Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stealing X-Files (Part 1)

I recently read Stealing Cthulhu by Graham Walmsley. Stealing Cthulhu is an excellent resource for anyone running Lovecraftian RPGs, and I highly recommend it. The book discusses how we, as Keepers, can steal the original plots and creatures from Lovecraft's stories, change them a bit, and turn them into brand new scenarios. I've already modified one of my own scenarios in this fashion and the play through went amazingly well.

The book got me thinking. There are tons of other places that GMs can steal ideas from (and have). One of these places is The X-Files. Week after week, Mulder and Scully would travel to strange places, and investigate the weird and paranormal. Sounds familiar, huh?

Like Stealing Cthulhu does with Lovecraft's stories, we can steal episodes of The X-Files, modify them to suit our needs, and turn them into a great scenario to play through. As an example, lets take the episode Darkness Falls and turn it into a Call of Cthulhu scenario.


The plot of Darkness Falls finds Mulder and Scully traveling to a remote logging camp, accompanied by a ranger and logging company rep, to investigate the disappearance of the logging crew. At the camp, they find a lone survivor, an eco-terrorist, who tells them that the rest of the camp was killed by strange bugs. A number of cocooned bodies are found, as well as the iridescent green bugs who only attack in the darkness. After spending a night with a sputtering generator, the remaining members try to make it out of the woods, only to be attacked and cocooned by the bugs. In the end, Mulder, Scully, and the ranger are the sole survivors.

We can use most of the plot from this episode directly. Note that some of these things would need researched for a classic CoC scenario. (e.g. did they have generators then?)
  • Contact has been lost with a remote lumberjack camp. The investigators are sent in to figure out why.
  • The camp is miles away from civilization. The PCs transportation breaks down just outside of the camp.
  • When they arrive, the camp is empty and the generators have been destroyed.
  • While exploring, the PCs find a body, or bodies, wrapped in a cocoon webbing and hanging from the trees. (SAN CHECK!)
  • The only way out is to hike.
So far, we have been able to develop a great plot almost directly from the episode. The PCs are isolated with limited resources. Something strange is going on. There are hints of it around the camp, and finding a body is a sure sign something bad is going down.

If we throw in some NPCs, like the company man, ranger and a surviving saboteur, then you also have conflict that the PCs have to deal with. (Plus a few more corpses you can add into the mix.) And we haven't even added in any mythos!

In the next post, I'll add to this scenario and mythos-ify it a bit more!

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