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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    I felt like I'm in this amazing world filled with fascinating magic and creatures and... I'm playing a muggle. The worst game ever would be set in the amazing Harry Potter universe but all the PCs are muggles. That's what it felt like.

    I was told that people die a lot but it's no big deal. You just make up another character whom you also don't care about because he's a muggle too. So there are no real stakes. It's like playing Papers and Paychecks where we're workers and students in an industrialized and technological society, except there's a good chance something will kill you.

    I spent about an hour making a character. I was asked my profession. "Can it be random?" Nope. "Okay, student. Whatever." He got crit by a vampire after about an hour. I was at -3 hp after my first time getting hit and was getting ready to make another character and someone stabilized me and got me up to 2 hit points (crit on the first aid roll). So now I was back in the game but barely holding my guts in and useless so I got out my Kindle. Then someone finished off the vampire and the session was over fairly quickly. If I play next session, I need to make another character because this one will be in the hospital for a while because the game is realistic, almost like real life where if you get hurt bad you have to sit around in a hospital for a long time and you might be permanently impaired--a crippled muggle.

    I play games to escape my boring reality. This game is just a worse reality than my real life. Am I missing something? I guess it's supposed to be scary and I like the idea of a horror game but for me to be scared I have to care about my character, but we're told up front they're basically disposable like tissues, and they're spectacularly ordinary to begin with and inherently hard to care about.

    If I had to sum up this game to someone, I'd say "It's Paper and Paychecks where you play an ordinary person a lot like yourself, except you'll probably die soon."
    Last edited by Dalebert; 2015-10-20 at 10:55 PM.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    I've enjoyed the games I've played, and run a successful Laundry Files campaign (think CoC meets MIB, with extra bureaucracy), which all my players enjoyed even if they had to go through 2 or 3 characters each over the course of a year. To answer your question I think you are missing the point of the game.
    Have you actually read any Lovecraft? Because that's the feel the game is going for. It isn't about heroes or supermen or larger than life characters or deep characterization; it's about normal people becoming involved in horrific situations, facing down mind-blowing alien things humanity was not meant to (and cannot) understand, and doing their best to survive or even stymie them a bit.
    The characters aren't really the point, though making an interesting PC is always nice, and neither is heroic last stands or big battles or epic duels or clever rogues or witty banter; it's the investigation. Finding the hints of something unusual going on, investigating the incident and uncovering ever more disturbing clues and the increasing sense of wrongness about the whole situation. Finally, as the reveal appears, the feeling of horror, helplessness and the dread certainty that while you may not have a chance in hell of actually winning in the long run you might be able live a little longer if you do something than if you curl up and die. Sometimes PCs die. Sometimes they are crippled. Often they bear the mental scars of too much stress and inhuman monstrosities. Life sucks in the CoC setting. All happiness and joy is a result of the truth that ignorance is bliss.

    Sometimes in a CoC story you win. you might defeat the cult, or repulse the aliens or put big C back to sleep for a while, but it's always a temporary thing. Sometimes you lose, because humans are squishy, frail and weak of mind, and the universe is older, stranger and more inhuman than we can possibly comprehend.
    Last edited by BWR; 2015-10-21 at 12:56 AM.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    I'm not big on CoC, but that's mostly because Trail of Cthulhu is stronger. With that said, your specific criticisms only make sense in the context of wanting particular things from the game. If you find the characters hard to care about because they're ordinary, that pretty much kills it right there.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    My experiance of CoC seems different to yours.
    I am not a fan of the game but I have had some enjoyable times playing it.

    It is horror and you are suppose to feel helpless and weak most of the time, you are not super heros just ordinary people.

    I never had the I am just playing an ordinary joe problem you talk about, as I was always playing someone else in another place and time from what I am used to. (Normally 1930s New England).

    Others have said its not about being a hero or the battles its about the investigation and the reveal. Its about surviving (something I was not good at).

    It does seem like you have missed the point. Of course its perfectly reasonable if this game just isnt for you. Like I said not my favourite system or background either.

    I think my biggest concern with CoC comes from how we play it in my group. Its always just picked up for a few sessions. So we end up creating new characters. They start investigating. Find out that the world is not what we thought and then we die or stop playing. To repeat again. I spend too much time not knowing what the world is.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    In horror the protagonist doesn't win, they can merely survive if they are very lucky. Not if they do the right things but if they're lucky. That is the cup of tea being served in CoC, you either like it or you don't.
    I do, you don't.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    So if your characters don't have any special powers you are unable to care about them? I think this says more about your approach to roleplaying than it says about CoC.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    I felt like I'm in this amazing world filled with fascinating magic and Harry Potter

    I was told that people die a lot but it's no big deal So there are no real stakes.

    "Okay, student. Whatever."
    He got crit by a vampire after about an hour. I was at -3 hp after my first time getting hit and was barely holding my guts in and useless so I got out my Kindle.

