Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Without Warning

Some of you may remember that last October I took part in the virtual Miskatonic Repository Con 2020 celebrating the Miskatonic Repository, the online collection of user-made content for Call of Cthulhu supported by Chaosium, the CoC publishers.  Details of the MR and several hundred products (mainly scenarios) can be found on the DriveThruRPG here.

Although I was able to listen to some of the panel discussions, due to some scheduling problems I only participated in one of the games that were on offer that weekend.  This was a play-test of William Adcock's 'Without Warning' (to be honest, that chance of playing in one of Bill's games with him as Keeper was what brought me to the con in the first place).  

Well, the published version of the scenario is now available through DriveThruRPG.com.  I would recommend it - I had fun playing it and reading later drafts.

The setting is the Canadian Arctic in 1958, where something odd had happened to the crew of a remote radar station...

Fans of 'The Thing from Another World' will love it

Bill makes no secret that the inspiration for this was Howard Hawkes' 1951 classic 'The Thing from Another World'.  For me, that is recommendation in itself.


OK, to steal a format from the incomparable Reviews from R'lyeh...


Name: Without Warning

Publisher: Chaosium Inc (Miskatonic Repository).  Availble to download.

Author: William Adcock

Setting: 1950s Arctic outpost (military)

Product: Scenario

What You Get: 27 page, 18.74 MB illustrated PDF

Elevator Pitch: The Arctic is deadly, but sometimes it's worse than that...

Plot Hook:  November, 1957. An isolated DEW-line radar station in the Canadian Arctic has radioed in a medical emergency. A relief flight carrying a medic is dispatched, but as a winter storm closes in, the crew of the Hula Honey discovers something far worse than seals and seabirds roaming the Arctic ice.

Plot Support: Plot set-up, one plan/map, one handout, stat-block for adversaries, six pre-generated Investigators.

Production Values: Clean and readable, well-laid out (by Danial Carroll), atmospheric illustrations (by Jonathan Myers), PDF background layer can be turned off for easy printing.

Pros

  • One-night, one-shot set-up
  • Potential convention scenario
  • Set firmly in the period
  • Could be set in other periods (back to a Franklin Expedition-like mystery, forward to a contempory setting, or even transfered to an outpost on another planet)
  • Could be included in a Cold-War conspiracy campaign
  • Pre-generated investigators tie in well with scenario
  • 'Time running out' scenario set in a bottle location
  • Captures the feeling of 1959's 'creature features'
  • Evocotive and menacing adversary
  • Optional additional encounter raises the stakes significantly.
Cons
  • One-night, one-shot set-up
  • Set firmly in the period 
  • 'Time running out' scenario set in a bottle location
  • All pre-gens are male.  Even within the restraints of the setting, a female character could be introduced as a civilan medic or scientist.
  • Very little oportunity for player agency or character development
  • Linear plot
  • Not much will come as a surprise to anyone familiar with 'The Thing from Another World'
  • Mythos-light
  • Could degenerate into a 'creature feature' if the Investigators don't follow the clues to the second location

Conclusion

I enjoyed taking part in the play-test and reading the final text (finding out what we'd missed in-game!) and would recommend it for an afternoon or evening's play.  

It's bottle adventure suitable for one-shots or convention play, which is a draw-back, though of course there no reason why this might not just be the beginning for any surviving Investigators...

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