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Dead Light Scenario - Recap and notes - Spoiler Alert

CoC 7e New to Cthulhu

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#1 cyenobite

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 07:35 PM

Hello Cultists!

I ran a game last night at my LGS (Local Game Store), using the Dead Light Scenario, and thought I would post a recap here, that it might help other new Keepers.

Spoiler Alert - if you plan on PLAYING this, do not continue to read, I'll be giving away major plot points.

Also apologies for such a long winded post! :)


So, I'm going to also be a little frank in my review of this scenario as I found a few things lacking and some mistakes (at least I interpreted them as mistakes). I want to be clear though, I very much enjoyed this scenario, and my critiques here is meant in the form of "constructive criticism" :) Also - I am a NEW Keeper, so some of these "faults" may be my own short comings. 

 

Ok...

1) Bluntly... Price. Were it not for the fact that my game last night was so enjoyable, I might be a little upset at the $10 price for this one scenario. The booklet is only about 10 pages (not including some full page maps and NPC Character sheets). But again, I'm new, so maybe this is a typical price to pay for one scenario? (or maybe if I had bought a PDF version it would have been cheaper). As I said, we all enjoyed the game, and it lasted approx 4 hours, so $10 is a small price to pay in that sense!

 

2) a few errors I found upon reading. For a published piece, I didn't expect to find these sorts of errors. Two worth mentioning... 1) pg 5 says that in the Diner is "Walter the pump jockey" - Yet on page 11 where it lists the NPC's who are in the diner, Walter is not mentioned. Walter was never mentioned again, so I assumed it was a mistake. 2) This was hard for me to wrap my head around... We're told that the "Dead Light" was after Emilia. Our investigators meet Emilia right at the outset, and it's even suggested that one of the players might catch a glimpse of the deadlight out in the woods (which I did). But then in the next "scene" the players come upon a Truck in the middle of the road in front of the diner, where a "pig farmer" is talking about almost hitting the "dead light" - I couldn't figure out how the Dead Light could basically be in two places at one time (or at least speedily pass the Players as they were driving to get in front of them at the diner. So, I changed the story around a bit, to use it as a "red herring" that the Pig Farmer saw something "white" and then IF the players decided to pursue that lead or chase it down in the woods, I was going to have it be a white Coyote. 

 

Alright, moving past those minor critiques to the FUN part! :)

As I mentioned, this turned into a pretty interesting scenario the way the events unfolded.

I had my players meet Emilia in the road (I had them make a Drive Auto Check, to see if they hit her - they did, but I only had them give her a minor d4 HP loss). And as I mentioned above, I had one player see a glimpse of "something" out in the woods, but they weren't sure if it was a trick of the light, or an animal. (foreshadowing that they're not alone). 

On the map, They had to drive PAST the driveway to Emilia's Cottage... I mentioned this, that as they drove past it Emilia was staring frightfully at the driveway. They initially wanted to go straight to the Cottage (which I was not prepared for that option). Luckily, I had Emilia's health and safety become more important and told them there was a Diner up ahead. 

 

The Diner scene was hard for me to manage as there was a lot going on! Introduction of 4-5 NPC's, the current story of the Pig Farmer and his truck, not to mention trying to stabilize and comfort Emilia to the point where she could relay more about what she had just experienced.
I hinted several times that the waitress (Mary) seemed nervous and irritated. But after some "herding of cats" I got all the important information out that need to be given to keep the story moving. 

The whole time this is happening, I wasn't sure how to use or when to introduce the "Billy" character. I initially planned on having him hide in the garage, but when my players got to the cottage, that was the first place they investigated. I didn't want him to be introduced to soon, so I held off. It eventually became clear that "someone" was still out there, and I liked holding that over the players heads for a sense that they had to still be careful. 

The house investigation went smoothly. Minor sanity was lost, and I didn't make them work too hard to find the journal in Dr. Webb's Study. At first I was upset, that the scenario did NOT provide the "instructions" on how to control the Dead Light. But I figured, well, if I want the players to discover these "instructions" then I would have to make them myself. So I did. And I have to admit, I had fun in making them.
(I'll post a link so as to share).

I was having a hard time of figuring out, how to introduce the Deadlight that would make sense. It was chasing Emilia. They had left her in the diner, while they went to investigate the cottage. So what I ended up doing, was that when they finished investigating the Cottage and coming up with a plan of "attack" they were basically going BACK to the Diner. When they arrived at the Diner, I had them discover the remains of Emilia (they Deadlight got her), and I had them arrive to a DARK Diner (power outage), where Mary (the Waitress) and Billy (the second burglar) had stolen the keys from Sam (gas station guy), and then locked up the elderly couple, as well as Sam in a back Storage/Closet (which I added to the map). When the investigators freed the 3, I had them explain that Mary and Billy escaped in Sam's car. (The pig farmer I was going to have also be a victim of the Dead light, but no one ever asked about him). 

