"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
Get ready to board the crazy train ladies and gentlecritters. In these electronic pages over the coming months you will be regaled with tales of the trials, tribulations, hideous demises and sanity-shattering truths uncovered by this sorry band of investigative players through their hapless characters aboard the 1991 Call of Cthulhu 'mega-campaign' Horror on the Orient Express.
The preliminary investigations regarding matters of which Man Was Not Meant to Know is slated for 16th June 2012.
Investigators should number 4 or 5 per session, which are to occur once per calendar month. More often may strain the fragile minds of these players who, to the best of my knowledge, have never played "real" Call of Cthulhu.
I will be the humble Keeper relating the reports of these events to you the pulp-reading public.
Anyone taking bets on the SAN loss to accrue in the first session? :)
As one of the slated passengers (player) on this train, I'm looking forward to the entire campaign. Don't know how long I'll survive, but I'll enjoy it irregardless.
Expect everyone to be given an allotment of characters to get ready - guess who all the passengers are? (Besides the scripted ones of course.) It will be a major feat to keep the same investigator alive and (mostly) sane for the entire trip.
P.S.: please give my regards to my boys in that wretched tomb.
Play-by-Mail? That would be impossible to do in conjunction with live players. As a seperate campaign it could be done I suppose.
Play-by-Post would probably take years.
Skype is theoretically possible, although I have no clue if the hosting players can accommodate this facet.
P.H. Dungeon wrote:
Horror on the Orient Express is a boxed set I've always wanted to get my hands on. I think it would be great fun to play. I'm envious. I have the Mountains of Madness, and one day I'd like to give that a shot, but I don't see it happening any time soon.
I've seen some discussions on Beyond the Mountains of Madness that indicate applying the Reader's Digest approach to the first chunk of it makes it a LOT better to run as both Keeper and Investigators.
Horror on the Orient Express out of the box is literally FULL of materials. If you can manage to acquire a largely intact copy somehow somewhere, I encourage you to do so.
I think you would make an excellent Keeper. All you need are some investigatively inclined players ... ;)
Huzzah for expanding learning curves. In 11 days' time this humble Keeper begins the education and elucidation of the joys and horrific truths of a Call of Cthulhu campaign that has not seen the light of day since the infancy of the internet.
How many of the first four investigators will survive in both mind and body their preliminary foray into supernatural matters?
Place your bets ...
Lo and behold! The first session of this Call of Cthulhu campaign takes place this coming Saturday the 16th of June. Four players that have never played Call of Cthulhu are jumping feet first into a meatgrinder with smiles on their lips.
Ignorance is bliss. Soon enough they won't be.
Ia!! Ia!! Cthulhu ftagh'n!!
Roll percentiles and pray monkey-boys...
I'm super excited to read about how this progresses! Well, I know it'll be quite literally the Crazy Train... but those hapless PCs have surely got it coming to 'em. Especially that KGM fellow.
Very insightful Macharius, very insightful. Why, I've not even gotten word regarding how my sons slaughtered some band of sorry sods in a swampy trap-and-riddle laden tomb in the back end of nowhere.
If you have some familiarity with the "nublet" scenarios, the first taste of CoC for this
For realz, my good Macharius. If you have a Nook: Collection for $0.99!
Personally, I'd get the eBooks, but to each their own!
Oh joy! percentiles clatter into the dice tray ...oh noes ...
Brother Faust the Elder wrote:
"Oh noes" for whom?
I received the book today. After reading the first story to my wife while she was giving our 7-month-old a bath, it turns out I'll be fighting with her over who gets to read the rest of it first. The Call of Cthulhu isn't til page 355, but that's where I'll be starting!
Much wicked joy in anticipating the relation of madness-induced PCs!
Vocalizing Hastur's name thrice in rapid succession has a slight chance of calling upon the utterer (and all those in the immediate vicinity) His immediate and undivided attention. Typically this results in an appearance of He Who Shall Not Be Named in some sanity-shattering form or another. Other times the utterer becomes "infused" shall we say, invariably resulting in PvP for which few investigators are prepared. Those that aren't driven insane on the spot are wisest to flee, burdened with the delicious guilt of abandoning their comrades and friends to horrors best quickly forgotten at the bottom of a bottle or other "pharmaceutical".
I'm glad to see a new cultist being indoctrinated at such a formative age! Naturally, that you and your wife are enjoying the tales so much as truly awesome. Please be sure to let your fellow cultists here now how much fun you're having.
When the time comes, the current CoC rulebook is available from Amazon for a VERY affordable price. When your Pathfinder / game group starts getting bored or cocky, bust out that rulebook and don the mantle of Keeper. Better still, have your wife don that mantle. Your shared enjoyment of the tales read to each other will enrich your CoC gaming experience immeasurably.
I received the book today. After reading the first story to my wife while she was giving our 7-month-old a bath, it turns out I'll be fighting with her over who gets to read the rest of it first.
