Friday, September 12, 2014

Call of Cthulhu: Cult of the Bloody Tongue Sandwich

We resumed our Call of Cthulhu game after several months. We're stumbling our way through Masks of Nyarlathotep. If you're not familiar, it's one of the most highly regarded campaigns for Call of Cthulhu (and, in fact, pops up on a number of lists for all-time best campaign, regardless of system). It's a huge, globe-trotting adventure, and we began this week's session by trying to decide where we'd like to have our TPK.

We opened with some guys in traction.  I missed an adventure, so I guess they got into trouble without me. Our GM pulled Dr. Bob away from the table. From later conversation, I learned that an enemy from before I joined the campaign had paid him a visit, and proposed a nonaggression pact offer we couldn't refuse. We would stay out of New York, and he wouldn't kill us.

So, the first thing we did was go directly into New York. There was an auction for some Mythos Tomes. Bob called Mogens (sp?), our warlock adversary to tell him that we'd be in Westchester for the auction, we wouldn't intrude on his business, and we'd be right out. And when we arrived, we learned that there had been a burglary attempt at the estate, and the auction had been moved to Manhattan. Wah wah wah. Before you could say "Can I use your phone?" our band was on their way.

We outbid the cultists calling in their bids on the phone and went home with their spoils. That night, half of the team fell asleep studying forbidden tomes. The rest of us drunk ourselves into a stupor and passed out, as per usual.

We each had a dream of drowning, ending with a yellow eye opening. Those of us who made our listen roll woke up and heard the home invaders. Those who didn't, didn't.

Oh, good lord. As I get older, I tend to like competent PCs, of whom the question is asked, "Should I do this?", rather than "Can I do this?" However, our collection of fuckups do lead interesting lives.

I woke up to the cultists breaking into the house. Like the action hero of your choice, I charged them. It was about then that I remembered my stats.

This is a semi-avatar game. We're playing 1920s versions of ourselves, with skills allocated based on our education and experience, and the player filling in the rest. My character has skills in chemistry, because that's what my degree is in, but I've never used it in the real world. I spent the rest pumping Library Use, Shotgun, Spot Hidden and Dodge, because it's fucking Call of Cthulhu and those are the only skills you need.



They're not so useful if you don't have a shotgun.

I'm not a huge fan of BRP, the system that powers CoC. Eric does a great job with it, but I don't think it's all that suited for emulating Lovecraft's stories.

What it is great at is emulating a fight featuring a bunch of flabby thirty and forty-somethings. One of our members popped his stitches trying to escape. Another slept through five minutes of combat. Those of us who were fighting couldn't hit a damn thing. An overstuffed chair in the middle of the room was more dangerous than the rest of us.

I eventually grappled a cultist. I didn't realize how low my strength was until Eric requested it so the cultist could roll against it. That cultist repeatedly, and catastrophically failed his rolls to escape (after the game, Eric mentioned that he needed an 85 or lower to escape. Fortunately, the cultists are as bad at their jobs as we are.)

The sad part is, I was performing better than most of the rest of the team. We had someone pass out after a succession of failed rolls trying to cross the room. (He eventually woke up in time to turn off the gas stove before it killed us all.) A graduate student was almost killed by a lucky impale by one of the cultists.

We finally fought them off/got them to give up in disgust. Our next step was to book passage to England. Bob took out a second mortgage to pay for it. While on the ship, one of our party members souped up the engines, another wrote The Hardy boys meets Cthulhu, and I got beaten up attempting to improve my lockpicking skills.

We followed up a couple of leads in England. We failed catastrophically when pumping a contact information. We kept asking about the Carlyle expedition, when he was actually acquainted with our other avenue, Jackson Elias. I think the best thing that can happen to this group would be that everyone dies, so that we can all reroll characters who don't suck all the time.

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