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The Professors Wake

Organiser: Ian Hawkins

Location: Shining Cliff Wood, Alderwasley Belper

Horror at Shining Cliff

Written by Stuart Renton on 17/03/2014

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Ian Hawkin's inaugural event, The Professor's Wake, was a small affair of around twenty players and assorted NPCs in a Lovecraftian adventure set in 1929. The event saw the players gather to attend the wake of a notable professor who mysteriously vanished in even more mysterious circumstances. There the scene was set in the desolate Derbyshire countryside - what could be creepier? Well, a lot actually. We arrived on site with wine and nibbles at three o’clock sharp, and immediately set about getting to know each other. Over the next hours people died, a weird cult started popping up in the bushes and the appearance of Saraaaaaa, a mad-skull wielding-ex-cultist whose insane ramblings divided the group (I liked her). It wasn’t long before the name Yog Sothoth was uttered… and things pretty much went downhill from there. And this was all before dinner. The professor had been on an expedition to Africa where he’d discovered artifacts which opened his eyes to the Cthulhu Mythos, so, he’d cast off caution, discovering rituals that would allow him to time-travel. He saw the future and it broke his mind (presumably by seeing a couple of Lady GaGa videos). The Professor had been hearing wolves before he died, and we heard the wolf throughout the day, and as the sun set and the full moon began to rise, it was only a matter of time before we met the creature, for the professor had unleashed a Hound of Tindalos (think a Justin Bieber / Doberman hybrid and you’re not far off). We managed to defeat the beast with some prayers and plenty of guns, which really felt like something of a victory but the Hound was merely another player in a much larger game, and as the night wore on, we discovered that a cult of Yog Sothoth sought to make their god manifest on Earth and once they had captured one of our group and slaughtered him in a gruesome sacrifice, we had to stop their twisted ritual before Yog Sothoh itself was conjured into the mortal realm. It’s all pretty dramatic stuff! And yes the ritual was broken and we saved the world. You can thank us later (although gifts of cake are particularly appreciated). The day contained just the right amount of combat - first with the cultists and then with the Hound of Tindalos – which was particularly impressive with its hulking shape and glowing eyes. There was enough sleuthing, and some truly sterling role playing moments in a fantastic location. The pre-created characters were filled with depth and the players really jumped in with both feet to bring the game to life in truly wondrous ways. What the refs did in this game which I’ve rarely seen elsewhere is how they played to the strengths of the characters. I played a priest and I really felt as though my character was being given ‘spiritual’ consideration as events played out. I wasn’t ‘just another player’ but rather my actions shaped the world and the refs moved and reacted according to my play style. This showed a dynamic control of the game, which was an exceptional quality and the absolute stand out quality of the day. It’s that point toward the end of the review where I like to dish out the negatives especially when I’ve just doled out paragraphs of superlatives, but in this instance, finding anything negative to say is something of a challenge. So, in the interest of balance, I will say: the track to the venue was pretty hazardous (going down it gave -2 sanity), and it would have been nicer to have had more NPCs, and lastly that the toilets required a degree in Mechanical Engineering to master, but I’m really scraping at the bottom of the barrel at a most professional (and intimate) even that has put other events, even those running for many years, to shame. Summary: 9.5/10. A fantastic day all round with some phenomenal role playing and a well-crafted story. Sadly, Ian is only running one event per year but even still, as standards for events go, his games are definitely the one to watch.