In addition to the piles of kharisiri treasure hidden underneath the ancient pyramid, your Investigators have the chance to acquire a potentially valuable Mythos artifact during the Peruvian Prologue. If your players can wrest the Golden Mirror from de Mendoza, they will have access to a useful foreshadowing device.
The Golden Mirror (Peru, p.64 & Artifacts, p.649) takes the form of a six-inch square solid gold Mask following a design similar to other artifacts found at Tiwanaku excavation sites. While the front depicts a face constructed of the typical Tiwanaku raised-block geometrical designs, the back reveals a highly polished, reflective surface that functions as a mirror. And a conduit to access dark visions and Nyarlathotep himself.
Despite serving as an aid to Larkin, the undead conquistador uses the ancient device to receive directions from his true master, The Father of Maggots. Per the campaign book, the Golden Mirror can be found under the mattress in de Mendoza’s hotel room. In our first campaign incorporating the Prologue, the players discovered the Mirror under the mattress. Should the Investigators never reach de Mendoza’s room or fail to overturn his mattress, they could potentially miss this artifact. This conclusion, though, presupposes that de Mendoza will not take the mirror with him as he travels from Lima to other locales. Here are some alternatives to consider:
In our most recent campaign, the Investigators avoided de Mendoza’s room fearing discovery. After the players abandoned Larkin and de Mendoza in Lima, the mirror traveled along with the alpha kharisiri to the final pyramid confrontation. Should your players defeat de Mendoza at any point prior to the climax, you could place the Golden Mirror on his soon-to-be reanimated body. Alternatively, if Peruvian authorities take in de Mendoza, they may hand over the mirror to the PCs or Professor Sanchez. If you players don’t regularly operate in “loot the corpse” mode, you could have Larkin recover the Mask from a defeated de Mendoza under the direction of Nyarlathotep.
Despite the Golden Mirror following our Investigators to the pyramid showdown, they overlooked the artifact on de Mendoza while gleefully kicking his defeated form into the fat pit. If determined to allow your players to find this, you could place the Golden Mirror in the kharisiri trove during the distribution of your team’s well-earned plunder. We chose to leave the dangerous artifact on the bottom of the putrid pit, potentially lost for all time and silencing a communication channel for the Dark One.
Once the players have the Mirror in hand, you face the question of how to deploy it. In considering this we wondered how de Mendoza came into possession of such a powerful artifact himself. We imagined him discovering the Golden Mirror in the Father of Maggots abode and becoming drawn to it. Perhaps de Mendoza picked the mask up amongst the ruins only to turn it over and discover its reflective surface, which revealed not the bedraggled face of a desperate conquistador, but instead the image of a rich and powerful, young man unburdened by years of searching for gold in a foreign land. Not just a simple mirror, the artifact reveals the bearer’s basest desires, catering to their shallowest aspirations. A player holding the artifact may discover the same.
If player’s recoil with fear or concern when viewing the artifact, then you can consider them failing the “examining it for more than a few seconds.” However, if they are fascinated by what they see, you can call for the POW roll. If they fail, their own tantalizing image can captivate them. If they pass, they can receive one or a series of visions.
Like many other aspects of the Peru Prologue, the Golden Mirror offers up some prime foreshadowing material, and it’s up to you to determine how you would like to reveal information. You may choose to deploy the artifact as an overwhelming display of visions, describing all the scenes in the campaign book, as well as adding your own.
Alternatively, you may depict one or two scenes related to the Peru Prologue, including the Father of Maggots and possibly an impending kharisiri attack that the players or authorities may shortly uncover. You may choose to provide an additional vignette from the New York chapter (or your next scenario) to provide further foreshadowing. Presented in this fashion, the players may attempt to use the Mirror as a scrying tool as they move throughout the campaign. If deployed in this fashion you can provide gruesome visions from the first-person standpoint of Nyarlathotep’s most devoted adherents, such as M’Dari, Gavigan, and al-Shakti during sacrifices or even their routine lives without revealing their identities.
Should your players access the arcane device in this manner, consider calling for SAN checks at some point, as well as keeping in mind that any extreme success results in contact with Nyaralathotep, which can have any number of impactful implications of your choosing. Perhaps one of the players develops an obsession with the mirror and refuses to turn it over.
Finally, consider how you want to employ the Mirror outside of Peru. If the players failed to recover it or recognize its power, perhaps it ends up in Professor Sanchez’s care, where it corrupts him, creating a new agent for the Father of Maggots for continued or return Peruvian adventures. It’s possible the players honorably relinquished the artifact to Sanchez (“It belongs in a museum!”). If the Golden Mirror follows them into the Main Campaign, you may consider it a valuable item pursued by cultists. Whatever approach you take, this little six-inch hunk of polished gold can imbue some great lingering Peruvian flavor to your campaign.