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Dark Ages - whose playing it, where and how?

Dark Ages

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#1 ReydeAmarillo

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 06:49 PM

Having rushed to buy CDA when it first came out in the UK I was truly impressed and inspired by it, but since then have never found a use for it.

I loved the whole feel of the setting - especially the Nameless Mist/Limbo/Hell links and the feeling that entities were literally summoned from Outside!

Some of the critters were a bit strange or seemed out of place - Mi Go and those worm things that inhabit a body (sorry forgotten the name) as examples. But Lilith, vampires, werewolves, Old Ones, Umr at-Tawil, Ancient Ones and the luminous fairy critters (again forgotten the name and don't have the book with me) etc were fantastic!!

I also loved the split between Mythos and folk magic - it just felt right.

I toyed for a while with a "Mythos Fairy story" campaign - taking Grimms/Disney fairy tales and putting a sinister Mythos twist on them. But, as I said it just never happened.

I'd love to hear what other Keepers have made of CDA and how you are running campaigns in that setting??


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#2 eternalchampion

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 09:06 PM

Well I also like the setting and I think the diabolical powers of Mythos are an excellent match with the superstition-hunted world of the Dark Ages Europe, as well as the religious fear of damnation and the fear of the end of days that were omnipresent. We have played with the group the Viking adventure form “Caligo Accedendum” monograph which they liked and afterwards I run the “Pagan Call” free campaign up to the point that it was discontinued and we dropped it there. That was a pity.



#3 wombat1

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 09:15 PM

I ran the scenario in the book, mainly as a prequel to a 1920's game I had in mind, but since everyone initially thought it was a one-off, it went down very well.  It was especially popular when one of the 'power-gamers' of our club wandered in, put everything he could into melee combat related skills, and took no archery skills.  A mi-go might have been vulnerable to such a character, if it were unable to fly.  As it were, the beastie simply stood just outside of sword point and taunted the investigator.

 

Were I to crank up just straight up fantasy role playing again, I would rely on it heavily for that, coupled with the social material out of Chivalry and Sorcery.  Whether there would be a Mythos twist could remain an open question--it would be useful either way. Also, were I to crank up my Invictus campaign again, I would find myself drawing on it for one of those creatures, and I found it a useful reference as well.

 

Looking at it from a setting point of view, the idea of Germany in the 900's is a refreshing twist from the usual medieval role playing fare, so that is a plus.


Edited by wombat1, 06 November 2014 - 09:16 PM.


#4 Hexelis

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 10:33 PM

We played Pagan Call a long time ago. We set Averoigne in 1000ad and used Nephilim charcters. We played Vikings out of Mythic Iceland. And we currently have an ongoing game using the Abbey. We love CDA.


Oh yeah, once we had a Timelord in the Dark Ages too!



#5 fox01313

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 10:34 PM

There are a handful of monographs for the setting but not a lot of stuff heard about it over Invictus. Here's one & the other books listed below it show the other Dark Ages books. Also if you want I think there might be some in the Strange Aeons books.

 

http://rpg.drivethru...s=0_0_44826_0_0


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#6 Rayven

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 11:07 PM

I may have to look a little into Dark Ages....I've heard of it but not yet read anything or played any of it. Material does seem a little sparse but maybe I am looking in the wrong places. :S



#7 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 11:59 PM

Despite liking a lot of it, I think the support for the line fell down in the scenario department. Instead of the one medium-largescenario in the core book—a scenario which relies on a particular set of assumptions about character types and playstyle—they should've tried for three or four in the Haunting/Edge of Darkness model. (I mean, how many DG games would've floundered if the core book only had 'Convergence' in it?)

 

 

The core then should've been followed up with a collection of independent scenarios—'Abbeys of Madness' or the like—and maybe a campaign if sales had been okay. Without scenarios to draw from, there's a hefty amount of research each GM needs to make before even deciding where to set their scenario ideas, and that's a big time investment compared to the 20s, or a wholly fictional world. 

 

 

 

Cthulhu Invictus, on the other hand, seems to be doing well in the support department, thanks in large part to Oscar Rios's interest in it.


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#8 Mysterioso

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 12:14 AM


The_Tatterdemalion_King said: Cthulhu Invictus, on the other hand, seems to be doing well in the support department, thanks in large part to Oscar Rios's interest in it.

