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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.

COC1.png

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

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.

That makes more sense. Your belief that 7E as a whole has steered more in the general direction of pulp. Because Pulp Cthulhu is completely optional. I think that the complaint that it alters the base playstyle significantly isn't a complaint, it is a feature. Pulp Cthulhu takes place in the 30s with more action. How much action it up to the Keeper to dial in. We agree that Pulp C changes the base game. That is, in fact, what it promises to do.

I'm also not convinced Pulp has to compete against those other RPGs. It might be trying to. But it might also be trying to simply broaden the audience for CoC by getting in more action orientated players. This is certainly the case for me. I wasn't looking for a pulp RPG, I was looking for CoC. And Pulp filled an option that had been missing before.

Because SW, Fate, and Hero don't have what Pulp C has. The rich history of CoC (the adventures, the lore, the well-researched settings, the monsters, and more). Which is what drew me in at first, not the pulp.

Pulp Cthulhu is more like the gold BRP to me. Lots of dials to get the game you want. Core CoC has some options but the dials aren't as fine. I like the design approach of PC.

If I sounded defensive it is because you started arguing with my points. And I argued against your points back because I like Pulp Cthulhu (which is why I took the time to write the review). Nothing personal. Didn't you think I'd argue my side if you argued yours?

If I assumed you didn't like it it was probably because you said nothing positive about it or your experience running it. What else was I to think based on the limited info I had: you have nothing against it, ran it 2 years, you don't like the new Luck rules (uber-stat), and it isn't as good as other pulp RPGs in your opinion.

As to analyzing my review, I think I can make the case that you didn't. I don't think your posts actually reference anything directly from the review. And, in fact, we both do agree that PC changes the base game yet you are posting (your first post) as if I don't agree with that point. When I actually did make several points in the review about how PC changes the base game (specifically with new rules and a new setting).

I am glad you are passionate it about CoC. And I feel your pain if the base game is changing from what you are used to (this has happened to me with other RPGs which I also posted about). On a positive note I still believe you can run CoC as straight horror if you want. I know I have, even using 7E. You might find some players who want a bit more action. Which is both good and bad right? More action, not always what you wanted. But new enthusiastic players is a net win. And new Keepers. And people like me, spreading the word about CoC which hopefully will draw in even more players, both those interested in straight horror and those that want a bit more action. Or those, like me, who want the option for both.

Hope you are well and have a great day. Again, nothing personal here. I respect your passion for CoC.
 
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TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I'm also not convinced Pulp has to compete against those other RPGs. It might be trying to. But it might also be trying to simply broaden the audience for CoC by getting in more action orientated players. This is certainly the case for me. I wasn't looking for a pulp RPG, I was looking for CoC. And Pulp filled an option that had been missing before.

Because SW, Fate, and Hero don't have what Pulp C has. The rich history of CoC (the adventures, the lore, the well-researched settings, the monsters, and more). Which is what drew me in at first, not the pulp.
A much more appreciated response.

I do think that there is some evidence of Pulp Cthulhu being a response to other ‘pulp' game titles - insofar that it was originally mooted by Chaosium as a supplement for the D20 version of the game, way back in about 2001/2. It was vaporware for many years, but was then listed as a Kickstarter stretch goal for 7E, and this gave the impetus for it to be made. Prior to that, Chaosium had released the BRP Pulp Adventures title, at a time when there was a fair glut of pulp game supplements being released for other games. The genre became popular at the turn of the millennium, with White Wolf’s Adventure! being the arguable catalyst for the trend.

I think it is worth noting that H.P. Lovecraft’s work literally was ‘pulp’, as it was printed in pulp magazines, but the meaning of pulp did not necessarily mean ‘heroic action’. See Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction as another example of this. However, in gaming, the term has generally come to mean ‘heroic action in the interwar period'.

However, I do think the point that you allude to, here is that, regardless of system, the real draw of Call of Cthulhu books is found in the quality of their research and writing. While I have my criticisms of the system, at whatever dial to be honest, I cannot fault the historical information, the presentation or the imagination that goes into their campaigns. That is what appeals to me.
 
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wicked cool

Adventurer
Call of Cthulhu is nice system but this isn't the solution.

It really needs a 1 stop solution like a wotc for all your gaming needs. Without the internet searching and places like here there isn't even a good list of modules to run

It needs a starter set like the first D&D one-one book is your rules the next is a campaign with detailed maps and a better guide for a new dm (not a solo adventure)
They need a spokesperson (Seth on youtube is fantastic)
Maybe a developers lets play (theres a couple in Canada that runs a lets play that's good)

My local gamestores doesn't even carry the starter . I had to order it online and then order another book which had a better version of the starter adventure (setting and character names are somewhat the same but one is clearly better and its not the starter 1)

How about a better Arkham map, an idea of prices back then etc

Im currently reading an official arkham horror adventure (Wrath of N'kai). Make this an adventure
I would also make it a little more mainstream-add an adventure with a crazy serial killer who is using a old ones idol to bring back his dead mother or maybe a better ghost thing than the original adventure (the conjuring for example has way more going on in its house than the starter house)
 

Call of Cthulhu is nice system but this isn't the solution.

It really needs a 1 stop solution like a wotc for all your gaming needs. Without the internet searching and places like here there isn't even a good list of modules to run

It needs a starter set like the first D&D one-one book is your rules the next is a campaign with detailed maps and a better guide for a new dm (not a solo adventure)
They need a spokesperson (Seth on youtube is fantastic)
Maybe a developers lets play (theres a couple in Canada that runs a lets play that's good)

My local gamestores doesn't even carry the starter . I had to order it online and then order another book which had a better version of the starter adventure (setting and character names are somewhat the same but one is clearly better and its not the starter 1)

How about a better Arkham map, an idea of prices back then etc

Im currently reading an official arkham horror adventure (Wrath of N'kai). Make this an adventure
I would also make it a little more mainstream-add an adventure with a crazy serial killer who is using a old ones idol to bring back his dead mother or maybe a better ghost thing than the original adventure (the conjuring for example has way more going on in its house than the starter house)

It took me a while to sort through CoC as well. I'd recommend starting with Chaosium: getting started with Coc. I have written about how I got started with CoC at Geek Native. I go over the rules I started with, modules I recommend, and a book that is a great guide for new Keepers. The Investigator Handbook has a list of prices for the 1920s. And as you mention, Seth Skorkowsky loves CoC and has a whole series about the rules on his YouTube channel.
 

MidnightBlue

Explorer
I love the option for both styles of play, just as I like both genres...pulp adventure and mostly hopeless fight against the unknown. I need the break from the hopeless situation of Lovecraft's writing once in a while and play a game where my characters feel like they actually CAN make a difference.

Both are fun and glad I bought both the CoC slipcase and the Pulp Cthulhu books. =)
 

Nebulous

Legend
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."

an
I've been wanting to run this a long time now. I have the PDF, but it would most likely be a Roll20 or Foundry game for me. It looks amaaaaaaazing, and the production quality is stellar. Exactly the kind of crazy Indiana Jones sci-fi CoC adventure story I want to tell.
 

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