[Door of Shadows] Creating the Campaign Setup

The Pull

Randomizing the characters

We started a new campaign at the beginning of the year (as discussed in my previous post).

This campaign is linked to the Wayward Sons-campaign I ran last year though it takes place 40 years earlier. And even though I jump started this “discussion” about the campaign with the experiments I have had with a Mythos Tome I decided that our first session also deserves to shared.

As first sessions go it wasn’t an actual playing session in a traditional sense but more like a conversation of what we were going to play. Vincent Baker‘s Apocalypse World advices you to do something similar but we took it a bit further.

For starters we had players who already knew what they wanted to play. We had agreed that this would be a lengthier campaign so some were already pretty eager to flesh out their ideas. But then Sami pointed out that he wanted to randomly draw a character. This was ok with others and actually even those with clear plans wanted to go down that road. Each player drew a character with a chance of mulligan (naturally the father of the idea used this opportunity to dodge the Cop playbook).

I had already told the group that this would be a “Call of Cthulhu“-campaign without direct influence from the Cthulhu Mythos (some name dropping has happened and will happen but we made it clear this was not about Cthulhu or deep ones). As all players are CoC veterans they knew from the beginning what they could expect from this campaign. The six characters that got chosen were The Criminal, The Driver, The Professor, The Doctor, The Veteran and The Dilettante.
IMG_9328While brewing the ideas about their characters I tried to harsh them by throwing out questions. The main dilemma was “how is it that these characters are working together?” Not a new problem but one that each campaign begins with.
After some discussion we decided that all of the characters were members of an elite club called simply “The Cabinet”. I knew that we needed to flesh out it more to make it relevant and find some support for the fact that these characters would not be intimidated by researching the unknown.
I cannot recall whose idea it was but eventually we agreed that each member of the Cabinet would have needed to share his paranormal encounter during the initiation. We also decided that this would not be a secret brotherhood or something like Freemasons but mainly a stag house where like minded individuals would meet. Another important aspect was that the gentlemen of the Cabinet would not discuss their work while in the Cabinet’s premises.
Now we had a reason for the characters to know each other and trust them enough to delve into eldritch secret together. But we didn’t stop there. I asked each player what his character’s “paranormal encounter” had been – the one he had shared with the others. Demonic possession, poltergeist and zombies were introduced. And as they were already part of the background from previous games it felt logical.
Most AWhack also use Hx (or history, bonds, etc.) and so does Eldritch Sigils. Though in game play it hasn’t come up almost at all it was important during character creation. Each player had some history with three other characters and in a game of six players this created an interesting relationship map. All character knew each other from the beginning but the “History” was established next.
Every player told a certain memorable event that linked his character to the character he had given History. That didn’t mean that both of them held that event as high esteem (or even relevant) but it was a nice way to get to know the characters. This was the point where it was introduced that the Dilettante had been hustling pool and had some connections to organized crime as well as that one of the characters had been performing illegal medical procedures.
No dices were used while creating the campaign setup.

No dices were used while creating the campaign setup.

After that evening we had a group of great characters. We knew a lot of their history and why they would be interested in searching clues of esoteric secrets. And we actually had a simple reason to keep them together which is never a bad thing with big groups like this. We also knew that in the likely event of a character death a new character could be easily introduced via the Cabinet.
We have had five session so far (only two of which all of the players were present) but the game pace has been good. I really have enjoyed “playing to find out what happens” as I have so much I can build on. The first session was a solid foundation to what seems to be turning into a memorable campaign.

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