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  1. I was a young enlisted man serving in the US Army in Germany when the Twilight: 2000 game came out way back when rocks were still soft and fire was this new hippie thing that would never catch on. The game became instantly popular in the barracks for several reasons, but the main one was that we had all the toys immediately to hand or knew somebody we could ask about them. I mean, our wall lockers had our helmets, web gear, and 'go' bags on top of them. The motor pool was full of M1 tanks, a Bradley IFV or two, and other bit of military mayhem machines. But this was also the age Rambo and Chuck Norris movies. At every table there was that 'one guy' whose characters always carried an SMG, a M16 /203 [an M16 with a 40mm grenade launcher under the barrel] AND a sniper rifle and believed down to the bottom of his soul that could wear a flack vest, a full rucksack, and every piece of ironmongery he owned and STILL jump through a window, execute a combat roll, and come up ready to fire an 'aimed shot'. After awhile it got to be a real pain in the ass to argue with guys like this every week. Then the GM [my buddy Russ] came up with a solution that was not only elegant, but freaking hysterical as well.... He instituted the Get Your Shit On Rule, or GYSOR. If Joe Knucklehead wanted his character to do some seriously Dolph Lundgren type ninja-hero shit, he would be challenged to Get His Shit On. This meant that he had to go to his wall locker and put on his helmet, flack vest, and his 'go' bag rucksack and do something physically challenging. Examples included jumping over a chair without tripping and falling, or running up and down the barracks stairs 3 times and then writing his General Orders legibly, or something similar. If Joe Knucklehead successfully completed said maneuver, then the Uncaring Buddha of War smiled upon Joe's character and whatever idiotic stunt Joe previously described was executed to perfection. If Joe failed in the task, his stupid idea failed... spectacularly. The only single guarantee was that the character wouldn't out-and-out die. I hope you all enjoyed my little trip [pun intended] down memory lane, and I highly recommend such a rule when you have such a person at the table.
  2. In many games with modern-ish settings a great many players choose to generate characters with military backgrounds, especially ground military backgrounds that give access to high-end weaponry skills. This can sometimes be a problem when there's a veteran or 'gun nut' at the table [and depending on personalities it can orders of magnitudes worse those are combined in the same person]. The constant litany of "Grunts don't think /act /do that way!" gets pretty annoying after the 731st rendering and derailing the game for the sake of gun or military minutiae is boring as all get out for everybody else at the table. As a lifelong gamer and US Army veteran, I thought I would address this problem by writing an article that gives a civilian some tips on How To Think Grunt. I had input from Commonwealth and German veterans and am very well aware of how much service life has changed between now and when I got out of the military, so I have done my level best to make this article generic, short, and as anecdote-free as possible. I sincerely hope that you folks enjoy the article and it will prove to be of some use at your table. Military Life In Games Final.pdf
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  5. Good Evening, I thought that it would be fun to post a brief recap of two recent game play sessions of a slightly modified "The Haunting" scenario that I've been running with some friends and family over Discord. I would love feedback on anything you though could use improvement! SPOILERS AHEAD - if you have not played "The Haunting" and don't want to learn any of the details, please do not read on. Scenario Modified version of "The Haunting" for the modern setting Players All new to Call of Cthulhu Dexter Silverfish - Drug Dealer Ursula Rex - Construction Worker Gerald Williams - Astronomer Edward Francisco Cunningham - Indie Filmmaker Preparation Starting off, I knew that I would have one in-person session before heading back to the east coast and decided to make a few props and use some that can be found online. I started with newspaper clippings and journal entries for the 1920's version of the scenario that can be found online and changed a few minor phrasing bits to be more vague. I also changed the spell that can be learned from the journal to be one of bodily preservation that has since been used by Corbitt. I went on to use an orange herbal tea to age the journal pages and looked into expanding the world of "The Haunting". Having played through the scenario myself and DMing it a few times already, I knew that not everyone is going to find the link between Corbitt's house and the Church of Contemplation, a connection that I absolutely wanted the players to make to drive the story forward. I settled on making a tunnel system that runs from the Corbitt House (the raised stone platform a covering for said tunnel) to a hub of sorts, one tributary of which leads to the church. I also knew that I didn't want Corbitt to be wholly physical and decided that he should be a dark mist when animated with 1 magic point and require a second to gain physicality or interact with his environment meaningfully. In order to regain magic, he must resume his helpless corpse form. He is able to act through the knife when near it. The knife's usefulness is going to be seen in session three (hopefully), but it will not be a tool used in the destruction of Corbitt. Most of the players are going