I confess: I chickened out a bit on my weekend pledge to start Beyond the Mountains of Madness. Upon digging out the BtMoM book, I was reminded of that campaign’s sanity-shattering complexity and extremely large cast of NPCs, and so I decided to lead into it gradually. I ran the first part of The Trail of Tsathoggua instead (Tsathoggua being one of the better Cthulhu mythos names, in my opinion). It features a hazardous journey across glacier-covered wastes in search of a long-lost city (in other words, it shares much of BtMoM‘s plot, but in much more compact form). The plan is to give my wife’s investigator characters a chance to acquire some glacier-exploring skills, then toss them to the wolves of BtMoM.
I will say this: I don’t think I’ve ever played in an RPG scenario where the Climb skill was the most critical one on the character sheet. So far, there’s an awful lot of “if the investigators fail their Climb skill check while on the glacier, they die”–not a lot of room for the GM to step in and handwave away something like that. I assume this will only get worse once we get to BtMoM. Usually, it’s the combat and weapon skills that get maxed out upon character creation. Part of the charm of Call of Cthulhu, I suppose.by
[Bail ’em out if they fall, but make it hurt. If the PC’s lack key skills, it’s time to offer them a chance to cajole help from an unusual NPC.]
You awake in a dimly lit carvern.
You can barely move, due to several splits and bandages. Your body aches terribly.
A small scuffling sound comes from the distance.
“Ah, you’re finally awake. You’re lucky I found you when I did– you nearly froze to death in that blizzard.”
Hah, sounds perfect! I actually did take your advice–the first few falls didn’t kill them, but made it clear that extra training would be needed if they hoped to survive the rest of the adventure. Then some friendly NPCs appeared who did some emergency arctic survival training for the PCs, which probably won’t guarantee their survival, but will at least give them a shot at not dying every time they make a Climb skill roll…
The campaign picks up near the end, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to run the very detailed equipment phase without putting most of my group and myself to sleep.
I know maybe two people who really enjoy that sort of thing, but most gamers of my acquaintance would revolt if we spent most of a session ‘kitting out’; never mind BTMoM’s multiple sessions of not only kitting out, but having to double-check your entire equipment list. And if the PCs don’t do this incredibly boring task that has probably never come up before in adventures similar to this one, they pretty much FAIL.