Call of Cthulhu : The Mystery of Loch Feinn

This is a summary of the Call of Cthulhu Game played at CERN Games Club on 20 and 27 March 2022.
The game is set exactly 100 years ago, in March 1922.

Elaine Gibbson, an academic in London, received the terrible news that her father had been murdered in Scotland, on the outskirts of the town of Gregor, on the shore of Loch Feinn. Her father was a paleontologist working for the British Museum, following up on his theory that some form of prehistoric life—most likely a plesiosaurus—had survived and was living in the loch. His investigations were being obstructed by the local MacAllan clan, who own most of the land around the loch. In his last letters before his death, he said that he felt he was being followed by the MacAllans.

Elaine told this tale to a group of her friends and contacts and together they set off for Gregor to investigate how her father had met his death.

Elaine’s father, Professor Willard Gibbson, had somehow linked the mysterious standing stones around the loch to the hypothesised lake-dwelling creature. The investigators decided to follow up this line of research. They approached Paton MacGuffin, a farmer whose property abutted the lake shore, and hired his rowing boat to visit an island which had one of the standing stones that Prof. Gibbson had been so interested in. Mr. Dewar, an aeronautical engineer, was able to verify that the stone was giving off a strong magnetic field.

Sherlock Johns, a private investigator, was a fearless man of action who decided to swim across the loch and explore the opposite shore, land belonging to the MacAllans. The other investigators decided not to follow this foolhardy venture and returned to Paton’s farm and from there to Gregor.

The next night, Saturday, the investigators approached Sean MacAllan in the Rose of the Highlands pub. Elaine attempted to charm him and persuaded him to take her back to his home—but it was clear that his intentions were not honorable. The rest of the investigators followed and watched as Elaine was taken inside the MacAllan farmhouse. They decided she needed rescuing, so put together a plan. In the tool shed outside the farmhouse there was a jerry can of kerosene. This they poured over the thatched roof of the shed and set alight as a distraction. The investigators took advantage of the resulting chaos to hide at the rear of the house while the MacAllans desperately tried to put out the fire with buckets of water filled from the animal trough.

Oliver, a petty thief and fence who helped Sherlock as a streetwise informant, tried to enter the farmhouse from the back. The door was bolted from the inside. He tried to climb to an upper window which was open, but fell and injured his ankle. His cry of pain alerted Elaine, who had been locked in the upper bedroom. Elaine tied together the filthy bedsheets, squeezed through the small window, and descended safely to join the others. She reported that in the kitchen, she had seen the feet of a man tied to a chair. She couldn’t see his face as there was furniture blocking her view, but she thought it must be Sherlock! (Indeed, he had been captured at gunpoint during his reconnaissance of the MacAllan farm).

Oliver snuck around the front of the building and in through the front door, hoping that the fire was still sufficient distraction. But he was seen by one of the MacAllan men! He slammed the door shut and threw the bolts. He rushed to the bound man—it was Sherlock!—and cut his bonds with his pocket knife. Sherlock had been punched and physically abused but was still able to walk. Oliver and Sherlock rushed towards the back door. One of the windows smashed, and a shotgun barrel poked through. There was a loud gunshot and Sherlock was lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

Meanwhile, around the front of the farm, Blair Reaper (a journalist/photographer) decided to try to create more chaos by releasing the long-haired highland cows from the cowshed. He was also seen as he entered the shed from the front. He squeezed through the cows to the rear of the shed and fired his pistol in the air. The cows began to stampede out of the door of the shed.

One of the MacAllans was trying to get to Blair but was impeded by the herd of cows. Blair sneaked back out the door but was unlucky, tripping and falling prone. As he got to his feet, his adversary had made his way around the cows and was upon him. Desperately, Blair fumbled for his photographic flash to blind his opponent, but found the man standing next to him, pointing the shotgun at his chest. “Dinnae move!” he shouted. Blair hesitated for a second, then quick as a flash, went for his revolver. That proved to be a fatal mistake. The MacAllan pulled the shotgun trigger on Blair at point-blank range, hurling his body backwards before it fell limply to the ground.

Meanwhile, Oliver had left the farmhouse by the back door. Elaine asked, “where is Sherlock?” “Forget him, he’s finished.” grunted Oliver. “It’s time to get out of here.” Unwilling to leave her friend to his fate, Elaine rushed back into the farmhouse to try and save Sherlock. Sean MacAllan was in the kitchen. He pointed at the body on the ground and ordered the womenfolk to “Fix him up. He’s not to die now, but in the proper way.” The women started to clean and bandage the wound.

Unable to do any more, the survivors fled.

