Original SA post
Merry Christmas, goons. I brought you a gift.
The greatest gift of all.
The gift of...
Dark Passions: Oh, THIS Is Fucking Going Places
Dark Passions is a nice little 68-page work on minor cults. A couple of them were mentioned in
before I realised
I'd been doing the books out of order
. Apparently, this book was published before the one with all the missing rules the core book promised. Who knew!
Chapter One: Welcome
is only a page long, and like the last two, there are sidebars!
Let’s Be Real
Okay folks – cults are real. Not the ones we’ve made up for our fictional setting here, but the ones out in many cities across the world and throughout history. The ones that whip people into a homicidal frenzy and send themout to kill people. The ones that commit mass suicides. The ones that convince people that naturally occurring celestial phenomena are alien vessels that have come to take them away. And those are only the ones you read about. There’s always some freak on a bad trip or some dude looking for a way to get laid creating some sort of movement to which people give themselves over. Cults might be fun as escapist entertainment, but they’re really nothing to smile about.
Why does it feel the need to warn us about this? Hey, you know what else isn't cool but didn't get a sidebar?
If You Downloaded This Book
So if you’re one of the people who has downloaded this book illegally off the internet, let’s talk. We want to stay in business. We don’t get to stay in business if you don’t buy our products but you use them anyway. In more personal terms, if you like CthulhuTech, please go out and buy the books, because if you don’t we go out of business or we kill the line because sales suck and boom – no more CthulhuTech. You lose, we lose, everybody loses. Everybody loves something for nothing, but this sort of thing comes with a price whether it’s money or not.
Did I already mention this is at the start of every CTech book? Yes. Is it STILL hilarious that CTech is outdone by
a game its developers give away for free?
On the bright side, that fucking "we're going to use the male pronoun because girls aren't
gamers!" sidebar hasn't come back yet.
There's also a quick taste of the cults we're going to cover later. I am lazy as fuck, so I am going to paste it. Think about which of these sound cool! Cherish the thought fast, before I post about them.
The Blood Brigade
– a nihilistic para-military organization founded by insane mortal followers of the Disciples of the Rapine Storm. They perpetrate hatecrimes and terrorist actions within the NEG.
The Church of All
– a new-age cult known by many names. They combine drugs and magic to bond people to the Source of All Things and ultimately to the Esoteric Order of Dagon.
– servants of Nyarlathotep who’ve rejected the Chrysalis Corporation. They act as the elite special forces for the Children of Chaos.
The Congregation of the Earth Mother
– an ancient fertility cult nearly destroyed by the Federal Security Bureau, worshipping the darkest things in nature.
The Dionysus Club
– a secret society that caters to the jaded tastes of the rich and elite. It slowly draws them further down a spiral of degradation and insanity under the careful eye of the Disciples of Death’s Shadow.
– an “organization” of the homeless, unwanted, and insane. They perpetuate homespun evil that eats away at a community’s feelings of safety and security.
The Scions of Forever
– an ancient organization of mystics gifted with the ability to see through time. The Scions manipulate the world for reasons known only to them.
– an organization dedicated to personal psychic development on the surface. Underneath, they recruit gifted lucid dreamers into a group that explores dreams and guards them against the interference of unscrupulous magicians.
Oh, and one other thing: I have the Mongoose edition of this, which was printed in black and white for whatever reason. (I still don't know what happened there.) If I can lay my hands on a colour version I will (the art is one of CTech's few redeeming features), but otherwise we're going on a greyscale adventure!
Next time: How cults work.
Original SA post
Dark Passions: Blood Brigade
Chapter Two: Wayward Sons
is only three pages long and provides a summary of what cults are about. I'm going to condense it to bullet points.
• Some cults are
, watered-down versions of the major Cults which put on a friendlier face to draw more recruits. The Blood Brigade, Church of All and Dionysus Club are recruitment cults.
• Each cult attracts recruits differently. Some disguise as new-age faiths, some are private clubs and secret societies, etc. Most recruit the disillusioned and troubled, starting off small and slowly converting them into fanatics.
• The FSB's Sectarian Crimes Division handles most of the NEG's anti-cult business. The Deprogramming Unit helps, the OIS busts magical cults and the Ministry of Information tries to track them. There are hotlines for citizens to report suspicious activity, with fines and penalties for calling without good reason to stop nosy elderly people trying to report those damn kids.
• Most cults operate in cells and their leaders don't share real names or contact information, to help avoid detection. Initiates can only inform on each other, etc. Cults are impossible to take out entirely, because this is CthulhuTech and we can't have nice things.
• Some cults are
, which sort of do their own thing and have their own unusual effects on the world. The Empty, Sleepers, Scions of Forever, Congregation of the Earth Mother and the Circle are independent cults.
• What most minor cults don't know is the Death Shadows are helping them. (Hastur is down with anything that hurts humanity!) The Church of All and Congregation sometimes get anonymous tips and black market deliveries, they run the Dionysus Club, the Blood Brigade get geared up as fellow buddies of Hastur, law enforcement is kept off the Empty's back, and they avoid the Circle because Nyarlathotep Friendship Club needs no assistance. The Scions of Forever and the Sleepers are neutral/"good" cults, the Shadows would probably find a way to stop them if they could.
• Cults are everywhere. There's a list of what
parts of Everywhere the cults can be found, but it'll probably come up later.
• Most citizens either believe the cults are far-away threats you watch on the news (Rapine Storm, Esoteric Order), or a myth (Death's Shadow), or don't exist (Children of Chaos). The Blood Brigade and Empty are more personal, though.
After some fluff text about some cultist being drawn into the Church of All and having drugged-up sex with a Deep One, we get to
Chapter Three: Those Who Stray
! It's cult time!
Blind desperation sparks bloody violence. Terror snarls with teeth of hate. Slaughter becomes an act of holy worship. And a young girl’s prayers are answered by whispers of suicide.
"O Father, we cannot alone cleanse the sin of our people. But our bodies are the living chalice of Your Precious Blood. The purer we are, the better we will ascend in your grace upon the day of our holy sacrifice."
The Blood Brigade believe the Aeon War is a punishment from God. The Nazzadi are unholy - see how demonic those sexy space drow look! - and the NEG is the Great Betrayer. Las Vegas was wiped out by God's wrath just like Sodom and Gomorra. If humanity is to redeem itself in the eyes of God, it must overthrow the government and destroy the Nazzadi!
Now see, this is an interesting idea. People turning to God out of desperation in the face of Cthulhu could work as villains, and the undercurrent of racism works since it's supposed to be a bad thing. Let's read on!
The Blood Brigade's ideology appeals to the disillusioned and depressed, and they recruit subtly - disaster relief efforts, urban shelters for the homeless, leaflets for support groups. Then they start mentioning the Father, and those with promise volunteer at the Ministry of Divine Truth, a non-profit and slightly racist humanitarian organisation. Those who show promise - which apparently means being a horrible racist and assaulting Nazzadi - are recruited into the Blood Brigade.
The Brigade is led by David Muldine, a millionaire televangelist from New Zealand. He happened to be in South-East Asia when the Rapine Storm swept through, and the experience drove him mad. One day, while huddling in a burned building, God began to speak to him in his dreams. God revealed His divine purpose, charging David to help purge the world of the unclean, and he set up the Blood Brigade to achieve these goals.
In case you can't tell, "God" is Hastur.
So, how does the Blood Brigade operate? Well basically, they form terrorist cells.
The Blood Brigade is the most dangerous kind of enemy. They are fanatically religious zealots who would happily sacrifice their own lives in keeping with the Father’s word. In fact, the sole purpose of many Brigade cells is to do just that, in such a spectacular fashion that martyrdom would be assured – death is life to them. The last image that most envision before their final sacrifice is the picture of the Father smiling lovingly upon them. Of course, most of the Brigade have no idea that the smiling old man they see is not the true face of the Father.
Yes. It even comes with a picture of a dude preparing to suicide bomb the shit out of a crowd of Nazzadi, and the sidebar of rumours/plot hooks includes the suggestion that the Blood Brigade goes after "Nazzadi lovers".
All in all, I am ambivalent about this. It's an interesting villain with some decent writing, but the whole suicide-bombing right-wing-extremist caricature shtick makes me wary as hell. It's not as overt as some of the bigotry we'll find in later books, but still. Not a strong start for the cults! On the other hand, the mini-twist at the end is alright, and I think I'll end on it:
No, David Muldine could never show his face in public. Most cannot yet understand that the violent scarring, peeling, and piercing of his flesh were acts commanded by God. But the day will soon come when all will understand his holy name.
Next time: The Church of All and the Circle.
Yo Spirit Dawg, I Heard You Liked Cults
Original SA post
Dark Passions: Yo Spirit Dawg, I Heard You Liked Cults
A couple of these pics are thumbnail links to full versions I hacked together because even timg thumbnails were annoyingly page-breaking. Enjoy!
CHURCH OF ALL
The Church of All sits quietly and unobtrusively within the cities of the New Earth Government. If one tried to look for it, he wouldn’t find it. The government doesn’t even think it’s there and no one on the inside is blowing the whistle. On the other hand, if you hung out in new-age bookstores or attended psychic development workshops as a hobby, you might be invited to a lecture or a meditation group. They’ll shut you out if they know you have dishonest intentions – they always know. But if you like what you experience, you’ll be invited to join the Church of All.
