Saturday, 15 March 2014

White Whales (Part Six)

It seems appropriate to end this series with a series of items that are all of leviathan stature.

It is a sad truth of gaming as an adult that you simply don't have the time to invest in the hobby that you may have had as a teenager or a university student. In the halcyon days of yore, it was a delight to spend a summer whiling away the days playing a whole, lengthy campaign from start to finale in a matter of weeks. Nothing gives you the same feeling of dense narrative as a big, meaty adventure campaign like the sort that were common in the days of first edition D&D and which endure, after a fashion, for the Call of Cthulhu RPG.

Playing a campaign game like that has weight, like tackling a big novel. Players that share an experience playing through it often remember it fondly, trading war stories like old soldiers. 

For me, one of my formative experiences as a gamer was the epic D&D campaign which would later be christened QUEEN OF THE SPIDERS. My early D&D group fought through a series of adventures, first the trilogy AGAINST THE GIANTS, then the long pursuit for those pulling the strings of the giant invasion -- culminating in the journey to the VAULT OF THE DROW and the extraplanar finale, QUEEN OF THE DEMONWEB PITS. What can you say about an adventure series that ends with a head-on battle with a demon-goddess? 

It was unforgettable. The sort of thing that sells you on the hobby for life. 

I would later try to resurrect this campaign as part of my long-running FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign in Kingston (you'll have to forgive me the heresy of moving the adventures from good old Greyhawk). As I have lamented elsewhere, the lightning could not be captured twice. Although that game ran long and had many pleasures, the players never fought Giant One. The rumours of the giant invasion and its masters went unexplored, as the players pursued their own interests in the City of Ravens Bluff.

Ah well.

The other purveyor of epic campaigns is Chaosium, whose Call of Cthulhu game remains a tried and true favourite of myself and many others. I've run a shorter CoC game called HORROR'S HEART, set in 1920's Montreal, which was fun but not quite of the same scope as some of the real "doorstops" in the Chaosium catalogue. I played through a campaign of AGAINST THE BROTHERHOOD one summer, providing a lifelong bond between me and the two other players who survived that time-bending epic, but I have never had the opportunity to follow that up by running the pulpy masterpiece MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP. 

Who could resist a romp around the globe punching sinister cultists and visiting exotic ports, culminating in --- well, I wouldn't dream of spoiling it, except to say that it's the sort of thing that makes me smile from ear to ear just thinking about it. 

I actually went so far as to write a trailer for this game last year, but alas, my beloved wife has no truck with the Elder Gods or their nihilistic ilk. It was and will be a non-starter. The cultists will remain unpunched and the murder of Jackson Elias will go unavenged.


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