Dungeon Design: EAT3 Concept

Hi! If you have read my game notes from Flames Engulf you may have realized I’m rotten at designing fights. So to challenge myself I wanted to create a classic dungeon crawl.

Setting and Mechanics

The first thing I did was figure out what setting and system I would use for the game. I typically play in a semi-parody setting called “Epic Adventure Tales.” Inspired by the Dianna Wynne Jones book Dark Lord of Derkholm. 

The idea is a world a lot like ours has found a way to travel between alternate realities. Capitalizing on this technology the world begin turning alternate dimensions into prime tourism spots and so was born Epic Adventure Tours. EAT markets several tours but their “Fantastivia” tours are the most popular and hundreds of tourists per year pay through the nose to go on fake adventures there. Fantastivia, called Earth by the people who live there, is a magic filled world with all the classic fantasy elements.

Since I wanted an adventure game that isn’t too crunchy, would be fun and tactical I picked 13th Age which has been described as D&D but only the fun bits. The classes all have great powers, work well together, and there are some interesting mechanics added onto the normal D&D stuff. The book is a bit confusingly played out in places but otherwise it seems fun.


Next I needed to figure out what my game was going to be about. At the moment I am taking a fairly depressing class on Looting and Destruction in the Middle East. The antiquities trade is fraught with crime and danger, perfect for a fantasy world laced with real world themes. I had already added the following idea to my list of game ideas:

Antiquities Trade

Dungeons are filled with old loot and amazing items. While most players play the adventurers raiding these treasure troves it is the real masterminds who control the vast trade of items across kingdoms from dungeon to collector.

Instead of having the players play looters I decided a dungeon crawl with adventurers finding out about a small villages looting of an old dungeon would fit what I was looking for better. So I wrote the next bit:

A small town on the edge of the fantasy world of EAT has a burgeoning loot trade that exports many of its magical or fantastical items out to the rich world of the Real World.

The dungeon has its own ecosystem and looting the easiest areas has become overused by other adventurers so the party must delve deep to export the treasure and best items from the many endangered creatures of the Below.

What I Want

Next I listed the elements I wanted to include in the dungeon. The first bullet points were the original things I wanted and the inset points are the things I thought of to answer those points.

  • Elements of mystery
    • A “dragon” has been terrorizing the village. Several of the men of the village saw it in the hills and have warned everyone to stay inside if they hear it roaring.
      • It really is a recording played by men in black cars who secretly use the dragons roar to scare off everyone but the villagers in on the looting.
      • Strange people in large magical powered carts are buying magical items being taken from the dungeon.
    • Village people have begun looting the caverns throwing off the ecosystem.
    • Ogres are attacking the livestock of the village.
  • A viable dungeon ecosystem
    • Magic mushrooms <- Goblins <- Ogres
    • Since looters have killed off most of the goblins the ogres have nothing to eat and are driven to attack the towns people instead.
    • The decline in goblin population has also let the magic mushrooms grow rampant. These are highly poisonous and prevent anyone without gas masks from going deeper.
    • The looting allows for interesting mixes of goblin and ogre dens, excavated areas, and old dungeon.
  • Interesting traps
    • The looters likely will have left traps for other looters.
    • Old goblin traps may still exist.
    • The old dungeon would have interesting magical traps that no longer work like they used to.
  • Interesting combats with a variety of enemies

Player’s Goals

  • Hired by the King to go and find out why magical items from the dungeon (a well known ancient site of magic) are being trafficked around the kingdom.
  • A magical sword is shown as evidence of this.

Next time I will describe how I designed the different areas of my dungeon.



Saturday Session Prep: Flames Engulf 5

Saturday Session Prep are notes directly from my game sessions. They are completely unedited, sloppy, and unorganized, enjoy! They include both before and after session notes.


Sam changes the lock on his door having spotted Tony.

Bobby will meet Benoit in the Middleton house to check cameras (one in Leslie’s room (The sensor has been taken apart by Leslie to make a motion sensor) two in basement.


GANGSTER SHOOTOUT: Police doing nothing?

Sebastian Concise

FIRE AT CHURCH: Arson or accident? Panic brewing!

Lulu Gossaph


Michael Good


Things that are going on:

  1. Dr. Morgan is planning an archaeology dig in the basement of the old ACC building.
  2. Quail Zither as Wally Harland is shadowing Malcolm because he knows Sam. (Shadow Source)
  3. Smelly Trevor has been kicked from his latest sleeping place, a train shack. He claims it was two rich looking guys in a van who were carrying a small crate. (Aldrich and Silas)
  4. Channel and Samantha begin tricking Ben into further upsetting Diana. (Isolate Investigator)
  5. Little clay symbols begin appearing around Ben Vogel’s house. Patricia denies she’s making them. Eventually one appears like a moon beast with Ben’s face.
  6. While on the North Side Lincoln and Washington almost kidnapped Bobby Young. But they let him free, remarking “he’s white! Can’t take him!”


What Players are doing that needs attention:

  1. Benoit is learning how to summon Nature Spirits. He needs to locate a specific place to do it, with a “find life” sort of spell.
    1. He will have to go into the forest. There he will need an idol. (if he follows it North he can use the STONE in the Black Ravine) Once he has set up the idol and begins summoning things,
    2. He will be filled with the emotions of all creatures around him. He has to find some emotional “key” to focus his wants. Once he has he has some control over animals and by “squishing the matter all around you” he can manipulate energy to put himself in animal bodies.
    3. Essentially he can feel Shub-Niggurath all around him and he can use his emotions to squeeze it. This could let him do a variety of things, pop himself into other material stuff, summon blobs of Shub-Niggurath, use Shub to squeeze some of Yog-Sothoth into pure power bolts.
    4. When he’s in wherever he wants to do the spell Samantha shows up. She “confides” in him that she doesn’t trust Huey but has been doing her own research on the prophesy. She has found the actual “formulas of Ibon” which she gives Benoit. She also hints that she is in danger and could use “saving.” She is coy but intelligent around Benoit.
      1. She will tell Benoit about the area (if in the Dark Ravine) about how she read there was a witch cult arrested here in the 20s. She knows the place seems to have inordinate power.
      2. She shows Benoit a pendant she has with a small white pebble that she says shows her where power is. She followed it to him.
  2. Ben has learnt how to use certain angular shapes to travel through hyperspace. While there he attracted a pile of blue triangles.
    1. The next time Ben uses the angular shape to manipulate his mind: If he uses a small amount of mp he will slip out of his brain but be unable to move. (He will have to use his will power (aka more mp) to detach himself from his brain. If he does the protection spell he will have a thread back to his body.
    2. He can feel two-three minds around him depending on whether Justine is home then or not. He feels like two of the other minds are “greasy” like his. If he can move around he can slip to either one and he feels like he can manipulate these minds with his hands in a messy way.
    3. If he does start scooping the grease off or something he gets a psychology roll to not damage the consciousness. Otherwise he risks making either Patricia more crazy or turning Haruto into a vegetable.
    4. Is the blue triangles a Hound of Tindalos? Did it follow him home and get in Patricia? Is this what’s causing her to make the ceramic symbols?
  3. A letter arrives from Mrs. Cornstuck to Sam. He sees it delivered by a host of spiders literally carrying it into the box.
  4. Cameras in Leslie’s house capture a couple of images of the ghost. It looks like a man in a tattered sheet. However Bobby seems to be missing. Huey provides a North Side address. He shows up a couple of days later, bruised but apparently let free because he’s white.



