Some classic Cthulhu adventures kicked off with attendance at auctions with Unspeakable Objet D’art. These days you see this sort of thing all the time in episodes of Storage Hunters.
While the setup might be familiar, the principle remains a handy one. Want your investigators to get involved? Well, what better way than a face off with cultists across a crowded auction room? Or, place the suspected Artefact of Untold Power and Doom somewhere out of reach. Throw the characters a bone with news reports, YouTube footage or strange Tweets.
What items might cause enough of a fuss to get The Laundry involved? Well, I suggest you consult Targets of Acquisition.
The Targets of Acquisition PDF supplement for Cubicle 7’s The Laundry series runs to 24-pages. The PDF has a table of contents, credits and a cover showing an image of all nine artefacts. The PDF contains a two-page summary on each item with a picture. The back of the supplement contains a GM Only section with extra information.
For reference, The Laundry RPG brings to life the very British occult intelligence agency described in the ongoing series of books by Charles Stross. As if the threat of the Elder Gods weren’t enough, inter-office politics, stationery audits, and annual HR reviews loom large. Head down to the files in the basement and pick up a copy of The Atrocity Archives if you haven’t done already…
The employees of Capital Laundry Services have a lot on their plate. Most have more paperwork than any sane person would care for. HR always seem to be pressing for submission of that Personal Development Plan. Between internal politics and priority missions, it seems only fair you dangle rumour of an artefact or two. Just to keep them on their toes. They’ll soon appreciate that rich sludge in the bottom of the percolator carafe.
Targets of Acquisition lists nine items currently high on the priorities of The Laundry to acquire. Each item has a two-page overview, presented in the style of file pages and an appended photograph. Every entry provides a description of the artefact’s physical appearance, some historical context and any intel on whereabouts.
From the perspective of your game, you could use these items in many ways. Each entry outlines what The Laundry knows and presumes based on available intel. Quite often this information can be vague enough to leave possibilities wide open. A GM can hand the two-page background sheet over to their players as-is. Leave the players to worry about the practicalities and work up their own theories.
The range of items varies from the subtle to the more outright dangerous. In the hands of the misguided or mad, artefacts can create all kinds of chaotic wrong.
Each item has a codename, per standard protocols, and various cross-references to other items, operations, departments, and agencies. Some files state known possessors, others have fallen through the cracks. Whatever the file says, intel gets old. Just because someone held the item last month, doesn’t mean the Black Chamber or agents of BLUE HADES don’t have it now. Or, the characters might run up against said agencies – along with scattered cultists and collectors – when they go looking.
The nature of The Laundry means that these items can be a primary focus or just a backdrop. Management value employees pursuing extra-curricular activities. Why not add one of these files to the team’s project backlog?
The supplement keeps the game mechanics to the Gamemaster’s Notes. The Notes present about a third-of-a-page brief on each artefact. The detail doesn’t dictate the truth, leaving the finer details to the individual GM. Every section notes the likely true potential of items; how agents might find out more; what they need to use them; and, further complications.
As a short supplement for The Laundry RPG, Targets of Acquisition drops a slim manila folder of potential on to an already groaning desk. Each item can form the basis of a mission. Or, they might be a nagging side project the Head of Operations persists in mithering the team about.
In a game that can hinge on the quality of it’s hand-outs, these represent a welcome addition. I have to admit a slight disappointment that the pictures attached don’t always match the description precisely and they each appear suspended in a white void – but that’s just a minor niggle.
In form, this supplement sort of provides a new batch of magic items. Except each artefact has the potential to tear open the fabric of reality. You might just bring the Doomsday Clock one second closer to CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN. Actually, forget about +1 vorpal blades and satchels of holding; these are the real deal and should keep your agents awake at night…
Review based on an item acquired through standard retail channels. Targets of Acquisition, Geoff Skellams, Cubicle 7. Available from RPGNow for $2.99.