Menace From The Moon (Scenario)
Author(s): William Barton
Artist(s): Moon Creature Art is credited to Terrance Muncy
Appears in: Menace From The Moon (Monograph).
Currently on display in the museum is a set of rocks found at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. These geologically unique stones are believed to be of lunar origin, ejected from the moon by the impact of a meteorite. The rocks have been on display in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. until recently, but they are now part of a traveling exhibit touring the country. They are on the final leg of the tour, with San Diego as the last stop before being returned to the Smithsonian, and will remain in the city for the next two weeks.
A new comet nears the inner solar system for the first time in recorded history. Comet Negretto, discovered by and named after Italian astronomer Sylvio Negretto, is moving increasingly closer to our planet as it follows its elongated path around the sun, growing more prominent in the skies as it approaches. Because of its current location in the heavens, it appears only at night—and, because of its distance, only on clear evenings. As it nears and crosses Earth’s orbit our planet will pass through the comet’s tail, just as it did with Halley’s Comet earlier in the century. Astronomers and other scientists assure the public that no harm will be done, as the gases are so diverse that no one would ever know of the event if the public hadn’t been alerted ahead of time.
How are these circumstances related, and what have they to do with our intrepid investigators?
Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only
Players should not read any further.
At its core, Menace From The Moon, is a fairly straightforward classic Call of Cthulhu investigation. However, surrounding this simplicity is a very detailed back-story, numerous side-plots, red-herrings and plot complications coupled with a very detailed presentation which covers all possible adventure paths in detail. All these peripheral complexities could (if the Keeper wishes) turn a simple investigative scenario into something more closely resembling a mini-campaign.
The (pre-generated) Investigators are catapulted into the scenario when they learn of the death of a guard at the San Diego Natural History Museum, apparently in an animal attack.
The current events are actually direct consequences of a massive and terrrible catastrophe that occurred many millions of years ago. In these vastly ancient times there was a "Fifth Planet" occupying the space between Mars and Jupiter. An evolved and intelligent race of creatures lived on this world, engaged in a war with the Mi-Go. Realizing they were doomed to lose, they planned a mass evacuation of their planet -- their entire race would migrate to live on Mars, close to a pyramid complex they had already constructed near Cydonia. This plan was thwarted: before the bulk of the creatures could evacuate, the Mi-Go destroyed their planet, ripping it apart from within. Most of the fragments became the modern-day Asteroid Belt, but enough fragments struck Mars that its oceans were destroyed, and enough struck the Earth to wipe out the dinosaurs. One large part of the planet's core was flung into space to become a comet.
By chance, one expedition from the fifth planet was on a stop-over on Earth's moon when the disaster struck. These creatures survived, but became affected by the waves of energy given out by the supernatural event. The radiation firstly transformed them from intelligent and evolved beings into mindless acid-slime monsters, then altered their composition to cause them to become fused with moon rocks. When fragments of their exploded planet struck the moon soon afterwards, some of these rock-fused creatures were ejected into space.
A slim few of these rocks eventually fell to Earth where the inhabitants of Atlantis collected them for their mineral composition and rarity. Unfortunately, for the Atlanteans, the mindless creatures in the rocks had the potential to free themselves from their captivity under one very specific condition: when the comet formed from their dead planet's core came close enough that its radiation was felt on Earth. Eventually this occurred and the Atlanteans were beset by terrible monsters which could not be harmed by normal means. After considerable havoc had ensued, an Atlantean priest, Yar-Surmazto, discovered the one weakness of the Moon Creatures -- if the rocks which they were bound to were immersed deep enough, the radiation from the comet could not reach them and the monsters could not exist in their physical form. Ultimately, the only way this priest could contain the large number of rampaging Moon Creatures, was to call up a tsunami which caused all of Atlantis to fall beneath the waves.
Fast forward to modern day. Mankind is just beginning to use its knowledge of the sciences to explore the bottom of the ocean. During construction of an undersea communications cable beneath the Atlantic, several samples were unearthed of a strange kind of stone. By itself this wasn't a danger: the creatures were long dormant within the stones. But then the comet -- now known as Comet Negretto -- began its approach to the Earth and the creatures began to emerge.
