The Chaosium Digest

The Chaosium Digest supports the role-playing games produced by Chaosium Inc. and all content is fan submitted. Begun in 1994 by Shannon Appelcline who passed it to myself in 2000 and previously distributed via email, this is the newest incarnation of the Chaosium Digest. Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chaosium Digest Classics: Sweet Child of Mine

by Jorge Palinhos
originally presented in Chaosium Digest v29.5, Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Author's Note: This is an adventure I ran in my current Coc Campaign. I only have 2 players who have characters who are married with each other. I decided that with such a small number of players I needed a more intimate, personal horror campaign and not the normal investigative affair. This is reflected in this adventure.


Setting

This is a short, intimate adventure of personal horror appropriate for a small group off investigators. It is set in a small, conservative village near a medium-sized town.

Joanna Lloyd was always a sad, lonely child, craving the affection she didn't have. Born the middle child of a large locally reknowned and powerful family of conservative values, she never found the love she desired among her brothers and sisters. When she grow up, she looked for love outside the household. She found Frank Webster, a former navy officer who had been discharged for dereliction of duty and insubordination. He sensed in her easy prey and seduced her. They married and Frank set himself up for a comfortable married life amidst a well-off family and started to ignore Joanna's demands for attention. Joanna was alone and unhappy again, until she became pregnant. She started idealizing de not-yet born child, thinking about the love that she would give him or her, and how such love would finally receive the way she wanted. This idea became deeply rooted within her mind and she prepared joyfully for the birth day. It was a miscarriage. With her heart broken Joanna tried again, became pregnant again and miscarried, again. She would have tried again but Frank was growing tired of her constant demands and started distancing himself form her and rejecting her requests.

Then something snapped inside Joanna's mind. She knew she had to have child, whoever the father was. She began to seduce each and every man she met, seriously embarrassing her family who were now aware that she wasn't well. They refused to give her proper psychiatric help, fearing the social consequences. They simply tried to restrain her and ignore the problem.

This continued until one bright early morning, when the family whs having breakfast. Joanna declared with shining eyes that she was pregnant again!

Starting the Adventure

The adventure should start when the Lloyds ask an investigator who is a close relative of the family to come by and provide some help. The other investigators should either be relatives of the family or friends.

The House

The Lloyds live in a farm near Saint Charles, a small inland town. They are a wealthy, respected and well-known family. This is a conservative, old-fashioned area where illegitimate sons and adultery are still frowned upon.

The House where they live is a large manor where cattle are raised. The manor is currently nearly empty since the Lloyds have discharged almost all employees and servants to avoid the danger of gossip. Old Dee is the sole servant still working in the house.

The Family
This is an adventure based in role-playing therefore it is important to develop the main characters of the action. Here are presented the main core of the family.

George Lloyd (age 70)

George is the father of the family. He is a sturdy, strong man for his age. He is mostly a peaceful character whose favorite hobby is to ride alone in the prairies and woods of St. Charles. However, if crossed or insulted he is capable of terrifying fits of rage. He is a simple, independent, country man who prefers to solve his problems with his own hands. Having to suffer passively through this situation unnerves him deeply. He has long become weary of the constant nagging of his wife, Mary Jane, and hardly talks anymore with anyone. He only becomes a little more talkative in intimate situations with one or two people he likes or trusts, and about subjects he likes, such as horses or hunting.

Mary Jane Lloyd (age 65)

She is the wife of George and Mother of Joanna. A small but energetic, nagging, shrew of a woman, she is pretty much the boss around the house since George only cares about his horses and cattle. She has long been aware of Joanna's problems but was unable to help or decide her internment. Although she is unable of showing deep compassion or sentiment, she doesn't lack sensitivity. This problem has affected her more than she wants to admit and has awakened superstitions that have long lain asleep in her subconscious. Lately she has been having a recurring nightmare about the unborn child. It's nothing supernatural, just her inner fears breaking loose.

Joanna Lloyd (age 34)

Joanna is currently the happiest member of the family, in a detached, childish way. Any investigator with a good skill in Psychology can tell that she has already gone across the threshold of sanity. All she cares to talk about is the coming baby, his/her name, clothes, room, etc. When questioned about who the father of the child is, she will giggle, talk mysteriously and just drop some hints about where she met him, how he isn't completely normal, how he lives apart with other people like him, etc. If pushed for exact description, and name, she will became distressed and will start crying and yelling and will run away. If the investigators try to discover the reasons of this behavior they will know that Mary Jane has verbally assaulted her trying to discover who the father was resulting in only upsetting Joanna. The investigator will never have a precise address and description from Joanna. If Frank is mentioned to her she will become disgusted and tell all kinds of ugly/embarrassing stories about him. Some completely true, others not exactly true.

