For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.
The Call of Cthulhu: Recently I have been writing some Cthulhu Mythos short stories, at the same time as writing scenarios for the Call of Cthulhu RPG. For those unfamiliar with the term Cthulhu Mythos it was a term coined to describe the horror stories of H P Lovecraft and others. Lovecraft was a horror writer of the early twentieth century, active as a writer from 1917 until his death in 1937. His stories were tales of dark, alien gods who had ruled Earth back before mankind gad evolved, and which one day might rule again. Cthulhu himself was a great, tentacled squid thing, with a massive, humanoid body, but others were so strange and alien in form that they could not be conceived by our minds without us going insane. Insanity features heavily in Lovecraftian fiction, with many protagonists losing it once they finally realise the true nature of reality.
I read a lot of Cthulhu Mythos short stories when I was a teenager, short stories not just by H P Lovecraft but also the mythos tales of Robert E Howard, Brian Lumley, Clark Ashton Smith and others. Some aspects of the Cthulhu Mythos have become almost ubiquitous in horror, with the book the Necronomicon, invented by H P Lovecraft, being used in many books and horror films, such as the Evil Dead movies.
Anyway, I had written a couple of Cthulhu Mythos short stories in the past, ones which I have already self-published. But it was when I decided to run the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game for my friends that I decided to write more Cthulhu mythos fiction – but not just short stories, but also short scenarios for the game. I wanted the sort of scenarios which could easily be played through in a single evening, as we don’t get to roleplay every week. The published scenarios are great. But a lot of them are campaigns, rather than something brief.
I find that by writing Cthulhu horror short stories that I get ideas for the scenarios, and vice versa. One feeds the other. As my writing had been feeling particularly uninspired of late I am happy to find anything which might bring ideas into my mind, and get the joy of writing back into my veins.
Will I finish a collection of Cthulhu Mythos short stories which is long enough to self-publish? Ah, there’s the rub. I don’t know. Perhaps I will run out of steam before it is complete. But maybe not, if the RPG sessions go well. As it is the incomplete collection of tales, so far, is up to twenty-five thousand words. But I would want it to be about three times as long before sticking it on Kindle.
Here follows a Call of Cthulhu scenario idea. It is very short, probably © Chaosium, and intended to be played through in a single evening. It is based on a short story which I published a few years ago. The adventure is based in Arkham in the 1920s, but the time period or the location could easily be changed by the Keeper.
The Wasps In The Walls
In this scenario the adventurers investigate after a person is stung to death; and then the exterminator is killed, as well. Thus the adventurers will know that they are dealing with wasps, and can take actions to protect themselves. But these wasps no longer act like normal wasps. They have developed an occult intelligence, due to having munched on some Cthulhu Mythos tomes.
Read to the players: There has been a somewhat strange event in Arkham, in East Church Street, at the private address of one David Plummer. One of the neighbours, after hearing a scream, investigated, to find Plummer dead on the floor. It appeared that he had been stung to death by wasps. But there was no sign of the creatures. Fearing that there was some wasp infestation in the place the Arkham authorities called in an exterminator. But, following another scream, it was discovered that the exterminator was dead, as well. Again there was not any sign of any wasps. Since then, the house has been boarded up. But it is clear that the danger cannot be over.
David Plummer lived at 193 East Church Street, next to a gift shop. His death was reported in the Arkham advertiser, one of two local Arkham newspapers.
The characters can try researching Plummer, to see if there was anything strange about him.
The neighbours (after a Fast Talk roll or equivalent) will tell the characters that Plummer was a quite, unassuming person. He worked as an actuary. As far as they knew there was nothing odd about him. He did not work in Arkham.
The characters can travel to the insurance company where he worked, if they so desire, but they will not discover anything odd about Plummer. They will be told that that he was a quiet, unassuming person, who simply got on with his job.
The neighbour who found Plummer was his next door neighbour, Wilfred Stannart, from number 191 East Church Street. Stannart will have the additional information that he saw a hammer beside Plummer’s dead body. It looked like he was doing some work, or had just done some work, when he was killed.
The police will not know anything about him (Fast Talk or Law to speak to them). He has never been in trouble with the law.
If the characters research 193 East Church Street they will have more success. Going back in the city records (Library Use) they will discover that before David Plummer the inhabitant of the house was a man by the name of Stanley Kramer.
Asking around (Fast Talk) with Plummer’s neighbours will get the old Mrs Edith Winkler, the owner of the gift shop, to say that Kramer was a very strange individual. He claimed to be an anthropologist. But he never seemed to leave the house. She saw strange people call in on him, though, often late at night. One time one of the people entering his house was wearing black robes with funny symbols on it. Another time she heard chanting, in an unknown language, coming from his rooms.
If the characters make an Occult roll they will have heard the name of Stanley Kramer as somebody who was interested in the occult. But they will not know anything more than that.
