Call of Cthulhu 6th ed. house rules for reading Mythos books

 

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Those Mythos books…

My players have gotten their hands on some Mythos books and naturally, they want to study them. However, the Call of Cthulhu rules is very unforgiving when it comes to reading and learning times. Most adventures will be over long ago when (and if) a player character ever manages to understand a book fully and even more so should she/he desire to learn a spell or two.

And looking at the many alternative book reading rules posted around the internet, I realize that I’m not the first one thinking about this.

Thinking back, even my players’ most veteran characters have not ever managed to fully read a Mythos tome or learn a spell and the difficulty in that department also made all those cool Mythos books take a back stand in our games.

Not anymore. These days I prefer a more pulpy style, with somewhat more capable investigators, so without much further ado I hereby present my alternative book reading rules for Call of Cthulhu 6th edition. Click the pic below or the LINK here to get to the PDF.

CoC 6e reading books house rules

I hope that someone gets some mileage out of it!

 

 

Keeper’s Tools | Occult/Mythos books for the players

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Africa’s Dark Sects – Reading version

Last session my players got their grubby hands on their first Mythos Tome in Masks of Nyarlahotep. I’ve always thought that keeping track of those books was a hassle.

What do they contain? Who is studying which book? Where are they in their learning process? And so on and so forth…

And for this campaign I decided to design a standard book format and create a “book sheet” for each book they find. It comes in three versions:

  • The full Keeper version
  • The Skimming version
  • The Reading version

This way I can share what they find in the books in a modular way, and basically give them the book info in a way similar to how handouts are handled. And I can easily keep a full record of the book for my GM needs.

As Masks of Nyarlahotep is a very well-known and played campaign, I’ve found many variants of the book online, and the MoN Companion by Sixtystone Press does also flesh out the rather meager info in the MoN book. So I don’t take credit for this particular book sheet, which has been merged together from several online sources as well as from the MoN Companion – Frankenstein style 🙂

The particulars of who’s reading what, when and how, I manage in a OneNote notebook that I use for this MoN campaign. Much easier to keep track of these things these days…

Also, if you’d like to use my sheets for your own MoN game, here’s the links for the full PDFs:

Africa’s Dark Sects – Keeper version

Africa’s Dark Sects – Skim version

Africa’s Dark Sects – Read version

Keep on Keeping, lasses and laddies 🙂

 

Review|Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook

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A few weeks ago I purchased the new Delta Green Agent’s handbook from my FLGS and after having read the book I’d like to share some thoughts on it.

For the record, I’m a long time DG fan, ever since I bought the first DG book back in 1997 and I have all the old Pagan Publishing DG books for Call of Cthulhu. The new series of books however, are a self contained RPG, by Arc Dream. This far the following products have been released:

  • Delta Green Agent’s Handbook (hardcover/PDF – basically a player’s handbook for the game)
  • Delta Green Need To Know (Softcover bundled w/ GM screen/free PDF – quick start rules)

The next book to make this a complete game is of course the Delta Green Case Officer’s Handbook (or Delta Green the RPG as I heard it was renamed) which will contain all of the Agent’s handbook plus all the rules for the Handler (GM in DG).

Und now – over to the Agent’s handbook:

Physical
The physical book is a full color hardback with sewn spine, promising to last many sessions at the gaming table. It has a simple, clear and modern layout and the illustrations are top notch, fitting the DG theme well.

