Inside the Mind of a Convention GM with Matt McCloud

On the eve of Chaosium Con II, we sat down with veteran Keeper Matthew McCloud, the chief organizer, hype-man, and dark heart of Lurking Fears, a collective of dedicated gamemasters offering “the very best in horror and grimdark roleplaying.” In addition to offering some of the finest Call of Cthulhu events available at conventions across the United States, they have grown an impressive assortment of relationships with companies like Free League, Mongoose Publishing, and Bloat Games to name a few. Players can expect a wide and constantly growing variety of incredible games in a Lurking Fears room with an equally impressive array of GMs. Lurking Fears will be running games at Gen Con for Chaosium

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Dark Diversions: Six Reasons to Sidetrack in MoN

You crack open Masks of Nyarlathotep for the first time. The crisp binding crackles as you breathe in that new book smell and admire the bright red ribbon page marker knowing it won’t be long before your cat chews the end into a frayed tangle. You eagerly flip through the pages. As you pause to admire the beautiful artwork, you note a heading entitled “Sidetrack Scenario”. You think to yourself, “I wonder what that is, probably just an add-on. But we will be so busy with the main story, I won’t have time to prep anything extra.” But wait! I urge you to pause and rethink skipping the sidetrack scenarios and listen to my case.

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Peering into the Abyss: The Cthulhu Mythos Skill

Of all the skills on an investigator’s character sheet, the most alluring, but least used is Cthulhu Mythos. This suits the Lovecraftian perspective that humans stumble around ignorantly in a massive and incomprehensibly dark universe. The limited access to eldritch insight serves both Keeper and players well when aiming to capture this particular tone; however, it potentially restricts players aiming to recreate investigators in the image of Dr. Henry Armitage or Keepers intending to run a double-barrel Pulp Cthulhu campaign. We intend to review the use of the Cthulhu Mythos skill in the Classic and Pulp settings and introduce a Pulp-oriented Cthulhu Mythos skill expansion. The discussion seeks to inspire both Keepers and players to

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Maps – The Dare

SPOILERS BELOW. PLAYERS KEEP OUT! OR PAY THE PRICE! Undeniably one of the finest Halloween one-shot scenarios for Call of Cthulhu, “The Dare” by Kevin Ross received a loving remaster and release by Sentinel Hill Press in 2020. There is much to be said about the merits of this 80s-based scenario, and some seasoned Keepers have already weighed in here and here. Ain’t Slayed Nobody produced a glorious actual play with a talented cast capturing the nostalgic magic encapsulated in the ultimate (and only) Kid-Cthulhu scenario. We intend to render some of our own opinions garnered by our recent playthroughs this October, but we would first like to offer some full-color maps of the Barnaker

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Full Fathom Five – Review & Con Runs

  “Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made; Those are pearls that were his eyes; Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange.”  – William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act I, Scene II WARNING: THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW Review: The title for Paul Fricker’s Miskatonic Repository scenario is drawn from a portion of the song that Ariel sings to lure the shipwrecked Ferdinand to the play’s sorcerer protagonist Prospero. The final stanza explicitly seeks to tempt Ferdinand whose father drowned in the deep. In Full Fathom Five, Fricker skillfully weaves literature, history, and Cthulhu Mythos into a delightfully deadly and dreadful compact scenario set on

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Crawl of Cthulhu – The Brockford House

Spoilers for “The Brockford House” scenario below! Available in the Call of Cthulhu Rulebook (2nd through 4th Editions), “The Brockford House” is very similar to the AD&D module U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh. The adventure starts with the exploration of the Brockford House, our Cthulhu Crawl’s equivalent of a castle keep. This eventually leads to the sub-basement where a stone altar must be tipped over in order to descend into the caverns below. The previous owner worshiped Cthulhu, and Deep Ones serve as the primary Mythos antagonists, and, unless replaced, added thematic elements and clues should hint at their presence.  Below we examine the locations in “The Brockford House” and provide some suggestions to

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Condensing Cthulhu for Cons

From the Mind of Keeper and Lurking Fears Impresario Matt McCloud The first ChaosiumCon is a wrap and we look forward to even more gaming and fun at upcoming conventions this year! As the chief organizer for Lurking Fears, we’ve got plenty of work ahead of us as we register for badges, events, and hotel rooms, but, most importantly, we anticipate playing some fantastic scenarios with our friends old and new. For those of us running these upcoming con games, we face the added anxiety of deciding on an adventure, prepping it, and then actually running it for an audience, which includes both our friends and fellow convention-goers. We know what our friends love, but

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Crawl of Cthulhu – Introduction

Call of Cthulhu entered the roleplaying world in 1981, during the golden age of dungeon crawling.  In the same year, TSR released the module entitled In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords (A4), and The Keep of the Borderlands (B2) had already thrilled fledgling adventurers for two years. While Chaosium’s new creation unleashed the potent combination of investigation and horror, a few early adventures leaned on established conceits born in fantasy roleplaying, including the dungeon crawl. The 40th anniversary of the game brings us the reprinting of the second-edition core rulebook, as well as a collection of early game supplements, including The Asylum & Other Tales and the Shadows of Yog Sothoth campaign. Between the

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The Terrible Triad (or Cthulhu’s Three Pillars)

Whether deep in dungeons, running in dystopian mega-cities, or solving cult murders, every single roleplaying game employs a simple core procedure:  The GM provides a situation. The characters take an action (dice may be rolled or not) The GM describes the results This procedural cycle continues until the scene, session, or campaign concludes. In D&D, 5th edition, the game and this action cycle rest on the Three Pillars, which are defined by the designers as roleplaying, combat, and exploration. Through each cycle, a Dungeon Master and their players rely upon the three driving pillars to fuel their meaningful decisions. Since its inception, D&D has leaned heavily upon combat and roleplaying to direct gameplay, but many

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Want to Run Call of Cthulhu – What do I Buy?

Seasoned gamer looking to finally try out Call of Cthulhu? Played a couple scenarios and want to try running adventures yourself? Trying to decide on the highest yield products to bring this classic investigative-horror game to your table? Ready to jump feet first into Masks of Nyarlathotep as a first-time Keeper? The gaming community provides a wealth of answers to these questions, and we want to briefly weigh-in, in and offer our personal suggestions we provide to folks we run games for at conventions, who ask “what should I buy now?” First, you don’t have to buy anything to play some outstanding Call of Cthulhu modules. Our first two recommendations are the Quickstart Rules and

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