to be new to role playing games overall, so I decided to set it on a "ghost town" type neighborhood on the outskirts of Arkham that I called Haverwood. This means that shooting a gun off doesn't mean police will necessarily come running and that the style of buildings used in the 1920's version can be carried over to this version without too much of a headache. I felt pretty prepared for the first few sessions, but wasn't certain how much content the players would get through and started with this and figured that I could fall back on some details from an old short story if they investigated the tunnel system before I got around to fleshing out some of the terminal locations. Session One The first session was a fun chance to explore the various characters. Two players decided to make their characters with random professions and random ages, leading to an elderly astronomer and a twenty-something Spackle-er (construction worker). One of the other characters made someone based loosely on himself when he was in college (indie film maker) and the final one decided to be a middle aged drug dealer. After a few minutes of tying everyone into the scenario, I told everyone how they were either friends, a supposed friend, or the grandfather of a one Frank Williams. The grandfather and astronomer (Gerald Williams) had filed a police report regarding the disappearance of Frank Williams a few days ago, but the police had told him there weren't any leads to follow at this time. He (Gerald) gathered together the people his grandson spent the most time with and together they decided to investigate his residence for clues. Frank was a writer who had come into severe writer's block recently. He moved to a long-dead neighborhood to focus on his work, his house showing only minor renovations and appearing relatively precarious. The players spent three or four hours exploring the house. Despite starting off with Gerald calling out to Frank repeatedly through that time as though he had forgotten of his previous calls, the ground floor exploration went without hitch. There was a room full of rusted and dusty things such as an old bicycle, a few bins of rotted wood that might once have been furniture, a cabinet that seemed oddly new and was boarded shut, and an old, box-style radio. The living room is a new-style living room with a couch that couldn't have been more than a few years old, a flatscreen tv, and a coffee table with a series of magazines underneath. The dining room is where things start to be disconcerting. There are two settings of food left to spoil on the table and a decently large metal cross next to the exterior window. Looking back in the previous room, there was one there as well. That player charged to the last room on the right and found that there was no cross hanging from the wall of the kitchen, but there was a pile of decomposing potato peels and unwashed dishes in the sink. The fridge has long since lost power and all that was contained inside has spoiled. Asking the other players if they had noticed the crosses on the walls, one spots a cross in the kitchen that has fallen into the potted plants by the window. The remaining space of the ground floor contains only a bathroom that has been remodeled slightly aside from the mirror and a mudroom with a pair of dirty, mud-ridden galoshes, several coats, and an unreasonable number of brand-new locks holding the door closed. While the drug dealer fished around the coat pockets for anything interesting (which was not there, but I wish I had thought of something for the coat pockets), most of the group heard a sound from upstairs as of a door creaking either open or shut. The cautiously ascended the staircase and began to explore by sending one or two people into a room while the rest kept watch in the hall in case that sound had been a squatter. In the first room, they found a small bathroom. The indie filmmaker was the only one to explore it, and when he looked into the tub to see if there was anyone hiding there. Instead, he found a moldering, rotting pool of what might have been swamp water if it weren't for the eye which bubbled to the surface and looked him in the eye before sinking below the surface again. He looked away briefly to pull out his go-pro, but the sight was gone. He kept it out from that point on. They looked into the second room, shining their flashlights about. They noted some tools for gardening or construction in one corner, a box of clothes that looked new, and a drip of something dark from the ceiling. Upon closer investigation, they found a pool of blood gathered in the ceiling and floor. The go pro was left to keep an eye on that while they continued on. The drug dealer went into the third room only to find another bedroom. This one contained nothing more than an aged bed frame and mattress against one wall and a balcony overlooking the portion of the house without any roof extending below. When Silverfish (the drug dealer) went to see if there were any signs of life to be seen from the balcony, he felt a hard shove from behind and went spinning off the ledge. The last action he wanted to take as he went over the railing was to empty three rounds into the bed that he now saw had pushed him over in the hopes of hitting whatever was moving it on the other side. His compatriots raced into the room at the sound of gunfire and shattering glass only to find a bed resting next to a broken window and their friend softly swearing below. Conversation ensued and the Spackler (Ursula) went downstairs and outside to tend to his wounds. I pervasive low-lying fog had started to gather when Silverfish first fell, and they thought it best to patch him up inside. Gerald pulled