Roleplaying game company Chaosium is known among other things for its classic tableop horror/suspense game 'Call of Cthulhu,' which is based off tof the stories of the late H.P. Lovecraft -- a writer known for creating the cosmic-horror based Cthulhu Mythos.
"I designed the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game in 1980, and it changed my life", said designer Sandy Petersen in a prepared statement. "Though I've worked on fabulously successful computer games (e.g. Age of Empires), when I'm invited to gaming conventions as a guest, it's always on the strength of my tabletop Lovecraftian games. That’s where the love comes from."
We spoke with line editor Mike Mason about the game's latest supplement -- 'Peterson's Abominations.'
What distinguishes this sourcebook from other CoC releases?
'Petersen’s Abominations' brings together essentially unseen scenarios created by the creator of the 'Call of Cthulhu' game, Sandy Petersen. These modern-day adventures have only been played by a handful of people and the book brings Sandy’s style of play to a wider audience. The scenarios tend to be epic in scope, with climactic events and sudden shifts to horror as the scenarios progress. Each is self contained and offers distinctly different flavors of 'Call of Cthulhu' to players old or new.
Can these be modified to fit into existing campaigns?
Each is written to be stand alone, but guidance is provided where applicable for further developing the scenarios for longer play. Each is set in the modern-day, however it would be possible to relocate most of them to the 1920s period, making them a little easier to fit into existing campaigns. Of course, if your group is playing a modern-day campaign, then fitting in the majority of scenarios wouldn’t take much work.
What do one-shot adventures with pre-generated characters have to offer as opposed to open-ended campaign adventures?
One-shot scenarios are great ‘nights of horror’ allowing groups to take a change of pace or style, where all bets are off - the characters are at real risk as there is no assumption of them going on to other scenarios. This allows one shots to be treated like short stories and allows many varied and differing plots to be enjoyed. Whereas, for campaign play, its about sowing a deeper mystery wherein the characters develop and are at risk of corruption, as they gather lore and begin to piece together grand schemes involving numerous players and diverse locations. Additionally, one shots are designed to relatively easy to pick up and play, and do not tend to need a lot of preparation (other than pre-reading the scenario) to get the game up and running - especially as pre-generated characters are usually provided. The adventures in Petersen’s Abominations are designed to be playable in a single session but can easily spread to two or more sessions for slower paced games.
What are the basic plots to these scenarios?
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Behind a miraculous cure for many ills hides a loathsome truth.
In 1924 an obscure and ill-regarded painter from Europe, named Johan Schiegl, came to the Seven Stars Hotel in British Columbia. Seeking solitude far away from hustle and bustle of the Roaring Twenties, Schiegl came to capture the remote and rugged wilderness of the Canadian landscape in his paintings…
An inheritance in the remote wilderness of British Columbia conceals a hideous secret that may spell the end of the world.
A team of observers is called in to conduct an audit and report on an experimental and top secret drilling project designed to penetrate the Earth’s crust and release a previously untapped source of energy. Set on a repurposed North Sea oil platform, those involved discover that there are some depths that should never be plumbed.
An experimental drilling project delves too deep and brings the attention of an ancient unspeakable horror.
Within the icy waters of the North Atlantic the discovery of a missing reefer ship, the Groenland Tropisch, stranded on an iceberg brings considerations of a substantial salvage reward, driving an attempt to rescue the ship. But in so doing, an ancient horror is stirred…
A final journey brings a remarkable discovery and a hidden terror.
Voice on the Phone
As youngsters, Diego Lopez and his younger brother Juan were close. While Diego had the street smarts, Juan was more academically minded and his parents pushed him to make something of his life away from the streets and gangs of Dallas. Of course, Juan just wanted to be like his brother. Both boys seemed destined for a gang lifestyle; however, Juan’s life was to take a different turn…
A tale of two brothers set in the violent world of gang culture.
Will Sandy Petersen release similar source books in the future?
Sandy has a number of scenarios that have never been published, so there’s plenty of scope to develop further books in this series.
Check out some of our other articles on Call of Cthulhu:
Our interview with Mike Mason, writer for Cthulhu: Down Darker Trails.
Our discussion with Chaosium designer Nicholas Nacario, on Pulp Cthulhu.
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