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FreddieF

The Keepers of the Woods now available

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FreddieF

The Keepers of the Woods, an expanded version of the one sheet scenario I wrote for the RPGGeek Gumshoe competition, is now available to download from the Trail of Cthulhu resources page:

 

http://site.pelgranepress.com/?tag=download&cat=10#adventures

 

It clocks in at 34 pages, including five pregens, two maps and four handouts.

 

If you have chance to run it at some point, I'd be interested to know how it goes!

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Tony Williams

I see you got the hang of the fonts etc. It looks splendid. From little acorns...

 

Tip of the hat.

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FreddieF

Thanks Tony. Layout and positioning the art so the text maintained some kind of integrity was one of the biggest hurdles...

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JeffErwin

This may prove useful for my Elizabethan campaign...

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FreddieF

Should be easy to tweak it for any time period or setting :)

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vincentVV

A wonderful scenario... with some additions and working on it. I'm about to run it for a 2-person group and made a lot of work to make it logical at last.

It has a great atmosphere and potential (especially I liked a part about "how to roleplay npcs"), but in my mind some points are very weak:

 

(I don't know how to make spoilers yet - so PLAYERS DON'T READ FURTHER! =)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- it's very hard to get the Testamentum and reveal father Blakely's involvement;

- Hounds of Tindalos look strange here. Dark Young could be much better ))

- without Testamentum the "bad ending" is nearly unavoidable.

- the "hairy hands" legend looks strange and rather stupid.

 

Besides this the scenario is great. Highly recommend it.

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FreddieF

Cool - hope you enjoy running the scenario! I've responded to comments in the spoiler below, which I hope explains some of the choices behind antagonists and helps with some of the issues.

 

 

In response to your comments, I've never had a problem with players finding the Testamentum at all - if they follow the clues, they always investigate the church and the vestry, and the book is found with a simple search. Translating it is difficult with occult etc plus languages needed, but two investigators can work together on this and the info is a core clue, so no spend required.

 

Blakely 's involvement can come from investigating the church, but also by pressing Hannah Bucknam over Blackwood death once the investigators realise she has been murdered. Press her hard enough and she will crack, revealing that Blakely visited her husband before Blackwood murder and his disappearance.

 

The other factors are all because the mythos elements are based on actual English folklore legends from Dartmoor. The Yeth hounds are a Dartmoor legend - the equivalent of hell hounds - so Hounds of Tindalos make a nice fit. These actually appear in and are suggested to be Hounds of Tindalos in Cthulhu Britannica Folklore, from which I gained some of the inspiration for the hound.

 

The Hairy Hands is pretty stupid, but is a red herring providing some light comic relief at the opening of the adventure. It is based on an actual legend - it's even got a Wikipedia entry and made the London papers at the time! See the entry here https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hairy_Hands

 

 

I actually just ran this again the other night and gave one player nightmares. Whoops!

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vincentVV

I've learned the SPOILER magik! =)

 

Player - NO READING ANY FURTHER! =)

 

 

 

Well... I understand that Cthulhu players SHOULD be curious and SHOULD investigate wherever possible - but from the point of view of a common person... If I come to an old church why should I break in through the locked door and get to the area I am not meant to be at all? So roleplaying usual real-life people seem to prevent players from actions like it.

And, by the way... You have a chain here: press Hannah - investigate Blakely - investigate church. I see 2 rather serious choking points here.

For players to press hard on Hannah - they have to have a reason for that. Which they practically have not.

To get to the church the players have to turn their logic this way and not aiming for Blakely's house, for example.

Of course, it can easily be avoided by GM (Hannah CAN mention Blakely in a conversation without waiting to be pressed, as well as she can mention a church), but these are logical connections which are not obvious from the scenario itself.

 

The legend about Yeth-Hounds looks very interesting - I didn't expect it to be real - thought it was fictional. It's great.

 

And the red herring with "hairy hands".. I don't know... It seems to me that the scenario is great in it's dark mood and such funny things can spoil it.

