Eight of the Seven Seas: The UnSea

Important Locations

  1. The Inn at the End of the World – where the round end of the world floweth over a tall Inn overlooks the void. It has only one window and one door that opens onto the world, but many doors and windows that overlook the void. More sailors enter from without than within. Sailors of the Seven Seas avoid this place unless they are desperate. Ghosts of the drowned are the least terrifying drinkers in this place.
  2. The void – this world is round, and water rushes off of its side. There is nothing there but spirits and monsters. You fall forever.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here? Met with a ghost. Chased Sally here.
  2. Is Sally here? She may be a spirit here, or the innkeep.

 

The People:

  1. The Innkeep – a mysterious woman, scarred and silent. She severs the ghosts and spirits and gods that visit her.
  2. The PCs – their former selves, sinners and criminals and guilty of the worst crimes. The Reborn PCs will chase them here finally to account for their crimes.
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Seventh of the Seven Seas: The Shaken Sea

Important Locations

  1. Port Carnage – Brick and plaster houses are stacked on top of each other like narrow pancakes all descending into the sea. The town was once a prosperous colony of the Empire, but its governor gave into greed and let pirates and privateers inhabit his harbor. Then as if in divine judgement an earthquake dropped the town into the sea. Desiring to keep their refuge the pirates and buccaneers of the town simply began building their new homes atop the flooded roofs of their old ones. As the town sinks into the water over and over again they continue to build. Its streets are floating causeways and shops float on barges and rowboats. Any manner of illicit good can be found here.
  2. The Jungle Coast – bordering the sea is a mysterious land of ancient temples hidden by the vast green trees of a jungle. Any sailor knows that the gold hidden there is not worth encountering massive cats, venomous snakes, and megalithic spiders. Once a few stupid explorers of the Empire traveled there to steal the gold, but most have been transformed into pale pygmy cannibals.
  3. The Wreck Reefs – The waters of this tropical sea are jagged with reefs as if it is the swill in the mouth of a massive shark. Many of these harbor the fragmented remains of ships lost at sea. Some may have a clinging survivor, others may have wonderous treasure from the Empire’s glorious days of looting the jungle ruins.
  4. The Colony of Innocents – A town of youth. Here is the place where all desperate mothers leave their children. Innocent because the youth here have never known vice. While adults think the mothers evil for abandoning their charges, the children know better and display their innocence through their unaltered love of their mothers.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here? Done a deal with the strange lizard bird gods of the jungle. Bought or sold a perilous item in Port Carnage. Betrayed a pirate Queen.
  2. Is Sally here? No, but her child may be.

 

The People:

  1. Queen Annabelle Blood – A fierce red headed pirate Queen. She rules over Port Carnage with her sleek frigate. She has a fiercely loyal crew and imposes a noble rule over her cowardly pirate brethren. Many would give much to see her killed. She will grant favors to those who are noble and good hearted in their piratical pursuits.
  2. Lavine, Sally’s child – lost to time this innocent is one of many lost children. Lavine forgives Sally for her leaving, and cherishes her love.
  3. The Castaway – surviving incredibly upon the mast of a long lost ship. They have stories, sights they have seen, and secret treasure they may point out beneath the water in their ragged reef home.
  4. El Salvador – A pygmy mutant and cannibal. The satisfaction of human meat keeps him alive long beyond his age. He may know the places where the sun can be called down with a blood sacrifice or the lake of gold may be found, but these days the crunch of human bone is his only want.

Sixth of the Seven Seas: The Frozen Sea

Important Locations

  1. The Comb – a jagged arc of fjords to the far North, cutting the sea off from the edge of the world. Low halls are built overlooking some of the cliffs and pirate long ships will scull themselves out in shooting attacks.
  2. The Great Berg – a massive floating iceberg ensnaring the ancient masonry of a long forgotten castle. Giant misshapen bird people interbred with castaways guard the towers secrets.
  3. The Allthing – just South of the Comb is a moss covered crag of an island. On a flat place overlooking the sea is a grassy hollow surrounded by halls, tents, and huts of a hundred different clans. The clans come here to argue, fight, and execute criminals, and very occasionally listen to their seers.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here? Met with the Allthing to learn secrets from the seers, made a deal with the longship pirates, or activated something in the castle.
  2. Is Sally here?

