The Origins Award nominees for 2014 have been announced, and we’re happy to say that Pelgrane Press has products in two categories!
Congratulations to all of the nominees! And if you’re attending Origins, please stop by our booth — we’d love to meet you, and tell you all about these and our other fine products.
Games reviewer Endzeitgeist declared Eternal Lies the Best Non-Pathfinder RPG Adventure of 2013, in the new issue of Pathways magazine. (Download a free copy.) He says:
Eternal Lies ranks as one of the best campaigns I’ve seen for any Cthulhu-system – it’s glorious and I’m not going to SPOIL the awesome premise here. Every Keeper should check this out – it’s one magnificent beast.
Get Eternal Lies at the Pelgrane Shop or at DriveThruRPG!
On the Dreams in the Lich House blog, reviewer Beedo says about the epic Eternal Lies campaign:
“After spending the past few weeks reading this 400 page monster, Pelgrane has far exceeded my expectations.”
Beedo continues, “The overarching theme of Eternal Lies is corruption, and the adventure does a fantastic job of grinding stability and sanity from the investigators and threatening them with effects that corrupt their character’s thoughts, souls, and ultimately, their physical bodies.”
Adding that “This is an excellent campaign, highly recommended, which confronts the players with a diverse series of locales and investigation types, while showing off the strengths of the Trail of Cthulhu rules set”, Eternal Lies is top of Beedo’s queue for next games to run.
You can read the full review on the Dreams in the Lich House blog here.
Rickard Gudbrand was so inspired by the image on page 123 in the Eternal Lies book (left) that he decided to do a similar thing himself, to be able to give his players during the game. Then he realised that he’d have to update the map as the investigators travelled to different locations, and possibly in a different order after the initial chapter.
The result is a beautiful interactive PDF map with layers, which the Keeper can use whatever order the players decide to travel in, as each layer can be activated individually and then printed (it’s designed as an A3-handout, so some fudging might be required to print to US letter size).
The PDF-reader must support layers for it to work. As it is very much a spoiler to a big part of the campaign, Rickard has protected it with a password: the first word on page 376 in the Eternal Lies rulebook.
You can download Rickard’s interactive map here.
Andrew Nicholson has been very hard at work converting Eternal Lies for Call of Cthulhu. He’s painstakingly gone through each act and explained how to tackle the core clues contained therein, and also how to make sure your players get nicely SAN-reduced as they uncover the mysteries of the campaign.
You can download a zip file containing all the full conversion here, but be warned – here be spoilers!
Rickard Gudbrand has designed another handout for his upcoming Eternal Lies campaign which he’s happy to share with everyone. This is cards for the main NPC’s of the campaign, intended to be printed, cut out and placed in suitable plastic card sleeves.
As not all of the NPCs in the book have pictures, he’s used all the pre-gens in the Eternal Lies book – as well as some NPCs from other Trail of Cthulhu books – to give a unified look to the NPCs.
The results are lovely – you can download them yourself here.
There are lots of great resources being created for Eternal Lies at the moment, so here are just some of what people are doing for the game. Be warned – these links will contain game spoilers, so if you haven’t read the campaign or you’re hoping to play it, don’t read these!
Andrew Nicholson’s Eternal Lies Call of Cthulhu conversion
Rickard Gudbrand’s Eternal Lies interactive campaign map
Rickard Gudbrand’s Eternal Lies NPC picture handouts
Simon’s Eternal Lies FAQ
Tell Me Lies, Tell me Sweet Little Lies
Converting Pelgrane’s ‘Eternal Lies’ Campaign to Call of Cthulhu
By Andrew Nicholson
Part One: Fools Rush In
It started as a way to persuade a group of gamers to try Trail of Cthulhu instead of their more usual fare.
“Hey”, I said, “…it turns out Pelgrane are looking for people to playtest a new campaign they’re hoping to publish – wouldn’t it be cool to see it first?”
