Saturday, July 3, 2010

Now For Something Different

I have written, and will continue to write, mostly about D&D4e here. No surprise. It's my game of choice in the last couple of years. Hell, in the last couple of years, I've not played much else. Some Shadowrun, some Star Wars Saga Edition (which is only a small step from D&D4e anyway), and precious little else. That's not to say that I don't like other games. Gods, I have a lot of games that I want to be playing. So I was pretty excited when my local group that plays on Friday decided to play Call of Cthulhu every other week, alternating with the D&D4e game that I'm running. I haven't played Call of Cthulhu since 2002, not long after I bought my first core rulebook. It's only a short campaign, designed to take us to when Dark Sun comes out, but sometimes that's the best kind of campaign, no matter the game.

It's such a refreshing change to play Call of Cthulhu after all the other games I've played in recent years. We've had no combat. At all. It's seemed likely at a couple of points, but instead it's stuck to some fun investigation and socializing. A lot of good roleplaying from everybody. I'm playing up the quirky and poorly paid borderline-community college professor quite a lot. For example, I gave the students in one of my classes a 15 page paper just because I needed to spend time reading the journal of a dead architecture student.

The story so far is that we're in 2008. A bunch of us from different walks of life have become friends from hanging out at a kind of strange, but fun, bar called the Muddy Pig. An acquaintance/friend, a professor from a nearby college, came into the bar one night seriously upset. A student that he had known had died after throwing himself out of his 7th story window. We (meaning the other players as I was on vacation in Canada for this session) offered to look into the apparent suicide for the professor and pretty quickly started noticing some things that didn't add up. As we've dug further, things have made less and less sense. The student's father has been acting very oddly. The things the student was researching were quite odd. We've run into strange symbols. Even the building where the student had lived had a history that got our attention. Now, someone who was warning us away from this whole thing has turned up dead and in a highly public fashion. Our only hope is to get to the bottom of it as fast as possible before even worse things happen.

Surprisingly tense moments or at least worried moments despite the lack of combat, which is the joys of Call of Cthulhu. One of the few games where you get worried just when you're about to start reading a book, of all things. I admit, it's a lot harder for me to get creeped out or scared during a CoC game. I've read the rulebook, I've read a lot of Lovecraft fiction, I'm pretty familiar with the Mythos, and so on. All of the other players aren't, so it's all new to them, which makes it creepier and scarier for them. That said, our GM Derrick does such a good job that even I feel the tension. And it's only going to increase. Right now we're still just scratching the surface with our investigation.

I can't wait to play again and that's, I think, the sign of a good game.