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[Table] IamA 97 y.o. Australian WW2 Veteran who fought in Papua New Guinea and these days I still make wooden wheelbarrows and clocks for people almost every day AMA!

Verified? (This bot cannot verify AMAs just yet)
Date: 2013-12-28
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Questions Answers
What is your most vivid memory from WW2? Good or bad. Don was a mate of mine, he came around the night before and he said he was going out to Long Ridge the next day. I said be careful, Long Ridge was a strong post of the Japanese, they were all dug in. They had plenty of gun fire there and everything, and he went out there to clean them out he reckoned.
But he got hit. In the side of the face. He had all of his face taken out on his right side. But he had an Owen gun and he kept his senses and a Japanese soldier had come to kill him and he shot the Japanese soldier at point blank range and the Japanese soldier had fallen over his chest.
I had just come back from another patrol and Jake Farrow said to me that Colin Diffey was looking for me. He was our boss. I went down to see him and he said "you can say yes or no to this, I would hate to send you out there, but would you go out to Long Ridge and see if you can find Don?"
So I went out to where the other soldiers were from the platoon that Don was in and asked would anyone help me. They said "you're bloody mad, you'll get killed!"
I said I'll go on my own then.
So I got them to tell me where they thought he was. I went out on my own and located him and I found Don and he had a dead Jap across him. Don had accidentally put another bullet through his own leg, I didn't know that yet though. I figured that if Don saw me he might think that I was another Japanese soldier and shoot me too, so I circled around him and came up behind his shoulder. I got right up to him and I said "Don, it's Norm".
He said "Thank Christ for that. I knew someone would come out to get me so I stopped here".
I said "Well you're going to stop where you are and you're going to leave the dead Jap on your chest and I'm going to get some help to go and get you."
When I got back, I said to the others, "I've found Don and I need some help to bring him back in."
I said "Who's coming?"
I wanted seven blokes. I had no trouble getting them.
So we turned around and we went straight out to get him. It took about 20 minutes to get there through the jungle. We found him again and he was conscious and speaking to us.
I said "we'll put you on a stretcher and carry you in."
Don said "I can walk!"
He reckoned he could, but he couldn't.
So bringing him back we ran into a Japanese patrol and they opened up on us with machine gun fire. A "woodpecker" gun. They killed 3 of our soldiers.
We found a bomb hole to get down into and surrounded Don and picked off the Japanese when we saw them. This went on 15 minutes, with exchanges of fire before the Japanese cleared out. I suppose there could have been around a dozen Japanese. We picked off about 5 or 6 of them. I was trying to look after Don as best as I could.
Once it was nightfall, we got back to the Danmap River and went up the river to our base. It was about chest high in the river.
Our Colonel Stacey Howdon was there and I said I am prepared to take him down to hospital there.
He said "No, you're finished, you've had enough for today. Is there anything you want?"
I said no.
"No".
"Do you want a beer?"
"No".
"Do you want a cigarette?"
"Yes." I smoked back then.
He gave me a tin of 50 Craven A's and I kept that tin with me the whole war and still have it.
After that I went back to where our blokes were camped. That was the end of that day. All in a day's work.
Don was put in hospital and operated on and had a plate put in his face, then they sent him back to Australia. He was operated on when he was back in Australia and he died during that operation. But he made it back to see his family. I met his son Wayne a couple of years ago at an ANZAC Day parade. He never saw his father as his mother was pregnant when Don died. Wayne wrote me a lovely letter.
That was the most vivid experience. I had nightmares about it for many years but more recently I am a lot better.
*Grandson's note: I asked about whether he was decorated for the rescue mission. Apparently one of his CO's, Snowy Coulson saw him years later and asked where his medals for that action were as he had sent in a citation. But apparently it got lost in the system somewhere. Pop said " I don't know what happened there, I just told him 'forget about it'."
Don is a fucking lunatic, I love him. Don was a good bloke and very brave. Here are some pictures of him.
Picture 1: Don on the ship with a monkey.
Picture 2: Don with the local kids.
You're not from Echuca are you? And have a grandson named Justin? If so, Merry Christmas! Working at your store was my first job! Merry Christmas! Yes, that's me. Who is that? (Could you PM who you are? He is inquisitive to know!)
What goes through your mind when you realize you've lived for nearly a century? Do you have a favorite decade? "It's a pretty good life I've had!"
