I have been running three players through this classic campaign for a good number of months now. We have been pretty good at getting together Monday nights online and playing for a couple hours.
TWO HOUR GAME LIMIT.... This actually works out so well for me as a keeper. The prep I have to do is so minimal. They can only get so far off track in two hours!
I do not discourage any tangent they want to go on, and I have a week to figure out a clever way to let them do what they want and still progress through the campaign.
Because of this I have dropped whole chapters from Shadows as written. Sometimes I skip something completely, other times I substitute a completely different published adventure.
I have done a lot of writing.
I have learned how to read a chapter of the campaign, strip out everything that doesn't matter, and focus on the main thing that does.
I have learned to set up set pieces that must happen, but leave them open ended enough so they can crop up whenever the opportunity presents itself.
I have learned how to gently herd the players to these set pieces and edit them on the fly.
I have learned how to use the NPCs as the main thing that drives my end of the story.
Once I read the scenario I figure out who the NPCs are, and what they are trying to achieve. I then contemplate how they plan on doing this. I try to plan for what my PCs most likely will do, predict possible outcomes, make a few notes and run with it.
I think Shadows of Yogsothoth is a fantastic campaign.
I do not think it flows well from chapter to chapter. I do not think the chapters really even relate to each other very much.
Some of it is even ridiculous I dare say.
BUT! I have learned so much about running this game through my efforts in trying to make Shadows work.
We have about three sessions until the end.
I would recommend this campaign to any Keeper out there. I have been having a great time with it, and so have my players.
I was contemplating man's place in the cosmic scheme of things today. I am not exactly sure how the realization that we are incredibly insignificant is a source of horror.
A nihilist must just be a jaded optomist.
All this spooky cosmic horror just means that in the long run the pyramids of Egypt are as culturally significant as the box of my 1st grade school work mom has stored in the attic.
The universe is vast, indifferent, and uncaring. Even something as massive as the sun has a limit. It is as significant as the black sock lint between my toes.
And yet, here we are, capable of conceiving love, compassion, unity and kindness.
Azathoth sits at the middle, vomiting out chaos and nonsense. I sit here trimming the plum trees, mowing the lawn, and trying to feed my kids and put them to bed on some sort of schedule. (Because apparently kids feel happiest when they have structure in their lives, which is to say that they reject the nonsense Azathoth spouts at an early age)
I understand how my smart phone works just as much as I understand the cosmos. Even though this device terrifies me, I still really enjoy playing with it.
So how the hell am I supposed to describe the Horrors an investigator feels when I tell him he looks at the night sky and feels small?
I think I might write a horror game about public speaking. That is some freaky ****.
H.P. Lovecraft was afraid of immigrants and space. If I ran a game of Call of Cthulhu for Lovecraft.......
"You step outside. The sky above you stretches into infinity. Coming down the sidewalk you see a pair of men, obviously from a foreign country, conversing in a language you can not understand. Roll sanity.".
I don't know.
When I started writing this blog post I am pretty sure I had a point. I have no idea what that was now.
I suppose I could go back and re-read what I have written to figure it out.
If I don't even feel like reading this, I can imagine how you must feel.
I would totally give you a high-five if you wanted one though, if that makes you feel better!
I wonder how terrible my grammar is, and what that reveals about me.
After about 9 hours of play chapter on of the Shadows campaign is finished. No one died, but two of the three investigators are in the single digits of luck. Luck spending took all the punch out of the climactic villain. I am considering disallowing luck roles for combat. Then again, if not for the luck these characters would not survive to see chapter two!
the following blog is about to contain spoilers. It is all SPOILERS!!
Myron, Melborne, and Jackson have had some encounters with the mythos together. (Crimson Letters) This led them to making some friends and joining the Hermetic Order of the Silver Twilight. They enjoyed the cuisine, camaraderie and illegal booze offered by the club.
After some time they began to notice that there was something odd about the place, and the Head Philosopher John Scott.
As they looked deeper into the mystery of the club they ascended the ranks of membership achieving the level of Master. Eventually they were curious enough to gain access to the secret levels of the Hermetic Order, going as far as becoming Keepers of the Silver Gate.
after swearing an oath to Yog Sothoth the three realized they may have sullied their souls, as Prof. Armitage's guard dog at the Orn Library growled ferociously at them when they attempted to conduct a bit of research in the restricted section.
Eventually the three decided to explore the club after hours, finding a secret door in the basement floor which led them deep into the earth. Here they discovered ancient stonework wrought by a civilization that predated anything they had knowledge of.
They found cells and pits that contained unspeakable subhuman abominations.
They discovered an interesting Bas Relief depicting a squid headed monstrosity. They found star charts, books on science and astronomy. Then they rolled 02 on a spot hidden roll which revealed to them a secret compartment in a bookcase that contained the Necronomicon.
