Call of Cthulhu: Bryson Springs

The year is 1935 and horror lurks in the shadows of the Great Depression. In a Hooverille near a small town of California, Bryson Springs, a man has been murdered by means most foul. A FBI agent is ordered to investigate the death even though he is currently transporting a mafia hitman to prison. A reporter from L.A. and a professor of anthropology also converge on the area, drawn by fate or curiosity. The unlikely heroes find themselves surrounded by a horror they cannot imagine, let alone perceive. Find out what awaits them in this double length episode!

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  1. honestly almost as good as U-boat heruas which is truely amazing

  2. Hey, great session, and all, but slight firearms issue

    The Taurus Judge, a five-shot revolver which can fire .410 Shotgun shells or .45 Long Colt, probably doesn’t back enough power to take off a hand (Especially when what the hand was was revealed). Even with 00 Buck Shot (The size used on people) it only holds like six pellets. Using Deer Slugs or actual .45 LC might have enough power to cause that kind of damage at point-blank though.

  3. This is amazing. Only three hours in, and I’m in love with this scenario. Caleb, you’ve done it again.

    Aaron – AWESOME roleplaying. You’ve come very, very far.

  4. Fantastic scenario.

    Caleb, your npcs are awesome.

    And Ross should play a reporter in evry game.

  5. Oh, I’ve got to the end, now I really like the whole “Fisher of Men” thing (I actually moaned in terror a little the first time one appeared). Really good stuff. Props to Aaron for staying in character even when it was extremely detrimental to him.

    But, another firearms error at the end. Buck Shot (being just a loose collection of lead balls) has very poor penetration. In fact, against wood hard enough to resist damage, it would probably do nothing. The best weapon in that fight for penetrating wood would be the lever-action rifle, which judging by make and damage was probably something like a .308 or .45-70. Either way, its still a high-power rifle bullet, which has very different ballistics than buck shot or even the pistol caliber rounds like .38 and .45 ACP. Not that this matters now, but perhaps it will be useful in the future.

  6. Halfway through and the line “Its been five minutes without player conflict. Lets start the fight.” almost made me choke on my coke. Co-workers are giving me weird looks I’m laughing into my hand so much.

  7. Such a good session. I’m about an hour and a half from the very end right now.

    Caleb deserves a lot of praise, once again, for scene framing and NPC characterization. Also pacing. There are only two minor criticisms I have, neither of which ruined the game for me by any means, but could be something to think about.

    1. It’s kind of part of the CoC core game, but Caleb seems to ask for Spot Hidden checks too often. A Spot Hidden to see if something’s up with that jar the Kelleys gave to David’s character = fine, and makes some sense because they were trying to pull shenanigans on him. But there were a few other cases of rolling Spot Hidden to see something that advanced the scene, particularly in the earlier investigation scenes. In my opinion, it would be better to simply give some of that information away instead of going through the trouble of asking for multiple rolls.
    2. Caleb tells the players how their characters feel and what they think a few times. “You’re terrified” and such. I think it is best to be neutral about that sort of thing and simply offer information. The players will interpret it however they will.

    But seriously, given that this is Caleb’s second game that he’s ever GM’d, he’s done an outstanding job. Hell, I’d say he’s done well for somebody who has been GMing for 5 years.

  8. AMAZING game guys. Caleb, your GMing rocks and I loved the scenario.

    Aaron, awesome roleplaying. I was rooting for your character the entire time.

  9. ohmygod a third of the way in and I’m just DIGGING the NPCs. the Oakie trash talk is absolutely the best DMing I’ve ever heard. I hope it’s improv, but somehow feel like it just has to be a list of prepared slurs you reference at lightning speed. brathehellvo.

    also, MORE GAGA2.0 PLAZ.

  10. Great AP guys. Caleb says he didn’t know to much about the mythos, but his story felt right at home with tales like the Color out of Space or even the Dunwitch Horror. To Amishninja, CoC has always suffered from the problem of checks for critical clues, I can’t remember which of the official campaigns had 1 or 2 parts which completely hinged on making successful checks to know even remotely know what to do. As to the gun vs wood debate I will make 2 points: first complaing about one round over another vs wood is a bit moot, a 12 gauge slug isn’t even going to do much against a solid piece of wood, tom’s approach of putting multiple holes in it make more since; second as for the judge taking off a hand I didn’t see a problem with it, It’s right next to a joint and I assume the barrel was in contact, if a firecracker contained can cause problems, a cartridge full of smokeless powder is gonna be worse.

