Author Topic: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)  (Read 18112 times)

SageNytell

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Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« on: October 28, 2010, 09:15:42 PM »
Soooo... In one week, I've decided to run my first Call of Cthulhu game, write my first Call of Cthulhu game, and... teach myself the Call of Cthulhu system. Oh, and apparently there could be as many as eight players.

And the game is Saturday night.

Ahahahaha what have I done.

I'm not incredibly worried - I've listened to a lot of the recorded games, and I've been DMing various versions of D&D since 2001, so I'm not new to running games. But I've never done Call of Cthulhu, neither have any of the players - simple system, but still new. As far as I know, none of them are new to gaming, in fact most are part of my regular gaming group.

I have a few plans for moving things along - the scenario is very time-based, and I know what the cult is going to be doing at each half-hour mark, how their plan is proceeding, and how it can be influenced by the players.

I guess I'm looking for a few recommendations. Any suggestions on running a game for such a large group? I've thought about printing out little cards for each pregen to show their main skills a little bit easier, for weapons, and for any spells, so that constantly referencing the book won't be necessary. I also thought about trying to get some creepy public domain music (we record our sessions) if people start to drift, but I have no idea where to find what I'm looking for - sort of a Celtic-sounding drum loop and creepy flutes, for a fertility cult slowly preparing to summon their god. None of the 'free sound effect sites' seem to have what I was looking for - any good sites for that kind of thing?

Also, love the site! The RPPR crew has been awesome teachers in running better games!

The_Last_76

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2010, 09:24:18 PM »
I've found myself running games for 8-12 people lately, and you are spot on the nose with your first remark.

Quote
I've thought about printing out little cards for each pregen to show their main skills a little bit easier, for weapons, and for any spells, so that constantly referencing the book won't be necessary

Do this.  Make the character sheets as simple as possible.  Remember that you are running a one-shot, so you don't need to keep track of absolutely everything that know.  Hell, you can even simplify skills and just pick three or four for every character and say they get a +4 for tests related to that, and all others are based on ability modifiers.

If the game is time sensitive, do not be afraid to tell your players that.  If at all possible, it may even be beneficial to get a big ol' clock somewhere within line-of-site of the players and constantly reference it.

The biggest difficulty I've found with massive groups has been in-party conflict between characters.  Not a bad thing, mind you, but easily capable of becoming the focus of the session.  Be sure to keep it in check and never let it spill out into something that can not be controlled and put to a stop simply and efficiently.

Also, try to make sure everyone gets a say.  In big groups, it's easy for quiet players to get overlooked and ignored in favour of the more boisterous gamers.
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Dom

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2010, 09:36:48 PM »
Though the max I've run a game with was five people, here are some tips I'd give for keeping a large group on track:

Give them some time before the game to talk between themselves and socialize, while you explain the rules and such. People will want to make small chat if they are meeting up, so don't rugh the game on them and instead wait for things to quiet down before starting the game.

Make a social contract right from the beginning. Explain to the group that since this is a horror game humor and out of character discussion should be kept to a minimum. It might seem like a very small thing, but this will keep everyone on the same page and establish a ground rule.

Encourage note-writing for OOC conversation. This provides an alternative to table banter, and might actually work better with larger groups of people.

Try to always refer to players by their PC's name. Again, it's a small detail but it will help players get inside the mind of their character. Don't say "So what do you do now, Tom?" but instead "So what does Professor Moriarty do?"

Keep an eye for players who don't participate much and try to get them to participate. If they don't participate they might get bored and start talking outside the table. During the game, ask them "So what do you think of the plan?" or "What is your character doing during all this?" to get them interested in the game and their character.

EDIT: Also, if you are new to the system use the Keeper's Screen to have the rules on hand at all times and/or keep a cheat sheet handy for yourself and for the players.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2010, 09:46:49 PM by Dom »

Shallazar

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2010, 12:55:15 PM »
Run combat  in a clockwise or counter clockwise. With possibly eight  people you don't want to track DEX scores for them PLUS the NPCs.

Not unless you want to, but more players will get kinda pissed at this, loosing track of when their turn is and whatnot.

Be ready, it would be fitting if everyone dies, but some people can get really pissed if they are the only one that dies. Sometimes it just happens that the hobo under the stairs does max damage with a fucking table leg and kills the first person that steps in the basement.  Two minutes in and a Character is dead. WHAT DO YOU DO?  Have some shitty random pre-gens just in case. other wise, once the hobo kills the character, you are going to want to start killing everyone else, quickly.

As always a great old one, or a Cthonian can show up and annihilate everyone, or everyone can end up back in time fighting serpent people.

