Call of Cthulhu, the roleplaying game

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2008
The roleplaying game of Call of Cthulhu is pretty old: it was originally released in 1981 and has gone through seven editions since. I used to play it at university and enjoyed it a lot. Out of interest, I bought the current starter boxed set (£30, which is a fair price) and had a look.

CoC is basically the opposite of Dungeons & Dragons. Instead of mighty warriors, you play weak, normal people who will probably either go mad or die in combat very quickly when the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos arrive. You don't get tougher as you play and it's best to avoid physical confrontation. Almost all the career options are featured in Lovecraft somewhere or feel very period-appropriate: antiquarians, scholars, artists and the odd detective or bootlegger are common. It is exceedingly true to Lovecraft's world, although some aspects are slightly modernised and some of the better elements from Lovecraft's imitators are included. In short, it's done right.

The starter set includes a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure booklet ("If you open the tome, turn to 34. If you run screaming into the night, turn to 12"). This cleverly introduces the workings of the game to the reader. Also included are three adventures, two of which I remember from the old days. I look forward to giving them a go, once I've convinced some friends to join in.
It never quite caught on at my gaming club back in the day. D+D, Traveller, Villains and Vigilantes and Aftermath were the most popular.
That said, I think they had by far the best writing in their adventures of any of the first wave RPGs.
I played CoC a lot at college and Uni. I don't think I had a character that didn't go insane...
The HP Lovecraft Historical Society produce some very gorgeous props to enrich your game.
And a lot of other stuff to enrich your life.
you play weak, normal people
My first CoC character was Professor Arthur Wendlebury. He didn't last long. I remember buying silver watch chains to pack into shotgun cartridges and then failing a driving roll (our GM was ruthless) and ending up in a duck pond.
i just found out my local library has a group doing a lovecraft game. i might look into it, though i don't understand how it works.
One of the best things about CoC is how easy it is to convert early adventures to the new edition.
Wouldn't touch it with a bargepole.

Just think - what's the High Priest of the Great Old Ones, The Great Dreamer, The Sleeper of R'lyeh going to do when He returns and finds out that some people are actually playing a game using His name and image?

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn indeed, but only until the stars are right...:eek:
i've been looking into CoC, a group at my library are starting "Masks of NyarlHOTEP this week. i saw that the "campaigns" can go on for months! i can't, at present, get involved with something that in depth.'m i dealing with some health issues. but i would really like to read about anyone's adventures and experiences! it sounds like a lot of fun.
I learned a year or two back that CoC is by far the most popular RPG in Japan. I’ve only played it a little bit but we played Elric/ Stormbringer for years so I’m familiar with the rules.
In light of that, there was a documentary about p 'n' p RPGing in general--Secrets of Blackmoor--which is remarkable because it reveals that the origin of the hobby is tabletop wargaming and attempts to quantify reality, whether it's wars or investigating dungeons or mansions.

Also, I remember one point raised in one Lovecraft website, that Lovecraft didn't like movies, radio programs, etc., and probably also didn't like board or card games, and so on.

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