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Thread for all things Masks!


Dethstrok9

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Welcome back, this is Dethstrok9, and I am VERY happy with my recent purchase of the Masks of Nyarlethotep campaign. I got the slipcase set off e-bay, and I want to know your opinions on the books and props. You should also ask and answer questions! Here's my slightly less than professional un-boxing video. Mine is more a reaction and love letter, if you want a video for a professional review along with unboxing, check out this one by RPG imaginings: 

Any pitfalls or errors I should be aware of?

Any great memories from playing the game (any edition of it)?

How did your players catch you off guard?

How did you Keepers run your new favorite campaign?

Did you think it was worth the price?

If you are reading this and don't own the amazing campaign, here's a link to where you can get the physical copy and PDF directly from The Chaosium: https://www.chaosium.com/masks-of-nyarlathotep-slipcase-set/ 

If you want to dive deeper, here's some links to the great prop sets made by the Lovecraft Historical Society: 140$ https://store.hplhs.org/products/masks-of-nyarlathotep-gamer-prop-set  920$ https://store.hplhs.org/products/masks-of-nyarlathotep-limited-edition-super-deluxe-dart-set (this one has some REALLY cool handmade items which make the box weigh nearly 30 lbs, along with an audio dramatization of the Masks story.

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Check Yourself! Best way is to listen to How We Roll Podcast. The original autor of this scenario @Scott Dorward run it for a bunch of Cthulhu known fans. You can find it on https://howwerollpodcast.com/001-masks-of-nyarlathotep-peru-pisco-sours/. I'm not a part of that game, only big admirer of how it went. But remember this is a pulp version of Masks. 

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13 hours ago, alter said:

Check Yourself! Best way is to listen to How We Roll Podcast. The original autor of this scenario @Scott Dorward run it for a bunch of Cthulhu known fans. You can find it on https://howwerollpodcast.com/001-masks-of-nyarlathotep-peru-pisco-sours/. I'm not a part of that game, only big admirer of how it went. But remember this is a pulp version of Masks. 

Thank you, I'll be sure to check it out! That was another question I had, should the game be run Pulp or Classic?

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8 hours ago, Dethstrok9 said:

Thank you, I'll be sure to check it out! That was another question I had, should the game be run Pulp or Classic?

I am running my Masks campaign using the pulp rules. I would also highly recommend going over the Peru chapter it is seriously wonky. Also note, you will need some kind of village lay out for puno, a museum and basement layout for Prof Senchez and the basement for Rizo. You will also need an island and house for Nyla since there is a major encounter there. I personally changed everything around, instead of the players meeting Larkin, I decided to have them meet senchez and Rizo through Jackson Elias. Thereby when Rizo encounters the Vampire thing in the basement the player are there to defeat it and this will set them on the path to confront Larkin.

Once Larkin is doubt with, the players will then be asked to trek to Puno, meet up with Nyla, have the talk, then trek to the Father of Maggots pyramid. I used TSR S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth for the layout underneath the Pyramid with puzzles and traps. The players are there to repair the seal with their half of the Gold Ward they received from Prof. Senchez. I would say before the Pyramid exploration, there are 4 encounters (1 at the museum with de mendoza, 2 at the hotel espana vs Larkin, 3 at the Island off Puno defending Nyla and 4 against a couple of vampire things on the staiers of the Pyramid.) 

If you run the adventure straight from the book, the players will want to shoot Elias for leading them by the nose and being up in their grill at every step. My way, I get rid of Elias back in Lima and the players discover everything on their own.

Well thats my take anyway on the first pre campaign adventure. too bad chasium does not have a forums totally dedicated to CoC.

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20 minutes ago, sgtscott658 said:

I am running my Masks campaign using the pulp rules. I would also highly recommend going over the Peru chapter it is seriously wonky. Also note, you will need some kind of village lay out for puno, a museum and basement layout for Prof Senchez and the basement for Rizo. You will also need an island and house for Nyla since there is a major encounter there. I personally changed everything around, instead of the players meeting Larkin, I decided to have them meet senchez and Rizo through Jackson Elias. Thereby when Rizo encounters the Vampire thing in the basement the player are there to defeat it and this will set them on the path to confront Larkin.

