Posts Tagged With: Pulp Cthulhu

Insanity = New Backstory

So, in the new, 7E, rules for Call of Cthulhu, when an Investigator goes insane the Keeper is allowed to add or tweak existing Backstory entries save for their Key/Favored Connection which is “safe.” This is supposed to represent the world slowly spinning out of control for the Investigators and them having to increasingly question the reality that they knew once but have now had shaken considerably.

So last game session we had three characters go insane, two temporarily and one indefinitely (which is not nearly as bad as it used to be but is still pretty crippling). Let’s look at what I did with these three characters.

All of the characters went insane as a result of aftermath of a fight with what Ophelia later determined to be an “Opener of the Ways” after reading Walter Corbitt’s diaries. None were particularly bothered by the Opener itself, but seeing (or experiencing) what happened to Helen was evidently quite traumatic. I wanted to tie this to some off-screen character background/development that I have in mind for all of them if possible, and I think it went pretty well.

For Luigi, as an honorable man, I merely noted that Henry was now an Important Person because he saved Luigi’s life. There is a debt there now of a sort, and it gives Luigi a reason to keep working with the group when the initial mystery is resolved. Watching Helen almost die was a clear reminder of how dangerous things are, and how things could have gone if Henry hadn’t been there – as well as how effective Henry had been while he had been able to do little.

In Henry’s case, there is something much more mysterious. Looking at what happened to Helen (or almost happened), he is now unable to ignore the large Y-shaped scar that dominates and view of his uncovered chest. He is really unable to remember where it comes from, that’s how much he doesn’t like to think about it, but he guesses that it happened in France during the Great War.

For Helen, she would have likely died if she hadn’t spent all of her Luck in order to prevent this (ala the Pulp Cthulhu rules). With horrific wounds in her torso, the viscera and ichor of the Opener of the Ways covered her and mingled with her own blood and viscera. In her Encounters with Strange Entities the following entry was added – “The Opener of the Way, it killed me, but I passed through it, and it through me, and I did not die.”

Waking shortly after surviving she went indefinitely insane to the feeling of fraying from the inside out, and the party was forced to hold her down before she ripped open her out abdomen in order to reach inside her own body to hold herself together.

All in all, three quite well thought through effects on the various character’s backstory. None are crippling, and all lead to further questions or investigations.

TTFN!

D.

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Sanity Loss in a Pulp Game

One of the biggest threats, existential or otherwise, when playing Call of Cthulhu is the ever-present and slow draining away of Sanity. The lower it gets, the faster it goes. While the 7e rules have introduced some methods for alleviating this (Getting Used to the Awfulness and Mythos Hardening) I had always had a couple of tweaked methods for dropping Sanity loss a bit further but keeping “big things bad” while allowing those players who wanted to become sorcerers some additional buffer against the inevitable.

Keeping with the simplified skills listing of 7e, I’ve actually simplified this a great deal and I like it even more. It is based on three skills, one of which I use in conjunction with the Mystical Talents. So as follows:

  • Cthulhu Mythos or Unnatural: Divide the skill level by ten, round down, and apply this as a modifier to all Sanity loss. E.g. Cthulhu Mythos skill level of 34 becomes 3.4, rounded to 3, the character has a -3 to all Sanity losses.
  • Occult: Divide the skill level by twenty, round down, and apply this as a modifier to all Sanity loss. E.g. Occult skill level of 82 becomes 4.1, rounded to 4, the character has a -4 to all Sanity losses.
  • Meditation: Divide the skill level by thirty, round down, and apply this as a modifier to all Sanity loss. E.g. Meditation skill level of 69 becomes 2.3, rounded to 2, the character has a -2 to all Sanity losses.

A character with all of those skills would have a -9 to all Sanity losses, meaning that they could interact with most minor Mythos creatures and toss off a great many of the spells with no effect. That said, they still have the potential lose Sanity from the greater threats, and in an interesting statistical twist are (when they do lose Sanity from those threats) are actually a little bit more likely to go temporarily insane as a result.

