Editor’s Note: Sorry for the delay! AT&T @Home decided to do their server migration this weekend, and I spent hours working on getting my Internet working again so I could post this.
Richard Upton Pickman demonstrated the relative ease with which a human can devolve into the homovoric depths of ghouldom. However, what if a human, once descended to that bestial plane, decides that it wants to recapture his humanity.
Meet Timothy Fenwick. Or rather, the ghoul who used to be Timothy Fenwick. Right now he’s just a nameless ghoul gnawing on the bones of the dead. The tiny bit of the ghoul’s mind that is still Timothy Fenwick has decided, “Hey, being a ghoul sucks.” So, on a fine December day in the 1920s, he decides that he’s going to be human again, and the surest way to doing that is by spreading Christmas cheer.
There are a few problems with Fenwick’s little plan. First is that, well, Fenwick doesn’t quite recall when Christmas is. Second is that he doesn’t know what “spreading Christmas cheer” is all about. He dimly recalls stories of someone going into houses and leaving gifts, so that seems like a good idea. Which leads to problem number three: He doesn’t recall what it is that you leave as a gift, so he leaves something he’s fond of. That’s right: Rotting human flesh.
So, Timothy Fenwick is going door to door in early December, breaking in (not particularly subtly, either), and leaving behind the grisly remains of his last meal. An ear. A hand. Sometimes a head. There’s a lot of houses, and he’s only one little ghoul, so he’ll be at this for days to come. Occasionally he’ll forget what he’s doing, and grabs a small snack while he’s leaving gifts.
Investigators, not to mention their friends and family, may come down the stairs to find bloody gobbets of human tissue piled in the general neighborhood of their Christmas tree. They may even hear a ruckus downstairs and descend to find Ghouly Tim leaving his bounteous treasures.
Seeing a body part causes 0/1d3 SAN loss.
Seeing the ghoul formerly known as Timothy Fenwick causes 0/1d6.
Timothy is a pretty average ghoul, so you can get his stats straight out of the main rules.
So where do you go from here? Well, investigators have a few options.
- Ignore the ghoul.
This is the easy solution, and an awfully annoying one for a Keeper. The players may just decide they don’t enjoy this lame mockery of The Nightmare Before Christmas and choose to ignore the problem and use it as an opportunity to talk about the upcoming Lord of the Rings flick. At this point all you can do is have the ghoul raid one of their homes and hope they care.
- Find the ghoul.
This can be easy or hard, depending on circumstances. If the Investigator happens across Tim Fenwick in his living room leaving gifts, well, that’s pretty easy. However, if the Investigator tries to go hunt him down through the city, it’s a little hard. The problem is, Timothy isn’t very organized about this gift-giving spree of his. Each night the Investigators look for t he ghoul, have them roll against LUCKx2. If they succeed, they find Timothy.
So what do you do with a gift giving ghoul once you find him? The typical gamer response is to blow the little git away with your shotgun. Because really: It’s a ghoul. Even a well intentioned one is still a tomb-raiding eater of human flesh.
However, particularly clever/smarmy players may decide to try and capture the ghoul alive. This particular solution may leave your half your group having to make new characters after your attempt at a lighthearted and fun holiday session of Cthulhu. However, it’s a noble one, in a strange sort of way.
Here are some possibilities for you to consider if you have a capture ghoul on your hands:
- Do you attempt to keep him as a pet? This is problematic in that, well, ghouls eat human flesh. And, what are you going to do with the ghoul in captivity, anyway?
- Do you attempt to rehabilitate him? At the Keeper’s discretion, players may try to aid Timothy along his path to humanity. This could be a noble activity that could result in some SAN restoration for the players.
- Do you reintroduce him to the wild? One last possibility is that they just drive out to the middle of nowhere, and dump him out. It’s then up to the Keeper what fate will then befall little Timmy Fenwick.
Now that we’ve beaten this topic to death, tune in tomorrow for more macabre holiday fun!
Jeremy Zimmerman is a teller of tales who dislikes cute euphemisms for writing like “teller of tales.” His fiction has most recently appeared in 10Flash Quarterly, Arcane and anthologies from Timid Pirate Publishing. His young adult superhero book, Kensei, is available as part of Cobalt City Rookies. He is also the editor for Mad Scientist Journal. He lives in Seattle with five cats and his lovely wife (and fellow author) Dawn Vogel.