Death by Misadventure
Author(s): Glyn White
Appears in: Terrors from Beyond
East Anglian art collector Charles Stanhope has died in a shotgun accident at his house, killed by the faulty discharge of his weapon. His friends are called to his funeral and learn that Stanhope had returned in terror to his house shortly before his death.
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Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only
Players should not read any further.
Stanhope has been murdered. His interest in local history and amateur archaeology led him to investigate 19th-century resident Joseph Crascall, and explore Crascall's ruined castle. In fact, the sorcerer Crascall was driven through a dimensional gate by an angry mob, and Stanhope's fumbling broke the seal and allowed his return, accompanied by inhuman beings called l'gy'hxians. They hunted down Stanhope, ransacked his library to learn about this century, and retreated to the castle.
The funeral and will-reading provide an opportunity for Investigators to receive various handouts describing Stanhope's last moments, his archaeological interests, and some historical letters giving background.
A further murder occurs when Crascall goes to retrieve some buried items, now beneath a farmer's land. He has also subverted a local dentist, who turns to self-harm and, if visited by Investigators, is caught in the process of mutilating a patient.
Eventually the Investigators will find the sorcerer Crascall lurking beneath the castle with his alien companions, where a final and extremely violent confrontation may allow them to seal the gate and destroy Crascall.
- Charles Stanhope's last note
- Archaeology at Ravensby
- Extracts from the journal of Charles Stanhope
- Letter 1792
- History of Wisbech Castle
- Letter C19th
- Sites of Rare Historical and Supernatural Interest in East Anglia
- Gruesome murder
- The Clarksons
- Extract from history of the Cistercians
- Extract from the Livre D'Ivon
- Extract from The Mythology & Folk Tales of the Norse People
Locations: Wisbech, Ravensby
Creatures: Inhabitant of L'gy'hx
Tomes and Artifacts: black stone, Horvald's Torc, l'gy'hxian weapons
- Map of south-east England
- Map of Wisbech town centre
- Map of Wisbech museum
- Map of Ravensby
- Timeline of events
- Map of Ravensby Abbey
- The Black Stone (artefact)
- Summon Black Dog (spell)
- Map of Wisbech castle
- Map of underground Wisbech
- L'gy'hxian weapons
- New Mythos race: the Inhabitant of L'gy'hx
The scenario suffers from a jumbled layout that makes it difficult to follow. Handouts are not numbered in the order they appear in the scenario, and handouts, notes and maps are placed eratically throughout the scenario.
The connections (geographical and historical) between several important locations in the scenario are as clear as they might be, despite the maps - partly because the maps aren't necessarily near the locations depicted. The Norman castle no longer exists, which means the dungeons where Crascall lurks are accessed from the grounds of a dentists' surgery in Wisbech whose building is nevertheless referred to as "The castle". Access is also possible via the sewers.
There are a couple of potent and dangerous NPCs who are nevertheless entirely irrelevant to the scenario. The sorcerer-lawyer Bowman seems a peculiar choice; given his stated motivation in the scenario, it seems he'd be better off investigating himself with the assistance of his murderous henchman. On the other hand, using him as a PC (suggested if there are more than 4 players) requires careful roleplaying, creates an obvious conflict of interests, and could have unforseen effects. For example, his access to Dominate potentially allows him to overcome NPC obstacles, and also allows him to trivially turn the l'gy'hxians against Crascall. In general, having four players running relatively ordinary people, while one runs a spell-wielding sorcerer with a psychopathic henchman, seems likely to lead to odd dynamics.
The other is that henchman, the chauffeur Brassic. Having an NPC who may randomly decide to murder one of the Investigators, with no connection to the scenario in play and no particular indication that he cannot be trusted, seems an unwelcome wildcard. If it doesn't occur, as is likely, then the feature contributes nothing to the scenario. If he does attempt murder, whether successful or not, it seems likely to completely derail the scenario, because players can naturally assume that attempted murders are related to the plot. If an Investigator is randomly murdered by a passing chauffeur, this is rather like dying by falling down a flight of rickety stairs - unsatisfactory. It's also odd that he'll only attack women, as this doesn't reflect his backstory.
In fact, the party can investigate such a murder, discover Brassic's guilt, and then follow the chain up to his suspicious magic-using boss; at this point Investigators and players have every reason to believe the pair are responsible for Stanhope's death as well, and the existence of the intended plot may well prove a surprise.
The murderous dentist may prove an unwanted distraction, but can easily be dispensed with. A dentist who takes to mutilating patients is going to attract a lot of attention, and may even be blamed for the two previous murders. Also, assuming the group intervene (and aren't too badly mutilated in the process), their next move really should be to fetch the police, rather than go and explore the sewers. Rather than distract the group, create a public sensation, and potentially delay the game with with questioning by police, he could display any number of other debilitating insanities to reflect his forced contact with the aliens.
The final confrontation appears to be necessarily violent, and Crascall is a powerful sorcerer backed by two dangerous aliens. It's unfortunate that none of the usual PCs have any combat ability whatsoever, nor any weapons. In contrast, using the two "additional" PCs offers a competent shotgun user and a sorcerer who can force the l'gy'hxians to kill Crascall. It's not clear how the Investigators might be expected to survive the encounter, let alone win it and slay or banish Crascall. Escape is explicitly made very difficult, blocking most escape routes with substantial obstacles. Should they survive, they will be tracked down by Crascall, who can cast the Summon Black Dog spell, which is likely to slaughter the entire party unless they are extremely lucky.
The Black Stone is an extremely potent artefact thrown in with no obvious purpose. Like Brassic, it is likely not to come up, but has a small chance of immediately annihilating an Investigator with a vision of Azathoth. Such a powerful item seems deserving of a more central place in a scenario.
It is not clear how Investigators are actually supposed to conclude the adventure. Crascall is only the immediate threat, and is difficult to deal with. The scenario mentions sealing the gate, but this requires Investigators to visit the museum, closely examine the Egyptian stones, notice a sigil that has been deliberately placed so nobody will see it, and then pass a Cthulhu Mythos roll to identify it as an Elder Sign. Only one of the intended Investigators has any Mythos, and that 5%. They will need to overcome Crascall and the aliens before the seal can be placed.
Given the difficulty of succeeding, it would be useful to know what is expected to happen if Crascall is victorious. He is busy destroying the seal in the dungeon, but the gate to L'gy'hxia is already open. Crascall is apparently seeking a new body to inhabit, but the purposes of the l'gy'hxian's are not explained, though we are told they are only roughly compatible with Crascall's.