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Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

First thing to decide (though I think you already have): Is this a horror or an action campaign?

 

While I love Lovecraft, I really don't care for Chaosium's interpretation, so I'll prolly slip into rant mode here.

 

Here is a sig from a Delta Green campaign: "Come here and die fool, while you can still do it quickly!" IOW, should the characters carry a mercy bullet for themselves, on the assumption that they are dead men walking, just waiting for the right time?

 

NEway, that said, in the original Call of Cthulhu, there was a Cthuloid yuckoid in the LA swamps, that a cult had to summon before Great Cthulhu could be roused. AFAIK, no one has done anything with that critter.

 

Midas

For those of you wishing you had thought of it first, how about a campaign based on the Indian Ocean quake of two years ago?

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

If the players are there to undercut the GM' date=' then why bother? I used to have a player like that. He is a long-time friend that I tried to incorporate into my games. Problem is that he was always so snarky and malicious.[/quote']

 

I know the type of player you mean...completely unwilling to suspend even the slightest bit of disbelief. My guys aren't like that...they're good gamers. They're experienced CoC players, though, and very analytical. I have to be careful introducing certain plot elements with them. All the angles have to be covered. I enjoy the process; it keeps me on my toes and delays the onset of Alzheimer's.

 

As for Chaosium, they seem to be doing OK. They've had their shakeups and their ups and downs, but have pretty much stayed afloat. Last year they celebrated the 25th anniversary of CoC.

 

Anyway, back on topic, here are a couple of bits from the NO Guidebook:

 

-- New Orleans was previously hit by major hurricanes in 1723 and 1782, both of which practically leveled the city.

 

-- In 1852 two burglars were convicted for the murder of a female slave. On the day of their execution a black stormcloud rolled over the city. As the men were dropped from the gallows the storm hit. After it passed, the two men were discovered alive on the ground beneath the scaffold; both of their nooses had come undone at the moment of truth. They were then led back up and successfully executed. Rumor went around after this that voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, believing the men to be innocent of the murder, had summoned the storm in protest.

 

Mike

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

...As for Chaosium' date=' they seem to be doing OK. They've had their shakeups and their ups and downs, but have pretty much stayed afloat. Last year they celebrated the 25th anniversary of CoC.[/quote']That's good to know. Thanks.

 

-- In 1852 two burglars were convicted for the murder of a female slave. On the day of their execution a black stormcloud rolled over the city. As the men were dropped from the gallows the storm hit. After it passed, the two men were discovered alive on the ground beneath the scaffold; both of their nooses had come undone at the moment of truth. They were then led back up and successfully executed. Rumor went around after this that voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, believing the men to be innocent of the murder, had summoned the storm in protest.
Nice story. Darn bloodthirsty crowd if you ask me. :)

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

I don't want to seem unsympathetic to the victims of natural disasters and terrorists attacks and the like' date=' but there should come a point where we realize that these types of incidents are both dramatic in their own right and inspiring to a potential author/game designer. [/quote']

And if you and your players all feel that way, great. Valle con dios and all that. But some people may feel that turning a real-life tragedy into "just another RPG scenario" trivializes the actual event. I'm not saying I feel that way about this scenario in particular -- on the contrary. But some people might.

 

There's also the matter that, put simply, real-life tragedies are a downer. I'm not sure I'd want to play a campaign based on, say, 9-11 because I don't think I'd be able to enjoy it; I play RPGs to escape from that sort of thing, not to wallow in it. Personal preferance, YMMV and all that.

 

At any rate, my suggestion was simply to make sure your players feel the same way you do about the idea before you invest too much time & effort into campaign building.

 

I also seem to recall a movie or two being made around those events.

But can you imagine the howls if Hollywood made a movie saying Katrina was caused by sea monsters? I suspect a lot of people who lost friends & family in New Orleans would feel that was very disrespectful, however it was intended. Good thing we're not Hollywood. ;)

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

The old goodnews/badnews.

 

Seems my players are now on a fence. Coming off of a somewhat dark Exalted Dragonblooded campaign they are eager to do something lighter. Oh, there are some who want to play Cthulhu, but a few have now said they'd favor Champions (That last part is the good news).

 

So I may end up tabling this idea.

