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Above and Beyond
Author: Matt Sanborn
System: Call of Cthulhu
On Saturday, April 24, 1926, Daredevil Owen the Fearless fell to
his death while atop an airplane. The tragedy occurred when the pilot
refused to land the plane despite quickly moving dark clouds forming as he
worked the craft into the sky.
Playtesters: Brian "MacZilla" MacDonald, Brian "I'm back" Courtemanche, and
John "False Witness" Macone.
The Scenario: This can be a good adventure to start a campaign off with, or
use as a one night game. It is fairly straight forward and the solution is
almost predictable. That isn't where the challenge lies in this game.
Executing the plan to destroy the Hunting Horror and closing the gate will
be the true test of the player's sanity and courage. This adventure can
give first time players a memorable and exciting experience. A good Keeper
will be able to create great sense of excitement and danger to the players.
Background: On Saturday, April 24, 1926, Daredevil Owen the Fearless fell to
his death while atop an airplane. The tragedy occurred when the pilot
refused to land the plane despite quickly moving dark clouds forming as he
worked the craft into the sky. The plane entered a large dark cloud
formation and never exited. The crowd witnessed a black burst of energy,
then Owen falling to his death. What is not known to the public is that
Owen was found in two pieces, bitten in half. Since the tragedy, the dark
clouds and terrible weather have huddled in a five mile circumference over
parts of the Miskatonic Valley, with the air station at the epicenter. Air
station meteorologist, Dr. Benjamin Orr, who runs the Miskatonic Valley
Meteorological Station here, is absolutely stumped. As the days pass, the
fortunes of the air station, and the area, begin to worsen.
What Is Going On: The plane took off into a bright, sunny April Saturday.
The two seater Avro 504K, a well known, dependable barnstorming craft
carried a pilot, co-pilot, and on the wing Owen the Fearless. Owen showed
up late, and a little drunk, and was not weighed in. The pilot had a bit of
trouble getting the plane to its necessary altitude for the stunt, and had
to circle the field in a criss-cross pattern several times before really
An incredible synchronicity was taking place. The pattern which the plane
made over the runway and its eight orange painted stone markers, in
conjunction with the time and alignment of the planets, created the perfect
conditions, and a gate began to open up in the heavens; a non-somatic spell
had been cast.
Quickly the blackest clouds rushed in and hovered right over the air
station, where the gate was now open. Foolishly, the plane kept ascending,
despite this wholly unique natural phenomenon. The observers on the ground
never new how lucky they were that they could not see the plane. A Hunting
Horror had come through the gate, and found its first meal. The plane was
knocked into the gate by the tail of the beast, and sucked into the cosmos.
The beast then took a bite out of Owen the Brave before he fell, already
The gate remains open, but thus far only the Hunting Horror has exited. A
heavy set of clouds remain in a five mile radius, actually pouring out of
the opening to the other side, with its epicenter directly over the airport.
Flights coming in and out will not see the gate. It is but a heavy swirl of
dark and electrically charged clouds, which only the greatest fool would
dare fly into. It will not suck anything into itself, therefore, most
planes are safe from this plight unless directly flying into it. Presently
only the Hunting Horror has emerged. Keepers may want to keep it this way,
since allowing other beings into the world can turn the game into a cheesy
Timeline and Player Insertion: The Keeper can insert the players at any
point in this timeline, depending on the character. Perhaps the players are
pilots; maybe they witnessed Owen's death. If they are reporters, they
could be investigating the death, or the recent bizarre weather. They could
also be professors or students from Miskatonic.
April 24, 1926, Saturday: Daredevil Owen the Fearless dies in a bizarre
accident. Plane and crew are never found.
April, 25, 1926, Sunday: Intense rains and very dark clouds.
April 26, 1926, Monday: Rains keep aero-station closed.
April 27, 1926, Tuesday: Very dark, only mail planes fly out.
April 28, 1926, Wednesday: More terrible weather. Ford 4-At, returning from
Cuba, is attacked by the Hunting Horror, has a wing ripped off and fuselage
punctured. Plane crashes one mile outside aero-station, 13 passengers, 3
crew die, 1 survivor in coma.
April 29, 1926, Thursday: Aero-station closed due to intense rains.
