Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

First time Keeper – encourage roleplay, scare players, make research interesting?

CoC 1-6e Delta Green Jazz Age New to Cthulhu

  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 rsanford

rsanford

    Master

  • Patron
  • Pip
  • 39 posts

Posted 23 November 2016 - 04:26 PM

Hi all,

 

In recent weeks my group has expressed interest in trying a game of Call of Cthulhu despite the fact that none of us have played the game or even read the stories the game is based on.  While I have only skimmed the rules they seem very similar to Stormbringer / Magic World (which is what we play) making me unconcerned about the mechanical aspects of the game.

 

However what does concern me is how to run the game successfully as I have never ran a game focused on horror.  I have already learned a lot from this site but would like your opinion on a few things. Also just so you know we play our games online using Mumble. I will be running a modified version of The Haunting.

  1. How do I make the players (not the characters) nervous or scared? In the Stormbringer game we play, the players play heroes. That works against me here because the players tend to be fearless.  I had thought I would introduce supernatural elements at the beginning of the CoC game and then work up towards real threats to their character’s lives, but I’m not sure that will be enough. Any thoughts?
  2. How do I make research and investigation interesting? For best results The Haunting requires the characters to do extensive research and investigation prior to going into the house. How do I keep the player’s interest? How do I make investigation and research challenging and/or interesting? Does it make sense to use some type social conflict system to model the research such as that used by Revolution D100 and M-Space?
  3. What is your opinion of using the new Delta Green’s sanity rules as opposed to CoC’s sanity rules? Which would encourage more roleplaying? Which do you think would be more fun?
  4. With the understanding that my group will be using pre-generated characters (Don’t want them to invest time into custom characters in their first likely deadly game), how can I best encourage roleplaying?

Thoughts are appreciated!

Thanks!

 

PS – My group plays online using Mumble for audio an RPOL for dice rolling.  While this has always worked for us I am concerned that it will impact my ability to describe a stern and scary atmosphere. Also I will be using the 6th edition CoC rules




Log in to remove this video.

#2 wombat1

wombat1

    Lesser Servitor

  • Old Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,886 posts

Posted 23 November 2016 - 09:43 PM

Let's look at #1, how to keep the players scared.

 

Think for a moment about the introduction to H.P. Lovecraft's essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature"  and how this might be translated into a role playing situation.  "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."

 

So, one of the tasks of the CoC Keeper, as opposed to the ordinary game master, is to feed out only part of the reveal at a time, and that through description, rather than declaration  A game master might declare, "Your character, Dinglefroth the Daring, sees one, or two, or two hundred kobolds."  Whereupon the player of Dinglefroth says, "Ha, ha, they are only a one hit die creature," and sets to with a vengeance (that being said on one occasion at my club by a particularly fearless player.  He also tried to haul all the copper coins in the world away, too.)  On the other hand, even a brief description of a kobold, "Nasty, furred with pointed ears and sharp teeth, eyes glittering with sin and impudence and malice," builds the matter up.  Clearly, whatever this is (and note we don't say what this is,) is unpleasant and unfamiliar, and therefore a bit uncertain, and therefore scary.

 

That actually brings us immediately to #2, research.  Research and investigation become interesting (and fun) when the players believe (because it seems) that this will clear up the mysterious, and therefore resolve the matter and reduce the fear.  We don't need mechanics for this, or more to the point nearly any mechanic will do, including actually giving out the clues if they are vital and the player is bright enough to ask.  Our job as the Keeper is to keep the horror going, and that goes back to keeping the players believing and seeming that everything is going to be alright with one more fact.

 

Of course, what is really going to happen is that the Keeper feeds in a few more parts of the reveal to build the horror up for a while longer--so, if, for example, the scenario calls for a body in a room near the front door of the house, which the players will discover quickly if they go in the front door of the house, contrive to find a way to encourage the players to go in the back door of the house (perhaps by having the first player to try it fall through the rotten porch for a point of damage.)  Then put in clues here and there that build the tension.  Don't say anything outright--"You see a dead body on the floor."  Drag it out and make it odd--"There is a body on a marble slab, with a long, iron brown rust stain down a groove, and that body is very grey..."  Let the player draw the obvious conclusion, "They [and the player has no idea who 'they' are yet, though he may have a suspicion] sacrificed him in his own house..."  At that point the Keeper says nothing, absolutely nothing, unless directly asked for more facts or description of what can be observed, but otherwise simply looks at the player with a blank face waiting for him to continue on.

