Jump to content
Eyrelliah

Upping the Lovecraft (In the grim darkness of the far future)

Recommended Posts

Eyrelliah

Hello all,

 

I had some excellent help on here a while back with putting together a bespoke CoC storyline. I'm now putting together a campaign for a very different ruleset, but in a setting heavily inspired by the Mythos, namely, Warhammer 40,000 (Only War). 

 

The players are a group I had played a little CoC with, and they're up for playing Only War, after I suggested it due to the ease with which I felt I'd be able to put together a campaign and GM. And overall, I'm doing pretty good - I've got the first three story arcs ("missions") planned out roughly, although I'm awaiting more detail from the players about their backgrounds before I add in too much detail. I've picked out foes and situations that give the highest Mythos quotient (avoiding the "Tolkien in Space" elements of the setting), but since horror is a big part of the setting, I'd like to crank it up to 11.

 

[Primer for those of you unfamiliar with the 40K universe and the Only War game: the universe is a mishmash of Dune and Lovecraft, with a hint of Tolkien in some of the races (although even the "space elves" are utter swines). In Only War, you play normal humans in the 41st Millennium, who have joined the glorious Imperial Guard to defend the backward neofascist theocratic state that rules mankind - and the trillions of downtrodden masses - from horrifying aliens, rebellion, rogue psykers and extradimensional daemonic entities and their worshipppers. Cannon fodder is too polite a term for how most of the Imperial Guard is treated, but they Hold the line because the alternative to this horrible existence is even worse.]

 

I'd love any random ideas on how to creepify things up even more that you, dear reader, may have - and I'm happy to answer questions on the setting for anyone who wants to know more.

 

Adventure one:

Before completing basic training, a message is sent to the governors of their homeworld from those higher up in the Imperium of Man's hierarchy, demanding they gather up any and all wild psykers on their planet for collection. All training is halted, all hands on deck, the regiment is split up into small groups and despached to collect rogue psykers for delivery.

 

The players are sent to a "blip" that is fairly recent and seems fairly weak, no problem. They arrive at the isolated village (or equivalent) without too much difficulty, and discover that the target is a child. Preparing for the tough duty of separating the child from its parents, the players will manage to pry him away from his parents - only to discover that the child they have is only a decoy, not the real child. Where is the real one? Why were the parents convinced it was him? 

 

The real child is somewhere in hiding nearby - and the villagers fall under the psyker's malign influence, blocking and then assaulting the players, all the while professing their love for the child. Meanwhile the risky high-strain powers used by the untutored child warp reality around the players, and beckon to dark things from beyond the veil. Can the players catch and subdue the child before something else finds it?

 

Adventure two:

Their company is separated from the regiment and sent to a nearby planet, normally an excellent source of promethium (fuel) which has now dried up and stopped supplying the Imperium. Upon arrival at the capital city, the company officers go off and confer with the ruling elite at their impressive castle (situated atop the end of the pipeline from the distant oil fields) and the players explore the town for some local flavour.

The officers return with orders - the cause is most likely some wild-living humans of an ancient local tribe, off in the jungle. They don't approve of the pipeline crossing their land. 

 

The players travel to the wild swamps where the "natives" live, and either treat with them (unlikely) or battle them cruelly. But the "natives" haven't touched the pipeline, so the supply must be cut off somewhere else.

 

Arriving - eventually - back at the capital, all is still. the populace is gone, the streets empty, and the castle doors shut tight. When night falls, strange things stalk the sentries and carry away soldiers in the dark without a whisper. The castle must be assaulted - with the players leading the way - and within they find inhuman horrors, the traces of foul rituals gone awry, and deep in the dungeons, a fell, otherworldly maw devouring the promethium and all else that comes near.

 

Adventure three will be more 'conventional' warfare, although against utterly uncorrupted, faithful humans who have just gone too doolallie with the faith and all. And when on leave, and given a nice quiet village to rest in, the players will experience a 40K version of The Shadow over Innsmouth, called The Castermere Look by its creator.

