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So, let's say I wanted to start running Call of Cthulhu . . .


Other RPGs


For my entire gaming career I've heard tales of Call of Cthulhu, but have never played in nor ran a game of it. If someone were to get involved in CoC, are there any adventures or sourcebooks that are of particular use to a new Keeper trying to get his arms around the game?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Maps Subscriber

The first thing I'd recommend is the Call of Cthulhu Quickstart

That'll give you the basics of the rules and character creation, along with a sample adventure.

Then if you find it's something you like and want to keep going with, I'd recommend the Basic Rule Book (obviously) and the 1920s Investigator's Companion which gives you more information on the 20's, which is the default timeframe for CoC.


Geistlinger wrote:

The first thing I'd recommend is the Call of Cthulhu Quickstart

That'll give you the basics of the rules and character creation, along with a sample adventure.

Then if you find it's something you like and want to keep going with, I'd recommend the Basic Rule Book (obviously) and the 1920s Investigator's Companion which gives you more information on the 20's, which is the default timeframe for CoC.

Thanks for the quickstart, I hadn't turned that up yet.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

If you like the idea of investigating occult horror in the 1920s, Chaosium has a wide variety of adventures and sourcebooks you might want to check out.

For modern-day investigations, you don't overlook Pagan Publishing's Delta Green sourcebooks, which outline a variety of horrific modern threats. John Tynes' Delta Green scenario Convergence is an impressive piece of horror: One of my players had the doctor increase her anti-anxiety medication after I ran it.


Sir_Wulf wrote:

If you like the idea of investigating occult horror in the 1920s, Chaosium has a wide variety of adventures and sourcebooks you might want to check out.

For modern-day investigations, you don't overlook Pagan Publishing's Delta Green sourcebooks, which outline a variety of horrific modern threats. John Tynes' Delta Green scenario Convergence is an impressive piece of horror: One of my players had the doctor increase her anti-anxiety medication after I ran it.

I'm thinking I kind of like the 20s era feel if I were to run the game.

Contributor

Geistlinger nailed it for the 1920's essentials, I believe. The Investigator's Handbook is awesome in that it gives players an overview of the times and helps get them in the right frame of mind for creating investigators and getting them right. Lots of great historical info that is a fun read. And the Core book has just about everything else you need, including a few adventures.

I've two bits of advice.

1. I like to set (or at least start) my campaigns in Arkham at Miskatonic University, and the eponymous sourcebooks for the school (and the city) are two of my favorite CoC products, filled with hooks and plots at every corner and really bringing the setting to life. This gives players the chance to have investigators of widely mixed background (my last game began with a physics graduate student, a Russian immigrant janitor, a war veteran working as a cropduster for the university, and a newly-hired associate professor of divergent evolutionary pathology), and the university setting allows you to easily tie them in socially and professionally, and Arkham (the city where it is located) has a ton of detailed info as well, so you have a ready-made home base with tons of maps and info with just a couple of extra books beyond the first two mentioned. And they have adventures in them, too! Good stuff.

2. To start a campaign, I plan an adventure and a hook around each investigator. SO MANY published adventures start with "a relative of an investigator dies" or some similar forced hook. So, I pick the first four adventures I plan to run (which, for many CoC games, is as much of a "campaign" as you are likely to survive), and go ahead and set up the four simultaneous hooks, but water them down a bit to kill any sense of urgency or immediacy, allowing players to react naturally and go about getting things done in a sandboxy fashion, letting them investigate and pick up the pieces a little at a time while subtly sliding them into the adventure. For example, if an adventure starts with a relative dying, maybe begin instead with that relative sick, so a few sessions later when they do die and the real hook begins, it isn't such a cold open, and the PC knows who the heck this person was long before you spring it on them, and it doesn't feel as much like a cheap plot device. I find this sort of slow transition from "life as normal for all" to "what the HECK is going on" make for more effective horror in the end, because you are muddling the otherwise pretty linear plot of many of the published adventures.

