Gatsby and the Great Race (Scenario)
Artist(s): Paul Fricker
Appears in: Gatsby and the Great Race (Monograph).
A Garden Party & The Running of the Great Race
You know Julian Gatsby. He recently inherited the family home following the sad demise of his father. Julian is a free-spirited young man, in his mid-20s, and a new fan of the horse races. You arrive for a fabulous garden party and are shown to your room. Other guests arrive shortly after. In a few hours you will gather in the garden for an enjoyable afternoon of food, drink, stimulating conversation, and the radio broadcast of the Great Race.
This scenario has the capacity for up to 32 people to be involved, playing in several overlapping games. On the surface this scenario is in the traditional Call of Cthulhu mold, based at a country house in the late 1920s. It can be run as a single game with one keeper and up to six players, in the usual manner, but what sets it apart is that it is designed to be run as two or more parallel games. To date it has been run successfully with four simultaneous games, using a total of seven keepers and twenty-four players. Whichever option you go for, the basic game concept remains the same: Julian Gatsby has meddled in matters that he should not have, leaving the players and himself to experience strange and mysterious events -- until the players find a solution.
Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only
Players should not read any further.
Gatsby and the Great Race is a unique Call of Cthulhu scenario, not because of its plot but because of the format of the adventure and the opportunities for running multiple concurrent versions of the game.
The plot is straightforward: Julian Gatsby is a 1920s playboy descended from a wealthy family but which has fallen on hard financial times. Rummaging through some old things his grandfather brought back from travels around the world decades ago, Gatsby discovers a ritual that promises the ability to jump backwards in time. The spell sends the caster back only about an hour, and from there they must relive the hour they have skipped backwards across. With the knowledge of this ability, Gatsby conceives a plan to make his riches by waiting until a horse race occurs in which a total outsider wins, jumping backwards and placing a large bet on the horse in question.
On the same day as the particular race which turns out to present the best opportunity for such gain, Gatsby happens to be hosting a garden party at which all the characters are guests. After listening to the race, Gatsby excuses himself and disappears to cast the ritual. Which is when things begin to go wrong. By accident, during the ritual the ceramic disc which forms its focus gets knocked over and breaks into several parts. This causes an odd thing to occur -- rather than simply transporting Gatsby, the ritual places the entire house into a time loop in which everyone endlessly relives the same hour. Furthermore, the mystical forces of the ritual cause the fragments of the disc to be strewn across several different parallel realities.
The task of the characters is to figure out some way to escape the loop.
As written, the game offers the unusual opportunity of running up to four concurrent versions of the same scenario, with each group of players living out one of the parallel realities into which a disc fragment has been sent. The different groups play in different (but nearby) rooms with different Keepers. The characters in each game are similar but different: some have the same name, others have slightly different names. The relationships between the characters also differs. The layout and decor of Gatsby's house is also different in each version of the game.
Initially the parallel games run entirely independently, but later events cause players to end up skipping from one game to another. The primary mechanism by which this happens is possession. In addition to the various versions of reality which are being played, there are other splintered versions of reality in which the characters have figured out more of what is occurring, and also how to hold a seance to "summon up" the personality of a character from a different reality. When this happens, the player whose character has been contacted is removed from the game in which they are playing, blindfolded and taken to yet another room where a different keeper runs a short solo exchange between the character and the group holding the seance. After this possession has been played out, the player re-enters one of the games, but not the one they were originally part of.
As well as offering this parallel mode of presentation, there is also a way to run it with a single group.
Player Handouts: Card describing effects of Amnesia, Letter to Gatsby from his grandfather
Locations: The house of Julian Gatsby can be located in either England or America.
Creatures: The disc used in Gatsby's time travel ritual is somehow associated with Yog-Sothoth.
Tomes and Artifacts: Gatsby's Time-Jump Disc.
Campaigns / Scenarios:
The book title is a little deceptive -- The Great Race it refers to isn't the Mythos race of that name but rather the horse race that Gatsby plans to bet on to win his fortune.
Included are three floorplans for different versions of Gatsby's house as well as pre-generated characters for three different parallel versions of the game (with eight characters per game). The scenario requires these characters be used.
Running the parallel concurrent version of the scenario obviously requires a lot of careful planning, however the book contains detailed instructions, obviously honed by several convention runs of the adventure.