There were nods and grunts around the table, accompanied by the supping of cola and devouring of curry … and thus it was decided.
I was more than ready for something a little different. I’ve been a keen Cthulhu Keeper ever since picking CoC up in about 1984, and after two years of only getting to run the occasional scenario, I was seriously looking forward to running a dark horror campaign.
A short while later (and a name drop or two) I had in my hands the playtest documents for Act One of Eternal Lies… and that was it, I was hooked.
Fast forward a few years, and Pelgrane announced the campaign was ready for publishing. People all over the internet were asking about it, and playtesters were enthusing about what a great campaign it was… but there was one repeated question:
“Does it have Call of Cthulhu statistics? If not, will there be a Call of Cthulhu conversion?”
Pelgrane’s Trail of Cthulhu range is, without doubt, excellent. The GUMSHOE system has many fans. However, much like many family relationships, there are those who will always prefer its older and better known brother. Some do not like GUMSHOE’s spend system. Others are fond of ToC – but just plain love CoC.
Having enjoyed the first act of the campaign so much, I felt it was a huge shame people might miss out on it. So, looking at the playtest notes for the first act, I did a rough conversion on scrap paper and thought: “I can do this – I know both systems pretty well, I’ve got the experience, and it shouldn’t take long either”
A couple of conversations with Simon at Pelgrane later, and we had it agreed. I would write a conversion of the campaign, and we hoped to have it ready in time for release at the same time as the book.
And then the files of the campaign arrived. I devoured them greedily, and it slowly began to sink in. Act One was only the introductory act. Act Two was big. Very Big. I also realised the way I had originally intended to write the conversion notes just wouldn’t do; it would have been fine for those with a passing familiarity with GUMSHOE, but would not give enough support to those who had never played it.
Also, we only had a few months to do it. My conversions would not only need working out and writing, but some playtesting to make sure they weren’t completely unreasonable.
In a word: Eeek.
But there was no way I was not going to do this. I had given my word, after all – plus, was I going to let an opportunity to do something cool for the Pelgrane slip away? Hell, no.
The First Decision : Keeping the Flavour
I read through the system conversion ideas in the back of the Trail of Cthulhu rulebook.
I sat down with a cup of tea, and gave it some thought.
I decided that Rule number 1 was: Preserve the flavour of the campaign’s encounters where at all possible.
By this I mean that players using either system would get as close to an identical experience playing the narrative of the campaign as could be managed. Tough encounters should remain tough. Easy encounters should remain easy. Some encounters should require sacrifice of irreplaceable resources. Investigative encounters should require the players to think, but not necessarily be dependent on random dice rolls.
Trail of Cthulhu approaches investigations slightly differently from Call of Cthulhu. In particular, there were couple of distinct tenets that I wanted to preserve: “Make the game player focussed”, and “It’s not rolling dice to find core clues that is important – it’s what investigators do with them”.
Player focussed games aim involve the players as much as possible whenever anything happens. The vast majority of the dice rolls are made by the players, and even in situations where they are opposed by NPCs the Keeper rarely rolls a die.
The theory is this keeps the players feeling involved and also means that if something happens they feel they had some input into it. There are few things worse for a player than to feel that something nasty happens “automatically” to them without them getting to at least roll dice. It may be a mainly psychological reaction, but it’s one I’ve seen time and time again.
So, to preserve this, I approached most situations in the conversion in the same way. When potential conflicts arise like an investigator hiding from an NPC, rather than call for opposed rolls (something that Call of Cthulhu doesn’t have the best system for anyway), I would put the onus on the player rolling against their skill, with a negative modifier to account for the skill of their opponent. This was a quick and easy conversion to do, still fits the Call of Cthulhu system – and I could still list the NPCs skills for those Keepers who wanted to go with the opposed roll approach.
The exception was in combat. While it was easy to make non-combat situations player focussed, combat would require far too many spot rules, and would not feel like Call of Cthulhu. Combat, therefore, shouldn’t be messed too much with.