My last aforementioned campaign had the hook for "The Crawford Inheritance" from Escape from Innsmouth assigned to the evolutionary pathologist, the "Books of Uncle Silas" adventure set up for the Russian Janitor, etc, etc. I just picked some favorites that made sense. I think the PC pursued two hooks at once for a session, but then traveled to Innsmouth and the trouble that awaited there. It all flowed very naturally and my players really got into their characters, making the horrific events all that much more powerful.

Just some thoughts!


Call of Cthulhu and the mythos have been transferred into a variety of game systems and settings.

I like elements of the original but personally don't like the skill system.

I've come to like Trail of Cthulhu as a system of rules that stresses the investigation more without the problems of the unlucky die roll missing important clues.

Several people like the Savage Worlds version of Call of Cthulhu if you are a fan of that system. It plays more pulpy but some people like the ability to have more of an Indiana Jones feel to their investigations.


Smerg wrote:

Call of Cthulhu and the mythos have been transferred into a variety of game systems and settings.

I like elements of the original but personally don't like the skill system.

I've come to like Trail of Cthulhu as a system of rules that stresses the investigation more without the problems of the unlucky die roll missing important clues.

Several people like the Savage Worlds version of Call of Cthulhu if you are a fan of that system. It plays more pulpy but some people like the ability to have more of an Indiana Jones feel to their investigations.

I understand what you are saying, and I've got a handle on Savage Worlds, at least a bit, from playing it, however, if I ever run a game, its likely to be at the FLGS, and I'm going to draw more players saying "I'm running a CoC game" than, "I'm running Savage Worlds Cthulhu" or "Trail of Cthulhu."

Contributor

Smerg wrote:

Call of Cthulhu and the mythos have been transferred into a variety of game systems and settings.

I like elements of the original but personally don't like the skill system.

I've come to like Trail of Cthulhu as a system of rules that stresses the investigation more without the problems of the unlucky die roll missing important clues.

I've learned over the years that despite game system, if a clue is vital to the progression of the game, it shouldn't be regulated to a die roll, which leaves the door open to failure. Doing so also kills any cinematic description or horror you can squeeze out of the revelation of the clue or information:

GM: "You crack open the musty tome of foul necromancy, it stiff pages not of vellum and ink, but of...wait...was your roll again?"

Player: "83%"

GM: "Oh. Yes...the pages seemed composed of...some sort of...weird, skin-like material you can't identify and weird blurry blue ink somehow pricked into the pages."

Player: "Tattooed human skin. Right, I get it."

GM: "Hmmm...you don't know that...you didn't make a high enough biology roll."

Player 2: "Can I have some of your Cheetos?"

Player 1: *tosses book aside that reveals everything* "Is there anything else in here? Any bullets?"

I think an important lesson to learn is to continue to move the plot forward when needed with proper assumption, relying on detail and description to make up for the subtraction of mechanical interaction. But that's just me! =-)


Tensor wrote:

Here is the 'CoC Quick Start Rules' .pdf:

  • http://www.chaosium.com/forms/coc_quick_start_color.pdf

    Here are a bunch of free Adventures you can download:

  • http://catalog.chaosium.com/fdm_folder_files.php?fPath=3

    There is an H.P. Lovecraft library and archive:

  • http://lovecraftlibrary.org

  • http://www.hplovecraft.com

    Links:

  • www.yog-sothoth.com
  • www.chaosium.com

    Here is a link into the Paizo stacks, you *must* buy all these:

  • Buy Me !!!

    I guess there is Amazon-Cthulhu too.

    There is even stuff on YouTube!

    Stop by the Chat room if you want to hook up for on-line CoC gaming.

    :-)


  • (This is more of an anecdote. It didn't happen in my group, but one of my players swears blind he witnessed it. It's gone down into legend with some people I know.)

    Investigators faced with bunch of deep ones...

    Investigators panic. One guy says, I impersonate the Great Cthulhu.

    You what? says the Keeper. I impersonate Mighty Cthulhu, he says.

