Jump to content

Call of Cthulhu - TT Horror RPG

Captain Kelsten

Recommended Posts

Has anyone or does anyone play Call of Cthulhu? 


Call of Cthulhu, a TTRPG from Chaosium, is now in its 7th edition. 


From the website:



Players take on the role of investigators of mysteries, uncovering dark secrets, encountering strange monsters, and thwarting sinister cults. Together, you and your friends create and develop a story in which each of your characters plays a leading role, which could be foiling some dastardly plot or stopping horrors from beyond space and time!


There are variations, such as modules set in the second world war, or ancient Rome or even modern times, but invariably the hook is the same: you're a normal person who somehow enters into a strange, dangerous and horrific world of eldritch horror. The game can be difficult, but some people mistakenly think that your character has to die every game - this isn't the case at all, but it is more likely than in something like D&D, because combat can be deadly and is best avoided (think games like Amnesia). Your investigator can also go insane, slowly succumbing to the madness of what you're witnessing. This can manifest as temporary bouts of madness and, eventually, you could be committed to a mental institution (game over!).


Your character is called an Investigator, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to be a police officer or private detective - there are dozens of different archetype jobs to choose from.


You have loads of skills and the higher your rank in a skill, out of 100, the better you are at it. When asked to make a skill check, your aim is to roll lower than your skill to succeed. For example, if you have a skill of 70 in spot hidden, and the game master - known in CoC as the Keeper of Arcane Lore or just "Keeper" for short - asks you to roll the skill to see if you find a clue, rolling anything from 1-70 is a success, but 71-100 would be a failure. You can spend something called luck to try and push the roll to a success (so if you rolled 75 and thus failed, you could spend 5 luck to push it to 70 and succeed), but luck is a finite resource. You can also try to push your roll, of you can justify it, but failing a second time can lead to disaster. Here's an example:


You're being chased by cultists, wanting to sacrifice you to their evil god. You think you've given them the slip after you duck into an alleyway. You see a door and decide to try the handle. It's locked! You say you want to force the door. The Keeper asks you to roll a "strength" check. You have a strength of 50 (considered the average). 


- You roll 1 - 50: SUCCESS! You force the door, bursting through into a seemingly abandoned bookstore. You manage to secure the door, although you don't know how long for. Phew! Safe, for now!


- You roll a 56 or higher: Failure! The door won't budge!


You could either give up trying and do something else, spend some luck to push that failure into success or roll again, putting it all on the line. 


Let's say you decided to roll again and failed again, then disaster! You slam into the door with all your might with an loud bang. The door doesn't budge but you bounce right off, into a load of trash cans, knocking them over and sending bottles flying. The cultists are certain to have heard you and as you look towards the mouth of the alley, you see hooded figures coming in your direction, sharp daggers glinting in the moonlight...


There's also a wonderful module called "Pulp Cthulhu" which is a bit less out and out horror and more Indiana Jones: your investigators are a bit more hardy, fights are more common and it's all a bit more derring-do Saturday matinee adventure in style. 


I've probably done a terrible job of selling it, but believe me, it's a great game and system, so if anyone from the forum is interested in playing, let me know and I'll gladly set something up. 


Has anyone else played? Have any stories to share? 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

This was one of the stalwarts of the local RP group I went to every Sunday evening for years as a youth, and probably my most fondly remembered of them all.  We played everything from Vampire to Palladium to Heroes Unlimited and Star Wars, but the Cthulhu mythos was the most delicious as a backdrop. I just loved how brutal it was, like you were always walking along the knife-edge of insanity.  And it also brings back one of my fondest memories of throwing a curry sauce laden chip at the GM after he killed my character, then we had a fight :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always felt that the Cthulhu RPG is in an increasingly odd place in the RPG world. I love D100 games, and I think they're amongst the cleanest and clearest to explain to players, but on the other hand I think the whole Sanity Points system is just kludgy and horrible now. A relic from a time when we didn't have a better way to properly convey how somebody is disintegrating.


