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Posts posted by klecser

  1. 13 hours ago, TrippyHippy said:

    That said, 2021 will be a 40th Anniversary for Call of Cthulhu, so it could be an idea to make a special publication - whatever that would be - to mark the occasion. 

    IIRC, Mike indicated that there were some special plans for this in the works. 

  2. 7 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

    Sorry if I am asking a dumb question.. but if I remember right... Luck can only be used to turn normal failure into normal success, but can't affect fumble, special and critical... isn't that right?!

    By the letter of the RAW, sure. But YGWV. If a Keeper decides that a player can buy off a firearm malfunction, then they can.

    Lloyd brings up another struggle we have in the hobby. And that is how different people attenuate to RAW. Personally, I think that it is fully appropriate that, if you go to an FLGS or a Con, it is fair for you to expect the RAW to be used, because it helps players to manage their expectations of what a new Keeper will and will not do.

    The other side of this coin is that there are also people who seem to think (and I'm not saying that Llyod is one of them) that the RAW of any game should be treated as sacred, and that people who violate the RAW in their home games are "doing it wrong." The truth is that everyone's game will vary, and you can do whatever you want with the ruleset. If I were Keeping at an FLGS or Con and knew in advance that I wanted to play the RAW differently, I would just be upfront about that at the table.

    This is central to the discussion because everyone has a different base set of assumptions for how mechanics work in the game. People don't like to have their assumptions contended with. Yet, all of us attenuating to universal application of the rules would basically just mean some people wouldn't have fun. I've been wondering why people are so passionate about one side of this discussion. And it may very well come down to perspective on RAW.

  3. 3 hours ago, Tranquillitas Ordinis said:

    Dear klecser,

    I have a slightly different perspective. I also do not like the "dice tell the story" attitude. I agree that dice do not tell the story, simply because they can not talk. Players make the story and dice are just tools. What are these tools for?

    I follow the philosophy that dice pick between different branches of history (or between the alternative game universes). Any time we roll a dice, several outcomes are possible: failure, success, hard success etc. Each outcome is a different history, different time-line. And here is where I probably disagree with you: all these branches can be interesting. You say:


    I agree, and I think our perspectives are closer than you think. In the time I've spent thinking about this, it appears as if there is some degree of semantic differences that fuels the difference in perspective. Earlier in the thread Ian Absentia commented that this debate has never been resolved. Yet, we keep flogging the dead horse. Why? I think it is for two reasons. First, we all want everyone at the table to have fun. And there certainly are differences of opinion of what makes something fun. And while fun may seem like something locked to the one experiencing it, in a collaborative game it is not. One person's fun can be another person's dissatisfaction. Second, and related to the first, is the impression I get that some people believe that their fun at the expense of others is perfectly reasonable. This is where the table contract comes in. Any Keeper running a table needs to communicate with their players. And really probe what people find fun and what they don't. Communication is difficult. Questions I am very curious about: To what extent is there a division in the hobby? Tables that define "fun" by a particular creed and tables that define drastically different rules for said fun? How many are mixed and what challenges present themselves under those circumstances?


    All these examples are examples of failure, suggesting that failure is inherently less interesting. Why? We could take all your three examples and build exciting stories on top of them. The fact that we remember one "branch" of the story (the one we found in the book/ movie) being interesting, does not imply that other "branches" would be boring.

    Failure is indeed interesting. But something being interesting and something being satisfying do not always coincide. That is what I was getting at with those examples. Failure in any of those situations would certainly be interesting. But it doesn't satisfy. And I think that might be getting to the crux in differences in preference for story-telling. I personally do not believe that it is easy to craft both interesting and satisfying under random conditions. The dice don't know what satisfies people. People do. And whether one fudges dice or fudges description, the end result is some fudging is needed somewhere if we intend to produce satisfying. And before people jump on me, I never said that satisfying means "players always win." I've never said that. I've given my prime example of dissatisfying earlier in the thread: Random flukes that produce inane, satisfaction-killing, absurd outcomes.


    This is why I really dislike fudging rolls. If we can alter the result on the dice, why are we even using them? I have to accept the result I rolled, even if I do not like it, because it forces me to be creative, to think how to make any possible outcome interesting. If I wanted my players to succeed I would not require any rolls, or would not roll for their opponents. Or would just "rail-road" the players in a way that leads their characters to a desired point. Or would use mechanic similar to the "Trail of Cthulhu", were investigation-related tasks can be performed without any rolls. I feel much more honest, when I do not pretend that I follow rules, just to alter or violate them any time I find them uncomfortable.