After finding this Greek translation of the fabled book they retreated to their own fortified underground bunker beneath Jackson's Auto Garage. It was here that the three (Jackson, Melborne, and Myron) poured over the unholy text, and made an Elder sign upon the door hoping to keep any evil from assailing them.
The following afternoon the three were interrupted from the study of the book by the odd phenomenon of a massacre of crows that had taken roost outside of the auto garage. Jackson was nearly pecked to death as he attempted to leave the area. They were being held prisoner within the garage.
Later John Scott arrived to ask for his book back. (necronomicon) They surrendered him the book. Melborne stayed hidden in the basement as Jackson and Myron were led away from the Auto Garage, forced into John Scotts automobile, and were driven to the Lodge of the Hermetic order.
Melborne followed them at a safe distance. He followed them into the basement, and down into the caverns below the earth. Melborne was crafty and sneaky. He was never noticed as John Scott and his weird servant goons locked Myron and Jackson into a subterranean cell.
After John Scott left, Melborne released his friends and they discovered the jars and vials filled with the essential salts of deceased people. They deciphered the writing upon the wall and experimented with raising the dead from the salts via the spell written on the wall. They also discovered how to send the resurrected back to salt by reciting the word in reverse.
They were alerted to the return of John Scott by the howls of protest proclaimed from the lips of Melborne's girlfriend Lucy Stone. Apparently John Scott had left to apprehend the third member of the investigator trio, and settled on his girlfriend when he was unable to find Melborne at home.
There was a fight. Luck spends made John Scott's lethal magic punchless. Multiple handgun and sub-machine gun rounds were pumped into the warlock, but he seemed unaffected, despite the fountains of blood that sprayed fourth from his multiple wounds. Eventually, through hand to hand combat, and a lucky shot that blew out John Scott's knee he was subdued, and then fed the barrel of a fully loaded colt 1911. This handgun was then unloaded into John Scott's mouth leaving nothing but a bloody stump of a neck with a lower jaw bone attached.
Lucy Stone was rescued, as was an acquaintance of their's James Clark, from a cell below.
The bodies of John Scott and his goons were hauled to the pentagram in a torture chamber in the deepest level of the caverns, and the spell was reversed sending them back to essential salts.
Melborne and Jackson went to the hospital where they left James Clark. Jackson also stayed behind as he was horribly wounded from the fight with John Scott. Myron went upstairs into the club and had a drink. He had a fleeting conversation with Abner Wick, the owner of the antique store down the street. Wick said things that made Myron feel very uneasy, and he excused himself and went home to sleep.
Lucy Stone told Melborne she had had enough of Arkham MA. She had been given a supporting role in a large budget film that was to start filming next month in California. She said she was going, and wanted Melborne to move west with her. Melborne said he would consider it.
The next day the three grabbed early editions of the Arkham Gazette excited to see photo's from the crows that had descended upon Jackson's Auto Garage. The front page told a different story however... In the early hours of the morning, several children at the Arkham Orphanage had died mysteriously in the night from several fatal gunshot wounds.
With the exception of Jackson, the investigators realized that the children had been enchanted by John Scott to soak up any physical harm that might befall him, and the deaths of those children were caused by the bullets they had fired deep below the city of Arkham in ancient and forgotten caverns of misery and woe.
Whatever sanity they gained from completing chapter one was lost when they learned of this horrible development.
with the exception of Jackson Wilder of course, who only skimmed the story while happily munching his toast from his bed in the recovery wing of whatever hospital he was in. The story about the crows in section B got all his attention that morning.
I have started running shadows of Yog Sothoth. In the first episode I wanted the characters to get to feel at home in the society... So after the ritual of joining to become neophytes they spent a great evening drinking illegal booze.
I described John Scott, and went into detail about how he was shaking their hand while meeting them. Each character got his own little handshake scene.
I did this mainly to try put the creeps into one of the characters, describing the way John Scott held his grip the whole time they were talking.
It seems I achieved the opposite effect!
I am not sure if my players are just roleplaying, or if they actually have what seems to be "man crushes" on John Scott.
I hope it is man crush!
There was some roleplaying, but actually a lot more bookkeeping! I had them rolling ticks from Crimson Letters, and I gave them bonuses to Credit Rating, and occult for joining the order.
I told them about how they have been going to meetings, but mostly hanging out, eating, drinking and smoking while having interesting conversations with fascinating people. They participated in the society blood drive!
This opening scene really felt more like an epilogue to Crimson Letters.
I think that linking the society to all the positive stuff like ability increase, will make the discovery of the dark side of the society more horrible for them.