Once Larkin is doubt with, the players will then be asked to trek to Puno, meet up with Nyla, have the talk, then trek to the Father of Maggots pyramid. I used TSR S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth for the layout underneath the Pyramid with puzzles and traps. The players are there to repair the seal with their half of the Gold Ward they received from Prof. Senchez. I would say before the Pyramid exploration, there are 4 encounters (1 at the museum with de mendoza, 2 at the hotel espana vs Larkin, 3 at the Island off Puno defending Nyla and 4 against a couple of vampire things on the staiers of the Pyramid.) 

If you run the adventure straight from the book, the players will want to shoot Elias for leading them by the nose and being up in their grill at every step. My way, I get rid of Elias back in Lima and the players discover everything on their own.

Well thats my take anyway on the first pre campaign adventure. too bad chasium does not have a forums totally dedicated to CoC.

Thank you for the advice! I personally like the classic style of gameplay more than Pulp, but I'll look into what you say.

It's a little sad, but this sub forum has all a player or keeper will need! Plus a (mostly) grand community of people who help each other out!

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32 minutes ago, sgtscott658 said:

I am running my Masks campaign using the pulp rules. I would also highly recommend going over the Peru chapter it is seriously wonky. Also note, you will need some kind of village lay out for puno, a museum and basement layout for Prof Senchez and the basement for Rizo. You will also need an island and house for Nyla since there is a major encounter there. I personally changed everything around, instead of the players meeting Larkin, I decided to have them meet senchez and Rizo through Jackson Elias. Thereby when Rizo encounters the Vampire thing in the basement the player are there to defeat it and this will set them on the path to confront Larkin.

Once Larkin is doubt with, the players will then be asked to trek to Puno, meet up with Nyla, have the talk, then trek to the Father of Maggots pyramid. I used TSR S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth for the layout underneath the Pyramid with puzzles and traps. The players are there to repair the seal with their half of the Gold Ward they received from Prof. Senchez. I would say before the Pyramid exploration, there are 4 encounters (1 at the museum with de mendoza, 2 at the hotel espana vs Larkin, 3 at the Island off Puno defending Nyla and 4 against a couple of vampire things on the staiers of the Pyramid.) 

If you run the adventure straight from the book, the players will want to shoot Elias for leading them by the nose and being up in their grill at every step. My way, I get rid of Elias back in Lima and the players discover everything on their own.

Well thats my take anyway on the first pre campaign adventure. too bad chasium does not have a forums totally dedicated to CoC.

Also, welcome! I just noticed you just started posting, I hope you find usss a sssuportive community!

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Okay, so I'm reading through the America chapter and I must say it seems to be a bit all over the place. There are specifically so many NPCs, it seems as though it wuld be difficult for the Keeper to keep track, let alone the players. Was there any way you all coped with this, or am I the only one who feels this way? 

Some things I was considering was either paring down the NPCs to make the ones remaining more memorable, or simply asking the players to keep notes on names for their personal use.

Also, in answer to my previous question regarding the Peru chapter, it seems like it would be fun to run and play even if it's not completely necessary to do so, at least in my opinion:)

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I'm getting ready to start MoN soon and plan to start with Peru.  All the advice I've seen says it is vital to build some sort of emotional connection to Jackson Elias.  I know my players well enough that I'm confident I can get them to care about him (rather than annoy them).  Re: New York, I've got a couple players who have promised to take good notes.  I've also noted some of the key NPCs throughout the book to potentially use as "contacts" for PCs during Session Zero character creation to give them hooks into the game.  

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23 minutes ago, Desslok said:

I'm getting ready to start MoN soon and plan to start with Peru.  All the advice I've seen says it is vital to build some sort of emotional connection to Jackson Elias.  I know my players well enough that I'm confident I can get them to care about him (rather than annoy them).  Re: New York, I've got a couple players who have promised to take good notes.  I've also noted some of the key NPCs throughout the book to potentially use as "contacts" for PCs during Session Zero character creation to give them hooks into the game.  

Thank you, I just finished reading America, starting London.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/27/2020 at 1:14 PM, Dethstrok9 said:

One question I have from my limited reading so far is: Who has used the Peru chapter? Is it necessary? Does it work, did your players enjoy it?

I have run Masks three times in previous editions. (Only the third run made it to the final chapter, mind you.)

Semi-SPOILERS follow....