Finally...
I gave the investigators 4 options to end the scenario... but let them work it out, I didn't give them all the options verbally.
1) run and leave
2) using the instructions they would have to SACRIFICE someone (either an NPC or one of themselves!)
3) Fight the monster using fire (which I expected them to choose but they didn't)
4) Fight the monster with electricity (the book hinted as this being a way to defeat the monster, but it was very hard to introduce this idea to the players, so they never even knew this was an option.

It was a brilliant tense moment when they all realized that THEY would have to be the ones to sacrifice someone. 
I let them have PLENTY of time (maybe too much?) to work out all the possible options. 
They kept re-reading my instructions, looking for "loopholes" on how they could get away with not actually sacrificing anyone (thankfully my instructions were solid). In the end, one of the players DID volunteer to sacrifice himself! (although he was visiting from out of town and didn't really have plans on returning except for maybe around Christmas). So not quite as meaningful, but still it was a challenge for him. Finally, one of the other players got frustrated (in a good way) and stepped up and said he was going to sacrifice the little old lady. It was very tense (and I enjoyed every bit of it). TWO of my players wanted nothing to do with sacrificing anyone! They ended up staying out in the parking lot, and actually succeeded on hot-wiring the older couple's car, and they drove away leaving the other 3 players to figure it out. The other 3 players were not happy at being abandoned, but I loved it as a story line. 
They successfully followed my instructions, and re-captured the Dead Light in the Silver box. I had fun making them loose a minimum of 5 SAN for having gone through that. I had them roll randomly for a Phobia, and my Private Eye player, ended up getting "Fear of Firearms" - lol

So a fun night. Lots of Sanity was lost. A few HP were lost from the Storm and a small car crash, but lots of good interaction among the players and they really struggled with learning about what the Doctor was using the Dead Light for. 

Maybe my notes above will help another new Keeper work out some of the issues I had to.

I am posting my Instruction handout here:
https://www.dropbox....ut d1a.pdf?dl=0

PS> I actually made them DRAW both symbols... because it was very simple but tricky! If I had been a cruel keeper, I would of had them fail on their first attempt, but I am too nice and gave them 3 chances. ;)

 




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#2 Pazuzu

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 07:58 PM

You did a good job, I must say! Good points about the scenario, too. :-D


"A tentacle for your thoughts."

#3 vincentVV

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:28 PM

I was nearly ready to run this scenario for my group, when I thought about one thing essencial for the plot.

The reason for using DL by Dr. Webb.

What I mean:

We have a premise that Dr. Webb helped rich families to get rid of unwanted children. How could that be done without raising too much suspicions?

First, women could come to Webb a few weeks after they noted their pregnancy. In this case he could perform a standart abortion procedure. The fetus dies anyway. But how could women know their children were corrupted?

Second, women could arrive to Dr. Webb to give birth to a child under his monitoring and if the child is corrupted - it can be killed. This looks more or less logical exept fo the fact that I don't think it is easy to hide a 9-month pregnancy from surrounding people.

Third, women could birth children somewhere else and arrive to Webb to get rid of corrupted children. This is even more bizzare and unlogical due to the simple fact that the child is already born - so at least doctore and nurses at the hospital saw and maybe even REGISTERED it.

And above all this - in any of the thre cases there is no need to use some strange unknown and deadly thing ony to get rid of childrens' remains! I think that living far from big cities Webb could use lots of ways of disposing of remains starting from simply buring them in a nearest forest and ending with feeding them to dogs or wild animal.

- It looks like: " we need to hammer the nail!
- ok. We can use a hammer or a crowbar or a stone for it but LET'S USE A FRAG GRENADE INSTEAD!

So, this idea spoiled my whole preparation for the game. Tell me, is it my logic wrapped and twisted or are your players so unatentive? =(

#4 cyenobite

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:16 PM

I believe you raise valid points Vincent.

But personally I wouldn't let that sort of 'logic' ruin a fun scenario here.

I can offer maybe two solutions that might help you?