    Am I missing something?
    The thing you are missing is that your expectations were completely off. Comparing Cthulhu to Harry Potter is like watching a horror movie and complaining about the lack of humour. Long story short, you are just looking for a different genre.
    I also think that this is partly the fault of your GM. Saying that you basically shouldn't care about your character kind of ruins the idea of a horror game.
    At least I hope so, because if you grabbed your kindle everytime your character is about to die, this would make you an awful player.
    But as I said, probably just mismatched expectations.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    A game is among other things a tool to explore or induce certain kinds of feelings or experiences. Something like D&D is well-designed to create the experience of being powerful, important, world-shaking individuals.

    In the original Call of Cthulhu literature, it was all about the fear of the unknown, but also the fear of insignificance. A large part of Lovecraft's works hinged on him feeling terrified that maybe humans weren't that important in the cosmos, that there could be big things moving out there that not only could humans not deal with or overcome, but they fundamentally could not ever really matter to. So, in principle, the game system based on that literature is centered around trying to give the players that kind of experience.

    I would say there are two things going on here. One is that you just don't want that kind of experience - it's not what you're looking for. The other is that this kind of thing relies a lot more on your GM than a standard power fantasy (which you can provide most of yourself even if the GM isn't really pushing it). And it sounds like your GM didn't really sell it well - you weren't immersed to begin with, you dealt with things that you were mostly familiar with (e.g. you say you were critted by a vampire, but vampires are very familiar horror monsters and also very human, so they really don't hit either the fear-of-the-unknown or the fear-of-insignificance points).

    A really well-run game of Call of Cthulhu should make you - the player - experience a bit of uncertainty about the world, like something you thought was really solid and that you had a lot of confidence in OOC just got nudged a bit, and now everything around you feels shaky. We deal with uncertainty all the time in life, but usually its uncertainty that we can put bounds on and deal with. If you're playing poker, you don't know what cards you're going to get, but you know what kinds of things generally happen in a poker game, what kinds of cards you could get, etc. You could also imagine the total unknown, where you just don't have any expectations or information.

    Call of Cthulhu should be like playing poker, but suddenly one of the cards you receive in a draw is a tarot card. And the people you're playing with treat this like it's totally normal and par for the course. And you realize that either you're going crazy or something is going down and whatever you thought you knew about the situation is completely wrong.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Do you like True Detective?

    Do you like Twin Peaks?

    Do you like Sherlock Holmes?

    Sure, your character might not be a superhero or whatever, but that doesn't mean he has to be boring. Call of Cthulhu is a detective game where, yes, you are the underdog but that's just all the more reason to try your best. And besides, figuring out what the monster is and exorcising it or blowing it up is that much more satisfying precisely because you can't go to Diagon Alley and buy a magic wand to do it for you.

    It sounds like the people that introduced Call of Cthulhu to you might not really get what makes this particular game fun for most people. It's supposed to be about solving a mystery and only fighting if you absolutely must, not throwing characters into a meatgrinder. To be fair, the Call of Cthulhu rulebook is not the best at explaining how it wants you to play, hence why some people end up having disappointing experiences with it. Do give it another shot and see if you'll have more fun focusing on solving mysteries and playing detective while trying to protect your character!
    Last edited by Comet; 2015-10-21 at 07:43 AM.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrawn4 View Post
    Comparing Cthulhu to Harry Potter is like watching a horror movie and complaining about the lack of humour. Long story short, you are just looking for a different genre.
    I probably won't like CoC for this reason. When I play games, I want to feel strong and in charge of the situation, not helpless and at the mercy of the entire world. Wrong game, wrong genre.

    I wouldn't like VtM either.
    Last edited by goto124; 2015-10-21 at 08:01 AM.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Call of Cthulhu should be like playing poker, but suddenly one of the cards you receive in a draw is a tarot card. And the people you're playing with treat this like it's totally normal and par for the course. And you realize that either you're going crazy or something is going down and whatever you thought you knew about the situation is completely wrong.
    I still haven't read the literature yet, but I'd aliken it more to sitting down to play poker, before discovering five hands in that it's actually Mao. I feel it might work better if the players don't realise it's Call of Cthulhu at first.

    I also have never been able to actually play CoC (), but I have had a joy in playing in a universe which is essentially 'Cthulhu, but with the Abrahamic mythos'. It involved different assumptions (we were professionals and so could take down small demons without the assault squads), but the focus was on investigating and finding out what was going on. Even then we came close to a TPK a few times, once because we had to argue down a player who didn't realise it wasn't D&D. This resulted in a hard fought battle which we only got to because we went in the Back door, and would have failed if the nun hadn't risked her life to get to a place where an angel feather was useful.

