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A new group, a new campaign

Posted by coomber , 20 January 2017 · 1,513 views

Having not had a chance to play CoC for years, I finally got around to getting another group and getting started.

 

The characters: Grant, a handsome jock with little going on between the ears whose sporting prowess managed to get him a scholarship and an education.

 

Neilson, a big, fat, ugly doctor.

 

Ullerton, a clumsy, gangly, but brilliant private detective.

 

Burton, a spoilt rich brat who turned to a life of crime for excitement before ending up working alongside Ullerton whenever the detective needed someone to break the rules.

 

I've always started new groups off with The Haunting, but decided I wanted a change so I went with The Vanishing Conjurer, which is set in our native London, which meant they could play as a British group.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

Ullerton is hired to investigate a missing person. The missing person is an up-and-coming stage magician who the group quickly discover has joined The Inner Brotherhood of Magicians - a seemingly innocent group of likeminded individuals with an interest in illusions and stage magic, run by a mysterious Chinese leader.

 

The group manage to get an invite to audition for membership - something that required each of the four to make a 25% skill check, which meant a good chance at least one of them would make it. Naturally they all failed. Unable to gain entry to the Brotherhood's London base through membership, Burton puts his breaking and entering skills to the test and forces his way in through a window. Luck is with him, and he manages to discover papers which suggest the missing magician was involved in some very unusual type of magic which he was working on with another member of the Brotherhood.

 

The group decide to pay the magician a visit and Ullerton easily manages to make him talk. He confesses that the pair were working together until the missing man borrowed a tome from the Chinese leader without permission and, having angered the leader, mysteriously disappeared.

 

The game is afoot but the group cannot get to the leader inside his well guarded HQ. The magician they have interrogated reveals the group are all performing at a theatre in a couple of nights. He plans not to show up as he is terrified the Chinese leader will have him 'disappear', giving the group a chance to take his place backstage if they can disguise themselves as him.

 

Disguise being something of a forte for Burton, he is able to go backstage and, while looking around, discovers bizarre equipment the two magicians were supposed to be using. At this point a ghost appears - it is the man they have been sent to find, trapped in a limbo dimension but briefly able to communicate with Burton, who is incredibly unfazed. The ghost reveals the leader plans to summon a bizarre creature tonight and must be stopped - but not before he summons the magician back from limbo, which forms part of the bizarre spell.

 

Burton goes along with the suggestion (it really is amazing how unfazed he was by all this) and waits to the side of the stage for the Chinese leader to begin his act. Sure enough, the magician is summoned - at which point Burton charges on stage and throws a bucket of water over him, and then another at the Chinese leader for good measure. Chaos breaks out on stage, during which point the leader decides to flee, as Burton tends to the magician, saving his life.

 

The leader has escaped but the magician is saved... and whatever creature was due to appear is stopped from arriving in this world.

 

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All in all, the scenario was probably not a good one for first time players. While it was simple for them to play through without getting killed or going mad (even when they failed the magic club entrance test!) there was definitely a sense of anti-climax that there were never any monsters or much in the way of real danger (so it seemed to them, anyway). And, as you can tell from their absence, Grant and Neilson basically made up the numbers and did pretty much nothing.

 

It was not the grand introduction I'd hoped for. I'm definitely hoping for better things with the next scenario.






The group return to play out another investigation - this time the "Nightcap" scenario from the Mortal Coils book.

 

Similar to the previous scenario, it follows the traditional set-up of investigate, investigate, investigate, something spooky happens...RUN AWAY!

 

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

The group has now relocated to America, having drawn the attention of a benefactor with an interest in the occult who wishes to use them to investigate bizarre mysteries. However, business is sparse and the group is forced to take a job investigating why a man has gone insane while spending time in a mining town in Arkansas.

 

Inquiries quickly link his insanity to a mysterious 'red glass' decanter containing a clear liquid. Asking around town (and, once again relying on the group's breaking and entering skills due to an unhelpful county clerk) lead to the discovery of two more decanters and the possible source of the weird goings on around town - a cave in the woods.

 

Setting off with a couple of local police deputies, the group find the area is in a bizarre magical flux (which, unknown to them, is caused by the land is overlapping with the Dreamlands). The sight of a harmless zoog quickly unveils the cowards among the group - Grant and Burton - and the fearless heroes - Neilson and Ullerton.

 

Freaked out by a harmless little creature, things really hit the fan when they investigate the source of the insanity which has spread among the locals - alien moon wine that has seeped into the local stream and been lapped up by a black bear which has now transformed into a giant killing machine with green glowing eyes and a couple of extra rows of giant teeth.

 

Tensions are high as the group investigates the cave where the bear dwells. But luck is on their side and they manage to secure the source of the insanity troubling the locals... just before the bear finds them and attacks. Grant and Burton immediately a permanent fear of bears and run for their lives when one of the deputies has his throat torn out. Everyone else follows suit and Neilson is able to put his doctoring skills to good use when he saves the other officer's life.

 

The bear is left to roam the area, but the threat of more magically-induced insanity is gone and a life has been saved so there are pats on the back for the group. Ullerton is intrigued by a strange tome he found in the cave that talks of spells and a mysterious creature named Nyarlathotep. Perhaps he will live long enough to read it...

 

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A far more successful scenario, even if it followed a near-identical course. The fact that the whole group were involved in some way and managed to feel a sense of character progression (whether through newly found magic items, SAN rewards or skill improvements) definitely improved things.

 

Now it's time to introduce them to a proper full Mythos campaign...

The group return to action, this time in the first part of the three-part The Thing At The Threshold campaign.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

The group are again hired to investigate strange goings on - this time mysterious noises being heard by the inhabitant (and mentally disturbed) owner of a run down mansion. 

 

The group, now hardened investigators, make swift headway getting to know the local populace of Arkham and even find time to stop a psychopath's attempted escape from the local asylum (in fact they managed to deal with it TOO easily! The madman's escape and subsequent recapturing is intended to be a key part of the scenario, but Burton's excellent marksmanship skills - and a max damage roll! - meant the dangerous killer never made it out of the asylum's grounds).

 

Distractions dealt with, the group investigate the house itself... when finally luck runs out for one member of the party.  Grant the jock enters a bedroom on the top floor of the dilapidated building... and immediately falls through its rotten floor. He lands in the kitchen where he manages to smash straight through yet more rotten floorboards, landing in the hitherto undiscovered cellar. His natural athleticism and a dash of good fortune mean that he survives this with barely a scratch, but he soon wishes he was dead when his flashlight illuminates the source of the house's mysterious noises - a terrifying monstrosity. 

 

The rest of the group cannot see what is happening - which is lucky for them - and they rush downstairs to see what all the screaming is about. By the time they arrive in the kitchen and are able to shine their torches into the cellar, all that remains are the crushed remains of their friend. The monster responsible is, fortunately, long gone, having taken the opportunity to magic itself away from the room it had been magically sealed in for years.

 

The surviving group are only able to offer a less-than-satisfactory explanation to their employer, but the mansion's owner is far safer than he has ever been in his life... even if he doesn't know it.

 

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A great scenario, with a brilliant finale that wiped out the group's impression that CoC was simply a case of "investigate, search, run away" every time. Sometimes you don't get a chance to run!

December 2017

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