Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cult of Chaos Write-Up: Helping Hands

Last night's game was a bit more challenging than Darkness Falls - I was running in the 8pm-midnight time slot, and I'm just not used to staying up that late any more.  Add to that how warm the room we were in was, and it's no surprise that one of my players was having difficulties staying awake.

This adventure was a modern day game, that we decided was set in our locale of Rochester, NY, with the investigators consisting of a Veteran and Rookie Homicide Detective and four CSIs - a blood spatter analyst, a crime scene photographer, a coroner and a toxicologist.  They're called to the scene of the death of Dr. Robert Blake, a neurologist working for the Thompson Center for Neurological Research.  Blake was found dead in his garage in front of the vintage muscle car he'd bought as a project car, with a quarter-inch hole bored into his aorta.  The scene was surprisingly bloodless however, much the consternation of the blood spatter analyst.

Examining the body revealed that it had been almost completely drained of blood, and what little was left was surprisingly still fluid.  Ligature marks on the neck suggested that Blake may have been restrained in some way - the marks were not suggestive of strangulation.  His wife Elizabeth had taken a Valium and gone to bed early the night before, and heard nothing, while the next door neighbors reported hearing a sound like audio feedback around the time of death, and that a dark, four-door sedan driven by a heavy-set, balding man in dark glasses had circled the block slowly two days earlier.  A spilled bottle of motor oil showed Blake's footprints on the concrete floor of the garage, but no signs of an assailant.  Shreds of a mushy, gelatinous material, translucent and pale pink, were found under Blake's nails, while the neighbor's gutters and roof showed signs of damage as if something heavy had come to rest there.

In the lab, it soon turned out that the gelatinous material evaporated over the course of the next several hours, with freezing it slowing the rate of sublimation.  Talking with Blake's spouse and coworkers turned up no evidence of any enemies, mistresses, gambling debts, etc.  They learned that Blake was part of a team researching a neuromuscular disorder known as Strickler's Disease, in which over time the nerve cells degrade and lose the ability to deliver messages from the brain to the muscles.  No cure is currently available, though Blake's team has had some luck with an experimental treatment involving spinal injections of a drug cocktail designed to amplify electrochemical response in the nerve cells.

Two days after Blake's death, his coworker Dr. William Crane is found dead in the park, having suffered the same injuries as Blake - blood loss and the quarter inch hole in the aorta.  Crane's dog, a golden retriever named Bucky, had a similar hole in the neck, but retained most of his blood - but every bone in the dog's body was broken, seemingly from having been beaten repeatedly against a nearby tree.  Picking up Bucky's body resulted in blood pouring out of the wound like water from a faucet, and chemical analysis of the blood revealed that there was a huge amount of an anticoagulant mixed in - an organic substance similar, but not identical to hiruden, a substance produced by leeches for that purpose.  Analysis of the blood patterns on the grass and trees brought up a curious possibility.  A gout of dog blood had been splashed across the grass, and a computer recreation showed that it had hit the ground at a 70-degree angle.  The investigators began to wonder about an occult angle, and the possibility was raised that this gout had been drunk - and then spat out as inferior to human blood.

A pair of uniformed cops were stationed at the house of Dr. David Sandford, the other member of Blake and Crane's team, while the PCs conducted a discreet stake-out of the house of Dr. Sarah Reynolds, the head of the team and director of the Thompson Center.  A radioed message that the front picture window of the Sandford house had just imploded, followed by screams and gunfire, brought the PCs racing to Sandford's house, arriving perhaps minutes too late - both cops were dead with one having been dragged halfway out the squad car's window by his neck, and the other drained inside the house.  Sandford was dead, his aorta punctured but not drained - blood had sprayed out like a firehouse, coating the far wall and big screen TV.  Worse, Sandford's wife Abby and three year old son Tommy were curled up in the corner, Abby's body wrapped protectively around her son, but to no avail; both had been drained.  More of that gelatinous substance was found on the shards of glass from the window, and when examined in the lab were discovered to absorb the blood coating them; placing a gobbet of the substance on a clean slide and applying a drop of blood with a pipette under a microscope showed the substance sponge up the blood, darkening to a deep red when doing so.

