Friday, August 27, 2010

Goatees and Black Trench coats

I never put much thought to gamer fashion. At least here in California, it tends to be the same stuff you see anywhere on the streets – t-shirts and jeans or shorts.

Sometime in the late 90’s I noticed a strange fashion trend in gamers. Around 1998 or so I had gone to a handful of GURPS sessions in West LA. This was a rare move for me; for most of the 90’s I had decent sized groups and consider it the heydays of my D&D, Call of Cthulhu, and Champions campaigns. But my group was slowly petering out towards the end of the decade, and a couple of strong players had moved away or got married or whatever. So I will admit that I looked for some local groups to game with and maybe troll for and cull some decent players for my own group. What was I to do? I still wanted a large group, and I didn’t go to cons or hang out at game stores. At the time I had no idea of what was going on in the gaming world outside my circle, besides the occasional trip out to Long Beach to The Warhouse (for some of the reasons I would not set foot in the more local Aero Hobbies of Santa Monica, look at this old experimental post).

So there I was sitting in on sessions of some kind of GURPS games, run by a dude who used no notebook and made it up as he went along. And not in any kind of good way. It was some kind of science fiction thing where all science fiction things existed at the same time. Sounds like a great idea (which I think the dude stole from Nexus Comics, but he denied it), but the execution was pretty poor. You would go out and do something, and he would brainstorm on what to have happen to you. The host of the games thought this GM was “imaginative,” but I did not agree. Over a couple of games my guy would go out jogging or out to a bar, and the only thing the guy could think of was “a predator from the Predator movies is jogging there too,” or “a predator from the Predator movies is on the barstool next to you. “ I guess Predator was on HBO the night before or something.

Ugh. Horrible. But here is the rub, the guy wore a black trench coat. Not bad you say? It’s fucking summer here in So Cal, dude. Really? A black trench on a warm summer night? OK, not that big a deal. Columbine was still a year or two away, and the black trench was yet to be thought of nationwide as the gear of pathetic loser geeks who got picked on and went batshit instead of lifting weights or taking karate or whatever. it struck me as weird. But hey, I’m a lifelong beach dude, so what do I know of trench coats?

I did not last long in that little group. My gaming life with my own group continued on.

Sometime around 2001 or 2002 I went for a couple of hours to the Gateway convention over at LAX to do a little shopping for miniatures or what not. I parked a few blocks away, and I noticed groups of the pretty much all-male convention goers heading back and forth to the Jack in the Box across the street. Of the 20 or 30 guys I saw in that few minutes, 90% of them (I’m not kidding) were wearing black trenches. OK, so I don’t recall what time of year it was, but this is Southern California. In deepest winter it is often 75 degrees. Jeez.

Now, keep in mind this was not all that long after columbine. Granted, Columbine had nothing to do with goatees. The Columbine jack-offs were pretty clean cut and studly compared to the squirrely dorked-out trenchers I saw around that con hotel. And at the time I did notice a lot of goatees in various fandom gatherings in general, especially at Renaissance Faires. So I guess that is neither here nor there (outside of the fact that combined with the coats it made the con dudes look like a bunch of clones).

Not long after Columbine I was partying at the So Cal Ren Faire one night and saw the head of security giving a hard time to a pair of black trench donning teenagers for being so stupid as to adopt the fashion of a pair of losers who shot up their school because they were the only two kids in the school who couldn’t get laid. And those were teens, lots of these con dudes looked well into their 30’s at least. I remember also thinking about the crummy “imaginative” GM from those GURPS games, who attended that same con from what I understood. But at least that douche was doing it without the stigma of the shooting hanging around.

I only had a pass for the shopping area, but from what I could see there was an ocean of these black trenched yobbos at the tables.

I just didn’t get it. Why would you want to wear anything associated with the biggest high school losers in human history? It was mind boggling. Maybe after 10 years or something, but a couple? C’moan. Some of them in addition also seemed to like to wear those fingerless driving gloves with the coats which was just extra weird.

Next week I am going to be in attendance for a couple of days at a So Cal game convention. No shit. That’s right, hell froze over. And this isn’t for lack of my own decent group. I’m actually trying to get out there more in the game community since I blog and all that. I’m getting older, and who knows if this is my last big hurrah for gaming. I’m not sure I can see myself doing this at 50. But of course, I said I wouldn’t be doing it at 40 when I was 30. My, how time flies and we lie to ourselves.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing the latest con going fashions. If it’s just t-shirts and shorts I guess I might secretly be a little disappointed. Hmmm…maybe I’ll drop by the thrift store and see if I can find a trench in my size.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sandboxy enough for me

Sandbox. It’s a gaming term that many people will have a somewhat different definition for. What is it?

