We’ve decided the time was right for another of our very infrequent installments of Mysterious Monday. Over the past several years, we have published these short story hooks, at times creepy and generally weird, for you to use as inspiration for your next game. If you enjoy reading these or put any of them to use in your own game, let us know in the comments below. The more feedback we get, the more likely we are to publish them more frequently; they are fun to write after all. In writing this installment, we took a slightly different approach to the layout. This time, following each hook, we have provided several bulleted prompts to help get your scenario creation juices flowing. We hope you like this format a little better.
Returning home from a camping trip, a group of friends drives through worsening weather. The rainstorm that started innocently enough turns angrier as the miles drone on. With their visibility significantly reduced and GPS only partially working, the driver turns left, following the intermittent GPS directions. Several miles up the road, they come to what can best be described as a 20th-century ghost town. 1920s era buildings line both sides of what you might call Main Street. Most windows are papered over, and signs dangle from their brackets; here, wherever here is, seems like a remnant of a bygone era. Up ahead, there on the right, the diner’s neon sign is lit, the lights are one, and there are customers. Who would have thought anyone still lived here?
- This town does not appear on any local maps or GPS, where could the players possibly be? Why is it not on any map?
- How are visitors treated when they arrive? Does their treatment play into any grand scheme the townsfolk might have?
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, a sixteen-year decorated military veteran, had been homeless for the past three years. Living hand to mouth, doing odd jobs, and moving from town to town as the homeless tend to do. Fate smiled down on him recently when he was able to get into a halfway house, and his life coach helped him gain employment with a local funeral home, not ideal, but it was an honest paycheck. Two weeks into the job, and all was going well until late one afternoon when Mr. Baxter, the mortician, requested Juan’s assistance with preparing a body for a viewing. Juan, already having adapted to this line of work, was taken aback when Mr. Baxter asked for his assistance with the removal of a patient’s brain.
- Who is this patient, and why does Mr. Baxter want their brain?
- What has Juan gotten himself into this time?
- What is Baxter’s story? Is he part of a local cult that collects body parts? Is he a pseudo-scientist conducting his own weird experiments?
Every year the town Dorchester goes all out with their summer solstice celebration. The small town is decorated with flags and streamers from end to the other, bright and colorful, resembling the myriad of colorful flowers that seemingly overtake the town. The central focal point is the wicker man that stands proudly in a charred and blackened circle in an otherwise beautifully lush and green town square. Visitors are not welcome in Dorchester in the days before the celebration; those arriving would see young maidens dressed in finery, looking exuberant, and being paraded about.
- What is the true meaning of the summer solstice celebration?
- Why does the wicker man stand in a charred circle? Is it destined to be burnt as some sort of offering? If so, to who and for what reason?
- How are the maidens integral to the celebration?
Hiking the backcountry, heading to some other place, the group comes across a dilapidated cabin at the edge of a picturesque lake. The cabin has seen better days; the roof shows signs of ice and water damage from years of neglect. Signs of rot are pervasive, but despite the condition issues, there appear to be signs of habitation. From the porch’s rafters hang three curing full-bodied human skins. A wild-eyed man steps forth from the cabin’s open doorway.
- Who is this wild-eyed man, and why does he have human skins?
- Where did the skins come from? Are they adults? Teens?
- What’s the name of this lake? Are there other cabins nearby?
Sandwiched between the butcher and a shoe repair shop lies a lonely rare used books store. Piles of unsorted, uncategorized literary tomes of varying subjects clog the narrow aisle. The overflowing stacks of musty books kick up dust when pulled. The white-haired eccentric store owner is as unkempt as his store. Through all its clutter, one book repeatedly reaches the register counter. A book the owner refuses to sell. To the potential buyers, the book is just what they were looking for. Though its content is different for each person.
- Why won’t the owner sell the book?
- Within the crowded store, how does the book keep finding a buyer?
- What is this book with changing subjects?
If you’re looking for some NPC or character images, have a look at Investigator Images: A Curated List of Yearbooks For Call of Cthulhu
~ Modoc & Stephen
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