With officers dead, it would be a matter of only about a day before the Feds arrived to take over the investigation; working on a tip from Dr. Reynolds regarding a patient who hadn't shown for a monthly check-up, the PCs arrived at the house of Ted Long, a research technician for Bower Prosthetics.  His son, Ted Jr., suffers from Strickler's Disease, but was not a good candidate for inclusion in the experimental group due to his young age.  Ted was not at home, but breaking in and doing a quick sweep of the kitchen, living room and bedrooms turned up a lot of empty fast food containers and beer cans strewn across the floor of the living room, coupled with a week's worth of newspapers - and the decaying corpse of Ted Jr., dead for about a week with a quarter-inch hole in his aorta.

The two detectives descended into the basement, despite hearing a wet, slithering, rustling sound down there.  The rookie's head began to hurt, but the veteran detective suddenly had an epiphany - the rookie was the killer he'd been seeking this whole time! She certainly knew an awful lot about the case, and suddenly it all made sense to him.  Drawing his gun on her, he disarmed her and put her in handcuffs - an especially traumatic experience for her, as after seeing the rotting corpse of Ted Jr., she'd latched on to her partner as a security blanket.

He brought her upstairs to the bafflement of the CSI team, and exclaimed, "You should see all the evidence down there!" and led them into the basement after depositing the rookie in the back of a squad car, still handcuffed.

Down in the basement, with a burst of audio feedback noise, the toxicologist is attacked, grabbed and pinned by some invisible force.  He manages to squeeze off a shot at where he thinks its center of mass must be, but the shot goes wild.  The sound of gunfire snaps the veteran detective out of the mental haze he'd been in.  The blood spatter analyst fires off three shots at the area the toxicologist had been shooting at, without success.

Blood began to drain from the toxicologist, flowing up and filling previously invisible veins and capillaries, creating the image of an octopus-like creature floating in the air above the toxicologist, an image of empty space between visible veins as long, trunk-like tentacles flailed out, a pair of enormous, three-clawed hands clutching at its victim.

The toxicologist faints in shock, while the blood spatter analyst and the coroner descend into hysterics, with the blood spatter analyst particularly screaming "There it is! There's all the blood! THERE'S ALL THE BLOOD!"

The veteran homicide detective and the crime scene photographer open fire on the creature without result, and the thing flails at the detective with a number of tentacles but can't seem to latch on.  The photographer managed to break the creature's hold on the toxicologist, but when the bullets aren't doing anything, she grabs the coroner and flees up the stairs while the detective swings wildly with a length of lead pipe.

When the photographer and coroner brought back-up to the Long house, they discovered the drained bodies of the veteran detective (he was only five days from retirement, too), the blood spatter analyst and the toxicologist, with no signs of a floating blood octopus to be found.

Meanwhile, in Epilogue land, Ted Long was arrested that day trying to half-heartedly rob a blood bank; his only comment as he was loaded into the back of a squad car being "What took you guys so long?" His rantings about an invisible demon from space that took over his life after he summoned it to help care for his son land him in a sanitarium, where three years later he breaks out, steals a lighter and a gallon of gasoline, and immolates himself on the lawn.  His last words were reportedly a sobbing "I'm sorry, Junior!"


So a good time was had by all, and this session I had four players who had little to no prior experience with the Call of Cthulhu RPG, and everyone had a great time, though they missed some interesting clues by giving the Long house a light skim before descending into the basement; mixed in with the garbage in the living room was Ted Long's journal, which would have netted the PCs a handout of select journal entries detailing Long's frustration with the doctors at the Thompson Center and his conviction that if he can devote the time to it, he can find a cure for Strickler's Disease and save his son.  A chance reference he'd come across years earlier in his work as a prosthetics research technician led him to Ludvig Prinn and assertions that his day-to-day chores were attended by invisible servants, leaving Prinn free to devote himself entirely to his studies.  Requesting the relevant pages from De Vermis Mysteriis from the Huntington Library, he set about summoning one of these "invisible servants" to handle Ted Jr.'s care while Long researched the disease.  It went poorly for him.

