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finarvyn

Savage Worlds RPG with Cthulhu?

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finarvyn

I'm not quite sure how to ask this ... I picked up a RPG booklet called "East Texas University" for the Savage Worlds RPG. The gist of the campaign setting is that characters are students (starting as Freshmen, adventuring through Senior year) at this fictional university in Texas. There seem to be rules for botching rituals, trying to summon demons, and other horror/occult activities that characters might indulge in during their time at ETU. A fun read, even if I never use the rules for a campaign.

 

So this got me thinking about running some sort of "Cthulhu on a college campus" campaign using some of the ideas from this booklet as inspiration. I figure I would enjoy more running the campaign on a local campus or at Arkham instead of in Texas. Then I got to thinking about Savage Worlds. I have several SW sourcebooks (Solomon Kane, Pirates of the Spanish Main, Mars) but have never actually played the game. My problem is that it seems really cinematic in tone and this seems to contradict the somber feel of a Mythos campaign.

 

My question would be: "Is Savage Worlds at all an appropriate RPG rules set for a Cthulhu game?"
 

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Tony Williams

There's actually a rulebook for investigators against the Mythos for Savage Worlds rules - it's called "Realms of Cthulhu"

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Pookie

There are actually two options for running a game of Lovecraftian investigative horror. The first is the aforementioned Realms of Cthulhu, the second is Achtung! Cthulhu. Although its focus is upon World War 2, the rules are easily extracted to run a game using Savage Worlds.

 

East Texas University is of course set in the modern day, but Chaosium's forthcoming Organised Play campaign, A Time of Harvest, will soon be available and is set in the 1930s.

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finarvyn

Thanks for the info (and especially the thread link).

 

So I can see that there are rules for Mythos-style SW. Has anyone here played those systems? Do they seem to have the same atmosphere as CoC or other Cthulhu RPGs?

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CaseUndefined

1. RoC is pulp. PCs shaking off wounds, so do Wildcards. This could end in a gunfight which lasts the whole playing session. If you and your players like this playing style ... great.

2. In RoC players tend to not have a personal niche in terms of skill diversification. They are all more or less equal (since there are only a couple of skills).

 

If you seek subtile horror and a gritty atmosphere you should stick to CoC 7E (personal opinion).

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johnnih

A short disclaimer: I have yet to run Realms of Cthulhu (RoC), while I have quite some experience running SW (a 24-sessions campaign 1 year ago). I can tell you more about RoC in a couple of months, when I should have some experience running the thing. 

 

I would like to elaborate a bit on the 'pulp feel' of savage worlds. This pulp mostly comes from the fact that PCs in Savage Worlds are "wild cards", while most opponents are "extras". This means that PCs effectively have an extra die for all actions and that they are way more durable. Clearly, these are big advantages.

 

In RoC however, the PC's power are scaled back in a couple of ways. The extra die is taken away/nerfed at early PC ranks (levels) and some other PC-reserved advantages are scaled back as well. More importantly, they suggest a couple of styles of play, which make the system a lot deadlier and way more gritty. To elaborate on this, I have to briefly explain how sanity and health are dealt with in RoC.

 

In Savage Worlds, PCs don't get incapacitated before they get their 4th wound, while everyone else is incapacitated at 1 wound. In RoC a "gritty" mode is suggested, which entails that there is an ever increasing chance to get incapacitated with each wound, while it's still guaranteed on the 4th. This should do a lot for making the PCs vulnerable and almost make them feel like the aforementioned "extras". Sanity is dealt with much like health, meaning you can take as much as four hits before you go insane, unless you chose the "gritty option" here as well.

 

This results in four play styles, depending on how you elect to handle health and sanity.

 

Heroic Horror (pulpy/pulpy): Pure pulp and not very much like a Lovecraft tale. 

Slippery Slope (pulpy/gritty): PCs will deal with cultists and other human foes handily, but their minds will still succomb to the horrors of the mythos. 

Dangerous Action (gritty/pulpy): This will encourage your players to avoid violent confrontation. The tension of the mythos is preserved as every mythos encounter is sure to be very, very deadly.

Dark Spiral (gritty/gritty): This setting will be deadly and reek lovecraftian horror. 

 

There are even more suggestions to tweak the system toward less pulpy if desired. 

 

 

I am going to run a CoC game for my wife soon and will choose RoC for a couple of reasons. RoC makes preparation and improvisation a breeze. You don't need many games under your belt before you can come up with NPC and monster stats on the fly, and the rules are generic enough that they apply to most situations without a need for much house ruling. I want this of a game system, when I run for just one person, as I know I am going to be put on the spot constantly and that the player will get through the prepared material a lot faster than a group would. Also the broader, more generic, skill groups means the PC can do more on her own, which is an advantage with a single player/smaller group. Lastly, since she will be on her own, I do want to be able to scale the game towards "more survivable" as repeated character deaths would stop the game flow and be a great annoyance. 

 

Can't say if RoC is good for a regular CoC game with a faily large group yet. I might be able to, when I have some more experience with the system, but I hope I shed some light on the qualities of the system - good and bad. 

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finarvyn

Thanks for the feedback. I want the heroes to be heroes but not indestructable, and SW does seem to make the PCs pretty powerful. That was my initial concern and it looks like it might not go away.

 

Pookie, thanks for the links. I went back and read the blog review of RoC and it does explain a lot of the same things that are being mentioned in this thread.

 

Johnnih, I appreciate in particular the detail of your post. The four styles seems encouraging, as I could pick the rules style that fits most what I want to accomplish. And I like the notion that I could improvise quickly, as that tends to my my own GM style.

 

I'll have to track down a copy of RoC and give it a read-through. :D

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johnnih

I'm afraid that RoC alone won't do much for you. It only expands a bit on the Savage World rules, it doesn't provide the. Savage Worlds rulebook is 10$, so it is no fortune, but an added cost no less.

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Pookie

I'm afraid that RoC alone won't do much for you. It only expands a bit on the Savage World rules, it doesn't provide the. Savage Worlds rulebook is 10$, so it is no fortune, but an added cost no less.

 

Yes, but to be honest that is no great hardship. Plus owning a copy of Savage Worlds gives access to any number of great settings and campaigns, from 50 Fathoms onwards...

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finarvyn

Ah, but I already own the core rulebook. I just haven't played the game. (I also own the SW Solomon Kane product line because, well, I'm a fanatic for Solomon Kane.)

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