By Ross Payton
The PC's cell (from here on, called R Cell) is called out to investigate the suspicious death of a coma patient in a nearby city. The cell discovers a psychic killer, Michael Workman who can enter the body of a person without an active mind, such as a coma patient. He then uses his 'shell' to commit other crimes, mostly burglary and the occasional rape. In his last venture,
he shot and wounded a cop before being gunned down. R Cell easily tracks down Workman and receives orders from A Cell to take him to a safe house and kill him. They either kill him or leave him in a safe-house where another DG cell kills him. R cell returns to normal life.
Three days later, every member of R Cell and any friendly that helped to take Workman to the safe house encounters something in their life that contradicts their memory. A childhood friend died years ago when the PC remembers him alive last week. The party back in college leads to near fatal drug overdose instead of the best time of their life. Being married to a different person and the one sleeping to the PC is a stranger.
Sooner or later, each PC contacts the other members of R Cell and pale at the disturbing nature of their memories. They meet at the safe-house to discuss their next move. As they trace their steps to find a cause for this, each of them recalls a different version of what happened in the safe-house the night Michael died. Michael reappears for an instant, then the house is cut off from the rest of reality.
In a city near R Cell, Caleb Bain was shot down by police after a brief gun battle last night. Oddly, Caleb Bain is supposed to be brain dead from a car accident ten years ago. Detectives have written it off as a freak occurrence, thinking Caleb woke up from the coma in a psychotic state.
Edna Fernandez, a DG friendly, relays the information to A Cell which assigns R Cell to investigate the incident. It is not a high priority mission, but it is strange enough to merit Delta Green's attention.
An autopsy of Caleb Bain reveals anomalous lesions in the brain, which are unexplainable by modern science. He also had alcohol in his system. Investigators who dig into Bain's background reveals that he has been cared for at Serenity Hospice, owned by Michael Workman.
A rundown building at the edge of the city, Michael Workman pretends to be baffled at Bain's actions but a psychology check shows him to be lying. In truth, Workman is arrogant and doesn't fear law enforcement agents. He thinks that he can't be touched for the crimes he commits while possessing a coma patient.
Michael has no knowledge of the Mythos or secret government agencies. His power came to him during puberty but he has no connection to any Mythos entity or group, but at the Keeper's
discretion he might have a secret connection to one. Workman could easily be a failed MJ-12 Cookbook experiment, a psychic awakened by the dreams of Cthulhu or something else entirely.
He has another coma patient in his care, George Riley. Workman resumes his normal pattern quickly, stepping out in Riley's body that night. Investigators who put him under surveillance watch as Riley spends the night partying. Workman is in Serenity Hospice in a trance-state.
If the PCs disturb Michael's body, he is immediately aware of it and re-enters his body, abandoning Bain where he is. Workman collapses under the threat of violence, a coward at heart. At this point, Workman explains his power
Workman's psychic ability can be researched by making three difficult (-10%) library use skill checks. While the ability has no common name, several psychic researchers have theorized of a variant form of astral projection that allows the mind of a psychic to enter a vacant host, namely a living but mindless human. Learning the nature of Workman's power and realizing how
Michael has been using it costs 1/1d4 sanity
The Keeper may extend the investigation if desired. If so, simply make Workman more paranoid and cagey. His movements become much harder to track and he hides other coma patient bodies in other locations around the city. If he becomes aware of the investigators, Workman attacks them in a patient's body, utterly fearless when possesses someone else. The PCs can track him by searching through records of comatose people in the city and digging through assorted piles of medical records.
In any case, once R Cell contacts A Cell about Workman and his power, A Cell gives very specific instructions. There is a safe house located in a forest near the city. Take Workman there and kill him, then leave the house. If R Cell refuses to kill him, then A Cell tells them to leave Workman tied up in the house. If Workman is already dead, then A Cell orders the PCs to dump Workman's body at the safe house.
The Keeper needs to write down three facts when R Cell takes Michael to the safe house.
- The Killer: the PC who kills Michael or is most aggressive during the mission
- The Guardian: The least aggressive PC. One who uses their weapon the least or argues against killing Workman.
- The Lurker: The PC who is closest to Michael when he dies or the last PC to leave the safe house but does not kill him.
Three days after Michael's death, each of the PCs has a disturbing experience. A key fact in each of their life is suddenly twisted around. The PC wakes up to a woman he never married. A dead childhood friend is alive or vice versa. The PC has a new scar from a gunshot he can't remember. Craft each of the experiences to the individual PC. The sanity cost is 1/1d8.
Temporary insanity leads to an intense feeling of disassociation, that the PC feels he is someone else.
