I'm running my players through a short horror session based on Shadow Over Innsmouth.
One thing I want to include is a hidden spell that they may/may not find. If they do find it, I want it to be useful enough to be tempting, but with a catch that might not be clear from the get go.
Like something they might even overuse without realizing the consequence.
Any ideas or suggestions?
The residents will slowly be turning into Deep Ones/crazed cultists as the night goes on, so that's just extra useful to them.
I don't want them to have access to any healing properties, I'm sorry I didn't specify.
Have it help them identify the "taint" of the townsfolk, but casting it is something so covert that you might even end up not realising you yourself cast it.
So Jimmy the Wizard mumbles something and then next time they're at the bar he starts screaming about how there are monsters all around them. Poor Jimmy, he just went mad.
I had a similar concept come to fruition in my current campaign. The party was tasked with recovering an ancient book that was stolen.
The wizard got a little too nosy and learned that the book had been used as a spellbook in the past, so he started using it as one again.
It started warping his spells in strange ways and summoning demons when he killed enemies.
Eventually, it was discovered that a parasitic demon was sealed up in the tome, and using the tome caused him to grow in power.
He escaped from the tome, and is now the BBEG, but the players don't know that yet.
A metal rod, that when shaken violently emits a bright light of an indescribable colour. The light invariably frightens and scatters Deep Ones and shoggoths alike. Great for making a quick escape when cornered. Can only be lit once every ninety minutes, and repeated use will degrade the rob into ash.
Bare skin exposed to the light will become to show signs of discoloration, followed by incredible dryness and finally bleeding lesions. Treatable, but extremely unpleasant and painful.
Lighting the rod more than 3 times in a twenty four hour period will "ping" the location to external forces. Mi-Go, Elder Things, Yithians, etc.
water breathing with a increasing chance your lungs turn into gills permanently.
detect evil with a increasing chance you cant turn it off. ever.
foresight / precognition where you see/live the events happening in the future....with a increase chance that your body is comatose for longer periods of present time.
thats all i can think of with a subtle catch at the moment.
Corrupted/Manufactured Elder Sign. Some variant of the great sign that the PCs don't realize is inherently flawed, whether on purpose or because of some forbidden research done by some angry god.
It works. It's magically cheaper than usual, but also harder than usual to construct, maybe because it needs some expensive chalk or a specific surface. The catch is that after the 1st time it's used, there is a hidden mountain chance, maybe in increments of 5% or 10%, that it'll just NOT WORK AT ALL or even enrage the Mythos being it's trying to repel.
Let the only visual cue be some change in the color of the sign's light or something gradual and subtle that could be mistaken for you just being descriptive.
spell that summons the bloodthirsty spirits of the group of people that made the spell in the form of exploding homing skulls. everytime they use it, the spirits chip away at their sanity until they are just as violent as the spirits that they conjure. with enough uses, the next time they use it the spirits will turn on the player, killing them and adding them to the spell
A shoggoth control rod used by the priests of the Church of Dagon. If they can figure out how to use it, it's POW vs. POW roll with a magic point expenditure (or whatever willpower/magic mechanic you're using) and a sanity loss based on directly interfacing your mind with a mound of roiling proto-flesh ala the ending of Mask of the Other.
If they use it and fail they get et.
Also, check out 'Escape from Innsmouth'. It'll have other shit you can steal.
Magic in CoC
>Only ever in player hands under special circumstances
>Always detrimental, high price to pay
>Long, complex rituals, no casting, definitely no battle magic
>Learn ritual = lose san
>Work ritual = lose san + mag
>Magic was never meant for human hands, it doesn't fit, like heating your home with your car
Ritual to make Deep One look more human (does not reverse)
Ritual to facilitate procreation between human and Deep One (does not raise attraction)
Ritual to confuse one who works it for hours (booby trap)
No magic is ever labeled correctly. Found an ancient tome? Good luck!
How magic should work: Ancient mummy loose in museum, tomb contains hieroglyphs describing ritual to imprison it, half the ingredients needed are unavailable in the modern world, the other half will cost the party dearly on a personal level and require subverting core morals (death blood of an infant and a year off your life). The party will contain the mummy, in doing so 3 will perish, one will become a cultist, and one will be sentenced to spend the rest of his existence in a high security asylum for kidnapping and murdering a baby.
