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The Murderer of Thomas Fell


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#1 Legbody

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 08:35 PM

I'm running this as my first ToC scenario this weekend, and would greatly appreciate input from anyone who's played this one.

Thanks in advance!


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#2 Khelbiros

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 09:47 AM

I've got an actual play here:
http://yog-sothoth.c...ewtopic&t=13552

I've run it twice - the first group quite liked it, but the second group didn't like the 'twist' ending and said it was too railroady. Just be careful with the ending - don't block or force the resolution; just roll with whatever the PCs decide to do.
Regards,
Belinda

#3 Mulciber

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 12:40 PM

It's good fun but potentially very, very bleak, my players would have probably preferred it a little more pulpy. It's the only TPK I've ever participated in as Keeper (or player for that matter), including two suicides.
One player had nightmares afterward.

#4 AJKM

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 06:41 AM

I'm not running it until next week sorry, but it'll be my first go at running a TOC game too.

I'd be really keen to hear how it went, especially in terms of timing.

#5 Legbody

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 11:50 PM

Thanks all. The railroadiness is probably my 2nd-biggest concern, right after my nervousness about trying out this new system.

I'm all set for bleakness, though.

#6 Legbody

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 02:28 AM

[SPOILERS BELOW]

So this happened. A huge hit! The players really responded to the pregens. There was some amazing roleplay between the Fell brothers after Roger realized that his brother's bite was going to be fatal. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't convince the gang to off Thomas, so instead they teleported off to some gonzo dimension and got scarfed down by a giant something. Afterwards, I asked them if they'd understood that killing Thomas would have gotten them home, and they said, "Yes, that was clear, but I just didn't believe we'd actually do it."

What I was most excited about was the fact that the Investigative Abilities mechanic really, really worked. I was concerned going into it that it would be difficult to get players to call out the skills they wanted to use, but everyone really latched onto to the concept. I did have one player who kept trying to game the system by, at the beginning of every scene, launching into a list of all of her skills. I was able to rein her in by asking her to specify how she was using those skills, and what kind of information she was hoping to find.

Best of all, everyone expressed an eagerness to play again, and to bring in more players. I think we'll jump into Arkham Detective Tales next.

#7 brehaut

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 03:01 AM

Best of all, everyone expressed an eagerness to play again, and to bring in more players. I think we'll jump into Arkham Detective Tales next.


Remember to hit the pelgrane forums to grab the missing pages info and errata first!

#8 AJKM

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 05:40 AM

Glad to hear it went so well and that your players go so into it.

How did it go with the timing? How much time did you spend in the first half of the scenario versus the second?

Also were your previous concerns about railroading justified?

#9 Legbody

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 04:50 PM

We spent about thirty minutes going over the rules, and then played for three and a half hours, with maybe one hour spent on Part 1 and the rest on Part 2.

I asked the players if they'd felt railroaded during the game, and they assured me that they did not. I think it's because I kept asking them to specify which direction they were heading across the plateau, which gave the impression that that had an effect on what they encountered.

#10 Gaffer

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 05:19 PM

I asked the players if they'd felt railroaded during the game, and they assured me that they did not. I think it's because I kept asking them to specify which direction they were heading across the plateau, which gave the impression that that had an effect on what they encountered.

Ah, the illusion of self-determination. It makes life liveable in so many ways. :)
"Two in the head, you know he's dead." <heh-heh>

#11 AJKM

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 08:17 AM

Thanks for the tips. I'm running the game tomorrow night so I hope it goes well.

Just wanted to get your thoughts on something small though.

*SPOILER ALERT*



Did you guys treat the Mouth as a supernatural creature or a Mythos creature in terms of the difficulty for sanity checks when seeing it? On re-reading the scenario, I'm leaning towards it being a supernatural creature, so being a 4 point test for sanity. Thoughts?

