Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Hils Rise Wild - some impressions

Last Saturday we played The Hills Rise Wild for Call of Cthulhu. Now after the fact I'm wondering why I decided to play that scenario? Let me put it this way.

In the scenario, the text describes how the players are introduced to the events and then sketches out a trip into the wilderness and then on day three, it say "this is when the scenario start for real" (paraphrased). There's a problem there.

As written, this assumes that it takes two days to travel to where the scenario start. When we ran it my players checked the capabilities of their car and we looked at the maps of New England I had printed out. It turned out the actual travel time, unless you stop and ask the locals every mile, is one hour. Have I missed something, or have the author only assumed that the investigators stop every mile? Nothing in the background and the introduction suggest that. I guess you could me a sloppy Keeper, but this was something I did not foresee.

I'm going to suggest something.

When you write a scenario which needs a trek through the wilderness, you need a map and a preferably hex grid on it. Discrete units of travel, like hexes, makes it possible to easily measure how far you get in a certain time. Also, if there are to be things happening while travelling, make a list of encounters and/or a random list.

Nothing really broke down, but if the author had intended the scenario to be a slowly building event, there should be in the adventure and not glossed over. I thought the stuff that was in there, but when actually trying to run it I improvised most of it.

Now, why didn't I see this coming? Maybe it takes some training to see what is a good scenario and I think that this kind of scenario, wilderness hex crawl for lack of a better word, is not something I'm very comfortable with.


  1. "It turned out the actual travel time, unless you stop and ask the locals every mile, is one hour."

    It's important to remember that, in the early 20's, the local roadways didn't necessarily support the capabilities of the vehicles that traveled upon them. Although paved roads were becoming more prevalent, most rural roads - especially the earlier in the 20's the scenario is set - would have looked something like this:


    Or worse, especially in the New England countryside.

    Given that the Lovecraft country map I have shows Dunwich to be about 50 miles (as the crow flies) west of Arkham, it's not unreasonable to expect that a drive from Arkham to Dean's Corners along the Aylesbury Pike could normally take a couple of hours. (Maybe more, if the weather is or has recently been bad.) After that, the road to and around Dunwich could be assumed to be significantly worse; that shunned hamlet gets little traffic, after all. (The scenario states that "the road transforms into a pair of deep ruts, which must be traveled slowly.")

    Add this to the fact that investigators are assumed to be stopping frequently in the area to question the locals, I could easily see a full 8- to 10-hour day being spent: reaching the area of Dunwich, traveling the harsh, strange local roads, and stopping at least a half-dozen times to converse with the locals.

    I don't find "The First Day" section to be at all unreasonable, as far as a timeline is concerned.

  2. BTW, I know firsthand what driving 20's roads can be like. Around where I grew up, we had many rural roads that were never upgraded. They're called "seasonal roads," but they're just regular (for the time) roads that never got paved. Even in a modern car, one wouldn't normally dream of going more than 30 mph or so on them. (And 20mph is far safer and more reasonable.) I could only imagine what driving them would be like in a 20's car, without today's advances in suspension, steering, etc...

    1. Many thanks for that feedback!

      Frankly I did not know much at all about car capabilities not about road qualities. I'll make a much better job as Keeper of my next rural CoC game, thanks to your comments. Much appreciated.

      I do think it was not a very well written scenario, though. When setting a scenario in the twenties, it doesn't exactly hurt to make sure the potential Keeper knows stuff like you posted above. Maybe more scenarios should contain some suggestions for how experiences a Keeper you should be to run it.

      Making a good scenario for CoC isn't simple. I have seen some go far in the other direction as well, being reenactment and not any horror.


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