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Stormkhan Cogg of Pavis

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About Stormkhan Cogg of Pavis

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    Advanced Member

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  • RPG Biography
    Started 'back in the day' with AD&D, was introduced to an excellent campaign of RQ (Pavis/Valley of Cradles), delved deeper into all RPGs. Became founder member of a games club which, over time, developed into one of the largest in the UK (branches all over the place). While the club grew, I developed a second job - that of freelance RPG/board game reviewer for several UK magazines. Loads of conventions, loads of different games, loads of drinking, socialising, magazines ... yadda yadda yadda.
    After a decade, the club changed, I left to persue other interests - both professionally and developing my writing.
    Still got my games though.
    Now, getting back into things - "old school" games such as RQ, Call of Cthulhu (of which I've had a couple of published bits ages past), Paranoia, MegaTraveller.
    I'm getting my mojo back!
  • Current games
    I live in an area where gamers are scarce. Looking to gingering up some players ... though being in my 50s, it's tough to find contemporaries.
  • Location
    Filey, N.Yorkshire, UK.
  • Blurb
    Middle aged, married, kids, pets, my own business, bills to pay ... but still holding out for 'old school' TTRPG being better than computer-based games. :-D

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  1. Sorry, but that is far from my intention. I never said Investigators shouldn't use magic. A Keeper always gauges the mood and intent of their players - that's why Table Top RPG's endure; the personal interaction which may be lost online. I am not advocating the restriction of Investigators; if magic is there then it can be used ... for good or ill. I'm experienced enough of a Keeper (and referee of many RPGs) in that I think I can handle the styles of my players*. I try never to forget, it isn't just The Game. It's meant to be fun and the players - and myself - should play it for fun. Metagaming and min-max may be the idea of someone's fun but not mine personally. So I concern myself with making it fun for my players and the players (I hope) realise that if it's not fun to run, I won't run it. Why should I? Getting back to magic in CoC, the mechanics are there for Investigators to learn, and use, magic. The mechanics mean that it's not easy, and it has heavy consequences for the character. I get it. The potential for great game-play in the character's own immersion in the magic of the Mythos is, as said, obvious. I was only raising concerns that players (not characters) might be somewhat blase about magic use. Yes, it's down to the individual players intentions. Yes, it's down to the Keeper's ability to guide. I was only opening a dialogue on the subject. * Nothing is a certainty.
  2. Pulp looks fun to play and a welcome addition to any RPG collection, but it seems to me to be using CoC background and most of the system to run adventure games based on Indiana Jones, the modern Mummy movies etc. Well, 1930-1950's "pulp fiction" style anyhow. I've never played it, true, but it looks fun. I can't possibly 'diss' the game at all. But I think a bit of me, the deep-down fan of HPL, feels it's ... um ... not Call of Cthulhu. I suppose I'm the sniffy one who thinks it takes the mickey of the original source work and turns it into a light-hearted romp. Nowt wrong with that, of course, but why have it use the Call of Cthulhu mythos and genre? Why not name it, say Pulp Movie! or Uncanny Action! instead?
  3. Thanks, all, for replying to my post. Some very good points raised and plenty for me to ponder on. I'm sorry, Klecser, if I offended you by raising these discussion points. I was not stating fact, only my opinion. I was not telling people what is "good" CoC or bad. I was only airing some worries that affected my playing in the past. It's down to style of play - if you are comfortable with Investigators and magic then fine. I'm not the one to tell you to stop it. If I'm stating the obvious to you, or to anyone, then ignore it. CoC magic rules are far more harsh than other, earlier RPGs. Magic exists in the works of HPL. I guess I personally don't enjoy games where the players are (or slowly become) the 'bad guys' either to run or play. Though the latter does make a fun change. This, I say, on the understanding that even the good guys can use magic and that life is rarely so clear-cut as good and bad. Each to their own. It was merely my 'take' on the subject, not an absolute or a statement of game law.
