When I was in China, I met up with some RPPR listeners and ran a game of Call of Cthulhu for them. I was fascinated by the rise of Ghost Cities in China, so I decided to run a one shot set in one. Three investigators hired by a western hedge fund head out to Inner Mongolia to assess a newly built city, which is oddly called July Park, as a potential investment opportunity. The investigators find more than they could have imagined but will they survive long enough to understand what they have seen?
Please note that this episode was recorded on my phone instead of the usual recorder, so the quality isn’t quite as good. I had a blast running the game so I think you guys will still enjoy it.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 3:38:13 — 99.9MB)
Mmm…Norther china ghost city? If this isn’t a Carcosa scenario, I shall be disappointed.
Oh the architectural horror tag, this shall keep me happy, even if it isn’t Carcosa.
you make me miss Chinerrr. although…not the parts per millionness of the atmosphere.
I hope you found a way to worm the “Operate Heavy Machinery” skill into this game Ross!
Ross, I’m glad there were no masks. The setting was really good. Ghost cities is a great idea for a setting. I like the heads bit, creeeeepy.
At the end, you’re analogy about toxic waste I think is spot on. It’s like figuring out how to build a nuclear reactor and makes lots of power from uranium but not knowing you have to put in shielding to stop the radiation.
The coffee/cocaine/lsd/break in the security office was hilarious.
You might consider mashing up the architecture more. If you’re dealing with a crazy person, he might different styles together. Or maybe have different parts of the city be like ‘boroughs’ with different styles.
Not really sure, just riffing on the architect idea. Or possibly a great way for a DG agent monitoring key hole satellites spots a city appear literally over night with 7 different styles of building and thinking ‘hmm…have we called J-Cell in a while? Have they recovered enough from the last op?’
I think this is one of the best CoC scenarios you’ve ran. The pacing was great and it felt like the players could go where they wanted (which you confirmed in the end).
I really liked the monsters (can’t remember seeing it in Gantz!, but it’s been a while since I read it (Oh hey it’s ended, time to get caught up)) in the way they’re easy to understand and fucked up on such a primal level you just can’t help but to gtfo.
Like Beej, I loved your point on likening the use of mythos stuff with toxic waste.
Was the point of the architecture to scare the investigators with the knowledge that it couldn’t possibly be there (therefore shit is fucked uuuuup)? I got a little confused. It might help with taking architectural styles from different eras or cultures to further drive home the point of how bizarre everything is.
Also like the Ghost city theme, since I’m currently working on a ghost city campaign for my group (trying to get them more into mystery and horror).
Also, the quality was surprisingly good. Great listen altogether.
And I forgot: What was the deal with the freaky glass?
The Gantz tumor monster (NSFW) http://www.mangareader.net/gantz/347/14
The freaky glass was just a different vector for infection. In Gantz, floating balls of light infect people. I wanted something more solid, so I thought up the glass shards.
The architecture was there to reinforce the mimicry gone awry theme – the buildings are copies of ones lost in tragic circumstances. They were also impossible, as they are literal copies of historic structures.
Holy fuck, I’d forgotten how terrifying Gantz could be (body horror is best horror).
Cool, are the glass as insta-FU as the Gantz-balls or are they like an infection/parasite you can fight off?
I had a mechanic to resist infection for the shards. Not easy, but not impossible.
Good game, guys. The hydra monsters were very freaky.
So it seemed like only a couple workers got turned into monsters. What happened to the other hundred, died trying to cross the circle?
OK, a little edumucation in case anyone decides to drop acid for no reason in one of your games again. You had them immediately make SAN checks, but acid takes about half an hour to an hour and a half to even start kicking in. Then it lasts for about 8 hours (6 to 12, depending on who took how much) and during that time, there will be different stages of effects. The user will start to feel euphoric early on, maybe get the giggles at some point, get philosophical, have ideas that they think are groundbreaking, only about half of which actually will be if they’re lucky, over about the first half of the trip. Then comes the peak, usually around the halfway point. The peak can be really great or it can be horrible (a bad trip). This is about the point where actual hallucination will occur if the user took enough (“I take all the acid” is probably enough). Horrible mutated man-monsters with multiple heads and limbs do not help at this stage, I would say the player can choose, either you take an extra SAN penalty, or you think it’s a hallucination and don’t respond to it as a real threat. After this point the user goes through a couple hours of a contemplative coming-down process. Until the acid has worn off, the user will have no desire to sleep and doing so will be almost impossible.
The more you know…
I love how people come out to school RPPR every time drugs are used in a game.
Very cool episode. Sound quality was pretty faint at the beginning but it was fine 10-15 minutes in. The group was entertaining and sounds like you guys had a blast.
Really glad the city horror broke new ground. For some reason the phrase ‘Nothing is free. Where did they get the city from?’ was really damn spooky. That was a really inspired detail.
Have you ever read “Stealing Cthulhu” by Graham Walmsley Ross?
Oh yeah. What was water going to do?
@Chris – many of the workers were eaten by the doppel-hydras or were lost in space time when they tried to cross the circle or hide in the city.
@Twisting H – I own Stealing Cthulhu. It’s a great book. Also, doppel-hydras can’t swim – it’s very easy to drown when you have multiple mouths at ankle height.
Hello, this my first time posting. I am a fellow Missourian too, but over on the other side of the state (St. Louis). I have loved listening to your podcasts and really look foreword to listening to this one this weekend.
Since I have not listen to this yet, I don’t know if you are aware of the concept of Psychogeography. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychogeography). This concept could easily be woven into something like this. I was never aware of these cities and now have an interesting idea for a game based on a previous game I ran use psychogeography in a cult/murder scenario.
Keep up the excellent work!
Thanks for introducing me to gantz; its like william s burroughs does dungeons & dragons…
“You take more coke and and I give you more Sanity back!” cracked me up, absolutely fucking hilarious… great game! On a related note: Did Caleb ever post his rules for drug use from the Lover-prequel? I remember them being a pretty good take on the subject.
@Beej/Levi, I think the architecture was pretty good being relatively focused on Europe as well as the kind of thing you might find built in China.
Also I regret not having a chance to dose the workers with LSD.
It was a lot of fun. And it was cool meeting Ross, and watching a character I created get wasted, in more ways than one.
FYI my characters name was a pun on the term ‘laowai’ the generic term used for foreigners in main land China.
Nice scenario! They took all the drugs.
What would have happened if they had successfully blown a hole in the circle, like the other workers’ original plan?
@Ethan – Blowing up the circle would have caused the city to become unstable – everything starts falling apart, wormhole to other universe opens up and glass shards flying everywhere – PCs would have to run and dodge some obstacles and dangers in order to escape.
Cool. I think it’s pretty awesome that in this case, “go right up to the evil mastermind and shotgun him in the face” worked, too. 🙂
Great game concept with the Ghost cities of China, Ross. I had never heard of these cities, and man… creepy as fuck. There’s a lot to work with there. Architectural Horror FTW.
Heheh.. “I’ll take a hit of cocaine!” “You gain sanity!” RPPR and in-game drug talk never fail to amuse.
A scene from this game has been depicted on the RPPR Patreon! https://www.patreon.com/posts/35571139