The Restoration of Evil Re-Write
I am reading a mini- adventure that was published with the 6th Edition Keeper Screen, The Restoration of Evil. It takes place in Red Hook NY, as sort of a sequel to one of Lovecraft’s stories – The Horror at Red Hook – but it just doesn’t cut it for me. Sometimes I just wonder how some of these adventures get published.
I did a little more research into it then I normally do, mostly because it does draw inspiration directly from the Red Hook story. It also has elements of another story called The Festival. I don’t normally make an effort to read the Lovecraftian source material primarily because I find him very difficult to read. But I found it free online in text and audio. I followed along while listening to it, stopping when he started to lose me. I know that sounds infantile but I honestly find it hard to read his work. I need cliff-notes. I did this for both stories.
In doing this, it really helped me appreciate the subtleties of his work, as well as the story he was trying to tell. Red Hook is about a police investigator – Malone – that got pulled into a horrid and evil plot of some extravagant old man and his connection to a squaller infested region of Brooklyn called Red hook. Some of the language he used was borderline racist, giving us a taste of the times. Red Hook is where a lot Ellis Island rejects end up (illegally) as well as obscure immigrant peoples from various location in Europe and Asia. Reading how he tries to instill a sense of fear and foreboding about these various obscure cultures and what strange traditions and sorceries they may bring to America is sort of timely. It is kind of funny how things change and how they stay the same.
The police investigator ends up tangling with a cult, which is vaguely referred to as the Cult of Lilith, equally vaguely relating Lilith to the Judeo-Christian myth of Adam’s first wife. There is also a vague reference relating to another female goddess, Hecate, somehow relating the two. Central to the cops final encounter that drives him insane is a pedestal or altar that the cultists all surround – an artifact that was completely ignored in the adventure. Lost opportunity.
Another lost opportunity is the kidnappings in the Red Hook story. Part of the mystery involved a series kidnappings in Red Hook.
By the time of Suydam’s wedding the kidnapping epidemic had become a popular newspaper scandal. Most of the victims were young children of the lowest classes, but the increasing number of disappearances had worked up a sentiment of the strongest fury.
These events could be linked to an NPC in the adventure. I plan to link it to the one called Andre and give him a deeper motivation.
The Festival is a lot shorter and to the point. A strange guy is summoned by his forefathers to his home town near Kingsport (or is it in Kingsport?) to participate in The Festival, which turns out to be a ritual to the God of the Green Flame, Tulzcha. The horror in this is much more subtle, as he realizes that his lineage may not be entirely human anymore. There is also some kind of minion creature mentioned in the story…
“…tame, trained, hybrid winged things that no sound eye could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain ever wholly remember. They were not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor vampire bats, nor decomposed human beings; but something I cannot and must not recall. ”
Creepy. Another missed opportunity. Looking into the CoC, they interpret these to be byakhee, using the same quote I just pasted above as the intro to that creature stat-block. Definitive enough, I suppose.
Both stories had a common theme of immortality and the search for it through favors from the other gods. One deals with a recluse rich old man who uses the magic of obscure immigrant cultures to contact Lilith and gain youth and marry a young woman (at least that’s what I got out of it). Unfortunately, there was a price to pay for that reward and I am not entirely sure the rich man knew or was prepared to pay that price. However, he did and the cult claimed the debt. The other story deals with the mysteries of a old family with roots in witchcraft, using that magic to gain immortality and a strange ritual involving the Green Flame.
I plan to use both missed opportunities as further story and motivation in the story. I feel like there is something missing in this adventure. The bridge between investigation and final boss fight seems flimsy. Once they investigators find all the clues they need, the boss creature created is nearly impossible to find or kill. If they find the “temple,” all they really suggest is they could stake it out. That’s boring to me. There some convoluted mention of persuading the cops but that seems like a stretch to me too.
So here are my ideas:
Use the Pedestal – The pedestal at one point is said to be gold and it fell into the murky waters of the river. I am thinking that it fell into 4 pieces and the four victims have them. THe cult is killing them and getting the Pedestal. This not only creates a new motivation for the murders but also more use of Malone as a piece of information. Mention something gold to Malone, and I would imagine he would open up more (read the adventure and Malone is pretty much a useless encounter, if the players choose to go there).
The Pedestal can be a generic source of magic that any cult can use. The adventure vaguely goes into the possibility of artifacts but does not explore it too far. The adventure brings in another cult to Red Hook, picking up the pieces of where the Lilith cult left off. What better way to show that aspect of the story than an artifact.
Byakhees – These can be strange shadows above them, watching the investigators at night. I really have no plans for the characters to encounter them until the end but they can add some great aspects to the horror of the game. The fact that the cultists ride them in the story can add an even more interesting aspect. It changes some of the murders – for instance the Russian worker. Instead of the bad guys walking in and bribing the proprietor, they could fly in. This creates different angles and clues.