    We're using them to inject an element of chance. Not complete and total governance by chance. And that is the key to what I oppose. I know role-players that wholeheartedly believe that a story in game should be determined entirely by chance, and if everyone leaves the table having seen nothing fun, interesting, or satisfying happening, then oh well. We were at the "mercy" of the dice all along. I guess the dice didn't allow an interesting story. Can you imagine a novelist rolling dice in writing a story or character? It would be a disaster. And yet, you get role-players treating the dice as if they are the sacred arbiter of story-telling. It is bizarre, and in my opinion is a liability in the hobby. :)


    I could even say more, I love when uncomfortable, or just bad rolls ruin all my plans! Keeper is the only player that most of the time has no fun from discovering anything "new" in the story. Keeper knows all NPC, their motivations, knows the story, who killed who, which clue leads where etc. There is nothing left to discover for him. But when players do something unexpected, or have terrible rolls that could lead them to immediate damnation, this usually alters the story significantly. And suddenly I—as the Keeper—have something new to discover! I have to quickly rethink the plot, the NPCs behaviors etc. which opens a completely new universe of possibilities, and makes me feel like I am exploring the world together with my players.

    I think it is important to note that positive things can be different and interesting as well. I can't tell you the number of times that my players completely upended my plans and then succeeded. And I had a blast seeing them succeed. Part of me also thinks that there is this delight in seeing people fail. Why can't there be delight and interest in seeing them succeed? But this seems to be the argument of many. If they don't see threat, they can't imagine failure, and if they can't imagine failure, then the endeavor isn't worth doing. It's almost as if the journey is irrelevant to them? The legacy of Gygax is that he has engendered what I consider to be only one perspective as to what can be satisfying in the hobby. I believe his players knew what they signed up for and it isn't my job to tell them how to have fun. But I also think the consequence of Gygax' success is that he created a generation of role-players that equated brutal unyielding chance with fun. I happen to not equate those two things. And I also believe it to be a tactical wargamer's perspective not a story-telling perspective. When someone tells me that I'm cheating by fudging, what I really hear people saying is I define what is fun and what you define as fun doesn't matter. And I basically refuse to accept that.


    Of course any approach is "good", because any RPG group has their own definition of "good".  For me, constant failure in CoC (especially when you play with new, inexperienced characters) is a natural outcome of the fact that CoC characters are not "heroes". They have no useful skills, they have no knowledge, they do not know how to use magic, and even though they still think that they can save the world. No, it is highly improbable. If you are a librarian whole life, and your Firearms is 10%, you can not probably win a shooting with cultists. So the characters will fail, they will go insane or die, but it will all happen in the most exciting ways. Because, believe me, you can enjoy a failure in CoC, if there was a good story behind it. And moreover, if the characters somehow succeed, players will remember that forever.

    Yeah, I don't disagree. We're closer than you might think. I think the key difference is that I view the satisfying outcome possibilities as being just as interesting under circumstances of "unexpected success" as "unexpected failure." And while don't begrudge anyone their preference of "unexpected failure is more satisfying," I also find it a cynical way to game. To each their own. But gaming is for everyone. Not just the cynical.

    I think it is important that we discuss these things. If we want better tables, we have to understand each other better. The exact wrong thing to do would be to not talk about perspectives on fudging.

    • Like 2

  4. 5 hours ago, David Scott said:

    Recent uses have been to stop a gun malfunction (but still a miss), throwing someone off a train in a grappling fight (missed by 1%), falling through a trapdoor (avoiding serious injury missed by 35%). I think the highest spend ever was on a dodge roll when a machine gun opened up on them (around 60%).

    Similar experiences. My players aren't fools. Why do Keepers treat their players like fools? Why do Keepers assume their players will make foolish decisions when given agency?

    Let's take the gun malfunction as an example for the topic.

    Jane brings her rifle to bear against the cultist bearing down on her. She pulls the trigger. It jams! But Jane is determined to stop this vile organization. She checks the bolt action quickly, finds a misalignment, and rights it. (Luck spent) *Boom* The Cultist won't be spreading their vile poison anymore! At least this one, of legion.

    Some gamers prefer for the encounter to go the other way. Jane pulls the trigger and it jams. And that's fine. There is nothing wrong with that. But I think that the key thing here is that there is also nothing wrong with the alternative.

    I just really dislike the "dice tell the story" exclusively attitude. I understand the logic behind it. People want random elements injected into their stories to make them more exciting. But "random elements" of plot and situation alone are never what make a story interesting. They never have been. Luke misses his shot on the exhaust port because he fumbled the roll is not interesting to me. Professor Armitage fumbling his spell casting in the denouement is not interesting to me. Trinity missing the point blank shot on the Agent, resulting in Neo dying, is not interesting to me.