The Church of All is a new age group who believe all life in the universe is connected and part of something greater. They like crystal harmonics, meditation, herbalism, holistic health, psychic and magical development, and fucking Deep Ones.
Most initiates don't know about that last part, they just think it's an underground new-age cult that's being suppressed by THE MAN. Eventually, if they like what they see, someone introduces them to Harmony - a magical drug that "attunes a person to the harmonic frequencies of the planet" (it makes you trip balls). After a while these drug trips start to focus on the ocean, the source of all life, and the initiate is introduced to the Third Circle. Third Circle initiates see "what man was meant to be" (Deep Ones) and their Harmony trips include the glorious cities of the angelic Deep Ones; when
seems totally normal they are introduced to the Second Circle, which mostly consists of Esoteric Order of Dagon cultists ready to tell them all about how performing rituals with the Deep Ones and mating with them is super awesome. Harmony trips start to get seriously weird, with visions of rising cities and sleeping gods. Finally, it's time for the First Circle! They meet the High Priests of the Church of All, who happen to be Hybrids, and discover the Deep Ones are truly higher beings and their god is amazing! Harmony trips become visions of R'lyeh, they begin to hear the slumbering god in their dreams, and bam, the new Cthulhu worshipper is accepted into the Esoteric Order of Dagon.
This is actually a decent concept - the EoD have to get recruits from somewhere, and I think it's an interesting enough way for the Esoteric Order to recruit the Cthulhu-worshippers they need. It reminds me of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and I like that.
And then it describes the Esoteric Order as "a cult run by fishmen with rape camps". Can we go
one fucking book
By the way, the opening fluff text of this chapter was a drugged-up Church of All initiate describing his experiences in the cult up to the day he gets to fuck a Deep One.
He's pretty chuffed about it!
The Circle. The name brings fear to those who know it. A group of the most dangerous dark sorcerers and para-psychics in the world, the Circle serves none other than the patron of magicians – Nyarlathotep. They believe their power and devotion have earned them a special place in their master’s plans.
The Circle are sort of the Children of Chaos' elite force, a secret club of powerful mages and para-psychics who worship Nyarlathotep. They dislike the corporatisation of the rest of the cult, though, and declared themselves independent. They even have their own avatar of Nyarlathotep - the Blind Lady, who teaches them magic and preaches that they are all just extensions of Nyarlathotep. They're big players in the arcane underground, but mostly they take out powerful enemies of Nyarlathotep for the Children of Chaos - assassinating executives, brainwashing politicians, hunting Tagers, etc. They also have their own agenda - the Blind Lady has tasked them to hoard magic, so they steal rare tomes, delete real rituals and manuscripts and distribute bad ones, etc.
It's a very secret club - the only way into the cult is to become a powerful mage and get an invite - and then you need to prove your loyalty by running through their initiation rites and sacrificing a loved one. Like most cults in this book, they are annoyingly hard to get. All of them have erased their existence from the system and use fake identities, loads of money and a magic to keep the government from finding them, and when they're not covering up the Chrysalis Corporation's doings they screw with the FSB and OIS, sending them red herrings and taking out their agents. The OIS have yet to catch the Circle and lose more agents to them than anything else; by now, most of the OIS has a hate-boner for them so hard some of them think the Circle is their white whale. So far the Circle is so far ahead of them that they have probably either found a way to magically predict their plans or they have high-level infiltrators.
They get the usual sidebar of rumours - decent ones, even! -
a big closing paragraph with more detailed ones. (As usual for RPG fluff, the "rumours" that get a lot of detail are probably true). Apparently the Circle is planning to out the Tagers to the OIS and pin the blame for Chrysalis Corporation activities on them, and might be "close to solving an arcane riddle of immense proportions", which
some people suspect
could be a new variant or even a better version of the Rite of Transfiguration.
The Rite has never been able to be controlled, but some believethe Circle has found something beyond even that. If that were the case, the servants of Nyarlathotep would command incredible power. But most who hear these rumors dismiss them as folly, mostly because the alternative would be unthinkable.
All told, I like these guys. They're just a splinter group of the Children of Chaos and their art made me think of
, but they're interesting, have some thought put into them and I would actually enjoy using these dudes as villains. The last two cults worried me a bit bu
Farouk Hassan from the Hot Merchandise story in the CthulhuTech Core Book is a member of the Circle. All that business about independent operation was just another level of cover. If you use him in your game, you now have a new cult to play with.
STOP BRINGING UP THE RAPE!
CONGREGATION OF THE EARTH MOTHER
The Congregation of the Earth Mother has existed in many incarnations throughout the millennia. Once they wielded great power, spread throughout the tribes of man. Today they are but a shadow of their former selves, scattered and divided thanks to the cult hunters within the Federal Security Bureau.
The Congregation of the Courage Wolf has always been a fertility cult. Today, its cultists are neo-pagan environmentalists which practice respect for nature and the natural order. They like herbalism and rituals that help people - their sorcerers go unregistered to protect the regulation of what they think is everyone's birthright).
Their gatherings are healing and cleansing rituals, rituals to give thanks for the bounty of harvest, and orgies to celebrate the mystery of life. On the surface, it isn’t too hard for the Congregation to attract environmentalists who don’t mind the idea of wanton sex.
Like the Church of All, that's just the light stuff. Also like the Church of All, the heavier stuff includes drugs. As initiates get deeper into the cult they start taking hallucinogens and narcotics, engaging in more ritualistic sex and leaving their bastard children in cult communes, and "attitudes regarding nature deepen and become more emotional, to the point where an initiate might come to regard a tree much like a lover." When they're not fucking trees I guess, they try to get in touch with their "spirit animal", get ritual tattoos, file their teeth and other messed-up things. They also try to operate more on instinct and natural urges than rational thought and common sense, which sadly made them unable to coordinate a defense when the FSB came for them.
Why would they? Well, that would be their nature goddess. The Black Mother is the perfect goddess of nature, the Dark Goat of the Woods, and everyone who knows their Lovecraft probably worked out it was Shub-fucking-Niggurath faster than it took me to see Courage Wolf in their artwork. Shub-Niggurath will return to this world and help all things live in perfect natural harmony, and her cult believes she is as benevolent as nature gets.
Well, fuck that! The FSB has almost wiped them out, and they are barely hanging on in remote areas like the forests of the Pacific Northwest, the South American rainforests and Africa's jungles. They have some hope left, though - the Chrysalis Corporation has stepped in to lend them some brains, offering an alliance as allies who want to see the gods return as well and presenting the Dhohanoids (who
wear the forms of the gods) as proof of their intentions. Really they could give negative fucks about the cult, but they want to bring back Shub-Niggurath to wreck everyone's shit.
With their new pals the Congregation is staging a comeback, using their naturalist Wiccan front to recruit arcology folk who want to get in touch with nature and keep off the FSB's radar. It helps that with the curb-stomping their cult received, nobody left knows the true identity of the Black Mother...
or do they??
As usual for Ctech groups, the Congregation have a rumours sidebar. Unlike most, though, I know most of these are true because I have read
Rumors about the Congregation of the Earth Mother
• Something big is going down in the Pacific Northwest. The Congregation has solidified power and exist in greater numbers there than anyplace else in the world.
• The most initiated know full well about the true nature of the Black Mother. It just suits them to play games with the Chrysalis Corporation for now. They believe the arrogant cult of Nyarlathotep will get its due when Shub-Niggurath returns.
• The monstrous children of the Dark Goat are not gone. Powerful sorcerers within the Congregation found ways to conceal them or give them mortal forms.
• They have magic that allows them to “channel” their spirit animal and bestow on “mediums” supernatural abilities.
Overall, I'd give these guys a tentative thumbs-up. I like that it's not just another sect of an existing cult. I'm kind of tired of CthulhuTech telling me about sex, but overall the Congregation doesn't get terribly offensive.
Next time: the Dionysus Club and the Empty. We've got a rape and violence quota to fill!
So I Put a Cult in Your Cult
Original SA post
Dark Passions: So I Put A Cult In Your Cult
Oh for fuck's sake.
Hidden deep within the halls of wealth and privilege is a secret society rooted in the ecstatics of old. Catering to the jaded pleasures of the rich and famous, the Dionysus Club takes its name from the Greek god of wine. Ancient worshippers participated in orgiastic and ecstatic rituals, sometimes losing themselves to sensation and their own base desires. The Dionysus Club of the modern day is no different, but part of a much darker purpose.
So the Dionysus Club is a secret club for the rich and powerful where they can meet up and enjoy sex, drugs and rock n' roll, as well as conspire with their fellow members for more wealth and power. It's very secret - the only way to get in is to be invited - but it's worth it! In exchange, all you have to do is never talk about the club ever, and be loyal to your fellow club members
on pain of death.
Oh yeah, and they test that. At first you'll just be asked to do someone in the club a favour that puts you at a disadvantage, or risks/harms people you care about, or if you're lucky just something a little morally wrong. You'll die if you don't, but if you do, you'll advance in the club and get a reward! What kind?
