Memories of the Orient Express, Part 3: Why did Constantinople get the works?

Where last we left things (in my 1994-5 run-through of Horror on the Orient Express), my players had arrived in Constantinople, having recovered the whole of the Sedefkar Simulacrum from the Fenalik and the Brotherhood of the Skin.

A couple things about my players time in the City of the Sublime Porte {Beware, loads of SPOILERS yonder.}

  • I wish I had known more about Constantinople; I had the basic information presented in the campaign supplemented by a little bit of (Encyclopedia Britannica) outside reading, but having learned a lot more about the city in the decades since, I am confident I failed to fully capture the unique qualities of the city.  [Full disclosure: for unrelated reasons… probably… as part of my graduate school research I ended up doing a great deal of reading about Italian mercantile interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea during the Middle Ages, including Constantinople.]
  • I really disliked the whole Mehmet-as-Hakim (that was his name, yes?) plot.  There was a lot of mustache twirling going on during the campaign, wasn’t there?  Were I to do it again, I’d definitely cut that bit out.  While the cistern scene was interesting, most of the set-pieces, like the graveyard sequence and Beylab the Perspirer were far too scripted for my taste.  The ideas were good but the execution frustrated my players since they quickly sniffed out the fact that the campaign was leading them around by their collective noses.  Beylab in particular was so clearly a trap, down to the gigantic speech I had to read, that some of my players interrupted him to make a break for the door.  Hopefully that fight will be more Eastern Promises than Blue Brothers in the second edition.
  • The mandatory capture and escape sequence from the Red Mosque again proved a frustration to my players.  They had little to do but wait through a series of scripted scenes and gloating monologues.  Let me just add that very few of my players were surprised that Dr. Smith wasn’t quite himself.  The climactic conflict went a little better and seeing the Simulacrum in action was thrilling.

Next time- Back to London


Blog recommendations

I’m still working on a draft of my next installment of “Memories of the Orient Express”, but in the mean time I thought I might suggest two other blogs to check out whilst I’m otherwise engaged.

Top of my list is Adam Gauntlett’s Ephemera.  Adam’s written for Call of Cthulhu (“Spare the Rod” and “See No Evil“) as well as for Trail of Cthulhu (“Not So Quiet“, “Flying Coffins“) but he is perhaps best known for his book reviews that appeared on the late lamented Yog Radio, “The Bookshelf“.  He’s well-read and offers a lot of great ideas, especially for for Trail of Cthulhu and Bookhounds of London.

I’ve talked about Dean Englehart’s Cthulhu Reborn (and especially his interview series “State of the Tentacle” interviews).  He is also put together loads of great free scenarios and an awesome program to create your own newspaper handouts.  His most recent post described his process in crafting newspaper articles and is a must read for those looking to make their own.


Golden Goblin Kickstarter, the House of R’lyeh, and more

Sadly this will be a housekeeping post rather than the next entry in my elderly rambling about Horror on the Orient Express, but I think there is enough to keep you interested…

First off, Golden Goblin Press have announced a Kickstarter for their first book Island of Ignorance.  Three scenarios and a whole bunch of articles are planned for the book.  I have also volunteered to be one of the six potential authors for a bonus scenario for the book (though I suspect one of the other six authors, including Stuart Boon and Jeffrey Moeller, will win).    The PDF only option is but $12 – you get a book at $30 (and a Golden Goblin Statue at $500).

Chaosium have just announced the release of The House of R’lyeh, with scenarios from Brian Sammons, David Conyers, and friend of Tomes in Progress Brian Courtemanche.

I’ve also finished updating my list of graveyards for Hampshire County… only six counties to go. 😉  I’m sure there was something else to mention, but I’m tired and it is late.  Until next time…

Stolen beasts, Misk. U. podcasts, and Necronomicon

That will teach me to post something.

