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Pagan Call - Cthulhu Dark Ages

Dark Ages

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#1 Bran

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 12:20 PM

I am beginning the Pagan Call campaign for Cthulhu Dark Ages in the next 2 weeks and I had two questions for anyone out there that has been a player or Keeper for this:

 

1) Any advice for running this campaign? This will be the first campaign that I have ran for Call of Cthulhu, and even though I have ran campaigns for other game systems, I just want any advice from others that have ran this particular campaign, in case there are hidden issues within the scenarios.

 

2) Has anyone ever done their own ending to it? I plan to write my own once I cross that bridge, but for now, I wouldn't mind hearing anything that other Keepers have improvised to end it. While researching the campaign, I read that many have just ended on the last scenario to wait for the official ending.

 

Thanks!




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#2 wombat1

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 02:56 PM

Cthulhu Dark Ages and Cthulhu Invictus both have a different weapons dynamic than classic Call of Cthulhu, I think.  Many of the smaller Mythos creatures have enough armor that they cannot be damaged by many of the hand weapons that are going to be available to the investigators, except by reference to the strength damage bonus, if any.  This requires investigators to play a more thoughtful, cautious game.  Players who like to make combat-oriented adventurers and reach for the smackdown first, a la more classic swords and sorcery games are going to be disappointed. (I speak from experience in this.)

 

Otherwise, I have had good results for Keeper-ing by thinking of this as a mystery game rather than a horror game. The players, of course, hope to be given a good horror story, but I think that comes from empathy with their investigators, and the idea that those characters in the story are realizing that things are not as they were meant to be.  The investigator point-of-view on the other hand, begins with a puzzle that must be solved, and proceeds to the dawning realization that the puzzle cannot be solved by rational means--the world is dysfunctional, or malfunctional or functioning in a way imperfectly perceived. 



#3 Bran

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 09:44 PM

Yes, I am planning on utilizing additional details to allow the players multiple ways to defeat some of the smaller entities, mostly by using their intelligence and planning tactics. I do plan on having elements of sword-and-sorcery, but the campaign will be ran as-is. Several of the players are approaching it with experience from playing D&D, but are fully aware of the dangers of repeating similar actions in this game. Boosting the characters slightly for extended play and catering slightly for their needs to feel more heroic. 



#4 wombat1

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 12:56 AM

 Boosting the characters slightly for extended play and catering slightly for their needs to feel more heroic. 

One way you  might accomplish that is to allow either the roll of an extra set of 3d6, and allow the swapping out of a lower score for the 3d6 scores.  You might also allow the swapping of INT and SIZ (but they are stuck with EDU at 3d6+3).

One of the editions of Runequest allowed for the roll of 4d6 drop the lowest one for the equivalent of the 3d6 scores.  That might be a good thing too.



#5 Bran

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 10:34 AM

Yes, that will definitely help. I was originally considering an option of CON + SIZ for double hit points, but the alteration of Characteristic generation will help boost additional features (such as Damage Bonus). While I still plan to make the game horror, this approach will still give it a Derleth or especially a Howard approach to the campaign, with elements of Pulp adventure.

 

Does anyone have experience with the campaign they wish to share?



#6 bishop026

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 08:21 PM

I ran the whole miniseries/campaign up to the draft "Shadow Tower". That was in early 2014.

 

What do you want to know?

 

Unless your group is used to power fantasy RPGing I wouldn't make it easier. What's the point of playing CoC if you're going to make combat easier? I'd just tell people to have a second back up character as it's lethal.

 

The Fall of Guthlac Abbey is the first, right?

 

And by ending you're talking about the unfinished part? Gesbert told me about the idea for the ending he had but they never finished it and got busy with other things. Keep in mind they put a lot of time into those scenarios and put them up for free to promote CDA.


