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dulcamara

Anyone here run Crimson Letters?

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dulcamara

My new CoC group wrapped up Edge of Darkness last week, and I'm trying to figure out which scenario to hit next.

 

I'm struggling a little with how to handle things, because there are some loose ends that definitely can be explored - cultists on the trail of the golden box, the mysteries of De Vermiis Mysteriis, law enforcement investigations, etc. At the same time, I know from experience running other games that setting players loose in a city with a few general plot threads (they're in Arkham) can lead to them sort of half-heartedly poking around, which can wind up stagnating the narrative.

 

So I'm thinking our session tonight will be about those loose ends, add in a little more backstory, and then start to set up a scenario for next session. I like the idea of Crimson Letters because of its Arkham-heavy setting, but it's also very open-ended so I'd be curious how other keepers handled it. I'm also not entirely sold on the 'monster' - it feels a little generic to me, especially on the heels of the not-entirely-interesting creature from EoD.

 

So - anyone run it? What sorts of changes did you make? Who did you make the thief of the witch trial papers? How did the players like it?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

EDIT, with *SPOILERS*: I feel like one of the other flaws in the scenario as-written is that the dynamics of the monster's manifestations aren't directly communicated to players, and they're a bit wide-ranging. It can affect the area around both the papers & people who have touched them (regardless of where the papers are located at that time), and there's also the matter of the flawed forgeries maybe having an effect too. I'm just wondering if there should be a specific piece of info that serves as a clue to how all that works. That's a little complicated to add in, because one of the main aspects of the scenario is that virtually no one has any inkling what they're dealing with.

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AdamAlexander

I ran Crimson Letters on the heels of EoD using the success the characters had with the former as the reason they were asked by the dean to look into the issues in CL. 

 

Playing these two back to back is something I planned out several weeks in advance. This gave me the opportunity to expose the player characters to some the NPCs in CL. For example, one of the player characters owns an antique shop in Boston and got to know Abner Wick during some earlier adventures. When running it, I focused on the locked room mystery, put a lot of pressure on the group from the dean to keep things quiet and to report only to him. Rather than random manifestations, I decided where I wanted them to occur and what would happen. This provided the chance for the characters to experience them first hand and gave me cover to switch the perpetrator if necessary based on how things played out. I didn't really pick anyone up front. Since this is such a sandbox sort of scenario I wanted the players actions and reactions to help guide who wound up as the bad guy. In the end I settled on two. Anthony was the one who stole the letters, but did so at the behest of Emilia Court. It's been about a year since we played this and I don't recall the specifics, but the characters walked away suspecting Emilia, but were unable to put enough evidence together to accuse her. This gives me the chance to use her again later.

 

 

Like you, I found the creature a bit underwhelming, but put the party in a position where they needed to cooperate with someone they discovered to be rather unsavory

Abner Wick

to get rid of the thing. 

 

One other thing I decided to do is downplay the activity from the mobsters.

my group decided to go search the Hobbhouse manse and I used the idea of having the mobsters waiting for them. This lead to an encounter with Leiter's animated corpse and the death of the mobsters.

 

Overall, I thought this was a fun game and look forward to running it again sometime. I liked the manifestations as a tool to keep the characters moving. They could see bad things happening all around, or hear about it from people they met, or on the radio, or see it in the paper. This added a real sense of urgency and kept the tension high. 

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dulcamara

Thanks Adam, good stuff.

 

SPOILERS BELOW (how does one create those hideable fields?)

 

 

I'm still kind of curious exactly how one would handle not designating a thief ahead of time, because possession of the papers would change that NPC's actions pretty dramatically. For example in Flinder's case I'd almost think if he had the papers himself he'd hardly interact with the investigators, instead spending his time privately working out a ritual to horribly botch.

 

And yeah, in last night's session I both introduced Abner Wick and also wrote up a series of newspaper summaries including MU's acquisition of the Hobbhouse papers, plus name-dropped Fallon, hopefully to more elegantly segue into the scenario proper when the players are ready.