A scroll with a unique Eldritch spell on it
It's essentially a ward against Eldritch things and otherworldly beings by basically imitating the very rare and odd sound of a Deep One screaming in anger. Of course, this is also made on a frequency no mortal can hear unless magically attuned to Eldritch shenanigans.
Over time and use, this starts to attract the large creatures, like a Star Spawn to come and check what's going on
Good structure, poor lore.
Deep Ones are basically humans to anything from the Mythos. They are a servitor race, it goes Shoggoth > human > Deep One > Starspawn > things with actual power. The scream of a Deep One will not have much effect.
And stop using 'Eldritch' like it means 'of the elder gods'. It just means eerie, as in humans assign it to the supernatural for now. Tinkerbell would be eldritch.
Have it be written in an unknown language. When you cast it, it feels like somethings watching you. The words are different every time you cast the spell, and you can't figure out how it's changing.
Little do you know, it's a ritual summon trading pain away. You gain the attention of some great dark thing that will either claim your mind, or grant you a boon that will eventually wind you up without your mind.
That thing looks like the star trek starfleet logo, except with an additional triangle.
It's the shit Derleth version of the Elder Sign.
Me too. It seems a lot more basic. The Derleth one is overwrought and looks obviously the work of man.
By having it very simple it indicates a much more universal background.
That said, I kinda liked the original idea of it being a swastika that's mentioned in Shadow Over Innsmouth, because that's even more universal.
Well that IS the elder sign.
There's other symbols though.
I like the one from the Simon Necronomicon.
i'm not implying anything.
also that's not a retard pentagram with an eye in it that's the starfleet command logo. i will never think of it as anything else.
well but then you could just draw a tree and say that this is actually some incomprehensible non euclidian eldrich abomination it's just your mind that perceives the drawing that way.
Or maybe a person that actually saw some incomprehensible non euclidian eldritch abomination tried to draw what they witnessed and it kept coming out kinda tree shaped...
The unreliable narrator is a central trope and many overlook that. Eye witness testimony is very imprecise. Memory works by remodeling the mental image every time you bring it up. And a traumatized mind will often counter dissonance with make believe.
>The unreliable narrator is
shit in a game where you only have the narrators word to go by when deciding your actions.
What you described there is a nice idea, but i wouldn't use it as the 'universal sign' for something.
From a suspense point of view it's better to have signs be something that are identifiable as a sign for something specific and not just a random drawing.
>I know this from my lernings!
Every time you find a journal, a lab report, or an interrogation transcript you have an unreliable narrator unless the author has as comprehensive a grasp of the lore as the keeper does. And how would that happen? DMPC? No, come off that branch, it looks shaky and it's creaking.
>come off that branch
right back at you.
having a competely mundane insignificant thing as a SIGN of something is a bad thing.
it's just inconvenient. The way the human mind works is that we try to find out of the ordinary stuff on something to remember it.
Even if every elder god looked like a fucking twig, people would probably try to find a sign for them that's like their eyes or teeth.
Because we do have branches already.
There's a 50/50 chance that any Lovecraft related thread will will be taken over by shitters who can't let the sight of something they dislike go unpunished. Consider yourself lucky that none of them have come around with the breaking news that Lovecraft had some weird ideas about race and we should all feel bad for liking him.
I mean, he was a weird autistic artist who was never successful in life, never found love, and died too young from a painful disease.
So I dunno, that's to feel bad about at least.
Back to the OP topic, anyone have any ideas? There are some ITT, but none of them really capture the feel I'm going for.
I don't need something that insta-kills the players, nor something they can only use once. I'm being difficult, but not on purpose.
Can you be more specific? Are you looking for just some slow burn SAN loss or something weirder? Should it be helpful only for surviving Innsmouth or should the PCs be able to use it whenever they feel like they need it?
Something to help them survive the evening stranded at Innsmouth, and a slow burn SAN loss would not be out of place either.
As mentioned above, they'll be up against Deep Ones and cultists, but shouldn't be anything much worse than that. Deep Ones will be tough to kill with conventional weapons, but do-able.
