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Scenario covering Lovecraft's story Call of Cthulhu


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#1 glarson52

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 08:56 PM

Does a scenario or campaign exist that covers the events of Lovecraft's story "Call of Cthulhu" in which the narrator, Francis Wayland Thurston, researches a Cthuhu sculpture?  There are three chapters:
 
Chapter I: The Horror in Clay
Chapter II: The Tale of Inspector Legrasse
Chapter III: The Madness from the Sea



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#2 rylehNC

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 03:29 PM

Chaosium's very first campaign ends at R'Lyeh but that's as close as it's come. I think there's a scenario in which people meet an older Legrasse.

 

It would be hard to structure a campaign: you'd probably want to expand on the first chapter (maybe investigating and linking seemingly unrelated deaths?), the second is a flashback, and you'd have to railroad -er, steamship- new PCs in the third. They'd really be more like interesting one-shots.


Happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes.

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#3 Travern

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 05:17 PM

Alternatively, one could run it chronologically, with the Legrasse episode first, then Thurston's, and finally R'lyeh's.  The greatest obstacle remains the overlapping timelines of Thurston's investigation and the rise of R'lyeh, which makes it nearly impossible for players to run the same characters in both, at least by early 20th-century transportation technology.  Perhaps a bridge via the Dreamlands could provide a workaround, but that might violate the spirit of HPL's story.
 
On the other hand, since Legrasse's New Orleans episode is quite familiar by now, I've been wondering if there's enough material in Thurston's section for a campaign linking the various isolated incidents which the players to follow up on:

  • A nocturnal suicide in London, where a lone sleeper had leaped from a window after a shocking cry
  • A rambling letter to the editor of a paper in South America, where a fanatic deduces a dire future from visions he has seen
  • A despatch from California describes a theosophist colony as donning white robes en masse for some “glorious fulfilment” which never arrives
  • Voodoo orgies multiply in Hayti
  • American officers in the Philippines find certain tribes bothersome about this time
  • A fantastic painter named Ardois-Bonnot hangs a blasphemous “Dream Landscape” in the Paris spring salon of 1926.

Folding them into "Shadows of Yog-Sothoth" might be a way to go, perhaps as substitutes for the creakier chapters.  (Seriously, Scots ghosts and Hollywood movie shoots?)



#4 wcburns

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 08:58 PM

I've had an idea for a scenario in the back of my head for a while. Not exactly what you want, but more of a meta take based on the last line of the story.
 

Let me pray that, if I do not survive this manuscript, my executors may put caution before audacity and see that it meets no other eye.

 

Consider where the story was first published: Weird Tales, a pulp magazine. Entertaining stories perhaps, but at the time were the lowest of the literary low. If a Cthulhu cultist wanted to suppress Thurston's discoveries, and to prevent others from following his path, what better way than to publish it as a pulp story? 

In order to do it proper, I think you'd need to do it in the time when it has been published, before Lovecraft's legacy was established. Perhaps names (of characters and Gods alike) were changed, but as a 20's scenario, perhaps the investigators include a pulp reader who tries to track down the author, only to discover a larger conspiracy at play. In my case, I got a replica copy of the Weird Tales issue it was published in, so if I ever flesh this idea out myself, I would use that.

I guess it depends on if you want to actually include HP Lovecraft in the story, and how you want to depict him. I might speak for myself, but I'm not sure one can read Lovecraft's stories without learning about the man himself (both his good and bad qualities). Is he an unknowing accomplice? Does he have an eldritch muse? Is he a cultist? Is he even a real person, or is he himself a fabrication? I'll let you decide.
 



#5 glarson52

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:47 PM

You could do it in several linked scenarios:
 
Francis Wayland Thurston of Boston (the narrator in the original story) could be wealthy and finances all the investigations by the player characters.
 
1.The player characters become involved in researching a strange statue. 
 
2. The pc investigations  of a second statue lead to New Orleans police official John Raymond Legrasse. They become involved in his investigation and raid on a "voodoo" cult. 
 
3. Flashback : A ship, the Emma, is attacked by pirates.  The survivors discover an uncharted island.  The players could take the roles of crewmen of the Emma (similar to side quests in Horror on the Orient Express)
 
4. The characters track down the lone Emma survivor, find a third statue and learn the story of the uncharted island. They become the target of Cthulhu worshippers.
 
5. An expedition is mounted to the mysterious island.  


#6 rylehNC

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 06:25 PM

2. The pc investigations  of a second statue lead to New Orleans police official John Raymond Legrasse. They become involved in his investigation and raid on a "voodoo" cult. 

 

This would need to be a flashback as it happens more than a decade before "The Call of Cthulhu" story is set.

 

The best way to parallel the story might be as an homage. The first part of the campaign might involve linking Cthulhu's influence on sensitive artists and psychics in different places. Investigate some deaths, visit a showing where a painter has tried to capture R'Lyeh on canvas, et c. One of these victims drops a clue for a degenerate cult meeting, allowing for a Legrasse-style raid which gives a clue to R'Lyeh's location.

 

And all the while, the real cult is sending assassins after the party.


Happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes.

-Ibn Schacabao

#7 Travern

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 07:04 PM

There are also some loose ends in the bayou that the investigators could pursue.  
 

There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight. They said it had been there before D’Iberville, before La Salle, before the Indians, and before even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself, and to see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to keep away. The present voodoo orgy was, indeed, on the merest fringe of this abhorred area[...].
 
It may have been only imagination and it may have been only echoes which induced one of the men, an excitable Spaniard, to fancy he heard antiphonal responses to the ritual from some far and unillumined spot deeper within the wood of ancient legendry and horror. This man, Joseph D. Galvez, I later met and questioned; and he proved distractingly imaginative. He indeed went so far as to hint of the faint beating of great wings, and of a glimpse of shining eyes and a mountainous white bulk beyond the remotest trees—but I suppose he had been hearing too much native superstition.


Investigators could, after interviewing Legrasse and Galvez, embark on an expedition even deeper into the swap to encounter the Black Winged Ones in "their immemorial meeting-place in the haunted wood" or locate the White Polypous Thing from the nightmarish hidden lake.


Edited by Travern, 15 November 2017 - 07:04 PM.


#8 Blackmyron

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 05:15 AM

There are also some loose ends in the bayou that the investigators could pursue.  
 

Investigators could, after interviewing Legrasse and Galvez, embark on an expedition even deeper into the swap to encounter the Black Winged Ones in "their immemorial meeting-place in the haunted wood" or locate the White Polypous Thing from the nightmarish hidden lake.

 

That's precisely what Kevin Ross' adventure "Tell Me, Have You Seen The Yellow Sign?" follows up on - but certainly by no means should stop you from your own take!



#9 jlynn

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 09:42 PM

There is also the new Kickstarter by Delphes Desvoivres which ties directly into the story (and occurs in 1928).  One of the potential props for that would be a copy of the story Call of Cthulhu as information for the players.  Though, honestly, I think I like the idea of using a replica of the Weird Tales issue better, now that I've seen the suggestion!

 

You could probably work around the edges of the original story a bit and do something pretty cool as a preliminary scenario -- your investigators are involved on the periphery of the main story, and then later are plunged straight into the heart of it by the Idol of Cthulhu itself!

 

Speaking of props madness, has anyone ever heard of the "Angell Box" from HPLHS?  I swear to you, if I ever come up with a thousand smackeroos that I don't have to spend fixing the car or the house, I will get one of them; it basically has all the props for Call of Cthulhu (the story, that is) in it.  I can only imagine the looks on the players' faces when they find THAT trove of documentation...