Pop Goes the Weasel
Author: Chris Stewart
Publisher: Chaosium [Miskatonic Repository]
Page Count: 25
Available Formats: PDF
PDF (DTRPG) – $2.00
It’s 1978, the Personal Computing Age is in its infancy, and the Miskatonic University is poised to take center stage. Arthur Fael, a computing genius, has recently defected from MIT to the Miskatonic. With him, he’s brought his potentially industry-changing computer architecture—”Weasel,” putting Investigators in the middle of a mind-shattering race to stop an ancient power converging with modern technology.
Note: Chris Stewart provided Rolling Boxcars with a review copy for this article. If you have an item you’d like Rolling Boxcars to review, please visit our Product Review Request page.
Pop Goes the Weasel is a quick, mild-mannered scenario for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition designed for two to five players; suitable for players of all ages. It is investigation-heavy, with little or no combat depending on character actions. As the 1970s rapidly come to a close, the Miskatonic University computer science department is on the cutting edge of a technological breakthrough with Arthur Fael’s “Weasel.” Weasel is a highly advanced computing architecture, which operates at a level that is years ahead of its time. It’s small, quiet, and fast. Designer Arthur Fael has also devised a way to interconnect various computer systems together to harness their computing power. Specifically with the “big three” (Apple ][, TRS-80, and Commodore PET) and the Big Iron mainframe.
Behind the scenes, something or someone is subverting Arthur Fael’s architecture to perform a summoning rite previously thought impossible. As the rite edges towards completion, strange manifestations intensify around the project. The investigators must stop the rite before it spreads.
The investigators’ involvement comes from one of the five Hooks; most likely, they will be university students or staff/lecturers invited to preview this new technology. Regardless of the Hook used, investigators will get a firsthand demonstration of Weasel’s computing capabilities. The seemingly innocuous demonstration is merely the beginning. The investigators’ involvement quickly escalates as a series of strange events unfold; each hinting at worsening things to come. As the investigators’ involvement escalates, their Sanity dwindles. They will need to outsmart the ancient evil that grows in power to save not only themselves, but the world to prevent the dawning of New Age.
Pop Goes the Weasel takes place exclusively at the Miskatonic University—the School of Sciences building and the Miskatonic University Library—maps of each are provided. Keepers who own the supplement Miskatonic University may flesh out the university further, but it is not required to play this scenario.
This investigation- and Sanity loss-heavy scenario is well designed and clearly presented.
- The overall layout is easy to read and presents the necessary information logically.
- The scenario is presented in three acts and holds tightly to that structure.
- “GM Checkpoints” ensure all necessary beats are hit to progress the story.
- Relationships between important non-player characters are well established.
- The artwork, maps, and color palette choices are reminiscent of the 80s rather than the 70s, with the maps reminding me of the movie TRON. Nonetheless, it still reinforces the technological theme of the scenario.
- Six pre-generated characters are provided—three students and three faculty members.
- Handouts and maps are also provided as a separate PDF.
There are a few concerns worth noting; however, none of them are deal-breakers.
- The scenario needs to be proofread—there are quite a few grammatical errors, missing words, and editing artifacts that can make reading difficult at times.
- The School of Sciences building map has two rooms misnumbered. Specifically, rooms numbered 3 and 4 need to be swapped on all maps to align with the descriptions in the body copy.
- The connection to the Mythos is weak at best, though it works in the grand scheme of the scenario’s premise.
- Given the central theme of the scenario, it’s not widely adaptable to other periods. However, it could be adapted to the 30s and 40s—Pulp Era—the dawn of electronics and computing.
Pop Goes the Weasel takes place in a time period not often covered in other scenarios and is a nice addition to the Miskatonic Repository lineup. It provides a different gaming experience that seems well suited for players of all ages while retaining all the hallmarks of a Call of Cthulhu scenario. If you’re interested in the early days of personal computing or perhaps looking for an interesting way to launch a Delta Green campaign, Pop Goes the Weasel is one to check out.
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