Call of Cthulhu: Payday

WE GOT A MOTHERFUCKING CTHULHU!Tom steps up to the plate to run yet another game of Call of Cthulhu. He’s calling it Desert Heist, but I write the show notes so it’s going up as Payday. Anyway, the player characters are criminals hired to steal a particular item from a FBI evidence storage warehouse. It’s a very straightforward job with no unseen complications. No, it’s the other thing, where there are tons of complications and twists. Enjoy!

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  1. ah yes, the long-awaited guy ritchie call of cthulhu film…

  2. I dunno, I think the Operation Downside heist that ended with two entire teams of police being eaten from within by hungry outsiders was hard to top.

    I really dislike cannibalism as a hook. it’s vile, yeah, but it’s sooo overdone. seems like every other Eclipse Phase villain eats people. I know ghouls are kind of a “canonical” part of the mythos, but that in and of itself kind of undermines the unknowability of the mythos, right? I prefer the Caleb approach (when do I ever not, fuckin broken record over here) of unique monstrosities. I feel like the Glancy school of “it’s gonna be a dhol!” or “it was a byakhee!”…well, it has its charm, but it’s really opposite to the spirit of the mythos. the mythos should not be a monster manual.

    not bad, though. clusterfucks are never not fun to listen to.

    also @whoeveritwas who said he doesn’t like Gumshoe, you should listen to the after-action talk podcast about Night’s Black Agents. Caleb (BROKEN RECORD DON’T THINK I’M NOT SELF-CONSCIOUS TOTALLY AM) explains why he likes Gumshoe as a narrative system and totally sold me on it. after an entire campaign of finding it annoying, I finally understood how well it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

  3. I seriously wish I was in this gaming group. Some fun, fun stuff happens.

  4. This was a really great idea for a scenario, and imma totally steal the rough outline and run it in NBA or maybe Nemesis sometime. Maybe lose the DG integration, though I know none of my players have read Targets, so I might keep it. Whatever Dan feels about Gumshoe, I think he’s completely wrong in this case, as Caleb and Ross said, if this had been in NBA, players would have easily been able to just straight up execute parts of the plan… which only leaves them with reduced resources when the REAL shit happens.

    Actually a bank-robbers for vampires/cthulhus might make an interesting start to an NBA campaign. I’ll have to play with that idea some more.

    (n.b. Also, much like Ross, I pegged the Book pretty much instantly. My suspicions were roused when what was clearly a ghoul appeared, and only confirmed later, and it made me go “awshit”. It’s a great way to use that material. Boy howdy is DG gonna be pissed though.)

  5. This episode is a perfect example of why I love RPPR. We got a fun episode and a critic/commentary at the end on not only how to improve the scenario but also how to adapt it to other systems. And like with Divine Fire, we’ll get to hear a second run, more refined and see it go in new directions.

  6. The heist element of this was great, planning it all out, testing the security, making their way inside and trying to bluff their way past the guards, all brilliant.
    But where was the Cthulhu part of this CoC game? You could have replaced the book with a bag of drugs and it would have had negligible impact on the plot.
    Tom stated he didn’t expect anyone to read out loud from the book… so when would the characters have discovered anything about the mythos in this game? If the book is not read having a single ‘weird’ cloaked figure who interacts with one person is not ‘enough’ to justify a Cthulhu tag.
    Perhaps you could have a second team of NPCs trying to retrieve the book at the same time? A team that is aware of the Mythos and will do what it takes to keep it out of the hands of your employers?
    I don’t know if played out the way you wanted it to, I don’t know what your intention was for this mod, if it was meant to be a simple walk inthe park or to lead to something bigger or if it’s just meant to be a simple-heist-gone-bat-shit-insane.

    It was fun to listen to but it felt like a bit of a bait-and-switch.

  7. And here I was thinking that dog punching was the Tom Church signature that he inserted into every scenario. Dog shooting does not quite cover it I fear.

  8. Hey

    I really enjoyed this. I’ve noticed that last 2 APs are “Call of Cthulhu” but appear to be modern day. Is it just using you ( RPPRs ) prodigious talent to run it modern day, or some other trick?


    I love horror, but need it to be modern day until my group develops time-travelling brains.


  9. @Rhesus

    The Call of Cthulhu RPG (and by extension, Delta Green, which is where the supernatural material for this scenario came from) are perfectly compatible with a modern time frame. There’s specifically modern character sheets in the back of the 6th ED CoC book, which displays skills like Computer Use and Electronics (which the PCs in this game used).

    So you should be able to just pick up the CoC rules and run with it, though I’ll admit, I haven’t seen a lot of modern scenarios or campaigns for base CoC and not DG which were set in the modern period.

  10. @Omega

    Thanks! I have only read the “quick start” Call of Cthulhu rules, hence had no idea they made provisions for modern day.


  11. Good playtest! Sounds like it did exactly what it needed to do, bashing out the problems with the scenario and refining the stuff that works best.

    I loved the whole heist procedure (Caleb, you’re first on my call list if I ever need an actual bank robbed). It got a little bland once they made their getaway in the car. Maybe that’s when the stronger supernatural stuff should start hitting, since they can’t easily just run away from it at that point.

