I arrived promptly at 11 AM to make sure I snagged a spot in one of the CoC sessions, and spent the next several hours playing Lionel Price, a burly writer who was quite convinced most of the shenanigans of the scenario could be explained away as the actions of a rampaging bear (later amended to “a bear and a boa-constrictor working together”). Alas, poor Mr. Price’s bear theory proved to be horribly wrong and I became the first PC casualty of the game.
It’s been far, far too long since I played Call of Cthulhu, but the mechanics are so simple to remember, I was back in the swing of things in minutes. If I had any difficulty at all, it was that I was hesitant to rely on the use of skills to resolve anything. I kept asking probing questions or double-checking the scant evidence we accumulated to see if we overlooked something critical instead. It’s been so long since I played a skill-based RPG that I kept forgetting you were supposed to use those things once in awhile. No matter though; skills wouldn’t have saved me from the tentacle/maw combo that ingested our budding writer.
The scenario we played was entitled “Engine Trouble,” and will be appearing in an upcoming publication from Miskatonic River Press. The scenario’s author and MRP President, Tom Lynch, acted as our Keeper for the game. I won’t say much about the story other than it started with a blocked bridge, a corpse, and a thunderstorm, and progressed quickly downhill from there. It was surprisingly combat-heavy for a classic era CoC game, which surprised me. Reexamining it, however, I see that that was probably for the best for a one-off game store run, but I’m still more used to slow, methodical investigation followed by sudden violence, insanity, and death when it come to CoC.
However, my main problem with the afternoon was not the scenario, the TPK that it ended in, or the more violence than expected. Instead, I was unlucky enough to have to endure the session with the type of gamer I detest more than any other you’d care to mention: the pedantic loud-mouth.
I’d rather sit next to the socially inept gamer who smells like cat piss than have to play with a PLM. To make matters even more unpleasant, this particular PLM is one of the owners of the store – a fact which had escaped me up until today. I’d seen him in there from time to time before, but took him to be one of the usual social flotsam and jetsam that accumulate in such establishments.
So instead of having a great game with the four guys we had started off with (PLM was a late comer), I had to listen to this ass spout wisdom on such topic as the mechanics of a 1920’s engine and ninjutsu, and have the unwelcome revelation that he had predetermined that he’d be the hero of the scenario minutes after he joined in. A role he was so determined to fulfill that he actually shot one of the investigators (the cop) in order to get back possession of the scenario’s MacGuffin.
I had to pause here a minute before continuing because only by writing about it did I realize how much this guy grinded my gears today. I’m usually a pretty laid-back guy and I’ve been around the block enough times to realize there will always be these types of social misfits in the hobby. Goddamnit though, I hate it when stereotypes prove they’re based on fact. It’s because of people like this that I keep my participation in this hobby quiet more than anything else. It’s also one of the reasons I don’t play in more pick-up games. I hate to have to game with people like this more than once a decade or so. I take some solace in the fact that the cop shot the PLM in return, killing his character and removing any chance of him doing anything worthwhile to stop Armageddon and be the hero of the hour.
OK, moving on.
Other than PLM, I had a good time and it was nice to while away the afternoon in 1920s New England (a time and place I’ve expressed a fondness for in the past) rather than a gloomy dungeon set in a pseudo-medieval realm. Once Miskatonic River Press releases the book with “Engine Trouble” in it, I’ll probably be moved to pick up a copy of my own, if only to find out everything that was going on during that stormy autumn night along the Aylesbury Turnpike. In fact, today was enough of a reminder of how much fun CoC can be that I’d even consider playing in a semi-regular CoC game group. It sounded like there were some rumblings about getting one together at the game shop yesterday.
Unfortunately, it also sounded like the pedantic loud-mouth would be playing in those.