  4. I see many posts on here, discussing how to handle players and spells, investigators and "Mythos Magic", how a Keeper should handle players who want to delve into the Forbidden Arts and so on. I'd like to put forward my own take on this subject, discuss it and leave options 'revealed' for Keepers to use in future games. Before I start, I must declare certain, ah, strictures: This is game use in long campaigns; considering how long it takes to digest a Mythos tome, possibly benefitting from knowledge of spells, one-shot or single-session scenarios needn't worry. Unless, of course, they become campaigns so Keepers should keep some ideas to the back of the mind. Campaigns where the Investigators are intended to become "the bad guys" or, at least, rival cultists needn't use any or all of these considerations. You do you! Experienced Keepers know that no matter how well planned, how careful the intent is in a game development, we're down to a random factor; not dice, but players. If players choose to change the dynamic of a campaign, then so be it! These are my own thoughts, in-house rules and experience-based considerations. They are in no way, shape or form official guidance or rock-solid legislation! Pick what you like, ignore what you like. I'm happy to discuss my "considerations" and, of course, completely accept a good argument for difference. These are mere, um, ramblings. Right. Moving on ... Consideration 1: Vive Le Difference! Call of Cthulhu is not a fantasy role-playing game! It is a role-playing game, and it has fantasy (i.e. unreal) elements to it. It's prime element is being based on HPL's literature. Thus at its core, the Investigators are the Good Guys and the Cultists and various nasty creatures, the bad guys. It is based in reality - it doesn't matter what period of history - but that reality accepts magic or at least occult practices are real! However, in this Game Reality, Investigators are not just fantasy characters in sharp, 1920's suits. This is why (in my own experience) CoC stood out from the games of the day. RuneQuest gave us a good alternative system; Call of Cthulhu gave us a game based in (a) reality! We hit the double-edged athame straight away: it's reality but it allows for Mythos and non-existent opponents with magical skills! So why should an Investigator not learn spells? Why not indeed? Because investigators - player characters - are the ordinary hero. The guys and gals who are horrified by magic and it's potential for corruption. They are not superheroes, they are the "reality" person in an unreal situation. And, getting back to my proposition that the 'core' value of Call of Cthulhu as a game is that you play an ordinary Joe/Jane in an extraordinary world. And having a list of spells you can cast is hardly 'ordinary'! Not to be too scathing but we're playing CoC and not some D&D-clone; no character classes, no hit point to experience correlation, no "fight first and worry about the law later" thinking. Well, the latter might still work but you know what I mean! Consideration 2: Rarity. Taking that magic exists in the 'reality' of the CoC game, it's not acceptable! It's not the 'done thing'. It's been frowned upon by society as soon as one bloke-dressed-in-sober-clothes said "That woman gave my cow a nasty look and now it's a bad milker - is there a connection?" Magic may exists but firstly, it's not common, and secondly, it's open use is frowned upon. In so-called Enlightened Times, it's dismissed as arrant nonsense. So, if you were in the know, and had such abilities at your command, then you wouldn't wander around looking like a star-spangled Gandalf or even "that weird guy who talks to his furniture and knows what underwear my Mom has on!" The argument that 'experienced' investigators understand that magic has a reality is fine ... but how does that sound to those not in on the secret? Point is, magic in Call of Cthulhu exists but isn't common. In fact, it's so rare it acts as a warning. After all, who casts spells but those linked to the Mythos? Aren't they the Bad Guys? Consideration 3: Usage. In this I appeal to Keepers with a personal 'house rule' that's worked most of the time*. When an Investigator gets their hands on a major spell-giving Mythos book, and they fail to comprehend a spell (i.e. learn its use) then the Sanity check is made (and failed) then they cannot ever learn that spell! We're not talking about someone screwing up an exam, that they can retake later, using another book. They just "don't get it!" They have experience of that spell, and may recognise it's casting or components that are used but it's just beyond them! This may discourage players who decide their Investigators wish to embark on a career as being an alternative Doctor Strange (TM) and completely miss the point about Call of Cthulhu (see Consideration 1). * Right up until I had a player who'd decided her investigator who'd 'accidentally' discovered his occult powers and 'collected' spells for future reference. When they did actually learn a spell, it blasted their sanity. It wasn't only realising the 'truth' but the 'true' believer was shocked to find they had been right all along! Zen and the art of Magic, eh? Consideration 4: A Matter of Trust. If you are a group of Investigators, who've been through many horrors together and trials