View Full Version : Frontier Cthulhu

Lycan 01
2009-03-10, 08:05 PM
Good day to you all, fellow Playgrounders. I am here today to present to you my latest creation - a Call of Cthulhu campaign taking place in the Old West. Why, you may ask? Because Call of Cthulhu rocks, I love the Old West, and I've managed to create a working combination of the two. YEEHAW!!! :smallbiggrin:

The idea is simple, really. The setting is the Old West, just the same as it should have been in the late 1800's. But there are evil things lurking in the shadows... and they're probably better off left there. The players will assume the roles of... well... whatever they want, as long as it makes sense. Indian, settler, Civil War veteran, outlaw... I'll be making new Professions to suit these categories, of course.

The first scenario will be an introduction to the Mythos in the Old West for the players. They'll then have to deal with a myriad of problems and scenarios ranging from a gang of undead outlaws to the restless ghosts of a Native American warrior and a US. soldier forever fighting each other to the death. Its not so much a campaign, really, as it is a nifty setting to have Western-themed 1890's scenarios in, many of which are open ended and even optional. I've managed to cobble together some notes, as well as a few new mechanics to fool around with. I was hoping to get some feedback from my fellow Playgrounders, as well as possibly some questions, ideas, or suggestions. :smallsmile:

At any rate, here's what I've got so far...

Ah yes, the cliche Western shootout. Two people in a staring contest, waiting to see who shoots first. I've got a few ideas for this... Options are:
-Both players make a DEX (base, or times 2-5?) roll to draw their gun. If one of them makes it, he gets the shot off, and the other player is automatically hit. If both of them make the roll, they both draw and shoot at the same time, hitting each other automatically. If they both fail, they draw their guns before they have a chance to think, and then must make a Handgun roll to actually hit their target.
-Both players draw at the same time, and make dueling Handgun and Luck rolls. Handgun rolls to hit near target, and Luck rolls for the opponent's shot to narrowly avoid them. Ergo, if they both succeed at their Handgun rolls, but only one succeeds at his Luck roll, the loser of the Luck roll takes the hit.

Once the first shot has been fire, the two players must decide what to do next. If one of them has been shot, and is still alive and willing to fight, they must make a CON (base, or times 2-5?) roll to stay standing. If both have been shot, they must do the same, or just call it quits and hit the dirt. If both of them miss, there are a few options available to them. They can either agree to hold their fire and call it a draw, or they can keep fighting. If they keep fighting, they simply repeat the attack pattern of the first round.

The process can be repeated until one of them is wounded, both are wounded, or one or both shooters has been killed. In fact, the shooters can agree before the battle that they won't stop until the above requirements are met. Altogether, it just comes down to the player's intentions and will to fight... as well as their will to survive.

Call of Cthulhu is deadly. I hate to see well-developed characters die randomly because they never recovered all their HP from minor injuries in previous sessions. So, I've added a few ways to recover Health and Sanity.

HP - Health Points can be recovered through a few methods. Namely, water and food.

Keeping a canteen of water on hand in the dry plains of the Old West is common sense. A few sips of water every so often is required to keep the character in tip-top shape under certain conditions, such as riding across deserts. But downing the contents of a canteen can help to reinvigorate a character who's running out of steam. While half a canteen won't recover more than 1 HP, something is better than nothing.

The luxeries of civilization can also help keep the shadow of death away. Beef jerky won't do much for you, but a warm meal cooked over an open fire sure goes a long way. A full stomach and a fresh burst of stamina amounts to the recovery of 1d2 HP. And in the Old West, a nice bath was not always available, so the chance to sit down, get clean, and escape the heat was always a welcomed occurance. If a character can find themselves a bath in a hotel or saloon, they can recover quite a few HP, depending on the injuries they've recently recieved.

Sanity - What cowboy didn't love his booze? It reinvigorates the body and wakes up the mind. It also helps to keep away those pesky nightmarish memories... Depending on the alcohol consumed, some Sanity may be recovered. The effects aren't spectacular, but it can help stem off permanent insanity better than just waiting for the nightmares to stop coming back. Caution is important, though, as Alcoholism is a real and common threat, resulting in permanent Sanity and perhaps even HP loss.

I'll write up more later. I've still got to cover Indian magic and Poker, as well as weapons and enemies.

So... Questions? Comments? Concerns? :smallamused:

2009-03-10, 08:15 PM
I think the ideas sound great! An interesting take on the Old West and all its wondrous cliches!

2009-03-10, 08:24 PM
Does Hastur cheat at poker?

2009-03-10, 09:02 PM
Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such comes to mind. What a great setting idea!

2009-03-10, 09:08 PM
Ah, Booze. The cause of, and solution to, all life's problems.

So, the Lone Ranger and Jonah Hex V. Azathoth?

Sounds fun.

2009-03-10, 09:16 PM
Do your players know they're playing cthulhu? If not, don't tell them. Instead tell them you'll be playing something else and have them go through a fairly normal western adventure, and when they least expect it send a shoggoth their way :smallamused:

2009-03-10, 09:18 PM
Wow looks great, I've been meaning on trying a CoC wild west campaign.
If you search google you can find a nifty CoC west character sheet.