    We were underdogs, but thankfully priority A was always 'stop the big horrible monster from being summoned'. It's not the style of CoC, but that's ONLY because we weren't average joes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    TL;DR version: If the whole premise of the game is that humans, and thus the players, don't matter, then that's not a game. The story is 95% the DM and some mystery being slowly revealed, and we're just there for things to happen TO us. In a typical RPG setting, the players and DM are writing a story together. To do that the players actually have to matter and be able to have an influence and change things. CoC is a story to be read; not a game to be played in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrawn4 View Post
    I also think that this is partly the fault of your GM. Saying that you basically shouldn't care about your character kind of ruins the idea of a horror game.
    I'm not quoting him verbatim. He just spent time setting us up for this as almost an inevitability. It's just what happens when from the moment of creation, you are braced for the character's likely death.

    At least I hope so, because if you grabbed your kindle everytime your character is about to die, this would make you an awful player.
    No, I WAS dead, I thought for good, like DEAD dead, within an hour of creating my character. Once my character has gone from being almost irrelevant to completely irrelevant, what am I supposed to do? Someone brought me back with a first aid and I could hobble around so I put my Kindle back down and hobbled back to my room holding my guts in--the guts of this temporary character who I knew was now out of the game and may as well be dead anyway as far as the game goes because he'll be in a hospital for weeks and it's approaching its conclusion so I already have to make a new character. Sorry, I didn't explain that accurately. I did actually put down my kindle after I was back up at least for a while until I was sitting in my room holding my guts in and with my crossbow out in case the vampire came after me again, which seemed likely, in which case I would put my kindle down and roll a couple more times until I was dead. My character was physically confined to somewhere other than the action unless the action came to him. What was I supposed to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    In the original Call of Cthulhu literature, it was all about the fear of the unknown, but also the fear of insignificance. A large part of Lovecraft's works hinged on him feeling terrified that maybe humans weren't that important in the cosmos, that there could be big things moving out there that not only could humans not deal with or overcome, but they fundamentally could not ever really matter to. So, in principle, the game system based on that literature is centered around trying to give the players that kind of experience.
    All of Lovecraft's works are in my Kindle. I love reading it. I love watching horror movies. To be honest, not many truly manage to horrify me because it's just a movie and most of them now are lining characters up to be meat for a grinder. You can't be horrified for the characters until you care about them and most movies utterly fail at this. I'm also in a writer's group and we spend a fair amount of time on the subject of making believable characters that the reader will care about. I feel like this game is just a more tedious way of watching a horror movie that isn't scary for the same reasons. I'm just rolling dice with the odds stacked against me until I die. I don't know how to fix this in the game. It seems to be an inherent paradox by the game's nature. Humans don't matter is the whole point being conveyed--"Care about this character. Now go stand pointlessly on that conveyor belt that ends at the mouth of a giant human meat grinder."

    If the game is trying to convey this sense that human beings (and thus my muggle character) are nearly irrelevant, then it has succeeded from the moment the game was described to me and then my impressions confirmed when I played my first game and died in an hour. That's not a game. It's just a horror story. JUst write the story down and I'll read it, probably in an hour or less, and maybe I'll enjoy it if it's written well. I just don't know what the point of me being here playing a character is. It's like 95% "horrific monsters that will probably kill you on the DM's side" and 5% "maybe you'll roll really lucky about 10 times in a row before the monsters roll well 3 times in a row" on all the player's sides.

    A really well-run game of Call of Cthulhu should make you - the player - experience a bit of uncertainty about the world, like something you thought was really solid and that you had a lot of confidence in OOC just got nudged a bit, and now everything around you feels shaky. We deal with uncertainty all the time in life, but usually its uncertainty that we can put bounds on and deal with.
    But I know what to expect. I've read the stories. My roll as a player is going to be to act surprised when the world is topsy-turvy. Act like I think I might have a chance to survive. Act like I think I might matter when as a player I know I don't. Seriously, the DM should just write the story down and I'll read it. Why do I need to be there? It's masochist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Comet View Post
    Do you like True Detective?

    Do you like Twin Peaks?

    Do you like Sherlock Holmes?
    I have enjoyed reading those things, yes. Believe me. It's quite challenging to write a good, compelling story. I don't blame DMs for this. I don't expect my DMs to compete with best-selling authors. Normally I just expect them to run the world while about 5 or 6 people come together to play their part in writing a story. It seems a problem inherent in the game. It feels like the DM is practically narrating a story to the players. It feels very scripted and the characters are just there for things to happen to them. There's just no way around it when the whole premise of the world is that humans, e.g. the player characters, don't matter and have little influence on the world and hence, the story.
    Last edited by Dalebert; 2015-10-21 at 09:10 AM.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    I have enjoyed reading those things, yes. Believe me. It's quite challenging to write a good, compelling story. I don't blame DMs for this. I don't expect my DMs to compete with best-selling authors. Normally I just expect them to run the world while about 5 or 6 people come together to play their part in writing a story. It seems a problem inherent in the game. It feels like the DM is practically narrating a story to the players. It feels very scripted and the characters are just there for things to happen to them. There's just no way around it when the whole premise of the world is that humans, e.g. the player characters, don't matter and have little influence on the world and hence, the story.
    Fair enough, making the players feel impotent and helpless is certainly one way of playing Call of Cthulhu. I personally think it's a pretty bad way of playing it, though.

