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CoC in the Great Lakes - Need help

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#1 Bishop

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 09:02 PM

CoC / Delta Green Campaign
 
So over the past few months I have had the nugget of a CoC / Delta Green campaign tumbling around in my head. It all started with 2 different bits of history I happened upon. It would be a campaign spanning 2 eras, the pre-Civil War and the 1980s Delta Green era.
 
The first was stumbling across the USS Michigan. The US Navy’s first iron-hulled warship who spent a very colorful career on the Great Lakes Patrol. Reading up on this revealed quite a bit of fun history surrounding the Great Lakes at the time.  The Timber Revolution and timber smuggling, which led to the ship being rammed twice, once by ‘timber pirates”.  It also played a central role in the Beaver-Mackinac War that culminated in the assassination of James Strang, the self proclaimed King James I, who headed up a sect of Mormons on Beaver Island, MI. in July of 1856.
 
The other was reading about the excavation of the Steamboat Arabia out of a field a half mile from the Missouri River. The Arabia struck a dead fall and sunk into the mud of the river in August of 1856. It was later excavated in 1988, where much of its cargo was nearly perfectly preserved and intact. There is a museum displaying the cargo in Kansas City, Missouri.
 
The idea is the characters are Federal Agents tasked with dealing with the timber smugglers of the Great Lakes that stumble upon a mythos cult of some sort. The USS Michigan would be central in this. Although I didn’t really want to use James Strang, I did want to use the events surrounding him as inspiration.
 
The agents would deal with the cult in some way that leads to a chase across Missouri to have some sort of showdown on the Steamboat Arabia that climaxes in the sinking of the boat. Although officially over with the death of the main antagonist, there would be some things left open.
 
The Delta Green part of the campaign would likely start with someone discovering the “official report” that would have described the events above, leading agents to eventually learn about the excavation of the boat and exposure of some artifact lost in the wreck. The rest of the campaign would be dealing with the repercussions of these events.
 
Now, my stumbling block is this, I can’t think of a good mythos entity that is involved in this. I want to avoid Nyarlathotep. I believe he is way overused. I thought about Ithaqua, it being farther north, but that didn’t feel quite right. So I need help. I need a mythos entity and a McGuffin associated with it.
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#2 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 09:46 PM

What do you want the cult to be like?


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#3 Bishop

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:07 PM

What do you want the cult to be like?

 

I am not actually sure.  I thought something similar to Strang's Mormon colony.   Just a group trying to find some place to worship as they please with little outside interference.  Nothing overt like a coven of witches, but something a little distasteful to the locals though.

 

Now I had considered Shub-Niggurath as an entity.  I can picture a scene of the USS Michigan having to turn its guns upon a Dark Young that was summoned by the cultists.


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#4 gomyar

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:22 PM

The idea of dark young + timber pirates made me laugh.

 

That's not timber...



#5 andreroy

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:26 PM

Deep Ones cult of Dagon and/or Hydra...or just a powerful Star-Spawn of Cthulhu.

Tsathoggua and some Voormis or serpentfolk could work too.

#6 Bishop

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:51 PM

Deep Ones cult of Dagon and/or Hydra...or just a powerful Star-Spawn of Cthulhu.

Tsathoggua and some Voormis or serpentfolk could work too.

 

Refreshing myself on the Voormis led me to the Gnophkeh and then to Rhan-Tegoth.  Now there is an entity that hasn't been over-exposed in the Mythos. Certainly a Great Old One most players will not be overly familiar with.  It could be a good entity to choose.


Edited by Bishop, 13 June 2017 - 11:07 PM.

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#7 andreroy

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:00 PM

I got to admit, that he would fit the bill with his amphibious nature and being elatively unknown, that works even better...no metagaming :)

#8 Bishop

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:31 PM

..no metagaming :)

 

I was thinking the same thing.  Since there is so little written about Rhan-Tegoth, I can make up as much as I want about it.  

And now what would be a good McGuffin for it?  Maybe one of the original scrolls from the Book of Eibon or copy of the later Livre d'Ivon? Something that talks of the worship of Rhan-Tegoth.

 

And please, anyone else reading this. I am still very open to other ideas.  The above is only a first line of thought on a possibility.


Edited by Bishop, 13 June 2017 - 11:32 PM.

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#9 andreroy

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:41 PM

The article does reference to the 8th Pnakotic Manuscripts...so the Pnakotic fragments. So maybe a newly discovered fragments either a Native American rock carving/painting or drawn/painted by Native American on pelt(s). You could add a mix of commonly found dead spels as well as Rhan-Tegoth related spells

Edited by andreroy, 13 June 2017 - 11:41 PM.


