So, back to those players. Your first organizational task will be assembling your team of intrepid investigators. These folks need to be aware this isn’t a casual campaign. It’s a time commitment…that is if they intend to see it to completion. Due to the length of the campaign, it is not uncommon for players to drift in and out, which can work well with the range of international settings (we’ll discuss this in future content). When enlisting my current round of Investigators, we were upfront about the time commitment and depth of MoN. We made it clear they would not be held hostage by the campaign, and if they ever lost interest they were free to phase out (and return again). While MoN is an intimidating group effort, it should never become a relentless slog. As with any tabletop game, don’t be discouraged when player’s drop. If you and your players have been keeping your other gaming friends abreast of your campaign’s harrowing exploits, you may find replacements incredibly easy to source.
In order to maximize everyone’s enjoyment, you want to have a clear idea of what sort of game you and your Investigators want to play. If you are pulling your team from your usual CoC playgroup, you’ll have a good sense of their style of play. If you’ve enlisted fresh blood for this adventure, you’ll want to discuss their options and assess what thrills them. Do they want a cerebral, Mythos-rich period investigation? A jet-setting exotic and weird global adventure? Or maybe an opportunity to lay waste to cultists and nameless horrors?
To help facilitate this decision, you and your players can discuss their roleplaying goals, individually and as a group. Spending some time brainstorming characters with plausible reasons for international travel can be a lot of fun. Jotting down some of the unused suggestions may provide a useful pool of replacement investigators. For new CoC players or perennial procrastinators, you can offer up the current edition’s pre-generated characters, as either inspiration or their (first) character. For those players unfamiliar with MoN’s meatgrinder reputation, it’s best to also take this as an opportunity to let them know that their Investigators may die, and it’s not just ok, it’s expected, and they should consider it an exciting opportunity to roll out their ultra-cool backup.
Our current MoN playgroup is a mixture of seasoned CoC players, experienced tabletop gamers (mostly D&D), and someone who hadn’t rolled dice in over 20 years. Having run prior campaigns ranging from dark and dreadful mind-blasting investigative horror to Fascist-blasting, vine-swinging, Tommy gun-toting pulp, I was open to anything.
As we were working with a completely new group this time, I opted to run the latest edition’s Peru Prologue before diving into any aggressive MoN prep work. This trial-run, introductory scenario offered the chance to take my group’s temperature and see what sort of play held their attention. This abbreviated relatively low-risk chapter is an excellent opportunity to introduce your players to Jackson Elias, gently tease them with some (fairly) low-risk Nyarlathotep mythos and We began with classic CoC characters with an understanding that we could beef them up in the event they wanted to lean pulp. Of course, if you’ve already settled into a decision during session zero, feel free to jump directly in and make adjustments as needed. After running the Prologue over a series of three short sessions, the entire group was solidly invested in their characters and eager for more. This time around my players were very interested in immersive period roleplay and historical accuracy, so we settled on a classic CoC campaign. My prepping could begin in earnest from this point on…
While you are prepping, feel free to indulge in some thematic material to set the mood. Encourage your Investigators to do the same, especially the new initiates to Call of Cthulhu.