    In my experience it's much more fruitful to have a game of Call of Cthulhu go something like this:

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    DM: "There's a murder, go and solve it!"

    Players: "Okay, cool. We'll gather evidence and interview people and come to learn a lot of secrets about this environment we're in."

    DM: "The horror! The secret behind it all is revealed to be a horror of tentacles from beyond the stars! Your characters are helpless and beaten, specks of dust before a great and violent wind!"

    P: "Eff that, we gather as much arcane knowledge and as many allies as we can to steel ourselves against this cosmic entropy. Humanity makes its last stand!"


    And then they either die or win or go insane. Either way, what they did mattered. Even if they can't shoot Cthulhu until it dies, they can still make meaningful connections with their fellow humans and come to certain empowering conclusions that give them psychological power even if they physically have close to none.

    Of course, for some people Call of Cthulhu does just mean playing regular dudes and running into a vampire and the DM telling yoy "lol, u ded. Horror!"
    I, too, find that incredibly boring.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    I guess I must be wrong for actually wanting to play a game of Call of Cthulhu. It sounds like fun, I mean your objective is to help humanity survive for another day. You can't stop the gods, but you can slow then. Just be prepared to pay for it by fighting tooth and nail and working to uncover what's happening before it goes wrong. If you're lucky, you traded your sanity for humanity existing a little longer.

    But I guess if you can't punch a ghouls head off it's not a game. I guess I should throw out my copy of Dark Heresy as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    If the game is trying to convey this sense that human beings (and thus my muggle character) are nearly irrelevant, then it has succeeded from the moment the game was described to me and then my impressions confirmed when I played my first game and died in an hour. That's not a game. It's just a horror story. JUst write the story down and I'll read it, probably in an hour or less, and maybe I'll enjoy it if it's written well. I just don't know what the point of me being here playing a character is. It's like 95% "horrific monsters that will probably kill you on the DM's side" and 5% "maybe you'll roll really lucky about 10 times in a row before the monsters roll well 3 times in a row" on all the player's sides.
    Sure, combat tends to end really poorly for the PCs. On the other hand, that's not supposed to be a particularly large section of the game. As for not influencing the world, that doesn't mean that the PCs don't influence the story, as long as the story is about something narrower in scope than the world as a whole, such as the PCs.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    It's the Yakov Smirnoff RPG. In Cthulhu RPG, monster murders you.

    My issue with it is that I can easily turn a more "traditional" RPG on its head and make the monsters terrifying and dangerous. It's harder to make the player terrifying to the monsters in CoC.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Comet View Post
    Fair enough, making the players feel impotent and helpless is certainly one way of playing Call of Cthulhu. I personally think it's a pretty bad way of playing it, though.
    That is, in fact, the horror of Lovecraft. If you fail in that, it wasn't CoC. That's why I think this genre works as fiction that you read but not as a player, because the player doesn't really need to be there when he can't really have any significant impact on the story. Either the script goes in one direction toward achieving the goal or it goes in another, and someone dies or goes insane. It's heavily scripted and only doing some very specific things will turn the tide. That's also built into the nature of the game.

    The characters are heavily random also. It's almost as if you showed up and someone handed you this mostly randomly generated character that you're now supposed to care about. Your choice is to care, the masochist choice, or to not care, the nihilist choice. I just can't draw a button with red magic marker and write "I care" and press it. Normally I develop an interesting character that I had a significant role in shaping and go into a game with a sense that I have a decent chance at surviving and where my choices will have some meaningful impact on the story. There are stakes and risks that cause me to become invested. It really can come down to missing one "spot hidden" and getting a crit and that's it. Not even bad luck because you're making these rolls all the time. Not having lucky rolls 10 times in a row is bad luck in this game. That's what your survival hinges on. Your decisions can't help but matter almost not at all.

    Of course, for some people Call of Cthulhu does just mean playing regular dudes and running into a vampire and the DM telling yoy "lol, u ded. Horror!"
    I, too, find that incredibly boring.
    He's running a module. So then is the module poorly designed? If I manage to find a New York Times best-selling author to run a game or write a module, will it redeem this game? THese problems are inherent in the game. The horror being conveyed is that you're a weak, insignificant speck of dust in a universe filled with monsters who will kill you instantly if you don't roll lucky over and over, and eventually you definitely won't. The game has merely succeeded at convincing me that my only point in being there is to roll dice until I die. Again, this is a horror story that I'm there to witness. Just write the story down and I'll read it. I don't need to be there. My role and my choices are barely if at all significant.
    Last edited by Dalebert; 2015-10-21 at 10:11 AM.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    TL;DR version: If the whole premise of the game is that humans, and thus the players, don't matter, then that's not a game. The story is 95% the DM and some mystery being slowly revealed, and we're just there for things to happen TO us. In a typical RPG setting, the players and DM are writing a story together. To do that the players actually have to matter and be able to have an influence and change things. CoC is a story to be read; not a game to be played in.
    The medium of a game happens to be somewhat useful, because it puts the stress on the player rather than on an abstract figure in a passive medium. That is, the player is forced to engage in order to try to survive, whereas in a book or a movie the viewer can engage or not, and the outcome is the same. There's also the psychological aspect of things happening as a result of a choice, even a false choice, compared to seeing someone else make that choice and suffer the consequences. E.g. seeing the village destroyed because of a wish you mentioned off-hand in the antiquities museum is psychologically different than reading a book about it.

