Tabletop RPG Review: The Catcott Collection

The Catcott Collection represents a somewhat rare, but growing number of one-on-one scenarios for Call of Cthulhu.  It presents a very strange situation that is likely best for a one-shot, but might serve as an interesting launching story for a character to go through a campaign.  It’s quite short, yet it will likely require some preparation and comfort on the part of the keeper to run.

Set in Bristol, UK in the 1920s, it wouldn’t be too difficult to change its location, or even time, but you’d need to change some names and specifics.  It involves an investigator looking into the real-life Alexander Catcott’s collection, held at the equally real-life Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, while staying at the also real-life Royal Hotel (apparently now a Marriott).  Though those details serve as the set-up for the scenario, they don’t really affect it once things kick off, so could be altered.

This is a closed-room scenario.  Once things begin, the player character, gender neutrally named Riley, is essentially trapped in their hotel room until they either succeed or not in solving the supernatural mystery-trap they’ve fallen into.

As this is intended for a keeper and a single player, it will likely be intense, intimate, and focused.  It will also likely be fast.  The actual scenario is only nine pages long.  It should take less than a single session.  Probably between one and two hours. 
There are a few handouts, and I think it would be a very good idea for a keeper to have copies of the room map in each of its states (you’ll have to adjust the maps on your own, as there’s only one version in the book.  You’ll also want to make a complete character sheet.  There are some basic stats for Riley provided, but no actual character sheet.

I think this is a cool framework, but I feel like I’d want to flesh some things out before actually running it.  There could be more to indicate the nature of the antagonist.  I’d likely want to increase the weird presence of the cultist, not to mention maybe make the interaction with said cultist a bit less perfunctory.  Ideally, I’d love to have some more handouts, including things like Riley’s journal pages and notes, with different versions in the different conditions of the room.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, I think one-on-one scenarios do a lot to capture the vibe of Lovecraft’s tales, and get more into the personal and subjective headspace of a character discovering the mind-shattering truth of the universe.  This can be a lot less “pulpy” than world-spanning campaigns like Masks of Nyarlathotep, or monster hoedowns like Shadows of Yog-Sothoth.  Some that I’ve read seem like they’d make good introductions to longer campaigns.  The sort of thing you’d run for a new player before they joined the rest of the party, so they’d have a bit of Mythos in their background already.  Of course, they’re also great for one-shots.  I hope to see more, either from the Miskatonic Repository or from Chaosium itself.  

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