  11. paul: My problem was that some of the checks were made for clues that *weren’t* critical, and advanced the scene/made it more interesting. While rolling skill checks is a part of CoC, requiring them in non-meaningful ways is GM behavior. That’s what I was getting at.

  12. Prime Example: In the epilogue, Caleb has Ross roll a spot hidden to see that scroll. There’s no reason to do this at all. Just let him see the scroll and decide if he’s gonna read it or not! πŸ™‚

    If the roll is failed, then what? Everyone misses out on an interesting piece of narrative. And I’ve seen Caleb handwave enough things in other parts of the scenario that lead me to believe that he’d just give it to Ross even in the case of a failure.

  13. Awesome game! While Aaron is being chased through a burning field, I’m looking at my iphone and thinking “This is happening and there’s still 2 and half hours left?!”

    The level of PC on PC violence was fantastic. And listening to Caleb scramble and recover every time one of you guys did something he did not remotely imagine or plan for really shows how good of a GM Caleb is.

  14. I loved this session – I fired it up while I was playing a game on my laptop and ended up listening to the whole thing straight through. Great NPCs, great setup. Aaron did a fantastic job rolling with everything, Tom and Ross did really well with keeping the investigation stuff going on, and I particularly liked David’s character stopping to assist the Bryson Ranch. It was a very good touch. I have to agree with the amount of Spot Hidden rolls, but otherwise, I thought the scenario ran very well, and everybody seemed to have a blast with it.

  15. Aaron’s professor is the greatest action hero of our time.
    He ran headfirst into CoC with a intellectual, non combat character and somehow tooth and nailed his way through. just…epic.

  16. Caleb knocks another ball out of the park! Wow! What a game!

    Lots of action, lots of suspense. Every single NPC had personality and flavor. Caleb, you really know how to bring a game to life! CoC’s rules can be quite annoying (I ran a scenario that suffered from the same need for “spot hidden” checks), but you managed to pull it together and keep the narrative going at a nice clip.

    Aaron: A great, great session for you. I loved the Professor and thought the amnesia roll was a perfect stroke of luck (the dice never lie)! I agree with the other poster who said you’ve come a long way.

    Tom: Playing a bad-ass, sociopath cop? Noooo waaaaaayyy. Haha, my absolute favorite part of the AP and the yet another moment that convinces me that you are some sort of cosmic deity (and not merely a man) is when you thank Caleb for letting your character punch a dying old woman in the face. Classic Tom Church right there ladies and gentlemen!

    Ross: What can I say about Ross that hasn’t already been said. I think your character’s insatiable need to know, even at the expense of his sanity, pretty much defines your characters. Ross, you are the man!

    Dave: Loved how smooth and cool your character was. Even after being burned into a hideous, crispy vestige of his former self, he casually strolls off with a bag full of money to find the nearest train station. Hope you show up in more RPPR APs!

    Great session fellas. This AP is a fine example of a “classic” RPPR actual play!

  17. Caleb you are amazing sir. Great game and I believe it’s time Tom was stopped from playing officers of the law!

  18. Thank you for all the compliments and criticisms! I probably did go overboard on the spot hidden’s; I’ll watch out for that in the future.

    Also, I agree I need to take my firearm verisimilitude further. Your disappointment can never match my shame. At least no one cocked a shotgun with a round already in the chamber?

    But really…all props go to Aaron for Dr. Badass, Associate Professor of Kickassology for Hard Knocks University.

    Best. PC. Ever.

  19. OMG, best Call of Cthulhu actual play EVAH! Please please please have Caleb as the Keeper again. Fuck Tom, to hell with Ross. Caleb rulez!

  20. Yeah, really, Aaron just rolled with everything. My favorite PC of his so far.

    Also wanted to echo the sentiments of everyone praising Caleb for his GMing. You have a really strong sense of story and I especially love how you always seem to pick the most harrowing moment from which to switch focus to a different PC.

    And the description of the marionette chasing down Aaron in the orange grove? Good god man, sent chills down my spine – great stuff.

  21. Definitely one of my favourite Call of Chthulu games ever. Mad props yo.

  22. Awesome. For a number of reasons (imo).
    1) Non-typical CoC adventure
    2) Tom as a badass FBI AGENT!
    3) Aaron, who has had my respect as early as the Age of Masks, now has a double helping.

  23. One of the best AP’s out there, with my first going to Andrew’s Fortune. Caleb is a phenomenal GM no matter the system, I’d love to hear more AP’s of his running games he’s written.

