Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

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Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by Keeper Dan » Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:03 am

Episode 14 gives us a new Lecture, a fresh crop of ENnie winners, and we finish off with discussion on options for your campaigns regarding published adventures, original stories and sandboxing.

We misplaced Murph again, so we cast Summon Co-Host, and we snared a Keeper Chad. We then crammed his brain into a Mi-Go cylinder and plugged him into our Skype.

We start things off with a well populated Campus Crier.
HPL's 122nd birthday was on August 20th. The site with the cakes is here, and you can listen to Happy Birthday on a theremin!

We then discussed a great article called: Bringing history to life in a game setting. The designer behind Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land , Tomas Rawlings, has written an article on how they took real WWI medical tech and integrated it into their game.
For Keepers setting their game up through the 20′s, this is great information on what kind of first aid supplies are likely to be seen in various locations.

There are several pictures for examples and many links to additional information sprinkled through the article. A great read.
The article is hosted by Wellcome Trust.
We then talk about the fantastic progress of Chaosium's Horror on the Orient Express Kickstarter campaign.
Dan mentions Edition Wars, from Gamer Nation Studios.
We also discuss the Kickstarter from Caleb Stokes for several Depression Era scenarios for any horror RPG.

The Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter can be found here. This is one of the largest Kickstarter completions to date. Over 3.42 million dollars raised.

We have a couple of voice mails. Starting with Brett Kramer reminding us that there was indeed an Innsmouth sourcebook.

Voice mail number two is from Brian Cortemanche, who is all signed up for NecronomiCon Providence. He's hoping to meet other MUP listeners at the con!

Jon mentions Robert M Price will be at NecronomiCon. He had a great interview with the Monster Talk Podcast.
Here's a mention of last years Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast.

We then have a new lecture from Dr. Gerard at the Miskatonic University History Department -- on the topic of 'Stalin’s Ape-Man Army'.

We discuss the original Planet of the Apes book, Gorilla Grodd, cyborg gorillas, and the HPL Literary Podcast episode 13.

We play a promo for the HP Lovecraft Live podcast.
We'd love to play promos for other shows, so if you're involved in a Mythos/weird fiction/RPG podcast, let us know and we'll play your promo.
Also, if you're an artist or musician, let us know and we'd be happy to feature your work on the show and website.
And if you have a podcast and would like to play our promo, you can find it on our feed or right here.

We then cover the 2012 ENnie Awards winners that are in the Horror genre.

Best Art, Cover
Cthulhu by Gaslight (Chaosium Inc.) *Silver Winner*
Cover art by Paul Carrick. Chad mentions this video.

Best Electronic Book
Cthulhu Apocalypse: The Apocalypse Machine (Graham Walmsley & Pelgrane Press) *Gold Winner*
The Yog Radio episode with Graham is number 46. (Patrons can listen to the Yog Radio back catalog)

Best Podcast
Role Playing Public Radio *Gold Winner*
These guys do a lot of CoC content. Their live plays have a lot of Call of Cthulhu, Delta Green and some Trail of Cthulhu and Invictus.
Jon's Murder of Crows Actual Play is here. The Doom From below is a loosely connected sequel.

Best Setting
Cthulhu Britannica: Shadows Over Scotland (Cubicle 7) *Gold Winner*
Purchase from RPG Now The other two Cthulhu Britannica books are here and here.
Amazon offers all three books as well. Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3.

Best Supplement
GURPS Horror, Fourth Edition (Steve Jackson Games) *Silver Winner*
Cthulhu by Gaslight (Chaosium Inc.) *Gold Winner*

Best Writing
GURPS Horror, Fourth Edition (Steve Jackson Games) *Silver Winner*
The Investigator’s Guide to Occult London (Pelgrane Press) *Gold Winner*
(Order here)
The Yog Radio episode with the interview with Paula Dempsey is number 48. The interview is available here. (Whole episode here)

Other products mentioned:
Night's Black Agents, by Ken Hite (Order here)
The Savage Worlds version of Cthulhu gaming is called Realms of Cthulhu. &x=0&y=0&author=&artist=&pfrom=&pto=&affiliate_id=101638 ]Adventures available for Realms.
Hardback of Realms of Cthulhu.

