Friday, October 4, 2013

Stealing X-Files (Part 3)

Its been a while since I last did anything with this, mostly due to real-life getting in the way. However, I'm back and at it again!

In part 1 and part 2, we fleshed out our stolen X-Files plot into a Call of Cthulhu scenario, complete with mythos monsters. Now lets expand it a little more to add in atmosphere and clues for the PCs. Since this is also an isolated area, it makes perfect sense for this to be a sandbox environment, or an area the PCs can explore freely within the scenario.


Every Call of Cthulhu scenario, or horror scenario in general, needs atmosphere. Atmosphere gets the players in the mood, and helps them relate to the scenario and the genre. While this can be accomplished out of game using lighting and music, this can also be accomplished in game.

In this scenario, we want the PCs to be isolated and have that feeling of despair and helplessness. To emphasize this, the following can be added to the scenario:
  • The woods are thick and dark, even during mid-day. There are places where the canopy is so thick, no light makes it to the ground.
  • It stormed the night before the PCs arrive, and the clouds in the sky threaten more rain. Therefore, everything is wet, cold, and miserable.
  • The camp is deathly silent. The only sound is of the occasional drip of water into a puddle.
Once they enter the camp, the PCs should get a foreboding feeling. To do this, we can add little details which hint at what happened, and what is to come.
  • The mess hall is in shambles. It appears as if the lumberjacks were interrupted in the middle of a meal, as there is food still on the tables. However, dishes, silverware and other food are strewn about.
  • The PCs eventually notice there are a lot of spiderwebs around the camp. It starts off with one or two of the PCs feeling a sticky strand across their face, but the soon begin to notice more webs on the buildings and the ground.
  • There is little light here, so any buildings they enter are dark.
As they explore more, they find the insides of some of the buildings are filled with large spiderwebs. One building, lets say a bunkhouse, is covered in spiderwebs. The webs are everywhere - over the beds, the door, covering the walls, and obscuring the view into the rafters above.


Call of Cthulhu is an investigative game, so the PCs need clues to figure out what is going on. Here are some that come to mind:

  • The PCs come across a journal in an office, detailing the work the lumberjacks have performed. An entry from the previous week details that the camp has begun to move into an older part of the forest that contains larger trees. An entry after that details that after felling one older tree, a cave was revealed underneath. No further entries are present.
  • Spiderwebs are everywhere. Not just outside, but in the buildings. Soon, it becomes difficult to move around without walking through a spiderweb.
  • In the bunkhouse, the PCs should find two bodies wrapped in webs. The first is dead; drained of all blood. The second is barely alive, and becomes conscious long enough to shout out a warning before passing on. And thats when the PCs here movement above their heads.
  • A second option would be for the PCs to find a lumberjack ensconced in webs, but begins to make a recovery. As he relates the story of what happened over a meal, he begins to get sick and convulse. Soon, a number of baby Spiders of Leng burst from his chest. (Yes, I'm stealing the scene from Alien, but damn, its just very effective.)
These are just a few of the clues that could be used. The goal is to progressively reveal more and more of the horror. (I have purposely not put a lot here. In my experience, Keepers get their own ideas and since I plan on running this at some point, I don't want to give away all my hand.)

The Scenario

Overall, this scenario should go from investigative (e.g. figuring out what happened) to survival (e.g. how do the PCs survive the night and escape). There are lots of options beyond what I detailed above, which is partially why I'm stopping here. Keepers will no doubt have their own ideas at this point on how they can expand and use this scenario.

However, as can be seen from the scenario we've created here, there are many places we can steal plots from (in this case The X-Files), and modify for our own use. If you come up with any other good plots to use from anywhere, let me know!

Three quick things to end this on:
  • After I wrote the first two posts, I remembered a scenario called Legs by  Jim of Skype of Cthulhu. The scenario has a plot close to this one, and it was truly a coincidence that I chose the same mythos creatures as that one.
  • One of the best places to get plots is from real life. In doing some research for this scenario, I used the Google News Archive to find any old articles on logging camps in the 20s. Lo and behold, I find a cool article from 1921 on logging lingo!
  • Finally, once I get around to writing this up and running through it, I'll post a copy here. However, if you use the ideas here, I'd love to hear about them!

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