View Full Version : CoC Scenario: Rasputin's Tomb

2013-01-23, 05:57 PM
So I've recently picked up Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu and fallen in love (or more likely, gone completely insane).

I had a quick search for some one-shot scenarios to try out but didn't really find much (I accept that I may have been looking in the wrong places). There were plenty of good prompts and ideas, but I wanted to find something with a little more structure, something that didn't demand I spend as much time working the details out on as I would my own scenario.

Anyway, in the end I created my own scenario, and here it is.

It was designed as a one-shot to be used as an introduction of sorts, since I wanted to see if a few friends would be as enamoured by the system as I was, but I figure it could be shoehorned into a longer campaign by changing a couple of the details.

I'd love to know what you think (doubly so if you actually run it).

It was tough working out the formatting (and tougher still copying it into forum posts) so I'll apologise for that now.

2013-01-23, 05:58 PM

Grigori Rasputin was murdered on 16th December 1916. After being poisoned, shot, beaten, shot again, and eventually thrown into an icy river, Rasputin's body was found drowned. Examination revealed ice beneath his fingernails where he had tried to claw his way out from under sheets of ice.
Nine months after this event a contact of yours has provided you with details of Rasputin's personal tomb, built several years ago at his instruction. Given the current political climate in the Russian Empire, you hope to secretly explore this tomb and acquire its wealth and secrets then escape back to Europe without drawing attention to yourself.

The scenario pits the Players against Grigori Rasputin, the latest incarnation of a sorcerer whose malice allows him to live on as a wraith after death until he can steal the body of another. Rasputin's latest goal is to become a Vampyre, which will grant him immortality in a more powerful form. To this end he has constructed a tomb that will provide him everything he needs to perform the ritual.
The Characters begin their grave-robbing enterprise while Rasputin is still looking for a new body.


Entrance - A
With an echoing crack you open the tomb of Grigori Rasputin. The wind wails behind you as steep steps draw you down into the musty air of a large chamber. Thick, yellowing candles stand in brass holders in each corner. To your left are four stone slabs like gravestones, and to your right are bundles of books wrapped in fine cloth. In the distance you can make out an archway which leads further into the tomb.

IDEA: You check the dust on the floor before anyone walks around and deduce that nobody has set foot in the chamber for several years, suggesting that Rasputins's body never came to rest here.

The Keeper and Players should clearly establish what light sources the Characters have available and who shall be responsible for them, as it's likely to be fatally important in due course.

A layer of dust covers the stone slabs, but once wiped away detailed engravings can be made out. The language of these engravings differ from slab to slab.

[see: References, Gravestones]
These are gravestones of Rasputin's previous incarnations, written in the following languages: English / Turkish / English / Russian. Given their simplicity, characters with at least 10% in a relevant language skill will automatically be able to read the inscriptions.

Once the name and dates of a figure are known, characters may attempt a History roll to recall further information. Characters who have spent a substantial amount of time (e.g. birthplace) in the specified region may substitute a Knowledge roll instead.

Heavy duty candles provide some light to see by, but not enough to properly illuminate the room.

If lit and left undisturbed, the candles will burn for a full 24 hours. Alone they provide enough light to act in, but a character will have to spend twice as long as usual to read fine details such as words in a book unless they have another light source.

Removing the cloth reveals books covering a vast range of topics, from biology to philosophy to ancient poetry. The books are mostly well kept, but some are very old and fragile.

The first character to search through the books should make a Luck roll: failure means they come across an occult book (a critical failure makes it a Mythos book). [see: References, Books]
Although intriguing, none of the other books hold any real value.

Archway - B
Beyond the archway is another, smaller chamber. Directly in front of you are four ornate coffins, evenly spaced with their lids on. Noticeably there are no candles or other sources of light here. The left hand corner opposite you has an arch that leads to a passageway.

KNOWLEDGE: You note that the four coffins are decorated in distinctly different styles.

