The Devil and the Drum

I’m very happy to announce the publication of The Devil and the Drum, a scenario for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. I’d like to thank all of my play-testers, especially my family and the folks at Grogmeet November 2022.

This scenario is set in Devon, 1946. The investigators are National Trust volunteers asked to survey an old ruined abbey. Events unfold amidst an unnatural storm wreaking havoc across the United Kingdom.

I wrote The Devil and the Drum last year to run during a family holiday. We were already booked into a cottage on the edge of Dartmoor when I started jotting down ideas. I love Call of Cthulhu when it hooks into the real-world, so I started researching Dartmoor for spooky stories, and I found plenty, of course! I eventually settled on Buckland Abbey as a location, a 700-year-old house previously owned by a well-known historical figure. I’ll stop here to avoid spoilers!

My family enjoyed the scenario, even if my younger son’s investigator went bonkers and ran off into the night. Poor Jimmy! The following day, we all visited the abbey. The first National Trust volunteer we met asked if we had ever visited before. We all hesitated, looked at each other, and answered: “No… Not really?”

It was strange to walk around a previously unvisited building with an almost prescient knowledge of its layout. I had an excellent opportunity to check my research and make a few notes, adding a little flair to a couple of locations in my scenario, notably the altar in the chapel and the tiled floor in the two main rooms. My players even managed to find an old poem hanging on a wall which matched one of the handouts their investigators had found! Sadly, the drum itself was not present, having been temporarily relocated to an exhibition in Plymouth. Another time.

I had a ton of fun writing this scenario. Although I’ve been a roleplayer, GM and writer for many years, I’ve only recently discovered a love for history after becoming a Keeper for Call of Cthulhu. The setting I used in this scenario might be unusual for Call of Cthulhu, which is more typically set in 1920s America, but as a Brit I found myself more at home. The post-war era also felt closer and more familiar.

My favourite part of this scenario is a certain NPC: Mickey, well-mannered rascal with a somewhat impenetrable Devonshire accent. He’s a hat tip to that other Mickey from a certain Guy Ritchie film (NSFW link). My scenario includes a list of West Country phrases to use with him, such as:

  • “Alrite my luvver!”
  • “Yoom es ma-dde as a bar-bed wire badd-ger!”
  • “A temper like a Torpoint chicken!”

Click here to visit my scenario on DriveThruRPG:

Enjoy, have fun, and let me know if you spot any typos!

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