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Call of Cthulhu d20!

jaerdaph

#BlackLivesMatter
Committed Hero said:
What irks me the most about Chaosium's claim to a license is that it contradicts Lovecraft's collaborative vision.

I don't think Chaosium claims to be under a license anymore to use Lovecraft's work, and when they did, it wasn't their fault. I recall reading that in the beginning they paid a license fee to Arkham House for using Lovecraft's work, but a lawyer pointed out to them that Lovecraft's work was already in the public domain and they stopped paying it. I assume they still have to pay licensing fees to living authors like Block, Cambell and Lumley whose works are presumably still under copyright. I also assume there are works by other Mythos writers that were contemporaries of Lovecraft that also fall in the public domain now too. So if anything, Arkham House was the impediment to Lovecraft's collaborative vision, not Chaosium.

Call of Cthulhu is, however, a registered trademark of Chaosium when used in conjunction with "rules book and supplements for playing a fantasy roleplaying game" as per the listing with the US Patent and Trademark office. But there's nothing to stop someone from creating a new Lovecraft inspired roleplaying game with a different name. I'd love to see someone pick up the d20 ball that Chaosium dropped.

Some interesting "legal tests" I'd like to see: Including the complete text of Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" in a new Lovecraftian RPG work, as well as including the sanity rules found in Unearthed Arcana.

But then again I like to stir up trouble like Wilbur Whately in a library. :)

If anyone does take on a project like this, I'd like to see character creation more in line with Inspector Legrasse and Professor Henry Armitage - you know, the heroes of the Mythos who didn't go insane and/or die that CoC BRP fans seemed to forget all about when they were criticizing d20 CoC for not being truly Lovecraftian.
 

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Committed Hero

Explorer
jaerdaph said:
I don't think Chaosium claims to be under a license anymore to use Lovecraft's work, and when they did, it wasn't their fault. I recall reading that in the beginning they paid a license fee to Arkham House for using Lovecraft's work, but a lawyer pointed out to them that Lovecraft's work was already in the public domain and they stopped paying it. I assume they still have to pay licensing fees to living authors like Block, Cambell and Lumley whose works are presumably still under copyright. I also assume there are works by other Mythos writers that were contemporaries of Lovecraft that also fall in the public domain now too. So if anything, Arkham House was the impediment to Lovecraft's collaborative vision, not Chaosium.

I was referring to the fees Chaosium charges for games to be licensed for use with CoC. From what other publishers have hinted, it is in the neighborhood of $1k per product. This is one of the reasons that the Delta Green book was classified as a reprint IIRC.

Some interesting "legal tests" I'd like to see: Including the complete text of Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" in a new Lovecraftian RPG work, as well as including the sanity rules found in Unearthed Arcana.

I think all the main rulebooks Chaosium released have it as the intro! The Sanity rules are open, too; that's not much of a test IMHO. Plus, you could make a better version pretty easily.
 

Urizen

First Post
I agree with Gareth. A good Lovecraftian supplement shouldn't be_just_a "monster manual." It should provide solid guidelines for evoking the classic horror of H.P Lovecraft's works.

Now that said, new beasties are always fun. But a supplement which includes them should probably focus on examining motivations (if any) and infuences on the world, providing game masters the latitude they need to keep the creatures where they belong: in the dark.

I think Character creation guidelines, rules for research, and sanity rules are also important to the flavor of the game, as are things like cults, ancient relics and locations.
 

jaerdaph

#BlackLivesMatter
Committed Hero said:
I was referring to the fees Chaosium charges for games to be licensed for use with CoC. From what other publishers have hinted, it is in the neighborhood of $1k per product. This is one of the reasons that the Delta Green book was classified as a reprint IIRC.

Ah, gotcha. Sorry about that. Still, I think the licensing fee is primarily for use of the BRP rules and claiming compatibility with the CoC RPG trademark, and possibly the use of Chaosium's trademarked CoC logo as well.

Committed Hero said:
I think all the main rulebooks Chaosium released have it as the intro! The Sanity rules are open, too; that's not much of a test IMHO. Plus, you could make a better version pretty easily.

Yeah, that's true. But it would still be interesting to see another competing Lovecraftian RPG using the OGC sanity rules. :)
 

Stormborn

Explorer
Personally, my favorite takes on the Mythos in RPGS are of one of two extremes. One is historic role play with minor mythos elements, where PCs do not deal with the Big Names, but might run across ancient cults/artifacts and the occasional rare mythos monster or race. FBI team investigating a string of disapperances in Lousiana uncovers a "Cult of the Mother and the Father" connected to Deep Ones living in the swamps near New Orleans and backing Huey Long's Presidential bid sorta thing. Or I want it over the top, way over the top. A slight twist on the JLA v. Starro to make it a little more bizzare, a litte more Lovecraftian. But then I have a pretty bizzare hybrid in development with Highmoon that I sware came to me in a dream. Thats being expanded and adapted to be a little more systemless but should prove just how over the top I can take things :)

Would be interested in doing something more in line with the former extreme than the latter. And of course could run a Imperial Age game along those lines easilly with the rules in IA Magick and Engines for bizzare spells and alien tech.
 

JPL

Adventurer
Hey, I still have a copy of CoC d20 in excellent condition I'd sell for about $50, if anyone's interested.

Baby needs a new pair of shoes. Seriously.
 

AscentStudios

First Post
talien said:
To point to specific products that clearly challenge the whole "you can't use Cthulhu in RPGs", there's CthulhuTech: http://www.cthulhutech.com and Fragile Minds for Spycraft: http://enworld.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=50801.