 

Did you flesh out what exactly was in the papers for your players? IIRC the Hobbhouse collection is much larger than the witch trial papers, and I'd guess my players would try to heavily research the background of both. I'm wondering if somewhere in that background research I can hint of the possibility that anyone who touches them is also marked for doom - this doesn't seem as clear as it could be in the scenario as-written. And were these papers written by Keziah Mason or another sorcerer with the express purpose of binding some entity within them? Or were they copies others made during the trial that inadvertently bound the evil there?

 

I dunno. There's so much to like about it, but a bunch of these parts don't quite hang together IMO and I'm not sure how to fix them without running the scenario first to see how things shake out.

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AdamAlexander

Happy to help! For the hidden fields you put spoiler in brackets at the beginning of the text you want to hide and /spoiler in brackets at the end.

 

My group zoomed in on a certain person

Emilia Court

as the suspect very early in the investigation based on nothing more than the contents of their bookcase. That was not the person I had in mind, but decided to instead use them as the mastermind behind the theft.

Flinders

behaved pretty much as you described and wound up having a very public and violent demise in a local student bar in front of some of the PCs. The papers were in that persons apartment. This is where my memory gets a bit fuzzy on how they figured out who was behind it all. My GM style is that the adventure, whether it be published or something I do on my own, is just a sketch and I tend to ad lib pretty much everything based on player actions and reactions. You do have to be careful with this style that you don't give the impression that you are moving the goalposts, but I find it works for me. This approach also requires having a player or two who enjoy note-taking since we tend to play campaigns rather than one shots.

 

For my run through, the core portion of the papers were KM's work. I mocked up some props for the players to see

including some from the forger's apartment that showed that there were some imperfect copies. Going to the forger's apartment is a good chance for the PCs to connect the dots that the manifestations are centered on locations where the papers were

. As for who bound what, I assumed it was the whoever wrote the the transcript of the trial, but I think there is some flexibility in how you interpret that. 

 

The key for me with any published adventure is to use in in a fashion that works with my GM style and the type of adventures my players like to play in. They really like the investigative side of the game mixed in with a bit of pulp action. It may take running through this once before you get a good feel for how it works for you. 

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cloud64

how does one create those hideable fields?

[spoiler] your spoiler text here [/spoiler]

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dulcamara

I'm still working on this, probably going to get started at our session tomorrow.

 

I've fleshed out the creature a little, giving it a folkloric name - the Nibberluk, according to Keziah Mason - and have a quick bit of written testimony from her trial where she briefly mentions its nature (with props to Yog Sothoth) and alludes to its desire to stalk those who've handled the papers if it ever get free. I think this info will be available when/if the PCs finally track down the stolen papers, to give them a better focus of what they're up against.

 

Does anyone have a handout for these diagrams/symbols that hold the creature? Just looking for a few pages of creepy occult stuff.

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PaulFricker

Thanks Adam, good stuff.

 

SPOILERS BELOW (how does one create those hideable fields?)

 

 

I'm still kind of curious exactly how one would handle not designating a thief ahead of time, because possession of the papers would change that NPC's actions pretty dramatically. For example in Flinder's case I'd almost think if he had the papers himself he'd hardly interact with the investigators, instead spending his time privately working out a ritual to horribly botch.

 

I would strongly recommend deciding who the thief is ahead of play - I'm pretty sure that is what is intended (unless I'm misremembering). The nice thing about this is that if you run it more than once, or if a player plays it twice, you can keep it fresh by changing the culprit.

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AdamAlexander

I'm still working on this, probably going to get started at our session tomorrow.

 

I've fleshed out the creature a little, giving it a folkloric name - the Nibberluk, according to Keziah Mason - and have a quick bit of written testimony from her trial where she briefly mentions its nature (with props to Yog Sothoth) and alludes to its desire to stalk those who've handled the papers if it ever get free. I think this info will be available when/if the PCs finally track down the stolen papers, to give them a better focus of what they're up against.

 

Does anyone have a handout for these diagrams/symbols that hold the creature? Just looking for a few pages of creepy occult stuff.

I used the attached that I found with a Google image search. Then I printed it messed it up a bit

 

for the copies you find at the forger's apartment (sorry, I can't remember his name off the top of my head).

