The Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game was one of the first RPGs I ever played, way back in the ’80s when I was 12 years old. Previously, I had only ever played elementary school Monty Haul D&D games, but for love of Lovecraft I got into Call of Cthulhu and discovered a new, somewhat more realistic type of roleplaying, as well as a more cavalier attitude towards character death that has persisted to this day. (For this reason alone, I think every gamer should play a little Call of Cthulhu.)
Like most wannabe-DMs, I bought and read a lot more adventures than I ever got to play, and though I ran some Call of Cthulhu games in college, they often degenerated into player-characters covering their eyes and shouting “I’m not looking at it! I’m not looking at it!” while unloading machine guns into monsters at full auto, and/or shooting every NPC on sight for suspicion they’re a cultist, and reading all the evil tomes they could find to get spells. This, of course, was extremely fun, but we almost never managed to play all the way through one of Chaosium’s epic campaigns, even playing marathon 8-10 hour sessions once a week.
One of the games we did manage to finish, however, was Horror on the Orient Express, which is why I was so thrilled to discover that Yog-Sothoth.com, the huge Call of Cthulhu/Lovecraft fan site, has done a series of audio recordings of Horror on the Orient Express and other Call of Cthulhu campaigns! It’s a brilliant idea, and they’ve given me new faith in gaming podcasts, after some bad experiences a few years ago listening to some particularly boring ones. The Yog-Sothoth folks have run most of the famous Call of Cthulhu campaigns, including Masks of Nyarlathotep, Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, Beyond the Mountains of Madness (their current project) and, one of the best, “Horror on the Orient Express. Frankly, I thought Horror on the Orient Express was too linear as a game — I prefer the more freeform campaigns — but as an audio story, it’s perfect. Paul MacLean does an excellent job as GM (and he does a much better job keeping things on track than I did when I ran it), RPG Music Composer Alex Otterlei has made an entire musical score based on the adventure, and one of the players from the campaign is even doing a novelization. Yog-Sothoth’s gaming podcasts, together with HP Podcraft, is my chosen audio accompaniment while I’m drawing. A couple cups of coffee, my drawing table, and listening to people roleplay 1920s occult investigators (with classy British accents, no less!) — that’s perfection.
This drawing shows the Horror on the Orient Express player-characters midway through the adventure, just before everyone starts dying. Technically, Professor Alphone Moretti (the crouching guy on the left) was actually already dead by the time the doctor (the tall guy in the back) had shown up, but I blurred the timeline a bit. The women from left to right are Grace Murphy (the maid, Appearance 4), her matronly mistress Betty Sunderland and carefree Violet Davenport. On the right is Colonel Neville Goodenough, who, in retrospect, I should have drawn looking tougher. Everyone looks happy, but shortly after this drawing was made, several of the PCs died or were horribly mutilated, and a before-and-after shot would be rather gruesome…
Anyway, it’s a really fun audio recording, and I think the group actually improved on the original campaign. (Though I’m sorry they didn’t play the Thomas Ligotti interlude.) More gaming podcasts! They’re so good!
In other news: there’s a new strip up at King of RPGs! You can commission a sketch! And, the Dream-Quest graphic novel and poster map are now available together for a discounted price. If you’re interested, please check it out!