Call of Cthulhu - The System and Setting


The setting of Call of Cthulhu is a darker version of our world, based on H. P. Lovecraft’s observation (from his short essay, Supernatural Horror in Literature) that…

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”

There are three primary eras of the original (BRP) game:

  • 1920s, the setting of many of Lovecraft’s stories (this is the era in which Shades of Arkham is set - Skampaw);
  • 1890s Gaslight supplements, a blend of occult and Holmesian mystery and mostly set in England;
  • Modern conspiracy (Cthulhu Now).

Recent additions include 1000 AD (Cthulhu: Dark Ages), 23rd Century (Cthulhu Rising) and Roman times (Cthulhu Invictus).

The protagonists may also travel to places that are not of this earth, represented in the Dreamlands (which can be accessed through dreams as well as being physically connected to the earth), as well as travel to other planets or the voids of space.

Gameplay Experience

The players take the roles of ordinary people drawn into the realm of the mysterious: detectives, criminals, scholars, artists, war veterans, etc. Often, happenings begin innocently enough, until more and more of the workings behind the scenes are revealed. As the characters learn more of the true horrors of the world and the irrelevance of humanity, their sanity (represented by ‘Sanity Points’, abbreviated SAN) inevitably withers away. The game includes a mechanism for determining how damaged a character’s sanity is at any given point; encountering the horrific beings usually triggers a loss of SAN points. Also, to gain the tools they need to defeat the horrors – mystic knowledge and magic – the characters must be willing to give up some of their sanity.

Call of Cthulhu has a reputation as a game in which it is quite common for a player character to die in gruesome circumstances (Hurrah! - Skampaw) or end up in a mental institution. Unlike in most other role-playing games, eventual triumph of the players is not assumed.

Tommy-guns and Tentacles, what more could you want??! – Skampaw

How Will the Game Play

Essentially the game will be a play-by-blog. The Adventure Log and Forum will be used to keep track of what’s happening in the story, and what each player intends their investigator to do. I’m aiming to do one update a week, most likely on a Thurs night, so players should submit their investigator’s next actions in advance of then. If no action is submitted the investigator will just go about their daily life for that ‘turn’. That way the game shouldn’t grind to a halt if someone is unable to post an update in a given week.
I’m happy to run some more traditional sessions via Skype too (now that we’re all over the place!) if there’s enough interest. Let me know if you’d be up for it.

The basic premise of the campaign is that for one reason or another (to be determined) your investigator has become involved with the Diamond Investigation Agency, either through offering expert advice or direct involvement. You’ll likely have a choice of which case(s) you want to get involved with, be that as an individual or as a party (party might be easier for my ageing brain to begin with until we get this up and running – Skampaw).

Anyway, I hope this all sounds like fun, as that’s the important thing! And remember…

Cthulhu by henning

Call of Cthulhu - The System and Setting

Shades of Arkham Skampaw