City Beneath the Sands

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Cover of Terror Australis

Pages: ##

Author(s): Penelope Love, Mark Morrison

Artist(s): Ron Leming

Setting: 1920s

Appears in: Terror Australis, Terror Australis (French)


The Investigators are asked along on a preliminary expedition to the Australian deserts, where the papers of a dead archaeologist hint at a lost city.


Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.


A lengthy adventure intended for 4-8 seasoned Call of Cthulhu Investigators. City Beneath The Sands may be used as part of an Australian campaign revolving around Melbourne, with an excursion to Port Hedland. Alternately, this adventure may be played independently, or in conjunction with adventures in the Chaosium publication Masks of Nyarlathotep.

The city is real, a relic of the Great Race of Yith. The area is now being investigated by a priest of Nyarlathotep in the form of the Sand Bat. A revived cult of Aboriginal and white desperados patrols the area. The Investigators are expected to encounter a miners' camp destroyed by a Mythos creature, where they learn of the cult. They may be ambushed by cultists before reaching the city. Here, a mystical band of Aborigines may help them enter the city. Inside, they must brave flying polyps and cultists to find the heart of the complex, where the priest has enslaved a Yithian to help build a doomsday device.


Player Handouts:

  1. Rainbow Snake Saves the People
  2. Arthur MacWhirr’s diary
  3. Binjudu’s tale of the clan

Locations: Darwin, Sydney, Port Hedland, Cuncudgerie, the desert, City of the Great Race

Creatures: Great Race of Yith, Sand Bat cultists, wild animals, Flying Polyps, Mimis, Haunter of the Dark/Sand Bat aspect of Nyarlathotep

Tomes and Artifacts: Wondrous Intelligences, lightning gun


Contains notes on:

  • Cult of the Sand Bat
  • Power Drain (spell)
  • Australia in 1925
  • Desert Encounters (random encounters, hazards and travellers)
  • Image of mimi
  • Image of Investigators approaching a Great Race library
  • Dominate (spells)
  • Mindblast (spell)
  • Send Dreams (spell)
  • Time Trap (spell)

Keeper Comments

The scenario has a tenuous link to Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, as an NPC from that adventure has borrowed a Mythos tome from the library and never returned it. This could perhaps be fleshed out into a more usable connection.

This scenario involves a number of confrontations with cultists, often with firearms and lightning guns. The Investigators may also end up facing flying polyps, which will be fatal unless they have captured lightning guns, and potentially temple guardian beasts or even Nyarlathotep himself.

There’s a very punishing section involving the mimis. Investigators can end up fighting a flying polyp, getting turned into mimis themselves (there’s no obvious way to detect this danger and none to reverse it), or having their faces eaten off. Naturally, the mimis are invulnerable. There’s a fair chance this encounter will end the adventure unless the Keeper is generous, and there is little chance of replacing lost characters by this point. It has no connection to the rest of the adventure.

It’s not explicitly stated, but Johnny Bigbush has no part in the adventure. He’s just a name to attach to a story, and a hook to get Masks-playing Investigators to the Randolph Shipping Co. Presumably he did go home, or else get bumped off.

What happens to Grogan in the end is never established. It’s particularly worth asking what happens to him when Power Boy disappears.

There’s no resolution offered if Investigators don’t follow the expected path and allow Huston to blow the temple apart. With access to a Great Race library and a friendly Yithian, this could transform a Masks campaign.

A wise band of Investigators, on discovering the camp filled with slaughtered miners, might suggest turning back to report it to the authorities, which would be normal practice. The expedition leader would almost certainly do this, rather than continuing the expedition, especially after the first ambush. As a mild-mannered professor who may have brought his daughter along for the dig, it would be strange for him to press on into known dangerous territory where armed bandits are prowling. The authorities would be very willing to send a punitive expedition against supposed bush rangers or rogue natives who wiped out the miners.

Even with his POW of 35, Huston is not in fact capable of casting Time Trap. He doesn’t have Power Drain, so he can’t use used harvested magic points either.