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Friday, October 25, 2019

The Volkov Institute

The History of the Institute

The Volkov Institute is a top secret international organization founded in the early 20th century to investigate, contain, and eliminate supernatural phenomena. It is named after the little known scientist, Dr. Ivan Volkov, a Russian immigrant to England, who first conclusively proved the existence of other planes of existence in 1887, through a device later called the Volkov Resonator. The first test run went fine, with Volkov and his machine disappearing and reappearing a few minutes later with a violet glow. Volkov claimed to have been in a supernaturally beautiful meadow, full of flowers with "alien colors" and wonderful scents. A few months later, Volkov presented his invention to the Royal Society, and had prepared a demonstration. He did not survive.


(From 1986's From Beyond)

Dr. Volkov, upon describing what his invention did, was met with disbelief and mockery. He had anticipated this, and so asked for a volunteer from the audience to join him on a journey to another plane. An elderly professor, one Alfred Wimberly, raised his hand, and so Dr. Volkov and Dr. Wimberly touched the machine as it was activated, disappearing in a blaze of strange violet light. The machine didn't reappear for 31 years. In 1918, nearly 20 miles away from the original demonstration, Volkov, Wimberly, and the Resonator reappeared in the middle of a poor family's home. Wimberly rematerialized halfway through a wall, and died after a few seconds. Volkov survived the reappearance, but was horribly traumatized by his experience, often repeating phrases such as "It is creeping in the colors and lurking in the light" and "Its eyes are empty its bones are brittle and yet it sees and leaps across the thistles". He died 48 hours after he rematerialized, and an autopsy showed that the cause of death was spontaneous total organ failure, though no medical explanation for this failure would ever be attained.

After World War 1, a secret meeting of the league of nations occurred, with representatives from various nations discussing numerous anomalous events and mysteries which plagued their country, including the mysterious case of Dr. Ivan Volkov. Deciding it would be best if there was international cooperation towards the investigation and containment of such things, the council founded the Volkov Institute a year later in 1919.

Fast forward to today...

You are agents of the Volkov Institute. According to the rest of the world, you are dead, your deaths faked by your respective governments and all traces of your existence wiped clean. In some circumstances, you may have even undergone cosmetic surgery to completely erase your former identity. You have sworn to defend humanity from the things that go bump in the night, the things which crawl just outside the thin walls of our reality.

You are nobody. You are the only thing standing between our world and extinction.

The Planes of Existence

What Dr. Volkov discovered in the 1880s was that all matter in the universe seemed to emit an odd sort of signal, detectable through complex instruments. Strangely, all matter emitted this signal at the same frequency, which seemed unusual to the doctor given the extreme variation of such materials. Volkov wondered what would happen if this frequency was raised or lowered, and began experimenting to create a device that would do just that. When he first tested what would someday be known as a Volkov Resonator, he was disappointed, as block of lead he used simply seemed to vanish into thin air, along with the machine. He presumed that it had simply been disintegrated, but only a few seconds later, the machine and the lead returned. It was soon apparent to Volkov that the matter was not destroyed, but moved to a state where he could no longer observe it.

All matter on a plane exists on a specific frequency. Matter of a one frequency cannot interact with matter on another, allowing multiple worlds to coexist with one another, overlapping but never touching. However, it is possible to change frequencies, to travel across worlds, and this sometimes even occurs naturally through strange storms which cause natural frequencies to change. Through these odd events, beings from Outside can come to our Earth. Most are confused, some are angry, but most are simply hungry.


(From The Void)

Beings from other worlds that have been transported to our own begin to emit the same frequency of our own native matter, but there are faint irregularities in the signal that can be detected through a device known as a Baumann Reality Irregularity Detector, though most field agents simply call them Ghostfinders.

What The Institute Does

The Volkov Institute receives funding from almost every major country, and has access to a large pool of field operatives who, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, are either dead or never existed. There operatives are assigned into squads of about 4-6 members, and these squads are given assignments based on their capability and experience.

There are three main kinds of assignments: Investigation, Containment, and Extermination.

Investigation Assignments
In situations like this, the higher ups at the Institute don't know what is going on, and need data and information. These tend to be the most common form of assignments, and include things such as exploring a supposedly haunted location, attempting to discover the cause of a mysterious death, or responding to reports of a monster sighting.

Containment Assignments
Sometimes, an anomaly is too hard to permanently remove, or too useful to simply get rid of, and so containment is the only logical solution. In assignments like this, the agents are sent to contain the anomalous activity. This would include things like acquiring and locking up a cursed doll, capturing a monster, or making sure that an otherworldly location is blocked off.