    Keeper, tongue in cheek, says OK. You have an 01% chance.

    Investigator rolls, gets an 01. Deep Ones fall to floor, other investigators roll for 1D10/1D100 SAN loss. One investigator permanently insane, but hey, the rest get out alive.

    Apparently the guy wrote it on his sheet as a skill, ticked the box, ended up with 5%, used it a again a couple times (why the keeper let him do this, I have no idea), and frankly there's a guy out there with Impersonate Great Cthulhu 18% written on his character sheet.

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

    If you feel bold enough to provide some of your own "crunch", I strongly recommend Steve Hatherley's Tales of Terror. The adventure seeds there can blossom into hundreds of interesting adventures.

    Shadow Lodge

    If you haven't yet, read as much Lovecraft as you can. I actually hesitate to recommend most other Mythos writers, as they tend to be extremely hit-or-miss (with most of them missing quite badly, IMO).

    Chaosium has put out some great adventures over the years. In fact, they just re-published one of their best, the Mask of Nyarlathotep campaign. There are also dozens of free adventures on Chaosium's site, and more scattered across the internet.

    Sometimes you can also draw inspiration from other Cthulhu-based games. In my collection, I have:

    Call of Cthulhu
    Call of Cthulhu d20
    Trail of Cthulhu (GUMSHOE)
    Shadows of Cthulhu (True20)
    Realms of Cthulhu (Savage Worlds)


    Three Clue Rule. I just found this last night and already feel this should be required reading for anyone running an investigative RPG. Some outstanding advice in there. The basic premise is for any conclusion you want the players to make plant 3 clues leading to it. Considering how often I have seen players ignore simple (to me) yet vital clues to get to the next part of the adventure I really wish I had read this 20 years ago.

    As for specific adventures it is hard to choose. I hesitate to recommend Masks of Nyarlanthotep due to its length (but it is the best adventure/campaign ever written for CoC) and suggest something simpler/shorter. Maybe Shadows of Yog-Sothoth as it has a decent sized campaign in it and until about the 5th scenario isn't too lethal (the 6th and 7th though will kill PCs, maybe multiple ones). I've always felt that CoC wasn't necessarily about everyone surviving to succeed but rather to make the necessary sacrifices to stop whatever horrific evil is going on. This can be a hard lesson for players to learn especially if they are coming from a game with a low mortality rate (recent editions of D&D/Pathfinder would definitely fall into this category for me).

    Andoran

    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Kthulhu wrote:
    If you haven't yet, read as much Lovecraft as you can. I actually hesitate to recommend most other Mythos writers, as they tend to be extremely hit-or-miss (with most of them missing quite badly, IMO).

    All of Lovecrafts works can be read at;

    Lovecraft stories

    S.

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

    If you want to run a pre written adventure:

    Masks of Nyarlathotep

    One of the best published campaigns ever written.

    Contributor

    I can't argue that Masks of Nyarlathotep is one of the best published campaigns ever written for any system, but as PsychoticWarrior already warned, at 224 pages I could hardly recommend it for "a new Keeper trying to get his arms around the game," as the OP states. Dip your toes in the water first before tackling the big beasts, because that thing is a mighty big bite to chew even for veteran Keepers.

    And don't EVEN get me started on the recent republication. I remember being thrilled that I finally scored a rare copy on eBay for $75 after losing out on about 10 auctions in a row, then tickled to death months later when I found another at Half Price books for $11.48, figuring I'd sell one and recoup my money. Now you can just go pick one up for cover price, as pretty as you please. Book value? Meet edge of cliff. *push* Drat! =-)


    *If* you can track down a copy that's not torn to heck and gone, missing important bits or the like, "Horror on the Orient Express" is another excellent 1920's Call of Cthulhu adventure. The train even comes ready-made with a bevy of replacement investigators ...


    The Call of Cthulhu Rulebook is all you need - supplemental material is just that supplemental. There are several scenarios in the core rulebook that will get you and your players into the game.

