The Derelict is a one shot scenario for a modern era setting of the Call of Cthulhu RPG created by Sandy Peterson for a convention and then bundled inside the book “Peterson’s Abominations” that collects a number of his scenarios together.
The setting follows a crew that find a ship floating abandoned in the middle of the ocean and their efforts to investigate it. The NPC’s that are created for the game are crew and passengers aboard a luxury yacht but I wanted to change that setting and there’s a couple of mentions of a tug crew.
I prefered that idea, so ended up making my own NPC’s so I could run the story as if they’re a salvage boat crew who are struggling for cash and need to raise some serious money quickly. I let the players pick from the characters but keep the Captain and First mate as NPC’s who I can use to push the story along.
I’ve mentioned my setup a few times in the past and shared the character sheets before, so I thought I’d put them here to make it easy to find in the future.
The sheets are below for anyone to download and below that is my notes on how I run the story. Each one doesn’t have a name or gender specified, I allow the players to pick those. Please don’t read any further if you ever want to play the Derelict as there are possible spoilers.
Background and setup
Now we get to the fun bit, the story. I made a few changes in the setup in the book but feel free to ignore these and go with your own version.
In mine, the captain is struggling to raise enough money to keep the boat. He wants his son (the first mate) to take over the boat and retire soon, this gives him a lot of motivation to try and salvage the derelict.
Each of the PC’s also has a secret on their sheet that allows the players to lean into the characters as much as they want. Some have a good reason to either try to salvage the ship or to escape.
Also, take note of who has silver and who doesn’t, that is important.
When they first get to the derelict, I have the captain go along with everyone who wants to goes aboard. The captain, although slightly lame in one leg, feels he should go as part of the boarding party. When the time is right, I have an explosion aboard the salvage boat, killing the first mate.
This is done by the… you know what on the derelict going onto the salvage boat and trying to kill the first mate.
Obviously if someone stayed aboard the salvage boat, they need to not die at this point or else its a short game for them. When I’ve had this problem, I’ve had them see the first mate waving a shotgun around from the other side of the boat, then get thrown into the water when theres an explosion. I have the first mate shoot a gas bottle which causes a massive amount of damage to the boat and killing him.
This has two effects. Firstly it should drive the captain insane with grief, meaning he can become another problem for the group to deal with. Secondly, it means their way of escape is now cut off as the salvage boat is now dead in the water if not sinking.
Twice I’ve had the captain turn on the crew, blaming them for the death of his son but he is an easy thing for the group to deal with. He can be good distraction, building up the tension until he is killed right infront of the others by the… you know what.
From here on in its down to the players to see how they survive.
Have fun, send me any questions if you want and let me know if you get some use out of these.