This week we have another seed for Call of Cthulhu, although it would be quite easy to have this idea coil its way around a vague prequel for CthulhuTech, or even wander out into the realms of Rapture or Eclipse Phase with a little push or pinch here and there.
The Casting Shadows blog offers Saturday Seeds and campaign starters every Saturday (go figure…). Seeds from the blog also appear on Ancient Scroll.
This tiny, but potent seed concerns an invention which is simultaneously a source of awe and horror. It does not dwell there though. It slips back, and settles its roots deeper into the human heart, as all things we can comprehend inevitably do.
Planting the Seed
This seed is best planted for players with experience in RPGs but not necessarily any experience with games of the sort of abject, soul-rending horror popularly associated with Lovecraft. There is no need for the characters to be associated with one another, but it does not matter if they are. As with many investigations, this one may begin with a relationship, a request for assistance and verification of findings, a hire for some more typical function, or a combination of these things. It will take a certain amount of thought before you plant this seed, as it is the sort which while tiny, may take the players and the game into wild new territories for which, you may not be able to plan. The characters and the Keeper will be flying by the seat of their pants.
J. Travis Liddle, a retired dean of a respectable university and self-styled renaissance man, likes to tinker in his laboratory after dinner most nights. His interests range across a spectrum of disciplines, and he enjoys letting his mind roam free from idea to idea as the mood strikes him. In the back of his mind, he is not unlike the chemist, Griffin, in his favorite work of fiction – exploring things of great wonder with a pinch of safe danger.
It was then with great surprise that while experimenting with vague things of no real relation, Liddle would create a sphere of limitless energy, and learn to harness it.
The characters enter the tale a few months after Liddle learns how to control the boundless energy of his discovery, and not long after the local police have begun their investigations into disappearances around town. Liddle’s involvement with the disappearances, as he is not be the sort to successfully prey on others, is quite easily found out, and many experts of various kinds are consulted about the case, the distribution of Liddle’s property to defray his legal costs, and of course to ascertain what to do with the curious ball of unearthly light in his basement lab. These investigations turn serious indeed when the ball, to all appearances, seems to exhibit a tantrum – lashing out at people with discharges of energy, and growing in size.
Liddle is happy to reveal, to those who can appreciate his genius and understand his achievement, how to deal with the sphere, but first he reveals the key to his hidden and coded notes. Only then will he reveal what he knows.
Of course, people will suspect long before the notes are decoded what happened to the missing people, but the discovery of what the sphere can do may come as a shock.
- The sphere can heal genetic diseases, returning abnormal cells to a pattern beneficial to the host organism. This includes rejuvenation. Evidence of this ability can be seen in Liddle himself.
- The sphere can power devices in the same manner as electricity, but without the enormous requirements of generation. Free energy, forever.
- The sphere, unless controlled, will gradually grow and change its nature from producing energy to siphoning it. Liddle proposes this has happened before, and snickers as he contemplates the moon.
Liddle’s question to the characters when he finally deigns to speak with them is simple. Is the price the sphere asks, so great that its benefits are to be overlooked? Moreover, is not the fear of the devastation it might unleash greater than the foolish moral qualms raised at the thought of what must be done?
What is going on
As deduced, the sphere consumes life. Experimentation if undertaken, may soon reveal that it requires high-order sentient life to quell the negative effects the sphere displays. Eventually, a formula might be worked out which determines that it will take one life per day to control the sphere, and slightly more than 1000, fed at once, to dispel it. If left uncontrolled it will grow more and more violent and there is no predicting how much life it will absorb until it dispels itself.
When this information is confirmed, it will be to the characters first and only. For as long as they choose, that information will be theirs alone.
Is there another way to dispel the sphere? Is sacrifice to gain control of the sphere an unforgivable sin? Is humanity ready to investigate such questions?
Darken others' doors: