Sup /tg/, I'm looking to start playing Call of Cthulhu with a group of my friends, but I have no idea where to start. Any advice? In terms of the group, they're only used to 3.5, so I'd quite want a simple edition. Thanks in advance!
Anyone? I really like the idea of it, but I've got no idea where to start
1) No name dropping. Keep it vague. You don't start with the identification of a Mythos Horror, your players never see it and the cultists call it by some other name.2) Setting is central. Much of CoC is about well portrayed locations and their cultural, historic, or scientific relevance. It lavishes in these backdrops and contrasts their radiance with the abyss of infinity and madness. This reduces humanity as a whole to a fluke, and all its glory to inconsequential happenstance in the face of older powers.3) Limit the scope. It's always normality - little weird - imminent end of the world - TPK. If you allow steps in between you get Pulp not Horror. Characters will get savvy and the Mythos will creep into their arsenal. PC parties tend to act aloof and purely utilitarian. Don't allow it. Involve them in the story and focus on individual struggle with reason and emotion. Combat creates problems, it doesn't solve them. Even a victory always comes with a serious drawback because of escalation.4) Prep scenes not battles. In D&D an NPC name and some combat stats is enough to start playing. In CoC you usually deal with a conspiracy or secret ritual of some kind, this needs foreshadowing. Never portray NPCs as 'the bad guys', always maintain some ambivalence and doubt. Trust is more important than damage per round. So create relationship maps to outline which NPC talks to which other NPC and how. Play up innuendo and shifty looks. Position your NPCs instead of burning them off in combat. Combat in general should be a last resort, and never a way for the PCs to dominate. But getting the chief of police to believe what your characters have witnessed and act upon it without going insane, that's a real battle in CoC terms.
One shots only. No fluff holds up to epic heroes and remains Horror. Tease with fluffy details, use era as plot device, but don't explain everything.Art is important. For Horror I find animated gifs effective. Soundtrack is good. Adjust volume with annoyance but beyond Aphex Twin and Brian Eno there is NASA's Symphonies of the Planets and Conet Project's numbers stations.Describe sensory impressions, never foregone conclusions. Keep it simple. Decide if you want conspiracy, creature, or body Horror. Rely on suspense rather than effects. Roleplaying is not a visual medium.Classic tropes include time loops, who's the cylon and does he know?, no - YOU are the demons!, last of its kind, first contact, soylent green is people, and the evergreen zombie rush.Work with your players. No 2 groups play the same game the same way. Be flexible and contrive a maximization of enjoyment for all.
Isolate the group. All CoC adventures do this.The most obvious way is to cut them off geographically. They're on a polar research station and the next supply ship isn't due until next week. They're in a remote estate and don't know the surrounding treacherous woodlands. They're on a ship at sea, on a moving train, or on a sailing airship. This does of course not work everywhere. You can't be isolated geographically in London, Paris, Berlin, or Budapest.So you use social isolation. Simply by what they've seen they're bound together because they know, and nobody else believes. Explain and they laugh at your joke, insist and they start worrying about your sanity, act out and they take you to a doctor, keep insisting and the looney bin awaits.Make the individual characters matter. Maybe one is an Egyptologist, and the adventure has a hieroglyph tablet that needs decoding. Maybe one was in Europe during the Great War and witnessed a gypsy ritual that becomes relevant to the plot. The trick is not to have a sudden need for a certain character that then passes, but to foreshadow and maintain that need throughout.And finally the characters can run away. But in doing so they inevitably doom the world including themselves to be overcome by whatever horror they failed to stop when it could still be stopped.
In a Horror game your biggest issue is always pacing. All given suggestions only work if the timing is right. The pressure you put on the players in their understanding of the world creates the framework upon which the entire plot depends.To utilize that you need 2 things: An ability to read your players' immersion and excitement, and plot devices to regulate tension.The first takes experience and empathy. Look for general conversational clues like displacement behavior (tapping, chewing, drinking, scratching) and listen to their tone of voice. Take a baseline at the beginning of the session and then slide it up incrementally. Don't overdo it at first, you want increasing waves of tension. The valleys are as important as the peaks, without relief and contrast you just get action.The second is all in the prep work. Give yourself room to react and divide it up into natural seeming steps. Don't give away too much too soon, it will not increase tension at all. Instead foreshadow and provide clues, take away options over time, and make the general situation ever more dire in increments that can be felt by the players. This is where table lighting and soundtrack can be your best friends.This is why Horror films with broken continuity still work. Logic subsides to immediacy. Human perception is a heuristics machine, whatever is most pressing in implication dominates, and causality be damned! So don't get held up by details. All that matters is to keep the players on their toes and the suspension of disbelief generally maintained.
