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Joe Kenobi

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About Joe Kenobi

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  • RPG Biography
    Played through a Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign, recently began Keeping for the first time.
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    1920s Call of Cthulhu
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    Horror RPG fan, Star Wars fan

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  1. This is crazy cool. I've never seen--it's never even crossed my mind!--that players might adopt minor historical figures as their investigators. I think @DevintheGM's got it right. Early on, there'll be some hamming it up--although you'll avoid the curse of players who aren't sure how to embody their investigators or what their personalities should be like. But when the Sundance Kid confronts a Lovecraftian horror against which he's clearly overmatched... well, in some ways, isn't that even scarier?
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  3. Of course, there's also some evidence Chaosium's business plan is working just fine... 👉 👈
  4. I generally agree with your premise here: It’s much more Lovecraftian to have new, weird, unnamed horrors than it is to go back to the well of commonly-known, identifiable threats. However, it looks to me like Chaosium has been getting progressively better on this front (“Nameless Horrors” being one clear recent example), as opposed to deviating from some past golden age. I could also do for more scenarios that really play up the cosmicism; too often, Call of Cthulhu ends up with more of a monster-of-the-week vibe that’s not particularly Lovecraftian. But if anything, I think the pulpy “confront monstrous horrors and shoot ‘em up” scenarios are becoming fewer and farther between in classic CoC (perhaps because they’ve found a more fitting home in Pulp Cthulhu). I’d like to see more of these things, but I applaud Chaosium for trending in this direction already.
  5. @midwinter, is your plea to “make Call of Cthulhu creepy again” specifically about the art direction, or are you concerned with the creepiness factor of scenario and setting content, too? Your comments have focused almost exclusively on the art, but your title sounds more general and you also flagged an overabundance of ghouls and Deep Ones as concerns. Many of the early replies focus more on the creep factor in the game experience, but your responses redirect to the art. I’m newer to the roleplaying table, relatively speaking (only been playing Call of Cthulhu for around a decade), so curious if you see an appreciable change in scenario creepiness over time, or if your complaint is really focused on the look and feel and not so much the gameplay itself.
  6. Totally valid. I just don't have personal experience with it so wanted to make sure I wasn't wandering too far afield--on your insight, I've now included it above. Also added in the Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for 5th edition. Thanks for flagging it!
  7. *pant, pant* Okay, edits are made! I also did some slight rearranging. The Laundry is right on the bubble for me, since it's not technically a Cthulhu RPG, but rather an RPG based on a book series with clear Mythos elements. The fact that it's currently unavailable and being revamped tipped the scales so that I'm not going to include it. Since the 2d20 Achtung! Cthulhu implementation is in beta and not in wide release yet, I'm going to leave that off for the time being, too. Nemesis is a tough one, because while it contains some Cthulhu Mythos elements and Lovecraftian influence, it looks like it's designed to be more of a general horror RPG, with several horror influences. I'd like to keep this list focused on Cthulhu roleplaying--I'm a big fan of Dread as a horror RPG, for instance, but haven't included it because I don't think it belongs here. I'm going to leave Nemesis off, too, unless someone who's played it argues that its central conceit is in fact Lovecraftian.
  8. Thanks, @measuredrums! Not sure how I overlooked Dreamlands. I appreciate you putting it in a matching format I could easily drop into the main post! I'm still working on compiling the others and should have a batch edit ready to go in soon--possibly later tonight, most likely in the next day or two. @andyl, I can't find any info on World of Cthulhu. Do you have a link/resource I could reference?
  9. I've updated the Dark Streets link--thanks for flagging, @rsanford. I'll try to look into the others and get them added, described, and categorized within the next week or so. I'll admit, it's turning into more of an undertaking than I anticipated! I expected there would be a small handful of systems I'd missed that would be notable enough to revise and include. We're already at 19 suggested additions--and it hasn't even been three days since the initial post!
