From The Unspeakable Oath 19, now available for purchase in print and PDF.
Written by Monte Cook,© 2011. Illustrated by Dennis Detwiller, © 2011.
The investigators go to spend some money and discoverthat one (or more) of their ten dollar bills are identifiedby a clerk or bank teller as counterfeit. They learn thatpeople all over the community are finding the counterfeitbills. The investigators most likely find this inconvenientbut not terribly interesting. That is, until they learn thata surprising number of deaths have been reported in thearea as well, and all of the bodies have been found withsome of the fake currency.
Nothing else seems to link the deaths. Two bills were found ona man who committed suicide by hanging. Another was foundon a woman who was struck by a car. Three were found onthe body of a man murdered in an alley in a drunken fight.(The Keeper is free to add more, similar deaths.)
Option 1: Haunted
The bills are haunted. The counterfeiter committed ahandful of horrific murders in the same room as he craftedthe phony money. The essence of those slain victims,imbued within each bill, haunts any that carry them.The investigators, if they still have any of the counterfeitmoney with them, begin to have terrible nightmares whenthey sleep, and hear strange whispers just at the edge ofperception while awake. Objects begin to move on their ownaround them, sometimes in subtly threatening ways. Worse,even if the investigators rid themselves of the money, theysoon find it mysteriously returned to their wallets or purses.Eventually, terrible calamities begin to befall those with thebills, or the whispering voices begin to drain their sanity,perhaps driving them to murder or suicide. Only the deathof the counterfeiter, who is still at large, puts the ghoststo rest. (Alternatively, some rite of exorcism or properlyresearched binding spell could solve the problem as well.)
Option 2: Cursed
The bills are a mind-control ploy perpetrated by a pair ofserpent men sorcerers. These recently awakened fiends ofancient times hide among humanity, hoping to exert somemastery over them. Having seen humans’ preoccupationwith money, they have chosen to use that predilectionagainst them. Using the flesh of shantak birds disguisedby spells to appear to be normal paper, the inhumansorcerers have created the fake currency as a test. Manyof the subjects died during the test, either by design oraccident, as the serpent men work out the fine details oftheir sorcerous process. Investigators with the bills mayfind themselves hearing voices in their heads that are nottheir own. They may awaken as if from a trance to findthat they have taken actions of which they were unaware.Destroying the bills proves difficult because they are notprinted on real paper—only the serpent men know howit can be accomplished. This latter fact may serve as aclue, however, as no matter what is done with the bills, orno matter how long they are in circulation, they alwaysappear to be brand new, crisp sawbucks.
Option 3: Tainted
The money is not the problem—it’s the counterfeiterspreading them. A degenerate individual whose motherhad been impregnated in a ritual calling upon an avatarof Yog-Sothoth, the counterfeiter commands powers hedoes not fully understand or control. His otherworldlyessence grows in power and influence with each day, sothat now when he spends considerable contact with anobject (like the bills, but also his tools, his printing press,and essentially everything in his basement apartment) itis imbued with the taint of the Outside. Each of them isa like a tiny crack in the fabric of our universe. Madnessand death follow these objects like a curse, but the truethreat is the man, who—if not found and stopped—himselfbecomes a physical gateway, letting in true terrors frombeyond that threaten all mankind.