I’ll be the first to admit that I'm not the best at running a serious game. My style is laid back and I tend to joke around. But this Cthulhu game was a special request for a mate who’s headed overseas. A final roll of the dice with the old crew. You need to be in the right mindset for a Call of Cthulhu session. A few weeks back we weren’t but we soldiered through to the end of a quality scenario - Edge of Darkness.
Where it went wrong:
- No pre-generated characters prepared. While the players came up with some Cthulhu staple careers: cop, criminal and professor they set the tone of the evening by creating a 100 year old arsonist/butcher, a randy Tom Baker with a mean streak and a wrestler cop that would have been at home in a Naked Gun film were it not for his brutality. When it comes to pre-gens I think including a picture will help players get into character.
- I started the group separated. Each had a mini roleplay moment as we brought them together at the hospital. This is generally an excuse for players to muck around. It’s why I start all my D&D games these days at the entrance to the dungeon. You need to start the session with a bang to set the tone for the evening.
- No props. Having the Latin chant prepared that would go on to be used to unsummon the beast would have been a good idea. The ritual is where the tempo of the adventure picks up. It is the heart of this adventure.
- I didn’t take charge and set the tone from the beginning. While I had read through the adventure twice and taken some notes I felt like I was scrambling. I spent some time going over things and highlighting passages while the players created characters. Things would have gone much better if I had been ready to kick off right from the get go.
Enough whining! Here are some things that happened:
- A police car was parked on the curb across a hospital entrance. It was left with lights flashing and sirens blazing while its owner paid a visit to a dying professor.
- A grieving son who dared to question who the players were and why they were there was answered with a spear tackle and then handcuffed to a radiator in the hospital hall.
- Liquorice allsorts (think jelly babies) were employed as both bribes to grease bureaucracies wheels and weapons to be tossed at uncooperative npcs.
- Doctors were threatened with guns and nurses pelted with liquorice.
- A small town shop keep was intimidated, threatened with a gun and cajoled in a desperate attempt to get information she simply didn’t have.
- A homeless man was encouraged to risk his life exploring an attic. He sensibly declined and ran for his life.
- Our hero cop went mad during the ritual unsummoning at the sight of the living dead.
- Our criminal hero dismembered the undead farmer’s wife with his shotgun as he targeted each limb systematically. Being a hardened criminal he was not unduly disturbed by his butchery.
- The good professor ended the scenario with his eyes closed, ears blocked and a tenuous grip on sanity. He had continued the chant through to dawn, banishing the fiend and saving the day.
- A house was set alight to obliterate the evidence. Arson solves most problems in an rpg.