Forums Archive RPGMP3 Chatter Beyond the Mountains of Madness Beyond the Mountains of Madness Session 14

Viewing 14 posts - 46 through 59 (of 59 total)
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  • #606642
    • Posts : 4
    • Commoner

    Thanks, Whiteblade. I knew did Masks, but I never got to listen to it before they stopped showing the majority of their podcasts. Personally, I’m doing Masks of Nyarlathotep for my gaming group and everybody is in love with the play and the story.

    Still, I will look to purchasing Lovecraftian Tales from the Table asap. I remember listening to Horror on the Orient Express and loved it. ^^

    • Posts : 2127
    • Succubus
    Hal wrote:
    Thank you kindly sir 🙂

    I think you were correct about the final chapters. It may have left a darker overtone to the conclusion but in the end it is better to head out on a high note.

    I think if I run CoC for the Texans again (assuming they are not too sour on it) I might try Masks, Tatters or something from the Unseen Masters book 🙂

    Though I do have Trail of Tsathoggua lying around here somewhere.

    Hal :hal:

    I remember a rather good advenmture from White Dwarf that was short and actualy included Theda Bara and Dashiel Hammet as npc’s.

    • Posts : 136
    • Orc

    I know this is a bit late but I just finished Beyond the Mountains of Madness this morning. I have to say that I really loved the podcast – more for the characters that were generated and their idiosyncrasies (Glen, “Got my whippin’ pistol ready”) than the storyline. I also have to add that my wife absolutely cracked up every time Lyndsae characterized Glen during the last session and was fully behind her every move as Charles D.

    Great podcast guys.

    • Posts : 1113
    • Owlbear

    I have to say I really enjoyed this one too. And in hindsight actually all the more so. Good characters and an enjoyable build up to the otherworldly horrors BtMoM!

    Thanks again all!

    • Posts : 12
    • Commoner

    First of all, thanks for putting these sessions together. I’ve read the scenario but wanted to hear how it could be run before trying it on my group. Not only was this useful but very entertaining to listen to. 🙂

    I must confess to having some sympathy for Bloodguard’s original post although I don’t think any one person is at fault (not that RPG’s are about blame anyway). I really liked the way in which the game was building up in the first 13 sessions. So to then kill the game off abruptly in session 14 was very disappointing from the listener’s perspective.

    I do understand why you did it though if no one was enjoying the game anymore.

    There’s been a lot of talk about the game being linear. I was surprised that it took so long for this to become apparent as a potential issue. To me it’s pretty obvious without even playing the game and so I think that the Keeper who runs this needs to devise strategies to give players options along the way. I was hoping to get some insight into how this might be accomplished as I accept that this isn’t easy in the Antarctic. Perhaps players just need to be given the illusion of freedom.

    I’d be lying if I knew what the answer was – I have some cool ideas but no proven solutions (e.g. there are plenty of NPC’s covered in the scenario that could be used to take players into areas the scenario doesn’t cover explicitly) . However, there are plenty of people out there who swear that BTMOM is the best thing they’ve ever played so what did they do differently?

    Hal, if you had to do it over again (and I know you don’t really want to!) what’s the one thing you would do differently?

    Keen to hear your thoughts. What about others who have played/ run this game?

    • Posts : 7753
    • Treant

    I think if I had to run it again I would try and give the party more of a controlling role in the expedition. A lot of the chaffing the occurred came from the natural resistance by players to do what they are told, especially when they are following characters such as Starkweather.

    I think I would have a little less travel and a little more time on the ice before things get moving and I would certainly reduce the amount of sanity erosion in the initial chapters of the adventure.

    I agree that in hindsight it may have been good to flesh out a few more of the periphery NPCs and perhaps it may help to have less in the expedition in the first place so that they each become important and a little more “present”.

    By the time the party reached the end of this point in the adventure they were so blasted by sanity loss and physical drain and confusion (as players as well as characters) that I think they really didn’t want to do the chase across the ice. They also missed the lead in with the book in the early chapters by not going to stake out Acacia’s manor and chasing the kidnappers. I think this lead to a little bit of a loss of context that perhaps meant that the story had less impact than it should.

    If I had to run it again (and I yet might), I would probably rewrite some, or all of it, to make it a little more dynamic. I think that was the big issue here.

    Hope that helps…

    Hal :hal:

    • Posts : 12
    • Commoner

    Hi Hal,

    Thanks for your comments. I totally agree with all that you’ve said. I thought that the scenario, especially early on, needed a bit more for the characters to do or take the lead on so your comments and the sessions have confirmed my views.

