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A Modern Day Epic Campaign From Chaosium


Pnick

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On 3/13/2021 at 3:46 AM, Spence said:

Not a horror based product, but the old Hudson City product from Hero Games is one of the best modern city (80s/90s) rpg city books ever printed.  It also has a high resolution street map for $5.  I can safely say it is probably the only modern city rpg product in existence that has an actual usable map.  A few years ago I did an edit where I removed the interstates and added rail lines so I could use the map for 30s games.

That is actually a very good idea. I now wonder how easily Demon: Servants of Darkness could be adapted to an horror game.

I agree that using a 20s scenario and adapting it to another era (or another area) is often doable, it comes with the challenges of figuring out the potential traps of communication ease but like many things, as long as conventions between players/GM are well established, it should be fine. Enhanced communication also works both ways. Have you neutralised the cultists fast enough or did they have time to text for help? Is the house/bunker you are sneaking into equipped with camera?

Having access to the internet doesn't grant instant knowledge and finding stuff would still need the equivalent of Library Use and for older stuff, might still force players to search libraries and records.  I find the notion that it is common for gamers to want to stick to the letter of a scenario as written a bit hyperbolic. I cannot think of a single scenario that did not see heavy mods at our table nor can I think of a scenario as written that can survive contact with players.

But the question is about "Modern Day Epic Campaign" so it goes far beyond adapting a 20's scenario to the modern days. A Chaosium modern day campaign, MoN style, would be grandiose for sure. Would a campaign written in the 2020s taken place in 2020 be outdated if played in 2035? Why would it? It is set in the 2020s and is no less outdated that a game that was set in the 80s, 60s, 30s or 20s. It is just set somewhen else. 

I love the advices from @lordabdul

 

Edited by DreadDomain
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37 minutes ago, DreadDomain said:

But the question is about "Modern Day Epic Campaign" so it goes far beyond adapting a 20's scenario to the modern days. A Chaosium modern day campaign, MoN style, would be grandiose for sure. Would a campaign written in the 2020s taken place in 2020 be outdated if written in 2035? Why would it? It is set in the 2020s and is no less outdated that a game that was set in the 80s, 60s, 30s or 20s. It is just set somewhen else. 

I agree.  I set my games in the 80/90s because communications and computers didn't really reach the level that people nowadays would expect.  I got my first "cell" in around 96.  It was a brick (heavy and awkward), required you to login before dialing a number and cost $ per logged in minutes.  If you called a number you started getting billed as soon as it connected whether they answered or not.  Listening to the other end ring was money bleeding away.  And that was if you were near to a tower. 

Internet was dialup and you were ecstatic if you actually reached 56k.  1meg was a fantasy dream for the far future.

But things were close enough for major governments and secret cabals to have "super science".

Adapting Demon?  What a great idea 👍

 

 

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Dear All,

I do not have much to add, as I prefer the 1920's setting, but I recently found an interesting video by a Youtuber who explains why he plays almost exclusively in the modern setting. He also references a set of modern scenarios by Chaosium titled "Petersen's Abominations", which I do not think was mentioned yet.

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There's also Our Ladies of Sorrow, out of print from the late lamented Miskatonic River Press. Good luck finding one, let alone at a reasonable price. It's more blatantly supernatural horror rather than cosmic HPLian horror. And as someone mentioned either here or on a similar thread on YSDC, there's a fair bit of J-horror inspiration involved (along with the DeQuincey and nominal Argento/Leiber-isms).

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1 hour ago, kross said:

There's also Our Ladies of Sorrow, out of print from the late lamented Miskatonic River Press. Good luck finding one, let alone at a reasonable price. It's more blatantly supernatural horror rather than cosmic HPLian horror. And as someone mentioned either here or on a similar thread on YSDC, there's a fair bit of J-horror inspiration involved (along with the DeQuincey and nominal Argento/Leiber-isms).

This. 1000% this.

Our Ladies of Sorrow is one of my favourite RPG books ever!

I am halfway tempted to state in my will that I'd like to be buried with it!

 

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On 3/10/2021 at 12:03 AM, Pnick said:

An interesting question that was prompted by a recent FB post — why, in its 40 year history, has Chaosium never published an epic modern day campaign?

Have you perchance heard the Tale of Old Man Henderson?  It's not a campaign or anything you can play, but it is certainly an epic relatively modern Cthulhu story that you might enjoy.

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29 minutes ago, StevenGEmsley said:

This. 1000% this.

Our Ladies of Sorrow is one of my favourite RPG books ever!

I am halfway tempted to state in my will that I'd like to be buried with it!

 

@kross you know I said in that private message that I was grateful to you for your work? Yeah, this... 😁

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Just now, StevenGEmsley said:

@kross you know in a private message that I was grateful to you for your work? Yeah, this... 😁

I wondered if that was what you were talking about. I'm glad you liked it. OLOS has always been one of my favorite books of those I've written. It's certainly the scariest, I reckon.

