Adventure Notes: Dreadful
(Adventure inspired by Clive Barker’s Dread short story)
PCs can be brought in using one of the following ways:
- Hired by MU as new psychology teachers and staff, one of which is replacing one that has disappeared (Quaid)
- Hired to investigate the disappearance of Quaid
- Hired to investigate the disappearance of Stephen Grace.
If they are hired through 2 or 3, they will initially not know what the two are related.
New Psychology Staff
The investigators are hired as new staff for the Psychology department, and at least one of them is hired to replace the missing Dr Quaid. Quaid is said to have disappeared without a trace during the past summer. He never reported in for his summer classes and as a result, was terminated from his position with the university. No one really knew him well. He rarely used his office. He taught a hard-line approach to psychology with a strong bias for his own (unfounded) theories. He was up for review soon and most believed he would not pass.
Investigating the Disappearance of Quaid
After two months of no contact, finally someone has shown some concern about Quaid’s disappearance. An associate asked his landlady to check the house he was renting. She found the house still full of his belongings but no sign of Quaid. The associate called the PCs.
Investigating the Disappearance of Stephen Grace
The Investigators have been hired by a rich family – the Graces – in Boston to find their missing son – Stephen Grace – who has been missing for an unknown amount of time. They last heard from him at the beginning of the spring semester when he settled into his third year at Miskatonic University. He is a psychology student. He had written to them requesting more money, of course.
Stephen is known to be a all-around nice guy, although he had a troubled childhood like most kids. He is deaf in one ear from a farm accident. They don’t tell the Investigators unless asked that it caused serious complications and for years, Stephen as a child had a hearing disorder.
Axe Clown murders
Throughout the adventure, the players will learn (or will already know) about a clown-like axe murderer stalking college students at MU. There have been at least 2 murders. Witnesses say they saw a clown figure leaving the scene.
Some call it the return of old man Hampton, although he was killed by cops in a raid of his house years ago. Investigating into the Hampton Axe murders reveal the story of a serial killer in the early 1900s that brought young victims to his house but no mention of a clown.
The primary motivation or Pull for this is cash. If they picked option (1) and oare educators, clues about Quaid and his work will lead them to investigate his disappearance.
Connections will be made that they two disappearances are connected through interviews with students, the land lady, etc. Investigators should not need to go to the House until late in the adventure.
The story begins with a friendship between the teacher Dr. Quaid and grad student Stephen Grace. Both had a passion for Psychology and unlocking human potential. People that overheard their discussions at local cafes and speakeasies heard Quaid’s belief that fear is a means to solving many of humanity’s deepest psychological problems. “Unlock those fears directly and you unlock power to control them.”
Through other clues, perhaps in his office or papers he wrote in the campus psychology journal, Quaid believed that fear was the strongest power in the human emotion and it is what drives most human behavior one way or another. He believed there was something behind that, another persona or being within a being – something he called “the beast” – that once controlled can unlock human potential. Once unlocked, that power had unlimited potential, opening gateways to other human potential.
Grace the Poet – One location in particular the Investigators can look into is a poetry reading speakeasy called Mumfords. It’s a hidden little place in the college streets of Arkham. Apparently, Stephen Grace has dabbled in poetry and gained some notoriety in that community early on. However, as he got more and more involved with Quaid, his poetry took a darker turn, taking about the fear, rage, the power of the soul to open other dimensions, and the things beyond. He left some notes behind in the dressing room. I friend could show these to them with some persuasion. Being a speakeasy, it’s harder to get much out of people there.
(Came up with this idea while transcribing it. My thoughts hare this gives the Keeper an opportunity to write some twisted poetry. Central themes are deep fears, rage, and the power of the mind to unlock the unknown).
Ms. Cheryl Fromm is a student that Quaid was rumored to be involved with. She can fill in many of the gaps of his theories, as well as fill in any gaps between all the hearsay from the cafe scene. The only thing she is not open about is the experience she had with Quaid and the reason she no longer is involved with him.
To the Investigators, Ms. Fromm is a calm and colelcted person, who seems to hiding something – perhaps more than the can initially perceive. A successful Psychology roll will determine she is not stable and a Hard Success reveals signs of split personality.
A successful Spit Hidden (smell) allows the Investigator to get a whiff of a very strange smell off her. A Hard success tells the Investigator that it smells something like raw meat.
Investigating Ms Fromm: She was also a student of Quaid, well known for her heated arguments with Quaid in class. She was staunchly opposed to his theories. They soon started meeting and this grew into a highly inappropriate relationship (against school policy).
It is well known that Ms. Fromm is a staunch “vegetarian” and refuses to eat any kind of meat. This does not jive with the strange smell they sensed earlier in her presence.
During this time, Stephen worked with Quaid less. At some point, both Cheryl and Stephen stopped going to Quaid’s class. CHeryl eventually returned to class, but Stephen never did.
Cheryl’s story – She will tell the Investigators (if intimidated or persuaded enough) that Quaid was involved in some unorthodox experiments, some of which she was involved with.
It takes more persuading for her to clarify on her involvement. She was the subject of a month long study into her fear. Her dietary habits are born of a fear of meat relating to her past of growing up on a pig farm. Quaid tapped that fear, forced her to confront it, ans she “feels like a new person because of it.”
(It is during this time, I had Cheryl serve these guys lunch. What’s for lunch? Beef stew, of course. And in truth, the stew is human flesh.)
The Truth about Cheryl – Quaid has unlocked the “beast” within Cheryl. At night, she is a human-flesh eating savage that has to be contained with human flesh. Quaid accomplishes this by feeding her his victims (for he is the axe-wielding clwn murderer.
Quaid’s house is in a remote part of Arkahm, surrounded by forest. Here, he spent most of his time on his research and experiments. It is located on the old farm once owned by the Hampton family, a now notorious name in the region because of its history.
The house itself has it’s dark past. It was home to a notorious axe murderer, Joshua Hampton, the last descendant of the Hampton family. Unmarried and driven insane by some unknown cause (GM’s discretion – should be something Lovecraftian), the man would drag young victims to his house and torture them in his torture chambers while they hung from the ceiling by chains. He would cut off their extremities with an Axe and let them bleed out, tortuously. After 16 deaths in two weeks, the towns people threatened to do something and so the the local law was forced to raid his house and he died in a hail of gunfire in the house.
It was this dread and rage that imprinted on the house and drove Quaid insane. All he wanted to do was explore his fear of clowns and in doing, awakened the spirit of Hampton. At night, Quaid is possessed by the spirit, driven in his own twisted way to continue the murders. Through the lense of his own fear, Quaid dresses as a horrific clown and murders students in their beds. Then takes pieces of them to Ms. Fromm to feed her beast.
Unknown to the landlady or anyone else, there is a series of tunnels under the house – torture chambers credely built by Hampton but converted into a fear lab by Quaid.