SPOT HIDDEN/2: As you look around you're unnerved by the brickwork on the right hand side of the room. Two pillars have been built into the wall, but in the low light the bricks in between appear warped.

A History roll will place the coffins at approximate dates and places: Colonial America / Tulip Period Ottoman Empire / Victorian England / Present-day Russia. Characters with some reason to have studied coffins and/or death rituals may substitute a Knowledge roll instead.

Shifting Passageways:
[see: Keeping, Trapping the Characters]

Relic Room - C
Even a layer of grime isn't enough to hide the allure of gold and gemstone from the items in this room. Treasures from all over the globe are collected here: fine chalices, jewellery, small statues made of jade and gold.
LISTEN: You find it strange that even this far into the tomb you can still hear the ghostly wail of the wind just as strongly as at the entrance.

The passageway into this room switches between Rooms B and D [see: Keeping, Trapping the Characters].

Players are likely to begin discussing how the loot is to be divided up. Take into consideration that gold is heavy, and Characters will have to carry anything they choose to steal [see: References, Relics and Treasure].

A Knowledge roll reveals a particular treasure thought to be lost and worth more than the rest of the room combined. A Character with a particular interest in Polish history may re-roll.

One item in particular draws your attention: the Crown of Bolesław the Brave, part of the Polish crown jewels believed to have been destroyed in 1794. Its return would draw more wealth and attention than the rest of the room combined.

Spike Rooms - D + E
FIRST: Upon entering this room you feel, rather than hear, a heavy ticking beneath your feet. A deep cut into the floor, capped with metal, splits this room diagonally from one corner to the other.
SECOND: The ticking beneath your feet returns as you find yourself in another room with a deep cut running diagonally from corner to corner.
LISTEN: You find it strange that even this far into the tomb you can still hear the ghostly wail of the wind just as strongly as at the entrance.

Since rooms D and E are essentially the same the first and second descriptions can be used regardless of the order in which they are encountered. More so than other rooms it will be important for Players to be able to visualise exactly where they are – consider drawing a simple layout for them showing the exits and the groove.

Spike Trap:
You kneel down to peer into the cut across the floor and notice that the ticking feels particularly pronounced on the metal edging. Bringing your light source closer you get a better look and can make out a row of metal rods or... spikes?
[see: Encounters, Spike Trap]

Rasputin has control over the spike trap, which snaps a row of iron spikes to bisect the room. This will be done to split the party, giving Rasputin a chance to prey on one while others are unable to help.

When sprung, Characters may attempt to bend one of the spikes so they may slip through the row of iron bars. Match the Character's STR against the spike's STR of 15 on the Resistance Table. Success bends the spike; failure weakens the spike's STR by one (cumulative). 10 minutes taken per attempt. If two Characters (max) work together, use the highest STR of the two and add half STR of the other (round-up).

Characters of SIZ 9 or less may squeeze through without any spikes being bent, SIZ 10-16 require one spike bent, and SIZ 17 or more require two spikes bent. It will take one round for a character to squeeze through, regardless of their SIZ.

Skeleton Tomb - F
This chamber appears half finished: there's a large pile of burlap sacking in one corner, loose stones in another, and patches of sand or gravel scattered about the floor. Movement among the sacking catches your eye – but it lies perfectly still when you turn back. There's a distinctly earthy smell present.

Two human skeletons are hidden within the sacking and these can be possessed by Rasputin (if he so chooses, and only one at a time) for a physical encounter [see: Encounters, Skeletons]. Rasputin will be using this opportunity to weaken his victims.

You remove the sacking to reveal the skeletal remains of two human bodies, their eyeless skulls grinning up at you in mockery of their fate.

Sanity Loss [0/1D2] for uncovering the remains. If examined, the bones are found to be mostly complete except for a few critical locations (collarbone/ribcage) that have been shattered.

