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ColonelAutumn9155

Adventures in an Underwater Elder Thing City

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ColonelAutumn9155

Hey all,

 

       Recently I've been wanting to do an adventure set up in the underwater city of the Elder Things mentioned in AtMoM. I've always been fascinated by the Elder Things and after rereading Mountains of Madness, I've decided that the premise of a huge city in a sunless, underground sea far below Antarctica is too good not to use. I've already got all the nuts and bolts of the adventure thought out - some nice, clunky 1930s diving suits, maybe -just maybe- I'll even have them manage to get a submarine down there.
      I knew that the perfect reference document to use was Beyond the Mountains of Madness, but after scanning through the whole thing, I feel like I either missed something or I must be going crazy. They've got a lot of cool stuff relating to getting to the "Sunless Sea" and the "Stygian Cliffs" that rise above it, but I could've sworn that I remembered there being a little bit more info on the actual underwater city itself. It might just be me remembering things that don't exist, but I was sure that I had seen something about the underwater city, the last refuge of the Elder Things, being overrun by shoggoths... But in the document itself, I found nothing related to the actual underwater city itself.
      I've already got quite a few ideas... There are definitely going to be some sections of the city that have air pockets (I'm not going to make my investigators do the WHOLE thing stumbling around in cumbersome diving gear), and I was thinking about having the place be mostly abandoned by Elder Thing and Shoggoth alike because in an effort to defeat the Shoggoths, the ETs created something bigger and worse than them, only to have it turn on them and obliterate most of the city's population.

      I guess what I'm asking boils down to: does anybody know of anywhere where I might be able to glean some more information about the city that lies in the sunless sea? Or about any underwater ET cities at all? I figure they would be pretty similar to the city described in BtMoM, but I'm wondering whether there would be any significant differences or if it would still be more in tact. Also, does anybody know where I might find some rules pertaining to underwater gameplay/combat? I think that I saw some once in a scenario set as kind of a modern-day spiritual successor to "The Temple," but again, I might be crazy.

 

Finally, does anybody have any ideas for what I can do with this adventure? I love the idea of a lost city hidden in the depths of a sunless, underground ocean. Should be plenty of opportunity for some good spooky atmosphere!

 

Thanks.

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agedangel
10 hours ago, ColonelAutumn9155 said:

Also, does anybody know where I might find some rules pertaining to underwater gameplay/combat? I think that I saw some once in a scenario set as kind of a modern-day spiritual successor to "The Temple," but again, I might be crazy.

 

One change you'll have to make: forget firearms unless the muzzle is shoved directly against the target (and you're very, very sure re the manufacture -- i.e.: watertight -- of your ammunition.  Despite the canard disseminated by "Saving Private Ryan", bullets don't penetrate more than a few inches when fired into/in water.  (I've tried it.  And ballistics labs commonly fire a bullet into a milk can sized reservoir to get a pristeen round for examination.)

 

OTOH, spear guns are a possibility, and as I recall, sais were developed for combat in rice paddies.  Penalties, of course, for fighting in bulky diving suits, and vision/hearing will be severely restricted.

 

AA

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nclarke

There was an episode of Mythbusters that did the whole bullets into water thing  that was entertaining.

Here's a video of them firing  a 50 cal sniper rifle.

 

50Cal sniper rifle firing into water

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yronimoswhateley

You can find a great model for this sort of underwater-E.T. thing in the movie "The Abyss" (1989), and the video game "Subnautica" plays around with the idea as well.

 

I think the city from "At the Mountains of Madness" is a great model for what you are talking about, and the corpse-city R'lyeh is another obvious choice.

 

I suspect the way Lovecraft operated was that he was fascinated by the discoveries of real-life lost cities of all sorts in his time, and, under the influence of the New Age movement of his time (the Theosophists, whom Lovecraft seems to have regarded as highly imaginative crackpots), simply translated the basic idea of discovering tombs, temples, and cities in places like Egypt, Crete, Easter Island, South America, and so on into other exotic and seemingly unreachable places:  Venus, the Antarctic, the depths of the ocean, etc.  You might have luck doing something similar - maybe start with reading some historical accounts of the discovery of mysterious ruins, and then raid some nutty "New Age", Ancient Alien, and conspiracy theory websites for some ideas about translating those discoveries into weird places.  (For example, the story of the discovery of King Tut's tomb and the supposed curse encountered by the adventurers who delved into it, is a great and exciting read... combined with the UFO conspiracy theorists stories of secret alien glass cities hidden on the Moon that they claim to be able to see in NASA moon photos, you've got something even more alien... then, move the whole thing to an unfamiliar setting, and you've got a story about a band of adventurers exploring a bizarre underwater city of glass spires that the adventurers could dimly see in underwater photography, despite the best efforts of governments to cover it up for mysterious reasons, perhaps relating to a "curse" (which might have a terrifying pseudo-scientific explanation to be discovered by the adventurers when they pry into the city's secrets despite warnings against going there....)