Know your players. Watch them carefully. It's like poker, when one blinks, you got him. Everyone has different phobias or anxieties. Many are hard to recreate in narration. There's neurolinguistic tricks you can use, but it's always a long shot. Every player has a primary mnemonic sense.Smell is the prime candidate, it's very close to the lizard brain core and fight/flight. You recognize a smell-rememberer because he draws deep breaths through the nose when under pressure, smells his fingers when nervous, and inspects food by smell before tasting it. His displacement actions tend to include his nose. You get him immersed by becoming his sommelier, you learn to describe the world to his nose. Read some wine reviews and pick up adjectives for aromas. To unnerve this player light some incense.The second likely primary mnemonic sense is hearing. These people get annoyed when too many people talk at once and are the first to jump at unexpected sounds from the other room. You get them immersed by making them use their ears for playing and for imagining their character. You whisper when an NPC talks to them. You describe sounds in detail just for atmo, but also to hint at plot. You explain how their character gets overwhelmed by some sudden noise when it fits your plot. It is important to leave some ambivalence when describing faint or foreign sounds, keeps it exciting. And describe volume and direction, influence of wind or structures.Similar things work for vision, haptics, and even acceleration. But you get how it works: Find out which sense each player uses for memory the most and then play into it. Don't be too obvious or the players will feel manipulated and become uncooperative.As for actual fears, it works just the same. Claustrophobia, agoraphobia, acrophobia, arachnophobia, ophidiophobia, pyrophobia, tryphophobia, Body Horror, ghosts, death, ... Just find their buttons and push them. Gently at first, and then increasing with the pace of your plot.
>ere the waning and fantastically gibbous moon had risen far above the eastern plain, I was awake in a cold perspiration, determined to sleep no moreLovecraft intentionally used unsettling or unfamiliar language in his descriptions to influence the reader's state of mind.This does not translate directly into narration. But language can create subtle dissonances that lead to subconscious expectation. If used wrong this can be hilarious, but if used correctly it can give your players perceptions and experiences they didn't anticipate, and they usually appreciate that.
Lovecraft: The universe is older, bigger, and weirder than anyone could ever imagine. Mankind is insignificant. There is no good or evil, or any other ordering structure man can grasp except might. And people who glimpse a shadow of these old powers are like a snowflake in a furnace.Derleth: Man and his morale can prevail. There are bad things lurking in every dark crevice as there always have been. But humans carry a spark in them that can at times overcome the deepest darkness and shine into every corner with compassion and safety in numbers. Or it can fail and be infested by the evil it was charged to dispel.Poe: At night the most mundane circumstances can construct demons in our minds, and those demons kill. This creates an overlap, an ambiguity, and anyone caught in this paradox will either fashion his own demise out of fear and mistrust, or explain away the perceived threat only to then be overcome by it.Shelley: There is infinite beauty and truth to be found in the most unlikely and revolting places. But unable to overcome fear and revulsion man cannot grasp that and becomes the monster in his efforts to protect against them.Eco: Every mind constructs the world from individual experience, and although seemingly coherent at the surface, expectations and context differ wildly from individual to individual. In this chasm madness is born and carried into the world as lies, cruelty, and murder. Over generations this becomes an ordering principle to the pitiful demise of the innocent, the inspired, and the honest.
>>28087484Excellent. Could you do one for Borges too? He fits in there.
Not OP but thanks for this. I had a CoC one shot planned and no idea how it actually ran in practice. Do you happen to have any logs or transcripts from a game I could read?
>>28087515>BorgesNon hablo espanõl>>28087578I got nothing. Search 'actual play' and cthulhu.
Here you go.
>>28087634>Non hablo espanõlRight, and you read Eco in the original Italian. There are translations, you know. I think you'll like Borges, given the presentation of the other authors you did.
The CoC crunch is a bit dated and limited to simulating skills.. That may be just the thing for a bunch of DnD players. But there's better systems to play Cthulhu with.For example Dark OREhttp://www.arcdream.com/pdf/Nemesis.pdf
>>28086458>a simple editionEditions don't matter much in CoC. It's all BRP and completely compatible with itself, Delta Green, Laundry, and others. The core rules are mostly the same, what changes is skill table, when you get a check mark to roll for improvement, equipment and all that. But you can take a character out of one game and use him in another without changes.I haven't seen the new version of CoC. Does this still hold?
>>28088332Looks like ithttp://www.chaosium.com/forms/coc_quick_start_color.pdf
GM tipsArtRulesMartian gas masks threadLet's see, what else... PC/NPC portraits?
>>28088618...A glimpse at scientific progress of the era?
Just remember to never say Hastur 3 times, only twice like Hastur, Hastur, then you should be-
>>28088618What the fuck? They killed a guy for playing a violin? 1930 police was fucking brutal!
Thanks for the pdfs, whoever is dumping them!
>>28090076for color version...>>28088464
>>28090075No problem. Sadly 4chan won't take my complete works of Howard Phillip.
>>28090258They're all online anyway. hplovecraft.com
>>28090630As are Codex Seraphinianus, Voynich Manuscript, Malleus Monstrorum, Oera Linda Book, Blue Planet Project...But they're all too big to post here.