And so it came to pass Kai attempted to run Trail of Cthulhu role-playing game which he bought at DriveThruRPG. For a demo run, he also purchased The Watchers In the Sky scenario. All he needed were volunteers to run through the scenario who would sacrifice their sanity for the game.
There emerged seven ill-fated volunteers.
Trail of Cthulhu allows player to create characters that investigate mysteries that is usually caused by Things Man Was Not To Be Known, based on the horror stories by H.P. Lovecraft set in the 1930s. Cults that worship unspeakable horrors from ancient past hide under the thin veneer of civilisation. Also, creatures with unholy and incomprehensible minds beset the earth from the space beyond, working strange designs and experiments that might signal the end of humanity. The difficult part is of course your characters are compelled to investigate to uncover the truth behind strange happenings in the ’30s… and the more you uncover the more sanity you lose.
The game uses the GUMSHOE system, which is quite simple and allows for spending of points to discover clues for your Investigative Abilities, since discovering clues is important in the characters finding themselves at a dead end narratively speaking and floundering at what to do next. You only roll General Abilities tests using one D6 against a basic target number of 4 (which can vary according to exact conditions of the test).
Seven players make up our party for The Watchers in the Sky scenario by Graham Walmsley. Describing the entire game would reveal spoilers to those who hasn’t played it yet, so I wont tell what happened.
It is early 1933 in England. Seven individuals, each with a connection to Brichester University, ranging from janitor to alienist to geologist are brought together by peculiar events and findings involving black birds that seems to have been physically altered. I played the biologist Dr. Andrea Parker who also had a young graduate student Helen Howell who acts as her assistant. The assistant tags along in character to do anything Dr. Parker tells her to do to get an A in her biology thesis – including perform surgery on one of the strange birds which causes… Wait! I believe I’ve said too much.
In any case, the investigation leads the group to the Lake District and a remote village with a dark past.
All I can say is that although the GM had to rail-road a bit to complete the entire scenario in an afternoon, it was enjoyable. Our characters’ Drives and Pillars of Sanity ensure they stay in character – which also means we go deeper and deeper into understanding the horrific mystery. It was a matter of who lost Sanity first (which triggers a nice little Fight or Flight reaction) and when the scenario ended I did have a feeling of mild horror at the occurrences in it.
It was fun!