Trail of Cthulhu also uses the concept of core clues - clues that are so vital to the investigation that without them the investigation will stall. Its been a long accepted flaw that in some Call of Cthulhu scenarios, one failed roll can mean the entire adventure stalls to a halt unless the Keeper arranges for some sort of work around.
One of the things I like about Trail of Cthulhu scenarios it clearly identifies these clues, and Eternal Lies is no exception. However, the question becomes – how do we approach this in Call of Cthulhu?
I looked at the suggestions in the main Trail of Cthulhu rulebook. They seemed serviceable… but I thought I could do better.
I had been using a house rule in my Call of Cthulhu games for several years, derived from Trail’s core clue concept. It had been playtested on numerous occasions, and seemed pretty effective. An investigator still has to roll against a skill to find a clue, but failure on the dice doesn’t mean failure to find the clue; it means that extracting or deciphering the clue becomes more difficult – the exact problem being decided by the Keeper based on the circumstances. I find this works very well, and keeps the acquisition of clues interesting for the players while still keeping the investigation on track.
However, while I knew this would be an approach many Keepers would be happy with, I also needed to account for those who are less comfortable with improvising, or prefer either more rules orientated approach. So, we playtested some alternatives solutions, and a couple of them (along with the rulebook’s suggested approach) are discussed in the conversion.
Having dealt with the more general rules issues, now I needed to start looking at specifics…
(end of part one – part 2 will follow next month!)
This is a FAQ for people who already have Eternal Lies and want to run it. If this is not you, please do not read it as it contains buckets of spoilers.
Eternal Lies Frequently Asked Questions
Next, let’s reiterate: every adaptation of Eternal Lies is different and distinct. One adaptation may flow from chapter to chapter with ease, happily revealing information and bravely combating threats in some relative synchronicity to how they’re presented in the book. The next adaptation may call for the Keeper to reveal information in one chapter while another chapter is unfolding at the table. This is a fair play.
In a way, then, our “official” position on certain events is just one more opinion about how to best adapt this particular story to your table. We know things about the intent of the campaign, it’s true, but you know things about your table’s play style that we don’t. Don’t be shy about overriding our position for the sake of your adaptation. Some situations require judgment calls and that’s just the way that goes.
Still, some of the questions that have come in are about outright errors on our part — errors of omission, poorly phrased language, or just plumb mistakes. We’re sorry about those.
Here are answers to a few of the questions that have come up since the release of Eternal Lies.
Q: Can you paint a more clear picture about the relationship to each other of the campaign clues in Mexico City, Bangkok, and Malta?
A: In order to successfully enter the Devouring Ravine in the Himalayas, the Investigators must get to a specific place at a specific time.
- In Mexico City, the Investigators learn where in the world they need to go: To Mount Kailash, in Thibet.
- In Bangkok, the Investigaotrs learn where — specifically — on Mount Kailash they must go.
- In Malta, the Investigators learn when they can fruitfully go there. That is, when the Devouring Ravine will open to allow them access to the Thing’s guts.
Q: How are the campaign clues in Mexico City and Bangkok different from each other?
A: The map the Investigators can find in Bangkok is concerned with the topology of a particular mountain, but does not have any clues about where in the world that topology is located. Other than being labeled the “Devouring Mountain,” the map gives no clues about what particular geography it is describing.
The information the Investigators can get in Mexico City suggests that “Mount Kailash” and “the Devouring Mountain” are one and the same place. However, it contains no specific information about where on Mount Kailash the access point to the Thing’s stomach is located.
