Sunday, 23 March 2014

Call of Cthulhu actual play: On Silent Wings

A few days ago, a few of us got together to play some games, and K was suddenly seized with inspiration for an occult scenario. So we ended up playing an impromptu Call of Cthulhu-system (but non-Mythos) game on the back of about five minutes of prep. And of course, I recorded it. This is admittedly not really traditional Call of Cthulhu fare, but something quiet and investigatey is fun sometimes.

This recording is in only two parts, the start and the end.

The rest of this post is all spoilers, so listen first if you care about that. There's some good unexpected stuff in the plot.

Cathedral and avenue Winchester England

Chargen is one of the things that I really like about Call of Cthulhu, both in its erraticness, and how quickly you can do it if you're familiar with the system. Dan expressed some concern about how long chargen would take, and I assured him you could do it in five minutes. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but in fact it took us about ten despite the fact we didn't have any character sheets and only brought in a single rulebook between us, several minutes into the process. Remembering and allocating skills, and settling on character concepts, was the bulk of the time.

This was a really fun session, and I'm really impressed with how K came up with something so fun in such a short time. It was nicely different from the usual Cthulhoid fare, pleasingly weird to investigate, and yet fundamentally quite simple.

It's maybe worth noting that (as far as I know) none of us had come up with the explanation until we uncovered that vital clue in the library. I thought the Cobalt Satyr was some kind of supernatural butterfly that he had, in fact, eventually obtained, but had then possessed him. It was controlling him and carrying out some strange machinations that involved killing people.

Arthur, in contrast, suggested it was a human skin suit walking around filled with butterflies. They weren't trying to kill people, they wanted to take over their bodies. The two victims were actually those who had successfully resisted invasion; who knows how many butterfly-people were walking around in human skins? "Invasion of the Buttersnatchers" anyone?

The fact that we had two such disparate explanations, both of which sound like they would have been just as much fun as the actual solution, reinforces my sense that this was a solid adventure.

K had a solid idea for how to start the adventure and what kind of investigators we are, but we negotiated the details. We also collaboratively create an agency. None of us take much in the way of the classic Cthulhu skills, which turns out to be fine. There's lots of feedback between Keeper and players as we set things up, which helps her by making sure we know what we're in for, and by giving her an idea what sort of people we're interested in being. It helps us by making sure we're not making square pegs for her mystery. You'll notice that I spend a while asking a few questions about the setting premise (just how supernatural life is, the social standing of our agency), which can be really helpful in getting on the same page.

My solution to the issue was a bit brutal, and maybe I jumped the gun a bit in terms of pacing, but at the time it kind of felt like the point where actually doing something was necessary. K was a bit surprised by how much we thought about the morality aspects and how sorry we felt for the doctor, but to me that showed what a good job she'd done of portraying him. There still isn't really any solution I can think of that doesn't have some serious downsides, unless we assume the bishop has a fairly short half-life and the power would go away. Such is the way with wizards and their ilk.

Oh, and good old Peter de Roche is all real mythology.


1 comment:

  1. In exciting news, a friend just informed me that Winchester Cathedral sits on the site of a temple of Dagon founded by Cerdic, first king of Wessex!

    "Suo domino Colendissimo Magistro Willielmo Waynfleete Sedis Ecclesie Cathedralis sancti Swythin Wyntoniensis Episcopo que olim Ante tempus consecracionis dicte Ecclesie Templum Dagon vocabat Tempore Paganorum gencium et presentatur domino prescripto Episcopo de Beneficio Domini Iohannis Fastolf Militis ob memoriam sui quamuis modicum fuerit quantitatis diei 16. mensis decembris Anno cristi 1473o. per willielmum wyrcestr"

    Had we but known...