Adding “Swamp Song” to Your Campaign

The latest edition of MoN includes the Peru Prologue to introduce Jackson Elias before his inevitable demise at the Chelsea Hotel. This addition helps form a bond between the investigators and their ill-fated quest-giver. Our Miskatonic Repository scenario, Swamp Song, aims to deepen this Peruvian connection and offer the investigators a chance to save Elias’ bacon at least once. The scenario contents also aim to foreshadow, provide resources, and lay some groundwork for future campaign events without altering the plot. Here, we intend to elaborate on our goals and provide some notes on integrating Swamp Song into your MoN campaign, even if you’ve already moved beyond New York!


Timing: The events of the scenario occur in May 1923. This is intentionally timed to coincide with the release of “The Hungry Dead,” as well as closely precede Elias’ departure to investigate the Carlyle expedition (May 25, 1923). At the scenario conclusion, consider adding cryptic remarks by Elias about “tying up some loose ends.” This will likely be the final time investigators see Jackson alive, so be certain to make it a memorable last hurrah. If players wish to tag along with Jackson, consider having him slip away in the wee hours or craftily switch travel plans (followed by an apologetic telegram). Alternatively, they can accompany Jackson to Europe and participate in “The Auction” as part of his Larkin investigations. 

Pulp Adjustments: If you intend to your campaign with a pulpier tone and wish to incorporate this Classic-default scenario consider some of the following adjustments:

  • Add ghoulish band members as “mooks” to be encountered in various locales, such as the cigar manufactury, tunnels, and cemetery
  • Increase the dangers of flooding in the tunnels and during any driving with use of Swim rolls, collapsing passages, live wires, or dangerous floating obstacles
  • Double the hit points for the Lord of Worms & Dirt and/or deploy some (or all) of the audience members as additional ooze puppets
  • Turn up the femme fatale volume on Irina
  • Increase the mind-altering effects of absinthe and black orchid fumes as a means to create more imagined foes
  • Bar fights! 

Local Adventures: To further enjoy the local color and distract from Jackson’s departure, allow the investigators to pursue investigations into the cursed Faucher’s and the ghouls, or visit Torne’s grim apartment. These explorations provide greater clarity about Torne’s research into Castro’s  Louisiana Cthulhu Cult and the reach of the Mythos in New Orleans. Consider drawing inspiration from scenarios in the Bayou Bundle, Secrets of New Orleans, or Tales of the Crescent City (for 6th ed.), if you don’t feel pressed for time. 

New York Chapter Contacts: The symposium is an excellent chance to introduce some contacts or persons of interest from York. This could include Harvard librarian, Miriam Atwright, vapid voodoo enthusiast Mordechai Lemming, or a debauched heiress in Erica Carlyle’s social circle. If planning an auction for Roger Carlyle’s tome collection, this would be a great place to establish an adversarial buyer. 

Cthulhu Connection: Through the course of MoN, investigators stumble upon Cthulhu idols, tomes, and cultists (Mr. Stanford, I presume?). After encountering Torne in costume, the players no longer need to feign ignorance or make a Cthulhu Mythos roll when they encounter the Sleeper of R’lyeh—they recognize him immediately from the crypt chamber encounter. Perhaps they discovered a script, journal, or news clipping while searching Torne’s apartment that details the mysterious swamp cult. Alternatively, Irina, or a veteran police inspector provides the disturbing historical background. Cults of Cthulhu is an excellent reference for creating this material if you wish. 

The Count still living large in his later years.

Patrons & Allies: Depending on the scenario’s events, the investigators may gain a patron in the form of Count Cazenave. His shared friendship with Jackson motivates him to provide resources in the search for answers during the main campaign. Perhaps he appears for the funeral or sends a telegram to Carlton Ramsey offering his support. While he lacks Erica Carlyle’s vast wealth, his global culinary connections and wide social network provide sources for backup investigators. Should they ingratiate themselves to Irina Martin, she potentially helps locate, translate, store, or understand Mythos tomes the group acquires. Based on a character from our own campaign, she also makes a great replacement investigator. If continuing further adventures in New Orleans, these two work well as recurrent NPCs for convenient adventure hooks. 