a Werthers out of his jacket and ate it. Investigations continued with the filmmaker (Edward) and Silverfish wanting to see what had made the pool of blood by looking into the attic while Gerald and Ursula wanted to see what was in the last room on the upper floor (presumably the one being used by Frank). Edward and Silverfish found several boxes of antiques, pictures, clothing, and even some tableware. Fishing through the pictures, they found one of the house they were currently residing withing dated to 1835 (I think) which called it the Webber Estate. Ursula and Gerald found that Frank had either been a crossdresser or living with a woman after looking through his drawer and scooped up some writings they found next to his typewriter for later reading. Those two then proceeded back downstairs to the locked cabinet and gave it a tug with some construction tools from Ursula's van (their method of transportation). Inside were some very, very old journals labeled by nothing more than the name Corbitt. They read the first one while the other two, Edward and Silverfish, headed to the other side of the house, the basement. A few floorboards rotted to the point of no longer supporting weight nearly took out Edward, but they made it down without too much hassle. He (Edward) had recovered his go pro on the way down. They looked through the basement which had a few boxes of children's toys that looked like they hadn't been used for almost a century, some rotten planks of wood, some screws, a whole bench of tools, the fusebox, and some cork board where rot had settled in enough to break away small chunks of it. Upon closer inspection and with the electricity back up and running, Silverfish realized that there was a small space behind the wall and took to it with a sledge hammer from the upstairs bedroom. A few strikes later and they could see that there was a small, square crawlspace that led to what might be a larger room. When he went to relay the information to his companion, Silverfish spotted a large, silver knife flying through the air towards them. He pushed Edward away and dove to the side. Gathering himself again, he leaped at the thing which now hovered just off the ground and wrestled it to his knife belt where lay his other two knives. Edward climbed into the hole and found himself in a small box of a room, just tall enough for him to stand at full height and fully sided by cement. In the center was a raised stone cylinder with a form on it and, off to one corner, was a table with the a symbol (found in The Haunting scenario) alongside a series of strange runic drawings. He heard a strange sound almost as of the shuffling of a deck of cards and turned around to see a figure collecting itself from the robe on the ground and bringing up it's clawed hand in an arc at him. He dodged to one side and called out to Silverfish who shot down the tunnel several times, breaking off hard chunks of flesh that dissolved to smoke as they fell from the form. He crawled through the tunnel in desperation, but Silverfish's mind went blank as a tingling sensation spread from the knife on his belt into his spine and through his brain. Three shots went off and Edward was lucky enough to only get a shoulder wound. During this, the other group had finished reading and began to wander outside behind the house before the ringing of gunshots called them back inside. The group collected their thoughts and decided it was best to leave and look into the construction of the house. It took them a few minutes to force the door open as it was seemingly stuck in place through non-mechanical means, but they did eventually retreat from the house to a hospital so that the wounds of the filmmaker and the drug dealer could be looked into. The astronomer and construction worker filed a police report for the shooting, but did not show the police the recording from the go pro as the group itself didn't even know what to make of the strange happenings. The session closed with everyone spending the night at Gerald's house and most people at least slightly afraid of Dexter Silverfish. Session Two This was the session where I wanted to start diverging from the base scenario since I thought my brother who has played the scenario before would be joining in. He ended up being pretty busy and will likely join the next one. They wanted to do some investigating before going back to that house this time. They had only brought one of the Corbitt journals out with them, but that gave them some solid leads. The group headed out to a local library and searched through microfiche of old newspapers around the time period. They dug up a series of articles which implicated the city council of that era as belonging to a church in which Corbitt was prominent. The investigations into that time period and era took the players maybe an hour in total and spanned the library, city hall, and a local historical society that has a collection of journals from people of the area through history. After finishing up research they decided to look into the church and see if it was still around. It appeared as though it had, at some point, been re-purposed as a catholic church. Further inspection led to the floor giving way and Ursula grabbing her climbing gear out of the van to explore the lower levels that they hadn't seen an entrance to. Inside they found everything you normally would in the base scenario, except there was another stone cylinder raised out of the floor here just as the one in Corbitt's house. This one was cracked down the middle from the fire and there was clearly a space underneath. They dragged it to one side and exposed a tunnel running in the direction of Corbitt's house (although