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What happened to the epic Chaosium campaign?


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#1 Danial

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 08:37 AM

Since discovering Call of Cthulhu a few years back, I've heard nothing but love for the likes of MoN, HotOE, and BtMoM. Now that I'm starting to read them, I've come to realise that they were written 32, 25, and 17 years ago respectively. So my question is: With the popularity of these "classic" campaigns, why aren't Chaosium creating new ones? I've heard rumors that the company wasn't doing so well at one point, so is that all there is to it? Now that I've discovered the game, I'd love to see an "epic" from my time.

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#2 Shimmin Beg

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 11:11 AM

I believe Terror from the Skies was intended to reinvigorate the campaigns thing.  The rerelease of HotOE has eaten up a huge amount of company time and energy, as has 7th edition, so they probably haven't had the staff time to really work on anything new.  Unseen Masters is a different beast as it's three linked scenarios.

 

Partly I wonder whether there's as much enthusiasm for epics now?  Ideas about gaming have changed, and the problem with epic campaigns is that they're almost inherently railroady, since there's certain things you've got to do for the next chapter to happen.  Masks allows play in a different order, which slightly addresses this.  I suspect investigative games suffer worse from this than more combat-based games, because players might want to follow up all kinds of possible leads, but authors can only describe so much.  There's also the issue with character turnover; it seems difficult to maintain plausible motivated groups in long campaigns based on a single premise, where you can end up with few or no first-contact survivors in the party and very little knowledge of early events (potentially disastrous, for example in Tatters).  Ad-hoc campaigns built of lone scenarios are stronger there because you can incorporate new characters suited to the next scenario.

 

The old epics are popular, but I imagine that's at least in part because of their "classic" status, and indeed because of the YSDC recordings.  I've heard barely a peep about Terror, not the wave of enthusiasm I might expect.



#3 ScottDorward

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 11:44 AM

The Two-Headed Serpent is in the pipeline, which is an epic campaign for Pulp Cthulhu. It's around 120,000 words in length, taking the heroes through nine major locations across the globe and beyond.

 

We handed over the manuscript to Chaosium last month, but I imagine it will take some time to go through editing, art and layout.


Edited by ScottDorward, 09 January 2016 - 11:46 AM.


#4 christian

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 01:18 PM

I love epic campaigns in which characters have time to develop. Looking forward toTwo headed serpent. I was not thrilled by Terror from the skies whose plot seemed creaky to me... Eternal Lies is a great campaign ( Trail) with flaws which make you want to tear your hair out. Fortunately, a group effort here on y-s, and a great retelling on thealexandrian.net, has helped me plod on through this ungainly beast


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#5 MikeM

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 01:29 PM

What the skies... new campaigns are coming....

 

You heard it here.

 

Mike, at Chaosium.

 

:8E:


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#6 Shimmin Beg

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 02:17 PM

The Two-Headed Serpent is in the pipeline, which is an epic campaign for Pulp Cthulhu. It's around 120,000 words in length, taking the heroes through nine major locations across the globe and beyond.

 

We handed over the manuscript to Chaosium last month, but I imagine it will take some time to go through editing, art and layout.

 

Intriguing!  I don't think I've heard even a whisper of that until now.



#7 Danial

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 03:49 PM

The Two-Headed Serpent is in the pipeline, which is an epic campaign for Pulp Cthulhu. It's around 120,000 words in length, taking the heroes through nine major locations across the globe and beyond.

 

We handed over the manuscript to Chaosium last month, but I imagine it will take some time to go through editing, art and layout.

 

What is Pulp Cthulhu? I've heard you mention it on the Good Friends podcast but I've never actually seen it anywhere. Is it a Chaosium book?



#8 ScottDorward

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 04:09 PM

What is Pulp Cthulhu? I've heard you mention it on the Good Friends podcast but I've never actually seen it anywhere. Is it a Chaosium book?

 

It's a supplement for Call of Cthulhu that allows for tougher investigators, weird science, psychic abilities and more two-fisted action. It was funded as part of the 7th edition Kickstarter, and I believe it's just awaiting the last bits of artwork (Mike will have more accurate information, obviously!)



#9 christian

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 05:09 PM

What the skies... new campaigns are coming....

 

You heard it here.

 

Mike, at Chaosium.

 

:8E:

 

New campaigns by Chaosium is great news. We need great campaigns with great editorial work ( I'm not kidding, I've realised what a difference it makes after having run into a few bad exemples, and I've realised I'd taken for granted the excellence that is Chaosium's editing at its best)


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#10 littleo

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 06:38 PM

Scott, can you give us any morsels about what the Pulp Cthulhu campaign is about? Anything at all- year?, starting location?, theme? Very excited to hear more about this.

