Saturday, May 4, 2013

Nightmare In Norway Games Workshop Call of Cthulhu Adventure Review

Back Cover and Plot:  
A Call of Cthulhu adventure for 2-5 moderately experienced player characters, set in Norway in February 1925.


The body of Lieutenant Cleary is found near the village of Vikenberg. It has been badly mutilated. Thejocals say Cleary fell while skiing and was attacked by wolves ... yet Cleary was an accomplished skier, and his cousin, Sir Eustace Cleary, is perturbed ... Behind the tragedy lie blackmail threats, and the hint of something darker in the mountains. Sir Eustace cannot afford any scandal, as he is standing for Parliament. He has heard of your investigative abilities, and offers you a good fee. Will you enter the nightmare in Norway?"
1985 ... Marcus L. Rowland ... 36 pages ... Games Workshop
Introduction : 

This adventure dates from a time when Call of Cthulhu was just starting to become more widely recognized as more then simply a horror game of Lovecraftian horror survival adventure and the author Marcus Rowland wasn't the creator of "Forgotten Futures" and Diana Warrior Princess. Mr. Rowland was a regular contributor to White Dwarf magazine and responsible for expanding  CoC into the modern era. Games Workshop asked him to write a few adventures that lead the way to the game we know today.
Heart of  The Nightmare
 I've run Nightmare In Norway a couple of times for experienced groups of players and the adventure is an interesting mix of investigation and action. The investigation part is pretty standard for a Call of Cthulhu adventure until the violence starts.
There are two things that make this adventure unique. One is the setting of 1920's Norway with some rather interesting locations, NPC's and the countryside the characters find themselves in.
The first part of the adventure lags a bit and feels almost to me like a 50's horror movie which is really the way I've run it. A combination of the "Trollenberg Terror " and a Universal movie. The PCs felt almost alone, cut off from the world. 
Which leads to entanglements with the Norwegian army, vacationing (or are they?) foreigners from France, Germany and Austria and strange sightings in the woods. The Ski Lodge Location can bring home the survival horror element of the adventure. 
 The truth is that this is a mostly average adventure if played straight however in the hands of a good DM this adventure could provide a tool box for an expanded campaign. 
Major Spoilers Ahead 

The real enemies in this adventure are a family of Lovecraftian Trolls. Used correctly and these trolls can terrify the hell out of Investigators. I used the same location as part of a Cthlu Dark Ages game with village in the place of ski lodge. The trolls were at the height of their power and population. The options for the players really expanded and even though this is only a thirty six page adventure the PC's came back for more. 
I ran the same setting again in modern times and expanded the ideas to give the players an almost "Keep Movie" feel. They played the descendants of the earlier game. I also expanded the NPC's by turning the wolf boy into a troll hybrid. A degenerate who comes back to bedevil the PCs as part of an expanded cult. The ruins seen on the front cover were also expanded as well giving the area a very, very, sinister feel. 
 Part of the secrets of why these early modules were so loved is that DM's really made them there own. 
There are several really nice suggestions from Eric Dodd in a review of the module. 
This is the one that really grabbed me.
"Those who like tactical gaming should enjoy using the cut-out figures on the maps provided. Note that area 9 on map 2a joins onto the corridor between locations 10 and 13 on map 2c, as this is not clearly explained. A real "Assault on Precinct 13" feeling could be generated with this part of the adventure, as players will have to decide who and how much of the building to protect" 
 You can read more HERE 

Ten reasons to Use Nightmare In Norway 
  1. The module isn't well known among most role players and seems to be mostly forgotten. Many CoC players dismiss it as simply a cursorily and move on to other better well known adventures. This alone makes it a great target to run. 
  2. There are a lot of loose ends that allow a DM to expand the adventure into a sort of Robert Howard style degenerate "Hills Have Eyes" adventure. 
  3. The enemies aren't the average tentacled horror which means that while the PC's are expecting one thing its another sanity threatening force. 
  4. Use the surrounding countryside to your complete advantage. There is endless room for expansion of the horrors found within the mountains and the ski lodge. 
  5. The time frame of the adventure allows for an over arching sense of foreboding history and modern angst among the snow capped peaks. 
  6. There is also the seed of a cult that still might be operating in the area or its legacy among the trolls and their families. This is another lead for the DM to expand into his own Mythos style cult. 
  7. The events of this module set up for any future encounters in the area. Just because the enemy seems down doesn't mean their out. 
  8. The artifacts used by the forces in the area are perfect fodder for future Delta Green operations. The monsters featured in the adventure can also be customized as only one group  of an entire species. 
  9. The NPC's and location are perfect for expansion into future adventures. I've used these monsters as unique worshipers of other gods. Almost modern morlocks as well. 
  10. There's a little bit of everything for everyone with this one if used correctly. Any DM's running this adventure need to customize it and embrace it to make it their own. Your mileage may vary.

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