As for finding music http://www.jamendo.com/en/  should have some stuff on therrr.  Just make sure you use proper citation. OTHER ELSE!
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AmishNinja

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2010, 01:32:04 PM »
I am in the exact same situation as you, OP. Running a CoC game for the first time on Saturday night as a one shot, only for 5 players.

There are some great suggestions here - condensed character sheets, not rolling initiative (or set the initiative clockwise or by order of latest arrival to earliest arrival). If the scenario involves a lot of names/leads, maybe create reference sheet for the NPCs so that players don't forget who is who. Leave open space for the players to write down a collective list of people as the game goes on, if needed.

As for pre-generated characters - what I'm personally doing is rolling stats, spending most of the skill points and then leaving 100 or so skill points open for them to spend. In addition, I'm letting them name/come with the occupation for their character so it feels at least partially like it's theirs. I know I can work them into the game no matter what they decide to go with. Law enforcement/feds will be brought in on the case, and regular people will have some personal stake in the events.



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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2010, 12:53:23 PM »
With smaller numbers, 3/4/5, what I do for CoC one-shots is just condense the information on the character gen double page into just the basic rolls and have them do that bit (takes about 20 mins). I then present them with about 3 occupations and have them do that bit...depending on how familiar they are this can take between another 20mins to 40.

In my experience it does connect the players with their characters much more. So if you can spare the extra hour do so, here's what I present them with to save you the time of writing it out yourself. With 8 players however you should probably do it yourself but it doesn't hurt to give those players who think they can tackle it the option.

Roll 3d6 once each for STR, CON POW, DEX and APP.
Roll 2d6+6 once each for SIZ and INT
Roll 3d6+3 for EDU.

INT x 5= idea%
POW x 5= luck%  (keep a note of this number as it is also your starting Sanity).
EDU x 5= know%

(Con + Siz)/2 = HP(round up)
STR+SIZ then tell me the number.
Magic points = POW Score.

Edu x20 for profession skills
Int x10 for personal skills.

clockworkjoe

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2010, 04:56:46 PM »
I wrote an article for Knights of the Dinner Table about running for large groups in 2007 called Crowd Control. Issue 125. http://www.kenzerco.com/product_info.php?products_id=500

 

SageNytell

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2010, 02:17:16 AM »
Well, having run the game now...

Crowd control was muuuuch smoother than I anticipated. The problems were still there, and different ones than I had predicted, but overall I believe everything went fairly well.
The rundown of the prep:
I had figured out what skills each of the 12 pregens would use during the week, figured out how much leeway I was willing to give people in choosing their own skills, but I hadn't actually put pen to paper on the sheets themselves. "Surely I can write them up in only a few moments, all of the information is right here!"

Yeah, uh, like character creation has ever gone fast in any system that has variable, random stat generation. I had three less hours than I had originally budgeted today to work on things, so all of my cool prepwork ideas went for nothing. I had to finish prep while the players were actually here, and they ended up transferring most of the information to the sheets themselves. Lost about an hour and a half to that, but it sort of helped because the players picked up some knowledge of the skill system, which sped things up spectacularly.

The game itself:
No plan ever survives contact with the enemy. I know that, I knew that, I've known that since high school and when I stopped railroading as hard. I did not expect the players to be as focused as they all were, which actually ironically bogged things down a little. I expected them to try to do more than one thing at a time, not all focus on one area. I also didn't expect one player to steal a man's car, then try to run him over (and succeed) for chasing after him. Especially not a character who is an aspiring policeman. But eh.

The players were actually fairly subdued, which was both good and bad. No one got talked over, people were very respectful. But three of the 7 final players left about an hour before we quit because they were falling asleep. Gone, I suppose, are those halcyon days of staying up until 3 in the morning on a Saturday. Ah, youth.

The game went well, all the players expressed satisfaction, and nearly all expressed a desire to continue. The plot of the scenario itself is not nearly finished, and I believe it might turn into some sort of mini-campaign. I have a recording, so I'll have to review that sometime I'm not so exhausted. One guy who's played with us semi-regularly before was really excited about a mini-campaign, which in itself makes me feel like I achieved some part of the plan.

Oh, well, anyway... Ross, Tom, and the rest of the gang, thank you for inspiring me to pick up this system and give it a try. The players had a blast, and I actually legitimately managed to scare them out of game, so it was a good time all around. Next time, I'm aiming for at least one player crazy and one dead.  ;D

AmishNinja

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2010, 05:10:59 PM »
Sounds like you did a good job there, Sage. High five!

I'd also like to thank Tom and Ross for the Modern CoC/DG inspiration. I love the setting. My game overall went pretty well.

