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Culpra

An island as a setting for a one-shot scenario

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Culpra

Hello fellow cultists.

 

I have an idea for a scenario, where the PC's are a part of an expedition to an island newly risen from the sea in search of a lost expedition and to explore the island.

 

However, I'd like to see If i can make it a one shot scenario lasting between 4-6 hours of playtime.

 

My main concern is, that it will be difficult to facilitate the right mood in that timespan, as we obvioiusly do not have time for a pre-expedition investigation into the island, and will have to pretty much thrust my players directly on the island. But how do i do so, without it being feeling "wierd"?

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NeferSutekh

They have to get there by ship?  Then you have plenty of time onboard for a pre-expedition investigation.  Who hired the expedition and why?  How did they learn about the island and what are their real motives for going there?  Perhaps the investigators can ask some of the "foreign-looking" crew members, who might know more about the island than they are being told and have their own agenda.  A lost expedition you say?  Who were they and when were they "lost"?  Perhaps the island has a history of "rising" periodically?  All this to discover before they ever even get to the island to explore.

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ragr

You could use flashbacks where the investigators have questions about aspects of the island. Allowing them to use academic and research skills on the island (and in the scenario) by giving them a minute or so to narrate how they looked the information up before embarking on the field trip; you can then deliver an answer based on the outcome of the roll.

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revnye

If they were part of the Coast Guard or Navy sent to rescue the expedition, they would get a briefing and little else.

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DadsAngry

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship.

 

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day,
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

 

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle,
With (enter players character's names here)

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yronimoswhateley
On 08/04/2019 at 16:55, ragr said:

You could use flashbacks where the investigators have questions about aspects of the island. Allowing them to use academic and research skills on the island (and in the scenario) by giving them a minute or so to narrate how they looked the information up before embarking on the field trip; you can then deliver an answer based on the outcome of the roll.

 

That's a great place to start (and the other suggestions aren't bad either!)

 

I was going to suggest something similar:  it's how the television show "Lost" did its thing in its popular first season:  start things out in media res - with a group of strangers waking up just after surviving a plane crash and taking immediate action to save other survivors and then pull themselves together and explore the weird island they've found themselves on while getting to know each other and revealing their dark secrets to the audience through the ongoing plot, and through flashbacks.

 

These are probably odd storytelling devices for anyone new to them - traditionally, Call of Cthulhu and other RPGs run on more linear storytelling - but for a one-shot adventure, in media res is a great way to start so that you get right to something exciting and dramatic, and flashbacks are a useful way to rewind a bit and lay down some background where appropriate (for example, say your characters do wake up from a "Lost"-style plane crash on a weird island - start out just after the plane crash, with the characters doing exciting things, and cut away from time to time to flash back to how the characters met at the airport, on the plane, or during recruitment for the expedition, before returning to the island for the next scene....)

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Gaffer

I do mostly con events these days, which means that every scenario has to resolve in a bit less than four hours. You're right that you won't have time for playing out a lot of research before you get to the island, or even to do a bunch of expository explaining. Here's how I might do it.

 

I'd set it right after WWII, late 1945, and the players would be the crew of a USN flying boat, a long-range scouting version with no armaments (to increase range) and a crew of #players plus however many NPCs you want. They're on the first leg of their flight back to the States from their base in Australia, going home.

 

They get a radio call from their base about a scientific party that was investigating a newly discovered island. Everything about their expedition was top secret, nobody else even knows about this island. Naval resources are still stretched pretty thin, so they were transported there by a single PT-boat. An emergency message came through, very garbled. They seem to be in trouble. It's within the flying boat's range, so they're being sent there post haste to investigate and render assistance. Here are the coordinates.

 

A couple hours later, they spot the island. There's no sign of the PT-boat. The game begins.

 

All your exposition takes about fifteen minutes.

 

Remember, these investigators are a mix of career Navy and draftees. The draftees can be college undergrads and graduate students with any mix of skills the story needs.

 

BTW I mostly try to isolate my investigators in some way. It really streamlines the story.

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DeepOne74

Why not pulp it up a bit?

 

I also like the idea of PC flashbacks.  Maybe something is causing them to each have haunting visions that slowly reveal the history of the island.

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