  10. Mansions of Madness immediately comes to mind as one I'd love to see up-converted to 7th edition and re-released.
  11. Thanks, all. I've added in the latest suggestions while also reorganizing the list into a few categories in hopes of keeping things from growing too unwieldy.
  12. Thanks, all. I've revised the original post to add in entries for each of the systems you mentioned. Obviously, it will be near-impossible to include every form of Cthulhu roleplaying in a single message board post, but I'm hopeful I can maintain this list to accurately capture prominent systems that newer Cthulhu roleplayers might come across mention of. There are many systems on this list that I've never touched, so if I've misrepresented any, do let me know and I'll happily revise. I've also attempted to keep the main post neutral in tone and free of any value comparisons between the systems, but if you have systems you particularly like or dislike, I'd think this thread could be a useful place to promote their adoption or discourage their use.
  13. While I’ve been playing Call of Cthulhu for nearly a decade, I only recently made the jump to the online community, coinciding with my start GMing games. One thing that surprised me was the high volume of Cthulhu RPG variants and systems, only a few of which I’d previously been aware of. I did some looking around and couldn’t find a good guide differentiating between the different systems—so, inspired by klecser’s post, I decided to do the research to make one. Some of this is cribbed from Jalor218 on Reddit and Morgan on 21st Century Philosopher. Jalor218’s comment that he hadn’t played half the systems he summarized gave me the confidence to take a stab at something similar. I've drawn attention to the most high-profile systems—the ones that I've seen referenced time and again online—by putting them in green. If I’ve misrepresented something or left out essential details, please let me know and I’ll be happy to revise this post. Additionally, if there's a prominent system I haven't included, let me know and I'll revise to add it. I. Classic Call of Cthulhu and its near-variants: Call of Cthulhu – Utilizes a d100 percentile dice system called the Basic Roleplaying System, or BRP. Scenarios are usually set in the 1920s. Call of Cthulhu is currently on its 7th Edition, though the rules are very similar and scenarios can be easily converted across editions. Call of Cthulhu focuses on investigation, leaves plenty of room for failure, and has lethal combat. Characters will usually die or go insane. The gamemaster is called the keeper and characters are called investigators. Essential rulebook(s): Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook, 7th Edition Free resource: Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules There are several Call of Cthulhu modules that share an identical ruleset and gaming system to the usual Call of Cthulhu, but have special names to denote a special setting and a unique reference book to assist with roleplaying in that setting. These are: Cthulhu Invictus – Set in Ancient Rome (circa 100 AD). Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu Invictus Cthulhu Dark Ages – Set during the Dark Ages (circa 1000 AD). Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu Dark Ages Down Darker Trails – Set in the American Old West (circa late 1800s). Essential rulebook(s): Down Darker Trails Cthulhu by Gaslight – Set in 1890s Victorian England. Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu by Gaslight Achtung! Cthulhu – Set during World War II, with investigators playing Allied agents fighting the Secret War against the Nazi Black Sun. Essential rulebook(s): Achtung! Cthulhu: Keeper's Guide to the Secret War Cthulhu Now – Set in modern times. Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu Now H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands – Set in H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands, where investigators travel down the seven hundred steps, through the Gates of Deeper Slumber, and into the realm of dreams.  