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mikey83

The new Cthulhu Dark Ages scenario "A Conspiracy in Damascus"

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mikey83

This scenario features in issue 1 of the new Bayt al Azif magazine that came out in October. Has anyone played it yet? What's it like?

 

Cthulhu DA scenarios normally take place in northern Europe, so at the very least having it take place in the Levant is a refreshing change of scenery.

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yronimoswhateley

I'm afraid I haven't and I've never played DA, but I do have the first edition of "Cthulhu: Dark Ages" and it's a marvelous setting.

 

I'd be very interested in any impressions, reviews, details, or advice anyone has about this or any other new Dark Ages scenarios!

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TacoBill

Hey,

 

I ran this with my group and it didn't end well for Damascus (too much recent Pathfinder perhaps).  We fit it into about a 4 hour session and they seemed to enjoy it.  

 

The adventure itself hangs together pretty well in that there are different ways to approach the investigation.  I found the timings quite tight and the Investigators really need to get a move on from the get-go.  It leaves them very little time to follow up on some of the clues that may help them later.  Were I to run it again, there'd be a few changes I'd make.

 

My group threw a bit of a spanner in the works having caught the guy in the bazaar sleeping with some great stealth rolls and tried to get in and out once they noticed the papers on the desk and clues in the room.  Then, for some bizarre reason, among a confused whispered discussion, decided to kosh him into unconsciousness despite him trying to surrender in order to stage a drunken fall and more bizarrely, on their way out decided they should go back and finish him off.  Cue some failed stealth and then a failed push and all those towering jars of oil came crashing down among lots of candles.  Entertaining (and quite cinematic) to run as the bazaar erupted into chaos as all the merchants rushed for the few buckets lying about.  But a dead merchant.  So a large chunk of exposition is lost there as is the appearance of the DotW.  Which was fine for me since I couldn't get my head around this bit anyway.  The DotW wants the aid of the party but seems to be in no position to offer any aid or clues, bound as he is.  I couldn't really see how I could use him purposefully.  Not that my players would have trusted him anyway.  They later worked out, from his actions, that he might not be actively working against them.

 

From there it became a case of following the clues to locations in the city (which were nicely varied) but by then most of the other cultists had learned of the fire and retreated to the final location so the party tended to arrive too late to catch any of them which meant they were a little overwhelmed in the final scene.  I'd try to fix this if I ran the adventure again so that not all of them headed underground.

 

Likely, if I were to run it again, I'd slow the pace down a bit to give the players more time to make use of the Seer and collect information they'll need.  

 

The Pre-gens were very good with a nice balance of skills though slightly annoyingly the skills in the adventure are 7th edition.  So, where Locksmith or Credit Rating is needed in the adventure, there's no 'Locksmith' or 'Credit Rating' skill in Dark Ages or on the character sheet.  An easy fix, to be sure, but a niggle that didn't need to be there.

 

So, for a four hour session it ran pretty well and there was a nice mix of investigation, RP and combat with a high-stakes grand finale.  The adventure provides some support for the GM in terms of timelines and background information and navigation of the adventure itself.  The adventure itself is largely laid out logically and it seems like it could be easily shifted to different time periods and with a minimum of work even a different city (I could see it working in Gaslight London for instance).

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mikey83
18 hours ago, yronimoswhateley said:

I'm afraid I haven't and I've never played DA, but I do have the first edition of "Cthulhu: Dark Ages" and it's a marvelous setting.

 

I'd be very interested in any impressions, reviews, details, or advice anyone has about this or any other new Dark Ages scenarios!

 

I also have the first edition of "Cthulhu: Dark Ages" and I agree, it is marvelous, though seemingly a little underappreciated, seeing how there haven't been very many Dark Ages scenarios; looking at the list of published CoC scenarios, "A Conspiracy in Damascus" seems to be the first Dark Ages scenario in almost ten years, if the "Dark Crusader" scenario of Horror on the Orient Express and the three scenarios in the Revised Edition of Cthulhu: Dark Ages aren't included.

 

14 hours ago, TacoBill said:

Hey,

 

I ran this with my group and it didn't end well for Damascus (too much recent Pathfinder perhaps).  We fit it into about a 4 hour session and they seemed to enjoy it.

 

Hey, thanks very much for the after action review, much appreciated.

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JS113

Hey @TacoBill, great to hear how this went! I'm glad your players had fun.

 

Most times I've run this the investigators have gotten the drop on Majd-al-Din in the bazaar through various chicanery (I believe several groups snuck in, one group had the alchemist poison their food, and I think the inevitable discussion of setting fire to the entire bazaar was only averted because the building was stone and didn't have many exits). But I have Majd-al-Din surrender immediately (he is a coward!), and he will spill his guts at any threat, such as strangers breaking into his room to steal clues, which I run as a babbling spilling of confession which usually is so fast they players just listen.

 

While the DotW can't give many clues to the investigators, he is largely a seal on them running for extra help. Once they understand how they are trapped by his geas, they will hopefully realize they have to solve this on their own. But you can also use him to drop hints if people are really lost, like seeing him in a crowd, or him standing outside an important location before he vanishes again. His translation in the Lair also can give a lot of clues if they are stuck.

 

I've also had the time for the ritual be "in the next few days" if I thought they needed more time.

 

The skills were tricky since not everyone has the DA book so I just stuck to 7th edition.

 

Did they win? Did anyone get out in one piece?

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