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Eternal Lies - Mexico City

Campaign NotesDioramaProps Packet

I’m afraid I need to preface the remix of the Mexico City locale with a hard truth: In my opinion, this section of the original campaign is a big mess. Despite some really interesting ideas (that are largely left undeveloped), it’s easily the weakest section of the entire campaign.

First, it’s heavily overwritten. There’s a lot of meandering about self-evident contingencies, but there’s also a lot of bizarrely out-of-place GM advice. For example: “Eternal Lies is performed on the soundstage of your imagination. It is not played out on location in Mexico City, 1937. When conjuring an imaginary Mexico City for your adaptation of Eternal Lies, remember that your dramatic interpretation of Mexico City must, foremost, serve your story.” At this point you’re 260 pages into the book and at least 6-8 sessions into the campaign. It feels really weird to be saying things like, “Hey! Remember that the thing you’ve been doing for the last two months is totally a work of fiction!” Or to say things like this: “Keep all of that in mind while you’re making choices for Gonchi, because when you’re playing the role of Gonchi, you’ve also got to be playing the part of the Keeper still.”

Ignoring the fact that I consider some of the advice in this chapter to be flat-out bad (like explicitly telling your players that a particular prop is really important, so they should make sure to pay attention to it), you’re still faced with the fact that it’s curiously banal.

Second, it’s structurally weak (featuring a long, tenuous string of linear clues with little redundancy and a lot of faith-leaping). It’s also structurally bloated. For example, when the PCs are trying to track down a band of musicians, there’s a sequence where they have to go to a bar, have a conversation with a specific NPC, then get invited to a party, have another conversation with that same NPC, and then finally get introduced to the band. Later they’re supposed to get captured by the bad guys and tossed down a pit lined with mouths. Then they’re supposed to walk across a room and fall down ANOTHER pit with a Mouth in it.

You’ll note that these curious redundancies are absent from the remix: The bar and the party are conflated into a single interaction. And there is only one mouth-filled pit in the bad guys’ lair.

Third, speaking of mouth-filled pits, the conclusion is a bit of a disaster: In order to play out as written, it requires the PCs to be captured and thrown into the oubliette. But there’s no reasonable way to actually arrange for their capture. The scenario then explicitly breaks the normal rules for handling Stability checks, implementing a custom system which is impossibly brutal and essentially guarantees that the PCs will be wiped out.Eternal Lies - Mexico City - Elena Alcatruz The author then seems to realize he’s made a mistake, because he includes an entire section dedicated exclusively to discussing how to railroad the PCs back out of the trap you’ve railroaded them into in order to avoid the inevitable TPK.

Fourth, there’s Elena Alcatruz. I thought about renaming her Mary Sue, but that felt a little too on the nose. Elena is this completely inconsequential and irrelevant character who is stunningly beautiful, utterly charming, versed in every subject the PCs are interested in, and literally the most amazing person they will ever meet. She receives the largest write-up of any NPC in the entire campaign (including three unique, detailed outfits), it’s suggested that one of the PCs should fall in love with her, and “if the Investigators (or their players) look forward to seeing her again in a future scene, you’re playing her just right.”

As a result of all this, Mexico City is probably the most heavily altered location in my version of the campaign: Entire scenes have been dropped, clues have been added and many have been redirected. It’s the only location where I recommend laying the book aside during the game and running strictly from the remix notes.

PROACTIVE NODES

One thing that will probably leap out at you about Mexico City is the large number of proactive nodes. When you’re running the location, don’t lose track of these: There are five proactive nodes and some of them (like Gonchi Del Toro or Brooks’ thugs) can even be used multiple times. Given that there are only eight static nodes (and three of those already include variations of the thugs in their own right), you won’t want to wait for the PCs to settle in before hitting them with the proactive stuff.

In many ways, these proactive nodes are the defining characteristic of the Mexico City location and set it apart from the other cities of the cult: Brooks has eyes and ears everywhere (and many of them are watching each other). Between Gonchi, the thugs, the birds, a second round of thugs, the shooter in Node 3, and then the thugs who attack La Paz, the entire city should pretty much just scream Brooks’ paranoia.