Wraith Tomb - G
Narrow steps lead down to a small chamber, with similar steps on the other side of the room leading out again. In the corner there's a metal toolbox, and next to that is a book wrapped in fine cloth. Near the centre of the room are three iron chains running from floor to ceiling.
SPOT HIDDEN: You notice scratches in the wall that appear to be writing in an unrecognisable language.

A fine lock hides the contents of this metal box. It's light, and you can't feel anything moving around inside, but it's much colder to the touch than you would have expected.

The toolbox contains a Crystal of the Elder Things, capable of storing 7 Magic Points (currently fully charged). Rasputin can use this after Mind Transfer to restore Magic Points required to combat the other Characters or perform his ritual.

A Locksmith roll can open the toolbox, but Mechanical Repair is not sophisticated enough to do so.

A Cthulhu Mythos roll will identify the Crystal, failing that, an Occult roll will at least hint at its purpose.

At first glance you assume the tome in your hands to be very old, if carefully preserved. It takes a little time for you to realise that this is actually a collection of notes and copied pages from various sources, bound by careful but amateur hands.

The book is Rasputin's notes on becoming a Vampyre. [see: References, Becoming a Vampyre]

The chains are unnaturally cold to the touch. They appear to be weighted, so that a sharp tug will activate them.

Rasputin uses these chains to manipulate the passageways and the spike traps. Any of these may be activated by the players, although they won't know the effect of their efforts until they investigate.

Label the chains X, Y, and Z. Chains X and Y will activate the spike traps, while chain Z switches the corridors [see: Keeping, Trapping the Players].

Vampyre Room - H
The first thing you notice is a stone slab lying in the centre of the room like a kind of altar. It's waist high and large enough for someone to lie down on.
The walls here are unusual in that the entire room appears to have been cut out of a single solid block of granite: the walls are polished and show no signs of a join.

This is the room in which Rasputin will perform his ritual to become a Vampyre. Take care that Rasputin has access to this room after he seizes control of a new body.

The altar has grooves cut into it running diagonally from each corner and meeting in the centre. At each corner there's an indentation the size of a shot glass.
SPOT HIDDEN: A subtle cutaway reveals an ornamental dagger stashed away.

The altar is required for Rasputin's ritual. Destroying it would disrupt his plans:
If a Character has a suitable tool (a large, blunt instrument) they may attempt to destroy the altar. Match the Character's STR against the altar's STR of 12 on the Resistance Table. Success breaks the altar; failure weakens the altar's STR by one (cumulative). 15 minutes taken per attempt.

Crafted for appearances instead of practical use, the blade of this dagger is bright and slightly curved, and the grip is adorned with gold leaf. Although an ornamental piece, the dagger is sharp enough to cut if a little force is applied.

A Knowledge roll from any Character will confirm the metal as silver, and a Chemistry roll will show that it is (unusually) crafted from pure silver instead of an alloy. Note that poor lighting can be blamed for uncertainty in the exact composition of the dagger.

FIRST: The passageway is cramped, forcing you into single file, and you're halfway through before you can make out the opening on the other side. You reach out to brush a cobweb out of your face only to realise that it was a trick of the light. In fact, you don't recall seeing any signs of life at all in this tomb.
SECOND: Dust brushed from the wall as you squeeze through forces you to cough, and the noise reverberates down the passage coming back as distorted hacking.
THIRD: The quality of the air is starting irritate your skin and make your head throb. Shuffling along in silence you begin to feel anxious, desperate to be in open sunlight.
NAVIGATE: As you enter, you notice that the corridor travels at a different angle than than it used to.

The navigate description should be used on a successful Navigate roll by a Character when the room C is passageway is entered after it has been shifted.

2013-01-23, 06:01 PM

A spark of pale blue light illuminates the room for a second then die away. As you look for the source you notice movement within the sacking. Before you can investigate, human bones rise up from within, pulling themselves to a standing skeleton.

