Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cthulhu-palooza: No Man's Land

This past weekend was our first monthly game for year. This session was at "The Lodge" at Nate's place in South Allentown and to avoid logistical nightmares, I decided a double-shot of Call of Cthulhu was in order.

Our cast:
Nate - it's his house
Nichols - with his phone and computer on the fritz, I called him 10 minutes into the session. He still showed up.
Scott - sans child. The gloves came off.
Steve - who brought his friend, best man, and Axis and Allies partner Jeff.
Jeff had tagged along with us for last year's Cold Wars and was up for the weekend, so I surely wasn't going to complain.

First, I finished up part two No Man's Land. We had played part one last summer and had 33% casualties. If I could have scrounged a few more players I would have set up another missing squad encountering the "enlightened" squad, but that was all for naught.

After a quick refresher of the first half, and handing out surviving PCs, the squad encountered one lost solider (Nichols), ran afoul of French villagers, discovered true evil across the land, and (my favorite) after all was said and done, reported to their battalion CO and Major Charles Whittlesly personally ordered them bound and confined for their own protection. "Walking Dead, they've clearly gone mad out there!" Fortunately Captain McMurty decided the PCs were more productive released, so long as they knew which way to point their bayonets.

Ultimately, the big final battle ensued, the players realized how much their characters combat stats sucked (even Grimm, the lone career soldier PC couldn't shoot the broadside of a barn). They found the big bad evil and somehow vanquished it. 60% casualties this scenario, with the veteren Corporal Grimm and Earl Martin surviving. Suprisingly, in the convention rules, Earl was slated as an NPC and scheduled to die halfway through session two, so kudos to Steve, who played him very well.

I read/heard negative reviews of No Man's Land. Basically poor scenario writing. Versus the other CoC anthologies and mega-campaigns, yes it is. But as a convention scenario turned published book, it covers an interesting period, it has sufficient additional info for a Keeper to run a Great War - era game, and my personal favorite, over 80% of the san loss between both sessions could be chalked up to the horrors of war, versus the normal mythos-related ones.

The reality man makes for himself can shake his soul just as well as any unimaginable horror lurking in the shadows.

FYI: No Man's Land is still available on the chaosium.com web site as a PDF file. I've owned my hardcopy since 2000, and the only free Chaosium swag I get is if I get a winning raffle ticket at a gaming convention.