Dark Alchemies

Dark Alchemies

The Stranger came like a shadow out of time. It has already “collected” three victims, scientists and scholars with specialized skills. It intricately prepared each ritual, inscribing the Pnakotic prayers of transformation and rebirth with care and love. The “victims” felt nothing, lulled into sleeping death by a syringe, then butchered, dissolved and stored in ceram-steel jars, their fates, a great honor, to be revealed in some distant era when the Stars Are Right again.

Soon the Green Delta will be coming for it. They will not understand its mission. It will not fail again. It has only one more victim to collect.


In 1987, Edmund Kirby woke up hand-cuffed to a hospital bed, charged with multiple murders. He was found at the crime scene slumped on the floor, covered in blood in front of a strange grandfather clock. Police recovered a ceramic urn full of salts and the severed hand of one of his victims. The remains of his last victim. They kept asking him where the others were. He didn't know. The last thing he remembered was leaving a conference 18 months before. He pleaded an amnesia defense. Jury didn’t buy it. They sentenced the “Alchemist Killer” to life.

Years in a prison cell drew his memory out of blackness. At night he dreams of the vast hollow network of the Archives and large conic beings. They kept him comfortable while the Yith used his body for a great mission. Was prison part of their plan.


Photos of “Satanic graffiti” from occult rituals in chalk and blood landed on PX Penumbra, posted by creator Joni Daemonic. Wild speculations about this “Dark Alchemy” has the admins busy. But tucked away in the corner are a set of clothes and personal effects belonging to Dylan Pickman, an MIT grad student missing for weeks now.

Middlesex County Sheriff’s office was alerted and the scene was processed. The case crawled up the chain through the FBI, to the Special Access Program, landing on the desk of Frank from Accounting. Frank and his small army of clerks got to work, discovered a connection with the Edmund Kirby Case. He sends His Man Jack to brief the team.

Interview Kirby. Learn what you can about this copycat. Track down this Joni Daemonic while you’re at it. Frank will call if he finds something on the grandfather clock and the jar. It’ll take time. They weren’t as thorough in the cowboy years.

Agents can dash between the Interview and Fieldwork, or split up and coordinate.


Dylan’s personal belongings remain safe in evidence. The cell phone wiped. The blood belonged to a pig. The bones from a chicken. The Sheriff's office doesn’t want to waste their deputies time on this “Mazes and Monsters shit.” The company line is Pickman got lost in a opiate fueld bender or commited suicide. Still, they’ll lend a rookie deputy to act as a liaison. Another complication.

Agents are given a tour of the ‘crime scene.’ It matches the photos. In person, they notice a cloudy green splotch on the ceiling, like a smokestain. The air smells of ozone and tastes metallic. Wifi drops out and their watches stop. Chemical analysis from the green residue finds strong dissolving acids. Keen observers find drag marks of some large object, possibly a trunk. Good luck finding a print.


Edmund Kirby (call me “Eddie”), late 60s, enters the prison visitation room. He is tall, leaning like a gnarled, greenless tree, refusing to topple. The warden describes the old gaffer as a model prisoner, though a bit odd. He has a way with fellow inmates. Guards respect him. He bows his head in prayer, whispering. Alert agents catch words of thanks to “Yog Sothoth, Creator and Remover of Obstacles.”

Eddie is ready to talk, though he doesn’t remember the crime. “They saw my face, but I wasn’t there. I was somewhere else.” He is guarded about the truth, and if he shares it, he wants them to believe him. He has other information that could prove valuable to them, if they believe him.. Every time he feeds them a new lead he ends the interview. This time he recognizes the symbols from Pnakotis. Then he ends the interview.

Researching the word “Pnakotis” brings up the Pnakotic Fragments, an esoteric codex from the 15th century. One of the fragments is housed in the Orne Library at Miskatonic.The school is rightly protective of their esoterica, but they do love to talk.

Experts will recognize the Enochian sigil of “death” found in familiar stanzas from a prayer to “The Watcher,” Chaugnar Faugn. Eddie would scoff at their error. The Great Race of Yith has no words for death.

Fieldwork: Digital Ghost

Scouring surveillance, closed-circuit tv where Dylan frequented yields nothing. They do find an odd coincidence. In multiple feeds static and data glitches break visual for periods of time. If corresponded with local cell service, they find localized disruptions matching the same time frames. A digital ghost was stalking him.

Conceivably, this can become a way to detect and track it. However, the Yith are nearly infallible. Agents will have to be a better hacker than the Yith is a student of time. Otherwise they get a nasty hypergeometric message beamed straight into their viewscreen.

