Edge of Darkness
Author(s): Keith Herber
Appears in: Call of Cthulhu (RPG) CoC: 5th Edition, CoC: 5.5 Edition, CoC: 5.6 Edition, CoC: 6th Edition
A respected acquaintance of the investigators calls to them for help from his deathbed, giving them a box containing clues to his dark secret: an botched unfinished occult ritual performed in a remote farmhouse near Arkham 40 years before, held in check by wards that last only as long as the participants in the original ritual are alive.
- (review needed!)
- Also, see the "Keepers Notes" section below for links to some experiences with running and modifying the scenario, some of which include review/editorial commentary on it.
Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only
Players should not read any further.
Describe the adventure in detail; no bias allowed.
Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)
A respected acquaintance of the investigators calls to them for help from his deathbed, giving them a box containing clues to his dark secret: an botched unfinished occult ritual performed in a remote farmhouse near Arkham 40 years before, held in check by wards that last only as long as the participants in the original ritual are alive. The ritual has summoned a nearly invisible monster from another dimension, which has been hiding in the attic of the house for 40 years, sneaking out at night to kill from time to time as the wards holding it prisoner begin to fail and the house to crumble. The investigators should find everything they need to resolve the ritual in the living room of the house - powder of Ibn Ghazi to render the monster visible, and instructions for performing the ritual in reverse, uninterrupted in the living room of the house where the original ritual was performed. Unfortunately, zombies reanimated by the monster await outside to interrupt the investigators when they begin the ritual....
- Player Aid #1 - Journal Entry, March 1882
- Illustration: "Reading the Journal" - apparently depicts Marion Allen reading and chanting the spell as described in Player Aid #1
- Reading the Journal: a bulleted list of talking points from the Journal Entries (not intended as a hand-out, but could be useful)
- Player Aid #2 - Newspaper Article, August 1883
- Player Aid #3 - Final Journal Entry
- Player Aid #4 - Translation of the (Egyptian) Hieroglyphs
- Ross's Corners, a hamlet a few miles west of Arkham
- Farm House
- "Red Jake", an innocent hobo
- "The Lurker", AKA "The Beast of Ross's Corners"; an invisible monster released from an Egyptian artifact in the 1880s during a careless occult experiment
Tomes and Artifacts:
- Journal of the Dark Brotherhood
- De Vermis Mysteriis
- Dust of Ibn-Ghazi
- the farmhouse has symbols of warding carved over the doors and windows
- small, gold, sarcophagus-shaped box inscribed with hieroglyphs and Muic Runes
- an amber amulet trapping a "helpful spirit guide" is described, but was destroyed in the botched ritual, the "helpful" spirit (actually "The Lurker") escaped when the ritual fell apart
Campaigns / Scenarios:
- (none, but can serve as an introductory scenario; a small attempt was made to link this to "The Haunting" through cultist Marion Allen, associated with the Chapel of Contemplation cult)
- Dark Brotherhood of the Edge of Darkness
- Chapel of Contemplation (mentioned briefly in "loose ends" as an optional link to "The Haunting")
List dedication, trivia, images, anything else of note.
Comments to Keepers about this scenario; Possibly how to run it successfully. Keep general DISCUSSION on the talk page.
- (YSDC Forums) - Advice for use as a beginning scenario:
- The scenario can work just fine with three or even two players.
- Go around the table, and have players explain how they know their benefactor, and why he was an important person in their lives.
- Have the benefactor stress that the problem should be dealt with now (the scenario loses a bit of momentum with extensive research).
- Have one or more players read the diary entries out loud to the group.
- Drop the De Vermis Mysteriis reference, and any time spent at Miskatonic University - these are unnecessary "red herrings".
- Instead of the zombies calling for help, have them pound on windows or doors.
- Expect and encourage a period of "track covering" after completing the scenario, it can be fun.
- Take advantage of handouts; prepare a handout with a chant on it for the players to act out while zombies beat on doors, etc. - the results are quite atmospheric.
- (YSDC Forums) - Tips for running the scenario:
- The benefactor's son is mentioned briefly in the scenario text as someone who might turn up later to make trouble; it would certainly be a Bad Thing for the investigators if he turns up in the middle of the ritual... (be sure to give this character enough on-screen time beforehand that the investigators are already familiar with him and know what a pest he can be!)
- (YSDC Forums) and (YSDC Forums) - "Spicing Up" and "Spiffing Up" this scenario - if you really want to encourage investigation in this investigation-lite scenario:
- This is an investigation-lite scenario; that can be OK, you can emphasize the atmosphere and mysterious unknown elements instead. Alternatively, you can always combine atmosphere and investigation...
- You might rewrite the diary so that key information is more obscure and written "between the lines" (it's implied, or perhaps NPCs didn't know the information but had enough clues for the investigators to put together to reach the logical conclusions).
- You might omit from the diary entries the information on how to reverse the ritual/spell, so that they can research it or figure it out themselves.
- You might omit the benefactor and his relationship with the investigators, such that they are sent by someone else to investigate mysterious disappearances in the area, follow the clues to the house, and then must piece together what happened (a sort of cabin-in-the-woods scenario).
- The ritual might require ingredients and components that must be retrieved from town.
- (YSDC Forums) and then (YSDC Blogs) - Some notes on combining this with "The Haunting" in a Chicago setting
- (YSDC Forums) - A detailed session log by a new keeper running this scenario.
Special Notes: The scenario recommends four players, but three or five should work fine; two are possible, though a death, serious injury, or bout of insanity could threaten the ritual and easily result in a total party kill, and six or more players are also possible, though larger numbers of players increase the chances of a bout of insanity occurring and disrupting the ritual
Sequel Plot Hooks:
- the Muic inscription inside the Sarcophagus
- the references to De Vermis Mysteriis
- the Dark Brotherhood of the Edge of Darkness and their activities
- Merriweather's will (perhaps Merriweather leaves the investigators the Dark Brotherhood's occult library along with evidence of other botched experiments)
- Marion Allen seems to have been associated with the Chapel of Contemplation