1) A movie sense where you have to have a "suspension of disbelief" - ie: it might not make logical sense as a form of body disposal, but this is a 'Call of Cthulhu' scenario, so in this world it does make sense.
2) Perhaps related to the same above... another way to 'justify' it is to to say that Dr. Webb has zero Sanity (or a very small amount), and that in his warped mind, the DL is the best solution. Sort of a "mad scientist" feel to it.
3) I just thought of another possible explanation... perhaps the DL has corrupted Dr. Webb's mind into forcing him to make these sacrifices to it, otherwise the DL will kill him (or Emelia?).

Just some ideas for you to consider. I've run this scenario a couple times now and it's been fun for myself and the players each time.

#5 vincentVV

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:51 PM

Hmmm... Well, I'm afraid, I and my players need logic. =)

 

Motives, behavior and abilities of DL can have no explanation and logic - and that's OK because it is an otherworldly being (although the Keeper, IMHO, HAS to know all this in order to manipulate DL in a realistic and convincing manner).

 

But motives, behavior and way of thinking concerning Dr Webb - must be clear to players. They have to understand what he did and why he did it to understand him as a person. Was he a mad nazi doctor with 0 sanity who deserves no mercy? Was he a genius physician whose evil acts where backed by his thirst for science? Was he a victim of a DL manipulations who HAD to feed DL in order to save himself and Emilia?

 

Upon this depends the players' attitude towards him. What should players feel? Hatered? Pity? Respect?

 

That's why I want to find explanations (already found some while writing, actually =) but maybe there are more?), that's why i need logic.

 

 

Hm.. I thought about another point. He opend the casket in order for DL to feed. This means that no mothers where present during the process! So, they brought their children to him and left them and the money to Webb. Well, if other doctors (who were present during births) and family members were able to keep their mouths shut - than it's ok for everyone.

 

Even more. In this case Webb could do anything he liked with children - put them in a jar with alcohol, dig them down in a forest or, as he did  feed the DL.

 

Why would he feed the DL who is shut down in a casket?

- because otherwise the next time he unleashes DL it can eat him as well due to hunger;

- because he worships DL as a diety of sort and feeding is a ritual - maybe in exchange for longevity?

- because he studies DL and its abilities to find its usefulness for medcine;

- because DL was a kind of pet for Webb (maybe Webb has a collection of newspapers clips with mentions of strange dissapearances or unexplained deaths - of the ones who was not good to Webb or Emlia);

- because ... I don't have any more interesting explanations for now. =)

 

By the way, an idea of nazi docotor Webb and his experiments looks rather interesting for this scenario.

 

Oh, and one more idea - I'm going to include a room in a basement with a heavy door (like in banks) and a strange engine inside - instead of the casket. This will give the PCs another option - to lure DL back in room (made safe by Webb to keep DL there) and lock it up again.

 

Oofff... Thanks for inspiration! I think now I can move on with this scenario! =)


Edited by vincentVV, 13 September 2017 - 04:57 PM.


#6 cyenobite

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:04 PM

Oofff... Thanks for inspiration! I think now I can move on with this scenario! =)

 

Perfect! :)



#7 MasterFwiffo

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 05:44 PM

It's simpl. These are children who were born normally then developed corruption. As to why they don't get asked questions? It's farmland in the 1920/. Kids get sick, and then sometimes die. These weren't unwanted children, they were tainted - presumably by mythos elements. This is the same reason you would use something like the dead light to remove them - if they are mythos tainted, normal means of getting rid of them may not work.

And keep in mind, it's not like he's doing it weekly. It was something like 15 times over 30 years.

It makes sense.

#8 vincentVV

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 06:46 PM

Hm... WARNING!

 

Before playing this scenario make sure that your players are ok with themes of abortions and desposing of "wrong" children - some players, especially female, may not accept it well.

 

The problem is that it is one of the main revelations of the scenario, so either change it or make sure all players are ok with it.

 

I'm glad I raised this question with one of my female players beforehand.



#9 vincentVV

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 10:15 PM

I did it. =)

 

Well, first I changed the scenario... a lot. And it went this way...

 

!!!Spoilers warning!!!

 

 

Intro.

 

It is 1967, somewhere in the Maine...

 

My players decided that they wanted to play a psychologist and a catholic priest. They were off to check an asylum inmate who (supposedly) was possessed by demons. A really nice idea of their own which not only gave them reason to move along the road but also allowed for a nice plot twist for me!

 

So, I started with handing them a letter from an asylum signed by a director. In a letter is a 2-page recap of a case: someone Charles Walls (any name can suit) was firs committet to asylum 5 years ago after he sudenly went insane and aggressive. He then became normal and was released, but 2 years later he was imprisoned and charged with a murder of his wife. While staying in an asylum he had violent outbursts two more times. He told about Lux Aeternum and about joining the god's light. There were several medical words, doctor's assumptions and so on. So, the PCs were driving to an asylum when a hard storm emerged.