The 1970's were great. My business was going well, I got to see my children and grandchildren growing up, I went to England and Europe with my wife and we visited many places. I enjoyed when we went to Sweden, I visited the Ikea factory and met Ingvar Kamprad and he even offered me to start Ikea in Australia. I didn't think Australia was quite ready for that yet so I didn't take him up but enjoyed seeing what Ikea was doing. I also visited Husqvarna and at the Huskvarna factory I helped them select the colours of sewing machines that sold well in Australia.
Back home I opened a big shop in Echuca and bought a new home in our town which was very nice.
What was your approach to running your business(es) and handling your people. how did you build your success? I used to see who got permits to build places in town and approach them before they got built - they would need furniture so it was good to go and see them at that time. My opposition thought I was a bit crazy to see them so early, but when they went to see those people in town they would say they had already bought their furniture from me!
Is the shop in Echuca still there? My girlfriend is from there so I go down a fair bit. The big shop on the highway is now owned by someone else and is still a furniture shop.
The shop on Hare St and Pakenham St is still there and Just Jeans, Ghanda and Sage are in there now. The Forty Winks and Dollar Curtains down further on Hare St I still share with my family.
You're awesome norm! does he have any advice he can give a 20 year old about life, given his vast experiences? also, it's 2 am here so here's some luck that you're ama takes off! Thank you sciencemax! That was nice to say I am awesome. Have respect for your elders, be honest, talk to people who have good manners and treat everyone as you would like to be treated yourself. Where are you from?
Thanks for your service Norm. How would you best describe the difference in the feelings you have towards the conflict between then and now? I couldn't understand the Japanese at the time. I was offered to go to Japan after the war but I said no. I couldn't understand the things that the Japanese had done in the war.
It was a job and I had to do it.
These days I think that I would be nice to the young Japanese, but to be honest I haven't had a lot to do with them. It's been hard to let go.
What clock are you working on now? What's your favorite one you've made? What tools do you use and what do the guts look like? Do you buy them premade or do you make them? I am making a clock which is a Murray River redgum burl. First I cut it into shape and smooth it off by sanding it. I use a router to cut the inside to fit the works in. I make a base up and bevel the edges and sand it up too. Once I assemble it all, I spray lacquer and polish it further. I use pre-made clockwork and numbers but they come up nicely. I also brand them with my name on the back. I got a first prize in the Royal Melbourne show for one of my clocks and a third prize for one of my wheelbarrows. I sell them for less than it costs me to make them because I enjoy seeing other people's smiles when they receive them. Thanks for your question, do you make clocks as well?
Edit There's some pictures in this post here. Thanks for taking an interest.
What keeps you going so strong? Any secrets? Thank you for your question. I just want to be able to help people and see the smiles on their faces when the job is finished. Having something to do each day keeps me going.
Hi Norm! How did you interact with the local tribes and how did they react to having you there? Very good, I got on well with them. We used to treat them very well, we would give them some of our supplies, "kai kai" they would call it.
At first I didn't know whether I could trust my assigned Fuzzy Wuzzy, Simon, and he had said one day that he knew a shortcut for our patrol. I did not know him at first or whether he might be working with the Japanese so I let him go out in front where I could see him and if there were any Japs there he would be the first one shot at. We never struck any. They looked after us and seemed to react well to us.
Simon was a very nice bloke. He went on a walkabout once and disappeared. I was on a patrol once and he jumped out behind me. I said "where have you been?!" and he said I've been out to catch "Mary" - that means "a wife" in their language!
If I could say it to him, I would say thanks for being a great friend and thanks for all he did for me. He meant a lot to me and I often told my family about him. Thanks for your question.
Whatever happened to Simon? I don't know unfortunately. When I went back to PNG in 1995 he had passed away, but we found his grandson. His grandson was a school teacher in Wewak I think it was.
What is, would you say, the biggest difference from 1940's to present time of the policies and services put in place to help reintegrate disabled veterans into productive society? I think they are doing it a bit better now. The counselling and help from Veterans Affairs now would have been helpful back then.
Is there one in particular that you have witness develop in the almost 70 years since? When I got home, my employer was supposed to keep my job open for me, but didn't so I went into business myself in opposition to them and they went broke! So it was a mixed blessing, but it's good they help people now with things like that.
What improvements to would you have made back then in regards to what you know now? Our ANZAC Day marches are well supported so the recognition and support from the public helps too.
