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Fanfic / Old Man Henderson

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You cannot drive mad he who is already insane.

I'd like to start by saying that the GM was a bastard that had it coming.
Waffle House Millionaire

Once upon a time, there were a few guys enjoying a Trail of Cthulhu campaign set in the modern times. Except they weren't, because they were stuck with a Killer Game Master. He was unfair, and unfun, and a few other "un-"s for good measure, harming and killing characters just because he could get away with it. It was bad, yes, but not unbearable enough to stop playing...

Then said GM made the mistake of angering The Roleplayer of the group. Now the guy in question, Waffle House Millionaire, didn't usually mind if his character got killed as long as it fit the narrative. A bad roll? Sometimes accidents happen. A bad decision? He did that in-character, even though he personally knew it was a bad idea. Bad circumstances? He could get upset, but won't hold a grudge. The game master gets defensive over his GMPC, makes up a curse regarding horses, and causes a horse to fall from a plane and land on his head? According to A Self Called Nowhere (one of the other players, and the eventual narrator of the "Director's Cut" of the tale), he had to physically restrain WHM from choking the DM to death.

So instead, WHM created Old Man Henderson: a Crazy Awesome Munchkin Loonie whose sole purpose in life was to completely derail the campaign, aided with the Backstory of Doom, the sole purpose of which was to be so long and confusing that the DM wouldn't read it and thus wouldn't know that WHM was adding in skills and feats on the fly. The accounts of this are retold by Waffle House Millionaire and A Self Called Nowhere.

Compare The Ballad of Edgardo and That Guy Destroys Psionics.

Despite his ability to derail everything, we've managed to keep this trope list straight:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Midway through one game session, A Self Called Nowhere had already lost four characters to Henderson's actions. Nowhere declined several offers to return to the game via rerolling or another character joining the story, opting to wait until the next session to try again.
  • Abstract Scale: Because of this story, we now have the Henderson Scale of Plot derailment, which measures just how badly a single action has derailed the plot of a tabletop RPG. One full Henderson means that the plot is gone forever and a new one needs to be written up.
  • Accidental Incantation: Henderson and some other player characters go into the cultists' house to investigate, and Henderson finds a book and reads a magical incantation out loud, calling the incantation gibberish, but summoning a monster that depletes the sanity of anyone who looks at it. Another player character tries to tell him about it, but he says he refuses to fall for a "look behind you" trick, and just leaves the room without looking at it. Later on, the party apparently catches onto this, and puts the same incantation into an overhead projector presentation at large meeting of other cultists, tricking them into thinking they're saying a prayer for their dead comrades. Hilarity Ensues, especially since the player characters have noped out of the meeting by that point, and barricaded the doors from the outside.
  • Anyone Can Die: Henderson's collateral damage caused almost as many Player Character deaths as the Killer Game Master. Including himself. A Self Called Nowhere lost six characters to Henderson, four of them in a single session.
  • And the Adventure Continues:
    • After the game ended, and the Epilogue gave proper endings to Henderson and his group, The Stinger involved Henderson waking up in a desert, apparently somehow alive or reborn after killing Hastur, and wandering over to a town he saw in the distance, muttering to himself how it better NOT be a mirage...
    • To a minor extent, Jimmy and Kary both attended a nice college with the money willed to them by Henderson and Will, but even though "Nowhere" noted how "Their story didn't QUITE end there, I'll let that shit slide for now, since I know you guys only care about ONE epilogue."
  • Artifact of Doom: The Backstory of Doom was a document of pure, brain-shifting madness that would make House of Leaves proud, and was far more terrifyingly Lovecraftian than anything the GM wrote in-campaign. WHM denies that he "created" it and instead describes it as something that was "already there, waiting for me to give it life". He apparently stayed up for several nights writing it in a feverish haze which he has no memory of. At one point it switches to being written in the form of a script, complete with stage directions. At another it switches to German. WHM doesn't speak one lick of German, but ASCN does and confirmed that it was all accurate, grammatically correct, and in WHM's own hand. Oh, and in true Artifact of Doom fashion, after the campaign was done, WHM burned it. In his own words:
    WHM: It was EVIL. Seriously, the world is a better place without it.
  • Artistic License – Military: When Henderson wanted to hijack a military cargo helicopter, the GM didn't put up any security around the airstrip other than having to wrestle the keys from the pilot. WHM points this little oddity out when he was recounting the story on 4chan. Even better, Henderson was capable of stealing said chopper... with no training. In the author's own words, he "Expected to crash the thing into a field pursued by the entire military."
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Henderson left the cultists with a destroyed yacht, a dead leader, and Céline Dion stuck in their heads.
  • Badass Boast: WHM drops a zinger on the gobsmacked other players after they bear witness to Henderson's first true act of insanity.
    Remember when I said I was getting revenge? I brought out the big guns. I don't even have the small guns anymore. I was given some once, and promptly returned them. "Won't be needin' these", I said.
