Trail of Cthulhu: Masks of Nyarlathotep – Shanghai – episode 19

shanghai-2Shanghai is heating up! Riots, disasters at the harbor, and kidnapped friends are only the start of the team’s problems. Investigating the order of the Bloated Woman and its nefarious leader, Ho Fung, will be no easy task. Even occult investigation methods such as the Dreamlands may prove more dangerous than ever before. The end is drawing near though. Only one more cultist stronghold to raid…

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  1. Sean “Aaroned” Aaron. That was fantastic. @Ross How long have you been planning and hoping Sean would walk into that trap.

    Best mythos trap ever.

  2. I’m really gonna be sad when this ends. This group is so dynamic and entertaining.

  3. Sean’s on-air presence has changed so much since the beginning. I wonder if the escalation in goofiness is in part a consequence of the character-changing nature of the campaign. it was one of the things that bugged me about Sense, that the characters who died then had to be replaced with new ones even as late as the last few sessions, which just by dint of not having the weight of history meant they couldn’t have as much personality. it’s super lucky Amry and Cleary made it through Sense, and similarly lucky Margot and, er, the Chinese lady have made it through Masks, because without them there’d be very little sense of PC continuity.

  4. I agree with all of comments #1-3, basically: I’ve enjoyed listening to this for the fun & laughs & character moments, but it is a very silly campaign. It’s hard to remember that the game/setting is even nominally about “horror”… it’s all so Benny Hill-Indiana Jones-Dr. Who.

    I realized the RPPR Actual Play episodes I re-listen to most often* are almost all older ones — “Night Clerk”, “Arcadia Signal”, “Prototype”, “Bryson Springs”, etc. — where there was a lot more focus on atmosphere, investigation/mystery, and dread/helplessness, rather than hijinks and tradecraft.

    (* But far from exclusively!)

  5. Author

    We discuss the campaign’s tone in the post-mortem which was recorded last year. I don’t think Masks is that scary as a campaign – there’s a lot of monsters and cultists, but the campaign is presented as a series of investigations leading to dungeon crawls, all in a very pulp/Indiana Jones atmosphere. When the players can recruit a Yithian ally, wield lightning guns and assorted magical artifacts, help Bast, and face non-Lovecraftian monsters like normal werewolves and a Chinese demon cat, you lose the horror.

  6. I’m looking forward to the post mortem — those are always great to hear! I agree, expecting ANYONE to turn a horrible turkey like Masks into a horror-themed experience would be unfair and foolish of me.

    Disagree about the demon cat though. That’s always been the high point of dread and fear and confusion in the entire campaign, in my (admittedly limited) play experience. Or at least, the miserably freaked-out dude waiting for the demon cat to arrive… really, the demon cat itself can be skipped.

    Anyway, don’t get me wrong, I’ve really enjoyed following this campaign, and hope the same gang is around for more adventures. It’s just that I think it’s going to have much less re-listening value than other & mostly older episodes, only due to my personal tastes.

  7. I think my favourite part/s were when Ross’ brother walked in.

  8. The greatest mystery of the whole campaign: WHAT IS ROSS’S BROTHER’S JOB??

    The world may never know.

  9. I’ve often wondered how Ross can support himself as a writer, since he’s only had 2-3 mainstream books published (and a bunch of gaming stuff, which is for a notoriously small niche market). Now that we know his brother sells coke for a living and needs someone to launder his money, it all makes sense.

  10. It’s not just Masks, I don’t think. It has often been opined that horror fiction works best in the short form, and I think the same goes for horror roleplaying – it’s difficult to sustain the fear over an entire campaign. If characters are so easily replaced (and they kind of have to be), their fate matters so much less. You also become inured to the weird and horrific by dint of sheer repetition (even if the manifestations take different forms) and of course it’s tough to keep things mysterious and unknowable across 20-odd sessions.

    It doesn’t help that Masks gets so pulpy and has been mercilessly mined for other Lovecraftiana over the years, granted.

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