Orono Man The Scientific Investigation Of An Atypical Inhuma


North America, somewhere around the Great Lakes, between 1990 and 2019.


An archaeological team is excavating a site before a natural gas pipeline is run through the area. Last week, they uncovered a human skeleton. The skeleton (nicknamed ‘Orono Man’, after a nearby municipality) is an adult male, buried face down with many glass beads and a pair of copper bangles. Injuries to the parietal bone indicate a violent death at the hands of a club, and slivers of obsidian were driven into the eye orbits. His front teeth are scored with horizontal grooves, but his skeleton shows no other signs of stress. Below him are the remains of three other individuals, apparently bound and thrown unceremoniously into a pit. Their skulls have not been recovered. The artifacts in this burial are unusual; The glass beads seem to be associated with the post-contact period, but these remains were found in deeper soil horizons than the other historical remains. Further excavation and analysis of soil and bone samples are needed to confirm stratigraphy and dates.

As is protocol, police were notified and a forensic anthropologist was called to confirm that the remains are in fact ancient. An information leak somewhere along the way kicked off a repatriation dispute and First Nations/ Native American activists want the dig and the development to be halted outright. The dig director is interviewed on the nightly news, and intimates that Orono Man may not even be related to any modern Native Americans. He states that such a unique specimen must be studied further before his descendants can be identified. The dig continues despite protests by Anishnaabe land activists.

Play begins as the state or provincial police arrive and protests continue. At least one PC should be with the law enforcement contingent. The PCs are then left to continue their work and may decide how they want to excavate, or what analyses they might want to do. Tension is high and many excavators are conflicted between making the most of an indispensable research and employment opportunity and the ethics of continuing the excavate.

The Following Days:

The director’s interview with the media plays that night and the investigators wake the next morning to find that new discoveries have been made. The PCs, for reasons unknown, remember that those discoveries weren’t there before [1/1d3 SAN loss, unnatural]. A previously empty unit now contains another skeleton at the same depth as Orono Man, riddled with premortem injuries, including an flint arrowhead embedded in the spine. This man appeared to be suffering from a treponemal disease (i.e. syphilis) and the early stages of gout. He also has grooved teeth. Orono Man now has a copper plate headdress and injuries to the neck instead of his head. The mound of slaves now contains nine individuals instead of three, including one infant.

The protests have also changed. Counter protestors have arrived, consisting of oil and gas employees and alt-right groups. A tense standoff devolves into a brief spat of violence in the late afternoon [possible SAN loss for Helplessness].

The next day, a different skeleton replaces the one in the empty unit. This new skeleton has a gold tooth and a long-healed broken nose, as well as other jewelry. The gouty second skeleton is now in the slave pile, jaw severed at the ramus. Healing shows that he lived for some months after the fact [0/1 SAN loss, violence]. Orono Man now has the remains of gold jewelry. Caches of shattered pottery lay among the slaves, painted with sallow faces rendered in white and geometric designs un-characteristic of the period and area. A history roll notes that these bear considerable similarities to Scandinavian Runes. Players consulting maps or leaving town, notice that nearby landmarks with Indigenous names have been changed, designating the area around the dig site as a place of negative spirits.

If the players do not act quickly to understand what is going on, the changes continue to accelerate. The players have four days from the start of the scenario until the world is altered irrevocably.

What happened:

The Brotherhood of Vinland are a tiny quasi-cult of Neo-Nazi kooks and fent dealers who are particularly fixated on finding evidence of the Viking colonization of North America. Initiation in the Brotherhood involves scoring the front teeth to imitate tooth modifications of Viking warriors.

Four years ago, one of their members ran a sketchy self-storage location, and while attempting to steal from one of the units, came across an odd mechanical contraption built around three short standing stones carved with sinuous patterns. No sooner did they find it than an old prison buddy of a senior member showed up out of the blue, claiming he had the metaphysical knowledge to use ‘The Projector’. He promised to repair it for Brotherhood, provided he could be the first to use it.

The stranger’s influence drove the Brotherhood from merely unhinged, to reclusive and barely sane. Once the old friend stepped through and disappeared in a waving crackle of static, the leader of the group, Marius Zundel, devised a plan to use the machine to bring about the pre-Columbian Nordic domination of Vinland.

Too aged (and frightened) to go himself, Zundel sent his second-in-command into the projector to bring about their ideal future. After being thrown back into the Middle Mississippian Period, the plan went awry and he entered the archaeological record as Orono Man. When the Brotherhood were not immediately transported to an Aryan paradise, they began searching for evidence of their compatriot’s final resting place.

The Brotherhood makes their Move

Fortunately for the Brotherhood, they found their evidence when the dig director’s recent interview mentioned the tooth modifications found on Orono Man. Immediately they sent another willing member to operate The Projector and aid their compatriot. When that did not appear to work, They elected to gather intelligence before sending more.

They attend the counter protests and use some police contacts to get close and attempt to snoop around the site. They do not stick out too much and they take care to cover their white supremacist tattoos. If they are caught by a lone PC, the Brotherhood will attempt to intimidate them into allowing them access to artifacts. If caught by a group they will claim they are providing security. If law enforcement apprehends them, a background check will easily tie them to the Brotherhood and a rap sheet.

Some will stay by the site fence, providing a distraction and gathering intelligence by asking questions about what has been found. The questions become probing quickly. If the PCs seem receptive, a member will excitedly tell them a story of how Icelanders first settled this area, but were destroyed by the Natives. Their story is mostly based on the Kensington Runestone, an 19th century hoax.


PCs should be immediately aware that something is wrong with Orono Man its other associated finds. PCs can make skill rolls to complete further analyses on the site to answer questions about Orono Man’s origins. Some examples are listed here:

  • Science (Geology): The soil horizon containing Orono Man is definitely precontact. There’s no evidence of intrusion from earlier layers.
  • Art History: The glass beads are Venetian and must have been produced in the Old World. Glass is a conservative industry, so it is difficult to tie to a specific date. This pattern has been produced for almost 700 years.
  • Forensics: Further analyses of the other skeletons in the main pit reveal fatal puncture wounds, suspiciously similar to bullet wounds.
  • Medicine: The gold tooth is made from modern dental alloys. PCs can match the teeth to the dental records of an adult man living in a nearby metropolitan area. [1d3/1d6 SAN Unnatural] From there he can easily be connected to the Brotherhood.
  • Anthropology: There are no published oral histories about this site, but some stories are maintained by local Elders. Gaining trust will be difficult, but PCs may learn the story of a Majii Manitou carving a human form out of clouds and wearing it to trick and enslave the Anishnaabe with his magic, but was thrown down when the people worked together. The story will change depending on how many cultists have gone through the projector.

The scenario should be considered successfully completed if and when the PCs prevent the Brotherhood from continuing to use The Projector


The Projector:
The origin of the projector is up to the keeper. Perhaps it is misplaced MAJ-12 tech, or maybe the work of a lone madman who left to explore time.

The Old Friend:
The identity of the Old Friend is up to the keeper. A Serpent man? Old Karotechia agent? Whoever he was, he appeared in the guise of Ken Muller, who went missing in ‘93 at the age of 34, and his most recent photo with the brotherhood shows him looking not a day older. Discovering this fact is [1/1d3 SAN for Unnatural.] Finding out he has escaped through the Projector to an unknown time costs [1d3/1d6].


This was an entry to the 2020 shotgun scenario contest. Written by James Harrison.

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