I think it is important to do SOMETHING to set up the players with Jackson Elias prior to New York. It makes the New York chapter and that one key scene vastly more meaningful and motivates the campaign. I brought him in with earlier adventures prior to running Masks as a friendly and lovable associate/NPS, and it was a Very Good Idea. I had players who went completely apeshit in the NY chapter as a result. They literally could not believe what had happened, when they realized he was a Masks NPC and they had been set up like that. Ah, good times.  😜

Edited by Thomas Phinney
clarification, and maybe this was suggested in the earlier editions?
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  • 2 weeks later...

Running MoN in 7th edition. Just finished playing through the America chapter and i'm reviewing the links to London, which is where the party is likely to go next. I've now realised that Jonah Kensington is given as the connection to The Scoop newspaper and to Inspector Barrington, yet there is no reference to that information in the New York chapter. It can be found in a previous edition, so I don't know why it was dropped from 7th edition.

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I ran through the Peru chapter. I found it worked fine, although players never do what you expect.

After the events at the university and finding the Golden Ward, the players didn't confront Larkin or Mendoza (i played it a bit differently so they never confronted Mendoza at the university but they worked out he was involved.) They just continued with the expedition as planned, so Larkin and Mendoza went with them the whole way to the pyramid.

This is where I forgot, and the scenario doesn't consider, the effects of the Golden Ward, which the players had with them. They're carrying this around with them. Does it effect Larkin and Mendoza? Or is it not strong enough, being only a broken part of the whole? Can they detect its presence?

By the time I remembered it they'd already travelled the three days to Puno and set out across the highlands. If Larkin and Mendoza were aware of the Ward, they would have tried to do something about it, particularly at Puno where they had back-up.

In my run-through the kharisiri weren't trying to kill Nayra, since the expedition was going ahead as planned. That link seemed tenuous to me: The bad guys trust Elias enough to let him join the expedition, but distrust him enough that they're trying to kill someone that he spoke to a few times. You might need to come up with a separate reason why they're trying to kill Nayra. An obvious possibility is that Nayra had long opposed the kharisiri, so they had always been trying to kill her. That's why Jackson went to see her. The bad guys aren't trying to kill her because jackson spoke with her; Jackson spoke with her because the bad guys are trying to kill her.

I also should have beefed up the opposition, particularly at the pyramid, as I'm playing Pulp Cthulhu. Ideally, the climax would be a race to complete the ward under the pyramid while being swarmed by kharisiri hell-bent on stopping them. Oh well, something for next time.

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12 hours ago, tendentious said:

I've now realised that Jonah Kensington is given as the connection to The Scoop newspaper and to Inspector Barrington, yet there is no reference to that information in the New York chapter.

It's easy to miss, but it's mentioned on page 107, in Jonah Kensington's NPC description (look at "Roleplaying hooks").

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1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

It's easy to miss, but it's mentioned on page 107, in Jonah Kensington's NPC description (look at "Roleplaying hooks").

Ah, so it is. Thanks for that.

It's a monster module, and there is a lot of information. And I'm a big fan and everyone involved in it's realisation has done a great job.

But...

Some of the editorial choices, like that one, are not conducive to ease of play. Or at least for me they are not. I would prefer that the information is located at the point of play where the information is likely to be provided. And i know that with a sandbox like this one that it won't occur in the same way for everyone. But as written, where Jonah is a character encountered at two locations (funeral and Prospero House), there's no reason why all relevant information can't be provided at those points. That way, even if the game goes in a completely unexpected direction - Jonah gets kidnapped by the cult for some reason and so the players acquire the info at Ju-Ju House when he's rescued - the information is in the place that you (or at least that I) would expect.

It was an issue I had with running the Peru chapter. When the players encounter Jackson for the first time at the restaurant, the information he provides is not all located at that point in the module. You have to track it down through his background and the Puno chapter.

Or in New York, my player's spoke with Hilton before they spoke with Millie. Much of the information that Hilton provides is not included in his section; you have to go back to Millie's section and separate the information that Hilton knows from the info that only Millie knows.

Masks if an adventure that does require a lot of preparation, and if you run it multiple times it would becomes easier as your familiarity with the content increases. And I wouldn't be running it if I didn't think it was great. And these are minor quibbles to do with, as i say, editorial choices. But a module is a game to be run, not a novel to be read.

Also - box text! Box text would be great! It might be in there somewhere, but again I could not find anything in the New York chapter in the Chelsea Hotel section that says anything about what was done to Jackson's body and the state in which the players find him (other than the symbol in the forehead, of course).

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27 minutes ago, tendentious said:

Some of the editorial choices, like that one, are not conducive to ease of play.

