Category: RPG

Call of Cthulhu Campaign

Yesterday, after a very long hiatus, we started a new Call of Cthulhu campaign. I had planned to take this campaign very seriously and I had been working on it almost non-stop for the last two weeks. It’s a tough game to lead and a tough game to plan so I thought two weeks would be enough to prepare for it properly.

I was wrong.

Because CoC is such an unusual game compared to other games, it always takes a moment adjusting to the setting and the style. Most of us are pretty experienced players and we only had one person in our group this time that had never played the game, but you could feel that everyone had to get back into the swing of things.

Having taken the time to write up some preludes for each of the characters, some of them more than one, or even several, I had already set the stage and put some things on the mind of some of the characters. We have a group of four, with one very experienced character, being the veteran of four scenarios, one being the veteran of two scenarios and two new characters, I had quite a bit of previous material to work with. The veteran history professor had his cache of mythos items stolen in a robbery at the bank he had used to put the items in a safety deposit box. The experienced author had just adopted a child and was dealing with a big change in his family life while simultaneously seeing his career skyrocket.

The new characters, a taciturn police detective and a concierge at a prestigious hotel got a few write ups helping them ease into the coming scenario.

The problem always remains to be the atmosphere. I had decided to try doing something with music. I had bought an iPhone dock recently, one that’s easy to transport, and I had chosen some mood music. I settled on Lustmord, which might not necessarily be the most obvious choice, but when my cousin Mark used to run his scenarios, he always choice kind if atmospheric space music, like The Darklight Conflict soundtrack to accompany his games, which worked surprisingly well. Lustmord is atmospheric and creepy, filling me with a sense of dread and foreboding. Signs and portents. I had some trouble finding the right volume, but I felt it did help the mood at a time or two. I will continue my experiments.

I had also brought my netbook to host some of my notes and books on but I’m not entirely sure that worked out. Sure, I didn’t need a stack of books, but it didn’t quite feel right at a CoC table, a game set in 1924. I will try it out next week and see how I feel about it.

The game started slowly, as I knew it would, but I didn’t waste too much time with fluff and flavour. I wanted to start it off right away and allow for fluff and flavour after I got the ball rolling.

Monday, September 1st, 1924, Labour Day.

Sir Kevin O’Reilly, English-born history professor at Arkham’s own Miskatonic University is enjoying an Indian summer morning preparing classes for the soon starting semester, when he hears a gentle knocking on the wooden door frame of his modest apartment in the staff housing building on campus. He looked up from his paperwork to find the tall, imposing figure of Mr. Blair Monroe standing in his doorway, with Mr. Walter Simons behind him. It wasn’t hard to see that Mr. Simons was there reluctantly.

It had been more than a year since Sir Kevin and Mr. Simons had visited Mr. Monroe in New York City, getting permission to peruse his extensive library for the journal of Pavel Dvorak. It had also been more than six months since Mr. Simons and Sir Kevin had come back from Oswego county, after which they had not stayed in touch. Seeing them together standing in the doorway was quite surprising.

It turned out Mr. Simons had been doing some work for Mr. Monroe and that they had stayed in touch. Mr. Monroe informed Sir Kevin of an upcoming auction to be held in Arkham at the end of the week, organised by the renowned Austrian auction house of Ausperg. The closed-door auction would hold many curious items Mr. Monroe assumed would be of interest to Sir Kevin as they pertained to his particular field of expertise, the occult. Having no interest in the subject himself, Mr. Monroe would only be attending because of certain rare books and manuscripts that would be going under the hammer, the acquisition of which would sate his inner bibliophile. He had hoped to get Sir Kevin, Mr. Simons, Mr. Mason and the lovely Ms. Nannetti to come in order to bid against the other attendees in order to deplete their cash reserves, allowing Mr. Monroe less opposition while bidding his items.

Mr. Monroe turned over a small booklet describing the lots that were to be auctioned. Most of them were quite expensive and Sir Kevin wasn’t sure whether he’d be able to put up much of a fight in the auction room so Mr. Monroe offered a budget of £2,000 in order for the investigators to bid against other attendees. The goal was not to buy the items, but if one of the investigators would win a bid, the items could always be sold off at auction. A small loss was acceptable, as long as the investigators would play the bidding game intelligently, Mr. Monroe didn’t worry.

After a handshake and Mr. Monroe’s departure, Sir Kevin and Mr. Simons spent some time talking. Mr. Simons appeared to be in an even more fragile state of mind than when they had returned from Oswego county and Sir Kevin worried about him. Mr. Mason was contacted and brought in on the plan and seemed to be a willing participant in the matter.

In the meantime, Mr. O’Donnell, concierge at the Miskatonic Hotel was arranging for all the necessary preparations for the arrival of Baron von Ausperg and his entourage as well as the arrangements for the auction that would take place on Thursday evening. The owner of the hotel, Mr. Tillinghouse, had used his considerable influence in local politics to arrange for the police to grant a detective and two officers to help secure the hotel. Detective Quinn was a taciturn man, but Mr. O’Donnell eventually broke the ice and the two came to an understanding, even about the champagne the baron demanded to serve at the dinner prior to the auction.

The actual pick up of the baron turned out to be quite the affair. The baron, his wife, his guard, his assistant and four servants arrived in Arkham carrying more luggage than anticipated and the baron seemed keen on sightseeing before heading to the hotel. The items to be auctioned had not arrived yet, but the energetic baron was already a handful.

In the meantime, Detective Quinn worked the grave robbery case he had been assigned and poked his nose into the robbery of the vaults of First National Bank of earlier that month. Sir Kevin and Mr. Mason both spent some time on the shooting range, considering recent developments, as well as in the library reading up on the House von Ausperg and some of the items on sale.

