Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Outer Presence - playtest #1


This investigative horror scenario was born here.  Got to keep this short.  Busy, busy, busy!  Also, this session report will be short on details - spoiler free, it's called these days.  ;)

Below are the players and their characters.  I told them to create a character concept instead of going through the motions using Call of Cthulhu or something similar.  Interestingly, none of the characters were scientists, explorers, or even academics.  For an inexperienced Game Master, this probably would have led to either GM interference or crying.  I decided to massage their entry into the story.  Seemed to work well, no one mentioned anything.

Oh yeah, I also decided on the 1970's.  Not only is it a compromise between the 1920's / 30's and present day, but I was going for a Cannibal Holocaust type thing.

Tim Virnig:  "Lang"; grew up wealthy; father founder and editor of Gazette newspaper; supposed to follow in his father's footsteps; instead, photographer of B-list celebrities and scandals; in free time, hoping to write mystery novel; also hoping to be a news reporter.

Jeff Adamus:  He played Jeff.  Photography print shop owner; advertising, pop culture, and band/music enthusiast; owns a couple cats; band and business promotion with marketing specialty.

Russell Reed:  Frank Smith; writer; reporter; disco dancing freak; reveals corruption; wants to write detective novels.

Kent Nedland:  Vince O'Donald; accountant; believes world can be placed in a monetary paradigm; scrawny dude; pocket calculator; # crunching.

Marie Nedland:  Susan Thompson; tech person; plays poker and goes dancing; wants to fix the disparity between rich and poor.


Somehow, I turned a desperate need for more explorers into a desperate need for publicity now that the first expedition was such a success (not really a success).  The players were all game and they roleplayed their involvement extremely well.

Clues led them to believe that this wasn't just a fun, all expense-paid tax write-off.  For instance, a couple investigators found a hand-written note telling them that the expedition's last telegram should be shredded so that no one can learn the truth!

Onto New Guinea!  Their host was a piece of work.  I really wanted to push the envelope with what players and PCs might expect from the scenario's principle antagonist.  He pushed a lot of buttons and made everyone hate him.  PCs didn't actually vomit... but they wanted to.  Incidentally, the actor Sidney Greenstreet was my inspiration for Doctor Karl Steiner.

Exploring the temple!  Over the last few years, I've been on the jungle cruise at Disney World's Magic Kingdom probably a dozen times.  The part when the boat goes into that dark structure was the basis for my temple.  Could have been more detailed, but I think it was successful on the whole.

Two investigators went temporarily insane, none died.  Was the world saved?  Perhaps...

The timing went extremely well.  Including 15 min. of character creation, the entire scenario took 2 hours and 55 minutes to resolve.  Good thing as two players had to leave just as we'd finished the game.  The first hour involved the set-up, including arrival.  The second hour involved getting a lay of the land, interacting with the people, and learning what the scenario was really about.  The third and final hour involved exploring the next location, learning the truth, and final resolution.

Probably won't get around to publishing it for awhile as I already have two irons in the fire: the Game Mastering book and Crimson Dragon Slayer, my very own OSR rule-set.  Both will be available this summer!  Check out the g+ community for CDS here.  The support, feedback, and even playtesting (!!!) that I've received since mentioning the idea weeks ago has overwhelmed me with happiness and enthusiasm.  Thanks, everyone!

VS