  • Start with Malcolm waking up after dreaming about his fight with Donovan. Lead into a scene where he drives Radcliffe to the Bolton Steel Mills (let others play Mallary (AJ), Kyran () and Vernay() (Kyran claims Vernay has refused to pay up on gambling debts, Mallary asks Malcolm what they should do about it.)
  • Afterwards Radcliffe gives a speech about why the BS are called the Bitter Servants, and that its all about protecting those underneath you, that Malcolm’s job is to keep everyone safe including Radcliffe, and he says threateningly, his parents. But Radcliffe tells Malcolm to lay low, since Stanley wont keep quiet for long.


  • Aldrich visits Leslie to offer them a payoff to convince Sam to get off the kidnapping case. Ink is explicit that Aldirch has NO knowledge of magic or anything else.
    • If Leslie agrees (somehow?) Aldrich arranges to meet them at Church St. Park.
    • If not, he gets Quail to target Sam dressed as Wally Harland. He will shoot him and run off. Following up on Wally will lead Sam to the office and that its owned by a shell company, one worked on by Florian Volker before he went away.


The Dig

  • Morgan takes Leslie, Vogel and whoever else is interested to the ACC lot to dig up Viking items.
  • Once the body of Greloo (as shown by runes on the inside of the coffin) her “turban” uncurls and inches away from them. As they leave it drops on (this should actually be Henry if he comes!) Prof. Morgan’s head. If they can chop it off his head he is saved, but infected with the chemicals. If they don’t he runs off.


The Book Singing

  • Benoit has been invited to meet with Channel (Lulu Gossaph) to talk about the singing. She wants to entrap him and make Diana even more suspicious.
  • The singing is actually very successful.
    • Silas appears and congratulates Benoit but asks him about his problems with Diana. He commiserates and hints that he’s found other realms of faith. He suggests Benoit comes to a club meeting soon. “To meet some good people that will understand.”
    • Lulu might make another appearance, it turns out she knows Quail.
    • A contingent from Agatha’s new witch cult in the Lower South Side appears. The “cultists” question Benoit’s beliefs and try to start fights with people around the singing.


The Oak Fire

  • If the players decide to go to the quad as a group it will trigger the fire on Hangman’s Hill. Elizabet and co. are waiting in the quad so that they know the show will be seen.
  • Similarly if they investigate the hill itself.


The Dig

The lot is a large fenced off area with three stories of girders and crumbling concrete walls. An ornate entrance with a broken spinning door leads surreally into a marble foyer of a luxurious office building. The elevators are missing leaving two deadly shafts in the middle of the building. A staircase leads upwards, but an inconspicuous door behind the vanished reception desk leads down into the basement and service tunnels.

Morgan leads the group of students with a hand drawn map.

There are two stories of basement, the first is eerily filled with old meat lockers, meat hooks hanging from the ceiling. One room is startlingly filled with a massive stone altar at odds with the modern electrical hangings around it.

Down another flight of steps is the subbasement, a massive open dirt floored space punctuated by metal pillars. Mr. White, the head of the ACC, had wanted the building to be the tallest in Arkham, even though he picked the lowest point to build. Some workmen Morgan has hired set up powerful electrical lights and Morgan has the students help him set up strings in a grid pattern. Soon he hands out shovels and gives them a brief training on how to excavate the hard dirt.

They spread out to random points and start digging.

Discoveries: Roll 1D4 for each tier. Once three of the five are found move on to the next tier. If the same number is rolled chose one of the other tiers or nothing is discovered

1: 1200s

This layer is under the loose packed modern dirt, filled with trash. Morgan quickly confirms anything found there is from after the 1600s when Arkham was founded. He discounts all of this. The top layer soon reveals a lighter dirt, looser and with less rocks than the last layer.

  • A Viking Whetstone (unusual for being here so late. Morgan expected anything from that period to be lower. Was someone still using it?)
  • Some Misqat items, including arrow heads.
  • Goat bones. (These can be dated.)
  • A remarkably preserved wood box with a male human skull. The skull has been smashed brutally and later carved with runes. (Morgan theorizes that the Indians must have seen examples of the runes  and copied them. No Vikings could still be alive at that time, right?)

2: 1000

A thin layer dirt is packed with ash. Under it is another layer thick with large stones.

  • A stone stele with runes. Translation reads: “May it be known that Lisbet, Greloo, and Asta now rule this village, since they murdered their traitorous husbands. ” A drawing of a large trees intertwined with a stone is underneath.
  • Iron slag. – further excavation leads to finding more iron and a viking tool and a basic house shape with wood remains inside it.
  • Worn rivets – further excavation leads to discovering planks and the prow of a boat.
  • An area of lighter dirt reveals a filled in hole with food trash including nuts, fruit seeds, burnt bones. Analysis of these reveal they are human. They feature marks of boiling and skinning. (These can be dated to the same era as the first layer.)

3: Pre 1000s

The layers with Viking items gives way with a thin almost dust like layer. Noticeably there are large chunks of white stone, identical to the stones holding up French Hill.

  • The remains of a packed road. It seems to lead between French Hill and Hanged Man’s Hill. (This is dug into the 1000 layer. Morgan explains it must have been made later.)
  • A stone laid flat surrounded by thinner stones. Uncovering the whole structure reveals a basic stone grave. – Underneath is the body of a woman buried face down. The clothes are remarkably preserved. A silver moon pendant is found in her clothes. The skull of the woman seems to be covered with a turban like hat. Otherwise the remains seem Viking.



These believers have been convinced that witches are behind all misfortune as a force of “bad luck.” While normal things cause the events contributing to misfortune it is witches that cause them to happen all together.

To escape prosecution the Neo-Witchcult are still basically Christian in nature, or at least claims to. Their Christian practices are all to “prevent” witchcraft from striking them.

They think the prophesy will be upheld by witchcraft causing the unfortunate events that result in Arkham burning. (Of course they are right.)

Their leader is an enigmatic Greek who calls himself Rastapoupolos. He is a fraud, though none of his believer know this. He’s been put in place by the extra dimensional activities of Agatha. He thinks he has created a way to make money out of the worried Lower South Side people, while in reality he is helping Agatha sew even more panic and danger. He smokes familiar cigars with the familiar pharaoh symbol on it. He has another such tattoo on his left arm.

Friday Game Notes 5: Arkham Fire Dept.

Friday Game Notes are a weekly post of the random and essentially unedited setting and character notes I wrote before the game. This was written for my home group and was never meant to be seen online. BE WARNED!

