Bread of Heaven

As our kickstarter continues, we had an extra scenario come up that couldn’t make it’s way into the book. In normal form, we are opting to share this scenario with you dear readers! There is still time to back Terrors of the OctoberNomicon! Consider this scenario a free preview of what’s awaiting you in the finished book. That said, we bring you… Bread of heaven!

Premise: An Ancient Legacy

The continent of North America has had humans living on it for tens of thousands of years. But compared to the age of the Earth, those millennia amount to seconds. Hundreds of millions of years ago the earth was the home of very different lifeforms and deep beneath the oceans they built vast empires. These Elder Things, as they came to be known, used technology crafted from the primordial soup of life, living machines to build their empire. Chief among their devices were the Shoggoths. 

They were both slaves and tools, serving as weapons, builders, and even farmers, taking in the elements around them and producing food for their masters.  But The Elder Things could not rule forever.  They were destroyed by enemies from outside and within, as their own creations turned against them. Once their rule had fallen many of the Shoggoths were eradicated by the Elder Thing’s enemies, but some escaped. These fled to safety, and fell asleep beneath the ice of frozen continents, the darkest reaches of the sea, or the deepest depths of the Earth. 

One of these was a self-sustaining Auto-trophic Shoggoth. It found a thermal vent and settled in for a long nap. Oceans receded, new land masses rose and eventually mining in the area uncovered the creature. As luck would have it the person who discovered it was Cotton Marigold, a psychically sensitive preacher and Joseph Smith style spiritual archaeologist looking to establish his own religion. This normally docile variety of the Shoggoth bonded with the preacher and together they formed a commune. 

Moving forward a few decades, and the cult is pulling in anyone who wanders in or they can kidnap. After a few weeks of starvation and indoctrinating possible new members the preacher blesses the disciple with “endless plenty”. This entails forcing a polyp from the Autotroph Shoggoth into the person where it then takes over their entire digestive system. This eliminates their need for food as the polyp grows like a tumorous mass in their midsections. Eventually, like a Hydatid cyst, the growth bursts free and rejoins the original Shoggoth. 

Involving the Investigators – The investigators could be deserters, outlaws, hobos, or bootleggers that stumble onto a settlement far off the beaten path in a particularly harsh area. Other possible adventure Hooks are: 

  • Investigators are hired by the parents of one of a Cult victim to rescue them (see Prudence Croshaw). 
  • The investigator’s car breaks down in Utah on the way to another investigation.
  • Investigators are hired by an established religious organization in the area who are worried about competition on their turf.
  • An Investigator’s own friends or family members have fallen victim of the cult

The people living at the settlement appear to be healthy and prosperous, though some look abnormally large and bloated. No one entering the community may leave without eventually receiving the blessing and, once blessed, they never want to leave. If the Investigators want to survive and remain human they must uncover the truth about the community of Mountain Root; somehow either destroy the abomination beneath the mine or break its hold on the community; and escape back into the still dangerous, but mundane, heartland of America.

Introduction: The scenario involves a group of investigators coming to the hidden religious community of Mountain Root. There they’ll hopefully learn of the grotesque and horrifying creature behind the “Church of The Bread of Heaven.” The adventure can take as long as the investigators manage to survive, but the head of the church is not patient and will quickly attempt to force his horrible Blessing of Endless Plenty on any unfortunates drawn into the town’s deadly web.

Summary and Goals:

First and foremost, investigators must survive, remain sane, and escape. The best way to accomplish this is to gain an understanding of what is going on in Mountain Root. Thus possible win conditions for the scenario are:

  • The power of the cult rests in its leader, Cotton Marigold. The surest way to survive and prevent any more victims is to destroy him. This will cause the Autotrophic Shoggoth to fall dormant once again.  
  • Destroying the Shoggoth also kills Cotton, but doing so is extremely difficult  (if not impossible) due to its huge size and natural immunities. One possibility exists, but it is obscure and dangerous. One of Cotton’s oldest supplicants possesses an antigen, gained through a mutation when she was “Blessed”, giving her the ability to terminate the Shoggoth.
  • Another way of dealing with the Shoggoth is to collapse the mine on top of its resting place. After the mine became unstable and was abandoned, Cotton has done nothing to reinforce it or clear away the disused mining equipment. Crates of old dynamite, usable but very unstable, can be located and put to good use by careful investigators.
  • SECONDARY OBJECTIVE – as a secondary objective, the Investigators might wish to rescue the survivors of the Lakeman family, an unfortunate clan of musical performers currently being indoctrinated into the cult against their will.  

Cast of Characters

George Lakeman: Loving father, and poor businessman

Greta Lakeman: Brave mother

George Lakeman Jr: Loyal son, and passable piano player

Ginny, Geneveve, Georgia: the ‘Lakeman Sisters’ Trio of singers

Geoffrey, Gerald, and Ginger: The youngest Lakeman children

Prudence Croshaw: A reluctant cultist trying to do something right

Willie Bean: A desperate traitor

Drake Devaroe: A man after his own interests, a politician

Goody Genteel: A kind Librarian at the end of her life

Lucas Boreman: Saloon Owner and cultist

Ted and Marcy McGinley: A corrupt but tragic married couple.

Libby Lincoln: School matron. And keeper of the Guardians

Pollyanna Goodbelly: Glossolalist and mindless incubator for the Shoggoth antigen.

Sheriff Brett “Bottomless” Baker:  Predator with a badge, and a big mouth…

Elder Prognosticator Cotton Marigold: The Leader of the Mountain Root Community, Preacher, and the brain for an eldritch biomass created 100 million years ago.

The Town of Mountain Root – a small growing community of 500 people located in Beaver county in southern Utah near the Nevada border. It sits in a wide ravine beneath the shadow of a mountain that once housed the mine that first attracted settlers. The mine itself went dry nearly 40 years ago but the town’s founder Cotton Marigold had found a new opportunity.

Elder Prognosticator Cotton Marigold – Around 1885 Cotton had run afoul of several states due to his confidence schemes involving spiritual archaeology.  (Spiritual Archaeology is the practice of claiming divine inspiration or guidance to find long lost treasures related to the belief that Christ had traveled to the Americas and founded a ministry there.) 

Cotton does have a latent sensitivity to the supernatural and has been institutionalized in the past. This taught him to better control and hide his gifts. He found that moving west away from the sea made his fitful dreams and visions less severe. 

He learned to use his gifts to take advantage of gullible and desperate people making their way out to the harsh and unforgiving west looking for prosperity. Cotton almost came to ruin when he trespassed onto the territory of a certain church in Utah.  Spiritual Archaeology was not a new scam and that state’s religious and political elders were unhappy with Cotton fleecing their flock.

With the last of his seed money Cotton acquired an abandoned mining operation after receiving a premonition stronger than anything he’d felt before.  Hoping it meant a true opportunity for wealth he got the mine operational. He worked his men day and night plying them with first sermons, then alcohol, women, and the foreign drugs he’d learned so much of in the cities. No gold or silver or copper was found, but nearly a year later a massive cavern was discovered.

The sounds that came from its depths broke Cotton’s hold on his men and they began to flee. Some died in the mine, others ran wailing out into the barren wastes. With the cavern unsealed Cotton heard a sound like a voice clearly for the first time. Fear gave way to cunning realization. This was no God but a simple frightened creature with the intellect of a child, something he could communicate with and manipulate to his own ends. 