  • Batman Gambit: How WHM outwitted the GM - writing out a 300 page monstrosity of a backstory for Henderson that no one in their right mind would ever try to read through all the way. Thus, whenever Henderson needed to make use of a power he did not currently possess, he would tell the GM that in his backstory, Henderson had mastered said skill, knowing full well that the GM would never bother to check whether or not that was true. Of course, given the sheer, horrifyingly comprehensive and insane nature of the "Backstory of Doom", it was about a 50/50 chance that said skill existed in Henderson's backstory anyways.
  • Berserk Button: Discussed by Nowhere in his brief tangent on the difference between a normal player having fun and That Guy, specifically that anyone can become That Guy if their button is pressed hard enough. This is used to explain the conception of Henderson and Simon, as both WHM's (not sticking to the rules) and Nowhere's (killing fellow player characters) have been not just pushed, but slammed into with great force.
  • Best Served Cold: Granted, playing Henderson might've just been that fun, but this story happens over a period of months.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: WHM doesn't do Metagaming, being The Roleplayer, and he sticks to the rules, though he'll accept any houserule as long he has been told in advance. He's otherwise a pretty chill guy. Too bad that the GM didn't follow the rules, prompting WHM to essentially Pay Evil unto Evil.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It's Trail of Cthulhu, what do you expect? Regarding the final group: Henderson, Will and Simon die in the Ice Rink, but Jimmy and his girlfriend Kary have survived, the world has been saved, and Hastur is permanently dead.
    • Although this is mitigated when it turns out that Henderson was reincarnated and did get a happy ending (along with Hastur oddly enough), as revealed in the Director's Cut.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • Shortly after THE Tanker Truck Incident:
      Henderson: I figured out what the nasties are weak against.
      Jimmy: What's that, Mr. Henderson?
      Henderson: Point blank annihilation.
    • After shooting Pat, the would-be assassin:
      Henderson: No man gets between me and me wee men.
    • Out of character, WHM drops an atom bomb of a line on the GM right as Hastur is summoned.
      WHM: Alright, we win.
      GM: What?
      WHM: The charges go off. I set them for fifteen seconds. I needed to make sure he had enough time to arrive, but not enough time to actually ARRIVE.
      GM: What.
  • Book Ends:
    • Nowhere and WHM have a near identical conversation OOC while driving to the session where Henderson is first introduced and IC in the final session as Henderson and Hastur die together.
      Nowhere/Hastur: Is "Henderson" his/your first or last name?
      WHM/Henderson: I don't even fucking know/...Man, I have no fucking idea.
    • Mormons: When Old Man Henderson is first introduced, he misidentifies the cultists as Mormons: "Like those guys down the street? They're Mormons, right? Large religious group." In the epilogue/afterlife, Henderson wakes up in a desert which he identifies as Utah: "Well, I'm either in Hell or Utah." He lets out a deep sigh, realizing he's out of cigarettes. "Utah, knowing my luck." Thus hinting that he was correct all along.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: A rare case where the "broke your arm" part is fully intentional and considered a relatively small price to pay. Henderson, William, and Simon manage to permanently kill Hastur by summoning him in an abandoned hockey stadium which they then blow up, killing themselves in the process.
  • Butt-Monkey: Nowhere got screwed over by Henderson a lot. Until Simon, who was explicitly designed to aid Henderson's antics, his characters failed to survive a single session. His deaths include:
    • The professor who attempted to play peacekeeper and was consequently gunned down by Henderson.
    • James Fink who was hit by the tanker truck and subsequently forgotten about and left to bleed out by Henderson.
    • A mob bodyguard who was trapped in the trunk of a car who died when the car was ignited with him still inside by Henderson.
    • Ronald, a used car salesman who was killed a mere ten minutes after the bodyguard when he was struck by a BMW driven by Henderson.
    • A cop who was killed in a housefire meant to destroy an eldritch beast. It was of course caused by Henderson.
    • Patrick, a street thug who was supposed to make a Heel–Face Turn but was shot in the dick and left to die by Henderson.note 
    • Malcolm, a soldier who got his throat ripped out by a hellhound after it was dodged by Henderson.note 
  • Car Fu: THE Tanker Truck Incident. Took out a possessed detective easily, and wiped out a church thoroughly enough it couldn't be connected back to Henderson because there was nothing left to do so.
  • "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate: Simon's introduction to the group is him walking in on Henderson and Will arguing whether or not Tupac was better than Biggie.
