CTHULHU WITHIN: DEATH ON THE ICE

This is the third post of my notes on converting the original Enemy Within campaign to Call of Cthulhu. This covers Death on the Reik. For the first post in the series, see this link.

Warning. Spoilers for the Enemy Within campaign follow.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.

– Robert W Chambers, The King in Yellow

Almost 100 years ago wealthy Louisiana planter and amateur astronomer Charles Navarre [Dagmar von Wittgenstein] traced an unusual meteorite impact to the Barren Peak glacier in Iceland [the Barren Hills] and undertook an expedition there.

At the impact site he discovered not a meteorite, but the remnants of an extraterrestrial craft. He collected some of the debris, various intact artefacts and even the remains of some alien creatures, and took them back to his estate for study. Among the artefacts was a crown-like object. This was the Crown of Hastur [the warpstone meteorite]. It conferred on its wearer the ability to change appearance like a doppelgänger, and other powers that remained hidden to Navarre.

The Yellow Hand [Purple Hand] has learned of the Crown’s existence and its leader, Charles Henry Woolmer [Karl-Heinz Wasmeier], sees an opportunity to use it in a political coup. The Yellow Hand society is therefore hunting the object.

Following up the lead in Eleanor Herten’s [Etelka Herzen’s] correspondence with John Nixon [Johannes Teugen], the investigators should visit her home in Graveswood [Grissenwald]. The journey there should be run per Death on the Reik, omitting the events at the signalling device (pp30-34) and the incidents with the dwarfs and goblins (pp22-29).

During the journey there is extensive press coverage of controversial proposals for antisemitic laws and taxes. The controversy maintains a high profile throughout the rest of the adventure, and will reach a climax in the final part ‘The Power Behind the Throne’.

In Graveswood the investigators discover at Herten’s home a letter she has left for Casper Lovell [Kastor Lieberung], in which she explains she has departed for Iceland without Lovell, because of his late return. She also makes cryptic references to the importance of their expedition in fulfilling “The Master’s plan… in the capital”. She leaves details of her journey should Lovell wish to follow her.

The investigators’ pursuit of Herten should take them by ship to Iceland and the Barren Peak largely in accordance with Death on the Reik (pp35-42). During the journey Yellow Hand agents attempt to make contact with the Casper Lovell lookalike. When these fail, the agents first pass on a warning note bearing the Yellow Sign [Purple Palm]. Subsequently they mark a Yellow Sign permanently on his forehead by means of a spell. (Cf Death on the Reik, pp6-8).

At the Barren Peak the investigators find the entombed remains of Navarre’s expedition members, along with their journal, well preserved in the dry and cold atmospheric conditions. The journal describes the story of the whole expedition ending with Navarre’s murderous turn and the expeditioners slowly starving to death, trapped in the caves. (The ghost of Brunhilde Gratten in Death on the Reik can be omitted; the information she imparts is contained in the journal.)

In the caves, the investigators encounter agents of the Yellow Hand accompanying Herten [the skaven]. The agents ambush them, by now believing them to be the traitor Lovell and his companions.

ice

Thereafter, the investigators should return to Kingdom Lodge [the signalling device], access the secret library and travel to Navarre’s plantation in Louisiana [Castle Wittgenstein]. En route they are likely to be confronted by Eleanor Herten and her comrades. Herten ideally should escape.

The plantation was once grand and luxurious, but its grandeur has faded over the decades. It is a now sprawling place of debauchery and decay. The land is wild and overgrown. Paint is peeling from the buildings. Inside there is all manner of detritus and filth. Arcane symbols and other mysterious graffiti are daubed on the walls.

The neighbouring town of Charlesville [Wittgendorf] is a place of misery and decline. The townspeople have been badly affected by radioactivity from the artefacts retrieved from the Barren Peak, and birth defects are commonplace. Matters are exacerbated by the medical experiments of Margaret Navarre [Margritte von Wittgenstein] and local physician John Rousseaux [Jean Rousseaux].

Events at Charlesville and the plantation should closely follow those in Death on the Reik (pp45-86), except for a few details. The outlaw attack on Castle Wittgenstein (pp59-60) is omitted, with the investigators proceeding straight to the Navarre mansion [Inner Bailey]. There they will encounter the bizarre results of Margaret Navarre’s experiments. They will also find a letter from her brother George [Gotthard von Wittgenstein], who makes it clear he has the ear of the President (cf Death on the Reik p81).

The investigators are beaten to the Crown of Hastur by Eleanor Herten [the skaven], who sets fire to the mansion to cover her escape, forcing the investigators to flee (cf Death on the Reik, pp85-86). (If Herten has been killed, another Yellow Hand agent should take her place.) From Louisiana Herten (or her replacement) takes the Crown of Hastur to Charles Henry Woolmer in Washington DC [Middenheim].

The Yellow Hand’s contacts with the Lovell double, Herten’s letter to Lovell and George Navarre’s letter to his sister should steer the PCs to Washington DC in pursuit of the Yellow Hand and the Crown of Hastur.

INDEX OF NAMES

Barren Peak [Barren Hills]
Casper Lovell [Kastor Lieberung]
Charles Henry Woolmer [Karl-Heinz Wasmeier]
Charles Navarre [Dagmar von Wittgenstein]
Charlesville [Wittgendorf]
Eleanor Herten [Etelka Herzen]
George Navarre [Gotthard von Wittgenstein]
Graveswood [Grissenwald]
John Nixon [Johannes Teugen]
John Rousseaux [Jean Rousseaux]
Kingdom Lodge [the signalling device]
Margaret Navarre [Margritte von Wittgenstein]
Washington DC [Middenheim]
Yellow Hand [Purple Hand]

The next post will describe the final part of the campaign, ‘The Power Behind the Throne’.

Title and internal art used without permission. No challenge intended to the rights holders.

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