Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Time to Harvest, Session 1: So Nice to Meet You

This past Tuesday, six players and I convened at Just Games Rochester to begin Chaosium's new organized play campaign, "A Time to Harvest." This campaign is being released in monthly installments, which as a member of their Cult of Chaos GM Outreach program, I received in my email.  Once everything is complete and GM feedback on the campaign is sent in, it will be edited and released as a published, for sale on the shelf book.  By running the campaign in the store (and even better, by setting up tables closer to the front door of the store so everybody coming in has to walk right by us), we increase the visibility of the Call of Cthulhu RPG - which is good for the company, yes, but also hopefully helps Matt, the store owner, move a few more units of product (for the same reason, I've instituted a house rule that spending $10 on merchandise in the store earns players one opportunity to reroll a failed sanity check).  We rolled up characters (interestingly, both female players opted to play male characters) and then commenced to play.

Dramatis personae:

  • Darren Gray (played by Mike), engineering major and member of the fencing team
  • Perry Webster (played by Dan), journalism major, on assignment for the Miskatonic Crier
  • Rip Steakface (played by Gina), folklore studies major (Gina is my girlfriend, and this is her first RPG campaign, and she's not taking it entirely seriously.  She has stated her intention that every character she plays this campaign will have a name taken from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode in which they riff SPACE MUTINY)
  • Roni (played by Katie), Finnish-born history major and member of the swim team
  • Randall Vhloche (played by Sean), geography major
  • Oliver Goss (played by Dave), anthropology major
These six, along with a handful of NPC students, are signed up for a field trip from Miskatonic University to Cobb's Corners, Vermont, to take place just before the start of the fall 1930 semester.  The students are divided up between folklore/anthropology students and geology/archaeology/hard sciences students, all under the direction of grad student Robert Blaine.  

Upon arriving in Cobb's Corners, they quickly learned some interesting tidbits:

  • Sheriff Spenser has no time nor patience for college students, believing them all to be fundamentally dishonest, drunkards, and miscreants.  Deputy Cutter, a very young man, however, is more easy-going.
  • the Maclearan farm house, where they're staying for the duration of their time in Cobb's Corners, is allegedly haunted by the ghost of Sarah Maclearan, the sister of Sheriff Spenser who died 20 years ago of tuberculosis.  Her husband, Jimmy, has become the town drunk from grief.  
  • the town newspaper is pure gossip and scandal-mongering.  
  • Jason Haggerty, the 14 year old son of the local diner owners, likes drawing creepy trees.  
After a night of sinister dreams, Rip and Darren got to talking and realized they had had the same dream.  Inspired by their nightmare visions of menacing trees, they decide to forgo school work and go try to find Jason in hopes the boy can provide some clues about the trees.  Blaine throws a conniption fit over the two of them abandoning their course of study for the day, but is helpless to stop them.  They fail to find him, but do talk to a group of children playing some sort of game involving dancing around in a circle and singing about who makes the sun come up and who makes the plants grow.  

Meanwhile, the other students in the folklore group walk the back roads of Cobb's Corners, talking to older locals about the folklore and legends of the region.  From one such individual, Old Man McGoggins, they learned of strange lights and sounds coming from the foothills of the Green Mountains, which he identified as evidence of a gateway to Hell.  He also warned them to stay away from the Maclearan farmhouse, as Sarah Maclearan was a "witch vampire" and would kill them from beyond the grave.  Tiring of this, and using Oliver as a distraction, Perry Webster snuck away from the group and returned to town, eager to interrogate Richard Wendell, the town newspaperman, over anything suspicious or unusual he might have seen, as well as to check his archives for information on the death of Boyd, his former roommate, who died on a previous expedition to Cobb's Corners.  

"Anything unusual, eh?" Wendell said with a chuckle, then closed the blinds, locked the door, and explained very seriously: "A couple weeks ago I was testing a new photographic emulsion, to try and take better photographs at night.  I saw...I'm not sure what, but I snapped a photo of it.  When I got back here, I put the camera under my desk and went to sleep, instead of developing it right away.  When I woke up, my dark room was in flames, everything inside smashed and ruined.  I managed to put the fire out but everything inside was destroyed.  If I had had the camera in there, this picture would have been lost; I can only assume this is what they were after - yes, I think it must have been arson.  And the strangest thing? Deputy Cutter came around to check on things - before I called the police."

He handed Perry a photograph.  It showed the full moon, shining brightly over the town, and a hazy silhouette of something with big, bat-like wings hovering in front of the moon.  


  1. Excellent stuff Bill, Wendell's prose grabbed me right from the start, and I really like your house rule that spending $10 on merchandise in the store earns players one opportunity to reroll a failed sanity check. Terrific idea.