    Before listening I had already slated running the scenario from the rather excellent Secrets of New York while the party were getting ready for the expedition and I might also add in another saboteur for the trip over. I might also drop heavier hints to gently nudge the players to do the bit your party missed out on. I agree that this was a loss to the campaign. The Germans might not be the bad guys but their actions make them appear to be. One of the things I loved about your game was the paranoia that one of the PC’s (Abe was it?) about the Germans.:wink:

    I’ve run Cthulhu a lot before and have some house rules in place that lessen SAN loss and the likelihood of insanity somewhat. This makes it much safer over a long campaign. Some of the SAN losses were inconsistent and I thought you ruled sensibly where the book seemed to give an arbitrary loss.

    Interesting point you make about giving the party more control. I wonder whether assigning them official positions on the expeditions would be a good idea – Head of Security, Lead Photographer, Lead Pilot etc. What do you think?

    By the way, if you’re in Edinburgh and are interested in BTMOM, go and see the Scott/ Shackleton Antarctic exhibition at Holyrood Palace. Very interesting! It runs till April.

    • Posts : 34
    • Flumph

    Have you considered reducing the “inventory” sections of the adventure? It seemed interesting when the PCs were replacing lost/damaged/missing goods (eg. how to find 100 tons of pemmican on short notice in Australia), but everyone seemed to think that actually going over the lists item by item was pretty dull.

    Also, it seemed a bit demeaning to the PCs to have them manually checking over the inventory in the holds. If the PCs are made chief of security, chief of aviation, etc. they would presumably have nothing to do with that kind of grunt work.

    Just a few thoughts.

    • Posts : 161
    • Orc

    I sort of liked the checking off lists, I liked the aspect of:


    Ice melter…


    Where the hell is that pemican?

    Why are these theater lights?’

    But maybe less things moved around and more things just plain ruined, so the players don’t have to go looking for it.

    I’d love a second telling of this, maybe it would work out better.

    I have to admit the part of the story that I had the most fun with is catching the sabotuer, since the players did so well with that. How would you do that though in a second telling? ‘Okay, loading the rice cooker… Do I see someone by the name of… johnny(I forget) walking around here?’

    • Posts : 12
    • Commoner

    Yes, I like the checking off of equipment as well. I think whether you introduce it or not depends in part on the players and their likes and dislikes. I have a player who loves prepping stuff with his character (you should see him select spells for his 3.5 mage). So I’ll probably keep it in.

    Personally, before I run the game I’d read through the scenario and see if I can add in bits here and there. Even getting the PC’s to make rolls to notice or realise stuff (instead of just giving them the info) would get them more involved, break up the descriptions and make the PC’s feel that they’ve achieved something.

    That’s my current thinking anyway.

    • Posts : 7753
    • Treant

    As I understand it the checking of the inventory is something of a classic RPG moment.

    It was interesting and it does kind of drive home the seriousness of having the correct equipment on the ice. But if the party choose to blow it off or have a spate of bad rolls, they may end up on the ice with a load of theatre lights and no batteries for their radios and there is very little guidance in the adventure for what to do if that happens.

    I like the idea of giving the party specific roles to play to give them focus rather than just being employees, but perhaps a better tack would be to have them have a wealthy patron who is paying them to make the expedition and they can take some of the lead, perhaps with the addition of am NPC who is experienced in these kinds of things in case there are questions or confusion.

    The adventure reads well but it needs work with balance and pace. I think front loading it with a few little adventures around New York might be interesting to get the party working together and heading in the same direction.

    Hal :hal:

    • Posts : 5728
    • Mind Flayer
    Hal wrote:
    …might be interesting to get the party … heading in the same direction.

    Hal :hal:

    Always a good idea if you’re about to explore an icy wasteland. 😉

    • Posts : 322
    • Thri-kreen

    Ok I’ve just after finishing this. I have to say I agree with all your and players comments on this. I was particularly impressed with Lindsays comments which were both fair and intelligent.

    I have a feeling that this would be a fantastic adventure to read, but not to play. I’m actually considering buying a PDF of it after listening to this, which is a complement to your play I suppose. 🙂 I figured that this would get good after you had all the traveling and narration out of the way, and once you got to the ice I was rewarded with some really fun play from you guys that had me laughing along with you. I enjoyed that, and thanks to you guys for that.