#10 Harndon

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 02:45 PM

Never properly define what they worship, leave conflicting "hints" as to what it might be, and watch players who have Mythos knowledge drive themselves nuts trying to figure out what it is. Maybe the cultists aren't even 100% sure. 



#11 Bishop

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 03:24 PM

Never properly define what they worship, leave conflicting "hints" as to what it might be, and watch players who have Mythos knowledge drive themselves nuts trying to figure out what it is. Maybe the cultists aren't even 100% sure. 

 

I am sure to do that already. But I need to know what it is just to keep some continuity.  I wouldn't flat out call it Rhan-Tegoth. Of course once the investigators encounter it or its description in some meaningful manner, a Mythos Roll could give them its name.    This is part of needing to know what it is first so I can come up with some interesting names for it other then Rhan-Tegoth.  "The First to Awaken" or "The Sleeping Herald." or "Bloody Sleeper"  It is said that he will be the first Great Old One to awaken, heralding in the others to follow.  From what I have been reading about him, as GOOs go, he is pretty minor, but learning that he is the first can really drill into the investigators that these really are the End Times and that they just witnessed the beginning of the end if they fail.


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#12 Harndon

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 04:30 PM

I am sure to do that already. But I need to know what it is just to keep some continuity.  I wouldn't flat out call it Rhan-Tegoth. Of course once the investigators encounter it or its description in some meaningful manner, a Mythos Roll could give them its name.    This is part of needing to know what it is first so I can come up with some interesting names for it other then Rhan-Tegoth.  "The First to Awaken" or "The Sleeping Herald." or "Bloody Sleeper"  It is said that he will be the first Great Old One to awaken, heralding in the others to follow.  From what I have been reading about him, as GOOs go, he is pretty minor, but learning that he is the first can really drill into the investigators that these really are the End Times and that they just witnessed the beginning of the end if they fail.

My experience has been that as soon as the players learn what something actually is, it stops being scary. I'm running HotOO,

Spoiler

 

The codifying tendencies that RPGs have - while entirely understandable; it's a human tendency especially pronounced among the sorts of humans who play RPGs - tend to make things less scary. Why not just call whatever it is "The Herald In The Water" or whatever and research suggests that the cult believes it will be the first of the Old Ones to awaken? Maybe the cult is right, maybe the cult is wrong. Codification and fitting everything into a system is not scary. Providing the PCs with stuff that's inexplicable and beyond human understanding and letting them try to fit all together is scarier. Never tell them what the thing was, and drop references to it later. Your players will probably remember that more than having a defined entity with a semi-pronounceable name laid out, and in my experience, most players never really piece together the whole backstory anyway. 

 

(Also, read Stealing Cthulhu if you haven't already. The whole idea of continuity is maybe out of place - Lovecraft doesn't seem to have cared a huge deal about it.)



#13 Bishop

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 04:44 PM

Your example is one of the reasons why I avoid using Nyarlathotep.  At least if I mention Rhan-Tegoth, most players will still go "Who?"   That will be one of the other advantages of this entity.  The players are likely to have a very little preconceived notions for it and still be at a loss on how to deal with it.  So even if they do learn the name of it, it really won't help them very much.  Even if the players go trying to read up on it, there isn't a whole lot out there about it.

 

Continuity may not have been the right word to use.  The cult needs some depth and some sort of purpose, even if an insane one. The investigators need something to research.  They need something to learn about and how to deal with it.  I need it to set the tone and the themes of the story being told.  Of course all of this can be tossed out the window on a whim if the story calls for it.   I just need a solid base to build on, the rest can be more malleable.

 

Also, if a player said that assuming it was N. I would have made it literal and have a many physically faced god show up and give the player a good talking too.  Mind shattering talk of course, but a talk none the less.   If a player is going to be meta about it, then a good smack down is in order.


Edited by Bishop, 14 June 2017 - 04:48 PM.

-iicf

#14 Harndon

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 05:56 PM

Your example is one of the reasons why I avoid using Nyarlathotep.  At least if I mention Rhan-Tegoth, most players will still go "Who?"   That will be one of the other advantages of this entity.  The players are likely to have a very little preconceived notions for it and still be at a loss on how to deal with it.  So even if they do learn the name of it, it really won't help them very much.  Even if the players go trying to read up on it, there isn't a whole lot out there about it.

 

Continuity may not have been the right word to use.  The cult needs some depth and some sort of purpose, even if an insane one. The investigators need something to research.  They need something to learn about and how to deal with it.  I need it to set the tone and the themes of the story being told.  Of course all of this can be tossed out the window on a whim if the story calls for it.   I just need a solid base to build on, the rest can be more malleable.