    I disagree that it would have been better in Gumshoe, though I understand why Ross and Caleb think so. I really enjoy the CoC system’s “no guarantees” rolling system. Gumshoe would give the players a lot more narrative agency, which to my mind would reduce the feeling of danger in the heist. It was awesome that Aaron failed to hack the cameras and everything went to shit. A clockwork heist with no complications would have been much more likely in Gumshoe — but a lot less fun to listen to, I’d say.

  12. I forgot to say: it’s nice to hear a Tom game again! With the ongoing campaigns, it’s been like 90% Caleb lately. I love Caleb games, but it’s nice to get back to some more variety.

    And great job running this one, Tom.

  13. I love Tom’s scenarios, with Divine Fire v.1 being the first episode I listened to and the reason I ended up subscribing. That being said, this game felt a bit lacking in danger and/or creepiness, and rather short. I love the idea and I’m dying to hear a reworked and horrifying version when it airs.

    I’m not trying to slam it, just… Well, it served as a fine example of playtesting a scenario to refine a concept into a great product. Sorry if that came out harsh, guys…

  14. also, can we all acknowledge that in the shared RPPR Call of Cthulhu universe we now know that Cecil broke up with Carlos, left Night Vale and radio and married some chick he can’t stand

  15. Running this in Gumshoe as NBA or some flavor like that would make it very different. If all really depends if you want the characters to actually be ultra competent or just this side of dysfunctional. The heist genre is pretty split between those ultra competent heists where the drama is in the aftermath (Heat, Quick Change) and those where it is fuck ups from the word jump (any Coen brothers movie that involves crime for example) so a well worn path exist for each options.

  16. Gumshoe is frustrating, in that Cost-Benefit-Analysis-With-Too-Much-Unknown-Information-Which-Is-Never-Recommended-When-You-Want-To-Make-Informed-Decisions kind of way, but I’m okay with it when the opposition is on a relatively-same mortality.

    Gumshoe versus mythos monsters put you in a situation where you either do things randomly in the beginning (Like any other system) in order to have a chance at surviving encounters with the monsters. Or you gain Narrative Agency early on to guarantee you will survive long enough to suck ass when it counts.


  17. Fun heist. I like going heist stuff in horror games. Taking a situation that requires knowledge and control and then putting it in contact the mythos or other unnatural force breed tension quickly since more or less by default the characters will have no knowledge or control of the things involved.

    I agree that this scenario would be good for Night’s Black Agents.

    Tom, what was the deal with the figure in the evidence locker?

    Dan I can respect that you don’t like a system, for whatever reasons, and I’d personally prefer if you’d not pointlessly say insulting things about it. Other people (people actually at the table with you, not just on the internet) enjoy it and your problems with it are personal. Insults and scoffing reduces you.

  18. @Tad: your feelings & thoughts are generated by you and are your responsibility and yours alone. You do have a choice in interpreting whatever event it is you are writing/yakking aboot. You can choose between more than one interpretation — all can be ‘true’ (‘real’ or ‘important’ for you), even if they contradict themselves. Which includes choosing to be offended.

    Ideas aren’t sacred — it is people who make them so.

    And so it goes…

  19. @FuzzyDan

    I understand your stance, and even as much as Tribes of Tokyo was amazing and has put my interest in NBA, even the players who enjoyed that campaign talk about the amount of frustration experienced fighting the actual “vampires” of that campaign because Ross went out of his way to build tough opponents. But it sounds to me like you’re letting your personal feelings for a semi-specific circumstance cloud this situation from a sort of “meta” level. Your response to the idea of using Gumshoe is because YOU know it as a Call of Cthulhu scenario with a Mythos backdrop. In the actual scenario as it appeared, there’s not a whole lot of brushing elbows with serious Mythos entities involved, just some Ghoul shenanigans.

    Personally, while as noted above, it’s possible to build two “broad” heist types, this scenario idea seems like it works better if the PCs are able to build and roughly execute their plan to the best of their ability, which NBA/Gumshoe lends itself to, and THEN shit goes awry in “impossible” and supernatural ways anyway, leading to a possible scary confrontation or revelation from any of the three parties involved in the book. Even then, the most you would have to deal with is a few ghouls (or such a large number of ghouls there’s no point in rolling out the dice anyway). But that’s just my personal interpretation of the broad “high concept” for the scenario. It’s up to Tom to figure out how and what he wants to emphasize. I and many others feel like that emphasis would be better in something like NBA.

    @Akbar and Tad: I’m not going to join in on a potentially brewing conversation about subjectivity and voluntary vs involuntary psychological reactions, other than to say that’s a long, twisty and thorny path which it is probably not appropriate to explore here.

  20. @Omega
    Agreed. Not going to discuss that here.

  21. I think the book should’ve been deadlier, actually, and led to more immediate repercussions. The fact that the case had a tracking device was the perfect lure to get them to TOUCH THE BOOK… LOOK AT THE BOOK… LICK THE BOOK…

  22. Yeah, the bugged case was good.

    I think I’d do it as a road trip, say heist then drive to Houston for a flight with the clan monitoring them, DG hunting them and the ghoul talking to them.

  23. Just started listening. Wow, only 23 minutes in and Ross already mentioned Chloroform. You win a prize!

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