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Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's $5.95
Average Rating:4.2 / 5
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret\'s
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/19/2017 22:05:13

I made some modifications and ran this scenario as a mission for my Warhammer: 40,000 Dark Heresy group and it was a success. Overall this is a great short game scenario that captures an atmosphere of suspense and mystery. I think that the author did a good job of creating something where the tension slowly ratchets up as the players struggle to find the real evil plaguing the school. Feel free to check out my long-running Dark Heresy campaign here on Obsidian Portal: https://faith-and-betrayal.obsidianportal.com/

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2017 08:33:18

As written, this adventure follows the 'Pure' track, sheer creeping horror with no easy answers (and nothing you can fight). If that doesn't appeal, do not move on, there are notes on how to run it as a 'Pulp; style adventure instead. The Introduction tells of a brooding clifftop school on a Scottish island, lurking horrors below and the disappearance of the last lot of Investigators to go there. Will your party fare any better?

The starting premise is that your Investigators are part of, or at least familiar with, the "London occult set" and will be familiar with a bunch of their peers who wanted to investigate the strange aftermath of a meteorite which landed in the vicinity of the school and eventually took jobs there as a means to this end... but who have not been heard from for several months. The Keeper is encouraged to talk to the players in some detail about their characters' involvement: who was it that they knew amongst the disappeared fellows, what sort of job do they intend to take up, and how well (if at all) do they know the rest of this party? This information should be kept and referred to frequently to personalse the adventure to each character in the group. There are notes about generating characters for this adventure - it is, it seems, better suited to being a one-shot than part of an on-going campaign, although you may decide differently. This includes a discussion about Drives, and how each will interact with events in the adventure. Other dramatic tips are also discussed.

The adventure proper starts as the party arrives at St Margaret's, but it is suggested that flashbacks and directed scenes are used to backfill just why they are all on the ferry. Then it's on to the school with notes on the main members of staff (complete with suggestions for role-playing them that verge on acting - posture, voice, mannerisms - little things that help them come to life for your players). From then on in, school routine takes over and the party will have to slot into it as appropriate for the post they are filling. Note that posts are pretty dependent on your social standing (as determined by Credit Rating) although with cunning use of Disguise characters may attempt to seem what they are not.

There are, of course, loads of clues to be had. Each one comes with an array of ways to discover it, which brings the whole thing to life and enables you to weave them in seamlessly to conversations and explorations. There are locations to visit, each with their own array of clues, and eventually the party will be led to the source of the problem... and it is left to them how they cope with what they find. Perhaps they give up and die, maybe they escape at least physically (but probably go mad...

Although it is supposed to end there, a few suggestions for follow-up adventures are given. These will probably involve a new set of Investigators, or may even cross over into another Gumshoe game line... Esoterrorists or Fear Itself are suitable here. Five pre-generated Investigators, woven firmly into the plot are provided, along with the original ones who they have followed here (you can make up more if you like, especially if your players would rather create their own characters). There are a couple of handouts, and that's it.

It makes for a compelling adventure, but unless you are good at providing details on the fly some preparatory work is advisable. There is no plan of the school nor map of the island. The ending comes over as rather flat and may leave a lot of people feeling dissatisfied despite it being true to the spirit of a Lovecraft story. Hence you might want to make at least a little bit of use of the Pulp notes or modify the ending in a way of your own choosing. Atmosphere, though, is excellent!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by wesley c. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/10/2013 18:55:14

this as with all the purist adventures is genuinely creepy and on the level with what MRP is doing for there more purist stuff. one point of consideration is to make sure that your players know what a purist scenario entails in the level of survivability. the ending of this scenario is on the grim side and can be considered rail roady by some players.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Rick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/04/2012 08:25:42

I purchased this product as part of the “Purist Adventures” bundle. The Dying of Saint Margaret’s is a slow paced investigation filled with dread and despair. It is well written, and the layout and artwork are topnotch. It comes with some great player playable characters, and a few example NPCs that the PCs are following to the island. It should take one, or two sessions to run.