 

When the players think they have all the facts, they will move the resolution at their own speed.  If they DO have all the facts, that should lead to a better outcome for them than if they merely THINK they have all the facts.  (Note to harsh Keepers--I do not say good resolution--they could end up with a tail kicking either way, but better in that they should at least not have a sacrifice in vain.)

 

I have no opinion on #3

 

As for 4, perhaps one might ask the players each individually what sort of character they want to play, and then design that in mind.  I tend to run campaigns, but when I draw up pre-generated characters, I usually provide a back story.  The player is not required to keep the back story and can suggest changes, and since I am usually aiming for a campaign, I nearly always accept that.  I also do not spend all of the character generation points.  I spend some to ensure that all the needed skills of the scenario are covered, and then write a note on the character sheet, " Some# of character points are available to customize this character."


Edited by wombat1, 23 November 2016 - 09:46 PM.


#3 Shimmin Beg

Shimmin Beg

    Breakfast Clubber

  • Patron+
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,216 posts

Posted 23 November 2016 - 11:34 PM

Hi rsanford, you should definitely try it!

So there's a few things I would recommend thinking about before trying to run a CoC game.

Firstly, I would very strongly advise reading some of the stories.  A lot of Call of Cthulhu is about atmosphere and setting, and understanding the period is important.  It's also really useful to understand the tropes you're dealing with, and to be able to discuss these with the players at some point.  I'd recommend "The Call of Cthulhu" from the rulebook, and "The Dunwich Horror", just as a starting point, because those cover a lot of the ideas used in the game.

As you say, mechanically you should be alright.

In terms of Mumble, I've not used that but I do play over Ventrilo.  I think you may be alright for CoC if your group has good mike discipline, because the focus on investigation means you usually have one person talking at a time, rather than lots of people trying to do lots of things.  You will miss out on body language and gesture, though.  I've seen people recommend asking the players to dim the lights to reduce distractions where they're gaming.

1. I endorse Wombat's techniques for description.  I think the longer descriptions help build the atmosphere, and they also contrast with dungeon-crawl descriptions that are often punchy and focused on the immediate details.  In a "realistic" game like CoC, you don't know what's important and what bears investigating.

Also, if you want to keep players nervous, maybe aim for a less pulpy first game (on the purist/pulpy axis).  In that case, ensure they understand that they're relatively ordinary people, that they have to fear the authorities, social consequences, and all the things that affect real people.  Behaving weirdly is risky.  Behaving illegally is more risky.  Violence is extremely risky.

Plus, point out that mechanically, a single unlucky injury can kill a lot of characters.  One kick can do it, let alone a bullet.

I think uncertainty is the key here.  The atmosphere should keep them uncertain about what's going on and whether they're safe.  The mechanics mean any violent incident could be their last.  The setting means they can't have the classic fantasy confidence that they're heroes who don't need to worry about consequences.

2. I'm afraid I don't know the social conflict systems you've referenced.  I would try to make sure they understand that researching is a good idea, and perhaps provide pregens who have reasons to research (journalist, ghost story author etc.) rather than impetuous types who'd just want to go and check it out.

You can also try to tie the investigation into interesting NPCs and conversations, so it feels as though it's a slice of gameplay rather than just a die roll.  Describe the locations, plan what it will be like to discover the clues.

You might also want to consider how the research will actually help, since in the classic Haunting it only provides background information... there's some discussion of this elsewhere on the site.

3. Don't know, sorry.

4. Make sure they understand what their 1920s characters should be like.  In a general sense, insist that they consider what their character is doing rather than trying to do stuff from the sheet - Bob Doe isn't rolling a Spot Hidden, he's pulling the books out of the shelves to check if there's anything tucked behind them.  

Ask them to decide how they know each other and a bit of their history.  That makes characters feel more like people and less like the homeless orphan silent loners that you can easily end up with... it makes them more likely to interact in ways coloured by their connections.

Sorry, it's late, so a bit rushed.



