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Shoot Mi-Gos Right in the Convoluted Ellipsoid in Pulp Cthulhu

Pulp Cthulhu (Pulp Cthulhu print), while being completely optional, is one of the main reasons I enjoy Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition so much. You play a hero instead of an investigator, you live a bit longer, and you have a bit more talent. Not that you always want to be a hero but having the option to play either one greatly increases the options for the game. And you can shoot a Mi-Go right in the convoluted ellipsoid and maybe live to tell about it. And if you use the optional alcohol rules you might even reduce any Sanity loss from the fight.

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Pulp Cthulhu layers rules on top of Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition. You can use as much or as little as you want to get exactly the campaign you want if you want to tweak the base rules. Options include more ways to spend Luck, extra hit points, better starting characteristics, Pulp Talents, psychic skills, and weird science. And Masks of Nyarlathotep and Down Darker Trails include Pulp as an option for play right in the included rules text and with the pre-generated PCs.

There are forty Pulp Talents in the game, ten each in physical, mental, combat, and miscellaneous. You might take Rapid Fire to shot that Mi-Go with two pistols and then shrug off some damage using Tough Guy when its fungoid buddy shoots you back with its electric gun. The Talents aren’t complicated (except Psychic and Weird Science are a bit more involved) so the game does not become bogged down. Most Talents are one sentence long.

The Psychic Talent nets you one psychic skill from the list of: clairvoyance, divination, medium, psychometry, and telekinesis. Weird Science allows you to build gadgets using normal skills. Gadget examples include death ray, portable telephony device (weighs 20 pounds), and a jet pack.

So the rules are enhanced, how about the world? The setting default becomes the 1930s. An entire chapter details pulp organizations from the era like Department 29 so heroes can be Feds kicking in doors and plugging cultists. Also covers evil cabals like the Gray Tigers, big game hunters who hunt anything truly dangerous, even other men. Plus, dinosaurs (read below for more).

The Keeper gets an entire chapter dedicated to running pulp games. Plots and themes are covered, scenario hooks and a MacGuffin generator are included, and the Keeper is given lots of ideas to up the action. Another chapter covers the world of the 1930s. The Great Depression hits and everything goes to hell. Near the end of 1929, Black Thursday ushers in the beginning of the crash. The 30s include an assassination attempt on President Roosevelt, Hitler’s rise to power, and ends with the beginning of World War II and Einstein considering how to build an atomic bomb. Prohibition is repealed in 1933 while at the same time the Federal government increases in power. Crime skyrocketed. Heroes really were needed.

The Keeper also gets another chapter of pulp villains. Silas Caravaggio is a world-wide criminal kingpin. The Goop is half-man, half-Shoggoth, all monster. His description is whoever he feels like (usually his last victim who he engulfed and consumed). The Grave Robber is a serial killer with the Resurrection spell and an unknown (but without a doubt) horrible agenda. He carries his mentor around as essential salts in a tin in his pocket. Keepers also get a t-rex, velociraptor, and killer robot to unleash. Four scenarios round out the book to get everything kicked off including maps, stats, and a fistful of player handouts.

Pulp Cthulhu is a hoot. PCs get amazing Talents, more hit points, and a wider stretch of Luck. But the villains get a boost too and as weird as Mythos monsters are, some of the supervillains are pretty darned strange also. There is an alcohol table. Plus, the Keeper gets stats on two of the greatest RPG dinosaurs to use. To me, this is an essential Basic Roleplaying RPG set of rules. Get this book and punch the Mythos right in its tentacled face.
 
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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody










TrippyHippy

Adventurer
Okay. This review is about Pulp so you likely won't be interested. Lots more stuff for Classic is out there and I covered that option here: CoC slipcase
I think what payn is trying to get at is that about 95% of RPGs cater for heroic action already. It's the norm, not the exception. What made Call of Cthulhu traditionally stand out, in a paradigmatic sense, was that you were largely playing ordinary people fighting against overwhelming odds. It’s one of the aspects that makes it a horror game.

While I have nothing against the Pulp rules, and have used them when we last ran Masks of Nyarlathotep (for about 2 years), it does alter the game play significantly. This is particularly true of the Luck rules, which becomes something of an Uber-Stat in the game. The other related criticism is that, because the pulp style is actually prevalent in gaming, other game systems such as Savage Worlds, Fate, HERO, etc, are just better suited towards this mode of play.
 

I think what payn is trying to get at is that about 95% of RPGs cater for heroic action already. It's the norm, not the exception. What made Call of Cthulhu traditionally stand out, in a paradigmatic sense, was that you were largely playing ordinary people fighting against overwhelming odds. It’s one of the aspects that makes it a horror game.

While I have nothing against the Pulp rules, and have used them when we last ran Masks of Nyarlathotep (for about 2 years), it does alter the game play significantly. This is particularly true of the Luck rules, which becomes something of an Uber-Stat in the game. The other related criticism is that, because the pulp style is actually prevalent in gaming, other game systems such as Savage Worlds, Fate, HERO, etc, are just better suited towards this mode of play.

Right. That's what the review is about. I was reviewing Pulp Cthulhu not CoC. Are you and payn saying Pulp shouldn't exist or something else? Because Pulp opens up play for lots more people (that 95%) without taking anything away from Classic play for those that want that. Everyone wins.

And I actually don't want over the top pulp, so what some see as criticism I see as a bonus. The Keeper has dials to up or down the pulp. That is good design so you can just tweak CoC if you want or go much more pulp on the other end. And since I'm not interested in SW, Fate, or Hero I've got CoC Pulp.

