Saturday, 13 November 2010

cthulhu double feature: brown's plaid and macleish's heid

Brown's Plaid
A whisky brewed by ex-islander and Glasgow resident Douglas Immanuel Brown, according to an old family recipe.  The bottles are often left unheeded by most respecting bar staff to moulder quietly at the back, their plaid decorated labels (Brown's Distillery Est. 1899) stained with dark, oily residue that smells faintly of lye.   The story of Brown was quietly suppressed by the local church, tales of his still exploding in a blast that left bubbling pools and oily tar "...where once Brown distilt baurley-bree" can be found in the more discerning Scottish libraries as a warning to moonshiners everywhere.

The whisky itself is harsh stuff, pale amber in colour, readily condensing on the side of the glass and reeking of peat.  It's taste is ferociously sharp and warming.  Those drinking must make a CON x3% roll not to cough and be blinded by tears for a round.  Alcoholics (incipient or otherwise) and the mad are strangely unaffected by the brew. Brown himself was tainted by exposure to the lloigor and this whisky carries some of that as well as trace alkaloids associated with hemlock - a part of Brown's recipe.

Those drinking three measures (or more) of Brown's Plaid experience unpleasant dreams of flight/falling and the presence of something reptilian.  They will also wake up 1d3 magic points lighter (or 1 Wisdom damage) for the experience.  Downing a whole bottle (apart from the potential liver damage) results in drunken visions of swirling reptilian shapes and puts the drinker into telepathic contact with a dreaming lloigor - an experience costing 1d6+1/2 Sanity for that night. In addition, the hangover is itself a thing of horror.

Macleish's Heid
This tribal artifact is an overmodeled skull moulded in the likeness of a Ponape tribal ancestor.  The skull is covered in layers of baked sago and palm pith to flesh it out.  These layers are dyed with white pigment then decorated with curved lines of red paint.  Disks of sea shells, snail shells and braided human hair completes the likeness.  The ancestor has widely-spaced staring eyes, a pronounced overbite and narrow jaw. The skull itself has not been exposed for scrutiny.  Doing so would be considered sacriligeous by the tribe and would likely damage the layering and decoration without extreme skill.

Named for noted anthropologist Josiah Raphael Macleish who never returned from a journey to Innsmouth and was finally removed from the missing persons records 15 years later.  The 'heid' was stolen from the antiquities cabinet at Miskatonic University after donation by the grieving Macleish family of Edinburgh, Scotland after Josiah's disappearance.  Stories of the 'daisent heid' are whispered in certain taprooms frequented by Edinburgh students familiar with exotic diseases or anthropology.  The story goes bad luck followed the 'daisent heid' - property is vandalised, rooms burgled and at least one woman abducted.

There are no game benefits for owning Macleish's Heid.  Those familiar with the Mythos or Deep One hybrids may recognise certain common traits to the latter (an Int x5 roll to gain +1% Cthulhu Mythos, only one roll possible).  The misfortune of those owning the 'daisent heid' is caused by various attempts to retrieve it by private collectors or Deep One hybrids.  These groups maneouver about each other and the current owner of the 'heid'.  The artifact is worth a pretty penny but worth a lot more to certain Ponape families who can't offer much beyond being able to guard ancient secrets and keep Deep Ones from hassling the former owner.


  1. Excellent disturbing stuff. The question become how to get the characters to drink some of the Brown's Plaid.

  2. I've never played in a '20s Cthulhu game where at least one bottle of Scotch was drunk to deal with the cosmic horror. It was a more civilised age.


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