Descending into the cavern, Cotton realized the mine was unstable. There was nothing more for him on the surface, only the burning heat of the desert and the knives of the church elders.  As he turned his lantern on, illumination met the gaze of dozens of eyes encased in a massive expanse of tumorous flesh. Mouths lined with buzzing sawblades formed among the cystic oozing bubbles and the mouths gurgled “Teki li li Teki Li Li Tekki LiLi!!!”  Cotton fell screaming to the ground, the last of his sanity melting.

Cotton and the thing soon became fast friends until they could not tell where the man ended and the Shoggoth began. The thing that emerged from the cave, years later, wore the skin of Cotton but was something much more. It knew how best to grow the ministry Cotton Marigold dreamed of.

Mountain Root’s first citizens were settlers and outlaws who happened upon the ravine below the mine and were converted. Next came people abducted from a few surrounding towns – towns whose abandonment would never be noticed.  Others even sought out the community hoping for a freedom from the brutal heat, relentless starvation, and thirst of the barren salt covered land.

For a long time, there sufficient people for the town to grow, but that has now changed as all the surrounding towns have been absorbed.

The Blessing: What came out of the mine retained much of Cotton’s personality, including his lust for power and wealth. Yet, the merging was not one way and the Autotrophic Shoggoth passed on its need to provide. This manifests as “The Blessing”, during which Cotton chooses a worthy recipient and implants a portion of the Shoggoth into the supplicant, a cystic mass that consumes the hosts digestive system replacing it with a new organ that metabolizes nearby compounds to provide nutrition for the hosts. 

Unfortunately, the organ continues to grow until it erupts from the host to rejoin the Shoggoth. This of course kills the host but for decades sustains them, removing the need to eat, drink, produce waste, and grants immunity to virtually all sicknesses. They also become placid and compliant. Those blessed in this way show no outward signs except for a gradual unnatural bloating of their abdomen. For those struggling to survive this might seem a good deal. Those who refuse are subjected to isolation, starvation, and drugs to quickly break their will until they agree to the blessing. 

The blessing can be forced on a person; these are called Guardians. For them the effects are more extreme with immediate bloating loss of intelligence and other deformities. These are often hidden away and can be used as a means of defending the community if threatened. In the form of spewers, and swipers.

Spewers, as the name implies, attack by vomiting forth a nauseating stream of semi-solid pus. The stream can blind, poison and interrupt attacks.

Spewer, Mutated Blessed Polyps.

 STR 50        CON 70    SIZ 50      INT 25         POW 50        DEX 50         HP 12  

 Move: 6 Build: 1

Damage Bonus: +0

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Cystic Vomit 45% (Mild Poison – 1D10 damage, causes blindness and nausea).

Dodge: 0

Defenses: None

SAN Loss: 1D4/1D6 after seeing them vomit their wretched insides

Swipers: These are the least deformed of the three types of guardians, and could be mistaken for normal townsfolk. That is, until they attack. During an attack,  one or more appendages (The GM rolls a D3: 1=arm, 2=head, 3=Both arms) explodes and a pseudopod covered in cysts and mucus erupts from the stump of the swiper to attack. Swipers without a head have no problem finding their target.

 Swipers, Cursed enforcers of the Church.

 STR 80        CON 80    SIZ 60       INT 25         POW 50        DEX 80         HP 16  

 Move: 8 Build: 1  

Damage Bonus: +1D4

 Attacks: 1, 2 (see above)

 Fighting: Pseudopod 60%, 1D6+DB

 Dodge:40

 Defenses: None

 SAN Loss: 1D4/1D6, after their head or arms explode with Pseudopods

Persons and Places of Interest: Mountain Root has several places that are common among town and several citizens that the party could interact with:

The General store: Though residents have no need for food they still trade here for supplies like building materials and clothing. Run by Ted McGinley and his wife Marcy, a middle aged childless couple. Both are blessed and nearing the end of their life cycle. Ted is far more bloated than Margery, who could be mistaken for being pregnant. Ted still runs the store and interacts but can’t be reasoned with. Marcy, knowing that her husband will soon pass, is more dedicated than ever to the cult and does her best to deceive the investigators to remain in Mountain Root.

Ted McGinley, former human/Shoggoth polyp

 STR 40        CON 25    SIZ 90       INT 30         POW 60        DEX 30         HP 07  

 Move: 4  

Build: 2 

Damage Bonus: 0

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Burst Knockback and SAN check but no damage

Dodge 0

Defenses: None

SAN Loss: 1D6/1D10 if the investigators see him explode.

Marcy McGinley, Merchant and Loyal wife

STR 40       CON 60   SIZ 60          INT 60          POW 65 DEX 40 

APP 40       EDU 50     SAN 00    Luck 65         HP 12           Age: 50

Move: 6

Build: 1

Damage Bonus: 0

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Kitchen knife 40% 1D4

Dodge: 20

Skills: Fast Talk 60%, First Aid 40%, Intimidate 20%, Listen 40%, Locksmith 60%, Mechanical Repair 10%, Navigation 40%, Persuade 60%, Spot Hidden 40% 

Notes: Marcy, though insane won’t attack or be aggressive unless the investigators attack her husband.

The Saloon: This location serves more as a general meeting place and social club than a tavern, and residents gather and play at the motions of life. There is a kitchen and newcomers seeking food can get a facsimile of it here. Several medium sized polyps from the Shoggoth produce a semi-solid protein that can be prepared to resemble beef, chicken or whatever else the customer ordered. It’s nontoxic but also non-nutritious, having no flavor and an unpleasant gelatinous texture. The manager Lucas Boreman, was blessed a decade ago. He is a close confidant of Cotton and reports any newcomers.

Lucas’ only employee, Prudence Croshaw, was blessed a year ago and had to welcome it. She knows there’s no going back but doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else.  However, she is hesitant to act in a subversive manner, and investigators will have to win her trust before she offers assistance. Her parents, Benjamin and Gabriela, would pay for any information about their daughter’s whereabouts though that story will only end in tragedy.

Lucas Boreman, Merchant and Manager of Manna Saloon

STR 80       CON 80     SIZ 65        INT 65         POW 60 DEX 50 

APP 60       EDU 65       SAN 00    Luck 60         HP 16           Age: 45

Move: 8

Build: 1

Damage Bonus: +1D4

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Club 60% 1D6+DB

Dodge: 20

Skills: Fast Talk 60%, Intimidate 50%, Listen 65%, Spot Hidden 60%, Throw 50% 

Prudence Croshaw, Waitress and reluctant cultist

STR 45       CON 50     SIZ 50         INT 65          POW 55 DEX 75 

APP 75       EDU 50     SAN 30    Luck 55         HP 10           Age: 18

Move: 8

Build: 1

Damage Bonus: +0

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Straight Razor 55% 1D4

Dodge:50

Skills: Fast Talk 60%, First Aid 55%, Hide 60%, Listen 50%, Locksmith 55%, Spot Hidden 60%, Stealth 55%, Throw 45% 

 The Sheriff’s Office –  Mountain Root has no sheriff or lawmen, as Cotton believes that Faith in God will protect them. Faith, and the isolated nature of the town, makes it easy to prevent newcomers from escaping and seeking help. Those that cause trouble though are considered pests and that is where Brett “Bottomless” Baker comes in.

Enormous both in height and girth, Baker was an old gunfighter and criminal. He came to Mountain Root looking to cause trouble, and he found more than he was able to handle. After being subdued, Elder Cotton took mercy on the dying man, offering the old scoundrel a peaceful retirement taking care of other pests that came to disturb his goodly people. His blessing is unique as Brett Baker can eat and enjoys it greatly. Beneath his clothes his arms, legs, and head are bonded to a new torso of dense Shoggoth muscle, which easily forms a massive maw filled with teeth and able to grind an entire human body in paste in less than a minute. He patrols about the town behaving in a amiable way but long term contact begins to reveal his bestial nature.