April 30, 1926, Friday: Very dark, all flights leave, arrive safely.
May 1, 1926, Saturday: Air show, all flights, canceled due to extreme rain
May 2, 1926, Sunday: Weather station roof ripped off by something in early
May 3, 1926, Monday: Very dark day. Mail plane attacked during arrival
right above the airport. Pilot radios in about "Great dragon!" before the
crash. Both pilot and co-pilot killed.
Miskatonic Valley Aero-Station: The Miskatonic Valley Aero-Station is a new,
and quite successful addition to the Miskatonic Valley. Built in 1923 as a
place for air and barnstorming shows, the station was awarded a government
contract in 1924 to host and house four US Postal Service planes. This has
been a cash cow for the station. Added in 1925 was a small terminal, and
flights during the week to New York, Chicago, Florida, Washington DC, and
every other week, to Cuba. A good majority of the station's business comes
from its aero-taxi services. The station employees 65 people, and has
increased businesses in local restaurants and shops.
The full layout of the compound consists of six criss-crossed dirt runways,
a dirt and grass boarding area, a terminal to wait in, (magazines, coffee
and sandwiches sold within), parking field, bleachers for air show
attendants, A large hangar, (with a tiny pilot's lounge), communications
building, mail warehouse, a fueling area and a small one story building
which houses the offices. There is a 500 foot field between the hangar and
a lot of 10 cottages where pilots, stewardesses, navigators, daredevils,
other employees, may crash for a night or three, for a dollar a night. The
meteorological station sits on a hill over-looking the cottages.
In the hangar rests:
4 US Postal planes
2 Ford 4-AT Trimotors
2 Fokker F.VII/3m
4 Avro 504K
2 Sopwith 7f.1 Snipe
Outside of the hangar a small dirigible, crew 4, passengers max. 20.
The aero-station has also helped keep the valley flowing in booze. Arkham
kingpin Danny O'Bannion receives shipments from Chicago here almost daily.
Marijuana is also being brought in from New York and Cuba. Pilot Jim Wuzzel
does most of the flying in of the booze. He is a nice enough guy, but
prefers to keep a low profile. He has also made a few thousand dollars
getting some of O'Bannion's associates in and out of the area in a hurry and
without being spotted. Most of the people employed at the station know who
to go to if they want vices filled, but say nothing. One person who has no
idea of the illegal activities here is Rupert Boyle, owner of the airport.
Rupert Boyle: An affable and kind man, Boyle saw the potential of an
airport and invested over $200,000 of his own money into its creation and
maintenance. He has seven other silent partners, rich Boston lawyers, who
invested a total of $150,000. He is trying to keep cool during this period
of crisis, but knows too well the government contract and the future of the
airport, as well as many jobs, are on the verge of collapsing under these
bizarre circumstances. He has most of his money riding on this project, and
is also truly concerned about laying people off. In the works are contracts
with the National Forest Service and US Mapping Service. Both quite
lucrative deals are now on the line.
What Can Be Done: Depending on who the character is will determine how much
interaction he has within the aero-station. Reporters will be left more on
the outside than professors or other pilots. Rupert Boyle will realize
something bizarre is taking place. He will meet with Professor Benjamin Orr
and his assistants, then with the pilots and other helpful personnel. He
will reason that a team should go up into the cloud mass and try to take
some photos. It will be agreed that a Fokker F.VIIA/3m will be taken up
with a crew of 2 plus Dr. Orr, his two assistants, and anyone else who can
help. The plane holds up to ten passengers. Everyone will be issued and
told to wear a parachute. Those not knowing how to use a parachute, will be
given instructions. The flight will take place on Tuesday, May 4.
Tuesday, May 4, 1926: The plane takes off with pilots Rex Lewis and
Bannister Denning (qv - stats) as the crew. If one of the players is a
pilot, they may take the NPCs place. Both are carrying their guns. The
plane is given clearance at 9:45 am, on this dark, damp day. The pilot will
circle several times before climbing to the cloud's altitude, (1,100 feet).
Once inside the formation, Dr. Orr will begin to talk excitedly about this
"natural phenomenon," and he will have, "never, ever seen anything like this
before in my life."