 

 

I'd argue Oscar Rios and his writing of so much support material is the prime reason CI has done as well as it has done.  CDA needs someone as passionate about it.  And I'd argue that Cthulhu by Gaslight will founder again if it does not get someone as passionate behind it too.


Edited by Mysterioso, 07 November 2014 - 12:14 AM.


#9 WinstonP

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 12:35 AM

If anyone wants to start an eZine focusing on Dark Ages (or Gaslight for that matter) I'd be happy to tell you how I did it for Lovecraft Country.
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#10 SquibblyDibbly

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 03:11 PM

I've used Cthulhu Dark Ages as a cross over to introduce D&D players to Call of Cthulhu. This even got to the point of telling players it was a historical game using the Runequest rules. About half way through the game some of those players who were better read cottoned on that the adventure was Mythos orientated, but they all told me they enjoyed it.

 

To run it I wrote a scenario from scratch where the Player Characters were part of the crew of a Viking raiding ship. It was largely a Dark Ages version of the story Dagon, and had more combat than a conventional game of Call of Cthulhu but there were some elements of investigation.

 

I found it necessary to make up pre-generated characters for the players - firstly because I could not be sure of their own historical knowledge, and secondly because I did not want characters with 100% sword skill. This was bound to happen if I left them to make up their own characters, and in viking society its not unreasonable to judge weapon skills as more important than others.

 

The game went really well as a one off but I'm not sure how I could have developed it as a campaign. Its strong points were its unique setting and the surprise that it was actually a Call of Cthulhu game in disguise. Going beyond that there seemed a limited possibilities for a bunch of hairy sword weilding vikings.

 

I'm hoping one day to move on to writing a game set during the Crusades using the Dark Ages rules. My plan is to make the PC's part of the Knights Templar and use that organisation as a source of missions. This seems to be one of the strengths of Cthulhu Dark Ages - being able to adapt the rules to different time periods and settings.


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#11 golfsale

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 04:32 PM

Pagan Call is the Masks of Nyarlathotep of Cthulhu Dark Ages, even though it's incomplete. My players still ask me when the next instalment is coming out. The scenario in the CDA rulebook is too long and uses an overused monster. I wasn't impressed by the scenario in The Book of Dark Wisdom. I didn't realise that Caligo Accedendum would be so tournament-specific. It's a shame that Worlds of Cthulhu didn't publish an Averoigne scenario to go with all their background articles. I adapted the film Black Death to CDA; it seemed to work alright. One of my friends played in someone else's CDA game and got bored stiff; he would rather have been playing D&D.



#12 cjbowser

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 10:40 PM

The second edition of CDA should hopefully address some of the past concerns.


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#13 Rayven

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 11:54 PM

Well in the meanwhile I'll remain hopeful to see improvments and expansions. All my experience so far with All Cthulhu models seems to simply say that each system is immensly fun if presented correctly. I enjoy the differences though my players are ready to throttle their keeper right now for testing out so many different things at once rather then finishing out any one set, so that I have about four games running at any given time with between two to six players in each setting. *L* I'm learning though and despite complaints about the alternating systems every few weeks right now all my players are hapily giving feed back about what they like and hate about each setting which is really helping me build better games over all. Where as with more familiar and older systems we were using everyone seemed to be getting sort of board, feed back had pretty much ceased. I love the increased interest and questions.



#14 ReydeAmarillo

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 07:32 AM

The second edition of CDA should hopefully address some of the past concerns.


That's good to know that this is still being proposed, but do we have any steer from Chaosium as to when??

And has it retained the Nameless Mist/Limbo and Folk magic rules which imho set it apart from any other CoC era?

If so, then Pavlov's Dog-like salivations are increasing......!!

#15 binderoftheunboundbook

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 08:40 AM

Don't mean to 'toot my own horn', but I've banged together a mini supplement for CDA focused on Britain around 1000AD (http://www.unboundbo...rg/?page_id=231). I also have the outline for a full CDA campaign floating about, however I'll unlike ever get that up to scratch to release anywhere...

 

Marcus


Edited by binderoftheunboundbook, 09 November 2014 - 08:52 AM.

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#16 golfsale

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 01:44 PM

Bene facis, Marce.

 

That looks interesting and useful.

 

For background reading I used The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction by John Blair (Oxford University Press, 2000; 90 pages, illustrated).

 

Just one correction: "Æthelred the Unready". That is the usual mistranslation. "Æthelræd Unræd" is actually a pun on his name ("Noble-Counsel No-Counsel").


