Ask Uncle Von: Habitat and Habits of the Pripyat Beast

Dr. Shiny gave me a buzz the other day and said:

Can I have some GM advice? I recently ran a Call of Cthulhu game set in Pripyat (with two Pripyat Beasts wandering around). The problem is, with such a large play area, there are too many places to run away and hide, and only so many times the creatures can randomly stumble over the player without it becoming ridiculous after a while. It was a really good game (and I really want to use Pripyat again), but how would you go about plausibly upping the risk of an encounter?

First things first: here’s what he’s on about.

When the secondary nuclear reactor exploded, it spewed forth a torrent of radioactivity. The inhabitants of the surrounding towns survived just long enough to dig mass graves for their dead. The unprotected and ultimately doomed clean-up volunteer force sent a flurry of distress signals, reporting the emergence of jumbled beasts from underneath piles of bodies. These creatures, sickening amalgamations of people and livestock, varied in appearance.

art and text by Keith Robertson, Drawing and Painting the Undead.

So, basically, it’s an eldritch horror spawned of radiation and Forces Unknown acting in terrible, unconscious concert to bring forth a shambling wossname that rends and devours the living. So far, so good, and something I’d expect intelligent players to use the environment provided to avoid or defeat. It’s a good monster.

The problem, as I see it, Herr Doktor, is… well, in classical roleplaying terms, it’s that you’ve built a city-sized dungeon and you’ve only put two encounters in it. I might, if I were a bit of a git, call it quite a severe case of Maliszewski’s Syndrome.

You have a few choices.

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Streamlining Cthulhu

No, I’m not talking about chopping off the big lad’s wings and tentacles to reduce that inopportune wind resistance and tendency to walk or stumble that he has going on. I’m talking about the RPG that bears his name.

The idea of running some Call of Cthulhu has been batted around of late (mostly by me, admittedly, as I’m looking at running some decidedly short-term RPG shenanigans during a week’s holiday, and it’s usually CoC that I reach for when it’s important that the game has a defined and definite end).

Now, I like Chaosium’s game, but…

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