The flight will be a bit rough, but steady. the visibility here is about
100 feet, very poor for pilots. After ten or so uneventful minutes, the
pilots will agree to begin descending, as turbulence and head wind is
becoming very strong. As they begin their descent, they see it. The
Hunting Horror will fly pass the right side of the plane in view. It will
disappear for a few seconds, then emerge head on with the plane, a mere
fifty feet away and closing. Sanity rolls will be needed all around.
Should the pilot's go insane, real problems could occur. Before the pilots
can begin a quick descent, the beast attacks the plane, flying above and
whipping the top of the passenger cabin. The cabin has an armor of 4
points, and a total of 150 hps. Critical hits require a roll on the table
Critical Hit Chart
1.) Pilot Cabin Punctured. Make pilots roll for luck. A failure indicates
he or she has been injured. Keeper's option on damage: broken glass, tail
of monster, bashed head. Pressure drop.
2.) Passenger Cabin Punctured. Pressure Drop
3.) Fuselage Punctured
4.) Left wing top motor ripped off. Immediate pilot roll needed to avoid
5.) Right wing top motor ripped off. See above.
6.) Left wing bottom motor torn off. See above.
7.) Right wing bottom motor torn off. See above.
8.) Baggage cabin punctured. Pressure drop.
9.) Window smashed. Possible damage if anyone was in the seat. Assign all
ten windows a number, then roll a d.10. This will determine which window is
busted. Work out damage. Pressure drop.
10.) Window smashed. See above.
See the section on Piloting in the 1920s (qv) on how to work out the events.
The Attack on the Plane: The pilot can try to get out of the cloud formation
by racing five miles north, leaving the cloud formation, or drop down below
the clouds. The beast will attack, and has a move of 11 while flying. An
individual can open the roof hatch and climb to the roof. There are handles
on the side, leading to the wings. Any attempt to shoot the creature should
carry a percentage loss of the Keeper's ruling. It is windy, loud, and
dangerous. If the player is brave enough, (or stupid enough, there's very
little difference), to climb onto a wing, a climb roll or two should be
ordered by the Keeper, with a luck roll every few rounds. If the Hunting
Horror begins to become nicked up, it will take off for the time being. Its
ultimate goal here is to knock the people out of the plane and see if a meal
can be grabbed. People using a flash of a camera or an extremely bright
light within 5 feet of the beast will scare it away for a few hours. This
could give the players some ideas on the monster's vulnerability to light.
After the Attack: Should the plane return from the ground safely, insanity
should manifest itself for those who lost more than 20% of their total
sanity points. Dr. Orr, or if he is dead, one of his assistants, will
recommend contact with Dr. Henry Armitage at Miskatonic University. He is
known to have a great deal of knowledge on many esoteric topics. If the
creature is shot down and killed, it will hit the ground and begin
disintegrating almost immediately. The body will be gone within ten
minutes. The gate will remain open and the terrible weather remains. Dr.
Armitage may still be a good person to speak with about what has just
transpired. It is up to the Keeper whether to let more creatures now enter
into the world through the gate.
Dr. Henry Armitage: This is the pre-Dunwich Horror Armitage who is still
quite unaware of the Cthulhu Mythos. When he is contacted, he states he
will do some research on mythical flying beasts, but does not trust
airplanes. He will never go in one for any reason save to keep his life,
and will not go to the airport. If you have a character who can take the
place of Armitage, all the better for continuity of play.
The Next Two Days: The next two days see terrible weather, and no news from
Armitage. All flights have been canceled due to the constant lightning
storms above. Five miles here in either direction, the weather is bright
and everything is blooming. All foliage under the clouds have been pounded
off by the hard rains. Players will now have time to possibly go up in the
plane again, or do some research. Keepers, let the players lead the game
for the time being, seeing what their thoughts are. The real reason the
creature appeared may never be discovered, but a good word is on the way.
"This may be it": Dr. Armitage calls one of the surviving NPCs on the
morning of Friday, May 7.
"This may be it," Armitage states, then reads a passage from "an old book."
The receiver of the call will write it down verbatim:
"Flying creatures of night darken skies and choke the day Forever living in
the death night but bring it into the bright light and it shall perish.