    But I know what to expect. I've read the stories.
    This is the problem. If you've read the stories and I throw a Mi-Go or a Hound of Tindalos at you, I'm totally missing the point of CoC as the GM. They're known elements to you, so even if you can abstractly say 'yeah, its pretty scary that something could show up anywhere there's a corner and is hunting me across time', you've already come to terms with that. You're playing a game of poker and you got a bad hand - you know the hand is bad, but its not unexpected or 'weird', its a known quantity.

    If I'm doing my job well, I should do something that you really wouldn't expect or even know how to deal with mentally as a player - something that gives you pause in real life, makes you try to figure out what just happened and what's going on. The 'game' part of the experience is that its entirely up to you to come to terms with whatever that surprise might be, even if everything you do that matters is only the things that happen entirely in your head as a player.

    Now, even if I were to succeed in doing all that, it might not be an experience that you as a player would actually want to have.

    My roll as a player is going to be to act surprised when the world is topsy-turvy. Act like I think I might have a chance to survive. Act like I think I might matter when as a player I know I don't. Seriously, the DM should just write the story down and I'll read it. Why do I need to be there? It's masochist.
    There is a masochistic element, in the broad sense of horror and other similar genres focusing on 'negative' emotions and experiences. The thing is, being able to experience those strong negative emotions in a perfectly safe context is a positive thing for some people. Whether it's because of the masochistic side, or because it feels liberating, or just because it helps you explore a part of yourself that you don't normally get to.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    CoC, at least the way I play & run it, is about investigation, weirdness and discovery. Combat is not and should not be a big part of the game. If you are in combat with a vampire within an hour of the start of the game, sounds like something is wrong to me. Running CoC does require a slightly different mindset to D&D for example, and it can take people a bit of time to adjust.

    I've played & DMed a fair bit of CoC, and character deaths in my games are pretty rare - more common than in other games, sure, but not every session or even game. Insanity is more common, btu at least somewhat curable. It helps to have players who know the games assumptions and actively attempt to avoid combat as much as possible while still dealing with the threat at hand.

    As for influencing the game, you certainly should be able to do so, but generally not by going toe-to-toe with the big bad monster. You disrupt the ritual, perform a ritual or spell, hold them off while setting the house on fire, or even just survive until daybreak. Of course, most of this is in the hands of the GM to get the feel 'right'.

    If you want to feel mighty & trade blows with Eldritch horrors on an equal basis, CoC is not really the right game. It is more about luring the eldritch horror out to where someone else can run it over with a truck (and pray that at least hurts it...)

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    That is, in fact, the horror of Lovecraft. If you fail in that, it wasn't CoC. That's why I think this genre works as fiction that you read but not as a player, because the player doesn't really need to be there when he can't really have any significant impact on the story. Either the script goes in one direction toward achieving the goal or it goes in another, and someone dies or goes insane. It's heavily scripted and only doing some very specific things will turn the tide. That's also built into the nature of the game.
    True, Lovecraft's stories make for pretty boring group play. Generally not worth it trying to mimic those, in my opinion, which does kind of pose the question of what the heck Call of Cthulhu is trying to mimic, then.

    The characters are heavily random also. It's almost as if you showed up and someone handed you this mostly randomly generated character that you're now supposed to care about. Your choice is to care, the masochist choice, or to not care, the nihilist choice. I just can't draw a button with red magic marker and write "I care" and press it. Normally I develop an interesting character that I had a significant role in shaping and go into a game with a sense that I have a decent chance at surviving and where my choices will have some meaningful impact on the story. There are stakes and risks that cause me to become invested. It really can come down to missing one "spot hidden" and getting a crit and that's it. Not even bad luck because you're making these rolls all the time. Not having lucky rolls 10 times in a row is bad luck in this game. That's what your survival hinges on. Your decisions can't help but matter almost not at all.
    This can certainly be the case, just by reading the book. A lot of ways to go around these problems, but those are up to the group, not the game system itself.

