Call of Cthulhu
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.
In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
You hear the sharp crack of bones as you watch he, who you called friend for many years, finish the spell and start to transform. As the circle glowed he seemed to inflate and with a loud his the boils on his back popped, he grew in size to the point where you felt minuscule. Small, weak, pathetic you ran and ran as he finished his transformations and looks toward you. You are chased and caught, tackled into the living room of your home and torn open, painting the walls with the bright red glow of your blood and flesh. It started as a game, it ended as a nightmare.
Call of Cthulhu is horror role play at its core. The kind of stories that keep you up at night become a reality as you enter a world full of secret organizations, magic and monsters. A parallel reality to our own as you get the option to travel to any day and age. Be it ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, The Roaring 20s, Modern day or even the far future you get to uncover the horror of the unknown. The schemes of the cults and the expansion on what we think is true. Call of Cthulhu is up to its 7th edition now with a loyal fan base following it closely. Created on November 13th 1981 it has come through many re imaginations of the system itself sense release. There are even other licenses given out for a D20 system, Mobile game, card games, Miniatures and supplements for other worlds.
The game itself is ran using Chaosium’s BRP (Basic Roleplaying System) with special sanity rules. You use 2D10’s (Percentile Dice) for every skill check sanity roll or spell used in the entire game. The only time that other dice really come into play is A. DM is dealing sanity damage or B. Your dealing damage to a monster. Option A is very likely, Option B… Well If your attacking the monster your doing it wrong (Just Kidding). There is a running joke that revolves around Call of Cthulhu of “the goal is not to win but to simply survive”. Call of Cthulhu is known best for its ruthless system with, in my experience, one of the highest player casualty rates known to table top games. Every Story teller runs their game differently but the universal rule is, if the players are not scared you did something wrong.
Going back to the system itself I have heard many people ask me “Ive never played, is it hard to learn?” The best way to answer this is that the game is more about the story and the setting then the actual rules in play. Players will find themselves asking questions more often then rolling attacks. So the game itself relies on role play solely? Well no, there is combat but as a game where you are to investigate (or in some cases survive) an impending doom most COC games end up with hours of NPC to PC interaction. Knowledge is the best weapon when you are fighting the unknown and in most games simply shooting it, doesn’t help. The time that dice rolls come into play are mostly when a PC wants to perform a specific non dialogue action or are rolling to keep those valuable sanity points. Seeing something horrific or extremely out of this world causes PCs to lose there sanity slowly. Even things that would slightly make a PC uncomfortable can have an impact on the overall sanity of the character. When a player loses all sanity it is usually worst then simply losing all health. It impact the entire game when a character loses it and gives in to the madness of the Elder Gods.
As I said earlier every Story Teller tells their story differently. I prefer a more subtle horror with the realization of whats going on being the major shock rather than the shock and awe effect but I will admit I am a bit of a gore junky. I like to make the answer unclear and leave the truth to the imagination of the player, all they get is the satisfaction that whatever it was has stopped. The best advice I could give any starting ST is: try and hold true to the best explanation of fear I have ever heard, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” -H.P. Lovecraft. Make your game, the Unknown.
For more information you can tweet questions at me at: @HowlPhilinish
Or Visit the offical site of Chaosium: http://www.chaosium.com/
Dont Forget I have a GoFundMe set up at: gofund.me/9x7cq35s
And tune in on Wednesday, January 6th where I will run a COC Game, live streamed by EvilSqueeGee!