Brett “Bottomless” Baker, Mutated Sheriff

STR 90        CON 90    SIZ 85       INT 40         POW 40        DEX 60         HP 20  

Move: 1

Build: 1

Damage Bonus: +1D4 (slam), +1D6 (Bite)

Attacks: 2 slams, or 1 Bite

Fighting:  Slam, 60% 1D4+DB

  Fighting: Bite 45 1D8+DB

Dodge 40

Defenses: 2 points of Shoggoth muscle

SAN Loss: 1D6/1D8, once his ravenous chest mouth is exposed

The Chapel of Endless Plenty: This large open floor building was erected against the rock wall of the old mine and has its own private entrance into its deepest depths. The Chapel also serves as the center of the town’s administrative and spiritual functions with quarters for the town leaders, who meet daily with the elder Cotton Marigold..

Mayor Drake Devaroe: Swarthy with thick black hair and a goatee waxed to a wicked point. It’s doubtful any sophisticated electorate would trust him. But off the backroads in rural America he can charm any crowd. Not that he needs to, as there are no elections; all power is derived from Elder Cotton. As a testament to his skill, Mayor Devaroe has managed to keep Cotton from blessing him, contending that he must sacrifice paradise in order to be an emissary to the wider world. Drake’s proof is having lured more than twenty settlers to Mountain Root, including the Lakeman family. His reward for these victims is the occasional foray out of town, as well as having his way with any member of the community when he chooses. The vast majority are so compliant they barely notice his violations.

Recently he’s noticed a decline in the amount of converts and an increase in the congregation who have “popped”. Drake’s instincts tell him that he might be nearing the end of his political career in Utah, and hopes the newcomers can provide a distraction so he can make a clean getaway. 

Drake Devaroe, Mayor, Henchman with a fancy title

 STR 40       CON 50     SIZ 60          INT 70         POW 75   DEX 65 

APP 70       EDU 70      SAN 45    Luck 75         HP 11           Age: 40

Move: 8 Build: 1

Damage Bonus: 0

Attacks: 1

  Fighting: Dirk 60% 1D4

Firearms: Derringer 50% 1D6+2

Dodge: 50% (25/5)

Skills: Other Language (Spanish) 40%, Drive 60%, Fast Talk 75%, Intimidate 30%, Listen 60%, Locksmith 45, Spot Hidden 50%, Stealth 40%, Throw 30% 

Pollyanna Goodbelly: A Glossolalist for the church  (one who speaks in tongues). She is the longest lived of Cotton’s Blessed, a fact that concerns the old man to no end. As Cotton Marigold delivers his sermon, Pollyanna sits to his right on a dais.  She acts as the church’s oracle, brought out at the peak of the sermon’s fervor to babble in the “Ancient tongue of the true God of this land”. She appears as an enormous woman, with only her head visible, poking out from the top of a curtain. Beneath the curtain her body had drastically mutated, becoming a large perfectly spheroid cyst, with atrophied arms and legs hanging from it. Where inclined to move she can levitate and glide freely about. 

Cotton is afraid to disturb this thing. But, if the party were to try to encounter Pollyanna, survive the sanity check and communicate with her they could gain access to a powerful weapon against Cotton and the source of his power. When the Elder Things needed to dispose of a Shoggoth they employed the creature’s immune system to do the job. The creature inside Pollyanna is a large antigen, capable of making the Autotrophic Shoggoth destroy itself.

Pollyanna Goodbelly, Cocoon

 STR 40        CON 35    SIZ 90       INT 15         POW 90        DEX 15         HP 08  

Move: 4 floating Build: 2

Damage Bonus: 0

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Brawl 25%, 1D3+DB

Dodge 10

Defenses: 0

 SAN Loss: 1D4/1D8

Antigen, Ancient failsafe

 STR 65        CON 90   SIZ 75    INT 00         POW 90        DEX 90         HP 25  

Move: 10 floating

Build: 1

Damage Bonus: 0

Attacks: 1

Fighting: immune response 60% against Shoggoth Death

Dodge 60

Defenses: immune to non-enchanted weapons

 SAN Loss: 1D6/1D10

Willie Bean. One of the first people the investigators might meet upon entering Mountain Root. He serves as the town’s official welcoming committee. Willie is meant to be a comical figure, a little person in worn patched overalls, ambling up to strangers on his donkey, clutching his hat, stuttering and stammering as he tries to perform his duties. Unfortunately, he is a potentially dangerous figure. Willie desperately wants to be blessed, wishing to feel the peace and bliss he sees in other residents.  However, Cotton sees more value in keeping Willie as a spy, messenger, and occasionally as an assassin. Willie Bean has little use in a fair fight but is just the right size to slash at a victim’s legs, cutting tendons to prevent escape.  Willie’s had a hard life before coming to the town and never felt right about hurting folks. But he’s done it a lot since arriving in Mountain Root and he’s started to develop a taste for it.

Willie Bean, Con man and , Abused Cultist

STR 60       CON 65       SIZ 30        INT 50         POW 60 DEX 50 

APP 40       EDU 45       SAN 25    Luck 60         HP 13           Age: 25

Move: 1 Build: 1/2

 Damage Bonus: +1D4

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Knife 60% 1D6+DB

Dodge: 40

Skills: Fast Talk 70%, Listen 60%, Locksmith 60%, Spot Hidden 70%, Stealth 75%. 

Mrs. Libby Lincoln: Her official title is School Matron, of the “school” located inside the chapel (specifically behind the chapel in an old section of the mine. Mrs. Lincoln’s real duties are to oversee and pacify the Guardians, the mutants created by blessings that protect the community from dangerous trespassers. Mrs. Lincoln has not been blessed and though her experience has driven her insane, she is still a seductive cantor and hell with a whip.

Libby Lincoln, Teacher, School Matron

STR 60       CON 60   SIZ 50          INT 75          POW 75   DEX 80 

APP 85       EDU 80        SAN 00    Luck 75         HP 13           Age: 25

Move: 8 Build: 1

 Damage Bonus: +1D4

Attacks: 1

Fighting: whip 1D3+DB

Dodge: 60

 Skills: Other Language (Spanish) 60%, Fast Talk 40%, First Aid 30%, Intimidate 60%, Listen 30%, Spot Hidden 50%, Stealth 50%

Goody Genteel: The town librarian, clerk, mayor’s secretary and anything else that requires a superhuman level of patience, is Goody Genteel. She takes on everything with the same serenity, including the knowledge that her life span is coming to a close.  Goody mostly stays in her office in the municipal building, keeping behind her desk in order to hide her ever growing abdomen.

Goody Genteel, Former human/Shoggoth polyp

STR 40        CON 25    SIZ 50       INT 75         POW 60        DEX 30         HP 07  

Move: 4

Build: 2 

Damage Bonus: 0

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Burst Knockback and SAN check but no damage

Dodge 15

Defenses: 0

SAN Loss: 1D6/1D10 if they see her explode

Elder Prognosticator Cotton Marigold: He is the man who started it all, the heart, soul and pseudopod of the church. The body Cotton now occupies is just a portion of the larger Shoggoth mass, which has molded itself into the shape of a man wearing finely tailored vestments, a fatherly head of Snow White hair, and matching beard. His eyes blaze and his voice thunders with the will of God. Cotton never travels far from his pulpit behind which is an entrance to the cavern with the rest of his body. If attacked growths from the larger mass extend to join with Cotton. All pretense is then dropped as the fragile human flesh is ripped away, opening like a budding flower of bloody viscera cover with unblinking eyes and biting mouths.

