Chaosium Con 2: The Eldritch Buchaloo

Back when I was 11 or 12, my friend group consisted of hyper nerds into video games and roleplaying games (we were good at the former and almost certainly doing the latter completely incorrectly). And I would spend the next several years playing DnD (or HeroQuest) or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness off and on with various friend groups. 

I played once or twice in college again, but left the hobby alone for the most part until 2016 or 2017 when I got back into a campaign with some old friends from my DJing days. Then mom got sick and I had to put that on the backburner again. Then the pandemic hit and I found myself gravitating toward the collective storytelling found in horror roleplaying games like Kult and Call of Cthulhu as opposed to the fantasy worlds of Dungeons and Dragons. What fantasy lacked is what horror seemed to contain completely: a sense of actual danger and, at least for me, infinitely more interesting storytelling and narrative opportunities. 

So I bought books full of scenarios for Call of Cthulhu and learned how to run the game. When I eventually bought my house, I started running games and then news of the first Chaosium Con appeared in mid-2021. Having never been to a gaming convention before, I bought a ticket immediately and then, when the chance to volunteer at the check-in desk arose, I signed up for that too in the hopes of meeting a metric fuckton of new people...which I did.

My first convention was a fun and exhausting one, getting to play games run by several of the staff/writers for Call of Cthulhu (and other properties), as well as games written and run by people unaffiliated with the company. So when news of the second con arrived, I bought my ticket and signed up to volunteer again...this time knowing FAR more people and simply wanting to help facilitate things. 

I got in on Wednesday afternoon and proceeded to meet up with the Symphony Entertainment crew who happened to be around. I believe the entire city of Ann Arbor now knows the voice of Bridgett Jeffries, one of the loudest, most hilarious and positive women you'll ever meet. 

(Picture totally stolen from Bridgett Jeffries)

There were some minor things to be set up, but Wednesday was mostly a chill day for me. Later that night, I spent time with a dear friend (and phenomenal poet) from grad school. I've had the distinct pleasure of seeing Karen perform some of her poetry and we both attended a 2012 reading by 'House of Leaves' author Mark Z. Danielewski, which was a profoundly awesome experience. Getting to spend time with her and her husband at a record store that served outrageous cocktails was a great first night in town. 

Thursday we snagged breakfast outside of the hotel, ran around town scooping up necessary items we'd forgotten or new ones we hadn't even thought of, picked up extra staff t-shirts, and basically caused mayhem around the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. 

(Pictures totally stolen from Bridgett Jeffries)

Thursday night was the con mixer where we drank and chatted with others...a FAR larger crowd than had appeared early in the week the year before. People were clearly anxious to come and kick it before things popped off. 

Much like the first time, there were some bumps and issues to be addressed and fixed later, but for now, I'll only speak about the events I attended and the games I played. I'll be keeping these spoiler-free in case they sound like something you want to play in the future (you'll want to play them all, I assure you). Links to each for purchase (where available) will be included below. 

My schedule for the con this year:

*    *    *    *    *

I worked the morning shift at the registration desk with a woman named Alyssa who was a fantastic conversationalist and has created more than a few maps for several Chaosium books. Our shift was a quiet one since most of the registrants had checked in the night before, so we got to rap about our home games and various other errata. 

(Picture totally stolen from Bridgett Jeffries)

  • 2pm Game: Mobtown, written by Evan Perlman (run by Evan Perlman)

I've known Evan for a little bit, so I know his penchant for quality and signed up immediately for this one. At the table with me: a recently-made friend named Grant, YouTuber Seth Skorkowski, and my friend Tim, who I'd gotten to play in a livestream with several months prior. Great table. 

We were told immediately that we weren't going to complete the game in the time we had, but that we were basically playtesting some new mechanics ideas and punching some holes in the narrative. All of us were down for it. "Mobtown" is the introductory scenario for a short campaign set in Baltimore and its meant to play with the tropes of hardboiled and noir detective fiction. The campaign itself will be released into the Miskatonic Repository as a supplemental book to a forthcoming Chaosium sourcebook about Baltimore (and no, I don't know when either will be released). 

  • 7pm Game (VIP): Penetralia, written by Scott Dorward (run by Paul Fricker)

Paul Fricker has written some incredible stuff for Chaosium over the years (as has Scott Dorward), but getting to play in a game run by him AND written by Scott Dorward? Couldn't NOT jump on the opportunity. "Penetralia" is the story of several friends attending a birthday party for a friend, though the friend ends up being late and must be sought out by the group. Dealing with heady topics involving homelessness, mental illness, and everything adjacent to both are littered throughout the narrative. Paul runs a fantastic table and there were plenty of moments that had all of us wondering exactly what the fuck was going on until the very beautifully destructive end. 

I may or may not have burned a house down in the process. 

A solid scenario worth checking out if you can find it. I don't know where it can be purchased, unfortunately. If anyone knows, please link me so I can update that here. 

(Picture totally stolen from Matt 'Doc' Tracey)

When the day was done and games were completed, we found ourselves outside around the firepits, catching up with others we hadn't seen during the day, chatting about all the various horrors we experienced (or exacted on others ourselves) with our games. 