I thought this added a strong dimension of pathos to the events, but the players didn't search the living room, so it didn't find its way into their hands.  C'est la vie.

This is my first time playing around with using a CSI team as investigators, which worked well - they all had an immediate reason to begin looking into the unnatural aspects of the case and had a lot of good skills to work with.

They ended up getting so involved in investigating the initial scene of Robert Blake's death that they spent close to a third of the time slot there; it ended up being a good thing they fought the Star Vampire in the basement, because as is we wrapped the game up with less than a half-hour left in the time slot.

Looking at the demographics for the two games I ran this weekend some interesting things jump out at me.  First off, four of the twelve players I ran for this weekend, a solid third, were women, which is wonderful.  The Geneseo Area Gaming Group, at least during my association with the club (which has been restricted to attending Running GAGG since graduating in 2009) has always been very inclusive and supportive; the very first person I saw upon walking into GAGG for the first time as a freshman in 2005 was a lovely young woman named Bridget, who happened to be playing the crime scene photographer last night; in the ten years of my knowing her it was the first time I'd gotten the opportunity to run a game for her.

Given how strongly gaming conventions in general are associated with men, and the extent to which RPGs are seen as a hobby unwelcoming to women, it's heartening for a third of my players this weekend to have been women.  I hope next year it's a solid half.

I did have a total of six out of twelve players - or half - who were either brand new to Call of Cthulhu or who had only played one or two sessions prior to the one they had with me this weekend.  And they all had a blast, which means I'm counting these two sessions as roaring successes for the Cult of Chaos.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cult of Chaos Write-Up: Darkness Prevails

Last night I ran my first Call of Cthulhu game of Running GAGG XX, an adventure based on the
adventure "The Dead Light" in the book TERRORS FROM BEYOND, though heavily rewritten - the setting moved from the Orkneys to northern Maine and the Ny'ghan Grii aliens that provide the main threat replaced with a Hound of Tindalos.  Two player characters, a pair of police officers, were added to bring the Investigator total up to 6.  Of the players, two I'd run Cthulhu games for at past Running GAGGs, one had taken part in the very first Cthulhu campaign I'd run almost ten years ago, and two had never played Call of Cthulhu before - one of them having actively avoided Call of Cthulhu for years from the mistaken assumption that it was a game of no-win scenarios.  The sixth player was new to me, but was familiar with Call of Cthulhu.

The set-up for the scenario was that an isolated lighthouse had been dark the previous two nights, and so a relief keeper, two police, and a team of three sailors from the lighthouse tender landed to investigate and relight the lamp, against a backdrop of a growing storm.

The first half of the scenario, the exploring of the empty lighthouse, went pretty well - since I'd replaced the Ny'ghan grii with a Hound of Tindalos, the method of killing changed, so now there were bodies to find, a failed SAN check on the sight of one of them almost took out the entire party - one of the policemen had a Bout of Madness, panicked and fled down the stairs, almost bowling over the other five investigators in the process.

I gave the Hound a pair of mantis-like forelimbs, and described many of the injuries on the bodies as looking like they'd been slashed with heavy blades, smeared with a strange glowing blue slime.  I also played up legends of the island being haunted to try and give the players a bit of a red herring and suggest vengeful ghostly sailors, a la John Carpenter's THE FOG.

The players did a pretty good picking up on clues throughout the lighthouse - the Time Pellets, the notes of the professor who'd accidentally summoned the Hound - but they missed the most vital one: a letter in the bag carried by the relief keeper, explaining how the Hound could be banished.  He put the bag down in his room in the lighthouse as soon as he could and forgot about it, and afterwards told us, "I thought the reference to mail on the character sheet was just flavor text."

