Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

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UndeadDomain
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Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by UndeadDomain » Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:24 am

So this thread is about the search for advice and suggestions on a Miskatonic University Sandbox Campaign that I am currently running for my local tabletop group. As of this writing , the first game is tomorrow night, and I already have a basis for the first game but I hope to have it last a long time. That is where you guys come in. I'm a new keeper and this is also my first time really being part of a forum, so I was hoping to get some help and to get to know you guys on the forum better.

So some of my backstory, I'm a avid gamer who got his start like most people in Dungeons and Dragons (3.5 Ed) but I didn't really get started with tabletop gaming until mid college when I discovered the World of Darkness RPG game. Being an crazy fan of survival horror video games, I fell in love with that game, I played for years focusing mostly on Mortals games and attending Meetups for the other Whit Wolf lines and ran games for long runs. I even ran a White Wolf RPG Community group for a year. After I had my run with WoD I stated to branch out into other tabletop games and attended my first Con on Long Island (it was called RetCon if you're interested). While there I saw a group looking for players with this game called Call of Cthulhu. I decided to jump in since I have heard in passing it was a good game for horror. I played it and fell for it quickly, and for my first game, my character went temporarily insane after encountering a large nasty mass in the basement. I only saw it and for the rest of my game my character had an aversion to stickiness and sweat and moisture. I proceeded to have my character by a large amount of t shirts he would hold in his backpack and change them in the middle of conversations when he started feeling unclean. It was a blast and cemented my love for the game. (I even won "Best Roleplayer for that group). Now today I convinced my normal Pathfinder group to give CoC a try after we completed our campaign. I ran a one shot and they loved it and we proceeded on planning an ongoing campaign set at Miskatonic University with the players all being freshmen students at the University. Now in between all of this I discovered this amazing Podcast and now I'm jumping on the forum to attempt to get into the overall community. I love the stuff I hear and it was the Sandbox episode of the podcast that convinced me to focus on this for my campaign. I'm hoping that with this thread we can all share ideas and such on running a campaign focused around Miskatonic.

Just for you guys to know, I'm going to list all the Supplements I own for CoC in case there are things you want to reference in those books.

Call of Cthulhu Sixth Edition
H.P. Lovecraft's Arkham
Miskatonic University Sourcebook
H.P. Lovecraft's Dunwich
H.P. Lovecraft's Kingsport
H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands
Malleus Monstrorum
Keeper's Companion 1 and 2
The 1920's Investigator's Companion
Mansions of Madness
Secrets of New York
The House of R'lyeh
Cthulhu by Gaslight
Masks of Nyarlathtep
Shadows of Yog-Sothoth
Tatters of the King

That should be a good reference of what i have available to me. Thanks a lot guys and I hope to here back from the lot of you. I'll update this weekend to let you know how the first game went and to see what you guys think.

Keeper Jon
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Re: Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by Keeper Jon » Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:00 pm

Hey UndeadDomain! (May I call you UD?)

I love that story of your first encounter with CoC and The Mythos. I'm putting that into my back pocket, and I'll invoke that onto a player someday. Awesome!

And you and I have almost the same library of CoC game books, so that's cool too. You have a ton to work with. I love the idea of a sandbox game set on the University campus. So here are some ideas that came to my mind; I hope you find something here you can use.

1. Because your players are going to start off as Freshmen, the Freshman Year at any university is usually filled with just the core studies with maybe one course that would be part of that student's Major, (if that student has an idea of what their Major is going to be). So, I think you should only have one scenario set during their Freshman Year. Any more than that, and it would be too much of a coincidence, and could serve to drive a student out and away from that university. Of course, that one scenario could be four or five game sessions long. It is also possible for this adventure scenario to be set during a time period when the university is on a holiday break, in case you need an excuse for the university to be vacant of people, or the scenario takes the investigators off-campus.

2. After the Freshman Year scenario, advance all of the investigators one year in age, and then advance their EDU scores by one, and then give them 20 skill points that they must distribute to skills studied at university, with no more than five points being added to a single skill. And give 5 additional skill points that can be put on any non-university learned skill. As I type this, it now occurs to me that the Miskatonic University Sourcebook might have game rules on how to play and advance player characters through university life. If that book does have rules for that, then please use those rules. I'm just coming up with stuff off the top of my head.

3. Then, for the Sophomore Year, maybe again only have one unusual adventure that year, but there could be two adventures if they closely tied together. Starting in the Sophomore Year, it is conceivable that students may be on the early path to their Major. Which might include a rare opportunity for a Sophomore students to go on an off-campus exhibition. You might even be able to use one or two scenarios from Shadows of Yog-Sothoth during the Sophomore Year, but it might also mean that you adjust the linkage between each scenarios in order to allow for the investigators to attend their university classes.

And so on... and so forth. I absolutely want to hear more about this game. Please let us know how it goes.

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Re: Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by Dr. Gerard » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:34 am

Nice suggestions Jon. Also hoping we get updates.
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UndeadDomain
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Re: Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by UndeadDomain » Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:34 am

Hey Guys, sorry for the lack of an update, had a busy week.

So, the first game occurred and it went Ok... Just ok. My group had a harder time transitioning to a sandbox game then I anticipated. I had many hooks. Nothing bit. But it was an awesome RP session. We went thru the bus to Arkham, the college welcome and walkthrough. They met a lot of NPCs and had interesting conversations with all. I gave them plenty of rumors on the surrounding area as well as past events (Walter Gilman's death in the Witch House, and the raid at Innsmouth). They met some key professors as well as my own made up NPC named Reese Carter, who happens to be related to Randolph Carter (Randolph is his father's cousin.) They met the leftover Marshes from Innsmouth (they were at Miskatonic during the raid). Despite all these hooks, my group pretty much acted like a bunch of new students on their first day of college. There were some slow bits, since a lot of the crew spoke to different people. It just turned into a information fest. I was about to end the game with Reese inviting them to a fraternity party and they were gonna enter thru the campus tunnels (because of the curfew) but then we were stretched for time so we ended before I could get to that. My next game will probably the first Friday of March, since I have plans for the 28th.

