Episode 25 - Writing Scenarios with the Good Friends

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Post Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:35 pm

Episode 25 - Writing Scenarios with the Good Friends

I've been re-listening to certain of the Friends' back catalog, and wanted to thank you for the discussion of the process and methods process of writing horror scenarios!

Understanding the varying levels of polish required for the target audience has helped me push through a creative block. The problem scenario revolves around an historical figure, and my paranoia levels escalate any time I consider sitting at the table with potential history geeks!

A question comes to mind that the Friends (or any other published scenario writer attending our august forums) might be able to give feedback on; If you create a scenario featuring an actual person subject to Mythos-tainted events, would you feel a disclaimer up front would be appropriate? Something to calm the nerves of the potential one-in-a-thousand gamer-geeks who end up at my convention table and know something about the person?

Thanks again for the podcast, time, and attention --
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Post Tue Feb 09, 2016 2:44 pm

Re: Episode 25 - Writing Scenarios with the Good Friends

As ever I guess the answer may vary depending on the specifics. In general I'd say don't be overly concerned. The mythos (hold on to your hats) isn't real, so we're making up stories here. While we're at it, we can make up other stuff about real world people and events. Maybe in your game William S Burroughs is the new messiah, Donald Trump is a Serpent Man and David Cameron is a thoroughly decent human being :)

If I were writing for publication then yes, I might put in a statement for the reader to make clear what is fact and what is fiction. I like how mixing fact with fiction makes the story feel more real, but I also like to know (as a reader) what the author has fabricated and what really happened.

Lastly, if a player does throw in some details about the individual, I'd either take them and run with them, or state that in this story that's simply not the case. History and biographies are not always reliable after all!

That's my take on it. I wonder what you had in mind? I think a specific example here might help.
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Post Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:13 pm

Re: Episode 25 - Writing Scenarios with the Good Friends

What, if anything, do you all do to make sure that a con scenario fits within the allotted time?
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Post Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:21 am

Re: Episode 25 - Writing Scenarios with the Good Friends

Tore wrote:What, if anything, do you all do to make sure that a con scenario fits within the allotted time?

Try to ensure that the scenario is narrowly focused, without lots of potential sidetracks. The natural set up is to have the PCs confined in someway, such as in the middle of nowhere (there's no place else to go) or on a boat, and so on. This means the action is very focused to the locale and PCs won't be running off on wild leads or red herrings, or trying to call in help.

Of course, you can have the scenario take place in a city, but again the narrative and plot should be narrow - if a player decides for no valid reason to drive off to the library on the other side of town, you can let them and just time jump accordingly.

Designing PCs specific to the scenario is often essential - this helps you to narrow their focus. It also explains why they are together and why they alone must deal with the plot. You can build in connections between the PCs to strengthen their motivations. All of this helps keep the focus narrow and centred on the plot.

If you can, play test before the convention - see how long it runs. If it runs long, consider what the players did and why they did it - then cut out the bits that sprawl away from the central plot.

Use events to move things along - have predetermined events that can happen when you need them to happen (the cultists burst in, the shoggoth appears, an NPC contacts the PCs with a clue, etc) - this allows you to drive the story along without waiting for the players. This also means you can begin the climax when you need to be finishing things off.

There's no one simple answer I'm afraid. The more games you write and run for conventions, the better you will get at anticipating timings and the flow of the game.
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Post Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:53 pm

Re: Episode 25 - Writing Scenarios with the Good Friends

Paul Fricker wrote:That's my take on it. I wonder what you had in mind? I think a specific example here might help.

Sorry for taking so long to respond to this; I've been moving house.

My scenario involves Allied agents in WW2 heading into the Dreamlands to rescue (or recover, or destroy if they need to) a specific Intelligence asset that have been abducted and sold into slavery to the Moon Beast by Axis agents in trade for magic and resources. Each abductee is a Dreamer, touched by that ineffable draw to the Lands Beyond, or otherwise clued into the Mythos.

These trades have been going on for a while, but only now have the powers that be decided to do something about it. Why? Because one of the latest abductees turns out to be Alan Turing.

For this scenario, I'm saying his focus on the blending of mathematics and nature as well as his thoughtfulness has brought him to the attention of Nodens. I don't mean to imply his genius is due to his contact with this entity, but rather that his genius was something "hoary Nodens" noticed and began sending Dreams to.

...and that is what prompted me to ask my original question.

Turing's accomplishments are his own, and I don't want to imply otherwise. However I'd like the players to feel the weight of the situation when, as a team of Spec Ops types, they're given orders to "retrieve or destroy" an asset that the Nazis don't know the value of. Helps to paint shades of the Coventry Blitz over the game, and the players will have to make the hard decisions about what to do.

If this were to be published, I would feel the need to put something in the text to point out these subtleties.

Thanks for any feedback -
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Post Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:15 pm

Re: Episode 25 - Writing Scenarios with the Good Friends

One trick I use sometimes is creating analogues of historical figures. By using a character who has the elements of the real person that make him or her useful to the scenario, you can make any changes you want without worrying about historical accuracy. It might also help with the players' suspension of disbelief if the character is killed, or revealed to be some eldritch monstrosity wearing a human face.

The downside is that it may take away some of the impact of having the player characters meet a real historical figure. Rescuing Alan Turing is going to be more exciting than saving Bob Jones the codebreaker.

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