Quick thoughts on Mansions of Madness Boardgame

20 Oct

The other night, I had the opportunity to play Mansions of Madness, Fantasy Flight Games’ Call of Cthulhu-style boardgame. Being both a boardgamer and roleplayer I was keen to see what this hybrid game was like. With a boardgame’s miniatures, sight-lines, cards and tokens and an RPG-like gamemaster (actually called a ‘Keeper’ ), narrative and player characters possessing customisable skills it clearly has a foot in each camp. Ultimately this central premise is also its central flaw. It tries to live in both worlds and ultimately fails at both.

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Madness at Miskatonic: Revised and updated!

6 Oct

Thanks to the kind work of Joe Adams, Madness and Miskatonic has been proofed by a fresh set of eyes. I have updated it accordingly:

Madness at Miskatonic: US Letter (Revised) 11.2 MB PDF

Madness at Miskatonic: US letter with A4 Cover (Revised) 11.2 MB PDF

Madness at Miskatonic: US Letter Version 3 (8.1MB)

Madness at Miskatonic with A4 cover Version 3 (8.3MB)

Joe was kind enough to contact me about a few continuity issues via the Yog-Sothoth forums which then evolved into his offering to proof the whole document. Thanks Joe! It never ceases to amaze me the sense of community out there particularly when it comes to Call of Cthulhu and H.P. Lovecraft in general. Yog-Sothoth is particularly active in fostering this camaraderie. Thanks to the Yoggie forums over 12o copies of the Madness at Miskatonic PDF have already been downloaded in the past week alone!

Madness at Miskatonic: a Call of Cthulhu mini-campaign

28 Sep

Well this one got away from me. I had hoped putting together my notes and handouts from a mini-campaign I recently ran would be a straightforward exercise. Turns out I’d seriously underestimated the amount of work involved. Never-the-less, it’s finally complete!

In this four-part Call of Cthulhu campaign the investigators enrol in an esoteric subject taught by a radical academic at Miskatonic University. Meanwhile strange dealings align for the worse as fellow classmates commit suicide, a madman escapes Arkham Sanatorium and a curious exhibit of Egyptian artifacts goes on display in the University library. These dire events culminate in the Investigator’s growing realisation of man’s fragile role in the universe as they do battle with unseen powers that seek to seize control of their minds. If they cannot prevail they will be slain, driven mad or worse!

Madness at Miskatonic is 49 pages long with over 24 handouts/play aids. It comes in two formats:

Madness at Miskatonic: US Letter Version 3 (8.1MB)

Madness at Miskatonic with A4 cover Version 3 (8.3MB)

*(After typesetting to US Letter I didn’t have the strength to go back in and completely re-typeset in A4. This A4 Cover version will print out fine, the separately scaled cover is provided to avoid any strange cropping that would arise on A4 paper with the US Letter format).

Using music in Call of Cthulhu

19 Sep

I’ve talked before about how I am enjoy of using music during roleplaying sessions and how, as a game master, it can really help set the atmosphere while giving aural cues to the players. Recently, during one of my many web wanderings, I had the pleasure of stumbling across Musica Cthulhiana. These guys have produced three dark ambient soundtracks specidically for roleplaying games that, while largely intended for Call of Cthulhu, would work for a range of darker settings.

This prompted me to think of what album recommendations I would make to fellow Keepers to create  a suitable soundtrack to a Call of Cthulhu campaign.

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Story seed: Upstairs/downstairs Cthulhu in a manor house

9 Sep Mannor House

I recently finished watching the first season of Downton Abbey. It’s a fresh take on an upstairs/downstairs manor house drama revolving around the lives of a British  aristocratic family and their servants in the quarters below. I was also big fan of the film Gosford Park and the same writer, Julian Fellowes was the show runner for this production.

Of course anything even vaguely related to the 1920s gets me thinking about Call of Cthulhu. (Downton spans the 1912 to 1914, so we’re only 6 years shy in this series). The setting is ripe for use for one off sessions or even an on going campaign.

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Madness at Miskatonic Teaser

25 Aug

Of course I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Putting together this mini-campaign for public consumption is taking a little longer than expected (no surprises there, I guess). What has been an important part of the process for me is balancing my desire to produce a user-friendly document with avoiding lengthy tracts of text that ramble on and on about the minutiae of each session. I want something that is part tool kit part “colouring book” providing just enough scope for Keepers to fill in the details based around their own idiosyncrasies. But enough of the griping.

For the time being here are some sample PDF pages from the final Madness at Miskatonic document:

Campaign Introduction example PDF

Non-player characters example PDF

Session One flow chart example PDF

Documenting the Madness

12 Aug

I’ve commenced putting together a PDF for Madness at Miskatonic, a short Call of Cthulhu campaign where the investigators play freshmen students at Miskatonic University. Rather than put it out in dribs and drabs (but very tempting in terms of keeping the blogging regular), I’ve decided to put it up in one shot when it’s ready to go. I’m probably a bit over optimistic in that I’ll have it done in within the next fortnight. Starting next week I’ll do a but of promotion on this blog to generate a bit of interest before going live.

(Oh, and the site passed 10,000 visitors earlier this week. Probably small by most RPG blog standards, but an occasion worth noting none-the-less).

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