#4 rsanford

rsanford

    Master

  • Patron
  • Pip
  • 39 posts

Posted 24 November 2016 - 12:30 AM

Thanks Wombat1 and Shimmin Beg!  This is all very good advice and I will try to follow it.

 

It seems to me that introducing deadly force (For example attacking with the bed, the ritual knife, or a possessed character) early could knock the players off their high horses and make them worry about their characters. If you were keeping would you rush to threaten the characters or focus more on building up the atmosphere with special affects (For example bleeding walls, toys that move by themselves, ghost sightings, etc..)? Any thoughts on pacing?

 

Thanks again all. 



#5 Gaffer

Gaffer

    Lesser Independent

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,424 posts
  • LocationOrlando FL USA

Posted 24 November 2016 - 01:40 AM

Characters are important because it's ROLEplaying. I'd ask them what occupation they want to play and let them know this is the equivalent of classes. You can give them some suggestions. I'd pick fun occupations -- cop, private investigator, gangster, professor, nightclub singer, Army nurse, boxer, reporter.

Get some background from them, then ask them why they're desperate for a job. Maybe the PI bungled an assignment and someone got killed and he got fired. Maybe the cop shot an alderman's kid in an alley and he got kicked off the force. Maybe a load of hooch the gangster was in charge of got hijacked and the gun moll's his girlfriend and they're both in Dutch with the boss. Maybe the nurse saw too much pain in the War and now she's an addict and can't hold a job; the boxer's her cousin and hasn't had a win in a while. Get a name from them and a nickname. Work in connections among the characters. Then you can fill in the details.

I'll pose the rest in terms of The Haunting.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS



Don't tell them the title. That goes for pretty much any CoC scenario.

Don't tell them they're going to investigate a haunted house. The owner is trying to renovate the place. Maybe it's a bootlegger who wants to make the house into a roadhouse or speakeasy or a more respectable person wanting to have a boardinghouse or someone who wants to live there himself. Only the workmen keep running out and won't say why.

Don't push them to investigate first, let them go to the house. Follow their lead on when they go and how they proceed. Describe the place and let it lay there until they do something.

Weird stuff happens, but nothing to draw attention to Corbitt, just stuff to freak them out or drive them away.

There are crucifixes all over the house. Then they look again (Spot Hidden) and a couple are upside down; later more or different ones are upside down. Use pictures of various sorts of crucifixes.

One of them (lowest SAN) hears a child or woman sobbing.

In one room a fly is buzzing around, bumping against the windows. Then another. Then a dozen. Then...

There's a rat king (Google it) in a kitchen cupboard or icebox (remember, not electric).

Blood drips from the ceiling under the bedroom. WHAM! someone's out the window (I used a french door flapping back and forth on a Juliet balcony) and in the hospital and will be there for a couple of weeks (no healers, no potions, just old fashioned medicine, big plaster casts). Replacement character.

Now they'll want to do research, I'll bet.

You don't need to scare the players (though it's great when you can) you just have to scare the characters.

Let them talk to the neighbors to find out about the previous tenants. The beat cop mentions the Chapel of Contemplation connection and the raid. I put the chapel in a cemetery backed up to the houses, separated by a strip of woods. Maybe they research newspapers and find out about Corbitt wanting to be buried in his cellar. Only he wasnt. Or was he?

Now they're ready for the journal and the cellar.

Remember, all Corbitt wants is to be left alone. Until they find his sanctum, then he has to kill them all.

I made him hard to kill with petrified skin armor and a Flesh Ward spell, but a vulnerability to his magic knife. Don't forget Dominate. The Shambler can Grapple someone and vanish he doesn't have to fight.

Edited by Gaffer, 24 November 2016 - 01:47 AM.

"Two in the head, you know he's dead." <heh-heh>

#6 rsanford

rsanford

    Master

  • Patron
  • Pip
  • 39 posts

Posted 25 November 2016 - 05:24 PM

Thanks Gaffer! Lots of good suggestions!

 

Two questions. I had been thinking of making the party a group of ghost hunters that finally turn up something supernatural. The owner of the Corbitt house in an effort to assuage his conscious after the houses' violent history comes to light, hires the party to provide an in depth report on the house and then afterwards hires them to investigate the house itself.

 

Do you think this plot line is appropriate? Are there in obvious negatives?

