he became intrigued by the great water beast Cthulhu after reading a fragment from the Necronomicon while on an oil dig in Saudi Arabia. That was fifteen years ago, and since then he has dedicated his life to unholy sciences. He knew of Priceless from a horrible art show in town a few years ago. At the show, in disguise, he was scouting talent.
Priceless was perfect: a lousy painter who really wanted to make it. Latt then did some research, planned and executed a poisoning of Lizzy Grady; then after a brief period, bought her house. He then began casting an Open Dream Way spell to Priceless. He obtained the personal components necessary by rooting through the family's trash late one night. Mr. Priceless caught him, and Latt quickly replied that a stray dog had knocked the barrel over and he was trying to be a good neighbor.
Latt has the financial resources and wants to try and pin down the location of the dread city R'lyeh in the hope of using Exxon equipment and money to fund an exploration trip there under false guises. In GMing this scenario, I did not even tell the players this was Latt's plan. Keeping the adventure closer to home and more commonplace makes it a lot more terrifying. (Saving the world scenarios never did much for me.)
Priceless fits in as a tool. He will continue to paint clues he receives via dreams. Each dream helps zero him in on locations, landmarks, etc. In fact, Priceless wouldn't really care if there wasn't such a drawback. Every new dream-inspired painting saps him of one point of strength and 4 sanity points; enough to keep him weak and right on edge without totally losing it. Receiving a dream once a week is a slow burn, enough to keep him out of the nut house. However, soon enough, it could kill him.
Next Steps: The rest of the scenario depends on a clever Keeper. There is a lot of room for improvisation, and working in things from a larger campaign. This scenario can take either a few hours or a few sessions, depending on your likes and dislikes.
What's Happening: Over the next four weeks a new dream will be received by Priceless and his health and sanity will deteriorate. After 12 points of loss over a three-week period, Keepers should begin to give the artist phobias. I made him afraid of water due to his dreams. He would not bathe or shower, even use the indoor plumbing. As his strength dropped, he began to refuse even water, putting him in serious risk for a quicker death.
Other players will need to step in now. Maybe you've a psychiatrist character in your campaign. Priceless, as an NPC, could be brought by his mother, and the player takes a great interest in the case. Maybe he's a friend or brother dying and losing his mind in front of his family. Or maybe he (or she), is still able to know something must be wrong; and something must be done.
Money, Money, Money: Over the next seven weeks these are the paintings the artist will subconsciously paint, as well as the prices Mr. Latt pays for them.
Painting Two:Crashing waves over a distant rock formation. Latt pays
Painting Three:An amazing reproduction of a head piece of Easter
Island. Latt pays $300.
Painting Four:The bottom of the ocean with odd and untraditional
formations in the background. Latt pays $500.
Painting Five:A darkened antechamber with a red Elder Symbol on a
wall. Latt pays $500.
Painting Six:A very gruesome head of a bloated octopus. Latt pays
Painting Seven:A distant portrait of the dread city R'Lyeh. Latt pays
A really good idea is to allow players or NPCs to bid in the Priceless home against Latt. If bidding takes place, he will pay five times the amount he would without competition.
Different Strategies: Should the artist throw out the tools of his trade, the dream will drive him so completely that he will either buy new materials or improvise. Cat's blood for red, cow's heart for brown, urine to coat the canvas . . . The evil must be stopped at the source.
The Source: William Latt, Age 55, Corporate official, Exxon Co. He is a world traveler and makes a quite comfortable living -- $33,000 in 1927. He is patient and methodical in his planning. Very intelligent and even more cunning, he uses every angle to obtain Mythos knowledge. The present plan is working quite well.
|ST: 10||DEX: 11||INT: 16||IDEA: 80|
|CON: 15||APP: 11||POW: 18||LUCK: 90|
|SIZ: 14||SAN: 0||EDU: 16||KNOW: 80|
|Sanity points: 0Magic Points: 19Hit Points: 15|
Current History of Mental Illness: One of Latt's most glaring mental disorders is his absolute ability to tell the truth. Even when caught in a lie, he will begin to make excuses. He is intelligent enough to get away with this most of the time.
Latt also suffers from extreme case of Tonitrophobia (fear of thunder). Is it thunder or almighty Cthulhu beginning his rampage, catching Latt unprepared and doomed like the rest of the masses?
Latt claims he is married, and this is partially true. He was married for thirteen years to Mary (O'Brien) Latt. He poisoned her five years ago and now goes around dressed as her from time to time. He is excellent at imitating voices, and has a base of 67% of fooling someone over a phone, in the complete darkness, etc. Performing as his wife, give him a +15% over the his base chance for all his years of practice. He would not, for example, be able to imitate a person and slide it past their parents.
Tomes Read: Latt has viewed some fragments from the Necronomicon and has read Cultes des Goules, in its entirety.
Spells: While on an exploratory mission for Exxon to the North pole in 1919, he was taught a new spell, Open Dream Way (aka Dreamer of the Dreamer).
Open Dream Way: This is a variation of the Send Dream spell. An individual casting this needs a bowl of copper (actually a metal of alien origin). The caster places a piece of the target's personal property at the bottom of the bowl. Then a mix of ten herbs are placed in specific order on top. Light the contents on fire. The caster then kneels and begins to chant a mantra taught to them by an elder. It must be memorized as there are no written recordings -- this is forbidden. Each mantra is different for each being.
A cost of 1 POW point is cast for each 10% chance of success. Success means the dream way has been opened up without the dreamer even knowing it. The target is very susceptible to dreams from the other side. If the spell fails, the caster then becomes the receiver and gets the 4 SAN point loss and 1 ST point loss. All losses are permanent.
Sometimes a caster's target will be himself. Information can be received in this fashion, such as clues to solving an intense formula, creating a vaccine, discovering where a lost loved one is. However, not all dreams are true or can be remembered.
Equipment: Spell components, mock Dagger of Thoth (no magical powers). Pewter ring of an octupus head worth $500 -- head can be moved to release a fine cyanide powder.
Keeper's Turn: Keepers should let the scenario flow at the players' pace. Allow a lot of role playing so that an eerie feeling of distrust comes over the players whenever they see or talk about Latt. As attentions turn more and more to the correct cause, some players may wish to kill Latt. Strongly persuade players against this course of action. The vast majority of today's problems are solved without murder, and even more so in America in the 1920s. Such an act should be viewed by players and NPCs as an abhorent, extreme, action bordering on the insane.
Created: December 5, 1999; Updated: August 9, 2004