 

The People:

  1. The Ancient Seer Branyeyes – An ancient man clothed in a cloak of raven feathers. His eyes are cloudy but he sees farther than anyone. He can tell of events from long ago, and from the future, but events right in front of his eyes are often lost to him.
  2. Gwyp and Gwyn, sisters and rivals. They fight each other politically at the Allthing, and raid each other in the Comb.

Rewrite: The Thing in the Coop

To get back into writing I decided to go back through my earliest adventures and rewrite them. Get the free rewritten version of The Thing in the Coop here!

Annotations are in italics.

ORIGINAL: The Thing in the Coop

First of all the title is a spoiler for the game. We should change that. How about “The Thing on the Farm!” 

The farm

The investigators are called out to a small farm south of Arkham. The farmer claims that something has been killing his livestock with alarmingly escalating violence.

Wow, wow, wow! What a jump! No set up, no description. Actually this isn’t a bad thing. This is a short game, it assumes a. that the players are people who will care, c. who can be hired to investigate things of weird natures, and b. know what farms look like.

 

Every night despite his best efforts a clamor breaks out in the various barns and fields and animals are killed. As it gets worse he’s terrified that something might happen to him or his family so he contacts the SOPI to help him.

SOPI stands for special Occult Paranormal Investigators. Look I was young. Obviously to make this a workable scenario I might make this more general, at least include a note that the farmer put an ad in the paper. Something quaint like that would fit the humor of this scenario.

 

The farm is pretty normal, red painted barns, white fences and various animals. A small chicken coop occupies one pen, some pigs another. Sheep are visible in the fields and two horses are visible in a nearby paddock. The mare seems to have a bell on her neck while the other, probably a stallion seems to walk slowly, feeling it’s way. This should give the investigators a bad feeling.

Pretty good start, easy set up. Spoiler alert though: the monster is a chicken that has mutated into a dinosaur monster. What would happen if an investigator feels pastoral and decides to check out the coop?

 

The farmer is open enough to talk about his problem and will answer any question the group asks. He has a wife and two small girls. The girls are excited to have visitors but have an eerie habit of finishing each others sentences. The farmer urges the investigators to camp out for the night to see what they can find.

A couple of quick problems. No one is named. Not one. Also does the farmer have a wife or husband? Farmhands? What does the farmhouse look like? The twins are clearly meant to be creepy, but how do they fit into the rest of the game? And what sorts of things does the farmer know? What other clues are around? What violence has the “monster” actually done? It says the attacks have left farm animals dead, which ones and how? This could be a quick itemized list. The scenario also suggests the thing to now is just wait for night leaving little room for investigator planning.

 

The Night

The first half of the night is very quiet. Then suddenly a great shrieking comes from one of the barns. Bursting into the barn the group sees a cow, wild eyed but unhurt. It charges them in panic and DEXx4 rolls are necessary to jump out of the way. As the cow runs out into the night a scream is heard from the house.

Wow, wow, wow hold your horses. Or cows. A quick series of events like this is great for a spooky game, but again its assuming investigator action. If I recall correctly playing this originally went a little like: “you hear a scream in the barn.” “Ok, we wait to hear if anything else happens.” “uh…” Also the inserted rolls is a CoC tradition that isn’t how I like to write encounters now days. Typically these would play out as a series of attrition type scares, whittling away HP until the final fight. But better to set this up as a problem with some kind of stakes, creepy potential, or personality and let the players figure out how to get themselves out of trouble.