Well, unless you are all about totally “winging it” as a GM, you need to do a lot of prep on a lot of locations when you are thinking sandbox. Have all your ducks in a row, as they say. If you start players in a location, they can hear about and choose from a variety of directions and places to go. Head to the hills up North where rumors of giants with sacks of gold come from, or go to the Western Forest to visit the old abandoned wizard tower the barkeep has told you about. Maybe just head south and explore some wilderness hexes. The GM has something to offer no matter where the players might go.

Is this really sandbox, or are you just creating enough railroad tracks to make it seem like a sandbox (paraphrasing Frank Mentzer, I believe)?

In my teens I took a rare break from my own gameworld to do a few sessions of City State of the Invincible Overlord. The players made up characters, and I had them be non-natives showing up at the city gates. From there, they were free to go where they wanted. Go into that tavern and look for action? Sure. Go into the bath house and talk to the dolphin that just appeared in a pool? Whatever. Go down in the sewers to investigate rumors of a Wraith Overlord? Fine by me. It was a lot of fun, but lets face it – every one of those locations the player visited where set encounters with their own preset plot hooks and rumors and such. Was that true sandbox because the players decided which stores to go to first? I dunno.

I guess it is still something to taste that is very debatable. What do I think of trying to sandbox? Well, as a kid things seemed more freeform. But as adulthood started I was doing more plot driven things. I would not say railroady, because I have always thought the character freewill was important to the games. But If I start a game and say “you guys hear about a newly discovered system of caves under the city rumored to have monsters and treasures” and the players say “Naw, we’d rather go out in the woods and explore unmarked hexes” then I am probably already running a shit campaign that the players have no respect for anyway.

I think my current players want some freedom to do some things in-character that they want to do, but as far as the main adventure I think they want some fairly well defined goals. Go visit that dungeon, go explore this abandoned tower, go find that enemy who left us for dead.

Like right now I'm doing a 1st ed. campaign set in the Night Below. Pretty linear, right? But a couple of games ago a (rolled encounter) Minotaur hunting group appeared out of a side tunnel and eventually got defeated. Appearing to come from a larger group (they weren't bearing lots of supplies or water), the players decided to go down the side tunnels and look into it. The party druid changed into a bat and swooped down many miles of tunnels where I had to randomize everything, including a small minotaur fishing village and a minotaur giant maze city (something I had been thinking about for a while, and got the chance here to display it) that the players found mighty cool and unexpected (sadly, they decided to leave that place for their currents tasks at hand, maybe to return and explore more one day).

But players deciding to "got north instead of south to the dungeon" is great in small quantities, but I would get tired of that sooner or later no matter how creative I am. It's more fun for me if the players can decide on a solid goal and follow through with it, instead of going in the opposite direction from what I've prepared or burning down inns on a whim or whatever.

If I create a dungeon I want the players to go to it, not go in the opposite direction. I can handle it if they do, but they can think a little bit about my fun too. I'm a DM, not a damn civil servant.

Those old City state sessions from my teens were the most open and free games I ever ran, and the experience and challenge made me a decent and capable GM later in life. Generally, I think it is great to have some choices, but also for the DM to light a fire here and there to temp the players into certain actions. The best games are a combo of choice and available plot hooks. Sure, I could just tell players to go wander willy nilly and crack open the Old School Encounter reference and randomize every little thing. Hex by hex wilderness crawl or whatever. But I think most players want a GM to have certain plans for them (and those plans are at their best when they come in the form of the DM being inspired by the characters), while leaving some wiggle room for improv adventure.

The party knows about an old haunted tower outside of town that perks up their interest. But the party thieves want to go do a bit of pick pocketing at the market place while the rest of the party hits up the beer tent to buy some rounds for locals and maybe hear some rumors about the tower. That's cool. Sandboxy enough for me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Call of Cthulhu Fridays: Time Periods

Happy 120th birthday HPL! You sick bastiche.

It has been around 10 years since my last Call of Cthulhu game, and now that my group seems to be getting more open to lots of non-D&D alternatives to our regular game, I figure next year might be a good time to introduce it to some CoC . My long time player Terry is the only one of them with any experience with the game, and she loved it. She actually had a character survive at least two campaigns with her sanity mostly intact (by staying in the background and hiring a gangster bodyguard).

