Mansions of Madness rewrite
I am planning to run a Call of Cthulhu (CoC) adventure and have picked out a couple to look at. I really want to run all of the Mansions of Madness adventures, starting with first one which is called Mr. Corbitt. Oddly, it’s the same name as the antagonist in the core rule book The Haunting adventure but apparently no relation.
But the nosey neighbor scenario that this adventure presents really bugs me. Why don’t the investigators go to the police and leave it at that? The adventure even asks that very question but never gives a sufficient answer. Hallucinogenic drugs can only go so far. If a cop goes missing, that’s serious business even in the 1920s.
There is also the question of Corbitt and performing his evil practices for 14 years. This is the first time anyone has noticed these strange occurrences? I have a hard time stretching my belief that far. And on top of that, 14 years across the street from investigators? Really?
Also, I have a hard time picturing neighborhoods in the 1920s except those that were downtown near city center, which is not very far from the police station or other authorities. As one goes further out from town, the further spaced the homes are, I would imagine. So it’s unlikely any particular neighbor would be directly across the street. I just have a hard time picturing based on what I have seen in my life.
So here are my ideas for a re-write:
Pull #1 – Nosey Neighbor Scenario #2
The investigators are hired by a neighbor that saw something while walking or driving home.
Not my favorite option but still keeps the same flavor.
Pull #2 – Jilted business partner
The basic premise of this is that Theodore Corbitt (Bernard Corbitt’s father) had a business partner that got stiffed out of the business 14 years ago, when Mrs. Corbitt’s wife signed over the business to Bernard. This partner (Mr. J. Douglas Kramer from New York City) has spent the past 14 years trying to find a legal way to get his share back, but has failed at every turn. Local lawyers seem to be afraid to take on the work, and any lawyer that he hires outside of the city ends up not returning his calls.
Giving up on legal means, Kramer has decided to hire the players to stake out the house and find some dirt on Corbitt. Why are the lawyers so afraid to move against Corbitt?
Mr. Kramer has rented a vacant house in the neighborhood for the investigators. He asks them to not make their presence obvious by parking a bunch of cars in front of the house or having major gatherings at the house. Use the house as the primary stake out center for the investigation but nothing more. The house is three doors down from Corbitt’s home, so the investigators will have to watch the house from a closer location.
Kramer will give them the first article about Theodore death.
Because this adventure is so under developed, I came up with some enhancements:
Enhancement #1: Why would Yog Sothoth care?
The text of the adventure states
As a last resort, Corbin will call upon Yog-Sothoth himself to destroy the investigators.
But the core rulebook clearly states that Outer Gods rarely care about humans and their problems. Why would Yog Sothoth waste his time with the problems of Corbitt when the Outer God has so much more at his disposal? This one in particular can teleport any single being from any point in the universe to another. Why not teleport some alien creature to harass investigators? So I would word that sentence a little differently:
As a last resort, Corbin will call upon the power Yog-Sothoth to destroy the investigators.
This leave it open for the keeper to pick a creature from any one of the many volumes of creatures provided by Chaosium or for the Keeper to make up their own.
Enhancement #2: The neighbors are no help?
With all these drugs at his disposal, Corbitt may use it to build a buffer of social protection around him (and prevent the whole nosey neighbor situation). He can easily get the neighbors closest to him addicted to some hallucinogenic (by sharing food from his garden) in order to manipulate them. Some may end up going insane to some degree.
I plan to leave one crotchety old lady who would not take his vegetables, and instead was poisoned by a creature summoned by Corbitt. She lays long dead in her house, no one caring because they are all addicted and hallucinating anyway.
This particular scenario assumes that the investigators are brought in by some outside source (using pull #1 or pull #2)
Neighbor #1 – Clifford Gallingsby (Textiles mogul)
(Been under the influence of Corbitt for 10 years)
Corbitt lives closest to Gallingsby They were friends at one time, in high school. They both inherited the family business. Their fathers were also friends. Gallingsby had a family but they left him after he started his addiction and obsessive behavior over Corbitt. His wife and two kids moved to Ohio in hopes that he would change eventually.
He is now very addicted to a psychotropic drug that makes him susceptible to Corbitt’s suggestion. He remains loyal to Corbitt and if he suspects that anyone wishes harm to Corbitt, he will defend his friend/master to the death.