(No idea whose camera this one's from; probably Doc again)


  • 9am Game: Walter's Final Wish, written by Matt Wiseman & Jennifer Thrasher (run by Rina Haenze)

Rina is one of my favorite people to have met through my friendship with Bridgett. Not only have we played several times together on stream, but they write and run games that are terribly lethal, interesting, engaging, and just plain fun. Rina ran us through a violent nursing home in which we needed to fight our way through. Fun, yet terrifying, things were scattered throughout the building and we got to meet one of the best NPCs I've ever encountered, an aging drag queen named Poppy Cocks, who was lethal with high heels and loved the tv show Bonanza

"Walter's Final Wish" can be found amidst the other 25 scenarios in Stygian Fox's fantastic collection Fear's Sharp Little Needles, one of the darkest collections of CoC scenarios you'll ever read. 

You can buy the whole collection HERE

  • 2pm Game: Little Miracles, written by Al Smith (run by Al Smith)
I love me some Al Smith. If you've never met him or played with him, you're very much missing out. Set up in the Lurking Fears room, Al wrote and ran his scenario "Little Miracles," which is one of several scenarios geared towards being played in a single night. It's from an upcoming Chaosium publication and that's literally all I can say about that. 

Our game began in media res and that was all to the good. We all played members of two separate (but involved) families hunting down a missing woman (daughter to one family, daughter-in-law to the other) through a wooded landscape and everyone seemed to have a blast...though I'll say the minor horrors we ran into helped add to the fun. My character died pretty gloriously via tentacled grip popping his head off his neck like a grape. Very satisfying! 


For dinner, myself, Doc, Samantha & Nathan Pidde, and our friend Towie all took a jaunt down the street to an absolutely FANTASTIC Mexican spot called Tmaz Taqueria saddled next to the gas station nearby. The food was unbelieveably cheap and unreal delicious. 

When we returned to the hotel, there was a showing of "The Whisperer in Darkness," a film adaptation of the Lovecraft story created by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. I BADLY wanted to see this as I had to miss the viewing of "The Call of Cthulhu." The HPLHS create some really amazing props for the games and do a phenomenal job of creating other various Lovecraftian items. 

The movie itself won't win any awards, but I loved the hell out of it. I thought it was great, even though the third act is a some places. But really, it was such a fun experience that I bought a few of the HPLHS DVDs as soon as I got home. The movie was a great watch and, having honestly never read much Lovecraft (I know, I know...shaddup), it was an excellent standalone flick that had some fun reveals. 

After the movie, more drinks and cigars were had around another fire pit, though this one far less populated as many people had already gone to bed, what with it being so late and the bar being closed. 


  • 9am Game: Field of Screams, written by Al Smith (run by Al Smith)

"Yet another perfect game," as Al likes to say at the end of his sessions. And this was definitely a great one. We played traveling baseball players gearing up for a game in a small town where we had to convince the town to show up because they all believed the field to be haunted. 

I can't give too much more away than that for fear of ruining your possible future session, but we ended up in a completely different society and my character, having realized the stakes at the moment, decided to stay put and blow himself up so everyone else could escape. Another great end to a game! 

Al's got multiple scenarios up for sale at DriveThruRPG, but you can purchase "Field of Screams" HERE

(Picture totally stolen from Matt 'Doc' Tracey)

  • 2pm Game: UNLAND, written by Scott Dorward (run by Matt 'Doc' Tracey)
Another great Scott Dorward-written game, this time run by Doc (who I've played alongside, but have never had a game run by). Like a number of great scenarios, this one hinges on the regrets and bad behaviors of its characters. Another missing friend prompts those of us who know him to seek him out at a local carnival spot that's been run down for years...FUNLAND (though the 'F' has fallen off the sign). 

Every character came with particular dark parts of their background and were supposed to address them, but...sometimes the dice give you a different story, and sometimes that story is far darker than you originally intended. And this is what happened to my character, who never escaped the dilapidated park, but instead became part of the park like some demented tour guide meant to befuddle and confuse. 

If you're starting to see a theme in how I play, yes...I love to lean into the tragedy, I love to lean into the dark. I love to make the bad decisions that lead to the horrific happenings because while I'm not afraid of the dark, I am most definitely afraid of what lies hidden inside it. 

"UNLAND" is also from Stygian Fox's fantastic collection Fear's Sharp Little Needles, and you can buy the whole collection HERE


Final Thoughts: I'm a massive fan of ChaosiumCon. Maybe it's more niche than most cons, but I don't care. That's actually kind of why it's such a draw for me. I love the content the company puts out, I love the people I've gotten to meet in the process (both as employees of the company and those who simply love their games), and I have had an exceptional time both years. So yeah...very much looking forward to year three. 

If you've never been, I'd highly recommend it if you're a fan of horror or horror games. I ended up meeting quite a few new people last year and that number only increased exponentially this year. 

"Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, 
and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in 
crime, perversion, and insanity." 

- H.P. Lovecraft



  1. Great post! It was a wonderful con, and I'm so glad we got to meet and play in so many games together. I look forward to doing it all again!

    1. Likewise, brother! Maybe we'll get to play in more than 3 games next time! :P

  2. Great playing with you! The scenario, Penetralia, isn't available at present. Should feature in the collection Mansions of Madness vol.2, but that won't be out for a while yet.

    1. Likewise, sir! Fantastic game and I can't wait to run it for my own table! Glad to hear it'll be in the next MoM, which I'm VERY ready to consume!


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