Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition
Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!
Product- Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition
System-Call of Cthulhu
Price- $30.00 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/150997/Call-of-Cthulhu-7th-Edition--Keepers-Rulebook?affiliate_id=658618
TL; DR-Great RPG with an ok execution. 85%
Basics- ia ia cthulhu fhtagn! Call of Cthulhu is back with the newest edition of the classic horror RPG. It’s got a new update, a new hardcover, and a new look. Let's see How it stacks up to the current stack of other RPGS!
Mechanics or Crunch-Let’s break this one down into a few different areas.
Base Mechanics- This is a classic percentile dice based game. Much like any other RPG, when you are told you need to roll the dice, you roll percentile dice (d100). The goal is to roll under your skill or ability. An example would be trying to read an ancient Egyptian manuscript. You would see if you have the skill Language(Ancient Egyptian). If you do, you can roll your d100. If you roll under, you roll succeed. It’s quick and simple.
Additions that are new to the system (or at least to me)-CoC 7th edition my first edition of Call of Cthulhu . What this system does instead of modifying your percentage in a skill or ability like other systems is the use of ½ and ⅕ skills. If the test is difficult, you may be asked to roll under ½ your skill. If the task is amazingly difficult, then you have to roll under ⅕. Again, it's a quick and easy way of executing difficulty .
Pushing- Let’s say you fail, but you want to try again. You want to steal a wallet. You fail once, but you think you could do it again. This is called a push. When you push, you get to reroll a skill. Failing to steal the wallet is bad as you might get caught. BUT, if you push, you might get the wallet and not get caught. HOWEVER, if you push and fail, then it get really bad. Maybe instead of pushing you off as a harmless carpetbagger, the target of the theft calls the cops and starts swinging immediately instead of just yelling loudly. It’s a great addition to the risk and reward of Call of Cthulhu. Also note-you may never push in combat. Speaking of which….
Combat-Combat is quick. There is no initiative. You have an statistic called dexterity (dex). Combat resolves from high to low dex. Each turn you can move a bit and then do one action. Just like the base mechanic it’s roll under. If I want to attack, I roll under an attack skill, and the target tries to roll under a dodge or counter attack skill. If we both succeed , then we look if both are under ½. If that happens, we check to see if we’re under ⅕. If that happens, the defender wins. Each character only has a few hit points and damage adds up quickly, so combat is deadly fast! I love quick and efficient systems.
Bonus and Penalty Dice- Many other percentile based systems have modifiers you add or subtract from a skill. Call of Cthulhu 7ed doesn't do this, but It uses something similar to DnD 5th edition advantage system with bonus and penalty dice. When a situation is particularly good like doing research on ancient Egyptian mythology in at the University of Cairo’s Egyptology department library, you would get an extra d10 die. You roll this die along with your other percentile die and use the lower of the 10 position dice. Penalty dice work exactly the opposite. Say you are trying to decipher a deep one script while riding across the countryside in the dark avoiding horrors from beyond time and space, you get an extra d10 die. Now, you get the higher of the two dice as you have a harder time doing the skill. Of all the things I’ve seen develop in the RPG world lately, this is one of my favorites.
Money-Here is a weird one. Characters don’t have cash, per se, they have a credit rating. This is a rough estimate of how much they can spend at any given time. You walk into a shop and want to buy something and it’s under your credit rating expenses in a day, you just get it. If it's massively above your credit rating, then you might lose some credit rating at the end of the adventure!
Advancement-Every session, a character marks all the skills they use and succeed at. At the end of every session, the character makes single attempt to roll over their current skill in that task. If they do, then they gain 1d10 extra points in that skill. In addition, characters can also attend school and do a test over their skills and advance much the same as above.
Sanity-It wouldn’t be Lovecraft without someone going mad! When you see something scary or learn a spell, you make a sanity roll. Sanity is like any other skill that you roll under. If you roll under, you lose less sanity. If you roll above, you lose more. Both events make it harder to deal with in the future! Lose all your sanity and you go insane!
Magic-Magic exists, but it comes with a cost. Spells use skills like any other action, and each spell uses magic points. When you run out of magic points, you start to lose hit points. To cast a roll, a character has to succeed at a ⅕ power roll. From then on, the character doesn’t have to make a check to cast the spell. Again, it’s a sleek and easy system.
Summary- Overall, I like what I see here. It’s sleek, easy to run, and more important, easy to play. Players are not buried under a mountain of information at the start of the game. You want to do X. If X could fail, then you roll. If you do fail maybe you can push and succeed or things get really hairy. Call of Cthulhu has an advantage-like system that makes life easy instead of having to fiddle with different modifiers. Money is easy to handle, and advancement is a snap. I like what I see here. My only issue is diversity and options. You really only advance in things you succeed at. If I want to learn to speak Aramaic, I have to know it at the start of the campaign. I don’t freely learn that unless I train which might not happen. My second problem is character options. Sure there are lots of cool options, but beyond character generation, character are more flung into situation and can’t really build in a direction. It feels a bit swingy to me, but that also enhances the helpless feeling from Lovecraft. These are minor complaints, but overall, it's a good system. 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff-The theme of this game is on point. This is the 7th edition of the game, so they know how to make a good story with Lovecraftian themes. In general, you CAN’T hack and shoot your way out of a confrontation with the horrors beyond time. The book has lots of help to get new investigators into the game quickly and efficiently. There are even two fully fleshed out adventures that the keeper(GM for this game) can throw at the players to get them playing the day you get the book. 4.75/5
Execution-This is the one area where I have some significant problems. Things are written relatively well, and the art is good. But, the layout of the book is a problem. The PDF is hyperlinked, but finding what you need is still a pain. The book has over over 300 pages, and I still have problems every time trying to find the credit rating table to figure out how much my players can spend at any given time. That is a significant problem! 3.5/5
Summary-This is a great system that the layout of the book hurts a bit. I love the way the system works in general, but wish that it had just a bit more options for the players during the game. The theme is on point, and I love what here. My major problem is the book's design. I can’t find what I need when I need it. I will admit, that might be a problem from me not having much experience, but if a new keeper is having problems, then that’s bad no matter what. However, if you can push through some problems with using the book, you can easily fall in love with this horror RPG. 85%