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Stormkhan Cogg of Pavis

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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. Like death in creation of Traveller characters. Vide "Dagon", "Facts Concerning Sir Arthur Jermyn" and "The Hound". Very acceptable according to source material but, really, a last ditch consideration in a role-playing game. We play people who want to live. Regardless of what we think, the characters are operating from the consideration that a) they want to live and b) there must be an alternative. Now, in games which involve magical healing, resurrection etc., players act as if there's a loop hole, a get-out clause which means that suicide is really discounted as an option. We play the games assuming that (unlike real life) there'll be a conclusion; if not a happy ending then a story completed. The hero sets off a nuke which, while killing themselves, ends the threat to humanity. The knight willingly accepts combat with a superior opponent, knowing that it's distracting the Evil One from what others are doing. These examples might be considered suicidal but not acts of suicide. Motivation is the key. Realise all is lost? Go down fighting! While RPG's can 'reflect' real life, I'd tread carefully with the emotions of characters. If you get too caught up in the realism, you see characters (not players) who wouldn't ever go adventuring. Like watching "ghost hunters" on You Tube, why go looking for paranormal things if the first thing you'll do is poop yourself and run away, squealing like a piggie?
  2. Thing is, picking locks is directly related to the mechanics of the locks at that time. Back in 1920's, you just needed one or more 'levers', two or three 'rakes' and perhaps a 'bar'. When Chubb and Brahma brought in cylinder locks, you could use the same tools but it took you longer. Bear in mind that picking a lock required your knowledge of how that lock works mechanically. Hence in RPG's, especially CoC, those who are craftsmen as locksmiths automatically know how to pick 'em!
  3. It's a matter of interest that in the Dorothy L. Sayers book "The Nine Tailors" (published/set in 1934), a crook-housebreaker claims his job was made easier by having access to the local smithy/mechanic in order to make his own 'new' set of picks.
  4. Not to be dismissive, at all, but read/re-read The Case of Charles Dexter Ward to get the feel of it. None of the ... ah ... victims were subject to a spell but once they were recovered whole, I assume they were subjected to some form of treatment.
  5. That's why when Homer Simpson plays CoC, a fumble results in the player saying "D'oh!"
  6. As long as you don't hold the gun the wrong way round, bullets go in one end and come out of the other. As said, you can fire it. You might hit something with luck.
  7. While I've always known of and seen "Dagon" on You Tube, and I have a DVD of "Horror Express" (not Lovcraftian as such but definitely a 'watcher'), I'm thankful for the heads-up for "The Lurking Fear". I didn't know it had been made - and I aint seen it yet - but this is one of my favourite Lovcraftian/CoC 'game' stories. I'll tell you if I'm grateful for the film after I've watched it! Bugger - Tubi is non-EU/UK!
  8. In aikido, one principal of handling an opponent holding a weapon in close combat (and retreat is a poor option) is to move yourself not away from the weapon but position yourself oblique to it. E.G. you're facing an opponent that's holding a knife, gun etc. in their right hand - and isn't actually firing - then move forward and to the side of the weapon, say the left of the attacker. You present your body sideways ... then do your stuff. The attacker has to aim across their body, you are presenting a slightly smaller target and brings them into your reach. Then you concentrate on which direction the ... ah ... dangerous bit of the weapon is pointing. The point or edge of a knife, or the muzzle of the gun. Then, as EricW says, concentrate on commanding the weapon. The crucial thing with a gun is, it's a distance weapon. So in hand-to-hand, you're at a massive disadvantage. Reduce that disadvantage by making a gun a hand-to-hand object so you can get on an even footing.
  9. Eh. Takes me back to the 2nd Ed. (?) rulebook with a couple of witty songs. I still recall ... "Pardon me, boy Is this the lair of Great Cthulhu? Where the mould and the slime Gets you ev-er-y time!"
  10. 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.
  11. 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?
  12. 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.
  13. 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!
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