Trail of Cthulhu Actual Play thread

I am starting this thread as a repository for actual play summaries of Trail of Cthulhu.  I’ll begin!  I played in Adam Gauntlett’s Sisters of Sorrow adventure at Philly Games Con.  The GM was John Potts and he ran a fun game!  We only had two players, so I was the Chief Engineer and the other player, Neil, played the Executive Officer.  The adventure is set aboard a First World War German submarine, and the adventure involves things getting progressively weirder aboard the boat due to strange noises and weird visions.  We’re able to discount these things as tricks played by the more experienced crew on new submariners—sort of like initiation rituals.  Our encounter with a derelict vessel leads to disaster.  As we wonder what could have forced the other crew to abandon ship, and thank fortune that we still have our vessel, it becomes increasingly clear that we are at risk of the same fate!  Our mission becomes one of survival and getting back home.  At the end, with safety in sight, the Chief Engineer concludes that the submarine is a threat to the rest of the Navy—a plague ship of sorts—and must be scuttled!  The XO tries to prevent this act, but his own love of the Navy makes him, too, realize the truth.  The ship must go down, and they with it!   Arm in arm, and singing of Deutschland, they drop into the cold, dark waters of the Heligoland Bight. 


  • Thanks for sharing. What kind of investigative abilities did you find most useful in that kind of scenario? Just curious, I'm gearing up to try and run some scenario demos as a GM, I'm always interested to hear how those abilities got used and what clues could be had. 
  • I think that with only two player characters, the GM put less emphasis on having the "correct" skill and more emphasis on simply providing the core clues as necessary to move the story along.  Admittedly, thinking back, the scenario is pretty one-directional, with the PCs literally just along for the ride.  We sealed our own fate by visiting the derelict submarine--that's all the GM needed to justify the danger moving to our boat, although I imagine he could have made that happen in some other way as well.  Since we were dealing with a strange, organic matter, important skills related to biology and chemistry (with regards to trying to devise countermeasures) but, again, I don't recall a particularly strong link between having a skill and getting information.  
  • Just from a Game Master perspective, the first time I looked at the Investigative abilities and tried to plan a scenario in ToC or EsoTerrorists (as another example) - it was hard to determine how to effectively use the Investigative abilities and Core Clues. This is what I think is so great about Gumshoe system but it took me a lot of reading other published scenarios (like Eternal Lies for example) to get the idea that Core Clues don't need a skill check in order find them and progress the story along, simply going to the submarine engine room and having Chemistry, for example, is enough to discover the strange chemical leak from a forgotten tank onboard (etc.). As a GM its always good to add little tidbits that would make the scenario easier or leverage more information about what's really going on, by allowing Investigative scenario point spends along the spine of the adventure. With some shorter games/scenarios it can be more difficult to get enough clues into that story to allow different avenues of investigation or really let different types of characters shine, etc. I'm always interested to see how other GM's manage that. Thanks again.
  • Played another ToC game at Dexcon. Bob Dushay ran "The House on Hill Street" or something like that. A house that was there but not; multiple realities, and a treacherous old lady! It was a lot of fun interacting with the other characters as we tried to figure out what was going on. What didn't work for me was the old lady NPC who knew what was going on all the time and dished out cryptic information to us in drips and drabs. Her info dumps were a metagaming pacing mechanism that chafes me as a player. But it was still fun to role-play and try to figure things out before we got told.
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