Main Topic:
Published adventure modules vs. sandboxing your game.
The Dresden Files RPG has group creation of the setting an integral part of the rules.
DriveThru RPG bundle. Hard Cover: Book 1, Book 2

The site Ideology of Madness has the Funnybooks podcast, and some RPG live-play stuff as well. Their Knights of Reignsborough superhero campaign is one of the games Dan mentioned, and their Star Trek: Aegean game (that apparently fizzled). Both are fascinating examples of group setting creation.

We also went into our thoughts on clue finding for player characters.
Jon suggests giving out bare clues to progress the plot without a roll, and added detail with a passed roll.

Chad said that granting the info and implying that there may be more on a pass can move the plot forward.

Dan suggests allowing characters that have:
(A) The needed skills as part of their profession skill list.
-or-
(B) if they have 70%+ in the skill. (Another % can be used too.)
They get the clue automatically, and a roll would grant the skill check and additional benefits on a success.

Chad mentions a game site called The Alexandrian. There are a number of useful articles on there."
3-Clue RuleNode-Based Scenario Design
Don't Prep Plots
Game Structures
Part 5 of the Game Structures series is Mysteries

Jon's adventure, The Lock-In is mentioned. The live-play can be found here.
The Lock-In can be found in the Dead Leaves Fall monograph published by Chaosium. Print Version PDF Version

We would also love to hear your ideas for player-based topics for us to talk about. Send us a note directly, or go to the Campus forum with your ideas!

Here is the discussion thread for this podcast posted on the Yog-Sothoth forums.
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Re: Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by TAK » Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:17 pm

Keeper Dan wrote: The site Ideology of Madness has the Funnybooks podcast, and some RPG live-play stuff as well. Their Knights of Reignsborough superhero campaign is one of the games Dan mentioned, and their Star Trek: Aegean game (that apparently fizzled). Both are fascinating examples of group setting creation.
The way they created these settings and so forth sounds awfully a lot like Microscope. Now, I've been thinking of combining Microscope with Fiasco at some point, might be an interesting experiment.

Overall, I'm very into sandboxing, mainly because that is how I learned to play back in the day. Non of us could afford books in the beginning, so we borrowed some (one of our GMs seemed to have an infinite source for new games and for whatever reason seemed to know all the rules almost by heart... of course, he was great at improv, so maybe he just did that the whole time), printed/photocopied some important stuff and sometimes got some interesting things like those AD&D 2e spell boxes to help out, but we almost never had any setting books.
Our first Forgotten Realms campaign was based on the info we got from The Icewind Dale trilogy and Volo's Guide to the North. The only things we had from AD&D 2e were photocopied pages of the races and classes and the spell boxes for priests and mages, that's it. So, we kinda had to make shit up and TBH, after we got some of the setting books, our stuff was much better :roll:

EDIT: BTW, NobleKnight.com is an awesome store for OOP stuff, much better (and most times cheaper) than Amazon or eBay, in case you wanna direct people to buy some of the older stuff... not sure if this would fall under adverticement, but you do mention Amazon and eBay, so I don't see it being a problem.
DISCLAIMER: I'm in no way affiliated with Noble Knight, I'm just a happy customer :)

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Re: Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by Dr. Gerard » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:20 pm

TAK wrote: EDIT: BTW, NobleKnight.com is an awesome store for OOP stuff, much better (and most times cheaper) than Amazon or eBay, in case you wanna direct people to buy some of the older stuff... not sure if this would fall under adverticement, but you do mention Amazon and eBay, so I don't see it being a problem.
DISCLAIMER: I'm in no way affiliated with Noble Knight, I'm just a happy customer :)
Awesome, Toni. I was the one who mentioned Amazon and Ebay, and nearly bit my tongue afterwards because I knew there were much better sites out there to patronize but none sprang to mind at the time. Pretty sure there's no big rules against mentioning companies on the show, but it's great to promote alternatives if possible.
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Re: Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by Dr. Gerard » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:23 pm

TAK wrote: The way they created these settings and so forth sounds awfully a lot like Microscope. Now, I've been thinking of combining Microscope with Fiasco at some point, might be an interesting experiment.
Interesting systems -- I'll check those out along with Dan's suggestions. Dan's idea for collaborative world-building for Cthulhu is pretty intriguing. An entirely collaborative investigation game seems near impossible to pull off if you want to maintain a sense of mystery, but as he said in the show, it does seem there could be a way to establish a setting and a tone before launching into the roleplay. I'm playing a PbP game of Burning Empires at the moment, my first time playing such a collaborative world0building system...and I'm very much enjoying it. The best thing is that you get complete buy-in from the players.

