The Baskwood Island Hotel Review
Updated: Feb 27, 2022
Phaedra's Short Game Summary (spoilers!)
Suggestions for Keepers (spoilers!)
I ran The Baskwood Island Hotel Copper Best-Seller scenario for Call of Cthulhu by Andy Miles! Here is its DriveThruRPG description:
“Welcome to The Baskwood Island Hotel.
We hope you enjoy your stay on this beautiful island and in our enchanting hotel.
This is our first season, so everything is brand new and the staff are all eager
to serve you! We look forward to meeting you during your time here.
Is this hotel too good to be true?
A 1920's Call of Cthulhu scenario by Andy Miles.”
The scenario is a tight sandbox with a very intriguing premise, in a unique isolated location that makes the players feel both trapped and helpless. It takes place within the confines of an island and it introduces a unique mechanism that’s going to make investigators really feel that sense of urgency!
I ran The Baskwood Island Hotel with 3 players and it took me exactly 4 hours with strict timing. If played more casually or with more people it could take a few more hours.
Included with the title are:
10 NPC sheets in extra folder, 6 of which are included in the book as Pre-gens
13 Character Portraits - old-timey photographs
What Makes This Scenario Great:
A well-written and succinct sandbox scenario. Easy to learn and run in one day, but can take longer if the Keeper allows for a lot of role-play. The setting is original and easy to grasp, but can be moved anywhere isolated in the world.
An exciting, original mechanic that threatens death, which will make investigators feel the urgency to solve the mystery, or escape.
Very fun and well-researched bits of information, like the actual date of a meteor shower! Also a fun Lovecraftian Easter Egg hinting at what’s really going on.
Not very reliant on combat. Avoiding it can be just as useful. A rush against time where the more time passes the more the risk increases.
A good number of NPCs, some of whom can also be used as Pre-gens. The female representation is good, and some of the women have scientific backgrounds like Astronomer and Scientist, which is appreciated! Some characters have very intriguing role-playing hooks that link them well to the game.
Suggestions for Improvement:
It would have been nice to have more information about the game, suggested player count, estimated playtime and list of handouts/maps & NPCs on its DriveThruRPG page. It would help people know what they’re getting!
There is a mix up with the character sheets, which aren’t quite the same between the extra folder of editable sheets and the ones offered at the end of the scenario pdf. Some of the backstories are also invisible or cut off. Those pesky PDF text boxes!
My group suggested a few improvements for the maps: the lack of toilets, the relative size of the rooms vs the 16-people dining room, and a ‘secret’ room compartment being obvious in the player map. Also the world map could include the beacon that’s mentioned in the scenario.
I’d have loved some more interesting backstory for some of the characters, especially for two of the women who had more or less the same role-playing hook.
Diversity and inclusivity-wise: “Wheelchair-bound” is not an appropriate term to use anymore - I recommend “in a wheelchair” or “wheelchair-user”. Also, especially with one character’s backstory being relating to it, it would have been interesting to have at least one or two NPCs and/or Pre-gens of colour.
Phaedra’s Short Game Summary:
Investigators (all Pre-gens):
Charles Burton, 44, the Antiquarian with a dark past
Dr Edwin Wolf, 59, the Doctor with military experience
Lillian McIntyre, 43, the ever-prepared Scientist
Our investigators arrive at The Baskwood Island Hotel on a lovely hot day. They are settled in, socialise with the other guests, the host, Franklin Winters, and his parents, who are quite old and frail. They have a lovely dinner and then retire for the night. They luckily only age one year between them (Mr Burton being the slightly unlucky one), and the next day proceed to talk to more of the guests who convince them to stay up in the evening - Mr Burton investigating strange lights and ley lines, and the rest watching a meteor shower. At around midnight, they observe a strange light coming from a cave down a cliff behind the hotel. Earnest Bird, a parapsychologist almost dies trying to climb down, so they hold back. When the light stops emanating, they all age this time. Panicked about this strange transformation, and seeing that the hotel, the trees and the whole island seems to be ageing with them, they stay up worrying, until they bump into ‘accountant’ Larry Wilkinson who has managed to steal a strange-looking book from the hotelier; a book describing a strange ritual of “Restore Youth”. The revelation is too much for Ms McIntyre and Dr Wolf, who enter bouts of mania and paranoia respectively: one convinced she is a descendent of powerful wizards, and the other worrying everyone is against him. They arrange to break into Mr Winters’ office and try to see if there are any other mystical books to be found. Their respective investigations lead to realising that no boat is coming to rescue them this morning, finding a hidden passage to a secret cave, and getting an innocent cook fired as a distraction. Mr Burton now finds himself stuck in a creepy dark cave, accompanied by strange ritual ingredients, a bloody altar and the bodies of the two elderly Winters parents. The rest of the group wait until the best time to try and rescue him, only to find him pointing a gun at the clearly insane Frank Winters, who throws two final ingredients into the pot on the altar, re-animating the soulless bodies of his parents. After a valiant fight and a good amount of running away, the monstrosities that used to be Frank’s parents are killed once again, all of our investigators are alive - though a bit older - the hotel and the rest of the guests are significantly older, and many are dead. Winters spends the rest of his life in an asylum, and the group manage to convince authorities of their innocence enough to go on to lead quiet, if traumatised, lives.
Suggestions for Keepers:
The core mechanic of the game is rolling a POW and ageing a certain number of years every night. If an investigator goes up an age bracket, they update their characteristics as instructed in the Character Creation process. I made sure I wrote out the rule on a cheat sheet because the calculations can get clunky (especially because the players then need to adjust their Hit Points, Move Rate and other modifiers at the same time). I also reasoned that if a player goes from their 40s to 50s they would only lose 5 points between DEX, STR and CON, as it’s the difference between the two, and not as if they’d gone from 0 to 50.
In one of the NPCs/Pre-gen’s Role-playing hooks, they mention some lights relating to the ritual appearing at night. I made the lights appear from the cave at around midnight and decided to integrate that as an important part of the ritual. This way it drew the investigator’s attention to something odd down the cliffside and gave them a goal at the end of Day 2.
Following from that, maybe give one of the investigators climb & climbing gear if you’d like the investigators to enter the cave through the cliffside, as the Pre-gens don’t currently have any.
Some minor things:
I allowed the player who was a doctor to go see the old man’s body on Day 2 as I couldn’t think of a reason not to.
The reason I gave that the boat didn’t appear on Day 3 was that it doesn’t always come, and then my players rationalised that it was Sunday so it makes sense. I would have probably had the boat arrive on Day 4 and allowed the investigators to escape (scarred, but alive) if they wanted to.
If you'd like your own Miskatonic Repository Scenario reviewed on Phaedra Keeps an Eye, contact me through Stars Are Right, or email me: email@example.com.