Hundreds of fires happen each year. In Boston 1975  417 fires occurred. In Arkham a smaller town in 1940 around 200 occur every year.

Fire dept. probably formed in late 1800s around when the mills were going up along the river.

1938 some of the wooden stations replaced with modern buildings. Better trucks used.

During the war the crews are mostly manned by volunteering women.

Station 1

Arkham’s main fire station is situated near the Boston-Arkham railway station. Trucks can easily reach the North Side and Downtown areas. The station houses three trucks and a car and twenty volunteer fire fighters.

Station 1 can get trucks to any place in the Downtown area in under five minutes. It can reach the North Side and North East in ten to fifteen minutes.

Chief: Bradwood

Secretary: Hollie Glover

Fire Chief

Dick Braidwood – a lanky and tall man he seems an atypical fire chief to many. But while the Fire Department of Arkham doesn’t have the funding of Arkham PD Braidwood takes his job very seriously and it is a testament to his work that the city has lost only twelve buildings over the last year.

Station 2

Underfunded the Fire Department only has a few stations in the nicer locations of Arkham. One is a small one truck office in the North East corner of town to serve the gaggle of townhouses.

Station 2 can reach the houses on the North East in five minutes, and the docks and down town in ten to fifteen minutes.

Chief: Tyrone Hope

Station 3

Actually the original Fire House in Arkham this two truck station services the University district of Arkham.

Station 3 reaches the middle of the University Hill neighborhood in five minutes including the M.U. and the Hangman’s Hill and French Hills in ten to fifteen minutes.

Chief: Matthew Welch

Station 4

The second station to the south of the Miskatonic river Station 4 services French Hill, an important responsibility. Most of French Hill’s houses are antique wooden edifices.

Trucks can get from Station 4 to anywhere on French Hill in five minutes, the Lower South Side and University Hill area in ten to fifteen minutes.

Chief: Matthew Welch (Same as above. Strange coincidence? Or clone?)

Water Supply

Arkham’s water supply is fed by the large Heath Reservoir to the South East of town. The reservoir was built in the late 1800s and doesn’t have the larger treatment plants of more modern water supplies. However a small plant uses chlorine to treat the water before pipes enter the ground on their way to Arkham. Arkham is an old town and the combination of sewers, cellars, and constantly moving foundations have created a network of tunnels under the city. Water pipes have been laid throughout these tunnels and reach the surface under houses and into a fire hydrant on each block.

It’s possible to cut off the city water, either by rupturing the pipes at the treatment plant or in four locations around the city. Each of these locations can be accessed from street level through locked doors.

North Side Pump

The upper most access point appears to be a small one room brick building in between two brownstone tenement buildings. Above the padlocked steel door is the date it was installed (1889) and a small lamp. Back when it was installed the lamp would be kept lit by workers who checked water pressure each week. Now the lamp is ignored. The small room has a steel table covered in cobwebbed clogged coke bottles in crates, an array of pressure gauges and a large steel hatch in the center of the floor. A nest of rats lives in the back corner and they have gnawed a hole in the back wall.

Below the hatch is a larger underground room with machinery that pumps water into the North Side. The sound of engines and rushing water blocks out all other sound. The Bitter Servants own the Tenement house on the right side of the pump since the engine sound hides any sounds from their basement. The Danger Dogs have also been looking for the cellar since it would make a good underground point to enter Bitter Servant territory. Their exploratory tunnel reaches Dr. d’Poe’s office nearby.

Hangman’s Hill Pump

Most of the University district is on flat ground in between the two hills. The pump here, the biggest of the four takes water directly from the Heath Reservoir and pumps it into the city mainlines. The pump itself takes up the above ground and underground rooms of the building, a wooden shed built in the early 1900s. This massive wooden warehouse has a large sliding door kept padlocked and long jammed with rust, and a smaller side door. High windows lets hundreds of the city’s pigeons nest in the rafters of the building. Someone could slip through the window if they had a ladder to climb up.

Inside the building are two large antique pumps that make a constant vibration running through the street outside. The tops of the pumps stick out of the floor and display a tentacle like web of gauges and pipes and wheels. A rickety wooden staircase takes workmen down to the main pump room if greater maintenance is required. Someone could turn the pumps off from the upper room, but the water system around Arkham would still run passively. They would also be quickly restored to work. They could be blown up with explosives from the lower room.

French Hill Pump

While there is no room at the top of French Hill a small electric pump midway up has been found sufficient to provide the large antique manor houses with water. The more modern pump is built above ground  and all the pipes up to the top of the hill run up to the surface and back into the hill. The building itself is set partly into the hill, one full wall facing down into the South Side and the top covered with dirt and grown over with a small garden. A bus stop has been propped above the pump room on the Northerly street.

The interior of the pump room are modernly metal furnished and have a large control panel beside the stacked pipes. The steel door is kept locked with a complex door lock.

Downtown Pump

Built amongst the now highest buildings of the Arkham downtown the  pump house has been integrated into the base of a large office building The Anzac. The Anzac, a masterpiece in Art Deco in white stone towers in between two shorter edifices. The pump can be accessed from the street or the building. A steel gate and a steel door block entrance from the street. Both have well rusted padlocks as if no one has entered the pump room from this way in a long time. Back corridors lead in a labyrinth from behind the store rooms of the building to a wooden door with a bolt locked from the outside, as if something will try to escape from the pump room.

Inside is a musty little room, damp from the water running through the pipes underneath. The pump itself is well buried but pipes have been drawn out of the ground with pressure gauges and lock wheels.

A lot of the Downtown buildings have their own cisterns at the top of their towers to provide pressurized water to the top floors, so turning off the downtown pump will slow water flow but not cut it off unless all four pumps have been disabled.

Downtown Water Office

A small office in the Oklahoma Building houses the small maintenance and repair office of the Arkham Water Bureau. There two gentlemen, Roger and Harry Towers sit listening to the radio and tinkering with their truck. Every Tuesday they set out and check all of the pumps. Any repairs on pipes around the city go through this office, though the greater city workers crew will be assembled to complete these. They hold the keys to all of these pumps.

Arkham, built around the Miskatonic River has plenty of ground water to draw on if the reservoir were cut off from the town. This would provide enough for drinking water but not for effective fire fighting or last more than a month or two.

The Reservoir

The Arkham reservoir built in the early 1900s serves the whole city and oddly is the home to colours out of space spawning and feeding quite happily. The colours feeding on the flora and fauna around the reservoir grow big enough and then swim through the pumps into town to grow bigger on the population.

There is a small dam built on the small stream that once flowed through this area. On it is a large pump house and the large pipes that take water to town. Arkham has been wet and the reservoir is well filled during most of the year.

Five men work at the dam keeping running. They are fed off by the colours like all the other life around. They sit lethargic in their offices hardly working, skin discolored. The decrepitude has crept to the dam itself and everything is rusted and flaking. Dust is in any of the buildings.