 

Also are there advantages to having the Chapel of Contemplation behind Corbitt's house? I have relocated the scenario to New Orleans and currently have the chapel located in the swamps of LA.

 

Any thoughts are appreciated!



#7 wombat1

wombat1

    Lesser Servitor

  • Old Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,886 posts

Posted 25 November 2016 - 09:46 PM


. If you were keeping would you rush to threaten the characters or focus more on building up the atmosphere with special affects (For example bleeding walls, toys that move by themselves, ghost sightings, etc..)? Any thoughts on pacing?

 

 

You know your own group and your own style, and can figure out any variation you wish to introduce for CoC at your own table, and the first bit of advice I would offer is have faith in that first and foremost.  Every game table is unique.

 

My inclination if those are the choices is to avoid the deadly force and the threat at once and build up to it slowly, but that is a stylistic preference, for my table and my habits.  As with all things, a mix is probably best, but I am in no hurry to help bump off the player characters--they are probably going to do well enough on their own with no help from me, and this is not adversarial gaming to begin with.  When I run D and D, that is somewhat more adversarial--the player characters are there to smack the monsters around and take their stuff, and I run Team Monster.  When I run CoC, I am out to tell an interesting story (sometimes something I have put together myself.)  Instead of having the 'reader' as a passive observer of my story I have the players as interactive participants. 

 

The players will thus drive the pace and provided they do something and are engaged, I am happy to let them go it as fast or slow as they want.  There may of course be  a deadline (the stars will be right the day after tomorrow.)  The players have to deal with that if they wish.  Listen to what the players are doing and adjust on the fly accordingly.

 

Two questions. I had been thinking of making the party a group of ghost hunters that finally turn up something supernatural. The owner of the Corbitt house in an effort to assuage his conscious after the houses' violent history comes to light, hires the party to provide an in depth report on the house and then afterwards hires them to investigate the house itself.

 

Do you think this plot line is appropriate? Are there in obvious negatives?

 

Also are there advantages to having the Chapel of Contemplation behind Corbitt's house? I have relocated the scenario to New Orleans and currently have the chapel located in the swamps of LA.

 

This line works, but it gives rather too much of the game away for my taste.  If you develop character notes for pregenerated characters, you might emphasize that the scientific consensus is that there is no such thing as the supernatural, and it is rather a 'con.'  Thus the medium/crystal ball reader and the like gets a high Occult score, to be sure, but also a goodly number of con artist like skills--fast talk and the like, and  a note that says the home owner has called you because of your reputation which you know is a fraud from the start, but it seems like good money and an easy solution--$10 of rat poison will probably dispell any ghosts.

 

I think the Chapel ought to be accessible near by but it needn't be adjacent.  Let's suppose you decide to locate the chapel near Houmma, LA.  Away from New Orleans, but not entirely out in the sticks in the 1920's.  (But you can see the Middle of Nowhere Bayou from there.)  So, you have among the waste paper of the house a whole bunch of railroad tickets, round trip, New Orleans to Houmma and return, and a bunch of hotel receipts, from the Houmma Arms, up to the point where the Nogoodniki stopped doing that and retired to the house permanently.  In Houmma at the Houmma Arms the very elderly porter remembers the old gent, fairly severe but correct in his behavior (and a poor tipper to boot)   He would always rent a wagon and mules from Old Duffer and a boat, and go out in to the countryside for a day then return...And so it goes.



#8 Shimmin Beg

Shimmin Beg

    Breakfast Clubber

  • Patron+
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,216 posts

Posted 25 November 2016 - 11:19 PM

As Wombat says, the dynamic of each group is unique.  I'm sure you will do fine!

 

My personal preference is to avoid physical threats early on because I think they're inclined go one of two ways.  The group can survive it readily, get the idea that dealing with physical danger is just what they do, and end up with a pretty gung-ho Indiana Jones approach.  All good fun, but I get the impression it's not what you're looking for.  Alternatively, it can work too well and kill off or cripple a few Investigators.  The issue there is that stopping to make a new Investigator gives your momentum time to dissipate, and introducing them to the game can feel a bit forced, but sitting out for most of the game is no fun.

 

Essentially I think it's hard to pitch it just right, so that there's a convincing sense of threat but the characters will probably survive.  If you can, great, it's a good skill and a valuable tool.  When I ran The Haunting I overdid the physical side early on, and it felt unconvincing that they stuck with it all - we ended up with a game that felt more like an Ealing comedy than a creepy mystery.

