Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

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EddyPo
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Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by EddyPo » Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:13 pm

Macabre Tales - The Cursed House

The old Hindley House, located five miles southwest of Arkham, has a dark reputation. Since 1812, all the house's residents have gone missing, never to be seen again. Johansen K. Walsh, unaware of the its reputation, has recently purchased this house with the intent of restoring it and selling if for a huge profit. To his dismay, none of the locals will go near the house, much less purchase it, because it is considered cursed. Frustrated that he can't sell the house, Walsh is looking for someone to find out why it is supposedly cursed and prove it is not. He is offering a great deal of money for an investigator's troubles. Will you take the job?

[The Cursed House is a scenario included in the core rule book of the Macabre Tales RPG published by Spectrum Games. I am looking for at least one player to run through this scenario with me here, play by post. Macabre Tales uses two sets of dominoes for each player rather than using dice. The rules are set up with an assumption of one player and one keeper, but there are optional rules for multiple players. I would be willing to run this with up to three players if there is any interest. Anyone wishing to join me will need their own two sets.

Experience with Macabre Tales isn't necessary. We can start with character creation, or if the player(s) prefer, I can provide pre-gens and we could get started right away.

I look forward to trying this game out. I hope someone else is too.]
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EddyPo
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Re: Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by EddyPo » Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:01 pm

[Oh and If you are hesitating to play because you don't have two sets of dominoes (who does?), I imagine it would be easy enough to make your own using index cards and a marker. I certainly wouldn't buy any sets just to play. And I don't think I mentioned this but the two sets you would need are the "Double Six" variety of dominoes.]
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Dr. Gerard
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Re: Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by Dr. Gerard » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:02 pm

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this works, but I think I've maxed out my game energy for now. I'm particularly curious about how one-on-one works out, because I haven't had a lot of luck with CoC solos. Do you think it solves pitfalls for solo investigation?
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Re: Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by EddyPo » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:42 pm

That is a really good question and I might be the wrong person to ask. I think the game does some things to try to circumvent some of the pitfalls but I think the pitfalls remain.

One pitfall I see is having good skill coverage. It seems to me that the advantage of having multiple players is that a group can cover a lot of different skills so that when faced with a specific challenge, chances are one of the characters has a skill that can deal with it. MT gives "advice" to players during character creation to make sure certain skills (they call Aspects) have at least one point allocated to (it's a point buy system). But in actual fact, a player can max out on certain aspects and make them lacking on important, potentially game changing, other aspects. Nothing prevents a player from doing that.

What other kinds of pitfalls have you run into while running solo CoC adventures?
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Re: Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by Dr. Gerard » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:58 pm

EddyPo wrote:That is a really good question and I might be the wrong person to ask. I think the game does some things to try to circumvent some of the pitfalls but I think the pitfalls remain.

One pitfall I see is having good skill coverage. It seems to me that the advantage of having multiple players is that a group can cover a lot of different skills so that when faced with a specific challenge, chances are one of the characters has a skill that can deal with it. MT gives "advice" to players during character creation to make sure certain skills (they call Aspects) have at least one point allocated to (it's a point buy system). But in actual fact, a player can max out on certain aspects and make them lacking on important, potentially game changing, other aspects. Nothing prevents a player from doing that.

What other kinds of pitfalls have you run into while running solo CoC adventures?


Good question. I had a long series of failures with a particular Keeper, and we struggled together to understand how it went wrong. Why was it less fun with only two? What could we do to fix it? For us, it wasn't necessarily the skill profile that got us stuck, it was a bad combo of play styles. As a PC, I tend to play for character and verisimilitude. But my Keeper was good at mood-setting, but also kind of a puzzle master and played the plot poker-faced. If I searched the room but didn't specifically mention which part of the room to search for the clue was, I missed the clue. If I needed to make a Spot Hidden and failed, that was just where the plot lead. Since it was just two of us, all I could do is wander around the world until the Mythos got the better of me. Often, it would take hours for that to happen. Hours of my character just running imaginary errands. It was very frustrating.

Though we haven't managed to play since that era, it seems that this Keeper has since evolved in his keeping strategy, and those sessions have provided good fodder for discussion about game mechanics and running investigation games. Still, I remain deeply skeptical about one-on-one investigative play. I don't believe our problems were unique to our particular synergy.

Honestly, I'm not so much a puzzle-solver. When I'm in a group that enjoys brainstorming the investigation, I have a lot of fun participating in clue trails and sleuthing. The fun of investigation for me is social. But when there's no one to bounce ideas off of...I think it takes a certain Keeper style to make things move along. Jim did a good job in the CoC Skype game he ran with Dan.

It seems like the dominoes mechanic is actually a good way to help things along. Since the player has a certain amount of destiny control, that adds a storytelling element that CoC doesn't have.
Last edited by Dr. Gerard on Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by EddyPo » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:38 pm

Dr. Gerard wrote:But my Keeper was kind of a puzzle master and played it poker-faced. If I searched the room but didn't specifically mention which part of the room to search for the clue was, I missed the clue. And he was likewise slavish about roll results, so if I needed to make a Spot Hidden and failed, the plot came to an abrupt halt. Since it was just two of us, all I could do is wander around the world until the Mythos got the better of me. Often, if would take hours for that to happen. Hours of my character just running imaginary errands. It felt a lot like when you get stuck in a video game that you paid $60 for -- only to find out later that you were supposed to press A-B-Jump to open the secret door, or "use fire on candle" to move to the next level.


I think that same guy ran a D&D adventure I was in over 25 year ago. The whole game stalled out because we couldn't figure out what little thing we needed to do to cross an underground lake. I don't remember the details but just swimming across wasn't an option. We couldn't go any further and he seemed very pleased with himself because we couldn't solve his puzzle. There weren't even any monsters to fight. It was a deeply dissatisfying game for everyone except for him. He went on to become an engineer of some kind if you can imagine. The reason (one of the reasons) Keeper Dan is such a great keeper is because he stays story focused and he knows the story is about the PCs and not how clever he is.

But anyway, back to MT, I agree the domino mechanic a great aspect of the game for the reason you mention. I also really like the three act structure they advocate for scenarios as well as rules for tension scenes. It may be a little railroady but I think its beginner keeper friendly in that way. Even so, there is a lot of room for keeper improv within that structure.

I'll have to record an actual play of MT and post it somewhere. I bet some people would like to hear how a Macabre Tales game unfolds.
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Re: Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by Keeper Jon » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:08 pm

EddyPo wrote:I'll have to record an actual play of MT and post it somewhere. I bet some people would like to hear how a Macabre Tales game unfolds.


Me! I wanna hear an actual play of this game and these mechanics in motion. :mrgreen:

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Re: Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by Dr. Gerard » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:28 pm

EddyPo wrote:I'll have to record an actual play of MT and post it somewhere. I bet some people would like to hear how a Macabre Tales game unfolds.


Yes! I'd love to hear one. As far as I know, none of the usual suspects (SoC, MUP, RPPR, Unspeakable) have posted an actual play of this game yet.
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Re: Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by EddyPo » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:30 pm

EddyPo wrote:The reason (one of the reasons) Keeper Dan is such a great keeper is because he stays story focused and he knows the story is about the PCs and not how clever he is.


Shoot. I re-read this like 10 times looking for mistakes and I still let this one get by. I meant to say Keeper Jon is a great keeper, although I'm sure Keeper Dan is also great.
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Re: Macabre Tales -- The Cursed House

Post by EddyPo » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:37 pm

I'll consider the actual play recording of MT my mid-term project. ;)
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