Call of Cthulhu: We Cannot Hallow This Ground

hallow-groundCivil War Cthulhu returns – now in the new Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition! Soon fter the Battle of Gettysburg, the Union decides to honor its fallen with a new national cemetery. But the task requires the disinterment, identification, and reburial of over 3,500 decomposing corpses from the battlefield. When rumors begin spreading of some irregularities in the project, President Lincoln summons a special group of investigators to discreetly look into things. But how wisely has he chosen his agents?

And check out Ethan’s other actual play podcast: ! They’ve got a Red Markets beta campaign, their own sessions of the Civil War Cthulhu games, Eclipse Phase, and more!

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  1. Pretty good episode. The acting (FWOABW) was great.
    I liked the little joke about Australia towards the beginning also.

  2. Really wish Ann and I had had a chance to play a game with Ethan before we moved. Maybe someday…

  3. Whee, more Civil War CoC!

  4. Kiljoy: I really wish I could have played with you guys, too! Keep your eyes open for any academic conferences and/or job openings at the University of Missouri.

    Man, relistening to this reminded me of how great the notes were that everybody gave me at the end. I’ve revamped the basement lab scene, revised some characters, and made it a lot more likely for the PCs to find the ghoul half of the plot. When the Technical Difficulties version come out, you can all hear the results!

  5. Thank you Caleb Stokes. I mean, thank you all of you, but Caleb’s moments after his priest read the letters were AMAZING.

  6. is that a traditional ultimate purpose for ghouls, that they’ll preserve humanity as a memory when it’s consumed by the Old Ones and keep it forever in their god? that’s nice and loathsome, I dig it.

  7. Good question, crawlkill! That’s mostly my creation. The temple of Mordiggian in Zul-Bha-Sair is part of the common Mythos canon, (it’s from the story “The Charnel God” by Clark Ashton Smith) but there’s not much that connects it to the corpse-eating ghouls from Lovecraft’s stories, beyond some vague hints.

    One of my goals in this scenario is to emphasize the religious aspects of Civil War-era culture, and especially the crisis of faith brought on by the scale of the carnage (the book to read on this subject is This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust). The ghouls’ behavior is a mythos-style take on religion: though grimly physical and gory, they do in fact think of themselves as somehow constituting an afterlife for humanity. And they in turn believe Mordiggian will be their final continuation when he feasts upon them in Zul-Bha-Sair. Of course, they’re probably just as deluded about Mordiggian’s nature as Cthulhu’s cultists are about him.

  8. Great scenario! I also really liked the idea of Ghoul’s believing themselves to be humanity’s afterlife; I thought it was super creative. Looking forward to more Civil War CoC.

  9. Thanks, Lobster Memories! I’ve got at least one more in production. And another version of this scenario will go up on Technical Difficulties pretty soon, too!

  10. It’s cool to see more Civil War CoC. It’s not at all surprising how it ended, due to it being a one-shot.

    The body part puns were great! Especially after the 15th or 20th one! 😛

  11. Re the hat pin discussion about an hour and 40 in: ‘Sure because men should be able to catcall women with no consequences’ ummm well without being stabbed at least I’d say. But judging from the sarcasm apparently women should stab people? yikes.

    This was followed by someone muttering about MRAs supposedly objecting. I know they are not popular, but are we supposed to shake our heads at hypothetical MRA for expressing even perfectly reasonable opinions now?

    Why would someone have to be an MRA to think women stabbing men in the street for being rude is a bad thing anyway?

    Weird social justice digression was weird …and more than a little tumblr flavored.

  12. Good adventure Ethan!

    You always overcome my initial boredom with Civil War history by injecting fascinating historical detail that makes the story come alive.

    The undertaker talking about only able to identify by underwear if a soldier was Union or Confederate is an amazing fact that stuck with me. That the remnants of a persons’ entire life and effort can be rendered down to inquisitively fishing around in their undergarments for some scrap of a lost identity; has this haunting and tragic resonance.

    Re: Mordiggian and the idea that ghouls believe that they are humanity’s afterlife

    Fantastic idea, rife with cosmic horror. What is more alienating from humanity than becoming a mote of memory in the mind of an immortal?

    Other fiction that explores this theme includes Laird Barron’s “The Forest” in Occultation. It’s a worthwhile story. Yes, again I am recommending Barron with the hope that more people read him.

    Incidentally the Reapers in Mass Effect 2 had this theme as an end goal for humanity, albeit in a slightly different way. So too, the TITANs in Eclipse Phase; at least some of them.

    Laird Barron’s “The Forest” free link:

    For those who want to know the origin of Mordiggian, Clark Ashton Smith’s story “The Charnel God” is reviewed here:

    Adventure critiques:

    At first I thought the adventure was rather short for a story with such interesting historical background and detail. But then you stated it was designed to be a short linear adventure, so objective achieved.

    I agree with the RPPR comment that catacomb/dungeon crawl portion should have at least the illusion of being less linear than it is. Branching and linking paths, this could be satisfied if the underground is structured like a honeycomb; is one option.

    At the moment I’m ruminating over the choice that all of the clues as to the primary antagonist’s motivation are inside his house. I understand you want to keep the adventure linear, but this seems too unsatisfyingly simplistic to me. It feels like once the house is found, the mystery is solved all too quickly and now the resolution begins without enough of a buildup.

    Perhaps distributing some of the primary antagonist’s backstory to other locations in the grave site or town? I don’t know. I need a second listen to be more helpful critically.

    I did quite like that the memorial to his son is front and center in the hall. It makes sense from a historical perspective, explains the antagonist’s motive and is a good clue to entice the players to explore the house further. It also helps to keep the linearity of the adventure tight.

    If you want to expand this adventure, I would certainly recommend bringing the character of Basil Biggs to the fore. He seems like the most interesting character in the plot, but then the players don’t get to interact with him much at all.

    When you publish this up (and I hope you will) perhaps consider Caleb’s discussion of a frame story to loosely link the adventures as seen in The Final Revelation.

    I would not be happy with a “Delta Green” government agency in the Civil War though. I can’t put my finger on it but it just doesn’t make sense to me. Perhaps a more historically grounded reason for a group of diverse investigators to be linked?

    Again, enjoyed this adventure and am looking forward to more Civil War Cthulhu.

  13. Thanks for the complements, Twisting H, and especially for the notes and ideas for improvement!

    I’ve already incorporated some changes similar to the ones you mentioned. Keep your eyes open for the version of this scenario that I ran for Technical Difficulties! It should be getting posted sometime soon after we finish our current Monsterhearts campaign.

  14. And thanks a lot for the Laird Barron story. It’s fantastic.

  15. For Australia fun, the Terror Austrailis off drivethrurpg from Chaosium has a bunch of good geographic & historic info in the book for all kinds of CoC goodness in it.

  16. Ethan sounds just like my uncle 30+ years ago. He isn’t a professor of history by any chance is he? This is a profoundly odd experience.

  17. Nope, not a professor! Just a simple librarian. Thanks for the compliment, though. I bet your uncle was a cool guy!

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