Extermination Assignments
If a situation is free from potential civilian casualties, and the need to be discreet is no longer necessary, the Institute sends in extermination teams. Heavily armed, these units are sent in to destroy whatever anomaly they encounter.

Standard Equipment For Field Agents

Field agents are typically equipped with the following items.
  • A sidearm, typically a semi-automatic pistol of some kind
  • False identification
  • An implanted disintegration device, set to go off automatically if the agent ever dies, or if it is attempted to be removed
  • A Baumann Reality Irregularity Detector
In addition, agents are typically given a decent amount of cash, and some form of transportation.

Mission Seeds

  • Dead bodies have been found in an American State Park, drained entirely of blood with strange bite marks. The agents are sent in, disguised as Park Rangers, to investigate.
  • A grocery store has been consistently having more people leave it than enter it, and nobody seems to have noticed. These people have been found to be involved in numerous violent crimes, and have no record of ever existing. The agents are sent in, disguised as FBI agents.
  • Astronomers at an observatory have discovered a new planet, evidently within our solar system, but it cannot be detected anywhere else. Strange things have been occurring at the observatory, and the agents are sent in to investigate, disguised as government officials from NASA.
  • Children have been going missing in a large city, only to be found dead days later, apparently due to old age. The agents are sent to investigate as members of the CDC, to pretend that the incidents are simply an unusual form of progeria, and to find out the true cause.
  • A small town has been experiencing a large number of UFO sightings. The agents are sent in, disguised as members of the US air force.
  • There have been 7 cases of spontaneous human combustion in the last week, the agents are sent in, disguised as detectives claiming that the events are due to a murderer, to discover the truth and put a stop to it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Word Vomit: Dungeon City

Hi I haven't posted in well over a month, anyway here is a city that is perfect for casual dungeon crawl games. This is part of a series of posts called Word Vomit, where I basically throw something together and only lightly edit it, to try and combat my writer's block.


Dungeon City


This place doesn't seem so much like it was built as it was grown, with chaotic and twisted spires extending up high into the sky, held up by makeshift supports and bridges connecting various buildings.  Those who are rich live in the upper levels of the city, high above the ground, above the filth and squalor below. The city makes its income thanks to the Ultradungeon, a huge network of millions of tunnels and rooms that extends for miles underneath the city. Strangely, it seems to constantly shifting and evolving, growing just as the city seems to have, and within its depths are countless treasures, both monetary and enchanted. Through this, the city stays afloat, and many cargo ships leave its port laden with gold, jewels, and various magical items. In return, the rest of the world supplies Dungeon City with food and other necessities. 

(via oldbookillustrations.com)

Adventuring is a way of life for the citizens of dungeon city, and almost everyone in the city works towards this profession in some fashion or another. Smiths to manufacture the armor and weapons, apothecaries to make salves and potions to heal the wounds of the adventurers, accountants to keep track of the profits, and morticians to take care of the corpses of the fallen. And at the top of the hierarchy are the bosses, former adventurers who, through their efforts, became rich, and now fund expeditions done by contractors. These bosses will claim to have worked hard to reach their current status, but in truth, most of them simply betrayed their party and got away with the riches, or were just the lucky ones who survived the Ultradungeon.

Generally, contracted dungeoneers are paid a small portion of the treasure they acquire, and are supplied with equipment by their employer. Parties are also accompanied by an agent of the boss that hired them, who is equipped with some form of magical communication, in order to alert the boss of any developments. Contracted dungeoneers are also magically shackled, so their employer can track them. These shackles are removed after the expedition is completed.

Bosses are infamously eccentric, with many adopting titles like “sharp tooth mike”, “pegleg pete” “Captain goldblood”, or “the stabinator”. Bosses vary in terms of whether or not they give adventurers an “allowance” for equipment, how much that allowance may be, if they supply the party with gear, who/what their agents are, what percentage of the money the party gets to keep, etc.

Culturally Dungeon City doesn't really care much about if you're different or not, as long as you are willing to brave the Ultradungeon or otherwise contribute to its exploitation. Inhabitants of Dungeon City range wildly in terms of species, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, and political views. Dungeon City is fairly lawless, with no formal government, everything is essentially run by the various businesses built around the Ultradungeon. As a result, corruption is extremely common, organized crime runs rampant, and ethics are a joke. There have been many attempted revolutions and takeovers by multiple different political groups, but none of them have ever really stuck. At any given time, 2 or 3 people will be claiming to rule Dungeon City.

The monsters of the Ultradungeon are similarly varied, and many seem to have just been born from the very walls. Many intelligent monsters seem to worship the Ultradungeon as a sort of living god, and some citizens of dungeon city join cults that believe the same.