I changed the name of the society to the Eye of Amara. I had mentioned this society earlier a few times in previous games. The hermetic order of the silver twilight is the secret society inside the Eye of Amara.
Rupert Merriweather is an NPC. He is from the Edge of Darkness scenario. I have him as a founding member of the Eye of Amara who is a little bothered by the new members, Sanford and Scott.
I might need him in case of character death, a TPK.
New characters can join the society and pick up the pieces after going through Edge of Darkness.
Just my little contingency plan.
Well! Tonight we game.
I have been playing the Crimson Letters scenario over skype with some friends. We play for a couple of hours every monday night. Tonight I used a brand new USB microphone. The good news... I sound better than ever! The bad news? I didn't notice that the usb mic changed the audio input on the recording software. It recorded only my voice. nothing from the three players on skype made it on the audio track.
I don't have plans to podcast these games. I do find it very entertaining to listen back to them though. We have played and recorded seven sessions of games so far. I have noticed so many things about my Keeping that I don't like! I have been working on these perceived flaws. Recording my games has made me a better Keeper undoubtedly.
It also really simplifies my game prep. When I listen back to the previous session it is a great reminder of what happened, and it helps me to anticipate what might happen next. I sit down with the notebook, write down a few ideas, jot down some notes about NPC reactions... i spend about an hour. That is it. An hour! prep is done, and every session seems better than the last.
Tragically, I do not have my audio file to listen to this week. I thought we were going to finish it up tonight, but alas. We need one more session!!!!
So.. I am going to do this the old fashioned way and blog the doings that transpired this monday evening.
Are you ready?
Melborne and Myron drove to Jackson Wilder's auto garage. Jackson was just finishing up repairing some vehicle. They told him what they had learned....
1.) Abner Wick at Unconsidered Trifles antique store was aware that Leitner had the Arkham Witch Papers. He offered Leitner a handsome sum of money for them, but Leitner decided to shop them around some more. Abner told them that the safest place for the papers would be with himself, and that he knew how to "take care of them" and protect Arkham from the horror they contained. Melborne and Myron also related that they had a bad feeling about this guy Abner.
2.) There was a bus crash at the Arkham City limits last night. No one survived the crash, and all were horribly mangled except for the passenger Lucy Stone, who was not among the dead and is unaccounted for.
3.) In the early afternoon Cecil Hunter was broken out of the Arkham Asylum and is currently at large.
4.) Harold Roach and Amelia Court are missing from the University. There was blood on the floor of Court's office, her jacket and coat were still hanging from her chair. There was also blood on a desk sized copy of Rodan's "The Lovers" statue.
5.) Part of the Arkham Witch papers where on the desk in their office. (the less interesting parts) They have been returned to a very relieved Dean Fallon.
The three investigators drove to Harold Roach's house.
In the basement they found Lucy Stone and Amelia Court bound and gagged in the basement. Harold roach was lying dead of a massive head wound, and Cecil Hunter was drawing strange symbols on the concrete basement wall with a thick piece of chalk.
Possessed by the thing in the papers, Cecil charged the investigators with a length of iron pipe. Myron shot him in the leg, and Jackson blasted him in the knee. Cecil crumpled to the ground, but resisted being restrained as if he felt no pain at all. Melborne prepared a rag soaked in ether from his doctor bag and successfully administered the drug to Cecil. Cecil passed out.
Jackson surveyed the room While Melborne and Myron freed the girls. Melborne made sure that Roach was indeed dead. Jackson found the remaining witch papers. All three copies were in the basement. The papers were scooped into Melborne's doctor bag. Cecil was placed in the trunk of the car, and the girls in the back seat with Melborne. They drove them to Miskatonic university.
Jackson entertained the girls with an impromptu sock puppet show in the car while Melborne and Myron carried the papers to Dean Fallon.
Fallon had gone home for the day. They then took the papers to the Orne Library hoping to have then safely filed away in the restricted section. Here they met Henry Armitage who looked over the papers. These were the diary of Keziah Mason and detailed a curse she called down upon the members of the jury who sentenced her to death for being a witch. It called for the death of these men and their families by way of "the beast" The blood of these people would then open a gate by which she could return to our dimension through space and time. There was also a page describing a ritual for summoning the beast complete with symbols and instructions in phonetic Sumerian!
Armitage agreed they were dangerous and locked them away in the restricted area, thanking the men for returning the papers to the University.
The girls had their sanity restored by the hilarious antics of Jackson Wilder's sock puppet. He had used the sock many times before in the war to lift the spirits of the men in the trenches.