  • Chekhov's Armory: The Backstory of Doom, Henderson's all-solving, all-knowing weapon of mass (campaign plot) destruction, is almost literally this, since its gobsmacking length and general impenetrability allows WHM to give Henderson ANY ability he needs to pull himself out of a jam. Hilariously, after a while he stops having to actually use it - the GM doesn't even bother to check if Henderson has the necessary piloting skills after he steals a helicopter from the military base, since at this point everyone in the campaign automatically assumes that this is something Henderson knows how to do.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The Heelies that Henderson installed in his combat boots allow him to escape without major injury during THE Tanker Truck Incident. Note that this wasn't even something WHM had in mind when he included this detail, he just thought that Henderson was the kind of guy who would wear combat boots with Heelies in them.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The chant used to summon a tentacled spawn of Cthulhu is put in a slide show detailing a prayer to Hastur, and then the building is barricaded by the players. One tentacled monstrosity for each cultist present. The former kill all the latter, only to fight among themselves afterwards.
    • Meta example: The pieces of information regarding how to permanently kill an Elder God. Henderson may be Awesomeness Incarnate (with an extra helping of crazy), but his player is smart. The information was from months prior, and WHM had kept meticulous notes.
  • Cool Old Guy: Henderson, when not being a deliverer of vengeance to the assorted Cults he battles, is pretty chill with the guys he befriends.
  • Confusion Fu: Henderson and the gang employ this when stealing a yacht from a high ranking priest in a Hastur cult, setting off concealed smoke bombs and a two-sided speaker setup made for outdoor musical festivals they had prepared around the dock. The speakers on one side played the audio to the Normandy Beach scene from Saving Private Ryan, the speakers from the other side played God Save The Queen. Once the chaos had gotten sufficient, they fly in a cargo helicopter, use it to lift the yacht out of the water, then switch the audio to play My Heart Will Go On just to ramp the confusion levels up to maximum.note 
  • Consulting Mr Puppet: Or rather, Rupert the stuffed parrot. Bonus points for consulting it while dismissing the real guys as hallucinations.
  • Crazy Sane: Henderson ended up highly resistant to the mind-bending effects of the Lovecraftian horrors since, as a schizophrenic drug addict, he's already pretty crazy to begin with.
  • Death from Above: They steal a yacht from a Hastur cultist with a military cargo copter, load said boat with explosives, and drop it on a Cthulhu cult.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: James Fink the ex-mobster and Al Johansson the ex-cop became a mutual case of this after they coincidentally both quit their jobs and then ran into each other.
  • Delayed Reaction: At one point, the crew drive past a cop. The cop sees Henderson taking a hit off a huge bong while driving a car so filled with smoke it looks like it's on fire, music playing loud, and two teens obviously making love in the back seat. The cop travels two blocks before turning around and begin pursuing Henderson. The narrator is at a loss to explain the delay.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: When he's stopped by a cop, Henderson (probably) pretends to have already forgotten picking up Jimmy and Kary. His excuse? "Tell you what, memories the first thing to go, followed right by the memory."
  • Deus Exit Machina: Henderson couldn't prevent the Detective and James' deaths because he had gone shopping at the nearby gas station.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Or rather, his half-brother Hastur. The group managed to stop Hastur and his cultists multiple times. The last time is a Dying Moment of Awesome, as Henderson summons him right as the Ice Rink explodes. Since he was weakened by the summoning, Hastur was permanently killed.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: The sequel to the Old Man Henderson story, "Eli Burning", involved Henderson using the remnants of Hastur's essence to make a Deal With Nyarlathotep - he and Hastur would be reborn as humans, but Nyarlathotep would keep Hastur's power unless its reincarnation claimed the powers back. After Henderson (now Eli Burning in his new incarnation) discovers his past memories, and realizes that his Childhood Friend Heather is Hastur's reincarnation, he gets her drunk, has her "reclaim her power" from Nyarlathotep, and sealed it up inside an amulet. Nyarlathotep, understandably pissed off, sends his cultists after them ("Which is kinda like trying to put out a wild-fire by dumping oil on it"), but Eli and Heather manage to get away scot-free by using a ritual to enter a dimension that Nyarlathotep couldn't touch.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: After the GM Rage Quit the game upon Hastur's death, and "Nowhere" took over after the GM stormed off, Henderson and Hastur spent their last moments having a friendly chat, with Hastur commending Henderson for actually managing to perma-kill him, Henderson apologizing for "overreacting" when Hastur told him his cultists never took his gnomes, and the two sharing a blunt that Henderson rolled up.
  • Disability Immunity: Old Man Henderson is both schizophrenic and The Stoner, so eldritch horrors that drive men to gibbering insanity on sight don't affect him since he assumes they're just schizophrenia-and/or-drug-induced hallucinations. Or really ugly poodles.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The whole story started because Henderson thought the local cult stole his collection of lawn gnomes. And to top it all off, they didn't: Henderson sold them for charity and then forgot about it in a drug high.
  • The Ditz: Henderson again. The biggest example would be putting heelies in his boots, which are then used to escape the tanker truck before it crashed. That wasn't their intended use, he simply decided he wanted heelies in his boots beforehand.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: This was Henderson's entire attitude during a Last Stand against the villains (up to a Taking You with Me that perma-killed Hastur), but it was also displayed by the two allies who fought with him as well.
