By Lynne Hardy, Call of Cthulhu associate editor and author of The Children of Fear: A 1920s Campaign Across Asia.
So, you’ve taken the plunge and got hold of a copy of The Children of Fear...
Firstly: thank you!
Secondly: it’s quite a hefty campaign, and if you’ve not tackled something this size before, you might be feeling a little bit daunted right now. Or you might not! Either way, the point of this five-part series is to take you through some steps to get yourself ready for diving into this whopping great adventure; steps that can also be applied to any other large campaign you plan to tackle with your players.
- Part One: "Is this campaign just for experienced Keepers" (answer: No)
First Things First
It may sound obvious, but read through the whole book to get a good idea of what’s going on before you try to run it. This campaign has quite a few moving parts, and having an idea of the overarching plot and major characters gives you a baseline from which to develop your game.
During this reading, I suggest having a notebook beside you (or whatever equipment you usually use to make notes) so that you can jot down key points, thoughts, and queries, along with any other notes you feel you need as you go.
As you’re reading through, questions to think about for your campaign:
Is your version of The Children of Fear going to be a classic game or a pulp one?
- Whichever rules set you choose, make sure you’re comfortable with it before you start running the game.
- Make a note of any special rules you might need so you can refer to them quickly when the time comes.
Is your version of The Children of Fear going to be firmly rooted in the Cthulhu Mythos, are you going for a more occult storyline, or is it going to involve a fairly even mix of both?
- If you are leaning heavily into the Mythos, who’s behind everything? (Keeper Considerations, page 15)
- Do you want to decide up front who that is, or would you rather wait and see what develops through play, taking into account your players’ ideas, likes, and dislikes?
What key pieces of background information do you need to know to help you run this campaign?
- Jotting down a few bullet point notes about the various factions and their history and motivations can be quite handy and you never know when you might want or need to refer to them.
What are the big set pieces that the players will take part in, or the important revelations they’ll discover?
- Make bullet point notes to help you remember key information about each one, but don’t go overboard on that just yet—for now, you’re still just interested in the overview, not the nitty-gritty. That comes later.
Are there any bits that don’t quite make sense to you?
- Is there some additional reading you could do to help you out with these?
- Has anyone posted anything about this on an online forum, like BRP Central?
Which bits really appeal to you, or that you know your players will get a real kick out of?
- Could you enhance them to really personalise your game?
Is there anything you’re not sure your players will enjoy?
- What do you need to do to fix that?
- If you don’t know, then make use of a Session Zero to find out.
Is there anything you feel less confident about running as it’s written?
- What changes could you make to help you feel more confident about using it?
Next: Session Zero and Tools for a Safe Gaming Table
Lynne Hardy's critically acclaimed magnum opus has been described as "another campaign you are going to want... Loaded with hand-outs, pre-generated characters, new monsters, new spells, and a ton of resources, The Children of Fear is more evidence that Chaosium has cracked the code on how to make a massive, sprawling campaign accessible."— Andrew Logan Montgomery.