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Videopete

First Time Players and Keeper's Recap

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So there comes a time when a boy makes that transition from adolescents to maturity.  Pretty sure today is not that day, the wife thinks I can be quite childish, but as C.S. Lewis said, "When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."  That said, I did take a grand step, and in doing so I ran my first game of Call of Cthulhu. Long had a copy of 6th Edition sat on my book shelf.  I originally learned from the 5th edition, but no one wanted to play it at the tender age of 16.  So I waited... and I finally played.  

So I brought in these new players, most never having played a RPG. Others were use to playing games such as that famous game.  So as I looked over their characters two had rolled more classical, one a literal Hobo, the other the mob enforcer.  The other two rolled up a Doctor and a Parapsychologist.  Deciding not to do a "and you all meet in a inn" They were all associates of Dr. Armitage of Miskatonic University.  The adventure was the  vernerable "The Haunting", a pretty basic adventure that the players should be able to survive. The operative word is should.

As no adventure survives first contact with a player, the game turned into a fiasco from the word go.  As any fan of the Cohen Brothers can tell you, what followed surprised no one, but astounded all involved.  The players decided to check on the prior occupents of the Old Corbit house, the Macario Family.  First they failed to convince the Clerk at the desk to allow them to see the Mr and Mrs Macario, as they failed their Psychology rolls, to prove their credentials, as none have a doctorate in their field but rather are still students.  So they decide to break in.  The drifter  and the Criminal attempted to break in, first by failing to hop a simple wall by alerting the local guard dogs, and proceeding to be thrashed, except one made it over.  Luckily for the drifter the dog was well trained and merly growled at him once he was pulled down.  The Criminal startled two patients playing a game of spirited bagmitten, and was then overcome by a loss of words trying to convince an arriving nurse, that he was not a patient.  So he failed to notice the quick prick of barbituates.  The two students, then attempted to break in by the loading docks, and bribed two teamsters to give them some clothes to sneak in. These clothes were for patients.  They even found the criminal drooling on him self, and after an attempt to sober him up quickly with sternly applied slap failed, they agreed it would be a better choice to leave him be, and come to on his own.  It was at this time the drifter went in, and to the surprise of all at the table, self admitted to the facility. He then failed his psychology roll, where I warned him prior that, a small failure would show he was lying, and a massive failure would cause a diagnosis far worse than what he intended. He failed spectacularly well. So off to the ward for those of a more serious persuasion, outfitted with a new jacket.  Then the two students nearly broke into the records room, till they alerted a nurse, and the syringe happy staff dosed the two of them, when they accosted her.  The first one to wake up was parapsychologist and the drifter.  They realized it was darn close to midnight once the drugs wore off, and decided it would be easier to convince the doctor that they were quite fine in the morning.  The medical student explained what had happened, to the guard, to which the security felt that he was better served by being the local constables issue.  The criminal, now freshly sober needed to get a bead on the situation, decided he needed to get out of the nut house, so he decided to snatch doctors jacket and merilly jaunt out.  The doctor he tried to relieve of their coat, turned out to have been a rather stout fellow, who repayed the criminal with a thrashing.  Journeying out to the court yard and a quick hop over the wall, he sprinted to the car they had parked, a rather expensive luxury Buick.  So first base chance drive to peel out of the sanitarium and the criminal rammed a brick pillar, the second attempt knocked the statue of the founder of the sanitarium onto the car.  Putting the criminal in rather dire straights.  Luckily this is a medical facility and they were looking for him, so he survived.

The next morning, a great many bribes were payed, and explanations explained, and they walked out over grand poorer, but 20 dollars richer. We called it a end to that session, and will pick up next time a week after the botched break in of the sanitarium.

 

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Do you require rolls for absolutely everything? Like even just driving out of a parking lot? I, personally, would save the driving rolls for extraordinary situations like a chase or trying to handle a vehicle with the brake line cut or the like. To my thinking normal driving shouldn't carry the risk of crashing every 20 feet as that would both be, not particularly fun, and not a very good simulation of the source material.

I mean the story is humorous to read...but I feel like you are perhaps letting the dice get in the way of the story a bit.

To each his own I guess. If the group enjoyed it then you are doing it right.

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22 hours ago, Videopete said:

First they failed to convince the Clerk at the desk to allow them to see the Mr and Mrs Macario, as they failed their Psychology rolls, to prove their credentials, as none have a doctorate in their field but rather are still students. 

It doesn't work that way. Psychology is a perception skill - for example reading someone's body language.

It should have been a Persuade (maybe with a bonus die if you thought their Medicine skill was pretty high and their roleplaying encouraged it - or maybe a combined Medicine/Persuade roll), or a Fast Talk (if they were just trying to bullshit their way in).  Intimidate could also be used - especially as a pushed roll if the Persuade fails - "a sort of don't you know who I am, how dare you question me. I will have your job for this."

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5 hours ago, Hansmo said:

Do you require rolls for absolutely everything? Like even just driving out of a parking lot? I, personally, would save the driving rolls for extraordinary situations like a chase or trying to handle a vehicle with the brake line cut or the like. To my thinking normal driving shouldn't carry the risk of crashing every 20 feet as that would both be, not particularly fun, and not a very good simulation of the source material.

