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I'm currently writing up a campaign for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition set in modern day. I've never GMed this system before or any earlier editions, and my knowledge of Cthulhu Mythos and its canon is extremely limited.

One of the key locations is an underground cavern in Iceland. It contains something that the nasty cult want to keep hidden and protected at all costs. In order of preference, they want to:

  • Stop people from getting to it, perhaps by masking/obscuring the ways in
  • If people manage to get to it, they would rather do something to them that stops short of killing them, but leaves them not remembering anything they saw
  • If this isn't possible, then killing them or making them disappear would be a final resort
  • They definitely, definitely cannot afford for the location to be exposed to the general public

How would a very Mythos knowledgeable cult go about achieving the above using methods/spells/items from published sources only? I am happy to convert things from earlier editions of the rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you please just take it as given that the cultists are acting in the way they are and focus on the question, which is asking about what magical countermeasures exist to hide/protect an area? \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Dec 22 '16 at 13:50
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To some degree, an isolated cavern in Iceland will be somewhat self-protecting. Articles like this one stress that going to ice caves is dangerous, best done only in season and with an experienced guide. And that people die doing it, all the time.

Well that's pretty easy to work with. Buy the location - cults always have compounds, though they can conceal it as a "commune" or "private spa" or whatever. If you can't buy the location,otherwise make it inaccessible or seemingly undesirable. Buy the property containing the access road... Destroy the access road... Have a cultist in the local city government close the access road/area for "safety" or "ecological" or "historical" or whatever reasons... Blackmail/extort/enchant a local in the city government... Put up fake "No Trespassing" signs on the access road... Post really bad Travel Advisor reviews of the location... Co-opting the local guide company (usually a handful of young folks, who can easily be led astray by cultism, or just some money and drugs, would help. "Hey that place is not so nice, and dangerous, let's go to this other cavern instead!"

Then if people do get there... You can try the Cloud Memory spell. If they resist that, then any means of killing them that looks like normal ice collapse/exposure/etc works, and then you get to put little memorials out for them. You don't really even need to resort to magic for this. If you are squeamish about hitting them with something yourself, some ice type spell or even just fear making them run into a dangerous area should serve.

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What you are asking runs counter to Lovecraft's Mythos.

Most, if not all cultist are insane and incapable of such a degree of planning as is shown in The Call Of Cthulhu.

There are some powerful sorcerers in the world with a strong enough will to accept the cosmic horrors as their own. However, they do not play well together nor do they really care about what the world thinks. However, most if not all magic has to do with contacting and summoning other worldly creatures. There are few illusions, invisibility, mind control, or other spells and most of those are RPG inventions not Lovecraft's. Most other forms of magic are done by over worldly creatures and are mostly science far too advanced for mere humans to understand.

In The Shadow Over Innsmouth, a whole town serves as a hiding place for a cult of Father Dagon and Mother Hydra. Most of the inhabitant are a mix of Deep Ones and humans but they still get found out. However, that is more to do with it being a story.

The latter, I feel, is your best bet. If the locals are all part of the cult, then anyone coming in can be watched, warned, and steered away from the cave. Nothing like getting arrested for drug possession, or maybe child porn. After all, what did that 12 year old girl doing tied in the interloper's room? Especially since she went missing after many witnesses saw her talking to the interloper. Besides, accidents happen. It's a tragedy. Better not hike there.

If someone manages to get there, driving them insane (read: forcing them to join the cult) seems like a good plan. If you're ranting about rats living under your skin, no one will pay any attention to what you say. Any summoning spell has a great potential to drive the melding fool insane. And if it fails, the creature can always eat them. However, note that none of the summon spells ever include a (working) controlling part. The creature is free to do as it pleases, including eat the summoner.

Finally, explosives make for a great eraser of evidence. Several kilos of C4 will make sure the cave is never seen by anyone. Sure, the cult loses it but is that worst than being on the five o'clock news?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm a bit confused by your first statement. Plenty of cults and sorcerers in the original stories demonstrate substantial planning ability. In "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" an entire town successfully keeps extensive contact and interbreeding with an intelligent nonnhuman race secret for about a hundred years. That's incredible. "The Horror at Red Hook" involves a network conducting extensive kidnappings and ritual murders in central New York. The plots you hear about in the stories are the ones that get found out, because the story is how they're found out - not because they're sloppy. \$\endgroup\$ – tardigrade Dec 22 '16 at 20:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I have to call shenanigans on this, plenty of cults both IRL and in Call of Cthulhu - including modern day incarnations like Delta Green - are able to perform basic life functions and hide their naughties without just running shrieking down the road in their underpants. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Dec 23 '16 at 4:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Real life has nothing to do with CoC whatsoever. Please provide sources within Lovecraft's corpus instead. You'll find that most cultists are indeed insane and lack basic social skills. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Dec 23 '16 at 8:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Delta Green, Masks of Nyarlothatep, Day of the Beast, Return to Dunwich... So what you're saying is you have read Lovecraft but you're entirely unfamiliar with CoC the game, because groups of cultists that are more persistent, possibly with gov't connections or some rich folks or whatnot, is pretty much super common. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Dec 23 '16 at 15:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sardathrion You yourself mentioned Shadows Over Insmouth. That was some top tier planning and hiding. In Dunwitch Horror old Whateley pulled off his cult shenanigans and even kept an unspeakable horror in his house for years with the locals getting only mildly suspicious. That's an insane thing to do but still thought through and planned. \$\endgroup\$ – Zalktis Dec 23 '16 at 17:54

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