Call of Cthulhu, Dice-Based TTRPG System - Lovecraftian Horror, Dieselpunk, 1920's/1930's...

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by QuietlyStalkingShadows, Sep 29, 2016.

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  1. Heya! I'm QuietlyStalkingShadows, for those who have not met me yet. I run horror RPGs, my specialty is Lovecraftian Horror/Weird Horror, with a Surreal, Psychological, and/or occasionally pulp bent. I primarily GM pen-and-paper type RPG systems and would like to see if anyone's interested in trying one out.

    Specifically, I am looking to see if anyone here on Iwaku is interested in trying a dice-based RPG system called Basic Roleplaying System. It's very simple and percentile-based; I have run it as "Call of Cthulhu" (you may have heard of it, if not see below) for about five years now and have gotten pretty good with it. The setup is similar to other pen-and-paper, dice-based tabletop systems, and don't worry - I'll handle all the hard work. :) I'll explain questions as they come, until then let me answer a few questions.

    Q. What is "Call of Cthulhu"?
    A. Call of Cthulhu, or CoC for short, is a horror RPG based upon the worlds and creatures of American Jazz era author Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Its central idea is that humans are pretty insignificant creatures, and that one day, horrible creatures - gods from ancient times long before humans were ever a blip on the radar - will return to reclaim earth. There is a lot of central themes in it, including madness, the nature of reality, cosmic/existential horror, and futile struggles. The fights are not fair, your characters are normal humans (not superpowered heroes), and it's highly likely you WILL die, go mad, or both while trying to save humanity from threats best never learned about in the first place. Make no mistake - this is a grim universe, pitting squishy but hopeful humans against things like weird aliens, eldritch dimensions, time-travel, space displacement, and horrible gods of all reality. All this, set in a Jazz era background of corruption and optimism, gangsters and rum-runners, Prohibition and the advent of new technology. It was a strange time, the 1920's in America, and when you start adding things with tentacles to the equation, it can only get stranger...

    The most important trait of CoC's system stat-wise is the Sanity stat. As your character grows more and more knowledgable and experiences odd things pertaining to the Mythos, they start to lose their grasp on reality. There are several rules for this and in fact, Sanity is more important than Health. Your PC will start with something like 9-12 HP, but 50-80 Sanity points. This reinforces the idea of CoC as a game of investigation and discovery, not fighting and winning. Though, there may just be some fights involved, depending on the plot...

    Q. What is Lovecraftian Horror/Weird Fiction/Cosmic Horror?
    A. This excellent guide to horror and its genres has a nice summary under one of its tabs, check there. :)

    Q. Wait, that sounds horrible! Why play this if I know it's futile?
    A. Hey, you might not get fame, your victory might be pyrrhic, but you know you wanna shoot some fishmen in the face, or tame a dragon-bug-horse from the stars beyond, or save the human race from sure destruction... at least for now. You might be human, but hey, we lasted this long, right?

    Q. So... no powers? :(
    A. I'm afraid not, not unless you pick up the wrong tome and learn about the horrible truth of reality... then you can learn magic, however magic has a price. The price is your sanity. The more your character learns about the reality of the universe and the... things residing in it, the more they will start losing their minds. As ya do... Don't get too attached to a character, they're not going to make it through unscathed. You will be playing a normal human being, with a normal job, normal human flaws, and human survivalism. That doesn't mean you can't pick a cool job! Be an Archaeologist, an Actor/Actress, a Doctor, a Soldier, an Author, a stodgy old Professor. How about a Houdini-style magician, a sneaky and smarmy gangster, a Tesla-like Physicist, or a Miner caught up in the workers' rights movements of the time? The sky is really the limit with characters here and their professions, and so is the character quirks. The strong point of CoC really is in its characters, and the situations your poor characters wind up in.

    Q. I'm in! What's the format like?
    A. I primarily prefer to run on Skype or another chat-style setting. I can run forum-based, but I have never done so with CoC before. Most of these games would likely be skype or chat-based but I am not decided yet on what will happen. The system is dice-based and uses a d100 system, not a d20 system. You'll need dice or a dice-rolling app to play, otherwise you can request I make all rolls for you. There will be around 3-5 people per game, per plot that I run. I will be running a somewhat slimmed-down ruleset of CoC for online play, and the rules are 7th edition rules (the most recent). I do not use bonus/penalty dice for those who care, but I sometimes grant percentile bonuses/reductions. For those familiar with CoC that would like to ask about my GMing style, please post in the thread and I will explain.

    Q. What is your "GM title" for this system? What is an "Investigator"?
    A. The GM in CoC is known as the Keeper of Arcane Knowledge, or simply Keeper, for short. You can therefore call me "Keeper QuietlyStalkingShadows" or more simply, "Keeper Shadows/Shads". I go by many names. Player characters in CoC are called Investigators because they are investigating the mystery of the plot.

