Lost In Smoke

A Trail of Cthulhu scenario hook

A man of means acquainted with your group’s dilettante character, or a likewise well-connected investigator, seeks help with his son. Widowed as a young man when his wife Cora died of pneumonia, Adrian Heppel has become listless, distracted, and barely able to fulfill his duties at the State Department. His father, Abraham, insists that he recovered from his loss, even becoming affianced to another woman. But about six months ago he relapsed into grief. Abraham found a box with occult symbols on it in his son’s room and fears that he has gotten into the sort of monkey business the PCs have proven themselves adept at smashing.

Investigation at first suggests that Adrian has begun to dabble in drugs. As the group peels back the layers of the mystery, they find him hooked on a peculiarly potent form of tobacco associated with the serpent mounds of Yig in Oklahoma. It has been infused with a substance allowing Adrian to commune with the spirit of his dear dead Cora. When he smokes it, she appears from the smoke, to speak soothing words from beyond the veil of death.

Adrian won’t identify his source, but as they look into the affair more deeply the group finds other highly-placed men in the government likewise hooked on the adulterated cigarettes’ spiritual balm. One uses it to vividly imagine himself in the garden he played in as a child, before his mother died. Another convinces himself that the brother whose death he caused in a drunken automobile accident now forgives him. All willingly risk ruination to keep the smoky visitations coming.

What sorcerer is behind this, and what grander scheme leads him to seek influence over young men occupying key positions in the federal government?

When the investigators draw too close, the smoky manifestations transform into threatening entities.

Another threat: the culprit exposes a PC to the smoke. Which team member stands to be beguiled by a phantom from a better past?


Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning 1930s horror roleplaying game by Kenneth Hite, produced under license from Chaosium. Whether you’re playing in two-fisted Pulp mode or sanity-shredding Purist mode, its GUMSHOE system enables taut, thrilling investigative adventures where the challenge is in interpreting clues, not finding them. Purchase Trail of Cthulhu and its many supplements and adventures in the Pelgrane Shop.

One Response to “Lost In Smoke”

  1. […] The basic idea – Mythos-infused tobacco causing destructively-seductive ghostly apparations and visions – is pretty good all on its own.  But you could also tie it in with the black lotus and whatnot found in the Conan novels, and thus bring in the Hyborian Age stuff that Trail of Cthulhu, I think, would find rather entertainingly useful.  I mean, there’s some of it in there now, obviously, because Lovecraft and Howard were friends and pen-pals.  But you could really ratchet up the Howard for a Pulp game. […]

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