Friend Or Foe

Friend Or Foe

It has been my experience, when introducing new characters into games, that the original group will treat the newcomer like they have a DEFCON 1 level of cooties. It is quite amusing to see the newcomer attempt to breach the circle of trust in a group once introduced. It could be that we are trying to roleplay something interesting and a normal introduction is just not that exciting or maybe we feel that this new character needs to prove themselves worthy before they are fully accepted. In some cases, I think it is warranted however, most of the time we are just trying to get a new character up and running and get back to the story at hand. The conversations that characters have with one another can go in circles and sometimes even create tension between one or more characters which can create an interesting dynamic in the storyline or a block in forward inertia. Read more...
By: David Pitzel Jan. 4, 2017, 1:01 p.m.
What the Hell Am I Doing Here

What the Hell Am I Doing Here

So you have your rulebook, your dice, some pencils and paper and your beverage of choice. You are off on an adventure which you hope will amaze and astound your would be investigators. They have all selected their favorite professions and have rolled up a group of investigators. Now you can begin to weave your tale of mystery and horror, but wait, what the hell is the farmer doing at the high priced charity ball, and why would the history professor be friends with the career criminal. OK, we have some issues here, you would love to just say, who cares lets just start playing, but of course you can’t. That might fly with a group of friends just playing in a basement somewhere but it is much more likely that you are playing at a public game store, a convention or on some sort of on-line virtual table that is also open to the public. In these cases, the players are going to hold your feet to the coals and ask you, “What the hell am I doing here?” Read more...
By: David Pitzel Dec. 6, 2016, 1:17 p.m.
Bonus, Penalty and Pushed Rolls

Bonus, Penalty and Pushed Rolls

With the 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu firmly upon us, I wanted to take some time to discuss bonuses, penalty and pushed rolls under the new system. If you haven't picked up a copy of the 7th edition, you probably should, but it's going to cost you. You can, however, check out the quick start PDF that is free HERE. I do not yet own a copy of the 7th edition book, but I do have the full PDF version. The trouble with getting a PDF before the physical copy is that you have the content in hand, and it makes it harder to spend the money on the physical copy if you're on a budget like myself. Nonetheless, the 7th edition keepers guide is beautiful, the investigator's handbook is as well, but if you are only looking to get the rules, you won't need to pick that up. The investigator's handbook does have lots of great information dealing with the creation, customization, and playing of your character. Again, this is a top-notch book and Chaosium Inc. has done a great job on these. Add in the Keeper's screen and the field guide, and your sitting pretty. For those of you who are new, you may not want to drop money just for the sake of owning the books. In this case, the free PDF will get you playing the game, and if you want to buy the more in-depth PDFs, those are available as well for a lower cost than the physical books. Call of Cthulhu is less about rules than it is about the story, so if you get the quick start guide and some free auto calculating character sheets, also available at Chaosium Inc. you will be set. Now you're on your way to the eldritch horrors of the Mythos, beware. Read more...
By: David Pitzel Dec. 2, 2016, 3:09 p.m.
Table Manners

Table Manners

The subject of table manners is probably something that comes up often and I would assume there is a large degree of difference between one individual and another in regards to this topic. First of all, I am not talking bout keeping your elbows off the table or eating with your mouth closed, although those may be valid table manners in the context of what this article is about, I am talking about the role-playing game table. Let me define that though because, in the digital age the game table can mean many things. I define the game table as any group that gets together in some fashion, weather it be an actual table, a virtual table like Roll20.net, voice chat, video chat or a good old fashion message board, with the intention of playing a game. Read more...
By: David Pitzel Dec. 1, 2016, 12:37 p.m.
Knives and Guns and Bombs, Oh My!

Knives and Guns and Bombs, Oh My!

It is inevitable when you play a role-playing game, regardless of what type, that you will have players who will bring the weaponry and bring it heavy. Not to say this is a bad thing. Many games are based on precisely that, carry a big gun, and shoot it often. In Call of Cthulhu, however, this is not the style of play that gets results. Well, I shouldn't say that it gets results, just not always the ones you wanted. Now it is well known that Call of Cthulhu is not a combat-based game and that it focuses more on story than combat. I agree, but at the same time, you will eventually have combat in a CoC game. There are times that it is unavoidable, and so, out come the guns. Read more...
By: David Pitzel Nov. 20, 2016, 5:24 a.m.
Learning To Let Go

Learning To Let Go

As a keeper, I am constantly molding the plot clay while the game is going. I tend to want the players to succeed, which I don't believe is an uncommon keeping style, but I also don't want them to walk through as if nothing can touch them. I enjoy the frailty of the Call of Cthulhu investigator. It gives a real sense of danger and excitement that I think lacks in other systems. At the same time, it can piss the players off when they are killed one turn into the first real action in the game. Success does not always mean death though, it can also mean stopping the big bad or saving the sacrificial victim or a whole host of other outcomes. Success to me also means moving the plot forward, finding the clues that get the investigators to the next scene. Nothing kills the mood more than the players sitting around trying to come up with a plan when they are not sure what the hell they should be doing. Incoming idea rolls… boring. Read more...
By: David Pitzel Nov. 11, 2016, 9:31 p.m.
Some Things To Account For

Some Things To Account For

I am often asked during character creation or gameplay, what would anyone ever use the accounting skill for? Most people see accounting as something that would have no place in a fantastic world filled with eldritch horrors and lurking cultists. It makes one wonder why the creators of the Call of Cthulhu system would have the skill featured prominently on the character sheet for all to amaze and wonder. Well have no fear keepers and players alike, I am about to put forth some uses for this skill that will not only be handy but could provide the pivotal clue that will unlock the doors to terrible Mythos threat that lies beneath every good Call of Cthulhu scenario. Read more...
By: David Pitzel Nov. 11, 2016, 11:33 a.m.
We Are All Unique Little Snowflakes

We Are All Unique Little Snowflakes

Unlike many other role-playing games, Call of Cthulhu tends to focus on the story and role-playing over character progression and combat. We have all heard that a million times, I am sure, but what does that mean for the player. As a Keeper, I know that the most exciting games are the ones in which the players genuinely become their characters and act accordingly. I get the ability to converse with a PC and have scenes that make sense as if we were watching a movie or listening to a radio drama. There are players out there who excel at this type of on your toes role-playing that provides a vibrant and exciting atmosphere for the scenario and keeps the other players interested while waiting for their chance to take the spotlight. It is always great to play with someone who stays in character most of the time and maybe even tries accents or alters their normal voice to fit the personality. That is all well and good, but I would say that a more significant number of role-playing game enthusiasts who have played many games for many years do not play in this manner. Which is understandable and acceptable, it is rare to find full-blown actors and actresses out there who enjoy the theater of it and are willing to take the stage as it were. For some players, it could be that they feel a bit embarrassed or shy about getting out there even though they play in an accepting environment. I understand that, and that is what this article is all about. How can you provide good role-playing by merely building your character with flaws? Read more...
By: David Pitzel Oct. 28, 2016, 9:46 a.m.
The Tension Mounts

The Tension Mounts

In a horror game like Call of Cthulhu the atmosphere is the greatest tool that a keeper has to create a good scary game session. Since Call of Cthulhu tends to focus more on the story being told than the heroic advancement of individual characters it is important to give the players an engaging atmosphere that they remember rather than items of power and experience for the next session. Read more...
By: David Pitzel Oct. 18, 2016, 1:13 p.m.