2009-03-11, 02:39 AM
Well, somebody has to say it:
There's always Deadlands if you want to plunder some ideas (like undead cowboys, poker magic, and those bulls from the Ghost Rider song). Heck, there's all kinds of stuff you can grab out of there.

2009-03-11, 02:42 AM
I once played something very similar, but the DM ran only one great game. We were all disappointed and wanted more.

Lycan 01
2009-03-11, 01:20 PM
Does Hastur cheat at poker?

Actually in the collection of short Lovecraftian Westerns I have titled "Frontier Cthulhu," there is a short story involving the Dead Man's hand, which is actually a cursed deck of cards which steals the soul of the man who finally draws a Dead Mans Hand (A pair of Aces and a pair of Eights, if I recall correctly...) while playing. Its a tool of Nyarlathotep used to obtain new followers and/or playthings, and one his 1000 Masks, the dark shadowed figure known as the Black Man, shows up to collect the soul in question.

So no, Hastur does not cheat at Poker. That's Nyarlathotep's territory. :smallamused:

Also, I've taken a look at Deadlands, and it looks amazing. But I'm low on cash, and I doubt most of my players would want to learn and play a new system and game. But I have stolen a few things from it, like Poker and Chips, for use in this game. :smallbiggrin:

Speaking of which...

The old Western staples of Poker and Poker Chips will be making an appearance in Frontier Cthulhu. In fact, they will play a large roll in the game, serving as a means of entertainment, a plot point, and a game mechanic, all at the same time.

Poker- What Western thing is complete without a bit of Poker? In Frontier Cthulhu, players will have the option to play the game at certain points. It can be played at the beginning of sessions for Chips (see below), played in Saloons for entertainment and cash, and at certain plot points. It will actually be played with cards and rules, rather than random dice rolls. The Keeper serves as dealer, and the players actually play Poker as their character would. The style is normal 5-card draw, with Dueces and Jokers Wild.

Chips- Chips are special items used in Call of Cthulhu. There are 3 types - Blue, Red, and Green. Blue is used to tweak rolls to your advantage somehow, perhaps increasing your chance to succeed by 1/3 or so, or decreasing your roll (good thing) by 1/4 or so. Red chips allow you to rerolls a check, taking the better result. Green chips automatically allow you to succeed at a roll, no matter what the situation is or what your chance of success may be.

At the beginning of a session, each player is given 2 Blue Chips and a Red Chip. The Keeper also starts with 2 Blue Chips, a Red Chip, and a Green Chip. A game of Poker is then held in order for the players to obtain more chips, as well as the much desired Green Chip, if they're up for it. The Keeper then places one Blue Chip in the center of the group, and asks the players if they'd like to gamble for more chips, or just take what they have. Players who want to try and get more Chips add a Chip (or more) to the pot, and once all bets are made, the Keeper deals a hand of cards to each participating player. The winner of that hand gets the pot. This process of betting and playing is repeated until the Keeper has no Chips left. By this point, the players should have any number of Chips in their possession, and one of them should have the Green Chip. The players may then share the Chips amongst each other fairly, or keep what they have to themselves. Once the group decides on who gets to have what, the game may begin.

Chips can be used at any time. Simply slap it down in the center of the group, and tell the Keeper what you have in mind. The Keeper then makes the needed changes to the game, and the player forks over the Chip. Once you spend a Chip, its gone. But there are other ways to earn them back besides pre-game Poker matches. The Keeper can reward them based on roleplaying and character actions (Blue Chip for succeeding at a hard check, or a Red Check for killing a major baddie), hide them in certain areas (Spot Hidden in a random area reveals a Blue Chip jutting out of the dirt), et cetera.

Once a session or scenario is complete, players take stock of what Chips they have. This carries over to the next session. Or, if the Keeper wills it, another Poker match can be held, with the Keepr having 2 Blue Chips, 1 Red Chip, and another Green Chip versus whatever Chips the players still have. Once this game is played through, the results carry over to the next game.

Other Chip options are available depending on what colors you have on hand. Extra colors can represent: Lucky breaks, Successes becoming Criticals, an extra Action, HP and/or Sanity Recovery, or whatever else the Keeper can come up with.

Well, what do you think? :smallbiggrin:

I've got another idea involving playing cards, but its still in the "possible idea" stage right now...

2009-03-15, 09:12 AM
You could use the Deadland system.

It uses cards for gameplay, chips for helping, western style settings with some background/horror thingy that could suit the Myth.

Very few works to adapt it with Chtulu...

(I think theres a d20 version of it too)

2009-03-15, 09:17 AM
I'm sure I read a really good free pdf oneshot set in the wild west. Might well have been on yog-sothoth somewhere. It had some pretty cool and nickable ideas if I recall

2009-03-15, 10:26 AM
You could use the Deadland system.

It uses cards for gameplay, chips for helping, western style settings with some background/horror thingy that could suit the Myth.

Very few works to adapt it with Chtulu...

(I think theres a d20 version of it too)

He just said in the post above this one that he's low on cash and his players might not want to pick up a new system. While yes, this is pretty near what Deadlands was designed to do, it's not an option in this case.

That being said, it sounds like a good idea to me. Good luck, Lycan.