But should I do it in the 20’s again? I’ve had a couple of long running CoC campaigns, and they have both taken place between 1919 and 1922. One I set in the Los Angeles area, and the other shorter campaign in and around Arkham.

Victorian England is temping, and there are sourcebooks available for that setting. And I work a couple weekends of a Charles Dickens Christmas Faire up in San Francisco during the holidays, so plenty of inspiration there (the White Chapel district that they set up inside the Cow Palace is just dark and creepy). Switch that era to the Old West, and you have a setting I would love to do CoC for. Last week I got my hands on a copy of Deadlands, and that is inspiring an old west thing even more.

American Revolution seems like untouched and fertile ground for a few games. Or how about the Elizabethan Renaissance (my Ren Faire experience should really pay off for that)?

Hell, I think CoC with some Cro-Magnon Man tribesmen might even be worth a whirl.

Oh man. If only there was time for them all.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dungeon Wallop among Dark Clouds

So last Saturday was the “Minicon” event in Anaheim, and the earlier part of the day went well. I’m pretty heartened by the fact that I played a con style game session with pretty much strangers and still had a good time. I had at this point in life given up entirely on that, but enjoyed the game and the other players. No, I don’t think hell froze over (but I’m sure I’ll find out if it’s hot or cold down there soon enough).

One thing I didn’t mention in the last post was the fact that I attended this thing with a bit of a dark cloud hanging over my head. As you might have read in this post a few weeks ago, I played in local guy Christian’s 3rd edition game and did not exactly have the kind of experience you want when you sit down at the game table. My post ended up having more teeth than I expected. Although my only real direct criticism for Chris was the presence of a waste of space player that he had as his prime player, I think he was struck by fingers being pointed at the DM by comment makers regarding the situation. In retrospect, I agree with lots of them, and might have more to say on it in the near future.

But the (sad) fact is Christian was not only going to attend the Minicon thing as a player, but also as a GM. Well, within a couple of days of my original post Christian pulled out of the event entirely. The online community is a fairly small one, and the ramifications spread to places like Dragonsfoot and OD&D Discussion forums. Wild. And naturally the only thing you can take from that is he was not going to attend because of me.

So I was showing up to this thing with that hanging over me. I wished Chris had at least tried to talk to me about it, but looking back on it now all I can really think of is what a pussy move it was. We could have been at this thing shaking hands and laughing about it, but now I guess there is no smoothing things over – assuming there ever was anything needed smoothing. So I have some unwanted advice for Chris, but I will save that for another day.

There were also quite a few personalities from Dragonsfoot forums in attendance, but I’m pretty sure none of them were folk that I got into some “spirited” debates with there. Pretty much all of them were cool on me, and a couple went out of their way to come up to me and press flesh before they took off for the evening. One of the DF opinionated souls, Mobad, even sat in for my evening session.

So Cyclopeatron’s Gamma World went great, and afterwards I was in a great mood for running my OD&D session. But would anyone be there to play it? It was almost 7PM, and the gamers were slowly making their way out. Like I said, I did get a chance to briefly talk to some Dragonsfoot folk in attendance who had been in other sessions, including Wheggi and Telecanter. I’m hoping to get the chance to talk to some of these guys more in the future, and also hoping the Minicon can maybe be a twice a year thing rather than one.

So I did indeed have a small contingent of folk there specifically to play my OD&D, and I was very jazzed about that. But about half of my eight players for the evening were drop-ins who were (I think) planning to play in another evening session, but as it turned out mine was the only late shift session. We had the big beautiful room to ourselves! I took advantage of that fact and got my boombox out of the trunk so I could play some Vasen and a few of my video game soundtracks (Chrono Cross and Vagrant Story) during the dungeon wallop.

OK, game recaps are generally boring, so suffice it to say that it turned out to be a very fun session. Everybody was enthusiastic and into their characters, which were a nice mix of all the possible types (no hobbits, sadly). They moved around the 1st level mostly, fighting various low level pests with great humor. I even managed to kill a character, a cleric, in my giant centipede room. The player rolled up another cleric on the spot, and even got much better stats so I don’t think he minded the demise at all. He just continued plugging away with the new guy. Awesome. It all went by so fast, and before we knew it 11 o’clock hit and we had to wrap it up. I made sure everybody got my email in case we had a chance in the future to continue with as many of the players as possible. At least a couple are interested in me doing a session in or around the Socal Smackdown convention Labor Day weekend. That will be great if we can work it out.

