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Experiencing the Call of Cthulhu

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Call of Cthulhu is the world’s best roleplaying game of mystery and horror.

In Call of Cthulhu, you take on the role of everyday people who become investigators of the unknown – whether they are prepared or not. The mysterious places, people, and situations you encounter are often not what they seem – you and your friends are the only thing standing in the way of diabolical cults and cosmic monsters from beyond space.

Becca Scott on Call of Cthulhu RPG

INVESTIGATORS OF THE UNKNOWN

Call of Cthulhu investigators come from all walks of life: from journalists, librarians, and school teachers, to private eyes, taxi drivers, and hobos. They face mysteries that cannot be explained by rational or scientific means and which concern ancient and forgotten lore that humanity was not meant to know.

Female Investigator

Your investigator is unique. You choose a number of elements that make up your investigator, including:

  • Your occupation.
  • Your skills.
  • The people in your life who are important to you.
  • Locations that are meaningful to you.
  • Items you carry of personal significance.
  • Your ideology and beliefs.

Over the course of play, your investigator improves their skills based on the choices you make – but beware – encountering the strange horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos can leave its own marks and scars. Be it tomes of forbidden lore, unnatural spells of power, or alien entities – all such things will test an investigator’s mind and body.

Investigators are heroes making a stand against insurmountable odds and, perhaps, saving the world as we know it.

THE CTHULHU MYTHOS

Ancient and unimaginable beings from beyond the stars; monsters made manifest from outside of time; and mortal cultists who worship both, their minds twisted by forbidden knowledge.

Exposure to such horrors can result in madness: While WE might crave both comfort and the truth, only one or the other is possible.

Mythos Monsters

As your investigator discovers more about the Cthulhu Mythos, their mind may become affected and corrupted as they try to reason with things humanity was not meant to know. Measured as Sanity points, your investigator’s resilience to trauma and horror has a bearing on how the shadows of the Cthulhu Mythos haunt their lives. As their perception of reality becomes twisted, they begin to realize the world they thought they knew is a lie.

GAME MECHANICS

Call of Cthulhu is a skill-based system with a focus on character development and simple but evocative mechanics.

It uses percentile dice (D100) to determine success and failure, so a Stealth skill of 50 means you have a 50% chance of success. This makes it very simple to understand your likelihood of succeeding at any given task, regardless of your experience with roleplaying games.

When you succeed, you’ll have a chance for that skill to improve as your investigator learns by doing.

In the game, you must work together to solve mysteries, avoid grisly death, and win the day, using the resources and contacts your investigator can find. Sometimes luck is on your side, but, in the end, it’s your choices that determine the fate of your investigator.

An RPG where FEAR is the point!

In a horror story — and in Call of Cthulhu — the fear is the point.

You can bring Cthulhu into almost any world

There are multiple settings available for Call of Cthulhu. The original game has a default setting of the 1920’s, the era most of Lovecraft’s original stories were set in. But there’s also Cthulhu by Gaslight which lets you move the game to 1890’s London so you can have Jack the Ripper or Sherlock Holmes show up if you’d like, and further books and settings exist that allow for squamos bloated monstrosities from beyond the stars who look on all human life with the dispassion and alienation of a cosmic storm to show up in the year 1000 AD, Ancient Rome, the 23rd Century, and even “modern” times.

Of all these settings, the most supported are probably Delta Green which takes conspiracy theories and X-Files style paranoia and fuses it with the Mythos and the aforementioned Cthulhu by Gaslight. But there have been a ton of supplements and additions to Call of Cthulhu over the years (including licensed properties) so if you want to run a CoC game set in pretty much any historical era you could likely find rules for it.

Your sanity is a key resource

Sanity loss means you’re learning more about the Mythos and the creatures that creep and caper in the shadows, behind the pretense of sanity and normality that keeps the world running. The more you learn about the Cthulhu Mythos, the more your sanity is likely to decline.

Lose too much, and you go from an investigator trying to defend the world from that which cannot be known to someone more likely to summon such horrors… or you may just get eaten by one. It’s a big part of the game, as continued exposure to entities and monstrosities that just don’t make sense will eventually break even the most dedicated and brave.

So if you’re down for a RPG that’s more about working out what’s really happening and trying not to go mad than kicking in the door and attacking with your +2 Greatsword, give Call of Cthulhu a try. It’s one of the grandmothers of horror RPGs for a reason.

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