    I use rules from Realm of Cthulhu in my pirate-era game. Savage worlds is a better playing system if you want to have the players actually have a chance of defeating horrors.

    The collected works of H.P. Lovecraft are necessary reading if you're serious about running CoC in the Lovecraftian tradition. You can find them at most bookstores with a decent horror section. Or go to Project Gutenberg Australia, and download them as text files.

    I've used CoC to break players of Hack n' Slash: Remember, in other games players brag about how awesome their characters are. In CoC, they brag about how horribly their characters died.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Maps Subscriber

    Oh and this link will probably be useful for the players.

    How to Survive a Call of Cthulhu Adventure


    Geistlinger wrote:

    Oh and this link will probably be useful for the players.

    How to Survive a Call of Cthulhu Adventure

    [haterade]In my experience, the only way to survive a CoC adventure is to just not play.[/haterade]

    Osirion

    I only have the d20 CoC, so that's all I've played, but I found it was a really good campaign. Maybe someone who's played the other systems more can tell you if d20 is best or not, but I liked it because I already knew most of the ruleset.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    If you want to get your feet wet with some inexpensive one-shot adventures I really enjoyed running Curse of the Yellow Sign by John Wick. They are really good for a single evening of play to get your players in the Call of Cthulhu mood.

    Edit: While John Wick's site is there, the "Purchase PDF" link seems to be broken. They can be found over at RPG Now for $5 each.

    Qadira

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
    Freehold DM wrote:
    [haterade]In my experience, the only way to survive a CoC adventure is to just not play.[/haterade]

    At this point, I would be shocked to find out you didn't hate something. :-/

    As for the OP, Geistlinger nailed it. Use the Quickstart download first and move on from there.

    Aslo, Tensor's links to yog-sothoth.com and chaosium.com are invaluable. I think YS is even a better resource than Chaosium's site.

    First thing you and your players MUST remember, if the investigators go in guns blazing like it's a kick in the doors D&D session, they will die. Quickly. If you do want that style of play Trails of Cthulhu can accommodate. As can the d20 CoC rules. In a 'traditional' Call of Cthulhu campaign though, combat should be an absolute last resort because the rules are deadly and nearly any 'monster' will simply use the investigators and restock his larder.


    Wolfthulhu wrote:
    Freehold DM wrote:
    [haterade]In my experience, the only way to survive a CoC adventure is to just not play.[/haterade]

    At this point, I would be shocked to find out you didn't hate something. :-/

    As for the OP, Geistlinger nailed it. Use the Quickstart download first and move on from there.

    Aslo, Tensor's links to yog-sothoth.com and chaosium.com are invaluable. I think YS is even a better resource than Chaosium's site.

    First thing you and your players MUST remember, if the investigators go in guns blazing like it's a kick in the doors D&D session, they will die. Quickly. If you do want that style of play Trails of Cthulhu can accommodate. As can the d20 CoC rules. In a 'traditional' Call of Cthulhu campaign though, combat should be an absolute last resort because the rules are deadly and nearly any 'monster' will simply use the investigators and restock his larder.

    My experience with CoC was a particularly bad one due to the fact that only the DM and his henchma- er, friend, were the only ones who knew what the hell was going on. The friend essentially blew up the whole town/area by acting on his own even though the party wasn't together(not that that's a necessity, but still), and later crowed that he had "won" the game by getting us all killed to save humanity from some type of Elder God invasion, for which he was enthusiastically congratulated by the DM. I've been told by other CoC enthusiasts that that's not how the game is supposed to work, but from the stories they have told about their own games, I've also surmised that the only way to actually play the game is to simply sit in a room as far away from anyone who has anything to do with the Elder Gods and do nothing, not even read(as the Elder Gods may be hiding in that paperback on your bookshelf).

    And I love plenty of things! hugs beloved books


    Well, if survival is your only goal then yes, the best way to go is to play an illiterate coward that runs from everything. But that's hardly fun. You WANT to go nuts and die in gruesome fashion because it's more interesting for you and the other players. Even with the odds so stacked against your investigators, you have to believe you'll succeed even at the cost of your life or sanity.

