This is part of a guide to the United Kingdom for use in Trail of Cthulhu. I have tried to combine true facts with Cthulhu mythos to create a setting which can be expanded into full adventures.
Information about the real Anglesey can be found here.
The most northern point of Wales Anglesey is an island, divided from the mainland by the Menai Strait, varying in width from 1,300 ft to 3,600 ft. Its rural landscape bear the remnants of dark religions and the scars of an ancient conflict. In the 1930s few knew the horrors that lurked just beneath the ground and under the waves.
Isolated and far from the hustle and bustle of urban living it nonetheless has all the modern comforts that a discerning investigator might expect. The recent success of several archaeological digs in unearthing ancient Roman forts and coins make it a popular choice for those with a passion for the past.
Its 276 square miles holds the highest concentration of prehistoric remains in all of Wales. Megalithic monuments stand in the brooding shadows of the mighty mountains of the north while cromlechs look out to the Irish sea.
It served as the last outpost of the druids driven from the mainland by the invading Romans. Here they worshipped, older, unspeakable gods but one in particular favoured the islanders. Shub-Niggurath ensured the island crops and herds were bountiful, earning the island the name of Môn Mam Cymru (“Mon, Mother of Wales”).
The druids thought they would be able to repulse any invasion but they had not counted on Roman General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus in AD 60 calling upon the services of a Batavian division, who had more than a trace of Deep Ones in their lineage, to swim across the Menai Strait and launch a surprise attack.
Shrines and sacred groves were destroyed, weakening the druids bond with Shub-Niggurath and her dark young. This left them vulnerable and they were eventually conquered in AD 78. The Romans defiled the land, mining the copper from beneath the ground. The people were oppressed, prevented from practicing their religion.
The island would continue to change hands, colonised by Irish pirates only to have them driven out by a Scottish warlord. It feel back into the hands of the Welsh only to be invaded by the Danish, Vikings, Saxons, Normans eventually falling to the English.
In the 1930s the island has a confused identity, part of Wales yet parts strongly resembling parts of England. It is connected to the mainland by the Menai Bridge, the first suspension bridge in the world designed to hold heavy traffic, and Britannia Bridge, the first tubular bridge in the world.
Travellers should beware the Britannia Bridge, especially in high winds. By accident or design the tubes play an unholy pipe music which has, on occasion, been known to summon beings of a most unsavoury nature. Investigators with knowledge of Cthulhu mythos might note the resemblance to the music associated with Azathoth.
Within the town of Menai Bridge, built originally to house the construction workers working on the town’s name sake and growing to be the third largest settlement, this connection hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Occultist and musician Dai Lych dreams of using music to build a bridge beyond reality. His efforts so far have resulted in minor disturbances, shifting people and things to and from different worlds. He has attracted the attention of Yog-Sothoth, the being that is both the key, the guardian and the gate.
Intrigued the ancient entity moves towards our reality through impossible space, sending shockwaves backwards and forwards through time. Should Dai Lych succeed in perfecting his summoning techniques all of reality will shatter, with Anglesey at the epicentre.
Beaumaris, not far from Menai Bridge and its malign influence, has already become a victim of a crack in time. To an outsider it appears as a quintessential English village. Green lawns, Tudor buildings and sitting the shadow of Beaumaris castle. Scratch the surface and you’ll realise that something is dreadfully amiss.
The last man to be hung at Beaumaris Gaol in 1862, Richard Rowlands, was the first to see the truth. Moments before he felt the hangman’s noose around his neck he spoke to the onlookers, telling them that the village clock’s four faces each showed a different time. They took it to be a curse, rather than a warning, and ignored the fact he was right.
Time is eschew here, with hours passing at different rates for different people. For some the day passes in a flash while for others an hour can last an eternity. Routine and tradition hides the fact that whole months can repeat themselves.
The fracture originates at the village clock and radiates outwards. When the friction and pressure of the different planes of time gets too great a time quake occurs, shunting people into the past and future.
Such people soon fall foul of the local conditions, falling prey to invaders such as the Romans and Vikings or finding themselves in Beaumaris Gaol to rub shoulders with Richard Rowlands. The prison, constructed in 1829, catered for all. Men, women and children had separate cells enjoying running water, sound proofed isolation chambers and the whipping room. Stranded time travellers can at least expect equality in their imprisonment.
A custodian at Beaumaris Castle, Colin Wyse, has become quite adept at these time shifts. His knowledge of history serves him well, as does his knowledge of the castle. From its construction in 1295 to its total destruction in a not to distant future Colin is safe within his stronghold.