The five of them (plus Cecil in the boot) drove to Amelia courts house. Melborne stayed with the girls while Myron drove Jackson and Cecil (who was moved to the backseat) to the Arkham Sanitarium. Morphine was given to Cecil, as well as smelling salts. When Cecil came to Jackson interrogated him about how he broke out of the Sanitarium. Cecil told him that Lucy Stone had torn off the grate from his window and pulled him out. He said she was covered in mud and had black and red worms writhing from her mouth. Her eyes glowed red. He was scared of her, and that is all he remembers.
Back at Amelia Court's house, Melborne Hypnotizes Lucy Stone to find out what happened to her after he dropped her at the bus station. She remembered falling asleep then waking up in Roach's basement. Roach attacked her and she hit him hard with a pipe. Then Cecil hunter was there. He glared at her with red eyes, and she blacked out! Then Lucy's eyes rolled in her head and she told Melborne that the chosen were to become one. To free the beast, the beast with two backs must be made. Melborne asked who the chosen ones were. Lucy replied...
You Are, Amelia is, Cecil, and Me.
It was about then that Myron and Jackson came through the door carrying Cecil. They decided he was innocent, and suffering from possession just as Melborne had been earlier, and that Lucy stone was the evil one!
Melborne was visibly shaken and said that the four of them should not be in the same room together!
Amelia Court said that was fine with her, and demanded that everyone leave, except Lucy, who she invited to stay.
The three investigators left with Cecil. They fed him more Morphine and dropped him off at the sanitarium... ding dong ditch style.
The three then went out for a nice steak diner and discuss plans.
They figured that they had solved the case and hoped that **** got back to normal soon.
They left together and dropped Melborne off with his car at Jackson's auto shop. As Jackson drove away with Myron riding shotgun he looked back surprised to see that Melborne had not gotten into his car, and was making his way across people's yards. He was heading toward Miskatonic University.
Melborne's eyes were glowing red.
Here endeth the session.
it was our best yet.
I am so crabby that the audio didn't record. The players roleplayed so awesome.
they didn't fix anything, and the fit is going to hit the shan next week.
Playing in person has gotten to be something of a pipe dream for me. I have now managed to run a game on three consecutive Mondays in a row over Skype with some old high school friends.
While the two previous games went well, they did not satisfy like a normal game around the table.
Tonight was different. It was better. I am not sure if I am just getting accustomed to playing over skype, or if I am forgetting what a normal game is like.
Probably a little of both.
Tonight we started playing "The Crimson Letters" from the 7th ed book. I really like this scenario. It is different.
There is a murder and some missing mythos papers to find. Then there is a list of NPCs that are involved with the case. Each NPC has a quick bio, some roleplaying suggestions, and reasons why they may have taken the papers.
I get to choose who did it.
It gives a few locations, some clue ideas, and a bit about the monster and suggestions how to destroy it.
That is pretty much it.
I really like this format. It is simple and flexible. It gives me just enough to get my creativity primed... Then it steps back and let's me run it.
From now on, I am going to try see if I can't simplify any scenario I run to fit this sort of format.
It allows me to focus more on the actions of the players to help push the story along. This cuts way down on my prep time.
Well, it is a great little scenario. If you have the means check it out!
Finished running "The Horror From the Shed" from the Blasphemous Tome by the Good Friends of Jackson Elias. We played over Skype. I dropped in elements from The Crimson Letters" from the 7th ed keepers book, pretty much using "Horror From the Shed" as an intro to that adventure.
Charles Leitner contacted a couple Miskatonic students to help him appraise the property of a Mrs. Holden. She willed a box of items to Miskatonic (Arkham witch papers). The rest of her estate was to be auctioned off. The proceeds to be split between the Daughters of the American revolution and Jackson Wilder ( her nephew).
Jackson made friends with the Miskatonic students, Myron and Melbourne, while Charles Leitner made off with the witch papers.
While appraising the Holden property, Jackson, Myron and Melbourne encountered the deranged cemetery grounds keeper Gerald Rose. Gerald was an ex Miskatonic mycology professor experimenting with a mi-go fungal strain that reanimated fresh corpses from the grave yard.
It ended in a bloodbath, with all investigators surviving the ordeal. The police involved wanted nothing to do with the reality of the situation.
Gerald Rose went down as a twisted necrophiliac, and his home, shed, wife, and zombie friends all met a firey end.
It was tons of fun, and we will start The Crimson Letters next Monday.
I ran my first game over Skype this evening. It went pretty well, i think. I played with a random stranger i met on YSDC. I certainly felt a bit nervous or self conscious. It is something I have been wanting to do for some time now, and I finally frikkin did it! So I am happy now. Whew. We played a selection from monophobia ( which I learned about from YSDC). Robinson Gruesome was the scenario. The character pretty much ran headlong into danger. He was marooned on this island in Micronesia you see... He survived a shark attack, found shelter, water, food.. and was torn asunder and devoured by a lovecraftian monster after being on the island for about 36 hours.