It has some great advice for directed scenes in the vein of flashbacks, or playing through other characters for a short time. I also love the way that the character’s drives are central to the adventure. The way you build up, and then undermine the player’s drives throughout the adventure will make for a chilling, memorable experience. That said, make sure your players understand that there really isn’t a way to “win” the adventure. The characters will likely end up dead, or mad at the end without really accomplishing anything. I’m fine with this, but the whole thing may be too depressing for some groups.

If you are looking for a purist Trail of Cthulhu adventure with an intriguing mystery, and a depressing atmosphere, you can do little better than The Dying of Saint Margaret’s.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/03/2011 06:09:46

The Dying of St. Margaret's is an adventure written by Graham Walmsley that falls into what Pelgrane calls its Purist scenarios for the Trail of Cthulhu RPG. What that means is that it's designed to evoke the feel and style of H.P. Lovecraft's stories rather than the more pulpy style in which investigators fight Lovecraftian horrors with tommy-guns and dynamite. Instead, the best investigators can hope for is to escape with a shred of their sanity intact. As such it's right up my alley.

The adventure comes in the form of a 28-page PDF, with an attractive color cover and a black-and-white interior with just a tasteful pieces of art. As such it's fairly reasonable in terms of ink/toner if you're going to print things out. The layout is neat and easy to follow, although the three-column format makes it less suitable for use on a tablet since the text tends to be quite small.

The Investigation Enough with the physical details, what about the adventure? The investigation, which is set in ToC's default 1930 time-frame, takes place on a remote Scottish island and is centered around a decaying private girls academy. The standard set-up is that the investigators are all friends or acquaintances of a group of staff from the school that have recently gone missing. Strangers at the beginning of the adventure, each of the investigators meet on the boat ride over to the island where they've each taken a temporary staff position – ranging from divinity master to under-Gardner – in order to gain access to the school grounds and hopefully discover what happened to their friend.

While this set-up may be a bit harder to fit in to an ongoing campaign, it's perfectly suited for a one-shot, purist adventure and towards this end the adventure includes five pregenerated characters that are perfectly matched to the set-up. It also works extremely well because the ultimate outcome of the adventure is supposed to emulate that of an H.P. Lovecraft story in which the investigators come face-to-face with the realization of their own insignificance in the universe and often end up physically or mentally damaged. In other words, played as intended PCs are not supposed to exit this scenario unscathed.

This, in my opinion, is the most polarizing feature of the scenario because groups that want the bleak outcome typical to many of the original Lovecraft stories are going to really love the feel of this adventure. In contrast, those that prefer to shoot deep ones or ultimately “win” against the Mythos are going to find the adventure really unsatisfying. All is not lost though because Walmsley does include suggestions, including creature stats, in an appendix that lets you convert the adventure to a “pulp” style one.

The investigation itself is fairly straight-forward and while not built on rails (PCs can go where they want and no events are really “time locked”), it does have a fairly predictable flow that helps a GM keep the suspense building throughout the session. The core clues of the investigation follow logically from one another. That said, like IndiePete, a flowchart showing how the core clues (and some of the axillary clues) relate to one other would have been helpful.

The scenario is also very manageable in terms of locations and NPCs, thanks to the fact that it's set in a small, isolated location (essentially the PCs only can wander the school grounds, the nearby village, or the area in between). Thus, the number of NPCs is fairly limited and easy to keep track of although making some notes to reference (rather than flipping back and forth in the PDF) is advisable. In addition, the scenario itself includes a great bunch of roleplaying tips including suggestions for body language that really help bring the NPCs to life. Kudos for that feature: I wish all of the ToC scenarios followed the same format.

Aside from the actual content of the scenario's investigation, Walmsley also has included some specific tips and scene suggestions utilizing flashbacks and specific events that directly connect to the investigators' Drives, pushing them forward at certain points and undermining their confidence at others to turn up the psychological elements of the scenario. This is perhaps my favorite part - although it's also the one that takes the most mastery to fully utilize – because done well it really helps create a sense of history initially and then pushes the investigators to the brink as their mental fortitude starts to unravel in the face of a truly cosmic force.