This one comes from a little bro: When you fought, did you sympathise for your enemy at any point? How did you feel? It was a matter of "if you didn't get them, they'd get you". So I didn't really sympathize with them, we tried to keep it out of our mind. The chap when I did jungle training school at Canungra in Queensland said "Now remember young fella, it's either you or him so make sure you get in first."
So we got good at not thinking about those things. It's like a survival instinct.
How do you think the treatment of soldiers for ptsd has changed since ww2? Thank you for your service and your question. We never got any treatment. No counselling or debriefing. We just got on with it and I was too busy with my businesses, I had 4 furniture shops. But I had nightmares for a long time afterward.
Iraq/Afghanistan veteran US Army. I think they have better services these days and my grandson is applying to work as a psychologist in the Australian Defence Force to help with this. We started talking about my experiences when he was about the same age as when I went to war and I think it has helped. I don't get the nightmares I used to but I still dream about my experiences sometimes.
Thank you. I know nothing I was put thorough comes close to the extremes you faced, but re finding normal is hard and it is good to hear people make it. Especially with what little resources you were given. *Note from grandson - thanks for your words, it meant a lot to him. Thank you for what you have done and know that a lot of people are thankful for your efforts and I hope in time things will get progressively better compared to where you have been. Wishing you well from Australia.
Share one brief aboriginal story? I don't have an aboriginal story, but I have one about Simon, who was my "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel" in Papua New Guinea. Simon wanted to pinch a photo of my daughter that my wife had sent over to me and I had a job getting it back off him! "Picanninny!" he would say.
This is a really long shot... but my grandfather fought in the 8th battalion of the 6th Division of the Australian Army in WWII in PNG, but I don't know specifically where (he died a few years ago). I think he might have been a sergeant. My Grandmother was over there, too, as a nurse, but I have no idea which division she was with. If I PM you their names, could you ask Norm if either name rings any bells? Please do.
Thank you for serving! What's been the greatest moment of your life? I answered another one a bit like this - my wedding day and being awarded an OAM are up there along with the births of my children.
Who has been Australia's worst Prime Minister? Thanks for the question, but I think I should leave this one.
I'm using a throwaway for security reasons (which may be overkill, but anyone in ADF service knows how anal any COC is about social media) I am quite interested and read my Mufti magazine every month. I have served Legacy for 52 years and I speak to other legatees about what they are doing welfare wise. I don't have much involvement with today's soldiers personally though.
Do you keep up to date with Army affairs? I enjoyed it as much as I could. I would have preferred not to have needed to be there.
Did you enjoy your period of service overall? 3.Yes, I used to be with them most of the time, there were a few of us all in Echuca from the 2nd/8th and I always went to the ANZAC marches and caught up with my cobbers. I think there are only 12 of us from the 2nd/8th left.
Did you keep in close contact with your fellow soldiers? I don't think so. We cared for each other a lot, my cobbers were there to protect me and I was there to protect them. That bond is very strong and the movies and T.V. probably get that right.
Is the public perception of the relationships between soldiers in combat in WW2 highly glamourised? No I think they should have kept their nose out of it and let them fight amongst themselves. I supported the individual Aussie soldiers that were over there but I am glad they are home now.
What do you think of the ADF's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade? Do you agree with our involvement? 6.In practice, a Vickers, but we didn't have them in our Battalion, the 2nd/3rd Battalion used those. In combat, a Bren gun which was very useful and easy to handle in the jungle. I also fired a 25 pounder artillery cannon but that was just at jungle school.
What was the most powerful weapon you ever fired? What's yours?
What was your best grouping at 100m? I wish you well, the Chocos like Les Dick that came to us were good soldiers. We called them Chocos because we thought they would melt in the sun like chocolate soldiers. But they didn't.
Did you ever serve with or know a Jack Trembath who was in PNG at the same time? With the 7th I believe. No I'm afraid I didn't. I think they might have been at Lay somewhere?
Hello from the States. I'd be interested in seeing some pictures of your clocks, can you post any? There's some pictures in this post here. Thanks for taking an interest and hi back.
I've heard that the Bren LMG had incredible accuracy, any tales about it? The Bren was a very good gun. It was very accurate and great because it was a light machine gun that you could carry over your shoulder and shoot from the hip. It had a magazine with 10 bullets in it.