 

Also, if a player said that assuming it was N. I would have made it literal and have a many physically faced god show up and give the player a good talking too.  Mind shattering talk of course, but a talk none the less.   If a player is going to be meta about it, then a good smack down is in order.

 

My players are actually usually quite good about non-character information. It's more that it's a lot more fun if players don't know what's going on - I'm reading The Armitage Files and because so much of the stuff in it is weird and vague (meant to be expanded on heavily) it's creeper than Cthulhu games usually are. 

 

Rhan-Tegoth's shtick is getting mistaken for a statue, right? Perhaps it was on the riverboat that went down. You say the riverboat was recovered in 1988 - this fits in with established CoC continuity, if you respect that.

 

Spoiler
 

 

Rhan-Tegoth, based on quick Googling, mostly wants sacrifices so as to avoid ending up going back into hibernation and then suffering the indignity of getting put in a museum again. So, the cult would be looking for people who won't be noticed missing to sacrifice them. Although Missouri stayed in the Union, it was a slave state - perhaps the cult is kidnapping runaway slaves, or is kidnapping slaves and framing local abolitionists? Based on Wikipedia, there were tensions between Irish and German Catholic immigrants, who were not by and large slavery supporters, and the established mostly-Protestant population of Missouri, among whom the slaveowners were mostly found. 

 

So an adventure could look like this:

-tensions along part of the river between German winemaking community (Wikipedia says German immigrants created the wine industry along the river) and local slaveowners (depending on where you are, either small farmers with each household having a few slaves, or larger slaveowners with more) - there are abolitionists active among the Germans

-evil cult, which worships "statue" of their god, takes advantage of this by kidnapping slaves, making it look as though the abolitionists are helping them escape, and taking them north, ultimately sacrificing them to Rhan-Tegoth

-there's some sort of flare-up: perhaps some local slaveowners attack some of the Germans in retaliation

-the Germans, thinking the local authorities are biased against them (you could have a scene with some local sheriff who denounces the "drunkard Papists" or similar), appeal to the federal government

-the federal agents (PCs) are sent in, and investigate. Their investigations lead them north to the cult

-eventually, the cult attempts to flee south (for whatever reason - presumably they have agents there, and fearing they've been busted up north, try to go south) and this leads to the climactic riverboat fight



#15 Bishop

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 08:45 PM

I think the pre Civil War part of the campaign will go something like this.

 

Pre-Civil War Part 1

- Agents are assigned to the Great Lakes to combat the Timber Smugglers.

- While dealing with the Smugglers, they discover some sort of ties to a colony on Isle Royale

- They discover something sinister going on with the colony and investigate.

- As they start applying pressure on the colony, the ramming by 'timber pirates' happens to the USS Michigan.

- Finally there is the confrontation on the island.  The cultists plan on sacrificing either the smugglers they been dealing with or maybe  a Native-American tribe they captured (more research needed to see if tribes were still around. I know the Ojibwa are native to the area. I just need to know when they were forced West by the US.)

- During the confrontation, a Dark Young or other entiity battles the USS Michigan.

- The ritual sacrifice is disrupted, the cultists killed or arrested.  Someone gets away with Rhan-Tegoth / artifact.

 

- Escaped cultist / leader makes it West and hides with a related cult or captured by one.

 

Pre-Civil War Part 2

- Another attempt at the ritual to awaken Rhan-Tegoth, this time using slaves as sacrifices.

- Agents are sent to investigate the stealing of slaves (likely not called kidnapping when they are considered property, will have to look into that.)  Something about the situation gets the agents attention, so they can make sure they are assigned to it.  

- This time though I think I would like the agents to get there more prepared, since they now have a better idea what is going on. 

- They break up the slave stealing situation, but again someone gets off with Rhan-Tegoth / artifact and gets a head start  on the Arabia. 

- The agents race to catch up with the Arabia to capture the cultist.  While on board, the cultist summons some entity and all hell breaks loose. The Arabia sinks, along with Rhan-Tegoth / artifact.

- The Arabia sinks into the mud and within a week the boat is beyond recovery.

- Pre-Civil War campaign ends here.


Edited by Bishop, 14 June 2017 - 08:49 PM.

-iicf

#16 Procopius

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 02:30 AM

I believe the Ojibwe ceded claim to land around the US side of the Great Lakes in the 1855 Treaty of Detroit. In 1863-64, as part of the aftermath of 1862 Dakota War (which was an uprising of Sioux), they lost most of their territory in Minnesota. 



#17 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 04:13 AM

Your big bad is the ever-popular and over-used Great Old One, Ogopogo, the water spirit, also known as Kluskapokkom.

