Review of the Call of Cthulhu scenario First Night, written by Alex Guillotte and Ian Christiansen, the sixth scenario in the Grindhouse Collection.

First Night Review – Call of Cthulhu (Grindhouse)

Review of the Call of Cthulhu scenario First Night, written by Alex Guillotte and Ian Christiansen, the sixth entry in the Grindhouse Collection. You can read the text version of this review on  You can get the Grindhouse Ultimate Collection on DriveThruRPG.–Vol-13?affiliate_id=3534349 Thank you to Cryochamber for use of their album, Cthulhu.


A freeform scenario with a setting and situation like a mashup of Black Christmas, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Evil Dead, and tools to allow Keepers to be as subtle or bombastic as they desire.

Spoiler-lite for Players and Keepers:

First Night is the sixth Grindhouse scenario, as well as a quasi-sequel to another scenario, though it’s entirely standalone and I hadn’t run the precursor scenario before First Night. Like most of the Grindhouse series, First Night is heavy on the blunt and violent horror and light on any sort of subtle clue hunting, though it does have a longer build up than many of its sibling scenarios. It’s heavy on Keeper improvisation or pre-planning, but with plenty of setting descriptions and tools to help the Keeper along.

The scenario covers 22 VHS-sized 6×9 inch pages, with 11 pages of scenario text and stats, two pages of insert art, three pages of maps, and six investigator sheets. Alex Guillotte’s layout and design is as always top-notch. There isn’t much art to break up the text, but the stock art that is used meshes well, and the text is formatted with enough breaks and boxes to keep it easy on the eye. Grindhouse scenarios (and many of Alex’s other works) are organised differently from many other CoC scenarios; instead of a relatively linear telling of the ‘story’ or segmented descriptions by location, the scenarios have seven sections that break up the various cast, clues, events, and locations, etc. I really like this style in small scenarios, and it works well with First Night as well, though it’s starting to push the boundaries.

The setup and setting are instantly recognisable. A big 1980s sorority house on moving-in night. All the stereotype characters are present in a few NPCs or the six premade investigators, all of whom are good fun with roleplaying hooks to get a player in character. I do think the investigators could have used one extra detail, but more on that in the spoilers. I can’t get much more into the setting without spoilers, but it’s a fun one. If you need to get in the mood, watch Black Christmas. The actual scenario content isn’t the same, but it’ll set the atmosphere.

Overall, First Night is a great three or four hour romp, though a group could easily extend that. The atmosphere is top-notch, Keepers have plenty of tools and prompts to twist the scenario to fit their sadistic needs, and players can act out their favourite 1980s slasher girls. Well worth playing.

You can find First Night in the Grindhouse Ultimate Collection on DriveThruRPG (It is also available in Grindhouse Volume III if you already bought any of the individual volumes and don’t want to double up with the Ultimate Collection).

Before you go, maybe you would be interested in some of the below reviews or replays?
MJRRPG scenarios, Chaosium-released scenarios, Miskatonic Repository scenarios, Japanese scenarios




Spoilers Call of Cthulhu




First Night is a single location (sort of) and survival scenario. There are two ways to ‘win,’ either by surviving long enough or discovering a secret ritual. Combat at some point is very likely, and depending on your players and your GMing style this could be an all-out brawl from the middle section on.

The prelude is fairly short, getting players straight into the spookiness. A sorority has a moving in party at a big old house, and during the festivities finds a copyright-friendly witch-board and have a go for a lark. Unfortunately, using it communicates with a murderous wizard trapped in a pocket of the Dreamlands, and once the girls fall asleep they are pulled into his nightmare world. They have to survive for three hours, or find a hidden book and use a spell within it, to wake up safely. All the while they have to fend off fetches, twisted humans like Evil Dead’s deadites, and deal with the dream logic of the nightmare. Players could also leave the house, but will most likely get hunted down by fetches or simply get lost in an endless fog.

Keepers are given plenty of leeway with how to run the scenario. They could be coy with the reveal that the investigators are in a nightmare, very slowly adding hints things are off, and having the fetches stalk, taunt, then finally do hit and run attacks. Or if time is tight or the players are looking for a fight, the Keeper could launch all the fetches at the party early on, and keep the pressure continuous until they find the mythos tome containing a ‘wake-up’ spell or die.

There are some suggestions for how to make the world dreamlike, mostly in reference to outside the house. One addition that I’d think would be fun is to emphasise the nightmare in, well, a Nightmare on Elm Street sort of way by having the investigators’ personal fears manifest, either through the fetches or entirely separately. A Keeper could give each pregen a random or selected phobia, or they could ask the players to decide one before hand (or if everyone is comfortable and willing, use their own real-world fears). That could lead to classic scenes of a claustrophobic character (that’s me!) finding themselves in hallway that seems to be imperceptibly narrowing to the point they’re scrambling on their hands and knees, or a spheksophobic character (that’s also me!) opening a door or drawer to reveal a massive hive of bloated and angry wasps. It’s the Dreamlands, have fun with it.

The most interesting climax for the scenario in my opinion is finding a secret Mythos tome and casting a Wake spell within it. To make this work requires bending the rules a touch so the investigators don’t need to spend weeks or months reading the book or learning the spell, but instead can immediately attempt the spell. I do think Keepers should follow the regular rules for an initial casting of a spell though (KRB p.177, summary p.419), potentially making the Hard POW roll for successfully casting a spell the first time an Extreme POW roll to account for the investigators not know what the hell they’re doing. This would encourage Luck spending or Pushed rolls, giving the Keeper more ammunition to make things interesting as the investigators try to cast the spell on everyone while fetches or other nastiness rains down on them. It also means that a POW strong investigator may be more pressured to cast the spell on their friends rather than each investigator trying one by one, leaving the POW-heavy caster stuck with the choice of wasting all their MP on their friends or saving some for themself.

First Night is another fine addition to the Grindhouse Collection, and tons of fun to act out everyone’s favourite (or despised) 80s slasher trash, along with enough delightful tools for the Keeper to turn things on their heads.  

You can find First Night in the Grindhouse Ultimate Collection or Grindhouse Volume III on DriveThruRPG.

Before you go, maybe you would be interested in some of the below reviews or replays?
MJRRPG scenarios, Chaosium-released scenarios, Miskatonic Repository scenarios, Japanese scenarios

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