RPGs that time forgot... Strange Aeons

Strange Aeons
Tag line: Three Unusual Times & Places
Makers: Chaosium Inc. for the Call of Cthulhu RPG

What is it?
A collection of three adventures for CoC that take place outside the usual, well-developped eras (1880s, 1920s and present day). "Garden of Earthly Delights" makes the players take on the role of Inquisitors in 1597 Spain. "Blood Moon" takes place on our lone satellite in the early 21st century. And "King of Shreds and Patches" centers around the world of playrights in Elizabethan London.

Neat stuff
-Inquisitors? Great idea!
-"Blood Moon" ends with the surviving PCs being doomed after all. I love stuff like that. It's a one-shot, after all.

-As a Shakespeare nut, I of course enjoyed his appearance in the third scenario, as well as all the quotes from contemporary writers peppering the text. "King of Shreds and Patches" also includes some interesting filler for anyone wanting to extend their CoC stay in Elizabethan times.

Bad stuff
-"Garden of Earthly Delights" is so full of red herrings and vague clues that the PCs have to be railroaded entirely too much. They're not very central to the plot of "Blood Moon" either.
-"Blood Moon" is supposedly set in 2015, but the technology, both on Earth and on the moon is much too advanced. Easily remedied, but it's still a flaw.
-Some 15 pages of wasted space to re-present all handouts. In the age of scanners and photocopiers, there's just no way I would ever cut up a book, so these are useless repetition.

"Numerous houses have already been boarded up; people have again taken to slaughtering stray dogs, wearing too-strong perfumes, and applying arsenic under the armpits."

How I've used it
We played Dream Park for years, so one-shots in strange and unusual places/times were the order of the day. That's why I bought Strange Aeons. In DP, I had a number of GameMasters (all played by me), so I could fool around with which one had which style, attitude, interests. The meanest bastard of these was Stéphane Raymond, totally based on a guy I knew (they all were), and at some point, I decided it would be fun if he would become obsessed with Lovecraft. That way, I could run many Call of Cthulhu scenarios under his aegis before I made Dream Park slap him on the wrist to the resounding cheers of the players.

And I used all three scenarios too! King of Shreds and Patches was the most successful, especially since the too-epic-for-Coc ending really didn't hamper anything in DP. Hey, this one won Best Scenario at our annual Nivens (fictional awards we gave out to "players" and "GMs" in our game world), running against 15 other adventures we ran that year. Blood Moon was well liked too, but Garden had either too much railroading or not enough direction and was a source of frustration for me and the players alike.

In conclusion
One-shots work in some games and take a lot of work to adapt in others, that's a given. But overall, while there are weaknesses, I think all of these have some merit. It's the Shakespearean story that's the real winner though, with a real sense of place and time. I've never been able to really get a Call of Cthulhu game off the ground, but I might use stuff like this as some flashback as a character reads some forgotten text, or a flashforward to see what happens after "Blood Moon"'s antagonist is trapped (changing details to fit the campaign).


Anonymous said...

Kings of Shreds and Patches was not only my favorite game that year, but was also one of my favorite of all time in all those one-shot scenarios we've played. (and God...there must be quite a lot by now!)

I think mostly, the contribuing factor was that it was the first time we ever played a game where investigation was a key factor. We had a lot of fun figuring out those clues.

My ending was a bit dissapointing (I got eaten by a huge Cthulu-like demon) but overall it was a great time.

Brandon Bragg said...

I don't know why I haven't asked you this before, but are you the Siskoid of "Siskoids famous DC Heroes character site"

Siskoid said...

I wasn't aware that piece of the site was "famous", but yes.

Maybe famouser is daily STCCG column over on Decipher's site, Siskoid's Rolodex, which lasted 6 or 7 years.

www.siskoid.com will tell you everything you need to know. The DCH link is there. If it matches what you remember, then yeah, that's me!


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