Recently, people have taken to posting little summations of their CoC game
adventures. These things read, of course, like the "example of play"
sections from every role-playing system ever published: exciting, dramatic,
In a similar vein, I now present to you the highlights of the WORST CoC game
ever run, one in which at least half of the players had no idea who or what
Lovecraft was, and the remainder wondered why they couldn't memorize a couple
of magic missiles or fireballs...
- The cast of players were as follows: a tabloid scandal-sheet reporter
(me), a hard-bitten tough-as-nails detective a la Mike Hammer, an eccentric
professor of linguistics and antiquities, a bored-and-boring millionaire
playboy, and "a wizard" ("Where are you from?" "Dunno." "How did you come
to learn your terrible and sanity-shattering abilities?" "It's on my sheet.
Look, right here. He [pointing at Keeper] said I could have it...").
- The game begins with a phone call to the Detective from a man who says
he is acting as an agent for a very wealthy man who lives on a secluded
island off the coast of New York state, and would the detective please
come? Details would be given when he arrived, but a healthy retainer was
offered. Detective immediately calls all the "players" for no adequately
explored reason and invites them all to gatecrash a meeting with a
client. All, though most have no idea who the hell this Detective is,
accept - again, for no adequately explored reason.
- In a desperate attempt at injecting roleplay, Reporter bursts into the
Detective's office, sitting on the edge of his desk and "cracking wise."
Says he's been in the outer office listening on the secretary's line, and
knows there's a story in there somewhere, so, dammit, he better get
invited to this meeting. Detective objects and says he doesn't have a
secretary. Reporter, thinking quickly, accuses Detective of "hitting the
sauce again," and pulls a flask of cheap rotgut whiskey from Detective's
desk drawer. Detective frowns and whines: "Hey! You can't do that! I
don't drink. That's not really there! Hey, [looking at Keeper] he can't
do that, can he?"
- Players rendez-vous at Detective's office for trip to island. Reporter
boggles as he realizes there is enough firepower present to start, fight,
and win the Great War in Europe. Linguistics Professor arrives toting a
tommy gun and assorted pistols. Has, apparently, better marksmanship
than the Detective. Playboy has dynamite in his suitcase. Wizard comes
packing heat and wants to know when he can "memorize his spells."
- Players arrive at island and find requisite strange village with odd-
looking, flinty-eyed villagers. As the ferry runs only once every seven
days, we are effectively trapped. Residence of client, where we are to
stay, turns out to be sagging, run-down, and rambling mansion. Playboy
remarks jauntilly: "Boy, sure hope we don't meet any shoggoths. I hate
shoggoths." Playboy's Cthulhu Mythos score: 0%.
- Host is creepy older guy who insists we get settled before he discusses
the case. Is unsurprised to find entire crowd at his doorstep. Has,
apparently, multiple wives, which fails utterly to make impression on
- After dinner (Detective, cannily, refuses to eat anything under the
assumption that strange old guy could have poisoned the food) host
announces that we are to be informed of his case the following night,
that we are to have a good night's sleep first.
- Candles are snuffed, lanterns turned low, the household turns in.
Reporter knocks on doors, urging others to come and snoop around. Is
told to go away. Everyone except Reporter goes to sleep, ignoring strange
and irritating noises that fill the old house. Reporter, only unarmed
person in the whole group, spends the night shivering with the blankets
pulled up around his head and a weighty candlestick in his hand, eyes
nervously darting around the shadowy room. Other players snore blissfully
through the night.
- Next morning, players are told the host is unavailable, but will be
present at dinner. Reporter notes that he has only ever seen host at
night, never during day. Wives are also missing. Servants are unpleasant
- Players decide to go exploring. Wizard wants to know if there's any
"treasure" around, and what do we think the silverware is worth? Playboy,
Professor, and Detective go to the Strange Village to investigate.
Reporter snoops around the mansion, keeping eye on the servants to make
sure none of them check the other players' luggage, for fear of what
they'll do if they see all the weapons of mass destruction.
- Comparing notes before dinner, the following facts are ascertained: the
host and his wives are well-respected in the Strange Village. The Strange
Villagers are taciturn and resent any kind of intrusion into their
affairs. The host and his wives are never seen during the day. Reporter
becomes convinced host is a vampire, and makes sure he keeps a vial of
holy water he cleverly took with him on his person.
