Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pic of the day: Princess Theatre

Photo taken during the Houdini tour at the Princess Theatre, St Catherine's Street, east of Phillips Square (1926). This was the tour on which he took the backstage sucker punch that killed him nine days later.

On October 22, 1926, Houdini was performing in Montreal at the Princess Theater. Before the show, Harry was in his dressing room laying on the couch. While relaxing backstage, a young athlete from McGill University asked Houdini if he really could withstand punches to the stomach, as he had heard. Houdini said yes and would prove it to the boy. But before he could tighten his stomach, the student started punching Houdini. Harry didn't realize it, but his appendix had ruptured. After Houdini performed in Montreal, he headed to Detroit. He did only one performance there and then collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. Harry Houdini did not die in a stunt, nor did he drown, as most people believe. The greatest magician of all time died on October 31, 1926, of peritonitis.  (source).

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion

Call of Cthulhu is known for it's big campaigns, whether it's the Mountains of Madness, or the Horror on the Orient Express. These types of campaigns are one of the things through with Call of Cthulhu has made it's reputation. However, there is one of these that stands above the others, and that is Masks.

I don't even have to give it's full title, most people already know what I'm talking about just with that one word. I can't think off the top of my head of any other RPG property this works with.

I have tried to run Masks twice in my life, and both times it ran out of steam. This is not an issue with the game as such, just the length of the campaign requires a little commitment, and for the stars to align in a certain sense with players real lives and availabilities.

This Companion was first released as a 550 page pdf back in 2013. The Kickstarter was finally funded (as a fundraiser for back in 2015, and the book finally came into my hands a couple of weeks ago.

There are many other posts, threads and unboxing videos around that talk about this book's arrival, so I won't go into that too much, but I would just like to comment o the size of this tome. In a way that makes sense to me, at least. That is in comparison with the actual campaign book itself.

The version of the campaign book I have is the 1996 3rd edition version of Masks, The Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep, This is a 224 page book. Please see here, some photographic comparisons of this original campaign to the newly arrived Companion.

The Companion clocks in at 729 pages. That is over twice the page count of the original book (and we're not talking about a padded out book here. The text is pretty comparable to the first. Clean, yet full. Add to that the hardback cover, and we have something that approached 3-4 times the thickness of the Original campaign book. 

Needless to say, I have not yet read all of this book (even if I have had the pdf for at least 5 years, but as I have previously mentioned, I'm not very good at reading pdfs). But what I have seen and read is of the highest quality for any gaming book, not just Call of Cthulhu, which, when we think that this was essentially an amateur work (in terms of writers) by fans, is really no faint praise. My only slight complaint is that the rules present in the book have not been updated to 7th edition. However, the simplicity of this conversion combined with the fact that there are really not many rules/stats i this book, really makes this a non-issue.

For now, I am running Horror on the Orient Express, but the arrival of this book has sparked interest in Masks. If I can keep the players, this is back on the list.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Horror on the Orient Express getting ready to depart the Station

The wait has been long and the road winding, but we are finally there.. The Kicksterter funded in 2012, and was fulfilled in 2015. Furthermore, the Sedefkar Simulacrum kickstarter was also funded and fulfilled, leaving it only a matter to time, and building a gaming group, before I ran this monstrosity.

About 9 months ago, I started running the Time to Harvest organised play campaign at my FLGS, (which has sadly since closed its doors). This time I used to get together interested players to form an RPG group that is interested and committed to regular gaming. I have now assembled a group of like minded individuals, and through them, even managed to play! Yes after almost 12 years drought, I actually got to play in an RPG! It was a lot of fun.

Now, we have finally taken the plunge, we have assembled a group of investigators, met at a local Auction of occult artefacts, and finally , we are getting together to head off on a momentous journey together, through Europe and the ages, on the Orient Express. I for one am really looking forward to it.

With this goal in mind, I have spent the last few weeks organising all the various props I have for the campaign, from multiple sources, and with the help of a recently found colour printer at work, have been making some rather nifty and fun handouts for people to get into the game through.

The Investigators are, after 2 sessions of the actual campaign, already in Paris. The first chapter was a bit of a data dump, in many ways, and now they are working their way through the Biblioteque National.

I have chosen to skip a lot of the optional scenarios, as I do want to get to the end of this campaign. If we have time, and people are still interested afterwards, we can run through some of the side adventures in other eras. I also finally decided to run the Auction as a lead in adventure, rather than the Doom Train scenario, which is one of the optional London adventures, as a lead in. I had at one point even considered doing both, but that might be overkill, and goes against limiting the side options to get the main event finished. In the end, I just have too much stuff, and want to use it all!

For the time being, making this a regular weekly game means I am not for now running Cult of Chaos adventures, but I am not counting out doing the odd one here and there, for special events and the like, as long as I can decide on a new venue, now that Gamers' Vault has closed its doors for good.

So far, the players are mightly impressed with the level of support the game has in the box set, in terms of handouts and props. I can't wait till they actually get their hands on the actual Simlacrum!