Aldrich’s Plan

Aldrich plans on blowing the whole dam letting the water out of the reservoir and cutting off any chance to put out the fires in Arkham. By using the papers at the Water Office he’s figured out good places to do it and he has the explosives ready. When he has turned all of the city pumps off he will set the bombs himself with Washington and Lincoln.

Of course the colours don’t want any of that. Once they feel humans nearby acting oddly they’ll appear to watch. If they feel threatened they’ll consider absorbing the trespassers acting like a magical attack absorbing 10 Pow each attack.

The seven colours start with 90 Pow each.

They may be destroyed if their powers are taken down to 0.

Saturday Session Prep: Flames Engulf 4

Saturday Session Prep are notes directly from my game sessions. They are completely unedited, sloppy, and unorganized, enjoy! They include both before and after session notes.


Thing to remember:

players can call scenes with any (and multiple NPCs) and it can be a coincidence or otherwise meeting. The PC doesn’t have to be meaning to meet this person.

Things that are going on:

  1. Haruto tries one of the spells. A spell that causes a small fire in his room. He quickly tosses the tome out of the window before calling for help. He claims to have tried smoking, didn’t like it and accidentally flicked some of the ash into some papers when he was coughing. He figures he’ll get off with a telling off. He collects the book later.
  2. Samantha decides to frame Benoit. She appears to Diana (in disguise) and tells her that she should divorce Ben in a quite crude manner. (Dumps a cup of blood on her, yells that she doesn’t deserve “his power as a high priest of the horned one”) She then plants an item of female underwear that definitely isn’t hers. (Frame Inv.)
  3. Philo and Tony get some of their goons to be the repair men fixing Sam’s door. They make sure they have a second key. (Sam should recognize Tony overseeing them)
  4. Leslie is teaching herself Elder Futhark (Runic)
  5. Ben has hired Bobby Young to help him catch Dr. Middleton’s ghost. (Bobby quizzes Benoit about his belief in ghosts)
  6. The Steward of the Oak knocks on the wall inside Leslie’s room to show them a peeling bit of wallpaper featuring the heights of four children of the original owner in the 1840s. (1843 onwards. One child doesn’t have an entry for 1946 but the others do. No more marks are visible.) There were only three children mentioned in the articles Leslie saw)
  7. Liam returns but has a massive black eye he wont talk about.
  8. Dr. Morgan calls for a dinner party with the Wilsons Dr. d’Poe, Com. Stanley, Dr. Mason and Dr. Vogel (He wants to discuss the archaeology project with Mr. Wilson.
  • Let everyone get one scene.
    • Give Malcolm some more healing before the attack.
    • Vogel has been invited to a dinner party.
    • If Vogel calls a scene at home we have the Haruto scene as a Bang.
  • Scene with Malcolm at the Pier. The attack begins:
    • Before hand one of the thugs mentions to Malcolm that a couple of cops (Drake and Emmerson) came by and asked about the pier. The thug gave them the normal story and made sure they didn’t see too many other thugs. He thinks they bought it but were still suspicious.
    • One of the cafes calls in to report that a large group of guys in big coats are heading towards the pier. He only says there are a lot of them. The guy reporting this (who’s already hung up) asks if he should call in the guys waiting at the Warrell House.
    • Another café calls in to report that they’re being shot at. It ends quickly with a gurgling scream and a barking sound.
    • By now Malcolm should want all the help he can get and will call in as many men as possible. (Leaving the Warrell house nice and vulnerable. )
    • The ghouls attack the surrounding warehouses one by one. They leave the ones in Silas’ warehouse alone, but they run out of bullets and quickly call in to say they can hear the sniffing outside.
    • A token group of ghouls begins charging the pier across the street. It should be a bloodbath.
    • Another ghoul leaps from the sewer on the guy down there. He screams letting Malcolm know someone’s down there. The ghoul down there is big and bad. Have a dramatic fight happen between Malcolm and this ghoul.
      • “You jump off the ladder onto the floating raft. It’s been cut free from the sewage outlet and seems to be floating amongst the tall poles of the pier. Light from across the river illuminates the scene in broad stripes. You can see a hulking, bristle haired creature bowed into the oversized pipe of the sewer one clawed hand disappearing under the uplifted body of the goon. His coat has tented upwards as if five large claws have completely pierced his body. The ghouls grows in a low constant sound and lets the poor dead goon drop into the water. It leaps across the water to the raft in one smooth moment balancing as the raft tips rhythmically. He cracks his knuckles and growls lowly “You’re next.”
      • After taking a punch or two (or if tipped into the water) the ghoul leaps to the supports and jumps between them before jumping back at Malcolm.
    • Upstairs the ghouls soon seem to be losing quite badly. Just as the police arrive and gun the rest down. Officers open fire on the pier. The dying words of the ghoul in the water should make Malcolm realize that the Pier wasn’t the DD’s target at all. He must decide to fight off the cops and help remove the goods before it’s lost and the BS’s business is ruined or save his parents.
      • If he decides to stay and defend the stash Mama and Papa dies and Radcliffe manages to escape and meets up with them. He promotes Malcolm to their position.
    • Malcolm should quickly decide to get to the Warrell house. The place is ablaze. He can see Radcliffe on the roof. He yells down to Malcolm to get up there since he’s been trapped by some ghouls who he’s holding off. A goon in the entrance stumbles out and tells him Mama and Papa are trapped in a back room at the back. There isn’t enough time to get to both.
      • If he choses to save Radcliffe Papa and Mama die. Radcliffe promotes Malcolm to their place.

“A large ghoul ahead of you breaks through the rooftop door just as you get to the bottom of the stairs. The door explodes with a splintering crash and three gun shots follow as the creature leaps onto the roof with a barking yell. You run out on the roof. The night air is cold against your skin, the burning buildings gives the night a rosy glow as the scene unfolds in front of you. Radcliffe stands against the far edge of the roof pulling the trigger of his long empty gun. The beast is halfway between the doorway and Radcliffe when it senses your arrival. It turns in surprise, snarls and takes off perpendicularly heading for the edge. It leaps 20 feet to the next roof top and vanishes into the night.”

  • If he choses his parents Radcliffe manages to survive anyway but Mama has been stabbed fatally and dies in Malcom’s arms. Radcliffe promotes him to her place as punishment.

“You run through the burning building. The last loyal guards lie mixed with dead ghouls all bleeding and crushed by burning beams fallen from the upper floors. Flames crackle all around you but you are oblivious to it all. You barely stop to smash through a scorched door to Mama’s office. On the green leather desk lies Papa, three rugged wounds cross his chest in crimson. He coughs up blood as you approach and he flings a hand out towards the back door and splutters: (Said by Colin) “She took her.” You kick down the door and see a large female creature holding Mama by the neck. It turns towards you. Mama sees you and tears make lines in her ash streaked face. One arm hangs completely limply holding a spent gun, the other is putting up a token effort against the clawed hand that is wrapped completely around her neck.”