Adam Lloyd (age 23)

Adam is the youngest son of the family. He is a lazy, indolent young man, still undecided about his future. He has done a bit of everything and always end up bored. He is tired of Mary Jane's sarcastic remarks and insults about his laziness, but hasn't made up his mind about leaving the house. This situation has provided more frustration for him since Mary Jane has forbidden him to meet his friends, and he has to hang all day around the house. His only distraction is going around the farm shooting birds and other animals.

Dee (age 72)

Dee is a black woman and daughter of slaves. She is the longest running servant in the house of the Lloyds, indeed she is already part of the family. She was raised with George, helped give birth to all the children of the family, and loves them all like if they were their own. Because of that she was the only servant who wasn't dismissed and knows what is going on.

Other family members

These are the core members of the family, at least in what concerns the adventure. There are other brothers and sisters but you can assume they are away or don't want to get involved. You can, if you want, add a few more of your liking or use those provided in here. Bear in mind though that this is an intimate adventure of strong role-playing, having to gamemaster several NPCs simultaneously will make it more difficult to portray consistent, tridimensional human beings. The conflict becomes more acute in a restricted circle than in a larger one.

Other NPCs

Frank Webster

Frank can be described like an aspiring crook, but a likeable, charming crook. He seduced Joanna to marry her and have access to a comfortable living but never abused her or beat her. He got tired of her constant demands for affection and attention, then for her obsession with having a child. He had stopped making love to her for a long time and felt amazed (and cheated) when she announced she was pregnant. He took advantage of the situation to threaten the Lloyds with spreading the scandal unless they provided him with a golden divorce, a big sum to keep away and quiet. George and Mary Jane would love to get rid of him, but aren't willing to pay the money. Still, they can't afford to let the word spread about the situation. They are stalling, trying to come up with a way out. Meanwhile, Frank, who is himself a little curious about discovering who the father of the child is, (meerly a question of masculine pride) has hired a private detective to find out and to provide him with a little protection against the gun-toting, trigger-happy Lloyds.

Oscar O'Sullivan

Oscar O'Sullivan is a private detective who thinks he as seen it all, cool and polite, he hardly ever loses his grip. This self-assurance can be quite unnerving to others and he uses it to his own advantage. He is now functioning has a bodyguard to Frank and, simultaneously, trying to find what the Lloyds are up to and who is the father of the child.

What is actually going on

The mysterious father of the child is none other than a ghoul called Wrershk. A considerable number of them have been living in an underground cave complex near the farm. They feed on the corpses of dead cows and other animals, and only occasionally, fearing to reveal their presence, do they feed on humans.

Objectives of the adventure

In the adventure, the investigators should get rid of the ghouls and decide the fate of the newborn.

Starting the adventure

The investigators may arrive to St. Charles by car or train. If they arrive by train, Adam will pick them up at the station and will take them by car to the farm. The farm is well maintained and sober, without displaying signs of wealth or poverty. In the center of the farm is built a big manor house, of simple and elegant architecture, displaying signs of wealth, good taste and old-fashion. The investigators will be received with more or less familiarity according to their relation to the family. Individual bedrooms will be given to each investigator. The family has meals at regular times and Mary Jane dislikes having to change them.

The Atmosphere

It is quite important to convey the correct atmosphere during the adventure. Most people in the house display a depressed or bored mood (except for Joanna). Most don't leave the farm. Likewise at the beginning, while the characters are trying to figure out what is going on and who is who and does what they will be around the house or the farm, talking to people or with each other. Investigators can help at the farm, ride horses, or go around hunting for a bit of entertainment, but otherwise their days at the farm should be tedious and frustrating. They may go on a few walks to town, to shop or research in the small local library. The inhabitants, while polite and friendly, will be asking lots of questions, some of them quite insidious, about what is going on in the farm, since the recent reclusiveness of the Lloyds has caused quite a lot of speculation. If an investigator bluntly tells the truth to the locals and spreads the scandal, this will make the investigators quite unwelcome to stay at Lloyds and Mary Jane will tell them this bluntly and harshly. In contrast the night should be eventful and all centered about the farm so to let the investigators feel insecure about the safety of the farm. Overall the investigators should feel like they are sleeping over a time bomb and can't do anything about it.

Events
In this section I describe 8 events that should occur at various times during the adventure.

- Nightmares (Night)

Once, investigators will be suddenly awakened by a soft crying. If they go around the house trying to find where it comes from they will hear it coming from Mary Jane and George's bedroom. Success in a Listen roll will inform investigators of steps upstairs in the attic. If they investigate they will find George walking around in the attic. If questioned he will reply that Mary Jane has been having a nightmare that prevents him from sleeping. If the investigators later question Mary Jane about this, she will look quite shaken but will refuse to reply.