So when the Hound emerged and began stalking the party, they really weren't in any shape to try and fight it off - it grinned at them, if an entity that looks like a Cubist painting of a shark, mantis and wolf rolled into one can grin, when they blasted it in the face from point-blank range with a shotgun without effect.  The investigators escaped, though not without injury and nearly dying of hypothermia, as the Hound was in no hurry to pursue them - it knew it could follow them at its leisure.

The two police manage to convince their superiors via the wireless radio on the lighthouse tender that there's a dangerous maniac on the island and they'll need backup with heavy firepower to deal with him.  As the lighthouse tender is returning to port, the relief keeper decides he needs to return to the island and ensure the light stays lit.  He steals the dinghy and rows himself back to the lighthouse.  When the Hound starts following him through the lighthouse, he gets the idea of throwing oil on the grated iron stairs and setting the stairs on fire to dissuade the creature.  Unfortunately, he makes his fiery last stand in the room where the tanks of lamp oil are stored.  The oil fumes are ignited by his efforts and everyone else on the tender discover he abandoned ship and returned to the island when they hear the roar of flame and see orange flickerings from the lighthouse.  They then saw the Cherenkov glow of the Hound walk out of the fire...

We ended the adventure there because we were starting to get close to the time limit, and my players had other events to get to, either to play in or to run.  We did get to discuss a little bit about what people (since pretty much everyone in the room was an accomplished Game Master of one form or another) thought worked and what they thought didn't work.

I think if I were to run this adventure again, I might make a little bullet-pointed list of goals for each character, and put "deliver the other keepers' mail" on the list for the relief keeper to draw attention to the fact that they are carrying mail for the guy who's been getting occult info by mail, without putting too fine a point upon it.  I'll also be sure to call for an INT roll if they still aren't getting it - I didn't this time because he was so quick to divest himself of the bag and with six players all going on full cylinders, often having multiple in-character conversations at once, it was a little tricky for me to get a word in at times, and with some of the players having voices as large as their personalities, I know I sometimes had trouble hearing two of the quieter players when they spoke up.

Maybe in the future I'll bring something small but eye-catching, like a stress ball or even a plush Cthulhu doll, and have that be the speaking token - the person holding it can speak up and everyone else needs to bring it down a notch and listen.  At least for six-player games like this one.

I also need to find a way to remind myself to make sure players are making sanity rolls every time they see a monster, not just the first time - one glimpse of the Hound of Tindalos is not enough to desensitize one to it, ESPECIALLY the way I was rolling for sanity loss! Guess who learned the hard way that the d20 in their new set of clear blue dice is unbalanced and comes up almost exclusive "1"?
Regardless, everyone had a good time, especially the two players new to Call of Cthulhu.  Tonight I've got a modern day scenario that's entirely my own design, with two homicide detectives and six CSI as the player-characters.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Trolls, Pulp, D&D and Barbarian Babes (Hubba hubba!)

Time for another picture-heavy upload, of my most recent entries in the Painting Challenge:

First up, a pair of Ice Trolls from Reaper:

Next, Reaper's "Nadia of the Blade," a Christmas present from the lovely Gina.  I tried to keep her colors as "cold" as I could to emphasize the brilliant orange hair.  The sword is apparently meant to be straight, but on my copy it was bent juuuuuust right to trick me into thinking it was a scimitar.

scale shot!
Next, the pulp hero "Captain Krustache" from Pulp Figures, a promotional figure I received for donating to Bob Murch's Movember campaign.  I tried to make the fur vest appear grizzled with alternating layers of gray and brown drybrushing, though the camera decided to emphasize the gray.

Finally, a few shots of my entry in the "Epic Fail" bonus round, a vignette I call "Not Everyone Levels Up":

Voting on this one ends tonight, so get on over there and show me some love!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Gift in the Post

My girlfriend Gina insists on being the one to get the mail from the box every day.  I don't know why, it's just one of her simple pleasures in life.  Another one of her simple pleasures is, whenever there's a small parcel for me in the mailbox, she hides it and goes, "What'll you give me to get it back?"

I may, in fact, be dating a large cat in a human costume.

