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Need Help on Converting a Colour Out of Space

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  • Need Help on Converting a Colour Out of Space

    I would like to use a variation of HP Lovecraft's Colour Out of Space as a Wyrm foe in an upcoming game. I am looking for suggestions on how to do it. (I have ideas of my own, but I don't want it to be a case that the PCs have to read my mind and figure out exactly the solution I would use).

    For those who don't know, a Colour Out of Space is an incorporeal energy creature from out of space. It arrives on Earth as a meteorite (which might be some kind of egg) that remains hot, gradually shrinks, and if broken into merely releases some kind of non-physical color globes that eventually disappear. The Colour then hides underground, preferring dark and wet locations like wells, and as it grows, the Earth life in the vicinity (both animal and plant) at first seem to grow or be energized, but then mutates and later wilts and becomes listless before dying. So it obviously feeds on life. Once the Colour becomes strong enough, it leaves Earth and returns to space. It is essentially a kind of radiation that is also a "life" form.

    In roleplaying games, Colours Out of Space are notoriously difficult to fight because they aren't physical beings composed of matter. You can't punch it or shoot it. Usually PCs end up defeating it only by using some kind of electromagnetism or by a magical ward that seals it off. Since these are horror roleplaying games, the objective sometimes is mere survival until the Colour ends up leaving as opposed to heroic adventurers who kill it and take its treasure.

    In terms of flavor text, I got this covered. It's a deep umbral invader that feeds of Gaian life energies, etc. Heavily Wyrm tainted, and it is obvious it needs to be destroyed, banished, etc. I think the concept makes for a good opponent of the Garou. One possibility is that it "eats" Gnosis/spiritual energy, and is thus a danger to spirits - active or slumbering.

    What I need help on is good game ideas by which Garou can defeat it, especially any random pack of PCs as opposed to specific character builds who pick the right Gifts. But I don't want the Garou to be able to fight it by normal physical combat. In the physical world, you can't punch it or shoot it. But neither should the Garou be able to do it in the Umbra either. In the umbra, even fire elementals, air elements, and electrical elements can be clawed and bitten, because they are made of ephemera, and the Garou being of half matter and half spirit can physically interact and punch them even though they can't punch air, fire, or electricity in the Realm. So while I am not adverse it to being present in the Penumbra, I don't want it to be any more material there than in the Realm.

    So what are the options to defeat it? Or to word it another way, if this is the scenario presented to you by the GM, what kind of things would you try in order to defeat it as a PC with your pack?

    I don't want solutions that involve specific character builds. I am looking for general approach that could be tried by packs of PCs of various auspices, tribes,and ranks (but it is OK to say the key game mechanics is Gnosis or Willpower or Occult as those can be developed by any Garou of any splat). I am also looking to avoid magic bulllets like perform the Rite of Cleansing and problem is solved (although I don't mind a scenario where the use of a Rite would be one part in a plan to defeat the menace). I would like something that takes effort and time to do, but which a pack can do it on its own as opposed to finding NPCs to help. The ideal resolution would still require some kind of risk, opposed roles, etc.

    My players are good and often ingenious at finding solutions, but sometimes they get stumped and look for me to give them some kind of lead to build on. I want to have some potential ideas in mind that I can suggest something and point them down a possible solution while still having them to do the work.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas.

  • #2
    Interesting idea; always fun to present Gaia's murder machines with a conundrum they can't simply claw to bits... which is likely to be their first reaction, given that it stinks of the enemy.

    After initial exposure to the weirdness, the Garou may grasp what a threat this thing is. A human might not, but savvy Garou can discern that whatever is going on it is a travesty of the Wyrm.

    Given that they can't destroy the color immediately, they may come to the conclusion that the area has to be contained until they can figure out what the hell is going on. This could present secondary challenges: moving creatures or humans to safety, for example. Perhaps the color's arrival was predicted or anticipated by a Pentex-backed group that wants to seize control of it, which would be Very Bad.

    Once the Garou are able to gain control of the immediate area, they can start to observe the color's nefarious influence. In the story this took awhile as everything eventually mutated and died... you could have the process take days or seasons, whatever works. The Garou, like the Arkham scientists, make some discoveries about the color's bizarre properties, but they also have mystical resources to draw upon.

    If the Garou were unable to restrict access to the area (or just plumb didn't think of it!) perhaps they now have to start culling the people or animals that have been tainted by the color...

    Originally posted by H. P. Lovecraft
    ...whatever demon hatchling is there, it must be tethered to something or else it would quickly spread. Is it fastened to the roots of those trees that claw the air? One of the current Arkham tales is about fat oaks that shine and move as they ought not to do at night.
    The above passage makes me wonder if there might be a tainted object or plant that plays host to the blight. You could make it difficult to find, perhaps buried (like in the well) or spread across a wide area. Maybe the tainted thing is a person or animal, rather than a tree.

