First a few general ramblings about me. I have been a Game Master for almost 30 years, playing dozens of systems. Of these systems (Vampire, D&D, Pathfinder, Exalted, Legend of 5 Rings, 7th Sea, Shadowrun, only to name a few) almost none stands out from the crowd as CoC does. Why? Because it is set in our time period, or our past, something easily identified with. On the other hand it is one of the most difficult systems to be a good GM (or keeper) for. Why is that? Let me go back to the humble roots of my journey into roleplaying. I think I was maybe 9 or 10 then when I stumbled about a book called "The Warlock of Firetop Mountain". Leafing through it I immediately realized that this would forever change me. Interactive stories where I could be the hero. A hero like Ruthger Hower had been in Ladyhawke, one of my favourite movies. Then one day in a toy store I stumbled over a box called "Das schwarze Auge - Abenteuer Basis Spiel". (Translates literally to The Black Eye, not a fitting title for English customers. A Schwarzes Auge is kind of a Palanthir in the game world). WhenI took the box home and immersed myself into the rules and background my heart pounded wildly. Now I really could be the heroe of my favourite movies, as only our creativity was the limit. But that isn't what CoC is all about. It's not a dungeon crawl where you are supposed to slay dozens of monsters. You are a detective, imvestigating a world full of cosmic horrors and conspiracies. And one usually can't overcome the monsters, usually only deny the inevitable.
So how did I get to be a keeper for CoC? I hadn't read anything of Lovecrafts prose then. Again I stumbled about a German phenomenon. You see there were these dime novels. Probably there are dozens of them in the US too. But here in Germany we had two which involved heroes fighting the supernatural and occult. On is the still popular "Geisterjäger John Sinclair", a story about a Scotland Yard Inspector who fights against supernatural threats. Think of Dreaden Files as a dime novel to get a feeling for what these stories are.
The second series was called "Der Hexer von Salem" a story set in the 1920ies about a young man who learns about the Cthulhu Mythos and takes up the fight. Not a typical Lovecraftian story, but in the end he dies in his fight. And as the demand for the series was still up he got resurrected by Victor Frankenstein. All thes talks about Lovecraft (which is a character appearing in the dime novels) made me get some of the original Mythos stories. I devoured them, even they kept me awake for some nights.
So one day in my FLGS I stumbled over a tome called Call of Cthulhu 4th edition. Roleplaying something like these stories? Horror and mystery? I was hooked. Now, almost 25 years after that purchase CoC is still one of the settings we play. The other one being Legend of the 5 Rings, where we are 15 years into a campaign. But that's another story. Later I will give a short overview about my favourite CoC adventures.
Ok, here it comes. I'll separate my thoughts in three parts. Part one will be standard Cthulhu stuff, part 2 Delta Green and part three something special. So let's start: The Complete Dreamlands: I always had an uneasy relationship with the Dreamlands. Only one adventure I encountered did it right, everything else didn't fit the tone. Just normally the Dreamlands feel tacked onto a story. And playing there is just another Fantasy Setting. So I am not a fan. If any of you has some good ideas how to incorporate the Dreamlands in stories, please let me know.
The Walker in the Wastes: An epic CoC campaign. It sounded solid on paper but I never had the time to play it. Has anyone information on this?
Three adventures in strange times. All of them extremely good. In one you are a member of the Spanish Inquisition, tying to get to the core of a miracle. Another one is in London during Shakespeare's time. And you'll even meet the bard and find out how the play King in Yellow gets written. The third one is my least favourite of the three. You are astronauts on a space station in the future. Maybe after playing Dead Space (one of the best horror games ever) I should give this one more try.
No Man's Land: Playing soldiers in WW1 in the Lost Battalion. This adventure is far too deadly and not very exciting. I played it once and it ended after two hours with a TPK. (Don't throw grenades in confined caves...)
Fatal Experiments: Has three adventures but I always ever played one of these. It's about a party where the play The King in Yellow is being performed. It's a good introduction into the Mythos and especially nice as the players get to visit Carcosa. But beware: this is only for experienced keeper who can flesh out the Carcosa part a bit and create atmosphere.
The Great Old Ones (adventure collection): Never played any of these. Should I?
Ye Booke of Monsters 1+2: Stay away. Cthulhu needs good stories, not more monsters. Can't recommend these. This isn't D&D.
Keepers Compendium: A nice book, containing information about occult tomes and cults. Some of these tomes are real books, others not. Always good for some adventure ideas, but made obsolete by another book. (Necronomicon)
In the Shadows: Another compilation of three adventures. Only ran one of these and it was quite decent. I remember an anecdote. One player wanted to have point in martial arts. So I told him to also put points into Chinese language. Then several hours into the adventure I stumbled over a text telling me: "the manuscript is written in Chinese. So the players have to travel to Chinatown now. Of course my player made his skill roll and we skipped one third of the adventure. Ah, well, that's what being a good keeper is, no?