Mike D



#11 Bootlegger

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 08:11 PM

The Two-Headed Serpent is in the pipeline, which is an epic campaign for Pulp Cthulhu. It's around 120,000 words in length, taking the heroes through nine major locations across the globe and beyond.

 

We handed over the manuscript to Chaosium last month, but I imagine it will take some time to go through editing, art and layout.

 

Very excited about this, Scott! Can't wait to check it out. When you say "We" do you mean the Good Friends or were there other creators on the project?



#12 MikeM

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 08:17 PM

Pulp Cthulhu - a rules supplement to the main Rulebook, for playing in a Pulp style, including scenarios, information about the 'the Pulps' and the 1930s. Pulp rules, hero generation, villains and pulp opponents, weird science, psychic powers, pulp insanity, plus guidance on running pulp style games.

 

Two-Headed Serpent - a Pulp Cthulhu campaign set in the 1930s (see Scott's note above).

 

More info in due course.


Mike M, Line Editor for Call of Cthulhu, Chaosium Inc.

#13 HomoLupusDomesticus

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 08:34 PM

The name "Two-Headed Serpent" suggests a Mesoamerican motif or theme.


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#14 Shimmin Beg

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 10:17 PM

I see this as a great opportunity to speculate wildly and outrageously.  The following should not be taken as factual, or indeed plausible.

 

Chaosium has been shaking things up, and in that vein, I predict The Two-Headed Serpent will be groundbreaking in many ways.  We've not yet seen a campaign where players are anything other than ordinary humans caught up in the Mythos, and that's ripe for challenge.  Serpent Investigators will most likely be Serpent Men, as the title suggests.  Awaken from centuries of slumber, they find themselves caught in a vicious battle for survival between the rival powers of Yig and Tsathoggua, not to mention the subsidiary threat posed by inconvenient mammals.  The two "heads" of the title are, of course, our quarrelling Great Old Ones.

 

Turning things completely around from the literal railroad of their last campaign release, this will naturally be a massive sandbox campaign.  Investigators can travel the world to the major centres of Serpent Men activity, seeking to recruit allies, sabotage enemies, and serve their own ends.  Will you side with one of the Great Old Ones?  Seek pure personal power?  Try to forge your race back into a single empire to rule eternally over humanity?  Keep the Serpent Men as quarrelling fiefdoms, and claim one for yourself?  I predict this will seem more like a traditional RPG campaign setting, with probably splatbooks for each of the key cities, as well as an exhaustive set of rules for playing as Serpent Men. 

 

The Pulp theme's technology and the ideas above suggests to me that this campaign might take inspiration from a Serpent Men story published in the Black Wings series, though I won't spoil it.

 

I expect the top-tier rewards to include an exclusive limited edition engraved in glyphs on stone tablets, then erected as a gigantic pyramid in the forests of Mesoamerica.



#15 ElijahWhateley

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 10:29 PM

I've heard rumors that the company wasn't doing so well at one point, so is that all there is to it? Now that I've discovered the game, I'd love to see an "epic" from my time.

 

It's not from Chaosium, but Eternal Lies (from Pelgrane Press) is the epic campaign from the present.

 

Any return of Chaosium to publishing quality epic campaigns will probably be in the somewhat distant future - "not doing so well at one point" is a bit of an understatement, although they're gradually getting on their feet again.


Edited by ElijahWhateley, 09 January 2016 - 10:29 PM.

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#16 ScottDorward

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 10:38 PM

Scott, can you give us any morsels about what the Pulp Cthulhu campaign is about? Anything at all- year?, starting location?, theme? Very excited to hear more about this.

Mike D

 

Avoiding major spoilers, I can only really say that the heroes are members of a New York-based medical aid charity named Caduceus that has a hidden mission of combating the Mythos. Play starts out in Bolivia in 1933, with Caduceus using the Chaco War as cover to hunt another objective. As events escalate, the heroes will be travelling the world (and possibly beyond) to tackle the strands of an ancient, inhuman conspiracy. By the time the campaign comes to a climax, nothing less than the survival of the human race is on the line.

 

 

Very excited about this, Scott! Can't wait to check it out. When you say "We" do you mean the Good Friends or were there other creators on the project?

 

Glad to hear that it appeals to you!

 

Yes, Paul and Matt are the other two authors. We've been working on this for a couple of years.

 

The name "Two-Headed Serpent" suggests a Mesoamerican motif or theme.

 

 

I see this as a great opportunity to speculate wildly and outrageously.  The following should not be taken as factual, or indeed plausible.

