Flannan Isles
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Basic Information

The Flannan Isles are a group of seven small, rocky islands northwest of Scotland. They are among the remotest of the islands of the Outer Hebrides chain and are perhaps most notable for a mysterious disappearance which occurred there.

During the Middle Ages, a chapel was built on Eilean Mòr, the largest of the island, dedicated to St. Flannan, for whom the islands were named. At one time pilgrimages were made to the spot. When the Celtic Church fell into decline in the Hebrides due to the Viking invasions of the 9th Century, Eilean Mòr was largely abandoned and the chapel fell into ruin. Today it is referred to as "the kennel" by the lighthouse keepers who now live on the island.

The lighthouse on Eilean Mòr was built between 1895 and 1899 on the highest point of the island. It would have been an unexceptional lighthouse but for the mystery which occurred about a year after it's completion. On December 15, 1900, a steamer passing the island noted that the light in the lighthouse was not lit. Due to heavy weather, the scheduled relief ship was not able to arrive for over a week. When they did arrive on December 26, the relief crew found no sign of the three men who had been stationed there.

Theories as to what happened range from gruesome, (one killed the other two then committed suicide by jumping into the sea); to weird, (the men were killed by ghosts); to bizzare, (they turned into cormorants; no really!); but the most plausible speculation seems to be that all three happened to be outside the lighthouse for some reason when an unexpected enormous wave came upon them suddenly and washed them into the sea.

The mystery was used as an inspiration for the Doctor Who episode "Horror of Fang Rock".


2. A Lighthouse Mystery — contains excerpts from documents written by those who investigated the mystery.

Game and Story Use

  • The PC's come across a seemingly deserted lighthouse. Where did the keepers go?
    • Was it an accident of the sea?
    • Or was it ghosts?
      • More specifically, Blue Men with a liberal interpretation of what constitutes a ship.
    • Or space aliens?
      • It was Cthulhu, I tell you! Cthulhu!!!
    • Let's not discount the cormorant theory either
    • Interesting to know what the light covers - if it's preventing ships from going aground somewhere else then wreckers may be a possibility, but if it only protects a deserted island then not so much.
  • Defending pilgrims from vikings is a possible adventure. As is making supply runs to a chapel/lighthouse out in the backside of nowhere.
  • The PCs are investigating, and find the word "CROATOAN" carved on a doorpost. A clue tying one mystery into another? One last prank by a doomed lighthouse-keeper? A red herring laid by whoever was actually responsible?
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