Gatsby and the Great Race is an interesting if somewhat peculiar scenario that’s really only suitable for a convention game. To give you an idea of its scope, it’s built for up to 32 people; although there are rules for as few as six players and a Keeper. Inspired by the Great Gatsby, this scenario’s plot features Julian Gatsby at an afternoon garden party. Finding a time-traveling spell in his grandfather’s journal, Julian decides to make some money by jumping backwards in time. The time jump is only an hour, but it’s enough for Julian’s purposes.
With the death of Julian’s grandfather, he now owns a grand home with little money to support it. Julian’s brilliant idea is to gamble on a horse race, which just happens to be the same day as the housewarming party. Julian’s plight is that he’s stuck in a time loop. Once this becomes apparent, the scenario slowly devolves into a Groundhog Day plot, with the characters aware of the time shift slowly becoming unhinged with each repetition. The key to restoring the time distortion is a disc, pieces of which have broken and are scattered throughout the house.
This is a time travel scenario with three different scenes. Each time jump, the house changes subtly. The scenario, with its multitude of characters, plays more like a LARP or a dinner mystery. Because it’s a party, you could easily stage an actual party as a grand role-playing game, which might be a lot of fun.
To make the scenario even more crazy, multiple Keepers can each run a different table. In this case, each table represents an alternate reality, each with their own piece of the disc. Through a “possession” technique, different players playing the same character are reinserted into different tables, so that there is literally a new person in the same role. To really confuse people the players who are switching places can be blindfolded, although this seems like an unnecessary step. They can even switch characters entirely between tables, making for a hilariously confusing but entertaining evening.
The level of complexity staging such a scenario is tremendous – it’s on the scale of hosting your own True Dungeon, complete with a “Limbo” room for players between events, multiple Keepers playing various NPCs, and a coordinated schedule that requires them all to work together. You don’t just run a game like this on a whim.
Most Keepers will be interested in Chapter Three, the single game option. In comparison, Gatsby and the Great Race just doesn’t seem as much fun. And in case you’re wondering, the reference to the Great Race has nothing to do with the Great Race of Yith. This is about the horse race and time travel.
If there’s a problem with this scenario it’s that it has little to do with Lovecraftian Mythos. There’s really no ending advice on the conclusion of the scenario, other than that the partygoers are threatened by something large moving from room to room just before they return to normal time. There’s no statistics for whatever this is – recommendations include a dimensional shambler or an avatar of Nyarlathotep. “Whatever you choose, it should give the players a run for their money – some may die, and they will not come back to life this time!”
Well that’s great, but Keepers might want more advice as to how to wrap the scenario up. It’s clear Gatsby and the Great Race’s primary utility is as a convention scenario. It’s more Gatsby than Great Race.