Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A REVIEW FOR RIPPLES FROM CARCOSA by Oscar Rios

The great thing about “Ripples From Carcosa” (hereinafter RFC) is that it covers three scenarios in three different settings which can be run individually or as a loosely tied campaign. Cynics will argue this is merely a means for Chaosium to make money but I'd counter with the fact that all three of these are engaging settings so why would you cheat yourself with such a limiting belief? Besides, you don't necessarily need to pick up the supplements to run each setting anyway.

The original RFC came out in 2005 as a monograph by Oscar Rios. Since then it has been revamped in preparation for the release of Call of Cthulhu RPG 7th edition which means this is a 7th edition set of scenarios, people. In addition, editing has put certain side chapters in better spots and there is more artwork as well as maps compared to the original monograph. In the back of this 135 page PDF are several handouts which include maps you can show to your players.

RFC starts with a brief introduction to Hastur, the Yellow Sign and various avatars and such which serve him. After each scenario there is a coverage of how Hastur is worshipped which include cults to suit the era and future adventure seeds. In the very back is a conversion table for those who wish to use an older edition rather than 7th edition.

In brief the three scenarios which are each about thirty pages cover Cthulhu Invictus (in which the Mythos meets the Ancient Roman era), Cthulhu Dark Ages (think early Middle Ages for Europe in which legends and fairy tales are tied into the Mythos) and The End Times Monograph (humanity has lost Earth to the Mythos in 23rd century and struggles to survive).
Interior Art by Bradley McDevitt, Marco Morte, and Erik York
CTHULHU INVICTUS SCENARIO: the players play mostly regular Roman citizens on holiday with their children when something obviously horrible happens (don't give me that look you knew this was coming). What ensues after a false lull of vacationing becomes something of survival horror mixed in with a driving quest. There's a good map overview of the resort town and I like how Oscar Rios spent time evoking the era of Ancient Rome especially with little details that tell you he has a true love for the era. For this particular scenario the clue trails are fairly straight forward but the means to how various people lose their sanity are close to golden. 
 
This is arguably the most straight forward scenario of the three. I would recommend it for new groups to the Mythos. The objectives are easily understood and the clue trails to get to the end are easy enough yet arguably moderately hard for those completely new to this type of tabletop gaming. For a new group the keeper needs to decide if he/she will tone down the chance for a total party kill or keep it as is. 
 
CTHULHU DARK AGES SCENARIO: Saxon England has recently been conquered by the Normans and a Norman lord charges the players with investigating a bard of the Saxon people who feels wronged by a broken agreement. It all seems harmless at first but that's how some of these scenarios open up, right?
Interior Art by Bradley McDevitt, Marco Morte, and Erik York
Of the three scenarios this is arguably the most mind bending in reality so be prepared to give vivid descriptions to your players. In addition, the players will be doing a great deal of traveling through the fiefdom. This one also has a nice play on the Carcosa mythology. 

I would recommend this especially for keepers who have players who typically do fantasy gaming though warn them it will be different even if familiar in some instances.  
 
Clue trails are moderately difficult with a wide variety of different endings.
Interior Art by Bradley McDevitt, Marco Morte, and Erik York
END TIMES MONOGRAPH SCENARIO: the PCs play humans on a space cruiser when they meet an enemy ship and encounter startling information which could end the remaining humans once and for all. The nice part of scenario is that I rarely get to run Cthulhu scenarios in space. In addition, there's a really nice idea tied into a virtual reality in which the players must travel into it to fix a problem and along the way they get to experience the last days of Earth before it falls. Nice build on the Hastur Mythos as well as a few others that I cannot mention without moderate spoilers.

