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Monday, June 30

Chapter 14: Nemo Solus Sapit - Introduction

This scenario, “Nemo Solus Sapit,” is a Cthulhu Now supplement “The Stars Are Right” by John Tynes. Guppy can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

In chapter twelve, quite a bit of damage was inflicted to the campaign’s overall theme of secrecy and the paranormal. When an Indian agent single-handedly rescues a jet from a terrorist attack by strapping a bomb to his chest and parachuting to safety, it’s bound to get some attention. I had originally envisioned the agents resolving the event by landing the plane, but as always my players surprise me.

So I rolled with it. Two things happened as a result of that scenario: 1) Majestic-12 is even more pissed at the agents and decided to punish them, and 2) a major news outlet (GNN) took a personal interest in Guppy. This leads up to a scenario that I’ve been eager to run for years now: committing one of the agents to an insane asylum.

That’s right, Guppy’s going right back to where he started, an asylum. Has he been committed? Disavowed? Is he really nuts? This scenario required a bit of flipping back and forth between the agents investigating the disappearance of Guppy and Guppy trying to survive in the sanitarium.

The original version of the scenario suffered from much the same problem I have with a lot of the modern scenarios for Call of Cthulhu: they’re chock full of really interesting ideas and characters, but no clear way to introduce them. There are two cultists with personality disorders that don’t really come up in play unless the agents happen to stumble upon them at precisely the right moment. The horror of their insanity isn’t amped up; in fact, the horror of Damon Newcomb’s mental illness seems to hinge almost entirely on the fact that the man is willing to eat a cat. And ultimately there’s no big reveal – the conflict between the two bad guys just happens to the agents and they’re expected to escape (or not) rather than there being an actual resolution to the plot.

How did I resolve it? By my usual hack tactics: I ripped off the movie script of the awful Halle Berry movie Gothika. I have this theory that bad horror movies make for great scenarios, and Gothika is no exception. By dividing up the scripted events amongst characters on the inside and the outside of the asylum, the plot of Gothika actually fits better for this scenario and gives the agents on the outside something to do.

There’s something of a metagame philosophy to the original version of this scenario, with the assumption that one of the players is co-opted to be part of the occult conspiracy. As a player, I dislike this tremendously; I’ve had it happen in two different campaigns to my character, and in both the betrayal felt more like the other player being a jerk and less like a major contribution to the narrative. Instead, I’d much rather have the player suffer through being in an insane asylum rather than simply have him gobbled up by the bad guy and used as a foil.

I used audio files from Session 9, one of the scariest horror movies ever. If you’re a fan of horror, YOU MUST GO OUT AND RENT RIGHT NOW. It too, deals with an asylum and the tapes help flesh out poor, pathetic Damon. [MORE]


posted by Michael Tresca at 10:54 AM

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