The Brass Fraternity (Part 1)
A while ago, I made a couple of post mini-series, Walled Mounds of the Hive-Caller and Cursed Monastery of the Crocodile-Behemoth, where I rolled up random adventure details and stitched them together into something playable. Those were pretty fun (both to make and to use in play), so I decided to take another swing at it.
I’ve also been more and more interested in Silent Legions lately, so I’m going to try taking the extra step of making it an adventure for a modern-day cosmic horror setting. Now, there’s a caveat to this: I don’t have an actual specific setting to base it in, nor a specific mythos to tie it to. I’m not seeing that has a huge hurdle, though. Aside from the potential to use it as a stand-alone adventure, every campaign can benefit from some random content that is (or at least seems) unrelated to the major players.
Let’s start with a basic framework: getting two location tags from the d60 table on Silent Legions p.92:
(51, 47): Academic Sorcerers, Suborned Media
So, we’ve got a group of corrupted knowledge-seekers and local media outlets that are bound to the interests of the local elites. I’m thinking of a relatively isolated college town; something along the lines of Lubbock in Texas, South Bend in Indiana, or Kitchener in Ontario; where some cabal of professors runs things from the shadows and uses the media to both cover up their crimes and go after any problems. Before I commit to that completely, though, let’s also get a 2d100 roll on Table 1-2 of Tome of Adventure Design:
32: Feeding / Frame
40: Gate / Hatchery
“Feeding Hatchery” sounds like an attempt to incubate and raise an eldritch child, and “Gate Frame” sounds like a threshold, mirror, picture, etc. that serves as a connection to another dimension. Both are pulling my mind towards FROM’s video games, with a group of scholars trying to learn the secrets of either the lunar slug from the best(?) ending for Bloodborne or the enchanted painting leading to Ariamis in Dark Souls. The former is the clearer connection to the cosmic horror genre, so I’m tempted to do something with the painting idea instead.
I’ll also going to do a 4d200 roll on Table 1-1A/1-1B of Tome of Adventure Design, just to see if that gives any special inspiration:
(184, 187, 62, 176): Sinister Pits of the Leopard-Simulacrum
Interesting! The media control and magical painting ideas had been tilting me towards a Humanities department as the culprit, but perhaps they’re acting in tandem with a Natural Sciences department. I was looking at H.R. Giger’s infamous Penis Landscape painting recently (for thoroughly mundane reasons), so now I’m imagining the eldritch painting is a barren landscape showing a series of dark pits with a pair of leopard eyes looking out from one of them.
Let’s set out a preliminary who/what/when/where/why and identify some possible questions for further elaboration:
Who (…is at the site? …created the site?): There is a secret cabal of professors at the university (how many are involved? are there any uncorrupted professors or similar authorities?). It was founded by (rolling up a random adept from Silent Legions pp.168-169) a Slavic noble who had sought to learn ineffable cosmic truths and mind-altering magics before they were killed by an outsider (were they actually killed? did any of their secrets pass on to their followers? what xenophobia lingers in the town because of the outsider?).
What (…is happening at the site? …obstacles bar the PCs?): The cabal is trying to unlock the secrets of a magical painting, which is actually a gateway connected to another dimension (does the cabal have any idea about that? what specific stuff are they doing to “unlock the secrets”?). The cabal has influence over the local media (what about other local authorities?), which they use to cover up their acts and/or incite hostilities against those who would interfere (how brazen is the cabal? what is the source of their influence over the media?).
When (…does the situation change on its own? …do the NPCs react to PC actions?): The cabal can advance their plans once they learn the painting’s secrets (how long does this take? what resources do they need?). They react as normal people to PC intrusions (planned reactions? are the leaders good at strategic/tactical action? do they take any orders from something beyond the painting?), primarily by leveraging their influence over the media (how far does can that media reach? legal actions? mob retribution?).
Where (…does the adventure happen? …are key locations?): The adventure happens in a small town built around a prestigious university (how isolated is it? what is the university’s specialty?). Key locations can include buildings at the university (how many? which specific buildings?), local media outlets, and notable businesses in the town (are these connected to anything supernatural? are the businesses under explicit influence or just working with the status quo?). Depending on PC actions, it may also spread into the extra-dimensional world beyond the painting (what are the details of this Kelipah?).
Why (…do the PCs get involved?): The cabal has a trove of eldritch items and knowledge (spells? artifacts? can they employ any of these against the PCs?). Residents of the town who aren’t part of the cabal may ask for aid (what are the cabal’s crimes? do the PCs need to overcome the residents’ xenophobia? how would the cabal react to overt requests for aid from outsiders?). The painting could be valuable to the PCs as an artifact (what can it do? how can the PCs learn about it?).
I’ll get more details for some of those as I do further rolls in the Silent Legions adventure creation tables, but I’m saving that for the next post. The “scenes” system used for adventure creation lines up nicely with Justin Alexander’s nodal structure, so it makes sense to wait until I’m rolling up the scenes to start deciding on nodes and clues.
For now, I need an adventure title, so why not roll up a random cult name from the tables on p.78:
Naming Format (12): Material + Group + Laud + Master
(4, 2, 6, 7): Copper, Brotherhood, Blessed, Mistress
I swear I don’t set out to include sexual imagery in my random adventures, but it keeps trying to find its way in. I’ll resist the urge this time and just call my cabal (and thus the adventure) the Brass Fraternity, though I’ll look into mythological representations of leopards to see how I can draw some links between the “Leopard-Simulacrum” and the “Blessed Mistress”.