Pandora's Box (scenario)

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Pages: 28

Author(s): Glyn White

Artist(s): Jonathan Wyke, Stephanie McAlea, Victor Manuel Leza Moreno, Jonathan Wyke

Setting: Pulp Cthulhu, Red Hook or Any Major City USA, 1930s

Appears in: Pulp Cthulhu: Two-Fisted Action and Adventure Against the Mythos

Campaign: (none)


A fabled artifact comes to a big city nightclub. At first, it seems like just a publicity stunt but bad luck follows the device and all who chance upon it. The heroes must navigate through a range of interested parties, some less desirable than others, in the search for a missing man whose past has been catching up with him.


Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.


 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

The relic known as Pandora’s Box is an ancient Hyperborean artifact that reached America a few years ago in the little-knowing hands of an Englishman named John Drummond. He has the vague ideas of the box's gruesome history; just enough to laughingly refer to the ancient heirloom as "Pandora's Box." Unaware of the box's role in the death of his beloved wife, Drummond has nonetheless been drinking himself into oblivion. A chance encounter with the nightclub hostess, Pandora Moulin, has brought about this ballyhoo, and the belief that it may be the "real" Pandora's Box of legend. Drummond has agreed to Moulin's wishes for the box to be the centerpiece of her revamped nightclub, Pandora's Palace. Drummond is hoping the publicity can help the box sell at auction when it has finished its exhibition at the club. These plans are halted when, the day after the club's re-launch, the club's ex-gangster operator, Vern Bailey, goes missing along with the box itself. Is this a case of temptation getting the better of a bad man or another incident in a long line of murky events in the history of this artifact?


Player Handouts:

  • Illustration: Pandora's Box
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 4 (runes)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 5 (key to runes)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 6 (Pandora's Box myth)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 7 (summary of standard occult sources)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 8 (Crake Memoirs)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 9 (quote from Liber Ivonis)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 10 (quote from Cultes des Goules)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 11 (quote from Unausprechlichen Kulten)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 1 (Nightclub article)
  • Map: Pandora's Palace (interior)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 2 (Theft/Disappearance article)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 3 (Explosion article)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 12 (Recent Diary Entry)
  • Map: The Seeker's Lodge (exterior and interior)
  • Handout: Pandora's Box 13 (Older Diary Entries)
  • Illustration: "Pandora's Box Opened!"
  • Illustration: NPC Portraits, Key to NPC Portraits


  • Pandora's Palace night club
  • Police Station
  • Conklin's Pawnbrokers
  • Seekers' Lodge
  • Occult Detective's House


Tomes and Artifacts:

Campaigns / Scenarios:

  • (none)



List dedication, trivia, images, anything else of note.

  • Acknowledgments: "The factual book Al Capone and his American Boys: Memoirs of a Mobster’s Wife by Georgette Winkeler (written in 1934, but edited for first publication in 2011 by William J. Helmer), suggested much of the non-Mythos background to this scenario. My thanks to polite but reckless playtesters Simon Barton, Andrew Folkard and Micaela Schoop, and to Mike Mason for both the opportunity and advice."

Keeper Comments

Comments to Keepers about this scenario; Possibly how to run it successfully. Keep general DISCUSSION on the talk page.

According to the scenario's author:

This scenario is very flexible in terms of place and date, the number and type of heroes. It can be set at any time in the 1930s, though 1933 to 1934 would be most appropriate, and can be set in any major city in the USA big enough to support large-scale nightclubs. New York and Chicago are prime candidates, but San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Detroit, or even Atlantic City are all viable alternatives. A key point is that the scenario should ideally take place in a city that the heroes do not know well. The scenario is somewhat a sandbox in format, presenting key personalities, locations, and motivations, along with a series of three crime scenes. The premise is that an artifact, known as Pandora’s Box, has become an attraction at a nightclub and, while that in itself is unlikely to get the heroes involved, a mysterious and sudden disappearance and the subsequent events should. This is a pulp premise but the pulpiness is adjustable: the possibilities of the artifact can be scaled to the capabilities, experience, and play style of your group—from a single monster to multiple monsters, and ultimately to apocalyptic disaster.

Setting: Any time in the 1930s, in any major U.S. city the investigators are unfamiliar with

Sequel Plot Hooks: The scenario suggests a link to "Slow Boat to China", also found in Pulp Cthulhu.