 

In fact I'm betting what will hapen is the same thing that happened last time I offered to run a horror game; I ran something else instead and then our usual GM co-opted the idea I'd laid out for the horror game and incorporated it into his own. It was innocent enough, but it does feel a little like being robbed ;)

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

Seems I've got a split vote: 3 Champions, 3 Cthulhu, 1 guy for "anything new" which for him is either one.

 

Means it's likely up to me. I'll decide in the next week probably.

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

Chiming in a bit late here, but instead of focusing on 'which big icky caused the hurricane', you might have an interesting campaign instead focusing on the effects of the hurricane and their relation to the Mythos.

 

You have an event where social order breaks down almost completely, with people being forced to live like animals, and other people treating them like animals. You have a social situation where an entire society is dislocated and displaced, perhaps never to return. You have disaster survivors who are forgotten, shuffled off, and marginalized. You have the elderly and ill abandoned to die, and not even being recovered for burial.

 

The social unweaving implied by the mythos ("living and killing freely and unbound") has a very strong resonance with the Katrina tragedy. Volunteers, rescue workers, or social workers could discover not that the King in Yellow is actively pulling strings, but that the trememdous moral and social disruptions caused by Katrina is echoed in the rising influence of Hastur and the other gods.

 

Discovering that your work to help others isn't just morally important, but is working to shore up the fabric of reality doesn't sound like Lovecraftian horror, but discovering that every single failure, every single lost soul or crushed dream, works to wear down the walls between us and Them could easily be a good horror tale.

 

Of course, to be really Lovecraftian in a 'indifferent universe' way, you would need to instead set up Katrina as being a casual by-product of an action or machination of Something Man Was Not Meant To Know. If you have a good group of role-players, discovering that the massive disaster and human tragedy WASN'T part of a master plan to seize power, but rather an inconsequential ripple effect caused by intelligences so vast and labyrinthine as to be incomprehensible, might be an interesting gaming experience. "It's not enough to thwart their plans! We can't even understand their plans! We have to counteract the consequences of plans we can't even fathom! Aaaaaaaah! My head hurts!"

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

Seems I've got a split vote: 3 Champions, 3 Cthulhu, 1 guy for "anything new" which for him is either one.

 

Means it's likely up to me. I'll decide in the next week probably.

 

How about both. I highly recommend Vibora Bay (which borrows freely from New Orleans for feel) as a solution to your dilemma. Here's a thread about it:

 

http://www.herogames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=51334&highlight=vibora+bay

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

Ever read the rpg Kult? The book gave me nightmares. Tons of nastiness in there.

 

Ahh Kult. You can never go wrong with it. In my 15+ years of gaming I can never think of a game that garnered such strong reactions from a table of players. They still refuse to play it or anything inspired by it. Do I ever miss it. I really do think that you can't go wrong if you make up your own creation. Deep Ones are cool but if your players are familiar with C'thulhu they will see it comming a mile away.

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

Ahh Kult. You can never go wrong with it. In my 15+ years of gaming I can never think of a game that garnered such strong reactions from a table of players. They still refuse to play it or anything inspired by it. Do I ever miss it. I really do think that you can't go wrong if you make up your own creation. Deep Ones are cool but if your players are familiar with C'thulhu they will see it comming a mile away.

 

Oh yes, my boys wouldn't play it either after the first session... ;) Ahh evil nastiness!

 

And, as I like to call them... character improvements...

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

"Champions" + "Cthulhu" = "I don't play" (or "flip the table" if the GM springs it as a "surprise". I game (Champions especially) to escape, not to be trapped and powerless; the latter being the general vibe I always get whenever Cthulhu gaming is discussed.)

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

And that is why I choose not to horror game. Sorry about the short derail; just wanted to express the other side of the coin, especially as the OPs group is divided on horror gaming.

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

Cthulhu is different from other horror types in that the powerlessness is generally "unable to understand", "unable to comprehend" or "unable to perceive and remain sane".

Other, non-Cthulhu horror tends to be "unable to stop" or "unable to get away".

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

Horror isn't everyone's cup of tea. Still, running a horror game is something of a fine art. Far too many Cthulhu / Kult / Chill / etc. GM's go overboard with the whole "everybody dies or goes insane" bit, and that will drive a game very quickly into the ground. To have a good game the players must have some way of accomplishing their goals; it's just that direct force isn't usually the best path.

