The Wrong, (kind of spoilers)

I am going to do a minor overview of the author’s free scenarios and this specific one in another review of a single scenario, and my second review of a free scenario. I am going to try to post several in short order when I do single scenarios that are released in a standalone format, so hope to follow this up in a few days with another.

Michael LaBossiere is a writer who was a very prolific author of scenarios, several of which are available for free online. While not all of his scenarios grabbed my tastes, they were, and remain, consistently interesting reads, and there is usually something worth mining out of them. He wrote some very interesting plots, and put some great twists in his scenarios.

Some of the directions his scenarios take do not work for me, and therefore some of the scenarios are unworkable from the ‘get go’. However, there is always a coherent backstory to the scenario, sometimes so well hidden that in some cases it is virtually impossible for the players to uncover all of it. When it is possible, the clues are present though sometimes left in limited locations (much like in many published scenarios, where this is a recurring problem that I have brought up in my keeper’s blog). This does, however, always give the Keeper a sense of the story behind the story that makes it easier to run, and as always, up to the keeper how much to let the players find out.

He did have two traits that I found a bit problematic, one in how things in some scenarios apply to campaign play, and the other made them read a bit on the repetitious side, though there is a reason behind it. (believe it or not I am closing in on the actual review of the specific scenario with this point, as the prior paragraph and these two traits lead into the scenario.)

The first of the two traits is that several scenarios have lead-ins where the party is given the understanding that they are performing some innocuous activity or possibly recuperating from injuries or sanity losses from prior adventures. While this can work for the player characters, they tend not to for the players, since scenarios being actively played out should lead into a threat. Role playing a vacation on a resort island of one kind or another, a health retreat, a relative’s house, etc. is not something I can see the party getting behind, unless they have the expectation that things will blow up on them in some manner (if you have a group that is willing to role play those recuperating periods to a level this can be a valid surprise, then you have a treasure trove among LaBossiere’s scenarios).

The second trait is the fact that he uses undead fairly often. This is not automatically a problem by any means, and he thinks it through with them. You almost never have an encounter that boils down to ‘you encounter a group of zombies’ or ‘animated skeletons attack the group’, even though that is what tends to happen. The creatures are created as variants, there is a story behind them that is part of the story, there is a reason for them to be there, and how they formed. They are almost never just ‘stat block monsters’ and the mechanics behind them always make sense. But when you read multiple scenarios, there is a feeling of hitting familiar territory when you see another type of undead coming out of the shadows. This is more an issue when reading multiple scenarios of his however. Granted, one should try to keep an idea on how they are presented in play too, to keep the same feeling from showing up.

And now, on to the scenario itself. The Wrong, by Michael LaBossiere.

This scenario is set in Maine (a frequent setting of his), the party going to a well-earned vacation on an island in a lake, a rustic vacation spot that happens to have a hidden…and forgotten..history.

An illegal toxic dump site, the island was bought and converted into a vacation site. An accidental death, the body interacts with the chemicals, and a unique undead creature rises at about the time the scenario starts, with an appetite for carnage. So far, a fairly normal scenario conceptually.

After a few days of relatively peaceful interaction with other vacationers, one of the families in another cabin are attacked by the mysterious creature, with one traumatized survivor. An ambiguity as to what has caused the problem leaves the investigators looking into the matter in their isolated environment, Ironically, it may be possible to have suspicions fall on the humans present rather than start looking for a monstrous element, which in Call of Cthulhu is an interesting twist. We are not, however, dealing with a sinister cult, with an alien advanced intelligence, but we are dealing with a nearly mindless monster lashing out in a strange rage, attacking from surprise and returning to its lair.

And then the twist.

As things are investigated, and the investigators begin to try to sort out what’s going on, a couple of developments complicate matters. First, one family grows panicky and in their growing need to get away from the situation may resort to some level of violence to forcibly take to any means to escape the island they can get to, even at the expense of the others. And then, another complication when another of the island’s temporary residents decides to strand as many people as possible on the island including a party he hopes will die at the hands of the monster.

The monster itself is a nasty piece of work and a good challenge for an armed party let alone a party on a vacation without armaments.

The module also brings up the possibility that in the aftermath of this scenario, the party may have garnered unwanted publicity as survivors of the incident, and mentions the repercussions.

Another trait of LaBossiere’s scenarios is that he is always good with the support documentation. Unlike many games, there is not a high need for maps in scenarios with Call of Cthulhu, but they do prove handy at times. His scenarios always include any maps that should be needed, perhaps not deeply detailed battle mats but adequate for anything you need as a starting point.

When I first read this scenario, I have to admit I ‘under-read’ it because I was reading several of his scenarios in a row and saw another humanoid monster, an undead and I just skimmed it. Coming back and rereading it later left me with the lasting impression I’ve grown to have for it, and I really like it. It’s strong and while the mystery may remain largely unsolved, the creature is a reasonable threat and a good story with its complications from the reactions of the npcs in the situation.

This scenario can be found in the files downloads at yog-sothoth.com, along with most of his other free scenarios. (I will be coming back to others of his along with the free scenarios reviewed down the road.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s