The Meditation skill is basically combination of “mental fortitude” skill as well as what I tend to use as a “psychic powers” skill use skill. In the Old Delta Green supplement Countdown the psychic powers were all individual skills for the most part, I actually like the Pulp Cthulhu version of them as abilities instead. It is less mess in the skill section of the character sheet and allows me as the Keeper to play more fast and lose with how much any use will cost or how it works.

Clearly this sort of rule doesn’t for everyone or for all sorts of campaigns, but I’ve found that it really isn’t that unbalancing and does a good job of allowing people to play the sorts of characters that they are trying to.

TTFN!

D.

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Revised Pulp Cthulhu Talents and Traits

So, I had mentioned that I was not entirely sure about how Pulp Cthulhu handled Talents and Traits. While some of them were ok, some of them weren’t – most often because they seemed very dedicated to limiting the power of the PC’s (which, honestly, seems pointless in Call of Cthuhu for obvious reasons). In any case I took the list, reorganized it some, and reworked it, adding a selection of things from my previous Pulp homebrew. I also ncluded the effects of both Wartime Service and Medical Career (Detached), Criminal History (Callous), and Mythos Hardened (Hardened) as Mental Traits.

I’m sure I’ll think of others over time and add them, but here’s the start, and it’s what I’ve used with the current characters in the game.

Physical Talents and Traits:

  • Herculean – The character has a Bonus die for Strength tests.
  • Agile – The character has a Bonus die for Dex tests.
  • Eagle-Eyed – The character has a Bonus die for Spot Hidden tests.
  • Quick Healer – The characters Natural Healing in increased to +3 Hit Points per day.
  • Sneaky – Character gains a Bonus die for Stealth tests. They are also able to make two attacks when Hidden rather than one.
  • Night Vision – The character has reduces the difficulty level of Spot Hidden rolls in darkness and ignore penalty die for shooting in the dark.
  • Huge – The Character’s build is considered 1 greater for purposes of combat.
  • Hollow Leg – It takes triple the normal amount of alcohol or drugs to affect the character. They also gain a Bonus die to resist any effects.
  • Ambidextrous – Character has no penalties for two weapons.
  • Resilient – The character has a Bonus die for all Constitution tests
  • Survivor – The character Stabilizes on their own with no need for First Aid or Medicine.
  • Nimble – The character does not lose next action when “diving for cover” versus firearms and ignores differences in Build during Hand-to-Hand and Melee combat. They are never suffer from penalties when Outnumbered.
  • Greased Lightning – The character has a +50 Initiative and +1 Move bonus
  • Resilient – The character has a Bonus die for all Constitution tests

Mental Talents and Traits:

  • Genius – Character has a Bonus die for Science tests.
  • Linguist – The character has is always able to determine what human language is being spoken (or what is written); gains a Bonus die to Language tests.
  • Alert – The character has a bonus die on all Surprise tests.
  • Detached – No San loss from dead bodies or gross injury.
  • Callous – No San loss from killing or combat.
  • Hardened – Half San loss from exposure to the Unnatural
  • Photographic Memory – can remember many details; gains a bonus die when making Know rolls.
  • Speed Reader – Halve the time needed for both Initial and Full Reading of Mythos tomes and other books.
  • Handy – The character has a Bonus die for Mechanical Repair, Electrical Repair, and Operate Heavy Machinery tests

Combat Talents and Traits:

  • Dead-eye – Character has a Bonus die for Firearms & Throwing combat.
  • Gladiator – Character has a Bonus die for Fighting (Other) combat.
  • Brawler – Character has a Bonus die for Fighting (Brawl) combat.
  • Berserker – The character gains the Berserker skill which is checked simultaneously with other Combat skills. If successful, the character has double the normal effect as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Martial Arts – The character gains the Martial Arts skill which is checked simultaneously with other Combat skills. If successful, the character has double the normal effect as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Gunfighter – Does not need to have Firearm readied to gain the +50 DEX to Initiative, ignores penalty die for loading and firing in the same turn, and ignores penalty die for multiple shots per turn.
  • Sharpshooter – Does not suffer penalty die when for Small Targets or Cover/Concealment and may fire into combat without a penalty die.