  • Door Stopper: Henderson's "Backstory Of Doom," which we will unfortunately never read, as WHM burned it. At least, it qualifies by the standards of PC backstories, which can usually be summed up in a paragraph. It doubles as an Invoked Trope, as seen in the entry for New Powers as the Plot Demands. Apparently some parts were in German, which WHM doesn't actually understand.
  • Double Entendre: When the Detective first meets Henderson and learns about the gnomes, he ends up hearing the story of how Henderson worked as a prostitute in Thailand, and got back to America by riding some guy's junk across the ocean.
  • Driving Question: Where are Henderson's lawn gnomes? Turns out he sold them for charity, and then got high and forgot about it.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: What led to this whole absurd mess in the first place, when the GM repeatedly killed off WHM's characters in increasingly contrived ways and for increasingly flimsy reasons that obviously had no justification except for his own enmity with WHM. The last straw was a curse being placed on WHM's PC, which led to him being killed by a horse that fell out of an airplane and landed on him.
  • Due to the Dead:
  • Eldritch Abomination: Besides the obvious, it's implied that Old Man Henderson was this out of universe. WHM denies that he "created" him and described writing his character sheet as simply putting to paper something that was already "alive" inside him. He doesn't know if Henderson is his first or last name, he's implied to have stayed up for days writing it, and the sheet itself is utterly insane: it changes tone wildly, at one point it shifts to a script format complete with stage directions, and part of it is written in gramatically-correct German, despite that WHM does not know more than a few words of German. In addition, everyone at the session saw Henderson as a clear and deliberate Expy of The Dude... except WHM had never seen the movie and had no idea what they were talking about.
  • Enemy Civil War: After Henderson stole a yacht from a high-ranking Hastur cultist and dropped it onto the penthouse of a high-ranking Cthulhu cultist, the two cults declare open war on the streets, fighting and killing each other as much as they fought and killed the police and military desperately trying to rein in the chaos. Once they figure out Henderson was behind all the events that wrecked their collective shit, they unite in their mutual hatred to drown Henderson's crew in a black tide of unholy abominations. They finally kill Henderson, but their entire force is obliterated by Henderson rigging the hockey rink to explode - including Hastur, the Eldritch Abomination they spent the whole game trying to summon in the first place.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Henderson keeps pestering the head cultist about his lawn gnomes, the man (in what ASCN describes as the only good line the GM had in the entire game) gives Henderson a Look, "a Look that can only be summed up as 'Dude, I fucked a shoggoth and you're creeping me out.'"
  • Establishing Character Moment: The scene where Old Man Henderson first shows up sets up everything we come to know about Henderson perfectly. In it, he busts down the door to a church, aces the sanity loss rolls, shouts "MUCKLE DAMRED CULT! 'AIR EH NAMBLIES BE KEEPIN' ME WEE MEN!?!?" at the top of his lungs, murders an eldritch monster, mows down evil cultists (and another player's character), pisses on the eldritch monster's corpse, and then burns down the church. All because he thinks that they're Mormons who stole his lawn gnomes.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The group takes a detour to the hockey rink where they would make their epic Last Stand by crashing through a home and garden store in their truck. After they arrive at the hockey rink, Henderson discovers that a single lawn gnome wound up hitching a ride in the truck bed, and knows it's a sign that he's going to die. He accepts his fate immediately, and simply turns to his companions and tells them It Has Been an Honor.
  • Fat Bastard: The DM is often referred to as one; while he's definitely a bastard, it is unknown if he is actually overweight.
  • Flat "What": The GM's reaction when WHM announces that "We won", aka the explosives go off just as Hastur has arrived and is suffering summoning sickness.
  • Flipping the Table: The GM's real-world reaction to Henderson killing Hastur permanently with a bunch of explosives is to flip the game table and leave the room.
  • Foil: Simon Breckenridge was created by Nowhere with the explicit intention of being Henderson's opposite, the yin to his yang, specifically to encourage and feed WHM's insanity.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The final group. Henderson is Sanguine, Simon is Melanchonic. William the practical guy and Jimmy the Lovable Jock get shoved in Choleric and Phlegmatic, respectively.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Jimmy and Kary "get busy" after Henderson's group save her from becoming a Virgin Sacrifice by yet another batch of Cultists. It happens in the backseat of Henderson's Buick, to be specific.
  • Graceful Loser: Hastur takes being Killed Off for Real pretty well and shares a smoke and a laugh with Henderson.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: Henderson's backstory is a whopping 320 pages long, changes tone and perspective constantly, has a section written as stage directions and another written in flawless German. And WHM doesn't even know German. Hell, Henderson might not even know German, since all that was mentioned was that he knew Portuguese.
