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Focus on the Frightful: Beginning a Call of Cthulhu RPG

You’re at the table, the lights are as dim as they can go. Everyone’s comfortable and quiet. You start to talk, setting the scene, bringing your players to the story. Unfolding the story to your players. Hopefully, they are entranced and feel alive in your world that you’re creating.

Session Zero

Recently we’ve decided to give another try at the Call of Cthulhu RPG. I’ve reviewed Lamp’s Light – a Victorian Horror mod for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Which I can’t wait to fully try. But, back to the Call of Cthulhu RPG. It still boggles my little Gracie mind that a person with such trash opinions could create a beautiful sandbox world for people to play in. From books to movies to video games and an RPG, the Mythos is ripe for such stories.

I’ve always wanted to try an RPG but could never really find anyone in my area to play with. I didn’t even know a Cthulhu one existed back then. I was more drawn to the Cthulhu RPG because I was very intrigued by doing a horror-themed one. I know you can run smaller horror scenarios within the Dungeons & Dragons world. But, I have to admit, Dungeons & Dragons is a bit intimidating. It has such thick lore that I found it a bit off-putting. I do still want to try a shot at it in the future but for now, Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium.

I find it a bit less intimidating as I know this world. I know the creatures involved and I know generally how the world works, in general. In short, if I run into a wall and have to wing it I’m pretty sure I can bluff my way out with my players being none-the-wiser. Hopefully. I guess we’ll find out.

I have run two games at this point. One of which I totally winged and it was a mess. A fun mess but a mess nonetheless. The second was a mod that came with the book which went… slightly better. I will always love it for the birth of The Immortal Tent Spike of Doom. A plain, little tent stake that, through a series of disastrous rolls inflicted so much damage it was mind-boggling.

We cooled off on it for awhile. Not really out of disinterest but it was so hard with my son beginning work and his girlfriend only being able to sporadically come over it was just too hard to get a good game going. But. Now that she lives here with us, it’s winter and we’re still in semi-lockdown – it’s go time again.

My biggest worry is that I won’t be able to make it scary enough. I know I can’t terrify them (and I don’t think I’d really want to) but I want to at least be good enough to bring the world to life. To make them afraid to go inspect that abandoned house. That when they get to the final boss they’ll feel intimidated.

A Deep One from the Keeper’s Rulebook

I do feel like it will be a little easier going with a mod that the game people made for its players to use. I’m also a little nervous about being able to bring the NPCs to life in a vivid way. One thing I have found is that to DM (or be a Keeper or GM), especially face to face, you need to either have a lot of natural confidence or at the very least be able to bluff that you do. Hopefully, I can at least bluff it ’til I feel it.

This will be the start of a series in which I recap our various adventures with the rpg. There will be regular Focus on the Frightful posts, as well, but I thought it might be fun to keep a journal of sorts. A record of my DM successes and failures (mostly failures to be honest) and what happens at the table. I so rarely see Call of Cthulhu campaigns talked about very much. Which is no shade at there being so much DnD. It’s the more popular system. But what draws me o Call of Cthulhu is that the characters are human. And humans are very squishy. I also kind of love the idea that just making it out of the scenario with your character still alive and with their sanity intact is winning the game, so to speak.

I hope you’ll join me. I have a feeling it’s going to be a wild ride being that at one of our last sessions the Tent Spike was born and my dad stabbed himself in the leg in real life. On purpose. If you’re curious as to how that happened let me know below!

And, oh yes, the Immortal Tent Spike of Doom will be there.

Published inFocus on the Frightful

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┬ęSci-Fi & Scary 2019
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