He Wants His Books Back

A Trail of Cthulhu scenario hook

When Georgian-era occultist Samuel Chasable first set about assembling his library, he could not help but think of the fate of John Dee’s book collection. Notoriously, the brother-in-law of the Elizabethan seer and statesman let Dee’s volumes fall into the hands of rivals while the great man journeyed to the continent. Chasable resolved that this would never happen to him. He learned, as his very first spell, a mere cantrip, a trifle, that would alert him should any unauthorized person lay a pilfering hand on any of his precious books.

As did many who went before him, Chasable soon understood that more momentous magics required pacts with otherworldly entities. Tipped into his copy of the Testament of Carnamagos, he found a spell to contact the Crawling Man. Assuming this to be a demon, he strode to a suitably wooded portion of his estate to perform the summoning. The Crawling Man turned out to be a figure of sticks and leaves that moved about in a disquieting quadrupedal fashion. In a flash of insight, Chasable saw that this being was far more than a demon, but was rather a god capable of taking a thousand forms. So he asked the being to make him physically immortal: impervious to all harm, including the effects of aging. The Crawling Man agreed; he would have need of Chasable in a future he considered imminent, but a mortal might not.

After many sinister exploits, in which Chasable shrugged off assassins’ bullets (pictured) and walked unharmed across the floor of the Mediterranean, the Crawling Man came to him and said it was time for him to enter a period of quiet repose. Though reluctant to withdraw from mortal affairs, Chasable could hardly refuse. The Crawling Man gave him time to sort his affairs. Wishing to retain access to his books when he returned from indefinite slumber, Chasable had a lead vault constructed and buried beneath his London manor. He made a similar underground chamber built for his physical form, which would fall into suspended animation at his Somerset estate.

That’s the past…

In 1936, extension of the London Underground’s Northern line leads workers straight to Chasable’s book vault. Perhaps fortunately, the diggers do not turn over the contents over to the British Library. Instead money changes hands and the books make their way to a specialist dealer for profitable disposal.

If you’re playing a Bookhounds of London game, that bookseller might be a PC.

Regardless of who starts to sell the books, the cantrip against book theft wakes Chasable ahead of schedule. He busts from his vault and resolves to take sorcerous vengeance on anyone interfering with his books. Then, assuming the Crawling Man takes a while to catch on, he reckons he might as well see what further mischief he might get up to in this new era…

Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning 1930s horror roleplaying game by Kenneth Hite, produced under license from Chaosium. Whether you’re playing in two-fisted Pulp mode or sanity-shredding Purist mode, its GUMSHOE system enables taut, thrilling investigative adventures where the challenge is in interpreting clues, not finding them. Purchase Trail of Cthulhu and its many supplements and adventures in the Pelgrane Shop.

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