    • It counts as Refuge in Audacity, since WHM wrote it to be detailed enough to justify anything Henderson does and long enough so that the GM couldn't read it all and notice when WHM changed certain parts. Fun fact: Henderson never had any helicopter piloting skills. By the point he infiltrates a military base to steal one, everyone just assumes it's in his backstory somewhere.
  • Groin Attack: Pat the thug is paid to make Henderson "disappear" by the cult of Hastur. Henderson responds by shooting him in the balls and then leaving him to bleed out.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: For the final battle, Henderson swaps his Hawaiian shirt for a leather jacket with a gnome wearing aviators and throwing up the horns depicted on the back.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Hell On Ice, the entire group (sans Jimmy and Kary) die in a Last Stand to kill as many cultists as possible, as well as Hastur himself.
  • Heroic Willpower: The detective manages to resist being taken over by Hastur long enough to free Jim Fink, who runs like hell, shortly before Henderson initiates THE Tanker Truck Incident.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: It's never pointed out, but WHM created Henderson in the first place to get back at the GM for killing off WHM's own characters on a whim so often. Once he's done so however, WHM preventably kills off Nowhere's character nearly every session. On being called out on this, however, WHM accepts the point and backs off from doing so (at least, out of intent or negligence).
  • Hostile Show Takeover: After the GM Rage Quit by Flipping the Table after Henderson killed Hastur in a giant fireball (that also killed himself in the process), ''A Self Called Nowhere' reset the table, and seated himself in the GM's position, allowing Henderson and Hastur to be Not Quite Dead just long enough to have one final chat.
  • House Fire: Henderson starts one to kill an eldritch beast. It also ends up killing one of Nowhere's characters, a cop.
  • Humble Goal: Old Man Henderson battles the cult of an Elder God and ultimately the Elder God himself because he thinks they stole his lawn gnomes and he wants them back. Henderson's player, the cause of all this insanity, just wanted the GM to stop Railroading the game.
  • Humiliation Conga: "Nowhere" got his characters killed, directly or indirectly, by Henderson. Yes, that's plural. He got four characters killed by Henderson in just one session!
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Not deliberately, but in a group of adults, the two teenagers are the only characters who end up surviving.
  • Insistent Terminology: WHM insists that THE Tanker Truck Incident should always be written as such, with the "THE" in all caps, because no matter how many incidents involving tanker trucks may or may not happen in the future, or what said hypothetical incidents may entail, that one will always be the definitive one that can never be topped.
  • It Has Been an Honor: After Henderson finds the lawn gnome in the bed of the truck, he turns to the others, grins, and says "Gentlemen, it's been a pleasure." Everyone knew at that moment this was their Last Stand, and by God, they made the most of it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Henderson is crazy, rude, and violent, and occasionally kills his allies, but he's otherwise a swell guy to hang out with. Also, he willed everything he owned to Jimmy and Kary.
  • Killer Game Master: The DM was a bastard who killed player characters with "bullshit" for disagreeing with his own characters. This inspired WHM's rampage to begin with.
  • Kill It with Fire: What ultimately happened to the Backstory of Doom. In WHM's own words:
    (...) I burned that thing. It was EVIL. Seriously, the world is a better place without it.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Thanks to a Script Swap by Henderson's friend Jimmy, the local Hastur cult ended up accidentally summoning a bunch of minions of Cthulhu. Henderson & co. simply lock the doors of the temple and leave them to kill each other off.
  • Logic Bomb: One of Henderson's specialties was producing gems of wisdom such as the following:
    Henderson: You know, I still remember the first time I got high. Back of my older brother's van. Know it musta been some good shit too, because I'm an only child.
  • Lonely Funeral: Due to Henderson killing all his friends except for Jimmy and Kary, they are the only ones who show up at his.
  • Lovable Jock: Jimmy is a jock but he's also a Nice Guy. One example is his concern for his cultist girlfriend; bargaining a chance to talk her out of it in exchange for going to a meeting.
  • Lovecraft Lite:
  • Macguffin: The lawn gnomes. When Henderson finds one in the group's truck, he knows his time has come.
  • Mad Bomber: Someone like Henderson should not have access to C4, let alone enough to completely demolish an ice rink with an Elder God included. Henderson also memorized the Anarchist Cookbook in its entirety.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: WHM kinda went into a maniac state and two days later came out of it with the 320 page back story of Henderson. The magic part is that parts of it were in perfect German and WHM doesn't know German at all, and also that Henderson himself is a blatant Expy of The Dude despite WHM having never seen The Big Lebowski. Tellingly, WHM said it was evil and burned it once the game was finished.