#12 Legbody

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 04:06 PM

I definitely treated it as a Mythos monster. In general, I think non-Mythos monsters would be things for which the characters at least of some sort of point of reference, even if it's just through pop culture (vampires, werewolves, ghosts, etc.).

#13 fictionalbeing

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 07:04 PM

Thanks for the tips. I'm running the game tomorrow night so I hope it goes well.


Hey Everyone,

AJKM, how did running this scenario go for you? How long did it take to play? I'm trying to decide on a good scenario for a one-shot (and first game of) Trail of Cthulhu. This one is high on the possible list.

-S.

#14 AJKM

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 07:58 AM

* SPOILERS - AVERT YOUR EYES!*




Hi fictionalbeing. The scenario went quite well. I was running it as a playtest for a convention early next year and everyone had a good time. One character got eaten and another go turned to stone, but the rest made it out (mostly) alive. I think it performs great as a one off given that the pre-generated characters hang together so well and the plot is fairly linear.

I ran it over two nights, about a week apart, and it would have taken us about 4-5 hours all up, including a short explanation about the rules. It's good in that there are some scenes you can remove or add in the second half of the adventure depending on how your timing goes. The length also depends on how much your players like to interact in game.

Generally the scenario performs very well and gives the players a good chance to explore the GUMSHOE system. It took me a little bit of time to get used to the clue mechanic, mostly around the issue of when to suggest a spend, but I think that is something that comes with practice. These players were all used to BRP so they enjoyed the change.

General suggestions would be to be as familiar as possible with the rules and the scenario text. The scenario doesn't always state when you should check for stability, so occasionally I forgot to do that when it was relevant, so that's something to remember. Keep chipping away at that stability. Also remember the characters' drives. I had a great moment when the Detective player realised he couldn't just walk pass the cave mouth because he thought it might be bad...

A couple of my players also suggested some handouts, props or maps for the game would be useful, so that's something I would recommend and I'll work on for the convention.

Hope that helps.

#15 vincentVV

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 12:33 PM

I'm going to run it in a week o two, but, as usual, I twisted it a bit.

 

First I didn't like the idea of Thomas simply and suddenly gone mad. That's why I added a strange city at the other end of plateu - with high cyclopean ;) buildings without doors and strange shapes floating high above. Thomas got into one of those buildings - and something possessed him and melted the key-piece into his body.

 

Then I added a young female-assistant, lost somewhere within the city - just for some pulpiness and to make the scenario a little less railroady, to give players some choices beside the final one.

 

I also removed train carts and other silly-looking pieces and tried to rationalize the way a teleporter works (after all it was built on Earth and should have some logic it it's working process).

 

And the last big change I've made - I twisted the Maw into an underground creeper similar to the ones from the "Tremors" movie. =) Remember those fat worms who reacted to vibrations and burrowed under the surface? That's it.

 

I hope players will like all these things.

 

And I hope somebody here will find them useful too. =)

 

By the way, if you have any ideas of how to develop the above written - I will be glad to read them.



#16 vincentVV

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 09:29 PM

I finally did it.

 

it was a superB 6-hours play with 2 players and lots of fun.

 

Unfortunately, the main moral dilemma did not occur as Thomas Fell was shot  cold-bloodiedly in the head after he refused to tell what he knew. Yet it lead to surprisingly great moment when the players tried to cut the stone out of his body.

 

The male character failed his will roll and turned sick while the female character did it well and made an autopsy with nail scissors. The fun was in a female player clearly disgusted with this action even without a roll itself. =)

 

I also made a little easter egg for players: after they returned home they saw that a nice stone sphere they saw in the house was now broken like an egg shell... hehe... Was something born? So, anyway it was really one of the best games I had.



#17 vincentVV

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 04:35 PM

I hope I'm going to run Murderer once again for a new group in a week or two. And after reviewing the notes I got an interesting idea...

 

One of the main sweets of the adventure is players' connection to Thomas and a tough choices they have to make. But how to make players care?

