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Is Yours Cthulhu with Pulp, or Pulp with Cthulhu?


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I ran a few games of Pulp Cthulhu when it first came out, and it went over well. I approached it as a Cthulhu game but I added elements of the Pulp. I wonder this time, though... maybe I’ll approach it as a Pulp game, but add elements of Cthulhu in the distant outside.

I’m curious what kind of balance others are using? Have you tried both, and found one or the other suited you better? Do you find players are less excited to play THE Call of Cthulhu when it isn’t the traditional 20s? (I think that’s what I’m worried about)

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Every game I run, in every setting, is pulp. As in, the feel and style of the fiction published in the pulps. And I don't hesitate to introduce Cthulhoid elements into other games.

I prefer my "Call of Cthulhu" in the 20s, although I'll make a few exceptions.

I imagine that you're considering pulp to mean a 30s setting. I haven't seen the pulp cthulhu book, so maybe it's influencing your outlook.

Bottom line, if you're not sure how your players might react, ask them. 😉

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Well, to answer your question, one of my favorite TV shows as a kid was 'Tales of the Gold Monkey' :)

But it depends on your gamers' preferences. Some like 'Indiana Jones' and 'The Rocketeer', but some prefer Prohibition and flapper girls. As with any game, your mileage will vary.

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Our group have been playing the new edition of Masks of Nyalathotep with the Pulp Cthulhu rules.

The campaign has been going pretty well, but compared to my memory of playing through the campaign in earlier times, it seems less deadly. This, one would argue, is the point of beefing up the characters and so on, but to lend a criticism the reduced likelihood of character death and generally increased competance in violent situations does change the tone of the adventures somewhat. Character deaths may be unpallatable to some groups, but it adds a degree of punctuation to the pacing and makes them feel more horrific. When the characters are more competant it feels like a slightly different story you are telling. That is, it becomes more of an action-adventure tale than a horror tale. For Masks, again, some would argue this is entirely appropriate, but yet again, it just feels a little different to previous experiences. 

The other point I'd note is that the new game rules of 7E feel more 'complete' in terms of what I think the creators were trying to do, when you put them in the full context of the additional rules found in Pulp Cthulhu. 

Edited by TrippyHippy
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I've mentioned before, maybe here maybe in other forums, that I think that a Jeeves and Wooster 1920s setting would suit Call of Cthulhu really well. You'd have between the wars decadence, flappers, cultists masquerading as chinless wonders, chinless wonder, Wooster wandering about without a clue what was going on and Jeeves solving all the problems and avoiding going insane.

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I intend to run the overall FEEL of Classic Cthulhu in my games. But I also often find myself throwing in Pulp elements to drive excitement in the game. There is only so much time to game and if I followed the tome rules to the letter players would never have any feeling of accomplishment studying them. So, I frequently accelerate tome rules to be more story-driving than story-grinding. This has the added benefit of increasing the risk rapidly too. My players love that. They are totally addicted to it and a solid 10% of all of our games is preparing for and cleaning up after tome decisions. I respect the power of slow burn and slow reveal, but if it is all slow, all the time, patience can run thin.

I have a player who is an Engineering professor who has learned a lot about alien tech.  Far more than what many would consider "typical" in a Classic CoC game. I draw on the core Pulp rules and The Two-Headed Serpent a lot for ideas for this, since we have a Serpent Person-themed campaign. The conventional wisdom of "you found this weird thing, you don't know how it works, and probably never will" adds mystery for a while, but can get frustrating. Role-players like when "things happen."

Finally, I think it's pretty hard for a lot of people to not imagine Indiana Jones when they are doing "archaeological stuff" in a Classic Cthulhu game. I've always considered it a bit asinine for me to deny players some Indiana Jones-style encounters every so often to keep the interest high.

TL;DR: You can do both. Every group is different. I think a big thing that holds back a lot of Keepers is the misconception that they have to play a game "a certain way." And they just end up hamstringing their own effectiveness in reaching their table.

Edited by klecser
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12 hours ago, klecser said:

I think a big thing that holds back a lot of Keepers is the misconception that they have to play a game "a certain way." And they just end up hamstringing their own effectiveness in reaching their table.

True statement there. 

 

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