העמותה למשחקי תפקידים בישראל (אתר היסטורי)Everything You Wanted to Know about Call of Cthulhu (and Delta Green) and was Afraid to Ask / יוסי גורוביץ - העמותה למשחקי תפקידים בישראל (אתר היסטורי)
 העמותה בפייסבוקחדשות העמוד הראשי ב-RSS
הגעתם לאתר הישן של העמותה למשחקי תפקידים בישראל. האתר החדש זמין כאן.
Everything You Wanted to Know about Call of Cthulhu (and Delta Green) and was Afraid to Ask / יוסי גורוביץ

Everything You Wanted to Know about Call of Cthulhu (and Delta Green) and was Afraid to Ask /

Yossi Gurvitz

What is Call of Cthulhu?
Call of Cthulhu (CoC) is a roleplaying game of horror, inspired by the writings of Howard Philips Lovecraft (HPL), an early 20th century American horror writer. It is published by Chaosium, and is in its 5.6 edition. The game takes its name from one of Lovecraft's stories, "The Call of Cthulhu".

What is Delta Green?
Delta Green (DG) is a campaign setting for CoC. It is set in the 1990s, and combines "traditional" CoC with conspiracy theory, to great success. It is published by Pagan Publishing (slogan: "Plotting the Downfall of Humanity Since 1990!").

Who was Lovecraft?
Howard Philips Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an important figure in American horror literature. He is the inventor of the cosmic horror genre, which was created through his stories. He influenced many other writers, including Robert Bloch and Stephen King. There's a short biography of Lovecraft in CoC.

What is the Setting of CoC?
CoC uses the modern world as its setting. There are three "canon" time periods: the 1890s (Victorian England is a favorite), the 1920s (Lovecraft's period), and the 1990s (which is also the time frame used by Delta Green). The world is realistic, often painstakingly so – CoC excels in recreating historical settings and moods – with one major difference: the existence of the Cthulhu Mythos.

What is the Cthulhu Mythos?
The Cthulhu Mythos is the knowledge of what is beyond humanity. Lovecraft rejected the idea that humanity was the center of the universe. The Lovecraftian universe is populated by monstrous races, deadly and uncaring gods, and the knowledge that humanity is insignificant, doomed, and of no importance when compared to the mighty forces which rule the universe. The knowledge of those forces, their relation to each other, and the effect they have on our reality is the Cthulhu Mythos.
Encounters with the Cthulhu Mythos will, with almost no exception, cost Investigators their Sanity.

Investigators?
Yes. That's what CoC characters are called. This comes from the fact that the game is based, well, on investigation. The investigators investigate strange happenings, gain baneful knowledge, often go insane… and maybe, just maybe, they'll manage to hold the Mythos back, for a few more years.
CoC is not about combat. This cannot be stressed enough. Quoting for a well-loved Unspeakable Oath article: "When facing danger, the investigators should a) investigate, b) run away, z) fight." Many of the Cthulhu entities are not affected by our physics, and harming them is very hard – but their very existence can drive investigators mad. MY favorite anecdote is about 5 investigators barricading themselves in a room in a Calcutta hospital, when, through the window, in flies a relatively minor critter… The scene ended with the death of two investigators, the insanity of two, and the severe wounding of three. Avoid combat with Mythos entities. You can't win.

What is this bit about insanity?
Sanity is one of the cores of CoC. Basically, it assumes humans are sane – that is, well-adjusted to their surroundings – until they suffer from great shocks or are exposed to the Mythos. Shocks are violations of normality; seeing a dead body, for example, is considered to be shocking (but, for instance, it won't faze a coroner; it's normal to him. Seeing the dead body of his wife – now, that's something different). Mythos encounters can come in three forms: encountering Mythos entities, reading Mythos books, or casting (or seeing others cast) Mythos spells.
Sanity can be regained, but it will take a long time of treatment to do so.

I'm not sure I understand…
OK, I'll try again. Picture a normal person – because, in CoC, that's what you're playing; DG has all the commandos and the special agents – walking down the street, when something the size of a horse, with the eyes of a blind beetle, and a huge pair of bat wings swoops from above, grabs a child from the street, and flies away.
I think I would be shocked. In fact, I think I might see a therapist about it. There's no way I could have seen what I've seen, can there? This is the Age of Science, after all.
And then I read in the paper that a child has been missing. I see a picture. It's the picture of the child I saw the thing grab.
That's what I'm talking about when I'm speaking of sanity loss: the knowledge, the hideous and unavoidable knowledge, that the world is not as it ought to be, as I was taught it is, that it is crooked and that monsters are crawling out of the cracks. Losing sanity is learning that the world is not behaving as it should.

