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Lupine1927

Question on Running Blackwater Creek Scenario: Extent of Mother's Gift?

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Lupine1927

Hello everyone! I'm new to Keeping CoC, and I wanted to start out with running Blackwater Creek, the scenario that came with the Keeper's screen. However, there was part of the scenario I found confusing, and I was hoping to find out how you guys handled it when you ran it.

 

Specifically, I'm confused about progression of the Mother's Gift. From what I understand, two months pass in-game before the PCs even get to Blackwater Creek, and all that time the Mother's Gift has been seeping into the soil, contaminating crops and water, infecting livestock, and so on---and the locals have been consuming a fair amount of that stuff for all that time. Considering PCs are supposed to make CON checks every time they come into contact with the water, drink the whiskey, or eat any local food---and every two hours from then on, if I read that right---then how in the world is Blackwater Creek not chock full of people just as far gone with the Mother's Gift as Ben Carmody?

 

I know that most of the townsfolk are supposed to be at Stage 3, but given how vigorous the CON checks are for PCs, I just don't see how they could be that unaffected. Within a two month period, I would think that anyone with poor CON in town---the elderly, children, etc---would have become one with the Mother pretty quickly, if they just didn't die outright. Am I misunderstanding the Mother's Gift? Or is this a small flaw in the scenario itself?

 

If that is right, however, I'm trying to figure out how that would effect the town as a whole. Maybe there would be more deserted homes (to represent missing townsfolk), or there are hordes of "Gifted" townsfolk hiding out in Blackwater Forest, communing with the Dark Young and eager to set upon whoever wanders inside? Or maybe they just get sacrificed to Abigail when they get too far gone and "become one with the Mother"? Do you guys think any of these work?

 

Otherwise, my other option would be to slow the progression down. If so, how would I do that? Less CON checks? Or more time between stages? How did the Mother's Gift work in your game? Did any of your PCs get infected? If so, how did that play out?

 

Thanks all for your time, and any help, advice or thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated :).

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ScottDorward

The simple answer is that it's a fudge, designed to create a sense of urgency for the investigators. If you want an in-game explanation, however, the presence of mutagens in the water supply has built up slowly over time. The locals may have had a chance to build up a bit more of a resistance to it than a bunch of strangers who have come to town while it is at full strength.

 

If realism is a concern for you, by all means, tone things down. It will make the scenario a bit less nasty, however.

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windandfire

I'm not familiar with the scenario, but I bet you could come up with some reason to say it started slow and proceeded to increase over time - the townsfolk may only had to have made con checks once every week or day at the beginning.

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dulcamara

Hi Lupine, I'm going to be running it in the next week or so - posted my own thread looking for advice: http://www.yog-sothoth.com/topic/31605-running-blackwater-creek-advice-adjustments/

 

As said there I'm considering less frequent checks or something. Having a hard time envisioning any outcome where everyone's not at stage 4+ of the Gift, and while not adverse to dooming investigators I don't want it to become the campaign's focus for any survivors. Still would play up the urgency and give the possibility for major progression, but limit how fast incidental/indirect contact can change someone. As a tradeoff I'd increase the danger in other areas.

 

It's a tough call. Going from the thanks at the end of the scenario, it looks like this was just play-tested one time thru so I'd guess it's not necessarily balanced for a wide variety of player approaches.

 

Have you run it yet? Any other adjustments you're thinking about?

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ScottDorward

Going from the thanks at the end of the scenario, it looks like this was just play-tested one time thru so I'd guess it's not necessarily balanced for a wide variety of player approaches.

 

It was playtested over a dozen times by multiple Keepers. I just thanked those particular people because they offered some very helpful feedback.

 

In those playtests, no investigator ever went past stage 4, and most capped out at stages 1 and 2.

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dulcamara

I stand corrected on both counts! Thanks for chiming in, I'm looking forward to running the scenario.

 

Are there any pieces of advice you'd give that didn't make it into the published text?

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Lupine1927

ScottDorward, thanks so much for the clarification! And I'd like to second Dulcamara with the whole advice question re: do you have any advice for the scenario that didn't get published?

 

Dulcamara, to answer your question, no I haven't run it yet, though I plan to run the bootlegger option in about a week or so. My ultimate goal is to run the two different groups (bootleggers and professors) separately, then try to bring them together at the end to deal with the cave as a group. We'll see how it goes.

 

I still haven't decided how I want to handle the Mother's Gift in-game regarding the players, but I definitely plan to make the CON checks in secret if I use them. I will likely tone it down overall, though, as I'd like to make it more subtle if the players get infected, and I wouldn't want to debilitate them too much. We'll see though.

 

Either way, it looks like a fun scenario, and I"m looking forward to running it. Thank you both so much for your replies. I really appreciate it! :)

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ScottDorward

I'm struggling to think of any other advice that I didn't put in the scenario. Most of the tips I have are pretty straightforward things, like using the Miskatonic University option if you have time for a longer game, as the investigators have more incentive to explore the entire area.

 

One thing I do differently when I run it now is not to ask for a roll to find the abandoned letter in the spare room at the Jarvey farm. It lessens the potential tension if the investigators don't read it, so I just have whoever is staying in the room stumble across it.

 

I also try to avoid using Sprouston and his followers as a direct combat encounter. They're not interested in slaughtering the investigators, only using them to change the balance of power in the town and then, potentially, as offerings to the Mother. They may try to take the investigators prisoner, but they're not necessarily too violent.

 

There have been some great ideas I've seen from other people who've run the scenario, such as stepping back some of the effects of the Mother's gift if the investigators manage to destroy the Earth's Womb, or having people who have been changed by the bootleg whiskey turn up in town towards the end of the game to add to the confusion.

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dulcamara

Thanks Scott, good tips. I was planning to save an ambush by Sprouston just in the event that it made sense to do a desperate chase from town, possibly after/if the investigators survive or deal with the cave.

 

If you happen to stop by again I've got another question:

 

What was the rationale for the handout order? As-written you advise Handout 6 (Summary of the Confessions) as findable early in the scenario - either via library research (IMO most likely for my group) or from Baxter the shopkeeper. This is pretty detailed exposition that winds up being specific & more or less factual as the past events unfolded.

 

The two other "history" handouts (3 & 4) are found at Roade's tent. These are a bit more speculative & vague while covering some of the same events, yet would be discovered later in the scenario by most investigators. My initial impression is that for story flow the order of these should be switched - give the basic casual/academic summary of the folklore & history early on, then when the group has gotten deeper into the narrative hit them with the more immediate & detailed firsthand account.

 

Maybe I'm missing something though. Since this scenario presents two separate histories to piece together - colonial era & the previous 3 months - maybe it does make sense to provide one of those right off.

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ScottDorward

It must be at least five years since I wrote Blackwater Creek and I simply can't remember why I ordered the handouts that way. I agree that it makes more sense to have the investigators find the published books before the history of Cade's Rest. In fact, I recently ran the scenario for the first time in ages, and that's precisely what I did. 

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