My next personal goal is to run something for more than one person.
You know.... It was fun. It was nice to play with a new person. The Skype worked well.
I think that sitting around a table playing with people is the best way to play, but there isn't anything wrong with playing over skype.
It is way better than not playing at all!
I probably should not have drank that espresso though. Next time I will pour a glass of Old Crow bourbon.
I ran the Haunting Saturday night for my brother and my old friend Carl. It was Carl's first game of CoC. Almost cancelled the game because our other friend couldn't make it, but decided to just go with two players anyway.
They played a couple of Miskatonic University students back in Boston for spring break 1922!! Mort, and Patrick. Mort decided to help out his brother in law with "the house".
Patrick scored an extreme success while charming the receptionist at the Boston Harald. She ended up going with them to the haunted house.
That worked out awesome, as Walter Corbit dominated her. If it wasn't for Nancy (the receptionist) the two investigators would have had to battle each other..
In the end no one died except for Mr. Corbit. Lead pipe to the dome. Three times.
Mort was down to two hit points, but made it through.
Everyone passed every sanity roll!! They ended the adventure more sane than when they started.
It was fun
The Time to Harvest campaign dovetailed nicely with my desire to use the M.U. sourcebook rules for generating student investigators.
A Time to Harvest is centered on the Miskatonic University.
Making a student with the MU rules is basically the same as normal, but with lowered skill points.
Players select classes and extra curricular activities every semester to increase the skills they have (through learning at the school)
It will take a long time to make characters this way. The benefit I see by using this system is that if a group gets together and rolls up the character semester by semester.... There is a great opportunity for story telling during creation.... Explaining why you failed French 101 (rolling a fumble on the grade roll).
What class can improve the sneak skill?
If you want to improve sneak... Maybe join a fraternity and roll to see if you are successful at smuggling a keg onto the campus.
Want to improve brawling? Join the hockey team!
By the time the students graduate, players will know exactly why the stats are what they are, making the characters easier to roleplay. It should also provide lots of opportunities for the players to establish connections to other players' characters.
There are less skill choices in 7th ed. It looks like students will have some inflated scores due to this. (If they survive until graduation)
It seems fine to me, if the characters are a bit more gifted. It would be a shame to put all the extra work into character generation only to die once things got weird. It is also a reward for playing "college pretend" rather than "call of Cthulhu"
It is actually pretty fun though, really.
I am still working my way through the Miskatonic University source book, hoping to assimilate the contents before I present it to the kids.
I decided to dust off the old "Cults Across America" by Atlas games for this sunday's recreation. This is the first time I have played this game with 5 players, and it was a lot of fun. I would recommend this game to anyone. You get a +1 to combat rolls if you control the Miskatonic marching band!
My brother won.
If you do get this game, I advise buying another, larger map of the USA to use as a game board.
Here is a pic of the board that comes with the game on top of the map I eventually used.
I used a sharpie to make the Map into a game board.
There just isn't enough room on the board that comes with the game to fit all the counters.
It is like playing a demented game of Risk, with the necronomicon and Cthulhu and the dreamlands.
We are all new to playing Call of Cthulhu. Board games like this help to switch tracks from D&D.
I hope! I think?
I have no idea why a game that takes so much more work to prepare and so much game time is spend in libraries, is more exciting than massacring trolls and looting dungeons.
Gods of Miskatonic is a book by Zachary Hill. I finished reading it this morning. It is chock full of elder gods and teen angst!
I am not an author, so I don't really feel equipped to review a book. It had some typos, but thanks to context clues, I breezed through it no prob. I don't think Lovecraft would have written this book. Should you read it? go ahead! I will not give you any spoilers but I will tell you what the BEST part of this book was.......
The main character knows a lot of stuff about the mythos. She knows more than anyone really should. Her new college friends are being introduced to the mythos for whatever reason. The main character warns them away from it, saying (something to the effect of)
"The more you delve into the mythos, the more the mythos takes an interest in you!"
That was the best part. I am not sure if that is in the rules of Call of Cthulhu, but it should be!
I am pretty new to this game. I find it difficult to imagine why any character after having a run in with this weirdness would ever want to experience more of it by choice. Also, if the Mythos is so underground and rare, why would anything Cthulhu related happen over and over to the same investigators? what are the odds of that?
BUT if messing about with the mythos makes it more likely that it will mess about with you, well, the end result of that is a premature and unnatural death! But with some good times for the players along the way.
Like... once you touch the necronomicon it leaves a stain on you.
anyway. It helps me work out a way for the players to keep using the same investigators.
I am reading the Miskatonic University sourcebook cover to cover. I decided that if I wanted to run some university scenarios it wouldn't hurt to have a good working knowledge of the place.