  • Method Acting: Invoked due to WHM's tendencies. According to A Self Called Nowhere, when WHM played a character he would fully absorb into the character until the session was over, and while Henderson was a Munchkin WHM would never, ever use allow Henderson to know any meta-knowledge that he the player did. While not metagaming is usally seen as good play, A Self Called Nowhere notes that in Henderson's case this was actually a bad thing, because it meant Henderson would barrel into situations completely oblivious of any structure or plans already in place, creating chaos and disaster. Indeed, most of the instances of Henderson killing other party members are the result of Henderson taking extreme actions because WHM played him with complete ignorance of the other players' presence in the vicinity: a notable example being a situation where A Self Called Nowhere's character was protecting an NPC, only for the NPC to be kidnapped by the cultists and ASCN's character to be thrown in the cultists trunk. Henderson comes across the kidnapping and - seeing the NPC - saves them, then since Henderson the character only just got there and was unaware of the player character in the trunk he sets the car on fire killing the PC.
  • Mind Screw: Again, the Backstory of Doom. In real life. At one point it shifted to being told via stage directions in the form of a play, and elsewhere into perfect German, a language of which its author did not speak more than two words at best.
  • Munchkin:
    • Henderson, via the Door Stopper backstory WHM wrote, is perfectly suited to derail plotlines via an extensive backstory that gives him whatever skill he needs. And even if it doesn't, the whole reason for it being such a Door Stopper in the first place is so that if Henderson needed a skill that wasn't in his backstory, WHM could simply lie and say it's in there anyway, because who the hell's going to bother reading through that whole thing to check if he's lying or not?
    • A Self Called Nowhere also described his creation of Simon Breckenridge as a descent into "deliberate munchkinism", though Simon's case was relatively mild compared to Henderson's.
  • Mundane Solution:
    • Henderson was almost completely immune to SAN loss against the cosmic nightmares and ethereal horrors thanks to some hallucinogenic drugs, diagnosed schizophrenia, and "a pre-existing hatred of religion, cutlery, and books."
    • After the Script Swap caused minions of Cthulhu to be summoned inside the church of Hastur, instead of bursting in to attack them, Henderson & co. simply lock the door and let them kill each other off while they went to Harry's bar and shot some pool.
  • Murder, Arson, and Jaywalking: The aftermath of the Yacht stealing was described in such a way.
    "So when the cultists finally got the smoke to clear their Yacht was gone, their leader dead. And Celine Dion was stuck in their heads. Not the best of days."
  • Mushroom Samba: Jimmy went through one, courtesy of a giant joint made with a page of the Necronomicon. Cue failing all the save rolls.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Downplayed; he never really regrets it, but on learning that the inciting incident that drove Henderson to destroy Hastur and his cult — the theft of his lawn gnomes — was a misunderstanding and that he actually gave them away while on a bender, Henderson muses that his actions in that case ended up being a rather disproportionate overreaction.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Parodied with "THE Tanker Truck Incident", which is considered the definitive example of incidents involving tanker trucks.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Old Man Henderson has a 300-something page backstory. The reason for this is that WHM assumed (correctly) that the GM would never read such a Door Stopper in its entirety, which allowed WHM to occasionally make changes to Henderson's backstory so as to let him have whatever skill he wanted him to have at the moment.
  • No Man Should Have This Power: Waffle House Millionaire burned Henderson's backstory after it had served its purpose, deciding it was too evil to continue to exist.
  • No Name Given:
    • Nobody knows whether "Henderson" is his first or last name, and what the other name might be. Not even he.
    • Two of A Self Called Nowhere's characters were not named in the story. Both were killed during the "four-in-one-session" spree, so they didn't last long anyway.
  • Not Me This Time: Old Man Henderson started a crusade against the local church of Hastur for stealing his lawn gnomes. Which they didn't even do.
  • Off the Rails: The entire reason for Henderson's existence is to derail plotlines. So much that 1d4chan created the Henderson Scale of Plot Derailment. One Henderson equals "The plot is lost forever, time to make a new one".
    • For a single, glorious incident of this in-story, Henderson snatched a page of the Necronomicon from the detectives who had confiscated it as a clue. The GM planned to kill Henderson off via sanity damage once he read it. Henderson did not read said page. He used it to make a monster blunt and got high. Not only did the GM not get to kill Henderson, but the only remaining plot hook literally went up in smoke.
    • Apparently, this was a recurring problem for the GM- Henderson's antics tended to leave whatever carefully constructed plot hooks in ruins... often literally, such as THE Tanker Truck Incident having spread the cultist base over a large portion of the city, or Henderson burning down a church (and removing all evidence) in his first appearance.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The GM's reaction once Henderson burns down the cultists' church. It steadily gets worse.
    • A Self Called Nowhere reacted this way, out-of-character, upon realizing Henderson had turned the Necronomicon page into a giant blunt.
  • Old Soldier: Henderson, though younger than he claims, is in his fifties, at least thinks he served in Vietnam, and is still killing both cultists and eldritch nasties.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with James "Jim" Fink and Jimmy the Jock.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Henderson's Scottish accent came and went as he drank and/or it amused WHM.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Henderson. Not only to the plot of the GM, but to at least fifteen different Cultist groups, countless buildings, and at least one yacht. Oh, and at least seven of A Self Called Nowhere's characters, too.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Jimmy and Kary not only got out alive, but managed to get into a pretty good college with the money Henderson willed them.