 

Good luck and have fun.

post-8850-0-14428100-1492205537_thumb.jpg

post-8850-0-68928900-1492205965_thumb.jpg

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SugarRay

Hello Dulcamara/all,

 

I have recently put up a thread on a pretty similar topic (link below) I am halfway/3rd through running Crimson Letters and was just wondering how to finish it off? How did your's play out in the end?

 

As mentioned above I wish i'd selected the culprit prior to starting, I also changed the monster a bit as well.  

 

http://www.yog-sothoth.com/topic/31131-need-help-with-the-crimson-letters-ending-keepers-only/ 

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ecn42

Does anyone have a handout for these diagrams/symbols that hold the creature? Just looking for a few pages of creepy occult stuff.

 

I'm going to start running this campaing today, and this is what I've prepared for my players. It's only one page and not of the highest quality, but I believe I made it creepy enough haha.

 

Link to the image (I don't know how to attach files to the post, sorry): https://imgur.com/a/gc7UC

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ColdSteel

I ran this adventure in New York City with the university being Columbia. The gangsters weren't as big a problem as I originally believed though we had a laugh when the college professor of the group tried to talk tough like Edward G. Robinson, bad accent and all while the gunsels were confused by this and then one of them (Oakes) said to the other: "My old man was right before he saw me off to Princeton instead of the colleges right here in Manhattan; New Yorkers especially those from Columbia are total morons."

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vincentVV

Hi.

 

I'm going to run CL soon, but reading the scenario left several crucial questions unanswered.

 

1) How and from where were the papers stolen? According to the scenario, Leiter had a back door's lock forced recently - so, tha papers were stolen several days prior to his death, right? Or were they taken from his office on a night of his death?

 

2) What is the Horror in Ink? It looks like some witch had bound the entity in papers (what for?! What is the sense and purpose of it?). Well, ok, so be it. But what is the logic of Horrorr's actions and manifestations? According to the text it hunts those ones who touched the papers and creates strange effects in places where the papers had appeared. So, I want to see any logic in it but can't.

 

First, if it hunts the ones who touched the papers (in this case Fallon, Court, some unnamable students, who may help to sort the books etc are destined to die!) - then why doesn't it kill them at the moment of touching? Why should it wait? Why should it wait before killing another one instead of killing all in one day? I understand that it is "for plot's purposes" but I really hate such explanations. They cover logical gaps and stupid strange coincidences and gives a feeling of "It's MAGIC" explanation.

 

I also think that while players can and sometimes shoould feel puzzled about some events which can (and should again) seem alien, strange and eery to them - the Keeper MUST know HOW IT WORKS anyway. He must know the logic of events and functions - both because he is a Keeper and because understanding it can really help playing the game.

 

So, has anyone come up with some logical Horror in Ink's actions?

 

manifestations. They are even less logical and look simply like a squig prod to push investigators onward. The papers were moved from Leiter's house to thief's physically. They travelled along the streets - then why do manifestations take place only in the houses? What is the purpose of manifestations after all exept for to lead the investigators? Why are they so different and don't bear any similarity (no onder the players can ignore them thinking of them only as of some "weird arkham stuff"). And why are they so separated in time?

 

So, if anyone got any ideas on the abovewritten - I would be grateful for an inspiration.

 

Added later.

Oh, and one more question - why do Hobbhouse family needs these papers so badly? and if they need them so much - why don't they just arrive themselves to collect them personally?

 

I mean, Leiter is dead, heart attack - the police closed the case.

 

The only one who knows about Leiter's gambing and forgering is Fallon, so if he is quiet - then the reputation of a University is quite safe.

 

The only problem for the reputation - is the fact that Hobbhouse family NEEDS THESE PAPERS AND IF THEY DON'T HAVE THEM THEY WILL CHARGE\GO TO NEWSPAPERS\ WHATEVER. All problems because of these papers. Why are they so vital to the family, yet the family couldn't collect them earlier or themselves? (They are cultist and need the papers to conduct a ritual is too obvious to be an option =) ).

 

All these inconcistances make me really sad and annoyed about this otherwise rather good scenario.