Let this play out, Mama can call out and Malcolm can try to reason with Delphi. If he tries to get closer the ghoul stabs Mama and flees. If he tries to plead for her life Delphi laughs. “I smeel the blood of my brother on your hands. An eye for an eye.” She stabs Mama and flees. She immediately leaps to the roof of the neighboring building and vanishes.

  • Mama and Papa are both very injured. While Papa begins recovering Mama descends into a coma.  This way we’re not fridging Mama, but still taking her out of power letting Malcolm take the reigns. When she finally wakes up she’ll have the agency to take back over if she wishes. This also leaves a fragile person for Malcolm to worry about.



Brains: 65 Brawn: 50 Power: 50
San: 0 HP: 17 Db: 1D4


Brains: 65 Brawn: 80 Power: 65
San: 0 HP: 21-8=13-1=  12-5=7-4= 3

21-7=14  14-1=13 13-2=11  11-7=4  4-


Db: 1D4

Friday Game Notes 4: GPS

Friday Game Notes are a weekly post of the random and essentially unedited setting and character notes I wrote before the game. This was written for my home group and was never meant to be seen online. BE WARNED!

Fiona Salesman

Fiona is glad to be on safe ground, even with the fiery prophesy over their heads. When Huey explains the blood ritual needed to stop the prophesy, the “sisters blood touching Earth” mentioned in the poem, she refuses angrily. She points out what a similar ceremony did to her, aging her 40 years beyond her age. She remind Huey that she is nearly the same age as he is, but she is wrinkled and needs a cane. Huey will push the issue and Fiona will eventually refuse to live above The Grotto. She moves to Kelly and Father Daville’s house on French Hill.

Fiona will insist that investigators find a solution to the prophesy without a blood ceremony. She refuses absolutely to involve her daughters in any magic.

Allies & Enemies:

Huey McCabe – ally, Father Djoric Daville – ally, Lucy & Evana Salesman – Children

Brains: 80 Brawn: 45 Power: 55
San: 35 HP: 15 Db: 0


  • Brings up how blood magic aged her
  • Shouting match with Huey
  • Insists they stop the fire

Lucy & Evana Salesman

Lucy and Evana take well to life in America, enjoying the clothes and the trends, despite the war time troubles. Huey has already found a suitable high school that they are meant to go to, but both girls resist fiercely and Fiona decides not to force them, preferring they receive home school. Any other teenagers will be immediate cause for comment by the girls. They will torment them by speaking in their private language and giggling to each other.

If anyone asks the sisters if they will lend their blood to a ceremony they will refuse, and they will fight savagely against anyone trying to force them.

Lucy and Evana are enrolled at Summarus HS as Freshman. They don’t enjoy the school and are bullied by the school tyrant Bridget O’Hare and her friend Angelica. Lucy is also often scolded by teachers, partly because she looks Chinese, and also because she is left handed.

Allies & Enemies:

Fiona Salesman – adopted mother, Haruto Vogel – friends

Brains: 90 Brawn: 25 Power: 80
San: 65 HP: 12 Db: -1D4


  • One girl crying, other comforting
  • Getting attacked by Bridget and Angelica


Arkham GPS

GPS in Arkham was helmed by Father Djoric Daville based on his experiences with SOPI in 1928. Arkham GPS has been at the head of most American explorations of the occult and weird.

Dockside Dive

When GPS members want food or drink they head to the Dockside Dive, so named for being between the old Boston-Arkham Railroad station and the river bank road. It is a tiny one story building, partially leaning drunkenly. It’s matron Helga runs a tight ship though and throws out most of the drunks, though customers have grown sparse with the war.

Every night at least three GPS members make a pilgrimage by foot here for drinks. They huddle in a corner while Helga brings them a constant stream of alcohol. The only other customers are lonely rail workers.

Archive of Misery

Kelly and Father Daville live in this old French Hill mansion. And here Kelly maintains the Archive of Misery, a collection of papers from the many dead or insane GPS members. It has many journals, letters, and certificates of the many dead. GPS has lost many people over its decade of existence and even more comes from the Arkham investigators prior to 1929 and those who went with Fiona in 1925. Investigators will probably be surprised to find documents here to be useful in uncovering some of the secrets in Arkham, many enemies they now face have bumped into GPS or its predecessors before.

The house itself is old and decrepit, neither Father Daville or Kelly are able enough to restore it. The carved name of Carter is on the lintel. The white shakes of the house have been stripped of most of their paint, and the Victorian like decoration is mostly rotted through.

Photo of Oliver Stanley – 1921

The photo shows a very young Oliver Stanley in his first police uniform on the steps of the old station. The photo paper seems to have a strange unusual sheen and if tested is faintly radioactive. Officer Stanley then helped SOPI (the precursors to GPS) in the investigation of a color out of space.

Arkham Advertiser October 1929

This newspaper details Volker’s attack on Mr. Radcliffe in 1929. It mentions that Volker believed Mr. Radcliffe had been running the company unfairly.

Journal of Nathaniel Waite, Dr.

From A. Knight’s notes F. Knight and I went to the offices of the Arkham Cattle Company. A. had been monitoring the company before and the mycologist was being paid by them.

Outside were several vans doing deliveries and in one was a list of recipients which I’ve included opposite.

Sent between several offices until given a papyrus like form to give to the receptionist. On it was the following:

“And at last from inner Egypt came

The strange dark one to whom the fellahs bowed.

That wild beasts followed him and licked his hands.

Soon from the sea a noxious birth began:

Forgotten lands with weedy spires of gold.

The ground was cleft and mad auroras rolled

Down on the quaking cities of man.

Then crushing what he chanced to mould in play

The idiot Chaos blew Earth’s dust away.”

Mr. Radcliffe is a ratty criminal type and our suspicions about Mr. White’s mysterious identity are almost certainly correct. He has a large number of accountants and bankers, F. and I not sure why. Mr. White explained the situation and what Evzen and Peters had done and sent us to his “brother” in another ACC, the Arkham Conservation Cooperative.

[Attached list of names]

Jorn Abbry- 12lbs/month

Timmothy Burke- 90lbs/week

Susane Clipper – 1lbs/month

Robert Cohen – 90lbs/week

John Coil – 51 lbs/week

Mary Cole – 10lbs/month

Alfred Commerce – 3lbs/week

Aldrich Cornstuck – 30lbs/week

Daniela Eagel- 2lbs/year

Mr. Noire runs the smaller ACC. The Co-op is run from a brick shop. The name makes me think He is taunting us. A. Knight’s records mentions Him in 1920 as well as spin off cults later. He described how he had advised Peters to go to Robert Cohen for help with the Coming of the Gate. Mr. Cohen apparently is a magician and he tricked Evzen and Peters into their fate. We must be wary when we pay him a visit.

Secret: Dr. Waite’s Fate

No written records exist to describe where Dr. Waite went after his adventures in 1928.


