The Edinburgh Files

The publication of Tourist Trap sees the fourth scenario of my The Edinburgh Files Call Of Cthulhu 7E campaign see the light of day.

Back in June this year, I started to read about the Write Your First Adventure course from the wonderful Storytelling Collective. My relationship with D&D had long since petered out, but I was intrigued to see that they were offering a ‘Chaosium track’, focusing on writing scenarios for Runequest and my all-time favourite RPG, Call of Cthulhu.

I signed up for the course, almost on a whim and a vague self-promise of commitment. As I read the pre-course material, a (grand) idea started to form … what if I wrote a lengthy campaign, inspired by the likes of Horror on the Orient Express and Masks of Nyarlathotep, of which the scenario I was about to write was the first part?

Amazingly (for me), that idea took seed, grew roots and has actually blossomed into reality. With four scenarios under my belt and the general arc of the campaign mapped out, it looks like The Edinburgh Files will actually become a thing.

The conceit of the campaign is relatively straightforward, but requires a considerable amount of plotting, foreshadowing and work ‘under the hood.’

It focuses on everyone’s favourite Mythos baddie (and, at times, convenient deus ex machina) Nyarlathotep, and a real historical figure from Edinburgh’s dark past – Major Thomas Weir.

Weir was tried and executed for witchcraft in 1670 after being found guilty of a string of foul and depraved deeds. A self-proclaimed warlock, he stated that he gained his powers from a ‘fiery gentleman’ who arrived outside his Victoria Street home in a coach one dark and moonless night.

Now, who better than to take the part of a ‘fiery gentleman’ than old Gnarly himself?

And so the seeds are planted. Thomas Putnam, the antagonist of my first scenario The Pharaoh’s Sacrifice, lives in the same residence once inhabited by Major Weir.

In A Red, Red Rose, the ghouls and vampires beneath the city inhabit the same warrens once frequented by the self-styled warlock, and some of his writings are waiting in an abandoned library storeroom, waiting to be found.

In The Burry Man, a letter from Major Weir hints at his and his sister Grizel’s power, and in Tourist Trap, the full horror of Weir’s foul deal with Nyarlathotep is revealed.

By the time they finish this scenario (if they survive…), investigators have an inkling of what has been going on in Edinburgh’s dark and secret shadows: since 1723, Weir and his sister have been resurrected every 100 years, then have proceeded to wreak havoc on the city unless thwarted.

In the next acts of the campaign (yet to be written), investigators will have to deal with the aftermath of his 1923 resurrection, discover how to defeat him (and therefore Nyarlathotep) once and for all in 2023, and then embark on the mind & time-bending conclusion to the campaign, where investigators in one time period must make difficult choices to allow investigators in the other a chance of victory.

It also gives me the chance to write a couple of historical oneshot ‘optional scenarios’ very much in the vein of the flashbacks in Horror on the Orient Express. One will take place in 1723, and feature Jacobites discovering a strange ritual that promises great power. The other will take place in 1823, and see veterans from the Napoleonic Wars face Weir’s resurrected form in early 19th century Edinburgh.

So, in total, there are at least six more scenarios planned as part of this grand arc. Bolstered by the sales and positive reviews of the ones I’ve released to date, I can confidently state that I will produce them, and aim to have them all complete by autumn 2023.

Then I can see if the Edinburgh tourist board want to grant me the keys to the city … or run me out of it with flaming torches and pitchforks.

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