It’s tempting to imagine that the map would suffice without the name for Investigators willing to spend a monumental amount of time poring over maps at one of the world’s best-stocked departments of cartography. And if you think it’s dramatically expedient in your campaign for things to work out that way, you could rule that it is. However, in the ‘30s, there’s no satellite data to provide accurate information about the topology of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, so it’s very easy to imagine that there’s simply no way to connect the dots in a library. (There’s also nothing in Savitree Sirikhan’s library to suggest that this particular map contains information that’s of such key importance to the Investigators. One imagines, after all, that half of the materials she’s collect claims to contain the most monumental secrets in the history of mankind, if not the universe.)
It’s also not preposterous to imagine that the name of the mountain would suffice without the Bangkok clue. However, without the detailed “neighborhood map” that the Bangkok map provides, the Investigators could spend years if not decades camping at different locations across the geography near the peak of Mount Kailash on the nights when the stars come right. Again, if you think it’s dramatically correct for the Investigators to find the location this way, without the details provided in Bangkok, that’s fine, especially if it’s exciting and dramatic for them to wonder —as the sun sets— if they’ve picked the right place, if you force them to make a very clever plan to narrow down the options, or something similar.
By analogy, imagine that the Investigators are trying to find a particular room in all of Chicago. They need to know both whose house they’re going to, and which room they need to be in. The Mexico City clue says it’s Cliff Smith’s house. The Bangkok clue says it’s the master bedroom.
Q: What exactly happened to Edgar Job in the aftermath of the massacre in 1924? How can the massacre crime have gone unsolved (as described in Los Angeles Scene 11, “The Police Report”) if Edgar Job was apprehended and plead to manslaughter (as described in Savannah Scene 2, “Arrival at Joy Grove”)?
A: There is a clear contradiction between Job pleading to manslaughter and the lack mention of Job in the police report. This is an error.
The “official” explanation that respects all of the existing facts runs like this:
Edgar escaped the scene of the massacre without being apprehended, in extremely tenuous mental and physical health. He made his way into unincorporated Los Angeles County, where he managed to elude capture for several days before collapsing outside a hobo camp. Brought to a hospital by Good Samaritans, he remained unconscious for several more days.
During this time, the city and county authorities were locked in a bureaucratic battle, each trying to force the other to bear responsibility for the massacre investigation. (This is described in Los Angeles Scene 11.)
When Edgar finally regained consciousness, he made a statement wherein he copped to stabbing someone who was trying to kill him — in self defense — at the crazy orgy. He assumed that’s why there was a sheriff in his hospital room.
The leadership in the sheriff’s department was not very enthusiastic about bringing Edgar to the attention of their counterparts with the city out of fear that it would push the investigation back to them. After satisfying themselves that Job hadn’t been any kind of mastermind in the depraved events (covering something like that up would have been an entirely different order of malfeasance) and having also learned that Job was wanted for a pair of prior armed robberies (as described in Savannah Scene 2), Job was charged with the three crimes and locked up where he wouldn’t come to anyone’s further attention.
Later that year, when correspondence from Dr. Keating arrived in Los Angeles, it found its way to the county rather than the city. In continued furtherance of their soft-pedaled “cover-up,” (not to mention that it would save the prison system money to offload Job to another state), the sheriff’s office arranged to have Job shipped to Georgia.
Q: Wouldn’t Dr. Keaton know more about the massacre given how many people died and how much information the police report contains?
A: It’s possible that he would. However, keep in mind that:
- Keaton is more interested in the men than the events, and is not inclined to believe in supernatural explanations for their stories.
- Keaton’s interest in Henslowe and Job must take a back seat to his official duties and functions. He can’t travel to Los Angeles over a period of weeks to do his own primary research, and he has not Internet fora to turn to for information.
Keaton is not an Investigator. He doesn’t have the drive or ambition to get at the truth. At worst, he regards Job and Henslowe as curios that often lie to him—even when they are telling the truth about supernatural events.
That said, there is no downside to the Investigators learning any of the clues from the 1924 police file while they’re in Savannah, if you think that having Keaton know more would improve your campaign’s verisimilitude.