At first he believed that he was losing his mind but now looks forward to the next shift in time. Once he had got his bearings Colin went through a brief altruistic phase, helping others who found themselves unstuck to return to their point of origin.
Unsatisfied with this Colin now conspires to become a lord of time. He plans to reshape history so that he may rule Anglesey, and perhaps lands further afield, from the walls and moat of the castle. Thanks to his frequent trips he has knowledge of the future and knows the identities of any investigators who might cause him trouble.
Blissfully unaware of the collapse of space and time sits Penmon in the east. Here there are a collection of medieval buildings, ruins of a 13th century refectory and most importantly a Norman church constructed in the 6th century.
It was established by St Seiriol, a champion against forces of the darkness. He took it upon himself to gather up artefacts and texts from various cults. He was known for walking into darkness, the Sun at his back, earning him the name of Seiriol Wyn (Seiriol the Fair).
The church was meant as a secure place to hide those items that could not be destroyed. When others arrived at the church, eventually turning it into priory, St Seiriol took his secret burden to live at a sanctuary on a small island known today as Puffin Island.
Named after the black and white birds that nest there it is currently in a sorry state. During the 18th and 19th century it became fashionable to dine upon pickled Puffin. Their numbers were further reduced by an infestation of rats.
Efforts are being made to ensure that the puffins survive into a new century but it is a struggle. The rats are only an indicator of a greater infestation. There are those who search the ruins of St Seiriol’s sanctuary for the treasures he hid and know the secrets to controlling vermin and making their own rat-things. Investigators would have good cause to prevent their quest from succeeding and may just learn the location of the secret sand banks that St Seiriol used to move between this small island and Anglesey.
Nearby is the village of Moelfre. The sea is cold and merciless, savage rocks waiting to rip asunder unwary vessels travelling to and from Liverpool. Such was the fate of the Royal Charter in 1859, when 460 men, women and children were lost beneath the waves.
While the cost in human life was high some believe the loss of the ships cargo was greater. The ship carried the bounty of the Australian gold rush, much of it lost into the depths. Custom officers continue to watch the village, should a local ever manage to salvage this gold.
Little does any governmental agent realise that there are those within the village who have already recovered the gold. They trace their lineage all the way back to the Batavian’s who once swum ashore in full armour.
These ancient families maintain an agreement with the Deep Ones, cross breeding in return for a multitude of benefits that can be drawn from the sea. Much of the gold is already within their grasp but they are powerless to make use of it while they are being watched. Slowly they conspire to do away with the customs officers in a manner that won’t draw suspicion to them.
Investigators may be drawn to the village to admire Din Lligwy, an ancient village site unearthed in 1905 near Moelfre. Discoveries in the area date back to the iron age and offer a rare chance to glimpse a true picture of what life was like in those ancient times, when Shub-Niggurath held sway.
On the northern coast is Amlwch, a town built upon the wealth gathered from Parys Mountain. It was once the copper capital of the world, not to mention the richest port in Wales. The mining has taken place for nearly 4,000 years, leaving the mountain pitted, cratered and home to a lake of sulphuric acid. The odd pink and orange hue of the landscape could almost convince someone they’d travelled to another world.
The mountain is home to a weapon left over from the power struggle between the druids and the Romans. Through arcane rites they transformed one of their number into a man made more of stone than flesh. Copper caused through his veins, giving him eternal life so he might continue his battle against the enemies of Shub-Niggurath.
What they had not counted on was their Copper Man losing his mind. He dwelled in the darkness, losing all sense of time and self. Wandering dark tunnels he would kill any miner he stumbled across but lacked the focus to continue his campaign, instead forgetting himself and travelling deeper into the inky black.
Recently the Copper Man has regain a sense of identity thanks to a coin. In the 18th Century the Parys Min Company had a set of coins printed bearing the face of a druid, calling them Amlwch Pennies.
One such coin was in the possession of one of the Copper Man’s occasional victims. The face of the druid was enough to stir some distant memory. It has taken until the 1930s for these thoughts to congeal into a new sense of purpose and the Copper Man now targets those who trade in copper. Those he does not dispose of in the sulphuric acid lake he leaves behind a Amlwch Penny in their mouth. The rarity of the Amlwch Pennies make such an act stand out as significant.
Even the mere presence of the Copper Man is having a disastrous effect on the population of the seaside town. He draws copper from all around him, even from the blood of those with a mile of him. This has led to a wave of fatigue and anaemia which modern science is unable to explain.
Standing apart from Anglesey to the north is Holy Island, upon which rests the largest town Holyhead. Roman and Tudor culture collides in the St Cybi’s parish church, built amongst the remains of a Roman fort. There is no better place to defend against the dark forces from the island.
