Since we’ve got enough ‘not currently playing’ RPG-folks here, I thought I’d share some of my list of RPG campaigns I’d love to run. My RPG Bucket List as it were. This will be a mix of home-brew and printed material: I’ll avoid spoilers for the latter, but some of the stuff I’m going to list may be 20+ years old, so you’ve had time to do the reading assignment!
I’m going for a single campaign per post: Please feel free to ask questions, comment, or add your own.
First up: Beyond the Mountains of Madness (Call of Cthulhu rpg)
This is one of the ‘big campaigns’ that have been produced for the Call of Cthulhu RPG, and I think it’s less well known than the Mask of Nyarlathotep adventure, but it’s still one I’d like to run if I had the chance. Basically, The Mountains of Madness is one of the better Lovecraft stories (and longer, too) combining a long trek to Antarctica with discovery of alien entities. It’s where Lovecraft pivoted from ‘fantasy’ to ‘sci-fi’ in many ways.
The adventure is based around a follow-up expedition to find out what really happened with the first expedition, which means the players can read the original story without being too spoiled. They’ll know what they’re going to run into, but in very vague terms.The PCs are part of one of three expeditions, and must deal with natural challenges of adventuring in the arctic as well as mythos weirdness. It’s set in the 1930s.
Adventurers Needed: Player Characters are heavy on field scientist types and people who’d make sense on a months-long antarctic expedition. Lots of room for geologists, biologists, and similar. Also mechanics, pilots, and even dog-handlers. I think I could stretch this, as one valid reason to join the expedition is “supplied a wad of cash.” One archetype I’d suggest is a gangster who needs to get away for a while, and buys his or her way into the voyage because a few months at sea sounds like a better deal than watching one’s back in NYC.
Risks and Caveats: There’s a few concerns. One is that the opening of the adventure is written is heavy on ‘mundane’ challenges: It’s a slow burn to the alien entities and horrors of the later acts. I might resolve this by inserting short character-specific vignettes into the first act: If PC1 is a medical doctor who’s seen too much I might run a short scene where the other PCs jump in to fill-in roles as we play through the doctor’s horrifying experience.
Also, one of gaming’s historic threats: girls. By that, I mean that while the writers did an admirable job making it so female characters are viable and should be included, it’d be more difficult if I was in the unlikely situation of having more than a couple. (There’s basically a small subplot where the expedition leader insists on having a woman on the expedition because another expedition has one.) Plus the
redshirts ship’s crew are canonically all male, so finding a replacement character for some women players would be tough: There’s only a few rare options to insert new characters that aren’t inspired by the crew. The adventure does, generally, take the view that sexism and racism are stupid and not to be admired, but does use them as character flaws in places.
Finally the version I have (in PDF) is an edition behind, and I think i’d prefer the newest version of CoC as it cleans up some weirdness (in mechanics) and adds some fun ‘stuff’ for PCs. (There’s a neat new rule for ‘pushing’ roles where you can re-roll a failed roll, but if you fail you take penalties. For example, if you try to shoulder a door down and fail, you can reroll but if you fail this time you might hurt your arm. Try to research a tome while crazy and fail, you can push it but if you fail you might cast something you didn’t intend to or eat the book.) Version tweaking shouldn’t be too hard as CoC has evolved slowly over time but is still broadly similar.
In addition to flashbacks and version upgrades, I’d also want to use a service like Slack or a forum for this specific campaign: A big part is the PCs should be able to discuss their plans as well as looking at the ‘exhibits’ the adventure presents: Maps, images of artifacts discovered, even inventories of storage holds and such.
I do feel the adventure might be a bit slow-moving for some players, too. Another reason for the flashbacks I suggest.