Friday, October 23, 2015

Play Report: Consider Yourself

Last night I had the opportunity to run another Call of Cthulhu 7th edition game at The Malted Meeple. I was particularly excited to do this, as I had to cancel my August game. I had 5 players, one who was new to Call of Cthulhu and one who was new to RPGs; the other 3 had played in my other games.

This time I ran a scenario I wrote called Consider Yourself, which I have run multiple times in the past. I won't go into specifics as I plan on running it in the future and possibly submitting it for publishing. The summary of the scenario is the PCs are asked by an oil tycoon to discretely find his missing daughter. This leads them down a road to where they dig up the past sins of others and have to deal with them in the present.

The game ended with 1 PC dead (more on that below), the rest hurt badly, and the only book that could banish the big bad vaporized in an explosion. The players had a good time, especially the first time player.

A couple things on the game:

One part of the game takes place in a homeless shelter. The PCs decided to go undercover and send one in. Who do they meet there, but Walt 'Mash Potatoes' Johnson, an NPC of Oscar Rios (and a former PC IIRC). Upon introduction, the PC introduced himself as Mike "French Fry" Fry. Walt regaled the PC with tales of riding the rails, the "hobo council", and the supernatural encounters he's had. Immediately another player exclaimed, "I'd watch that show. Mash Potatoes and French Fry, two hobos riding the rails and fighting evil." Expect a script soon, FOX. (Walt is stat'd up in GGPs Island of Ignorance. Purchase it.)

I originally wrote the game as a 50s noir scenario and had originally tied an NPC to a pre-gen to give the scenario a little more meat. However, I took that out this time and was afraid the scenario might suffer. Fortunately, it did not and I don't think anyone could tell a piece was missing. I'll likely reintroduce some of the clues into it through another fashion, but am glad things worked out.

In my opinion, this is probably one of the best scenarios I've written. However, I'm struggling with the fact that there really isn't much horror until the end. I'm usually OK with this, as I look at horror in Call of Cthulhu scenarios as an arc - it starts off slowly with a few SAN checks, builds up with the checks becoming worse, until it peaks toward the end. I feel this one needs a bit more though. I've never had any complaints and I know I'm my own worst critic, so it may be fine. I think the best thing for me to do is compare it to a number of well done scenarios and see how they work.

Finally, I love the way magic works in 7th edition. Essentially, when a PC wants to cast a new spell they sacrifice the number of MPs required and then make a POW check. If they succeed, it works. If they don't, they may attempt to push the roll (roll again). If they succeed, then the spell is cast. If they fail, the spell still goes off but bad things happen.

The Call of Cthulhu rulebook gives examples for these bad things, and IMO most are rather benign. In the game, I look at spells and magic as something that man is not meant to play with, so the consequences are dire. Very dire.

In this case, the PC had attempted to learn a spell called "Summon the Fires of Hell". They failed their check to learn up, but I told them that their PC thought they knew it. During the final confrontation, the PC cast it and failed their POW check. I explained they could push it, and what would happen. They decided to risk it and rolled again; they failed.

I described how they felt the spell go off and flames start to shoot from their hands. They also felt an intense pain as their hands began to melt and they could feel a burning inside of them. The PC charged into the center of the room where they burst with a fiery explosion, injuring everyone in the room (all the PCs, some NPCs, and some possessed attacking them). The sole copy of the book that contained the banishing spell they were trying to cast was destroyed.

While most of the PCs survived, it was definetly a dark and Lovecraftian ending in my opinion. They had no way to get rid of the evil entity plaguing them and thus decided to encase its frail prison in cement and dump it into the ocean. Too bad some Deep Ones are going to find it. ;)

In the end, a fun game was had by all and two new players were introduced to the game. A successful night.