So I think the big thing here is that I played with and DM’d for a bunch of strangers, and it was not the shitty experience I have had with that sort of thing in the past. I found that I can have some fun outside my own group, and that is a good thing. Heartwarming, really. Like that a-hole the Grinch’s heart growing all big.

One thing I want to mention is that around 9PM there were huge explosions outside nearby, and I almost freaked. Then I realized we were practically next door to Disneyland, and the fireworks show was going on. I cannot believe that I was so into the gaming that I had long forgotten that Disneyland, a place I loved so much as a kid, was right there. Pretty cool.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mutants of Metal!

This last Saturday was the Socal “Minicon” game day. I was actually scheduled to play in a morning game and an afternoon session, and also to do a dungeon crawl session of OD&D in the evening.

As it was almost an hour’s drive to Orange County, I eventually decided not to play two sessions then have to run my own game all worn out, so I decided to show up for Cyclopeatron’s afternoon Gamma World game as the one session I would play in.

As any regular reader can probably tell, I don’t do much playing outside of my own group (although these experiences tend to make for some entertaining posts). I have most often found it to be a disagreeable experience at best. I really just prefer to hand pick my players for a regular group, and if I get the rare itch to sit down as a player, I try to get somebody in my group to run something.

But if I was going to run a game at this event, I decided I needed to also play in somebody else’s session. Bob “Cyclopeatron” seemed like a decent enough guy online, and he had a truly interesting idea for a Gamma World one-shot.

I hit the road around 1PM, and if you are from anywhere in LA you know Saturday afternoon traffic to The OC can be a bummer of a bitch. The I-5 was a big part of the trip, and at one point it turns into three lanes and is just a nightmare. So as you can guess I was running a bit late for the 2PM session.

The area was right around Disneyland, and it tripped me out. I haven’t been to Disneyland in over 20 years, and things in the area had really changed. When I was a young man the area around the park was pretty open, but it had really developed since then. Residences and big hotels and shopping areas – Oh my! I was a bit disoriented by that, but found the location of the Minicon pretty easy once I got away from the big traffic.

The event was being held in a large glass community room near the pool, and it was a great and well lit room for gaming in. There were three tables in the room with upwards of 8 people at each, with a fourth table outside with a game going on. For sure a great turnout! I found Cyclopeatron’s table, introduced myself, and after going back out to get better parked the game was on.

OK, here is the basic premise of the scenario. This Gamma World setting was set in a very far future, in a time when all living things had been so mutated and interbred so much that all things contained human, animal, and plant genes. I had seen this premise in some old sci fi of the 70’s, and found it interesting.

Our characters were a band of heavy metal musicians. In this world, this kind of performer was a respected sort of bard, and travelled the lands bringing rock to the huddled and heavily mutated masses. My character, “Child Eyes,” and another player’s charcter were The Tipton Brothers, and we seemed to be the main force behind the band. We came from a famous rock family. Our mother had recently been killed, our home destroyed, and our family heirloom and relic “The Gibson Guitar” had been stolen.

In our travels we found a flyer for another band, “Zygotus,” who featured the Gibson in their photo. We had found our guitar, and we needed to go to the local town of dogmen to await Zygotus’ arrival for a big concert. There was a lot of arguing with the local town guards, because we didn’t want to leave our weapons (swords, axes, exploding ninja stars, flamethrowers, etc.) at the door. They seemed to have the ability to scan us for powers and weapons, so we didn’t have much choice. We spent a lot of time at this, and quite frankly I was worried that we would ever be able to finish up this game in the one sitting we had for it. My boy Child Eyes Tipton wanted to confront the band right there on stage at concert night. That would eventually happen, but there seemed to be a lot of the typical screwing around with minor things and issues that I don’t think have much place in a 4-hour one time session. In the end though, this wasn’t really a big issue.

We got to confront Zygotus on stage, reveal them for cyborgs and robots, win the hearts of the people, and get our Gibson back. We ended the night and the game with our band (which I don’t think we ever named but I was referring to as “Van Tipton”) bringing true flesh and blood rock to the masses.