It's also not something that really sells itself for campaign play in my experience. You either do proper Cthulhu and the Investigators become fundamentally damaged people very quickly leading to an unnatural character attrition rate, or you go softly on them and give them time to recover and lose the sense of the crushing peril and the feeling that the best you can do (maybe) is push the darkness over the horizon for just one more day.


It's also quite hard to GM with players who know stuff. They often want the feeling of facing those classic Lovecraftian beasts, but also know everything about them so nothing is a mystery or surprise - but this is because the game is a victim of it's own success rather than anything else. I've sort of moved on to Unknown Armies for storytelling tales of the fucking weird and horrible, especially as I like how it handles sanity - players either take mental disorders, or they choose to harden against them and become sociopaths incapable of feeling anything at all - the critical part is that it's their choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

47 minutes ago, Doctor Shark said:

Would either of you be up for a forum game using roll 20 or similar? I'm a new keeper, so keep that in mind!


It would have to be a no from Team Wind, but thanks for asking. I'm just getting back into traditional RPG's currently with some D&D 5e and I don't think my puny brain could cope with another one on the go.  Especially on top of all the board game rules floating around in there as well.


Lying Cat's take is interesting though and I do wonder what it would be like to play it now.  Whether it would sully those fond recollections? I never played D&D back then thanks to the snobbery of our resident GM so I'm thoroughly enjoying it as something new.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 minutes ago, Lying Cat said:

I've always felt that the Cthulhu RPG is in an increasingly odd place in the RPG world. I love D100 games, and I think they're amongst the cleanest and clearest to explain to players, but on the other hand I think the whole Sanity Points system is just kludgy and horrible now. A relic from a time when we didn't have a better way to properly convey how somebody is disintegrating.


It's also not something that really sells itself for campaign play in my experience. You either do proper Cthulhu and the Investigators become fundamentally damaged people very quickly leading to an unnatural character attrition rate, or you go softly on them and give them time to recover and lose the sense of the crushing peril and the feeling that the best you can do (maybe) is push the darkness over the horizon for just one more day.


It's also quite hard to GM with players who know stuff. They often want the feeling of facing those classic Lovecraftian beasts, but also know everything about them so nothing is a mystery or surprise - but this is because the game is a victim of it's own success rather than anything else. I've sort of moved on to Unknown Armies for storytelling tales of the fucking weird and horrible, especially as I like how it handles sanity - players either take mental disorders, or they choose to harden against them and become sociopaths incapable of feeling anything at all - the critical part is that it's their choice.

sounds like pulp Cthulhu might be more you speed, then. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Speaking of Pulp Cthulhu, which is an official Chaosium mod, here's more about it:


Two-Fisted Action & Adventure Against The Mythos!


Calling All Heroes! It’s Time To Take The Fight to Cthulhu!


Pulp Cthulhu is a game of two-fisted adventure, weird science, dark deeds, and brave heroes. With this book, some roleplaying dice, and the Call of Cthulhu Rulebook, you have everything you need to adventure and explore games set in the pulp genre.


Tired of your investigators dying in quick succession when jaunting around the world in a desperate bid to save humanity? Wishing that sometimes your investigator could make a stand instead of hiding and waiting for the eldritch horror to pass? Pulp Cthulhu ups the ante and provides you with tougher, more capable heroes—ready to take on the villainous machinations of the Cthulhu Mythos!


Generally speaking, your investigator has double the hitpoints of a normal CoC investigator, more skills, additional pulp style skills and luck points. Don't worry, even though your character is more heroic than a normal invresitgator, it doesn't render CoC easy - the game can still be deadly, you can still go mad, but it is harder to do so and easier to have more "heroic" moments instead of "survive by the skin of your teeth" moments! If your investigator dies, as long as you have at leas 30 luck you can spend it all to do an action movie bait n switch and miraculously survive; imagine Indy going over the edge of the cliff at the end of Last Crusade, everyone thinking he was dead but then he climbs up, having managed to grab a root to stop plummeting to his death - it's that sort of thing, but only if you have 30 luck or more and then it's gone.


Here's a great video from a chap named Seth Skorkowsky doing a review of it. He does loads of Call of Cthulhu module reviews and they're brilliant, well worth a watch!