This reward is always something that pushes a current vice a little further along. If he likes “barely legal” girls, his reward is only fifteen years old. If he likes snorting coke, his reward is to smoke it. Of course, initiates do not have the option to refuse their rewards either.
By the way, I am trying to use gender-neutral pronouns here. CthulhuTech continues to insist on, well, not.
So anyway, more loyalty tests come later, and naturally they're riskier with "greater" rewards. Eventually...
At some point, the secret masters that run the Club discover an initiate’s secret and sickest hidden fantasies and desires. Some have rape fantasies. Some are closet necrophiliacs or pedophiles. Some have sadistic fantasies of torture and humiliation, while some have a secret passion for slaughter. Each time an initiate’s loyalty is tested, he is drawn closer and closer to his deepest, most disturbing desires. When he finally goes beyond the pale, he occupies the highest circle of the Dionysus Club. He is a sadist, a rapist, a murderer, or worse, and completely morally bankrupt. Only his loathsome urges remain, coupled with blind ambition and absolute dedication to the cult.
Oh yeah, and welcome to the Disciples of Death's Shadow! The Club's real purpose is to get the rich and powerful into the cult of Hastur so they can help destroy society from within. Splendid!
But the cult isn’t all business.
When the time comes, the Club goes all out with outrageous decorations, outrageous themes, and outrageous vice. These regular parties host a great many “standard” debaucheries, with plenty of drugs and sex. The more jaded Dionysians regard these as trips back to their roots, while the less initiated revel in the decadence of it all. Some parties have been known to go on and on – the longest lasted thirty-seven days. There are always new chemicals or experiences to be had and these parties hook the unsure quickly.
Though the Dionysus Club has a lot of influence with the rich and powerful, but its power depends on who's in the cult and who's actually progressed far enough to be of use to the Death's Shadow. So what kind of people are in the cult these days?
These days, the Club is prevalent among business executives, politicians, and media icons. There’s a chance that the CEO of the company you just invested in destroyed her husband’s career to advance a “brother.” Your local police chief may actively be promoting the increasingly violent drug trade. The singer you idolize may have raped a young boy last night.
So where can you find these child rapists? In every major arcology in the NEG, that's where! Apparently the greatest clubs are Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro and the NEG's capital, Chicago. Their actual basements are in out-of-the-way places they can abandon at a moment's notice, kept clean of evidence and mystically protected. The Club's secrecy policies and rich clientele also make them hard to find - the government only discovered them by accident and what busts there have been were luck.
Rumors about the Dionysus Club
• There are internet circles of regular people who are trying to find the Clubs. They believe that if they find the Club’s location and learn the secret signs that they will be accepted, even if they aren’t rich, famous, or powerful. They really just want to get inside because they’ve heard about the vice and want that kind of life for themselves.
• The Dionysus Club doesn’t actually exist. It’s a bone the Death Shadows throw at the Federal Security Bureau to keep them distracted.
• The last President was a member and had been for years before he was elected. What happened behind closed doors is more than what most people could handle.
Seriously, what the Christ?
The headlines show they are there. The law-abiding wife who suddenly poisons her entire family. The shut-in who decides to stalk and kill a stranger just to see if he can. The honors students who rape the neighborhood girls. The cult of disillusioned youths who decide that summoning demons is the shortest route to personal fulfillment. The corporate executive who shoots everyone on the rush hour train before killing himself. The grandfather that molests every member of his family he can get his hands on. The step-mother who boils her daughter in the tub and doesn’t call emergency services.
They are the knowing look in the homeless’ eyes. They are the shell-shocked stare of those who’ve lost their souls to the Aeon War. They are what exists when all is lost. They are the Empty.
The Aeon War is a dark, grim time, and some people just can't cope. They go insane, or kill themselves, or lose all hope and the yawning void in their soul is filled with a darkness that drives them to commit horrifically inhuman crimes that shatter families and communities forever. Like these guys!
The Empty have lost all hope, and in their search for meaning to their lives they have found...
Their souls call out, and something nightmarish and otherworldly answers. Nobody who knows of the Empty is sure what - some suggest the N'athm and their madness powers, some in the Eldritch Society suggest the Forgotten One Myrovh, but most believe it's Gurathnaka, the Shadow of Night, sending pieces of its alien consciousness into those who are empty inside. (As the one "most believe" with the most detail, this is almost definitely it. Go, RPG plot hooks!)
Also the homeless! Homeless people often give in to the hopelessness of their situation, and the nightmare comes to them. Empty homeless don't commit atrocities, though - they "band together and create a sort of hive mind that watches and waits", helping whatever influences the Empty coordinate whatever the fuck it's doing. Schizophrenics can also become Empty, but do the whole "horrifying crime" thing instead of joining the Homeless Internet.
Most Empty end up arrested, shot by law enforcement or committing suicide. The Empty never feel remorse for their crimes, and will usually confess in detail because they don't give a fuck. Those who don't are too emotionally dead for lie detectors to be useful. Though generally they just rot away in prison (or are killed by other inmates), the OIS sometimes drags them off to testing facilities. Hooray!
Interestingly, N'athm actually do follow the Empty around. All they do is sit and watch until the community is horrified by the Empty's crimes, use their madness powers to make things worse, and fuck off before things get bad, like artists who want to let a work to speak for itself. (That is just creepy.) Since the N'athm are usually solitary, someone who knew about the Empty
theoretically know something is up if he spots a group of them, but only the fringest of fringe scholars know that. Government groups like the FSB have heard the rumours, but don't actually have evidence of the Empty, and how the fuck are you supposed to fight them anyway?
All in all, pretty chilling. How is this a cult, though? Seriously. This is the least organised group ever. It's a bunch of solitary murder-rapists who go crazy and commit crimes, plus a hobo tacnet. I'm probably just splitting hairs, though. I don't really give a fuck.
Naturally, these guys come up in one of the sample adventures later. Can't wait!
Next time: The Scions of Forever and the Sleepers. Fuuuuuuck.
So You Can Scheme While You Scheme
Original SA post
Dark Passions: So You Can Scheme While You Scheme
Two to go!
SCIONS OF FOREVER
An enigmatic assembly of gifted sorcerers and those para-psychics who perceive time, the Scions of Forever revere the Endless One Yog-Sothoth. All secrets are revealed to his eyes. It is said that in him all that has passed and all that will come to pass has been written, and the Scions wish to know it all.
These dudes are more mysterious than gays to a Republican senator - only the highest occult experts have even heard of them, and they are so well-concealed most treat them like Bigfoot. Some seek them out, though, because holy shit: Aside from some of the most powerful magic in the world (which really helps them hide, incidentally), they have
Some of the Scions are millennia old by this point, and they can see the future. Not only do they always know what to do or say to get what they want, they are some of the richest, most influential people in the world.
So what do they do with it? Well, not much. Getting temporal power from Yog-Sothoth makes it hard to relate to mundane humans. Sometimes, though, they decide to step in and guide people - what they call "smoothing the path". Usually, the Scion will show up mysteriously and give cryptic "advice"; they don't exactly force anyone, but they often include information that benefits their target to tempt them into going with it. What they actually want can be as life-changing as dumping your spouse and switching jobs or as minor as not ordering your usual at the coffee house today. Why? Who knows!
Overall, they're pretty neutral - they don't see themselves as actively changing the future, just helping it along. Though the Esoteric Order bet they know where R'lyeh is (the Deep Ones refuse to believe someone has powerful magic they don't, though) and the Circle are
rumoured to be
trying to contact them for a deal, they don't really work with anyone, and knowing the future makes it hard to fuck with them. They're just kind of there.
Oh yeah, and the Hounds! How do they get around that, I hear you ask? The answer:
. The Hounds just don't bother them. They probably have some kind of deal with the creatures, though the specifics aren't touched on. Sorry if you wanted a fulfilling answer! Speaking of rumours, it ends with a mention that they've been spotted around the Pacific Northwest and China an awful lot lately, and those who know of their surreal approaches are a little worried because their actions seem sort of like firefighting.
Overall, I actually like these dudes. There's no mention of the usual CthulhuTech creepy shit, for one thing. Also, they are
Look at that artwork. That Scion is surprising a dude in his bedroom. Why? Fuck you that's why. They also have some fluff text before the next chapter that sold me on them; it's too big for this post, but here's the start:
Enrique didn’t know what to do when the notes started showing up. Every night he’d lock the door, go to bed, and the next morning there one would be – a strange note on his dresser. The notes themselves weren’t anything special. Good old-fashioned hand-written letters on a small blank sheet of white paper. At first he thought someone was playing a joke on him. He confronted everyone he could think of about it until he got a note that said, ‘YOU WON’T FIND ME.’ Then he called the police. They came and looked at his condo and the notes and told him there were no signs of breaking and entering and since nothing was stolen and no one was hurt there wasn’t anything they could do. So he tried to stay up all night to catch whoever was leaving them. He went to the bathroom around 5 am and sure enough, there was a new note. Next he set up his digital video recorder. Another note, nothing on the tape.
By this point, Enrique was sufficiently freaked out and decided to finally try the one thing he hadn’t – doing what the note said. It wasn’t really a big deal, but it was spooky the way the instruction was delivered. All it said for the last week was, ‘TAKE THE 6:20 AM TRAIN.’ Enrique took the 6:50 am train to work every morning. But why would someone want him to catch the same train a half hour earlier? But he did.