 Cotton Marigold, Hybrid Conman/Shoggoth

 STR 20        CON 20    SIZ 20       INT 85         POW 90        DEX 00         HP 30  

 Move: 8

 Build: 2

 Damage Bonus: 1D8

 Attacks: 2 Pseudopod or 1 Bite

 Fighting Pseudopod 60% 1D8+DB

 Fighting Bite 45% 2D6+DB

 Dodge 15

 Defenses: 5 pts dense muscle 

 SAN Loss: 1D6/1D10

The Lakeman Family: This family are the latest unfortunate victims to have stumbled into this grotesque narrative. Recently this large family of performers were lured into the town. After more than a week here the family knows they are prisoners. The matriarch Greta Lakeman tried to escape with disastrous results (See: That Old Timey Tent Revival)

George Lakeman Sr, Performer, Father

STR 60       CON 60     SIZ 65        INT 65          POW 60 DEX 65 

APP 65       EDU 75      SAN 55    Luck 60         HP 12           Age: 45

Move: 8

Build: 1

Damage Bonus: +0

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Brawl 45% 1D3+DB

Dodge 50:

Skills: Fast Talk 60%, First Aid 60%, Listen 40%, Locksmith 35%, Mechanical Repair 45%, Navigation 20%, Spot Hidden 35% 

 Greta Lakeman, business manager, Wife and mother

STR 60       CON 50   SIZ 45          INT 75          POW 80   DEX 75 

APP 70       EDU 65      SAN 60    Luck 80         HP 10           Age: 35

Move: 8

Build: 1

Damage Bonus: +1D4

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Knife 60% 1D4+ DB

Dodge: 60

Skills: Other Language (Spanish) 50%, Fast Talk 60%, First Aid 50%, Listen 45%, Navigation 60%, Spot Hidden 40%, Stealth 45% 

George Lakeman Jr, Performer, Piano player

STR 75       CON 70     SIZ 65        INT 50          POW 60 DEX 65 

APP 65       EDU 45      SAN 55    Luck 60         HP 14          Age: 17

Move: 8

Build: 1

Damage Bonus: +1D4

Attacks: 1

Fighting: Baseball bat 50% 1D6+DB

Dodge 50

Skills: Art: Piano 60%, Fast Talk 60%, First Aid 60%, Listen 40%, Locksmith 35%, Mechanical Repair 45%, Navigation 20%, Spot Hidden 35%  

Ginny, Genevieve, Georgia Lakeman, Singers, Lakeman Trio

STR 40       CON 40     SIZ 35          INT 60          POW 50 DEX 50 

APP 55       EDU 45      SAN 60    Luck 50         HP 8          Age: 15, 13, 12

Move: 8

Build: 1

Damage Bonus: 

Attacks: Fighting: Brawl 25%, 1D3+DB

Dodge: 25

Skills: Other Language (Spanish) 50%, Fast Talk 60%, First Aid 50%, Listen 45%, Art: Singing 60%, Stealth 45% 

Part 1: Hard Road to Heaven

Introduction:  As the sun rises over the horizon you all take note of the panoramic splendor, the grandeur of the mountain ranges in the distance. Closer by, smaller hills stand cyclopean, In the shadows they almost look like the skyline of some unknown city. Perhaps they were in some long ago aeon?

Keepers should begin by having investigators roll a Spot Hidden in order to spot the bleached bones of an animal (donkey). A hard success allows them to also spot what looks like a shed snake skin belonging to one of the many species of rattlesnake in the area. Should anyone roll a Critical failure they are attacked by a Rattlesnake,  bite isn’t fatal but quite painful, requiring the victim to receive medical attention to alleviate the symptoms.

Rattlesnake

STR 35       CON 35         SIZ 15      DEX 90           POW 55       DEX 55           HP 06

Move: 8 Build: -2

Damage Bonus: -2

Attacks: 1

Fighting – Bite 40%, 1D4-DB + venom (Mild 1D3 damage, 1D8 hours, bruising, swelling, pain, necrosis) 

Dodge 45% (22/9)

Skills: Stealth 90%

There are no further incidents along the road provided investigators have water. Just before the sun reaches its highest point they start the gradual descent into the ravine and be spared the worst of the sun. By night they reach the town of Mountain Root.   Further on there are a few dwellings along a foot worn path. Even the smallest homes are wood dwellings, simple but solidly built. People are already lighting oil lamps and torches. To ward off the encroaching darkness. Even if the investigators see some people none of them approach to respond when called to they just head inside.

Flavor Text: inside the town proper you are faced with a sight from what seems like a bygone age. Dusty dirt roads lit by oil lamps are bordered by hitching posts and simple one story buildings. As you enter there is a stable to your right and a dark stone building that  must be the sheriff’s office. In front there is a building that in any other town would be a saloon.  People are gathered there but there is none of the raucousness that would accompany a saloon. There is music but it’s simple and gentle. There are already a few people strolling along the lamp lit streets and the breeze blowing through is likewise gentle and pleasant.

Before the investigators have a chance to decide where they’re going to go a person riding a donkey pulls up. The rider, a little person in a wide comical hat, dismounts and introduces himself as Willie Bean, “Mountain Root’s welcoming committee.” The donkey is calm and dry while Willie is breathless, flustered and sweating, falling over himself in an effort to be friendly. He points the party to the saloon where they can get water or a soda, some food and maybe a room for the night. Willie cautions that that the town doesn’t allow smoking or drinking alcohol.

Keeper’s Note: There are animals: horses, Donkeys and a few heads of cattle enough for necessary labor and keeping up appearances. All of them are Blessed and consume and excrete nothing. If the investigators make spot hidden checks they can see there is no dung, or flies and none of the smells associated with such. 

If the investigators follow Willie’s directions they find the saloon contains two dozen tables, nearly all filled with various townsfolk. At the far end of the room is a large stage, and off to the side is a disused bar.  The audience is enjoying a performance by the Lakeman Sisters Trio (Ginny 15, Genevieve 13, and Georgia 12). They are accompanied by their elder Brother George Lakeman Jr (16). on the piano. Adding to the performance is a tumbling exhibition by the three youngest Lakeman children Geoffrey, age 10, Gerald, age 8, and finally Ginger, age 5.

The saloon’s hostess, Prudence Croshaw, leads investigators to a table, brings them a pitcher of water and some glasses, before taking their orders. There is no charge, she informs them – “We are a community blessed by the lord with endless plenty. We seek no profit, only to provide to those in need.” If pressed for further explanation she repeats the same statement without missing a beat. Whatever the investigators orders, except for alcohol, no matter how ridiculous she assures them that the kitchen is able to prepare it before rushing off to put in the order. Soon the performance ends and the crowd respectfully applauds. The family patriarch, George Lakeman Sr., then comes on stage to thank the audience, saying there’ll be another performance tomorrow afternoon before ushers his enormous brood backstage.

The investigator’s food is delivered and while it looks appealing just tastes wrong.  Not bad, just dry and bland and with an unsettling texture. Everyone’s meals taste the same, and if Prudence is questioned she explains that the “food is made from Manna; the blessed wheat that God gave to the Israelites.“ Those making successful Psychology checks detect that she’s frightened and feeling somehow guilty as she explains this.

The main point of this “Manna” is that though it leaves the patron sated it provides no nutritional value. Within a few hours it decays and passes through the systems of those ingesting it. Repeated meals induce diarrhea and though the patron is eating they’re slowly starving.  This makes visitors much more susceptible to indoctrination 

Several of the patrons start to calmly observe the interaction. Investigators might notice that those watching closest are the diners with visible firearms, although no one appears to be reaching for them. The manager, Lucas Boreman intervenes and offers fresh meals in the morning and free rooms for the night for the trouble. The manager explains that with the poor roads traveling in the dark and bitter cold of night would be a death sentence.