I had a great-great Uncle who was a coast watcher in New Guinea during the war, did you have an experience with them? I wasn't on Kokoda but I went back to Papua New Guinea in 1995 with my Daughter and old mates from the 2nd/8th. It had changed all together. It was amazing how the jungle had grown back and the buildings had been erected. A fair bit of development. The people were very friendly. It was a bit emotional going back to places where I fought. Here's some pictures of me on my return to PNG. Picture 2: These rusted motorbikes were captured by the Japanese in Singapore and then they were using them in New Guinea. The Australians recaptured them there in New Guinea and the Australians left them there. We stopped at I think it was Madang, there was Coast Watchers Hotel there. We didn't have much time to talk to them unfortunately.
Amazing life Norm! Thank you so much for everything you've done for us. Thank for your words. I had a laugh at your username. I quite enjoy the Chiko Roll, though they are a bit hard on my teeth these days. My teeth aren't too good.
What is your stance on the chiko roll? Are you pro or con the little corn filled parcel? Thank you for your words. I had a laugh at your username. I quite enjoy a Chiko Roll, though they are a bit hard on my teeth these days as my teeth aren't too good.
I do have a couple of questions. MacArthur never came to New Guinea that I know of, he was the boss of the South West Pacific (our region) and I thought he was a good General. I didn't hear any ill spoken of him.
Was Douglas MacArthur your theater commander? If so, do you recall how you and your mates felt about him? We were worried about the Japanese invading in 1941 and 1942, reinforcements and preparations were made and camps popped up around the coast of Australia to train infantry in case of invasion. The threat of Japanese invasion was one of the main reasons I enlisted along with what I had heard the Japanese had been doing. It had to be stopped.
Before Japanese expansion was stopped in 1942 it looked as though Australia would be invaded. What was it like in Australia during that time? Thank You I think people were a bit scared of a Japanese invasion and the Darwin bombing reinforced that a bit.
What is your diet? I mean what do you eat on daily basis to keep you in such good health with such longevity? I understand phsyical activity is a big part of it all. What I want to know is what you eat on a daily basis? Thank you, sir. These days I in the morning I have porridge and toast with marmalade and some fruit with a cup of tea. I have a variety of pills, which include paracetamol and fish oil. Lunch I often have soup, maybe some fruit and often some meat and vegetables. For dinner, I have whatever is cooked, often some fish or chicken or meat or pasta. I have a cup of tea with every meal and I like cappuccinos too.
But I love Chinese food, especially lemon chicken with the batter not too tough along with special friend rice.
Every night I eat some chocolate before bed, and I rub my legs in with Elmore oil.
My grandson says I don't drink enough water especially when I've been working in the shed in the heat and won't take off my cardigan.
Hi Norm, from Christchurch New Zealand. Thanks for being a really cool cat! We are so lucky to have you. Have you made many ink blotters? Did you receive your special ink blotter back? I made the two ink blotters, I sent one home to my wife and the one that was used was sent to Canberra to the Australian War Memorial. It's still there and you can see it if you visit. I never made another one, just wheelbarrows and clocks these days (I used to make rocking horses too). Thanks for your words.
Norm what do you have for brekky? This morning I had porridge, fruit, toast and marmalade and a cup of tea. And lots of pills they give me. 10 of them for breakfast, I think they keep me alive!
Being a bit of a WWII "fan" (i guess youd call it that. ive always been really interested in WWII history), i would like to personally thank you for your service and the sacrifices you made to serve. What was it like? What went through your mind when you were on the front lines? And i think as my final question, What other kind of wood work do you do and could you upload some pictures of it? Thanks in advance for your time. Keeping alive and looking after yourself was what was on my mind. You just didn't want to be shot. You never had much time off, even when you were not in direct combat you were always looking after your gun, cleaning up, sentry duties and other things to prepare.
Even free time you would do things like making brooches with battalion colours out of 2 shilling pieces with clips put on the back of them - you couldn't make enough of them. We made colour patches out of the handles of tooth brushes. Pretty fine work, but I enjoyed it. It was about doing things for your mates to keep your spirits up.
Here is a post with some pictures of my woodwork.
, thank you for your service! What did you think of the Yanks? Did they behave themselves while stationed in Australia?? The ones that I met behaved themselves. I thought the Yanks were quite good blokes, they were good soldiers and had plenty of equipment. Our Battalion didn't do a lot with the yanks though they gave us clothing to wear which we were in need of. They helped us a bit with supplies and air cover as well.