    The game isn't for everyone- some of my own players weren't that into it when we played, but I really think that they would have more fun if they broke their attachment to their characters.


    James Keegan wrote:
    Well, if survival is your only goal then yes, the best way to go is to play an illiterate coward that runs from everything. But that's hardly fun. You WANT to go nuts and die in gruesome fashion because it's more interesting for you and the other players.

    Exactly. That's why I much prefer one-off adventures for Call of Cthulhu over long campaigns.

    Cheliax

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
    hogarth wrote:
    James Keegan wrote:
    Well, if survival is your only goal then yes, the best way to go is to play an illiterate coward that runs from everything. But that's hardly fun. You WANT to go nuts and die in gruesome fashion because it's more interesting for you and the other players.
    Exactly. That's why I much prefer one-off adventures for Call of Cthulhu over long campaigns.

    +1. Longest CoC "campaign" I was ever involved with lasted 2 sessions. No one survived, but we all had a blast!


    James Keegan wrote:

    Well, if survival is your only goal then yes, the best way to go is to play an illiterate coward that runs from everything. But that's hardly fun. You WANT to go nuts and die in gruesome fashion because it's more interesting for you and the other players. Even with the odds so stacked against your investigators, you have to believe you'll succeed even at the cost of your life or sanity.

    The game isn't for everyone- some of my own players weren't that into it when we played, but I really think that they would have more fun if they broke their attachment to their characters.

    Guess we all have different defintions of the word fun. One guy acting on his own and getting the entire party, which in this case was composed of people who weren't even in the same room with him killed because he set off the equivalent of a nuke, and expecting high fives for it iesn't fun for me.

    And yet....and yet. Perhaps I am letting my poor experiences get the better of me. My bad experiences with L5R and its players mirror those I have had with CoC and yet I still enjoy the world of Rokugan even as I step around the road apples many of its players leave behind. Maybe I should give CoC another chance, but this time with an experienced DM that isn't just sitting around waiting for his players to die.


    Freehold DM wrote:
    James Keegan wrote:

    Well, if survival is your only goal then yes, the best way to go is to play an illiterate coward that runs from everything. But that's hardly fun. You WANT to go nuts and die in gruesome fashion because it's more interesting for you and the other players. Even with the odds so stacked against your investigators, you have to believe you'll succeed even at the cost of your life or sanity.

    The game isn't for everyone- some of my own players weren't that into it when we played, but I really think that they would have more fun if they broke their attachment to their characters.

    Guess we all have different defintions of the word fun. One guy acting on his own and getting the entire party, which in this case was composed of people who weren't even in the same room with him killed because he set off the equivalent of a nuke, and expecting high fives for it iesn't fun for me.

    Not for me, either. But I would urge you to give the game a second chance if the opportunity comes up with a different group. That's all I'm trying to say.


    I can't fault any of the other suggestions made, but I would actually recommend against running any published adventures in a pickup group at the local game shop. The published material is generally written for a group already familiar with the source material and ready to curb their violent tendencies... which may not be the sort of group you have.

    Certainly read the material for ideas, especially the adjective list in the appendix of 3rd edition (I think) to bolster your descriptive repertoire, but then, why not foster a sandbox game set in your local community? Nearby universities will most likely have archives of old community newspapers and just printing up a few pages as props can promote the creative juices of your players or at least show you what they resonate with. You would be amazed at the things that actually show up in old papers...

    As I prepared a campaign set in Oregon I learned of a marketing campaign to promote overland shipping that featured trucks hauling a scale model battleship with functioning guns. Not a week later there was a string of elevator mishaps among members of the Freemasons that were being investigated as cult murders. Who needs fiction when that's just laying around?

    Cheliax

    For those who have had bad experiences with CoC, I will say only this. Go to GenCon. Seek Bob Geis.

