President Robo vs The Mask of Nyarlathotep
The Masks of Nyarlathotep (aka Masks) is possibly the greatest Call of Cthulhu campaign ever written, if not the greatest rpg campaign ever written. I've tried, unsuccessfully, numerous times to play it all the way through. It is awesome and big and sprawling and epic, and tonally, all over the damn place.
I've bored many, many people stupid about how I feel about Masks; that there is a massive disconnection between how Masks is written and how it actually plays. Clearly it is written to be this pulpy, Indiana Jones-esque globetrotting romp, with our heroes redlining it around the world as the Raider's March plays on. This is not how it plays. Imagine an Indiana Jones film where Indy fails utterly, goes mad and is brutally slaughtered. Then watch that film five more times. It plays like that. For me, that's not a lot of fun.
So, putting my money where my mouth is, I set out upon the greatest piece of roleplaying hubris ever; reimagine Masks and do it right this time.
- 1) dial up the pulp; the characters are a super group of pulp heroes
2) dial down the body count; less characters sliced open on sacrificial altars and more exciting hairbreadth escapes
3) a scientific Mythos (see below)
4) keep the basic framework of Masks, but tweak the details
5) it's set in the 30s as oppose to the 20s, coz Pulp Nazis are great to punch.
So inspired by this: this old rpg.net thread and specifically this:
"The Doc Savage style President of the United States and his cabinet of two-fisted cohorts."
I have a great hook on which to hang my super group of pulp heroes.
But, instead of Doc Savage let's use Atomic Robo. It's essentially the same thing only; Robo is more current than Doc, and there's already a whole game for Robo out there that I can use without putting in too much work.
Therefore, I present; President Robo vs the Mask of Nyarlathotep, the unholy mix up of Atomic Robo RPG and Call of Cthulhu that no one wanted.
So, this is an alternate Atomic Robo timeline:
1923 - Nikolai Tesla builds the world's first automatic intelligence, the titular Atomic Robo.
1929 - Atomic Robo and his Action Scientists save New York City and a grateful America grants Robo full legal status as a human being and recognises him as an American citizen.
1936 – Robo becomes the 33rd President of the United States. The Action Scientists become Robo's two-fisted cabinet of awesomeness.
The details, the how Robo becomes president, what did he do to save New York from, we don't need to wory about, they're unimportant right now. What happened to FDR? We may find out later…
The Action Scientists become members of the cabinet, much like Doc's Fabulous Five. So we'd have highly competent pulp heroes who occasionally also run the American Government; people like Dr Henry Jones Jr – part time Action Archaeologist, part time Postmaster General and Peggy Allen part time Secretary of Labour and full time masked vigilante. Again, don't sweat the details.
The villain, the titular Mask of Nyarlathotep becomes a 1930s era masked Egyptian-themed villain, with a (very) sinister agenda. We'll build upon the science fiction origins of the Mythos to make it appropriate for Atomic Robo's action science, so plenty of fiction bent, with plenty of malevolent aliens, extra-dimensional gates and mathematical calculations beyond the understanding of the sane human mind.
Next time. The Carlye Experiment and Chapter One; New York.