    He's running a module. So then is the module poorly designed? If I manage to find a New York Times best-selling author to run a game or write a module, will it redeem this game? THese problems are inherent in the game. The horror being conveyed is that you're a weak, insignificant speck of dust in a universe filled with monsters who will kill you instantly if you don't roll lucky over and over, and eventually you definitely won't. The game has merely succeeded at convincing me that my only point in being there is to roll dice until I die. Again, this is a horror story that I'm there to witness. Just write the story down and I'll read it. I don't need to be there. My role and my choices are barely if at all significant.
    Okay, you're right again. A lot (the majority) of those CoC modules are, in fact, pretty bad. They're don't feel like Lovecraft's stories and they are also just meatgrinders where death happens for its own sake.

    And, you know what, now that I understand where you're coming from I find myself agreeing with you. Call of Cthulhu is not a great game. So much of what makes a game of Call of Cthulhu fun comes from knowledge and traditions that are not presented in the game book itself. Call of Cthulhu is basically just a bunch of rules that kind of try to simulate old timey detective stuff with the addition of some monsters and spells grabbed from a famous author's portfolio. Nothing in that book itself is particularly useful for horror, Lovecraftian atmosphere or any particular kind of fun that couldn't be achieved with other games.

    So, yeah, Call of Cthulhu is not a great game by itself. It is a useful starting point for a lot of groups to find a vibe and fictional frame to set themselves in for everyone have fun. If your group's vision of what makes Call of Cthulhu fun isn't fun for you, the game system isn't going to help at all. Maybe take a look at Trail of Cthulhu or Dread or some other horror game or just skip the genre entirely because it might honestly just be too much trouble for what it's worth.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    I'm trying to put my finger on what's wrong with this. I like horror movies. I'm a Lovecraft fan. I even really enjoyed survival horror games like Resident Evil quite a lot which seems to imply I should like CoC. The Resident Evil games were HEAVILY scripted. It's really like you're watching a horror movie but it's more immersive where you feel like you're actually there. Sure, the order of things can shift around a little, but you're basically exploring this section, then another, you flip a switch that turns power on somewhere and now you can explore that. There's some slight variation in the chronology but it's fairly scripted and you just experience it in a much more immersive way than if you just watched a movie. Like CoC, it feels like there's very little at stake in the sense that if you die, you just restart the game from a save point.

    It just falls short when you try to do the same thing in an RPG, like it's just not the best medium for that sort of thing. If I'm going to just experience a basically scripted horror movie in an immersive manner, a video game where I'm all alone in a dark room works for that. A table-top RPG is just a different medium where I don't think this works. It feels like a different experience for different mediums that is being forced into an RPG setting.
    Last edited by Dalebert; 2015-10-21 at 11:25 AM.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Have you ever tried adding atmosphere to the game? Dim lights, creepy music playing at low volume in the background, that sort of thing? Good ambience is often a huge part of the best horror video games - done wrong in a live RPG it gets ridiculous fast, but done right it might help set the 'mood' properly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    It doesn't have to be scripted though. The setting is rigged against you, and the failure and death of the characters is pretty much inexorable, but there are a lot of different ways things can go, even if they do all pretty much have bad endings. That breadth is taking advantage of what RPGs can do, as other interactive mediums simply do not have that capability.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    I'm trying to put my finger on what's wrong with this. I like horror movies. I'm a Lovecraft fan. I even really enjoyed survival horror games like Resident Evil quite a lot which seems to imply I should like CoC. The Resident Evil games were HEAVILY scripted. It's really like you're watching a horror movie but it's more immersive where you feel like you're actually there. Sure, the order of things can shift around a little, but you're basically exploring this section, then another, you flip a switch that turns power on somewhere and now you can explore that. There's some slight variation in the chronology but it's fairly scripted and you just experience it in a much more immersive way than if you just watched a movie. Like CoC, it feels like there's very little at stake in the sense that if you die, you just restart the game from a save point.

    It just falls short when you try to do the same thing in an RPG, like it's just not the best medium for that sort of thing. If I'm going to just experience a basically scripted horror movie in an immersive manner, a video game where I'm all alone in a dark room works for that. A table-top RPG is just a different medium where I don't think this works. It feels like a different experience for different mediums that is being forced into an RPG setting.
    Yeah, tabletop roleplaing is all about making meaningful decisions through your character. If you aren't allowed to make those decisions or feel like your decisions don't really matter then it's all a bit of a wash, isn't it? That's why I find CoC works best when you don't ahdere too religiously to Lovecraft's storytelling, but focus on adapting his world as a starting point and letting things evolve from there in a different direction.

    Sidenote, I really like the first Resident Evil game. Not only as a survival horror game, but as a dungeon crawl. It just nails that element of exploration, getting to know your environment and the best routes for backtracking and, indeed, meaningful decisions. Could be fun in CoC, a labyrinth like that, as basically a horror-themed Dungeons & Dragons scenario.
    Last edited by Comet; 2015-10-21 at 11:33 AM.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    I'm trying to put my finger on what's wrong with this. I like horror movies. I'm a Lovecraft fan. I even really enjoyed survival horror games like Resident Evil quite a lot which seems to imply I should like CoC. The Resident Evil games were HEAVILY scripted. It's really like you're watching a horror movie but it's more immersive where you feel like you're actually there. Sure, the order of things can shift around a little, but you're basically exploring this section, then another, you flip a switch that turns power on somewhere and now you can explore that. There's some slight variation in the chronology but it's fairly scripted and you just experience it in a much more immersive way than if you just watched a movie. Like CoC, it feels like there's very little at stake in the sense that if you die, you just restart the game from a save point.