Ancient curses and beings who can not comprehend the passage of time target Holyhead, where the hated Romans once dwelled. Odd and unnatural things happen here, held at bay only by those brave enough to defend against the horrors without understand why they strike at the small island, again and again.
A secret community exists, The Holy, who view themselves as both guardians of Anglesey and defenders against the evils there. They pool information and resources but are still only dimly aware of the true nature of the monsters they face.
South Stack, an islet connected to Holy Island, is home to a lighthouse constructed in 1809. It provides a small beacon in the dark. For some the lighthouse has become a symbol and there are those who would wish to destroy it for that very reason.
On the mainland Penmynydd holds a festering pool of evil. The village was the founding place of the Tudor dynasty and within in the church of St Gredifael rests the tombs of Gronw Fychan ap Tudur and his wife Myfanwy.
The tombs were a popular site for pilgrims as it was believed that the tombs bestowed healing upon the faithful. As such the tombs were slowly picked apart, piece by piece. Luckily for all involved the tombs still remain mercifully intact.
For Gronw Fychan ap Tudur secretly followed the hidden faith of Shub-Niggurath. Arcane rituals made him healthy and long lived, although at a terrible price. Upon death his body did not die. Indeed he could not.
Within the tomb is a twisting, changing pool of chaos. Its hyper-fertility may cause those around it to heal or even experience miracle births but they are equally likely to develop tumours and genetic abnormalities.
If the tomb were ever to cracked open it would unleash a being of pure hunger, driven only to survive and expand. It would for consume everything, evolve to resist any threat to it and it would never stop. For now it is contained.
Within the village are the modern day practitioners of the druidic faith. They still worship Shub-Niggurath although she rarely responds to their sacrifices. Watching over the church and its contents is but one of their duties. They also spend time conspiring against their opposite number in Holy Head and dream of the day when Anglesey belongs to their Dark Mother again.
Aberffraw is located on the Western coast. A fishing village they take comfort in the fact this was once the ancient captain of Kings of Gwynedd. A stone arch way is the only remnants of this glorious time. The fishermen have been troubled by declining numbers of fish and tragic accidents at sea. None suspect that these events are engineered by Deep Ones in service of the ancient families in Moelfre.
The village of Newborough was founded by those displaced by the building of Beaumaris Castle. There is a still a sense amongst those who live here, even hundreds of years later, that they are not supposed to be there.
Here there are vast sand dunes, the largest in western Britain. Unbeknownst to everyone the royal palace of Llys Rhosyr waits beneath the sand. When the dunes shift ancient structures are sometimes revealed, enticing unfortunates to enter at their peril. Great treasure and danger awaits within, not to mention a change in the wind could cause sand to block their exit.
Just off the coast lies Yns Llanddwyn, the sanctuary of St Dwynwen founded as the patron saint of lovers. St Dwynwen was another follower of Shub-Niggurath, veiling her beliefs within Christianity.
Even today couples will make the pilgrimage to the island on St Dwynwen’s holy day, the 25th of January. They hope to forge or renew their relationship, unaware that they are making themselves vulnerable to Shub-Niggurath.
Indeed, romance blossoms upon the island but so does uncontrollable carnal desire. Such acts are unconscious dedications to the Dark Mother, keeping her interested in the island inhabitants. Couplings on the island during this day always result in a child who will be unnaturally effected by the influence of Shub-Niggurath.
Agents from the secret druidic order keep careful note of who visits the island on the 25th of January. They regularly ‘harvest’ the children born from the festivities. They will wait until the child shows their true potential or is at their most malleable. So far no one has linked them to a string of child abductions.
Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll is probably better known as Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. The story goes that the small village changed its name in the 19th century, incorporating the name of neighbouring village, to attract tourists. Unofficially the reason was much more sinister.
Hidden within its 58 letters were the arcane words to summon a hellish entity, most likely an avatar of Nyarlathotep. It was hoped that repeated utterances of the word would provide the sufficient power needed to bring about the end of the world.
The plan failed, due to several factors. Firstly the arcane words were misspelled but even if they had been correct few can pronounce the villages name in one go. Most importantly the name became both a joke and mundane, stripping it of the mental reverence that summoning magic requires.
Both the druids and the Holy independently found out about the plot after it had been put in motion. Although relieved that the plan had failed they showed no mercy in eliminating those behind the plan. It is the only occasion where both factions worked for the same goal, all be it unintentionally.
Female investigators maybe interested in visiting Llanfair Pwllgywngyll as it is the meeting place of the first Woman’s Institute in Europe. Their first meeting occurred in 1915, following its creation in Canada.