Assuming investigators accept the offer they’re taken to a back area where there are more than a dozen rooms. The Lakeman family occupies several of them. The investigators can choose their rooms and have time to rest and talk. They are, of course, free to leave and wander about Mountain Root.  They are warned by Prudence that the lamps are snuffed in another hour (around 9PM) and after that everyone has to be indoors. If pressed as to what happens if anyone is found outside after curfew she mutters that the “Sheriff” will issue them a fine.  If anyone attempts to sneak out that they find the windows of the rooms are too narrow to squeeze through.  Once the investigators are ready to bed down a note is passed under their door, followed by a short knock and the sound of rapidly withdrawing footsteps. The note reads, “HELP US!!”, and no one is visible in the hallway. 

Part 2: That Old Timey Tent Revival

A Rough Morning:  Upon waking the investigators should make CON checks, Success=no penalty, Fail= -5 to all skill checks indicating they’re extremely hungry despite having eaten the night before, Critical Fail= -10 to all skill checks as they’re painfully hungry, nauseous, and suffering from diarrhea. Everyone notices the smell of a delicious breakfast being prepared and a bell rings from the tavern hall. When the investigators head to the hall Mr. Boreman is there with Prudence setting tables. The Lakeman family are also seated and poking at their food.

Those making a successful Psychology check realize the Lakemans are quite distressed. They look like they’ve had a restless night and Mr. Lakeman seems gaunt, as though he hasn’t eaten in a week. Mr. Boreman is all smiles and invites the investigators to eat. Behind him are large dishes with freshly cooked eggs, bacon, sausages, shredded potatoes and pots of steaming coffee. Prudence rushes to the back to retrieve extra linens and silverware.

The investigators can choose to help themselves, or not, Mr. Boreman is friendly and helpful regardless. The investigators who critically failed earlier now have to make a SAN check to resist eating, 0/1 point and they sit down to ravenously eat until they feel full. The food, despite smelling wonderful, still has no flavor and the same unpleasant texture as dinner. Mr. Boreman, if asked responds to any inquiry about this with “I’ve seen this before… The world outside is so terrible it numbs people to the beauty that God has placed in the world. That’s why we stay in such a remote town, because we’ve all have learned to find strength in our faith.” at no point do the investigators see him or Prudence eat…

After breakfast the investigators are free to explore the town. Willie Bean arrives and is eager to show them around. Both he and Mr. Boreman tell investigators that if they need supplies their first stop should be the general store. In a town as small as Mountain Root the store should have all they need to get to the next settlement. They’ll repeat the warning that the next settlement is too far away to reach with limited supplies. Before they leave Boreman invites the investigators to mass, which will be held near sunset at the chapel. Mr. Boreman claps Mr. Lakeman on the shoulder and indicates that his children are performing with the choir, to which the haggard looking father seems to grow pale.

Exploring Mountain Root: What the investigators do until the mass is up to them but logically they should head to the general store for supplies and transportation. Other possible points of interest might include:

  • Attempting to speak to Prudence alone 
  • Attempting to speak to the Lakeman family 
  • Going to the municipal building to speak to the mayor or learn about the town
  • Going to The Library
  • The sheriff’s office

The Investigator’s Shadow – Willie Bean doggedly stays with the investigators wherever they go in Mountain Root, always trying to be helpful and comically endearing. If the party splits he tries to accompany the investigator who was the nicest to him. If the investigator he’s with tries to sneak into the chapel or go to the mine, he’ll follow along and may try to eliminate them. Otherwise he attempts to gain their trust as much as possible.

Flavor Text: Mountain Root during the morning is quite idyllic.   The shade from the ravine cuts the harsh heat from the sun and the breeze is pleasant and mild and even carries the scent of lavender despite there being no visible flowers. People are already out and about, couples walking holding hands.  One cheery, very Jolly man jogs past. Another person, a very pregnant woman, glides on seemingly unhindered by her impending burden. As you all wander the streets whether together or individually, every citizen locks eyes with you… Then they smile, nod and continue on their way…

Keeper’s Information: As the investigators move about town and the day winds on they may begin to wonder where the town’s children are. The answer given is that they are off playing somewhere or at school with Mrs. Lincoln, the matron. Successful Psychology checks indicate this is untrue, but further questioning goes nowhere (they are too loyal and compliant to be charmed, intimidated, or persuaded into spilling the sect’s secrets). The Blessing has “poor” results when given to young children, and even a scoundrel like Cotton sees no profit in harming children this way… So the few children that do come to Mountain Root are fed to Sheriff Brett!

A Childless Community: As the investigators move about town and as the day winds on they may begin to wonder where any of the town’s children are. The answer given is that they are about playing somewhere or at school with Mrs. Lincoln the matron. Insight or psychology checks will indicate this is untrue but any further questioning will go nowhere. The Blessing has “poor” results when given to young children, and even a scoundrel like Cotton sees no profit in harming children this way… So the few children that do come to Mountain Root are fed to Sheriff Brett!

Possible Investigation Results

The General Store: Upon entering the investigators notice that the store is larger than they expected. It is well organized and clean with a myriad of tools building materials, clothes and textiles. However, there are also no rations, cooking utensils, coffee, tea, vegetables or meats. In fact, there aren’t any traveling supplies of any kind, just things that residents might need for maintenance of the town.

The manager of the store, Ted McGinley, struggles to fit his ample midsection through the door from his office. For a moment he stares absently as his cloudy eyes focus on the investigators as he waddles towards them. He isn’t just obese but terribly bloated, with pale flesh erupting from his untucked shirt. His hair is disheveled and patchy.  As he gets closer his lips quiver struggling to form a smile. A successful Medicine indicates this sort of bloating is a sign of severe illness, while a Hard success identifies it as the sort of thing that only happens to decaying corpses.

Ted seems to hear and understand the investigators but struggles to respond and soon begins sweating and drooling uncontrollably. He leans on a sturdy shelf that creaks under his weight. In the nick of time the storekeeper’s wife comes in through the front door. Margery McGinley, an older woman, too old to perhaps be with child, yet with an extremely swollen belly, comes to her Husband’s aid. 

Margery is not nearly as bloated as Ted, but is still quite large. Her eyes, though, are clear and sparkling.  She sends her husband back into his office, and then deftly addresses the investigator’s concerns. She’s an adept liar and explains that they’re having a “few” shortages. She claims a supply wagon is coming tomorrow and if it doesn’t arrive she’ll send a wagon out to the nearest trading post. If necessary, she apologies for what will be a two-day delay getting supplies.

Attempting to speak to Prudence alone: A lone investigator can approach Prudence and lower her guard (+1 Bonus dice to Persuade attempts). She’ll explain how she came to be in Mountain Root. Prudence shares that she was a runaway from neglectful parents, wandering the state until she was found starving and half dead by Mayor Devaroe. Prudence was brought to Elder Cotton where she was taught the faith. 

At this point she closes up and Investigators must make a Hard Persuade check get her to continues. She explains that she didn’t want the “Blessing”, but was shut up on the “Hot Box” until she begged to be let out. At this point she breaks down and hysterically pleads with the investigators to save her.

Investigators making a Knowledge Check know that a “Hot Box” might refer to a common torture method for prisoners involving locking the subject in a confined metal box exposed to the sun. As the metal heats up the victim within is latterly cooked inside.

