Shadows of Yog-Sothoth: Devil's Canyon

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Details

Pages: 15 (2004 ed.)

Author(s): John Carnahan

Artist(s):

Setting: 1920s

Appears in: Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, Cthulhu Classics

Campaign: Shadows of Yog-Sothoth

Summary

A Hollywood film producer invites the investigators to California. He asks them to visit Devil's Canyon, the location of his abandoned epic "The Prince of Babylon".

Links

Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.


Synopsis

Devil's Canyon contains invisible monsters called spectral hunters. These can be made visible using special lenses.

The spectral hunters guard a native village near the movie set. The Arc of Vlactos is buried in a fire pit.

References

Player Handouts:

Locations: Devil's Canyon, California

Creatures:

Tomes and Artifacts: The Golden Bough, Arc of Vlactos

Campaigns / Scenarios:

Comments

Keeper Comments

Intro

Like The Coven of Cannich, there is a very contrived plot hook to get the investigators from Scotland to California. It's not obvious from the players' point of view why they should travel to the other side of the world. Unlike the Keeper, they have no idea that a powerful magic item is buried under a movie set.

Winwood's reluctance to share access to the film reels might feel inconsistent to players.

Why did Whateley leave the Arc with the tribe? Why are the other members not collected it yet?

One approach to avoiding the above would be to have the Order send the Investigators to California tracing Whateley's route, unaware that he left the Arc with the tribe.

Mission

It is likely that players will be able to view the film reel with the Hunters on it. At this point, they have all the information they need to complete Winwood's mission, without needing to go to the Canyon. Amending Winwood's mission to include making it possible to resume shooting the movie fixes this. Note that the SAN losses for viewing the film are relatively high, while the SAN loss for seeing a Hunter is low - this should be balanced.

The Investigation

Reasonable players will seek out 3 groups in LA which are not detailed in the scenario at all - other cast/crew from the Prince of Babylon, local Native American tribes and the lenscrafter who created the lenses for Von Varnstein.

Other Cast/Crew: Presumably a high fraction of Atlas employees. Perhaps they are reluctant to be associated with the failed project. Winwood's office can compile a full crew list for the investigators. Most saw nothing, but some may have encountered Hunter 'tricks'.

Local Native Americans: Excellent material can be found in Secrets_of_Los_Angeles Secrets of Los Angeles. Note the timeline of the In particular, the spell "Tears of the Hound" could be used to see the Hunters. Note that San Bernardino has the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which may form a good mid-point between L.A. and San Bernardino. In my campaign, I had the local Tataviam offer help in return for the investigators achieving some concessions from the local Bureau of Indian Affairs. Be prepared to explain Kachinas and [Yig] from their perspective. Some additional drama could be added by including historical figure Rev. R. Glenn Edwards, a recently-arrived preacher from Texas with aims of establishing the KKK in Redlands [1].

Lensmaker: One approach here is to suggest that Von Varnstein took the blueprints with him & was deeply involved in the construction. I had the lensmaker offer to disassemble a lens in an attempt to create more. Perhaps this would cause the liquid providing part of the lens to evaporate (based on "Tears of the Hound", above).

The Movie

Use details from The Thief of Bagdad to fill in the plot of the movie.

The Canyon

The Hunters as written are more than capable of killing a full party, even fore-armed with the lenses & weapons. Here are some modifications to balance the scenario. Additionally, most parties will not wait around for the Hunters to separate and injure them. With the evidence from the film reel and the lenses, this will be much more of a direct fight than described in the scenario.

Here are some suggested 'tricks': Making noises, stealing things, breaking the generator, draining lamp oil, breaking timber on-set above investigators, draining water reserves, starting fires. Keepers should spend some time on the motivation of the Hunters - if they want the investigators to leave, they are unlikely to damage the vehicles. Also consider how intelligent the Hunters may be. Can they communicate with the investigators (if so, they are likely to understand their own language and Spanish only).

Some house rules for the Hunters:

  • if viewed with a lens, hunters may be damaged with normal weapons. There should be a penalty die for to-hit due to the lens.
  • Hunters must materialise to attack, or interact with other material objects. They may perform surprise attacks, starting from invisiblity.
  • Hunters remain vulnerable for a period after dematerialising. Their footprints are visible for the same period. Their footprints, and other effects are visible through the lenses.
  • Hunters have no to-hit bonus when immaterial.
  • Killed hunters initially leave an invisible body. Over time, this disappears, and cannot be viewed even through the lenses (without this, players may attempt to skin Hunters for invisibility cloaks).
  • As they cannot leave the "circle of fear", they must not be able to move the kachinas.
  • They will not enter the shamans hut out of reverence. They cannot climb the sides of the hut. If the investigators enter, the Hunters will become enraged and try to break down the wall. To force this confrontation, I added a cave network to the village to allow them somewhere to hide.
  • If a Hunter is killed, does their kachina break? Alternately, if a Hunter is killed, do they regenerate near the kachina? If a Hunter is brought outside of the Circle of Fear, do they disappear, and reappear near the Kachina?

The Child of Yig needs significantly more detail to be playable. Research the effects of Rattlesnake bites. It is reasonable for the campsite to have a first-aid pack containing rattlesnake anti-venom. Perhaps one investigator must race against time to collect it while the others fight off the Hunters, protecting the bitten character?

The box in the Shaman's Hut is an excellent location for investigators to find the ring from [Trail_of_Yig Trail of Yig].

Consider if it is worthwhile including the text of the spell "Create Spectral Hunter". If it is there, it is likely to be in Spanish.

The Arc of Vlactos

Here is one description of the Arc for players: The Arc of Vlactos is a black stone tablet, with an image carved in minute detail in the centre, surrounded by text in an unknown language. The image is so detailed that it is hard to understand how it was carved, or has survived to date. The text flows around the edges, and covers the rear. The image depicts an island scene, where two curved beams of striated light from either side intersect in an oval opening near the center. Through the oval, a star is visible. The light from the star beams down through the apex, onto two great stone slabs, which form a cyclopean crypt door. One of the slabs is partially raised. In front of the opening doorway are small figures, some in a circle around the door, others in a line leading from the sea, from which they emerge.

For keepers: the language is R'lyevian. Translating it would form a logical next adventure. In the above description, there are two rainbows intersecting over R'lyeh - these are the 'Arcs'.