Dec 28, 2015

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When Cthulhu Calls You’d Better Answer

the-call-of-cthulhuIt’s been quite some time since I’ve played a tabletop RPG that isn’t Dungeons & Dragons. We played some modules from 4E, and are just looking for a non-holiday week in order to complete the Hoard of the Dragon Queen module for 5E. I think we’ve been playing now for three years between the two systems, but there’s been no traction for any other game platform in between or concurrently. In a way, that’s kind of a shame because there’s a lot of great systems out there, but as a DM, I doubt I can fit another weekly session in between weekly Adventure Co. outings. But I might be wrong.

I got the urge to work on a Call of Cthulhu module, so I spent four hours yesterday on episode one of a custom module. Part of that was reacquainting myself with the CoC rules, which seemed terribly anemic compared to how I remember them from so many decades ago. Granted, I’m using the “less than well organized” Fantasy Grounds version of the 6th Edition rules which makes references to page numbers impossible, some of the “tables” aren’t actually usable tables, and I’ve already had to write up some “house rules” to convert some aspects that I couldn’t find info on, or simply didn’t like. But once that was more or less in the bag, I started creating some of the NPC characters, and then started outlining the episode. After about an hour or so of taking care of those tasks, I had to go digging for resources. I was sad to find that Fantasy Grounds, for all of it’s CoC offerings, didn’t have any appropriate tokens or portraits available for purchase. I managed to find some tokens that a community member had compiled into a module, but know that I’ll need more (especially for creatures). There’s also a serious lack of non-module related resources like pre-made NPCs. The CoC source material contains some of the well known creatures, and maybe eight or twelve NPCs, but nothing generic like “police officer” or “crazed hobo”…you know, just Lovecraftian Stuff. So I had to make a few of those as well. What is good about the CoC setting, though, is that there’s no shortage of resources on the web that can be turned to a creator’s advantage. For example, I needed a floorplan of a mansion that the Investigators would visit in the first chapter. One short Google trip later and I was swimming in Gilded Age reference material from Newport, RI including floor plans of some of the most well known mansions, their histories, and even images of how they were originally decorated (which helped a lot when laying down room-by-room descriptions).

So far, I’ve got momentum, and what I think is a pretty good story. Sadly, I can’t claim that the story is actually mine: I got it from a movie, but the movie made me immediately think that it’s plot — with some tweaking — would make a pretty decent CoC one shot adventure. I’ve got the point A, and I’ve got the point B, so now it’s just a matter of connecting the two with enough investigative options that the solution isn’t just staring the players right in the face. Of course, then it’s a matter of “do I want to find people to play?”, or more accurately, “do I have time to play?”

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