Some ideas are presented in the adventure itself but they mostly concern players' backgrounds which is not enough I think.

 

My idea is to flesh Thomas out during the game itself!

 

While payers search through his house they will surely see his possessions and things that were dear to him.

So, the first idea is to make players create mini-stories. Something like:

Keeper: Ok, you walk through the corridor. On the walls you see several photographs, many of which depict Thomas himself. One of them catches your eye. It's a photo from 1919 archeological conference where both you and Thomas were invited. Tell us, what it was about and why did you and Thomas remember it so well?

...And so the player tells a little part of Thomas's and his own life.

But it's not about the photos only.

"You remember that Thomas showed you this African statuette several times. What did he tell you about it?"

" A golf cup on a shelf - do you remember it?"

"Necronomignome - you remember Thomas reading this book often. How did he get it and why was it so interesting to him?"

"A smoking pipe. What story ties you, Thomas and this pipe?"

 

And so on. Not much - about 1 or 2 such stories per player will be enough. The idea is - to create an emotional conection between players and Thomas.

 

The second idea is flashbacks, where the players and the Keeper replay some episode from the past, and other players are NPCs for example. An incident while on an expedition to remote island/mountain. A dinner party. Anything where Thomas can become not a distant name but a live character.

 

It's like any NPC. When players meet an NPC for the first time - they don't care at all. But meet him once again later- and the feeling of familiarity will make wonders. =)


Edited by vincentVV, 29 June 2017 - 05:12 PM.


#18 vincentVV

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 09:29 AM

So... I've ran this scenario once again - this time with a pair of players totally new both to RP and Cthulhu.

Everything went great. They got the idea of what to do from the beginning, made some good research in Thomas's house, activated the stone and explored the plateu. Yet in the end they too (as a previous group) disarmed Thomas and after his ranting about Gods, keys ("I am the Key now!") and Gates shot him down. Then they cut out the piece of stone from Thomas without any hesitations (due to some nice done Sanity checks) and finally returned back.

The "flashback" idea I described earlier worked really well.

- You see some photos on the wall. you recognise YOURSELF on one of the photos.
- Uh... What is this photo?
- You tell. What is on this photo and why was it so dear to Thomas?
And then the player told a little story of a photo made in University after the grade exams.

One more thing that worked well was an egg.

When the players searched the house for the first time I told them that on one of the shelves they saw several things: a black wooden african statuette, an emerald frog made of stone, a grey stone sphere, an indian mask, a walrus tusk and so on. Of course the players didn't pay attention at first.

But then they saw Maw's eggs on the plateu - and recognized the discription ("Isn't it the same stone we saw in the house???" hehe...)

And the last blow was delivered in the end, when the players left the house handcuffed (I desided that they while it took them several hours to explore the plateu - in real world 4 days passed, the police was called and when players returned back, dirty, tired and covered in Thomas's blood - they were caught by the police, which led to some nice questioning hard answers) - so, when they left the house I gave them the last discription of the game - a discription of a broken stone ball, lying on the floor. Oh my!..

So, after two games I think "Murderer of Thomas Fell" can become a wonderfull beginning scenario for Cthulhu games, nearly the same as The Haunting, because it has many nice elements: research and investigation, travelling to another dimension, meeting an awful monster and a really hard choice. Of course it has a little different destination than The Haunting (which is mostly about cults and dark sorcery), yet it is still in line with many of Lovecraftian ideas.

So, I had a possibility to make some changes and add some interesting new twists to a scenario (I hope I will keep it gain) - and after all we had a really great time. =).

#19 Tony Williams

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 07:02 PM

Did you play this as ToC or CoC rules ?

 

If you used ToC has your approach changed after your discussion of how ToC works in the "Points and Spends" thread ?


Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#20 Gaffer

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 12:14 PM

Vincent, this sounds great, especially your ending.
"Two in the head, you know he's dead." <heh-heh>