Author: Jim Phillips
Cover and Interior Art: Tobias White
Page Count: 21
Available Formats: PDF
PDF (DTRPG) – $Free
I recently ran this scenario at one of my local game stores for five players, all with different gaming backgrounds and exposure to Call of Cthulhu. The review that follows is both a review and a summation of the game I ran.
WARNING: Spoilers Below
In this modern-day scenario, the player characters are attending a convention for their favorite weird fiction author Harrison Paul Likenstuff. The investigators are on the final night of the convention at the hosting hotel, a large business hotel in a light-industrial district not far from O’Hare International airport in Chicago. The investigators have enjoyed several days of seminars, readings, and other Harrison Paul Likenstuff themed events. The grand finale of the convention is a fan-produced film based off of one of Likenstuff’s stories named “Legs”. It is the biggest event for the whole convention and each of the players are eager to see if it lives up to the hype.
Let me be clear, this is a survival game through and through with just a touch of an investigation, if your players are so inclined to bother.
SO, WHAT’S GOING ON?
The game begins with the investigators taking their seats for the viewing of the most anticipated film of the convention, Legs. The film will leave the investigators feeling a little uneasy as if they just watched a cheap snuff film. The film is what sets the rest of the scenario into motion. Two key NPCs leave the film showing and begin a ritual that transports the hotel to the Plain of Leng and that’s where the trouble begins for the investigators. Whether it be the small spider bites or the blood-curdling scream of a woman coming from the next door suite, the players are doomed from the beginning. It’s likely all the investigators will be bitten at some point near the beginning of the game. I had one lucky player who made every dam roll and was never infected as a host for baby Spiders of Leng. Those that get infected will see the gestation of the spider progress until it bursts forth. Unknowingly, the Investigators are fighting a losing battle against the clock as they try to escape the hotel, spiders are growing within the ever-growing boil on their body, larger spiders that have already hatched and quickly grew are thwarting their downward progress as they attempt to escape the hotel, and a few other programmed encounters with other con-goers will leave a lasting impression on the players and their decision making. Here’s the catch, an investigator can only survive by making it out of the hotel. Sounds easy, right? Think again! On the tenth floor are several artifacts called ‘Dreaming Stones” and if they are not found when an investigator leaves the hotel without a stone, they will be unable to re-enter the hotel and will find themselves on the Plain of Leng and will ultimately be consumed by the spiders. The secret to survival is these stones. The spiders will avoid any player with a stone and the stone allows the investigator who possesses it to safely return to the real world and escape the hotel. Those that escape, will find themselves in the parking lot of the Winding Hotel on Sunday morning with lots of emergency services personnel swarming all around them. Looking back at the hotel, investigators will see only an empty space where the hotel previously stood.
Is there a catch? I’m glad you asked! Yes, there are only enough stones for half (rounded up) of the investigators. Should any investigator die or be taken away by a spider (which is a real possibility) another investigator can claim his/her stone if they’re fortunate enough and figure out the secret of the stones.
WHAT DID MY PLAYERS DO?
A little coercing at the start to get them to into the room where the blood-curdling scream came from paid dividends. In this room, after some light vomiting from seeing the twisted corpse, they were able to locate three stones and a video camera which recorded the ritual that had transported the hotel and all its occupants to the Plain of Leng. If the corpse wasn’t bad enough, most had already been bitten by tiny spiders and their welts began to grow. They then began barreling down the fire escape with a fire ax and fire extinguish in hand. They were ready for anything or so they thought. The stairs proved to a pretty safe path to follow. Save for the occasional spider who, along with the investigators, had horrible rolls! My players quickly grasped the situation and suspected the stones were useful in protecting them from the spiders. Arriving at the first floor via the stairwell they were presented with two options. Options 1 – they could enter the atrium of the hotel and make a run for the main entrance (contending with the spiders and their spider God). Option 2 – if they could muscle their way out the locked service door under the stairs and escape the confines of the hotel. My group opted for the second option and was able to successfully bash open the service door and rushed headlong outside, completely missing the culminating scene in the atrium. The game ended with three players returning the real world and two being consumed on the Plain of Leng. There were lots of opportunities for sanity loss and players happily accepted their losses. In fact, several had both temporary and permanent effects of sanity loss.
WHO SHOULD GET THIS SCENARIO?
Is this scenario for everyone? Sure, so long as you like survival games with a potentially high death rate. There is no replayability once played (for players) because players will know the secrets to surviving, but it would be a great option in particular environments. This scenario is designed to be short, as such it’s perfect for conventions or one-shots at local stores where replayability is not a consideration. The long and the short of it is, go get this fun scenario, it’s free! You have nothing to lose but the lives and sanity of your players.
As a whole package, this is a really well-written scenario. The accompanying artwork is well done, some of which can be seen in the image above. The way in which it was written lent itself to an easy reading experience and I was able to read it once, make my notes, and run it successfully.
WHAT I WOULD CHANGE
There are just a couple very minor things I would change or update. First, since the investigator’s suite and the suite of Randy Padilla and Lauren Richards are adjacent to each other, it would, in my opinion, be cool if there was a locked connecting door between the suites. Randy could fumble with the lock and pound on the door in an attempt to escape before he runs from the suite. Second, I would love to see all of the small images within the PDF compiled into a single page at the end of the PDF. This would facilitate easy printing and give Keepers the ability to pass out the images for the benefit of the players.
This is Jim’s first and only published scenario, though he has authored several others that have not been released for publication. Thankfully, Jim has recorded several test plays of these unpublished scenarios for us to listen to. The can be found at Skype of Cthulhu website. Stephen (DadsAngry) compiled a list of Jim’s unpublished scenarios that are available to listen to. A test play of Legs is also available but it does differ ever so slightly from the published PDF.
Test play recordings of unpublished scenarios by Jim Philips
Big Sky Country – 2013
Body of Work – 2011
Power Corrupts – 2013
Slaves to the Cause – 2011
The Happiness of Happi Valli – 2014
We Dream of Flying – 2018
Winter’s Bite – 2016
Special note to Jim Phillips: Please consider publishing some of the other scenarios you have written for Skype of Cthulhu. I’m pretty confident that if they are written as well as this scenario or better, they will be very well received by the Call of Cthulhu community.