    I'm pretty sure that anyone who acts like their stories are completely random are deliberately ignoring the ways in which they make choices that guide story. "Dice alter the story" is more to my taste, and maybe I'm just splitting hairs on the language. But I've listened to gamers speak on this for ages and many that I know act like dice are the only vehicle that alters the story. It's a shame too because that is pretty self-deprecating.

    • Like 2

  5. 18 minutes ago, uglifruit said:

    Do you find spending luck to modify rolls only makes sense within a Campaign-type setting (where Luck becomes a resource that the Investigators might want to hold back?).

    Great question. I predominately do campaigns, but I've also run one-shots at FLGS' and with friends. Keeping each type of game is very different.  Pros and cons that I perceive for using Luck in each type:

    Campaign Pros: Luck can really give a sense of both excitement and relief when it helps players succeed. The Group Luck roll really helps to balance Luck use because everyone suffers if someone blows all their luck in a short time. Players get attached to their characters, and while I appreciate the nature of CoC being about lethality, it also isn't a Keeper's (or anyone's) job to tell anyone how they should feel about their game experiences. All of the "but that isn't the right way to play CoC!' voices in the audience, I'm looking at you.

    Campaign Cons: The Group Luck roll can also make it so that players are afraid to spend Luck and it actually becomes a source of anxiety for them. Maybe this isn't really a Con, because then you're just playing 1E-6E. 😜  A Con may be that Luck rewards are a thing and it is something the Keeper has to consider and manage. If you don't like managing numeric statistics of a group, that is a downside.

    One-Shot Pros: Can ease the likelihood of an early player death that leaves them sitting at the table. It gives them the power to decide how big of a risk they want to take in a situation rather than the Keeper deciding that. Obviously bringing extra character sheets can alleviate this too. As above, some players like the idea of a sense of control over big moments or as a security blanket. Players do fear getting an inexperienced or vindictive Keeper that will leave them high and dry for most a game.

    One-Shot Cons: Min-maxers will deliberately withhold spending Luck until the one critical moment and then blow it all to craft a critical success, thereby getting what they want: "winning" a role-playing game. Many Keepers restrict Luck spending at all in one-shots or limit the total amount of Luck that can be spent in a one-shot. I've heard "no more than half" as a common example. 

    Those are not exhaustive lists. Others will come up with other examples. That's just off the top of my head whilst doing three things at once. 

    All of that said, and on point to this topic, we have trust issues in the hobby.  A lot of these discussions seem to boil down to "I can't trust my players" or "I can't trust my Keeper."  It boggles my mind that some Keepers especially seem to assume that their players have poor story intentions or aren't smart enough to manage mechanics. And there are certainly both players and Keepers that exhibit all of the traits we dislike about each group. It is important for us to assume the best first, IMO.



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  6. I'm enjoying that first scenario. Yithians feature prominently in my campaign and I've targeted that scenario for an immediate adventure hook option for my players. It will take some development, but it has lots of potential. Now that I'm thinking about it, I think I need to go back and re-read Devil's Swamp, because Serpent People feature heavily in my campaign as well.


    @davewire , I am really appreciating your contributions to the community!

    • Like 1

  7. 1 hour ago, Kyle said:

    A lot of people criticize fudging and a lot of people criticize not fudging. To me, it depends on how you see your campaign. If you think the story aspect of the campaign is more important then you should take control of the narrative and fudge rolls. If you see the game aspect as more important than that then you shouldn't fudge. That's the way I see it.

    I'd add that, if everyone is having fun, that is all that matters. 

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  8. @Mike M, just to be clear, we're not saying you're doing a bad job or anything. This is your cheering squad. ;) That doesn't mean we don't have opinions about what we'd like to see, of course. I am super psyched for the future of CoC!

    • Like 2

  9. 45 minutes ago, Mike M said:

    Shadows Over Stillwater is exactly that type of shorter campaign, each scenario is pretty much stand alone but builds on the others. 

    In terms of form, yes. But it is Down Darker Trails. I think what people are really saying is that that they want a short campaign for 1920s. Personally, I believe Shadows Over Stillwater is easily adapted to 1920s.

  10. 1 hour ago, ColoradoCthulhu said:

    I agree. Shorter campaigns that take several months of play are preferable to the year-long campaigns. We have Masks and Orient Express (and hopefully the other lengthy classic campaigns mentioned above at some point), so new Call of Cthulhu campaigns should be written with this shorter time frame in mind. A campaign that takes three months is much more likely to be played to the last act than one that requires a huge investment of time.