    Also “Dinner and a show!” was hands down the funniest, most natural and most perfectly timed NPC remark I’ve ever heard in a game.

  24. Y’know, something I didn’t think about until the last time I listened through it. We never did get any kind of closing scene about Liang’s daughter, who seemed to drive a chunk of the plot by getting Ross and Tom to start delving into things more. She just sort of fades into the background about the time Bryson Ranch goes ablaze. It’s not a huge thing, but on reflection, a character with that much impact on the game should probably merit a little more mention in the end – after all, she was still seeking the hows and whys of her father’s death. In a one-shot, it’s not so big a thing, but having some kind of callback to her would have been a really fantastic closing touch. Just something to consider for the future.

  25. Amazing Post! Great job.

  26. I am only about halfway through this and I just can’t wait to get into the car to listen to more of it. If there is anyway I could Skype in to sit in on a session of any of the games run on RPPR, please let me know.

    Best AP podcasts on the internet. Hands down. Grats to everybody involved.

  27. Really freaking awesome. Caleb is a great GM and Aaron is the perfect instigator. Good game all around guys.

  28. This is probably my favorite AP so far. The setting, the PCs, the NPCs, the story… It just all clicked together in a very enjoyable way.

    As unrealistic as it would be, I’d love to see a ‘reunion’ one-shot using the same characters for the sheet heck of it- I had gotten kind of attached to them by the end. Everyone played well, but Aaron totally stole the show!

  29. God that was kickass! I would love to see these characters in another game.

  30. god damn it I just listened to this again and it’s just even more amazing from all contributors we seriously need an Eclipse Phase game from Caleb

  31. Yep, extraordinary scenario you got there. One of my favorite APs yet. Classy yet somehow unique among other CoC adventure. Caleb, don’t stop doing your magic. Your games are easily recognizable by detailed and alive world and NPCs. Learned a trick or two from you already. Ross, you pictured best reported PC alive. Followed by best bad-ass FBI agent played by Tom. You guys are incredible.

  32. Wow Caleb, that was outstanding! I still can’t believe you wrote all that, with little GM experience, without tapping into the Mythos, and with only the quick start guide. The detail and creepiness of the Fisher of Men/Puppets of Death were amazing. I actually started looking for references online and in my CoC books before I finished listening because I wanted to use it in my own scenario! My hat is off to you sir.

  33. This is one of the best games I’ve heard ever! I love how consistent you all are as role-players. The reporter who is just after the story, and then to prove his sanity. The immovable hard-assed FBI agent, and the professor who just wants to get out of there!

    Great NPCs, great storytelling. It felt like I was listening to a movie!

  34. Hats of to Caleb for this one. Completely blown away by the Fisher of Men prose.

  35. That was the creepiest scenario I’ve ever heard. Actual (slight) swooning horror was felt at a couple parts, and I felt jumpy for hours afterwards. Really, really good.

  36. SCARED THE HELL OUT OF ME! Loved the geek prof. confronted by the scarecrow, when all else fails set the orchard on fire. This was a great session, and the players pulled it off perfectly. I still get a laugh at the thought of the guy eating out of a can during the failed getaway “Dinner AND a show.” Hope to hear more from you guys. by the way, did the Prof. ever get his car fixed?

  37. Every GM I think looks forward to sessions like this.

    Caleb, you did very well. You don’t have to read the Call of Cthulhu books to run a Call of Cthulhu session; this scenario of yours demonstrates it very well. You were also blessed with GGG players…

  38. The most impressive thing about this session (which is one of the best I’ve ever heard) has nothing to do with the game at all; it’s that this is a near perfect horror story , generated in real-time and using game rules (ie, a random number generator) right before our very eyes (or ears, as the case might be). All the elements combined flawlessly into something truly special: a session that would work on its own as a short story, graphic novel, or film. A little embellishment, some dialog alteration, a couple changes, and this could be something I’d read in a modern Mythos anthology. Many of the scenes are so cinematic they almost scream out for a graphic novel or literary treatment.

    The fistfight between the hardboiled Fed and the clueless (but good natured) Professor; the Mafia Hitman that has the chance to escape custody but can’t bring himself to leave without his beloved tommygun; the Hitman watching out the jailhouse window to see the grizzled Sheriff set upon by a Horror from Beyond; the Professor escaping jail but trying to keep the Hitman locked up; the Reporter seeing all those damned strings; the Reporter trying, and failing, to get the Fed to read the scroll; the Professor torching the fields and somehow surviving the monster attack… all these moments are DRAMATIC in the way that all good fiction aspires to.