The clue trails are moderate as the players have more options and a variety of choices. For gamers not familiar with Science Fiction this might very well be the most difficult of the three.
Interior Art by Bradley McDevitt, Marco Morte, and Erik York
Overall, the strength of this 7E product is that you get to experience three Mythos eras outside of the standard 1920s and then if you like any of them you can decide if you wish to invest in the supplements. Additionally, the ideas within those scenarios and the adventure seeds could potentially give you a campaign and arguably you don't need the supplements if money is tight for you. Lastly, you get three scenarios written by Oscar Rios who in my opinion is one of the top five writers in the last ten years for Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu RPG line.

What's not to like?





Sunday, June 08, 2014

2014 KUBLACON MINI-REVIEW


OVERALL GRADE FOR KUBLA 2014: B to B plus.



For those just looking at the pics remember you can double click on one of them to get a manual slideshow. Pics get larger, too. 

Great shot taken by Saul M. This is the atrium level where a lot of official board games take place but there's room for open gaming. It is arguably the loudest section of the convention.


A solid and fun con this year. I plan to return in 2015, obviously.

An awesome picture I got from the Kublacon Conquers FB group.


I mention a lot of people in this post. Look for yourself if interested. 







THURSDAY: an early evening run by Colin Dimock before Kubla officially started (this was the game he ran Sunday night at Kubla). Great fun and I was jazzed up on so much caffeine and adrenaline I went to the gym and got about 4 hours of sleep before having to get up for Friday sign ups.

Colin's crayon sketches. What does it mean? Double rainbow?



Duane O showed up sometime between that game on the way up to his room.




FRIDAY: a lot of standing in line talking with Mike H, Scott M and a few others coming and going. Lots of board gaming chats. Other gamers we met were quite friendly.

I played in Colin's other game with Scott M, Jill S and a guy who was really amusing as a cat doing charades (I think his name was Joe). Yet another fun Colin game and with a group that elevated the gaming consciousness at the table which is rare at any convention.


I played the wife to the doomed horror writer. It turned out to be better than I thought as I felt at first she would be the most passive character.

The suite was empty thereafter so I got a BSG board game going with Mike G., Greg G. and Jonathan. Even though Kubla is the largest con we didn't have much luck getting people so Celesticon has the golden gloves for getting BSG players IMO but I digress.

BTW, for those who don't know this board game was based on a popular SciFi series titled "Battlestar Galactica" (it was a refresh of a previous TV series). You can see info about it here and for shame that you do not know about it:

http://en.battlestarwiki.org/wiki/Portal:Battlestar_Galactica_%28RDM%29

The humans had not even jumped once when they got hit by technically three fleets (it was two but there was a third I was able to put at the bottom of the deck per a special Boomer power). You need to 4-6 jumps on average as the humans to win the game.

When it's this hectic you put out drone fighters to absorb attacks and protect the colonials.

Who is the Cylon?

Mike G was Baltar, I was Boomer, Greg was Lee Adama and Jonathan was Caine. Even though the rules make it easier for Baltar and Boomer to become Cylons that wasn't the case here. The only Cylon on the board for the entire game was Caine who got her card in the early part of the game. Such is the stuff!



We had two jumps left (in the middle of one) and the stats were really low.


It was tight as the humans got out with 1 morale and had been desperately hanging at that number for several turns. An early jump gave them victory. 
 


Our Cylon opponent was rightly trying to hit morale in the very last jump track. He almost got us, too. Those are the best games when it's this tight.

The tightest point was just before we moved up the jump track to suffering a -1 population if we jumped early. We were at 3 population and didn't want to take a chance on a -3 hit so we waited and breathed in relief when we didn't get a resource hit. We jumped at a -1 possible loss but as you can see by the cards we did fine even though it wasn't needed.


That game ended way after 3AM and I didn't get to sleep until about 5AM. That run had Greg G, Michael G (first timer who had a victory) and a guy named Jonathan who turned out to be the only Cylon (the humans were doing so bad at the midpoint he didn't need any help at that point per the rules . . . we had almost 3 fleets on us before the humans made their first jump).