 

By the way in my game I wrote up a legend about a woodcutter and his wife, killed by indians, and by the Black Devil of the Woods who gave her strength to avenge, but made her a ghost, who appear on the road. And the killers were turned into black hounds (I didn't know the legend wasreal then) who follow their master through the woods.

I also made a scene, where player meet father Blakely and one of the policemen. It looks like Blakely returned from Princetown, saw the acsident, called the police - while in fact he and a policeman threw the car off the road. This lets the players see Blakely earlier and, following the clues, come to the revelation that the scene on the road was totaly not what they thought it was at first ;)

Oh, yes, and it is not clear if Blacjwood was simply killed or was she one of the three victims?

 

Anyway, thanks for your comments - they really were very useful! )

 

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FreddieF

I think there will always be a problem with rping investigators in Cthulhu games - although they are supposed to be everyday people, the horror theme asks the players to throw their characters in to the mystery. The point is taken though!

 

In response to the choking points:

 

 

As the Testamentum and Blackwood journal are core clues, they don't necessarily have to be found in the church. If the players visit Blakely's house, then have them find the books there instead. Blakely doesn't have to be there either - he may be away somewhere else preparing for the ritual.

 

 

That said, thanks for the comments, they help me picture everything from another GMs perspective. Your modifications sounds great - hope the game plays out well!

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The_Tatterdemalion_King

Well... I understand that Cthulhu players SHOULD be curious and SHOULD investigate wherever possible - but from the point of view of a common person... If I come to an old church why should I break in through the locked door and get to the area I am not meant to be at all? So roleplaying usual real-life people seem to prevent players from actions like it.

That's like saying "My D&D players aren't looking for treasure or monsters."

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Aklo

Very interesting scenario, so many wonderful ideas, this is the kind of scenario I'd create a whole campaign to run off of. I especially like the portrayal of the Order of the Green. I also liked how there seems quite a couple of different ways to end or proceed through the scenario. Well thought out and detailed without being railroady. I will try to run it soon.

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vincentVV
In response to the choking points:

 

That's exactly what I thought about. Main clues have to be available anyway - as well as flexible. ;)

 

And yes, the scenario is really great with alternative endings and interpretations. After this discussion I'd easily give it 10 out of 10 and name it one of the best Cthulhu scenarios I've ever read.

 

By the way, this scenario itself can become a wonderfull starting scenario for any Cthulhu rulebook, and the way it is written is really a must-see for every DM who ever tried to run his/her own adventures. Great work!

 

That's like saying "My D&D players aren't looking for treasure or monsters."

 

That's stereotypes. )) It seems to me that's the way old players think. "If it's DnD I have to kill monsters and roll a D6, if it's Cthulhu - I have to make Library Search everywhere, if it's Star Wars I have to use the Force" =) And that's the advantage of new players who still don't know " how they MUST play Cthulhu/DnD'StarWars" ;)

 

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The_Tatterdemalion_King

That's stereotypes. )) It seems to me that's the way old players think. "If it's DnD I have to kill monsters and roll a D6, if it's Cthulhu - I have to make Library Search everywhere, if it's Star Wars I have to use the Force" =) And that's the advantage of new players who still don't know " how they MUST play Cthulhu/DnD'StarWars" ;)

But if you're players aren't curious about mysteries, why are they playing a mystery game?

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Aklo

 

That's stereotypes. )) It seems to me that's the way old players think. "If it's DnD I have to kill monsters and roll a D6, if it's Cthulhu - I have to make Library Search everywhere, if it's Star Wars I have to use the Force" =) And that's the advantage of new players who still don't know " how they MUST play Cthulhu/DnD'StarWars" ;)

 

You will, in my experience sometimes find a gung-ho RP player who thinks almost exclusively in these terms and play up a certain style depending on what game he/she is, but by no means is this kind of player the norm.

 

I know several timid players, and players who just PLAY timid characters, bur even these are not above leaning on a suspect or breaking into a church. The point IS to solve the mystery, in general players aren't playing into stereotypes by interviewing people and wandering where they shouldn't. It just naturally happens.

