The Alexandrian

Go to Eternal Lies: The Alexandrian Remix

Eternal Lies - Cavern of Black SpectersIn my remix of Eternal Lies, there are two major document dumps: The first are the individual volumes of Echavarria’s cult library. The second is Savitree’s research into the true identity of the Thing With a Thousand Mouths.

My first goal with these document dumps was to create a trove of immersive Mythos lore. Not all of my players are steeped in Lovecraftian lore, and these documents created a way for them to become familiar with the material through play. And for the experienced Lovecraft scholars in my group, these documents simultaneously created a flak cloud: There’s enough material here drawn from a large enough body of sources that, hopefully, they won’t be able to immediately zero in on the pertinent clues to what’s really happening. (So often you end up with Mythos adventures where you say “artist with weird dreams” and the experts immediately know it’s a Cthulhu scenario. That’s generally non-optimal for creating a sense of mystery and horror; and it’s really important that it doesn’t happen with Eternal Lies.)

My second goal was to enrich the final revelations of the campaign (as I explained here). Echavarria’s library exists to (a) create a “suspect pool” for the true identity of the Thing With a Thousand Mouth and (b) hide the Gaze of Azathoth (which provides an explicit solution to the campaign) in plain sight. Savitree’s expedition reports similarly create a “suspect pool” for the location of the Maw of the Mouth to which the clue “it’s a mountain” can be applied.

My third goal was to give the players the experience of actually performing Mythos research. I wanted them to feel like they were pawing their way through dusty tomes, tracking down particular leads, and drawing their own conclusions. (Instead of just saying, “You spend a couple of days looking through Savitree’s notes and now you know X, Y, and Z.”) This can be a little risky because, of course, that carries with it the risk they won’t be able to figure it out. But fortunately (a) I’ve built redundancies into the campaign and (b) if all else fails, they can always use Cthulhu Mythos to rend their sanity and figure it out.

USING THE CULT LIBRARY BOOKS: When the PCs gain access to a particular lot of books from the cult’s library (either the UCLA lot or the books in Trammel’s mansion), give them the list of volumes they’ve obtained. They can now choose which volumes they want to skim. (I used a guideline of 1d3+1 days per volume, modifiable by the Library Use spends listed in the core rulebook. You could also assign a specific number of pages to each book and use the official guideline of 1 hour per 100 printed pages or 10 handwritten pages.) Skimming a volume gives them access to the one page handout describing the contents of the book. The skimming might also trigger Mythos stability checks or give them access to dedicated pool points, as described.

Most books, you’ll note, also has a section describing the benefits of Poring Over. The standard rules for poring over apply (it happens between sessions): They could generally pore over 1 book per week between locales. (Or during significant down time during a locale, although that never came up.) Echavarria’s library was incredibly well-stocked and patient players can actually rack up a pretty impressive Cthulhu Mythos score by taking the time to study it in full. (I believe the maximum possible gain is +15 Cthulhu Mythos.) Of course, they’ll pretty much drive themselves insane in the process.

USING SAVITREE’S RESEARCH: Savitree’s Research is broken up into 16 briefing documents. These mostly consist of summaries of the various expeditions of the Emporium of Bangkok Antiquities, but also include letters from other cult leaders, and also a summary of her attempts to reconstruct Echavarria’s 1924 ritual.

For each day that the PCs spend studying this notes, give them ONE of the briefing documents. The first briefing document they receive will be random unless they proactively go looking for some specific topic right off the bat, and I strongly encourage you to actually randomize it. (Shuffle the papers up; pick one randomly.) Now that they’ve stuck their toe in the water, however, you should prompt them as they continue their work, “Is there any particular direction you want to follow in your research?” Or pay attention to their discussion and see if there’s a particular topic mentioned in the first briefing document that they sound particularly interested in and ask if they want to pursue it.

If they don’t have any particular topic in mind, then go ahead and give them another random document. But if the do, then give them an appropriate briefing document and continue from there.

For example, let’s say that you start by randomly giving them the briefing document for Hang Maden. In that document, it’s mentioned that Carsten Braunlich died in 1927. They want to know how he died, so the next briefing document they get is for the 1927 expedition to Tunguska. The reference to “Echavarria’s Gol-Goroth” reminds them of something they saw in the first document, and they notice that Savitree mentions her “studies of the Black Stone”. They follow that and you randomly select between several briefing documents discussing it and they get the 1934 report on the Obelisk of Axum. (Only later do they eventually track down the original reports on Braunlich’s 1927 expedition to Hungary to examine the Black Stone itself.)

The idea here is that, instead of just getting a big linear narrative, the players will actually crawl their way through the research. They’ll forge their own connections and create their own narrative connections through the material.

Eternal Lies - Savitree's Research

(PDF)

SAVITREE’S LIBRARY: Savitree’s actual library (as opposed to her research notes) is a completely different monster. It’s even more impressive than Echavarria’s library. As described in Eternal Lies, poring over this library is impossible within the timeframe of the campaign (it would take years). Skimming the library takes considerable amounts of time (as described in the campaign), but rewards you with a massive set of dedicated pool points.

(Note: Although the campaign suggests that the players will have to return to Ko Kruk Island in order to access the full library, you should be prepared for them taking the time to crate the whole thing up and ship it to a safe house somewhere. It’s not difficult, however, to argue that it can’t all fit on their plane in a usable/accessible form. Because it won’t.)

One specific tome that can be found in the library, however, is the 9-volume Matterhorn Press edition of the Revelations of Glaaki. I’ve prepped a specific handout for that and you should pass it over as soon as they’ve spent any amount of time perusing the library’s contents. (The relationship between various versions of the Revelations is one key way in which the remix allows the PCs to figure out the true identity of the Thing With a Thousand Mouths and succeed where Savitree failed. But there’ll be more details on that when we reach Severn Valley.)

Go to 2.1.1 Severn Valley

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