Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tales of MaricopaCon 2013 II: Call of Cthulhu-Danger Roadwork Ahead

I had four players for this one.  Effectively drawn from the background material for the evening's game, it was also informed by two different games run by Caleb Stokes on RPPR's Actual Play feed, as well as one recorded for The Drunk and the Ugly.  I basically reverse engineered it, and ran it as an afternoon prequel of sorts to the evening scenario for Saturday, Lover in the Ice.

The basic synopsis of the scenario is this:  Counterculture author Ryan Whitehead and his college dropout, drug-addled friend (along with a translator/editor, and assorted other camp followers) travel to Brazil to investigate a traveling tent city following in the wake of the construction crew for the Trans-Amazonian Highway, discover a jungle parasite that reproduces in the most horrific way possible (turning their hosts temporarily into hormone-fueled horrors of sex and violence), and investigate what was going on, and then have to escape.

I ran this one as a playtest several weeks ago.  In that playthrough, two of the group survived, the others not so much.  One of the characters was infected.  However, the run through of the game revealed several problems with my scenario as written, and I made significant revisions to the endgame for the con.  These problems mostly revolved around a too quick reveal where the group stayed together.

Fortunately, this run of the scenario had none of those problems.  The group split up, and the reveal was more or less simultaneous for all involved.  One of the four player characters was infected by a seeder almost immediately, then spent the rest of her all too brief life trying desperately to hold herself together.  She wound up getting cut down by gunfire from soldiers of the Brazilian Army.

At the end of the scenario, the players are presented with an Alamo style situation.  The few surviving, non-infected civilians, the surviving soldiers who now occupy the camp, and the player characters are surrounded by enough of the young adult Amantes (the horror) that they are presented with a stark choice, stand and fight, or run away and try to get to safety.  If they choose the latter course, they have several directions they can flee in (though only two hold any real hope of salvation).  The three survivors chose to stand and fight.

Unfortunately, the stand and fight option is effectively a stand and fight and die option.  In this way, I effectively narrated the ending, a TPK, as the group was simply overwhelmed by the numbers of the Amantes.

We had a couple of seasoned Call of Cthulhu veterans in the game, along with one player whose only previous exposure to RPGs was D&D.  I'll talk more about her later.  The game went well, and was a huge success.

The game basically concluded about 15 minutes early, so I timed it perfectly.

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