    Neds reaction to the fate of poor Tracy was classic though,.. 😀

    • Posts : 8
    • Commoner

    I’ve now finished the last episode and after listening to the complaints, I feel that I can’t agree. Linsay seemed to feel to restricted; I can see that this adventure is more restricting than most, but I don’t see this as a failing of the adventure. Role-playing is about playing a character – and any character would be limited in choices much the same way we are (laws, job, friends, money, …), except that since the player know it’s just a character and trusts the DM to let it get enough food not to starve, the character is willing to take risks we normally wouldn’t. The arctic environment is no more than a means to force characters to follow certain guidelines/laws that real humans would follow but characters tend to ignore. The players can still do whatever they want, but there are now more immediate consequences and the Keeper is less likely to let them get away with stupid/insane actions – that I think actually enhances the game. Realism is very useful/fun for most games, but actually needed for CoC.

    The Railroad in the early chapters was a problem, but a lot of it is the players fault. They were hired for the mission months in advance, and they chose to basically do nothing but what they were ordered to do until the captain was killed some five or so months into the game. They could have spend the time getting to know each other and the other expedition members, study all information available on the arctic, learn who else would be on the ice with them, visit northern Canada/Alaska to learn polar survival, and so on. I was also very surprised that not one player had a background of intense interest in exploration and extended knowledge of the last expedition including some meetings with the survivors and at least a partial copy of the (whatever the book about the previous expedition was called in the adventure); the last would obviously be a reward from the DM for coming up with a very fitting background.

    One of the major complaint seemed to be that their employer was around, but that, too, was a players choice. Tracy certainly had enough money to buy into the expedition, even become their chief monetary backer. I honestly expected when they were given the task to check the equipment Tracy would get more involved and get his checkbook out – to buy into the expedition and buy additional supplies; even bring in more people to take care of most of the mundane work for him. And that Jenna didn’t simply hire a private investigator to check her lists and make sure everything was there and in good working order was somewhat of a shock to me.

    In short there was a lot the players could have done early in the adventure that they missed because of their passive going along. If the players don’t invest into their characters and get the characters interested in the main plot, it obviously is going to feel like they are being railroaded. The DM alone can not bring any adventure/world to life alone.

    The ship passage was the real weakness of the adventure. While the sabotage was important to the plot, the climax attack on the ship in New York could have been used to expose the saboteur. They’d only have discovered some of the stuff he did on sea because Starkweather wouldn’t let them stay in harbor until everything was triple checked, but that could be narrated in a few sentences. I’d also cut the scene about catching the engines and simply turn it into a short narrated passage; not sure about the whaler, but I’d probably cut it as well. Basically everything from New York until they reach the ice (except Australia if you want to include more sabotage).

    Once on the ice it was okay. The group seemed to be very bored with examining Lake’s camp, but that was merely a carry over of the very lacking involvement of the characters early on. Excavating the camp was the main reason they came to the ice after all. The players certainly weren’t too eager to explore anything or learn more about anyone around them. It got better once they were beyond the mountains, but the players did never become fully interested in what was going on – where in normal role playing, be it D&D, CoC, or any other system, the players seek out danger and try to explore mysteries, here they seemed to be far too disinclined to take risks and go forth into the unknown. This was IMHO exemplified when Starkweather was abducted – in spite of having known him for nearly a year and having spend months together in close proximity, they were unwilling to go and try to save him immediately. Perhaps a human reaction, but something that would make every story feel forced. It’s not something I blame the players for; it usually takes a few sessions to get into a new character, but in this adventure you have to get into character from the beginning – design the character to fit into the environment of an arctic expedition – or you’ll be lost and out of place the whole time.

    This was also easy to see when the players encountered the alien language… there was no effort to translate anything, to learn more. They never even bothered to have their resident German expert translate the German notes they found about the language. Nor did they read the lost chapters of the book, despite earlier trying to rob Lexington’s house to get it.

    The end of the adventure was very chaotic because of the surprisingly disrupting effects of the insanity ‘getting away from here’. And probably because the players wanted to wrap up after they killed a party member. I was very surprised that they accepted the proposal to keep everything secret without comment – given the complains about railroading I’d have expected them to make at least some effort, but they again passively accepted what the NPC suggested. I’d have thought about revealing everything and getting nations to use ‘into the wall’ as method of choice for the death penalty. And with massive state support it might even be possible to improve on the repairs of the machine that the tiny alien crew could manage.

    My final opinion on the adventure is positive. The ship voyage should be cut a bit (though with enough pre-voyage stuff I’m not sure it would feel remotely as forced as it did for this group) and the DM strongly encouraged to get the players to do stuff right from the beginning (including some tips for character generation). San loss should be reviewed a bit more and more individualized – seeing your first maimed corpse is a lot worse than your one hundred first, for example. And higher starting San wouldn’t have been out of place either; then again that’s a given for long Cthulhu adventures. Beyond that it seems to be a very enjoyable adventure.

    Thanks for the Podcasts!

Viewing 14 posts - 46 through 59 (of 59 total)
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