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GrahamW

Cthulhu Dark

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GrahamW

Neat. Feel free to hack the system however you want. A general guide is to keep it simple: simply add dice and take them away. Here are some thoughts.

 

Core Traits & Side Traits. Instead of a profession, characters have a Core Trait and Side Trait. Side traits add a die (as professions did). Core traits add a die as well, but also allow the reroll of a single die. [EDIT] Okay, this doesn't really work. A reroll is functionally the same as just adding a die, since you only count the highest anyway. Looking for a tweak that is smaller than adding a full die.

 

It might be worth trying occupations first and seeing if they work for your group. When I wrote this game, I thought I'd need to add dice for specific skills, but in play, nobody seems to want them. The occupations work fine.

 

That said...that's a neat hack. Perhaps Core Traits could win ties.

 

Bonus/Penalty system to adjust for circumstance. Putting this in the players hands makes them feel rewarded for clever tactics. A favorable circumstance allows the reroll of a single die. An unfavorable circumstance forces a reroll of the best die, and the result can not be better than the original roll.

 

Yes, that's fair enough. I'd be tempted to say that an unfavourable circumstance simply subtracts a die.

 

Character Advancement. I'm playing a longer campaign in a more pulp style, so if they can survive, they should advance. I'm thinking that each completed chapter grants them one side trait, or upgrades a side trait to a core trait.

 

If you're doing Core Traits and Side Traits, then this is pretty neat.

 

Again, it's probably worth trying it as written. I'm playing a Cthulhu Dark campaign at the moment, without advancement, and we don't miss it.

 

Magick. For this particular game, magick use is more or less required and expected, so I'm going to soften the sanity blow. Any spell will have an Insanity Rating. If your insanity rating is already higher than the spells's rating, then you consider it "within human possibility," and thus don't have to risk an insanity die (although you can if you want to give it some extra juice).

 

Yes, that's good.

 

Combat. Might need some combat rules for combat with mortal foes.

 

The simplest and easiest way is just to do a contested roll. You want to shoot him, he wants to shoot you, both roll and see who gets higher. Honestly, in games, I use this method more than any other.

 

If you want to get more complex, you can have a Harm die, which works like the Insanity die. It starts at 1. Every time you take an injury, roll it: if you get above your current Harm, your Harm goes up.

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GrahamW

Here's an Insanity rule I've been using for campaigns. It works pretty well.

 

Underlying Insanity

 

Your Underlying Insanity starts at 1.

 

At the end of each scenario within the campaign, roll your Insanity Die. If you get more than your Underlying Insanity, increase your Underlying Insanity by 1.

 

At the beginning of each scenario, reset your Insanity to your Underlying Insanity.

 

(You know how, before, your Insanity started at 1? Now it starts at your Underlying Insanity instead. At first, that'll be 1. Later, it'll be higher. And the longer you play the character, the closer you start to total insanity.)

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Skyman
This is nice. The general rule is: you can get your Insanity down, but you must screw yourself or the other Investigators over to do it. (Personally, I'd keep it focussed on destroying Mythos knowledge, but if you want to expand it, that's the rule of thumb.)

 

Interestingly, the rule as written causes problems in Delta Green-style games. The problem is that, in those sorts of games, destroying knowledge is part of the mission: you want to hide what's going on from others. So I need a new rule for these games. I'm not sure what. (I should start a new thread on it.)

 

Yes in my situation the rationale was that the players drinking were trying to forget or erase the image of what they saw. If successful the player got the SAN back but had to tag his guy as drunk and would not be able to recall the incident/have certain skeptism as to it really happening.

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FNH

...

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Krypter

I recently ran the first Monophobia adventure with Cthulhu Dark and it was great. I've never been so relieved to play a system wherein I didn't have to remember anything, did not have to reference any thick tomes, nor did I need to consult any charts or detailed character sheets. It's brilliant. The game was 99% roleplaying. This is the way it should be.

