Saturday, July 4, 2015

Arkham, Awards and New Adventures

First I wanted to point you to the nominees for ENnie Awards this year; these awards celebrate excellence in roleplaying products.  Voting is now open and it doesn’t take long to go through and vote and I encourage you to take a look and exercise your ability to participate, if you see some things you like.  I don’t have a product nominated this year, although my whodunit RPG Wicked Lies & Alibis picked up a judges spotlight award (thanks to the excellent taste of Judge Stacy Muth). 

I’ve posted before about the beautiful agony of the ENnie Awards, where micro-publishers like myself can (if we’re lucky) be nominated, but ultimately are extremely unlikely to win an actual award based on the size of our customer base (when compared with much larger publishers).  The Judges Spotlight Award, on the other hand,  is a perfect recognition for a micro-publisher like me.   In related news, friend and one-time EPOCH scenario author Mike Sands has been nominated in the category of Best Rules for the Evil Hat edition of his bestselling game Monster of the Week, so congratulations to Mike!

We’ve just wrapped up the 13th and final session of Arkham Chronicles, and cleared our way to play the (recently ENnie Award Nominated) Horror on the Orient Express, now that it has finally arrived in magnificent physical form.  You may recall that we had already played the Orient Express Gaslight prequel scenario – The Blood Red Fez.  I plan to run the Orient Express campaign with all the trimmings, including the Invictus, Dark Ages, Modern and Dreamlands additions, as well as music, miniatures, and all manner of handouts as appropriate. 

As I read through the campaign I am reminded just how old some parts of it are.  The implicit assumptions about character actions and motivations are not something you’d expect to see in a modern scenario, as they are simply too brittle to survive contact with resourceful, creative and engaged players – highlighting a tension that can (appropriately in this case) be termed as railroading.  Rather than simply try and shoehorn the characters into difficult and dangerous situations, or frustrate their players by stymieing any but the approved investigative avenue, I’ve had some open conversations with my group about this aspect of the game. 

As I told them, I’ll do my best to meet them half-way with these kind of plot elements, but I’ve pushed the players to look to their own characters motivations, and to view the game as a television series, where the setup is usually the same at the beginning of the episode, sometimes ignoring just how crazy and dangerous things were in the previous episode.  I’m also using some of the optional elements from Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition and introducing a house rule; a ‘Mark of Destiny’ which will work as a one shot option to allow a character to avert certain death, take a reduced SAN loss or boost their Luck (this being a critical resource in 7th edition using the optional rules, to both levy consequences and enhance investigative progress).
I’ve really enjoyed running the Arkham Chronicles, and it’s been a great way to develop characters which have strong player buy-in before the campaign and learn the seventh edition rules a little as we go.  As is traditional, I post the key stats from this mini-campaign below:
  • Dark Rivals (Dead Reckonings)
  • Darkness Illuminated (Island of Ignorance)
  • Dead Light
  • Missed Dues
  • The Condemned  (H.P. Lovecraft’s Arkham)

Players  = 7
Characters created = 8
Characters killed = 0
Characters institutionalised = 1
Outer Gods encountered = 1
Great Old Ones encountered = 1

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