Introduction – The origin of the game
Section One – Open Box – reliving the memories of playing the game for the first time and the faltering start.
Section Two – Judge Blythy Rules! – The Armchair Adventurers’ Resident Rules Lawyer discusses the finer points of the rules and style of play. We also speculate on what horrors have faced British Prime Ministers.
Section Three – White Dwarf – @dailydwarf talks about his early experiences of playing Call of Cthulhu and selects his favourite item from the pages from the halcyon days of the UK’s best gaming magazine.
Section Four – An invitation to listeners to contribute their stories of playing Call of Cthulhu in the early days.
Look out for a Micro Grod Pod coming soon featuring a list of our favourite CoC supplements and a current online pricing guide.
Episode 3 will feature TRAVELLER RPG
10 thoughts on “Episode 2 (Part 1) Call of Cthulhu RPG”
No love for the Cthulu Mythos skill from Judge Blythy? The fact that the more you knew about the true tentacular horror of the cosmos the less stable you were (the skill limited how high your SAN could be) was a neat touch even if, given the brief lifespan of CoC characters, it rarely had much effect. A word of praise should go to the Credit Rating Skill though more for the idea than the execution. It was the first step away from having to count every nickel (or copper piece if you were playing DnD) in your characters’ pockets to decide if they could afford the dynamite to blow up the cultists with. (Nowadays I’d be more inclined to make it a stat or an advantage than a skill but it was a step forward.)
And despite what @dailydwarf may feel, I’d certainly call Lovecraft a nihilist. It wasn’t something that WHITE DWARF would talk about in the 80s but his rage against the twentieth century was quite sincere and his racism (though strangely variable with people he actually knew) was sincere and vile.
Can’t remember who said it (one of my fellow pontificators on rpg.net) but it’s true:
“The Cthulu Mythos combines the three things Lovecraft feared the most. A cold, uncaring universe. People and cultures of non-Anglo-Saxon origin. And fish.”
The most Lovecraftian fun I’ve been having recently has involved playing a year long weekly campaign of THE LAUNDRY FILES in which my friends got to be one of the UK’s leading response teams to intrusions of hostile extra-dimensional entities while filling out their time sheets and going on civil service training courses. I was perhaps too generous to them and there were only two occasions of temporary insanity (be very careful what you look at while using a Tilinghast Resonator) and one outright death. To compensate I ended the campaign with them stuck in the Tibetan mountains with no reasonable explanation of how they came to be there.
My main issue was with Simon Nicholson equating materialism and atheism with nihilism (at least, that’s the way I inferred it). I count myself as a materialist and atheist, but I’m no nihilist. You’re right though: Lovecraft’s hatred of scientific progress could be viewed as nihilistic. As I said, I have trouble squaring that with the avuncular old gent of his letters. A complex character. (The racism in some of his stories though certainly can’t be denied, or excused.) I do like that quote from rpg.net.
I’ve not seen The Laundry Files RPG, but I have read a few of the novels by Charles Stross. I can imagine they lend themselves well to an RPG; sort of Call of Cthulhu meets Top Secret, with a dash of Paranoia thrown in. I’ll have to check it out.
Well, be fair. In Lovecraft’s case it was true! His atheism and materialism lead directly to his nihilism. The peculiar thing about HPL is how closely he reflects modern day Fundamentalism in some of its assumptions particularly the one that goes: if you don’t believe in God you can have no moral compass at all and will degenerate into moral monsters willing to do anything for your own transient pleasure’. Think of the speech about how at the end times everyone will become ‘like the Great Old Ones’ and die in a final orgy of violence and raw appetite.
One of the hardest things to get modern players to see is that essentially 19th Century idea. I’ve often heard people say: “So the universe is cold and uncaring? So what?”
The rule about the mythos skill impacting on sanity is an interesting one. In principle it is indeed a clever rule with a neat logic behind it. However, in my experience of playing, it’s never come into effect because it’s impossible to get a mythos skill of more than around fifteen percent. For that reason it’s really a rule that isn’t a rule as it never has any impact. That said, it probably did deserve a mention. My perspective is really that of a player though and given that it never affects things, it never seems such a significant rule.
Another thoroughly enjoyable episode. Impossible to cover everything, of course, but an interesting titbit, confirmed by Sandy Petersen in interviews, is that the sanity mechanic had its origin in Tunnels and Trolls!
G. Arthur and Philip J. Rahman wrote an article for the summer 1980 issue of Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Flying Buffalo’s gaming and fiction magazine) called “The Lovecraft Variant,” which adapted the T&T rules to the novel setting of Lovecraft’s stories. Was it the first Lovecraftian RPG, other than adding mythos creatures to fantasy games? I’m afraid I don’t know, but it’s the earliest I’ve found.
You might like to check out the latest edition of Call of Cthulhu (7th edition), which has been revised to address all the potential issues raised in the podcast. You can even download a free Quick-Start of the 7th edition rules and a free solo adventure to play:
Hi Mike – We are visiting Dragonmeet. Would it possible to have a quick (10 minute chat) for the podcast? I’d like to ask some questions about how you began playing and some of your early experiences, and favourite mechanics/ supplements. I think our listeners would be interested in your early experiences, but I understand that it is likely to be a very busy day for you.
Let me know if you’re interested and how we should arrange it.
Happy to. I am going to arriving as early as I can without sacrificing any actual sleep so mid-morning. I will probably not get to the front of the line early enough to sign up for one of the morning games so will most likely be able to do it early. Roger will be there being all Man In Black from an ungodly hour. Contact me via e-mail nearer the time and we will arrange how to meet up.
Just a note to remind you to e-mail me before the weekend if you still want to do the interview. Drop me a line at email@example.com and we can exchange mobile numbers and meet up at the con.
Thanks for listening! I managed to catch your interview with MoB this week and I must admit that was beginning to be drawn towards trying 7th edition. Although I maybe a crusty old Grognard, I do like to test out later editions of my favourite games. I really like RQ6 for example.
After CoC 5th and 6th editions, I’ve never really been impelled to try out another edition, because I thought that the additions may result in mere window-dressing. CoC 6th edition looks great, but it’s almost impossible to find anything during the run of play.
We are going to return to some of the games we’ve covered at some point in the future, so I will give 7th edition a try before then. You made a good case on the Tales of Mythic Adventure podcast, and I must admit, I feel duty bound to support Rick, Jeff and MoB in their heroquest to save Chaosium!