Edited by golfsale, 09 November 2014 - 02:19 PM.


#17 cjbowser

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 03:39 PM

That's good to know that this is still being proposed, but do we have any steer from Chaosium as to when??

And has it retained the Nameless Mist/Limbo and Folk magic rules which imho set it apart from any other CoC era?

If so, then Pavlov's Dog-like salivations are increasing......!!


It's actually quite far along with the publisher right now. As for content, the only thing removed was the scenario and a few small things here or there.

Instead, it adds much more focus on a particular region to give keepers something to work with. It even has an fleshed out burh along the lines of Arhkam Unveiled.

I figured I might as well put my graduate work in Old English to work.

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#18 binderoftheunboundbook

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 09:50 PM

It's actually quite far along with the publisher right now. As for content, the only thing removed was the scenario and a few small things here or there.

Instead, it adds much more focus on a particular region to give keepers something to work with. It even has an fleshed out burh along the lines of Arhkam Unveiled.

I figured I might as well put my graduate work in Old English to work.

 

As someone who has had the previlege of reading Chad's CDA 2nd edition, I'd have to say that it is a winner!

 

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#19 PangurBan

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 09:15 AM

Hello everyone, I am a Keeper from Italy. Since now, me and my players have run adventures mostly in the Gaslight setting, but in a few days we're going to start the first scenario from Pagan Call (and then *maybe* we'll continue to the whole campaign).

 

I am very curious about this setting. In the past few weeks, I have been doing some research about medieval monasticism in the Anglo-Saxon world, and how everyday life was in medieval abbeys. Picking up ideas for recipes, clothing, daily activities, world views, methods for washing things, cooking, heating, timekeeping, etc. ..

 

Some of my players aren't happy with the setting because it is "normally" filled with superstition, magic, devils.. and so there won't be the contrast between science-rationality and the Mythos, which the modern settings (and maybe Lovecraft's writings themselves) put in focus. Some others are (positively) curious like me.

I find that the horror which CoC tries to convey is deeply linked with the unknown and some general traits of human psychology related to it, so that the absence of rationality and scientific knowledge and the general precarity of life in the Middle Ages can only strengthen it. In addition, from my point of view the ancient abbey, with its walls of stone and its low background chanting, its silence in the stormy weather, its lighting by candles and shadowy corners, fits perfectly with the atmosphere that every Keeper dreams of!

 

Regarding the scenario, I found it very intriguing and well written. I am running it (mostly following CDA rules) with some minor additions and changes.

- I have heavily reduced the number of npcs because knowing my players, it would be a threat to my SAN to have them questioning some 30-40 novices and lay brothers about where they were and what they were doing that evening, .... :D

- I am adding some scenic AND practical details for almost every place in the abbey, e.g. pictures in the churches with scenes from (the actual) Saint Guthlac's life as it is told by chroniclers, as well as the general appearance and usage of the necessaria, etc.

- I listed weekly shifts for the monks' occupations for two weeks;

- I have planned an ideal daily occurrence of events and shift in the story, but just as an aid, of course I will change them according to players' actions and choices, the way they fit better with the flow. 

I am thinking about modifying just a couple of events which seem improbable to me [SPOILER-- e.g. the assault on monks by one or two "lilims" in the dormitory: it would instantly wake up everyone there since they sleep in the same room, with lights up and an awake and alert "nightwatch monk" in proximity!].

 

Any further ideas? :)


Edited by PangurBan, 15 November 2014 - 09:33 AM.

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#20 eternalchampion

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 04:24 PM

Hi Pangur, I agree that the Dark Ages setting fits CoC horror very well. People were full of superstition but where also terrified by the seemingly unnatural and everything they could not understand or even see. Fear of the dark was stronger then during the night all good people had to stay home with their family.

As of the Pagan Call campaign I mostly used it as it was. Even the many NPCs in the Abbey was not a problem since most of them had not a clue of what was going on and were too afraid of the Abbey hierarchy and that was made obvious soon. Also, I think I remember the night attack. I used it as it was since the creatures had become more confident and were always eager to do their vile work. They could rely on their stealth abilities to stay out of sight in the darkened high ceiling of the common bed-hall.

The players liked this scenario very much as well as the whole campaign up to the “Tower” which was the last we have played.

Anyway, if you do decide to continue the campaign maybe you could also post your version of the missing chapter of it.







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