On April 19th, 1919, The Carlyle Expedition departed London for Cairo. On Friday, March 18, 1921, the Investigators first met daring author Jackson Elias. By December 16, 1924, Jackson wired Jonah Kensington from London before returning the following day to New York. Finally, on Thursday, January 15, 1925, your Investigators took that one small step into Jackson’s Chelsea Hotel room and a giant leap forward into a dizzying world of clues and conspiracy.
Your players’ foray into the main campaign happens nearly six years after the ill-fated Carlyle Expedition formally gets underway. And the dates listed above? Just a small sample of those in the MoN timeline. To effectively guide our players through the intricacies of the campaign it helps for us Keepers to have an organized single-glance reference for these dates, as well as means to track your Investigators’ activities. Is this just tedious book-keeping? I would posit no, this is an opportunity to weave the interplay of known and created events in your campaign setting, as well as potentially smoothing your gameplay. Here are some suggestions to consider:
A basic spreadsheet is a great organizational tool (we use Google Sheets). Start by pulling key dates for the Carlyle Expedition and Jackson Elias from the Introduction (pp. 18-19) provides you a great start. Additional Carlyle Expedition dates can be found in the Kenya Chapter (p. 386). You may choose to include additional dates that are omitted from the example below.
Here is an example of my Google Sheet used during our New York chapter. I would plug in the events laid out in the book, including Jackson’s Funeral, the Will Reading, and the Blizzard. In doing so, I could make sure that my players’ activities didn’t conflict dramatically with critical campaign events and that I could easily remind them when they asked. Of course, you can also just be flexible about it and shift the pre-determined dates around.
I was delighted, though, when my characters planned their visit to the Carlyle Estate on the assigned date of the Blizzard (shown above) since it offered me the atmospheric opportunity to waylay the Investigators at her Estate overnight. Offering them an excellent chance to plunder her library in the middle of a raging snowstorm. Again, these events can be flexed, but finessing player choices and assigned calendar events can feed the Keeper some fun inspiration.
Since my group loves confirming and participating in the accuracy of campaign events, I consulted the 1925 Lunar Calendar and added two prospective dates for the Bloody Tongue Rite (the same can be applied to future cult events, should you choose). I found this incredibly satisfying when my players described referencing an almanac (google) and producing my pre-planned dates as likely ritual nights. The players appreciated this immersive experience and the resulting strong sense of connection to the campaign world.
As you can see on my sample Investigator timeline, I broke individual days up into Morning, Afternoon, Evening. I would then track the group’s activities as they planned them or they occurred. Most of our sessions would encompass a day or two of investigation and scheduled appointments. Before the end of each session, my players would often elect how they would like to tackle their next day (or two) of investigation. This serves two purposes. First, it allows the players to stay organized in their pursuit of clues and splitting up tasks between members of the party. For example, the day after Jackson’s murder with clues in hand, the Investigators were eager to check into Emerson Imports and Prospero House Publishing. They could then conveniently reconvene for lunch and discuss their findings before deciding on how to use the rest of their day. As the session winds down each evening, I would ask my players what plans they would have for the following day. This could include a pre-scheduled appointment (Jackson’s funeral or their next investigational move). As a Keeper, this is a useful trick for staying on top of your prep and refreshing your memory before the next session. There was no firm commitment to this daily routine, but the player’s appreciated the rhythm of their sessions and it helped them stay organized. As you might expect, we had days that completely blew up any attempt at structure. Those days tended to be the most fun.
A simple template shown below can display the dates from the Carlyle Expedition, Jackson’s Investigation, and Your Team’s efforts on a single page making it easy to keep everything straight at a glance.
Moving between chapters, I would keep track of travel time, using the useful charts provided in the appendix, and then advance the calendar accordingly. Once out of New York, your timing becomes more free-floating, but if you enjoyed some of the structure offered by the New York events timeline, you can consider slotting in scheduled occurrences (rituals, Ivory Wind departure dates, Gavigan’s trips to Henson Manufacturing). Of course, if your team is slow-moving throughout the entirety of the campaign, there is one particularly critical date to keep moving towards, January 14, 1926.
Link to Sample Timeline
How do keep track of events and timelines? Do you and your Investigators prefer structured Investigative days or a more free-form approach?