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Masks of Nyarlethotep - our experience so far

Jazz Age

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#1 Agarwaen



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Posted 07 October 2017 - 04:00 AM

Hi All,

(apologies for Long post, for TL:DR see key learnings bottom).

Having been a shameless lurker for some time now, I thought it time to proffer up something to this wonderful site.

I decided to return to RPGs recently after many years and thought I might turn my hand to Call of Cthulhu. I come from a high fantasy Dragonquest/Rolemaster background, but have long been intrigued with Cthulhu and thought it might appeal to the friends I had in mind, so I began researching the game and materials.

Like so many of us post University, we can't play as we did, and it is tough to align schedules more than once per month, but thanks to Roll20 I have managed to slide in interim 2hr games where a couple of us play join the group remotely. To this end I wanted something with some campaign depth I wouldn't need to develop myself, but could improvise around.

As the title says, I soon fixed upon MoN. After an introductory session for two of my players who hadn't played any RPGs - we played the Haunting (ridiculously enjoyable for such a short adventure) - I turned my mind to the longer term plan. I'd bought MoN by then (and the excellent MoN Companion).

I was concerned that MoN would be overload for Cthulhu newbies, even those of us with long term RPG backgrounds, but buoyed by thoughts that my group were a resourceful lot by nature, I ploughed on.

Talk about sink or swim! The poor lost souls had a combat with four cultists at the hotel (only killing two), managed to grab all of poor Jackson's materials, before fleeing into the freezing night before the police came.

I'd had them rendezvous at Prospero Publishing in advance of the meeting with Jackson at the Chelsea hotel, so it wasn't too surprising when they made there way directly there to confide in Jonah and wade through the aftermath of a huge information overload. Good news for me, I'd hoped to use Jonah as a tentpole NPC and here they were looking to him.

The decision to play Jonah / Prospero in early had another roll on effect. Jonah had disclosed that the reason they had to meet Jackson later was that Jackson had gone off to some 'warehouse'.

Consequently, the business card for Emerson Imports (Silas N'Kwane handwritten on reverse) loomed large...

As luck would have it, JuJu was empty but for Silas when they attended. By now I think it is fair to say the group had a pretty dim view of Kenyan cultists and they soon established through some good investigative play that Silas was no good. Sadly for Silas they had no intention of leaving the shop when he tried to insist and things went a bit pear-shaped for him. The game concluded with them having found the basement grate, and smelling a weird mix of kerosene and something else.

The next (short) session they decided after some deliberation to explore the basement (empty but for six zombies and the chakota).

A more merciless keeper might have had a large number of Cultists attend as a result of Mukunga having some form of scrying spell on the basement, but I'd already decided against that, figuring Mukunga's hubris matched to over confidence in the resident zombies and chakota meant no alarms.

What ensued was a pretty scary (for them) and hilarious (for me) scene whereby one of them ran around blasting zombies with a shotgun while the others tried to not shoot each other, and finding that bullets were a bit useless against zombies. This last was because I'd decided to create a sense of powerlessness in the players by giving the zombies an inate damage absorbtion of 3 due to essentially just being automatons. It all seemed very fraught, but wasn't really - the zombies barely laid a hand on anyone as they lurched around, but the prospect of being grappled by zombies near a pit with some as yet unseen horror within had done its work on the players' minds.

The following (short) session the party attended the residence of Erica Carlyle, culminating in the theft of Roger's books from his safe.

The next (full) session was before and after Jackson's funeral. One of the players spotted some cultists observing them and decided to approach. The Cultists panicked and drove off, confirming in the minds of the players they were being watched.

The party went to the wake (held at Prospero) whereupon they made amends for an earlier lapse (incomplete debriefing of Erica Carlyle - too excited about finding where Roger's library was!). Feeling rather clever, and a bit under the weather, the group made to leave early in the evening. As they emerged into the snowing night they hopped into a taxi. All but one of them was inside the taxi when the Hunting Horror hit. WHAM.

Dead taxi driver. All but dead Librarian. Barely breathing ex soldier. Remaining party member alive and staggering in shock at what they had just barely seen.

What followed was a revealing insight into how far my little group had come in a few sessions. All but one of them has turned into would-be murdering hobos!

At the last they held counsel about next steps. I had expected London to be the preferred destination, but the group discussion focused more upon Kenya, reasonably arguing that on the face of it that was where the trouble seemed to be coming from. All of it academic in the end, they all decided if someone or something was sending Hunting Horrors at them then they need to be dealt with and have all decided to stay in NYC!

I guess Mr Mukunga is in some peril. One of the group has already postulated flare guns might help with the Hunting Horror. If he remembers to follow through on that and buys a few this group may yet avoid a TPK.

Looking ahead I have started to rewrite the Australian connection as a Polynesian/Easter Island theme (Norfolk Is, NZ and Easter Is having been settled by Polynesians sharing very similar language/culture in the 14th/15th Centuries). We are all based in Melbourne, and I felt that Easter Island (with Norfolk Island as a stepping stone) offered a more exotic location.

Key Learnings so far:
- the NYC part of MoN is very handout heavy compared to other parts and it can create overload - that said handouts are very powerful devices if you have research oriented players
- the nexus to the broader conspiracy and how it is why Elias is killed isn't necessarily evident yet. I am loathe to give the rocket away yet, or the Mukunga/Gavigan conection however
- murder hoboism is going to be a challenge sooner than I expected
- Hunting Horrors are bad. Very bad :)


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