    Qadira

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
    Freehold DM wrote:
    James Keegan wrote:

    Well, if survival is your only goal then yes, the best way to go is to play an illiterate coward that runs from everything. But that's hardly fun. You WANT to go nuts and die in gruesome fashion because it's more interesting for you and the other players. Even with the odds so stacked against your investigators, you have to believe you'll succeed even at the cost of your life or sanity.

    The game isn't for everyone- some of my own players weren't that into it when we played, but I really think that they would have more fun if they broke their attachment to their characters.

    Guess we all have different defintions of the word fun. One guy acting on his own and getting the entire party, which in this case was composed of people who weren't even in the same room with him killed because he set off the equivalent of a nuke, and expecting high fives for it iesn't fun for me.

    And yet....and yet. Perhaps I am letting my poor experiences get the better of me. My bad experiences with L5R and its players mirror those I have had with CoC and yet I still enjoy the world of Rokugan even as I step around the road apples many of its players leave behind. Maybe I should give CoC another chance, but this time with an experienced DM that isn't just sitting around waiting for his players to die.

    Yeah, that's not the system's fault. CoC isn't a game for everyone, but I doubt if I would have enjoyed that game either.

    Horrific death or a slow descent into insanity is part of the game, but a TPK every session isn't fun at all. :-/


    Freehold DM wrote:


    My experience with CoC was a particularly bad one due to the fact that only the DM and his henchma- er, friend, were the only ones who knew what the hell was going on. The friend essentially blew up the whole town/area by acting on his own even though the party wasn't together(not that that's a necessity, but still), and later crowed that he had "won" the game by getting us all killed to save humanity from some type of Elder God invasion, for which he was enthusiastically congratulated by the DM. I've been told by other CoC enthusiasts that that's not how the game is supposed to work, but from the stories they have told about their own games, I've also surmised that the only way to actually play the game is to simply sit in a room as far away from anyone who has anything to do with the Elder Gods and do nothing, not even read(as the Elder Gods may be hiding in that paperback on your bookshelf).

    And I love plenty of things! hugs beloved books

    Dude, you're playing with dinks. No non-Convention setting CoC game I have ever played in ran like that. Nor have I ran any CoC game in that manner. What a way to kill any interest in the game!


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Peasant wrote:
    I can't fault any of the other suggestions made, but I would actually recommend against running any published adventures in a pickup group at the local game shop. The published material is generally written for a group already familiar with the source material and ready to curb their violent tendencies... which may not be the sort of group you have.

    I actually recommend Curse of the Yellow Sign Act II for introducing people to the game. There are no monsters for the PCs to kill except each other. We ran it pseudo larp style (or more like dinner party murder mystery style) with 2 experienced GMs and 6 new to CoC players (some new to role-playing entirely) and it worked well. It really has a "The Shining" sort of feel to it. Everyone had a great time and want to do more CoC in the future.

    We enjoyed Act I as well, but with a more experienced group as role-playing WW2 Nazis is a difficult subject for new gamers. In that one everyone deserves it when they kill each other. They are only thematically linked, so you could run them completely separately or in any order.

    Qadira

    Ah... good ol' CoC!

    I remember having a character die on 'Murder on the Orient Express' when some NPC menacingly walked up to us and demaned 'the scroll' (which none of us knew a thing about) and I told him I'd rolled it up and smoked it... Good times! :)

    White Wolf magazine published some pretty good CoC stuff back in the day (before it became a miniatures catalogue) - there was one adventure called, IIRC, 'Fear of Flying' set on one of those 'flying boat' planes you get in stuff like Indiana Jones films... my PCs let the whole plane get trashed, but what the hey!

    Cheliax

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Maps Subscriber

    I would recommend (for a beginning CoC GM and running the game at your local game store) that you stick with the various small modules which are published with the core hardback book. They are long enough to go over a few sessions and they are easy enough to master and even expand if you feel comfortable enough with the rules and mythos.