Yesterday she upped her game substantially - I was cooking dinner when she brought the mail in, and so I got a fleeting glimpse of a package wrapped up in paper and tape.  Afterwards, when I inquired about the package, she claimed to have no idea what I was talking about, that there had been no package - just a bunch of junk mail.  I know I saw it, I insisted, and she continued to insist I was imagining things.  Finally, I'm half-frantic because she's got me convinced I'm hallucinating, and she says, "Go get your laptop, you'll feel better."

I went and actually did the dishes to try and calm my brain down.  Dishes done, grabbed my laptop, went back to the bedroom...and there was the package, sitting on my side of the bed.

Yep, definitely dating a large cat in a human costume.

Opening it revealed it to be my prize from Ray's million pageviews giveaway at Don't Throw a 1 - a set of 28mm Byzantine cavalry.  Careful inspection revealed ten cavalrymen and horses, and five figures on foot.

One figure has me a bit baffled though - I'm no expert on Byzantium, but the fellow below doesn't look like he fits.  Maybe he's supposed to be a Varangian guardsman?

He might become a Frostgrave Barbarian.  I like the attitude his posture suggests.

Either way, many thanks to Ray for this.  After announcing me as a winner in his giveaway, I emailed him and let him know I didn't expect him to ship trans-Atlantic, and if the cost of shipping was an issue I'd be more than happy with a simple "hail fellow, well met." Ray thus went above and beyond and his kindness and thoughtfulness are appreciated.

Now, to repay...I wonder if I can smuggle a bottle of Dinosaur BBQ sauce through the postal service and customs?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Catching up with the AHPC...

I should really start cross-posting my entries here once they've had a chance to be seen on the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge page for 24 or so hours.  Anyways, here's a few of the goodies I've done lately:

First, a trio of "Ice Toads" for Frostgrave - these are D&D prepainted Giant Frogs that I repainted.

Next, a pair of clanking "Republic" Robots from Brigade Games, evoking the sci-fi serials of yesteryear, my entry in the Nostalgia Bonus Round:

And finally, "Arrius, Skeletal Champion" from Reaper, who will be an Armored Skeleton for Frostgrave and represents one of the best results I've ever gotten with this funny little hobby of painting toy soldiers:

This weekend I've got my "Not Everyone Levels Up" diorama for the Epic Fail Bonus Round going live, and I've got some more Frostgrave figures that will be ready to be shown on Tuesday.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

WIP: "Not Everyone Levels Up"

"What's a diorama?"
This isn't so much a Work-in-Progress project any more, as I've finished the diorama - I just can't show the finished results until next weekend, as this scene is my entry for the second bonus round of this year's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  The theme for this round is "Epic Fail," and this is actually the second diorama I've assembled for this round - the first one I began to worry might be considered "scenery" rather than "figures" and thus be disqualified.  I'll post it here once it's painted because I'm still pleased with what I did, but I decided to do something else for the "Epic Fail" round.  Digging around in my project box I found a couple Reaper "Bones" figures I haven't done anything with, and picked out a monster whose pose suggested a bellow of triumph.

I had it.  I knew what I was going to do.  I ordered the one piece I needed to complete the scene - the individual who had failed epically - and set to work.

50mm round base from Reaper Miniatures glued to a 50x100mm rectangular base from Renedra.  "Deathcap" prepainted D&D miniature glued to the other end for visual interest.  

Greenstuff rings added around the mushroom and "platform" to blend them in.  Stalagmite #1 added, leading to the decision that it Stalag-might look better with a few more.  

There we go.  More Greenstuff added to build up the rocky areas of this cavern setting.  Who's that hanging out in the background?

A back view.  Somebody's still hanging around in the background.

This guy looks like he's probably had better days than today.  Reaper "Overlord Casualty Marker" from their "Warlord" game.  He originally had three arrows in him that I snipped off.  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Building a Mystery, Part 5: Kill Your Darlings

art by Fufu Frauenwahl
Continuing on with my series on how to construct a Call of Cthulhu one-shot scenario for use at conventions, we come to an interesting conundrum.

