I have been running some Trail of Cthulhu for my monday night game group this yeari and wrapped up a short series of scenarios from Shadows over Filmland this week.
I chose to run the Filmland material for two reasons: It sits comfortably in the middle of the pulp and purist spectrum, and the mashup of silver screen horror standards with Cthulhu Mythos provides tropes and setting that is familiar to everyone while not feeling rote. Were I to run Trail for a group new to Cthulhu (or horror) RPGs, I would consider the Filmland material again. One caveat: Many of the scenarios actively mess with player characters – one character becomes a yog-sothian werewolf for instance. Luckily my group was ok with that.
Of the twelve scenarios, we played three:
- Death Across The Nile
- Dr. Grave Dust
- Under a Werewolf Moon
Death Across The Nile (mummies out of time!) was the most enjoyable for me as keeper. This surprised me; when I initially read through the scenarios a couple of years ago, I thought it read quite linear and flat. In practise it has flexible set pieces that help build a compelling ebb and flow throughout the scenario and foreshadows the climax nicely.
Dr. Grave Dust on the other hand disappointed me. The players skipped the red herring and thus a mid scenario scuffle (which would have broken things up nicely), and then I flubbed the laboratory scene. Luckily, as with music, if you start on the right note and end on the right note, it doesn't matter what you do in between, and the climax to the scenario is great.
I don't have much to say about Under a Werewolf Moon; it played out as expected. The final scene wrapped up our game nicely, with the werewolf character blowing up himself, and his sourcerous father, while the remaining player character and some NPCs made their escape.
There are still a few more scenarios in the book I would like to run, but for now I would rather try either a different flavour of Trail (The Black Drop or Bookhounds perhaps) or a different GUMSHOE game such as Night's Black Agents.
- Previously: The Dying of St Margaret's