'Twas The Night At The Opera

Delta Green agents receive an anonymous tip about an otherworldly presence in a remote Christmas tree lot. Witnesses report strange occurrences, including disappearing trees, eerie carol melodies, and unsettling whispers.

Agents discover that the Christmas trees are conduits for a Yuletide entity, inadvertently summoned by the lot owner's esoteric rituals. The entity thrives on holiday cheer, but its manifestation warps reality and sanity. The agents must navigate the twisted landscape, confront the entity, and close the portal before it consumes the lot and its visitors.

The Lot

A quaint unnamed Christmas tree lot nestled in a dense forest, isolated from nearby towns. The air is filled with the scent of pine, and festive lights cast an otherworldly glow. As night falls, the lot transforms into an eerie scene.

The lot owner sits in a small shed, cheerfully greeting customers. At the center of the lot is a large, ancient Christmas tree covered in ornaments and strands of lights, and exhibiting an unusual glow. Surrounding it are hundreds of decorated Christmas trees. With the magical energy flowing through the lot, it is almost impossible to determine its true size.

Agents arrive on Christmas Eve to find the lot eerily empty, save for a few wandering customers and anxious staff. Lights flicker, and the air feels charged with an unnatural energy. Investigating the lot reveals bizarre distortions—a maze of shifting paths, impossible geometries, and whispers that intensify near the trees.

Handlers Note: Skill rolls, sanity tests, and other mechanics have purposely been left out to allow the Handler to place them as is appropriate to their game. This scenario is meant to be a framework that can be fleshed out by the Handler. Add, subtract, modify as you feel is necessary.

Ritual Clues

Clues to the ritual that closes the portal can be found throughout the lot.

Lot Owner: Ezekiel Evergreen sits in a small shed at the front of the lot, offering delicious hot chocolate as he welcomes all who enter. He promises this Christmas to be more joyful and prosperous than ever before. Ezekiel will not admit to the ritual, but is not malicious. He believes he is creating a better holiday, and does not understand the forces he is meddling with.

Cryptic Carols: Customers speak of unheard carol melodies and strange symbols carved into tree trunks.

Twisted Tracks: While the ground is covered in snow, no one leaves footprints. However, distorted footprints can be seen within the snow, leading a path through the lot and ending at the central tree. The path of the distorted footprints takes agents to 12 different trees throughout the lot in a specific order. Agents need to follow the twisted tracks through the maze-like paths, ensuring they understand the significance of each symbol.

Those not following the path find themselves lost and disoriented within the lot as trees disappear and reappear in different locations, and they hear cryptic carols in the distance, summoning them deep into the surrounding woods. Some find themselves back at the start of the lot; some never return.

Symbols and Incantations: Agents have to decipher 12 cryptic symbols carved into the tree trunks and combine them with specific ornaments and melodies to disrupt the ongoing ritual. These symbols are scattered throughout the lot, carved into the 12 trees they find along the path.

Baubles as Catalysts: While every tree on the lot is decorated, the 12 trees along the path hold an enchanted ornament with the same symbol as that on the tree. These ornaments act as catalysts for the ritual.

Agents must take the ornaments in a specific order, using them in the same order during the ritual as conduits to channel the disrupted energy back into the central tree. If agents do not interact with ornaments in the correct order, they may:

  • Receive psychic feedback that causes damage to hit points, sanity, or magic points.
  • See illusions that entice agents with visions of loved ones or cherished memories. Agents risk being emotionally ensnared and losing focus on the ritual if they succumb to the allure.
  • Perceive a temporarily fragmented reality where distorted versions of the environment, or false paths or symbols are seen. Discerning the truth becomes more difficult.

No Ordinary Tree: Each of the 12 trees is a different size or color. This correlates to the correct bell that must be played in the final ritual.

Cryptic Carols: As agents follow the path and approach the 12 trees, they hear a harmonic key associated with each symbol. These melodies are intricately connected to the esoteric symbols and rituals performed by the lot owner.

Yuletide Madness: Prolonged exposure to the holiday-themed madness in the lot provides agents with a unique perspective on the ritual. Agents may obtain clues to the final ritual from these hallucinations, but also see the entity's own distorted (and sanity wracking) concept of holiday cheer.

Central Tree Chamber: At the end of the path, and with all 12 ornaments, agents find themselves at the central tree. Possessing the ornaments allows agents to find a door embedded within the tree, hidden by strands of Christmas lights. Inside are steps that lead down to the hidden chamber beneath the tree where the lot owner has been conducting esoteric rituals.

In this chamber, additional clues that hint at the correct sequence of symbols and incantations can be found. The roots of the central tree jut through the ceiling and form 12 points of a Christmas tree on the floor.

A set of 12 ancient hand bells sits on a table in the corner of the chamber. They are in no particular order and have no markings on them. However, each is of a different size and faded color, corresponding to the trees in which agents found the symbols and ornaments.

On the far end of the chamber, a portal of shimmering silver light has begun to form as the entity’s time to emerge approaches.

The Ritual

To perform the ritual, agents must:

  • Place the 12 ornaments with the correct symbols in the correct order on the points of the tree, starting with the base of the tree and ending at the top.
  • As each ornament is placed, agents must ring the correct bell that plays the harmony associated with the ornament’s symbol.

Failure to place the correct symbol or ring the correct bells causes the portal to glow brighter; agents feel a Christmas warmth upon them, although it feels distorted and malign. Three failures allows the entity, a manifestation of holiday joy gone awry, to emerge.

As the agents perform the ritual, the Yuletide entity's influence begins to wane. The central tree, once surrounded by an unnatural glow, dims, and the distorted reality of the Christmas tree lot starts to stabilize. Success in the ritual ultimately closes the portal, banishing the entity and restoring the lot to its normal state. Failure results in the lot becoming a permanent conduit, trapping everyone inside a twisted, festive nightmare.

The End?

As agents leave, the lot owner's final words echo, hinting at a greater cosmic conspiracy tied to holiday celebrations. The incident leaves lingering questions about Delta Green's role in monitoring supernatural occurrences during festive seasons.


'Twas the Night at the Opera was written by The Christmas Handler for the 2023 Shotgun Scenario contest.
Source: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p2LCfqsXogogmiOfH7O_meir--pWDzQElQDZPvGfh80/edit

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