Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hazarding Exposure To Call Of Cthulhu

I made mention earlier of the inspiration behind my blog title, A Paladin In Citadel. Part of the inspiration is from the classic Sutherland illustration, entitled A Paladin In Hell, from the original AD&D Players Handbook. The "Citadel" part of that blog title is now, hopefully, also clear.

What about the other part of the blog title, namely, being a Paladin? It surely does not stem from Paladin being my favorite character class, as I never played a Paladin, nor had interest in doing so. I always felt that the Paladin, and other specialist classes, paved the way for stat inflation and character-building systems, which both, in my mind, are anathema to the point of the original "old-school" character creation system -- the challenge of playing a character, based on what the dice present you, rather than what you wanted to play.

No, the reference to being a Paladin comes partly from what we played and how we played it. While there were lots of games we played back in the day, including several boardgames and microgames, you would never have described our gameplay as incorporating either "weird" or "horror" elements. As far as RPGs went, we played Dungeons & Dragons and Traveller, straight up. I was in a pretty white-bread gaming group.

Oh, sure, I was acquainted with Call Of Cthulhu, Arduin Grimoires, Tunnels & Trolls and the other alternative rpgs that sprang up in the late 70's and early 80's. But two things prevented a thorough introduction to any of them: one was cash (or lack thereof, I was in my tweens during the late 70's and early 80's and had neither a job nor regular allowance); the other was arrogance (thinking that first-to-market or biggest-in-market meant best). Until the mid-eighties, scraping enough money together to buy even the core D&D books or the occasional microgame was a challenge. Living in (rpg) poverty and being arrogant about your beliefs = Paladin.

Luckily, my brother did have a job, which meant there were boardgames and rpg books in the house, even if I was technically barred from accessing them (good luck with that).

So I did get exposed to a wide variety of games. But one of the few that I did not have the opportunity to experience was Call Of Cthulhu. Trey, the author of the blog From The Sorcerer's Skull, posted an entry recently, mentioning a Call Of Cthulhu monster encyclopedia, entitled Malleus Monstrorum. He, in addition to several other bloggers, are in the habit of posting interesting tidbits about games weird and horrible, of which many reference Call Of Cthulhu and Basic Role Playing.

While my recent trip to The Sentry Box failed to yield a copy of Malleus Monstrorum, I have come into possession of several other BRP and Call Of Cthulhu resources, which I will bravely hazard exposure to, in the name of all that is good, light and true. They are:

  • Basic Role Playing: The Chaosium Roleplaying System -- this 400 page tome is (as I understand it) the underpinning for the Call Of Cthulhu game.
  • Cthuhlu: Dark Ages -- 175 pages of supplementary material, to allow you to set your Call Of Cthulhu game in the period around 1000 A.D.
  • Cthuhlu Invictus -- a 165 page Cthulhu Sourcebook, suitable for use in running an Ancient Roman Empire based campaign.
  • Masks Of Nyarlathotep: -- Chevski was sufficiently enthusiastic about this particular 160 page 1920's-setting Call Of Cthulhu adventure that I could not pass on the opportunity, when I discovered it on the used-game bookshelves at The Sentry Box.

Do I need to buy the Call Of Cthulhu rulebook, or is possession of the BRP book and the above supplements and adventure a suitably broad introduction to this game system?


ze bulette said...

As a game collector, even if you don't ever play BRP or CoC, I highly recommend them. They are well produced and excellent systems, and even though I don't play with them currently, I've always felt them worthy of respect.

Trey said...

I'm with ze bulette here. I have played CoC in a long time, but I own a couple of supplements because of my love of things Lovecraftian.

I can't provide too much help to your query, as I don't own the BRP book to compare the two.

Oh, and interesting revelation that you've never played a paladin. I remember my first (and only) paladin-- Sir Cardeon, fondly.

NetherWerks said...

You can usually find an older edition of Call of Cthulhu RPG fairly cheap. The CoC rules are less dense than the massive BRP-codex. That's a real kitchen-sink kind of RPG-manual. The Dreamlands supplement is really very easily accessible and can cross-over into a standard fantasy environment with minimal to no effort. The main thing is to read Lovecraft's stories, and get the players to get into the spirit of the thing. The ongoing loss of sanity, creeping sense of doom and dread...whether serious or cheesy, it can be a lot of fun with the right group.

Roger the GS said...

As long as BRP contains rules for dynamite, shotguns, burning gasoline and acid you are mostly good. However, I think you would still need CoC for the sanity rules.

Akrasia said...

Roger, the BRP goldbook includes CoC's sanity rules.

In terms of rules, the BRP goldbook includes everything that you need for CoC, except information on Lovecraftian monsters and deities.

The CoC core book also includes a lot of helpful campaign information (Mythos info, tips for running CoC adventures, material on the 1920s, etc.), as well as four scenarios. Personally, I would be very reluctant to run a CoC campaign without it.

How much do you want for that copy of 'Masks of Nyarlathotep'?!?

A Paladin In Citadel said...

So the CoC rulebook is a worthwhile
purchase then?

I gather this is a popular adventure... if are you looking for a copy, I will check to see if there was another one at TSB (I have no particular attachment to this one, but if they have another copy, we both get a prize).

A Paladin In Citadel said...

So the CoC rulebook is a worthwhile
purchase then?

I gather this is a popular adventure... if are you looking for a copy, I will check to see if there was another one at TSB (I have no particular attachment to this one, but if they have another copy, we both get a prize).

Akrasia said...

Yeah, the CoC rulebooks is worth getting, IMO. It's one of my favourite corebooks around.

As for MoN, please don't worry about it, as I just learned that Chaosium is reprinting an updated version of it, and I probably will not be able to run it in the meantime. (I have the PDF in any case.)

P. S. Mangus said...

Yes, CoC is a very worthy purchase. Here are the quick start rules in case you want to check them out: