Sunday, 4 April 2010

Call of Cthulhu - Session One Preperation

Note: This blog entry started off as going to be a summary of the first session. The more I wrote, the more it became about a continuation of the preparation for said session. As such I will blog about the actual first session in a different entry.

Once I had determined the adventure I was going to run, I needed to read over it several times. First time was just a straight read through. Second time was to start firming up my understanding of the time line and links/threads in the plot.

One of the places I would normally read is on the train to & from work - assuming I could get a seat and none of my friends were on the same train. Unfortunately the adventure appeared in The Unspeakable oath No. 8/9 and there was a potential issue with the cover.

The cover, like all the early UOs was drawn by Blair Reynolds. He is my favourite CoC artist, with the vividness & detail to his drawings. The cover of this particular issue looked like this.

The Unspeakable Oath No. 8/9
Now this is not what I would consider the worst of the covers. By worst I don't mean badly drawn, I mean may get you in trouble for reading on a train that also has primary/high school kids on it. The other covers if you are interested can be found here. In the end I decided to read it on the train & just be careful about not having the cover high enough for people to see. And as fate would have it two school kids sat opposite me when I had started reading it. Hopefully they didn't see the cover and if they did weren't freaked out by the bald man reading some strange book. This is not the worst thing I've read on a train & thought it could get me in trouble. The novel, that the brillant film Let the Right One In is based on features a scene touching on paedophilia. It was troubling/disturbing enough as it was to read the scene, let alone to do so on a packed train. Unsurprisingly the film does not have that scene in it.

When reading the adventure I determined that the MacGuffin was not strong enough to be used for an intro adventure where the Investigators had not delved into the Cthulhu Mythos previously. As such I modified the adventure and added a much stronger MacGuffin - The missing sister. I worked out how she fitted into the original plot of the adventure & the leads/investigation required by the party. I did not give her a name or any background besides that needed for the plot. I was going to leave that to the PC/s related to her to flesh out. I did not even determine which player's character she would be related to until after character creation was done and I had an understanding of the group dynamics such as who was connected to who and which character would likely be able to drive the initial getting together of the party forward.

Some of the other things I prepared for the game -

- Random Name Generator - uses data from the US Census to randomly generate male and female names. You can generate from 1 to 30 names at a time and set an obscurity factor (ie how common/obscure you want the names to be). Previously for the Heroic Cthulhu adventures I'd run I had generated 90 male & 90 female names, then mark them as they were used. Very useful!

- Calendar for the game year (that being 1921).

- Worked out the distance needed to be travelled by the investigators to get from Boston Massachusetts to Ames, Iowa was about 1150 miles. According to CoC 3rd ed the average long-distance auto travel in the 1920's was 15mph or 120 miles per day over eight hours due to the road conditions. By train it was 35mph or 840 miles per day for 24 hrs. From looking at the line on google maps I assumed the train would make a stop at Chicago for a couple of hours & terminate at Des Moines the capital of Iowa (strictly speaking it would have likely stopped at other locations along the way, but I was not able to find any info after a brief search & it was not that important to the plotline). The PCs would then take a connecting train to Ames. Due to Ames having the Iowa State Uni, I thought it would be feasible for the connecting train to run shortly after arrival of the interstate train. As such I guesstimated that if the investigators left Boston on a train (being the faster way to travel) some time in the morning of the 25th April (start date of the adventure I had set) they'd arrive in the early hours of the 27th in Ames.

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