    Q. Why the 1920's?
    A. It fascinates me. I think it was the last time America was really "innocent", in that it didn't really realize what anguish was yet and it thought the worst was over after WWI. America was just starting to see the fruits of social justice movements like feminism and racial equality start full force, though at the same time you had the KKK with a strong influence and general bigotry much more loudly espoused than it would ever be today. There were many scientific and technological advancements at the time in all fields - radio, movies, automobiles, train lines for cross-country travel, and the ideal of the modern city all came about during this time period. In Harlem, a renaissance was occurring with many black poets, musicians, authors, artists, and performers becoming well-known during this time, creating their own culture and social movements from the painful ashes of slavery and oppression - just as with today (think stuff like Black Lives Matter, for instance). The world was rapidly becoming bigger and more fascinating, the style of the era was absolutely lavish, and the culture was changing more and more, making the Jazz era a truly unique decade in United States history. Plus, come on. Who doesn't like the mental image of fast-talking gangsters and rum-runners, flirty flappers flaunting female sexual liberation, and swingin' Jazzmen filling dance halls to capacity while under-the-table booze was served?

    Q. Should I be concerned about any of the game's themes?
    A. I try to be historically accurate, and that unfortunately means being rather Un-PC at times while I run NPCs in the game. I will do my best to address all player concerns about how mental illness, sexism, racism, classism, and other unsavory issues are presented in the game, but I do not believe in sacrificing historical authenticity - to me, denying that bigotry happened is just as bad as allowing it to continue, no matter what sort of bigotry it is. If at any point you feel uncomfortable with something in the game - and I will and always do gauge players for how they feel about certain things before starting - you can always send me a PM and explain the issue. I will do my best to accomodate you and make sure everyone has a good time. This goes for triggers, too: CoC is NOT a game that traipses around trauma, the game world is very dark and my games in it sometimes cover the horrors of humanity as well - things like rape, murder, and significant violence can be found in them. The world is gritty and dangerous in CoC, and heavy themes are covered often; sometimes descriptions can verge on grimdark as well. If for any reason you believe you cannot handle violence, gory depictions, human horrors, discussion of the toll mental illness takes on people (I do my best to portray mental illness in particular realistically), or any other difficult ot heavy subject matter, you might not want to play CoC. If something with themes like True Detective or Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is triggering or too much for you, you probably are not going to feel comfortable in this game. Please tell me beforehand if you have any concerns with any themes brought up in a game as per the plot's description. I can't read your mind and I do not know what may trigger, offend, or hurt you if you do not tell me first.

    Q. I really actually like the cut of this Lovecraft guy's writing gib! Where can I find his work?
    A. DagonBytes' Lovecraft Library is a great resource. If you would like suggestions on where to start with HPL's work, please by all means start a discussion with me. :) I will caution for new readers - Lovecraft likes purple prose, he also unfortunately was rather bigoted himself and some of the material may upset certain readers. Reader discretion is advised.

    If I get some decent response to this, I'll post a call for players in the group RP "seeking" forum. If you have any questions (and I know this was kind of brief/Quick-n-Dirty for an interest thread), please feel free to ask and I'll answer as best I can. I look forward to the response, and to Keeping a game for those interested. Could it be you? :)
  2. Mods let me know if this is in the wrong forum so I can move it. uwu
  3. If you forum rp this, im interested.
  4. Responding so this thread does not get buried.

    For further clarification - the game IS normally played in first person POV, but can be played in third for those who prefer that. If we do it third person in a forum setting, I would expect at least a good couple sentences of writing and decision-making. Pace would be fairly quick, I'm thinking in sessions when I'm online for a few hours, with a couple responses an hour to a few responses a day.

    I can, if the chat and dice idea is too much for people, alter this to be slower-paced for a forum and trim the rules down so there is not as much of me asking for rolls. Or, I can roll for you guys. uwu
    #4 QuietlyStalkingShadows, Sep 29, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2016
  5. If this wasn't dice-based and a non-forum setting, I'd be all over it. It's nice to see some love for the Cthulhu mythos. <3

    Good luck!
  6. I looooove the Cthulu mythos, and I would definitely be interested. I'm perfectly fine with the dice-rolling, but I'm new to chat-based RPs. Other than that, I'm totally down
  7. Alright, seems like the dice are either or. The pacing of the scenario, I can alter to fit more of a third-person forum fit, although it will not be quite as quick as I would otherwise like.

    So, here's how I will do it. Dice-light version of CoC. I will handle things like SAN rolls, HP rolls, etc. I will get very basic stats from all players in a trimmed down CS style, altered for forum roleplay. Sanity will be really the ONLY major roll needed and I will handle it. That way, you don't need to do it. I have run this RPG before with very little to no dice involved; there are even scenarios that are totally diceless for this game so it IS doable. :) However since SAN fluctuates rapidly in this game, I'll be telling the players when they go crazy, how badly they go crazy, and what effects that has for them. All math/stats will be done at the start and then never really touched again by you guys; they're solely for my reference.

    Thanks for the suggestions, all. I'm not used to doing this in a forum setting and trying to figure out how to run Lovecraft shit in a more forum-y form. Helps me test new campaigns too!
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