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If I don't go off of my original idea for a one shot I'm probably going to use the following scenario from Delta Green: Eyes Only.

In the 1920's the alien Mi-Go made a local moonshiner into one of their servants as he lived on the mountain-side where they were performing experiments. He served them loyally and they eventually made him the subject of one of their early human experiments using a proto-matter they had developed. They increased his strength and stamina and he no longer needed to eat, sleep, or even breathe. The proto-matter just made him run non-stop which obviously drove him mad. In the course of protecting his master's work on the mountain, he killed some hikers and was institutionalized. He escaped when his medication was forgotten one day and fled back to the mountain. The Mi-Go had left and he was alone. With nothing else to do he kept his vigil on the mountain until modern era. A surveying group looking to start logging on the mountain and the ageless protector killed members of the group.

This drew Delta Green's attention because several years prior, there had be a similar incident on a neighboring mountain where a group of surveyors from the same company had destroyed a shrine to Shub-Niggarath built by the Mi-Go and awakened a Dark Young. Think a four legged, cloven-hoofed, tree monster made of razor blades and blood sucking tentacles. Cell I was sent in and the cell's leader made the town's sheriff's office friendlies to enlist their help in taking care of the huge monster. This resulted in most of the party being killed and only three survivors: Agent Irene, a deputy, and a Native American guide. Cell A shut down the operation and had the National Forest Service declare the mountain too hazardous for the logging project. The Dark Young has gone silent since, but Cell A monitors the area for any sign that it has become active.

The new killings on the opposite mountain have raised concerns, especially since this particular mountain is outside of the creature's known area of operation. They are unaware of the circumstances of the mutated human on this mountain or the Mi-Go operations that happened there. The Mi-Go have all but forgotten everything from this region. The players' cell is being sent in to evaluate the area and determine if the creature from the previous massacre is responsible for the new killings. If they decide yes, then Cell A sends in a team to try and deal with it that ends up leading to a massive gun fight on the mountain, dead agents, and most likely MJ-12 getting involved.

It's a challenging scenario for a couple of reasons. First, the players go into a situation where they're being told to expect one thing. But the thing they're expecting isn't the culprit in this case. The wrong move could lead to a lot more death than necessary. The trick is to gently hint that trying to research past events on the mountain will get them the story about the mountain man and people who have gone missing there over the years. Then it's determining what the fuck to do about the situation, because they're caught between two really hard to kill monsters.

The best case scenario for them in this situation is to actually determine what is going on with the mountain man and find a way to actually contact the Mi-Go. They have no clue who the agents are, nor do they care at the end of the day. But if they can learn the spell required to summon them and somehow explain what it is that they want to have happen, then they can clean up everything with a nice bow and that's the end of it.

It's not quite as action packed as fighting down hordes of mutated humans and capped off with battling a god at the end, but it is a bit more free form in it's mystery. There's more than a few ways it can end and they have a lot of options to go about exploration. The trouble has always been trying to get the group to play an investigative game as investigators. We're very very very used to resorting to violence as a group and that has kind of worked against them in CoC games. Like our last game, I dropped plenty of clues implying that there was something intelligent behind the wave of weirdness they were investigating but they went in a very straight line and ended up killing everyone. The game before that, they actually got what they needed to defeat the monster but because they rushed to the fight forgot to actually learn what it was that they had.

Previous sessions where they had been more careful were far more successful. They correctly figured out that salt was effective against a slime mold monster after I left multiple obvious hints around. They still somehow believed fire was effective and burned down the entire house while pelting it with handfuls of rock salt. The first adventure I had to guide the only person trying to actually solve the mystery through the finale, but he had at least done the investigation work in the first place. Everyone else had just said fuck it and abandoned him (it was actually really funny).

So I'm hoping that this works out. I'll admit, I'm better at weaving a game around an existing adventure than I am at doing one from scratch. While it makes sense in my head, it doesn't always work out as planned. Plus with this, I can practice doing Mi-Go voices.

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