Another scenario I will probably never make the time to write...

Because there are just too many ideas to ever get to all of them and writing projects float higher in the priority queue than gaming scenarios. Not because I think this idea would make a bad scenario. In fact, I have a clearer idea here than for the Giftschrank one. Aaaand I should really get to talking about the idea, than around the idea.

So I listen to quite a few podcasts, preferably ones that tell me a story in some fashion. One of these podcasts is Stuff You Missed in History Class. There are fascinating stories in history and Stuff gives me just enough to feel like I've tipped a toe into the story and could go research more if I'm interested. Or like I got a good encapsulation of the highlights of a very zoomed in story within history.

One of the episodes was on the Courrières Mining Disaster of 1906, which was this massive explosion in this enormous mining complex in France. Lots of people died but nearly a month later, a group of men emerged from the tunnels, having been trapped underground with no one looking for them for a month. They'd been in the dark, dank, claustrophobic tunnels eating only what they could find down there all that time.

Sounds like a horror scenario to me. I'm not particularly afraid of small, dark spaces, but damn if getting trapped underground for that long wouldn't induce that particular fear for me.

Things I would need to do to build this scenario:

  1. Relisten to the podcast episode, to get in the right mood
  2. Develop a list of sources, preferably translations of primary sources (they'll be in French), to do my own research
  3. Try to find a map of the Courrières Mining complex
    1. If I can't, got to draw one myself
  4. Research the state of mining at the time for good description of setting to give players
  5. Develop pregens
  6. Develop list of possible encounters for the players
    1. couple of ideas: dead horses, corpses, mushrooms, broken equipment, and cave-ins

This scenario, fairly obviously to me, belongs in the Call of Cthulhu system. That system already has the sanity mechanic and is (generally) intended for the 1920s/1930s period, so not horrendously difficult to pull back to the turn of the century. It's not a Trail of Cthulhu game because I'm not seeing a whole lot of investigation to be done, and I rather grind away at the characters/players' sanity than run a pulp-type game. It's not Delta Green because, well, it's just not. The characters aren't the folks trying to keep the mythos at bay, they're just a bunch of blue-collar folks who had the massive bad luck to be at their jobs when things exploded.

To be quite honest, I'm not sure I want to include any mythos in this one. The circumstances should be, with decent description and a little imagination, quite horrifying on their own.

To be further honest, I've never actually read any H.P.Lovecraft – everything I know about the mythos has been from cultural absorption, playing the board game Arkham Horror, and finally both listening to and playing in Call of Cthulhu/Delta Green/Trail of Cthulhu games. I'm sure there's something already in the mythos that lives underground and would be disturbed by a huge freaking explosion. And I'm sure that I could write an original monster for the players to encounter.

I'm just not sure that's the direction I want to take it. I could write it as the monster caused the explosion, but then that could diminish the horror of humans being quite good at killing ourselves through our own actions/inactions. Or I could write it as the monster has been disturbed by the mining, has been defending its territory by disappearing/killing miners who were off by themselves, and now has a large bunch of prey it knows it won't be disturbed (further) for killing - playing with the 'humans aren't the apex predators here anymore' theme.

But I think what I really want to focus on are the crazy, dangerous situations we humans habituate ourselves to, until something comes along and reminds us of why we should be scared. Whether that something is a natural disaster or a disaster of our own making. Really focus on the psychological aspects of the disaster.

Besides, if I run this for experienced CoC players, the longer they go without encountering mythos, the more they'll ratchet themselves up anticipating it.