Saturday Seed 127 (Leagues of Adventure)
This week’s Saturday Seed is the last of our four Halloween-themed one-shot scenarios which might take-off into longer flights of gaming. This seed, if you are feeling your oats, can in one evening jump between generations, but will not suffer for remaining in one. Intended for Leagues of Adventure and posted here in celebration of Triple Ace Games’ release of their much anticipated Gothic Horror Supplement, this short idea could come to support a generation game between Leagues and Hollow Earth Expedition.
Planting the Seed
This seed will be easiest to plant if begun as a one-shot with new characters, but will not be hard to tailor to fit an established group. If intending to link existing Leagues and/or HEX campaigns, more work might be required, depending on the composition of the player characters. All that is really required is that the characters know each other, but for links to the future you will need to establish chains of communication or family.
People in slowly growing numbers across the nation, perhaps across all nations, have inexplicably begun to discard everything they know and love to begin a purposeful march toward what they refer to as the cradle of the world. The longer they have been under the influence of this strange compulsion, the less capable they are of discourse and the more potent their desire to reach their goal. Recently, the affected have been known to use simple, but unrestrained violence to prevent detainment. Physical detainment is effective, but no course of treatment has yet had an effect on alleviating the compulsion or its related symptoms.
The disease or effect seems to follow family blood-lines, beginning with the elderly and moving down into the youth. Over the course of a few weeks, and entire branch of a family might fall prey to the condition and begin their steady march south. Those in other parts of the world who find themselves blocked from simple physical locomotion to the cradle of the world stand mutely and mournfully at whatever geological barrier contains them. They seem unable to reason through problems and unable to employ tools or vehicles to continue their journeys. Motionless figures line the southern shores of Britain, and the East and West coasts of North America, while countless more flail desperately through the great mountain ranges of the world trying to finish their quest.
Symptoms begin with a loss of appetite, strange dreams characterized by images or concepts of things writhing beneath the surface of the physical world, and the slowly growing and eventually mind-blotting compulsion to make the journey to the cradle of the world. Queries about the nature of this cradle are met in early stages with incredulity but no description. In later stages, speech is sporadic, disconnected, and hard to interpret, but investigators can feel certain that this is a topic on which the affected choose not to speak, other than to say to a few that “Your time will come.” Symptoms slowly continue to manifest as a yellowing and tightening of the skin, the darkening of the tissue around orifices such as blackened lips, and ultimately as the loss of the ability to interact with those around them as the compulsion takes root.
The unaffected, worried their own time will come, witness the death of civilization in slow motion as person after person, day after day, drops whatever it is that they were doing and marches off slowly.
What is going on
Viktor Frankenstein passed away onboard Captain Robert Walton’s ship after relating his desperate tale of obsession, regret, and horror. As far as many know, that was the end of his researches, but such knowledge once unearthed is rarely willing to return to obscurity and darkness. Two threads tie this blasphemous lore to the waking world still, and many curious fingers have touched those threads in wonder. Viktor’s personal effects and the varied records of his tale from Walton, his family, and the crew serve as one thread. The reports of his ravings and theories from his time in the asylum represent the other thread. Since Viktor’s death nearly a century before, many have sought out the truth of what befell the Frankenstein family and pieced together elements of the truth. Among those who have touched on the horror that Viktor unleashed upon himself is a man of steadfast devotion to an idea that humanity’s time on this planet is not what it should be. So fixated on extending his life is he that he has sacrificed his youth, his immense wealth, the lives of his companions, and perhaps his sanity, in pursuit of immortality. In Frankenstein’s tale and the scattered bits of his library, notes, and items that he has assembled throughout his quest he finally succeeded in harnessing the power beyond the power that Viktor used to animate his Creation.
It did not turn out as planned.
What our villain has unleashed is a gradual connection with the unknowable intelligence which is but one of the many sources of life on this once barren rock by accident or otherwise. Down the lines of blood and across the skeins of time, both forward and backward, this being’s influence and reclamation o f force it perceives as being its own, stolen by the mewling creatures racing to spread their pathetic stain across the world it has claimed as its own. The spark of life intended to inflame and extend the life within our questing madman has instead infected and begun to consume the lives of each and every person whose blood is tied in the truer and less linear flows of time to ‘That which is throughout.’ Each second of each day the connection remains unbroken, takes this connection by blood further and further through the streams of life and time to the origin point of that line of men.
Not all humans have sprung, it would seem, from the same source.
What to do with this
Characters investigating this societal apocalypse should never be made to feel like they are immune to the likelihood of succumbing to the supernatural contagion. To save themselves and their once and future loved ones, it should be fairly easy to get motivated for some globetrotting investigation and intervention.
Clues to what has happened can be found in the peculiar properties of the blood of the affected, as well as their physical characteristics. Poring over old tomes, or consulting with the learned minds of the world’s universities will turn up references to Frankenstein’s Creation, among other such attempts, and over time, folk tales, fragments of research, medical reports, journals, diaries, and the like will begin to paint a picture of where this plague spread from.
Contacts and favors can put the characters in touch with those few living experts who might be able to unravel the mysteries linked to Frankenstein, and from there… our race is off!
With adroit cutting from character to character and from generation to generation a GM could easily weave this tale between the Victorian period of Leagues of Adventure and the late 30’s setting of Hollow Earth Expedition, and perhaps even take a curious sidestep into the time of All for One’s diabolical regime if one is willing to make certain allowances for layers of reality. As each generation of characters races for clues, more and more bloodlines fall under the sway of their ancient and unwilling progenitor. The longer this goes on the more apparent it becomes that not all bloodlines are affected. Some family lines from around the world are untouched by the contagion even if one were to try to deliberately induce it.
How can this be? What does it mean?