The rule system
The rules are presented in a clear and concise way and I think they are well adapted to the setting and theme of the game. For those anxious about leaving Call of Cthulhu, I can comfort you with the fact that the new DG rules stay in BRP-land as they are built from the Legend SRD (from Mongoose Publishing). This means that DG now has more in common with the games derived from the first Mongoose RuneQuest SRD – Mongoose RuneQuest, Mongoose RuneQuest II/Legend, RuneQuest 6/Mythras, OpenQuest 2, Renaissance etc. In fact, I would say that this game is closer to 6th edition CoC than new 7th edition CoC. Compared to “old” Delta Green, the new game is vastly simplified (shorter skill lists, more generic weapon lists and so on). The old DG books, awesome as they were, added tons of new stuff to the base Call of Cthulhu engine. And I must say that I prefer the streamlining of the new game.
At the same time, some new mechanics gets introduced:
-Critical successes are now 01 and doubles (11, 22, 33 etc) under your skill. So if you have a skill of 40% you will crit as in the example above. Fumbles function similarly – 00 and doubles over your skill are fumbles (in the example 44, 55, 66, 77, 88 and 00 would be fumbles. I like this system as it scales crits and fumbles after actual skill level.
-Another new thing is the Luck roll that now is a flat 50% chance that things will go your way. Or not.
-Opposed tests are resolved by both parties rolling a test where the player with the highest success will win. This procedure has been standard in the RuneQuest SRD line of games for many years, so it’s nothing new and it works really well in play.
-The concept of Willpower points also add to the news. They can be thought of as mental fuel or mental hit points and are based on POW. You don’t want to run out of them.
-Combat differ some from both old DG/CoC 6th ed. as well as new CoC 7th ed. The combat turn is a few seconds long and a PC may take ONE and only one action in that amount of time. So, if you choose to Parry or Dodge, your action is gone for the combat turn. The rules also include a bunch of both offensive and defensive combat actions, allowing for a resonable amount of combat tactics. Another cool new thing is the Lethality Rating for more dangerous weapons. This is basically a % roll to determine if a target will survive a hit by the big bad gun. If successful, the target (if human at least) will immediately drop to 0 hp. This rationale was to avoid the rather clunky old rules where you had to roll separately to determine number of hits from autofire which could mean a lot of die rolls. If you’re not a fan of the Lethality rule, optional rules more in the vein of the old autofire rules are included as well.
-Good old Sanity has gotten an overhaul. Basically, there are three conditions that might cause SAN loss – Violence, Helplessness and the Unnatural. This is cool, as now your sanity isn’t threatened only by monsters and their kynde, but also by malign actions of other people or feelings of not being able to do something. Very much in line of what Delta Green is about. SAN thresholds are pretty the same: losing 5 or more SAN in a roll yields temporary insanity and 0 SAN is permanent insanity. Sanity Points are computed as POW x 5 as before. The concept of Breaking Point is however new. This is described as SAN minus POW and if your PCs loses SAN below the Breaking Point, they must succumb to a new Disorder and must also reset the Breaking Point to current SAN minus POW. I also appreciate the effects a PC suffer when being temporarily insane or having a disorder. They are very good and designed to both realistic and playable. Another cool thing is that a PC can adapt to violence and helplessness (but never to the unnatural), meaning that being in those situations won’t call for a SAN roll any more. The backside of this is that the PC will also lose Charisma and points from his or her Bonds. These bonds can be the relation with a spouse or kids, or with other agents or groups and they are what connects the PC to humanity. So, losing your Bonds will make you more inhumane and also more susceptible to psychological trauma. This feels realistic and might form a very good basis for role-playing. I must confess that I haven’t grasped the concept of Bonds 100% yet, but I guess it will be clearer in actual play.
-When it comes to PC wealth, expenses and bying of gear, DG introduces a fairly abstract system where you don’t have to track every dollar for your PC. Many day-to-day items and services are supposed to be within most PCs finacial grasp and the game just assume that the PC can afford it. Other more expensive or restricted items can be hard to get and it’s up to the GM to decide if the item is obtainable and how. There’s even a mechanic for when the PCs want to aquire items from their respective agencies. I like it a lot, but again – this is one of the things that must be tested in-game before deciding if it’s good.

The concept
Contrary to “standard” Call of Cthulhu where most investigators are average Joe’s and Jane’s, Delta Green assumes that the PCs are members (or hangaraunds) of a monster fighting secret organization and also that most PCs (or Agents as they are called in DG) are employed by some Federal Agency. Consequently, most occupations in the book are just that. Examples are FBI, DEA, the military, CIA and so on. A set of more civilian occupations are also included, as well as advice on how to create your own occupations. The old DG books had the US agencies in the core book and added lots of international agencies in the following books, supporting Agents from nearly all countries. The new DG book is focussed solely on US agencies, which I feel is resaonable but I still miss GRU-SV8 (Russian) or PISCES (British). Hopefully, they will be in the forthcoming books from Arc Dream. And I’m so planning to do the Swedish agencies, DG style 🙂

The verdict
The new version of Delta Green promises to be an awesome game. The books released so far are pretty and sturdy, with well-written and appropriate rules for the setting and game concept. If you like old Delta Green I’m sure you’ll gonna love new Delta Green. However, for players and GMs new to DG, the Agent’s handbook is a bit thin on the DG “mythos”. Hopefully, this will be remedied in future publications. And don’t forget – the old DG books are available in PDF format (at DriveThruRPG) so you can mine them for ideas as well as adventures and background stuff.

