While I wait for my Kickstarter “Witcher” board-game to arrive and give me some more figures to paint I’ve been distracted by a plan I had for a UK based Call of Cthulhu campaign.
The campaign is meant to be less SAN draining and more exploration and investigation. (Think “The X-Files” and “Warehouse 13” in 1920’s UK.) It’s based in the UK rather than America, because I know a lot more about British history and legends from decades of reading, and I’ve been there; I own physical maps, books, etc. My only time in the USA was 2 hours each in San Francisco and LA airport, changing planes. [If it came down to it, I’ve spend slightly more time in Mexico than I have in the UK, and that could be an interesting CoC setting too.] An Australia 1920’s campaign sounds a bit boring.
In addition to refining my notes on character creation for the campaign (like boosting HP’s for PC’s and defining how I will use sanity and SAN checks, etc) I’ve been researching for the intro adventure for the campaign. One great thing about games set in the real world, especially with the internet, is how easy it is to get hold of history, maps, statistics, and nearly anything else you might want to know to flesh out a your adventure and GM notes.
The introductory adventure begins in “The George”, a hotel in Amesbury, very close to Stonehenge. In addition to pictures of the hotel, I was delighted to find census data for the hotel. I know everyone who worked for the hotel and all the guests who were there on the 2nd April 1911. I’ve had to delete some of the guests (there were 16 “boarders” during the census), and modify two or three to suit NPC’s I need for the adventure. Knowing their ages, occupations and place of birth has inspired me to invent backgrounds suitable to the area and reasons for why they might have been there. This all works into the mystery at the centre of my adventure. (It includes Stonehenge, a murder and a piece of jewellery… no more detail since 3 of my usual players read my blog.) I’ve aged the hotel proprietor, his wife and son by 11 years, to work with my starting time in May 1922.
While making notes on character creation, I realised there’s something I haven’t seen in the UK source-books that I have for Call of Cthulhu. For any game set in 1920’s UK, that is, straight after the Great War, nearly any male PC’s between the ages of say 21 and 45 would have been conscripted and served 2-4 years in the British military. There were exceptions. For example: being Irish, unfit (low CON or SIZE?), clergymen, teachers and certain industrial workers or some conscientious objectors. Admittedly, this could also be a factor to consider in terms of an American campaign, but with their much higher population I think you would have more characters that didn’t see service.
In game terms, most male characters should get a small increase in their rifle skill, but is probably balanced out by the fact that UK citizens were less likely to be skilled with firearms than their American equivalents. For my game I’ve decided that most players will need to decide if they served in the Army or Navy (or Air-force if they put skill points in Pilot) and if they have a high Credit Rating (or Lifestyle from Occupation) may have been an Officer or NCO. It certainly adds to a PC’s background.
Writing an adventure set in the real world? The computer is your friend! (Yes, I’ve also been wanting to run a Paranoia adventure.)