I should also mention that Our Ladies of Sorrow is due to be reprinted with new layout and art by Stygian Fox at some point in the future (probably not soon, though I don't know for sure). I'm kind of fond of the original art, myself, and I doubt ANYONE will EVER top the FANTASTIC cover Santiago Caruso did for the book. I don't know where Keith Herber first saw Santiago's art, but I think MRP was one of the first US publishers to use him for book covers (initially on New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley, then OLOS, then More Adventures in Arkham Country).

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19 hours ago, DreadDomain said:

Would a campaign written in the 2020s taken place in 2020 be outdated if written in 2035? Why would it? It is set in the 2020s and is no less outdated that a game that was set in the 80s, 60s, 30s or 20s. It is just set somewhen else.

I agree but I do think these books undergo some kind of "uncanney valley" of relevance in the middle. At least, that's how many of my gamer friends saw Cthulhu Now in the early 2000s... it went from "modern days sourcebook, yay!" to "outdated modern days sourcebook, meh" to "is Chaosium going to ever update this thing?" to (nowadays) "oh cool, a sourcebook to play in the 90s, great!".

One other thing might simply be that writers prefer to play with historical events better -- when it comes to "epic campaigns" (which is what we're talking about here) it gives a meaningful and thematic backdrop to investigators running around and blowing things up. The lead-up or middle or aftermath of WW1/2 or the Vietnam war, the struggle for independence of British colonies, the rush of archeological work into Egyptian landmarks, the exploration of yet-unknown parts of South America or Central Africa, the first expeditions to Antarctica, the Orient Express, etc. These are all great for the kind of world-spanning campaign we've come to love from Chaosium. In comparison, it's hard to do that with modern day events, mostly because of the "too soon" factor.

I'm just theorizing here though. I personally tend to play with big historical stuff when making historical adventures, and I tend to keep things "quiet" with modern day adventures. As a result, my 1920s campaigns have this "epic" pulp feel, while my modern day adventures have a more gritty, conspiracy-ladden structure. The PCs might travel across the continent, but it's more like The Ninth Gate or True Detective, and less like Indiana Jones. It could be a lack of imagination on my part though, or a simple consequence that a vast majority of my modern day CoC gaming was Delta Green, or heavily influenced by Delta Green.

Now if we drop the "epic" (or at least drop what I think it means), then yeah that's definitely more possible IMHO.

 

5 hours ago, Tranquillitas Ordinis said:

I recently found an interesting video by a Youtuber who explains why he plays almost exclusively in the modern setting. He also references a set of modern scenarios by Chaosium titled "Petersen's Abominations", which I do not think was mentioned yet.

This "youtuber" is Sandy Petersen, the original author of Call of Cthulhu 😄  (and author of "Petersen's Abominations", of course). But yeah, I do agree with his arguments, to some degree. The main reason I play in historical settings is either (1) I'm lazy and playing a published scenario or (2) I want to play during historical events (as mentioned above), which means I've been a bit anywhen between late 19th century and mid 1950s (I'd love to do some Dark Ages and Invictus at some point!).

 

Edited by lordabdul
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I think a modern (as in right now, or one or two years in the future) is very doable, even with the epic added.  The issue is that by the time the product can "hit the shelf" is will already be a few years in the past.

That said.

I have run a modern game where the threat was aliens infiltrating earth.  The players were all members of an agency that was task with dealing with it.  A covert agency that "did not exist" to the public but was known to elements of the FBI, NSA and CIA who were tasked to "render assistance" but were not read in to what was actually happening.

The game was run in Pulp mode and had plenty of action as well as investigation and clandestine operations.  It also had plenty of horror aspects and the players never were able to decide if the threat was Mythos or not.  

I never was able to finish the campaign, but it is proof to me that a modern game can be run and have that sense of play that I associate with epic.  Of course in this case I attribute that "feel" to the great players.  

I myself consider anything 1950s to present as "modern" game'wise and anything 2010 and up as "now". 

I you only consider 2021 as modern then you will never see a modern supplement or adventure with most needing at least a year to be published.

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1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

I agree but I do think these books undergo some kind of "uncanney valley" of relevance in the middle. At least, that's how many of my gamer friends saw Cthulhu Now in the early 2000s... it went from "modern days sourcebook, yay!" to "outdated modern days sourcebook, meh" to "is Chaosium going to ever update this thing?" to (nowadays) "oh cool, a sourcebook to play in the 90s, great!".

Funnily enough, the rest of your post almost gives the answer I was thinking of. Campaigns set in the past are often given a backdrop which whom people can relate in an often romanticised way. I like the 20's and 30's but would I choose to live during these times? Absolutely not. What I like about the era is the opportunity to tell, or play, certain types of stories (and not the opportunity to work in a shoe shop, a coal mine or a textile manufacture 12 hours a day).

A "modern day" sourcebook or campaign needs a backdrop. It cannot only be about being "current" or "now" because these are only moving targets. Cthulhu Now, as much as I like the name, was asking to become obsolete. Now name a scenario books "Call of Cthulhu: Tales of the Pandemic" or a campaign "Death in the Sky: a campaign set during the war against terror" and suddenly, it cannot become obsolete anymore. The context in time is set by the backdrop it references. And yet, as suggested above, someone could use them to play in various eras by adapting the context (a pandemic could have happened anywhen, wars are always on the verge of erupting somewhere).