So they all told me it was slow but the know that once they pursue a hook it will pick up pace. They seemed to take the sandbox like kids in awe of all their options haha. I'm hoping the next goes smoother and any advice again would be great. Thanks for the advice given previously, I decided to go with the grade system in the book and I plan to have them choose their classes during next game. I have to find a course catalog for 1928 for ideas.

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Re: Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by Thomas R. Knutsson » Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:09 pm

UndeadDomain wrote:So, the first game occurred and it went Ok... Just ok. My group had a harder time transitioning to a sandbox game then I anticipated. I had many hooks. Nothing bit. But it was an awesome RP session.
I've had the same problems with my sessions in the Kult RPG, but as long as you all have fun, that's all that matters.
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UndeadDomain
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Re: Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by UndeadDomain » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:34 am

Hey guys, turns out my group disbanded after the second game. Two of the players felt it was too slow going and didn't like the game system unfortunately. It fell apart when they came up against some ghouls and the two players felt it would make sense to engage the in fisticuffs rather then run and try to lose them. They got annoyed when they started losing. One other player tried helping but to no avail and the last player ran off when he saw they were overwhelmed. The two players blew up saying why would I let them face them if they had no chance at success and that our encounters should be scaled to what they could handle.

Now before I continue let me tell how they got to facing the ghouls. After following leads about missing students they eventually came to suspect an individual from out of town. After questioning him subtly they decided to break into his hotel room while he was out and look for evidence. By the way, the two players that blew were taking a backseat while the other two players were RPing it up. Anyway, They find a note thanking the man for some service and telling him that he requires new specimens before continuing his experiments and ask him to procure him these specimens. It also says the writer of the letter will send some trusted help to assist the man in his procurements. They decide to tail the man and during the tail he goes into a sewage treatment plant alone and then exits with three gaunt individuals in trench coats and hats. They walk to the graveyard, jumping the fence and leaving one individual at the gate as lookout. The two then decide the best course of action is to tackle the man on lookout and then keep following. During the initial tackle the man's hat falls off and lo and behold its a ghoul (I dont tell them this, I just describe it. The players not immediately in combat fail san but the two players that tackled, succeed. The ghoul cries a warning while fending off the attackers and then the other two ghouls come to help, third player tries to help but the three players proceed to get their butts handed to them. And thus, they blew up.

I was playing the game as a "purist" and I know this group was made up of d20 players but I was hoping to have them try a different style of play. No offense to d20 players but I seem to have learned the hard way that they just could not get use to not being the "heroes". I wrote a long detailed email telling the expectations of game, warning them that a bunch of college age student would not be able to go toe to toe with mythos creatures directly but it seemed my email was not read.

I am disheartened that these players did not have a good time but I fear I didn't know my troupe as well as I hope. Learn from my mistakes friends...

I still hope to run this campaign again in the future but I may need to find a group of semi experienced horror gamers.

Thanks for any help that was given I hope to get more advice on how to successfully run this game if possible. So let's keep up the conversation :-)

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Re: Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by Keeper Jon » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:26 am

Wow, man. I'm sorry your game died like that. It sounds like a great opening. I love the "thank you card" clue. It sounds like you definitely need some experienced players of CoC to play in your game. Good luck, bro.

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Re: Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by trevlix » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:53 am

That stinks about the game, but unfortunately sometimes that happens. From your description, it sounds like you gave them the appropriate information for how the game was going to be played. It sounds like their expectations were for something where they were a little more powerful, despite your warnings.

Do you think they would be interested again if you made it more pulpy, and then slowly eased them into the purist?
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UndeadDomain
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Re: Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by UndeadDomain » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:38 pm

trevlix wrote:Do you think they would be interested again if you made it more pulpy, and then slowly eased them into the purist?
Yeah I was thinking about going back and do it pulpy but the taste in their mouth is pretty sour. With how loud it got, I'm surprised I'm still in the group for Pathfinder. Honestly I think my best course is to get in touch with my old World of Darkness friends and see if they would be up for it. Of course, if anyone on the forum is in NYC, I'm always looking for local players and games.

and thank you Jon. I was actually melding bit of a House of R'yleh scenario and a Arkham Horror Fiction book called Ghouls of the Miskatonic.

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Re: Sandbox Miskatonic University (Advice and Suggestions)

Post by Keeper Jon » Thu May 01, 2014 1:57 am

UndeadDomain wrote:
trevlix wrote:Do you think they would be interested again if you made it more pulpy, and then slowly eased them into the purist?
Yeah I was thinking about going back and do it pulpy but the taste in their mouth is pretty sour. With how loud it got, I'm surprised I'm still in the group for Pathfinder. Honestly I think my best course is to get in touch with my old World of Darkness friends and see if they would be up for it. Of course, if anyone on the forum is in NYC, I'm always looking for local players and games.

and thank you Jon. I was actually melding bit of a House of R'yleh scenario and a Arkham Horror Fiction book called Ghouls of the Miskatonic.
That sounds like a cool scenario. I've read Ghouls of the Miskatonic, and I have the House of R'yleh book, but I haven't read any of the scenarios in it yet. Good on you, man.

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