View Full Version : Call of Cthulhu Scenarios

2015-08-05, 04:09 PM
Are there any CoC scenarios that play the characters off against each other? I like the idea of the players being completely paranoid around each other. If it's scary then major bonus points.

2015-08-05, 05:15 PM
One of the ways is a locked house mystery. One of your players needs to be a plant which can be hard to pull off though.

The scenario works like this: a group are invited to an old mansion by your typical sort of "I'm about to be murdered for plot" sorts. Outside of sight, one of them murders the NPC owner and supernatural forces lock the cast into the house. They need to find what's stopping them from leaving, maybe even cooperating, but one of them is actually secretly the murderer. A Cthulian horror or some kind of cultist that is trying to complete a summoning ritual in that house. As he kills off other people (perhaps pepper in a few NPCs so players aren't kicked out too quickly) the house becomes more haunted and the cultist or horror gets more powerful. Conversely, the players are racing against the murderer to try and figure out who the horror is and to maybe find a way to kill it.

Another way is to imply that one of your players is a plant but have the murder be conducted by an NPC Cthulian horror. There'll be just as much distrust and paranoia but without actually having to have a plant that the other players might be able to read. Obviously not everyone is going to be cool with that though.

Another thing that works in other campaigns as well is to describe things completely differently to different players. The disjoint in reactions between them, especially if you describe scenes using notes it can add a layer of distrust.

2015-08-07, 04:19 PM
There's a delightful scenario known as Bryson Springs, written by one of the guys over at Roleplaying Public Radio. The four primary characters are an FBI agent, the convict he has in tow, a reporter, and a snobby professor of anthropology.

The FBI agent obviously cannot allow the convict to escape, but must still investigate the scenario. He must balance the reporter's contributions to the investigation with the fact that he has been tasked with keeping the case out of the papers. He likely suspects the professor of being a pinko or some other kind of radical (welcome to 1935).

The convict must figure out how to escape from his captor while still remaining useful to the party (or not). If the professor's player roleplays well, he is annoyed as hell by the man. He is also annoyed by the reporter's incessant questions, again if played well.

The reporter must find a way to get by the FBI agent in order to get the scoop, while likely playing off the professor and convict against the agent to do so.

The professor, simply put, is supposed to be an absolute twit. Half the time I've run it, and in the original recording by the RPPR crew, he semi-deliberately antagonizes the others to the point of physical violence. He's actually very useful as a character, since the plot involves ancient Chinese mysticism, but at the same time he's designed to be grating to the other PCs.

And that's even WITHOUT the arcane horror. And if you time its introduction right, each person will have different clues and encounters that lead to some of the PCs panicking and the other half confused.

Also, there is an incantation which almost inevitably a fraction of the party ends up reciting. When recited, it seriously toys with their worldview, leading to a situation in which one player is yammering about strings and telling the other to read gibberish aloud, which obviously comes off as insane.

2015-08-07, 04:25 PM
You hit the player with a spoon until he is convinced you have been made crazy by great ancients.

2015-08-07, 04:53 PM
Are there any CoC scenarios that play the characters off against each other? I like the idea of the players being completely paranoid around each other. If it's scary then major bonus points.

To be honest, my advice on this is simply 'don't'.

If a character goes insane then you might have them stay in the party working to bring about the current problem for a while (my doctor had got down to sub-20 San playing Tatters of the King when I rolled 00 for a San roll - I spent the rest of the adventure trying to bring about what the rest of the party was trying to prevent...).

Other than that unless the players want this I don't recommend it. A lot of people don't get how Call of Cthul'hu works best - the Keeper is not trying to kill the characters, that is totally trivial in CofC. Bearing in mind that the point of any game is for everyone to have fun, the best strategy is to try to slowly drive the characters insane.
Yes characters will die (a lot), it's that sort of game where a small mistake can kill parties.
Set it up so that the characters are working against each other and there is no real 'party' - then they don't stand a chance of completing the adventure (it's a game where you tend to need everyone to bring a different set of skills to the table, overlap is useful, but no-one can do everything solo). If they players have a chance of succeeding and blow it, they can usually enjoy themselves.
If they don't stand a chance, then even if they enjoy most of it, it will leave a bad taste in the mouth afterwards.

For example, the most disappointing CofC adventure I ever played involved the party getting into another world, probably Dreamlands (it's been about 20 years so I don't recall the details), and then trying to survive the rollercoaster. Eventually we got to the exit and found it was all the plan of a great wizard to get into our world - he just needed us to open the door home for him (our only way out). So far so good; however the only way not to doom the world (we were pretty much forced to open the doorway rather than attempt to commit suicide) was to seal the door from the other side - i.e. use an Elder Sign or the equivalent.
The problem was there was nothing in the adventure to give one the power to do this - you needed to already have it somehow and we were brand new characters...
End result, the party in the middle of the South American wilderness knowing there's a good chance that by the time we make it back to civilization the world as we know it will be over.
This completely killed mood despite the fun we had had up to that point.

On a similar note, I am currently playing in a D&D campaign that has reached a frustrating point - we are not sure how to accomplish our current goal (assassinating an army leader). Since this is a published adventure we are fairly sure that it is supposed to be achievable, we just don't know how. Despite the frustration this is actually really good fun because we are working together against impressive odds trying to find a way to do our task.
You are proposing to remove the 'working together' part - and in CofC the goals are almost always 'nearly impossible' - this is likely to leave the frustration while removing the fun.

All that said, for a short one-shot if they players are up for it then go for it. This should work particularly well if one of the characters is the problem so they don't need to work as a team against the odds, they just need to survive and persevere until they eliminate the right character (of course there should be enough npcs that it might not be one of them after all, or not just one of them...).
What it needs not to be is the standard CofC adventure where going to the wrong place before you have learnt enough will kill you.

Edit: Reading the details of the Bryson Springs post above`- that sounds like exactly the way to make this work, it needs to be balanced for a party in this position not 'standard CofC'.

2015-08-07, 10:21 PM
I like the idea of the players being completely paranoid around each other.

Paranoia :smalltongue:

2015-08-08, 01:02 AM
Didn't read the spread. Dreams ....

.... ghosts invade dreams & make them what they want. Half wish-fulfilment, half-terror. "You can have what you want, all we need is your soul ...."

Wear PC Sanity out with bad dreams and illusions caused by ghosts. Ghosts from the setting and the PCs past. Have the PCs think they're doing something and they're really doing something else. Drove my offline group crazy with that --- to the point where I can't run CoC anymore :smallamused:

With CoC, you control whatever they perceive. Punish their senses to the breaking point. "I'm washing these dishes .... in blood .... perfectly normal ..."

Take everything they would use as a foundation for sanity and bend it to nightmares.

2015-08-08, 03:28 AM
The Bryson Spring scenario is a good example. Basically the way to do this is, give everyone the same goal they want to achieve, but also secret goal they individually want to achieve that might antagonize the other's secret goal. And it can't simply be "One guy secretly work for KGB, the other work for CIA" since it's for the end of the scenario. The secret goal must be achieved in the scenario. The main goal must be something everyone really want to achieve.

I haven't slept for almost 24 hours now, so I can't give examples right now, but if you still need it when I'm around later, I might throw some ideas.