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FreddieF

And yes, the scenario is really great with alternative endings and interpretations. After this discussion I'd easily give it 10 out of 10 and name it one of the best Cthulhu scenarios I've ever read.

 

By the way, this scenario itself can become a wonderfull starting scenario for any Cthulhu rulebook, and the way it is written is really a must-see for every DM who ever tried to run his/her own adventures. Great work!

 

Thank you, that is very high praise. I only hope it comes up to that standard when run!

 

Very interesting scenario, so many wonderful ideas, this is the kind of scenario I'd create a whole campaign to run off of. I especially like the portrayal of the Order of the Green. I also liked how there seems quite a couple of different ways to end or proceed through the scenario. Well thought out and detailed without being railroady. I will try to run it soon.

 

Thanks for the compliments and I hope it goes well if you get a chance to run it. Let me know how it goes.

 

When I was designing this scenario, I'd had the concept of it being something that could slot into a campaign - something along the lines of Bookhounds would work suitably well, although it can easily be modified for most settings. The Arkham Files would be another good ToC campaign that it might slot into with minimal work. That said, however, I would consider toning down the ending somewhat if the investigators are part of an ongoing campaign, as it can be slightly catastrophic for them if things go south. Though this is generally the way for investigators in Cthulhu themed games, so...

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vincentVV

But if you're players aren't curious about mysteries, why are they playing a mystery game?

 

Oh, it's you again, my Mr. Suspicion and Grumpiness =)

 

These are NEW players. They are clean and virgin and still think by the real-world ways, that's why it' not obvious for them to break into a church. =)

 

Thank you, that is very high praise. I only hope it comes up to that standard when run!

 

I'm new to this forum, but this phrase seems to mean that you are an author, right?

 

If so - then thank you very much once again for your comments and for a wonderful scenario.

 

Don't think I try ti overpraise you, but if CoC scenarios look like a guidelines to play them - this ToC scenario can easily be played "as written". And that only adds to its value.

When I was designing this scenario, I'd had the concept of it being something that could slot into a campaign - something along the lines of Bookhounds would work suitably well, although it can easily be modified for most settings. The Arkham Files would be another good ToC campaign that it might slot into with minimal work. That said, however, I would consider toning down the ending somewhat if the investigators are part of an ongoing campaign, as it can be slightly catastrophic for them if things go south. Though this is generally the way for investigators in Cthulhu themed games, so...

 

Another thanks to you. I really appreciate when an author explains what HE intended to show through his work - be it a book, a RPG module or anything else. )

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PoC

 

But if you're players aren't curious about mysteries, why are they playing a mystery game?

Oh, it's you again, my Mr. Suspicion and Grumpiness =)

 

Please do keep it friendly folks. Thank you! :-)

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vincentVV

Will there be any sequel to this adventure?

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FreddieF

Will there be any sequel to this adventure?

 

No plans for one at the moment, though I have though about prequels -  something for Cthulhu Dark Ages regarding witch cults in the area, or Cthulhu Invictus and link it to how things originally got started...

 

I'm currently working on a Gaslight and Delta Green scenario at the moment which are taking up most of my time.

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rosie187

I started running the one-sheet version as a fill in game when a scheduled GM couldn't make it on Thursday night at my local RPG club. We only got about 1/3 to 1/2 way through due to the roleplay/random side activities of my 6 players, so since they were enjoying it I agreed to flesh it out to finish off next time. I was delighted to see that a more fully featured version is available, so I have been busily crowbar-ing the changes that I made on the fly into place ready to complete it next time.

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rosie187

I finished running the game last night - it was great fun. Unfortunately I was down 2 players, so their character's chose to stay at Thistle Lodge due to the cold weather. They had just discovered that their landlady's husband was missing although not the importance of this, so they went back to Princetown to notify the police and continue looking into Professor Blackwood's death. They had great fun delving through the library, and I was able to add some more clues here including some extracts from the Ango-Saxon Chronicle and the Domesday book that I appended with suitable fictions for the adventure. They were very pleased with themselves when they realised the significance of the pattern of dates.