 

Many action-oriented games (as well as other media) operate on the basic tenet the only real reason the bad guys are out there is because the good guys haven't beaten them up all up yet. There is no problem than cannot be solved by going to their base and punching them out...and that's fine. It's a relief to escape from the complex world we live in to a place where you can just kick the crap out of anyone who gets in your face. However, this mentality also runs counter to the horror genre.

 

I'm not sure powerlessness is the right term; in a good horror game there should be some way to "win" or there's no point playing (unless, I suppose, you have particularly fatalistic players). It's just that combat usually isn't the answer.

 

Either way it's still not for everyone.

 

Mike

 

P.S. For those of you who remember him, Sean Fannon tried to play in my Cthulhu game years ago. Prime example of "horror is not for everyone." For the life of him, Sean couldn't understand why you couldn't just swing on a chandelier and skewer Yog-Sothoth with a rapier.

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

True. But there needs to be some form of vulnerability in order for players to actually feel they are in a horror game. Usually it's whatever the character's main strengths are, suddenly no longer being of any use.

 

I've seen Cthulhu games that weren't horror too often. The characters were all geared up with research skills, arcane knowledge and useful contacts. They went in expecting to do detective work, problem solving and "thinking before acting".

 

That's not horror - that's a detective story.

 

If you go back to the source stories - not everyone dies, that's just a stereotype used by mockers. What there is - is confrontation, usually unexpected, with the unknown.

 

If it becomes expected, and able to be dealt with - it isn't really horror any more. It's action adventure.

 

A "win" in a horror game is when sometime during the session, the player is able to feel horror. Stopping the bad guys, or dieing, or surviving or whatever has nothing to do with it.

 

It isn't a quest game (or shouldn't be). You should not talk to man A to get item B to find book C to perform ritual D to stop monster E.

You should find something wrong, not know what to do about it (or know what to do and be proven wrong), luckily discover what may need to be done but be unsure about it, make some form of sacrifice (lose a friend, a favourite item, a limb) in order to proceed with the plan you aren't sure will work (but is still the only plan you have) - then discover something further may be needed.

 

[edit]

To summarise - A lot of "horror games" are really just other kinds of genre games - like action, adventure, detective - but in a horror setting. They don't really provoke any feelings of horror at all, they just prey on the stereotypes of the genre, take them out of context, and make the whole thing laughable.

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

Couple quick points, and sorry for being such a latecomer to the thread.

 

1. Best modern resource for CoC that I've seen is Delta Green. L O V E D I T!!! It has a kind of x-files + desperation that I think makes a lot of sense moving the Cthulu mythos into contemporary settings.

 

2. With respect to the discussion on how horror is played. The only thing you need is for the players to feel genuine danger to their person + uncertainty about the source of that danger. Most often this will be successful if you limit the characters to occupations and backgrounds that aren't some version of a vampire hunter or a Fox Mulder type since those kinds of characters are both prepared in some sense and aware of the kinds of threats to be encountered. Mood and atmosphere account for a lot, but the point is that they're going to reinforce those two basic points: vulnerability and uncertainty. BTW: Cthulu gets points for making the loss of the latter reinforce the sense of the former. When you finally see what it is, you realize you're more vulnerable to it than you thought.

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Re: Cthulhu-esque suggestions?

 

I remember playing a CoC mod that was highly influenced by The Thing on the Doorstep where certain NPCs weren't who they appeared to be. I don't remember everything that happened in the mod, but I still get an icky feeling when I remember my character's girlfriend was really her father possing her body. That's the kind of thing that sticks with you.

 

Another thing that added to the dread, IMHO, was just the randomness of violence. Sure, we were mostly helpless against the dreaded evil, but nothing pounded that home more than one of our party walking near a cave and having Nylarhotep spring out of its mouth and devour one of us while the rest watched. Did we lose some sanity? I think so, but it was creepy and fun.

 

One of my suggestions might be for a survival/horror mix: Your party is not in the city, but maybe in Plaquemines or St. Bernard Parish, cut off from the world and assaulted by zombified corpses and animals in the one island of dry land as the Mississippi and Gulf rush to wash out your last bastion of hope. Can you hold out till the National Guard arrives or will you try and get 4 people on a fan-boat built for two and high-tail it? In any event, you will have to confront the mystery behind your zombie attackers, assuming you survive.

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