Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Houseruling Call of Cthulhu

Like I recently posted about, I have been listening to the recorded sessions of Horror on the Orient Express campaign for Call of Cthulhu. It have kind of rekindled my old love for the game. I became a patron of Yog-Sothoth.com just the other day to show my support, and to get hold of the recordings of the latest recordings, Shadows of Yog-Sothoth - by gaslight.

So, naturally I have now gotten the urge to play CoC. The fact that I still haven't managed to get my other planned game off the ground don't stop me from dreaming.

Ever since the read Trail of Cthulhu I have been thinking that some of the inventions of that game would work excellently if brought over to CoC. I still think the BRP system superior to Gumshoe, but some aspects are interesting.

  • Drives - frankly, having a specified reason to go peeking into things that make you go mad is a good idea. Having some mechanic that brings it out into play wouldn't hurt either. 
  • Pillars of Sanity - I never really felt comfortable with the idea of gaining sanity after the adventure for defeating monsters. It works in Chill, but personally I think it feels cheap in CoC. Having some abstract beliefs and principles as the grounding of your world view opens up interesting possibilities. If something happens and the Investigator can somehow argue that he will stand it by seeking comfort in one of his beliefs, that is a cool idea. Also imagine someone having experienced something that shows his world view to be a noble lie. Instead of going insane, he could have the pillar "crumble" from within, and now have a more fragile hold on his sanity.
I'm pretty sure I could think of more. The idea of not having to roll if the clue is important is less of revolution for me. I never saw the big need for that Gumshoe invention. Letting the game grind to a halt because of a failed roll is shoddy game mastering, whatever the rules set.


  1. Wow, I had to check out this poster because I had never heard of house rules for CoC before. D&D somehow always elicited houserules, but Cthulhu rarely did. Interesting - I read Gumshoe's take and never thought it seemed worth the effort.

    One houserule I have is letting players use the Edu stat to determine skills instead of those arbitrary allotments. Players can buy an attribute x 1% in a skill for one Edu point. For example, someone wanting a Drive skill could pay 3 Edu to get Dex x 3%, while paying 2 Edu for French would give you Int x 2% in French. After all Edu is used. roll d6+2 for Other Skills.

    I would also like to try CoC with Ars Ludi's 'Tripod of Deceit'. Basically, each character has an external and internal aignment chosen from 3. In C0C these would be Old One Opponent, Ignorant Normal, and Old One Supporter. So that Evil Priest (Ext: Supporter) might actually be an undercover FBI (Int: Old One Opponent), the grotesque mutant (Ext: Supporter) would just be a harmless productof incest (Int: Normal), etc etc. Maybe give luck points or increase Pow if characters achieve the aims of their alignment.

  2. The 'house rule' that I apply from ToC is the 'auto clue'.

    If a published scenario tells me that 'a successful Library Use roll reveals clue x' I don't always call for a skill roll.

    If a clue is vital I will reveal it if the investigator looks in the right place or speaks to an appropriate person and has the suitable skill - perhaps at a certain level (and if the particular level is not present, I do call for a dice roll).

    If a roll could reveal several clues I tier the skill levels as follows"

    01-25 Reveal clue 1
    26-50 Clue 2
    51-00 Clue 3

    I might use pillars of sanity and/or drives for brand new Cthulhu players but it's an unnecessary device for old hands.

  3. Thanks for your input!

    I think the idea of using EDU is intriguing. Last night I check the difference between the BRP tome and the CoC rules. The former have not EDU stat.

    Alignment on the other hand I feel less enthusiasm for. Player characters are not supposed to be aligned with the Old Ones, and frankly, you are not even equipped with a brain able to comprehend their motives.

    Also, alignment causes brain damage...

    Auto clue I have never seen the need for. Like I said, letting a game grind to a halt because of a missed roll is just shoddy game mastering anyway, right?

    The reason I like the idea of Drives and Pillars is to codify some of the psychological make up of the Investigator. Quite an important part that haven't got any mechanic.


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