My gaming blog with pretty pictures and then some: http://storytellersjem.blogspot.com/

#7 Bran

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 11:30 AM

In particular, I was mostly concerned with whether the scenarios had any plot issues, or whether there are issues with the writing. So far, from what I read, the campaign seems to be well-written. I'm looking for anything that could be negative, similar to many of the issues Keepers have with Shadows of Yog-Sothoth. 

 

I'm making combat slightly easier, only because my players are here to play a story. While I am not completely eliminating the threat of death, I want my players to feel more heroic, like Conan. Yes, I get it... It's Call of Cthulhu. But there are different styles of play, and mine tend to be pulp. I don't need to kill off my players' characters to inspire horror in them. I have many other tricks up my sleeve. 

 

And yes, The Fall of Guthlac Abbey is first, which seems to have a great murder-mystery feel to it. I already have so much visualization in my head. Did running all the monk NPCs work smoothly? Was there any issues with that?

 

And lastly, yes, the unfinished scenario: Return to Guthlac Abbey. What was the idea for the end? I've gotten a few pieces from the scenarios, and obviously the characters return to the Abbey, and it deals with the villain's ceremony.

 

Thanks.



#8 bishop026

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 07:29 PM

They're all well written. Your group should be appreciative of clue trails or they will get less out of it.

 

If they have armor that should be more than enough for combat.

 

But if you're going to make combat easier I personally feel your experience and mine won't match now so I'm reluctant to give input as it would be inaccurate.


My gaming blog with pretty pictures and then some: http://storytellersjem.blogspot.com/

#9 Bran

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 09:53 PM

I'd still be open to your input.

 

Making combat easier is only one option. Once again, I wasn't even thinking about armor, which is beneficial. I might not even alter combat, as having higher characteristics, weapon skills, and wearing armor would probably be sufficient. 

 

So tell me more. I am very interested in hearing how your campaign went.



#10 bishop026

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 08:14 AM

SPOILERS: The first one isn't really much of a combat scenario so why buff players up? I mean all my players showed up in the best armor b/c we were using the 6E rules that had some issues with economics so players just chose a rich person each time. I made the three lilums more powerful with regeneration and let them ignore most armor. But they were still beings that sexually had their way with them when they slept and haunted them and such. It was a gradual process.

 

I even gave the villain at the end the ability to summon a demon with the lilums to make the boss battle challenging. I think one player died and two were really hurt yet they prevailed.

 

The last written scenario is a likely TPK to sort of save the world and a total TPK to destroy the world. My general feeling is that if your PCs cannot handle this aspect you should be playing heroic power fantasy RPGs.

 

The first scenario is a good 12-20 hours depending on various factors. I'd run that first and really dig into the setting and not rush things. Milk the scenes and let the players go from there.

 

I think I added tunnels under the the abbey b/c the players kept searching the beaches as they were certain there were tunnels. So the lilums waited for them and tunnels were so narrow they had to take off their armor. Then the water ran and SAN checks started and the lilums could go through rock to mentally torture them.

 

I made Dean Mark less obvious as a villain. He begged the group to solve it and kept wiping his forehead with a handkerchief explaining he could not take the stress. I took out the one element that made him the likely villain as I felt it was too obvious as I run for advanced CoC players. I created a red herring abbey official who was the likely culprit, too.

 

That's all for now. I invested a good 60+ hours in all of those scenarios and they were well written.


My gaming blog with pretty pictures and then some: http://storytellersjem.blogspot.com/

#11 wombat1

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 06:59 PM

SPOILERS: The first one isn't really much of a combat scenario so why buff players up? I mean all my players showed up in the best armor b/c we were using the 6E rules that had some issues with economics so players just chose a rich person each time. I made the three lilums more powerful with regeneration and let them ignore most armor. But they were still beings that sexually had their way with them when they slept and haunted them and such. It was a gradual process.