That is some seriously dedicated trolling.
I happen to think they're great. So what's the downside? Well, how are you going to use them in a game? You can probably come up with your own methods, but later in the sample adventure chapter we'll get a look at what the writers apparently have in mind: the Scions of Forever are used to railroad the PCs.
(click for full version again, fuck these vertical pieces)
Rumors about the Scions of Forever
• The Scions of Forever are a ghost story. Really. They’re like the Men in Black of the arcane world.
• The Ashcroft Foundation has infrequent but regular visits from the Scions of Forever.
• The Scions have taken an interest in the White Human-Nazzadi mixed children. Mothers are often given strange information to “help” raise their children.
Some people are inexplicably drawn to their dreams. Perhaps their dreams are vivid, almost real. Perhaps what they see in their dreams often comes true. Perhaps these people just see their dreams as a boundless land of fantasy just waiting to be explored. Oftentimes these people find themselves in new-age or occult bookstores searching for ways to learn more about their dreams. They buy and read volumes of books and when given the chance join workshops that help them interpret their dreams and, more importantly, consciously control them.
The best workshops are the ones with Sleepers in them.
The Sleepers are masters of lucid dreaming and the world of dreams, and the only "benevolent" cult in this book. They use their dream magic to be the first and only line of defense for the sleeping world, protecting it from those who want to loot and plunder it. They set up lucid dreaming workshops in the alternative spirituality scene to recruit people with altruistic or protective mindsets, and approach suitable candidates in their dreams.
The cult takes a few cues from mystery cults of the Greek god Hypnos, but the highest initiates believe they've existed far longer. They talk of a mysterious wise man who appeared in the dreams of the first of the Sleepers in some forgotten age and taught them dream magic, entrusting them to keep it safe. Some think it was a mortal sorcerer who transcended the World of Elements, some think he's an avatar of Nyarlathotep (why is Nyarlathotep helping the good guys? He's Nyarlathotep, he don't gotta explain
), and some think he is an avatar of the Forgotten One Morfean. Since the Dreamlands are gone and they can't exactly get in touch, it doesn't matter.
they nuke the Dreamlands?
Anyway, that whole business with Gurathnaka homebrewing the place to death was not kind to them - three-quarters of their cult died in their sleep or went off the deep end. Some of the survivors have started to become a little immoral though - they manipulate the people they're trying to save for their own benefit, calling it a reward for services rendered. If the rest of the cult found out about these "morally flexible" dudes there'd be a schism in the works.
The cult has few other troubles, at least. They mostly hold meetings in their dreams, so it's not like the government can bust them easily. Aside from not registering as magic-users (which, to be fair, would get them in huge trouble), most aren't doing anything illegal. Federal agents who get too close are either distracted with "premonitions" or scared away with nightmares. They don't have many other threats - though they do try to find mortal enemies of the NEG and hit them with barrages of nightmares and manipulation - but they're always on guard.
Oh yeah, and if Gurathnaka wakes up and notices them they are
Rumors about the Sleepers
• There is no such thing as a benevolent cult. Whatever they’ve spun into the dreams of those who claim to have “discovered” them is a great Sleeper PR campaign.
• The Sleepers and the Federal Security Bureau have a secret agreement. The agency leaves the cult alone to do its business, protecting New Earth Government citizens where the government cannot.
• At least part of Gurathanaka is awake and simply watching with amusement.
Overall, I actually don't mind the Sleepers! Once you get over the missing Dreamlands they're
That makes two cults I like! A good way to end the chapter, I feel - some decent fluff, nary a molestation in sight. I think things are starting to get better now.
Next time: 5 pages on using these cults. One of them is about sex drugs!
The Most Intense And Spiritual Sex Of Your Life
Original SA post
Dark Passions: The Most Intense And Spiritual Sex Of Your Life
I can't avoid it any longer, and I don't have anything pressing to do for the next few hours. Let's see how many chapters I burn through!
Next up is
Chapter Four: Guiding Dark Passions
, a five-page chapter on including those
in your game. The chapter is only five pages long and most of it is miscellaneous crunch shit.
First up, the book talks about making adventures based on these cults. They are more "personal" in their horror compared to the "epic feel" of most
games, apparently. (Not personal horror: Rape camps.) What kind of characters run these adventures? Well:
• You could make a group of "everyday people", like teachers and tech support workers and bigoted writers, who fight to defend themselves and those close to them against a cult they are ill-equipped to fight.
• You could create a "traditional group of Dramatic Characters", like Tagers or mecha pilots or whatever, and they somehow become the target of a minor cult.
• You could have a cult-busting adventure starring FSB agents, OIS or cops bringing down cult cells. Also this:
Dark Passions posted:
Undercover games provide a different kind of horror, as Characters are forced to discover just how far they’re willing to go to maintain their cover.
Would YOU fuck a Deep One for the sake of the world?
• Or hell, just make a game where the PCs are cultists. The book specifies that the Scions of Forever and the Empty are both unsuitable for PCs, which leaves us with suicide-bombing religious caricatures, Deep One-banging junkies, Nyarlathotep wizards, furries, drugged-up paedophiles and the good-aligned Sleepers. Which will
Then there's half a page on adding these cults to an existing story, though to be honest if you can't do that without help why are you Storyguiding? Seriously, it even spells it out:
Dark Passions posted:
It really doesn’t matter what type of game you’re playing, the minor cults are at your doorstep. You hardly need a reason to bring one into your game, because they have the ability to pop up anywhere.
But hey, if you can't think of a reason, there are plenty of really vague "hey maybe this thing happens" ideas for you to use!
There, page one finished. The next four pages are all about the tools minor cults use, plus some crunch! It opens up with a list of brainwashing techniques cults use:
Dark Passions posted:
• Social isolation, which means that the cult limits or prohibits contact with anyone who doesn’t share the group’s attitudes, including family and close friends. Dependence on the group is encouraged, especially financial.
• Total agreement, which means that there are rules for what can and cannot be talked about and nonsupporting information and opinions are prohibited. A special language within the cult is also usually adopted.
• Breaking down identity, which means that the person is forced to view his identity and past in negative ways to destabilize his basic view of himself and reality.
• Personal dependency, which means that the cult creates a sense of powerlessness by putting the person in situations that undermine his confidence placing the cult in a position to support and care for him.
• Negative reinforcement and conditioning, which means that the person is socially and emotionally manipulated in negative ways whenever he breaks from the cult’s prescribed ways, including humiliation, social rejection, guilt, anxiety, and sometimes psychological threats. He is likewise rewarded when he “behaves.”
• Auditory hypnotic states, which means that some cults will use reptitive music and ways of rhythmic speaking at a rate of 45 to 72 beats per minute – close to the beat of a human heart –in order to induce a hypnotic and suggestible state.
This looks researched, actually. I wouldn't be surprised, given the research they did for para-psychics, but the closest thing my copy has to a reference is the phrase "sexual preference" later in this chapter. There are no rules for brainwashing,
Two new spells!
Craft the Labyrinthian Identity
(aka Ghost in the Machine) is a Third Order Enchantment ritual available only to the Circle, courtesy of the Blind Lady. The ritual erases your true identity from all records (physical and electronic) and replaces it with up to ten false ones described in a pre-prepared document, including birth and medical records, passports, credit cards... None of these identities are linked, and anything you own appears to have been sold to someone else, then purchased by one of your fake identities. This makes Circle mages effectively untraceable. It specifies that this doesn't create wealth or ownership of anything, but there's nothing I can see stopping a Circle sorcerer maxing out their credit limits, setting up a Swiss bank account and erasing the identities they borrowed money on. It can be cast on someone else, and also both participants must perform the ritual naked.
Call the Soul's Beast
is a Congregation of the Earth Mother ritual which imbues someone with the characteristics of their spirit animal. For the next six months you get a template of stat boosts in exchange for acting more like your specific spirit animal. Here's the first example!
Dark Passions posted:
Equine (Horse Family) Possession
Attribute Bonuses: +2 Strength, +1 Tenacity
Quality Bonuses: Acute Hearing, Acute Smell & Taste, Acute Vision, Peripheral Vision, Wary
Skill Bonuses: +1 level of expertise for Athletics, Observation, and Survival
Special Abilities: Broadband Hearing (as sensor system), Double Jump Distance, Double Land Speed, Kick (+1)
Six months of stat boosts in exchange for acting more like a horse? Sign me up!
There's also a bit on dream magic. Basically:
Dark Passions posted:
This type of magic is key for the Church of All and the Sleepers. Dream magic will be explored in detail in the upcoming
Vade Mecum: the CthulhuTech Companion
. For the time being, just assume that dream magicians can get inside someone’s dream and manipulate them. A brief sample of several dreaming rituals can be found on p. 41.
Good thing I did these out of order! (p. 41 has a short sidebar summarising
's dream rituals.)
And now, drugs! The remaining two pages of the chapter are about drugs, as it happens. Guess what kinds of drugs.
, that's what!
