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Played It Review and Unboxing of the Call of Cthulhu Slipcase Set

The Call of Cthulhu RPG offers rules and a 1920s setting of cosmic mind-bending horror together in one package. In a similar way, the Call of Cthulhu Slipcase Set combines a book of comprehensive rules and monsters with a tome of detailed history and rounds it all out with a Keeper screen, maps, adventures, a reference booklet, and blank character sheets. A whole world of horror is described supported by all the rules needed to play.

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I’m going to admit I came to the RPG late. I’ve read Lovecraft for decades but most of my game groups like action more than investigation so I never gave CoC a go. With the switch to virtual gaming last year though I launched a campaign and started a short campaign. CoC is now one of those RPGs I simply want to have and want to play. You have 1920s, 1930s, Western , Dark Ages, and more all combined in one system of dangerous horror and realistic PCs.

Call of Cthulhu is roll under d100 with low hit points and dangerous combat. The Cthulhu monsters have to be dealt with through PC investigation and not a shoot out. However, I’m not going to delve much more into the rules as the Quickstart is free. I want to talk about value and setting completeness instead.

So why the slipcase? I know you can play with just the Keeper Rulebook, so why not save some dough and go cheap? Do you really need ten pounds of RPG?

Short answer is yes, of course ten pounds of RPG is exactly what I need. Long answer, well, I did go cheap, at first. I actually bought the softcover Keeper Rulebook to start and ran my short campaign with that.

And yet, that shiny slipcase called. I like a full campaign for an RPG with adventures and maps and all the rules and setting in one big bundle. That is how Free League gets me with their kickstarters. And the slipcase does have it all. Sometimes though, I just want the core rulebook to start and nothing else. Good news with CoC is you can go either way (or both in my case). Or mix and match.

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The Keeper Rulebook has all of the core rules for both PCs and Keepers. The Investigator Handbook has a small handful of optional rules and all the lore. So much lore. Everything you might want to know about the 1920s. Yes you can look this stuff up on the internet but I find having it all in one spot works much better for me.

You also get a screen and maps along with two adventures in a booklet, reference sheets, and blank character sheets. On the art side of the Keeper screen all the investigators are small and set against a large dark menacing background of nature. I like the tone it sets. The maps include the world with Mythos locations marked, Lovecraft country, and Arkham itself. I really like the breakdown from the large world view down to the settlement view.

And really, this is the slipcase in a nutshell. Sure you can have just the rules and you’re all set. But the slipcase fills out the world in a big way and it brings some focus through the maps. It grounds everything and ties it together. Call of Cthulhu becomes not just an RPG of cosmic horror but also a near Earth setting before the computers and cell phones and easy (if not exactly comfortable) travel of our modern world.

If you have never played Call of Cthulhu you might want to start with just the Keeper Rulebook (or maybe the Starter Set). My group had a ball roaming through haunted woods and going in the cabin they knew contained nothing but horror but we just can’t stop ourselves. But if you know the Basic Roleplaying rules you could jump in and just get the ten pound monster and have it all.

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One option with the Investigator Handbook is a limited information campaign. The players can only use the Handbook (and Quickstart if they really want the combat rules). No access to the Keeper Rulebook during the game. The monsters, tomes, spells, and other secrets stay firmly in the Keeper’s eldritch tentacles. The unknown tome the Keeper wields will add to the unknown and the horror.

The one drawback to the Slipcase Set for the Keeper is that investigator generation is duplicated in both books. While this makes a limited information campaign possible it also means the Keeper is paying for a few pages of duplicated rules. I don’t mind this and the page count is not high enough for me to count this as a negative.

I admit I started Call of Cthulhu slowly. But I see no reason not to jump into buying the Slipcase Set if you like d100 games and want the full package. All the rules, lore, maps, reference sheets, and adventures you need. I know my group had a great time even those that died horrible deaths and went stark raving mad. And at 12.99 a pound, the Call of Cthulhu Slipcase Set is cheaper by weight than t-bone steaks and it lasts a lot longer. Embrace the horror today.
 

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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody

Sketchpad

Explorer
I briefly played Call of Cthulhu back in the '80s and returned to the game with the current edition. Love the slipcase set, and some of the supplements that have come out since. I ran a trilogy of games every Halloween a few years back with the system, and my group really enjoyed the game. My only gripe is that I would love to see more "Cthulhu Now/Modern Cthulhu" books for the game. I'm looking into Delta Green, but would really like to have a good pool of books to draw from.

BTW, if interested in the Call of Cthulhu game, snag a copy of the Malleus Monstrorum, a bestiary of monsters and elder gods. ;)
 



Yeah, we really enjoyed the Haunting. I wanted to play this one early on since so many Keepers try out CoC with it. It did not disappoint. I upped the supernatural effects with slamming doors, dripping blood, and a moaning wind that ratcheted up the tension. A nice tight spooky location to run an investigation.
 

eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
I quite like everything new Chaosium has put out (post Krank) and the production values are excellent throughout all the releases. I didn't think we needed a 7th edition (I'm still not entirely convinced it wasn't mainly motivated by Krank needing more money to keep the doors open than anything else) but the removal of the resistance table and streamlining stats are all good things.
 

I quite like everything new Chaosium has put out (post Krank) and the production values are excellent throughout all the releases. I didn't think we needed a 7th edition (I'm still not entirely convinced it wasn't mainly motivated by Krank needing more money to keep the doors open than anything else) but the removal of the resistance table and streamlining stats are all good things.