So which story did this version begin with? This isn't the compilation I have so I can't check for myself =)
Prologue: The Edge of Darkness
Cast of Characters:
The four investigators were summoned by telegraph, personal courier or telephone to attend the bedside of one Rupert Merriweather suffering from terminal cancer. His grieving wife and sniveling weaselly son were in the private room with Merriweather. After making introductions and exchanging pleasantries, Mrs. Merriweather and Merriweather Jr. were ushered out of the room so that Rupert could discuss Matters of Importance with four of his associates, collegues and friends (the investigators).
As it turns out Rupert and five of his buddies in the spring of 1881 form a "literary fraternity" based out of an 18th century farm house outside of the back end of nowhere known as Ross' Corners. Set upon a hill some 100 yards from the eastern side of Boone Road leading north out of the two building town.
Rupert relayed that in thier youth he and his five buddies mistakenly unleashed a horror that they incidentally managed to secure within the attic of this particular farmhouse. As the last of the six still drawing breath, the ritual keeping the creature from straying too far afield is tied to the lives of those that bound it.
He bade them take a miniature gold sarcophagus copiously etched with Middle Kingdom era Egyptian heiroglyphs, informing them that within the accursed house is everything that they should need to reverse the summoning and dispel the fiend back whence it came.
At the moment that Bugsy grasped the box Merriweather messily and explosively expired, spraying three of the four investigators with vomited gore, inflicting the first round of SAN loss.
Ushered out by the hospital staff, our intrepid investigators somewhat understandably felt a VERY strong urgency to solve the matter before Merriweather's youthful dalliance in occult matters resulted in preventable demises most unspeakable. Merriweather was confirmed deceased within the hour by the professional medical staff. Father Wu's amateur diagnosis of Rupert's steaming innards did indeed confirm that numerous cancerous tumors were barfed up along with lung tissue and other effluvia.
Dr. somethingorother's examination of the box confirmed that the heiroglpyhs did indeed date to the Middle Kingdom. The inscriptions upon the inside of the lid were another matter altogether. According to certain occultists, they could well date to the sunken Pacific continent of Mu.
Within the box are the deed to the property, a key and a journal that detailed Merriweather's youthful activities, the deaths over time of his five friends and copious information regarding the matters to be resolved within the house in Ross' Corners.
The Investigators piled into Dr. somethingorother's Chevrolet Supreme and "sped" from Arkham to Ross' Corners. During the drive Bugsy read aloud Merriweather's journal, granting the entire group SAN loss and their very FIRST percentage point in the Cthulhu Mythos skill!
As it turns out for the better part of a year Rupert and his amateur group of Ouiji board "spiritualists" attempted a variety of ineffective experiments before Marion Allen stumbled across a Muvian blob of amber containing an arthropod of unknown origin and species. The ringleader of the group, Allen had also managed to peruse Ludwig Prinn's early 16th century work De Vermiis Mysteriis, plumbing from that tome a ritual to call forth the "friendly guiding spirit" bound within the ancient blob of amber.
Apparently Mr. Allen had mistranslated Prinn's Latin into English. The 'Dark Brotherhood' of Merriweather and company did indeed manage to call forth the spirit bound within the amber lump. Allen's first mistake was to cast the Dust of Ibn-Ghazi upon the nearly invisible spirit, rendering it fully visible to all six present in the farmhouse's living room.
Merriweather and three of the others locked up in a form of mental shutdown. The fifth meerped, squeaking boggle-eyed at the formless, toothsome, multi-appendaged horror roiling within the pentagram before them. The sixth, apparently fully gone into some form of delusional state, strode across the pentagram breaking the barrier it provided while reaching out as if to embrace the 'thing'.
The thing in turn latched two appendages onto the fellow's head, twisted it around as if the man's head were nothing more than the head upon a child's toll and tossed the corpse into the lap of the squeaking one. This fellow proceeded to start shrieking like a banshee - and he continued to shriek into the next day before the sheriff's men hauled the sorry bastard off to the nearest asylum.
Merriweather, Allen and the other survivors swore a pact to never speak of this blasphemous affair, concocted a plausible accident involving a broken neck and a bonked noggin by way of 'carriage accident' and went their seperate ways. Allen died the next year of suspicious circumstances - his tongue cut out - in New Orleans in 1883. The rest died off over the years of various causes.
Our investigators proceed cautiously into the farmhouse, 'Sir' Robin Bleech proved to be rather craven in his attempts to get other characters to go on point despite his possession of the scattergun.
Eventually, they did indeed investigate the house. Although they became aware that something or someone was lurking in the basement, 'Red Jake' the horrified hobo lashed out from surprise with his trusty table leg, breaking several of Father Wu's ribs with a mighty blow. Father Wu's .30 carbine and Bugsy's barking .32 mowed Red Jake down in a hail of lead.
After thoroughly searching the place and uncovering the notes, powder with which to infuse the fire, a spare pair of black tapers, a tin of more Dust of Ibn-Ghazi and detailed instructions on how to perform the ritual. Preparations were made, although the spirit in the attic joyously screeched out of the attic and into the woods, returning only when the investigators began the reversed chant at midnight.
Despite the best efforts of the Thing in the Attic to destroy them with a zombified Red Jake, distract them with some poor woman's corpse from the woods, barf acid through the ceiling upon most of them and generally make their weak minds shatter, it was not until 1:55 a.m. - all but the last five minutes of the ritual - that things got nasty.