    • Nowhere specifically credits the GM, who was otherwise such an unpleasant, rule-fudging bastard that the creation of Henderson became necessary, for not pulling a Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies and actually rolling with the ramifications of the players' actions, playing it through to the end and giving them a proper conclusion even after his intended plot for the campaign has been reduced to ashes and the ashes rolled up and snorted.
  • Phrase Catcher: A lot of people ask whether "Henderson" is the first or last name. The answer is always a variation of "I don't even fucking know." Not even Henderson knows the answer.
  • Phony Veteran: Henderson claims to have fought in Vietnam, and is crazy enough that he probably genuinely believes he did, even though it was impossible for him to do so since he was 12 years old in 1974.
  • Player Archetypes: Basically, Old Man Henderson is the unholy singularity at which The Real Man (solves all his problems with gunfire and explosions), The Roleplayer (three-hundred page backstory to convince everyone he's serious about the character and he's not just a game-wrecking asshole), The Munchkin (is totally a game-wrecking asshole), and The Loonie (puts several extra servings of crazy into Crazy is Cool) coexist in perfect harmony within the same entity.
  • Rage Quit: The GM after Henderson/WHM finally lays his cards on the table. According to another player in WHM's group, it was the first and only table flip he'd ever seen.
  • Ramming Always Works: Especially if it's a tanker truck.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
  • Refuge in Audacity: Henderson does things so crazy and unexpected that neither the other players nor the GM know what to do next. "I have to check my notes" is a general response.
    • The part where Henderson steals a military helicopter from a base. He actually had no skills in piloting helicopters or in evasion, and for some reason the GM didn't have as much security on the base as it really should have. WHM said that he fully expected to crash the thing into a ditch somewhere, pursued by half the military.
  • The Roleplayer: According to ASCN, WHM is practically allergic to metagaming. If he is at your table, you are not playing with him, you are playing with his character.
    ASCN: Why the fuck did you just kill me?
    WHM: What?
    ASCN: You just fucking shot me dead!
    WHM: I shot a random guy who threatened my life and started trying to beat the shit out of me in the middle of a crime scene where I totally just murdered a hobo? Yes, yes I did. What possible reason could I have to NOT shoot you?
    ASCN: It's ME you cock! I've already died like three times TODAY.
    WHM: That's metagaming.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • Detective Al's reaction when he discovers that his client is the crazy old guy that burned down a church is to desperately leave the bar he was called to - it doesn't stick when Henderson follows after him, and tells him that he knows that they were a Cult he was investigating, but only just.
    • The DM pulls one in real life, flipping the table in frustration and leaving after Henderson succeeds in permanently killing Hastur.
  • Script Swap: One story involves Henderson acting as a distraction while Jimmy replaces part of the Hastur cult's prayer with a summoning for minions of Cthulhu, a rival sect.
  • Serial Escalation: Not only does the insanity of Henderson's antics never let up, it actually multiplies exponentially throughout. Events that would be the dramatic action climax of a lesser story (ramming Henderson's Buick into a police station filled with Shoggoths, stealing a tank from the National Guard and driving it through a shopping mall filled with zombies) are barely glanced at by the narrator because of how much they pale in comparison to whatever wacky shenanigans Henderson is currently pulling at that specific moment.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: For Henderson, hearing Hastur tell him that his cult didn't take his Lawn Gnomes, and that Henderson gave them away to charity while high off his ass.
    Henderson: Fuck, really? Well, now I feel like I might've over-reacted a bit.
  • Soft Glass: Patrick punches Henderson in the face twice, and breaks his sunglasses both times, yet any damage done to Henderson's face or Patrick's fist is never brought up. Not that the latter ends up mattering, since Henderson shoots out his kneecaps and leaves him to bleed to death a moment later anyway.
  • The Stoner: Henderson is regularly smoking something, and convinces Jimmy to get in the act. At one point Henderson even smokes a blunt made from a page torn out of the Necronomicon. It has a rather adverse effect on Jimmy. Henderson sees things all the time anyway, so it's hard to tell what, if any, effect it has on him. As said in the Director's Cut:
    A Self Called Nowhere: So Jimmy took a hit, and totally failed every check the GM sent his way. He saw Jesus, and then Jesus turned into a giant squid thing. In the deep distance, the Weed softened the blow by masking everything behind a cartoon-ey after-glow. So imagine for a moment watching Elmer Fudd scream 'Cthulhu fhtagn' and shoot Daffy in the face. Only instead of a fucked up beak and a muttering of 'this means war', he screams 'HE COMES!" and tentacles rip out of his form to molest wildlife. This is the part where I had to go to the door and retrieve the precious shrimp fried rice, but I came back to "So wait, I ONLY lost 15 san?"