I know the way I tell the tale might sound lame, but this was actually a really great session. We had a lot of laughs with our weird characters, and all the heavy metal imagery was fun. The only thing missing was actual heavy metal to listen to (I had my boombox in the car, but the room was just kind of crowded with other gaming for tunes to be played). Also, Cyclo is a fairly soft spoken guy, and in a room full of loud gaming it was hard to hear what he was saying sometimes. But he had a strong grip on his scenario, and things moved along pretty well despite a lot of piddling around by our characters.

Cyclopeatron got applause from us at the end of the game, something I cannot really recall from any game I have played in. My own damn regulars certainly don’t throw a clap my way, and I give them my heart and soul.

Anyway, congrats to Cyclopeatron (real name “Bob”) for a great showpiece game. I think he really needs to put together a scenario pack featuring themes and situations from this session (using Mutant Future of course) and make it available (to sell or otherwise) to the old school retro clone community. I think he might have a Carcosa level hit on his hands.

OK, that was my session as a player. For the night shift I ran my OD&D game, and I’ll follow up on that in my next post later this week.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Check out this interesting post at Grognardia, because as far as all the philosophical and political themes bandied about in the old school community – well, I’m the village idiot so don’t ask me what I think. Although I love some things that have come along in the OSR, especially awesome (and free) ones like the Old School Encounter Reference, I really would have been OK plugging away with my games these days just like I did in the old days. Making do with my own adventures in my own game world, occasionally dipping into published adventures.

I got back into gaming two years ago not even aware there was a renaissance going on, but that was just icing on the cake. I love talking about games and sharing my experience, but I have no need to buy lots of the current popular items like Carcosa, or James Raggi’s inspiring efforts of self-publishing. They interest me, but I already have such a huge backlog of my own gaming material I may never get around to everything I want to gamewise. And I’m trying to have less things I own cluttering my life. I ain’t getting any younger, you know? If I don’t need something I don’t really want it.

The new stuff is exciting and inspiring, but I don’t really need it. That is selfish and not really helpful to the community, but that is just how it is. I have plenty of game stuff to last me a lifetime, and if I do buy something new to use that will be once in a blue moon, and is more likely to be something from back in the day, like Tegal Manor or something from Ebay, over something written ,produced, and published by a blogger.

So some scrubs have decided to self-publish, and they are using a copyrighted logo. There are those who are worried this will bring bad attention from WOTC, and they have a point. But I don’t know how much it would affect me personally. I don’t really buy the new material from the OSR, nor do I buy anything from WOTC. Besides the occasional miniature, I don’t go into game shops and buy games. I have not paid money for a new item from the makers of D&D since probably the late 80’s. Something like The Night Below or Dark Sun I have I got from Ebay or something like that. I guess I’m not really supporting anyone. I’m just running my damn games.

Anyway, wherever I stand, I have to say I most admired the words of Will Mistretta on the Grognardia post. Will is a rabble rouser and I don’t often agree with what he has to say, but these are bold words, especially when you consider that most of the self-publishers who actually have something to be worried about read Grognardia. Here, without paraphrasing but not necessarily in order, are some of the comments Will had to make on the thread. Viva le revolution!

"..No, because in many cases Legal Code is shaped and part of the Moral and Ethical values of a culture. I'm not sure how you can sit there and say trying to link the two together is 'immoral', as you try to imply Will…"

“…All I can say is that I'm glad the men who forced the Magna Carta, the American revolutionaries, the conductors on the Underground Railroad, Ghandi, Rosa Parks, and many more weren't of your ilk…”

“…An uncritical "the law's the law" attitude is a lazy cop-out that aids and abets the worst kinds of corruption and tyranny. The idea, if you can call it that, that legality and illegality map directly to ethical right and wrong respectively is as dangerous as it is inane. And that's saying a lot…”

“…The only two men with a rightful claim of ownership over the game or its name are dead and so I don't care what the law says in this case. D&D belongs to gamers everywhere now. I applaud these guys for having the guts to tell Hasbro where to shove it…”

“…You think it's possible to separate the two. I don't. I see some brave (or foolhardy, the only difference is often in the results) individuals challenging the supposed "right" of a faceless corporate entity to exert arbitrary control over a great game loved by millions that they had no part in creating. Good for them. D&D should belong to the world, just like chess, poker, baseball, and all the other great games...”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Call of Cthulhu Friday: Princess Tasha

During the 90’s I had a long running CoC campaign that I called “Canal House.” The character home base was in a small, two story house on the newly built Canals of America in Venice Beach, California. The house was owned by a mysterious, well-travelled man named Mr. Troy (sort of a chubby little Truman Capote type guy) who filled the house with antiques, many of which had an occult background. It was set up as an antique shop, appointment only.