 

This raises an interesting point, especially as I am interested in CDA and still running on 6th (with no plans of a changeover).  Would the problem of 'rich character every time' be solved by introducing from some fantasy RPG (e.g. Chivalry and Sorcery) a social status roll that places the character's family at random (or lets them default to free yeoman or free townsman), and precludes the choice.  If they don't like their roll, they can pay character development points (interest or education ones, doesn't matter for the argument) to have a free choice.  If it is "good to be the King" or his grand-nephew, then shell out for the privilege and don't whine when he turns out to be Bertram de Wooster.  This removes some of the player agency we usually find in CoC career choice, but solves the problem, I think.



#12 Bran

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Posted 16 March 2015 - 10:59 AM

Thank you for the information. It will e quite useful with the campaign.



#13 bishop026

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Posted 16 March 2015 - 08:39 PM

You're welcome.


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#14 Bran

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 10:34 AM

I will probably continue to post in this topic with what I find while running the campaign. This weekend my players are making their characters, and we will be starting with The Fall of Guthlac Abbey the weekend after.



#15 wombat1

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 04:30 PM

I would look forward to hearing it.  Perhaps you should consider starting a little blog on this site chronicling your experience and those of the heroes of the campaign.



#16 Bran

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 11:32 PM

I think I will start a blog, which I have never done before, but I will wait until after a few sessions to make such a commitment. For now, I will post it here for those that are interested and allows interested Keepers to read my input on the scenarios as I run them. I will probably post this weekend to show what characters my players have created. I was fortunate to be a play tester for the second edition of CDA, so I plan to utilize that material to test the 7th edition rules on a campaign.



#17 Bran

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Posted 30 March 2015 - 10:58 PM

Well, I ran the first session over the weekend. Rather short, as we all have other responsibilities, plus the players needed to finish last minute details for their characters. The scenario started off well, but once they were given free reign it began to unravel. Mostly due to the overwhelming number of monks within that I need to keep track of. They also came to a dead end with the investigation on the first day, so I ran a few creepy encounters hinting at another sinister force within the monastery. That was enough to creep them out. I actually ended with one of the player's character jumping awake after a nightmare to hear scratching at the door. He slowly went to open it, only to find nothing but darkness on the other side. I ended it there.

 

The next session, I plan to introduce the Abbot's cat, to suggest that the cat was the cause. I'm spending my time memorizing more of the monks, and gathering more info to plan out the next session. Probably by day three, I will begin to have monks disappear. One already has by virtue of the story, and two more are expected just by the events detailed, but soon the monastery is going to feel quite abandoned. Should begin to make the players feel tense.



#18 wombat1

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Posted 31 March 2015 - 12:51 AM

Hmm, as for keeping track of the monks and the player characters:

 

If I were Keepering, I would make a somewhat larger map of the monastery, and keep it on a small table next to me.  I would then take a stack of notecards, and write the particulars of each monk on an individual card.  Some, like the Abbot, will be quite detailed,  Some will simply say, "Brother Ahab, a monk,"  "Brother Beehab, a monk," and have very little detail.  I would also cut one corner off of each card (same corner on each) having written the name a second time, so that I have a counter.  Brother Ahab thus has a card, off to one side on a table, and a counter, which I can place on my map of the monastery. The player characters also have a card and a counter.  As folks move around the monastery, one moves the counters.  One then only has to worry about a few of the monks (the ones in sight of the player characters, or the ones being bothered by Mythos-y problems) but can spot at a glance where the rest of them are.


Edited by wombat1, 31 March 2015 - 12:52 AM.


#19 bishop026

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Posted 31 March 2015 - 05:19 AM

You're off to a good start.

 

If you aren't going to use a lot of pics (I used pics for everyone and put them on my IPad to show during game) then what Wombat said.

 

Your group sounds new to clue trail games so going slow works well.


My gaming blog with pretty pictures and then some: http://storytellersjem.blogspot.com/

#20 Bran

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 11:43 AM

Thank you for the advice. I will implement what I can for the next session and see if that helps.







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