 

I'm not sure how well such a system would work for other genres given that 1920s CoC is probably the ideal period to have a simple "profession" stat. No superpowers, no fancy equipment, no magic, no feats, just regular people doing jobs we can all understand (unlike today's User Experience Designers and such).

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SneakyRANGER

I loved this I played last weekend in 5 games we ran 1 without a keeper we Kept swaping who set up the story they were all fairly humorous pearodys of a run of the mill Cthulhu game but I find the system lends itself well to humorous pearodys.

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GrahamW

I'm glad it's working out so well.

 

Krypter, I always thought it would work well with Monophobia. I sort of agree about professions. Cthulhu Dark works well for Gaslight, for example, where professions are important. For Delta Green, things get slightly more difficult, because everyone seems to have a similar function. I'm still trying to work that one out.

 

Sneaky, that's great. Interestingly, I use Cthulhu Dark for bleak, horrific games, so it's nice to know it does the other end of the spectrum too.

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MonsterMash

Finally got around to downloading this. Looks good - particularly for PBP games where it is hard using a crunchy system like CoC can slow stuff down to the detriment of the game.

 

That was what I liked. I'd probably tweak it for combats with cultists but the idea that if you fight a critter you die seems to me more in genre than wasting shoggoths.

 

Of course, HPL might not agree with me seeing as how mi-go are taken down by dogs in Whisperer...

 

Or Wilbur in Dunwich Horror. Dogs the new Lovecraftian superweapon.

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GrahamW

You know, I could talk about this subject all day. (I've written a book, called Stealing Cthulhu, which, among other things, discusses fights and harm in Lovecraft).

 

There is some combat in Lovecraft: another example might be the backstreet cultist assassination in The Call of Cthulhu. But they almost always happen off screen and to someone other than the protagonists. Protagonists run.

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konsumterra

99% rule free!

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finarvyn

I downloaded Cthulhu Dark. I expected a short rules set, but ... wow. I can't wait to spring this on my gaming group. Looks pretty slick. :-)

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YunusWesley
I may convert to this. I was going to use the Over the Edge system, which is similarly a rules-lite d6 system (except for ranged combat, for no discernible reason)

 

That is SO GAMERLY!

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GBSteve

I've used OTE for Cthulhu. I've even got a scenario for it somewhere, it was Delta Green of sorts. It's a good fit for the game if you add a SAN mechanic. I used the percentile system but the Cthulhu Dark one is probably better.

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Krypter

Have there been any modifications to the CD rules recently?

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jarrett
I'm glad it's working out so well.

 

Krypter, I always thought it would work well with Monophobia. I sort of agree about professions. Cthulhu Dark works well for Gaslight, for example, where professions are important. For Delta Green, things get slightly more difficult, because everyone seems to have a similar function. I'm still trying to work that one out..

 

It would seem to me that being a Delta Green character would mean simply that characters have baseline training on things like investigation, hacking, weapons, etc., and that this would zero them out and let them be treated basically as normal characters, albeit called "operators" but essentially normal people since they have common training. That being the case, you could give them "specializations" instead of occupations...some characters are REALLY good at fighting, some are REALLY good at hacking. Some are REALLY good at persuasion. Adding dice in these cases would seem appropriate. This would break down if you teamed delta green operators with normal characters.

 

As far as the sanity, it would seem that much of that would be the same...they are trained on some aspects, but not all, of the things they are facing. Unless someone is a veteran with mythos knowledge, they know monsters from the training manual, and not first hand. Again, their sanity would be baseline in my mind.

 

Perhaps to make delta green more compelling you could add an "Exposure" mechanic. As sloppy things are done, exposure goes up. When exposure hits a certain pre-determined number, HQ carpet bombs the place, or, at a minimum, sanctions the players and their next of kin. If the characters can come up with creative ways to lower exposure, i.e. assassinating friendlies who become "in the know", cutting T-1 lines into the building they are in, etc. the game would become a balancing act...stay alive...eliminate the threat...do it quietly...stay sane. If your characters make it through far enough, they are retired and become a resource for the next character the player uses, as in, calling in a favor. I'm uneducated in the giant CoC rulebook, but this looks like something that could be fun and manageable for my friends who dont have the patience for the big books.

