In this installment of Mysterious Monday, I once again present to you five mythos inspired plot hooks that can be used with a variety of RPGs. The theme for this installment will be Gaslight (1880s-1890s). Keep in mind that most of these could easily be adapted to fit into other time periods with relative ease.
The seedy underbelly of the city is home to the city’s poor and lower class citizen who struggle daily to make ends meet. Many are day laborers and live hand to mouth; few in this part of town have long-term stable employment, save for the doxies that stroll the streets day and night. As of late three prostitutes have been kidnapped from the east side of town in the area known as “The Bottom”. Witnesses report that the women are forcibly taken by a black carriage in the wee hours of the morning. Days later their bodies are found floating in one one of the canals that are landmarks in “The Bottom”. The corpses of these three women have been found with strange symbols seared into their flesh. Who could have done this and for what purpose?
Late one evening five teens (3 boys and 2 girls) met in secret to hold a seance. One of the boy’s mothers’ was a frequent visitor to the Spiritualist Society meetings and their seances; she spoke of them incessantly. Having no real idea what they were doing, using chalk they littered the dirt room in the abandoned factory with what they believed to be spiritual symbols–on the floor and the walls. As they began to audibly call for the spirits to join them that evening, one of the large symbols on the wall began to glow red, bathing the teens in its eerie light. Scared, the teens abandoned their efforts and fled the factory. Elise, the eldest girl, caught a glimpse of something as they fled. She would swear, she witnessed whatever it walked right through the wall just as she ran away, terror-stricken. What have they unleashed? What kind of havoc does it create? Can the children or even the location of the seance be found? Is time running out?
In the “Irish” tenements of the Five-Points area of New York reside a proud people with a rich culture and an even more colorful folklore. As of late, rumors have begun to circulate among the tenants regarding the sighting of a ghost. The ghost is reported to be that of an old man from Ireland who arrived in Five-Points during the “Potato Famine” and who had died very recently. If true, why has the old man returned as a ghost? What unfinished business does have in Five-Points?
Montreal, like all modern cities of its day, is rife with spiritualists. The rising interest in contacting the dead is the playground of most classes that can pay, but it is well infused into the higher social strata. Many spiritualist have prices ranging from modest to exorbitant; as such, there are countless charlatans in the scene. One such group of charlatans is known as the Blue Gypsies. They work to not only defraud their clients with the use of elaborate parlor tricks, but they also use the naivety of their clients to fuel their occult efforts. During each seance, the clients give a little more than they get in return. The Blue Gypsies fuel the real spiritual sessions from the physic energies their clients emit. While the clients are amused and stupified by elaborate parlor tricks orchestrated by the medium at the table, a very real communication with the other side is happening by another medium located in a nearby room. The Blue Gypsies are collecting occult relics and blasphemous tomes from the past and the seances have regularly revealed clues to the whereabouts of items of interest. The other side is good at providing clues, but they need the psychic energy from these fake seances to fuel their efforts.
A network of young sneak thieves and pickpockets has been ordered by their leader, a young man in his early twenties, to steal a silver locket from an upscale home in SoHo. The boys case the house for a week and notice people regularly coming and going from the house. Unsure of these people are, and frankly not caring, they devise a plan to enter in the middle of the night to steal the locket. What they don’t know is the locket contains locks of hair from a medieval witch and that the possessor of the locket is imbued with some her gifts. Is the ringleader working alone? Has he and his network been hired by a third party to retrieve the locket? Who wants it and what do they intend to with it?
Also, have a look at Investigator Images: A Curated List of Yearbooks For Call of Cthulhu if you’re in need of some character or NPC portraits.28