Well done, Arc Dream!

Links

Delta Green website

Arc Dream Publishing

The Fairfield Project

The old Delta Green from Pagan Publishing

 

CoC 6e house rules

I prepared this little document for our games. These are house rules that we use and I wanted to have them collected in one place. Use if you like.

The Crit and Fumble rules are borrowed from Delta Green. Then I use the Crit & Fumble tables from the BRP Big Gold Book (BGB). Pushing skill tests are from CoC 7e. Skill difficulties are from MRQ2/Legend. The Major Damage rules are from Targets of Opportunity (DG) and finally the movement rules are an amalgam of BRP BGB, 7e and some home brew. 

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Download PDF here!

 

Lazy Sod Press |Project Longpig begun

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Investigare necesse est

I’m all in Cthulhu-land now.

Aside running Masks of Nyarlahotep using the CoC 6e rules, I’m also reading up on the new CoC 7e rules as well as re-reading my old Delta Green books as well as the new DG materials from Arc Dream.

And I must say I’m most eager to run some Delta Green soon. It will be the playtest version of a DG/CoC adventure called Longpig that I’ve been planning to write for a long time now.

The big news here are that I contacted the author of the KULT fan adventure Longpig a while back, to discuss the possibility of a conversion from Kult to Delta Green. He was very positive, and even volunteered to help out!

Longpig is 130-ish pages and in French (not my strongest language, I’d say about 15-20% skill) and translation has taken a while. Now I will re-write it to fit the DG/CoC universe better as Kult and DG are set in very different universes.

The plan further up the road is to release it as a free PDF for all you DG and CoC fans! I’ll probably use the new DG rules for this, as I think that they fit the subject best.

Work has begun. Wish me luck. This is a huge project for a for-fun home publisher like me…

 

Some first thoughts on 7th ed Call of Cthulhu

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What’s behind the door…?

Yesterday I was checking out Chaosium’s site for some info on the fate of the BRP rule set when I happened to notice that the kickstarter slipcase edition of CoC 7e is actually available directly from them.

I have been planning to get the core books and the screen from my trusty FLGS, but some quick math convinced me that the slipcase set was actually easilly the best value. In that kit, you get the Keeper’s and Investigator’s hardbacks as well as the Keeper’s screen, all enclosed in a pretty slipcase. Furthermore, Chaosium adds all the PDFs for those products as a bonus, further adding to the value.

As Chaosium has an EU shipping point in the UK, the shipping was ok and consequently I don’t have to pay import tax either.

So I ordered the set as a birthday gift to myself as I will get one year older next week 🙂 – [Yeah, rationalization, I know…]

This morning I have perused the PDFs of the books and I must say that I’m mostly positive. Pretty hardcover books (although some of the art is not-so-great). Some neat rules changes. Some unnecessary or unnecessarily complicated rule changes.

Some people have complained that the books have swelled out too much and that they´re too wordy, and I can understand that to a point, especially for veteran players and GMs. However, if I came to CoC 7e with no previous playing experience I think that 7e would be easier to grasp than the older editions. Maybe.

At the same time I feel a bit conflicted about the break between 6th ed (and previous) and 7th ed. I mean, the rules have been the same since my first CoC games back in 1987-88! And for me, that consistency has been one of the things that I really liked about CoC. This game was never about the rules, but about the adventures.

I started with a borrowed copy of the 1st or 2nd ed thin box (I remember there were no magic points back then, you used POW instead). When I had to return it I bought the Games Workshop 3rd ed hardcover which we used for a long time. Then, when 5th edition came out as a major rules revision I got that book instead and we used it for many adventures, among them the major part of Horror on the Orient Express. In my years as a non-playing “RPG voyeur” I bought the 5.6 edition just for reading and then when we started active playing again back in 2010, I got the 30th Anniversary 6th ed rulebook and the new gorgeous Keeper Screen because I wanted a sturdy hardback as my 5th ed book was starting to fall apart.

