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Passing realisations on summoning

Posted by Shimmin Beg , in Call of Cthulhu, mechanics 15 July 2016 · 846 views

So I was reading up on monster summoning spells... for no reason (ahem)... and just noticed this in the sidebar:


If a success, one being appears per spell, 2d10 game minutes after the chant concludes.


2d10 game minutes. Not "immediately". I'm pretty sure it's been immediate in most of the games I've heard feature summoning spells, because summoning things in combat seems cool. But no, you can't summon a byakhee during a fight, even by blowing a magic whistle.


Am I unusually dense? Do other Keepers handwave this because they like the idea of rapid monster summoning? Has everyone else also missed this?


More generally:

  • it's much easier to summon a dimensional shambler, dark young or hunting horror (or even a Brother of Chaugnar Faugn) than a nightgaunt, because Elder Signs are super rare, whereas knives and sentient beings are practically ten a penny.
  • I'm sure it's been mentioned before, but I suspect nobody actually checks before ruling whether a byakhee or fire vampire can be summoned. I wonder whether the ones in Orient Express are legit?
  • similarly, I wonder whether anyone checks before having Dark Young appear.

I have not paid any attention to the time, but I  will from here on out.  Good catch, there.


And yes, some things are easier to summon than others, and yes, we do need to have those matters nailed down a bit better (in the case of the fire vampire, very precise keeping of the calendar is crucial for a legit fire vampire.  My players once solved a scenario simply by wasting enough time in campaign on other things before they went on to the fire vampire problem, and the stars weren't right.)

Kudos for rolling with it!  It does introduce a potentially gaping flaw in the enemy's defences.  How did you feel the scenario went in the circumstances?


It's an issue for cultists in general though.  An awful lot of things seem to require nights and specific weather, too, which means actually daytime raids are probably much safer for Investigators.

It's the summoning of byakhees only being possible when Aldebaran is over the horizon that irritates me.

The notion that it matters which way Earth is facing when summoning a creature from 65 light years away is - in my opinion - ridiculous (especially when the byakhees in question can cover those 65 light years in 2-20 minutes).

That's probably just me, though.

There's a weird sort of tension between the desire for spells to be mystical and esoteric, and the Lovecraftian "the cosmos cares not for your puny human conceptions of doing stuff", I think.  From a wizardly point of view, the idea that a particular star needs to be in sight is exactly the sort of thing spells demand.  From a cosmic point of view, it's irrelevant.


In my head I'm reskinning this as either:

  • you must be exposed to the light of Aldebaran to form the necessary resonance - which generally means it must be above the horizon
  • you must orient the spell towards Aldebaran, which means either you need to be able to see it, or be really really good at orienting yourself.  This makes it far easier in the modern day when you can pull out one of those Sky at Night apps to show you in real-time exactly which stars are in which direction.