As the scenario begins, the comet is still sufficiently far from Earth that the radiation which causes the Moon Creatures to manifest is relatively weak, allowing for manifestations only on clear nights when light from the comet can directly strike the rocks (through windows or skylights). As time goes on, it becomes easier for the creatures to emerge.
The death at the museum was caused by Moon Creatures emerging from the rocks (which are on display there). While suspicion may fall initially on a lion, "Mr Fluffy Pants", who apparently escaped from nearby San Diego zoo, investigation ultimately shows this to be a red-herring. There are likewise many other avenues that can be explored, some of relevance to the activities of the Moon Creatures, others not. Further attacks ensue while the Investigators struggle to make sense of the evidence they have collected.
To stop the manifestations of the Moon Creatures, the players will firstly need to figure out what triggers them: prior to arriving in San Diego, the moon rocks had made numerous prior stops at museums across America. Some digging will unearth disappearances at some (but not all) of these locations. The pattern is not entirely clear.
Ultimately the Investigators must contrive a method to defeat the Moon Creatures, which are effectively indestructable by normal physical means. The scenario presents a range of options, the most radical of which involves the Atlantean priest Yar-Surmazto being summoned to replicate his tsunami-summoning magic to permanently submerge San Diego beneath the waves.
Player Handouts: Two-page newspaper extract from The San Diego Chronicle-Leger, ID Cards (licenses, Press Passes, etc) for the various pre-generated Investigators, New Orleans Tattler article, Map of Downtown San Diego, Map of San Diego environs, Map of Balboa Park
Locations: The scenario is set in and around San Diego in 1929, although contains notes for relocating to other places and times. There is some scope for travel to other cities that previously hosted the moon rocks. Prior to becoming bound into moon rocks, the Moon Creatures lived on the Cydonia Plane region of Mars. The spell cast by Yar-Surmazto to banish the creatures also caused the deluge of Atlantis. A spell in one of the tomes refers passingly to Kadath.
Famous People: The scenario incorporates Nikola Tesla in one of its peripheral side plots.
Creatures: The Moon Creatures are alien entities descended from creatures which lived on the now-destroyed "Fifth Planet" (between Mars and Jupiter) before it was invaded by Mi-Go. They destroyed the planet by directing a small piece of Azathoth into it. A side effect of this destruction was the extinction of the dinosaurs. There are passing references to Cthonians and Shudde M'ell as an antagonist knows spells related to these entities. Fire Vampires may be summoned. One of the side-plots introduces the possibility of supernatural Rat-Things. Another potentially involves the head of a dead Spawn of Cthulhu. Yar-Surmazto once worshipped Cthulhu and Dagon among other gods.
Tomes and Artifacts: Stanton, a peripheral character owns a tattered grimoire called "VooDoo Hexes and Kurses". Jasmine, another side character, owns a copy of the I Ching and the Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan. The British Consulate library contains "Atlantis: The Antediluvian World", the Cultus Maleficarum (the Sussex Manuscript), "Polynesian Mythology", "Prehistory in the Pacific", "Prehistoric Pacific" and "Remnants of Lost Empires". It could optionally contain copies of Monstres and their Kynde, R'yleh Text, Zanthu Tablets, Dee's Necronomicon and Madame Blavatsky's "The Secret Doctrine". The Elder Sign (symbol) is mentioned as being ineffective against the Moon Creatures, unlike Prinn's Crux Ansata or the Baneful Dust of Hermes Trismegistus.
Campaigns / Scenarios:
The monograph includes an lengthy, detailed account of the 20 year history of the manuscript which ultimately became Menace From The Moon. It was initially proposed as a scenario for the first edition Cthulhu Now; later it was a Blood Brothers submission.
The scenario includes six pre-generated Investigators (with detailed backgrounds) that are quite tightly integrated into the way the plot is presented. Also provided are four other well detailed characters which could serve as additional Investigators. While it would not be impossible to run it with different player characters, some work would be required.
Menace From The Moon is presented as an incredibly detailed scenario, with most likely alternative paths a group may follow catered for in some detail. This makes it easy to run, but potentially difficult to change (as any changes have the potential to impact on the detailed web of plots and sub-plots in the printed version).