Hello mr. Knopp. Hello. I didn't know your grandfather unfortunately but my grandson has had a search and might have found his service records for you.
My grandfather lost his life on the Kakoda trail, I'm not sure what battalion or squadron he was in, but does the name "Edward Thorne" ring a bell? Thanks mate *Grandson: Was your grandfather from London originally? There is only one Edward Thorne listed KIA that I can find, and his service record can be found here. This Edwarde Thorne was part of the 2nd/31st Battalion who were on Kokoda. Hope this gives you a place to start.
That's him!! Than you so much for this!! I wall pass this on to my grandma, You're welcome, glad we could help!
Thank you very, very much Norm for your service. I have a lot of respect for you and other veterans, and I just want to express my thanks as a Canadian. My grandfather fought for Canada and the Allied Forces in World War Two and he fought in Europe, and he pursued carpentry as a hobby before and after the war. Have you been to another country for vacation and memories to share with others? If you hadn't fought in the war, would you have remained a carpenter? I was in the furniture business before I went in the war and enlisted from there and returned to the same trade when I came home. I have enjoyed building and refurbishing furniture throughout the time I was in business and even today. Your grandfather sounds a bit like me, we'd probably get on well. Was he in the Normandy landings?
What were your concerns about the war in europe? Did you have any througts about it at all? Just like what the Japanese were doing in the Pacific, I thought what the Nazis were doing was ridiculous treating those poor buggers like that. It wasn't human.
This is a long shot. But my dad had similar flashbacks (to the ones you mentioned about your buddy Don) from his time in Northern Ireland and general service in the armed forces. He's been diagnosed with PTSD and is slowly receiving the help he needs. I know it's comforting for people in his boots to read something like this and to know that other people have reactions like this. I just wanted to ask how you were able to cope better with these nightmares. Are there any coping mechanisms you developed? More recently the nightmares have stopped. Even after talking here about my war service all day, I had no nightmares last night. Talking with my loved ones has helped but I don't know exactly what helped. *Grandson: I've talked a lot with Pop about his experiences, but with an emphasis on accepting that he did all he could do, did the best he possibly could, had the right intentions, and went through an extraordinary situation which, if it weren't for him and brave men like him, who knows what might have prevailed. He seems to have gained acceptance that what he did is something really extraordinary. Definitely talk with professionals and read professional advice on dealing with PTSD as a family supportively, it can help immensely.
What is your favorite wheel of cheese? I ask because some people who have a favorite cheese might not enjoy the same cheese in such large quantity. I like cheddar cheese. Tasty cheese.
I have significant interest in the Pacific War. My question is about the war attitude back in Australia. What were the main concerns people had? Did the public share a strong sense of nationalism? I think the people appreciated the Australian soldiers' efforts. We did get a lot of support from the public who did it tough back home but didn't really complain. I think there was a sense of sticking together as Australians. We were given a big welcome back picnic in Echuca when I came home and did feel appreciated.
Were people generally happier -say before the war- than they are now? And if, why do you think is that? I was happy before the war and happy after. I think it's about the same in terms of most people.
Here's a media article from 1945 which talks about Norm, from his local paper. Thank you for posting this, where abouts are you from? I have a clipping of this but it is the first time my grandson has seen it.
*Grandson says "all guts and brains" sounds right.
Do you march in Melbourne every year? I used to, but I am too old now and the last couple of years I have gone to the ANZAC March in Echuca in my wheelchair with my family. I will be there again in April I hope, 10 days after I turn 98.
Any pictures of Norm's award winning woodwork? There are some pictures in this post.
Did you ever meet a swagman camped in the billabong under the shade of a Coolabah tree? No, but I am guessing that he sang as he watched and waited for his billy to boil?
What do you enjoy doing most right now? Making 'barrows and clocks. It keeps me busy and happy.
Thank you for doing this! My grandfather fought alongside you with Cn & Hq of the 41st Infantry Division. Do you have any recollection of interactions with them? I don't remember the 41st Battalion up in New Guinea, where were they stationed? I remember the 39th though, they were up on the Kokoda Trail.
Hi Norm. I recently joined the US army. Any advice for a new soldier? Obey your orders, use your initiative, look after your equipment and have good mates. I wish you well. Stay safe.
We're you ever in Biak? My father in law was stationed there following being at Amberly field where he was a b-24 mechanic. he wrote a book about being in Australia and New Guinea, with photographs. No I wasn't there, Biak island was up in West Papua, I was on the North East side of Papua New Guinea.
