A long time ago, when I was starting to get into Night’s Black Agents I had an important question on my mind: Did I mix my peanut butter with my delicious chocolate? Notably, do I start bleeding together the worlds of my Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents games? Trail of Cthulhu is a very deliberate, slow and highly investigative orientated game. Subsequently, GUMSHOE as presented in Trail is more about the discovery of terrible mysteries about the nature of man and the insane world locked behind the curtain of our minds. Night’s Black Agents takes a different approach, with the characters being more like the protagonists of a spy thriller. High tech gadgets, high speed chases and intense combat scenes against villains – human or vampiric – are the order of the day. Investigative skills tend to get toned down, or at least aren’t the inherent focus of the game.
But what if we genuinely combined these two excellent GUMSHOE systems together? My initial thought was making the two worlds I had created coterminous would be entirely logical, until I started doing it. What I quickly found was that there were aspects of my NBA campaigns that, quite frankly, didn’t fit with the slow methodical cosmic horror of Trail of Cthulhu. Most notably is the power disparity between the inherent antagonists of the two games: Vampires are kind of small time when placed against the mythos gods, which is emphasized even more when you start saying “Vampires and the Gods of the mythos are inherently linked”. In effect, making everything the result of mythos magic seemed to diminish vampires as the core antagonists of NBA.
That felt to me like I was losing a lot of what made Night’s Black Agents, by itself, a compelling game and experience. So I decided to separate my universes back into a set “Night’s Black Agents techno spy vampire thriller world” and “Trail of Cthulhu slow horrifying cosmic horror world”. After much thought, I considered if I had perhaps given up too easily and perhaps there was a lot of merit to the idea? One thing that stood out to me at the time, was how much my players were disappointed that I didn’t actually go ahead and do this. Most of my NBA and Trail of Cthulhu players were excited by the idea of having their Cthulhu and Vampire puddings mixed together. Here are some of my ideas that I have come up with on this issue, for your digestion as well.