"The Haunting of Holdernesse Hall" needs a massive, well, overhaul.  Reading and rereading through my notes, I realized how reliant the adventure was on the players following through on almost-red herrings and side-acts, with no real, solid "main story" to explore.  It would essentially rely on the players to follow every NPC around, get their stories, and then they would still stumble unarmed and unprepared into Gol-Goroth's lair and, presumably, gaping maw because nothing is tied together particularly well.

If I were writing a short story of Lovecraftian fiction, this would not be a bad thing; this is essentially the structure of "The Call of Cthulhu" in the first place, after all.  But I have grave concerns about it working as a convention game where we need to be on point and keep digressionary adventuring to a minimum due to time constraints.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned it previously or not, but I don't even like to completely fill the standard four-hour time slot if I can help it - I'd rather run a three-hour session, because A) that's a bit less exhausting for me to deal with as running games taking a great deal of energy out of me and B) it gives players time to find food between games, shop at the vendors' tables, etc., and not feel rushed between games.

So I'm not feeling real confident about running "The Haunting of Holdernesse Hall" right now, and that's a good thing.  I've run a lot of crappy one-shot adventures over the years, especially at conventions.  I had one mortifying experience where the Call of Cthulhu adventure I showed up to run was completed by the players in under an hour because it had been so poorly written (by me - this was no published adventure.  It wasn't even really an adventure so much as a setpiece).  But writing and running bad adventures allows us to learn and write and run better adventures later on.  A big part of my education as a Game Master was a crash-course, rewriting the classic Cthulhu campaign "Shadows of Yog-Sothoth" as I ran it.

This is okay.

I've removed the listing for "The Haunting of Holdernesse Hall" from the event board at Running GAGG XX in 2016, and replaced it with a new adventure, "Helping Hands," built using the methods I've already outlined, which will be a modern-day game with the players taking on the roles of a CSI team confronted with grisly and possibly occult homicides.  But I'm not going to talk about that.  I'm going to move on to the next stage in the procedure with "Holdernesse Hall" still being my example.

The next step, for me at least, is to create the pregenerated characters I'll be handing out and tying them in to the story I've constructed.

Six investigators is the maximum I'll do at a convention game, having learned the hard way how difficult it is for me to deal with anything more than that, and with each additional investigator it gets harder and harder to give them a reason to be there.  So I've already laid out my six or "Holdernesse Hall":

  1. The American Heir(ess): the grandson/daughter of the old Duke via an illegitimate son, as the only living blood relation of the Duke, while they cannot inherit the titles they can inherit the property.  They are hated by the Duchess for being continued evidence of her husband's infidelity.  Is not really interested in inheriting much of anything, but the recent death of a spouse has them in need of time away from home.  
  2. The Doctor: the Duchess' live-in physician, she financed his way through medical school years ago on the understanding that upon completion he'd serve her faithfully.  Was the only one present at the Duke's sudden passing.  Is of the opinion that the Duchess "owes" him for something best left unspoken, and intends to inherit much when she passes.  May or may not be descended from Colonel Sebastian Moran, the sharpshooter deemed "the second most dangerous man in London" by Sherlock Holmes.  
  3. The Chauffeur: A career criminal and long-time armed bank robber, he's taken a job with the Duchess in order to lay low until the heat's off.  In the meanwhile, he's buried the loot from his most recent bank job behind Mary's Tower, leaving it there until it's safe for him to start spreading the cash around.  Jumpy and nervous because two compatriots from the last job, whom he double-crossed on his way out of the heist, have been lurking around, looking for him.  
  4. The Groundskeeper: Posing as a simple gardener and traditional English man of the soil, he is in fact an undercover detective from Scotland Yard, looking for evidence of the Chauffeur's involvement in the recent heist in order to arrest him.  He also has his eyes peeled for the Chauffeur's former companions and may come to suspect some of his Hall-mates of causing trouble.  
  5. Grandchild #1: The offspring of the Duchess' adopted son, this one is a rowdy drunk and rugby hooligan who cares little for the Holdernesse titles and sitting in Parliament and all that, and is only concerned with the amount of rampant totty he could get with the family fortune.  Is just the sort of belligerent who isn't afraid to bully everyone around him to get his way.  
  6. Grandchild #2: The other offspring of the Duchess' adopted son, this one is more scholarly and less athletic.  Rather than bully and use aggression to get their way, Grandchild #2 is a slimy little toady, flattering and manipulating, and not above a bit of blackmail.  Edmund Blackadder would be proud.  
You can see in these brief descriptions that I've tried to give all the PCs ties to the Hall and reasons to interact with each other.  Most of them also have reasons to interact in various ways with the Duchess.  As mentioned previously, I like to give PCs in convention games reasons to distrust, or even dislike, each other, and then thrust them into a situation where they're forced to put that aside.  It makes for very memorable play, I find.  And if they die because they were too invested in bickering among themselves to form a united front against the Mythos, so much the better.  I've never personally seen that happen, but I'm sure at some point it must.