Of course, Sir Kevin thought seeing the Arabian man was rather fitting, though it filled him with a sense of dread and foreboding.

Leman

Tonight, we finished another D&D campaign under the leadership of DTH, who really ramped up the challenge this time. I don’t get to play very often, and of the few times I’ve been able to be a player over the last decade, I’ve rarely gotten as emotionally invested in a character as I’ve been with Leman, my warrior-priest. I built my character slowly and logically and I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.

The one thing that I’ve noticed with the third edition rules that we use, is that you level up more often than you do under the second edition rules that I’ve spent most of my D&D career using. Once every three or so session we seemed to level, which I thought was a bit much. It wasn’t because of XP rewards that were too high, but rather that the amounts you needed to gather before climbing another level was much more evenly spaced. In second edition the XP targets per level were almost exponential, so it took longer and longer each level.

Manitou

Synopsis

When Mr. Armitage unexpectedly shows up wounded at Dr. Nannetti’s house carrying a newspaper clipping of an accidental shooting at a ranch in Oswego County, NY, he manages to convince the investigators that a pack of werewolves are causing trouble in the little rancher community of Redfield. Frequent disappearances and even more frequent cattle mutilations have caused a lot of tension between ranchers but also between the ranchers and the nearby Mohawk and Iroquois reservation.

The investigators decide to stage a small expedition to Redfield and investigate. After two days of hard driving they finally arrive and find the small community to be friendly and open. When the following day Mr. Simons’ dog Barry is brutally murdered, things take a turn for the worse.

Visiting with Mr. McClain and his son on their ranch, they are invited to spend the night. They accept and are treated to a delicious meal and interesting conversation. At night, the ranch is attacked by two man/wolf hybrids, one of which the investigators manage to kill, but not without Mr. McClain getting lost in the fight and the next day being found decapitated some distance from the ranch.

When the sheriff is called in he treats the investigators as suspects and interrogates them seperately. He concludes that their story doesn’t add up and when Sir O’Reilly gets lippy, he locks him away in the local jail. The sheriff then takes Mr. McClain’s son and heads out to the ranch to do some more research in what happens.

When the investigators are later warned that Mr. McClain’s son is dead, they suspect the sheriff of being dirty and they free Sir O’Reilly from the jail and head out to the ranch only to find the corpse of Mr. McClain’s son and the sheriff inside the ranch shooting at them. They return fire and manage to take the ranch only to be beset by more werewolves at nightfall.

The investigators survive the night, but not without taking heavy damage. They don’t trust anyone in Redfield and decide to grab their things and return to Arkham. Mr. Armitage, not keen on giving up, especially when everyone agrees they haven’t gotten to the bottom of things, decides to stay behind and try to finish up what they started, but the rest is ready to throw in the towel and head home.

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Prison of Darkness

Synopsis

The Nameless, a loose-knit group of vigilantes who fight the evil forces of the occult, have come in the posession of an old painting by Bohemian warlock Pavel Dvorak who was burned at the stake for witchcraft in 1476. They, through a series of intermediaries, trying to remain anonymous, ask Mr. Simons to verify the authenticity of the painting. Sir O’Reilly and Mr. Mason, each through different channels and for different reasons, come to the aid to Mr. Simons’ attempt.

Quickly, it turns out the painting has a very storied past and that a person is locked inside of it, only becoming visible at roughly 10pm each evening, showing more and more of himself. It turns out to be late Mr. Armitage, a erstwhile companion of Sir O’Reilly who died when banishing a malevolent spirit from a farmhouse in a village outside of Arkham.

Doing their research, the investigators find a way to ressurrect Mr. Armitage, which was The Nameless’ reason for giving them the painting all along. They manage to perform the ritual and ressurrect Mr. Armitage, only for him to disappear without a trace the following day.

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The Dark Brotherhood

Synopsis

Rupert Merriweather, a notable resident of Arkham, while on his deathbed, confesses a dark secret to Dr. Carly Nannetti; while at college, he and several of his fellow students, dabbled in the occult and tried summoning a spirit. Eventually they succeeded, but not without paying a price; one dead and one permanently institutionalised. They bound the summoned spirit to a farmhouse in the little town of Ross’ Corners, close to Arkham, but when the last of their group dies, the spirit will be freed from the binding. Mr. Merriweather begs Dr. Nannetti to do something, and she reluctantly agrees.

Dr. Nannetti manage to convince Sir Kevin O’Reilly, Mr. Darren Cobwell and Mr. Jake Armitage to take up the charge of banishing the spirit. After doing research into the brotherhood Mr. Merriweather belonged to and studying the material he used in the summoning ritual, they realise that this case might have close ties to the previous case they worked on, the haunted house on French Hill Street and the Chapel of Contemplation on Brown Street.

Shortly after, Mr. Merriweather passes away.

While investigating the abandoned farmhouse in Ross’ Corners, they find more evidence of the occult goings-on of the dark brotherhood and eventually are witness to a malicious evil residing in the attic of the small house. When Mr. Armitage goes to check out the attic, he is promptly decapitated by a vicious attack.

A man introducing himself as Jonathan Arlington and offers to help, claiming to have been an associate of Mr. Armitage. Not in a position to turn down the offer of help, the investigators accept. In one horror-filled night they manage to face the spirit and some of its undead minions and banish the spirit from this realm. As with the dark brotherhood, the ritual came with a price; an investigator decapitated, a contact at the library murdered for offering his help and the mental decline of another investigator.

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