Solo Skald |||

The Children of Aguas Blancas - Session 2

This is the continuation of the previous session, and as before there are some spoilers for the scenario The Secret of Castronegro” from the Cthulhu Companion as well as the adventure seed The Devil’s Round-Up” from the Shadows Over Stillwater campaign book for Call of Cthulhu. (Note that both of those are affiliate links, but they’re on sale right now as part of DriveThruRPG’s Halloween sale at the time.)

Recap and setup

Memo Rodriguez, a New Mexican cowboy, is looking for evidence of missing children that many people believe were taken by people in the mountain town of Aguas Blancas. The town drunk, James Whitlock, was killed after warning him that the Diaz family is up to something and directing him to Shephard’s Barn (where he encountered a horrifying creature”) as well as the Diaz Family Vault. Memo is now on the run after shooting Sheriff Fred Garcia in an ambush he believes was directed by the Diaz family.

After reviewing the first session, though, I realized that I missed a few features of Mythic. In particular, some of the complications that came up before could have (and honestly should have) led to the creation of additional threads. So my Threads List looks like this right now:

  1. Find the missing children of Silver City
  2. Evade the law (after shooting Sheriff Garcia)

For ease of reference, here’s the Character List as well:

  1. The town of Aguas Blancas
  2. The Changeling (tavern)
  3. Town Jail
  4. Shephard’s Barn
  5. Diaz Family Vault
  6. Gilberto Diaz
  7. Horrifying Creature (Servitor)
  8. Degenerate Diaz Creatures

I also realized later that there’s an Adventure Feature List type and a different Event Focus table when playing prepared adventures; I’ll try to remember to use those next time I start a new one.

I’m also adding Servitor of the Outer Gods” to Memo Rodriguez’s Backstory page; while he has no idea what he saw, I need to track it for mechanical purposes (“Getting Used to the Awfulness”). He’s lost 8 of the maximum 10 Sanity for this Mythos creature type.

He also has a minor injury from being clawed by one of the degenerate Diaz creatures, which I think looks extra dramatic if it’s on his face.

Scene 9: The Vault

With the bank inaccessible for now, he’s going to head out to the town graveyard to see if the family vault” referred to something there instead. However, this turns out to be an Interrupt Scene (rolled 4 under the Chaos Factor of 5) and I need to roll another Random Event. The Event Focus is NPC Positive”, and I randomly roll Degenerate Diaz Creatures” from the Character List. The Character Actions (General) Meaning Table yields Wild”. This time I think I’m going to have them show up in the form of dogs:

These Dobermans are evidently mixed breeds (to say the least), for they have particularly ugly muzzles, with a loathsomely human look about their jowls and green eyes.

There’s just one, though, and it attacks wildly. Memo gets to go first (Quick Draw again).

Round One (Graveyard)

Memo draws his .45 as the dog” comes around from behind a gravestone, slavering and growling, but misses. The dog is instantly upon him, but isn’t able to get its jaws around the cowboy.

Round Two (Graveyard)

With the dog upon him, Memo has a Bonus Die for shooting point-blank, so this time he scores a hit for 8 damage. That’s enough for a major wound and the dog is down. Upon seeing the face of the creature, he decides to put it out of its misery and ensure that, whatever this thing actually is, it no longer will haunt this earth, because it just doesn’t look like any kind of dog he’s ever seen.

It doesn’t take long to find the burial vault here, which has a large marble door set into the side of a steep hill. (Memo also realizes he’s quite close to the Casa de Diaz, the large family manor outside town.) The door is locked with a padlock, and just as at the barn, Memo is able to shoot it off with his pistol.