If the characters want to get in his house then they will have to remove the boards which have been put up at the door of the abode.
If the characters show no interest in the house then have local people in a position of authority ask for their assistance. Eventually, though, the characters should go inside number 193 East Church Street.
It takes only a STR x 5 roll to get the boards off the front of the house.
Read to the players: Inside the house is dark [due to the boards up at the windows] and quiet. There is no buzzing. There is no sign of any wasps, living or dead.
David Plummer had been putting up a picture when he was killed. A Search roll will uncover the fact that, behind one of the pictures on the wall (a picture of a country scene), the wallpaper is the same colour as the rest of the wall. Had the picture been up for any length of time you would have expected the coloration to be different. (INT x 5 to work it out, if they can’t work it pit for themselves0.
The characters, as they search the place, will be observed. A wasp will keep watch on them. It will not attack them. But it will report back to the others if it looks like the other wasps might be endangered. It will take a very low Spot roll to notice the wasp.
Initially, at least, the player characters will find nothing amiss, as the two dead bodies were removed, before boarding up the house. As long as the wasps are not disturbed they will not bother the characters, but attempt to stay hidden.
Inside one of the walls of the house (the one with the picture) there are the remains of three old books. The pages of the books have been eaten away by the wasps. The wasps have chewed on the pages, and used them to build their nest inside the walls. Only the covers of the books remain. Eating the books has infected the wasps with an unholy intelligence.
The wasps took the nail coming through the walls as an attack on them by Plummer. They decided to defend themselves. the wasps are now intelligent enough to have known that the exterminator was trying to kill them.
The first of the books hidden inside the wall is called Unaussprechlichen Kulten. There is just about enough of the pages inside to confirm the fact that the book had been written in German.
The second book is called Ponape Scripture. The book was written by Captain Abner Ezekiel Hoag.
The last book was The King in Yellow.
None of the details are given on the books as the books are unreadable, having been eaten away by the wasps.
The wasps can make sounds approaching human speech. If the characters Listen to the correct wall (the one with the wasp nest, and the hidden remains of the books) they might hear strange noises, unlike the buzzing of wasps.
Read to the players: Putting your ear to the wall you can hear something. It is not the buzzing which you had expected to hear. It sounds more like Cth… ch’t… ch’t… c’tah or C’tul hu ch’t c’tah.
It might be around now that the characters either retreat, to consider what to do next, or to try to break through the lathe and plaster to get at the wasp nest.
If the characters do try to break through the wall a swarm of wasps will come out into the room. This will take one round. Anybody in the room will have that round in which to retreat, or face the fury of the wasps.
The wasps attack as a single swarm. Do enough damage to the swarm and it will lose its unholy intelligence, and any surviving wasps will simply become wasps again. Normal attacks have very little effect on the swarm, though: hitting the swarm with a hand weapon, or trying to shoot it with a bullet, will not do any damage at all.
If a person is attacked by the swarm they will be reduced to half speed, as they try to fight off the swarm.
A person with a phobia of wasps will automatically panic if attacked by the wasps. Other characters directly attacked (i.e. being stung that round) can roll their POW x 5 not to panic. They may check each round that they are attacked. Once they stop panicking they will be able to run out of there.
The swarm of wasps will not pursue the characters outside of the house. They consider it to be their castle.
Damage bonus: None (would be -1d6)
Weapons: Sting, 80% no damage but delivers venom. 2 points of poison damage (CON roll for half). This warm can attack over and over again.
Armour: None. But normal attacks do not affect the wasps, because of the nature of the swarm. Bullets and melee attacks will go straight through. Shotgun bursts will hit the swarm, but will do minimum damage. Fire, magic spells, and poisonous aerosols will do full damage.
Spells: The wasps have learned spells through ingesting the books in the walls. The only useful spell which they know is Create Barrier of Naach-Tith. But, because it is hard for them to speak, they only have a 30% chance of successfully casting the spell. Thus they will only try to use the spell if the characters retreat, and then try to return to the house.
The characters, at some stage (whether before or after being attacked by the wasps) should go and equip themselves with the sort of weapons necessary for dealing with a swarm. Once the swarm has been dispersed the characters will be able to safely break through the wall of the house, discover the covers of the mythos books, and destroy the wasp nest. That is all that they have to do.
If the characters take their time in coming back (should they take two attempts to get rid of the wasps) they might discover a mystical barrier around the wasp nest, though.
Rewards: if the characters defeat the wasps in the walls they should each get a sanity point. They get nothing else other than the satisfaction of dealing with the wasps.
What happens next is up to the characters. It depends on whether they have encountered any Cthulhu Mythos books before. If they have, then they might think it interesting that the wasp behaviour was changed after eating Cthulhu Mythos books. Perhaps one of the characters might write a monograph on that fact.