I should point out that it took oh, under 24 hours or so for someone to post to Yog-Sothoth that Spycraft "stole" the Cthulhu intellectual property from Chaosium somehow: http://www.yog-sothoth.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=116325

Thanks for that post, Talien. Interesting to see we caused controversy without any attempt. But we didn't steal anything that Chaosium also didn't steal - the Mythos has been intentionally open from the very beginning ;) (and for those of you interested in seeing how Fragile Minds has been working out for The Auld Grump, check out his story hour posts here).
 

Voadam

Legend
GMSkarka said:
Very true -- in fact, Lovecraft himself didn't use any "Mythos" -- he dropped occasional references to earlier works into his stories, but that was just for a sense of verisimilitude, not any attempt to create a cohesive pantheon (which, truthfully, is pretty much counter to the whole 'chaotic meaninglessness' which was his theme -- how do you have random embodiments of blind cosmic whim, but organized into a structure? Duh.)

The whole "Mythos" thing (even the term) was an invention of August Derleth's, after Lovecraft's death.

Were Adamant to revisit our "LOVECRAFT D20" idea, we'd give some example entities and such from Lovecraft's stories (and ONLY Lovecraft's) -- but would devote a fairly large chunk of the book to what "Lovecraftian horror" really means, and guides for coming up with your own thematically-true elements.

After all, Lovecraft himself said "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."

How can you fear the unknown if it's layed out for you in a "monster manual"? A player in a Lovecraftian game should expect to be encountering things that they've never heard of, which creep them the hell out. That's the whole point.

Most of my players are ignorant of the Mythos stuff and it will be all new to them. As a DM I want it to be known to me so I can present it to them and have a solid background for what their investigations uncover.

Speaking as a consumer of d20 products with an interest in Cthulhuish stuff, I'd love for a publisher to do a CoC d20 monster manual/pantheon style book. Those are things I can plug directly into my games and the types of subjects I enjoy reading about.

I already have enough books on how to do horror and Cthulhu themes in general (CoC, GURPS Horror, GURPS Cthulhpunk, Ravenloft, Darkness & Dread, etc.). As a DM and RPG product consumer I want books whose evocative material I can directly apply (cults, monsters, gods) and integrate into my dark supernatural D&D games.

I use a lot of dark elements from disparate sources in my D&D games and I'd love to add more Cthulhu style stuff from a d20 source.

More things like Cults of Freeport and Book of Fiends and not as much "Here's advice on Lovecraftian mood gaming styles and mechanics for insanity and the '20s".

Modules as well. Cthulhu style investigations of dark things in a D&D module would be great.
 

Stormborn

Explorer
Urizen said:
Since the truth of the universe is unknowable, I don't see why new "Cthuthonic" entities couldn't begin to take notice of the human race and begin to extert their own influences upon the people of this world.

Maybe they were always there, reflected in various long dead cultures such as those of Sumeria, or Akadia. beings like Lilith or Gilgamesh might be interesting to explore in a Cthulhu-inspired book.

Then there's William Blake and the tale of a demon called Urizen and the Book of Thel.

It could be alot of fun.

This idea has been burrowing around in the back of my brain like some kind of parasite. I think Enki would be a great Chtonic entity.

Picture small communities of isolated inbred (Enki is known for his incestuous relationships) cultists, drunk out of their minds on sacramental home made beer (Enki is the god of beer), gathered around an ancient vacuum tube radio tuned to nothing from which pores forth glossolalia (Enki is the confuser of languages) that sends them into ecstatic fits. Their leader, a patriarchal figure who is 'husband' to almost all the women there (including his own daughters), does nothing the hide the small fish-like scales that grow upon his back and upper arms (Enki is depicted as being covered in fish scales) as he leads new 'converts' to a natural spring (the home of Enki is the waters in the depths of the earth) for baptism in the great name of "Inky". When outsiders trespass, or one of his flock goes astray, he calls forth the Gallas - deformed androgynous offspring of the community considered to be blessed by Enki (the galla demons were said to be sexless servants created from the dirt under Enki's fingernails)- or curses them with words of power and wisdom granted him by the great lord Inky.

It could do for Appalachian/Ozark Hillbillies what Dagon did for isolated New England fishing towns.
 
Last edited:

Urizen

First Post
Stormborn said:
This idea has been burrowing around in the back of my brain like some kind of parasite. I think Enki would be a great Chtonic entity.

Picture small communities of isolated inbred (Enki is known for his incestuous relationships) cultists, drunk out of their minds on sacramental home made beer (Enki is the god of beer), gathered around an ancient vacuum tube radio tuned to nothing from which pores forth glossolalia (Enki is the confuser of languages) that sends them into ecstatic fits. Their leader, a patriarchal figure who is 'husband' to almost all the women there (including his own daughters), does nothing the hide the small fish-like scales that grow upon his back and upper arms (Enki is depicted as being covered in fish scales) as he leads new 'converts' to a natural spring (the home of Enki is the waters in the depths of the earth) for baptism in the great name of "Inky". When outsiders trespass, or one of his flock goes astray, he calls forth the Gallas - deformed androgynous offspring of the community considered to be blessed by Enki (the galla demons were said to be sexless servants created from the dirt under Enki's fingernails)- or curses them with words of power and wisdom granted him by the great lord Inky.

It could do for Appalachian/Ozark Hillbillies what Dagon did for isolated New England fishing towns.

That's awesome!
 


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