What do you like on your pizza? Some tomato sauce and chutneys I guess. I like them pretty plain.
How many Paupas did you kill? We didn't kill any, they were our friends and saved our lives.
Can...I have a clock? What for? You can join the queue though.
Do you have any info on the infamous Island of Remree slaughter? A thousand armed Japanese killed overnight by crocodiles...Fascinating. No, I have never heard of it sorry.
Happy New Year! ~photocyclone. Thank you very much! How did you do that? I really like the picture and you got the colouring just right. My grandson printed it off for me, here's a picture of me with your great work.
Hey! Awesome! I used the magic known as photoshop. I'm really not that good, but there are a lot of great tutorials on youtube. Well I think you really are that good!
You're a great person for doing this. I bet it brings him a lot of joy It did! I have written back with a picture of me below.
I hope we get to know he saw this. I did. It made me very happy and I couldn't believe a stranger would do this for me. It is very kind.
Terrific job - you got the jungle greens just the right shade of green (anyone who has worn them for any length of time knows what I'm saying). They did get the colour right.
Money at age 97 buys you very little... "That's very true"
How do you see the world in 30 years I don't know! I hope that all wars are finished. I hope they realise that no one gains from war.
Thank you for these photos! This is really beautiful work. Also: Thank you so much for doing this. Your warmth and good spirit lift right off the screen, and you've brightened my day. Thank you for your service, as well--and for the the perspective you've given on WWII. Thank you for your kinds words.
Last updated: 2014-01-01 22:11 UTC
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submitted by tabledresser to tabled

Curse of Strahd - A Call of Cthulhu Rewrite: Investigators and General Mechanics Changes

So today we'll be getting into the most important part of any RPG; who the players will be playing as. I'll be going over some of the roles a CoC party will need while in Barovia, as well as a few necessary changes to the rules that come about from transferring a campaign over to a different system.
Note: This post was written with the expectation that a reader has at least a passing understanding of the rules for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. If you don't know the basics and don't have access to the Keeper's Rulebook, I would highly recommend giving a read of the Quickstart Rules, which can be found here. They're freely distributed by Chaosium, and can give you enough knowledge for almost everything I'll discuss today. Additionally, go here to get a copy of the Cthulhu Dark Ages character sheet, which is the sheet I'll be using for the purposes of the rewrite. If you wish extra clarification beyond these documents, please purchase the Keeper's Rulebook, and either Cthulhu Through the Ages or Cthulhu Dark Ages. These books will be enough to get you through the entire rewrite, as well as allowing full access to Call of Cthulhu.
STAT CHANGES
Intro Post
The Cthulhu Way
Backstory
The New Valley
Campaign Structure
Strahd's New Stats
Arc 1/2 Travel Encounters
Village of Barovia
Tser Pool
Old Bonegrinder
Vallaki NPCs
Vallaki First Impressions
Vallaki Arabelle

The Investigators

  • The Where and When
    • As I've mentioned before, I'm setting the campaign in Wallachia, 1480, 3 years after the death of Vlad Dracula. Wallachia is currently in a very politically unstable position with many powers, both within and outside the country, vying for control of the land.
    • Investigators may have served in one of the many conflicts Wallachia has had over the last few decades, which may influence their opinions of Dracula, and by extension, Strahd, once they learn of his former allegiance.
    • The spoken language is Romanian, and the common religion was Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Additionally, few commoners in Wallachia were literate at the time. As the Dark Ages sheet suggests, I would highly recommend having some investigators put skill points into the ability to read and write, but perhaps not everyone. It makes your scholar characters a lot more important if only they can read the evidence.
  • A Different Setting
    • If you feel like it, you could run a Cthulhu CoS game using a different time period than the one I'm suggesting. Since time in the Dreamlands can act very strangely, Barovia doesn't even need to be affected at all, and the rewrite can still be used.
    • Other than medieval Wallachia, the two settings that would be the most enticing to me would be the Victorian era Cthulhu by Gaslight or the classic 1920s that most CoC games are set in. It could help give a feeling reminiscent of the original Dracula novel, and managing resources they brought with them like modern day ammunition for guns could add an extra element to the campaign. However, I wanted to capture as much of the medieval style from the original campaign as possible, so that's why I went with the 15th century.
