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Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
7:00p - Idea for a Gothic Horror / Call of Cthulhu Campaign

You know that line from A Christmas Carol- "There's more of gravy than of grave about you" ?  Yeah, I'm getting like that in my old age.  Eat too late: weird dreams. Eat something unusual, or in unusual combination: weird dreams.  Drink a little too much? You guessed it- I wake up way too early the next day when really I shouldn't.  And I have weird dreams.  This time it was the homemade gumbo to blame- but this time I actually got something I can use.  I'm sharing it here to ask what people think of the idea, and so I don't forget it later.

This was the night before last, so I'm already forgetting details.  But the general gist of the dream- and my reaction upon waking- are something like this:

The dream played out like a TV show, with distinct but related scenes in different locations and with different characters in each scene.  The dream involved a demon who had taken the form of a small, stooped, wrinkled, but well-dressed man.  The demon had a name- a really cool quasi-Biblical-sounding name- but unfortunately that was one detail I've since forgotten.  Anyway, he was looking for a certain blonde-haired girl about 12 or 13 years old, because she had inherited some kind of ancient magical thing (some kind of an orb made of jade, I think).  She had no idea what it was or why it was important- in fact, she didn't even know she had it. From what I could piece together, her guardian was her wealthy great-aunt Matilda who lived in a large country estate outside of San Francisco. The girl's name was something like Polly Ann (Paula Ann?), and she had come from New Orleans with her manservant, Roget (pronounced roe-ZHAY).  Roget looked a lot like young, somewhat slimmer version of James Avery.  Polly Ann's parents had died in a mysterious fire which she escaped, but no details were provided of how.  She had another servant who also had a cool name which I forget: he looked like an older, shorter version of Snoop Dog.  While Roget seemed fully trustworthy and upstanding, the other guy seemed to be untrustworthy and up to something for reasons I can't explain.  The great aunt seemed to be okay, though: kind and motherly enough, but kind of flightly and goofy.  I didn't get the impression that she would be any good in a crisis situation.  The opening scene with the demon occurred in a dark, heavily-paneled old-fashioned drawing room, but the other scenes happened at the estate in California.  The house was a huge, typically Victorian Gothic 'gingerbread' house, surrounded by perfectly-manicured lawns and further out oak trees everywhere, and there were mountains far in the background.  The inside of the house was furnished like one would expect an old house owned by an old spinster to be furnished: lace on everything, all the furniture was very expensive-looking and very old- like touring a fully-furnished living history museum.  Judging by how everyone was dressed, the dream was set in the early 1900s.

That's all I really remember, but I thought up some filler after I woke up to explain some things:

~ the girl's parents were archaeologists, and they recovered the orb in some old dig site or maybe in a backstreet curio shop.  Since the orb is made of jade, I thought maybe it was Aztec in origin, and they brought it from Mexico.

~ the fire was started during an attempt by evil cultists to retrieve the orb for their own nefarious ends.  Maybe the parents had no idea what the orb was for, or maybe they were part of a BPRD-style secret society and were trying to hide the artifact or get it to somewhere it could be contained or destroyed

~ the Snoop Dog servant is actually an agent of the aforementioned cult.  He thinks the orb is still in Polly Ann's possession, but he is not sure where it is since Polly Ann isn't even aware of its existence and has not even attempted to go through the things salvaged after the fire in her grief. I haven't yet decided if the cult is working for the demon or not; my thoughts right now are that the demon and his minions are a separate faction.  I think it would be fun to present the cultists as the real threat, then after their defeat reveal that the demon is really the main antagonist.

~ I haven't decided what the orb does or why it is important.  My first thought was it can summon and control other supernatural things (demons, undead, dark young of Shub-Niggurath, whatever), and it tends to attract such creatures.  And that is where this dream becomes a campaign: the PCs are somehow associated with Matilda and Polly Anne's family, or maybe they are locals from San Francisco, and somehow they end up embroiled in this hunt for the orb.  Maybe the orb, even when passive, summons or attracts supernatural creatures, and the locals in the nearby town and countryside experience supernatural creatures and occurrences, most of which are very malevolent and very dangerous, with increasing frequency, while the PCs try to figure out what the Hell is going on and why everything seems to point to something sinister at the totally normal-seeming estate?

I think this might make a good future product for my RPG line.  I was planning on releasing a bunch of such sourcebook material for various genres anyway, including sample scenarios and freestanding adventures, and I think this might be great for a Gothic horror campaign.  But what do my fellow gamers think?  Does everything make sense between what I dreamed and what I made up later? Anything that you would change? Does it sound like something you would like to play?

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