The Haunting

Oh God! It's too terrible to behold!

Last night the current line-up of our roleplaying group ¡Lados oñ Touros! (which at the moment consists of myself, Laura, Barrett, Dave and new addition Sean, what with the mysterious disappearances of Binky and Jenni to ‘university’) played our first game of Call of Cthulhu. I assumed the role of Keeper for the evening, and as previously mentioned on this blog we ran the very first pre-constructed, introductory scenario included in the back of the 6th edition rule book The Haunting, which has been published several times before as The Haunted House.

The intrepid band of investigators consisted of:

  • Thomas Cooper – a travelling missionary and widower. Also a drunkard, the combination of booze and grief has sent him on his nomadic path and led him, perhaps subconsciously, into many potentially self-destructive situations concerning the occult. (Played by Dave)
  • Joe ‘Mac’ McGraw – a mechanic from Arkham, the kind of man who is ‘known to the police’ but nothing’s ever been proven. He definitely tapdances all over the line separating what is legal from what is not, in the words of the player, ‘He doesn’t own a  gun license, but he does own a file.’ (Played by Barrett)
  • Henry Jones – a down-and-out Private Eye, not completely adverse to bending the rules if it means getting the job done, he is struggling to pay off a string of collapsed marriages and is hired to lend a vague semblance of authority to the investigation. (Played by Sean)
  • Eliza Grey – a young aspiring journalist working for the Jersey Tribune. The newspaper tends to focus on the weird and wonderful, and is an outlet for conspiracy theorists. She more-or-less invited herself along, spotting a potential scoop, even though she herself does not believe in most of the ‘spooky’ mumbo jumbo her editor publishes. (Played by Laura)

Spooky.

The setting is 1920’s Boston, and the landlord of an old house with a chequered past of illness, insanity, suicide and violence (that he picked up on the cheap because of the history) has requested the help of the investigators as the house has just recently evicted its most recent tenants in a similarly inexplicable manner. The players all got on with the system pretty well (easier for those who have played any oWoD stuff, like Barrett) and generally got the hang of the actual ‘investigation’ part of the scenario pretty quickly. Then we reached the house itself and after a few mysterious goings on (and some incredibly unlucky rolls for Sean’s character)…

This is about how well they did.

Two characters died, and two ran away (one before the fighting even really started). Saying that, however, the evening wasn’t really a fail at all. In Lovecraft country, people are not invincible, fearless heroes. They run away if they sense serious trouble, they lose their sanity to things beyond their comprehension, and they get hurt and die. The fact that Laura’s naïve young journalist ran away at the sight of a grim corpse after already facing down a possessed floating knife and swarms of rats isn’t exactly out of character. Equally, it makes sense for Barrett’s slightly shady ‘looks-out-only-for-himself’ character to realise when to cut his losses and screw the consequences for other people. That Dave’s basically alcoholic character was easily confused by the magical attacks of the thing in the basement and as a result stood little chance also worked out just fine.

In wrapping up, Laura decided that her character would have fled straight to the police and tried to explain everything, almost certainly netting her a trip to the very same Roxbury Sanitarium we had visited earlier in the evening, whilst Barrett’s investigator would almost certainly have enough underworld connections to disappear effectively. Finally, everyone enjoyed themselves which is always the main focus! Working on my own scenario next… oh boy…

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