    Then the ending, which was so fitting it almost hurt (the Hitman, his face burned and now unrecognizable, ready to start a new life, driving off into the sunset with the girl he loves, a still warm and smoking tommygun; the straight-laced Fed, his eyes opened perhaps to futility of upholding law and order in the face of cosmic insignificance, letting the Hitman escape; the Reporter, who finally got that big story, bigger than he can even begin to comprehend; and the Professor, who somehow survived against all odds). Really the only thing that could have made the ending more perfect would have been an exchange where the Hitman breaks the Professor’s nose (for trying to leave him behind in jail) before driving off.

    Everyone involved in this session deserves applause. If improv theater was anything like this I’d go every week. As they say in Bryson Springs, “Dinner AND a show!”

  39. Wow. You’d almost expect the Hooverville npcs would have to make sanity checks for observing the PCs actions at times. Having character backgrounds that pit the players against each other at the start really did something special here.

  40. Just finished a second session of Calebs scenerio. Its gone a lot different then the actual play but its still been great so far. I purposely wrote up four characters based on Ross, Tom, Aaron and Daves personalities and tweaked the story slightly (as a habit because I have had players read scenerios before. That is why I usually write my own but Calebs No Security scenerios are brilliant. I also steal from Ross of course and I used a modified version of Toms Apartment 12b to introduce my group to Call of Cthulhu because it was a perfect intro to fhe mythos).

    Anyway. We are nearly at the end of Bryson Springs and this is where my rppr crew is at in the story. Dave has been horribly murdered. Ross and Tom have gone through hell, are bat shit crazy and can only agree on one thing: setting themselves on fire is starting to sound reasonable. Aaron has drank every ounce of alcohol in a five mile radius and is about to steal the only remaining vehicle and leave the other characters, the okies and tge Brysons to the death, destruction and madness that has engulfed the area (which he still has no incling as to why), because he has a lecture to give at the university first thing in the morning and his tenure depends on it.

  41. Great job on this insane game of odd character choices. I think for the future runs of this it’d be better to just go with the FBI agent picking up someone who’s car broke down to drop them off at the next town. Freaking scary episode too & while going through the CoC/Trail of Cthulhu audio plays on RPPR, this is one of my favorites along with a few others.

    Also LOVED the ‘dinner & show’ moment along with the real book titles turned to game text. Great work guys!

  42. One should come back to this or other CoC stuff RPPR has done because it is amazing.

  43. This was great apart from Tom unduly giving Aaron a hard time at the start the in character actions made little sense. The reporter was cutting in as much as the professor but the professor was only one that got shit on. The FBI agent went from telling the professor character to stop “interfering” then picking a fight “arresting” him. Then going to just letting the reporter character suddenly in on a “official” investigation. It’s nice seeing how everyone has grown since this. But listening to it kind of put a bad taste in my mouth.

  44. My favorite part of this is how you can’t hear some things because people are slurping drinks and smacking their lips right into the mic while crunchy on chips or something. Why are people recommending this playthrough? Is it because it’s literally the only one or something?

  45. Sorry, but this was terrible. The way everyone acts towards each other is nonsensical, and which genius decided eating into their mics and smacking their lips in joy over the food was the correct call?

    It’s a travesty this is the only playthrough of this scenario on the internet. What a joke.

  46. I’ve been a DM primarily and a player plenty for over 30 years now, and I’ve never found a worse player than the guy playing the FBI agent. The party/DM enabling him and allowing him to take multiple actions back to back while fighting his own party were almost as bad. Ruins an otherwise interesting game.

  47. It’s absolutely ridiculous how differently the players were treated. The professor was barely allowed to make a single check without making multiple other checks for no reason, and his actions were cut to like split seconds “Oh you can lock the door but not move away from it or take the key out, oh you want to move across the room and hit him, sure.” “Oh you want to open a door with keys, it’ll be 4 rounds, but hey pick a lock? That’s just 1.” The fight in the grove was absolutely insane, making him make like 6 different insanity tests, over and over for the same monster. Meanwhile the FBI agent can investigate a crime, talk to a witness, beat another player unconscious, apprehend him, and still spot the gangster mid combat from across a Hooverville and can instantly catch up with him in the time it took him to pick a lock on the first try, then fail to pick another lock and leave. The Flash wouldn’t be able to move that fast, and Daredevil wouldn’t be as perceptive. An awesome scenario ruined by a terrible DM and player.

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