Review – Call of Cthulhu Table Top RPG

"A world full of Dead Gods, Shuggoths, beautiful broccoli women, Cultists and towns full weird fish people are waiting for you to join them"
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Hey everybody. It’s your old pal Fuzz. I’m here to tell you why Call of Cthulhu 7th edition is an essential addition to your table top horror RPG collection.

Most modern table top games are fairly utopian. Built for balance. Properly padded with thick layers of comfortable space age memory foam so you’ll never need to cry, or worry about your feelings being hurt. Nothing bad can really happen to your character, and if it does? Don’t worry, your healer can always bring you back from the dead or regenerate your lost spleen. Huzzah.

Thankfully, the newest edition of Call of Cthulhu, or CoC as I like to call it, is still as brutal and relentless as it ever was…maybe even moreso. So let us get the obvious out of the way first. Chaosium’s 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu is set in xenophobic mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. As a setting it’s dripping with paranoia because every move you make while playing the game can potentially be the very thing that leads to your characters grisly demise, or lifelong entombment in a filthy asylum for the mentally insane.

As Lovecraft himself said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Mankind’s greatest fear is fear of the unknown…” It’s the dot dot dot that really sells it as being scary. Ellipses are a horror writers best tool for instilling terror. Trust me.

The system mechanics don’t suffer from the modern trend of “streamlining”, or “dumbing it down” for a new generation. Yet, the game itself is simple to play. I’ve been able to teach complete rookies how to do it in under 10 minutes. Player agency is optimized while simultaneously leaving the GM ( or “Keeper” if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) firmly in control of the overall direction of story.

Speaking of story. It can be as episodic or epic as you like. The horror can be visceral or existential. The gore can be as moist as you can stand it. The creatures and cultists are wonderfully 1 note, maybe 2 if you push it. Stereotypes abound, so if you’re a sensitive soul you might want to put your comfortable fluffy onesie on and play some 5th edition D&D instead. Nothing can hurt you in that beautiful magical place. Call of Cthulhu does not give a f**k about your feelings though, so make appropriate adjustments accordingly.

The Keeper’s Screen comes with two wonderful scenarios to play, or just mine for good ideas. The Investigators Handbook and Keepers Handbook are both works of art, and worth having in your collection just because. There’s plenty of literature inside the books to read if you’re unfamiliar with Cosmic Horror or the work of H.P. Lovecraft himself. While the books themselves are HUGE and well worth reading every word on every page, you can skip most of it and get down to the nitty gritty of rules and limitations with no sweat involved whatsoever if that’s how you choose to live your life.

Character creation is simple and elegant, with just enough crunch to scratch that particular itch. You know the itch I’m talking about. The itch we do not speak of in polite society.

Building your own games is tragically easy and frankly, some of the most fun I’ve had developing story lines in my 30+ years of running RPG’s. There’s nothing…and I mean NOTHING wrong with shrugging, shaking your head and narrating “And suddenly, a Hellbeast roars out of a nearby haunted mirror and devours your husband, instantly making your life slightly more difficult.” Ultimate terror abounds my friends.

If you love horror, which if you’re here, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you do. If you love playing tabletop RPG’s with a hard edge to it, strategy, with brutal physical and psychological horror baked in for good measure…Chaosium’s 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu is the game for you.

A world full of Dead Gods, Shuggoths, beautiful broccoli women, Cultists and towns full weird fish people are waiting for you to join them.

It’s worth it, and so are you. Indulge yourself.

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