Call of Cthulhu lite: a cut down charactersheet

11 Dec

I’m a notorious tinkerer when it comes to RPG systems. I like to tailor the system to suit my style of GMing. While Call of Cthulhu is robust and fairly elegant system, there have always been a few elements that have bugged me about the overly extensive skill list available to player characters. This is my cut down version of the Call of Cthulhu character sheet. It plays exactly the same as the standard Call of Cthulhu system but with a few modifications.

The updated Character Sheet:

Call of Cthulhu character sheet lite (240KB PDF)

Looking down the sheet the changes are as follows

Characteristics and Rolls:

Players receive 50 points to spend across their existing characteristics (existing characteristics start at 6 for everything except education).

Appearance has been replaced with Charisma, as per the first edition of CoC. Charisma now influences the characters Socialize skill.

Magic Points are called “Will” (seems more fitting to the core works of HPL) while Hit Points are called “Health” (for no other reason than my personal preference).


Players receive the following points to spend on their skills:

  • Edu x 10 on up to 7 occupation skills (to be negotiated with the Keeper)
  • Int x 5 to spend on hobbies/other interests

Skills like Craft and Accounting (which I’ve rarely seen used in a game) have been removed.

Other skills have been merged into one (Sneak and Hide are now “Stealth“).

Most skill titles speak for themselves, but a few notes may help explain my thinking:

  • Alertness captures listen, spotting attackers, responding to threats and noticing thing when the character is the passive. (Actively searching, etc is covered below under Investigation).
  • Combat skills are now grouped into Brawl for all unarmed combat, Firearms for all gun related attacks and Weaponry for all melee skills. I have never cared for the different chances to hit across different weapons. I prefer a more robust system that gets about telling great stories over quibbling over ‘realism’.
  • Larceny represents the old locksmithing and conceal, slight of hand and other criminal activities where manual dexterity is involved (safe cracking, I guess).
  • Socialize represents general interactions with others, social etiquette, information gathering and the like. Persuade is convincing someone of something that is true or inspiring others while Subterfuge represents lying and deception.


The only wrinkle that complicates things slightly, are the fields of specialisation. These have areas of added expertise grant an +10% when rolling a skill test. They are indicated as follows:

The Humanities skill has a rating of 54%. Below it are three slots for any its specialisations the player may have purchased. In this example, History and Law have been purchased and when relevant to a skill test, add an additional 10% to the skills total.

Skill specialisations as follows

Humanities has the specialisations of

  • History
  • Law
  • Art
  • Political Economics

Investigation has the specialisations of

  • Spot Hidden
  • Library Use
  • Tracking

Medicine has the specialisations of

  • Psychiatry*
  • Pharmacy
  • Surgery

Natural Science has the specialisations of

  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geology
  • Physics

Repair has the specialisations of

  • Mechanical
  • Electrical

Social Science has the specialisations of

  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Psychology*

*Psychology is the equivalent of Psychology in Call of Cthulhu standard rules, while and Psychiatry is the equivalent of Psychoanalysis.

A character must have at least 30% the relevant skill to buy a specialisation. Buying a specialisation costs 5 skill points.

Final thoughts

I won’t say it’s a flawless reinterpretation of the Call of Cthulhu rules, but I find it is more empowering to player characters as the reduced range and broader categories make them more likely to be used in play. I have play tested the ‘specialisations’ over seven sessions and they work well. The primary issue is their interface with checking off skills and rolling experience. Characters do seem to use these more often, thus checking against them with greater regularity. However, it’s a minor quibble as they tend to be more ‘academic’ skills and I don’t mind their increasing faster than other skills. It seems to be more in keeping with H.P. Lovecraft’s  heroes which should always be encouraged.


7 Responses to “Call of Cthulhu lite: a cut down charactersheet”

  1. Aaron February 8, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    Elegant and clean. It fixes some of my BRP gripes, makes me aware of others I hadn’t considered.

    Thank you. I’m using these variations next week!

    • RPG Plotter February 9, 2011 at 12:20 am #

      Thanks Aaron! Always nice to hear of others finding this stuff useful 🙂 All the best for the session. Here’s hoping the player characters get the better of those cosmic horrors.

  2. Joshua Haney July 18, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    Beautiful! This condenses a lot of the changes I have been considering since I discovered Savage Worlds. Well done sir!

  3. Ricard Ibáñez October 4, 2016 at 7:56 pm #

    Excellent entry! I think use these rules in my campaign from now.
    If you do not mind, I will translate it into Spanish for broadcast

    Ricard Ibáñez

  4. RPG Plotter October 5, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    Hi Richard, Glad you found hit helpful. All the best with the translation!


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