Dark Passions posted:
People have searched for drugs to enhance sexual experience for ages. Some believe in the mythical Spanish Fly, while others turn to naturopathic options like oysters or damiana. There are those that claim Ecstasy is an aphrodisiac, but in truth only for some. Some of the minor cults use true aphrodisiacs to make the sexual demands of initiation easier for the petitioner.
I could just quote this whole section, but instead I am just going to quote half of it.
Dark Passions posted:
The Congregation of the Earth Mother cultivates an organic aphrodisiac known only as Gold – named so after the primary color of the sacral chakra. Like Ecaryline, the drug is created from a secret recipe of rare plants and herbs, with some unusual animal products mixed in. The effects of Gold are profound. The sexual drive of a user is awakened and heightened to a point known only in the peaks of puberty and beyond. The urge to engage in sexual intercourse becomes overwhelming. Beyond that, the stamina of a user is increased, orgasms for females become easier to come by, and both males and females become multi-orgasmic. The end result is usually an orgy of multiple sex partners that lasts for hours, often blurring normal sexual preferences and fetishes..
By the way, Gold isn't addictive but it might make you a sex addict. Or maybe you'd rather try DFA, a Church of All pill which acts as a sedative, enhances blood flow and makes you feel euphoric. What, did you think there was going to be a date rape drug? DFA is only "lightly addictive", but "some users become psychologically hooked". What's the difference?
come next. The Church of All have made one called Somnicon, which opens you up to the dreams of the world and gives you an intense one-with-the-universe dream trip. Somnicon dream trips can be manipulated by dream magic, though, so Church sorcerers use it to give people really amazing dreams about fish-peoople. The trip can be prolonged by taking more drugs.
Ecaryline is the drug of choice for the Congregation, a secret recipe of herbs and spices that "yields something akin to a smooth combination of mescaline and opium". It gives you a euphoric trip filled with visual hallucinations, and they like to combine it with Gold to make ritual sex a "surreal and animalistic experience". Why have plain old ritualistic sex when you can be tripping out and imagining a tiny horse giving you appreciative, knowing looks?
is a Church of All drug so hardcore it gets its own category. Apparently it "attunes users' vibrational frequencies to those of the planet", making them truly connected to everything. It is a life-changing experience, but the Church of All take it a step further and give it to initiates along with Somnicon and dream magic to give them a profound vision-quest that lead them to worship the ocean, the Deep Ones, and eventually Cthulhu. "Soul-tripping" is a great way to get fanatics, basically! The trip lasts for hours and mortal bodies can't take multiple hits; anything more than one trip a week causes nerve damage and possibly death. It comes as a liquid or a powder and can be mixed with Ecaryline too, but not Gold; Harmony and Gold together kills people, but not before "a couple of hours of
the most intense and spiritual sex of their lives
Next time: I could not give less of a shit about the next chapter.
I Wish This Content Were Blocked
Original SA post
Dark Passions: I Wish This Content Were Blocked
Nothing will stop me finishing this book. Not SOPA, not the nightmares, nothing!
Next up is
Chapter Five: The Wrong Neighbours
, yet another list of
Supporting Cast Characters
NPCs. I couldn't care less and this book is almost done so I'm just going to yell at these NPCs until I feel better.
Blood Brigade Terrorist: John Bagot
is some fleet vehicle driver who lost his family during the Arcanotech War and was convinced by his ex to sign up with the Ministry of Divine Truth. Now he's a fanatical Blood Brigade racist who goes around killing Nazzadi. And his name is John BAGOT! Get it? Bagot? Big... oh just fuck off John.
Church of All 1st Circle Hybrid Priestess: Kora-Tadi
is a Nazzadi who joined the Church of All when she was told to integrate with humans and is ended up a Hybrid slowly turning into a Deep One. Apparently all 2nd Circle initiates give up their old name and Kora-Tadi means "tide pool". Also, Church of All cultists can pick up Delusion (firmly believes that awakening the sleeping god will bring paradise on Earth). Delusion (believes it was worth actually being a mage in this system) isn't there though.
Church of All 2nd Circle Recruiter: Willow Dream
is a sexy Japanese girl named Aika Yamaguchi. Holy shit, does everyone in the Church of All suck at naming? She recruits at colleges while working on her degree and thinks God will give her a higher place in the new world for every person she initiates. Has Sexy Voice, gear list includes a bong, marijuana and opium. I hate you so much, Willow.
Circle Assassin: Marlis Werden
is a middle-aged German woman and a powerful sorcerer. Also, I just stopped caring about her.
Congregation of the Earth Mother Medium: Kallegra
is a Nazzadi gunsmith who works to protect his fellow cultists, really digs Shub-Niggurath and likes running through the woods getting in touch with his spirit animal, the panther. In a rare oversight, gear list does not include spirit hood or cat ears.
Congregation of the Earth Mother Witch: Lucinda Lopez
"has had sexual relations with more men and women among her flock then she can count". Really, CthulhuTech? Really? Oh yeah, and she's looking for real love. Alluring 3, Sexy Voice 2, Delusion (belief that her dedication to the Dark Mother will fill that empty void inside). She's just looking for a nice guy to sweep her off her feet! Surf a wave of dicks, CTech.
Dionysus Club Power Broker: Clifford Hammond
works to find out people's dark secrets and darkker desires for his own personal gain. His Dark Secret is that he records all the secrets of the society's powerful, because he's a fucking idiot. Seriously, god damn. You
, Clifford. Way to help the PCs!
Empty Psychopath: Loyka
Dark Passions posted:
Nobody knows where Loyka came from before landing a job as a handyman at a local orphanage. He is reticent to let others know about his knowledge of satellite communications systems and uncanny fighting abilities, of whose origins he has no clue. Like everyone else he has no idea of his past, but he’s nice enough. So much so that the orphanage manager offered him a trial position as grounds keeper. While the management seems to like him, the kids certainly don’t – not with the hungry way he looks at them from time to time. Sometimes he wonders why he dreams about what it would be like to cut one of those sweet little angels open. Voices. Whispers. Need. There is something so tantalizing about his dreams.
Gear: Combat Knife – Composite, Ordinary Clothing, Small Box with a Child’s Severed Finger, Swiss Army Knife with Laser Pointer
I am not touching that one with a ten-foot tentacle dick.
Private Investigator: Jack Hammer
is an ex-OIS agent private detective. His name is Jack Hammer. Fuck off, Jack.
Scions of Forever Immortal Sorceress: Neferure el-Bahri
Neferure is a (SYNONYM FOR ATTRACTIVE) Egyptian antiques trader, former High Priest of Amun and the daughter of Hatshepsut. Yes, that one. Apparently she fucked up an arcane ritual, and now she is an immortal Scion of Forever. She knows all the spells. The most spells. Despite being like 3,500 years old she is still a Student at Swimming and is
an Expert at like every skill ever. What the hell is wrong with you, Neferure?
Sleeper Dream Magician: Avily
is a Nazzadi art gallery owner who was recruited into the Sleepers by "an old Australian man named Myles Barnaby". She has Outsider Tainted. I only found that out because it said so in her statblock, but I assume it's something to do with her dream powers. I want to hear about Myles Barnaby.
Sleeper Workshop Leader: Nafuna Jones
is a Nigerian girl who used to have recurring nightmares of being chased by a huge lion, until she learned to face her fears. Now she is an athlete. Moral of this story: To succeed at sports, have and get over lion nightmares.
By the way, the sidebar listing
dream spells I mentioned pops up here. Avily has some of them.
Next time: The Adventure chapter, finally. And by finally, I mean
Original SA post
Behold, for I have made the logo even worse than it usually is.
Chapter Six: Sins & Threats
. It is the adventure chapter. If anyone has an issue with trigger warnings, stop reading now. Actually, how did you not guess that?
Why are you even reading CthulhuTech posts?
In previous CthulhuTech book writeups, a pattern was emerging: In
, one of the two adventures was a bizarre Eldritch Society railroad which used a warehouse full of rape victims as casual background dressing. In
, one of the adventures revolved around a sex slave ring and the GM was expected to describe a rape occuring in front of the PCs. This time, though, it's different.
adventures are awful.
Remember our hypothetical gamers? Storyguide Paul, Robert/Kai the cop, Fred/Athena the Tager, Charles/Namy-chan the arcanotechnician, Dexter/Ryu the para-psychic and Ward/Angus the wizard? They played the CthulhuTech sample adventure "Hot Merchandise", agreed to never play CTech again, then played Vade Mecum's "Slaves to Passion" and immediately regretted it. Well, since this chapter is a little different, this time the group shakes up a little too: Dexter convinces Storyguide Paul that maybe what they need to make CTech work is a different DM, so Storyguide Paul and Dexter swap positions.
What they don't know is that Storyguide Dexter doesn't intend to run a good game of CthulhuTech. After trying to make a lone wolf ninja FBI agent,
being outdone by Fred rolling a character who can turn invisible at will
picking awful assets, one of which turned out to be a placeholder for actual mechanics
finding out the actual mechanics are really bad
being rendered brain-dead by optional damage complication tables
, Dexter has had enough of this bullshit.
He is going to make them pay.