    Your point is very well taken and I agree. I do want to pitch to everyone in the audience that you do not have to think of any campaign as a self-contained entity. Many campaigns have sandbox-y, "interim" scenarios that can be easily lifted and put into other campaigns. Granted, this does take a little bit of work and not all scenarios are good candidates. I actually think a big part of the work is simply accepting a different perspective and having the courage to make the change. The key thing for all of us to remember: these are our games. We define how to use the products. Not everyone has the time or desire to "cut and paste" scenarios, of course, and it is overall less work to run from self-contained.

    An example: Anyone in the audience who has Masks, check out The Derbyshire Horror as a candidate for a "cut-and-paste" campaign mentality.  It is well-suited, in my opinion, for four reasons: 1) The characters and situations are compelling and do not need any prior setup. The situation is easily connected into or out. 2) There is the prospect of gaining an ally from the scenario, further strengthening it's connection to the latter parts of a campaign. 3) Mam Tor is a locale located nearby that can be made into anything you want it to be. It became a key location for me. It became the holding place of a three-volume Necronomicon, each volume possessed by a different Spirit. It also contained the "prophecy" that is a huge continual source of dread and anxiety for my play group. Tee hee hee. ;) 4) I don't think it's very difficult to shift the location from England to New England or another locale.

    • Like 2

  11. 2 minutes ago, twofeet said:

    What I'd love to see are shorter campaigns. Something we can run in say 6-12 sessions, or 20-40 hours instead of 90+. For a lot of groups, I suspect this may be more achievable then some of the awesome-looking but difficult-to-actually-run mega-campaigns. 

    This is a really good point. Diversify, diversify, diversify. All of the existing shorter campaigns are for specific settings or Pulp (Shadows, Cold Fire). I'm certain that the team knows this and is working on it. I am very eager to see The Children of Fear.

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  12. I appreciate that course. If Call of Cthulhu is to survive, it must reinvent and grow. That means attracting new players while simultaneously offering something fresh to veterans. Anyone who wants Call of Cthulhu to freeze in time is fighting a losing gaming battle. I've been following the community for several years now as a relative newcomer compared to those in the old guard. I'm a veteran of gaming in general.  And man, are there some epically bitter people in the old guard of this game. The typical very loud small number. They work to either prevent new people from playing the game or, more passive-aggressively, telling players that they aren't playing it "the right way." Heck, I've seen it in a post from today. The point is that whenever game designers follow the desires of the loud and bitter, it usually spells doom for the game. I've seen it many times. Gamers simply don't see their lack of PR support as a player as a liability. But it totally is. So, the editors get it, and aren't bowing to this group, and I salute them for that. Heck, there aren't many games of this size where the Director of the Flippin' Line™ comes onto the forums and asks what people want.

    And to that end, for me personally, I'd rather see something new or one of the classics mentioned by ColoradoCthulhu (BTMOM) than The Dreaming Stone. No offense intended to anyone who wants that. Heck, if we got that, I'd be happy for you. :) Just throwing in my two cents.

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  13. This exact thing happened to me in my last game and my thought process was to put myself in the shoes of the cultist. I was running a scenario in which the Cultist is pursuing the PCs and they could make Spot Hidden rolls to see the pursuit. Multiple rolls succeeded and they got a good bead on their tail. The scenario assumes that they would avoid/Stealth. Not my players. One of them turned to confront their pursuer. 

    At this stage, I knew that the Cultist would run, but I had to be prepared as to what would happen if there was a fight. This cultist had a critical "mission" and needed to escape. So, I reasoned that the Cultist would be willing to severely cripple their pursuer to be able to escape. I also run CoC with the assumption that baddies know "how much Magic" they can handle in a short amount of time. They don't know exactly how many "magic points" they have, but they know when they get "tired" from casting Spells. I reasoned that this cultist wouldn't use all of their Magic Points on a surprise encounter like this. He actually had plans later on that would require Magic Point reserves. In addition, I knew that he would want to really cause a devastating blow to shake off this pursuer. Crippling them was a goal of the situation. This particular scenario described the cultists as murderous in their aims and deliberately wanting to kill the Investigators. So, I was knocking five or six in my head and went with six. Six met all of my "requirements" of the logic/madness the cultist would use in this situation. He might have chosen differently if two Investigators came at him.

    This all boils down to "think like the Cultist." Are they enraged? Do they need to escape? Do they need a Magic Point reserve for later? Do they anticipate this "fight" lasting a while? (You don't put all your eggs in one basket.)

