Pt. 1- Greetings and Salutations
My first exposure to the world of Cthulhu was back in high school, when a friend of mine, Rick Winterstein, gave me a couple of H.P. Lovecraft books for X-Mas (one was "The Tomb"; I don't remember the title of the other one off the top of my head). Naturally, I thought it was some great horror, and though I thought his style of writing was a bit dry, he still managed to scare the shit out of me.
Fast forward to about 1993. During this time, I was hip-deep in both finishing up college, and the band I was in at the time, Here We Burn. The guitarist (and, to this day, still very good friend of mine) Aaron asked some of us if we wanted to participate in a roleplaying game called Call of Cthulhu. Now, I'd played plenty of RPG's in the past, including Traveller, Champions, Justice Inc., D&D, and others, but had stopped once I hit college. First was because I didn't have any time. Second was because I didn't know anyone anymore who was interested in playing. And third, I knew that if I started something up, it would be on my shoulders to run the fucking game (with the exception of Traveller, which my dad run, I had to GM every game I played).
At any rate, I was highly interested to jump back into gaming, and since Aaron was offering to run the game, and since I'd never forgotten those amazingly creepy stories by HPL (I've still got those books), I readily agreed to join the group, which consisted of our drummer Todd, Todd and Aaron's girlfriends, and a couple other friends. I'd created two characters, Thomas Brand (detailed below), and Sathington Willoughby III, a famed Oxford-educated Ph.D in psychology and parapsychology; a womanizer and drunk; an utter and complete coward; and yet, a character who managed to live through most adventures unscathed (usually because he was hiding in a car or somesuch, cowering with fright).
Alas, because of everyone's schedules, it was difficult to get the group together on a regular basis. If I remember correctly, we were able to complete one adventure (the first one that appears in the back of the CoC rulesbook), and we had started a longer campaign before the group stuttered, stumbled, and failed.
Still, in that relatively short time, I got exposed to the game system, and had created a couple of interesting characters. In addition, Aaron was a damn good Keeper, using well made props, candles and music to set the mood... techniques that I use today. I'd also purchased a copy of Escape From Innsmouth, a campaign that I wanted to run, but never got the chance to.
Fast forward again to Fall of 1998. My friend Duane informs me that he's in an RPG group, and would I be interested in joining? Answering in the affirmative, I sit in for a session. Bitten again by the RPG bug (I hadn't touched a game since those CoC sessions run by Aaron), I hop in to the game, which was a GURPS fantasy game in its latter stages. The group consisted of Duane, James, Maggie, Zero, Eric, and myself.
As the GURPS campaign was winding down, I started thinking about Call of Cthulhu again...even about running it. So I presented the idea to the group, and even though some of them hadn't even heard of Lovecraft, they all agreed to try it out.