Dark Passions posted:
This is a story in which one of the Characters is stalked and kidnapped by a pair of sadistic serial killers who are in fact Empty. It is meant for games in which the Characters live in or around an arcology and who are not Tagers – arcane shapeshifters would have no problem squishing a couple of teenage crazies. Since the setup for this story is subtle, it’s best if you weave in the first Act while you’re finishing another story. Warning: This story is disturbing. It is not for the faint of heart. Your discretion is advised.
Storyguide Dexter knew he had picked the right CthulhuTech book when he noticed the opening section of this chapter includes artwork of a guy being shot just before torturing a Nazzadi family,
where naturally the female is depicted with her legs spread, mouth open and her shirt pulled up.
When he read the warning at the start of Empty Threats, he was sold.
Empty Threats posted:
Warning: This story is disturbing. It is not for the faint of heart. Your discretion is advised.
Not given a warning: MASS RAPE ADVENTURES.
So anyway, since this adventure is not balanced for Tagers, Storyguide Dexter decides to do a "prequel" game before the Eldritch Society and has everyone roll regular dudes. Athena Darkroad goes from grimdark Tager to rookie cop, Kai Bachika goes from hot-blooded cop to hot-bloodied slightly less experienced cop, Namy-chan goes from Whisper Tager teenage prodigy slut to teenage prodigy slut, Angus Stallman goes from tentacle-dicked wizard to neckbearded wizard with less spells, and Paul rolls up Sakura Blossom, a spirit hood-wearing college student who looks a little underage because this game cannot possibly get any worse.
Act I: Someone's Watching
, the PCs "get to know" each other and roleplay through their characters' initial meeting, Dexter describes a missing persons report on TV. Nice, a plot hook! The missing persons are:
Empty Threats posted:
• Mai Wing, a young Chinese-American mother and homemaker.
• Kidina, Nazzadi, a middle-aged utility truck operator.
• Tony Washington, a local African-American DJ.
• Helmut Brauer, a manufacturing executive retiree.
• Efurany, a young Nazzadi child of eight.
The players continue to roleplay, and Dexter reads the next part:
Empty Threats posted:
Now you have to pick one of your Characters to undergo an unfortunate and traumatizing event. It’s best if you choose a player who you know can handle having their Character kidnapped and victimized – preferably someone who trusts you and doesn’t have personal issues around control. If you choose a female player, be sure she’s someone you have a bond of trust with so that you don’t incite real world anxieties. The Character in question should be someone who has a normal enough social life and would be found out in the world. This Character will now be referred to as our Victim.
character, will you? Dexter chooses Athena as the victim, and the rookie cop starts running into homeless people. They sit on the same train as her, linger near her favourite coffee shop, and pass her in the street. Soon they start interacting with her - going out of their way to beg her for change, ranting homelessly at her, et cetera. Finally the mass of homeless just start showing up to stare: wherever Athena goes, they are watching her. Where she works, where she parties, where she lives. And then...
Empty Threats posted:
Just when our Victim has gotten really paranoid, things stop. He can’t find a homeless person if he tries – well, maybe one or two in back alleys, but they keep to themselves. Everything just goes back to normal. Give him a little time to settle down and convince him that things are back to normal. Lull him into a false sense of security. And then abduct him however you can. Only you know your Victim’s habits well enough to create a convincing way to kidnap him. Maybe he’s drugged in his sleep. Maybe he’s shot with a stun gun and dragged into an alley. Maybe his food ends up drugged and he disappears from the restaurant bathroom. Regardless, he ends up unconscious, bound, gagged, and stuffed in a car trunk.
The entire first act was a prelude to Athena having her drink spiked and getting abducted.
Act II: The Lion's Den
Empty Threats posted:
To put the Victim into a sick serial killer hell; to put the rest of the Characters on the investigative path.
Athena wakes up in some kind of abandoned industrial room. Dexter follows the instructions exactly - she finds herself locked in a metal cage with razor wire wrapped around the bars, too small for her to even lay down. No amenities, no toilet, and "everything that might have been useful has been taken away from the Victim. He doesn't even have shoelaces or a belt left". (Dexter decides to interpret that as meaning she is naked.) The lock on the cage is a digital four-digit combination lock which shuts down for twenty minutes if you enter the wrong combination three times, and there is nothing in reach. Athena is basically railroaded into staying here.
So what happened to the other victims? Well.
Empty Threats posted:
• Mai Wing, mother and homemaker, and Kidina, Nazzadi truck operator, have already been tortured, killed, and disposed of – or possibly eaten.
• Tony Washington, local DJ, occasionally cries out from a cage across the room. His tongue has been cut out (and force fed to him), so he cannot communicate. His tongue is not the only thing he’s lost. His genitals, a foot, an arm, his remaining hand – all have been surgically removed and force fed back to him. He is, thankfully, no longer home and won’t be much longer for this world.
• Helmut Brauer, executive retiree, is now a macabre and disturbing work of art. His body cut into pieces and mutilated, he hangs in an almost unrecognizable sculpture of rearranged parts.
• Efurany, the eight year-old Nazzadi girl lies curled up in a nearby cage. She has been regularly beaten and sexually abused. Furthermore, the twins have forced her to watch as they tortured and murdered other victims. She’s on the border-line of going Empty herself.
Let the victim get his bearings and get a look at what’s happened to the others here. Let the horror and dread build. Let him grasp that the horrible things that have been done to the others here is a fate he now shares.
I just want you to know that my clipboard claimed "Internal error" the first time I tried to paste that. It wants me to stop, but there is no way in fuck I am going to describe all this shit myself.
Athena can do literally nothing here. After she has been suitably spooked, two Empty teenage twins enter. Travis and Tina Tsolczak are blonde Caucasian twins wearing "hip urban fashions" and evil smiles, and they ignore Athena except to make sure she's alive. She cut herself on the razor wire waking up like the book told Dexter she probably would, but otherwise she's fine, so instead they zap the whimpering little girl with a stun gun and drag her away.
Empty Threats posted:
This sort of horrifying setting and situation calls for a variety of Insanity Tests as this experience goes on. Don’t be afraid to make your Victim roll for as many as you can come up with – this is not the sort of thing he’ll come back from free and clear.
If you say so, CthulhuTech! Dexter manages to justify enough rolls to make Athena gain 3 Insanity Points. For the next few days Athena suffers three temporary disorders - Dexter lets Fred pick these, and Athena gets Panic Disorder, Major Depression and Rage Disorder, since they kind of fit. She also gains a permanent disorder, and Dexter chooses Dependent Disorder for her so he can say she has Stockholm Syndrome later. Fred is clearly uncomfortable, but if people talked things out like mature adults we wouldn't have a Worst Experiences thread so he shuts up.
Meanwhile, the other PCs try to find her. Unknown to them, Athena has been taken to an abandoned industrial complex in an abandoned part of the city outside the arcology, and they can't find her anyway because the railroad says so. Travis and Tina "have spent years studying criminology and forensics (and medicine, not coincidentally) for years" -
, man! - and whatever is guiding the Empty helps them know how to avoid detection. Their victims are random. Basically, while Fred is forced to sit there and have his character's abduction described to him, the other PCs on the actual adventure run around and are forced into not having any leads. Why? Enter the Scions!
Empty Threats posted:
A Lucky Break
The lucky break doesn’t come from investigation. Ask any detective – most of the time a search for a missing person is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But the Characters do get a lucky break, for unknown reasons and with unknown motives from the mysterious Scions of Forever. Unfortunately, the Characters have no idea who the Scions are nor will they know much from this interaction.
Something something verisimilitude, and one of the other characters (Storyguide Dexter picks Sakura Blossom) gets a phone call from an unknown number. Sakura decides not to answer it because nobody is enjoying this adventure and Paul feels like spiting Dexter, but that's okay - the Scion keeps calling until he does. Eventually Sakura gives in, and the Scion addresses her by name and tells her that what she's after "is protected by the unwanted" before directing her to the industrial complex and hanging up. The call can't be traced or IDed, and there isn't even a digital record of the call in their phone company's database. Since they are being railroaded out of every other option, thuogh, Kai talks the others into investigating.
It's time for
Act III: Teenage Psychotics
Empty Threats posted:
To torture the Victim and make him fear for his fate; to rescue the Victim from the twins.
While the PCs investigate, Fred has more adventure dictated to him.
Empty Threats posted:
• Efurany is removed from her cage and returned to her cage numerous times. Sometimes she comes back further bloodied and tortured, sometimes not. She will not communicate.
• At some point they will take Tony from his cage. He will shriek horribly when they do, before they stun him into silence. He is taken away. Soon thereafter,they will come and get Efurany. Then, the screams begin. Tony howls and shrieks so loudly that the Victim can hear him from some other part of this place. When the horror is finally over, Tony is returned to his cell, but without one of his legs. Efurany is returned a couple hours later.
• After being starved, the Victim is taken out of his cell and fed by the twins. It should be obvious that what he’s being fed is Tony’s leg. The twins aren’t much for conversation, so if he refuses to eat it, they will force him to eat it. Then they will proceed to torture the Victim. Electricity is a great place to start as well as good old-fashioned beating. If you want to give the Character scars, move on to piercing, cutting, and burning. These first sessions are painful and terrifying, but they won’t leave permanent damage – yet.