Speak to the mayor / learning about the town– The investigators going to the municipal building find a simple but well-built one story near the chapel. There they have the opportunity to meet the Mayor Drake Devaroe, a lecherous and thoroughly odious man who enjoys making both suggestive and threatening comments. Investigators making a successful Charm, Fast Talk, or Persuade check are granted permission to explore the town records. With a grin he comments “we are simple people with a simple history, just try not to disturb our librarian.” The Librarian Goody Genteel, sits behind her desk quietly pretending to sip at an empty cup.

In a rear room of the municipal building there is a small library, mostly books and records once owned by the founder Cotton Marigold. These are mostly ledgers indicating the founding of the mine, and a timeline of its operation until its closure due to structural failure. Points of interest are the shutdown of the mine shaft elevator, and an external lift from the surface to the bottom of the ravine. A switchback staircase running the length of the lift was then used to transport men and equipment. There are even records of supplies that were brought in just before the closure, including several crates of dynamite. Less dry material includes books on the paranormal, remote viewing, Remote writing, séances and psychic phenomena. 

Investigators making a successful Library Use check can locate a few important clues… These are:

  1. Cotton Marigold was a spiritual archeologist, 
  2. It’s obvious from his own writings that he was a con man and that his “research” was part of his confidence schemes. 
  3. He may have some spiritual or psychic sensitivity. 
  4. He continued to write after founding the church, mostly gibberish about god and an end to hunger. 

Investigators rolling a Hard success find evidence that Cotton uncovers a few loose sheets of paper handwritten… notes that perhaps the elder did not intend to leave there. See hand out #1 

Keeper Info: If the handout is discovered it holds a major clue of how to kill the Shoggoth, Pollyanna Goodbelly, a resident with a grotesque mutation, often joins in on Cotton’s sermon “speaking in tongues.” Most of it sounds like “Teka Li Li Teka LiLi Teka LiLiLi”. Killing this creature or convincing it to kill itself releases an antigen that kills Cotton and every piece of the Shoggoth implanted in the town. This, of course, kills every Blessed resident and ensure that no one is ever implanted ever again. 

[Begin Boxed Text]

Handout #1 Handwritten note found within book

Teka LiLi Teka LILI   Just babble words flowing over each other.  So long has it remained, too long, just keeps growing.  Bigger than the rest, biggest follower ever.  Was afraid it would replace me, but I am it and it is me.  She speaks its language Teka LILI TEKA LILILI Just a head on a ball of pus——– Get rid of it Get rid of her————No!! My head Hurts Can’t hear myself think every thought so much. I hear it there always there Teka LILI Teka LILI Teka LILILI… They Built it… Elder… Had to be able to kill it? Tekka LILI Teka LILI Teka LILILI.——— SHE CAN KILL IT!!! I CAN KILL IT!!!   I can Kill MEeeeeee……

[End Boxed Text]

Ms. Genteel responds to inquiries politely and provides what information she can. She explains that the town’s founder was a spiritual archeologist who operated a mine he believed contained ancient artifacts hidden by The Lord. Elder Cotton Marigold eventually found what he’d been looking for and used the artifact to bless the people of Mountain Root. At this Ms. Genteel smiles sadly and pats at her midsection.

Despite appearing healthy she never rises from her desk. Investigators making a successful Spot Hidden Checks reveal that she’s quite overweight.  Most of her bulk is concealed under the desk, and appears out of proportion with the delicate upper body. Those making a Hard success notice something even more disturbing – the entire time that investigators have been speaking with her Ms. Genteel hasn’t taken a single breath. Those who notice this must make a SAN check 0/1d4.

Attempting to speak to the Lakeman family– George Sr. speaks to the investigators but can’t give them much of any help or useful information as he is nearly insane from stress and grief. He and his family are suffering from extreme malnutrition, in spite of the investigators having seen them eating earlier. George Jr attempts to get the investigators alone, and is of more help than his father. He’ll explain that Mayor Devaroe hired them to perform at Mountain Root. When they arrived their animals fell ill and their supplies went missing after the first week here. Even though they can eat as much as they want they are always starving. Whenever they ask to leave they’re put off with promises of a supply wagon. George’s mother Greta tried to escape, to bring back regular food, help, or get a vehicle they could all leave in. She hasn’t been seen since, and he doesn’t know if his mother is still alive or not. 

Visiting the Sheriff’s office: Investigators visiting here likely won’t stay long, but they may gain some useful information. This can be a dangerous place, as the Sheriff Brett Baker can be provoked to violence if investigators become antagonistic. Within the small brick building are two cramped rusted jail cells (one of which holds a trembling woman wrapped in blankets), a small back room and an oversized desk and chair set sized to match the huge man sitting here.

Brett is curt and rude to the investigators, threatening them outright if they disrespect him. If asked about the woman shaking inside the cell Brett answers, “Just a drunk sleeping it off”.  He’ll then throw a random object at the bars making the prisoner jump and whimper. Alcohol doesn’t cure the blessing but it does break the calming effect of the Shoggoth organ as the polyp has trouble metabolizing alcohol.

The prisoner, Kelly Frisco, was a hopeless alcoholic before she came to Mountain Root looking to be cured. The blessing didn’t have the intended effect and soon enough Kelly constructed a still and found something she could ferment. Kelly isn’t much of an ally but will help if the investigators break her out.

The Tent Revival: As dusk settles over Mountain Root a bell tolls and residents across town head to the chapel. Conspicuously the sheriff, Mr. Boreman, and a few others make sure the investigators also attend. At the same time a squeaking, grinding sound of old machinery echoes across the town, seemingly coming from the chapel.

The chapel is an open meeting hall with only a stage and a few tall lamps for light. It’s standing room only as the placid citizens file in and arrange themselves shoulder to shoulder. There are several persons in plain robes handing out single white flowers to the congregation, and each investigator is given one. Those handing them out are all uniformly pale with slack jaws and dull sleepy eyes, with more than a few of them drooling a pale yellow fluid.

Once inside investigators are herded towards the front row.  Right before the stage are several town folks arranged in a row to form the choir. Chairs are set up on the other side of the stage, upon which are seated the Lakeman family. Upon a dais is a woman covered in a huge sheet so that only her head is visible. Occasionally her head moves back and forth but the woman doesn’t seem conscious. 

Flavor Text: Without warning the choir begins a nondescript hymn and the audience sways and intones in sync with the music. There is an air of familiar ritual to their motions. Soon enough, from behind a curtain comes the leader of this church. He is a man in finely tailored vestments, reminiscent of a military uniform, with a beard and snow white hair. His face is sun darkened and lined from the weight of his responsibilities. The church elder Cotton Marigold holds up his hands and the congregation goes silent.  However, the silence is broken a moment later by the slamming of the doors.

As elder Cotton speaks about the hardships of life and the suffering of the poor, investigators notice a waist high metal box being dragged out from backstage. Two congregants in plain robes unlock the box and pull out shuddering and convulsing Greta Lakeman. She collapses in the fetal position, her bare bodies red and raw from burns. As she is dragged upright she lets out a hysterical cry.  The congregation ignores her suffering as she is dragged before the elder. George Lakeman holds a daughter in each arm, staring blankly, likely in shock. George Jr calls out and tries to rush the towards his mother but the sheriff comes up behind the young man and forces him back into his seat. The rest of the Lakeman family seems too weak or traumatized to take any actions. Those viewing this scene must make a SAN Check for 0/1d4. 

