What is at stake for the PCs?


Would you abe able to elaborate on these two things ie (1) your rules changes and (2) how their PCs have revealed themselves to be bland and ineffective?

The only CoC I've played recently is Cthulhu Dark, which (as the name suggests via word-play) is very "lite" with a simple but (as I've experienced it) effective resolution system and rather colourful PCs.
"Bland & inane" because of poor Player choices during char gen and attitude during play. Not everyone, not all the time, but mostly.
Pcs are actually very capable from the get-go in this game, Gumshoe's Trail of Cthulhu, and I admit I like it a lot.

Usual problems IME with new Pcs: not much investment in background, personality and, more important, in relating to Npcs.
That's why I started focusing, on my part, on Npcs, and how they relate to Players' investigation, out of curiosity, greed, personal interests. Also to teach them that the course of the game might change drastically if they don't take measures pro, or against, the Npcs involved.
We're getting there, I hope.

(To be cont...)

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The game provides Pc with starting Drives (curiousity, thrill of adventure, sense of justice, vengeance, overcoming apathy, etc) to propel the will to investigate if needed,
and Pillars of Sanity, personal creed as statements that players make up by themselves:
"Logic will prevail on chaos", "Never underestimate the power of emotions", "An armed gun solves any problem", "a loved person", whatever.
These latter are meant to be eroded in the long term as a measure of losing humanity while becoming more and more aware of alien Cthulhu mythos.

So, there's plenty to work with about backgrounds, motivations and insights for Pc, but to speed up things we agreed to elaborate more on those in the course of play, if needed.

Since the adventure is derailing and widening into a sandboxy scenario (thanks to the very well written set up from the author), it's about time we focus more on the Pc depth and interactions with the many Npc and convoluting storylines emerging.



On the "ineffective Pc" side of the argument: That is by no means a fault of the system but an issue with inexperience of character generation in order to create Pc ready to investigate on their own.

I informed the players, as game suggests, to take a wide variety of skill between them to cover broadly all areas of possible investigations.

I overlooked this a bit, only to discover at the table that a whole lot of skills were missing on their sheets.

My bad, but I continued running the game introducing more and more Npc to cover those areas.
Particularly from the accademic player character stuff like arts history, archeology, anthropology, architecture, were completely missing.

Now they need to interact with many Npc just to uncover the starting clues out of the items they initially found.
After that they will need to draw conclusions on their own to proceed further, of course.

Such a slower pace of examining things, lends to uncertainty on which line of investigation is the "main" one, so the party prefers to split and have different "encounters" at a time.

A story that could have had only the Pcs going around, now has twice the number of Npcs aware of the investigation, willing to actively take part in it, and "factions" in town are getting involved also ( mafia families, rich heads of industry, mexican gangs and their aztec goddess vine/plant monster Coatlique, criminal underground, occult experts, Elliot Ness in person! ten years after Al Capone and Chicago :)

Cool stuff

In the GURPS Cabal campaign I'm currently running, the PCs were recruited to explore the multiverse and find out why it's so baroque. They were assigned this mission by the Grand Master of their Cabal lodge, Sir Isaac Newton. It's been quite interesting, as a campaign of exploration and discovery, without much fighting, and they have managed to incorporate their individual interests (wealth, power, arcane philosophies, immortality - the usual kind of things) into this mission.

It appears that they are about to install a new multiversal demiurge, to displace the existing one. This seems to be a necessary side-effect of someone achieving a sufficient understanding of the laws of the multiverse; they have been cautious enough to allow an NPC to do the job. That will be the dramatic climax of the campaign, although there may be some epilogues.

In the GURPS occult WWII campaign I've been playing since 2006, the characters' original motivation was "Defend the United Kingdom against magical attacks, and try to help win the war." They'd been recruited by an obscure branch of MI5 to do this, and willingness to do it was mandatory for character creation.

Along the path from September 1939 to January 1945, the characters have undergone a great deal of development, both at player level and in terms of game mechanics. Magic and the occult have become public knowledge within the setting, and it seems likely that the characters will become significant people in the post-war world, if they survive. One character in particular, who began the war as a junior RAF fighter pilot, having been a Hollywood actor of no great significance, has found it necessary and practical to marry into the British Royal Family. He's doing this to keep an eye on a German plot that is probably a failure, but might just be very subtle.