The Grotto

The Grotto is the nickname for GPS’s office in Arkham, earned appropriately for its dark rooms below a large office building in Downtown. Huey rents the entire basement out for GPS’s use, though it is already well filled. It has a large and comfortable, if slightly gloomy, lounge where many GPS members meet and chat about their current investigations or more pleasant things. Off the main lounge are a couple private meeting rooms, Huey’s office, and a small library. Huey’s office is large but well filled. One wall is covered by shelves with English literary classics in leather bound volumes. One book doesn’t fit, Horrors and Other Things by Daniel Timely. Two leather armchairs face his desk, which is coated in well ordered stacks of letters and writing materials. Huey, like Fiona, writes countless letters to other GPS branches around the US.

The library, while small, contains the tomes collected by GPS members. Most of the books are damaged beyond usefulness and no spell can be learnt from them, however they serve as a good way to discover the identity of various creatures or other entities.

Several GPS members can almost always be found here to aid the investigators:

Dr. Middleton – a teaching doctor at St. Mary’s Dr. Middleton serves as GPS’s medic. However due to his position he is only at the Grotto in the evenings.

Prof. Rice – while not strictly a GPS member, Prof. Rice does enjoy visiting this little society of misfits. He believes strongly in the groups work and doesn’t understand the trouble they’re in.

Bobby Young – a 18 year old enthusiast of cameras and ghosts alike. He always carries a camera on a strap around his neck and is ready to record adventures in haunted houses or abandoned graveyards.

Huey lives above the Grotto in a small apartment. The place has four tiny rooms. When Fiona arrives he rents out the rooms next to his for her and Lucy and Evana.

State of the World

GPS has very nearly been wiped from the face of the Earth. The branches around the world, so eagerly formed in 1929 have all been hit hard in their investigations. Fiona’s map in her office should be a first hint to investigators that something is wrong. Furthermore the number of letters Fiona and Huey write get less and less by the day. The sense of depression and sorrow from Fiona and Huey should hint at the darker things going on, but try not to let on too obviously at first.

This degradation of their society is why Huey McCabe has lost hope, and it has driven him to try to find a new solution.

Keepers may wish to let investigators see a letter from India mentioning that only one person survived a recent attack by cultists. Or perhaps the players will find themselves in the bodies of GPS members in other locations, just as some investigation is concluding, and the monsters are closing in. This would be good to throw some quick action and horror into the game.

Fiona vs. Huey

Huey will suggest the Sisters Blood ceremony to Fiona privately. Fiona will refuse and insist loudly that neither will she allow anyone in her family to be hurt she thinks a blood ceremony of any kind is too dangerous, pointing out her own appearance as proof of the many dangers. She remind Huey that she was one of a ten who were part of the ceremony. Investigators should overhear this exchange. Afterwards Huey will bring the investigators in and explain the Sisters Blood Ceremony and that Fiona has refused. Fiona is getting angrier and angrier and as Huey tries to get the investigators to try to convince her she declares she will not stay in the Grotto. She walks out and collects her bags and Lucy and Evana with her. If investigators are sympathetic to her they will find her just outside, crying softly. She will wipe her face and then ask if they can take her to Father Daville’s house. Otherwise investigators will have to find her later.


Important Members


Kelly Odell

Nicknamed the “odd kid” by the rest of the GPS members this young Irish boy is GPS’s archiver and Father Daville’s adopted son. He runs the Archive of Misery. Kelly was saved by Father Daville from a corrupt orphanage outside of Arkham. However Kelly has had a less than normal life, his sister is obsessed with monster hunting and has currently disappeared in South America, and he has known about the mythos for most of his life. Accordingly he has become a recluse and mad archiver of everything related to GPS, storing the papers, journals, and odds and ends GPS collects and produces. Kelly can be very useful should investigators wish to look up other GPS investigations or records.

He and Father Daville live in an old mansion on French Hill which they bought from a friend. Kelly is in the middle of building library shelves and a secret room in the mansion so the huge quantities of papers are strewn haphazardly around the house in mad stacks. Kelly awkwardly climbs over these stacks, often dropping his spectacles. His long limbs give him a more than normal resemblance to a spider.

Allies & Enemies:

Huey McCabe – ally, Father Djoric Daville – adopted father

Brains: 70 Brawn: 50 Power: 50
San: 30 HP: 15 Db: 0


  • Trapped under a slip of his books.
  • Needs help with his construction.



Father Djoric Daville

Why do they go and talk to the Father? What information can they gain from him about their current problems?

  • LPC connection

This ancient priest cofounded GPS with Fiona in 1929 after he and others prevented the coming of Yog-Sothoth. He is kindly and has had his mind opened to the mysteries of the universe. He has retired his position as head of the GPS branch in Arkham but remains the man to ask for aid with weird-work matters.

Father Daville realized early he must retire if he was to live much longer. Always a priest of the Catholic faith he now enjoys waling from his French Hill home to a small Catholic sanctuary beside the Miskatonic River. There he tends the flowers and candles of the small chapel. Father Daville has also long been obsessed with water quality and constantly carries a set of beakers. Often on his walks he bends over puddles or rain drums to scoop up some water. Occasionally he can be seen creakily descending down the steep stone staircases to the Miskatonic River itself for a sample. He is convinced something alien has infected the Miskatonic water supply. Of course he is right, somewhere under the Arkham Reservoir is a seed of the colour out of space.

In 1928 Father Daville first met the mythos in the form of Robert Cohen. Together he and his friends, most of whom died a few years later, killed Cohen in a desperate battle. Cohen has never forgotten this fact and plans on murdering the old priest. His years of experience have made Father Daville the man to ask about any magical matters, and can be a useful place to learn spells, or some counter measure against the mythos. He is friendly with everyone and Fiona will come to him once she falls out with Huey.

Father Daville once met Robert Cohen and killed him. In doing so he has unwittingly gained the wrath of an undead Cohen who seeks to murder him for good. Daville lives with his adopted son Kelly O’dell in a large mansion on French Hill. Every day the Father heads out and walks North to the river. Along the way he takes samples of puddles and whatever water he can, he often can be spotted climbing a dangerous stair case down to the river itself to fill a beaker. He then proceeds to the Catholic Church to the East. Cohen watches this walk often and one day will follow him into the church to kill him.

Allies & Enemies:

Huey McCabe – ally, Fiona Salesman – ally, Dr. Henry Armitage – ally, Robert Cohen – enemy, Kelly Odell – adopted son

Brains: 90 Brawn: 50 Power: 60
San: 60 HP: 16 Db: +1D4


Huey McCabe

He starts with a small cut on his cheek, he becomes more bruised and battered as the days go on.

Extremely sharply arched eyebrows over somewhat narrow eyes which make look like he’s always squinting. Very smooth cheeks slightly flushed all the time. Thin lips under his short dark beard. He fondles a golden pocket watch and often drops his pince-nez while trying to read. He is slightly fat and wears a vest over a dark shirt and tie. He has the beginning of smile lines coming off his eyes. His nose looks rather sturdy.

Huey is the current head of the GPS in Arkham and helms the American branches. He is a professor of English and has done very little wet-work. Instead he is an expert in paper-work and a knack for solving complex problems. Sadly Huey has lost hope in the face of the mythos. He thinks GPS’s work is pointless.