 

Running upstairs the group sees the mangled corpse of one of the girls at the bottom of the stairs and the other alive and gibbering to herself at the top. A MEDICINE roll makes the investigators think that the girl was somehow stabbed with a strange triangular shaped knife or other similar thing. The farmer and his wife are distraught and the other daughter has gone completely mad. “Cluck, cluck, cluck” she repeats to herself and wont respond to anyone. Nothing more happens all night.

This is a nice weird twist and increase in violence. But gives the players no agency, interaction, and the clue is a tad… obvious. Actually I’m pretty happy there are two clues here. Both lead to the conclusion that the attacker was some weird chicken. A more subtle hint could be nice. I think the idea about a “strange triangular knife” is meant to misdirect the investigation a little.

 

The Next Day

TRACK rolls or SPOT HIDDEN rolls will let the group spot track of something with strangely splayed toes and scales seem to be stuck into the mud in certain places. It goes off into one of the barns where they tail off.

Besides the spelling this is again a terribly rail-roady section. Considering the complete lack of clues prior to the attacks the players really had no way to preempt the violence, and then following up have no other recourse than just rush after it afterwards. While pretty typical for horror style, it comes across in play as a little boring. At least include some choice of action. They could try to barricade themselves in the house and see if it attacks again.

 

The farmer is sure that it was some wolf or wild animal from the nearby woods. He grabs his shotgun and heads out, wether the investigators go with him or not. There they find the cow, butchered and once again stabbed with a triangular blade. Despite these odd wounds the farmer still thinks the culprit is a wolf.

This farmer is an idiot. Considering the entirely non-wolf like tracks and the fact that they don’t go anywhere near the woods it seems like the investigators might, you know, check all of the barns, sheds, and coops so clearly described earlier. The farmer is pretty likely to come home with the dead wolf/dog below to find a roasting proto-chicken.

Also this bit means the players will probably get a shot gun soon.

 

Suddenly out of the woods jumps a weirdly deformed dog. Not quiet normal it has extra long legs and a bigger snout. It leaps over them and attacks. Once killed the farmer calls their hunt a success and takes the carcass and the group back to the farm. MEDICINE the wolf is covered with sores and tumors.

I like how I switch between this being a dog and a wolf. Is the fact that it has weird long legs and a bigger snout meant to mean it was reverting, in the same way the chicken is going back to dinosaur form? The farmer remains an idiot.

When questioned about the deformities, the farmer complains that a nearby coal plant has been dumping it’s waste nearby and the fumes and other chemicals has been causing deformities in the area. Another farmer complained that a pig had grown a fifth leg.

This might have been a clue that should have been mentioned earlier. Also if the idea of the pollution cause a genetic reversion is central to the game here would be a good time to foreshadow the shit out of that. Perhaps the farmer should be a little smarter and go off about how he knows enough science to know that neighbor Ted and neighbor Sally are both nuts because they claimed their pigs were becoming freakish boar monsters and their sheep are turning into whatever people domesticated sheep from.

Also the coal plant dumping waste seems suspicious as a Mi-Go wearing a scarf. How is a coal plant causing mutations? This could be expanded upon. It also isn’t really in keeping with HPL themes. Which isn’t necessarily bad, this is a humorous scenario after all.

 

Triumphant the group sit to dinner with the wife and the farmer. The girl is still very quiet and clucks to herself. As the sun goes down some loud noises are heard from upstairs in the house. Creeping up the stairs a weird and large shape is spotted in the hall way and when shot at it bursts out a window and down towards the chicken coop.

Welp, apparently I thought the players were idiots too. Sorry guys. The players at this point should be pointing at the mounting evidence of everything not being alright. Or if somehow the suspiciously tall dog convinced them with its decidedly not beak and not splayed toes, they would just go home.

Also another case of “aaaah a noise react!” with little to no player agency. I’ve even figured that they would shoot at a shadowy shape with little to no provocation. Also what sounds is the thing making?