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chicklewis

I agree that the keeper needs to be comfortable with all of the answers before running a session.  

 

Keziah Mason bound the 'horror' into the papers for her own reasons.  Perhaps it was opposing her and she wanted it out of the way.  Perhaps she planned to release and use it for some purpose in future.  Perhaps she bound it just to prove that she could.  

 

The way I played it, the horror doesn't exactly 'hunt' those who have been in contact with the papers in which it is bound.   Rather, the papers radiate its evil and essence.  The papers are a source of CONTAGION, and those in contact pick up the contagion.   The horror HAUNTS all those who are contaminated to a greater or lesser extent.  

 

The motivation of the horror is to free itself from the paper prison.  It haunts folks to drive them insane, thereby gaining control of them.  Once it has achieved control, it could use the thrall to cast spells for its release, or more likely would manifest itself through metamorphosis of the thrall.  Once the horror is free, it won't continue to haunt or hunt the others who are contaminated.    They are NOT all 'destined to die'.  It just needs one good victim to enthrall.   Once free the horror will wreak wider havoc to its own purposes.  

 

When Leiter couldn't handle the haunting any more, he took action, challenged the horror, and used the mirror to exterminate himself rather than allow the metamorphosis to complete.  

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ColdSteel

The papers weren't stolen from Leiter's office, they were given to Hunter to make forgeries. Hunter went insane and after sending him to a sanitarium (in the campaign it was Bellevue), Leiter headed to Hunter's apartment and found the papers (the real ones) gone. Who took them and how it was done is up to the Keeper.

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vincentVV

The papers weren't stolen from Leiter's office, they were given to Hunter to make forgeries. Hunter went insane and after sending him to a sanitarium (in the campaign it was Bellevue), Leiter headed to Hunter's apartment and found the papers (the real ones) gone. Who took them and how it was done is up to the Keeper.

hmm... But then why was the lock in LEITER'S cottage broken??? Is it just the clue to tie in the mobsters?

 

I agree that the keeper needs to be comfortable with all of the answers before running a session.

 

Keziah Mason bound the 'horror' into the papers for her own reasons. Perhaps it was opposing her and she wanted it out of the way. Perhaps she planned to release and use it for some purpose in future. Perhaps she bound it just to prove that she could.

 

The way I played it, the horror doesn't exactly 'hunt' those who have been in contact with the papers in which it is bound. Rather, the papers radiate its evil and essence. The papers are a source of CONTAGION, and those in contact pick up the contagion. The horror HAUNTS all those who are contaminated to a greater or lesser extent.

 

The motivation of the horror is to free itself from the paper prison. It haunts folks to drive them insane, thereby gaining control of them. Once it has achieved control, it could use the thrall to cast spells for its release, or more likely would manifest itself through metamorphosis of the thrall. Once the horror is free, it won't continue to haunt or hunt the others who are contaminated. They are NOT all 'destined to die'. It just needs one good victim to enthrall. Once free the horror will wreak wider havoc to its own purposes.

 

When Leiter couldn't handle the haunting any more, he took action, challenged the horror, and used the mirror to exterminate himself rather than allow the metamorphosis to complete.

Well, that makes much more sense, thanks.

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ColdSteel

The student, Anthony Flinders was the one who broke into Leiter's place looking for the papers which prompted the replacement of the locks.

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Judgetrev

 

The horror in ink was bound there by Keziah Mason so that it could work the spell to retrieve her from where she escaped too. The purpose of the creature is to posses anyone who comes in contact with the papers to carry out the ritual contained in them, releasing the horror to work the final bit of the ritual... That last bit is when the horror hunts down and kills the people who condemned Keziah Mason to be hung. When they die, Keziah can step back into our world.

 

The horror will kill the descendants of the original accusers in place of the actual people who have by now been dead for centuries.

 

Forging the papers weakened the boundary between the dimension of the horror and ours. It has to expend a considerable amount of Magic Points to possess people, or manifest in whatever way. It needs to rest between activities!

 

 

That is how I ran it anyway.