Let the PCs determine their course of action, but try to have them meet up at the safe house. If they do not all return to the safe house at the same time, these revisions of their lives continue to happen until they go permanently insane.
The safe house is a dilapidated two story house, surrounded by a forest on all sides. Only a gravel road leads to it. Civilization is far away.
Once all the PCs meet up at the house, each of them feels an intense stabbing pain in their head, like a knife trying to burrow out of their skull. Everyone blacks out for a second. Sanity loss is 0/1d2.
When they recover, they find that Michael stands in between all of them, staring vacantly into the distance. He seems to be brain dead. The first PC to act triggers Michael. He disintegrates into a thick cloying grey mist that surrounds the PCs. The mist also seeks out each window and door in the house, and transform into a web of silver thread that blocks every possible exit from the house. Sanity loss for this event is 1/1d6. The silver thread is indestructible.
What's Going On
Michael's death throes imprinted a fragment of his mind in each of the PCs psyches. The fragments were dormant for three days but have begun asserting themselves in the PCs minds. Their memories are being edited or damaged by the fragments. However, while they are too weak to take over the PCs, they will slowly destroy their minds.
The largest fragment remained with Workman's decomposing body at the safe house. Once the PCs reunited all the fragments, it triggered a gestalt psychic experience. The PCs are now trapped in a hallucinatory mindscape generated by the remnants of Michael's mind. The fragments want to unite and take over one of the PCs, but they are barely intelligent, acting on
instinct rather than intellect.
Everything appears to real and normal in the house. Every PC retains any weapons and equipment they carried into the safe house. Everything works, but anything that requires an outside connection to the world does not.
Mythos magic does not work in the mindscape. If a PC dies in the mindscape, he loses 1d4 points of INT and reappears in the death room. Sanity loss for this is 1/1d8 for the resurrected PC and 1/1d6 for other agents.
Shortly after the PCs enter the mindscape, a lurching, half crawling figure drags Michael into the room. PCs who interact with the figure or Michael find them to be translucent, similar to a ghost. Michael is tied to a chair by the figure who then moves to a corner of the room.
Another figure stomps in the room, tall and foreboding. It seems to be watching and waiting. A moment later, a predatory figure charges in. The tall figure and predatory figure fight briefly. The predatory figure knocks the tall figure down and then kills Michael in the same manner as he died in real life. All of the figures fade away. Sanity loss is 1/1d3
This is the template of the psychodrama. The crawling figure is the lurker. The tall figure is the guardian and the predatory figure is the killer. The psychodrama represents Michael's fear and pain as he died. It is the driving force behind the mindscape and until it is laid to rest, it will continue to torment the PCs. As the PCs investigate the house, each will have a vision of the same drama, but with the PCs filling in for the lurker, guardian, and killer.
The key is that each of the PCs views a different version of the psychodrama. The other PCs act out the psychodrama, one acting as lurker, one as the guardian, and one as the killer. These will be called a mask, such as a mask lurker, mask guardian and mask killer. A PC acting out one of the roles follows it exactly. Rotate each PC in the psychodramas, so that each PC assumes a different role in the drama. Furthermore, never put the real killer, guardian or lurker in their real role.
However, a clue is hidden in each version of the psychodrama. One of the PCs following one of the roles will mirror some trait of the real PC. During each of the visions, randomly determine which of the roles will be revealed. Then, give the mask a trait from the real PC.
For example, if the real guardian is a Hispanic ex-special forces soldier then a mask guardian might have a Hispanic accent or a Special Forces patch on his shoulder. Only give one clue per vision, but allow an idea check to realize its importance and a knowledge check to realize it might signify the real PC.
In order to escape the mindscape, the PCs must re-enact the psychodrama, with the real lurker, guardian, and killer acting out their roles. However, Michael must live. If the real killer spares Michael after beating the real guardian, then the mindscape collapses and the PCs are thrust back into their own minds. Michael Workman's mind finally dissipates, dead forever.
In order to re-enact the psychodrama, the PCs must summon Michael. Specifically, the real lurker must drag Michael into the room where he died. In order to summon Michael, the PCs must gain Michael's trust by saving his grandfather in a past memory and find the murder weapon. Once they have both of these things, the real lurker must go into the memory room and drag
Michael into the death room.
If one of the PCs loses all of their sanity in the mindscape, then the remnants of Michael's mind possesses him. Role an opposed POW check against Michael's (15). If Michael wins, then the PC's mind is destroyed and Michael takes over. If the PC wins, then both minds are destroyed and creates a new gestalt personality with memories from both characters. How this new being
reacts is entirely up to the Keeper. It might manifest stronger psychic powers or it might commit suicide.
Exploring the House
There are several key rooms in the house. Pick them as appropriate. The rest are filled with garbage and assorted detritus.