The Good

- Roleplaying. I gave one of the players a "psychological crimes expert" pre-gen, and he basically played him like Vince Masuka from Dexter except way more careless and "kick down the door" style. Another player played a czechoslovakian psychologist/interrogator that defected after the Cold War. They got really into it and had fun.
- Creepiness. Definitely felt like CoC in this aspect.
- Action. I wasn't aiming for pulp, but I definitely got some of that in the scenario. Combat was fairly intense for the players except when we hit pockets of roll, miss, roll miss that seemed to drag on.

The Not-So-Good

- One of the players kept playing solitaire on her laptop during the game. I feel like I should've established a "pay attention to the game even if the scene being played out doesn't directly relate to you" rule, in retrospect. It was kind of disarming/discouraging to see this. The player seemed otherwise interested in the game.
- I probably could've added more interesting personalities to rando NPCs/framed scenes a little better. Some of it felt a little dry.
- Some of the players (and me) weren't very big fans of CoC 6th Ed for a few reasons, one of them involving the tendency for combats to drag on past a certain point. Most of the characters had low firearms skills, so they missed a lot of shots. I also had to fudge a roll or two.

Conclusion: I want to try running Delta Green games using the Trail of Cthulhu ruleset instead of CoC core. It would circumvent the problem of "Clue Chokepoints", i.e. the agents cannot progress unless they succeed on X roll to find pivotal clue Y. I tried to use the Three Clue Rule to get around this but didn't have enough time to prepare it. I did end up having to fudge a couple of rolls, which made the exercise of asking for rolls seem pointless. Trail handles this dilemma quite well - any investigative skills your agents have automatically succeed in a scene, but they can spend points to gather information above and beyond what is required. I've experienced it in play firsthand and it is quite nice.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 05:13:23 PM by AmishNinja »

clockworkjoe

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2010, 05:39:31 PM »
CoC combat is usually very quick for me because of the point blank rule - get 10 feet or closer and your gun skill doubles

What scenario did you run>?

AmishNinja

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2010, 07:32:41 PM »
I ran 'Cult of One' out of the Secrets CoC Modern supplemental book. I made a couple of modifications to make it jive well as a DG intro, and to make the ending much better.

The point blank rule seems like a good idea - I'll keep it in mind if I run CoC core again.

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2010, 11:14:35 PM »
I ran 'Cult of One' out of the Secrets CoC Modern supplemental book. I made a couple of modifications to make it jive well as a DG intro, and to make the ending much better.

The point blank rule seems like a good idea - I'll keep it in mind if I run CoC core again.

it's in the rulebook so yeah.

Also, characters don't have many HP. I've never had a combat in CoC last as long as an average 3E or 4E fight.

Shallazar

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2010, 09:30:42 AM »
My players always max their guns skills, which is fine because they never recruit enough NPC fodder so its twelve cultists vs 4 PCs. Good odds.

Mostly people die in my games from falling.
Or from getting trapped in the mesozoic era.
Or from hobo's wielding table legs.
Or from fellow investigators summoning Servitors.
Or from the police.


(sorry, just having tons of fun running masks)

I totally support running a mini campaign in CoC. You could end it when everybody has died once, or with a TPK.
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AmishNinja

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2010, 12:16:01 PM »
Also, characters don't have many HP. I've never had a combat in CoC last as long as an average 3E or 4E fight.

That's true, especially when you get into critical hits. A cop character died from taking a 20 damage crit from a handgun towards the end of the game. But there was a grappling fight elsewhere that involved repeated missed head-butts going back and forth. Could happen with any system I suppose. It's just that some of the combat felt kinda... dry? Probably my fault/the scenario's fault. Fights were pretty straightforward and "kill/subdue this guy". At the end, though, they managed to blow up a car to save the day so that was cool. It just took a lot of dice rolling to get to that point because of all the botching.

Quote from: Shallazar
Mostly people die in my games from falling.
Or from getting trapped in the mesozoic era.
Or from hobo's wielding table legs.
Or from fellow investigators summoning Servitors.
Or from the police.

Damn. That's from Masks? A buddy of mine is supposed to run that next summer using Trail rules. Can't wait.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 12:19:47 PM by AmishNinja »

Shallazar

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Re: Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2010, 03:51:26 PM »
Totally get in on that, you won't regret it.
For some reason my brain refuses to figure out how the GUMSHOE system works. I know the basic premise, have skill find clue, target number four, point spends, but It isn't something that I can figure out how to pitch to my players.

I also mulled over running masks using Realms of Cthulhu (savage worlds) rules. Personally I'm glad i stuck with CoC. I'm thinking about adding about 20% to all enemy attack skills though... just to be a huge dick.
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