Inside, the vault is a large chamber containing 20 open sarcophagi with the following inscriptions:

  • Fernando de Diaz 1594-1683
  • Francisco de Diaz 1604-1696
  • Reynardo de Diaz 1624-1710
  • Filipo Vilheila-Pereira 1632-1724
  • Isabella de Diaz 1636-1725
  • Jona de Diaz 1645-1728
  • Enrico Vilheila-Pereira 1657-1744
  • Rosetta de Diaz 1671-1782
  • Carlos de Diaz 1685-1790
  • Tomas Vilheila-Pereira 1688-1791
  • Magdalena de Diaz 1700-1794
  • Frederico de Diaz 1724-1814
  • Eduardo Vilheila-Pereira 1737-1824
  • Randolfo de Diaz 1742-1837
  • Pablo Vilheila-Pereira 1748-1845
  • Mirabella Vilheila-Pereira 1756-1847
  • Fernando Vilheila-Pereira 1764-1860
  • Carlos Diaz 1777-1892
  • Kristofer Vilheila-Pereira 1789-
  • Bernardo de Diaz 1580-

18 of them have mummified corpses, dry and leathery, each holding a small statuette like the one he found in the barn. This requires a Sanity roll, which he fails, losing 2 points.

The two sarcophagi intended for Kristofer and Bernardo are completely empty. While Kristofer’s date of birth indicates someone incredibly old, it’s within the range of human possibility, as people sometimes do live into their 90s, and according to the listed dates, many of the family have done just that. But Bernardo must be just over 300 years old if this date is correct, and that has terrifying implications.

At the end of this scene, the Chaos Factor increases to 6. Additionally, I’m adding both Kristofer Vilheila-Pereira and Bernardo de Diaz to the Character List. The secret of the lifespan is almost certainly tied to the fate of the missing children, so that doesn’t need another thread right now.

Scene 10: The Casa de Diaz

Being not far from the manor, Memo decides this is as good a time as any to try to find his way inside. I expect he’ll be able to do so and his exploration will determine what actually happened. (Note that, while I have some thoughts about what that is, I intend to let the dice and the oracles tell me.)

However, this turns out to be an Altered Scene due to rolling 3 under 6 in the Mythic GME Scene structure. I have some thoughts about how this could work, so I’m going to use a Fate Question: Are the inhabitants of the house waiting for Memo?” (50/50) The oracle indicates Exceptional Yes, so I’m going to say that Bernardo is there, perhaps standing on a parapet. His supreme confidence in their ability to deal with Memo means that he’s waiting for him to come to them (including his dogs”). ((Later, I realize I read the chart wrong and it should have been an Exceptional No, but I let it ride.))

Kristofer is described as having a large and bulbous body, his skin is covered in liver spots, his flesh more like a sack of skin hung over his frame. Hairless, with no eyebrows, his visage might be likened to a demon when he smiles”.

Kristofer Vilheila-Pereira Created by DALL-E 3

He smiles cruelly and says, I’ve been waiting for you, Mr. Rodriguez. Your time in our town has come to an end, but I look forward to you joining us.” With a gesture, the dogs tear off towards Memo.

Round One (Outside the house)

There are three dogs”, all Dobermans with human faces and bright green eyes. They’re fast, but Memo draws more quickly and gets two shots off (each with a penalty die). He misses the first, but spends 1 point of Luck to hit the second one for 9 damage, killing it.

The dogs are upon him quickly. One of them snarls and gets only air, but the other’s teeth impales deeply, doing 11 damage. Memo is down to 11 HP, but that was less than half his Maximum HP in one injury so it’s not a major wound. Still, he’s in danger.

Round Two (Outside the house)

Memo has both of them upon him, and thus they’re at point-blank range. Again he will fire two shots, but the Penalty Die is offset by the Bonus Die for point-blank range. One dog is hit for 4 damage, and the other is killed.

I think that third dog has had enough, and runs off yelping.

After the fight

Kristofer inclines his head, acknowledging Memo’s prowess (and endurance). I expect he’ll invite Memo inside at this point, but I want to test that, so I’ll ask the Fate Question Does Kristofer invite Memo inside?” (Likely) The oracle indicates No, so I’ll say that Kristofer just turns and heads inside. Memo rushes inside the house. Since Kristofer is home and confident, the door isn’t locked.