    Perhaps after studying the contaminated material and finding that the color itself cannot be readily destroyed, the Garou could remove the blighted host object (whether some sort of dying being or the meteor itself) and journey back into space via the umbra and cast it back where it belongs. This solution may be proposed by a totem (perhaps Owl or Uktena remember something like this happening before!) or perhaps the tortured earth spirits beg for the Garou to rid them of the agonizing thing.

    Either way, this task should be arduous; after earlier exposure to the color our heroes may already be drained and weary. The inborn constitution of the Garou prevents them from succumbing to gray wasting death, but even their half-wolf minds start to fray under the thing's influence.

    I like the idea of the pack warring with hallucinations, fighting the temptation to fall prey to the color and unite with it.

    Wet and cold... but it burns. It burns!


    • #3
      You brought up a lot of issues that correspond to why I want to run this encounter. It's a good challenge, requires players to think, and there lots of cool flavor text and atmosphere that can be used to unsettle the PCs.

      Originally posted by The Laughing Stranger View Post
      The above passage makes me wonder if there might be a tainted object or plant that plays host to the blight. You could make it difficult to find, perhaps buried (like in the well) or spread across a wide area. Maybe the tainted thing is a person or animal, rather than a tree.

      Perhaps after studying the contaminated material and finding that the color itself cannot be readily destroyed, the Garou could remove the blighted host object (whether some sort of dying being or the meteor itself) and journey back into space via the umbra and cast it back where it belongs.
      I think the idea has some merit, but there would need to be lots of complications. Of course, assuming the Garou find its location and attempt to remove it, I think I'd treat it like a source of radiation and have them soak it while it is in their presence as they attempt to travel to the Atherial Reaches and eventually an Anchorhead to return it to the Deep Umbra. Not sure if that is practical, but PCs might find a way to "shield" it so they don't get hurt.. I would also want the Colour to have some kind of active defense before the Garou could safely recover it. If we go by Lovecraft's story, only a larval form of the being could be captured so - mature members just seem to be completely insubstantial (but they also leave to return to the cosmos).

      I'd at least let the players explore this and even succeed as long as it doesn't seem too simple and has the possibility of failure. I think there's other possible solutions as well so I'm hoping others contribute. Thanks for your ideas.


      • #4
        My Werewolf Mechanics are rusty, but there are a few thoughts that come to mind

        A Pack would normally go into the Umbra to fight a Spirit that is causing the issue, I assume that you don't want to make it that easy.

        Possible Solutions
        - A (Modified) right of Cleansing. Maybe needing a powerful spirit's aid to boost cleansing the taint as there is an ... intelligence behind the taint. This would give a quest to find the right spirit and barter for their help.

        - Right of Binding... Hear me out - The Lovecraft Quote from The Laughing Stranger above would be a great lead to present for research, Get them to bind "A colour out of Space" into a landscape feature such as a large tree to stop it spreading; See if they'll do a little bad to stop a greater bad, it should offer a great role playing opportunity to the group.
        You can, of course, let them fight the Fomori tree to get out their RAGE. If you're nice. I'd make them deal with it for years, protecting this abomination from destruction or else letting an otherwise unstoppable force get out.


        • #5
          The idea that the taint/life drain of the Colour might lead to creation of fomori in the landscape could be a good complication. They fight the initial fomori tree first, and then discover the Colour as a source of the taint. Of course that still leaves the scenario of finding out how to defeat that.

          I don't think the Rite of Binding or Rite of Fetish work as you describe, but certainly there is some kind of rite of Bane Tending that some Garou use (particularly the Uktena), and some inferior version of which might lead to a bad situation like you describe. The ST would have to develop how the PCs create/research/discover the rite or modify an existing rite, but that might be a fun thing for the PCs to undertake.


          • #6
            I've got to say I love this idea as much as I love the original Lovecraft story! I'd definitely have the color feed on gnosis as its source of nourishment, almost like it's a vampire of spirit-energy. If I recall from the original story, it isn't necessarily evil, and seems to prefer not to consume or attack more sentient beings, but its need to feed causes decay and destruction to spread around it, so the Garou will definitely have to get rid of it. You might even like to give its presence secondary effects, such as fairy lights going out when they get close to it. I also like the idea of the color being "anchored" to a physical object while it develops from larva towards maturity, and a blighted tree would be a really good way to present this. It would also give the pack a way to start forming a strategy to get rid of it, although I'd suggest that getting rid of the "anchor" doesn't kill the color, but forces it to find a different anchor before it can resume its feeding and growth. If, over time, the pack, local spirits, etc., can't figure a way to kill or get rid of the thing, it's going to reach maturity and leave of its own accord. So keep that in mind as an optional, rather unsettling, resolution to the "problem." It can be good for a storyteller to keep his players humble by showing them things they aren't able to defeat, and this would be a way to do so without killing them.