In the very first game Mr. Troy, who had a lot of Hollywood friends and associates, held a party at Canal House that included the new player characters. They came from diverse backgrounds, but for one reason or another were at that party. There was a Texas cowgirl who was coming to California to try to be a star in westerns, a big heavyweight boxer who was looking for his big time break, a New York gin mill torch singer who had survived a previous CoC campaign I did, and a private investigator with a heavy military background.

Occultists looking for an artifact in the house assaulted the party with clubs and knives. They were dressed in white robes and skull masks, and as most guests ran in terror the player characters stepped up and fought them off. Impressed, Mr. Troy hired them on the spot to stay at Canal House and work for him in occult investigations. In return, he would use his contacts to help them with their desires. A few adventures were had, including fighting more occultists in the Santa Monica mountains, fighting off attacks by Deep Ones that swam right up the canals to Canal House, and facing a fire God on the Santa Monica pier (on the same date as the pier burned down in real life).

Several games in one of my regular D&D players, Planet Janet, decided to give Call of Cthulhu a try (she fell in love with the game right away after hemming and hawing about playing it). She came up with Tasha Romanoff, a sort of Anastasia type who escaped from her mythical Finnish kingdom when her evil satanic uncle killed her family and took over in a military coup. Hiding out in Venice Beach, Tasha was attacked by agents of her uncle, and was saved by the players. Tasha joined the house group and adventures continued.

One great scenario was in a New Mexico mining town under sway of Mythos forces. A pair of evil mine baron brothers ran the place, and some cool encounters took place, including a cowboy style shootout on a dark street in the middle of a rainstorm. At one point the big boxer and Princess Tasha were stripped and tied up by a weirdo brother who intended to molest them both. But the other brother, a fast draw revolver fanatic, demanded a fast draw between him and the naked and bound boxer. The boxer was untied, and with an amazing roll on his to-hit percentage shot the gun toting brother dead, and knocked the other one out. This was actually one of a few times the boxer had saved Tasha, and he became sort of a bodyguard for her. You will see the irony of this at the end of the story.

Eventually it became time for Tasha and friends to go to her kingdom, “Midgardia,” and wrest it from the clutches of her evil uncle. She had gotten word that a rebellion awaited, so off they went to Europe to infiltrate the land. Hooking up with loyal soldiers of her family, Tasha and friends stormed the castle, fighting their way in. Tasha was separated, and ended up in a chamber with her uncle and some monks. She was tied up naked on an alter ready to be sacrificed to uncle’s dark gods.

The party and soldiers fought their way to the sacrificial rooms, and it was the boxer, Tasha’s protector, who burst in first. Now, boxer was a rough and tumble dude, but at this point in the game he was relying on his now trusty elephant gun more than his wits or fists. You know how over reliance on guns can backfire in CoC. Even though there were some of uncle’s soldiers with rifles in the room, boxer shot his elephant gun at uncle, although his focus was suddenly on the invaders and not Tasha.

I told the player “Gary, you know that there is a chance you’ll hit Tasha, right? Her and uncle are pretty much in the same hex.”

Gary was just all “Gotta do it. Gotta.” He was always the combat hog who wanted to take out the bad guy.

So ‘click’ ‘boom’ Gary’s boxer shot his gun, and rolled a 00. Now, CoC had no crit or cruddy, but in any game I run I ask my players before a campaign if they want crits and fumbles. They almost always say “yes.” So it was with this game, and a 00 is going to mean a malfunction, or a hitting another target next to the intended target. Sooo…Gary misses, and I tell him to roll damage. It ended up being something like 16 points. Tasha, with 9 hit points, leaves this veil of tears in a violent way as her young, lovely dark haired head is blown into a hundred bits by a gun designed to take down mastodons.

The soldiers open fire and kill the boxer. Soldiers and the other characters come in and after a bit of shooting fun take out uncle and his men. When the PC’s fully realize what happened, there is some nice sanity loss all around for all. Young Princess Tasha has come home.
In the campaign wrap-up, the PC’s take train and boat home. On the long trip, they lay their heads down at night. They dream of the horrible things they have fought together and overcome in America all the way to Europe, and the dream usually ends with visions of beautiful Princess Tasha’s head turned into red, oozing oatmeal on an alter to dark entities.

Nice, eh? Could you ask for a sadder and more horrifying end to a campaign? Well, it is Call of Cthulhu after all.