yet come through, defeating those damnable cultists, how comfortable do you feel (in 'game reality') when the professor starts to show an ... eagerness to acquire arcane books, blood yet to dry on the covers, to *ahem* add to his knowledge in the fight against etc. etc.? It may be simplistic but "Cultists use magic so using magic may make you a cultist" is a thought for the characters. Yes, you might be gathering counter-weapons but, then again, you seem a bit eager to obtain such-and-such ingredient or be a tad careless over learning that a child has been kidnapped: "Oh, yeah. It might mean they're going to perform the Rite of Akerchaly. It's almost May Eve? We'd better get a move on then ..." A Keeper must take team dynamics into consideration. Should everyone in the group be okay with one person becoming the Level 7 Mage (in CoC terms) then so be it. See what happens. But isn't this actually going against the feel of the whole game? Consideration 5: Balance. Many folks - Keepers and players - are okay with the prevalence of magic, reasoning that the bad guys and (let's face it) the feckin' creatures of Call of Cthulhu are so strong that the Investigators need spells, to fight the Mythos on it's own terms. I suggest it's not a form of arms race. The game itself is balanced. I know, I know - settle down and hear me out. The Investigators fight the Creatures because they don't realise how incredibly nasty they are. We, as players, do. So if you decide you need to weapon-up, you - not your character - is thinking "I'm in deep doo-doo here!" So, as time goes on, and your characters realises magic is 'real' then you decide to 'arm' your team with some arcane tools. Such as learned spells. These come at a cost. Not only to Magic Points but to your sanity. To balance your strength against Mythos, you are willing to lose your mind! This expects us, as players, to role-play! Worrying about the consequences to your mind, being reluctant to fight fire with fire, is role-playing. Just saying "Yeah, whatever; what dice do I roll to subtract sanity?" is not. Conclusion. Call of Cthulhu is based on the stories of HPL, one of which is "The Dunwich Horror". Three university professors versus a profane avatar of Yog-Sothoth! Physically, the challenge seems unbalanced but, heck, they can make "Library Rolls" and such. They do, one of which gains the knowledge - and spells - to remove the creature ... hopefully. The head boffin bags "The Powder of Ibn-Gazi" creation and "Dismiss Deity" spell! Cool! No. Not really. The lead-up research almost killed a very intelligent professor and the performance required three intelligent, and scared, people! If you want to play Call of Cthulhu, keep in mind that magic happens ... but it comes at an awful cost. Far more than a few points off your character sheet!
  5. At my private secondary school, in the UK, it's amazing how unqualified teachers can be. For instance, our physics teacher wasn't qualified to teach at all, but he had a Masters degree in Physics, so they thought it'd do. It didn't. He was a lousy teacher. Good at physics though.
  6. In interests of answering the original post, for my part, I'd suggest that there's many a library that says it has XYZ tome but ... is it? Really? I mean' if a book is rare then it takes a rare scholar to confirm that it's genuine. Blahtown Library may claim it has a "genuine" copy of Noddy's Book of Spells ... but it takes an expert to access it, study it, and then declare that it's either the genuine Blyton original or a knock-off. Any rare book - of any specialism - adds kudos (and funding) to a library. It's an investment. Now, a genuine library (a repository of knowledge) may be run by a true scholar, who knows exactly what they have. They then have the double-edged problem of persuading the investors - who know nothing of the literary value but everything of the financial value - to protect the ... ah ... investment. The library might have a 'ringer' i.e. apparently genuine, to suit investors, insurers etc. but not the case. As in any, um, industry there's fakes. And there's times when a library doesn't actually value what it has. So ... You have a situation where in the Miskatonic U. library, they are famed for having the Latin version of the Necronomicon. Investors don't know it's value as a powerful tome, they have it's value as a 'draw' to students. So they'll be fairly strict about its security but not exactly open to the idea of a buried vault. Always keep in mind the social and technical attitudes of the period. There might be places which hold other arcane tomes with less security (such as Blahtown Library, as above) that may or may not have the 'real deal'. If you had magical powers, which clearly had potential life-threatening consequences if you use them, would you risk your life and/or sanity (existence negligible) to break into a place, only to find a 'ringer' written by a popular pulp author? In short, the security surrounding such powerful writings depends on both the appreciation of those who possess them, the finance behind that possession, and the actual import or genuineness of the book itself. What a great story, to have a Cultist risk life and sanity, to blast out puny Earthbound bonds of protection ... to find their grasped prize to be published in softback edition by Penguin.
