Le Pacte (The Haunting adapted to modern day France) - Part 1
CoC 7e New to Cthulhu Modern
A couple of friends wanted to try the game. They had never played any tabletop roleplaying game before so I decided to run The Haunting for them but with a few tweaks made to the story. I wanted to tailor the adventure to them. We're french and thus the classic period isn't something everyone is very familiar with here. So, I've decided to set the game in 2017 and in France in order to make facilitate the immersion. Also, I wanted the haunted house to be much bigger so I used a plan I found in the Mansions of Madness supplement. The story is bascally the same (Haunted House, Walter Corbitt -Even though it's not him here, the knife scene) but with some additions inspired by various horror movies (My friends and I are big horror fans). This first game session lasted for about three to four hours and we're planning on finishing this adventure soon. Ok, without further ado, let's talk about L'Appel de Cthulhu : Le Pacte.
Of course : Spoiler Warning
Aurore Maréchal is an unemployed woman who used to be a medecine doctor but her heroin addiction ruined her life. Now, she just hangs around with her friends, commits minor offenses and practices mixed martial arts. Life isn't soft with her and she become tougth enough to endure it.
Eric Phitopot, on the other hand, isn't exactly a tough guy. He is tall sure but he is more dexterous than strong (35 in STR! lol) and tends to be more careful in everything he does. He has got a criminal background as a car thief but has since built a honest life as a car mechanic with his own business in the northern part of France.
(Don't ask me why they wanted to play criminals)
2/ The Case : The Last Video
Those two don't really know each other but they have something in common : Aurore's big brother David is a friend of Eric.
David has a more "normal" life than the two of them except for one thing : David is a fan of everything related to the Supernatural and the Occult, a hobby he shares with his girlfriend Camilia, and both of them run a blog called "Les Liens de L'Étrange". And it's not just a blog and "harmless" entries about rumors and urban legends, no. On their free time, the two supernatural afficionados go on trips around the country, visiting places who are said to be haunted and even spending whole nights on the sites. Their "research" are filmed and the videos are uploaded on their Youtube channel. They don't gain money with that (and don't want to) but they managed to cumulate a good number of subscribers which encourages them in pursuing their little adventures.
The couple has a habit of "disappearing" for a few days but most of the time they make some arrangement at their jobs. But not this time. Nobody has heard from them for days.
Their only clue is the last entry on the blog : a video hosted on Youtube where Camilia and David, in their car, explain that they're about to arrive at their next destination. A little place not that famous but which could be interesting to visit The place is supposed to be in or near a town called Florac, in the region of Lozère. The video was posted on December 11th 2017 early in the morning.
Aurore and Eric agree to go together to Florac and search for the missing couple. They travel together (on bikes) and arrive at Florac on Saturday, December 23rd.
The small village of Florac is located at the foot of the mountain of Mount Lozère. It's quiet and quite charming. Both investigators arrive at the local (and unique) hotel around 11:00 pm. They take two rooms and go to restaurant of the hotel to eat lunch and ask questions around. Unfornutately, the waiter ends up being a heartless asshole who doesn't want to share any informating about any haunted place or paranormal stories in Florac, even though Aurore insisted and told him that they were looking for her brother and that he might has got himself in trouble. Also, he doesn't recognize David and Camilia on the photo Aurore brought with her.
A old lady sitting nearby who has overheard the conversation and she intervenes shortly after the waiter's left the two investigators with their lunch. The old lady was touched by the Aurore's words (I liked how Aurore's player improvised some roleplay but she failed her persuasion roll!) and she wishes that her brother reveals himself to be safe and sound. She accepts to tell the two of them everything she knows : Apparently there is indeed a haunted place in Florac, well actually near the village. A few kilometers away, up in the moor, there is a very old house with a sinister reputation. The stories about the house tell that the place is cursed and that every person who moved in has vanished or died. There was a family there a few years ago... The man was an archiect who wanted to restore the house and the woman was some sort of doctor. They had two little girls and one day they've just dissappeared.