Feel free to add to this sickening experience if the Characters take too long getting the pieces together and mounting their rescue. Continue to have the Victim make Insanity Tests as appropriate.
Unlike Storyguide Paul, Storyguide Dexter is totally cool with this book telling him to describe shit. Athena is electrocuted, beaten, scarred with loving knife cuts down her face, and force-fed a black guy's leg. Dexter forces Athena to make more tests, and Athena gets to 6 Insanity Points. Three more temporary disorders - Fred chooses General Anxiety Disorder, a Minor Physical Disorder (sleeping) and a Phobia of black guys - and two permanent. Fred successfully convinces Dexter that PTSD fits, since Athena was a bit of a mental wreck at the start of Storyguide Paul's campaign anyway. Dexter agrees, and declares the other one will be Stockholm Syndrome.
Then he moves on to burning, which is about the point where Fred punches Dexter in the face.
Sounds like a good time for a rescue to me!
Meanwhile, Kai, Angus, Namy-chan and Sakura Blossom have made their way to the neighbourhood. There's nobody here - except those fucking homeless. They are just chilling in a four block radius around the building the twins use - Angus works it out, but if he didn't Storyguide Dexter would have been encouraged by the book (and being punched in the face) to railroad them to it. The group finds a padlocked back door, and Kai decides to use his key:
HIS MOTHERFUCKING BOOT.
Inside is a torture room, with a chair covered in Athena's dried blood, an operating table with restraints and a table containing "pretty much every tool a torturer could want". Athena's been taken back to her cage, but there's a portable grill and a fridge of body parts. (Presumably the Twins did not want to feed Athena
black guy leg. That would just be disgusting.) The book requires Insanity Tests from everyone, and has them roll (it doesn't say
) until everyone takes an Insanity Point. Everybody picks Rage Disorder.
Another locked door and another boot away, they make it to the room with the cages. Athena is there, covered in wounds and gibbering to herself, and Efurany is in her cage. She won't let anyone touch her, though - apparently they have to stun her to get her out or she'll thrash around, cut herself on the razor wire and bleed to death. Hope you brought a stun gun! (Kai did, thankfully.) Tony is beyond help, but they leave him there for the cops. (At this point the book suggests that if the Victim somehow found a way to escape, the Storyguide declare the other Characters "show up at the last minute and help him escape". Choo choo! Once Athena is released and Efrauny is rescued and bundled in a blanket, the Twins come back.
Empty Threats posted:
The twins should come back to find the Characters rescuing their friend. If it seems like the twins can gain an advantage and take the Characters, they’ll be sneaky and do some damage. But Travis and Tina are sickos, not combatants. Most likely they’ll just take off running and try to get away. If the Characters can stop them from getting in their car, they’ll have to chase the twins on foot through the abandoned industrial neighborhood. If not, time for a car chase. Hopefully, someone will have the presence of mind to call the cops.
Whether or not the twins are captured is up to you. After everything, your Characters may instead just try to kill them. If cornered, the twins may try to take their own lives. It’s up to you and your group as to how this chase winds up.
After a long chase scene, Storyguide Dexter declares the Twins try to commit suicide. Paul reminds Dexter that he has not yet experienced the joy of tying the GM to his chair and beating him with a wiffle bat. Instead, Athena smashes Travis' face into an unrecognisable mess with her fists while the others beat Tina senseless until the police show up.
Finally, the epilogue. The Twins confess - Athena gets some closure watching from behind one-way glass, then goes back to hospital - and they are given the death penalty. The Characters get their day in the spotlight as heroes, and the rescuers win medals. Fred pipes up to ask: What does Athena get? I mean, she just spent the adventure railroaded into being brutally tortured by a pair of NPCs for literally no reason. She must get something out of being the one to go through that, right?
Empty Threats posted:
When all is said and done, the Character who received the mysterious phone call receives another. This time, the voice asks to speak to the victim. It tells him that while the body will heal, the spirit remains wounded until examined – look inside. It’s up to you what is appropriate for the Victim, but perhaps something like the Latent Para-Psychic or Wary Assets for free might be a good light in the darkness, or Erupted Para-Psychic if he’s already latent (or both if he’s suffered especially). These prizes can only be claimed when he’s done the work as the voice asked and spent time in deep meditation and reflection searching through his pain.
Storyguide Dexter declares that Athena's reward is
Fred punches him in the dick.
Next time: I'm done for tonight. I'm fucking done. I am too drained to continue the second half of this chapter. FUCK IT. I'm done.
They're both terrible. See you tomorrow.
dogout 2: dogout harder
Original SA post
I tapped out halfway through the adventure chapter thanks to the worst adventure CthulhuTech has produced so far, but we're not done! Unfortunately, Storyguide Dexter and his silly hypothetical group already ragequit CthulhuTech forever again (read: I am just describing it as normal, fuck that).
So, I covered
The Empty and the Dionysus Club
a while ago, and what I may not have mentioned is that each one gets their own adventure. This is the Dionysus Club one. It is slightly better than the last one, in that it does not contain child rape.
Dark Passions posted:
SINS OF THE DAUGHTER
This story is intended for a street-level game. The players are hired by John Stanwood, a well-known Senate Councilman to investigate and resolve a blackmail plot against his family. The political atmosphere of his new legislation would make a personal scandal disastrous. He therefore seeks to have his problem resolved unofficially, quietly, and as far under the carpet as his substantial personal fortune can guarantee.
This being CthulhuTech, three guesses as to what kind of blackmait's sex.
There are a few suggested options for Tager stories, law enforcement, arcane underground/private investigator stories etc., but they all boil down to "Councilman John Stanwood hires the party to do a thing". In
Part I: Blackmail
, we find out what! First, as usual, scene cast! This one at least starts describing the physical appearance of males instead of just noting how hot the girls are.
Samir Balan (male):
Stanwood's butler, grey-bearded and turban-wearing.
Senate Councilman John Stanwood (male):
Middle-aged man, "wears his power like a fine Italian suit". Best eight words in the whole damn book.
Karla Stanwood (female):
Stanwood's young daughter, spoiled flirty rich girl, beautiful blonde.
Marlis Werden (female):
Stanwood's personal assistant, very professional, not described as pretty for once.
The PCs are picked up in a private limo and taken to Stanwood's private estate, where they are greeted by Samir Balan and
the Circle assassin
Marlis Werden before being escorted to the library, where
Marlis explains that her employer,
Stanwood is an influential man in Chicago currently supporting a new Corporate Deregulation Bill that will give the NEG's war production the boost it needs to fight back the Migou. Once the PCs know what's at stake, Marlis
is a member of the Circle
offers her help to the PCs if they need it and they're taken to see Stanwood in the conservatory with the candlestick.
Stanwood explains that his daughter Karla has been involved with some "questionable people" since her mother died, and recently someone has started to blackmail him with video clips of his daughter involved in "explicit and drug-enhanced sexual acts". At first the blackmailers just wanted low sums of cash, but now they want to influence his Senate vote. Karla denies everything and claims she doesn't remember doing anything like that if confronted about the videos, and for some reason Stanwood decided to leave it at that and hire some PCs to investigate rather than
actually do something about his goddamn daughter.
Dark Passions posted:
Just then the players notice a beautiful young woman make her way out into the garden. Her long blonde hair cascades gently over the back of her red satin robe. Her hands move to the tie of the robe and gracefully pull the garment off her shoulders to reveal a golden tanned and striking nude figure. She seems relaxed and gently settles herself upon a lounge chair to warm her body under the shower ofsunlight. There seems to be no regard in her manner toward anyone who might see her. Stanwood notices an attention shift in the players. With a look of irritation he signals Samir who in turn presses a remote control to darken the glass pane that frames Karla’s golden figure. Stanwood continues.
Anyway, once the PCs are hired, Stanwood can be asked questions! If they don't, he only explains that she's been involved with someone named Brent at the local Prestigious University and sends them to start investigating there. If they do ask him questions it doesn't matter because
Part 2: Investigation
is about going to Prestigious University ("The Storyguide can select any local University with the appropriate level of prestige that would suit a Councilman’s daughter") and looking for some dude named Brent. (Karla gives the PCs more "tee hee I don't remember that" horseshit, anyway.)
Brent Collins (male)
A handsome young lad in love with Karla. Nervous, constantly looking over his shoulder, I have no idea why he is described in this cast list since he's not actually in this goddamn part but whatever.
Myron Kovalevsky (male)
A middle-aged Ukrainian guy, portly and balding, "seems like he’s hiding something". (He's hiding something.)
- a pretty and curious young Nazzadi. Also a lingerie shop worker. This is going places!
While at Prestigious University, the PCs learn that Karla is a known party girl but has a great academic record and excels in occult studies and sorcery. In more immediately relevant news, her latest boyfriend is Brent Collins, some rich kid who introduced her to "an off-campus club that dabbled in certain recreational aspects of sorcery". Whatever that means, the club met regularly in the basement of a magic shop called Spell Traders.