As much as I like the new shiny books (well, PDFs at least) I also feel a wee bit worried that the game might feel different from before. One example that I noticed today is that the benefit of choosing to play an older professor-type isn’t nearly as attractive as adding years to the character won’t result in as many bonus skill points as before.

We’ll see. The only way is to play. I will definetely give 7th ed a spin and even if we decide to stay with 6th ed, there will be things that I will cannibalize from 7th ed. Most probably, we’ll play some of both in the future.

And I will definitely come back with a little review in the future. Heavily biased of course 🙂

Some thoughts on the new Delta Green and CoC 7e

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Investigating…

After lunch today, I had some time over and decided to pay a visit to my favourite FLGS in town. They recently moved to new expanded premises and I wanted to check out the new store. And wow. There they were – the new shiny editions of my long time favourites Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green.

I have only seen these books in pictures, so it was nice to feel them physically and browse the contents. Very colorful, very shiny and very heavy full color hardcover books. Top quality, and very desirable. Sadly, they didn’t have the 7e Keeper book for CoC, but they did have the screens for both games.

Standing there in the shop, I almost whipped up my card to buy it all, despite having promised myself to buy fewer games and play more of the ones I have instead. The joy of finding such cool games, and in an actual shop – I mean, I haven’t bought an RPG book in shop since the early 2000s. However, I also got to think about some things and decided to write this blog post.

As a side observation, it seems that in last 5-8 years or so, the trend in the RPG publishing world is to publish fancy new editions of core rules. This is true for both the d20 (D&D) as well as the d100 (BRP) worlds. I mean, how many versions or variants of D&D exist at this time? Old school, new school, variant school…the list goes on.

And in the BRP world, the Mongoose RuneQuest (and Legend) SRDs have given rise to a plethora of very similar variants of the same game: OpenQuest, Legend, Renaissance, RuneQuest 6, Mythras and now Delta Green. So while Chaosium keep their original d100/BRP rules under tight check, the Mongoose SRD is open for others, thus opening up for new or variant game iterations using the d100 engine.

OK, now we move back to Call of Cthulhu…
I have followed the long creation and publication process of Call of Cthulhu 7e since it first was announced. And now when it’s here I’m on the fence about getting it. Why? Well, firstly I was utterly unimpressed with the free CoC 7e Quickstart rules as I felt much more connected to the older rules and also I didn’t feel that the changes were all that necessary. And don’t get me started on what they did to my beloved The Haunting… Another thing is that with my trusty old rules (I use a 5.6 rulebook for the players and a 30th Anniversary 6th ed rulebook for myself) we can in reality play in a wide range of settings using the same core rules:

  • 1920s
  • 1890s
  • Modern (Cthulhu Now)
  • Ancient times (Invictus)
  • Medieval (Dark Ages)
  • Modern conspiracy variant (Delta Green)
  • WW2 (Achtung!Cthulhu)

And that’s only the ones that I have on my shelf!

If I should move over to CoC 7e, there’s always that little conversion thing that isn’t very hard, but it’s there nevertheless. And it’s annoying. And I’m not going to buy the same books one more time – I did that with RuneQuest, which basically made me so annoyed that in the end, I decided to scrap the game altogether.

The new Delta Green rules make more sense for me however. The old rules were basically a thing to bolt onto the existing CoC rules, which are at their core and feel very 1920s Lovecraftian, and sometimes the CoC/DG concept felt less than optimal. The new rules seem slicker and more adapted to the setting. I also hope that the game master’s book (Case Officer’s Handbook) will update the DG setting to account for all the things that has happened in the real world since the first DG book was published back in 1997.