The Gods of Miskatonic reads like it could have been someones campaign. It is set at the University and makes for a nice example of play. If the author writes a sequel, I would read it.
Well, I am going to go read about the people on the campus some more.
one day I will kick off this campaign.
one of these days.
I have decided the direction I want this campaign to go, and so I have a lot of reading to do!
We started off as Miskatonic students, and played through the Edge Of Darkness from the rulebook.
A couple of months ago I played a game on Roll20 where the keeper ran "a little Knowledge" from the Miskatonic sourcebook. I had a lot of fun playing in that. Asenath Waite scared the hell out of me, and we didn't even really encounter her in the game at all!
So I bought that Miskatonic book, even though I had the old one, just for that little scenario.
The new version of Miskatonic is awesome. The cover art is pretty meh, but for once you can't judge a book by the cover! It is so chock full of Miskatonic goodness I have decided that we should roll up new characters and have them advance as students. They have rules for that in this book.
My most enthusiastic player is a 16 year old kid who has just started reading and loving the Lovecraft fiction. He wanted to play a character from the novels. I said "sure!" he said "Armitage!" I said "NO!..... how about Edward Derby?" "OK" he said.
He was the one character who died last game. Edward Derby is dead!
Due to the high mortality rate of the game, I doubt anyone will mind making up new characters, saving last weeks for later in case of death.
Then! (this is the exciting part) I will turn back time to the FIRST DAY OF CLASS 1928. Freshmen orientation. The new characters will choose majors, enroll in classes.. stuff like that (character creation through campus roleplaying) The beauty thing is that they will come in contact with their old characters, briefly.. especially Edward Derby. And Derby will be hanging out with Asenath and her Bohemian cronies....
They will come to understand that she is dating Edward Derby. Then I will play up how creepy and attractive and disturbing she is.
And I will let that realization creep creep into their little meta-game minds.
I plan to run these new characters through some campy cheesy campus fun adventures.. nothing mythos, What better way to practice the 7th ed chase rules than with a good old fashioned panty raid!
Then I will leave off with the death of Darby... and start in on the "A little Knowledge" scenario. and continue on after that with some sort of full fledged grudge with Asenath. maybe a possesion? it is too soon to tell.
But I think I have a great place to start.
Edge of darkness, Take Two.
A new player showed up, and an old one couldn't make it this weekend. The last game went way off the rails due to my amateur meddling with the plot as laid out in my Call of Cthulhu 5.6 ed rule book. This time there was no deviation, and we all found out why this gem of an adventure is included in the rules!
All three investigators are students at Miskatonic University. They never would have gotten the opportunity to attend a nice ivy league school like Miskatonic if it wasn't for the generosity of Mr Rupert Merriweather. All past recipients of the Rupert Merriweather scholarship, they felt obliged to find out why he wanted to meet with them on his death bed in the hospital. This is where Mr. Merriweather tells them of his past misdeeds of messing about with occult forces. Just before he spews a gout of blood from his lungs he gives the students a box chock full of clues!
The investigators pour over the contents, learn of a house in the small community of Ross's Corners where this evil thing was summoned and is bound to until the last of the summoners has died. Then they find out Merriweather died.
The crew hops a bus to Ross's Corners and is let out at the church across from the post office/general store. Two old men eyed them suspiciously. Edward, the student of Occult Studies, questioned these men about creatures from other dimensions, a carriage accident from 40 years ago, the nature of time, and local haunting. They basically told him to get a girlfriend. Getting nowhere with these old geezers, Mark lit off down Boone Road in pursuit of his two companions. Eunice the Ag student, and Mark the Med student were a good 1/2 mile down the road by the time Edward caught up to them.
After a brisk 40 minute walk the trio arrived at the secret house of Merriweather's Brotherhood of Darkness. A search of the premises revealed the occult symbols decorating the windows and doors. A bum was discovered in the basement. The bum was able to flee the investigators to the safety of the deep dark woods. The boys let him go. Then they found a cigar box stuffed with a do it yourself ritual kit for summoning/un-summoning evil entities.
Once they decided exactly what to do, they set about preparing to perform a two hour ritual at midnight to dis spell the evil Merriweather and his gloomy friends unleashed upon the farm.
A fire, a chalk pentagram on the floor, some candles, a bit of sulfer with copper oxide and a well rehearsed chant in reverse kicked things off at the stroke of twelve.
At first things went smoothly. The three worked out a rotation where two were chanting and one was resting, and they had cycled through this a dozen times before they finally heard some troubling activity in the attic above. Howls, banging, bad smells, and black acidic goo dripping from the ceiling assaulted the boys while they chanted. Nothing it seemed could distract them from their purpose however, as they chanted right through the noise. The foundation rocked, plaster dust fell from the ceiling the whole maddening affair rose to a crescendo, and them stopped.