  • The Who
    • I would recommend that none of the investigators begin wealthy. Payment is an easy plot hook to get them travelling in the first place, and that's harder if they don't need anything. Some might be from disgraced nobility that backed the wrong side in Wallachia's recent conflicts, so if you have a player that would still like to be from a higher class, that's how I'd do it.
    • If you want to tailor-make the intro for your players, make sure the investigators have a good reason to leave home for what they think is a small trip. A thirst for knowledge, a missing family member, a desire for glory. If they have something like that, it can make the campaign much more enriching.
  • The How Many
    • I think 4 players is still the sweet spot for a campaign like this. With as much roleplaying as can get on in CoS, it's easier with a small group to give everyone a little time in the spotlight. You could theoretically go lower as well, since balancing combat is less concerning now. However, if you're gonna go above 5, be prepared, because it might be hard to balance out everyone's time without ignoring someone.
    • Because 4 is the ideal number, I've made 4 basic occupations for the campaign that cover the bases of what roles are expected in the campaign. I've also listed the 8 skills that they should get from their occupations in each of their summaries. These skills are just recommendations and don't have to be set in stone if a player wants something else.
    • Also, mix and match these roles together. Who's to say that that your team fighter doesn't know a bit about the occult, or that a thief knows how to treat a wound? The joy of a skill based system like CoC is that you aren't restricted to just an archetype, and the investigators can be freely customised. Have some fun with it, and make something unique!
  • The Scholar
    • The most valuable weapon in any CoC game is information, and this is the guy to get it. Odds are they work for a church or school of some kind, and can help the group with their knowledge of the occult, religion and one day, maybe even the Mythos.
    • Don't let your player feel bad about playing the nerd character, they'll be the one to save them more than any other, even if it wasn't physically. The original Van Helsing was a professor after all.
    • Occupation Skill Points: EDU x4
    • Recommended skills are: Library Use, Natural World, Occult, Own Kingdom, Own Language (Romanian), Read and Write (Romanian), Religion and Science (any subtype)
  • The Thief
    • Thief might be too strong of a word. Anyone that has experience hiding, getting into places they shouldn't and getting out alive can qualify. Considering all the conflict in Wallachia, they may just be homeless and are trying to stay alive. Alternatively, they might be a spy for one of the many individuals competing for power in Wallachia.
    • You can fully expect your thief archetype in the party to be breaking into people's homes and getting their hands on stuff belonging to the bad guys. With combat now much riskier, breaking down the front door is less viable, making sneaking a very fun option. I would actually recommend having all of the investigators have some points in Stealth. Not as much as the thief, but enough to get by.
    • Occupation Skill Points: DEX x2 + INT x2
    • Recommended skills are: Dodge, Insight, Listen, Locksmith (it's not on the Dark Ages sheet but you can add it in), Sleight of Hand, Spot Hidden, Stealth and one interpersonal skill (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate or Persuade)
  • The Warrior
    • When all else fails, sometimes you really just have to stab something. This guy is probably a mercenary, soldier or hunter, and will be the one everyone hides behind when things get scary. That doesn't mean they can stop the problem, but they can try.
    • This might seem weird to say, but cautious players are best of the fighting types in CoC. Gung-ho players are only going to get themselves killed. 95% in a sword skill means nothing if that sword can't actually hurt the monster. Just like in real life, the best warriors are the ones who know when to not fight.
    • Occupation Skill Points: STR x2 and DEX x2
    • Recommended Skills are: Climb, Dodge, Two Fighting subtypes, First Aid, Spot Hidden, Track and one interpersonal skill (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate or Persuade)
  • The Handyman
    • An overlooked role is someone who is just skilled out in the world. Sure, the scholar may know how to read and research, but for practical stuff, get this guy. More than likely a farmer, merchant or craftsman, the Handyman can get a group out of a lot of binds.
    • There are a lot of skills that the Handyman can use, which can lead to a lot of variety, but the one I'm building here is someone who travels a lot, selling wares and goods, giving him a lot of experience on the road and talking with people.
    • Occupation Skill Points: EDU x 2 + APP x2
    • Recommended Skills are: Drive Horse/Oxen, Insight, Listen, Natural World, Navigate, RepaiDevise, Two interpersonal skills (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate or Persuade)
  • The Status of Status
    • The Status skill in Cthulhu Dark Ages is used mainly to determine how easy it is to barter for items, as well as how well known an investigator is. Because Barovia is isolated from the rest of the world, it wouldn't make sense for investigators to use their Status score here.
