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Tips on the Writing Aspect of Creating a Campaign

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Hey all. So I've been writing a campaign in my head for some time now, and my regular D&D group is willing to try Call of Cthulhu. I figure this is the perfect opportunity to finally write down my campaign on paper. As such, I've got two "scenes" written down already, but I'm hoping to get a little insight on the makeup of how other campaign writers write down their stories and how they progress. I'll attach the PDF of the two scenes (roughly one page each) and would love some tips and critiques on what I should improve or how. Keep in mind this group is new to this particular game, though they have an exceedingly strong grasp of tabletop gaming in general, so this first bit is mostly to get them to understand basics of how this works. I'll also have a copy of what I've written so far here, as well as a rough outline of the story. Thank you all so much for your help in advance.



Margot Ridgewell- A young, soft spoken woman, Margot is both relieved and anxious at the sight of the travelers. Forced into marriage of Dr. Fairweather some years prior, she has escaped the savage fate of the other inhabitants through her marriage to the Doctor.


Doctor Ridgewell- An old, thin-boned man, whos loose, wrinkly skin seems to barely hold on to the Doctor's lithe frame. He moves slowly, speaks slowly, and seems to flow from room to room. In a word, Dr. Fairweather is a man who seems to be made soley of liquids.


Mayor Themond- The scrawny, cruel, but charismatic leader of Orelmark. He is not concerned by the arrival of the party, believing they will simply be added to his thrawl. As time goes on, however, he becomes more and more desperate to stop the party from advancing.


The Obsidian Man (TOM Themond)- Belive it or not, TOM is the brother, and son, of Mayor Themond. Standing at eight and a half feet tall, his face hidden by a scarf and large hat, TOM has never spoken a word. And yet, every machination by  MayorThemond is a direct attempt to please him.


Widow Themond- Quiet and terrified, Widow Themond has remained in the large farmhouse for the last twenty years. Since the death of her husband, she has become a complete agoraphobe. Terrified to leave her house, and more terrified of what may happen to her if she divulges too much, this seemingly pathetic old woman has the knowledge that could split the players' investigations wide open.


The Madman of the Swamp- The crazed hermit who lives alone in the middle of the marsh, he has only one leg left, the result of an accident many years ago.


The Location:

Orelmark (was so named after the initial settlers sent a representative to establish the township at the state level, however his accent was a bit too thick and it was misheard) is a small oil drilling village on the coast of New England, complete with a refinery. However, some years back, the oil dried up, and so did much of the town. Years later, new oil has been struck, and the town's coffers began to fill up again. Unfortunately, the wetlands around the town have also become struck with a strange black liquid. In the east, the once decent farmland has become an untreadable marsh, and to the west, the oil fields are nearly totally covered in a black muck. The only road leading into town has fallen into disrepair, and the way from Orelmark to the nearest settlement is long and confusing indeed.

The players find themselves on a bus, bound for Arkham, but now lost in the wooded hills of quiet New England. The bus gets stuck on a muddy road in the middle of what appears to be marshlands, stranding the players on the outskirts of the town...



Players start on the bus. Bus driver “Danish”, because his father was Danish, and he just kept it. He doesn't want to talk much. He clearly doesn't care for his job. If there are any women who want to pull an APP check, they can. He will open up more and admit he's lost.


After the bus gets stuck, the driver gets pissed and goes outside to check on the tires. Players with the MECH REP skill may make a check. On a fail, they suggest pushing. On a success, they suggest putting all the luggage inside the back of the bus to help give the bus weight.


Players who make an INVESTIGATE check notice the mud is black and warm to the touch.


Any player on the left side of the bus must make a SPOT HIDDEN. On a success, they may notice a small light off in the distance, somewhere in the marsh.


Players who wish to push must make a STR check. A failure leads to nothing. A success leads to the bus making slight progress. No more than 5 feet. If a player had made a successful Rep. Mech. check, the bus moves 5 feet. If the players had not moved the luggage, the strength check must be a HARD success.


Once players have attempted to move the bus, a sound starts coming from the right of the bus, somewhere in the Black Wastes. All players behind, in front of, or on the right of the bus must make a SPOT HIDDEN check. On a success, they must make a DEX check. On a failed SPOT check, they do not. A successful DEX check leads to avoiding all damage. A failed DEX check or failed SPOT HIDDEN leads to -4 Health. Any players who succeed either check will take -1 Sanity. A large black mass slams into the side of the bus, knocking it over onto its side.


The bus driver is missing. Any player who notices should make an INVESTIGATE check. On a success, they see his boots sticking out of the mud, still attached to him. His body is buried in the mud. Players may attempt to dig him out. Players with a medical background will know he is suffocating. They can partially uncover him. Players will a SIZ higher than 60 may make a STR check to pull him out. On a success, they may pull him out. His lungs are full of the mud; he is dead. This player just touched a dead body. If they haven't seen a dead body before, they take -1 sanity. Players who fail this check must leave his dead body in the mud.


Leaving the wreck, players must move forward. Traversing into either the Living Swamp or the Black Wastes is certain death, as the players' feet will get stuck almost immediately. If a player sucks and tries this anyway, they must make a LUCK or STR check to get out. If not, well, they're stuck and begin to take -1 damage per turn as the muck is highly acidic. Players may make as many attempts to free themselves or their teammates as many times as needed.


