Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Call of Cthulhu Wild West - finally living the Dream


I've run three major Call of Cthulhu campaigns Since I was a teen. Two set in 1930's Los Angeles, and two in 1930's New York. Ah, memories. that last one was about 10 years ago for my long running Santa Monica group. I ran a lot of 1st ed over those years, but also managed to get in campaigns (of various lengths) of a bunch of genres. White Box DnD, Metamorphosis Alpha, Runequest, Traveller. But that Cthulhu one, though only maybe a dozen sessions in length, was fun. I called it Fangs of New York, and the first session was set in a Times Square upper story banquet hall at a new years eve party. 

I recall though having fun with that little campaign, but even at that time I was sort of pining to run the system in other time periods. Ancient Rome, Ancient Sumer, maybe even the Old West.  I felt like I had my fill of the 20's-30's. 

Up until the recent holiday season I had a decent 5th ed DnD group going. A fun bunch. Everybody was from off the Roll20 forums, and by this time I had learned to vet prospective players. Heavily. There is a lot of chaff to shift through to find the goods. And everybody was very cool. The most fun for me was a young couple, maybe in their early 20's, who were very enthusiastic noobs and I had a lot of laughs with them. But of course if you have a couple in your group, you aren't just getting somebody who might leave the group for whatever reason. You are typically losing TWO. That is the nature of a couple. They usually want to play together. But whatever is going on with them, we have not heard from that besides one chime in last month saying the wanted to play one night, but it has been silent since. The way I figure it, the thing young couples do best is break up. So my assumption is there. 

As it was the holidays, I called a few weeks break mid-December. I had not taken vacation time from my job for months, and wanted to use some of it. 

By the time New Years Eve came around, I had gotten the notion to try and get a Western themed Cthulhu thing going. It just popped into my head. Hey, if the DnD campaign is done, I want to jump right into something else. 

 I tested the waters with a post in the Roll20 forums, and just like my expectations told me I did not get much reply. I tried a few spots in other places, and eventually was lucky enough to stumble upon a Call of Cthulhu Facebook page with a huge membership. My post there got a huge response. 

I did not vet that hard. This was a niche genre, but plenty of people were interested. I actually had to choose several from a dozen or so inquiries. I had a couple of shortish Discord chats. The only one who did not continue by the night of the first game was a guy who wanted to run a Paleontologist. He had been running Cthulhu for years, but not in the format I wanted to do it. He wanted to play with Zoom, with video, and with theater of the mind. Well, in face to face or online I use battle maps, mini's/tokens, and Discord for voice. And everybody else I chose were into it. 

Ultimately, I ended up with mostly folk from the FB page who had played CoC, and also some of the remnants from the D&D group. 

So three easy going sessions so far. I mean, this is not DnD, and it has been years since I ran CoC. So I had to get more into a narrative style. Not relying on constant combats. Though I had to look for balance. Unlike my usual old campaigns of CoC, this was a more violent environment, and almost every character had guns. I set this campaign in 1886 Washoe County, that includes Reno, Carson City, and Virginia City. Towards the end of the gold rush in the west, and towards the end of what could be called The Old West in general. I mostly picked the time because most western weapons and tropes were around, and also because it was the year the University of Nevada opened in Reno. 

So far the characters are A female Doctor, a teenage female Chinese carnival trick shooter (both from San Franciso just hours away by train; and of course I'll want some adveturing there eventually), a two-fisted banker (from Virgina City who has survived dozens of robbery attempts), A writer based on Beauchamp from the movie Unforgiven (Duck of Death sez I), and former nun turned entertainer/dancer. 

Jordan, from the DnD campaign, has been on a long Canada trip so has yet to make it. Not even sure what he would run. For both of the guys from the DnD, they were kind of noobish to DnD, so for sure had zero CoC experience. They were not very interested until they heard I would be doing old western theme, and also they saw it was an easy peezy system, so they were in. 

So yeah, so far so good. So far just sort of settling into their lives in Reno, and encounters with cultishness related to Yig (losta snakes!), and Yidhra. 

I was at some game shop many years ago reading through one of the books and saw her entry and was fascinated ever since. She was for sure not a Lovecraft invention.
"...where Yidhra walks, the hills do not forget"

So yeah, as a believer in positive visualization I finally get to not just use this Outer God, but in a Western Cthulhu game. Boxes checked! I hope this campaign goes awhile!


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