    It just falls short when you try to do the same thing in an RPG, like it's just not the best medium for that sort of thing. If I'm going to just experience a basically scripted horror movie in an immersive manner, a video game where I'm all alone in a dark room works for that. A table-top RPG is just a different medium where I don't think this works. It feels like a different experience for different mediums that is being forced into an RPG setting.
    It really feels like tou got an unfavorable combination of module and gm. An hour for creating a character in CoC is extremely long, I can get an entire party of first-timers in half an hour. Your gm should let your profession be random, if you asked for it.

    No game of CoC I played ever was scripted. The way you describe it, I would not enjoy it as well.

    The way I play it, is that indeed humans are not powerful, but players should get every advantage they can get and use it.

    When I run it, I also try get atmosphere as high as possible, I try to scare the players themselves. Of course it helps, if the players also want to be scared.

    I would advise to try it again with a different group or gm.
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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    I'm trying to put my finger on what's wrong with this. I like horror movies. I'm a Lovecraft fan. I even really enjoyed survival horror games like Resident Evil quite a lot which seems to imply I should like CoC. The Resident Evil games were HEAVILY scripted. It's really like you're watching a horror movie but it's more immersive where you feel like you're actually there. Sure, the order of things can shift around a little, but you're basically exploring this section, then another, you flip a switch that turns power on somewhere and now you can explore that. There's some slight variation in the chronology but it's fairly scripted and you just experience it in a much more immersive way than if you just watched a movie. Like CoC, it feels like there's very little at stake in the sense that if you die, you just restart the game from a save point.
    Well it sounds from your previous posts that you never got immersed in the tabletop CoC game in the first place. You were meh about your character, you were constantly going back to your Kindle during play, etc. If you played Resident Evil that way, you would probably find it pretty dull as well. Of course, you kind of can't play it that way I guess, because nothing happens without you pushing buttons, but in a tabletop game the GM and other players will keep things going even if you zone out. Maybe a better example would be if you put a Lets Play of it on in the background and glanced at it occasionally while otherwise enjoying your book. You just would never get that visceral experience.

    It really has nothing at all to do with whether its 'scripted'. Its just immersion, and the table you were at didn't do a good job of it or you weren't in the right mindset to really get into it or whatever, so everything that followed had no impact to you. Several other posters have reported that it has in fact worked for them. The logical conclusion is that it can work for the right combination of player and GM, but it can also fail.

    It might help if you played a CoC game where you're literally playing as yourself. That way you avoid some of what you found about being disconnected from your character and not caring what happens to them.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    It seems you went into a CoC expecting to play at Fantasy Superheroes(tm), possibly updated to modern times as a some of Buffy the Vampire Slayer tribute. CoC is not that.

    In CoC, if you're fighting anything that is not human, you're pretty much done for.

    CoC is foremost a setting about investigating the mundane happening, discovering the horror behind that event, and then either running away, rallying the town, or competing to die in the most entertaining way possible. If that's not your style of game, that's cool. But the franchise has been quite successful enough (as RPGs go) that to say it's not a real game is to limit your concept of "game" to an unreasonable degree.

    If any PC killed that vampire in your game, it wasn't CoC being run correctly. Depending on the circumstances, your party probably shouldn't even have known it was a vampire when they faced it. A good CoC GM would ensure they met it at least once in a non-combat situation before even realising the vampire was a) hostile, or b) an enemy.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2015-10-21 at 12:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    I cannot speak specifically to CoC.

    I can, however, give some advice on horror as a genre. Horror, at its crux, is about betrayal. As others have hinted, it's not so much betrayal of the world against you, nor even of the GM towards you; it's about betrayal of your expectations.

    Part of what makes M. Night Shaymalan effective - when he is working well - is that his twists add to the horror of the situation. Sixth Sense is a scary movie (when it's scary) because of atmosphere, yes, but the most horrifying parts are the parts where betrayals lie at the heart of the ghosts' stories. The horrible ghost-girl who's vomiting constantly is scary...but the part that is most chilling is what she asked the boy to do to help her. And it wasn't because she was asking him to do something wrong: it's because the core of her death was truly, utterly horrifying.

    Even the big twist at the end is horrible because it betrays your expectations, and yet that gnawing sense that something was wrong was there throughout.


    Since I'll probably never run one, I'll share what I think would make a good horror game for tabletop RPG. Let's go with a highly lethal horror system like Call of Cthulhu. Starting off, you do try to make it horror by playing the usual tropes. You work with the atmosphere, you exploit the alien geometries, and you generally let the players take their characters through it, some going mad, others dying, etc.

