First Look at a New Book: Call of Cthulhu
June 18, 2014

First Look At A New Book: Call Of Cthulhu

Some friends and I went over to our favorite game store the other day, and on something of a whim, I decided to finally buckle and pick up a copy of the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game by Chaosium. I have discussed the game before, but as I said in my “Games Yet Played,” I have never really had a fair chance at this game. Sometime soon I hope to change that for the better. So, now that I have the book and have had a chance to go over it in detail, have my thoughts on the game changed?

Somewhat, yes. Firstly, as I talked about last time, I am surprised to find that the idea of having “characters to spare” is not one that the game encourages. Despite what many players profess, the game actually does want your characters to succeed. Not “win,” as most of us would define winning, but succeed. Barring encounters with lesser beings, you are rarely ever going to win a battle, but the point of the game is not to win fights, its to figure out what is happening and, if necessary, prevent it from happening again. Why are the dead rising from their graves? Because an ancient artifact has been buried somewhere in the ground. What can you do? Find and destroy it while trying not to get torn to shreds by the walking dead. There is a part of the game that suggests playing two characters each, which I found a bit odd, but I like their logic for it. This is so, if the group ever has to split up (normally a poor decision in any kind of role-playing game) players will have a part to play in both groups. A neat idea, but one that I – and the game itself – would only consider for a group of experienced role-players.

Sanity is a lot more complex than I recall, which may have something to do with the fact that this is the sixth edition of the game. There is a difference between temporary and permanent sanity loss, sanity can be recovered with time and rest – we are talking weeks to months here – and while sanity loss will happen, it is resistible. This is something I do not recall happening during my first experience with the game and it is something I really like.

The game also has a very interesting character creation system involving various factors like age and education, as well as various rules for playing in multiple settings although the standard remains the 1920s. I also like the use of the Luck roll, despite my general dislike of luck as a mechanic. In this, you roll Luck to see if you happen upon something by chance. In an example, a character failed to notice blood dripping from the ceiling (a failed Notice roll) but then felt the blood dripping on her when she passed over it and looked up, noticing it (a successful Luck roll).

Really, my biggest complaint now is that the game is a percentile-based game and I have never really been a fan of those. Even so, this game seems to handle it well. Overall, I am excited to one day give this game a fair go. I hope to be a player for that game, rather than the Gamemaster, so that I can experience what it is like to play in the mythos before I try and run one myself, but if not I am not afraid to dive right in and give my players a taste of some occult horror strait out of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, dealing with the vile servants of the Great Old Ones.

After all, “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.” – H.P. Lovecraft.

As always, thanks for reading and I wish you all good gaming.

Image Credit: Chaosium

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