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Well - two more sessions down and we've tackled The Edge Of Darkness (the old classic, as included in the new Starter Set).

My three investigators fleshed out the backstories before we before this one began.  We learned a bit more who Luke Chan (widowed), Rupert Knuckles (cook) and Heath (socialite) were.  Again my players through themselves into this really well.  Some gentle nudging of questions ("Who's back home?"  "Are you married?"  "Who do you care about?") and they were becoming more human characters that emerged.

Into the scenario itself - the three investigators were asked to help an old friend, on his deathbed.  As written the scenario has a few 'plot hooks' (or red herrings) that could provide springboards for further adventures... but what do you do if your investigators get a bit fixated on them - to the exclusion of the quest they're actually supposed to be on!  In this session RK managed to get himself banned from the Orne Library, and then Luke managed to break into the restricted books section and stole De Vermiis Mysteriis (an arcane book that, according to the scenario as written, they shouldn't be able to get - but the players were so insistent, imaginative, and their efforts so entertaining - I decided not letting them ever succeed was the railroading I was trying to avoid).  They'd also befriended a Languages Lecturer, but managed to completely piss off the Head Librarian.  They seemed they definitely didn't want to talk to the police about the mysterious death they'd learnt of - but DID want to tour local antique dealers, gun shops and introduce themselves to more and more n.p.c.s that I needed to ad lib.  It was all rather good fun, although not desperately action-y, and they were planning to journey to New Orleans the next day when I finally called time on that evening.  I wish, in retrospect, I'd finished on a slightly different note (I thought of a cliffhanger that I really wish I'd gone with the next day.  Ho hum.)

Before the next session I looked up the travel time to New Orleans (~48 hours) and decided I needed to introduce more urgency in the proceedings - hopefully to motivate them to actually carry out their friend's dying wish and investigate the hamlet a few miles away instead of looking for exotic art dealers in Louisiana!  I was pleased to have the affronted librarian that RK had offended cause a scene in the street - and reintroduce their dying friend's wife to tell them that he'd now died in hospital.  This did the trick, and they cancelled their plans to visit New Orleans, instead visiting the farmhouse they 'should' have been heading towards all along.  (Borrowing a car to get there, such was their urgency now).  The people of the village near the farm were suspicious of outsiders, what with local Maggie having gone missing recently ... and my investigators jumped to all kinds of (wrong) conclusions about her being sacrificed, and headed to the farmhouse.  As they investigated the farmhouse the impetuous Cook started really taking damage, and trying to climb into the attic was perilously close to him dying (although he didn't know it!).  Eventually they performed the ritual - and killed two Zombies as well as a Zombie racoon.  The climax had Luke seeing a vision of his dead wife, and the Socialite having to be physically restrained by the Cook to stop him walking into the arms (actually mouth) of the creature that they were trying to banish.  This was the same Cook that the Socialite had previously attacked when he went temporarily insane, believing him to be his arch rival from back home.  Somehow they all survived, albeit by the skin of their teeth.  This was thanks to a couple of lucky rolls (not fudged rolls - I was perfectly prepared for one to die, and had a couple of characters on standby in case).  We wrapped up the session discussing how they were going to explain the dead body of Maggie (that they'd killed in Zombie form). They decided they'd pin it on the hobo, (that they'd also killed as a Zombie), as they (rightly) thought the police would never believe the truth.  Investigator development ensued and I shared a few snippets of information they didn't know about, so they learnt a bit more about the surrounding story.

All told - a good couple of sessions - and again, the BRP Cthulhu 7edition is easy to get to grips with.  Combat was new to my players, yet they soon got their head around it.  And 'pushing' rolls in a narrative way was coming quite naturally to them.  Especially when they were trying to concentrate on continuing their chant ("I try to block out the noise and smell by thinking about my latin master at school and focus on the pronunciation of the words!")


Looking forward to Dead Man's Stomp next!


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Yes, I think they did have a good time.  Interesting how the two sessions that this scenario spanned played out so differently - with the second one being Action! Danger! Guns! Zombies! Peril! ... but the first session was a much more considered investigation, with the players obviously revelling in the freedom of exploring Arkham.

Afterwards one player said how much he enjoyed the action of the last session (perhaps he's more inclined towards the Pulp variant), whereas the other two probably favoured the less crunchy, more character based role-playing of the first session.  I do think that this scenario gives a good opportunity for plenty of both, and feels a good introduction to how life-threatening the situations can be to normal human beings.  I think having it split over two sessions felt more natural than three acts.  In thirds I think it would have been difficult for me to make each act 'distinct', and act 2 could have felt very similar to act 1.  (Although if they'd headed to New Orleans it might have gone very differently and tested my improvisational skills to the limit!)

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