Rasputin's aim will be to cause as much damage as possible to nearby Characters. He will prefer to target characters with a high POW (as these will be most problematic for him as a Wraith) or strong fighting skills (as these could interfere when he assume the body of another Character).

CLAW1: The skeleton lurches, its jaw hanging loose as it rakes at [character] with bony fingers animated by unnatural power.
CLAW2: The sound of bone grating against bone splinters around the room. Knuckles crack as the skeleton swipes at [character].
GRAPPLE: The abomination rolls its skull back as if to laugh, but no sound is made. Without concern for its own defence it launches itself at [character] and attempts to pin them.

Spike Trap
When the trap is about to be sprung, the Keeper should clarify with the Players what their Characters are doing. If they cannot provide a reasonable explanation for why they would be on one side of the room or the other, use a Luck roll to decide whether they end up on their intended side or not.

The ticking stops with a clang like a weight being released, and suddenly a row of iron spikes shoot up from the cut in the middle of the room.

Characters studying the cut/groove (or foolish enough to attempt to cross it when the trap is sprung) risk being hit by the trap. Roll against Luck to see if the Character is fortunate enough to be out of harm's way. If that fails, the Character must pass a dodge roll or be hit by the rising gate.

The gate always deals 2D8+2 damage (impale included), and if the Character survives they will be pinned to the gate (for an extra 1D2 damage for every hour they're left hanging).

LOW: [character]'s leg is impaled clean through by the rising spikes. Their leg snaps as its dragged from underneath them and they find themselves hanging upside down, slowly sliding back towards the ground. Roll for Sanity [0/1].
MEDIUM: A spike is driven through [character]'s jaw, and sheer determination alone allows them to stay on their feet as it grinds against their teeth on its continuing ascent. Roll for Sanity [0/1D3].
HIGH: A spike drives itself clean through [character]'s body as it rises, hoisting them into the air and pinning them against the ceiling for a moment, until gravity takes its toll and their limp body starts sliding towards the ground. Roll for Sanity [0/1D3].

In second and further encounters with this trap Players will be much more cautious. Their fear can be drawn out by purposefully not springing the spikes.

Wraith of Rasputin:
Appearing from the air, you see an ethereal light composed faint strands that coalesce into the image of grasping hands and an agonised face. A distant scream can be heard as it reaches out towards [character].

Rasputin's Wraith has a POW of 21 and an INT of 15

You swing at the spectral light with all your force but pass straight through, putting you off balance. As you stumble, you feel a tendril of frost caress your cheek.

The light reaches out towards [character], wrapping slithers of itself around their torso. A fiendish maw shapes itself and stretches as if to devour [character].

The Wraith of Rasputin has the following spells:
Mind Transfer -
A flash of blue illuminates the room and for a second there's a bridge of light between the ethereal mist and [character], who stands pained and rigid.
[see: Keeping, Using Mind Transfer]
Power Drain -
Tendrils of light wrap around [character]'s chest, and the feel an icy cold coiling around their heart.

In addition, Rasputin still retains knowledge of spells he learned while alive, and can cast them again if he assumes physical form:
Healing -
Deflect Harm -
[character] extends their hand forward, staring at you with blank eyes, seemingly oblivious to the possibility of being harmed.

Rasputin has two things that he needs: a body to steal and a victim to sacrifice. Draining STR is often the best way to render a victim immobile while leaving them alive and conscious, making for a perfect sacrifice [see: References, Becoming a Vampyre]. To acquire a body, Rasputin will use Power Drain to push the odds for Mind Transfer further into his favour.

He will typically try to single out Characters when they're alone (or better still, when their allies can watch but cannot help), and will attack for a few rounds then disappear. He does this partly out of sadistic glee, and partly to ensure his sacrifice is in a suitable state.

Although he cannot be harmed by light or fire, Rasputin tends to draw away from them if a Character directs them at him. He does this so that Characters think they have a way to combat him and therefore seek him out rather than flee, giving him more time to do as he wishes (and more opportunities to create fear and grief within his victims).

