1920s waitress who turned magic against Cthulhu... and lost.
One of our friends ran a Cthluhu inspired game, to help share the weight of my own GM duties. It was nice to get to play again. Since our group already had so much knowledge of the mythos and its elder ones thanks to Fantasy Flight’s splendid board games, he opted to create his own gods and critters so we could constantly be surprised. And afraid… my character, the local fire chief, died in the very first scenario. Afterwards he asked me: “why did you make a tank for a Cthulhu game?!” It’s true, you can’t argue with that logic!
Stepping up again, Laura was made to be his daughter: a shy waitress and bookworm who quickly became the party leader. I found myself loving a character who was never intended to exist, and just as good, my fireman became the possessed face of the villain. I don’t think I’ve ever played a character so under threat or with more at stake. Eventually we had a party wipe when my father found a way to brainwash one of the party, who betrayed us all in an elemental plane of fire. Our GM says that Laura ultimately killed the party by suggesting we go there… but later told me that he was going to kill us all anyway because he was tired of running it, and worse yet, that being a “Cthulhu game” he made it impossible for us to ever win from the onset. I wasn’t thrilled hearing those things, but at least while it lasted the game and this character were treasured highlights of my gaming history.
Info gathering was half of this campaign, and Laura got her intel by “stealing” it as secretly as possible. She could eavesdrop on conversations, read lips, and could attempt to speed read books (and hopefully put them back in the right place) before their owner was the wiser. Her role in the team was to find out things they couldn’t simply research. Towards the end she left her diner job to waitress at the speakeasy, where she could eavesdrop on better targets but only sped up her decline into corrupting influences.
Memory Trick (Waitress)
Over the bustle and din of a busy cafe, waitresses had a strong talent for remembering complex orders they’ve just heard, even from multiple sources. This memory was short-term, however – usually lasting only 1 minute – so they had to write down anything they wanted to keep. After Laura was exposed to the mythos and became a caster, she used this former talent to permanently steal spells she overheared from enemies. Due to pronunciation and inflection differences, the effects she learned tended to benot quite what she saw cast; she also couldn’t use such spells to research new ones, since she was merely parroting syllables and didn’t know the arcane workings behind them.
In addition to those found in-game, Laura personally owned two spellbooks: a traditional tome as well as a non-descript waitress pad. Once the party started getting spied on themselves, she began writing both notes and some spells on it in her “waitress shorthand,” effectively making a language or cypher that only she could easily understand. Any who would steal her waitress pad had a tough time ahead of them.
In this campaign magic spells tended to be tailored to the caster: the same spell might be wildly different, depending on a secret lens through which the GM modified them. Much of the game was spent investigating this lens to see if we could determine its workings and more accurately design our own spells, but the truth is we were never very good at it. Most of what we learned was only partially influenced by our choices, and mostly random to us.
|Summoning Circle: Anemos’irocco||Written||Calls forth “the oppressive fear of winds” to do the caster’s bidding. (A knowledgeable air mephit.)|
|Summoning Circle: Peruro Perustum||Written||Calls forth “the burning away of flesh and impudence” to do the caster’s bidding. (A raging hellhound.)|
|Summoning Circle: Tabernus Tabescet||Written||Calls forth “the melting of home with kin within” to do the caster’s bidding. (A berserking wolf of fire.)|
|Summoning Circle: Merithlrii||Written||Calls forth “the orchestra of strangled shores” to do the caster’s bidding. (A grappler with a hard seashell and many tentacles.)|
|Summoning Circle: Cantera||Written||Calls forth "the quarry of the querulous quarries " to do the caster’s bidding. (An earth elemental.)|
|Allocation of Alleviation||Written||Write a healing rune, which later triggers to all friends in its area.|
|Application of Alleviation||Written||Write a healing rune directly on the target.|
|Appellation of Alleviation||Written||Simply write the target’s name to heal, regardless of distance.|
|Rune of Running||Written||In trying to emulate the Talisman of Sesen’s darkvision, Laura accidentally created a spell to greatly increase the recipient’s movement rate.|
|Glyph of Geyser||Written||Creates a glyph on a surface that, when touched, shoots a powerful stream of water. Spell activates whenever pressure is applied to the rune, and the water is strong enough to eventually cut through stone.|
|Sigil of Sickness||Written||Any who look upon this writing gains a random illness that onsets quickly. A stealthy spell with the victim usually unaware it was cast.|
|Inscription of Insanity||Written||Laura has learned the true name of the elder god; whenever she writes it down, she and anyone else that sees it instantly rolls on the insanity chart. A stealthy spell with the victim usually unaware it was cast. The name itself is rarely remembered.|
|Boundary of Bonfires||Written||All within circle take fire damage when triggered. Takes as long to cast as it does to draw; effective area can eventually be of any size.|
|To Groan the Plight of the 72 Sealed||Spoken||Stolen spell. Blasts a cone of flame before you. Laura originally saw this cast as a fireball, but her Scottish accent was enough to alter the incantation.|
|Disdainful Fist of Sabotendā||Spoken||Stolen spell. Launches metal spikes summoned from the 49th circle of the infamous cactus pretender.|
|“Marley’s Lament”||Spoken||Stolen spell. Enchants physical chains to bind ethereal creatures. Requires knoweldge of the ghost’s true name.|
|The Gleaned Thrall Bleeds Jagged Courtesy||Spoken||Laura charms a target for 1d4 rounds.|
|“Dalloway’s Dervish”||Artifact||A wind attack that can also boost Anemos’irocco’s damage or movement. Unlike normal spells, this is more like a wand: to cast it Laura must rip one of the pages out of her subverted copy of Mrs. Dalloway, which disintegrates like flash paper.|
|Ritual of the Sacrificing Seal||Special||If the caster completes this ritual at one of the four seals around Quiet Brook, that elemental demi-god is banished once more. This spell requires the suicide of the caster as the somatic and material components. Laura can currently set this spell up without necessarily being the one to cast it.|
What would a mythos game be without going bonkers? Thankfully Laura’s high mental stats mostly serverd her well, though seeing the true name of the final boss did create one schism in her sanity.
Whenever Laura’s sanity was below 20, she started grabbing anything smallish she was able to. Further, whenever she could easily steal something without attracting notice, she had to pass a sanity test to not permanently keep the item, regardless of her current sanity level (essentially making it so she refused to give certain items back or let them go.) She developed this right about the time she started working at that speakeasy, which made an already dangerous job even more so.