Dark Carnival

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Details

1st Edition Front Cover

Pages: 19

Author(s): David A. Hargrave

Artist(s): Lisa A. Free, Sherman Kahn

Setting: 1920s

Appears in: Curse of the Chthonians, Cthulhu Classics

Campaign:

Summary

A series of disappearances and grisly murders point to strange goings-on near the Rhode Island funfair. Investigators drawn in by the mystery will not only find the vanishings are more than mere murders, but that they face a far more dangerous threat than they could have imagined.

Links

Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.



Synopsis

This is not an adventure so much as a situation. There is no ongoing plot; the cult is firmly in place, and gets on with its business without any obvious immediate goal. Investigators are to be drawn in by a number of recent and sinister disappearances, but by the adventure as written, this is a matter of curiosity rather than personal involvement or urgency. In short, this is a location-based adventure which includes an awful lot of hornets to stir up by careless poking.

The carnival is riddled with evil: all the permanent staff are devoted cultists of a cthonian cult, and capture visitors to sacrifice. Several of the rides include trapdoors and other ways to lead visitors into the caverns below for capture, torture and gruesome death. Beneath the fairground are tunnels filled with cthonians, ghouls and zombies. The cult is led by an invulnerable and powerful sorcerer.

Essentially, the scenario consists of Investigators examining the various rides and inhabitants, and eventually discovering some of the secrets. What happens then is largely up to the Keeper. With forty-odd cultists, many of them extremely dangerous, not to mention the array of monsters and the sorcerer, Investigators are liable to end up in serious trouble unless they are very cautious.

Since there is no particular plot to the scenario, there is also no particular end. A total party kill is one very likely outcome. Investigators might also find a way to rescue a couple of recent victims and escape the cult.

References

Player Handouts:

Locations: North Star Amusement Arcade and Pleasure Pier near Providence, Rhode Island

Creatures: Cthonian, Ghoul, Zombie, various circus animals

Tomes and Artifacts: Orb of Hraaki, Kagwamon K'thaat, Ring of Carneithos

Organizations: Society of the Great Dark

Campaigns / Scenarios:

Comments

Includes

  • image of funfair ticket (somewhat sinister with carousel horse and evil clown face)
  • map of funfair
  • image of investigator underground encountering shadowy figures
  • map of caverns

Keeper Comments

Because of the nature of the scenario, players will have to decide for themselves what makes a suitable ending. Since the setting is Providence rather than a remote location, simply fleeing the carnival will leave the menace undisturbed; however, defeating all the cultists will be extremely difficult, let alone the monsters.

While not explicitly designed as such, the scenario is very lethal, with a huge number of cultists with very high combat skills, and a good chance of Investigators ending up trapped below ground with the monsters. If the Keeper wishes anyone to survive, they will need to play cautiously, and may wish to consider reducing some of the cultists' skills and damage to bring them more in line with the current rulebooks.

As written, there is no particular way to defeat the carnival boss due to his ring of invulnerability. A Keeper may want to introduce some specific means to destroy him, or at least drive him off, though strictly speaking he can be killed with magic or fire.

There is limited opportunity for research in the scenario. A few NPCs can provide cryptic clues that indicate something bad is going on, including the presence of zombies, a cult and some other monster. The Keeper could try to allow Investigators to learn more about individual carnival staff through police records or off-the-record comments, old carnival bills (a city or university library may well keep them in an "ephemera" collection), newspaper reports and so on. In particular, it may be wise to provide a way to learn something about the sorcerer Wyatt, whether through research or questioning NPCs, considering that he is both invulnerable and extremely dangerous.