    • Because of that, instead of assigning skill points to Status at character creation, just set their starting Status to 20 when they enter Barovia. This number should go up and down over the campaign as the investigators become more renowned for their deeds. If you want to use the characters once any survivors leave Barovia, feel free to give them a Status score fitting them, just don't let them waste skill points at the start. They'd feel pretty cheated if they used 70 points wanting to be rich and then losing it all later on.

Mechanics

We're in a different system than what CoS was written for, which means a few of the CoC mechanics need to be addressed to accommodate the campaign. Nothing's being changed rules-wise, but the system swap over will obviously have one or two quirks.
  • Ability Tests and Skill Rolls
    • This is a pretty simple one for a general case, but these are the levels of success I'd require from a CoC investigator when making a roll depending on how hard the DC number was for D&D
    • DC 13 or lower = Normal Success
    • DC from 14-19= Hard Success
    • DC 20 or higher = Extreme Success
  • Damage and Healing
    • CoC healing is a slow process, where it can take literal weeks to recover from a bad fight. Remember this, and allow for moments of downtime in safe areas to allow damaged investigators the time to heal.
    • Obviously Strahd won't just be waiting around while this happens. If the man's got plans of his own, have him put them in motion. If Wintersplinter is going to attack the Wizard of Wines in 3 days but the investigators need 10 to recover, the druids aren't going to just wait. Make it another thing the players have to consider when planning their next move.
  • Sanity
    • The loss of Sanity isn't something that is gained back quickly. It's even slower than healing from a wound, with it requiring weeks of basically relaxing to recover from indefinite insanity, sometimes even months.
    • Gaining extra Sanity points isn't easy either, but can be done by accomplishing the tasks throughout Barovia. I'll be detailing Sanity rewards at the end of every chapter once I get to each one. If you wish to add more, feel free.
    • In medieval times, things like magic were very much still believed in. Therefore, I would recommend the optional rule from Cthulhu Dark Ages to not require a Sanity roll for repeat viewing of monsters. That way you don't need to worry about them losing too many points for every skeleton they encounter.
    • Obviously it's not very engaging to say that the players hang around for months in St Andral's Church until they feel better, so I propose this additional mechanic. For each investigator that's indefinitely insane, at the end of each chapter that ended positively, have the investigator make a Sanity roll. If they pass, then they can recover from their indefinite insanity. That way, they don't have to go nuts every time something scary happens.
  • Pulp Cthulhu
    • Pulp Cthulhu is a fun extra supplement to CoC to give players an extra leg up. They get some pretty strong buffs and extra features that make fighting every problem directly much more manageable. I really like Pulp Cthulhu, but I'm gonna do the rewrite with classic CoC rules in mind. That being said, here are my recommendations for running CoS with Pulp Cthulhu.
    • Don't give the heroes double HP. It makes them too powerful to feel as weak as CoS clearly wants players to feel. If you really want to, also double the HP of key villains like Strahd to balance out fights.
    • Allow psychic powers, but not weird science. This is pretty clear. Crazy inventions don't really fit the tone of CoS but mystical connections can. You could even have a psychic player do the group's Tarroka reading!
    • Make sure everyone has 50 skill points in at least one combat skill, even if it's just Dodge. If you're playing Pulp, you're going to want fights anyway, so your players better be prepared for it.
  • Luck
    • Pulp or not, I would highly recommend allow the spending of Luck Points to improve rolls. It makes for an extra resource for players to manage, as well as making those bullshit rolls less unfair. If you use this rule, I would give out 1d10 of Luck to players every few sessions, plus extra points for good roleplaying and generally being impressive.
    • Again, non Pulp Keepers should still consider the use of the "Surviving Certain Death" rule from Pulp Cthulhu, where an investigator can spend every Luck point they have (provided they have at least 30) to survive a blow that would kill them. With the amount of things that can oneshot players, they'll be grateful for the "Get Out of Jail Free" card on that first mortal blow.
    • Pulp players can obviously use the full array of luck spending rules from the Pulp Cthulhu book.
And there we go. Now players can make some characters that will fit Barovia in a CoC world. Next time I'll be taking a look at the actual world of Barovia and how to expand it for the purposes of the rewrite.
submitted by Magikarp_Hunter to CurseofStrahd

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