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Steve

Starter Set - Paper Chase - A noob's report

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I ran my first ever game of CoC last night. It's over 30 years since I last ran any tabletop RPG, so I was a little - ahem - rusty. I had two players, both of whom were new to tabletop RPGs as well. I thought I'd do a little report on it - it was a lot of fun.

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR PAPER CHASE AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

 

 

 

 

We used a couple of the pre-gens. Both my players were female so were happy to have a good selection of female characters to choose from. We decided to use the pre-gens just to save a bit of time, and because they didn't understand the game system anyway, so it seemed simpler just to dive in and start playing rather than explain what the stats and skills were for up-front.

I was pretty (extremely rusty) on running a game, but I'd read the scenario several times and of course Paper Chase is pretty simple so there wasn't anything complex I had to try and remember. Just really my skills for improvising answers to my players' questions that need more practice.

They did pretty well. They grilled Thomas Kimball with a lot of questions that weren't very relevant, but they homed in straight away on the books and one of my players wondered if Douglas Kimball had a journal, without my having to suggest that or hope that they found it. After a slight struggle to understand the whole concept of the game, one of my players quickly got into the idea of investigating, in the right sort of way, and it probably helped that they didn't have dungeon-crawling RPG experience to skew their ideas of what to do.

They didn't check absolutely everything out they could have (they didn't go to the newspaper offices), but they did get virtually all the key information and quickly got the idea that the graveyard was important and did a lot of investigating in there. With two players it made it easier for them to succeed in their rolls, e.g. with them both doing a Spot Hidden, or whoever had the highest Persuade/Charm/etc doing the talking. For a first game that helped make it go easily, for both players and keeper alike, without the need to worry about things grinding to a halt because of missing something important.

They decided to force their way into the mausoleum and both ended up passing out and finding Douglas Kimball in the graveyard. They sensibly didn't just try to randomly attack him, and soon saw that he wasn't hostile. They chatted with him and figured out what was going on, so all was good.

However, it all started going downhill from there. Douglas Kimball went back into the mausoleum and sealed it up. Instead of calling it a day, my players (well, one of them mainly) decided they wanted to investigate the tunnels. They seemed to have become a bit overconfident about Douglas seeming benign, even though they'd heard all about his friends. They investigated a few ways to break into the mausoleum, and asked if they could dig. I was going to say no, but then I decided that since what they were doing was unwise (and one of the players already thought it was a bad idea), I'd let them do it just for educational purposes for future scenarios (and of course because I wanted to "push the horror").

So I let them dig their way into the mausoleum at night, enter the tunnels and then meet up with some ghouls. Just when they both started to agree this was a bad idea and retreat, when they turned around then of course there was another ghoul blocking the way, and that was it, they were never seen again! So the "I told you this was a bad idea!" from the other player reinforced the fact that they lost their caution, and hopefully was a useful lesson for future scenarios.

Overall, it was a lot of fun and I think we all learned a lot. I had initially wondered if the scenario was a bit "too simple" and a bit boring, but not at all - it seemed liked a good learning exercise and introduction to the idea of investigating as thoroughly as possible so as to be prepared as possible for what comes next. And not taking unnecessary risks because death or insanity is just around the corner.

Oh, and before we started the game we did a quick search on Spotify for "creepy music" and that worked an absolute treat! Really helped with the atmosphere.

I can't wait to start preparing the next scenario now, and get into a slightly more involved plot. And I've already got the Keeper Rulebook, Investigator Handbook and Keeper Screen Pack, the Quick-Start Rules (for The Haunting) and have Doors to Darkness on order. And have downloaded the free one-shots on the Chaosium site. So I don't think I'm going to run out of what to play anytime soon!

Great work on the Starter Set, guys, it's certainly got me started and wanting more!

 

Edited by Steve
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Great report Steve.  Also note that you did a great job with resisting the "No" when they wanted to dig and gave them a "Yes, but...[insert fair warning]" instead. Player choice drives great deaths.

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