 

So, can anyone make any suggestions to make the above weirder, creepier, or more Lovecraftian? From small tweaks to plot changes, all suggestions welcome.

 

Many thanks,

Eyrelliah.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The_Tatterdemalion_King

The players travel to the wild swamps where the "natives" live, and either treat with them (unlikely) or battle them cruelly. But the "natives" haven't touched the pipeline, so the supply must be cut off somewhere else.

 

The "natives" could be an IG unit from centuries ago (and a planet that's now mere fable after atomic bombing in some imperial civil war), still responding to standing orders to hold the oil fields against Orks or whoever they were originally sent to fight. 

but they Hold the line because the alternative to this horrible existence is even worse.

 

Well, that's what they tell you, but... 

 

The thing to remember about Lovecraft in 40K is that the Necronomicon's famous couplet applies best to the Emperor specifically and the Empire as a whole—an insane, soul-devouring colossus that sleeps in death only to wake every once in a while to flail around and destroy things uselessly. So where a CoC adventure would have a Sumerian tablet or a alien abduction, 40K has a 36th century regimental badge or an Adeptus Mechanicus requisition order.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eyrelliah

Fabulous! Thank you for that - I'll definitely include that nice element. Depending on the Homeworld choices of the players, the "natives" could even have originally been from their own world as well...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The_Tatterdemalion_King

Fabulous! Thank you for that - I'll definitely include that nice element. Depending on the Homeworld choices of the players, the "natives" could even have originally been from their own world as well...

 

Archaic Cadians dressed in red surcoats and wide-brimmed hats...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eyrelliah

Well meh to cadians, but yes that's the gist :-D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The_Tatterdemalion_King

What about pre-atomic Kriegians?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eyrelliah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yronimoswhateley

Adventure one:

Before completing basic training, a message is sent to the governors of their homeworld from those higher up in the Imperium of Man's hierarchy, demanding they gather up any and all wild psykers on their planet for collection. All training is halted, all hands on deck, the regiment is split up into small groups and despached to collect rogue psykers for delivery.

 

The players are sent to a "blip" that is fairly recent and seems fairly weak, no problem. They arrive at the isolated village (or equivalent) without too much difficulty, and discover that the target is a child. Preparing for the tough duty of separating the child from its parents, the players will manage to pry him away from his parents - only to discover that the child they have is only a decoy, not the real child. Where is the real one? Why were the parents convinced it was him? 

 

The real child is somewhere in hiding nearby - and the villagers fall under the psyker's malign influence, blocking and then assaulting the players, all the while professing their love for the child. Meanwhile the risky high-strain powers used by the untutored child warp reality around the players, and beckon to dark things from beyond the veil. Can the players catch and subdue the child before something else finds it?

 

Actually, I think the "creepy kid" angle might be fun to play on a little more heavily... I'd borrow some ideas from the likes of Village of the Damned, the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life", The Bad Seed, The Omen, The Other (1972), Joshua (2007), Pet Semetary, Case 39, Firestarter, Carrie, Ringu (The Ring), The Innocents....

 

PCs arrive in an isolated, virtually deserted city on a backwater planet to identify a suspected psychic and escort him/her back to labs for testing (or whatever), to find a tiny, shaken, haunted, and traumatized population driven nearly mad with terror and only too happy to hand the kid over to the PCs, or better yet begging to leave the kid behind and please help them escape.  They've been waiting thousands of years for someone to finally visit their world and save them from Little Anthony, the undying, un-aging horror in child's form which had depopulated their world in a reign of horror....

 

Maybe the kid is hard to find at first - he loves playing hide-and-seek!  While searching, the investigators might manage to find the kid's home-made Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book and Room Full of Crazy.

 

Nervous villager:  "What are you doing, Anthony?  My, that's real good, whatever it is."

 

Anthony:  "I made a gopher with three heads. See him?"  (The kid proudly holds some... THING up by its tail so the villager can see it.)

 

Villager, shaken: "Yeah. Yeah, my, he's a real fine one. I... I ain't never seen a gopher with three heads before."

 

Anthony:  "I'll make him dead now. I'm tired of playing with him.  Be dead, gopher, you be dead!"

