Jump to content
ZardokhasSpoken

Non-Mythos adventures?

Recommended Posts

ZardokhasSpoken

So I was reading in another post that there really are not too many non-mythos adventures, and one Keeper's player's was not quite happy about that.  They were frustrated at having to draw up new investigators after insanity and death.  The point brought up is that CoC is story driven, not character driven, and therefore the characters are expendable.  While this may be true, and one should definitely not get too attached to their characters, is there any universal interest in more mundane adventures? 

 

I mean, the 1920's and 30's are a great era for all kinds of adventure on a global scale.  There was incredible political intrigue on a global scale, amazing archeological discoveries and exploration, gangsters and bootleggers, psychics and séances, and a thousand other possibilities.  As a great example, Indiana Jones (the movies, not the horrid rpg), has all those elements in spades, especially the first film.

 

So, is there any appeal for such adventures?  Would a Gangbusters style scenario be a welcome diversion or just fall flat with a seasoned set of investigators?  Would a series of such just lead to greater disappointment as a well-loved character takes down a mobster in one session only to die via some sanity blasting Elder God in the next?  Would it devolve into a completely different game with an entirely different vibe?  Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mysterioso

There is a guy who has made two pulp entries --Pulp Egypt and Heroes of Rura-Tonga-- that are system neutral that look like they'd be great fun.  They're available on DrivethruRPG.

It seems like a model of which a lot more could be done with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RogerBW

@ZardokhasSpoken, I think there's a question of player expectations as well as style – a non-Mythos 1920s adventure in a CoC/ToC-style world might well involve a hopeless struggle against political corruption, or shutting down a gang only to see another one move into its place.

 

I think the great advantage of such a hybrid campaign is that it stops the Mythos from becoming the default solution: yeah, maybe that creepy old guy is a sorcerer, but maybe he's just a creepy old guy (with lots of blackmail material on highly-placed policemen), and the solution you need will vary between the two situations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rayven

Actually I tend to throw a mix in when dealing with seasoned investigators and players because occasionally I have them looking into old ghost stories, and legends. They are trying to find the minions of madness and destroy them all! It seems to be the set of our group to sort of save humanity at the cost of their sanity. So I throw in whole scenarios where their really is nothing going on that can not be explained rationally but every one is so set on Methos at the time they forget that sometimes it can be explained without the weird and unusual. Its great because it helps set the characters up, they get to feel like some portion of the world is still sane and normal, that maybe not everything is doomed. They start to think rationally again and then oops...the next go around its not normal! *Laughs* Its chaos and fear and a good change of pace to break things up with the more mundane. Most of my home written stuff isn't that good yet however so I leave it to each individual to craft out what works for themselves, as their are much more experienced Keepers out there then me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yronimoswhateley

It occurs to me that the Halloween Monograph submission "Way down.  In Ioway" by X.D. Eness could be included on the list of un-Mythos scenarios.

 

Spoiler

The scenario hinges on the idea that the NPCs believe that the Mythos is only an elaborate hoax or scam performed by an ancient secret society, which they use to help control the world, and the investigators are revealed to pawns in a counter-conspiracy to topple the secret society through a fake scenario to retrieve and guard fake Mythos artifacts; the idea that the Mythos is a hoax can be treated as either true or false - or maybe something somewhere in between - by the keeper; if the keeper chooses to treat the Mythos as partly or entirely a hoax, then anything "supernatural" or "mythos" that happens in a larger (and unwritten) campaign can be toned down, and treated as maybe elaborate trickery, with the campaign's real villains essentially being very human and very mundane criminals, spies, secret society members, and so on.

 

The scenario as written isn't perfect, and it could have used more play-testing and editing, but I found it one of the more intriguing amateur scenario suggestions in the Halloween monograph series.

 

I, for one, would be interested in seeing what a "noir" Call of Cthulhu might look like - a collection of scenarios or a campaign, perhaps.  Not necessarily something that never references the Mythos, but rather one in which the reality of the Mythos is more ambiguous and hallucinatory, and fills more of the role of those faceless, nameless, cruelly ironic forces of Chance, Fate and Doom that seem to lurk unseen over the main characters in Film Noir stories, pulling strings to put irresistible temptations into the paths or ordinary people, and then guide those victims to an inevitable, ironic fate brought about by their own weaknesses and what seems to be a terrible run of bad luck and bad decisions from everyone involved.