    Depending on the edition you will have a different set of adventures available to the GM in the core book. Some of the best (and basic) CoC scenarios are printed in the core rules over the various editions and IMO would be the best place to start.

    If you can, photo copy the module out of the book (so the book is available for reference for the rest of game play) and you are good to go. Some good rulebook included scenarios in 5th& 6th ed core are: The Haunting "aka" Corbitt House, Edge of Darkness, The Madman.

    It would depend of which edition you were going to run. Not so much for the rules, but the modules rotated in an out of the rulebooks over the years. I've been playing and collecting CoC rpg material since '86, it's a shame that so much of this games creative material has been lost or is unavailable to most modern gamers.

    Back to the game: Having the 1920's investigators companion (1 & 2, 1 being more important) as a sourcebook for you and the players would be great (though not required). Many people have limited knowledge of 20-30's lifestyle but the core books do a pretty good job of laying out the basics. Getting some of the core non-crunch background info to the players would be great.
    Unfortunately the various core book layouts are set up as both GM and player source material combined in one. Not really good since it has all the monster info, gods, tomes, spells and modules included with some good day-to-day info on living in the era of the Great Gatsby.

    CoC is a good game if you have a GM and players who are prepared to play a different game. In many cases the nemesis in a CoC game is unkillable by conventional means, or the nasty is just a symptom of a greater problem. While killing off some hideous creatures may help the effort and risk (if unnecessary) can actually detract from the main goal - something which is rarely resolved with gunplay or explosives.

    Players need to go into the darkness, do the research, and risk their health and sanity to find tools to repel the Great Old Ones back. The game is very much a balancing act on what to do and how far to go (into that darkness). Good players won't get greedy and will only be looking for the tools needed to fight monsters, those with less control will end up dead, insane, crossed over to the enemy or any combination thereof.


    I would also advise you to look up some Podcasts of CoC.

    There are quite a few good ones that have been done by groups of experienced players for both CoC and Delta Green.

    If you listen to a couple then you can get to hear how the feel of the game flows.

    Another good horror game is Dread that uses the Jenga tower to help heighten tension. It is less rules heavy and more story and style.


    I'm really fond of two recent releases: Tatters of the King and the Our Ladies of Sorrow-- the first has Hastur and the King in Yellow and an appropriately downer ending (even for the win) with great settings and characters, and the latter, while actually not really Cthulhu Mythos, has a very mythic feel. I've mulled over converting them to PF.


    Jeff de luna wrote:
    I'm really fond of two recent releases: Tatters of the King and the Our Ladies of Sorrow-- the first has Hastur and the King in Yellow and an appropriately downer ending (even for the win) with great settings and characters, and the latter, while actually not really Cthulhu Mythos, has a very mythic feel. I've mulled over converting them to PF.

    Tatters is pretty great, I think. Running it right now in pbp, very excited to see how it goes.

    Osirion

    Jeff de luna wrote:
    I'm really fond of two recent releases: Tatters of the King and the Our Ladies of Sorrow-- the first has Hastur and the King in Yellow and an appropriately downer ending (even for the win) with great settings and characters, and the latter, while actually not really Cthulhu Mythos, has a very mythic feel. I've mulled over converting them to PF.

    Tatters is quite good, but I'd definitely suggest mixing it with some of the other KiY goodness out there. I particularly love the Hastur Mythos stuff written by John Tynes in Delta Green: Countdown, as well as the scenario "Night Floors" found within. It's also a good idea to read the original Robert Chambers stories that inspired all of this.

    Oh, and I agree about Our Ladies of Sorrow. It's one of Kevin Ross' finest moments, and this is from the same guy who banged out such classics as Escape From Innsmouth.


    KnightErrantJR wrote:
    For my entire gaming career I've heard tales of Call of Cthulhu, but have never played in nor ran a game of it. If someone were to get involved in CoC, are there any adventures or sourcebooks that are of particular use to a new Keeper trying to get his arms around the game?

    The gaming system is so simple that you will be up and running within a couple of hours max.