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YunusWesley

Fantastic JT.

 

You adjust your expectation of the scale of investigator action, is what you're saying. If the narrative calls for more action competents, that's just the bar of the game. A lot of NPCs are below the level of resolution: they can't reasonably do anything, any more than investigators can successfully fight Mythoids. And perhaps at this scale individual deep ones and byakhee are vulnerable to three rolls of concerted investigator mayhem.

 

The exposure mechanic 'countdown' to the cavalry rolling in, and all the hell that might entail with Delta Green, is a good pacing structure. Exposure, as JT pointed out to me off-forum, can really be any separate crisis you race against beyond sanity and harm.

 

Black investigators in the classic era risk exposure every public move they make through white space. Is the scenario bar set for unlawful arrest and committal or for a rope and a pepper tree?

 

Investigators of the pilots & PIs variety strain their work obligations and close relationships. There's really no telling how upset your children will be at the mere stench of an eldritch tome in your home office. Your spouse hurries them away from you: you're not yourself, dear, not by a long chalk. Now that gets the help, the neighbors and the police inflamed and suspicious: the die roll reflects the magnitude of the moral panic.

 

Consider that Peaslee's wife cannot deal with his Yithian replacement; waves of vampirism across Providence make the streets tense and suspicious.

 

That's really two story types: personal crisis and public outcry. The first can be a degree of the second, or each emphasized for separate narratives. "Professor divorced over museum break-in and family ostracism" is a great story on its own; "Professor's antics with famed psychic cat and stolen museum jewelry spark race riots across Atlanta" is another great story, or a second phase to the personal crisis.

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jarrett

Does someone have a sample cthulhu dark scenario i can look over? I'd like to see the level of detail.

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GBSteve

When I ran Delta Green flavoured Cthulhu Dark, I had a group dice called resources. You could roll this for help from the conspiracy, green box equipment, friendlies etc. If it was the top dice in a roll it went up by one. At 6, the group's cover is blown. The dice is shared by everyone at doesn't reset between sessions. If it gets to 5 you can reduce it by covering up.

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jarrett

I think this system is well suited to comic book type, superhero stories as well. This system seems much more "storyteller"-ish than the official system of the same name!

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Jose Chung

I recently played in a Cthulhu Dark session set in SF's Chinatown. I am now a full convert and have switched to these rules for all my future Cthulhu games. It's brilliant.

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Style

Wow, this sounds fantastic! My group plays Savage Worlds almost exclusively, for a variety of genres and settings, and it works pretty well for Delta Green, but for more "traditional" Cthulhu I always felt that A) it was too rules focused instead of story focused, too crunch, and B) the characters were too tough. If you've played Savage Worlds a few times, you quickly realize that a wild card (PC) librarian is significantly tougher than an extra (NPC) soldier. It's ok in some games, were you don't want the PCs to be too fragile, but it's a bit much for Cthulhu horror.

 

This is exactly what I needed for my Tel'aran'rhiod Mini-campaign. Speaking of which, please stop by the thread and comment. I desperately need help!

 

http://www.yog-sothoth.com/threads/22326-Tel-aran-rhiod-Mini-campaign

 

The simplest and easiest way (to handle combat) is just to do a contested roll. You want to shoot him, he wants to shoot you, both roll and see who gets higher. Honestly, in games, I use this method more than any other.

 

If you want to get more complex, you can have a Harm die, which works like the Insanity die. It starts at 1. Every time you take an injury, roll it: if you get above your current Harm, your Harm goes up.

 

I want it more complex than that, but the harm die makes characters way too tough. It will take a good while to get to 5, and then from there it could be real hard to get them to 6. I like combat where there is at least a chance you can get taken out with one blow.

