Call of Cthulhu
This is an update containing information for my upcoming Call of Cthulhu game. For my regular non-RPG playing readers, this is a horror themed role playing game based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft. I am attempting to mix these elements with Indiana Jones-style adventure. Those not playing in this game may find these updates interesting on their literary merit, or you may want to skip to my next rant about whatever the Republicans are doing.
That said, I am pleased to present:
Call of Cthulhu: The Souls of Them That Were Slain
Summary: The game will begin in the city of Tripoli, in the year 1936. The attempted theft of a rare book from a Zurich hotel has drawn a group of strangers into a shadowy struggle for occult power. Now, the party races agents of the Nazi-controlled German government to the excavation site of an ancient Carthaginian military outpost, the legendary Statio Quinta. In its dark crevices lie secrets not meant to be uncovered, and power that will shake the foundation of the world.
Previous session summary: Elsa Meier had come to Zurich, Switzerland in hopes of selling one of her father’s rare books (De Rebus Occultis Mundae) at a convention. One suspicious-looking Italian man (by the name of Antonio) who had expressed interest decided to steal it from Elsa’s room in the Hotel Regentschaft rather than go through the hassle of purchasing it. He was stopped on his way through the lobby by the surprisingly well-armed hotel staff and conventioners. However, Elsa and the book were taken into custody by the Zurich police.
It became apparent that the German government was using a fair amount of diplomatic influence to obtain the book, and possibly send Elsa to an unpleasant fate. She managed to escape with the assistance of some of those involved in the hotel incident, as well as her shockingly unnatural skill at disguise.
Elsa has now convinced those involved in stopping the hotel theft to go with her to Libya, where they hope to prevent the Nazis from unlocking the occult power buried in the legendary Carthaginian outpost, Statio Quinta.
Elsa Meier: rare book collector; Jena, Germany
“The Nazis seem unusually interested in my father’s dusty old tomes. I won’t let them have the books, though – the voices wouldn’t let me hear the end of it if I did.”
Elsa’s father had the most interesting books. Most were in German, but some in Hebrew and a few in Latin. The young Elsa once, with the aid of a chair, pulled one off the high shelf and pored over the strange and fanciful illustrations. Her father was very upset when he caught her with this book – at the time, she did not understand why – and the next day installed a door, with a lock, on the bookcase.
Her father was killed in the war, and her mother succumbed the next year to the Spanish influenza. She and her father’s books passed into the care of the local rabbi. From him she learned to read Hebrew, and in school she learned Latin. And so she read her father’s books, looking for a sense of connection with her parents. Instead she found knowledge she was not meant to know.
Meanwhile the darkness over Germany deepened, and she decided to leave. For her own safety, but more importantly for the safety of the books. In the hands of Hitler’s goons, this knowledge could be wielded to a terrifying end…
Andrew Carter: archaelogist; Providence, USA
“That belongs in a museum!”
Dr. Carter is the sort of archaeologist who believes one can get further with a shovel and a gun than with a shovel alone. This sort of attitude has made him a rising star in his field of ancient Mediterranean civilizations, if not particularly popular with the locals. Fortunately for him, the artifacts he brought from Turkey and Palestine carried more weight with Brown University than the opinions of the natives, and he now enjoys a position in the archaeology department at this institution.
Andrew’s latest project has brought him to the Libyan coast, where he and his team are excavating what appears to be a Carthaginian military outpost dating to the Second Punic War. The site was discovered by the Libyan military while performing naval exercises in the area; they persist (much to Dr. Carter’s annoyance) in overseeing the area, though they have conceded to move the firing range elsewhere. To complicate matters, the excavation is being financed by a reclusive American millionaire, who on occasion has been known to send his own people to check on the progress. This would all be very frustrating if it weren’t such an unusually interesting site.
Stan Deacon: theoretical physicist; Pasadena, USA
“My colleagues speak of uncertainty and randomness, but these are words for the weak and the blind. Where the mandates of physical law end is where the human will begins. The strong take their place in the gaps between the equations.”
The new science of quantum mechanics prompted much debate among the physicists of the time. The equations were very accurate, but what they meant was not clear. What was clear was that the mechanical, deterministic world as understood by Newton had to be abandoned in favor of a probabilistic one strongly influenced by the observer. In the strange facts of wave-particle duality and coherent superposition Niels Bohr saw reflected Eastern mysticism. Stan Deacon, on the other hand, sees the occult – the path to magical control over the universe.
By day Deacon does calculations, derives formulae (after praying to Pan for guidance, of course), and publishes papers that do not particularly stand out from those of his colleagues, except for the occasional flash of insight that earned him his Caltech professorship. At night, he does some experiments of his own. These are experiments with pentagrams drawn in blood and powdered silver, with chants in forgotten languages and calculations that are a mixture of physics and numerology. Sometimes, he sacrifices Schrodinger’s cat.
His neighbors, his students, his colleagues whisper about him, but he does not care. Dr. Deacon knows he is on the edge of true understanding – true power – over the laws of nature.
Jun Murayama: imperial envoy; Kyoto, Japan
“A falcon released
Diving at unknowing prey
I race with the wind.”
The Empire of Japan trains kamikaze troops to guide tons of metal and explosive material into the enemy at tremendous speed. Sometimes, however, the Emperor requires a more precise and delicate weapon. For cases like these, he has men like Jun.
The Murayama family earned the Emperor’s trust during the Restoration, and has enjoyed a privileged position in Kyoto since then. The sons of the Murayamas are given the best education and training that the Empire has to offer, and that they are expected to use it in service of the Emperor is considered an honor. Jun is the latest of this line, and having completed his training has been sent to Europe to fulfill his duty.
Jun’s official position is as a young diplomat, and this is indeed an important part of his role. However, this is only half of what he is trained for. Sometimes a bit of force, carefully and secretly applied, helps diplomatic negotiations along, and for this purpose Jun has studied martial arts, marksmanship, and the art of stealth.
Word has come to Jun that the Germans are stirred up about a rare book that appeared in Zurich. The instructions from Kyoto are clear: find out what is important about the book, and make sure its eventual owner is one satisfactory to the interests of the Empire. In Jun’s position failure and death are the same, and Jun does not intend to die today.