What if people go outside while others go upstairs? This doesn’t really allow for a wide range of action.

 

The coop

Following the shape through TRACK or SPOT HIDDEN they see that the creature went straight into the chicken coop.

Why do they need to roll for this? It does say it’s heading for the coop in the last bit. Even the farmer at this point should have figured this out.

 

The coop is a large structure with room to fit about a dozen chickens and a man could crouch inside of it. The inside of the coop is pitch black and a rasping is heard from inside.

Looking inside they see something horrifying among the chickens. Something like a chicken, but somehow a throwback to some prehistoric creature. Wings, but wings formed into claws, a beak but one twisted and sharp, teeth weren’t too long ago in this creatures evolution, chicken legs, but with huge spurs, normally just for roosters and with other claws. It’s eyes aren’t the normal brown of hens, but a terrible red, blood red, angry at the world, bent to fight back at what made it this way.

The thing should be killed but not without either killing or very badly hurting one of the investigators.

I like this straight to the point description of killing this thing. Yes you GM, you better hurt a player! Or else it isn’t scary! No stats though… or strategy. Useful things to add here are: complications of fighting this thing in the tiny coop, how the other chickens are reacting, its fighting tactics, etc.


 

 

Fifth of the Seven Seas: The Missing Sea

Important Locations

  1. The HMS Insurmountable – A titanic shop, sailing crisscross the Missing Sea. It is a triple decker and is stacked with a full barracks. Soldiers march too and from on the decks, and a blue coated captain looks out with a spy glass in search of the missing home they once sallied from.
  2. The HMS Revelation – a black and metal clad prison ship. Once manned by imperial soldiers who carried slaves back to their capitol, the slaves have overtaken their captors and have joined the imperial search for their capitol in order to gain their revenge.
  3. The Hole – somewhere in the Missing Sea is a hole, not some mythical maelstrom, but a place where the water grows dark as if an entire isle had been uprooted from the bottom of the sea.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here? The Missing Sea is a quiet place dogged only by the imperial ships searching for the home country, many people find it a good place to meet with no one the wiser. As long as you aren’t the missing home, the imperial soldiers don’t seem to see you.
  2. Is Sally here?

 

The People:

  1. Captain Nelson – an immortal admiral with no country to serve. He rides imperial ships returning back from the other seas, no longer the conqueror. He and all like him search for the missing country.

Fourth of the Seven Seas: The Glass Sea

Important Locations

  1. The Barrier Inn – a stilt supported lodge constructed of shards of glass the size of doors, strapped together with always fraying rope. Ships stop briefly to retrofit their shops with the skies, or wheels, or sleds needed to slip over the glassy waves of the sea. While waiting the sailors lose themselves in spirits laced with glass dust.
  2. The Tinted Oasis – a titanic wave, frozen in time like all its siblings in an perfect curl. Underneath, in the shadow of the wave, is pure fresh water. Growing around the edges of the water, long roots swaying in the water, thin skeletal leaves adapted to the blue light, are strange plants. Animals related to sharks scuttle in the dark air as well.
  3. The Crater – at the center of the sea, in its perfect circular glory, is a crater where a black humanoid statue lies. Marks radiate from the statue like it once fell in fire to the water. The depth of the crater should be remarked upon, as its nearness to the bottom of the sea lets one see huge creatures frozen inside the glass.
  4. The Mining Fields – In hidden spots all across the sea are broken areas, where sailors may climb below, harvest glass, and sometimes climb to ship wrecks once deposited on the ocean floor.
  5. Ships may be frozen into the glass – ancient things, wrecked, and only inhabited by the degenerated spawn of trapped exiles.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here? Certain magical acts can cause strange temporal effects. Some have spoken of magic creating things before they had ever been thought of.
  2. Is Sally here?