Feeling that their work was unfinished, the investigators decided to explore the ruins of nearby MacLaireag Castle, which was on MacAllan land. The castle was in ruins, but in the northeast tower—the only one still standing—they discovered an underground tunnel leading to a series of disturbing discoveries. A room filled with mummified corpses. The bodies appeared to be ancient but were wearing clothes of modern origin. Another room filled with human bones, some burned, some gnawed, some recent, some crumbling into the dust of centuries. And finally a room—apparently the ancient castle torture chamber—containing a mysterious mirror made of brass, with a gaelic inscription around its wooden frame.

Sister Cassia, a Catholic nun with occult training, working in the service of the Vatican, intoned the words on the frame in the unfamiliar language. Suddenly there was a swirling in the mirror as a terrible, unearthy form began to appear. It remained blurry and indistinct for a few moments before fading away, but not before giving the assembled investigators their first proof of a terrible and powerful supernatural entity interfering in human affairs. Mr. Dewar fainted and had to be resuscitated. Ever a man of science and reason, his nerves could not take the shock of the existence of this eldritch monstrosity.

Although the image had faded, it seemed that the investigators had attracted the attention and interest of this powerful entity. The hairs on their body stood on end, they felt a shiver like an electrical charge, and Edward’s clothes began to smoulder! Feeling that discretion was the better part of valour, the investigators beat a hasty retreat from the terrible underground dungeon.

They had learned enough. The MacAllans were deeply involved with unspeakable and hideous supernatural entities and had to be stopped. The investigators formed a plan and put it into effect.

First was the destruction of the abominable mirror. Gathering a hacksaw and other tools, the next day the investigators descended once more into the dungeon and set about cutting the mirror into pieces, removing the wooden frame with its ghastly spell.

Exploring the rest of the dungeon, they found a dank underground cell. In it was none other than their companion Sherlock. Weak from blood loss and shock, but still alive. He had been imprisoned here by the MacAllans, apparently destined for a terrible fate in one of their monstrous rites. The investigators released his bonds and half-carried him out of that dismal prison to the fresh air above.

The next part of the plan was to destroy the standing stones which clearly played some part in the summoning of the spectral horrors from beyond. The investigators spent the day on the island in the loch, attacking the monolith with a pickaxe to reduce it to rubble.

It was Tuesday 21 March—the spring solstice and date of the MacAllans’ next unholy celebration in communion with their horrible gods. Knowing that the MacAllans would be occupied under the castle, the investigators visited the farmhouse again. Searching the upper floor, Sister Cassia found a loose floorboard, underneath which was a tin box with a tight-fitting lid. Inside the box, a sheaf of papers tied with string.

Hurrying now, the investigators located the second monolith spoken of by Prof. Gibbson in his journal, and pulled it over with a rope.

Their mission complete, the investigators fled that terrible place and returned to Inverness and onward back to London.

Sister Cassia studied the sheaf of papers, discovering that they were written in several languages. The oldest documents were in Latin, with additional notes and inscriptions in Gaelic and Scots. The papers tell the story of Malcolm MacLaireag, burned in Edinburgh in 1396, who died screaming, “Lloigor! Lloigor! Lloigor!” The standing stones were raised for the worship of the Lloigor. The Lloigor are “invisible ones from the stars” and chief among them is Ghatanothoa, the dark one. The Lloigor live underground, but the text gives no details as to their physical form or nature, except to state that they are “astral.” Malcolm MacLaireag’s case was typical of the Lloigor. Those made into their servants quickly become driven to crime and utter depravity. Their very presence drives unstable types to wickedness.

The MacLaireag Papers

This is a sheaf of unbound handwritten notes tied with string and kept in a tin box. There is no title, table of contents or index and the papers are not arranged in any order. The oldest pages are written in Latin, but they are covered in crabbed annotations in Scots and Gaelic. The most recent writings are in Gaelic but even they seem to be over a hundred years old.

The Latin text tells the story of Malcolm MacLaireag, burned in Edinburgh in 1396, who died screaming, “Lloigor! Lloigor! Lloigor!” The Lloigor seem to be some kind of supernatural entity. Apparently they live underground, but the text gives no details as to their physical form or nature, except to state that they are “astral” and “invisible”. Chief among them is Ghatanothoa, the Dark One. On the story of MacLaireag’s grotesque death, a thorough reading of the text indicates that this case was typical of the Lloigor. Those made into their servants quickly become driven to crime and utter depravity, sexual and otherwise. Their very presence drives unstable types to wickedness.

The papers also mention standing stones, which are associated with numerous megalithic sites in Britain. According to the text, standing stones were raised for the worship of many ancient and evil beings, including the Lloigor.

The papers contain a magical incantation, Invoke the Invisible Ones from the Stars. Learning how to cast this spell requires a Hard INT roll.

The papers can be consulted as a Mythos reference (1D4 hours, 5%).