DE LA LUZ SONGS

One new addition to the Mexico City location that I’d like to call particular attention to are the additional De La Luz songs I developed: In the original campaign, there’s only one recording of Leticia de la Luz and its effect is fairly minimal. To this I’ve added “Cancion del Cuco”, “Armonia de los Dioses”, “Caricia de los Labios”, and “Grunido de la Montana”. Each of these has their own unique effect, which is summarized on a reference sheet (pg. 5 of the remix notes).

The conclusion of the Mexico City location, instead of being based around the oubliette, is instead based around Leticia de la Luz and the Major Mouth influencing the PCs through the alternating use of different songs. There’s no specific script for this: Play it by ear (pun intended) and keep switching the songs up while using them to best effect.

PROP NOTES

A LOVE POEM FOR LETICIA: I’m particularly satisfied with how this creepy-as-hell poem turned out. I’ve included a file for printing a 5.75″ x 4.5″ envelope. The poem is designed to be printed on matching stationary, but it’s relatively easy to print it on any size paper and trim it down. (You can skip the envelope, but note that it’s the primary clue here: The return address points to Brooks’ penthouse.)

LA PAZ MATCHBOOK: Print this onto cardstock and then cut it down to the size of a matchbook cover. It’s then relatively easy to rip the cover off a book of matches and staple the new cover on to replace it. A text file included in the props packet gives the address you’re supposed to write inside: La Cruz 29, 3°, 18. (That’s how addresses work in Mexico: It means #29 on La Cruz street, 3rd floor, Unit 18.)

LINER NOTES FOR THE NEW ALBUM: Separate files are given for the front and back of this handout. As detailed in the included text file and the scenario notes, there’s a crytography key that you can give to someone making a Cryptography spend. That should give them enough information to translate the text.

PHOTO OF DOMINGUEZ AND HIS CREW: Here, again, there’s a text file noting what need to be written on the back of the photo.

VICTOR CORTEZ BUSINESS CARD: These are designed for 8471 Avery Business Cards. (You could also print them on cardstock and cut them down to business card size.) I filled the whole sheet with them because… well… why not? And then I developed the idea of Cortez compulsively handing them out to everyone he talks to.

Eternal Lies - Mexico City - Aztec Mural

Go to 2.5 Yucatan

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8 Responses to “Eternal Lies – Mexico City”

  1. Zeta Kai says:

    I just wanted to say that I’m really enjoying this series. I doubt that I’ll ever get to run it, but I wish that I had the time/group for this sort of thing. I would love to see you do a remix of more notable campaigns/dungeons, like the Tomb of Horrors or the Red Hand of Doom.

  2. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Thank you for your continued work on these. While I’m a long way off running this campaign, it gives me great pleasure to read through your works.

  3. Justin Alexander says:

    @Zeta Kai: I’ve had a long back-burnered concept for combining Red Hand of Doom and the Splintered Peace campaign from Atlas Games into a single campaign. So… maybe some day! 😉

  4. Brotherwilli says:

    As someone who’s run Red Hand of Doom, I’d love to see that mashup. RHoD is a great campaign, but I couldn’t run it as written without significant changes to the timeline and connecting pieces between scenes.

  5. Justin Alexander says:

    @Zeta Kai: Something else I should mention is that the campaign takes about 100 hours of playing time. (My group did it in 95, but it could easily range up to 110 or so depending on how things actually play out.)

    So it’s a good chunk of time. But not a completely daunting on: About half a year of weekly 4 hour sessions.

  6. Canyon F says:

    Are there supposed to be actual audio files for the new De La Luz recordings? I’ll admit it, I’m getting spoiled by your preparation and thoroughness.

  7. Justin Alexander says:

    There are not, I’m afraid. The idea of multiple recordings as a way to juice up the Mexico City finale didn’t occur to me until just before we started the location, which didn’t leave me enough time to figure out how to make additional recordings that would sound reminiscent to the one I’d already made.

  8. Sven says:

    Thanks for all the great work Justin, my group is absolutely loving the campaign, and the handouts.
    There is one thing that stood out in the Mexico chapter…: in the PO Box they found the postcard from Dominguez to Brooks. However, the address shown on it is of Brooks home address (Rio Tigris), not the PO Box address…
    Almost finished here, and then off to Yucatan (They only did Savannah and LA previously)

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