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ATTH campaign report

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Just finished running the final part of A Time To Harvest after just over a year of play! We did one session a month, with a couple of missed months, which was the fastest we could schedule time - but way too long between sessions for people to keep details in mind. Here's how we went - and some thoughts on the scenario...

Episode One worked well as an introduction to CoC to my all-new players. The creepiest moment in it was when the characters were sitting in the back of the truck waiting for Robert Blaine to return, listening to the rain pound down with their imaginations running riot. They thought anything might be about to come and get them...

I missed an important opportunity in this episode to establish the stakes and danger level. Upon encountering the Moon-Beast in the forest, one of my players (my wife!) decided her character would simply flee alone back through the woods. I had already established that there were masses of the peculiar rat-like creatures there; I should have had them swarm and consume the unwise solo escaper. At this stage I was still a very forgiving Keeper!

The players uncovered a fair bit of folklore, rescued the Braithwaite girl and left her with the Doctor, and were all out when the Mi-Go came for their companions. They were suitably alarmed when they found the farmhouse empty, and baffled when Deputy Cutter arrested them...

Episode Two went smoothly - a little too smoothly. The players disposed of most of the swopped students during the library raid, suffering nary a scratch in the process. Psychic assassin guy got his head blown off, which I subsequently regretted given the several opportunity to bring him back that I lost in the process. I ran the midnight cemetery rendezvous - but alas, lost my composure while describing the phone call that set up the meet. The haunted cemetery bit seemed so over the top, I got the giggles. Undermined myself a bit!

in Episode 3 I ran the Canada mission and it worked a treat - the players had a great time hunting down the leads, and sent one of their number in alone to distract the suspicious priest with conversation while they tried to sneak into his house. A few failed rolls later, Father Dubois had the infiltrator chloroformed and tied down. He was a good way into his skull-sawing before the others were able to rescue their permanently-disfigured friend...

We were out of time by this point, and I didn't want to pad out the start of the next episode with the Deep One incident. So I dropped it; less mayhem at FOC, but a simpler path back to Cobb's Corners.

Episode 4 went very well; at the clinax of the first session, two of the players were seized when the Dark Young assaulted the farmhouse, but one was dropped when another character rammed the monstrosity with their truck. The remaining captive - the same unfortunate with Fr Dubois' saw-marks still in his forehead - was carried off. 

In the next session I alternated scenes with the kidnapped player waking up in the captive room and observing other FOC prisoners being decraniated, with the rescue efforts of his friends. The latter managed to capture a Mi-Go surgeon and resist its offers of power, making it guide them. Finding the captive room, one player tried to kill the two Mi-Go inside with a rolled grenade - and seriously failed his roll, leading him to be caught in the explosion and suffer a fatal head trauma when thrown against the tunnel wall behind.

When the remaining rescuers entered the captiveroom I was able to reveal (as the kidnapped player suspected) that he was now just a bain in a jar, observing proceedings from a shelf. The freshly shucked skull of another FOC employee was on hand - and the players threatened their Mi-Go prisoner into filling it - with the brain of the unsuccessful grenadier! They tensely waited for the impromptu brain transplant (and gender swap) to be completed, while the buzzing of searching Mi-Go drew ever closer. Their eventual escape, jarred friend in backpackC was narrow indeed...

Episode 5 was a thrilling single session. Jarred player probably should have been encouraged to take on a new character, as being reduced to an impotent commenter was wearing. The players discovered Cuzra and several other highly effective set pieces (at the first smashed farmhouse and pulled/stabbed body I said they recognized the victim, intending it to be a generic farmer they'd interviewed. Instead they asked if it was Emelda Cratchett - a suggestion too good to pass up.

The players made it to the centre of town and found the Stanley Steamer, planning to drive it to a vantage point near the park where they could disrupt the ceremony - with a bazooka! I let them try, and as Cutter was about to stab the last sacrifice (the Sheriff!), the shooter made his roll and the bazooka struck - the Sheriff!

What I should have done was rule that this actually completed the ceremony, bringing Shub-Niggurath forth directly. Instead I let them succeed in averting the full summoning, but made them all make sanity rolls for seeing the half-formed eldritch entity. Three out of six failed, taking around 80 points of SAN each, taking them each to zero. I took the chance to follow through on consequences - having been a bit too willing to wrap the characters in cotton wool before.

One character went permanently catatonic. One clawed his eyes out and never stopped screaming. I ruled the third - the body-swapped player, and driver - decided the half-emerged Great Old One was the most beautiful thing ever, and leap out of the car to be swept up in Her embrace. The remaining sane players tried to stop him/her - by shooting him in the back with a shotgun. They hit! But didn't quite kill him/her before ascension.

For the final Episode and session all but two players created new characters. I stuck with the scenario as written, taking the spacesuit option - it was considerably tenser and more grounded. In the City the players came up with their own distraction plan, but the distraction team failed their stealth roll immediately and opted to continue the distraction trough fighting rather than pushing the roll. One was depressurised by a Mi-Go, and another was prevented from fixing the suit when they saw a Shoggoth and went insane immediately. The depressurising character opted to rose a full belt of grenades into the nearby ore heap, detonating it and erasing the whole distraction team.

Meanwhile the bomb team managed to plant their load, set a five minute timer, and make it just outside the city befor the bomb went off. Their remaining NPC was killer by falling debris, and the rapidly pursuing damaged Shoggoth caused two of the last three players to go temporarily insane and either fire in mad rage or flee in abject terror - the latter going for astray from Home Gate or City due to a failed Luck roll. In the end, only one player made it home, and the small gate was detonated too. 

All up this was a fine adventure. The conclusion worked welll for me. We are going to do a few one-shots in many systems next - need a while before trying something of equal ambition!

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