So...how could we make this work for a game that still feels like an investigation? How much would ideally be collaborative, and how much of the world would be kept "behind the Keeper's screen"?

Just to help define the flavor of the campaign, maybe the group could somehow arrive at some general parameters and descriptors for the things they're fighting. Interstellar vs. Subterranean. Big Conspiracy vs. One Mastermind. Weird Science vs. Magic. International vs. Local. And so on. That would leave plenty of mystery left for the Keeper to play with.

Such a process would be great for creating a sense of common mission among player-characters. I spent nearly half of one of my campaigns trying to get my players to form a team with a common goal under an organization of their own. Maybe a world-building system could establish the group's organization from the beginning. Perhaps it could incorporate the thing that Trail of Cthulhu calls "Drives." In ToC, players pick some kind of focus that will cause their character to dig into the mysteries of the universe. Maybe a Lovecraftian world-building system could work out a matrix of personal Drives from the players and define an overall mission/Drive for a group that they create before roleplay? So the group's mission scope could range from a Delta Green-like para-government group that investigates and covers things up, to a faction of a secret society, a Ghostbusters type of business or just a "neighborhood gang" like Goonies or Stand by Me.

I also really like the idea of creating an entirely new Lovecraftian setting. I guess you'd start with general geography, as Jon suggested. How would you flesh out the other details?
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Re: Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by Keeper Dan » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:52 pm

Thanks for the link, Toni! They do have some fantastic prices in there. I wish I had cash to throw at them for books I only have in PDF.
I do a lot of links to Amazon partly because they're everywhere and it's easy to find a reference to any book you want, but also because I have an affiliate code with them. We get a few pennies if someone buys something from them after clicking on one of my links over there. So far there hasn't been any takers, but it's there just in cast someone does want to use it.
I'm also working out an affiliate thing with DriveThru RPG. That will give us a little credit with their store, so we can get things for review and/or gaming.


For the sandboxing of a CoC/mystery game... My thought is that the group would co-create the mood/vibe/tone of the game itself, location, and several of the local NPCs, but the plot would be created by the GM after the setting was in place.
I'll use Knights of Reignsborough as an example. The group decided on what kind of comic feel to make the game. They were with street-level heroes that while were powerful, were not in the level of cosmic badassery that some superheroes can get. They didn't want death. They created the city the game was based in, the location, mood, and a number of specific set pieces. There is a prison island off of the coast that somehow removes all powers of people who go there. They created an underworld to Reignsborough, so there is a city under the city. They wanted ethnic groups, so there is a Chinatown and Native American neighborhoods. They also established a "little New Orleans" where much of the supernatural elements hang out.
All of that was hashed out by the whole group, but it doesn't cover anything in the way of a plot. The stuff that Aron (the GM) made for the story worked within that framework, but was purely his creation. I'd think Dresden would work the same way. The book series is mysteries, but the characters certainly know the city like the back of their hands.
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Re: Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by Dr. Gerard » Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:38 pm

Keeper Dan wrote: For the sandboxing of a CoC/mystery game... My thought is that the group would co-create the mood/vibe/tone of the game itself, location, and several of the local NPCs, but the plot would be created by the GM after the setting was in place.
Even if it was just a flowchart questionnaire to zero in on theme and setting issues, that would be incredibly useful for a group at the start of a campaign.
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Re: Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by Zombieneighbours » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:03 am

I have gamed with Graham walmsley a few times. He ran us use through the scenarios from Dead White World the first Cthulhu Apocalypse supplement. He used Cthulhu Dark, which was as then unpublished, and it was very cool.

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Re: Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by Dr. Gerard » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:33 am

Zombieneighbours wrote:I have gamed with Graham walmsley a few times. He ran us use through the scenarios from Dead White World the first Cthulhu Apocalypse supplement. He used Cthulhu Dark, which was as then unpublished, and it was very cool.
Interesting. How would you characterize his Keeper style?
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Re: Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by Zombieneighbours » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:46 am

A little stilted, but enjoyable. I personally prefer his written scenarios to his keepering, but he isn't by any means bad.

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Re: Miskatonic University Podcast 14- Sandbox or Published?

Post by Zombieneighbours » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:55 am

Oh, and while I think about it. I can think of another RPG that has a really strong connection to its written scenarios, and that is Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which is very strongly tied to the legendary Enemy Within campaign.

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