 

The potential problems with such a thing that I can foresee:

  • It's a different kind of writing from "vanilla" Mythos stories, and maybe something tricky to translate into an RPG scenario.  It may require much more work to write this sort of scenario and get the same level of quality and entertainment.
  • I see no reason that roughly the same sort of atmosphere of dread and horror couldn't hang over this sort of thing as over a more overtly supernatural scenario, and there's no reason I can think of that the trappings of a Weird story - tomes, cults, mysteries and secrets, scenic places where strange things have happened - can't appear in this sort of story, but I still can't imagine this sort of thing will ever feel the same as regular Call of Cthulhu, and there may be keepers and players who can't see much of a point in playing a noir horror game with no monsters, magic, or weird science it it.
  • There might not be any but the most niche sort of market for this sort of thing.
  • It's definitely not going to be to anyone's taste, which is OK with me, but it might even be a divisive sort of thing that might fracture a fan base unnecessarily over which sort of game is "better" or "purer" or "smarter" or whatever (role-players seem to like arguing over that sort of thing!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DrMonster

I guess I just don’t see the difficulty.  First, players should be attached to their characters.  If they don’t care, there is no horror.  I’m reminded of the AD&D players I knew who didn’t even bother naming their characters until they reached X level.  They were shocked and intrigued when I came up with a name and background for my replacement PC on the fly (my first character lasted 3 seconds — not a good intro for a game and play style).

 

Second, you guys talk as if Call of Cthulhu has existed in isolation since 1974.  We’ve had Gangbusters!, Justice, Inc., Daredevils, Mercenaries Spies & Private Eyes, Pulp Hero, Spirit of the Century, Two Fisted Tales, the Agent 13 supplement for Top Secret/SPI, Adventure! and probably a dozen other RPGs devoted to period pulp adventure that I’ve missed.  All of them had published scenarios (the Daredevils ones are particularly good), and some adventures included stats for CoC.  Of course BRP in its Lovecraftian iteration can handle noir/action-adventure scenarios just fine — and it already has been for decades.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ZardokhasSpoken

Thanks for the info Dr Monster. Some of those rpgs I have heard of but some others are new to me. I will check them out. Do any of them have adventures set in the 20’s and 30’s? Can you name a few worth looking into? Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yronimoswhateley

True, DrMonster, but I don't want to hog-up all the fun of being that guy that says "I don't see the difficulty", only to have folks get in line to tell me "you can't do that!  Not at my table!" 

 

I don't think anyone who has posted yet really thinks it's an unsolvable problem, that groups haven't been handling non-Mythos role-playing just fine for generations, or even that there aren't a wealth of materials out there for folks who enjoy improvising and modifying things.

 

Certainly, that's not my angle, and I don't mean it to come off sounding like I've declared it officially No Fun and Impossible.  And, furthermore, I don't mean to sound like I'm declaring this officially The New Regime and The Way Everyone Must Do It Now, either (sometimes, that comes up in topics like this, and I think it comes from something in my writing style - I struggle with English.)

 

Rather, my angle comes more from one too many internet experiences with anything that might look like a threat to get RPG chocolate in anyone's RPG peanut-butter:  I've found the hard way that it tends to look like an offense against well-meaning people both involved and uninvolved, whether fans of plain chocolate, fans of plain peanut butter, fans of chocolate-covered-peanut-butter candy bars, or people who don't like like candy and want nothing to do with it, every one of them explaining that "you can't do that!"

 

Thus, my weird disclaimers that read something like "Sounds great to me.  That's not an order, and yes, I'm sure you can find some complications, and I'm just as sure you can solve them if you like.  Those are not orders, either."  :)

 

Put another way:  I see no problem, except variations on the usual role-player version of human nature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DrMonster

My comments weren’t intended as a put down but as an encouragement.  Noir is a state of mind, not a rules set.  The most noir game ever published masquerades as science fiction.  Classic Traveller has nothing to do with Earth’s 20th century yet PCs are engaged by shadowy patrons to do things their mothers wouldn’t approve of on a regular basis.  Once in a while they get to save the universe.

 

For scenarios, check out Fantasy Games Unlimited’s web site and look at their Daredevils adventures.  Each supplement tackles a different pulp subgenre and contains 3-4 scenarios.  Also good are “Trail of the Gold Spike” and  “Lands of Mystery” for Justice, Inc. — and they contain Cthulhu stats.

 

So grab your fedora, .45 automatic and bullwhip and go punch some gangsters, or Nazis, or secret society members.  Cultists are allowed as long as they’re Thugs or Assassins but no zombies, unless they come from the stratosphere.  😉

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rsanford
20 hours ago, Mysterioso said:

There is a guy who has made two pulp entries --Pulp Egypt and Heroes of Rura-Tonga-- that are system neutral that look like they'd be great fun.  They're available on DrivethruRPG.

It seems like a model of which a lot more could be done with.

 

These are both exceptional by the way!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ZardokhasSpoken

Checked out pulp egypt, looks good just wish there was a print option. The Daredevil adventures also look good!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dante7

Stygian Fox's upcoming "Occam's Razor" revolves around non-mythos scenarios. Pagan Publishing's "Bumps In The Night" consists of non-mythos supernatural scenarios.  And let's not forger the classic era scenario "The Westchester House". 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yronimoswhateley

Wow, I'm surprised by the number of new and upcoming non-mythos scenarios. 