    Incidentally, the Cultist had the initiative and lost the Shrivelling opposed roll.  The Investigator won their Dominate opposed roll. ;) So, it ended up being a moot point. They used the two rounds of Dominate to bring him closer and make him tell them why he was following them. They then knocked him out and let him go in a place where they were sure he couldn't tail them when he woke up (assuming he was the only one).

    Had it gone the "other way" I would stand behind my decision. Had the cultist caused a horrific major wound and then ran, it would have given my players a lot to think about: 1) They would get a glimpse of how "bad" offensive spells can be in the game. We've been running an investigation-heavy, combat-light campaign and this would have been their first introduction to one of the nastiest of spells. 2) It might have made them think twice about confronting pursuers in the future. 3) They would have had the knowledge that someone capable of that was still out there and pursuing them.

    Which is better? Eh, it's what happened. They came out on top in this exchange. Next time there will still be an option for the Cultist to "land a big one" on them. Players drive narrative.

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  14. 30 minutes ago, Defile959 said:

    That's really good to hear. I've recently gotten back into playing after a lengthy break (last edition I played was 5.5). My experience with 7th edition thus far has been extremely positive - though I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been eyeballing some of the older material, wondering how difficult the conversion might be.

    I started in a "new editions invalidate old editions" mindset, having come from DND. I started thinking I would only invest in 7th edition. I quickly realized (because I remained open-minded) that there was this unbelievable back catalog of materials to draw from and started collecting it all. Remember that, as an investigative game, the power of scenarios is in their clues and characters, not the stats. Heck, many monster's stat blocks can be replaced with "You have no chance unless you prepare in these X ways" and it honestly wouldn't change preparation or execution for the Keeper. Call of Cthulhu teaches us to get more from role-playing games than "There is a monster there. We assume you fight it." If you like that, that's great. I like it on occasion. But it barely scratches the surface of sophistication of the kinds of stories you can tell.

    • Like 6

  15. Call of Cthulhu is different from many other role-playing games. As Mankcam points out, the conversion differences between even 1st Edition stuff and 7th edition take minutes. CoC has always been one of the easiest games to convert and that doesn't seem likely to change. 

    • Like 3

  16. 27 minutes ago, Tranquillitas Ordinis said:

    Inspired by this message I propose a different approach, which I find more reasonable. Why? If you sum up the prices of just pdfs of the books mentioned by klecser in the first post (I ignore "After that?" paragraph and use current DriveThruRPG values) you get $88. If you constrain yourself just to pdfs of the Starter Set and the Rulebook you get around $38. Probably in the USA it is a fair price, but people in poorer countries might not be able to spend that much on their hobby. Especially, not knowing much about the game, not sure if they will like it after all, if they can find interested players, if the official adventures suit their style of playing etc. etc.

    I respect the fact that you are contributing free options. Everyone's financial situation is different and it is up to anyone to decide how much they are willing to spend on role-playing games. I think that it is worth mentioning that this is the official message board of a game company. Game companies have to make money to survive. They don't sell product, the game doesn't grow. My goal in creating this post was two-fold: 1) As an information resource to help prospective Keepers. I think it does this. Note that I suggest several free resources as well. and 2) To showcase some of the products available for sale that, as an experienced gamer, I think could be useful to people. 

    You seem to be making the argument that I'm being disingenuous in making a bunch of suggestions for people. I am not saying to buy all these things.  The post starts with "Pick up the Starter Set." The PDF costs 10 USD and the physical product is 25 USD. I then follow with a variety of options. I'm trusting the reader to make some informed judgments on their own. 

    I recognize that you also may be interpreting the word "need" literally.  I'm using "need" in a very casual way here. When I talk to gamers they ask "What do I need?" and I suggest several options to them.  

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  17. Copies of the Great Old Ones are difficult to find, but it is available on DriveThru. I don't recall that specific supplement being on the "short list" of updates that have been referenced by Chaosium employees at Cons. I want to say that Shadows of Yog-Sothoth is near the top of the list of old campaigns to get a redux?

    Regardless, Black Moon Rising is a classic scenario and deserves a look.

    • Like 2

  18. In case you didn't know about them: Daniel Harm's The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia is an invaluable resource for Keepers wanting to understand the lore of the Mythos better. 

    There are also two major Podcasts with an incredible backlog of tips for running the game: The Good Friends of Jackson Elias Podcast, and The Miskatonic University Podcast. Both have major authors/designers of Call of Cthulhu as hosts.

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