 

Lovecraft stories that might help include:

  • "The Call of Cthulhu"
  • "At the Mountains of Madness"
  • "The Mound" (reveals other aspects of the mythology hinted at in "At the Mountains of Madness")
  • "The Shadow Out of Time" (just small hints, but good ones)
  • "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (just small hints)

 

You might be interested in the "Mythos Makeover" discussion that expands on some phosphorescent monsters mentioned in "At the Mountains of Madness":  (link)

 

There's also this throw-away line from "The Call of Cthulhu" which I'd always missed until someone pointed it out to me, and I've been intrigued by it ever since:  "Then came out of the earth the black spirits of earth, mouldy and shadowy, and full of dim rumours picked up in caverns beneath forgotten sea-bottoms...."  (What sort of terrible and ancient cities might be found in those caverns carved out from beneath those forgotten sea-bottoms from immemorial epochs of time when those sea-bottoms were mighty dry-land continents populated by ancient horrors from the blackest pits of prehuman history, and what might have survived down there in those caverns through epochs of flooding and the changing face of the Earth, creeping up from out of the aeons through hidden tunnels from time to time to conduct dark and unspeakable business with a younger and far more innocent modern surface world?)

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Graham

You might also want to look at Arthur Conan Doyles 'In The Abyss' for ideas. YWhatley you might want to check your messages.

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Gaffer

Keep in mind that diving gear of that sort is tethered to a surface vessel by hoses to supply pumped air and lines that enable the diver to find his way back.

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ReydeAmarillo

I brainstormed and researched a similar concept some years ago for a campaign, one major feature of which was an Elder Thing city submerged beneath Loch Lomond. It seems that from around 1912 there were self contained rebreather units available for hard hat divers - but only down to 40 meters!

And I can't recall how long the rebreather lasts?

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RogerBW

Oh, the Siebe Gorman kit was great, and only occasionally fatal.

 

It's a small tank, and by eyeball I'd reckon maybe 60 minutes on the surface. Divide by pressure depth, so that's 30 minutes at 10m, 20 at 20m, 15 at 30m, 12½ at 40m. Halve again for an inexperienced diver.

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ReydeAmarillo
8 hours ago, RogerBW said:

Oh, the Siebe Gorman kit was great, and only occasionally fatal.

 

"Only occasionally fatal" sounds like the perfect odds for a CoC game 😉

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Wembley

Underwater firearms can have much longer ranges - the Russian AKM is lethal to about 30m underwater - with supercavitating projectiles. Which could be made with 1920s technology: it's just a matter of bullet shape.

 

I love the idea of the support crew hauling up a stricken diver and getting more - or maybe less --  than they expected...

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agedangel
On 10/03/2019 at 21:02, Wembley said:

Underwater firearms can have much longer ranges - the Russian AKM is lethal to about 30m underwater - with supercavitating projectiles. Which could be made with 1920s technology: it's just a matter of bullet shape.

 

Fascinating!  That sent me on a Wiki crawl re supercavitation firearms, etc.

 

AA

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yronimoswhateley
On 07/03/2019 at 09:45, Graham said:

.... YWhatley you might want to check your messages.

 

Thank you, Graham!  I'm a few months behind on correspondence all around, and let a bunch of things slip this year that I regret not being able to keep up with.

 

Some other, unconventional options for exploration of an underwater city:

  • The investigators are a pre-gen cult of young Deep One hybrids who are taking to the sea for the first time, and descending into the abyss to their unearthly fates in glorious Y'ha-nthlei beneath the waves - but this "Deep One" city is not quite the place of splendour and beauty that the cult-leaders and Deep Ones have been claiming it would be, and there is something far darker, more ancient, and more horrible than mere Deep Ones waiting for them among the blasphemously primordial ruins!  Maybe not the best choice for a conventional, long-running campaign, but something that might work for an experimental one-shot.