At this point, I want to test my expectation that the home seems fairly well-appointed and in active use. This differs from the scenario text (as it’s intended for later in the timeline), so I’ll say it’s 50/50: Does the house seem well-appointed and in active use?” The oracle says Exceptional Yes” ((this time I read the chart correctly)).

ChatGPT does a good job updating the description from the scenario text:

Entrance Hall: The central passage of the manor is grand and inviting, connecting most of the ground floor rooms. A pristine and intricately woven oriental rug covers the floor, while the walls proudly display portraits of various esteemed Diaz and Vilheila-Pereira family members. Those familiar with the family’s history may recognize some of the names. Keen-eyed investigators may notice subtle indications of foot traffic, suggesting a path from the library to the pantry.

In fact, Memo (as a Hunter archetype) will in fact try to follow the footprints, although I think this will require a Hard Success on his Track roll. That’s just a regular success, though, so I’ll have him succeed at a cost: he’s able to follow the trail, but he’s not particularly quiet doing so and Kristofer knows where he’s headed (to the pantry).

Pantry: This room is a testament to the household’s culinary endeavors. Fresh produce and ingredients are neatly arranged, while the scent of smoked beef tongues wafts pleasantly through the air. Those observant might notice a well-trodden path leading to a small staircase, suggesting access to the basement.

In the basement

There’s a storage room with empty crates and unused furniture, a couple of rooms for storing coal and pinewood. The furnace isn’t that old and seems to be well-maintained, with an enormous heap of ashes next to it.

However, there are two other doors here; one leads to the laboratory, and the other further down beneath the house. Since Kristofer is waiting for Memo, I expect that the laboratory door is open (thus indicating where the cowboy should go). But this also seems like a good opportunity to test my expectation, so I’ll ask the Fate Question Is the laboratory door open?” (Likely) The oracle indicates Yes, and Memo cautiously enters.

This room is filled with occult paraphernalia but is sumptuously decorated with wood-paneled walls, velvet upholstery, and perhaps a few books (although the main library is up on the ground floor). Again, I want to test Kristofer’s reaction. I expect that (in line with cinematic tropes), he’ll explain what’s happening, then kill Memo. That seems Very Likely to me, and the Oracle agrees.

At this point, I need to determine what he’ll say. I know that the Diaz and Vilheila-Pereira family are responsible for the children. But what are they doing with or to them? The Actions Meaning Table will tell us: Accompany”. I decide this fits with the theory that the children are being turned into family” members and companions, not simply sacrificed, and so that is what Kristofer says: the family has no natural children, instead extending itself through dark sciences” and arts unknown to the rest of humanity”. In fact, he thinks that someone of Memo’s abilities would make an excellent servant as well, and he’s going to be the next to be initiated” into the family. At this point, I need to enter initiative order.

As before, Memo is faster than anyone else. Before the evil sorcerer can indulge whatever he intends, Memo draws and fires. He hits for 8 damage, dealing a major wound to his enemy. (Had Kristofer been less confident, he might have cast a protective spell before the fight, but he didn’t anticipate this.)

Kristofer is down, but he makes his roll to stay conscious with an Extreme Success, so I decide he stays on his feet (albeit bracing himself against a table). He whispers a few words to cast Dominate, which requires an opposed POW roll. His regular Success, however, is exceeded by Memo’s Critical Success!

The cowboy stares down the decrepit old cult leader with iron in his eyes. He says nothing as he fires point-blank, ending the threat to the children of the region.

Epilogue

Some weeks later, Memo is back at home, with his grandmother hugging him. In his mind, he remembers the cries of joy as families of Silver City were reunited with the children he rescued. But he also remembers the tears and wailing from the families whose children were not among them.

Wrap-up

I’m not going through the Investigator Development Phase right now because I think that Memo’s story probably ends here. I do want to revisit this setting and game system, though, because it worked well. Mythic GME works nicely for this kind of game, with the lessons mentioned above about using it more fully. Next time, I might use one of the adventure locations from the Down Darker Trails book, but not with a fully-developed scenario, just the people, locations, and adventure seeds within it.

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