Aurore and Eric thank the old lady for her help and decide to go ask the local Gendarmerie (Let's just say it's the local Police ) for more informations and to tell them about the dissapeareance of David and Camilia. At the entrance of the station, they meet a young Gendarme. They tell him about the missing couple and how they're some sort of "paranormal investigators". After hearing the word "paranormal", the Gendarme speaks to them in a lower voice. He confirms there is a place that is said to be haunted and that the Gendarmerie already searched the place in vain when the Faure family disspeared four years ago. He then advices Aurore and Eric to not claim that there is anything supernatural regarding the dissapearance of the persons they're looking for, because his superiors don't believe in that sort of thing, there were some pranks and false declarations regarding the house and so they just won't take the case seriously. He gives them the address of the house before they leave.
Confused by all of this, Aurore and Eric decided to check the history of the house and more precisely who were the people who lived there before. They go to the city of Mende and ask around all Real State agencies they found. Unfortunately, nobody knows about the house or its former occupants. The agencies just don't keep files on the sold properties. The two investigators decide then to search the Departemental Archives (Which are located in Mende). After hours of research both in the Archives files and on the Internet, they find out that the house is actually a mansion and that it was build in 1774 by a rich merchant called Gonzague Barnabas. The man, however, never had the chance to live in his house for he fell immediately ill. He sold the mansion to an aristocrat : the Count Jean François Charles de Molette de Morangiès, the Baron of Saint-Alban.
They also find an article about the Faure family, their arrival in February 2013, their dissapearance in December of the same year and about how, according to the testimonies, both Sebastien and Noémie Faure had fallen ill during their year in Florac. Sebastien had had an accident at work caused by his condition of extreme exhaustion (It is said that the guy spent his whole free time working in the mansion). Because of the accident, Sebastien was forced to stay at home to recover and Noémie started being extremely exhausted too.The last time she was seen, on December 22th 2013, she was morbidly pale.
The article also lets the investigators know that Noémie Faure was indeed a doctor and more precisely a Psychiatrist in the Sanitarium of François Tosquelle which is located in the castle of Saint-Alban.
With these informations, Aurore and Eric decide to go to the mansion to see if David and Camilia are there.
4/ The House
They arrive at night and discover David's car parked right in front of the mansion's entrance. The car is locked but Eric manages to pick the lock. Inside, they find most of David and Camilia's equipment, a file containing printed articles and a portable computer. They take the computer and search for an entrance. The main door is locked, but not the back door. The place is filled with darkness and, according to Eric (Who finally stopped hitting on Aurore) is too creepy right now. They both agree that they should call it a night, go back to the hotel and return tomorrow morning. (Also, Aurore needed a fix)
During the night, Eric manages to access David's computer by guessing his password (The name of David's favourite horror film) while Aurore reads all the documents.
The next morning, while eating breakfast, they speak of their discoveries. Both computer and documents contain the researchs made by the couple before arriving at Florac. The Count Jean François Charles de Molette de Morangiès did live in Florac but only for the last years of his life and because his family wouldn't let him (and his wife, a low-life criminal called Marie-Louise de Lespignières) live in the castle of Saint-Alban. The documents found in the car are actually an article from the local Newspaper that was published in 1974. According to the articles there were four families who moved in the mansion before the Faure. The first familiy, the Delacvivier, who moved in 1880, disappeared and their son Michael was found dead in the woods near the mansion several days later. The second family, the Leguen, disappeared too and at first everyone thought they just left without telling anyone. The third family, the Ledoux, they left the house a few months after they had moved in. All of the Ledoux had got ill and their three children had become mad. Finally, in 1974, the Thomas, a family of english immigrants also disappeared except for Rachel, the daughter, who was found a few days laters in the woods covered in blood and out of her mind. She was sent to Sanitarium of the castle of Saint-Alban.
Aurore and Eric find it odd that Noémie Faure was working at Saint-Alban, the very same place where Rachel Thomas was sent. They decide that they will go the Sanitarium later but first, they must search the mansion.
