I finally ran the Cthulhu Dinner Party event this past Saturday. I laid out the battle plan in my previous article; this is the post game report.
Overall it was a smashing success and something I’d definitely consider doing again. We did have a few hiccups along the way, but as my wife said it was like the first time we hosted Thanksgiving Dinner. We’ll be better organized next time.
Here were the main issues:
1. We had less time than we thought to prepare. We did a good job prepping the previous weekend, but then everything was put on hold until Saturday morning. We got up a little later than expected, both of us went to the supermarket (in the original plan I was supposed to go solo) and then my daughter had an ice skating lesson. We made a mad dash to get things ready and I still ended up opening the door for our first guest while still wearing jeans.
2. Because of “the mad dash,” we didn’t do three big things. I forgot to set up my laptop with the mood music, we didn’t use our warming trays, and my wife had to forego making rice noodles.
3. Trail of Cthulhu turned out to be an awkward choice and slowed things down a bit. While I still think it’s a fine game, I either need to be more familiar with it next time or choose a different system.
4. As secretoracle warned in the comments, my wife got stuck in the kitchen most of the time (largely due to point 1). While she didn’t mind, it made things a bit awkward.
Now for the highlights:
1. When I softened my stance on dress clothes, I was afraid that guests would use the “costuming” excuse to dress down. I needn’t have worried. Everyone wore suitable attire that maintained the “dinner party” feel.
2. Everyone arrived on time.
3. In spite of being rushed, we got a lot of compliments on the food. Dinner was especially wonderful, as we all enjoyed sitting around the table and chatting for an hour. In a true testament to dinner, everyone left with a doggie bag.
4. The adventure was perfect for the evening. Without spoilers, I ran “Devourers in the Mist” in Stunning Eldritch Tales. When the players arrived, I ran a mini-LARP aboard the ship during a bon voyage party. This was run in tandem with the appetizer buffet. When we launched into the adventure proper, the characters found themselves washed up on a remote island. The themes of survival on a not-quite-normal island gave off a great Lost vibe.
5. In true Cthulhu fashion, the adventure ended in a TPK (total party kill), although the first character death didn’t occur until the last half hour of the session. Everyone was satisfied (and no, it was not a Kobayashi Maru scenario).
6. Everyone ended satisfied and really enjoyed themselves. The event started at 6 and ended around 1:30.
There were a couple of things that didn’t matter one way or the other:
1. I found myself clipping scenes and pushing forward to end the adventure on time. My convention GM experience came in handy.
2. My wife forgot that we were supposed to move back to the table for dessert and started handing out bowls of ice cream. She also forgot to turn on the coffee. It turned out to be just as well, as everyone was still full and it was pretty late.
In short, we had a rocking good time! I apologize if the post is a bit scattershot and I’d be happy to field any questions.