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Henderson's modus operandi involves C4 and lots of gasoline, which gets rid of his problems and any proof that could connect him to his crimes. Including Elder Gods. This turned into a bit of a problem for the GM, as apparently the MO of Henderson tended to mean that the carefully-constructed plot hooks meant to lead the players to the next location would be reduced to a fine vapor, and he'd have to build new ones to get the plot sort of on track again.
  • Success Through Insanity: Invoked by WHM. Henderson had dyslexia and schizophrenia; the former allowed him to read Black Speech without any SAN loss, while the latter made it easier to kill shoggoths (and occasionally dismiss the other players as hallucinations) due to only believing them to be really ugly poodles.
  • Take Up My Sword: Jimmy was spared being killed during 'Hell on Ice' because his player was forced to attend a movie with their parents - the group justified his absence with this trope, with Henderson telling Jimmy to get out of the now war-torn city with the military, and "commanding him to continue the good fight if it came to that".
  • Tank Goodness: Near the end, Henderson and company steal a National Guard tank and drive it through a mall full of zombies. It is a testament to the sheer insanity of the campaign that this merits a single sentence of description from the narrator.
  • Taxidermy Terror: After killing a shoggoth at the first cultist church, Henderson has the remains stuffed and turned into a Halloween decoration.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: ASCN's characters have a habit of dying. It reached its apex when four of his characters died in one session.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Consensus among Old Man Henderson's fans is that "The Backstory of Doom" is one, written in the grip of madness and containing secrets dire and potentially world-ending (at least, for any RPG games the hypothetical reader might be in). WHM burned it to keep it contained.
  • Tranquil Fury: WHM getting frustrated mad is hilarious (he apparently "makes this weird choking noise in the back of his throat like a murlock caught in a trash compactor"). When he gets truly mad, however...
    Waffle House Millionaire (to other players, while GM is away from table): I know you're thinking about leaving, but I want you to stay. I want you to watch what I'm going to do.
  • Tuxedo and Martini: Simon Breckenridge, British Spy, is clearly a homage to James Bond to begin with, but the trope particularly kicks in during the events of the final battle, wherein he changes into a tuxedo at one point and refuses to change out of it.
  • The Tyson Zone: Henderson is this trope weaponized for the purpose of completely breaking the GM's campaign, by way of the 300-page Backstory of Doom, big enough to both justify every crazy thing Henderson was capable of doing across the campaign and assure nobody would actually read it except for the parts WHM pointed out to justify whatever crazy thing Henderson was trying to do, which allowed WHM to slip in new skills as necessary. It worked, as it wasn't too long until the GM and other players all stopped making him point out where it said Henderson had acquired some skill or another, like flying a helicopter - they just assumed it was in there somewhere and let him do as he pleased.
  • Unexplained Accent: Henderson has a thick Scottish slur that he slips into when he gets angry, as he drinks, or whenever WHM feels like it, despite the character not being Scottish.
  • The Unmasqued World: By the end, the cultists are engaged in an open Enemy Civil War, throwing summoned malevolent beings and spells at each other, while the military and police are losing their shit over the blatant sorcery happening in the streets.
  • The Unreveal: It's never revealed if Henderson is his first name or his last name. Even Henderson himself doesn't remember anymore.
  • Useful Book: Henderson once ripped out a page from a copy of the Necronomicon and used it to make a blunt.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Henderson at one point rolls a blunt from a page of the Necronomicon and proceeds to smoke it along with Jimmy. They turn out mostly fine afterwards, since the weed dulls the worst of the sanity-blasting effects.
  • The War Sequence: About three in-game days after Henderson dropped the yacht on the cultist penthouse, the remaining cultists engage in open warfare with each other on the streets, with the police, military, and federal investigators desperately trying to rein in the chaos while panicking at open displays of wizardry and magic. During this, Henderson's crew doesn't disappoint, with highlights including using Henderson's Buick as a Car Bomb to demolish a police station that's overrun with Shoggoths, and hijacking a tank from the National Guard which is used to trash an abandoned mall overrun with Zombies. That's before Henderson and his group undergo a Last Stand at a hockey stadium.
  • Wham Line:
    • The moment which let everyone know exactly what Henderson was and that nothing would be the same for the campaign.
    • Then the moment when the the DM realized exactly how far Henderson had gone.
      Waffle House Millionaire: Alright, we win.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After A Self Called Nowhere's fourth character death in the same session (all of which were caused by intent or negligence by Henderson), he had it out with Waffle House Millionaire in private. To WHM's credit, he accepted the criticism, and the remaining character deaths for A Self Called Nowhere in that campaign were not directly due to Henderson's actions or negligence, but due to bad luck or being in a hopeless situation.
  • Worthy Opponent: After Henderson mortally wounded Hastur in a Last Stand, the Elder God commended him for pulling it off, not expecting him to be capable of doing so.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: Albert Johansen's reaction when Jim Fink asks him how Henderson got his lawn gnome collection.