            Also keep in mind that if any of your players have read any Lovecraft, they're likely to guess what the thing is if they discover it when it first lands. If you're worried about the temptation of meta-gaming, you may want to have the color already dug in underground, attached to its anchor, sucking the life out of its little "blasted heath," with the meteorite already removed and stored in a geology lab, before the pack shows up.


            • #7
              This is interesting! I would have it its too abstract and they don't know how to fight it, I mean Maybe Nuking the whole area would work, but maybe it doesn't. So I would have it hinge on a specific right, like that supped Right of Cleansing that makes a Rain of Cleansing, combined with Uktena Banetender like rite to bind the colour back into the Meteorite or maybe they split and you need to bind different splinters into Meteor Fragments so they have to hunt each Globual down. Maybe they start tainting/spawning spirits or converting essence into emanations. So have the problem be first identifying the problem. Finding any sort of old story that encountered a similar situation, or finding an Enigmatic spirit that would know of them in a quest. And return with the info and try to quarantine the problem, break its back, and then try to make sure you bind each individual piece.

              You could have some sort of cultist influenced by mad dreams after seeing them, or even a Cult is what summoned/predicted the Meteor. The madman, since no one knows he even is a thing, could cause a lot of trouble on the downlow, maybe some of it was smuggled out. Maybe a University confiscated the Meteor and is studying it. Maybe the taint from the Colour doesn't so easily cleanse off of folks, and if your kinfolk or a whole town of normies are infected what if the only solution is to burn the infection out?

              It is a time for great deeds!


              • #8
                I like the idea of trying to research old lore and even using an Enigmatic spirit to help with that. However, I want to avoid any "magic bullet" in the form of a rite that destroys, traps, or banishes the Colour, because I see the Colour less as an one off event, and more as something that periodically happens around the globe where different packs of Garou have to deal with it. Having a rite that quickly deals with the problem will eliminate much of the menace this entity should have. Every time it shows up, it should be a big deal with risks for any Garou who deal with it.

                Rites do take 10 minutes per level to cast, so it might be a situation where a rite (which requires minimum three Garou anyway to perform) could be used while the Colour is able to act during that time, so the rite participants can be attacked, or need help from other Garou to hold it off. Combined with a sufficiently high difficulty, and a certain number of successes to fully eliminate the threat, a rite would not be a magic bullet, and the rite participants would still need to be protected anyway. (It might be that one success temporarily halts the threat of the Colour so it can't feed but is still immune to physical attacks, two successes allows the Colour to be attacked in the Umbra as if it were a normal spirit for a little while (leading to a traditional fight), and three or more successes might force it from the realm into solely the spirit world, eliminating its threat for the time being and allowing the Garou to destroy it or physically remove it if they can go to the Aetherial Realm or summon a spirit like a Lune who can do it for them).

                Of course, there's the problem of how do the Garou protect the rite participants during the ritual. Just taking damage and trying to soak during that time doesn't seem like much fun. Maybe something that isn't physically based, but like an opposed Gnosis or Willpower roll combined with spending one's temporary points to "ward" them.

                Some of the complications mentioned (PENTEX shows up to try to take it with them, a University collects the meteror, it infects a whole town) is why I want it to be more than a one and done type scenario where future arrivals can be easily defeated. I think there are various scenarios that can be done with it.


                • #9
                  Another thing is that even if we go down a route of researching/uncovering a brand new/ancient rite, or using a variant of an existing one (and both should be worth Wisdom renown to who does it), that should take a while. And while that is happening the Colour is still out there as a menace. That might be good background for a long term plot, but PCs are likely to want to try something before they find the perfect solution. They'll want to take a stick and poke at it some times. So even if it doesn't do anything to really distract, delay, or stop the Colour, it might be good to have something in mind rather than them staring helplessly at the thing. (Although that can be fun too for a while to ratchet up the tension).

                  In this case it might be less than trying to harm the thing, then trying to alleviate or ameliorate its effects. A rite of cleansing may not be able to stop it, but perhaps if you can remove people or animals (or even transplant certain plants), you can do the Rite of Cleansing to eliminate the lethargy/acceptance that causes people to remain there and allow themselves to be fed on.

                  Or perhaps as another poster suggested, the Colour sometimes create fomori, and the Garou have to eliminate that threat in the meantime.