Give them a ritual to summon a guardian. Then have the guardian be a Shoggoth or something. It won't attack them, and it will do well against a few fishfolk. But after some time, which you should decide in the context of your story, it disappears.
No, it doesn't dissolve into the aether. It crawls away. Make sure to later include a news page handout with an incidental report of a black mass absorbing rats in the sewers of Arkham at the bottom of the page.
I really like the concept of that, having them lose control of the shoggoth and it fucks off without them.
What I have to keep in mind is that the entire game is a one-shot designed to occur over a single night, so I need to make sure and pace everything effectively.
Then let the shoggi make a threatening move against the party before it leaves, establishing that it no longer likes them and would happily eat their faces. That way you can narrate any shadow as a possible shoggoth and the players will jump every time - not just because a shoggoth is a considerable enemy that just has to touch your skin with its fast moving constantly shifting body but because they know damn well that it's on them the thing even exists and that they will face poetic justice eventually.
You're thinking DnD. This is CoC. You don't draw a dungeon map and sprinkle it with loot. Everything has a reason, a story, a secret for the players to reveal. The more curious they are, the more dangerous their lives become, but also the more clues they can collect that might help them solve the mystery and overcome the creature/s.
>a letter to the diocese from a concerned cleric a parish over who fears his colleague from Innsmouth may be insane/criminal/heretic - being here it never made it to the diocese. Research may reveal how the pastor in the next village tragically died last year.
>a locked room filled with packed luggage, some of it quite old. Some pieces have names written on or address tags, all belong to missing persons.
>the original travel journals of the founder of the EOOD.
>No new graves on the cemetery since 18XX
If you really want to boost the party for the final conflict, teach them where to strike fishfolk (gills?), how to scare them (fire?), and how to avoid them (bad night vision, excellent sense of smell?)
Oh, okay. That changes things quite a bit.
In dread your biggest concern will be to be able to single characters out and threaten them individually and immediately. If you can't they will just all avoid doing anything as soon as the tower gets shaky.
And you can allow it to get very pulpy without having to worry about blunting your threat. The threat is real, sitting on the table.
>And you can allow it to get very pulpy without having to worry about blunting your threat. The threat is real, sitting on the table.
Exactly, which is why I love Dread for these kinds of games.
Yeah, I get it.
Totally shoggoth summoning then.
I don't think any artifacts dangerous to fishfolk would be kept in Innsmouth. Let's see...
>Doctor has injections with green super-meth (he's a fish doctor)
>Police has electro trident behind the rifles in the weapons locker (but rifles work too)
>Post office has very durable waterproof bags up to man size and a long pole with a hook
>Fishing boat with dynamite (hell if I know why)
>Red phone to the crab people in town hall?
I'm drawing a blank.
>Post office has very durable waterproof bags up to man size and a long pole with a hook
Stuff like this will be sprinkled throughout the town. It hints at something, but not a specific something.
Okay, scrap the red phone, that's Cold War era.
But the founder was some kind of sailor interested in the occult iirc (which I probably don't). Maybe there's some shrine or museum, I think I remember playing through something like that in Innsmouth once. You could hang anything from the walls.
>An African ritual dagger that becomes more deadly the more blood it draws. And the wielder becomes more bloodthirsty.
>A wood carved mask from Southeast Asia that will enable the wearer to breathe under water (but not withstand pressure or avoid nitrogen narcosis and the bends.)
>A Mayan sun stone that will shine when blood touches it and will become a blinding beacon when it is more than a drop.
The town got a museum of a local hero, a brave sailor. It have a usual local museum crap but sports a large collection of various melee weapons. The weapon is unusually well sharpened and maintained. It almost looks like someone using it recently.
I really want to use a museum, it fits perfectly. Only problem is that knowing how players are, they'll just nab the biggest weapon they see.
Any way to circumvent that?
If the book is in a glass case under a cage with a big lock on it the players will understand it might be useful, valuable, or both. But they will keep any weapon you let them keep. Ask them if they'd prefer the fire ax or the baseball bat because carrying both will mean drawing extra blocks.