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JoeKenobi

Scenarios that play up cosmicism

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JoeKenobi

Does anyone have recommendations for scenarios (particularly 1920s scenarios) that really bring cosmicism to the forefront?

 

I'll be wrapping up The Haunting with my players shortly, and while it's been fun, the horror doesn't feel particularly Lovecraftian. Curious for recommendations for scenarios that really play up the incomprehensible, cold, uncaringness of the universe associated with Lovecraft.

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Fatman

My go to response for a more Lovecraftian horror is Graham Walmsley’s “Final Revelation” through Pelgrane Press. It’s a series of sorta interconnected scenarios that all leads to a pretty grim and hopeless ending. Note that it’s a Trail of Cthulhu system and not CoC 7th ed so you may want to change the stats (or not). I’ll emphasise that this is a helpless situation for all involved - a total departure from a scenario like “The Haunting”. On the plus side, there’s 4 scenarios in the book so if you like the style, you’ll get to enjoy it for a few sessions. 

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rylehNC
9 hours ago, Fatman said:

Note that it’s a Trail of Cthulhu system and not CoC 7th ed so you may want to change the stats (or not). I’ll emphasise that this is a helpless situation for all involved - a total departure from a scenario like “The Haunting”.

 

You don't need stats, you're not winning any combats 😃

As an aside, you can acquire each scenario individually. I was disappointed with the collection: the link between them is tenuous, and we didn't get any information about the Lake District, which was teased at one point.

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Fatman

Hahaha. Yeah, there isn’t really any reason to change the stats or the system because there’s very little combat. But I’m not sure if they wanted to use the same characters as the “Haunting” scenario...although, if you liked your characters, you’d never use them for “The Final Revelation”.

 

It’s certainly not a scenario that I’d recommend for every group. Even veterans would have to fight the urge to not walk away into a quiet corner of the room and cry by the end of it. However, I believe it captures the Lovecraftian cosmic horror very well.

 

@JoeKenobi was after scenarios that play up the incomprehensible, uncaring universe. “The Final Revelation” does that in spades. In the end, you’re left with characters who aren’t any closer to the truth, fighting the horrors won’t ever bring true victory and winning is absolutely impossible. 

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JoeKenobi

Intriguing--I'll look into "The Final Revelation." I've only ever played classic Call of Cthulhu (going back to 5th edition), so I don't know what nuances come with Trail of Cthulhu, but it sounds like it wouldn't be too difficult to translate.

 

The plan is for my players to stick with the characters they used in The Haunting (minus the one who died in the scenario and will need to be replaced)--it wasn't our first scenario in this campaign and they've been using the same characters so far. I warned them not to get too attached, though!

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Fatman

Basic difference between Trail of Cthulhu and Call of Cthulhu is that with Trail, if your character has a skill (History, Biology, etc.) your character will ALWAYS get the clue - no roll required. It’s what you do with the clue that matters. 

 

Fair warning: There’s character death and then there’s absolute obliteration. “The Final Revelation“ provides a no-kidding, you’re-not-getting-out-of-this-alive outcome that will change the way you look at horror RPGs. But maybe in a good way.

 

As @rylehNC warns - you’re not winning combat (or anything really) and the scenarios are very loosely connected. So be aware of that. I’d have a conversation with the group so they’re not blindsided by the potential outcome before you play.

 

Before you shell out your hard earned, maybe give a listen to an actual play? I’ll post the link to an RPPR campaign of the game. This might give you a feel of what to expect:

 

The Dying Of St Margaret’s

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/rppr-actual-play/id339817701?mt=2&i=1000338549686

 

The Watcher In The Sky

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/rppr-actual-play/id339817701?mt=2&i=1000320206354

 

The Dance In Blood

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/rppr-actual-play/id339817701?mt=2&i=1000323737693

 

The Rending Box

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/rppr-actual-play/id339817701?mt=2&i=1000325944471

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dce

For a different type of "cosmic" revelation, you could also check out Marcus Rowland's "Bad Moon Rising" (found in the classic 1989 Chaosium title, The Great Old Ones [CHA2321]). Its conclusion gives the investigators (and players) a rare glimpse into their true insignificance in the bigger scheme of the Universe ... but be warned, it is a rare example of a scenario which includes a major world-changing event, so not so easy to work into an ongoing campaign. Great scenario, though.

 

Generally, the subject of true cosmicism (at least as HPL envisaged it) hasn't really been tackled much by scenario writers for any game -- Graham Walmsley's Purist ToC scenarios, noted above, are rare other exceptions. I wish there were more scenarios which played up this thematic element, since it is central to Lovecraft's view of horror but absent from most games.

 

 

Dean (from Adelaide).

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JoeKenobi
On 06/04/2019 at 23:41, Fatman said:

Before you shell out your hard earned, maybe give a listen to an actual play?

 

Ah, great idea. "The Dying of St. Margaret's" actually sounds somewhat familiar; not sure where I've come across it before, but will definitely look into it.

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yronimoswhateley

I think a lot depends on what your particular definition of "cosmic horror" might be.

 

It's possible that it's such a subjective thing that it's not even possible to write a one-size-fits-all scenario that would satisfy everyone's taste in cosmic fiction:  getting it right for one user may render it unusably narrow for everyone else....

 

Fortunately for my part, published scenarios rarely hit the target for my own vision of "cosmic"/"Weird"/"Lovecraftian", but I've never seen a well-written scenario (including "The Haunting") which couldn't be redesigned (with a little work) to fit my tastes by changing a few descriptions here and there.

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JoeKenobi

@yronimoswhateley, I see your point, though I think the definition of cosmicism is tighter than that of Lovecraftian horror more generally. I'm thinking of scenarios that imply (a) the universe is beyond the comprehension of humanity, and (b) the universe is uncaring and has no innate morality. Possibly a scenario that specifically sets the stage for higher intelligences that are inscrutable and operate beyond motives or morality understandable to mankind.

 

Basically, I'd love to find a scenario that has investigative elements and/or an ending that suggest something incomprehensible, and that's disturbing in that incomprehensibility (as opposed to feeling incomplete, or suggesting the investigators missed something).

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SunlessNick
On 05/04/2019 at 15:13, rylehNC said:

As an aside, you can acquire each scenario individually.

 

If you do do that, the best one is The Dying of St Margarets.

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