Anyway, moving forward. Ahead, the road curves to the right. At the curve, just off the road, is a worn down wooden sign reading: ORELMARK. Players cannot see past the curve, as it curves around a large boulder or hill located directly behind the sign. As they walk up the road, they find themselves in the City Center of Orelmark.







The only light in the City Center is found in the lobby of the Hospital. The streets are deserted, and there is a thick fog blanketing the cobblestone roads. If they ask about the Grocer, they will see the windows are heavily grimed, and an INVESTIGATE check will show that the door is locked, and the interior seems to have been neglected for many, many months.


Inside the Hospital, MARGOT RIDGEWELL sits at the receptionist desk. She is young, pretty (if somewhat plain), and does not match the dusty and abandoned-looking Hospital. She sits behind the desk, a simple desklamp illuminating her face as she gazes down at an old, even for the 1920s, fashion magazine. Upon seeing the party enter, she is shocked and dumbfounded to see people enter.


Anyone in the party who would like to may make a PSYCHOLOGY check. On a pass, they notice she is actually somewhat frightened to see new faces in the town. On a fail, she simply seems to be surprised to see someone so late at night. Margot asks who they are, first and foremost, and what they are doing there. After she comes to her senses, she asks if everything is okay. She is genuine with the party.


Margot makes two phone calls, telling the party she is calling for help. The first phone call goes through, but the second goes unanswered. Anyone who wishes to push for more details must make a HARD success on a CHARM, PERSUASION, or INTIMIDATE check. Making an INTIMIDATE check, successful or otherwise, will leave Margot afraid of the party. Only successful HARD PERSUASION or CHARM attempts will lead to pertinent information in the future. A Female Player Character does not need to make a HARD success on either CHARM or PERSUASION. Margot is clearly more comfortable talking to women, and softer spoken men.


After she makes her phone call to the Town Watch, she ushers the group further into the Hospital ER. It has also not seen any maintinence in some time. She has 3 med kits available that will heal +2 to Health when used. If anyone attempted an INTIMIDATE check, Margot does not offer the medkits. After giving, or not giving, the med kits, Margot tells the group to remain put, as she is going to get the Doctor. If anyone asks, he is her husband, and he did not answer the phone when she called. She cannot be persuaded to remain with the party, insisting that the Doctor is needed. Successfully PERSUADING or FAST TALKING will get Margot to reveal that she actually trusts him to help.


Margot exits, locking the main door on her way out, “for their protection” she says. After exiting, the party may move freely about the space for one full turn. When someone heads to the back of the room, they must make a SPOT HIDDEN check. On a success, they notice a hidden door at the back of the room. On an INVESTIGATE check, it is made clear that no one has been in here for some time. Dust covers everything.


After a full turn, a man approach the door of the Hospital. He is massive, nearly 7 feet tall. Clad in a heavy leather duster, thick boots, and hood, he unlocks the door. He is a Watchman. He enters the ER Ward.


NOTE: If players cooperate with the Watchman, all Watchmen from here out are less distrusting of the party. If the players discovered the Hidden Door, give each of them an IDEA check. On a pass, suggest that they enter the door and hide in whatever lies beyond. If they did not discover the door, they may make an attempt to hide with a STEALTH check. This requires a hard success. Any successful checks allows the player to be hidden under a bed. The Watchman speaks roughly to the group, and will not allow them to leave until morning. Any hidden player may use an INVESTIGATE check or IDEA check to find a syringe full of a ketamine. Any medical history this player has will inform them that it will knock out the Watchman. Without a medical background, the player will simply have to guess as to what it is, and what it does. A hidden player may knock out the Watchman with another successful STEALTH check with the syringe. NOTE: Attacking or knocking out the Watchman will lead to all Watchmen being IMMEDIATELY HOSTILE from here on out.


Players who have found the Hidden Door enter into a back office, which has seen recent use. A simple desk is in the middle of the room, and a couch on one wall. The desk has a journal on it. It is [Dr. RIDGEWELL JOURNAL 1]. Players will hide here until the Watchman is no longer heard in the building. He searches for at least an hour or so, knowing that the players must be somewhere in the building. At daylight, he leaves, and the players hear the front door unlock, and then shut again. NOTE: Players who pursue this path will not be HOSTILE to Watchman, though all Watchmen will be very suspicious of them from here out.



So that's it so far. I'm sorry for how long this post is, but any help would be massively appreciated. Thanks again.


Edited by Battury

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Interesting and evocative, if non-canonical setting.


I'm not  wild about the plot device of the  PC's bus getting that terribly lost: surely the driver knows  his route a little better than that.

Perhaps the bus was maliciously routed into the swamp? Or the driver was compelled out there by some malign influence, or he suffered some kind of fugue state?

Perhaps you're having  the PCs spend a little too much time on trying to  free the bus from its gluey trap: a futile endeavor as its pretty much a plot point that the bus is stuck fast. I would allow a simple Idea roll: if successful the PC pretty much realize that the bus is not going anywhere, rather than have them waste time trying to free the bus.

I wonder if it would be better to characterize Orelmark as a kind of semi-permanent encampment  than an actual town, as a town, with a generations of history, it would probably require further fleshing out.

As a work-camp, created solely to serve the  wells and refinery,  it'll only require  a minimum of infrastructure, and background detail.

A 'company town'  could be a pretty  brutal place, with the company bosses having ruthless and smothering control over everything that happens within the town.







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