August 27, 2013
Games Yet Played: Call Of Cthulhu
I have played a large variety of role-playing games since I was first introduced to them. Most I have liked, a few I have not, and some I have never had a real opportunity to try. Among these, one that I have a great deal of interest in, just to see if it is as fun as I have heard professed, is Call of Cthulhu. Call of Cthulhu is a horror role-playing game created by Chaosium and based on the Cthulhu Mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft. Personally, I am not that much of a fan of Lovecraft’s writings, not due to topic, but due to style. They have never really struck a cord with me, but the game based on his works is among the most popular tabletop games on the market today.
Now, to be fair, I have played Call of Cthulhu before. It was for a total of one four hour session that included two and half hours of character creation and another half-hour of learning the basic rules of the game. In short, there was not much role-play involved in that game. My character heard a girl scream in a bathroom, punched out her attacker who was mumbling something about a sacrifice, then crashed my bike on my way home when I saw “something” out of the corner of my eye and lost sanity points for some reason. Yeah, not much of a first impression, which is partially why I would love the chance to give it a proper go.
There are a few parts of the game I am unsure of, and these are based more on stories I have heard about the game as anything else, so I know to take them at face value as they could be wrong. Firstly, I am well aware that this is a game of survival, not adventure, but the thought of having “characters to spare” is not something I am all that willing to get behind. I have heard stories of players being told to write up two or three because some of them are going to die. How can you invest in your character if you go into it with that in your head? Secondly, I am really unsure about the whole “sanity” part of the game, where your character as a starting pool of sanity that they lose throughout as they experience the madness that is Cthulhu and that never refreshes. Ok, I can understand that from a storytelling aspect, but as I game I am wary. Especially considering how fast I lost sanity in that one tiny game I did play in.
Finally, there is the tale of the instantly killed character. I read a pre-generated game once, and in it there was a passage that read, “If any character goes up into the attic before X event happens, they are killed instantly, their head torn from their shoulders as they open the door.” What? That is it? You die? How is that a fun game? There was no call for a dice roll. No chance to notice the threat. The characters are just killed. The end. Personally, if that happened to one of my characters, especially one I was invested in, I imagine that I would be quite livid. That Gamemaster and I would certainly have words after the session was through.
So, yes, I have my concerns about playing a game of Call of Cthulhu, but I am still curious enough about the game to give it a try. There is no such thing as a bad game, after all.
Image Credit: Chaosium Inc.