I guess I don't see the point of reading a review of something you don't like in the first place and then commenting that you personally don't like it. I'm not trying to convince anyone who doesn't like Pulp Cthulhu to like it, but it is well designed and I like talking about RPGs I like so here is my review.
 



Doctor Futurity

Adventurer
? You play CoC to get away from Talents and extra hit points and shooting Mi-Gos?
Yes, I definitely do. Shooting mi-gos means you've probably already lost heh.

Seriously though....I'm in the camp that feels that Pulp detracts from the classic feel (in fact I just finished a campaign in Pulp Cthulhu as a player and I did not really feel like I was playing CoC anymore....it was "CoC adjacent.") But I am not begrudging those who enjoy these rules, just pointing out that the feel and style of the game changes significantly from core Cthulhu once you layer on the pulp mechanics. But after having gotten to experience Pulp CoC at last, I definitely think I'll stick to "vanilla" CoC in the future, both as a player and a Keeper. The core conceit of the experience I liked simply evaporated under the Pulp aesthetic. It didn't help, I suspect, that I was playing it straight like I was in normal Call of Cthulhu, so when things went sideways and got very "pulpy" I was completely thrown off on why people were trying crazy actions that felt like suicide according to my own instincts from playing the game. And when we snatched inexplicable victory from the slavering tentacles of defeat using old fashioned violence it was just kind of....weird. Like ordering a steak and getting a Boca burger.

On the up side, the Pulp game I was in was the first time in decades of running and playing CoC that I as a player crit shot and killed an elder thing (as well as some other hard to identify mythos monsters), so....yeah. There is that, I guess, but my "vanilla" senses were completely out of whack as to why I was somehow both still alive and still sane even as I exploded the beast! I might find it less jarring with more forewarning (despite knowing I was playing Pulp Cthulhu I was still utterly unprepared for the tonal whiplash), but ultimately I think what I like most about vanilla Cthulhu (and the fiction from which it spawned) was how distinctly anti-pulp in feel it all is (was).

Pulp Cthulhu has its place, though, as the grim struggle against the mythos and sanity is not for everyone, I am sure, and having some heroism in a mix with mythos threats can clearly be appealing to those who want more action in between collecting obscure tomes and perusing forgotten graveyards.

EDIT: saw the response to the other post. I appreciate you talking about it, and am posting to share my experiences. My goal is not to be a naysayer, but I was just happy that I had a chance to post abut the topic as its been fresh on my mind (by pure coincidence).
 
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EDIT: saw the response to the other post. I appreciate you talking about it, and am posting to share my experiences. My goal is not to be a naysayer, but I was just happy that I had a chance to post abut the topic as its been fresh on my mind (by pure coincidence).

One thing I've learned writing about RPGs at EN World is the later the edition of the game the more controversary it normally generates. If Pulp had come out when 1E or 2E was out no would care. But it came out with 7E (an edition that can also create controversary) so it just doesn't work for some people. I get it.

To Chaosium's credit, they didn't change the core rules to be pulp. This type of change happens to some RPGs (a complete radical change of the core experience) and that is harder to deal with.

I also like Pulp from a Basic Roleplaying point of view. I stared with BRP not CoC or RuneQuest so having more options is what I'm used to. The dials idea works well, including not turning the dials on at all.
 

Doctor Futurity

Adventurer
That is vey true....BRP had Astounding Adventures, which I quite liked, and Pulp Cthulhu is essentially its successor, with the added effect of mythos plus higher profile (AA unfortunately didn't get a lot of attention).
 

Michael O'Brien

Adventurer
Publisher
In addition to the Pulp Cthulhu support in Masks and DDT, there are two campaigns published so far specifically for Pulp Cthulhu:

The Two-Headed Serpent, "an action-packed, globe-spanning, and high-octane campaign set in the 1930s for Pulp Cthulhu. The heroes face the sinister conspiracies of an ancient race of monsters hell-bent on taking back a world that was once theirs."

and

A Cold Fire Within, "set in 1935, a missing persons case leads to the discovery of a foul plot that could change time itself and bring disaster to the world. A cult intent on unleashing the power of the Great Old Ones leaves a trail through the Catskill Mountains and into the very heart of the planet!"
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
Right. That's what the review is about. I was reviewing Pulp Cthulhu not CoC. Are you and payn saying Pulp shouldn't exist or something else? Because Pulp opens up play for lots more people (that 95%) without taking anything away from Classic play for those that want that. Everyone wins.

And I actually don't want over the top pulp, so what some see as criticism I see as a bonus. The Keeper has dials to up or down the pulp. That is good design so you can just tweak CoC if you want or go much more pulp on the other end. And since I'm not interested in SW, Fate, or Hero I've got CoC Pulp.

I guess I don't see the point of reading a review of something you don't like in the first place and then commenting that you personally don't like it. I'm not trying to convince anyone who doesn't like Pulp Cthulhu to like it, but it is well designed and I like talking about RPGs I like so here is my review.
I think when I said “I have nothing against the Pulp rules”, I was pretty clear, along with the point I have been using them to run a two year long Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign. You are being pretty defensive about it if you trying to pigeonhole me as someone who doesn’t like it - and by extension shouldn’t be allowed to pass comment. I don’t see the point of a review that doesn’t invite people of all persuasions to read it and analyse according to their tastes.

I do feel that the 7E rules as a whole has steered more in the general direction of pulp action too (incidentally), compared to previous editions, but we were talking specifically about the pulp rules and that is what I was directly criticising. Whether or not you are interested in SW, Fate or Hero - that is what it is effectively competing against. By comparison to these alternatives, it isn’t that unique in play style and that is why some feel (and evidently it isn’t just me) that the unique CoC experience cited by many has been compromised a little.
 
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