 

I tend to work more with atmosphere and the investigation itself.  Presenting the players with an intriguing puzzle or situation keeps them motivated, which encourages them to find motivation for their characters to stick with it.  Slowly ratcheting up the atmosphere through levels of weird and creepy should help unsettle things.  Very broadly speaking, you can try to pace it so that they start the game as people looking into an interesting ghost story, end up as people confronting full-blown horror events, and it doesn't feel like there's been a jarring shift in genre.

 

Two questions. I had been thinking of making the party a group of ghost hunters that finally turn up something supernatural. The owner of the Corbitt house in an effort to assuage his conscious after the houses' violent history comes to light, hires the party to provide an in depth report on the house and then afterwards hires them to investigate the house itself.

 

Do you think this plot line is appropriate? Are there in obvious negatives?

 

Also are there advantages to having the Chapel of Contemplation behind Corbitt's house? I have relocated the scenario to New Orleans and currently have the chapel located in the swamps of LA.

 

I think it's a decent possible plot line.

 

Here's one related spin you could try: someone (maybe a magazine, a journalist friend?) has heard about the house and asks them to look into it.  Maybe it makes a great news article, maybe it's a piece for their book on hauntings, or murders, or their weird magazine. In this case, the group could be old contacts of Bob Journalist who've done this kind of thing before, regular "ghost hunters" with varying interest and belief in the occult.  So some might just do it for the money, some might actually believe it, some might enjoy busting the myths.

 

Initially they don't have access to the house; the owner has the keys, and isn't keen to let anyone in right now.  Once they've done their research, Bob urges them to check the place out themselves and can pull some strings to get them access.  "A weird cult? Missing children? A guy buried in his own basement?  This sounds great!  Document everything!"

 

That gives you a way to push them into doing some research beforehand, which I don't think is especially heavy-handed.  I mean, if they insist on actually breaking in you could let them, but they have a clear indication what they should be doing.

 

Using this with your ghost-hunters idea also might help with atmosphere.  There's some creepy stuff, but they've seen it before.  Blood in the walls?  Yeah, pranksters can do that.  In some cases the methods Corbitt uses actually fit with a "fake haunting" idea - he leaves bloody rat corpses around, after all.  So you can foster some uncertainty about what's actually supernatural.



#9 Mysterioso

Mysterioso

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 441 posts

Posted 26 November 2016 - 01:57 AM

It might be good to state upfront that the game is as much of a mystery game as it is a horror game.  To use movies, Call of Cthulhu has as much if not more to do with The Maltese Falcon than it does with Halloween. If players go in expecting to need to do some mooching around the newspaper's morgue and chatting up people at the local store, they'll not resist that aspect of the game.



#10 The_Tatterdemalion_King

The_Tatterdemalion_King

    Lesser Independent

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,483 posts

Posted 26 November 2016 - 02:24 AM

How do I make the players (not the characters) nervous or scared? In the Stormbringer game we play, the players play heroes. That works against me here because the players tend to be fearless.  I had thought I would introduce supernatural elements at the beginning of the CoC game and then work up towards real threats to their character’s lives, but I’m not sure that will be enough. Any thoughts?

 
1) Whether or not actual fear is possible for your PCs, you can evoke disguise, unease, sadness or trepidation in relation to the things in the game, especially if you know what evokes those feelings in your players in real life.

2) All “Horror in RPGs” advice boils down to one thing: find the rugs under your PCs/players, and pull those out from under them. The first and most fundamental rug is that of the GM being ultimately “on the player’s side.” CoC starts to pull this rug by giving you a system and characters with close-to-realistic combat and mundane occupations, but as a GM you can keep going with the scenario you run: Prepare a scenario where you don’t know how to fix the problems the PCs face. Just lay out the situation, have the villains or vectors plan and act according to their capabilities and viewpoints. Don’t try to stymie the PC’s efforts, or it’ll just be an exercise in frustration, but *they* have to take point in grappling with the uncaring universe presented by you. And to do that, you really have to be as uncaring as possible.

From that solid basis, you can start to introduce individual elements of horror as needed, and the players will recognize that dealing with it is on *them,* both from a strategic and tactical point of view.

