A Method to Madness
Author(s): John Almack
Appears in: Terrors from Beyond.
The Investigators are all residents at an asylum, undergoing treatment for various mental disorders. They struggle to deal with their condition, while a series of unusual events raise the possibility that sinister things are afoot under their very nose. But what can helpless madmen do about that?
Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only
Players should not read any further.
The Investigators are inmates at an asylum, suffering from indefinite insanities; it’s assumed they play pregens with specific mental disorders. The chief doctor has been corrupted by the mi-go, who are experimenting with implanting mi-go brains in human bodies. Once their work is finished, they plan to perform a rite to Shub-Niggurath, summoning in the process a Dark Young that will wipe out any surviving witnesses, before burning the asylum to the ground to hide the evidence. The struggle for the Investigators is to understand events and intervene, while also dealing with heavy restrictions and their own mental aberrations.
Player Handouts: List the player handouts here.
Locations: Wormwood Asylum in New England
The scenario was originally presented at Necronomicon, Tampa, October 2001. The published version is substantially revised.
The scenario contains a sample asylum map, routines, staffing information, equipment, and other resources that may be useful to a Keeper beyond this scenario.
As the author notes, the scenario is difficult to adapt for other eras, due to radical differences in treatment of mental health. However, the broad structure of the scenario could be used, or the scenario could be relocated to a country with less developed healthcare. The nature of the facility could also be changed somewhat; potentially it could be part of an internment camp for refugees, a home for troubled runaways, or even a military hospital. Appropriate mental illnesses would need to be devised.
While the scenario could be played with original characters, care would be needed to ensure they have appropriate insanities and backstories to fit into the scenario.
The scenario contains several potent artefacts. There are two powerful weapons, the mist projector and a lethal electric gun, though both are difficult for humans to use. Stranger, but possibly more potent, is a magical amulet that disguises the wearer to always remind a viewer of their mother, though not with any specific appearance.
A repeated theme in the scenario is photography. A player character has been forbidden to use her camera in the asylum "for her own good". A journalist who makes a surprise visit seems to be tolerated by the mi-go, until he takes a photograph of the disguised mi-go; he is killed with the electric gun on his way home, and his camera destroyed. The implication seems to be that cameras can penetrate the amulet's illusion, but the scenario doesn't seem to state this anywhere. In fact, there's no discussion at all of photography, except for these hints.
The scenario relies on players being quite proactive, and taking up hints of strangeness as a cue to investigate thoroughly, despite their vulnerable status. Passiveness is fatal. The Keeper will need to encourage this, as there's a tight timetable before the mi-go finish their work and slaughter everybody. The strict rules of the asylum allow a Keeper to reasonably insist that certain things happen (such as attending meals) and therefore fit in the clues and events the scenario describes.
The scenario is liable to involve a significant amount of combat, which the pregen Investigators are neither particularly good at, nor equipped for. Aside from the Dark Young summoned at the end of the scenario, they may have to confront a large number of hybrids if they attract suspicion, or overpower individual members of staff. The best weapons they're likely to find are small knives or clubs, and even those will tend to be kept well away from inmates. Even if the mi-go aren't suspicious, the ordinary asylum staff can apprehend them at any time for sneaking around or otherwise behaving oddly. This isn't necessarily a huge problem, but Keepers should bear in mind that the pregens are considerably less prepared for combat than many parties, and act accordingly. It seems quite unlikely that the scenario can be completed without combat of some kind.