And this is the adventure I bought in addition to the ones in the player book:




I mean, look at it. Pure Indiana Jones! Snake people. International mystery, shady corporations, deep dark jungles, temples, car chases, you name it, it's probably in this book. Superb stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love a bit of CoC. Haven’t played proper CoC for years and years (the late 1980s) Using this:



Although in the early noughties I ran a Cthulhu D20 Delta Green Game.  


The game system is great and generally very intuitive roll under your skill with skills being percentile (I note in Dr Shark's example above the Strength stat is percentile, that must be new in all the games I have played stats were a different scale; 1-20 much like D&D).  The system has a huge number of variants and powers every game published by Chaosium, RuneQuest, Pendragon; Elric/Stormbringer etc and is generally referred to as Basic Roleplaying system or (BRP). When I played Skyrim I actually thought they had ripped BRP off!


CoC was originally set in the 1920s like Lovecraft's books but there have been a huge variety of settings over the years including Victorian (Cthulhu by Gaslight) and Modern.  My favourites were Cthulhu Dark Ages (which I never played) and Delta Green, which is Cthulhu mixed with 1990s conspiracy theories and forteana. 

I hadn’t come across Pulp Cthulhu but that looks really fun. 




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Call of Cthulhu has been a stalwart of my play since I was at school in the 80's. Alongside Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (which owes a huge debt to CoC) it has to contain some of my top RPG memories.

We have tended toward the pulpy side, although I have run and played some more traditionally horrible shorts. As Lying Cat said, that style is not so good for long term play, but it does work well for one-off things.

I played an epic campaign of The Masks of Nyarlathotep that was lead by my friend James and resulted in us players having a cork board covered in maps, photos and clues. All linked by ribbon and pins, it spread onto  the surrounding wall and must have made my room look like the home  of a crazy conspiracy theorist.

Having returned from my time working in the jungles of Indonesia, I ran my my friends through The Realm of Shadows which ended up having some epic jungle madness happening at the end. There were The Cult of Ghouls, South American pyramids and a mute jungle guide with an Elder sign tattooed on his chest. He ended up being 'heroically' sacrificed by the players to save the world and they all ended up being bums in mexican slums with scars and severe mental health problems.

James kickstarted the re-issue of Horror on the Orient Express which I hope to persuade him to run for us at some point, although we are all playing 4th edition WFRP at the moment and probably will be for some time to come. The stuff they are releasing at the moment is going down very well with my players.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

The guys I play Pathfinder with replied similarly to you guys in that they played it years ago, loved it but haven't played it in ages. 7th Edition is meant to be really, really good (it's my first entrance to the system so no idea if it's better than what comes before) but, being a big fan of the mythos and setting, I'm keen to get them to try a one shot and then maybe move on to the Two Headed Serpent campaign.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The variation between the editions of CoC are quite minor to my mind. Just gentle iterative improvements along the way. Last edition I bought was 5.6, but I bought my friend 7th and he runs games using that and any of the old supplements all mixed together without any fuss.

You are best starting with the latest edition, but don't shy away from old supplements, and playing with them too. There are so many classic adventures out there. And retrofitting them to the new edition will not be difficult. You can probably do it on the fly in most cases.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Moving this to here and resurrecting the thread ...


 I've spent some time this week reading through the 7e Call Of Cthulhu keepers book.  I really like the new streamlining they've done with them Skills and Characteristics being unified as percentiles, the pushed rolls, and the way opposed rolls work - not 100% sure the 'idea' roll isn't just a fudge to get around investigators who are 'stuck' and haven't picked up on a clue.  (Which the Gumshoe system was written to 'fix, and used in Trail Of Cthulhu, the competitor in this setting).  Anyway, I'm really looking forward to playing CoC 7e.  Even ordered the Starter Set, so I can persuade some friends to have a read of a rulebook to play that isn't 250 pages long.