I guess I’ll buy both of these games eventually, but I also see some problems with this. I mean – I can play them both already, using the old CoC rules. As I see it now, I will probably mine CoC 7e for ideas to use in my 6e games. And maybe, I’ll play some dedicated 7e games further up the road, and…

*die roll*….failed SAN check… Bookathouggha the Magnificent just ordered his puny minion to buy books… Must resist, the other deity Wifeathoggua will be furious…

…who am I fooling here, really? I know where I’ll go today after work… *whips out credit card, drooling*…

(This post was written yesterday)

Player organization: The Wellcroft Foundation

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Scholarly studies of the occult…

In my CoC games the PCs have always been ordinary people who have accidentally stumbled upon evil and horror. For the coming MoN campaign however, I’ve decided to try to have a player organization going on in the background. I have used Prof. Wellcroft as a friendly NPC before along with jaded Private Eye Dan Zomb (both Mythos-savvy PCs from an old Shadows of Yog-Sothoth campaign).

A while back, inspired by Delta Green, I decided to sketch out a anti-Mythos organization for 1920s gaming and came up with the Wellcroft Foundation.

Here it is. Use if you like.


 

The Wellcroft Foundation (Ordo Venatores)

The Wellcroft Foundation was founded and is still headed by university professor Jonathon Wellcroft, heir to the Wellcroft fortune. Officially, the purpose is to support archaelogical and ethnographical research around the world and also to keep an archive of new archaelogical findings.

As a young scholar (before he aquired his wealth), Jonathon discovered the Mythos and investigated many weird cases of Mythos activity along with his trusty sidekick Daniel Zomb. Over time, the pair battled against human cults and their inhuman masters and gained both knowledge of the Mythos as well as an impressive collection of Mythos Tomes. With age, Wellcroft withdrew from active adventuring but continued his scholarly research on the Mythos as well as assisting newer colleagues in their investigations. When he became the sole inheritor of the family industrialist fortune, he founded the Wellcroft Foundation, the official purpose of which is to fund and support archaelogical research, especially in the far corners of the Earth. The real purpose however, is to uncover the Great Old Ones machinations and to combat them and their minions under the banner of Ordo Venatores (The Order of Hunters). The Order keep a network of national and international contacts and safe houses around the globe, and hidden under the Boston offices is a secret facility known only to mem- bers of the Order and a select few other trusted Mythos-fighters.

The organization is very secretive and seldom invite new recruits. Instead, they sponsor and help freelancer investigators in various ways, for example by providing contacts and know- ledge. This means that a lot of people working for the Order will never know about it. The Order has many collaborators working in law enforcement, higher education, media and other diverse areas

Wellcroft rarely leaves the Boston area. He is mainly responsible for leading the theoretical and research part and to build and keep the Mythos library. Daniel Zomb is head of the Field Operations branch, leading and recruiting new investigators into the Order. This is done through intermediary agents who may or may not be aware of the Order. In total, maybe 10–15 people are full members of the Order. The number of associated people are maybe 5–6 times as many.

Keeper advice
You can use this organization as a way replace mad or deceased investigators or you can use it as a possible source of knowledge for the investigators. Maybe one of them is associated with the Order of Hunters and able to provide that connection. The Order might provide knowledge, contacts, illegal heavy weapons and financial support as well as some limited legal support in cases on trouble with the law. And most importantly the Order can provide conatct with other investigators in cases of dire need. The Order also monitors suspect occult and Mythos-related events around the world and so they can turn up as an unsuspected ally if needed.

Link to PDF

Back in the Keeper of Arcane Secrets seat…

Call-of-Cthulhu-Investigation
1920s True Detectives from the upcoming French 7th ed Call of Cthulhu (see below)

A few years back I ran a separate Call of Cthulhu/d100 gaming blog called Liber Malum for about two years. I then decided to merge my then three blogs into one combined blog for all RPG systems and settings.

However, I’ve decided to keep a sepratate CoC blog again since (a) many D&D/OSR people aren’t interested in d100/CoC gaming and (b) vice versa.

To keep things unified I’ll repost this blog’s posts to my main RPG blog Nerd-O-Mancer of Dork.

The main purpose of this blog is to serve as a place to keep our game session recaps for my upcoming Masks of Nyarlahotep campaign with the Fistful of d20s crew, but also to share adventures and other home made CoC things for other CoC aficionados.

This will be a pure CoC blog, maybe with some occasional general BRP/d100 posts.

Cthulhu Fhtagn!


BTW, here’s a link to the pretty new French edition by Editions Sans-Détour