Interview: The Stranger

"This is no copycat, but the very same killer."

Eddie waxes nostalgic about his lost time, and reveals that the Yith possessed his body to accomplish its macabre work. It must fulfill its mission, the future depends on it. They possess technological knowhow far beyond human beings: able to hide from your surveillance or erase data it has no access to. The Stranger prefers to work in the shadows, unseen. Dylan is likely only one of several victims. You should look for more ritual sites. Perhaps nearby places of power, along ley lines.

Eddie will warn them. If it senses trouble, it will depart its vessel leaving only death and questions. Let it be about it's business.

But if they insist, Eddie offers a way to fight it…for a price.

Fieldwork: Daemonic Geometries

Agents might draw attention sifting through PX Penumbra. Admins are actively watching, warning Joni to skip town. But then an anonymous user, the same one that tipped Joni off about the first scene, posts about another potential site.

Agents race through the streets to beat Joni to a mouldering tenement building. Navigating the unlit and crumbling halls will lead them right into mind rending geometries and deadly alchemical traps. Temporal mines (HB pg. 202), doorways that loop or open down an open stairwell, trapped mason jars pouring petrifying gas when smashed, and other smoke and mirrors confound them at every turn. Frank calls with a location on the clock and urn right as things go FUBAR.

Interview: The Price

"Comparing the Yith to us is like comparing you to a housecat or housefly.”

The Stranger can be drawn out with invaluable knowledge, or with the Urn. Doing so is dangerous. It will bear down on them with every tool in its arsenal. Gates, electric guns, temporal mines, and higher geometries.

He needs them to deliver a message to another prisoner. One far across the country, entombed in a concrete reliquary beneath a hot, dry desert. Felix Gilman. He can teach them the Call of Dagon and give them an envelope hiding a beautifully handwritten letter.

The letter is written in a strange cypher, similar to the pnakotic. Of course, they’d need to clear this with their superiors.


Broadcasting the urn’s location will draw it out. PX Penumbra or Miskatonic could prove perfect bait. It’s not invincible. At least its “innocent” vessel bleeds. No matter what, it will use it’s total knowledge and technological superiority to infiltrate and extract what it wants, while Agents keep telling themselves they have the advantage.

The program doesn’t approve of Eddie’s offer. Miskatonic has resources, but their knowledge of hypergeometry and the Yith are limited and can only slow it down. But if agents take Eddi’s offer, he teaches a ritual to activate the clock. This disrupts the Stranger’s current Transfer Device, effectively chaining the Yith to this space-and time. The Yith must be close for it to work. Cornering it like this could force it to negotiate, but is even more dangerous.

If apprehended, it will demand to speak to their representatives of the Special Access Program. Agents will be ready to interrogate, but His Man Jack cuts agents off, a small army of suits in tow.

“Thank you for your service agents. We’re dealing with a ‘hostile state actor.’ We’ll take it from here. You are dismissed.”

It all fades from the headlines. Agents move on. Then one night the phone rings, “This is a collect call from Edmund Kirby…”


Joni Daemonic

Deadname: Hellen Schuster. PX Penumbra urban explorer (pronouns: they/them)
STR 10 CON 11 DEX 14
INT 13 POW 12 CHA 10
HP 10 WP 12
SAN 55, BP 48
Skills: Art: Photography 60, Athletics 60, Alertness 40, Dodge 50, Occult 50, Stealth 45, Unarmed 50

The Stranger

A Hyper-Dimensional Intelligence, essential saltes collector
STR 15 CON 13 DEX 14
INT 20 POW 20 CHA 8
HP 14 WP 20
(For the rest see The Great Race (Human Vessel) page 202, HG)

New Hyper Geometry: Quartz Fire

Activation: 3 hours to create; one turn to use
Cost: 12 WP, 3 HP,
SAN loss: 1D8 SAN
A fast and shoddy version of Raise From Essential Saltes (HG 184). The user captures a whiff of the alchemical properties and seals them inside a clay or glass jar. Smashing them releases a cloud of smoke that calcifies bone and sinew instantly, snapping and cracking with the slightest strain. Body parts crack off like shards of quartz, shattering on the floor. It is almost always fatal. Creating the vial Inflicts 1d4 damage to the user. They must be careful to stay out of the blast radius. Anything inside the area takes 2d10 damage. Those few who survive suffer SAN v Unnatural, 1d4+2/1d10+2 and are permanently maimed.


This was an entry to the 2020 shotgun scenario contest. Written by Will Schar

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