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1 hour ago, Spence said:

I never was able to finish the campaign, but it is proof to me that a modern game can be run and have that sense of play that I associate with epic.  Of course in this case I attribute that "feel" to the great players

I agree. Even if the backdrop is fictional, palying in a "generic" modern day absolutely works. We have played Champions for decades (mainly Golden Age and Modern Era) and when I recall games we played in the 90s, I remind them as being set "in the current years" not as "taking place in 1992".

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On 3/12/2021 at 9:25 PM, stadi said:

Yes, having to go to remote places with no mobile reception is one thing to do this, but not everything can be solved by calling the police. The police doesn't believe in occult  things, so if you insist you might end up in a cell or an asylum. Maybe the government is involved, so that's why you don't call them, etc.

Oh, absolutely correct stadi.  I was merely posing this as all C'thulhu campaigns have a first adventure, but not so many make it to their conclusion, and starting investigators will be diving for the iPhones the minute the danger starts.

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On 3/13/2021 at 1:21 PM, StevenGEmsley said:

Agreed on the cover Kevin, it's a beautiful (and very fitting) piece! Delighted to hear of a future reprint, too, it deserves a wider audience.

Did it ever see a pdf release?

I don't know if OLOS ever received an "official" PDF release other than as a possible stretch goal reward as part of the Punktown Kickstarter project. No, wait, it might have also been released as part of one of the Humble Bundles several years back. Other than those two possibilities, I don't think it was ever available electronically (that I know of, anyway).

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/13/2021 at 6:46 AM, lordabdul said:

In the case of internet, it can give the players information similar to some journal found under someone's pillow or something: roll for SAN and lose a point! It's really freaky! Also: there's a LOT on the internet, and unless the roll is really good, there will be a LOT of irrelevant or misleading information to sift through. Do the investigators have 3 weeks to spare to do that? I bet not. So time to get off the computer and do some good ol' detective work.

Good post lordabdul.  Frankly the internet can actually compound a character's SAN loss and send them down rabbit-holes of immense stupidity chasing disinformation.  Consider also, if you are a cultist, perhaps setting up and SYSOPing a website for the information in question will give you a great insight into the sort of people looking for the info.  Are they recruitable?  Or do they need to be destroyed.  "The moderator was incredibly helpful" could be some truly famous last words.

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On 3/13/2021 at 1:21 PM, Runeblade said:

In modern campaigns, many of the monsters could be modified to be regarded as partly interdimensional entities, by merely existing or by thought disrupting phone and computer communications and the like. Or creatures savvy with alien technology could also access and control human technology when needed.

I'd certainly be wary of using my laptop if the Colour out of Space started showing up in the font colour palette.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m putting together a modern campaign using the Twilight:2000 setting.  With the loss of high tech capabilities, no cell phones, internet, etc, it gets that 1920s vibe back, but dressed in a modern day post apocalyptic style.  Strange cults appearing in small war torn villages in the polish countryside, strange creatures spotted in the shadows of the ruins of cities that were hit with nukes, etc etc.  Maybe New America has some affiliations with the great old ones.  Maybe starting WW3 was the plan of Nyarlathotep. I think a lot of the published scenarios could easily include Mythos themes, especially “black Madonna”

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Stygian Fox has a 7e license and has several modern-day offerings. 

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/2834/Stygian-Fox/subcategory/5060_32334/Call-of-Cthulhu-Modern-Era

"The Things We Leave Behind" can be run as a campaign. "Fear's Sharp Little Needles" is worth a look too.

 

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20 hours ago, Sid Vicarious said:

Stygian Fox has a 7e license and has several modern-day offerings. 

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/2834/Stygian-Fox/subcategory/5060_32334/Call-of-Cthulhu-Modern-Era

"The Things We Leave Behind" can be run as a campaign. "Fear's Sharp Little Needles" is worth a look too.

 

Excellent products, I've run some of the scenarios in them.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 3/12/2021 at 8:13 PM, Darius West said:

Contemporary horror is often set in places without cell towers or with bad reception, as the whole "just call the police" response is strong in players.  I actually know of people who get jumpy when they have less than 2 bars on their phone (even though there is no system for what the bars mean at all between phone companies) and get spooked and uneasy when they lose phone reception.

Modern Horror is not the same as it was.

 

Stephen King found a solution - make the cell phone the threat.
 

 

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On 3/12/2021 at 8:13 PM, Darius West said:

Contemporary horror is often set in places without cell towers or with bad reception, as the whole "just call the police" response is strong in players.  I actually know of people who get jumpy when they have less than 2 bars on their phone (even though there is no system for what the bars mean at all between phone companies) and get spooked and uneasy when they lose phone reception.

Modern Horror is not the same as it was.

 

Stephen King found a solution - make the cell phone the threat.
 

 

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Stranger things found another solution to the mobile phone dilemma. Their horror - monsters intruding from another dimension - was so weird calling someone didn’t really help.

”Find my son, he has been kidnapped into another dimension!”

Then of course there is always the old standby, the authorities are part of the conspiracy, like the little girl and her sick dad being pursued across the country in “Firestarter”.

 

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