Social Talents and Traits:

  • Caesar – Character has a Bonus die for tests involving leadership, morale, and similar situations.
  • Grifter – The character has a Bonus die with Charm, Fast-Talk, & Persuade rolls
  • Intimidating – The character has a Bonus die for Intimidation tests.
  • Empathic – The character has a Bonus die for Psychology, Psychoanalysis, and Anthropology tests.
  • Thespian – The character has a Bonus die for Acting and Disguise tests.

Mystical Talents and Traits:

  • Old Soul – The character has a Bonus die for all Pow tests, as well as History and Archeology tests.
  • Immortal – The character does not die as normal, will suffer an Injury/Scar and possibly other characteristic or skill loss depending upon circumstances.
  • Promethean – The character takes minimum damage from physical attacks, and is either immune or highly resistant to most poisons and diseases.
  • Iron-Willed – Character gains a Bonus die on all tests related to Insanity.
  • Resourceful – The character has always seems to have what they need at hand. They may spend 10 Luck points for any item within their daily spending limit.
  • Lucky – The character regains an additional +1D10 Luck points when Luck Recovery rolls are made.
  • True Faith – The character gains the True Faith skill which can be checked to allow immunity or resistance to Sanity loss, as well as be used o perform miracles in the same way that the Cthuhu Mythos skill can be used to perform magical acts.
  • Gnosis – The character gains the Gnosis skill which is checked simultaneously with other mental and social (non-magical) skills. If successful, the character has double the normal effect as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Prana – The character gains the Prana skill which is checked simultaneously with other physical (non-combat) skills. If successful, the character has double the normal effect as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • True Will – The character gains the True Will skill which can be checked to allow minor manipulations of reality – bending bullets, landing in haystacks, etc. at a cost in Magic Points as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Medium – The character may spend Magic Points to see, summon, and otherwise interact with the spirits of the dead as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Telekinetic – The character may spend Magic Points to move objects through space by sheer force of will alone as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Telepathic – The character may spend Magic Points to communicate by thought or emotion alone, as well as read the thoughts or emotions of others as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Oracle – The character may spend Magic Points to predict the future, see into the past, or otherwise understand the connection between events as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Seer – The character may spend Magic Points to extend their physical senses beyond their body as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Second Sight – The character may spend Magic Points to see spirits, magical auras, and the like as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Dreamer – The Character has the Dreaming skill, and access to the Dreamlands.
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What’s happening!?!

So, we are on a bit of a break from the D&D 5e Siyahchal Campaign, the characters have liberated the town of Diamond Lake from it’s corrupt mayor and the worst of the mine owners as part of the process of dealing with the Cult of the Ebon Triad. Devin has been installed as a Baronet with responsibility for the town and much of the surrounding area. We’ll pick things up again in a couple of months “real-time” and a year or two “game time” when the stars shift again, threatening an Age of Worms…

In the meantime we are playing Call of Cthulhu 7e, and Pulp Cthulhu at that. One player is taking a break (Cthulhu really not being her thing) but everyone else jumped at the idea of this system. I’m setting the game in Chicago, starting it in 1920, and continuing on somewhat from where I left the small campaign set in wartime Paris that I was playing with MR and KT. I’ve combined the classic Haunting scenario and the more recent Edge of Darkness scenario into one larger, interlinked narrative.

We’ve played one session and everyone seemed to have fun, I’ll do what I can to keep people abreast with what is happening. You can follow thin links above and see what characters people have, and while I have modified the traits for Pulp Cthulhu somewhat (and I’ll post my changes here in the next week or so), the “double hit points” and extra rules for luck makes a good start to a more survivable game.

TTFN!

D.

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