February 7, 2019 at 6:44 pm #734269
I’ve always had a two-sided relationship with Call of Cthulhu: on one had I love investigation and horror gaming, and on the other I can’t imagine why you’d play a game where you spend – a scientifically measured – 97.32% of your time either rolling up new characters or trying to quickly introduce them to the rest of the party. You have to do it quickly so that someone will at least hear their name, forget back-story, before they too die or go mad. I once had a player suggest that they might name their next character Aaarrghaaaahhkk so that at least the other characters might remember who they were by their death-rattle. 10 minutes – and 3 characters later – the novelty had worn off: who could tell one long stream of vowels interspersed with ripping noises from another…
Anyway, that’s not my point. Call of Cthulhu 7 has an expansion “Pulp Cthulhu” [ https://www.chaosium.com/pulp-cthulhu-hardcover/ ] which promises a different experience:
Tired of your investigators dying in quick succession when jaunting around the world in a desperate bid to save humanity? Wishing that sometimes your investigator could make a stand instead of hiding and waiting for the eldritch horror to pass? Pulp Cthulhu ups the ante and provides you with tougher, more capable heroes—ready to take on the villainous machinations of the Cthulhu Mythos!
I wondered if any of you have played it and, if you have, what you thought of it. How different is it?
My fear is that you could make the characters in stock CoC a while lot tougher and they’d still go mad and die at a distressing rate. I mean, technically, toddlers with pointed sticks are much more dangerous than unarmed toddlers, but if you’re going to make them fight packs of hyenas… the difference may be moot.February 8, 2019 at 1:50 pm #734270
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I got this as part of the CoC7 kickstarter, but I haven’t really had a chance to crack it open. Acthung Cthulhu includes CoC and Savage Worlds rules, SW being (in my experience) a much more forgiving rule system.February 9, 2019 at 11:45 pm #734272
I like everything about Savage Worlds except for “Smarts”. I just can’t get past it. Every time it rings a verisimilitude shattering “WTF” bell inside my head that totally breaks the mood of whatever game I’m playing.February 12, 2019 at 7:06 pm #734274
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I’ve played Pulp Cthulhu, and very much enjoyed it. (But then, I also enjoy Savage Worlds a lot).
The source book is well-written, and a good look at how pulp stories work, with a bunch of various options and dials in.
In terms of how different it is from Cthulhu, Pulp Heroes have two major differences:
1) Double the Hit Points. This means physical dangers are simply less dangerous to them. In normal Cthulhu, combat is a fail-state – you want to avoid fights wherever possible, because something as simple as Goon With Gun ends an average character within 2 shots. Pulp Cthulhu makes that 4 shots, meaning that starting a fight is no longer death-sentence worthy, which changes the way people play.
2) Luck is a resource. As with standard 7e, you can spend it to influence your rolls, but your Luck rarely returns, so it’s another bleeding resource like Sanity. In Pulp, you gain Luck back every single session (a little too quickly, IMO, but you could tweak this easily). For All Your Luck (minimum 30), you may Escape Death Somehow, meaning every PC has a once-per-session Get Out Of Jail Free card. It can also be spent to ablate Sanity damage, and a bunch of other things.
In practice, Pulp PCs last a lot longer, are prepared to take more risks because of it, and generally the game encourages more free-wheeling and combat over caution. The level of threat lesser things pose to a Pulp PC is decreased, so taking out the mobsters or ghouls by just shooting them a lot is a valid option. Cthulhu himself will still one-shot a Pulp PC effortlessly.
That said, I disagree that standard Cthulhu is such a meatgrinder that the PCs get shredded multiple times a session. I’ve run the entirety of Masks of Nyarlathotep – a notorious and lengthy campaign (coming to RPGMP3s audio in… the future!), and character deaths never went beyond a handcount. It changed how the players played – cautiously, and fearing death around every corner – but part of the GM magic of Cthulhu is in having the threat of death or madness constantly lurking without paying it off constantly.February 12, 2019 at 8:36 pm #734276
Thanks for taking the time to post such a thoughtful response. I really appreciate it. You’ve inspired med to take a look.
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