Q: In Thibet Scene 5, “Into the Eye of the Storm,” the text says that “acute angles have become physically dangerous.” But then it talks about “[w]alls that come together at angles greater than 90 degrees.” What’s up?
A: The latter should refer to walls coming together at angles less than 90 degrees. Our apologies.
Q: In the boxed text on page 32, “Drive: Sudden Shock,” can you clarify which languages the Investigator can speak?
A: During the period of the Investigator’s addiction, she could speak only the Tongue of Lies. However, the Thing has eaten both the Investigator’s memories of that time, as well as the capability to speak the Tongue of Lies. The Investigator no longer knows the Tongue of Lies, and can, in the current time, speak all of the languages she could speak before the period she has forgotten.
Q: p. 112: What are Genial Brooker’s Three Things (Los Angeles 21, “The Gardener Next Door”)?
- Closes one eye when looking more closely at something.
- Constantly toys with a handkerchief when not holding a garden implement.
- Laughs in loud, single syllables. (“Ha!”)
Q: How complete is the list of Samson Trammel’s books (Los Angeles 11, “Trammel’s Mantion) on pp. 116–117 intended to be? Isn’t the connection between the name of the painting in Trammel’s study (“The Gazer’s Perspective”) and the name of the book “The Gaze of Azathoth” too obvious a clue?
A: This list is a random sampling of the names of some books, less than 5% of the collection as a whole. The list of sample books shouldn’t be presented to the players. It’s meant as a quick list of titles the Keeper can roll off if the players ask what some of the books are called.
The key things to keep in mind as the Investigators poke around Trammel’s study are that (a) it would take a great deal of time spent digesting the study’s contents to draw a connection between the painting, the book (given how many books there are in the library), and what’s known about the Los Angeles cult’s history, (b) the Investigators are likely to be more more interested in the Testament than the rest of the library as something to spend their time looking at, and (c) the Investigators are almost certainly going to be time-pressured in the study, given what’s going on in the basement.
If it seems to you like an unfair obfuscation to hide the connection between the painting and the book from the Investigators when they search Trammel’s study, assume that the painting does not have a plaque. If it becomes necessary, later, to connect the painting with its name, assume that one of the books in Savitree Sirkhan’s library either reproduces or describes the painting, and also names it.
Q: Is there any Locale where there is actually a street network of Nectar distributors?
A: None of the capital-L Locales demonstrates the kind of street trade that is presumed to exist in other cities and markets throughout the world. The implication is meant to be that the capital-L Locales with Major Mouths are the hubs to which any street investigations would ultimately lead back to anyway. As Nectar flows out of the Major Mouths, the local cult chapters quickly become distracted by their own vices and twisted motives, perhaps from their own exposure to the stuff. Every Nectar hub has either become involved in its own sordid business or, in the case of Malta, has tried to keep Nectar off its own streets so that it can actually function.
by Ruth, aka CthulhuChick
As someone who’d begun running Trail of Cthulhu this past year, Eternal Lies was already a temptation before I learned that my good friend Leah Huete would be doing some of the artwork. After that it became a must-buy and I began planning how I would run it. Unlike some Trail supplements, EL is a long campaign. Besides having a busy work/grad school semester ahead of me, I wasn’t sure I could find the players to commit, but about a dozen friends indicated their interest in playing at GenCon. So, I set about creating a 4-hour con game which would capture a snapshot of Eternal Lies without spoiling the campaign for the players, should they ever be interested.
I realized that to create a satisfying one-shot, I should use the materials to create 1) a problem, 2) a complication 3) a threat/red-herring and 4) a bizarre complication (the dream), 5) hints at a solution, 6) the horrifying reveal and final battle, and tie them all together into a simple plot.
SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know anything at all about the adventures in Eternal Lies, best skip the rest of this post.
