Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dread Week - Black Cod Island Scenario

A while ago Paul created a scenario involving a CDC (Center for Disease Control) and military medical task force sent to search out and hopefully stop a mysterious epidemic. Eventually, it turned out that the epidemic was really a Deep One transformation and possible summoning of Dagon. This scenario started me thinking about how to evolve his Deep One idea further and not have as much military power in order to create more mystery from his original idea. To do so, I turned to a new reference source from one of my favorite settings, Delta Green. Keep Reading to learn the secrets of He-Who-Swims-With-Corpses!

Targets of Opportunity is the newest source book for Delta Green. Fortunately, the first section of the book focuses on a small island off the southwestern coast of Alaska (the same geographical area as Paul's original scenario). Alaska seems to be a great place to isolate characters and the difficult travel around the state simply adds to that isolation. These difficulties are why stories such as 30 Days of Night are so effective.

The characters in the Black Cod Island scenario are a Biologist, Pharmacologist, Biology Intern, Phamacology Intern, Coast Guard escort and Haida guide. The two groups of scientists should be competing to identify/solve the mystery. This competition is created through the character creation process using the 13 question Dread questionnaire to build suspicion and mistrust. The Haida guide and Coast Guard escort should trust one another. Maybe they have worked together in the past and have some hints about what is truly happening on Black Cod Island. The guide probably has some oral traditions about the evils found on the island and the Coast Guard escort has probably heard/seen unexplainable occurrences since being posted in the area a number of years ago.

The first scenario should include arriving at the island (by boat) and meeting with the tribal council. The tribes lawyer and Matriarch (traditional leader of the island) should be the main NPC's for the characters to interact with. The lawyer's name is Martin Hildraw and the matriarch is Jennifer Guusu. Jennifer is only 19 years old, but clearly in charge of the council. She inherited the title from her own mother who has "retired" and spends much of her time at the Lodge. The people of Black Cod Island have large, dopey eyes and often have their head cocked as if someone is talking to them. In reality, they are listening to the song of the "retired" matriarch as she is summoning an elder god.

Unless pressed very hard, these two people will not admit that there is an epidemic. Require pulls from at least both of the scientists to learn about the rare heart condition that a number of people died from over the past few decades. They will only admit that some deaths happened a number of years ago, but allow the characters to visit the hospital to check for themselves. Unknown to the characters is that the disease is really a fairly common fatal side effect of the transformation to a deep one. Most likely the players will want to check out the hospital. Try to build suspicion of the council of Elders during the first meeting. Try to get the characters to make pulls to notice odd twitches by the elders, whether they are being truthful and/or to recognize the recurring motif of certain symbols that don't quite seem to be from this world. Be careful not to give out too information.

At the hospital, three people are currently dying from the heart condition. They appear green and constantly ask for water. If they are questioned, they start speaking in a language that is clearly not related to any form of the Haida's traditional language. The Guide can make a pull to know this information; Any other character will need two pulls for the same information. Shortly after entering this ward of the hospital, the characters should hear the door shut behind them and realize no other medical personnel are left with them. The three "patients" will then attack the characters, trying to capture, not kill them. These patients were given this last task by the 19 year-old matriarch Jennifer in a letter before the characters arrived with instructions that they are to be transported to the Lodge. This letter should be in basic Haida and translatable by the guide with no pulls, but 2 pulls by anyone else using the translation packet supplied with the mission documents.

At his point, it should be night. The characters will need to breakdown or otherwise escape the hospital. If they try to leave, their boat is gone and the streets seem deserted. All of the residents are at the lodge for the summoning of He-Who-Swims-With-Corpses, a Dagon-like old one. Posters found around town indicate a religious meeting that night at the lodge with the "Fish-Wife" presiding. This ceremony, in fact, is to sacrifice to He-Who-Swims-With-Corpses as a fertility right passing the mantle of Fish-Wife to the new Matriarch, a necessity to keep fertility among the women of Black Cod Island and to continue the transformations into Deep Ones.

If the characters refuse to go to the Lodge, have them ambushed by a group of near deep ones sent to capture the sacrifice that escaped the hospital. Make sure that the scientists have some sort of syringes filled with medicine, either in their kits or from scavenging the hospital. This medicine should be able to knock out their enemies. The Coast Guard should be allowed a firearm and the guide some form of traditional weapon of the Haida. How you handle the summoning and Fish-Wife are up to you, but it should be difficult. Fire is always a good option since it is a natural enemy of water. One of the characters may be a descendant from Black Cod Island and need to fight the transformation or desire to help in the summoning. The game is yours and you should feel free to improvise. Some of the best games I have ever run were half-improvised and this scenario allows for that sandbox type play.

Other ideas include letting the group arm themselves at a local gunshop (more pulls required for the scientists to use weapons than the guide and escort since the scientists are untrained) or find flammable items at the local hardware store. Maybe they find a fishing boat and ram the ceremony similar to the actual short story Call of Cthulhu. If they flee, send Deep Ones and He-Who-Swims-With-Corpses after them. Make them deal with the consequences of confronting the threat or running from it.

To find out more about the Black Cod Island Setting, check out Targets of Opportunity, a sourcebook for Delta Green by Pagan Publishing. Of course you can always take the scenario presented and run it with any horror game, but we like Dread quite a bit and you can find the free rule quickstart to run the game (all you need is a Jenga tower) as presented above!

1 comment:

  1. Have the questionnaires for this been posted somewhere? It sound awesome!


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