Dark Rivals (RonCon Spring 2016)
From the Dead Reckonings Sourcebook (converted to CoC 7e)
Pre-Game Read and Prep
I am planning on running this on Dark Rivals for one of my game day events, RonCon. I picked it relatively randomly although I like the “caught in the middle of a Livecraftian War” aspect to it. However, I do have a few problems with it and I am not sure how I am going to fix it. In fact, I doubt there is a fix, at least short of a complete re-write.
The intro is pretty good but it’s the key points in the plot that move them along to the next scene that bother me. It’s more railroading then character’s uncovering anything. THe format is like this…
INTRO and INITIAL INVESTIGATION
They get a few clues but nothing conclusive and nothing that can lead to something they don’t already have. The only things they can pursue through out the entire adventure on their own are the initial leads. The important part of the investigation is that they are seen by agents of one or both factions.
A note left behind by an NPC leads then to contact with one of the factions. Key parts of the plot are revealed but nothing is actionable. THey are only left to continue to investigate original leads.
Another note leads them to another meeting with the same faction only to find a new surprise from the other. Combat ensues, and perhaps enough can be concluded that the identity of the other faction is somewhat known.
Another note found at the last scene leads to the final encounter.
Nothing the characters actually do lead them to the the conclusion. Only actions by NPCs and the players being in the right place. I have to add more clues, evidence and information for the players to feel like they are figuring this out on their own.
The other thing is how to avoid meta-gaming. For those too familiar with the Lovecraftian world will immediately know the ghoul aspect of this adventure, and I would prefer to obfuscate it. There are means to do that but I think I still will have one player who will figure it out pretty quick. On top of that, witches are not that hard to figure out either in a Lovecraftian world.
An option that could be used is change the ghouls to something else? But what? What other subterranean or animalistic creature could be living in Arkham that they witches (or another faction) would want to eliminate. And when you change it, how do you relate back the victim and his plan. That’s a considerable re-write.
Post Game Report
The game definitely did not go the route I expected and it was partially my doing. It was very fun but most agreed in the end that it needed more for the players to figure out or investigate rather than just have the whole plot be driven by the notes. I left a few clues that not only obfuscated a few things but also gave the players a feeling that they were figuring things out.
- I added a familiar creature, like the rat-thing in the story, The Dreams in the Witch House. I also added hidden witch writing in various places, referring to it as mysterious runes or writings. For example, under the metal gurney, the deceased left a specific rune that the players determined was “death” in blood. Of course, it was a reference to the ghouls but they had to figure it out.
- Spotting a car following them was not enough for me. At one point, those players from out of town found their hotel room broke into and only the hair from their hair brush taken. Little did they know that the witches were using their mojo to track the players.
- The Byahkee was a little too under powered, so I threw in a few more.
- Some of the party were from Arkham so it made things a little easier to tie them into the plot as well as some of the NPCs. With little to know background provided for the witches/cultists, I felt it was appropriate to retro-fit one as an acquaintance of one of the players. Tying the local characters to the p0lot a little more helped invest the players. I probably could have done more but I did not think of it. Perhaps one of them knew the deceased and was concerned about what he was getting into. That might have made things even more interesting.
- As the players investigated each lead, I had something creepy or intriguing happen along the way. With the witches/cultists following as well as the ghouls, there was plenty of opportunity to do this.
In the end, the adventure took over 5 hours and all seemed to have fun. Not my most favorite adventure to run but I could see myself running it again.