First, I discarded the introductory frame story. This was no longer about a group of investigators who’ve been called in to help a wealthy woman uncover her father’s secrets. I made the adventure take place entirely in the environs of Savannah and created a character, Hierald Mendez, whom the investigators owed a favor. Two years earlier, at the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, they had all teamed up to fight an entity which was preying on unwary tourists. Detective Mendez, of the Savannah police department, had saved their lives in an unspecified way which left him without the use of his left hand.
Second, I made the withdrawal from Nectar a bit more dramatic. Savannah had seen a rash of disappearances–housewives, businessmen, factory workers (even though this was the Depression), and vagrants. Now junkies suffering from withdrawal were being found wandering naked back into town. Just 6 so far, but their symptoms were disturbing and they had to be drugged, with a possible lobotomy lurking in their future. This was enough to bring the investigators into Joy Grove, where they would meet up with Henslowe, who was terrified that the Mouth was talking again.
Third, I changed the backstory so that Edgar Job was dead and Samson Trammel had moved back South to live in Georgia. I gave them a shared tie with Henslowe and the two dead investigators at Miskatonic Business School, so that Trammel would have a reason to have Irish bodyguards (since the Mexican ones suited to California would not fit in well in Georgia). I cut out Ramon Echavarria entirely.
Outline of the Game
1) Savannah on the Ground
Sets up the problem, the connection with Mendez, and the need for the investigators to visit Joy Grove. When they arrived, I took a survey of which weapons and special objects any of them were carrying and gave them three choices of places to stay–a ritzy place in the good part of town (credit rating 5-7) with medium privacy, a nice bed-and-breakfast on the edge of town with a solicitous couple as hosts (credit rating 3-7), and a cheap hotel in a bad part of town where nobody pays too much attention to anyone (credit rating 1-7).
For later use, I researched local military establishments and discovered that Savannah’s Ft. Screven had its large guns decommissioned between WWI, when it was active, and WWII, when it was used for training. I decided that a great deal of its ordinance would end up in the basement of the central police station, so that the players would have reasonable access to explosives.
2) Joy Grove
Played out similarly to the game, with the addition of the 6 Nectar addicts. Edward Culver attacks them on their way to visit the addicts. When they’re heading back out to meet with Dr. Keaton, Douglas Henslowe approaches them with his story about how he thought they’d closed the mouth, but it’s re-opening now. Henslowe has marked himself with a mysterious sigil (I used the alchemical symbol for brimstone here) in ink and has painted it on his cell to ward against the mouth, but it doesn’t protect the rest of the Asylum. Keaton considers this “humoring” Henslowe. As I killed off Job, he can’t be encountered, but investigators may still see mouths while sneaking off to investigate and find a bit about Job in Henslowe’s file.
Played exactly as in the adventure.
Played exactly as in the adventure.
5) The Ruined Job Mansion
I combined elements from Henslowe’s mansion & the ruined farm in California to create this place. It has two main clue points. First, the ruined mansion is being used to store Nectar for further distribution. The investigators can find signs that there’s been more traffic than expected here. It can be found with a simple search, since no one had anticipated people coming out there.
Second, the accountant (from California, again) can be found here living in a carriage house. Initial questioning will only uncover that he used to work for the Job family, as his father had done. Evidence collection discovered the sigil painted in inconspicuous places in the room. It also notices ledgers which Accounting reveals are for rather large sums of inflow for sales of “vials” and “jugs.” There’s a note stuck in the ledger with “Atlanta: [next week's date].” Interrogation/Intimidation will get more out of the accountant, who’s not involved in the cult but getting well-paid to handle the Nectar business.
6) Trammel’s mansion
Played much like in the adventure, but with a Southern setting. Bodyguards are Irish. At the end of the adventure, they somehow encounter a dispatch from Bangkok about the mouth there, thus removing the closure they’d worked so hard to achieve. I decided to have them recover it from Trammel’s office and get it translated later–but if they’d not gone in there, it probably would’ve floated out of the exploding house to land at someone’s feet.