  7. Dunno that it's available. When a Keeper creates a pre-gen, the character is being created for that particular scenario/adventure. The biography and story-hooks have been incorporated into the character. What you're describing seems to be a third, blank sheet on which is recorded extra information for the player of said character, specific to the adventure. Then that's down to the Keeper, not to Chaosium? Not sure what you're asking for, honestly. Are you asking for a blank sheet, in the same style as the double-sided character sheet?
  8. Always remember that you may be qualified, highly, to do a job, but you may not get it. There may already be a Chair in Archaeology at XYZ University who has less skill points than an Investigator, but he has the job!
  9. I'm sadly behind on this idea of ambient music. When I run sessions, I minimise background noise so not to distract from my awe-inspiring narration/ruling/NPC-acting. I suppose it come from having to run games in a pub/club. Although while writing for CoC, I tend to listen to 1920's/30's jazz tracks either on Spotify, YouTube or the few CDs I've obtained over the years.
  10. Getting back to basics (!), blunderbusses armed with broken-up silverware can be comforting, shotguns with shells loaded with rock salt can spoil the evening for cultists and old boxes loaded with gunpowder sends splinters which irritate most human and non-human creatures. Of course, all useless against the real Big Boys of Mythos but we don't expect any of them, do we, folks? Guys? Hey ... guys? It all takes me back to my reviewing days of the '80's. Mechwarriors and Battletech was great, in general. Then, the Japanese Mecha came in to RPGS (rather than boardgame/wargames). I found it hard to answer or accept some concepts. One being the "Mecha" damage idea. Non-mecha (soldiers, tanks, whatever) caused "ordinary" damage. You could kill humans, blow stuff up etc. But to do damage to a mecha, "mecha-damage" had to be done. Only certain weapons caused mecha-damage. So ... If a mecha was immobilised, you could pile a metric craptonne of explosives around it, and detonate it. No damage to big, unfeasible Japanese robot. 'Cause that explosive didn't cause "mecha-damage". You could tie several satchel-bombs right into the ankle-joint but it wouldn't even slow it down! Now, obviously, I understand the 'otherworldliness' of many Mythos beings. Other dimensions an' all that. But while certain materials in this world mayn't bother those from other dimensions, this shouldn't make them impervious. If they are in this dimension then they must be interacting with our material. Thus, our material must interact with them. Hell, even Cthulhu was 'inconvenienced' by a bloody tramp steamer being rammed into his tummy! I guess that I'm suggesting that, along with most 'rules', Keepers should take into account the conditions and actions of their Investigators when it comes with the not-so-legendary Mythos beasts that aren't 'harmed by Terrestrial weapons'. It might not be killed but I'm sure Nyarlathotep would have a significantly bad day being nuked.
  11. As the Chieftain (tankie, consultant on World of Tanks, and lecturer on You Tube) is wont to say: From inside the tank, it's the steel you send down the tube. Inside the tank, there's a lot to give you a negative life experience.
  12. I recall meeting him once, decades ago (! 😲) at a gaming/sci-fi convention. Seemed like a nice chap but, if I recall correctly, he was a bit ... ah ... short of temper with readers who, while liking his work, dared criticise it.
  13. Asking questions is the only way to find answers.
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