    Everything is based on percentile rolls. Lower is better. That is pretty much the gist of the system.

    There is a tremendous amount of really good stuff on-line for free.

    I would download the Quick Start rules (per earlier suggestions) and then download some fun stuff on-line.

    Good luck! It is one of my favorite systems!

    In service,

    Rich

    the Original Dr. Games since 1993.


    James Keegan wrote:

    Well, if survival is your only goal then yes, the best way to go is to play an illiterate coward that runs from everything. But that's hardly fun. You WANT to go nuts and die in gruesome fashion because it's more interesting for you and the other players. Even with the odds so stacked against your investigators, you have to believe you'll succeed even at the cost of your life or sanity.

    The game isn't for everyone- some of my own players weren't that into it when we played, but I really think that they would have more fun if they broke their attachment to their characters.

    It is funny. I just wrote up a review of "Fire and Ice" that talked through this very issue.

    A lot of us loved H.P. Lovecraft's stories, and the original CoC system was a very true rendering of Lovecraft's style.

    Turns out that in the original rules, if you played long enough then there were only two ending possible. Your investigator was dead, or your investigator was permanently insane.

    In practice, that is not so much fun for a player, especially a player who has not read all the Lovecraft back story.

    Starting with version 2.0 and continuing to the present version, which is at least 6.0, Chaosium softened the blow by giving PCs a chance to win sanity back, lessening the impact of repeated exposure to the minions of the Great Old Ones, adding rules for psychotherapy, etc.

    It is a much better system that way.

    The same is true of Fire and Ice. I have read all of the books and even chatted with the great JRRM himself. No love of the books or respect for JRRM changes the fact that Westeros is a dark, dark place, and if a GM foolishly sticks to the tone of the books, sooner or later everyone the party cares about will end up: dead, undead, blind, imprisoned, or some hideous combination of those things.

    In service,

    Rich
    the Original Dr. Games since 1993.

    Shadow Lodge

    DrGames wrote:

    Turns out that in the original rules, if you played long enough then there were only two ending possible. Your investigator was dead, or your investigator was permanently insane.

    In practice, that is not so much fun for a player, especially a player who has not read all the Lovecraft back story.

    Starting with version 2.0 and continuing to the present version, which is at least 6.0, Chaosium softened the blow by giving PCs a chance to win sanity back, lessening the impact of repeated exposure to the minions of the Great Old Ones, adding rules for psychotherapy, etc.

    You still end up going permanently insane, it's just a more gradual process. As you gain points in the Cthulhu Mythos skill, your maximum sanity lowers. The only thing that keeps all characters from going insane is that most don't live long enough to boost their Mythos skill high enough for that to be too much of a concern.



    > interesting Trail of Cthulhu article <


    James Keegan wrote:
    Well, if survival is your only goal then yes, the best way to go is to play an illiterate coward that runs from everything. But that's hardly fun. You WANT to go nuts and die in gruesome fashion because it's more interesting for you and the other players. Even with the odds so stacked against your investigators, you have to believe you'll succeed even at the cost of your life or sanity.

    Interestingly enough, I ran into a player one time who called his cleric Focolwind and abhored violence. So, he would have his cleric take paralytic drugs rather than be tempted to help out the party with combat encounters, even in one session where it made the difference between the entire party being taken prisoner to have Bad Things(tm) done to them.

    Some folk truly do enjoy running screaming into the darkness.

    Meh.

    In service,

    Rich
    The Original Dr. Games since 1993.


    Heh. I know this is largely outdated, but I stumbled across this recently and figured 'Why not'. I am looking for a means to start getting the Innsmouth series. I've looked on Ebay and there is no 'Crawford Inheritance' module as people were suggesting on other sites. I've found 'Escape from Innsmouth', but unfortunately that is hugely overcharged at close to $99. There is something I found that I'm happy I have, but unfortunately it says not to use it until I have gotten the Crawford Inheritance module first.

    Grand Lodge

    If anyone can find the old Theron Marks Society guide, its well worth it.

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