As an aside, CoC zombies are really hard to kill with bullets. A shotgun to the face, however, works wonderfully well.
The spirit spiraled down from the attic, coalescing out of smoke into its full glory before the investigators within the binding pentagram. The appearance of the thing, after all the investigators had gone through up to this point, very nearly shattered Bugsy's and Father Wu's minds. It definitely shattered poor 'Sir' Bleech's mind, as he perceived the thing to be the Ultimate Tabloid Reporter's target: BRITISH ROYALTY!!
Eagerly stepping forward, Sir Bleech paid no heed to Bugsy's wresting away the reporter's beloved 12 gauge shotgun. Desperately trying to save the man's life, Bugsy buttstroked Bleech with his own shotgun. I called for two Luck rolls - one each from Bleech and Bugsy. Both rolls failed and failed by large margins.
Bleech face planted across the pentagram. The Thing from the Attic lashed out, twisting Bleech's head about upon his neck like a child's doll, before slurping his heart out while it was still beating.
The rest of the investigators were able to complete the chant and dispel the thing's presence upon our world. Despite the SAN losses and the messy demise of their journalistically inclined comrade, the investigators completed the scenario with their miserable hides intact.
The next session in July begins the main campaign in earnest with what should be a roster of five investigators when Leftenant Butthead begins his attendance.
Hats off to Turin on a wonderful game. I was in fact the player of the recently demised character, Sir Robin Bleach. Props to Turin on greasing my character.
All in all, a wonderful intro game, and first trip down Cthulu lane. Look forward to many more to come.
I'm glad you enjoyed it, KGM. As things presently stand, the Thing in the Attic is a unique creature. Its stat block is not used in any other scenario that I've heard of. Acquiring Muvian blobs of amber encasing unidentifiable arthropods is likely ... difficult, to put it mildly.
Of course, the survivors will need to decide what they will do about the farmhouse littered with mangled corpses (the hobo, the woman and yourself). Gunfire does carry rather far in the quiet country night...
The idea was to give a good taste to the group for a high-intensity CoC session. There are definitely more coming. Given the observed time flow of today's session, it looks like I'll have to break things down into two short acts per session when feasible.
Excellent! A classic CoC adventure. I expect much more carnage on the journey on the Orient Express. ;)
According to the playtest notes, the seasoned playtesters experienced a 70% casualty rate between fatalities and madness. This is a pretty savvy group, albiet one that seems a bit prone to short-attention-span syndrome, and the 5th investigator is an unknown.
I think they have the potential to succeed at about the same loss rate. Naturally, we're all cheering for a higher count.
I did forget to date the aformentioned prologue: late May, 1922. This conveniently provides a full six months for my linguisticallly-impaired investigators to undertake some basic tutelage in French, Italian and/or Arabic for the upcoming Continental trip.
Of course, there is the slight matter of perhaps having to deal with Ross' Corners Barney Fife and the three corpses in and about the farmhouse in question. Let us hope that the three surviving investigators are creative enough via e-mail. ^__^
Dennis Harry wrote:
Excellent! A classic CoC adventure. I expect much more carnage on the journey on the Orient Express. ;)
Dennis, you're giving me a hell of a lot of optimism here:) Turin, should I bring an entire ream of Staples paper to make the photocopies of new character sheets or what? I never considered I'd literally be playing as the ENTIRE LOT OF PASSENGERS AND CREW on the train, as my characters die screaming one after another. Gotta love it though. Classic.
Brother Faust the Elder wrote:
Guess I don't have to worry about that little mess, do I... Nope I'm casualty #1:)
That is certainly the goal. There should be a 1920's character sheet PDF for free from Chaosium's website. Download that and have a happy fun time at Staples. I for one would enjoy thwarting the final chapter with the engine crew.
And a spectacularly messy first death it was! You may yet indirectly contribute to the arrest/ shooting while resisting arrest of the rest of them if they're not careful.
KGM when I ran my one shot CoC last summer my halpless players went through 3-4 characters each! Well one did play a single character the whole way through, very lucky that one. And that was a one night session so I would recommend having those backups already statted up!
Dennis Harry wrote:
KGM ... I would recommend having those backups already statted up!
This would be very much appreciated. Recommendations have already been made to this effect.
I don't believe that this point will hit home until several of them expire / are carted off to an asylum / are imprisoned for felonious acts in one go.
This was my first time with the CoC rules system. Your success/survival is pretty heavily tied to your ability scores. If your sanity or power scores blows cheese, surviving is a real challenge. That likely sounds unfair to many, that a few dice rolls before the game even starts determine your fate, but I like it. It has a '1st edition d&d' feel to it. "You wanna play a wizard, oops, you've got a 9 Intelligence. Have fun, Mr. Wizard. Do yourself a favor and start on the backup character already." That's how it was back in the day...
To be fair, you didn't pick your class until after you rolled your ability scores. It was certainly possible - although highly unlikely - to roll a set bad enough to where your only option was to play a magic-user.
The challenge then became "how long can I keep this 'tardlet alive?" while you worked up your next character.