The noisome London fog offers the perfect cover for Edward Gavigan’s Mythos invisible pets, the gish-rla (pp. 206-207). These viscous vapors referred to throughout the England chapter as “The Thing in the Fog” provide the Keeper with an atmospheric (pun intended – Ed.) threat to your Investigators on the dark streets of London. The Thing may be employed as an alternative to your routine cultist encounters, particularly after your Investigators have irritated or threatened Gavigan. The nature of the Thing precludes normal combat solutions, instead offering a deadly puzzle for your players to solve. We will discuss a variety of ways to present this other-worldly monster with consideration to incorporating it throughout the chapter.
Before diving into applications of the fog-spawn, we can consider its origins. A studied practitioner of dark magic and murder, we imagine Edward Gavigan also enjoys cultivating rare and strange plants, a vestige from his distant youth, when his controlling mother forced him to help her in the hothouse of his childhood home. This connection may be revealed during the encounter with Gavigan at the Penhew Foundation where he takes great care in watering his precious office plants during the Investigators’ visit.
The Campaign book suggests that Gavigan received the plants directly from the Black Pharaoh without explanation beyond “feed them blood.” As an alternative, perhaps Sir Aubrey or another Brotherhood member presented Gavigan with the metal vials emblazoned with the Elder Sign containing the gray-white seed-larva slime to grow the Things.
The nascent gish-rla originate from another plane, and, if not a direct gift from Nyarlathotep, our dimension may have been pollinated by the arrival of a larger extra-dimensional horror or cosmic debris. Regardless of the means of arrival, this invasive species finds human suffering to be an incredibly palatable delicacy. Recognizing their usefulness, Gavigan takes great delight in growing these monsters in his Secret Workroom at the Misr House. In his basement lair, the cult leader grows these spiny, diseased plants in small pots feeding them blood obtained through ritual sacrifices and cultist donors. Gavigan takes great care in nurturing these creatures, which prove quite delicate and relatively harmless in their larval form. If Investigators discover the fog-spawn plants in Gavigan’s workroom, they may also find the controlling spell, Quicken Fog Spawn (p. 636), written on a Hebrew scroll, which can also feature illustrations of plant and Thing to link the items. Depicting the fog-spawn “blooming” from Gavigan’s plants can also serve to draw the connection.
Once the fog-spawn grows to an adequate size it can blossom releasing its single vile fruit, the Thing in the Fog. At this stage, the creature requires more substantial sustenance beyond blood, and it begins to demonstrate the ability to phase through substances and alter its shape freely. To contain his pet, Gavigan may have to employ heavily warded boxes opaque bottles, which can also protect the Thing from lethal light sources. Perhaps the opening of the box executes the Quicken Fog Spawn spell but requires a supplemental incantation to control the creature. Unwitting individuals opening the warded box wrapped with arcane symbols and Classical Hebrew (or Arabic) will have unleashed an autonomous gish-rla.
The Quicken Fog-Spawn spell suggests that the spell must be cast within dense fog, which can limit the use of the Thing to outdoor locations; however, the England chapter suggests that the Thing attacks only in places or times of darkness. We prefer this broader application, as the Thing can be allowed to manifest in any light-poor environment, including fog, dark rooms, tunnels and smoke. In the absence of fog, it may appear as a faint gray vapor or shimmer with slim and sinuous rope-like appendages. As it comes closer to the Investigators they will appreciate the acrid smell of burning hair.
How much and how often Gavigan must feed the Thing can be decided by the Keeper, particularly if your curious Investigators choose to raise their own Spawn. Perhaps Gavigan will offer up victims during cult rituals, particularly Lesser Rites, and you may opt to incorporate the Thing as a prelude to the more terrifying Heralds during Grand Rites. In our campaign, the Fog Spawn attacked the Investigators in the Misr House basement after they had interrupted the rites and defeated the cultists. This allowed us to include a final scare at the Misr House before the England chapter closed.
We should also consider how many of the Things Gavigan has at his disposal. Does he have one that he keeps in his immediate possession at all times? Or does he stash them in various locations as weapons or traps to be deployed against his enemies and rivals. The latter allows us to incorporate the Thing in the Fog into other locales, such as his Penhew Foundation Secret Room or his Mayfair Flat. The presence of the Fog in these locations can provide some foreshadowing and clues to escaping this deadly creature. Investigators may encounter the Thing in the Fog in a locked containment case in the basement. Depending on the presence of light, the creature may dissipate immediately, dodge away from flashlight beams or retreat to a dark corner. The Mayfair Flat as described in the campaign book offers a fairly bland scene lacking any campaign clues or Mythos encounters. Employing the Thing in The Fog at the flat as a trap set for would-be burglars offers an exciting Mythos encounter where flashlights may already be in play. Similarly, Gavigan could install his gish-rla in his office safe after tempting Investigators during their visit. In any of these encounters, the Thing in the Fog could escape and retreat to the dark corners of London waiting to attack the Investigators while feeding on the locals.
If Gavigan decides to target the Investigators directly with the Thing, he may open his warded box or cast the spell at a preferred nearby location. Perhaps allowing it to escape from the window of his car or the Penhew Foundation. The campaign book suggests that the spell caster must remain within 200 feet to maintain control, but you may want to take liberties to allow Gavigan to escape unnoticed. Gavigan may either command his pet to attack and return its box, allowing him to flee the scene and potentially leave a clue for survivors, or take the valuable box with him to avoid any detection. Alternatively, a cult underling (potentially disposable or needing elimination) can deliver the box to the vicinity of (or directly to) the Investigators. A group of cultists could lurk nearby to mop up any survivors.
Should your Investigators take a strong interest in the fog-spawn, you may consider introducing the optional sidetrack, The Scottish Horror (p. 207). If they pursue this line of inquiry, you will need to imagine the reason for Alan McGann’s death. Perhaps he was a troublesome rival in Egyptology, or he denied the Penhew Foundation a critical permit for work in Egypt. Maybe he refused to sell Gavigan his rare Mythos Tome (we like the Liber Ivonis for this). Could McGann be an ex-Brotherhood cultist planning to expose their secrets? This sidetrack offers many potential opportunities that can be tied to the main campaign. Or this fog-spawn could be one of his escaped pets from his early spell experimenting that has now grown horribly large and may be evolving into another gruesome form.
The Thing in the Fog provides a unique sinister element that pairs well with the background environment in London. This Mythos horror also presents an opportunity to provide additional depth to Gavigan, which can be revealed throughout various scenes in the chapter. With certain groups, this deadly creature could even serve as a useful tool or entertaining distraction
How did you employ the Thing in the Fog in your campaign? Did you make any alterations to its presentation or the invoking spell?