- Someone outside (Night)
Another night the investigators will be awakened by the furious barking of farm dogs. If someone goes to the window to take a look they will see a dark figure near the gates moving away. (It is Oscar checking the farm)

- I'm not following you / Don't follow me (Day)
Once, when the Investigators go to town, they will notice a man in a car is following them. It is Oscar. If they stop him to question him, he will be ironic without being provocative. He will try to pretend not to be following them but doesn't try to be convincing. He won't be intimidated by any threats. He knows his ground.

- Someone inside (Night)
Yet another night, the investigators may hear careful steps around the house. If one or more investigate they will came across a ghoul (Wrershk who comes to check on Joanna). He will run as fast as possible and try to escape in any way he can. Try to give him plenty of opportunity to escape but if he is caught, don't let him be caught alive. If he manages to escape, don't let the players have a clear perception of him, just let slip the putrid stench, the not very human features and little else.

- Lights in the night (Night)

After so many events taking place at night, it is very likely that the investigators decide to keep someone awake as a guard at night. In one such night, the awakened investigator should see a bright light inspecting the house. It is Oscar O'Sullivan checking the house with a potent light, hoping to catch a glimpse of something unusual/interest. If PC's decide to investigate, as they are heading towards the light they will notice that the light will stop then suddenly vanish. If they are still able to find the location of the light (luck or intelligence) they will come across a creepy scene, Oscar O'Sullivan's corpse, half-eaten and with a look of terror in his eyes, near a powerful lantern connected to the battery of the car. If they are unable to find the location they can read about it a few days later in the newspaper after the corpse has been found by a hunter. The explanation is that Oscar O'Sullivan chose a place to examine the house very close to the ghoul's lair. The ghouls, frightened by the proximity and by the fact that he was surveying a house they knew had a ghoul to come, decided to get rid of him.

- The birth (Night)

When you feel the time is right, give birth to the child. This will take place in a closed room of the house. Besides Joanna, Dee and Mary Jane will help during the labor. Any female investigator or males with medical knowledge can also help. Everyone else will have to wait in a room apart. The newborn will be a small monstrosity with a large oblong head a protuberant face and deep, tiny eyes (imagine a dog's head without the fur), small teeth and very weak limbs. Everyone who assists the labor will lose sanity for watching it (1/1d6), everyone else will lose smaller amounts (1/1d4). Joanna will be delighted with the newborn and will hug and kiss it apparently oblivious to his monstrous appearance. The baby will cry all day and night, with a few moments of pause to eat preventing nearly everyone from sleeping and causing irritation and deeper nervousness among the family. He will never sleep.

- The Agony (Night)

A few nights after the birth George will launch into a rage. Unable to sleep, seeing his family being torn apart and lost, he will rail against the "baby". He will go into Joanna's bedroom and take it by force from her hers, decided to throw it to the dogs. Joanna will react histerically and will fight for the "baby" as hard as she can. The other members of the family either watch terrified or try to intervene. Role-play the NPCs to the hilt. It is very likely, if the setting caught the players imagination they will do the same for their characters. Either way, let the behavior of the characters shape up the conclusion of the happening. This event can lead to very interesting and unexpected solutions. (e.g.: in my game, the investigators were able to solve the situation in a way that ended killing the newborn.) Either way, after this episode Joanna will lock herself in her room and will not eat or talk with anyone else.

- The Slaughter (Night)

This is the final event. By investigation or luck the characters will end up finding the ghouls' lair. What happens next is up to them. If they decide to leave the ghouls alone they will continue their existence. The investigators may even decide to return the "baby" to them (if they are able to take it from Joanna's arms). They may decide to get rid of the ghouls. In that case let them come up with a plan then evaluate how good it is and how successful it can be. This event should be tailored to your players' characters and to the kind of CoC style you enjoy the most. You can use the lair to further or start a full-fledged campaign. Either way this should be the climax of the adventure. You can make it a full slaughter with the PC's entering the cave and shooting everything that moves, or they can decide to set it on fire or blow it up with explosives, or they can decide that the ghouls are just a community of different human beings and try to approach them in a friendly way. Investigators' insanities can also take a place here. The options are endless.

Wrapping it up

After all this, either everything is finished or there is yet the monstrous "baby" problem. Joanna is definitely and irrevocably insane and the only option is to place her in an asylum. The only difficulty being convincing George and Mary Jane. They are not to fond of letting it be known that one of their family is insane.

And the child? What to do with it? Again let the players came up with a solution. They can decide to kill it in a painless way, abandon it somewhere, give it to the ghouls or... raise it themselves.

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