I invited a dozen friends to play in two time-slots. I figured that a few wouldn’t be able to come, leaving me with maybe 5 players in each slot, or fewer. Instead, I ended up with two people in the first game, and seven in the second. Oh dear. All but two were new to the Gumshoe system.
Thanks to the guide in the back of the main Trail of Cthulhu book, I was able to outline which skills were necessary, and which were helpful, to the adventure, and work from there. I also used the fantastic Pelgrane Press Black Book character generator to help me assign skills and save characters.
For the first game, I created two characters which covered the two major Trail archetypes. The first was a WWI veteran turned detective, to work in the necessary investigative and firearms/explosives experience. The second was a professor of occult folklore, which gave her Oral History and the rest of the useful skills the team needed. I assigned 24 investigative points to each character to make sure they could handle everything they needed to. It seems to have been a good balance, as some areas were running low at the end and others were fine.
For the second, I set the character generator to allow only 12 investigative points, as I was spreading them much more finely. I also split the skills into a number of overlapping professions: Professor of Anthropology/Journalist/Army Engineer/Alienist/Dilettante/PI/Retired Detective.
Two Very Different Runs
Not only was the two-player run a much smaller game, the players were very keyed in to the Trail premise that bringing out a gun meant someone might die. They did not want their characters to become killers and possibly have to deal with the repercussions. This made the game a bit of a challenge to run, as they were very cautious. I found myself railroading a bit at the end to hint that maybe they should check out the basement of Trammel’s mansion. I think this had to do as much with my expectations and goals for the session as with their play style.
I found the most interesting part of the two-player game their extreme caution regarding the thugs and the dream, two elements which are intended primarily to give an unsettling eerieness to the experience. The players decided that there must be a gang hunting them after the encounter with the thugs and spent the rest of the game on the run, even though I tried to convey that these ones were all locked up now. After her dream, the professor heated her knife, cauterized the mosquito bite, and drew the sigil all over her body, just to be safe. Both players were concerned about catching some sort of biting disease.
The seven-player game was much rowdier. Players brought an entire bottle of bourbon and a desire to shoot or whack things. For the most part, they went along with the planned adventure as the clues led them from one place to another. It certainly helped that I’d run the game before.
In each run, I found myself supplying extemporaneous information from the Nectar junkies, who were really just a ploy to introduce the investigators to the problem, then to Henslowe and his backstory. This lead to the on-the-fly creation of a factory, where one of them worked. It ended up proving useful in the large game, as half the party inspected the ruined Job mansion and half the factory. On the way back from the factory, I had that group encounter the thugs.
What I’d Change Next Time
My intention when writing the scenario had been to keep the exposure to the Nectar patients minimal, drug them heavily, and only use one for a brief come-on to demonstrate the sexual effects of the drug. It ended up being difficult for me to stonewall the players. While this didn’t lead to any problems, it means I need to either rethink the narrative way in which I could more forcefully stonewall them in future runs or come up with a small thread or even clue which can be garnered here. In the second game, I had a girl reference a character named Michael, who was later found at the Trammel mansion, which seemed to work.
I also realized, while playing, that this is the kind of game I’d only be truly comfortable running for friends. Because I knew my players and their boundaries and could judge their reactions, I didn’t find the sexual aspects of the Nectar problematic. I appreciated the writers’ decision to make it so passively-sexual that it could not be used as the basis for a rape. Still, when I run it for strangers, for their comfort and for mine, I will probably rewrite the one-shot to incorporate the Bangkok scenario. As a woman, I find it easier to negotiate through violence than through sexuality at a table.
Many kudos to Will Hindmarch, Jeff Tidball, and Jeremy Keller for the wealth of material they gave us to work with and to James Semple, for his score that I cycled through more times than I could count while preparing the one-shot.
Follow Ruth on Twitter at @cthulhuchick, and listen to her Weird Fiction podcast The Double Shadow.