    One of the odd things may initially be mistaken for the GM screwing up: NPCs, particularly the more insane ones, seem to forget that a player's new character wasn't around for something; that was her old PC that died.

    But it becomes...common. And the setting seems confused when the PC doesn't act on the player's meta-knowledge, and to accept - almost expect - it when he does.

    The reveal, which should be done with a certain dawning realization, should be that there are forces outside the world which manipulate ordinary people into horrible situations, to do terrifying, terrible things. And it is left to the players and their PCs to realize that the PCs are afflicted by such entities...and those entities are the players.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Seems to me like a number of people here are getting tunnel vision regarding the power thing and dismissing him as some power gaming munchkin and missing the part where he's complying about being powerless AND utterly disposable, that the character was out of commission before he got a chance to do anything. How do you get invested in playing a character that is out of action before you even "play" them?


    I find there's a difference between a Lovecraft story character losing their grip on reality throughout the book and inevitably giving in to madness and the nameless victim that gets offed in the cold open of an Episode of Supernatural.

    So what if he's on a kindle? He's not contributing to the game, he's dead, or at least out of commission, is he supposed to just sit there bored while everyone else has fun? You could make an argument about paying attention I suppose, but if his character is not conscious then he's not going to be paying attention in character either, he's not going to know anything that happens until he comes too. I'd argue that makes things more immersive, since now he won't know anything his character doesn't know when or if he is revived.

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    Default Re: Do you like Call of Cthulhu? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    It seems you went into a CoC expecting to play at Fantasy Superheroes(tm), possibly updated to modern times as a some of Buffy the Vampire Slayer tribute. CoC is not that.
    Not at all. In fact, I only joined this game after all my D&D games had fizzled and I was honestly kind of desperate for anything. From the moment the game was described to me, it sounded boring playing total muggles in a horror universe. I admit that I had trouble even trying to enjoy it.

    If any PC killed that vampire in your game, it wasn't CoC being run correctly. Depending on the circumstances, your party probably shouldn't even have known it was a vampire when they faced it. A good CoC GM would ensure they met it at least once in a non-combat situation before even realising the vampire was a) hostile, or b) an enemy.
    Yes, apparently it had been following the players for many sessions, almost from the beginning. I had just joined. And we didn't know what it was at first. I figured it out as a player but I was trying not to meta-game. In fact, I was trying throughout, even during the creation of my character, not to meta-game. I didn't pick skills that would necessarily be the best for the game, like a bunch of combat and stealth things, because I was supposed to be a regularly Joe and it felt like meta-gaming to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Well it sounds from your previous posts that you never got immersed in the tabletop CoC game in the first place. You were meh about your character, you were constantly going back to your Kindle during play, etc.
    OMG, I will repeat, I did not TOUCH my Kindle until my character was (I thought) completely DEAD within an hour of making him. When he was revived, barely, I put it down until I realized I was still unable to do anything because he was so debilitated. It was impossible for me to make any relevant contribution to the game. I was by myself in a room holding my guts in. I actually got a little frustrated when I was revived, because at least a new character would have been able to do something. I was out of the game for all practical purposes. Then someone else killed the vampire and that session was over.

    It's true. I was meh about my character from the get-go, even before making him. It's a primary failing of the game from my personal point of view, that I don't see how one cares about such disposable characters. When someone said an hour is too long to make a character, that just makes them sound even more like disposable tissues to me and even harder to care about them.

    It might help if you played a CoC game where you're literally playing as yourself. That way you avoid some of what you found about being disconnected from your character and not caring what happens to them.
    Let's say that works and I get into my character. How do I continue to be interested after the first hour of the game when my "character" dies? There's just no way to feel invested in a you're-probably-gonna-die character. Even Resident Evil was doable if you played smartly. This one is so stacked against you that you it's nigh hopeless from the get-go.

    It's like the game is screaming at you "Be afraid! Be very afraid!" but it's so fake. Even the insanity stuff is fake. I was told my character has seem some crazy stuff so I know this stuff is out there. How many times am I going to lose my mind because I saw a vampire? I roll some dice to see if my character goes nutz because he saw a vampire and fails to convince himself it was just a crazy guy who happened to turn into mist? Okay. *shrug* Whatever it was, yes, my character knows there are monsters in the world. My character going insane because he rolled over 40 on percentile does not equate to ME being freaked out by what's going on. I've seen hundreds of horror movies where the characters spend 15 to 30 minutes coming to terms with the fact that they're in a horror movie. It's cliche. Can we please accept it and move on with the story? You're not just mundane but you're so exceptionally mundane that you keep going crazy when anything happens. It's completely a roll of the dice, yet one more roll in a long line or rolls that I have to be lucky on or it's another way my character can become even more irrelevant. *sigh*
    Last edited by Dalebert; 2015-10-21 at 02:23 PM.
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