I mean the story is humorous to read...but I feel like you are perhaps letting the dice get in the way of the story a bit.

To each his own I guess. If the group enjoyed it then you are doing it right.

This is what I was trying to get at, but perhaps a bit more subtly.  I would consider this session to be a disaster and wouldn't expect that my players would find it very fun.  Running CoC is difficult.  It isn't like hack and slash DND where everything comes down to a roll.  

Now, I don't just want to come off as if I am scolding the TC without purpose so I'll throw a couple of things out there that the TC can, of course, choose to ignore, but it goes out to anyone Keeping CoC for the first time, and I'd argue for GMing in general for any game.

1) How can I help my players succeed while still challenging them?

I'm not saying players shouldn't be challenged. If there was no challenge it wouldn't be a "game."  Yet, neither is "so challenging that nothing can be achieved" fun for a majority of role-players.  E Gary Gygax kicked off an amazing hobby, but I'm just going to go on the record and say that he was a crappy GM. Nobody should be emulating his GM style if your goal is for your players to have fun.  The vinette above reads as if the the TC's GM style is to imagine all the possible ways that players can fail, and give them a darn good chance of making sure they all happen.  Now, maybe their play group LIKES Tomb of Horror-style gaming, and that's fine.  If that's the case, more power to them.  If they had fun, great.  But I'd venture a guess that even if every player in that group said they had fun, at least some of them are lying to be polite.  Yes, the point of CoC, to a great extent, is to have threats that the heroes can't deal with through human agency.  It is the THREATS they should struggle to deal with, not the mechanics of the game.  That is an important distinction, in my mind.  CoC is about NARRATIVE losing, not constant mechanical losing.

2) Call of Cthulhu, like any role-playing game, can be run in anyway a group wants that they find fun.  Any RPG can arguably be run anywhere on the continuum of roll-playing to role-playing.  Role-playing games become most beautiful when mechanics take a back seat to the story, in my opinion.   CoC wasn't designed to be run like a hack and slash or a mechanics-focused game.  It is an investigative game in which the players work to uncover clues.  Players won't always find every clue.  When they do, contrary to what ToC would have us believe, it is not the end of the game, or an unrecoverable situation.  It is the CoC Keeper's job to move clues around and/or craft opportunities to get clues.  A Keeper should WANT players to struggle anywhere from a little bit to a lot to get clues, but ultimately make sure that they get clues in a timely manner that doesn't grind the game to a halt.  The vinette above makes it sound like the clues in that game must be protected at all costs and should only be attainable after anguish.  I wouldn't like that style of game and I've met few role-players that do. Maybe the TC and their group is the exception.

So, TC, please do ask yourself if your players had fun.  If they did, more power to you. If there is a chance they did not (which it wouldn't surprise me if they did not), ask yourself what work can be done to increase the enjoyment.

Edited by klecser

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5 hours ago, klecser said:

This is what I was trying to get at, but perhaps a bit more subtly.  I would consider this session to be a disaster and wouldn't expect that my players would find it very fun.  Running CoC is difficult.  It isn't like hack and slash DND where everything comes down to a roll.  

That's a bit harsh, in my opinion.

Sure, perhaps there were too many rolls, climbing a wall for a thief should be Easy, so should have a bonus, for example.

But, I'd have used Psychology to get past the people on the desk, as that makes sense to how I have played CoC before.

Sometimes you get scenarios where just about everything goes wrong. You can react in two ways - Whinge and complain about it all going wrong and having an unfair GM, or react to the things that went wrong and take a different path.

It looks as though the players took the second option and reacted to everything that went wrong, trying to turn events to their advantage.

If the players and GM had fun then it was not a disaster.

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5 hours ago, soltakss said:

If the players and GM had fun then it was not a disaster.

Please feel free to read the rest of my post in which I say, on at least two occasions, that fun is the ultimate goal and if this group has fun, then my comments become more general.  When I said I would consider a disaster, I mean if I ran it or experienced that game. As in for me personally, and my play style.  And others MAY feel the same.  They may not.  And if not, that is fine.  I've been role-playing long enough and played with enough players that the description the TC gave makes me wince.  It doesn't make you wince?

Edited by klecser

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We had a huge amount of fun.  While some ask why I had them rolling dice for every check, the reason was simple.  I was teaching them the rules, and learning them my self.  As an aside, the remark about Gary Gygax, there are huge differences between Gygax the GM, and Gygax the businessman. Tomb of Horrors is not a true Gygaxian adventure, but rather a response to critisisms and self parody 0f TSR's offerings of dungeons, and the Adventure was never meant to be run on your regular characters, but rather in a more tournament setting and on a stack of pregens, it was a test of the player.  From people who played at his home table, he treated the rules as suggestions and if a player had an idea they could try it out.  Gygax the business man who had merch to sling, was a character who wanted you to play rules as written and buy the new books, and adventurers.

Any who tonight ended at the house, they have a few names, but decided to skip a majority of the investigation and dive straight into the basement.  The session ended as they brought the flashlight onto the pallet, and cut to credits. They cant wait for next session.

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On 10/31/2018 at 1:29 PM, Videopete said:

We had a huge amount of fun.  They cant wait for next session.

Doesn't matter what else went on, or what other people say, if that was the case then you did it right.

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