And adding that ... the Starter Set that I ordered has just turned up.  I'm hoping to have a play of that (via Zoom) with my regular (rpg-noob) friends soonish.  It's ages since I've DM'd anything so not leaping straight in with "Horror On The Orient Express" is probably wise!  The relatively slender 20 pages of rules (which I also have as pdf) that I can send to them should give them all the rules they'll need.  (Or maybe I'll just throw them in, and explain as we go).


Looking now to see if I can find a dice rolling app that supports 'rooms', for public rolling.   (There are web based ones, maybe we'll use that).



In answer to if anyone would be interested in a game... yes potentially I would

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What Doctor Shark said. Check out Roll20.


If you are going to run the quick-start adventure for CoC7, it is available there as a freebie. As is The Lightless Beacon, a short one for beginners.

The Starter-Set is available to buy too, but since you have it you might rather set yourself up.

These scenarios are all set up and ready to go. You will not have to do much prep. All their handouts, characters, etc. are already done for you, so you can rely on the Roll20 rolling mechanics and skill checks etc. 


Seriously, check it out. If you are playing online, it will be way better than Zoom.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Report: we played "Paper Chase" last night from the Starter Set.  The scenario is intended as an introduction for both players and keeper, and is written to be played with one of each.  I slightly modified the setting to allow, and justify, three players.

I used the full rules to build investigators, rather than using the pregens or 'quick build', because I wanted to give the players some agency over who they created and their specialisms - plus I reasoned that I could explain a little of what the characteristics and skills meant whilst they were rolling then up.  I think that worked well, and I was surprised how quickly their stats led to them choosing professions (a cook who used to be in the army,  a British socialite visiting the area and an American born mechanical engineer of Chinese heritage).  These free choices led to their skills options which they enjoyed distributing their specialisms in.  The mechanical engineer is an amateur magician, it turns out!


I explained to them that the Arnoldsburg Library hosted the monthly meetings (first Tuesday of the month) for the "Society for the Exploration of the Unexplained" and told them they had turned up to this month's meeting... But why weren't they in attendance last month?  (Encouraging them to think a bit about why their character might not have been there).  I'd decided that just the three of them were there, and as they'd not been there last month the weren't aware that this month's meeting was cancelled.  Then I moved into the 'hook' of the scenario - Timothy entering and looking for help from the society with the mysterious robbery of some of his late uncle's books.


The scenario is quite simple, and not particularly dangerous for the investigators, so I'd gambled on them surviving this one - and being able to use the same investigators for the next one.  Luckily, they did survive - despite one of them blundering in somewhat recklessly during the sole dangerous vignette.  I'd deliberately had them leave the 'verbose' character traits and 'connections' from the back of their investigator sheets free - and I'm hoping to revisit that before the second scenario.  There was definitely a more gung-ho investigator emerging, and one much more nervous and considered.  I'll let them formalise this next time to make the 'role playing' more explicitly part of them choosing their investigator's actions.  I was happy to let the player (rather than the character) guide the actions for this scenario though. (As beginners to RPGs I think baby steps might be needed).


We did end up using Zoom (we're already Zooming, and one of them is a bit resistant to trying too many new things at once), plus a web based dice roller for all the public D100 rolls - which I made them do often.  I also was nudging then away from "can I roll?" to describe "what you want to do, and I'll decide if it's a roll".  By the end, they'd got that.


I'd downloaded some nice handouts (diary entries, photo of a character) that I found online as "Paper Chase" actually only had one and I thought that sending them would 1. Break up the experience for the players and 2. Give me a chance to glance at my notes.  The full Investigator's Book (not in the Starter Set) that I own provided me with a list of typical names from the period.  These are essential when your players want to quiz other n.p.c.s, and you're ad-libbing people that the scenario didn't cover.  If I had one criticism of the Starter Set for keepers (aside if the first scenario being a little handout light) is that it doesn't really warn you that this unscripted npc stuff can be the case - and having at least a few names to hand can be the difference between a character being seamlessly integrated or bring blindingly obviously not important.  ("He says his name is ... Erm... Erm... Hang on....er John" is a particularly obvious way to spot an npc as being someone insignificant).