And if your players are used to playing fearless heroes, and act fearlessly in the first five minutes of the adventure and die foolishly, so much the better—it’s not an X-Files episode without someone dying gruesomely in the teaser, is it?
 

How do I make research and investigation interesting? For best results The Haunting requires the characters to do extensive research and investigation prior to going into the house. How do I keep the player’s interest? How do I make investigation and research challenging and/or interesting? Does it make sense to use some type social conflict system to model the research such as that used by Revolution D100 and M-Space?

 
The best way to make research and investigation interesting is to make it like real investigation and research, only with the hours of slogging removed. Don’t make them roll for it, don’t make up weird mechanics like you’re fighting the books with your mind or whatever.

When you come to the investigation part of the game, just say, “Okay, what are you trying to find, and how do you go about it?” and the characters narrate what they’re looking for, where they look or who they ask, and you as a GM answer their questions. If you need to roll Library Use or whatever, have it determine the speed of the research, not the content, or you can use the skill ratings as guidelines to the quality of content if you want, but generally mechanical speedbumps are distractions from the mystery and should be avoided.
 

What is your opinion of using the new Delta Green’s sanity rules as opposed to CoC’s sanity rules? Which would encourage more roleplaying? Which do you think would be more fun?

 
DG’s SAN rules are more a streamlined, alternate ‘new edition’ of the CoC sanity rules, so you can either use one or the other entirely or move bits and pieces to the other as you see fit. In general, I’m a fan of the DG rules (I’m running a classic CoC game with them right now) and would recommend them for a new-to-CoC player over the CoC 6e rules, because I think they produce escalating insanity better (no goofy phobias) and are more fun to play in the short term (with the ‘fight, flee, freeze’ triad of choices for players).
 

With the understanding that my group will be using pre-generated characters (Don’t want them to invest time into custom characters in their first likely deadly game), how can I best encourage roleplaying?


Character generation in CoC is pretty quick, especially if you’re already familiar with BRP, but if you want to go the pregen route just leave the name and overall history of the character up to the players. “How do you know the other PCs?” and “Why are you [in spooky house etc]?” are the first two questions you ask.


Portfolio at www.chrishuth.com • Clients include Chaosium Inc, Sixtystone Press, Pelgrane Press and Sentinel Hill Press

#11 MrHandy

MrHandy

    Son of Yog-Sothoth

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 684 posts
  • LocationPhiladelphia

Posted 26 November 2016 - 02:29 AM

One issue with setting The Haunting in New Orleans is that there are no basements there because it is below sea level.


Zombie Apocalypse: A Blood Brothers style play-by-post forum-based RPG using CoC rules
Space Oddity: Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes/Call of Cthulhu in 1969 Philadelphia
The Terror Out of Time: Classic Doctor Who meets Call of Cthulhu in 1930 London

#12 The_Tatterdemalion_King

The_Tatterdemalion_King

    Lesser Independent

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,483 posts

Posted 26 November 2016 - 06:44 AM

One issue with setting The Haunting in New Orleans is that there are no basements there because it is below sea level.


So maybe the whole basement is the weird secret of the house — a waterproof construction under some of the rooms.
Portfolio at www.chrishuth.com • Clients include Chaosium Inc, Sixtystone Press, Pelgrane Press and Sentinel Hill Press

#13 Deodanth

Deodanth

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts

Posted 26 November 2016 - 08:08 AM

So maybe the whole basement is the weird secret of the house — a waterproof construction under some of the rooms.


With a warded hatch, perhaps, opening onto a tunnel to the Mississippi that is used by deep ones, or other interesting aquatic life?

#14 rsanford

rsanford

    Master

  • Patron
  • Pip
  • 39 posts

Posted 26 November 2016 - 02:32 PM

One issue with setting The Haunting in New Orleans is that there are no basements there because it is below sea level.


Boy that's a good point! I should have thought of that as I used to live in New Orleans. So not knowing much about house construction if someone builds a concrete-lined basement in New Orleans will it still fill with water? Are basements a doable thing or just a weird thing? Maybe I should move the scenario somewhere else. I just used New Orleans because I have a source book, appreciate the occult background the city has (which I fully intend to leverage in the future using Chaosium's Enlightened Magic book), and the players have experience with the city.