 

Here's what I'm thinking. Combat is an opposed roll. If successful, you take the difference of the two rolls and add that to the character's harm. In that manner, you can take some one down with one blow if you land a really good one.

 

In addition, Harm going to 6 is incapacitation, not necessarily death. Determining whether or not the incapacitation is death or not will be two fold. One, what manner was the harm dealt? If from a fist fight, the character is likely just unconscious, not dead. If from a chainsaw delivered by a guy wearing a leather mask, the character is likely dead. Two, and more importantly, what works best for the story? Is it better for the story if the character is dead or alive? This gives the GM some nice wiggle room.

 

Here's an Insanity rule I've been using for campaigns. It works pretty well.

 

Underlying Insanity

 

Your Underlying Insanity starts at 1.

 

At the end of each scenario within the campaign, roll your Insanity Die. If you get more than your Underlying Insanity, increase your Underlying Insanity by 1.

 

At the beginning of each scenario, reset your Insanity to your Underlying Insanity.

 

(You know how, before, your Insanity started at 1? Now it starts at your Underlying Insanity instead. At first, that'll be 1. Later, it'll be higher. And the longer you play the character, the closer you start to total insanity.)

 

This is great. When I was first reading the rules, I was wondering how the whole party wouldn't be raving lunatics after 2 or 3 sessions. This covers it. :)

 

Before I start my mini-campaign, I would like to give CD a spin with a traditional Cthulhu horror one shot. I see these references to Graham's games, but I don't see how to find them. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Screams of the Children in particular sounds like a tasty treat!

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GrahamW

I must admit, I'm not sure I'd advise using Underlying Insanity. It's OK at first, but gets less interesting when you start scenarios at Insanity 4. But the idea of resetting Insanity at the beginning of sessions, rather than scenarios, is worth keeping.

 

Steve's Resource Die works well. I'm always interested to see other people's ideas for rules, too.

 

I'm delighted to see people using Cthulhu Dark. I like the rules and it's lovely to see them being played.

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I must admit, I'm not sure I'd advise using Underlying Insanity. It's OK at first, but gets less interesting when you start scenarios at Insanity 4. But the idea of resetting Insanity at the beginning of sessions, rather than scenarios, is worth keeping.

 

I'll keep that in mind. It's worth noting that my "campaign" is really a "mini-campaign". I don't expect it to last more than 4 sessions. It's possible they could get through it as quickly as 2 sessions. So if they get to the point where they're starting a session at 4 sanity, it should only be for one session.

 

If by scenario you mean story/adventure, this will be just one scenario. If the characters love it and want to continue, making it more than a mini-campaign, at the start of the next scenario I could see resetting underlying sanity back to 1 for each scenario.

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I used CD tonight to run the Sanatorium one shot. The rules worked beautifully and great fun was had by all.

 

One question I had was for a psychologist reducing insanity. How would this be handled? Tonight, two of the characters were at 5 and the other was at 4. The psychologist knew they were all in bad shape, found Dr. Brewer's drug cabinet, and rolled a 6 on his psychology roll. He drugged them up, including himself, and I reduced them all back to 2. I wasn't sure if this was too lenient. I'm also wondering what happens when the drugs start to wear off?

 

I loved the Sanatorium, by the way. It was great fun for me to GM it, having the opportunity to role play a bunch of crazy people, and the players were totally creeped out by the story. Where can I get Screams of the Children? After running the Sanatorium, I want something really top notch! :)

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LoneKharnivore
found Dr. Brewer's drug cabinet, and rolled a 6 on his psychology roll. He drugged them up

 

Just a heads-up - "Psychology" is not a practical, medical skill; it is more about the character's understanding of others, their motivations and attitudes...

 

Unless, of course, CD has changed the ruleset more than I realised, in which case please ignore me; this is not the post you are looking for, etc :)

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