Flavor text: Elder Cotton continues to preach as the prisoner is placed before him, weeping and pleading for mercy. “I offer you a great blessing, one everyone in this humble community has already accepted”, Cotton says, as he gestures to the crowd. They all nod in gratitude. He continues… “You will never want for food or water, sickness will not touch you, and you shall know calm and peace the remainder of your days…”  The crowd lets out a cheer. Greta nods weakly, with this being enough for Cotton he shrieks to the crowd “She Accepts!!! SHE IS SAVED!!!! BEHOLD THE GLORY OF GOD!!!” from his sleeve he produces a writhing mass of suppurating cystic flesh. Holding it over Greta, he hesitates only long enough to let the thick yellow fluid drip down her face before forcefully pushing the mass into her mouth, holding her head steady by her hair with his other hand. Her son is screaming, the crowd is cheering, children wailing. Greta is released, falling to the stage rolling and choking on the floor! The smell of human waste assaults everyone as the poor woman’s bowels release… [Those viewing this must make a SAN CHECK for 1D4/1D6]

Cotton Marigold then turns his attentions to the rest of the family, who are being restrained by congregants. The investigators have several options: They can fight, try to flee, or stay and watch to gather more information. 

Chapel Battle:  Combat takes 6 rounds for investigators to make their way to the doors. In the first three rounds congregants near them try to physically restrain them. If investigators manage to fight past them then they’ll have to face two of the pale drooling congregants who act as community guardians. These are Spewers, and their vomit will sicken and debilitate the investigators, allowing them to be captured by the others. If investigators defeat these two creatures they’ll reach one of the back doors, miraculously unlocked. Once outside the investigators will spot Prudence, barely visible in the shadows, beckoning for them to join her. She ushers them to a hiding place in the library to wait for night and Part 3.

Captured: It the investigators are defeated in the chapel, they are captured. All damage done to them is non-lethal. Once the investigators are all disabled or surrender they’ll be taken back to their rooms in the saloon and locked inside. Sometime later Prudence helps them escape (See Part 3). 

Wait and Watch: The congregants press in against the investigators, restricting their mobility without attacking. They are all smiles and reassuring comments. On the stage, Cotton offers George Sr. and Jr. a chance to join the congregation. Both men staring in stunned silence Greta as shudders and spasms on the stage in a pool of pus, vomit and human waste, her eyes frozen open. Cotton comments about giving them as many chances as they’ll need as he prepares to lead the congregation in another hymnal. This is interrupted when the woman in the huge covered sheet on the dais begins to speak. Murmurs go up among the congregation and Cotton calls for silence as he tentatively approaches her. 

The woman, Pollyanna Goodbelly, begins to gibber in an unknown language.  In a high pitched voice she cries “Tekka LiLi Teka LiLi Teka LiLi Teka LiLiLi” Careful observation of Cotton and a successful Psychology checks reveal that he is deeply nervous hearing this woman speak. His manner becomes defensive as the chanting gets louder and louder before stopping. The strange covered woman returns to her stupor and Cotton abruptly calls an end to the service. He orders the choir to sing everyone out and finally addresses the investigators, telling them “You, our Honored guests, may stay in town as long as you like. We have plenty to share, both of the material and of the spiritual. Mayhap you’ll find divine inspiration this night and in the morning choose to join in our covenant!” 

If investigators don’t fight or attempt to escape they’re gently escorted back to their rooms above the saloon. Mr. Boreman comes with them and tries to make friendly conversation. He answers any questions to the best of his knowledge and offers them a meal before bedtime (to be brought up to their rooms, once they’re locked in). Once back in their rooms investigators find that any bags or items left behind here have been thoroughly searched, and any edible items they had are gone. So whatever real food the investigators had on their person is all that they have left. 

Later that night Prudence comes to their door and offers to help them. Investigators making Psychology rolls find her to be speaking truthfully If the investigators want to also rescue the Lakeman family, she explains that the father and oldest son were taken to the hotboxes. The younger children are in the chapel. Prudence wants to help them as well but they all need to get to a hiding place she’s prepared. If they choose to accept her offer, the investigators must roll a Hard success on a Stealth Checks as a group to make it to Prudence’s hiding place in the library.

Part 3: An Easy Climb Out of Hell…

Once in the Library and momentarily safe, Prudence explains her motivations… That what happened to Greta also happened to her. She always wanted to help others who became trapped here but didn’t know how.  However, recently the mayor offered to take her out of town on one of his “business trips”. Prudence knew he only wants to take advantage of her but, this meant he has a way to leave the Mountain Root. She suspects he has a vehicle hidden somewhere near the top of the ravine, probably among the mining support buildings outside of the old entrance. Unfortunately, getting there means going through the chapel or taking a longer route along the ravine wall. She knows of an old work trail that runs along the disused mine elevator, circumventing the stair entrance within the Chapel

Keepers Note: The investigators must make a plan on what to do based on the clues they’ve hopefully uncovered. If they’ve gained enough information to suspect that the church’s Glossolalic might be someone they can make use of. However, this is a dangerous proposition. Entering the chapel brings investigators into contact with Cotton, and likely triggers the final conflict against the cult. The advantage of this route is that it circumvents numerous encounters with the Mountain Root’s guardian creatures and the town’s monstrous sheriff.

If investigators go directly to the mine they’ll be forced to run a gauntlet of monsters as they move among the old mining buildings and barracks. This ends with a climactic confrontation with the Sheriff. For there to be any hope of avoiding combat Investigators must make an extreme Stealth check. Failure means alerting any nearby monsters.

First: 1D3 citizens and an Spewer

Second: 2 Swipers and a Spewer

Third: The Sheriff.

 Mountain Root citizen, Mutated cultist, 1D3

 STR 60        CON 50    SIZ 60       INT 40         POW 40        DEX 60         HP 00  

 Move: 8

 Build: 1

 Damage Bonus: 1D4

 Attacks: 1

 Fighting: Club 40% 1D4+DB Or Pitchfork 50% 1D6+DB

Dodge 15

Defenses: none

Sanity Loss: None

The Spy –  Further complicating matters is Willie Bean. Willie hasn’t been blessed and laments being used by Elder Cotton to spy on the investigators.  For this he’ll apologize. He knows he’ll never be blessed. Investigators making successful Psychology checks realize he is telling the truths but is holding something back. Those making Hard successes are convinced that he isn’t trustworthy, while those making Extreme success are sure he plans to betray them at the worst possible moment. The investigators are free to make whatever choice they want depending on their results.  If they take him with them Willie Bean proves to be a burden and betrays them during either the Sheriff’s encounter or in the battle against Cotton Marigold.

Before heading out, Willie Bean enters the Library and begs to come with them. Prudence confirms that Willie is not Blessed, but leaves the final decision on what to do with him up to them. Finally, Prudence asks the kindly old Librarian, Ms. Genteel, if she’ll leave with them. 

The Fate of Ms. Genteel – Faced with the option of escape, the sudden stress triggers the end of her Lifespan. She seems to start choking and convulsing before the Shoggoth Polyp within her bursts free, killing her. Those witnessing this horror of a squirming abomination scurrying towards the chapel triggers a SAN Check for 1D6/1D8.  With time running out and no other options the investigators must now head out

The Mine Outer Lift: Assuming investigators survive this trek here they reach the ravine. The remaining Investigators will have to make climbing checks to get onto the rubble at the outer surface of the mine. From there they can make their way to the staircase and begin the ascent to the top. The longer path takes investigators through a cluster of abandoned buildings that were once part of the mining operation. These include a series of pens where equipment was stored, a roofless management office. and a cafeteria where the Sheriff is watching and waiting. 

The Earthquake: Though they’ve avoided directly confronting Cotton Marigold, he becomes aware of their escape route at this point. Rather than leave the safety of the chapel he rouses his “better half to try and kill these irritants. As the Investigators are climbing they begin to feel the ravine shaking. 