- Halfway through dinner, Reporter (blush) leaps up from his chair,
screaming: "Die, blood-sucking fiend!", unstoppers the vial of holy water
and hurls it on the host. The host gets wet. Reporter smiles nervously
and slinks back into his seat while everyone goggles at him. Reporter
makes apology and says something about working too hard these days.
- Host relates long, complicated story about Strange Occurances, Sinister
Happenings, et al. Since no one thought to take notes, at least half is
forgotten within minutes. All future references to the story goes along
the lines of: "Hey, didn't he say, you know, that thingy did something
to whats-his-name, and, you know?" "No, I think he said the other guy,
you know, they guy with the weird name, went and did that other thing
there." "What other thing?" "Dunno, weren't you listening either?"
- Another blissful night of sleep for rest of the players, another red-eyed
night of terror for the Reporter.
- Investigations the next day reveal nothing. Reporter decides to shake
things up in the hopes of jarring something loose. At dinner that night,
he declares that he's going to be out on a secluded beach that night,
taking pictures of the midnight sea. Reporter states that with these
pictures, he's sure he can convince some big company to come and build a
huge resort on the island. Host narrows his eyes and hisses that he
really thinks that would be a bad idea. Reporter, grinning, pretends
not to notice, and spends the rest of the evening talking about what
massive development the island can expect as the host seethes...
- That night, the Reporter grabs his camera, his flash powder, and a whole
pile of photographic plates. The players wish him good luck and get ready
for bed, telling him that he better be careful and geez, didn't he think
being out there all alone on the beach after what he said might be
dangerous? Reporter explodes, calling other players morons, and tells
them to grab their damn artillery and come with him. Players look at each
other, shrug, and concede.
- Reporter sets up camera on stand on the beach. Players stand beside him,
shuffling their feet, with weaponry hanging out all over. Reporter,
controlling his temper, suggests to the other players that this little
trap might be more successful if there wasn't a heavily-armed mob standing
guard on the beach, so perhaps they ought to go and bloody HIDE.
- Party leaves Reporter and advances into the trees. beyond the beach.
Keeper asks how far they go into the trees. Players confer and say and
say five feet. Keeper shrugs and informs Reporter he can see a heavily
armed mob standing just inside the line of trees. Reporter grits his
teeth and yells for the others to go farther back. Keeper asks how far
back they go. Players confer and say a quarter-mile. Reporter, unaware
that players are now out of both eyeshot and earshot, is relieved to be
unable to see the rest of the players, so well hidden are they.
- Hours pass, and a villager approaches from one end of the beach. Villager
stalks up to the Reporter and begins asking pointed questions about what
he's doing and is he alone. Reporter pretends complete ignorance and
announces he is quite alone, and will be out here all night. Villager
smiles evilly and advances on Reporter. Reporter shouts "Okay, get 'im
boys!" Villager leaps back, looking around warily. Reporter begins to
sweat as utter silence greets him. Villager grins again, and leaps at
Reporter. Reporter touches off huge charge of flash powder in Villager's
face and runs like hell. Villager staggers after him, shrieking "Aiii,
I'se blind! Aiiii!" Reporter arrives in mansion, panting, out of breath,
terrified, and bars the door. Spends third night sleepless with candle-
stick. Other players troop back in the morning, sneering: "Well, so much
for your great plan. Nothing happened all night."
- Party begins to systematically explore mansion, from top to bottom. In
the storm cellar, machine-gun toting professor finds a hole in the stone
wall behind a chest. Other players arrive, and find hole is large enough
to be crawled through, and the chest contains a huge treasure of gold
coins, jewels, silver goblets, etc. Wizard insists on counting it, coin
by coin, so we can "divide party treasure."
- Lanterns and flashlights in hand, party crawls into tunnel. Reporter
ensures that he is neither first in line, nor last.
- Reporter suddenly notices that the walls of the tunnel appear to have
been clawed out. Lose sanity, lose sanity. Reporter screams this
little fact out. Playboy (Cthulhy Mythos score: 0%) nods knowingly and
makes reference to Cthonians. The rest of the party shrugs and continues
into tunnel. Reporter pushes his way past the players with much shoving
and knees in kidneys, and exits tunnel.
- Long before the screaming and shooting starts, the Reporter has stolen the
car, driven to the dock, and bribed a fisherman to get him back to the
mainland. Reporter retires from Investigation business, never plays CoC
with these players again, and calls down the curses of a thousand mad
arabs on the incompetant Keeper.
| Andrew Nellis | ."When you see the crowd going one way, .
| firstname.lastname@example.org | . run like hell in the other direction." .
+-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-+ .................Charles Bukowski..........