2013-01-23, 06:02 PM

Trapping the Characters
For a Keeper looking to see some fear and terror from his players, the greatest asset Rasputin has is his ability to separate and trap the Characters. There are two tools built into Rasputin's tomb to do this, both of which are controlled by the iron chains in room G.

Shifting Passageways
There are two potential passageways leading from room C - passages CD and CB – and Rasputin can choose which one is active. (the actual passageway is the same, but a mechanism spins it between rooms D and B). Passage CB is open when the players enter. Players will therefore enter room C where the wealth is held, but upon leaving (by the same exit) they will find themselves in room D instead of B.

In addition, passageway FB is blocked when the players first enter, but when the passages are shifted it becomes unblocked (so that room B always has some access to the rest of the tomb). The passages may be shifted at any time Rasputin is unengaged as a Wraith.

Spike Traps
When first discovered, the spike traps in rooms D and E are a chance to split the party onto either side of a barrier. It's difficult to succeed in this twice, but the traps can still be used to stop players from moving from the centre of the tomb to the only entrance/exit. If Rasputin has Characters at his mercy, he'll want the traps raised to stop others from coming to their aid.
The traps may be raised an lowered separately, and at any time Rasputin is unengaged as a Wraith.

Note: keep in mind that Rasputin needs to be able to move around his tomb when he has stolen the body of a Character in order to perform the ritual.

Using Mind Transfer
Rasputin's ability to switch minds with a Character can be played in two broad ways. The least complication arises when Rasputin targets an NPC, giving the Players a physical enemy to struggle against that doesn't rob anyone of their Character.

However, forcibly switching a PC into the body of a Wraith has a lot of roleplaying potential. On conclusion of Mind Transfer, the target Character must roll for sanity [1D10/1D20]. The amount of Sanity lost is then matched against the Character's POW on the Resistance Table, with failure meaning the Wraith loses all form and dissipates. Success means the Character lives on as a Wraith (albeit very confused and quite probably insane).

You lose all consciousness of your surroundings - the world around you is black and silent – and all you can sense is a freezing cold stone in the centre of your mind. The cold reaches out, creating rivers of ice within you, and slowly the world begins to reform in layers of faded shadows. Overlapping shadows begin to take form, and you realise that you're looking at the ghostly image of your own face.

Discuss with the Player secretly how play should continue: they can struggle on as their Character as a Wraith, or they can play as Rasputin in their Character's body and turn against their former allies (be clear what Rasputin's intentions will be, and how best he can carry them out).

Concluding the Scenario
Rasputin's goal is to become a Vampyre. If he can achieve this the Players will be responsible for letting another monstrosity loose upon the world.
Play will typically end when all Characters have either fled the tomb or become incapacitated in some way. Rasputin has no desire to hunt down the Characters (yet), and any that succeed in fleeing the tomb can be assumed capable of escaping back to their homeland with any wealth they happened to be carrying.

Rasputin can be defeated in Wraith form (although if characters have access to abilities that make this likely, considering running a different scenario), or killed after a successful Mind Trasfer. Killing Rasputin's new body won't rid the world of him entirely, but it will be a month or two before he's able to reform as a Wraith, by which time his tomb has likely been plundered.

If the altar is destroyed Rasputin may still beat the Players by killing all of the Characters, but they can take solace in knowing that they've greatly hindered his plans.

2013-01-23, 06:04 PM

John Carver (1576 - 1621)
Language: English
Region: Massachusetts
One of the early colonists of America, John Carver was chosen as the first governor of Plymouth after arriving on the Mayflower. He and his family suffered greatly when arriving in America, and were saved only by the good will of the native people. He died of exhaustion while labouring in the fields for the good of his settlement.