Flavor Text: The stone explodes around you as a huge oozing cyst covered appendage appears practically just a few feet away. It is all you can do to not be sent hurtling to the ground below. All of you lock eyes with a myriad of eyes… Bloodshot and suppurating with infection, the appendage regards you all…mouths filled with razor sharp blades exhale noxious fumes and spray you with unwholesome fluids. You now face a thing of aeons past rudely woken into the world of man. [Viewing this triggers a SAN Check 1D10/1D20]

Investigators must make a LUCK roll, with a failure meaning the Appendage bursts out on top of them, wrecking the staircase. Those still capable of moving must make DEX checks, with a success meaning they are still on a landing intact enough to climb. Those that fail plummet to a likely death, suffering 10D10 points of damage. This is Call of Cthulhu after all, not everyone makes it out alive.  The Remaining Investigators can finish their ascent. 

Once on the surface, fresh tremors begin. The investigators have little time to assess their surroundings, more old ruined mine structures and a still open entryway into the disused mine shaft. If the Investigators remember to, they can make Spot Hidden Checks to locate a storehouse containing 2 crates of dynamite. Each crate is 25 pounds and has 12 sticks that can do 21D6 of damage to anything within 2 yards of detonation. A variety of checks can inform the investigators that Dynamite left abandoned for possibly decades will have become unstable. The crates should be easy to lift but DEX checks are required to gingerly move the unstable TNT.

The elevator that descends into the shaft is held by rusted, barely functioning brakes. A mechanical repair roll will allow an investigator to release the brakes. The elevator car will then plummet to the bottom of the mine where the crates will detonate. The shockwave collapses the mine and possibly kill the thing lurking within it.

The Chapel: The quicker way to the Finale is by no means the easier. However, the investigators choosing to enter the chapel must pass there is no way to avoid having to go to the stage and attempt to reach the stair by the elevator.  Once inside this scene plays out…

Flavor Text: Within the Chapel, the lights are lit and tapestries hung. Seated upon his Presider is Elder Prognosticator Cotton Marigold. He says, “Have you come for salvation my lost lambs… No! you are too bold to be lambs. BEHOLD!!! For I shall show you your folly and when I bless thee thou shall accept with EYES OPEN!!!

Before you can react thin pseudopods crafted from leprous otherworldly flesh erupt from the backstage area. They curl about the cleric and in a single deft motion flay him! His skin is torn away and the flesh pulled into the pattern of a billowing star. What remains when the cloud of spraying ichor clears is a myriad of eyes and drooling maws. [Seeing this artfully crafted horror requires a SAN Check 1D6/1D10]

If investigators are well armed, they may have a chance of surviving. If investigators took Willie with them he’ll betray them at this time, further complicating an already difficult battle. Assuming investigators win the battle the Marigold Shoggoth collapses and decays sending spasms along the tendrils connecting him with the larger horrors below. Prudence falls over and from backstage comes a horrible bursting sound and an odd glow. At this point the Antigen within Pollyanna Goodbelly is released. It descends into the mine and goes about wiping out the Autotrophic Shoggoth. See the easy kill section below for those results.

Easy Kill? – Investigators who have pieced together the way to destroy the Shoggoth may be inclined to listen for the Glossalalial Pollyanna Goodbelly, whose tell-tale babbling can be heard backstage. The difficulty is to avoid dying long enough to reach her. Investigators that do experience the following: 

Flavor Text: Behind the curtain, following the tell-tale “divine language” you are greeted with a horrifying sight. Casting a pale soft light is a sphere of mottled flesh roughly the size of a model T. From it hang are withered limbs. Balanced precariously atop is the head of the woman, her blank eyes staring, her mouth repeating the same nonsensical words… [viewing this triggers a SAN Check for 1d4/1D8]

All investigators must do is attack this creature. Any sort of damage to that straining belly causes it to burst in a shower of luminescent ichor. The corpse drops with a wet slap and from the flesh emerges a glowing, floating entity with a crystalline head and a sinuous tangle of thin appendages. [Viewing this manifestation requires a SAN Check 1D8/1D10]. 

Upon emerging the entity immediately sets out to attack cotton. This will be the end Cotton, as he lets out a scream and his flesh becomes a faintly glowing blue sludge. The entity then heads back into the caverns, soon followed by screams and tremors reverberating through Mountain Root and the surrounding area. Everyone implanted with a Shoggoth polyp quickly begins to decay into the same blue sludge. Unfortunately, this includes Prudence and the newly “blessed” Greta Lakeman. Fortunately, this also means that the sheriff and every guardian creature and hostile townsperson. For all intents and purposes the scenario is over.

Upon exploring backstage, the investigators find the remaining Lakeman children in stunned shock as the guardians recently holding them hostage slowly turning to sludge.

Autotroph Shoggoth, 

STR 210        CON 210    SIZ 315       INT 15         POW 35        DEX 15         HP 52  

Move: 7 rolling 10 swimming

Build: 6

Attacks per round: 2  

A typical autotrophic Shoggoth covers a 5-yard/meter square and is able to spawn any number of tentacles, mouths, claws, etc., with which to attack its opponents with. It may also attempt to engulf opponents. It typically produces appendages similar to what it’s seen on other creatures in its natural habitat.

Engulf: each person engulfed within the Shoggoth is attacked separately and each must make a successful opposed STR roll or be sucked apart (usually meaning instant death*). If the Shoggoth attacks more than one target, it must divide its STR among all the targets. Those held within the Shoggoth’s bulk can strike back only on rounds in which they make a successful STR roll. Once engulfed, for each round a victim is held within a Shoggoth, they suffer the Shoggoth’s damage bonus in damage—rupturing, crushing, and being sucked into pieces—note that if more than one person is being engulfed, the Shoggoth’s damage bonus should be divided by the number of people engulfed (e.g., if DB is 8D6 and 4 people are being engulfed, each would suffer 2D6 damage per round). A Shoggoth can engulf any number of enemies; however, the total SIZ of those engulfed may not exceed the Shoggoth’s SIZ.

Fighting 50% (25/10), damage DB, or Engulf (damage DB divided by the number of targets, see above)

Dodge 8% 4/1

Skills: Climb 80%, Jump 60%, Stealth 40%

Armor: none; halve damage caused by fire and electrical attacks; mundane weapons (incl. bullets) deal only 1 point of damage per hit; regenerates 2 hit points per round (death at zero hit points).

Spells: none.

Sanity Loss: 1D6/1D20 Sanity points to encounter an autotroph Shoggoth.

Epilogue

The remaining Investigators, with or without the Lakeman children, make it to the top of the ravine. The bitter cold of night contrasts against the perfection of the starry sky above. Perched nearby, to catch and hold the roasting rays of the coming dawn, are the Hotboxes containing George Sr. and Jr. What could be saved of their family has been and George Lakeman regains the will to live. Further ahead is a 1920 Napier Hardtop in working order. In the back seat are several packs filled with Fifty thousand dollars. and supplies for a long trip. Nearby is the shattered form of Mayor Drake Devaroe. He appears to have fallen from a shallow ledge and broke his fool neck. All that is left for the survivors to do is take the keys off the corpse and drive towards civilization. With luck, drink, time and therapy they may be able to put this nightmare in the past.

The End

Sanity Awards:

Rescue George Sr. and Jr.: +1D4

Rescue the entire Lakeman Family (excluding Greta): +1D8

Defeat a Spewer: +1D4

Defeat a Swiper: +1D4

Defeat the Sheriff: +1D6

Defeat Cotton Madrigold: +1D6Release the Antigen: +1D8

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