I keep the actual generation of the characters simple - nowadays I use the 7th Edition Quick-Start rules to create characters quickly and have characters be pretty roughly balanced between them.  I try to keep everyone within about 10-20 Sanity Points of each other especially; I generally try not to let it seem like one character or another is "protected" by having 20-30 extra SAN points.

So the scenes that compose the scenario are now written, the NPCs are written up, and the player characters have been generated.  What comes next?

I'll generally give the adventure a last going over to tighten any loose pieces and to look for places where I can specifically tie the player characters into the story - for example, "PC #3 will recall having read something similar to the story he's hearing from the NPC.  A search through his personal library will turn up the book he's thinking of."

If there are any handouts called for by the adventure, I'll make sure they're written here as well.  For example, if I were to be continuing with "The Haunting of Holdernesse Hall" this season I would probably do four handouts:

  • A modern book of folklore's recitation of the legend of the Holdernesse Toad
  • A medieval account of the battle against the Toad, potentially in Latin
  • A Roman-era account (in Latin) detailing a cult and its unclean, toadlike god
  • A Regency-era diary suggesting the former Duke of Holdernesse reawakened the Holdernesse Toad.
Once that's done, I make sure everything's printed out (I *hate* the idea of having my laptop at the table at a convention game - it feels profoundly disrespectful to the players in front of me, plus some conventions don't allow GMs to plug electronics in, so it's just easier to have a binder with my notes in protective sheets), organized and ready to go.  I've got a special binder that's just for Call of Cthulhu scenario notes and a special bag that I just carry my gear in for conventions.  Unnecessary, maybe, but it's part of my ritual preparedness.  

And that's it for this series.  Hope it provides some other Keepers out there with help preparing adventures.  If it does, write me and let me know.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Frostgrave Tower and Statuary

I got a little bit of work done on some figures this weekend, including a few for the Frostgrave Bestiary that'll be going up on the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge in a few days.  Unfortunately, I FUBARed a couple of those figures trying a new basing technique that didn't work out the way I wanted, and it damaged the paint jobs pretty severely with not much hope of recovery.  Live and learn.

I do have some goodies to show off, however; I purchased this castle tower birdhouse at my local craft store this weekend for a whopping $5 to convert into a piece of Frostgrave scenery.  It's about 5" square across the base and maybe 8 or 9 inches tall.

28mm Reaper Miniature in the battlements for scale

I cut down a jumbo-sized popsicle stick pilfered from Gina's make-up supplies to create a pair of doors to cover the bird-entrance in the front:

When the glue is fully dry I'll add a lintel around the door.  I'm still not sure what I'll do with the top opening - either shutters or use toothpicks to create bars over it.  I wish I still had some of the leftover sprues and bitz from my days of trying to build Warhammer armies - some of those old Vampire Counts shield icons would really spruce this up!

Finally, I now have a pair of statues for Frostgrave (I'm not counting them towards the Painting Challenge because they're scenery, not "figures" per se).  Just four more and I'll be able to run the living statues scenario from the rulebook.

What? No, we're just ordinary statues, not the kind that come to life and murder you. Perish the thought.