Through the window a cry for help was heard. Mark (the doctor student) peered through the broken glass to spy a woman bloodied and crawling toward the house.
If the maddening chorus of the chant was not enough to unnerve them and the cacophony of the creature upstairs could not break their concentration, then surely this poor woman would usher in the breaking point.
sad as it seemed, the guys kept right on chanting. That was when she was attacked. She was attacked by the creepy bum they let get away earlier in the day. Her screams were pathetic, inhuman. Then they stopped.
a moment later there came a pounding on the door, as the bloodied face of the woman was screaming through the small window for them to open up. Then a pounding on the picture window revealed the bum. It was obvious there was something seriously wrong with both of them, as massive gaping holes were punched through their chests right where the heart should have been.
finally, someone snapped. crack. temporary insanity for Edward the student of the occult. freaked out and shaken, he just really wanted to finish the chant with renewed vigor! he started repeating everything Eunice was chanting. not together, like how they practiced, but like in a round. you know... a round. like when you repeat an oath word for word.
this was seriously affecting Eunice's ability to keep the proper rhythm of the chant. Mark noticed this instantly and pulled an ether soaked rag from out his medical kit.
Mark lunged for Edward to silence his off beat chanting. Edward attempted to dodge. He rolled 0-0. "that's good, right?" asked the player.
"Oh, no." said I. "no that is the opposite of good"
(inside I felt like a 14 year old girl at a One Direction concert) (I might have peed a little bit)
Edward tripped when he dodged, and fell through the rotton door exposing his upper torso to the refreshing night air, and the clacking teeth of the zombie girl who promptly bit his face.
This horrible scene caused Mark the doctor student to lose his grip on reality. Something primal within him was unleashed at the site of his new friend being bitten into. "The taste of human flesh! how novel! how wonderful! I must have some too!" he thinks.
Edward managed to break free from the grasp of the zombie girl and pull himself back into the house. With a large flap of skin that was once his cheek hanging from his chin he suddenly found himself set upon by Mark, who promptly buried his teeth into his shoulder.
Eunice was quite the trooper through all this. I am sure his eyes were well bulged out as he made san roll after san roll chanting away like a broken record while watching his friend eating his other friend. The Zombies outside loved this display of hostility inside the house. They started to do unspeakable things to each other on the rotten wood floor of the porch all before the unblinking eyes of Eunice by the silvery light of the full moon.
Suddenly something began to obscure Eunice's view of the cannibal undead orgy unfolding before him. Smoke, wisps of it at first, began to appear in the center of the pentagram. Edward finally died as Mark tore out a big league hunk of flesh from his neck.
As blood pooled about the floor, Mark masticated in bewilderment as a form began to take shape inside the pentagram.
Soon the form of the creature was visible. many mouthed, limbed and freakish it was a terror to behold. I gave Mark a pass on this san check, but for Eunice it all came down to this.
A failed san roll would almost certainly cause him to stutter in his chant...blowing the ritual.
the roll? a 24. another passed check! "Ice water in the veins" Eunice spoke the backwards latin one final time and poof! The creature was gone! A bit of amber with a bug trapped in it rattled about in the tiny gold sarcophagus at the foci of the pentagram. the lid snapped shut.
all went quiet.
and then enough combat rounds expired to allow Mark his sanity back! but with a mouth full of Edward, I had him make another check right off.
he passed it no problem.
I am seriously worried about that med student.
We decided he threw up though.
and lost three points sanity anyway.
But the whole thing was so messed up. He doesnt think he actually did eat part of Edward, he just thinks he did. And that is a lot different from actually eating someone. So he can live with that. cause it got crazy.
Eunice isn't even sure what happened.
They both put it all down to the evil influence in the room.
And we ended there with 10 minutes to spare from our self imposed time limit of 4 hours to play.
that included some character creation too.
and THAT right there, that game we played... that felt good. that was fun.
This game is really fun!
--------------Edward the occult studies guy (dead)
--------------Mark the med student (temporary cannibal)
--------------Eunice the agriculture student (hero!!)
After finishing the game session yesterday, I had a feeling that I did a poor job. It wasn't until after I wrote up the synopsis that I realized things went just fine!
My main problem was that I had spent time making some great props.
I rewrote the newspaper article from Edge of Darkness, and made up another one of my own that I typed up as well. I used the PDF newspaper editor thing I found through the Cthulhu Reborn site. It makes for very handsome and realistic looking newspaper clippings. I also printed off a photograph of the boys from the "dark brotherhood" to include with the journal of Rupert Merriweather. (thanks to Augustus for putting it in the forums)
I really wanted to get to these cool props sometime during the game!