Essential rulebook(s): H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands  Pulp Cthulhu – Utilizes a d100 BRP system similar to Call of Cthulhu, but with several unique rules. Scenarios are usually set in the 1930s. Pulp Cthulhu changes the game to turn the investigators into action heroes, similar to Indiana Jones, who are much less likely to die in combat and more equipped to fight the Cthulhu mythos directly. It has a pulpy, action/adventure tone. Essential rulebook(s): Pulp Cthulhu Trail of Cthulhu – Utilizes a mostly diceless points-based system (some limited use of d6) called the GUMSHOE System. Scenarios are usually set in the 1930s. The GUMSHOE System is designed for investigative roleplaying such that a failed dice roll cannot prevent the finding of a clue. Trail of Cthulhu emphasizes storytelling and interpreting clues, as opposed to roleplaying and gathering clues. Essential rulebook(s): Trail of Cthulhu rulebook Free resource: Trail of Cthulhu downloads and resources Cthulhu Confidential – Trail of Cthulhu designed for play with one gamemaster and one player. Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu Confidential Cthulhu City – Trail of Cthulhu set in a New England overrun by the Cthulhu Mythos. Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu City Delta Green – Utilizes a d100 BRP system similar to Call of Cthulhu, but with several unique rules. Scenarios are usually set in the 1990s or modern times. Delta Green presents a scenario in which characters are government agents investigating and combatting mythos elements, similar to The X-Files. It takes the investigative tone of Call of Cthulhu and adds an air of conspiracy and secret societies. The gamemaster is called the handler and characters are called agents. Essential rulebook(s): Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook Free resource: Delta Green: Need to Know quick-start rulebook The Fall of Delta Green – A Delta Green prequel that utilizes the mostly points-based GUMESHOE System used in Trail of Cthulhu. Scenarios are usually set in the 1960s. Essential rulebook(s): The Fall of Delta Green Dark Streets – Utilizes a d100 percentile dice system from Renaissance Deluxe, which takes its system from OpenQuest, which is based on BRP. Scenarios are set in 1750s London. Characters are members of London’s proto-police force. Dark Streets gameplay is very similar to traditional Call of Cthulhu, emphasizing investigation and deduction while keeping combat occasional and deadly. Essential rulebook(s): Dark Streets 2nd Edition - Core Rulebook Raiders of R’lyeh – Utilizes a d100 percentile dice system based on RuneQuest, a BRP system. Scenarios are set in 1900-1913. Characters are mercenary rogues exploring the frontiers of the known world. Closer to Pulp Cthulhu than traditional Call of Cthulhu, Raiders of R'lyeh looks to Robert E. Howard’s Mythos and Weird stories as an additional influence. Essential rulebook(s): Raiders of R’lyeh: Gamemaster’s Guide & Complete Rules GORE – Utilizes a d100 percentile dice system that is fairly rules-light and based on OpenQuest, which is based on BRP. GORE stands for Generic Old-school Roleplaying Engine, and is designed to allow Lovecraftian adventures in science fiction, fantasy, investigative, and classical horror settings. Essential & free rulebook: GORE II. Variants with a strong “rules-light” emphasis: Cthulhu Dark – Utilizes a d6, rules-light system. Loosely related to Trail of Cthulhu, with an emphasis on storytelling and the how of things rather than the whether of things. Maintains a focus on cosmic horror within a barebones rules environment. Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu Dark hardcover rulebook Free resource: Cthulhu Dark: A Rules-Light System for Lovecraftian Horror Cthulhu Grey – Utilizes a d6, rules-light system closely based on Cthulhu Dark. Cthulhu Grey adds in a Harm stat, greater character differentiation, and rules for Magick. Essential & free rulebook: Cthulhu Grey: A Cthulhu Dark Hack Cthulhu Grim – Utilizes a d6, rules-light system closely based on Cthulhu Dark and Cthulhu Grey. Cthulhu Grim adopts rules specifically suited for campaign play. Essential & free rulebook: Cthulhu Grim, based on Cthulhu Dark and Cthulhu Grey Lovecraftesque – Utilizes a diceless, GMless system. Creates a GMless story of a lone character confronting cosmic horror in the form of a mystery that builds to a climax. Each playthrough will create a single one-shot scenario designed for completion in a single session. Players take on the roles of Narrator, Witness, and Watchers. Essential rulebook(s): Lovecraftesque rulebook Free resource: Lovecraftesque free references and handouts De Profundis – Utilizes a diceless, GMless, correspondence-based