Though it's still morning when they arrive, the interior of the house is very dark. Using Aurore's cellphone (Eric doesn't have one), they explore the mansion's first floor. The place is decorated mostly with very old furnitures, trinkets and china, as if every previous occupants had just abandoned their belongings inside the mansion. On the first floor they find a library with all sorts of academic books and where Eric finds a keychain with apparently all the keys of the house (Damn luck rolls), a music room with a piano, a cello and a violin in very bad conditions, a dining room with three unfinished plates of something that once was soup or maybe pasta but it's hard to tell now. In a pantry near the dining room, they find two big bags of salt. Finally, in the living room there are two sleeping bags on the couch, a proof of David and Camilia's presence in the house. Near the chimney, there is a painting that Aurore finds disturbing : Saturn Devouring His Son.
There are two set of stairs going up. One located on the east side and the other on the west. They rapidly understand that the mansion was originally divided in two, with one side given to the servants. They decide to ignore the door behind the eastern staircase. It probaby goes down to the basement and they have no plan on going there for the moment.
The two investigators go upstairs via the eastern staircase.
Up there, they find strange lines of white powder on the threshold of the each room of the floor. Aurore touches it and thinks it looks like salt but she can't be sure. Inside what appears to be a little girl's room, they find a odd drawing of a dark figure with bright red eyes. On the pictures, it seems that the figure is in the girl's room, watching her in her sleep.
On the floor, near the drawing, there is a toy cassette player with a microphone. They play the record which sounds very bad but seems to be the lullaby "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". They leave the drawing and the cassette player here and explore the rest of the floor. First, there is a baby's room (With a broken video camera they pick up), then a game room and lastly the master bedroom and a small space with couchs, a baby's park and a computer. There, there are photos who are strangely damaged. It looks like the pictures has decomposed. One of them seems to show a couple with a little girl and a baby.
Near the bed of the master bedroom, Aurore finds a book about Spiritism and the art of contacting the Dead. While she discusses her discovery with Eric, the two spot a bizarre mark on the ceiling... Some disguting yellowish substance like pus is coming through the wood and dripping on the bed.
They relulanctly make their way upstairs to check it out. There, they only find a attic and storage rooms. There are mouse-traps on the attic floor and they find a door leading to another storage room. There, there is a chair right in front of the door and behind it, shelves with various objects. Suddenly there is a noise coming from the shelves. Some... tapping.
They move the shelves, revealing a hole the size of a fist in the wall. Aurore approaches with her phone's lamp but she is immediately attacked by a swarm of moths coming from the hole. After they managed to kill some insects and drive the others away, Aurore checks the hole once more. It seems there is a cavity as large as a man in the wall, going from at least the attic's ceiling to below this floor. Alas, it's to narrow for her to see exactly how far it goes down.
Suddenly... They can here "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and they rush to the second floor. They run downstairs but find nothing but the cassette player working on its own. They take the tape out and go back to their exploration. This time they will explore the servants quarters.Checking the servants quarters on the second and third floors, they find what seems to be Sebastian Faure's office (installed on the third floor), rooms which were in the process of being repaired/restored and a portrait of the Count in a storage room on the third floor.
Then they suddenly hear noises : footsteps and a kid's laughter from downstairs. They rush toward the stairs.
Fortunately they don't get separated while going downstairs.
They don't see any child on the second floor, but there is something in front of them, right next to the master bedroom's door. It's a dark figure, a pitch black human figure with eyes that look like fire. The thing enters the bedroom when they suddenly hear something else : someone is making noise with the piano in the music room!
They run downstairs but decide not to follow the noise. It's time they get out of here!
Going back to the back door, they find it closed and, worse, the keyhole has completly vanished! They go to the main door. Same thing, the door locked and all of the four locks installed on it are gone. When they turn back, they see on the other side of the main hall a little girl wearing a hat and a yellow parka. Her empty gaze makes them speechless. The girl flees to the door behind the stairs...The door to the basement. Aurore and Eric go to the pantry and are lucky enough to find a kitchen knife. Aurore takes it (Eric already has one) and also pick some salt from the bags. She remembers something Camilia once said to her : "A lot of cultures consider salt a purifier which could ward off evil".
The two of them prepare to open the door to the basement.
And that's it for the first session!*
Even though I've changed a few things, The Haunting is really fun to run. It was the second time for me and I just can't wait for the next session. (And I have some ideas in the back of my head... )