Red Room Cabal
History and Scope
There is a place in San Francisco where a cabal of storytellers would meet to spin tales of horror and suspense. The sessions started every second Friday of the month, when the last ember of sunlight faded over the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. The meetings were held in a private chamber in the Beaumont estate on Nob Hill, called the Red Room.... - Simon Yee, "Horror Stories from the Red Room"
The group was founded in 1920s San Francisco by young Ellen Beaumont and other wealthy fans of horror, and gained its name from the "red room" of the Beaumont Mansion where their secret meetings were held when Ellen's father (who would have disapproved of the group, their meetings, and the subject matter) was away. Guests of the group would read poetry and tell horror stories, display paintings, play music, and share other art of a dark, horrific, and morbid mood and subject. Painter Xavier Ignacio introduced the group to the drug Nightmare Opium of Leng, and the group disbanded a few years after its creation when Ellen Beaumont died of an overdose and the devastated Xavier left the group and died mad in a gutter shortly afterward. Surviving regular members of the group died or vanished over the next few years under mysterious and sinister circumstances.
The somewhat secretive group consisted mostly of wealthy fans of the disreputable horror genre, and guest artists; for most of the group's history, it was little more than a fan club, and as times changed in the decades following the group's disbandment, guests of the group would become more outspoken about the group's activities and membership.
Psychology and Behavior
The core group members were fans of morbid and horrific art, taking ghoulish vicarious pleasure in bizarre, surreal horror art forms. For the most part, though, the group's members and guests were apparently ordinary people participating in an exclusive fan club, until the group was introduced to a particularly dangerous strain of opium, at which point the group's interests took an even more morbid and taciturn direction; the group apparently collapsed soon after with the deaths of a few of the founding members.
Tomes, Artifacts, Sites
The group was based around their secret meeting place, the "Red Room" of founding member Ellen Beaumont's family mansion. Known artifacts have included the recordings and paintings of Xavier Ignacio's Dreams from the Red Room, but the group's collection of horrific and weird stories, films, recordings (of music, spoken word, and other sounds), paintings, sculptures, and other art works almost certainly contained other artwork of various types, and perhaps even some genuine Mythos artifacts and tomes.
Allies, Creatures and Deities
Most members were apparently human, but a few members may have been Ghouls disguised as humans. Known members of the group include:
- Ellen Beaumont, wealthy heiress, founding member, and the group's leader.
- Henry Sheriff, tall, gaunt, wealthy xenophobe, defected from the group when Spanish-Mexican Xavier (below) joined.
- Xavier Ignacio, musician, painter, and drug addict, responsible for the group's darker turn in later years.
- Jeremiah Stanton, a particularly fanatic member of the group with especially dark and ghoulish interests in the bizarre and horrific; last known to have moved away from the group to live an extremely hermitic lifestyle before vanishing from this world.
- Terry Talbot, a younger, enthusiastic member of the group with an unrequited love interest in Ellen Beaumont; overdosed on drugs after Xavier joined the group, and spent much of the remainder of his life confined to Potsman State Hospital in California, suffering from what has been described as "catatonic schizophrenia and waxy flexibility, with brief periods of lucid thought".
- Marla Tibbs, a member whose interests lay in especially strange and evocative music and sounds; after being introduced to Xavier's unearthly music, Marla's interest in music only grew, before she withdrew to an isolated house in Saulsalito, where she would be regarded as a "creepy lady" until her eventual disappearance.
Suspected and known guests of the group may have included Clark Ashton Smith (at least according to the scenario "Horror Stories from the Red Room"), and probably other weird fiction authors from California and surrounding states.
Local Mythos Investigators with high credit ratings or backgrounds in art, music, the occult, etc. may also have been guest speakers/performers or even former early members of the group.
The Red Room Cabal is not a cult in the usual Call of Cthulhu RPG sense: in its early years before Xavier joined, it was more like a Weird Fiction fan club, and as such might provide a source of information, support, and eccentric NPC characters to offer help for investigators.
The group's darker later years, following Xavier's membership, are described in the scenario "Horror Stories from the Red Room".
The group might serve as a way to introduce the investigators to other artistic characters or adventure hooks (their guests might, perhaps, have included Erich Zann and Richard Upton Pickman; additionally, the group might hire the investigators to contact unusual artists or find lost works of art within the group's field of interest), or provide a source of support and information from open-minded and wealthy NPCs who share related interests.
(Stories and other works the cult appeared in.)