So, one minor encounter and I'm out of the game and into the loony house?
No. First of all, there's always a chance your character survives the shock with little damage to his sanity. Second, minor monsters don't cause all that damage, sanity-wise. There are three stages of insanity in the game: 1) Temporary insanity (which lasts minutes, or at most hours, and leaves the investigator shocked, but still active), 2) Indefinite insanity (your character has lost too much of his sanity too fast, and is now in Arkham Asylum – Arkham, by the way, was invented by Lovecraft), which can last months of game time, and 3) Permanent insanity – time to create a new investigator.
I said minor monsters don't cause all that much damage.
But the big ones do. There are a couple of 1d10\1d100 SAN loss monstrosities.
Yes, CoC's system uses percentiles. And, yes, seeing Great Cthulhu could cost you 100 sanity points. Not that it matters much, given that Cthulhu can eat 1d3 investigators per round.

This is insane! We don't stand a chance!
Yes, you do. This is not a combat game, remember? This is a game about investigation. One of the Pillars of Faith of CoC is that there should always be a way out. Finding it – it's usually a ritual or an artifact – is the point of the whole game.
Fine, I can hear you say, but can I be sure my Keeper (that's what CoC game masters are called – an abbreviation of "Keeper of Arcane Lore") won't sic Great Cthulhu at me? Well, not if he's a good keeper; a Keeper who throws Cthulhu, or Nyarlathotep, or Cthugha, or any others of the unpronounceables at his players for no good reason and without giving them several warnings and a good way to prevent it, is worse than the DM who throws a herd of tarrasques at his players. We know that such DMs exist; but I'm yet to hear of such a Keeper.
Remember, there will always be a way out. But it might demand that you sacrifice your character in order to save humanity.

So, I create a character and then the Keeper gets to kill it? What's the point?
Why, the point is fighting a losing battle against the forces of darkness, of course. Humanity is already doomed; all that your characters can do is deflect the harm for a few more years. Allow another generation to live and love and create. You're fighting a rear-guard action against an invincible enemy – and isn't that the noblest of battles?
Note that not all investigators go insane or die (though most do): some survive, retire from active life, write their memories, instruct a new generation of investigators…. And maybe, just maybe, they'll come back for one last battle.
But, yes, this is a horror game; most investigators don't need to invest in a retirement plan, if you get my drift. Also note that the characters don't know they're doomed.

Okay. So what sort of character am I going to play?
Normal, daily-life people. Scholars, reporters, private eyes, antiquarians… In general, people who Learn Things Man was not Meant to Know. No sword-wielding heroes (unless your Keeper decides to run a CoC campaign in the Middle Ages), no priests (with the exception of "normal" clergy without any supernatural power), and it's a very bad idea to start learning Mythos spells. Not that you won't; often it's necessary; but it's still a very bad idea.

How does magic work?
You don't want to know. Trust me on this one.

You did mention special agents…
That's right. DG characters are all members of federal agencies.

Could you explain this DG bit?
Naturally. DG is a product of Pagan Publishing. It provides a framework for 1990s investigators by creating an agency within the American government – Delta Green – which is dedicated to fighting the Mythos. Delta Green was once legal, but now is illegal, and as such, is a conspiracy within the US government. All DG operatives are agents of some federal agency, most of them with investigative powers. This gives them a reason to do what they do, and gives them a veneer of legitimacy. As a product, DG is brilliant, because it meshes the conspiracy culture of the 1990s with the Mythos, and does so seamlessly. Nazi war criminals, shadowy government agencies conspiring with aliens, resistance with the US government, media groups… DG has it all, and more. Also, it deals more with the effects of the Mythos than with the Mythos itself – and thus characters have a better survival rate. Usually. If there's one CoC accessory you should buy, this is it.

And what if I want my campaign to be placed somewhere else than the US?
Then buy Delta Green: COUNTDOWN. This weighty tome (424 pages) contains information about parallel agencies – each with its own story – in the United Kingdom and post-Soviet Russia, as well as templates for characters from virtually any intelligence agency in the world. Plus it has good, campaign-level information on a few more cults, and several adventures.
You do need the basic Delta Green rulebook for it to make sense, though.

How well-known is this game?
It's a well-known game, and has been translated into many languages (sadly, Hebrew isn't one of them). It is estimated that 8% of gamers in the US play this game – some 400,000 people. The game has been in existence since 1981, and has been through more than five editions. It's a solid addition to your roleplaying library, not to mention your roleplaying experience.

What do I do if my players insist on Hack and Slash techniques?
Hack and Slash simply does not work well in CoC. If possible, try to get more serious players; if not, let them lose a couple of characters. They'll wise up when they understand the Thing From Beyond couldn't care less about their tommy-guns or M16s.

Where can I get the books?
Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green can be ordered from Amazon. Olive imports Call of Cthulhu, but not (as far as I know) Delta Green.

פורסם ב6 במאי 2009 בקטגוריה סקירות על-ידי jerusalem | לתגובות - בפורום | Tags: ,

 

כל הזכויות ובכללן על התכנים המוצגים באתר זה שמורות לכותבים ולעמותה למשחקי תפקידים בישראל (ע"ר 58-033-358-1). כל העתקה, לרבות במדיה מודפסת או דיגיטלית, אסורה ללא אישור מפורש. Design by Tryscer