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Some Ideas on How to Start a Lovecraftian Adventure in Call or Trail of Cthulhu

Fábio Silva

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I chated with some folks who read the blog and we talk a lot about how we started our adventures and how important it is to tie and motivative the Investigators at the beginning of a scenario or campaign. I thought I deserved to post the ideas in the blog.

How do you do? Lovecraft-style, throwing investigators into a whirlwind of strangeness, or in other ways?


An analog guy

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I typically start with something curious but seemingly mundane and then let the players peel away the layers like a onion.


For example:

  • An investigator get contacted by an old colleague,  relative, or some such who wants to meet with the investigator about something, but won't say what over the phone. 
  • Aforementioned contact dies suddenly. Probably by accident, or maybe by heart attack.
  • A few days later the investigator gets a package in the mail from the deceased with some vague clues about someone, ramblings that the contact was in fear of thier live, and a warning to the investigator.

At this point the investigators can start investigating (if not someone will come looking for the package), whih can real some sort of cult and more strange goings on someplace.




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Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Indiana Jones movies are kindof the way a Cthulhu adventure should be IMO - lots of hints, something is going on, but the scary supernatural stuff doesn't manifest until the very end. Stephen King is a master of that kind of story, the world is normal except one little aspect of the world is twisted out of place - like someone stumbling across a strange lump of metal buried in the woods on their rural property, and deciding its interesting enough to try to dig it up (The Tommyknockers). Turns out its not just an old tractor or car.

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If we are writing a one-time scenario,  we start the action with something drastic; either of the posters above are good examples.

If we are starting a campaign of linked scenarios, we might start with a slower pace--in the Roman campaign I ran, a Non-Player Character patron invites the player characters to a dinner to see if they might be of use to him.  He has a very simple problem, he has to locate a missing individual he wishes to prosecute.  (Because, Ancient Rome, honest motives don't enter into it).  They find the individual in question with  a severe case of death, having been sacrificed on a cultist altar installed by his young-ish wife in a room of his own house.  The young wife and the victim's son by the first marriage  have disappeared.  This could be a simple case of elopement or it could be something more nefarious.

And so we start.

The beauty of a grouping such as this is that as characters are lost through one way or another, we can always stage another dinner party or meeting, or have the patron send a letter of introduction if they are in the field, and introduce the next character of the player, without having to resort to "The player character's sister's-friend's-cousin's-aunt's-poodle's-veterinarian's-chiropodist's-former teacher has fallen and the next character steps into play to take up the banner of the fallen.


Edited by wombat1
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