Well, let's just say that when I ran the campaign using the original version, it was also hard and I missed a few clues here and there, forcing me to reintroduce them clumsily through some other way, or, on one occasion, ret-con it. The new edition looks like a good improvement, but of course it's not perfect.

One good addition in the new version is the "Clue Diagrams" in each chapter. If you look at the "America Clue Diagram" on p102, you'll see that "Prospero House" points to "England". Of course, it doesn't tell you who in Prospero House points to who in the England chapter, but hey, at least you can see at a glance whether you're missing a whole connection to another chapter. They could have made the clue diagrams bigger with more details, but it might have ended up as a wall-sized conspiracy theorist's nightmare. Who knows... but hey, I feel you. It's a complicated campaign to run, and it's probably a complicated campaign to edit and revise. But it's worth it, and hopefully you're having fun!

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1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

Well, let's just say that when I ran the campaign using the original version, it was also hard and I missed a few clues here and there, forcing me to reintroduce them clumsily through some other way, or, on one occasion, ret-con it. The new edition looks like a good improvement, but of course it's not perfect.

One good addition in the new version is the "Clue Diagrams" in each chapter. If you look at the "America Clue Diagram" on p102, you'll see that "Prospero House" points to "England". Of course, it doesn't tell you who in Prospero House points to who in the England chapter, but hey, at least you can see at a glance whether you're missing a whole connection to another chapter. They could have made the clue diagrams bigger with more details, but it might have ended up as a wall-sized conspiracy theorist's nightmare. Who knows... but hey, I feel you. It's a complicated campaign to run, and it's probably a complicated campaign to edit and revise. But it's worth it, and hopefully you're having fun!

Exactly. I was reviewing the England chapter and noted that the link to The Scoop and to Barrington is Jonah. The clue diagram indicated the same thing. It just didn't occur to me to look at the Dramatis Personae instead of the Prospero House or funeral sections. That Dramatis Personae section seems like it should contain information useful to roleplaying and description. Leads and story information seems more at home in the actual scenario.

I figure the characters can have a farewell dinner in New York with a few of the NPCs with a vested interest in the investigation: Jonah, Carlton Ramsey, Lt. Poole. Jonah can tell them about Malone and Barrington over the coffee and cheese.

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I ran Masks of Nyarlathotep some years ago (5th edition). Few remarks, in no particular order:

  • I resorted to Secrets of NY, The London Guidebook and especially Terror Australis (my Masks of Nyarlathotep version was one-book at this time...). They were very helpful to give specific atmospheres at each chapter, and to improvise according to my players' actions. In the end, it helped me to avoid giving my players' the feeling the be too much railroaded (that's the main problem, in my opinion, with several CoC campaigns). I also crossed the campaign narration with personal matters and secondary stories.
  • Also to avoid too much railroading, I allowed many improvisations to give as much free will as I could to my players. I must say they were well-implicated in the campaign and never over-reacted.
  • Implication: I introduced Jackson Elias before the campaign. He was a regular contact of the characters, and participated a few everyday situations from time to time. So when I really began the Masks, there was no implication problem. My players asked for revenge!!!
  • NY: beware of the rescue stairs in the first scene! Be accomodating with check failures! Or it could make your players disgusted with CoC (especially if they are beginners).
  • Peru: didn't have it at the time, so I can't judge it. But I think the campaign is enough dense without it, especially if you choose to manage place for improvisation as I did...
  • Pulp or Classic? I ran it with the classic rules. I think it depends on the atmosphere you're willing to give to your campaign. If you want pure horror, then go classic! I had many casualties in all my CoC campaigns (Orient-Express, Realm of Shadows, Mountains of Madness, Masks of Nyarlathotep...), but this is what Call of Cthulhu is about! The players have (want!!!!) to feel shivers. What is better than a character's death? Or a crippled character? Or insane, or course?... This said, I think you musn't abuse and I always tried to keep them alive - prefered to cripple or alienate them... If you choose to play with the classic rules, you can anyway cheat rolling behind your screen (yes, I do, and always to save a character...)...
  • When I tried to run the Masks a second time, I had a total party kill at the ceremony in Egypt. This time, several players made very bad choices, so I rolled my dice in front of them, which I am not used to. In any roleplay game, that's a good way to tell them "this time, it's between you and the dice"... Good shivers, too.
  • Keeper's screen: I use several screens, for atmosphere. At the beginning, when everything seems "normal", I take the french 6th edition screen (investigators with a car looking at a lake). And when everythin goes wrong, I'm changing for Caza's screen. And then the Masks' french special screen of Sans-Détour when penetrating in Kenya, and so forth... It's also the occasion for me to dust all my screens in their bookcases!!! I think this new edition screen could be used as "general" screen after the first Mythos appearance in the campaign.
  • My campaign lasted a long time - about two years gaming, I think (improvisations, you know...). But it was a wonderful gaming time. Today, of course, I would run some details differently, but for the main part, I would keep it exactly as it was.
  • This wasn't the most difficult CoC campaign I personnaly had to run. The Mountains of Madness was much more a challenge for me, with the same gamemastering choices. Wonderful gaming time, also, but many shivers for the keeper as much as for the players...
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Hi everyone. Currently, running Masks and one of my players would like to go really deep into occult and mythos things at the end of the London chapter and he asked me about interesting favor. Is it possible, somehow, to cover his body with tattoos (occult or mythos) and get magical protection? Is there any guide about it? I'm trying to stick to the rules to keep things balanced and it's not a problem to home-rule this feature but if there exists any solution I would be glad to use it. Could you please guide me where I can look for the info?

