Jump to content
Mankcam

Converting my Pulp Cthulhu game

Recommended Posts

Mankcam

I have been running the Masks Of Nylarthotep campaign for quite some time, and it has been a rollicking adventure which owes more to Indiana Jones than H.P. Lovecraft at this stage. Such a well crafted campaign, full of flavour, and I can see why it has captured the imaginations of many in the gaming community.

 

I really wanted to run a long pulp era Mythos campaign, but didn't want the hassles of TPK from both a GM and player perspective.

I think for one-shot scenarios my players would like the investigative horror genre of CoC, but for a longer commitment they are much more into cinematic adventure.

 

So this campaign has definitely been firmly in the 'pulp' camp rather than a 'purist' camp by design. I could not wait for the official Pulp Cthulhu rules to be released, so I ended up making Call Of Cthulhu fit my needs instead.

 

I am in the process of updating it to run with CoC 7E rules, as I think this edition has aspects that lends itself well to cinematic play from the outset.

 

I have found that the main thing with running any 'Pulp' game over a 'Purist' game is the setting flavour created by the GM.

In addition to this, having a very liberal view of the scope of Skills can also play a huge role in a cinematic game. I find that this encourages very colourful descriptions of what the characters try to achieve with their skills, and can be alot of fun. These things won't really change regardless of which edition I use, as they are more narrative approaches rather than actual game mechanics.

 

My only issue is that in my current game the PCs each have a few 'trademark' talents that we came up with, and these are notions that I will need to presently consider. In my current BRP/CoC 6E rules, I portrayed these extraordinary abilities by importing the Stunts system from BRP Blood Tide, and have made a few new ones up.

Stunts use Power Points just like spells, but are natural abilities rather than magical, and are designed to emulate cinematic play.

 

For example, 'Trick Shot' allows the PC to ignore a circumstantial negative modifier (ie; uneven ground, blurred vision, etc) for 1 MP, whereas 'Steely Gaze' demoralises an opponent down to half skill chance.

 

The main problem is that sometimes these Stunts feel a little overpowered for the level of pulp I am going for (think something between Magnum/Burn Notice and Raiders Of The Lost Ark). Generally these abilities will play in a way that feels right for the game setting; however occasionally these Stunts can feel almost like activating Super Powers, which really isn't what I was initially after.

 

These abilities need to feel different from Super Powers or Magical Spells, so having a similar game mechanic to portray them may not have been my best solution, despite its ease of implementation.

 

The nature of the game still needs to be challenging, otherwise it just becomes too predictable, but I certainly don't want to see TPK unless it is a result of pure stupidity. So it is a balancing act here.

 

My solution for a Pulp CoC 7E is to keep these abilities, but I am re-envisioning the concept by using a house rule I named 'Stretching Your Luck'.

 

This is essentially an extension of the optional rule for 'Spending Your Luck', except I want to reduce the cost of Luck depletion for particular situations.

 

For example, 'Trickshot' would allow a reduced Luck cost for failed Firearms rolls due to incurred Penalty Dice (for situations like uneven ground, blurred vision, etc), or 'Steely Gaze' allows for reduced Luck expenditure for failed Intimidate or Persuade rolls.

 

It also stops the actual feel of 'activating' a Stunt, and brings it back to core skill use and lucky chances.

 

I think this feels more in the low to mid pulp flavour I am trying to emulate, which is along the lines of 'High Road To China' or 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark'. Indiana Jones feels more like he is a character with some trademark abilities who happens to survive just as much by luck than anything else (perhaps moreso in the first Raiders film where he was portrayed with slightly less plot immunity).

 

The characters would still be able to spend Luck at the usual rate for other actions, so it would only be cheaper for their particular trademark abilities.

 

I don't want Luck to be too cheap, however, otherwise it may lose its value. On the other hand, I still want to retain a pulpy flavour to the characters.

 

My question is, " What should the cost for 'Stretching Your Luck' be?"

 

I initially considered 1 Luck Point per 5%, but this may possibly be a little excessive.

At the moment I'm trying to work out whether 1 Luck Point  for 2% or 3% is in the vicinity I should be aiming, or whether it should remain 1 Luck Point for 5%..

 

I would certainly welcome any advice or suggestions on how other GMs may approach this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mankcam

hmmm...no replies within five days...not much interest at present I guess!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gaffer

You've actually had me thinking about this since I read it. I expect to respond when I've got a coherent comment worked out.

 

I run a lot of con events and I'm thinking this could really spice up a pre-gen character.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The_Tatterdemalion_King

I recommend you go with 1 for 5%, because it's an easy-to-calculate number even for people who are slow at math, and it's a significant enough bonus that people are going to feel like it's always worth it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mankcam

Yes my initial calculation was 1 Luck Point per 5%, it seems right for a pulpy game, but I just ant to ensure its not too powerful. I guess it will only be for a few trademark abilities, and for most situations they'll use Luck at the usual rate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johnmcfloss

I'm specifically running in a historical setting (so it's easier to port over), but there's a nice Stunting system in Blood Tides - it's predominantly Swashbucking themed, and would likely need a little tuning (as it splits skills into subgroups, so you'd likely need to define what's covered by what).

 

But it's nice. It uses Power Points as it's resource, but converting that to Luck would be straightforward, and is a fairly impressive list of pre-balanced stunts, that might be worth skimming for ideas, if nothing else.

(There's one - costs 3, means your DB is determined by Int+Pow instead of Siz+Str for a round. Which means that even the really Thinky characters can knock a thug for six when push-comes-to-shove)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mankcam

We have currently been using the Stunts system from Blood Tide and it does the trick. However there are times that it can sometimes feel closer to magical rather than just cinematic. I think I prefer another system as Stunts feel very similar to having Basic/Common Magic in RQ. I totally understand that the narrative trappings are entirely different, but I also feel the game mechanic would be better not reflecting a 'Powers' system for the kind of cinematics I want to portray (low to moderate pulp).

 

The Luck mechanic from CoC 7E pretty much covers want I want, and adjusting the depletion cost for particular situations in line with the trademark abilities of the characters makes good sense to me. I also prefer my house rules to be extensions of pre-existing rules within a system, so that is another reason why I am fiddling with the CoC 7E Luck rules. 

 

In regards to my own house rules for the Stretching Luck mechanic I think I may end up going for a Stretching Your Luck to be 1 Luck Point for 5% of skills points. It seems pretty cinematic, and I think it sounds reasonable, not too overpowered for low to mid pulp settings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sign in to comment.

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...