Would you abe able to elaborate on these two things ie (1) your rules changes and (2) how their PCs have revealed themselves to be bland and ineffective?

The only CoC I've played recently is Cthulhu Dark, which (as the name suggests via word-play) is very "lite" with a simple but (as I've experienced it) effective resolution system and rather colourful PCs.
Yeah I remember you talking about Cthulhu Dark. I have a copy as well.

We left Trail of Cthulhu, the italian edition, translated, waiting for ages on the shelf, and I've been asked to run it and see how it goes.

Well, first off, let's say a Pc starts with a Profession, and has three main status indicators: phisical health, emotional balance and the usual sanity-vs-mythos-awareness.
So you could have an expert on mythos (almost non human anymore intellectually ) with a strong focus, mental balance, reason; otoh a completely occult ignorant on the verge of madness, irrational personality wise.

Pc is basically made of Skills; these are expressed as a number (of points): Archeology 4; Firearms 8; Intimidate 2...

Skill are divided in Investigative ones and General (action/non-investigative) ones.

Investigative skills don't roll dice for resolution: if you use the right skill (or a reasonable different one) in the right place, you get the core clue (if present of course, or if the gm improv it).
Points from the skill can be spent to get additional info (if any): that means spending more time and effort in the fiction, sometimes.
These points spent never refresh during the "adventure".

General skill, on the other side, mean failure is an option, so you roll a D6 with a target number ranging usually from 3 to 5. Points can be spent to raise the odds, or downright meet the target number without bothering to roll. These points do refresh once in a while.

Ok, thing is: Combat by RAW is resolved in the most traditional way. Sides takes turns, roll to hit, difficulty depending on opponent ability, roll for damage, add weapon damage modifier, check health, repeat, eventually see how much health goes below zero for stuns, injuries or death.

What I did is, for now, to simply reject the above and just declare what someone is doing followed by another declaration by the opponent. Points can be spent to make a declaration stick in order to gain advantage, or any else fictional positionong to alter the scene. Eventually dice are rolled by the Pcs when it seems appropriate, or to end the combat.
eg: a Pc wanted to spend a point to intimidate an opponent when both had already raised their guns against each other: this allowed the PC to fire first, then he had to roll a die to see the outcome: miss, injured, etc.

When a Pc must defend may spend Health itself to roll for... defence ;) So I changed health from status to actual skill.

That's basically it.
I have a look at opponents Stats (when provided) to use them descriptively, but I don't roll dice as Gm.
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This reminded me of a PC in a 1990s RM game I GMed. The character was a wizard who had been born a slave, bought his freedom, become a lawyer, and wished to become a magistrate in his city (it was at this point in his life that he entered play). But various turns of events led to him becoming addicted to an expensive magic-enhancing drug, as a result of which he lost his house, and that plus some other misfortunes meant that he lost his dignity. In the end another PC. also a wizard and from the same city but who was plotting with Vecna to conquer said city, persuaded the first PC to join the plot in exchange for the guarantee of a magistracy.

I think the quest for status (which doesn't have to be nobiity, though of course it can be) can be a powerful driver in RPG play.

Yeah, absolutely. That’s largely what Blades in the Dark is all about. Hacking out a place for you and your crew in the city. The type of crew you decide to be will influence exactly what you’re seeking, but it all goes back to status.



I have Trail of Cthulhu and have read the rules but never played it. I don't know if I've ever read the introductory scenario, but from what you're saying it seems worth looking at.



Definitely yes. The main plot is ok, something has to be filled in by the Gm to make it work properly, perhaps, but the scenario bits, the collateral fluff, are very interesting. It is based on real life events I had never heard about.

aramis erak

My current campaigns are both ALIEN ... both are space trucker mode.

The players reasons for play are different from their characters...
Several of the players are looking at it as the RPG-horror spiral into madness of the character, and seeing just how far before they get done in my total mental break or by being lunch for something mankind was not meant to meet.

Others are in it for the accomplishments of survival and the exploration of the setting...

For the characters, the motivation is varied, but for several, "Another day, another dollar, and another meal." In at least one case, it's find out what the datastick is holding. In another, it's clinging to the new family, since the old one, the birth-based one, is dead.....

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