 

I wonder what's behind the demand for this sort of scenario? Maybe mythos-free CoC is not as much of  a niche market as I thought?  Or, with a couple recent discussions on the idea, it's just something whose time has come?  Maybe something of a side-effect of the recent success of 7th Edition CoC - perhaps we've got a certain number new or returning groups who are interested in the period setting but burned out on Lovecraftian horror?

 

For my part, I can get behind it as just part of the wide umbrella of the sort of story that can be told with the basic weird horror building blocks - it's all the same sort of story-telling to me! 

 

But, I can't imagine that's everyone, and I'm always curious about where other gamers are coming from.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dante7

The old-old-old "Trail of the Golden Spike" was a pulp scenario that was compatible with CoC too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JanothanSmall
On 07/11/2018 at 13:36, ZardokhasSpoken said:

The point brought up is that CoC is story driven, not character driven, and therefore the characters are expendable.  While this may be true, and one should definitely not get too attached to their characters

 

I think there are two things wrong with the above statement. Firstly, it sounds like a gross generalisation to me, plus, character play and storytelling are not mutually exclusive.

It depends on who's playing. Some players draw their fun out of roleplaying and developing their character, others are more interested in action and rolling dice.

 

And I am certainly not married to the Mythos. I sometimes run Mythos scenarios but then I'll also run non-Mythos horror sessions or genres that are not so much horror and rather "supernatural".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DeadlyTreadly

I ran a scenario in 1937 Shanghai where I never got to the mythos part, the players were having so much fun running around in Shanghai with all the factions.

Places like Shanghai, the last of the 'open ports' (an entry place to a country where you do not require a passport), are great for involving your players in intrigue. However the players then run up against humans - with their weapons perfectly designed for killing humans . . .  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wembley

There has to be an admixture. If players come to expect Mythos every time, they cannot help but act as if that's the only possible solution and act accordingly.

But sometimes the woman haunted by winged monsters as night is just a neurotic attention-seeking with owls nearby, the man with incredible powers is a cheap con-artist playing on the credulous, the apparent miraculous discovery is just some odd  coincidence and misinterpration  ("this ancient engraved stone of yours turns out to be an old stage prop of my uncle's...").

Throw in a few of these - and serious consequences for getting it wrong - and players are less likely to see Cthulhu lurking behind every curtain.  Until it's too late...!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wcburns

I think it depends on how regularly you're running your games.

If you're doing something weekly / regularly, then you should definitely do other things, particularly if they're the same characters. If they're investigators, either paranormal or otherwise, have them go through conventional cases of crime, adultery, or "haunted" houses that turn out to be superstition. If they're law enforcement, have them deal with the seemingly endless violations of prohibition and growing organized crime.  If they're a gangster or bootlegger, have them have to do a booze-run, or perform a heist, or something that runs afoul of the law. If they're a professor or student, focus on some of their studies, be they related to the Mythos or otherwise.

If the players don't fit any of those specific concepts, work out some sort of long-term goal your player would like to do. A trip somewhere, learning new skills, more money, etc. Whether these inevitably lead into a Mythos story is up to you. Use these as an excuse to role-play and expand their world.

 

Personally, I run a game once every few months. So I can take time to build up the story, and slow-burning the characters so that when they do go mad or die, it will mean something more than if it was a one-shot that they rolled up that day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SunlessNick
On 09/11/2018 at 06:02, yronimoswhateley said:

Wow, I'm surprised by the number of new and upcoming non-mythos scenarios. 

 

I wonder what's behind the demand for this sort of scenario? Maybe mythos-free CoC is not as much of  a niche market as I thought?

 

In Stygian Fox's case, as I understand it, the idea is specifically to rehabilitate skepticism as a rational hyputhesis in scenarios.  More generally, Call of Cthulhu is tried andtested, and I could see groups on a tight budget wanting to do more things with it rather than get more games - especially with the breadth of Investigator career options opened up in the Players' rulebook.

 

In my case, I like having a few scenarios with mundane explanations, but I prefer the Mythos to be the only mythos - I might incorporate ghosts or psychic powers into it, but I don't like incorporating human folklore and religion (this even applies to the UFO and conspiracy folklore of Delta Green).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ZardokhasSpoken

I have purchased a few Daredevils adventures, they should give me some ideas for creating my own non-mythos adventures.  While I am sure such non-mythos adventures can be fun, I agree that unless one's group meets quite often, they are superfluous. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DrMonster
6 hours ago, ZardokhasSpoken said:

I have purchased a few Daredevils adventures, they should give me some ideas for creating my own non-mythos adventures.  While I am sure such non-mythos adventures can be fun, I agree that unless one's group meets quite often, they are superfluous. 

 

Let us know what you think of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.