P.S. of course, there are some artifacts and spells, but he wants tattoos on top of it. I just don't want to give him it for free )

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3 hours ago, Pseudodog said:

Hi everyone. Currently, running Masks and one of my players would like to go really deep into occult and mythos things at the end of the London chapter and he asked me about interesting favor. Is it possible, somehow, to cover his body with tattoos (occult or mythos) and get magical protection? Is there any guide about it? I'm trying to stick to the rules to keep things balanced and it's not a problem to home-rule this feature but if there exists any solution I would be glad to use it. Could you please guide me where I can look for the info?

P.S. of course, there are some artifacts and spells, but he wants tattoos on top of it. I just don't want to give him it for free )

 As far as I know, there are no rules for this, but it's a really cool idea!

 Personally, I would make it so that he has the tattoos carved into his body all over (1d4 damage, plus any disadvantage to Interpersonal skills the keeper desires as the character now could be considered deformed). Next, I would say he now has 1d4 points of armor (so each time they get hit, roll 1d4 to see how much damage is reflected), however, the pain nd suffering is not blocked completely, but instead is channeled to the mind. For each 2 pints of damage reflected they take 1 pint of sanity damage (round up). 

 I might actually use this idea in my games in the future, very creative. This is just how I would go about it, you could always homebrew however best works for your party. You could also increase the damage reflection indefinitely as the damage is really still taken as SAN damage.

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15 hours ago, Pseudodog said:

Hi everyone. Currently, running Masks and one of my players would like to go really deep into occult and mythos things at the end of the London chapter and he asked me about interesting favor. Is it possible, somehow, to cover his body with tattoos (occult or mythos) and get magical protection? Is there any guide about it? I'm trying to stick to the rules to keep things balanced and it's not a problem to home-rule this feature but if there exists any solution I would be glad to use it. Could you please guide me where I can look for the info?

P.S. of course, there are some artifacts and spells, but he wants tattoos on top of it. I just don't want to give him it for free )

I would adapt an existing fitting spell. But: all social scores should be lowered in one way or another (especially if he has tattoos on his face): APP, Credit, and so forth. If the tattoos can't be seen in everyday situation, then maybe let your player keep his scores intact; but apply relevant malus when the tattoos are visible. In anyway, I would apply some lost to APP, Charisma... even if they can't be seen, like if people felt something's wrong...

And of course, SAN loss would be heavier than the original spell.

You can also organise the tattoo scene: who is tattooing the character? who is performing the ritual?  Of course, the tattooing is a component of the spell, so they have to be simultaneous. The character can't tattoo himself. Is he able to find someone who can perform the ritual and the tattooing? Or maybe the spell impose that the "tattoo recipient" is the one who must perform the ritual (incantations, singing...), and then a few checks would be required to do things well despite the tattooing pain. If you are vicious, maybe the spell has some body language components...? Main part, in my opinion, is finding the tattooer who would accept to tattoo during a ritual.

EDIT: and when the magical protection is effective, what about the entities who are able to notice magical auras? Maybe there would be a target aura on the character. But as a GM, I wouldn't abuse of such situations, only if it would favor a particular scene.

Edited by Loïc
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