 

The People:

  1. Mr. de Hollar – an exile of the Fens and a criminal. He was stranded by his last crew, chained to a barrel filled with glass dust. He drags it pitifully, but with a willing crew he can barter the dust for passage and eventual new crimes.
  2. Dolly Maroon – a youthful raven haired girl who mans the Barrier Inn. She carries a long pistol and serves wicked grog. Anyone who cheats her or hers finds their next drink laced with lacerating dust.
  3. The Black Statue – some say it murmurs things. Secrets of the sky it came from? Or of the other wanderers who have tried to listen to it?

3 Places of the Desert Divide

The City of V

The City of V is built along a steep sided gulley. The gulley in reality forms more of a “U” than the titular letter and the bottom is filled in with tall buildings stacked one atop the other with terraces and zig-zagging staircases winding between them. At the bottom the small amount of water that flows from above curls at the bottom of the town carefully crossed by bridges and a managed by damns and locks. No one is allowed to sully this water. It is the only drinking water for the city and all must respect that. There is no need for guards – anyone who lives there knows to respect the river. At the end of town where the gulley begins to widen there is a square that opens before the city’s gates. Here the people of the City of V throw their trash and filth to be washed downstream. So sullied is the river beyond that it turns into a swamp at the river’s widest point. The people of the City do not believe anyone else needs their water.

The Citadel of Canals once was a prosperous place, fed by a mountain lake it filled its titular passages with water. Villas were adorned with vines and trees and everyone was prosperous. In that happy period a great charm-maker constructed over one thousand gold lampposts with three clawed feet. According to him, just before the prince had his head cut off for fraud, the lampposts would spring to life should the citadel ever need them.

(Maybe just a part of City of V) The man wasn’t executed he was thrown into the swamp at the end of the river so that “his sacrifice would protect the citadel forever.”

 

The Empire of Feet

The Empire of Feet is centered on their capitol the Garden Cross. The city is built upon a tall mesa separated by the hills by nearly a mile. Climbing up it is easy to see why the empire is so powerful. The city itself is a Sel. The mesa itself is carved into creating the effect of tall double city walls. The circular ring is then connected to a cross in the middle and the inside of these walls is filled with greenery, a magical garden of the Stone Gods.

 

But the four spaces in between the walls are hardly empty. Centuries ago when the Ancient Empire ruled the continent great statues were placed here. Now they are simply ruined feet, two to a quadrant. The rich guilds of the empire inhabit them, filling them with workshops, meeting halls, and palatial rooms. The poor have to live in the hovels constructed between the massive toes and ankles or out in the two “poor feet” at the bottom of the mesa.

 

One ruin, the legs and throne of some forgotten lord is the Empress’s palace. Filled with open air courtyards and green plants it mirrors the fantastical gardens around the city. There she keeps her courts and a bridge has been built to connect the upper height of the throne with the outer walls so the Empress and her most faithful can overlook the magical greenery below.

 

The Poor Feet are two separate feet standing apart from the mesa facing the Great Dune Desert. They have been tunneled through by poor travelers and exist as half hovels and half taverns. Travelers who are not welcome in the city may stay there.

 

Between the Poor Feet is a half sand covered road that leads up to the tunnels that wind up into the city. Many imperial guards hide in murder holes along the twisting path that comes out into the fourth quadrant of the city.

 

The great Empire of Feet has a large stone erected at the base of the Palatial Toes. There it is written in gold filled letters the distance to every part of the empire.

 

The Dry Line

There is an invisible line in the desert of great dunes. Or it would be invisible if not for the rows of boats all stranded, dried to crispy preservation, tied by chains and ropes to old posts. The line of boats extends a long way in both directions marking a spot in the sand that is indistinct in every other way. Those with cabins sometimes contain homes, lived in by landlubbers who found this strange place long ago. One of the large galley’s has become a tavern. Many adventurer’s come to explore the hold’s of the larger boats. Some explore the line looking for a fabled stone god said to sit on his own boat along the  line still fishing from the long lost lake.