Monday, 31 October 2011

"The horror...": Cthulhu gaming in Vietnam

You're not in Dunwich anymore...
Still labouring away at my book on forex trading and won't really be getting behind the GM's screen again until that has been finished! I'm almost a month over the deadline date for the book, so really need to get my skates on.

My group's ruminations about playing the Tatters of the King campaign from Chaosium has got me thinking about running some more Cthulhu of my own once that manuscript has been finished. At the moment, my penchant lies more towards Mythos adventures in non-traditional settings, with 1960s Vietnam in the frame.

Secondly, I'm planning on using Savage Worlds rather than Basic Roleplaying as the rules system for the game. This would involve a cross-over between, say, Realms of Cthulhu and Tour of Darkness. I've only got so much room in my head for gaming rules these days, and as far as RPGs are concerned, it is Pathfinder/D20, BRP/RuneQuest, and Savage Worlds. Luckily these are all fairly generic and can be ported across a range of different genres.

The other thing I like about running Cthulhu is that it is ideally suited to the sort of mini-campaign I enjoy running - namely no more than three to six sessions, and certainly less than 20 hours of play time. Thus, you need a system where it is relatively easy to generate characters and to drop PCs into the gaming milieu, but at the same time is dangerous enough that the party can all die horribly and convincingly at the end! In this case, I'm hoping the entire plot cycle will cover no more than four sessions.

Still some way to go to get to Seasoned...
The background to the campaign is fairly generic: the PCs are all part of a single squad, itself part of a platoon in the I Corps area of operations in South Vietnam in 1966. They are mostly fresh-faced rookies (Novice level - see right), just arrived in-country unless any players take any Edges to earn them veteran status. Their unit is assigned to the A Shau Valley, up near the border with Laos, as part of the 1st Cavalry Brigade. The area is important because it is a conduit for supplies and North Vietnamese troops coming down the Ho Chi Minh trail, which debouches into the South right about where the 1st Cav area of operations sits.

I'm going to allow players to buy Edges and Hindrances from both Tour of Darkness (e.g. Bullet Magnet, Grizzled, Thumper King) and Realms of Cthulhu (e.g. Dark Secret, Milquetoast, Unusual Lineage). I will probably also add the grity damage and gritty sanity rules from RoC, just to make it that bit darker for the grunts. That means no using bennies to make Soak rolls, which should be interesting.

This should be interesting, as it takes the game away from the usual civilized, developed world setting, and drops it straight into the mosquito-infested foothills of Vietnam, with the added complication of a shooting war going on as well. The emphasis is less on investigation and saving the world and more on just getting out alive. The PCs are equipped with state-of-the-art military hardware and can call on the support of the most powerful army and air force in the world, but will that be enough to keep them alive?

I also want to use miniatures for this game, so part of the delay in getting it out will be based on the speed at which I can paint...

What lies dreaming in the jungles of South Vietnam?


  1. Apparently there is a Vietnam supplement coming out called Cthulhu By Arclight (after the code name for B52 air strikes). Should make intriguing reading...

  2. Ah yes, it's coming from the Black Seal people. That's a good magazine full of good ideas, so the supplement should be pretty good.