nobody passed a successful navigation check so I didn't tell them as much yet). The space was wide enough only for one person at a time and their voices and footsteps echoed off the walls in the distance back at them distorted and seemingly not their own. Eventually they came to a large, mostly circular room with an alter in the middle and stone pews surrounding it; openings were cut into the walls at semi-regular intervals, around 7 or 8 in total. The group marked their entrance and exited the tunnel most closely on the opposite side. after a much shorter time, they found the tunnel's end and pushed their way into the small cement square that was where they had found the figure just last night, but this time only the knife remained on the floor. They all ran up the stairs, careful to avoid the missing step, and grabbed the journals they had left behind previously. Deciding the tunnel was a little too spooky for their taste, they decided to head back to the church over land and give Silverfish a good spook as he had stayed behind to read through some books they had found in the church basement. Realizing their sudden hunger, everyone headed to the nearest iHop and talked about what they had seen, steps forward, and their guesses as to the meaning of the strange texts. This session was slightly Going Forward I plan on having one branch of the tunnels lead to a dungeon type area where the players would find a series of cages, possibly with skeletons or even live people in them, one branch is going to be a "resting place" for member of the church who have prolonged their life through the sacrifice or consumption of human life, and one will lead to a "trash" room with a pile of bone and rotten flesh. I haven't decided on where several of the tunnels should lead, but I do want the spirit that inhabits Corbitt's body to be able to traverse the tunnels in his mist form. I haven't thought of a great way for the players to deal with him yet, but I could still make the spell that the journal teaches them play some part in it. It could also have to do with a ritual room that is at the end of one of the tunnels that has strange diagrams on all of the walls which can't be removed by ordinary means. I haven't decided what I want to have had happen to Frank. I don't think he's going to be alive, but I'm torn between him having joined the others in their extended life through the sacrifice of his girlfriend and some other, more gruesome, fate at the hands of something that lives under the earth. TL;DR - I played games, they were fun!
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  16. Chances are that if you have ever run Call of Cthulhu games set in the modern-day era, you will have bought a copy of Chaosium's excellent scenario anthology "The Stars Are Right!" First published in 1992, then again in a second edition in 2004, the book is Chaosium's only collection of contemporary scenarios published to date. It's writing team boasts some of the best names from 1990s era Call of Cthulhu (including Richard Watts, Kevin Ross, John Scott Tynes, and Gary Sumpter -- just to name a few). While the scenarios in "The Stars Are Right!" are generally well-written and tackle a bunch of modern-day horror themes, there's no denying that the fact that most of the scenarios are now 25 years old does lead to a few anachronisms. Most of these relate to the ways that technology -- in particular information and communication technology -- has changed over the past few decades. Fortunately, game scenarios being somewhat fluid things, the majority of the anachronisms can be easily fixed with a combination of small plot tweaks and conversions of old information sources from older to newer formats (e.g., printed newspaper clipping to online news article). To make this process of "modernising" the scenarios from "The Stars Are Right!" easier, Cthulhu Reborn have created a free PDF "upgrade pack" (which also updates the scenario's stats up to 7th Edition). This is available right now for download direct from our site. The upgrade pack contains Keeper resources which fall into three categories: New versions of each of the scenario handouts, converted to more "modern" forms and rendered in full prop-quality detail. For some scenarios we've also created new handouts (things that are alluded to in the scenario, but never explicitly provided as handouts) Some brief notes on ideas for tweaking plot elements in the scenarios to make them feel more "contemporary" -- mostly these are slight, but one of the scenarios (Steve Hatherley's intriguing "Fractal Gods") has some deeply embedded anachronistic elements that warrant some more significant rewriting [sorry Steve] Updated statistic blocks and skill roll descriptions, which bring the scenarios up to 7th Edition compatibility The montage below shows just a few of the 48 handouts that are included in the pack: We hope that fans of modern-day Call of Cthulhu will consider using these revised handouts and resources to revitalise the scenarios in "The Stars Are Right!" and terrorise their players anew. And if you *don't* currently own a copy of "The Stars Are Right!" the good news is that Chaosium still has print copies (and PDFs) of the 2nd Edition for sale on their website. [Legal Note: The Stars Are Right! Upgrade Pack is released under a Creative Commons license, and complies with the terms of Chaosium's policies on "fan material" which must always remain free of charge. The pack is not a standalone product, and will not be helpful unless you already own one of the two editions of the Chaosium book. Call of Cthulhu is a trademark of Chaosium Inc.] Thanks, Dean (from Adelaide)
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