 

Villager, horrified:  "My... my... that's... real fine, that you done that. Th - that's real fine, Anthony...."

 

- Twilight Zone:  "It's a Good Life"

 

 

Maybe in time, after playing a few nightmarish "pranks" on the PCs and wishing a few people away to "The Cornfields" for laughs, the kid will decide he's quite happy to leave with the PCs - there's a whole galaxy full of people out there waiting for him to play with him, after all....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eyrelliah

That is very tasty indeed! Gotta run with that nightmare fuel, thanks!

We did regiment creation last night, they're actually from an "agri world" which means children of the corn references abound. I'm not sure if I want to have them going up against a millenia-old psychic entity on their homeworld for their first mission, but perhaps we make the child a recurring villain? Each time incarnated in a more terrifying way?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yronimoswhateley

Adventure two:

Their company is separated from the regiment and sent to a nearby planet, normally an excellent source of promethium (fuel) which has now dried up and stopped supplying the Imperium. Upon arrival at the capital city, the company officers go off and confer with the ruling elite at their impressive castle (situated atop the end of the pipeline from the distant oil fields) and the players explore the town for some local flavour.

The officers return with orders - the cause is most likely some wild-living humans of an ancient local tribe, off in the jungle. They don't approve of the pipeline crossing their land. 

 

The players travel to the wild swamps where the "natives" live, and either treat with them (unlikely) or battle them cruelly. But the "natives" haven't touched the pipeline, so the supply must be cut off somewhere else.

 

Arriving - eventually - back at the capital, all is still. the populace is gone, the streets empty, and the castle doors shut tight. When night falls, strange things stalk the sentries and carry away soldiers in the dark without a whisper. The castle must be assaulted - with the players leading the way - and within they find inhuman horrors, the traces of foul rituals gone awry, and deep in the dungeons, a fell, otherworldly maw devouring the promethium and all else that comes near.

 

Sounds like "Promethium" is a stand-in for oil... you might find some ideas in these threads which can be adapted to this setting:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yronimoswhateley

That is very tasty indeed! Gotta run with that nightmare fuel, thanks!

 

We did regiment creation last night, they're actually from an "agri world" which means children of the corn references abound. In my sure if I want to have them going up against a millenia-old psychic entity on their homeworld for their first mission, but perhaps we make the child a recurring villain? Each time incarnated in a more terrifying way?

 

Sounds like a good plan to me.

 

On the other hand, if Little Anthony wants to go "play" with the God-Emperor right away, I think there's nothing wrong with that.  I have only a passing familiarity with the setting, but I've always pictured the Emperor as a far older, bigger, and even creepier kid - one creepy kid to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.  Something tells me the Emperor has consumed thousands of Little Anthonys in his time; they might inflict terror on entire worlds, but to the Emperor they are merely tasty snacks.  The PCs need only deliver the little beast to the Emperor as commanded and leave the rest to the Emperor's high priests and such....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eyrelliah

Ah, I get you - focus more on the horror being the child itself, rather than the warp that the child is connected to. Interesting idea - I was thinking that by adding the tempo of something is coming it'd make things more scary, give the characters something to get themselves together to deal with; it'd be a different kind of horror with your version I think? Perhaps more Lovecraftian, in the fact that the players are completely helpless.

 

Admittedly I've been warned that although that's a good feature of HP's fiction, it doesn't necessarily make for a good RP game. Can you think of ways to give them more agency? If the scary wee creature is fully in control and leaving of his own free will, what do the players do apart from witness?

 

Re: Promethium, you're absolutely spot-on. I haven't had the chance to read those other threads thoroughly yet, but very useful - thanks! I have a vague idea to make their first few warzones relate to resources the imperium needs. So fuel, food, weapons and people (I've only got the first two incorporated so far). In each case they're there to secure that resource, and there'll be some kind of horror interfering with that resource, causing them to have to intercede.