It never happened.
I introduced the players to the scenario in a different way than what is printed in the book. Because of this there was no reason their characters would have gone to any trouble to research anything (outside of metagaming.)
The players are too inexperienced with the game for that to be an issue. They are as babes groping about in the dark.
So what did I learn?
1.) If I really want to players to get a certain handout (or anything for that matter) make it an obvious thing for them to achieve. 2.) Be patient and have more confidence in myself as a storyteller. 3.) Don't fret if a two hour scenario takes six hours to complete. As long as there is action and intrigue and it is not boring, playing is playing! 4.) a night's rest and morning reflection is all the perspective I need to figure out how to advance the story from where the players ended up leaving it. 5.) the best form of preparation is to read the adventure a few times. Not to memorize, but to Visualize!
When it comes down to it...
did we make some skill checks? YES did we find clues? YES did we lose some sanity? YES did we see a dead body? YES did we encounter the Mythos? YES did anyone die or go insane? YOU BET! do they want to play next week? YES
It was a good game. I can see places where I could improve. I look forward to next sunday.
This is my third time running a game of Call of Cthulhu.
It was the first scenario that I actually put a lot of work into getting ready for.
Two of the three players had never played COC. (We normally play a modified version of 1st ed AD&D)
The characters where all students of Miskatonic in 1928.
One was a 5th year medical student, who, due to the stresses of medical school had started hanging out
with a pair of freshmen who are involved in illegal alcohol trade. This pair are the other two characters.
One is a farm boy with a taste for strong drink who has been sent to Miskatonic by his prosperous farming family
to study modern agriculture. The other is attending class at Miskatonic mainly as a front for his alcohol sales and
so he can have access to his most lucrative clients, MU students.
Saturday morning a call is received from the jail at Ross's Corners north of Arkham. Red Jake, Miskatonic janitor and weekend still operator, was picked up in Ross's Corners under suspicion concerning the disappearance of a farmer's wife in the area.
Red Jake has his still in the woods near this creepy abandoned farm house. He makes the whiskey that supplies Stan (our player character).
Red Jake calls Stan cause he is nervous, scared and wants him to bring his white friends to Ross's Corners to explain his alibi and get him out of jail.
The sheriff of Ross's Corners listens to the PC's and sympathizes, but wont release Jake without the $200 bail. He agrees that he has an alibi, but wants to wait for monday morning when they can tell the judge. In the meantime he has his deputy out looking for the woman.
The PC's decide they need to find the woman so Jake can go free. They also think to dismantle and hide the still should the man hunt uncover it.
All this time I am dropping hints about the creepy house. They have dinner at a cafe and hear it mentioned, they question the missing woman's husband and he mentions it. Even the sheriff mentioned the place. They eventually go there, but no one went to the library first! seriously why would they? why? beacause I made handouts? haha.
The investigators drive up to the "Academic House" (as the locals refer to it) They spot a dead racoon with a curious wound in its chest. The doctor ascertains the wound to be very bizarre indeed, and the the heart has been removed.
Strange occult symbols are noticed carved around the lintel of the door. The door is locked. They kick it in. The discover a hobo squatter in the basement who tries to maim Stan with a broken table leg as he bust out the house and sprints away. Otis (the freshman farm kid) armed with a lever action 30/30 takes a shot at him, and manages to wound him in the ass. (he rolled a pair of ones for damage).
The hobo crashes into the underbrush at the edge of the woods and then starts screaming like mad, The investigators rush up to find the hobo, and the dead body of some woman with a chest wound identical to the racoon, the heart eaten out of her.
They subdue the hobo and lock him in the trunk of the car. This is when they locate the still and dismantle and hide it away figuring the police will look around after they tell them about the dead woman.
They hear a scream.
They return to the house to find the trunk wretched open and the hobo gone except for a fair amount of blood.
From the corner of his eye, Otis notices a strange swirling form, invisible, yet physical, flow its way into the attic window of the house.
The odd sight costs him a small bit of his sanity.
The group storms into the house. The doctor student, Bill, jumps upon the kitchen table and forces the trap door to the attic open.
He boosts his upper torso up into the attic space for a look. Something hits him hard in the head. He falls down to the table, bleeding.
The other two have no time to react when suddenly Bill bolts upright unnaturally, like a marionette, then is whisked up into the attic.
A horrible rending sound is heard, and then bills headless body fall back down through the attic to the table. Blood gushes everywhere. Sanity is lost, as the two remaining investigators flee to the car.
a critical (00) drive check has them drive over a stump, The car is hung up. They run down to the road and are practically hit by the deputy in his car. they are taken into town and held for questioning.
here ends session ONE.