The Prophesy

Given the sealed scrolls from Kingsport Huey was struck by a fit of inspiration, or madness. Huey has come up with a plan to inspire GPS, employing a poet friend who he knew from his time at Brown University, he commissioned a prophesy to predict a great fire in Arkham. He claims he has translated both of the remaining scrolls. In reality he has been unable to open either. The first contains the prophesy:

“At the time of the greatest war,

Flames red as roses would lick old Arkham,

Burning it all down to the ground.

In the center dancing the red tongue slobbers;

From the ashes only the rotting stand.

Called from the Earth the Idiot Chaos rises,

Stopped only once sisters blood touches Earth.”

The second, he claims, contains the ceremony to stop the great fire, referenced by “sisters blood touches Earth” in the last line. He has created a ceremony where the blood of Lucy and Evana is used to “dispel” the threat. However both the prophesy and ceremony are false.

Sister’s Blood

“Two sisters were born at a time of calamity when worlds combined. May the blessed names of His Enemies, the Black Goat and the Old Man, be uttered in the silence of the darkest moon. May their names ring out to the ends of the Earth and beyond so that the many spiders may hear it. May those names draw power and eyes that burn in each star and the places between stars. May the names call the two daughters to the right time and the right place. The daughters will be bold, sisters out of blood, one light, one dark. The sisters sleep at North and South heads to the East and West. May the unspeakable one allow us to speak the name of the one we seek to banish. May the power of the South wind fill us. May the things on the Plateau of Leng look away from the monastery and the yellow shrouded priest within. Align the equations of the great sorcerer Ibon. If you do not know the equations consult the Black Book or call upon the Grace of Fat and Sloth and Wings. When the night is dark speak the Aklo for the Sabaoth. Never look at the things of the air that congregate above the wind. Never glimpse the dryads that sneak from the trees and never even blink at the naiads that damply splash from the river ocean. May those enemies call out silently issuing from your lips. Finally take a drop of each sister and let Sister’s Blood touch Earth. The one we shall not mention will leave the place alone.”

Once he has been rebuffed by Fiona and realizes he can’t enact the prophesy Huey becomes panicked and decides he must prove the threat himself. He rushes to an abandoned church and sets it alight. Realizing the farce he has constructed for himself he hires the Madhouse Players (below) to become false cultists carrying out the will of Nyarlathotep.

The Prophesy’s Spread

Huey planned for his false prophesy to stay within GPS. However when he described the prophesy to the society while the investigators were in Scotland Samantha Phillips, realized the bomb shell she could release on Arkham. She began finding occultists, gullible, homeless, and the unscrupulous and spread the word that Arkham would soon burn to the ground. She spoke to Smelly Trevor, as well as several members of the Bitter Servants and the Danger Dogs. Channel Delapore spread the word amongst the Long Pork Club. The city thoroughly believes the prophesy and panic has erupted in several places. It has also attracted more mythos minded people and creatures to the city. Keepers may wish to add encounters with strange people or beings trying to scoop some of the rising power of the city, or seeking to prevent the fire. Perhaps looters begin trying to save important items of the occult before the fires begin.

Allies & Enemies:

Fiona Salesman – Ally, Professor Rice – Ally, The Madhouse Players – secret allies

Brains: 80 Brawn: 60 Power: 30
San: 30 HP: 15 Db: 0

Other Members


Bobby Young

A 18 year old enthusiast of cameras and ghosts alike. He always carries a camera on a strap around his neck and is ready to record adventures in haunted houses or abandoned graveyards.

A new member as of 1940.


Brains: 75

Brawn: 30

Power: 45

San: 45

HP: 10

Db: 0

Dr. Douglas Middleton

-Father and a medical doctor

-sympathetic to Leslie’s condition

-always a tad unnerved and distracted by Leslie’s condition

Leslie’s father Douglas is a sedate man, taking life a pipe and whisky at a time. He works at the St. Mary’s Teaching Hospital across the street from the University and coaches medical students while treating ailing patients. He only works as a doctor part time, but is happy to lend aid to any acquaintance when the need arises.

He has been very worried about Leslie’s mental problems and frequently consults Dr. Vogel on the matter. He hopes letting Leslie do what she/he wants will help Leslie adapt to life better. He understands that most other people are less accepting and that if the child’s behavior gets out of hand he may have to fight to keep Leslie at home and out of the asylum.

Nathaniel Waite (Missing)

Like Father Daville Dr. Nathaniel Waite was a precursor to GPS and was present when Father Daville killed Cohen. But unlike the Father Dr. Waite has not been blessed with a long life. In 1928 he and a friend contacted Yog-Sothoth. Mind thoroughly blasted he began seeking new ways to contact his new master. Eventually he found a yellow crystal which with the use of a potent drug would allow him to see Yog-Sothoth again. The drug is only found in a remote temple garden in China, and investigators seeking out this drug should expect a long trip. Once powdered the flower is extremely potent and staring at the yellow crystal will allow them to enter the Gate. Dr. Waite tried this in the belfry of Eilean Donan while visiting Fiona and vanished.

Prior to meeting Cohen Nathan also visited the Arkham Cattle Corporation and the Arkham Conservation Cooperative. His notes on the matter as well as a list of Long Pork Club deliveries will be useful to investigators.

Professor Rice


Part of GPS

Dr. Armitage is an old man, and even he had to retire eventually. After a long career maintaining a death grip on the Orne Library’s collection of occult and dangerous books Dr. Armitage has passed the position on to Prof. Rice in what only nominally amounted to a vote. The Professor is slightly more open minded than Dr. Armitage and has opened his doors to well vetted seekers of wisdom, and has found an ally in Huey McCabe. This opens the Miskatonic University’s Orne Library up to investigators. Anyone with Latin can read the Necronomicon or other tomes.

Professor Rice will also aid curious investigators who don’t wish to read the books themselves or don’t have the required languages. He starts the campaign mostly sane, his only personal brush with the mythos occurring in 1928 during the Dunwich Horror. However if investigators let on to less scrupulous people what books are contained in the library Professor Rice might be targeted by dark forces.

Professor Rice also tutored Samantha Phillips, now a member of the witch-cult. Professor Rice found a kindred soul in Samantha and realized her potential, he recommended her to Huey McCabe as an excellent member of GPS. Samantha hasn’t forgotten this kindness.

“Dear Father Daville,

We have had trouble between our organizations for awhile now. I know Dr. Armitage has apologized, but I feel I must as well. Furthermore I must solicit to you for a friend of mine. I write on her behalf she is one of the most gifted students I have ever seen. She is very strong willed and will go far and has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the occult. This sweet and well educated young woman, Samantha Phillips whom I’m tutoring, I highly recommend to your Society. I don’t know how new members apply to you, and if you write me I will happily pass on your letters to Samantha.

Dr. Armitage is about to retire as well and I am to takeover the Restricted Stacks in consequence. As such I think I can allow GPS members to see the stacks on a case by case basis.

