Parapsychologist's Handbook

From YSDC Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search


Front Cover

Product Code: CHA0302 (was originally released under product code 85)

Publishing Year: 2003

Pages: 112

Cover Price: $19.00

Author(s): Chris Jerome

Artist(s): Cover by Meghan McLean; Illustrations by Simon Monk, Jessica Billman.

Setting(s): 1890s, 1920s

Format: MULA Monograph

Released as PDF: Yes


This monograph reveals the real-world science of the paranormal, Parapsychology (its history and methods), how to play a parapsychologist, how to run a Call of Cthulhu campaign centered around a ghost-hunting group, and how to simulate various non-Mythos entities and psychic powers in your campaign.

Parapsychology Exploring New Prontiers of Science

   * Parapsychology
   * Parapsychology in the Laboratory
   * Generating a Parapsychologist Character


   * Paradigms—Theories of the Unexplained
   * Ghosts and Hauntings
   * Investigating Poltergeists
   * Spiritualism and Mediumship
   * Psychical Research

Secrets Mankind Was Not Meant to Know

   * Running a Parapsychological Campaign
   * Ghosts: a Keeper's Guide
   * The Poltergeist Scenario
   * Mediumship Explored
   * Psychics
   * Cthulhu Rising: Cthulhu and the Psychic

Appendix A: Sinister Seeds

Appendix B: New D20 Cthulhu Psychic Feats

Appendix C: Parapsychological Literature, 1882–1930

Front Cover Text

A New Occupation For Call Of Cthulhu

Comments / Trivia

List dedication, color plates, rarity of the book, etc.


There is an article/review for this Monograph on the site, but an edited version of its content is inserted below under 'Keeper's Eyes Only'.

Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.

Comment here to Keepers about this book. Comments on specific Scenarios and Campaigns go on their respective pages. Keep DISCUSSION on the talk page.

A sourcebook for all eras (though focusing on the historical ones) providing background and game information for creating parapsychologist characters, scenarios and campaigns (with D20 stats in bold).

The monograph is competently presented (2 columns ranged right) for the most part, but is only sparingly illustrated (usually on quite a small scale). The writing style is functional though there irritations in terms of incorrect punctuation and typos. This was the first monograph I acquired and the drop in quality from the appearance of Chaosium's CoC books was very noticeable at the time. My copy is an early one with a card cover, white back cover and taped binding. I believe current printings will have the slicker glossy cover. There will have undoubtedly been opportunities to correct the typos and layout errors, but I don't know whether this has been done.

Review of Content There is a lot of information presented here, all of which is pertinent to creating parapsychologist characters, making them effective, rational scientists and illustrating the sort of phenomena they are customarily interested in. The intellectual paradigms are laid out clearly and the author knows his material, essentially the history of parapsychology, throroughly (as far as a layman can tell). Spiritualism, mediumship, psychics, ghost and poltergeist phenomena are all covered. There are timelines listing famous cases and fascinating descriptions of historical personalities from the world of psychic research. The Society of Psychic Research is shown to be a key institution and cultural impact of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century 'boom' in interest in the area is brought home to the reader. This isn't developed to the same degree for the present, which is a shame but is understandable from the point of view of potential litigation and/or the requirements of someone actually involved in the field.

The parapsychological material is tied to the mythos in a number of ways; from quotations from Lovecraft's 'The Lurking Fear' to references and tie-ins to well-known Chaosium scenarios and campaigns. These links are occasionally a little tenuous and there are moments of uncertainty about how the handbook is to be used (sections for Keepers and players) but such hesitancies are to be expected in what was only the second monograph produced.

Conclusion The material is intrinsically intriguing and suggestive. The monograph doesn't actually demonstrate how a shift of focus to the parapsychological would play out by providing scenario or campaign beyond a two-page appendix of sinister seeds (and hooks sprinkled throughout). I'm sure some readers would say that they like their sourcebooks to be sourcebooks and their scenario books to be scenario books, but in this instance I feel it is a flaw. They lack of additional monographs offering parapsychological scenarios or campaigns of this type might be telling us something.

This monograph is probably the bestseller of the line, according to Chaosium site stats, but one can't help feeling (uncharitably) that it may often be sold to non-gamers hooked on Most Haunted and shows of that ilk. Those purchasers get their money's worth, too, in the 'Selecting Equipment', 'How to' and recurrent phenomena sections and with the history of the field included here. In gaming terms this monograph offers essential material for parapsychologist characters and scenarios but the package doesn't ultimately offer enough to make me consider it more than a well-developed background for an occupation or, if you like, character class. Would a parapsychological campaign be 'CoC lite'? After all, the scenario that introduces many of us to the game, 'The Haunted House' in the rulebook, comes on like a spirit manifestation but soon gets much, much deadlier.

Overall, the monograph is the best format for this addition to the game in that, while it offers a lot of supplementary background, it is very far from the core of the game. If, however, you are at all interested in developing a parapsychological angle to your games this is the one-stop shop.