#15 rsanford

rsanford

    Master

  • Patron
  • Pip
  • 39 posts

Posted 26 November 2016 - 02:49 PM

2) All “Horror in RPGs” advice boils down to one thing: find the rugs under your PCs/players, and pull those out from under them. The first and most fundamental rug is that of the GM being ultimately “on the player’s side.” CoC starts to pull this rug by giving you a system and characters with close-to-realistic combat and mundane occupations, but as a GM you can keep going with the scenario you run: Prepare a scenario where you don’t know how to fix the problems the PCs face. Just lay out the situation, have the villains or vectors plan and act according to their capabilities and viewpoints. Don’t try to stymie the PC’s efforts, or it’ll just be an exercise in frustration, but *they* have to take point in grappling with the uncaring universe presented by you. And to do that, you really have to be as uncaring as possible.
 

 
The best way to make research and investigation interesting is to make it like real investigation and research, only with the hours of slogging removed. Don’t make them roll for it, don’t make up weird mechanics like you’re fighting the books with your mind or whatever.

When you come to the investigation part of the game, just say, “Okay, what are you trying to find, and how do you go about it?” and the characters narrate what they’re looking for, where they look or who they ask, and you as a GM answer their questions. If you need to roll Library Use or whatever, have it determine the speed of the research, not the content, or you can use the skill ratings as guidelines to the quality of content if you want, but generally mechanical speedbumps are distractions from the mystery and should be avoided.
 

 
DG’s SAN rules are more a streamlined, alternate ‘new edition’ of the CoC sanity rules, so you can either use one or the other entirely or move bits and pieces to the other as you see fit. In general, I’m a fan of the DG rules (I’m running a classic CoC game with them right now) and would recommend them for a new-to-CoC player over the CoC 6e rules, because I think they produce escalating insanity better (no goofy phobias) and are more fun to play in the short term (with the ‘fight, flee, freeze’ triad of choices for players).
 


Character generation in CoC is pretty quick, especially if you’re already familiar with BRP, but if you want to go the pregen route just leave the name and overall history of the character up to the players. “How do you know the other PCs?” and “Why are you [in spooky house etc]?” are the first two questions you ask.

 

Sorry I don't know how to use multiquote correctly. Its interesting what you said about running a scenario where you don't necessarily know how to solve the problems the characters face. I typically plan that type thing out in Stormbringer and while characters in that game die all the time there is always a way to do things without facing death. That's really a fundamental difference I need to embrace.  Also I like what you said about the right way to do research though I may add data that can be uncovered only by talking to people, as that will give more players the chance to interact. Reading the DG sanity rules (Haven't player DG yet) they seem to be more logical than what I have found in 6th edition CoC. Since we plan to run DG in the future maybe I should go ahead and adopt those rules now. As for the pregenned characters I am dusing them to keep the players from being too attached to the characters in the first game. If after the first game they like CoC I am sure we will write up characters.  Currently I am using Byankhee and have developed 8 characters for 3 players.



#16 Gaffer

Gaffer

    Lesser Independent

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,424 posts
  • LocationOrlando FL USA

Posted 26 November 2016 - 04:28 PM

The impossible basement that cannot be could be a great element, especially when Corbitt dies and all of a sudden water starts bursting through the walls since his wards no longer keep it out. Then they have to struggle to get out, maybe past the rotted stairs that collapsed when they came down (or almost did and now they give way).

Then maybe the now-undermined house begins collapsing too, leaving just a pit full of water and debris.
"Two in the head, you know he's dead." <heh-heh>

#17 PoC

PoC

    Breakfast Clubber

  • Administrator
  • 18,417 posts
  • LocationInnsmouth House, Yorkshire Branch

Posted 26 November 2016 - 04:35 PM

Sorry I don't know how to use multiquote correctly.

 
Hit the MultiQuote button in the bottom right of the post you want to quote. Then hit the MultiQuote again on other posts you also want to quote. You will see a pop-up window in the bottom right of the screen with a button saying "Reply to N quoted post(s)" - hit that button and continue.



#18 rsanford

rsanford

    Master

  • Patron
  • Pip
  • 39 posts

Posted 26 November 2016 - 06:14 PM

Thank you!







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: CoC 1-6e, Delta Green, Jazz Age, New to Cthulhu