Valuable Tome: A useful bargaining chip and spell source in the scenario, L’anatomie Empyrée contains anatomic illustrations of various Mythos entities providing a reference manual for players when they encounter a strange entity. While the material provided within the tome can provide insight into various creatures, it also should be used to stimulate their fear through frightening details about attacks and powers. Consider requiring a nominal Sanity fee each time the terrible text is referenced. Additionally, this text offers a reasonable explanation for successful Cthulhu Mythos rolls about eldritch monsters.

Ghouls: Yes, they are definitely an over-utilized adversary in Call of Cthulhu adventures. We intentionally limited their direct involvement with the investigators for this reason. That said, the ghouls serve to subtly foreshadow the sidetrack scenario, The Derbyshire Horror. Instead of explicitly describing them as ghouls, refer to them as the cursed Fauchers, grave fiends, or loup-garou. There is no imperative to grant these creatures the classic ghoul physiognomy. That said, New Orleans is a definite hotbed for ghouls, and Crescent City Curiosities and Curses from Irina’s shop should contain some cryptic references to their existence.  L’anatomie Empyrée certainly contains an anatomic illustration of a ghoul, depicting the long limbs, weird facial features, and stomach contents revealing the consumption of grave flesh. Of course, if this creates too much international ghoul for your campaign, you could always choose to extend Swamp Song to include a Louisiana-based adaptation of The Derbyshire Horror involving a wealthy descendant of the Faucher line living near the bayou.

William of Auvergne conducting experiments for L’anatomie Empyrée.

Powerful Spell: Should the investigators gain access to L’anatomie Empyrée, they have the opportunity to learn Purify Flesh. It can be used during the adventure to save Torne from the Lord of Worms and Dirt, but also counteract curses and other bodily Mythos incursions. Other examples include the Vane Family curse in The Derbyshire Horror, the revenants in The Game Lodge…or even Hypatia Masters! Consider presenting the players with additional tempting opportunities to use the spell as the spell cost is high enough to create interesting player dilemmas. If investigators think to use it to save Hypatia Masters, consider raising the POW/CON costs even higher and extending the casting time. 

Door to Dreamlands: While this is not detailed in the scenario, consider using the soporific black orchid fumes as a gateway to the Dreamlands. If you wish to include the Dreamlands in your campaign, this provides a viable access point. The association between ghouls and the Dreamlands helps establish the legitimacy of this connection. It may be particularly useful if running or modifying the Harlem Unbound scenario “An Ode for the Lost,” which involves Jackson Elias. Perhaps Huston’s Sand Bat cultists dose the investigators with black orchid petals during their Australian adventures bringing them to his realm of power, as discussed in other posts.  

A bit of context for your investigators.

Flashback Scenario: Finally, if you’re already well underway in your campaign, it doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance to run “Swamp Song” as part of your adventures. It easily works as a flashback scenario. Thanks to the combination of excessive drink and black orchid fumes, the investigators potentially forget about their harrowing search for Jackson until something spurs their memory, such as a Cthulhu statue, a ghoul encounter, or a poignant memory of their lost friend. Perhaps it simply occurs as a single investigator’s dream or recollection. This approach also helps to introduce one or more new investigators to your campaign. This works quite nicely after a TPK or rotation of regular players out of the group. 

Ideally, Swamp Song aims to add depth to your MoN campaign without significantly increasing the amount of playtime. Freely modify the content, events, and outcomes to suit the goals and tone of your campaign. Above all, let your investigators relish their short time with dear Jackson before he’s gone. Don’t hesitate to pull punches this time around. As you well know, it only gets harder from here on out.