Neighbor #2 – Keenan and Irma Miles (Dilettantes)
(Been under the influence of Corbitt for 8 years)
Children of British citizens, these two were brother and sister, living with the mother and father. The young 20-somethings lived a life or rich dilettantes, naive of the darker side of the work. They were perfect victims of Corbitt’s drugs and manipulation.
Corbitt fed them vegetables grown in his garden with drugs that drove them insane. Envisioning themselves of ancient Roman nobility, the brother and sister murdered their parents in their beds and now live off their parents money while the parents rotted bodies remain where they died. They reported their parents missing after they went on a trip across country, and because their family had enough influence, there was no investigation.
Now in their early 30s, the couple lives as husband and wife (in all its meaning) in secrecy and host lavish parties every weekend at the house. All take part in the food provided by Corbitt and many become mildly addicted as well. No one is allowed up stairs in their parents room and the room remain locked.
Neighbor #3 – Gabriella Holland (wife to retired Judge)
(Been under the influence of Corbitt for 6 years)
Gabriella was a model citizen and a model wife. Her husband was a hard man, hard judge and a strict parent. After he retired, they wanted to be left alone and out of public eye. Judge Stanton Holland, a Army vet and staunch conservative, was a hard man to live with, but Gabriella was a good Christian wife and lived as a good wife should – obedient to her husband …until she met Mr Corbitt.
The drugged vegetables unleashed a savage beast of a woman. She murdered her husband but was smart enough to make it look like mob hit (news paper article?). She changed from a quaint quiet lady to a black widow of a woman. For the past 6 years, she has been inviting men to her house and if she gets a whim, they become another victim of her serial killing spree. She has enough connections in the police that no one suspects her, but all her bodies are buried in the back yard.
Neighbor #4 – General Augustine Gabriel Myers (former Great War vet, general)
(Been under the influence of Corbitt for 7 years)
General Myers is a recluse and suffering from post traumatic stress from the war. He never married and earned a considerable pension. In fact, he is milking the government for a considerable amount because “he saw things” that the government would not like for people to know.
Myers was difficult for Corbitt to contact. Eventually he simply left samples of his vegetables on his door step in hopes that the old man would try them. However, he simply left them to rot.
Eventually Corbitt learned that the old man did not get around very easily, suffering from an old War wound. Every other day, the government assigned nurse would visit the General’s house. Corbitt would always time his deliveries about the time she would arrive. Soon he had them both addicted to another strange concoction.
This particular drug had a two-fold effect on the General. First it convinced his body that it was healed of its wounds, even though in fact it wasn’t. He no longer feels the pain and is very active. This continues to do degenerative damage to his muscles and nervous system but he is oblivious of it.
Secondly, it has tapped his post traumatic stress so much that now his house is a fortress. Sand bags surround the entire grounds and a trench was dug around it. He does not have the weapons he once did during the war, but he makes due. He has a revolver which he uses only in emergency. He is paranoid and convinced that everyone in the neighborhood wants him dead. He has to kill silently or the horde of his enemies will swarm in and attack. He uses a knife primarily, sneaking up and attacking whoever treads on his land.
Throughout is heavily wooded land, the General has booby traps all around. From the outside, the house looks fairly normal. The sand bags are hidden by hedges, booby traps are hidden in the trees.
Neighbor #5 – Daphne Aileen Cotton (old Widower)
(Murdered 4 years ago)
Daphne was the little old lady in the neighborhood. She went walking every week with her dog, always friendly and neighborly. However, she kept a dark secret. She secretly hated everyone in the neighborhood and wanted nothing more than to be left alone. On the surface, she was a pleasant and quiet little old lady. But deep down inside, she was unhappy, crotchety and angry.
Corbitt found Daphne to be his hardest customer. She refused to talk to him and anytime he brought her garden vegetables, she’d turn him away. In her feigned-kindness, she condescendingly put Corbitt down continuously. It drove Corbitt to drastic measure.
Corbitt conjured up a poisonous creature to infiltrate the old ladies home and kill her. He created a small vine like creature that slithered into her house, poisoned her in her sleep, and implant itself inside her body. Now the inside of her house is overgrown with this living fleshy vine, originating from her bedroom.
From the outside, the house looks normal, although the curtains are drawn and nothing can be seen through the windows – as if something is blocking them. Inside, the investigators will be attacked by the vines. The only way to stop the vines is to destroy the body in some way.