Call of Cthulhu – Conflict and Cohesion

OK this piece I’m prying out of my own hands, I could probably do more but I’m out of time.  Be advised, I’m not happy about it.

Call of Cthulhu is a complete side step compared to Dungeons and Dragons, your health is permanently low to the point of pointless, your sanity and luck will drain fast and the world is out to get you.


However, I feel that I’m enjoying the story line more than other story lines I’ve played so far; it doesn’t feel as disjointed OR so focused on combat that I need to be combat ready all the time.

The low health makes you less combat hungry and so more story focused, your background is a stronger asset and liability than in more combat heavy RPGs and you feel that you can genuinely solve problems with more than just a sword and a gun.

Better still you don’t have to realign your character to other players in order to make it work; your character can still be themselves.


I’ll bring you up to speed, a group of 4 of us with a GM were testing a prototype story line for Call of Cthulhu (although we are miles behind the testing time scale).  Unfortunately things have gone south already and now people’s true personality have come to light.

One character has already seen the $ signs and wants to go back to make money by finding the creature we saw and capturing it, another believes that there is a rational explanation for everything and wants to solve it so that the University is protected and everyone exonerated.

My character is either trying to discover if this is a fraud or real as my character’s father is a defrauder and has made a large amount of money and enemies from doing it and one character has seen how it has affected friends and, although she is reluctant, is willing to go along as it provides closure on the whole situation.

The key here, however, is that we are all subtlety on the same path without being shoehorned down the same path and because of the ambiguous nature of the world its possible.


What do I mean by ambiguous nature? There are two key questions that you ask when dealing with Cthulhu games and RPGs:

  1. Is there a rational explanation for the visions OR are these creatures genuinely existing?
  2. Are the visions making the madness or is the madness creating the visions?

This creates 4 potential scenarios that can exist in the same world:

Scenario 1 – They are real and you are drawn to you

The most supernatural; they know they can have the most effect on you so they seek you out and try to induce the madness from you.

It actually makes the threat the most intimidating; a threat that can read your mind and decide that you are an easy mark or even destined to go mad.

Scenario 2 – They are real and you go mad from seeing them

The simplest idea; you see them you go mad.

It basically comes from the idea that something is so beyond the normal, that doesn’t even look normal on the first glance can exist and be so uncanny it can drive you insane.

Scenario 3 – There is a rational explanation that induces madness.

There are a wide variety of things that can induces visions; the most common used in this game is scenario is bootleg alcohol which was known to have other hallucinogenic properties.  At the same time there are the natural spores and plants in the world known for doing this.

It makes nature a threat but while trying to solve it you have to take further risks to solve the problem.

Scenario 4 – Your very mind induces the visions

The mind is the most unpredictable thing and even if you think that .

This is probably the most scariest thing, the idea that through no fault of your own you have this ticking time bomb that creates these dangerous and horrific visions that will drive mad and you have no choice or control over it.


Here’s the real trick about Cthulhu… it doesn’t try and and answer either question; it allows the players to play and make the decisions themselves through the characters.

If you close down any of the four scenarios, you limit the options.  Early on this isn’t a good idea as the primary goal is to solve the mysteries and by allowing each character to do it in their own way makes it feel more satisfying.

This is more a detective novel than fantasy adventure, as each puzzle piece slots into place, you close down what is actually going on to the point you can take some form of decisive action.

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