 

(here I messed up a little - I found a great 2-hour sound of a hard storm, but I didn't manage to download it by the time of a game. So sad. (((( )

 

Well, the PCs are driving when suddeny something white jumped in the car lights! The driving test was ok, so Emylia (that was she) was not harmed. She was horrified and told that 2 guys broke into her home, wounded her dad but she managed to run away.

 

The players comforted her as best as they could and drove to the gas station. There one of the PC was left in a car with a girl and another went in diner to call a police.

Inside he met a waitress, an old couple and a farmer who was a litle agitated because of tree that fell across the road (the one to the asylum of course) and nearle struck his car.

 

(It was rather difficult to persuade players that nothing could be done with the tree untill the next mornng at least - they wated to move on at low speed and remove the tree by themselves!)

 

The police responded and told that they would send a patrol car.

 

And here all came to a halt. With the girl inside the car the PCs simply desided to wait for a police! =) So I had the girl move the action by stating that her father needed help and if the PCs won't go and check - she would go herself! The players tried to use persuade skill - but, luckily, failed.=)

 

The girl went alone under the rain, and they in the end picked her up and drove to the mansion.

 

They approached the mansion, got inside, found the bodies, a strange casket, a hidden closed safe in the wall... and decided to return to the gas station!!! *facepalm*

 

But when they went outside - they found their car tires burned and useless. Besides, they saw some light inside the house and then - a figure who darted out of the window (it was Billy) and them a light that followed the figure. After several moments they heard an awful shriek and then everything went silent.

 

They moved back to the road in order to get to the station by foot -and found a police car with lights on. As they approached - they saw a policeman inside. Dead - stabbed with some sharp object, a spiral symbol carved on his forehead.

 

(he was killed by that same Charles Walls who escaped from Asylum. In fact, he first became insane when he saw Emilia's father killing his wife with the use of the Light! At that moment a link was created between Charles and the Light so every time doctor Webb, Emilia's father, used the Light - Charles became agitated and agressive for several days. The last case was right 2 days prior the adventure - so Charles was still in his "high" state. He wanted to kill and draw spirals on his victims to attract the Light and to join it)

 

 

They went off the road and a little inside the forest when they saw th Light. It quickly approached them.

They ran. Emilia fall down twisting her leg. And what did the players do? They tried to HIDE. Under bushes and behind the trees, thinking that the Light was only after Emilia.

 

I had to strike a lightning to fend it off and let them return back to the station.

 

After returning to the station the PCs found it dark and empty - with bodies all around, killed in the same manner as those of doctor and a buglar in Emylia's house. Then Mary, waitress, jumped from somewhere, grappled Emylia and they both went to the floor in a catfight. The PCs managet to stop it. The waitress was afraid and told about some strange light that killed everybody. She also told that it was all "because of her with her pride and rich cars" - pointing at Emylia.

 

The PCs started to question Mary, but she told that Emilia wanted to seduce Mary's boyfriend (and after some more questions she gave a description - which matched the description of a dead buglar).

 

So, how do you think, what did the players do?

 

That's right! They decided to hide in the basement untill help arrives! *doublefacepalm*.

 

Luckily the priest player was more active and after a long debate and my flashback-hints they left Mary in a basement and went to the mansion.

 

There they studied the room with the bodies. They found a locked safe with a numerical code. Without hesitation one of the players asked Emilia about her birthdate. =))) It was a moment of my total shame and disgrace as a Keeper. A sign "Mr. Obviousness" was shining above my head like a sun. )))))))))

 

Inside the safe they found:

 

- A WW2 photo of 2 german medical officers, signed with german names. One of the officers was clearly Emilia's father! Yet she knew nothing about it - she was born after the war.

- a wedding registration document (sorry, don't know the exact word for it in English) from which it was clear that doctor Webb changed a German surname to a more american one (his wife's) after the wedding. Yet his name was still different from the name on the photograph.

- an old photo of a beautiful woman signed "My beloved Helen" in German (a woman Webb loved before the war and ever after)

- a small diary with a note.

 

The note was in strange symbols which turned out to be Hebrew writening after a language check. A spiral symbol was also drawn after the text.

 

The diary started with a german text (which turned out to be a translation of a Hebrew one and which told about an Eater of Sins which was used to destroy the enemies of.. well.. someone. The ritual of using it (draw a symbol with a victim's blood, release the Eater, it will devour the victim and, forced by the symbol - will return to it's prison) was present.

