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Running Call of Cthulhu on Roll20 vs. other systems: question for experienced online Keepers of CoC

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Edited 1659545623
Hi all! I'm an old school GM of a few systems and love CoC. I've finally convinced my old gaming group to jump in to one of the three most epic CoC campaigns (Masks, Orient Express, Beyond MoM) and am looking for the best way to run this online. I should mention my preference for "best": not gonna break the bank, fairly easy for me to run, but especially easy to navigate and immersive for my players. I've mainly been using roll20 over the years and have seen a number of Twitch streams with GMs running CoC with lots of maps and interactive features. Have any of you done this? I'm comparing that to the official packages from Chaosium for Masks and Orient Express on Fantasy Grounds (which I haven't tried yet), and they look great in terms of packaging and unifying everything, and presenting attractive online searchable 'props' for players. Would love your advice on how to create the best environment for my players to play in while it doesn't overwhelm me with lots of uploading and resizing. *I have an original module of Beyond MoM which was the first choice of my players, but know Chaosium doesn't really have it on the radar for reprinting/online play. So maybe there are some pre-existing places I could get resources for that one too? Otherwise more than happy to run one of the other two. There may be other followup questions but appreciate any help here. I'm on a Mac using Monterey. Thanks!
PB said: Hi all! I'm an old school GM of a few systems and love CoC. I've finally convinced my old gaming group to jump in to one of the three most epic CoC campaigns (Masks, Orient Express, Beyond MoM) and am looking for the best way to run this online. I should mention my preference for "best": not gonna break the bank, fairly easy for me to run, but especially easy to navigate and immersive for my players. I've mainly been using roll20 over the years and have seen a number of Twitch streams with GMs running CoC with lots of maps and interactive features. Have any of you done this? I'm comparing that to the official packages from Chaosium for Masks and Orient Express on Fantasy Grounds (which I haven't tried yet), and they look great in terms of packaging and unifying everything, and presenting attractive online searchable 'props' for players. Would love your advice on how to create the best environment for my players to play in while it doesn't overwhelm me with lots of uploading and resizing. *I have an original module of Beyond MoM which was the first choice of my players, but know Chaosium doesn't really have it on the radar for reprinting/online play. So maybe there are some pre-existing places I could get resources for that one too? Otherwise more than happy to run one of the other two. There may be other followup questions but appreciate any help here. I'm on a Mac using Monterey. Thanks! To not break the Code of Conduct, I will highlight what I would recommend in your answer above.
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Edited 1659610068
Hi, I've run a few Cthulhu games on Roll20 and am also very old school - not entirely sure what you mean by interactive elements but for me the keys to a good game were actually completely independent of the VTT: - pace, foreshadowing and tension - background music (there's absolutely tons of really good CoC music) - encouraging players stay in character at all times - keep the time pressure up: ideally there's something happening that the players must prevent or run from within X days/hours Roll20 did help with maps and handouts but I've never used "interactive elements", so potentially someone else can chime in who has some experience of that stuff. Potentially worth knowing: Roll20 recently added a pro feature (which I believe is still in test) that allows you to directly import PDFs into your game. This could help with getting your handouts setup quickly, potentially. You do NOT need this feature to upload regular handouts though, and if you're only running a single CoC campaign, you'll probably find you have plenty of storage on a free game account. I used Roll20 as a free user for around 6 years and only went pro at the start of the pandemic as I suddenly had a ton of games on the go so figured it was worth some payback. Not sure how much of that is of use to you but there's my $0.02!
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David
Pro
Sheet Author
I would seriously advise running one shots until you get a handle on the interface and setting things up. Running any of the campaigns that you have mentioned would be be a daunting task straight out of the gate.
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Don
Pro
I agree with David, one of the premade one-shots would be a good start. Alternately consider Masks of Nyarlathotep and run the Peru chapter (only in the latest version of Masks) as your learning game. The advantage of the premades is that the work has been done for you. I am on the final chapter of Masks of Nyarlathotep, and its been about a year since we started, playing generally every other week for an evening - so I think we're on Session 26 with more to go. I've been r unning it using Pulp rules for the latest edition of CoC (my players like combat and Masks fits Pulp very well).&nbsp; I didn't run any one shots, but I had been using roll20 to run multiple campaigns over the last few years (mostly Warhammer 40k roleplaying games like Dark Heresy) and so had a good handle on roll20 as a system. Plus Masks has a prequel chapter set in Peru which gave both the players and myself some time to adapt to the new system (since most of us hadn't played CoC since the 80s/90s). Its actually quite a good adventure which sets up the campaign proper and my players really enjoyed it. Masks has been an absolute blast, but a TON of work. So much work. Each map, location, NPC has to be entered - I worked a chapter at a time basically, keeping ahead of the players. Thankfully theres a ton of material out there on the web - historic pics, player made art and maps etc etc. It was amazing the available resources on the Web for CoC and Masks in particular.&nbsp; I am not sure re Mountains of Madness if there is a pdf version available like there is for Masks or Orient Express. Masks has pdfs available, plus Chaosium has put out (free!) addons for Masks with handouts/maps/NPC portraits etc - all of which you can then cut and paste to create handouts, roll20 maps, tokens (I use TokenTool) etc.&nbsp; Roll20 has a good character sheet and compendiums - I bought the basic rules and the Grimoire of Magic - which meant the rules and spells were all there and they work well with the character sheet (although we made some allowances for Pulp). The basic rules also comes with some free oneshot modules if interested.&nbsp; I also found various music from the 20s to use, plus for chapters like Africa and Peru I found suitable music to help evoke the atmosphere. There is a site - Syrinscape - which has very specific sounds/music tailored to masks (and has other campaigns as well) - I thought about purchasing it but decided against it deciding to make my own (admittedly not as impressive as Syrinscape - check it out if not familiar). Finally we made a Miro 'murder' board to track the various clues. Given how long things run and the complexity of the campaign, I felt it was helpful to have this.&nbsp; Here is the link, although I haven't had the time/energy to update it lately. The players though basically now have reached the end of the campaign and are fairly 'zoned in' on what they need to do and who to take on. &nbsp; <a href="https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_lxrqs0s=/?share_link_id=774501660532" rel="nofollow">https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_lxrqs0s=/?share_link_id=774501660532</a> So, while running this campaign has been very rewarding - probably the best and most immersive campaign I've ever run - its also been a lot of work to create each map, handout, token, NPC etc etc.&nbsp;
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Edited 1659640123
Thanks all - and sorry @TheMarkus I didn't realise there was a code of conduct around other providers here! I have run BECMI D&amp;D on Roll20 for a number of years, and mostly did Theatre of the Mind with hand-drawn maps. Have also been going through all of TSR's original properties in a single-session series, and been uploading and sizing PDFs and JPGs as needed. So I should have mentioned I know a little about Roll20's capabilities, but I'm by no means a master at it. @Don - ah, fond memories of Masks as a player; it took us just over a year to finish too. I ended up creating a google doc for all the clues and contacts to track, simple but yours sounds better. Love the board, thanks for sharing! I've run Beyond MoM in person back when it came out over 20 years ago, and am dusting off the book again. Since I posted I've found a fantastic resource online from someone who ran the campaign on Roll20, so it gives me a little hope - the resizing and uploading doesn't seem so daunting now that a lot of the scans, music and wallpapers are ready to plop into the game. Thanks for all the suggestions gang x