My Verdict I've run the adventure twice, for two different groups, and had a great time in both cases. I love running it late at night, with the lights turned down and just a couple of candles (I've got electric ones to avoid burning down the house) lighting the table. Atmosphere is critical for really raising the suspense and horror of the scenario. I also like the scenario because it's incredibly flexible – it will work for one to five players equally well (though smaller numbers work best in my opinion) and works equally well for those new to RPGs or grizzled veterans, as long as they're on board with the Purist style. It's now one of my “go to” scenarios for cons. As such I would highly recommend checking it out.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/02/2010 23:02:43

This particular scenario is a very dark and disturbing one. As noted elsewhere, it is very much in the "purist" vein, though there is a brief section at the end that describes how to "pulp" it up and add more action in. Basically it is a one-night episode, not really suitable for staging as part of a campaign. It could, however, be used effectively as an interlude in an on-going campaign, though the players will need to work out their motivation for going to the Island.

The scenario is designed to invoke the slow build up of creepiness leading eventually to a classic Lovecraftian denoument wherein the investigators learn that even their best efforts may be useless in the face of the mythos. There is no combat in the scenario, so if your group enjoys fisticuffs and gunplay, they may be very disappointed by this particular adventure -- though maybe that would be a good thing for some groups. There are plenty of role-playing suggestions for the Keeper, which, in my opinion is a much underutilized device by most scenario authors. We could always use more suggestions on how to role-play the walk-ons and bit players.

As usual, DriveThru has done an exemplary job of reproducing the book. Overall, given that it's a bit grim, I rate it a solid "4."

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/18/2009 07:09:56

(Note that this review contains a big spoiler.)

"The Dying Of St Margaret’s" is a professionally presented and evocative Mythos scenario in the Purist vein. The third page presents all of the key facets of the scenario: the Mythos "antagonist" is a Colour [Out of Space]; the investigators will travel to a remote school and investigate strange occurrences; the scenario will most likely end with the discovery of the Colour and the death or madness of the investigators. Cheerful stuff, presented in a no-nonsense fashion... this is great, more scenarios and RPG-writing should be so direct.

I like that the author is playful in his choice of title: there is a lot of death and dying in and around the surrounds of St. Margaret's - the school under which the Colour exists - and a malignant effect of the Colour's presence is that those same surrounds are bleached or dyed of colour.

The majority of play will concern the unearthing of clues concerning the happenings at the school leading to the doomed discovery of the Colour. The author spends some time presenting good reasons for the investigators - who may not know each other beforehand - to travel to the school, and very nicely ties this into the Trail of Cthulhu's Drive mechanic with plenty of examples.

Other aspects of the the Trail of Cthulhu's Gumshoe-based system are well used and presented. Core clues are highlighted as such, and each clue has numerous examples of how it might be presented depending on which skill is used.

The author also takes time to describe techniques for effective portrayal of the various NPCs, such as "Slump; Sigh as you talk; Shrug [often]" in the description of the world-weary and Colour-drained Physics teacher Bartholomew Althorp. I dig this, and would like to see this aspect continued in future texts.

The cover art, interior art, and layout are by Jerome Huguenin, who is also the artist and layout bod for the Trail of Cthulhu game itself. "The Dying..." is an attractive and professional looking PDF. The art has a bleached, monochromatic, and somewhat diseased look about it, which has a pleasing synchronicity with the effect of the Colours malign presence upon St. Margaret's and the personages of the scenario.

The PDF is quite suitable for printing, although in my opinion you'll need to take care to exclude two full page pictures from the run since those pages are quite dark. I note that the second page of the PDF is entitled "Investigators", but is otherwise blank. Is this intentionally so, or is there content missing here (sample investigators? but such sample investigators are presented towards the end of the book), or is this just a wasted page?

Daniel Harms, of Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia fame, has already written a positive review, which has garnered some prompt feedback from the author and evidently (?) some changes have been made to the text.

This is a nice one-shot scenario that will provide an entertaining evenings play. Simon of Pelgrane Press notes that this is the first release in a trilogy: a trilogy of one-shot scenarios I should think, which is all good since I can see myself running this as a con scenario in the near future. Tick good.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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