My players (as you'd hope) defied all rational logic, and took surprising decisions in where they went and what they tried - but only on a couple occasions did "Timothy" have to nudge them to try something other than creeping around his house. I don't think they felt railroaded though.


The unified skills and characteristics rolls make CoC 7e a doodle for new players to get how performing a "check" works, and the "hard" and "extreme" is also very easy to implement. I really like that, and it's ever so easy to explain as you go.


I was pleased my players encountered temporary madness through sanity loss, physical injury and opposed rolls which came up naturally within the scenario. Combat wasn't required (despite the gung-ho cook's efforts), so that'll come next time I think.


I ended the session with them rolling to see if their skills they successfully used were improved - which is intuitive and logical in it's operation. 


All in all I'm very impressed with it.  Looking forward to next time (hope my player are too!)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice writeup! CoC is my favourite RPG by far. Like a previous poster I've also played the The Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign which ran for a good few years. My character the French art dealer Jean developed a nervous laugh and a phobia of the moon.


I just love bimbling around in the 1920s/30s, piecing together the clues, getting into some absolutely terrible situations. Super fun.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Well - two more sessions down and we've tackled The Edge Of Darkness (the old classic, as included in the new Starter Set).


My three investigators fleshed out the backstories before we before this one began.  We learned a bit more who Luke Chan (widowed), Rupert Knuckles (cook) and Heath (socialite) were.  Again my players through themselves into this really well.  Some gentle nudging of questions ("Who's back home?"  "Are you married?"  "Who do you care about?") and they were becoming more human characters that emerged.


Into the scenario itself - the three investigators were asked to help an old friend, on his deathbed.  As written there a few 'plot hooks' (or red herrings) that could provide springboards for further adventures... but what do you do if your investigators get a bit fixated on them, to the exclusion of the quest they're actually supposed to be on!  In this session RK managed to getting himself banned from the Orne Library, and Luke broke into the reserved books section and stole De Vermiis Mysteriis (an arcane book that, according to the scenario as written, they shouldn't be able to get - but they were so insistent, and their efforts so entertaining, I decided to let them eventually succeed).  They'd also befriended a Languages Lecturer, but managed to completely piss off the Head Librarian.  They seemed they definitely didn't want to talk to the police about the mysterious death they'd learnt of - but DID want to tour local antique dealers, gun shops and introduce themselves to more and more n.p.c.s that I needed to ad lib.  It was all rather good fun, although not desperately action-y, and they were planning to journey to New Orleans the next day when I finally called time on that evening.


Before the next session I looked up the travel time to New Orleans (~48 hours) and decided there needed to be more urgency in the proceedings - hopefully to motivate them to actually carry out their friend's dying wish and investigate the hamlet a few miles away instead of looking for exotic art dealers in Louisiana!  I was pleased to have the affronted librarian that RK had offended cause a scene in the street - and reintroduce their dying friends wife to tell them that he'd now died in hospital.  This did the trick, and they cancelled their plans to visit New Orleans, instead visiting the farmhouse they 'should' have been heading towards.  (Borrowing a car to get there, such was their urgency now).  The people of the village near the farm were suspicious of outsiders, what with local Maggie having gone missing recently ... my investigators jumped to all kinds of conclusions about her being sacrificed, and headed to the farmhouse.  As they investigated the farmhouse (at last) my jump-in-headfirst-cook started really taking damage, trying to climb into the attic was perilously close to him dying (though he didn't know it!).  Eventually they performed the ritual - and killed two Zombies and a zombie racoon.  The climax had Luke seeing a vision of his dead wife, and the Socialite having to be physically restrained by the Cook to stop him walking into the arms (mouth) of the creature that they were trying to banish.  The same Cook he'd previously attacked when he went temporarily insane and saw him as his arch rival from back home.  Somehow they all survived, albeit by the skin of their teeth - thanks to a couple of lucky rolls (not fudged rolls, I was perfectly prepared for one to die, and had a couple of characters on standby in case).  We wrapped up the session discussing how they were going to explain the dead body of Maggie ( that they'd killed in Zombie form ). They decided they'd pin it on the hobo, (that they'd also killed as a Zombie), as they (rightly) thought the police would never believe the truth.  Investigator development ensued and I shared a few snippets of information they didn't know about, so they learnt a bit more about the surrounding story.