Respectfully yours,

Prof. Rice”

Allies & Enemies:

Dr. Henry Armitage – ally, Huey McCabe – ally, Samantha Phillip – ally

Brains: 80 Brawn: 50 Power: 60
San: 50 HP: 12 Db: 0


Other Character

Daniel Timely – Wilma Chrone

Daniel Timely is an old friend of Huey McCabe from his Brown University days. In 1933 when Wilma moved to Arkham and asked Huey, who was also living there, to help her publish a book of poetry entitled Horrors and other Things, Huey has a copy on his bookcases. Wilma also wrote Huey’s prophesy as well, though she doesn’t think it came out very well.

Daniel lives in a garret room downtown with Officer Drake her lover. She will talk to anyone asking about her poetry, but doesn’t know anything about why her name was recorded at the Orne Library

Allies & Enemies:

Officer Marilyn Drake – Lover, Huey McCabe – old friend

Brains: 45

Brawn: 45

Power: 45

San: 35

HP: 10

Db: 0

Timely’s Garret

The fourth story attic of a thin apartment complex crammed between two larger buildings Downtown. The garret is well lit from two large skylights in the steeply angled roof. Cobwebs make small white arches between the beams. No spiders crawl there, instead a thin snake curls loosely around one of the cross bars.

Timely and Officer Drake share the small space. A lumpy futon covered in disordered sheets and blankets fill one corner a small kitchenette set fills another. The rest of the space is crammed with books, manuscripts and a huge warped desk that looks like someone had to break it to get it into the small room. On the desk is an old Remington typewriter. At the moment Timely is in the middle of a book of love poetry.

Beside the desk is a box of unsold copies of Timely’s weird poetry Horrors and Other Things, which she has let a box of ink ribbons stain slightly. The ink seems to have soaked into the books obscuring every occurrence of the word “with” and “snake.” None of the other writing in the room contain the words “with” or “snake.”

Timely keeps a pot of coffee constantly boiling on the stove which she adds new grounds and water too occasionally in a weak attempt at caffeinated suicide.

Try Something New: Scene Calling

After three more traditional games where each in game morning would start with a “what do you do now?” I decided I would borrow from Dramasystem and Fiasco and create a way for players to move action through scene calling.

Each session each player would take turns to set a scene, describing where, when, and who was in each scene. Session would be broken into about two scenes for each player and they had full control over who would be in that scene or what was happening there.

I was particularly inspired to use this after two other campaigns I played in and the GM predetermined how all of the characters would be introduced. I had a clear idea how I wanted to make first impressions on the party but that was cut off at the ankles straight away. Instead in my game I wanted the players to be able to control what the action was and where it happened.


What Worked

It kept action fast paced and continual. One player declared they wanted a scene of their character exploring a cemetery and getting into trouble. It naturally turned into a classic horror scene as the grey statues disappeared behind him to suddenly appear as a horrible ghoul. He barely escaped with his life and loved every minute.

Scene calling let players draw on the action they wanted, dealing with conflicts when they wanted, skipping the boring bits of library research or the city gritty of getting to locations.

What Didn’t

The biggest hurdle seemed to be that the traditional style was so ingrained in the players they couldn’t shake it. “What’s your scene?” just changed back into “what do you do next?” While some players would be moving forwards the others would feel they were falling behind and didn’t have time to do what they wanted because they thought each scene had to be immediately after the last.

Instead of focusing on setting a scene where the thing they wanted happened they got caught up on the build up, waiting for me to create the pay off I didn’t know they wanted. While a reactive character might have worked well if the player was creating scenes for their Investigator to react to often they would call scenes with nothing happening and then get frustrated that they weren’t changing anything.

Next Time

I think practice makes perfect in this case. With more experience players should be able to use this sort of gameplay to rip into the plots and scenes they want, something I sorely miss in others games.

However I think I tried too much at once with The Flames Engulf. Playing both NPCs and having a scene calling mechanic meant players had too much to think about and struggled. It became a juggling act of trying to predict player actions to brief the players on what their NPCs might be doing, while they were making their own decisions.

I may use scene calling with my GUMSHOE driven game Goliard as an experiment. Goliard is a heist game set in 13th century France. The GUMSHOE system fits this better, with Ability Spends acting as reasons for scenes as they prepare their plans. Then when the heist happens it can act as a more traditional stream of scenes.

Saturday Session Prep: Flames Engulf 3

Saturday Session Prep are notes directly from my game sessions. They are completely unedited, sloppy, and unorganized, enjoy! They include both before and after session notes.


Things that are going on:

  1. Samantha begins haunting Benoit and Diana
  2. The Danger Dogs are building up for a attack while the BS begin fortifying their positions.
  3. Sam has been spreading rumors of the prophesy
  4. The LPC has set up all of the points besides Silas’ warehouse and the train hut.
  • Two pre game reminders: – Prof. Rice mentioned that several people have asked about the Necronomicon in the library. He has a list of their names.

-Malcolm overheard Sam making an appointment with Officer Drake (and probably mentioning Pier 16)

  • Start with the Pier 16 setup. Radcliffe and Papa Warrell reveals that the goods are guns supposed to be sold to the American government. Malcolm is put in charge of the defense.
    • It quickly becomes apparent that they wont be attacked for awhile. Malcolm is sent home after his watch.
  • Normal investigation scenes.
    • Have side characters mention a black haired girl telling them about the prophesy or the potential of fire. Some of these characters hint that their might be other people forming groups about it.
    • Have Quail Zither, disguised as Wally Harland (a PI) be outside already working for Esmerelda since Sam took so long. He should act money grubbing but is really using the job to make sure no one else knows too much.
    • If we need more tension have Philo and Tony bump into Sam and hassle him.

Introduce a dinner party with Dr. Mason, Mr. & Mrs. Wilson, Dr. d’Poe, Commissioner Stanley, and Dr. Morgan.

Tip (Sam’s neighbor) warned about disappearances. They left a note on her door to get her to call them.

Ten guys at the pier, others are nearby ready to show up when the shit hits the fan. More are at the house ready to get there when the phone rings.

Silas Virginia gives phone number to Malcolm.

Malcolm is there at night 9pm-3am       10am-2pm

Back left of the Virginia warehouse used for wiccan stuff.

Leslie is compiling an actual history according to Ink. Passed pow roll.

Justine gives Sam a business card with her number on it. “If you need anything *smiley face*”

Dr. Middleton went into basement saw ghost in basement and dropped torch which broke. He managed to get it to work but by then the ghost was gone.

Symbology on the bottom of the passage  stone.

Sam sent a note to Mrs. Cornstuck.

Mrs. Cornstuck,

I appreciate you’re assurance that I was correct in my suspicions. However I worry that my participation could be a bad idea. That being said I would be willing to help if there was any chance it could clear my name or provide answers the night I confronted your son.

-Samuel Hunter

“two weeks on Friday” Ben is going to Zither Botique for book signing

Four sprigs of herbs laid down for the four elements. Benoit has a separate small statue of the horned god.

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