 

Chaosium has been shaking things up, and in that vein, I predict The Two-Headed Serpent will be groundbreaking in many ways.  We've not yet seen a campaign where players are anything other than ordinary humans caught up in the Mythos, and that's ripe for challenge.  Serpent Investigators will most likely be Serpent Men, as the title suggests.  Awaken from centuries of slumber, they find themselves caught in a vicious battle for survival between the rival powers of Yig and Tsathoggua, not to mention the subsidiary threat posed by inconvenient mammals.  The two "heads" of the title are, of course, our quarrelling Great Old Ones.

 

Turning things completely around from the literal railroad of their last campaign release, this will naturally be a massive sandbox campaign.  Investigators can travel the world to the major centres of Serpent Men activity, seeking to recruit allies, sabotage enemies, and serve their own ends.  Will you side with one of the Great Old Ones?  Seek pure personal power?  Try to forge your race back into a single empire to rule eternally over humanity?  Keep the Serpent Men as quarrelling fiefdoms, and claim one for yourself?  I predict this will seem more like a traditional RPG campaign setting, with probably splatbooks for each of the key cities, as well as an exhaustive set of rules for playing as Serpent Men. 

 

The Pulp theme's technology and the ideas above suggests to me that this campaign might take inspiration from a Serpent Men story published in the Black Wings series, though I won't spoil it.

 

I expect the top-tier rewards to include an exclusive limited edition engraved in glyphs on stone tablets, then erected as a gigantic pyramid in the forests of Mesoamerica.

 

I can't really comment on the accuracy of either of these bits of speculation.I do, however, really want to play the campaign Shimmin Beg just outlined!


Edited by ScottDorward, 09 January 2016 - 10:42 PM.


#17 dce

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 11:49 PM

It's not from Chaosium, but Eternal Lies (from Pelgrane Press) is the epic campaign from the present.

 

It's worth pointing out that "Eternal Lies" Isn't actually for Call of Cthulhu (but for Trail of Cthulhu). While most folks here would know, the OP might not ...

 

BTW: looking back over the list of CoC items that have been released in recent years, there really is no shortage of Epic Campaigns being created for the game -- although none of the recent ones have come from Chaosium (except for the amazingly re-booted HotOE). Just last year we had no less than three brand new epic campaigns published (two for Achtung! Cthulhu and "Curse of Nineveh" as an adjunct to the Cthulhu Britannica: London kickstarter). So, the format is still alive and well.

 

Personally, I would question whether there is really any need for making a bunch of new 1920s Epic Globetrotting (ie "Masks of Nyarlathotep"-clone) type campaign. We've already got several good ones, which are the go-to games for people who want to run those sorts of long-running games. Do we really need more? I would much rather see people try to make different types of campaigns -- maybe some that are more investigative than pulpy, or which take place in a small geographical region (maybe just Arkham or Arkham Country), or campaigns that are specifically targetted at beginning players or keepers or are designed to take advantage of the 1920s setting more ... I feel that we've got the epic-globetrotting thing sewn up, but are missing lots of other styles of long-running formats.

 

There are also dangers to trying to continually remake "Masks only bigger and better" -- take a look at Eternal Lies and you'll see some of those given form.

 

 

Dean (from Adelaide)


Edited by dce, 09 January 2016 - 11:50 PM.

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#18 Mysterioso

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 12:53 AM

As there is a new version of Cthulhu Dark Ages coming out very soon, it would be nice to see Oscar Rios' The Ravenar Saga monograph given a redo as his Ripples from Carcosa was done. Sagas are, after all, epic.


Edited by Mysterioso, 10 January 2016 - 12:54 AM.


#19 cjbowser

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 01:19 AM

As there is a new version of Cthulhu Dark Ages coming out very soon, it would be nice to see Oscar Rios' The Ravenar Saga monograph given a redo as his Ripples from Carcosa was done. Sagas are, after all, epic.


Chaosium has the manuscript for a three part mini campaign in hand. Work has begun on an epic saga inspired campaign for the new CDA. So this new version of CDA should be better supported than the last.

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#20 Danial

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 01:36 AM

I would much rather see people try to make different types of campaigns -- maybe some that are more investigative than pulpy, or which take place in a small geographical region (maybe just Arkham or Arkham Country), or campaigns that are specifically targetted at beginning players or keepers or are designed to take advantage of the 1920s setting more ... I feel that we've got the epic-globetrotting thing sewn up, but are missing lots of other styles of long-running formats.

 

 

I would personally love a campaign set in "Lovecraft Country", where instead of travelling the world from city to city, you're just travelling from Arkham to Innsmouth to Dunwich etc. "Epic" doesn't need to mean global. I think just having a large number of varied locations, a large cast of NPCs, and an overarching plot would suffice. The good thing about Lovecraft Country is that all the locations are already fleshed out in Chaosium's books.