Short rant: if you like Cthulhu and good detective horror adventures you should consider learning German. Some of the best adventures I had the joy of playing are German CoC adventures. Enough of that, to give you some facts:
Um Ulm herum: This collection of two adventures take both place in the mountain range called Schwäbische Alb. Some really old caves have been found there and in there the oldest instrument ever found. A flute made from Swan bones. Enough of the facts, to the contents:
Unsere Liebe Frau aus den Wäldern: (Our dear lady from the Woods) A great adventure which plays with the characters perceptions as they are asked by a married couple that they believe their baby is about to be kidnapped. But the next morning people in the hotel they stayed don't remember anything. The players travel into the Alb and discover the couple, now neither remembering each other or the fact that they had a baby. It's a great adventure, the finale taking place in a convent. Das blaue Tor: (the blue gate) An apparition of a little girl warns the characters of an impeding train crash. The players investigate and visit the Blaubeuren, a small (real) town with one of the deepest cave systems. There are legends about mermaids and stuff. This adventure inspired me to take a week of vacation to visit the city.
Kleine Völker: Two stories: Siegfriedslust is about the treasures of the Niebelungen. An old Germanic tale. Unfortunately it is more akin to an Indiana Jones story than Cthulhu. Just one example: the adventure starts with a drive by shooting when gangsters shoot at the players with Tommyguns. Only 5 minutes into the adventure the first player died. Don't get me wrong, it is a decent pulp adventure but doesn't work with the CoC ruleset.
Gestohlene Leben: (Stolen Lives) A great story. The players are stranded in a remote mountain village. Something doesn't seem to be right about the villagers. My favourite scene: there is an old granny handing out cookies to the players. The keeper is told to have a box with cookies and hand some out when they first meet the old lady. But then at night the players try to sneak away and encounter the old woman in the kitchen again. She asks them if they want cookies again. Then the keeper is instructed to pull a nerf gun from the box and shoot one of the players. You can't imagine the stupid faces my players made.
Cthulhu Vietnam 67 It's like watching the series Tour of Duty and has as much to do with the Mythos. Avoid it.
Titanic Inferno: The players follow a thief onto a ship and too late discover that they ended up in the Titanic. It's best if the players don't know the adventures name and the fact that the ships name is the Titanic until it's too late. But as an adventure it is only mediocre.
Geisterschiffe: (Ghost Ships) Another collection of adventures. Including a very good adventure which has reminiscence to the movie The Others. You even need to play that adventure twice with different characters to get the whole experience. Highly recommended.
Festival Obscure (Carnivale) This has several adventures on carnivals and sideshows. One of these has been inspired by the movie series Puppet Master. That works quite well. And the other two stories are very creepy, too. I hate clowns...
Necronomicon: The book that made the Keepers Compendium obsolete. There is lots of detailed information on cults, artefacts, tomes and spells. Lots of pictures, very well researched. In my opinion a must for a CoC keeper.
Cthulhu Amerika Some information on the US in the 1920ies and one of the best adventures for CoC. I'll talk about it in another post in the Keepers Corner later.
Cthulhu Ägypten (Egypt box): oh my! The topic I am interested so much. Even since I have been a little boy I have seen the Artefacts of Tut Ench Amun I was hooked on Egypt. Read about Howard Carter and the Valley of Kings. Truth to be told I almost studied Egyptology. An the adventures in the box are great, too.
Now my favourite item: Die Froschkönig Fragmente (The Frog King Fragments) When a Germanistic professor goes missing and information about the Brothers Grims Fairytales show up the characters have to go deep into rural Germany. They will find out what happens when the Fairy tales turn out to be true. At the shores of a lake they meet their destiny, crossing over into the Dreamlands and realize the terrible secret some of the villagers are hiding. This is by far the single best adventure I ever had the joy of playing as a keeper. Over the years I played it 5 times, with different groups. Highly recommended!
diggitydoodog: I've had dubious documents for 2 years now and finally went to work on it. Would anyone on here be willing to PM me the answer or post it in a spoiler so I can check the solution?
Sept 17, 2020 11:44:39 GMT -5
Todd: Did you hear about the dwarfish fortune teller who broke out of jail? Police are on the lookout for a small medium at large.
Oct 15, 2020 21:35:58 GMT -5
distantsmoke: It’s snowing here in NE Kansas! Yay!
Oct 26, 2020 9:51:04 GMT -5
Todd: I once went to a zoo whose only animal was a dog! It was a shih tzu.
Oct 27, 2020 18:20:25 GMT -5
rob: There are 10 types of people in this world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't.
Nov 17, 2020 17:47:10 GMT -5
AMH: Wow, I never realized that collecting and doing puzzles could make you a millionaire... If you were a billionaire !
Nov 18, 2020 23:54:06 GMT -5