A Garden Party & The Running of the Great Race
You know Julian Gatsby. He recently inherited the family home following the sad demise of his father. Julian is a free-spirited young man, in his mid-20s, and a new fan of the horse races. You arrive for a fabulous garden party and are shown to your room. Other guests arrive shortly after. In a few hours you will gather in the garden for an enjoyable afternoon of food, drink, stimulating conversation, and the radio broadcast of the Great Race.
This scenario has the capacity for up to 32 people to be involved, playing in several overlapping games. On the surface this scenario is in the traditional Call of Cthulhu mold, based at a country house in the late 1920s. It can be run as a single game with one keeper and up to six players, in the usual manner, but what sets it apart is that it is designed to be run as two or more parallel games. To date it has been run successfully with four simultaneous games, using a total of seven keepers and twenty-four players. Whichever option you go for, the basic game concept remains the same: Julian Gatsby has meddled in matters that he should not have, leaving the players and himself to experience strange and mysterious events -- until the players find a solution.
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By Paul Fricker. 120 pages. 8.5 x 11" downloadable watermarked PDF book with cover images, created from electronic production files.
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Minor spoilers ahead.
Gatsby and the great race is built around a multiparty gimmick, while you could play it with only one group and advice for doing so is provided, the experience would be mediocre at best. To make best use of it you will need two or three parties, each with their own game master.
This is very much a people sitting in a room type of adventure. Quests arrive at the titular Gatsbys manor, have some time to socialize and then weird stuff starts happening. Without spoiling too much, the weird events are tightly linked to the multiparty setup and the PC must learn how to use the multiparty mechanics in order to "solve" the adventure. It's unique and exciting.
The multiparty mechanics themselves are described in exhaustive detail, including exact instructions for the game masters. You will have to vary them based on your available venue, still it was nice to see the author sharing their own experience from running the game.
This game doesn't really make use of the Call of Cthulhu rules, checks aren't called for and dice will rarely roll. Gatsby is easily adaptable to any RPG system. Most of it is going to be people talking in a room so you could just as well turn it into a live action event.
Sadly the module starts falling apart in the later half. At 120 pages I was quite surprised to find that it's missing a chapter. There is no ending. The module literally describes the culminating events as "and then bad stuff happens, Keepers make up your own". After providing detailed instructions for the early and middle portions it just hand waves the ending. You can't run this as written, you will have to come up with a culmination yourself. A real let down.
There are pre-written characters for each group, each character on their own page for easy printing (that's where the huge page count comes from). Ideally you could just hand them out to your players. Sadly the quality of the characters does not hold up. There is a small bit of intrigue written into them, but not enough to fill any substantial time. Much of the info on the character sheets isn't really actionable, for example you might have the sentence "name - is an attractive woman" this opinion is not going to create much action at the game. Your players will run out of stuff to talk about in around half an hour.
Gatsby and the Great Race isn't ready to just print and play, but the great ideas at it's core can make for a great experience if you but in the work.
We played this as a cocktail party, it get very messy. The scenario is easily adaptable to some LARPable modifications - playing the soundtrack to The Sting on loop, having a 30 piece skull jigsaw scattered about as a spell prop, taking bets on the horse race, a Yithian mind swap. Highly recommend!
I played Gatsby & the Great Race, orchestrated by Cory Welch, Jennifer Martin and several other great keepers at Gen Con X. The players universally enjoyed it - due to the twists and turns, and the narrative-rich pre-generated characters. Highly recommend