 

They made the correct conclusions at the Dartmoor Prison morgue and decided to return to Postbridge.

 

When they arrived back, they found that the vicar had called on Mrs Carter (I used the names from the original one sheet) and when they went to search Professor Blackwood's room they discovered the door ajar and the catatonic form of one of the absent player's character (a lock-picking dilettante) sprawled on the floor. After this, they returned to the church (having broken in the previous night but found nothing much due to the darkness) and this time met the vicar, who they were suspicious of, and then they examined the graves more closely. They managed to speak with Bill McArthur and then thought about staking out the vicarage (I had moved the vestry stuff to the vicarage here so that their failure to find anything much in the church the previous night wasn't a plot hole, but they didn't break in to find it). At this point they went on a semi-wild goose chase up to Crockern Tor, believing that this was the place to be, but apart from some acid burned vegetation there was nothing much, so they descended into the woods and staked out the grove. I let the film director character use his massive disguise pool to camouflage them as bushes and they lay in wait for the inevitable denouement.

 

For a suitably creepy ambience, I played two tracks of Gregorian chanting at the same time and significantly slowed down to represent incomprehensible chants. Then the ritual began. They held their place for almost long enough, but finally broke cover and disrupted it. The Marine Biologist walloped one of the members of the order with a tree-branch then ran off into the woods, the doctor hid in the bushes, the film director took a photograph that blinded the order with the flash and the archaeologist charged into the circle brandishing a prop pistol and trying to grab the dagger

 

In the end, the Doctor and the Marine Biologist were dissolved by the Wisht Hounds, the archaelogist was convinced to take Carter's place in the ceremony by the vicars force of will and the film director fled in his car, but his photographs when developed all showed carvings and images of the Green Man and the perfunctory police investigation found no evidence of his missing associates. He went back to Hollywood, moved into B-movie horror and died of a heroin addiction in the 40's. So all's well that ends well.

 

We all really enjoyed the game, and I heartily recommend the adventure.

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FreddieF

Sounds like a blast! Glad you had fun with it  ^_^

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vincentVV

Seems like I'm going to run this wonderful adventure once again.

 

So I have an idea that may be useful.

 

I offer to cut the time periods of 25 years to only 22. Why so? Because 22 years is a length of Wolf Cycle - a 22-year solar cycle from one highest (or lowest) point of sun activity to another.

 

I also am going to include a diary of another folclore-researcher who disappeared here ~ 22 years ago and who made connections between the sacrifices and solar cycles - that would give the players something to think about.

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FreddieF

Cool - let me know how it goes!

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vincentVV

One more idea! =)

 

The "Hairy Hands" legend is not fleshed out in  scenario well.

 

So, let it sound like that:

 

"Hairy Hands" is a ghost of old Jeremiah Blakely, who disappeared in the woods 25 years ago without a trace. He hated people, did not communicate much with anybody and really shunned any technology and progress around. One day on the <insert appropriate date of sacrifice> eve he went into the woods and disappeared without a trace. Some say that the devil took his soul.

 

Since that time he terrorises the woods around. He can often be seen in the night and at the crossroads as a big black dog with flaming red eyes the size of a saurcer. Seeing him means death.

 

And since all those coughing and roaring taxomotors appeared - he hunts them down, grabs the driver's wheel and sends the cars offroad at the place he was last seen...

 

So, such a story helps us in several ways:

- we connect it more closely to the plot and events;

- we stimulate the PCs to look into the history of Postbridge (and really find that Jeremiah Blakely was named dead exactly 50 years ago for reasons unknown and even more - he can be connected to farther Blakely!)

- we give more logical explanation than simply some strange "Hairy hands".

 

Well, I think this will make the whole story more solid.

 

P.S. to the author - I googled the map of Princetown. It looks strangely similar to the maps from the adventure, including the prison! ;) Well done!

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