 

  • The investigators might visit a city under the sea, not physically, but through astral projection - in dreams or through an experiment in guided imagery or remote viewing, in much the same way that the artists, poets, and madmen in "The Call of Cthulhu" saw R'lyeh in visions when that city was exposed to the surface in the story.  A sort of variation on the "Insidious" movies, except with a Lovecraftian version of "The Further".   A physical journey there might present all sorts of possibilities for physical types of horrors - sea monsters, leftover shoggoths, the hazards of deep-sea diving, and the like - but a Dream Quest into a sunken city might have its own share of weird oddities:  distortions of time and space, alien spirits like the ghosts of its former inhabitants, and the like, and the potential to put your investigators through all sorts of nightmarish experiences without physically killing them off, though they do still experience threats to their sanity and other psychic or mental effects.

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Eudaimic

Nothing to add except I’ve always wanted to know more about those underwater cities. Personally I’ve seen wanting to do an exploration of elder thing ruins in the jungles of South America. 

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ColonelAutumn9155

Hey everyone, just an update: the scenario that I mentioned originally as a "modern-day spiritual successor to 'The Temple,' " It's called "The City in the Sea," and it's located in the Cthulhu Now supplement. It's got some good rules and suggestions for game play under the sea (down where it's wetter, down where it's better).

 

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions!

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Wembley
On 12/03/2019 at 13:42, agedangel said:

Fascinating!  That sent me on a Wiki crawl re supercavitation firearms, etc.

 

Good - and obviously I meant APS rather than AKM. There have been a number of later weapons since then.  I did some pieces on underwater weapons tech  a while back https://www.wired.com/2007/06/seals-v-sharks-/     Sound can also be a good weapon underwater, especially when coupled with time reversal -- https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827923-200-turn-back-time-to-deafen-enemy-divers/

 

On Bang Sticks, the 'ultimate underwater weapon'  

If the threat comes from sharks, you may want something better than a handgun - remember Roy Schieder emptying his piece into the Great White in Jaws without any effect?

 

A common weapon used for shark protection underwater is the "bang stick," essentially a pole with a cartridge on the end which is triggered by contact. Many of these are home-made by divers, or you can buy them ready made http://www.bangsticks.com/

 

Shotgun cartridges are favored for power, but while getting the right grade of shot is important for hunters, underwater it makes no difference. The projectile is almost irrelevant; in fact a study found that having a projectile in the cartridge actually makes it less effective.

 

This is because the injury mechanism is very different in water to air. Underwater it's not the buckshot which does the damage, it's the shockwave from the expanding gas. Water is hundreds of times denser than air and incompressible, making the shockwaves are that much more potent.

 

This was the principle behind the US Navy's 'ultimate weapon/' for divers, the Seaway Bang stick. The lethal end used two cartridges stuck face to face, one a rifle cartridge and the other .38, with no projectile. It was packed with a more powerful charge than normal rounds, as a bang stick is not limited by the pressure the gun can handle.

 

According to diver Douglas Peterson http://www.freediver.net/freedivelist/faqstuff/faq_bangsticks.html the weapon was frighteningly effective, even against twelve-foot sharks:

 

I saw a shark, no correct that, including the film footage, I saw dozens of sharks cut in two... up to 12' long. The one I saw hit in the water was struck just above the gills and it literally blew the head off the shark, he rolled over and sank with the head barely attached by a tiny piece of skin tissue. In fact, of the dozens I saw killed in the test film, all but a few simply stopped moving and sank instantaneously, usually in two chunks.

 

The concussion produced as so great that the user was advised to look directly towards the point of impact otherwise there was a risk of eardrum rupture.

 

With previous bang sticks the spent cartridge has to be extracted by hand, but the Seaway design also ejected the spent cartridge so the bang stick could be reloaded immediately from a bandolier.

 

The Seaway Bang stick was only produced in limited numbers; it was not a success commercially because the specialized cartridges were very expensive and difficult to obtain. It was clearly a hellishly powerful weapon for dealing with hostile sea creatures – but maybe something more sophisticated was needed….

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