More news:

  • There’s been a post on YSDC that someone been selling an art book using images stolen from Yog-Blogsoth, whose site I’ve mentioned previously.  There are few things worse that having someone steal your work, save perhaps having someone profit from your stolen work.  See here for more details.
  • There have been a few new podcast episodes so I’m sure I’ve missed a few… nevertheless the Miskatonic University Podcast gang have put out a few episodes this month that are worth a listen – April 1 & April 14 episodes.
  • I’ve been at work on the Arkham Gazette (and my submissions to the Unspeakable Oath… and another project…) and hope to have the demo issue done in a month or two.  If that is well received, I’ll try to have another issue ready by Necronomicon (August 22-25)…
  • Speaking of Necronomicon, I shall indeed be there (baring asteroid impact or ailing homunculus).  Hopefully they’ll have a schedule available before too long so that I might plan my adventures efficiently.  Anyone else going?


London teasers, gravestone news, etc.

A few odds and ends have been piling up here at Tomes in Progress central- lets clear out the inbox, shall we?

The London Boxed Set cover?

Stuart Boon at Cubicle 7 has been dropping ‘hints’ of a less-than-subtle nature that a kickstarter for the long-awaited London Boxed set is close at hand.  This is a mockup of the cover.  Awesome.

Time to start setting aside a few pence so I can afford whatever deluxe edition they offer.  A pre-bloodied tube map?  A pass for the reading room at the British Museum?  A genuine brass hackney medal?  The mind boggles and the wallet cowers in fear.

I’ve done a little research regarding the subject of the gravestone photo I posted recently.  I can’t wholly confirm it, but it seems likely that it was the footstone for one James Hayward, killed in a duel just after the Battle of Concord on April 19, 1775.  Oh, that little dust-up…  His remains were moved to Acton center and buried at the monument there.  Nifty.

I’ve also updated my RPG CV, updated the list of 2013 Lovecraftian RPGs, and added some entries to the Yog Wiki about privately published CoC books.  Next time, I hope to have more to say about my playthrough of Horror on the Orient Express.

Gravestone of the Day: James Hayward

Fate would have it that I had a moment to briefly visit a graveyard today (in Acton, MA) and in my quick survey of the yard, I spotted several interesting stones.  Here is the most interesting; since it lacks a date, I suspect it is a foot stone, but I could not locate a corresponding headstone – time was of the essence so I may just have missed it…  (Click for full version)

Woodlawn Cem. (1737), Acton MA

James Hayward stone

Kind words from the antipode

The flag of New Zealand

Sorry for the lack of updates; I’ve been busy with day-to-day tasks, a vacation, and writing (more on the latter later).

First off, Tomes in Progress was given a very kindly mention on Unbound Publishing’s blog, the site for news from Marcus Bone, creator of the Unbound Book and Monophobia.  I do wonder what it says about the Lovecraftian RPG community’s pulse can be monitored by a blog that usually updates only a once a week. 🙂  I suppose a low pulse beat no pulse?  If nothing else, I’ve added a link to Marcus’ blog to the main page.  Since Marcus was the first person to publish any of my RPG work (the scenario “Baggage Check”), you should definitely check his site out.

Secondly, I did have enough time to listen to the latest episode of the Miskatonic University podcast; another interesting discussion including a review of Atomic Age Cthulhu, using VOIP technology in games, and even the Unbegotten Source itself, Ubbo-Sathla.

Lastly I’ve been working on a trio of submissions to the Unspeakable Oath- short fiction (done), a modern cult (done, but I think I can make it stronger), and a mysterious tome (incomplete, probably won’t make the deadline).  It’s hard to know what they’ll think about the fiction, as that’s the most subjective type of submission.  I do think the modern cult piece will be well regarded; it was one of the more difficult pieces I’ve worked on in a while.  I have the core idea clearly in mind but articulating it in a useful way very difficult.  Sorry to be cryptic, but I don’t want to give the piece away.  It’s probably one of the creepier things I’ve worked up, I just worry I’ve lost some of the impact with my writing style, or a failure communicate well with the reader.