Tag Archives: call of cthulhu

Using Lovecraft’s Language in Cthulhu Sessions?

23 Feb

I was recently flicking through a few old bookmarks on my browser and came across Cthulhu Chick’s compilation of Lovecraft’s Favourite Words. As she points out it’s hard to miss his tendency to use obscure and sometimes convoluted descriptives in Lovecraft’s prose. Personally, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy his work. You can’t simply skim over it, you must engage with the writing, which draws you deeper into the story.

All this got me thinking. Would deliberately using Lovecraft’s favourite words undermine or add to a Call of Cthulhu session?

On the one hand it would help position Lovecraft and the specific brand of horror that he evokes. It could also have a welcome nostalgic resonance for players and, if used sparingly, genuinely add to descriptions.

Issues might be that it distracts from the mood, forces a different style on the gamemaster and unnecessarily confuses matters (“What’s brachiate mean?”).

I’m a little ways off running a Call of Cthulhu session any time soon (Eclipse phase is up next on my horizon). But when I do, I’ll take a list of Lovecraftian words and try slipping them in to my descriptions and report back here.

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Review: Stealing Cthulhu

4 Feb

I recently received my copy of Stealing Cthulhu by Graham Walmsley with annotations by Ken Hite, Gareth Harahan and Jason Morningstar.

I have to say that I am quite impressed with this tidy little hardcover. What it lacks in design (pretty much typset in a basic serif font with basic layout) it makes up for in fantastic content. As Walmsley puts it “Its central idea is: by stealing, adapting and combining Lovecraft’s ideas, you can create scenarios that seem new and horrific.”This might sound like a limited premise but the book really does thoroughly investigate the Lovecraft’s stories and provides alternatives and ways of reworking overused tropes into new and engaging scenarios.

Stealing Cthulhu does assume you’re familiar with a few (but not too many) of Lovecraft’s stories. Personally I found this commendable. I’ve often felt that too many players/gamesmasters rely on a second hand knowledge of the mythos to play games. Such a shame seeing how excellent Lovecraft’s work is and how much there is to gain by trying to stay true to his setting. It’s not all tentacles, cults and Gatling guns.

The book has got me thinking about new ways of coming at Cthulhu scenarios particularly steering away from the dreaded ‘thwart the ritual’ finale. I’ll put my ideas in a new post shortly. I would unreservedly recommend this book for anyone who is looking at refreshing their way of handling the mythos and keen to inject some new material into their campaigns.

Madness at Miskatonic UPDATED!

18 Dec

Despite best efforts to find the time to update Madness at Miskatonic, I have only just gotten around to this task. With this latest version there are a few continuity fixes and some more editorial/clarity changes. Thanks must go to Peter Cruise for his thorough eye and very helpful edits. The campaign notes are greatly improved because of his input. Thanks too to G. Roby picking up on some key timeline and linguistic issues. Both these fine individuals volunteered their time via the Yog-Sothoth forums and are fine examples of the collaborative community that resides there.

Without further ado:

Madness at Miskatonic: US Letter Version 3 (8.1MB)

Madness at Miskatonic with A4 cover Version 3 (8.3MB)

Madness at Miskatonic v 3.0…

4 Dec

A few kind folks over at Yog Sothoth forums  have pointed out some further issues/inconsistencies with Madness at Miskatonic. As a community of fellow Call of Cthulhu players, YSDC is great for this sort of thing. There are a few minor date issues, some German that needs fixing and one or two typos outstanding. I expect to have the update done within a week or so. All the existing links will be seamlessly updated once it’s done and the new version reposted on the home page.

In other exciting news the Madness at Miskatonic campaign PDF has been downloaded 283 times (just shy of 300 downloads). If only 10% of downloads actually end up being run that will still be around 30 roleplaying groups playing my campaign. Not too shabby at all 🙂

Quick thoughts on Mansions of Madness Boardgame

20 Oct

The other night, I had the opportunity to play Mansions of Madness, Fantasy Flight Games’ Call of Cthulhu-style boardgame. Being both a boardgamer and roleplayer I was keen to see what this hybrid game was like. With a boardgame’s miniatures, sight-lines, cards and tokens and an RPG-like gamemaster (actually called a ‘Keeper’ ), narrative and player characters possessing customisable skills it clearly has a foot in each camp. Ultimately this central premise is also its central flaw. It tries to live in both worlds and ultimately fails at both.

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Madness at Miskatonic: Revised and updated!

6 Oct

Thanks to the kind work of Joe Adams, Madness and Miskatonic has been proofed by a fresh set of eyes. I have updated it accordingly:

Madness at Miskatonic: US Letter (Revised) 11.2 MB PDF

Madness at Miskatonic: US letter with A4 Cover (Revised) 11.2 MB PDF

Madness at Miskatonic: US Letter Version 3 (8.1MB)

Madness at Miskatonic with A4 cover Version 3 (8.3MB)

Joe was kind enough to contact me about a few continuity issues via the Yog-Sothoth forums which then evolved into his offering to proof the whole document. Thanks Joe! It never ceases to amaze me the sense of community out there particularly when it comes to Call of Cthulhu and H.P. Lovecraft in general. Yog-Sothoth is particularly active in fostering this camaraderie. Thanks to the Yoggie forums over 12o copies of the Madness at Miskatonic PDF have already been downloaded in the past week alone!

Madness at Miskatonic: a Call of Cthulhu mini-campaign

28 Sep

Well this one got away from me. I had hoped putting together my notes and handouts from a mini-campaign I recently ran would be a straightforward exercise. Turns out I’d seriously underestimated the amount of work involved. Never-the-less, it’s finally complete!

In this four-part Call of Cthulhu campaign the investigators enrol in an esoteric subject taught by a radical academic at Miskatonic University. Meanwhile strange dealings align for the worse as fellow classmates commit suicide, a madman escapes Arkham Sanatorium and a curious exhibit of Egyptian artifacts goes on display in the University library. These dire events culminate in the Investigator’s growing realisation of man’s fragile role in the universe as they do battle with unseen powers that seek to seize control of their minds. If they cannot prevail they will be slain, driven mad or worse!

Madness at Miskatonic is 49 pages long with over 24 handouts/play aids. It comes in two formats:

Madness at Miskatonic: US Letter Version 3 (8.1MB)

Madness at Miskatonic with A4 cover Version 3 (8.3MB)

*(After typesetting to US Letter I didn’t have the strength to go back in and completely re-typeset in A4. This A4 Cover version will print out fine, the separately scaled cover is provided to avoid any strange cropping that would arise on A4 paper with the US Letter format).

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