 

A major part of the beast's written lore is in the MacCleeg Totem, a moss-covered stone pillar of indeterminate age, covered in incompletely translated mysterious carvings, discovered in the forests far north of the lake in the early 1800s by the adventurer Isaiah MacCleeg, who had learned of the area from the local First Nations tribes, who largely regarded the area as taboo and spoke of the pillar only reluctantly; MacCleeg could only induce one of the most desperate natives to guide him to the "totem pole" with a very unusual and unrecorded bribe.  Much of the rest of Ogopogo's lore is oral tradition, hinted at in MacCleeg's published papers, but never publicly released in its entirety, and presumed lost with MacCleeg in his mysterious disappearance a couple months ago.

 

I rather like the idea of timber-pirates coming upon a misadventure involving Dark Young.  I'd totally toss that in somehow.  And the Gnophkehs someone mentioned sound tempting... I can imagine local First Nations legends about those evil forest spirits bringing the pillar with them from a mysterious spirit world under the earth at the beginning of time, when Ogopogo walked the earth working terrible miracles in the age of the First Forest, when and where the spirit was worshiped as a god.

 

Ogopogo was, according to legend, tricked and drowned in the lake by clever and brave warriors in elder days, its cult of forest demons slain and scattered and chased back into the dark places in the earth from which they came, their villages burned and artifacts destroyed, except for the horrible pillar in the forest, which could not be defaced or destroyed in spite of the best efforts of the strongest heroes and mightiest wizards of the First Nations tribes.  The lake was haunted by Ogopogo's ghost, but mighty wards placed by the natives' priests and wise men had protected men from Ogopogo through the generations.

 

But, something has gone wrong... it's been wrong ever since the charismatic self-proclaimed First King of America and his strange cult of deranged followers - perhaps better described as worshipers - moved an entire castle, rebuilt brick-by-brick from the original, from its original site in Eastern Europe, and moved into the dark and sullen building to perform strange ceremonies in isolation.

 

The construction of the castle must have disturbed the protective wards, allowing Ogopogo to once again rise from the lake and walk the earth, working its terrible miracles on the lake now as it did in the elder days of the First Forest....

 

Spoiler

Edited by yronimoswhateley, 17 June 2017 - 04:25 AM.

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#18 JeffErwin

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 05:08 AM

Arent a bunch of Derleth's stories set in Wisconsin?

 

Perhaps some sort of connection to his stories wouldn't be too bad, like the better one "The Dweller in Darkness" - set in the north of the state at "Rick's Lake".



#19 Graham

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 06:20 AM

There are a few Classic Era scenarios set in Michigan, namely "The Underground Menace", "Paper Chase" & the alternate version of "The Haunted House"

 

Details of those can be found on the Wiki

 

The Underground Menace

 

Paper Chase

 

The Haunted House (Michigan)

 

There is also a Michigan set scenario in the first Blood Brothers collection, it features werewolves and is set in 1981, it will probably require a bit of work to fit it into Delta Green though.

 

The Swarming


Edited by Graham, 17 June 2017 - 06:25 AM.

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#20 Bishop

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 05:18 PM

Your big bad is the ever-popular and over-used Great Old One, Ogopogo, the water spirit, also known as Kluskapokkom.

 

This is some great stuff. I will definitely have to do more research on this and see what can be incorporated.  Thanks for the information. I hadn't quite got down my list of stuff to research.  Native-American folklore was coming up pretty quick. This will certainly help focus my research.

 

Arent a bunch of Derleth's stories set in Wisconsin?

 

Perhaps some sort of connection to his stories wouldn't be too bad, like the better one "The Dweller in Darkness" - set in the north of the state at "Rick's Lake".

 

I am trying to steer away from any established tales if I can help it.  Plus is all taking place much farther north where there is little knowledge of what is going on around them.  During the 1850s, the Upper Great Lakes are still very much the Frontier.

 

I believe the Ojibwe ceded claim to land around the US side of the Great Lakes in the 1855 Treaty of Detroit. In 1863-64, as part of the aftermath of 1862 Dakota War (which was an uprising of Sioux), they lost most of their territory in Minnesota. 

 

That is right.  This will take place around 1854-56 or so.  Even though the Treaty is signed in 55, they don't move overnight.  It could also be why other investigators are in the area. Surveyors mapping it all out for the eventual settlers to arrive.  Or soldiers making sure they Ojibwe are moving out.

 

There are a few Classic Era scenarios set in Michigan, namely "The Underground Menace", "Paper Chase" & the alternate version of "The Haunted House"

 

Thanks for these, that was on my list of things to look up. To see if there are already some scenarios out there that might be incorporated.


Edited by Bishop, 19 June 2017 - 07:23 PM.

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