Monday, 1 November 2010

Role-playing Call of Cthulhu - a horror story

So I thought since I do role-playing almost every week I could blog about it :P Gives me something to blog about and it's pretty fun :)

As you all know yesterday was Halloween. So Love thought he'd do a one-shot horror role-play Call of Cthulhu with us. That was his first time leading a role-playing game but it went really well :) Since it was a Sunday and people had work/school the day after we started out early and met up at 4.30 pm. After being given one character sheet each from Love we started making our characters and setting our skills etc after his command and with the help of our dices. When the characters were done our group consisted of two scholars; one professor researching the occult and one university gymnastics teacher (so he was our Mr. Muscle), one doctor; he was also a scholar (strictly speaking) but more of a pharmacist and one priest.

In Call of Cthulhu everyone gets a specific sanity level depending on what the dices show, and as supernatural, occult or simply weird things show in front of our characters the dices will decide if that level gets lower. The lower it gets the closer to a complete mental breakdown is the character. Ofc the characters also have hit points and the more times a character gets hit in a battle the lower health it gets and the closer to death it becomes.

After our characters were finished it was time for dinner and then the game itself kicked off. By then it wwas dark outside and to create the appropriate atmosphere we used no electricity and simply had big lit candles on the table. And then: the story.

We were all assembled by a landlord who had bought himself a house really really cheap, because no one wanted to live in it. Reason for that was what had happened to the family who had lived there. The father had gone insane and now lived at an asylum 4 miles off town, the mother weren't very stable either and she stayed with her mother. The two sons were doing pretty okay and all lived with relatives. This was all the landlord knew and we set out to find out some background information to our case. Our job was to "fix" the house so the landlord could rent it to someone. The priest (that's me) and the doctor went off to the asylum, since the priest was the only one who could drive (the game takes place in 1920's Boston). Mr. Muscle went to The Globe's news paper archives and the professor went to the city archives.

What the priest and the doctor found out was that the family had all had dreams of a man with burning eyes and both the mother and the father had felt an evil presence from the bedroom furthest from the staircase on the second floor of the house. The evil presence seemed to dislike the father the most and had used cuttlery and religious symbols to throw at him. The family was strongly Catholic, the mother even more so after her experiences in the house, the father on the other hand had abandoned his faith as a consequence to his experiences. He was considered gravely schizofrenic. Both parents talked about the man with burning eyes. The mother had only seen him in her dreams but the father had had hallucinations of him after he had awokened and in mirrors. They had both seen bleeding walls and had objects thrown at them.

What Mr. Muscle and the professor found out and the different archives were that the house and been built by a man who had soon after fallen sick and sold the house to a Walter Corbitt. That's why the house was also called the Corbitt House earlier, but now no one knew of that name. Walter Corbitt had been sued by his neighbours for being weird and involved in the occult. In his will he wrote that he wanted to be buried in the basement of the house. In 1880 he had disappeared after a raid on the church he was involved in and a priest had been sentenced to prison. The priest had escaped said prison in 1917 and no one had seen him since. The church that Corbitt was involved with had meetings in a chapel not far from the house. In his will Corbitt had also written that he wanted the house to be empty for as long as possible, preferably forever. But despite this people had lived there and they had all gone crazy, become invalid or died.

After the characters had met up and told each other what they had found out we decided to go to the ruin of the chapel and see what we could find out. The priest drove them all there and on the waywe bought lamps and spades (shovels). When we entered the area the first thing we see are two walls on each side of the pathway. They are both washed clean and there's a symbol carved into them. When we walk past them we all get the feeling that were being watched. We let Mr. Muscle stand guard outside the ruin and the three of us enters, when we do that we all get a headache (except Mr. Muscle who is still outside). The doctor is very sure to try the floor with his umbrella before we walk on it and thanks to that we didn't fall through the floor into the basement. In the construction papers of the chapel there was no mentioning of a basement so ofc we all go down there. Down there we find a room with to victims from the fire caused by the raid and also some old journals from meetings and one old mouldy book in Latin with description of the churches believes etc. This book the professor brings with her. Then we leave the chapel.

After that we have a discussion whether we should go investigate the house as well although it's already dusk or wait until tomorrow. We decided to go to the house. When we get there we take a walk around the house to see it there are any alternate entrances. The coal cellar as well as all the windows are covered with boards and the back door can't be opened from the outside. So we enter through the front door using the key we've been given by the landlord. When we enter we see a lot of closed doors and a staircase leading down. We decide to first investigate the first floor and enter the first room. It's a storage room with old bicycles and a cupboard. The cupboard is covered with boards as well and we all find this strange so the doctor goes out to the car to fetch a crowbar. We open the cupboard and in there we find three journals belonging to Walter Corbitt. The priest, the professor and the doctor all start looking through one each (and as a consequence lose some sanity points). The professor keeps the journals and we keep on going to the next room, by now we all start to hear a loud thumping coming from above. The thumping continues as we investigate the rooms on the first floor. When we get to the living room we find the staircase going up and we all see how one wall starts to bleed (and we lose some sanity points) and then the loud thumping stops. We go upstairs and start looking through the bedrooms. Nothing interesting until we get to the furthermost bedroom. We open it and the doctor walks in to open the only openable window in the house, but he never makes it cause the bed rushes from the wall and into him. The professor and the priest start to investigate the wall the bed came from and at that time Mr. Muscle sees how the doctor tries to hit the priest in the head with his umbrella. Mr. Muscle stops him but the doctor has no recollection of what he was trying to do. We finish the last bedroom and decides to go down the basement to find Corbitt's grave. Down there Mr. Muscle finds a beautiful, but dirty, dagger and picks it up. When he does that the dagger flies out of his hand and hits the professor's leg. The doctor takes care of them both and then we walk into the last room of the house. This room is completely empty save for a bench in the middle. On this bench is a dead body and above it hangs the same symbol we saw carved into the walls at the chapel. The whole room stinks and the doctor moves forward to take a closer look on the body. When he does that the body wakes up and looks at him. The doctor throws his umbrella at the corpse and the final battle erupts. We manage to defeat the corpse with not too many casualties, except for the priest accidentally shooting his gun at the professor and making her faint and Mr. Muscle being controlled to attack the doctor once.

In the end all the characters survived, which isn't the standard of Call of Cthulhu RPGs :P The upside is that we can keep these characters and reuse them in another game. Maybe a fullscale campaign of Call of Cthulhu if it comes to that :)

During this game we were all affected in different ways by the scary story, but the atmosphere was definately perfect and I love the catharsis horror gives when the tensity is released at the end of the story.

The most positive upside about this game is that it made me genuinely interested in reading H.P Lovecraft's work. Something I've been planning to do for a year now but never had the motivation to. When Love and I got home I borrowed his copy of Necronomicon and read the short story that he ahd recommended; The Rats in the Walls. And it was... cosy :P It defeinately caught my attention and I wouldn't want to put it down but the story didn't really scare me. It was cosy and interesting. I think I like his way and I will start reading Necronomicon from the beginning this evening :)

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