system. Players take turns writing letters in-character to one another in the style of H.P. Lovecraft. Includes an option for solo play. Essential rulebook(s): De Profundis Second Edition The Cthulhu Hack – Utilizes dice of multiple sizes in a rules-light system called The Black Hack. As a rules-light system, The Cthulhu Hack emphasizes storytelling and offers player-focused gameplay designed for quick and easy pick-up play. Essential rulebook(s): The Cthulhu Hack rulebook Free-ish (PWYW) resource: The Cthulhu Hack: Quickstart tremulus – Utilizes a d6 system that is fairly rules-light called Powered by the Apocalypse. tremulus is a storytelling-first game that requires limited prep and emphasizes investigation and survival. Essential rulebook(s): tremulus rulebook Cthulhu Abides – Utilizes a d6 “poker dice” system that is fairly rules-light and similar to a system called The Whispering Vault. Scenarios are generally set in 1920s Britain. Cthulhu Abides is designed to be heavier than Cthulhu Dark, with greater character differentiation, while still lighter than Call of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu. Intended as a Pick Up & Play RPG. Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu Abides: A Roleplaying Game of Investigation & Madness Free resource: Cthulhu Abides: A Roleplaying Game of Investigation & Madness (PDF) Unnamable – Utilizes a d6, rules-light system. Unnamable greatly simplifies skill checks so that character descriptors, personality traits, and descriptions rather than ranked skills are used for skill checks. It also preserves character sanity to a greater degree than Cthulhu Dark. Essential & free rulebook: Unnamable: A Little Lovecraft Game Unspeakable – Utilizes a d6, rules-light system closely based on Unnamable. Unspeakable adds a bit more character differentiation as well as increases the risk of character insanity. Essential rulebook(s): Curse of the Yellow Sign Collected III. Adaptations intended to bring Cthulhu roleplaying into other RPG universes: Call of Cthulhu d20 – Utilizes the d20-based system of Dungeons & Dragons, 3.5 edition. It was created to maintain the feel of the original Call of Cthulhu, but using a dice system that would be more familiar to Dungeons & Dragons players and which could allow for the porting of characters, monsters, and other content between the two universes. Currently out of print. Essential rulebook(s): Call of Cthulhu d20 edition rulebook Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for 5E – Utilizes the d20-based system of Dungeons & Dragons, 5th edition. Sandy Peterson's Cthulhu Mythos is designed to allow Cthulhu roleplaying within the most recent implementation of the Dungeons & Dragons universe and system. Essential rulebook(s): Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos (5E) + D&D Dungeon Master's Guide + D&D Monster Manual + D&D Player's Handbook Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder – Utilizes the d20-based system of Pathfinder. Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos is designed to allow Cthulhu roleplaying within the Pathfinder universe and system. Essential rulebook(s): Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos (PF) + Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook World of Cthulhu – Utilizes the d10 system of World of Darkness called the Storyteller System. World of Cthulhu is designed to allow Cthulhu roleplaying within the World of Darkness universe and system. Essential rulebook(s): World of Cthulhu: Lovecraftian Roleplay in the World of Darkness (free) + New World of Darkness Rulebook (1st edition) Cthulhu Pulp: Tales from Beyond Pulp – Utilizes the d20 system of Pulp Adventure. Designed to allow Cthulhu roleplaying within the Pulp Adventure system, with a focus on using super-science and muscle to fight the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos. Out of print. Essential rulebook(s): Pulp Adventure, Second Edition: Cthulhu Pulp: Tales from Beyond Pulp IV. Other variant systems: Cthulhu Live – Utilizes a points-based live action roleplaying (LARP) system with no randomizer. Aims to stay true to the feel of Call of Cthulhu, where investigators are flesh-and-blood humans and violence is consequential. Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu Live 3rd Edition (LARP) Realms of Cthulhu – Utilizes dice of multiple sizes in a fairly rules-light system called Savage Worlds. Realms of Cthulhu remains investigative in nature but incorporates a faster pace and more action, along with the addition of Combat Magic. Essential rulebook(s): Realms of Cthulhu rulebook + Savage Worlds Adventure Edition Shadows of Cthulhu – Utilizes a d20 system called True20. Scenarios are usually set in the 1920s. Shadows of Cthulhu presents an experience similar to Call of Cthulhu d20, but with a higher degree of action/pulp and while utilizing the True20 system, intended to provide a d20-based system that requires no other kinds of dice and minimizes the need for tracking things like hit points. Essential rulebook(s): Shadows of Cthulhu + True20 Adventure Roleplaying, Revised Edition Nemesis– Utilizes a d10 dice-pool system called One-Roll Engine. Nemesis focuses on dark horror inspired by Lovecraftian themes and utilizes a Madness Meter to simulate insanity and mental trauma. Free & essential rulebook: Nemesis: Roleplaying in Worlds of Horror V. Cthulhu-adjacent games with their own unique tone: Cthulhu Risus – Utilizes a d6, rules-light system called Risus. Cthulhu Risus offers a fast-paced and humorous take on Lovecraftian horror. Essential & free rulebook: Cthulhu Risus CthulhuTech – Utilizes a d10 dice pool “poker dice” system called Framewerk. Scenarios are set during the Aeon War in 2085. CthulhuTech blends Lovecraftian horror with anime-style mecha, sci-fi, and magic. For mature audiences only. Essential rulebook(s): CthulhuTech Core Book Free resource: CthulhuTech V2: The Shadow War Open Beta Cthulhu for President – Utilizes a d6 system called the BEER Engine. Cthulhu for President offers tongue-in-cheek humor as players take on the role of Elder Party staffers in an attempt to get their Great Old One elected. Essential rulebook(s): Cthulhu for President: The Game Fantasy Cthulhu – Utilizes the custom dice (d6) system of FATE. Fantasy Cthulhu places the Cthulhu mythos within a fantasy setting powered by the FATE system. Essential rulebook(s): Fantasy Cthulhu powered by FATE Core Post-Cthulhu – Utilizes a custom dice (d6) system called FATE. Scenarios are set in the future, after Cthulhu has risen. Players take on the role of survivors of the Cataclysm who wander a post-apocalyptic landscape stalked by Lovecraftian monsters. Essential rulebook(s): Post-Cthulhu FATE of Cthulhu – Utilizes a custom dice (d6) system called FATE. Scenarios are set in the present day, with characters who are time-travelers from a dark future in which the Great Old Ones have returned. FATE of Cthulhu sets Lovecraftian horror against a Terminator-like backdrop. Currently on Kickstarter. Essential rulebook(s): On Kickstarter now
  14. I think perhaps in a modern setting, it's harder to establish some of the isolation and idea of vast uncovered secrets that I associate with Cthulhu. The Thing is a good example of how to achieve that--but it does so by setting things in a remote location. I don't think of The X-Files as particularly Lovecraftian horror; more monster-of-the-week.
  15. I don't get the impression that the Inner Darkness scenarios embrace the conceit that the people behind the evils of this world are all secretly Cthulhu cultists. Frankly, if the point of these scenarios is to pretend cultists were behind the injustices of the 1920s the whole time, I'll be disappointed. My impression is the scenarios take some of the true-to-life horrors of the 1920s and layer on Lovecraftian events. For example, this update makes pretty clear the immigrant deportation scenario isn't going to pretend it was a cultist infiltration of the U.S. government that led to the round-up of immigrants; rather, it's going to set a story in the framework of those actual, real-world horrors, and drop a Cthulhu mythos creature of some sort into that event. My impression is these are historically-driven scenarios that spotlight some of the darker, more horrific truths of the 1920s, then drop Cthulhu elements on top of those historical realities. EDIT: By "drop in," I mean either (a) take a historical situation and place a Cthulhu element in its midst, or (b) take a historical event and have Cthulhu elements exploit those realities for their own ends. I'll myself be fairly frustrated if the implication is that any of these historical events only happened because Cthulhu elements and/or cultists were at work.
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