All told - a good couple of sessions - and again, the BRP Cthulhu 7edition is easy to get to grips with.  Combat was new to my players, yet they soon got their head around it.  And 'pushing' rolls in a narrative way was coming quite naturally to them.  Especially when they were trying to concentrate on continuing their chant ("I try to block out the noise and smell by thinking about my latin master at school and focus on the pronunciation of the words!")


Looking forward to Dead Man's Stomp next!







Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've posted this photo to our Whatsapp group and the players. 

My players loved it (and are devastated that the authorities realised the gunshots were post-death, and that Maggie, who they killed as a zombie, was engaged).



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just if anyone is interested in giving Call Of Cthulhu a go, there's some good stuff out there (for free) for the 7e rules.


There are the Quickstart rules, including the classic beginner scenario The Haunting 

https://www.chaosium.com/content/FreePDFs/CoC/CHA23131 Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules.pdf


And this video playlist gives an excellent overview of the complete rules, and a flavour of what play feels like (even if it feels like sometimes he talks rather quickly)



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

So -  my overall thoughts on new Call Of Cthulhu 7th edition Starter Set as a whole now I've run the last scenario.



The Call Of Cthulhu Starter Set, (just over £20 directly from Chaosium + postage, includes PDF version), definitely represents good value.  One could argue that Alone Against The Flames and the Quick Start Rules are available as free pdfs - but having printed versions is definitely a boon.  At £8.10 the pdf only version represents even better value - and if you're playing digitally anyway is a bargain.


Within the box you really do have (almost) everything required for many hours of running games - and enough of a flavour of 'how it works' to build your own scenarios if that route appeals.


The contents:


Alone against the Flames.  A fine introduction to the world and the basics of the system - and making the link between 'choose your own adventure' style books and tabletop RPGs is a nice gentle unthreatening introduction.  Also available as a free Pdf.


The intro rule book is well formatted and easy to read.  If I wanted anything beyond this, it'd have been a list of pre-prepared n.p.c. names (that's all, just typical names) so that in having to ad-lib a character/headstone/victim I had wasn't pulling a name from my the top of my head.  The 'Investigators Companion' book has such a list, but it's also easy enough to prepare one in advance of running a scenario.   I'd recommend all keepers, new or old, have one to hand.  This is the intro rules, reformatted - but without The Haunting scenario.


Five pre-generated character sheets covering a diverse range of backgrounds.


Character sheets to fill in and make custom investigators.  (Along with the rules to make them).  Full autocalc PDFs available direct from Chaosium - so I'd recommend making up your own set.


A set of polyhedral dice.  Includes an extra D10 for bonus/penalty roles.


A booklet of handouts.  This is the first misstep of the set in my opinion - this would have been so much more useful as loose sheets (though it's easy enough to cut the binding off) - but three of the pages in this contain more than one handout per page.  So folding/cutting would be necessary to not give out other handouts too.  Practically this will mean using the PDF (free with purchase of Starter Set from Chaosium) instead, and printing that for most players.  There are a couple of other things I'll say about handouts with respect to scenarios.


The three scenarios: (This contains spoilers for the scenarios  - perhaps don't read on, if you're going to be a player, rather than keeper).


Paper Chase - a relatively un-deadly intro scenario written for one investigator and one keeper - though I modified this for three investigators and one keeper without much trouble.  A nice short intro, and some good opportunity to role play.  This scenario highlights the importance of negotiation rather than violence.  The 'map' handout for players utterly telegraphs what is important (the graveyard) and I'd probably advise not giving players this, unless they are stuck (even then, and Idea roll might be better).  I'd also say some other handouts (of which there are some good ones online available.  Having Kimble's Diary prepared as a handout might help a new keeper/player.  Similarly I was surprised that the newspaper articles that are mentioned aren't given as handouts.  Google provided third party ones I used.). In a slightly picky way I'd also point out the (great) artwork that accompanies the scenario isn't useful insofar as the description of Kimble as Ghoul makes him sound far far more through his transformation.  The 'Ghoul' illustration is (perhaps) of help to players in imagining him.  I showed the other Kimble-reading-in-the-graveyard pics to the players after we'd played the scenario when we discussed what Kimble had been up to over the past year or so.  They don't work 'in game' as he looks nothing like that now.