 

For weapons I can have them faced with a heretical mechanicus cult, rising up on a forge-world. That'll be a nice way to showcase more of the horror the 40K universe contains. And for people, they can be force-conscripting citizens, or possibly facing off against the Slaugth (although initially facing proxies) on a world where the Slaugth already have a strong hold.

 

Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yronimoswhateley

Ah, I get you - focus more on the horror being the child itself, rather than the warp that the child is connected to. Interesting idea ...

 

I'm not sure about all that.  Could be.

 

I think the way I'd put it is that, as much fun as I can have with piecing together a logical "mythos" that everything fits neatly into, when it comes right down to the horror, I find things that don't have an explanation or context to be the most unsettling and creepy.

 

With a universe as thoroughly and securely mapped as the Warhammer 40K universe generally is, I would probably set that up as the "normal", with all of its stock monsters and tropes being the every-day reality that PCs will sleep through unless directly affected by them.  It's the things that don't fit in with that normal, the things that aren't stock and expected, the things that can't be sorted into the usual explanations (Orks or Tyrranids or Necrons or Chaos or whatever) that characters in that universe (and, I think players familiar with the setting) would tend to find genuinely unsettling and frightening.

 

Lovecraft, I think, mostly operated with a similar outlook:  his horror stories worked by first establishing some sort of normal, and then opening some creaky old door in a decaying old house to reveal something that didn't fit in with that normal and failed categorization, and then pointing out a door beyond that which contained something beyond description and even more enigmatic....

 

 

I think there's nothing wrong with offering The Warp as an explanation.  Nothing wrong with offering something else as an explanation.  Offering no explanation is great.  But offering three conflicting explanations that could each only partly explain it, but nothing that gives a clear and definite answer, leaving the audience scratching its head and wondering?  Priceless!

 

 

 

What causes a Little <a data-ipb="nomediaparse" data-cke-saved-href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It" s_a_good_life_(the_twilight_zone)"="">Anthony or a Sadako to happen?

 

I think that sometimes, one in a billion billion people is born that way. 

 

I believe that back in the dawn of history, back in the days of Old Earth, before Man perfected Holy Eugenics and purified human DNA, maybe this happened all the time.  Maybe something slipped through the Purification, something lurking in the Gene Code, which creeps out and produces something... different.  Something not merely human.

 

I believe that the Emperor might have been an Anthony once, maybe the first one, maybe the first one that survived all attempts of Earths greatest scientist-priests to suppress and destroy them all.  I believe that the Emperor has always known when a new one is born, and has always looked forward to the day when a little Anthony or Sadako ripens, and is ready to consume for the good of the Empire and all of Mankind.

 

I believe that all of the above is incorrect, and that sometimes, the Warp spills over into this world, and brings different atoms with it, and wherever those different atoms, or maybe different colours, or different angles fall, something just goes wrong with the universe, and an Anthony or Sadako grows through the cracks that result like weeds.

 

Or, I believe that agents of the Necrons or the Tyrranids slipped in, and put something in the water or the air or the thoughts and dreams of men on that planet and others, and an Anthony or Sadako is one of many things that might go wrong when that happens.

 

Or, I believe that all men could have been Anthonys or Sadakos, but something just didn't go right, and something the Necrons or Tyrranids or Chaos or even the Emperor did prevents us all from reaching our full potential, except occasionally for those back-water worlds where the effects of this meddling are attenuated and thin, allowing just an occasional Little Anthony to survive birth and live and grow and flourish, until the Empire comes for them to fuel the Great Struggle of the Emperor of Men against the rest of the universe....

 

Or, I believe that sometimes, some THING just slips in from the Other Side, and mixes with pure Human DNA, and slips away again before anyone notices, leaving its alien "cuckoo", its changeling, in the human nest, for humans to take the trouble to raise.

 

Or, sometimes the gods just play pranks on men.  Maybe somewhere, beyond The Warp, far worse things than Little Anthonys or Sadakos are born to haunt and torment the Things in the Warp and the Voids for the amusement of the gods.  Or maybe something far worse was once born among the gods, before the universe went wrong for man, and has been tormenting the gods for billions of years, and, to spite the gods' creation of Man, that Something Worse created Orks and Tyrannids and Necrons and three-headed gophers, and never bothered to wish them all away to the cornfields again....