 

I originally planned to use Flinders as the thief, but I changed it a ways into the game as the players' actions were not jiving with what I had in mind. I ended up going with Prof Roach. He was clueless, as was everyone who eventually got drawn into this mess.

 

I liked the idea that the papers themselves where the bad guy, and everyone else was basically innocent, guilty only of human vices...

 

The papers where never destroyed. They are now in the restricted area at the Orn Library, in a box, under an Elder Sign.

 

Later, a witch cult of Keziah Mason disciples will attempt to get them and bring her back.

 

Maybe.

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chicklewis

VincentVV wrote:  "The only problem for the reputation - is the fact that Hobbhouse family NEEDS THESE PAPERS AND IF THEY DON'T HAVE THEM THEY WILL CHARGE\GO TO NEWSPAPERS\ WHATEVER. All problems because of these papers. Why are they so vital to the family, yet the family couldn't collect them earlier or themselves?"

 

The way I interpret it, the Hobbhouse family knows that the papers exist, has been told that they are of unique value, and suspects that they are worth a very large sum of money.  The family want either the very large sum, or the glory of donating the papers some respected institution.  With the papers missing, the family will be cheated of their desires.  

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vincentVV

The way I interpret it, the Hobbhouse family knows that the papers exist, has been told that they are of unique value, and suspects that they are worth a very large sum of money.  The family want either the very large sum, or the glory of donating the papers some respected institution.  With the papers missing, the family will be cheated of their desires. 

 

well, that makes sence.

 

I have one more question.

 

The papers were stolen. All who own the papers die. This means that the chain is:

Leiter (already dead) - Hunter (almost...) - the thief (awaiting) - the final person (who payed for stealing the papers).

 

So, all PC have to do (although they don't know it) is just to wait several days and not to miss the final horrible death (of the final person). It all makes investigation by itself very easy if not almost unnecessary.

 

So the question is: does it mean that the recovery of the papers was initially meant to be easy by the author, and the real deal lies in SAVING the PCs from the Horror? So, half the scenario the PCs are trying to put things together and find the thief, and the other half they are trying to get rid of the papers' curse.

 

Is it so or have I missed something?

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vincentVV

I think about making the papers' curse something of a movie curse nature - The Ring or It Follows.

 

It Follows suits really great - it has an idea of inevitability (even if you pass it to somebody else - this person will only be the next in a chain and the curse will return to you after that person is dead) and a nice idea of seeing somebody following you. How do you like the PCs find Hunter's notes where he describes that he sees an old woman standing in the street outside his house. Or Leiter's notes of strange sounds in the walls and a big rat in a cellar.

 

And then the players got the papers and start to see these things themselves.

 

Of course an old woman is Mrs Mason and a giant rat is Brown Jenkin. =)

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vincentVV

I have re-read Dreams in the witch house.

 

And know what? Crimson letters defenitely *must* be based on this story or at least use parts of it. It just asks for it.

 

I tried to figure out how to build up its plot - and all in vain.

 

But after reading Dreams I simply woke up at 2 a.m., took a pencil and wrote, wrote and wrote until I got a nice Dreams-connected plot, based on Kezia's resurrection and the upcoming 1st of May. Sweet. =)

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chicklewis

Really glad to hear it, Vincent VV.  

 

Does your bedroom, perchance, include strange unequal angles ??

 

What did you eat before retiring?   Write it down NOW, in detail, and eat it again next time you need inspiration.  

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vincentVV

Well, I thiught... I was sure my room had all angles of a perfect 90o but now I'm not so sure. Besides, my cat has what I thought was a teleporting ability, but now in the light of angles question... It looks like I have a non-euclidean cat.

 

I also have a dog who likes corners. It never comes or goes through them, but thr fact that I haven't seen it doesn't mean anything...

And that strange point somewhere near the refrigerator that attracts my gaze at night....

 

Well, at least I'm not sleepwalking.

 

I think so.

 

I hope so...

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vincentVV

I've turned my attention to Crimson Letters again and think about mixing it with some ideas from Mansion of Madness scenario.

 

Besides, it goes along well with the consept of Our Ladies of Sorow campaign and can easily become a part of it.

 

Has anybody tried to do something like this?

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