Edge Of Darkness - a great blend of investigation and epic climax (fighting off the undead whilst reciting a ritual to banish an evil thing).  It's easy to join this on to the previous investigation, if you want the players to use the same characters.  There are a lot of red-herrings/potential plot hooks for the keeper to manage here.  This is A Good Thing (if you, as keeper can manage them), but can be a sticking point if the players become too focused on those rather than the job at hand.  I very nearly lost my investigators to a trip to New Orleans!  Fortunately I was able to ramp up the action locally to make that the focus of their investigation.  Worth reading other people's experiences of this scenario online before running it, to mitigate against some of the potential sticking points.


Dead Man's Stomp - this scenario, that requires the most of the Keeper, is kept for last.  Set in Harlem, and moving the action away from Lovecraft's Country and into a setting with very real historical context might require the keeper getting their head around that (Charlie Johnson's Band, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Smalls are real people, and Small's Paradise club and Harlem in 1925 are real places - perhaps the keeper might want to make sure they are 'true' to that reality as far as possible).  The criticism that is commonly levelled at Dead Man's Stomp is that it is in danger of feeling railroaded - and that the investigators are watching a story, rather than taking part.  I think that careful keepering can stop this - the very short timescale involved (scene one is the evening, the next major scene is 11am the next day).  The investigators splitting up and investigating different threads means it's far less likely to feel 'on rails' for them.  But requires gauging who's not been in the spotlight for a while, and when to push the drama.  My personal minor criticism of this scenario is not with the scenario at all (just be prepared) but in the handouts.  There are beautiful maps of 1. Harlem 1925, 2. Small's Paradise Club and 3. An Old Garage that give away in their key the name of important n.p.c.s (in the case of 2 and 3) and an important place of interest (in the case of 1) that the investigators don't know about.  It's also particularly annoying that the Keeper version of the Harlem map has a different key to the one in the player handouts and the 'numbers' don't match up.  (Columbia University is 9 on one, and 8 on the other for example).  I'd MUCH prefer the map with no key at all - and I can tell the players what the numbers mean as and when they find/need them.  (I redacted the key from the keeper's version of the Harlem map, and gave them that.).  I also redacted the key to the Small's Map, and gave them the main area they could see, and revealed the backstage area only as they went there.  Similarly The Old Garage - with it's key players didn't match my version of the key players (having introduced an n.p.c.) so I just gave them the main area they could see.  It's a shame because these handouts are beautifully done - they just give too much information to the players if not careful in my opinion.


If handled sensitively Dead Man's Stomp also has something to say about storytelling a very sad story, in a racially sensitive time.  With an epic ending.



The three scenarios can be linked (with a little work from the keeper) if desired, and make for a fun trio of stories - although it is slightly disappointing that Zombies feature in two of them.  Given the wealth of horrors available, it's a pity that we don't see a bit more variety (although people love Zombies, apparently).


All told though, despite those minor criticisms around handouts (and they are minor) this is an excellent set - a great introduction (or reintroduction, in my case) to Call Of Cthulhu - with the new 7e rules (that work excellently).




My session report on the last scenario (Dead Man's Stomp) here if you fancy a massive read, but I doubt it'll make much sense unless you've read the scenario beforehand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had Alone against the Flames sitting here for a bit waiting for me to have some time to give it a run through.


Seems a bit silly saying this when I haven't played the solo adventures that are available yet, but I really wish Chaosium would do more of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey @uglifruit, I don't suppose you'd be willing to maybe run a one shot forum game sometime, would you? I'm desperate to play this but as I said, my Pathfinder buddies aren't interested. I don't feel comfortable running it as a first time keeper, so would love to play first and see what I can learn.


Would anyone else maybe be up for a one shot? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.