On Saturday I have started making plans for New Year’s Eve. Like in the years before a few friends will come over, we will have good food and do some roleplaying. This year we decided that I should run Call of Cthulhu. Some time ago I had some ideas for creating my own CoC campaign set into the Cold War era, but this would definitely beyond the scope of a one-shot New Year’s Eve game.
That’s why I am asking for your help. What is your favorite Call of Cthulhu adventure and – more importantly – why? Can it be run in a single session? Is it still available for purchase and if so where? Especially a lot of the older Chaosium titles have been out of print for quite a while. If the adventure in question is available at RPGNow it would be a big plus.
By the way, are the Age of Cthulhu adventures by Goodman Games any good?
All time favorite one-shot is “in media res” from an unspeakable oath (guess #13) – gritty, bloody-gory, roleplay heavy and definitely not usable for campaign play. But not for the faint-hearted!
Second is a nice one from the old Cthulhu days, I THINK from Triad, but I have to search at home in my library for the name of it. Players HAVE to do the stuff, they don’t want to be done by cultists normally …
Age of Cthulhu – we play the first (Luxor) right now – a lot fun due to the group, adventure itself is mediocre, but easy expandable. Group is to be “beaten to the plot”, handouts/maps are sub-standard, you have to put a LOT work in the historical part, because the players are going to ask about it and the information is not in the module.
My favorite one-shot is “Dead Man Stomp” – I think it’s a starter adventure in at last some editions of the rulebook. It’s got some great “wow – this is baad” moments and is pretty linear – which is good for one-shots. It also not very pulpy (no tentacles or cultists to bash) which I like.
Another excellent one is “Convergence” from the Unspeakable Oath, the starting point for the whole Delta Green series. Putting the players into the shoes of FBI investigators really brings on that X-Files feeling, with a dash of true horror. It might be a little long for one evening though.
One of my favorites is “Music From A Darkened Room.” It is set in modern day, but could probably be modified for an earlier time period. It is sufficiently creepy, and has an impressive amount of depth for the players to discover. Best of all, you can get this adventure free from the creator’s site: http://www.arcdream.com/dennis/Music%20From%20a%20Darkened%20Room.pdf
“Dead Man’s Stomp” is a pretty good adventure for a one-shot. The players are never really in control and spend most of the adventure reacting to a situation that spirals from bad to worse. You can find it as part of the example adventures in the 5th edition core book.
I’d have to say The Haunting, though mostly because I’ve run it so many times and seen groups do so many different things.
The best part was when a new player made a character with the same last name as the villain, which I’d forgotten as it had been a year or more, and they almost lynched him on the spot.
I’ve heard very good things from a few folks about “Final Flight” by Pagan Publishing. It’s apparently a ’20s era adventure in which the PCs are passengers aboard Flight 101 which crash-lands in the jungles of South America.
I’m not sure if it’s available in PDF format but the hard-copy book seems to be readily available from various e-retailers (Amazon, eBay, Pagan’s website) for $9.95 plus a couple dollars shipping. If you do end up running it, please report back on your results. It has apparently gone over quite well with many Cthulhu enthusiasts that I know.
5 – The Edge of Darkness (Cthulhu Rulebook)
4 – The Fog of War – part 1 (No man´s Land)
3 – Behold the Mother (Dead Reckoning)
2 – The Eyes of a Stranger (Sacraments of Evil)
and my favorite:
1 – Bad Moon Rising (The Great Old Ones)
I have to add my vote to those recommending Dead Man’s Stomp – especially if you are looking for an evening’s entertainment, and your players have little to no experience with the game. It’s a classic. The Haunting is a close second.
I have purchased all of Goodman Games’ Age of Cthulhu scenarios and find them to be well worth the cost. The commitment to pinning the scenarios to real life elements of the period, providing excellent handouts, and keeping things to a manageable scale and size are high points for me. Of those released to date, I am most partial to #4 Horrors from Yuggoth. It’s not for the faint of heart, requires intelligence, and combines very mundane threats like vehicle crashes and the weather, with extraterrestrial horrors we would definitely prefer to not discover. Good stuff – sadly, for you: probably not suitable for a one-shot, unless it is a very long session.
Mansions of Madness! Especially The Sanatorium and The Plantation. The Sanatorium was my first played CoC scenario back in 1995, and of course there’s some nostalgic memory attached to it, but nevertheless, Mansions of Madness in general is great. Really, really great.