 

Or, maybe there is no Reason.  Maybe things like this just are, and nobody and nothing will ever know why, because sometimes things in the universe just are, like strange things in nightmares often just are.  Little Anthony is just the way the nightmare went, and the PCs were "lucky" enough to happen to be a part of it this time....

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The_Tatterdemalion_King

With a universe as thoroughly and securely mapped as the Warhammer 40K universe generally is,

 

Having accurate maps seems un-40K-y.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eyrelliah

I know it's a horrible cliche, but you're actually both right.

 

From an OOC perspective, to those in the know, the universe is extremely well-codified. There are no necron or tau psykers, 9 legions fell to Chaos, science and technology are moving backward, etc. Which I think is what Yronimos means by that statement.

 

However my players know basically nothing about the setting (apart from "there's space marines in it") and their players, being bumpkins from an agri-world, know even less. So there's no reason I can't let them get at a "truth" that doesn't match the canon of 40K. It can be as true as they need it to be without it being canon. Or, just leave them ignorant, and never name the things they encounter.

 

In fact it's been explicitly stated that everything written about 40K is true, and also none of it. It's all a matter of perspective. http://www.boomtron.com/2011/03/grimdark-ii-loose-canon/

 

So my first session will be next week. The players chose a regimental drawback that makes them paranoid (although someone is out to get them), and not specified which arm of the imperium is persecuting them. So I won't tell them; just colour all their interactions with paranoia. Should add some spice.

 

In addition I'm also thinking of making the first session not be an encounter with a single psyker, as we've discussed a great deal, but possibly a village taken over by http://warhammer40k.wikia.com/wiki/Cryptos - thoughts?

 

Thanks,

Eyrelliah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The_Tatterdemalion_King

Not a bad idea, especially since they can't be defeated with guns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yronimoswhateley

...From an OOC perspective, to those in the know, the universe is extremely well-codified. There are no necron or tau psykers, 9 legions fell to Chaos, science and technology are moving backward, etc. Which I think is what Yronimos means by that statement....

 

Exactly so - I'm not familiar with the 40K setting, but I am familiar enough with the major factions and such through "cultural osmosis" that I get the general idea, and I supposed the same would be true for most folks in the science-fiction/RPG/comic book world.  It's in much the same spirit as Frankenstein and Dracula not being particularly scary anymore through familiarity... and, alas, Cthulhu, Deep Ones, and Shoggoths suffer the same fate.

 

I should probably add a disclaimer to my profile signature line to the effect of "You know your audience better than I do...", as often as the matter of perspective comes up:  I work on the assumption that readers will pick-and-choose the bits of my suggestions that work for them, and ignore the rest as the ravings of an unreliable narrator out of touch with the reader's version of reality....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eyrelliah

If you do, everyone should!

 

So I've got my first session idea worked out roughly, it's taking place next Tuesday or Wednesday.

 

The players will suffer some mundane difficulties while they get a feel for what they're trying to do, such as scaring up transport, and will be sent to a small village, the home of one sprawling extended family, in a remote location. It'll be a bit creepy, but overall they'll be able to get a child Psyker without too much difficulty - a patsy put forward by the Cryptos. The child will have no memory of his life for the last 7 years though.

 

They'll have a Psyker of their own along, and a psy-sensor as well, both of which will identify that there's more psykers still in the village, and that will lead to the players poking the hornet's nest - and the Cryptos deciding they're too much of a threat to be allowed to leave.

 

Not that they'll know that; the villagers will crowd them, and the village elders will offer the players the chance to trade their lives for the villagers', as parents hold knives at their children's throats, standing staring mindlessly. If the players decide not to take that option they need to fight their way of of a mind-controlled mob and escape. If they kill any overseers then they'll get a glimpse of the Cryptos, and possibly one of their accompanying npc's will get possessed. I'm not going to give any clues as to how to kill them so we'll see how the players choose to resolve/escape from the problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sign in to comment.

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...