SATURDAY: my alarm went off at 8AM for a 10 hour Republic of Rome board game and I promptly turned it off and went back to sleep. 



Too bad as I really wanted to play that game but my body wasn't willing. I made the mistake of checking emails and doing some busy stuff when I arguably should have gone to the con to socialize. I did exchange over 100 texts in my defense but I guess dates don't count so make that about 25 from gamers.

That evening I played in Gil T's game as the one and only Gunny. 


Gunny was the old, flabby veteran from WWI. I liked playing him as just about everyone else was much younger than him.








My favorite part was Gil doing Gunny's favorite bastard son because it eventually tied in with Dovi's character connection to me. I wasn't expecting that at all. Got out after 4AM and to sleep about 6AM.






Also played with Morgan H, Morgan J, Ryan R and Joel.

Joel's character who made the ultimate sacrifice . .. even if he was a boxing punk. :)

My best roll throughout the night. I think this one sort of saved me, too, but since I was the "talkie" I knew I wouldn't be in the front lines of the front lines.


SUNDAY: blew off Napoleonic Wars at 10AM as I had an evening pickup COC goo game that Nick offered to run up on the atrium level. No way I could do both (there's this thing called sleep ya know) and I still had Monday for running my game.

Morning games definitely were not on the menu for Kubla this year.

I played Art Wallis twice. I may need some therapy after the con.



Nick ran a fun game and I was able to play with Basil B, Matt S and Dave S (sorry, Ralph W and all the others who tried to crash it). It may have been the first time I got to see Matt S kill Basil B.



Hippy chicks. I'll take the one on the right, please. Thank you, Mythos.



Finally saw Saul M and his clan board gaming on the atrium level. Also saw Paul B, Sean P and Scott B.

Sunday night as the convention begins to wind down. This was at about Midnight the earliest I left the convention so far.

I was tempted to wander after Nick's game but stayed away from the hot areas as I knew that if I did so I'd be awake past 4AM like the Dundracon 2014 and I didn't want to run into Jesus Christ again since Ezra wasn't there to make a quip (see my Dundracon 2014 blog for more info on that sighting).



MONDAY: I ran my COC game as late as possible which meant 11am. I was able to socialize a bit with Tye and Melissa while on break from the players when they were going over their characters. 

What's on my mind? When not job hunting, I keep thinking about how much I love and miss Table Top RPG's (no LOCAL current group to game with). It was The Mr. Kevin D that introduced me to RPG's (Dungeons & Dragons to be precise) and ever since then, I have always been hooked. I am just so very grateful that I have Shannon Mac as a friend. Shannon, if it were not for your awesome games that you run at the Cons, I think I would go through a mad gamer separation like depression. And that's what's on this nutty mind of mine at this moment. 

----------- Victor C.

 


The hand of Jason M. declares a vote on a most crucial matter.



Speaking of which 3 of my sign ups didn't show which was absolutely awesome because three people I game with regularly took their seats. As a result I knew 5 of the 6 players (David and Tracey J, Jason M, Cro and Viktor C) and they did quite well and threw a few surprises my way which is why I keep running this game (probably going to do it a couple of times in the summer with some regulars who have yet to play it and some unknowns). I handed out various prizes which also included those from Chaosium (thanks, Nick).

Different angles of the private suite I gamed in on Monday.



Morgan H came in to watch the last 90 minutes of the game, read the notes being passed around secretly by the players and then thereafter we chatted about the con and what makes an “A” game before he took off. Incidentally, a majority of players stuck around to talk about the game which is always a good sign they enjoyed it.

Another great photo from the FB Kublacon Conquers Facebook group.
Tried to link up with Matt S but he was still running. I got into a Kickstarter card game similar to Cards Against Humanity but cleaner with about 10 other people including Nick S, Colin D, the Crow and Alicia H.


That's my "short review" for now. I spoke about a longer one but I'm going to keep it relatively short as I'm busy with other projects.