- The Death Room: The room where Michael died or where his body was hidden. The first version of the psychodrama is enacted in this room. It is cold and uncomfortable, but otherwise normal. The PCs must re-enact the psychodrama in this room in order to free themselves of the mindscape.
- Memory Room: The moment a PC enters the memory room, he relives a key incident in Michael's life, when Michael discovered his psychic ability.
The PC is a hospital room, sitting near a sleeping man in his sixties or seventies. Michael, a teenager now, sits next to the PC. The man is Sam Workman, Michael's grandfather. The PC is unable to interact with anything so far, basically a ghost. Michael falls asleep. A moment later, Sam jerks out of bed and leaves the room. If the PC cares to follow Sam, he watches as Sam stumbles around, dazed. Michael is in now Sam's body, but confused and scared.
Michael tries to find his family in the hospital but gets lost in a supply room and passes out. Michael reawakes in his body and sees that Sam is gone. However, as Michael's powers are now awakened, he can see and speak to the PC. However, as the PC is intangible, Michael assumes the PC is a hallucination. Michael panics and tries to flee the hospital. In order to break the cycle, the PC must convince Michael to save his grandfather. This should be roleplayed instead of simply making a persuade of fast talk skill check.
- The Weapon Room: The murder weapon is stored here. A creature, one based on the fears of the PCs guards it. Describe it as a past mythos creature the PCs encountered or something based on a PC's phobia. Use the stats of a dimensional shambler. It will attempt to kill the PCs. Destroying the creature causes it to dissolve, revealing the murder weapon.
Encounters in the Mindscape
Michael wants to drive the PCs mad so he can take one of their minds over. In order to do this, he will continually assault them with psychic manifestations of his deepest fears and inner demons. However, these manifestations also reveal the secret to escaping the mindscape. The first time a PC is touched or attacked by a manifestation, triggers a vision of their version of the psychodrama.
- The Faceless:* A man in a black suit with no facial features appears near a PC and begins marching toward him. Bullets have no effect on the Faceless. He attempts to grab the face of a nearby PC. If he makes a successful opposed grapple check (Skill 45%) he lifts a random facial feature off a PC and places it on his face. He then disappears. Sanity loss for seeing this is 1/1d6 and experiencing it is 1d3/1d10. A character who loses a facial feature will black out for a second and find the feature is back on their face moments later.
- Out of body sensation: A character's vision drifts away from their body. The character then watches helplessly as the character's body moves on its accord and attacks the other PCs. If the out of body PC dies, he receives a vision of the psychodrama. Sanity loss is 1d4/1d8
- Mindquake: A massive rumbling, like a powerful earthquake, throws everyone in the house around like ragdolls. It requires a DEX x 4 check to avoid taking 1d6 damage. Each must make a Luck check as well. Failure indicates they see a crack in the house, revealing an infinite outside. Sanity loss is 1d3/1d6. Looking into the void triggers the vision.
- Second Mindquake: As the first mindquake, but each PC can tell something has wrapped itself around the house and is causing the quake. Each PC loses 1/1d3 and any PC who gazes into the void sees a glimpse of a behemoth tentacled creature. Sanity loss is 1d4/1d6+2 for seeing the creature.
Use an encounter whenever the PCs try something that won't advance the psychodrama or gain Michael's trust. Don't throw too many of them at the PCs, just a steady stream of psychic horrors manifesting in the mindscape.
Keepers running this scenario should also base manifestations on the personal history of the PCs. The image of a Mythos entity previously thought dead advancing on the character can be a terrifying situation for the player. Screw with their heads.
Keepers should write down who the real killer, guardian and lurker are and 'cast' each of the psychodramas for the PCs in advance, determining who the masks are and what clues will be revealed in each version of the psychodrama. Finding and killing Michael should take a session of play, so the Keeper can easily write out a script for each psychodrama in between sessions.
Keep the psychodramas short, so as not to bore the other players. Once the template is shown to all the players, it should be easy to explain each version of the psychodrama as being similar to the template but with a few differences.
Don't break PCs down with a few massive Sanity losses. Keep up the pressure with a steady trickle of small Sanity losses that add up. Build suspense by making each manifestation more intense and disturbing than the last.
If the players are lost on what to do, give them Idea and Psychology, or Psychiatry checks and give them clues to keep them going or getting stuck.
- Escaping from the mindscape and putting Michael to rest grants +2d6 Sanity.
- Characters who suffer a permanent insanity during the scenario probably develop delusions based on Michael Workman's memories.
One possible option is that the experience might grant psychic ability or potential to any who survives relatively sane. Perhaps Michael's memory leads to a psychic guru or book that taught him how to control his ability. Or a character might remember Michael being experimented on by MJ-12.