Smash cut! Suddenly the adventure starts describing Spell Traders, a downtown magic shop that mostly caters to trinket buyers and tourists. The owner Myron Kovalevsky denies knowing Karla, gets defensive about it and refuses to talk. If the PCs press the issue or try to find out what he's hiding, he calls the police. Either way, once the PCs get back on the rails and leave the store:
As the players leave Kovalevsky’s store they notice a beautiful young Nazzadi woman watching through a lingerie shop window from across the city walkway. She backs quickly away from the window witha startled expression once she realizes that she’s been spotted. This should hook the players to investigate. If not, she’ll eventually signal the players to come over. She introduces herself as Nandy.
Once Nandy is done avoiding and beckoning the PCs, she explains she's been peeping at the Spell Trader from her apartment above the shop. Apparently a group of people shows up often after hours, and recently she saw a couple of men carrying an unconscious blonde woman out of the building. (It is totally Karla.) The PCs get to have a stakeout at her place, and surprise surprise, some assholes show up.
Part 3: Crimes of Passion
, the PCs watch as some assholes (one is Karla) enter the Spell Trader. Then they watch as Bent shows up in an overcoat, agitated as hell, and lets himself in. "This should cue the players to follow", the book says. Who the hell hasn't already tried to enter the building or grab Brent at this point? Anyway, the front door locks behind Brent and delays the PCs (
) long enough for gunshots to ring out and people to scream. Oh shit!
The PCs break in and burst into the basement to find a ritual room with a young dead guy in it. A door leads to a back room, and beyond:
Dark Passions posted:
As the players approach the room they find Brent nervously grasping a pistol trained at the doorway. Five other young men and women in various stages of undress cower against an opposite wall. Myron Kovalevsky lies on the floor bleeding from two gunshots wounds to his stomach. Karla Stanwood is tied naked to a bed with lighting, sound, and video equipment set up around her. Brent looks stunned and helpless as the gun wavers in his hand.
The players must deal with Brent – a frightened and guilt-ridden college student trying to save his girlfriend from the life he’d introduced her to by mistake. Brent will explain that Karla reveled in her wild-girl image just to spite her father. She took to sorcery because her dad would not approve. When Kovalevsky introduced her to his personal porn studio she hungrily jumped in. All her hidden desires were catered to. She received special invitations to weekend long sex parties and went out of her way to experience everything that a good Senate Councilman’s daughter would never do. Brent saw her life spinning out of control and though he feared Kovalevsky’s connections he decided to do something about it. Unfortunately that “something” included bringing a gun to an argument.
For some reason Kovalevsky is holding an envelope in his hands with the letters "D-Club/CH" on them. If someone asks him, in his dying moments, why the fuck he decided to spend them gripping an envelope, Kovalevsky whispers the name "Hammond" and dies. Thanks, Kovalevsky!
Now the PCs have to clean up the mess, and by that I mean if they don't call
the villain, seriously, come on
Marlis Werden to take up her offer she calls them.
The Nyarlathotep cultist
Marlis and her
wanky extended strikeout gag
security team show up.
The bad guy
Marlis tells them to get Karla and Brent out of there (what they do with Brent is up to them, Karla is in shock) and she'll clean up the situation, but she won't say how
because she is obviously the villain.
Part 4: Politics is Murder
, the PCs get another lead tossed in their faces.
Dark Passions posted:
A call comes in from a stranger the following day. His name is Clifford Hammond and he sounds mortally terrified. “Please, I need to see you right now! I know who you work for and I don’t have time to waste! She’s out of control! I’m only involved because I was asked to indoctrinate the Stanwood girl. I didn’t think it would ever come to this! Please hurry!”
When the PCs go to the supplied address (a nice estate outside the arcology) they meet with
Dionysus Club power broker
Dionysus Club power broker
. This dumb fuck was recruited by "she" (guess fuckin' who) to "work on the Stanwood girl", in exchange for a sizeable reward and the possibility of leverage with a Senate Councilman. But now things are
out of control!
Hammond illustrates his point with a hologram of the morning news, which ran a big story on a fiery explosion that wiped out the Spell Trader. Apparently the PCs missed that.
Clifford knows the villain MARLIS FUCKING WERDEN is dangerous! He had managed to brainwash Karla into hating her father, but he suspects Marlis has been using dream magic to manipulate her into wanting to murder him, ensuring the Corporate Deregulation Bill will pass as Marlis intends. Right, Clifford?
Dark Passions posted:
At least I think that this is what Marlis is up to. But, that doesn’t matter now! Please, you must protect…” Just then a small metal sphere sporting blade protrusions crashes violently through the window and flies murderously into the back of Hammond’s skull. He dies instantly.
So yeah, Marlis is a Circle assassin hired by the Circle to ensure Stanwood's bill will pass, and she decided to use the local Dionysus Club to accomplish it in a completely fucking stupid manner. It would have made a Circle recruit out of Karla, though. Now that Brent has fucked everything up, there's been a change of plans: Stanwood dies tonight!
And away the PCs go! Marlis' goons are guarding the Estate - also Dhohanoids, if the group has Tagers, and Gaunts/Byakhee if the Storyguide feels like it - and the PCs must sneak and fight their way in. Once past the guards, Marlis herself tries to stop them - she tries to flee, but this time the Storyguide isn't instructed to ensure she survives so
Dark Passions posted:
A gunshot is heard from upstairs. As the players burst into the master bedroom they find Karla standing with a pistol aimed at her father. He sits bolt upright in his bed staring wide eyed at her. A bullet hole now decorates the wall behind his head. “I can’t do it!!” she screams in hysterical panic and turns the pistol on herself. Winning Initiative will allow one of the players to dash in and bat the pistol away before she can pull the trigger. Otherwise, Karla will experience a violent and tragic end to her pain.
If Karla survives (not too hard, honestly) she is sent to a mental hospital. Either way, Stanwood immediately ditches the Corporate Deregulation Bill and has his spin doctors pin everything on a Blood Brigade terrorist plot. If Marlis survives, the players have a new enemy. Also, she is so totally fired. Stanwood thanks them profusely, loads them with money and promises to help if they ever need anything - they get the Ally (3) asset. Hooray!
I just described an adventure in which the PCs crash a porn studio and I can't even be mad any more.
Next time: Wrapping this shit up.
The Final Straw
Original SA post
Dark Passions: The Final Straw
I'm going to wrap this up with the adventure hooks, right at the end of the book. Two of the five, anyway.
Did neither of those adventures do it for you? Well how about a nude furry chase?
Dark Passions posted:
IN THE WOODS, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAMING
A story hook involving the Congregation of the Earth Mother
A friend, partner, or fellow agent goes missing after several weeks in the wilderness. His last message said something about a sister in trouble. His last known location was a small remote town in the Pacific Northwest. The players arrive to discover a run-down and almost abandoned settlement. Most people are suspicious and unwilling to talk, instead resorting to rude comments or silent disregard. Only the local hotel manager, a woman in her late forties, is willing to help. She acknowledges seeing the missing man says he traveled north some time ago. It is late, so she invites the players to stay the night before continuing their journey.
Whether they are forced or drugged, the players are taken in the middle of the night deep into the forest, prisoners of a primal and dangerous looking mob. They are stripped, bound, and placed in the center of a large pentagram drawn on the grounds of a forest clearing. Torch smoke spirals in the air as dark robed figures slowly form a circle around the pentagram. A middle-aged woman steps out among the crowd – the hotel manager and she is naked except for an antler-crowned head dress. She speaks, “Oh blessed mother, accept this worthy sacrifice as a symbol of our unwavering devotion. As it was with the old ways, we will hunt for the blood that you demand.”
A robed figure approaches the players to cut their bonds with a large knife. They are commanded to run into the dark wood beyond the clearing as the crowd of worshipers discards their robes to reveal their true feral selves. The hunt is on.
This is the one the book ends on. You know, in case you forgot what
Dark Passions posted:
WHEN AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED
A story hook for a law enforcement game
There has been a recent rash of college, club, and bar date rapes. The victims are pretty girls between the ages of 18 and 24, though a couple younger girls with fake ID’s have also fallen prey. Each of the girls reports drinking alcoholic beverages and soon after spinning out of control. It is suspected right off the bat that they have been drugged. Their memories are fuzzy and though they remember being forced to engage in sexual intercourse while they were helpless, they cannot provide details about their attackers. Furthermore, the rapists have been smart enough to wear condoms to avoid leaving DNA evidence.
Investigations of parties and bars has finally turned up an unidentified residue in a couple of drinking glasses. The forensics lab has analyzed the substance and compared it against the Federal Security Bureau’s law enforcement database. It is classified as the unidentified compound U-213A and it is a rare drug that finds it way onto the street from time to time and is commonly used as a very effective date rape drug, particularly when mixed with alcohol.
Successful investigation will bring them to a Second Circle Church of All cultist who is distributing the drug DFA to street dealers in order to drum up some cash for the cult. Characters may be led to a small lab in a disreputable part of town that contains Church trappings and more than likely will find themselves accosted by Hybrids in the shadows. While it will be difficult to catch the Church, it is more than likely that they will be able to bust the lab and stop the flow of DFA onto the streets – for now.
And... that's it! Book done! I can now sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and check another one off my list.
CthulhuTech Core Book
• Mortal Remains
• Ancient Enemies
• Unveiled Threats
Coming whenever I feel like opening another goddamn
book (sometime in the next
week probably): the first adventure metaplot book.
This is fucking