Perish it and close the door to the other side, keeping man safe for another
day. This has been played for thousands of years."
The Heroine Appears: Working for the aero-station, and following the
previous events closely, is pilot Alysa Haugh. She is the only female pilot
in the state, and the only female blimp pilot in New England. Many of the
other pilots secretly feel she is a poor flyer, but she has enough support
from certain senior pilots that no one speaks openly about her. She is a
capable plane pilot, and an excellent blimp captain. She will later in life
take a job with United Dirigibles in New York.
Alysa has heard from the pipeline that bright light may solve all there
problems. She will approach investigators about her plan: Strapping an
incendiary device atop the blimp and exploding it near the epicenter. Crew
could be evacuated onto an airplane below. The blimp would be destroyed,
but it would be better to lose that, than the airport.
Alysa can be left out of the scenario if you want players to try and figure
this problem out for themselves. She can also be brought in if the players
are really stuck or want to use the blimp.
Alysa the Brave: Alysa lost her husband years ago in the war and suffers
from such great depression that death isn't seeming that bad. She dreams of
an opportunity to prove her bravery, something which drives her. She is
headstrong, but intelligent; fearless and uncaring about her own well being.
Deeper still, is the wish to die.
Alysa the hero or fool?: Players may come up with their own solutions, but
little less than an intense blast of bright light will seal the gate shut,
and cease production of the dark and land drenching clouds. If Alysa's plan
is agreed upon, she will tell then the steps to her plan.
1.) A minimal crew of two people board the blimp with the bomb aboard.
2.) A Vokker follows below them.
3.) An Avro comes to run interference and shoot at anything up there.
3.) They all go up, and near the darkest clouds, Alysa will climb up and
place to bomb atop the blimp via the crawlway to the top. She will tell
everyone the bomb should not be placed there until the proper height has
been reached, as it is too dangerous. This is not really true, but she
wants this to be dangerous.
Evacuation: A ladder from the control booth will be lowered, and
investigators need to make a climb roll, with any modifications the Keeper
would like to put, to make it to the wing of the Vokker. A dexterity roll
on a d.20 is needed to see if the cabin is reached safely. If not, allow
players to make a luck roll. Success signifies the adventurer has grabbed
onto a part of the wing, and now holding on for life. Have the pilot make a
roll to keep the plane steady at this critical time. If the Luck roll
fails, the player falls. Smart players will have donned parachutes. A Luck
roll signifies the shoot opens and a safe landing will occur. A failure res
ults in the character becoming one with the earth.
Alysa will not exit the blimp. She will remain at the opening with the
bomb. The pilot should not wait, and any NPC pilot will get the plane away.
Within a minute a huge explosion will be heard, with a blast of bright white
light. Alysa will be remembered a hero. Any pilot foolish enough to keep a
plane directly below the blimp waiting for Alysa is blown out of the sky.
Aftermath: Before the plane touches down, the sky is clearing. Clouds are
being sucked into themselves, with everything pulling right into the blast.
By touchdown, the sky will be bright and the ominous clouds gone. Alysa
will be remembered by her peers for her bravery. The waiting station will
be renamed for her.
Players involved in saving the aero-station, and all that money, will be
rewarded by a $1,000 check a piece. They will also be granted free passage
on any of their flights for life by Boyle. The other investors, mostly rich
Boston lawyers, will offer to give free or reduced legal services to
investigators in a jam. Having an exceptional lawyer for little cost may be
a great boon for those seeking out the truth of the Mythos.
Piloting in the Twenties: Later this year Congress will pass the Air
Commerce Act of 1926. The aero-station is almost up to code without knowing
it. The one violation would be that the orange wind strips are located atop
the meteorology building. All pilots here are very skilled, and would have
no problem securing a pilot's license. Most have experience from the Great
War, but the younger fly-boys have been taught by one of the veterans.
Pressure Drop: Should a there become a puncture in a cabin or broken window,
a pressure drop will occur. This may not be as bad as it seems. Most
planes flying short routes often had pilot windows open, so a quick change
of atmosphere is not as serious as it is today with pressurized cabins. The
quick take in of air and moisture can affect the plane immensely however.