Ibrahim Mόteferrika (1674 - 1745)
Language: Ottoman Turkish
Region: Turkey
Ibrahim Muteferrika was an ethnic Hungarian Unitarian who converted to Islam. He was a scholar of many disciplines and and the first Muslim to run a printing press with movable Arabic type. By virtue of the books printed, he credited with bringing heliocentrism to the Ottoman readers, however three years before his death his press was shut down after dissent from rivals threatened by its efficiency.

Arthur Thistlewood (1774 - 1820)
Language: English
Region: England
A British conspirator and leader within the Society of Spencean Philanthropists. In 1820 he was part of a small group of Spencean's who attempted to assassinate several members of the British government. Thistlewood and his co-conspirators were arrested when a police spy within their group gave them away, and subsequently hanged and decapitated.

Grigori Rasputin (1869 - 1916)
Language: Russian
Region: Russia
Spiritual man and close friend of the Tsar and Tsarina of the Russian Empire, Rasputin was employed by the royal family as a healer to their only son Alexei, a haemophiliac. It's been said that he alone could heal Alexei when complications arose. His life was shrouded in rumours, scandal, and eventually near-constant surveillance.

Occult – The Golden Bough (abridged) – Russian – 3 weeks to study, 3 hours to skim.
0/1D2 Sanity Loss; Occult +5%; no spells

Mythos – Massa Di Requiem Per Shuggay – English – 2 weeks to study, 2 hours to skim.
1D3/1D6 Sanity Loss; Mythos +4%; Call Azathoth

Occult – On the Makings of a Vampyre – Russian – 1 week to study, 1 hour to skim.
0/1D2 Sanity Loss; Occult +3%; Ritual of the Vampyre
At first glance you assume the tome in your hands to be very old, if carefully preserved. It takes a little time for you to realise that this is actually a collection of notes and copied pages from various sources, bound by careful but amateur hands.

Becoming a Vampyre
Over centuries of study, Rasputin has discovered the means by which a mortal man may transform himself into a Vampyre, noting his findings down in his journal that may be found in room G (On the Makings of a Vampyre, as above). This journal contains the spell Ritual of the Vampyre which may be performed to transform the caster.

To perform the ritual, the caster will let the blood of his sacrifice using a ceremonial dagger made of a pure metal, infusing the released blood with the essence of the dagger and the ritual incantations. This sacrifice must be performed on an altar that will collect the blood at its four corners.
The sacrifice provides more than just blood, as the caster will feed off both physical and immaterial offering, so blood, fear, and hatred or grief will all serve to empower the new vampyre.

A vampyre created using a sacrifice:
without blood - will be pale and sickly, unable to stand strong sunlight
without fear - will be fearful himself, quick to hide from symbols of faith or power
without hatred/grief - will loose all passion, drifting aimlessly through life

The transformation is triggered when the sacrifice dies and their soul released into the ether, and the sorcerer uses this breach between words to become something that exists within both.
Because the ceremonial dagger is used to bind the new vampyre to the physical world, only a weapon made from the same metal will have the power to unbind him.

Mechanically, the caster spends 1 Magic Point for every 3 Hitpoints that the sacrifice has, then 1D3 damage is dealt to the sacrifice in the blood letting, with a further 1 point of damage each round thereafter from blood loss. When the sacrifice dies, the ritual is over and the caster is transformed.
The Vampyre may now re-roll stats based on the Vampyre stat-block, choosing to replace or discard each roll. However, INT and POW are not re-rolled, APP is no longer applicable, and current Hitpoints is always set equal to the Hitpoints of the sacrifice when the ritual began (maximum Hitpoints remain unaffected).

example: Rasputin successfully steals a new body and casts Ritual of the Vampyre. When complete, he re-rolls stats using the Vampyre block and gets: STR 22, CON 10, SIZ 12, DEX 10. His scores for STR and DEX are better than the 10 and 8 he had before, so these get replaced, but he retains the 11 CON and 13 SIZ of his original scores because he new rolls didn't beat them. His maximum Hitpoints are 12, but because his sacrifice only had 5 Hitpoints he rises with 5 Hitpoints remaining.