What I like about 7th edition is the bonus/penalty die as well as Pulp Cthulhu and Down Darker Trails. While those books could have been done with earlier editions they weren't, so I'm glad to play 7th edition to have these options. And the adventures coming out continue to be great. I also like the color and modern layout quite a bit.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
I briefly played Call of Cthulhu back in the '80s and returned to the game with the current edition. Love the slipcase set, and some of the supplements that have come out since. I ran a trilogy of games every Halloween a few years back with the system, and my group really enjoyed the game. My only gripe is that I would love to see more "Cthulhu Now/Modern Cthulhu" books for the game. I'm looking into Delta Green, but would really like to have a good pool of books to draw from.

Delta Green is, imo, at least as good as traditional CoC, if not a little better. Its mechanic that uses Bonds (with friends/family) to help stave off insanity, at the cost of your connection to other people, is one of those forehead-slappingly great rules. And the way it deals with modern investigation, and tying the Mythos into UFOs and government conspiracy stuff is frankly amazing. Even if you don't wind up running it, I think the DG Handler's Guide is one of the best reads in gaming, with a truly awesome and super-detailed chronology running from Innsmouth to the present.
 

eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
Delta Green is, imo, at least as good as traditional CoC, if not a little better. Its mechanic that uses Bonds (with friends/family) to help stave off insanity, at the cost of your connection to other people, is one of those forehead-slappingly great rules. And the way it deals with modern investigation, and tying the Mythos into UFOs and government conspiracy stuff is frankly amazing. Even if you don't wind up running it, I think the DG Handler's Guide is one of the best reads in gaming, with a truly awesome and super-detailed chronology running from Innsmouth to the present.
New Deltra Green is really good. But it does hit different.

For me they can both exist as they each scratch different itches.

CoC for more classic mythos investigation stuff and DG for conspiracy tinged mythos and three letter alphabet agency porn.
 
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Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
New Deltra Green is really good. But it does hit different.

For me they can both exist as they each scratch different itches.

CoC for more classic mythos investigation stuff and DG for conspiracy tinged mythos and three letter alphabet agency porn.

Totally see that. I think DG appeals to my love of a good metaplot, and boy is theirs good. The fact that you have to worry about the unnatural but also Majestic and also maybe other elements in DG...it's just such a rich-yet-internally-consistent setting. Plus I used to get tense about parties in CoC that somewhat inexplicably include someone who fights real good (little use as that is). I like that in DG it just makes sense that most PCs can shoot things, and it's still not going to save them.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I think the comparison between DG and CoC is not just the obvious changes in premise, but also that DG has a ‘leaner’, or more concise set of rules, which puts more emphasis on relationships and their impact on mental trauma.

CoC 7E adds more bells and whistles in play (like bonus/penalty dice, Luck points, etc) but it also has some debris hanging over from multiple editions and playtesting. When players come to CoC from D&D, one of the common questions is why do they need the extra Characteristic scores’ - Size and Education. This is a convention of BRP, but Delta Green notably dropped them to a more familiar list of six scores. Likewise, the Delta Green skill list is pruned down a bit and there is no three tiered split (full/half/fifth) of skill scores which looks more straightforward on the character sheet. People can go round and round on their preferences for either approach - but the Delta Green system is efficacious to the desire of simulating a gritty, thriller experience. CoC7E has shifted a little more to an action/adventure motif through their rules.

The point mentioned in the review about duplication of character generation rules was because, in playtest, the original plan to spread the rules between Players and Keepers books was abandoned. Because of play testing outcry, it was decided that the Keeper’s Book had to have the ‘complete’ game in one book, as was traditionally the case in other editions.
 




i plan on running the haunting and paperchase although they are somewhat similar . what are other recommendations for one shot style adventures? scarier the better

I like Doors to Darkness. Servants of Darkness has a creepy zombie-esque vibe and centers around Gla’aki. It follows up nicely from Amidst the Ancient Trees (which nicely freaked out my players) which eyeheartark recommended which also involves Gla’aki. The book also has great Keeper advice. I talk more about CoC campaign building here.
 

eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
I like Doors to Darkness. Servants of Darkness has a creepy zombie-esque vibe and centers around Gla’aki. It follows up nicely from Amidst the Ancient Trees (which nicely freaked out my players) which eyeheartark recommended which also involves Gla’aki. The book also has great Keeper advice. I talk more about CoC campaign building here.
For us it was the other way around, Amidst the Ancient Trees after, but either way a nice little Gla'aki duology.

As they used to say in those 90s PSAs, DON'T COPY THAT GLA'AKI
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
i plan on running the haunting and paperchase although they are somewhat similar . what are other recommendations for one shot style adventures? scarier the better
There’s a wealth of good options. I’ll repeat a few and add my own. Gateways to Terror is three short intro one-shots, designed for cons. From that, The Necropolis is my favorite. Doors to Darkness has five one shots. None More Black and Darkness Beneath the Hill are really good. There’s also Dead Light. It’s nasty. Mansions of Madness, the old one, not the new one, has a great scenario...called Mansion of Madness. Some serious squick there. The Starter Set has Edge of Darkness, which I think is a great scenario. Especially if you use the zombies well. And bring Bertrand into it...zombie Bertrand cough cough. There’s Missed Dues from the Keeper Screen. The finale is rough. There’s also Cold Warning. Wendigos and a Great Old One...and its spawn. Some of those might take more than one session, but they’re all relatively short.
 

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