Saturday, 3 August 2013

Cthulhu post mortem

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.
Things went well enough but could have gone so much better. Cthulhu needs more prep and player buy in order to be successful than a simple game of D&D.

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.


  1. I had forgotten about this adventure. I can't remember if we just played with you, me and Pete? Or was there a third PC too?

    Great times :)

  2. Jule's played as well. He was a unbalanced Dr Who type. Pete was the bad cop and you were the 100 year old criminal who was comfortable with the idea of dismembering corpses.


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