Obsidian Portal Campaign of the Month July 2021 – The Coldfall Sanction

They had said Dracula was dead; that Operation Edom was over. They lied. The vampire lives on, and despite the disappearance of spymaster “Peter Hawkins”, the events he set into motion continue, due to the existence of The Coldfall Sanction – July’s Campaign of the Month! Up for a little intrigue with a vampire? Good. Then GM nicholsvictoria2 will see you straight away.

First off, feel free to tell us about the person behind the GM screen. Where are you from? What do you do aside from gaming? Wife and kids? Where can we stalk you on the internet?

First of all, I want to thank you! What an honor! I cannot believe our little group caught your eye. This is amazing.

I am a 49-year-old computer professional with a 21-year-old daughter and very little time on my hands these days. But what time I have I love role playing.

So…tell us about Coldfall Sanction in a nutshell;

Coldfall is a campaign game based upon the greatest sandbox game ever, The Dracula Dossier, which envisions that Stoker’s novel was based on an actual British Intelligence after action report of a failed operation – and then, the horrid aftermath of that unwise decision to attempt to recruit a vampire. It is 1916, the world is at war, and yet, behind the scenes there are some very nefarious forces at work — The Night’s Black Agents.

This may be the first Gumshoe game to win CotM- what sets it apart? What is your favorite thing about the system? Any house rules?

Gumshoe was created by Robin Laws and basically designed to allow a more mystery/clue driven investigation in which an investigator has more chances to gain those important clues necessary to unwind say a more John Dickson Carr type of mystery-oriented game. I feel it to be more player oriented, actually, in that the player has more control, based upon their abilities vs the dice . . . I mean, that is just how it feels to me . . . an opinion.

How regularly do you play, and where do you play?

We play twice a week — on a good week. Owing to schedules, summer for us is at times a bit harder to keep to that schedule. We use a social platform called IMVU – where we appear as avatars around a virtual tabletop. We do have non-play sessions where we discuss the previous game sessions and their associated log narratives.

How do you know your players, how long have you been gaming with them?

We are a very small but close group of players who have known each other for about 10 years now – wow time has flown. We started with a sort of Next Generation Dark Shadows game, which we have yet to bring to Obsidian.

Keeping players involved is always a struggle, how do you keep them involved?

For us, I think it owes to the fact we are basically a core of three players, and each of us has a variety of different player characters . . . (and as you can see there are a lot of Player Characters) and so, we are able to switch into so many different roles, and that allows us to have a fresh perspective. It also allows us to expand the game. The game itself has two plots, London and Bucharest, each with its own set of player characters and NPCs.

You have extensive logs, are they a team effort or do you write them all yourself?

We take the actual play log from our virtual tabletop and then I write them up into narratives using Stoker’s idea of diary entries, letters, newspapers, etc. Although for narrative purposes, I do expand upon the descriptions, etc, in order to form a narrative around the log, but all the dialogue comes from our actual play. All of the in-character thoughts are based upon forum entries and/or from our chat sessions we have after play to flesh out what those characters were thinking, are thinking, etc. Our Coldfall narrative log entries are very collaborative —

How long have you been using Obsidian Portal? What brought you to the site and what keeps bringing you back?

What brought us to Obsidian was The Coldfall Sanction. Dracula Dossier *a shout out to Ken Hite.* When we decided to try our hand at playing Dracula Dossier and in particular The Coldfall Sanction, the idea of not only playing the game but of building a narrative around the game, we found Obsidian to be so well suited to our style of play. We have been on the Portal since our first Coldfall session.

Your game is set in the time of the first World War- why did you pick that era?

Well, the fact that Dracula had apparently failed in his initial invasion of the West, i.e., England and so he was the shadowy hand moving events toward WWI and then there is also . . . . *Oops, spoilers*


What would you say the single biggest highlight from Coldfall Sanction has been so far?

The evolution of so many of our characters. As you can see, we are very character driven. But in particular, Zo Renfield. She was to have been only a minor character, but then she just exploded upon the stage. But then she is a Renfield. We have really enjoyed allowing our characters to take on a life of their own.

What does the future have in store for the characters in Coldfall Sanction? Without giving the game away, is there anything you can surmise……?

Hmm, let’s just say there are two plot lines, London and Bucharest – but those two will eventually merge . . . and then things will really start to happen *smiles*

Okay, before we get out of here, give us some of your best GM’ing pearls of wisdom.

Listen to your players – and make sure you are allowing the game to allow your players to really discover new things about themselves – the game of course has a plot, but do not let the plot overrun the players ability to breathe life to their roles . . . . and the fun of not only investigating the game but of their game’s characters as well. It is role playing – let them play with that role.

That’s going to be it for this month folks. Thanks for being with us and be sure to nominate all your favorite campaigns to put them in the running for a feature of their own! We’ll be back with another great campaign for your to peruse before you know it, so stay tuned.

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Silver ENnie for Best Website, Best Podcast 2012-2013
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