 

After the text there was a pretty long list of dates and letters in german (F, 33 Jahre, J; M, 67 Jahre, Z etc) made it 2 different hands. Without thinking long the players guessed that it was sex, age and, probably, race of someone. As the dates were surely of the WW2 time...

 

After this list there was somethin written in English in 1945.

"Walz (a second name on a photo) is dead, old Leathermann is dead. Now I am the only keeper of the cascet"

 

After this there were several passages which told about the author's headaches and that they were sent by the Light untill the author feeded it. The last several dates of feeding were +\- 1 day from the dates mentioned in a letter from an asylum.

One passage said "My poor Deborah (Emilia's mother), forgive me.." - and it matched the date of Charles Wall's insanity start.

 

Then the Light entered the house- and the PCs left in a hurry, taking the box with them.

 

And here they saw Mary. She was moving unsteadily and when she came nearer - the PCs saw she was stabbed several times (in the same way as the police officer) and bleeding hard.

 

At this point the PCs decided they needed a sacrifice to deal with the light.

 

The doctor-PC tried to persuade the priest that he should sacrifice himself (and even tried to roll Persuade!) just for the humanity's sake.

The pragmatic priest did not agree and offered to sacrifice Mary because she was a) evil and hated Emilia and B) was wounded so would probably die sooner or later.

 

Then the Light exited the house, but a man appeared from a forest! He run and stopped right between the Light and the PCs, then raised his hand and did something to his forehead!

 

The doctor-PC started to recite the spell (written in a germsn translation), and after the Light consumed Charles (who finally met his Lux Aeternum) it was sucked back in a casket!

 

Phew! That was really climatic.

 

Then Mary cofessed that it was she who pushed her boyfriend to murder, but Emilia forgave her and Mary died on Emilia's hands.

 

The PCs found some spades and dug the casket deep down into the earth...

 

but several months later the doctor-PC, who recited the spell, discovered that he had a more and more severe headaches....

 

 

So, that was it. It took us about 4 hours to complete (could take less if PCs acted more bravely). I really glad I changed the scenario in this way because it  helped me to avoid disturbing theme of abortions and helped to create a wonderful plot twist with a nazi criminal doctor who escaped to USA right before the end of the war. And the PCs' backstory really helped to color the scenario with an asylum inmate plotline.

 

It was a really great game and my players told me it was the best one we ever had (before there was a custom scenario, then Bill in three persons, then Keepers of the Woods, then Murdere of Thomas Fell). It was a pleasure to hear, because the scenario looked really consistent and whole to me.

 

P.S. Sorry for mistakes - English is not my first language and by the end of the text I really became tired - and it's 1 a.m. on my clock. =)


Edited by vincentVV, 04 November 2017 - 10:17 PM.


#10 PoC

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 10:32 PM

A quick reminder for folks - game write-ups are best suited to your Yog Blog! It means they're easily findable, kept together, and not lost over time in the flow of the forums. You can always link to the appropriate Blog entry as part of the thread discussion.



#11 vincentVV

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 06:29 AM

I think "kept together" means exactly "kept together" - stored in one place. Not scatterer between different forum topics, hundreds of blog entries and wiki pages.

That's why I voted for bringing all the topics about the same scenario into one with all advices and suggestions kept in one place. It's much easier to find all useful information in one forum topic than to scan for it in different places.

 

Besides, my post was not abot "How cool we played" - it was about changes I made and their influence on the game. If it is not a material for a forum thread - then what's the use of the forum at all? :)



#12 PoC

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 09:26 AM

If you are unfamiliar with the site guidelines, here a link: Terms of Use. Meanwhile I'll let people return to discussion of the Dead Light Scenario topic.



#13 vincentVV

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 11:48 AM

errr.. and was I not discussing DL scenario? o_O 

 

Well, ok, your site - your rules, but your position looks strange and unlogical enough to me.

 

On to discussing.

 

A point to keep in mind while preparing for a play: you should either warn the players that the scenario will take place on the road or be ready to cut their way of moving farther. In my situation the players thought at first that the real scenario awaits for them ahead, so I had to imagine a reason why they can't progress - simply to keep them at the gas station.

 

And a hard rain can be not enough. ))

 

So, some ideas as to how to stop them:

- a fallen tree. A road service is needed to remove it, but they would come only in the morning;

- a landslide - either from upper slope or the road itself slided down; 

- a car break (wetness etc.) - although it can prevent them from going to the mansion too;

- out of fuel - and no fuel at the station either;

- using characters motive and manipulating their background.

 

But usually the first 2 are more than enough. 







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