I thought it would be a good idea to write some notes to introduce the campaign and to kick-start your creativity in terms of coming up with characters.
The campaign will be played in Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game, 7th Edition. The 7th edition is not a significant departure from prior editions and is almost entirely backwards-compatible. If you own prior editions of the game it isn't necessary to buy the new edition unless you really want to. If you don't own any rules, you can download the Quick-Start Rules for free from Chaosium's website. The first 15 or so pages will give you a solid introduction to what you need to know to play. Apart from that, polyhedral dice and pen & paper are all you will need to play.
The campaign will take place on the earth more-or-less as it was known in the 1920s, the hey-day of when Lovecraft was writing some of his best-remembered stories. You will be playing investigators with careers relevant to that time in history. Your character's specific career and gender is up to you. It will be easiest if you pick one of the archetypes in the core rules but if you have something more tailored in mind that is fine, as well. The 1920s were, of course, more patriarchal than 2017 but I am not going to play up this aspect of society in our game. If you wish to roleplay a female character that will not limit you in-game.
I like levity at the table but I also like appropriate drama at pivotal campaign moments. For those that haven't played a Lovecraft-themed RPG before, the best description for what I would like to attain in this campaign is what I have heard called "the dark spiral." Your investigators are more-or-less regular people who will encounter aspects of unveiled reality that they're likely not equipped to deal with both physically and mentally. The deeper they delve the darker it gets and the more broken the characters become… and that's part of the fun.
Player/GM Social Contract
Usually, I like to do these as a group but to save time I thought I'd post these here. The following are points that the GM (myself) and all players need to agree to before we start playing. Please treat these as a living document and let me know if you feel something needs to be added/omitted/altered:
- Let's get the elephant in the room dealt with from the get-go. Lovecraft had racist views that came through in some of his writing. This will not be part of the campaign, by which I mean that racism is not a character trait that will be roleplayed. This is not in the name of white-washing history; it's just not fun to roleplay and isn't necessary for the campaign I'm running.
- All player characters must be adults. Players can pick whatever age and gender of character they wish but having minors/children as PCs is not an option.
- Scenes depicting sexual violence will not be part of this campaign.
I don't want to have a draconian list in this regard but I felt the above points were important to call out.
You will be playing characters that have some association with Professor Aaron Bollacher at the University of Chicago. Bollacher is a respected professor of archaeology that you know has been abroad in Egypt for the better part of the past year. Bollacher is in his early 40s and is married to Rose Bollacher. Rose is Aaron's second wife; his first wife (Gwendolyn) died of a fever five years ago. Rose is step-mother to Aaron's eight year-old twins, James and Melanie. How your character knows Aaron Bollacher is up to you. Perhaps you're a co-worker at the university, a long-time family friend, or some kind of professional associate. That part is up to you to invent.
Minimally, the player characters (PCs) are going to have one thing in common, that being that they know Aaron Bollacher in some way. To stoke the fires of roleplaying, I'd like there to be some kind of shared history within the group of characters. We can talk more about this when we all meet but as players introduce their characters on Obsidian Portal start thinking of ways that your character may be linked to the other PCs.