Two successful pilot rolls are needed to keep the plane steady. If there is
success, the plane is cold, windy and noisy, but passengers can still
breath. Anyone not wearing a seat belt needs to make a resistance roll of
SIZ/15. If failure occurs, the person is sucked at the window, and is
jammed. Pulling the individual in requires a STR(s)/25. Many tries can be
made, but heavy pulling can cause internal injuries to the person.
If pilot rolls fail, the plane will either spin or nose dive.
Nose Dive: Something has caused the plane to head straight down. A pilot
roll must be made at -30 to pull the craft up and level it off. Pilot may
make one roll for every 1000 feet of a drop. Add -20% more to each roll.
The second roll will be at -50%, the third -70%, the fourth - -90%, the
fifth - well.... A fifth roll, an automatic failure, indicates
unconsciousness of all on board and a quite smashing end.
Spins: There are two types of spins: the standard, (wing-over-wing), and
the tail-spin, (end over end). Make the pilot roll for Luck. Success
indicates a standard spin. Failure equals a tail-spin.
Standard spins: Successful pilot roll gets the plane back in balance. A
failure indicates another spin. Another roll is needed at -20%. Subtract
twenty more percent up to four total rolls. Four failed rolls indicate the
plane is out of control and gone into a nose dive.
Tail spin: A body-over-tail-tail-over-body is a very dangerous predicament.
A pilot must make two successful rolls, the first at -20% and the second
at -30%. If failure occurs, the next pilot may take his rolls. Both
failures indicate the plane is in a nose dive.
Name: Rex Lewis
Occupation: Pilot Sex: M Age: 27
Birthplace: Boston, MA
ST: 13 DEX: 15 INT: 13 IDEA: 65
CON: 15 APP: 11 POW: 15 LUCK: 75
SIZ: 13 SAN: 75 EDU: 13 KNOW: 65
Sanity points: 75 Magic Points: 15 Hit Points: 14
Skills: Accounting: 10 Climb: 55 Conceal: 77 Dodge: 43 Drive Auto: 50
Electrical Repair: 40 First Aid: 47 Hide: 50 Jump: 43 Listen: 77 Navigate:
79 Pilot Airplane: 79 Ride: 68 Spot Hidden: 78 Firearms: Handgun: 65
Machine Gun: 45 Rifle: 55 Shotgun: 30 Submachine Gun: 52 Hand-To-Hand:
Fist/punch: 48 Head Butt: 25 Kick: 25 Grapple: 33
Carries a 9mm semi-automatic in coat at all times.
Name: Bannister Denning
Occupation: Pilot Sex: M Age: 46
Birthplace: Haverhill, MA
ST: 12 DEX: 13 INT: 15 IDEA: 75
CON: 14 APP: 11 POW: 17 LUCK: 85
SIZ: 12 SAN: 85 EDU: 14 KNOW: 70
Sanity Points: 85 Magic Points: 85 Hit Points: 13
Skills: Dodge: 31 Drive Auto: 74 Electrical Repair: 50 First Aid: 58
Listen: 21 Mechanical Repair: 65 Navigate: 84 Pilot Aircraft: 86 Spot
Hidden: 66 Firearms: Handgun: 75 Machine Gun: 50 Rifle: 59 Shotgun: 44
Submachine Gun: 35 Hand-To-Hand: Fist/punch: 45 Head Butt: 79 Kick: 25
Carries a 9mm semi-automatic in coat at all times.
Name: Alysa Haugh
Occupation: Pilot Sex: F Age: 29
Birthplace: Boston, MA
ST: 9 DEX: 15 INT: 13 IDEA: 65
CON: 17 APP: 14 POW: 13 LUCK: 65
SIZ: 9 SAN: 65 EDU: 11 KNOW: 55
Sanity points: 65 Magic Points: 13 Hit Points: 14
Skills: Drive Auto: 65 Electrical Repair: 25 Listen: 50 Mechanical Repair:
43 Navigate: 75 Persuade: 66 Pilot Airplane: 66 Pilot Blimp: 85 Spot
Hidden: 69 Firearms: Handgun: 35 Machine Gun: 30 Rifle: 20 Shotgun: 25
Submachine Gun: 15 Hand-To-Hand: Fist/Punch: 25 Head Butt: 15 Kick: 45